Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My Early Work, Part 1

As I was cleaning out my closets this weekend in preparation for a garage sale and came across several stories I wrote in elementary and maybe middle school. I really fancied myself quite the author and had visions of writing chapter books for kids my age! For the next few days, I would like to share some of my stories with you. I have scanned this story (Click here to see the "original.") that I wrote in the 2nd grade. I remember this story distinctly because I lived in a little town named Garrison, TX (just outside of Nacogdoches) and I absolutely LOVED my 2nd grade teacher. I showed her my story and she even read it out loud to my class. I felt so important!

I have typed out the "manuscript" below. As a note, I had a cat named Garfield at the time. Also, I tried to type it exactly as it was written, hence the unusual spelling, as well as the unusual spacing of the "parts.".  I am sure they truly belonged somewhere else, but I didn't want to alter the original!

Let me know what you think! Perhaps I had been reading the following book:

The Space Cat

Part 1
Once long long ago, a cat named Garfild was going to go to the moon. “I don’t have a jet.” Do I have to go all over the world? He asked himself. He could not find a place where he could get a jet. He looked every were. But still he could not find a jet. One dday he was looking around and
Part 2
He saw a jet. He was so happy he jumped and jumped and jumped. He went to see if he could ride on the nest ride. The man said “The next trip is tomorrow. If you would like to go you can. Garfield asked “What time do I need to be here if I want to go. It starts at 2:30 and it colst 1.50.
Part 3
The next day when he went, they would not let
Part 4
 him in. the next time he went they let him in. When
Part 5
It went off Garfield got very scard. He jumped up high. But after that he got selded down. He flew for so long the thought he would never get out of that jet. When he got off
Part 6
The jet, he was so glad that he jumped and jumped. He danced for a hour. He wanted to stay for a week. But he couldn’t. Then he thought a day would be alright. But he couldn’t stay that long, becose if he did his oner (owner) would be sad. So he was going to go home in one minute. When one minute had passed, he went to get in his jet. But he could not find it.
Part 7
He looked down and he saw it floating down. He cryed for help. He cryed so loud someone herd him. So they sent a rockit up to get him. The man that got him said “You broke the worlds reckerd. You were the first thing to ever go to the moon in a jet. Congratulation!
The End

Monday, April 23, 2012

Laundry detergent

In a kick to save money and use pinterest ideas, here is my first attempt at making homemade laundry detergent. I have tried one load with it, including a very dirty swimming suit, and the results look promising.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Silver or gold I do not have...

My goal for Thurs. and Fri. around the house, since I keep Spencer and sometimes Annabelle at home those days, is to pick a theme based on what is going on in the world, and plan some activities.

This week, in honor of St. Patrick, I chose rainbows. As I was telling Spencer about how lepraucans are always looking for gold at the end of the rainbow (he thought that was pretty silly since they are in the sky), I was thinking of a way to lead the conversation to the idea that we shouldn't chase after money, but find peace and happiness in God. I was reminded of Peter's words in Acts 3, where he told the lame man, Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” I would love to make a card St Patrick's Day card with this theme, encouraging the recipient to find peace in God. Maybe one day.

A broad theme like rainbows leaves a lot of room for ideas, so I may have planned more than I could reasonably do with a three year old, expecially considering that he chose today to display his more-three-than-I-can-handle side. We may try a few more things tomorrow, but at least he got the concept. Here are a few things we did and some of the goals I had:


Make a rainbow book: cut Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple sheets in staggered heights. Write the name of the colors on the top of the sheets (so when they are stacked, you can see all the names). Spread out.

·         Allow child to practice writing the names of the colors on their pages.

·         Sort the pages by size (making sure you can see all of the names of the color).

·         Staple or tape rainbow together to use as reference the rest of the day.

I made the mistake of writing the letters in lower case, which he doesn't really write with, and this caused all kinds of problems...along with a little sister who like to help a little too much. But, we did get it finished (I had to finish taping it during his nap playing trains under his conforter time.

Writing,  Creativity

Rainbow art: Use a tray and spread a little of each rainbow color to make a rainbow. Use sponge brushes or fingers to spread the paint out.

·         Make rainbow handprints onto construction paper.

·         Make a rainbow print by putting construction paper directly onto the paint on the tray.

