Monday, July 26

Monday Madness

Miscellany Monday is great because I have lots of pics I love but can't seem to make into an entire post!  Here are some recent random faves:

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

~ Tom:"Why is it, when I say, 'Oh my goodness!'  you say, 'Hold on, let me grab the camera!!'"

~ Nattie is keeping up with the older girls pretty well this summer, much to Hannah's dismay.  She gets frustrated that Nattie is into all her stuff, literally :) 

~ Linsey came bursting into the kitchen last night around dinnertime, reeking of perfume:  "Mom, don't put perfume on your tongue - it tastes bad and it will burn your tongue!  (looks around nervously) ...I just heard that somewhere." She passed my breathalizer test, but I'm still doubtful...

~  Hannah can't even manage to sit in her chair for a meal, much less stay in bed the entire evening.  We often find her like this as we're headed to bed, in the room I just picked up:

However, I finally found a way to contain her!  We're travelling soon, I hope to find one of these that will fit on the plane...

Hope you have a great week!

Saturday, July 24

First Time for Everything

We are having a blast this summer.  Linsey, who is growing up WAY too fast, recently got her hair cut...

And her ears pierced.  She's been psyching herself up for this moment for the past year.  Daddy told her she could do it when she was ready, and last week, she finally decided she was ready.  After she was so brave getting them done, I remarked, "You've had a very grown-up day today, haven't you?"  She replied in a wistful tone, "Yes, and all of them will be grown up now, because I have my ears pierced!"  Hannah is pretty sure she's ready, too, but I'm not convinced just yet...

We also played beauty salon the other day, and I painted Natalie's toes for the first time.  Then I quickly remembered why I don't usually paint baby took SO LONG to get them done because she was wiggling, she grabbed the brush and painted my hand, and I had to hold her till they were dry.  Aren't they cute though?? (Linsey's holding Nattie's feet down, after 5 picture flops)  Men will never understand what we go through to look beautiful...

So that's what summer looks like over here, what are you up to??  We are getting ready for Summer Bible Camp this week, so I probably won't post much.  But lots of great space pictures to come, so stay tuned!!

Wednesday, July 21

Tuesday, July 20

Check It Out!!

I was featured in an interview this week on Open Book Girls (click the link) by a blogger friend named Anne.  She has a great site (and I thought so even before she let me be on it!!)

Open Book Girls

Saturday, July 17

See No Evil

Confession I:  I feel guilty when I let my girls watch television so I can get something done.  Part of me hears Parent magazine in the background, telling me their minds will turn to mush and they'll never graduate kindergarten, much less college.  But when I don't have a break, I feel even worse!  It's a Catch 22. So I usually compromise and let them watch Bible DVD's or educational cartoons, like Diego or Blues Clues or Little Einsteins...surely their IQ will go up instead of down, right?  Here are some of the recent conversations around our house, just judge for yourself:

"Mom, did you know Jonah wasn't the only one in the whale?  There were a whole bunch of people who sang in there with him!"  - Thank you, Veggie Tales!!

"My mother was a caterpillar, my father was a worm, and I'm okay with that now." - Hermie Wormie

Linsey, frantically searching, "Have you seen the box with my voice in it?"  - Think Little Mermaid: she actually sings into this little box, and she cried one day when Nattie ate it.

"My baby!  They've stolen my baby!"  - This is from a Moses cartoon, only Hannah will yell this at the top of her lungs in the store or on the trampoline.

"Look at that flying condor!"  - Diego only rescues exotic animals; he needs to teach about crows.

"Mama, did Jonah really get slapped with fish when he went to Nineveh?" - Again, Veggie Tales

"Aah!  She's gonna EAT ME!"  Hannah running away from her sister - Lion King?

So...not doing so hot in the IQ department, about this time I'm thinking of becoming Amish and teaching them to knit instead of watching mind-mush.  But then Linsey breaks out with things like this:

"I know what mercy is.  It's giving people a second chance.  I learned it on Jonah."

And this morning, she started crying, "Mama, I'm sorry for all the bad things I've done.  I watched a movie where God forgave all the people for all the bad they did, and I want you to forgive me!"

