"Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic. But will they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the path of destruction"-Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Resolutions...

Oh yes...it's THAT time again. I HATE New Year's Resolutions..because I, without fail, break them. So this year, I'm giving myself ONE, ONE single resolution. I do have other goals for the year, but this is a true resolution to change a behavior that I do not like in myself.

Here it is:

I resolve to stop saying NO to my daughter when she asks me to play or pick her up. I KNOW she asks me at the most inconvenient times. I KNOW that she just wants my attention when I'm trying to get things done. But I also KNOW that she's already three and I say NO all the time and one day she's going to be much older and she's going to be the one saying NO to me when I want to spend time with her.

So, I resolve to say YES. Yes, I will play with you. Yes, I will hold you. Even if it's just for a minute and then I have to get back to whatever it is that needs to be done. But at least she will have that YES moment...and I'll say it with a smile, instead of a sigh and a grimace.

This resolution I WILL KEEP.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Amazing!

This is an amazing story that hits close to home for our family. On Christmas Eve of this year, a mom and her baby both died and then miraculously revived. What a true Christmas gift!! See the Yahoo! News video here.

Our own Christmas miracle occurred one week before Christmas 2006, thanks to an amazing team of skilled doctors and nurses. Without their quick thinking, calm presence of mind, skilled hands and the medical technology in part made available by research from the March of Dimes, and most importantly, God's Will and Plan for our lives, neither Reagan or I would be here.

Aren't God's miracles absolutely amazing and breathtaking? And aren't the talents that He gives people, like helping to heal the sick and hurt, truly wonderful?

Eat From the Pantry Challenge




I've been in the mood for decluttering and revamping for quite some time. We just have too much STUFF. Or maybe it's the wrong stuff. I don't know. But I've been feeling the need for change. I just feel CLUTTERED all the time. And one of our worst "CLUTTERED" areas is food storage.

I know I've blogged about (or maybe I haven't?? Who knows!?!?) the importance of having emergency food storage. And that not only includes food, but other household items as well--water, toothpaste, etc. And not only for emergency purposes, but for the simple economy of it--when you have food stored, you can buy only things that are on sale, stock them and shop from your own "stores" of food when you need to make a meal.

We've done fairly well. I'm sure we could live for quite some time off of what we have. But I know some of that food needs to be cleared out to make way for fresher food. So I've decided to join Money Saving Mom and FishMama's Eat From the Pantry Challenge for the month of January. You can read more about it here and here.

Here are the rules I've set for our family:

1. Shop weekly to take advantage of fresh produce and milk and any "free" items. (Basically I'll be purchasing milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables, and household items as needed (our grocery budget includes household items) such as toilet paper, cat food and cat litter).
2. Budget is $20/week or $100 for the month, which is a SIGNIFICANT decrease in grocery spending.
3. Savings for the month gets split directly between emergency savings and dream home fund savings.
4. By end of challenge have a list of remaining food on hand so I know exactly what we have and can plan to use it effectively in the future.
5. Forgot to add this--absolutely no eating out fast food!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My "What THE Heck?" Moment...

So does Pottery Barn REALLY expect people to pay $39 for THESE when you can buy burlap fabric and jute and fix up three baskets yourself for under $7!?!?!?!?

Unbelievable!!!!!!!

OH WAIT....you have to pay for the jute rope they're using seperately....wow. Just wow.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas stuff is almost put away...

WOW. I can't believe I've already taken down the Christmas decorations..what is wrong with me this year??? To tell you the truth, I've been longing for a clean slate...a fresh start...and that includes decluttering. I swear, if it were spring, I think I would have emptied the entire house out..but as it is, well there's snow everywhere and it's sooo cold....sigh...why can't it snow for Christmas and then STOP?

ETA: Maybe I'm just longing to put Christmas behind us this year after the atrocity that occurred in the White House this year....is Obama just TRYING to piss us all off? Really....???? I'm beyond anger at this point. I'm at the point where I just feel sick all the time and completely scared out of my whits at what will become of my child and her future in this country. If you voted for Obama, I hope you're feeling really proud right this moment (heavy sarcasm intended!) Link here.

Cookbook Giveaway: Dollars to Donuts

Mindi over at Moms Need to Know is giving away a copy of the cookbook "Dollars to Donuts: Comfort Food and Kitchen Wisdom from Route 66's Landmark Rock Cafe". Hurry over by 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 2, 2010 to leave a comment for your chance to get your own copy.

I swear I'm drooling over some of the recipes featured in the book. You can read more about it on her site, link above, and here at amazon.

Seriously, people: Bread pudding with hot buttered rum sauce?!?! Chicken fried steak with bacon gravy!?!?!?!?!? 10 pounds just went straight to my hips. In the words of one of my new favorite bloggers, SHUT. THE. DOOR. Oh my word. This sounds like a great meat and potatoes kind of cookbook..exactly what my family likes!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Why being a toddler is fun...

and so is staying home with mommy!

Friday, December 25, 2009

What I'll Remember from Christmas 2009

1. That not having your preschooler take a nap is a disaster! And we truly are the Clark Griswold family! (Think trying for that Norman Rockwell moment and ending up with the Griswold one instead!)

2. Reagan playing dinosaurs and saying "..the dinosaurs were watching over their flock by night..."

3. Me finally admitting to Josh that the matching pj pants he was wearing were indeed WOMEN'S pj pants. I wish I'd had a camera to catch his expression. Needless to say I laughed so hard that I nearly pee'd myself, tears were running out of my eyes and I was gagging!

4. Throwing carrot and broccoli pieces out in the snow to look like reindeer had eaten them..only to realize it looked to the passersby that I was throwing chunks at their cars!

5. The oven smoking as I tried to dry the coffee stained note from Santa to Reagan!

6. Drinking Killian's and watching White Christmas with Josh after we FINALLY finished wrapping all the presents!

7. Reagan adamantly stating that baby Jesus canNOT have frosting on His cake because babies don't eat frosting.

8. Watching Reagan's face in absolute amazement as she gazed at the presents, and how she just stood there and didn't touch a single one for quite some time!

9. That Reagan and I were both equally smitten with her Kota dinosaur and we both played with it and cooed over it for HOURS!

10. That Josh apparently thinks I'm trying to give him a heart attack because most of his gifts were food related (OOPS!) but in my defense I gave him a snow blower-shovel too!!

11. That mid afternoon naps are WONDERFUL!

12. That I always go way overboard on gifts for Reagan and Josh and I need to chill because that's not what the season is about.

13. That I am absolutely teaching Reagan to play games so we have lots of fun activities on Christmas Day!

14. That missing Christmas Eve service just leaves a big hole in my heart...I really need that time to commune with God.

15. That there are STILL wonderful movies that the whole family can enjoy and watch again and again and again and again and.....oy vey.

16. And that I really love all of my family and when I'm away from part of them I feel it--so I need to make more time to focus on family!

All in all, we had a fantastic Christmas and I hope you did too!

Happy Birthday Jesus! Merry CHRISTmas to all!!


Luke 2:1-7

[2:1] In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. [2] (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) [3] And everyone went to his own town to register.

[4] So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. [5] He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. [6] While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, [7] and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Text from Jesuswalk.com

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve!

From our house to yours...Merry Christmas!

And here's a little laugh for you...Reagan and I were building a block pen for her dinosaurs and as I was texting a Merry Christmas to my best friend (and sister!) in the whole world, Stacy (which by the way didn't go through :( ), I heard Reagan moving around some blocks and whispering "...and the dinosaurs were watching thier flocks by night...."

And that folks, is just one of the reasons why Christmas with a little one is so special!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NOT good...

Our playdates canceled today because four of the five children are throwing up......this does not bode well since we all were together on Monday....eeek.
I'm just not sure she has enough sprinkles....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Craft Ideas for the Little Ones

Despite the fact that Reagan has an icky cold and I'm still hacking up a lung, we're going to our Moms Group's craft time tomorrow (mostly because I put together the craft projects and need to be there to set them up!) I thought I'd share the ideas with you because they're relatively simple, and a great way to share some together time with the kids!

Christmas Tree Cardboard Cut-Outs
This craft idea came from another mom and you can actually use this idea for so many different things--spiderwebs, pizzas, etc.

1. Cut out a Christmas tree shape from cardboard. (Take my advice on this--use THIN cardboard...as in cereal box or cracker box thin.) Make small slashes on each side of tree (about four.) Let your child wind ribbon or yarn around the tree for garland and decorate with glitter, stickers, etc.

