Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm not here anymore.

I've been talking about it forever, but I've finally switched my blog over to WordPress and won't be posting here anymore! If you're subscribed to Land of Lovings through a feed reader it shouldn't affect you, but you may want to check your links in your blogroll to make sure it's directing to either www.atlantalovings.com or www.landoflovings.com.

Also, if you follow me here on Blogger you won't see my updated posts either so be sure and switch over to subscribe to my new WordPress home! I look forward to seeing you over there!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Come find me!


Are you at Type-A Mom Conference this weekend? If so, I’d love to meet you in person! I’ll be wandering the halls so please come say hi.

I’m looking forward to hanging out with fellow moms, bloggers, & social media addicts and letting Thomas hang with the kids on his own. Pray for him.

No, seriously, pray

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ballet Baby

For more Wordless Wednesday head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

Like Romeo & Juliet. But for Kindergarten.

I can hold a grudge. I know, I know. It isn't very Christian of me. But, despite my love of Jesus I'm not exactly the bestest Christian ever so I live with it. And keep working on it.

But, there are times in my life when I really wish I could learn to let go. If you know me IRL, then you know one of my favorite phrases is "it's the principle of the matter" when describing my anger toward a perceived injustice. I'm a principle crusader.

Nine years ago Thomas and I went to pre-marital counseling. Which turned into counseling between us, my parents, & my sisters. All of us saw the same counselor. At different times in various combinations. At one point (I'm not even kidding) she talked to my parents about starting counseling at their manufacturing plant with their employees. She had quite the racket convincing all of us to come in several times a week at $90 an hour. The whole thing (I think) was a bit unethical of her. She was (in my opinion) a terrible, terrible counselor. And my husband and I chose to elope as a direct result of our counseling sessions and the chaos created by all of us seeing one counselor and getting conflicting advice & stories. Our family relationships were not restored until we all got out from under her "care" and actually talked to each other without professional help.

Okay, in case you were wondering, that is me holding back. A LOT.

So, since then I've moved on. (Can you tell?) Yes, I've called the church that referred us to her and informed them of her unethical practices. And they called & let her know I complained. She assured them she couldn't think of a single reason I would have been unhappy. Thankyouverymuch, oh unnamed church, for the way you handled that.

Fast forward 9 years and when I let myself think about it I'm still a bit sore about the whole thing. Yes, I've moved on. My husband and I are happy. We have a beautiful family. My parents & sisters and I have wonderful rich relationships. I should let it go. But, it's the principle of the matter.

God, however, is a funny guy. Because last week I went into Kai's homeschool academy for a mom meeting and sat down right across from one very familiar face. (And it wasn't a friendly one.)

I sat through the whole meeting barely hearing the teacher and marveling at my dumb luck. And then went out to meet Thomas & the kids and got ready to tell him all about my discovery. But, I was interrupted by Kai telling me all about her new bestest friend in the whole wide world, B-----. We knew she'd been playing with B----- for the last few weeks. What we didn't know was B-----'s name. And that day we'd promised her a slushy if she would go to school learn her best friend's name and report it back to us. (We think it's important to remember the names of our best friends around here.)

"Mommy, mommy! I remembered my best friend's name! It's B-----!"

In case you're wondering, yes, that is the name of the dreaded counselor's daughter. My daughter's bestest friend is the friend of my enemy. Oh. the. irony.

I'll admit. The first thing I wanted to do was tell Kai not to play with her new best friend. (Yes, I know that is yucky of me.) But, I resisted the urge to spread the poison to my 5-year-old. I like to call that progress.

But, this lady & I are going to have to learn to coexist in this tiny class of 12. Which means I've got some forgiving to do. And that just doesn't come easy to me. I don't like letting people off the hook. (Though please feel free to let me off the hook whenever I commit some wrong against you. I'm nice & hypocritical that way.)

I'm going to learn to be bigger than this thing. I'm going to take the high road. Because, after all, that is the principle that actually matters.

This forgiveness thing is SO a work in progress. I'm sure you'll be hearing more before this school year is over. In the meantime, if you have forgiveness stories and advice to share, I'm all ears...


Sunday, September 20, 2009

I'm moving.


Just in time for the Type-A Mom Conference I'm moving my blog over to WordPress. And getting a super cool redesign!

So, check back Wednesday for the details. I'll be unveiling the new look & domain name.

Same content. Same blog. But, with much cooler digs.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mommy Make-over Needed

I'm heading to Type-A Mom Conference less than one week. Which means two things. First, I'm giddy about hanging out & meeting some of my awesome online friends! And second, I'm going to have to crawl out from behind my computer screen and actually see people. In person.

Which is why, unless everyone wants to see me at Type-A Mom Conference in a yucky ponytail and pajamas, something must be done here. Because that is how I spend the majority of my blogging time. (Fine. It's how I spend the majority of my time. Period.)

And so now I need a mommy make-over. Unfortunately, Stacy & Clinton, Carson Kressley, Tim Gunn, and Trinny & Susannah have all failed to return my calls. So I'm on my own.

Which is why I'm asking you guys for help. Give me your best make-over tips. What do you do when you need to update your look?

I'm looking for some good ideas that are inexpensive, easy to implement, & will make me feel like something more than a zombie mommy.

Any advice?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dedication.

** Be warned. This is one of those picture-ful posts that come about because this blog also serves as my kid's only documentation of their childhood. I lapse into virtual baby book mode every once in a while! **

This weekend we held Traveler's baby dedication at our home. It was a really special & personal experience with family & some friends from our Bible study.

It was a day that reminded us how truly blessed we are to be surrounded by so many wonderful people in all areas of our life. I think one of the best gifts we can give our children is a rich community of people who love and pray for them. This day really illustrated the power of such community to us.

Thanks to our friend, Dewde, for taking pictures. (The first 6 are his. They also prove my husband's point about buying a better camera.)









For more Wordless Wednesday from people who actually manage to keep it, you know, Wordless head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The crazy train just got crazier.

I don't even know how to build up to this slowly so here goes.

Remember my confession about peeing on sticks? Well, I peed on a stick again. And it was positive.

Actually, it was more like 5 sticks. And they were all positive. But to be extra sure I broke them apart. And held them up to the light. And looked at them for days. 5 days. And they never changed. So....it looks like we're having a(nother) baby!

To say we were surprised would be an understatement. I'm still nursing Trav. We've taken "precautions" every single time but one. I'm dead serious. In four months, we've thrown caution to the wind ONE time. ONE.

We're very excited about having another little one to love and snuggle. And though this wasn't exactly our plan it was (quite obviously) in Someone's plan. So, we're going to go with this and enjoy the crazy ride we're about to be on.

I'm more than just a little bit nervous about the logistics. Because:

1. Trav is only 5 months old. FIVE MONTHS!!
2. We are still paying off the previous C-section because my insurance won't cover me on maternity.
3. I have no idea how we're going to squeeze 4 kids into this house.
4. Did I mention we still don't have maternity insurance?

