FASTING MIRACLE

i have a very strong belief in Fasting. and i’m not talking about sissy Fasting a.k.a. binging Saturday night and then eating as soon as you get home from church the next day.

on my mission I had a strong zone leader who would lead us in zone-wide 24 hour fasts. we would meet at say 5pm at the church to begin our fast, and then back again the next day at that same time. and even then, we would not break the fast until the entire zone arrived which was at least a half hour past the 24 hours. i remember one time my companion, in a moment of weakness, went to eat something during the fast and I gasped “Sister, we’re fasting!” she moaned back, “Oh but Sister I can’t do this, I’ve never fasted for 24 hours, I’m too weak!” but she did it! it was hard. we were walking a lot. it was hot and sweaty. but we did it!

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China Hong Kong Mission

i have had fasts answered so many times that i’m honestly losing track. the last fast I had answered I thought to myself, i need to write this down and start keeping a log of these miracles. but I didn’t. so here i am repenting and trying to start doing a better job of writing down the times i see Heavenly Father in my life so that I can share these experiences with my children, family, and everyone!

this past weekend we loaded the family up in our Mazda CX-9 to attend a Talent Show at the elementary school. our family fits perfectly in our CX-9 and what I mean by perfectly is snuggly. no extra seats. climbing over seats and people to get in. its a rowdy event getting our whole family of 7 in or out of it.

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2013

among the chaos, Kevin goes to back out of the driveway and finds he can’t get the car to shift out of Park. as this happens I remember earlier that day when I let Adam sit on my lap and help me steer into the garage. after i had turned off the car he had yanked on the shifter and I thought it was the cutest thing that he knew how to use it. could his little 3 year old strength have broken the shifter in that moment?!

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Joey driving through swamp land on Daddy’s lap

after 10 minutes of trying to get out of Park we realize that this is more than a fluke and we ain’t goin to no Talent Show. the kids head inside while Kevin and i stay out for about 1.5 hours dis-assembling the shifter, checking all the fuses, and researching possible problems. No luck.

i called around to a few places on Saturday, most were closed. one tire shop suggested it was a Transmission issue and to tow it to a Transmission shop (cha-ching!). it seemed so silly to have to tow it somewhere when it was still running.

we turned to our friends for recommendations because we really haven’t had any car trouble since moving to Kentucky beyond oil changes, tires, and brakes. several friends recommended a man in our church stake who is a mechanic but said that he is very busy and may not have time to work on our vehicle. i texted him about it and he said he’d come over later and look at it. he did not come.

saturday night we decided our family would fast that we could get the car fixed on Monday because I had some obligations on Tuesday that I really needed the car for. we also prayed that the repair would be inexpensive, especially in light of the $1100 we just spent to put in a new hot water heater and the $500 ER bill for Enoch’s thumb.

sunday evening, while still fasting, Kevin went to his first session of a Self-Reliance group he joined about Starting a Business. i had actually wanted him to choose one of the other groups about Getting an Education, or Improving your Employment but he said those topics didn’t interest him, his dream was to be his own boss. so he attended the group meeting for the first time and there he met the very same mechanic recommended to us by friends!

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my businessman in 2015

kevin shared some of his business ideas with the group including one about a government procurement portal and the mechanic exclaimed that he had served in the military and thought that was a brilliant, even life-saving idea. during the group, the mechanic spoke of his business and how he often has to turn customers away because he is so busy with his existing clientele. by the evening’s end Kevin had setup that the mechanic would come the next day to look at the car. what an answer to our fast! i believe that the mechanic would not have come out for us on Monday, a new customer who he did not know personally, if Kevin hadn’t met him at the business group.

the next day the mechanic found that the problem was a broken spring in the shifter assembly. he “broke it further” (his words) so that we could shift freely. when we asked him how much we owed him he said no charge. to be somewhat fair we paid him $20 and sent him off with a slice of Chocolate Chess Pie fresh from the oven. how’s that for inexpensive?

our fast was answered so immediately and perfectly. i know our Heavenly Father likes to bless our lives as we turn to Him for help. if you are looking for a miracle, I challenge you to make it a matter of fasting and prayer and see Him work in your life.

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Love, the Deans

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Pallet-style Wooden Fall Sign {DIY}

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Nothing gets you into the fall mood better than a good craft!

The past 8 falls we were living in Florida, which essentially means we got no Fall. Living in Florida you’d still start to get the fall anticipatory feeling, mostly induced by stores putting out Halloween goods. You’d even buy some cute boots and sweaters. By late October you’d grow desperate and put them on in the cool morning with high hopes for the fall-ness of the day. After 15 minutes outdoors you were sweating.

