Monday, March 31, 2008

200-400 Extra Calories

In one of her nursing classes, my friend, Leah, learned a shocking statistic: stay-at-home-moms frequently consume 200-400 extra calories a day!!!

It is easy to see where these little extras can come from. If you're like me, you nibble at the extra grilled cheese pieces your toddler didn't touch, have a cookie when you offer one to the kids, scarf down a few saltines when you're feeding your infants some, go ahead and have a small snack with the kids mid-afternoon (this is probably not carrot sticks), lick the beaters from the birthday cake you're making, and are already eating slightly more fattening dinner entrees since creamy casseroles are so kid-friendly.

Well, 100 calories a day equals 10 pounds a year, so 200-400 calories a day can lead to 20-40 pounds weight gain over the course of the year! If you drop 100 calories a day, then you can lose up to 10 pounds over the year, so it works both ways. Watch those little nibbles!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Diaper Rash Doozie!

As an adverse reaction to countless horrible diapers, following our wonderful stomach flu, our youngest has terrible diaper rash. I mean TERRIBLE! He was crying terribly everytime we changed him. The normal Desitin just wasn't doing the job. So here are some suggestions I have since discovered from talking to other moms.

1. Rinse him/her off with a soft rag, or under running water to avoid "rubbing" it and irritating it.
2. Change often and let "air dry" as much as possible. The dryer they are the better.
3. Alternate diaper rash creams, such as Desitin and A&D ointment.
4. Use cloth diapers or make a fleece lining for inside disposables. Fleece wicks away moisture and is softer.
5. Use Maalox. Dab on with a cotton ball before diaper rash cream. The Maalox cuts down on the acidity of the diarrhea-what makes it irritated.
6. Give him/her an oatmeal bath. It helps sooth the sore spots. Just make sure to dry well before re-diapering.
7. Let them run around without a diaper for awhile. Airdry the area.
8. Use liquid powder or baby powder. This also helps keep the area dry. Liquid powder may irritate if it has fragrance in it.
9. Feed them bland foods. If the foods are more acidic, so are the diapers.
10. If it doesn't resolve, talk to your doctor. They may prescribe a diaper rash cream to help.

And if you know of a tip I haven't suggested...I would love hear about it!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Becoming B.R.A.T.s

Well, I haven't posted much because we have been turning into B.R.A.T.s lately. In other words, our kids have had some fun stomach virus or something--I think all sheets in the house have been changed in the past two days. So for those that don't know, if you have a child that is sick, follow the B.R.A.T. diet.

B. R. A. T. Diet:


You can also throw in things like Jello, Sprite/7-Up, and chicken broth/soup to keep those kids hydrated. Bland is the word though. On a side note: if your child is REALLY vomitting, red jello may not be the best-hard to tell if it is jello or blood, which would be bad.

Savoring a Cup of Tea: Fruit of the Spirit (Peace)

For the other Fruit of the Spirit posts, check the Savoring a Cup of Tea index in the margin.

But the fruit of the Spirit is...peace. I (Betsy) have been amazed at how much my own attitude affects those of my family. This is true for all the fruits of the Spirit, but I think peace is a particularly appropriate one in which to examine our roles as women in creating an environment that nurtures this precious fruit. Carrie wrote a tea bag that alluded to this idea and referenced James 3:17 in which the wisdom of heaven is described as being peace-loving. Like all the other fruits of the Spirit, I pray that this one will be evidenced in my life more and more as I grow in Christ. But, I believe there are some practical things we can do to create a peaceful environment--to make this fruit of the Spirit a desirable one.

Background Music/Noise

The background music/noise you allow in your home is one area. Is the TV on all day even though no one is watching? Do you have peaceful music (I love classical music, and it is quite soothing to little ones) playing during those hectic moments (dinner prep!) instead of loud, chaotic music? Or perhaps, you play nothing at all and allow your family to appreciate the quiet ambient noise of birds outside.

The Tone of Your Voice

Another area to consider is the tone of our own voices as we talk to our children, greet our husbands, admonish our little ones, answer the phone, etc. Your husband and children will only benefit from a well-modulated (peaceful) tone of voice rather than a strident, angry tone. Your peaceful tone will do wonders in soothing ruffled feathers; Proverbs 15:1 says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath."

There are many other areas in which we can promote peace within our households. It's worth thinking through how our actions, words, and demeanor help or hinder the Spirit's work in this area.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Leftovers

Check out Full Tummies for a list of ways to use up leftover hard-boiled eggs and Easter ham. You likely don't need any encouragement for ways to polish off the few jelly beans, random pieces of chocolate, or cake still lying around!

Spring Cleaning

This was posted by accident Friday; I'm re-posting it, but some of you may have already read it.

AAhhh.... the smell of the Easter lilies on my countertop are heavenly. So are the fresh smells of the daffodils now blooming like crazy in my yard. And the warm breeze...delightful. But my house is a wreck! Dusty, dirty, neglected during sickness (i.e. the whole month of February), stale-smelling, cluttered. There are even old Christmas cards still lingering on the kitchen counter because I might decide that we need to save them forever. Does this sound familiar?

