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It's time for my yearly ritual of making a huge list of gifts to make and waiting until the last minute to begin. I know it is so stressful to wait until the last minute but it always seems to work out that way. Even if I start making my gift list in March or June, I can't get myself to actually begin sewing until December! Oh well, here is my list for this year and links to the tutorials I am using to make them!

Checkerboards for the boys

Cloth Napkins and coasters for the grandparents

Felt Foods for the younger kids

Bookmarks for the tweens and a few friends

Shoe bags for my dad

Fabric Hopscotch mat for the girls

Apron and Chef hats for the godkids and a couple of aunts

Fancy rubber gloves for some friends

I can't list what I'm making for hubby and my mom because they occasionally read my blog!

Whatdya think? Will it all get done by December 24?


Look Ma no pineapples!

I ran out of pineapples so I used peaches to make an upside down cake. This was my first time ever using peaches and I think it didn't turn out so bad.


Giveaway Day

We just returned from long trip celebrating Thanksgiving with family. Spending time with family was lovely, traveling was not. We had difficulty getting a cab to bring all five of us to the airport and once there, realized that we left Lil' Miss' violin back at her grandparents' house! We had no time to go back to get it since we were already running late, thus we had to have grandma pay $111 to ship it overnight to our house so she could bring it to her lesson the next morning. No, it did not make it in time for her lesson. Yes, of course we are paying grandma back. After flying we had another two hours to drive before finally making it home. The kids were fussy most of the way and cried themselves to sleep about half an hour before we reached our house.

After all of the stress of traveling, I was grateful that we all made it home safely and found our home as we left it. And this morning, I was even more pleased to wake up and realize that today is GIVEAWAY DAY on Sew,Mama,Sew!'s blog. Sew,Mama,Sew! coordinates one day when everyone with a shop or blog can give something away, spreading the holiday spirit. They list all of the participants on the blog to create a master list, and leave the lists up for several days to give readers a more relaxed browsing experience. They also provide some structure with categories and international shipping info.

Last year I had a lot of fun browsing all of the wonderful blogs and even won a prize! This year I hoped to participate myself by giving away a small handmade item, but with our travel plans having us away for NINE days, there was not an opportunity for me to get anything together before the deadline. Oh well, there is always next year! For now, I'll just enjoy all of the fabulous blogs to check out and maybe win something!


Handmade Holidays III

I can hardly contain myself! Handmade Holidays is here again! This is the third year that Sew Mama Sew is doing this and it's just beyond wonderful. Every day for the month of November there are tutorials of great things you can make as gifts for the holidays. There are projects for every kind of gift recipient - kids, adults, crafters, students, you name it. In addition, there is a giveaway each day, which you can enter just by leaving a comment!

Last year I made several Christmas gifts using ideas I got from Handmade Holidays II. This year my list is hopelessly long. I'm hoping to make things for my nephews, godchildren and my own children, as well as gifts for my parents, grandparents and of course, hubby! However, I don't think I'll ever get started actually making anything because I've been spending so much time looking at all of the fantastic handmade tutorials!

I do hope you get to check it out and add some handmade items to your gift giving this year!


Saving dinner the homemade way

I found two boxes of taco shells in my cabinet and I could not remember exactly when I purchased them. The boxes did not have expiration or best used by dates anywhere on them, but did say the taco shells were in seal fresh packs, so I figured they were probably still good. There was a recipe on the back of the box for Taco Casserole that looked delicious, so I decided it would be dinner. The recipe called for taco sauce, which I did not have on hand, so I found a recipe for homemade taco sauce. It was extremely easy to make and tasted better than taco sauces I've purchased from the store!

The recipe also called for a packet of taco seasoning - another ingredient I did not have. Okay, so I should have gone shopping before deciding on dinner! Once again, I found a recipe for homemade taco seasoning. Very simple to make and tasted just like the premade seasoning packets I've bought in the past. I don't think I'll ever purchase taco sauce or taco seasoning again!

Okay, here is the best part of the story. After I prepared seasoned the cooked ground turkey and got ready to fill the casserole dish with the broken taco shells as directed, I noticed a funny smell. A smell coming from the just opened seal fresh taco pack. I thought I'd better taste a piece of taco shell and it was so NOT fresh! For a moment, I considered calling the poison hotline because I could not get the horrible taste out of my mouth! What's even worse, is that after searching and searching I finally found a production date of...

... 2005!

I threw the shells away, but then had to figure out what to do about dinner. I couldn't just serve a dish full of taco meat. I mixed up a cornbread batter and spread it over the taco seasoned ground turkey (to which I added corn kernels... just because I love corn). I baked everything at 400 for about 20 minutes, sprinkled cheddar cheese on top and had a tasty cornbread taco dinner!

