Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sunday Scripture Sharing - Family Devotional #5

You can link to earlier devotionals by clicking #1, #2, #3, or #4. These are meant to be simple and appropriate for parents to do with young children.

Today's Topic is:

The First Shall Be Last

Do you like to be first? First in line, first to get a cookie, first to get in the car, first in the race? Can everyone always be first? How do you think your sister would feel if you were always first? Is it good to be first if you won by pushing someone else down or cheating at a game?

Play some games, either favorite family board games, or simple games like tossing balls in a bucket or racing through a homemade obstacle course. Practice taking turns, winning and losing gracefully.


Matthew 19:30, "Many who are first will be last; and the last, first."

There was a big college softball tournament with two teams playing, one from Western Oregon and one from Central Washington, who both really wanted to win the important game. With 2 runners on base, a girl from Western Oregon, hit the ball over the fence. It was a home run! Her team would take the lead! Only, as she rounded first base she hurt her knee really badly and fell to the ground. She couldn't walk it hurt so bad! The rules of the game said that her own teammates couldn't help her round the bases, but if she didn't her home run wouldn't count. Then something amazing happened, one of the players from the other team asked the umpire if her team could help the girl round the bases. The umpire said "yes". So 2 girls from Central Washington carried the Western Oregon player and helped her touch each of the bases and the runs counted (against them). Central Washington ended up losing that game, but those girls won in the eyes of God, they did the right thing that day!

Check out this link to the full story
about the softball team

Talk with your kids about how it is more important to be a good person than to be first and that in fact sometimes to do what God wants us to, it will mean we will not be first. It makes God happy when we are nice to other people, so do you think it would be nice to sometimes let your friends or brothers & sisters have a turn before you?

Dear God, help us to be like you and think of others before ourselves, even letting them be first. Amen

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Friday Funnies

Desperately Seeking a Scribe!
So, I've begun this blog and all day long while I'm out and about with my kids I'm thinking of hundreds of possible posts, practically writing them in my head, but then much later when I actually get to sit down and type without a toddler wildly punching keys along with me, I am too tired and there is nothing remotely intelligent or amusing coming out. So, I've decided I need a scribe. If anyone is interested in following me around all day and taking dictation that would be super! I'll start taking applications immediately, must be willing to work for free. Previous war-zone experience needed!

One of the most fun things about blogging:
Taking pictures of the most random things! Let’s see, in the last month I’ve taken pictures of the car potty, the cereal in my pantry, our cereal bowls, an unbaked squash casserole, my produce drawer. The best was the following conversation with my kids, “Mommy, what are you doing?” I replied, “taking a picture of the potty.” They asked, “Why?” I said, “So I can write about it.”

Perks of the stay-at-home mother job:
  • You can wear yoga pants all day any time you want even if you not only do not plan to attend a yoga class, but have never attended one in your whole life!!!
  • You get to say fun things like, “We don't throw knives” or “We don't take pictures of people naked” and mean it with all seriousness.
Yes, my 5 year-old and 3 year-old both got kid cameras for Christmas and aside from it being like the paparazzi around here with my picture being taken 100 times per day (and I hate having my picture taken) within hours of getting the cameras my husband had to establish the rule that you don't take pictures of people naked. That is something I never expected to have to spell out!

For more Friday Funnies head on over to The Run-A-Muck.

What it is like having 3 kids – Part 2

For the first official installment of this series see Part 1 here.

My inauguration into having 3 kids was when we left the hospital with my 3rd baby. My husband and I thought it was a sweet idea to have our older 2 kids (ages barely 4 years old and 21 months at the time) accompany us on the journey to bring their new baby brother home from the hospital, so we had Mimi, who they had been staying with, bring them up to the hospital when we were discharged and then all 3 kids would ride home with my husband and I. Our first experience as a family of 5! A lovely idea conceived out of complete naiveté.

The reality . . .

As soon as the nurse got me in that wheelchair with my newborn in my arms and began to wheel me out of the hospital, my 21 month-old began to scream and cry, “MOMMY! MOMMMMMMYYYYYY!”

Mimi could not console her, Nana could not console her, Daddy had gone to bring the car around. So, she ended up riding in the wheelchair with her newborn brother and me. It was the beginning of what would become a recurring theme called, “Not enough Mommy to go around!”

I was keenly aware as I was wheeled out with my tiny baby and my medium baby in my arms and my larger baby walking beside, that we seemed to be attracting attention. Everyone turned and watched, they seemed to smile as if seeing a sweet picture, but really I knew they were thinking, “She is in way over her head!”

That was then and now 20 months later, we’ve got it all figured out, right?

Well, let’s see, just in the last 2 weeks I’ve sent my 3rd child, a 20 month-old off to the church nursery with one pull-up. Not a diaper, mind you, no, I couldn’t find one of those during the car scramble after the realization that we left the diaper bag at home. But a pull-up, somehow left over from potty-training days gone by for my older two kids, I could find. I’m not ashamed to say I called “Not it” on being the one to drop him off with only the pull-up. I instead told my husband if he got any funny looks from the caregivers to just say, “We’re potty-training!” at 20 months!

Also in the last 2 weeks, this same 3rd child was discovered to be missing his shoes when we arrived at a mall 25 minutes from our house, a mall we made a trek to so our 5 year-old could go to its Lego Store following a really good report card (not bribery, but a
reward). Apparently someone who will remain nameless loaded the toddler into the car without his shoes.

