Butter a Cracker, Make a Memory

"Just butter the crackers, Lizz."

That is what I've told myself this week as I've been tempted to get overwhelmed at all I want to do before Christmas morning.

You see, my grandma almost always served butter with crackers as an appetizer. She isn't much of a cook. I love her dearly and say that with a heart full of love.

Despite her culinary challenges, my grandma and grandpa's house was always open to us. I don't remember what she served for dinner. I have no idea how much of it was from scratch or how much of it was simply heated and tossed onto her own dish to make it look homemade. I don't recall what else was served as an appetizer besides the old standby of butter and crackers.

It doesn't matter.

My children likely won't remember (or even know this year for that matter) if the cupcakes to celebrate Jesus' birthday were made from scratch of if I bought them at the Target bakery. They won't remember if we had homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning or a quick breakfast of waffles and scrambled eggs.

Will they recall if the packages were perfectly wrapped with tidy little bows?

I doubt it.

Yet, will they remember the time we spend together playing games, baking cookies, and visiting the most festive parts of the city?

I dare say they will.

So, if in order to make Christ-centered family memories , I have to serve butter on crackers, so be it.

If my children feel half as loved in my house as I felt in my grandma and grandpa's, I'll say our Christmas was merry indeed.


Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Since I have visions of sugar plums, (whatever those are), as well as a to-do list dancing through my head, I thought I join in on the fun of a Christmas Survey that has been circulating.

In fact, I've lost count of how many times I've received this little survey via email. I've noticed it posted on blogs and was even tagged on Facebook with it. So...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both. I'm starting a new tradition this year with my two oldest children. We went to the store and they each picked out a roll of wrapping paper. Their gifts will be wrapped in the wrapping paper they chose.
2. Real tree or artificial? Artificial. Is there any other kind when you have young children?
3. When do you put up the tree? Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Usually closer to Thanksgiving)
4. When do you take the tree down? Sometime between Christmas and New Year's.
5. Do you like eggnog? Occasionally.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? A My Child doll. She had a blue dress and that is about all I remember.
7. Hardest person to buy for? Most of the males in my family.
8. Easiest person(s) to buy for? Ann because if it is adorned with a princess, she likes it.
9. Do you have a nativity scene? We have one and it is the Fisher Price one. I'd like to add to it.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Decline to answer because it was given by someone who may read this. (Ditto to my friend's answer here.)
12. Favorite Christmas movie? Elf
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? It varies.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yup.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Nothing in particular.
16. Lights on the tree? White.
17. Favorite Christmas song? Holy Night.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We do both during the season.
19. Can you name all Santa's reindeer? Um, I sometimes get my kids' birthdays mixed up.
20. Angel or Star? Star
21. Open presents Christmas Eve or in the Morning? Christmas morning. However, we do open up new jammies on Christmas Eve.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The unrealistic expectations I put on myself followed closely by my kids' constant sugar high.
23. Favorite ornament? This year it would have to be the ornament with Tony's picture when he was 4, Ann's current age.
24. Favorite Christmas dinner? Anything involving shrimp.
25. Favorite Christmas Tradition: Advent Calenders. I have 4 different ways we're counting down to Christmas this year.
26. What do you want for Christmas this year? A watch and a date with hubby.
27. Who is the most likely to respond to this? I don't want to put that kind of pressure on anyone. :)
28. Who is least likely to respond? Well, if I was emailing this, I'd have to say my brother.
29. What does Christmas mean to you? It is Jesus' birthday. I can't think of anything better to celebrate than God sending His Son to save us!


A Christmas Open House (Sort Of)

Welcome. Come on in. The halls are as decked as they are going to get.

I'm a little late to Boo Mama's Christmas Tour of Homes, but hey, better late than never.

So, please do come in. Would you like some sugar cookies? Oh wait, the kids and hubby ate those. What's that? You didn't want any anyways. Good deal,I'll just get you some coffee and Peppermint Mocha creamer. Feel free to bring it with you as we take our little tour.

You've already seen the wreath on my front door. It isn't fancy, but it is the first wreath I've ever had. I bought it the first Christmas my husband and I celebrated as husband and wife. This is the fourth home it has hung in seven years of marriage.

Did you notice the bells hanging near the door? There is no rhyme or reason to them other than they match the house. They are probably meant to hang over a door knob, but I like them where they are so there they stay.

As you came in the house, you probably noticed the tree to the left. We decorated it with the help of three children four and under. Can you tell?

