Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tot Time - The Week my Kids were gone :-)

Tot School

That's right, this past week my kids were gone.  They went to the grandparents for the "weekend" - well, Friday - Tuesday! 

With that said, I have challenged myself to look for teaching opportunities with my kids while we are playing together.  For example, today, my boys and I were playing trucks.  I was assigned  given the truck with the front loader.  I used the bucket to fill the truck with the alphabet letters.  Well, my 2 1/2 year old saw what I was doing and quickly took over the truck.  While he was lifting the letters - I had him name each letter :-)  Or when we play farm with my 1 1/2 year old, we only speak animals (make animal sounds) for all of the animals.  Nothing is cuter than hearing a kid say "moooooo"!!

The only thing I worked on this week for my Tot School with the boys is finalizing my lesson plan format.  Nothing big!  I also took time to read through lesson plans for ideas!

Thanks for all of the great comments last week!  I appreciate the thoughts and encouragement from everyone else that is also working on this process.

Enjoy your week! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What I'm reading!

I always enjoy sharing what I'm reading.  Some weeks it doesn't change much, some weeks it does but either way, I find it nice to see what others are reading and often add their choices to me "to read" list so I never run out of ideas!

First up, the books I finished this week:

The Quilters Kitchen is a book in the Elm Creek Quilters Series that my mom loves.  She passes the books on to me and they are very good!  This one was a super easy read.  Each chapter includes alot of recipes at the end and the bones of each chapter is really just a short story surrounding an item found in the kitchen of the old mansion.  There were several recipes that looked good too! 

Next, The 6 Stress Points in a Woman's Life is a book I started a week or two ago.  Dr. Kevin Leman is a very easy to read author when it comes to some tough topics.  This point talks about the main 6 stress points that women deal with and how to work towards reducing those stress places.  Over all, it was a good book.  I figured out that I am a perfectionist people pleaser.  Not really a great thing to be HA!   The good thing is that if you can figure out what type of person you are, you can figure out how to fix your biggest stress areas.  One area he touched on lightly was the concept of "Reality Discipline" with your kids - he has written a book talking only about that topic, that is being added to my list of books to read.  Just what little bit he included in this book, really makes sense in my mind!  I don't think I will keep this book on my shelf (I won't re-read it) but I would recommend it to anyone for a first read.  It was an easy read overall and, if you had the time, would most likely finish it in a day or two :-) 

Books I'm reading:

Actually ... I haven't started either book yet.  I just finished the first two books on Monday and haven't had a chance to start the next two! 

And, of course, my devotional books:

Honestly - I've really slacked off this summer. My accountability group took the summer off from our Good Morning Girls group (because two of them had new babies a day apart in May!)  I will get back into them soon :-)

So, what are you reading?  Anything good?

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm loving . . .  that I got to scrapbooking on Tuesday for the day.  I got lots done and enjoyed a day out of the house, by myself.  There is something to be said for that!

I'm loving . . . the cooler, sunny weather.  The past several days - even the weekend - was fantastic! (yes even the few rainy days - I love that soft summer rainfall)

I'm loving . .. that my kids are back home.  Yes, I loved have the long weekend without them - my husband and I enjoyed getting spend time together (even working on projects together - usually one of us works, and one of us entertains the littles!) It is nice to have them home again though!

I'm loving . . . .my husband.  Enough said :-) Ok, I'll say more - he is just wonderful.  So kind, funny and caring.  I'm so thankful that God brought him in my life!

I'm loving . . .  homemade Popsicles.  Right now, my favorite is just using the Simply Lemonade, pour some in a mold, add some frozen berries (or fresh if you have them) fill up the mold with the Lemonade.  Freeze and enjoy!!!  I have new recipe freezing - we'll see if it is as good!

I'm loving . . .. my clean garage.  We can actually park both cars in there again.  I know this is weird, but I actually smile when I walk in there it is so neat and clean.

What are you loving today? 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Too Cute Not To Toot!

