Monday, January 28, 2008

Making My Home a Haven Monday

Crystal at hosts the Making Your Home a Haven challenge each Monday. Today the focus is on the kitchen. I didn't have time for pics today (sorry ladies) but I will tell you what I hope to accomplish today:

Devotions and Prayer with kids-done
Ran errands-done
Paid bills-done
Health appointment-done
Folded 3 loads of laundry-done
Made lunch-done
Catch up on some e-mails-done

Supper Plans: Make a Spaghetti Bake Casserole for a Bible Study potluck tonight

Need to Yet accomplish:
Clear off kitchen table
Wipe down wall and vent behind stove as it's accumulating some grime
Wipe down my white kitchen walls, baseboards and cupboards as they need cleaning every couple of weeks
Work on some Sewing Projects
Work on Alphabet with Ali

I really hope to get all of these things done today! If these get done, I will also try to do a load of laundry and clean my oven too. We'll see what happens since my energy levels are zilch these days!

Great Deals in the Last Week

Safeway has some $1 off Eating Right coupons and you can print an unlimited amount. With those coupons I got the pasta for a quarter, the sauce for $1, the soups for 35 cents a can and the nutritional candy bars free! The Shredded Wheat was 100% free because of a 99cents a box sale, a $1 off 2 coupon and a catalina that printed at the register for $1 off anything in the store!

At Walgreens this week I got 2 free Aquafreshes due to the printable coupon online. I had a manufactor's coupon for $6 off Afrin but because it only cost $5, I made a dollar on it! The make-up was not only free with sales and coupons but I got paid $1.50 to buy the gloss, eyeliner, blush and bronzing powder! Yeah!

This adorable, hand-crocheted little infant dress was only 10 cents at the thrift store and looks like it's never been worn. A gift for my new baby, or for someone else if I end up having a boy!

Last week, thanks to Peggy's tips on MoneySavingMom I got 23 items at Safeway for only $22! This included two blueberry muffin mixes, some brownie mix, and lots of granola bars and healthy Fiber cereal.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!

My Mom, Cindy

Yesterday, Mom took Ali ice-skating for the first time in her life! Ali had so much fun!

Today is my mom's birthday! Still a couple of years from 50, she is full of life and energy! I am so thankful to have the mom that I do. She has taught me so many things in life that have made life easier and richer for me. Even though she didn't have a lot of money to work with when we were growing up due to being a stay-at-home mom and that my Dad was self-employed, she was the ultimate frugal creative. She worked diligently at gardening (organically of course!) and canning and sewing and bringing in a little income on the side when she could. She always made Jesus a priority for us and made sure we were in Sunday School and Children's Church and AWANAS and was an active part of teaching our classes in all of these things and teaching us godly values at home. She always emphasized to me that God was faithful to provide and would take care of us and always emphasized the priority of staying home with your kids. Because she was there for us all the time, we grew up with home-cooked meals and lots of books and very little TV and endless art and craft projects. She didn't let a tight budget keep us from getting "culture" as she called it. She made sure to take me to things like the Nutcracker ballet, allow me to have piano and classical guitar lessons, and my brother to have violin lessons. She always exposed us to as much art, history, and music as she could. One summer she loaded up the boys (I was on a summer missions trip) and took them camping around WY, stopping at all the historical places and learning about and experiencing what life must have been like at Fort Laramie, Independence Rock, Devil's Tower, museums, etc.

She wouldn't let us get away with anything and she always made us work hard and take responsibility. She drilled common sense and caution into our heads too! Yet she also knew how to teach us to have fun and party heartily, hosting family picnics and dinners and events even though she really doesn't enjoy cooking. She made family dinner time a priority. She always took time to listen to our stories and endless chatter after school. She saddled my horse countless times so my friends and I could ride after school (we had a Horse Club in 5th Grade and of course all the girls loved coming to our house!)

She always threw very fun birthday parties for us, like my backwards birthday party when I was about 10 or 11. When I was 11 she taught a Christian Girl's Charm Course for me and a couple of my friends and let us have tea and fancy snacks while we studied the lessons on etiquette, beauty tips, and having godly character. When I was a Junior and I begged to be homeschooled, she jumped in and started homeschooling all 3 of us without any prior experience and did a wonderful job.

Being avid outdoor enthusiasts, she and my Dad taught us about the outdoors and camping in the outback wilderness and being careful and responsible campers. I have always known she is way tougher than I will ever be. After all, who else would take 2 small kids and a 5-month old infant horse-pack camping about 30 miles into the wilderness in the cool month of May? Who else would volunteer to backpack in the Moab desert in their early 40s, being the only one in the group not male and not in their 20s? Who else would go back to school in their mid-forties and work tirelessly on endless reports and tests to get a teaching degree so she could fulfill her dream of teaching at a Christian School once her kids were grown?