We always used to have a real tree. Then we had children. We purchased the cheapest artificial tree we could find. Sometimes I wish we had a fancier tree. However, I do think it will be interesting to see how long this 40-dollar beauty lasts. This is its fifth Christmas.

I keep things pretty simple around here, so we don't have much more to see. Would you like more coffee first?

Next is the mantel (obviously). I put up some garland. I bought it last year from my beloved Tar-jay. It was already decorated. All I added were the gold berries. I keep thinking I'll add lights as well. Maybe next year.

The stockings are almost hung. We need to add one more hook since our youngest was born after last Christmas. I can't bring myself to hang only four stockings, so they sit waiting.

Here is a blurry close-up. The striped stockings belong to my husband and me. The floral and brown ones were made by my step mom and belong to my oldest daughter and my son respectively. The pink felt one is simply a placeholder until the baby's homemade stocking arrives. Rumor has it that the stocking is already made. It may even be in the mail. Thanks Grandma C.!

Our nativity (sitting on the hearth) is of the Fisher-Price variety. All three of the children enjoy playing with it. Baby Jesus is hiding in a basket in the kitchen until Christmas morning.

The only other Christmas decoration we have is this Snowman night light. We only have one, so it is hanging out in the kitchen. The kids enjoy turning him on and watching the bubbles.

Oh wait, there is one more thing. I did a little decorating this afternoon. I put a strand of berries on the light hanging over the kitchen table. I'm hoping this can be a year-long decoration because I'm really starting to like it.

Okay, that's it. Feel free to stay as long as you'd like. We love company. Please be sure to leave a comment so I can come visit your place. Also, don't forget to stop by Boo Mama's to find the list of other Christmas Tour of Homes participants.

Merry Christmas!



The Christmas tree lights cast a lovely glow as my husband plays Christmas music on his piano. The baby is playing quietly by his feet. The older children are in bed. I'm in awe.

Five years ago today, I didn't know if I'd be able to have one baby, much less three. That day, my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. My heart broke that morning.

Meanwhile, my heart still breaks. It breaks every time I hear of a woman who lost her baby before she had a chance to meet her little one. It is for those women that I pray today. If you happen to read this post, would you mind stopping and doing the same?


Do They Stay or Do They Go? (A Couch Makeover)

There is a scene in the movie Along Came Polly where Ben Stiller's character begins to take a knife to all of the throw pillows on his bed. My husband and I frequently joke about that scene.

You see, I wouldn't mind a bed adorned with decorative pillows. My husband is an engineer. His motto is "function over form." Need I say more?

He is very gracious to let me have my way with most of the house, but I do believe too many pillows on the bed would be crossing the line. Enter the couch.
For the last two years, it has been sporting some plain old cream pillows that I got for under 10 dollars total. They have served their purpose, but they are blah. (They are also filthy.) See for yourself.

So, today as I meandered my way through Walmart, I found myself in one of the home decor aisles. Okay, I walked there on purpose, but whatever. My couch now looks much better, don't you think?

Isn't it amazing what a simple thing like pillows can do for making a room cozier?
Did you notice the tags are still on the pillows? That is because I'm having a hard time justifying buying new pillows. I wouldn't exactly classify them as a need. Not to mention that it is the season of giving, and I'm pretty sure that doesn't mean giving to oneself.
Besides that, my husband is still an engineer.


It's Cold Outside!

So, since it is cold outside, we have been trying to keep busy inside. This time of year makes it easy to find fun things to do in the kitchen. Baking cookies is always a hit with my crew.

Though technically, they are interested in all aspects of cooking baking except the actual baking part. Waiting 10 minutes seems excruciatingly long if you are a preschooler.

Their favorite part of making cookies is decorating them. I'm pretty sure this is because they like to lick the frosting off of their hands. Still, they like to make their cookies as festive as possible.

Thanks to my aunt, I now have new way to let my kids frost their cookies. Instead of a knife, I'll be letting them use a decent size paint brush. The stiff bristles are perfect for "painting" the cookies. I tested this tip on my two-year-old and it worked like a charm. He was able to more evenly spread the frosting as we made our first Gingerbread Tree.

Now, if only they made frosting that tasted awful while you decorated the cookie and then reverted back to its sugary goodness once mommy stashed the cookies in a hard-to-reach place, cookie baking would be a frequent activity at my house.

I can only handle so many days of being cooped up with children who've ingested too much frosting!

For more tips, please visit Rocks in My Dryer.


The One Where I Get Deeply Cheesy

I'm already a week overdue on writing Baby Jane's 10-Month Letter. However, I'm guessing only my mom and possibly my husband eagerly wait for those, so it is still on hold.