2. Birthday Candle for Jesus
You'll need an empty toilet paper roll, construction paper, (optional: crepe paper) and tape. Cut the construction paper to fit around the toilet paper tube. Tape on and then use construction paper or crepe paper for a flame.

Here is the one Reagan made for me last year. It has a place of honor right with the Waterford Nativity!


3. Baby Jesus in a Manger
You'll need a small copy of a baby wrapped in a blanket, a cup cut from an egg carton, and a cotton ball. Let your child color the picture of Baby Jesus and then have him put the cotton ball in and lay Jesus on top of it. Easy and adorable manger!

4. Christmas Bell
You'll need a paper cup, yarn, scissors, a pencil, a bell (check Dollar Stores for these!), tape, markers, construction paper. Make a hole in the bottom of the cup and attach a small piece of yarn to the bell and thread it through the cup, securing it (with tape if need be.) On a piece of construction paper, write the words "I heard the bells on Christmas Day" or "Every time a bell rings an Angel gets his wings" or another sentiment if you prefer. Let your child decorate and then affix to the cup!

I'm sure others of you have great ideas, feel free to leave them here! I'd love to have some new ones!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Peppermint Fudge Cakes

Reagan loves peppermint. So for her birthday, I knew I had to make these cupcakes when I saw them. They're absolutely delicious, but a word of caution--they'll make 24 GIANT cupcakes, so you may actually want to stretch the batter out to make 24+ regular ones!

This is the photo from the Farm Chick's website. Really, these are a MUST make for Christmas!


ETA: And here is my little one eating her cupcake! (And yes, those are dinosaurs on the table for a centerpiece! :) )

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy 3rd Birthday Little One!

Happy Birthday to our beautiful, amazing little girl! We are so proud of her and so lucky to be in her life. Everday, she shows us a part of the world we never even knew existed. We love you so much Reagan! Happy Birthday! Love, Mommy and Daddy

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My baby is three tomorrow...

I was so excited earlier...in fact I've even typed out tomorrow's post already since we'll be gone all day tomorrow..but now I feel kind of sick. My baby....my tiny, red faced, strong willed baby...will be three tomorrow. Ok, I'm obviously reminiscing a little here....bear with me....

****THE PICTURES ARE A LITTLE BIG...TO SEE THE FULL PICTURE, PLEASE CLICK AND IT SHOULD OPEN A NEW TAB FOR YOU TO VIEW IT IN IT'S ENTIRETY!***

Reagan's very first baby picture ;)


Finally at home!


The first time I got to hold her..she was a day old :(


A 3 a.m. changing! Notice how tiny her legs were, she was itty bitty!




The cats were feeling a little left out....



Grandpa can always make Reagan laugh!


Reagan's first trip on the boat!


Who? Me?? I'm not doing anything? I swear!


A patriot at heart!


Playing peekaboo with Mommy and Grandma!


Just another day lovin' on the cats!


Reagan and her very first "BABY"!


Reagan and Frosty---poor Frosty was dragged along behind Reagan all Christmas!


Reagan's first snow day!


I'm a real wild child!


Reagan discovering nature!


Ice cream goooooooood!!!


Where's Reagan!?!?


Yeah, we lost her again!


Now THIS is relaxed!!


Craft time (or should we say mess time!?)


Reagan-Thanksgiving 2008


Mommy, here's a leaf for you!


Look Mommy, another leaf!


I'm sensing a theme here.....


No! You rock! And you know it!!


I said no pictures and no comment!! Paparrazzi!!!


Only Reagan can get Grandpa to wear wings!


What kid chooses broccoli over pizza!?!?


These candy canes taste like candy canes! (get it??)


And this picture just says it all!!!


ROAR!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wouldn't it figure??

A few days ago I decided to make pumpkin bread. You know, from all that pumpkin puree I made here. After spending several days fretting over the fact that I had no cloves in the house to use in the recipe, and convincing myself I really didn't need to run out and buy them (because I don't really like them anyway and hardly ever use them), we made the pumpkin bread today. FOUR hours people...FOUR hours...and eight HUGE loaves and three smallish ones later, I was putting away all the ingredients and discovered...yep..you guessed it..my small container of cloves! Sigh...I am not nearly as organized as I thought I was.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

So Proud of my Little One!

Today Reagan and I struck out in the cold to do some last minute Christmas shopping (and buy mommy and Reagan some much needed thicker socks!!!) Reagan had wanted to buy daddy and the cats and her grandparent's dogs (Ginger and BG) some presents..oh and I got one too..lol..ok I did mention myself...geez, moms are so taken for granted!

Anyhow, she asked to take her purse and I stuck a $20 bill in it and told her it was her money to buy HER gifts. I reminded her again that these gifts were not meant for her, but for her to buy OTHER people gifts that she thought they might like. And off we went to the Dollar Store. It took a few attempts to get her in the direction of something Daddy might like (she kept picking up Christmas knick-knacks...so not daddy!) but eventually she was shopping like an old pro.

Not only did she get the cats presents, the dogs presents, mommy a present and daddy a present, but then she proceeded to fill her shopping cart with toys that 'other little boys and girls would like'. How sweet is that?? We only had one major disagreement--over a hat shaped like a parrot head..and I eventually gave in (she wanted this to go in the big toy box for the boys and girls without toys!)

Not one time did she pick up something for herself or ask for something for herself. She placed all the toys into the big Toys for Tots box all by herself and then was ready to leave. On the way to the car, she said "Mommy, I even have money left over
($2!) to put in my piggy bank!"

I AM JUST SO PROUD OF HER!!!! This year we've really been trying to teach her about giving to others and I'm so happy that those lessons and words have paid off!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Day ??: Who are you gifting?

Ok I've lost track of the days, BUT in my defense, this Friday is Reagan's birthday and next Friday is Christmas, so I'm a little panicked! Not to mention I have somehow gotten myself sick with a horrible chest cough, complete with wheezing..I sound like I have a hole in chest. On top of that we've been having major cable problems around here and some HUGE preschool sized temper tantrums...I think someone's been having too much sugar and not enough sleep!

BUT, no matter what, Reagan's birthday will come and go next Friday and shortly after Christmas will follow..so I'm trying to stay calm and get through the next few days of hacking my lungs out until the antibiotics I pilfered from Josh's last unused stash kicks in!

NOW, onto today's topic. I'm preparing a few last minute Christmas gifts for the office, Josh's office, the library (the Children's department is phenomenal and they do so much for the community in general!) and our families. There's really nothing much to the gifts--a bottle of lotion here, a notebook there, some cookies or bread--but I've learned, it's more the thought that counts, than the actual gifts (or even the quality of the cookies!)

There are so many people that make our day to day life so much easier, better, richer. Without these people our lives wouldn't be the same, and yet we take them for granted. Christmas is the time of year to say "hey, I'm thinking of you and I love you and I want you to know that your presence in my life is a true gift that I treasure year round."

The last couple of years I've given cookie platters and updated photos to Reagan's doctors and my OB--just to say, hey I'm thinking about you and I appreciate you in our lives, you make them so much better. Last year I dropped off a cookie platter to our local Kroger pharmacy because they are ALWAYS there for us...Reagan has been on tons of medication her entire life and whenever I'm feeling a little harried or upset and worried, a quick talk with the pharmist or the technicians can make me feel so much better. They were absolutely beside themselves that someone had thought to bring them cookies---no one had ever done that for them before...and yet those are just a few of the people that make our lives so much more the better.

I know it seems like there are tons of people to think about around Christmas, but with a little preparation and planning, you really can tell everyone how much you care about them. And remember, it doesn't take much...some cookies, some pumpkin bread, a bottle of lotion from last year's clearance rack (they keep well!) with a pretty ribbon and a simple "Merry Christmas!" can make all the difference!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 12: Best Cookies EVER!!

We started the beginning of our massive Christmas baking today and I had to share this cookie recipe:

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Add-ins that we use: walnuts and unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 375. Grease cookie sheets.

In medium bowl, cream margarine, white and brown sugars until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder and mix well into the sugar mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and add-ins if desired.

Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and place one inch apart onto cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 (I err on the shorter side) in preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 4 minutes before moving to platter or rack to cool completely.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 14: Traditions

One of my favorite things about Christmas is the traditions that my family shares. Growing up I didn't really think about what things were traditions, but once I was away from my family, there were obviously quite a few traditions I had grown to expect and love.

