Monday, January 31, 2011

We Are Proud to Introduce...

...the latest addition to the Fletcher family!
Jett Elliott Fletcher was born on Thursday, January 27, 2011
1:28pm
8 lbs. 5 oz
19 1/4 inches
I will share more of Jett's birth story very soon. In the meantime, please celebrate with us that Jett was born by successful VBAC with no complications. He is healthy and we came home on Saturday. My mom arrived safely on Thursday, and we got pictures of the kids and their Nana all meeting Jett for the first time. There have been so many answered prayers. God's gracious blessings have been clear in our lives this last week.
We are enjoying our bundle of joy and are all adjusting to being a family of six!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Two Days Until D-Day

My doctor is inducing me on Thursday. I'm 39 weeks 2 days pregnant today. I can't believe it's almost time!
I started sneezing and getting congested on Saturday afternoon. I tried to rest as much as I could on Sunday and Monday. I'm feeling much better today, but would appreciate continued prayers that I would be at full health by tomorrow. I would also appreciate prayers that the baby and my body would respond to the doctor breaking my water so I can avoid a repeat c-section.

I can't wait to introduce you to our little guy!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hosting a Thrifty Birthday Bash

Like many moms, I want my kids to have a fun birthday party to celebrate their life. After all, I'm really glad God chose to give me my kids. I want them to know they are celebrated.

However, like many moms, I don't have a lot of money to spend on a party. Well, I choose to not spend a lot of money on it. We all choose what we spend money on...but that's another topic.

So, how do you have a fun party and not break the bank?

I'll just share a few things I did for Jenna & Asa's party that I thought added to the fun and excitement but didn't take a lot from my budget.

First, we decided to do a party at home. This was a big debate in my mind this year. After all, turning 5 years old is sort of a milestone birthday to me. It marks the end of your toddler/preschool years and most kids start school when they are 5 (as mine will). It's a big year.

But, due to the cost (I called several places and found that I'd be spending at least $150 if we went to any of the fun spots my kids wanted) and the fact that I'm 9 months pregnant, we decided we would do a party at home. (It would have been much easier to postpone a home party than one planned at a venue with a deposit and date booked.)
Second thing, we decided on a theme. Each of the twins got to pick their own theme. It was quite easy. Jenna has been loving Strawberry Shortcake lately and Asa asked all last year when he could go tour the fire station with his friends (I think this came because his sister had a fire truck come to school and as a consolation I told him he could go take a tour with friends one day; while they forget a lot of things I say, some things stick FOREVER).

So, we would have a Strawberry Shortcake and Firefighter themed party. Yeah--red goes for both. That was a big help!

How do you celebrate two individual people's lives when they are born on the same day? A combo party! We spent the first hour with just girls, the second hour with boys and girls, and the third hour with just boys. The guests came to a 2-hour party that had games for their gender and food. We did the eating all together.
So, frugal tips:
  • treat bags: I got plain red bags and printed a label for each using graphics I found online. I filled the bags with items I purchased last year on clearance or this year on after-Christmas clearance. I found firefighter army guys at the Dollar Store and split the package amongst the boys. Jenna just happened to get firefighter tattoos from the preschool treasure box last week and let me have some for the boys.
  • cake: I bought a box cake mix and tub of icing and made my own. I made Strawberry Shortcake decorative picks using the same graphic I found online and toothpicks. I stuck a firefighter army guy in each of the boys' cupcakes. We had strawberry ice cream along with the cupcakes (and bonus of cupcakes...no cutting required).
  • games/activities: I found a Strawberry Shortcake coloring sheet online and printed one for each little girl. We used crayons/markers from our craft cabinet. I painted the girls' nails using pink/red paints I already had in my stash. We watched a short video I borrowed for free from our local rental store. The boys toured the fire station and it was free (plus they got a badge sticker and plastic hat)!
  • decorations: I pulled toys from my kids' rooms. Asa has 2 firefighter dress-up outfits, a big book with a fire truck on the front, and several fire trucks to play with. Jenna got a big Strawberry Shortcake toy in the morning, so I set it up on the table. I set out her Strawberry Shortcake coloring book. I bought 2 red plastic table cloths to cover the tables in our front living room, pulled the 3 red balloons I had from our balloon stash, bought streamers at the Dollar Store, and got red plates, cups, napkins, and utensils from the Dollar Store.
  • food: I ordered 6 pizzas from a local shop that had a 3/$9.99 deal. We served it along with chips and fruit punch (one big gallon was plenty).
My total cost for the kids' party was around $50, which divided by 2 kiddos is a mere $25 each. I'd say it wasn't bad. They had lots of fun and so did their friends. (You could easily save more money by not serving a meal or choosing an even less expensive option, like hotdogs. In addition, treat bags were my fun splurge. I enjoyed putting them together, but it's the first time I've ever done them. When my kids attend parties, I consider that treat enough!)

