Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Best Gift Ever!

I wish you and your family the best gift ever,

a gift that is available to all,

personalized just for you,

will never wear out,

will never grow old,

will never leave you or forsake you,

gives you help in your time of troubles,

fills you with peace,

gives you wisdom,

always loves and forgives you,

gives you joy,

cleanses you,

comforts you,

gives you abundant life on earth,

and ever-lasting life in paradise!

This gift is Jesus!!!

Merry Christmas!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Have you Ever Prayed over a Load of Wash?

It's 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!).

Around here:

My 2 year old did NOT somehow go pee-pee on his beloved stuffed Big Duke last week.

The one he has to have to go to sleep every night.

And the sidekick Big Duke that looks just the same does not work as a replacement. Bring the identical stuffed bulldog, just a little newer, to my toddler and you'll hear, "THAT'S NOT BIG DUKE!"

And so my situation with the peed on Big Duke was a tricky one.

I've never washed Big Duke before. He was a fairly cheap stuffed animal and I've always been afraid he wouldn't survive the wash.

Right before I snapped this picture, as I pulled the knob to start the load, I said a prayer for mercy and that God would bring Big Duke out okay.

Praise God he survived not only a trip through the washer, but the dryer, too!

Just in time for nap, Big Duke was slightly cleaner looking and MUCH better smelling!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

If I were a Christmas cookie . . .

It has been such a busy last week with all kinds of different things requiring my attention.

In fact if I were a Christmas cookie right now, this is what I'd look like:

But I do intend to slow way down and just enjoy starting very soon.

I vow to at least once in the next 8 days go an entire day without getting out of my jammies!

Speaking of jammies, this picture of my kids from Christmas morning 2 years ago brings me such joy!

They are such an amazing gift!

Now excuse me while I go attempt to glue my head back on with massive globs of icing!

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, December 16, 2009

Thankfully I said "yes"!

Today when my 3 kids asked if they could play with play-doh I really wanted to say, "no".

I had 13 reasons to say "no": 1. It was too cold to do it on the outside table which is where they usually do it because of all the mess. 2. I had just a few hours earlier vacuumed and mopped the white floor 3. We had out of town guests for the previous three days that had just left, this is the kids' last week of school before Christmas which brings all kinds of busy-ness, and these two things combined to make me very tired by the time 4PM came around today.

And reasons number 4. through 13. : I was enjoying my spotless floor and wasn't ready to see it go!! (Imagine that statement repeated over and over.)

But thankfully God took over my mind (if not yet my attitude), I gritted my teeth, and said "yes" in a voice that was definitely closer to a sigh than enthusiasm at the activity.

They played, I put in huge effort towards digging dried-out Play-doh out of the inside of Play-doh tool and was finally successful!

I was trying to have a good attitude, saying some prayers for God to help me ignore the mess rapidly forming at my feet.

But, seriously, He would have had to strike me with blindness to be able to ignore this!

But still, when the kids finished I was feeling a little of the coveted good attitude about the mess and instead of complaining about it, I was able to say, "Okay, let's get out the little brooms and dustpans."

And we all began to clean up.

A few minutes into the cleaning up my 6 year old suddenly stopped and said,

"I know what a family's for -- to work, play and love!"

Now I certainly did not plan that lesson, but I am so thankful that somehow from the Play-doh play and cleaning up he got that message!

And to think how close I really came to saying "No!" to the Play-doh today!

And in case I have not made it clear, this was all God, not me. I didn't want them to play with the Play-doh.

And to emphasize the importance I place on this revelation from my son, check out #5 from this list I posted nearly a year ago!

Find more Thursday Thirteen here and Thankful Thursday here.

Chocolate-Peppermint Bark

I love this recipe for Marbled Mint Candy!

For my kids' teachers I contribute to the class collection that goes toward a gift card at a store or restaurant the teacher likes and then I give them this candy for a personal touch gift.

