"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

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

White Napkins or Cloth
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!"


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?


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.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

My Dad's birthday is today--we're sending you lots of love and lots of hugs and kisses from your favorite granddaughter!

Friday, October 16, 2009


Yesterday we were leaving the library with my friend Monica and her two little ones. As soon as the door closed Reagan said "All of us are going in here??? We'll NEVER get out of here now!" Did I mention she's hysterical?


The other day Reagan kept falling every time she tried to walk somewhere. Finally, at the end of the day, and utterly discouraged she fell again and looked up, complete with quivering chin and stated "I don't know how to walk." Awwwwww.


When I try to put Reagan in time out now, she immediately responds with "Are you KIDDING ME!?!?!?" (inflection in just the right places of course to make me choke on laughter during what should be a serious mommy moment!)

Thursday, October 15, 2009


It snowed this morning.....great. Welcome, winter. (Luckily, it did NOT stick!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ah, Clever Disney...

Yesterday we went shopping for CARS figurines to use on Reagan's birthday party cake. (My girl is obsessed with dinosaurs, cars, firetrucks, trains, airplanes and fishing!) I was hoping to find Lighting McQueen and Mater in the $2.50 bin, but alas they only had ONE Lighting and a huge number of the Firetruck guy (which I just now realized didn't even come in the set I ended up buying *sigh*)

So, off I schlepped to the figurine section..they were on sale 2/$20 so why shouldn't I get those? She would get a bigger selection of the Car's figurines and maybe I could even indulge her in getting a Little Einstein set....and that's when I saw it.

Sure, there were the Car's figurines, exactly like I needed, with ONE HUGE exception. Disney had packaged Lighting McQueen separately from Sally, Mater and Doc Hudson--the other MAIN characters in the movie. (see here) So if you want to get the main characters for your kids (and who is going to want Lighting without Mater????), you have to buy TWO sets---and God help you if you even mentioned getting the Little Ensteins set before noticing the two separate Cars sets....because then you just might end up taking home THREE sets.

Great marketing Disney, but you know, that's not the best way to earn friends in the mommy kingdom.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I desperately need a schedule. Reagan and I are always on the go and we seem to get nothing done. No real play time, no real home time...how can we spend days and still not accomplish anything? And you would think since she's attending preschool now that I would have more time to get things done...NO. How does six hours a week just vanish like that???

Not only that, but our entire way of life has completely changed...now we have preschool added to the mix and Reagan has OFFICIALLY given up nap times, which means bedtime is super early, which means Josh only has about 30 minutes a day to spend with her. And somehow this still leaves me having more free time than ever and I STILL can't manage to get it all done.

I need a schedule. A definite, set in stone, this is what we do when, SCHEDULE. Suggestions from the mom crowd?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Baking Day and Menu Plan

I spent most of today cooking and baking. I ended up with a nice little stash for the freezer:

5 chicken tetrazini dinners
2 bags of "to die for" blueberry muffins
1 loaf of apple-cheddar bread
1 pumpkin pie
9 chicken burritos
1 italian herb focaccia loaf
shredded chicken (which actually still needs to be shredded) and enough fat and bones to make homemade chicken stock (much better than store bought and doesn't contain any of the additives and chemicals...and you can stil make it fat free!)

Plus, tonight's dinner!

Here's the menu plan for the rest of the week (bolded recipes are below):
(for more great menu planning ideas, check out orgjunkie.com)

Monday: Meatloaf (mini-cups??) (make an extra for the freezer), broccoli and mashed sweet potatoes
Tuesday: Mock Swiss Steak, vegetable (??) and biscuits
Wednesday: Chicken pot pie and green beans
Thursday: chicken salad sandwiches (on homemade bread), apple slices
Friday: Homemade pizza
Saturday: Various leftovers and MAYBE a dish to take to a family gathering (we haven't decided if we're going yet)
Sunday: Roast, potatoes, vegetables and pudding fruit salad

Breakfasts: fruit, yogurt, eggs, cereal
Lunches: leftovers or sandwiches
Snacks: Fruit, goldfish, muffins, yogurt

Mock Swiss Steak:
3 lbs of ground beef
1 c. cracker crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. water
1 can cream of mushroom soup (low sodium)

Mix all together except soup. Pat on cookie sheet with rim, 3/4 inch thick and place in refrigerator overnight. Cut into serving squares; roll in flour and brown in skillet. Place in covered dish and cover with mushroom soup. Bake at 325 for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Pudding Fruit Salad
1 4 oz container of vanilla pudding (premade)
1/2 cup frozen (thawed) whipped topping
1 cup seedless grapes, halved
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 11 oz can mandarin orange segments, drained
1 8oz can pineapple tidbits in juice, drained
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced

In medium bowl, mix pudding and whipped topping. Gently stir in grapes, marshmallows, oranges and pineapple. Add strawberries and toss gently to coat. Serve immeidately or store in refrigerator up to 8 hours.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Chilly Diapers!