The Time Has Come

There's something about the new spring air, the fresh flowers, and the extra daylight that's inspiring; seize the moment. If you're super organized and have been following a system such as the Fly Lady's, then your need for spring cleaning will be greatly reduced. But, if you're a wee bit behind on your cleaning, now's the time to plunge in! Easter is over, and it's time to get to work....

Spring Cleaning 101

Real Simple magazine has a great website where you can find many of the past articles from the magazine. I recommend checking out their cleaning guides; this handy Spring Cleaning 101 guide has links to all the best articles on cleaning. Check out their "Quick Solutions for Every Room" in the left margin. In addition, they list cleaning products, ideas for organizing, and many, many more resources.

Make a Plan

For me, the plan involves two high school girls who help me clean my house for extra spending money; they came Friday for 4-5 hours, and they helped clean this place from top to bottom (they did baseboards, windows, bathrooms, vacuumed and mopped all floors--including scrubbing the kitchen floor by hand, dusted, and cleaned our fans!). I realize that this is a luxury many people don't have, but you'd be surprised at how reasonable it can be--particularly when you hire middle or high schoolers. Many would love to earn some extra spending money, and they can certainly help you make a dent in your house cleaning. They might not be "professional," but neither are you! If you can't afford any extra help, enlist your children's help in anything they can do. You can also plan a Spring Cleaning Day. The garage/basement is often in need of as much decluttering as your home. Perhaps you and your husband can tackle the home one weekend and the garage/exterior of your home the next. It will be worth it!

Saturday, March 22, 2008


And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay."
Matthew 28:2, 5-6

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Friday

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" And having said this he breathed his last. Luke 23:44, 46

And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Mark 15:38

When the centurion and those who were with him saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, "Truely this was the Son of God!" Matthew 27:54

And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rocks. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Matthew 27:59-60

Blogs We "Read"

Below is a list of blogs Carrie and I look at from time to time. Check them out! (We'll be adding to this list as we can...)

Betsy's friends' blogs
Clearing Webs
Mrs. T's Blog
The Boudreauxs
Crumley Family Blog
Always Alli
Rinnie's Blog

Interesting Random Blogs (name in parentheses is who "reads" it--we don't have time to really read very many very regularly)
How Do You Do It? (Betsy; multiples' blog)
Wise Bread (Betsy; "large living on a small budget"--lots of fun, thrifty articles)
The Simple Dollar (Betsy; "financial talk for the rest of us")
The Dollar Stretcher (Betsy; "living better for less"--random, money-saving tips)
MomAdvice Blog (Betsy; includes "The Motherload," "Motherloot," and "The Aldi Queen")

Egg Hunt Suprises

Easter is like Haloween and can be over loaded with candy! So if you are doing an egg hunt, here are some other ideas for stuffing those eggs:

1. Money/Coins
2. Stickers
3. Temporary Tatoos
4. Little Army men or similar
5. Small Toy bugs
6. Bracelets/charms/Hair Barettes
7. Lipgloss or similar
8. Erasers
9. Bouncy Balls
10. Playdoh, sidewalk chalk, cars (Thanks to Walmart and Target you can buy these pre-assembled goodies!)

Or use your imagination! There are also a WIDE variety of plastic eggs you can buy too. Happy Hunting.

Dying Easter Eggs: Some Tips and Tricks

Dying Easter eggs is a fun family tradition. Carrie and I have learned some tricks and tips over the years that can make the process more artistic and easier with young children. If you have toddlers, you may want to keep them away from the actual dying process; they frequently do not have enough patience to wait for the dying or drying time.

We highly recommend that PAAS Original Easter Egg Dying Kit. It comes with everything you need except vinegar, water, and a white crayon. If you already have food coloring and want to use that, go ahead. But if you don't want to have to measure or figure anything out, the PAAS kit contains nice little coloring tablets you simply dissolve in vinegar. If you have toddlers, a nice benefit of this handy kit is that it includes stickers! These stickers really do work better on dyed eggs than ordinary stickers--we've tried both.

Lay out all your supplies before involving your children if possible. Start the tablets dissolving in your cups, making sure newspaper or brown paper bags cover your work surface. Make sure your hardboiled eggs are cooled! Give the dye a good stir before starting with the eggs.

Spoons work just as well for lowering the eggs into the dye as the little metal holder that comes in the box. Simply lower the eggs in and wait for your chosen color! The dye works much more quickly at the beginning; those early eggs won't need to be in for long.

Artistic tips: use a white crayon on the egg before dying it. The designs will show up white and the rest of the egg will be colored. This is a nice trick for older children. You can also do half-n-half eggs: using the metal holder, lower the egg halfway into a color and keep it there until you're content with the color; then, when the first half is dry, dip the other half of the egg into a different color.

Stickers on the dyed Easter eggs are a nice place for your toddlers to join in. The eggs should be at room temperature and completely dry, or the stickers won't stick.

