Easter Baskets 2014

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Easter is only a few weeks away and that means it is time for Easter baskets. I find great enjoyment out of putting together Easter baskets and things of that nature. However, with 3 kids it can become time consuming and expensive! Last year I switched to a family basket instead of individual baskets. It was wonderful! This is a tradition we will be continuing this year.

Growing up my Easter basket as a kid was filled completely with candy. From the start I knew that wasn’t how I wanted to approach Easter baskets. I wanted them to be fun but not filled with junk candy; that was bought just for the sake of filling the baskets. Thankfully, this approach was already well established by the time we found out Thomas needed to be gluten free; since, it’s hard to find seasonal candy that’s gluten free. Though, Peeps candies (including the chocolate covered ones) are!

I like to fill the Easter basket with stuff that was already planned purchases for the most part. That way there isn’t a lot of extra money going out the door. There are certain staples that go in every year like sidewalk chalk. My kids adore the stuff and we use it all up by the end of the summer. So, each Easter I replenish our supply. This year’s basket will have:

- The Easter Egg by Jan Brett. (I picked this up last year on after Easter clearance)
- The Weight of Mass: A Tale of Faith by Josephine Nobisso (school related)
- The Adventures of Sir Lancelot the Great (The Knight’s Tales Series) by Gerald Morris
- Butterfly garden (school related)
- a new matchbox car per kid
- Sidewalk chalk (I scored a better deal on Amazon than what the price was at our local Walmart)
- Thermos Funtainer water bottle for each kid. (I picked these up at our local Walmart/Target because they were significantly cheaper than on Amazon.)
-Octonaut’s DVD

So, what is going in your kids Easter baskets?


Slaying the Laundry Monster and not by becoming a Nudist.

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When I grew up laundry was a massive pile on the love seat. For me it was perfectly normal to have to search for a clean outfit every morning. This would be the reason why I seldom wear matched socks. I am cool as long as the socks are the same kind- crew cut, ankle, etc.

Once, I was married laundry was fairly simple to keep up with at first. There just wasn’t that much. However, 3 kids down the road and I had my own Mt. Laundry. It felt like I was constantly washing clothes and searching for clothes for people to wear each day. It was exhausting. I was starting to get very depressed about the pile of laundry that was a resident in my living room. However, the pile is no more!

At the beginning of the year Mark and I started talking about downsizing. We wanted a more minimalistic way of life. We felt we were drowning in stuff. A big thing was clothes…..they were simply everywhere. We had Mt. Laundry in the living room. We also had random piles in our bedroom and even in the kids’ room. So, over the last few weeks I have been purging our wardrobes and simplifying them.

The first thing I did was weed out all the wrong size kid clothes. There was a ridiculous amount and I am ashamed to say they were cycling through the laundry room on a fairly regular basis. Once, I had done that I set out to get the kids’ wardrobes to a manageable size. This is their summer wardrobe per kid:

-1 pair of blue jeans
-1 pair light weight activity pants
-7 shorts*
-7 shirts*
-2 polos for church wear
-1 button up dress shirt
-1 pair of church pants
-1 pair of church shorts
-2 pairs of pjs*
- 1 swim suit
-2 packages of underwear for those that are potty trained
-1 package of socks
-1 light weight jacket

Shoes for each are: rainboots, crocs and sneakers.
*Note: Two younger kids have a couple extra pieces to account for accidents.

This brings me to a total of 80 clothing items; not including socks/underwear. It does include the few extra clothing pieces my younger two have. It sounds like a lot of clothing but when you take into account that it is for 3 kids it isn’t.

Mark and my wardrobes are still works in progress. However, by purging the wardrobes I greatly lightened my laundry load. While, I was purging I also took the opportunity to catch up on Mt. Laundry and bulldoze it to the ground. I even matched the socks! Once, I was caught up I wanted to put a new system in place that would prevent Mt. Laundry from every growing again.

