Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Joy Moments: A mom reflects on birthdays past and present

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I only had one kid {{okay, okay... it wasn't that long ago, I know}}. 

I started the tradition of making her birthday cake.  Every year she asked for another special cake from Mommy.  {{Well, except for this year she designed her own cake and a professional made it for her.  I was ditched.  I know.}}

Then Mommy got a job... a husband... a house to take care of... and two more kids. 

Mommy realized that all of this is a bit overwhelming... and Mommy decided to "say No" to homemade and time-consuming birthday cakes.  {{Silly tradition.}}

Making the type of homemade cakes that I make {{with my little skill}} requires baking the cake two nights before the party and then dedicating an entire evening to decorating the cake on the night before the party.

Making the birthday cake has turned into a joy buster... a total project... that I do NOT have time for... until NOW!

This year, for the first time ever, making the cake was not about doing something crafty or fulfilling an obligation... it was a labor of love.  {{Thank you Moms Club for this insight.}}  As I piped every little dot and squiggle {{squiggle = technical term... hahahaha}}, I thought about loving him and all of the little things he does that make me laugh and smile.  It was like four years of DVD replays were turning through my head... the whole time.

Wow!  I didn't know that was going to happen!

So, my project turned into a therapy session.  hahahaha!

What moment of joy surprised you this week?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

It's another birthday

This is the first year that Bro is inviting his friends, not just family, to his birthday party.

He is uber-excited about his Home Depot party.

I NEVER... in ONE MILLION years... thought I would be hosting Home Depot party, but I am.

This is the best party for my helper man.  {{Oh the things we do for our kids.}}

Happy Happy Happy 4th to you my little man!
{{No, that is not a typo - the extra "happy" words are there for emphasis.}}

Yes.  I did a photo shoot IN Home Depot.
Yes.  I am making these little photos for each of the kids' birthdays... as a memory.
Yes.  I know that first word is unreadable (I'm hiding his name for goodness sakes).

If you are thinking about a Home Depot party for the builder in your life, you need to know that only some of the Home Depot stores offer parties and scouting activities.  This is on a case-by-case basis and at the discretion of the manager.

Since I live in the city... we have plenty of Home Depot stores to choose from.  I was confident that we would find one that would let us have a party.

If your local Home Depot does not offer birthday parties, they most likely hold a kids workshop each month and these workshops are equally as hands on and equally as fun.

What is the craziest thing you ever did for one of your kids?
Your spouse?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

buzz... buzz... buzz...

Just the other day I was out shopping for the extras for Bro's Home Depot birthday party.

I buzzed in and out of Michael's craft store;
... in and out of Bath and Body Works (with a HUGE 75% off sale);
... in and out of Party City; and
... in an out of Franklin Toys.

Guess what?  I didn't even buy one thing!  Shouldn't I get some sort of award for that?  I was so proud of myself. 

I did run into this little gem in the toy store (see below).

Check out the new WOW toys toy line.  Have you seen them before?  I have not.  They are just darling!

Look at this pizzeria guy on a motorcycle.  Don't ya just want to take him home?  I do!

Here's another motorbike set.  Look closely. 

Do you see what I see?

The lady is wearing a baby carrier!

Ha!  I love it!

Now... I know what you are thinking... I agree with you... moms don't really ride motorcycles with their babies... I know... but you have to give this company credit for such a cute mom and baby!

What do you think?
Mom with baby in carrier - cute or not cute?

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Here are some outtakes from the family Nativity play this past year.

To set the stage, all of the kids in the whole extended family select costumes and we re-enact Jesus' birth.    Mkay?

So I had to crack up when Bro selected an angel costume...

... and Bri did too... kinda...

... and they posed for some pictures.

I'm being serious here - this IS the best picture of the two of them together.  No lie!

Eventually they had to find some rest before the start of the show.

Bri found refuge in her sister's arms...

... and Bro found a nice cold drink.

SHEW-EE!  Life as an angel is a tough job.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dinosaur terrarium

Dinosaur terrarium... also known as... the best time ever!

Ok... maybe not the best time EVER... but pretty darn fun for a Saturday in January.

We gathered our supplies...

... including the main cast of characters.

Big boy added one layer of rocks.

