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Saturday, March 31, 2012

52 Fridays: Weekly Update #13


Here goes this week’s report. You can read more about my journey beginning with Week 1. Feel free to join me and Crystal in this journey.

  1. DAILY quiet time: It’s been a whirlwind week. We’ve traveled 3 of the past 4 days. WOW!! I may not have been able to read on my computer daily, but the Hubster and I were able to have some great discussions about Scripture while we drove! What a blessing that was!! Kinda’ makes me wish we could travel all the time. I get my emails through biblegateway.com and a women’s devotional through Proverbs 31 devotions. Such great tools be sure to check them out! 
  1. Weekly weight loss: I continue to struggle with finding the time to workout. I am still watching my portion controls until we can transition to “real food.” 
  1. Vintage Remedies 8 weeks to Real Foods: Printed the food pantry sheet and have begun an inventory. Now all I have to do is find recipes that will use up what I have!
My sweet daughter looking over a rail at some fish
  1. Homeschool Fun: Two of our travel days were to different Zoo’s. One local and one a couple hours away. We had so much fun seeing the new Sea Lion exhibit at our local zoo (we’re members, so we can go anytime). And the other zoo had quite a few different animals than our zoo has. It was so much fun!! Watch for my Tuesday post about how to make the most of your trip to the zoo!!! (Including free printables!) 
  1. Organization: Not much to report here. I’ve got great ideas, but lack either the funds or the time! Working on new, inexpensive options!! 
  1. Staying caught up: Well, with our travel days the laundry has suffered. I’m getting caught up as I type though. So hopefully I’ll be back on track tomorrow! On the other hand, the dishes have stayed caught up since we’ve been traveling! 
  1. Blog changes: I have run into a few snags, so I think my new look is going to be pushed back a week. I hope to have it up by April 9th now. I will keep you posted!!!
What is your favorite Scripture? Do you use a Bible Study book or just read from the Word?

Thank you so much for stopping by today! Have a blessed weekend!

Blessings,
Annette

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: Enjoying Your Kids...Even When They Drive You Crazy!



Mr. Mouse quietly tip-toes to the side of my bed. He stares at me for a moment before stroking my arm and then I hear, “Mommy? Mommy? You wake?” Oh sweet boyit’s only 6am. Do I look awake? UGH!! My feet hit the floor in utter protest, yet they carry me to the restroom to make myself presentable. I wipe my tired eyes and splash my face with water. I’ve got to wake up. My weary feet carry me down the hall to the kitchen and then I hear my daughter awaken. “Mommy? Mommy? Baby?” How can you resist those sweet, sweet voices in the morning? (Or anytime really?) Nevermind the fact that it’s only 6:20am and all the rest of the normal world is still asleep. By 6:45am all 4 kiddos have awakened and are ready for breakfast. I suppose I should feed them and get our day going. They’re not going back to sleep anyway!

Mr Mouse cheesing for the camera - Silly boy!
So, we move forward. I begin to run a load of laundry, unload the dishwasher, change diapers, get them dressed and begin my other daily chores. The day’s not looking too bad nowI’m on a roll. Go me! Go me! Then, I sit down to nurse the baby. All is going well until I notice my son is climbing the entertainment center to locate his new favorite movie and my older daughter has used my office chair to climb onto the desk and locate an ink pen (her latest fascination). I tell my son to get down before he falls, my daughter to quite writing on herself (she draws on her hands if she can’t find paper-silly girl), all while trying to maintain a latching position that doesn’t harm me or the baby! Okaymaybe today’s not going to be a piece of cake. HA! What was I thinking?

Bad new: These are all the noodles I had. Good News: They were
having great fun eating them off the floor!
Finish feeding the baby and get her settled into playtime again and come back to find my daughter has now removed her diaper and is dancing happily naked in the living room! WHAT?! While I’m putting a new diaper on my daughter, my younger son has now decided it’s time to dump my other son’s water on the floor. Now why would you do that? I ask. He looks at me with those sweet innocent eyes and says, “I dunno.” I get a towel to soak it up. Meanwhile as I had walked around the corner to place the towel on the floor, my daughter, whom I left on the changing table in the fury of trying to prevent a water spillage, has now peed all over the changing pad/table. REALLY?!?!? (OHdon’t turn me into child services, please! Our changing table is in our laundry/central closet area connected to the living room.) And I think to myselfthis day started out so well. What happened?

