Monday, November 30, 2009

Traveling with 3 Kids

Our recent trip to Disney I posted about yesterday was the first plane trip for my kids in 20 months. We have been saving up for this vacation. But I didn't imagine and was amazed by the difference that 20 months of time made in my 3 little travelers!

Someday I'll tell you about our last plane trip with 3 kids when they were ages 4 years, 2 years, and 10 months old, but for now, let's just sum it up like this -- glad we did it, memories were made, but it was HARD!

And this trip?

Here's my 4 year old daughter (the one that pretty much refused to walk on her own the last trip), pulling a suitcase!

And the 6 year old? Pushing the stroller with his brother plus bags and of course, the stuffed "Big Duke". That large stuffed bulldog almost needed his own seat on the plane!

Oh, and check out my seatmate for the plane ride home! My husband thought he was getting the better end of the deal being one row ahead with the 4 year old and 6 year old, leaving me with the 2 year old. Thankfully for me, that exhausted toddler conked out during take-off and didn't wake up again until we were preparing to land! I actually got to READ A BOOK ON THE PLANE! In the last 6.5 years I've had traveling with kids, that has never happened!!!
And then today, shortly after my 6 year old got home from school he said out of the blue, "Thanks for the trip. I don't think I said thank-you, yet." Even old enough to be grateful for the vacation!

So to all you moms still traveling with babies, placating them with cheerios, one at a time for the duration of the flight, praying the plane lands before the snacks run out, I've been there and I'm here to tell you, it does get easier!

This post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge.

Check out Gratituesday and Tuesdays Unwrapped.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I was NOT here

I'm easing back into the real world after a holiday with Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have NOT been doing (but really have!).

While on my bloggy break I was NOT here with my family of 5:

And if we were at Disney World beginning the Saturday before Thanksgiving and flying back home on Thanksgiving Day. There is NO WAY we were blessed enough to enjoy both a vacation trip and a traditional Thanksgiving with relatives when my husband's parents came to visit us the Friday after Thanksgiving!

Considering my daughter's extreme life-sized character phobia, that is definitely NOT her standing in front of a huge Pooh and Tigger without freaking out! Impossible!!

And this? Where she actually handed the character a pen for an autograph? NEVER happened!

And I did NOT cave to the Disneyness-once-in-a-lifetime-experience of it all and allow my daughter to be transformed into princess Belle!
And the make-up they sent her home with in that pink bag? I did NOT hide immediately upon us returning home for my daughter to wear again when she's oh about 16 or 17 years old!

I'm NOT putting off my 1st post-Thanksgiving Shred workout until tomorrow! NOPE, NOT ME!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What it is Like Having a Big Sister

Originally published here on April 22, 2009

By having a boy, then a girl, and then another boy, I've been able to watch a big brother in action with his baby sister and a big sister in action with her baby brother and let me tell you, they are very different!

You may remember this post of mine where I shared about the brotherly love between my 2 boys. Well, today's picture reveals a thousand words about what it is like having a big sister:
  1. It is a lot like having a miniature mommy following you around all the time!
  2. In this picture taken about 20 months ago, she climbed into the bassinet portion of the Pack N' Play with her baby brother and is trying to put his pacifier back in.
  3. Notice the baby is not crying, meaning he is not at all bothered by his big sister being there, in fact he is already quite used to her smothering him with attention!
  4. Also, notice the baby is not crying, yet she was determined to put that paci in. She felt he should always be sucking it!
  5. She continues to be the little mommy even now that her nearly 2 year old brother almost outweighs her!
  6. I often hear her asking, "What's the matter Baby?" when he is fussing about something.
  7. Ever the helpful big sister she has also been known to say, "I will show him which one he wants!"
  8. And we wondered why this baby brother barely spoke until he was 19 months old!
  9. It is most amazing to me that she will notice him with a runny nose, run get a Kleenex, and wipe it for him, all without being asked! In 6 years of living, I don't think her older brother has ever willing wiped his own nose, much less someone else's!
  10. God really does equip men and women differently and in general He seems to give women the nurturing role!
  11. Man can she ever make him mad, but oh how that baby brother loves his "Sisser"! He even wants her to sleep in the bed next to his crib, which she obliges most nights!
  12. "Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring - quite often the hard way." ~Pamela Dugdale
  13. I am so thankful they have each other and pray they will always be close!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What it is Like Being the 3rd Child

