Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Note To Self

If the three year old happens to use red permanent marker on your bedspread again, rubbing alcohol does the trick.  Mostly.  :(

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Healthy Living Lifestyle

Awhile back, while dealing with a minor health issue, I began researching healthy eating habits and exercise routines to help me. Before long, I was overwhelmed with the amount of information available, and became almost paralyzed to start. So many conflicting ideas! So-and-so says eat this much protein and you will be able to jump higher and run faster. But blah-blah says too much protein is bad for you, go vegan, and don't run ever or you'll live to regret it (maybe).

 Soon enough, my health issue was resolved, but the information overload had taken its toll. I left all "advice" behind and just continued on my merry way, doing my best to do what I thought was right. But then I was given a copy of Amy Culver's The Healthy Living Lifestyle. Amy was once "tipping the scales" at 300 pounds. Through incorporating a series of healthy choices into her life, she was able to lose 165 pounds. She shares her choices and so much more in this wonderful, easy to read, book.

Amy's book is much more than just a "do this, lose weight, look fabulous" type of book. It is called the Healthy Living Lifestyle for a reason. As women, we often feel as if we have to look like we could be on the cover of Vogue to be pretty. That's the goal, we think, and we won't be happy until we get there. But, as most of us know (at least in the back of our heads), we won't be happy if we ever do get there. Because that's not health. That's vanity. So Amy shows us how to make small changes to lead to healthier lives.

That's the second half of the book. The first half is Amy's story. How she came to be 300 pounds. How she struggled with food addiction. How she struggled with eating disorders in the name of being thin. And how, through the grace of God, she began to heal. It's a story of hope and faith, that will encourage you to make small choices to become a healthy person. I highly recommend this book if you have ever struggled with loosing large amounts of weight, but also for those of us who really just want to lead healthier lives without getting caught up in the supermodel mindset.

*Note: Amy is a friend of mine and I received a copy of her book as a gift with no obligations. I am writing this review purely because I honestly think her book is a valuable resource.*

Magic Cabin

On Monday I finished up my Christmas shopping, but while I was in the process finding that perfect something for a certain three year old girl, I stumbled upon a little store called Magic Cabin.  Can I just say, adorable?  Fairies and Gnomes and Rope Ladders, Oh My!

How I wish I were a kid again and magically could get whatever I want from this store.  They have toy kitchen stuff, ride on toys, houses and tree forts, capes and robes and wands and...I could go on and on.

We got Ladybug this little wash day set for her dolly clothes, and we got Sunflowers these little baby toys.  So if you are in the market for a little special something, check out Magic Cabin.  And right now you can get free shipping on order over $50. 

Note:  I am getting nothing for my little swoon here.  As long as my order arrives in time for Christmas, you are just hearing from a very pleased momma.  :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Getting Old(er)

:)  Today is my birthday.  My *ahem*  th...th...thirtieth birthday.  There.  I said it.  I'm 30.  This morning I looked in the mirror.  I didn't really look any older.  I don't have any grey hairs (yet), and only one wrinkle on the top of my forehead, put there as a result of having a three year old.  I'm half way to 60, but 30 years is a long time still before I get there.  And you know?  I'm becoming ok with the fact that I'm th...th...thirty.  (Although it is still kind of hard to say.)

Want to know a random thing that I think is weird?  My husband is 33, I'm 30, Ladybug is 3, and we have 3 kids.  Maybe this is our family's golden year.  Or not.  Either way, we've been richly blessed.

This morning I asked my husband to pretend he didn't know me.  And that he saw me walking in the grocery store with three kids in tow (here I did the little shopping cart dance. Know the one I mean, or does that age me?).  Would he think, "Wow!  That woman is 30 for sure!"  Of course he was smart and said no, he would think I was maybe 27?  (He phrased it just like that.  I totally put him on the spot.)  "Really?",  I said.  "You wouldn't think 26?"  :)  To be smart, he told me I looked not a day over 18.  Let's just say, that I do look over 18, and I'm actually happy about that.

So.  I'm 30.  And I'm ok with that.  Now I just have to change my sidebar.  What should it say?  A thirty something wife and mother....?  Nah.  Maybe we'll just leave age out of it.  :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Advent Traditions

Advent is probably my favorite season in the Church calendar.  I love the emphasis on waiting.  I love the idea of adding a new little tradition each year.  I love the excitement that builds, and the planning, and the cleaning....

