Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Yes... I know it's Tuesday ... but better late than never, right???

My menu is short this week, since we're headed off to my parents in North Carolina on Thursday... unless we have freezing rain, of course.

Any way, here's the line up:

Monday: Risi e Bisi (Rice and Peas) with Ham and Parmesan Cheese Soup: This is a great recipe for using up your leftover ham -- you can even substitute the ham with turkey and it would taste just as delicious! It had a great flavor, but I would add more broth to it, because it really does get thick. Also, be sure if you try this out to use LOW SODIUM broth!

Tuesday: Perciatelli with Homemade Italian Sausage and Tomato Sauce with Peas and salad -- Perciatelli is a super thick spaghetti which is HOLLOW!!! I can't wait to eat it with a hearty Italian Sausage sauce.

Wednesday: Lasagna with Beschamel Sauce and Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and cream

I got a couple fun toys for Christmas... one of the was a Ronco Set it and Forget it Rotisserie (yep! I asked for it!). We made a roast in it on Sunday, and honeybunny... it was deeelish! Yum! Moist, juicy, tender. And the clean up was a super easy snap! I highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys yummy food!

Hop on over to I'm an Organizing Junkie for hundreds of other menu plans!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

To all my family, friends, and fellow bloggers...

— On this silent night, have you missed anything while you were sleeping?
—Have you made room for the King yet?

If you haven't, take a moment to do so now, as it is the most valuable, yet free gift you will EVER be given!

Merry CHRISTmas!


"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."
John 3:16-18


Saturday, December 19, 2009

We are Stupid, yet Redeemed People

And I say that with love.

And don't worry. I'm not referring to the Human race... I'm only referring to the Sunshine family, as you will soon see... but I beg you to remain patient as you weed through my story. I am, after all, a woman, and we all know women can multi-task, as you'll find evident in the following train(s) of thought.

You remember that wicked head cold I got on Sunday? Turns out it was a double ear infection and sinus infection. AGAIN. I just had one in October. I'm so lucky! Yay me! Added on top of that, Thursday was my last day at work. It was bitter sweet. And no, I did not sleep in on Friday. I was up early to take my son to his Christmas party at school. I went home for 45 minutes, went back to the school, helped the teacher, then the party was over and I bundled my son into the car to begin a busy day FULL of errands and such.

My busy day started with taking Hunter to the "$5 and Under" store, because he wanted to buy some Christmas presents with his OWN money. As I was unbuckling him from his car seat, he turned to me, all alarmed, and said: Mommy, where's my CASH? I need my CASH to pay for the presents. Ok. Who taught my son the word CASH, along with the proper meaning and how to use it in a sentence? I was very impressed. And totally hilarious!

Then I ran to K-mart because I didn't have any snow boots, and the weather man was calling for 5-8 inches of snow beginning at midnight on Friday, and not stopping until Saturday evening. Then I got lunch for us and ran to my house to pick up some gifts for an adopted family, because at this point, they had changed the forecast to 8-10 inches of snow and I wanted to make sure they got to the church safely. Then I ran to get my hair cut.

It looks so cute!

Then I ran to the church to finish painting the scenery for our children's Christmas pageant on Christmas eve. At this point, the weather forecast was upgraded to 10-12 inches of snow, and I really felt pressed to get as much done as I could on the set because I wouldn't be able to come back on Saturday. I am creative, and I can draw ... but I must admit... I am SOOOO not a scenery painter. Praise God for my sweet friend and prayer sister - Lovely Rita. She and her hubbypastorman live in the parsonage, so she came over to help. She IS a great scenery painter, and was help with painting critical details. She totally rocks the painting scene.

So at this point, it was six pm, and my sleepy four year old was starved. So I packed us up in the car and headed to Chick Fil A for some yummy nuggets and a chance for some four-year old play time. I was headed to the grocery store next, and my husband was going to go pick up my prescription, and then meet me there and pick up Hunter to take him home while I got groceries.

This is the critical turning point of the whole convoluted tale of my day.

I turned the radio on. The weather forecast was now ONE TO TWO FEET of snow.

Dude.

Come ON!

The forecast had gone from five inches to TWO FEET! In ONE DAY!

I called my husband at this point, totally freaking out because we HAD NO FOOD IN THE HOUSE.

NONE.

And it was going to SNOW TWO FEET.

And we NEEDED FOOD.

So I asked him to start shopping for our much needed food while Hunter and I finished dinner at Chick Fil A.

And this is where the story turns from critical ... to STUPID.

My husband called to tell me that there were NO carts left in the store, food supplies were low, and the lines were all the way down the grocery aisles. He said one woman waited an hour in line just to get to the check out.

He informed me that he would not go shopping tonight, but rather, he'd go first thing in the morning. I was stunned and argued that we NEED FOOD. He argued that he would get it IN THE MORNING.

Enter stupid: I agreed.

I was so tired, feeling so sick, and overwhelmed by my busy day that after arguing for a few minutes, I actually agreed to this game plan.

Stupid.

NO FOOD.

What was I thinking? But, my husband threw out the ol' TRUST card: "Trust me! It will be okay! I'll go early in the morning when no one is at the store." And I'm thinking, "yeah, including the manager and employees because they will be snowed in."

But he's always right. I decided to spin the Crazy Wheel and trust him.

And in the back of my head, I was already formulating how I was going to feed my family with those last three large cans of tuna in my pantry.

Enter Redemption: He was right.

He went to the store at 7 in the morning, with about 6 inches of unplowed snow on the ground, and foraged through the wilderness of slim pickings left by scavengering families with NO FOOD the previous night, and brought home LOTS OF FOOD for his family.

He's my hero.

He totally rocks the grocery scene.

The End.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Favorite Christmas Memory

Donnetta over at My Quiet Corner is hosting Favorite Christmas Memories this week. I totally forgot about it -- I tell you, this wicked head cold that I mentioned yesterday has me in a fog!

Her memory is quite precious, and is very similar to one of my favorite childhood Christmas memories... beside my father making such a big deal about checking for Rudolph's poop and even pretending to step in it while my sister and I sat huddled together and giggling at the top of the stairs!

Anyway, my favorite Christmas memory was when (I believe) I was in 6th grade, and my sister was in 4th grade. It may have been later, but I'm not sure.

My dad worked for AFL-CIO - he was a union representative. His union happened to go on strike before Christmas time, which meant we would have no presents. We were new Christians at the time, and while we knew the real meaning of Christmas, to two very young girls, it was still all about about presents.

My father explained that we would not have much under the tree this year because there just was no money. In fact, we would each only have an outfit that my mother sewed for each of us from fabric she had previously purchased.

Then, either Christmas eve or the day before, the union gave each union member a large box that contained items to cook a full Christmas meal, along with some gifts for the children. I remember getting little toys and this silly stuffed-animal thing that you put in your boots to keep them upright... and even though I didn't have boots, I would hang it from my closet door know. It was bright and cheerful, and I appreciated it so much. I held on to that until I got engaged and had to pack up all my things to move. I got rid of it only because it was badly torn and ragged, but it was a sentimental piece that brought back lovely memories of being a happy little girl on Christmas morning.

I honestly believe that no matter how young or old you are, God always shows his love through the generosity of others. It is a lesson I never ever forgot, and is one reason why I always like to pick an angel tree tag or other such opportunity to give to a less fortunate child at Christmas time.

Having lost my job in November, and facing so many uncertainties, we did not participate with the angel tree giving this year, and I tell you... my Christmas season has been markedly different. I feel like it is a sacrifice I should have made anyway, and I feel like I've missed out on a blessing, so I will be helping give a few gifts for children in a family our church is sponsoring.

Hopefully, those children will be touched also, and will remember their gifts for years to come as a gift from someone who loved them with the love of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Tour of Homes

Updated to add: Oops! Forgot to link back to The Nester, who is hosting this Christmas Tour of Homes! Sorry! Click on over to see hundreds and hundreds of other blogger's homes!

Better late than never... I tell you ... I had every intention of taking pictures and posting a great post, but was SLAMMED with a wicked head cold Sunday evening. So, here are only a couple pictures... but it's fun to peek into peoples homes, isn't it?? Enjoy! I'll try to post some more as the week goes along.

