Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Time for HGTV's Annual Dream Home Giveaway


It's that time of year again. HGTV starts their annual Dream Home giveaway tomorrow! I LOVE to watch the show & fantasize about winning. Of course, I'm the type of person who never wins anything, so I know it is just a fantasy, but it is soooo FUN! The last few years the houses haven't seemed very conducive to raising a family, I'm hoping this year's house will be better.

California wine country is one of my favorite places to visit & seems like it would be a very nice place to live (expensive, but nice). Since we don't have cable anymore, I'll have to wait for the tour to be available on the website. This year I'm planning to enter every single day!!!

Since this is one of my favorite fantasies, I'll probably be talking about this a lot over the next couple months. I'd love to hear everyone else's opinions on the house. Be sure to enter, I'm sure just about anyone has a better chance at winning this than Me.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

What a crazy day!!

The tree was gorgeous!!! Having just the tree lit is one of my favorite parts of Christmas.
Gramma (my Mom) made pink tutus for all the girls. We tried to get them to sit together for a picture...it didn't work too well.

Then we tried having all the kids sit for a group photo...this is one of the best ones. The program that fixes red eye won't work for me tonight, I'll fight with it more tomorrow.
Speaking of fighting, this is how my 19 month old daughter & my 15 month old granddaughter spent the afternoon. Baby Daughter is a bit of a bully.



Everyone had a really good day. The kids let us sleep until almost 9 & other than tired babies we didn't have any crankiness all day.

Merry Christmas Everybody!!!

It's been super hectic around here getting ready for Christmas, but it's DONE!!! The stockings are stuffed, the presents are wrapped & under the tree. The kiddies are all nestled snug in beds (not THEIR beds, but at least beds).

Pictures will be coming, but I need to find the card reader, suggestions on places to look greatly appreciated.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lemonade Award


My Friend Janet at The Money Jar has given me the Lemonade Award!!! I'm so excited!!! THANK YOU Janet!!!! Janet has two GREAT blogs that I LOVE!!! Her strong faith and positive outlook are inspiring. I'm going to pass this award on to the blogs I read that I feel present great attitude and gratitude.

Momedy
One Thing
Life in Focus
HomeSweetHome
Five Times Blessed
Musing, Rambling & All Around Blathering
Adventures in Learning
Sometimes We Do
My Love Knot
I Love this Circus

Here are the rules:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
3. Link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Music Monday-The Christmas Carol Edition 2

Hubby & I both LOVE Anne Murray....here she is singing one of my favorite Christmas Carols

It's Monday again....

December is just flying. Yesterday was the third Sunday of Advent & my 3 yr old was soooo happy to see the pink (JOY) candle lit on the Advent wreath. The kids & I splurged & went out to lunch and then did a little Christmas shopping. I'm addicted to tree ornaments. I only put up one tree, but I probably have enough ornaments to decorate at least three 7 ft trees. I hadn't planned to buy any new ornaments this year, but we found some on sale that were just too beautiful to pass up. We also found Webkinz ornaments buy one get one free.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Just another Busy December Saturday

Today was pretty busy. Hubby works on Saturdays so we don't get to sleep in. The 10 yr old & the 8 yr old had Christmas pageant rehearsal from 9 until 11. Fortunately, my Mom is here & the babies stayed home with her. The kids ran through the entire pageant 3 times & then we met with the costume department. The 10 yr old is a wise man, (perfect for him, since he is a self proclaimed know it all) he will be wearing a tunic & a velvet cloak....he's very pleased that he is the LEAD wise man. The 8 yr old is, of course, an angel. She will have a white gown, feathered wings & an adorable halo. Afterward we stopped at the store & bought donuts.

The babies were happy to see us when we got home, they had been busy writing on themselves & the walls while Gramma thought they were playing with dolls.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hubby went back to work today

Wednesday and Thursday are his regular days off, but he would have been home even if they weren't....he was THAT sick. He is still not 100%, but he is much better than he was. The 3 yr old & the 1 yr old are both still coughing, but they seem to be getting better too. *knock wood*

I've been keeping busy in the kitchen. Yesterday, I handmade 5 1/2 dozen tamales. Hubby has been selling them at work. They are a bit labor intensive, but not overly difficult. Authentic tamales are very hard to find in this part of Tennessee, there seems to be a pretty high demand for them. So far, I've only made pork tamales, but next week I plan to make up a batch of shredded beef & after Christmas (or maybe for Christmas) I plan to make a batch with shredded chicken.

Today, I'm making a crockpot of stew (taking some to a family from church who had a baby last week), a big batch of my homemade bread (some for the family from church, some for us), sugar cookies & cranberry nut bread. My kitchen smells soooo yummy!!!!

Cooking used to be one of my favorite hobbies, but over the years of fighting with my picky eaters, it has become more of a chore. The cooking I've been doing lately has been FUN again & I've finally figured out why. I've just been making what I feel like making & whoever wants to eat it can, those who don't like it for one reason or another can go without. Unfortunately, this plan wouldn't work for dinners, but at least I'm back to enjoying most of my time in the kitchen.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

WARNING....the sickies have invaded my house

We are now in our second week of passing around some bug. It started Nov 30th with the 3 yr old puking in the taxi that rescued us after I had to have the van towed home, she had loose bowels before that, but the puking was the sure sign that she was definitely SICK. The 10 yr old & the 8 yr old followed with puking the next two days & then the 18 yr old was too sick for work or even hanging out with his friends until all hours for two full days.

Miraculously Hubby, Baby Daughter & I were spared.....we thought. Baby Daughter started with the very ugly diapers this past Sunday. The bug has evolved with her, she also has a cough, green snot & runs a fever off & on. It isn't going away. The 3 yr old now has the green snot and a cough. Hubby was running a fever when he got out of work on Tuesday, his stomach is "iffy" & he feels congested. I spoke with our oldest on the phone Wednesday, he & his wife & baby all have a cold/stomach thing too.

I'm the last one & so far it hasn't gotten me *knock wood*. My stomach is feeling a little "iffy" though & today I noticed I was having trouble catching my breath after carrying Baby Daughter up the stairs. If you don't see me for a couple days, you will know why. Hopefully the 18 yr old, 10 yr old & 8 yr old are recovered enough to take care of the rest of us if I do succumb.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's RAINING!!!

I am not usually a fan of lots of rain. But Tennessee rain is different. It is refreshing and often an improvement over the weather just before it. We had been having a pretty cold few weeks, the rain has brought WARMER weather!!!! We live in a very hilly place, so we don't get mud or puddles, it all runs downhill until it finds the Tennessee River. Half an hour after it stops raining there is usually no visible trace that the rain ever happened....that is kinda nice.

Works for me Wednesday---Alternative to the chocolate filled Advent Calendar

A few years ago I made the mistake of buying one of those Advent calendars that has a piece of chocolate under each door. The chocolate was the same nasty stuff they make hollow Easter bunnies out of & really not worth the $10 I paid for that calendar, but the kids LOVED it. Last year, mean Mom that I am, we didn't have any Advent calendar. The kids complained for months afterward. One of the first Christmas related things my 8 yr old asked me this year was if we could get the calendar with the chocolate. Instead of paying way too much for yucky chocolate I came up with an alternative plan.