·         Practice making letters with a Q-tip or fingers, using a craft stick to clear away the lines between.

He didn't do a great job of making the rainbow, it would have been better if I had squirt bottles to place them a little better, but he did love painting with q-tips, and he liked making letters, although he insisted he had a friend named OEL (pronounced like Noel, without the N)...then he spelled it backwards, making LEO. Whatever...

Colors, fine motor skills

M&M Rainbow: Print  out the rainbow template here: Have the child put the correct color M&M (or skittle) into the spaces-then EAT THEM!!! (you can see we had finished the M&M project in the above picture and were eating them while we painted).

Color your Lunch: we found food items to eat for lunch that were the colors of the rainbow. If I had thought ahead, I might have found a blue food, but a little food coloring does amazing things! Can you spot all of the colors?
Can chicken nuggets count as yellow? In our house, they can!

Then, we decided to do a Small,Medium, Large matching...

Throughout the day, I worked on making our playroom a little more Montessori-esque. A place for everything and everything in it's place! One toy/theme per cubby. Of course, my closet (see the door on the left) is now packed, but at least it is behind a door! These are our more "educational" toys. The ones on the top are more for Spencer-what we call his "special games."

And this sits under out TV. A shelf for Annabelle and a shelf for Spencer. Matt says it looks like a parking lot, except for the house-and a purse we found at an estate sale today-I couldn't put it away yet, we just got it. One thing at a time, here!

So, despite a little but of what I like to call a "attitude malfuntion" at the grocery store (that's another post in and of itself) and really throughout the day, it looks like we still got a lot done!

Are you Average?

So, I've been watching The Revolution on ABC while folding clothes and alternately trying to get a little boy to go to sleep in his room. They have been talking about grocery shopping and how much food we toss out. They mentioned that the average 4 person family spends $175 on groceries each week, and that we throw out about 25% of the food we buy, meaning over $2000 a year. They continued on to share how buying canned spinach was such a better deal than fresh spinach (and frozen was somewhere in between), and frozen raspberries were a better deal than fresh.

Our family is obviously NOT average. Now, we have two toddlers, so that must be taken into account, and our budget for groceries does not include things like shampoo-it is basically just for food items. However, we don't even spend half of that!

Here are a few tips that I use to help me budget:
1) I am not an extreme couponer, but I do look for coupons and try to use them when I need something. However, I always try to consider two things: if there is a similar product that is cheaper, I will get that, and I only try to buy products that I would buy anyway (or maybe try something new if it is a really great deal).
2) I use the ad papers. Tuesday mail is always a highlight of my week, as I get out my notepad and look through my local ads to see what I can get a deal on this week. Then, I begin to put together a menu for the week, taking into consideration what kinds of activities we will have the next week. That way, I will know if we need to save more for eating out because we have a lot of evening activities, or if I will have time to cook a real meal. I try to keep things like chicken nuggets and deli meat in the house for days when things just don't go as planned and for lunches at home.
3) I have a weekly budget and I use cash. This way, when the money is gone, I am done. We have plenty of food at our house to make it through the week, and I can buy more next week. There are times when I do forget/need something, and I have been known to "take" from next week before the designated time, so I have a little flexibility, but then I have to know that I have less money next week to spend.
4) I use store brands. Most of the time, store brands are cheaper than sale and/or coupon prices (but not always). Most store brands are completely fine to my palate and my kids (and usually my husband) don't know the difference. If I find something that the store brand just doesn't match, I don't buy it-no point in buying something no one will eat-but we usually try it at least once.
5) One stop shopping. I try to get as much as I can at each place, with a list of what I need, so that I don't have to come back two or three times. Inevitably, I can't get out of a store spending less that $10, even if I just needed an onion!

I hope this helps if you are looking for ways to stretch your budget. Let's face it, these days, everyone could use a few extra dollars in their pocket!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Montessori, what?

Hello friends! I can't say I am a very dedicated blogger, but from time to time, I like to document what is going on and let you in on any tips I have.

In case you didn't know, Spencer started attending a montessori school in January. He is having a great time learning, a harder time adjusting to mommy not being right close all the time, but in my quest to discover all things montessori, I have stumbled upon a whole new world of montessori-inspired home schoolers.