I looked at our weekly schedule and decided that Tuesdays and Fridays were going to be laundry days. Each day I will watch 3 loads of laundry. Tuesdays is made up of: kids, adults and towels/rags. Fridays is made up of: kids, adults and Mark’s uniform stuff.  Once a month I wash all the bedding (kids bedding is as needed). I wash diapers as needed throughout the week; normally 2 times a week. By doing laundry twice a week and having small wardrobes the loads aren’t huge. I no longer have to wait for Mark to carry the heavy laundry baskets upstairs for me. I fold each load as it comes out of the dryer and then bring it upstairs and put it away. I have the boys help.

I never thought it was possible to not have a Mt. Laundry but it is! I did laundry today and didn’t dread it. Even though we were out of the house all day running errands it was easy to wash the 3 loads. The night before laundry day before bed I start the first load. This way when I get up in the morning it can be moved to the dryer and I can start the second load. This allows me to have a good start on laundry by 8 am. I also don’t take a load out of the dryer unless I can fold it right then and there. If I can’t fold it I leave it in the dryer. I also have a rule that at the end of each laundry day the dryer is empty.

All the boys clothes neatly put away.
kids laundry

 


Little Bit Extra

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There are many ways that you can easily make money while going about your regular life. I use several different programs to bring in a little extra; mostly in the form of gift cards. Amazon gift cards are my favorite.

Swagbucks: I collect swagbucks and then “cash” them in for Amazon gift cards that I use towards Christmas. I usually earn one $5 Amazon gift card each month bringing my total for the year to $60 in gift cards. I earn that $60 simply by playing on my computer. I earn swagbucks through a variety of ways. Taking a few minutes to do the daily poll and checking the tool bar, putting in the swagcodes when they pop up, couponing and using swagbucks for my internet searches. I can also earn swagbucks via referrals.

Ibotta: I started using Ibotta this past January. It’s a phone app that you earn rebates on groceries like milk and bread. So, far by simply checking the app after I grocery shop and redeeming rebates I have earned $10.50. Not bad for 2 months. This is another program that you can earn extra for referrals. The money can be cashed in for gift cards or my personal favorite sent to your paypal!

Bing: This is a new program I just recently found that works in conjunction with the Bing search engine. You collect credits by using the search engine and then can cash them in for gift cards or swagbucks! I will be cashing mine in for swagbucks to get more Amazon giftcards (You use less swagbuck points to get a gift card there than you do to get an Amazon gift card using bing credits. Therefore more bang for your points!) They are also currently offering a great deal if your friends sign up using your referral link- 500 bing credits.

Affiliates Links: A lot of companies offer affiliate programs such as Amazon. Mark and I have an Amazon store front called The Blue Duffle Bag. It’s just like shopping on Amazon and we earn a little bit back. Also, when you order something from a link on my blog we earn a little bit back; all which I appreciate immensely.

Lastly, credit card rewards. I know this one isn’t for everyone. However, we pay for everything we can using our credit card to rack up reward points and pay it off each pay period to avoid interest. We redeem our points for cash back. In the last two years we have earn back $450!

If you are interested in signing up for any of these I would appreciated if you used my referral links.

Swagbucks: http://swagbucks.com/refer/trghig
Ibotta: http://ibotta.com/r/TKEkBA
Bing: http://www.bing.com/explore/rewards?PUBL=REFERAFRIEND&CREA=RAW&rrid=_08008bad-35e1-1a38-5104-b5e4105f4cfe
Our Amazon Store: http://astore.amazon.com/thblduba-20


Early Retirement…. say what? (And some DIY recipes!)

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Mark has been talking about retirement for a while now and had started working on a retirement account. He had even mentioned the idea of early retirement several times. Originally it was mostly just discussion but than in December he came across Mr. Money Mustache…..All of a sudden the talk about early retirement became much more earnest and he wanted to put a plan in action to achieve that. His plan meant living very very frugally. It meant saving an immense amount of money now.

At first I was very resistant of the idea. I already felt like we were living frugally. I already felt; when compared to how I was raised that we were saving a lot of money. I didn’t see how we could follow the lifestyle that Mr. Money Mustache advocated and still have a happy enjoyable life filled with rich experiences.  I’ve slowly been getting more on board with the idea and the plan. Though, I am sure Mark wishes I could climb aboard the Mr. Money Mustache boat a little quicker!