What I love about this candy is that it is super easy to make -- literally 3 ingredients (it doesn't get any better than that recipe-wise!). It comes out so pretty (even with my limited decorative baking skills) that it makes an attractive gift. And as my 6 year old says, "It kinda gets stuck in your teeth a little bit, but it tastes really good!"

Here is what the finished product looks like:

Each year I change up what I use for packaging, but I really like the cellophane gift bags I ended up using this year. I had some small white cardboard cupcake boxes left over from my daughter's party a few months ago. I cut the top off and left the box open inside the sealed bag to allow the candy to stick out the top, but the bottom and sides of the box protect the candy from being broken.

Find more Christmas recipes here.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

She cut her own hair!

My little 4 year old girl loves crafts. The other morning before preschool she insisted she needed to make some stuff. She got out the construction paper, the tape, and asked me to get the kid scissors. None of this was unusual. Crafting is a daily or twice daily occurrence around here. As I unloaded the dishwasher she brought me various crowns and bracelets she'd made. The rate at which she produces crafts is actually pretty amazing!

Then I took the toddler upstairs to get him dressed. As I headed upstairs I told my daughter to come too so she could get dressed. She said she just needed to finish her craft. I said, "Okay, but just a couple more minutes."

I headed upstairs and a couple minutes later as I was brushing the toddler's teeth, she brings me this:

Since I was in the midst of the toddler teeth-brushing and I'd already looked at and praised more than one craft already that morning, at first I just kinda glanced at it.

Then I did a double-take.

"Is that hair?!!!!"

"Is that your hair taped on top of the little white paper?!!!"

"Did you cut your own hair?!!!"

The answers were yes, yes, and yes.

I think I knew this day would come. I've heard enough kids-cutting-their-hair stories that I knew having 3 kids it was inevitable that 1 of them would do it at some point.

Thankfully she didn't cut off much, she has long hair, is probably due for a haircut anyway, and you can't really tell unless you're looking for the spot!

So I ask, am I done?

Or is it like the Chicken Pox where if you have a mild case you could maybe get it again?

Just in case, I did deliver a long lecture filled with all the reasons we only let Ms. Sarah cut our hair with extra emphasis on just how long it takes hair to grow and that if she made it look funny, then it might just have to look that way for a while.

I must say, though, I do appreciate that she's already scrap-booked the event for me!!

Find more Wordless or Wordful Wednesday.

Monday, December 14, 2009

When Did We Forget?

Let me set the scene before I show you the picture.

I am in the kitchen baking, baking Christmas treats for the neighbors, my kids teachers, and for the relatives we have coming into town the next day. I am not content to bake one thing, so I do three separate baked treats, interspersed with changing over loads of laundry. My husband is raking leaves, tons of leaves to be cleaned up and bagged in the backyard.

Our two older kids had been helping outside and then suddenly they decided they needed a break, so they drug their little outdoor chairs onto the lawn, begged Mommy for the "special treat that is Sprite",

and they sat,

enjoying the bit of sunshine,

enjoying the break from work,

enjoying having someone to take a break with.

Now when was the last time my husband and I drug chairs out onto the lawn and just sat and enjoyed?

Um, never!

Kids understand how to relax, how to enjoy.

So, when did we forget?

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

Check out Gratituesday and Tuesdays Unwrapped.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Caught Red-Handed

It's 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!).

Around here:

It was NOT me who let my children do this last week!

If you wonder what it is they are NOT doing, check out my post here and you'll understand.

Only this year, it was wet outside on the day I wanted to do this little activity, so I did NOT decide to just put down some sheets and do it in my kitchen, my kitchen with white floor and white cabinets (well, formerly white floors and cabinets)! I am NOT that crazy!

Oh wait, maybe I am!!!