My oldest "talking" with his youngest sister. So sweet!
Okay, so first of all, know that I love my kids. I really do. But, let’s be honestthere are days they are just wildly out of control and literally climbing the walls. Those days drive me crazy!! I feel completely out-of-sorts and frankly, lost!

She loves this hat! She will find it even if I put it away for the summer!
She puts it on and immediately giggles.
During rainy days/weeks (like last week), my kids get a little more than wild. One day isn’t too bad, but multiple days in a row are just horrible for us. My kids get antsy, I get antsyit isn’t pretty.

So, I decided that I needed to figure out a way to Enjoy my kids even when they drive me crazy!

Here are some quick and easy things I came up with:

  1. Have tickle wars!! My kids are all ticklish on the back of their necks. I love to just grab them there and squeeze to watch them squirm and giggle. Then, they try to get me back and the war has begun!
  2. Take a break and just curl up on the couch or lie on the floor with them and snuggle! You could read to them, sing their favorite songs with them or just sit with them.
  3. Laugh at them when they do those cute things!! On tough days I find that I might have to look a little harder, but they’re there. They do some of the cutest and funniest things. I love watching them! For instance, my 3yo throws his hands up in the air and yells “WEEEEEEE!!!!!!” as we go around those curves getting on the highway. Every-time! But, it’s so stinkin’ cute and it makes me smile just thinking about it.
  4. Go outside and just ignore your chores for a day. They can wait!
  5. Get out the craft supplies and let them get creative! You might just want to monitor the glue and tape. Not that we’ve ever had anyone tape their mouth closed or glue their finger to their pants. That never happens!

What things have you done to release the tension in your house? Please share your tips and ideas or link back to a post! I would love to hear from you!!

Blessings,
Annette

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Baking Bits: April Fool's Cupcakes


April Fool’s Day is just around the corner. And last year I was feeling particularly saucy. Now, I don’t usually play practical jokes on anyone, not because they’re not funnybut I’m not good at them!

So last year, I really just wanted to pull a fun prank. While searching the internet for some fun and unique ideas, I came across these.


Spaghetti and Meatball cupcakes!! Yep, you read that right! These are cupcakes!! Aren’t they so fun? And, they’re super easy to make too!

I mostly followed the direction on this website, which also has a couple of other cute ideas for April Fool’s Day cupcakes. In fact, I might try my hand at those this year. Hmmmm

I did use a boxed cake mix, simply because I was in a hurry. And, it makes 24 cupcakes, which is exactly how many I needed. But, feel free to make your own from-scratch cupcakes.


I also used this buttercream icing recipe with some TOP SECRET tweaks I cannot reveal. No reallyI can’t!!! My bestie used to make cakes for people and she gave me her secret tweaks and I was sworn to secrecy. With a secret hand-shake and spit even! Okaymaybe not, but I still can’t reveal it. Sorry. But, trust me, the Wilton recipe is what hers is based on, so it will be just great too!


The other change I made was to the “meatballs.” We do not like Ferrara Rocher chocolates, so we made up some quick crispy rice treats and simply formed them into ball shapes. Then, dipped them in melted chocolate bark. Yes, they took a little more timebut, oh man were they yummy!! We did use strawberry jam for the “sauce” and boy was that even more delicious!

Sorry, this is the best picture I have of the "cheese" topping

Last, we sprinkled on the “Parmesan” cheese (aka White Chocolate bark shredded). What fun these were to make!! The Hubster doesn’t have an office of people to share these with, so I sent them to work with both of my parents, while keeping some for us here at home.

My mom had several ladies at work that could not even eat them because of the way they looked!! Isn’t that hilarious?!

These were super yummy cupcakes and so cute to boot don’t you think?!

What are some of your favorite April Fool’s Day pranks? Do you have any traditions for this momentous day? Please share your favorite prank(s) or link up to a post you’ve written on the subject!