Our church had free Advent calendars on a table the first Sunday of Advent & I picked up 5. On the back they have a Bible verse, under each door they have a complimentary verse. 10 yr old, 8 yr old, 3 yr old & 1 yr old each have their own calendar....the 5th one is a spare for when the 3 yr old or the 1 yr old destroys theirs (I know it will eventually happen). Each night the 10 yr old reads the verse on the back for that day, they all open the appropriate door & 8 yr old reads the corresponding verse under the door. Then we count how many more unopened doors we have & finally they each get to pick a candy from the special present bag (recycled Christmas gift bag from last year). I bought a Hersey chocolate assortment & a Wonka assortment...spent about $6 for all the candy. Hubby asked if it was left over Halloween candy.....he knows me too well. Unfortunately I threw that all out before I hatched this ingenious plan.
The key here is that my kids are very HAPPY with this year's plan, they are enjoying the Bible verses & we have no fighting over yucky chocolate. Works for ME!!!
Be sure to check out Works for Me Wednesday over at Rocksinmydryer.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday--Nut Breads for Christmas gifts!

It's already the second week in December. Wow, the time is sure flying. I've been meaning to get started on making some nutbreads for gift giving. I've also been meaning to use up the fresh pumpkin that is sitting in a ziplock bag in my fridge. Today's the day!!!

Here is the recipe from my post over at Large Family Cooking.
I only have 2 mini loaf pans & since I was on a roll, I decided to make pumpkin muffins out of the rest of the first batch. I made 12 regular muffins

2 mini loaves and 6 bigger muffins with 1/2 cup of raisins added into their batter.

cooking time for the regular muffins was 20 minutes & the cooking time for the mini loaves & the bigger muffins was 35 minutes!

The puree in the ziplock bag was from one not very big pumpkin, I am amazed that there were 6 cups of puree!!! All together I ended up with 8 mini loaves, 12 regular muffins, 6 bigger muffins with raisins & 2 pumpkin pies!!!!! The kids will make short work of the muffins & the pies. Poor Hubby doesn't like pumpkin, I guess I need to get busy making something special for him next.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Music Monday-The Christmas Carol Edition 1

Christmas Carols are one of my all time favorite things about Christmas. As I get older, I find that the ones that are about the TRUE meaning of Christmas bring me the most happiness. Loreena McKennitt is an artist that Hubby & I both adore. All her music is beautiful, but her Christmas songs have that extra spark that makes them required listening in our home. I've always liked this song, she does an amazing job with it!!!

Thank you to my friend Janet for starting this today....it was just what I needed to brighten my day!

Loreena McKennitt-God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Advent Lessons and Carols

Tonight at church, we had a special Advent service. My Mom is here and wasn't feeling like going, so the 3 yr old stayed home with her. The 8 yr old & 10 yr old have been practicing for weeks to be ready for this special night & were very excited that Daddy was going to be able to attend. They sing in the kids choir every Sunday morning, but tonight the kids choir had three songs that they sang all by themselves. I think the oldest child in the kids choir is only about 12 & one song was entirely in Latin....it was both impressive & beautiful.

The logistics of getting everyone there were complicated. 18 yr old had to be at work at 4. 8yr old and 10 yr old had to be at church to get into their robes by 4:45 and then I had to get to Hubby's work to pick him up by 5. It was a bit on the frantic side, but I managed it all & Hubby, Baby Daughter & I were even on time for the 5:30 start.

This is the first time I have ever been to a service like this. There were at least 7 bible readings, no sermon and lots & lots of singing. Baby Daughter is still under the weather, so she nursed most of the time. After the service there was a very nice reception in the parish hall.

Getting dinner made & eaten and the kids to bed on time was a challenge. Everyone is sleeping soundly now & tomorrow will be another busy day.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I was TRICKED

Let me start out by saying I do really LOVE Tennessee. However, I am not much of a cold weather fan. When Hubby & I made the huge decision to leave Central California and move, we looked very carefully at all the places we were considering & one of the reasons we chose the exact location we did in Tennessee was because it's average winter highs and lows were almost identical to the average winter highs & lows of the city we were leaving.

I lived in the California Central Valley for 30 yrs. We got actual snow ONCE in those 30 yrs. I can count on one hand the number of times we got snow flurries. The week after Christmas in 1990, the temperatures were in the teens all week & our pipes froze, but it had never happened before.

The website we consulted told us that the average winter low in our California town was 38 and the average winter low for our new Tennessee town was 36....only a two degree difference. The average high for both was 46. Sounds like a good match on the computer screen, but now that we are starting our 4th year here I see that looking at averages can be a very flawed way to determine what the ACTUAL weather is like.

Our California winters were cold, rainy, grey & foggy. The cold was a damp wet cold that soaks into your bones & makes you feel like you will never be warm again. It would rain for weeks at a time & everything would be covered in mud starting in October or November. Some years you wouldn't see the sun for a month or more. When it wasn't grey & raining it was so foggy you could barely see the front of your own car while driving. We didn't have snow or ice delays, we had FOG delays and even a few FOG days in particularly bad years. I remember one Christmas that the temperature was in the upper 60's & we took pictures of ourselves opening presents at the park in shorts to taunt our New Jersey relatives....but usually it got cold & wet and then stayed that way until mid March.

Tennessee winters are FROZEN....it is a dry cold & doesn't sink into your bones in the same way as the dampness, but it is soooo much colder. We frequently have ice on our car that won't let us open the doors in the mornings, the roads are icy & snow flurries are so frequent they are no longer even worth mentioning. We have to leave the water dripping in our bathrooms to prevent the pipes from freezing & the pipes outside the house are all wrapped in thick foam stuff to keep them insulated against the cold. The most actual snow fall we've had was about 2 inches the first year we were here, but it is early in the season this year & a BIG snow has been predicted before the season is over. Every year we've been here we've had at least a week when the HIGH temperature didn't get out of the mid teens. Night time temps frequently dip below 10. But every year we've also had a week or two in January or February when the temperatures suddenly jump into the mid 70's and the night time temps are in the 50's or even 60's....those dramatic swings must skew the average. Spring is not predictable here either. Some weeks will be nice and warm with temps in the 50's & 60's but just when you think it's ok to pack up the winter coats & gloves it will suddenly drop back into the 30's or even 20's for a week or more just to keep you on your toes.

I don't miss damp, grey, foggy winters, but I do wish it wasn't quite soooo cold here. Thinking about it, weather is one of those things I seem to rant about the most. Be warned when summer gets here I'm sure to rant about the horrid humidity.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Winter depression is trying really hard to sink in

Winter is my least favorite season & due to finances Christmas has ceased to be my favorite holiday. It seems I never have the money to buy the things people in my life want. Lately, I have trouble having the money for things like heat & gas for the van to get hubby back & forth to work, so where exactly money for gifts & donations to strangers & food for all the food drives is supposed to come from is beyond me. Even the kids are not enjoying the build up to Christmas as much as usual because they have been warned not to expect much under the tree. It is hard to find meaningful or significant gifts on our current budget. Maybe if I were a crafty person I could MAKE gifts, but sadly that is not a skill I possess.

The cold, gray, damp weather really doesn't help my mood, neither does the sick baby who not only is teething, but is also still fighting the stomach bug that the rest of the kids had earlier in the week. I need a break in a big way & it is not going to happen.