First of all, we cut our tree down this year. It was the cheapest route by far. There was a snow storm in the forecast, and I was so excited to chop a tree down in the snow. Until ... we were actually ... chopping a tree down in the snow. Then, it wasn't so much fun, but rather cold. And wet. And very cold. And just plain cold. But so worth it, because Hunter had so much fun.



















Hunter was having so much fun in the snow -- he was rolling in it, running and sliding in it... it was so cute. His poor little face was so red, and his jacket totally saturated. Thankfully, he had on snow pants with a bib overall, so that kept him dry on the inside!

We finally made it home and decorated our tree. Man, was that tree FAT! It didn't look that big on the lot, but I couldn't get the lights all the way around the tree because I couldn't reach! My pom-pom, cranberry and popcorn garlands barely made it from one end to the other! And yes, it did fall over. And water went splashing EVERYWHERE. Surprisingly, though... my carpet looks nice and clean in that spot.


















As with every other boring year, the outside of our home was done in white lights only. I had to get a new snowman this year, because the one we had last year got decapitated somehow. If anyone can figure out how I can keep it on my stoop without it blowing over, I'd be ever so thankful. It's been a windy, WINDY season! AND... my timer is driving me insane. I can NOT get it to work properly. I am electronically challenged.






And that, for now... is ... The End.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Homemade with Love!

CAUTION: YOU'RE GONNA RUN OUT AND GET SUPPLIES TO DO THIS!!! I'm just saying... it's THAT easy and makes a wonderful gift!

This past Friday, I made a Homemade Gift with LOTS of love! It was a hostess gift idea I originally got from my sweet friend Sandy over at Reluctant Entertainer.

She and her Balcony Girls made homemade coasters for their mothers last year. I TOTALLY bookmarked this page, lost it when my computer crashed, but then went onto her newly designed blog and was able to search for it! Ahhh -- the power of the Internet.

I was so excited to make these for a Hostess Gift for our Pastorman and his wife. Every year, they host a Christmas party for the entire church, and every year, I try to take a Hostess gift that is Homemade with Love. Last year I took Apple Pie in a Jar that Sandy posted about also! The previous year, I had a painted tin bucket with a poinsettia in it. This year? Homemade Stone Coasters.

I know that natural stone can absorb liquid, and this will make a great coaster... The one thing I kept stumbling over is... if the coaster is supposed to "absorb" liquid, then would it still "absorb" if it was sprayed with a fixative? I didn't think it would absorb as well, so I did a google search for other homemade coasters, because I wanted to make sure I had the perfect materials for this project!

I found a website that hit it right on the nose: Elegant Crafts and Homemade Gifts. That's me rolled into one semi-incomplete sentence. Anyway, she also gave some tips for using the spray finish, but I went radical and did my own thing. I know... shocking, isn't it?

Also, being a naturally gullible person, I wanted to make sure they really did work, so I tested a stamped sample with an ice-cold glass of water, and to take it one step further, I dropped water directly ON the tile and watched. Not only did it absorb, but the image stayed intact. IT WORKED! IT WORKED! WOHOOO! FYI: This is true to NATURAL UNFINISHED STONE only.

I made 8 coasters (for a big family), and it only took me a total of 2 hours to complete (if that), and dry-time for the glue.

Here's what you need:

Tumbled tiles - mine are tumbled travertine from Home Depot - box of 9/$5-something
Waterproof Ink pad: Staz-On for Every Surface ink is a dye-based pad, so that's what I used.
Rubber stamps of your choice
Cork for bottom of coaster
Elmers Glue-All
Ribbon and packaging materials

Optional: Waterproof markers to embelish your project (Stampin' Up! sells some)

I decided on two stamps I already had: a flowery-vine stamp, and one that had several words that I felt described things their family has given or taught us... hope, faith, friendship, help, strength, determination, love. Those words describe my Pastorman and his wife, and their great kids perfectly.

I gently took the tiles out and sorted through them, choosing the 8 that I thought matched best and weren't chipped or scratched. I then wiped them off on all sides with a damp paper towel, followed by a dry one (they are dusty when you get them).

Next, I applied the ink to my stamp, then centered the stamp on the tile and smoothed over it, being careful not to rock the stamp at all (you'll get a mirrored/blurred/crazy effect if you rock it).

I let them dry completely (which was almost instantly), then I cut out cork to the size of the tile (just a little bit smaller on each side but enough to cover the entire tile bottom), and glued them on the back of each tile with Elmers Glue-All. Be careful not to apply too much glue, because when you smooth the cork out, it will bubble out. If it does bubble out, wipe immediately! Also, make sure you cover every outside end so it doesn't peel up.

Allow the glue on the tiles to dry completely (cork side up).

Stack your newly finished coasters in sets of 4, tie off with a pretty ribbon and package in a nice sturdy box. Christmas in a jiff, and Handmade with Love! (Thank you Sandy for the great inspiration, and thank you Elegant Crafts and Homemade Gifts for the extra tips I was looking for!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Homemade Stocking Stuffers

Oh, MY Glory. There are such creative women out there! I LOVE IT.

Power to the woman.

Ok, I'm getting a little carried away, but these crafty women just amaze me!

Here are a handful of awesome hand-crafted stocking stuffer ideas I thought you might enjoy. Get ready, set, GO! (all pictures were taken by the creators of the item and you can see more pictures on their blogs.)

This is an adorable way to jazz up a regular ol' tape measure. Lisa from A Spoonful of Sugar has come up with a great tutorial to turn a regular inexpensive tape measure into an adorable, fun, and eccentric gift idea!

And let me just say - it turned out beautifully, and I don't know about you, but personally, I'd LOVE to get one in my stocking! Words can not describe how smitten I am with it! And I know you will be too! It looks like it might need a few advanced sewing skills, but I have faith that you can do it!!! Go grab the tutorial and leave her a comment!

Here is an adorable key chain that would make an awesome homemade stocking stuffer! It looks so easy to make, the materials are inexpensive, and the time you would invest in making one is minimal. I think even a novice sewer could make one!

As soon as I'm unemployed, I might whip out a few for my nieces!

Hat's off to Creative Little Daisy for coming up with this sweet idea!

Enjoy her tutorial!!!


Thank you Martha! Yet again, Martha Stewart has a fun idea. MONSTER MITTENS!!! If I didn't love her so much, I'd hate her. Seriously. Look at these adorable monster mittens! They look so easy to make, AND she has a printable template. LOVE IT. It looks like you could whip these out in one or two hours. How fun is that?! I think I'll try to make a set of these for a Christmas Gift swap that my FOUR YEAR OLD has at school (crazy). His limit is $5.00. I think this will work out perfectly, don't you???

Can we all just say... aaaaaaawe!!!!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Emergency Announcement

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog post to bring you this emergency announcement:

BOOMAMA IS GIVING AWAY AN HP TOUCHSMART 600 COMPUTER.

It is slim, it is powerful and it has a TOUCH SMART SCREEN!!! LOVE IT.

Go NOW. Leave a comment on HER BLOG as to where you would put it if you won it.

The End.

Now go back to your regularly programmed blog post.

Thank you.

Can anyone say... BOOMAMA ROCKS!

Another Handmade Gift Idea

I saw an adorable hand-made gift idea I had to share with you. This gift is so sweet, and is made by Abby from A Feathered Nest. It elevates the regular ol' fleece blanket one step higher!

I will share a couple pictures from her blog, and the link love too, in case you don't read A Feathered Nest. She's very creative and quite crafty.

It's a good blog to nestle into.

Get it?

Never mind.

I present you with... A Feathered Nest's Blanket / Pillow / Snugglie. So cute.



Have fun with her tutorial, and while you're there, check out all her other excellent crafting ideas! (like her ADORABLE Advent Calendar and her sweet flower barrettes!)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

TodaysMama and Provo Craft are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What 5 items are on your holiday wish list this year?
- Cuisinart Bread Maker
- Electric Skillet
- Fossil Watch
- Rotiserie (set it, and forget it!!!)
- Perfume - Clinique Happy

2. What is your favorite handmade gift you have received?
- A hand-stamped necklace from Lisa Leanord Designs (for me)
- For my son: a reversible satin superhero cape with Spiderman and Superman for my son!!! Can't wait for him to open it!!

3. What handmade gift have you always wanted to tackle?
- Stained glass making - I'd love to make a stained glass cross
- A Recipe Book from Tastebook so I can pass it down to my son when he gets married.