What to do with those colorful hard-boiled eggs? They make an easy Easter morning breakfast option if your children like them. If not, check out full tummies this week for other suggestions, like Creamed Eggs on Toast. Other possibilities include egg salad (Carrie and I frequently are both eating this for lunch on the same day even though we don't live near each other...weird, huh?) and tuna salad.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bring Spring Inside-Part 2

Bring Spring Inside-Part 1

Great minds think alike! Betsy told me she posted her flower blog at the same time I was thinking of doing something similar. I had some pretty annuals my brother-in-law gave me. Now they are a great centerpiece for our family Easter dinner. And they are not to tall, like some flowers-will be easy to "talk over". If you want to keep your annuals longer, I do suggest you move or replant them outside-most take full sun!

Celebrate Easter!

Christ the Lord is risen; he is risen indeed!

There are many ways you can celebrate Easter with your family. Make this "holiday" special in any way you can. After all, Easter is the pinnacle of what Christ did when he came to earth for us in the first place! Without it, we wouldn't be able to commune with our heavenly father; all of us are sinful and none of us can fulfill the law. But Christ DID fulfill the law, died to take our punishment, rose again to triumph over sin and death, and his righteousness is imputed to the those who believe in him. Here's a short list of ways you can enrich your family's understanding of this important holiday:

1. Resurrection Eggs: There is a set you can purchase from Family Life. You can also make your own if you have older children (middle elementary or older). The concept is simple and is a great way to make some of the Easter story a little more tangible for little minds: write a Scripture reference on the outside of a plastic egg. Inside it, put a tangible object that represents part of that Bible verse (a nail for the cross, a thorn for the crown of thorns, a scrap of cloth for the robe, ...). You can either hide these, look at an egg a day as you move through the events of Holy Week, or open them all in order on Easter Sunday.

2. Resurrection Cookies: This recipe comes through a link from Family Life as well. These are another fun to way to reinforce the real meaning of Easter!

3. Special Meal: We make a big deal of our Christmas Day dinner. Do the same for Easter and communicate that Easter is a special day. For instance, we always have Pistachio Cake for dessert on Easter. It's a family recipe, and the icing is a lovely, light green color--perfect for Easter decorations.

4. New Clothes: This is not just another Southern tradition; our new clothes symbolize new life in Christ. So, make this point with your children as you get new white shoes, pretty dresses, little suits, etc.

5. Holy Week Worship Services: Attend a Holy Week service with your family. If your church doesn't offer one, look for one that does. These are frequently beautiful reminders of the Last Supper (Maundy Thursday) and the crucifixion (Good Friday). Look for one that focuses on Scripture and Easter music.

These are just a few of the many ways we can point our children to the real meaning behind Easter. Don't let it get lost in jelly beans, Easter egg hunts, Easter baskets, and Easter bunnies!

Easter Preparation: Christian Children

Is my child a Christian.......

This has been a thought running through my mind lately. I remember praying a "prayer" when I was young, so did my husband. Yet, our oldest son, 5 years, hasn't said any sort of "prayer" yet. How do I know if and when he will become a Christian, and what do I do about it?

I heard my pastor talking about children joining the church (or anyone) and how to know if they are Christians. He made the point that no where in the Bible does it mention that you have to pray the "sinner's prayer". It does say, you have to believe Jesus is the Son of God, that he came and died for our sins, and if we acknowledge we are sinners in need of a Savior, and truely believe we are forgiven, we will be saved (see John 3:16, Romans 3:23, 5:8, 6:23).

That got me thinking. My son and I were going through a bible sticker book and I started asking him questions. He understands that Jesus is God's son and died for our sins. I don't know if he understands the full meaning of what it means to be a sinner and ask for forgiveness-I think everyone knows at this age, there is still a lot of growth left. But he is learning the main points and that thrills me! (We are getting somewhere!)

Now am I knocking the "sinner's prayer"? Absolutely not! It is only natural that prayer accompany belief and there's no better way to vocalize that you are indeed a sinner and are truely repentant. But I bring comfort in the thought my pastor passed on....just because my son has not "prayed the prayer" he could still understand part of what being a Christian means.

I encourage you to use this Easter to start asking your young ones questions about Jesus. If they don't know, tell them.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bring Spring Inside!

These are lenten roses (hellebores) from my (Betsy's) yard. We are blessed to have an abundance of flowers to cut all spring and summer, but the spring is particularly nice. We're even on a driving trail that meanders through our fair city and showcases lovely yards. Our neighborhood tends to be more rustic in appearance than others, but its true beauty is the richness of native plants (such as the lenten roses pictured).

I would encourage you to take every opportunity during the next few weeks to bring some of that spring beauty around you inside your house. You may think no one else will notice or appreciate it, but they will. Even if your children or husband can't pinpoint what's different, the air will feel fresher, spring will seem more real and present, and a spot of beauty will brighten their days.

You may have to buy something to have a centerpiece or vase full of flowers; it is money well spent. Consider buying a basket or pot with flowers growing in it that you can eventually plan in your yard instead of cut flowers. Even sprigs of blooming trees, budding forsythia, or delicate new green growth on a shrub can have an effect. Be creative and take those kitchen shears outside!

Just For Fun!