Originally published March 4, 2009

This picture of my 3rd child peaking out the doggie door says a thousand words about what it is like being the 3rd child. My 13 thoughts about this picture:

  1. Yes, you are seeing correctly, his older brother and sister are trying to entice him out the doggie door!
  2. The older ones do delight in seeing their little brother do silly things.
  3. Only 14 more years before they'll both be off at college and he'll finally get some peace!
  4. I love that my oldest child is wearing his "I'm the Big Brother" shirt in this picture, because he is the ringleader.
  5. My daughter can be very sweet and encouraging, no doubt that is why she took on the job of coaxing the baby brother out the doggie door, "Come on, you can do it!"
  6. The little one is really just tickled with all the attention from his older sibs!
  7. That 3rd child is always up to something crazy, I wonder how much is his idea and how much is the older kids putting him up to it!
  8. "He did it all by himself," my older two will insist when I accuse them of putting him up to mischief.
  9. Like I said last week, I never know what I'm going to find these kids doing, but it is usually picture-worthy!
  10. At least someone is using the doggie door -- our dog certainly doesn't!
  11. It is a blessing to watch them play together!
  12. You can call this "play", right?
  13. I praise you Lord, for giving them the gift of each other! May they always be the best of friends!

Monday, November 23, 2009

What it is like having 3 kids - part 3

Originally published February 25, 2009

This picture of my kids a little over a year ago says a thousand words about what it is like having 3 kids! My 13 thoughts about this picture:
  1. How sweet it is to see them loving on each other!
  2. This momma was too tired to care that the bigger kids had climbed in the pack n' play with the baby.
  3. This momma was just glad they were all quiet for a few seconds.
  4. The screaming began seconds after this picture was taken!
  5. This momma was having a good day because all 3 kids are actually dressed in something other than pajamas!
  6. A 3rd child does not get much alone time!
  7. You never get tired of pictures of the 3 of them together!
  8. This pack n' play was actually this poor 3rd child's only bed for a few months until his big sister was out of the real crib!
  9. A baby with a big sister gets tons of kisses! My daughter ran around saying, "Tiss him! Tiss him!" for the first several months after we brought her baby brother home.
  10. When your 3 little kids are no longer right under your feet and you head off to look for them, take along your camera because chances are what you find will be picture-worthy!
  11. The weight limit on the pack n' play must be 90+ pounds!
  12. All 3 kids contained = a beautiful thing!
  13. Lord, thank you for the blessing of them!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What It Is Like Having a Toddler in the House

Originally published April 8, 2009

What it is like having a toddler in the house:
  1. Yeah, it's pretty much like that. THOUSANDS of popcorn kernels strewn across your kitchen floor!
  2. He pulled the bag out of the pantry, took off the clothes pin that was keeping the bag shut, and shook the entire contents onto the floor.
  3. I was just a few feet away and heard him rustling in the pantry but it was snack time, the bigger kids had been in the pantry, too, and I assumed he was getting out crackers.
  4. Then I heard it, a sound like rain and wondered what in the world had happened that it was raining in my kitchen.
  5. The next sounds were from my 6 year old shrieking, "He's doing something really bad!"
  6. I stared at the mess in disbelief. We were having guests the next day and I had many things to clean up already!
  7. Clearly the popcorn kernels became first priority.
  8. I whisked out the 2 sets of hand brooms and dust pans as my toddler began shouting, "MESS! MESS!"
  9. I guess it was a lesson in cause and effect for him. Bag of popcorn kernels + opening + turning upside down = MESS!
  10. I made the mistake of enlisting my toddler and 2 older kids in helping clean up the mess, I guess I thought the work of cleaning it up would deter any of them from making such a mess again, but soon there were popcorn kernels coating the entire 1st floor of my home!
  11. Because you see, kids sweep with gusto and they are not so good with the dust pan!
  12. If you come to my home anytime in the next 8 months you are likely to step on a kernel. Take my advice and wear your shoes at all times!
  13. Thankfully that mischievous toddler is also the sweetest thing, giving the best hugs many times each day. Just yesterday when I got him out of his crib first thing in the morning, all he wanted to do was, "Kiss . . . Sisser! Hug . . . Sisser!" and he did, crawl in bed with his big sister and kiss and hug her!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I will be taking a bloggy break for the next 10 days or so to focus fully on my family over the Thanksgiving holiday. But since I fear someone may miss their regular dose of chaos, I've scheduled some old blog posts from my "What It Is Like" series to republish for your viewing pleasure next week.