I wanted to share the things that we are doing this year, noting that most of these have been built up from the very beginning of our marriage.

I made this Advent calendar last year.  It's a little plain right now, but I'm ok with that.  Each year I plan on adding a little something to it.  Last year we put those little candy bars in each pocket and the kids got to share it each morning after breakfast.  This year I wanted to de-emphasize the treats during Advent so the treats during Christmas would have a bit more meaning.  So I scoured the internet looking for bible verses on the prophesies of the coming Messiah, along with Gospel verses leading up to the Birth.  I found this article, and tweaked it a little to suit my purposes.  The candy is saved for special feast days and the Sundays of Advent.  See the pink bits of paper for the third week in Advent?  Next year I'm thinking of making little Jesse tree style ornaments to hide in the pockets, but we'll see.

Another thing we do is decorate the tree slowly.  We each pick one ornament a night to add to our little tree.

 Even the baby gets to pick.

Most of our ornaments are special.  We let each kid pick out one special one from the store each year and write their names on them.  My goal is to have a set of ornaments for each kid after to move out of the house.  We have yet to do it this year, it's on the to do list.  :)

This year we went to a Christ the King celebration at a friends house.  She had made these little mangers for each kid and gave us each a bag of straw with a baby Jesus hidden inside.  For each good thing I catch the kids doing, they get a piece of straw to add to the manger.  They are working on making a very soft bed for baby Jesus.  (And if you look closely at the Advent calendar, the two baby Jesus' are hidden in the pocket of the 25th).

Our first married Christmas together, we made a simple Advent wreath together.  And we did the same on our second Christmas too.  So this one is the first one we made, and we hung the other one on the front door.  I didn't make it in time to find Advent candles this year, but had some left over from last year.  We light the candles at dinner, and after prayers Dan reads from the little book while the kids eat.

Throughout the house are little touches, little reminders of what we are preparing for.  My husband's parents sent this little nativity to him while he spending his first Christmas away from home stationed in the Middle East while in the Navy.

We have a couple of children's nativity sets.  This one is the most little kid friendly one we have.  Certain figures are put away still, again because we are waiting.

These are the other two nativity sets we have.  All were given to us, not bought.  The playmobil one is great, but has lots of small pieces so we don't get it out often.  Maybe when the kids are older.  The top one I think I am going to bring with us to Wyoming when we go for Christmas.  It's a hands on one and is small enough for travel.

The baby Jesus' are hidden on the shelf.

Last year I scored some great Christmas books, most of them from Tomie dePaola.  I have the idea to wrap them and open one a night, but maybe we'll do that next year.  A little at a time.

It's almost the third Sunday in Advent.  The anticipation is building.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ladybug's Cake

Sorry for the light blogging lately.  Things have been crazy around here recently.  I did want to post a picture of Laybug's cake.  It was a strawberry cake made from strawberries bought on sale and frozen this summer.  The frosting is cream cheese frosting, and I mixed some of the strawberry puree into the frosting for the strawberry on top.  The greens are romaine lettuce.  :)  Here is a link to the recipe.  It was AMAZING.

Ladybug was very pleased with her cake.  And even though it was two days after Thanksgiving, and we were all stuffed and by that point sick of sweets, this cake was a hit.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Waiting For St. Nicholas

The little ones tried very hard to be good tonight in anticipation of St. Nicholas filling our shoes with goodies.  Love the tiny baby shoes next to the great big daddy boots.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Ladybug!

Ladybug, hours old.  We were enamored with you from the start.

We soon realized you would permeate our lives with little girl sweetness.

Even at two years old you were a joy to be around.  Your sweet smile was impossible to return.