My mom's gift from Dad this year is to go on a dogsledding trek for her birthday. She is always one for adventure! Happy Birthday Mom!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Saving Time on Laundry

As I've been carting loads and loads of laundry back and forth to the laundry room (in the absolutely frigid hallway!) I have been thinking a lot about the pioneer gals who had it so much harder than we do. I sure am thankful we don't have to boil pots of water over a stove we have to keep stoking in order to do laundry. I'm thankful we don't have to rig up clotheslines in our tiny home in the winter (though we did do this back when we lived in a farmhouse without a dryer) and I am thankful I don't have to scrub all of the laundry by hand (especially cloth diapers and my husband's filthy work clothes). Thinking about laundry has made me realize how wasteful I can be in this area and how I can cut corners and save both time and resources on this big part of my life as a mom. If I was a pioneer woman, you can bet that one drip of milk on my dress wouldn't cause me to launder the whole thing! My kids would learn quickly to be more careful and put their bibs/aprons on before eating EVERY time! I would do a lot more spot-cleaning instead of full-fledged washing! Let's face it: Today, we Americans live a life of ease and comfort and we are extremely wasteful in so many areas. With another baby on the way who will no doubt contribute stacks to our laundry piles, here are some things I want to consider implementing:

*Wear an apron daily in the kitchen when cooking to preserve my dresses better

*In the winter, as it's not hot and sticky and I don't sweat, wear shirts for two days in a row if possible.

*Teach my daughter to stop changing her shirt every time there is a drip of water on it. Teach her to roll up her sleeves EVERY TIME she washes her hands to prevent wet sleeves!

*Make my skirts stretch 3 days of wearing instead of 2.

*Cut back to using one baby washcloth per day instead of 4-6 (for meal clean-up).

*Cut back on the number of clothes we have. The kids especially, thanks to endless hand-me-downs from folks at church, have way more clothes than they need. If I cut down to the essentials I have less sorting and putting away and less to store and manage.

We already:

*Each have a bath towel which we hang on our hook and use for the whole week

*Launder sheets only about once a month unless someone has an accident

*Try to save pajamas for at least a few night's wearings before washing

*Have certain clothes for certain occasions. Play clothes, work clothes, paint shirts, very fancy church outfits, etc.

Cloth diapers add very little extra laundry for me since I rinse thoroughly and just wash them with the kids' regular clothing. They save so much and save on garbage output too!

My goal for this year is to learn to either make laundry detergent or find a very cost-effective, but more natural, laundry detergent. We don't like the overpowering scents in most laundry detergents and I want to use something that is biodegradable and "green."

Of course with kids, there will always be plenty of laundry. Even my best attempts at re-wearing clothes may fail as I get spit up on, leak milk, get wet on, or get covered in strained baby carrots or throw-up. But if I am consciously trying to conserve in the area of clothing, it will no doubt end up saving me time and money!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Time Savers

I'm always looking for time savers so I welcome you to add your own favorite "Time Savers" to the list of ideas I'm compiling here.

Ideas for Saving Time:

*When my kids are taking a bath I usually try to scrub the toliet, clean the shower walls or straighten things on the vanity.
*I don't fold underwear! Why take the time when no one sees it and it takes up lots of time? Instead my daughter is trained to cart off the undie piles to the various owner's bins or drawers.
*Cook two meals at once. This week I made an elk roast in the crock pot for our favorite casserole, "Plowman's Share." I made twice the amount of rice and roast so that I could use the roast later this week for BBQ sandwiches and the rice for tonight's meal, Sherry Chicken.
*I prefer clothing bins over drawers. We still have a few dressers, but my goal is to weed out our dressers and instead just use attractive, cloth-lined baskets to hold all of our clothing in our closets. Bins make things much faster when you are putting stacks of clothing away. Dressers are nice for some things, but for my main clothes I like the bin idea. My daughter can choose her own clothes and pajamas out of the bins too.
*When watching a movie I try to clip coupons, mend, or do another mindless project.
*When talking on the phone do some cleaning or picking up.
*Clump your errands together so you can get a bunch done at the same time on the same side of town and save yourself the gas and time of going out multiple times.
*Make up a big pot of pregnancy tea or ginger tea and store in a pitcher so that I don't have to brew a cup a couple of times a day. I can't tell you how many times King Jo has "accidentally" grabbed a glass, thinking it was apple juice and gone, "Uhhhggg!" (He thinks P. Tea tastes like hay--which it does since it's made from alfalfa!)
*Cook several pounds of hamburger at once and freeze in 1 lb. portions. I also do this with beans. Make a couple of pounds at once and then freeze. This will save both time and heating energy.

I'm sure there are lots more ideas I use that I can't think of right now. So, please help me out and contribute to my Time Saving List!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cheddar-Chive Breadsticks

For those of you who were begging for it, here it is! I finally got around to posting it!

This recipe is for bread machines, but I'm sure you can adapt it to use without one if you don't have one.

1 1/4 C. water
4 C. bread flour (or all-purpose works too!)
1 C. shredded cheddar
1/4 C. chopped fresh or dried chives
2 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 3/4 t. yeast

Measure ingredients and add to the bread pan in the order listed.
Choose the dough function on your bread machine (1 hour and 30 minutes)

When time is up, scoop out dough and form into breadstick shapes in desired size. I have also done letter-shapes or hearts for variety sometimes. For example: Valentine breadsticks! Place on a greased cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise about 30-40 minutes. Bake at 375 until done and lightly golden on top (11-20 minutes). When they are warm I like to butter them and sprinkle them with garlic salt to give them a tastier breadstick flavor (like Olive Garden's *smile*) You can also try pressing some extra cheddar into the tops of them before baking for an extra cheesy taste!

Enjoy! These breadsticks are also great with soups. If you would rather not do breadsticks but want to do cheddar-chive bread, just hit the Basic setting on your machine instead of the dough cycle.

You'll get a little bit softer, fluffier breadstick if you skimp on the flour a little and make sure not to add too much!