Blessings,
Annette

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Teachable Tuesdays: Homeschool Series: Why I'm Glad I Homeschool


When I began thinking about Homeschooling my kids, I honestly never thought I would enjoy it so much. Let me clarify...I had always wanted to be a teacher and loved teaching young children at church. But, teaching your own kids everyday is a little different. In fact, it's downright scary when you think about it! I know I'm responsible for their care and well-being, but schooling? What if I fail? So many questions run through your head. Believe me...I probably thought of all of them.
But first, let me give you a few reasons why we chose to homeschool.

A "field trip" to a local Pumpkin Patch
1)        Our oldest is young for his grade (late June birthday).
2)     Our oldest is super smart in a lot of ways, yet immature because of his late birthday. Now I know all parents say this about their kids, but he learned to read 6 weeks into Kindergarten and he adds numbers in his head. You knowthose kinds of things.


Feeding a goat at the Pumpkin Patch
3)    Our oldest is big for his age. Not that he’s overweight, he’s just BIG! He’s going on 7yrs old and he’s 54.5” tall!!
4)    His brain processes things by asking questions and talking through things. That doesn’t go over well in a school setting.


Playing "house" in a cardboard box! Doesn't get better than that!!
5)    He is most definitely a kinesthetic learner. Translation: We would have been on speed dial by day two! Just sayin’!!

These are really just a few of the reasons. I have been asked this question a lot, so I am working on a post that explains more about our decision. But for now, know that these were only some of the reasons.

So, back to the point of this postwhy am I so glad I homeschool? Well, there are a number of reasons, so here we go!!


1)        With weeks like last week’s “Spring Break” when it’s a wet, soppy mess outsidewe get to stay in where it’s dry! Plus, we can play games and sneak in school time to make up days we’ve missed. All the while, the kids are still able to play and have fun!



2)     And when the weather is beautiful like today, we can sneak off to the Zoo with Daddy and have some great family time!



3)    The Hubster’s schedule is strange to say the least, being that he’s off Wednesdays & Thursdays. So, it’s nice that we can take off and do some fun, family activities on those days. This week we’re traveling to a different Zoo and to visit some friends in Missouri.
4)    Year-Round schooling!!! I didn’t think I would like this at all, but I love it!! Really I do! We can take off every Thursday to spend with Daddy and still have our weekends free too! It doesn’t get much better than that!


Helping Mommy cook!!
5)    We can take baths after a super messy science experiment - or after helping Mommy in the kitchen!!



6)    We can stay in our PJ’s all day if we want. (We don’t usually, as I like my kids dressed and ready to go, but occasionally it happens.)



7)     I don’t have to worry about scheduling grocery day, laundry day, naptimes or anything else around pick-up times at school!


Where else can you make a lunar lander with cupcake liners?
8)    We get to choose curriculum that works for our kids! Even if that means each one of them has a different Math or English curricula. We can also use the same curricula for some subjects, such as Science and History. They have multi-level activities for all ages. Plus, we can do hands-on activities as needed or allow my oldest to stand while doing his Math problems. They can learn how they learn best so they can thrive!!
The beautiful waterfall

Overlooking a beautiful waterfall in Arkansas
9)     We can personally monitor what our children are being taught!!! This is probably THE most important reason in my book. We teach our kids Christian values and character. That is priceless in my book!!


Bub reading to the middles...LOVE this picture!
They actually look like they're paying attention to him, don't they?
10)  I get to personally see that light bulb moment with my kids!!!! I cried tears of joy when our oldest read his first book by himself. Partly because I was so excited about this new world of exploration he just unlocked, but more importantly I was thrilled that I didn’t mess things up and he could actually read!!! Can I tell you that was my greatest source of stress going in? What if I can’t teach him to read? I would be the worst parent/teacher ever! I was terrified.


You can even do your school work in a plastic tote if you like!
11)      I love, love, LOVE having my kids home with me all day, every day! I know that is a crazy concept to some people, but for me it feels so natural. We are learning and growing together.


This picture of the middles "reading" to their baby sister melts my heart!
12)   I couldn’t end on an odd numberyes, I’m a little OCD. But, seriously, I love that we can take time off when needed (like during my Dad’s illness and death) and be able to make up time on our schedule.