Here are the recipes I used for the homemade sauce and seasoning mix.

Homemade Taco Sauce
1 can (8 ounces) unseasoned tomato sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
hot sauce to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Let set for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.


Results Are In

I'm so proud of myself! I actually made the teething biscuits. I decided not to go with the recipe I posted earlier - I realized that it contains a whole egg and milk, two items which I am not ready to introduce to Lil' Cherub yet. At 9 months old, she has only had egg yolk - and though I know some say it's okay for babies to have whole egg cooked in a recipe, I'd rather just play it safe.
So I found another recipe which contained just four items!
1 cup of flour
1 cup of rice cereal
3 tablespoons of cooking oil
ice water.
I combined the flour and rice cereal, then gradually mixed in the cooking oil. I stirred in the ice water a bit at a time until the dough came away from the sides of the bowl. I rolled it out on a floured surface to the thickness of a cracker and cut it into strips. I baked them on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 10 minutes - or until slightly browned. The recipe made several "crackers."

They are not very pretty, but Lil' Cherub seems to like them okay. If I had to change anything, maybe I would roll them out a bit thicker. They are hard - perfect teething biscuit quality - but also break very easily. That seems somewhat of a contradiction. Well, they snap right into pieces, but the pieces do not disolve very well. So I had to fish several chunks out of her mouth. I think if I made them thicker, they may not break so easily? She might be able to just hold onto them and gum them. I'm still pretty excited to have made them and motivated to try some other recipes!


Something to Sink Her Teeth Into

Lil Cherub has grown the cutest two little teeth. I'm sure she doesn't know what to do with them yet...though she has bitten me a few times already... Anyway, they are a reminder to me that she is growing so quickly! Babbling, crawling, cruising, eating lots of food to keep up with all of the energy she is spending. I made my own babyfood for all three of my little blessings. However, this time around I'm taking on a new challenge! She loves to eat toasted o's and graham crackers, so Ive decided to make my own teething biscuits and crackers . I found several recipes at a website that was a great resource to me with my first two blessings, I hope to try this one out this weekend and post pictures soon!

Baby Teething Crackers

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 cup cornmeal

1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 egg, beaten

2/3 cup milk

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

In food processor or in large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, salt and sugar. Add the egg and mix well. Blend in enough of the milk to form a dough that will hold together in a cohesive ball.

On a floured surface or pastry cloth, roll into a rectangle about 3/8 inch thick. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2 x 3-inch rectangles. Place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Stick each cracker 2 or 3 times with the tines of a fork. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the crackers are thoroughly dry. Cool on a rack. These crackers should be hard. If necessary, put them back in the oven for a few minutes.

Yields 10 to 15 crackers.

Tiny Troubles

I'm so frustrated.

Lil' Miss is in a Suzuki program. They use tiny instruments to teach tiny children how to make beautiful music. We had a rough first year - with Lil' Miss being disagreeable in her private lessons, uncooperative in her group lessons, and downright defiant in our practices at home. We did not want to throw in the towel, thus teaching her to quit, but by the end of the year we had definitely decided that we would NOT register for another year of torture.

Well.... over the summer, her private teacher assured us that Lil' Miss was on the brink of excellence. She apparently has a "natural talent" that is going to "take off at the speed of light" once she gets the attitude stuff under control. I certainly could not see this talent, but then again, I never played the violin. Clarinet from grade school through high school - but never touched a string instrument in my life.

We had a real heart to heart with Lil' Miss - as much as one can have with a five year old. She chose to continue and changed her behavior to show that she was serious. One of her little group classmates even said, "Last year she didn't do anything and now she's doing everything!" He received quite the formidable glare from Lil' Miss.

Today, however, she did not want to practice. She really doesn't want to any day, but will usually comply and then feel good about it in the end. Today she dug her heels in and refused. At every request there was a whine, groan or complaint. "Please fix your bow position." "Whhhhyyyyyy????" "Get your first finger on the A string please." "It iiiiissssss!" "How is your pinky supposed to be on your bow?" "I dooon't knooooow." Most certainly not like it is in the shot I took of her above.

After half an hour of this, I gave up. Asked her to put everything away and I left the room to wash dishes. She happily skippped away, read through a bag of library books and then began playing with her baby sister. I wasn't really mad before, but now I am fuming. She thinks she can get away with not practicing and just go play? But what am I supposed to do? Trudge through the practice while she whines and draws it out for over an hour? Should I forget the whole thing and try tomorrow? Should I save my sanity and just quit altogether?

I finally calmed down, called her back in, and got her to finish the practice. It ended on a good note...but seriously, did it have to be so difficult? I pray daily for guidance with the kids, but maybe I need to begin praying before each practice. Maybe we should start each practice out by praying together! That would not only teach her a valuable lesson about prayer, but also hopefully put us in the right spirit to get through it successfully. took me having to write this long post to figure that out!