You know when they make birthday cards, it happens often. Here is the card my husband got for my birthday. Oh, how true, how true!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tea Bag: The Luck of the Irish

Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. Proverbs 11:4

Irish wish for lepricans and a pot of gold. Where are you looking for your pot of gold? And does it have lasting value!

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Series List

The following are some series we've begun... Simply search the title in the search box in the top left corner of the blog, and it should pull up the posts with that heading.

The Struggle to Becoming Mom
Going Green
Top Five
Sunday Morning Worship Prep

Savoring a Cup of Tea: Repolishing My Teapot

Recently, I have just felt in a rut! Not much motivation to do anything. Granted, some of this is warranted. I had a major crisis with my washing maching, we kept a little boy for a friend, I had a BIG birthday, and I can't count how many things have gone "wrong" the past few days. To add to the mix, my husband brought home a little kitty as a "present". So quite frankly, I'm tired (not just sleepy!) What happens when we are so often in this predicament (besides lying in bed all day)? Usually, God speaks to us somehow.

Our womens' Bible study at church has been going through the book of James. Pretty heavy book if you ask me, but it has been good. This week was James 4:1-3. It talks all about our passions and desires taking hold, waging battles and hatred among us (our sinful nature), culminating in James 4:2b-3 "You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

What I found most interesting, was that in our Bible study discussion, one of the main ideas brought up was (and no it wasn't brought up by me!) how we need to repolish our lives, and get our motives and desires in check. HELLO!!! Has any one been reading the poem lately (including me!) I couldn't believe I was being slapped in the face with some of the reasoning behind our Tarnished Teapot! Wow.

So if you have been in a "worn out" phase lately, maybe it is time you repolish some of your teapot too! I know I need too. The Bible is always a great place to start! You can also check out our resource, True Woman, by Susan Hunt (located in the side bar).

Savoring a Cup of Tea: Joy (cont.)

I thought I would add something to Betsy's comments of the Fruit of the Spirit-Joy. As I was reading her comments on how important joy is, a thought struck me. In the list of the fruit of the spirits, love comes first. We know that love is the greatest commandment that God gave us, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart...and second love your neighbor as yourself (paraphrased)." However, in the fruits list joy is second. The fruits of the spirit could have been written in any order. Whose to say patience couldn't have been written second. However, I think God may have been placing importance in his order.

We know love is first (and first in the list of fruits). But joy comes in next. If we truely love something, don't we normally have joy about it. With more joy, aren't we more at peace with what is around us. With peaceful attitudes we tend to be more patient. Being patient can be exhibited as kindness. Those that are kind are seen as good. More faith is entrusted to those that are good (goodness). Any one with the above tends to be gentle, which lead most importantly to their ability for self-control! Now, I know some of us have more strength in some of these fruits than others, but they all play a major role in our lives as images of Christ.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Savoring a Cup of Tea: Fruit of the Spirit (Joy)

See the first Fruit of the Spirit entry (and links to subsequent ones when they appear).

Joy is a marvelous gift of the Spirit for which to pray when you have young children at home! So many places in the Bible encourage/command believers to be joyful. I take comfort, though, that joy is indeed a fruit of the Spirit--something that will grow in us as we grow in Christ.

Not feeling joyful...

Sometimes, I don't always feel joyful, particularly when I'm cleaning up vomit (or worse), chasing a toddler who's running with any number of forbidden objects, or folding the nth load of laundry for the day. I've learned these past months that we can tell ourselves the same thing we tell our children: smile. Somehow, smiling or choosing to act joyfully when we may not feel joyful makes it easier to be joyful. I also try to remind myself that the very things I'm frustrated by frequently are caused by the very people I'm most thankful for--and I would much rather be cleaning up my precious baby's vomit than not have that same child in my life!

Pray for Joy

Pray for this fruit of the Spirit! I want our children to see joyful parents who delight in serving the Lord and one another, and so I pray that the Lord will make my heart thankful for all His many blessings and that He will enable me to rejoice in those same blessings. I bought my sister, Carrie, and myself a little day planner for this year that alludes to one of the best verses in the Bible to preach to yourself every morning (and to sing with your children):

"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Quick Shine: Outside Table and Chairs

A "quick shine" is a polishing job you can do to your home in approximately 10 minutes. Generally, it's a task that needs to be done, but you might be tempted to put if off (or have been putting it off already). Just remember, you can get a lot done in 10 minutes!

My husband really loves to eat out on our screened in porch. I usually grumble about the work it takes to clean off the table and chairs before we can sit down to dinner. A few days ago, we had a nice, warm day (70 degrees), so I decided to quit grumbling and do a quick shine. 10 minutes later, my toddler and I had cleaned off the table and chairs and the place was ready. In retrospect, this didn't take me long to do and was so worth it! We even pulled the babies' high chairs out there and all enjoyed the fresh air. It's so easy to make a task bigger in your mind than it is in reality. Besides, my toddler LOVED wiping down the plastic chairs with her paper towel.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Toddler Chores

