Busy Little Elf

I've been working away, though it seems as if everything that could happen to keep me away from my tasks has happened! My cold has lingered on, making me really exhausted by the time the kiddos go to bed (and it's hard for me to make gifts while I'm sleeping). Friday I was determined to at least get the things that needed to be mailed finished. A big storm was supposed to start Friday around noon, and I was furiously sewing and cooking away while keeping one eye on the skies (looking for snow) and one eye on the kids. Yes, your math is correct, that didn't leave enough eyes to have one on my sewing machine. As I was rushing, I sewed one of my reverse applique letters right to the collar of the t-shirt! It was a nightmare to take out because I used a really close stitch. It was also my first time doing reverse applique, so it took me quite a while to complete the project. I hope the boys like the finished product - I wanted it to have a rough, boyish look and I think I acheived that, though their parents might just think it looks messy. Oh well, messy sure was a lot of work!A bit after 12:30, Lil' Miss announced, "The snow is coming down Mommy!" It came down fast and hard and by the time I finished the shirts, there were several inches on the ground. I ended up waiting for Hubby to get home and he drove us to the post office. So I am happy that I got the t-shirts finished and six bags of chocolate covered roasted pecans made AND they all got in the mail on Friday.
I thought that Saturday I'd be able to get some more things done, but since we got 12 inches of snow on Friday, hubby spent most of the day cleaning up - which meant the kids were with me (they went out for a little bit, but are too small to really stay out very long). Sewing with the Little Guy around just does not work. However, I did go to my neighbor's house for a cake baking lesson. I already know how to bake cakes, but she makes those professional cakes that you pay tons of money for birthday parties and other events. It was great, I learned how to make the cake AND the icing and it was delicious! This is a 12 inch, 3 inch high cake and 24 hours later there is only about a fourth of it left!
Today, church was canceled because it was still snowing - it snowed straight through from Friday until Sunday evening. Though I was looking forward to going to church, not only to worship and fellowship, but I had a few bags of pecans I wanted to give to some folks, I was also happy to have the time to work on some projects. Well, we drove out in the snow to get a few things and wouldn't you know that when we returned, our CO detector was going off again?!! Hubby went down to check out the furnace and the one near the bedrooms began to go off too. We decided that it would be best for the children and I to leave the house, while Hubby tried to figure out the problem. I woke the Little Guy from his nap and bundled everyone up and went to a neighbor's. While it was nice to visit, all I could think of was my sewing! It felt like someone really didn't want me to make any gifts.

When we finally came back home to a soot covered Hubby, I let the kids decorate gingerbread cookies while I started on one project. By the end of the night, I was able to finish it and a little something to go with it. It's a tissue pouch holder and a keychain! Hopefully the next few nights will be much more productive!


Time to Panic

I am officially panicking right now. There are only 10 days until Christmas!!!

I have so many things that I wanted to do, but haven't been able to. We've had a rough few weeks with the Little Guy being sick first for a week, then Lil' Miss getting pink eye, and then Hubby and I sick the week after. I avoid medications during pregnancy, thus have had a much harder time with this cold than I normally would. I can't seem to get rid of a very congested cough, I'm stuffy and cannot breathe and my throat is unbelievably sore. In addition, I still have the normal pregnancy symptoms, heartburn being the worst. All of this together has not allowed me to get a good night's rest in quite a while, so I am just beat during the days. Add to this mix a very active 2 and 4 year old and you do NOT have someone who has energy to sew or bake at all!

I keep checking the US Postal Service website to make sure I have time to mail stuff. If I can at least muster up enough energy to make gifts for my out of town family, I'll be happy. If I read the website correctly, the last day to mail stuff and get it to it's destination by Christmas is December 20. This gives me 4 days (or 5 if I can sew and bake a bit on Saturday morning) to get several gifts made, wrapped and packed up. Once they're done, I can pull a few all nighters and get the local family/friends gifts done. This is a pretty tall order, so I'd appreciate any healthy thoughts and prayers you have to send my way! Thanks!!!


Fifty-six Handmade Christmas Cards

Here are my Christmas Cards for this year! I apologize in advance for the quality of the photos. I did not have good lighting where the cards were and my camera is not the best.

The last few years I made a photo card, either taking my own photo or getting a professional photo and using it to create the card. This time however, I wanted to actually scrapbook a card. My mother is quite a gifted card maker and I've become more and more inspired by her handmade cards. I started working on these at the scrapbooking retreat I went to in November.

I started off with 8 & 1/2 x 11 sheets of forest green, cranberry and cream paper. I cut them in half so that they were 8 & 1/2 x 5 & 1/2. I ran them through a Cuttlebug using an embossing folder. That's what made the pretty raised pattern. It's the cutest little machine that you can use to manually cut shapes and emboss paper. Then I cut varous 12X12 sheets of beautiful patterned cream, gold, light green and flowered paper down to fit the cards (now folded in half). I used a Creative Memories decorative trimmer to give them a wavy edge. I adhered these pieces to the center of my cards. I left the flowered paper as squares (no wavy edges) and used some distressing ink to give the paper an antique look, then adhered them to the right side of the card front.

I used a wooden stamp with black ink to make the bible verse on strips of red and green paper, cut them and matted them to brown or red paper. I did the same for the little manger image with an acrylic stamp. I am new to using acrylic stamps, but I really like them. You can see exactly where you are placing your stamp. I adhered these matted stamped images to the card. I also stamped "Handmade by" on the back of each card and wrote my name underneath.

I used EK Success snowflake punches to create about 175 little snowflakes in various patterns. The EK Success snowflake punch line offers six different patterns so that you can layer them and make an endless amount of unique snowflake arrangements. I layered and glued three snowflakes to each card, and put a dot of white glitter glue in the center.