And the Mr. Clean eraser is NOT my new best friend!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


7 Things I'm Thinking Right Now (Thursday Night):

My kids are 6, 4, and 2 years old. Do you think I can wrap some presents this weekend, put them under the tree, and they'll stay wrapped until Christmas? Since having little kids I haven't done much early wrapping mostly due to my procrastinating ways but also for fear they'd unwrap it all as soon as I jump in the shower! But this year as I reflect on the previous 3 or 4 Christmas Eves and all the staying up late with last minute wrapping, I am actually contemplating starting earlier this year! Wouldn't that be a finer thing?

Since the mom who is coming over with her kids tomorrow afternoon for a playdate also has 3 kids, I don't have to have my house perfectly picked-up. She'll totally understand some crumbs on the floor and toys out in the playroom, right?

Since when do I base my household cleanliness standards on the number of children the woman coming over has? Since right now!

I wish my dryer had a remote control. I dry nearly all our clothes on low and even with the supposed "moisture sensor" the dryer always finishes with the clothes still too damp, so I have to restart it at least once, occasionally twice. How cool would it be if I could restart it with the press of a button from my spot on the couch huddled under a blanket due to the 40 degree temps we're having tonight?! Okay, that sounded really lazy, I know. But I'd trade my TV remote for a dryer remote. I watch so little TV that my dryer is used tons more!

What exactly is this spot of goopy stuff in my hair and how did it get there?

Does this mean I need to wash it tomorrow? Man! Tomorrow was not supposed to be a hair-washing day as Fridays are the day I have to take my daughter for her allergy shot at 8AM. So, my daughter, the 2 year old, and I have to be dressed and out the door by 7:45AM.

Hmmm, Toddler wore warm jammies to bed tonight. I wonder if I could just take him to the allergist in his jammies and then with the time I save dressing him I'd have time to wash and dry my hair in the morning! If he were 8 months old I could totally get away with that, but at 31 months maybe not! At what age does it become socially unacceptable for a child to be out and about in their pajamas?

Just wondering! Happy Friday!

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, December 9, 2009


Do you ever wonder just what exactly the shepherds saw that night?

Luke 2:13 says, "Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,"

"A great company of the heavenly host"

Imagine! Really, it's hard to even imagine, isn't it?

Don't you just wish the camera phone existed back then and someone recovered from their fear and shock long enough to snap a picture?

And then if one of the shepherds had a blog and could post the picture from the WI-FI at Starbucks on the way to see Baby Jesus.

Actually, you know what God? It's better your way. Really, I'm thankful we don't know all the details.

It's better to just imagine!

Find more Thursday Thirteen here and Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

#1 Sign It's Time to Potty Train Your Toddler

You walk upstairs and find a diaper and pants. You did not take off the toddler's diaper and pants. Your husband did not take off the toddler's diaper and pants. Your 2 older children did not take off the toddler's diaper and pants.

Then you actually catch the toddler in the act of taking off his own diaper!
My daughter started doing this when she was 23 months old. I did 2 cycles of cleaning up #2 that had been spread on more than one surface in my house before I potty-trained her at 24 months! It was either potty train her or figure out a way to duct tape the diaper on!

But the problem is that a few previous attempts at potty-training my toddler have not gone well, which is why he's made it to 2 years and 7 months old and still wearing a diaper when his big brother and sister were potty trained months earlier.

Take my advice and if your kids' preschool offers a special lecture with a guest speaker, an expert, even, on potty-training, don't skip the lecture because you have potty trained 2 children already and feel you know all you need to know in order to train your 3rd child. Don't do it! Or your 3rd child will be like mine and destined to go to college wearing a size 19 diaper!

Find more Wordless or Wordful Wednesday.