While, I was exploring his website I came across an article entitled “Are You Cleaning Out Your Own Wallet?” It hit home especially when Mark and I sat down to review the financial picture of the past year and go over the budget for the upcoming year. I was shocked at the amount of money I had spent over the past year on household cleaning supplies and personal supplies. I started looking at what we were buying and started considering what we could do to cut the amount of money spent in those areas.

There wasn’t a lot to cut in household cleaning supplies. I can’t cut out dishwasher soap or laundry soap. We need trash bags. In personal care products there was room to cut but even then there wasn’t too much room. I am not a woman; who can embrace never shaving and being super hairy! I can’t buy the cheapest shampoo and conditioners because they leave me with horrible dandruff. Dandruff that is so bad my scalp will start to bleed. I can’t use super cheap products on my face because they cause me to break out.

So, since there wasn’t a lot to cut by not buying the products I had to start considering ways to get said products at a more reasonable cost. I started scouring Pinterest and found some fantastic do-it-yourself recipes for things like dish soap, laundry soap and some of the personal care products I use.

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At first I was a little skeptical about how well some of these alternatives would work. However, I am pleased to say that they all work just as well as the mainstream store bought items and in some case like the dishwasher soap better! So, without further ado here are the recipes!

Dishwasher soap found over at Wellness Mama’s blog.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients and store in an air tight container.
  2. Use 1 tablespoon per load as needed.
  3. For an extra boost, add a few drops of dishwashing liquid (only a few!!!) to the powder before closing the soap container in the dishwasher.
  4. You can also add white vinegar as the rinse agent, though honestly, I forget this most of the time and it still works.

I used an old pickle jar. I have been beyond impressed with this recipe. I have not added any liquid dishwashing soap when using it. This has cleaned my dishes better than the expensive dishwashing tablets were! With the amount that I made and how little needed per load this is going to last me forever!

Laundry Soap found here at How Does She do That.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax- Found in the detergent aisle
  • 1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda- Found in the detergent aisle
  • 1 (3 lb) Container of OxyClean- Found in the detergent aisle. (This is optional but I highly recommend adding it)
  • 2 (14.1 oz) Bars of Zote Soap- Found in the detergent aisle (we chose to do pink for the scent but the white would be just fine. You can also use Fels Naptha)
  • 1 (4 lb) Box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda- Found in the cooking aisle (You could also get two 2 lb box, we couldn’t find the larger 4lb box when we went)
  • ·         1-2 (55 oz) Bottle of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener- or use 3-4 bottles of Scentsy Washer Whiffs.

Instructions:

1. Grate zote soap with cheese grater or food processor.
2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bucket.
3. Use 2 -4 Tablespoons per laundry load.

Note: I used Fels Naptha soap and a grater. I also left out the purex crystals.

Now, onto the 2 personal care products I have started making. The first one I started making was make-up remover. I am thrilled with it because unlike the store bought make-up remover it doesn’t leave my skin feeling slimy afterwards. Instead, it feels nourished. The other product I started making was a face scrub. It is very similar to the expensive face scrub I like from the body shop but so much cheaper to make!

Make-up Remover found over at Frugally Sustainable

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dr. Bronner’s unscented baby-mild liquid castile soap (I used citrus scented)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Combine ingredients in container
  2. Shake well
  3. Dampen cotton ball to use
  4. Store in airtight container and shake before each use.

Oatmeal Honey Face Scrub found over at Dabbles and Babbles

Ingredients:

  • Two parts oatmeal (ground up finely in a blender or food processor)
  • One part honey
  • One part sweet almond oil (or coconut or olive oil – which ever you prefer)

Directions:

Mix everything together until it’s a thick sticky mixture. Feel free to add a little extra oil or even a few drops of water if it’s too sticky or clumpy. Smooth onto face and rub into skin for a couple of minutes and then rinse off.

Note: I used olive oil.

I use this nightly! Absolutely, love how it leaves my skin feeling.