Escape Cat

Our cat wants out.

At every opportunity, he escapes out the front, back or garage door. If the door is shut, he smashes his little face against it until the door pops open and quietly slips away. He leisurely sniffs around the porch, taking in the fresh air - until he realizes that he has been spotted. At that point he dashes off the porch into a bush, under the porch or some other place from where he cannot be retrieved. Once in a secure hiding spot, he will not respond to his name, toys, food, bribes or threats and only returns when he feels like it a few hours later.

I think this is all normal behavior for indoor cats, who are naturally outdoor animals. The only problem is that when we adopted him years ago, he was already declawed. This was one of the reasons we chose him, especially since my husband is very attached to his electronic toys and the wires they come with. This makes our cat's little jail break episodes life threatening. He could be attacked by another cat, dog or animal and would have a hard time defending himself.

In addition, I fear he may pick up outdoor "issues" and bring them into our home. Ticks hitching a ride, dirt tracked on the floor where the baby crawls, poison ivy oils on his fur, and who knows what else! Just yesterday he was seen fraternizing with some neighborhood cat. How dare he roll around with some strange cat and then saunter back into our home!

I am not sure how to deal with this problem aside from sending him to live with someone else. Any advice?



I won a wonderful prize from the ABC Toys and Crafts Design Team Blog. I'm so excited. It's a Martha Stewart Punch Around the Page Set - the 3 Dot Scallop edge design. It has edge punches that correspond to matching corner punches. They enable you to punch a continuous border around a page. This comes at such a perfect time because I am gearing up to make Christmas Cards. This set is definitely going to be put to good use. Thank you ABC Toys and Crafts Design Team!


Button Your Books!

Mama Jenn: Kiddos Create Challenge: BUTTONS

I've decided to join in on Mama Jenn's Kiddos Create Weekly Challenge. The idea is to have your kids make something creative out of the theme item for the week. You can also make something with your kids or for your kids. The item this week is ... buttons! After much thought, we decided to make button bookmarks.

First, we cut out rectangles from a box made of thin cardboard. Cereal boxes are the perfect thickness.

The kids then cut tiny pieces of tissue paper of all colors. They used glue to cover the cardboard strips. They then chose several buttons to glue to the top of their strips. Let them dry and voila ... button bookmarks!
The kids had a blast making them and they encourage reading! Thanks for the inspiration Mama Jenn!

Born Again Apple Pie!

I come from a long line of pie makers. Everyone in the family makes pies and I love making pies. I make them so often without following a recipe that it always catches me off guard when someone asks me to teach them how to make a pie. How to make a pie? What do you mean? I don't understand the question... That's the translation of the look that is usually on my face!

Yesterday we had a special guest visiting for dinner and at the last minute I decided to bake an apple pie. I quickly made and rolled out some dough, sliced up some apples, seasoned everything, put it together and threw it in the oven just before our guest arrived. After a lovely dinner I brought out a beautiful sparkling pie (I sprinkle sugar on the crust before baking - hence the sparkles). Imagine my shock, disbelief and horror, when I, the mistress of pies, cut into her perfect pie only to reveal apples floating in brown water! In my haste, I had forgotten to put in a thickener -which is almost always needed for a fruit pie. I usually use cornstarch, but sometimes use tapioca or even flour. Well this pie had none of the above! I was beyond embarrassed - though our guest and my family happily ate the apple soup. The apples were quite tasty and the crust was delicious. I was still very upset.

Sooo... after our guest left and the kids were in bed, I tried a little experiment. The pie was about half gone, but the pie plate was still filled with brown cinnamon flavored water. I stirred some cornstarch into the liquid I could see and just kind of hoped it would work it's way into the part under the crust. I put the pie back into the oven at 350 for 20 minutes or so.


When I took the pie out it had thickened beautifully. It was smooth as can be and oh so tasty! While I saved this pie - or at least half of it, I have definitely learned my lesson - no rushing while making pies anymore.


Chicken in Creamy Tomatillo Sauce

Here is a recipe I created! I was searching online for a recipe using tomatillos, but did not have the complete list of ingredients called for in any of the recipes. So....I made up my own! It turned out fabulous and I will be definitely using it again. Hope you enjoy it!

