Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Easy bake

Today, Sam and I made some really easy cookies. (Not that cookies are ever all that hard to make, but these are really easy).
All you need is:
1 box of cake mix
1/2 cup softened butter (I used margarine)
1 egg
mix together, bake at 350* for 9-10 minutes. That's it! They're not the world's greatest cookies or anything...actually not even as good as homemade (at least my batch, but I used white cake and margarine, maybe a different combo would have been better). But they ARE as good as those refridgerated ones you buy at the store. Since I have a few boxes of cake mix that I only paid 65 cents each for, they were definitley cheaper too. There are a few variations if you're using chocolate cake, so I added a link below. Oh yeah, I rolled mine up in wax paper and refridgerated for about an hour since we were using cookie cutters.

I really enjoy cake decorating, but it can be very time consuming. Also, Joel and I really aren't cake people. I only really love chocolate cake and Joel hates chocolate. Anyways, I've always wished I could do my decorating but on a smaller scale, so I want to try cookies. There are some really fancy ones out there! That is a project for another day though.

Today we did some super easy decorating. Yes, I'm using artificial dyes in my kids cookies, so if that offends you, you can stop reading, but I think in moderation it's fine. So, just mix up an egg white and a few drops of dye and "paint" it on the cookies before cooking.

This was our first time trying this, but what I loved is that it's soooo much less messy than decorating with icing, but still just as fun for the kids.

Here's the cookies when they came out of the oven.

Cute, huh? And  isn't that pink icing so pretty!? It hardens up so you can stack the cookies. That's the stuff I'm going to start practicing with. :)

website for cookies: http://busycooks.about.com/od/cookierecipes/r/cakemixcookies.htm

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thinking ahead...

Besides when I'm leaving Joel to fend for himself for extended periods of time, I've never been that good at preparing meals in advance. I'm not really sure why, but I think since my freezer is kind of small I didn't think I had enough room. It's obviously a really smart thing to do  since the difference in time between cooking 1 pound of chicken and 5 pounds isn't that big. Because I don't have room in the freezer to freeze up a bunch of complete meals, I decided to try just the meat and see how that works.  I started small today, 3 pounds of ground beef (with some chopped onion and garlic) on the stove and a couple pounds of chicken thrown in the crockpot with a can of broth and some taco seasoning.  I divided them in individual bags and then put them in one big freezer bag.

This might be a no-brainer but I never thought about it until seeing it in my trusty BHG magazine a while back, but I learned to freeze any extra liquids flat so they fit nicer. (They actually had their's filed away in alphabetical order, but I don't have that much stuff)

Hailey was a huge fan of me shredding the chicken!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Birth Order

I find psychology to be pretty interesting. I don't buy into everything I read, but at the very least, it's fun to hear theories. I recently finished the book "The New Birth Order Book" (Kevin Leman). It's all about how your birth order (first born, middle, baby, only child, ect..) effects your personality.

 I was sold on the book when it described Joel and his second brother perfectly, lol. It's like he wrote it about those two!  Anyways, I see alot of Sam in what he describes as the first born (although I'm sure I could find the other traits in him as well). I don't have time to look it up in the book, so I just googled it (this is several chapters in a couple sentences):

Over half of U.S presidents were firstborns. Clearly, firstborns are natural leaders. They also tend to be reliable, conscientious and perfectionists who don't like surprises. Although, firstborns are typically aggressive, many are also compliant people pleasers. They are model children who have a strong need for approval from anyone in charge.
Read more:

Sam's already our little perfectionist. He's the kid that gets upset when the other kids don't follow the rules...Probably about a year or so ago I told him that you were "supposed" to color inside the lines and he has been serious about it ever since. Anyways, thought I'd recommend this book. It's fun to compare people you know to their birth orders and see how they match up. Oh, and I'm not sure what my birth order actually is, but I think I go towards the firstborn the most.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pillow mountains and other stuff

 I'm pretty sure I invented the coolest game ever: take every pillow you can find, and throw them in a giant pile in the living room. The kids are going to be so sad when we get a new couch and I don't let them do this anymore.

