Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I have no exciting plans for ringing in the New Year.  Frankly, I think I'm getting old, because I honestly just want to go to bed.  But I do wish everyone a very happy and blessed 2011. 

Later I will post some goals I have for the upcoming year; maybe if I post them publicly I'll be more likely to do something about them!  Nothing like accountability.  :)  Also a friend of mine picked our her ten favorite blog posts for 2010 to do her own "Top 10" countdown.  I may look back over my 2010 blogs and try to choose ten favorites for you.  :)  It sounds fun, anyway. 

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

stain removal 101

I don't have to tell anyone here that children are messy.  Clothing will stain, and you will have to deal with it.  Such is life. 

However, this handy recipe will get a LOT of stains out of clothing.  I have used it successfully on all sorts of stains.  It hails from The Complete Tightwad Gazette, which I confess is one of my all-time favorite books.  (I know, surprise, surprise.  I can't help it; it's full of great tips and recipes and inspiration.  Some naysayers complain that it is outdated, and I do confess that it's amusing to read discussions of records vs. CDs or whether or not one should buy a home computer.  However, the principles are timeless even if the examples are not.) 

The official recipe is 1 cup Clorox II + 1 cup Cascade powder + 5 gallons of the hottest water you can get from your faucet.  Soak several garments overnight, then launder as usual.  It is not recommended for delicate fabrics or items that are not colorfast. 

I personally use Oxi Clean (or the Sun or Dollar Tree equivalent) and store brand dishwasher powder for this recipe.  I also use less of the powders and less water.  Still, it works--particularly on food stains. 

I used it quite successfully last week on this:



Dawn dish soap (or equivalent) also makes a goo pre-treater for stains, particularly greasy ones.  Apply directly to the stain.  Launder as usual.

Friday, December 17, 2010

soft serve

My friend TJ gave me this recipe, thinking it would be a good way for my lactose-intolerant daughter to have an ice cream equivalent as an occasional treat.  The bonus was that 1) it's healthy and 2) we ALL liked it!  The ingredients are things we have on hand pretty much all the time, so it's convenient to boot!

You will need:

2 frozen bananas
almond butter
honey
a blender

Unfortunately, there are no real amounts for this recipe; you have to go more by feel.  I added a couple of pretty hefty spoonfuls of the almond butter, so I'm to guess about 1/4 cup, and a drizzle of honey that might have been around a teaspoon.  Your mileage may vary.  You could certainly add more honey if you like it sweeter or less if you need to save calories/reduce sugar.  Blend.  The consistency is definitely soft serve, not true ice cream, but the flavor is superb--mild and nutty.  Natalie licked the bowl.  Thanks, TJ! 

This recipe is linked to Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap and Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Richie Petrie lives...

Okay, so no one but my dad is going to get that reference.  So I'll explain. 

My all-time favorite TV show is The Dick Van Dyke Show.  No matter how many times I watch it, it's still funny.  And the actors were so extraordinarily talented.  Anyway, the son on the show, Richie (played by Larry Mathews), frequently hid in one of the kitchen cabinets.  Rob or Laura would open the door to find him eating a snack or just hanging out.

I keep Tupperware and other plastics in the bottom cabinet in the kitchen (having plastic kept low means nothing will get broken; fragile items are stored up high).  Over the last few days Sarah and Natalie have decided that they really like playing in this bottom cabinet.  Sarah clears out the salad spinner and few other items, and they both climb in.  I guess this is the advantage to their small size; they both fit! 

So far, neither has tried to eat a snack in there (although Natalie has been known to take her almond milk), but I'll be on the lookout.  (As long as they don't start being as whiny as Richie was.  That's really my only complaint about the show; Richie was really an unlikable character at times.) 

In other news, I've been giving the girls a dose of elderberry syrup every morning.  Apparently the stuff must taste pretty good.  I was still sitting at the table sipping coffee this morning and said out loud, as a reminder to myself as much as anything, "Next I'll give you each your elderberry."  I hadn't moved yet to even open the refrigerator, but Natalie immediately opened her mouth, ready for the spoon! 

A few more pictures...

A few more pictures from September's California trip...if anyone likes pictures.  ;) 

In the hotel room...we were tired from flying all day, so she really wasn't in a "photo op" mood.

Natalie looks a little happier.  She slept some on the plane.

Sarah had a great time with both her cousin Connor and her cousin-once-removed Chelsea! 

This picture just cracks me up!  What an expression!

Two of the Butterworth men...

This photo is a treasure...the cousins with the great-grandparents.

Everyone all together...4 generations.

And the younger two generations...
Can I just say that the updates Blogger has done make it SO much easier to upload and post pictures? 

Monday, December 6, 2010

a few random photos

I love this dress...especially with the hat.  Natalie won't actually keep the hat on for very long, hence the need to preserve the moment via photograph.

See?  She's already looking somewhat put out.  I think the hat came off about 2.2 seconds after this picture got snapped.

Natalie loves to look at books.  She doesn't actually like to be read to much; she sees Sarah reading independently and thinks she should be able to do the same!

Here, both girls are curled up for some reading time. 

Hard at work. 

better late than never?

So...today I got our California pictures off of the camera!  Considering that we visited California in September, this is probably enough after the event that no one actually cares about the pictures anymore.  At least that would be the case if it weren't for the fact that most of my readers are family.  Grandparents and aunts don't care that the photos are several months old.  And some of the pictures are pretty good, I must say.  Some of them even show Natalie smiling! 

Natalie enjoying her yogurt breakfast as we get ready for our trip.


I love this picture of Sarah and Grandpa and the huge stuffed dog!  

A good profile shot of Natalie.


I realize that most of these are of Natalie.  The pictures I have of Sarah tended to be of her with other people...most especially my nephew Connor.  She really enjoyed hanging out with him.  However, I will try to post those to Facebook instead of here, because I know Tara and Nick are protective of Connor's pictures. 


Next I'm going to post some miscellaneous pictures that I found hanging out on the camera! 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

got yo?

Nelson LOVES ice cream.  We don't have it in the freezer often, but when we do he eats it frequently and in quantity. 

Natalie would love ice cream but of course can't have it.  But in the interest of fairness, we try to get frozen yogurt if we get ice cream so that she isn't left out.  She does love the frozen yogurt (and rice cream as well). 

Nelson got himself a bowl of ice cream tonight.  Natalie followed him into the kitchen begging, "Yo?  Want yo?  Yo?" 

It just cracked me up, first her pronunciation (too cute!) and second that she already knows she that she gets yogurt rather than ice cream. 

In other news, Sarah was disappointed that we were unable to get on the web cam with Grandma and Grandpa tonight.  She started to cry.  Natalie immediately went over to hug her big sister comfortingly.  Aw...(even cuter is the fact that Natalie always says, "Hug" when she is hugging someone). 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

natural and logical consequences

One parenting "expert" I like to read is Kevin Leman. One idea that he suggests (although it is not original to him) is the use of "natural and logical consequences" for behavior--the idea that the punishment "fit the crime." Sometimes you have to think of a consequence to fit this criteria, but sometimes it happens quite naturally on its own! This was the case yesterday.

Natalie has a habit of trying to play in my pantry, particularly with the spices. I keep the pantry closed up tight when I am not cooking, but sometimes the door the doesn't latch properly, and she finds an opening. I've been working on training her out, but I may not have to try to hard any more.