We always, always, always got underwear and socks for Christmas. Without fail. And we ALWAYS had dinner at Granny's house...with cornbread dressing, deviled eggs and green bean casserole...and most importantly, lemon pie. NOTHING in our family was truly celebrated unless there was a lemon pie. And inevitably, Pawpaw and I would fight over the last piece. And...just as inevitably, Granny would bring out another lemon pie that she had hidden deep in the freezer away from Pawpaw's hunting eyes. God Bless Granny :) We always had stockings filled with fruit and nuts---and at least one orange that we'd dive into with a candy cane on the side. Honestly, there is nothing like the taste of oranges and peppermint mixed together. I remember being quite surprised that other children received toys in their stockings...didn't everyone grow up with fruit and nuts in theirs??

These are the things I look back on at Christmas and sigh wistfully for. And these are some of the traditions I try to recreate for my family at Christmas now. Lemon pie (even if it's just really for me), dinner with grandparents; and even though my daughter doesn't get underwear and socks, I'll make sure there's an orange and a candy cane in her stocking come Christmas morning.

Find something that means Christmas to you and celebrate it with your family. THESE are the things your children will remember..not what they received, but what they experienced.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

This break in Christmas posts brought to you by...

I've recently found some INCREDIBLE blogs out there and I wanted to share them here.

First up is Patriots in Aprons, which happens to be how I found the other two blogs I'll mention! There aren't a TON of posts on her blog, but I like what she has to say..she's against the welfare state that Obama is trying to build and she fully supports the Constitution..my kind of girl!

Second up is Conservative Black Woman. Frankly, she sounds just as angry as I do about the state our country is in. I haven't read all of her posts (there are a ton!!!) But I have skimmed through and so far, I have to say I absolutely LOVE her!

And finally, Another Black Conservative. This blogger has some great insight and I look forward to reading more of their posts..also love the fact that this blogger doesn't skimp around with the issues...they put it all out there on the table at face value. Refreshing!!!!

I'll be keeping up with these bloggers on google reader and promise to share any of their posts with you that I find especially enlightening!

Day 15: Keep it Simple!

There is so much to stress about around the holidays. My philosophy is why add to it? I try to keep meals very plain and simple, and I try VERY HARD (although I don't always succeed) to keep any changes from occurring around here--no schedule changes, no discipline changes, no rearranging furniture, etc. Pretty much everything can wait til after Christmas.

In that spirit, I wanted to share with you a very un-Christmassy recipe that is soo easy and so good you may want to have it every night in December!

"Wacky-Mac" Spinach

1 box of frozen creamed spinach
6-8 oz of pasta (any shape, size--we like Wacky Mac)

Heat the creamed spinach in the microwave while your pasta boils. Mix together.

Delicious! Now you have time to go caroling, shopping or watch a Christmas movie together!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Skipping Day 16!

I'm a little pooped! It's been an eventful day in our house. First, we had to run to one of the large hospitals in the next town over for Reagan to have an ultrasound on her kidneys. She's been having UTIs recently and we're not sure why as she's never had them before. Her doctor is always very proactive with her health so he wanted to make sure the infection hadn't reached there.

Then we had to run back to our town to get her urine sample done. In the meantime, we rescued a HUGE gorgeous dog from a cornfield, where he was prancing around and covered in burrs, ice and snow. Let me tell you, heaving a 50 lb+ dog into the back of your van while it's snowing and sleeting all over you, all the while hoping you aren't going to get ran over by one of the cars barrelling down the highway, is NOT my idea of a treat.

THEN we had to take him to the nearest shelter, which is in yet ANOTHER town. Afterwards we drove through McDonalds and brought it home. Reagan is curled up on the couch watching a Mickey Christmas special and Josh arrived home a few minutes ago. We're expecting 70 mph winds along with all the wonderful snow and ice, so he thought it prudent to make his 45 minute commute early before it turned into a 2 hour commute.

I'm going to get as much cleaning and cooking done before we lose power (inevitable!). Hope everyone is having a MUCH less eventful day!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Day 17: Know When To Say "NO"

At Christmastime there are TONS of activities to do, parties to attend, events to partake in. And while you might want to do everything, trying to get you and your family to every single event, while more than likely battling bad weather and large crowds, is NOT going to put you in the Christmas spirit.

My advice is to get a calendar and log all the activities that are going on in your neck of the woods. Look at the library's website, the chamber's website, the visitor's bureau website, your mom's groups calendar, your church's calendar and any local parenting guides--these sites should all have updated lists of what's going on around town for the Christmas season.

Then highlight the events you REALLY want to attend. Figure out if it's going to work according to your family's schedule and work from there. Remember, it's better to have one FANTASTIC outing to get the family Christmas tree, than attend three or four parties during bedtime hour and end up with toddler meltdowns!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Say "Thank You" to a Soldier in Iraq

Go here to submit a Thank You card to a soldier currently serving in Iraq. It takes literally a few seconds and you'll be doing a great deed in helping keep up the moral for our troops! God Bless Our Soldiers!

Day 18: Cheap and Easy Deocrations

My house is VERY Americana-country, decorated in tans, barn reds and blues. My trees tend to reflect my decor as well. I think they're lovely, and although they weren't expensive to decorate, each piece means more to me than some of the most expensive jeweled decorations I've seen on show trees.

Here are a few tips to making your own frugal, gorgeous country Christmas decorations:

1. Glass jars! I keep all of my glass jars from spaghetti sauces, mayonnaise, salsa and the like. They are so versatile and I use them all the time..in decorating, in organizing and even in gift giving. Here's an inexpensive Christmas decor item to make using glass jars:

Materials:
Glass jar
raffi or ribbon
greenery
cranberries
floating candle

Fill a clear glass jar with greenery (I use fake greenery because it lasts longer and you can't tell the difference in this project). Add a layer of cranberries and then fill your jar with water. Leave enough room to add a floating candle. Add the candle and tie raffi or ribbon around the lip of the jar. Easy, gorgeous decor!

You'll find a rough idea of the look at this link.

2. Make your own ornaments.

I made these Applesauce-Cinnamon ornaments back in 2003 and the smell JUST faded this year. Reagan and I are making new ones! They are so cheap and easy..especially if you buy the TWO ingredients in bulk!

Applesauce-Cinnamon Ornaments:
Equal portions of applesauce and cinnamon (NOTE: You may have to increase the cinnamon if the dough is too soft)
Straw

Simply mix, roll out the dough and cut out desired shapes with a cookie cutter. Don't forget to punch a hole in the top for hanging on your tree--use a straw for this. If your worried about the ornaments being too crumbly to last, you can always add a little bit of Elmer's white glue.

The ornaments will take 3-4 days to dry. Make sure to let them sit on wax paper so as not to stick. You can tie these to the tree with ribbon, raffi, or what I use--torn pieces of homespun.

Another ornament idea:

Purchase small Styrofoam balls and using hot glue, adhere strips of homespun on to create an adorable ball ornament. Be sure to add a loop using the homespun. If country decor isn't the look you're going for, you can always add fabric of funky colors, covering the whole Styrofoam ball in one piece or even add glitter.

String beads on craft/floral wire to create monograms..or purchase these at the $ Spot from Michael's on clearance for next year!

3. Make your own garland:
I took strips of homespun and tied them together to create chains for my tree. This year at a craft show, I saw a woman that had taken homespun, sprayed them with starch to make them stiff and made a paper chain style garland with the homespun.

4. Be creative! You don't just have to add Christmas-y items to your Christmas tree--add anything you have around the house: antique (or new!) cooking implements, popcorn and cranberries, construction paper chains, apples, cookies, leftover hearts from Valentine's. Cheap bracelets and necklaces even add a jeweled flair.

Remember, the idea behind decorating your home for Christmas is to make it a warm, inviting and welcoming space..to you, your family and your friends. The goal is NOT to have the best show stopping tree in the city. Work on that principle, use what you have and what you makes happy and Christmas decorating should be a (fun!) cinch this year!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Day 19: Make It Homemade

Yes, I shamelessly borrowed Sandra Lee's tag line, but this is a GREAT Christmas tip! Reagan and I love baking cookies and bread to give away as gifts, but Reagan also really enjoys making crafts to give to her grandparents. Her second Christmas, we made hand prints with finger paint and framed them; last year she did paintings which we framed with her current Christmas photo. This year Reagan is making wreaths out of paper plates, bows, stickers and tons of glitter glue. She's quite excited about them and they really are adorable. She already made one for me to display on our window and one for Daddy to take to the office--she can barely wait to give Grandma, Grandpa, Pawpaw, Granny and Pawpaw, and Grandma from Texas the others that she's crafted.