 It's definitely a game that requires some supervision, but I got to sit on the couch and watch this cuteness for an hour and a half...and now Annaleigh is so tired, she's actually sleeping during nap time. I told you. It's awesome. ;)

While I sat there, I finished up a little something I made for a friend. She's doing her daughter's room in Minnie Mouse theme, so I tried to go along with that. I kinda have mixed feelings about the final project. I hate all the tiny pockmarks that showed up when I sewed the letters on top of it, but I'm not really sure how to avoid that. Ahh, well. Hopefully she likes it anyways. 


 I also almost finished Sam's owls. He and I just have to come to an agreement on what to put them on. I say a stick will do, but he has more elaborate plans...

 And finally, I learned how to make these tiny roses. They take about 30 seconds each, and are super easy...I'm thinking of making a little door hanger wreath.

 I usually work on this stuff in the evenings after the kids go to bed. Joel and I have a system...He plays video games, and I put a documentary or something on the laptop and do my little crafts (and then we're in bed by 10:00 every night, haha). Sometimes I feel a little nerdy since I'm always busy and the final results aren't that great, but I think it's fun, so I guess that's what counts!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My own personal drama...

I posted earlier about my plans for Sam's kindergarten, but after making the choice, I wasn't too sure about it. Joel has gotten the pleasure of listening to me go back and forth and back and forth on this for a few weeks now (and to his credit has never told me that he doesn't actually care, which is probably the case) and although there is still a little inner conflict I think I finally came to a decision. I know this is going to come off as kind of crazy since it really isn't a big deal (it's kindergarten we're talking about), but it's the little things that make up most of life. So anyways, I was all set on my homeschooling Sam, but then I decided that if it can happen I would love a spring baby, so suddenly I was faced with being pregnant and homeschooling (supposing it happens). This is the part where all my inner drama comes into play. I've been a little worried about what the school year would look like for Sam with me being pregnant, and suddenly the option of him being able to get out every day is not looking so bad. On the other hand, I actually feel kind of guilty/lazy about letting him go. It's totally a double standard, because I don't think anything of any other child going off to school, but because we have all these women in the family that have managed to homeschool 6 kids, I feel like I'm just trying to get out of taking care of my own kid.

I told you it was nuts. Sigh.

Like I said, I don't think of any of the mom's who don't homeschool as being lazy or bad at parenting, but I've felt that way about myself. :P Joel keeps telling me that I have to stop worrying about what other people will think (or probably more accurately- what I think they'll think) and do what's best for our family. I've never planned on homeschooling the kids till graduation, so it's never been something I'm all that gung ho about. Anyways, after a lot of debate, I've decided to enroll Sam into public school this year. The only thing I'm nervous about (besides the normal mom stuff) is Sam being around kids all day who don't have the same moral upbringing as we're trying to raise him in. Still, I've come to realize that we just have to keep teaching him godly principles while he's at home, and he'll be fine. After all, I was public schooled, and I didn't turn out all that bad. ;) (and lets face it, Christian schools have most of the drama as regular schools). Oh, not that it's the deciding factor, but Sam actually really wants to go to school, so that helps a little.

Blah. I hate the feeling of not knowing what to do.

Happy Father's Day!

Joel meeting Sam for the 1st time

Happy Father's Day to all you wonderful papa's out there! I was going to make a nice little speech about Joel, but I realized that it's kinda hard to describe "perfect." ;) Seriously though, my kids have a pretty awesome dad. I think being the oldest of six prepared him for it a little, because he's the most relaxed person around kids I've ever met. (and just what I needed since I was a total nervous wreck when Sam was born). And he's soooo very patient. What's better than that!? Anyways, we had a nice day  today. (I don't understand people who don't celebrate Fathers/Mother's Day for their spouses.) Nothing huge: breakfast in bed, church, lunch out, complete laziness, a few little gifts, and of course, fruit pizza!

Joel and Sam

Annaleigh and daddy


Father's Day today!

Father's Day fruit pizza

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Truth revisited

Okay, I know it's way too early to make any judgements on this, but  I'm pleased to say that the lying in this house has gone down dramatically the past few days. After my last blog on the subject, Sam and I had a long talk about it. Sam told me he really wanted to stop, but didn't know how to, so I told him that if he prayed, God would help him. This took some extra explaining since Sam took that as meaning that God would make it physically impossible for him to lie. I explained that God would help him remember what the right thing to do was, but then Sam would have to make the choice on whether or not to tell the truth. (A good reminder for me too!) The next day when Sam was telling a lie, I reminded him that he had prayed to God for help and that right now God was telling him what the right thing to do was, and Sam decided to tell me the truth. So that was a pretty big step. Of course he's still struggling with it, but he's been doing a lot better, and has actually been honest more often than not. Hopefully it sticks! Every night when we say prayers, he has been asking for God's help without any reminder from me. How I love that sweet little boy!  Haha, a rather humbling moment-I was explaining to Sam how I have to pray and ask God for patience, and Sam had a list of my impatient times ready for me!

