Monday, May 25, 2009

Graduation Day


We are so proud of you, Ethan! You did it! You graduated kindergarten with flying colors and wowed us all this year. I can't believe you are reading, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and doing it all with that boundless energy that we so admire!

I was sad to see you on that big yellow school bus on your first day of school. I clung to the side of the bus as you assured me that it was all going to be okay. You were so right. You did great and I could not be more proud.

This is just the beginning, son! You are going to do so many great things, meet so many great people, and touch people's lives in great ways. God has a purpose for you and I can't wait to see that all unfold.


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Tuesday, January 20, 2009


We eat our lunch together, as we always do. Emily makes the same exact request as she always does- a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, a few chips, applesauce, and lemonade. She dips her fingers in the applesauce, just as she does every single day, and is eating it off her fingers. I try to guide her to use the spoon, just as I always do, and settle in next to her.

The scenery is different today though. We are watching the inauguration of our new President and she watches in awe of the fanfare, the tiny people waving their American flags, and wiggles in time to the music. She even attempts to hum along to the music and, for some strange reason, my independent little girl asks if I will hold her as we watch.

And I watch, with tears streaming down my face, as our President makes his speech. I feel hope in my heart for our country. This isn't a political stance for me, but a hope that the changing of the guards will bring new ideas and new opportunities for our country. A hope that we can turn this economy around for our family, our friends, those we don't even know. That life could be better. The possibility for what the future could hold. An undeniable hope.

Yes, some things remain the same and some things, they are changing.

Did you watch the inauguration with your children or are you discussing this historic day with them? Any family nights planned? I would love to hear what you are doing today and what you are talking about with your kids!



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Friday, January 16, 2009

Today I Am 31

I can make big things happen.

In the end, this is all that matters.

My desire to learn will never end.

My capacity to love my children encompasses every fiber of my body and embeds itself deeper every year.

Some moments in my life are far grander than I dreamed possible.

I can survive that first day of kindergarten, even if I cried like a baby for two days straight.

Each year that passes I will look more like my mother.

I have discovered the beauty in things I did not appreciate.

No matter how big I get, I will always be daddy's little girl.

I have found a life of simplicity is the best kind of life to lead.

I will be rewarded for my hard work.

I am finding that the more work I put into it, the more my house becomes my very own dream home.

If I have only one word to describe this year of life for me it would be content. I am finally content with who I am and where I am going in life. I am content with what I have and the possibility of what might be attained.

It has been a wonderful year and I thank you for sharing it with me.




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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

My First Notre Dame Game

Despite living minutes away from the Notre Dame campus and enjoying all that tailgating has to offer, I have never been to a game. I don't have the connections or finances to afford going to the game. It was one of those things that I always hoped to do and this weekend my day finally came.

My dad got two tickets to a game and a chance to dine for breakfast and dinner at a local country club through his work for free this weekend. My mom was his original date, but when I went on and on about how I have always wanted to go, she gave me her ticket so I could have a date with my dad.

Growing up, my mom & dad both worked and they equally shared duties with me. One parent worked nights and one worked days and I feel like I kind of got the best of both worlds. I am sure it was hard for their marriage, but it was great for a little girl who wanted to be the apple of each of her parent's eyes.

Since I returned home five years ago, there are few opportunities for my dad and I to have that time together anymore. His work schedule is intense, my life as a busy mom can be intense, and we both long for that quality time together.

I don't know who was happier in this picture, me or him. It was just what we both needed and I am so lucky to have a dad who shows me off like I am the next best thing to sliced bread, a mom who would give up her ticket so we could have this opportunity to be together, and a husband who would take care of the kids so I could have some special time with my dad.

This was the view from my seat- we were just behind the press and photographers for the game. I soaked this moment in for all it was worth- drinking in the beauty of the campus, savoring my moment in the sun, and at peace because my dad & I finally got some time together.

The pictures aren't great because I took them with my camera phone, but I won't forget any of it for a single second.

Go, Irish!

Thank you, Daddy, for bringing me with you- I will never ever forget it!


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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Snacks For Mom: Do You Have Them?

I shared with you that I am trying to manage my time better, but one thing that often gets pushed to to the side are my own eating habits.

I can guide my children to make good food choices, but I can go for hours on end without eating well myself. Normally, I end up snacking towards the end of the day and it all balances out, but lately this plan hasn't been working so well.

I am hypoglycemic, which is just a fancy way of saying that I have low blood sugar. I have always had problems, but after I had Emily, it has seemed to have gotten worse.

These past couple of weeks have been really horrible and I have felt really rundown. I break out in a sweat, I have the shakes, my vision gets blurry, I feel faint, and I get extremely irritable. It seems like something like low blood sugar should be such a minor thing, but it can suck up hours of my day where I feel sluggish and generally out of it. I am sure my exercise routine is contributing towards the need for more eating, but I have been letting it go.

I decided to make it a priority this week and stocked our pantry with some mommy snacks. I got myself some cheese sticks, yogurts, fiber bars, and some canned & fresh fruit. I also bought black beans and whole grain rice to make tortillas for my lunches and to replace any late night cravings for junk food. I don't know why, but I find it difficult to "blow" grocery money on myself for these quick snacks. I feel like I should be making all of these things, but sometimes time is more limited and then I find myself in these slumps with nothing stocked to eat. The planner in me knows that I could do a better job of this, but sometimes it is nice to have a couple store-bought goodies packed in your purse for when you feel a slump coming on.

As I sat munching on my fiber bar this afternoon, I suddenly felt two eyes watching me. Emily came around the corner and pointed to my bar. She threw down her apple and started kicking and screaming for me to give it to her, as only a two year-old can do. As I shook my head no, my mouth full of food, she began escalating and I felt my stomach rumbling in protest from the interrupted and stressful snack. Can't a girl eat a fiber bar without having to share it?

I will admit that I now find myself sneaking into the bathroom or an unlit corner of the house to sneak in a little nutrition for myself, lest I have to share with everyone else in the house. Images of my own poor mother hovering over the sink to shove a little treat in her mouth and all us kids circling her like a pack of wolves comes rushing back to me. We could sniff those Girl Scout Cookies out like nobody's business and I doubt my mother had many meals where she didn't have to sacrifice a few bites between the three of us.

Do you have a favorite healthy mommy snack that you could recommend? What keeps you going during the day? Secret mommy confession... do you hide your snacks or keep them separate from the rest of the family's food? Fess up! Where do you put your stash?

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

And My Heart Breaks...

I woke up this morning to red eyes and a tear-stained pillow because I had been anticipating the big event in our house. I still can hardly believe that he went to school today.

Last night we went to his back-to-school night and met his teacher. Ethan spent the evening working on a card to bring her and we got apples at the supermarket so he could give her one. When he walked in with his apple and card, he was so excited to hand it to her. "Will she put it on the corner of her desk, mommy?" I think he saw this on a show or in a book somewhere because the apple placement was almost more important than the apple itself. When she thanked him for the apple and centered it on her desk, he pointed to the corner of her desk. "Could you put the apple here instead?" She grinned, but obliged. I tried to make quiet small talk with the teacher and signed my name on the volunteer sheet. It took everything in me to not say things like, "My son is so amazing- you have no idea how amazing he is! He is so incredibly gifted and smart! Will you love having him around as much as I have?" I didn't want to be that mom though so we said our goodbyes and held hands as we walked out the door.

It's funny, when my daughter looks at a picture of our family she points at each person and says their name. "That's my mommy. That's my daddy. That's my Ethan." The inflection and the possessiveness of that phrase let's you know just how special he is. He is hers and only hers. He is her big brother, her hero, and her best friend.

As I watch him climb the bus, that possessiveness rings in my heart. That's my boy. That's my colicky baby. That's my stoic toddler. That's my bubbly preschooler. That's my gentle & kind son. That's my Ethan. My. My. My.


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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Frugal Family: Summertime Edition

This summer has been a quiet one for our family. Intended trips were vetoed in favor of staycations and saving fuel. Our backyard update has been just the fix we needed though to enjoy quiet afternoons and evenings in our very own space. Our sweat equity has paid off and we have felt less impacted by the rising cost of fuel because all we desire is to spend time in our fresh new space.