4. What was the best Christmas gift you received as a child?
- A set of drums!

5. What items are on your kid’s wish list this year?
- Anything spiderman

6. What is your favorite holiday food?
- Christmas cookies!!! Especially Russian Tea Cakes! mmmmmm.....

7. What will you be hand-crafting for the holidays?
- Homemade gift-card holders from felt.

8. What is your favorite holiday movie?
- Oldie movies would be Holiday Inn or White Christmas
- New movie would be Last Holiday

9. Favorite holiday song?
- O Holy Night

10. Favorite holiday pastime?
- I love watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel. As many as possible!

In order to enter this contest, you need to complete this meme, tag some friends, then EMAIL: info@todaysmama.com WITH WISH LIST IN THE SUBJECT with a link to your post TO ENTER TO WIN.


You can also click on this LINK to enter your name and WISHLIST to email to someone. I got that all wrong. I though it was to tag your friends. It wasn't. OOPS! I'm not real clever. Brain dead momma!

Have fun!

Tag, you're it -- I tried to think of a couple crafty friends of mine that would enjoy all this awesome equipment!!!

Rita at Good Thoughts, Tammy at Praying for Parker, Pam at Without Fear and Beth at Life with Two Little Vikings

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Gift of the Month Club


In case you haven't noticed... this year, I did not host my "annual" Homemade with Love carnival.

I was just too busy, and that was one thing that had to go, and to be candid, last year, I about had a NERVOUS BREAKDOWN with all the "self-imposed" deadlines for homemade gifts, hand sewn stuff, and other WONDERFUL [ehem!] ideas I had.

I just wasn't going to go through that this year. I decided I would be done early enough that I could enjoy ALL of December with my family.

And, fortunately, I'm done with the very biggest thing of all ... my Christmas shopping. I've been done, in fact, since the last weekend of October. Some things I've ordered are still trickling in, but for the most part, I have everything and I'm getting ready to wrap furiously! WooHoo! WAY ahead of the game!

Momma ROCKS.

Anyway...

I did want to take a moment to share what I think is a FABULOUS, CHEAP-ish, FUN idea that I came up with back in 2006. I promised a fellow blogging friend of mine (who DID notice I hadn't posted Homemade With Love, bless her heart) that I'd post some favorite homemade ideas throughout the month of December.

Here's idea number one. It is a special "Gift of the Month" club. Not one of those expensive ones you find on line or in specialty shops, but one you lovingly make yourself (with or without the help of your children, depending on the receiver). And the beauty is... you don't have to pre-make all twelve months at one time! Love it.

Here are some of my favorite ideas that I posted back in 2006:

1. Homemade Sweet of the Month Club: Begin with one box of lovingly made sweets (sugar cookies, brownies, oreo bonbons, whatever), and attach a card stating that they will receive one new treat each month. You can give them caramel popcorn, candy, homemade goodies, the options are limitless! (great gift for grand parents, aunts/uncles, pastors, teachers, etc.)

2. Homemade Love Gift of the Month: A special idea for your spouse! It is affordable, unique, and loving. You can do things like a candle-lit bubble bath with rose petals, or a special candle-lit meal for two (kids go to Grandma and Grandpa's for the night), or a shoulder / foot massage, or an evening at the movies, or an evening in front of the fire place with a gourmet dessert, quiet music, and no kids ... I'm sure you can use your imagination on special things your spouse will truly enjoy (and you, too)!

3. Joke of the Month Club: This is a cute gift for a child to give mom or dad (or anyone, really). All they have to do is come up with one joke each month to share with the recipient.

4. Gift of the Month Club: If you can't come up with a themed name, just call it Gift of the Month club! You can pick twelve ideas and list them out for them, or just make it a surprise each month.

Here are some ideas from my 2006 post that you can incorporate in a generic "Gift of the Month" club:

Italian Dinner for Two (or however many you wish)
Mexican Fiesta Night for Two
Pot of Homemade Soup (Potato, Chicken & Rice, Vegetable, etc.)
Homemade Bread
One Gallon of homemade/specialty/gourmet Ice Cream
Special Dessert
Cake
Pie
Large variety of homemade cookies
Specialty Brownies
Framed picture of the grandchildren
Fresh Cut Flowers (Costco has GREAT prices on awesome flowers)
Plant of the season
Herb Garden
Gourmet Coffee
Basket of Seasonal Fruit
Basket of Homemade Jams or Butters (apple butter)
Basket of Garden Fresh Vegetables
Basket of Fresh Gourmet Muffins
Bottle of Wine
Imported Beer
A Music CD
A Move on DVD
Variety of Gourmet Nuts
Gourmet BBQ Basket
Gift Bag full of Bulbs
A basket of Fall pumpkins and gourds

This can lead to a very fun and creative Christmas celebration. The important and key thing here is to use your imagination and then FOLLOW THROUGH.

You can go to my previous post to get tips on how to implement this gift idea!

Don't you just love it???

Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It's a Giveaway!

Sandy at Reluctant Entertainer is hosting a giveaway! Hip Hostess has a beautiful variety of aprons on her site, and this week, Debbie is giving away one Melon Splash Demi Style Apron at Reluctant Entertainer's blog!
To have a chance to win, all you have to do is go over to Reluctant Entertainer and answer this question on her blog (you do not have to have a blog to enter or win):

"What is home to you?"

I love that question, and now that I'm unemployed and facing a whole series of changes, it really made me stop and think.

Here's what I answered:

"Home is where my child can feel safe, loved, and know that his parents adore each other and him. It is where he can bring all his friends and hang out, have fun, eat good food, and be themselves. It is where we celebrate birthdays, holidays and make memories. Home is where we learn about God's love for us, learn about hospitality, and open our hearts and arms to others. Home isn't just four walls and a roof... it is the love that fills the structure and makes you feel welcomed, secure, and comfortable."

So... What's home to you?

To have a second chance to win, just blog about it, or tweet it or post it on Facebook and let her know!

Winner will be announced at Sandy's blog on Friday, Dec.4. Good luck!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

My Top Ten Wonderful Reasons for Being Unemployed

For your reading pleasure, here is a list I've compiled of my top 10 wonderful reasons for my being unemployed:

1. I can clean and REALLY organize my house. Especially my "truck-stop" bathroom in the master bedroom. Ick. And I can purge, purge, purge... My hubby will LOVE me.

2. I can play spiderman with my son when he gets home from school. Pshew! Pshew!

3. I can begin testing recipes and taking pictures!!! WOOO HOOO!

4. I can go back to writing my book... which has been on again, off again all year, and now can officially be ON again.

5. I can bake for Christmas without feeling rushed and uptight!

6. I can enjoy the evenings with a home cooked meal I've had time to make - usually my husband does the cooking because he gets home at 4, and I get home at 6.

7. I can relax with my boys as we snuggle and cuddle and watch Christmas movies. Boy... is my husband gonna LOVE THAT. NOT!

8. My son can sleep a whole 90 minutes longer in the mornings before going to school! That totally ROCKS.

9. I can fix a decent, healthy sit-down breakfast for my kid instead of grab-it and roll! (he actually begged me for oatmeal the other night)

10. I can sit back and see what God has in store for us! The best thing of all!!!

Sounds like a plan!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Pouting Session

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I got laid off last week. Along with so many OTHER changes that loosing a job will create, I also loose my company lap top.

So, in order to be able to continue being mobile, I woke up this morning at 4:15 so that I could get to WalMart by 4:45 in order to get in line for a laptop.

And wouldn't you know... The laptop that was on sale that started at FIVE AM was sold out at THREE AM.

Nice.

Then I stood in line for one hour to get to the section where they had all the flier-sale toys and videos. I asked no less than 4 people if that was where I could find the Wii Carnival game for $10. I was assured I was in the right line. When I got to the entrance, I asked again, and was told that they didn't have any because they didn't come in their shipment. GREAT! I decided to go in anyway and get whatever other Wii game I could get my hands on. As I was WAITING IN LINE to leave the game and toy area, I saw a manager, and asked her if they would still honor the $10 price of the Wii Carnival game since they didn't arrive for the sale.

She replied, "Oh, no ... they DID arrive. We're just sold out."

Crestfallen. Again.

As I was winding my way out of the toy area, the manager came running up to me with a Wii Carnival game!!! She found one just laying on top of some other toys and brought it to me.