VBS is going pretty well. I've always thought about being an Elementary school teacher, but this is making me think twice about it. ;) We have 33 kids (23 of them boys) but thankfully there are lots of activities scheduled throughout the day. I taught my first Bible study to a class yesterday and was mostly able to keep them calm for half an hour, so i was happy about that! Here's a few pictures of our room. I can't take any credit for it though-I didn't do the boxes and the other ideas weren't mine (actually, I did very little-just some of the city cut outs on the wall). I only have pictures of the room I'm in, but all the classes are equally cute.
the "Broadway" stage

We added a basketball hoop against the board.

another angle

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Big Apple

Vacation Bible School starts tomorrow! I am so excited. I love VBS, and this year is extra special, because it's Sam's first year! I'm a co-leader for the K5 group, and we have 28 (!!) in our class this year. I will be sure to bring extra Tylenol with me. Our church does an amazing job with VBS. I'll post pictures of our classroom later this week...the theme this year is New York City. It's so cute.
Sam woke up Saturday throwing up AGAIN. I had no clue what was going on with that boy. He's done it three or four times this month-wake up around 6am throwing up and be all better by lunch time. My pastor's wife mentioned to me today that her kids did that when they had bad allergies because of all the mucus draining into their tummies all night. Yuck, but it makes sense, so hopefully Sam's new allergy medicine will help him a little.

Besides the vomit, Saturday was nice. Joel watched the kids and I went out for some retail therapy. He's such a sweetie...I asked him what he wanted for Father's Day, and he told me I should just go shopping and buy myself some clothes. LOL, I kinda wonder if it's because I've been so grouchy this week and he thinks maybe buying clothes will make me less grumpy, but I'm just gonna say it's cause he loves me. ;)

btw, I told him no.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Barney and blessings

So glad it's Friday! What a week. Since we've been back from Colorado, Sam has been sick three seperate times. It's like he gets better just so he can get sick again. I think today I picked up whatever it was he had last time, which means Barney has been keeping my kids company today. ;) Oh how Allie loves that Barney!
With all the sickness and heat, we've been stuck inside the house and it's led to a general feeling of grumpiness all around-especially me! I have had such a grumpy and complaining heart all week! It was more than just being tired or overwhelmed or needing a little break, but a bad attitude. I love being a stay at home mom, I truly do, but this was one of those weeks that made me want a vacation. From the kids. I find it hard to admit this, because I'm not complaining about a bad boss or an annoying coworker, but my own little darlings. I've been praying and praying for a change of heart, and one thing that always helps me is that when I have something to whine about, I find a blessing in it. All that laundry? Thank you God we have clothes to wear! Awful allergies? Thank you God we have medicine to help! Dishes again? We have food to eat! It always helps put things in prespective.
I know I have so much to be thankful for, and I know that I have been so blessed by God, but I also know that if I don't guard my heart it is easy to take those things for granted.I also am reminded of Martha. She was so overwhelmed by what she had to do that she took up a heart of complaint rather than surrendering all to Jesus.
So here's to a week of Mary-ness!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tell the truth

I don't know where it came from, but the past few weeks Sam has been lying like crazy...and he's really good at it (and he knows it's wrong). He'll look me right in the eye and tell me over and over that he's being honest and "he really didn't do it." It's so frustrating. I hate that I can't trust him anymore! I have no clue what to do in the times when I'm pretty sure he's lying about something, but I don't have any proof. I don't want to punish him for something he didn't do, but at the same time if he keeps getting away with stuff I'm afraid it will reinforce this naughtiness. Lately, if I know he did something, I'll ask him about it, to see if he will tell the truth or not. Today, he yelled at Annaleigh (something I probably would have just told him not to do), and when I asked him if he did, he said "no." I told him to think about it, and asked again, and he tells me, "I didn't yell. I'm not lying." After dealing with that incident, his response was, "Well, I didn't know you heard me. "
Sigh. Of course I want the lying to stop, but I don't want it to be because he's afraid of punishment (although I suppose that's better than nothing), but rather because of a change of heart. I'm kind of hoping that it's just a phase he's going through, but sin isn't something that becomes easier to get away from as time goes by...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fruit Pizza

This isn't my recipe (actually, none of the recipes I've posted are originally mine, just modified versions), but it is super easy and soooo delicious.