Did we run in and buy him shoes at the mall? No way, he had perfectly good shoes at home! Did we just put him in the stroller and take him in shoeless? Absolutely! Did we at a couple points during the mall trip let him out of the stroller to run around shoeless through the mall? Absolutely! Were we aware of the people watching? Yes, but somehow now it doesn’t really bother us anymore, we just laugh along with them because they are right, we are in over our heads!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Works for me Wednesday: Before They Leave Home

Things I want my children to know how to do before they leave home:

1. Look to God for guidance, comfort, strength, joy, ho
pe, love, and acceptance
2. Pray
3. Study their Bible
4. Serve others
5. Be a part of a family - sharing joys and hurts, fun and work; encouraging, supporting, and helping each other
6. Sew on a button
7. Load, unload, and start the dishwasher
8. Wash clothes
9. Change a tire
10. Exercise
Cook meals
12. Light a pilot light on the hot water heater and furnace
13. Feel compassion for hurting people.
14. Safely drive a car
15. Be responsible
16. Shop
17. Mow the grass and other basic yard maintenance
18. Make a bed
19. Clean a bathroom
20. Be considerate of others
21. Study
22. Set an alarm and get themselves up out of bed
23. Budget and track spending
24. Eat healthy
25. Overcome adversity
26. Hang pictures and shelves
27. Write a thank-you note
28. Clean out the refrigerator
29. Manage their anger
30. Set goals and create action plans
31. Tend a garden
32. Gracefully win and lose a game
33. Plan a vacation
34. Pack a bag
35. Pack a car
36. Resist temptation
37. Paint a room
38. Iron
39. Swim
40. Take notes
41. Care for a pet
42. Make a decision
43. Organize their things
44. Love someone that is hard to love
45. Apologize
46. Appreciate what they have
47. Come back home and visit their Momma!

You may laugh at something like #7, but I knew a guy who made it to college and thought the dishwasher detergent went in the Jet Dry hole! The list is long and can be a bit overwhelming; I pray for Divine Help! Having this list does keep things in perspective and works to keep me focused on the things that will matter in the long run!

Please leave a comment with your thoughts on this list! What have I left off? Anything I could remove from the list? I’d love to hear your perspective!

My previous Works for me Wednesday Posts:

Privilege Chart

The Capture Monster

Music to Get Kids to Sleep

Find more Works For Me Wednesday Tips at Rocks in my Dryer.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Goal, The Empty Drawer, The Farmer's Market, and The Squash Casserole

One of my new goals, and also a part of my plan to save my family money, is to stop wasting food! I am ashamed to admit the produce I’ve thrown out in the past. I would buy more than I ended up needing for a recipe or buy new fruit before we’d eaten all the old and the extra would rot in my produce drawer until I finally got around to cleaning out the fridge (meaning it began to smell!) and then it was thrown away. So now I am planning better, doubling recipes and freezing extras to use everything that I buy. I was so excited to actually achieve a nearly empty produce drawer (only one small packet of carrot sticks remained) without throwing anything away! My produce drawer is never that empty!

In case an empty produce drawer doesn’t fill you with excitement, I’ll quickly move on to my next point! How to restock the produce? A trip to the farmer’s market! Discovering the farmer’s market has been the best thing to happen to my family foodwise in the last couple years! The one I go to is called Canino’s and it is not nearby my house, but so worth the drive. The produce is the freshest I’ve seen and so much cheaper than the grocery store. I’ve bought Honeycrisp apples there for $1.69 a pound to find them a couple days later at the Central Market for $3.89 a pound – talk about a huge difference!

We eat so much healthier having all this fresh produce on hand and my kids love going to the farmer’s market and picking things out so it gets them excited about vegetables! I only go about every 3 weeks, so I stock up when I go. Check out everything I scored there a couple weeks ago! Oh, and they have great beans, honey, nuts, eggs and yogurt pretzels!

What did I do with all that ye
llow squash you ask? I made this Yellow Squash Casserole recipe and doubled it, freezing the 2nd casserole in a Ziploc with the cooking instructions written on the bag. Each casserole will serve as a side item for my family for 3 meals, so in one 30 min. session I created 6 meals worth of vegetables!

Yellow Squash Casserole from

4 cups sliced yellow squash
1/2 cup chopped onion
35 buttery round crackers, crushed
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melt
1 teaspoon salt

ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. Place squash and onion in a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in a small amount of water. Cover, and cook until squash is tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well, and place in a large bowl.
3. In a medium bowl, mix together cracker crumbs and cheese. Stir half of the cracker mixture into the
cooked squash and onions. In a small bowl, mix together eggs and milk, then add to squash mixture. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter, and season with salt and pepper. Spread into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cracker mixture, and dot with 2 tablespoons butter.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Picture of casserole ready to be baked and bowl with extra batc
h to be frozen in the bag on the right.

Check more food ideas on Tasty Tuesday at Forever Wherever

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Cooking dinner nearly every night does not have to be impossible, even with 3 small kids at home. One of the secrets is planning.

I have done menu planning on and off for a few years, but have had to get more disciplined about it since having my 3rd child. It only took me a couple of times of realizing it was 5:00 PM and I had no idea what was for dinner, racing to the grocery with 3 kids in tow, coming home and attempting to cook before I became a devout menu planner. You see, those few experiences were not fun, so not fun, that the written out, preplanned menu is now my friend!

Meal planning allows me to make sure I have all ingredients on hand, defrost items if needed, and even do prep steps ahead of time to ease the workload during the 5 o'clock "witching hour" where my kids are whiney, fighting with each other, destroying my house, and/or clinging to my leg!

Meal planning also keeps me able to achieve a goal my husband and I have had for over a year, to eat dinner out (including take-out) only once per week. We have this goal to help us save money and eat healthier.

To begin planning, I look at my favorite, tried and true recipes (organized in a binder) and also I look at new recipes I've found on the web and saved in a folder on my computer. From these 2 sources I come up with a list of meals. I also plan days to eat left-overs to cut down on waste and give me days off cooking. Then I look at my calendar and plug in the meals, taking into account our family activities. For example, on the day my daughter has ballet until 5PM, I will do a crockpot meal or something very easy.