I plop myself into a lawn chair and I look out over our large yard. I can see two sets of feet dancing behind the sheets, as the clothes blow on our clothesline. The children are giggling uncontrollably as they play peek-a-boo and try to catch one another, flipping the sheets back and forth.

I have set up all of their outdoor toys and it is always the laundry line that is the most fascinating to them. My daughter pulls off a towel and runs over to me shouting, "Queen, Queen." Yes, she has somehow moved up the chain of royalty and no longer considers herself a princess, but who can blame her? Given the choice, I would aim for the queen title myself.

My son has wrapped a blue piece of tape around his head and tells me that he is a Ninja. I laugh to myself as I see the Ninja and Queen are holding hands and running together. Only in my backyard would moments like these even be possible.

The kids run through the sprinklers and hold their mouths open to catch the water. Drinks rest on the picnic table, but there is nothing like a cold spray of water in your face to catch a drop of water in your mouth. They are soaked, but the sunshine keeps them warm.

I bring out the popsicles- the same exact color, design, and shape so no squabbles can form. I fear what would happen if a Ninja and Queen had to battle it out for the best popsicle in town. Thankfully, they are so excited for their treat that they forget to fight. They sit underneath our small tree for shade and laugh because it is so cold in their mouth.

My queen is getting tired though and I pull her into my lap and hold her close. Her beach towel is wrapped around her and I lean in to smell her hair. It is the smell of sunshine, of baby shampoo, of sweetness that is like nothing else. I curl my fingers around her pigtails and let them go so little wet ringlets form around my finger. In my head, just one word keeps coming to mind and I quietly chant it in my head, "Blessed. Blessed. Blessed."

No matter what happens in the economy, no matter how high the groceries get, and no matter how much the gas prices increase... I am blessed. It is the first thing I think when I wake up and it is the last thought on my mind as my head hits the pillow.

I am one lucky girl!

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Monday, June 30, 2008

A Struggle to Be Faithful

I adore my Emily. She is her very own little person with her own sweet little personality. I prayed very hard that we would someday have a little girl of our very own and here she is in all of her glory. She is the sweetest little girl with the best personality and she makes me laugh with her sweet quirkiness.

Emily has also challenged me in ways that I never dreamed as a parent. While Ethan slept through the night at three months, my Emily still cries for me at night (she is two and a half). Since she has been born, I have had rarely a full night of sleep. I can't figure out why this is because we have done everything for her exactly the same as Ethan, but Emily doesn't seem to really need sleep.

Ethan was (and still is) an extremely outgoing child. I could leave him anywhere and he would have a zillion best friends by the time I got back. I remember that my feelings were a little hurt the first day I dropped him off for school and he barely acknowledged my departure. He was just that kind of kid.

Emily is not that kind of kid. She is very shy and takes time to warm up to anyone. She really hates to be left anywhere and clings to my leg if she thinks I will leave her. She wails uncontrollably if she thinks we will leave her. It has been extremely hard.

Working out is difficult because I can hear her crying when I leave her in the babysitting area for my workout. I am constantly listening and my stomach feels like a little tight ball because I am on edge if she is making it difficult for the babysitter in charge. I feel selfish when I leave her there. Working out is optional and I feel like I am inflicting trauma on my child for no reason.

Worshiping is difficult because the children go to Sunday school while we attend the service and she really hates going. When we walk into church, she starts crying and when we leave her she is uncontrollable and inconsolable. This Sunday she screamed the entire time we were in service, and her screaming was worse if anyone looked or talked to her. When we got done with worship and the tears were rolling down her face, I felt like the worst parent in the world.

I honestly don't know what to do. She doesn't like to be alone at night, she wants me to be by her side all day, and I feel very badly for the people who are caring for her in my absence. At the same time, I know that there are times where we need that separation so that I can be a better mom to her. Things like working out and going to worship are important to me, but I feel very badly doing these things when I know how hard it is for the people who care for her.

It is bad enough that I don't know if my husband and I should go to worship together. Maybe we should alternate services so Emily doesn't have to go to Sunday School? Maybe I should quit the gym in favor of working out at home? I really am struggling with what is the best way to handle this. Do I keep doing this in hopes that she will figure out that we will always come back to her or do I wait until she outgrows it on her own?

I would love to hear from parents who are dealing with this or have watched their children outgrow it! Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kentucky Derby Bunco

Good cheap fun...that's what Bunco is! I blogged about our fabulous wedding party and my retro housewife themed Bunco that turned out to be a blast. This month's Bunco theme was the Kentucky Derby so we all donned our fabulous hats and our high heels for a fun time.

I had to borrow a hat from girlfriend so here are some pictures before I got my hat on. Ethan & Emily think it so cool when mommy dresses up for these events so they wanted to get some pictures with me before I left. The kids kept touching my dress and smelling me....hmm...I wonder what they are trying to tell me?

Just call me Sandra Lee, as I was running short on time with a ton of appointments and events going on that day. I found a Suddenly Salad in my pantry and used up what was left in our fridge to make my dish. This is their classic pasta salad flavor with a few of my own additions- romaine hearts, tomatoes, sliced black olives, and narrow slivers of pepperoni to dust the top. Despite it being convenience food (bought deeply discounted, of course!), I thought it turned out really good.

This was our lovely hostess, my friend Jessica. Jessica is also the one who taught me how to knit so I especially love her right now! She has been to the real Kentucky Derby so she wanted us all to have a taste of the food that we would eat there. She served us Kentucky Hot Browns, Cheesy Grits, Derby Pie, Mint Juleps & Mimosas. We all agreed that the food was great, but the Mint Juleps were extremely um...refreshing, but tasted horrible.

Here we all are with our hats on! We are all wearing our very best summer dresses and it is about fifty degrees outside. We all wished we were in Kentucky for this shot, but we were enjoying some derby fun in Indiana!

Gotta love a good Bunco theme and this one was GREAT!

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bad Week or Why I Couldn't Be a Single Mom

Editor's Note- I actually posted this post and then deleted it because I was a little embarrassed about my whiny tone. I got some emails that people were looking for this entry in their feeds so it is back up here...only read this if you can handle all the whining and moaning. Seriously, WHINING and MOANING. You have been warned!

My husband has been out of town since Monday and I thought I could do this on my own. I envisioned our fun-filled days and evenings that would be spent painting my toes and catching up on my reading.

Day One- The roofing construction begins on our home. A new roof has been in the works since we moved into this house. I never thought of how this construction would impact our day. No naps for kids means a tired mommy and grumpy children.

Day Two- My son comes down with a nasty case of pink eye. He can't go to school for the next two days until we get it cleared up.

Day Three- Rained all day, which leaves our house quiet. Emily wakes up with a snotty nose and Ethan's eye is gooped beyond recognition. The only thing I have to look forward to is my girlfriend coming for the evening. We cook. We clean. We prepare for her visit...she has an unexpected conflict and can't come. I think we scared her off with all of our illnesses.

Day Four- Our gutters turn up missing (after being removed from our house for the roofing job). I have to file a police report and talk to a detective. I feel ridiculous reporting a case of missing gutters and embarrassed that I am wasting their time with something so trivial. They were our gutters though so I file my little plea that they figure out who the culprit is.

Day Five- Emily is sicker by the minute and wakes up with a 102 degree fever. I get a late appointment at the doctor and he tells me she has a bad case of strep throat.

Day Six- I can only imagine how great the day will be putting drops in Ethan's eye three times a day, distributing penicillin to Emily and medicine to keep down her fever, as I swipe her little nose. I feel so bad for them both and am feeling blue myself.

My days are filled with nursing sick children and running myself into the ground. The evenings are spent playing catch up on the household chores and laundry. Fabulous dinners at home were replaced with two trips to the fast food joint so that I could keep my sanity. No painting of nails or relaxation in the evening, in fact, I didn't even blow dry my hair this week because there was no time.

The final nail in the coffin is calling the bed and breakfast, where we have reserved our room for our anniversary this weekend, and letting them know we can't come. One case of pink eye and one case of strep seal the deal.

How do single moms of the world do it? I humbly bow to them because I am a blubbering mess right now. I am so ashamed that I couldn't do it for one week. I really believed it was going to be a great week, but it seemed I have a little too much confidence.