Gifts don't have to be elaborate. Use a talent you have to make gifts this year. Maybe you're great at sewing, maybe you're wonderful at knitting--make blankets or book covers or place mats for your loved ones. Etch glasses with a Christmas motif or monogram, use woodworking skills to create shelves, objects of art and other wonderful items.

Get creative, put some of yourself into your gifts this year. I guarantee those are the gifts that are going to be treasured and remembered long after the gift card to Starbucks is used or that DVD has been watched and left to collect dust in the entertainment center. (And yes, I give those types of gifts, too!)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day 20: A little something for you...

Now that we've talked about helping others, let's talk about taking care of ourselves this Christmas season.

Moms especially are always seeking to find a way to make Christmas bigger, better and brighter for their loved ones. And all of that work can sometimes drag us down and make us feel tired, forgotten and overlooked.

Make sure you do something nice for yourself this year. Whether it be something materialistic like that new mixer you've been wanting or a day off to just curl up with hot cocoa and a book and not have to do anything for anyone.

My own personal treat for myself that I started last year, is not cooking on Christmas. Sacrilege I know! But I decided that I wanted to spend Christmas Day enjoying my daughter and playing with her and her new toys and relaxing and watching movies instead of slaving in the kitchen for hours and completely exhausting myself. Instead I buy lots of party trays and premade appetizers. Yes, it's more expensive in this time when we're trying to save money. But more importantly I save sanity and create some great memories.

So remember to treat yourself this year!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Day 21: Do something for your heart..

This time of year should be a joyous celebration. But for many families, it isn't. With the economy on the downside, heating costs and unemployment up, many families are struggling just to meet day to day demands, much less come up with warm clothing or Christmas presents for their little ones.

It is our duty, if we've been blessed with an overabundance in our lives, to remember to help others througout the year, but especially at Christmas when there is such an increased need. In our community alone right now there are over 1,000 angels that have not been collected from the Angel Trees. Food banks are requesting extra donations from anyone who can spare, and church pantries are running dry. The need is overwhelming and if we really want to experience the true meaning of Christmas, giving back is the way to do it.

I'm going to share a part of my life with you that I have told VERY few. For a long time I was ashamed of it and after I realized it was not my fault, I just saw no point in sharing it with anyone. But the point to sharing this is that even if you don't have a lot of money to share with others, you CAN make a huge difference. Every little thing you do can help someone.

When I was younger my mother divorced my dad and moved us to a small town in rural Texas. The town had less than 500 people and my mother married a man that was abusive and lazy. She did little to protect my brother and I, and we often had no money, barely any clothing or food. I refused to tell my dad (who was lived back at home in Alabama) what was happening. I felt like he would take us away from our mom and that would somehow cause her life to fall apart. My brother and I were abused physically, emotionally and verbally as often as my step-father felt the need...which was quite often. Thanks to my step-granddad we at least had a roof over our heads. Often times however, we would end up eating trash from the dumpsters of the local gas station.

Many times I relied on the kindness of strangers for a meal, for clothing, even for shelter at times. Almost 18 years later I can look back and tell you the names of the people who were gracious enough to reach out to my brother and I and lend a helping hand when we most needed it, and were most afraid to ask.

Please, I urge you, lend a helping hand this season to someone in need. If you're able, donate food to your local food bank, grab a few Angels from the Angel tree, decorate a tree with mittens and hats, donate toys to Toys for Tots. Keep an extra pair of mittens in your car for someone who might need it. Keep an extra bag of food and water in the trunk for someone out on the corner with a sign saying they'll work for food. Open your heart this Christmas season and let Christ work through you. I promise you, someone somewhere will be more thankful than you can ever imagine.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Day 22: Those cards again....

So yesterday we talked about sending out Christmas cards. Even if you cut down on the number you're sending out, you're likely to still send out SOME. And right now is a great time to take advantage of photo card deals. BUT, if you just want to send out some old fashioned greeting cards, but don't want to shell out the money to get new ones, AND you're tired of sending out the same old same old...invite your friends over for a Christmas card swap/card writing party.

Just have them bring their extra cards that they're willing to trade, put out the cards you're willing to trade, make sure you have your address list and card list handy and remind everyone to bring theirs as well! Set out some cookies, hot water for tea and coffee and have fun addressing your cards while getting in some great socialization and relaxation!

Even chores at Christmas can be more fun that regular old chores!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wow!

It is delivery central around here today! Reagan's big birthday and big Christmas gift arrived today from FedEx and not thirty minutes later, my mom's package to Reagan arrived from UPS. Exciting! I'm so glad she took an early nap today so I can make sure the packages have all the pieces they are supposed to have and I'm so thankful I was able to catch the door both times before the doorbell rang!!!!

Day 23: Trimming the List

I know we talked about gifts for playgroups and classmates yesterday, but we all know Christmas isn't about gifts. It's about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. We also all know that we will, in fact, exchange gifts and cards and celebrate in the more materialistic aspects of Christmas because it's part of what makes the season fun. That being said, I've discovered that my own life has been much simpler since I've trimmed my gift and card lists and focused less on that materialistic side.

Don't get me wrong. I still love getting gifts--I love giving them more, ESPECIALLY to my daughter. I love getting her toys and watching how excited she is to play with them (for all of five minutes ;) ) But sometimes I think we buy gifts for people simply because it's expected and because it's what we've always done.

This year I'm shaking up that idea. I've cut my card list down dramatically and my gift list even more so. In the past, I've sent out no less than 100 cards every Christmas...to all sorts of people. People I didn't even talk to anymore, people I really didn't care to talk to anymore. And yet, year after year they remained on my list.

This year I've given myself permission to take those names off the list and not feel guilty. I'm not going to return a card if they send one, because let's face it--they're probably looking for an excuse to take me off their list as well. Why let the vicious cycle continue?

This year I'm sending cards to people who really matter to me, people who I want to say "hey, I'm thinking about you even if I haven't seen you in a while and I want you to know you're important to me." This year my Christmas card list is down to around 30. And I'm hoping next year it gets even smaller.

I'm not a scrooge. I love Christmas. But I'm learning that by taking on what really matters to me, I enjoy this time of year even more and I'm getting to the heart of what Christmas is really all about.

The same applies to my gift list. Since Reagan was born, this has been reduced..til this year it's almost non-existent. A few people are getting checks from us because this year has been hard and we want to share our blessings with others...a few people are getting small token gifts that I knew they'd truly appreciate. Mostly I'm trying to just stop the gift giving cycle. If I see something someone wants, I'm going to get it for them--it doesn't matter if they are giving me a gift; simply because I know it will make them HAPPY.

I'm also not going to give someone a gift just because they've given me one. I know that may sound selfish. But I'm tired of the requisite, you give me a gift, I'll give you one. I'm tired of the 'oh have an extra gift in your closet in case someone gives you a gift that you hadn't planned on and you need to have one to give back to them.' If someone gives me a gift, I'm going to be gracious and thank them, but I'm not going to feel the need to clutter their lives with more stuff and I'm not going to make myself frantic about getting them something.

This tip is all about giving yourself permission to let go this Christmas. Let go of the expectations, the obligations and just enjoy the things that you feel in your heart you NEED to do. Don't be forced into thinking you have to have the best display of lights on the block, send out perfectly worded Christmas cards and deliver cookies to all 80 people in your neighborhood. This is Christmas. It's time for family. It's time to SLOW DOWN, relax and enjoy what you have.

Take my advice, it's well worth it for you AND your family.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day 24: Christmas--Class or Playgroup Gifts

I've decided to try to share a Christmas idea every day until the 25th. Hopefully this will help someone out there!

Today's Christmas tip is all about gifts for playdate friends. If your playgroup likes to exchange gifts (ours does), you know it can get expensive. Here are some tips to help make it less so!

1. Plan ahead. I shop every year after Christmas to get great deals on things I *KNOW* I'll use the following year--cards, gift wrap, ornaments, tissue paper, candy canes, cookie platters and gift "tins". Last year I stocked up on cute Christmas cups. They were originally 4/$1.00, but I purchased them at 4/$.25 on clearance. I also purchased wooden photo ornaments at JoAnn's for .25 each; and tubes of glitter paint in Christmas colors for .49 cents each.

