Pirate loves to hide. If there is a closet, a cabinet, a blanket, or a box, she will find a way to hide. It's her thing. This morning I heard knocking and banging coming from her room. 


Off I went to rescue my child from whatever terror laid in store for us. Maybe she had  trapped herself under her old pack-n-play. Maybe she climbed on top of her dresser and couldn't find a way down. Maybe it was worse.... Did zombies have my baby?  I've been told I have an overactive imagination, great thing for an overprotective mommy like myself.

"MAMA, HELP PLEASE!" The knocking and the banging continued. It only took me under 30 seconds to get to her. Knock, knock, knock. It came from her closet. I opened her door and there stood my two year old, smiling brightly, not even scared.

"Thanks, Mommmm! ... HIDE!"

She re-shut her door and started knocking on it again. Pirate's closet door, for some reason, is the only door in our home that she can't open. It's a little different than the other doorknobs and I think she has the least amount of practice with it. We're not worried, she'll get it. :)

Until then, I have a solution. I stole the idea off of either Pinterest or Etsy, but it was a bit more expensive than I was up for. At home, all it took was an elastic headband that came in a 6pk at the dollar store.

#1 Find an elastic headband.

#2 Fold it in half

#3 Hook it to one side of the door.

#4 Hook it to the other side

#5 Line it up so it covers up, and holds down, the  faceplate.

 All done! And it still closes securely.

Now Pirate can go back to hiding!

A lady in my bible study posted this and I wanted to share it with you today.
"Should we not do all things- including giving thanks- to the glory of God? And God is not glorified if the foundation of our gratitude is the worth of the gift and not the excellency of the Giver. If gratitude is not rooted in the beauty of God before the gift, it is disguised idolatry. May God grant us a heart to delight in Him for who He is so that all our gratitude for His gifts we be the echo of our joy in the excellency of the Giver." John Piper
I love the chunk of truth that it is. 

Oh my gosh, where have I been the last several weeks? I've barely been on Blogger, that's for sure! I have to say, I've missed it. 

Pirate and I just got back from a week of sunshine, sand and water. It was wonderful.We came back to the harsh, chilly reality of winter - but the comfort of being home and together as a family makes it all better!

I thought I'd share a few warm, sunny pictures of our vacation with you while I try to get back in the swing of things and start blogging again.

Pirate's first time in the ocean, she didn't want to get out!

Thanks for sticking with me! I hope wherever you are, you're having a safe and wonderful week.

I love genealogy. I love trying to piece together the puzzle of how my family came to be. 

I know that I've grown up in the internet age where uncovering key details is a matter of knowing what and how to search; and the farthest I have to travel for information is to my kitchen table.

I can utilize Google to no end, search databases and forums, Ancestry websites abound, public records are easy to see, and there are even families with their own family tree blogs. 

I think today's searching is about being creative and relentless. It's nearly impossible to not take technology and how easily accessible information is today; but every speck of info that is out there was typed up and uploaded by somebody.  

I was on familysearch.org today when I saw something asking for volunteers to "make more of these records searchable online, so everyone can find their ancestors. This same volunteer indexing effort made the 1940 US Census available for searching within five months of its public release. Indexing is a fun challenge that rewards both the volunteer and the future researcher." {GO HERE!} It gives directions of how people can help from home just using the internet. I'm actually excited about the possibility of actually being involved in the genealogy world this way.

Anyway, I thought it might a pretty unique and worthwhile experience. Check it out!

It's September. 
It is the ninth month of a twelve month year. 
Summer has just barely ended. 
Do you want to know what I'm seeing in the stores?! 

-- gasp! -- CHRISTMAS STUFF!!!

I have a pretty consistant routine each year, and it starts when I see Santa Claus waltz in front of the Macy's store at the end of the parade - He brings in the Christmas season! 
Last year, I really struggled to get into the Christmas spirit. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade came and went. I saw Santa but I felt more like the Grinch and the holidays - and almost everyone else - could shove it. In retrospect, I might have {definitely} needed to read my bible more and visit a tanning bed for some Vitamin D. 
I remember it already being December. I was sitting in McDonald's on my laptop sulking about all the Christmas decor that I couldn't have and the fact that we didn't have our own place to put a tree and over-decorate with tinsel and lights. We were still living with the in-laws at the time and had no idea that we were a week away from moving into our apartment! I'd like to quickly add that they were very kind and generous in letting us live with them. 