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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Naughty Stitch- The "Amy Purl"

Requests were made to show you guys how I messed up my knitting. I am not sure if this is genuine interest or an opportunity to laugh at my ridiculousness, but I will pretend like it was to marvel at how inventive I am. Now if this is a real stitch, please tell me. If this resembles something you have seen before and don't believe that I can get a patent on this fabulousness, please let me know. I was hoping it was unique, but perhaps it is not!

Begin by taking your needle in going up into the top of the stitch and hold 'er steady.

Don't panic this is exactly wrong so you are doing great. Now take your yarn (which should be on top and not behind like that old and boring knit stitch) and loop it around on the outside of that knitting needle. Does it feel wrong and inappropriate? It should, especially if you know how to purl the proper way.

Now you are going to take that loop and slip it off on the right needle. You are so wrong! Don't you feel like you need a shower after this horrible knitting tutorial?

Now you can slip that stitch off the left needle and you have completed the naughty stitch...or the "Amy Purl."

If you alternate this stitch with a row of this and a row of knitting, it will look like this. That's right....completely wrong, but completely straight and right-in-your-head.

Do NOT do this stitch if you are not an experienced knitter and can understand just how wrong this is. I don't want to deter you from the path of the straight and narrow.

Hugs and Kisses,
The Stitchery Satan

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What I Got For Mother's Day

Ethan brought home this beautiful picture for mommy from school. I adore it because he is giving a toothy grin and he has the sweetest smile. When he was little, he knocked one of his front teeth (tragically stunting the growth in one of his front teeth) and his one front tooth is short and his other is longer. It is one of those things you think you won't forget as a parent, but you do...I am glad I have a picture of this precious little smile. I will hang on to it when all those perfectly perfect teeth come in. This little picture was accompanied with a potted flower that I just love. Two of my favorite gifts.

What else did I get for Mother's Day? Oh, don't hate me too much, this was lots of time and research and just happened to be purchased around Mother's Day, but is really an investment for my kitchen and meal preparation... Behold, my glorious Cuisinart Multi-Clad Pro Stainless Steel Pot Set. Oh my goodness! Heaven! Total and utter heaven! I love these pots like I love my children and as much as I love my red pot, red coat, and red shoes. Yeah, that kind of love...a deep kind of affection that only one cook to another cook could understand.

My husband has been making so much fun of me as I clean these precious gems. I am all stroking them lovingly (hoping that phrase doesn't pop up in our keyword phrase searches too often) and just cleaning them like they are the finest china dishes I have ever own. Yeah, I don't care... say what you must, but I have waited YEARS for these pots.

They are every bit of good as I had hoped. Sturdy, heavy, easy to clean, and beautiful to look at. Yes, I can gaze at my freaky expression on the lids as I take a dishtowel to the corners of my eye and weep at their beauty. I don't know why my husband is making fun of me? Perhaps jealousy because it is a love that I cannot explain.

Oh, and one of the strangest things that has happened to me is getting a beautiful flower sent to the TiVo company. Say what? Yeah, Tivo was all like, "I hope you can pause for a moment and enjoy your Mother's Day." Although you can't see it, the company stamped their logo on the corner of the flower and sent these to me one morning via Fed Ex. This was perhaps one of the most creative campaigns I have ever seen. I used to work in marketing so I can appreciate a good campaign- can't imagine how much time and orchestration it took to send these out to mommy bloggers, but very thoughtful and I loved looking at it in my window. What did I appreciate about this campaign? The note was actually handwritten. That means a lot to me because this can be a rarity. I appreciate it when people write notes by hand- it is good form, in my humble mommy opinion!

Not to be outdone by the flower, this entire stack of books came to me from Hachette Book Group. They wanted to send me a, "Mother's Day Package" with no strings attached. Who in the world would turn down free books? In this stack are:

1. Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet
2. Your Best Life Now For Moms by Joel Osteen
3. How Not to Look Old: Fast and Effortless Ways to Look 10 Years Younger by Charla Krupp
4. Bobbi Brown Living Beauty by Bobbi Brown
5. Kim Cattrall Sexual Intelligence by Kim Cattrall
6. Sew U Home Stretch: The Built by Wendy Guide to Sewing Knit Fabrics by Wendy Mullin & Eviana Hartman
7. Jewels: 50 Phenomenal Black Women Over 50 by Michael Cunningham & Connie Briscoe
8. On Becoming Fearless: Love, Work, and Life by Arianna Huffington
9. Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach
10. Days: From the Heart of the Home by Susan Branch
11. Heart of the Home: Notes from a Vineyard Kitchen by Susan Branch
12. Starting Your Day Right: Devotions for Each Morning of the Year by Joyce Meyer
13. Ending Your Day Right: Devotions for Every Evening of the Year by Joyce Meyer
14. I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris
15. Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles by Gloria Feldt and Kathleen Turner

Some of these I already have so I will be giving them away as gifts and for our giveaways on here, but it was just so darn exciting to get all these nice new books. I am hoping we can work through a couple of these on the site since I have enjoyed our past book discussions so much.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Retro Housewife Bunco

This month, I got to host our Bunco group, and I was so excited about my retro housewife theme. The best part about this theme was that I could display my apron collection and I could make all my friends wear aprons too.

The downfall with entertaining is that my home is a smaller space. It just means that I have to be a little more purposeful with clearing the home of clutter and finding more inventive ways to display and share all of our good food, but I did my best.

I cleared all of the shoes and coats from our entryway and replaced them with a handful of my favorite aprons from my collection. A couple of the girls said that they didn't have an apron (I know, *gasp*) so I thought they could borrow one of mine from one of our hooks when they walked in. It also helped to tie in the theme!
I love to look for benches for my house because it makes great instant seating in any room. Even an old and ugly bench can be recovered and made to look more modern with a new fabric or coat of paint. I pulled my benches into a seating arrangement that I thought would make it easy for groups to sit together and would make it easier for people to chat. These are also narrow enough that they make good seating for homes with smaller spaces.

We had a delicious retro supper prepared. I made my favorite Sloppy Joe recipe and I got mini-kaiser rolls to make it easier to eat while we played. These were served with tater tots and Rice Krispie treats for dessert. I could prepare everything ahead of time and just had to throw the tater tots in the oven before everyone arrived. I planned to serve slushies, but everyone brought a beverage to share instead so this made it easier for me.

I love to serve our food on cake stands and the covered ones are great for keeping bread from drying out and they help to create a display. If you are short on space, elevating the food can make more room for lower dishes to rest. If you don't have cake stands, you can use an inverted bowl and rest a plate on top to create a cute cake stand. Hunt at the thrift stores and you can find elegant china plates and cups or bowls to create cute little cake stands.

Coolers can get in the way when you are trying to entertain and can be difficult to hunt for just the right drink. I plugged one side of our double sink and filled it with ice. I tucked the drinks inside of there and then took a ribbon and looped a bottle opener through the ribbon and around the spout. It made it much easier to drain (just have to unplug the sink) and it also saved on space in my fridge and freezer.

What retro housewife would ever serve her guests dinner on paper plates? We kept our party green and wallet-friendly by using cloth napkins and my favorite white dishes to serve on. I had seven guests so it only equaled one fast load of dishes and everything was cleaned.

Isn't this scorekeeper so handsome? Ethan got home from grandma and grandpa's and was immediately intrigued by what all these crazy women were doing. He was so good to help keep score and even got to throw dice a few times with us.

Thank you to all my Bunco Babes who allowed me to live out one of my little fantasies. It was so fun to have a retro night with all of you!

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Morning & Night

Now that it has finally warmed up, Emily & I can start taking our walks in the morning again. As soon as I drop Ethan off, we pull into the garage and get that old stroller out. I fill the little compartments with oodles of Cheerios and a cup of milk and we can set off for our morning walk together. Emily takes in the sites while I try and get my body moving again. It has been a long winter of being cooped up so it feels good to be enjoying this fresh air and sunshine.

A little rocket fuel speeds up the pace. For $2, this is a sweet little indulgence to help me go, go, go. I love McDonald's Vanilla Iced Coffees for a morning pick-me-up. A whole heck of a lot cheaper than the Starbucks and just as yummy! A large one can last me an entire day!