As I contemplate that post in my head, I have to laugh. Every single time, and I do mean every single time I reflect on Jane's babyhood, I hear a little soundtrack. (And I do understand if you write me off as crazy and stop reading right now.) I always think of the song "You are My Sunshine." It is cheesy, I know. I can't help it.

The other thing that I always think about is my guilt. I sometimes have guilt over enjoying Jane's first year so very much. I don't love her any more than my other children, still I feel guilty admitting that I've enjoyed this year so much.

I know part of it is that I'm at ease with being a mom of little babies. I mean I've practically been that for four years straight. But, the other thing is that Jane is the most easygoing baby I've ever met. Sure, she is getting to be more of a handful now that she moves and gets into every. single. thing. Yet, all things considered, she is much easier to care for than Ann and Chris were at this age.

There, I've said it. I do feel a bit better about being honest. No one ever told me about the guilt of having an easy baby. Moms frequently see me with just Jane and comment about how their babies would never sit and do such and such. I never know how to respond without feeling like I've been a bit disrespectful to my other children. I mean, saying "I've paid my dues," doesn't seem right.

Besides, high maintenance babies don't mean those same children won't turn out to be lovely. They are simply babies who cry a lot. We mamas don't love them any less.

Perhaps it can all be summed up by what my grandma used to say. She sometimes said that "she loved us, but she didn't always have to like us."

I don't always have to like the stages my children are at, but I will always, always love them. Who knows, Jane might be a bit of a challenge as a toddler. I reserve the right not to like that, but I will love her. I might even kiss her while I put her in time-out.

This motherhood business is a tricky thing.

Now that I've written this scattered excuse for a post, maybe I can write guilt-free about my days enjoying Jane's first year. After all, there are less than two months until she turns one. I won't get started on that. I'm tempted to boycott her first birthday party because I'm in denial that my baby could be so old so soon.

I do believe that is enough rambling for one day, don't you think?


I Think the Pictures Say it All

In other words, we had a crazy but fun time making gingerbread cookies today.


Waiting For a Moment

I keep waiting for the perfect moment to sit down and blog a bit. Throughout the day, I think of things to write. I know I have pictures to share and I'm due to write my baby girl's ten-month post. However, that moment hasn't arrived yet.

Perhaps it is because, in my mind, the perfect blogging moment is a clean and quite house. I see myself with a hot cup of coffee or cocoa in my hand as I leisurely write a few posts and read some of my favorite blogs. Um, yeah.

So, I'm settling for lukewarm coffee and a slightly messy house. The kids are happy and we've had a good day. Now that I think about it, it may just be the perfect moment.

As I sat down to write, I realized that it has been a year since I started blogging. So, I have a favor to ask. If you read this blog at all (and I know some of you who do) would you please kindly leave a comment. I'd love it. And little brother, I'm also talking to you. I love getting your comments. They truly make me smile.

And now, I leave you with the first post I wrote. I originally posted it on December 1, 2007. That was before I even let my mom know about my blog.

I thought I'd start out by explaining my blog title.You see, as a mom of a three-year-old girl and an 19-month-old boy, I'm usually quite busy. Add to that the fact that I'm sporting a pregnant belly and you'll be able to imagine that I can make quite the entrance into a public place.Usually, I'm holding a preschooler by the hand and clutching a squirming toddler on my hip. I'm also desperately wishing I had a free hand to put my maternity pants back in place.

Once we reach our designated spot, which is more often than not a super center of sorts, the fun begins.

First, I wrestle the toddler into a cart or stroller and work to convince the preschooler that staying with me is a good idea. You can probably guess how the rest of the trip goes.

Usually both the children do great, but even so, rarely does an outing go by that someone doesn't make a comment.

First, the person typically glances at my obviously pregnant belly, then at my two children, and finally says something like, "my, you have your hands full."Yes, I certainly do, but you see along with full hands is a very full and blessed heart.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

As I reread this, I realized that some things haven't changed. People still tell me my hands are full and I still wouldn't have it any other way.


Thank You!

Thanks for your great ideas for traveling with small children. I'm also thankful to those who I know must have been praying for us.

I especially want to thank my kind cousin who sent me a great link. These ideas, while not novel, are very useful. I'd used clipboards in the car before, but I'd never thought to use cookie sheets. It worked like a charm.

Those same tips also reminded me that a road trip doesn't have to be neat and tidy. I cut up small pieces of paper and brought along glue sticks. My son enjoyed gluing the small scraps of paper into a notebook.