I'm trying to get started on decorating for Christmas. Unfortunately, even that is being depressing this year.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday.... Carpet in the Dining Room with kids

First of all, let me say that I do not own the house I live in and if I did, I would just rip out the dining room carpet. Since the house is a rental, we are limited in our options. My solution was to buy a cheap 9X6 rug at Walmart & put it under the dining room table. This is the only table we eat at, so with a 1 yr old & 3 yr old a LOT of food seems to end up on the floor. The rug protects the carpet, it's easier to clean, it's much darker than the carpet and if there is a MAJOR spill I can roll it up and take it outside to clean it. This rug is saving not only the landlords carpet, but a bit of my sanity as well.

Check out the other great tips on this weeks WFMW.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I'm back!!!

No, I wasn't on vacation or even too busy with the holiday. Our internet was down for a WEEK.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More about my cloth diaper obsession

Baby daughter loves her cloth diapers! I love them too. I do spend money on them, but only when I've got it & find an irresistable deal. I discovered Kelly's Closet a while back when they had a great free shipping deal. I also discovered their blog & have been loyally following it ever since.

My current strategy when considering purchasing another diaper has been to get one size or adjustable, that is neutral colored or natural. Baby Daughter's diapers will still be in very usable condition when she is totally potty trained & it will be really nice to pass them down.....that will be a HUGE cost savings.

There are contests going on all the time all over the blogasphere & whenever they involve baby or kid stuff that interests me I try to enter. I have not won anything yet, but I'm very hopeful about the chance to win the latest Cloth Diaper Whisperer drawing. I have NEVER bought that many diapers at once & it would be such a thrill to win. Of course pretty much every person who has a child in cloth diapers is also trying to win, so I know my chances are rather slim.

Ultimate Fluff Friday

If you have a baby or know somebody who is having a baby soon, I highly recommend checking out both the blog & the online store!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Have you heard about this?

Ultimate Fluff Friday

My favorite online cloth diaper store is having a GREAT giveaway!!! I would LOVE to win all this stuff for Baby Daughter. She is now totally in cloth, it is amazing to me how much money we are saving. She will probably potty train by Summer, but she may not be our last.....maybe she will have a younger sibling eventually to pass these down.

I have more to say about this, but I'm going to spread it out over a couple days to get some extra entries to the contest.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why is it so hard to find a simple baby doll with HAIR?

My 3 yr old LOVES baby dolls. She would like a baby doll that closes it's eyes when it is "sleeping", takes a bottle or pacifier & has HAIR. I would like a doll that costs less than $20. I have looked & looked & looked. Dolls that close their eyes when they "sleep" are few & far between now days & the ones I can find are all either totally bald or have painted on hair. She got a Dora doll that closes her eyes, for her birthday, but it is not a BABY.....she wants a baby. I'm seriously considering this fisher price doll

It makes noises, takes a bottle & pacifier & turns it's head, but unfortunately it doesn't close it's eyes & it has no hair.

Another that I'm considering is this Fisher Price doll.She has hair, she says her ABC's & plays games, but she doesn't take a bottle & doesn't sleep. She is also over the $20 budget.

Fortunately, the 8 yr old & the 1 yr olds were easy this year. I'm struggling a bit on this doll thing for the 3 yr old, but also procrastinating so that I don't have to even think about how difficult it is going to be to shop for the 10 yr old, the 18 yr old & the 21 yr old.....boys stop being easy when they outgrow trucks & move into the "everything must be electronic" phase. Plus they can all read & know way more than I do about computers, so I can't even ask for help when it comes to finding things for them.

Anyone have any good doll suggestions?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Well, I guess snow flurries are pretty....

The kids were very excited to see it snowing. I was very happy to see it melt as soon as it hit the ground. It has been very cold, but fortunately there doesn't seem to have been enough moisture for much snow. We drove past a sign on our way home from church that said the temperature was 38....it felt like 28 to me. I need to remember to take my wool coat to the cleaners tomorrow, I froze in my light jacket today.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cold and Rainy Saturday

The temperature has suddenly turned much colder and it was drizzling as I arrived home from picking hubby up from work. We told the 10 yr old & the 8 yr old that we might get snow tonight.....they were thrilled!!! I wish I shared their enthusiasm, the thought of snow just makes me shiver and think about the mess that will follow.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Operation Christmas Child

This is the week when the boxes are due!!! We ended up making two boxes. Our church blessed the boxes last Sunday, but because of our hectic schedule we forgot to bring them then, so we took them & dropped them off at church yesterday before choir practice. The stack that our church has collected was pretty impressive. I hope they make a difference in the lives of some children this Christmas season.

10 yr old's box is for a boy age 5-9. It has a bar of soap, a cotton washcloth, a toothbrush & toothpaste, a comb, lots & lots of hard candy (mostly lollipops), two packets of hot chocolate powder, a packet of spiced apple cider powder, a Cars mini spiral notebook, colored pencils, regular pencils, stickers, lined index cards & 5 miniature Cars skateboards. It is all small stuff, but it is a nice variety. Hopefully the child who receives it will enjoy these things.

8 yr old's box is for a girl age 5-9. It has a bar of soap, a cotton washcloth, a toothbrush & toothpaste, a comb, hair ties, hair clips, lots & lots of hard candy (mostly lollipops), two packets of hot chocolate powder, a packet of spiced apple cider powder, a Princess mini spiral notebook, colored pencils, regular pencils, stickers, lined index cards & a jump rope. We ran out of ideas & space to put anything else inside, hopefully it will be enjoyed as well.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

Things are hectic here right now. Baby Daughter's baptism was last Sunday. Amazingly she fit into the gown that three of her siblings wore for their baptisms when they were infants. She is very close to 18 months & definitely not on the small side. I didn't get any good pictures. She does love the gown, so I'm hoping to get her to pose for some pictures in the next few days.

My Mom is still here. Organizing is going slowly, but it is progressing. Yesterday we found a house for her to rent that is less than a mile away. It needs work, but it is the kind of work she really enjoys doing. She will have free rein to decorate any way she likes & there is a private yard with lots of trees. Best of all, she got a great deal on the rent in exchange for the work she will be putting in. It is bigger than the apartment she has now, costs less per month & is 2 minutes from my house!!!

Hubby saw the vein Dr today too....yesterday they did an ultrasound of his veins. They have decided he needs a laser procedure that he is a bit squeamish about, but hopefully it won't be too difficult for him & it may actually help a great deal with the problems he's been having. Now we wait to see if the insurance approves the recommended treatment & if the Dr's office can get him scheduled before the end of the year when our insurance carrier is due to change.

Second Son is hopefully registering to start college soon. I need to go with him & find out WHY they are saying he needs remedial English, he passed 4 yrs of high school English, got a decent score on the ACT & he passed the schools English placement test. He can't get a straight answer, so MOM needs to step in & figure out what the problem is. We will also need to finish all the financial aid stuff. He will turn 19 in January, so if he isn't in school full time by then or at least registered, our insurance may drop him.

All the paperwork came this week for the new insurance plan too, now I have to crunch the numbers & figure out which of 3 plans is REALLY the best one for us. Because of merger stuff going on inside the company Hubby works for, this insurance plan is only temporary & I will have to make all these choices again in the Spring for a new plan that will start June 1st. I guess the only consolation in that is that if I screw up the choices for the plan that begins January 1st we only have to live with it for 5 months.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Baptism

Baby Daughter's baptism was this morning. She is almost 18 months and we have been planning on doing it for quite a while. Ideally, I would have liked to do it last year, but our life was too chaotic. We have recently found a new church home & I'm feeling very comfortable & involved there, so the time was right.