I wish you a wonderful, happy, blessed Thanksgiving! My Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred video and I will be waiting for you here when it is all over!

I leave you with 7 Thanksgiving quotes:
"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,' that would suffice."
Meister Eckhart

"A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues."

"Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds."
~Theodore Roosevelt

"Some people complain because God put thorns on roses,
while others praise Him for putting roses among thorns."

"You say, 'If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.' You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled."
Charles Haddon Spurgeon

"In everything give thanks for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thess 5:18

"Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him,
and bless his name. For the Lord is good..."
Psalm 100:4, 5a

Find more Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life, 7 Quick Takes Friday at Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Snowman Soup!

This week brought the first truly cold air to our area (and by truly cold I mean less than 50 degrees and yes, I know that is spring for many of you, but for us this is winter -- brrrrr!) and my kids could hardly wait for what they knew was coming along with the cold snap.

The season's first Snowman Soup! A tradition of hot chocolate making we do often during our colder months (or weeks as it usually is every year).

13 Ingredients for Snowman Soup:
  • 5 cups powdered milk,
  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup powdered non-dairy creamer
  • boiling water
  • mugs
  • Miniature marshmallows
  • Miniature chocolate chips
  • Candy canes
  • whipped cream
  • red sprinkles
  • green sprinkles
  • a camera
So, here's what you do:
Mix the first 4 ingredients together in a bowl. Then scoop out a few spoonfuls for each mug of hot water you are making (save any left-over powder in a jar for next time). Then let each child add marshmallows and chocolate chips to their mug and give them a candy cane to stir it up with. Top it off with whipped cream sprinkled with red and green sprinkles. Last, grab your camera and be ready to capture the first sip -- you'll be thankful you did!

Find more Thankful Thursday, Thursday Thirteen, and Thousand Words Thursday at Cheaper Than Therapy

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Who needs a four bedroom house?

This past Saturday my husband and I did some pretty serious cleaning out. I pulled nearly everything out of this upstairs linen closet and before I could put the things back in an organized fashion, I got sidetracked with something else downstairs. The kids were playing happily upstairs. I went back up and found this scene, the 6 year old on the shelf 2nd from the top, the 4 year old on the 1st shelf, and the 2 year old on the closet floor!

As I ran to grab my camera my 4 year old daughter yelled, "Mommy can we sleep here tonight? Please!!!!!"

So, if they are happy, delighted even, with a shelf in the linen closet, I'm thinking who needs a four bedroom house?!!!

Find more Wordless or Wordful Wednesday.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Why I Stayed

Although this month marks 5 years since the following story happened, I remember it like yesterday.

She is 6 months old and in the hospital.

She is not my child, but she is my Child Advocates child.

A child I am the court appointed special advocate for, a volunteer position, but one that intertwines her life, the lives of her 3 siblings, parents, foster parents, lawyers, a judge and many others with mine for over a year.

She was removed from her parents' care only a couple days after her birth along with her 2 older brothers and 1 older sister. By the time I met her she was 4 months old and was in her 2nd foster home, placed with her older sister but separated from her 2 brothers.

She is tiny, much tinier that a 6 month old should be, and she is losing weight instead of gaining. Her foster mother and I together checked her into the hospital on the pediatrician's orders.