What happens at night in this house? A whole lot of this! Can someone be addicted to knitting because I think I have found a new addiction? I am usually wound tight as a spring at night, thinking of all that I need to do, and this little hobby has provided some soothing relief to quiet my brain. My iPod is loaded with soft music and I am clicking away on the couch. Thank you all for your great knitting help and suggestions. I am tackling my first little project and making a scarf. My pace is slow, but my heart is proud that I am doing this.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Not Today, Please...

UPDATE: Bunny was found!! Only fellow moms could recognize the tragedy we would have faced without him! Thanks for all of your well wishes and I will write more on location in NJ!

Have you seen this bunny anywhere? It appears my daughter has lost, not just one, but BOTH of her bunnies are missing. I have spent the past hour trying to find them- searching the car, checking behind chairs, looking in cupboards. I am supposed to be packing, but there is no way I am going away without a bunny in her arms.

When I find him, I am going to have to figure out how to install a tracking device inside. I wonder if one of those remote finders would fit nicely on the interior of his face? Wow! Never thought I would say that!

One thing you also do not want text messaged to your phone, right before a trip, is this:

"I am starting to think I have shingles."

Nope, my husband is allergic to penicillin. He made a trip to the doctor's covered in a fiery rash from head to toe. He is completely miserable, but got a prescription to calm down his reaction.

Oh, and since we are talking about fun events that happened today, here is another great one! I typed up a document called, "Daddy's Cliff Notes" with all of the things that he asked me to write up for him, all neatly typed in my favorite Georgian font. As I hit, "Save" the screen fades and says, "Microsoft Windows is not responding." Yup, that document... yeah, it's gone. Didn't even save itself to be recovered to make up for being so flaky.

We will see if I actually get to go on this trip after all!



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Friday, March 21, 2008

Target- How Do I Love Thee?

It is cold and dark outside so I have to use my flash for these pictures which makes them hideous looking, but bear with me! When I went to Target, I happened upon these sweet little things. Aren't they so cute? They are about the size of a wallet and have pretty Target trees on them with little birds. They are super compact and I can fit three of them easily in my purse.

Unzip and unfold... behold their glory! A full size grocery bag. Say what? How cool is that? Did I mention that three of these will easily fit in my purse.

And...let's say that you went on a trip and you didn't want to carry a purse, but you had some unmentionable items that you had to carry with you. You could tuck these inside with it all folded up and no one would be the wiser (just remember to remove the stuff before grocery shopping). Oh, and did I mention that these are $.99? Heaven!

Let's just say that you are one of THOSE KINDS OF PEOPLE, and you like everything to be all matchy-matchy in your life. Maybe you thought to yourself that carrying these cute grocery bags would look super cute with your red shoes?

And then you thought about that amazing red coat you purchased with the amazing lining that would match perfectly with your red Target bags and you were like, "OH MY GOSH! How cute am I going to look with all my matchy-match stuff!" And your husband and family totally didn't get it AT ALL, but you knew someone out there in the internet world thought, "Wow, won't that look cute with her red shoes and red coat!" And you happened to pat yourself on the back because you knew you had such great girlfriends who would understand.

I also found over in the housewares section, they had these cute placemats for $.99 for TWO placemats. They wipe off and they look so cute and modern in my kitchen. I have a thing for red these days and these make me happy. I got six of them for my kitchen table (less than $3 in all!) I just love this print!

And then I thought how cute these would look with a basket of red apples with just a few green in there to bring out the green in the placement. And then I thought, "Wouldn't it look just like a pretty portrait if I sat in a chair and ate my red apples with the hint of green that I removed from my cute red bag and sat down at that table with the cute placemat and kicked up my red shoes with my red coat draped behind me?" I think that sounds like a portrait, don't you?

Or am I taking this too far? Maybe I need a label on my blog for dork moments? Hmm...

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

It Was Bound to Happen

At the doctor's office:

Dr: Well, it looks like a sinus infection. I am going to go ahead and prescribe some medicine for them.

Me: That sounds great!

Dr: I would pick this up at Meijer. The kids will get their antibiotics free there, which is a great deal.... and I know how much you love a deal (with a wink)! How's that next article coming?

On the massage table:

Me: When did you start working here?

Massage Therapist: Oh, about a year ago. I love it.

Me: That is great!

Massage Therapist: You stay home right? And do your website?

Me: (face muffled in massage table) Um, yeah... I do. How did you know that?

Massage Therapist: Oh, I read your articles in Michiana Family Magazine. That is so great that you figured out a way to stay home with your kids and work.


Me: I brought in my vitamins to show you, like you had suggested, just to see if I was taking what you were recommending.

Doctor: Let me see. Wow! I am so impressed!

Me: Oh, really? Did I pick the right stuff?

Doctor: I am just impressed at the quality of the vitamins you bought. Honestly, I am really impressed.

Me: Well, they were a bit of a splurge, but I gave up my prescription drugs so...

Doctor: No, I am just really impressed.
In line at Goodwill...

Cashier: That will be $15. Oh, you brought your own bag....wait, I know you. You're that frugal mom. I watch you every week. (Calling over to the other cashier) Shirley, Shirley....remember that girl I was telling you about? That one that tells you about deals and coupons. That one on the news. This is her. You need to watch her.

Shirley: How can I watch her? I am always working here!

Guy Behind Me: You do that segment on WSBT?

Me: Yes

Guy Behind Me: I watch that every Tuesday

Cashier: That tip about Sam's Club...I loved that tip

Lady Behind Me: What tip?

Cashier: She said you can order your stuff online and they will put it together for you.

Lady Behind Me: (interrupting) Yes, yes...I already knew that. I thought everyone knew that (smugly)

Me: Thank you, have a great day!


In line at the grocery store...

Guy in Front of Me: Is that a good deal on bread? You bought a lot of it?

Me: Well, it is about $2 cheaper per loaf so I thought it would be a good time to....

Guy In Front of Me: Can you watch my cart for a minute?

Me: Um... yeah

Guy In Front of Me (now behind me): My wife is going to be so happy!


It was bound to happen. What do you do when your anonymous life doesn't feel anonymous anymore? I am talking to all of you great bloggers out there- do your families read your blogs? Do people know you because of your blog? Do you censor yourself because you know people are reading your blog?

Here is another question, is it good to be known because you are CHEAP?

I really want to talk about this with someone and I am asking people to come out of lurking and tell me how you guys deal with this stuff. Please share!

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Be Mine, Sweet Valentine!

Yesterday we made our Valentines for my son's class. I was originally going to do a more organized and cute craft, but ended up just letting Ethan draw and make his own special pictures for each friend.

No Valentine is complete without a heart sucker! Each Valentine lovingly made for his classmates- sixteen in total!

Don't get jealous, but this is my little Valentine! She looked so sweet in her pretty red dress. We had to go to her brother's Valentine's Day party for school so we needed to look our best! Off to school we go for a special party!

We distributed our little cards to all of our friends and teachers. We were so excited to share what we had made. Paper construction hearts filled to the brim with treats and sweet notes from our friends. What is not to love about this holiday?

A plate full of treats for all of the kids. A thoughtful mommy brought extra so the siblings could have their own plate.

Emily was so happy to have her own little plate of goodies and didn't waste any time diving in. The Little Debbie heart-shaped brownies were a huge hit with all the children.

Not Pictured: The crying and wailing of both the children as we left the party. Ethan had a sudden and severe bellyache from all of his treats and Emily was upset because she had to leave all of the fun toys behind. Mommy questioned whether it was too early to pop open the wine or if Daddy would notice half of the bottle gone when he got home for their private Valentine's Day celebration. Let's just it was not all heart-shaped brownies and suckers...but isn't that what motherhood is all about?

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

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Monday, February 11, 2008

The Thrills of Modern Day Inventions

The weather here has just been brutal- blowing snow, freezing temperatures, icy road conditions...the list goes on and on. I am ready for warm weather and bathing suits. I want to sit in my lounge chair and watch the kids play in the sprinklers. I want to sweat, not shiver.

Last night the school listings were starting to post for delays and cancellations. Ethan's school was not listed, but I was determined to not have a repeat incident of what happened last time. I checked the news website and lo and can have school delays and cancellations sent right to your phone.