What are your favorite reasons for Homeschooling? What do you enjoy most about teaching your children? Please share in the comments below or link-up to a post that you’ve written on why you homeschool or the benefits, etc.

Come back next Tuesday for another post in the Homeschool Series: “How You Can Homeschool Without Breaking the Bank!”

Blessings,
Annette


Linking up to these great parties:

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

What Joy Is MineGrowing Home, Far Above RubiesTeaching What is Good, Raising HomemakersRaising Mighty Arrows

Monday, March 26, 2012

Maid for Monday: How the Leftover Chart has saved our marriage!


Most people I know, physically or through the blog world, who cook for their families every night of the week have a leftover night. Whether it’s a weekly thing or every other week when things get piled up in the fridge, they have a leftover night (or some call it a FIY nightfix it yourself).

So, how do you organize your leftovers? I’ve been pondering that question for months now. I have been working to organize my pantry and freezer, so I can be intentional with my meal plans and work towards Whole Food eating and the organization sheets got me thinking. I could use one of those for my leftovers!!

I don’t know about you, but I love lists!! I love making them, looking at them, crossing things off of themI just love lists. In fact, it might be an unhealthy obsession I have. I have been known, on rare occasions, to make a list that told where my other lists were. Yes, I realize that makes me a nerd, but I’m over that fact and I fully embrace it now!!

You can download the PDF version here. 
Especially, when this list has saved our marriage! Okay, not that our marriage was in trouble to begin with, but leftover nights were quite stressful around our house. The Hubster would look at the meal plan and see it was leftover night and then proceed to open the refrigerator and stare into it like it was a blank canvas waiting for paint. Then, he would calmly ask, “Where are the leftovers?” SERIOUSLY?!?!? You mean, all the Tupperware/Rubbermaid storage containers didn’t give it away?

Okay, don't completely cringe at my fridge. It needs to be cleaned out badly. However...do you see the containers? Kinda hard to miss, don't ya think? And not just because the red arrows are giving them away to you right now, but even without them wouldn't you be able to see the "leftover" containers? And don't mind that I have an un-healthy obsession with buying pickles. Whether we're out of them or not I always have to buy more. I don't know what that's about. OH...and that nasty "cheese dip" on the top shelf...yeah...I didn't buy that - just for the record!


We probably ought to move on before our marriage takes a downward spiral.


So, once he's located the containers and pulled them out comes the all important question”How long ago did we have this? Is it still good?” And let me tell you, when I’m trying to wash up the littles and get them in their chairs all these slightly annoying questions (since the meal plan is neatly posted on the front of the inside refrigerator, of which he is currently staring into!!!) were simply not good for our marriage. Not to mention the kids are usually getting quite antsy by this time and are talking to me trying to carry on a conversation complete with unrecognizable words (you know those 2 & 3 yr old words that no one on earth understands) all the while their stomachs are wasting away into nothing (the 6yr old is quite dramatic these days) and the babe needs to be fed (something only I can cure at this time). Needless to say, meal times can get a little hectic around here.

So, I created this handy-dandy Leftover Chart to help save our marriage. I laminated it and use a sharpie (it’s okayit wipes off as long as its not left too long) to write in the meals. I post it on our freezer door in the garage (so it’s not unsightly in our kitchen). It works like a charm!! You can download the PDF version here.

And while I was at it, I made another Weekly Meal Plan page. Feel free to download and print as many as you like! I'm working on some other ones right now, so I hope to have those done soon! Stay tuned!!!

How do you keep track of your leftovers? Do you have a specific night planned for leftovers at your house?

Blessings,
Annette

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Monday Meals: Weekly Meal Plan


I can NOT believe we are going to hit April this week! I’m not sure if the whirlwind of activity our year has had thus far coupled with four busy and active kiddos has anything to do with it, but this year is just flying by! With that being said, I am ready for SPRING!!! Althoughwe didn’t have much of a winter, so our families allergies are not liking it. Nevertheless, we will press on and go outside as often as we can!

It also meansGRILLING SEASON is quickly approaching! YAY!!! I love when my hubby grills out chicken, turkey sausage and veggies! Man oh man could I eat those veggies all day, every day. Yum! My mouth is watering just thinking about it, so we better move on.