I punched out 240 tiny gold doves, using leftover gold foil label paper. All of the labels had been used, but I saved the empty sheets. I punched the doves from the leftover gold borders of the label paper! I used these to adhere a wallet sized photo of my kids to the inside of the card, over the embossed area.

I bought a couple packs of holiday stationary, and used The Enveloper to make envelopes for all of the cards. Now they are just sitting on the table waiting to be signed and mailed. That part is taking quite a while because I am writing a personalized message in all 56 of them!

A Dream Come True!

Okay, this is a biased post because I LOVE SCRAPBOOKING! I have just come across the BEST GIVEAWAY EVER!!! Vanilla Joy is giving away a Silhouette Digital Craft Cutter by QuicKutz. I was actually considering getting a second job just to save up for one of these. Now I'm hoping to just win this one!!! It works through your computer and you can design just about anything you want to cut out and use on your scrapbook pages, cards or other handmade crafts! If you love papercrafts, this is the giveaway for you. Check it out before the deadline, December 13!

Vanilla Joy is also giving away a designer kitchen apron by Heavenly Hostess. It's a beautiful Mod Martini Halter Apron and it's reversible! This giveaway ends on December 12. Wow stumbling upon Vanilla Joy's website is better than if I were to get paid to fill out surveys!

The Silent Killer

Early Tuesday morning Hubby and I awoke to a loud alarm. It wasn't the smoke alarm, but our Carbon Monoxide detector. We were not sure what to do as it was 4am, we felt fine, the kids looked okay and we really just wanted to go back to sleep. We concluded that it was probably faulty and went to bed for a couple more hours.

Later that day, Hubby checked out the alarm to make sure it was working properly (it was) and went around the house checking our CO levels. They were quite high in the basement and bouncing up and down in the other areas of the house. That night we called a good friend, my dad, who works in the heating and cooling field. After answering several questions and having Hubby try a few things, he determined that he needed to come over immediately. Together they pulled the entire boiler apart and discovered that it was extremely blocked up. Apparently it was only ventilating at about 25% of what it should be - which means the rest was going you know where - INTO THE HOUSE!

Hubby and my dad stayed up until about midnight cleaning it out and making sure all was running smoothly. Praise the Lord for my dad who knows about this kind of stuff and was able and willing to come out in the middle of the night like that. The bad thing is, I had no clue that the boiler could even get blocked that way and cause those sort of problems. I thought CO problems were issues for older homes. Our house is only 11 years old. I figured we had several years before we had to worry about such things.

This is very scary because you can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, but at high levels it can kill a person in minutes. Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. If appliances that burn fuel are not working properly or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of CO can result. Hundreds of people die accidentally every year from CO poisoning caused by malfunctioning or improperly used fuel-burning appliances. Even more die from CO produced by idling cars. Fetuses, infants, elderly people, and people with anemia or with a history of heart or respiratory disease can be especially susceptible.

Here are some tips for making sure you stay safe this winter heating season...
  • Have your fuel-burning appliances -- including oil and gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas ranges and ovens, gas dryers, gas or kerosene space heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves -- inspected by a trained professional at the beginning of every heating season.
  • Make certain that the flues and chimneys are connected, in good condition, and not blocked.
  • Choose appliances that vent their fumes to the outside whenever possible, have them properly installed, and maintain them according to manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Read and follow all of the instructions that accompany any fuel-burning device. If you cannot avoid using an unvented gas or kerosene space heater, carefully follow the cautions that come with the device. Use the proper fuel and keep doors to the rest of the house open. Crack a window to ensure enough air for ventilation and proper fuel-burning.
  • Call the Consumer Product Safety Commission (1-800-638-2772) at for more information on how to reduce your risks from CO and other combustion gases and particles.
  • Never idle the car in a garage -- even if the garage door to the outside is open. Fumes can build up very quickly in the garage and living area of your home.
  • Do not use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.
  • Never use a charcoal grill indoors -- even in a fireplace.
  • Do not sleep in any room with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater.
  • Never use any gasoline-powered engines (mowers, weed trimmers, snow blowers, chain saws, small engines or generators) in enclosed spaces.
  • Do not ignore symptoms, particularly if more than one person is feeling them. You could lose consciousness and die if you do nothing.

If the CO detector alarm does go off:

  • Make sure it is your CO detector and not your smoke detector.
  • Check to see if any member of the household is experiencing symptoms of poisoning.
  • If they are, get them out of the house immediately and seek medical attention. Tell the doctor that you suspect CO poisoning.
  • If no one is feeling symptoms, ventilate the home with fresh air, turn off all potential sources of CO -- your oil or gas furnace, gas water heater, gas range and oven, gas dryer, gas or kerosene space heater and any vehicle or small engine.
  • Have a qualified technician inspect your fuel-burning appliances and chimneys to make sure they are operating correctly and that there is nothing blocking the fumes from being vented out of the house.

Right now I am praising God for keeping us safe through this little scare and for blessing us with family who could help us out in a pinch and I am praying that you have a safe winter!!!


Pink Eye

Both kids are now sick. Oh, and both parents! The Little Guy is still struggling with his cold - it's just a chest cold, but a persistent one. Lil' Miss started off with a cold and now has PINK EYE!!! She was fine all yesterday - the eyes were a bit watery, but I figured it was from having a cold. Then in the evening, she came in the room and her eye looked so horrible for a minute I thought she had stuck something in it. But it was red, watery with discharge in the corners and I knew immediately what it was. I followed up today with a dr visit just to have it confirmed and get her a prescription.