I got excited about making all kinds of learning games for Spencer. I really need to get them laminated and a little more functional, but I wanted to test the waters to see if he would really be interested; let me tell you, he loves them! And, evidently, there are quite a bit of people putting free stuff up! FREE get's me even more excited!

But, never one to be outdone, I decided to create some of my own games. I wanted to share them with you because I think if my toddler likes them, your toddler might like them too! The above picture is one of my latest creations.

Click here to see what I have done. While they may not be the most professional (I just did them in microsoft publisher), they get the job done. Now, I don't have instructions for them, but they are fairly self-explanitory, and I will be glad to share with you what we do with them.

Be sure to leave a comment if you use one of them and let me know what you think! I am having a great time making them and hope they will be useful!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


We are starting down the road to montessori schooling, at least through preschool. Today, Living Montessori Now is giving away FREE montessori resources. You can see their website at to see how to enter the contest, PLUS, they have tons of great ideas for doing Montessori at home!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

And I am done

I am one day past being finished with the Daniel Diet, 5 day fast, and I have learned several things.
First, let me rewind to my eating for day 5.

Breakfast: oatmeal bars
Lunch: Blackbean burger patty and oven fries
Dinner: Rice bowl
Snack: rice cakes, trail mix and oatmeal bars
Nothing spectacular about Day 5, as we are mostly just trying to use up all of our ingredients.

So far, the blackbean burgers and oven fries have been the most successful meal. It tastes like you are being a little naughty, but everything follows the plan (ok, I might have been a little heavy handed with the olive oil on the potatoes, but I wasn't measuring so we just had to roll with it.

Yesterday we traveled to Dallas for my nieces birthday party and I decided it was a day to eat whatever was i had chili dogs, chocolate cake, and a small burger and fries from Wendy's. Today, I was ready to revert to a little healthier fare, especially since Matt is still fasting and we still have "good" food to eat.

Was I ready to get off the fast though? Yes, I actually was getting a headache because I don't think I was eating well the last day or two (I blame being at home and never getting around to finding something to eat). With my blood sugar history, I felt that 5 days would sufficiently test my reserve, and it did. Now is the time to get back to a little more protein and a little less carbs-although I may see a snickers in my future! I have continued my committment to no sodas of the caffeinated variety, despite my less than stellar eating yesterday. Mind you, I was tempted, but I had to have some hold out lest I loose all momentum!

So, this morning I countinued with eating oatmeal with fresh fruit but added in just a pinch of brown sugar and not quite so natural peanut butter. And for lunch we continued our bean and rice bowls, but I had one chicken tenderloin added in to mine.

Tomorrow, I think I will eat however I want for breakfast and lunch, and go Daniel for dinner with matt...we are having a spinach-zucchini casserole over whole wheat pasta with veggies and salad. I may thaw some vinison meatballs for the kids, since I know they like that, and make a kind of speghatti and meatballs.

Also up this week: Artichoke Flatbread Pizza and Spinach-Tofu Dip.

Now, I have mostly been using this blog as a means to keep up with the food I have been eating in case I want to do the diet again later. That being said, I haven't mentioned a lot about the spiritual side of the fast. Although it is a gruelling diet on its own rite (Matt has lost about 10 lbs in 5 days) there is a reason behind the maddness as well. I quit drinking caffeinated sodas in an effort to really take some control over what I am putting in my body. This was another attempt at the same goal. But also, this test of resolve has a very spiritual aspect to it as well.

The discipline I have shown with my eating I have tried to model in my prayer/Bible reading life as well. For the first time (consistently) since I have had kids, I have been trying to get up early-5:30 is early for me-to read my Bible and pray. I am going through 2 different Bible studies and getting up to read has been great. Now, one day, Annabelle beat me up, but I came home during lunch while the kids were at school and had some quiet time. It was great.

As with the eating, I am hoping some of these habits will continue on despite having completed the diet!