I'm getting a little wiser with my Too Cute not to Toot posts - I used to just think I could remember where I saw posts I wanted to . . remember . . until I kept forgetting ;-)  So now, as soon as I see something fun, I post it right here so it is ready to go the following week!  This way is SOOO much easier!

Lets start right with what I'm making for 4th of July at my parents (for real!) So mom, you don't have to make dessert!  Check out this fantastic recipe from Gina's Skinny Recipes.

Wait, there's more food!  (Sometimes, this is the best place to save these really cute recipe ideas too!) Check out these Chocolate Caramel Covered Marshmallows from Jenna's Journey.  All I can say is, Wow, these look good!
Smile Monsters shares a cute project to do with the kids when you hear those famous words "I'm bored".  They would also make really cute 4th of July Decorations too!
If you have followed me for long, you know that we love Mocha Frappes (Yep, from McDonald's!) so anytime I see a recipe for anything Frappe I like to try them out!  Check out this recipe from Smile Monsters for a great looking frozen treat (I will be adding the ingredients to my shopping list this weekend!)

This pinwheel idea is so cute and easy from Just Sew Sassy.

Another easy July 4th idea comes from Day Dreams and Pretty Things - you may even have the stuff you need to make these cute Firecrackers already at home!

I really like this Crayon Flashcard idea from Lines Across My Face - what a great teaching tool!

This button idea just pops with Patriotic Spirit!  Check it out over at Polka Dots on Parade.

I love bags.  I've gotten better and don't buy nearly as many but . .. I still love bags so when I saw this idea for a cute little kid bag, I had to share it!  Check out the idea from over at Originate and renovate.

I have seen this idea for sidewalk paint before but don't believe I've posted a link/idea so, I wanted to share this idea from The creative imperative. She gives an easy recipe and it really does look like a lot of fun for everyone.

We just cleaned out our garage this past weekend and guess what we want to get rid of?  Three pallets . .. then I saw this idea over at Tattered and Inked . . .I might need to keep one :-)

So, honestly, I'm not a big "cook once a month and freeze it" type of girl.  I have found that it is just as much work to cook once a month as it is to cook every day so I'd rather just cook BUT with that said, what I do like are ideas for the "dump and freeze" things meaning, you put the chicken in a bag, dump the ingredients in and freeze it.  (So really, if there is no work, I like it HA!)  I'm posting this idea from The Cellar Door Stories because she shares a few ideas for freezer meals :-) (When I was getting my master's degree, a lady in my class cooked once a year - she and her sisters got together one week in August for a week and cooked enough meals, cut up veggies, etc to basically last a full year.  That is insane, people!)

There is nothing else to say about this craft except it looks  beautiful!  Check out this idea from A Diamond in the Stuff.

This idea from Being Creative is super cute!  It could be used for decorations at any type of party - just choose your paper to fit your theme.

Heck Fridays shares a great activity to do with the kids - a recycled bird feeder.  I love this idea and have it book marked to do with the boys in the future.

Check out Sassy Sites for a whole list of posts showing adorable hats to make with your kids for the 4th of July holiday!  The picture below is just one of many that she shows off! (She provides links for all of them too!)

A Little Tipsy is doing a "Making Memories" series this summer and I really liked this idea that was posted this week on how to make sponge bombs.  This is another idea that I'm tucking away to use in the future with my boys.

Here is another cute idea for decorating for the 4th of July from Nothing But Country.  It is super easy but super cute!

Well, I guess that is about all for this week!  Lots of great ideas.  I look forward to making them eventually :-)

21 Days of Prayer Challenge - Day 21 - Humility

Encouragement from Brooke

It's day twenty-one.

The LAST day of your prayer challenge. Are you a mixture of relieved and sad all at the same time? What an

accomplishment! (What an amazing amount of work!) If you're finishing today you deserve a pat on the back!

Think of all the work that has been done on behalf of your sons! Congrats mom!

You might've noticed that there are actually twenty-two prayers in the Warrior Prayers eBook. I chose humility

as our last day's topic because it is such an amazing posture of the heart. Scripture just seems to scream God's

favor over those who are humble in heart.