The fun thing about a 4 year old having pink eye is that you get to put eye drops in her eye twice a day. Now, maybe for someone else's child this would be easy, but for my child it's a whole soap opera. Just getting her to stand still, look up, keep her eye open while I pull the bottom lid down (as instructed by the pediatrician) only to have her close the eye just as I'm getting ready to put the drop in - or flinch or turn her head or fall to the ground or begin screaming or... you get the picture. She's always been this way though. She spits out her medicine, needs 2 nurses and myself to hold her down for a routine shot, and won't even let me cut off a hangnail.

I'm not real sure what to do about the eyedrop thing though. I know she needs them to get better and I cannot physically get them into her eye. Maybe tonight Hubby can hold her down while I get them in??? I am really dreading bedtime tonight. Oh well, any ideas would be much appreciated.


A Two for One Deal!

Support children’s cancer research by sending all-natural gourmet cookies to everyone on your gift list! Cookies for Kids' Cancer was created to raise awareness of and funds for pediatric cancer research. The cookies are baked fresh when ordered, and include oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip and lemon sugar. Since over 75% of the purchase price goes directly to fund pediatric cancer research, not only are you giving your friends and family a delicious gift, but you are helping out a wonderful cause! The organization started with a kid fighting cancer and his parents’ desire to help him and others. Pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children under the age of 18 - odds directly related to how little money is being spent on research. So buy some cookies today and give two gifts at once!

I actually won some of these cookies through the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day. Green Jello was so moved by the mission of this charity, that she decided to purchase a box of cookies and give them away to a randomly drawn!


Give-Aways Galore!!!

Okay, you may have noticed that I've been posting a lot of give-aways lately. That is because Sew Mama Sew hosted Give-Away Day on December 3. There were tons of blogs and etsy shops participating who offered a lovely handmade item as a give-away to a reader. I ran across it kind of late, on December 3, but the list was SO LONG that many of the participants have extended their give-aways! So as I continue to go through the list in my imaginary spare time, I'll add the ones still going on to this post! I hope you get a chance to check them out and maybe win a handmade gift (which I think are the best gifts anyway)!

This Craft Addict has a little bit of everything here: fabric, beads, Scrabble tiles, scrapbooking elements, ribbon, tulle, yarn, snaps, buttons, embroidery kits, patterns and books. Everything you need to be a craft addict or feed your existing crafty addiction. To enter, comment on her blog and in your comment, you must write about your favorite charity. The name of it, why you support it, what it does, whatever — give them a plug! Include a link to its web site, if you’d like.

Only until Friday night you can win a Key Wristlet, a Dates to Remember Calendar or a Gift List Organizer. Check out Pamela Posch Designs for a chance to enter!

Two Cheese Please has a give-away for everybody. A free to download tutorial to make a quilted Christmas Wreath and a pattern to make a Christmas stamp. I've never made a stamp but I use them all the time in scrapbooking, so I'd love to try my hand at this - after the holidays are over!

Dressed by Jess is giving away a lovely canvas with a bronze cross in the center. You have to see it!!!

You must see these lovely Travel Jewelry Cases on Finally's blog. There is a bracelet/ring bag and a necklace case.

Mommy and Beyond is giving four readers a chance to win her lovely items. She has included burp cloths, placemat pillows, a petite zipper pouch, and a bracelet and earring set! Wow!!!

Here is a cute little handknit pink muffin at My Crafty Mess. Lil' Miss just loves pink fuzzy things!

Edward and Lilly are offering the sweetest little handmade birdie for your Christmas tree. You even get to pick your favorite color!

For all of you photographers out there, or those looking for a great gift, The Crafty Crow is having a really cool give-away for a handmade camera strap slip cover from the Shey [B] Etsy Shop. They come in so many beautiful designs. All you need to do is pick your favorite from the etsy shop, then comment on the blog about it and add a link to your blog.

Mommy Mandy is also giving away a Shey [B] camera strap slip cover. Check out her blog and comment on your favorite cover from the Shey [B] Etsy Shop. There are a few extra things you can do to get extra entries as well.


Win a Subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Update: I actually won this giveaway! My first time ever winning anything online! I'm so excited and I know the magazine will definately be put to good use, as I need all the homeschooling help and ideas I can get!

Heart of the Matter Online is giving away not one, but five subscriptions to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. All you need to do is comment about your favorite Christmas gift as a child.

Here is the link to enter the contest!

Maple Lane: Holiday Apron Giveaway!

While looking up apron patterns and tutorials I came across a fantastic giveaway! J. Carrell Originals is giving away this lovely red and white polka dot flounce apron on the blog, Maple Lane. The deadline is December 10, so get on over there and enter. And make sure to look around the J. Carrell Originals website, there are tons of other great aprons!

Maple Lane: Holiday Apron Giveaway!


Sewing with a Sick Kid

Well, it's official. I've got a sick kid in the house. I wouldn't mind so much except that it has completely thrown off my handmade holiday schedule! The Little Guy began coughing and sneezing on Saturday. By Sunday it was pretty bad. Monday he had a fever, couldn't keep his breakfast down, didn't want lunch or dinner, and had a fever again at bedtime. This morning he woke up and whatever was in his tummy overnight (which is a mystery to me because he didn't eat anything on Sunday) came up on daddy and himself, AFTER he was already dressed for the day of course. He managed to eat a bit of very watered down Cream of Wheat for breakfast and then half of a p & j sandwich for lunch. Just before naptime he got warm again, but I in my parental wisdom thought, "He's only a little warm, I'll just let him take a nap and maybe when he wakes up the fever will be gone." Well, he woke up about 45 minutes later BURNING UP. I immediately gave him some Children's Motrin and tried to get him to lay back down. But once the Motrin kicked in and brought the fever down, he had no intentions of sleeping. So he played the rest of the day, ate a muffin - which came up about half an hour later, then played some more.