Last, I make and shop for my grocery list of any items needed in the recipes that I do not have already. Below is my meal plan for this week:

Slow-Cooker Salisbury Steak, whipped sweet potatoes, zucchini casserole (this will be made the day before)

Pizza Casserole, steamed broccoli, french bread

Tilapia Lemon Parmesan (see recipe below), Macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob

Left-overs from last 3 nights

Dinner out at the Family Fun Night Event for my son's school

Breakfast for dinner - Pumpkin pancakes, bacon, eggs

Tilapia Lemon Parmesan Recipe (a Central Market recipe)
4-6 Tilapia fillets
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
1 c real mayonnaise
1 c Parmesan Cheese, shredded
Juice from one lemon

Set oven on broil and lightly oil baking sheet. Mix the mayo. & cheese in a small bowl and reserve. Place the fillets on the baking sheet and drizzle with the lemon juice. Broil for 4-5 min. Remove and top each fillet with 2 tablespoons of the mayo. mixture and return to the broiler and cook until golden and bubbly, about 2 minutes.

Visit Organizing Junkie for more Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday Scripture Sharing - Family Devotional #4

This is a family devotional you can do with even your preschool children. To see Family Devotional #1, #2, or #3 click on those numbers.

Today's Topic is:

If you look for God you will find Him

What do you do when you can't find something? ("look for it"), How do you look? Does it take time? Do you have to think about good places to look? If you lost your favorite toy, where would you look for it? Did you know that God wants us to look for Him?

Have a treasure hunt. Hide some small treasures around your house (hint: reuse old small toys the kids have not played with, clean out the bottom of the toy box, could also use small candies), give kids clues to find them. Sample clues, "It is in the place where you sleep" or "Look inside the dollhouse." or "Under the blue train." Have the kids hunt for a few different treasures. Then read the Bible Verses.

Proverbs 8:17b, "Those who diligently seek me will find me."

Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."

God does want us to look for Him. He is the best treasure! We can look for God by reading the Bible, praying, and watching for things God does in our lives, like helping us get well when we are sick, giving us good food to eat and beautiful flowers to look at. God tells us in our Bible verses that all we have to do is look for him and really want to find Him and then we will! It is not always easy to see God, but when we look for Him, he will show himself to us.

Dear God, help us to look for you every day. Amen

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Friday Funnies

Yesterday my 3 year-old daughter says to me, "Mommy, do you remember that time a bee tried to sting Daddy, but you saved the day? You got a rope and some clippers and you went outside and lassoed the bee and then clipped it off the rope!" Um, no I don't remember that day, you must be thinking of the day I was gone and Wonder Woman filled in as your mommy!

The election/inauguration madness has made its way into our home. Recently my son announced, "Mommy we (meaning he and his little sister) had a vote and we decided Daddy is not the president of the house any more, you are!"

This same 5 year-old boy told me a few months ago, "Girl nipples are privater than boy nipples." To which I could only reply, "Yes, yes they are."

For more Friday Funnies head on over to The Run-A-Muck.

How to Get 3 Kids Out the Door By 7:35 AM

Getting 3 kids out the door by 7:35AM is a challenge requiring precise execution of key steps, endurance, patience, adrenaline, and much prayer. Thankfully I only have to tackle this challenge once or twice a week when my husband goes to his morning Bible study group or has an early meeting, because otherwise he takes our 5 year-old to school on his way to work!

Night before - Check weather for next day. If you do not live in a place where the temperature can be 30 degrees one day and 80 degrees the next, this step may not be as crucial. Then lay out clothes for yourself and all 3 kids. Put grounds and water in coffee maker .

6:25 AM - Wake up, say prayers for cooperative children and extra help from God to make it through next hour and a half, shower body but not hair (there is no time for blow-drying), get dressed, put on a little makeup so as not to scare the kindergarteners. Turn on coffee maker.

6:42 AM - Pack lunch for 5 year-old and lay out dishes for breakfast (we use the same dishes every day so they can just be gotten out of the dishwasher that was run the night before)

6:50 AM - Wake up 5 year-old, have him start getting dressed, ask what he wants for breakfast

6:54 AM - Make 5 year-old breakfast. I use the word "make" loosely; really this entails pouring cereal and milk and toasting a waffle or Poptart.

7:00 AM - 5 year-old is down eating breakfast. Get 1 year-old up, change diaper, bring him down for breakfast (banana, cereal and milk)

7:10 AM - Get 3 year-old up and serve her breakfast. Pour coffee and cereal for self; eat.

7:18 AM - Help 5 year-old fix hair, get shoes on, enforce teeth brushing.

7:23 AM - Dress toddler

7:27 AM - Dress 3 year-old, brush her hair a little.

7:32 AM - Shoes on younger 2 kids, jackets on, and backpack on 5 year-old.

7:35 AM - Load all kids in the car

7:40 AM - Park at school and unload all kids from car, walk into school

7:45 AM - Greet other kids and friends, and say goodbye to 5 year-old in cafeteria where he waits with his class for his teacher to take him to classroom.

7:50 - While carrying toddler and holding 3 year-old's hand, dodge the stampede of kids rushing through the hallways as the 1st bell rings to walk back to your car.

Mission Accomplished!!!!

  • If you are running late, you can skip the steps of dressing the 1 year-old and 3 year-old and just let them go in their jammies.
  • Most important of all -- Do not anger them, avoid fits, crying spells and meltdowns at all costs! Meaning just survive, this is not the time to train appropriate table manners or to be really picky about enforcing any limits at all. The one day I did draw the line and refuse to let my 3 year-old take her syrup covered waffle in the car to finish eating it, I really regretted the decision! Syrup coating in the car would have been far better than the 10 minute fit that ensued while I was trying to get everyone into the car and then into the school!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday - Music to Get Kids to Sleep

All three of my children go to sleep to the Norah Jones album, Come Away With Me. We have played it for them at naptime and bedtime since they were infants. All the songs are very soothing, so you can say "night-night", hit "play", walk out of the room, and let it run through the whole album, without worrying about an upbeat song suddenly coming on and jarring your sleeping angel awake!