She got a hold of the cloves yesterday and even managed to get the lid off of the container. Then she got a whole mouthful of cloves! I had to laugh, but she didn't much care for the experience. I think she managed to make her whole tongue numb, and you should have seen her trying to scrape the spice off of her tongue! She hasn't been back in the spices since then. Granted it's only been a day, but still...kind of funny.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving here, celebrating with my parents and grandmother. We skipped Black Friday shopping; I don't like crowds much, especially crazed crowds, and you'd have to pay me to get me out of bed at 3:00 a.m.! If you snagged a great bargain, I'm thrilled for you, but I don't need the hassle and stress. (And I saved 100% by not going out to shop!) ;)

We spent yesterday putting up Christmas decorations. The tree is up, the dish towels are out, the candles and knickknacks are on display, the mugs are ready to fill with coffee, tea, and cocoa. Nelson even bought some outdoor lights to decorate out deck. Sarah is beyond thrilled.

I am going to try to find our Advent study again; I think Sarah will be able to get more out of it this year since she is reading independently. I may see if there is a different one available--one she could do on her own more or less. We'll see, I guess. Maybe we'll do both!

Perhaps I'll try to post some pictures of our decorations...I probably owe some photos of something at some point, huh? ;)

In other news, we were all actually healthy enough to make it to church this morning! (Read: Natalie was healthy enough for us all to make it to church this morning.) Woo-hoo! Here's hoping we can stay that way for awhile!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

a pox upon you

Before I get to the actual post, I will mention that yesterday's post was the 300th here at Pancake Chronicles. How about that. Three hundred posts. I can't believe I had 300 in me! And yet, here we are at 301!

On Thursday, November 11, I took Natalie for her 18 month well child check-up. It was about six weeks late, but life's like that sometimes. She got a round of vaccines, including the chicken pox vaccine. This is a live vaccine, so any effects from it would not show up right away; they would hit 7-14 days after the vaccine.

I know a lot of people don't vaccinate for chicken pox, and I respect that. I, however,had a HORRIBLE case of chicken pox at age 17. The vaccine came out three months after that, and you can imagine my resentment of that! So, anyway, although we don't do flu shots, I have let the girls get the chicken pox vaccine.

Wednesday, November 17, Natalie awoke with a raging fever. She didn't really seem to have any other symptoms, so I thought the vaccine was rearing its ugly head. I figured the fever wouldn't last too long, and everything would be okay.

The fever kept climbing, all the way up to 103, and Motrin really didn't seem to be bringing it down all that much. It lasted through Thursday and although it was lower, it was still present on Friday. Off the the doctor we went.

The doctor found blisters on Natalie's throat and named a virus as the culprit. I'm not going to attempt to spell the virus she named. She said that it wouldn't last any longer than the weekend and that Natalie ought to start feeling better soon.

Saturday Natalie did seem to be perking up finally. She ate and drank more than she had in days. She played some, rather than clinging and fussing. I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking we were almost out of the woods.

We had no plans to take Natalie to church Sunday morning, not wanting to share her virus with the nursery. Good thing. Natalie woke up Sunday broken out on her face, belly, back, arms, and legs. Yeah, you guessed it--the bumps and spots looked just like chicken pox! Sigh...

Fortunately, the spots were already fading by yesterday, and today they look much clearer. But I'm exhausted and frustrated and definitely ready for a completely healthy child!

As a whole, Natalie has been much sicker than Sarah has ever been. Sarah has caught the normal childhood colds and such, but she was four and a half years old before she needed her first antibiotic. We had to rush her to the doctor twice for injuries--once when she burned her face and chin and around her eye, and once when the iron hit her in the head. But overall, Sarah has been healthy and whole.

Natalie, on the other hand, has had numerous colds and several ear infections. She gets wheezy and needs albuterol. We end up at the doctor a lot between check-ups. The irony is, I've probably been more interested in health and nutrition with Natalie than with Sarah. It just goes to show, I guess, how very different children are. No matter how you try to raise them, genetics play a big role, and you can't control everything.

Anyway, we're done with vaccines for awhile. Here's hoping we can be done with illness for awhile too! I think I'm going to buy the hugest bottle of elderberry extract I can find, and have Natalie start chugging it! ;) (Okay, obviously kidding there, but it is proven to boost the immune system, and I am going to see how she does with normal doses of it. No chugging...at least not yet.) ;)

Monday, November 22, 2010

If you would like to read a post...

...you need to go here. I am guest-blogging at Rooted in Love today. However, if you read my Facebook notes, you've already seen this particular item, so it's up to you whether you want a repeat. :)

If you pay attention to my blog roll, Rooted in Love is one of the blogs listed there. Jill (or Jillian, as she goes by now, although I confess to having a hard time remembering to call her that) is one of those friends I have literally grown up with. Now she is a military wife and the mother of five. Her blog is challenging, inspirational, moving, and honest. I highly recommend it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I spent $14 at the grocery store this week...

...but don't be too impressed. We spent $87 last week.

And I still don't have dishwasher detergent. Sigh.

Furthermore, I'm out of borax, so I can't make dishwasher detergent. I think I will hit Dollar Tree when the weather is less horrible than what it is now. So we'll be up to $15 and some change for the week.

Here's some of what we're eating:

Breakfast
cinnamon raisin toast
smoothies
cereal and milk x 2
pumpkin pie oatmeal
waffles
doughnuts or toast

Lunch
leftovers or sandwiches or tortilla roll-ups

Supper
lentil and rice tacos, fruit salad with yogurt
potluck at co-op (we're bringing baked ziti and bread)
turkey, veggies, and fruit
ribs, potatoes, and veggies
supper with my parents
some sort of leftover remake (i.e. turn leftover turkey into something new and different)
possibly breakfast for supper, more leftover remake, or (if all else fails) eat out. (Sundays are rough).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Doctor Who fan series--review

We are big fans of the BBC's Doctor Who. Even Sarah loves it, so much so that when given the opportunity to choose Natalie's middle name, she picked Rose--after one of the Doctor's companions. When we visit my parents, Sarah has been known to get the other children pretending that they are looking for the TARDIS. They have no idea what she's talking about, but they go along with it and have a good time anyway.

Some fans (mostly in the UK, I believe, although some are in the US and at least one is in Australia) have banded together to create their own Doctor Who stories. These will be audio productions only, but they have written the scripts and done all the directing and recording themselves--a true labor of love. They will be posting to the Internet as soon as they iron out a few glitches.

In the meantime, I have been asked to write up a review of the first three scripts. The fan girl in me is super excited about this. I have spent the last few days reading through the first three scripts and trying to get my thoughts together.

To kick things off, let me just say that I love the name "Little Blue Box Productions." It fits so perfectly. Although I haven't been able to listen to the entire series as yet (or even to the three stories I've read), the clips I have heard sound good. Even the actor reading the part of the Doctor sounds "Doctorish." I am looking forward to listening to the series as a whole.

I also like that there is an arc to the series, something that ties the separate stories together. The TV show does this quite well, with each season having that thread woven throughout, and I enjoyed seeing the fan series do this too. Having only read three scripts, I'm not in on what the big reveal will be, but I can see the hints being dropped, and I admit that my curiosity is piqued. Although I can enjoy the stories in and of themselves, I am drawn in, wanting to find more clues, wanting to know how it will all fit together.