Now at three, your independence is shining through.  Your smile is still ready to share, and your laugh is contagious.
Happy birthday my dear Ladybug!  God smiled on us when he created you.  You are a blessing to us in so many ways.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Almighty Father,
you are lavish in bestowing all your gifts,
and we give you thanks for the favors you have given to us.
In your goodness you have favored us and kept us safe in the past.
We ask that you continue to protect us and to shelter us in the shadow of your wings.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pondering This Today

One thing is certain:  When the time has come, nothing which is man-made will subsist.  One day, all human accomplishments will be reduced to a pile of ashes.  But every single child to whom a woman has given birth will live forever, for he has been given an immortal soul made to God's image and likeness.  In this light, the assertion of de Beauvoir [a feminist from the early-mid 1900s] that "women produce nothing" becomes particularly ludicrous."   -Alice von Hildebrand, The Privilege of Being a Woman

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Making Bread

Even the baby got flour on her.  :)

Fall Breakfast

Mmm...pumpkin muffins with struesal topping, bacon, milk, and coffee for breakfast.  The pumpkin is from a fresh pumpkin, not canned.  So good!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Birthday Weekend Recap

We had a visit from my mom this past weekend who came out to celebrate Fritter and Ladybug's birthdays with us.  The weather was great, the visit was nice, and the kids got totally spoiled by grandma.  
Fritter's homemade dinosaur birthday cake.  I found a great video tutorial on how to make it here.

Grandma got Ladybug a dollhouse for her birthday.  I'm just a little excited about it.  :)

Fritter got his first remote control car.  His dad is more than just a little excited.
I'm not sure if any other weekend will ever compare to this past one.  I feel like I need to sleep 12 hours just to make up for all the excitement.  We invited a few friends to celebrate with us.  The kids had so much fun.  I'm very thankful to have such good friends around us.

Ladybug looking for dinosaur eggs.

Batter up!  Remind me the next time I need a pinata to just make one instead of buying it.

Picking out which dinosaur would be his.

This is a store bought cake.  I had planned on cupcakes, but in the end decided less stress was better. 

Sunflower enjoyed watching the festivities. 
I don't think I'll be wanting birthday cake again anytime soon. Do you think Ladybug would settle for, say, quiche on her birthday?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wisdom Tested

Fritter:  Grandma, do you know everything?

Grandma:  Well, I do know a lot.

Fritter:  Do you know where Little Foot is?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Fritter!

I cannot believe my big boy is five years old today!  Where has the time gone? 

Newborn Fritter 7lbs. 1oz.  This one made me a Mommy.

My big 1 year old boy always had a smile for everyone.

2 year old thy name is Mischief.
3 year old Fritter, becoming a real boy.

4 year old Fritter, full of fun, smiles and imagination.

My 5 year old boy is helpful, outgoing, fun, and has a sense of humor we all can appreciate.
Happy, happy birthday Fritter!  God smiled on us when he sent you.  You are such a blessing.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

This was the third picture taken and the first one all three were looking at the camera.  I think Fritter has run out of smiles.  How did anyone survive without a digital camera way back in the day?  :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Inspiration on Display

This morning I loaded all three kiddos into the van and headed bravely out into the world to find Halloween costumes.  We started at Goodwill and I had the idea of The Incredibles for our family.  Elastigirl?  I could totally pull that off!  :)

When I didn't find even one piece for our costumes, we loaded everyone back up into the van and headed to Walmart.  After what seemed like hours of walking through their Halloween aisles, and shielding eyes when I needed to, (does anyone else find the Halloween aisles to be nothing short of scandalous?) I still had...nothing.

So we started walking back towards the food, defeated, when I noticed a scarecrow on display.  My brain starting whirring and clicking, and before I knew it, we were walking out of the store with the makings of one scarecrow and a couple of rag doll costumes.  What's even better is that I managed to make it so the minor clothes I bought will be incorporated into the kids' winter wardrobes.  Score!  I'm still not sure how it's all going to come together, but it will. 

Any tips on how to make Raggedy Ann hair with a ball of red yarn?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Poor Babies!

Fritter has come down with quite the sickness this past week.  He looks miserable, he sounds miserable, and basically he is miserable.  I've been doing what I can to keep him comfortable, but he's an almost 5 year old boy, and keeping him still on the couch is next to impossible.  I fear this one is going to be a doozy.

Ladybug started coughing this morning, and has already woken several times tonight coughing and crying.

I moved Sunflower back into our room tonight until this virus passes.  She may find herself on quarantine until cold and flu season passes.  The dreaded RSV season is upon us, and I'm not looking forward to it. 

I'm consoling myself with the fact that it just means we don't really have to go anywhere.  I was starting to get overwhelmed with all I needed to accomplish anyway.  For now, the house is a mess, but I'm keeping the laundry going.  All preschool stuff has been set aside except for impromptu activities to help keep Fritter and Ladybug still (or at least mostly).  We are filling our days with stories, TV (unfortunately too much), and orange juice.

