Thursday, July 30, 2009

Eco-Store USA Giveaway!

If you read my post a couple of days ago about my quest to have a chemical free home. You will know why I was very excited when Melissa at Eco Store USA contacted me to ask if I was interested in reviewing their products. I of course jumped on the opportunity and was even more excited when I found out they were going to give me the opportunity to do a giveaway so that one lucky reader will have the opportunity to also try the products.

First, let me tell you just a little bit about the company.
Eco Store USA is an extension of a 20 year old company that makes plant and mineral based Household Cleaning, Baby and Personal Care products that contain No Nasty Chemicals(tm).

They are an e-commerce site that has recently launched at the MEIJER grocery store chain in the Midwest with plans to expand nationally. Yea! So excited about the idea of having more options when shopping for these types of products...

Okay so now on to the products. Melissa sent me two different things..
First let's talk about their All purpose cleaner..

As I've mentioned before, I typically use vinegar and baking soda for most of my cleaning. But, the problem has come when I need something a little stronger for things like the calcium build up that I get in my sinks and toilets. Most cleaners burn my throat.. No, I'm not drinking them... But when there is a strong chemical present, my throat burns, just from the fumes. When I used the spray cleaner. It worked just as well as any other spray cleaner that I've used, without burning my throat. It even took care of the light pink ring in my toilet... Yea! SOLD...

The product that I am most excited to tell you about is the Baby Moisturizer that they sent me.
If you don't know already, you can read about why I am so insistent on using chemical free products on my children HERE.

In the past, when I've used natural products for babies, there have been two things that I haven't been crazy about. One, they often seem "clumpy" and two, they often smell like "dirt". Now, I've still thought that the health benefits outweigh the costs so I've still used these products and with the strong reaction I have to scents, the "dirt" smell was still better than the scratchy eyes and scratchy throat that I get from chemicals and perfumes.

But this stuff is AMAZING!! Is it horrible that I've used more of it on myself than my kids? It is so utterly smooth and it has such a crisp smooth smell that I am in love. I have used it daily as my moisturizer and my skin feels great and has a wonderful glow.. I have to see if I can get this stuff by the crate. It would make awesome baby gifts.

I also plan to try their dishwashing detergents and laundry detergents in the near future..

Okay, okay, on with it... What you really want to know about, is the GIVEAWAY right? Well, Ecostore USA is giving me a 25 dollar gift certificate to give away to some lucky reader. You don't know how bad I wanted to keep this for myself. However, this giveaway is open to anyone in the continental US.

So how to enter: The usual, leave me a comment with your e-mail address..

And for additional entries:

For 5 additional entries, become a follower of my blog so that I can inform you of other great giveaways like this.

For 5 more entries, Go over to Ecostore's BLOG and sign up for their newsletter.

For 5 more entries, tell about my giveaway on your blog..

So, possibility of 16 entries. Yea!

Leave me one comment on what you did and the total numbers of entries you're entitled to and a winner will be chosen at random using on 8/8/09.

Since Ecostore is new to this area, they have been doing a lot of giveaways. I was sad to see that I had missed a chance at a $500 gift card. But, you can add them on Twitter
and Facebook

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ellis Family Update

The girls are at my sister's house right now. This is the first time we've been away from Chloe more than just a few hours and it's the first time since we had Emma six years ago that we've been away from her and it wasn't work related (aside from one night away, less than 24 hours on our 10th anniversary just a couple of months ago). Adam and I have really enjoyed getting to spend some alone time together. Now that Chloe is weaned, I think we'll do this more often, if my mom and sister can handle it. Last Friday, we met my sister and her family at Six Flags and handed the girls off. I have to admit that I've done very well and have enjoyed the break. But, some time yesterday my heart felt a little hole start to creep in and I'm longing for them. We are going to go over for my nieces first birthday tomorrow and I will be anxiously counting the hours until I meet my sister in Montgomery to get my babies. It has been nice to catch up on my blog posts and some things around the house.

I haven't taken many pictures lately. I had to send my camera into Canon for some work. But, I wanted to get caught up with the few things I did get in the last couple of weeks.

My friend Rebecca's little boy stayed with us for a week so their nanny could take a trip to the beach. Chloe just loves Mason and Emma enjoyed him too.

His favorite toy here was the vacuum cleaner. I figured it was good training for the future, just in case Chloe keeps her affections for him :). Emma of course insisted that he played dress up so, here he is as our Dirt Devil King.

I took Mason and the girls to the library because as part of the summer reading program, they were having the "reptile and amphibian guy" do a demonstration. Now if you know me at all. You know I have a tremendous fear of snakes. I get scared of a crayon colored picture of a snake. When I was a child, I took the blankets off my bed every night before I got into bed to make sure there were no snakes. If I see a snake or a snake on TV, I'll have nightmares for days. Some have called this fear irrational. I do not consider a fear of something that is dangerous as irrational. I have many people in my life that have some sort of psychology degree. I DO NOT FEEL THE NEED TO RID MYSELF OF THIS FEAR, IRRATIONAL OR NOT. IF YOU TRY TO PUT ME INTO CONTACT WITH A SNAKE TO TRY TO "HELP" ME. YOU ARE LIKELY TO DIE. IF I DON'T DIE OF A HEART ATTACK FIRST.

But, my sweet little six year old insisted that the reptile and amphibian guy had been to her school and that he only had things like frogs and turtles and alligators. No snakes. Alligators are fine.. I realize that alligators are more dangerous than some snakes. I don't care hence the irrational part. But anyway, due to Emma's description of the show, we sat on the first row.

There were more pictures... Most of them came out clearly because I was shaking so badly.

Did you notice his smirk in the second picture. I'm pretty sure that he sensed my uneasiness. Not that it wasn't obvious. Therefore, he decided to hold each and every snake directly over my head. Something tells me he is single and will remain that way. There was a mom sitting behind me that kept committing on how pretty the snakes were. I thought she was pretty ignorant but that didn't keep me from sitting in her lap by the time the show was over.

Emma is grounded for life. Just kidding... She still insists that she was telling the truth. I feel sure she has a career in politics somewhere in her future.

Alas, on to better things...
We found out about this lake that is only 20 minutes from our house. It has a beach and a few water slides and diving boards and it's only 5 dollars for adults and 3 for children. We were very excited about this discovery.

I wasn't going to post this picture of Adam in all of his white glory but, I'm pretty sure that the girl in the bikini was checking him out and I just couldn't resist. And by the end of the day, he had turned to a nice shade of candy apple red..

Here is a picture of Emma with a friend she made. The kid makes friends everywhere she goes. I only wish I was as social as she.

