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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Birthday Party for Jesus!

    We I have been so busy lately, I just got laundry folded that has been piled on the couch in my bedroom for almost a week! I noticed I really needed to get on those this morning when I saw Jim walking around in reserves.  It's all my fault. I am way too task-oriented and have always got something going, whether it is in the kitchen or in the craft closet. It would be so much easier to just buy stuff, but it's so much more resourceful and fun to make things yourself. Those things mean more to me anyway. So today, when we got home from playgroup, I made it a point to sit down and fold the laundry {sister on speaker phone the whole time, so I didn't feel like I had to do it by myself} so then I could feel free to tell you all about my wonderful playgroup, how much I appreciate our weekly get-togethers, and the oh so cute ornament we made today!!!
     I have the best playgroup friends mommies have decided playgroup is as much for us as it is for our kids! It has to be, we'd go nutty otherwise! We all have our own little circus, it's great, just set us all up in our own little tents and we could make a fortune!!!! It's a blessing in itself to just know you are not all alone under the Big Top!!!  Today we had our Birthday Party for Jesus!! Jennifer and Kasey made some oh so yummy cupcakes and oreo balls. The other girls and myself provided tons of other food to graze on! We sang Happy Birthday, had the VeggieTales Christmas DVD and the real Christmas story to share...I was working on ornaments, not sure if any of that actually got carried out though, besides the singing, I do remember that! We had 12 kiddos there, making for 20 total, I think. Last week we made the cutest little block ornaments with our kiddos' pics on them. You can see Kasey's here. You can be looking for my post with it's tutorial, but it won't be until after I have given the ones I made to the recipients...can't ruin the delight just yet!
     Today's ornament was a borrowed idea from different preschools who have done this, and here is proof that you can do it with an 8 month old as well! I bought big shatterproof ornaments at Walmart...12/$5, perfect for our group today! I already had all the paint supplies in my craft closet so all else that was needed were the hands and our munchkins provided some perfect ones!

After writing each of their names on one side of the ornament, we painted their hand with white paint and pressed it against the other side of the ornament...Cristina has that pic...I'll post it when it arrives!

Then I added a top hat, face and his buttons all the way down his torso using puff paint. Then I used orange paint for a nose and scarf.

The handprint doesn't have to be perfect, as you can see here by Andrew's....he only has 4 snowmen...the way you accessorize yours will determine how good he looks regardless of the handprint.

Taylor had some good ones! Tie a cute ribbon and add it to your tree!
 Come to think of it, I need to go back and write the year on them.
Thanks girls for such a wonderful time today and for the last year of weekly playgroups! It has been a blast. Can't wait to see what 2010 brings for our Big Tent of circuses!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm grateful for this Inconvenient Perk