Time travel is a huge part of Doctor Who, and a problem the Doctor often has is that things happen to him "in the wrong order." For example, he might run into someone who knows him but he does not know. Although the meeting has occurred already for the "stationary" acquaintance, it hasn't happened for the time-traveling Doctor yet. The fan series utilizes this well. The Doctor's companion is a young woman named Alicia. She remembers seeing the Doctor kill her father as a child. This event hasn't happened yet for the Doctor, and he is certain that there must be some mistake. He would never kill a man in view of a child! So he takes Alicia on his travels to try to prove himself to her. Now this is pure speculation, but I'm guessing somehow the series will wrap back around to the event from Alicia's childhood, and we'll learn "the rest of the story"--why the Doctor had to do what he did, or perhaps an alternate ending (another Doctor Who theme is that "time can be rewritten").

As for the three stories themselves, the first one seemed purely introductory. Titled "The Doctor, The Murderer" it sets the stage for the latter episodes. It introduces our cast of characters and our series arc. It asks questions it does not answer. As such, it is the least able to stand on its own, but I thought it set up the series well and whetted one's appetite for more.

"A Method in the Madness" brought back one of the villains from the TV series. I really would not have thought much more could have been done with these characters, but this story drew nicely from the TV episodes, while adding its own creative twist.

"A Hole in the Sky" is perhaps the most ambitious of the first three episodes. It felt a bit longer than the other two, more drawn out. I thought the concept was creative--not your run-of-the-mill villain. It jumped around some, and I found it a bit hard to follow at times, but it really was a unique, well-thought-out story.

Reading a script can be somewhat cumbersome; I really look forward to hearing the stories in their full audio form. Even the short clips I have listened to add so much. Lines that seem stilted when reading them "work" somehow when they are heard. And with music and sound effects, one can feel so much more a part of the action.

I salute the fans at Little Blue Box Productions; it's an ambitious project, but from what I've seen you've done a fine job. :)

Check out http://www.wix.com/fanaudioseries/lbbproductions if you want more information on the fan audio series. You can also find the links to some clips of the series there.

Happy Veterans Day

I will be posting more later, but I wanted to make sure I wished all the veterans and families of veterans a blessed day today and said thank you! I especially thank my cousin Jon and my friend Lauren. I thank my friend Jill and her husband Ashley. I thank my brother-in-law Nick. I thank both my uncles. I thank my friend Kristen and her husband Cliff. I thank my friend Caryn. I thank my grandfather-in-law. I thank so many more whose names and families I do not know.

Sarah and I have been working through a Veterans Day study that I found, for I wanted her to know that this day is important. I confess that it is a bit difficult to explain the concept to a six-year-old, but we have done what we can.

I know that Veterans Day is more about honoring and thanking our living veterans, whereas Memorial Day is more about honoring the memory of those who do not make it home. However, I don't know that it is easy to separate the two. So I thought I would close with this video from my college friend Autumn. She wrote this song in memory of her husband, who was killed in Iraq, as a tribute to him and to so many others. She is also the one singing in this video. Happy Veterans Day. Please remember to thank a veteran!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Natalie says

Dada/Daddy
Mama/Mommy
Peep-eye
Bye
Hi/hey
Baby
Whoa
Wow
Uh-oh
Give (as in, "Give that to me!")
Teeth
Thank you
Please
How are you?
Wanna go.
Want down.
Wanna see.
What's that?
Bobby (We have no idea who or what this refers to, but she says it quite clearly, and she says it a LOT.)
Mike
Sarah
Ow
Wanna sit
______________________________________________________________

Side (this is how she tells me she wants to nurse; she wants a "side")
Eat
There you go.
I see you.
Up
Tea
I stinky
Ew
Yuck
Have
Ball
Uh-huh
No
All full.
Fall (the verb, not the season)
Read
Shoe
Foot
Play
Walk
Phone
Hello
Fork (I hope she never says this in public).
Mine (yes, she's possessive).
____________________________________________________________________________
Now
Sock
Hair
Nose
Dog
Duck
Hey, you
Food
Drink
Yum
Cereal
Cheerios
Hug
Block
Play
Pay (a funny story with this one, which I will share after the list)
Suck (said when she wants her pacifier)
Out
Outside
Peep-poo (I've already blogged about this one)
Want
Wipe
Face
Five
Tortilla (new today!)
Cake (actually said in reference to a muffin, not actual cake)
Hot
Tickle
Look
Okay
Let go
Light
Bite

There's probably more that I'm forgetting. :-p But I will say that Natalie combines several of these into sentences and phrases. Also of note is that "tickle," "thank you," and "there you go" sound pretty much the same the way she says them; you basically have to go by context as to which one she means.

She got a hold of my wallet awhile back and pulled out my debit card. She handed it to me and said, "Wanna pay?"

I'll try to add more if I think of them!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

cold remedies and salsa baby

Eventually (if my dad will email me pictures) I will post Halloween photos. I had two "Buzzy" girls; Sarah was Buzz Lightyear, and Natalie was a "buzzy" bumble bee. They were of course adorable. Sarah was actually really excited because she got to wear her Buzz outfit again to homeschool co-op today.

On to the title of the post, however. Nelson has been recovering from a massive cold. He thought he got over it once, then relapsed. It's been a really bad one. He's managed to give milder versions of it to Sarah and Natalie, so I thought I'd post the remedies that have helped us.

Natalie tends to get ear infections every time she gets a cold or even just bad congestion. We've been religious about using the nasal syringe on her, but frankly it usually isn't enough. She also has prescription albuterol for when her wheezing and coughing get bad, but even that doesn't keep her from getting ear infections. This time I tried garlic oil. I did end up taking her to the doctor, who said she had some clear fluid on her ear, but it was NOT infected. This is huge. I won't say that it will work in every case, but I'm pleased.

Sarah started getting sniffly on Friday. I showed her how to use my neti pot (one of my favorite things ever). She has been faithfully rinsing several times per day, and she admits that it helps. She still coughs a bit, but she has yet to reach the levels of coughing and congestion that Nelson did.

Speaking of coughing...Nelson's cough was HORRIBLE. Cough syrup didn't help. Running the humidifier didn't help. Hot tea only temporarily stopped the coughing. He couldn't sleep. He kept me and Natalie awake (Sarah could sleep through a war zone--in her bedroom). We had tried just about everything. What finally worked? A good old-fashioned hot toddy! We mixed hot tea with honey, lemon juice, and a bit of whiskey, and finally we all got some relief! (I know some of my readers have problems with the recreational use of alcohol, but this was strictly medicinal!)

Sarah is asking for chicken soup tomorrow night, so I will make that for supper. Hopefully that will make everyone feel better, and we can be done with this lousy cold!

We voted tonight, and we decided to grab supper at our favorite Mexican restaurant on the way to the polls (I was headaching, so Nelson graciously excused me from cooking). Like most Mexican restaurants, they served us chips and salsa upon arrival. Natalie wanted to try some salsa on her chip. I dabbed it on a corner--just a little bit. Apparently she really liked it. She made a grab for the bowl of salsa. It tipped and sloshed salsa all over the table. She immediately stuck her hands in it and happily started slurping salsa off her fingers!