God bless that woman. GOD BLESS her. Whoever she was. She just saved me like $30!

And really -- it was silly I even went out, because I've been done with all my Christmas shopping since November 2nd or 3rd. I just got SUCKED IN to Black Friday.

I guess I need to learn all the tricks of the trade if in the near future, Black Friday stands to be the best way that a family on one income gives their children a great Christmas, huh?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!


There is so much I'm thankful for... my family, in particular, comes to mind, as they have done so much to help and support us through this past year. Now as we face a particularly challenging new year, I know that God will continue to be faithful to us, and will continue to bless us exponentially. I'm excited to see what he has in store for us

I pray that you and your families all enjoy the love and warmth of good food, love, and fellowship on this special day of Thanks

Cultivate a thankful spirit... it will be to thee a perpetual feast. There is, or ought to be, with us no such thing as small mercies. A really thankful heart will extract motive for gratitude from everything, making the most of even scanty blessings!" —Author Unknown
Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Life Changes You Never Think Will Hit You

You would think that when you turn 42, your huge life-impacting changes are over with. Life is secure, mortgages are close to being over, you're far into your career (having worked hard in your youth to get where you are) and retirement is right around the corner.

Unless you live in today's world, with today's economic problems.

Instead of having a secure sense of life-impacting changes being over when I turned 42 last week, I was given notice that my position was being abolished. My company has no new work the rest of the year, no new work for next year, and numerous of our current jobs are ending within the next six months, with many people coming off of job sites.

At the time they gave me this news, they were still holding out hope that we would win a multi-billion dollar job, but today, we received word that we lost that bid.

This indeed is a life-impacting change that will affect more people than just me in my company.

Last week, 20 people were laid off. Today, close to a hundred people that were assigned to this "job in waiting" were told that there is no longer a "job in waiting." More people will be laid off next week, the week after, and the week after that.

I'm fortunate to have a full month's notice. I may not be as fortunate to find a job or retain our current home, but I'm so blessed to have a relationship with a God who is in the business of miracles. I'm also blessed to have a husband who is so positive and strong. My heart was saddened for how my child's life will be changed, but I'm positive that God will provide and take care of us.

God is in charge. God knows what we are facing, in fact, he knew before I did and before my boss did.

I'm excited to see what God's plans are in our life in the next coming months. Maybe it is to get my masters in counseling? Maybe it is to finally finish writing one of the many books I've started and actually "market" it to potential publishers! Maybe its just to take care of my family, or maybe its even to get a new and better job.

Whatever his plans are, I'm excited, because I know He's walking right beside me, and so is my husband, child and family and friends.

Please keep me and my family in your prayers. I would truly treasure them!

Walking in faith. Walking in the hope. Walking in Christ - the only true way to go.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

...Keepin’ it real banana!

Several years ago, when my friends boys were 4 and 6, I was over at her house visiting. Her youngest was WILD about the Wiggles, and loved to dance to the DVDs. He would ask her to get up and dance with him, and she would. She told me it's fun, and that one day, I'd be doing this with Hunter, because you'll do silly stuff for and with your kids.

I laughed.

And I said something like... "Not on your life! I HATE the Wiggles and dancing like that's just silly!"

And you know what? I never had to dance to the Wiggles.

But...

Fast-forward to the year 2009.

A new group is emerging ... The Fresh Beat Band (that's them to the right). They're not all that great yet, and even quite silly... but Hunter loves them. They are a new group that beat box, rap, sing, break-dance, hip-hop dance, and act silly while teaching kids how to spell, rhyme, think fast, dance, work together, help each other, and other lessons that are passed through the music they sing. They also teach them how to be creative by playing music on ordinary items like boxes, trash cans, lids, etc.

Hunter loves to turn them on and jump on my bed, dance, sing, rap, break dance, hip-hop, spin, jump, body slam (well, not really), and act silly like they do. In turn, I LOVE for Hunter to turn them on and jump on my bed, dance, sing, rap, break dance, hip-hop, spin, and jump so he burns of energy (especially on rainy days!).

And then, two weeks ago ... two.weeks.ago. -- a day I'll permanently mark in my brain -- Hunter asked me to dance with him to the Fresh Beat Band. And I did. Because my son asked me to. And I love me some Hunter (name who said that quote first: "I Loves me some...").

And now I know what my girlfriend meant.

We danced to "Bananas" a silly song that has words like this: "Peel banana, feel banana, keepin’ it real banana!" And we had so much fun. If you look back, the Wiggles weren't that great when they first started either, but the Fresh Beat Band has some really fun, wholesome and engaging songs. Given a few seasons, I'm sure they'll get better.

So anyway, I now dance with my kid, and have fun doing it.

So hip hop, and pop, and have a great day dancing with your kids!

"Na na na na na na na let's go bananas!!!"

You can see 10 of their videos by clicking HERE.

You can read about them HERE.

I wonder if I should record these songs to play at Hunter's wedding???

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

Experts from today's post were originally published on June 27, 2006

Today is Veteran's Day, and I'd like to honor a friend of mine:

Justin Davis
Son, Friend, Youth, Soldier
Child of God
1987 - 2006


On June 26, 2007, I received a heartbreaking call from the Youth Pastor of my church telling me that a former youth of mine, Justin, who was located in Afghanistan, had been ambushed and did not survive. Justin was barely 19, young, full of life, with a contagious grin. His mother's only child. A beautiful young man with so much potential. But yet, God knew his plans for Justin's life.
Several months prior, he was deployed to Afghanistan. On his last Sunday at church, he told me he was afraid and started to tear up. I hugged him, and for some reason, I felt led to grasp his face. I said to him, "Justin, know that you are a child of God. Be sure of your relationship with Christ before you step foot on the plane to go over there. Be certain that you can always cry out to God, and that he will never, ever leave you." He assured me that that he was a Child of God. Saved. He knew God was with him, and would not leave him. He knew who he could call on. I hugged him, and prayed over him. I prayed a hedge of protection around him. I prayed that God would put a fleet of guardian angels around him. I prayed that he would always sense God's presence.

We were both misty eyed, but I knew in my heart, and still to this day feel, that Justin was where God wanted him to be. Justin was in a place that tested his faith. It required him to really believe in something he couldn't see or feel or taste. Justin had to lean on God with all he was worth. He never would have been challenged in his spiritual walk like that here. If Justin had not enlisted in the Army, I don't know what his future would have held back here, but I'm certain that if Justin had been faced with a tragic end here at home, he may not have cried out to God. Why? Because we have everything here in America. We have no need to lean on God as if our life depended on it. But in Afghanistan ... that's all you have. That, and your fellow soldiers.

Justin was was a member of the A Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Unit. The 1-32 Infantry has hundreds of men stationed in the high mountains on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the soldiers spend an enormous amount of time in the field hunting down the enemy. It is difficult work, and it can be dangerous, but the soldiers are masters of the task. You can see why they need our prayers!

Justin served bravely, along side hundreds and hundreds of our armed forces - men and women.
To each person out there still protecting our country, thank you for fighting bravely. Your lives are different when you return home... permanently changed from all the atrocities you see on a daily basis -- horrible things I'm spared from because you are over there protecting us.

On this Veteran's day, I thank you! It's not much, but it is from the bottom of my heart.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Parenting Issues

Sorry this post is so long and somewhat discombobulated, but I just have to release everything in my head.


Please know, that I’m sharing this post only to encourage other parents going through the same thing. Because I know how much encouragement I need on a regular basis … and recently at our women’s retreat, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that it’s been particularly difficult and rather discouraging raising a child at our older age, because all of our friends/peers currently have TEENAGERS or COLLEGE-AGED kids and are unable to commiserate, as they are in a different stage of life than we are. They are at an established authoritarian place in their relationships with their kids, as well as becoming their friends. I, on the other hand, have a 4 year old that likes to push every boundary. Some might think its cute… but I just wither inside when he misbehaves terribly in public.

On the other hand, all of our friends that DO have a child either the same age or close to Hunter’s age are all in their twenties and early thirties. They have energy. They stay up all hours of the night. They can chase, and chase, and chase their kids, while keeping up with their energy levels. Their minds are not forgetful, and their spirits are not battle-wounded and they are able to come up with fresh and great discipline ideas. Their batteries are fully charged and ready to go.

