December 18, 2008

Keeping Connected With Far-Away Family During Christmas

This is our first Christmas where we are not going to join the traveling hoards and make our way home. While we are sad that we are missing our family and some of our favorite Christmas traditions, we are glad to be relaxing at home instead of fighting crowds in the airports.

We have been trying to think of a creative way to be connected with our family on Christmas day. More than just the conference call or pass the telephone that our family traditionally did with relatives that moved away. Thankfully, we live in the 21st century where technology can bring our distant family into our living room on Christmas morning. Thanks to Web cams, they don't have to miss out completely on our two little girls experiencing the joy that Christmas morning brings. In the past, we have web-chatted with our family for a few minutes at a time to catch up on the latest goings on in our lives and to have the girls see and be seen by their grandparents. This Christmas it will serve as our link to our family.

There are many different options for video chatting. Skype, ichat, Aim, MSN, etc. A newer one though allows more than two cams to be connected at a time. Tokbox. With Tokbox, we can connect with both sets of grandparents and maybe even an uncle in another part of the country at the same time. It also works well whether you have a Mac or a PC. So check it out, and see if you can connect your family this Christmas beyond the Merry Christmas pass the phone game.

www.tokbox.com

December 10, 2008

I have to get back to you on this...

I mentioned earlier that I was going to try out emealz.com and let you know how I like it. Well, I did some further research on www.emealz.com and I decided against it. The best I could do on their plans was 70$ a week. That 70$ was only for dinner foods. So on top of that I would have to get breakfast and lunch makings. Currently, we spend about $70 (maybe a little bit more, but not much more) a week for all of our food and household goods. It's not spectacular but it is better than $70 just for dinner. I did like their variety of foods and having a list that you could take and know just about exactly what you were going to spend. But for us, emealz is not the cost-effective option that we are looking for. So it's my meal plan for now!

December 8, 2008

A Warm Christmas Memory

I was thinking recently about my favorite Christmas memories. Probably my fondest memory of Christmas is not in anyway connected to gifts I received or carols I sung or candy I ate. In fact, it should have been a sad Christmas. My family was dealing with the new and frightening reality that it was going to be my Grandmother's last Christmas. From here on out I will refer to her As Grammie because that is how she was known and I really can't call her anything else. Some of the family decided to live in denial, that's how they dealt with it. But for many of us, we embraced this Christmas as an opportunity to enjoy Christmas one last time with this loved matriarch. We listened with interest to Grammie's stories, which in the past were too long and too uninteresting to bother with. We showered her with gifts. What do you get a person facing a terminal illness? As I look back on that Christmas, the gifts we gave Grammie were our way of hugging her through through the tough months that lay ahead of her. A wool blanket for Grammie's legs, a down robe and down slippers to keep her frail body warm, soft caps for her head to cover the evidience of her treatments, all gifts to keep her as comfortable as we could, even when we weren't there. Four months later, as I visited with my Grammie for the last time, she was embraced by the hugs of the entire family. It was a warm afternoon, but Grammie, who was not much more than her skeleton, was bundled in her down robe, down slippers and wool blanket. Days later, it was in those hugs that she passed. Surrounded by family.

November 26, 2008

Wonderful Wednesday!


I haven't done one of these in a while so I thought I would revive Wonderful Wednesday. Today's Wonderful Wednesday product is my Apple/Peeler/Corer/Slicer from The Pampered Chef. Its a mouthful but without it, there would be no apple pie for Thanksgiving. I seriously don't have the patience to hand cut and especially peel 5 apples for my apple pie. The APCS does it all in a few cranks of the wheel. Really it's an old fashioned tool that does the job perfectly. They can't really improve on this one. Even making it automatic would not be helpful because I still like to think of my pie as "handmade." If you don't have one, I would suggest you get one, it will change your life! Apple cobblers become a breeze, dried apple slices, so easy, apple pies a dream, and your kids can do it too!

November 20, 2008

My Home Is Not A Haven: Today's List

OK so the list thing worked too well for me. I haven't made a list since last Friday and what has happened? My home has become a dump, definitely not a haven. So I guess I have to make a list to get anything done. Even if I don't check everything off of my list, it will be much more productive than sitting here thinking "what should I do now?" I also found that writing the list down on paper for only me to see doesn't help me either. Posting it here where everyone sees (including my husband) gives me much more accountability. So here is today's list, may it make me productive today.

* Clean Kitchen counters
* Laundry (all day)
* Shopping List (took longer than I thought)
* Lunch (Grilled Cheese! YUM)
* Shopping for next week (Done! But I can't believe how much Thanksgiving is costing this year!)
* Nap (short and sweet)
* Pick up Kindergartener
* Baths for the girls
* Dinner (Pizza - need something fast)
* Kindergarten program at the school
* Bedtime for kids
* Make brownies or cookies for Tomorrow's Thanksgiving Feast at school
* Crash into bed

I'm tired now, I need a nap, but that will have to wait. Too much to do today!

November 14, 2008

Making My Home a Haven: Inviting

Thank you Monica from The Homespun Heart! It has been a revealing, fun week for me this week.

Well, since my husband has been away on business for most of the last month and a half, we are really just looking forward to a quiet weekend at home. But with Thanksgiving around the corner we are hoping that our friends will be joining us. With family far away, we find it lonely around the holidays. Most of our friends live close enough to drive home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it would take us at least 3 days just to drive home! Leaving us the only ones in town, it seems. This year we have invited some new friends for Thanksgiving and though they haven't officially gotten back to us yet, we are hoping to have them for Turkey day. On that note, I want to encourage those of you who have family close to invite at least one of your friends who is far from family to join yours for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Being invited to be part of a family helps a little when your miss your family.

So here is my plan for the day, not much in inviting. We're carrying fun Thursday over to Friday!
*Get 5 year old to school - complete with lunch in hand today!
*Library with 3 year old
*local Firehouse with our playgroup!
*Dollar menu lunch
*Straighten up counter tops
*Laundry
*pick up playroom and media room with help from 3 year old
*pick up 5 year old from school (devotion and knitting in the carpool line)
*Read/play with the girls
*dinner- Pizza tonight!
*Mommy goes scrapbooking!

So that's our day. A mixture of fun and duty today. Hope all of you have a blessed day!

November 13, 2008

Day 4 update: Fun

Today's plan was pretty simple: have fun! So we did.

I only had a couple of to-dos other than playing with my girls and I was able to complete them.

I got my 5 year old to school unscathed.
Ran to Super Target and got some fruit and the needed bread,
Ran home to make a lunch for my 5 year old then ran it to school.
Played Candy land, Chutes and Ladders and Dominoes with my 3 year old. How does she always win?
Had lunch
Made Cookies (burned one pan thanks to my timer that makes one weak chirp when it goes off)
Ate Cookies
Napped with 3 year old
Picked up 5 year old
Announced my plan to feed the ducks and go to the park which was turned down for playing in the driveway with their various vehicles and chalk. (5 year old doesn't like ducks?)
Still playing while I am typing.
Getting ready for dinner and a night of more fun (so glad Daddy is home!)

Since I want to focus on being real with everyone, I want to be clear that things do get derailed from time to time, it's really an unspoken part of my plan. I'm not usually a lister but after this week of being focused on my home, I think I will make more lists. Like I said in my comment on the last post, I feel like I was able to get a lot more done. And if something were to get in the way, oh well, I can put whatever got missed on my list another day. I'll get there eventually!

And on a spiritual note, today I found myself thinking of those dealing with cancer a lot today. I think its because of my knitting. I decided to pray over the piece that I'm attempting to make for someone I don't even know, who may not even know they are sick yet. I pray for healing and comfort and that they know the maker of the universe and his love.

Hope everyone else has had a successful day! Thanks again Monica from The Homespun Heart for hosting this challenge.

Pictures from Day 3 and 4
The beginning of the knitting project (ok, I had to start over a couple of times after this picture)

The first game with the 3 year old (can you see how far ahead the red marker is from the blue? Yep, that's me in the blue, she caught all the breaks and I wasn't even making it easy for her)

Making My Home a Haven Day 4: Fun

Fun! Woo Hoo!

I'm sure our house hasn't been too much fun lately thanks to my husband being out of town (he's back!) and me being sick. Today we are going to do something fun! Here's my list for today.