And last but not least, our trip to Six Flags. These pictures were copied off of facebook from Denise's account. So, sorry about the resolution. I'm quite sure
that she is making me a CD so that I can have higher res. pictures for our family yearbook ;)

I will post the rest when I get them from Aunt Denise.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday's Tips and Tricks-- What Your Child's Teacher Wants You to Know about Kindergarten

My how the summer has flown and how surprised am I that it is already time to start getting Emma ready to go back to school.. sigh... Sending my oldest child to Kindergarten was quite a traumatic experience for me. Instead of re-hashing the emotions, if you feel so inclined, you can read about it HERE. But take my word for it, you would have thought that I was sending my oldest off to college. For those of you that are sending your little one off for the first time this year, let me say that we did survive and it was a wonderful year and Emma grew in beautiful ways. Both, in knowledge and in character. Though I'm going to miss my little delight during the days, and I'm certainly not looking forward to the horrible wake times, this year is sure to be less traumatic. One of the things that helped me survive those first days of Kindergarten was having a sister who is a Kindergarten teacher. Having her reassurance that Emma's teacher wanted her to succeed as much as I and having her share tips with me on how to help Emma succeed helped me to approach the situation with confidence. So, I was very excited when Denise very willingly agreed to do a guest post about the things she wishes the parents of her students knew about Kindergarten.. And so without further delay, I'll stop rambling on and let you hear from the expert...

When Dana first asked me to do a guest post about kindergarten for her blog, I asked myself what I would most want my kindergartener’s parents to know BEFORE their students enter my classroom. I decided there are a few things for which I would love parents to prepare both themselves and their little ones. So here goes….. Lessons I would love to give first time kindergarten parents:

First- We teach because we love children. We want your children to do their very best. Kindergarten is the foundation on which your child will build a lifetime of education, so when we tell you that your child needs to do this or that, it is generally because we love them-- just as you punish them and discipline them because you love them, we do the same. So please don’t ever think that a kindergarten teacher has “it in” for your child….your child becomes ours too and that is why we do what we do!

Having said that, I would love to give you some practical things to think about as you get your little one ready to begin their educational journey:

1. Overalls are so cute on young children but have you ever tried to buckle fifteen pairs after a bathroom break and still make it to the lunchroom on time? Please save those for the weekend. Your child’s teacher will really appreciate it.

2. Either teach your child to tie shoes or buy buckles, Velcro or slip-ons. Double knots do not last all day and shoes generally come off at nap time. This is also a time that your child’s teacher will thank you when she is not tying shoes allllll day!

3. Take your little boys to a public restroom before school starts and make sure that they know what a urinal is. Also, make sure that they know that their pants should be pulled all the way up before they approach the restroom door.

4. Practice makes perfect… practice opening chip bags, putting straws in drink boxes, and opening pudding cups. Your student will feel so powerful at lunch and snack.

5. Let your child dress themselves. I know that you feel the need to help them but they can learn how to put on their coat, sweater or jacket. I promise. Again a powerful experience for them!

6. Flip flops! Oh, flip flops! Another clothing item that is best left for the weekend. Even if they can keep them on their feet while walking down the hall in a line, flip flops become very distracting during large group rug time when they easily slip off to become toys or weapons.

7. Your child will be using scissors, pencils, glue, crayons, markers, and paper. It will be beneficial if they have experienced these supplies before entering the classroom. They will thank you for it later when they can cut and color in a straight line.

8. Finally, READ, READ, READ! Read to your child! Read with your child! Read in front of your child! Talk to your child about what they read! Talk to your child about what you read! You are your child’s first teacher! They will treasure what you treasure. Make reading and learning one of those things!

I will close just by saying that I absolutely love, love, love being a kindergarten teacher. I have met very few kindergarten teachers who do not feel the same. When your child walks into our kindergarten classroom for the first time, they become someone else’s child too! For all parents out there, I want to thank you for sharing your children with us. To date, I have one biological child and 72 that I have because God gave me the honor of being the one to help them begin their educational journey. I look forward to each school year as much as my incoming students. I look forward to adding 20 more to my family this year and I hope that each of you will have a wonderful experience this coming year!

Remember that knowledge is the only thing that no one can take from you! If you want to leave your children with a truly worthwhile gift…..give them knowledge!

There are a couple of other items I remember Denise sharing with me through the year. So, I'm going to add those here:

1. If you have a little girl that wears dresses, put shorts under them.. Do I really need to explain further?

2. The overalls, same thing applies to jewelry and hair barrettes. Try to put things on your kids that will stay on them. It interrupts valuable teaching time for the teacher to have to try to keep up with those items.

3. When your child gets in trouble, try to keep in mind that the teacher is trying to train them for the future. And, it is very difficult for a teacher to teach while someone is misbehaving. It is difficult for any parent to hear that their child has done something wrong (I have a lot of experience with this). I'm not saying that there is never a time to stand in your child's defense but, for the most part, if you place blame on the teacher, you're teaching your child to place blame also instead of taking responsibility for their actions. Emma was one of the few kids in her class that got a medal for "star behavior". I feel strongly the reason for that was because she didn't have "star behavior" in preschool and her teacher lovingly disciplined her. Not, because she had it out for her but because she believed in her. I'm so thankful that she saw some things about Emma that as parents, we were too biased to see.

4. Oh and an important one: When you send money to school for different things, ice cream, lunch, bookfair, whatever. The teacher does not have a cash register in her classroom nor the ability to make change. Either have exact change or write a check for the exact amount. Put the money for each individual purpose in individual envelopes with the purpose of the money and any other information that your child's school requires clearly stated on the envelope (name, class number etc).

I know that there are other teachers and parents with experience in this area that sometimes read here. If you have tips that can be added here, please, please, share with us!



Monday, July 27, 2009

Manic Monday-- Free Coffee at McDonalds

I didn't browse around for an activity for my kids today because today's activity for my girls is being at Nonna's house which is way more fun than the activities that I supply. And, my activity is playing catchup without having to worry about neglecting my sweet girls. I know, I'm the luckiest girl in the whole USA. It's the first time in six years that we haven't had either teenagers or our own children with us for more than a couple of hours and I must say, Adam and I are really enjoying our second honeymoon. But those of you that are not quite as fortunate to have a safe and fun place to send your kids so that you can get a staycation without your kiddos, McDonald's is giving away free coffee today from 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Find out about that HERE

And if you fit into that category of people desperately needing that cup of coffee, I doubt that you have time to hang out on my blog all day but just in case, I've made up a new definition for "going postal" The post-modern definition is what mommy bloggers do when they have free time without their kiddos. They run to their blog and write posts about all the fleeting thoughts they've had in recent months. So, if you do so dare, continue on but I must warn you, there are a few soapboxes I've climbed up on.. So, read at your own risk!


