Saturday, February 28, 2009

Simple Living: Part Fourteen

Today's topic for Simple Living is "A Mother's Work is Never Done."

In other words, we're brainstorming ideas for how to make the weekend more restful when, as moms, we live at our jobs.

I've thought about it a lot this week and came up with a few ideas. As well as a few revelations about myself. Here's what I've been thinking about:

*If I plan to be restful, I am 100% more likely to see it happen. If I plan to need a break or plan an outing with the family, our weekend refreshes us for the coming week. However, if we just let the day go by like any other, I come into Monday wondering why I'm so exhausted.
*Saturday breakfasts are always a special event in our house. I love to cook so this fits into my personality. We rotate three items: pancakes, gingerbread waffles, or a baked good. Hubby and I take turns making breakfast and letting the other sleep in. Saturday breakfasts are slow and everyone stay in their jammies as long as they can.
*Sundays are busy around here. My husband is gone usually from 7 am till 11 am and again 4pm-7pm. So there is time in the afternoon, but we try to go out with friends or new acquaintances from church. Since it is so busy for hubby, I try to keep the kids strictly routined on those days. Naps and meals are consistent as possible. Dinner is something easy as Daddy's gone and we're all just relaxing. This week we're just going for something similar to potato bar. Quick and easy.
*Sunday lunches are for family or meeting with people from church. So sometimes we'll go out to In 'N' Out. We found that going out for lunch was getting hard on Baby Girl 'cause she still takes a morning nap during that time. So alot of times we'll get take out then open up our home to have people over. The last few days, I've been considering making some freezer meals so that I can pop something in the oven on a Sunday morning to have for lunch.

To see how others are practicing Simple Living, check out Keeper of the Home.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Frugal Friday

Hey there,
Happy Frugal Friday!

Last weekend was crazy around here. We had two birthday parties and times with friends. One of the birthday parties we went to was Big Boy's best friend. She's 8 months older than Big Boy and the daughter of our small group host family. Their place has been like a second home to all of us. So despite a tight budget, we waited to get her something nice.

I picked up a cute little sweater at Target on 50% off. And then remembered this cute little apron; I knew it would be perfect. So it was just a matter of getting my sewing machine out and putting it together. A little towel from Walmart and some ribbon... and here's what I ended up with.

I folded the top fourth over and double stitched the ribbon on the front.

I also folded over the ends of the ribbon and stitched it to prevent fraying.

Honestly, it was a little big. Trying it on afterwards, it was close to being a good size for an adult. Very cute and very simple. Plus extra frugal.

For more Frugal Friday ideas, check out Biblical Womanhood.

Real Resolutions for Moms: Part Seven

If you're just joining us for this series, check out Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, and Part Six.

"When normal childhood mishaps occur, I will remember that although difficult, it is easier to remove grape juice from off-white carpet than to erase harsh and unloving words hurled at a child whose chubby little fingers have failed her, for by this my children will see a God who understands when our best efforts fall short."

How often in a day am I guilty of this? But how I didn't even realize it.

I was recently sitting in a MOPS meeting, listening to a Dad's panel talk about their views on parenting and marriage. When one of the guys said something that I'll never forget. He quoted the scripture from Ephesians 6:4--
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
He talked about how disciplining our children for mistakes is contrary to God's word. Those are teachable moments, whether it be to teach about sitting at the table with that grape juice or teaching God's mercy in those situations. If we're not showing our kids what we expect of them, how can we fault them?

Big Boy's favorite movie right now is Veggie Tale's Jonah. I love the music on that video. The lesson focuses on God giving second chances. Jonah made a mistake and yet in God's mercy he was spared. If Jonah can run away from God, how much more mercy can we extend to our children when they small mistakes in the light of eternity?

One of the things that my husband and I believe is important to pass on to our children is their inability to accomplish anything outside of God's will and provision. With our belief, how can we not also teach them of a God who accepts us "when our best efforts fall short?"

"Lord, help me to catch my tongue when my children make mistakes. Help me to turn away from sharp words, angry tones, and rough manners. Remind me that they are only young for a time, and that things are fixable, clothes are washable, and that's what nap time is for. Show me the great mercy you've given me so that I may in turn lavish more upon them."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Proof positive that I'm the Mommy to the World's Roughest Boy
I thought Kids were supposed to outgrow before they out wore their clothes.
Look at those holes in the knee.

For more Wordless Wednesday, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Pumpkin Smoothie

Big Boy had some dental work done last Monday. For a few days he complained about pain when we were brushing his teeth and it escalated to pain when he was eating. We were worried that there might be a problem with his filling, but soon discovered he kept biting his cheek.