I signed up for this service and the weather alert service. I am bad about watching the news so this was perfect for someone like me.

This morning I heard a beep, beep, beep. This wasn't my alarm beeping at was my telephone. "South Bend Community Schools have been canceled. Go back to sleep, momma!" (Well, I am adding that last part for the sake of narration...)

Roll back over and go back to sleep. Thank you, sweet modern day invention!

Sound Off: Do you do text messaging or receive any free services like this to your cell phone? Coupons, deals, alerts? Please share!

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Snow Days for a Frugal Family

I am standing in the kitchen baking my little heart out. I have two trays of granola in our oven and the bread machine is humming as I make another batch of homemade pitas. The computer is booted up and I am typing in between flipping and turning pans. I work at a frantic pace, trying to crank out the work for the week so that I have my time free this week for making and attending my son's Valentine's Day party.

The smell of shoe polish is traveling into the kitchen, as my husband sits on the couch shining his shoes for the week. He has had the same shoes for years now, but believes in making a good investment in one pair of shoes and frowns upon my ten dollar Payless shoe habit. I have went through about the same amount of money as he has on his shoe splurge, but I try to keep up with the trends and he is more of a classic kind of guy.

As he is shining, the kids are running and gathering speed as they loop around and around chasing each other. Emily is banging a coffee can like it is a drum and they run past me as I type.

If you listen, you will hear the washing machine humming as it cranks out another load of our wash. The dryer buzzes, and I plop in the front room and fold our clothes. I head upstairs and place the fresh sheets on our bed. Sunday night is my favorite night to climb into bed because this is when I put on the clean sheets for the week. The sheets are crisp and smell like lavender- a fancy scented laundry detergent. The detergent is a splurge, but I love it too much to give it up.

In the evening, you can hear the sound of the hair clippers as I give the guys a hair cut. They both need one and we are all thankful that we don't have to try and schedule hair cuts for them anymore or put up with poor service at the cheap salons they used to frequent. I also spend the evening coloring my hair...a shade called, "Color Me Vibrant." I call it "Color Me Cheap" though because I save $35 each time I color my hair myself.

As we tuck the kids into bed, we break out the board games for an evening of fun. Games that were probably rarely used in someone's else's house and then donated as they gathered dust in a closet. They rarely get dusty in our house as you hear the clink, clink, clink of tiles being placed on the Scrabble board for the third night this week.

As I climb into my bed with the clean sheets against my skin, I grab a library book that I am working through. No guilt as I page through it quickly, devouring it at a record pace. There is no guilt because I didn't pay for it and I can return it with no buyer's remorse.

I am happy and I am content...Yes, this is the picture of a snow day for our frugal family!

Sound Off: What are some of your favorite things to do when you are snowed in? If you don't get snow, just offer sympathies for those less fortunate than you!

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

All Around the House 02.07.08

You might be wondering where I was yesterday? Well, I am proud to say that I am tackling one of my New Year's resolutions and have begun a sewing course over at Hancock Fabrics. I had been looking into it (or procrastinating on it) for several months now and finally decided that this was the year to learn.

To say that sewing is hard for me is an understatement. I am really struggling with learning to sew. Does sewing come naturally to anyone? I find this whole thing to be quite tedious compared to using a hot glue gun and a staple gun. I am one of those free spirits though that doesn't like to measure or follow direction, but that is not what is expected of you in a sewing class. I know I am being taught the proper way to sew, but I don't envision myself doing half the stuff I am learning when sewing. My goal really was just to learn how to use the sewing machine so that I could make throw pillows or curtains. An added bonus for me would be to be able to make a simple skirt or apron, but never to sew my own pajamas (which is our third project in this series of classes).

Our first project was pillowcases. I have a feeling I will never make pillowcases again because this is something I would rather buy in the store. Of course, the purpose is to learn how to sew, not necessarily to learn how to make pillowcases. These were supposed to be an easy first time project, but it took me four hours to make these. They didn't turn out perfect, in fact, one of my pillowcases had to be completely sewn again because it wasn't done right. I also had made the mistake of picking striped fabric, which I wouldn't recommend to anyone who is trying to learn to sew because all of the lines had to match up and it took forever to cut these and sew them.

Our next project will be more up my alley. We are learning how to make aprons and this time I picked a green polka-dotted print. Seeing as the pillowcases took me four hours, I can imagine that an apron will take me about twenty hours.

Regardless, I am really enjoying Ivy's, from Home Ec 101, posts on learning to sew and she is offering a great tutorial for beginning sewers. Taking her free advice is a lot less expensive than taking the courses, which average $15 each plus materials, but I am hoping this class pays off for me.

If you have any kind words for a discouraged sewer, I could really use them! I know I am not very patient!

Ethan was also the superstar in his class for the week. They pick one person each week to be the star and each day they do something special with that person. He had to make a picture about himself and his family which shared all about himself and his favorite things (pancakes and trips to Chicago). The next day he shared his favorite book, "How do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon." The next day was spent sharing about his favorite toy- his Mega T-Rex. Lastly, today we had to make his favorite snack to bring in to share with the class..Pumpkin Muffins. After my sewing class last night, I came home and whipped these up to take this morning while my little superstar slept.

The whole family chipped in to make his superstar week, complete. Even Emily & her monkey helped by handing crayons to our rock star to complete his project! This was definitely a family effort to make his week special.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

I Heart Oz (Or I Heart Carrie)

I got an unexpected package in the mail last week. I didn't remember ordering anything, but tucked between all of the junk mail was a squishy envelope.

I opened the envelope up and out fell an "I Love Oz" t-shirt. There was a sweet note explaining that my awesome blogging buddy Carrie had attended a swap night and happened upon this shirt. She remembered my entry about my surprise birthday tickets to the show and she also knew my size. Wouldn't you know she snatched it up for me?

I really wanted a shirt when I attended the show, but you know me and my money. We are tight. I kept my money in my pocket and never imagined that I would have gotten such a nice surprise!

Thank you, Carrie! You truly made my week!



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Monday, January 21, 2008

My Amazing B-Day Gifts

I had the best birthday gifts ever this year! All of these pictures can be expanded for full view and amazing real-life detail! Above, is my new apron to add to my apron collection. My crafty mother-in-law (who also made that super cute purse) made this for my special day. I just love the colors and it matches my kitchen perfectly. I just love the aprons she makes because there aren't very many aprons that fit my petite frame like hers do. This one fits me like a glove and it is going to get a workout in my kitchen. Picture me in it stirring something delicious in my beautiful red pot.

My mom & dad got me my very first set of real pearls. They are so beautiful and dainty and I feel like a polished woman in them. I have always wanted a set of pearls, but didn't want to splurge on myself for something that wasn't really necessary. What a treat to have my own set and a special gift to give for my thirtieth birthday.

My sister-in-law got me some really cute retro goodies that included a cute compact for my purse, bath salts, and a little dishtowel that says, "High maintenance doesn't even begin to cover it!" Doesn't my family know me so well?

My best friend got me two great books. The first one is "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World," by Joanna Weaver. I am so excited to read this and have heard such great things about it that I am anxious to dive in. Has anyone else read this? It is definitely something I could improve upon.

The other book, not at all religious but oh-so-funny, was, "I Like You," by Amy Sedaris. I am a huge fan of Amy & David Sedaris so I was really excited about this one. It is one that I have borrowed from the library, but is too funny to return to the library.

I thought I had gotten all of my gifts, but got up early Saturday morning for an appointment and my husband got up with me. He turned me towards him, as I was getting ready, and said, "You don't really think you got a pot and a pizza party for your birthday do you? Do you really think that is all you deserve?" And I said, "Um...I like my pot and I loved my pizza party." He told that there would be no Goodwill half off day for me because I was to come straight home for a surprise that he had planned.

His parents came to pick up the kids and instructed us to pack an overnight bag for them. They kept asking me, "You really don't know what you are getting? Really?" And I kept shaking my head and telling them that I had no idea at all.

I didn't know until we arrived in Chicago, thirty minutes before the show would begin, that my husband had two tickets for us to see, "Wicked." Not only did he have two tickets...he had two FRONT ROW tickets to see the show.