Sunday, July 26, 2009

So what if I'm a tree hugging hippie..

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about my experience with Endometriosis. When she asked why I had never before, given her this information, the only thing I could reply was... fear.. Fear that I will be not taken seriously because I will be seen as a tree hugging hippie. And if the truth be known, a tree hugging hippie would not be the worst thing that I could be mistaken for. But, just to head off any misconceptions.. I will start by saying.. I believe in the use of antibiotics... as a last resort. I am a fan of my friend the epidural. A BIG FAN! I use cold medicine.. in moderation. I felt guilty about my ton (literal ton as in 2,000 pounds) in diaper waste that I created with each of my children. I didn't feel like cloth diapering was a realistic option since we were always on the go with Adam being a youth minister so for a while, I used recyclable diapers. It eventually became too much of a burden on our budget so I decided to make changes where it was less costly. I would like to buy all organic food but, it is not something that I can afford to do at this point in my life so I pick and choose the things that I think are most important. But, it is a personal conviction of mine that I find some sort of balance between taking care of my family's health, making wise spending decisions and taking care of God's creation that He loves so much. And yes, in my eyes, that means conserving. And why we're at it.. If you just called me a liberal... Can you please explain to me how CONSERVING can be anything but being CONSERVATIVE? I really don't care for the assumption that I'm politically liberal because I care about the environment and btw, if you look up the word "liberal" in the dictionary, you will find that using it in that way is a severe misuse of the word, thank you very much. And if you do want to know my views on politics...THEY STINK and are most often twisted around someone's pocketbook.

So, off my soapbox and back to the experience..
If you've been here before, you've no doubt heard me mention my quest to have a chemical free home. It is not possible for me to totally explain what started me down this path but, it began with the desire to not just treat the symptoms of the cause of the Endometriosis that I had been diagnosed with that doctors said had most likely left me infertile (read that story HERE) but, to discover the cause of the Endometriosis. In my research, I discovered that the occurrences of Endometriosis has risen by 50% in the last 25 years. Because of a book I read, "What your Doctor May Not Tell You about Pre-menopause", I became pretty convinced that this rise was due to hormone imbalances due to exposure of chemicals that women have encountered through what we breathe, eat, and absorb through our skin. Yes, that was the shocker to me that chemicals could be ingested through my skin. If you are having trouble sleeping, if you are suddenly having skin problems, if you have painful periods, if you're periods are irregular, if you are having serious problems with PMS, or any other issues that could be hormone related., I highly recommend this book. It answered so many questions about what was going on with my body. Anyway, to make a long story short, after following the recommendations that Dr. John Lee gave in this book, I have two healthy children and very regular, pain free cycles, something that had never happened prior to obtaining this information. Not only did I become convinced that these hormone imbalances were the cause of female problems but also certain types of cancers.

When I was pregnant with Chloe, I saw a news broadcast about a frightening study that had been done on infants in where it was found that in infants under eight months old that had baby products used on them (lotions, shampoos, etc), those infants had four times the level of chemicals in their blood as the babies who had not had these products used on them. You can read about that HERE. Fortunately, I have a strong
adversion to certain scents and have never used much of these products anyway, but, after hearing this information, I made a concerted effort to buy chemical free products for my children.

So, with that information and so much more, I have decided that my best hope is the to take the information as it comes (as overwhelming as it can be) and do the best I can do. I pick the things that seem the most harmful and do what I can afford. And for the rest, I feed my children lots of foods with nutrients like antioxidants that will hopefully counter the things that I can not remove from their lives. If that makes me a tree hugging hippie, then I stand guilty.. But before you judge or criticize, please keep in mind that I and other moms like me are just trying to do the best we can to take the best possible care of our families.


This weeks deals and coupon match ups

Edit: July 27, 2009: At last, Southeast Kroger's deals and matchups and also, there has been an interesting free or really cheap forum that might be helpful.

This weeks penny item is Publix jumbo franks



Rite Aid

And for others that I know out of our area..

Food World

Kroger Texas Region


Winn Dixie

Let me know if there is another store you'd like to see added. If I can find it, I'll post it.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Coupons coming out in Sunday's paper

Click on the link to see the coupons that will be in the paper tomorrow, Sunday July 26 The listing is from someone in Virginia but I usually get the same ones in my paper.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

CVS 101

If you want to jump on board the coupon wagon, you have to know about CVS. CVS is where the best deals are had. Since the first of the year, I have saved $1056 at CVS with only spending around $60. And, I am just a casual couponer. There are others way more serious about it than I.

The coming week would would be a great week to get started with CVS Extra Bucks deals. They are having a sale on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday only that has many school supply items that will be free with Extra Bucks. You can find the deals starting tomorrow by clicking HERE.

Here is an example of one of this weeks deals.

My goal here is to give you a brief overview on how to get started without overloading you. We shall see! It does become quite overwhelming .

First, get your CVS ExtraCare card.

You can sign up online but, you'll have to wait to get your card through the mail. If you want to start with this weeks deals, just go in the store, tell the cashier that you want to sign up for an Extra Care Card. It will only take a few minutes and your card will be ready to use immediately.

next, earn EB (Extrabucks)

How do I earn Extra Bucks Rewards?

* Earn 2% back with every purchase in-store and online at
* Earn 1 Extra Buck for every 2 prescriptions purchased in-store and
online at

How do I get my Extra Bucks Rewards?

* Every 3 months your Extra Bucks will print on your store register receipt, or
visit to print your Extra Bucks.
* Spend your Extra Bucks at any CVS/pharmacy or online at the next time
you shop!

But, the big savings are found by getting EB trhough the weekly and monthly promotions. You can find the weekly circulars at
EB are earned through promotions, such as “Buy XX, receive $YY in eb.” The EB print at the end of your receipt on the trip that you buy the qualifying items - clip them and keep them as carefully as you would cash.

♥ The required amount to receive the eb is calculated before coupons.
♥ You do not have to buy all the products for that particular promotion in the same transaction or at the same store.
♥ eb coupons can be used to purchase nearly anything in the store. (excluding prescriptions, alcohol, tobacco, and Gift Cards)
♥ you cannot get change back when you spend your eb's. they can be entered as less than their face value (if your cashier knows how), for example if your total comes to $1.97 and you have an eb for $1.99 that you would like to use, and you don't mind losing 2 cents
♥ eb coupons expire 4 weeks from the date they are printed.

You can also get items free by combining coupons with deals.

For Example- Colgate toothpaste is 1.99 with 1.00 EB making it .99 cents. But, by combining that deal with a 1.00 off coupon, the item is free. And occasionally, you will come across a deal where toothpaste is 1.99 with 1.99 EB back and then, use a 1.00 off coupon and this my friend, is what we call a MM (or money maker).