We always order Natalie some sliced avocado to eat at this restaurant. When she was a baby, I got to finish whatever avocado she didn't eat. I enjoyed this. Sadly, Natalie is now perfectly capable of polishing off all the avocado by herself, and I get no leftovers.

In addition to the salsa, Natalie snitched a little of Nelson's chorizo this evening. This did not go over as well as the salsa; I think it was too spicy for her.

Natalie can say both "Mommy" and "Daddy" perfectly. Unfortunately, she's very confused as to who's who! She keeps calling me "Daddy." We've been trying to correct her over the last couple of days. As I sat typing this, Natalie wanted to be picked up. She called me "Daddy." I told her I was Mommy. Apparently tired of trying to keep us straight, Natalie settled for "Hey, you!"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

frugal failure (and other stuff)

Blogging failure too--I keep meaning to blog more often, because I do have things to say, but between school, home, and family, I just don't seem to get it done. Sigh.

Anyway, everyone reading here (unless you are just randomly passing through) knows that I am a frugalista (sounds better than tightwad, doesn't it?). As such, I love Dollar Tree. I love their dishwasher detergent, their Oxy Clean knock-off, their body washes, their tubes of Crest and Colgate, and so much more. It helps our grocery budget a great deal that I can run into Dollar Tree and find a wide array of products for only a dollar. After all, tortillas are practically as necessary as air in this house; getting a pack for a dollar is fantastic!

There are definitely times, though, when cheaper isn't better...or even just as good. I recently bought Dollar Tree's kid 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner for the girls. I won't be purchasing it again. Both Sarah and Natalie have inherited my thick hair, and it tangles like you would not believe. Dollar Tree's 2-in-1 simply did not have enough conditioner, and it could not get the knots out of their hair. We've gone back to buying Suave. We're all happier for it!

In other news, school is going well. I love, love, love our math curriculum (which is saying a lot, because I don't love math!). Sarah blows me away with how well she reads. We are getting a lot done and having a great time doing it. Sarah commented earlier today that "School can be hard work, but it's fun!" What more could I ask for?

I need to update Natalie's word list again, but honestly I just can't keep up. She adds so many new ones so frequently. I was so religious about keeping Sarah's list updated, and I just can't seem to maintain Natalie's as faithfully.

One funny addition to the word list is "Peep-poo." Natalie has been able to say "Peep-eye" for a long time now. Since Nelson is not a native Southerner, he often uses "Peek-a-boo" instead when playing with Natalie. Natalie has now combined the two. She will hide her face, then delightedly squeal, "Peep-poo!"

That's all for now. Hopefully I'll get the hang of blogging regularly again soon. At some point, I still need to post pictures from our California trip!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

chocolate satin

This is a mousse-like dessert. My lactose-intolerant daughter loves it, as she doesn't get to eat things like pudding. Plus, it's super healthy to boot! (If you're not a fan of avocado, don't worry--it purees in nicely, and you really just taste chocolate creaminess).

Chocolate Satin
2 ripe avocados
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4-1/2 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
Blend until smooth.

This post is linked to the Grocery Cart Challenge.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sarah is six

Today is Sarah's sixth birthday. How in the world is she already six? I have no idea whatsoever...but she is. She's had a big "birthday weekend." On Friday, we went to Greeneville. My parents had presents and "ice cream" cake (it was actually frozen yogurt cake, so that Natalie could participate as well). On Saturday, we headed to the nearby park for pizza and play time with a couple of her friends. Today a gift card from my brother arrived; Sarah has already found a pink princess scooter she would like to purchase. She also got a wealth of presents from my grandmother (including a "pay check"), another check from Nelson's parents (her second "pay check"), and a card from her aunt and uncle. Wow!

Tonight she wants to go to La Carreta, a local Mexican restaurant. Then we'll be done birthdaying for awhile!


Sarah at about three months old...




Sarah in May of this year...




Happy birthday, Sarah!

Natalie says

I can't keep up with Natalie's vocabulary. She adds words and phrases daily now, and I am certain that if I try to list them I will forget/leave out many. So here is my best effort, but it is in no way a comprehensive list. And it will probably change tomorrow!

Dada/Daddy
Mama
Peep-eye
Bye
Hi/hey
Baby
Whoa
Wow
Uh-oh
Give (as in, "Give that to me!")
Teeth
Thank you
Please
How are you?
Wanna go.
Want down.
Wanna see.
What's that?
Bobby (We have no idea who or what this refers to, but she says it quite clearly, and she says it a LOT.)
Mike
Sarah
Ow
Wanna sit
______________________________________________________________

Side (this is how she tells me she wants to nurse; she wants a "side")
Eat
There you go.
I see you.
Up
Tea
I stinky
Ew
Yuck
Have
Ball
Uh-huh
No
All full.
Fall (the verb, not the season)
Read
Shoe
Foot
Play
Walk
Phone
Hello
Fork (I hope she never says this in public).
Mine (yes, she's possessive).

There's more; I know there is. I just can't remember them all right now. I know I'll be kicking myself as soon as I post this for all the ones I forgot. But if I don't write it down on the spot, it seems to fall out of one of the holes in my Swiss-cheese brain. And then she adds something new a few minutes later!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

long time, no write

Sorry for falling off the blogosphere. We've been busy, but I haven't felt much like blogging. Still, I know grandparents and aunts and on occasion random strangers like to see photos and read updates. Sooo...here we go.

In early September, Nelson's parents blessed us with a trip to visit his grandparents in California. Sarah and Natalie got to see their grandparents, great-grandparents, and aunt and uncle all in one fell swoop! It was a wonderful visit, and we loved every minute. I need to get pictures of that posted, but they're still hiding out in the camera.

We've started school, and Sarah is doing a fabulous job. She reads extremely well and (just as important to me) loves it! She devours print right now--picture books, magazines, comics, and so on. She loves to draw as well, so I bought a book called Drawing with Children that she is excited to begin. She even seems to like doing math, which is a bit weird to me (I never enjoyed math). I'm really pleased.

Tuesday mornings we go to a local homeschool co-op at a nearby church. Sarah is in the kindergarten class, and she loves it. She looks forward to it all week, which I think is great. On Wednesdays, I have my Bible study at Celebration Church. This is another highlight for Sarah, who loves the children's class she gets to attend while I'm with the adults. (Natalie goes to both co-op and Celebration Church. She does well, but she's not really enthused about either yet.) ;)

Since I'm not sure these pictures ever really got posted to Facebook where anyone could actually view them, I'll mention that back in July Sarah did swimming lessons. A local college girl taught them at her family's house, in their private pool. Sarah and Natalie both loved the water! Sarah is still very much a beginner, but she showed a lot of improvement. Natalie absolutely could not wait for the end of the lesson each day, when "free swim" started, and she could get in the water too! I got so tickled at how excited she got each day as I put her swimsuit on her--she knew what that meant!

One of the other moms took some pictures for me, so I'll attach a few of them here, and then try again to get them to show up properly on Facebook! Ridiculously out-of-date photos are better than none at all, right?


All the swimmers practicing their kicks....




Yeah, it's a picture of me. Don't get used to it. Just focus on Natalie, okay?




I LOVE this picture of Sarah swimming underwater!




Miss Abi giving instruction...




Sarah never did get brave enough to jump off the diving board. But on the last day, she DID agree to jump into the deep end if Miss Abi would catch her. I was so proud--this was HUGE progress!