     Well, we all know about my love affair with Hobby Lobby. The first dollar I ever make doing somethig productive will go to buying Hobby Lobby Stock!  So, when we moved back to Tupelo, Jim let me get a Hobby Lobby Credit card! WooHoo....For every dollar you spend you get points towards Hobby gift cards. I really like free money, don't you! We aren't into using credit cards or finance charges so if I use this card, I pay it off immediately. I especially use it when I have a huge purchase so I can rack up those points=$$....
     By now you have read my previous post about my shopping escapade sans kids yesterday. {If not, you can read it here} With Jim's permission, I put all my gifts on my card and when I got home, I logged into my account online to pay, with my debit card, what had been posted....we are obsessed with 0 balances too. I paid what was there.
     On to my next purchase...a new phone....Hallelujah!!!! If you have been in a conversation on my phone with me lately, our call was probably interrupted by a very loud buzz, followed by a dropped call. It's no wonder, with the life my Blackberry has deserves a rest, and very very soon. I would  have called for help down between those aisles in Belk yesterday, but I couldn't have called phone was dead! I know, lovely! When my window mysteriously shattered into my lap a few weeks ago, you guessed it, my phone died when I called for help. So I have been scouring the AT&T website for the right phone. I would love love love another Blackberry, but Jim wants me to get an IPhone....he won! Since Tupelo announced it's upcoming upgrade to 3G, it has been more of a reality that everyone has noticed because the IPhones I want have been sold out. But yesterday...during naptime, I found one!!!! Yay!!! Long story short, I ordered it..YAY.....I can freely talk, again...soon!
     In an insomniatic moment early this morning I saw I received an email from AT&T..we can't finish your order until you call us. After 45 I'm not exaggerating....of holding for a rep, they tell me my Hobby Lobby Card was declined!  Errrr....back up.... There's no way, check those numbers again, run it again....No way, I have never ever ever reached it's limit and I know I didn't yesterday. Yep, declined a second time. How embarrassing. I just used my debit card, thinking about all those Hobby Lobby points I was losing....
    A quick call to the issuing bank of my beloved Hobby Lobby card made me love it even more! Because I never use my card, and there were so many purchases {I didn't really think it was that many, but when the rep read them all back to me, I thought...mabye someone did steal my card!} made yesterday, they had put a hold on all purchases with my card...therefore, it was declined. I wanted to scream at first, how inconvenient, but then I realized, how convenient and how thoughtful!!! I've lost my debit cards a many a time and gone immediately to my online account to check transactions, so to have someone do this for me, almost brought a tear to my eye {remember, I'm pregnant, I cry over road kill}  They thought someone had stolen my card! After confirming that I did in fact make the purchases listed, my Hobby Lobby Card was...revived. All is well in the world! But really, how nice. I know it has nothing to do with Hobby Lobby, and everything to do with the issuing bank and Visa, but still, they were looking after me.

I'm 28 and I can't get up...

     Our church had a special at Mother's Day Out today...$12 a is usually 3 times that for my two so I jumped on this special and pulled up at 8:31! Sad, I know. I saved the rest of the boys' Christmas shopping and the gifts that I didn't purchase online, for this day...I thought I'd be so quick without them, like superwoman, breezing in and out of stores, getting what I needed in a snap. By 11 a.m. I realized, I'm no faster without the boys than I am 8 months pregnant. I really could have used that stroller to hold me up a few times too! Then I noticed I had to plan my store visits by the ones that had public restrooms, closest to the entrance. Lovely.
     I was in Belk, asked this older gentleman if he could help me pick a tie for Jim's uncle, he looked at me, then at the older lady who walked up behind me, ignored me, and asked her what he could do for her! Age over beauty for sure!
     Way back in the back I crowched down between the turning displays of Fossil wallets...when I realized, I can't get up. REALLY! I couldn't stand back up. I attempted to pull up on the racks, noticing I weigh A LOT more than 20 wallets. I was going to have to ask the elderly lady on the other side of the rack if I could borrow her cane! Should've just knelt and prayed then, because that WAS my only hope! I found a sturdy rack on the other side and as I wobbled out of the store, I was discouraged. This was supposed to be an easy day for me. I actually felt as pitiful as I looked. However, across the street, as I left Walmart with supplies for a playgroup craft project, two gentlemen hooligans obviously didn't think I looked all that they were whistling at me and asking if my baby was theirs. OH, if I only had a gun, yes, seriously. I had every intention of wanting to call the cops on the creeps and teach them a lesson or two about sexual harrassment, but I was too exhausted and wanted to just get the heck out of there. And btw, the Baconator at Wendy's really is all it's cracked up to be and oh so worth every single calorie!
    1:30 came quick. I missed my two precious boys. And when we got home, I crashed. I had really overdone it. Thank you, Lord, for naptime!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Oat'n'Toffee Grahams, mmm good!