Ways to Teach your Kids the True Meaning of Christmas

  • I tell my children over and over that we celebrate Christmas because it is Jesus's birthday. Kids really relate to the idea of a birthday. We bake a cake for baby Jesus on Christmas Eve and sing "Happy Birthday" to him before we eat it on Christmas Day. The gifts we give him are the presents we buy for kids in our city who otherwise might not have presents at Christmas.
  • Have a Nativity Scene the kids can play with. Ours is the Little People Nativity. (I am not at all compensated by Toys R'Us, they just happen to have the best price I've seen on this, so I'm linking you there.) It is my favorite Christmas decoration to bring out every year! As your kids play with it, talk about the story of Jesus's birth.
(our version here is minus the angel on top, I took the set with me when I taught the preschoolers at our church last Sunday and somehow didn't get home with the angel. Thankfully there is a little blessing called Ebay and a new angel is in the mail to me as I type this for 99 cents plus shipping! Watching a roomful of 4 year olds play with the nativity all morning was more than worth that!)
  • If your own church does not put on a Christmas program for kids, check out other churches in your area, many do really great, free performances especially for children that can help illustrate the true meaning of Christmas.
  • Watch the Dr. Seuss - How the Grinch Stole Christmas/Horton Hears a Who movie. When it ends you can have some great discussion with your kids about why the Whos in Whoville were still joyful even when the grinch had stolen all their gifts, decorations, and food. Talk about how the best gift of Christmas is Jesus and that can never be taken away.
  • Even decorating gingerbread houses can be a way to point to Jesus's birth. We do some sort of gingerbread creation from a kit each year. This year we did a small village and turned one of the houses into a manger scene. The animals are animal crackers, the manger is 2 pieces of Cracklin' Oatbran cereal stacked, and Jesus? Well, He's a gumdrop. I hope He's not offended!
Here's the whole village:

  • Read quality children's books that reflect on Jesus's birth. Our favorite:
  • On Christmas Eve our kids open 1 gift each that is new Christmas pajamas (makes for adorable Christmas morning pictures). We then snuggle up with them in their jammies and read the Christmas story from the Bible, Luke 2:1-20.

***I am an affiliate, so should you click on either of my 2 links (for the book & the movie) and purchase from Amazon, I will receive a small amount of the sale. Any proceeds will be donated to Children's Hopechest. Their purpose is to attempt to restore wholeness to the brokenness that is orphanhood.

Find more Works For Me Wednesday tips here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

On the Trail of Jesus

"Would you help me find the baby Jesus?" the shepherd asks my family and me. "Sure!" we reply.

The church has set up a make-shift Bethlehem town. We ask all over -- at the baker, the weaver, the work-working shop - and they've all seen a man with a very pregnant woman on a donkey. We follow the trail and are finally led to the inn.

The innkeepers tell us, "Yeah they came here, we didn't have any room left. Every room in town is full because of the census. But we felt bad since she was obviously about to have her baby, so we said they could stay in the stable out back. They're out there now."

And so we head outside and there they are in the stable. "Mary", "Joseph", "Baby Jesus", an angel, and a donkey.

This is our 2nd year coming to this church tour and I love watching my kids the moment we find "Baby Jesus". The look of amazement on their faces is priceless!

Even though I know what's coming when we head outside, I can't help feeling awe myself when encountering the manger scene.

My boys showered the donkey with much love and pats, and my daughter got to hold "baby Jesus".

And then we headed inside for some hot chocolate and a cookie.

BUT FIRST we stopped off at the massive bottle of hand-sanitizer and ensured that the whole family got a thorough cleansing.

Don't get me wrong, I realize the importance of washing your hands after petting animals, and I'm glad the sanitizer was there. But the idea of encountering "Jesus" and walking back in to douse ourselves with hand-sanitizer just struck me as funny.

Then I started thinking how often we do that in regular life.

Encounter Jesus here on earth but then it feels a little messy so we immediately go lather up in the hand-sanitizer. And then from the safety of our comfort-zone we can reflect on the "moving sermon" or great quiet-time.

Tom Davis has a book called Red Letters: Living a Faith That Bleeds and the "red letters" he talks about are Christ's words as they are printed in most Bibles. But his point is how many Christians don't seem to really take these words to heart.