I (Betsy) have often heard that it takes more work for parents to be their toddler's employer than to do the chores themselves. I've also often heard that it's worth it in the long run to spend the time training your toddler. We've opted for the time-spent-now-will-be-worth-it-in-the-long-run approach, and our little toddler now has an unwritten list of expected chores! Granted, she does some of her "chores" more eagerly than others, but nonetheless, she is still contributing to the running of our household. Books like The Mommy Manual have good lists of suggested chores in them. We've asked our friends as well. Below is the list we've come to expect of our toddler, based upon recommendations, the abilities of our current toddler, and the current needs of our household; I encourage other toddler parents to examine their own household routines and their toddler--what can you be training and expecting your toddler to do? Here is what our toddler is working on:
  1. throwing things (diapers, Kleenexes, etc.) away upon request
  2. putting her dishes in the sink when she is through (plastic dishes only)
  3. carrying her milk cup to the fridge if it's not empty and can be saved for another meal
  4. carrying her (plastic) dishes to her little table for lunch
  5. putting away her play dishes if I've had to wash them
  6. picking up toys and other miscellaneous things off of the floor
  7. putting the soap in the dishwasher (we use the little soap packets)
  8. helping unload the silverware and her plastic dishes from the dishwasher
  9. starting the washing machine (we have a front loader and the button is on her level)
  10. helping feed our dogs (we fill up the scoop and she pours it into their bowls)
  11. getting toys/cups dropped from the twins' high chairs and returning them to the boys
  12. separating her clothes from her brothers' when I get the load out of the dryer
  13. putting bottles (once empty) into the sink
  14. getting miscellaneous things for her brothers (toys, socks, etc.)
  15. occasionally helping me cook! (stirring, dumping ingredients in, etc.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tea Bag: Little Treats

Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Ps. 127:3

Are you counting your children as a reward today? What are ways you can look for the extra rewards in the mundane day-to-day (or just the really bad "Mondays")?

Intentionally Spilled Milk

Carrie and I are starting a new category: "Spilled Milk: No Crying." She's already posted her Top 10, and I plan to at some point. However, this past Thursday, we had a case of "intentionally poured milk." My toddler's infinitely wise maternal grandmother poured milk out of my toddler's tumbler, through the little sippy spout, into her (the toddler's) Cream of Wheat a couple of weeks ago. Toddlers, as many of you know, are born imitators and love to "help." Read on....

I'm in the kitchen making a slew of grilled cheese sandwiches when I realize that Twin A's chortling and babbling in the walker has stopped. "Why?" is always the first question that comes to mind when children fall silent. In this case, he was intently watching his toddler sister carefully try to pour milk out of her tumbler into the walker tray. I quickly put a stop to this and went to check on Twin the Johnny Jump Up. Read on....

Yep, you guessed it. Twin B was happily bouncing around in the jump up, splashing in a big milk puddle every time he hit the floor, and cackling at the sloshing milk still in the tray.

Not a day goes by in which I cease to be thankful for hardwood floors.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Special Day Extras-Continued

I forgot to mention a couple of breakfast ideas:

1. Colored pancakes and shapes: Besides sprinkles, you can add food coloring to your pancake batter and turn them into green, blue, red, etc. pancakes. Let your kids pick the colors. You can also place a cookie cutter in your pan (ONLY metal ones) and pour your batter in the cookie cutter to make a shape.

2. Egg in a hole: This is fun too. Cut a circle (or other shape) out of a peice of bread. Melt butter in a skillet. Place the bread on the skillet, then crack an egg in the "hole" and fry it that way, flipping when needed.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Special Day Extras

Since it is my birthday, I thought I would share some little extra things you can do to brighten someones day. We have done many of these:

1. Ecards. Betsy had at least 30 ecards sent to me. OK that's a lot, but it was fun. Family and friends I hadn't heard from in a long time responded too!
2. Breakfast sprinkles: My boys love this for their pancakes, waffles, or anything similar you usually add syrup to.
3. Sandwich shapes: Take cookie cutters and cut your sandwiches into fun shapes.
4. Special cake: Make that extra special cake for that extra special person!
5. Flowers: Who doesn't like flowers! Or plants. Kids like to pick them too to give.
6. Cards: Forget email, I still like snail mail too! Fun to find it in your mailbox.
7. Special dishes: We had growing up (and now too) a special "birthday" plate, you got to use it on your birthday.
8. Pick your dinner: If it's your birthday, you get to pick what you eat.
9. Growth charts: For little ones, chart their growth every year on their birthday. Date it-or you may not remember the year later.
10. Phone calls: Emailing is too easy, pick up the phone and hear someones voice.

That's just some...there are lots. Think of your own special treats to do.

Best Carrot Cake

This is Carrie's all-time favorite carrot cake recipe, and she even makes it for herself on her birthday. Check it out at Full Tummies and celebrate spring (and Carrie's birthday)!

Happy Birthday, Carrie

In honor of Carrie's birthday, I thought I'd post a little list of what her family and friends like best about her. I was originally going to list 30 things since she's turning 30, but certain things especially stood out in the lists people sent back to me. So, I'll highlight those special traits with a little acrostic. This is a surprise to Carrie!