2. Let your child get in on the gift giving. Yesterday Reagan and I had a blast decorating plain paper lunch sacks in which to put her gifts. She used markers, stickers and glitter glue and I let her go nuts. She loved it!

3. Remember, simple is better. Unify the gifts. I get everyone the same gift for that year. For instance, last year I used large plastic Christmas bowls (purchased the year before on Christmas clearance!) filled with popped popcorn and stuck a Veggie Tales Christmas DVD in each (on Black Friday sale at Family Christian for $5 each) and wrapped it all with cellophane and some ribbon..HUGE hit for approximately $6 for each family.

This year I went even simpler: Every one is getting a paper bag (decorated by Reagan) filled with photo ornaments for the kids to decorate with their own bottle of glitter glue. They'll also get a cellophane bag with an adorable Christmas cup and candy canes inside of it--Great Christmas gifts--unified--for about $1.50-$2.00 for each family.

4. Think "FAMILY". If you read the examples above, you'll note that the gifts aren't JUST for the kids. A family popcorn and movie night? Even Mom and Dad can get in on that. Decorating ornaments? Mom and Dad love to do things with the kids..and this is cheap, fun entertainment that actually produces something that will be cherished for a lifetime.

Oh, and one last tip: Make sure you bring something of whatever you're giving for your child...kids do watch that and you can avoid a temper tantrum by following this rule! For example, I have a cellophane bag with cup and candy cane already for Reagan too!

Remember, gifts don't have to be expensive...and they shouldn't be if you're buying for a large group of kids. Keep it thoughtful, keep it simple.

Share your ideas!

Monday, November 30, 2009

One of those "UGH!" moments...

On Sunday we took Reagan to a train exhibit at a local science museum. As Josh was getting ready to pay I noticed a sign that said "Two and under-Free"...so I said,
"Wait, she's two! So she's free to get in." The woman looked at me and said "THAT is two???"

Um, yeah. First of all, my child is not a THAT. Second, what earthly reason would I have to lie? And third, I can't help the fact that my child is extremely tall like her dad!! And granted, yes her third birthday is in a little over two weeks, but she is, in fact, still...TWO. ARGH!

Friday, November 27, 2009

GO WAR EAGLE!!!!!

Today is the annual football game that ESPN has rated the most intense rivalry in college sports---the game between the Auburn Tigers and the Alabama Roll Tide. Obviously, I'm all Tiger fan! GO Tigers GO!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! God Bless!!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fueling their minds...

Have I mentioned that my daughter is a budding paleontologist-MD? Yep. She's only two mind you...going on three of course. She's wants to know everything. HOW it works. WHY it works. She loves trains, fire engines, books, but most of all, most of all she loves playing doctor and learning about dinosaurs.

Reagan doesn't JUST play babies. Her babies have to get checkups almost every day...and that usually entails shots too. She's curious about the way we're put together and how our bodies work and about germs and how and why they affect us the way they do. I don't know if it's because she's had the unfortunate experience of being sick quite a bit of her childhood..and part of me thinks that has a teeny tiny bit to do with it...but mostly I think she's just naturally curious and fascinated by such a vast concept as medicine.

And then her dinosaurs. She can name them, tell you their body parts, the names of some of their bones (bet you didn't know that a piece of the tail in a dinosaur is called a 'chevron', did you--neither did I, until Reagan and I learned together.) She can spend hours pouring over dinosaur facts and studying how their bones are put together--all in a book mind you. I've even resorted to checking out upper level non-fiction books to keep her passion fueled.

And all this to say, I don't know if all children possess this unquenchable thirst for knowledge about such a vast variety of subjects and such an uncanny ability to absorb it all. Sometimes I think I'm pushing her to learn to fast and too much. Sometimes I think I'm holding her back and not letting her learn enough. Other times I think I should just let nature take it's course and let the chips fall where they may.

Some of you may be reading this shaking your head and saying 'oh yeah there is another one of those psycho moms who thinks she has a gifted child on her hands.' No, I'm not saying my child is gifted or that she's not gifted. I just know that she has an incredible thirst for knowledge and a great mind to absorb it.

So, for Christmas, I'm thinking we're doing a mix....a few play toys, some new trains, a cuddly baby dino, and a few new things I know she'll enjoy--a bug kit (she's already asked for this), a volcano making kit, and a book on the human body structure (thank you Montessori!).

To be honest, I'm nearly giddy with excitement. I remember vividly the first microscope and chemistry set I ever got for Christmas....I loved all things science and how lucky am I that Reagan seems to have inherited that? I can only hope she follows through and actually does something incredible with that passion, and doesn't just let it wither away. And I hope I can remember that I can't live out my dreams through her, that she has to choose her own way...and if that means becoming a writer or a soccer star instead of a scientist...well, at least I can always say I encouraged her in whatever she was passionate about.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I haven't been in much of a mood to post in the past few days. As I mentioned before, I feel so way behind on things and on top of that I just feel icky at the moment. For those of you that live in the north, you know what I mean--every day lately has been dim, depressing and gray as we transition from the beautiful vibrancy of fall to the dreary drudge of winter.

Every day Reagan wakes up, looks outside, turns to me and says "Mommy, I miss the blue sky." How pathetic is that? I know we're very blessed to live in an area that gets to enjoy four seasons instead of the ONE season I grew up with--SUMMER! But some days I just want that blue sky back too.

Today has been another equally dreary day. But luckily it's not raining and tonight is the big Christmas parade for our town (here's to hoping Josh holds himself back from lecturing everyone within ear shot about how Thanksgiving is the ultimate holiday and how it's grossly overlooked.)

The very first Christmas parade Reagan ever went to, she received a beautiful white Teddy Bear (although he's quite bedraggled looking now) that she promptly named Baby. I'm assuming Baby will make the trip with us tonight to enjoy the festive, if small, Christmas parade that we look forward to all year long. It's nothing like the Christmas parades of my youth. I remember those being crowded and noisy and not very Christmas-y and thinking how even though I knew tons of people and grew up in that town, I could still be surrounded by strangers.

Not true in our current hometown. In a city of barely 11,000, everyone knows everyone and if you don't know someone, then you surely know someone who knows that person and are thereby friends-in-law. I love that feeling...that feeling of community. Of knowing that when my daughter reaches a certain age, that will be HER Brownie troop, of being able to say "oh there goes Mr. so and so who owns the hardware store on the corner of 9th", or even "hey look, isn't that the fireman we bought our house from?"

So tonight, even though all around us the cloud cover will swirl and the dampness will seep into our bones until we're nearly frozen with cold, our hearts will be warm, watching our little community parade it's festive spirit for all it's worth, with homemade banners, floats and children's smiles that no sun and bright sky can compete with.

Merry Beginning of the Season, Everyone!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

ACK!

Christmas is literally right around the corner. At this point every year I've already planned decorations, presents, meals, etc, etc, etc. NOT THIS YEAR. I just suddenly realized I have a ton of things that need to be done. I had planned to have everything finished by December 1st and just sit back, relax and enjoy the season.

EEEk..so here I sit on the computer...procrastinating. I really should be cleaning, cooking for Thanksgiving and running around in a panic. So why do I feel so unmotivated?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ugh...what have I done?

Last week we adopted a puppy. An adorable puppy. Named Jazz. He was supposed to be Reagan's third birthday present, but little did we realize how much he would disrupt our lives. Let me say: I've never owned a puppy. I've owned tons of dogs, kittens and cats, but never a TRUE PUPPY...as in JUST WEANED.

Not only does he want to be held constantly, but he cries constantly and he has peed and pooed on my floor (ARGH!!!!!!!!!)..., dug himself out of the backyard several times and chewed several things (yes, normal puppy antics) and Reagan and I are always on the go, so he has spent much of his time locked in a room by himself.

He and Reagan are so cute together...when they're both sleeping. Otherwise she pretty much ignores him or is yelling at him to stop scratching on her, chewing on her or destroying her toys. But she loves him. Whole heartedly, as though an almost three year old could love any other way.

BUT....with many tears we've decided to let someone else adopt him. He's a great puppy...just not for us at this season in our lives. We want to get pregnant again soon (as in the next few months) and because my last pregnancy was so horrific, I'm not sure that a puppy is an added stress we can handle. Josh is sure Reagan will recover...I'm not sure *I'll* recover from her tears tomorrow when she realizes Jazz is gone.