Early February Daybook

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Outside my window…

It is finally warming up some. The last week was snowy and ridiculously cold…at least for this Southerner.  However, the boys are sad that the snow is gone. By the end even Antonio had gotten into having snowball fights…well at least standing and throwing the snowballs (that daddy provided) at daddy.

I am thinking…

Thomas’ birthday is coming up and I am clueless as to what to get him for a gift. Antonio’s gift was easy last month. I also have Paul’s gift already picked out for him in April. However, I am stumped for Thomas. That seems to be how it always is.

I am thankful…

That we have access to modern medicine. The beginning of last week found the entire house battling a cold. I ended up having to take both Antonio and Thomas in for breathing difficulties. Antonio had croup and Thomas was simply having issues because he had been coughing so hard. I am also thankful for a good primary doctor for myself; who was able to put my mind at ease concerning some headaches I have been experiencing. He is also quick to help me do what needs to be done to manage my si-joint and back pain.

Learning all the time…

We’ve spent several weeks study bats after Paul watched a Magic School Bus episode on them. We checked out every kids book the library had on bats. Here were a few of our favorite non-fiction picks:
Hello, Bumblebee Bat, Bats and Bats (Usborne Beginners Nature). Fiction wise our library didn’t have much on bats. However, they did have Stellaluna. Paul liked it so much he requested we purchase our own copy.

From the kitchen…

I am desperately trying to rein in the grocery budget and I am not sure I am having much success in that area. We shall see as the month goes on. I stocked up on Jule’s gluten free flour at the end of last month. I used it to make blueberry muffins and they were a hit. I am hoping more baking will help lower the budget. I am also being more strict about the amount of snacks the kids can eat during the day in the hopes of getting them to eat better at meal time.

I am working on…

De-cluttering. We are hoping to downsize to a smaller house or apartment when our current lease is up. Downsizing to an apartment means needing to purge and reduce the amount of stuff we have. I am not having much success purging kid toys. So, I am considering moving all the toys out of the playroom and having the kids “check-out” the toys when they want to play. Then I will use a spreadsheet to see how often each toy is checked out; hopefully making it easier to figure out what isn’t really getting played with.

I am creating…

I love the idea of little passports but I am not so crazy about the price. So, I am setting out to make my own version using free resources off the internet. I am also working on building up a craft box now that Paul and Thomas are showing an interest in crafting. I’ll blog about our craft box later.

I am hoping…

That spring arrives sooner than later. I am so tired of winter and being cold.

I am reading…

I am currently reading Castle in the Attic aloud to the boys. It’s been very nice to re-visit some of my favorite childhood reads with the boys over the last few months.

I am listening…

To silence occasionally broken by Antonio talking to Daddy.

Around the house…

Trying to get to a point where everything is maintenance cleaning only. So, far I’ve had good success in the dining room, kitchen and playroom. Still need to get the rest of the rooms in the house in order.

One of my favorite things…

Watching the light bulb moment when one of the boys gets a new concept.

This week’s plans…

Speech for Paul and Antonio
Occupational Therapy for Paul
Lots of visiting with our friends before they head out of town for several weeks
Antonio’s 2 year well check-up
Weekend movie night with the family. Movie selection: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.


My Cross

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We were privileged this past weekend to travel to Vermont for the wedding of my wonderful mother-in-law. The ceremony was lovely and the reception was a hoot. There was dancing. Lots of silly dancing: the chicken dance, the Mexican hat dance, the cha-cha and the hokey pokey to name a few.  I danced with the boys. I took part in the formed dances while holding Antonio or Thomas in my arms. I swing danced with Paul in dizzy circles. Every time I took to the dance floor I knew it was a bad idea. I knew that I would end up paying for it later with worse than usual back pain. However, every moment of it was worth it. I always hurt. I have since about half way through Thomas’ pregnancy. That was 4 years ago. I decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to let my pain define me. I don’t want all of my children’s memories to be that mommy hurt; so, she couldn’t do this or that with them. Paul and Thomas are already well aware of my pain issues; especially Paul. I don’t want my pain to rob them of an active involved mother.