The music is a great way to drown out other noises in the house that might keep a baby or child awake, like a loud sibling still up, dishes being done in the kitchen, TV in the next room, etc.

My kids call it their "night-night music" and it is hilarious when we are out in a store or restaurant and one of the songs comes on, they get a puzzled look on their faces and ask, "Mommy, why are you playing my night-night music?"

After reading a story, the music is a great transition to sleep in our bedtime routine.

A huge benefit is that when you are in the car on a road trip and you want your kids to take a nap, you can play the CD and it is like Pavlov's dog salivated at the sound of a bell -- they begin feeling very sleepy at the sound of the music! And, once you get to your destination, say Grandma's house, your child will be comforted by the familiar music when you put them to bed even in an unfamiliar place.

This leads me to a key point, don't get creative and have different "night-night music" for each of you children because someday you may need to put them all to sleep in the same hotel room!

Perhaps the greatest thing about this music is that it never gets irritating or old to any adults that may have to hear it too! Literally, I've heard this music thousands of times and I'm still not sick of it!

So Norah Jones is what works for us to make the difficult task of putting babies and kids to bed a little easier! Find more Works For Me Wednesday Tips at Rocks in my Dryer.

To buy the entire album, click on the link below.

music to get kids to sleep

Tackle It Tuesday - The Ziploc Bag

Have you ever had one of those Ziploc bags, hanging over your head? All you potty training moms know what I’m talking about, the gallon size one that is filled with clothes your child has gone #2 in while you were out somewhere. Your precious, adorable offspring that nearly always makes it to the potty, but that day they just couldn’t.

For me that day over a year ago, we were at the park, so she was playing (distracted) and she was on some medicine that maybe kind of upset her stomach a little. I knew when I spotted her up on the playground with that telltale walk before she even told me what happened. The moments that ensued were not very pleasant.

Cleaning a child up in the car just is not fun and neither is pulling off poopy tights! “Yucky, yucky, gross, gross!” is what I kept saying outloud to keep myself focused on the mess rather than being annoyed at the child that produced it. Anyway, literally 17 wipees later she was fairly clean and I was left with the lovely Ziploc bag filled with, well you know. And then I was faced with the age-old decision. “Do I like the clothes in that bag enough to deal with cleaning them up or do I just throw them away?!!”

Come on! I know you’re calling me wasteful for even having the thought, but really, do you realize the process that goes into cleaning up that bag? First there is the initial overwhelming smell upon opening the bag, then where do you put the soiled clothes? They are too dirty for even the washing machine to bear. They must be dealt with a little before the washing machine step and any surface they come in contact with, be it sink or counter must be thoroughly sanitized following! So sometimes the answer really is to throw the entire bag away.

That is certainly the answer some times when we deal with sin (messes) in our lives. It is Biblical, Matthew 18:8-9 says, “And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or feet, to be cast into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into fiery hell.”

Whatever that sin is, there are times that God tells you to throw it out, because He knows either it won’t really come clean or we can’t handle the cleaning process!

What is in your Ziploc Bag?

For me it is alcoholism. It runs in my family. Thankfully the Lord brought this to my attention during my college years and revealed to me to throw it out by staying away from alcohol, so that sin has not plagued me. I could have tried to clean it up – “I’ll just have a couple drinks in the evening but I’ll not over-consume like my parents did.” But, that thinking may not have worked. Those few drinks may have been all Satan needed to get a foothold in my life and lead me down the pathway of destruction!

In closing let me urge you to deal with that bag of sin in whatever way God leads you, but do it soon! I know from experience that ziploc bag just gets nastier the longer you let it sit!

Head over to 5 Minutes For Mom for more Tackle-It Tuesday.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Look! I made hairbows!

Ya'll, would really have to have known me since preschool to realize the magnitude of this accomplishment, but let me just fill you in by saying, I am not crafty. I can sew on a button, but it took me a couple hours and a couple bleeding fingers to sew my son's Little League patch onto his jersey last baseball season. The patch did remain attached to the jersey for the season with washings, but, my friends, it was not pretty!

Necessity pushed me to dabble in hairbow making. My little girl needed one of the bigger size hairbows to match a dress for some pictures and I didn't want to pay say $8 for one so I bought some ribbon, a package of clips, and copied a bow we already had. The area where the bow attaches to the clip is not so pretty, but the part people will see turned out pretty cute if I do say so myself!

Invisible readers, be encouraged, if I can do it, so can anyone else! After I made these bows I actually found this great website that even walks you through making loopy and korker bows, and I hope to attempt them soon.

Oh but craft stores beware! My success has gone to my head! I recently purchased not only fabric, but a PATTERN to make my daughter some pants! I do believe my goals have become too lofty! If there were some parallel universe where I actually had time to sew, there is the small technicality that I do not know how to thread the bobin-thingy on my sewing machine!!!

I need some help fast because I may only have a couple years before the phrase, “Look Sweetheart, Mommy made you pants!” will be a nightmare rather than a source of excitement for my daughter!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Scripture Sharing - Family Devotional #3

To see Family Devotional #1 click here, or #2 click here, but this devotional stands alone, so feel free to jump in with your family any time.