Since we moved to Kentucky this past winter I am beyond excited to experience a REAL fall. I see the leaves changing and falling. The temperatures still aren’t down to boots and sweater weather, but I have hope, and I’ve got ’em waiting in the wings 😉

Supplies:

  • 1×3 – cut to your desired width of sign (mine is 15″ wide)
  • 1×2 – cut to desired height of sign (mine is 9.5″)
  • Stain- I used 2 coats of miniwax Dark Walnut
  • Paint- I used craft paint, next time I would try Oil or Latex paint. I wasn’t impressed with the quality of the craft paint.
  • Readjustable AKA Stencil Vinyl– you can use my Silhouette file to cut the vinyl by commenting below.
  • Sanding sponge – From the Dollar Tree
  • Paintbrush
  • A rag – for staining
  • Jute – For sign hanger
  • Staples/staple gun– or you could probably improvise with thumb tacks or small nails

Instructions:

  1. Nail the 1x3s evenly spaced to the 1x2s
  2. Stain the wood and let dry for 1 day
  3. Use vinyl cutter to cut on vinyl the words and images (comment below to have the studio file emailed to you)
  4. Peel the negative of the words and images off while applying to wood- trickiest part!
  5. Paint 2 or 3 coats, letting dry between coats
  6. Once paint has dried (1 hour+) remove vinyl
  7. Sand. Get the edges good to show some bare wood, lightly sand some of the painted items to your liking.
  8. Cut Jute to preferred length and staple to back of sign.
  9. Hang and feel Fall in the air!

I got my finished product by combining ideas I found on a Houseful of Homemade and Simply Kierste

 

RV ROADTRIPS RULE!

If you ever saw this cartoon as a kid, odds are you have always dreamed of going on an RV trip.

i’ve been trying to get us on an RV trip for at least a year now but timing and finances never seemed to align. this past week we had a family reunion in NC planned that fell apart very last minute. i was left in a stressed out spot as Kevin was going to be home for the whole week but now we had nothing fun planned. i always have the RV trip in the back of my mind, so i scoured RV sites and after several calls and a spreadsheet analysis i came up with a game plan to finally get us out in an RV!

Family RV Trip tips

here are some THINGS I LEARNED, in case you want to start planning a fun RV trip for your family:

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1. you can’t just go off the /day fee: there are mileage fees, cleaning fees, insurance, prep fees, and generator fees. during my search i found it was a good deal if you got at least 150 free miles/day. and if the extra mileage fee was less than .30/mile. and don’t forget the cost of a place to plug-in each night in your budget.

2. negotiate! I found fees to be negotiable. for the mileage fee, they were willing to negotiate down to .20/mile for miles paid up front. if you know you will be traveling over the free mile allotment see if you can get a better rate paying up front. they were also willing to waive the cleaning fee if we did the cleaning ourselves. and if we were familiar with RVs, they would have waived the prep fee and let us do it ourselves. if theres something i’ve learned in my life recently its that you will surprised what you can make happen. never be afraid to ask, the worst they can say is no. Or as Alice Walker more eloquently puts it:

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.

3. be flexible in trip planning: the cost of the trip i had dreamed of (a trip up to Nashville TN) was looking to be too much when I tallied up the mileage fee and cost of gas. i was so bummed. then i remembered a mini-summer trip i had been looking into up on Amelia Island 200 miles from home. when i punched in those numbers we were within budget! so if your main goal is to experience an RV, consider a close to home destination.

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Anna Maria Island

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here are some OOPS! TO AVOID:

1. bedding (duh): as i looked at pictures of RVs, the back bed always had one of those tacky motel comforters on it. so i assumed the bed would come with bedding. and i’m sure that is true for some RVs, but this one was empty. i didn’t pack any bedding for my husband and i (i’m a notorious under packer- bringing nothing to light a fire on a camping trip might have happened before). he made the mistake of pumping the A/C down to 60 the first night and we both woke up so cold all through the night. we were kicking ourselves thinking of how comfortable we could have been all bundled up and cozy in our duvet and fluffy pillows if only we’d brought them.

2. turbulence! things get pretty bouncy when you’re driving, especially the farther back you are in the RV. sometimes i’ll admit i was kinda fearing for my life and i’d come up to see if like there had been a close call or something and kevin was just all normal driving. so don’t plan on cooking, showering etc while on the road (i had a fantasy of cooking while driving that did not come to fruition- curse that mickey mouse- taunting me with false hopes!). you can move around a bit, but be careful and sit or lay as much as you can while on the go. this is another reason to plan a near-to-home trip. the most fun is had while the RV is stopped.

3. ask questions: i assumed the TV would just work all the time but we found it only worked when the RV was plugged in. we told the boys we’d play a movie while we drove during bedtime hours the first night and ended up with some disappointed little guys 😦 also we didn’t quite grasp the water pump and tank. we ended up calling their hotline and muddled through but we might have saved some time (and possibly a small argument) if we had asked for a water tutorial before we left.

THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT AN RV:

1. so great for a mid-day break: vacations are exhausting. it was so nice to come back to the RV for afternoon nap time or nursing a baby.

IMG_1175family vacation nap time

^yes, he is sleeping like that lol

2. save on food costs: we only ate out for dinner each day since we could whip up breakfast and lunch super simple in the RV and eat in the A/C at our cozy built-in table.