Mommy and Reagan will be spending the day doing as many fun things as possible in order to distract her. And luckily, we have many other birthday presents coming up to distract her even further. Sigh......does one ever recover from the feeling that you are completely ruining your child's life every time you do something stupid???

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my life...

Tonight Reagan and Daddy were playing and suddenly Reagan stood up and started circling around him with her finger pressed to her lips and saying "Hmm...what am I going to do? What am I going to do?" (Josh plays a similiar game with her where he reaches down and tickles her tummy).....

....Unfortunately Reagan is not quite as tall as Daddy is and when she stopped suddenly to grab HIS tummy, she grabbed him...well, in his Daddy parts as he would say....and instead of tickling (since she doesn't do that very well at all!) she ended up pinching him..yes, right there!!

As Josh doubled over in pain, I doubled over in laughter. Poor Reagan...she was laughing too, although not for the same reasons I'm sure!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Remember our new van?

Remember how excited I was? Right. Well, yesterday I ran one side of it into the side of the garage..now the garage needs some repair and so does the vehicle. ARGH. This is eerily reminiscent of the time I drove an Odyssey into a post at a gas station...unfortunately THAT Odyssey happened to be one I had just sold and did NOT belong to me....is history just doomed to repeat itself with me???

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Get a Free Sample of Dunkin Donuts Coffee!

Dunkin' Donuts. Dunkin' keeps me blogging. Try Dunkin' Donuts Coffee For Free. Get a Sample

I've heard nothing but good things about this coffee, but I have yet to try it! So I signed up for a free sample and you can too! Just click the banner above and fill out the information and your sample is on it's way! I ask you--is there anything better to wake up to than the smell of fresh brewed coffee? Ok, besides little one kisses!

Friday, November 13, 2009

And if you're Twilight/Edward Obsessed....

Check out THIS blog. In the words of the blog author:

HOLY. MOTHER. *and I think *I* just spontaneous ovulated* (Read the blog, you'll get it!)

Sorry, Josh. Don't even go there. You'll never be able to live your disgust for my obsession down.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Liberals Beginning to Turn Against "Dr. Utopia"?

Liberals and Conservatives need to check out this incredible blog entry written by two liberal gay guys from Chicago.

http://hillbuzz.org/2009/11/10/thank-you-former-president-george-w-bush-and-former-first-lady-laura-bush/

Looks like the liberals are waking up and realizing Obama is a huge danger to our country and does not deserve to be president.

By the way, let me add my thanks to former President Bush and First Lady Laura for taking the time to meet with the families of the Ft. Hood mass shooting. They went in without cameras, without media and quietly did what was required of a president...only this time it wasn't their duty..it was Obama's....and he failed. AGAIN. Remember the military funerals Obama was seen attending just a couple of weeks ago...he wouldn't even attend those without asking for permission to allow the media to film it so it could be blasted all over the world about what a compassionate president he was. So in mourning for our lost military. So in mourning, he asked family members of the deceased to allow the media to photograph the event? Yes. Such compassion. (Insert heavy sarcasm here.)

Thank you President Bush for continuing to do what is right and stand up for America, when our current president can't and won't.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank You

Thank you so much to our Veterans who have fought for our freedom. Every day I thank God for you and the noble cause you continue to fight for. God bless you and your families.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Where's Reagan??




This was from a couple of weekends ago at Reagan's grandparents house!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Reagan is doing great!

Just an update and to say thank you for all the prayers! Reagan is doing WONDERFUL! She only has two more doses of Tamiflu and her oral steroid left to go. After that, she has five more days left to go on her antibiotic. (She has very proactive doctors, and due to her background, and they gave her the antibiotic to prevent a secondary bacterial infection). Her breathing treatments are keeping her cough under control now that she's on the oral steroid.

She is running around playing having a great time and tomorrow we'll see the doctor and hopefully get clearance to let her back around other people!

In the meantime, keep Josh in your thoughts. He did go to work today, but yesterday he spent most of his time asleep and under the influence of a fever. I'm well-just a nice head cold and cough--but what can you expect when you're thrown up on, coughed on and used as a human tissue (hey, what else are moms for!?)

By the way, here are some tips for avoiding the flu, especially if you have children:

1. Constantly wash hands--a great hand sanitizer is the Germ-X foaming hand sanitizer without alcohol, although it still rids your hands of 99.9% of the germs when used properly.

2. Lysol has been shown to kill the flu virus. Make sure if you use Lysol you leave it on surfaces for at least ten minutes so it has time to effectively kill the virus.

3. Have your child change clothes upon arriving home from school or daycare. Remember, they've spent all day with other germy kids!

4. Sneeze in your sleeve if you don't have tissues available..NOT your hands!

5. Good old fashioned soap and water is best for removing germs--remember to wash vigorously for at least 20 seconds (sing the happy birthday song) under running water. Part of the reason for this is that the action of rubbing your hands together helps get rid of the germs.

6. Eat healthy foods to help boost your immune system: fruits, vegetables, whole grains.

7. Keep a tissue box full of tissues taped to an empty tissue box...this way you always have some place to throw your used tissues.

8. Finally, make sure your child gets plenty of rest and fluids..taking care of yourself is the best way to avoid getting sick.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Check out this deal!

This is perfect for scoring lots of games for your toddler, stacking up some birthday gifts, or even for donating to Toys for Tots!

Buy 7 of these games at Toys R Us for 3.99 each (NOTE: You must buy SEVEN different games and make sure you purchase the regular, traditional edition of the games, not the character games (except for memory) otherwise you won't get the $3.99 price.)

$3.99 games are:

Candy Land
Chutes and Ladders
Memory (any character)
Spiderman Chutes and Ladders (I THINK)
Hi Ho Cherry-o
Don't Break The Ice
Ants In My Pants
Cooties

This should add up to $27.93 plus tax. You'll get a $10 TRU gift card at checkout for spending $25 on Hasbro games. THEN,

Print out this rebate slip:

http://www.hasbro.com/familygamenight/en_US/discover/upload/RevisedHasbroGameNightRebateForm.pdf

You get $2.00 back per game listed above, for a total of $14.0. So you're paying roughly .56 cents PER GAME.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Two Great Soup Recipes

This week I've been in a soup making mood and out of the three I've tried, one has been good, one has been EXCELLENT and one was just downright YUCK! So, I decided I would share the two good ones with you! Both of these are from Cheap.Fast.Good! by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross. (My adaptations are noted)

Hearty Homemade Beef and Vegetable Soup
1 lb ground beef
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lg onion, chopped
1 clove garlic (or bottled or ground)
1 can 15 oz red kidney beans (or use dry homemade kidney beans)
2 cans fat free chicken broth (or approximately 4 cups of homemade chicken stock)
1 14.5 oz can of chopped tomatoes, flavored with onion and herbs (I used no-salt added diced tomatoes and added my own seasonings)
6 oz tomato paste
1 cup frozen corn (I added more)
1 cup frozen green peas (again, I added more)
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning (I like to use a little more)
(I added salt and pepper, otherwise it was bland...just enough to taste...and it really flavors the soup!)

Heat oil in soup pot and add onion to it. Let it simmer a few minutes, then add ground beef and allow it to brown (approximately 7-8 minutes). Add garlic, drained beans, broth, tomatoes in juice and paste. (The recipe also says to add 2 cups of water at this point, but I didn't). Raise heat to high and stir.

Add corn, peas and seasoning. Cover and continue to cook until soup boils. Serve.
(6 servings!) I served this with foccacia bread. SO GOOD!

Super Saver Tortilla Soup

This is rated as a Super-Cheap recipe by the authors. Personally, I thought the way it was made in the cookbook left the soup a little runny and without much to it. By adding a few simple ingredients, this soup turned out DELICIOUS! My family really enjoyed it.

2/3 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut up into bite size pieces
2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion (I like onion so I used a larger one)
1/2 tsp ground cumin (I didn't use this-and the recipe says it's optional)
1/2 tsp chili powder (I DID use this--but the recipe says it's optional)
3 cups beef broth (I used homemade, but if you're using canned get low-sodium)
1 cup chicken broth (again, I use homemade, but if you're using canned get low-sodium)
1 cup bottled salsa (Ok, this is WAY too little for this recipe, I recommend doubling the amount, which is what I did)
tortilla chips, for serving
sour cream, for serving
shredded cheese, for serving
I added one can of kidney beans drained (I ran out of homemade, but if you're using homemade, add at least one cup...more if you're family likes kidney beans)
I added half a bag of frozen corn

Pour oil in soup pot and add onions, letting them simmer for a few minutes. Add chicken and stir until chicken is cooked through. Add cumin and/or chili powder. Add both broths, salsa, corn and beans. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Serve with sour cream and cheese on top and sprinkle with tortilla chips.