Today's topic is:

God wants us to love one another

What does it mean to love someone? (let kids answer) How could you show someone you love them? (let kids answer and guide with things like telling them you love them, doing something nice for them, sharing your toys, helping them, hugging them) Can you show love to someone you have never met? (listen to their answers but then tell them yes - we can send letters, treats, cards, money and we can pray for them) How do you think it makes someone feel when you show them love? (hopefully kids will answer something along the lines of "good")

(you'll need basic craft supplies - construction paper, markers or crayons, stickers, maybe some doilies and glue)
Help kids make valentines to send to a child in need. They do not have to be fancy, let your kids create the art and then you can help with the writing of a simple note that you are praying for their future and wanted to send your love. We sponsor a child through Grace International Children's Foundation that
founded and operates Lulwanda Children's Home for orphaned and abandoned children, in Uganda. I have also heard wonderful things about sponsoring a child through Compassion International. The awesome thing about both these organizations is that you can not only send money to support a child in need, but you can send letters with your love and support. I have been brought to tears reading bloggers like Big Mama talk about these kids saving letters for years that they got from their sponsors. It is so powerful in the life of a child just to know someone cares!


Mark 12:30-31, ''Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

1Thess 5:11, ""Encourage one another and build up one another."

John 15:12, "This is My commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you."


Did you guys have fun making these valentines? (hopefully answer will be yes) How do you think this little girl (if you have one, insert name of your sponsored child and show thier picture) will feel when she opens your valentines? ("happy", "good", "loved"). It can be fun to show love to others. Does God want us to love other people? ("yes") God wants us to love other people and make them feel good. John 3:16, tells us that, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son." This verse says, the world so remember God loves all people in the world, just like He loves us, and that is why he wants us to show love for others.

Dear God, help us to love other people and to show them we love them. Thank you for loving us! Amen

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cute, Cheap Little Girl Shoes!

Check out these adorable silver Mary Jane shoes (hint: click on the word "shoes" and it will link you to them) on sale at Target. My daughter has these and I just ordered a new pair in the next size up. They are comfy, but girly and go great with dresses or jeans. Also, they work well without socks, which in the hot south where we live I'm always looking for shoes that won't hurt her feet if worn without socks. And, of course, you cannot beat the price! The sale may end soon, but the regular price is only $14.99

What It Is Like Having 3 Kids

People often ask me what it is like having 3 kids and it is hard to explain in few words, but I suppose “chaos and blessing” comes close. There is no way I could adequately cover this topic in one post, so consider this the introduction with related posts to come at later, currently undetermined, random dates in the future.

For starters our playdough colors were not all mixed together when I had 2 kids! There is something about that move from 2 to 3 kids that kinda puts you over the edge in terms of keeping everything together. Here are some key points about having 3 kids in no particular order:

1. You are way more likely to cause a scene! Going out to dinner, for instance, with 2 children you have much better odds that the kids will all be in a good mood for the entire meal and that nobody will spill their drink or fall out of their chair. But when you add that 3rd child you increase your chances for whining, crying, disobeying, spilling, etc., etc. Also, there is the obvious that it is much easier for 2 parents to control, placate, stave off disaster with 2 kids than it is for 2 parents to do the same for 3 kids. A kid will inevitably fall through the crack of parental attention just long enough to do something embarrassing. Also, be warned if you are new to 3 Kidville that when you do enter a restaurant or airplane or post office line most eyes will be on your family. They will be scrutinizing your every move and waiting for the meltdown!

2. There is what I like to call the “disheveledness factor” that increases with every child you add. It is doable to keep 1 or 2 children clean with noses & mouths wiped, shoes on the correct feet, and clothes that are the right size and appropriate for the current weather. With 3 or more children, however, any time you leave the house there is a high likelihood that someone will have their shoes on the wrong feet, chocolate on their face, hair that is not brushed, or pants that are too short.

3. There is always someone that needs something from you – a drink, a Kleenex, a bottom wiped, a consequence, a hug, a story read, a question answered, a car seat buckled, a coat zipped, food cut up, a lost item found and often they all 3 need/want something at the same time and you find yourself faced with assessing who has the biggest real need that should be tended to first.

4. The noise! It is loud! Even to me and I am kinda used to it. I had warned relatives of this fact in our Christmas letter this past year, but still when they came to stay for a visit, I could tell by the looks on their faces a few times that it was a little intense. Maybe we should hand out earplugs at the door!

5. The blessings are multiplied, too! To see all those little faces around the dinner table, to have another person to love, to observe them taking turns and being patient, to watch your 3 children playing together, and witness them helping each other – it is the biggest blessing of your life and so worth the extra work.

6. Really, embracing the chaos of 3 kids sets you free. As a mom of two I really tried to have it all together and it was upsetting when things fell apart, now I do not expect perfection and that not only sets me free, but my family as well! Embarrassing, attention drawing situations no longer = failure to me. Now, going on an outing with my 3 kids and returning with 3 kids = success! Yesterday, for example, I took my 3 children to the park, we spent an entire hour and granted there was a little bloodshed, but no ambulance required, I returned home with 3 relatively unscathed children and that plus 3 loads of laundry = a pat-myself-on-the-back kind of day!

having 3 kids

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Too Much Stuff

My daughter likes her stuff. It is not uncommon that she appears at the door to leave for church with a doll, 2 books, a sippy cup, and a blankie in hand.

My husband or I will look down and say, “It’s too much stuff.” You see we know that there is no way for her to carry all that stuff into the car or to hold on to it once she’s in the car and that carrying all that stuff will slow her down.

So, if we are on top of our parenting game we will tell her, “Pick one thing to take.” If we are not on top of it, we let her sneak by with all the stuff. Sometimes we don’t feel like challenging her and agree to pile all of it in on top of her lap in the car seat, but as soon as the journey begins we regret not ending the madness sooner because the entire trip will be filled with dramatic outbursts as beloved toys, books, and cups are dropped from her lap.

“MY BOOK!” she will shriek from the backseat and you try to ignore her because it is on the floorboard and not easily retrieved, especially if you are the driver, but the shrieks continue and are joined by tears and you’ll do anything to make it stop even twisting your back and arm into contortions not intended when God designed the human body just to retrieve said object and return it to quiet the shrieks.