She wore the gown that my Mom made by hand for our youngest son. The four youngest have now all worn it. Youngest Son was a little over 7 months old for his baptism & the other girls were 5 months & 3 months respectively when they wore it, it is amazing that it fit. It actually looked like it had been custom made just for her, the sleeves were the perfect length, the hem came to her toes, allowing her to walk without tripping. It truly was perfect.

She did not like having her back to the water as the priest scooped it up & poured it over the back of her head, but other than that, she did very well. Telling us "wet" & feeling her head in amazement after she was handed back. Fortunately, she didn't actually cry.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Unique new punishment

The 8 yr old & the 10 yr old were bickering & fighting all afternoon. They lost their computer privileges for a week, but didn't stop the fighting. Their Grandmother was with them & told them to go to their rooms. The 8 yr old did as she was told, taking her 3 yr old sister with her to play. But the 10 yr old felt the need to be defiant...he refused.

The usual punishments of grounding or taking things away don't seem to be enough to deter misbehavior & defiance in the 10 yr old anymore, so a new punishment was needed. Hmmm, how to impress on him that listening to authority is THE most important of household rules? Well, we decided that it was time for him to learn a new chore. He has had the responsibility of unloading the dishwasher for almost 2 yrs. Tonight he learned to LOAD the dishwasher. He put everything in & then I showed him how to rearrange a few pieces to their appropriate places. His only complaint was that the dirty dishes were slimy...he threw quite a fit about the sliminess, so we decided that he also needed to learn to wash dishes by hand. First he had to take all the dirty dishes out of the sink & stack them, then he had to learn about getting the water to the best temperature, how much soap to put in the sink. He washed the dishes, rinsed the dishes, dried them & put them away. He declared it to be a "fun" chore. Since he likes it so much, he will be keeping it for a while. I guess we'll see if he still considers it fun in a few weeks.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Works for me Wednesday...TOYS that stand the test of time


Like I've said, I've got SIX kids. I LOVE toys. I still have the original Little Tikes Bowling set and the Wee Waffle Blocks & Bucket that were bought for my now 21 yr old son when he was a toddler, I think those toys are older than my 18 yr old son. All my kids have played with & loved them. Soon my granddaughter will be joining in the fun. When my 18 yr old son was about 4, we discovered the Thomas the Train & Brio Wooden Trains. They were quite pricey & we didn't buy many at a time, but over the years we have acquired quite a collection. These get played with frequently & have held up well. We also have a collection of wooden blocks that have been added to over the years, each of my children has loved them for an extended period of time & they are still one of the most popular toys on days when the kids have to play inside.

When my oldest daughter was 2, I found a Fisher Price Doll House at Once Upon a Child (2nd hand store). It came with a bunch of people & accessories. Over the years, we have added more people, vehicles, pets & furniture. She is now 8 and still plays with it. My 3 yr old & 1 yr old play with it almost daily and the neighbor's little girl LOVES it so much her grandparents just bought her one of her own.

When we fall in love with something that is very pricey, I look for it in second hand stores & buy some of the accessories as they go on sale. Over the years we have acquired almost the entire Rescue Hero's set. My youngest son is now 10 & doesn't play with them anymore, but my 3 yr old is just discovering it & I think they will soon be one of her favorite toys. Fisher Price seems to have discontinued the line.

I try to buy toys that can be added to, that are very sturdy & that allow for lots of imagination. The toys I've listed have certainly lived up to our family's needs in all these areas.

Monday, November 3, 2008

No school because of the election?

I found out this afternoon after the kids got out of school that there is no school tomorrow. Most of the schools in our county are polling places, so for the convenience of the adults, the kids all get the day off. I guess this is such an ingrained thing here that nobody thought it was necessary to notify parents. It's a good thing I'm a stay at home Mom....otherwise, I'd be hunting for last minute childcare.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

And now it is NOVEMBER!

Wow, that month of October just flew by. I LOVE the Fall time change....in the mornings, but when it starts getting dark at 5:30, I remember why I'm not a fan. The extra hour of sleep this morning was really nice, but it isn't even 8:30 yet & I'm ready to go to sleep.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Mom is coming to stay for a couple weeks

My Mom lives about an hour and a half away. She moved to Tennessee to be near us the year after we moved here. She doesn't drive anymore, so when we want to spend time together it usually means that I go pick her up & bring her to our house for an extended stay. She and I are working on finding a place for her to move closer to where I live. She is retired & is free to move around, but she has a limited income, finding a good fit has been difficult.

I have Catechesis training this Saturday and she will watch the kids for me. We are hopefully going to work on some organizing things around the house next week & then on Nov 9th, Baby Daughter is being baptized. My Mom will be one of the God Parents. After that, we will start getting ready for Thanksgiving. By that time, it will almost be time for my December Catechesis training, she may just stay for the whole month.

She is supposed to be spending Christmas in California with my brother, it will be nice to get to spend some time together before she goes away. I think she will probably be in California for about a month too. Maybe by the time she gets back we will have found a place for her closer to my house.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Come see what you think

I have changed my background!!! Thanks to Janet for her comment on my request for HELP!!! I was pretty sure I had tried that suggestion previously, but now I think I must not have saved after making the change last time.

This is such a FUN Halloween background. I just love it, but of course I'll have to pick a new background on Saturday. Suggestions gratefully accepted!!!

Can somebody help me.....

I would LOVE to give my blog a renovation. I do not have the foggiest idea how to do it. I have seen the lovely sites offering free templates, but when I tried one, my columns did not line up onto the template.

I'm technologically challenged when it comes to stuff like this. Pink is my favorite color. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We had snow flurries this morning...

Ack!!! It isn't even November yet & I'm NOT in an area that gets much snow even during the winter, so it was a bit disconcerting to see the flurries as they fluttered to the ground. I do have to say they were pretty!! People are saying we are in for a long, cold winter. The next 6 months should be interesting.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Did you LOVE felt board stories when you were a kid?

I have always LOVED felt board stories. I can remember listening/watching them in Sunday School when I was 4 or 5....they were always my favorite part. I also remember going to Story Time in the library and there would always been at least one story on the felt board...it would be my favorite every time!!

When my oldest two were little, I would take them to the library for storytime & they soon shared my LOVE of the felt board. When I started teaching Sunday school & helping at vacation Bible school, the felt board was always how I wanted to tell my stories. I even bought a small one with a set of Blues Clues felt characters for my daycare when my middle kids were babies. It was expensive & the quality wasn't great, but we all LOVED using it to tell stories.

Today I happened on a contest for a gift certificate to a company that sells felt sets. They are very impressive sets. I'm hoping to win the gift certificate!!! But if I don't, I will probably still be purchasing this set for my youngest two for Christmas. I'm impressed with how reasonable the prices are & the quality looks fantastic!!!

If you loved felt stories when you were a kid, you need to check out this company!!!!