Stay tuned for the completion of Matt's fast...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Day 3-4

The halfway point was the hardest, but now that I am over the "hump" and am getting the hang of fresh food, I think I can make it through. Here is what I ate the last few days (then I will share some thoughts):

Breakfast: Oatmeal with apples and cinnamon, in half soy milk and half water-much better than all water!
Snack: almonds, sunflower seeds, dried blueberries, rasins, and toasted garbanzo beans
Lunch: Romaine wraps, indian flatbread and some canned mixed vegetables
Dinner: Brown Rice bowls with rice, pinto beans, avocado, all natural salsa, broccoli slaw, and corn
Nighttime snack: popcorn cooked in olive oil and salt

Breakfast: Oatmeal with pears and cinnamon, in half soy milk and half water-much better than all water!
Lunch: Chickfila date with Spencer: side salad with cabbage (because I don't like it) and cheese removed, small fruit bowl
Snack: flatbread with salsa
Dinner (to be cooked tonight): Black Bean Burgers, oven baked fries, with a olive oil and a few extra spices, and canned fruit, whatever is left in the fridge, maybe a broccoli slaw salad and salsa to go on top of the burgers

Now, a few thoughts:
1) brown rice is a stinker to cook! I found that if you use a 4:1 ratio of water to rice, then boil it more like pasta (bring it to a boil, add rice, drain) then put it back in the pan to steam about 10 min. I made this discovery here and it works great.
2) when you eat fresh foods, you have to eat a lot of the same basic meal, with maybe one or two different touches. I think we are also so used to processed and overly salted and sugared foods that a lot of things taste bland. That's where the all-natural salsa helps A LOT!
3) Stress makes it a lot harder to eat well. When things get crazy, and with a 1 year old and 3 year old, things get crazy at our house OFTEN, food is a comfort that really helps. When my teething baby came home from school after 3 nasty diapers and just wanted to be held all evening, I heard chocolate calling my name! But, I was able to resist the urge and stay strong!
4) Even at a place like chick-fil-a where chicken and fries are the name of the game, you can still do well! And I didn't even miss the salad dressing. It was kind of annoying to pull out all the cheese, but it was possible (and next time I could ask for it without cheese, I don't know if they do custom salad orders there). However, I was still hungry, but it lasted long enough to get home and get a snack! Link

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

day 2 (or 1 if you are matt)

After the last 3 days of cooking, I got a little bit of a break today, except for a second try at making brown rice. The first try was an epic fail. Burnt everything and what wasn't burnt still tasted like charcoal. So after a little pinterest search for how to make the perfect brown rice, I am trying a new tactic. Here is the method-although I left out the first step. I will let you know how it turns out.

Otherwise, here is what I ate today:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with water and dried blueberries. Yesterday's oatmeal with soy milk was about 1000 times better, but incredibly full of carbs, so I downsized today. I was not nearly as satisfied, but it still did the trick.
Snacks: Trail mix with almonds, dried blueberries, raisns, and sunflower seeds and oatmeal bars (it is just about time to make some more)
Lunch: Indian flatbread with peanut butter and baby carrots
Snacks: Same as above (although my friend Debbie tried to intice me with talk of Sister to Sister cookies and eating chocolate in front of me)
Dinner: Pinto beans and rice; then I remembered I had found some all natural salsa at Fresh yesterday and added it at the very end (won't forget that again)
Late night snack: flatbread with yummy salsa

Here are my observations for today.
1) While we have a lot of food in the house that sticks to our diet, the biggest issue is that we have to eat it. What I mean is that we had to buy a bag of carrots, cut up whole zucchini and cucumber, bought a bag of salad, etc., but since it is not processed like we are used to, we have to EAT. IT. As in, THIS WEEK! And thus will begin a new cycle. It also mean that we have to EAT our LEFTOVERS.
2) It truly seems to be becoming a week for spiritual reflection. After a crazy morning, I actually took my lunch break to come home and read my devotionals. It was very calming to have some alone time while the kids were at their schools and to get away from the busyness of everything to spend some time with the Lord. Hopefully I will be able to do that tomorrow as well.

On that note, instead of rice and vegetable stir fry, tomorrow we are going to be having rice bowls with: Rice, pinto beans, corn, avocado, and a mix of vegetables (broccoli, carrots, zucchini and cucumber), topped, of course, with salsa!

After tomorrow, I will be over halfway through. It has not been a horrible experience, other than the amount of cooking I have had to do to get things ready. Eating wise, though, I don't feel like I am really missing out on anything special... but I haven't had to watch anyone eat a burger in front of me while I eat lettuce either. My goal for this diet/fast is not to lose weight, but to use it to grow closer to the Lord, try some new recipes, and have a "good experience," i.e. not just eat carrots and apples all day every day, but to truly enjoy natural food so that I can incorporate it into my real life (although I will still enjoy a burger and fries now and again)!

