Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wanted: Contentment

Ages and ages ago, I mind-drafted a partial post about my journey to contentment. It is something I started thinking about months ago and I endeavored to be intentional in capturing contentment with what I have...living with less, the whole shebang.

But let me be clear - this wasn't my idea. It wasn't even Cory's idea. This was a pull that could have only come from One. I was not sure why He had lassoed us in this way. I'm still not entirely sure, but I'm mid-riddle, and the puzzle pieces are are lock-and-key.

We have gone from a quite comfortable, 2-income family, to an impending no-income family. Call me Opal Obvious, but I think there was good reason for us to begin paving a new road in our hearts. It was important for us to warm up to the idea. It was grace.

We have plenty to think about and I'm thanking my lucky stars that it's garden-weeding season.

So, what about contentment?

Well, I went here and canceled all of the catalogs I receive. I take that back - I canceled all but two. I will still happily arrange my bookshelves with the help of PB and stir up the gumption to wear honey colored cords with a pink shirt thanks to J. Crew. (Gotta love their free expert advice!) All the rest are outta here. I don't need multiple reminders every day of things I like but do not have. For me, these catalogs start to breed discontent with all that I have been blessed with. Plus, it's a waste of paper. (I have to offset those styrofoam plates with something.)

I have also shifted my thinking from this:

To this:

The pretty basket breathed her last breath. True, she was but a $12.99 TJ find, but in my prior life, I would have run out to find a suitable, pretty replacement. I would have classified it as not a big deal to spend the extra money on a pretty basket. And honestly, it's not a big deal. But it's all about the mind-set, baby. That's what I'm working on right now.

So, I happened upon Mr. Plastic, sequestered away in my creepy basement, and he called to me and now he lives with us, in the main house. He never could have dreamed it possible...

As for this little ladybug?

She's a walking reminder to me to be content with what I have. She's also, in this particular picture, a reminder to me that we all find our arms a bit of an awkward inconvenience, at times.

It's fun to dress a Sweet Petunia such as this, especially when she arrives on the heels of one who will only wear sports jerseys and thinks green on yellow on red is a very handsome combo.

But in the past, I would not have given her boys' flip flops. I know. It's super silly and most of you are probably all aghast that I ever cared to begin with. But I did. I wanted her to have cute shoes, to match her cute clothes, to match her cute self.

This time around, I was pleased as punch to find brand new flip flops from last year that Calvin never wore because they hurt "that place between my toes".

So what if they are blue and have a picture of a basketball guy? So what if they aren't pink or flowered?

She loves her new flip flops.

And they were free.

I like the thought that in the process of ridding myself of discontent and selfishness, I might be teaching my kiddos that not everything has to look a certain way or be brand new.

I like this ride we're on. And I can't wait to tell you more about what comes next.

67 comments:

  1. hmmm i should really cancel my catalogs too. Thanks for that.
    I love thrift stores. Don't ya love it when God opens your eyes to why he did something? I am going to be posting on this myself, soon. I think it is rare or maybe we just don't pay attention?

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  2. I'm afraid you have a lot to teach me about this. We aren't in a position where it's necessary, but as you say, it's a heart issue not a have issue. I'm looking forward to seeing God work in your lives!

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  3. We didn't have alot growing up, but as children it didn't matter to us. When we were young, the things that mattered were of a different substance than clothing or pretty things. We cared about the quality time that we spent, with our family and friends.

    Children don't really care much if you had to use a frozen vegetable, because the fresh are too expensive. Or your shoes are hand-me-downs. So don't let yourself feel guilty.

    What's important is what you do with your time, and how you teach them that such things aren't important in the eyes of who matters.

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  4. there's something much more beautiful in free, blue flops than at first glance...first glance is when we're looking at them through our tainted view of confusing need with want...but then we look at them with the new, sparkling clear view the Lord provides...we see who it is God is creating within us...and that, my friend, is beautiful. I love who God is creating within you. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. i really can't wait to hear more...
    letting go of the pressure to have certain things is something i am constantly working on.
    ~Tara

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  6. I battled discontentment about 3 years ago. Not for any particular reason, like you said. Not because I thought it would be a grand idea. Not because my husband was hounding me. Just because of the conviction. And I wasn't a big-spender to begin with. But discontentment comes from the heart not from the pocketbook. Blogs were a big problem for me. I had to cut myself off for several months until I had regained perspective. It's easy to covet. And it still creeps in every now and again, but I can mostly focus on the other good stuff in life that is way more important anyway - God, family, savoring the moments I'm blessed with.