Messy? Yes.

Worth it? Definitely.

Now, I have one tip of my own to share. Normally I stick to this rule, but yesterday, I deviated from it.

The rule is to stick to the child's normal diet as closely as possible. Otherwise you may end up spending the first few hours at grandma's house wiping little bums. We'll leave it at that!

Though I'm sure this little visit out west will give me plenty of stories to share, I'm going to wait to do that until after we've officially celebrated Thanksgiving.

Until then, have a very Happy Thanksgiving!


He Screamed for Five Months!

Who screamed?

My son. My darling son.

He screamed each and every time we were in the car until he was 5 months old. As he got older, he would grant us brief periods of quiet. However, car travel longer than 20 minutes was still not fun.

He was two months old the first time we took a long road trip. He screamed for 9 of the 10 hours we were in the car. I promise I'm not exaggerating.

Now, at 2 and a half, he is still a challenge in the car.

This is where I need your help. We have a trip coming up. This trip is one that takes 9 1/2 hours without children. Care to guess how long it will take us with the children? I have no idea. I'm praying for not much longer than 10 1/2 hours.

So, could you please help a girl out? What has worked for you with your travel with little ones? Oh, I guess I should mention that we do have a DVD player in the minivan. I'll also add that my son has no interest whatsoever in television. Usually, I appreciate this, except of course when we have long car rides.

Any suggestions? Please, pretty please.


Create a New Birthday Tradition

It's simple.

Just begin the tradition of eating ice cream for breakfast on your kids' birthdays. I'd say dealing with their sugar high is a small price to pay for the fun memories made by a fun tradition.

Add to the fun by assigning a certain plate as your family's "special day" plate. We use a simple red plate that I bought at Walmart. A fancier version, such as this, could also be used.

It works for me, and it tastes great too! Please stop by Rocks in My Dryer for more Works-for-Me Wednesday ideas.


Has it really been four years?

Exactly four years ago today, we brought home our first baby. I remember feeling both excited and nervous.

Yesterday, as I watched my firstborn wait for her friends to arrive to her first big-girl birthday party, I felt the same way.

I'm thrilled to be on this journey with my sweet Ann. It has only been four years, but they've been some of the best years.

Happy Fourth Birthday, Ann! Your Daddy and I are honored that we get to be your parents. We love you sweet one.


Happy Nine Months!


You are nine months! I can hardly believe it. There is something about nine months. Perhaps it is because it seems to mark the beginning of being an older baby and soon a toddler.

This picture makes me smile. It really describes you, as you are both laid back and adventurous. That is such a delightful combination. Even with most of your eyes covered, you smiled as you attempted to climb a few stairs.

Sweet girl, you have been a wonderful addition to our family. You happily go wherever we need to go. It doesn't matter where we're going, you simply have a good time. You freely offer smiles to anyone willing to make eye contact with you. However, you reserve the biggest smiles for your family. We love that!

You are trying hard to keep up with your brother and sister. They are so sweet to you. (Most of the time.) Your brother even requests that you play in his room with him. He also never lets me drop him off at Mother's Day Out without first letting him give you a kiss.

There are times when I wish you would stay this age forever. I don't think I would ever tire of your cuddles and you almost toothless grin. Yet, I'm so grateful that you are healthy and growing stronger with each day.

I love you little one. May this next month be even better than the last! (And may I suggest that a key to making this a stellar month would be sleeping through the night. Just a thought. Sleep is fun, fun, fun!)


It's a Dirty Job

But, someone has to pick the chocolate chips out of the baby's muffin. It might as well be me!

I have a feeling it won't be too long before she is on to what I'm doing. I better eat those chocolate chips while I can.



One would think that the same child who has repeatedly stuck his hand into a dirty diaper would be excited about putting the same hand into a pumpkin.

The look on his face proves he prefers stinky over slimy.

It should be noted that I worried I might be crossing the line by documenting the fact that my son has repeatedly stuck his hand in his poop. It isn't my intention to use my blog to humiliate my children. Also, I do realize that he won't be little forever. One day he may read this post. He might even be a bit embarrassed about what I shared.

I do believe I will tell him it is payback for having to wipe poop off multiple items in his room one too many times.

That's fair. Right?


Adding to Mimi's Photo Album

Earlier today I received an email from my mom. In it, she referred to herself in the third person and wrote, "Mimi is waiting very patiently for pictures of Halloween."

Oh, really?

Thanks for your patience, Mimi. Here you go.