4 Tomatillos - quartered

1/2 yellow onion - chopped

3 cloves garlic - chopped

1 banana pepper - chopped

1 t fresh basil - chopped

1 t fresh scallion - chopped

1 10.75 oz can cream of mushroom soup

1 T olive oil

1/2 onion sliced

2 chicken breasts

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano

cooked brown rice

1. Blend first six ingredients in food processor.

2. Put mixture in small saucepan and simmer 10 minutes.

3. Add can cream of mushroom soup. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently

4. Cut bone from chicken breast, slice into thin fillets.

5. Brown chicken with onion slices in olive oil on both sides.

6. Add can diced tomatoes to chicken and onions. Simmer 3 minutes.

7. Pour chicken, onions and tomatoes into 9 X 13 casserole dish.

8. Pour tomatillo sauce on top.

9. Bake in oven for 45 minutes.

10. Serve over brown rice.

What Will $200 Buy You?

Who couldn't use $200? Well, here is a chance to win a $200 gift card to Best Buy. Stephanie from a Year of Slow Cooking reviewed a Samsung fridge and got it for FREE. Yes, absolutely hers to keep. Now, if you go to her review site and comment on what appliance would change your life, you can have a chance to win a $200 gift card. You have until November 15 to enter!

Totally Together Reviews: Samsung Stainless Steel French Door Refrigerator Review and $200 Best Buy Gift Card Give-Away


This should be easy... I love tea!

A friend who is a public school teacher received this information from the school nurse. I know there are a ton of tips and advice on how to avoid catching the H1N1 virus, but a couple of these are some I had not heard before. So at the risk of posting something you may already know, I thought I'd share what she sent...

"In a global epidemic of this nature, it's almost impossible to avoid coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is. While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps, not fully highlighted in most official communications, can be practiced:
1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).
2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face unless you want to eat or bathe.
3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine or Hydrogen Peroxide if you don't trust salt).
*H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation.
Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.
4. Similar to 3 above, *clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water, or hydrogen peroxide.
*Not everybody may be comfortable using a Neti Pot to clean nasal cavities, but *blowing the nose softly once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.*
5. *Boost your natural immunity with foods rich in Vitamin C.:
: Red peppers, Papayas, Green peppers, Broccoli, Strawberries, Brussel Sprouts, Citrus fruits (oranges, grape fruit, etc.), Kiwi Fruit, Tomato Soup, Kellogg's Product 19 cereal, General Mill's Whole Grain Total cereal, Cantaloupe, Mangos, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Cranberries
(make up some homemade cranberry sauce with a bag of fresh cranberries, a little brown sugar, orange juice and grated orange rind yum!)
*If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.
6. *Drink warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc). *Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. Proliferating viruses are washed from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm."

Focusing on trying to prevent the proliferation of the H1N1 virus makes sense because it is almost impossible to prevent germs from entering the mouth and nose. Those germs and viruses can either lay dormant for awhile or multiply and strengthen.
Since the mouth and nose are the main entrance into our body, it is important to practice daily steps of keeping these openings clean and strong. You can be healthy and feel fine without realizing that various germs/viruses, such as H1N1, can be present in the body via the nose and mouth without realizing. It is all about prevention rather than acting when you feel sick.



Just as a fluke I planted corn this year. I never actually thought it would grow... at least not into anything useful. But look! Here they are! Little tiny ears of corn. I have been told that they need to grow much bigger, but I'm so proud of my little garden!


Happy Birthday Pepper

Our puppy turned 1 sometime this month. We are not sure of her exact birthdate because she is a rescue dog. She was adopted from a wonderful place called Ozark Mutts and Stuff.

Pepper was dumped on a country road with her three litter mates even before their eyes were open. The four pups arrived at the rescue when they were five weeks old. They all were healthy and happy for a couple of weeks then two of the pups came down with a respiratory infection and passed away.

The two remaining pups thrived and one was adopted to our family! She came to us spayed and with her first set of shots. She was the happiest little dog I'd seen - though I bet any dog would be happy to finally be home after a three day road trip in a cage on an RV with 65 other dogs!

Pepper is great with the kids, albeit a little overly energetic. She is best friends with the cat. They play together every evening. She is housebroken and listens to most commands, at least for a few seconds. Sounds perfect right? Wrong!

I have never been a dog person. Hubby is the dog lover - I am the cat lover. How we ended up together is a good example of God's funny sense of humor! What I am is a puppy person. The thing with puppies is that they grow into dogs. This puppy happens to be growing into a very large dog! I seem to find her every move annoying. I think she senses this because she stares at me for disturbingly long periods of time, as if to say, "I'm going to MAKE you like me!"

Well, I hear her loud and clear. I found out we were pregnant just before she arrived and may have been a tad moody for nine months... and tired for the last two months! I do love her because she is a part of our family. I am hoping that with the spring weather, and a bit more sleep as the baby grows, I'll be able to take the kids and the dog out more. A little sunshine and fresh air might stir up some affection and be a good bonding experience for us!