    I seem to always be able to relate to your posts. It's comforting to know that other women struggle with the same things.

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  7. I love this post! You're a true inspiration:)

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  8. Awesome post. We are trying to go this route too. Last year my husband quit his job and we were making a go of making it on our art & music alone. Life was so wonderful when we had to rely on God to provide everything! Now that he is back to work- discontentment creeps in with each paycheck--I need this and that and this and that...........life IS better when you are poor!

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  9. I can't wait to hear about all the other things you're doing. This last year, my husband's business slowed way down too, and we lost a huge chunk of his salary. It makes you think differently. You're doing great not complaining about it. God always provides!

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  10. Good for you. It's liberating...letting go of perfection. Who's idea of perfection is it anyways?? So proud of you and so is HE:)

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  11. YOu are so right with this. The temptation to be discontent is around us everywhere. That is why I don't go to the mall. I know I will see something that I can't buy. I have had to make a conscious effort not to go to the places that will beckon me to spend a few bucks. We are twinsies on the plastic laundry basket, too.

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  12. great pics of Ruby!! thanks for posting

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  13. What would we ever do without God's grace?

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  14. You brought a tear to my eye. Welcome to the freedom. As you will recall you were a young gal once and your auntie chopped off you hair and made you a sun dress to look like you crazy haired cousin. We survived, and turned out smashingly. He helped us then and continues to lead us now. Love you, and Ruby's flip flops!

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  15. Love this post. Simplicity.

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  16. welcome to the club girl!

    it's amazing how perspectives change & we go where we have to in order to make things work. and why not??? there are so many lessons to be learned and some we don't learn until we have to. such a blessing:)

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  17. oh Opal Obvious, I love you!

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  18. Great post as always! Who cares if she's in his flip flops! She can rock them regardless :) Amazing how God prepares us for all our journeys before they arrive!

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  19. Living on a farm where you can't control the weather or what the markets will be taught me to not want so much. My kids were happy with a vacation to Six Flags or the state fair. Not taking big vacations, driving an older car and pinching pennies made it possible for me to stay home. I wouldn't trade those days for any fancy car or great 2 week vacation. I think my daughters really benefited from it. If you listen to them, they think they had everything. They didn't care the pool was a used one we re-set up or that we only took one big trip. Now, that they are all grown, out of college, and married, we finally have more money... but I still like to shop the bargains. All those years of auctions and junk stores made a collector outta me and baby I have some awesome cheap finds. I thank God every day for my many blessings. So happy you see the real importance of life. God is a great teacher!

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  20. I have been where you are at the moment. I BIG reduction in incomes, still is. Although my children are grown sometimes I am sad that I can't shower them with gifts. Speaking of my gown kids....I am so proud of them. They trade clothes with each other and friends, buy and sell gently used clothes and look for bargains. I think we all need to do this, regardless of our incomes. Suggestion....put some cute little ribbons on those blue flip flops. Your daughter just bursts with cuteness.

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  21. honey, I thought the blue flip flops were SUPPOSED to match her blue shirt when I first saw the picture....(after I saw how cute her adorable face was!!)

    I think we all battle contentment. I remind myself that is why Paul said "i have LEARNED to be content.." (paraphrase) I generally find when I am struglling with contentment (as I do often) if I do one of a few things it helps:

    Pray and thank God for my blessings till I can't think of any more (not happened yet), I get interrupted by a blessing or I fall asleep OR

    I give away something to help someone else. Somehow focusing on someone else's NEED helps remind me that my wants aren't that important.

    Great post as aways!

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  22. I, too, am trying this route. It's hard at times, but I try to keep in mind what is actually important and of course, I'm always thankful to God for what I do have. Simplicity is a lovely thing.