Now, why didn't I think of this???? This is one mom-tip I'm saving up for the next child!!!


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Winter is on it's way

Fall has barely even begun and already winter is nosing it's way in. Our nights are so cold already and some days the clouds are heavy gray with a threat of snow in them. The cats have thick winter coats and spend most days curled into a ball on top of a warm blanket.

Last night we finally caved in and turned on space heaters--and this morning, Reagan and I ate breakfast cuddled under a blanket on the couch, watching cartoons and listening to the hum of the heater.

I can look outside and see trees still in their full array of green splendor, others nearly bare and still others changing from their spring clothing to their fall finery. Every year I look forward to this brief time period between summer and winter and every year it gets shorter and shorter and winter seems to get longer and longer...as though it's trying to take over every season in some methodical, menacing plan.

It's not that I don't enjoy winter (although I could do without the ice storms and the extreme sub-zero temps), it's more that I love fall and all the wonder it brings and every year a little bit more of it gets taken away--it's like watching your sand castle eroding under the incoming tide, knowing you can't stop it and you can't save your castle.

I wish fall could last forever. More time to jump in the leaves, crunch them under your shoes, smell the scent of earth, apples and pumpkins in the air. More time to drink apple cider, run outside in your sweaters until your cheeks are stinging with the wind.

And with that image in my head, I'm off to get ready to spend a day outside with Reagan.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Quick and Easy Recipe!

Tuna Melt Quesadillas

Flour tortillas
cooking spray
Italian seasoning or dill, parlsey, oregano

Spray your tortillas with cooking spray and set in broiler to crisp (watch them carefully as they will burn easily). Meanwhile, mix tuna, mayo and seasoning together. Remove tortillas from oven, and place tuna mixture on one side of each tortilla, then sprinkle cheese over the entire toritlla. Broil til cheese is melted, remove from oven, fold in half and eat. Delicious and healthy!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tackle It Tuesday

I haven't participated in Tackle It Tuesday, hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom, in a VERY long time. However, I need some motivation to get a few things done, so here goes:

1. Refill Reagan's medication
2. Return the enrollment application and fee to her new preschool.
3. Clean out the fridge.
4. Order the bouncy castle for Reagan's birthday party.
5. Order haybales for her birthday party.
6. Pay online bills.
7. Contact my doctor about the flu vax and what complications may occur from mixing it with the chicken pox vax.
8. Contact the library, the newspaper, the Mom's group, and Church about the annual toy drive.
9. Put garage sale ad in the newspaper and host the garage sale (and remind anyone that has items in our garage and that wants them to come and get them...friends and family!) so we can fit our cars back in before it snows!

Monday, October 5, 2009

I slept ten hours last night!!

TEN HOURS, people!! TEN HOURS!!!! Granted, Reagan did wake up in the middle of the night wanting to move to our bed and I woke up once out of a deep sleep to find Josh staring at me (I'm pretty sure he was convinced I wasn't breathing...I was completely out of it!), but I actually got ten hours of sleep.

I can't remember the last time I've had anywhere close to ten hours of rest...I can't remember the last time I've only been woken up twice during the night.

Heaven...absolutely positively pure bliss! It's like that one morning every 8 months or so that I wake up before Reagan and get to enjoy my email and coffee before she wakes up. I actually begin to feel HUMAN again.

Ten hours...I'm still in shock. I think I'm going to start forcing myself to have an 8 o'clock bedtime at least once per week.

And Jana..if you're reading this, I swear I had the strangest dream about you last night! Sending lots of happy pregnancy thoughts your way!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Gearing up for the busiest time of year

I was making a project list of everything that needed to get done in the next two months or so and realized, I am WAY overbooked. Between all the fun fall things there are to do with Reagan, our second yearly trip to Alabama, the NICU Christmas donations, Reagan's birthday, etc, etc, etc.....I don't think I'm ever going to get finished.

And then I end up wondering why on earth it seems like everyone tries to pack everything into the last few months of the year. Wouldn't it make more sense to spread it out a little?

I guess that won't work for this year, but next year something has got to give. I think I'm going to start out by having a "half-birthday" party for Reagan in the summer and a family only event in the winter since her birthday is the week before Christmas.

Anyone have any tips for getting through this time of year?
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