Organic on a budget‏

I love organic food. Serving it to my family makes me feel like I am doing one of the healthiest things I can for them. Unfortunately it is becoming more and more difficult for me to make the choice between buying organic and saving money. I read an article today explaining that if you have to tighten the food budget, you can at least be a smart buyer and make choices about which organic selections are most important to buy. The article explained that some foods have higher concentrations of pesticides than others.

The following foods contain higher levels of pesticides:
Bell peppers
Imported grapes

The following "Clean 15" foods contain lower levels of pesticides:
Sweet corn
Sweet peas
Sweet potatoes

This makes me feel better about not buying everything organic all the time. Another thing that I have done is to look for organic food in some of the discount grocery stores in our area. For example, we have a Price Rite in our town. They sell Stonyfield Organic Milk for more than a dollar less than the local Stop and Shop. The same exact brand and a whole dollar difference! Our kids are getting bigger and drinking more milk than they ever did, so this helps a lot.

I also can't wait for the local farmers markets to open. Apparently it is a 3 year process for produce to be "certified" organic, but at least I can ask the sellers exactly how their food is grown. And it's nice to meet the folks who actually grow the food we are eating!

Think Spring!

I can't believe our firstborn will be five years old soon! In honor of this milestone, we are throwing her a spring/garden party! We initially wanted to have an easy, all inclusive party at a restaurant, kids museum or some other place, but realized we have too many friends to keep within the 10 kid max, and we certainly weren't paying $10 for each additional kid! Sooo...we are having a house full of kids here in less than two weeks! I decided to go with a spring theme. Lil' Miss likes flowers and boys like bugs - everyone will feel included and have a great time.

Of course the invitations are handmade because I wouldn't have anything less mailed from this postal address! They are very detailed and still in the process of being made. I used my Cricut (my absolute favorite scrapbooking tool and the best Christmas present EVER from Hubby) to cut out all of the little letters and the grass. Lil' Miss herself punched out all of the hearts to make the flowers and petals. The number fives were created with my Quikutz. The tags were made with the Creative Memories tag maker. They are not attached to the card, but just slipped in behind the grass. The tag in the picture above is blank, but on the others I have written the party details - "Lil' Miss' Birthday" on the front, and the date, time, address and phone number on the back. I'll top each tag off with a little ribbon tied through the hole.

For activities, I am planning on having the kids paint tiny terra cotta pots. They will then fill them with soil and transfer a small flower or plant to their pot. I purchased the pots in packs of 3 from the dollar store. I'll get the flowers/plants in a tray from one of the local home improvement stores. At the dollar store I was also able to find hanging laterns for decorations and craft sticks that we'll use to make markers so the kids know what they're growing. The store also had packs of seeds at 10 for $1! I'm hoping to get back over there to get some tissue paper to make huge tissue paper flowers to put around as decorations, and maybe lots of green construction paper to make "grass" to put around the bottom of the walls.

Finally, my neighbor is making a big flower cake. She bakes the best cakes I've ever tasted! I'll have ice cream with lots of sundae toppings. And for food we'll have pizza for the kids and provide wings and appetizer trays (fruit, veggie, cheese n crackers) for the adults.

Sounds like fun? Spring on over then!!!


Free Scrapbooking Tools!

I just love scrapbooking and I especially love free scrapbooking supplies! Vanilla Joy is giving away four Creative Memories Shape Makers! The prize includes the Tag Maker, the Sweet Heart Maker, the Square Maker, and the Puzzle Maker. If you have ever used Creative Memories scrapbooking tools, you know how great their products are. I have a few shape makers and some other tools and I don't think I could scrap without them! Check out Vanilla Joy for your chance to enter!


No Shots

Well, I was mistaken. Lil' Cherub did NOT get the shots I thought she was scheduled to receive yesterday. She is not due to get them until next month, when she gets 6 vaccines all in one day - a combo shot with 3 vaccines, a combo shot with 2 vaccines and the last vaccine administered orally.

This really threw a monkey wrench in my plans because I was all set to launch full force into our normal activities. We had plans to return to our homeschool co-op, church services, playgroups and our regular visit to the library. However, the doctor told us to hold off on these things for another month since we are still in the middle of cold and flu season. This is really hard to do because I have two other children who cannot stay in the house all day for four more weeks and also because I really dislike staying in the house myself!

Sooo... I went out anyway! This morning we went to our homeschool co-op. I figured, all of the kids would be busy with their activities, it is a large space and I'd be wearing the baby anyway. It worked out just fine. I wore her the entire time and the kids had fun catching up with their friends. While I was there talking to one of the parents about the shot situation, I found out that some of the children in the co-op have never been vaccinated at all. Now I have heard of this, but never met anyone who actually followed through with not vaccinating their children. I had so many questions, How did you find a doctor who agreed to this? Do you worry about the kids getting sick from others? When did you first take them out? What do you do to keep them healthy? I feel like the extra month I have before Lil' Cherub gets her shots gives us a chance to really research this whole vaccinate or don't vaccinate debate. What do you think? I'd love to hear your input on this topic!