But alas, you seasoned parents know, the quiet lasts about 30 seconds until the cup is dropped. “MY CUP!!!” the little princess screams, “MY CUPPY!”

Oh how well God knows that we all travel around this life on earth with “too much stuff!” He knows it will slow us down, cause us grief, but we refuse to choose just one. We want it all, all the time! So, He strips it away until we are finally free enough of the “stuff” that is making us ineffective in serving Him. We shriek as each one falls away, but our Heavenly Father is the perfect parent and knows ultimately it is better for everyone to leave that book, that cup, that doll on the floorboard rather than returning it to our lap.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Works for me Wednesday: The Capture Monster

Are you tired of your kids leaving their stuff everywhere? Enter the Capture Monster!
I used to spend precious kids-are-in-bed time picking up toys, books, dress-up clothes, etc. that my children had strewn about the house during the day. I just couldn't relax or get anything else done with kid-stuff everywhere. I would pile it all on the stairs so it could go back up into the kid-world it had come from and thus I'd reclaim some order to the downstairs.

Then we got the idea for the “Capture Monster”. He is like the anti-Santa. He visits at night once the kids are in bed and takes away toys that have been left downstairs. The toys go in a bin in Mommy's closet. Unlike Christmas morning the kids don't wake up and come running to see what toys were brought, but they come running to find out what toys were captured!

To free treasures from Capture Monster Prison, the kids can pay $1 per item in bail or on a morning after the capture monster doesn't capture anything (all toys were put away), the kids get to choose one item to come out of prison.

Now that the Capture Monster visits us regularly, the kids are much better at cleaning up their things before bed. The great thing, too, is that I think they really know Mommy is the Capture Monster, but somehow they like the excitement of the monster and they don't get mad or whine to me about the toys that are captured. They even have fun talking about the Capture Monster during the day. “Is the Capture Monster coming tonight? Does the Capture Monster get coloring books? Does the Capture Monster get mad if he doesn't find anything?” and on the dialogue goes. Think of it as building your kids' imagination skills while getting them to clean up their stuff!

Find more Works For Me Wednesday Tips at Rocks in my Dryer.

What’s That Lady Singing About?

When my son was almost four he went through a phase of asking, “What’s that lady (or man) singing about?” to every song that came on the radio. Thankfully I listen to Christian radio and praise God for providing great Christian stations because I shutter to think how I’d explain the answer to that question about most songs on mainstream radio, but I digress.

One day when he asked, “What is that lady singing about?” I struggled to sum up the meaning of the song in a way a four year-old would understand and I came up with, “She is singing about how she needs a new life, a new life in Jesus.”

His reply stunned me. He said, “I need a new life, too, because the old one is broken.”

Indeed!! Out of the mouths of babes! We all need a new life in Jesus. The "why?" is so simple – because the old one is broken! Our lives are broken by sin, broken by circumstances, broken by others, broken into a hundred thousand tiny pieces that only Jesus can take and make new.

I must be honest and admit that some days when I wasn’t as Spirit-filled as I should have been, the “What is that lady singing about” phase drove me crazy, but as it is with all phases, it passed. A couple months later it was replaced with the “Are you turning?” phase. Yes, every time I came to a stop while driving the car, he would shout from the back, “Are you turning?” Needless to say I longed for the return of the “What is that lady singing about” phase!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Can you guess how many boxes of cereal are in my pantry?

How many boxes of cereal are in my pantry right now? 14!!! And that is not even including the 4 different kinds of oatmeal we have in there. Yes, we love our breakfast foods around here!

I actually eat cereal twice a day! It has helped me tremendously to switch from a late night snack of ice cream to a bowl of cereal. I used to be a huge ice cream fan, but I also used to be a marathon runner in my pre-kid days! Once I could no longer fit 15 mile runs into my schedule I needed a less indulgent answer to my 10PM hunger. It has been years since the switch and I honestly don't miss the ice cream! Cranberry Almond Crunch is my favorite nighttime snack!

Now to account for the other 13 cereal boxes in there (my pantry is narrow, but deep, so there is another row of cereal behind this one you can see). Well, there are 5 members of my family and everyone has their 2 favorites that they like to rotate between and few of these favorites overlap. Also, I have some duplicates of the most often eaten kinds so we don't run out.

More than you ever wanted to know about my pantry? Come on, now your turn, what would most surprise me about your pantry?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Scripture Sharing - Family Devotional #2

To see the 1st Family Devotional click here, but this devotional stands alone and does not have to build on last week. So, feel free to jump right in with your family!

Today's topic is:

Allowing God to build our house

How do you build a house? (let kids answer) What steps do you have to do? (let kids answer) Have you ever heard of a blueprint? (if kids do not know what this is, explain it to them) What would happen if you tried to build a house without a blueprint? (let kids answer)

Activity (need several square or rectangle crackers, cream cheese-we like the strawberry kind)
Have the kids build a house out of the crackers, using the cream cheese as the "glue". They can even eat it when they are through!

Psalm 127:1a, "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it"

Matthew 7:24-27, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall."

This means if you do something without God, there is no use, it is going to fail. How can we make sure that God is at the center of everything we do? (let children answer; then provide your suggestions -- pray about everything, ask for God's help, and listen for God's answers before doing things our own way). This is what it means to build upon the rock; God is the rock. He should be the blueprint for everything you do and then you are the worker. Briefly tell the story of the tower of Babel (read Gen. 11 if you do not know this story). The people worked without God at the center and He did not allow them to finish. (Now, tell a personal story of how you, the parent, seek God's will, guidance, and help in your life. We will tell our children about how we prayed for each of them before they were even in mommy's tummy and sought God's timing about when they would be born. Also, we will share how we try to ask God at the beginning of each day to show us what He wants us to do.) Wrap up by asking what will happen to my house if I built it without God. (Hold up the house you made. When the children say, "it will fall", then help your house collapse.)