It takes us about 5 hours to get her admitted to the hospital. I am there to make sure the doctors understand the family history of this little girl, things the foster mom does not entirely have access to, but I, as a legal party to the court case, have read. You see, this baby girl had an older sibling die a few years earlier in infancy from similar symptoms. I am scared for this baby. The doctors must figure out what is wrong, they must save her from the same fate.

When she gets moved out of admitting to her hospital room, it is very late, the foster mother must go home so the baby's 3 year old sister can go to sleep. The foster mother is a single woman. There is no one else to stay with the baby in the hospital. The CPS caseworker is overworked (on more than 30 cases) and takes 3 days to return calls, the parents cannot see the baby except during their supervised visits for 1 hour every other week. The nurses at the hospital promise to look in on the baby often but have other patients to tend to as well.

And so I stay.

For 3 nights I stay, sleeping at her bedside, leaving in the morning when other help arrives so I can go home and take care of my 21 month old son while my husband is at work.

Doctors and nurses that come in and out often mistake me for the baby's mother, and when I explain the situation they are surprised that I stay.

I stay because I do not want her to wake up and be alone in the hospital.

Because she spits up a lot and I don't want her to be in soiled sheets and pajamas for very long before someone notices and changes her.

Because if she were my child and I could not be with her, I would want someone to care enough to stay with her.

Because when I was diagnosed with lymphoma only 2 months prior, God assured me that no matter what happened to me He would take care of my son and husband, and I realize the irony that now I am His provision of care for someone else's child.

Because He has promised to never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6).

The baby girl did survive, she will likely always be small, but otherwise should be basically healthy. She and her siblings were returned to their parents a few months later and I visited every week, often making surprise visits to check that everything was okay, that the parents were doing what they were supposed to do to care for their children. I got to be there when she celebrated her 1st birthday. She had beautiful, sticking up blond hair. She was just beginning to crawl and wearing 3-6 month old clothes at 12 months. Then the case closed and I said "goodbye" and prayed that it really was a happy ending for those four precious children.

This post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge.

Check out Gratituesday and Tuesdays Unwrapped.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm NOT Telling!

God has done huge, amazing, miraculous things! Wanna see proof? Head over to MckMama's blog to read about Stellan's miracle! Then join in the fun of Not Me! Monday where she and everyone else share what they have NOT (but really have) been doing!

Around our house:

My toddler has NOT taken a liking to using the doggie door to go out into the backyard. When he tells me he wants to go through the doggie door, I gently remind him that he is a
person and not in fact a dog. I certainly do NOT simply slide up the white door cover and allow him to crawl through the flap! And this is NOT a picture of my husband and oldest son right before they shoot corn out of that cannon! We live in Texas and shooting corn out of a cannon is NOT AT ALL what we do for fun 'round these parts! While I'm showing you pictures of people I am NOT related to, this is NOT my daughter modeling every! single! construction paper bracelet she made at preschool that morning!
Now that I took the powder out of his room, my toddler has NOT found new ways to entertain himself during naptime, like climbing up to the top drawer of his dresser to get the wipes box and unloading them all into a plastic tub in his closet!

And if you opened the dryer at my house you would NEVER find this:
When I make homemade bread, I do NOT sometimes stick it in the warm dryer to speed the rising time!

Happy Monday y'all!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What's New?

A fun part about life with kids is there is always something new going on. Or is that the bad thing about life with kids? I guess it depends on what that new thing is!

Seven new things around our house:

My 4 year old daughter just learned to pump herself on the swing. She is so proud, we are so proud, and now she spends a good part of each day doing this!

Is it just me or do little girls like to swing much more than boys? Boys would rather climb and slide and don't have the patience to stick with the swing long enough to actually get themselves going with the pumping.

But, my boy? The 6 year old has entered this phase:

And I love seeing it so much! He's reading chapter books silently to himself, often, and by choice. Sometimes even while standing! We bought The Boxcar Children Books 1-4 at my daughter's school book fair on Monday and he is totally loving them!

For the toddler, he has entered the phase of language development where he realizes the need for past-tense (as in adding -ed to words) but is still not quite sure when and how to do it. Favorite things I've heard him say recently:
"I sleep-did!" meaning, "I slept."
"I hop-did!" meaning "I hopped."

and my absolute favorite:
"I naked-did!" meaning, "I'm naked!"