C-Child of God and growing every day in wisdom and knowledge of Him
A-Artistic and creative: loves scrapbooking, cake decorating, anything "crafty" (and encourages her children to be artistic, too)
R-Resourceful: finding ways to help support her family (cake decorating and other part-time jobs); looking for activities for her family to do; searching out the best resources for her children (such as kids' music); making things at home instead of always buying them;....
R-Raising boys and proud of it! She delights in her young family.
I-Idea factory: always coming up with new ideas
E-Energetic, enthusiastic, and "feisty"

Tea Bag: Pure Goodness

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peaceloving (peaceable), considerate (gentle), submissive (open to reason), full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17 NIV (ESV)

WOW! I just get a picture of calmness and serenity. Especially as moms, if we practiced this every day, think of how comforting and nurturing our homes would be. What can you work on to gain more wisdom from above? Start with just one or two.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Savoring a Cup of Tea: Fruit of the Spirit (Love)

I (Betsy) love to read; as a result, I'm often searching for books on parenting or other issues in my life to glean advice from. While many of these books are godly sources of tips, advice, and teaching in these areas, they are still no substitute for the Bible itself. As I've spent time this year wondering how I can be a better wife and mother (and friend, sister, daughter, neighbor, etc.), the Fruit of the Spirit has come to mind frequently. When I really stop to meditate on this list, it's AMAZINGLY applicable to each of my relationships. We'll start with love.

I do not need to tell any other wife or mother out there how important this fruit of the spirit is. But rather than go on and on about it, I'm simply going to copy 1 Corinthians 13 below. I encourage to do what I've been doing lately: read through it slowly every day. I often think with familiar passages like this that "I know it already." But each new relationship/phase of your life will bring new ways to practice this passage. So, read it again, my friends.

I Corinthians 13: 4-8a

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Cooking Class

Carrie and I took two cooking classes together at the Williams Sonoma store in our mall last year. This was a great way to learn something new and spend some fun time together. We looked over their class offerings for the coming month (available at the cash register if that store offers classes; many do), picked ones we wanted, and told our husbands to get us that for Christmas. The first class we took covered souffles and was very helpful. We have each made souffles a few times since! Seeing the instructor make them in front of us was very educational. Since we both took the class, we've been able to help trouble shoot for each other with those same recipes. The other class we took featured weeknight meals using chicken. Now, I have to admit that most of those recipes were not exactly weeknight fare for someone with young children at home, but I have made one recipe a lot: Chipotle Cheddar Chicken Cakes with Honey Pear Salsa (believe it or not, it's quite child friendly and fairly simple to make!). We came away from these classes armed with some great recipes we got to see made and tried when they were done; we also have some fun memories. If you enjoy cooking and/or have a friend/spouse/relative who also enjoys it, consider taking a cooking class together or giving a cooking class to someone.

Our souffle cooking instructor, Kevin Weeks, has a blog with most of his recipes on it. The recipes we tried were the Cheese Souffle (very kid-friendly; recipe minus his commentary is at our recipe blog, Full Tummies), the Souffle Provencal (also very kid-friendly), the Low Country Souffle, Make Ahead Mocha Souffles (recipe coming soon on Full Tummies; to die for!!), and a very tasty Frozen Citrus Souffle (called Key Lime Mousse on his blog).

Two of the chicken recipes can be found on the Williams Sonoma website. The Chicken and Basil Roulades with Mustard Sauce are yummy--good company fare since it's a great presentation. The Oven-Crisped Chicken is good family weeknight fare.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Satin Hands

My hands have NEVER been as rough and dry as this winter; all day long, I have my hands in water: washing hands after diaper changes and toddler potty visits, preparing bottles, preparing food, giving little ones baths, etc. They've even been so rough and dry that the skin on the backs of my hands has cracked and bled, my husband hasn't wanted to hold my hand, and I've not wanted to touch my babies' faces. And they hurt! Well, my sister used to sell Mary Kay, and I thankfully still have some of the products I acquired through her. One of those is the Satin Hands system. This is WONDERFUL!!! It really works (and I've tried a lot of other lotions this winter). I'm indebted to Carrie forever for introducing me to it. My hands healed up after a couple of days. It works by getting rid of the dry skin on top and then deeply moisturizing. If you've got dry hands and know of a Mary Kay consultant, this product is worth buying.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

No Crying Over Spilt Milk--That means you MOM!

As a mom, we all have days where we want to throw in the towel. We are going to start a running list under our new heading, Spilled Milk-NO Crying. Here is my (Carrie) top 10 hilarious antics and other random behaviors from our children that have happened through the years to get us started:

10. Spilt milk: this happens often, and always RIGHT AFTER I have mopped the floor. And usually it is done on purpose by the 2 year old, because it is just so much fun! But can be followed by the 5 yr old on accident, and then dog water bowl spilled....why do we clean, why, why, why.

9. Mud Puddles: This is often too, with boys. One day my oldest, with his neighbor friend had SO much fun in the puddles, his friend exclaimed it looked like he was covered in chocolate! My son had to strip in the garage...even his underwear was brown!

8. Sprinkling the Floor: We were letting our 2 yr. old run naked after his bath. We got involved playing a game of puppets out his closet door. He was having a blast, until he got quiet. Then, you guessed it...a puddle on the floor! Good thing we are prepared with carpet cleaner.