Get 5 year old to school on time and fed (hair brushed is a bonus)
Make another quick grocery run (I have to get bread to replace the 1/2 of a loaf that I discovered with a big bubble hole in it- that gives me an idea)
Play board games with the 3 year old (Candyland and memory)
Lunch
Make cookies with the 3 year old
Nap
Pick up 5 year old
Take a walk to the pond by our house and feed defective bread to the ducks and then on to the park
Dinner: Roast Beef and Augratin Potatoes (back to real meals since hubby is home)
Read books and spend family time together in the play room (maybe more board games)
Bedtime


Got to go have fun! hope y'all do to!

November 12, 2008

Day 3 update

Well, today I accomplished a lot, even if it wasn't exactly everything on my list. The day went like this:

*Got the child to school (properly dressed and even fed!)
*Picked up pictures at Walmart, among a few other things
*Got home and organized pictures
*Got started on sanding the cabinet. I worked on it until my hand cramped up and got about 40% covered
*Bonus project: spray painted frame that I am going to use to display Girls' artwork
*Lunch
*Another Bonus: began teaching myself to knit. I really want to join a group at our church knitting Chemo Caps for Cancer patients so I am trying to learn how to do it. Uh, it was interesting.
*Skipped nap (bad idea)
*Picked up 5 year old. Started feeling sick at this point.
*Laid down while girls played around me- not getting better.
*Didn't go to church because I started feeling really sick just cooking dinner (Husband's out of town, so I couldn't pass the responsibility)
*Managed to eat some noodles but couldn't even stand the smell of the hotdogs!
*Still feeling sick and can't wait until bed time!!


So at least it wasn't a total failure. Now I think I'll go care for my body and lay down.

Making My home a Haven Day 3: Cared For

Today I had to come up with a project that I have been putting off that needs some attention. Hmmm....what to do. Since I always have everything done that I want to have done, I have to be creative with this one. NOT! I have a lot of things that I could put on this list today. I could put them all on my to do list today but then I would feel defeated by the end of the day so that's not really productive. So I think I will choose a couple and hope that I get it done!

To Do:
Get 5 year old to school
Pick up pictures from Walmart (didn't make my walmart run yesterday)
Organize pictures for Scrapbooking crop on Friday night
Sand Radio cabinet in the garage to prep for painting (will probably take the rest of the day)
Lunch
More sanding
Nap
Pick up 5 year old (devotion in the car while waiting in line)
After school snack/read books with the girls
Dinner- Probably Hot Dogs tonight because of Church
Wednesday night church activities

Wow, that still looks like a long list. Wish me luck! I added the link to my radio cabinet, maybe you have an idea of what to do with it. Right now I just plan to prep it, then I will decided to paint or restore it.

November 11, 2008

The end of day 2, Making My Home a Haven

Thanks Monica from The Homespun Heart for hosting this challenge!

I'm loving reading all of the comments and I'm hoping to be able to return some of those comments tonight, if I don't fall asleep typing. That would be unfortunate because I hate drool on the keyboard. :-)

Anyway, today I was able to accomplish everything on my list! I was through everything but the floors when I was hit with a crazy headache. I pushed through it for an hour then had to take a nap. That was difficult because my 3 year old decided she didn't want a nap today. Anyway, I did get the floors done in the evening. I will admit though instead of swiffering and sweeping the tile floors, I just used my vacuum cleaner on the bare floor setting (did I mention how much I love my new vacuum cleaner?) I also got two bonus things done today. A HUGE pile of laundry folded and PUT AWAY! Yeah, quite an accomplishment. Also, a very long talk with my dear friend, which was very fun and the highlight of my day.

I'm excited to see what tomorrow brings.

After Pictures of Day 1 and Day 2 Plan

Making my home a haven...




Here are my after pictures from yesterday. You probably couldn't tell what was under all that stuff! I felt really good because I got all of this done before lunch. In addition to the effectiveness of lists, I learned that I really don't have much of an excuse to not get things straightened up. It didn't take that long and I felt more comfortable in my house all day long! Instead of walking into the kitchen and being stressed by the mess, the energy from the room was much more positive. And my bedroom felt more like a retreat at the end of the night. The only thing I didn't get to was the car, but it really isn't bad, just need to throw out some papers that seem to accumulate.

So today I am going to follow the Challenge and Clean. Here is my list for today:

Clean up Kitchen dishes
Clean downstairs bathrooms (upstairs bathrooms don't get used very much)
Vacuum downstairs and the stairs (I vacuumed upstairs last weekend) I LOVE my new vacuum cleaner so this will be fun!
Sweep and Swiffer tile floors
Clean the inside of the fridge
Clean out the Microwave
Wipe up the front of the oven and the dishwasher
Lunch
Walmart run
Nap (I might as well admit to my blogging friends that I am 7 weeks pregnant and need to take about a 30 min nap in the middle of the day to function)
Read devotional while waiting for daughter in carpool line
After school Snack and read with the girls
Dinner- Chick Fil A school night (Like I need an excuse)

My devotional this week is on Leah. Interesting character. She was the unwanted bride of Jacob. Her sister was the one he wanted but their father tricked Jacob into marrying Leah first then working more years to get Rachel, the wanted sister. What discord must have existed between the sisters for all of those years. I will pray that my home and yours is one of peace and unity.

November 10, 2008

Making My Home a Haven: Day 1

I am taking the challenge from Monica of "the homespun heart" to create a Haven out of my home. Today's challenge is to tidy up, declutter and to make time for quiet time with God. Here is my plan for the day:

Laundry (all day)
Unload clean dishes from the dishwasher
Declutter kitchen counters
lunch
Declutter bedroom dressers and side tables
A hot cocoa break with my 3 year old
Declutter bathroom counter
Devotional time in the car while waiting in carpool line for my 5 year old (Women of the Bible, great book!)
Re-organize the cabinets and shelf in the laundry room
Declutter the car!

Whew! Kind of a lot! but I think I can do it if I start now! If you want to join in the Making My Home a Haven Challenge this week, check out "the homespun heart." I will post before and after pictures too. Here is my before - I'm being vulnerable here!



Update: I am more than half way through my list and it is only 11am! Sweet. Something I have learned: Lists are good motivators. (duh) I should have known that making a list would motivate me, I love to cross things off and get that sense of accomplishment!

November 8, 2008

Turkey Day Menu


I love cooking for Thanksgiving! Its a new joy I have discovered since moving away from family in Washington. I get to select the menu , which means I don't have to make or smell oyster stuffing!! I also leave out cranberry sauce because none of us like it. I do make yams (sweet potatoes here in Texas) but only one serving for my husband.
So here is our Turkey Day Menu (along with where I got my recipes), my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Roast Breast of Turkey with apple scented pan gravy - Pampered Chef Celebrations Cook Book.
- Great for our family of four we get plenty of left overs and if you want dark meat just get a couple of turkey legs to the pan. I've safely served 7 adults and 2 kids this turkey and still had a little left overs. Its great because it only takes a couple of hours and requires very little prep.

Sage, Sausage & Apple dressing- Food network
- I started the apple theme because we are from Washington and it was our homage to home, but the dressing and the gravy are extremely tasty and now a staple at our Turkey table.

Mashed Potatoes- From the Box
- I have never been able to do real mashed potatoes from potato to bowl so I resort to the Potato buds from the box. I always add fresh garlic or herb and garlic spice mix and lots of butter!

Candied Yams (Sweet Potatoes)- Nothing special: butter, marshmallows and yams
- I HATE Candied yams but my husband seems to like them so I make a small dish for him. Its really simple and makes him happy.

Green Bean Casserole- Food Network- Alton Brown's Best Ever Green Bean Casserole
- Of course! What would Thanksgiving be without Green Beans Casserole? I think it would be the same as no Turkey.

Herb Carrots- Another simple one: steamed carrots with fresh parsley and topped with butter at the last minute.
- Just adds another great vegetable to the table. And they taste so yummy!

Creamed Corn- From the can
- Nothing special but it is another must have for my husband, the girls like it too.

Corn Bread- Package recipe
- this one is for me. I love corn bread, top it off with honey butter and you're set!

Rolls
- I think I'm going to try to make these from scratch this year if I find a good recipe

Dessert (the best part)

Pumpkin Pie- Food Network - Paula Deen!!
- Yeah, it has a ton of butter in it (it is Paula Deen's recipe), but it is sooooo worth it!! Her Pumpkin Gooey Cake is great also!!