My batteries are about dead, and sometimes I feel like I’ve been fighting in the front lines with William Wallace (Mel Gibson) on Braveheart.

My husband has been gone this entire week hunting. He’s in Kentucky. Eight hours away. Sob.

My husband does a LOT of stuff around the house to help out… including cooking on weekdays, because I get home too late from work to start a meal from scratch (which is what we prefer – healthier).

I’m tired and want my husband back.

Anyway… it has been very hard trying to get done by myself everything that the two of us normally do! Especially with a particular 4-year old who is going through some tough developmental stages right now (who will remain nameless to protect the “innocent” – HA!)

So, HUNTER (the innocent) has been quite a handful. He is going through an “anger” phase, and is learning how to control and express his emotions. It’s been such a joy. Really. NOT.

Both my husband and I have had incredible parenting breakthroughs over the last couple months, due in part to James Dobson’s “The New Strong-Willed Child” CDs, and in part to (but mostly) just crying out to the Lord for help and clarity. Sometimes, the only thing that has kept us going on the path of sanity is the knowledge and understanding that a strong-willed child raised in a Godly home, with Godly values and principles, by Godly parents, will turn out to be a strong-willed Godly adult.

I don’t know about you, but to me, that is such a comfort, praise God!

Some of the things my husband and I have started doing is NOT disciplining out of anger by counting to 10 (or 1,000); being very consistent (this is so much harder than it sounds); finding creative, but effective disciplining methods for our child’s personality (spankings do NOTHING for Hunter); and disciplining with soft, calm tones in our voices.

Another time, I’ll share with you an example of what I went through this week, but first, I want to explain some of the things we’ve changed.

Hunter is a dramatic child. I have NO IDEA where he gets that from. It certainly doesn’t come from his mother who has a personality of an EXCLAMATION! POINT!

We have found that if we raise our voices and scream at him (which for some reason, I had really taken to doing), he will scream back at us like a crazed lunatic. Now, I have always been a huge proponent of speaking gently and kindly to your child. HUGE. Especially when I didn’t have children of my own. Until I had my own child, and then, out of frustration, threw that silly theory out the window.

Over the past few months, my husband has been encouraging me to tone down my voice and decibel level when I discipline Hunter. Surprisingly, I’ve noticed over the last few weeks that if Hunter does something worthy of discipline, I don’t have to raise my voice. I simply have to walk over to the wooden spoon, pick it up and go to punish him. He knows he’s done something wrong. Believe me. I don’t need to yell or scream. I just spank, and calmly, without emotion explain why I spanked him, and tell him I love him. All this while he proceeds to scream in such a dramatic fashion that I fear the neighbors might contact Child Protective Services thinking I’m torturing the poor child.

Don’t worry. He cries like that when we put him in time out, too.

Another change I made was I stopped repeating myself over and over and over: “Hunter, pick up your toys. Hunter! Pick your toys up! HUNTER – PICK YOUR TOYS UP RIGHT NOW!”

It was totally NOT effective with Hunter.

After analyzing what I had been doing with my husband, and complaining that he never listened or obeyed, we came to the conclusion that I was parenting too much from the chair (side-lines) and expecting Hunter to obey immediately. Again, Hunter is a strong willed child. He is going to buck anything and everything he can, including and especially instructions from a side-line cheer leading parent. He needs a hands-on, in your face parenting style that constantly reminds him he’s doing something. So I had to become far more involved than I had ever thought would be required of a parent. Normally, when a parent says “pick up your toys and put them away” you can expect your child to obey immediately.

With Hunter, I have to keep bringing him back into focus. I will stand next to him while he does his cleanup tasks, sometimes helping, but mostly encouraging him to concentrate on his task and make sure that he doesn’t get easily distracted (which he does and will). He also likes it when I count for him (like timing him) - because he thinks he’s going to beat some kind of world record. Cracks me up.

Other times, I have to go and take him by the hand to his shoes on the floor in the family room, and ask him to pick them up and put them in his shoe bin. I follow him to make sure they actually get put in the bin without ending up on the floor in the dining room because he stopped to pick up a crumb or penny or toy on the floor.

Some people say it might be ADHD. Others say it is typical 4-year old BOY behavior. Regardless, I need to be a “proactive” parent, not a “side-line” parent (which works nicely for some, but not for us).

Another discipline tool we use is the toilet. I know some may think what I’m about to say is extreme, but you have to put it in context with the type of child you have. We use the toilet (with the lid down) in the powder room as his spot for time out. Our stairs are in the middle of the family room, and he has access to way to many distractions to focus in on the fact that he is being punished.

The powder room, however, has absolutely NO distractions, and it just breaks his heart that he can not be in the same room with everyone, or watching TV from the steps. My sister and brother-in-law discovered the “power of the toilet seat” when they were temporarily staying in a smaller home with 4 children. They had to get creative on where to put a child in time out without the other kids distracting them, and soon enough, the toilet became the place of choice.

Whether it is the laundry room, the powder room, or a quiet corner, a place without distraction is what works best for Hunter when he’s put in time out.

Consistency, while innocent sounding enough, is the hardest with us. When you threaten a punishment, follow through, and BOTH parents need to be on board. My husband and I have had a tough time on this one point. I’m far softer than he is (as is the case in most homes), but I’ve had to toughen up. For instance, if Hunter does not have a green day at school, but rather a yellow day, he isn’t allowed to watch TV, play with friends, or eat any treats. That’s easy enough… but if he has a RED day, all those apply, plus he gets a spanking. Usually red days are pretty bad, and it’s hard for me to come home with my child after giggling and smiling in the car, and look in his book bag and find out he had a red day and I have to spank him. My heart just drops. He would fight us at first, but now, about a month into this, he just turns to face me, puts his hands and head into my belly, and I give him two strong swats. He usually cries quietly, and holds on to me while I explain that every time he comes home with a red day he gets a spanking. It’s heart breaking for the mom (or dad) but when your child responds the next day with a green day, it confirms that you’ve done the right thing.

The most important thing I’ve learned (thanks to my husband) is to remain calm. Calm, calm, calm. Sometimes, I have to pretend to be a robot, or an alien who can’t speak or react… just to keep me focused on remaining calm and monotone, but it has been one of the most effective changes I’ve made.

Yes, all these changes are and have been great. No, it didn’t happen over night. But praise God, because of these changes, discipline is getting easier in our household.

I have spent many hours crying, and praying that God would help me be a better mom, and while I’m not there yet… I can definitely see Him answering that prayer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bible Study

I am so excited... I'm getting ready to start a new Bible study, and I can't wait to dive in! It's an inductive study by Kay Arthur, and if anyone else is interested, it is called Opening the Windows of Blessing - a study of Haggai, Zachariah and Malachi.

I'd love to hear your feed back if you begin studying this book, and I want to know how God is blessing you through this study!

And you can be assured that I'll be sharing my own opinions!

You can find other Kay Arthur inductive Bible studies here:

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/cms_content?page=62693&sp=1025&event=1025SBF241435

Thursday, October 08, 2009

It Aint Easy Being Cheesey


It just aint.

Someone at my job ... I'm not sure who ... went out and purchased a wholesale club size package of Cheetos cheese puffs, and poured it into one of those huge clear empty pretzel tubs, and set it by my cube.

Frankly, I'm pretty ticked off about this. So are my hips.

I would gladly thank whoever placed those here, to MOVE them before I am forced to EAT them all.

Oh, my stars, but they are delicious. And, since they are mostly made of air, they can't be all that bad, can they!?

Does anyone know how to remove the orange cheese stain from your finger nails? Someone here was asking, that's all... thanks!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Happy Birthday, Son!


Today, Hunter turns 4, and we are just amazed at all the changes we see in him. He is becoming a big boy so quickly!

This weekend, we took Hunter to Lancaster for a fun-filled weekend. We had an awesome time, and really enjoyed every moment we had with our wonderful, joyful son. It is amazing to think that in a blink of an eye they grow so fast... but they do. And it brings a tear to both our eyes!

We can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for Hunter. Everything he does, he does with amazing zeal, and we pray that he continue to capture his relationship with Jesus with that same zeal!

We love you so much Hunter! Happy Birthday, little stinky-boy-buddy!

Love Daddy and Mommy

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What a Discovery!

Hold the phone!

I think I've made an earth-shattering, mind-blowing discovery.