This is our fairy princess. Ann's costume was quite basic. However, it made her happy and that is all that mattered. We managed to talk her into wearing the headband for a quick picture, but that was it. That is probably just as well since I don't think fairy princesses usually have antennae.

In case you missed it, here is a closer shot of her choice of footwear. She bypassed her dress-up princess shoes and actual dress-up shoes in order to wear these. Do we have a budding fashionista on our hands?

Our little guy decided to be a fireman instead of a frog. The picture doesn't show how the coat reached down to his ankles. If you ask this mama, it only added to the charm.

As I looked at the above photo, I realized we must have had a theme going with mismatched head wear. He quickly ditched his hat as well.

Now, I never tire of looking and Jane in her little pumpkin suit. All three of our babies have worn this. I do believe I will have a hard time parting with in. Perhaps I could talk my children into having their children wear it?

Here is the family shot. Please note that 4 out of 5 of us are LOOKING IN THE SAME DIRECTION! If I had known this would happen, we would have all been wearing coordinating outfits and I would have have my Christmas card ready to go. Oh well.

Now, I saved the best for last. This is what I saw as I peered into Ann's bag of candy. Can you guess what I took for myself?

I'll give you a hint by telling you that the 3Musketeers is a full-size candy bar.
Strange, I'm suddenly craving a little chocolate.


Choosing a Song

Blogger seems to think I don't need paragraphs today. Hope this isn't too hard to read!
"My back aches.
My pack's too tight.
My booty shakes from the left to the right.
From the left, to the right.
From the left and to the right."
Those are the words of a silly song I once sang from within the mountains of Colorado. My dear high school friends and I went on a five-day backpacking trip through Young Life. It was the summer before our Senior Year. (1995 for inquiring minds.)
Now we were only 17, so I highly doubt our backs really ached. However, I do remember blisters and thinking that my backpack really was a tad too heavy and a bit tight.
I don't remember how many miles we covered, but I do remember we reached our destination.
The conditions weren't always perfect, but we had fun. We slowly worked toward our goal and enjoyed doing it.
I recalled this trip today as I worked in the kitchen. The older children are at Mother's Day Out. As with any morning we need to be somewhere at a certain time, I can get a bit anxious and frustrated when no one else has shares my sense of urgency.
So when, moments before we were to leave, I found Ann and Chris hiding under blankets in my bedroom, I simply barked orders.
"Don't hide right now!"
"We don't have time for this."
"Don't make a mess in this room!"
"Hurry up and find your socks and shoes."
"Let's go. Let's go. Right now!"
It doesn't quite have the same ring to it as the Backpacking Song, now does it?
As I drove them to "school," I replayed the morning's events in my head. I could have chosen a different way to respond this morning. I suppose I could have song a song, but more realistically, I could have been playful.
"Where are you?" I could have called.
I could have laughed when they giggled from beneath the blankets. They would have probably begged to hide again, and I could have said they could as soon as we got back home.
Then we could have raced down the stairs to get shoes and coats.
There are many other positive ways I could have encouraged their cooperation this morning. Sure, it might have taken more energy and creative thinking. And, yes there is a time to expect their immediate obedience. But I don't think running a few minutes late to a Mother's Day Out program qualifies as one of those situations. The Lord doesn't run around barking orders at me. Why should I do that to my children?
Hiking through the mountains takes a lot of energy. Parenting takes more. Just like we were going to eventually end up back at base camp, I was likely going to eventually get the kids to school.
It would have been a lot more fun if I'd done it with a "song."


Just Thinking

Before Ann was born, I bought a lovely pale yellow Creative Memories Scrapbook. Within a month or two of her birth, I faithfully began cropping pictures of every. little. milestone.

Almost eighteen months later, Chris was born. The pale blue scrapbook was waiting. Less than six months later, I began working on his first scrapbook.

Now, little Jane is nearly 9 months. If you asked me about her scrapbook, I would say something like:

"Um, what is that? Could you spell that please?"

"Does that start with an 'S'?"


Another One for Mimi

Both my mom and her husband are having a tough day. (That is probably an understatement.)

So, though I'm not too fond of posting pictures of me, I thought I'd post this picture for my mom. I have no doubt it will make her smile. I could have emailed it to her, but she is my most loyal reader, (except for maybe my husband) so I thought my blog was the perfect place to put it.

We love you Mom/Mimi! This was taken last night. True to form, little Jane smiled just as the camera was directed her way. We love you and are praying for you both.


It Isn't Easy Being Green

This evening, as we cleaned up the kitchen, Tony and I had the following conversation:

Tony: "Would you buy the good dishwasher detergent again?"