Speedy Strussle Apple Pie- Pampered Chef Season's Best s/s 01 Cook Book
- I have to have apple pie too.

Frosty Pumpkin Dessert- Pampered Chef Celebrations Cook Book
- Another alternative to the pumpkin pie but I usually make all three of these desserts because I can't decide which one to do without!!

There it is, my Turkey day dinner.

November 4, 2008

Don't tell me your vote doesn't matter.

I just don't want to hear it because it isn't true. You may make the argument that one little vote isn't going to make a difference. But add up all of the people who stayed home and didn't vote because they felt their vote didn't make a difference, they might make a difference. Tomorrow, I don't want to be one of the people who didn't have any say. And frankly, if you don't vote, your opinion of the election and its outcome doesn't matter to me.

That's my opinion. For what it's worth.

November 3, 2008

Cleaning On My Mind

All I can think about today is how much cleaning I need to do in this house. This is the day that I curse all 3000 square feet of our house! So here are some of my cleaning practices that might help you get your square feet shiny and clean. Some of these ideas have been collected from other sources, so I can't take full credit, but it really helps to have a game plan when cleaning.

1) Take all cleaning supplies with you in a carrier, so you don't have to go looking for them once you start cleaning.
2) Include laundry basket (cause laundry never seems to get to where it is supposed to go) and garbage bag in your supplies.
3) You can use a stroller to contain all of your supplies if you need to. Think "hotel housekeeping."
4) Clean one room at a time, do not leave that room for anything until you are done.
5) Items that need to go to another room can go in your laundry basket or stroller and get dropped off as you clean the rest of the house.
6) Give helpful kids a Swiffer duster (they love to dust and it gives them something to do).
7) Take a short break between rooms (makes you feel like you aren't abandoning your kids!).

These tips help me stay focused. I tend to get distracted if I leave the room I'm cleaning and it takes ten times longer to clean. If I focus and stick to one room, not only is it faster, but I feel like I do a more thorough job.

Now, off to work! I look forward to the sweet smell of a clean house!

October 30, 2008

More Saving Money

I've talked about menu planning before and I tried some of the websites that I mentioned in that post. Honestly, I was pretty overwhelmed and barely got started.
But now I am checking out e-mealz.com. I haven't gotten started yet but I think it might work. They actually have plans that are diet-specific (including weight watchers points!) or based on store sales. They also have different menus based on how many people you are planning for and the shopping list is made for you too! Can't beat that! Its only $1.25 a week so I think we'll start next week and I'll get back to you on how it works for us!

A Lesson Learned

Yesterday my daughter came home with her first school pictures. I remember how fun it was as a kid to get those pictures and then share them with parents and grandparents and even great grandparents, friends and aunts and uncles. When you get your little package at school the first thing you do is analyze the picture. Are you smiling? Are your clothes straight? Is your hair just right? Is there a booger hanging out? :-) There is a lot that has to go right!

Well for my little kindergartner, these pictures brought disappointment. At least at first. She bounced into my car yesterday afternoon and the first thing she did was take out these pictures and point to the blaring red eye in her picture. Picture day happened to land smack in the middle of a terrible eye infection. In fact, the infection lasted almost two months and is finally gone due to antibiotics. Her eye, red and shiny from the first medication we attempted, stuck out in the picture and matched the red shirt she had chosen for picture day. She was also disappointed that she didn't smile.

I wish I could say that I reacted perfectly right away. That I immediately made a big deal about how much I loved the picture just because it was her. I was sad for her and wanted to make her feel better and told her that we could see if we could get retakes. The rest of the afternoon, weather it was due to the photo fiasco or not, she was a little monster. She spent the entire afternoon being nasty to her little sister and to me. Well it took me all night (and a reminder from my husband) to figure out that I really needed to focus on helping her realize that what is important is that it is her, not the eye or the smile, in the picture that I love. So this morning I told her that I Love the picture because it reminds me of how strong and brave she has been to go to school even when she wasn't feeling great. Whew! Almost missed that opportunity to build up what is important in her and remind her that It's what is on the inside that counts! Why can't these things come to my mind right away, instead of hours later?

October 27, 2008

Ideas needed!

Ok so I am a first time room mom for my daughter's kindergarten class. We are having a "Storybook Character Day" (also known as Halloween) on Friday and all I ever remember about school parties is out the window because we are living in quite a different world now. We have to be sensitive to those who don't celebrate Halloween, we can't make any of the snacks (they must be pre-packaged), and the snacks have to be healthy. So I am trying to come up with something creative to do with all of these rules on my head. Any ideas?

Thanks in advance!

Potty Training, Revisited

One of my very first posts was on potty training. And at the time, I was feeling pretty good about my success with my first born daughter. She was easy. We were really laid back about it, she nearly trained herself and a week after starting, she was accident and diaper free! So my plan with the second daughter was to be the same laid back mom I was with the first. Sometimes being laid back is really difficult!
It was about 2 weeks after she turned 3 that our second oldest started showing interest. And it wasn't long until she had a day without an accident. This joy didn't last too long. She would have several days without an accident, then #2 would come! Then we would have several days where I was wondering if I needed to go get diapers. Anyway, 3 months later, we still can't declare our 3 year old potty trained. She wears panties every day but usually doesn't make it through the day with the same pair. She doesn't seem to be afraid of going #2 in the potty, she's done it a couple of times. But now that she has gone so much in her pants I think she actually thinks you go in your pants then put it in the potty. One day I found her in the bathroom and she said she needed to go poop, when I started to help her with her pants she said "no! I haven't gone yet!" I refuse to put pressure on her but It is hard when I am cleaning poop out of her underwear daily and we usually have one day a week that she runs out of pants and panties thanks to tinkle accidents.
So my next plan of attack is bribery. It worked to get our older daughter off of the thumb sucking, maybe it will work for this one and her potty problem. I've decided to make a chart and when she fills the chart with 7 no accident days in a row, she will get a gift. I think that the only way this will work is if I take her to the store and let her pick it out so she has some idea of the goal.

Well, wish me luck!

October 23, 2008

To tired to blog

This week has been long and tiring. I feel like it should be Saturday! I am really tired of looking at the computer screen and nothing coming to mind to blog about. I have a whole list of topics on my white board but nothing is sparking me this morning. So, I thought I would take a break. Then I thought, "I can blog about taking a break!" Ha! So take a break! You have my permission, I have my permission. Here are some things we can do on our break from the computer:

1) take a bubble bath
2) drink a cup of coffee or hot chocolate (in the bubble bath!!)
3) play a game with the kids
4) read a book
5) go to the library to get a new book
6) take a walk (when it gets warmer, brr its cold!)
7) listen to music
8) scrapbook
9) go to Hobby Lobby to get more scrapbook stuff!
10) take a nap!

October 21, 2008

Christmas Gift Idea For Your Kids

This time of the year grandparents are probably asking for Christmas present ideas for your kids. This can be hard to come up with as you look at your house/playroom/kids rooms and you see gifts from Christmas past strewn about the floor in disaray sometimes even broken. What could they possibly need? I think it would be good to start with trying to get the grandparents on your side. Of course they want to get your child something they will appreciate and that will make their dreams come true, but does it have to be in the form of a toy or some other item that will become part of the chaos in your home? How about something expendable. Gift cards will only put off the mess and they aren't much fun for the grandparents. How about classes? How many times have you put off getting your little one into dance, music, art, gymnastics because of the cost? Wouldn't it be a great gift for Christmas? It's easy to ship. Doesn't take up room in the toybox. Doesn't require batteries. Doesn't break. Doesn't get fought over. Grandparents can see the joy they have provided by attending recitals in person or via video. It enriches your child's life and therefore is the perfect gift! Big hint to our kids's grandparents!

PS- Sports would be great too (they are so expensive these days!).

October 20, 2008

Marie-Therese Gown GIVEAWAY !!!!!!!

Marie-Therese Gown GIVEAWAY !!!!!!!

The latest Grosgrain giveaway! I am just in awe of what she does!

3 year Texaversary!