For a few days now we've been trying to keep him from eating anything too complicated (hence several nights of soup this week). How do you explain to a 3 year old to eat only on one side of his mouth? He just wasn't getting it. So small bites and an occasional smoothie when he can't get a meal down.

I ran across this recipe from an old issue of Fitness Magazine and couldn't wait to try it out with the kids. This was the perfect opportunity and we loved it. Baby Girl wasn't completely sold, but at one year old, she still doesn't fully understand a straw. This smoothie was yummy, rich, and tasted a lot like Pumpkin Ice Cream. Very good and taking into consideration the nutritional value, it's something we'll be trying again soon. Hope you like it as much as we did.

Super Pumpkin Smoothie

1 c canned pure pumpkin
1 c milk
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/3 tsp nutmeg
2/3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 c ice
whipped cream and cinnamon (optional)

Blend everything but the ice until smooth. add ice; continue to blend until thick and creamy. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon, if desired. Serves 4

Here's the real clincher, the nutritional facts included:
88 calories
3 grams protein
15 grams carbs
2 grams fat (1 gram saturated)
2 grams fiber

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tackle it Tuesday

Tackle? What tackle?

I've been trying to get myself a little bit more organized in an attempt to get some stuff done around here. Little projects, little things I want to get done.

So I'm cheating a little bit today. Taking some time to read for Practicing Hospitality, finish off my weekly grocery shopping, put together a handful of crafts that I want to work on, and looking up some great felt gift ideas. I've been keeping my eyes on a couple of these little ideas that are popping up here and there. I know Baby Girl is too small now, but I can't shake the idea that they were make great gifts when she's closer to two. These are just a few of the ideas I've come across so far:

Mail (Envelopes and Letters)
Cherry Pie
Felt Food Cookies
Assorted Felt Food
More Assorted Felt Food
Further Directions

So what are you tackling?

To see what others are tackling today, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Practicing Hospitality: Chp 3

Lindsey, from Passionate Homemaking, continues our discussion of Practicing Hospitality this week with chapter three. Find the prior discussions for chapter one and chapter two here.

These are some key points that stuck out to me during the reading:
*Therefore, prudence and discernment are essential attributes for protecting the priority of our family while ministering to the needs of others (pg 76).
*The seven principles stated (pg 77-84):
1. Remember there are seasons in life--what you dream of doing now may not be possible because of the ages of your children, you physical capabilities, the size of your home, etc.
2. Partner with your husband--who better realistically knows your time and ability constraints?
3. Include your children--teach them by doing
4. Treat your family as good as guests--show your family that they are as important to you as people coming in from the outside
5. Keep an orderly home--show your family how you take care of your blessings
6. Use discretion--be wise about who comes in your home, especially with small children
7. Remember meaningful moments--take pictures, write letters, mark special days on the calendar
*Family traditions provide a sense of stability and permanence in our homes (pg 85).

1. How can you begin to practice hospitality to your family?
We tend to remember a lot of the special moments, days, and traditions in our family. Additionally, we make an effort, as much as possible to sit down with our little ones for dinner every evening. It's a little tough with my husband working nights, but even when he's gone, I try to sit down and have a real dinner with the kids.
One thing I could be better about is treating my husband and the kids like guests. Not to be walked upon, but in a way that makes them feel valued. I've always felt like one of the ways that I express love to my family is through cooking for them. Bringing in the little details of a meal will only enhance that extension of love.

2. What are your favorite spiritual, kindred, or holiday traditions?
*Spiritual-I take time each night to pray with each of the kids before they go to bed. Big Boy especially loves our prayer time together as I sit and listen to him talk about his day. We've also memorize scripture as well as attend church together on Sunday mornings.
*Kindred-I have a separate $1 book for each of the kids and every couple of weeks, I'll take a few minutes to write something in it. A letter, something special they said, a prayer request that was answered. One day these will be their's, filled with memories. We also do Saturday morning breakfast. It's usually pancakes, waffles, or a special baked good. Occasionally, I'll meet the girls for breakfast, but I still try to have a meal made before I leave, or all the ingredients available for Daddy.
*Holiday-Holiday meals are traditionally shared with extended family. Although that requires traveling, we cherish the time we have with aunts, uncles, etc. We always take family photos on Easter and Christmas.

Join us next week for Chapter Four: Hospitality and Management.