7. New box of cereal: After just returning from the grocery store, I was attempting to get all unloaded. My youngest was left alone on the kitchen floor with an open box of Kix (which we had probably opened halfway through shopping to appease him!) guessed it. Kix ALL over the floor. He was having a blast. He even had them stuck to his behind, so when he sat down there was periodic popping.

6. Sprinkles: My 5 yr. old likes to put sprinkles on pancakes, and we do so from time to time. On a normally hectic morning, we had eaten and I was in the living room helping him do something when it dawned on me to check on the 2 yr. old. He was at the table, half of the sprinkles dumped out on the table (big container too!) and was proceeding to face first eat them. He had a red, green and blue covered face, lips, tongue, you name it. And the sprinkles had been dumped out right on the crack where a leaf is added to the table, so now they were all over the floor as well. There was such a big pile, I scooped up a lot with a spoon.

5. When our first was almost 3 he starting wanting to chew gum. He had a peice in his mouth when we headed to church one day. We couldn't find it when we got there, and didn't think much about it in the rush. We discovered it when we got home and were changing clothes...stuck fast to the inside of his shirt. Some things just aren't worth the trouble!

4. Dirty Diaper Dilemna: On the way home from family vacation when our first was about 6 months old, we had just gotten in the car and started on our way when....sniff, sniff, uh-oh. No big deal...we pull the car over at a rest stop and attempt to change the "stinky". The "stinky" had run out of the diaper, all over the really cute outfit and onto the car seat. Where were the change of clothes....IN THE BOTTOM OF THE TRUNK, under all the beach gear. After a whole tub of baby wipes, outfitted in just a diaper, we were off on our way again. First stop: a store that carried baby clothes-he got a new outfit!

3. Mr. Fix It: Our oldest used to have a Power Wheels Jeep that he loved! He also loves copying daddy. So one day, left to his own devices, I checked on him while he was outside riding the Jeep. It had been driven up and parked on Daddy's two car ramps, the hood was up, and with Daddy's tools, he was "fixing" the inside, checking the brakes and so on. (Now if we can just teach him to do it for real!)

2. Raisin up the Nose: Yes, it does happen. Our son came to me telling me he had a raisin up the nose. I didn't believe him. I just looked dark. Then I was so far up there I had to get the tweezers out and use them. Thankfully raisins are soft and the tweezers worked!

1. 911 calls: No this was not for an accident, thank goodness. But I will never let my kids play with the phone again. When our first was barely walking, he was playing with the phone on the floor one day. Lazy mom didn't feel like getting up, and what harm could it do. Finally a call came in. It just showed a county number. When I answered the battery died, so I hung it up on the charger and figured someone would call back. 15 minutes later a knock on the door. It was a police officer, asking if someone had dialed 911. A call had been made, and there was no response on the end of the line. When they called back, and my battery died, they sent an officer to check it out. Mortified, I showed her our son, that the phone died, was back on the charger, and all was well. Until 8:30 that night, knock knock. SAME police officer. Someone had dialed 911 (this time for real) about something abuse related. It was at a close by house with almost the EXACT address as ours (people made mistakes all the time regarding the two houses). They assumed it was ours. It took my husband a few minutes to really convince the officer that nothing was wrong with us, and finally the correct address was discovered of the real call. Story doesn't end...a few days later guess who calls 911 again. Yup, our son. This time I caught it, got a lecture from the 911 operator, and have since guarded the phone from our little hands.

The Fly Lady

Carrie introduced me to the Fly Lady. Who in the world is the Fly Lady? She's Marla Cilley, and she's created a whole system of household maintenance, cleaning, de-cluttering, etc. The Fly Lady is big into routines, starting small, only tackling what you can handle in a given amount of time, and encouraging others in similar situations. I was definitely feeling overwhelmed with all I had to do around the house, had a new baby, wondering where to start, etc., and then I found her Beginner Baby Steps. It really did help change the way I worked around the house! I now have some routines in place that make the whole day run more smoothly. Even such simple habits as cleaning up all my dinner dishes the night before, washing 1 load of laundry every morning, and "getting dressed to the shoes" have really transformed my job as a home economist. I didn't "join" because I didn't want more emails in my inbox, but I checked her home page out daily for a while. In addition to the Baby Steps, there is a focus for the week (a particular room in your house) and daily missions to do in that room (such as cleaning out the cobwebs, dusting, whatever). There is also a habit or routine of the month to focus on. It's amazing what a difference a few small changes make. You don't need to make them all at once either, just start with one! Another thing I really took away from her website is the importance of re-evaluating my existing routines occasionally--thinking outside the box and figuring out what works for me and my family in any given set of circumstances. I do things very differently now with a toddler and twin infants than I did with only one infant at home, but I still use routines and try not to bite off more than I can chew!

The Struggle of Becoming "Mom"-Part 1

Betsy and I have been talking about how many people are choosing to use...or not use birth control these days. There is a growing number who want to have "quiver full" families, as the Psalmist states. Yet I think Betsy and I both view it a little differently.