Monday, August 9, 2010

I can't believe...

that I forgot to post this! I have already written how Natalie loves to brush her teeth and will beg to do so ("Teeth? Teeth? Teeth?") Friday, however, she did something new and different and completely unexpected in the whole brushing teeth department.

We have a stool in the bathroom that Sarah uses so that she can reach the sink to wash hands and brush teeth. While Natalie and I were in the bathroom Friday morning, Natalie was playing near the stool. I didn't really think anything of it. As I got ready to brush my own teeth, Natalie started the familiar refrain: "Teeth? Teeth? Teeth?" I handed her her toothbrush. She shook her head and refused to take it. Weird. She continued to ask though: "Teeth? Teeth? Teeth?" I tried again to hand her the brush and again she refused. She was now starting to cry in frustration that she couldn't make me see what she was wanting.

And then I noticed it. She wasn't playing near the stool; she was trying to climb on the stool. I helped her up on it. Again she asked, "TEETH?!"

I handed the toothbrush. "Brush teeth," I encouraged her. This time she took it and said, quite clearly, "Like Sarah." She tapped the brush on the side of the sink, just like she's seen her big sister do.

She brushed teeth happily after that, just like always. And she has stood on the stool every day since then to brush her teeth..."like Sarah."

ramblings

Last night, I officially registered Sarah for kindergarten. The county school system went back to school today, and city schools started last week. Although we are homeschooling, she does need to be officially registered as attending school somewhere.

It was weird. She's not actually "going" anywhere (until September, when we start classes with a local co-op), but I still got a little teary-eyed going through the registration process. How did my baby get old enough to be in kindergarten anyway?

Natalie is now zooming up the stairs. She's quite pleased with herself.

I noticed Tara posted her grocery shopping results and a few menu ideas. I've kind of slacked off in that department. I've actually not been doing too badly though, as far as grocery shopping and menus go. It's funny; when you really don't have much money available, it really forces you to be creative and make the most of what you have. We've eaten pretty well, all things considered. Unfortunately, I don't remember specific purchases and prices, or even much in the way of specific meals. I know I bought a whole chicken. The chicken meat has already provided three meals, and I think I can get one more out of it. The bones will make stock, which will at least contribute to one or two more meals. Not bad at all!

I bought a "white whole wheat" flour last time I was at the store. I had been buying plain old whole wheat flour and white bread flour for my bread baking needs. But boy, did we love this white whole wheat stuff! So far, it's made an excellent loaf of sandwich bread and a lovely batch of rolls as well. I think I'm sold!

My friend Leah is challenging herself to go an entire year without eating out. I'm not that committed. I honestly enjoy eating out when I have the chance, and I know myself well enough to know I'd never make it a year. But I am learning to do a better job of finding a "Plan B" or thinking through what options we have on hand to come up with a tasty meal. It does take some creativity at times, since I can't eat most convenience foods, but I'm getting better at it!

I've been experimenting with whether it's better to plan a menu before I shop, or plan afterward with what I have on hand. Certainly a strong case can be made for either one! I've known incredibly frugal people who've done it either way. I'm kind of doing a mixture of the two right now. My Grocery Deals is a great resource. If you enter your zip code, it will link to the weekly sales ads for stores in your area. You can see what's a good buy and start making a list before you leave the house. Money Saving Mom posts store deals for just about every store out there (even combining them with coupons for the best savings), so I try to visit her site as well. Coupon Mom can also help with pairing coupons and sales, but I confess I find that site a bit cumbersome to use, and I don't visit there often.

Personal gripe: my favorite recipe search site was Recipe Zaar. I loved its ease of use. They have now revamped the site, including changing the name to food.com (how unoriginal is that?). I do not like it as well at all. I'm sulking. However, it never fails that if I like something, it either goes away entirely or changes beyond recognition. Blech. Okay, sulk over now.

As soon as Nelson sends me the pictures he got off the camera, I will post them here. So stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

more about Natalie

Natalie has added "mmm-hmm" and "play" to her repertoire (probably more than that, but that's what I've been able to pick out!). She also says, "Read." (She actually could already say this, but I forgot to put it on the list the other day!)

I've noticed that she says "Want down?" exclusively, whether she wants up, down, off, or out. She can be sitting on your lap and quite appropriately say, "Want down?" However, she can also be standing on the floor and hold out her arms for you to pick her up and say, "Want down?" Yesterday, she was in the Pack and Play and wanted out. You guessed it: "Want down?" Clearly we need to work on "up" and "out"!

If you're on Facebook, you can read this in my status update, but I'll put it here too. Natalie will eat Sarah's crayons if she finds them (leads to some interesting shades of color in her diapers). Apparently she wanted to save one for a later snack; I opened the refrigerator to find part of a purple crayon sitting on the shelf.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

the second child

I've noticed something interesting: since Natalie has never been the "only child," she doesn't always know what to do with herself when she temporarily gets to be! One night when Sarah was staying with my parents, Natalie turned into an utter ham, enjoying having all the attention to herself.. Other times though, especially since Sarah has spent quite a bit of time playing with the neighbor's granddaughter this summer, Natalie seems a bit lost. She gets clingy and fussy. She'll play some, then fuss and cling some more. You can tell she really misses her big sister!

I think it's sweet, but I confess I don't really "get' it. I too am a second child, and I remember just enjoying getting to be an "only" once in awhile! Maybe it's because I have a brother rather than a sister? Or maybe because the age gap between my brother and me is larger than the gap between Natalie and Sarah? I don't know.

I think we've got a few pictures, both from the recent Fun Fest and from earlier this evening. Hopefully I'll be able to post those soon.

P.S. I thought of something else regarding Natalie and Sarah's "word lists." At 15.5 months, BOTH girls could say "Mike." ;)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Natalie says

When Sarah first started talking, I created a document to keep track of what she was saying when. I first started tracking when she was about 15 months old. Natalie is closing in on 16 months, so here's a list of what she can verbalize.

Dada/Daddy
Mama
Peep-eye
Bye
Hi/hey
Baby
Whoa
Wow
Uh-oh
Give (as in, "Give that to me!")
Teeth
Thank you
Please (This is new as of yesterday, and it sounds like "pea".)
How are you?
Wanna go.
Want down.
Wanna see.
What's that?
Bobby (We have no idea who or what this refers to, but she says it quite clearly, and she says it a LOT.)
Mike
Sarah
Ow
Wanna sit (She's only said this once, to Nelson.)

I'm looking at this list, and then looking back at Sarah's list. I really remember Sarah being an early talker, but her "words" list from 15.5 months is NOTHING like this! I had a list of thirty-two words that Sarah could say at that age, but they are just words--no phrases or sentences like Natalie has (and she has several!).

I'm thinking either I'm just better at deciphering the "baby talk" with Natalie (although some of these phrases are so crystal clear anyone who hears her knows what she's saying; a clerk at Wal-mart about fell over when Natalie asked, "How are you?"), or interacting with Sarah has taught Natalie more advanced language skills.

Whatever the case may be, it's interesting. I'll try to keep updating Natalie's list of words (and phrases and sentences) like I did for Sarah. It will be neat to compare them at various intervals!

Monday, July 5, 2010

I have seen a vision of the future...