A little over a year ago I had a spinal fusion surgery done to correct severe scoliosis. My surgeon and I were hopefully that a benefit from the surgery would be that my pain would go away or at least greatly decrease. At the time of the surgery my baseline pain level was at least an eight at all-time and most of the time I hovered around a ten. The pain was chronic and nothing made it better. I had lived with that pain since Thomas’ pregnancy; minus the nine months I was pregnant with Antonio. Antonio’s pregnancy was extremely easy and from about fifteen weeks onward the pain disappeared. After, he was born it came rushing back with a ferocious vengeance.

However, the surgery didn’t work out how we had hoped. It helped immensely with the all over back pain It also uncovered an issue with my right si-joint. In June the si-joint put me in chronic pain that I hadn’t experienced since I hit the 5 month mark post-surgery; much to my dismay. The si-joint pain just kept getting worse until my base pain level was back at an eight. I was starting to have trouble walking without a limp and all of this happened while Mark was deployed. At the end of July I saw a surgeon, who was filling in for my actual surgeon. He had less than good news. He told me that it would always be an issue and that having any more children was highly ill-advised. That news was devastating and made all that much worse when he said my only treatment option was a si-joint injection.  If it didn’t work I was screwed to a life of immense pain. The injection helped but only for about 2 weeks.

However, when I saw my primary care doctor he had a more positive outlook on things and wanted to try some more conservative approaches. (After speaking to my actual surgeon he said the reason the other surgeon took such drastic measures was because my back is complex.  The injection was the only way to official rule if the si-joint was the cause of pain.) This approach of an anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxer has helped bring my baseline pain level to a four. By the end of the day I am in much more pain then a level four but at least it starts off manageable. I can function and walk without issue most days.  Best of all my primary care doctor and my actual surgeon see no reason why we can’t expand our family if we so desire. As my surgeon said, “The horse is already out of the barn.” There is the chance a pregnancy could aggravate my si-joint worse. It could leave me in immense pain like I was in during Thomas’ pregnancy. There is also the chance that it could alleviate the pain like what happened during Antonio’s pregnancy. I figure I have a 50/50 shot. However, even if it does leave me in immense pain how is that really any different than what I already have? The down side would be that there would be no si-joint injections while pregnant nor would there be any medication at least during the 1st trimester; since all the meds are class c drugs. I would be completely on my own to manage the pain. However, in the end all the pain in the world would be worth it if it meant a new baby to hold and love.

However, I have strayed off point. My point was original about how I live with the pain. I have had several people of late tell me they don’t know how I do it and that they admire me for dealing with the pain. They admire the fact that I would be willing to chance another extremely painful pregnancy in order to have another child. There is nothing special about me that enable me to deal with the pain. I simply have no choice in the matter. This is the cross God has given me and all I can do is my best. Some days are better than others. Some days it takes every ounce of my being to get out of bed and face the day. Some days I cry into Mark’s arms.  Other times I curse God and ask him why me.

I hope to have more good days than bad. I hope and try to not allow the pain to drag me down into despair but instead move forward and ignore the pain. I pray my way through things that have to be done in spite of the pain. I do things like dance with my boys even though I know I will pay for it later. All I can hope is that in the end I have lived life to the fullest that I can; that I have not allowed my pain to define me. I pray that when my children look back at their childhood they don’t remember a mom; who spent her time cross and wallowing in her pain. I hope that they look back and remember a mom; who did what she could to make them happy and be active in their childhood.

 I don’t always reach this goal. I fall short for more often than I would like. I whine to Mark about how much I hurt. However, I keep trying. I try my best to be a good wife and a good mother despite the pain because their happiness is worth it. The last few months have been extremely hard mentally for me. I had hoped that after the surgery I was going to be pain free. I had a small glimpse for a few months of what it would be like to live pain free. I have stumbled more in the last three months and wallowed in despair over the pain then I should have. However, this weekend at the wedding reminded me of what was at stake. I don’t want my children to remember me as a person always sad and grouchy because she hurt. I want them to remember me laughing and playing with them; despite the fact that I hurt. With that reminder I will strive to more cheerfully and complain less as I carry this cross that God has given me.