So there I was drinking my tenth refill of sweet tea and having my self-indulgent pity party when I saw this awesome Christmas video from T-Mobile on YouTube. Suddenly I got a grip, and OH MAN, I was ready for Christmas! In less than four minutes I had made a complete 180', I was joyful and excited. I wouldn't dare to actually give the credit to YouTube. I can only imagine that this is the part of the story where God decided that it was time to show my husband some kindness and snap me out of my slump. 

{I am thankful to God that He is so gracious and merciful and does not merely sit and wait on me to come to my senses on my own.}

Like I said in the beginning, it's only September.
The stores are ready for Christmas.
And this year:

It hit me Sunday night! It hit me hard and I was forced to make a new Pinterest board! I don't know if it's the weather, or if it's the fact that we're in our own apartment. Or maybe it's the fact that I've been introduced to Pinterest this year, (lol) but I can't wait to celebrate the birth of our Savior with my family. I can't wait to start traditions, watch our favorite Christmas movies, make an advent calendar, and so many other things to just enjoy our time together! 

My question for everyone is this: 
What is your favorite Christmas tradition, or what is a cool one that you've thought about starting?  

Just a tiny reminder: 
If you're reading this  blog post in your email, hitting the "reply" button won't send me anything. But if you come to the blog
joyfulwifeandmom.blogspot.com you can leave 
a comment below! I love reading comments!

In the spring, I "stumbled upon" a blog by the name of  Women Living Well. It is written by a Christian lady by the name of Courtney. She is a wife, a mom, a homeschooler, a bible study leader, a blogger and I'm sure much more. 

When I say I stumbled upon this blog, I want to make it very clear that I don't actually believe my seemingly random internet searches really deserve the credit; I'm a firm believer that God is Sovereign over the biggest and smallest things - including Google searches.

Where am I going with this? You'll see.

The Lord's timing is quite perfect. Quite often I unwind by sitting in front of the computer and looking up whatever pops in my head: potty training, bread recipes, mom hairstyles, bible studies, GPS trackers for toddlers, sewing pattern, etc. You get the point! So there I was Google-ing and blog-hopping, and I found this Proverbs 31 Bible Study through another blogger I follow. It started that Monday. (I blogged about it when I first started it.) It was nearly 3 months long, and really such a blessing to me and hopefully that spreads to my family. I have so much to say about the study, but I will wait for a future post to elaborate much more!

I hope my excitement is more contagious than just plain weird. :) There are two things that are coming up soon that I wanted to share with you:

First, there is a new bible study starting September 17th on Colossians. You can find it RIGHT HERE!! on the sister site, Good Morning Girls.

Second, I couldn't sleep last night so browsing that Women Living Well site, I came across a series starting this Monday on marriage. I've always cringed at the thought of marriage seminars or marital counseling because, in my mind, I've always linked that with couples who are crashing, burning and throwing their fine china across the room. But I don't think that is the case! Courtney is teaming up with a few other Christian-wife bloggers and it looks like it will be very good. You can find more info on this RIGHT HERE!!

And before I forget, ALL of these resources are FREE. I don't know about you, but that was a big deal to me! :)

OK, I am done with my bible study show-and-tell. I just really wanted to share these with everyone!

A few days ago - let's call it Tuesday - I woke up with a plan. I was going to Betty Crocker my way around the kitchen and rock my family's world. I had come across a very intriguing recipe via Pinterest and decided that this was going to be breakfast. Mr. Incredible wasn't up yet, but Pirate was. So I sat her in front of Super Why! and got started. 

What comes next is the true story of how I made Swirly Cupcakes (also known on Tuesday as Breakfast Cupcakes). These Swirly Cupcakes are no plain-Jane baked good; these contain what all [my] dreams are made of: sugar, butter and vibrant color! The Pinterest link was a dud, but it had a great picture and the description was good enough that I was able to improvise.

My good friend Google supplied me with a recipe for Plain Vanilla Cupcakes. So I followed the directions and tried to fight the temptation to taste the batter.

I lined my cupcake tray with these shiny metallic liners that Mr. Incredible brought home a little while back. 

I filled the liners with the yummy cupcake batter. I actually overfilled them, my recipe was actually meant to yield 18 cupcakes, but my pan could hold 12. It didn't hurt them any!