Last night we went over to the house of some friends for "sparklers and s'mores." It was a fun Fourth of July party. Our friends have a son named Ashur, who is Sarah's age. She was looking forward to going to play with him and even drew him a picture for the occasion.

We were the first to arrive at our friends' house (even though we were a few minutes past the start time). Ashur has one of those battery-powered vehicles that children drive around in. Some look like Jeeps, but Ashur's is more like a four-wheeled ATV--just the "Power Wheels" children's version. Ashur had been driving around in the neighborhood with his daddy when we arrived.

He drove up the driveway and into the backyard where we were. He stopped next to Sarah. "Hey, you want a ride?" Without hesitation, she climbed on behind him and clung to his waist as he drove around the yard.

Ashur's mom and I both cracked up. It was reminiscent of a teenage coming-of-age drama, where the young man rides up on a motorcycle and greets the girl with, "Hey, baby, want a lift?" and they ride off into the sunset or something!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

ponderings and reflections

For the summer, instead of a Bible study, the women of my church are doing more of a "book club" type thing. We are reading C.J. Mahaney's Living the Cross--Centered Life. This is the first book I've read by Mahaney (although he quotes Charles Spurgeon, John Piper, Jerry Bridges, and R.C. Sproul, so he must be good, right?).

It's a small book, only 156 pages, with short chapters--nice, light summer reading.

Or maybe not.

This book is short, simple, and profound. It cuts to the heart. And it exposes my own sinful pride.

In one chapter, describing the crucifixion, Mahaney asks with whom we most identify. Faithful John, standing by the cross, caring for Jesus' mother? Peter, weeping bitterly because he has failed, both Jesus and himself? The thief on the cross--a great sinner, yet willing to repent and convert? The loyal women, standing nearby?

I am not so arrogant as to compare myself to Mary or John. But I think part of me likes to think I resemble the centurion--a poor ignorant schmuck just minding his own business. Sinful, sure, but mostly because he doesn't know any better. And then he sees the truth and acknowledges Jesus as the Son of God.

Then Mahaney reminds me: we are ALL the people in the crowd. You remember the crowd--that noisy, riotous, rebellious bunch who hated Jesus and were screaming, "Crucify Him!" We are all enemies of God; Calvinism calls it "total depravity." Scripture reminds us that "no one seeks after God, not even one."

Not even me. I am in the crowd, angry and hostile. Mahaney writes, 'Even if you can't recognize yourself among the angry faces, or distinguish your own strident voice...He can." This is the gospel in a nutshell. I, like Paul, can label myself the "chief of sinners." Not ignorant or unaware, but purposefully, rebelliously sinful. There is no hope, and nothing in me that will choose God. I will always choose my own way instead.

In the garden, Jesus prayed for the Father to take the cup from Him. The cup is God's wrath, which we all deserve to drink fully. But even after praying that prayer, Jesus submits to drinking that cup...down to the very last drop. God's wrath is poured out in its entirety...on Jesus. I deserve the cup, but there is nothing left in it for me to drink.

And that is why we have "no condemnation." That is why we can come "boldly before the throne of grace." That is why we have "a future and a hope."

To which we can only say a very heartfelt "Praise the Lord!"

Monday, June 28, 2010

adventures in frugality (alternate title: maybe sweetened condensed milk isn't so expensive after all...)

So it's Menu Plan Monday, and I don't have much of a menu plan OR shopping plan yet. We did do a run to Food City last night. We were out of cheese (an emergency around here, to be sure!), and Natalie had no rice milk.

We, um, ended up buying a bit more than cheese and rice milk. We actually spent $31.22. We bought eggs, and butter, and napkins, and sandwich meat, and bananas.

Oh, and ice cream. Because that is such a necessity of life, isn't it?

So...I thought I'd see how much of a menu plan I could come up with what I have on hand at the moment. And then I'll plan a shopping trip for the rest of the week. It probably won't be pretty, because I'm going to have to buy diapers, and wipes, and sugar. Sigh.

I am making French bread at the moment (using up the last of my sugar supply, which means I can't make sweet tea, which is another crisis around here). But I figure the bread can do double duty. Tonight we will have panini press sandwiches for supper (along with applesauce and maybe yogurt). Tomorrow we can have French toast for breakfast.

Tomorrow evening we will have chicken enchiladas. I can't wait to try this recipe. It's the "no cream soup" that sold me on it! (I will be using homemade chicken stock in place of the can of broth.) Green beans can be our side dish.

Wednesday's breakfast will either be leftover French toast or cereal. I don't have time to make breakfast on Wednesdays because of our morning Bible study class. For supper, I may do breakfast-for-supper. Nelson makes killer omelets, we have bacon, and I can easily make muffins or pancakes or something with fruit.

Thursday morning I will either do smoothies for breakfast--Sarah and Natalie both love these, and we have bananas! :) Supper will either be curried lentils or sweet and sour lentils with rice. I would do lentil tacos, but I'm out of chili powder...and garlic.

I can do Amish baked oatmeal for breakfast Friday, but now I'm fresh out of ideas for Friday's supper and for the weekend. So I'll report back once I've done that diaper-wipes-sugar-chili powder-whatever else shopping trip.

Oh, and if you've made it this far and are still wondering about the title...well, a couple of weeks ago I came across a recipe for iced coffee. You simply combined 6-8 cups coffee with one can of sweetened condensed milk in a pitcher. Cool, refreshing, and delicious.

I was craving some this morning, but I had no sweetened condensed milk. I have a wee bit of powdered milk though, and I remembered that my beloved Tightwad Gazette had a recipe for making sweetened condensed milk out of powdered milk.

I only had half the powdered milk called for, so I halved the recipe. I also didn't have enough sugar, so I used Splenda. And, well...I'm less than thrilled with the results. The coffee tastes okay, but it keeps separating and it looks weird. I think I'll hold off on making the beverage again until I actually have sweetened condensed milk on hand (although Sarah assures me the drink is delicious! I think she just wants to make sure she gets some).

So, a bit hit and miss in the frugality department this week...more miss than hit, honestly. :( Surely I can improve from here, right???

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

random

I really am trying to get back in the habit of blogging more regularly...if for no other reason that I can't remember anything that happens if I don't write it up and post it! I had a running list in my head for this post, and I'm not sure now that I even remember it all. :-p

Sunday of course was Father's Day. On Saturday, I told Sarah she could pick out a gift for Nelson. She went to Dollar General and chose not one, but two foam toy swords. Why two? Well, one for her and one for her daddy, of course! Why did they each need a sword? So they could have a sword fight! Hmm, you think Sarah's love language is spending time together? ;)

She is reading over my shoulder a good bit as I write these days, so I may have to practice being discreet as I phrase things--especially if it concerns her!

My gift to Nelson was a dinner at O'Charley's--Louisiana sirloin! YUM!

I kind of dropped the ball on the whole grocery/menu plan thing. I was working on a menu plan and a grocery list, but it kind of never came together. Then Nelson did a grocery run with Sarah and Natalie. I love that I didn't have to do the shopping, but we did end up with a few impulse purchases. :) So I'm going to start again next week.

We did have a very frugal meal of quiche (cheap entree!) and turnips last night. The turnips were free and fresh from our neighbors' garden. The turnips themselves were all right, and I'm going to mash some of them like mashed potatoes later. We did discover, however, that Sarah is the only one who likes turnip greens! Sorry, there's not enough vinegar in the world to make those palatable!