Update.....I found another contest. They are giving away one of the felt paper dolls!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm thinking about giving up disposables completely

This has been on my mind for a while. Currently, Baby Daughter only wears a disposable diaper to church on Sunday. She is only 17 months old, so not quite ready for potty training. It seems like such a waste to buy disposable diapers and since I'm almost completely out, I'm thinking NOW is the time to try an All in One or a pocket diaper.

Nobody warned me about how addictive cloth diapers can be. I started out using simple contour diapers, but I couldn't help but look around at all the options. I hate velcro and I'm not fooled by them calling it a hook & loop closure or aplix or anything else. The sound it makes when you open it grates on my nerves. Baby Daughter would have a field day stripping them off & running around naked. Fortunately, there are many diapers available with snaps. I have bought one of just about every fitted diaper I could find. They all work great around the house & even out in the car during the day. Most nights she wears a fitted diaper to bed with an extra soaker. The only slightly inconvient part about them is that they require a seperate cover. The added step of putting on a cover is more than Hubby can handle. This makes me think that the added step of a seperate cover would likely be too much for the church nursery as well. The All in Ones did not initially appeal to me because they take a lot longer to dry & they are pricey. I've heard really good things about Fuzzibunz pocket diapers, and since they are all one piece once you stuff them, I'm thinking they might be a workable solution for Baby Daughter to wear in the church nursery. Buying two of them will cost me almost as much as a months supply of disposables, but it could mean I never have to buy anymore disposables, EVER!!

I've been reading a blog called The Clothdiaper Whisperer, I can really relate. It is kind of nice to see that I'm not the only one who was slow to convert to cloth. I haven't seen any posts about addiction yet, but I'm sure they will get around to addressing that too. Her store has a special package where I can get two Fuzzibunz and 4 inserts to stuff them with for $35.90 & they are having FREE SHIPPING on everything at the moment, I'm very tempted.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to ME!!!

Today is my birthday. It has been a very nice day. My oldest called & sang Happy Birthday to me over the phone. The other kids and Hubby all wished me a Happy Birthday through out the day & the 10 yr old, 8 yr old & 3 yr old baked me a CAKE!!! The 18 yr old took me out to lunch to my favorite restaurant and I got to meet his girlfriend for the first time. She is very nice.

While I was taking the 10 yr old & 8 yr old to choir practice, Hubby found a recipe online for butter cream frosting & made frosting for my cake!!! My oldest is bringing Granddaughter over in a few minutes & we will all eat my wonderful cake together. I'm feeling very spoiled.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'm a convert....I'm loving cloth diapers

In July, I decided that I needed to find a way to reduce the amount of money I was spending on diapers every month. My 5th child had just finished potty training and the savings from not buying pull-ups anymore really took me by surprise. I started thinking about how I could cut back on the $40 per month I was still spending to diaper Baby Daughter. I had switched from Pampers to Luvs a few months before, but that only saved me about $10 per month.....not enough to help much.

I've looked into cloth diapers a few times in the past. I actually seriously considered them with my first, but we didn't have a reliable washing machine & the thought of hauling diapers to the laundromat really didn't appeal to me. When my second came along, I was so busy figuring out how to rangle a newborn and a toddler I didn't even give it a thought. Eight years later when I was expecting number three, I briefly considered cloth again. I did now have a reliable washer & dryer at home, but I was going back to work after the baby was born & didn't need the added work. I ended up quitting my job to start a daycare business in my home. I looked into cloth again, but the millions of choices and the expense of getting started really discouraged me. Life was stressful and money was tight when number four arrived, but the memory of the expense of buying cloth diapers to get started kept me from giving it a try. When number 5 came along, I was working long hours & had her with me in the car all day most days, cloth never crossed my mind. As she got older and my schedule lightened up, I started checking out starter packages on cloth diaper websites. I asked my friends for advice & I thought about switching. Then number six was born & I was once again thrown into the craziness of trying to meet the needs of a newborn & a toddler. The idea of cloth & of at least using it to supplement was still in the back of my mind, but it was over a year before I took the plunge.

I researched online & decided the Kissaluv contours looked like a good diaper to start with. Amazon sells them, but by the time I added shipping it seemed pretty pricey, so I looked around & found a local store that sells them. She is only open a couple days a week & finding the store the first time was definitely an adventure, but it was totally worth it!!! I bought six to start & two covers with the intention of putting them on Baby Daughter at times of the day when she wouldn't normally poop. They worked GREAT & the covers were amazing. Next I went to Baby's R Us and bought a dozen Gerber prefolds and a 6 pack of traditional rubber pants and two packages of traditional diaper pins. I started putting two prefolds in a cover for night time & it worked GREAT!!! Within less than a week I had almost stopped using any disposables. I found that I could handle a once per day poop and it wasn't the end of the world I had previously imagined it would be. I had to wash them everyday to not run out though, so I decided we needed to find a creative way to add to our diaper supply.

A couple of ladies I met on a message board suggested making my own diapers. I am not a crafty person, but my Mother has a sewing machine & will usually sew just about anything I want as long as I cut it out. I got together a bunch of old flannel receiving blankets and some fleece baby blankets we don't need anymore and used the kissaluv as a basic pattern. The outside of the diapers is fleece, the inside is flannel and we made a soaker to sew in that has a layer of flannel, a layer of fleece & then a layer of old towel for absorbency. In one day we cut out & sewed 17 of these homemade diapers!!! I now had plenty to get me through 3 days or more without running out.


We have fallen into a really easy routine. I have a bucket in the laundry room with a locking lid. I put the dirty diapers in it after each change & when it is full, I do a load of diaper laundry. I have an HE front loading washer, so I do a cold soak cycle, then a hot wash with a small amount of soap & then a second quick hot wash with white vinegar instead of soap. They come out super clean. Because none of my diapers are more than 3 layers thick, they also dry pretty fast in the dryer. My washer & dryer are pretty energy efficient & I haven't noticed any change in my utility bills since switching to cloth.

I was surprised at how quickly the cloth diapers became routine for our whole family. Baby Daughter now only wears a disposable on Sunday mornings for the Church nursery. She fusses when I put it on her & as soon as we are home from Church she is pulling at it wanting to change into one of her "regular" diapers. She definitely prefers the cloth diapers. I told a friend recently that I really wish I had taken this plunge at least one baby ago....it's not hard & I'm saving soooo much money. I did spend about $100 in the first two months getting to the point where I had enough diapers & covers to last several days without washing, but I no longer have to budget every month for disposables. I may have to buy a small package in November because I've nearly run out of "Church" diapers, but the last time I bought any was July, so that's not too bad.

I've picked up a couple fitted diapers recently & am considering trying a pocket diaper, but I'll write about that another day....this got much longer than I had intended.

A visit from Granddaughter!!!

My oldest son, his wife & daughter live less than 20 minutes away, but because of conflicting schedules and all our crazy busy lives we are lucky if we see them twice a month. Last night they dropped by for a little visit and we took a few pictures. Granddaughter is getting sooooo BIG.










CLR Tackle it Tuesday

This was a lot of FUN!!! This is my first time participating in Tackle it Tuesday. I signed up at the beginning of October to receive the CLR Bath & Kitchen Multi-Surface Cleaner spray. It arrived a few days later & I've been thinking about what to do with it ever since.


After reading the label, I decided that the inside of my ancient dishwasher was a really good first project. The pictures on the left are the before & the ones on the right are the after.






