This is where it gets fun.
I put a dab of food coloring in each cupcake and swirled it around with a knife until it was... well... swirly!

Seriously... how cool does that look?!

Finally, I baked it. My instructions told me to put them in for 15-18 minutes, but Google hasn't met my oven. She cooks a little fast.
About 12 minutes later, I had these.
It was time to wake the husband and grab the pirate.  

ME:  Mr. Incredible, do you want to get up?  Are you hungry?

MR. INCREDIBLE:  What did you make?

ME:  I made Breakfast Cupcakes.

MR. INCREDIBLE:  .......what?

ME: Breakfast Cupcakes!

MR. INCREDIBLE: um.... what's in them?

ME:  Flour ... Sugar ... an Egg ... Milk ... Baking Powder ... Salt ... Butter ..

MR. INCREDIBLE:  What makes them Breakfast Cupcakes?

ME: Because we're eating them for breakfast. :)

I'd love to add that as a family we regularly eat healthy and nutritious meals.
This was a treat that generated smiles and happiness. 
And that's OK. 
I'd also love to add that there were none left by dinner!

Love Times Three:
Our True Story of A Polygamous Marriage
by: Joe, Alina, Vicki, and Valerie Darger
Love Times Three is a true story without an ending. Written by polygamists themselves, the reader is given a glimpse into "plural marriage" as lived out inside and outside of the Darger house.

I picked this book up at the library a few weeks ago. I really wasn't sure what to expect; I will say that while I do not share their beliefs that didn't stop me from being fascinated by their story and family dynamic. 

Their book really gives a unique perspective to what I imagine is one of America's least advertised lifestyles. It starts in the beginning with their own childhoods and growing up in polygamist culture of Fundamental Mormonism; it continues with their ever growing family, their joys and their burdens, and how they live a polygamous lifestyle in modern America. 

Of course, it's a wee bit more complicated. Let me throw in some background information. In Utah, where they live, polygamy is a third degree felony which adds a few more complications to the love trapezoid. If you shared my curiosity and wondered, how are they able to write a book - putting their lifestyle into print - and not be imprisoned? Fortunately for them, the state is currently looking the other way as long as those in the polygamous relationship are all consenting adults, and no other crimes are being committed. (Utah & Polygamy)

I believe that their goal in writing Love Times Three is not to proselytize their faith, or to flaunt their forbidden lifestyle. I stated in the beginning that I don't share their beliefs, that hasn't changed.  I do think that their main goal in leaving the shadows is to change the everyday perception and stigma that polygamy is linked to. It is written well and a very addictive read; I laughed, I gasped, I even had to pick my jaw up off the ground once or twice -- but by the end I would say it was worth stepping out of my own comfort bubble to learn about someone else.  

(Love times Three pg. 226)

1 husband
3 wives
24 children (23 living)
11 boys
13 girls

5 stepchildren, Joe
7 children, Alina
8 children, Vicki
9 children, Val
19 biological children (18 living), Joe

3  Twenty-somthings
9  Teenagers
8  between 5-12 years old
1 Preschooler
2  Toddlers

$500-700 Weekly Grocery Bill
36 rolls of toilet paper used weekly
10 family cars
10 loads of laundry daily
10 cell phones
6 laptop computers
5 desktop computers
3-5 loaves homemade bread consumed daily
5 kids in diapers at one time
5 bathrooms
4 TV's
2 gallons of milk consumed daily

Parenting:  someone should really write a book about it!
I'm going to sound cliche for a moment, forgive me. I've learned more things in the last 22 months than I have in my entire life. I'm not talking about quantity of new facts - though I could probably make a decent argument for that as well - but I mean real, hearty, and significant details that are necessary for daily life. It's amazing the extra compartment that God has given my mind to store all the random Pirate-related items.

1. Don't leave the coffee cup unattended or within Pirate's reach. Also, Pirate's reach is ALWAYS much higher than you think it is.

2. Messes are easier to clean up than hurt feelings. Even when it's flour. 

3. Other people will have opinions and they will outnumber you. At times, it will be overwhelming and frustrating. I've learned the hard way that I should handle their well-intentioned concerns and opinions with more grace and tact then oozing wrath and adrenaline.   