Today is what we consider our Texas-anniversary or Texaversary (a term I just coined myself). 3 years ago today my husband set out for this vast land in the southwest. At the time, it was frightening and exciting all at once. We hadn't sold our house yet in Washington so I stayed back for a while with a very young infant and a 2 year old. Whew! I can't believe what we have been through since then. Since moving here, it seems like we've been trying to get back to Washington where all of our family and closest friends are. But, we have learned, our plans are not what is important. Sometimes it feels like God has his thumb on us holding us down like kicking and screaming children. And as it turns out Texas has been a huge blessing to us. And though our hearts are always pulling us back to the Northwest and all it's mountains, we have to admit we are growing to love Texas. If God ever has us headed back to Washington, we will truly have a hard time leaving! From the job that Lance would never have dreamed of to a wonderful community and school for our little girls to grow in and new friends (the silver type), we have been blessed here. And if we ever go back, we will leave a piece of ourselves behind.

October 17, 2008

Funny Friday

Yeah! Its Friday! I thought I would do a quick post because I have a TON of things to do today. Can I buy an extra hour or two? Anyway my Funny Friday quote came from my 5 year old yesterday. Sorry if it's too, um, gross for you.

She was having a little "soft poop" as she calls it and well, I think is a pretty accurate description. So her question was this, "Mom, what do we call soft poop if we call hard poop #2? Maybe we should call it #3?" I guess she answered her own question. Makes sense to me!

Enjoy your Friday!

October 15, 2008

I've been Tagged!


Thanks to Journey 2 Learn for tagging me and challenging me to be transparent and to try to remember these things!


1) I wrote 3 encyclopedia entries for a Biographical Encyclopedia in College. This was pre-wiki and probably nobody reads it anymore. But I can say that I'm published!!

2) I was a little tour guide from 2nd to 6th grade at our local historical home. I gave tours by complete memorization through the house by myself. I loved it when an aunt or uncle or grandparents came to visit and take one of my guided tours. It brings tears to my eyes now to remember my Grammie and Auntie Sharon, who are in Heaven now, coming to take a tour from me.

3) A victorian homes magazine from San Fransisco interviewed me and featured me in an article about "wee tour guides." It was published a couple of years later and some of the facts were way off but it was about me!

4) I only had one small grammatical revision to do when I turned my Masters thesis in for the first time. I was totally shocked and felt so guilty that my friends' thesis were being torn apart that I didn't tell any of them.

5) Before I married my husband, I had only been to 6 states, now I have been to too many to count. And I love it!! My most favorite thing in the world is to take a road trip with our family, whining and all! Which brings me to #6

6) My dream is to home school the girls for a year and live in an RV traveling all over the continent doing mission services in each place. I can't tell you how much I want to do this!! I think about it all the time and hope to start planning out some of the trip soon. My goal is to take the trip when our girls are in Junior high. I actually believe that it will happen.

7) I wish I had stuck with the violin that I played for only 2 years.

Now, I tag these blogs/people to complete this survey! I cheated and only tagged 4 because I just don't know anymore who I think would complete the survey. Have fun ladies!

ParentingPink
Minnemom
Pinkmaravels
Texasholly

Wonderful Wednesday!

The wonderful thing today is Grace. I've been thinking a lot about grace in the last few days. Our pastor preached about grace last Sunday, I guess that's why it is on my mind. Grace defined is undeserved favor. Grace is God's gift to us. The ultimate gift: love, undeserved. Grace seems to be easy for us to accept but hard for us to give. As Christians we should be known for our grace for others. Christian or not, they are all children of God. I hate when I hear of Christians who are unwilling to extend grace to anyone. It makes me sick, and I am pretty sure it makes God sick. Those who have been forgiven much, should forgive much. But sometimes it seems that those who have been forgiven much, find it easier to judge than to forgive. That must truly sadden the heart of the Lord. Grace is impossible without the intervention of God.

And now I step off my soapbox!

I hope that your life is touched by grace.

October 14, 2008

Letting it go on Tuesday 2

Trying to let it go on Tuesday!

I need to let go of trying to keep my house clean.  It never seems clean enough to me anyway.  Maybe not a good thing to let go of but too often I tell my kids no and spend time cleaning when I could spend the time playing.   So today, I am going to spend the time after school playing, not cleaning!  I'm letting it go today.

October 13, 2008

Reducing My Grocery Expenses

I've had a revelation in the last couple of days. I spend way too much on groceries! For the last few years we have been on a pretty tight budget. So, my way of saving was shopping at Walmart and buying generic everything. Doing this I got us down to about $150 each week. This was good for us. Recently, however, I found out that I can be doing much better. I found www.moneysavingmom.com . The mom behind this site spends $35 a week on her family of 4. Seriously! I don't hope to get that good but if I could just cut my spending in 1/2 that would be a great accomplishment. So I have begun the process of educating myself on the system of coupons and store sales. Money Saving Mom has a handy little sidebar that helps you get started. She also breaks it down and makes it understandable. She makes it a game for herself to see how much she can save.
The wonderful thing is that we have something our parents never had. The internet. Where we can find out what the best sales and coupons are. Through Money Saving Mom I found www.pinchingyourpennies.com which has boards with savings listings pertaining to your state (some states are better than others, depending on how active members are from your state). I also found a page on that site that gave me sales according to my zip code and stores I shop at. From there I could even select items and print a shopping list out.
I'm still learning and hope to save lots!! If I achieve my goal that would be $300 a month, like a part time job!

I plan on getting some friends on this with me, I know there are several who could use the extra money. So who will join me?

October 10, 2008

What would you do with this?

Restore the antique or re-purpose the cabinet?

This radio/phonograph was purchased on craigslist for $25. It needs a lot of work no matter what we do with it. I am conflicted though. I am pretty sure that it could be a valuable antique. Do I restore it to it's former glory or do I paint and refinish it in a way that would destroy it's antique value? You can see the phonograph in the drawer and on the other side is a radio dial. It's cool isn't it? What would you do?

Fear Itself

"the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Loving history as I do. These words have been going through my head while watching and reading the news of the last two days. Franklin Roosevelt was addressing a nation stricken by overwhelming poverty. We are not there, by far. Though if you watch and believe the news it doesn't seem like a too far off probability. Blame goes everywhere. People blame the President, Congress, greedy businesses and CEOs, and people who purchase more than they can realistically afford. But today as I watch the market tumble, I wonder what part fear has in it all. After all aren't people selling because they are afraid that they will lose it all? And in turn, causing others to fear and sell as well? And I need to calm my own heart. The reality is, there is not much I can do to change the course of what will happen. But I have to live life and raise my children and take it one day at a time. I have no room to fear for the future. Nor should I because God is ultimately in control.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - John 14:27

October 9, 2008

Found!


OK so it's old. We'll call it vintage. Probably older than me. And a little dirty, now that I look at the picture. I had completely forgotten that I had it though and I am very excited to find it. Exactly 2 months ago yesterday, I lost my crock pot to a toddler accident. See the very funny story here. Last night I was going through boxes in the garage while the girls played and discovered the box that held my mom's old Crockpot. The one that she gave me because she doesn't use it but swears she never gave me and now it's in Texas, 2400 miles away, so its mine. (sorry mom) So this pot will have to work for now, I will get a new fancy one with automatic shut off some other day in the future, maybe.

October 8, 2008

Wonderful Wednesday!

Today's wonderful thing is Ebay. I LOVE Ebay! I started shopping Ebay 3 years ago. I was looking for clothes for my then 2 year old for Christmas. I not only found fun play clothes for cheap but my best buy was CUTE Christmas dresses for both of my girls. I bought Gymboree Christmas dresses new, with tags, for less than $10.00 (including shipping). Yes, it was last years Gymboree but even on clearance those dresses would have been way more than $10. And nobody is going to care if it was this year or last years dress, it's cute! I have found that the prices on Ebay may be more than what you would pay at a garage sale, but the quality is so much better. After spending a little time on the consumer side, I decided that I wanted to make some money for myself. So I began selling this and that. Kids clothes, baby gear, even a dishwasher up on Ebay and out the door. I love using PayPal and getting instant money from my sales. I've used the money to buy more clothes for my girls and to feed my scrapbook addiction. Last Christmas, my husband sold some of his sports memorabilia that included a pair of new in the box Jordan's. We funded our entire Christmas on Ebay sales. At very tight times I've even used the money to pay for food. I've had my good and bad experiences with it, but more good that bad. I'm always looking for things to sell. If it isn't nailed down, watch out! You might find it on Ebay!

October 7, 2008

Read a Book, It'll Make You More Interesting.