Let this be a cautionary tale for teenagers everywhere. Because, as it turns out, it only takes one lapse with birth control to get pregnant and it isn't some sort of cumulative process. Just. so. you. know.

On a very serious note, we could use some major heavy duty prayers offered up for this situation. I know one way or another this is going to work out just fine. Even if I end up birthing this baby in the bathtub at home. Which, when compared to another $12,000 C-section, is looking like a distinct possibility.

At least I'll have plenty of blogging material, right?

Friday, September 11, 2009

I remember...

I remember 8 years ago today. I will never forget.

Photo Credit:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Love.

This boy has stolen my heart. Just like my two girls have.

With all my crazy stories about my kids, I don't get to say this enough. My kids? I love them.

And just in case they ever look back and read these blog posts and wonder if I think it is all worth it? I do. One hundred thousand times over.





Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Right of Passage

On our trip to Indiana we decided to have fun with hair scissors and give Ivy some bangs. I thought they turned out adorable. Ivy, well, she didn't quite agree. And so she was introduced to the right of passage every girl must experience: Regretting your bangs.

**Sorry for the terrible picture quality. My camera settings have gone all wonky and these pics turned out terrible. But, I couldn't resist documenting the occasion.**



For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

Top Ten Tuesday: Things I don't mind buying generic

I'm totally into saving money lately. I use coupons, shop sales, and buy generic. There are some things I just refuse to buy generic (toilet paper and *ahem* Coca-Cola products) and some things that I've found are just as good whether it is generic or name brand. So, without further ado, here's my list of things that work just as good when you buy them generic.

1. Medicine - Whether they are generic over the counter meds, the $4 generics from store pharmacies or the deeply discounted drugs from Costco I've found that generic medicines work just as well and save me lots of $$$.

2. Pull-ups - (Notice I didn't say diapers.) I have a habit of trying generic diapers once per kid. With each of mine I've given generic baby diapers a shot and realized each time that they just aren't for me. Pull-ups on the other hand? Those I ONLY buy generic (unless by some miracle the others are cheaper) and I've never had a complaint.

3. Pantry Staples - Things like bread, butter, flour, sugar, cream cheese and other essentials always taste the same way to me whether they are generic or name brand.

4. Cleaning supplies - Though I mostly use my non-toxic Vinegar cleaning products, if the need for something more heavy duty arises I've found that in most cases the generic works just as well as any name brand.

5. Apple juice - There was a time when I would shell out big bucks for the special "baby" apple juice. I was convinced that my kid's couldn't drink regular apple juice. But have you ever looked at the ingredients? They are totally the same. The only difference? One is much harder on your wallet. So, generic it is for apple juice. Now, other juices (like V-8 Fusion!) are another story altogether...

6. Diaper & Toddler wipes - These go along with the pull-ups I guess, but I've never seen the point of paying extra for wipes when most store brands are just as good. With the exception of one gas station brand that felt so much like sandpaper that I had to throw them away, most store brand wipes work really well!

7. Cereal - Unless it is on sale or I have some great coupons I mostly buy the generic store brand cereal. The taste is identical and the only difference I've found is what's on the front of the box.

8. Canned & Frozen Vegetables - Unless I'm specifically seeking out organic I don't see the point. When you compare regular veggies, name brand vs. generic store brand I just don't see a difference.

9. Pregnancy tests - But, I've already told you all about that, right?

10. Anything from Target - Be it their Up & Up brand or Archer Farms, I almost always reach for the Target brand when shopping there. (That is unless it's toilet paper, baby diapers or Coca-Cola, of course!)

So, that's my list. Now, head over to Oh Amanda's for more Top Ten Tuesday fun!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

And he's not even crawling yet!

Traveler took the car out cruising for hot chicks this weekend. This kid is so advanced.

For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

Top Ten Tuesday: Kid's Books We're Reading This Month

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I've been meaning to join the Top Ten Tuesday fun over at Oh Amanda's for a while and finally got inspired today! So, here it is. The Top Ten Kid's Books we're reading at the Loving house this month:

1. Goldilicious, by Victoria Kann - We're big fans of Pinkalicious so this one was a no-brainer. It's particularly popular with my girls because it's all about an imaginary friend and since we're currently overrun with imaginary friends around here it's one we can all relate to!

2. The Story About Ping, by Marjorie Flack & Kurt Wiese - We're doing Five in a Row as part of our homeschool curriculum and this was the first book in the volume we started with. The story has a great little moral to it and when coupled with the FIAR curriculum has so much that can be learned from it. We're learning all about China, boats, ducks & more!

3. How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague - Have I mentioned my girls love dinosaurs? They also love this series of books! This one is perfect for us since we're learning all about being in a classroom & what it means to behave at school. Plus, it's such a cute rhyming story that it is super fun to read out loud.

4. & 5. Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? and Fox in Socks, by Dr. Seuss - Not that I ever need an excuse to bring out the beloved Dr. Seuss, but we're trying to focus on rhyming books this month as part of our phonics curriculum. And who better to do that with than Dr. Seuss? Not to mention, the girls think it is hilarious to see me all tongue tied reading Fox in Socks!

6. A Tree for Emmy, by Mary Ann Rodman - This one is probably one of my top favorite kid's books ever. The illustrations (by Tatjana Mai-Wyss) are beautiful and the story is so charming. Emmy makes for an adorable and spunky main character and one who (like the tree she loves so much) is "stubborn, strong, and a little bit wild." It's a new family favorite!

7. Class Two at the Zoo, by Julia Jarman - You might have already noticed, but I'm a sucker for cute rhyming books. This one falls in that category. It's a funny little story about an anaconda on the loose at the zoo and the rhyming makes it one of those books I just love to read. The girls think the story is hilarious and since we're trying to reinforce the concept of rhyming it's a fun one to read this month.

8. Little Pea, by Amy Rosenthal - This book is precious! It's all about how poor little pea is forced to finish all of his candy before he can eat the good stuff (like spinach!). It was given to us last year by a good friend but we've recently picked it back up because we've got ourselves a seriously picky eater (Ivy) and we thought this book would be perfect for her. I love the illustrations ( by Jen Corace) and the story just adorable to read.

9. Skippyjon Jones in the Dog House, by Judy Schachner - If you haven't read the Skippyjon Jones stories you are missing out! These stories of this little Siamese cat suffering from an identity crisis are among our favorites. Skippyjon Jones thinks he's a Chihuahua and has quite the imagination. It's definitely one of those books I enjoy reading as much as the kids!

10. The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis - You might be thinking it's a little too grown up for a 5 and 3-year-old, but the girls did so well with Despereaux we thought we'd give another big chapter book a try. They've already made it through the 1st book, The Magician's Nephew, last month and are on to The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe now. The best part? Their daddy is the one who reads it to them before bed so they get lots of good quality daddy time while hearing a great story!

So that's what we're reading this month. What's on your bookshelf right now?

Plan Toys from Ebeanstalk: Review


When the folks at Ebeanstalk offered to send me a toy to review I was intruiged. Because my kids? They are tough on toys.