Menu Monday 2/23-3/1

Pumpkin Spice Granola
Yogurt and Fruit

Wraps w/ Black Bean Hummus
Lightning McQueen Racing Wraps
Fruited Jello
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Carrots and dip
Homemade Applesauce

Monday: Mashed Potato soup
Tuesday: Grilled cheese and tomato soup
Wednesday: Crockpot Hearty Beef Chili
Thursday: Taco Soup
Friday: Secret Lair BBQ burgers, baked zucchini fries, potato salad
Saturday: Salmon Patties, sauteed zucchini
Sunday: Chili Topped Potato Wedges

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
Orange Smoothies
Chocolate Quickies
Something yummy!!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Simple Living: Part Thirteen

Just a quick post today. It seems we are in the middle of birthday weekend and I'm tired. Just something quick to let you know that I'm thinking of you and then back to relaxing with my family.

So what did you do for Valentine's Day? Doesn't that seem so long ago already?

Anyways... we invited over ( of course) about 5 other couple over, along with their kids. Crazy, and brave of me I know. I spent most of Saturday picking up the house and weeding out a few toys that I didn't want taken out. My kitchen got a real cleaning, which it was in bad need of, and we picked up some chips and salsa.

The invitation simply stated to bring over a snack to share so we had everything from spaghetti to pie. There was so much food, in fact, that it hardly looked like we made a dent in it. The kids played in the kids' room, exploring the joys of other people's toys, and we generally let them get away with anything. All in all, they behaved very well. It couldn't have been the fact that they discovered the step stool in the kitchen and were sneaking cookies.

After munching for far too long, the adults moved into the living room and played Catch Phrase. Most of the people were from our home group, another couple from church, and my college roommate and her family. So it was a good group of people that had some familiarity with each other, but the ice was really broken by playing such a fun game together.

We had about 17 people at our house that night, 7 of which were (barely) 4 years and under. It was crazy, loud, and chaotic. But we had so much fun. Most people would shy away from having such a big group, but we don't mind the kids. My biggest fear was "What to feed them?" and "What are we going to do?" By inviting them to share with the group by bringing a snack, we didn't have to worry about dinner. And playing games kept everything friendly and fun. It was the simplest evening with the biggest crowd. Honestly, I can't wait to do it again.

How are you leaving simply? Check out Keeper of the Home to find out how others are doing it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Nutritional Facts

Since I'm having a hard time getting Real Resolutions posted today, I thought I'd pass on a few little nutritional tidbits I ran across today.

1/2 cup cantaloupe --27 calories--90% water content
1/2 cup carrots (raw)--26 calories--88% water content
Clementine orange--35 calories--87% water content
1/2 cup cucumber w/ skin--8 calories--95% water content
1/2 Red peppers (raw)--14 calories--92% water content
1 cup spinach (fresh)--7 calories--91% water content

(All You Magazine Aug '08)

How is that for motivating?

Frugal Friday

You know what... I'm out of ideas this week. It seems like we squeeze every little penny till she bleeds. With the exception of my hubby's cell phone (which he refuses to give up) and our two car lifestyle (which I refuse to give up), we live rather modesty. It's nice, but leaves us with few things left to cut.

So this week, I thought I'd simply refer you to, where you can search for free shipping codes on things we can't afford anyway, and provide you with a good laugh featuring some articles about people who have taken frugality to the extreme. Let me know what you think about:

Cheaper than Cheap

Frugal Living as an Extreme Sport (make sure you read the comments on this one)

For more money saving ideas, check out Biblical Womanhood.

Real Resolutions for Moms: Part Six

If your just joining us for this series, check out Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five.

"When bad things happen, I'll neither grumble nor complain, but will instead help my children see that in the scope of our lives even the bad times are allowed for a reason, for by this my children will learn quiet trust in their Maker."

I've really struggled with writing this post today. So much so that I almost gave up and put if off until next week. "Who would mind if I just put it off a few days?" "Everyone would certainly understand that it's been a busy couple of days in our house." "I'm tired and can give this more attention when I'm fresh in the morning."

But the truth is, beyond all the reasoning and justifying, I don't like this section of "Real Resolutions." It's something that I'd rather not address in my own life. And certainly addressing it in my own life is something that has to be done before I can model it for my kids.

Who is this person to tell me that I shouldn't grumble or complain? What do they know about my life? Sometimes grumbling or complaining is justifiable. Or so we make it seem.

But when I step back, I realize she's probably just a woman like me, just trying to make it by every day, hoping to survive motherhood.

How much of my life is marked by complaining? Even in the little things. Dinners not quite the way I expected it to turn out. The company is late. The toys are picked up the way I like them. My husband forgot something at the store. His Christmas bonus isn't what we expected. The electric bill went up, the insurance hasn't kicked in, the dentist appointment is coming up.

If I was really honest with myself, how much of my grumbling or complaining stems from my own lack of trust?

And even when I don't complain, how often do I turn to the Lord in prayer? Or how often do I pout?