Isn't this mommy-ism right?! Unfortunately being a mom makes it hard to read anything more than a paragraph long. But in a mom's world full of baby talk it's really helpful for our own sanity to curl up with a good book every once in a while. Reading can help us combat the ever present "mommy brain." Mommy brain is a proper title for that mushy brain that we seem to get once we become pregnant. Reading gives us something adult to think about. And maybe even talk about when we encounter other adults. Lets get real though, this is easily said but not so easily done. I think I have a list a mile long of what I want to read. Currently I am reading a book for Bible study (only 2 weeks left). I talked about that book in a post last week. And from time to time I actually get a little devotional time in a book called Women of the Bible (I totally recommend it). I've managed to carve some reading time out of my day thanks to the carpool line but I could also do better to turn off the TV and Computer in the evening to get some more reading time. My next step is to add some reading for pleasure. I love history (pre-kids I was a history teacher) so I think I will try to finally pick up my copy of 1776 that I got last Christmas. Wish me luck!

October 6, 2008

Getting Started ~ Frugal In Virginia

Savings Tip Saturday- Getting Started ~ Frugal In Virginia

I'm so excited about this site. I've been looking for someone to give me baby steps to saving money on my everyday grocery shopping. Something other than "going to Walmart" which I HATE by the way. For someone who grew up on name-brand only shopping, being frugal is not second nature and very overwhelming. So I'm excited about learning to be frugal and changing my over-spending ways.

My List Gets Longer!

Joining twittermoms.com has expanded my blog horizons! I just love learning about everything there is to learn through blogs and the real people behind them. And since joining twittermoms only a week ago, my blog list just gets longer and longer! I try to look at 2 or 3 new blogs a day and then do a quick check on any blogs that are on my list and have been updated. It's an obsession but I feel like I learn so much in these quick visits around the world. Take a look at some of my listed blogs. My newest favorite is minnemom.com, this Minnesota mom blogs about her "travels with children." A blog after my own heart. It has inspired me to share my own experience with traveling around the country with our children. My favorite thing to do! Also, check out Today is Fun. Another great blog and an everyday resource for that daily question...what to do with the kids?

October 2, 2008

Mommy tip: Formula Checks

This is a mommy tip from a friend of mine who has a precious little one. Did you know that you can use the formula "checks" at Costco? Those checks that you get as a promotion from companies like Similac and Gerber can be used to go toward your purchase not just in your local grocery store but at the mega one-stop Costco.
Another reason to love Costco!!

October 1, 2008

Wonderful Wednesday!


On this wonderful Wednesday I want to talk about a wonderful book that I am going through in my Wednesday morning Bible study at church. It's called Mom's Everything Book for Daughters. It's a great book with more than just advice for Mom about building relationships with their daughters. The author Becky Freeman includes activities and other suggestions for building a relationship that can withstand the teen years and beyond. Its a must read for any mother with daughters. She also has a book for Mom's with sons, Mom's everything Book for Sons.

For Dads, there is Dad's Everthing Boook for Daughters, and Dad's Everything Book for Sons by John Trent.

September 30, 2008

I'm letting it go...

Trying to let it go on Tuesday!
I'm letting go of my need to have my daughter's clothes match when she walks out the door! I want her to know it is more important who she is than what she wears. It is hard to keep to this, so I am letting it go today!

(click the widget to see what another mommy is trying to let go of today!)

Why don't you take a little time out.

How many times do we say this to our kids?? Maybe we should follow our own advice and take a little time out, especially when things get stressful. A daily time out would be best. For moms, this is a difficult task when it seems like every waking moment is spent in motion. So how about working it into your motion in some way? One thing I have discovered since my daughter started Kindergarten is the joy of carpool. I get 25-30 minutes to read, write, do whatever I want within the confines of my car. The 3 year old in the back seat usually falls asleep in that time, if not, she draws quietly. This gives me a little time out, in motion.

If you've been able to work out a "time out" in your daily schedule, how have you made it work?

September 29, 2008

Counting My Blessings

It's always good to reflect on the good things in life, especially on a day like today! Thanks for that reminder from a post from www.journey2learn.com.
1) My Lord, who's in control!
2) My children who make my day interesting, to say the least.
3) My husband who is sweet everyday.
4) Our parents who I can rely on at any time, for anything.
5) My friends (including my sister!) who love me despite my failings.

Monday Morning Inspiration

With all of the bad news over the last few weeks I thought it would be good to remember that we should not worry about the future.
Deuteronomy 31:8 "God is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down; he won't leave you. Don't be intimidated. Don't worry." (Message)
It seems like everyone is talking gloom and doom these days. Most everyone is starting to feel the economic crunch. In the last couple of weeks we've had our insurance company bailed out and our bank fail. If you watch the news for any amount of time, your anxiety about the future can grow quickly. But we need to keep in mind the big picture. Who's in control? That doesn't mean that bad things don't happen. But we know and can rest in the fact that God will be with us in any situation we find ourselves in. And even though we don't know the outcome, God is already on the other end of it, he knows what will or will not happen. What is the point of worrying? It does not give us more control.

Let me know if you have anymore thoughts on this! Have a great week.

September 26, 2008

Twitter in Plain English

In case you need more convincing:

September 24, 2008

I Do Not Believe in Coincidence!

I was just really convicted to share this personal story. Forgive me, cause its long.

Recently we went through something that just really showed me how God cares for every detail. Sometimes we can really see it and sometimes we don't but its always there. For about 6 months our very best friends, Nichole and John, were making plans to visit us all the way from Washington. This was their first visit. There were days when we were not sure that the trip would happen. Life happens and wants sometimes get shelved for needs. But God made it work. We talked about when would be best and decided on Labor day weekend. They bought their tickets and it was settled. We were so excited. Since they were going to be here over several weekdays Lance decided to take one of those work days off giving him a 4 day weekend. The trip became even more exciting for me when 2 weeks before they were coming, we found out we were pregnant with our third child and my first appointment would be the day that they arrived.
I went to my appointment and found that the appointments were backed up so I did not get to have my initial pregnancy appointment. I had to leave to go get John, Nichole and baby Lily so I could not wait around. They made me an appointment for first thing in the morning. So I left a little disappointed but happy that I was on my way to pick up our dear friends.
That night, when I was preparing for bed I noticed something that caused some concern. I decided not to worry about it and was very thankful that I had an appointment in the morning so I could ask some questions and hopefully ease my concerns. By the time I was on my way to the appointment, I was really worried that I was losing the baby. When I got there I told the nurse my concern and because it was "sono" day, she was able to get me in for a sonogram. They didn't see a baby in the sonogram. They said it was not unusual for 5 weeks but they began counseling me about miscarriages and the Doctor himself (who I was not going to see at all) came in to talk to me. They took blood work and said they would get back to me when they new the results of the blood work the next day.
I came home from that appointment and was able to cry in my friend's arms. I did not have to face the day alone with my 3 year old (my 5 year old was at school). I had someone there to endure a wet shoulder while I sobbed. Having our friends there that day helped me keep my mind off of what might be. I was carried through what would have been an excruciating long day waiting for results.
The next morning (Friday) I woke up and there was no more question about "if" I was having a miscarriage. I just had to wait for official word from the Doctor's office. Since it was the Friday Lance had planned to take off, I didn't have to get out of bed. I was able to lay there while Lance got Lindsay ready for school. I cried myself to sleep and only woke up later when Lance came home. He collapsed on the bed and cried with me (it had been a rough morning for our new Kindergartener on top of the reality that was setting in). We decided to spend the day with our friends showing them our favorite places around our little town. We were getting coffee at a favorite coffee shop when I got the call from the Doctor confirming what we already knew was true. The rest of the day was relaxing and very pleasant, considering the circumstances. Our friends were a great distraction and comfort in a difficult time. I think it also helped our parents to know that we were not alone.
When I look back only a few weeks later I can see that God really blanketed us with His love through our friends. It also turned out that a week later my mother was also able to come and visit and to give me a "hug." Something that we felt we had planned months earlier turned out to be completely orchestrated to bring us comfort in a time of need. From the moved appointment to Lance's Friday off to having a good shoulder to cry on. God knew that we would be walking through a difficult time and He did not make us go through it alone.

I am thankful that there are no coincidences, only God's plan.