 4. Sometimes you have to just cry it out. Things will get better.

5. Equal rights for all persons. Even bears. 

 6. "Welcome to parenthood, children will scare the crap out of you" - my mom. I think that's a mostly accurate quote, I did just have a c-section. I don't know if you can tell, but Pirate is a fearless froggie at the top of the stairs.

7. IF YOU WAKE HER, YOU WILL NOT PASS GO OR COLLECT $200. Yes, that's her big-girl car seat strapped into a high chair.

8. The park is not called a park. It's called "WEEEEEEEEE!!!"

9. I'm not Pirate's favorite parent if Daddy's home, and I can't take that personally. It's really a beautiful thing.

10. Let her help! It makes her feel special and big. She loves it.

11. Give her big smooches, it helps prepare her for the embarrassing teenage years when I give her hugs and kisses in front of her friends!

12. Sinful nature is not a myth. I have little teeth marks in my arm to prove it.

13. Don't fall asleep on the couch when she has crayons and a blank wall.

14. I have to stick up for Pirate - sometimes I'll come off as crazy and overprotective. Even people who love her immensely won't necessarily see things the same way that I do, and that's OK. But I have to be ready, should the situation arise, to give my daughter what she needs - whether that's a nap, some quiet time away from the chaos, or something completely different.

15. She grows WAY TOO QUICKLY! She'll be two in October. That's craziness.

I was talking to a friend of mine who is going through a difficult time, and I had to fight the urge to recite the cliche and practically useless advice we're often given:
 "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!"

Is that suggesting that when life gets rough, we need something to drink? (lol). I don't know about you, but as much as I love lemons, I would much prefer drinking something else. Which leaves the question, what should we do with the lemons? 
  1. Revitalize your wooden cutting board. I watched a lady do this on youtube. To get rid of the smell and help sanitize the cutting board, cut a lemon in half and rub it all over the board. That is certainly a whole lot child-safe then using mass amounts of bleach like I've been doing. 
  2. Deodorize your garbage disposal. If you've been blessed with a garbage disposal, you can use lemons to help with the stink. Save leftover lemons and toss them down the drain. Can I say it? Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!
  3. Whiten your clothes. I use lemon juice on my daughter's cloth diapers. Every so often, her diapers will have stains or just look sad. I put lemon juice in a spray bottle, give the inside of her diapers a good misting and hang them out in the sun. No bleach, no chemicals. From what I've read, you could also wash your clothes (I'm guessing just the whites) in your washer as normal, and during the rinse cycle, pour in about a cup of lemon juice. Then hang in the sun to dry.
  4. Make Hairspray. I found this Hairspray Tutorial online, I haven't tried it yet; but when I do I'll blog about it. With a little boiling water, some lemons, and a spray bottle; you could be well on your way to having some eco-friendly and inexpensive hairspray.
  5. Drink Homemade Strawberry Lemonade. And if you must make lemonade, why not make it special? I found this recipe here. It looks fabulous! Sugar, water, lemons, and strawberries!  

I couldn't upload a heartbreaking picture without adding a picture of her being happy again. I'm coming to realize that lemons, like several of life's challenges, only last for a season. 

I was introduced to a very free, very easy, very awesome online photo editor when Pirate was still a tiny thing!
I just wanted to share it with you. 
Let me present Be Funky!

Our little Pirate makes us laugh! As we watch her grow and react to the the world around her, from her point of view and understanding, we are constantly amazed.
Pirate takes delight in caring for her stuffed animals and dolls (we call them all her "babies"). She will hold them, love on them, give them kisses and make them "go night night". From sharing her diapers to sharing her food with them, this little girl loves her babies. Part of her morning routine, before I will pick her up over the baby gate at the entrance to her room, she has to go get her sippy cup of water from the night before. Countless are the times she has come back carrying her bottle and an armful of babies. If she can get me to hold some for her, she generally goes back for more. 
No baby gets left behind!

What makes me think of my little girl with her babies? I'm glad you asked! I walked into the bathroom tonight and this is what I found: 

How sweet and precious of this little child to take her little bear to go potty! I just had to share this with you.

It's been HOT!
Water the plants.
Water the toddler!
I couldn't capture her smiles in time, but she loved it!

What better way to know what we're eating then to grow it ourselves! My husband is the diligent gardener and I, his helper, am the diligent water girl. 