"Lord, I'm shocked and saddened by my own lack of trust in you. I'm marked with complaining over the little things, grumbling over the big things, and lost in my own disbelief. Forgive me of my independence. Heal me of my insecurities. May I walk in the knowledge that you... "cause(s) all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). Heal me first that I may model health, belief, and "silent trust" for my children."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How do I love thee?

As moms, wifes, sisters, daughters, ... women... it's often times easy to get caught up in doing for others, most likely to the neglect of ourselves. We dream big dreams for those around us. We sacrifice to help others on the journey. And how often we find ourselves, tired, restless, and burnt out.

I'm a classic overachiever, dabbler of many things, often lacking balance in my own life. However, as I continue on this journey of balance seeking, June Cleaver dreaming, self-sacrificing motherhood, I've found a few things that keep me sane. A few things that allow me to replenish.

*Time with the Lord- Now one day I dream of having a half hour, even 15 min, to just read and meditate on the Word. Time to just sit still. But with a busy 3 year old, and attached 1 year old, those days seem a ways off still. For now, my greatest tool has been memorizing Scripture, something I started with my son that has turned into a joy and encouragement for me. So those times when I'm feeling dry, lost, running out of patience, I draw on the truths that I know.

*Consistent workouts- Though these days I'm just getting back into a workout routine, I find that I'm more rejuvenated, energetic, and excited to be with my family when I have those workouts to look forward to. I'm striving to do it 4-5 days a week, no excuses, no regrets. I'm building up my body to work for me, to help me reach the full potential of life. To be a better mom.

*Scrapbooking nights with a friend- This is something that I've long dreamed of doing. Finding someone to chat with while we work away. I love to scrapbook and craft. But scrapbooking is my first love. So a friend and I have gotten our heads together and found a night that works for both of us and are going to start getting together in the next couple of weeks. Just a couple of hours. Just a couple of hours to not have demands on me as a mother or wife. Just a couple of hours to be creative, relax and fellowship.

There are other things in my day. A few moments on the couch with my husband while the kids play. Finishing a blog while Big Boy finishes breakfast. Going to the bathroom with the door closed. But those moments are sporatic and all too short. These are the disciplines I'm putting to place in my life to make me wholer, calmer, more myself. And more capable of accomplishing the challenge of motherhood.

For more Wordfull Wednesday entries, check out Chocolate on My Cranium.

Wordless Wednesday

Comparing the size of our feet
Mama, Big Boy, Baby Girl, and Lambie

For more Wordless Wednesday, check out 5 Minutes for Mom

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pampered Chef Stoneware

So I'm trying out a new cookie recipe tonight and suddenly it occurs to me "What Works for Me."

Since I've been married, we've always had at least one pice of Pampered Chef Stoneware in our house. I grew up with my mom using them as a consultant, and now as a wife and mom, I don't know what I'd do without it.

For financial reasons, we just have a flat round stone. We use them mostly for pizzas and cookies. We find that our cookies bake more evenly and quickly in the oven. They are also less likely to stick and burn.

My mom has also had further luck with the bar pans and bakers for bar cookies, lasagnes, and such. Everything seems to
bake more thoroughly and have a consistent heat throughout.

Stoneware definately Works for Me.

To find more Works for Me entries, check out Rocks in My Dryer.

Tackle it Tuesday

Wow! This has been a whirlwind of a week. So much so I haven't really been able to tackle anything... yet!

Here I sit, the rain pouring, thinking, "I don't really want to be bothered to do anything today." So no big projects on my list this morning. Rather I'm just going to focus on getting some odds and ends done and hope for the best in those big tackles next week.

This is what I'm hoping to get done today:
*pay a couple of bills
*find at least one class to take this spring
*work on at least two future posts
*mail my sister's birthday present
*start working on a workable schedule for the kids and I when hubby starts nights

(you know in the midst of feeding, clothing, changing, napping, and, well, generally raising two contributing members of society)

What are you tackling today?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Practicing Hospitality: Chp 2

Lindsey, from Passionate Homemaking, continues in our discussion of Practicing Hospitality here for chapter 2. Find the discussion for chapter 1 here.