September 23, 2008

Kaboom! Playspace finder

I found this from a tweet that my husband received (yes, I stalk his tweets). Its a GREAT idea. I know when we moved to Texas I was desperate to get out and find new places to take the girls that were free and fun. The Kaboom! Playspace finder is a place where parents have entered info about parks and play areas that they know about and frequent. The more people add, the more it will become a great resource for parents. You don't have to be a member to search but you do need to log in to add a playplace. They don't add it until they verify the information. So click in and help build this wonderful resource for parents in your area. And take a look around, you may find a place you didn't know about!!
playspacefinder.kaboom.org

September 18, 2008

Twitter tips

Twitter had taken the world by storm! Early adopters have known for a while how much fun twitter can be. It has connected us to each other in real-time. For those who are asking "What's Twitter?" It's kind of like a Facebook status update or texting. It's called microblogging. Meaning you have 140 characters to express your thoughts or insights. You can read an earlier post about Twitter here: Why moms should tweet on Twitter. Now more people are joining and needing to learn a few things about Twitter etiquette. Here are a few things to keep in mind when tweeting to your tweeps:

1) Your tweets are broadcast to all of your followers. Don't type something about you or one of your tweeps that you wouldn't say loudly in a crowded room. This means that asking someone about her rash is not really tweetable. You can be personal, just not TOO personal. Think also about not putting too many details so that your private information stays private.

2) You can direct message someone. If you just have to ask Joy about that disgusting rash then you might want to direct message her. It goes only to the person you select. Remember also that when you get a direct message, you should direct message the response. I've seen random tweets from people who are obviously responding to a direct message but they forgot and responded in the public tweet.

3) You can respond to someone by clicking on the reply icon next to the message. This starts your tweet with @personsname but can be seen by all your followers.

4) You can make your Twitter account private or public. If it is private, then you will not be searchable. If it is public you can get random people following you and you should keep an eye on your followers to make sure you don't get people following you that you don't want. You can block them. My account is public because I wanted to be able to post it to this site. I have some followers that have their own parenting and/or mom blogs and have found my through some sort of search. I follow them if they seem interesting to me.

5) You can follow some of your favorite news organizations or companies. One of my favorites is Starbucks. Beware though that some people out there have set up fake accounts claiming to be something they are not so you have to weed through the fakes sometimes to make sure you are following the real deal. When Sarah Palin became the VP nominee there were several twitter accounts claiming to be her but they were not.

6) Do look around on the Internet for fun applications that support Twitter. Tweetdeck, Twitterfox (firefox add on), twhirl, twitpic, etc are fun things that can add to your twitter experience. There are also applications for the iPhone and iPod touch.

7) Have fun updating the silly and sometimes mundane events of your day. Your followers will enjoy being connected to you and having a little insight into your day. I recently tweeted a series of tweets about my first experience in the carpool line. I got more comments on how funny it was, I thought I was just keeping myself busy!

8) you can also follow current topics of interest by going to the search page: search.twitter.com (no www). The top trends are listed on the page and you can search key words. For example: John McCain, will come up with tweets people are posting about the presidential candidate.

I'm sure there is more, I'm still learning. Enjoy Twitter, keep these things in mind, it might help!

Other resources:
Twitter Fan Etiquette On Wiki
Blog entry on Global Geek News
Google Search

September 12, 2008

Culture Shock: Small Town Texas on a Fall Friday

This is the 3rd Friday in Kindergarten for my 5 year old. Each Friday the high school cheerleaders and a few football players are there to help kids get from their cars to the building, and to spread a little spirit. As we were walking toward the school, I noticed the mascot, a giant cardinal, was also part of the welcoming committee. Fun! Then my daughter revealed to me that she was supposed to wear red or gold to school on Fridays but she was ok because pink is like red. (I hope she doesn't try to make that argument to friends at school, my heart cringes for her.) OK, I guess I should support spirit day and make sure that next Friday, she is in red. As we get closer to the school I noticed SEVERAL little girls in cardinal cheer outfits and little boys in football jerseys! Isn't that a little overboard? Suddenly I feel awful that my little girl is going to be in a minority of girls that not only aren't wearing red, but are without the mini-cheerleader outfit!
So I decided to get a grip. Do I really want my 5 year old dressed as a 17 year old cheerleader? No thanks! She's going to have to be "different" and that is ok. I just never thought I would feel so "different" after living in Texas now for nearly 3 years. I love it, the people, the values (I could use a mountain or two, just sayin) but sometimes I grow tired of the keeping up with the Jones' attitude. But then, maybe that is everywhere, not just Texas.

September 11, 2008

Teaching kids about money

I found this great product on Parent Hacks, I'm going to purchase it. I thought it would be a good thing to pass on.

Parent Hacks: Introducing Money Management to Preschoolers

http://www.parenthacks.com/2008/09/introducing-mon.html

First 3 weeks of school

I was so not prepared for our first school experience. I knew that it would be "hard." Because that is what people told me. But I really didn't KNOW how hard it would actually be. I haven't been able to even blog the last few weeks because I really didn't feel like I had any wisdom on the subject. I still don't really feel like I do. Since dropping my daughter off at Kindergarten I have fought the urge to take her out and home school her every day. I want her back! My mind and heart are in complete disagreement.
On the one hand, I feel like our time together has been shrunken so drastically. All of the sudden she is gone, ripped from my arms! It is truly heartbreaking when I think of how much we miss of her day.
On the other hand, though sometimes she wants to stay home (when she knows lil sis and I are doing something fun that day) she really seems to enjoy school. She has learned so much already in the last 3 weeks. Every waking moment at home she is practicing her letter writing and pretending school with her sister. I know that it is important for her to be in school at this time, at this age because she is truly ready. If I had waited, I am fully confident she would be bored next year and then we'd be setting her off on the wrong foot. She's getting what she needs, when she needs it. She also has a wonderful Christian teacher.

So, as I am the adult and have to learn to let my children go, I must endure the school year missing my child and trying not to get hurt over the fact that she only mildly misses me. This process of letting go started with childbirth and I guess will continue until she is married and moving thousands of miles away from me. (sorry mom) I think I now truly understand the heartache that we cause our moms. Heartache that I just have to get over, as our moms did.

August 21, 2008

Blog Surfing

There are so many blogs out there it's hard to know which ones are worth a look. Just clicking on "next blog" at the top of the screen is a little dangerous, to say the least, and usually unsatisfying.
So how do you find quality, informative, interesting and even entertaining blogs? www.alltop.com Alltop is an aggregator of blogs. Meaning it collects, categorizes, and ranks blogs. You can find all of the top blogs for most subjects worth looking into. For instance, if you are looking for mom blogs moms.alltop.com and you will get a list of mom blogs that are the cream of the crop (oh, I can only dream!). Going to the main website, www.alltop.com will get you to a large list of topics that seems to be growing every day. Only a few topics include: homeschooling, adoption, theater, tv, and of course, blogging.

I want to share a blog with you that my husband discovered and shared with me, it is not a mom blog and can be found under church.alltop.com . Her site is www.flowerdust.net and she is an author and serves on staff at a church in Nashville. I find her entries to be interesting and real.

Happy reading!

August 11, 2008

Beautiful Kids Clothes for FREE??

Check out these amazing kids clothes from Grosgrain, a website I found through Design Mom. The clothes are so cute, one of a kind, and FREE!! The mom who makes these clothes is just blessing the world with her sweet designs. I'm posting this link for a bit of a selfish reason. Creating this link enters me into the giveaway raffle. You can do it too!

Nantucket Weekend GIVEAWAY!!!!

Bad Mommy

My girls had their yearly well-child visit with the doctor today. Everything went just fine as far as health goes. But while the doctor was talking to my 5 year old, I found out that I was neglecting something pretty important in my parenting. Something I always swore to myself that I would be pro-active on. Safety.
First the doctor asked, where do you live? My daughter correctly answered the name of our town. I smiled with pride that she knew this much. Then, the doctor asked what her address was. I tried to hide the blush as I knew she didn't know that. Next, the doctor asked if she knew what happened if she dialed 911 on the phone. At this, I just cringed. She gave my daughter a second chance, asking "who comes if you dial 911?" My daughter just shrugged and the Dr looked at me. Not necessarily disapproving but more like, "does she really not know these things?" I thought, ask her phone number, this is something we have worked on. No she moved onto something else. She asked if my daughter knows the rules about playing in the street. I thought, she has to know this, we don't even allow her to go past the sidewalk at the end of the driveway. Nope. She answered, "sometimes, if I'm careful." Wrong! I felt like I was failing a test. The doctor finally asked her about swimming. "Do you go swimming alone?" The 5 year old answered, "no, but sometimes when I can touch I go by myself." I thought, no way!! This is the one thing that I was confident she knew. She went on to explain that I was on the side of the pool and I breathed a small sigh of relief. Two out of six. Not a good score.

