Friday, January 30, 2009
I wasn't feeling very well yesterday so I wasn't able to take Keaton anywhere fun. I was pretty bummed because I really wanted to take him to the Children's Museum, but considering my youngest is finally starting to get over whatever she had last week, I thought that would have been a bad idea all around. Of course, Keaton didn't know any different! He enjoyed the day with his sisters, as he always does, and had a fun time out in the snow with Daddy when he got home. They built their second snowman yesterday and did a little bit of sledding on the hill in our backyard. There sure is something nice about having your own hill. I remember dragging our sleds/tubes into the car, to the hill, and then back in the car (wet with snow!) when I was a kid. Our kids just don't know how good they have it. Access to a hill every day? I mean, seriously! But back to the topic at hand....
After sledding and snowman-making, we ordered some pizza, he opened his present, and we ate cake. It was a nice, simple evening with the family. When we got upstairs, we surprised him with his very own bedroom. (All three kids have been sharing for...forever.) His bed is not quite completed yet (ok, so it's barely started), but he was excited to have the new "futon bed" which someone from church gave us. It will eventually be the extra bed/couch in his room, but for now, it's his BED bed. :)
The day was nice and Keaton was very grateful for his pizza, his cake, and his new shoes, but my favorite part of the day was when Keaton opened his card from his great-grandparents. They are so sweet and never fail to send each child a $20 bill for each of their birthdays. Until this year, we've always just set the money aside and used for something he needed, but this year, since Keaton is learning more about money now, I thought it would be fun to just let him open it and then later we would take him to the store to buy whatever he'd like. I've been thinking about starting an commission-based allowance with him anyway and teaching him how to save, give, and spend his money, but I haven't gotten around to doing that yet. The main reason is because when we get to church each Sunday, he and Sienna beg for money to put into the little jar in the Sunday School area and I just don't think it teaches them anything for us to hand them nickles and dimes each week.
He opened the envelope and we read the front of the card. When we opened it and he spotted the money, he immediately exclaimed, "MONEY!" as any small child would. But my eyes nearly welled with tears upon his next exclamation. "Hey, maybe I could put this in the thing at church next time!" he said with a huge grin on his face.
I can't even begin to tell you how thankful I am that my son has such a giving heart. He never thought for a moment about what he might buy with the money. He just wanted to bring it to church and put it in the little Sunday School jar to share with others.
Gratefulness is something that is seriously lacking in our culture, and giving is something that is lacking even more. I realize our economy is not at its peak right now, but that doesn't mean that we should cut out either or these things from our lives.
As I was writing this post, I just thought that I may do a series on teaching your children how to manage money. I already have a pretty good idea of what I plan to write, but I always appreciate the wisdom of those who have been parents longer than me. :) So, since I'm thinking of it, please leave any comments or suggestions you may have on that topic in the comments section below.
And finally, you're wondering where the pictures are, aren't you? Well, here you go. A simple birthday for a very grateful boy!
I am not the photographer that Heidi is, but I thought I would post a picture I took this week of our fabulous snow. This picture is of my 3-year-old son working feverishly to get us out from under our huge snow storm. He really does look like he is working hard.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
This topic keeps coming up at me lately. I will probably only have three children, but my co-blogger will probably have many, many more. I have said before that I am fascinated by families who have lots and lots of children and take good care of them. You may have heard of the Duggars who have a show on TLC. They have 18 children (and counting). They have a very good book that it a very interesting read. You may have heard of Jon and Kate plus 8 also on TLC - they have 8 children under the age of 8 I believe. You may have heard of a woman in California today that just birthed a set of octuplets - that is right people 8 children at once.
Large families keep coming up in the news. Like I said I feel we can all learn a lot from large families whether or not we have 2 children or 12 children. I just wanted to make a list of things they have in common that we could try to do.
1. Be organized. I know that Michelle Duggar has admitted that she was not always organized but had to get organized by necessity. If you have watched Kate at all she may be a little too organized. The key is if you have a plan whether or not you always follow it, your day will go much smoother. Have a menu plan, have a daily schedule, make a cleaning schedule - these things will help your household run more smoothing and might just help you keep your sanity.