Me: "You mean Cascade?"

Tony: "Yes."

Me: "I was just trying to be environmentally friendly."

Tony: "You throw away like 20 diapers a day."

I guess I'll be adding Cascade to this week's grocery list.


Not Quite There Yet

We're in the midst of our second try at potty-training Chris.

Yesterday, I was encouraged that he asked to go a few times before he wet his underwear. He seemed motivated by the little pumpkin candy rewards he received.

Later in the day he ran up to me and said, "Mommy, I wet my pants. I need a pumpkin candy."

Of course, I said, "Well buddy, you need to actually go in the potty to get a candy. You can't go in your pants."

He hopefully added with a sense accomplishment, " I went in my underwear too!"

Alrighty then. It has been noted that we have our work cut out for us.


Attack of a Bit of Mommy Guilt

Some days...

You have to break the "only-one-cup-of-juice-a-day rule."

You have to let the kids watch more than one show.

Because if drinking juice while watching a movie is what gets everyone through the rainy, cold, day with a smile on their faces, then so be it.

Those type of rules are only guidelines anyways. They aren't things that will matter in twenty, ten, or five years.

Now, my head knows these things. But, I still have this nagging guilt when we have days like this. I feel like I've failed my children because I haven't kept them otherwise occupied with age-appropriate activities.

Perhaps I'll overcome the guilt by cuddling with them as we watch a movie. Seems like a good compromise to me.


When We're Not Asking That Question

"Do you need to go potty, Chris?"

If you were to stop by, you'd hear Tony and I ask that question many, many, many times. Ann even occasionally gets in on the act.

However, we're managing to squeeze in a few other things even in the midst of potty training.

Things such as Jane's first trip to the pumpkin patch.

And, Chris's first haircut by Daddy. Here he is getting ready.

This made me smile.

Not bad for a free hair cut, eh?

Ann helped me make our first apple pie. I should mention that I don't mean our first apple pie of the season. I actually mean our first apple pie ever. Tony isn't a fan of fruit pies, so I'd never made one. Luckily for me, the kids like them. That means I'll have an excuse to make them every so often. Yay!

At other times, Ann can usually be found twirling around the house.

She keeps asking us if she can go to a wedding soon. She wants to wear a white dress with diamonds on it. We tell her she can go to a wedding, but it will be a very, very long time before she gets a turn at a wearing a wedding dress. And, the diamonds? Well, that is probably wishful thinking, but we let the girl dream.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a question to ask my little guy.



Because It Can't Be Undone

I sat down a few hours ago to write a little post. That post is still not finished. It has been a good day, but as is typical these days, it has been busy. I suppose those of you with older children might tell me to get used to it.

Anyways, I felt the need to do something that couldn't be undone by the end of the day. That would be why I'm writing this little post. Such is not the case with the laundry and the dishes. As soon as I think I've caught up, I turn around to find a sink full of dishes or a hamper full of laundry. I've given up on the myth of being caught up. Still, it feels good to do something that is still done come nightfall.

So, I'm using this post to share the recipe for the cookies that I'm currently baking. Tony needs to bring a dessert to work tomorrow...

This recipe makes a ton! It is super easy and though there are several batches to bake, you can easily chase babies and toddlers while the cookies bake. Older children could probably do most of this by themselves. And, the cookies are yummy. And chocolate! Need I write more?

Chocolate Softies
2 Devil's food cake mixes
2/3 c. water
1 stick butter, melted
2 eggs
1 (12 oz.) pkg. white chocolate chips (semi-sweet can be substituted)
Add all ingredients mixing well. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto greased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 for 9-12 minutes. Cool for one minute and then transfer to a cooling rack. Enjoy!


Mission Accomplished, or Ann Sat on Her Pumpkin

In an effort to excite Ann about our trip to the pumpkin patch, I had begun reading From Seed to Pumpkin. We both enjoyed learning a bit about how a pumpkin grows. However, what captivated Ann more than anything was the illustration of children sitting on top of large pumpkins in the middle of a pumpkin patch.

She became a bit obsessed. Any time I mentioned the pumpkin patch, she mentioned sitting on a pumpkin. I told her that would, of course, be just fine.

At the time, I didn't know we were going to have a hard time navigating road construction which would cause us to be late to the farm. That would then lead us to miss the hayride which was supposed to transport us to the actual pumpkin patch where we were to harvest a pumpkin or two.

By the time we arrived at the farm, our group had already left on the hayride.