VT Trip 336


Long Over Due Daybook

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FOR TODAY

Outside my window…
Mosquitoes…..they are awful. However, the weather has been wonderful. It has been unseasonably cool given that it is the end of August. Maybe, fall will come on time this year! There has definitely been a few fall like days. One more really warm beaching going day would make two little boys very happy. Paul and Thomas want to take Daddy to the beach to play now that he is home.

I am thinking…
It has been pretty quiet here on the blog because we have been extremely busy between moving and daddy coming home. I am thinking about new homes and setting them up to run efficiently. I am thinking about schedules, list, organization, and clutter.  How I desire to be a happy homemaker. The last few years being a happy homemaker has been hard…..being a good homemaker has been hard. The chronic pain from my back was very limiting in what I could do. I am excited to start off in a new house with very little pain to hinder me.

I am thankful…

I am thankfully to have my husband home safe and sound from his deployment. I am thankfully for having my family whole again.

In the kitchen…
I have been channeling my inner Laura Ingalls Wilder! About 2 months ago we joined a local CSA. We buy produce and meat through the program. We have had a surplus of produce and so I’ve been busy freezing stuff to use later this year. I’ve prepped greens beans and corn on the cob. I’ve made my own stewed tomatoes to freeze. I tried making blueberry freezer jam but something went wrong. It turned into a disaster.

I am wearing…
My favorite (and only) pair of jean capris with a cute black empire wasted tank top. However, I noticed that there is a hole forming in the tank top. So, this will probably be the last time I wear it. I’ve been doing some updating to my wardrobe and recently bought a really nice pair of jeans. It has been so long since I have invested in good jeans that I forgot how wonderful a nice pair of jeans could be.

I am creating…
I am making Schultütes for the start of the school year. Paul will be starting kindergarten and Thomas will be doing preschool. I found the idea of Schultütes from Jessica, over at Shower of Roses. It seems like such a fun idea. I will most likely make something smaller for Antonio because I don’t want him to feel left out. I’ve found some fun Spiderman themed school products for Thomas and some fun Avenager themed ones for Paul.

I am wondering…
How to best manage food…..lately it seems every time I turn around to make something one of the children has polished it off. All the boys have been growing (They all just went up a clothing size….Thomas multiple sizes!) and have been ravenous. I would like a better way to keep them from eating ingredients for meals!

I am reading…
Nothing really….it’s been so busy that I haven’t had the time. However, I am hoping things slow down soon so I can resume reading. After all I have an awesome Kindle Paperwhite now that Mark is home from his deployment to read on.

I am hoping…
I am hoping that the doctor is wrong and that there will be more babies in the future. To be told that at twenty-five that I shouldn’t have any more babies is heartbreaking. I can’t imagine Antonio being our last.

I am looking forward to…
The beauty of autumn as it arrives. That is one thing I will miss when we finally move onward from Virginia is the amazing changing of colors that comes with fall. It isn’t something I had ever experienced prior to moving here. The autumn coloring of the trees is breathtaking. I am hoping we can make a trip up into the mountains to hike among the autumn trees this year.

Around the house…
We are still working on unpacking everything. We are doing things like hanging quilts on the wall as décor to help muffle the sound of three lively young boys. The new house is completely wood/tile flooring and makes for quite a noisy house. We added a very bright green rug to the boys playroom and it has been a huge help. It is been very nice to have all this extra space but it also brings along some of its own organizational challenges like needing new bookcases. Our last rental had a built in bookcase that we used.

I am pondering…
At the end of July I had my one year follow-up for my back surgery. Sadly, the appointment did not go as well as I had hoped. The surgery was a success. The fusion healed great. However, I had been having some very serious pain for about a month in my lower back/hip area. It turns out that the pain was coming from my SI-joint. We ended up doing a steroid injection for it. It worked great. My pain has practically gone completely away. However, the doctor also told me that having another child was highly ill-advised. He told me that another pregnancy could leave me with a permanent disability and issues walking. He said the odds were very high of that happening. I never imaged my family being so smile. I figured there would be more children done the line. I figured I would have a daughter at some point. So, I am pondering family size. I am pondering how to come to terms with the idea that my family will not be the large family I always imagined I would have.