Peace to you!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Let the fast begin

I officially began the Daniel Fast today (matt test drove it til dinner time). Since there was no school, Matt took the kids early to Nana's, leaving me to my own devices: reading from TWO devotionals before I went in to work. I even got to work 15 minutes early and got a mile walk in before work. I must say, that's a good start, not that I expect that to EVER happen again!

So, here is what I have done so far:

Sunday, I

  • chopped up a lot of vegetables
  • made hummus from a mix (does anyone know if you can make it from canned garbanzo beans?)

Then, today, here was my menu:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with soy milk, pears and cinnamon (made way too much and ate it all, but it lasted much longer than breakfast usually lasts).

Lunch: Apple with peanut butter, Romaine Wraps (with broccoli slaw from the salad section), and the bread I made Saturday.

Snack: Oatmeal bars from Saturday and almonds

Dinner: Peanut butter with flatbread an almond and dry salad

Tonight, I preparation for the next few days, I am:

Although I am enjoying finding exiting new recipes, and all, there are a few complications/prayers:

1) feeding the kids-there are going to be a lot of new tastes that we aren't used to, so as yo can see, I am making some concessions for them and their nutritional needs, but overall I am just adding to what we are eating

2) the pocketbook-because we didn't have a lot of this kind of food laying aound and most of it has to be fresh anyway, we are having to buy EVERYTHING we want to eat. I am used to buying what is on sale and making meals over the next couple of weeks out of it; now, a lot of what have isn't acceptable so we are starting from scratch. I am also not used to buying vegetarian, so i am not sure if I am making the best choices (maybe I could be doing it cheaper, but I want it to be a positive experience).

Overall, I think it will be worth it. I think it is good from time to time to regulate yourself and take a step back. I am debating doing this one day a week or maybe one week every month or two, but we will see how I feel at the end of the week. Just to make it official, while Matt is commiting to the full 10 days, I think I feel compelled to commit for 5 days (Mon-Fri).

Thanks for coming on this journey with me!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Daniel Diet

Yesterday, we began preparation to start the Daniel Diet next week. On New Year's day, our pastor suggested this was a great diet and we decided (well, matt decided and I am going to try to join him) to jump in. But of course, being "me," I had to do all the research and all, because I didn't want to eat baby carrots and peanut butter for 10 days!

So, Friday night we went to Fresh and began stocking up on some of the things we haven't been buying for a while-tofu, dried fruits, real peanut butter (grinded in the store), quinoa, whole grain pasta, etc.

Then, today, I went to Super 1 to finish off the general stuff-fruits, vegetables, cans of black beans (forgot the tomatoes, then ran out of money anyway), etc. Off to Brookshires for some salad that was on sale.

Since we MIGHT want to do this again if it all goes well, I thought I would chronicle our food choices throughout the 10 days and our thoughts.

Today, in preparation for the fast/diet, i made oatmeal bars but used the dried fruits we had on hand.

I also made flatbread and chapittas to act as our bread, as i couldn't find any whole wheat tortillas that seemed to have the right ingredients.

One of the things we have discovered as we have researched this topic is there there is a great variety of opinions about what is/is not allowed. Of course, the Bible is not totally clear (Daniel did not blog all of his eatings in the palace) so we have to make due the best we can. The word the Bible used stands for anything from a seed (not sure why coffee isn't "allowed") but what about mushrooms? canola oil? The websites don't recommend drinking fruit juice or soy milk, only putting it in dishes, etc. So, in a big way, you are left with some muddy water and have to use your own discernment in making food choices.

Ultimately, we are trying not to worry about the "letter of the law" as much as the motivation behind it. Since this was really Matt's conviction, I am debating if I am doing this as much for fasting as just a good diet change-up. Could be a little bit of both. Hopefully, I will be able to grow closer to God as I do this, since meat really is one of my favorite things!

We kick it all off on Tuesday; Monday I will be preparing the last few things, along with some things to make our meals a little more palatable to the kids. Hopefully, at least a few things will stick with us after our 10 days are over! Check back to see how we are doing!