Here's the preserved sheet moss right out of the bag.

This is the preserved sheet moss after it was cut into a circle to fit inside the jar.
The sheet moss goes on top of the charcoal to keep the next layer (potting soil) from falling through into the charcoal and stones.

Big boy is placing the sheet moss on top of the charcoal...

... and adding the potting soil.

Finally, the first dinosaur was in his new home.

OH... here we have a certain boy declining to put the other two dinosaurs into the container now that Mommy told him he will not be able to play with them.  WHAT?

Luckily, big boy gladly placed the last two dinosaurs in the terrarium since Mommy reminded him that we have one trillion more dinosaurs in the house.

Home sweet home.

Now we have the top on the terrarium and it is sitting on our shelf in the living room.  More pics to follow.  I just hope it lives.  No one seems nearly as interested in it as I am.

Can you believe that I finally did it?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I Spy with My Little Eye

This post was created especially for my grandmother.

She is loves those "I spy" books and the Gardens of Time game on facebook.

Ahem... you did NOT misread that last statement.  Yes, I do have the hippest grandma on the planet and, yes, she is on facebook.

So... everyone, I hope, has that place in the house that collects stuff. Right???  Stuff stacks up on the counter, on the dining room table, on the foyer table... somewhere.  You HAVE a junk spot - I know you do!

I do to.

Here it is.

And this is where we play the I Spy game.

I'll go first.  I spy with my little eye:

a recipe binder
a cell phone
a bag of white flour
a bag of wheat flour
a half-full pasta box
a package from (for a certain birthday boy)
birthday wrapping paper
leftover terrarium plants
a croissant in a ziploc bag
a Christmas tray
... and so much more!

Holy hot mess Batman - yes I did just share this on the internet!

What's cluttering up your counter?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

All New Low

I hit an all-time low.

In my attempt to find something quick, easy, creative, and yummy for dinner...

I did this.

Yes.  That is a corn dog hot dog in a corn muffin and baked in a flower mold.

Bro asked, "So mom?  This is a hot dog in a muffin?"

Why, yes Bro, it is.

What?  Did I hear you say that you want the recipe?

Well, sure I will share! {{Just don't tell anyone that I did this.}}


Make corn muffin mix according to box directions. {{Yes, the mix was from a box.}}
Add cut hot dogs.
Cook according to box directions.

Tip:  Do not let hot dogs stick way out of the muffin tin or they will burn... like this.

Okay, so I know you didn't really want the recipe.  The kids and husband loved the meal... just sayin'.

Corn dog muffins - gross or not gross?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sanity Update

I'm still without my moms group {{booooooo}} and I'm still doing fine – that is, I still have my sanity... as far as I can tell.

I'm still working towards my resolution of finding God's purpose for me... and generally concentrating on family and stuff... not so much baking and crafting (see New Year's Post circa January 2011).

Well, I haven't totally given up crafting.  I mean... well... um... I did get my hands on a certain large pickle jar... so that I can turn it into a dinosaur terrarium.

Pop quiz:  How long have I been planning to make a terrarium?

Answer:  Since December 2009.  True?  Yes.

Why a terrarium?  Why now?  Why include dinosaurs? 
I am a parent volunteer for the accreditation team for Bro's daycare.  As part of their accreditation (renewal) each class needs something "living" in it. It can be an animal or plant.  We decided againt an animal because they require so much upkeep and they might die and some parents don't like to talk about death to preschoolers.  Personally, I think that a regular plant might be a bit boring so my goal is to make a terrarium for Bro's class and gift it to the daycare.  I feel like terrariums are a bit more interesting and the addition of some dinosaurs in the terrarium might make it a bit more fun.  Plus, the kids can help with the maintenance of the terrarium: misting it and making sure that it is not too dry or too wet.  (See the yellowbrickhouse blog for a cute dinosaur terrarium example.)

The problem is that Bro really wants to grow something right now – I mean, he is a farmer at heart you know – and I am not quite sure that he will be open to gifting "his" terrarium to the class. 

Moving On...

Normally I read all of my books through my e-reader.  However, there are a few parenting and self-help books I have been wanting to purchase in paper form because I want to highlight in them, flag certain sections, and refer to them year after year. 

