Friday, October 30

Enter for a Chance to Win 22 Books

Click on the link above and check out Devotional Christian's website. While you're there, enter for achance to win 22 great reads.

Thursday, July 9

Beating the Heat (or at least trying to)

To say that it is hot here in Texas is a bit of an understatement. For the past several weeks our highs have been in the 100's and it has felt quite miserable outside. We received our electric bill today and I wouldn't say I was horrified, just not too happy after opening it. Being the mother of three small children I can assure you that staying inside all day while this tremendous heat wave passes is not an option. So I thought I'd do a post about some of the things we do to try to make it more bearable.
We bought a plastic pool with a slide at Wal-Mart for $30. It has been worth every penny and then some! It is amazing that a family of 5 can fit in it too. My parents bought a slip n slide. The girls and I have had more fun on it than I could imagine. Our backyard is on a little slope and combined with some dish soap, it makes for a great time. We have all 5 been consuming unhealthy amounts of Ice Pops. They are so delicious and come in flavors like apple, banana, pina colada and many more. Too bad they aren't calorie free :( .
The one very good thing about this summer's heat is that I am really looking forward to Fall (like I needed a reason to look forward to Fall). I am trying to be optimistic and remind myself that July is almost 1/2 over, then we just have August, September, and most of October and THEN we should get some fall-like temperatures!

Wednesday, June 3

Planning a Yard Sale

This weekend we are having a yard sale to declutter our home. My husband and I have been married for seven years and we have averaged about one yard sale each year so I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of it. Did I mention we have an aversion to clutter? It is overwhelming to think of putting one on initially, but once I get started, I usually enjoy it. I've come up with a list of helpful hints that will make your yard sale less hastle and more fun. I still have a couple of days until the sale so if anyone has any tips for me, please post away!
Pick the right date most people get paid on the 1st or 15th of each month so planning your sale as close to then as you can usually has better results
Include neighbors try to convince neighbors to have one on the same date, increasing your clientele :)
Advertise in your local paper, hang up posters, on the radio
Plenty of change lots of one dollar bills and quarters. Don't price anything less than a quarter that way you don't have to worry about having dimes and nickles, plus it is easier to calculate someones total; anything I don't think will bring a quarter, I place in the "free" box.
Price everything someone is more apt to buy something with a price on it than asking how much you want for it
Check your forecast if it is supposed to rain, have an alternate plan
Send the kids and pets to Grandma's :) only in some cases i.e. small talkative children, hyper and bouncy dogs, overly friendly and shedding cats. Customers don't want to be bothered, usually.
Be liberal (not politically speaking) getting rid of stuff. My husband says if it has been in the attic and isn't Christmas or Fall decorations, it needs to go. Honestly, we tend to accumulate so many things that we don't really need, so go ahead make some money from it.
Price right be reasonable on pricing, people come to yard sales for bargains so give them one
Place items strategically or at least easy to get around. Don't put boxes full of stuff for people to dig through, display what you've got.
Set times when you advertise, tell what time it will start and end. If it is set to start at 8am, have everything out and priced by then. Most of our items sell within the first hour.
Be honest don't try to sell broken items
Save bags and boxes for people to carry their new treasures home in
Consign or donate the items that don't sell if you planned on getting rid of it, don't bring it back in your house.

Tuesday, May 26

Why I Haven't Posted Anything New Lately

The past few weeks at our home have been absolutely beautiful outside! Honestly, I couldn't wish for prettier weather, and it is ever so difficult for me to stay inside when it is nice outside. We have lived in our present home for a year and a half. Last summer I was VERY pregnant and tried to avoid, at all cost, anything involving bending over. That included wearing shoes I had to tie and working in flower beds. Being someone who loves to do yard work, I've had over a year now to plan and scheme all kinds of improvements for our yard. My two little girls have been a tremendous help. They are always so eager to be of assistance. My husband also has been a huge help. He spent a long time gathering rocks that I probably couldn't even pick up and lining beds with them. Here are a few pictures.