2. Prioritize. Keep your priorities in line - God (for Christians), Husband, children, house and the rest of the things you must do aren't really MUST DO, they are optional.
3. Study and Research. You need to read and study ideas about discipline and parenting. It kills me how people just have children and then come home and expect everything to fall into place. Take advice from people who are older than you and who have been successful at raising their own children. Read the Bible. Read some non-fiction books by authors you trust on parenting.
4. Lowering your debt. Having children is stressful enough so do your best to lower your debt. The Duggars have been debt free for many years and they save up to pay cash for things. You may have seen their really nice 7,000 square foot house. Well, they lived in that house a whole year without air conditioning even through a hot Arkansas summer until they saved up enough money to pay cash to buy an air conditioner that would cool that huge house. Sometimes we can do without for a little longer to have that freedom and peace of mind.
5. Staying at home. Sometimes staying at home and investing time with your children is the best thing you can do for them. When you are less stressed you can give more of yourself to your children. You are more creative and you spend less money!
I know there are so many more things we can learn from large families. Just remember on the days that you are about to tear your hair out, if Michelle Duggar can do it with 18, I can surely make it with 3 (or 4 or 5). How many of you have a large family? Do you have any tips to share?
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Eggs and bacon and fruit
Pumpkin pancakes and bananas
Smoothies and toast
Almond Coconut granola (as cereal - see recipe link below)
Soup in a can (need to use up some of them)
PB & J and applesauce
Baked potatoes and fruit
Grilled cheese and peaches
Beans and Cornbread (and fried potatoes) - we will try to eat a salad as well
Calzones and salad and fruit cocktail
Vegetable soup probably done in my new crock pot (thanks Kelly!)
Fettuccine Alfredo and green beans (I have so many in my freezer, although I prefer canned)
Homemade Pizza (shocking isn't it?)
I discovered I have quite a few blueberries so I think I will make:
Blueberry Crumb muffins
Almond Coconut granola (I already made it yesterday and we LOVE it!)
Friday, January 23, 2009
As I lay in bed, I thought of all the things I needed to get done. Yesterday. I figured I might as well get up and out of bed since there was no getting back to sleep for me today.
I drug myself to my laptop and finished up a draft email to a client. When I finished, I noticed a short email from my husband: "I have some exciting news. Call me when you get this."
Well, it was pretty easy to rule out pregnancy or marriage. So my interest was peaked. I called him. When he got on the line, he informed me that his Sunday night shift at FedEx was being done away with and that he would no longer be gone all night each Sunday. If there hadn't been a small child on my lap by this time, I could have leaped for joy. My husband has been working the Sunday night shift for YEARS and it has made Sundays my absolute LEAST favorite day of the week. But now - ah yes, the sweet phrase "but now" - perhaps we will be able to enjoy normal Sunday afternoon and evening activities.
I probably sounded like I was completely uninterested in what he had to say because, hey, I just got up! But Honey, if you're reading this (which you're most definitely not), I am excited. Very excited. And very thankful to the Lord for allowing our family to once again function normally on Sundays.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Today's Daily Dose is ONE YEAR OLD today! I'd like to thank all of you, my loyal readers, and even those of you who may be stopping by for the first time for leaving comments, suggestions, questions, etc! I am amazed that in only 12 short months this blog has received over 120,000 hits!
It's all you, people!
In honor of my blog birthday, I am giving away a copy of a book that has been instrumental in our family!
To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is leave a comment (with a valid email address) and why you think you would benefit from this book. Since it's the blog's birthday month, the giveaway will remain open until January 31st at midnight. The winner will be announced on February 1st, 2009!