These are just a few of the quotes that stood out to me:
*because of God's great love toward you and me, we should willingly desire to extend love and service toward others by practicing hospitality (pg 50)
*viewing hospitality as a form of giving helps eliminate expectations of receiving anything in return for the sacrifices made (pg 52)
*hospitality is a guage of Christian character for both men and women. It is a measurement of one's love for others (pg 56)

Additionally, there were three definitions given by respondents that seems to encompass the heart of the chapter (pg 63):
*using one's resources (home, food, ideas, money) and abilities (as a hostess, cook, Christian) to minister to others in the context of your home --Cherie Land
*making friends or strangers feel welcome and important when they are in your presence--Heather Lanker
*defined by servanthood, striving to do for others, causing them to feel welcomed, wanted and worthwhile.... the ultimate goal of Christian hospitality is furthering the kingdom: in other words, will my behaviors encourage others to know Christ?... --Debby Lennick

1. How was your definition of hospitality re-defined after reading this chapter?
I never thought about how offering a word of encouragement, a quick prayer with a friend, or some friendly conversation in line at the grocery store is a form of hospitality. My own definition of hospitality has always been too narrow in focusing on what happens inside the four walls of my home.
On the other hand, practicing hospitality in one's own home certainly does reveal one's true character. Faced with company, I have the choice to either embrace the opportunity or allow it to overwhelm me and my family. And yes, it is a choice.

2. How can you begin to switch gears from focusing on "entertaining" to truly demonstrating Biblical love?
I think the most important thing is remind myself that Biblical hospitality focuses on the heart, it's intents, and motives. Is my motive to impress and nothing more? Or is my motive to "give" of myself in a way that reveals God's character and love for the world?

3. How can you begin now to start including a variety of "strangers" into your hospitality practices?
This is a tough one for me and one that I'd like to hear your thoughts on. As I mentioned before it can include those chance meetings at the post office, grocery store, picking up kids, picking up mail, etc. Any other ideas?

Join us next week as we tackle chapter 3: Hospitality and Family

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Menu Monday 2/16-2/22

Pumpkin Spice Granola
Yogurt and Fruit
Leftover Gingerbread Waffles

Fancy Salads
Greek Veggie Salad
Lentil Tacos
Wraps with Black Bean Hummus
Carrots and dip
Fruited Jello

Monday: Chicken and Rice Casserole, green salad
Tuesday: Salmon Patties, green salad
Wednesday: Aztec Chicken
Thursday: Stuffed Peppers
Friday: Chicken stirfry
Saturday: Messy Guiessepes
Sunday: Baked Potato Bar

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Link Love

Looking for Chore ideas for your little ones? Check out Chores at Our House and the following comments (@ Mom of Littles).

I have to try this Starbucks Coffee Cake next time I have guests (@ Divine Domesticity).

We have to do these Family Interviews next time we do a family night. What a great addition to our scrapbooks (@ Small Notebook).

Another great Kid's Apron and Hat pattern for those little ones on your gift list (@ Making it Fun).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Frugal Friday

So everyone seems to have Valentine's Day on the brain. Including me...
We're having a game night at our house tomorrow night, sort of a family alternative to the craziness of the restaurants. So I'll make this quick, but these are just a few of the ideas that are whirling around in my head:

Tomorrow's menu:
Breakfast: Pumpkin Pancakes(or regular) cut into heart shapes with cookie cutters and covered in yummy strawberry sauce
Lunch: Grilled cheese sammies cut into heart shapes, maybe with tomato soup, but definately with strawberry jello
Dinner: Spaghetti and snacks with guests

Other food ideas;
heart shaped pizza
heart shaped quesadillas
cranberry juice with seltzer water
other Valentine's foods

Lots of cards, games, and crafts:
DLTK Holidays
Preschool Printables
Feb Preschool Activity Calendar
Adult Valentine Cards
Printable Valentines Cards and Notes
Preschool Valentine's Boxes
Stained Glass Hearts
Free Vintage Valentine Collage Sheet
Sweetheart Valentine's Day Cards

Treasures to be found at the $ store:
Fondue and pound cake
Streamers and balloons

Things to do:
Host a game night
Have a family dinner
Dress up and take our your finest china
Invest in a journal where you and your husband can write it other letters

For more Frugal Friday ideas, check out Biblical Womanhood.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Real Resolutions for Moms: Part Five

If you're just joining us in this series, be sure to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 as well.

"I will erase the words "luck" and "lucky" from my vocabulary and will instead by my speech point my children toward the One orchestrates every detail of our lives and brings all good things to pass, for by this my children will learn of an omniscient God."

This section for me reminds me a lot of what we already talked about in Part 3. I've never been one to toss around the word "lucky" much. Maybe in reference to my son when he's "lucky" he hasn't hurt himself jumping off something. But "luck" has never been something that we've thought about much in our lives. In fact, before reading this, I probably haven't thought about luck in months.

Just for example, we were driving to a friend's house the other day to have a playdate with some gals and their kids. I just had Big Boy with me and we were having a great time chatting away. As I was driving along, I noticed a car up ahead that didn't seem to be paying much attention. I began to wonder if the other driver was going to pull out in front of me. Sure enough, right as I was about next to her, the driver pulled out from another road and almost straight into us. Even after the fact, I don't think she had a clue that we were there.