Ebeanstalk is a really cool site that I was familiar with long before they ever contacted me to review toys. It has big selection of quality kids toys with unique things you won't find other places. The toy they ended up sending me, the Activity Bus from Plan Toys couldn't have been more perfect to send our way. And it was much needed on the day they sent it because it kept the girls busy and gave me no less than one full uninterrupted hour of peace. Perfection!

More and more I've been trying to buy old-fashioned toys. You know the kind. The ones made of wood with quality parts. Ones that don't require AAA batteries or complicated instructions to play with. Which is why I loved this toy.

Plan Toys are great because they're wood toys and incredibly well made. They're green, educational, and (most importantly) fun! The bus was adorable and turned into a classroom, too, so it was multi-functioning. It actually reminded me a lot of the Waldorf style toys (though more colorful) because it allowed for more imaginative play than some of the plastic loud sing-song toys that have only one way to play with them.

The girls loved the little people, the desks, and all the possibilities the bus offered. I loved that the toy was one I could feel good about the kids playing with. Actually, I'm anxiously waiting on them to add infant toys to their line so I can pick up a few for Trav to play with!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Firsts.

Last week was a big week of firsts. So big I didn't have the chance to blog them. Luckily I did remember to capture them on film.

Kai's first day of Kindergarten:



First Daisy Scout Meeting:


I'm officially the mom of a Kindergartener & a Daisy Scout. How did my baby girl suddenly get so big?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Kai-versations: She does have a point.

The other night at dinner it was Kai's turn to pray for the food.

"Dear God -

Please keep giving us lots and lots of great stuff. And also, God, please could you change the words for tomato and potato to something else? Like, I don't know, whatever you want. Just not tomato and potato because, God, that is really starting to get confusing to me. Thank you.

Amen."
--

Honestly, I couldn't contain my giggles at the table...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And Speaking of Dinosaurs...

**These pictures of the event brought to you by my fantastic 5-year-old blogging assistant, Kai.**

Though my girls already loooved them some Dinosaurs, our trip to Dinosaur World seemed to amp it up to another level. Which is why last weekend when we got the chance to take the girls out to Dinosaurs & Donuts to check out the exciting new things coming to GPB during Dinosaur Week (September 13th-18th) it was perfect timing!

We got a chance to screen the new show Dinosaur Train, from The Jim Henson Company, that will be debuting during Dinosaur Week. We're big fans of GPB anyways because they make me feel much less guilty about the time we do end up spending in front of the TV and my girls LOVED this newest show! If you've got kids who are into Dinosaurs in the least little bit you (and they) will be excited about this newest show. Be sure to check it out during Dinosaur Week at 9 AM and 10:30 AM and then at its regular time weekdays at 8:30 AM!

And if your kids are as into Dinosaurs as mine are, they'll love the upcoming Dinosaur Week because all their favorite shows will be featuring Dinosaur themed episodes. See what I mean? Educational and distracting enough that you can take a shower while you're kids are enjoying cartoons about their favorite subject. Thank you GPB. I might never be able to take a shower in peace and quiet if it weren't for your programming!

Thanks again to the folks at GPB for the chance to come out and have some fun while previewing this cool new show!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dinosaur World!

We made an unexpected stop at Dinosaur World in Kentucky last week because we just couldn't resist. I think the pics speak for themselves...






For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

Oh, Indiana.

Here's a list of the most memorable moments from our recent trip to the great state of Indiana.

1. Forgetting a razor and shaving my legs with shaving cream, a baby wipe, and the sharpest razor known to (wo)mankind in the parking lot of Scott's grocery store minutes before I went to meet my great aunts. Yes, I really am that classy.

2. The moment where I realized we'd left the hotel for dinner with a child with no shoes, a child who had not buttoned her pants and was flashing the lobby, and a stinky baby who'd just spit up all over me. Oh, yeah, and we'd forgotten the room key inside the room.

3. The Great Midwestern Monsoon of 2009 in which Indiana got 6 inches of rain all in the 20 minutes it took us to load the children from the Cracker Barrel into the minivan.

4. The screaming & crying episode that took place at the table in the local greasy spoon the minute Ivy realized she had to "Poooooppppyyyy" really badly and would be forced to use the world's nastiest bathroom. You haven't lived until you've had 75 strangers stare at you while your 3-year-old screams about poop.

5. Driving down a remote farm road surrounded by miles and miles of corn on our way to an "American Girl Doll Clothing Store" that turned out to be in someone's converted garage. Once we worked up the nerve to go in we were shocked to see 400 pairs of doll shoes, several hundred handmade outfits, dolls, furniture and more! That was one crafty and talented lady!

6. Eating at Cracker Barrel 10 times in 5 days. Okay, maybe it was more like 7 times. But it felt like 15 times.

7. Stopping at Dinosaur World in Kentucky on our way home. I'm saving those pics for my Wordless Wednesday!

8. Realizing that 90 is the new 40 after meeting my mom's friend, Fern. She had more energy at 90 than most people do in middle age.

9. Discovering that the further North we go the more Southern my accent becomes. It's like I turned into Brenda Lee Johnson the moment we crossed into Indiana.

10. Perfecting the skill of nursing a screaming baby who is buckled securely in a car seat while someone else drives just so we don't lose time on the road. I'm sure there are quite a few fellow travelers we shared the road with who wish they could unsee that sight.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I swear I'm not making these up.

I'm working on a post documenting our ridiculous adventure across the great state of Indiana. We had such a good time though it was (of course) not lacking in "the crazy." More to come on that tomorrow.

In the meantime, I just checked my stats and couldn't resist sharing a list of the most ridiculous searches that ultimately led weirdos to my blog. (No offense if you're one of the weirdos who found me this way. But, really?)

"I am capable of keeping secrets from you." - Ooookaaaay.

"I wish someone would shoot me." - You're scary.

"Amazing swear word combinations." - My mother will be so proud.

"What does Kai smell like?" - Hmmm, it just depends on the day.

"Maternity pants falling down panties." Yeah. I know all about that.

"I breastfeed and my breast pads smell like chicken." - Oh, honey. #1. I'm so sorry to hear that. And #2. That's waaaay too much information.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I'm not here.

I'm taking a quick (unplanned) break from blogging for the week. My mom and I drove up to Indiana with the kids to visit some family and while I'd planned to blog up here it turns out our Wi-fi has been spotty so I'm just gonna wait and fill you all in on the fun we've had when I get back.

I will say this - Indiana may never be the same after we leave. Poor Indiana. They never saw it coming.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Our wild date night.

What makes for an interesting date night?

Sweaty bodies. A little rope. A mysterious stranger. And...a tow truck.

We were barely 5 miles from home and delighting in our plans to eat dinner with no kids and maybe (if we were really lucky) head to the bookstore when it happened. Woody (Thomas' "new" car) got tired and decided to take a break. In the middle of the road. In 6 o'clock traffic.