In fact, I’m certain that NO ONE has ever connected the dots and these thoughts are original and come after years and years of my own proven scientific research. Therefore, I present to you, that these findings should be published in the New England Medical Journal of Medicine… by me, GiBee, Google Doctor of Medicine!

Ehem. Here it goes…

Aspartame is addictive.

Silence… crickets chirping…

Okay. Maybe I didn't say it loud enough…

ASPARTAME IS ADDICTIVE!

Or maybe GiBee has an addictive personality? Sadly, that could very well be!

Anyway, at first, I thought it was Diet Coke that was addictive. I blamed it all on the caffeine in the soda. I couldn't go one day without the stuff, and if I did, I’d be jonesing like a junkie trying to catch a score. Or score a catch. Or something like that.

But for numerous reasons that will remain unpublished, after I had my Gal Bladder removed, I found that I was no longer able to tolerate caffeine. It came to a head when I had my ankle surgery and had to rely on easy-to-fix-and-carry drinks (like a bottle of water).

Have I mentioned how much I hate water? Yeah. I know its good for you, but I still hate it.

In comes Crystal Light on-the-go packets. Oh, my word. What a revolutionary twist for water. I know I’m slow on this, but as I mentioned before… I was addicted to diet coke.

Then I discovered that I no longer needed caffeine to function, but now I find that I consume vast, VAST quantities of … Crystal Light, which has no caffeine. Just Aspartame.

Coincidence?

Maybe.

But I’d say it’s pretty suspicious, wouldn't you?


Oh, all right - so maybe I'm not the first to discover this... but for heavens sake! I think manufacturers put it in their product on purpose!

I need to detox.

Friday, September 25, 2009

School and Modesty

So far, the fourth week of school is going very well, but the first three??? Not so well.

Hunter cried and cried and cried when I left him in the gym for before-school care. He ran out of the gym numerous times after me when I walked down the hall to leave. For two weeks this was my struggle. I was a half hour late to work every day.

The turning point was when the teacher that sat at the table checking children in came over and took him by the hand and suggested they play. That made him feel welcomed.

Now he whimpers a little and begs me not to go, but once someone engages him, he's off and has a great day at school. Praise GOD!

On another topic, I wanted to discuss modesty. A friend and fellow blogger, Jules from Everyday Mommy, was interviewed on Crosstalk. She was discussing Moms for Modesty. Jules originally began Mom's for Modesty back in 2006, and continues to move forward with this all-important topic. She did a fabulous job, and you can listen to the whole talk show here (and I encourage you to): http://www.crosstalkamerica.com/shows/2009/09/modesty.php

Like Jules, I don't have a daughter, and while the modest attire mostly impacts the way females dress and the inappropriate styles that designers create for the young girls, I must say that it also crosses over a little to the young men as well. The school my son goes to does have a uniform, but while Hunter is in pre-K, he is allowed to dress in "play" clothes. My husband and I have made a conscious decision to dress him in a "uniform" of sorts. I will only put him in long shorts or long slacks, and shirts that are either "polo" shirts, collared shirts, or turtle necks. Basically -- modest church clothes that mimics the school's uniform. The school doesn't allow the kids to wear shirts that have logos or sayings on them. I must say, that there are so many shirts with sayings on them that I will not put on my child because they are inappropriate. I have found, however, that I can purchase "uniform-like" clothing at Lands End at a fairly affordable price (solid shirts - long and short sleeved, slacks, shorts, sweat pants).

But when it comes to boys, the way you dress them isn't what I think is most important. I think it is more important what you teach your son about modesty. My husband is what I'd call my "modesty police," in that he always looks at my outfit and will let me know if he things it is too revealing or low cut. Needless to say, I'm my own hardest critic. I'm overweight, and shy about my figure. I would never, ever wear anything that I felt was inappropriate. But one thing I'm fully aware of is: My son looks at me and how I dress, and he will remember the examples that I'm setting now as to what is or isn't acceptable and/or Godly when he is considering dating a young girl in the future.

It is no secret that men are visual, and my husband and I need to teach my son how to avert his eyes, how to be polite but avoid girls that are immodest or provocative, and how to address it directly and immediately. But more importantly, I need to "practice" it... and fervently pray a hedge of protection around my son's eyes!

Each day I pray for my son's future wife. I pray that she be a Godly young woman with a firm foundation rooted in scripture, lovely in spirit, caring and loving to my son and their children, and modest and honorable.

Jules stated that "Modesty starts with the inward foundation," and one quote that Jules shared from her friend Elle really resounded in me: "When a woman takes the time, diligence and investment of will to properly attire her spirit with the strong spiritual foundations of God's truth, then her outward life and its example evidentially display those disciplined choices."

Very well said.

Whether you have a son or daughter, modesty matters.

Make a statement today. Please hop on over to Moms for Modesty and sign the petition!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Texting and Driving

If you don't do anything else today, please make sure you watch this video... then show it to your kids that drive... and their friends... and their friends. Then send the link to all of your friends that have kids that drive. Its only 15 minutes long. Fifteen minutes that will change the way you think about texting and driving. Please make sure you enlarge the video for the whole screen.

Then... for the love of Pete -- STOP TEXTING AND DRIVING.

My life is at risk.

So is yours.

Here's the link to the website: http://ut.zerofatalities.com/texting.php

Edited to add: I've had to remove the video because it continuously plays and was driving me NUTS, as I'm sure was doing so to everyone else. Just follow the link above. Thanks!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fall Fever

I have really got a fever for the fall. I love everything about it... the crisp and cool days, the blue of the sky, the colors of the changing leaves, the apples, the pumpkins, the food and awesome recipes... Yep. I love it all. But nothing beats the delicious smell of wood burning in some one's fireplace!

So in honor of the official day of autumn being just around the corner, I'm going to share with you a delicious, out of this world recipe.

It is for my famous Apple Pie Bars. They are a hit each and every time I make them. I've made them for Dinner for a Dollar at church, pot lucks, our Church Thanksgiving dinner, holiday celebrations, and for neighborhood gatherings ... and let me just tell you ... the plate always comes back empty. Now, THAT'S the biggest compliment and acknowledgment of a "sure thing!" I got this recipe from Taste of Home -- ohmygoodness they are yummy and have a rich apple taste. The recipe yields a lot, but none will be left! I originally posted this last fall but thought I'd share them AGAIN -- yep. They are THAT good.

Prep Notes: The dough is a bit tricky, as it is very crumbly, so if you are a novice baker, might I recommend the pre-made pie dough they sell in rolls? Otherwise, you will want to use the dough recipe provided as it has a nice texture-flavor thing going on! Also, I used a small pizza dough rolling pin to roll it into the pan because I found it to be so crumbly. You might want to try rolling the top crust out in several pieces to make it easier to handle. Finally: this is a forgiving recipe, so if you "forget" (ehem!) certain ingredients (like the crisp rice cereal) it will still work. The rice cereal is a thickening agent, and I don't recommend you skip it on purpose. Only if you're slightly distracted by a three year old that has been screaming in the background for over a half hour.

Ingredients:

Crust:
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shortening
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2/3 cup milk

FILLING:
1 cup crisp rice cereal
8 cups sliced peeled tart apples (about 9 medium)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon apple pie (or pumpkin pie) spice or all spice
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

Topping:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt; cut in the shortening until crumbly. Combine egg yolks and milk; gradually add to crumb mixture, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Divide in half. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 15-in. x 10-in. rectangle. Spritz some Pam in a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in baking pan and place one rectangle in the pan; sprinkle with crisp rice cereal (see prep notes above).

Arrange apples over cereal. In a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon and apple pie spice; sprinkle over apples. Top with remaining pastry; cut slits in top. Brush with egg whites.

Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. In a bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and enough milk to achieve a thick drizzling consistency. Drizzle over bars. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 3-4 dozen.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

HomeGoods Quiz and $5,000 Giveaway

I haven't been a very good blogger lately.

Maybe it is because I needed a break, even though I was just home for 6 weeks after ankle surgery. I need a BREAK. Not pain.

Maybe it is because I'm tired from our new morning schedule. Tired from waking up at the crack-of-dawn, lack of sleep in the middle of the night when my son wakes up crying, and tired from long days at work.

Maybe it is because I'm burned out... ?????????

Maybe it is all of the above. I'm inclined to believe that. Are you?