I have been dying to see this show since it opened. We read the book for my book club and I was so excited to see how they would turn this great book into a musical.

The show was the best I have ever seen and I have seen and been in my share of musicals. The music was great, the writing was so fast and smart, and the singing was phenomenal.

Of course I was a teeny bit concerned about how much it all cost, but Ryan assured me that he scored an amazing deal for us. The nosebleed seats and our seats cost the same amount because a couple was needing to sell them because of a wedding that conflicted with it. We thank that amazing couple that decided to get married that day so that we could enjoy such a wonderful show.

And a big shout out to my husband who did his very best to make sure I had the best birthday ever and for his family for taking our children so that we could enjoy a fabulous day like that.

It was truly the best birthday ever!



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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Good Cheap Fun- BUNCO!

I don't know if any of you participate in Bunco or any other fun game like this, but I joined a Bunco League that has been an ultimate blast for me once a month.

This past week's was probably the most fun yet because our theme was so great! The theme was "Weddings" and we all were told to wear our wedding dresses or favorite bridesmaid dress to the event. Considering how much people pay for these dresses, any opportunity you have to wear this more than once seems like a great idea to me!

I borrowed a dress from a girlfriend, who has been in her fair share of weddings, and got all dressed up for the event. My husband got a big kick out of me dressing up like this, complete with warm socks and snow boots. Considering the freezing Indiana temperatures, I wasn't about to brave it in a sexy pair of strappy shoes.

Our host went all out with a Polish Wedding Buffet complete with a wedding cake, made by her aunt. The food included homemade Polish sausage, herb-buttered noodles, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, and lots of yummy appetizers. We stuffed ourselves silly and then played Bunco by the light of her Unity candles.

In our league, the cost is $5 to play and a booby prize to be given to the person with the most losses. I eat more than $5 in food and sometimes I win my $5 back (or more) at the end of the game. For an entire evening of great fun and good food, it is totally worth the investment.

The booby prizes were a hoot and many people graciously passed on their ugly wedding gifts that they got from their own weddings. It was hilarious to see the gifts that were given and the hideous gifts that people got.

Each person went home with a wedding favor of chocolates wrapped in netting. Every detail went into the event and we all had such a blast dressing up and hanging out. Much thanks to our hostess for the evening for making the night so special!

If you are thinking of starting your own Bunco league, you can get more information at this website. I would highly recommend it for anyone looking for some good cheap fun. Best of all, it is a great way to build friendships and get away from the kids for a night.

Sound Off:
Do you do a game or activity regularly with your friends? What are some cheap ways that you have found to socialize?

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Special Prayer Request

Update: Austin's surgery went really well and he is now in recovery. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts. Please continue to keep him in your thoughts and prayers, as he has a long recovery ahead of him.

I don't often ask for a prayer request on here, but we have so many amazing readers that I would love to tap into that today. My nephew will be going in for a very serious surgery tomorrow morning. He has a rare condition called, Congenital Nevus that covers one of his legs.

They are attempting to get skin to use for a grafting and the past few surgeries have failed. They will be expanding his tissue in a different place this time, in hopes that this tissue will be stronger and give them more to work with. The more skin that they can get, the more of the nevus they will be able to remove.

Please pray for their family this week and ask God to help heal him. He is only six years old and it breaks my heart that they have to go through all of this. They are a young family and need all the prayers and support that we can offer them.



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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

One of My Birthday Gifts

We are celebrating with our family tonight, but Ryan decided to give me my birthday present early so I could stop lusting after these at TJ Maxx. Here is my beautiful Cuisinart Cast Iron Pot. It is such a beautiful shade of red and I can't wait to cook in it. I have wanted one of these forever and I finally got it!

Along with this, I have gotten the go-ahead to get myself a new set of pots. Here is the thing...I don't know what kind of pots I want, but I know I want something that will be good quality and last me for the rest of my life. The only qualification is that I do not want nonstick cookware. Any suggestions from my favorite peanut gallery?



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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Don't Cut Up Your Princess Express Credit Card!

I ran across this from Life, In a Nutshell! This is classic and a great laugh (and lesson too!)

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Santa Spotting

We went to a friend's holiday open house and Santa happened to stop by to see the children. As we were too sick to make it over to see our amazing mall Santa (he truly is!), we decided this was a perfect opportunity to get the kid's special visit in with Santa.

Pictured here is how polite our son is... some of the time anyway! He is raising his hand and saying, "Excuse me, Santa! Santa, excuse me! I need to speak with you"

Ethan quickly plops down in Santa's lap and talks his ear off. A last minute change of plans occurrs where his original plan of getting a Monster Truck was now changed and he wanted a Hummer Truck that he could ride in (price tag of $300). He says Santa told him to write it all out and he would see what he could do. Unfortunately, Santa already shopped and Santa did not have $300 in the Santa fund to spend. What can I say? Our Santa is cheap.
Emily is watching Ethan talk with Santa and is really excited to see him. I mean, you can just see it in her face. I know that this is the year that we get that amazing shot of her with Santa. This will not be a repeat of last year. She is going to look so cute on Santa's lap....Oh! We are getting excited now. I hand her over to Santa and all of a sudden...
Santa looks at me and says, "Oh no! There is something wrong with this one" (All pictures can be expanded for real-life detail and trauma we invoked on our child)

Better luck next year, I say! Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Operation: Sterilization

Today was spent sterilizing everything in our house, thanks to a bad case of the stomach flu. It used to be that I would get sick and my mom would change my sheets, hold my hair back when I got sick, and get all of that sick food out (Jello, Sprite, hot soup, etc...) Boy, do I miss those days! Nothing makes you miss your mommy more than when you get sick as an adult. Can I get an, "Amen"?

I stripped the beds and washed them in hot water, ran the sterilization program on our dishwasher for all of our dishes, killed the carpet germs with my super UV powers, steam cleaned the hardwood and bathroom floors, and sterilized the bathrooms with some of those homemade cleaners in my closet. If a winter storm wasn't brewing outside, I would be whipping all of these windows open to do a little airing out of the house.

Would one call this obsessive compulsive or just high-maintenance? I am not sure, but I hope that we can prevent another family member from suffering from this plague. Each meal, my husband thinks it is going to be his last. Isn't it amazing how differently you look at food when you think you might get sick from it?

On another note, I completed all of my holiday baking on the day I got sick. I am thinking I am going to be pitching my six 9x13 pans of goodies that I made. This almost makes me sick all over again, but I don't want my gift to be the gift that keeps on giving (If you know what I mean?) I don't think I have the energy or the funds to make a second batch of stuff so I might have to skip the goodies this year...which makes me really sad.

Side Note: I get tons and tons of emails about what I use to clean our hardwood floors. I bought a Bissell Steam Mop and it was BY FAR one of the best investments I have ever made for caring for our house. They had discontinued selling these, but they recently came out with another model of them and it looks to be the same, just a different color. It has replaceable terry mop heads that you can just throw in your washer. I bought extra of them because I use them so often. If you have difficulties carrying for your floors, this makes the job a lot easier. Amazon doesn't have them in stock right now, but a quick Google search should come up with some other stores that sell them.

If anyone else has hardwood floor advice, please share! Who can't use a little help when it comes to this household chore?

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Prayer Request

I have a very special friend named Amy that I would like to share with you. Amy & I actually met through the internet and through my website. Her husband worked for a news channel in town, who featured our site in one of their stories, and he told Amy about it and she decided to visit the site.

Our friendship grew through emails exchanged back and forth and we were so surprised by how much we had in common. Amy has a similar quirky sense of humor, she has a computer hubby, she & I both had one little boy...oh, and her name was Amy too!

When I got the opportunity to talk to a mom's group in another town, Amy happened to be friends with the moms and had been planning to go too. She emailed me and said that she was willing to drive and I could ride with her to the meeting. It was a bit like a blind date for us, but we talked all the way there and back, enjoying great conversation about motherhood and all that goes along with it.

Amy later joined my mom's group and quickly became a leader in our group. Sadly, her husband found a job in another town, and Amy had to move to another city. I have discovered though that Amy has found an awesome congregation, has found a rock-steady faith in God, and she has made a new and wonderful life for herself in her new town. We were sad to see her leave, but who can argue with all of that good stuff?