What's your favorite frugal way to celebrate an event?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Twins

The twins turned 5 years old yesterday! It's hard to believe that much time has passed since they entered this world. They added so much to our family the day they were born. Chaos and constant activity were the first things to come, but that eventually died down some.
Jenna is a people person. She loves to make people laugh and be silly. She also loves to cuddle (definitely more than the other two). She loves preschool and likes to help the teacher (got some of her mama's bossiness in her!). She watches out for others, especially little ones nearby. She is a nurturer. One of her favorite games to play is mama and baby.
Asa is creative. He can draw really well and likes to build with his legos and trio blocks. He loves it most when his daddy can build something with him. Asa also likes to climb and jump. For a long time he was our softy, but he certainly pulled out all the typical boy traits once he hit about 3 1/2 years old. He has the sweetest smile and a tender heart. He thrives when he gets one-on-one time and loves to play the Wii.
We began the twins' birthday with pancakes (cooked by Daddy). Then, we let them each open a birthday present. Jenna got a Strawberry Shortcake Cafe (to go along with her party) and Asa got Firefighter Rescue Heroes (to go along with his party). They got busy playing with their new toys while we finished setting up our house for their friends to arrive.
With the impending birth of our fourth kiddo, we wanted to keep the party small (to make it easier on Mama and just in case we had to postpone it). Each kiddo invited a few close friends. We decided to do a girl party, then a combo party, then a boy party. It flowed together nicely.Jenna had a Strawberry Shortcake theme. The girls arrived and colored a SS drawing. Then, we headed into the living room and they watched a SS video while they each got their nails painted (pink or red). By the time we were done, it was time to eat lunch.Boys arrived to join in the festivities and we all enjoyed pizza, chips, and punch followed by cake and ice cream. The twins opened some birthday presents (their friends were very generous!).
The girls grabbed their treat bags and headed out.Meanwhile, the boys headed out to tour the nearby Fire Station. The firefighters were very generous with their time and gave us a tour inside the fire station. Then, we headed into the bay for a look at the big fire engine and the ambulance. They let the kids climb inside both vehicles and even allowed them to sit on the gurney and pretend to be transported. Each kiddo got a fire hat and sticker as we left.Once we were back home, the boys all got fire engine tattoos and then it was time for them to grab a treat bag and head out.
The twins had lots of fun with their friends and then spent the afternoon checking out all their new toys.
They enjoyed phone calls from grandparents, a video from an aunt, and even got gift cards in the mail!
We spent the evening relaxing (I started sneezing and getting stuffy) and they rounded out their day of fun playing games on the Wii.
It's hard to believe they are 5 years old. They are so grown up. I imagine that by Thursday when we have a new baby in the family they will look even bigger. They are an incredible blessing and bring such joy to our lives.

Happy Birthday Jenna & Asa!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sewing Giveaway

My sweet friend Bonnie is an amazing seamstress. She is also very generous! Right now I have an amazing stash of newborn cloth diapers that were made by Bonnie and used on her youngest baby. I can't wait to use them on our little boy--which will be happening by the end of this week!

She was recently published in Stitch magazine and is doing a giveaway to celebrate. If you like to sew, go check out Bonnie's blog and enter to win a copy of the magazine (which includes the pattern) and some fabric to make the featured set! (If you don't have a baby to sew for, I can email you my address. {wink wink})
Bonnie also helped me sew up this very cute bag (her pattern) and has inspired me in my own sewing adventures. She and her family serve on staff with us here at GFA and she's even squeezed in time to work with the ministry on a sewing project, Sewing Hope for Asia!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Baby Update

Still preggo. I'm 38 weeks 5 days today. I had an appointment with my obstetrician yesterday and she says I'm progressing (ever so slowly) but the baby is still pretty "high". We made plans for my last week of pregnancy (next week). Having had a c-section with the twins, there are some risks involved in letting me go past my due date. She's concerned with possible scar separation if the baby gets too big. And, she won't induce because pitocin can cause uterine rupture. I'm not willing to take those risks either.

So, if baby boy doesn't come on his own before next Thursday, I will be going in at 5am to have my water broken. I'm hoping that does the trick and he decides to come on out on his own. However, if there are any problems, I will have a repeat c-section. Bottom line: our baby boy will be here by next Thursday evening!