My poor babies!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

All Things Through Christ

Often when I'm cleaning up my kitchen in the evenings, I glance out the window over my sink. The curtains there are usually left open, because that window is my connection to the outside world. It overlooks my backyard, but what's more, it looks directly into the kitchen window of the neighbor behind us. Many times, I've noticed, the mom of that particular house and I will be cleaning our kitchens (or getting dinner ready, or whatever) at the same time. She is bent over her sink, I am bent over my sink, and together we are doing what mothers for centuries have done. Serving our families. Funny enough, I've caught her glancing my way a time or two as well, and I wonder if she notices the same thing. At least, it must not bother her that we see each other doing our chores, because she never does close the curtains of her window.

I don't know much about those particular neighbors. We've only spoken to them twice. Once when their dog jumped into our yard, and another time when Fritter kicked a ball into theirs. I do know her children are older than mine, and I think she works outside of the home. And I couldn't even begin to tell you their religion (or lack thereof). But in the end, we are both mothers. It makes me think of the connection I have with mothers the world over. Even if a mom works outside of the home on some fantastic project that seems to have so much meaning and bearing in the world, I believe that she still finds herself sweeping floors, washing dishes, and being loving even when she doesn't feel like it. Doing things that sometimes seem to have no meaning whatsoever.

I didn't realize it until tonight, but feeling that connection as a mother with other mothers is important to me. Seeing that I'm not the only mother that fails and then keeps trying. I'm not the only mother sweeping the floor at 8 o'clock when I'd rather be in bed. Seeing that my children really are just kids and striving for perfection for them is not only unrealistic, but can be harsh and unmotivating. Of course it's important to have standards, mine just happen to be sky high. And in this way, I not only set them up for failure, but myself as well. Which brings me to my next point.

Monday was a very bad day, and Monday night was a very bad night. I yelled, I cried, and I fought tears most of the day. I felt inadequate, I felt that nothing that I do makes much of a difference. I was tired and my negative thoughts got the best of me. It didn't help that nothing went as planned and my dear husband has been working almost 12 hours a day. Every. Single. Day. I was being selfish and could think of nothing but myself (and how imperfect I am). Tuesday found a better me, after a night's sleep (I won't say good, I'm still nursing at night, you know how it is), but those nagging thoughts continued to haunt me into today. I wondered what God was thinking when he gave me my precious children. Me? When I'm so imperfect? What business do I have raising children?

And then this evening my husband asked if I ever read Little Catholic Bubble. I said I do, but hadn't had time recently to catch up on it. He (providentially?) stumbled upon her newest post Why I Never Should Have Had Eight Children.
When I was a happy mother of four, seriously considering and deeply desiring another child, an odd feeling overcame me. Over several days, my excitement at the idea of a new little soul became mixed with feelings of discouragement and fear. It began to dawn on me that I was barely good enough "mommy material" for the four treasures I already had, and that any further parenting would be irresponsible. It came to a head one evening: I remember standing in my kitchen, full of fear and anxiety, telling myself that I had no business -- no business! -- having another baby. Not now, not ever.

All my shortcomings and sins came to the forefront of my mind, and I stood there reeling from the truth of it*:
After reading the rest of the post, I realized what I had been doing to myself (and what lies I had allowed the devil to tell me about myself). None of us is perfect. Many of us fail time and time again. But we were given this vocation of motherhood from God himself who knows all of our shortcomings. And yet he decided to entrust these precious souls to us anyway. If we stay open to His grace, allow Him to change us, and seek support and give support to others around us, we have a chance. And so do our children.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." --Philippians 4:13

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Yogurt Face

I had stepped out of the room for just a second and when I came back I saw that Ladybug decided Sunflower was hungry.  She fed her the yogurt still on the table from lunch.

 I think she likes it...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pumpkin Patch Kids

We went to the pumpkin patch today, and of course I forgot my camera.  Friends took pictures of my kids though, so at least someone will have proof we were there.  The kids loved the hayride, decorating their pumpkins, the maze, and the bounce houses.  But the highlight of the trip?  The one thing they can't stop talking about, including at the lunch table?

Ladybug:  Mom, why did that cow poop in the grass?  He needs to use the toilet.  I use the toilet.  I don't poop in the grass.