Recently though, Amy has went through one of the most heartbreaking experiences that a mother could ever go through. When she was only twenty weeks pregnant, they discovered that their child was diagnosed with a rare and fatal disease called anencephaly. They were told that they had to make the decision on whether to terminate the pregnancy or asked if they would want to deliver their little daughter to term, not knowing if the baby would even be with them when she was born.

They made a very brave decision to carry their daughter, named Lydia Grace, to term knowing that this was the best choice for their family. I can't imagine how heart wrenching that decision must have been, but they knew that it was the only decision and proceeded on with her pregnancy and making arrangements that no parent should ever have to make.

Lydia Grace was born on December 3rd and she spent only 28 minutes with their family before going to be with the Lord.

I just ask that each of you lift their family up in prayer and help them during this difficult time. I have been so thankful for Amy and her friendship and I know that God has a reason for all of this and for all of the people who have been touched by their family and by Lydia Grace.

If you have any kind words to share with their family, please leave them here!

We are praying for you Mike, Amy, & Alex!



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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Frugal Hacks: Ornament Decorating Fun

For today's installment on Frugal Hacks, I am sharing crafty ideas for making holiday ornaments with your children. I have been spending some time surfing the internet to come up with some ideas for Ethan & I to do together so I thought I would share them with you too!

In this picture is our ornament making station that I made for our special ornament-making days. I purchased a vinyl tablecloth and loads of fun crafty supplies from the dollar store. Right now they have wooden ornaments that come in a ten pack for decorating that would be a wonderful decorative addition to any gift.

I just love decorating the Christmas tree and thought it would be a fun discussion to share your favorite ornaments that you hang on your tree each year.

I have two special ornaments that I absolutely love and that bring a smile to my face each time I get them out. One is a beautiful painted light bulb that one of my co-workers purchased for me at my very first "real" job. I was working as an administrative assistant and this gentleman was the head of the sales department and told me if I worked extra hard, he would secure a position for me in the sales department. So...I worked my tail off and did extra projects for the group and he gave me this special ornament right before he told me that he never got permission to hire me as an assistant and then I eventually was laid off after a brief promotion as a marketing assistant...WAIT! This is a horrible story! Why the heck is that my favorite ornament?

In all seriousness, the ornament represented one of the first times in my life where I felt like a grown-up and I felt valued as an employee. I felt like a smart woman and I had struggled through school (getting by on my fine social skills, mind you!) so it felt good to feel appreciated and valued as an employee.

My other favorite ornament is a Dunkin' Donuts ornament that I won in an ornament exchange. When we lived in Massachusetts, every single day I would buy myself a cup of joe over at our local Dunkin' Donuts. Our first home, a small townhouse, was situated behind a Dunkin' Donuts and we would get bagels and muffins from there all of the time for our Saturday mornings.

Right after I had Ethan, I was determined to get my baby weight off, and we had an amazing bike trail right outside of our home so I would walk it for miles trying to get the baby weight off. On my way, I would stop at the Dunkin' Donuts to pick up an iced mochachocalocaroca that I thought tasted like a little bit of heaven. It was my little reward to myself for working so hard to get my weight off.

But my weight wasn't coming off. And I was putting on weight. How was this possible? Um, did the smart & educated woman check to see how many calories a mochachocalocaroca has in it? No! Despite a background in food and nutrition, I never thought twice about the gazillion calories I was taking on my athletic walk. But, oh, what a taste of heaven that was!

The moral of the story is, every ornament has a story. Go ahead! Ask your grandmother about the ornaments on her tree- I bet she will have a story to tell!

Sound Off:
Please share your favorite ornament on your tree! I would love to hear your stories!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Going Without Prescription Coverage: A Self-Discovery

I debated a long time about whether or not to post this, but I figured it might help someone else out there so I thought I would share my experience.

When my husband started his new job, we started a ninety day lapse in insurance coverage. We have purchased a temporary policy with a high deductible, but we are going without some of the perks that we had with our old policy. One of those perks was a reimbursement program on my prescription drugs.

I do want to begin by saying that the medication I was on was not working for me. I have IBS and I have depression and the drugs that my family physician had me on were not helping me at all. If there was a side effect listed with the medication, I had it. I am one of those people who experiences terrible side effects, which makes me hesitant to ever fool around with a good thing when it comes to my medicine. Unfortunately, since I have had Emily, I have not found that magical sweet spot where I have felt good and we have been bouncing me around on all sorts of medicines and no relief from either ailment. When my stomach medication was pulled by the FDA due to people dying from complications, I threw my hands up in the air and knew that I needed to make a change.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I talked with a girlfriend who is a firm believer in homeopathic remedies. My feelings towards these types of treatments have always been disbelief. I will admit it, I have always considered many of these remedies a waste of money. Her sister-in-law has three homeopathic practices and a long line of happy clients, so she said she could ask her some of the things that I could take after I explained everything that I was looking for, what wasn't working, and so on. I remember thinking that if it sounded too "weird" or "out there" that I would not take them.

Another important element to me was that I was not paying more for my treatment than I was for the prescription drugs. Always the frugal girl, I wanted my treatment to be affordable, but also to feel better.

My friend gave me a list of what she had suggested and none of it was strange or unheard of. For my stomach, one of her recommendations was a cup of hot water with lemon before bed (how frugal is that?) She also had a substitute for my anti-depressant and a few items that would boost my immune system.

I have been doing this for about a month now and I have never felt better in my life. My constant tiredness and that cloudiness that I felt is gone and I am feeling more like myself than I have ever felt before. I am amazed at the difference that I feel and how I react towards my family. I am experiencing no side effects and I see a noticeable difference in myself. I feel like me again and it has been a long time since I have felt that way.

The icing on the cake is the extra $200 that will be sitting in my account each month. My new medicines only cost me $50 each month! What a savings!

If medications aren't working for you, homeopathic remedies might be worth looking into. My depression and stomach problems were mild, but were having a negative effect on my life. With care from an expert in the homeopathic field, you might be able to relieve yourself of your symptoms and keep a little extra money in your pocket at the same time.

If you do have to take medications though, my articles on going without health insurance and my article on going without prescription coverage might provide some help! I also blogged on treating ailments when you are without coverage or are looking for the cheapest way to treat your sickness.

Sound Off: Have you ever substituted homeopathic remedies for prescription drugs? What are your feelings towards these types of remedies?

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Happy Fall!

Our leaves are falling and there are plenty of raking opportunities over here. While Emily laid down for her nap, I took Ethan outside to rake leaves. He was so excited to help me and I was excited to do something with just him.
I have felt lots of mommy guilt about not giving the kids the equal time they each deserve. Ethan and I had a heart-to-heart yesterday evening about how he sometimes misses doing stuff with just me. I am going to try to make more of an effort to take advantage of her naptime to create some time for just the two of us. Likewise, I need to make more time for just my Emily when Ethan is at school. I know I can't be the only mommy who feels torn at times.Raking seemed like the perfect opportunity to share some time together. I raked while Ethan ran through the leaves, batted the leaves with a baseball bat, and gathered leaves in his trick-or-treat bucket.
Ethan also worked on little hats that blew away for his pumpkins. The kids picked white pumpkins this year and we did a pumpkin decorating playgroup at a girlfriend's house. The best part? No pumpkin painting or carving. Foamy craft kits decorated the pumpkin faces and made for some good clean fun for the kids. I would have never thought to do this and the kids still had a blast making their pumpkin faces. I still enjoy the carving and painting, but this was an easy alternative for some last minute decorating.



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Friday, September 21, 2007

Enjoying the Last Days of Summer

We are coming to the end of the summer and it is that weird time in the season where I find myself preparing for the seasons ahead while sitting in my bathing suit in hot & humid weather.

Yesterday we enjoyed a day outside. The kids played in the sprinklers while I worked on our laundry and flipped through recipe books for the Christmas season.

I have been working on planning my Christmas treat boxes and have been hitting the thrift store often for pretty tins to put my cookies in. We had so much fun delivering to the firefighters and other people in our family, that I find myself really looking forward to our next delivery. It was a lot of work, but so neat to surprise everyone with treats from our kitchen.