And because of these sort of deals, the following is an overview of CVS' coupon policy.

CVS accepts manufacturer's coupons, including ip (internet printable) coupons. CVS also issues their own store-specific coupons. you can get these by email or printed out at the end of your receipt (these are referred to as CRT's - cash register tape).

Both EB and CRT coupons are linked to your CVS account, which means you cannot use them without the same CVS card that earned them. It used to be that we could share email coupons, but recently that has been changing a bit. It seems most of the item coupons (like $1 off gatorade) can still be used with any extracare card. however the $$/$$ coupons (like $3 off $15 or more purchase) will beep and the cashier will receive a message that the coupon was not issued to your card.

The CVS coupon policy allows for the use of one manufacturer and one CVS coupon on the same item. often a very good deal can be had when you combine a CVS item coupon and/or a manufacturer's coupon on an item that gives back eb's.

Hopefully, this will be enough info to start you off. The best way to really figure the system out is to just try a small purchase.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I'm praying for you Dana. I Can't Imagine What you're Going Through...

Those were the words that came from my Aunt Nancy in an e-mail. I think I heard an audible laugh come from myself when I read those words.. They were written in a response to an update on Chloe's heart condition. What I thought but didn't write back, was that she was the precise person that came to my mind when I thought of the one person I knew that probably did understand what I was going through. And, that my greatest fear was that I would be her, living the life that she has lived but with the inability to live it as gracefully.

I like to think that it was my age and not insensitivity that caused my lack of understanding of the severity of the situation. It never crossed my mind that Christmas was probably much different for her and I wonder now, if she wondered, (still wonders) if every Christmas she enjoys with her son would be the last. Maybe she just never allowed herself to have those thoughts. I'm not sure..

Before I explain myself, I feel the need to express that I am looking at things through an altered lens. My details may be off.. It's information that has been told to me here and there in pieces. None the less, they are the pieces that form the picture in my head. I am the youngest of 15 grandchildren. Ten on my mother's side and five on my dads. The older I get, the more I realize what a different picture that I see as opposed to the picture that my older cousins see. They remember things more clearly than I. They see a younger version of everything.. My cousins disease was old news by the time I was old enough to understand that something wasn't quite right. And honestly, they made it look like it was easy, like it wasn't a big deal.. But as I've faced things with my own children, I've asked more questions, and with every answer, I'm always amazed.

During the two week wait that we had to find out what was going on with Chloe, I thought about them a lot. I thought about the wait that my Aunt Nancy must have endured many years before and of the devastation that she must have experienced when she found out the results and I selfishly thank God that I don't know that devastation first hand because our results turned out much differently.

When my cousin Tony was three months old, he was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. The prognosis was grim. In the beginning, they said that he wouldn't live past six. When he made it past six, they said twelve. I think they eventually stopped giving him a time line and just kept hoping against hopes that he would keep outliving the odds. My aunt and uncle were determined that he would live the most normal life possible. My mother recently told me a story... Tony was a very small child and weak from the disease. But, still, he wanted to play football. My mother said that she was sitting next to my Aunt Nancy at one of Tony's football games, when a much larger kid hit him hard (at least hard in a mothers eyes). My Aunt Nancy scared out of her mind stood up and said, "no, he can't do this. He's too small". My Uncle Gene took her by the hand and sternly told her to sit down, explaining that he COULD do it. And so, she sat there quietly and still. With big tears rolling down her cheeks. I remember them joking about it being time for my uncle to "beat" Tony. I didn't realize then that it was a mode of survival. My uncle had to lay him on his stomach on a regular basis to beat him on the back to loosen the mucus so that he could breath. There were many hospital stays and many medications. They pushed him to eat when he didn't want to because he felt so bad. He trained his lungs so that he could hold his breath the amount of time it took him to swim their swimming pool two and a half times. I walked beside him at a cystic fibrosis walk-a-thon when I was a teenager. I had a hard time keeping up (did I mention I ran track in college?) He beat the odds, all of them. He graduated high school with honors, got a great job, married a wonderful woman that handles his disease like God made her for that, and adopted a beautiful little boy.

As in true character of the disease, Tony's condition has continued to worsen. His hospital stays have become longer and the complications have been greater. He eventually got bad enough to be put on a list for a lung transplant. The condition has to be extremely severe for a person to even be considered for a transplant, for the benefits of the transplant to outweigh the risks of the surgery. That has been a painful process as well. First the decision to have the transplant and then, the wait, and many false calls. When I was visiting my family in Alabama a month or so ago, they had one of those false runs. Tony was number two on the list. The person in front of him needed both lungs and a heart. If the heart wasn't good, Tony would get the lungs so with every donor that came in, they prepped Tony too. Just in case. The false runs were no surprise. They had been warned to expect them. But the surprise came in Tony's reaction to the false runs. I guess it wasn't that much of a surprise to those of us that know him. But there is no doubt in my mind that the nurses who provided his care have seen Jesus. I talked to my uncle after one of those false runs. After they had prepped Tony for surgery, shaving him from chin to toes, on the way back to his room to wait for the verdict, Tony stopped to pray, not for himself. But, for the guy that was number one on the list and for the family of the donor. I'm sure I no longer need to explain to you what a sweet, unselfish soul that lies behind those weak lungs. And I can't begin to explain to you the faith that I have seen their whole family exhibit through the whole ordeal(mom, dad, and sisters too), always thanking God and trusting him while waiting for his perfect timing. They have been through so much. In the middle of all the false runs, my aunt fell while she was at the hospital and broke her shoulder in four places. There have been many more hiccups along the way and still, through all the trials they've faced, they haven't taken their eyes off God. And I have no doubt that lives have been changed because of their influence.

I can think of very few other things that I could be more excited about saying more than: It looks like his perfect time has come. This afternoon, they got another call. With great hopes and guarded hearts, they headed for the hospital one more time. He was prepped once more and waited once more to find out that this time, the lungs are good. As I write this, Tony is a few hours into an eight to ten hour surgery. I don't know how many years it's been since he's breathed a breath without being in pain. But, I know one thing for sure. He will never take for granted an every day blessing that most of us never think twice about.

He still has a long road to recovery ahead of him and our family does covet your prayers tremendously. I will update as soon as we get more news.

And just one more thing.. If you aren't an organ donor, please search your heart and please remember that donated organs are always used to save someone's child.


EDIT: 4:30 a.m. 7/22/09-- The lungs are in and working great. Tony's wife reports already able to see a difference in his color and breathing. Thank you all for your continued prayers!

Update: 12:07 p.m. 7/22/09. Tony has been removed from the ventilator and is breathing on his own! What a blessing! Please continue for his body to accept the transplant.