Another favorite recipe for the bread machine:

Parmesan-Pepper Bread

1 1/2 C. water
4 t. olive oil
4 C. bread flour
2/3 C. Parmesan cheese
4 t. sugar
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 t. yeast

Choose the Basic setting for a loaf or the dough setting for breadsticks!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Good Deals This Week

This was a good week for deals and I did a LOT of shopping since I made myself go to the town a half an hour away where there are good stores, including Walgreens. Here's a breakdown of the best deals I found this week:

The deals pictured above were at Safeway (thanks to the tip from Peggy that was on MoneySavingMom):

Got 23 items for $23 including tax! There was a promo where if you buy 10 breakfast items you get $10 off. Everything in the promo was on sale and I had coupons for everything and did two transactions so I could get the $10 off twice! The muffins were on a good sale and the brownie mix too so I used coupons with them to get them cheaper. 14 boxes of cereal at about 75 cents a box isn't bad, especially since we just got to the bottom of our huge stack we accumulated in October. I spent $23 and saved $81. I think my cashier was pretty amazed today!

Smith's Deals:

Ragu was $1 a jar and I had a coupon bringing it down to 75 cents each for 2 jars

Organic apples were $2 a pound which is a LOT cheaper than here in town

Muir Glen Organic Salsa was on sale and I had lots of $1 off coupons so I bought 5 at $2 each

In the clearance bin I snagged some Boost shakes for really cheap (this is about the only way I can take vitamins in the first trimester without throwing up)

Also in clearance bin: pantyhose (2 pair of a good brand for $2), organic facial toner ($2), organic sunscreen ($3)

Walgreen's Deals:

I definitely took advantage of the $5 ink refills and got both our color and black inks refilled.

Got the Huggies deal where you get two jumbo packs for $16 plus a box of free wipes. Used $2.50 in coupons on the diapers and 75 cents on the wipes bringing the total down to a super deal!

2 large bags of raisins for $1 a bag in the Walgreens clearance bin

Got the 5 free hand sanitizers that I will eventually make $2 on when I get my refund!

Got 4 bags of Mars Minis chocolate bars to reward the nursery workers at church--After refund these will have cost $3 for 4 large bags (thanks to some printable coupons!)


Brought my total down from $39 to $26 with coupons much to my cashier's amazement! Wal-Mart sells the Buddies soaps for less than a dollar so round up as many of those coupons as you can and get more for free! My daughter really likes washing with these. I got a couple more! Thanks to printable coupons I got a box of Kashi crackers for 50 cents, some Keebler animal crackers for cheap, and a box of Chocolate Honey Bunches of Oats nearly free!

Organic Meat!

This amazing blessing is such a gift of God! I was lamenting to myself that in my goals to eat healthier and more organic foods, that I would probably NEVER be able to afford organic meats since they are 3X the price in the store. However, one of my dad's friends got several elk this year (Native Americans are allowed to hunt as many as they want) and gave my dad an entire elk (since Dad didn't get one this year). My parents paid to have it processed and I picked it up for them and they said they'd give us (FOR FREE!) half of the meat since it's a lot for the two of them to use up! I love elk! It doesn't taste wild like deer and it's lean, tasty, and organic! What a HUGE, HUGE blessing from God!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Cheer for a Friend

From one of my morning readings from "The Valley of Vision." Dedicated first and foremost to my friend Lesley, who has suffered with me in horrible pregnancy nausea and is not finding the Unisom to help much. Dedicated also to the women out there who understand like few can what it is to have debilitating sickness for weeks and weeks on end in pregnancy, or who have suffered with other long-term illnesses.