It worked really well on the lime/calcium build-up. It also did a fantastic job on the dirt on the outside of the dishwasher, but I don't have a picture for that. I was surprised how quickly it worked. Another plus is that it doesn't have an overpowering smell. It took very little to clean my whole dishwasher inside and out. The 26 oz bottle will probably last me at least 6 months.


My next project is to use it on the soap scum in my fiberglass tub....I can't wait to see if the CLR can actually get it back to the original white.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Music Monday

Stef over at My Love Knot is having Music Monday. This is my first time participating. She always has very inspirational songs. Today, the kids are home on Fall Break, so I asked them to help me find a GREAT song.....here's what they came up with. Of course the 8 yr old wasn't in agreement, so here is her choice. They are both very upbeat & FUN. Maybe next week I'll come up with something on my own.

It's Fall Break here.....

Fall Break is something new for us. When we moved to Tennessee in 2004, we didn't arrive until November. But the next year we were presented with a new holiday break we never even knew existed. In the middle of October the schools are closed for a full week....they call this Fall Break. It is kind of like Christmas Vacation & Easter Vacation, but there is no holiday associated with it.





Today some of the kids went down the street & picked apples from a neighbors tree. He told us in early September that we were welcome to pick as many as we like. The 10 yr old climbed high into the tree & passed them down to the 8 yr old, while the 3 yr old put them into a basket. They came home with 19 apples and are now busily peeling them in hopes that I will make them an apple pie.

Update.....They didn't get a pie, but I did make an apple crisp with no oatmeal (10 yr old doesn't eat Oatmeal)....it came out quite yummy!!! And there are still enough apples left for a pie.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's FALL!!!



The kids had a blast yesterday raking up leaves into huge piles like this one & then jumping in them. The rain we got on Friday has had a dramatic cooling effect on our temperatures. We're all in long sleeves & I've broken out the down comforters. I'm trying not to turn on the heat for a while longer.


The little ones are especially happy to finally be able to wear their sweaters & turtlenecks.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cuteness


My baby is getting sooooo BIG!!!







And the 3 yr old is not a baby anymore at all.....look how big she's gotten.







Friday, October 17, 2008

Report Card Day

The first 9 wks of school is over & the kids brought home their report cards today. They both did very well. All A's in behavior. All A's & high B's in their subjects & both were rated above grade level in reading. The 8 yr old's teacher says she is a pleasure to have in class. The 10 yr old's teacher didn't write any comments. They didn't miss any days & they weren't tardy even once. This is the first year in quite some time that we have only had two kids in school.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rotten day....

Thursday is usually Hubby's day off. But today, he had a conference for work. Of course I thought he had to actually go to his office, but he didn't tell me that until we were in the car. Traffic was heavy & the off ramp we needed was closed due to an accident. I didn't get as much sleep as I had hoped for & I was cranky. Hubby only gets one day off this week because of the conference & so he was cranky.

The 1 yr old is cranky because of teething. The 3 yr old is cranky because the sky is overcast & her friend next door doesn't seem to be home. The 8 yr old came home in a "mood"...she was complaining to herself outside before she even got in the door. Seems she didn't sleep well last night & thinks something is wrong with her tonsils. She took her temperature and when she didn't find a fever immediately asked to go outside & play with her friends.....at least her crankiness was short lived.

The 10 yr old was no where in sight when I arrived at school to pick him up from his after school orchestra practice. He came out of the building a few minutes later & informed me that he is in trouble because I "take so long" to come pick him up. The schedule was changed last week or the week before & he now gets out at 3:30 instead of 3:45 & since all us parents are such good mind readers the school didn't feel the need to inform us about the change, but they did send a note to all parents today reprimanding us for not picking our children up "promptly" and informing us that if we need after school care there is a cost of $25 per hour for drop in care at the school's program. If I fail to pick him up promptly anymore, he was told, they will drop him from the orchestra program. Playing the viola is also challenging for him. He thinks he is the only one who cannot hold the bow properly & he is upset because one of the cello students dropped out & now there are 23 violins, 5 violas and 3 cellos.......the violins will surely drown everyone else out. He's only been playing for about 3 weeks. We've payed the rental on his instrument through the end of November, so the plan at the moment is for him to stick it out at least until then & we will talk again about how it is going & whether he wants to continue. Things in his classroom were difficult today too....they have a new seating arrangement, he is now sitting in a group with his 3 least favorite classmates. He is supposed to turn in the money to be able to participate in the class Halloween party tomorrow.....we don't have the money this week.

Next week is Fall Break....the kids will be out of school for a whole week, I'm sooooo ready!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Operation Christmas Child

My 8 yr old & 10 yr old belong to a service club at our church. Their current service project is Operation Christmas Child. The kids are very excited about it.
Last month their group had a bake sale to raise the money needed to "ship" the shoe boxes of gifts. A fee of $7 per box is required for each & every one. To me, this seems like a lot.

We saw the specialist today...

Hubby and I sat in the waiting room with the 1 yr old & the 3 yr old for over 90 minutes before he was finally called for his appointment. Of course the 1 yr old rescheduled her poop for the day to coincide with us being out in public & the office had no changing table in their restroom. Have I told you how much I've been LOVING having her in cloth diapers? Well, today wouldn't be a good day to talk about it, since it is the very first time I've had to bring home a yucky diaper in a plastic bag.

When we finally got into the exam room, a very nice nurse asked us the usual questions & assured us that the Dr would be in to see us soon. Much to our surprise, he actually showed up less than 5 minutes later. He agreed with the diagnosis we received from the Dr we saw on Monday & explained the next few steps that will help us figure out the extent of the problem & what our treatment options will be. For now we are to basically do nothing. We go back for some tests on November 11th & then see him for the results the following day. Prayers that this will not require surgery would be greatly appreciated, Hubby really doesn't like the idea of surgery.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Whew!!! No poison ivy

We all seem to have escaped the itchies!!! The slight itchiness on Sunday was either all in our heads or very tiny mosquito bites....we are a rash free household!!!

We are of course now dealing with our first round of "Fall colds". It could be seasonal allergies, we are all stuffy & cranky, the baby especially. Doesn't help that she is also STILL teething. She is now 17 months old & barely has 9 teeth. Since I haven't kept very detailed records of the other kids, I can't tell you for sure how that compares to her siblings, but my foggy mind believes that only ONE other child has been this slow to get teeth.

Hubby had a good Dr visit today. He has been dealing with unexplained swelling in his feet & lower legs for several years. We have been to many Dr's, had many tests with no definitive diagnosis & no workable treatment. Hubby is the typical man who only agrees to go to the Dr when he believes that his life might be in danger. Last week his legs starting blistering for no known reason....he paniced & agreed to let me try ANOTHER Dr. The Dr we saw today was a foot & ankle specialist. He took one look & gave a diagnosis that actually sounds plausible & much to Hubby's delight it is not FATAL (my delight as well, I can assure you). The Dr wrote prescriptions to deal with toenail fungus & foot fungus & gave us instructions on how to deal with that & then he secured an appointment for Hubby to be seen this coming Wednesday (yes, this WEEK) with a vein specialist. I'm especially happy with how quickly he will be seeing the next Dr, it gives almost no time for Hubby to decide he is "fine" and cancel. We're hoping treatment will not require surgery, but if it does at least we have insurance.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why do we start to itch at the first thought of having contracted something ITCHY?