Fortunately, by the time Ann and Chris had played for a bit, our friends were back. Then, we all enjoyed seeing baby animals, playing on playground equipment, and getting lost in various mazes.

Before we left, Ann, Chris, and I visited the display of pumpkins for sale. We had been told that we could take a couple to replace the ones we missed picking. Ann was more concerned about plopping her cute little bum down on one. She hadn't forgotten her mission.

It may not have been as quaint and picture-perfect as the book's illustrations portrayed. (Is anything ever like the book?) Still, all was not lost, except of course for me on the way to the farm.

Maybe next time I'll let him drive.


Why I'm Glad My Dryer Broke

I turned the dial and pushed the button just like I've done countless times before. However, this time nothing happened.

The dryer appeared to be broken. I did what first came to mind. I opened the door and shut it once more. Then, I unplugged the dryer and plugged it back in. Still nothing. So, I opened the door one more time. This time something happened.

The dryer didn't start, but a tiny piece of black plastic did fall to the ground.

It didn't look like anything important, but since you never know, I looked a bit closer at the dryer door. Sure enough, the little latch that signals that the dryer door is shut, had broken. If I stood there and pushed down what was left of the latch the dryer worked. The second I removed my finger, the dryer stopped. I'm hoping a little super glue will fix it.

Meanwhile, I feel grateful that this happened. Why?

Well, it has nothing to do with the fact that I have a valid excuse for avoiding laundry today.

You see, I could easily blame the broken part on the dryer being a somewhat old and cheaper model, but I know the truth.

The truth is that I've slammed that dryer door one too many times. Now, admittedly, today I didn't really slam it. I just shut it a bit too hard as I hurried on to my next task.

However, there have been more times than I like to admit when I've angrily slammed that door as hard as I could.

There, I said, or rather wrote it.

I have a problem with anger. Sure it probably wouldn't qualify me for any anger management classes, nor would anyone ever worry I'd hurt my children. It isn't like that.

Rather, it is the type of anger that leaves me screaming, stomping, and of course, slamming over petty little inconveniences. I guess it's rather like a good old-fashioned temper tantrum.

The dryer door had seen its fair share of slams because I thought I was being clever by attempting to hide my anger from the children. Every now and then, when I life seemed to be one annoying little thing after another, I'd simply disappear into the laundry room and work on the laundry. If distraction and prayer hadn't changed my attitude, I might slam the door.

I suppose I thought if the children didn't see me, my anger wasn't that big of a deal.

Silly mama.

He always sees. He knows my heart even when I plaster a smile on my face or get really quiet. He knows what I'm muttering under my breath even if the children can't hear me. But He also understands!

Even better, just like I love my children too much to let them misbehave, He loves me too much to let me continue in my sin.

Today, He reminded me of that with a broken dryer.

If it takes a broken dryer to fix my broken attitude, so be it. I'm grateful.



The days where we have to be somewhere in the somewhat early morning are always a bit chaotic. Now, part of that is due to me getting anxious about leaving on time, but the rest is simply due to the little things that life with small children is made up of.

Those little things are typically no big deal. However, if a little thing happens involving each child right before we are supposed to leave, it can quickly add up to a big deal. Lost shoes, dirty diapers, and the like can make it a challenge to actually leave the house. I've learned to start getting ready waaaaay before we actually need to leave.

Yet, despite my best intentions and planning, this morning was just one of those mornings. The little things were adding up and my attitude was quickly turning sour.

Still, somehow we managed to get ready and head out to the van.

As usual, I strapped my three children in their three car seats, and that is when I saw this:

Can you see it? It is a spider. More specifically it is a spider who took up residence in my minivan. That same spider had spun a rather large web right above the front passenger seat.

Even the best-packed diaper bag doesn't prepare one for that. So, I headed back into the house and grabbed a fly swatter.

A quit swat later and the little beast was scurrying along our chalk-covered driveway.

As for me, I spent the better part of the morning with the sensation of something crawling on me.


Eight Months

Sweet Jane,

Can you believe it? You are eight months old. Well, you have been eight months old for a few days, but Mama is rarely right on time.

This month has been such fun. Sometimes I glance at you and see the toddler you will soon be. Oh you will have such fun with your brother and sister.

This month you have really started crawling. You combine crawling on your hands and knees with an army crawl. It gets you where you need to go. That usually means trouble.
You still have a fondness for power cords.
In addition, you are constantly picking up small items from the floor. Those items inevitably make it into your mouth if I don't get to you first. Needless to say, I keep my eyes on you at all times.