When Jesus tells us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44), show compassion for sinners (Matt 9:12-13), deny ourselves and follow him (Matt 16:24), become servants to others (Matt 21:26-27), do for the least (Matt 25:45), or show mercy (Luke 10:37) I believe we are at first in awe of the message, but then we close our Bibles or drive home from church.

And rather than letting that uncomfortable God-wants-me-to-do-something-different feeling settle into our very being, we start washing it off, diluting the message.

"Well, that wasn't really a message for me in this stage of life." "God knows I serve him." "I give my time and money already." "That person doesn't want me to show God's mercy to them." "I can't allow my son to play with that boy, his family is not Christian. Think of the influence!"

And on and on it goes. We sip our hot chocolate and walk further and further away from the uncomfortable smell and cold of the stable.

But Jesus was not found in a sterile hospital room or even a hotel!

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

Check out Gratituesday and Tuesdays Unwrapped.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Not Used to This!

Another 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!).

This pretty much never happens where we live, so
this was definitely NOT the scene in my backyard on Friday!

The wonder of it all

And wanna see some Southern snow shoes?

And those are not even the fleece-lined variety of Crocs (crocs Toddler/Little Kid Mammoth Clog), either! Talk about wet socks inside those snowy Crocs!!

The toddler has recently been doing a thing where when I tell him something like, "Be careful eating those noodles, they're hot." He
replies with, "I wike (that's toddler for 'like') hot!" Well, when he started to climb up our playground ladder in the snow, I said, "No, don't climb up there." When he asked, "why?" I said, "Because it's wet and slippery." To which he did NOT reply, "I wike wet and slippery!"

And Tuesday? It's NOT suppose to be 72 degrees again!

And I'm NOT so glad, because one day of wet coats, gloves, hats, socks, shoes, and pants multiplied by 3 kids and then multiplied by each time they wanted to go outside is just too much for me and my washer/dryer to keep up with. My rarely-used-winter hat definitely goes off to you Northern moms. How do you do it?!!!
Seriously, I want to know because one 24 hour period of keeping up with 6 small gloves in addition to my own every where we went just was too much for me to handle!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fake Snow, Real Snow, and Christmas Trees

I think I've hinted before that I live in the tropics, well, I don't exactly see the equator out my back window, nor do I see palm trees, but still, winter is mild and if it drops much below 50 degrees we feel like we are freezing!!! So what does our small town holiday festival do to celebrate the season in a place like this? Create a little yard of man-made snow and then our children wait in line to play in it!

Oh yes, we do!!! And here's a picture of my poor, winter-deprived daughter contemplating just what exactly to do with the "snow"But hey, my son was successful in creating a fairly decent snowball!

Now, usually around this time of year I hear several of my fellow topic-like region dwellers complaining that, "It doesn't feel like Christmas!" Because it is 75 degrees outside. And I can assure you I am never one of those people! I have absolutely no problem celebrating Christmas in my flip-flops, because you see the cold and I, we do not really get along. But this year is different because y'all, it is cold!! There may even be snow tomorrow, extremely rare in our parts and this early in the season it is unheard of! My only solace is that chances are it will be back in the 70s next week!

Anyone have little kids and a Christmas tree? Yeah, it's fun isn't it?!! Whoever decided on the tradition of a Christmas tree obviously was not a mom with toddlers. I mean seriously, let's set up a tree in the middle of the living room, decorate it with sparkling lights, shiny balls, and toy-like items, and then expect our toddlers to leave it alone for a month!

I do stop short of employing the idea I've heard of placing the Christmas tree in a playpen for its protection. Instead we usually just decorate the top of the tree with the breakable ornaments and the bottom with the non-breakables and kid-craft ornaments. It makes for a beautiful two-tone look and works great until one of your kids gets a little too crazy with ringing a bell on the lower half of the tree and pulls the entire thing over, thus breaking even the high up breakable ornaments! I believe that was Christmas 2005 for us, or was it 2006 -- who can say?