And I'm proud to say that the one gallon of milk Nelson purchased will stretch into two. We usually drink 1% milk (well, Nelson and Sarah drink 1% milk. I occasionally use it on cereal, but I'm not a milk drinker. Natalie drinks rice milk). Nelson bought a gallon of whole milk this time. I divided it into two separate containers (half a gallon in each one). Add water to fill up the rest of the way and voila! You have two gallons of roughly 1 or 2% milk. (I froze one of the gallons so it wouldn't go bad while the other was being used.) Instant savings of 50%!

Saturday we will go out for our anniversary (ten years!). It's our yearly date. That's about all we manage! (Although we did have a date in January this year, so there you go. For your tenth anniversary, you celebrate by having two dates that year! Ha!)

Oh, this is too cute. Natalie can't eat ice cream. We've bought her frozen yogurt a few times. Once at the store we noticed rice milk ice "cream." It was super expensive though. I joked with Mom that it would have to be a special birthday/Christmas kind of treat--certainly not anything we could do often. On Monday, I went to a woman's book club at church. Nelson took the girls out to Chick-Fil-A (when I am not there, Sarah likes to go places where I can't eat, like Chick-Fil-A, KFC, or Pizza Hut). He bought himself and Sarah ice cream for dessert. He felt guilty though that Natalie couldn't have any. So when he did his grocery shopping afterward, one of his impulse purchases was "rice cream" (I think I just coined a new phrase!) for Natalie! Isn't he sweet? Natalie loves it, by the way!

That's all I can think of for now. Very random post!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

teeth? teeth? teeth?

Natalie currently has twelve teeth (including four molars), and I think she's working on one or two more. Quite the mouthful! And you have never seen a child absolutely adore her toothbrush as much as this one does! If she's upset, handing her the toothbrush can calm her down. If she's getting into something, handing her the toothbrush will distract her. She doesn't really brush with it; she just kind of chews on it. But boy, does she love it!

If she sees me or Sarah or Nelson brushing our teeth, she immediately starts reaching her hand toward where her own toothbrush sits and starts begging, 'Teeth? Teeth? Teeth?" If she's in the bathroom and just happens to see the toothbrush, it's the same. Occasionally, she make a whole sentence and say, "Brush teeth?" But usually it's just the refrain of "Teeth? Teeth? Teeth?"

She doesn't actually like when Nelson or I brush her teeth though--she only likes to hold the toothbrush herself and chew on it! I think I find that funniest of all. With all this toothbrush love, you'd think brushing her teeth would be easy. It's actually a battle though, because she wants to do it herself and do it her way.

P.S. She tried to eat a crayon today. That toothbrush was handy for getting bits of red crayon out of her teeth! (And she definitely does have at least two more teeth coming in!)

a few more...










experiment

Two of my favorite blogs are Money Saving Mom and Grocery Cart Challenge. Both of these women do a phenomenal job of feeding their families on a tight budget. Their methods are not quite the same, but they both work and I learn so much from each of them.

Every week each blog posts a recap of the grocery trip--where they shopped, what they bought, what they spent. They give a chance for other bloggers to "link up" and post their own grocery shopping successes. I am in the process of trying to apply some of the tips from these ladies to lower our grocery bill. I thought if I participated in the shopping recap each week, it would hold me accountable to my goals and also allow me to chart my progress (at least I hope there's progress!).

I don't have pictures of my haul like they do, so this will just be a summary. Maybe next week I can add the photos. I also did not browse store ads or use coupons this week; I will try to add that in next week, as well as perhaps participating in the menu planning prior to shopping that GCC hosts. I'm just winging it this week (for the record, so far this week we've had country ham, lentil tacos, and pasta bake. Tonight it's pork chops).

Here's what I bought:

Dollar Tree:
dishwasher detergent
oxygen stain remover
women's shaving cream
shampoo
men's body wash
2 tubes toothpaste
Total: $7.67

Food City:
Dannon vanilla yogurt $2.99
1 doz. eggs $1.29
extra sharp cheddar $3.99
rotini pasta $.89
spaghetti sauce $1.67
Lay's potato chips $3
Valu Time frosted flakes $1
Valu Time honey nut oats $1
vegetable oil $2.19
Hillshire Farms roast beef $3.99
omeprazole $7.65 (normally this is a separate purchase from groceries, and normally we buy Prevacid, but we needed it immediately and this is what they had).
Total: $32.15

Nelson had gone on a quick run to Food City the day before because I was completely out of coffee (very bad thing). He bought coffee and orange juice. He spent $9.48 on that trip (coffee is expensive).

Grand total: $49.30 We'll see if I can lower that as the weeks go on!

This post linked to GCC Shopping Roundup.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Natalie's first birthday

We did Natalie's first birthday at my parents house. Since Nelson's parents weren't able to come, we also had a web cam visit with them briefly. Natalie had a great time opening up and playing with her gifts (well, when she could get them away from Sarah, anyway). So without further ado, here are some photos from the occasion!

Natalie is not the poser for the camera that Sarah is...




Sarah, ahem, "helping" Natalie open her gift...




Hmm, what is this?




Natalie on the web cam with Grandma and Grandpa...




Sarah chatting with Grandma and Grandpa...

Monday, June 14, 2010

a few more pictures and other random stuff

Time keeps marching on, whether I blog or not, doesn't it? Funny how that happens. Those on Facebook know we've been watching a family of birds (Carolina wrens to be exact) on our patio. The mama bird built a nest in the ash can to Nelson's grill, and the baby birds have (mostly) hatched. We see the mama several times a day arriving with food in mouth for the babies.

Natalie is walking all over the place, chasing after Sarah, and talking up a storm. She especially likes to say, "How are you?" She says it a LOT. She's also fond of taking all the DVDs out of the cabinet and scattering them all over the living room!

Sarah is loving reading and today discovered some of Nelson's and my old comic strip books (Garfield, Peanuts, U.S. Acres). She's looked through the pictures in these books before, but she was thrilled to be able to read the words now.

She's very literal. She asked Nelson to help with a problem on her computer. He said, "Give me just a minute." She counted to sixty then informed him his minute was up!

Apparently we need to talk about money though. Sarah knows we have to have money to buy food and pay bills, but she doesn't seem to understand what money is. She thinks if she just writes an amount on a piece of paper, this is acceptable currency. She plans to pay our insurance bill for us in this manner.

Nelson recently acquired a used John Deere riding lawnmower. He had a push mower we had bought at the other house, but it was taking him upward of three or three and a half hours to mow our much larger yard here with that. He found a good deal in the local classifieds last week. His first attempt to mow with the riding mower took under two hours--quite the time savings! He thinks it will get faster as he gets better at it too.

Okay, okay, the pictures you've been waiting for...now I warn you, these aren't the greatest. They're from my cell phone. But with all the clamor, I figured blurry, low-quality photos were better than no photos at all, right? ;)

This is from last week. Sarah decided to style Natalie's hair for her, and these are the results. With the little bit pulled up on top like that, we thought she resembled Pebbles Flintstone!