And speaking of the toddler, at 2 years and 6 months he is not potty trained even though his big sister was at 23 months and his big brother at 2 years and 2 months. I tried. I failed.

But on a positive note, the toddler has been grabbing wipes and wiping himself during dirty diaper changes. So, I've switched my strategy and instead of trying to potty train him, I'm just gonna teach him to change his own diaper!

And this has been going on a lot around here lately. In fact my house is over-run with them. The acorns! They are in piles on kid tables, in envelopes brought home from school, in little baggies, in cups, basically everywhere! Anyone else have little acorn collectors?

Oh, and the Batman turkey. I'm not sure whether to count this as the high or low point of the week. But we did complete the 1st grade family Thanksgiving project. A note came home telling us to cut out the attached turkey and paste it on poster board and then decorate it in a creative way. We embellished our turkey with felt Batman accessories, a cape and mask made of silky fabric, and fabric feathers.

And my husband and I? May or may not be navigating the waters of exactly how much to help on kid school projects. Granted this one did specify it was to be a "fun family project". But still, I draw the line at actually coloring over an area my child had colored just to make it look better. My husband, however, apparently does not have that same line! He may have caved to the pressure of the other turkeys he saw hanging in the school hall that were turned in early (before we even started ours) and looked as he put it, "professionally done, like the parents took it to Michaels and let someone there do it for them!"

Find more Friday Funnies at Homesteader's Heart, Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life, 7 Quick Takes Friday at Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Great Toys Part 2

As I blogged about in this Christmas Conspiracy post, we are not spending as much this Christmas, particularly on our kids. They have too much already, we have too much collectively as a family and there are others who have so little. I'm thankful for a chance to be a better steward of the money God allows us to have.

So that being said, I have been thinking more about toys that are a waste of money and toys that are true quality and will entertain kids of a variety ages for many years! To see part 1 of my post on great toys click here. And to round out the list of toys that have proved to be great toys in our household, here are 13 more:
  • An Easel - here is a great, cheap one that we have had for years from Ikea
  • Legos and wooden blocks
  • Wooden Train set
  • Dress-up clothes
  • Kid table and chairs - I got a Pottery Barn Kids one off Ebay a few years ago and my little kids use it every day for crafts and snacks.
  • Plastic Animals - My kids play with this set a bunch
  • Dolls and doll clothes - my daughter plays equally with her expensive (Grandma-bought) American Girl doll and the much cheaper Target variety!
  • Playtent or Playhouse - we have a tent-castle (from Ikea but I don't think they sell it anymore) and this playhouse set up in our playroom and the kids use both for all sorts of imaginary play!
  • "Guys" - Star Wars, Superman, Batman, etc. action figures
  • Toy Grocery Cart
  • Play Kitchen with food
** In the interest of full disclosure: I was not asked to write this post or endorse any particular product. I am an affiliate and thus receive a small percentage of any purchases you make using my links that go to Amazon.

And you know I could say a thousand words about great toys, but really, if you want to save money this year, just give your kids a large cardboard box!

Find more Thankful Thursday, Thursday Thirteen, and Thousand Words Thursday at Cheaper Than Therapy

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting Kids to Do Chores

My kids are 6, 4, and 2 years old and although young, I do want them to be in the habit of doing chores. Not for hours a day, but just enough to have a bit of responsibility, be helpful, and learn to take care of the house. Right now, at their ages, that means about 15 minutes of work required.

But I have struggled to find a way to motivate them to get the chore done well, quickly, and without complaining. Recently I've been doing something that is working amazingly well!

Have you ever seen
the Duggars on TV? You know the family with 18 kids and counting. Or is it 19 by now? I've only watched a few times, but I did notice they have a "buddy system" where they match an older kid with a younger sibling. The older is responsible for helping out with that younger child.

I never dreamed I could use any semblance of that system with only 3 kids, but with the chores, lately I've been assigning 2 of them the same chore, with the older child's job to help the younger one do it.