A favorite quote for today…

“God does not measure our perfection by the many things we do for Him, but by how we do them.”
- St. Francis de Sales


Say What!

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While, at a recent visit at my sister-in-laws Paul and Thomas were playing with the younger girls. I went to go check on them because there was a lot of screaming coming from the basement that didn’t sound to happy. The exchange went like this:

Me- “What are you doing? Play nicely!”
Paul- “We are! We’re playing humans. Mommy, we’re playing humans!”

I am not sure what playing humans entitled but it made me chuckle. It was also all I could do not to say, “Paul you are a human!”
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Recently, a friend who is expecting watched the boys for me. Paul was apparently very curious about babies. It’s a subject I’ve never discussed with him because he’s never asked. Well, my friend simple told him that those were questions for his mommy. He took that to mean she didn’t know.

Paul-, “Mommy, Ms. Tephanie is having a baby. But, she is stupid and  doesn’t know how that baby got in her tummy. She don’t know how the baby going to come out either. You need to talk to Ms. Tephanie and tell her. She need to be worried she doesn’t know how that baby got in her tummy!”

While, I corrected him that we don’t use the word stupid I did think it was cute just how worried he was that Ms. Tephanie didn’t know how her baby ended up in her tummy!

____________________________________________________

Paul- “Thomas misunderstood himself. He had a misunderstood with himself”

Thomas-”I no misunderstood. I no misunderstood. Paul is! He upsidedaisy!”

________________________________________________________
Paul- “Mommy, I want to take Margaret and Cecilia home with us. I don’t want to stop playing with them.”
Me- “Paul, their mommy will miss them!”
Paul- “No, she won’t. She has enough kids she won’t even notice!”
__________________________________________________________
Thomas- “I small but I big! I big so don’t forget me.”


Bargain Books for Christmas!

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I like books…always have. I moved more boxes of books when Mark and I married then I did clothes.  I especially adore children’s picture books.  However, I have a hard time dropping a lot of money down on them. However, I love a good bargain for a new book.  (Though I am a huge fan of used books too and miss having a half-price books around.)

Lately, I’ve came across some really great bargain books for Christmas. Mostly, thanks to Shower of Roses. (Her site is fantastic and I highly recommend checking it out.) However, I’ve came a across a few gems on my own.

The other day at the dollar store I came across this gem St. Francis and the Nativity. I thought it was especially great in light of our new Pope. The colors of the pictures are extremely rich and beautifully done.

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I took advantage of the fantastic price of this picture book The Twelve Days of Christmas.

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I originally bought a copy for my boys when Jessica posted about it being on sale for $5. A few days later after mine had arrived and I was able to see just how beautiful the illustrations were I saw on Amazon that the price had dropped to $1.91 (which is what it currently still is!). I snagged 4 more copies to give as gifts to Godchildren and nieces/nephews come Christmas time. After, seeing how wonderfully it is illustrated I am going to have to keep an eye out for Gennady Spirin’s book We Three Kings.

I pre-ordered a copy of Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing. The story sounds really sweet and I am excited to share it with the boys. I was thinking I could even see if our priest would be willing to bless our Baby Jesus figure. I think the boys find that just awesome.
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Lastly, back in April Jessica, over at Shower of Roses posted a bunch of bargain books from an author named Demi for $5 a piece. At that time I ordered 3 of her books- Alexander the Great, Tutankhamun and St. Joan of Arc. I really wanted to add her Legend of St. Nicholas title to our library since we always celebrate his feast day in December. However, I wasn’t willing to spend $20 on it. I had a $5 dollar coupon off at a local bookstore and thought I might be able to pick it up there. However, they wanted $30 for it!
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But, this evening while browsing Amazon I lucked out and came across it on sale for $7.98! It should arrive next week! I am very excited to add it to our Christmas book collection. Demi’s books at just simply exquisite.


Very Early or Late Daybook…depending on how you look at it.