    Once again, Jim came home, ranting and raving about a cookie thing a co-worker, Cherry Sims, had made and brought by for everyone to try. The next day, he came home with a hard copy of the recipe--You have all the stuff to make this, right? {It's like a kid coming home from school handing his mom instructions for a project due the very next day! You stare at it with jaw dropped, thinking, it's Christmas time, sure, I have all this and all the time in the world to do it!} She said it was so easy. So you guessed it, I made them tonight, but not after Jim saing first, "Hey honey, wanna make those cookies of Cherry's tonight? I'll help you!"  Music to my ears, he'll help me. That translates into, I'll stir and do what I'm told!
     Well, they really were easy and made my house smell oh, so sweet!
     The recipe yields 32 bars, I halved it, partly because Jim is the only one eating them, too much chocolate for me, and I don't like almonds, and partly because I didn't want to use an entire bag of chocolate morsals on something I wasn't sure Jim would finish. As always, I've included a play-by-play, except the part where Jim walked away and began doing something else...I reminded him he only had one minute til he had to take them out of the oven! P.S. If you have never gotten in the kitchen with your spouse, lovingly, and made things together, you should, it is so much FUN!!!!!!!!! When we were done, he said, you know, you are one cute pregnant girl...that was his way of telling me thank you....I wasn't lookin' too purty at that time!
Oat'n'Toffee Grahams
12     Whole Graham Crackers
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
2/3 cup butter, melted
1        egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp   vanilla
1        12-oz. pkg. semisweet chocolate pieces
1/2     cup smoke-flavored whole almonds,
          coarsely chopped {I couldn't find smoked, I just used roasted & salted}
      1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 15x10x1-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil beyond edges of pan.
      2. Arrange whole graham crackers in single layer in prepared pan.

     3. In large bowl, combine oats, sugars and flour. Add melted butter, egg, and vanilla; stir until well combined.

        4. Spoon over graham crackers and spread evenly to edges of pan to cover graham crackers.

      5.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until oat mixture bubbles and is lightly browned on top.

     6.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate pieces.

     7.  Return to oven 1 minute. Spread melted chocolate over top to cover.

     8.  Evenly sprinkle with almonds.

     9.  Cool in pan on wire rack.

     10. Use foil to lift from pan. Remove from foil. Cut or break into bars. Makes 32 bars.

     Can I say, YUMMO!!! We broke them into pieces instead of into 16 pieces. They are very rich, but our house smells sooooooo good now! I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

2009 Christmas Tour of Homes!!!

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester
I am so excited about the Nesting Place's Christmas Tour of Homes. I have never done this, but have had soooo much fun anticipating it. You see, I've never been a part of a Tour of Homes of any kind, and the best part of this Tour is that you can only see the stuff I want you to see...not the laundry piled up, dusty baseboards or that my 1 year old just poured a whole cup of water out on the dry clean only rug! If you want to see more homes on the tour, just click the Nester's pic at the top or side of my post! I sure hope you enjoy this as much as I have!!!
If you visited our house, this is what you would see first...

I got these cute trees from a local department store who had used them one Christmas in their shopping mall windows. I always ask stores for pics, posters and props that they use...usually if they put it out back at the dumpster, it's free for the taking! Nothing spells great like FREE!

Everyone on our street is decorating their mailboxes, my neighbor went and got fancy schmancy and went all out with real garland....SO PRETTY so I couldn't resist sharing!

This little decoration can't be replicated, but he sure is cute isnt' he!

This is a Southern Living metal door hanger, I spruced it up a bit. See how I did it {here}

When you walk into our home, our playroom is to the left. We have our Frasier or Douglas Fur tree...can't remeber which, in the front window there. I wanted to update some things this year, but Jim said I had enough, so I just used what I had and brought it up to par!

I love to get ornaments from all the trips we go on. This is one of our favorite places...The Outer Banks of North Carolina!

You had to know we would have plenty of running ornaments!

As you come into the foyer, you are greeted by this pretty little scene.
This box had a really nice gift certificate to a spa in it when I received it a few years ago!

The little figurines are actually ornaments.
As you enter our family room, you can't miss our warm fireplace.

I got these cute stockings at Marvin's Hardware for our very first Christmas in 2005. I have a third that will be Carrie Ann's next Christmas.

I have had this wreath since our first Christmas too. It has looked completely different every Christmas. In our condo back in D.C., we used it as lighting and I changed the decorations and ribbon every season. {I made this bow!}

This plaque is homemade, see how I made it {here}

These little bears, Mr. & Mrs. Claus keep an eye on things!
This little bag looks like it should hold a bunch of toys or a heap of coal, but it is full of pine cones that I've sprinkled with Bath & Body Works scented oil that smells like warm pumpkin pie!