Monday, May 11

What I've Been Making and Baking

Today is cloudy, cool and drizzly outside. A great day for baking and staying in our cozy little home. The first picture is of kolaches and yeast rolls. The recipe is below. the second picture is Cherry Platz and you can find the recipe here.
Yeast Rolls
2 packages dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 egg beaten
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
6 - 7 cups flour
Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water. Add oil, egg & salt. Stir in flour. Knead until elastic and smooth. Let rise in large oiled bowl for 2 hours. Shape into rolls or kolaches and let rise another hour. Bake at 350 for around 20 minutes.
For kolaches I use 2 packages of beef litl' smokies. This recipe also makes 2 delicious loaves of bread if you would rather not have rolls or kolaches. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, May 5

The Greatness of God

Some of today's reading:

"Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!" Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust. Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? An idol! A craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and casts for it silver chains. He who is too impoverished for an offering chooses wood that will not rot; he seeks out a skillful craftsman to set up an idol that will not move. Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God"? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

Isaiah 40:9-31

Wednesday, April 29

Bo Bo the Hobo

The above is a perfect example of my five year old's unique sense of style and creativity. Meet Bo Bo the Hobo. Using merely colored hair bands, a pen and pen cap, and plastic and wooden blocks, Bonnie created a masterpiece. What, you may ask, is her inspiration? Pinocchio, which she just received for her fifth birthday. In case you aren't so discerning, I'll explain what everything is he has on. He is wearing a hat with a feather in it. A green backpack and carrying a cane. I think it is actually a combination of Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket, but can't be sure. I realize I am a little biased being her mother and all, but wouldn't you agree, the girl has got skill!

An Upsetting Expierience (for a two year old)

I suppose this would be an upsetting experience regardless of age. Albeit, it isn't as likely to happen to an adult due to, um, size.

A few days ago I was baking cookies from scratch, trying to live up to the expectations of stay at home moms everywhere. My hands were covered in very gooey dough. The recipe involved rolling it up after spreading a layer of melted chocolate (jelly roll style) and I hadn't let the dough chill long enough. As any experienced baker knows, no amount of flour in the world will keep cookie dough from sticking to your hands and everything else if it isn't chilled properly. My two year old daughter ran into the kitchen and said, "Oh Mommy, I need to tinkle," with some urgency. I know from experience when she says that, I had better drop everything and run to the bathroom, so that is exactly what I did. I flipped the light switch on with my elbow then headed back to the kitchen to get some of the goo off my hands. She is very independent and likes to put her little potty seat on the big potty and get up there all by herself. While trying to get my cookie roll wrapped in plastic wrap I heard what I thought was a little thud then an ever so faint cry for help. Knowing my sweet Lily, I assumed she was having trouble getting her panties back on so I wasn't in any big hurry. Nevertheless, I started washing my hands, not nearly quick enough, I soon realized as her cries for help grew more frantic. Once again, I sprinted to the bathroom to find my precious girl sitting in the potty crying hysterically. She had forgotten to put her own little seat on before sitting down and, you guessed it, went all the way down into the dreaded potty water. YUCK! Thankfully, it had been flushed so she landed in clean water, sort of.

The moral of this story is, don't be in too big of a hurry. The cookies or whatever you have going on in the other room will still be there when your toddler finishes tinkling, so just take your time and stay with her. Trust me, it could save a huge mess and emotional distress for you and her!

Sunday, April 26

Sleeping Throught the Night

Our youngest child is approaching the nine month mark. I can honestly say he has been our "easy child" (if there even is such a thing) up until recently. Let me begin by telling you how much of a blessing he has been to our family. He truly does have the sweetest disposition and is rarely demanding of anything. By two months, he was sleeping through the night and up until about two months ago, I could count on one hand the number of times he had cried (maybe two hands). He is developing appropriately and has recently begun to sit independently. That has made him much more content because now he can see what his sisters are up to. About three weeks ago he started going from his belly to sitting up. What an accomplishment! I was so proud, as any mom would be, then reality hit! Sure he could go from his belly to his bottom, but he couldn't do anything else! He was stuck. That is just fine when one wants to play or see the scenery but it is a different story when one is sleepy. I'm sure you can imagine the scenario I'm coming to. At nap or nighttime, when he isn't completely exhausted, I creep as smoothly and quietly as is humanly possible to gently lay my sleeping angel in his crib. His precious blue eyes sleepily flutter open and I get a toothless adorable smile. The smile continues as I sing softly and turn to leave his bedside. As I'm shutting his door, I hear him wriggling around to get in the sitting position so he can see me better and you guessed it, He's Stuck! Then comes the crying and wailing and screaming from a sleepy child who can't get comfortable. At first I tried just letting him cry himself to sleep, but then when I would go to check on him after the crying stopped, he resembled a yoga instructor. I'm not sure what position it would be called, but he was sitting with both legs straight out to each side and nose on the mattress in front of him (I wish I were so limber). Thankfully he has in the past few days figured out how to get back onto his belly from the sitting position.