Thanks to a certain Barnes and Noble gift card I received for Christmas (thanks Grand Matriarch), I own these new books in paper form:

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson
The Five Love Languages of Teenagers: The Secret to Loving Teens Effectively by Gary Chapman

For the record... I will always treasure book giftcards... always! 

What project are you finally tackling
that has been on your mind for YEARS?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tebow Post

Over the holiday break I read Tim Tebow's Through My Eyes book.  You know who Tebow is, right?  The Christian quarterback who is getting so much press lately.  Is Tebow a great leader?  Some people like him.  Other hate him.  I choose to like him.  He seems like an alright kinda guy.  

I bookmarked over 30 passages in Through My Eyes.  Here are just some of the passages that caught my attention as well as my little commentary (in blue).

Tebow talks about Competition
Page 20

When parents tell their kids today, "It doesn't matter if you win or lose, as long as you have fun," I'm puzzled. ... That's just not how I'm wired.  Bottom line, losing isn't fun. ... Of course, there is intrinsic value in playing the game itself and how well you play it, and always playing to the best of your ability, but at some point the actual competition has to be a piece of the analysis as well.  After all, there'd be no point to the rules or keeping score if it were simply and only about having fun."

I just thought that this was funny.  Tebow is very honest that he is just straight-up competitive.  Every parents has used this line at one point or another. 

Tebow talks about Hard Work
Page 38

And that's when I adopted one of my mantras for getting stronger and better for all my workouts:
       Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.

This makes sense to me.  Working hard has been my family mantra for years.  If you work hard, then you can (possibly) come out ahead of those who don't work hard but have natural talents.  Either way, you must work hard.

Tebow talks about making Choices
page 74

Choosing between the many scholarship offers I was blessed to receive really boiled down to relationships.  As with most areas of our lives, whom we will work with and who will be our friends makes all the difference. 

page 83

People often seem to think that when you're following the Lord and trying to do His will, your path will always be clear, the decisions smooth and easy. and life will be lived happily ever after and all that.  Sometimes that may be true, but I've found that more often, it's not.  ... When it comes to making decisions, the key that God is concerned with is that we are trusting and seeking Him.

I think that surrounding yourself with good people will help you to become a better person.  You don't want people to drag you down or to get mixed in with the wrong crowd.

Tebow talks about Being Part of a Team
page 97

For me, more important than winning the quarterback's job was earning some playing time, being part of the team, building the trust of the coaches and my teammates, and being able to contribute.  That's what I took so much pride in and what I wanted to accomplish.  I hoped to carve out a role for myself that contributed to the good of the team in every game.

Fabulous.  You can carry this thought into every walk of life.  I truly feel like every person on earth who is contributing to society, no matter how much, is an important piece of the puzzle.  You just have to be giving as much as you can give (with time/resources).  No one is more valuable than the other... for the most part. 

As people, we should hope to carve out roles for ourselves that contribute to the good of society.

Tebow talks about Waiting
page 99

... warming up to stay ready and then not knowing when your number will be called in.  It was a "wait, then hurry up, and then wait again" situtation, like much of life.  You never know when an opportunity to help, to do something good, to lift up someone, or some situtation will come your way.  Always be prepared so that you can do your best when it's time.


Tebow responds to a reporter about Losing a Game
page 105

"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
(from 1 Thessalonians 5:18)

He seems like a kind-hearted man.  I'm sure he's not perfect.  I do believe that he has some great words to live by for believers and nobelievers. I hope you enjoyed some of these passages.

Which one of these passages speaks to you?

I like all of them.  Today, as I search for my purpose in life, I keep coming back to "I hoped to carve out a role for myself that contributed to the good of the team in every game."

Monday, January 2, 2012

Grocery Goodness

Some people have "road rage."  I, on the other hand, have a serious case of "grocery store rage."  {{I'm just being honest here folks.}}  I don't particularly dislike going to the grocery store.  I don't know why I am so impatient while I am there.  Inevitably, there is a HUGE mishap that sends me running home with steam coming out of my ears.  Ask my family - they will confirm this - it has become a running joke.

Today was the first grocery run of the year!