I suppose I wouldn't have gotten much sewing done until after the kids bedtime anyway, but I am so exhausted from the mental energy that goes into caring for a sick little one, that I think I'd fall asleep at the sewing machine. Instead, I've decided to finish my Christmas cards. I just cut out 200 little gold doves to use as corner anchors for the pictures of the kids I am inserting into each card. Once that's done, it's just addressing the envelopes, sticking stamps on them and putting them in the mail. This just might be the earliest I've ever gotten Christmas cards out!

Hopefully tomorrow I can get some sewing done. I have a prenatal appointment in the morning - only about 9 weeks left until due date - IF I make it to the due date!!! Then Lil' Miss has a violin lesson. After that, we're free for the rest of the day. My little prayer is that we'll head home for some schoolwork, lunch and the Little Guy will go down for a nap. I usually don't do violin practice on the day we have private lesson because I figure she's gotten enough violin in for the day. That would leave two whole hours for sewing!

Here are the things I hope to get done this week...

Play mail bag and letters for some of the little boys

No sew tutus for the little girls

Apron for my auntie in law (a special request)

Fleece scarves and mittens for some of the school aged children


Countdown to Christmas!

Can you believe it's December already??? We have just three and a half weeks until Christmas! I'm feeling a bit of axiety because I have SO MUCH TO DO.

Here is the list of things I need to complete before Christmas:
1. Sew gifts for everyone (hubby, kids, parents, inlaws, siblings, nephews, godchildren, church family, friends)
2. Finish making Christmas cards and mail
3. Send out invitations for Christmas Eve dinner (we always have family and close friends over)
4. Make menu and buy food for Christmas Eve dinner
5. Wrap and mail gifts to out of town family

I also have lots of baby preparation stuff to do, but I'm hoping that can wait until after Christmas. Even if I deliver a bit early, I figuring I'll have at least a couple of weeks after Christmas to prepare the nursery, wash cloth diapers, wash baby clothes, pack a hospital bag and other important things.

One of the biggest problems I'm having is my love of making things. My Christmas cards are handmade from scratch. I actually started from a sheet of blank cardstock, embossed the paper, stamped all of the images, matted them, punched out snowflakes, added glitter, took photos of the kids, cropped all the photos, punched out gold stickers and used them to attach the photos to the inside of the card, signed them all and am now writing a personal message in each one. I could have left out several of those steps, but everytime I looked at the card I thought, "I should add this," or "That punch would look great in gold!" Oh, and did I mention that I made 50 cards?

The second problem I am having may be bigger than the first. There are just SO MANY wonderful things to sew! I think I've got my list together, then I find something else online.
My absolute favorite site is the Sew Mama Sew blog with Handmade Holidays 2008.
There is also 30 days, which has well over 30 days worth of ideas!
Handmade Holidays through the year has some pretty good craft projects and links to tutorials.
And of course, Craftster is always a fabulous resource. There you'll find an endless list of ideas and tutorials submitted by fellow crafty folks.

I hope to post some photos of my finished projects, but at the rate I'm going, they'll be most likely immediately stuffed into a box and rushed to the post office! Are any of you making gifts at home this year?


Weekend Update

I'm sitting on the couch next to a snoring Hubby watching an SNL rerun. It's been such a long weekend - but long in a good way. I think Thanksgiving may be one of my favorite holidays because it falls on a Thursday. Almost everyone has the following Friday off and then the weekend. It's wonderful to know you don't have to rush back to the daily routine the next day. Even on the normal weekend, we really only have Saturday, and then Sunday we get up early to get everyone dressed and off to church.

Thursday, I spent the morning cooking. I ended up making two pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread, pumpking muffins (my pumpkin made more pulp than I anticipated, thus all of the pumpkin dishes), a pound cake, and a strawberry rhubarb pie. Then we all went over to my parents for dinner. My brother and his family were up visiting, and my husband's brother joined us. My parents put out a fantastic spread of food - I wish I could have ate more, but I needed to save room for desert. Afteward, the ladies played Scategories (eventually the rest of the family joined in), the guys watched a movie, and the kids played with toys.

Friday we all got together again and went to a shopping center - NOT a mall. I absolutely stay away from malls from Thanksgiving until New Years. I can't stand the traffic and inconsideration drivers have for each other around those places. We went to a smaller town with a series of little shops nicely spread out. After checking out a couple of stores, and buying our Christmas tree, we all went to dinner together, which my dad paid for! Later that night four of our good college friends came over and we watched a movie together after the kids went to bed. It was nice for the three couples to hang out and not worry about the kids.

Saturday we ran a couple of errands, Hubby put up Christmas lights around the house and I printed pictures to send out with Christmas cards I made. I ran over to my parents' house to pick up some Thanksgiving leftovers so that I didn't have to cook. After dinner the kids trimmed the tree, had their baths, books and went to bed. The only drawback to today is that I've had terrible heartburn all day. Another pregancy symptom. I know of a few natural remedies, but I'll have to do a bit more research.

Sunday we'll be off to church. A friend of ours is preaching at our church tomorrow. It will be nice to hear him for the first time, and see my girlfriend and their kids. Afterward, Hubby will be focused on football for the rest of the day and I hopefully will be sewing - at least during the Little Guy's nap.

Well, I hope you all had a wonderful weekend too!


'Tis the season...

The holiday season always makes me want to bake. Pies, breads, cookies, cakes... Our home is toasty warm and smelling of sugar and spices from November through January! While everyone else is excited preparing their famous mac n cheese or award winning turkey for Thanksgiving, I get charged up slicing up fresh fruit and rolling out pie crusts. That is going to be my contribution for Thanksgiving dinner at my parents this year. I plan on making an apple pie, a strawberry rhubarb pie, pumpkin bread (from pumpkins, not from the can) and a pound cake.