Argh!!! The 10 yr old & the 8 yr old went on a fun trip to a corn maze on Saturday morning with their youth choir from church. When they returned all the families gathered for an informal cookout at the fire pit on the hill above the church parking lot. It is a very nice camp groundy (I know I'm making up new words again) area with a very woodsy feel. The 3 yr old & the 1 yr old ran loose through the brush with the bigger kids & since it was a sweltering 85 degrees, they were in shorts. Then it happened, the choir director casually mentioned that we should be cautious because poison ivy could be growing in that brush.

EEEK!!! I instantly retrieved all my children & forced them to sit roasting marshmellows next to the campfire, but it was probably too late. We left a short time later & I washed everyones hands with sanitizing wipes. Then washed the little ones legs & arms with another wipe, being careful not to contaminate from one to the next. Then I used different wipes to wash my own face, arms & legs....just in case even though I hadn't gone anywhere near the brush. I was itching worse than when the word lice gets mentioned in hushed tones. I tried really hard to convince myself that it was all in my imagination, but since I am one of those people who can get poison ivy from walking near a wooded area on a windy day, I was pretty sure we would all be painted bright pink with calomine before night fall.

As soon as we got home, the babies went in the tub. All their clothes went in the wash. Next I took a shower & put my clothes in the wash. I used the most drying soap I could find in the house, now I'm not sure if my itching & little red patches are from the drying soap or poison ivy...of course it could still all be my imagination. Time will tell.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm feeling very cranky about money today

we are currently renting a house that barely meets our needs. There is not enough space for all our "stuff" & I'm not one of those people who enjoy parting with their stuff. The two car garage has no room for cars & I'm feeling totally unmotivated to even attempt to organize let alone purge anything.

Back to the money thing. When you apply for a mortgage they tell you that you can't spend more than 30% of your income on housing, now I realize this is GROSS income, but even so, 30% really doesn't seem like much. We currently pay 54% of the money we actually see each month just for the rent. Utilities account for at least another 25% which leaves us with about 20% for everything else including food & gas for our only running vehicle.

Our lease is up in December & we may have to move again....I'm not sure how we would manage a new security deposit & the expenses of moving, but I've started praying NOW that if we are going to move again it will be to a place that better meets our needs & is more affordable. We somehow managed to only move twice the whole time our oldest was in school, but we have now moved more in the last 4 yrs than we did in the previous 15 yrs.

Have I ever told you that I HATE moving?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I HATE school fundraisers

My oldest daughter came home all upset today because I hadn't purchased anything in her recent school fundraiser. Her classmates who did sell things received their trinkets today & she was beside herself because she didn't receive them too. I know the school feels it needs more money than it receives in the budget, but making kids sell "junk" to make up for that short fall just seems soooo WRONG to me.

In years past, I have bought at least one thing from each child in the house who is selling something for school, but this year the money is too tight & we really didn't need a coupon book packed with coupons for places we can not afford to go. The schools pitch is that for the $10 paid for the book you will receive $1600 worth of coupons. The problem for me is to receive these "offers" you invariably have to buy something...something that I have eliminated from our budget due to necessity. Try explaining that one to an 8 yr old.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Handy Mommy...

My 3 yr old occasionally watches Handy Manny on Disney channel, it is not one of my favorite shows and I try to avoid it. Yesterday, I got to be Handy Mommy.

The kids computer has been on the fritz for at least a week. Since mine died last month, that left us with only one computer in the house that could connect to the internet & that is not a pretty picture in a house full of internet addicts. Last night after dinner, I ran a diagnostic on the wireless connection & suddenly got a connection. Yay!!! But within 3 minutes the connection was lost & rerunning the diagnostic did nothing to get it back. I sent one of the kids to find an ethernet cable and started trying to figure out how we would get the DSL modem close enough to the computer to use the cable. Then I had a brainstorm....maybe the antenna on the wireless card really was the problem. (one of the babies had pulled the cover off it last week just before we lost internet). We have boxes of old computer junk in our garage, so I went looking for a compatible antenna. First I tried the router, two antennas, but they don't come off. Next, I found an old DSL modem in the garage & while the antenna was shorter, the connection was compatible & it WORKED!!!!

Later, when the kids were getting ready for bed I told the 10 yr old to help the 3 yr old get her teeth brushed. He started screaming for me to come into the bathroom. It seems the 3 yr old had forced her toothbrush down the drain. She is obsessed with brushing her teeth & was very upset that we couldn't get it for her. I sent them all to bed & after they were asleep, I got a wire coat hanger to see if I could fish it out. No luck. Hubby was sure we were going to need a plumber. We can't afford a plumber, so I unscrewed the pipe & out popped 2 toothbrushes. The pipe is pvc, so I just put it back on & screwed the pieces together. I ran the water for a couple minutes & was very pleased that it didn't leak. The toothbrushes went in the outside garbage & the 3 yr old will have to wait until Friday to get a new toothbrush, she's devastated....hopefully she won't put anything else down the drain.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It's October already....

Wow, sometimes I just don't know where time went. I've been busy, but not THAT busy. For some reason the fact that it is OCTOBER already really snuck up on me. I'm struggling with a lot of things right now and it being October just makes that so much worse.

I'm trying really hard to get connected with people in real life and get things accomplished on a daily basis. My Mom was here over the weekend to watch the kids while I went to my Catechesis training on Saturday. She wanted to go home on Sunday, but we had a full day of activities to accomplish for the kids at church & I just couldn't find the energy to make the 3 hr round trip drive to take her home Sunday night. I spent most of my day on Monday taking her home, nothing else worthwhile got accomplished and I didn't even get a nap.

I'm fighting a depression right now and of course my Mom's answer was that I should talk to a Dr & get on an anti-depressant. I know prozak has saved my mother's life, but it is not for me. I have valid reasons to feel depressed and I need to be allowed to work through those things on my own terms. Going on medication is not going to help me have more money for utilities and groceries, it won't get our second car running & it won't magically get my laundry done or my dishwasher unloaded. Yes, I'm crying more than my mother is comfortable with, but crying is one of my only outlets for my frustration. I would LOVE to be able to stay in bed for days at a time like she did when I was a kid, but I don't have that luxury, my kids and hubby need me to cook for them, clean the house & transport them everywhere all day long. If I don't do these things, nobody else will & the whole family will suffer. If I get to the point that I am not able to meet my families daily needs, I will talk to a Dr, but for now, I am functioning just fine & she will have to accept that I do have emotions & do feel the need to cry when the frustration is overwhelming.

Our Rector talked about how tough the economy is now, in Church on Sunday and about how those who were having a rough time needed to speak up & allow the church to help them. I am one of those people who is having a very rough time, but I'm not ready to admit defeat and ask for help yet. What he was saying hit home so hard for me that I had to leave the service and miss the sermon to get my emotions under control. I truly feel invisible most days in regard to how tough things are financially. I am sure that nobody who knows Hubby or I would ever consider that we may be struggling. All I can do at this point is keep praying and hope that next month will be better.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm having fun with this.....