Dear God, help us make you the center of all we do. Thank you for wanting to help us! Amen.

Friday, January 9, 2009


I sometimes think Heaven will be like the beach trip without the endless packing, the gallons of sunscreen that must be applied to wiggling sandy bodies, sandy food, the whining at the end of the day, the endless unpacking, and the fine layer of sand that will coat every surface of your car and house (which is 70 miles from the beach, mind you) for the next 3-4 weeks!

I do get a glimpse of Heaven when I go to the beach with my family, though. There is that moment when I am sitting in the lounge chair, basking in the warmth of the sun, listening to the ocean waves, and watching my children laughing and playing in the surf with my husband. It is so good, joyous, blessed, and makes all the day’s work worthwhile.

But it is just a moment and then gone, because someone will need to go potty and insist he or she cannot go in the water, or a bigger someone will suggest that I watch the toddler so he can take the older kids farther out. Toddler will be covered in wet sand and want to sit on my lap, for 30 seconds, then he will want to rummage through the cooler, spreading sand to the last remaining sand-free zone in my current world. Toddler will eat sand by the handfuls before loudly deciding that it is not good. I will take tons of pictures (being careful not to get sand on the camera) of sand-covered toddler to properly record the milestone. Toddler will wipe sand in his eyes and again protest loudly. People nearby will begin frowning in my direction.

I will quiet said toddler only to realize his swim diaper is poopy and if you have never changed a poopy swim diaper, well then we just are light-years apart in this life journey, but if you have, you know – MUCH worse than a dirty regular diaper!

But someday it will all be perfect, better than we can even imagine!

"Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him." 1 Cor 2:9

"there shall no longer be any morning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." Rev. 21:4

What do you think Heaven will be like?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Why I began to blog

Okay, so it has been around two weeks since I began this wild ride into blog writing.  I only just began reading blogs a few months ago.  Talk about a whole 'nother world that I had no idea existed!  

Anyway, I wanted to jump in, but now that it has been count 'em 2 weeks I'm feeling a little overwhelmed.  There is a lot to learn about this blog world --, comments, memes, carnivals, RSS feeds, widgets, gadgets, trackback, ping, permalink -- ya'll it's more chaos than even my home! 

But, still I'm glad to be here and I do apologize for any mistakes I may be making.  I'm new!

Why I began to blog:
1. To encourage me to write more, something I've always enjoyed.

2. To chronicle this time in my life so I will always remember what it was like, the lessons I learned and the blessings God provided along the way.  

3. So that maybe someday if my baby girl is in the throws of raising small children she will be interested to read what her mom experienced, felt, and did while I was raising her and her brothers.

4. To connect with and learn from other bloggers, people who have gone before me and people that are currently going through similar life phases.

5. To hopefully be helpful and encouraging to other moms.

6. And I pray, to glorify God .  Oh Lord, please show me the way!

1 Thess 2:4, "We have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts." 

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Works for me Wednesday: A Privilege Chart

My husband and I have had much trial and error in this parenting journey. Much of what we have tried has not worked, but one thing has worked for well over a year.

Our oldest is very strong-willed. He is cons
tantly challenging us and needing consequences for bad behavior. He responds best to lossing privileges, but having 3 kids I found it hard to keep up with which privileges he had lost. We'd also forget to reinstate privileges. He'd do something bad and I'd go to get that favorite toy to put it in time-out and I'd realize it was already in time-out from 3 days ago when I'd taken it away and forgotten to give it back. Clearly we needed a new system!

In desperation we did a little internet research and found the Dilley Discipline Ladder. If it could work for the Dilley Sextuplets, maybe it could work for us!

We modified the rungs of the ladder for our family and here is what we came up with:
I intended to someday make this chart prettier, but alas that hasn't happened. So, it is just a blue piece of construction paper with marker writing that has been slipped into a plastic sheet protector. It is clipped to the side of our fridge and has a clothespin with his name to indicate what level our son is on.

The rungs, or "levels" as we call them are:
10. Special treats, surprises, and extra privileges

9. May play video games

8. May watch TV

7. May have normal bedtime

6. May have special activites (includes playdates, dessert)
5. May play in playroom and backyard
4. May color and do other art
3. May play with toys in your room
2. May read books and do workbooks

1. Chores and thinking time only

So the way it works is that your child falls levels for bad behavior and rises for good behavior. The number of levels lost or gained is up to the parent. Most infrations around our house cause a loss of 2 levels, pushing a sibling for example, but something worse like really hard pushing with no provacation may cause a loss of 4 levels. Good things, like sharing with a sibling without being told to or helping around the house will move the child up the ladder. The great thing about the clothespin is that you always know what privileges they have! They get the privilege of the level they are on plus all other levels below.

We think it is important for the child to own the process, so we discussed levels and privileges with our son as we created the chart and incorporated
some of his ideas. Also, he must move his own clothespin. If he is told to move down 2 and he refuses or argues, it becomes 3, again if he refuses or argues it increases to 4. If the parent has to move the clip, he is moved down to level 1. Another way he monitors the system himself is that he is responsible for knowing what level he is on. If he's caught playing his Leapster when he is not on the video game privilege level, he cannot plead that he didn't know and he will fall further down the ladder for taking a privilege he did not have.

When he wants a certain privilege and he is not on the right level he will come ask me what he can do to move up. He can unload the dishwasher, clean windows, wipe down toliets, and other chores that are not his regular chores.

This chart has really helped us. I love that it is not only about consequensing bad behavior but rewarding good, also! When my daughter turns 4 I plan to add another clothespin with her name on it to the chart. I think at 4 they are ready for this type of system.