Here is this week’s YUMMY meal plan!

Monday 3/26
 Breakfast: Pop-Tarts
        Lunch: Chicken Nuggets
        Dinner: Leftovers
Tuesday 3/27
        Breakfast: Cereal
        Lunch: Cheese Quesadillas
        Dinner: Chicken & Rice, green beans
Wednesday 3/28
        Breakfast: Oatmeal
        Lunch: Fishsticks
        Dinner: Sloppy Joe Bake, baked beans
Thursday 3/29
        Breakfast: Pancakes & Bacon
 Lunch: out for family lunch time
 Dinner: Honey Chicken & Brown Rice
Friday 3/30
        Breakfast: Poptarts
        Lunch: Ramen Noodle Soup
        Dinner: Homemade Pizza
Saturday 3/31
        Breakfast: Dry Cereal
        Lunch: Cheese Tortillini (my kids love these!)
        Dinner: Spaghetti Red
Sunday 4/1
        Breakfast: Eggs w/ bacon & cheese
        Lunch: Italian Chicken, salad, homemade garlic bread
 Dinner: Leftovers

So, what’s on your Meal Plan for the week? Easter’s coming up next week, can you believe it? What’s your favorite Easter meal or tradition? Please share or link up to your own post.

Blessings,
Annette


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Scriptural Sundays: Unfailing Love


“Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O LORD, you preserve both man and beast. How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
Psalm 36:5-7 (NIV)

This verse has been transformed into one of my most favorite praise songs. For me, it is such a vivid reminder of God’s unfailing love. Today I taught 25 precious 4 & 5 yr olds at church. Yesthat was a LOT of them. But, they were so captivated by the Bible story and how much God cares for us that I envied them.

Our Bible story was actually taken from Matthew 6:25-34 right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus was speaking to thousands. Our lesson point was "I will trust God to take care of me." We have no reason to worry!! Now, most kids don’t worry about things, but they do understand trusting someone.

So, we did a little exercise in class about trust. They kids were paired up and one person had to close their eyes and be led through a maze of chairs. The one with their eyes closed had trust their partner. Now, to be honest I’m not sure how many of them really kept their eyes closed, I mean they are only 4 & 5. But I still think they got the idea. They had to trust someone to get them from point A to point B.

How often do we say we’re going to trust the Lord toyou fill in the blank and we don’t allow Him to work? Often times we still do whatever we can to “make” things happen, don’t we? I know we have. We have “borrowed” money to buy that house we just knew was in God’s plan. Only later to find out there was more wrong with it than we knew. But, had we taken the time to really seek God’s guidance and approval the outcome might have been very different.

As adults, I think it’s so much more difficult to fully trust God and take Him at his word. We have become so self-reliant that we often forget that God cares for even the smallest flower and the tiniest bird. His love is something our finite minds will likely never grasp. But, if we never give ourselves the chancewe may never know how deep and wide and long and high God’s love is for us.

Take a few moments to listen to this song. I hope you are blessed by this song as much as I am.

Your Love, Oh Lord by Third Day

Blessings dear friends,
Annette


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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sew its Saturday: Grow With Me albums


A couple weeks ago, I posted about doing Monthly Digital Cards for my babies. Even though digital is now my preferred method of scrapbooking, I still have a couple things I like in my traditional albums.

One of those is the “Grow with Me” album. A consultant friend of mine introduced this idea to me very early on in my consulting days. I didn’t have any children at the time, but I loved the idea so much that I knew I wanted to do it when we did have children.

It’s a quick and simple project you can do in a matter of minutes each month or year. Or however often you choose to update your album.

First, create a super cute title page! 

I love how this one turned out with all the different stickers that span a child’s life.

Next, start taking a TON of pictures!! You’ll need a good 8x10 each month for their first year and then you can do 15m, 18m, 21m and 2yrs. Then, just do them semi-annually. Maybe a birthday picture and school picture?

Keep in mind, these don’t always have to be professional ones. Sometimes I like our own pictures better than ones we’ve had done at a studio. Truth: The pictures in my oldest child's album are mostly professional though. He was our first. We wanted to really capture his first year...and I was maybe, just maybe a little obsessed with dressing him up for the month/holiday coming up! Isn't he so darn cute though?!