Then again, maybe some movies aren't so bad after all :) 

Confession II: Lol, after that speech about educational TV, I just remembered they're watching Shrek right now!!  Oh well, nobody's perfect, right??

Friday, July 16

New Button

Trying to link up my new button :)

Wednesday, July 14

The Lion's Share

I woke up this morning to this snuggly lion curled up in the crook of my elbow, sound asleep.  I'm not sure how or when she got there. (I must have been really tired!!)  When we finally sat up, Hannah smiled at me.  "Mama," she asked, "Will I turn into a mama like you when I get bigger?"  I thought about the implications of that statement...isn't there a time when we all realize we've turned into our mothers?

I smiled, "Yes, honey.  One day you'll get big and you'll meet a man, like Daddy, who is kind and strong, and you'll get married.  Then one day you'll have kids, and you'll be a mama!" (trying to drill this order into her little mind!)

"I hope Linsey turns into a mama like you too!"  she replied.

She scampered off the bed shortly after our talk, but that thought has stayed with me all morning.  One day, my girls will grow up to become mothers, and my parenting now affects the way they will raise their children.  What an amazing privilege and responsibility that is!

 I have to admit, this idea has affected my actions today.  Getting off the computer while I'm writing this to settle an argument...not losing my temper when Hannah spilled her drink - twice! because of the giant paws on her costume.  Our earlier conversation was a good reminder to me to be a more patient and consistent mom.  Why?  Because I know that one day, this little lion will turn into her mama, and I want her to be glad she did. 

Welcome Wednesday @ Take It From Me

Creating a Masterpiece

Encourage your children to be creative - it's worth the effort, and it usually cleans up pretty fast!

Monday, July 12

I Love Mondays...

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

...because I get to wake up and think about what to post for Miscellany Monday!!  Here are some little known facts about our family:

1} My youngest loves getting dirty.  I love this pic because she is trying to put her hand in the handprint stone made by her sisters last year for Mother's Day.  It just strikes a chord in me, like she's following the marks they leave or something... or maybe, she just likes dirt.

2} I love that my husband always comes running as soon as he hears a crash, a thud, or a "Help me!!"  Always.  I remember being pregnant and getting stuck under the bed while trying to get out the wrapping paper. Prince Charming was right there, pulling me out after he stopped laughing.  Then as I was still getting the hang of nursing, Linsey somehow got all tangled up in my hair, and I shrieked. Again, my knight in shining armor came bursting into the room to my rescue, along with the assistant pastor that he brought home for lunch...yeah. That's another story, with more shrieking involved :)

3} We are having a blast with water!  When it's 105, there's not much else you can do outside.  We have a little inflatable pool, plus we've gotten to swim in the neighborhood pools several times this summer.  Hannah always wants to go swimming, so at least once a day, I hear in a serious voice, "Mama, I'm feeling kinda swimmy-ish.  (She thinks it's a real illness) Can we go to the pool?"

4} In conclusion... 

This summer, I have learned that a lollipop will keep my child quiet for 5-7 minutes.  

 A box of tampons, however, will keep her quiet for half an hour!

Happy Monday!!

Sunday, July 11

Stars in My Eyes

ummm...(sniffle)  I got my first bloggy award this weekend from a blogger friend named Candace, how exciting!  Thanks, Candace!!  It's the Sunshine award, and you're supposed to 1) post it on your blog (I saved the image and uploaded it), and 2) pass it on to 5 people who have brought sunshine into your life by listing them and a link to their blog.  Here are the people in my list, do stop by and check out their cute sunny blogs:

1) Blakley - anythingbutperfect @
2) Ms B -
3) Kelly -
4) Anne -
5) Tanya -

Thanks again, and I hope to be by your blog soon!  Leave me a link if you stop by and I'd love to see what ya'll are up to.

Thursday, July 8

Caught Red-Handed

My girls love to pick flowers, Linsey especially.  I even have a special tiny vase for all the weeds that come into the house.  But this summer, she hasn't had the best of luck in choosing where she should pick them.  My mom has a beautiful garden, and on vacation Linsey got into trouble for picking dozens of heads off my mom's flowers and trying to feed them to a frog. 