Enjoy!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Complete Brag Post

I may have the smartest two year old (almost three year old) on the planet! Seriously, what two year old can recite tons of dinosaur names (correctly, no less!) and several facts about each of them? Reagan can! And today, she was so cute...we were playing with her dinosaurs and she said "Mommy, we are omnivores." Yes, we are!

I'm just amazed at all the things she knows already!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Keep Reagan in Your Prayers

Reagan was just diagnosed with H1N1. She's very sick and just feels pretty awful in general. Please keep her in your prayers.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Free Sure Deodorant (Possible Money Maker) at CVS!

This week, Sure Deodorant is on sale at CVS for 2/$5.00. Purchase two and use two coupons (both from the 10-18-09 SS; one for $1.00 off any Sure Anti-Perspirant and Deodorant, 2.0 oz+ and the other for $1.50 off Sure for Men Anti-Perspirant and Deodorant). Make sure to buy one of the Sure for Men with a sticky label that says "Try Me for Free!"

Use this mail in rebate form and you'll receive a check for up to $2.99! At the very least you should receive your purchase price back which will make 2 Deoderant/Anti-Perspirants free!

2/$5.00
-1.00
-1.50
=2.50
Rebate Check for $2.50-$2.99!
Score!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Major Toy Purge!

A few weeks ago I just finished a MAJOR toy purge in our house. I can't believe how much stuff we've managed to collect for Reagan in her three short years. And I can't believe how hard it is for ME to part with some of the things. Really....I was teary eyed over most of her stuffed animals--"oh, but this is the bunny I got her for Easter" or "but this was the first stuffed animal grandpa bought her" or "oh that was the first toy she ever held!"

I'm looking forward to getting her some new items to play with for Christmas (note: I need new items!!!!!!!! Playing with the same little people set gets boring for me too!) but I really do miss some of her sweet baby toys!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The coke's on us.....

Reagan and I were driving past a local hardware store that is in our neighborhood and Reagan happened to mention that that's where we go to get drinks sometimes. I nodded (because we do run up there to grab a diet coke from time to time) and she proceeded to rattle along with some story that I was only half listening to (in my defense I was a little amazed at the fall colors!) I tuned back in to hear her saying "And little kids can't drink coke because cokes are only for dolts." LOL! The kid's really gotta work on not dropping those syllables!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Traditions

Happy Halloween Everyone! Last night our town celebrated halloween, so we're all finished here. The fam had a great time and I realized we've sort of started our own little Halloween traditions.

Now, to begin with, I am NOT a halloween person. I don't think I've ever enjoyed the so-called "holiday". I don't enjoy the ghosts, witches and other scary things that halloween abounds with. Not to say that some of that doesn't infiltrate our own celebration. We still watch movies and read books that talk about ghosts and witches--for example: Pooh's Heffalump Halloween and one of our favorite books "I Like Pumpkins" by Jerry Smath. But I don't like to center our thoughts around those types of things.

I would much rather use the day as a celebration of fall or even as just a silly, fun time. Which leads me to our Halloween Traditions. Our first halloween with Reagan was before she was even a year old and we handed out candy and ooohed and awwwed over all the costumes and watched (of course) It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

The next year Reagan was old enough to do a little trick or treating herself and we took her to the downtown trick or treating event, where she gathered a few pieces of candy and then we had dinner at a downtown diner, sitting at a table overlooking the street, watching all the kids pass by in their costumes. Then, we went home, passed out candy and watched...yep....It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! So this year, what did we do? We did a little of the downtown trick or treating, had dinner at that same diner, at the same table and came home to pass out candy and watch ....well, you know what we watched!

I have to say these are the three best halloweens I've ever had in my life. (Closely followed by that first year in Texas, where my brother and I traipsed through snow to collect FULL SIZE candy bars from all the neighbors!)

I love the fact that we're having such a great time laughing and making other people smile by handing out candy to crazy kids dressed in all manner of costumes. I love the fact that we can all sit down and watch a classic movie together and eat junk food and just enjoy some family time. Family time is hard to come by in this crazy world we live in and if halloween gives us an excuse to enjoy each other, I just might bump it up a couple of notches to a favorite holiday spot.

Enjoy the candy, but especially enjoy each other. Happy Fall Y'all!

Friday, October 30, 2009

All this from six pie pumpkins!

After several grueling days of trying to work through all the pumpkins Reagan and I purchased at the pumpkin patch, I finally have pictures of our labor!

Reagan was a huge help. She washed all the pumpkins for me in a sink full of soapy water, then I pulled off the stems and hacked them into halves with a butcher knife. (NOTE: If your child is the sensitive type and has formed a great attachment to the pumpkins, this may not be the kind of thing you want to attempt in front of her...just sayin'...because, well there were quite a few tears and lots of heart-wrenching sobs at our house that day!) After drying your child's tears and assuring her that you are massacring the grown-up pumpkins and NOT the baby pumpkins, remove the guts and seeds. Put those aside for later.

Oh, and if your butcher knife happens to get stuck in a problematic, stubborn, tough pumpkin, the best way to hack through that little puppy and get your knife back out is to sling the whole thing on the floor. It'll bust open. Just maintain your grip on the knife people...oh and make sure your child is NOT present for this little feat of strength.

Finally poke holes all over the pumpkin 'meat' and cook them on cookie sheets for 30 minutes at 350. The pumpkin skins should come off easily and you'll be able to remove the 'meat'. You can add a little water and mash them yourself OR use a food processor...but I do NOT recommend the blender. (Um, yes, I actually forgot I owned a food processor for the first batch of pumpkin cooking---oy vey!)

At any rate, you should have delicious pumpkin puree that you can use anyway you would normally use a can of pumpkin!

For a total of six dollars and TONS of mom-hours later, I had 17 bags of 2-cup pumpkin puree. Each of those bags contains approximately one ounce more of pumpkin than the cans do. Libby sells their 15-oz containers for $1.39. So, I saved almost $18.00.

Honestly, though, Libby's is a great value. You don't have to pay for the electricity cost of running your oven (or gas cost) or put in the constant time of making the puree or the cost of washing all the dishes. BUT you don't get the fun of doing it yourself, the delicious pumpkin seeds or the satisfaction of knowing that you're supporting a local farmer and feeding your child local foods. I think either route you wish to go is perfectly fine...and if there isn't a pumpkin shortage next year, I'll probably go back to purchasing Libby's pumpkin in the cans. After all, there is some research showing that the canning process actually enhances the nutrients in the pumpkin. Again, you say po-TAY-toe and I say po-Taaaaa-toe. Either way, enjoy the pumpkin season!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reagan's new accomplishments!

This week Reagan did two absolutely amazing things! The first: she FINALLY learned how to blow a bubble! YAH Reagan!!!

And the second---she came up with her OWN magic trick. I was completely stunned sitting at the table with her. She's not even three! Where does she come up with this stuff!?!?

Reagan's Magic Trick: Mommy had made a playdoh pumpkin for her, but use whatever trinket around the house you have! Take one empty playdoh cup and put the pumpkin/trinket inside. Then take a second cup and put it inside the first cup. Have your unsuspecting mom shake the cans--laugh to yourself as she gazes perplexedly at the cup that appears empty yet sounds full! ;)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Easy Halloween Treats

Materials:
Suckers
White Napkins or Cloth
Marker
Ribbon or rubber band

Simply secure the napkin over the sucker with the rubber band or ribbon. On one side make eyes, a nose and a smiley face---you have a cute little ghost sucker!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Our new van!

We are offically parents (which begs the question 'what have you been for the past three years??') Ok. So in terms of vehicles, we are now officially parents. This weekend we bought a Honda Odyssey. I absolutely love her!

Reagan is having some adjustment issues, however, asking us to bring back our old vehicle. But she does seem to enjoy being able to see EVERYTHING from her seat now.