I've started a food blog. Anytime I ask Hubby what he would like to eat, he says "food". So that is what I titled my blog. I had thought about writing down family recipes for a while & just never seem to get around to it. But now, I have this new project/hobby. Not only am I writing down the recipes I have stored in my brain, but I am also saving them somewhere that I can tell people to visit when they ask me "can I get this recipe?" I haven't been very good about sharing my recipes with people, not because I like to be secretive, but mostly because I don't tend to use written recipes for most stuff. I have had quite a few people compliment me on the things I make & have even won several church chili cookoffs with my Chili Verde. I'm going to be contributing to the Lots of Kids Large Family Cooking blog too, that should be fun.


Hubby tried to talk me into making an actual cookbook at one point, but I've worked on several of those as fundraisers for various kid projects in the past & although it was fun to compile all the recipes it was also a HUGE pain & never seemed to generate the revenue enough revenue to justify all the work it took.

I'm also enjoying all the different challenge themes. I discovered a new one today, it is Tackle it Tuesday. I don't have anything to post for it this week, but I joined the CLR challenge they have coming up & I'm hoping to tackle rearranging my bedroom in time to post it next Tuesday.
I need to get one of our digital cameras reliably working and remember to charge the batteries.....I LOVE to take pictures & everytime I write something I think about how great it would be to post a picture with it, but saddly it seems that lately I never seem to have the pictures I want when I need them.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I'm still alive!!!

Wow, it's been a while since I've had time to write anything. I started out really well that first week, but as usually happens in my life, things got busy & I just didn't find the time.


So, what have I been up to? Well, Baby Daughter was sick with a cold & since she is such an adorable (& spoiled) kid, everyone else had to take their turn in sharing her cold. Hubby went back to work on Friday, not quite 100%, but definitely better. Nobody else missed any work or school, they just suffered through it.


Our 11 yr old vacuum died & I bought a new one. We are all really impressed by how much they have changed over the years. I'm not sure I'm going to like it not having a bag, but that does cut out the excuse of not being able to vacuum because we are out of bags. It has several cool features, there is an on-board self cleaning duster, it has a special tool for getting pet hair off the stairs & the furniture & as you can see it is very bright & cheery!!! It was very reasonably priced and in stock at my local WalMart. I don't think I could buy something like a vacuum without seeing it in person. The absolute BEST thing about it is that the kids all think it is cool & have been fighting over who gets to use it first. A friend told me that it is a sign I am getting old that I'm so excited about an appliance. Well, if that is true, I have been OLD for a while. I have a thing for appliances.
I've come up with my plan for this years Christmas presents & am feeling relieved to not have to stress about it anymore. I've even bought a few things already which is HUGE for me, I don't usually start until a week or two before Christmas & then make myself nuts buying everything & getting it wrapped.
There are several things that I've been wanting to write about, hopefully with Hubby back at work this coming week I will find the time to actually do it!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Forgiveness...

Over the last several days I've been thinking a lot about Forgiveness. On Sunday, the sermon at church revolved around it. We had the bible story about how we should not just forgive 7 times, but 77 times or 7 times 70 times (some number that is supposed to mean an infinite number of times was the interpretation). The new priest at our church has a 2 yr old & a 3 yr old & he told about how he & his wife have taught their daughters to always say they are sorry when they hurt each other & to forgive when someone hurts them & says sorry. This was something that really struck me.

Since moving to the South, I have discovered that people here say "sorry" or some other form of apology for just about everything they do. Really, I get soooo tired of having people tell me they are sorry all the time for things that didn't bother me in the first place. I guess it is one of those things that comes from them having been raised to be polite. I was not raised that way & I'm sure it is obvious way too often that I am a RUDE "not from around here" kind of person. I do not apologize for opening doors for others, I do not apologize for taking more than 2 rings to answer the phone at my own home, I do not apologize to the cashiers at the grocery for not bringing in my own cloth bags....there are tons of things I encounter others apologizing for on a daily basis & I often find myself feeling hostile to the chronic apologizers. My youngest son is a chronic apologizer, he also says "Hi, how are you?" everytime he sees you, even if it has only been 5 minutes since the last time he walked past you in the kitchen. I find myself telling him that either he has no REASON to be sorry, or (when there really is a reason & it is the multiple time today that he has done the very same thing & apologized for it) that he needs to STOP doing whatever it is...apologizing is not enough. But I can do this because he is my child, with other people who continually do the same annoying things & apologize only to do it AGAIN, I seem to have no recourse other than to stop being around them. Now, back on track, I find that maybe I am the one who isn't learning the lesson....maybe all the apologizing around me has been targeted at getting me to learn to offer forgiveness.

After the church service on Sunday, I heard several profound stories of forgiveness. The first was about a local pyscologist who's mother was murdered. He later wrote a book about how he forgave the person who killed his mother & how by forgiving him he was able to move forward in his own life. Everyone listening was touched by the story & I heard several mumblings of "I don't know if I could do that".....I think being able to forgive no matter how BIG the wrong is, really is what being a Christian is about. In July, my Oldest son overslept & didn't go to a performance a friend invited him to at his church.....the friend's father was killed when a gunman opened fire during that performance. The members of that church are still struggling with their losses, but many have found it in their hearts to forgive that man and have publicly opposed him facing the death penalty. My son has not reached a point of being able to forgive, but looking back I'm not sure forgiveness was ever one of the things Hubby or I taught our kids.

My friend Stacey who passed away on Friday had many unjust things done to her by people who she trusted. She often came to her friends with tales of the latest injustice & we were always outraged for her, often it seemed even more outraged than she was herself and while we (her friends) have held tightly to these grudges & have talked amongst ourselves about how much we would like the people who wronged her to face some ultimate karmic justice, Stacey found it in her huge heart to forgive them all. She is at peace now and the care of her children is entrusted to people who made choices that hurt Stacey, but hopefully those same people will be influenced for the good by having known and been loved by someone so caring & giving. I am searching my own soul today looking for a way to truly Forgive the injustices done to my friend & I feel like when I find the power within myself to offer that forgiveness I will truly be a better person. Thank you, Stacey!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Granddaughter!!!



Wow!!! I thought my kids were growing up fast, but today my GRANDDAUGHTER is a whole year old!!! She is only 4 months younger than my Baby Daughter, but it just doesn't seem like she should be soooo OLD already. She walks and talks & does all kinds of TODDLER things, which really isn't fair since she is supposed to be a BABY.


Rest in Peace Stacey




Yesterday, something happened that I had dreaded for a very long time, something that I was hoping against hope would NOT happen. My friend Stacey lost her five year battle with brain cancer. She was an inspirational person. Her first battle with cancer was waged while she was pregnant with her 5th child, she stayed strong & fought with all her will, not just for her own life, but for her precious baby. That sweet baby is now a healthy, energetic 5 yr old. Stacey never gave up. She joked about the fact the Dr's had given her a very bleak prognosis. She defied their predictions & because of her strong faith continued on. At one time it appeared she had actually beaten the cancer, but as is so often the case, it came back. She went to college, hoping to one day become a Dr. She went on a mission trip in Mexico with a church group. She endured many adverse situations in her personal life with courage and grace. She was so strong and had fought so hard that when I heard she had been moved to Hospice, I hoped against all odds that she would once again rally and make another miraculous recovery, but sadly it was not to be this time. It makes me so sad to contemplate her dear children having to finish their childhoods without her. Stacey had many friends who loved her dearly and I am proud to be able to say I am one of them.