Today I washed all of our fall linens for the beds and they are hanging out in the sunshine. I have a fall quilt in burgundy & navy flapping in the hot sun. My space heater, flannel sheets, and electric blanket will have to wait until it gets nice and cool.

I bought my mums to plant and a pot to put some of them on our step. Next I will be working on my fall decorating around the house. I don't have a ton of decorations, but just a few pieces to add to the fall spirit around here.

Finding acorns lying next to my beach chair reminded me how close we are to being able to enjoy some crisp fall weather. Until then, we will be soaking up the sunshine and enjoying as much time outdoors as we can.

Have you been doing any fall preparations in your house? Are you enjoying these last dog days of summer?

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Life in Turmoil

I apologize that our Month of Savings series has taken a small detour. My mom has been very sick and has been in the ICU these past two weeks. This past month has been a rough one and I am trying hard to keep all of this interesting, but family stuff takes the priority right now.

Most of my spare time has been spent over at the hospital so I was unable to do my morning segment this Tuesday and my posting hasn't been the best these past couple of weeks. I appreciate your patience and prayers very much!

My husband did start his new job and with a new job comes new financial issues. No insurance for ninety days is one of the things we are facing, but I will need to spend some time looking into insurance options that might be available to us during our lapse in coverage.

He is also doing a different type of job where he goes from place to place, so lunch has now become more of an issue for him. He used to just take leftovers everyday, but now we are running into the issue that he may or may not be at a location where he can warm his food up. One day of him running out for a burger and soda (at the only restaurant nearby) for $11 was all I needed to get myself in gear and try to figure out how we could make this work.

We decided leftovers for the days he is at his office and sandwiches and snacks for days he is somewhere unfamiliar. I went to our local restaurant supplies store and got 9 pounds of turkey and five pounds of cheese. Total spent was $38, but I was able to make 38 packages of lunch meats with cheese, to store in our freezer, and had forty slices of cheese leftover for grilled cheese for the kids. Now he can grab whatever he needs for his lunch and we won't have to pay for $11 burgers.

The latest dilemma though is that he will only be paid monthly. While he will be making the same amount, only getting paid once a month is really beginning to freak me out. Does anyone have any experience with this or how to manage when only getting paid once a month? Yes, I feel I am a pretty good manager of our money, but am I THAT good?

Any words of wisdom on any of the above issues would be so appreciated!

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lazy Sunday

Yucky weather has kept us home and I am enjoying a Sunday with our family. Tackling laundry, baking banana bread, finishing the house cleaning, working on the website and finishing up another round of bow orders. This is my kind of lazy Sunday. Fueled with a big mug of coffee (the mug & French press both courtesy of our lovely Goodwill store), I have been able to accomplish so much today already.

As I was working on the last of my bow orders, my mp3 player filled my ears & heart with one of my favorite songs. If you are not familiar with Dar Williams, run, run, run to your library and pick up her music. She is one of my favorite musical story tellers. This song pulls at my heartstrings and makes me cry like a baby every single time I hear it. As a mother of a little boy, the last verse just breaks my heart.

The song begs me to ask the question, "Were you once a boy too?"

Hope you all are enjoying a lazy Sunday too!

When I Was A Boy by Dar Williams

I won't forget when Peter Pan came to my house, took my hand
I said I was a boy; I'm glad he didn't check.
I learned to fly, I learned to fight I lived a whole life in one night
We saved each other's lives out on the pirate deck.

And I remember that night
When I'm leaving a late night with some friends
And I hear somebody tell me it's not safe, someone should help me
I need to find a nice man to walk me home.

When I was a boy,
I scared the pants off of my mom,
Climbed what I could climb upon
And I don't know how I survived,
I guess I knew the tricks that all boys knew.
And you can walk me home,
but I was a boy, too.

I was a kid that you would like,
just a small boy on her bike
Riding topless, yeah, I never cared who saw.
My neighbor come outside to say, "Get your shirt,"
I said "No way, it's the last time I'm not breaking any law."

And now I'm in a clothing store, and the sign says less is more
More that's tight means more to see,
more for them, not more for me
That can't help me climb a tree in ten seconds flat
When I was a boy, see that picture?
That was me
Grass-stained shirt and dusty knees

And I know things have gotta change,
They got pills to sell,
they've got implants to put in,
they've got implants to remove
But I am not forgetting
That I was a boy too

And like the woods where I would creep,
it's a secret I can keep
Except when I'm tired,
except when I'm being caught off guard

I've had a lonesome awful day,
the conversation finds its way
To catching fire-flies out in the backyard.
And I tell the man I'm with about the other life I lived
And I say now you're top gun,
I have lost and you have won

And he says, "Oh no, no, can't you see
When I was a girl, my mom and I we always talked
And I picked flowers everywhere that I walked.
And I could always cry,
now even when I'm alone I seldom do
And I have lost some kindness
But I was a girl too.

And you were just like me, and I was just like you.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

What is this Secret?

I mentioned today in my blog that I got the opportunity to go to a viewing of the movie, “The Secret” which was recently featured on an Oprah episode. I had decided to not watch the episode on her show and go into the movie with an open mind. I understood the idea behind it, but wanted to make sure that my heart was open to what the movie could teach me. Being a Christian, I also did not want to compromise my beliefs or feel as though I had strayed from what I had been taught. I had heard that the movie could help me be a more positive person though and who could not use a little of that in their lives?

Although I did not believe everything in the movie, there were elements within it that really made me think about the way I have been living my life and how I could improve myself as a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend. For example, I try to be positive, but find that I am easily strayed by the negative. I want to change the world, but I focus on what I dislike about the world, rather than the positive things that I could do to improve it. I can be very pessimistic when a more positive attitude would be more beneficial to me. Of course I could go on and on about things I have done wrong, but we are focusing on the positive, right?

Many of the principles within the movie are harmonious with what I have been taught to be as a Christian, but hearing them reiterated in a new way made the ideas fresh for me and helped me in a way that I really needed at this point in my life. Here are some basic ideas that I would like to incorporate within my day…

Gratitude- I need to be grateful for what God has already supplied for me. I have so many great things going on in my life and I need to focus on my gratitude for those things, and less on the things that I don’t have. The suggestion for a journal of gratitude is certainly not a new idea, but it served as a reminder to me that I need to do this and start writing down the things I have been given.

Focus Board- They had suggested putting together a focus board of the things that you want in your life. Although I thought too much of the movie focused on the material things, I think there are words and images that I could use within a focus board that I could use to inspire me. I talked about this idea with my husband last night and suggested that we actually do this project together, rather than separate. I told him that I want our goals to be ones that we set together. His goals should be my goals and vice versa. I would like to put on the board the amount of money that we will need to be financially free and focus on that number daily. That is just one example of something we would like to put on our board. Once our board is put together, I will take a picture of it to hopefully inspire you to do your own board!

Ask & Patiently Wait- I have no problem asking for things in prayer, but then the waiting patiently part is the one that I have a hard time with. In a culture where we want everything NOW not later, I have been conditioned to not wait patiently for a response. In the movie they say that if you ask it and believe it, that you will receive it.

Be Positive- It is such a simple idea and yet it seems so hard to do. They do focus on energies and life forces, but what I drew from it is that I radiate what I feel onto other people. If I constantly am consumed with self-doubt and don’t believe in myself, no one is going to believe in me. Yet, if I can radiate confidence and self-worth, people will see that and be drawn to that.
The ideas within the movie are simple ideas, as are the ideas within the Bible. Do unto others, ask and you shall receive, you reap what you sow…yet, sometimes simple is good and simple is what you need.

What an awesome mom I could be if I could teach my children to do these things too. When our children get older we could have them also do gratitude journals and posters of the things that they want in their life. Teaching our children to surround themselves with positive people and to believe that they can be anything that they want to be are great things that I can do for them. Again, they are not new ideas, but gentle reminders that I am not doing enough of this.

I do encourage you to view this movie as it was such an amazing experience for me. Sometimes you need these little reminders and nudges in your life. This served as a great reminder for me and I look forward to implementing these ideas in our home.

If you have seen the movie and would like to share what you have gained from the experience, please chat away! Each person, I am sure, takes something different from it. I took from it what I needed to incorporate within my own life.

I would like to thank WSBT-TV for giving me the opportunity to view this movie!

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