Little Things Make a Big Difference

Friday we sang Happy Birthday to our Lil' Cherub! She's getting so big and chubby and starting to interact with everyone more - well, as much as a 4 week old can interact! She makes eye contact and can stay awake for more than 20 minutes without crying!

Our days flip flop between crazy and out of control, to calm and relaxed. I haven't figured out the formula yet. Some days I can't seem to get it together, the kids are wild and full of energy and the baby is out of sorts all day. Those are the times I feel like we'd better just put everyone in daycare or school and go back to work full time! However, I think as we slowly reintroduce various bits of our schedule (homeschool lessons, playgroups, co-op meetings, library time) it helps everyone to settle back into the groove. I always knew it was important for children to have some structure to their days, but I never realized just how significant it really is. Just adding one small regularly scheduled activity makes a big difference in our lives!

Another thing that has really helped me to maintain some sanity is naptime. Little Guy has always taken a nap after lunch. Lil' Miss then practices violin with me and then either gets on the computer, reads books or plays until he wakes. This usually means she's asking me for help with something on the computer, asking me for help with the books or asking me to look at her doll's latest outfit or taste some imaginary meal she's cooked. A couple of weeks ago I decided that she too needs to take a nap so that I can have a moment to myself! After her violin practice, I have her quietly go upstairs and climb into bed (the two are in a bunk bed) without waking her brother. She thinks this is a fun challenge. She eventually falls asleep, at times for nearly two hours! This has been such a blessing because I can get work done, catch up on email, or take a short nap if the baby is sleeping! Now I truly appreciate how precious these little moments of quiet are!

Lil' Cherub gets her first set of shots on Thursday, so hopefully we'll get to attend our co-op meeting on Friday and go to church service on Sunday! Returning to church will really make things feel like normal. As much as it is a challenge getting two kids ready and out the door for church on a Sunday morning, and I can't imagine what it will be like with three - I always feel like something is off when we miss a couple of weeks of service and other church activities. I not only miss the worship and the education components, but the fellowship of our church family. I think this is important for the kids as well. Again, just a small piece of our time - a couple of hours on Sunday, Thursday (Bible Study) and random special events, but a huge impact on our lives!

Now, if I can just find a time to begin blogging regularly again!!!


A Baby Story

It's been a while since I've posted, but for good reason! Our newest family member arrived early Friday morning!!! This time around was almost as exciting as the last time. My water broke at 2:15 in the morning, and though I tried to climb back in the bed and pretend it wasn't happening, the contractions began right away and I had to face reality and wake Hubby up. We both hopped onto our laptops to send quick emails to work and and friends, then gathered the kids up and headed to the car. We tried to keep the kids asleep by not putting their coats on and wrapping them in blankets instead, but the cold woke them up. We drove to my parents, dropped the kids off and sped off to the hospital. By the time we checked in, it was 3:45am. I was 7cm dialated upon check in, and within half an hour was 10, pushed once for the head, a second time for the rest of the body and praise God, we had our second daughter!

She was 8lbs 8oz and 22 inches long. Beautiful and chubby with a nice loud cry. She got 9 and 10 on her agpar. The first 12 hours were fantastic, then things took a sudden turn. Her temperature, heartrate and respiratory rate went up, while her routine bloodwork came back with a shifted white blood cell count. I was GBS positive but did not arrive at the hospital in time to get a full dose of antibiotics. You need to be there for at least 4 hours. I only got one dose of penicillan. Because of this red flag in our chart and the sudden show of symptoms, the doctors became concerned that she might have possible infection. The medical team made the decision to discharge her from the nursery and admit her to the NICU. As upsetting as this was to Hubby and I, especially since it was almost an exact repeat of what happened with the Little Guy, I understood the logic of airing on the side of caution rather than the, "let's wait and see what happens" approach. I did not want to unknowingly take a sick baby home and end up in the ER a few days later under dire circumstances.

Once she was in the NICU, some of her vitals stabilized, but her blood cell count was still off. They put her on two antibiotics and monitored her. They performed a spinal tap and ran lots of tests, but everything came back negative. I was allowed to breastfeed, which was comforting for both of us. Hubby stayed two days until my official discharge, after which time he went home to take care of the kids. I took up residence in a rocking chair next to her bed in the NICU for the next five days. A couple of nights I was able to get a room on the NICU floor, and one night ended up sleeping in a meeting room/library. The final two nights the nursing staff agreed that she was healthy enough to room with me. After her last dose of antibiotics she was cleared to go home!