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
2 Eggs, beaten
1 pkg Cottage Cheese (15 oz)
1 t Italian seasoning
¾ c Parmesan cheese, grated
1 t Garlic salt
½ c Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 T Parsley flakes
1 t Minced onion
½ t Salt
¼ t Pepper
8 Manicotti shells
1 c Mozzarella cheese
1 jar Spaghetti sauce
Mix Italian seasoning, garlic salt and the spaghetti sauce and set aside. Cook 8 manicotti shells and drain. Combine the first 10 ingredients in a bowl and then stuff each shell with some of the filling. Take a glass dish and spread half of the sauce in bottom and put stuffed manicotti in a row and then top with the rest of the sauce. Cook for 13-16 minutes in the microwave. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese at the end of the cooking time.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I got a head start this month, since our monthly freezer cooking club just met on Thursday. There are usually 6 of us who make a meal for each other, meet once a month and exchange those meals. They come in so handy on evenings when you forgot to thaw the meat, your day didn't go as planned and you didn't have time to start dinner, or you just don't feel like cooking.
I decided on Wednesday that I was going to make this happen. Sure, maybe I wouldn't cook for an ENTIRE month's meals, but I wanted to give it a try for at least a few weeks. I also decided that I wanted to include some breakfast and lunch options rather than only dinners and, with only a small freezer, I knew I would have to be somewhat selective.
I hit the ground running. On Thursday, I made soup for dinner. I doubled the batch and froze half. On Friday, we had company (despite our temporary power outage early in the day) for dinner. I made an 18-lb turkey that I had gotten on sale around Thanksgiving. Obviously, even with dinner guests, that left us with quite a chunk of meat. Saturday I cooked, baked, prepared, and froze most of the day, so we ordered pizza for dinner. And today my husband helped me with some baking while I did some more cooking and freezing.
All in all, I'd say we were VERY productive this weekend, especially considering the fact that my husband had to work almost a full day on Saturday. Oh, and also the fact that we have 3 small children running around the house! :)
Here's our running total of what's in the freezer:
6 servings of alfredo sauce
2 dozen English muffin pizzas
6 servings of turkey soup (I boiled down the bones to get the broth and then added turkey, carrots, celery and onion - we'll add the noodles when we reheat it.)
2 dozen waffles
2 dozen pancakes
4 dozen pumpkin muffins
2 chicken pot pies
2 small roasts
5 pkgs chicken nuggets (yes, i cheated and bought those at the store)
5 meals from cooking club (3 soups, 1 chicken dish, and 1 casserole)
1 lb bacon, cooked and chopped for calzones
It was such a shame we had to finish off the ice cream to make room for all of that. :) Now, on my list of things to make in the next day or two:
2 dozen biscuits
1 loaf french toast (By this, I mean a loaf of store-bought bread, turned into french toast and then frozen)
1 dozen+ calzones (stuffed with peppers, bacon, pepperoni, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses! yummm!)
2 dozen oatmeal chocolate chip breakfast cookies
And with all that going on, I still planned a dinner menu for this week! Yes, I know! Amazing!
Monday - out to eat (anyone want to join us at Logan's?) :)
Tuesday - turkey soup
Wednesday - cheeseburgers, roasted potatoes, frozen veggies
Thursday - spaghetti w/ red sauce, garlic toast
Friday - meatloaf, mashed potatoes, carrots
Whew! I'm completely exhausted and am heading to bed! I have quite the list of things to do tomorrow morning when I wake up, so I better get a good night's sleep!
Saturday, January 17, 2009
For updates and to hear each of their birth stories, please visit their mommy's blogs:
Kelly - mommy to Harper
Jenna - mommy to Brayden
Friday, January 16, 2009
Anyone who thinks the Lord is some prude, sitting up in heaven and staring down upon his creation in nothing but seriousness....really has it all wrong.
I just mentioned yesterday that I was SO thankful for our nice, warm house during these cold temperatures. I talked about how I didn't want to take these things for granted and how I didn't want my kids to take them for granted either. Well.....
This morning I woke up to the sound of NOTHING happening. We always keep our fan running along with our heat so there is always some sort of white noise in our home. Therefore, it's immediately obvious when our electricity goes out as there is a sudden lack of said noise. At 6.54am on the coldest day so far this year in Indiana, our power went out. Awesome.