Let me tell you about the van: She's gold and not new, but new to us (and as a former car salesman, let me tell you to NEVER NEVER buy a new car....quite frankly, you are literally THROWING your money away if you do). She's an EX model with beige interior and literally spotless. I love that she has dual sliding keyless doors and a CD player AND a cassette player (I have a lot of old music left over!) and Josh and I plan on putting a DVD player in for Reagan when we go on trips. She has a great tailgating feature and lots of power and handles like a car. These are all things I've always loved about the Odyssey (I sold Hondas in a previous life ;) )and really appreciate all the more now that I'm a mom.

Thanks Honda, for making a great, reliable vehicle! I can't tell you how happy I am to finally be back to a two-Honda family instead of just a one-Honda family....there is no other car I trust more and no other vehicle I'd rather have (ok, maybe the Honda Pilot!!).

I could go on expounding the virtues of Hondas for days, but unfortunately I need to get to bed at sometime tonight. At any rate, this has really been an amazing weekend for us and we're really happy with our new purchase!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Obama's "Historic" Presidency

Check out this link. Apparently Obama is getting that historic presidency he wanted...just not in the way he thought---worst poll rating drop in the last 50 years of any presidency!

Luckily this helps decrease his chances for reelection. Perhaps we'll get REAL change in 2012.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Great Walmart Experiment

Reagan hates Wal-mart. Absolutely despises it. Everytime we need to go there, she cries and begs me not to take her. And this from the girl that absolutely loves shopping in general. Today I told her we had to get groceries. She said "Where are we going?" "To Kroger." "Kroger? Oh, I love Kroger! I'm so glad we're not going to Wal-mart Mommy!"

Hmm....

Which led me to wonder what would happen to my finances if I gave in to my daughter's wishes and avoided Wal-Mart completely? What would happen if I did something radical and didn't shop at Wal-Mart for the next year? Would our spending dramatically decrease? After all, every single time I go in there for one thing I end up with an entire cartful of stuff I didn't anticipate AND when I do manage to walk out with only one or two bags, I've at least spent $60 or $70 or more!

So I looked over our finances. And Josh, sweetie, if you're reading this, look way. NOW. Are you still reading? Really, look away. You don't want to see this.

Ok. Big breath.

Our 12-month average for groceries (and that includes household items and even clothing) and retail store purchases (which is basically everything but utilities, mortgage and gas!) is...gulp....$988.73 PER MONTH.

For someone who claims to love bargains THAT does not seem like a bargain number at all. That seems like someone who has a spending problem. That also seems like a lot of money wasted at...you got it...Wal-Mart. Now keep in mind we live in a small town and it is so much easier to drive to Wal-Mart for virtually anything rather than driving 30 minutes to a larger town to get whatever it was we needed in the first place. We have pretty much two shopping options here: Kroger and Wal-Mart, and Kroger only carries food...so much of the optional spending goes to, again, Wal-Mart.

So, I've made a radical decision. I'm giving up Wal-Mart. I do not intend to step foot in it again for the next year..and possibly beyond if necessary. On December 1, I'm going to look at our monthly average and see how much we've saved...and deposit that money into our new home fund. I plan to do the same every single month. I also plan to share here how much I'm saving simply by staying out of Wal-Mart.

There are some rules of course:

1. If someone is SICK and there is something we absolutely must have and no one else has it or they are closed, we WILL utilize Wal-Mart. After all, they're the only ones within 30 minutes of us that are open around the clock. And germs don't go by store hours.

2. If there is absolutely something my husband and I BOTH have decided on that we need, and Wal-Mart is the least expensive place to purchase it (say, for example, a Brita water pitcher) then we'll buy it there. However, my husband will have to do the purchasing, because there is no way I go in there for one thing and manage to come out with only ONE thing.

3. No substitutions. This should be easy to follow since there aren't any substitute stores nearby. This means I can't replace my spending at Wal-Mart at various other stores. No going to Meijer's to shop for something just because of the no Wal-Mart rule. (which is perfectly fine because I find that store to be disgustingly dirty and disorganized!)

Otherwise I plan to do NOTHING different. I'll still buy what I need to buy...food, t-shirts, wipes, etc, etc. Use coupons. Meal plan. So on and so forth. I can't wait to see what this little experiment says about my shopping habits and how much money we can save.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Great Pumpkin Debaucle...

Yesterday Reagan and I went to a pumpkin patch with some friends. Somehow, I managed to bring home five or six (I can't remember now) nice sized pie pumpkins along with various other farm stand items. Tomorrow begins the interesting experiment of seeing how fast I can cook, puree and make into pumpkin pies, these little doozies. Promise I'll share them all in a few days!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The War on Christmas

Not ALL liberals are horrible people...but there are many that DO help promote the idea that most liberals are completely intolerant of anything they do not agree with and are extremely hate filled people. And for my friends that consider themselves liberal (since there are a few of you :) ), if you're going to call yourself a liberal, these are the types of people you're aligning yourself with.

Let me give you a little example:

I'm a member of a mom's board. And Christmas season is just around the corner. Since I'm a stay at home mom we especially need to conserve funds around this time of year. So I thought, 'hmm, why not start a Christmas deal forum where everyone can share great deals they find and coupons?' Sounds like a good idea, right?

WRONG.

It immediately turned into liberals up in arms about the fact that I hadn't made a general deal forum and that I had put the word "Christmas" in the title..and so on and so forth and generally just harassing me for the use of the word "Christmas". Maybe if I wanted to be PC I could have avoided the word Christmas..but to tell you the truth, the thought never even entered my head. To me, the Christmas season is just that. Christmas. We celebrate Christ's birth. Christmas.

I have absolutely no problem if you don't want to celebrate Christmas. If you celebrate Kwanza, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice or whatever..fine...that's what YOU celebrate. But DO NOT inhibit my ability to celebrate Christmas. No one is forcing you to celebate Christmas or even call it that. BUT DO NOT tell me what I can and cannot call this season.

How hard is it for someone to start their own "Holiday" deal forum if that's what they want to call it? Instead of taking offense to and harrassing those who prefer to celebrate Christmas for what it is to them? It's as one mom said: "There are forums all over this particular mom's board for cloth diapering moms, and I'm not one of them. Does that mean that there shouldn't be cloth diapering forums?"

Hate filled intolerance. Harrassment. Voting fraud. Murder of unborn children. Blatant disrespect of God and His law. Rewarding of laziness instead of hard work. This is the liberal America we're living in. Oh, and let's not forget Obama's government ban and all-out war against Fox News for not promoting his liberal agenda. Is this even America anymore???

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fun Fall Crafts for Kids

Here are a few fun fall activities Reagan and I have been working on the past few weeks:

Decorating Pumpkins: We used glitter and paint on ours, but you can dress them up with anything of course!

Washing Pumpkins: Kids love this because they get to make a mess in the water..and grownups love it to because you don't have to worry about all the dirt and grime from the pumpkin all over your house! Just fill a small tub with soapy water, lay a towel on the floor and provide your child with lots of sponges, squeegies and washcloths.

Crinkly Leaves: Cut out a leaf on construction paper, or download a leaf template and cut out. Let your child squish and crinkle dried leaves that you've collected (in a bowl..much less messy). Apply a coating of glue to the leaf and then sprinkle leaves over the glue. Let dry and hang in a window.

Decorating Acorns: You can use an acorn template (or draw it freehand) or collect actual acorns. Decorate with glitter, paint, crayons, etc. If using real acorns hang up using a loop of coordinating ribbons or use them as napkin ties for the Thanksgiving dinner (imagine how proud your little one will be showing them off!)

Fingerprint pumpkin patch: Have your child dip her thumb in orange paint and then make prints all over a piece of construction paper. After the paint has dried, have your child go back over with a green marker to add vines, leaves and stems.

Toilet paper roll pumpkin: Items needed: One roll of toilet paper, one paper lunch sack (brown), fabric in fall colors (1/4 yard). Have your child place the toilet paper roll (with paper still on it!) in center of fabric. Going all the way around the fabric, tuck all loose ends into the center of the roll. Roll paper sack up lengthwise and insert into toilet paper roll center. You have an adorable pumpkin! You can even use pipe cleaners to add leaves and vines.

Corn project: Download corn template and have your child color as he wishes. Then have him glue on hardened corn kernals.

Pumpkin face project: Pick up a cheap pumpkin shaped placemat from a discount store (preferably fabric). Using felt, cut out a variety of noses, mouths and eyes. Have your child decorate and redecorate her pumpkin!

There are also tons of fall themed snacks you can make with your child including pumpkin bread, muffins and pies to popcorn and apple cider.

Enjoy!
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