Now we are ALL recovering from the ordeal. The baby is getting used to her very loud and active surroundings. Lil' Miss is head over heals in love with her new sister. The Little Guy is trying to figure out his new role in the family. Hubby and I are learning to function with only a few hours of sleep at night! Soooo.... if my posts are infrequent for a while, it's because we are adjusting to life with three little ones.


Getting Ready

Well, it's getting down to the wire. At our appointment last Thursday the midwife gave a green light for the baby to arrive. Everything is apparently ready (I won't go into a reproductive lesson describing what that means) and it's just a matter of waiting. Her instructions were to "take it easy." I thought that was hilarious, as I have a 2yr old and a 4yr old with me all day, every day! Taking it easy is NOT an option. She then told me to pay attention to any pain I may have. For some reason I don't really feel strong contractions until the very end. I actually slept through the contractions last time and woke up having to push. The Little Guy was almost born in Hubby's car on the way to the hospital. This may seem like a dream come true, but I personally would rather have a bit of time to get prepared. So, I'm doing the next best thing and trying to get everything set well in advance. The kids' suitcases are already packed and at their grandparents' house. My bag is packed as well. Hubby... well, I'm sure he'll just throw something in the car as we rush off!
When the time does come, I'll try to put up a quick post before leaving. Stay tuned!

By the way, I wanted to mention a couple of Blog Candy/Giveaways I won recently!

This is my gift from Trudy at Bits of Wool. The box was FULL of goodies, so much that I couldn't fit them all on the table for the photo. Not in the picture is a huge box of Hickory Farms tea - 96 packets! There is also a beautiful hand stiched embroidery piece and the cutest apron. She made most of the stuff herself.

From Terri at Purple and Paisley I won a wood sign that says YOU SEW GIRL, which goes perfect in my craft room. It came with a flannel pillowcase with the sweetest little elephants on it.


My First Blog Award!!!

I'm so excited! Marie*Jolie from Permission to Unwind awarded me the Lemonade Award for having a blog with Attitude and/or Gratitude. This is my very first blog award! Thanks so much Marie! You really have to check out her blog to see all of the great ideas, tutorials, and tips she has. Plus she's funny as all get out!

Here are the rules for receiving the Lemonade Award:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
3. Link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

Now I get to choose 10 blogs to award! I hope they like lemonade as much as I do! I am nominating the following 10 blogs:

Jenn at Mama Jenn
Tony at Well Watered Woman
Bethany at Happy to be Called Mommy
The busy mom at Green Jello
Jennifer at Life in a Small House
Kelsey at Vanilla Joy
Nanette at Freda's Hive
Terri at Purple and Paisley
Trudy at Bits of Wool
The crafty mom at Bella Dia

Please stop by to check these blogs out - I think they're great!
Thanks again Marie!


Treats for All

I love it when a lesson is easy enough for my two and four year old to complete and actually understand, but engaging enough for older kids as well. The homeschool co-op we participate in (for ages 2 to about 7) had just such an activity for our get together yesterday. It was pajama day, since the kids hadn't seen each other for a while over the holiday break. So they were already in happy, cozy moods being able to run around in their pjs with all of the other kids. After some coloring time, a story telling and two books we had snacks. I was scheduled to provide snack yesterday and I baked dairy free pumpkin muffins (not from the can but from an actual sugar pumpkin) - they were a big hit! The kids all settled down for their activity. Each kid got a large blunt needle with embroidery floss, and the table was filled with several bowls of popcorn, grapes, raisins, dried cranberries, peanuts and cheerios. The kids strung the embroidery floss with the snacks to make a nice little treat to hang from a bush or a tree for the birds and squirrels! My kids had such a great time doing this, they actually sat long enough to almost fill about two feet of embroidery floss. Of course, I ended up finishing the rest while they ran around playing with their buddies. We brought them home and hung them in the front yard in hopes of being able to watch the animals enjoy the treats. However, it either must be too cold outside or too strange looking for them to eat because they haven't touched them yet! I think if I were a squirrel or a bird, I'd love to have some - I was almost ready to eat them while the kids were making them! Well, here are their little gifts to the animals, still hanging from the tree.

I suppose if they haven't been touched by the end of this weekend, we'll move them to another location. The woman leading the activity did say that she noticed the squirrels were the fattest she'd ever seen them at winter time which could mean that we are going to get a lot of snow. Maybe they have already stuffed themselves and are too full to eat our creations!!!


Iced In

We got a huge ice storm today. Schools were closed, Lil' Miss' violin lesson was cancelled and according to the news, the roads were dangerous to travel on. Soooo...we stayed in. I don't think I've mentioned this before, but I get stir crazy when I have to stay in the house all day. Our schedule is set up so that we get out at least once a day. However, I had a feeling we might be stuck in today, so I already had a plan as to how we were going to fill the day so that I wouldn't go too nuts!