So there we were sitting in the middle of the fast lane trying to figure out what the heck is going on with the car. We started freaking out and panicking (Okay, that was just me doing that part, but still.) and ended up trying to push the car out of the way. Imagine the scene. There we are sweating in the sweltering summer heat with people honking, cars swerving recklessly around us, drivers nearly careening into the back of us because they weren't paying attention. Then the next thing I know this huge white pick-up truck comes swerving right in front of me. And I do what any gracious Christian girl in this situation would do. I lay on the horn. Hard. Because what kind of jerk does that kind of thing, right?

Turns out it was the kind of jerk who was pulling in front of us in his big huge (shiny & new) truck to hook a rope to our bumper and pull us out of the way. When will I ever learn?

Our angel, who's name was Ben, had just bought rope for no apparent reason the other day. He just thought it might someday come in handy. And boy did it. He tied that rope to our bumper and pulled us through traffic to the nearest parking lot. God bless that man.

Thankfully my sister (who was babysitting the kids for us) was able to load everyone into the minivan and rescue us from being stranded. She also got to experience the ultimate form of birth control: loading three kids into a messy minivan. (Thanks, Tara!)

I could be upset about everything but because of this interesting turn of events we got to meet an awesome good samaritan (Thanks, Ben!) and a really friendly and wonderful AAA tow truck operator (Thanks, Will!) and got to experience a much more adventurous evening than we could ever have planned on our own.

Despite the broken down car, the ruined date night, and all the hassle of towing the car back to our house, the most disappointing part was that I failed to get photographic documentation of this little adventure. Apparently I'm not as committed to being a good blogger as I thought!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Blast from the past.

It is amazing how thin young well-rested I looked before kids. Anyone know any tricks for getting a little of that back?



For more Wordless Wednesday head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

Please check all that apply.

In case you hadn't noticed, Thomas and I are an interracial couple. Which means we have biracial kids. (This is groundbreaking stuff, no?)

And mostly I don't really notice. We are who we are.

Recently, though, I was filling out some paperwork for Kai. And it included the usual (and of course totally optional) racial/ethnic questions.

Now, in case you were wondering, Thomas' racial background is as follows: Japanese, Hawaiian, Puerto Rican, Black, Cherokee, & Choctaw. Oh, yeah, and Irish.

So, when it comes time to fill out paper work for my kids and I have to check all that apply I can check nearly every box on the page. But you know which one I always leave blank? White.

And I never even realized it until the other day.

It kind of freaked me out. I'm not sure what to make of it. On the one hand, I feel silly checking it since they are so obviously brown skinned. But I'm white. So they're at least half white, right?

This realization may partly be a reaction to watching the documentary "Prom Night in Mississippi" the other day. It chronicles a small Mississippi town's efforts to hold it's first integrated prom. In 2008.

It made me wonder, if we lived in that town which prom would my kids be "allowed" to attend? Thomas said they'd be a part of the "Black Prom." He said white people (particularly in the south) simply associate anyone brown with being African Americans.

Which is obvious when you consider all of the talk about America electing it's first Black President. Wasn't Obama's mother white? So at the very least wouldn't that make him the first bi-racial president? (Something that bothered me like crazy during the election even though I'm guilty of it in my own family. Irony. I haz it.)

It's as if we all believe that what you see is what you get. Which, at best, is ignorant. And, at worst, is racist. And something I (someone who is 1/2 of a interracial couple and the mother of 3 biracial kids) am guilty of.

I don't like realizing that very much.

I mean, clearly I'm not a hostile racist. (Duh.) But, I have apparently bought into the idea that what you see on the outside is what you are on the inside. And that it is that which defines who you are. An idea that is disturbing even outside the context of race.

Our Bible study has been reading through the book of James lately. And the 2nd chapter discusses judgment. Specifically how we are not to judge others. Which led to a fight discussion between Thomas and I the other night. You see, we have this house in our neighborhood. We call it the "stinky armpit house." "Stinky Armpit" being code for Registered Sex Offender. Because, well, a registered sex offender lives there and I don't want to use that term and freak out the kids.

In all fairness I should mention that the offender is registered with a very vague and seemingly minor crime. But still. It freaks me out. And I sit in judgement over the people in that house every time I drive by. Because I'm a hypocrite. And I apparently think I'm perfect. Thomas says (and I hate it when he's right) that I should focus on keeping our kids safe from the scary people, both registered and unregistered, and not appoint myself judge of the entire neighborhood.

It seems I'm guilty of doing this all over the place. I judge people based on what I see when I look at them. It's not always in a negative way. Sometimes simply in a categorizing way. But still. It's not a good thing. And, to further this theme of irony, it is something I most fear others doing with me. If you were on Twitter the other night you would have seen me tweet, "Heading to the Christian Homeschool Daisy Scout Orientation. Better wear extra Christiany clothes to distract from the tattoos." Do you see that? It's me judging people for being the type of people who will judge me before I even get the chance to meet them. I told you I'm an expert hypocrite. (BTW, they were nice. And didn't even seem to notice the tattoos. Which also means I'm kind of a jerk.)

All this very much makes me realize what a work in progress I am. And I hate being a work in progress.

So here's the thing. (And you're gonna love this.) I have no resolution to this post. I have no great way to tie it up and close it. I could say I'm vowing to stop looking at the outside of people tomorrow and pay attention only to their insides but that would be disingenuous. Because I've been doing this too long to simply say I've turned over a new leaf and I'll never sit in judgment again.

What I will say is that I am going to be more aware of how I see people. That I'm going to check my heart before I form opinions about people. And that I'm going to pray that God will let me see people as He sees them. Because if I can learn to do that then all the other labels go away. And the only box I'll have to worry about checking off is human.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The post in which I profess my love of Vinegar...

Here's how it happened. Traveler, my dear sweet goofy face making boy, will not let me put him down during the day. So, I wear him in a sling. And carry him on my hip. But my little stowaway makes cleaning the house a bit complicated.

My biggest concern was the fumes. Nearly every product I used caused these awful caustic fumes and I refused to use them with Trav (or the girls) around. And I wanted to buy Shaklee, but I am too stinking impatient to order something and wait to get it. So after a Twitter poll the other day my Twitter/Blog friend Mama Hall recommended Vinegar. Which immediately intrigued me. So I did some research and it turns out (though I may be the only person who didn't already know this) that Vinegar is a great cleaning product. And cheap.

The next thing I knew I was in the kitchen concocting cleaning solutions to use around the house. And after having used them for the last couple weeks I must say, they are AWESOME! And totally cute in their little mason jars and pretty spray bottles. Very charming. Maybe even a bit Little House on the Prairie.

So, I thought I'd share my recipes (I came up with these spending two days searching on the internet so I don't really have a source to credit. But, in the interest of full disclosure, just know they aren't my invention.) and you can use them or Google others or recommend some to me that you've used.