I brought my decorations into my kitchen and dining area.

These wreathes hang on all of our doors and were made from the leftover boughs from the bottom of our Christmas tree. See how I made them {here}
I hope you have enjoyed your tour through my house. Just in case you couldn't smell, I had Oat'n'Toffee Grahams in the oven at the time and they smelled delicious. Check back soon for that post!
Thanks for visiting. Please come again!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Beaded Silverware Gifts-So Easy

     Infarrantly Creative has been doing a Pennywise Series on easy, very inexpensive crafts you can do for Christmas know me, I love a craft! Two of the names I drew for Jim's family this year are his Aunt Frances and his sister Annie. We have at least 9 presents to get for that side of the family so I have been looking for unique gifts that are useful and meaningful and easy on our bank account. We are on a tight budget this Christmas, just like everyone else I'm sure. We have looming delivery, OB and anesthesiologist bills that will be coming up in February and it is our goal to pay our bill in full before I am wheeled out of there!
     I love Infarrantly Creative's Beaded Stamped Silverware. {See the tutorial here} Here in Mississippi these things are pretty pricey if you find them at a street festival, but I was able to create them for less than $7 a set! I have never done anything with beads, metal stamping or wire, so this was a first. I lugged the kids to one of the thrift stores nearby and we couldn't find any suitable silverware so I found these servers at Walmart for $1.50 a piece.

     I didn't think that was a bad price at all!  I looked all over town for a metal stamping set and came up with nothing! But I was able to get a pack of silver initials for $2.50 after the half off discount and two packs of beads 50% off at Hobby Lobby ($2 each) and used my 40% off coupon for my wire ($1.80).

     I put the recipient's initials on each piece so that if they went to a party, they would be recognizable. It also adds a little extra personal touch! This project was so easy. I made 6 pieces during the boys' naptime this afternoon.  I have paired both sets of servers with a sleek serving dish that I found for less than $5 at Walmart for each of them. I hope they love them, because I am very tempted to make myself a set of them!