"Assure us that we shall at last enter
Immanuel's land
where none is ever sick,
and the sun will always shine."
Page 387.
What not to say to say to someone with severe pregnancy nausea:
(Taken from my own personal experience! Yes, I've heard 'em all!)
1. I never had a hint of sickness myself! Pregnancy was bliss for me! (If our good friend Hannah has blissful pregnancies in the future she'd better not tell us or we'll come give her horrid tickle tortures!)
2. I always made sure to eat very healthy and take care of myself and never got sick.
3. Suck it up! You're a wimp!
4. I've learned that if you always keep food in your stomach, you don't have nausea, so just eat little snacks and meals all throughout the day.....(or other unwanted advice that comes across as haughty and all-knowing! Besides anyone who's had it BAD knows that NOTHING works completely anyway! Sadly, not even Unisom, my friends.)
5. Tsk, tsk, tsk. It's a shame that pregnancy is so hard on you. (Or worse...gossip to someone else and tell them, "Poor Mrs. Jo! Isn't she looking awful these days!) Or tell them to their face, "You look awful!" "You look like such a pinched-mouth!" (uh, that pinched-mouth look is because I'm trying to keep from throwing up on you!)
6. You'll get through it! It's just a blip in time and before you know it, it'll all be over and you'll have a baby! (Sure, next time you have a 48 hour flu and you're heaving in the toliet begging God to kill you I'll remind you with a smile that you only have to suffer 2-3 days instead of about 70 days!)
7. Should you be eating that? (This one goes for all pregnant women! Don't you love how people think they can tell you what to eat and what not to eat?)
8. The scale is supposed to be going up, not down Missy! (There's a reason I'm avoiding the clinic for the first trimester of this pregnancy! It's not like I'm TRYING to lose weight people!)
9. Please don't barf on me! Don't barf in my car! (Sheesh! I love you too Mom!)
10. I just ate a ______(fill in the blank with a very nasty-sounding food) or... How does ______(repulsive-sounding food) sound for dinner Honey? I actually filled a barf bucket once when King Jo suggested something for supper that I was NOT in the mood for! I've also lost an entire meal when he gave me a goodnight peck on the cheek after eating a garlicky meal!
On the Other Hand....
List of Things Fellow Suffering Women Will Say....
1. I'll pray for you.
2. Can I do anything to help you? (Thanks for asking Shiloh! I know you care!)
3. Try Unisom Honey! It can be a lifesaver! (I owe you bigtime Laura J.!)
4. Please whack me over the head with a 2X4 as hard as you can if I ever THINK ABOUT getting pregnant again!
5. Fill your pockets with rocks when the nurse is weighing you at the clinic! (Not kidding, a woman with 4 kids at my church who suffered the entire 9 months with EACH OF THEM told me to do this! Instead of doing this I just wore really heavy clothes!)
6. I understand why you would rather go through natural labor TWICE for one pregnancy rather than have a couple months of endless nausea!
7. You can cry, you can scream, you can vent to me anytime!
8. You're not crazy! This is one of the hardest things in life!
9. It's okay to cut back on activities, cut stuff out, get help, eat frozen dinners and fast food, and try to rest during this time!
10. Barf-swappin' stories! "Oh yeah... well one time I threw up all over _____ (fill in the blank)." "That's awful girlfriend! That's like the time I threw up when I was ______." Hey, you have to find the humor somewhere! Speaking of which...some of my most embarrassing moments.....blacking out and having to get on the floor while I was waiting on customers at my job as a cashier....having to run to the bathroom to throw up in the middle of a transaction with a customer....having to ask the bag boy to give you extra bags after grocery shopping so you can go heave in one on the way home from shopping....having to carry a barf bag with you in your pocket wherever you go.....
Funny Things My Kids Have Said:
1. I'll pray for your tongue Mama (when I'm gagging and it's hanging out!)
2. Don't forget to cover your mouth with your arm! (Every time I go into the bathroom to wipe her, Ali reminds me and shows me how to cover my face so I don't gag!)
3. Laugh at Mama! (Jer does this when I'm gagging and burping and I'm holding him. He thinks it's a funny game or that I'm purposefully making funny faces!)
4. Uh-oh! Uh-oh! (Ali says this when I'm on the verge of throwing up!)
5. Not say anything! This is the saddest thing of all. Today I was in the middle of giving Ali her time-out lecture on why we don't shove baby brother and I started gagging and heaving nasty burps and she didn't even seem to notice. Must be used to it by now! She just said, "Can I get out of time-out now?"

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Saving Time in the Kitchen

Every homemaker with children will find herself with more to accomplish than she can seemingly do in a day. Which is why I find myself intensely interested in time-saving techniques. This week I was able to pull off some time-saving techniques that allowed me to bless others. I had an ambitious day on Monday (those are sooooo rare for me right now!) and so I made cheddar-chive breadsticks in the bread machine as well as making chocolate-chip cookies for Bible Study. Both recipes made more than we can eat, and in my current state, I usually don't feel like eating tomorrow what sounded good today. It was wonderful that both items were able to stretch for the folllowing purposes:
1. Bible Study
2. Our family's personal enjoyment (especially for this mama who had been craving them!)
3. A bag went into the freezer that I will pull out later this week to put in a Care Basket for one of my aunties who is having surgery
4. A bag went to a friend the following evening (I provided a meal for her since she had a new baby)
5. A bag went to my brother who also got a meal the following day (since he's a 19-year old bachelor who would rather spend his money on bikes and car repairs then on food, I told him for his birthday gift this year he would get a few one-man-size home-cooked meals delivered to him)
1. Went with our quick-fix ravioli supper
2. Lunch leftovers for the next day
3. Some went to my friend as part of her meal package
4. Some went to my brother as part of his meal
The following day I was able to make a very large pot of homemade mac n' cheese (my friend's all-time favorite comfort food) and a Heart-Attack Potatoes Casserole. It all stretched to feed our family, my friend's family, my too-skinny bachelor brother, and we had lunch leftovers the next day!
Sometimes people get overwhelmed at the thought of providing food/meals for other people. All it takes is a little bit of advance planning. I knew what I would be making a week ago when I bought my week's worth of groceries and got all the ingredients (almost all of which was on sale) and had a plan in mind to make it all go smoothly. Finding out what the family enjoys is crucial. I was all prepared to have to cook a gourmet meal and stress over it and spend a day in the kitchen and then she told me all she wanted was homemade mac n' cheese!
I was glad it was simple since at this point in my life it's hard to just function normally and keep my food down! (Yes, even with Unisom I'm still somewhat queasy and always extremely tired!) The best part was that is just worked out that my Mother's Helper was here the night I was doing the dinners for people so she was able to entertain the kids while I cooked and feed them while I quickly delivered the meals! Have I mentioned how much I love having a Mother's Helper?
Any one else have any tips this week for saving time when it comes to domestic chores?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

How to Make a Lime Ricky

A certain local fast food place here in town makes a delicious drink called a "Lime Ricky." Though I boycott the other food they sell due to the fact that it is the dirtiest, grungiest looking place, I have found myself often craving one of these drinks during pregnancy. So, the other day I decided to try and make one on my own at home to save money and so that I could have one every day. The results were pretty good! Here's what you do:

Juice (I do it by hand with a little hand-juicer) 6 small limes or 4 large ones

Add 1 cup of sugar and 3 C. of water to the lime juice in a pitcher and stir well.