We usually spend the holidays out of town with my inlaws and I don't get to contribute much. My mil is one of those who has her holiday menu perfectly timed from start to finish. Another cook in the kitchen throws the whole plan off! This year we moved our visit up to this past summer so that we could avoid traveling so close to the due date. Not that people don't travel at 7 months pregnant, I'd just rather be close to the comfort of my own home at this stage. We've done the airport traveling with two small children when I'm NOT pregnant, and it's just not fun.

Anyway, yesterday I tried out a new cookie recipe. A friend gave me the recipe but I made a few changes. After the regular base for many cookies (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, creamed butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla), it called for lots of coconut, pecans, old fashioned rolled oats and chocolate chips. I decreased the amount of pecans by a fourth because Hubby has convinced himself he's allergic to them. He's SO not, it's just that the first time he had a fresh pecan, he happened to eat the very bitter red part in between the meat. I also decreased the amount of chocolate chips by a third because I'm trying to cut down on my chocolate intake. And then I added fresh cranberries to half of the batch. They turned out great. However, this morning, they were pretty crunchy. I think next time I'll also decrease the amount of rolled oats.

I guess the crunchiness didn't bother everyone. I sent some to work with my husband and he said everyone liked them. I'll bring some to church with me this evening and over to my parents. For Christmas I'll be baking cookies and making chocolate covered pecans to give along with my handmade gifts. What are you baking this holiday season?

funny pictures of cats with captions


Beware of Cat

While I was away last weekend, my husband had a little encounter with our cat. He is just the most gentle thing in the world and would never hurt a soul (or so I thought). We adopted him last spring and he came to us declawed, spayed with all of his shots. Since he is declawed, we do not let him outside - though he has ventured through an open door once or twice, but was so in awe of the great outdoors that he stood frozen, making it easy for us to grab him and bring him back inside.

Well, this past weekend, my bil and a couple of friends were visiting Hubby and one of them left the door open when they left in the evening. Hubby took the dog out for a walk and didn't notice the open door. When he returned, the dog was on high alert for some strange reason, and Hubby and his brother realized she was staring at the cat. My bil went onto the porch to try to get him, the cat freaked and ran under the porch. Hubby spent the better part of the night trying to get the cat from under the porch. When he was finally able to get a hold of him, my cat was so upset that he used his only defense - his teeth. They sunk so far down into Hubby's hand that it swelled up.

Now Hubby and cat are not on the best terms and the little ones tell everyone they run into about how "the cat bit daddy". But just look at that angelic little kitty face, do you really think he would have hurt dear Hubby if he really didn't think he was in danger? The funny thing is, Hubby still cleans the kitty litter for me every morning since I can't due to being pregnant, and he feeds the cat. Such a sweetie - still mad at the cat, but a sweetie! Hopefully Hubby will be able to forgive him soon.
By the way, these are all pictures a photographer friend of mine took of my cat. He is supposed to be playing with these lovely little handmade cat toys, but he was not in a playful mood that day.


A worry free weekend!

This past weekend I got a rare treat. I went to a 48 hour scrapbooking event at a Christian retreat center. The weekend included all meals, a room and plenty of space and time for scrapbooking. There was also a massage therapist on hand (for an extra fee) and an exercise class. It was great that it was at a Christian center. There was prayer before every meal and no drinking or crazy behavior. The setting was beautiful, albeit a bit far out for me. It was a couple hours away, out in the wilderness and I was sure I was going to come face to face with a moose or bear while out there. From 2pm on Friday until 2pm on Sunday, about 95 ladies worked on their projects and albums. A few, like myself, worked on holiday cards. I made 50 Christmas cards throughout the weekend! Now I have no excuse for not getting my cards out on time.

While I was gone, hubby took great care of the kids. He even did Little Miss' hair for church on Sunday morning! What a man! He told me I should go away more often because he and the kids had a lot of fun together. He'd better watch what he says or I just might run off again - just not so far away this time.

On top of that, I decided to take my 3 hour glucose test on Friday morning so that I wouldn't have to think about it during my scrapbooking weekend. It was a rough day because having fasted since 8 the night before, then taking the test and having four blood draws, then meeting the kids at their homeschool co-op (another mom agreed to bring them for me) and helping to clean up at the co-op, just about did me in. By the time everyone was leaving, I couldn't even put the car seats back into my car. I was shaking and could barely stand. One of the other moms had to put the seat in for me, strap the kids in and follow me home to make sure I made it safely! I nearly passed out once I got home, but luckily, hubby arrived shortly after we did and ran out to get me something to eat. After eating, I regained energy quickly and was able to pack and get on the road. I even put together an apple pie and popped it in the oven for hubby before I left. I felt good about having taken the test beforehand. I felt free to eat almost everything they served, and got some exercise in while I was there!

I haven't heard any information from my midwives, and the way I figure, no news is good news! I've been with them for several years, and usually if there is something off about any test results, they tend to call immediately. The fact that I haven't heard from them leads me to believe that I passed. I have an appointment next week (I can't believe I'm already on the "every two week" schedule) so I'll find out for sure then. In the meantime, I'll just focus on my healthy eating and exercise habits.

The Definition of Failure

I failed the 1 hour glucose test. I'm so disappointed. I didn't have any issues with the first two babies. It's weird how things can be so different with each pregnancy. I know I have a few of the risk factors, including the last baby being large and my ethnicity. I'm frustrated that I now have to go in for the 3 hour test. The midwife said, "Look at it as a mini vacation!" Really? Are you kidding me? It's a hassle to try to find someone who can watch my kids for four hours - the three hours I have to sit there, the 15 minutes total before and afterward of paperwork and bloodwork, and the travel time to and from the lab. Most people are at work during the day. I have a small handful of folks I can ask to take four hours out of their day with their kids to watch mine. In addition, I have a special scrapbooking event coming up this weekend and I was looking forward to enjoying lots of goodies while scrapping. Now I feel like I can't eat anything special during my scraptime.