As Big Boy saw me swerving and fumbling for the horn, he asked afterward what I was doing. It would have so easy to just remark about how lucky we were to have not been hit. But instead, we were able to have a deep conversation about how God was watching over us and kept us safe. We talked about how he loves us and protects us, even in scary situations.

Despite the lengthy conversation and my somewhat frustration over having to keep explaining a concept that was fundamental to me, I was blessed with the opportunity to share with my son that God is interested in the details of our lives. Even something as mundane and routine as a trip to a friend's house.

"Lord, remind me to point you out in the routine moments of life. Remind me to "point you out" to my children in the moments of fear as well as the moments of blessing. May they always see that every good and perfect gift comes from you."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Climbing on the "industrial size" package of toilet paper from Costco.
Who knew it could be so interesting.

For more Wordless Wednesday, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Cheaper Workouts?

So how are those New Year's Resolutions going? If you're like most Americans, you've probably already forgotten about them. After all, that was almost 6 weeks ago. :-)

My big one was to keep loosing those last few pounds. Doesn't that sound familiar? I dropped most of my baby weight after Lydia, but the holidays really did a number on my sugar cravings so I'm back to watching my weight.

While I don't have any great ideas for banishing the sugar fix (especially with Valentine's day just around the corner), I do have an idea for cheaper workouts. My husband was in Walmart a few nights ago and saw one of the Biggest Loser workout videos marked down to $10. Not bad when compared to a gym membership and you're sure to see results if you stick with it. Doubt it? Just tune in every Tuesday and I'm sure you'll be convinced.

That got us thinking. Netflix has instant watch movies and they have a section specifically for workout videos. There are several Jillian Michael's videos, as well as pilates, yoga, and pregnancy videos, just to name a few. There are more than enough to keep your interest, your muscles confused, and help you drop a few pounds in your own home.

What to go even cheaper? Check out Youtube. That's right. We've also found workout videos on there. Look up Bob Harper, Jillian Michaels, Biggest Loser, any workout guru that you'd like to be challenged by. You never know what you're going to find.

As for me, it's back to the workout tomorrow. Back to getting my hinny kicked. Back to, hopefully, seeing a few pounds drop off. Now if you've got any ideas for me how to kick the sugar habit, I'd love to hear them.

What works for you?

Check out more frugal ideas at Biblical Womanhood.

Practicing Hospitality: Chp 1

Lindsey from Passionate Homemaking is hosting our book discussion and provides a great summary of chapter 1 here.

I read this chapter twice throughout the week and got a lot out of it. As Lindsey was saying, I often times find myself wanting to jump to the "meat" of the issue and will neglect the philosphy behind it. But this chapter is essential in preparing my heart and my character to establish a home filled with warmth and sincerity. Just as my actions reflect my heart, I cannot create a hospitable environment without first aligning my heart to the will, and character, of God.

1. What char­ac­ter qual­i­ties do you believe are the most impor­tant to cul­ti­vate in prepar­ing to prac­tice hospitality?
Obviously, the first is humility because if the invitation is not extended, then the meeting will never happen. But let's assume, we're already walking in humility. What character quality then are important in creating a hospitable home?
The two that stick out to me are walking in trustworthiness and integrity. A woman who can be trusted with the deepest of confidences and delivers wise counsel is a friend to be sought after. She is a woman we seek to model our lives after. She hasn't got it all together, but what she does have is rich and valuable. We don't have to worry about her blabbing our darkest indiscretions, or counseling us without wisdom. We can trust her and trust what she says.

2. Which of these are you lack­ing and how can you begin cul­ti­vat­ing it more purposefully?
Led by the Spirit--My own tongue gets in the way some times. Not that what I have to say is unwise, it just isn't always the right time to say it. Too often I allow my own agenda to interfere with the natural flow of conversation. Or jump ahead with my own judgments before allowing the Holy Spirit to move in his own timing. I need to prayfully become more comfortable with silence and model my conversations in such a way that they include more listening than talking.

Instrumental in Producing Righteousness-- I'd like to memorize Philippians 4:8 :"Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellant or praiseworthy- think about such things." By memorizing this Scripture, and training my mind to think on such things, the words that flow from my mouth will be more effective in leading others toward Godly character.

Join us next week as we tackle chapter 2: Hospitality and Strangers.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tackle it Tuesday

I'm so excited about this week's tackle. This is a project that I've been meaning to get to for a long time. And now I'm finally doing it.