Fill a glass with crushed ice or cubes if that's all you have. Pour about 2/3 C. of the limeade into a glass. Pour grape pop on top to fill the glass. Throw one of the squeezed lime halves into the glass for added flavor. If it's a little too tart for your tastes, add a little more pop and less limeade or vice versa. If grape isn't your thing, you can do this with cherry pop to make a Cherry Lime Ricky.


God's Grace for a "Mean" Mommy

Today has been a stressful day with the kids. Yesterday I was unusually nauseous in spite of my Unisom so last night I took a full pill and I feel soooo tired today. The kids have been unceasingly cranky and demanding, spilling water all over me and the couch, doing things they were told not to do a thousand times, sticking their hands in my juice glass and my cereal bowl, making messes, getting into stuff, and wacking me very hard (ouch!) in the nose with a book. I have been very short-fused and taking out my frustration on these little tykes in what could aptly be described as Militant Mommy or Harsh Taskmaster Mommy. Finally, when I scolded my daughter at lunch for yet another careless mess, she burst into tears and began her howling routine, which looks every bit like the face she made as a newborn baby. After her howls subsided, she said something that made me feel like the worst mommy on earth. "Mommy, do you still...(sob) me?"

Needless to say I apologized and asked for her forgiveness and told her Mommy has been a crabby and mean Mommy but that is going to change. I assured her I loved her very much and then she happily went on to name each member of the family and say she loved them too. I told her I am not feeling good today but that's no excuse. If there's one thing that has been hard for me to learn, it is how to manage my emotions where I'm inclined to let them control me and the situation. For example, when I'm very inclined to be cranky during a certain time of the month when I'm not pregnant, it's all too easy to go with the chemicals in my body that are causing me to be irritable. Finding God's grace to OVERCOME hormones has been something I have often struggled with. But I realized today that I absolutely MUST learn to trust God in these difficult times so that I can have a godly and peaceful home. I don't want to be a child's worst nightmare for a mommy. I don't want to let the difficulties of life drag me down because there will ALWAYS be difficulties as a mom. Yes, right now is probably the most exhausting time of my life thus far, but later down the road I might be even more exhausted or drained or circumstances may be even worse and I need to know how to live for God in spite of what is going on around me or inside of me. He has provided all that we need for any and every situation. I need to remember one of my favorite verses: "But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Cor. 12:9

My little girl proceeded to make my day very sweet indeed by throwing her arms around me and saying, "I'm so glad you're here." It was such a blessing after what a crabby person I've been today to know that she is glad I am here for her, no matter how tired or sick I am. I will endeavor to be a loving and kind Mama to her, no matter how I'm feeling.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Pics of the Kids

Jer loves the little rocker at Grandma Kathy's house!

Grandpa Joel takes Jer for fun rides and bounces in the icy cold motel pool in the Twin Cities.

Jer and Daniel, cousins 6 days apart, with their little Curious Georges they got from Grandpa and Grandma.

Ali and Daddy

My cousin Andi plays wild knee-bouncing games with the kids, making them laugh hysterically!

It's been a while since I've posted kiddie pics and I decided to show off some of the cutest pics from Christmas time.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Thanks Mom!

I am getting a mother's ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS GIFT as a belated gift this year. My parents got me a cookbook but they wanted to get me something more since that was a small gift compared to what they spent on everyone else. I told Mom I needed a Misto, which is a little kitchen gadget that allows you to put your own olive oil in and spray it (instead of having to use those store-bought sprays that are bad for your health). She didn't find one in the malls when she went shopping in some larger towns over Christmas. So, she asked me if I would like to have a Mother's Helper instead! How great is that? Instead of a little $10 kitchen gadget, she is going to be paying a young teen girl who goes to the Christian school she teaches at, to come over for one afternoon each week for 7 weeks! I will have an hour and a half to sleep, run errands ALONE, or just get some stuff done while Sarah entertains the kids. Since Sarah goes to our church, Ali already knows her and really likes her. I'm just thrilled that I will have some help during the "pit hour" of the day when both kids are usually cranky and hungry and demanding when I'm trying to get supper. Maybe I'll just take a book to the library and let my Mother's Helper throw a frozen pizza in and "make" dinner!

What an incredible gift to be given in this season of great fatigue! God truly does provide and bless us when we are weary! My mom planned it so that my Mother's Helper will be here during the worst of my pregnancy nausea (which as you all know has been controlled this time around thanks to Unisom!).

Making Your Home a Haven Monday

These are my "After" pics. I didn't take any "Before" pics. Let's just say it was a royal mess before clean-up, as it tends to be after a weekend. Why is that?
Our entertainment center, "office" and Ali's little table all squeezed into one side of the room.
In the right rear corner is my "sewing corner" where I do all my crafts. The big stack of coats next to the chair is our coat basket and it's annoying and not very neat-looking but we have no closet or hooks or anywhere else to put coats so it will have to do for now.

Since the Lord provided a miracle cure for my morning sickness, I am able to do a lot more around the house and don't feel miserable every waking moment. I am still very, very tired and can't get nearly as much done, but I'm so glad that I am now mostly nausea-free for making my home a haven.


Refresh my Spirit:

I did devotions with the kids but didn't have time for my own reading until they were down for naps. Read a passage in Romans that our pastor preached on yesterday and was greatly inspired by reading a beautiful prayer in my new book, "The Valley of Vision."