Two great things happened while I was there:

1.  Almond milk makers finally came out with a single-serve, portable container of our favorite almond milk.  I look for this product almost every time I am in the grocery store.  Since many families and restaurants do not have almond milk (the only milk my two youngest children drink) on hand, there are times when a small, single-serve, transportable portion is extremely helpful!  Lookie!  Lookie!

2.  I saved 19% on my grocery bill and walked out having spent less than $100 total.  Yay!  The goal is always to stay under $100 but that doesn't always happen.  I used to save 5-10% on my grocery bills.  Now I am saving closer to 20% (or a tad more) on a fairly regular basis and sometimes one time I even saved as much as 30%.  The percentage savings has become like a game for me... a competition against myself.  The very first thing I do when the clerk gives me the receipt is scan it for the percentage savings... without fail!  It's like getting my "score" and the higher the score the better. 

Oh my gosh - I just had a great idea.  They should post your "score" over the grocery store door... and include a "top scores of the day" designation.  Wouldn't that be great???  You would have to buy a certain number of items to place though.  Like... it wouldn't be fair if someone came in and bought 1 buy-one-get-one-free set and left with a score of 50%.  Not fair!

Caught My Eye:

You know I like to comment on the products that catch my eye.
{{you also know you have totally boring blog when you highlight grocery store products - sorry folks}}

Check out the new-to-me cereal.

According to wikipedia, "Krave is a chocolate cereal made by Kellogg. It was introduced in the UK in 2010, marketed under the slogan "Taste Unleashed", later "Here Choccy Choccy". The adverts feature the cereal pieces hunting blocks of chocolate."

Kelloggs says, "Satisfy your inner chocovore with Kellogg's Krave™ Chocolate cereal. Inside each crunchy bite hides a smooth chocolate center.  So what are you waiting for? Get crunching!"

Krave does not look yummy to me.  Have you tried it yet?

What was your last grocery store "score"?
score = percent savings on your total bill

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Resolutions

How many blogs have you read about new year's resolutions?  Hmmm...?

I have read several.  Prior to today, I thought I was going to make a reading goal resolution and a "project" resolution.  I even ran across a little spreadsheet to help me map out my entire year!  I'm all about making a list of steps to help me stay on track.

Then, I went to church today.  Wow!  My goal to make a doll for my youngest daughter and send all of my kids to school with the best homemade valentines EVER went right out the window.

In my recent decision to make time for church and for the Lord, things in my life have been slowly shifting... my mindset is changing.  Through my time in church, with my moms group, and reading Christian-themed books such as Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow, I am starting to remember that God has a purpose for me and I am searching for that purpose.  {{A top 10 list of great things I learned from Tebow's book is forthcoming.}}

Today's topic in church was to search our hearts for God's purpose for ourselves.  Among other things, they pointed us to Radical by David Platt (see the video below).

So, today, I am abandoning all of my previous 2012 goals for this one main resolution... to spend 2012 searching my heart and in prayer to discover what God has in store for me... my purpose... "what I am being called to do."

Right now, on day 1 of 2012, I have a feeling that my calling is related to children.  Maybe I should be a Sunday School teacher or something.  When I think of leading worship for children, two thoughts come to mind:  (1) where am I logistically going to find the time to do this and (2) seven years in a leadership position with scouting has me burnt out (for lack of a better term).

On the positive side, working with children is a great way to give back to the community.  Working with children is something that I am naturally good at.  Working with children is something that I enjoy doing.  Working with children often times allows me to participate with my own children while still in a volunteer role for others (which is a win/win situation for everyone).

I do not feel called to go on missionary trips, for example (I am not opposed to a missionary trip either), and seminary school is not shouting my name.  I just feel like a volunteer role with kids and sharing God's love with them might just be where I am supposed to be.

So, stay tuned as I spend some time figuring out my purpose.  I will try to keep an open mind, but I cannot fathom what else I am supposed to be doing with my time here on earth.  I am not promising that my discovery will be anything Radical (sorry David Platt) but I hope it is life altering.  I know this isn't nearly as fun as following through with great crafts and food, but I feel like it is the direction I am supposed to be headed in.

What is your 2012 resolution?
Please tell me that someone here is going to be crafting or baking!!!