For example, my 6 year old son recently showed his 4 year old sister how to wipe down all the surfaces in the bathroom. Then she did it with him coaching for the 2nd bathroom. Also, my 4 year old is teaching my 2 year old to set the table before dinner.

What is so cool is that the kids LOVE being in the teacher/coach role and they do a really good job and the younger is eager to do something usually only the bigger kid does, so they are an interested apprentice.

I guess the newness of it all may wear off soon, but for now it is fun hearing them teaching each other!

"Now you have to wipe this part of the potty before you wipe this part, so you don't spread the yucky stuff around to the not as yucky part."

He was listening when I taught him a couple years ago!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday tips here.

Not Playing Possum!

Do you know what will make you jump just a little?

Head out into your backyard in the black of night to investigate what the dog is wildly barking at under the car. Crouch down, shine y
our flashlight under to find this!!!!

Starring at you from only a couple feet away!!!

It happened to my husband and then to me as he insisted I come see, a couple nights ago.

Is it just me or does that possum not look friendly?

Good thing our dog is the fearless possum hunter!

We tried to entice her back inside with a treat to stop all the loud "I've got something!" barking.

She continued to circle the car barking while debating -- treat or possum or treat or possum?

She chose possum, and my husband had to finally drag her in by her collar allowing the possum an easy escape.

Hopefully our fearless possum hunter put enough of a scare into that creepy, large toothed, large clawed possum that he will not be back!

Find more Wordless or Wordful Wednesday.

Monday, November 9, 2009

On Top of the World!

"What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life - to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories"
~George Eliot

"To the outside world, we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time."
~Clara Ortega
Those are my 3 kids laying on top of a very large jumping thing at a super fun place about an hour away from our home. I'm not sure which kid got the idea to lay down on the jumper and the others followed, but I loved the photo opp.!! I never get tired of pictures of my 3 kids all together! I am so grateful they have each other!

This post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge.

Check out Gratituesday and Tuesdays Unwrapped.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

There is No Small Stuff

A couple weeks ago I was waiting outside the classroom to pick up my 4 year old daughter from preschool. She comes out and runs into my arms, not unusual, but instead of excitedly telling me about her day, she buries her face in my neck and won't let go. Something is wrong.

I ask her what it is and she begins to cry as she tells me, "The pumpkin wasn't in the bag. It fell out." I immediately remember the tiny plastic pumpkin she won at my son's elementary school carnival the previous Saturday. The one she wanted to bring for show and tell that day and put in a little hot pink purse. But the purse didn't zip or snap and the tiny plastic pumpkin fell out somehow between our house and the school classroom.

At first my mind wants to tell her, "It's just a small, plastic pumpkin, no big deal, don't worry about it!"
But, thankfully before I can verbalize that to her, I put myself in my daughter's shoes.

She is standing in front of her preschool class, 14 fellow 4 year olds and 2 teachers staring at her, as she opens the hot pink purse to pull out the treasured plastic pumpkin she won at the carnival. She opens the purse, but there is no pumpkin. There is nothing.

My daughter is on the shy side and I've been impressed that she's actually been willing to present her show-and-tell nearly every day to her class. But even the most outgoing person has trouble juggling an unexpected situation in front of an audience. And my girl is only 4.

I am overwhelmed with empathy for my little girl who lost her tiny pumpkin.

So I gather her tightly in my arms and say, "Oh honey, I'm so sorry that happened! I bet it fell out in the car. We'll go look and if we find it you can bring it for show and tell tomorrow." We do find it and I help her put it in a zippered purse the next day to take to school. And the entire incident is behind us.

A small situation, as situations go.

But, I can't help thinking about it, about the huge things intertwined in that small event.

First, I am impressed that my daughter was able to hold herself together in class, only breaking down in tears once she was in my arms. I think that shows great maturity on her part. As much as I'd like to shield her from the uncomfortable situations in life, it is not realistic that I could do that forever, and better that she learn little by little how to deal with bad things that happen while she can still run to my arms for comfort and help.

Second, I am so glad I was there, standing outside the door that Monday at noon. Glad to be her soft place to fall, her comfort when things go wrong.