These next three are from Cinco de Mayo (May 5). We went to a local Mexican-ish (think Subway-style taco/burrito bar) restaurant. Some friends of ours were the live musical entertainment for the evening. Sarah really, really wanted a margarita. We weren't sure they would be able to accommodate her on that (this is a fast food-type place, so I figured they might just have pre-mixed margaritas that they blended with ice and therefore no way to make one sans alcohol). But they were able to whip up a virgin one after all, and Sarah was thrilled.




It pays to know the band--our friends let Natalie play an instrument too!




Natalie really wants to get the camera/phone...




That's all for now! But Nelson tried again to send me pictures, so if it worked this time, I'll post more later!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

we have a picture!

Okay, so it's been a really long time since I posted a picture here. I've had all kinds of trouble trying to photos onto my computer....whether said photos were on a camera, a CD, or a thumb drive. Just couldn't get it to work. Very frustrating, to be sure, especially since I had some really good pictures I wanted to share!

Nelson finally got a bunch of pictures off the camera last night onto his computer. He tried to send a bunch to me in a zip file.

Apparently something is seriously messed up on my computer when it comes to pictures. I got one.

But...here's the one! This is from Natalie's birthday back in March. She's opening one of her gifts. Enjoy! Hopefully we'll be able to get more on here soon!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

giveaway

Passing along the word that some friends of mine are adopting a little boy from China, and they are making and selling custom necklaces as a fund-raiser. They are currently holding a giveaway of one of those necklaces, and you can go enter for a chance to win (as well as read all about Moses!) here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

muddling along

Yes, we're still here. It's been awhile since I posted anything, and even longer since I posted some personal family news. Truthfully, I haven't been keeping up with much online--even my email inbox got horribly backed up!

So what have we been up to? Mostly just little pieces of this and that. We've had some positively gorgeous spring weather. Sarah has played outside in it, we've eaten supper on our deck, and we've even had a couple of fun play dates. :) We've visited my parents a few times. We've toured a homeschool co-op to see if we were interested in joining next year (Sarah loved the kindergarten room and already knew one of the girls attending there, so she is VERY interested). ;) We finished our preschool homeschool curriculum and are over halfway through our "learn to read" curriculum (I am so impressed with this--Sarah is reading very well, and I can't wait to see how well she's doing once we've finished the whole thing!). I am going to go to a curriculum sale in May to look for deals on what we need for next year.

I have been very tired. Natalie stopped sleeping for awhile. She was waking up throughout the night, screaming in pain, thrashing around, and sometimes passing a lot of gas. I started watching more closely what solid foods she was eating each day. I started giving hefty doses of Mylanta. I talked with her doctor. I began to wonder if we would ever sleep again.

The culprit, apparently, was lactose. She can eat yogurt just fine. But drinking milk or eating ice cream just killed her. So we switched to rice milk (and on those occasions where a treat was warranted, frozen yogurt). Natalie started sleeping again, and I feel halfway human! Yay! (I really need to start making my own yogurt.)

Natalie is cruising around like a pro. She can stand alone for a moment or two, but no steps as yet. She likes to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine, but she does NOT like to be put down in the grass! She can hold up her arms for you when you putting on her shirt. She says Ma-ma, Da-da, Daddy, hi, hello, okay, and peep eye (sounds more like ghee-ga, but it's peep eye!) She says something that sounds like "ee-ah" which I think is supposed to be Sarah.

Sarah is enjoying a weaving loom that my parents got for her. She has made a coaster for us and is working on others for various family members. She's getting really good at it!

I need to get pictures on here, and on Facebook....hopefully soon. :-p

That's us for now. Hope everyone else is doing well!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

review

This post is going to be a bit different. I received a complimentary copy of the Busy Mom's Devotional Bible. In return, I am supposed to post a review of it. So here goes.

My main study Bible is a Ryrie, and it's kind of falling apart from frequent use. So it was exciting to receive a cute new Bible. I really love the feminine colors and the easy-to-carry size of this Bible. It has that "new Bible" smell, which is fun. ;)

The devotions included in the Bible are broken down into one minute, five minutes, and ten minutes. Each ends with a thought to carry with you or reflect upon throughout the day. I liked having the option to choose a longer or shorter reading, and I especially liked that it didn't end with the reading itself; you got something to take with you.

The devotions aren't terribly deep (how deep can you go in one minute?), but they DO contain good reminders and encouraging insights. References were given for further reading, and one could use these as a springboard for more in-depth study.

But that really isn't the design of this Bible. It's for the super-busy mom who just needs a really quick time in the Word and then she's off. I actually think it would make a GREAT gift for moms of newborns. The short readings would be ideal for that season of life when finding time for a shower is difficult, never mind finding time for Bible study! One reviewer mentioned reading a devotional while zapping something in the microwave, simply to refocus and recharge in the middle of the day. That would be a wonderful use for this Bible as well.

But I don't think it should be your only time with the Lord for very long. Let's face it; if you can only find a minute in your day for God, you are going to starve spiritually. Revamp your schedule if you're really that busy.

On a more personal note, the Bible is New International Version (NIV), and I much prefer the New American Standard (NAS). But that is my own preference and doesn't really count against the devotional Bible concept. I probably will only use the Bible on occasion, because I am more the "study Bible" type than the "devotional Bible" type. But for what it's trying to accomplish, I think this Bible does a very nice job.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

recovering

A week ago Wednesday, Natalie woke up bawling about 2:00 a.m. She continued to cry, wail, and thrash throughout the night. When we got up for the day, she was listless and lethargic and burning up with fever. A trip to the doctor confirmed an ear infection, and she started a round of antibiotics. (I know I covered all this in a previous post, but I do have a point, I promise!).

After a few days of antibiotics, she was starting to feel better (although dealing with the laundry caused by all those nasty diapers was wearing a bit on me!). Sunday evening we went to church (I let her sleep in Sunday morning). Apparently, even evening church was a mistake.

In the wee hours of Tuesday morning (around 2:30 a.m.--apparently the 2 o'clock hour is cursed), Natalie woke up crying. Within minutes, she threw up all over me (lovely, I know). She continued to vomit throughout the night and into the morning. Clearly, she'd caught some sort of stomach virus. Just what every girl recovering from an ear infection needs, huh?

By noon on Wednesday (yesterday), Sarah joined the ranks of the stomach bug-afflicted. Nelson started shortly thereafter. And then I succumbed as well. Virus: 4. Butterworths: 0. End game.
'
Quite possibly the only good thing about stomach bugs is that they don't last long. Natalie was happy and playful yesterday and kind of confused as to why no one was happy and playful with her. Sarah was asking for pizza (of all things!) today. Nelson has been working as usual (it helps that his commute time is so short!)

I am beginning to recover as well, although I am a bit slower in doing so. I got pretty dehydrated during the illness, and it's taking me awhile to bounce back from that. I still feel weak and tired.

But...the sun is shining, and the warm weather promises that spring might just come soon. Natalie is almost finished with her antibiotic and has a follow-up appointment on Monday. Hopefully she will get the "all clear", and we will be done with sickness for awhile! :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Psalm 103

In my Bible study today, this passage came up. I really found it a great passage on which to meditate, so I thought I'd share it here. Enjoy!

Psalm 103 (New International Version)

Psalm 103

Of David.
1 Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-

3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

6 The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:

8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.

9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;

16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.

17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD's love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children's children-

18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.

21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.

22 Praise the LORD, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the LORD, O my soul.