After we'd used this system for a year I toured my son's new kindergarten classroom and saw that they have a chart with 3 levels (green, yellow, and red) and clothespin clips with each child's name on it to keep up with classroom behavior. Seeing this validated even more for me that this type of system works and it was great that my son was already used to the idea.

This system has made the hard issue of discipline much easier for us! Find more Works For Me Wednesday Tips at Rocks in my Dryer.

privilege chart

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Tea Party in the Rain

It was my first day in weeks to have just one child with me for the morning. My older 2 were back to school after Christmas break, so as you can imagine I had a busy morning of errands planned. Oh, the places I'd go with just one child in tow!!!

But then I woke up to a cold, wet, very rainy day and realized my errand morning just got more difficult. Umbrellas and rain and mud and a toddler and a car seat and a lot of in and out of the car at multiple stops just doesn't spell a pleasant morning!

I briefly pondered dropping my daughter off at preschool and heading straight home to hibernate with my 1 year old until we had to pick her up at noon, but the errands had been put off for too long already because I just couldn't face them with all 3 kids.

The most dire was also the most difficult in the rain, a large shopping trip to Sams. But we were nearly out of Coke Zero and I refuse to pay full price for it at the regular grocery! So, the desire to avoid an afternoon without a Coke Zero beat out the desire to stay in on this cold, cold, wet day.

As I headed off, my attitude was not great. Grumbling and frowning I was. Then it occurred to me, the errands and weather and toddler were going to be the same, but I could choose to be in a good mood or a bad mood to face them. God was giving me the choice, much like I do for my children when I say, "Are you going to obey or have a consequence for disobeying?"

His instruction was clear, "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let our mind dwell on these things." Philippians 4:8.

I decided to have a good attitude. So I'd get a little wet, so the errands would take longer, so my gigantic boxes of cereal and fruit snacks would get a little soggy, at least I wasn't shopping with all three of my kids!

By the end of the wet errands I was even in such a good mood I was able to think of a lovely one-on-one activity for my 3 year-old daughter and I to do after her school. I fed my 1 year-old before getting my 3 year-old at noon and set up a tea party. When we got home from preschool pick-up I put my 1 year-old down for his nap and my daughter and I had a tea party lunch on her princess tea set. I turned a sheet into a tablecloth, cut some flowers from the backyard for the vase, and put milk in the tea pot. We had meat & cheese on crackers with strawberries on the little plates and yogurt with granola in the little bowls. She loved it and it was a special time just for the two of us (and 2 of her dollies)!

Before you go thinking I'm a good mom, I should confess that I allowed my 1 year-old to play with this teeth flosser in the car between errands. He got it stuck on his finger, started screaming and wildly trying to pull it off. I was helpless because I was in the front seat driving. Thankfully it ended okay, he still has his finger. But, those flossers, are not good toys!

God writes the best endings! Around 2:50 PM, as I was sitting in the elementary school car line, the sun finally came out. We have had several gray days the last few weeks, so the sunshine was especially beautiful! Then I just happened to read this verse in the book I had with me, "For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Cor. 4:6. God taught me today that whether he allows the sunshine to break out of the cloudy, dreary sky or not, I can choose to allow His light to shine in my heart and then become a light in the darkness.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Trip to Stride Rite

Anyone ever have the experience of entering the Stride Rite with your child to get new shoes and you leave with shoes one and a half sizes larger than the shoes your child wore into the store?

Happens every single time to me and every single time, I spend the next half a day trying to convince myself that I am not a bad mother. Just the image of my poor darling’s toes crammed up into the end of their shoes every day and I didn’t even notice!

“Didn’t we just get new shoes?” I say. This coming from the girl who asks, “Wasn’t it just July?” when it is in fact the end of December!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sunday Scripture Sharing - Family Devotional

Do you have the goal to have more family devotionals?  Are you having a hard time sharing the Bible with your young children?  You have come to the right place.

We, too, have the goal to have a family devotional at least once a week and since I am planning a devotion for my family with kids ages 5, 3, and 1 yrs., I thought I'd share what we're doing in case it helps your family.  I pray that I'll be able to do this each Sunday with a fresh devotional, complete with topic, scripture verses, activity, and discussion questions.

For the first Sunday of the new year today's topic is:

God makes people new

This is a new year.  What year is it now? (kids answer “2009”)  What was the old year? (kids answer “2008”).  Do you like new things?  What does something new look like? (kids might answer “clean, not used”) Show kids some dirty pennies and 1 clean, shiny new penny.  Ask if they think you can turn the old pennies into new pennies.  Then do activity.

Activity (need: 1 new, shiny penny, a few dirty pennies, white vinegar, 1 tsp salt, a jar or small clear glass bowl)
Fill your container with around a cup of vinegar (enough to cover pennies), add 1 tsp of salt (let kids do this part), drop in the dirty pennies (let kids do this).  Swish around the pennies a little and wait a few minutes (read Scripture below while you wait).  In 3 or 4 minutes your pennies should be much cleaner.  Fish them out of the vinegar, rinse them off and compare them to your new penny.

Did you know God can make people new?

Ezekiel 36:25-27, “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
2 Cor. 5:17 “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come.”

God can make people new, just like the vinegar and salt made the pennies new.  When you ask Jesus into your heart, God makes you clean.  This means he takes away the bad things (sin) and leaves you free to do good things.  Remember the story of Saul (see Acts 9 if you don't know this story) who was really mean and did terrible things?  But then he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and God turned him into someone good and changed his name to Paul.  To close, ask kids, “How can you make a penny new? ( answer: “vinegar & salt)  “Who can make people new?” (answer: “God/Jesus)  “Can you make someone new?” (Kids might answer that yes they can!  Correct them that they cannot, but they can tell people about Jesus who can make people new!)

Dear God, thank you that you make us new and forgive the bad things we do.  Amen