Well, the good news is that it has not been confirmed that I HAVE gestational diabetes. The three hour test will determine that. But in preparation, I've done some research on ways to avoid or prevent gestational diabetes. It seems to be quite a controversial subject and many articles stated that there is no way to prevent it, only management and treatment once it's diagnosed. I have never agreed with that mindset. I always think prevention is better than treatment.

Disclaimer: I'm no doctor and this is not medical advice. Just a few things I found around the web that I plan to incorporate into my day! Please seek the professional advice of your doctor.

One of the MOST important things I can do to possibly prevent gestational diabetes is to exercise regularly. Twenty minutes to half an hour a day or even every other day is not that much. A short daily walk with the kids should take care of that.

The second most important thing to do is to change my diet. I already began watching what I ate once I found out I was pregnant - though certainly in a much more relaxed manner than with the first. I was religiously following the Bradley diet with the first child - and using it as a strong guide with the second child. Anyway, it seems that the difference when focusing on preventing gestational diabetes is the timing, pattern and food combinations. I need to break up my food intake into smaller portions and spread them out throughout the day, and take in protein with carbs. This provides a more consistent amount of energy so my system will not be overloaded to respond to strong swings of blood sugar highs and lows.

Here are my new nutrition guidelines
  • Eat like a bird in the morning: Make breakfasts very small and conservative, and be sure to have protein
  • Eat like a cow throughout the day: Graze on smaller meals and snacks, but eat more frequently
  • Be even and consistent: Never skip meals or go for a long time without eating (I am notorious for missing breakfast - it just gets so busy around here)
  • Did I mention protein?: Eat protein every 3 hours, and always eat protein with carbs
  • No sweets: Eliminate ALL or virtually all sugar during pregnancy (this will be the most difficult for me - especially with the holidays approaching)
  • It's quality that counts: I don't need to worry about eating more, but focus on choosing nutrient-dense foods
  • Where's the fiber?: Cut back and be very cautious with highly refined or simple carbs
  • Watch my load: Limit my carb intake at any one time and know the carb loads of typical foods (I'm sure there's a list somewhere online)
  • My bedtime treat: Help stabilize my nighttime blood sugar with a good snack with protein about half an hour before bed
  • Timing is everything: Make sure my breakfast is 8 to 10 hours after my last snack

First and foremost, I am going to pray about this whole situation. I know that God is in control of all things. I will pray that the 1 hour test was wrong and I will pray that I have the discipline to change my exercise and eating habits regardless of test results. My body is a temple and I am going to incorporate these things into my life in order to be a good steward of the body God has given me. Hopefully by the time I take and get the results of the three hour test, I'll not only be in the clear, but be much healthier, thus turning failure into success!


Testing 1, 2,3

One thing I have never liked too much about being pregnant is taking tests. I am not fond of pain and certainly don't like watching containers of blood being taken from me. However, hubby and I also want healthy babies, so we've always agreed to most of the testing that the doctors and midwives have suggested - with the exception of the genetic tests that determine any possible birth defects. We feel that the results of those tests would not change anything for us, as God would never put anything on us that we cannot bear, so whatever is in store for us is for us.

Well, today I was supposed to take a 1 hour glucose test. This is a test to determine whether or not I have gestational diabetes. If one fails the 1 hour test, they then have to take a 3 hour glucose test. I have already taken the 1 hour test earlier in this pregnancy because my chart is flagged due to the Little Guy being a really big guy upon birth. He was 9 pounds 4 ounces at birth and 10 pounds 4 ounces by the time he left the hospital a week later (we spent a little extra time there for silly reasons I won't go into but would probably make a good malpractice suit if we were into suing people). Anyway, I was all set to take this test when I remembered that the midwife instructed me to not eat anything sweet the day before. Well, yesterday we had to go to a birthday party and I think it would have been quite rude of me not to eat the cake and ice cream offered to everyone. It was made from scratch for goodness sake!

So I've rescheduled the test for tomorrow. Now I just have to make it through today without eating any sweets. I already gave up my iced pumpkin muffin from Dunkin Donuts - and I was so looking forward to eating it for breakfast. I was going to have a P&J sandwich for lunch, but I worried that the strawberry jelly might be considered a sweet. I ended up simply having peanut butter on whole wheat bread and a glass of milk.

This is a really hard task in our house. I love to bake and we as a family love sweets. Everywhere I turn there are cookies and ice cream and pie. We do try to balance our love of sweets with eating lots of healthy foods. I try to make sure the dinners are nutritious and well balanced. So tonight I'm going to make meatloaf, oven fried red potato wedges and veggies with cheese sauce. Simple, healthy and hopefully not anything to knock tomorrow's test out of whack!

I did spend some time researching the test to see if there are any little "tricks" to make sure I pass it. For example, eating a certain type of food the day before or exercising the morning of or anything so that I don't fail the test and have to take the 3 hour test. But then I decided, why try to fix the test? Wouldn't I rather know if I'm at risk for something that might affect the baby? So I'm going to behave and do as I'm told. I'll eat my dinner, have a snack of toast around 9pm, and then fast until I take the test at 7am tomorrow. Keep me in your prayers for good results!

The Daily Challenge

I get a fun task each day - trying to come up with something for dinner that my children will eat and that hubby and I will enjoy. My daughter is a terribly picky eater. She didn't start out that way - being a healthy breastfed baby and moving on to lovingly homemade babyfood, she ate everything we put in front of her. Then she turned two and apparently decided she had a mind of her own when it came to mealtime. Now my son is a great eater, but also a loyal follower of his big sister. So if Lil' Miss says something is yucky, you can rest assured that the Little Guy will follow suit. If my kids could have their way, they would eat mac-n-cheese (out of the box), grilled cheese sandwiches or peanut butter sandwiches every night.