I purchased two binders: one for homeschool items, and one for household items. In the homeschool binder, I have the following sections: playtime activities, alphabet activities, and math activities. The playtime activities covers everything from extra coloring sheets to simple science activities to recipes for homemade play-doh. There's ideas for craft activities and preschool recipes. Additionally the alphabet and math sections are filled with extra worksheets as I have time to print them. At this point, they are nothing formally planned, just extra sheets that I come across and print on my own time.

The household binder covers a variety of topics including Big Boy's preschool paperwork, pamphlets from the doctor and dentist, holiday activities and gift ideas broke up by gender and age. I'm always coming across great tutorials for gifts, but have a difficult time relocating them. This way I can keep them sorted and ready.

Hopefully this will keep my random paper piles somewhat organized. In an effort to rid myself of more paper clutter, I'm also going through at least 5 magazines, tearing out what I can file and tossing the rest. I'm an unorganized, clutter-aholic, like most creative types. But it's so exciting to me to be getting organizing, even if it's in a small area of my life.

What are you tackling today?

Book Review--Multiple Blessings

Most of us know the story of the Gosselin family. Within months of marriage, Jon and Kate Gosselin faced the challenges of infertility. Determined to become parents, they seek out the help of a specialist and become pregnant with twins. Three years late, hoping to add a third child to their family, they once again seek out a specialist, and to their surprise, become pregnant with six. Faced with the multiple complications, the couple opts against selective reduction and continues on with the pregnancy.

Struggling through months of bed rest, hospitalization, and neonatal care, the family of ten finally comes homes, only to face more challenges and blessings than they could have ever expected. How do you get six babies to a home over a hour away with a six passanger van? How do you feed them round the clock? How do you give them all the attention they need and deserve when you feel like you're coming apart at the seams?

This family survived all this in addition to deaths of family and friends, loosing jobs, coping with preemie health issues, all the while opening their home to strangers offering the help they so desperately needed.

This is a quick read and even faithful followers of the show will gain new insight into the family. My greatest blessing while reading this book was reading about how the Lord continued to provide for them every step of the way, financially and emotionally. I was challenged by the faith of this family as they stump through parenting two sets of multiples. And I was challenged by their unwavering determination to do the best for their children and follow the Lord in whatever He calls them too.

Pick up a copy today: Multiple Blessings at Amazon

And for more information on this family, check out this video of Kate Gosselin sharing their testimony herself.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Menu Monday 2/9-2/15

The weather has turned cold here again and we're turning toward more comfort food. I find it hard to balance the carbs and the approaching swimsuit season. Scary to think of that when it's only February. But even in Northern California, we get hot weather quickly. Anyways... Valentine's Day is Saturday and instead of going out, we've opted to host a family game night at our house. So I'm "throwing" Spaghetti at the kids and we're munching on finger food. Yum!

Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Leftover Moroccan Lentil soup
Dinner: Potato Soup

Breakfast: Oatmeal and fruit
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Power Up Pasta and Meatballs (from The Disney Magic Kitchen Cookbook)

Breakfast: Gingerbread Waffles
Lunch: Fancy Salad
Dinner: Crockpot Terriyaki Beef and Noodle soup

Breakfast: Fruit and yogurt parafaits
Lunch: Leftovers or salads
Dinner: Lentil Tacos

Breakfast: Pumpkin Spice Granola
Lunch:Greek Veggie Salad
Dinner: Vegetarian Pizza

Breakfast: Pumpkin Pancakes
Lunch: Grilled cheese
Dinner: Spaghetti

Breakfast: Leftover Pancakes
Lunch: Out with Friend
Dinner: Individual Chicken Pot Pies

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
Papaya Ice Cream
No Tahini Black Bean Hummus
Chocolate Mud Pie (from The Disney Magic Kitchen Cookbook)

As for the Pumpkin Soup we made last week, we found it to be rather bland. We're a family who loves dishes that are packed with flavor and this one was lacking. I added nutmeg, cumin, oregano, and garlic powder to punch it up a bit. I also doubled the pepper and more than double the salt. We also served it with parmasen cheese. Next time I'd rather try this Mexican Pumpkin Soup.

To see what others are cooking up this week, check out Organizing Junkie.

Link Love

This Felt Play Mail Set is a great idea for birthday gifts (@ Frugal Family Fun).

If I ever feel adventurous, here's some great homemade shampoo ideas from Frugal Granola.

This Mexican Corn Chowder looks just right for this time of year (@ Chocolate on my Cranium).