Morning Routine:

Since I became pregnant my wonderful hubby has been getting up with the kids and getting their breakfast every week day so this is no longer part of my routine! So, my morning routine looks like this:

My breakfast

Shower w/ Ali

Get kids dressed

Put Jer down for nap

Ali's 30 minute video

Computer time or catching up on paperwork/bills

School time with Ali (today we did numbers)

Morning snack

Clean-up and de-cluttering

Preparing lunch

These days it is about all I can do to just get through the basic routines, so I didn't add a lot to my morning, but I did try to do some extra de-cluttering and simplifying and vacuumed up the living room and straightened the house because Bible Study is at our house every Monday night. When I'm not pregnant I also tend to clean the bathroom and do about 5 loads of laundry on Mondays, but I just don't have the energy now.

One thing I'm happy about today: I was planning to go to the thrift store to find a couple of extra containers for things (we needed a dirty diaper bin and a bin for my dirty dishtowels.) Instead of having to make a special trip out (which is exhausting) and spending money and probably being enticed to buy other things I don't need, I found some containers at home that work fine; I just had to shuffle some other things out of them and into boxes or paper bags. More and more in my house is being container-ized, which is great!

Supper: It will be very simple: Frozen ravioli with some spaghetti sauce and shredded cheese on top thrown into the microwave. If I'm ambitious I'll throw some stuff in the bread machine for breadsticks to go with it. My main goal is to get a batch of chocolate chip cookies baked for Bible Study.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Great YouTube Video Worth Watching

I normally don't watch videos posted on people's blogs since we have dial-up and they take forever to load. But I'm so glad I took the time to load and watch this one off of one of my favorite bloggers' sites, Amy's Humble Musings. I dare you to watch it without crying!

In a world where people frown on big families and having lots of children, this video is an encouragement. It is such an encouragement to me right now as I have been dealing with a lot of mixed emotions with this latest pregnancy. I have been nervous about telling some people and some non-Christian family members about it because we got some disappointing reactions last time when we announced we were expecting #2. I actually had one uncle (who is childless) ask me if I was happy about the pregnancy (with Jer)! Many of my cousins automatically assumed that we were totally done after getting our girl/boy, "typical" American family. Sadly, we even felt that people in our own church looked down on us for having our first two so quickly in our marriage (and they are almost 2 years apart!) Even my own Dad teases me endlessly about where babies come from and was calling me a "BabyMaking Machine" even before I announced #3 was on the way.

I have a LOT of support online from many of you out there who believe that MANY children are a blessing and I have many friends in MN who are pro-big families too. Please watch this video of a family welcoming their 6th child into their lives and be encouraged!

Frugal Friday--Five Painless Ways We Saved Last Year

Today we have been asked to list 5 ways we saved $100 or more for Frugal Friday.

Here are some things our family did last year:

1. My husband biked to work from about March-December every day, saving us a total of at least $228. It's a little under a mile to his workplace.

2. I made my own Fuzzi Bunz-style diapers. Using these cloth diapers for a whole year would save us at least $300. They are just as easy as disposables to put on and they don't require a lot of maintenance. In fact, I like them better than disposables because dirty disposables stink up the house, but cloth don't since we rinse and soak right away.

3. I learned how to shop Walgreens and have gotten endless good deals there. In one day, I saved over $100 by hitting a clearance on Pull-Ups diapers (for our toddler at night) and using $2 off coupons on them (they were priced $2.59). I bought a bunch for friends as well and thankfully had LOTS of Pampers coupons on hand. These diapers, which I got for 59 cents to a dollar per package normally cost $10.

4. I started couponing and printing coupons off the internet and combining them with sales. In doing this I have gotten all of our cereals for $1 or under a box (name brand cereals) and have gotten tons of groceries free. You'll remember that tips on Money Saving Mom have gotten me countless free crackers, free bodywashes, free shampoo, free granola bars, free computer paper and a free flash drive. We've gotten free bags of cheese sticks, free candles, and free samples of things. Thanks to those $5 off Tylenol coupons we've gotten tons of medicine free this year too. In fact, I get mad if I have to pay more than $1 for a bottle of Nyquil or Robitussin or Theraflu or something! Many of the Christmas gifts we gave out this year were free to us or almost-free.

5. I hate to sound like a GEICO commercial, but by using GEICO for our older vehicles (Honda Accord and Toyota Camry) we have saved at least $500 in car insurance each year as opposed to using the agency in town. Our current policy with GEICO (liability) costs us $300 a year for two vehicles. Not bad!
I just thought of a couple more ideas, later in the day today:
6. We cut back on eating out. Instead of eating out once a week or every other week, we cut it down to once a month or less and in doing so have saved around $300 this last year.
7. My husband has always cut his own hair with the Flow-bee vaccuum attachment. This saves us around $100 a year on haircutting costs.
For tons more great tips on how others have saved money last year, go to and check out the other posts on today's Frugal Friday!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Good Reading

My in-laws got me some books I had been wanting for Christmas this year. I'm so excited to read them all and then read them again! I'm working on Girl Talk right now and have discovered it will be an excellent resource for Ali and I to read together in her early teen years. I wish I had read this when I was a teen as it encourages girls to honor their mothers, learn from them, and confide in them. I was a strong Christian teen who attended every church event imaginable and was heavily involved in missions but I've never heard a lot of these neat things I've been learning recently about family relationships and such.