I welcome your prayers for me, baby, and our family. Specifically, here are some things you might pray for:
  • baby boy to come on his own or respond well to the limited 'induction' the doctor does next Thursday, as well as for his overall health.
  • a healthy last week of pregnancy for me (the skin on top of my stomach hurts terribly bad at times from stretching, my blood pressure is great--pray it continues to be so, pray my body will go into labor on its own).
  • my other 3 kiddos. The twins turn 5 years old tomorrow! We are having a simple party for them. Pray for all 3 as we will all have adjustments once the baby arrives.
  • Joel has a kidney stone. It was diagnosed last Monday when he was in pain for the second day. He was fine by the end of the week and we thought it had passed. However, he woke up Wednesday this week with intense pain. With the help of a pain pill, he went to work and was relatively fine all day. He's been fine since then. Pray it passes and that he won't have any pain or issues when it comes time for the baby to arrive!
  • my mom will be coming on Thursday afternoon (the day of delivery) and is scheduled to arrive at 4:30pm. Pray for her safe travel. Ideally, I'd love for her to see the little man make his debut, but it's looking unlikely. Pray we will all have peace about it and that if there's any way for it to happen she will be here for it.
  • anything else you feel led to pray for!
I have a complete peace about our plan for the little guy's arrival. I'm "ready" (as I've been asked a lot lately). I'm still feeling very good. I have a few things I want to do to be more ready, like plan specific meals that my mom can make for our family while she's here and make a list of what I'm taking to the hospital.

Thanks for joining us in our excitement for our growing family!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sad About Superbowl

As you must know by now (if you've read my blog for long), I like to read my friend Heather's blog. She brings to light so many topics that are foreign to me. She's witty and funny and loves Jesus passionately. I just really enjoy following her blog.

My post on Martin Luther King Jr day was spawned because of her post on the same subject. I quoted her ...and the MLK quote she had posted.

Today, her topic is the reality of Sex Trafficking and how some north Texans are spreading the word about the issue since it will become more prevalent in coming weeks as thousands of people descend upon the metroplex for the Superbowl.

I could go on and on about how this issue is awful and horrible. I could tell you how sick to my stomach this makes me. But, instead, I want to commit to prayer.

I see Superbowl things every single day. Dollar Store, WalMart, billboards, commercials, on the news, radio...the fact that the Superbowl will be in Dallas is plastered everywhere!

Will you join with me and pray every time you see an ad or Superbowl stuff? Pray that children will be protected. Pray that law enforcement can do their job. Pray for protection. Pray for the enemy to be bound. Pray, pray, pray.

And, my friend Heather is offering some free tickets to an upcoming conference in Houston on the issue of human trafficking. I would love to attend the conference, but I won't be able to. Not only will I have a one month old baby boy, but my hubby is going to a conference that same weekend. However, YOU can sign up to win. And, then you can come spend a few hours with me and tell me everything you learned.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Food and Feeding

In typical Fletcher fashion, we headed over to one of our local Chick-fil-A restaurants last night for dinner. I say typical fashion because the kids dressed as princesses and a pirate. The location near us does Family Night each Tuesday and this week they offered a free kids meal to any child dressed as a pirate or princess. Hey, hey...of course I'll be there!
Even better--they also offer (every Tuesday) a free kids meal when you purchase a combo. So, Joel got a combo and I got a free kids meal for dinner too! You simply cannot beat eating Chick-fil-A for dinner when you can feed your family of 5 (or 6, depending on how you look at it) for under $6!
Yep, call me cheap. I choose to say "frugal" or "thrifty".

And, speaking of eating...

I just finished sewing up a nifty little nursing cover for myself.
With little man's due date just 10 days away, I figured I should prepare to be feeding him! I used a simple baby's blanket with Rylee, but I've heard that was so "yesterday" when it comes to being a cool mama. With the twins...yeah, there was no covering up when I was nursing them. Actually, I tandem nursed at home and then did one-at-a-time if we were out somewhere. But, given that I only nursed them for 10 weeks, we weren't 'out somewhere' very often. And, again, I used the "so yesterday" blanket.

So, now I can feed this little man with style. Isn't the fabric pretty?
Wanna make one for yourself or someone who's expecting? Head on over to Freshly Picked and use the tutorial; it's free! {I might come back and say never mind, but right now I'm thinking I would have made this about 3-5 inches less wide and not used such a large space between the straps and such a long piece of boning for the 'peep' top. But, as I said, I might like it just the way it is once there's a wiggly little one under there.}

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Day to Celebrate

Nope, I'm still pregnant and the twins' birthday isn't until Saturday. But, we have the day off school today (well, Rylee does; I'm always at work as a mom and my twins never have school on Monday). Ah, but I digress...