So, I need work on a few things. We have 14 days left until kindergarten. She WILL know these things before kindergarten, so help me!

Some research brought me to these web sources:
Safe Kids: Focused on accidental injury has printable activities for teaching
Safe Kids Club: This is an organization that I heard about at MOPS one year I bought their workbooks even though I had a 3 month old at the time, it covers personal safety
McGruff: Games and other resources

August 8, 2008

For Sale: One Completely Useful Pot Without Its Crock


Yes, it's for sale. Not that I want to sell my crock pot, but since I don't have crock for the pot anymore it's not useful for me. Maybe it's useful for you??

This story starts with sugar. I was planning for an easy dinner tonight since I am going to my monthly escape from kids and husband (also known as scrapbooking night). One of those easy crock pot dinners in a bag. No work, just set it and forget it! As I was pulling my crock pot out of the pantry, the cord pulled with it the sugar canister. In slow motion I watched the tiny white granules hit two shelves before filling the crate of Tupperware at the bottom of the pantry. I quickly put the crock pot on the island counter near my children who were waiting for me to start making lunch. Reminding the angels not to touch the crock pot as I worked to clean up the sugar all over the pantry. I knew this was going to be a tough mess to pick up. I pulled out all of the affected plastic items (which ended up being all but 3 or 4 pieces) threw them in the sink. Reminded the 3 year old not to touch the crock pot. I then picked up the towels and cloth napkins that were on one of the shelves that was hit. Reminded the 3 year old not to touch the crock pot. Finally swept up as much as I could from each shelf and the ground. As I was taking my last swipe with the broom I heard a ghastly CRASH a few steps away. I turned slowly to find this:
I wish I could say that my first reaction was to laugh uncontrollable at the complete absurdity of the situation, but I didn't. I yelled "I TOLD YOU NOT TO TOUCH THE CROCK POT!!!" This sent the before mentioned 3 year old into tears which I felt completely guilty about. So I decided to force a laugh and try to get the girls to laugh as well and focus on how funny this day was turning out to be. It didn't work for the 3 year old. She cried nearly the entire time while I swept yet another mess up. As far as the glass and ceramic went, it is amazing that nobody was hurt. I was standing where this picture was taken from with only flip-flops on and the girls were on stools shielded by the island. We found pieces as far away as 15 feet and some managed to jump onto the kitchen table. The mess made one huge pile of glass. And as I was putting what was left of the crock into the garbage, a chunk fell off and hit my foot. For the split second before I looked at my foot I thought, "Now wouldn't that just be perfect." Thankfully, nothing was wrong, just a little red.
So now I am left with a lonely pot, missing it's crock. Not to mention back to the drawing board for dinner. The pot needs a new (safer) home, anyone?

I wish I could say that was it for the messes. After the clean up we had lunch and the 3 year old spilled her juice on the floor. My 5 year old keeps saying, "this is such a BAD day!" I tell her, "nope it can only get better." And besides, God's in charge of whether it's bad or good. We are in charge of our attitude and how we handle it.

August 6, 2008

Dirty work

Just got done cleaning the floors. Not ever a fun job but reminded me of my favorite spot remover and I thought I would share it with you all.
We have horrible carpet. Thanks builder! We purchased our house almost finished. We had done the build our own house thing and weren't ready to do that again. We purchased this one with the understanding that we might not LOVE everything but we were happy to not stress about colors and such. So we have builder grade tan carpet. We also have a problem area that not only gets a lot of traffic, but technically it is in our kitchen thanks to our open floor plan. This area is ALWAYS full of ugly splash spots. So today I decided to get these awful spots up (wish I had taken a before pic). I had put it off long enough. I went to the cupboard and found old faithful. Years ago a friend told us about Folex. He even gave us a bottle of it. We have used it so much that it is sadly almost gone. It's so easy too. Just spray, rub with your finger then with a dry cloth. That's it, stain is gone and you can see the proof on your rag, the dirt comes right up! Now I sound like a commercial but this stuff really works. If you want to find it try their website here.
Another carpet product that I really like for whole floor cleaning is by Orek. This is an investment purchase because the machine itself costs $500. We borrowed one from our friend and Realtor when we were selling our house. It's the Orek Orbiter and it is a dry cleaning system. First you treat the carpet with a pre-spray that loosens dirt and oil. Then you shake Orek's dry carpet cleaning powder over the dampend carpet. Then run the Orbiter over it, which rubs the powder in and agitates the carpet. The last step is using a regular vacuum over to pull up the powder which has absorbed the dirt and oil in your carpet. Lots of money, Lots of steps, but the carpet looks new thanks to the stain removal and agitation of the carpet. Without the machine, I have used the the pre-spray and the powder on very difficult. I used a scrub brush to act as the orbiter. Find orek products at their website here. It might be worth the investment for the years of new-looking carpet.

OK, done with the commercial, now back to your regularly scheduled day.
:-)

August 2, 2008

Why moms should tweet on Twitter.

I'm all atwitter about Twitter. It would be even more fun if my mom friends were on twitter too. If you don't know what I am talking about, that's totally understandable. Mom's are much too busy to keep up on the latest web-based social networking applications. Some of us are just getting into email. ( I have one mom friend who STILL doesn't have an email account, love her, but I can't ever send her a quick email so we don't keep in touch much.)
So Twitter is the next thing. For those of you who have skipped the Myspace and Facebook revolution because you don't have time to set up a fancy profile or to keep checking your friends' profiles, Twitter is perfect. Twitter allows you to send a message (tweets) to all of your followers (tweeps, instead of peeps, get it?) at once, and to receive your friends' tweets as well. You can even set it up to text your cell phone when your friends tweet if you like. There are lots of options and it is growing more each day. It is a quick way to tell friends, family and followers what you are doing or thinking at any given moment. As moms, Twitter can give us a social outlet and connection even when we don't have time for it. Did you ever wish that you could share the crazy mommy things that happen like "My two year old just pooped on my leg?" (I only say this because a friend recently experienced just that and said it would be nice to just vent in a twitter). Twitter gives you a place to share the fun, crazy and sometimes mundane events of life. It's fun, not time consuming and becoming a part of our culture. Here is a blog article by Cynthia Ware that demonstrates just how Twitter is changing the speed of news. Parent Hacks is on board too (see sidebar for Parent Hacks link).
So sign up and follow me!! I would love to follow you too.

July 30, 2008

More on Plastic Bottles

A couple of months ago I wrote about my worries over plastic bottles and how they might be poisoning our children. I started on this rant because of a segment on the Martha Stewart TV show on which she spoke to a women who warned that Canada had banned #7 plastic bottles and stores in the US were taking them off of the shelves (not any of the stores I frequent). So fear set in and thus the previous post. (Find it here)
Since then, a friend of mine brought to my attention a Snopes.com article on the subject. Find the article here. Snopes is a great resource for finding the fact or fiction in those forwards that you get from time to time. I never thought of using it to verify this information.
For the most part, the article dispels worries about heating and freezing the disposable water bottles that we get when we buy bottled water. The article stops short of declaring all plastic bottles safe, however. Saying that the debate is still open on bottles containing bisphenol A. While there is still some concern over the levels of bisphenol A, many feel that the amount that passes to the water is of no concern. They also say that many times one's position in the plastic bottle debate coincides with their political views.
So draw your own conclusions. I will probably go out and buy replacement bottles for the ones I threw out (they were old anyway) and I won't even look at the bottom.

June 17, 2008

A Funny Little Video

Love all that guilt that you get about what you feed your kids? Here's some more.


June 4, 2008

Parenting Pet Peeve #3

Threats you can't or won't follow through with.

Something I learned as a teacher and have tried to carry on through my parenting is to not threaten with taking away something that I don't want to give up myself or that is impossible to take away.
Some things are just not possible to follow through with. Parents say "we're never coming back" or "you're never going to get to do this again." Generally, I think it is best to keep never or always out of any conversation with kids. If you say you are never going to bring them to the park again, you better be ready to keep them away from all parks. Not following through speaks loudly to our children. You may think that you are punishing them in the moment, but in the long run, when you end up back at a park after promising never to return, you loose the power of your promises.
Other things we don't want to give up. Weekends with Grandma or playdates where we get some time to ourselves or time with other moms are things that benefit us. If these become threats for discipline, then you are punishing yourself too. There are times when these things can be leveraged but if you do it all the time, you are not really encouraging your child to behave. Once they have lost something they were looking forward to, the behavior can become worse because now they have nothing to loose.
The key is to think before you threat. Is this even possible? Do I really want to give up my weekend without kids? Threats never work if you don't follow through.