All Purpose Cleaner:

Spray Bottle
1 part Vinegar
1 part Water

This All-Purpose Cleaner is awesome. I used it to clean my counters and refrigerator one minute and then turned around and used it on Traveler's exersaucer the next. I didn't have to worry about any harmful residue or fumes. Later, I was able to spray it on the girls wet hair to help remove the chlorine residue from swimming before washing it. It's truly multipurpose!

Disinfectant:

Spray Bottle
1/2 C Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Tea Tree Oil
1/4 C Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Seventh Generation Unscented detergent
10 drops Sweet Orange essential oil
fill remainder of bottle with water

Mix the ingredients together (don't forget Vinegar + Baking Soda makes fizzy foam so be careful when mixing!) and shake bottle well. Use anywhere you need to clean and disinfect. It works great at cleaning shower stalls and bathroom areas.

Abrasive Scrub:

Medium sized Mason Jar
1/4 Cup Baking Soda
Seventh Generation Unscented detergent

Put the Baking Soda in a bowl and add the detergent until the mixture has the consistency of cake frosting. Then put in a mason jar and seal. You can add a few drops of Olive Oil to keep the mixture moist. Use for cleaning the oven, bathtubs, or anywhere you need a scrub.

Swiffer Hack:

I added a mixture of 1/3 C Vinegar and 2/3 C Water (You can use 2/3 C Vinegar and 1/3 C Olive Oil for more of a polish) and a few drops of Sweet Orange essential oil to my Swiffer WetJet. Here's how.

Completely use up all of the Swiffer WetJet Cleaning solution. Make small hole in the top of the container. Using a very small funnel (or I use a turkey injector without the needle) add the solution to the bottle. Then apply a small piece of duct tape over the top to keep it sealed. That way you can keep the convenience of the WetJet but have a healthier & less expensive cleaning solution to use with it!

Thanks again to Mama Hall for opening my eyes to a new cleaning product! 

So there you have it! My new obsession. Got any recipes for cleaning products you've used in your house? Feel free to leave them or links to them in the comments!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Crazy bossy big sisters say whuuut?

Traveler has the best goofy expressions of any of our babies. I can't wait to see what he's capable of when he actually tries to be silly!


And as a bonus, here's what Ivy looks like after a day of swimming. The girl refuses to let me put her hair in a "pono" to keep it out of her face.

For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The real difference between boys & girls. Besides, of course, the obvious.

I know I've only been the mom to a little boy for about 4 months or so. But in that short time I've managed to notice one glaring difference between Trav and my girls as babies.

You see, my son loves to be naked. Loves it. I'm not one of those moms who ever really let their kids run around naked. Not because I think it's bad or anything, but I've always been too lazy to clean up whatever messes resulted in spending time diaper-free. Traveler, I'm afraid, is going to break that streak. 'Cause the child is only happy naked.

Now, I've heard tales of boys who strip off their clothes at the most inopportune times (Chik-Fil-A playground? Enough said.) I hear it is a boy thing - this love of their, ahem, "natural" state of dress. But, I thought it was something that happened when boys turned 2 or so. Apparently, not so much.

By and large, Trav is an ideal baby. Aside from the desire to be in my arms or in a sling 24/7 he is easy to deal with. But he has his moments. And when he's grouchy or crying or totally inconsolable I started doing what every mom does. I fed him to see if he was hungry. I rocked him to see if he was sleepy. I changed him to see if he was dirty. And that is when I discovered it.

Because the moment this child's diaper comes off he's quiet. And happy. He throws his little arms behind his head all Burt Reynold's style and basks in his nakedness. Which is why nearly every day I end up stripping him down naked and letting him hang out in his crib for a while. It's the only way to combat the middle of the day crankiness that he's developed.

I've determined that this is one very important difference in boys and girls. Maybe one they never grow out of. Because when I told my husband about Traveler's favorite state of (un)dress he said, "Of course he does. Being naked is awesome."

And that, my friends, I just don't get. Being naked is drafty. Being naked is inconvenient. Being naked is (at the wrong times) embarrassing. But, awesome? That is not a reality I am acquainted with.

I'm still a bit uncomfortable with the whole thing. After all, I've never had a baby that insisted on being au naturale. My girls never cared about being naked. Still don't care for it really. This little guy, though, he thinks it's the cat's pajamas. And if it keeps him happy, quiet, & content I'll indulge him.

Let's just hope he outgrows it before...oh, you know, middle school. Though based on his father's apparent (unbeknown to me) fondness for nakedness it looks like I may be in for years of this...

Monday, August 3, 2009

It's Cash for Clunkers. Except backward.


We have been a one car family for a little over a year. We decided last June to wait on buying a new car until we found one we liked that we could get without a payment.

Fast forward 13 months and we finally decided we were ready for another car. I don't know if it was my attitude or our life changes (adding a newborn makes things complicated!) but I was suddenly totally over the whole one car family thing. Waking up early and loading three littles into a car every morning to drop daddy off at MARTA started getting to me. And since I'm not so good at the whole waking up early thing, Thomas nearly always got into work later than he wanted to.

So this weekend, when the rest of the country was turning in their clunkers for cash we used our cash to buy a clunker of our own.

Meet Woody. He gets horrible gas mileage (thank goodness he only has to drive 5 miles to MARTA) and he's a bit quirky, but he is exactly the car Thomas has been wanting for a while. So, he's happy. I'm happy. And tomorrow I'm planning to enjoy the extra hour of sleep that I get by not making a trip to the bus station.

Clunkers FTW!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

He's in for years of torture.

Don't believe me? Take a look at the evidence...


Kindergarten Readiness: A rant.

Kai is scheduled to start real Kindergarten next month. And I've got all of the usual mommy worries about Kindergarten. Add into that the fact that we suspect Kai is dyslexic (not just me, but our pediatrician as well & there is a family history of it) and I've been really nervous about the whole thing.

But, my girl is super smart. Okay, I know every mom thinks their kids are smart. So, whatever. But she is. For real.

Still she had to take the Gesell Assessment before Kindergarten enrollment. And I was freaking out. In my mind I built it up to be more like a test of my parenting of her. Did she learn enough from me? Did I do a good job raising her? This test would give me the answers.

What it gave me was even more questions. About education. About childhood development. About whether or not I could even hack being a parent of an elementary school kid.

Kai was ecstatic about the test. She loved the teacher (who was awesome!) and the questions she got to answer. I felt at ease about the whole thing. I just knew Kai had "aced" the test. The test that meant I was a wonderful, outstanding perfect parent of this precious 5 year (and 2 months) old girl.

(I should mention that I do know that this was a developmental test. That there was no way to "ace" it. I'm just being honest about that scary competitive streak that lies deep within me.)


Then we got the results. Kai, despite being 5 years 2 months old, supposedly had the developmental age of a 4 1/2 year-old.

No. Way.

Because she can tell me how many continents there are. And name them all on a map. She converses with adults better than she does with kids sometimes. And she uses words like marvelous and glorious and conundrum (and she knows what they mean). She asks big huge questions about God, the universe and everything in between. She can remember the most minute details from trips we took 2 years ago. And she never forgets a face. She's a creative problem solver. A brilliant (and persuasive) debater. She is unwavering when she sets her mind to something.