So to help break my silence, I've taken a quiz that Sandy at Reluctant Entertainer, and PK at Room Remix featured on their blogs. It is a HomeGoods StyleScope Quiz. The results? Well... I'd have to say -- eerily on target. Eerily. (I just wanted to say that again). It's an easy test - point and click. Anyone can do it. Especially people brain dead like me!

Here are the results: I'm Country Casual. Here's what they said about me...

Your home expresses your open, easygoing approach to life. You love unique finds, and can turn a few mismatched garden chairs or floral teacups into a charming arrangement. You appreciate a pretty mix of relaxed pieces, like painted wood or weathered furniture, lovely florals and other patterns, lots of throws and pillows, mementos and bunches of fresh flowers that give your home a unique sense of breeziness and charm.

You value comfort. Your home is a warm and open friendly place, and you feel happiest when everyone is cared for and relaxed in your space. Elements like pillows, throws, overstuffed furniture, and good lighting set the mood. You may also enjoy layering different fabrics or mixing patterns to create a cozy effect.


Hmmmmmmm ... Pretty accurate on most of it. But what I thought was even MORE accurate was this from their "Putting Your Style to Work!" section:

Your Design Challenge: ORGANIZE

Ummmmmmmm ...... DUH. YA THINK SO? My front hall is a revolving MESS. Mail on the dining room table, shoes on the floor, bags on the table... It does NOT set a good mood. I hate it. So now... I'm in search of an inexpensive console or possibly a used dresser with nice trays and bowls for mail, keys and sunglasses. That was their suggestion, and I'm gonna try to do it.

Fortunately, I have a place for hats, gloves and scarfs (a shoe organizer that I hung on the inside of the closet door), and I have a bin for Hunter that he should drop his shoes in, and hooks for his coats. So I'm half way there.

I will say this: My current home is more contemporary than my style is. My style is a mix of Contry Cottage, French Country, English Garden Bungalow. It doesn't go in my current home, and it makes me miss my old home so much I feel sick. It was a bungalow home with a picket fence. I had beautiful painted murals in the kitchen, powder room and bathroom that were like a garden, and it was so cozy. Like one of those places you go to have tea. One of these days I'll have a home like that again. One of these days.

Anyway -- enough pitty party!

Hop on over and take the quiz, then let me know what you are!

Don't forget to enter for a $5,000 weekly shopping spree drawing!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

I Will Not Fear, Stress or Worry

I just won't.

My baby is going to Preschool... Pre K-3... all day long. Today's his FIRST DAY! Woohooo!

He'll be 4 0n October 5th, but he's still in the three year old class because he missed the birthday cutoff by one week. It's not a bad thing, though... because he definitely has some maturing to do, so I'm sure he'll be just fine.

But I will not fear, stress or worry over the following things that may or may not happen while he is in school:

1. He may or may not remove all his clothing and walk around naked.

2. He may or may not ask someone to "pull his finger." We have Daddy to thank for that.

3. He may or may not take his pants and underwear off while going to the bathroom, then put them back on inside out or backwards, totally neglect to put his underwear back on, or stay in the bathroom screaming at the top of his lungs: "I need HELP. I need HELP. I need HELP."

4. He may or may not spit at someone or say "shush up" (his way of saying shut up -- these are things he learned in day care - joy!).

5. He may or may not miss his mommy and daddy so much that he cries all day.... waaaaaaaaaa!

6. He may or may not insist that red is really green. Yes it is! (unless, of course, he's color blind or "challenged")

7. He may or may not walk around humming the theme to Jeopardy. (picked it up at day care)

8. He may or may not break his neck performing super kamikaze stunts, somersaults, cartwheels or dive bombs from the classroom furniture.

9. He may or may not make accept the fact that there is indeed an "S" in the front of certain words, such as: S-nake, S-pot, S-top, S-care, S-pank, S-tare, S-cale, S-crewdriver, S-pider, S-poon, S-oft, S-ofa, etc. It's cute now, but I'm sure it won't be at age 18.

10. He may or may not pee outside behind the building when they go out for recess (crossing my fingers on this one).

All-in-all... I know he will have a wonderful time. He will be stretched to learn, and will enjoy playing with all the children. It will be different from the normal in-home daycare we've had him in. His provider has been absolutely wonderful and has treated him like one of her own grandchildren, and we are forever grateful to her for watching him.

Our little boy is moving on to a new chapter in his life and I can't wait to see all the changes it will bring! He's got his back pack ready, his new fall jacket hanging on the hook, his lunch box and thermos, and he's sooo exited. So, I will not fear, stress or worry, because this is a good thing. A very, VERY good thing.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Interesting Morning... and a Survey

Well today is turning out to be an interesting morning.

First, I was running 15 minutes late for work.

Then I reached into my purse to get my cell phone so I could call my boss and let him know I was running late ... only to find that I have no idea where my cell phone is!

Finally, the morning was topped off with a half-hour "stay" in our building's elevator. It got stuck between floors. There were two of us in the elevator, and the other chick was freaking out. Plus -- there was no air conditioning.

And now my hair is all frizzy. I hate it when that happens.

But, even though I'm claustrophobic, I was able to remain calm, and was able to calm down the young girl who was with me, and was able to share the reason why I wasn't afraid or freaking out. Praise God!

Regardless ... I really feel like I need to start the day over - with the exception of sharing the Gospel part.

Also ... I'd really like to point you over to a real-time friend's blog: Wretched Sinner. He's doing a survey and I'd appreciate it if you'd help him out with it. Basically, he's looking for your perspective on 10 terms commonly used to describe Jesus. It asks you to rank them from 1 to 10 with 10 being the most likely term you are to use, and 1 being the least likely. It takes a little bit of thought, but it is an easy, anonymous survey.

Can you hop on over and take a minute to complete the survey?

Have a crazy-blessed day! And share the gospel with someone!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Changes in my life...

I hate change.

In fact, I hate it so much that I would prefer to stay in a job I sort of like with a boss I hate than move to a job I'll sort of like with a boss I'll love. Trust me when I say... it isn't because I love to live in misery. In fact, no one treats me better than me. Except for maybe my husband. But, for whatever reason, I hate change.

And next week marks huge change in my life.

My son begins preschool. Pre-K-3. And I'm already dreading all the change. Because again, no one treats me better than me (or my husband). And I'll no longer be able to treat myself to waking up at the last minute.

For instance, I'll now have to wake up every day at 5:30 instead of 6:15, and folks, I am NOT a morning person. 45 minutes is HUGE to me! This means my alarm will now have to go off at 4:45 just so I can be awake enough to get out of bed by 5:30. To some, that's plain silly, like my husband, who can hit the alarm clock the first time it goes off and roll out of bed running. I hate people like that. And yet, I chose to spend my entire life with someone like that. I'm finding that "ironic."

Anyway, next change is that I'll be having to make lunches every day. That may be a good thing, because if I'm making one, I might as well make two -- one for him, one for me!

Of course, another change is that I'll be waking up TWO people and getting them both washed, brushed and dressed instead of one. Fortunately, only one of us uses makeup.

THEN ... oh, heavens. I'll have to fix BREAKFAST every single day. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And encourage a sleepy 4 year old to actually eat it, because it is, after all, brain food.

Finally, I'll have to drop Hunter off at before-care by 7:00 so I can make it to work by 7:30.

Did I mention I'm not a morning person?

Yeah. Changes.

Hate 'em.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

WFMW: Sandwich Ideas for Peanut Allergies

When my son was in daycare, there was a child who was deathly allergic to tree nuts, so we were not able to send any peanut butter sandwiches, trail mixes, granola bars, or anything containing nuts.

As you can imagine, that makes packing lunches less than ideal, as most kids love peanut butter and jelly! Fortunately, I only had to pack his lunch one time each week. I fell back on a good old standard: cream cheese and jam sandwiches.

As a result, to this day, Hunter does not like peanut butter. And while he loves peanuts and nuts of all kinds, I haven't been able to figure out if it is the texture or the flavor that turns him off. He just wont eat it. He does love tuna, hard boiled eggs, ham, turkey and other standards, but now that Hunter is going to pre-school and I'll have to pack lunch every day, I wanted to find some new cream cheese based sandwiches for him.