 I do try to get at least a family picture (and some singles) taken twice a year. I do summer and then Christmas for our cards.

 I like to throw in little touches of stickers that kind of coordinate to the outfit or time of year too. Just makes it a little more fun!

I mean...isn't that smile just the cutest thing?! And what about those chubby fingers?? I just love chubby fingers!!!

So, reallythis album takes literally minutes to update!! In fact, I need to get all my kids’ albums caught up. All it takes is printing some 8x10 photos and a few extra minutes during naptime.
How do you preserve your family memories? Do you like digital or traditional scrapbooking? What’s your favorite album?

Happy Memory Keeping!

Blessings,
Annette

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HookingupwithHoH

Friday, March 23, 2012

52 Fridays: Weekly Update #12




Here goes this week’s report. You can read more about my journey beginning with Week 1. Feel free to join me and Crystal in this journey.

  1. DAILY quiet time: This week I’ve not been getting on the computer daily. It’s been a rough week. I’m not sure why this week was worse than any of the past two months, but it was. I know that’s when I need to be in God’s Word even more, but I haven’t. I will do better! I get my emails through biblegateway.com and a women’s devotional through Proverbs 31 devotions. Such great tools be sure to check them out! 
  1. Weekly weight loss: Well, I still haven’t figured out when the best time to do the Wii Fit is, but I did get on it the other night and weigh myself. I have lost 1.1 lbs. in the last 13 days. Not much. A little less than I wanted to lose in 2 weeks, but at least it’s a loss and not a gain, right?! I guess cutting back on my portions has helped! 
  1. Vintage Remedies 8 weeks to Real Foods: Printed a food pantry inventory list from here. Plan to work on that today. Here’s to hoping! 
  1. Homeschool Fun: We had a rough week in this area. We did find some great online math games to help him. I also bought a math game for him. Saw some great experiments to try, but they didn’t fit our lesson. Hoping to do some of them in the next couple weeks. 
  1. Organization: Not much to report here. I’ve got great ideas, but lack either the funds or the time! Working on new, inexpensive options!! 
  1. Staying caught up: Kept up pretty good this week. Finishing my laundry today to get caught up again for the weekend. Dishes have been caught up all week!!! YAY!!! 
  1. Blog changes: I am still working on the design of my blog and getting things just the way I want them before we go live. But, I hope to have everything up and running for a reveal on April 2nd!!!! I will give you all fair warning before hand so you can be ready for the launch! I can NOT even tell you how excited I am!
 Are you a homeschooling mom? What are some of your favorite ways to “mix-it-up” a bit during the week to make it more fun and exciting?

Thank you so much for stopping by today! Have a blessed weekend!

Blessings,
Annette

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: Reality hits


My Dad holding my oldest daughter the day she was born.
The past few weeks have been rough to say the least. Some days I find myself able to get my housework/chores done, cook meals and take care of the kids with relative ease. And other dayslike todayI find myself struggling to keep back the tears.

It’s the little things that get me. My kids talking about Papa living with Jesus now or my oldest talking about Indiana Jones, which he watched the first time with my Dad. And sometimes, it’s things like thinking about leaving this house where my kids made so many memories with my Dad, where he helped my husband put the flooring in and paint before we moved in. I also think about the next time God blesses us with a miraclemy Dad will not be there to hold him/her. He’s always been there.

There’s nothing I can do about it. He’s gone. He’s really gone. He’s not coming back. There’s nothing that will change that. I miss him so much it hurts. I know many of you probably know the sting of death. Mandoes it sting!

But, I am so thankful that those same memories that bring tears also bring peace. Those memories are much more precious to me now. I will hold them close for the rest of my life. Pictures speak a thousand words to me now.

Today has been a rough one. A friend reminded me, the rain may be pouring down at the time but, the beautiful rainbow we saw today following the rainthat brings hope. Hope of God’s perfect will. Hope of God’s grace. Hope of God’s perfect love. And the hope of a new tomorrow.

Blessings dear friends,
Annette