Tuesday's Tips and Tricks-- Homemade dishwashing detergent and cleaning your washing machine

Lu requested a recipe for detergent for the dishwasher. I found a recipe but have not tried it. (Apparently, it comes from a person named Lorraine, whoever she is, Thanks Lorraine!) Please let us all know how it works if you try it.

Dishwasher soap is easy to make, and cost effective. I mix up a batch in an empty canister, and pour it in the dishwasher as needed.

Mix and use per dishwasher load:
1 Tablespoon Borax
1 Tablespoon Baking soda


Mix equal parts Borax and Baking Soda, and add 2 Tablespoons per load. Increase proportion of soda for hard water. Use vinegar in the rinse cycle.

And my friend Daisy, requested a way to clean her washing machine. You can find directions for that HERE

And my friend Julie had a suggestion for Aprils problem with stains on white counters: Rub a half of a lemon on it. For some abrasiveness, dip the lemon in salt.

Please add any tips or tricks that you might know!



Monday, July 20, 2009


Some of you may be wondering about all the talk about swagbucks. Well, swagbucks is an internet search engine powered by google. As you search, you earn swagbucks which can be traded in for merchandise and giftcards. We have some friends that bought all of their Christmas gifts with Swagbucks last year. So, sign up by clicking HERE It's free!

Click HERE for more information about what swagbucks are and how to earn them.

Manic Monday-- Super Sprinkler.

Keep the kids busy all day by making a sprinkler from a fun noodle.
Brought to you from

Who says pool noodles are only for the pool? We turned one into a super squirter that can be used to launch all sorts of fun and games, such as the High Water Jump shown here.

Start by poking holes in a pool noodle with a large nail. Plug one end of the noodle with a wadded-up plastic shopping bag, then seal that end with duct tape. Insert a garden hose about 4 inches into the other end and secure it with duct tape if needed.

To play, swing the noodle and have your child jump over it, use it for a watery limbo contest, attach it with duct tape to a swing set so that kids can swing through the shower (as shown above), or let your kids come up with their own wet and wacky games.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Coupon Matchups

I searched around through my various coupon sources to find you the easiest to use source for this weeks deals and coupon matchups for the various stores I frequent for huge savings. Last week, I saved $115 dollars at Kroger! Just click on the store and it will link you to that stores deals and the coupons that are currently out to match those deals.

Publix penny item this week is Publix Frosted Flakes



And for my poor mom and sister who don't have a Kroger bless their hearts, here is Food World's deals for the week. They still haven't done coupon matchups but we'll keep our fingers crossed.

Feel free to comment with any questions or e-mail me at I am by no means an expert in this area. Just sharing what I've learned so far.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Family Friday

This Friday, I want to extend outside our immediate family and introduce you to one of my sisters in Christ. Her name is Stephanie. Stephanie is a mother of three children. I met Stephanie here online. She's a friend of a friend.. I keep having to remind myself that we haven't actually met in person. Anyway, Stephanie is an ordinary girl like you and me (unless you're not a girl and then, not so much). She is a mom that tries to squeeze 40 hours out of a 24 hour day, she disciplines, she hugs and kisses and when she lays down at night she prays for her children. And also like most moms, she has the desire to give her children every chance in life. I guess that's why her situation lays heavy on my heart. Her story could easily be my own. Stephanie's daughter Makinna was born with ear deformity called Microtia & Atresia. You can click on the link in my left side bar to get more information. But, the abbreviated version is that she wasn't born with an ear canal on her left side. Makinna is otherwise a very healthy and happy little girl. But, because of the deformity, Makinna doesn't have hearing in that ear. Statistics say that children with this deformity if left untreated, have lower grades in school and ultimately, lower paying jobs as adults. As a mother, I understand the need to do anything that is under my control to put my children on a level playing field. Starting in November, Makinna will undergo three different surgeries to correct this condition..

So how can you help? Well first, something we all can do, pray for the Sherwood family. Trey and Stephanie with Makinna will head out from central Florida and fly to California three different times. There are no doctors experienced at preforming this procedure on this side of the country. They will leave their other two children in someone elses care while they travel. And as always any procedure, life threatening or not, is huge in a mother's eyes. This no doubt will be difficult time for this family. Please pray for peace and for Makinna to respond better than even expected.

And of course, this will be quite an expensive undertaking. The procedures are estimated to cost from 15,000 to 20,000 dollars. Our family knows from personal experience the toll that health care expenses can take on a family. We are so blessed that our church has set us up with a much better plan than we've ever had before but up until this year, we have had only one year that had less than 5000 dollars in medical expenses since 2002. We are so thankful that this is a burden that has been lifted from us. I see this as an opportunity that we can take to thank God for the health that he's blessed our family with and blur those lines between families and be the family that God intended us to be as one. If you feel so inclined, you can click on the picture of Makinna on the side if you would like to donate and help carry this burden of the Sherwood's. Whatever you can do, ever little bit helps. I have also set up a place where you grab a button to share her story on your site. Please join me in loving, supporting, and encouraging this family.

May God bless you so that you can bless those around you.


PS: I will try to do our weekly family update some time this weekend.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Awe Shucks... I've been awarded..

My friend over at hyperactivelu blessed me with two awards yesterday! Thanks Lu! You didn't have too but I'll sure enough take it! And now, it is time for me to bestow the award on five of my blogging friends. Lu would no doubt be included in this list if she hadn't already won the award but none the less, you should check her out. Each of these ladies are creative in their own individual ways but, they have blogs that I make sure I visit as soon as they post something new because I can't wait to see what they have to say or what new thing they are going to to teach me.

Becky at Five Mockingbirds-- Becky is a friend from college. She loves to cook and has lately been showing some neat decorating tips. She is the mother of three so there of course is no shortage of mom talk.

Holly at The Hud-sons and One Pretty Princess -- Holly is a wonderful writer. I always get a few laughs at her blog and usually a few tears too. She is pregnant with her fifth child and that is always fun to watch.

Jay at Janey and Me Happily-- Jay was one of the students that was in our youth ministry when Adam was an intern 11 years ago. She now is one of my best friends. This girl has creativity coming out her ears. She's a photographer, she sews, she decorates and if she hasn't tried it yet, if you challenge her with it, she will.

Stephanie at Stoked to Be Stokes-- another former student turned best friend, she is a first time mom and adjusting to being a stay at home mom. She is another one of those artsy girls that is abundantly blessed with creativity. She also could really use some love and support from some other moms so, you should definitely pay her a visit:).

And last but not least is my friend over at Life's About a Dream -- Incredibly quick witted, I have never come across anyone one else that can say so much in so few words..