Yesterday we were on a walk, and she spotted the flowers planted in front of the police station.  "Can I pick those?" she asked excitedly.

"No!" I replied quickly, "Those are just to look at."

We walked a just a few feet further, and there were wildflowers, still in front of the police station.  "Well, can I pick those?  Plllleeeeaaaassseee?"  I relented, and she squealed.  She proceeded to fill up her pockets with wildflowers.  Just then a police car drove up from behind the building and stopped right by us.  Linsey's eyes got big, she stood up quickly, and in a trembling voice, she whispered, "Is he comin' after us???"  He didn't, but I'm hoping it was a good warning for her!

Wednesday, July 7

Tuesday, July 6

Hospitality 101

A (wo)man that has friends...has to show herself friendly!  And what better way to be friendly than to have people over.  I really think our house has a revolving door - friends are always coming in and out, and we love it!  My daughters love having a hand in cleaning and cooking, they get exposed to tons of exciting people, make new friends, and, of course, they love to show off for their guests.  We recently had a tour group from a college over for a meal.  My 5-year old was less than ecstatic because there were no kids, until she found out they were all college guys.  Then she ran into her room, closed the door, and came out like this ten minutes later:
Seriously, there's no better way to explain what a loving, Christian home should look like than to model it.  A friend asked me to post a few tips about having people over, so here goes (if you're from a recipe hop, the recipe is at the bottom and I won't be offended if you scroll down):

- Clean your house, but don't stress about it.  I try to keep the front room and restroom presentable all the time - okay, most of the time, because we have a lot of impromptu company.  But you don't have to give everyone a walk-through of your house.  Simply close doors to rooms you don't wish people to see.  And don't apologize for not dusting, etc.  This draws unnecessary attention to things most people won't even notice.  They're coming to spend time with you, not interview you for Good Housekeeping. (But if GH is coming over, clean like crazy!!)

- Get yourself ready before putting final touches on the meal.  If people wait a few minutes for dinner, they won't think anything of it.  But if they arrive and you have no make-up or your hair is still in curlers, they'll remember that :)

 - Don't spend all your time in the kitchen.  When your guests arrive, focus on them.  I made this mistake when we first started hosting regular get-togethers.  I love to cook, but I'd spend WAY too much time in the kitchen with these fancy meals (for teens!), and I'd feel uptight until someone paid me due compliments.  How selfish is that?!  Now, I try to serve items that can be warming, simmering, etc., when they arrive, so I can have everything prepared ahead of time. (some ideas below)  Remember, the focus of hospitality is getting to know your guests, and letting them get to know you. 

- Unless you're a gourmet cook, don't feel like you have to fake it.  Just be yourself!  Especially if kids are on the guest list, simple is usually better.  With hospitality so rare these days, you are setting an example for  your guests.  Don't make them feel inadequate to extend an invite to you or anyone else because you went out of your way to show off if that's not you.  I love making foods homemade, but if someone invites me over and serves a box of mac 'n cheese or a frozen lasagna, I'm still just as happy I didn't have to cook. Click here for a great website with easy, inexpensive company recipes.

- You can be frugal and still be hospitable!  When we first got married, everyone who came over was served spaghetti.  Super cheap, and one of the few things I was confident making.  And we ate on our couch, because only 2 people fit around our table.  But those are some of the best memories!  Real friends don't care how extravagant the meal is, or the table settings.  Those can be fun, but don't let that be your focus.  A few ideas for hospitality on a tight budget:

* Dessert and coffee
* Soup/stew and bread
* Chili 'n cornbread
* Baked potato bar
* Nachos and cheese
- For large, informal gatherings, sandwiches are a great option. (Click here for a site with large quantity recipes) Here is a simple crockpot recipe (linking up on Tempt Us Tuesday)for Italian Beef Sandwiches, and they are delicious!  I serve with veggies and dip or a salad, chips, etc.