This year I didn't supervise quite as much as I should have when my kids were decorating the tree and allowed some glass balls to be hung low down on the tree. The green ball in this picture met its demise the very next morning!

And do you notice in that picture how there are about 7 ornaments all on the same branch? Kids don't get the idea of "spreading them out"!

But oh, the true joy of having little ones around during the magic of the Christmas season! Completely worth a glass ball ornament casualty or two or fourteen and a funny looking Christmas tree!

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, December 2, 2009

13 Things I Learned in Disney World

  1. Princess Jasmine's costume (from Aladdin) looks much more revealing on a real-life person than it does on the animated girl!
  2. If you and your 3 kids pack into one row on the Dumbo ride you'll never forget those 2 minutes as long as you live -- in a good way, though!
  3. Fast Passes are your friend!
  4. The monorail is nice but doesn't actually connect all the different parks. Somebody needs to look into expanding that thing!
  5. Mickey's Magical Express is awesome -- you check your luggage at your home airport and it magically appears in your Disney hotel room in Orlando a few hours later!
  6. If you have a child that is scared of the sound of fireworks, the shows are most enjoyably viewed from the monorail, simply leave the park right after the really cool light-up parade, but before the fireworks show is due to start, and enjoy the quiet fireworks for the ride back to your hotel!
  7. I have a new-found respect for the ordeal those characters go through to sign autographs while in their costumes. Poor Pluto had to balance the autograph books on his nose while signing!
  8. The spinning tea cups ride is even more fun when you ride it with your little girl than you remember it being when you were a little girl.
  9. I will never forget the grin on my toddler's face when Mickey Mouse kissed the top of his head!
  10. Getting to the park right when it opens is the way to go. We had absolutely no wait for the It's a Small World ride!
  11. Mickey Mouse shaped waffles really do taste better than non-Mickey Mouse shaped waffles!
  12. There is a store at Downtown Disney that has some of the coolest Mr. Potato Head parts I've ever seen! If you are a 6 year old boy, you will know this store as the one where you can build your own lightsaber.
  13. The princess sparkles from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique are potent and require more than a few shampooings to remove. Also, they seem to multiply and before you know it, every item in each one of your suitcases is sparkly!

Find more Thursday Thirteen here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Let Your Kids Make the Wrapping Paper

Wanna know a Christmas tradition that works for me?

Letting my kids make the wrapping paper.

I use the white rolls of butcher paper we already have, roll it out across my back patio, give the kids large red and green ink pads and let them go at it, stamping their hands and feet all over the paper.

I am a reformed perfectionist so I really try not to care if it doesn't come out looking anywhere close to perfect, but I do coach the kids a little on spots they miss stamping.

It is a tradition, a craft, a kid activity, a way to get the kids involved and excited about gift-giving, and saves money that would be spent buying the store-bought paper! And the butcher paper is actually thicker and stronger than typical wrapping paper which is a plus if you need your gift wrap to stand up to packing and traveling!

This picture is from 2 years ago. Last year's pictures are, ahem, yet to be cataloged. Yes, I am 15 months behind on my pictures! So for all of you who ask how I do it all, just know I don't do it all. In fact today my breakfast dishes didn't get done until 1:15PM!

If you look closely at the picture my daughter is putting a green hand in the red stamper and yes, that is a testament to how reformed of a perfectionist I am! If the idea of that really drives you crazy and you'd like to minimize the chaos in your own household then you can just use one color of ink pad.

In case you were wondering about my son's head-wear in the picture, it is a Native American headpiece he made at school in honor of Thanksgiving and then wore around for weeks after (hence the flopped over state of the lone yellow construction paper feather)! He is our costume-kid!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday and Wordless or Wordful Wednesday.

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!