And the thing that I love most about all five of these moms is that they are all Christians, you know, the real kind, that admit that this parenting thing can be tough and they're just doing the best that they can to love the one's God's blessed them with.

I love all you girls!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday's tips--How to clean your dishwasher

Per request from Julie over at The Best Times of our Lives, Today I am posting how to clean your dishwasher so that your dishwasher runs most efficiently.

WARNING: As I was researching for the least harmful way to clean your dishwasher, I came across several articles warning against using harsh chemicals in your dishwasher because it can nullify your warranty.

I try to avoide using harsh chemicals anyway, especially when it has to do with something that my family will be putting in their mouths. Dishwashers leave residue behind therefore, I don't want that residue to be chemicals.

I regularly poor vinegar in the bottom of my dishwasher as I'm running a load. This seems to do a pretty good job of keeping it clean. However, every area has different water so I looked around for something a little more heavy duty. I knew that it would involve vinegar because I use vinegar everywhere! The friend that I mentioned above, Julie, started me on using a vinegar glass cleaner several years ago (equal parts vinegar and equal parts water with just a drop or two of dish detergent). I had tried using vinegar and water as a glass cleaner before but the dish soap is the magical ingredient that keeps it from streaking. Every since I discovered that trick, I have been on vinegar frenzy! To find out some of the many other uses for vinegar, click HERE. I very rarely use anything but vinegar or bakingsoda (often the two together) to clean my home. And, if my kids get the bottle and decide to quench their thirst, they probably won't drink much but if they do, it won't hurt them!

And what I really came here to post: How to clean your dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda, brought to you from

I also came across several things saying to clean it with a powdered citrus drink. If you've tried this, I'd love to hear the results.

Cleaning a Dishwasher with Vinegar

Dishwasher Stains. The first step is to remove the racks so that you can see what sort of stains you have. The bottom rack will come out easily, but the top . . . not so much. On my dishwasher, the top rack was locked into aluminum gliding arms. On the end of the arms were two plastic clips that came out with a little dexterous manipulation. Once the clips were removed, the top rack slid right out. Using a flashlight, you will now be able to locate the stains. Most of the grime will be around the drain near the floor.

Disassemble the Dishwasher. On the floor of the dishwasher is the main spray arm. On my dishwasher it was held in place with an easy-to-remove plastic screw. Once I unscrewed it, the whole thing lifted up allowing me to see what was trapped underneath it near the drain. I really didn't expect to find anything in it, but to my surprise I found two pieces of broken glass. I also discovered that a piece of my dishwasher was broken—a small, round plastic seal. Another reason to periodically clean your dishwasher.

Vinegar and Soap. To clean the dishwasher, I decided to use white vinegar, a little soap, a green scrubby, and some elbow grease. I combined a couple cups of vinegar and 6 drops of soap in a bowl. Dipping my green scrubby into the solution, I went to work scrubbing the walls and floor of the dishwasher. The stains disappeared after 10 passes with the scrubby. I thought the floor of the dishwasher looked relatively clean, but after closer inspection, I discovered a thin film of grime was present. The grime came off very easily with a single pass of the scrubby.

Clean the Accessories. Next, you will want to clean the spray arm you removed from the floor of the dishwasher, and make sure nothing is blocking the holes. Sometimes bits of food can get through the filter and lodge themselves in the holes, debilitating the spraying arm. Use the same mixture to remove any build-up of lime scale or stains on the accessories. The racks will probably be more or less clean, but it won't hurt to wash them, too.

Rinse with Water. Once you have finished scrubbing, rinse the stains with a little water to make sure that you got them all. If you manged to get all the stains out, reattach all the components you removed. You will notice that in the bottom of the dishwasher there is a pool of liquid. This is the cleaning solution and water. Don't worry about draining it. You will be getting rid of it in the next step.

Baking Soda. For this article I tried something I had not seen done anywhere else. I realized that the easiest way to rinse everything out of the dishwasher would be to run a quick cycle. But then I thought what if you put ¼ cup of baking soda in the soap dispenser? The baking soda would combine with the vinegar and perhaps further clean the dishwasher. My only concern was that there might be some residue leftover. I tried it with a quick rinse cycle, which is the shortest cycle on my dishwasher. After the cycle finished, the dishwasher was really clean and there wasn't any residue. Make sure to put the baking soda in the open tray and not the closed tray. Quick rinses don't last long enough for the other one to open.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Manic Monday-- Red, Yellow, Black and White..

Perhaps the most treasured gift my daughter ever received was a set of paper dolls given to her on her third birthday by her Aunt Denise. My sister had began working on the multi cultural set when Emma was a small baby. No telling how many hours she spent, cutting, laminating and affixing each and every little piece, to magnet sheets. She is a kindergarten teacher and has so many fun and creative ideas for kids. There are several different dolls of different colors. One with glasses, one with more narrow eyes. Emma spent countless hours changing out outfits, hairstyles and accessories using the hundreds of pieces that my sister had worked on so diligently. And, it provided me a wonderful opportunity to teach her that God makes us all unique each and every one of us and loves us all, just the way we are.

Now had I been left to my own devices, Emma would have no doubt ended up with paper dolls that would have lasted through one or two uses but, with all the hard work that my sister put in them, almost every piece survived her preschool years. They now have a home on a shelf out of reach in our playroom closet, waiting for Chloe to get old enough to somewhat understand their value.

Though I surely can't supply you with the kind of quality paper dolls that my sister supplied us with, I can provide you with the source,The Making Friends website, where she found them. And, if you are in the competition for the title of "Aunt of the Year", these will surely give your running mates a run for their money.

Thanks Aunt Denise for a gift that is priceless. We treasure them.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Family Friday--

I actually don't have a ton of pictures to post.. Adam has been out of town all week so I've been a little oh, frazzled maybe? Wow, I've got to find some single mothers in the area and give them a hand. They totally don't get the credit they deserve. And somewhere during the week, I stopped going crazy and finally got all the way there because I decided to end my already stressful week with a trip to Walmart... I loathe Walmart with a purple passion... When I get in there, I always want to scream: DO YOU PEOPLE SERIOUSLY THINK THAT THIS STORE WOULD BE HERE IF YOU WERE THE ONLY PERSON THAT EXISTED?! And there is room for two buggies to fit down one aisle. If, people would keep their buggy on one side and not in the middle of the aisle while they read the ingredients on the vitamins looking for the magic pill that is going to turn them into Jessica Alba.. Okay, so that was me looking for the pill that would turn me into Jessica Alba.. But at least my buggy was on my side.. And maybe all of us miracle vitamin shoppers should entertain the idea that maybe the thing that will make us thinner is MOVING!