Italian Beef Sandwiches (serves 10-12 easily)
12 buns, any style

3-4 lb boneless beef roast (I usually use chuck roast)
1 bottle of Italian dressing
1 T. oregano
1 jar pepperoncinis

Combine roast, dressing, and oregano in crockpot and stir to cover roast.  Cook on low 8-10 hours or high 4-6 hours (it will be done when beef shreds with fork).  About 1/2 hour before serving, add 1/2-3/4 c. pepperoncini juice from jarred pepperoncinis, stir, and resume cooking.  This is the key ingredient and totally brings out the flavor!  Shred meat with fork.  You can also add the pepperoncinis into the meat or serve on the side. 

Hospitality, with a little time and effort, is a wonderful tool to build friendships and strengthen bonds.  What are some tips you have for entertaining company?

Monday, July 5

Travelling...with Children!

 We've made several overnight and week-long trips lately, and we are all ready to be home for awhile.  Here are a few mistakes I made, and a couple things I actually had right, in case you find yourself paddling frantically in the same boat:   

1.  Don't make your schedule so packed that you can't afford delays.  Bringing little kids along anywhere will slow you down.  I used to fight this, and I was always late, and grumpy.  Lesson learned:  Better to cushion your time and arrive early than to be flustered and stressed about being late.

2.  Do keep toys, treats and activities to entertain the kiddos in a few key places.  Try to keep a book or toy in the car, plus something in your purse, diaper bag, etc., so you're extra prepared.  The key is to always have one more distraction than you actually need.  I somehow wound up sitting alone with my one year old on a three hour flight recently.  In desperation, I pulled out my cell phone.  Of course, she immediately turned it on, and I just knew we were all going to crash and burn.  I turned it off, and proceeded to eat it.  Lol, thankfully we're still alive, but I learned from my mistake!    


3.  Do pack way more diapers than you'll think you'll ever need. Last time we went to Chicago, we wound up stranded overnight at the airport with a canceled flight.  I was so glad I had packed a ton of diapers!   A stash of tylenol, diaper rash cream, etc., will come in handy too.

4.  Do let your older kiddos help you pack their things.  And let them pick a toy or special outfit to show off on vacation.  This helps them get excited for vacation, and about going to a new place.  Always supervise though- Linsey had 6 pair of pj's and no underwear packed last year, but I managed to catch that one!

5.  Do plan for some physical activity in the midst of travelling, even if it's just pulling over and letting everyone run around for a minute.  This makes a difference for babies too.  They'll be tired in the car, but haven't burned enough energy to go to sleep.  It's worth the five or ten minute stop to have peace in the car!!

6.  Do bring a few familiar items from home.  This is so important, even for babies.  Kids thrive on routine and familiarity.  The toy that hangs from the car seat for babies, a sleeping bag or pillow from home, a few toys - these help kids feel secure and not so "out of their element."  And if your kids sleep with a fan, soft music, or white noise, bringing a portable version is so worth the effort.

7.  Don't expect them to act on vacation the way they normally do at home. My kids aren't perfect, but they know how to sit still, and they usually obey.  Last night, however, after a very long, hot car trip to visit some friends, none of them wanted to do either of those things.  Sitting together in a (quiet) church service because they were terrified of the nursery, I heard whines of, "I need mascara!"  and "I'm thiiirrrsty, mama!"  And Nattie, my screamer, performed right along with her sisters.  So we quickly excused ourselves and found an empty storage room - with an organ I didn't know worked!  Frustrating?  Sure, but in a new place with strange people after a long day, my girls just needed patience and love from their mama.  I'm saving the lecture for tomorrow :)  

8.  Do "bend the rules" a little while you're on vacation.  Isn't that what vacation's for?  If your kiddos are giggling with their cousins when they should be asleep, or if they want a special treat, ask yourself, "Is letting them have/do this really going to matter a year from now?" If not, go ahead!  I guarantee, they will remember in a year what a cool mom they have.

9.  Don't jump right back into your busy life, take a day to recover.   You all need time to put things away, settle down, and just relax.  Whenever possible, give yourself a day before you are needed back at work or before you resume your normal hectic schedule.  Your family will thank you for it!
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