June 2, 2008

Water Bottles and Baby Bottles Poisoning us and our Children?

A few weeks ago I was watching Martha Stewart and was shocked to find out that I have been poisoning myself and my children for years now. Of course I was doing so out of ignorance. I guess that hoped that someone would be looking out for me and not allow such a thing to occur.
How have I been poisoning myself and my children? Water bottles/baby bottles. According to the guest on Martha's show, who was an environmental activist, bottles with the #7 recycle designation can leach endocrine altering chemicals into your water. It was so bad that she said Canada has declared the bottles dangerous and is taking steps to ban the #7 bottles altogether. So I rushed to my cabinet to find in horror that I had several #7 type bottles and that some of these were my absolute favorite. They were the Nalgene type bottles that I have had for years. And though I can't check because I threw away the baby bottles when my youngest grew out of the bottle stage, I am pretty sure that the baby bottles we used for both girls were the same plastic. I was concerned that maybe the information I had was not completely unbiased. So I did a little research on the internet and though I did find a lot of potentially biased environmentally concerned sites, I did find a medical site that convinced me that this is a pretty serious situation. The bottles are leaching BPA which can mimic estrogen and cause problems for men and early puberty for young girls, among other things. For the article click on the link below this entry.
Now the problem I have is that I want to get water bottles for our up-coming vacation and I cannot seem to find non-#7 bottles. The #7's are everywhere. I even accidentally bought a couple of bottles at Target that I thought were #1 but when I got home I realized they were #7s and so I promptly returned them. Again I turned to the internet and found that camelback has a new BPA free bottle (though I have looked at the bottom of many camelbacks in the last few weeks that have #7 on the bottom). Not sure If I will be able to find it in the stores or if I will have to buy it on the internet. At any rate, I hope that soon companies will do the responsible thing and stop selling the poison bottles.

Click Here for the Medical Article
Click Here for the Camelback website

May 29, 2008

Parenting Pet Peeve #2

Car Seat Laws are not optional!

I have to say that I had no idea that people were not following the car seat laws until I worked at the Drive-thru at Starbucks. I was blown away by the number of young toddlers who were strapped into the car by only a seatbelt. Now, I know that I was a young toddler who did not have a car seat or a booster seat and I lived to tell the tale. Seat belts were even optional when I was a kid. But in this day and age when we have laws and ad campaigns that are meant to keep our children as safe as they can, how can people make the choice to neglect their children's safety? The laws are not frivolous or meant to make anyone any money (though I am sure that the car seat people don't mind) they are meant to protect our children from injury.

So seat up people! :-)

May 23, 2008

Parenting Pet Peeves

Now, I want to start off by saying, I know I don't have all the answers and that I am far from a perfect parent. But there are times when I see parents making huge mistakes with their children and I want to scream, "Do you know what you are doing to your child??!!!" I honestly hope that no one has ever thought that about me, but chances are we've all made a mistake or two. And with 15-20 more years left in parenting, I am sure to make a few if I haven't already.
Before being a stay at home mom, I was a Junior High teacher. I had plenty of lessons in how not to be a good parent. Kids who were screaming for attention in negative ways, watching things well above their maturity level, allowed to get away with anything because their parents thought they were perfect and infallible, girls searching for acceptance through boyfriends and false love, boys searching for respect through conquests. All of these things, I believe, could have been prevented by parents thinking about how their actions, words and choices might affect their children for years and decades to come. So I thought I would start writing about some of my Parenting Pet Peeves over the next few weeks.

Parenting Pet Peeve #1 - Verbal put-downs
Think about what you say and how it might effect the self esteem of your child.
"You screwed it up again"
"why can't you do it like your brother?"
"Get it right this time"
"Your never going to get it right"
How can anyone say these things to their children and expect them to become better? I always think that in this day with all the information we have about being good parents, it is common sense. But then I see well educated, well rounded people saying things that they probably heard from their parents and for some reason can not recognize that they are doing the same thing to their own children.

May 16, 2008

It doesn't really matter, does it?

"It all matches mom," says my four year old as I am trying to hide my horror over what she has chosen to wear for the day, in public!
It is a challenge that has come up for us only fairly recently. I guess that I have been pretty controlling over what my girls where. Now, my independent little girl want to choose her own clothes and dress herself. I didn't know what a challenge this would be for me. Not that she would be choosing her clothes but that I would have to find a way to be OK with what she chooses. I decided that this was important after a recent incident.
A few weeks ago, she dressed herself in all things that had pink in them. Sounds good? Not so. She had a pink and purple shirt, a pink and red skirt and pink and green socks. All very mismatched. I did little to hide my dislike. I tried to suggest changing her shirt or socks to match the skirt. No go. I told her that it didn't look nice but she insisted on wearing the mismatched items. My real annoyance began when we had to go to the supermarket and to dinner and be seen in public with this completely out of fashion child. I begged her to change but she did not understand and I didn't want to fight over clothes. So we went. The entire time I worried about what kind of mom I must have looked like to allow my child to be in public like this. Later that night. My sweet little mismatched girl mentioned that mommy didn't like her clothes. And my heart sank.
What is so important about making sure my girls look cute at all times in their complete matching outfits?? That everyone sees that I am a good mom for having perfectly adorned children. (Since moving to Texas I have had to fight bow-guilt too) It's more likely that everyone else is too worried about their children to notice that mine have mismatched clothes or no bows to speak of. In reality, instead of impressing anyone with my perfectly dressed children, I am communicating the wrong thing to my girls. That is, "what you put on your outside is more important than who you are on the inside." I can really drive this point home by being noticeably disappointed by my daughter's clothing choices.
So, in an effort to avoid raising another Paris Hilton, I am fighting every urge to control what it is that my daughter chooses to wear. I still select outfits, but she can choose to wear what she wants as long as it is weather appropriate and fits. Because, after all, isn't that what clothes are for? Not to define who we are, but to keep us warm and appropriately covered?

May 12, 2008

Life Uninteresting

So I have been avoiding the blog world for the last couple of months because I feel like I don't have anything interesting to write about these days. Then, today I learned about this lady that blogs everyday and rants about pretty much nothing and now is able to support her entire family on the money her blog brings in. Is it possible that the uninteresting things in life can be made interesting by simply writing about them on your blog? Maybe I should try this:

Today, woke up at 4 am for work at a global purveyor of coffee (take a stab). Stumbled out of bed, took a shower. Coughed my way to work because I'm still getting over this nasty sinusitis/bronchitis/double ear infection/ thing. Worked for 2 hours only to leave because the cough would not go away (I guess people don't like you hacking into their Carmel Machiatto). Got home before anyone was awake and slept for another hour (Coughing). Woke up to my four year old in distress because her two year old sister won't share (which means she won't give her sister what she wants when she wants it). Coughed. Watched the Survivor finale on DVR trying to see around the before mentioned children as they played with various princess and dollhouse figurines (I'm OK with who won but I think I wanted Amanda to win more). (Hacked) Drove my sister to the airport through the lovely Dallas traffic! Paid $60.00 to fill my gas tank!!! (Cough, Cough) Thought bad things about OPEC and other things I know nothing about but wish I did so I could personally get gas back to below $2.00 a gal (remember when $10 would fill your tank, it wasn't that long ago). Listened to Ratatouille all the way there and back. Played Doll house with my Four year old (while coughing). Pondered dinner, then decided to get Subway $5.oo foot longs (very reasonable, I must say). Played Wii with the girls while dad played real sports at the gym (something called basketball). Put the two year old to bed. Tried not to keep her up with my cough and watched Dancing with the stars with the four year old. Put the four year old to bed. And finally get to check my email, random news stories and actually write an entry for this blog. (Hacking away still) Other things I did today: cough (a lot), take 400 pills prescribed by the doc in a box I paid $50.00 for this weekend, Did I mention coughing? Things I didn't do that needed to be done: clean bathrooms, clothing (I am in desperate need of underthings), anything, make food, make a shopping list, last a moment without coughing etc. etc. etc.

Life Uninteresting, I'll wait for my check in the mail now.