So anyway, I haven't been to Walmart in about three months, because as you can see, I nearly lose my religion every time I go. But, I went today because we don't have any sort of craft store on our side of town and I had seen this nifty idea on one of those oh so talented mom bloggers page where she had turned placemats into throw pillows and I had just happened to have got a fabulous deal on some cute placemats but needed to find some stuffing for them... It looked so super easy and I was so excited about the opportunity to feel like I had some decorator's skills because the truth of it is.. The best I do is trying to keep my house clean. Not because I want A Soft Place to Land like the chic that runs that blog of whom I'm totally envious but, because I don't want to be landing because I tripped over something. So anyway, I went for some stuffing for my pillows that I was going to boost my domesticating ego with and, THEY HAVE GOTTEN RID OF THE CRAFT SECTION! So in light of that news, I say to my friends at Walmart, "Sam Walton would have been so disappointed in you'! And I am for real done with you now because unless you decide to pay me some big bucks to put your banner on my page, I NOW HAVE NO USE FOR YOU! Seriously, you would think that a company that big would do some marketing research to find that they were the only place to get craft supplies within 20 miles. You would also think they'd get on the bandwagon with having buggies that will hold more than one child. Even Lowe's has them! Did I mention that I LOATHE WALMART?

But, I did manage to grab my camera for a few shots this week. All though, I did skip getting pictures of my two girls with their mouths taped shut because I couldn't stand to hear them whine, "but daddy gives me a trick to help me go to sleep when he puts me to bed" one more time. You don't have to wrestle with whether or not you should turn me in for abuse.. I didn't really tape their mouths shut. But, only because I didn't have the idea until now.

But alas, here are the few pictures that I have gotten since I've been back from Alabama..

This first one was taken by Mark Grayson at our churches 4th of July festivities. And this was right before Emma and I lost our balance and my camera lens knocked against the picnic table causing it to snap in half. Thankfully, it wasn't my most expensive camera lens. But it is why all of the rest of the pictures you are going to see are over exposed. I am most partial to my 85mm but, it does such a good job of letting in light (a necessity for good indoor pictures) it isn't a good match for a super sunny day. Actually, taking pictures outside not in shade on a super sunny day isn't a good idea for any camera. But, sometimes, you just can't wait for the sun to go behind a cloud to make memories.

We got to spend some time with Maggie last week while her momma had an appointment. Here is Chloe serving Miss Maggie some tea. I'm not sure Maggie quite got why she was sitting out in the hot sun, parched, drinking something that wasn't actually there but Chloe enjoyed having her as her tea party guest. We did go inside to grab their sippy cups shortly after this picture was taken.

Here is Emma and her friend Avery and Chloe (who wouldn't take her eyes off of Strawberry Shortcake) meeting SS at the summer reading program that our library does.

Avery and Emma making wands to go with their princess dresses.

Okay, here is the part that I am most excited about showing you. Not only am I not much of a decorator, I am also not a gardener. However when my mother-in-law aka: Nana in our home, heard that I had wanted to try to grow some vegetables with the girls, she got me these grow boxes. Since Lynn shares in my gift of having a brown thumb (no, I am not getting myself in trouble. She has a brown thumb by her own admission and she is totally secure in her brown thumb as well as I), and she had gotten vegetables to grow that way, she just knew that I could too. So, we decided to start easy and plant cucumbers and carrots, two of the girls favorites. I didn't have much confidence that anything was going to amount from it. And I had thought we had been successful at growing some weeds but, I became suspicious that we might have a little more than weeds in the carrot box when the cucumber box was making nothing. So, I jumped on the internet and looked up "carrot leaves" and low and behold, I found that we were growing carrots! And for me, one out of two when it comes to gardening, is a huge success!

Cucumber left Carrots right
So the other night, I let Emma pick one and I couldn't believe my eyes but there was a full grown carrot there! I peeled the one carrot and cut it into small pieces to share with some friends we had over and they all declared that it was the best carrot that they had ever tasted. I told Emma that I wanted her to wait to pick the rest until I had my camera ready . So, this afternoon was harvesting time! Except for one carrot that she left to pick with her daddy. So sweet!

And I was about to get a domesticating ego boost because of the carrots and then I recalled something.. Chloe and I had planted the cucumbers, Adam and Emma planted the carrots.. Oh well. Someone else that can do it for me.. EVEN BETTER!!! And besides, they are in my backyard so I'm claiming them!

Adam did make it home safely around 1:30 a.m. He and Emma are watching Narnia since they just finished reading that book together and Chloe is taking a nap and I'm about to go outside and get some sun on my white body! I wish you a happy weekend with lots of family to love!



Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Blessed Lord, take my hand--- and sometimes, Lord, you'll need to drag me..

We had been doing youth ministry for five years when I found out I was pregnant with our oldest, Emma. Even though I had endometriosis and had been told that I probably wouldn't be able to have children, and being a wife and mother had been pretty much my only dream since early childhood, the surprise of this little life growing inside me sent me into a pure panic..

2 Corinthians 12: 9 -10 had long since become the theme scripture for my life..

9.but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10.That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I had fallen head over heals in love with a youth minister and knew all too well that God had made the most unlikely of choices for a youth minister's wife. But, as I began my journey with a loving husband that taught me more truths about God's love and grace that I even knew existed, I learned that it was just that, the unlikely that God chooses for his purposes. So as I set out on the journey with Adam determined to be the best wife I could be, I clung to the scripture above, trusting in God's promise that he could use me because I was/am weak.

But, in discovering the news that I would soon be realizing my dream of becoming a mother, the meaning in the scripture was even more so magnified. There were so many things that I wanted to fix about myself. So many quirks,and insecurities that I wanted to make sure that I had a grip on so that I wouldn't pass those things on to my child. I was frantic knowing that nine months was not long enough to cure all my character flaws. For several years, I had watched the teens in the youth group with their parents trying to find the rhyme and reason between the behavior of the child in connection with the behavior of the parent. Now I don't want to negate the fact that Adam and I have witnessed countless families with outstanding parents. We observe on a daily basis when a parenting decision that we make reflects the parenting that we've witnessed in the past from other people that played such an important role in our lives whether it be our parents, family, friends, ministers we've worked with, the list continues on.. We are so thankful that we come from a long line of love. But truly, when I analyzed these situations, I began to realize that sometimes, there wasn't a rhyme or reason.

So somewhere in the middle of the fear of that realization, I had clarity about two things.
1. I had to be okay with not doing it perfectly and rely on God to fill the huge gaps I would leave.
2. The one thing that I could control was how, when, and what I prayed..