1  package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 package cream cheese, softene
1 small container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 tsp vanilla
Assorted fruit, thinly sliced. (strawberries, peaches, banana, and  kiwi are my favorites)

"Smoosh" all the cookies together (or make homemade dough) and spread out on a greased pizza/cookie pan. Bake at 350 until cooked through.

Once cooled I like to slice the cookie before adding the toppings. It's easier than cutting through the fruit, so serving time is less messy. You can just ignore my crazy colors. I was working with some Halloween cookies that have been in the freezer since october.

In blender, beat cream cheese with vanilla until smooth, then add whip cream.  Sometimes if I'm having a sweet tooth kinda day I add a couple tablespoons of powder sugar.

Next spread the mix on top of the cookie and then add fruit. (tip: dip the banannas in lemon juice to keep them from turning brown).

It's a simple and pretty treat, and everyone loves this thing. It's so good. We like to finish it off for breakfast the morning after (hey, it's got fruit so it can't be any worse than donuts!).

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Yesterday, I started working on potty training Annaleigh. She's still pretty young, but I think maybe she could get it. I decided to use the same method as Sam-kick the diapers and go straight to undies (besides a pullup at naptime/car rides). With Sam I gave him an m&m if he sat on the potty and a gummy worm if he actually went. It worked like a charm and was going to be my method this time. Allie's just too smart! After two tries sitting on the potty, she realized candy was involved, so she kept running to me with the biggest smile on her face and saying "I gotta go potty." Then ten seconds after getting on she'd hop off and say, "I want ball" (ball=m&m). As soon as she ate her candy she'd come running back needing to go again. She never actually did her business on the potty (which is normal), but now I'm not so sure this is the best method. Ahhh, I think I'll try for a few more days and see if now is a good time, otherwise we'll come back to it in a few months.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The pride and pain of home ownership

Owning a home has always been a dream of mine. I know that sounds a little dramatic since Joel and I did end up becoming homeowners at 23, but still even as a teenager it's something I really wanted. My favorite tv shows were the ones on HGTV about buying a house, but now they drive me nuts. It seems pretty standard to see the realtors encouraging those people to buy houses at the very top of their price range, and those people always seem to say that they won't mind living off of Ramen so long as they get that walk in closet. Yeah right.  I am so thankful that Joel and I decided what we could really afford before we applied for a loan, and that we were able to resist any temptation to spend more (we used  about half of what we were approved for).

Owning a home has been fun, and I really love our house. It's exciting to see all the changes we've made and know that we made them. Our plan was to buy a house in GA and after Joel finished his enlistment, he'd get a job as a contractor here and we'd have several years of house payments down.  It seemed like a smart plan, but we weren't planning on Joel hating his job, so the new plan is for Joel to re-enlist but under a different career field, which means bye-bye Georgia.
I'll be sad when we eventually put our house up for sale, but I won't be sad to not be a homeowner anymore. It's definitely something I wouldn't jump into so quickly again. It turns out a house is a lot more expensive than just mortgage and utilities. Things are always breaking, which is to be expected (although it actually happens more often than expected), but there are a lot of expenses that we never thought about. Like pest control. I called every single exterminator in the phone book  and found the best deal, but it's still $200 a year. I found out today that termite prevention will be $1,000 (not going with that one). Stuff like that comes up constantly.
It's awesome knowing that the house is all ours (well, technically in 18 or 19 years it will be all ours), but on the same side,  that can be stressful. I think if we were planning on staying here it would be better, but knowing that we're leaving in the not too distant future makes me feel ready to shed some responsibility. I'm thinking I may actually start looking for a realtor in the next few weeks so that we have "plenty" of time to sale the house...and if that doesn't work it looks like we'll be  landlords one day. :P
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