Check out these great ideas for a Family Friendly Valentine's Celebration (@ Perfect Party Solutions).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Frugal Friday

Here we are back to our Cheapest Fruits and Vegetables that I posted about last month. Back to on "fresh" in our menu. Some great ideas roaming in my mind include:
Orange Fruit Salad
Broccoli Salad
Beef and Broccoli
Green Papaya Salad
Papaya Creamsicle Smoothie
Papaya Ice Cream
Greek Veggie Salad


These are just a few of the wonderful dishes you can make using these fruits and vegetables in season. So keep those veggies coming and let us know your favorite dishes at this time of year. I'll post more as I try them.

For more Frugal Friday ideas, check out Biblical Womanhood.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Big Boy sharing his snack with Baby Girl.
These are the days that make parenting worthwhile.
Gotta catch them on film.

Preschool Valentine's Boxes

I was thinking the other day that I wanted to do some fun little project with Big Boy for Valentine's Day. He's just started preschool a few weeks ago and won't be there for the party. So he doesn't have much of a concept of what Valentine's Day is. In light of Christmas, Valentine's Day seems to pale in our house, but I thought it might be fun to do a small project that would focus on our love as a family. So this is what we came up with: Valentine's Boxes. Nothing fancy. But a little thrill and it's the messages inside that count. But this is what we've been up to.

These are just a few of the items you'll need to complete this project:
2 paper plates
Tape or stapler
Markers, crayons, paint
Confetti and glitter

Cut one paper plate in half.

This is what you should have.

Here comes the fun part. Pull out all the stickers, markers, crayons, glitter, confetti, and paint you can handle. Anything else you can think of. I just let Baby girl have some stickers and crayons. But Big Boy was very into the project and even added to his sisters later.

After you've colored and decorated your paper plates, put them face together and tape them in several spots. Staples would work even better, but I couldn't find our stapler at the time. Make sure you put them face together, creating a pocket inside.

And here's the final product: covered in confetti, marker, crayons, and stickers. I marked each of them with our names so we wouldn't get our preschool creations mixed up. And we've lined them up on the wall. There's 5 this year: Daddy, Mommy, Noah, Lydia, and our housemate.

Each day until Valentine's Day, we sit down and write down something we wish or hope or love about the other people. Then on Valentine's Day, we'll have a whole box full of good wishes and love. I can't wait to see what Big Boy thinks when he gets to read them. And as we're writing them, it trains him to think of others, good wishes he has for them or special times we've spent together. One of them he wrote to Baby Girl said that he loves dancing with her.

My thought is to write down each one after we open them on Valentine's Day. I'd like to keep the special memories and wishes for us to look back on for years to come.

That's what Works for Me.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tackle it Tuesday


Today's going to be one of those just catch up/getting things done kind of days. This is what we have on our plate:

1. Getting Big Boy off to school and Baby Girl and I off to the gym.

2. Return a movie.

3. Hit an appointment with Baby Girl.

4. Short nap for Baby Girl before picking up Big Boy.

5. Clean the bathroom.

6. Cut kitty nails.

7. Cut kid nails.

8. Finish Valentine Boxes.

9. Find a new verse to memorize with Big Boy.


What are you tackling today?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Menu Monday 2/2-2/8

We're having beautiful weather. The kids are learning to play together. Hubby got a new job. This week is just turning out to be too nice.

So I've loaded this week's menu full of yummy favorites and comfort food. New extras that I still haven't gotten around to trying. Lots of new (hopefully) family favorites.


Breakfast: Toast and Scrambled Eggs
Lunch: Pumpkin Soup
Dinner: Vegetarian Pizza

Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Fancy salad
Dinner: Salmon Patties, Green Salad

Breakfast: Gingerbread Waffles
Lunch: Chicken Noodle Soup
Dinner: Crockpot Moroccan Lentil Soup

Breakfast: Oatmeal and fruit
Lunch: Fancy Salad
Dinner: Potato Soup

Friday and Saturday: At Grandma's

Breakfast: Pumpkin Pancakes
Lunch: Lunch with Friends
Dinner: Crockpot Terriyaki Beef Noodle Soup

Crockpot Peanut Butter Cocoa
Orange Smoothies
Pumpkin Spice Granola
Super Easy Bean Dip

For more menus, check out Organizing Junkie.

Fight FOCA

Fight the FOCA. Get the details at Coordinated Chaos!

Link Love

I'm loving this Heart Felt Scarf by Chica Schmica.

I'll need to make one of these T-Shirt Quilts for my hubby (@ Condo Blues).

I'm looking forward to making these Sweet Potato Fries (@ Heart for Home).

I can't wait to make these Felt Food Cookies when my daughter gets older (@ That's Just Freaking Lovely).

Finally, get the facts about FOCA (@Coordinated Chaos).
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