Sometimes our power flickers and occasionally goes off for 5-10 minutes at a time, but once 15 minutes was reached and the inevitable cold temps started to sink in to my thoughts, I figured this time it was a more permanent outage.
We stuck it out for a few hours upstairs with some candles and our cold breakfast but when the downstairs finally reached 50 degrees, we caved and went to spend the morning with some friends across town. (Thanks, Rachel!) We got home at 2.15pm and our kitchen clock was flashing 1:07. Apparently we didn't stay out quite long enough because our house was still a fairly chilly 62 degrees. But regardless, I am so happy that our power has been turned back on!
And, just like I had hoped for yesterday, I did get a chance to explain to my children that some people don't have electricity at ALL and that some people don't even have a house to live in. I'm not sure that they really understood, just judging from the glazed looks on their little faces, but I still pulled my share and explained to them that we should be so thankful that we DO have those things.
The moral of the story: Be careful what you wish for. :)
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Do I like freezing cold temps like this? Ehhh, not particularly. But I figure if there's going to be snow on the ground, it might as well be cold. And if it's going to be cold, there might as well be snow on the ground. And at least we have both right now.
This week I am exceptionally thankful for our warm house. I know there are people living on the streets downtown, across the country, and especially internationally who do not have a place to warm up. There are people who do not get to have a hot cup of coffee in the morning to warm their insides or a space heater to warm their sock-dubbed feet.
I hope I raise my children to understand that we are SO blessed here in America and that we should never take these things for granted.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup cornstarch, plus
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- oil (for frying)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic *I just used garlic salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind *I omitted this because I did not have any.
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce *I definitely did not have this, but I used: 1 t peanut butter, 1/4 c. soy sauce, 1/4 c. molasses
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- salt and pepper
Cut chicken into 2-inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Stir in egg, salt, pepper and oil. Mix well and set aside.
Stir cornstarch and flour together in another large bowl and mix well. Add chicken mixture to the flour mixture, stirring to coat each piece well.
Pour enough oil to be at least 1/2-inch deep in a wok or heavy skillet and set over high heat. When it reaches 375 degrees F (hot!) carefully add chicken pieces in small batches and fry 3 to 4 minutes or until golden and crisp. Do not overcook or chicken will be tough. Remove chicken from oil with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Continue frying chicken in small batches until all are nicely browned and crisp.
Set aside while you make the glaze:.
1 teaspoon minced garlic.
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind.
1 cup orange juice.
1/2 cup hoisin sauce.
Dash cayenne pepper.
1/4 cup granulated sugar.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Cool the oil in the skillet slightly, then remove all but 2 tablespoons of oil and set over medium heat. Sauté garlic in oil for 1 minute (if the oil is too hot the garlic will turn bitter). Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Allow to boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens to your liking, stirring frequently.
Pour glaze over chicken. Serve chicken over a bed of cooked white rice. Garnish with slivered almonds and crispy noodles. Applebee's tosses the chicken and orange glaze with an array of stir-fry vegetables like broccoli, snow peas and red peppers.
My glaze never completely thickened but it did turn out pretty yummy.
You can see more kitchen tips at Tammy's Recipes.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
The winners of the Krispy Kreme giveaway are:
1) Angela (angela.barker@)
2) Kelly (ecupakelly@)
Angela and Kelly, I've emailed you details. If for some reason you did NOT receive my email, please leave a comment at the end of this post and I will resend it.
Thanks to everyone who participated!
*Random numbers generated by Random.org.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Thursday, January 8, 2009
As I blogged a few weeks ago, we JUST became DEBT FREE last month!!!!!! We are SO excited to actually own our van and have our schooling paid for! But now comes the hard part: staying motivated.
However, in order to do that, I've joined Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class at one of the local churches in town. I've been wanting to go to a FPU class since we first heard about Dave Ramsey, but we never really got around to it. Due to my husband's sleep/work schedule, I'm the only one attending, but hey - one is better than none, right?