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  23. LOVE THIS! We would totally get along :) HE put this in my husband and my heart about a year or so ago as well, and the burden lifted is more than I can imagine. I never thought of it as being tied down to "stuff", but the freedom to give and embrace blessings has been worth WAY more than all the rest. (hence our Project Disconnect movement) Love hearing this and can't wait to hear more. So amazing to see how clearly HE is working in your life, and how boldly you're proclaiming it!

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  24. I did the same thing years ago...cancelled the catalogs, and now I don't pay much attention to any decorating blogs...it always makes you think, "Oh that would be so nice to have that, or I could that!, or maybe I'll just go buy this.." and really just like you said, discontentment sneaks in...you stop looking IN at what you have and how much you loved it just years, weeks, days ago, and causes you to look OUT and want something different.
    Great post.

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  25. Kudos to you for journeying to contentment, it's a land that is filled with milk and honey: if you'll only find it! I love that you're taking so many on your trip...there are scads of folks who may not have thought about it quite in this way. Wisdom, that's what you are gaining!
    XOXO
    Joni

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  26. If you ever need another plastic laundry basket just come on over - we have 2 white ones and an ugly forest green one :) So exciting.

    And I think the road to contentment is not always easy but it's worth it. It's always a struggle of sorts -- and to say I am there would be a lie -- but getting there none the less. Contentment is a good thing :) and of course I love to read your thoughts on it.

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  27. Girl, we couldn't be neck and neck on the exact same journey if we TRIED! I have just been asking Adrain to throw away all my PB mags for the SAME reasons!

    My word.

    Did God hook the two of us up or what? I just asked Adrain last night (as I was folding laundry in a equally functional but not cute basket) if it would be horribly "hick" for me to just hem some of JJ's long sleeved tees into short sleeved tees for the Summer. (I mean, I wont' be able to do that much longer... it's like making capris out of the highwater pants.)

    I wish we lived nearer to each other. I bet we could totally SWAP some good stories. Isn't this a wild journey?

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  28. I've tried several times to put this into writing and can't quite get it right so I always end up deleting it. For the past several months I've been convicted and have been contemplating "How am I different from the rest of the world?" I claim to have accepted this eternity-changing gift of grace that really should change every aspect of my life if I let it fully seep in and yet I look just like the rest of the world. I want to be different. Part of that is choosing to live with less, be a better steward of the resources He's given us, being content where we are. I'm starting to hear this same challenge has been placed in the heart of others and it makes me happy to know God's up to something good!

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  29. Love hearing about your journey.

    The flip flops made me smile, and reminded me of my poor daughter I always buy her boy stuff (b/c of having a younger brother) if I can get away with it: pjs, overalls, crocs. The funniest part is she is so into pink, but somehow she hasn't figured out I'm buying her "boy" stuff, or she would be appalled :).

    Hang in there, it does get easier, it is amazing how much stuff out there is actually free!

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  30. You are hands down my favorite blogger. You are real, real, real. How I love real in this unreal world!

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  31. You are such an inspiring and wise lady! :) Thanks for sharing your heart!

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  32. Your family is precious and what a beautiful reminder of what's important in life and where are focus should be. Blessings on your road to contentment!

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  33. I'm on this journey as well. I need to learn to be even more aware of this journey God has me on. Sometimes it's easier (for the moment, I must add) to ignore those calls of contentment and giving up some of which we only want, not need. Thank you for the reminder! :)

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  34. Garage sales and Goodwill are my favorite places to shop - you never know what treasure lurks there and I figure as fast as WeeMan outgrows clothes - well I'm not going to spend a bundle on things he won't be in for long.

    Have you heard of Angel Food Ministries? Hubby and I order from them once a month. We also get a fresh vegetable box and a meat box (last month we got yummy marinated chicken) They have a website where you can check and see if they have anything near you. It's not for low income families - it's for anyone trying to save money on groceries. The products are high quality too - the website is https://www.angelfoodministries.com/

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  35. thanks for your
    truth
    honesty
    kick in the tush

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  36. this post made me smile. Very wise and inspiring! Thank you!

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  37. I hear you! I will be waiting with bells on for more inspiration!! no pressure! =)

    My new "crowns" (teeth) have put a huge healthy dent in our budget... giving me the nudge I needed to realize that I will never have what I think I need... it is in the heart and attitude about what you Really need and the key to contentment is seeking, trusting and loving God! I hope that came out right ... I have a cold and I think it is nap time!