Now while neither of us knock having lots of kids, there are other points. If you and your husband agree to have a full house, and both of you are healthy and able to do so, then I think that is great! However, increasingly today, there are more and more factors that play against this. And a big question, where do you draw the line? So here are my thoughts....

1. MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP: What do you and your husband agree on? This is the most important relationship!! If you husband is not on board with having more children, than don't throw caution to the wind. Why add tension that is not needed. I don't think God necessarily requires or wants us to have big families and will post some biblical examples. He wants us primarily to be a Christian family that loves him.

2. HEALTH AND WELLNESS: As I have said, recently we lost a baby. In the weeks that followed and in discussion with doctors, we discovered that if I were to get pregnant I could potentially lose a child again, due to a previous surgery and scar tissue. Betsy and I both know women that are at risk for certain things if they were to become pregnant again. Is it worth your health, and life to your family to really risk it? And there is the extreme emotional aspect of it too, dealing with the loss if it happens. In some cases, there may even be life-long health problems with the child that is born, like down-syndrome. Are you willing to risk it?

3. ISSUES OF SEX: When we lost our child, our current form of "birth control" was the typical condom type thing. And I'll be honest...if you have done this, you know after a while (or years) it gets kind of old. Why? You have to always be "prepared". Forget spontenaity. Yet, after the miscarraige we were faced with heavy decisions about whether to try again. We were given the go ahead if we wanted to, but were still faced with the unknown of how it would turn out. And I was tired physically, emotionally, etc. Sex became a burden. I didn't want it. I was tired of how we "protected" and I was scared if we didn't. And for a while this was a struggle. I don't think we are the only ones in this, but this is also such a crucial part of married life. When it gets to this point, I think options need to be I said the marriage is most important, not whether you have more kids or not.

4. MONEY: Some couples just can't afford to have a bigger family. A bigger family means a bigger car, possibly a bigger house, more mouths to feed, etc. Sometimes it is just not economically smart. Sure God will provide if needed, but lets not unecessarily test him "just to see," especially if the wife already has to work-not just the husband.

So do you draw the line or not...the answer is different for each couple. It can be a heavy decision, and one that warrants prayer about what to do. Remember, we live in a fallen world with sinful bodies. Not everything will work normally. Betsy and her husband have done some research on birth control methods, specifically what prevents conception vs. what does away with a fertilized egg so to speak. I'm going to get her to write what she has discovered. And talk to your doctor. There are so many options these days, from temporary to permanent.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Carrie's birthday is at the end of the week, so this is a small series of posts in honor of her!

One of my New Year's goals this year is to remember more people's birthdays. This is a such a simple, even free way to make someone's day. Think about the people in your life who mean a lot to you, who are family members (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.), who might need a little pick-me-up. Many churches publish their members' birthdays and anniversaries. You no doubt already have a list of family members' birthdays. One of my husband's aunts sends everyone in the family a little birthday note (and there are several hundred people in this family!!). It means a lot to check the mail (snail mail or email) and see a cheerful little remembrance of your special day. Below are some easy ways to incorporate birthday greetings into your routine:

  1. Mark them all on your calendar and/or daytimer!
  2. Get in the habit of checking your calendar for the coming week.
  3. Keep addresses handy (my mother-in-law gave me an address book that also has a place to record birthdays and keep cards handy--ingenious!).
  4. Keep a stash of simple cards on hand, so you are not stuck running to the store at the last minute or choosing not to send a card at all because you don't have time to run to the store. I picked up a box of 200 cards and matching envelopes at Target this winter for around $10. The cards are all bright solid colors with no text--I can write whatever I wish.
  5. Keep postage supplies on hand (stamps, etc.). You can even order your stamps online .
  6. Make kids' birthdays extra special: stick some stickers in a young child's greeting, for instance.
  7. E-cards! These are often free and are very fun to send. Children love the animated ones. These are great options to send to people to whom you may not normally send cards, but would like to acknowledge this year. They're also fun additions even if you are sending a card, especially for those at work on their birthdays.
  8. Phone calls: these are still a great way to go! Cards show you've thought about the person ahead of time, but what person doesn't like a phone call from a long lost friend or relative on their special day?!
  9. Verbal greetings: if you remember a co-worker's birthday by simply telling them "Happy Birthday" before they have a chance to remind you, you'll make their day!
  10. Gifts of time/labor: Do something for those around you on their birthday: treat them to lunch, fix a child's favorite cookies or cake, hang a sign up in the classroom acknowledging the birthday boy/girl, bring breakfast in bed to your spouse, etc.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Tarnished Teapot

The tarnished teapot which was once bright and new
Is an everlasting reminder of who's inside of you.
Filled with cool refreshment on a summer’s day
Or warm and inviting to chase the cold away

It may look tarnished, tiresome or old
Just as we do when the world takes hold.
However, with love, tenderness and care,
It can be revived, restored and repaired.

To create more work it is not meant to do,
But serve to remind we need polishing, too.
As you polish your teapot and see the reflection,
Who’s looking back now for your inspection?

Is it God or you or the things of the world--
For remember who came and died for us all.
And just as our teapot, our lives can grow dim,
But with the Lord’s help we can soon shine again!