So far, the stuff I've read from the Mahaney's is unbelievably excellent! Remember my concerns about Created to be His Helmeet and the lack of the Gospel in that book? The Mahaneys as a whole (CJ (the father), and Carolyn (the mother), and all of the girls) never fail to preach the Gospel in all its' truth throughout their books. I can already tell from skimming that Feminine Appeal will be a very foundational book for me! The Girl Talk blog, written by the 3 daughters and their mother, is one of my favorite blogs to visit! Check it out here.
When I opened my present, my brother-in-law, who is a tease, looked at the books and shuddered. He said, "Scary! I'm glad those won't be in my house!" I said, "Oh, but they might if I loan them to your wife someday!"

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Relief! Praise the Lord!

I feel like breaking out into song and singing, "I Found the Light!!!" I have come across, thanks to a pregnant friend here in town, the miracle cure for my morning, noon, and night sickness! My one major regret is that I suffered endlessly through the first trimesters of two other pregnancies because I didn't know about this!

What is the miracle cure? Well, I'm sure most nausea-sufferers have heard about the unisom/B6 cure from their doctors/nurses. I heard about it in my second pregnancy when I was losing tons of weight and feeling horrible and like I was starving. I was told to take it at intervals throughout the day. After one day of doing that and feeling like someone drugged me and feeling worse than I did without it, I gave up. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to drive or care for my one-year old daughter on it. However, recently a friend told me that she was always instructed to take it at NIGHT! The usual half-a-pill didn't work for her so she takes one full pill before bed and it keeps her nausea-free most of the next day too! So, I've been trying the before bed thing and IT WORKS!!! Half-a-pill seems to work fine on my medicine-sensitive body. I start to get a little nauseous around lunch and then around supper and of course before bed, but then it's time for another pill! It takes away almost all of my nausea so that I can at least eat to help combat the nausea (at lunch) and drink ginger tea and other things that will help fight nausea. I am sold on it! While it's my goal to have as natural a pregnancy as possible, doctors, nurses, and midwives okay this medicine, Unisom, which is a sleeping pill, for pregnancy and if I can feel this good I'm all for it! It feels amazing to be able to get some chores done again and be able to keep up with the kids and enjoy food again! Yesterday I even cooked raw meat and made a delicious, spicy, Asian meal and baked brownies from scratch! Unheard of in the first trimester for me normally!

I still feel the usual pregnancy fatigue common in the first trimester but I feel so much better that I just can't believe it! Is this what it feels like to be pregnant without the horrible sickness? No wonder some women say they love being pregnant and no wonder some women have a dozen kids, if they feel this good during pregnancy!!! So many women have told me about the Unisom cure in the past but NO ONE ever mentioned the taking it at night thing! One side note: I stay away from B6 during the day or at night because for me, it makes me super nauseous, so I only take the Unisom before bed, not the B6/Unisom combo that's usually talked about.

If you suffer from continual and relentless nausea, please talk to your practitioner about trying this!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Making Your Home a Haven Monday

Crystal's doing a weekly challenge this year on making your home a haven. Join in the fun at

My home has been anything but a haven lately as we returned from a big trip recently, had to sort and put away new things, and I've been on the roller coaster of morning, noon, and night sickness. However, I've had my limit of clutter and mess and so yesterday and today I have been forcing myself to get chores done and organize and put away. My husband helped a lot yesterday too, which got the ball rolling. Today's goals were:

*Have devotions with the kids--done
*Clear the endless clutter/papers off the table--done
*Fold 4 loads of laundry we did yesterday and put away--done
*Do an enormous sinkful of dishes--not done yet

My to-do lists are quite comical during this season of my life due to feeling so sick. I used to accomplish about 30 things in a day and now I'm doing good if I get one or two chores done a day. Tomorrow I plan to scrub the floor as I've been putting that off for a couple of weeks!

Pregnancy Nausea and Selfishness

Lately it's been hard for me to get anything accomplished! I'm constantly tired and nauseous, so I end up laying around and sleeping at every given opportunity. My husband snapped this photo one day when I konked out on the couch when he was home for lunch break. Ali covered me with her blankets and then he told her to lay down with me and pretend to sleep for a picture.

One thing I've always struggled with during the first trimester is selfishness. When you feel extremely miserable and are constantly throwing up or gagging it's easy to get a one-track mind: Must find relief! Must find food that appeals! Must sleep! Me, me, me! I'm so sick I can't think about how I can bless King Jo or anyone else!

Being a human being, I will always struggle with selfishness, but especially so during the season of morning, noon, and night sickness. My goal this time around is to still make time to serve others and let my family know they are important in spite of my constant misery. Easier said than done, but it's been better this time around as this has been my easiest pregnancy so far (can you guess how much fun the first two pregnacies of morning sickness were?) I made sure to stock the fridge with easy-fix meals so that my family can actually eat and I've been trying to keep our normal routine no matter how I feel. I've been committing my sickness to the Lord continually and King Jo and Ali pray for me all the time. The other day when I was gagging and burping and looking anything but ladylike Ali told me, "I will pray for your tongue!" The instant she sees me gagging she stops and prays a cute little prayer no matter where we are. But that was the first time she had said she'd pray for my tongue instead of my sick tummy. I guess she thought my tongue was what was hurting since it was hanging out of my mouth!

I've tried EVERYTHING for home-remedies, but if you have any ideas that worked for you during this time of life please share them with me!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Alathia Funnies

Our little girl sure keeps us laughing with her antics every day! Yesterday she came up to me and said, "Is we bein' good little monkeys?" It's very important to her that she is "being good" because Grammy frequently asks her about this on the phone and Daddy often gives her a chocolate kiss if she's been good all morning for me. I don't often refer to them as little monkeys so this tickled my funnybone!