Now for our next dilemma. We are very grateful for the baby bed that was given to us when our first daughter was born five years ago. It is a beautiful white antique. That's right I said antique and not exactly up to all of the safety standards in place. It is sturdy though so we have made very good use of it. One of the requirements for newer baby beds now is the spacing between the side slats. Ours obviously doesn't meet those standards because my son's chubby little legs have begun to get stuck in them with all of his gymnastics that he practices every night before falling asleep. As I mentioned before, he is a very amiable child who rarely cries, but let me tell you he can scream. I really thought a bear or something worse must have gotten ahold of him the first time his leg got stuck in his bed. After unsticking his leg, comforting him in the rocking chair, singing Mama's Gonna Buy You a Mockingbird, and quietly laying him back down about four different times in one evening, we decided to set up his pack and play for him to sleep in that night. He did much better after that and is still sleeping in his pack and play several days later. In fact, my husband went ahead and took that antique baby bed apart and set it out in the garage for a yard sale!

I'm not sure that there is a point in this post other than to encourage you if you are having trouble with a child sleeping through the night by telling you that I'm right there with you. Also to remind you as the saying goes "This too shall pass," hopefully sooner than later!

Saturday, April 18

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

No, I am not referring to the sometimes fatal viral disease affecting livestock.

Earlier this week my 8 month old developed 102 degree fever but had no other symptoms of sickness. He remained feverish all day and night so the next day I took him to the pediatrician. His only symptoms were a high fever, loss of appetite, and a few small spots on his feet and hands. The doctor looked in his throat and confirmed that it was full of lesions. When she first told me he had hand, foot and mouth disease my heart leaped into my throat, but then she assured me it was in no way related to Hoof and Mouth Disease in cattle and horses. Whew!

Since it is viral, there is no treatment. It simply has to run it's course, usually around a week. Symptoms include fever; loss of appetite; sore throat and mouth; difficulty swallowing; lesions in mouth, then fingers, feet, bottom, and chin. As is the case with any fever, hydration is most important so keep the fluids flowing! I alternated Tylenol and Motrin to keep his temperature down. Our pediatrician recommended mixing 1/4 teaspoon each of Maalox and Benadryl and giving every 4 - 6 hours. This was only for relief on his tender throat. It does not speed up the recovery process. Let me emphasize this, I am in NO way a doctor! I am only repeating what our doctor recommended so if your child develops a high fever always call your pediatrician to confirm a diagnosis.

There is no vaccine for this virus and it can recur so my advice is to be an adamant hand washer and encourage your children to be too. Obviously 8 months is a little young to be washing hands by oneself, but make sure you do it for them :) !

Sunday, April 12

May You be Blessed With a Happy Easter

This is an extremely fitting Corporate Prayer of Confession that was printed in our church bulletin this morning. May we each truly reflect upon the purpose of Christ's death and resurrection today and everyday.

"God of the empty tomb, we come to this joyful Eastertide with eyes focused on the lilies, but we ask that thou guide them to the cross. Remind us that our sin put thy Son on the Cross. Remind us that we continue in that sin even though we know the dreadful price Jesus paid. Remind us that we can turn away from our sin only through the life-changing power of thy Holy Spirit. God of the empty tomb, forgive us we pray. Amen."

Tuesday, April 7

Magic Carpets

These delicious and fat-free snacks were a hit with my children and husband. They are super easy to make and only use three ingredients. I realize that in this deceptive picture they resemble raw meat, but they really do look appetizing in real life. The recipe follows:
1 large package gelatin, any flavor
1 cup warm water
3 cups marshmallows
Grease 13 x 9 baking pan. Stir gelatin and water in microwavable bowl. Microwave on high 3 minutes. Stir in marshmallows and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir mixture until marshmallows are completely melted. Pour into pan. Refrigerate 1 hour or until mixture is set. Cut into rectangles, with marshmallow layer on top, garnish with sprinkles.