As if a pregnant Girl wasn't stressed enough, Part 2

     This is the second of two posts {see Part 1 here} regarding a magazine I picked up for FREE at the reception desk of my OBGYN last week. If you don't like soap boxes or get offended easily, the little X is located at the top right corner!
      I never stressed about what bottle to use for my baby when I walked down the Babys R Us aisle with the registry gun or whether or not my child would get a disease from microwaving his milk...however, magazines such as Fit Pregnancy presents Mom & Baby's Fall 2009/Winter 2010 edition, would like you to think about such things and then stress over them, among other things! I just used the bottles that were given to me, they worked for Anastasia, her kids were still living, growing and just fine! I'm pretty sure that my mom never sanitized a thing we owned and I didn't even know what antibacterial was til college.
     My soap box for this part of my series on this magazine comes from one particular 4-page section of the magazine titled: news to use: Your Health-Your Family-Baby Care-Breastfeeding-Style & Stuff. Besides the fact that these excerpts are absurd, I think they tend to make parents stress more about their kids development. I was literally raised on the farm running cows, working in the barn with my daddy and watching Murder She Wrote with my momma at night, can't remember ever owning a single book until the 1st grade and I like to think I turned out just peachy!
     I'll start with their leading news-{TV time won't make your baby smarter} I think we all know this, it's common sense. But the article goes on to say {a study of TV habits from birth to age 2 found that watching the boob tube didn't improve babies' language and visual motor skills, no matter how good the programming} First of all, what in the world is a boob tube? And second, I beg to differ, a little. I used to babysit a little girl who, at 18 months old, could sign every letter of the alphabet, more than 20 animals and count to 20 using sign language that she learned from Baby Signs videos her mother rented from the library. Then it goes on to say {a previous study found that for each hour of TV babies under 16 months watched daily, they learned six to eight fewer words than those who had no screen time at all} Apparently, they have never met Taylor! I'm not defending TV at all...just sayin' is all! But the most absurd comment was {What made the most difference in accelerated learning were the mothers' age, education and household income. This was a predictale finding because older moms and those with more means and schooling tend to interact more with their babies} OH MY WORD.... now stop me if I am wrong here, but is this saying that my child's visual and language skills are affected by my age, education level and the fact my husband isn't a millionaire? Or is it saying that because my sister who only has a high school diploma, became a mother at 18 and whose husband is currently unemployed is going to interact less with her child than does the Master's lobbing, workaholic who brings in 6 figures? I'm just saying...
   Oh ya'll, it just gets better...
    The excerpt on the next page is titled {Fast food negates breast-milk benefits} basically the article reads that fast food is partly to blame for the increase in childhood asthma! Yah, it really says that. It was contributed by Carol Potera, Clinical and Experimental Allergy. Remember that next time you drive through Chik-Fil-A!
     and better...
     This one made Jim's jaw drop-titled Post-Baby Harmony, contributed by the Council of Contemporary Families. It's about how relationships tend to be more rocky after the baby comes...It's a very short excerpt, but the majority of it says this about the lack of happiness between couples {Another contributor to poor marital quality: backsliding into traditional gender roles after baby is born. On a more reassuring note, couples who learned to resolve their differences were happier in their marriages, and their children did better socially and academically} here it comes...OH MY WORD! So, let's see here,  because I have backslidden and take the more traditional role as a MOTHER, the nurturer, nurser--all of the above, and my husband- um let's see, works to support our family, provides a roof over our heads and is the spiritual leader among us, my children are going to lack socially and academically.....All I gotta say is, they've obviously never kept the 3-year old extended session at our church.
    can we say propaganda?....
    This one takes the cake, really! It's the Book Beat. They have reviewed a $27 book, Finding our Tongues: Mothers, Infants and the Origins of Language. It starts out: How moms invented civilization. It says that the baby talk we have with our infants, motherease,  laid the foundation for human development. {Author Dean Falk explains that the need for verbal interaction between mom and baby arose once our ancestors started walking upright and mothers needed to put their babies down as they gathered food. The babies undoubtedly fussed, she writes, "and busy prehistoric moms would have tried to soothe them."} {Without "motherease," Falk contends, "our species' intellectual and artistic talents would not have blossomed."} Fit Pregnancy gave it 5 out of 5 stars. I don't think I even have to say anything about this, it speaks for itself.
    I wanted to throw the magazine when I got to this one at the bottom of that page...
     The American Anthropological Association (say that 3 times fast!) contributed this excerpt titled Why we are so many. Basically it compares us humans to primates, monkeys. Well, their exact words were, {such as chimpanzees}  Basically it is distinguishing the reasons why humans tend to bear more offspring than do nonhuman primates. They bring it all down to the fact that monkeys, if you will, can't trust others to be kind to their babies, like us humans do.....and did you know...that us humans recover more quickly from pregnancy and lactation than do our nonhuman for thought, huh! I'm so glad they could draw this comparison for me, I have been wondering about this for a while now. First of all, I'm not a monkey. I'm a human. A full blooded homosapien...right?
   This last one just adds unnecessary stress...
     The National Literary Trust believes that infants who ride in strollers where they face their caretaker {have a developmental advantage over babies who ride facing forward...they also noted that babies who faced forward seemed to exhibit more stress.} Can you see the trend in these -News to Use- excerpts in the Fit Pregnancy magazine....they want you to believe that because your child sits forward facing he will be more stressed and if they watch more TV than Sally Sue next door then he will be short a few words. And don't you dare take them to McDonald's, or that full year of nursing you did will be down the drain...
    In conclusion...
     You may believe this stuff, but I don't buy a bit of it. It's sad, however, that this magazine was in a stack of free magazines being offered at my OBGYN office. Some poor pregnant girl is going to pick up what she thinks is going to be a great read, encouraging, and helpful, just as I did. Instead she is going to be blasted with constant worries of her weight and body mass index, about the dangers of not choosing the right bottle or not exercising the minute she is wheeled out of the delivery room or that if she lets her child sit forward facing in a stroller or watch too much TV that they won't develop as well as that child who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Or even worse, that if she and her husband take the traditional family approach, letting him be the head and leader of the household, that her soon to be arriving son or daughter will suffer socially and academically.
    Okay, I'm done. I'll get off the soap box, for now....I think a little bit of Jim is rubbing off on me!    