Today she was singing a song (does she ever stop singing or talking?) and she sang, "They went walking and LEAKING and praising God, walking and LEAKING and praising God....."

Ali has been VERY, VERY good lately so I'm hoping those outrageous tantrums are in the past. She had one or two times on our trip where she needed to be dealt with and was getting whiny and difficult, but she got over it quickly and she was an absolute angel most of the trip. I was so proud of her! King Jo says that Ali is getting better and better all the time and now Jer is getting worse! Jer likes to scream and holler if we aren't getting his food fast enough for him. He's a world-class protester when his sister takes one of his toys, but I usually don't blame him for that since she steals his toys constantly! They play together all day long and keep each other entertained, but as nice as that is, it means they fight all day long too and need a referee.

Ali got some headbands from Aunt Kianna and she prefers to wear them "her way" even if it's goofy! She calls them her "bandaid heads."
One recent disappointment for me regarding Ali: She's outgrowing her afternoon nap! It's nearly impossible to get her to sleep. So, I guess "naptime" will be "lay on your bed and read books" time from now on. I shouldn't complain because she sleeps 12 hours at night.

Odds and Ends of my Life

I have been busy just trying to survive lately as I pack up the Christmas stuff, clean and de-clutter, and get my basic chores done while feeling like my body can only move in slow-motion, and fighting the ever-present nausea that comes with pregnancy. I have been so disgusted with our bedroom recently as it has been jam-packed full of junk and impossible to organize and keep clutter-free. So, today I decided to move Ali's toddler bed out of our room and into the kid's room with Jer's crib and see how they do at going to bed in the same room. They did well with it in the motel room on our trip so we'll see how it goes! Not having that toddler bed in the room cleared up so much space that I organized, vaccumed, and sorted like mad! I found a library book that had been wedged under my bed by my lovely toddler for the last 3 months (yeah, I don't clean under my bed very often!) and I was so horrified and wondered if my fine would be so astronomical that I wouldn't be able to check out books for a long time! I was so relieved to find out when I called the library that they cap the fines at $2! Whew! I would have never forgotten or misplaced library books in the past, before I lost most of my brain cells and time and energy (in other words, before I became a mom!)
Something funny was, the librarian asked me if I was running a daycare or if I just had a bunch of kids of my own! My kids weren't even being that loud while I called either! What are people going to say when I have even more?
I was making lunch today (my meal prep lately involves frozen dinners or things that can be made very quickly) and I realized that I was standing in my kitchen, cooking, while pregnant and barefoot in a long dress! I chuckled to myself, imagining what the library lady would say if she could see me. From my many observations of her she is a die-hard liberal and feminist. She would be appalled at my life! But rather than feeling sorry for myself or feeling like I don't have a life, I smiled because even if I am "just a mom" I love my job, find it challenging and fulfilling, have a husband who cherishes me and takes wonderful care of me and two little ones who fill my days with happiness and humor. So what if I'm barefoot? I don't like wearing shoes in the house! So, what if I'm in the kitchen and pregnant? I normally love to cook (when I'm not horribly nauseous) and it is a miraculous thing to have a life growing inside of you that God Himself has created!

These are just my random thoughts of the day!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Good Deals this Week

Walgreens had a buy one, get one deal on the scented oil candles and there was an internet printable on them too so that you could get them for very little, if not free. They smell so nice and I hope to bless some friends with them who have birthdays coming up! The Dimetapp was completely free. Most likely we won't use it so I plan to sell it at a yard sale!

Even though we don't have a Target, I decided to take the Money Saving Mom site's tip and print off the Johnson Kid Soap's products coupons and see how much the soaps were at K-Mart. They were the same price at K-Mart as at Target so I got both soaps completely free. Ali loves using them for washing hands.

I just happened to notice that swim diapers were marked down to 69 cents at K-Mart so I grabbed a few packages. I was SO MAD at myself for not having a coupon for them because I know there are printables on for Huggies Little swimmers. I could have gotten them free! Oh well, still so cheap. Even though I don't use them (Jer wears the trunks with the built-in cloth swim diapers, they will make good gifts for Ali's toddler friend's having birthdays or I can sell them at my yard sale this summer for a couple of bucks and make money on them!

These Christmas goody tins were 75% off so I got them for around 33 cents. They are the large size that will be perfect for holding coconut truffles or Chex Mix for next year's Christmas gifts.

I've been wanting a jingle bell wreath for over 3 years and I just couldn't bring myself to pay full price for one. The last couple of years there haven't been any left after Christmas. So, I was thrilled to find this one at Family Dollar for half off, costing me $2.50, one fourth of the Wal-Mart price!

Other Good Deals this week:

Safeway had some markdowns on Organic Oatmeals, all-natural yogurts, meat, Nature's Valley granola bars, and some frozen meals. They also had Scented Oil Candles on sale for $5, and I had several $4 off coupons so I filled up my gift stash! I got to the register and my total (with lots of other groceries too) was $77. After using my Safeway card and my many coupons I paid $37! When the cashier's mouth hits the floor and she tells me I saved $40, I just break out in a goofy grin! Deal shopping is so much fun! And I have to confess that I bought a lot of stuff we didn't actually need due to my continual nausea and I was grabbing stuff off of the shelf just because it sounded good at the moment.

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