Someone at church had given me a book on prayers for mother's to say for their children. I searched the book for the perfect prayer. Not finding one that was just right, I combined several prayers, and added pieces of my own, trying to make sure I covered all the hopes and dreams that I had for my children not leaving out a single detail. I posted this prayer several years ago but I feel the need to post it once more. Since I wrote the prayer the first time, my heart as made room for another little girl, something I had once thought was impossible. And still having many of those quirks I mentioned, one of them is being sensitive about being a second child (I must add here that this feeling is irrational and not merited. I am crazy about my older sister and my parents were always purposeful in letting me know that they "tried many years for me") But still, there is this fear that maybe Chloe could feel like she isn't as important as Emma because she wasn't first. When she looks back through this log of her life years down the road, I want her to know that I made the proper adjustments to include her being the completing piece of the crazy puzzle we call our life. And, even though I tried to make sure I had every aspect covered, as I've watched them grow and have grown with them, I have found that it is incomplete and have made adjustments..

So for now, until further adjustments are made, here is my revised prayer for you, Emma and Chloe... Though it is also not that uncommon for me to say this prayer for a niece, nephew, friend or a child of a friend that is struggling..

Dear Heavenly Father,

I want to thank you for the wonderful blessing you have brought into my life by given me Emma and Chloe. They have brought me so much joy! Having children has taught me so much about the love and happiness you want to bless your children with. I know that Emma and Chloe are your special creation, anticipated by you from before the beginning of time, now given on loan to me, for me to help grow and nourish into a child who will carry out your perfect will.

God, please call Emma and Chloe to you by name as you have called me. Thank you that you promise to knock patiently on the door of each heart in this family. Thank you that you pursue us. You did it for me--- please do the same for Emma and Chloe.

I pray that they will love your word. I pray that by loving your word, they will receive important warnings about life and be blessed with great personal reward. Help them to be obedient to you. Please help them to know that you discipline us and give us guidelines for our own good and because of your great love for us. Help me to share in this motivation of yours when I ask them to obey. Lord, let them see that I obey you because I love you. Help them to have an honest heart. Help them feel your delight when they speak the truth and to remember that you hate it when we lie. And when they perseveres toward truth, let them feel great freedom of spirit so much that the passing reward of a lie looks as cheap and fleeting as it really is. Help them not to value the material things that the world values but the things that you value. Most of all, I pray that their character would bring praise to you. May your light shine so brightly in them that it will be obvious to everyone that they love you, and people will have no choice but to praise you and give you all the credit for their goodness. I pray that they will put a high priority on love and faithfulness, exhibiting them like beautiful clothing or jewelry. Bless them with a beautiful strength, a wise innocence, and a shielded vulnerability.

I pray that Emma and Chloe will develop a passion for purity. May they always think of their bodies as your dwelling place and want to keep it pure for you. Help them to feel they can bring their questions to their dad and me. Please give us the right words in awkward moments. Nudge me when it’s the right time to pass on an important attitude or piece of information even if they aren't asking for it. Fill them with a genuine and enthusiastic desire to save sex for marriage. Thank you that you not only created the abiding love of marriage, but you also understand crushes, puppy love, and the storms of teen romance. God please protect their hearts. I pray that you would help them to develop healthy relationships with members of the opposite sex throughout their lives. I pray for husbands that will help them grow towards you that they will spend her lives with. Bring them together in your perfect way. Have your hand on them even now. And, may their eventual commitment to marriage be strong enough to stand up against any trouble or testing life brings. While they are growing up, please help Adam and I to be a good example of how beautiful marriage is meant to be. Please introduce her to other couples that will do the same.

Please help them to develop strong and faithful friendships. Please bless them with the kind of life long, faithful friendships you have blessed me with. Please help me to be an example of the kind of friends that they should be as well as the kind of friends that they should choose.

God, sometimes I wake in the night and feel how helpless I am, ultimately, to make life turn out okay for my little ones, to keep accidents, evil , and disease from touching them. Thank you Lord that when I’m afraid, I can turn to you. Help me to remember that your spiritual warriors can shut the mouths of lions and defeat the agents of Satan. Thank you that even when they are out of my sight, they are never out of your sight. Please watch over all that they do and every encounter that they have with the world. Thank you that I can surrender them to you and place them in the dangerous river of life, knowing that you will be watching over them, not from afar off but from very nearby.

Finally, father, help me to pray faithfully for Emma and Chloe, being a good example of the importance of confession and worship. May I be a witness morning and night of your love and faithfulness.

In Jesus name I pray, Amen

Tuesday's tips and tricks-- How to unclog a drain without using harsh chemicals.

In my quest to be frugal along with my desire to remove as many harsh chemicals from my home as possible, I've found a few ways to take care of common household problems. I don't know if you're like me but with both of my children, when they were about four months old, I began losing hair by the handfuls. This resulted in a few broken vacuum cleaner belts and many clogged drains. Well, for the clogged drain, look no further than your pantry because here is a very effective way to unclog drains using vinegar, baking soda and water.

Step 1 - Put about 3/4 cup DRY baking soda down the drain. .
Step 2 - Pour 1/2 cup of vinegar down the drain after the baking soda. Be sure to cover the drain immediately afterwards with a rag or plug, filling the hole completely so nothing can escape. This is because the interaction of the two will cause a “mini volcano” that will want to come up and out of the want to keep it down there.
Step 3 - Leave this concoction in the drain for about 30 minutes. While you're waiting, boil about a gallon of water.
Step 4 - After 30 minutes, remove the plug and slowly pour the HOT water down the drain.

Wha la..


Monday, July 06, 2009

Manic Monday-- Peanut Butter playdough

Since everyone is home on the weekend, and often, we have friends coming in and out. I try to focus on spending time with the ones that I love and save the housework for the week (this is hard for me because if my house is a mess, my head is a mess) But, I try.. Anyway, this makes for a mad rush on Monday trying to get things back in order. So, just in case, you too, are trying to get life back in order, I thought I would share a kids activity that might (no promises) keep the kids busy for more than a half a second.

This activity comes from my friend over at Hyperactive Lu. Lu is a very dear friend, a domestic diva (especially in the kitchen!) and just an overall fun gal!. You should check her out.

Alas, I give you peanut butter playdough!

1 c. peanut butter
2/3-1 c. nonfat dry milk
2 tbsp. honey
Mix ingredients. Add enough powdered milk to make playdough dry enough to handle. Shape into balls. Add raisins to make a face. Or stir in chow mein noodles and make a bird's nest. Or stir in Cheerios or chocolate chips for fun. Eat and enjoy!

I would be remissed if I didn't mention peanut allergies. So, if you've got little ones that haven't yet experienced peanut butter, keep that in mind!

Thanks for the great idea Lu!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

How to make your own blog button

And per my friend Becky's request, I found some really easy to follow directions over at A Heart For Home.

Let me know when you make a button, I'd love to see what you create!