You know as parents we are to love our children in such a way that we lead them to Jesus. That their relationship with us as loving, caring parents will allow them to fathom God as an even more loving and perfect parent.

And this verse floats into my mind: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Ps 46:1

I am so grateful that He will be there for her when I cannot be. That He promises to be
her refuge and strength. Mine and yours, too!

**Please keep MckMama (who usually hosts Not Me! Monday) in your prayers. Her precious baby Stellan is again undergoing major heart surgery. May God lavish that family with His refuge, strength and help!***

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I Blame the Kids!

I'm so glad my 4 year old and 2 year old helped me bake these from scratch chocolate chip cookies because I can totally blame them for the result:

Yeah, not sure what happened there?!!! It was like one big, flat cookie mess! Burned on the edges, raw in the middle!! I was getting them out of the oven while my husband bathed the kids, and as I began to spatula them up I immediately realized, "There is no salvaging these cookies!" It was cookie goo I was dealing with!

I had 2 problems. Problem 1: They (along with apple slices) were supposed to be snack for my daughter's preschool class the very next day, now what am I going to take for snack? Problem 2: My daughter is going to be very upset when she sees the result of the cookies she worked so hard to help me make!

It took me about 7 seconds to think of the solution to both problems.

I sent my husband to the store for the break-and-bake chocolate chip cookies!

Ahhhh, that's better!

For all my wanting to get away from prepackaged, processed foods, I think my exception may be the break-and-bake cookies! They come out perfect every time!

Find more Friday Funnies at Homesteader's Heart, Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life, 7 Quick Takes Friday at Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Clearly Container Crazy!

Over the past year of trying to get better organized, I have become a complete fanatic for the containers. Give me an empty plastic bucket, basket, shoe box, or even an empty yogurt tub and I'm a happy girl!

Here I wrote how after reading hundreds of times about using containers for organizing I finally discovered, "Hey, containers really do work for making things more organized!" And since then nearly every area of my home has been invaded with a container. Even the fridge was not immune to a little white plastic bin addition!

So all this explanation is meant to help you understand the depth of my excitement at discovering these in the Target Dollar Section, FOR ONE DOLLAR each!!!

Now that my mom can't drive she's doing all her errands with me, and I think I seriously scared her with my level of excitement and discussion over the bins FOR A DOLLAR! And then I had to start it all up again with the poor checker as she scanned each beautiful, bright, empty bucket that just screamed with organizational promise! "At the Container Store each one of those would be eight dollars!" I told her as she pretended not to be thinking, "Okay, let's settle down, Lady, they are only buckets!"

So how many did I buy?


Across two separate Target trips.

Yes, after the 1st trip I came home and found so many uses for the buckets that I had to go back the next day and buy some more!!! It is a sickness, y'all!

But I'm so glad I went back quickly because the very next day, they were almost all gone. Clearly many people see the great deal of those buckets!

I will openly admit to being a Target stalker. There was even a time 5 years ago as I decorated a big boy room for my 1st son, that I had a Target Odyssey that consisted of no less than FIVE Target stores. But as a result of that odyssey I managed to score their super cute construction themed comforter times 2 (because he had bunk beds), pillow shams for both beds, sheets, decorative pillows, rug, and matching nightlight on sale because they were discontinuing the collection!

Thankfully I live in a big city where 7 Target stores are within a 10 mile radius of my house!!

So while you ponder the extent of my patheticness at even knowing that statistic, let me share with you that I have put 13 of the 15 buckets to good use! Here's how:

  • 3 in a storage closet are containing the dollar store items I've collected for the kids Christmas stockings (1 bucket per child)
  • 2 in the storage closet are holding other small gifts I've bought for Christmas
  • 1 in my daughter's closet for her dress-up crowns, necklaces, rings, etc.
  • 1 in my daughter's closet for small bags and purses
  • 2 to contain random small toys in the playroom
  • 1 to further organize the puzzle cabinet
  • 1 to contain "guys" in my boys' room
  • 2 organized the nightstand in my boys' room

The nightstand before picture:

And after:
Just ignore the fact that the shelf is badly in need of a paint-job. I guess 5 years of little boy wear and tear will do that to a shelf that was painted with craft paint rather than real wood paint because it is what I had on hand at the time!!