Saturday, April 4

See What Just Bloomed in Our Backyard

This beautiful flower called an Amaryllis has just bloomed. An Amaryllis is also known as the Belladonna Lily or naked ladies. It is native to South Africa but is doing just fine growing in our flower bed.

Thursday, April 2

Excellent Interview

My husband has posted a very good interview on his blog. You can read it here . This interview is of Anika who is home schooled. It is great and definitely worth your time to read it!

Tuesday, March 31

Washing Windows

Spring is in the air, and so is a lot of pollen and dust. The windows at our house have somehow attracted and held onto every floating thing that flies by. Needless to say, they could use a good cleaning. I am very thankful to have double-hung windows that I can open them into the house and clean. It is so much easier than carrying my supplies and a chair all the way around the house and removing screens all while keeping an eye on my children and another one out for bees and wasps (I'll do a post sometime on my tremendous fear of winged insects).

For extra dirty windows, using Windex and newspaper or paper towels is not very practical. Instead I put 1/4 cup of ammonia, a squirt of dish washing liquid and a gallon of warm water in my mop bucket. Using a washcloth, I scrub the windows until my elbows are quite cramped. Next I use a clean dry cloth baby diaper or other lint free cloth to dry the glass. I promise this will leave your windows shining and streak-free. Happy Cleaning!!!

Monday, March 30

About Those Medical Bills

Being a family of five with three small children, we get our fair share of medical bills. Since we depend entirely on one income, I open them with with great dread, anxiety and a hundred other negative feelings. Our youngest child was born with a heart murmur, not a serious one, but it does require monitoring by a pediatric cardiologist until it is closed. Wouldn't you know, we had just met our insurance deductible when the year ended and he had another appointment in February. Thankfully, we were able to pay our new deductible but now are responsible for a percentage of the latest bill.

I am not one to ever question anything, usually. This time, however, I decided to at least try to get it lower. Honestly, I didn't expect it to work, but "it never hurts to ask," right? So ask I did and was pleasantly surprised at the response. The billing department graciously agreed to take 25% off our bill if I paid it in full. Obviously, I didn't hesitate to that arrangement. So instead of a $200 bill, we are paying $150. Hooray!!!!

Hopefully this post will be an encouragement to someone to at least ask. The worst response would be a simple "No," and it really isn't so embarrassing when that happens. Who knows you may even be as fortunate as me and save $50!

Sunday, March 29

My Little Budding Artists

We celebrated my husband's 34th birthday last Friday. I am proud to say that my daughters, ages two and four, completely decorated his cake. Isn't it just too adorable? We thought so at least. Below is the recipe for the homemade icing. It is the best ever. Enjoy!

8 tbsp. flour

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 tsp. vanilla

Whisk flour and milk in saucepan until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Cover and refrigerate. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add chilled milk mixture; beat for 10 minutes or until fluffy. Stir in vanilla.

Friday, March 27

A Cheap Solution for a Cheap Mattress

When our family expanded into a family of five this past year, our two oldest children began sharing a bedroom. We bought two twin beds and mattresses for them. If you have ever priced furniture of any kind, I'm sure you would agree that usually it comes at a great price (by "great" I do not mean wonderful). Being the conservative spender that I am I decided on the cheapest mattresses at the store. When the saleswoman showed them to me they were leaning against a wall and so I just ran my hand over them instead of actually sitting on them. Big Mistake! Of course I knew they weren't pillow-top quality, but honestly, how bad could a new mattress feel?

The delivery men brought our girls' new beds and we were all so excited. When we sat down though it was a different story. They were so springy and I don't mean springy as in airy, I mean springy as in several large metal springs poking in your back. Obviously, I realized my mistake but it was too late to get different ones so we were stuck with these affordable yet incredibly uncomfortable mattresses.

My first idea was to buy two mattress pads. After all, how expensive could a little piece of foam be? It turns out, quite expensive! The ones I priced cost as much as the mattresses did and I just couldn't bring myself to spend that much.