Mom:  Mmm-hmmm.  Weren't the baby pigs so cute?

Fritter:  Yeah!  But that cow made a cow patty!  Mom, what's a cow patty?

Mom:  Hmm?  Well...

Ladybug:  Mom!  The cow pooped in the grass!

And of course Fritter thinks this is the funniest thing in the world.  I think Ladybug was just scandalized that the cow didn't have the decency to use the bathroom.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Recent Projects

Actually one is not quite as recent, I made it soon after we got home from our trip to Wyoming.

My dear husband replaced our front door a few months ago, and when he did, he also replaced the window next to it.  It used to be an orangey plastic thing that did nothing to keep the heat out or the cold in, or add security to us in any way.  So we went with a double paned clear security glass for the window.  We were amazed (and pleased) with how much light it let in, but it also let anyone who walked by an unobscured view into our home. 

I searched high and low for a few weeks for a curtain for the window, and I knew in my head what I wanted.  I knew I didn't want to pay the money for anything new, but the thrift stores just didn't have what I was looking for.  So I decided to make one.  I found this wonderful lace in a thrift shop in Wyoming (the same place I found the book).  The problem was, the lace was not quite long enough to cover the window.  What to do?  I had some white satiny material left over from the bridesmaid dresses from our wedding, and decided it would be perfect.  A little on top, a little on bottom, and wallah! A new curtain!

The other project I have completed recently (do you ever find that you have tons of projects but very few actually make it to completion?) was one that I found in our preschool curriculum, which I adapted.  We found a few Fall leaves from a walk (it's Arizona, we really had to look for Fall leaves!), shaved a few crayons for extra color, put it all between two pieces of wax paper and ironed it.  Then I cut them out, and taped around the edges.  I wish my tape had been a different color, maybe yellow, but I went with what we had.

The original idea suggested taping them to the window, but I got inspired to create something else.  The tops are cottage cheese lids, and I tied all the yarn on top of the lid to the circle from a bubble wand which then hangs from a hook in the ceiling.

The result?  Two Autumn mobiles for Fritter's and the girls' rooms.

Next up, throw pillows, updating my Bum Genius diapers and napkin rings.  AND I'm working on painting the kitchen and redoing the kitchen chairs.  Busy, busy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Collier's Junior Classics

I happened upon the first volume ABC, GO! while in an antique shop during our Wyoming trip.  Besides nursery rhymes and poems, it has a great selection of folk tales and stories, and the illustrations are awesome.  While reading the introduction, I found myself salivating and knew I had to have the whole collection.

Mr. and Mrs. Vinegar

"I found my poor little doll, dears,
As I played on the heath one day;
Folks say she is terribly changed, dears,
For her paint is all washed away,
And her arms trodden off by the cows, dears,
And her hair not the least bit curled;
Yet for old sakes' sake, she is still, dears,
The prettiest doll in the world."

The librarian-editors of Collier's Junior Classics have combed the best children's books of the past and present to assemble in a single series a sampling of the finest literature for boys and girls.  High standards have been maintained for the art work also, which in most instances has been taken from the original book.  No attempt has been made to cover all fields of knowledge or to include factual material for its own sake.  The emphasis here is on good literature, chiefly fiction and biography, folk lore and legend, and some poetry.  Special attention is given to the American scene and American democratic ideals, but many selections cover other cultures, geographical areas, and historical periods.

Billy and Blaze

The Box with Red Wheels

The particular copy of the first volume I found (which has been "lovingly compiled for the youngest") was printed in 1962.  But from what I can gather, there was an earlier publishing sometime in the 30s.

Scaredy Cat

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe--
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
Anyway, I happened to get a little inspiration today after storytime, and looked them up on paperbackswap.  Sure enough!  I found and ordered seven more volumes, which means I only need two more to complete the set (and those two look amazing, Roads to Greatness and Call of Adventure).

The Three Bears

Little Red Riding Hood

Henny Penny

So far I have loved every minute of reading from this book aloud, and my audience members seem to agree.  It's become a big deal when I pull this book from the shelf.  The other books seem to be geared to a slightly older audience, but my little seedlings will grow.  Until then, I think I will be enjoying them myself.
Wasn't that a dainty dish
To set before the king?

Doesn't that look like such a fun place to live?  I would love to ride on the back of a bird or sway with the wind on the stalk of a dandelion.