But...

She has only just now picked which hand she writes with. She can write her name but not as well as her 5-year-old counterparts. And sometimes she writes it as a mirror image. Not backwards, but a complete mirror image. She is clumsy with a pencil and unsure of herself when writing letters. And this, it seems, makes her developmentally 4 1/2 years old.

I was told to enroll her in Kindergarten "with caution." If I listened to the test I'd have to wait until she's almost 6 1/2 years old. And, folks, that just isn't happening.

Here's the list of skills required for a Kindegarten student:

* Listen to stories without interrupting
* Recognize rhyming sounds
* Pay attention for short periods of time to adult-directed tasks
* Understand actions have both causes and effects
* Show understanding of general times of day
* Cut with scissors
* Trace basic shapes
* Begin to share with others
* Start to follow rules
* Be able to recognize authority
* Manage bathroom needs
* Button shirts, pants, coats, and zip up zippers
* Begin to control oneself
* Separate from parents without being upset
* Speak understandably
* Talk in complete sentences of five to six words
* Look at pictures and then tell stories
* Identify rhyming words
* Identify the beginning sound of some words
* Identify some alphabet letters
* Recognize some common sight words like "stop"
* Sort similar objects by color, size, and shape
* Recognize groups of one, two, three, four, and five objects
* Count to ten
* Bounce a ball

I can give her a big fat check mark beside each of those. And yet the "problems" she had with the test were that she couldn't write her last name for the teacher, had trouble writing some of her numbers, and held her pencil clumsily. I mean, since when did kids need to be writing academic papers to get into Kindergarten?

I know Kindergarten now isn't the way it used to be. It isn't about playing and learning how the world works through fun. To use one friend's description of it, Kindergarten today is "intense." Seven hour school days. Homework four nights a week. Five sentence paragraphs by the end of the year. Intense.

But I can't help but wonder if much of this is an attempt to beef up the test scores in an educational system that fails many of its students? And if forcing kids to fit into narrow guidelines contributes to that failure? I wonder if Einstein would have been able to fit so neatly into a box? I'm not saying my girl is Einstein (and I'm definitely not saying she couldn't be), but I am saying that defining a child's ability to learn with such narrow testing leaves out some very intelligent kids.

This whole experience totally reinforced my belief that homeschool was going to be the best fit for Kai. By schooling her at home we'll have the chance to work at her pace. She can do Kindergarten reading and writing and Second grade science if that is what she needs. She'll have the chance to participate in subjects to the extent that she is ready and capable while being challenged in a way that encourages confidence and security in her own abilities.

So she's enrolling in a local homeschool academy one day a week despite the warnings that she may not be ready for the big bad world of Kindergarten. Because I know she is ready. And I know that if I wait a year and enroll her at the age of 6 1/2 she'll be bored out of her mind.

But I've learned something very important here. That I am my daughter's strongest and best advocate. That I know her capabilities better than any test ever can. And that I'm going to have to be vigilant in fighting that she get what she needs from others because no one else will.

(Updated to add: I thought I might need to clarify that on the test she scored in the 5 1/2 - 6 year range on everything BUT the writing portions. Her verbal, social, & categorizing/matching skills all placed her in the older range. But, since the test was so heavily influenced by the writing they averaged her age out to be 4 1/2 years.)


I guess that's just one more thing that goes along with being a mom. Now, let's just hope I'm as right as I think I am.

In the meantime, I'd love to know about how others handle similar situations. Have you had to fight on your child's behalf for the treatment they deserved? Any tips for the rest of us?

Friday, July 24, 2009

My Mom Box


I have dreams of being one of those moms who is prepared for anything. The mom who carries in her diaper bag every item she needs for any situation in which her kids need her. Changes of clothes, diapers, wipes, food, drinks, medicine, emergency sewing kit, etc. You know the type. Heck, you may even be the type. If you've spent more than 2 minutes on this blog, though, you know I'm not that type. I just can't ever seem to get it together that way.

But, I'm trying.

One of the things I've decided to keep with me is a "Mom Box." My goal with this box is to have everything I need for every bump, bruise, teething pain, and episode of colic. And my goal is to do it as naturally as possible.

So, behold the box.


The contents are:

Triaminic Decongestant Spray (for runny noses)
Florastor (for diarrhea and stomach upset)
Band-aids (Because I need those for my kids daily)
Neosporin (see above)
Saline nose drops
Hyland's Bumps & Bruises Ointment

And then the homeopathic medicines from Hyland's:

Aconitum Napellus (colds & fevers)
Arnica Montana (bruising & muscle soreness)
Belladonna (fevers & inflammations)
Chamomilla (teething & irritability)
Ferrum Phosphoricum (fevers & inflammations)
Hepar Sulph. C. (cough & runny nose)

And let me say something about these Hyland's tablets if you're unfamiliar with them. (I swear this is not a sponsored post!) I have used the teething tablets with all my kids and they work miracles. Seriously.

So, I thought maybe their other remedies would work too. And they really, really do. Don't get me wrong. I haven't totally abandoned conventional medicine. But, if I can try a homeopathic remedy first I will. I just feel better about putting something a bit more natural in our bodies as a first choice.

These things are awesome. I've used them with all the kids for a variety of problems and I've had better success than with more traditional medicines in most cases. The Chamomilla soothes Trav better than Tylenol or Orajel ever has. The Aconite has relieved his colic & gas pains better than Mylicon has been able to. Plus, they can be used by grown-ups, too.

I am in love with this kit. And I love having just one little kit that gets me a step closer to being that mom who is prepared for everything and anything. Even if I do end up forgetting diapers & wipes nearly every time we leave the house.

So, what about you? What tricks do you have to help you stay prepared for the unexpected?

(Oh, and BTW, this Mom Box is in the $1.96 pencil box I bought at Wal-mart. Think it was worth all the trouble?)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Littlest Outlaw

Or, "Mom is this hat really necessary?"

For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom and 7 Clown Circus!

Dear Wal-mart, We are so over. Love, me.

It has been about a year since I last shopped at Wal-mart. A year since I became so fed up with their desperately lacking customer service that I walked out their doors never to return. Until yesterday.

I should have known I was in trouble after my experience in the parking lot. Nearly every parking place I attempted to pull into was surrounded by a flock of abandoned carts. The person or persons in charge of making sure renegade carts didn't take over their lot apparently called in sick yesterday. And judging by the level of cleanliness in the store I bet I could guess where he got sick.

But, I was looking for cheap fabric and tacky candles so I persevered through the parking lot obstacle course. And once inside I thought to myself, "Look at these great deals! Why don't I shop here anymore?" Never fear, though, the employees of Wal-mart would soon remind me why.

The fabric was a strike-out because apparently my Wal-mart has stopped carrying fabric. To make up for that disappointment, I found some school supplies I had left off my list for Kai's new class. And with two preschoolers and a newborn I walked all the way across the store and up to the cashier. And here's where it gets good.