James 4:10 says that if we're humble before the Lord, He will lift us up.

1 Peter 5:6 says that if we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God He will exalt us.

Most importantly, in Psalm 149:4 we find that it is the humble who are adorned with salvation.

Do you see that?
A humble heart is required for salvation. Just as Jesus humbled Himself unto the cross, we

must admit that we're sinners, admit that our own way isn't the right way, and humbly ask for forgiveness before

salvation comes.

Do you show humility before your sons? Do you always have to be right? Always have to win? Pray and ask the

Lord for specific ways you can show humility today so that when the time comes, your sons will know how to

show it too.

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." ~Ephesians 4:2

Spend this last lday praying the 10 prayers of Humility for your boy(s).

I hope that you have enjoyed this challenge and, this doesn't have to be the end!  Keep your book out and start over, continuing to pray for your boys daily.  Let them hear you pray, pray in your quiet time, pray always.  Our children need their parents praying for them daily!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Going Kidless

 So this week, the two adorable, freshly trimmed, boys went on vacation and they stayed with . . .. .

These two people (I seriously need to get a picture of them together) known as their Grandparents :-)

Now, I love my kids but I have to admit that when my parents pulled out of my driveway with my kids, I did do a little happy dance on the sidewalk!!!!  They left on Friday and are coming back tomorrow (Tuesday).  Granted, as soon as they get here I'm leaving to go scrapbooking for the whole day and won't actually see them for real until Wednesday!  We've done these little "vacations" for our kids since Josh was about 9 months old.  Admittedly, when I worked full time, the last thing I really wanted to do was send my kid away for any amount of time - I already didn't get to see him all day but, when he was 9 months old, he stayed overnight with my mother-in-law when my husband took me away for our anniversary . . .it was heaven :-)  Then, not long after that, we left him with my parents for two nights so we could go on a babymoon before Nate arrived . . .it was fabulous!  After Nate was born, well, we have tried to work out a weekend (which has stretched into 3-4 days now) every 6-8 weeks where the boys stay with the grandparents.  It is a huge benefit to everyone!  Don't get me wrong, I love and adore my kids but having the freedom to run out the door in two seconds is fantastic.  I thought I would share my list of things we enjoy when the kids are gone:

1) Eating hot food.  Seriously.  When the kids are home, by the time I get to eat (any meal) my food is cold - I had to cut their food, blow on it for five minutes because it's "hot mama, hot mama" and refill drinks plus get another fork . .. and knife. Tonight, we cooked on the grill - we got to eat our chicken while it was still hot and juicy with lots of flavor!!

2) Eating out without having to clean up the floor.  We are not the parents that leave a mess in a restaurant.  Before we leave, one of us is on the floor picking up all the stuff our kids (and probably the previous kid) dropped.  We went out to dinner on Saturday and . .. I didn't have to clean up .  I could just leave!  (Funny thing is - now, before we leave anywhere, Josh gets down and says "clean up mama" !!)

3) Getting up and leaving for church in less then 1 hour.  On Sunday, we got up 45 minutes before we wanted to leave . . .snuck in the door of a church at the last minute (not nursery needed) and were the first ones out of the parking lot!!! 

4) No bath time.  Sure, it is cute to give my kids baths and fun to watch them run naked through the house but . . .it is so relaxing to only have to bathe myself HA!

5) I can keep the gate open.  It is so much easier to get things done without having to open the gate or to have to fight kids to get through the gate :-)

6) We can both leave!  Usually one of us stays home while the other runs to get a . . .Frappe . . .but when they are gone, we both jump in the car and go where ever we need to go! 

7) No toys . . . yep, the toys all stay picked up and put away! 

8) I can sit down for more than 2 minutes - without having to get up to fill a sippy cup or change a diaper!

9) No changing diapers . . . enough said LOL

10) Well, really, number 10 is simply this - I would recommend to any mom to take a break from  your kids :-)  Even if it is for one night/two days - it will make you a better mom and your kids better kids!  