I spend a great deal of time scouring the internet and and my many cookbooks for recipes I think everyone will enjoy. However, the online recipes that claim, "Your children WILL eat this," are not things I would put on a plate in front of my husband. They are dishes such as tater tots covered with cheese or weiner wraps or slices of bread baked under shredded cheese and milk. And I am most certainly NOT going to cook two separate meals for the kids and the adults.

So almost every evening, I say a little prayer, and proceed to prepare dinner. Each night is hit or miss. Some nights the kids are happy and hubby politely thanks me for dinner (we all know what that means). Some nights hubby raves about the meal and the kids refuse to touch it. And then there is the rare night that everyone actually cleans their plate. Tonight was one such night. I had taken the kids for a walk in the afternoon and was quite exhausted upon our return. I was convinced that there was no way I could cook dinner tonight and called hubby to see if he wanted to pick up some already prepared food from the deli at the grocery store. When I found out that he was no where near ready to leave work, I sat dejected on the couch while the children played. Then common sense kicked in and I realized that we'd spend way more money piecing a prepared meal together than if I just got my butt up and made something - especially knowing that I had plenty of time since hubby was still at his desk.

I pulled some chicken breast tenders out of the freezer and thawed them. I sauted a couple cloves of minced garlic, sliced up the chicken and added that to the pan, cooked it all for 10 minutes then added some soy sauce, brown sugar, ground ginger and chopped veggies. I let that cook for 5 more minutes and then added cornstarch to thicken. I boiled a pot of low mein noodles and served the chicken dish on top of the noodles, topping with crunchy chow mein noodles. It was a tad salty (too much soy sauce) but everyone's plate was clean by the end of dinner, save a stray noodle or mushroom.

There are only a few dishes that turn up successful results (defined by how much food is left on the plate) and I realize that I need to begin keeping track of them. A while ago I started a log of everything I make for dinner, so that I can eventually make a monthly dinner menu. However, the majority of things on the list are meals the kids (or the kid and her devoted apprentice) won't eat. Maybe if I just write down the things that everyone likes, I can ensure that all plates are clean every single night! What a miracle that would be. It would probably take me a year to build a month's worth of dishes liked by all! Oh well, I can dream can't I?


Lions, tigers and bears, oh my

Lil' Miss threw us a curve ball last night. She has suddenly developed a fear of mysterious animals under the bed. I actually think it started the night before, but we didn't quite understand what was going on. Everytime we turned off the lights and closed the door, she began crying for us to come back. The night before, we thought she was just giving us a hard time. Last night, she actually told me that she hears "animal sounds" under the bed after we close the door. I was required to check under the bed with the light on, and then again with the light off. Those safety checks did not make her feel any better. I asked her what kind of animals are under the bed. She told me there were lions under the bed. I patiently explained that lions do not live under beds, they live in the jungle. Then she told me maybe it's a bear. I explained that bears cannot fit under her little bed. She then asks, "Can jaguars fit under there?" I could see that this conversation could go on for a very long time. I explained to her that no animals can fit under our bed, not even our dog. No animals can get into our house because all the doors are locked.

I thought about telling her that the only person in the room with her (besides her brother who sleeps in the bunk below) is God. But she has not been quite clear on who God is. I think she understands that God made the heavens and the earth and all of us, and controls all things, but she quite often asks what God looks like, where does God live, can we take a plane to visit God, can we spend the night at God's house, you get the picture. I thought that if I mentioned that God is in the room, she might spend the rest of the night looking for a mysterious person instead of mysterious animals. She was already in tears and in an unstable frame of mind.

I did a bit of research after she finally went to sleep. It turns out that a sudden development of nighttime fears is normal for children her age. Here is some of what I discovered:
  • It's fairly common for young children to experience bedtime fears. Their little imaginations are developing like wildfire, and they don't have the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality. In her mind, there really IS an animal under the bed.
  • She could simply be going through a "scared of the dark" phase, and she will outgrow it in time.
  • She might be reacting to some kind of stress in her environment. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there are upcoming changes in her life that could be stressful to her.
  • Ask her if she's been feeling worried or scared about anything lately. We could encourage her to draw some pictures of anything that's been bothering her.
  • Make sure the night light in their room doesn't cast any scary shadows on the wall.
  • Though she sleeps with several of her dolls, we could also pick out a stuffed animal that can be her special "bedtime friend," providing her with comfort when we're not there.
  • We could pick out some special kids worship songs to play in the little CD player in their room - right now they just listen to lullabies and classical music.
  • Most importantly, remind her that God loves her and promises to always be with us and take care of us. Teach her to pray simple prayers if she wakes up in the night, asking God to help her to not be afraid.


A little anxiety?

Since we found out we were pregnant, we told our children about it. They both seemed very excited, though the Little Guy went through a short period of hitting my belly and saying, "I don't want the baby." That only lasted a few weeks. The older child has been so excited, coming up with names for the baby, preparing a place for the baby to sleep (some blankets and a shoebox - how cute), and kissing my belly. Recently however, she has been acting quite out of character. Lil' Miss has always been a moody one, but it has been off the charts lately. Today, every little thing set her off - either into a screaming fit or a ball of tears. I am thinking that even though she is excited about the new baby, she still has some anxiety about upcoming change. I wonder if she is unsure of what her place will be in the family. Maybe wondering if it will be another brother - she finds the one she has to be a bit overwhelming. Maybe wondering if it is another girl, where does that leave her? I am not sure what to do about this new behavior. Of course, we will still act in the firm way that we do and expect her to be respectful and obedient. However, I feel led to have a heart to heart with her and find out how she truly feels about the coming baby. I don't know how realistic it is to have such a conversation with a young child, but hopefully I can alleviate some of her anxiety. I also will make an extra effort to spend more one on one time with her. As I've posted before, time is hard to come by - I am still as exhausted as I was in the first trimester, but making sure my little girl is emotionally okay must take precedence over sleep for a little while.