Let me start by sharing this verse that I found during this gardening experience. One day, if God is so gracious to allow it, when we have our own house with a large garden I'd like this on a nice wooden sign. (I've got big dreams!)

"So neither the one who plants 
nor the one who waters is anything,
but only God, who makes things grow."
 (1 Corinthians 3:7)

When my Mr. Incredible started putting our garden together this year, I was skeptical.  We moved into an apartment in December and I didn't see how we were going to be able to grow much of anything when we didn't have any ground to plant it in. I was worried that we were going to take up too much space. I didn't know what the neighbors were going to think of the fish fertilizer's lasting aroma. I worried about the water bill. And the list went on and on, if there was a reason I could come up with to be "cautious" about our gardening, I thought of it. Don't get me wrong, I loved the idea of growing our own stuff - but what little experience I had with gardening was years ago, and definitely during a time when I didn't care where my food came from. All in all, I feared that it was going to be more trouble than it was worth. But Mr. Incredible was confident and excited. Then he told me that this was something that he felt he was supposed to do, so how could I be a hindrance to that?

Mr. Incredible started the majority of our plants off as seeds; diligently growing them in his little greenhouse before it even got warm out. He had a handy dandy little Soil Blocker that he picked up online at Johnny Selected Seeds. He made these rectangle clumps of dirt and carefully put the seeds in each one. Add water + sunshine + love, and before we knew it they were sprouting and growing. 

That's when the man started using up all the spare room on my porch! ) He would bring home flower pots and gardening things almost every week. I was still iffy and self-conscious  about the garden, but I knew how strongly he felt about it. Soon he had the our whole side of the sidewalk filled with plants. We had peppers, zucchinni, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppermint, strawberries, potatoes, and flowers. I'm sure I'm missing stuff, but he did an amazing job! And I soon realized that I, too, was sold on our garden!

We're still picking some of our tomatoes and the potatoes will get dug up soon. The plants never bothered the neighbors; even the pizza guy who asked my neighbor if, by chance, our tomato plant was actually marijuana didn't seem to mind it being there. Imagine that! We even shared some of our vegetables and got to know the neighbors a bit more. 

I looked at our plants today, and I'll be sad to see my sidewalk cleared for the winter. Not all of our plants made it through, we had a few casualties due to bugs and worms. But we had quite a little harvest. There's something so satisfying about know that we grew what is on our plates! Oh my goodness, Mr. Incredible made some cream cheese stuffed peppers wrapped in bacon the other day, it was LEGENDARY! ;) Mr. Incredible is already planning our garden over the winter and next year, and I look forward to it wholeheartedly. 

Anyone who has known me for any length of time more than likely knows of my great love for the crispy, salty, delicious piece of pig! There's just something so right about the sizzling unkosher delight. 

I've heard it called the "gateway meat" for vegetarians. I was raised Seventh-Day Adventist; and until I was 15 I was sheltered from things like bacon, lobster, shrimp, sausage -- the list goes on. So when I had my first taste of the Three Little Pigs, I was hooked!

Where did that come from? Mr. Incredible and I have been talking about our eating habits lately and what changes we'd like to make. I found a very good menu planning site for busy families: Once A Month Mom. This site provides menus for anywhere from a week to an entire month, you can make it all in advance and freeze it, and pop it in the oven as needed. Saves time, money and you know you have meals already - for us, cutting the temptation to pack up and drive to McDonald's!

They have at least six specific menus to fit varying families' needs! I'm very excited. We actually talked about some Vegetarian/Vegan meals, they certainly look good! We said that we could actually see ourselves going that route if it wasn't for bacon! Anyway we'll see how it goes. :)

One very cool thing I found on YouTube, for Vegetarians who are itching for the yummy sizzling goodness of bacon, is this: Shiitake Mushroom Bacon! Enjoy!!!

My daughter is such a cute piece of art!

Grandpa George Kulick

Don't let me forget!!
Check out these other wonderful blogs!
The last couple days/nights have been nuts at our house. Pirate has started teething again and her sleep schedule (and subsequently ours) is ALLLLLLLLL messed up!

Next week looks like a big week for us. I plan to continue my Ancestry post with sharing a few little tricks that I've learned along the way, I might post about our garden, I'll attempt to get mass amounts of red crayon off my living room wall,  and who know what else!

Have a great weekend!

Look at those teeth! 
And that's not even 1/4 of them! I love my smiley girl!