As if a pregnant Girl wasn't stressed enough, Part 1

     This will be the first of two posts regarding a magazine I picked up for FREE at the reception desk of my OBGYN last week. If you don't like soap boxes or get offended easily, the little X is located at the top right corner!
     My computer died today, literally died, so during naptime I overflowed the ol' jacuzzi tub with bubbles and took the plunge with a stack of baby and pregnancy magazines that my OB had stacked up at the cashier's desk last week. I don't get magazine subscriptions, but I'll gladly take a free one! I only got through one magazine because I was so shocked at the audacity of Fit Pregnancy Magazine to think anything they were offering in their publication was FIT...
     As if a pregnant girl wasn't stressed enough, they throw magazines like Fit Pregnancy presents Mom & Baby right at you. We stress enough already as non-pregnant ladies about our looks, size and the daunting number on the scale, we don't need magazines that scream GET YOUR POST BABY BODY BACK on every page while we are growing to be the size of buffaloes! They act like you are supposed to be on the yoga mat and back to your wedding day weight the day you sign your discharge papers from the delivery room. UGH! It just un-nerves me that the media, i.e. Hollywood, can so easily make us believe that we are overweight or unfit if, first of all we eat fast food, eat anything non-organic or don't do pilates or yoga at least 3 times a week....come on...reality people!
    I know what some of you might be thinking...that's easy for her to say, she's skinny and petite, she doesn't have weight issues....Well my dear, my mascara clumps just everyone else's. Size is relative. What is small/skinny to you, isn't what I view as small or skinny. You might think you look fat, but I think you look healthy, happy and beautiful. I stress about my weight and size just as much as the next girl. I currently have pants that range in 4 sizes in my closet and all have been worn in the last year, not including my maternity clothes! Jim and I are very healthy people, he more than me, we exercise regularly, well he does...okay, Jim is a very healthy person. I am forced to watch what I eat. Have you seen my family lately? Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol...this includes all my blood sisters, my biological mother, her mother, her father...all of them...gotta love my gene pool! With this in mind, I eat modestly and stay away from a lot of fried foods. It's very easy for me to gain weight. We don't eat organic, I tend to choose the healthier, least amount of sugar, of the two cereals. We eat ground turkey, mostly because it's way less expensive and if we didn't, we'd eat extra lean ground beef. I stay active, I don't live a sedentary lifestyle, that's impossible with my two little boys.
     My point being, I just don't understand why there needs to be a magazine specifically for staying fit during pregnancy....exercise and eat healthy...isn't that all that is needed? Instead of the constant reminder on every page that we are ballooning as we read each article title, can't it just tell us how beautiful we are, no matter how big our 'cankles' are and regardless of the amount of weight we have gained? How hard would that be?
     In this particular issue, the Fall 2009/Winter 2010 one, I came across one article that I thought might actually be interesting and useful...Milk Mates: Nursing Bras You'll Love to Wear-Really! I browse through them, ah ha, there's one I have, what do they say about it...{Room to Grow-Medela Comfort Maternity Nrusing Bra-Your breasts can swell to pornstar proportions when your milk comes in...} OH MY WORD...My jaw dropped. I read this to Jim this evening and he said, what kind of trash are you reading? Exactly!!! What mother in their right mind wants their breasts, nursing ones at that, to look like a pornstar's...UGH! I mean, as if! I the only person who finds this appalling...Don't you dare compare my chest, what God uses to meet the nutritional needs of my newborn child to a pornstar. Seriously, people think this stuff?
     I don't know, maybe it's my conservatism or just my faith in knowing I have a God who loves me no matter how fit or fat I am, but I find the public obsession with a woman's weight and size absurd. Even at my heaviest weight and plumpest size, I found assurance in Scripture that I am beautifully and wonderfully made. That's when I have felt the best, the skinniest and the most beautiful!
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7