Recently, we had an unexpected cold front and I was changing our girl's sheets and putting their flannel ones back on their beds. When I opened a drawer to put their old sheets away I thought, "I've got to find a better place to store all of these blankets, there just isn't room in here for everything." Then it hit me, why not pad the mattresses with all of our extra blankets? So that is exactly what I did. I layered blanket upon blanket until a desirable softness was obtained, then placed a fitted sheet over it all and finished making the beds. Granted, the mattresses probably aren't Sleep Number quality, but our girls are sleeping much better these days.

Tuesday, March 24

Growing Your Own Garden Greens

  • I love to eat a good fresh salad especially one grown in my own backyard. Let me emphasize the fact that I do not have a particularly green thumb though. I enjoy gardening but usually my plants start out promising enough yet end very tragically. Growing a small planter of leaf lettuce is however a pretty easy thing to do and I highly recommend it. With all of the concern over pesticides and fertilizers used on produce, this is a good way to eat organically without paying organic prices. You will need the following:

  • Small Planter make sure to use one with holes in the bottom to allow for proper drainage.
  • Potting Soil Expert Gardener is a good soil and is about half the price of more expensive brands.
  • Seeds One small packet will be more than enough for a small planter. I used leaf lettuce but there are so many different kinds available. Plants with large root systems including carrots and tomatoes do much better planted in the ground or a larger planter.

Planting instructions will vary depending on what type of seed you purchased. Fill the planter with soil and follow the instructions on the back of your seed packet. Always water your newly planted seeds right away and everyday until they are established. Once the young plants are about an inch tall you should thin them out so that your plants will have room to grow.

Monday, March 23

Dealing with Diaper Rash

I am having my first real experience with diaper rash and it is no fun! My seven month old has been extremely uncomfortable for the past several days. Since diaper rash is a fairly common ailment of babies in diapers, I thought it would make for a good post.

The most likely age of your baby developing it is between seven to nine months. The reason is because of a more varied diet combined with delicate skin. Diaper rash is caused by that delicate skin becoming irritated by chronic moisture. The following are some tips that have been successful in our case.

  • Less Moisture Change your baby's diaper often, as soon as it gets wet or dirty.
  • More Air This can be tricky, especially with a little boy. I suggest placing a towel in the dry bathtub and letting your baby lay bare bottomed.
  • Do not use baby wipes Even unscented ones contain irritants, so for the time being, use cotton balls dipped in warm water to clean baby's bottom.
  • Gentle Soap I recommend Dove or Johnson's no more than once a day.
  • Creams Desitin, Balmex, and A & D are all good ones. Only use the cream at night or nap time. During the rest of the day you should change the diaper frequently enough to not need it (creams can be quite difficult to get off).

Remember that prevention is the key with diaper rash!

Sunday, March 22

Chicken Spinach Quiche

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 unbaked pie crust
1 cup diced cooked chicken
5 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese into pie crust. In a bowl, combine the chicken, spinach, onion and remaining cheese. Spoon into pie crust. In a bowl, whisk eggs, milk, mayonnaise, salt and pepper; pour over the chicken mixture. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

This is so delicious that I normally double the recipe. I hope your family enjoys it as much as my family does!

Friday, March 20

Why I've Jumped on the Blog Bandwagon

For a few months now I have gone back and forth about starting a blog. My husband seemed to think it would be a good idea and something enjoyable. I wasn't so sure. After all I have three children ages four, two, and seven months, so it isn't like I have an abundance of spare time on my hands.

After much debate, I have decided in favor of starting one though, so here goes nothing (or something, hopefully). My youngest is on sort of a napping schedule now so I do have some spare time each day that I plan to devote to blogging. My purpose in creating this blog is to impart some of my invaluable and extensive knowledge in housekeeping, gardening, child rearing, and many other areas. That is a joke! Honestly, I do have experience in those areas and hope to be an encouragement and help to others if possible.

Nearly five years ago, when my doctor told me to go to the hospital in two days to be induced into labor, I burst into tears. To say that I felt overwhelmed is an understatement. I had been pregnant soooo very long but somehow hadn't really came to terms that a real, live, helpless baby was about to be brought into this world and I would be her primary caretaker. I am an only child and never ever babysat not even once. This newborn baby would be the first child under the age of five that I had ever held! Of course my mother and mother-in-law were great encouragements to me saying things like "don't worry, it will all just come so natural to you." Well I wouldn't say it all came natural, but we somehow survived and now five years later I have three children. I am a stay at home mom and love it (most days).

Friday, January 30

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