I found a great activity on a fantastic blog I follow, Permission to Unwind. We used empty cardboard boxes to make thank you cards for the Christmas gifts the kids received. I cut the cardboard down to small note sizes (smaller than the instructions suggested) and let the kids cut pictures out of magazines to cover one side. The cardboard side is left blank for them to write their thank you notes. I wasn't sure how well this would go over with them, but they sat for over an hour working on the project! The hardest part for me was not "micro-managing" their work. They kept cutting out pictures that were too small to cover the entire box front and wanting to make a more collage type cover. That's okay, except that Lil' Miss' pictures were mostly ads - for cameras, sanitary napkins, detergent - you name it. I couldn't get her to cut out other things. When she would finally find something cute to cover the entire card, she'd decide that she only wanted ONE part of it - like a beautiful image of a group of penguins, and she only wanted the "daddy" penguin. Don't ask how she knew which one was the daddy, but one penguin did NOT cover her card. I finally had to just let it go and let her do her thing.

The Little Guy, on the other hand, was happy to just glue and cut. So he'd cut out a big image, and I'd cut it down to the size of his cards and then let him glue them on. The activity as a whole was great though because it reinforced the idea of recycling (which we discuss a lot in our schooling) and the Little Guy got a chance to practice his cutting and gluing skills.

After that, we made chocolate chip cookies and had lunch with cookies for dessert. Then while the Little Guy took his nap, Lil' Miss and I practiced violin and then got on the computer. Lil' Miss loves Starfall and will practice her letters and beginning reading for as long as I let her, which allows me to catch up on work for my part time job.
Okay, these obviously aren't chocolate chip cookies! The kids made these gingerbread folks a few weeks ago. There was NO WAY I was going to let them eat them with all that candy on them, so they've been sitting around individually wrapped. I finally explained to them that the candy would make holes in their teeth, unwrapped them and arranged them on the counter to take a nice little picture and then threw them all out!

Toward the end of the day though, I began to get anxious about Hubby coming home. I thought maybe I should go out and put some salt down because our driveway was a sheet of ice, but I was worried 1) about falling on the ice, especially with my balance being off with this big belly and 2) having the kids out there falling on the ice since I certainly couldn't leave them inside alone. So poor Hubby had to shovel all of this when he got home, after working all day.

Now, normally after being in the house all day, I would have been cranky by the time Hubby arrived, but I was pleasant and had dinner ready - baked ziti with ground turkey, veggies and extra, extra cheese, and hard dough bread with butter. He went out to finish shoveling (ice is pretty heavy so it took a while) after dinner, so I had the kids clean up the playroom and got them bathed. By the time he came back in they were ready to read bedtime books while I sorted out baby clothes, then we had Bible time and prayer!

All in all, I feel very proud about how I handled the day being trapped in the house! Praise God for giving me patience today! Maybe I can learn to stay in more often - it would certainly save on gas money!



I am slowly getting my footing back from all of the holiday madness. Not madness really, but just lots of work that I suppose I created for myself. It really wouldn't be Christmas to me without all of the baking and cooking and sewing and crafting and company and visiting and giving of handmade gifts! I made a few things that I am quite proud of. I don't know how they'll look online in these photos, but I am sharing anyway!

These are tutus I made from this no sew tutu tutorial. You do have to sew just a bit, for the waist, but the rest was easy. I made one for each of my goddaughters and one for Lil' Miss. It's hard to see how cute, colorful and poofy they are from these photos.

I made a little "scrap pocket" for my mother. I saw a woman at a scrapbooking retreat using one and just fell in love with it. It was so cute and adorned with little buttons. It was also bigger than the one I made for my mother.

The top is filled with fish tank gravel encased in a ziplock bag, surrounded by batting for softness. The gravel keeps the top on the table while the pocket part hangs down off the side of the table and mom can just throw paper scraps in it while she's making cards.

I made a "cobbler cozy" for my father. He loves making peach cobblers and will often make them as gifts for people or bring them to events and gatherings. I thought it would be nice to have something to keep it warm and easy to carry. The outside is a black denim material with black and white gingham lining. You place the casserole dish in the center, the sides come up and snap shut, then you pull the other sides up and hold them together by the handles (made out of pvc pipes - didn't have wood dowels on hand).

Now that all the sewing is done, sort of (I still have a couple of little boys I'd like to make something for), I can get down to the business of nesting! We spent a lot of the holiday break working on the nursery - putting the crib together, sorting through old baby clothes, etc. I have quite a bit of washing to do, especially getting all of the cloth diapers in order. I would REALLY like to try my hand at making some cloth diaper covers with my serger, but I haven't figured out how to use it properly yet. I tried it on one of my Christmas gifts and just made a big mess. If anyone has any tips, I'd really appreciate them!