Last night was our first class. We have 12 weeks to follow and I'm very excited to see the progress the class (and our family) will make in these next 12 weeks! I know I've talked about Dave Ramsey PLENTY on this blog, but in case you're a newbie or haven't been paying attention, I'll go over his baby steps to become and stay debt-free:
1. $1000 Emergency Fund in the bank
2. Pay off all debt using the debt snowball.
3. 3-6 Emergency Fund in the bank
4. Invest 15% into retirement funding.
5. Plan and save for kids' college.
6. Pay off mortgage early.
7. Build wealth and GIVE!
Right now, we've just completed Baby Step 2 and are working on BS3. HOWEVER....
We also wanted to reward ourselves for all of our hard work (literally), so we're going on our first ever vacation in June! I'm SOOOO beyond excited about this as we have been married over 5 years now and have never gone on vacation. We are not - I repeat, NOT - taking our children, so it should be a fun trip for the two of us. Our destination has been chosen, but it's a surprise to my husband. And even though he never reads my blog, I'm going to keep it a surprise from you too.....just in case. :)
Since we've never been on vacation before (and haven't been to this location before), we weren't really sure what to plan for the amount of money we should spend. We don't want to be unwise and go overboard, but we also don't want to be saying, "Oh, well that's $15/person. Maybe we should skip that one," just because we didn't plan well enough. I think we've settled on a reasonable amount that should work out just fine. And if all else fails, we've got our credit cards. JUST KIDDING, DAVE RAMSEY FANS! We will NOT be paying for our vacation with CREDIT CARDS.
Our goals for this year were somewhat hard to calculate since I recently started a business and have no idea what sort of income to expect from that this year. Nevertheless, we don't believe in living without goals, so we made some anyway. We'll see how things go. These goals are not necessarily in order, but somewhat:
Goal #1: Pay CASH for our 5-day vacation to *SURPRISE*! :)
Goal #2: Fully fund our 6 month emergency fund and put into a money market account to be left UNTOUCHED unless there is an actual emergency.
Goal #3: Save for my husband to get a new (that means "used") car.
Goal #4: Raise retirement contributions to 12% (with a 4% match).
Goal #5: Open a money market account for each of our children.
Goal #6: Begin paying extra principal on our mortgage.
I am excited to see where 2009 takes us financially! And if you want check out Dave Ramsey, you will NOT regret it! :)
For more "Get Your Finances In Line In 2009" posts, check out the Mr. Linky at the bottom of Crystal's post.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Now, let me just tell you. Trying to explain to an almost-four-year-old who has had no experience in formal language whatsoever what nouns, adjectives, and verbs are is quite a task! Nevertheless I took it upon myself to let him do the entire thing all by himself.
So here it is, in all its glory! My almost-four-year-old's madlib from Steak N Shake:
(Since for some reason, there is no underlining option in Blogger, his fill-in-the-blank words appear in BOLD.)
A YUMMY well-dressed lady with a giant PICKLE on her head came GO-ing into Steak n Shake. "Hello, all you wonderful CRAYONs, I'm here to present the Award for the City's Best BOY." She opened a SPATULA, took out a DOT, and handed it to a CIRCULAR server. "Here's your trophy. Congratulations," she said, applauding and excitedly COUNT-ing. Then she went back outside, got in her FOOD and left.
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen! A madlib by a toddler!
Oh, and one more thing. I'd just like to point about that apparently whoever WROTE this madlib has also had no formal language training. Did you see it too? The comma where there should have been a period. Seriously. What has the world come to?
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Who loves Krispy Kreme donuts??? I have 2 dozen coupons for "1 Free Donut" good through January 31st! Therefore, two of you can win ONE DOZEN FREE KRISPY KREME DONUTS!
Just leave a comment w/ a valid email address and you'll be entered! Contest will end this Friday, January 9th at NOON. Winners will be announced by Saturday morning!