If your local Target is sold out of these babies, I'm very sorry, I may have beat you there!!!

***Please know all the raving on and on about the buckets and Target all stems from my own internal crazy and not because I have been compensated at all by Target to say it!***

Find more Thankful Thursday, Thursday Thirteen, and Thousand Words Thursday at Cheaper Than Therapy

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Fate of a Little Boy with a Big Sister

As a little boy with a big sister there is a high likelihood you'll someday be dressed in a pink tutu. And when that day comes and you twirl and giggle in a pink sparkly skirt, just make sure you have your pirate sword firmly in hand because that will be the shred of masculinity you can cling to if/when the picture comes back to haunt you 12 years later!

Find more Wordless or Wordful Wednesday.

Display those Christmas Cards!

I love displaying the Christmas cards that we get, especially since so many of our friends have little kids and send cards with pictures. It is really fun to have all the cards up in the house, marvel at how much all the kids have grown and changed, and just enjoy all the cute little faces!

But until last year I didn't have a system I really liked for displaying the cards. But then I figured out this system to hang the cards onto 2 doors we have between our living room and breakfast room that we leave open all the time. I bought cheap over-the-door plastic hooks, tied thick ribbon I had on hand around the hook, made a bow and left a long tail hanging down. Then as I got cards in the mail I simply stapled them down the length of the ribbons.

It was so easy to put up initially, easy to add to as more cards came in, not to mention cheap! And we enjoyed looking at it so much it was the last Christmas decoration to come down (possibly even waiting until early February)!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday tips here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Colossal Christmas Conspiracy

Have you heard of the Advent Conspiracy?

In the video on the main page of their website (find it by clicking here), they give the statistic that Americans spend 450 billion dollars on Christmas every year. More people die from lack of clean drinking water every day that anything else. It would cost 10 billion dollars to make clean water available to everyone.

I don't know about you, but I find those numbers staggering! Each year we in America, a country where 76% of the people identify themselves as Christians, choose to celebrate Christ's birth by spending $450 billion on
stuff at the expense of lives, people created in the image of the very God we claim to love and serve!

I am ashamed for the part I have played in this! We as a family give money and toys and food and our time at Christmas, but we could do more. We are guilty of spending too much on things that won't matter to anyone in the long run. This year we are changing that. We will spend less (our specific goal is 50% less) and give more to people in true need -- the least, the last, the lost. I am grateful for a 2nd chance!

In Matt. 25:35-40, Jesus says,
'For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick or in prison, and come to You? ' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'

What do you think Jesus wants for His birthday?

This post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge.

Check out Gratituesday and Tuesdays Unwrapped.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Time Marches On

You may remember this picture from my sidebar and my profile:

Well, that was actually 2 years ago! Yes, my internet friends, when I say I'm behind on pictures, I mean I'm behind on pictures!

So, my blog family photo (much like the family photos that hang in my home) actually depicted my family as we were 2 years ago.

And this is now. . .

So, now 2 years later, is it any easier taking family photos with 3 kids?

No, not really.

But, I can say now during the hour with the photographer I am much less stressed.

The mom in the 1st photo was only 6 months into life with 3 kids. She was still trying to hold it all together, control the situation, worrying that the kids might not cooperate, fretting over wrinkled clothes, and concerned that the "perfect" picture be captured.

And in the 2nd photo the mom has learned that with 3 kids, there may be tears and runny noses and untied shoes and drool and tongues sticking out, but that in the unpredictable, the messy, there is life.

Beautiful, unscripted, REAL life!

And speaking of TIME and real life,

Whoever thought it would be a good idea to change the clocks twice a year obviously did not have young children.

My letter:
Dear Mr. or Ms. I-Invented-Daylight-Savings-Time,

Please come over to my house and explain the concept of "Fall Back" to my 2 year old. His biological clock says, "6:53 AM, time to wake-up". The clock on my nightstand says, "5:53 AM, definitely NOT time to wake-up!!"


A mom who is wondering where her extra hour is!