I managed to pick up a pencil box that (GASP!) didn't have a bar code on it. Silly me didn't think to double check. Upon failing to ring it up the cashier rudely barked out, "It don't have a price." Ummm...okay.

Me: "Is there a way to look it up? I think it was a little less then $2."

Cashier: "It has to have a bar code." And then dead silence and blank stares ensued.

Oookaaay.

Me: "So what should I do?"

Cashier: "IT HAS TO HAVE A BAR CODE."

Honestly, I was beginning to think the self-checkout stands had better problem solving skills than this lady.

Me: "So, seriously, should I go get one or what?"

At this point, there was a long line forming behind me and I wasn't sure what she wanted me to do. Though I suspect she wanted me to tell her to forget about it and just not buy the item in question. But, I wasn't leaving that store without my (not totally necessary) $1.96 pencil box. Not a chance.

After she gave me yet another blank stare I took my cart, my preschoolers, and my newly screaming baby all the way across this mammoth store to grab another pencil box of a completely different color to have her ring it up. I swear I prayed all the way back that the keypad question would be "Was your cashier friendly today?" so I could pound NOOOOO into it. (God answered that prayer. Thank you very much.)

And guess what? She was totally thrown off and rudely barked out, "Well, which one of them do you want? The first one you got or the second one?"

I couldn't even look at her at this point. The line behind me was building up and she was clearly not capable of basic reasoning skills. I told her which I wanted (the one I initially picked out of course!) and paid for my items. At which point she gave me one of my bags and kept the other in the bag carousel closest to her and totally out of my reach. After an unsuccessful attempt to reach the bag (and, you guessed it, yet another blank stare) I actually had to ask her to please hand me the bag.

I have never been happier to leave a store in my life. And (this time I really, really mean this) I will never return. Ever.

So, Wal-mart, thanks for helping me realize that I'm actually willing to pay a higher price to shop at a store where walking through the doors doesn't fill me with dread and loathing. I'm sure Target appreciates you guaranteeing that I'm a customer of theirs for life.

Last night after I finished writing this post and scheduled it to publish I discovered two recent stories of Wal-mart dissatisfaction in my Google Reader. Check out what ohmommy & Jo-Lynne have to say about their Wal-mart disasters.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kai-versations: This sad, small, lonely house.


We found a home for the chicks at the beginning of this week. And Kai was absolutely devastated. In all fairness, she was like their foster mom. She fed them every day. Made sure they had water. And diligently checked the temperature in their brooder to make sure they were warm enough. So, in a way, they were her babies.

But I just couldn't have them living in my dining room forever and we eventually had to find them a home. We ended up selling them to my college friend's grandfather (via Twitter) and she came to pick them up. Kai bravely put each chick in the box and said goodbye, but the moment they were out of the house she broke down in tears.

And by tears I mean hysterical gut-wrenching sobs. For an hour.

When I finally got her to calm down I asked her why she was so upset and she said, "Because without those baby chicks we're just a sad, small, lonely house now. We have nothing here to keep us company. All we've got is 3 kids, 12 chickens, a rooster and a dog!"

Ah, yes. That sounds lonely indeed.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sure she looks sweet, but...

this is the same girl who made him wear a plastic bowl on his head while he was trapped in the exersaucer yesterday. So, beware the cute older sister. They're never as sweet as they look. (Take it from someone who knows.)


For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

If at first you don't succeed, try laziness...

Alternately titled: How I Potty Trained My 2nd Born Child

When Ivy was in school last year her teacher encouraged me to potty train her. I thought it was too early (she was not quite 2 and a half) but because I'm eager to please I complied. I sent her to school in panties. And she had a few accidents every day for a while but eventually she was mostly successful at being potty trained.

Then in October I took her out of school. And being pregnant, exhausted, and (if I'm honest) a little lazy I put her in pull-ups to avoid having to clean up accidents during the day. I still encouraged her to use the potty but the presence of pull-ups lead to her regression into the not-even-remotely-potty-trained stage.

And I didn't care. Because I think it is easier to have a kid in diapers with a new baby than one who is teetering precariously on the edge of being potty trained. I know what you're thinking. But, I'd rather change a diaper than my sofa slipcover. Again. Apparently, though, other people cared. And I got some concerned inquiries into when I was going to start potty training again. I always said I'd tackle it when she turned 3. And then she turned 3. But the process was so overwhelming to me that I just couldn't stick with it. Plus my pediatrician said as long as she was potty trained by the end of summer I'd be fine. I was more than prepared to put it off until the end of summer. Or the beginning of Kindergarten. Whichever.

Then about a month ago, Ivy came up to me and said she needed to go potty. Which was nothing new since she'd been half-heartedly doing this all along. But she did it throughout the day. And the next day. And the next.

So I pulled out the Disney and Nick, Jr. panty collection and prepared myself for the weeks and weeks of accidents that would come next. But they didn't. In fact, in one month the only accident we have had was one where she fell asleep for the night without a pull-up on and woke up wet because she couldn't hold it through the night. Other than that? We've been gold.

It was so easy. So completely natural. And so much less painful than the 6 month process I put Kai through just so I could say my 2-year-old was potty trained. God bless her.

With Ivy, I took the lazy way out. And for once it actually paid off.

What potty training tips worked like magic for you? **Bonus points awarded if you give me tips for training boys to file away for when I have to train Trav!**

Sunday, July 12, 2009

It's like Green Acres without the sparkly Gabor sister


Did I mention we hatched a bunch of baby chicks last week? Oh, we did. And they are too cute. Though not cute enough for me to consider keeping them. But, cute nonetheless.

Last week we got home from a birthday party and Thomas went out to collect eggs and ta-da! 12 baby chicks were staring at him from the nesting box. We lost one to an unfortunate water bowl drowning incident but the rest are residing comfortably in their brooder our dining room. (No, I'm not kidding.)

Did you ever know someone who had chickens in their dining room? Well, you do now...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Three Musketeers


For more Wordless Wednesday head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

I'm Tackling a Mountain (of Laundry, that is) **Giveaway**

If there is one domestic chore I am terrible at staying on top of it's laundry. If I told you how many times I had to dig for clean clothes for every member of our family you would be horrified. Truly.

In fact, just this morning my husband scoured the house for a clean pair of khakis because I'd apparently forgotten to wash anything but dark clothes for the last, oh, 4 loads. True story.

And if you saw the mountain of clean clothes on top of the washer and dryer? Yeah, you'd probably think I'm the worst housewife ever. (And, I'm not sure you'd be too far from the truth.)

The thing is, I don't actually mind doing laundry. In fact, I like the actual process of washing/drying. But the putting away? That is the part that throws me off every time. And I end up dreading the putting away process so much that I avoid laundry altogether.

I'm trying to get better. Really. And today I'm tackling the laundry. All day. I'm not stopping until it's under control. But, I'm wondering if maybe you can help a girl out?

I just recently got a chance to try a bottle of Sun Burst Laundry Detergent to help me out in my laundry endeavors. And they want you to have a chance to try it, too!