How hard can it be?

I recently inherited a very old serger. So old that the manufacturing company doesn't even exist anymore (at least I haven't been able to find it as of yet - and I've been searching for at least a month). I'm a pretty confident person and thought, I can figure out how to use this thing. I mean, I can sew, so I'm sure I can serge. Well, those little machines are apparently a whole different species than a sewing machine! Just trying to work out the threading alone (upper loopers, lower loopers - whoever heard of such things?) was like taking a logic test. I finally thought I had it and oh so proud of myself began serging. You should see the mess it made! The thread got tangled so badly that it jammed up the whole machine. So off I went again in search of some online help. I finally found the blog of someone who has the same exact serger and was able to get a manual from them. Erika uses her serger to make all sorts of beautiful items which she sells in her etsy shop Please take a moment to check it out, as I am so thankful to have found it myself!

Once my manual arrived, I happily took it to my craft room to figure the thing out. I quickly realized that the serger came with several little helpers that I didn't get with my hand me down. Yesterday I headed off to Ms. JoAnn's who was able to help me out with most of it, for a not so small fee. While picking up all of the little screwdrivers, serger tweezers, threaders and other items, I also found a few scrapbooking items for my other passion (I'll blog about that another day!). Though they were having a great sale, a full basket of sewing and scrapbooking goodies is not so cheap. Thank goodness I had a gift card left over from Mother's Day and didn't have to spend a dime!

I was so excited to get home and put all of my purchases to use. Then reality set in. The kids hadn't eaten, clothes that I had folded before I left were mysteriously knocked down off the couch and all over the floor, the kitchen sink was full, and I had a report to be handed in the next morning at work. I thought maybe after all was done, I'd be able to get back to my little project, but who was I kidding? After the kids went to bed and I finished my work, I fell asleep on the couch! Oh well. Hopefully this evening I'll have a bit more energy. Everyone has already had dinner, the kitchen is clean and my wonderful hubby is bathing the kids as I type, so things are looking good so far. Those clothes are still unfolded -- off the floor, but unfolded. Really though, what's more important? Folded clothes or getting a moment to do something I love (or at least I think I will)?


Let's get crafty

I found a great tutorial on how to crochet a drop-stitch scarf. Growing in Grace Magazine (GGM) profiled a woman who created the scarf for her daughter. The woman found the pattern online at, a free online magazine for crochet. The tutorial is posted on the GGM website along with some tips throughout the pattern that helped her make the scarf.

What's even better is that she donated one of her scarves to giveaway at GGM. All I had to do was just leave a comment on my website with my thoughts on fall, announce the giveaway on my blog, and add the icon to my sidebar! How easy is that?!

Not so easy for me. This being only my second blog, it took me a minute to figure out just exactly how to add the icon to my sidebar! But that challenge has been overcome and I can now move on to bigger and better things like crocheting! I just love crafting. I sew, scrapbook, crochet, and anything else crafty I can get my hands on. My only problem is finding time to actually do it. I used to do a lot of my handiwork after the kids went to bed, but now I'm so tired by that time, I can only dream of it - literally! The good thing about crochet is that you can take it with you anywhere and work on the project whenever you get a spare moment. Though, the last time I tried that I ended up with less than desirable results. I took my little project to my oldest child's soccer practice, and while I was modeling a bit of active participation, my youngest decided it would be fun to unravel my project and trail it all around the field!

Okay, I'm off to find my stash of ribbon yarn!


It's finally here!

Well, I've finally got this thing started. I've been reading blogs forever and thinking of starting one of my own, but just never got around to it. It's about time too, as the days here are getting shorter and colder and a new baby is well on the way! I'm looking forward to documenting this journey of mothering, homeschooling, expecting and just living!

I spent quite a bit of time researching blogs before actually starting one. My concerns were mostly regarding safety for my family. In this day and age of identity theft, I wanted to make sure I could blog in a way that would not cause any problems down the road. I tried looking into invisiblog, but was unable to access the website. I checked out Tor, but that seemed a bit beyond my capacity at the moment. Though I'm sure I can easily understand the instructions and all needed to use Tor, I just don't have the time right now to figure it out. My spare time comes mainly after the children are in bed, and that itself is limited because in my pregnant state, by the time the kids are fed, bathed, read to, prayed with and in bed, I'm ready to pass out - especially if I've also attempted something daring like cleaning the kitchen after dinner!

Part of the issue is all that I try to pack into a regular day. For example today, I hosted a playgroup with college friends and their kids - of course cleaning up the entire house beforehand. Well, that's not entirely true, I cleaned the areas I knew they'd see! I prepared snacks and cooked separate lunches for the kids and adults. Afterward I shuttled the kids across town to a music lesson, which I had to actively participate in. When we were done with the lesson I went to another friend's house to pick up new clothes for the kids - new to us at least. Then I hurried home to make dinner, clean up the kitchen, serve dinner, clean up the kitchen again - yes, my kids are still young enough to reduce a sparkling clean kitchen in just minutes to one that looks as if it hasn't been cleaned in days. Then hubby and I launched into the bedtime routine of bathing, dressing, toothburshing, reading, praying and goodnight kisses. A seemingly simple routine, but again, with little ones, easily very stressful and exhausting.

Nevertheless, I look forward to making time to regularly update this blog!