    Bless you dear one~ always ever so glad I "met you" =) you keep it REAL!

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  38. Sister, I am on the same ride with you. I became a single mom 5 years ago and an unemployed single mom (looking for a job) a year and a half ago. Honestly, I don't even know how I've made it through this past year and a half. I used to be the same "run right out and buy a new one" type of person without a thought. My kids had so many NEW clothes it was unreal. I find myself becoming DIScontent as well when I look through too many catalogs, magazines, blogs. I have really made an effort to be content and thank God for what I *do* have. It could be so much worse, right? :) And free flip flops? Woo hoo! FREE.IS.GOOD. My son's been wearing baby blue crocs that I bought for my daughter but she doesn't like them that much (real crocs at Big Lots for $10 for that matter). Yard sales and the thrift store are my best friends now. I can't imagine paying full price for so many things. I like the secondhand, thrift store me I've become. I've come very far. And you will too. (((Hugs)))

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  39. Wow, I just realized how long my comment was. hehe

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  40. I LOVE your honestly and candor. I am working on this as well. Jason and I have come a long, long way on it, too.

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  41. You keep goin' girl!!!!!!
    annie

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  42. you, my friend, could make a fortune as a writer. We all have to make changes and sacrifices that take work, ughhh.. you are doing a wonderful job. I think you already know that our true riches come from within.
    Have a great weekend.
    Beautiful blue flip flops on that princess.

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  43. I had to drop by and get my FPFG fix.

    I second that Leslie - fortune!

    When I was little I only wanted to wear boys' basketball shoes - I coulda swore they made me jump higher and girls shoes were too girlly :) I was such a TomBoy...

    Your girl is such a doll.

    Hugs, The Lady of the House

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  44. love it, love it, love it! love the lessons you are teaching your kids - such important reminders! :)

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  45. Lovely post. Lovely journey. Lovely little ladybug. Farmgirl, thanks for sharing your heart. It's a good heart.

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  46. I'm right there with you! It's not so much discontent as it is feeling guilty that I can't give my family more. God has used you to bless my family (my girls) with style that I couldn't have afforded. And I pray that you are also blessed. Good things come from penny pinching. My middle daughter told me that she didn't know how I made such good meals when we have empty cupboards. (We only have empty cupboards through the eyes of teens....nothing to unwrap and eat.)My point is to save money a person has to be more creative in decorating, cooking, dressing and blue flip flops. Your middle name is Creative. Happy to see your contentment! xoxo

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  47. I have never commented, I am a friend of a friend. :) I just live and breathe and so believe exactly what you just blogged about. About the plastic instead of the woven lined basket. About the blue old instead of the new fancy. Everything in it's time, and won't that time and God Himself just shape us in such a way? I can barely breathe sometimes thinking about it. We are young and the decisions we make now shape who we are known to be and who our children will become. There are real things that matter, and there are things that really do not. There will be time for all the things we want to look beautiful...to really look beautiful. But spending $12 on a basket now will not make anything beautiful. Thank you for offering up a blog that admits this, that shares tomato recipes, that is honest in pursuit of Christ. I hope it helps you lay things out in your heart while you type. I think it is worshipful, and I appreciate it.

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  48. wonderful post and something i need to be reminded of lots... thank you!

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  49. Hey friend!
    It has been awhile! I am just back from two months of travel and I am checking up on you. I loved this post, as usual. It is soooo you! I am praying God's best for you as you discover where he is taking you. I have learned it is always an adventure. Best wishes and...
    Hugs from Poland!
    Rhonda

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  50. What a nice post. We've laways been frugal, but still had the lucury of two incomes, although I had the ultimate luxury of working part-time. Now we've moved 500 miles away, away from all that I know, to start over in my husband's home state. He isn't working, but I am. My hosue needs a million things- paint, furniture, etc. But mostly I'm looking for contentment too.

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  51. Good stuff! It's easy to be discontent and to want every perfect and now. I find myself getting that way if I even look at too many 'decorating' blogs. All I see is new and shiny and pretty and perfect. Then I look around my house in despair. It's not good. God gives me everything I need just when I need it and in the end, those 'things' won't make my life one bit more fulfilled.