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3. fun while driving: no “are we there yet?” or “mom, he’s bugging me!” or having to stop for potty breaks or accidents from not stopping enough for potty breaks

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good luck and have fun on your adventure!

BEAUTIFUL BOY

i love on Mr. Peabody & Sherman the part where this song plays. the movie was recently released on Netflix. so I’ve heard it a few times since Adam was born. it makes me think of all my beautiful boys, especially my newest addition.

hospital newborn shots have come a long way from the mug shot pose you typically see, even just in the 8 years I’ve been having babies.

Adam

i usually only buy one pose for each child to go in their file. i like comparing them to each other. and seeing how different they each look from their newborn selves.

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but i couldn’t pick just one that i liked this time, so we got a few…

Adam1and the spoiling of the baby of the family begins!
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HAPPY VALENTINES

kevin has come a long way. i love to remind him of the gift he gave me our first valentines. we were poor college students, engaged to be married. we set a budget to spend on each other. $10 each.

back at his apartment we exchanged gifts. he brought out his pillow. on it, in black permanent marker, he had scrawled “I love you!”, and sprayed it with his cologne. with difficulty i kept myself from laughing at it. “Look inside”, he said. inside was deathcab for cutie’s newly released cd, which i knew he was more eager to have than me.

here we are 8 valentines later and i can now look forward to his valentine gifts. today he made pink chocolate chip pancakes with fresh strawberries for all of us this morning. and gave me a dozen of the cutest valentines cupcakes to enjoy over the next few days.

happy valentines day!

STACKED MOTHERS RING

we have entered a new era here. all the babies have been born. we are complete. no more members to join for at least another 10 years when they get to marriage age. i am proud of my 5 sons and all that they are and will become.

as i thought about this last week, while anticipating baby adam’s arrival, i decided i needed something physical to display like a name tag telling the world what i have that is so valuable to me.

my mom had mentioned a handstamped, birthstone mothers necklace. but as i thought about it. i am a bit of a necklace collector and like to coordinate my necklace to what i’m wearing.  i worried a mothers necklace would not get enough wear time. i wanted something i would wear everyday.

i also ruled out bracelets, because they can get in the way and i don’t see myself wearing them unless i’m dressing up.

a ring seemed like the way to go. i’m always good at wearing my wedding ring and don’t often add in other rings on my hands. i can dedicate my left hand to my husband and my right to my boys. together they equal the most important people to me in this world.

i figured i would go with birthstones, as is the tradition. but as i pictured how all their birth stones would look together (blue, red, white, purple) i wasn’t feeling it. nor did i think a purple gem really represents a boy, ya know?

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so i thought something like this could work, with just blue gems (blue=boy)

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but then i stumbled across these adorable initial heart rings on etsy. they are tiny enough that i can stack all 5 initials with varied bands in-between and fit all my boys on my ring finger.

il_570xN.693541211_3ulvsimple but i think i will love it.

 

HOW TO MAKE A PRINTABLE GRAPHIC WITHOUT PHOTOSHOP

when i wanted to do a family newsletter last year i set out looking at my options. i’m always looking for the cheapest (or freeest) way to do things. i am not enough of a photographer or graphic designer to feel justified investing in Photoshop, but from looking around it seemed that was really what i needed if i was going to put the newsletter together on my own. so i found a free alternative: GIMP

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i work on a mac. it took a little bit of tech-saviness to get the download unpacked, installed, and launched but they do a good job of leading you through the process. (hey its free, can’t be too easy)

then i took a family newsletter i had found on pinterest that i loved and went to work making changes to it. this particular template was the photoshop file (.psd). when i opened it in GIMP it automatically converted it to a .xcf, which is their equivalent to .psd. all the layers Lacey had used in creating it were there ready to personalize.

problem was i didn’t know the first thing about using GIMP. luckily youtube is the land of tutorials. i watched a few beginner videos on using GIMP:

Edit text on image  (the file i chose had some text in image format, not typeable, so i had to use the eraser tool to erase, for example the name of their family, and type over the white space the name of our family)

GIMP tutorial

How to download fonts (i needed to add some unique text, not only edit already existing text)

Editing

How to move objects (learned how to move around the boy graphics so they lined up nicely)

Gimp for beginners

with a little trial and error i changed this

e8544a2a2b9be32016d96cb860340a7dto that

year-in-review-editall before it was time to pick the kids up from school 😉

you’ll want to download a number of fonts for a graphic like this. pinterest is a great source for finding cute, free fonts and scoping out which fonts pair well together.

as for the boy and pregnant woman graphics. i found them via Google and just brought them in as .png files (GIMP automatically creates a new layer for you), moved them where i liked and resized.

so

STEP 1: get GIMP

STEP 2: find a .psd or .xcf to use as your base template that you can manipulate (or if you are brave start from scratch bringing in your own background .png file)

STEP 3: watch youtube GIMP beginner tutorials

STEP 4: start making changes to your template as you learn techinques from the videos

STEP 5: download fun free fonts and graphics to make the template work for you