Here are a few projects we got done:
1. Put away all bulky baby toys and accessories.
We put our swing, bouncer seat, playmats, infant carseat, walker, and all other bulky baby items up in our attic. Since our youngest is now 15 months old and I'm not currently pregnant, we figured we might as well free up some space for at least the next 9 months. :)
2. Put some of the garage "stuff" to good use.
For some reason, I have a desire to pick up items from our neighbor's trash cans that I happen to think is a perfectly good piece of....whatever it is. For example, we have three twin-size headboards in our garage right now. Just because I liked them and thought I could use them for my business (which I still plan on doing, btw!). But regardless, these sorts of things take us space. This next item is something I pulled from the trash can a few months ago. I have another plan for it, but for now I put it to use in our master bathroom.
You'll see how I used some of my basket collection in point #3.
3. Clean out master bedroom closet and set up home office for my business.
If you remember my post about my youngest daughter's bedroom, you'll remember that our closets in this house are ridiculously spacious and therefore make a great place for a home office. Also making it a great place for STUFF. Here's all the STUFF we pulled out of our closet (minus the obvious pieces of furniture that belong in our bedroom):
We sorted through clothes and junk, threw away a bag of crap, gathered a bag of giveaway clothing, and put the rest neatly back into half of our closet. Here is what we still need to find a home for. Not bad if you ask me!
The other half of the closet is now my office. Somehow we wound up with three desks in our house, so we figured we might as well put them to good use. One of them is used for our PC, the other is a junk pileup (literally), and the third is now my office desk. My husband wired some electrical outlets into each of our closets while the kids and I were out of town last month so I would have a place to plug in my laptop and other things. We're considering adding a phone line to the office closet too, but that's on our list of things to do. Here is my new office!
Here's my new datebook! I'm so excited to be more organized this year!
And finally, here are the baskets I used to organize. These hang above my desk. One holds pens, one holds cords and wires, and one holds *gulp* stuff. :)
4. Clean off master bathroom counter.
I admit it. It's a pigsty most of the time. With a 5-foot countertop and only one sink, it's a pretty easy place to collect junk. Which is exactly what tends to happen there. I hate it, but it seems inevitable that it will only happen again, so I hesitate to clean it off. A few weeks ago, I decided I would gather up all of our household medicines. I realize that if we had a medicine cabinet this would be no chore at all, but we do not. As I began picking up Tylenol, allergy medicine and old prescriptions off the counter, I realized that was the bulk of what was there. Random medicines. So I put all of those into a bag and stuck them in our closet (yes, out of reach of the children). After that, the counter was really pretty easy. Just a few things that needed to find their home and I was done. Isn't it lovely?
Sure, most of you probably have a countertop that looks like this ALL the time, but for those of us who don't, this sure is a pretty sight. :)
5. Organize kids' "kitchen items".
We have kids' items in our home that are only used at the table, usually under adult supervision. These include: games, coloring books, puzzles, and playdough. Since these items are used in the kitchen, I had simply placed them on top of the fridge for easy access. However, as our stockpile keeps growing, I knew I had to find a better solution. I picked up this drawer stacker for free at a garage sale this past summer and thought this was the perfect solution to our top-of-the-fridge problem:
Ok, I think that's all the projects we tackled last week. Have you tackled any household projects lately?
2 lbs. frozen hash browns (she uses the shredded ones)
16 oz. French Onion dip or sour cream
1 stick margarine (or butter), melted
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 c. shredded cheese
Crushed potato chips
Place frozen hash brown in large bowl. Combine soup, dip, and melted butter; pour over hash browns and mix well. Add cheese and fold together. Pour into a casserole dish and bake at 340 for an hour or until center bubbles. Sprinkle potato chips over top and bake 5 minutes more.
Mom's note (from my mother-in-law) - This is an extremely forgiving recipe. When I'm feeling lazy I just cut the margarine in chunks and don't melt it. You can also use any type of cream soup if you don't have cream of chicken.
Healthier note - my grandmother-in-law also makes this. She uses plain non-fat yogurt instead of sour cream and she also makes her own cream of soup to be a bit healthier. She also uses corn flakes smashed up instead of the potato chips.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Oh, and psst!....there's going to be a giveaway coming up soon too, so be sure to check back for that!