    This post is a good reminder for me. Thanks!
    -FringeGirl

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  52. What a beautiful post! I, too, battled with discontentment. This past year, though, the Lord gave me a swift kick in the pants. I have so much to be THANKFUL for. Your post is inspiring and reaffirms that life is not just about having the latest and the greatest. There is true freedom in having less, living simply, and focusing on what is eternal:). Have a great day!

    ~Julia

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  53. maybe you will be encouraged on my blog today, it is my "why" post.
    praying for you.
    Prudence

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  54. I'm on the same ride and I cannot believe what a blessing it is. This ride is changing my heart and exposing the ugly ways I valued the valueless, the unimportant, cared about opinions, whose? I don't know. This journey is one on holy ground. I'm honored to journey it. Growth, growth and more growth - finding security where it matters.

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  55. You have such a beautiful way of sharing honestly, from your heart. You remind us all of something vitally important -- something we probably mostly know in our heads but have a hard time putting into practice. It's hard to get rid of the "I wants"... thanks for the extra little incentive. Perhaps in the current economic situation many of us find ourselves in these days, "Keeping up with the Jones'" will have a whole new meaning. Here's to hoping...

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  56. Matthew 6: 25-34 ... and God will provide!

    It's amazing how God still gives us joy with little things ... never would have known they were boy flip flops :)

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  57. i have driven on your same road 2 times in the last 3 years. At first it is scary, and then you realize how strong you are and what you want your life to really be about. all you find you need, and sometimes the only thing you have, is trust in the Lord.

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  58. I love this post! I have been going through this process for a while now. We recently made a big move and I cleared out all that I thought was unnecessary...only to find that once we settled into the new place, we still have a lot that is unnecessary. I am slowly working on being content and I truly believe that getting rid of a lot of excess (even though we don't have the money to replace any of it) will help me be more content.

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  59. Beautiful post Flower Patch Farmgirl- so inspired. I plan to end the ridiculous amount of catalogs that seem never ending in my mail box.
    Thank you for you great thoughts and have a lovely weekend.

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  60. Enjoyed your post! I too am on the same road to contentment. Please keep posting your stops along the way as it is encouraging to those of us who "fallen" right behind you and are trying to get back on the road again! lol

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  61. What can I say?? I guess those many years of having a room with patch work carpet samples for carpeting,living without a T.V. on and off, and making do with a piece of plastic for a home made slip and slide, was worth it all! Not to mention living in 3 rooms because the rest of the house was closed off with blankets to keep the 3 rooms warm. And the continual smell of wood smoke. Ahh, those were the days! I love you and am proud of you and Cor growing and stretching in the Lord. I know you have put a smile on His face too.

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  62. Clicked over here from my friend's blog and what a lovely post to stumble upon! Living simply, or rather, more simply than before is a great thing.

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  63. Ha! Barbie Arms!! That is a funny and a half.
    I'll have to use that one.

    My hub refers to the GI pistol grip--wonder if he and Barbie can still hold hands with all of that stiff plastic.

    Your food looks magnificant--come over and cook, please.
    ox
    Lara

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  64. I totally agree with you about the catalogs. I feel the same way about the mall. When I spend to much time hanging out, I suddenly feel like I "need" a new this or that even though I was just fine before I saw it. LOL Your girl is precious!

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  65. I have been following your blog for a couple of months now, and really love what you have to say and the way you write. I said that and included a link to this post in my blog post today. (http://www.snugasabugbaby.com/?p=1105) Thank you so much for sharing!

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  66. I missed this post before and the title on the side caught my eye this morning. This is so good Shannan. I'll let you in on a secret. I do the same thing. You know that birthday bowl I posted about on my kitchen table? I took it back. I put that beautiful bouquet I bragged to you about on the table and it was so much prettier than the dumb bowl so I decided to save the money for something else we actually needed. I knew I could live without the silly bowl. Learning to be content is a long road for me. You wouldn't have even liked me 10 years ago. It was scary~ Now the main thing I need to work on is being content with the weather! And if you didn't tell me i would've thought those filp flops were for girls. Free is always good.

    oh and today I'm hoping to cut one gigantic hydrangea bouquet for my table. I hope it's not to early to cut them.

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