Today is a holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Honestly, I've never "celebrated" this day. I've never even given it a ton of thought.

I grew up in the south. I grew up in a pretty prejudice place. Despite the fact that my school was integrated and my life was not full of only white people, our lives were segregated. The black people in my town went to certain churches, lived in certain neighborhoods, and had their own friends. I went to one of the churches where white people went, lived in a white peoples neighborhood, and only had white little girls for friends.

Then, I moved.

I moved across the country. I lived next door to a Hispanic family. The parents spoke little English. The girl down the street came from a similar family. People in our neighborhood were from all different ethnic backgrounds. The kids at school didn't seem to notice what color someone was.

I spent the next 14 years of my life living there in the west. I struggled with my own prejudices. I had stopped going to church when we moved. When I was 14 the Lord drew me back and I gave my life to Him. I began to ask Him about a lot of things. One thing He began to teach me was about people. I realized one day as I talked to my mom that I hadn't even noticed that several people in our church had dark skin. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Well, our church here is still full of white people.
Mom: Yes, mostly. But, there are lots of people who aren't.
Me: Like who?
Mom: Martha, who greets you every week.
Me: Oh, yeah. I guess she isn't white, is she?
Mom: Kevin, who plays in the band.
Me: Oh, duh. Missed that.
Mom: name, name, name.
Me: I don't think I've ever thought about what color they were.
LIGHTBULB!

I think in that moment I stopped and praised God. I praised Him for the changes He had made in my heart that I no longer saw color when I looked at someone. I saw the person.

I'm not perfect. I still struggle with prejudices--not just regarding color. I cringe as I realize all the times I judge someone because of their clothing, house, smell, education, job, ....

But, this morning as I read through a few blogs, I came across my friend Heather's post about today's holiday. The following quotes brought me to tears.
my friend Heather writing:
I see the Kingdom of God in each of King's dreams. I imagine Jesus listening to this speech nodding along and saying, "Well done." I see Jesus every time I hear freedom proclaimed to the captives. He's there. Those are His words. His heart.

and this quote by Dr. King about the poor:
"God never intended for a group of people to live in superfluous, inordinate wealth while others live in abject, deadening poverty. God intends for all of His children to have the basic necessities of life, and He has left in this universe enough and to spare for that purpose. So I call upon you to bridge the gulf between abject poverty and superfluous wealth." In 1962, King preached, "I see hungry boys and girls in this nation and other nations and think about the fact that we spend more than a million dollars a day storing surplus food. And I say to myself 'I know where we can store that food free of charge - in the wrinkled stomachs of the millions of people in our nation and in this world who go to bed hungry at night.'"
-- Huffington Post

How dare I not celebrate today?

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man who loved Jesus with all his heart and took bold steps to proclaim His truth to the world around him. It is right and fitting that we honor him and all the freedoms he fought for. As we honor him, let us turn our focus to Jesus, who is the freedom giver. I don't think Dr. King would want us to dwell on him. He would want us to dwell on the Gospel and the ideas of freedom he fought for. They weren't new ideas from Dr. King. They were the King of King's plan all along!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

38 weeks and holding

I'm 38 weeks pregnant today. It's hard to believe we'll have another little one in our family in less than two weeks!
We are all excited for him to arrive.
The girls got their toenails painted this morning and the arrangement is that Asa gets a temporary tattoo when that happens (to keep him from wanting his toes painted). We had a tattoo that goes around your belly button. So, Asa put it on my belly! (I'll spare you the up close shot...trust me.)
The girls think my belly button is cool all flattened out. The skin is very soft.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friends

We are all excited to greet our new baby boy soon. Just 16 more days until the due date! (We will definitely have him by then since my doctor won't let me go past my due date, having had a c-section with my last pregnancy. But, I appreciate prayers that I will go into labor on my own so I can avoid a repeat c-section!)
Our friends--Sonya and her girls--came over this week to visit. The kids loved holding her baby, who is just 9 weeks old. (Sonya was the twins' teacher last year and they LOVE her to pieces!)

On another note...and I don't like shifting to such a harsh subject, but I got an email this morning from our GFA office in Australia asking us to pray for the flooding in their country. He sent along some pictures. I had heard of the flooding, but these pictures really drive it home. Please take a moment to thank God for His protection on your own family and then join me in praying for those who are affected as if you were in their shoes!

Pray as if you were in prison with me.