Please understand, I love my children more than anything.  I don't take for granted every day I have them and am so thankful for the joy they bring.  Yet, I'm also very grateful for grandparents who are willing and able to enjoy days with their grandkids.  What a true gift for all of us! 

Deep Cleaning 101 - Master Bedroom (plus a little more!)

Last week's zone was the Master Bedroom!  I don't know about you, but my master bedroom is anything but a "retreat".  In books I've read, shows I've watched, and people I've talked to, I always hear/see how that one room should be a quiet, relaxing place to go.  That is all fine, if you have the space!  Let me show you a few before pictures.

What do you notice in each of these pictures??  Very simply, my room has to serve multiple purposes!
1) Bedroom (duh!)
2) Workout room
3) "Guest" room (notice the play pen)
4) Candle Storage

My husband and I play a little game that is called "In my next house . .. . "  I'm going to play this little game with you (aren't you so excited!)  In my next house I'll have a room that is my workout/craft room.  That room will be located next to the great room and will have either a window or half door so that when I'm in there, I can still see the kids.  The room will be big enough to house my scrapbooking supplies (set up like all of those inspiration rooms I see, or course), my craft stuff (all neatly organized and pretty) plus, an area where I can set up my treadmill and maybe some other great piece of workout equipment.  Of course, it will have a great TV to watch too!  Doesn't that sound wonderful? LOL  But, for now, my bedroom acts as so many things because that is the best place for them!  There is no other place in our house for the treadmill except for our room.  It is not ideal but, it squeezes in, allows me to watch TV while I walk, and gives me a private space to walk without worrying about little fingers.  Our room is also the ideal place for the munchkin I watch to nap - so the pack-n-play gets set up each morning for him.  Our room (my little closet space) is also where I store my candle cart so it is easy to grab what I want when I need to refill candles. 

With all of that said, our room doesn't get really cleaned very often.  So, when these deep cleaning week comes along, I really make sure to take the time - even if it is on the weekend - to really clean.  Including washing the extra blankets, comforter, mattress cover and getting on the floor and vacuuming under everything possible.  I also make sure our closets and dresser are organized (things tend to get shoved into corners just to get them off the bed) 

Here is a basic look at what I do when I deep clean our bedroom:
1) Dust every surface and remove things that don't below
2) Organize dresser drawers and closet
3) Strip bed completely and wash everything (don't worry, I change the sheets more often than once a month!)  One side note - I do not wash my comforter every month.  I usually wash it 2-3 times a year.  It is technically dry clean only but I have figured out how to wash it at home :-)  The downside is that I do need to hang it out to dry which means I can wash it in the middle of winter !!
4) Clean pictures on the wall and mirror
5) Vacuum - the floors, the baseboards, and ceiling corners. 
6) Maybe once a year, I try to steam clean the carpet.  Due to the crowded space, we can't rearrange so when I do steam clean, it is only the main area that gets done at this point.

Now for the "Plus a little more!"  As I mentioned last week, I usually tag Josh's room onto the bathroom week and Nate's onto the bedroom week.  I saved them both for this week since the boys would be gone, making it easier to clean!.  Here are some pictures!

Now, their rooms really don't get as dirty as others.  There are multiple reasons - one being that I pick stuff up every week when I do their laundry; two, they really only sleep in there; three, they haven't learned to mess them up. HA!

This is my basic list:
1) General pick up - just make sure everything is put back in the right place/room
2) Closets - make sure that everything is hung up and neat; move any out grown clothes out.
3) Dust surfaces
4) Vacuum the floor, baseboards, and corners
5) Bedding/curtains - I wash the curtains and big bedding only once or twice a year.  My disclaimer is that the bedding (bumper and other extra blankets) get washed more often because sometimes, well, they get icky dirty due to sickness :-( 
6) Windows - clean the insides and the blinds

That's all for this week!  You can check out my other deep cleaning posts by clicking HERE.  Next week, we'll talk about the Living room and Dining room!