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Outside my window…
It’s dark and wet. The ground is boggy. However, I was the fun mom and let the boys play in the rain. I am glad to be able to say it’s just rainy here. While, I would love sunshine over the rain I am grateful that we aren’t experience the awful storms that have been ripping through Oklahoma and other central states.

 

I am thinking…
About what would happen if my children ended up separated from me. What would happen if we were a family in Oklahoma tonight and my boys ended up separated from me or Mark? Thomas would be able to tell people his name but he still has trouble with our last name. He doesn’t know our phone or address. Paul there is not guarantee that someone would be able to understand him. Antonio is so small he doesn’t even know how to say his own name. This is something that Mark and I must figure out and discuss. A plan will need to be formulated and I think it will include the use of these  in case I am lost bracelets.

 

I am thankful…
That I get to kiss and hug my kids tonight and that they are safe. I have found since having children things hurt so much more. They make my mother’s heart just ache. I’ve cried tears over the heart ache the parents in Oklahoma must be feeling because they either don’t know where their babies are or because their babies have gone to join Jesus. It makes me incredibly thankful that my babies are sleeping in the next room.

 

In the kitchen…
I am eating lots of salad. The boys are eating lots of fresh fruit. As the weather and humidity heat up it’s all about meals that don’t heat up the kitchen and the house.

 

I am wearing…
A fun retro tunic with leggings underneath it but as late as it is I should be getting dressed for bed and going to sleep. I read this great article on dressing and women’s clothes. I have a lot of thoughts on it- enough to fill a blog post of its own. Maybe tomorrow.

 

I am creating…
I am currently working on a lovely spring farm baby animal piece. I am excited about it. I am using prismacolor pencils which make things slow going.

 

I am wondering…
It Works. I have been hearing a ton about a new wellness company called ItWorks. I have several friends that are just raving about their wraps. So, I decided to give them a try. I wrapped this afternoon and so far I am pretty impressed. I noticed an immediate difference; so I am definitely wondering if it is a lasting thing. They say you continue to see results over a period of 72 hours; so I’ll be watching to see what changes I see in my belly wrinkles!

 

I am reading…
Lots of Children’s books to the boys. We are currently reading a children’s version of The Three Musketeers as a read aloud at lunch.

 

I am hoping…
That Mark gets good news in a couple more days on the results of his officer packet.

 

I am looking forward to…
Seeing my wonderful mother-in-law. She will be coming to visit in a few days.

 

I am learning
Once you are a mother you feel the pain whenever a child is lost, hurt or dead. You feel the pain almost as if it was your own child. Your stomach feels with dread as the thought briefly passes through your mind what if that was my child. You hug your kids a little tighter and say a prayer of thanksgiving that your child is okay. Then you mourn with the parents of the child in question.

 

Around the house…
The carpet cleaner trick I tried with baking soda didn’t do much for the carpet. We have carpet in the dining room (the dumbest thing ever when it comes to carpet!) and with 3 small children it looks pretty awful and is in need of a good deep cleaning. The baking soda absorbed some of the smell from the strained carpet and some spots that had felt sort of sticky weren’t so sticky anymore. However, it didn’t do much for the actual color of the stains.

 

I am pondering…
Kids playing outside by themselves. I allow Paul and Thomas to play outside by themselves regularly in our backyard. I will even allow Antonio to be outside playing if the other boys are out there. They can’t open the gates and I always have the back door open so I can easily hear them. I check on them regularly. I assumed that most people did this; at least for kids Paul’s age (5). However, a recent conversation with some of my mommy friends proved that wasn’t the case. For me this was incredibly odd since Paul and all my mommy friends who have kids Paul’s age will be going to kindergarten next fall. I am always amazed (in a good way most of the time) about how different people parent from one another.

 

A favorite quote for today…

God is not a cosmic bellboy for whom we can press a button to get things done.  ~Harry Emerson Fosdick

 

One of my favorite things…
The amount of joy I’ve seen this past week in my children while we have been busy with our staycation. I read this and I’ve really been striving to work on being a yes parent more often.