Here are nine recipes I'll be using this school year. Hopefully, I'll be developing more as the year goes on. If your child has peanut allergies, you might enjoy mixing these sandwich ideas up! Measurements are strictly for an idea. You know the consistency that your child would like, so use these recipes as a guide.

Cream-Cheese Banana Sandwiches

4 oz. cream cheese (room temp.)
1/2 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. raisins
2 slices canned pineapple, chopped

Combine cream cheese, banana, lemon juice, raisins, and pineapple. Spread on raisin bread.


Cream Cheese Cucumber Sandwiches

4 oz. cream cheese (room temp.)
1/3 med. cucumber, grated and well drained
1/4 small onion, grated
Pinch of salt
Mayonnaise (enough to make mixture spreadable)

Mix all together. Spread on bread.


Cream Cheese Veggie Sandwiches

4 oz cream cheese (room temp.)
1/4 carrot, shredded
1 green onions (chopped fine)
2 Tbsp green and red bell pepper (chopped fine)
Pinch of celery seed
Pinch of chopped dill
1 tsp lemon juice

Mix ingredients together in bowl. Spread on bread.


Fruity Cream Cheese Sandwiches

4 oz cream cheese (room temp.)
3/4 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
2 medium strawberries, sliced, diced or slightly mashed (more or less, depending on how much fruit you want in the sandwich)

Combine cream cheese, honey and orange zest in a bowl. Add diced strawberries (or blueberries, diced apple, raspberries, crushed pineapple, etc.). Spread on bread.


Thanksgiving Cream Cheese Sandwiches

4 oz cream cheese (room temp.)
2 Tbsp whole-berry Cranberry Sauce
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
Turkey or ham slices leftover from Thanksgiving dinner

Combine cream cheese, cranberry sauce and orange zest in a bowl. Spread on bread. Add leftover turkey or ham slices.


Pumpkin Bread Cream Cheese Sandwiches

4 oz cream cheese (room temp.)
chopped dried cranberries (optional)
chopped pecans nuts (optional)
1/8 tsp. pumpkin-pie spice
1/8 tsp. orange zest
orange juice (enough to make it spreadable)

Mix all together. Use thinly sliced pumpkin bread for sandwiches.


Peach Cream Cheese Sandwiches

4 oz cream cheese (room temp.)
1 peach, diced
A few drops of milk if necessary

Mix ingredients together in bowl. Spread on bread.


Mexican Cream Cheese Sandwiches

4 oz cream cheese (room temp.)
Salsa (add enough for desired consistency)
Shredded cheddar cheese (enough for desired consistency)

Mix ingredients together in bowl. Spread on bread.


Mandarin Orange Cream Cheese Sandwiches

4 oz cream cheese (room temp.)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
Mandarin oranges, juice drained (save juice to make a smooth consistency)

Combine cream cheese, honey and orange zest in a bowl. Add Mandarin oranges. Spread on bread.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Our God Reigns Here!

I'm going to open up and just be honest here, because I know I'm not alone.

Once in a while, I hit dry spots in my walk with Christ.

I've been a Christian for over 30 years (I know! And I look so young!), and it is easy to acquire the "been there, done that" attitude when reading scripture and walking your faith walk.

But even as a mature Christian, I face issues on a daily basis that leave me feeling like I just can't face them. They can fill me with fear and doubt. Praise God that I DON'T face them alone! I have the power of the Holy Spirit in me that help face trials and temptations.

But I am human, and many times (like now), I have trials that really leave me feeling afraid of what the outcome may be.

And then ... well, then something comes along my path – a little gift from God – that renews my spirit of faith, my strength, and reminds me that GOD REIGNS, and even if the outcome of my trials are not what I want, OUR GOD REIGNS and the battle is won.

Praise God!

And here is the powerful God Gift that came my way today that blessed my socks off. And I'm not even wearing socks today! I've listened to this ALL.MORNING.LONG – literally, and my spirit is renewed, and I'm ready to continue fighting this trial my household is going through. (Note to husband: Honey – you need to listen to this song ... claim the words and get a good night sleep tonight! I love you!)

And even after the gazillionth time of listening to this song, I’m STILL getting goose bumps. This was an answer to a prayer – no, really a CRY OUT TO GOD, that I sent out early this morning for courage and ENCOURAGEMENT.

I hope it blesses YOUR socks off too. Have a listen... again, and again, and again. There is power in these words!

Spirit of doubt and fear... depression, anxiety, addiction and infirmity ... I command you to leave in Jesus name. You’re not welcome here. MY GOD REIGNS here. I claim this ground in Jesus name because OUR GOD REIGNS. The battle's won. I have no fear, because God reigns here!
I claim it, I accept it, I believe it. Thank you John Waller! (he performed this song)

Go forth and worship!



p.s. -- It may not happen in MY timing, and the outcome may not be what I want… but the issues we are struggling with and the prayers we’re sending up will be answered!

Friday, August 14, 2009

This is getting ridiculous!

Last night, I went into my son's bedroom for prayers and to tuck him in.

Low and behold, I find him standing behind his fan.

Smelling his curtains.

Because his daddy let him spray Febreze into the air behind the fan.

A four year old. Loving Febreze.

And he looks at me and all excitedly says, "smells so good, mommy!"

Would someone stop the insanity ride and let me off, please?

I should be paid for living my life. Honestly, I haven't seen Febreze used so frequently in my household as I have this past 5 weeks where I was home recovering.

Makes me wonder what these boys do behind my back.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I think my husband has an addiction...

I’m in desperate need of some good Godly advice.

You see – I think my husband has a problem. An addiction that I've just uncovered.

When I confronted him about it, he broke down and said it started off as an occasional use (recreational?), but then quickly escalated to a more frequent problem. In fact, now he does it just because "he can." Isn't that an addiciton?

He is a strong, Godly man with outstanding morals and ethics, and I can't help but wonder how something this tragic could befall my family! And think of the example he’s setting for my son! It frightens me.

Ladies … if this can happen to my good Christian husband, it can happen to anyone. I've gone through my home to try to eliminate all temptation for him, but still … he manages to get his fix.

It's gone from hidden use in the laundry room, to behind closed doors of the bathroom, to now - anywhere he wants. He's become openly brazen about it, and I feel as though I really need to draw boundaries immediately, because I suspect he’s trying to get me to be a willing partner in this addiction, just so he can "feel good" about it. Why, just last night, I was lying in our bed when he walked into the room and took a huge snort of the stuff. I was shocked!

In fact… he sprayed it right into the fan and it blew all over me. I was so disgusted. It's becoming a problem in my home. My husband's addicted, and I’m now at my wits end.

I curse the day I ever brought Febreze into my home. Lavender Vanilla Comfort FABRIC freshener. He doesn't even bother to use AIR freshener!!!

What to do???

Monday, July 27, 2009

A CRAZY Time was had by all...

Oh, yes. I must say -- I hate a boring life. After all... how, well, boring would it be if life was calm, and went as planned on a daily basis. Right?

So, why would I have expected a normal healing time, no problems, bumps or hiccups along the way? In fact, I LAUGH at the thought of normal. Our lives are anything BUT normal.

My healing is going well. My ankle is starting to look better and better as the days go by, but, my doctor extended the time in which I could not bear weight on my foot by another 3 weeks, which means I'm home for another two weeks. Like I said... boring, right?

However. Last week, my husband decide liven things up by getting a nasty, nasty flu that landed him in the urgent care on Friday, and the emergency room on Sunday. Extreme muscle weakness and pain to the point that he couldn't press the buttons on the remote control and had to cancel... CANCEL ... two fishing outings. Now, THAT is a serious case of the flu.

Fortunately, my in-laws and my husband's brother and his sweet wife jumped in to help out (she's the one I refer to as SBee -- Hunter calls her Zia which is Aunt in Italian). Uncle D and Zia picked Hunter up Friday night, drove him three hours to the beach where the rest of the family was vacationing, and he had a blast. He got attention poured on him from his Mawmaw, Pawpaw, aunts, uncles, and one of his cousins. My husband's parents (have I mentioned they are saints?) are "entertaining" Hunter today, and doing some grocery shopping for us, because our house is empty of all things resembling meal-appropriate food (not to mention chocolate, and I didn't even add that to the list!).

So you see... nothing can be boring in this household. But then again, God promised us he wouldn't leave our sides during trials and tribulations. Praise God for that!