21 Days of Prayer Challenge - Day 20 - Heart Change

Encouragement from Brooke

The most foundational thing we can ask God for in the lives of our sons is heart change. The Word says that

what's in the heart eventually comes out. Bad stuff in the heart? Bad stuff comes out. Good stuff in the heart?

Good stuff comes out.

I heard an illustration of this concept once from a pastor friend. He held up a Styrofoam cup with a little water

inside and proceeded to ram his hand against the cup so that the water splattered everywhere. Then he asked this


"Why did water come out of the cup?"

So what do you think? Did the water come out of the cup because he rammed his hand up against it? Certainly a

possible answer. But consider this: could it be that the water came out of the cup because there was water IN the


Think about it … if the cup had been empty when he rammed it, nothing would have come out.

And so it is with our hearts. Life has a funny way of ramming up against us. People pull out in front of you when

you're in a hurry. The neighbor's dog won't stop yapping through the night when all you need is a few hours of

sleep. Your children pick the day after your favorite relative dies to be little horrors … somehow sensing that

mom is frazzled.

Stuff happens.

We get hit. Probably every day. But our response to the hits comes from what's in our cup...or hearts. Bad stuff in

the heart? Bad stuff comes out. Good stuff in the heart? Good stuff comes out.

"The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure

produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." ~Luke 6:45

Remember to commit to praying the 10 prayers in this chapter today.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Happenings in this House!

 This was a week of weather!  The beginning of the week was so very hot!  We did a lot of nothing!  On Tuesday night, a huge storm came through - this pictures show the front edge of the storm as it came over top of our house.  I was on "storm watch" since this happened after the rest of the family went to bed.  A cold front finally moved in on Wednesday evening (after another storm!).  Such relief!

 The boys just chilling out.  We watched a lot of cartoons on Monday and Tuesday!!
 On Thursday, both boys got haircuts . . . . and suckers.  Notice those blue lips?? Gotta love blueberry dum-dums :-) 
 Such a cutie!  The boys were in sorry needs of those said haircuts and look so much better now!
 The boys are waiting for Papa!!!  From the time Josh got up on Friday, all I heard was "Papa? Papa?"  I told him Papa would be coming after lunch to which he replied, "Pizza, Papa?" LOL  Both boys were thrilled when Papa and Grandma arrived  - so much so, that I no longer existed!  They actually went home with the grandparents and are there for a nice long weekend!

 Without Kids, we are enjoying some great time together!  On Saturday, we took time to completely clean out the garage.  We also did a few other small projects including scrounging up all of our pop cans so we could turn those in and, if you can believe it, have enough money from that to pick up the last few hinges we need to hang the cabinets in the kitchen (which will get done today or tomorrow!) before heading out on a date night.  We started out with dinner at Red Lobster (which we love plus we even had a gift certificate to help us out a little.)  From there, we drove to Muskegon to visit the beach.  If you know me at all, you know that I love the beach - it is a pipe dream of mine to own a cottage on Lake Michigan . . I will settle for a nice lake even . . .I want to watch the storm come in over the lake . . and see the ice cold frozen water.  I just love it.  We don't get out to the beach often right now so this was just a wonderful thing!  Yes, it was a little chilly but we sat in the sand and just watched the water for awhile before heading to "our" ice cream place at the Campground. 
 :-)  We have a thing about taking pictures  . .. and Darryl makes weird faces so I joined in.  This is one of the "worst" ones LOL

Finally, we ended our night by going to the drive-in!  We LOVE the drive-in movie theatre.  They even still have the old working speakers (or can tune your radio to the station instead.  We saw Mr. Popper's Penguins (which is a cute movie) but mostly just enjoyed being out together.  We very much look forward to taking our boys to the drive-in and building memories with them - Darryl has great memories of going to the drive-in as a kid, dressed in in PJ's and enjoying popcorn. 

So, those are the basics of our week!  Hope you enjoyed your week as much as we did ours!