First, though, I'll tell you a little bit about what I thought about it. My favorite thing about it? It's cheap. I mean, inexpensive. Because I totally hate spending money on soap. I mean, after all, isn't that literally throwing money down the drain? But I also hate clothes that don't smell/feel clean. So, when I discovered that this stuff did a great job, smelled good, and was super cheap? I was sold on it. It's even HE compatible which is awesome.

So, if you'd like to give it a try here's your chance. I've got 5 coupons good for one FREE 45.4 oz bottle of liquid detergent or one 49 oz box of powder detergent in any scent. And all you have to do to enter to win is help me with my laundry. No, really.

Leave me a comment below with your favorite and most helpful tip for getting laundry done or staying on top of laundry and you'll be entered to win!

So, go ahead, give me your best tips for controlling the laundry monster.

For more great projects, head over to Tackle it Tuesday at 5 Minutes for Mom!

***This giveaway (and all comments) will close Friday, July 10th at 2 p.m.***


Monday, July 6, 2009

Friends.

This weekend was one of those rare perfect weekends where time with friends and family have a way of reminding you just how blessed you are to have so many incredible people in your life.

I could write a whole post about how much we love our friends and how blessed we have been to be a part of many wonderful small group Bible studies. But, I won't because my friend, dewde, already said it better than I could.

Plus, he has an awesome video from this weekend to prove it.

Check out his post here. It makes me teary eyed every time...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Swimming for Faith

I love to watch my kids swim.

Ivy, having just turned 3, bobs in the water with her floaty vest on and her mouth just barely hovering above the water line. She swims all over the pool with her head straining to stay out of the water. It's heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time. Her persistence coupled with her newly developing water skills make her a sight to behold.

It's like watching a calf try to walk for the first time. The whole thing is some ballet of awkwardness. Muscles learning their purpose. Uncertain steps being taken slowly and deliberately. Failure and success taking turns throughout the process and determination keeping the whole thing moving.

I like to think I've made it through all those awkward stages but lately I think I've become more and more aware of what an ugly sort of dance I'm in the middle of. My problem lately is simply this - I just can't seem to get the hang of this whole faith thing.

I know God is real. I know He is with me. And, if I'm really lucky, when things go bad I remember to turn to Him for help. It's just that the instinct to turn to Him seems to be mostly when it's the little bad things and not the big bad things that come my way.

My problem is that I lack faith in whether God will sustain me through difficult times. And the root of that is, if I'm honest, blatant materialism. God never promised us nice perfect houses and well-manicured lives. He promised not to give us something we couldn't handle. He promised not to leave us or forsake us. But, I want that to mean that I'll never have to struggle financially. Or endure emotional pain. And the thing is, that isn't realistic.

Like a spoiled child who always demands a present, I've tied God's love to my circumstances. I lose faith in His love for me when I don't get my way. In that way I'm no different than Kai or Ivy who accuse me of not loving them each time we leave Target without a new Hannah Montana doll. In those moments as I drag them out the door pouting and crying and insisting I'm the worst mommy ever because they didn't get the toys they wanted right that very moment, I think to myself, "Can't you see that my love for you is bigger than some silly toy? Can't you see that these stupid toys will be sitting in the Goodwill box in a few years while my love for you continues on?" I want to shake them out of their superficial understanding of my love for them. I want desperately for them to understand how big that love is. Does it not stand to reason, then, that God wants the same thing from me?

Last week God and I had a rough week. I posted that post about my keys and was all proud that I'd been happy with that little bit of encouragement. And then the next day, Thomas didn't get paid. He worked his hours. He did his job. And because someone in his department didn't do one thing that needed to be done he just didn't get paid. Though that didn't stop every bill I had scheduled online from clearing at exactly the same time leaving us with a bank balance that started with - and was highlighted in red. Which, as I'm sure you know, is never a good thing.

And then I had a fight with God. A big one.

'Cause, after all, hadn't I just told everyone how great He was for letting me know He was there with my keys? And hadn't I been so spiritually evolved when I said that it was enough for the day?

It was an ugly fight. And if I believed that God was the type to hold a grudge I'd be pretty scared right now about an imminent lightning strike. Luckily, I don't think God is really the lightning type.

In fact, as it turns out, He's more of the kill them with kindness type. Because despite all my tantrums (and a few very un-kosher words) He sent us a really huge (and much needed) blessing at the end of the week. And suddenly my faith was restored.

But, the problem is, if my faith depends on my circumstances then it can't really be faith, can it? At least not the kind that it should be.

For me, the whole thing is a lot like learning to swim. I can tell Kai or Ivy exactly how to swim. I can talk them through the steps. But unless it just clicks for them they're never going to get it. Something has to happen in them to make it work. And that is nothing I can give them.

And that is where I am right now. Struggling to swim in this sea of uncertainty and turmoil. Struggling to hang onto the buoy of faith that I know is there but that keeps alluding me. This is a lesson I need to learn. It is one I desperately want to learn. But, oh how I hate going through what it takes to learn it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ah...the baby smile.

I finally captured one of these on camera - the elusive baby smile! Doesn't he look like a charmer?


For more Wordless Wednesday head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!







Friday, June 26, 2009

Kai-versations: Outtakes

After the girls' party this year we decided to do video thank you notes to send to their friends. It seemed like a fun way for them to say thanks in their own words (since they can't really write yet) and for their friends (who can't read yet) to hear from them how much they appreciated everyone coming to their party. We're still getting them all finished because it was quite an undertaking (each Thank You takes several takes to get it somewhat coherent) but we're almost done.

This particular outtake I just loved. The girls loved this present given to them by some good friends of ours, but they were just confused about which thank you video we were doing. Still, I love how sincere she is until she realizes she has no idea which present she's saying thank you for. Needless to say we tried again for take number 2 after I reminded her again what present we were talking about...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Come visit me...

I'm the new Atlanta Children's Crafts Examiner over at Examiner.com which means I'll be posting several cool craft articles a week over there with fun ideas for things to keep little hands busy.

In the meantime, check out my first article on creating clay texture stones with kids. It's a fun, easy & educational craft that my girls loved!

Click here to read the article!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I wish you could smell this picture.

I wanted to share this picture for Wordless Wednesday but hated to do it without sharing the recipe. So, forgive me for not totally following the Wordless Wednesday rules.


(Thanks to my brother-in-law and his iPhone for this great picture!)

For Father's Day I made the dads in our family my favorite Apple Pie recipe. It is a seriously amazing pie. I found the recipe here on Recipezaar.com.

But, here it is for you if you'd like to try it out:

Ingredients
  • 2 9 inch unbaked pie crusts
  • 5 cups sliced apples
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Ingredients

1. Mix all ingredients except for apples in large bowl.

2. Add apples.

3. Pour into pie crust.

4. Add second pie crust to top and vent.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

Easy, right? And everyone will think you've spent a lot of time on it. Go ahead and let them think you did!

For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!