In addition to perfecting your crawl, you have also learned how to open drawers and cabinets. . Fortunately, you also seem to be beginning to understand the word "no."

This past month has been a fun one. You really enjoy being in the middle of the action and there is plenty of that. Still, you are always content to go with the flow.

You've added some new foods to your menu plan. Judging by the way you eye what we eat, it won't be long before you say goodbye to baby food and hello to "real" food.

Sweet girl, these months with you have been a joy. Daddy and I are always commenting about how sweet and wonderful you are. I promise that even though we had the three of you in somewhat rapid succession, we are still enjoying every bit of your first year.

We love you, little one!


What is it about...

baby heads? They are simply irresistible to me. I snuggle my girl's all. the. time.

In fact, just moments ago, I buried my face in her hair (what little there is of it) as I wiped prunes from her face.

Baby heads don't even have to be freshly washed for me to be drawn to them. Actually, the baby heads don't even have to belong to my offspring. I'm thinking all the sweet baby heads are the reason I work in the nursery at church.

Finally, what is it about those precious heads that makes already-sweet-smelling baby shampoo smell a thousand times better? I know that baby wash wouldn't smell nearly as wonderful on my head. Now that I think about it, that is probably a good thing. I'd look a little strange walking around while constantly smelling my hair.

I love having baby heads in the house!


We May Not Have Clean Clothes, but I Know Where to Find the Cumin

This was originally posted at the end of February. Seven months later, I can say the system is still working well. It is one of the few things I've organized that hasn't be a mess two hours later. Truth be told, I sometimes open my spice cabinet and just stare at it. It makes me feel better about the stuff bomb that seems to constantly explode in all other areas of the house.

Please be sure to head over to Shannon's at Rocks in My Dryer for more "kitchen management" tips.

A while back, I wrote about joining in on Org Junkie's Monthly Organizational Round-Up. I love to organize, much to the frustration and humor of my husband. So, I thought this sounded like fun. Org Junkie has designated a room of the house for each month. I thought that couldn't be too hard.

I did that thinking before sweet Baby Girl became a part of our family. Now, Baby Girl, thus far, is a mellow little one. However, she does have this little habit of wanting to eat every 2-3 and sometimes, bless her, 4 hours. This happens around the clock. Then, there are those other munchkins who live here who need things like food, clean clothes, and special time with their mama.

So, you can see how what at first seemed so doable, quickly became not so doable. Well, somehow, I did it. It is a good thing it is leap year and I had one more day in February to get something in my kitchen organized.

I chose my spice cabinet.

Here is a before picture.

As I cooked, I had to sort through the cabinet to find what I needed. Of course, whatever I needed usually happened to be at the top and in the very back.

Also, I learned that I had multiple containers of garlic powder, curry powder, crushed red pepper, and nutmeg. To top it all off, they were all partially used.

Now, here is the after.

I placed the salt and pepper shakers, cooking spray, and salt and pepper refills on the bottom shelf. The middle shelf holds the spices I use most while the top shelf holds those spices that I seldom use.

Finally, here is a picture of what I hope will make finding the spices even easier.

I took a Sharpie and labeled the top of each container. This way, I can easily glance and find what I need. Notice I put the containers with black lids at the front. Obviously, the marker wouldn't work so well on those.

So there you have it. The laundry still isn't finished, my hair is greasy, and the kitchen floor is yucky, but my spices, oh, they are in order.



I'm sitting at the library typing on a computer named Carle. I tried to sign in and use the computer named Happy. That didn't work. It is fitting, really. No one would accuse me of being happy this morning.

Of course, I have no reason to not be happy. I simply started responding to life's little inconveniences in a grumpy manner. It was my choice.

Now, I have four more minutes before my time on this computer is up and I need to log off. And, when I do sign off, it will be a sort of turning point in my day. I'm going to choose to be happy for the rest of this day. And yes, I do realize that I've set myself up to be tested.

So, when the children break something or stain something, I will choose to not let it ruin my day. Because it will happen.

Nap time will be too short and dinner time too messy. My choosing grumpiness won't make any of that change.

Deep breath, and here I go!


I Will Try

My Sweet Baby Jane,

Just moments ago, I put my finger in your mouth to look for teeth. I fully expected your mouth to be the same as it has everyday for the past seven months. You can imagine my surprise when I felt a tooth! That tooth is another sign that you are growing healthy and strong. I'm so grateful.

Yet, I must confess that my first instinct was not to celebrate another step in your journey. Rather, I the emotions I experienced were bittersweet. I had tears in my eyes.

You see, with the exception of a few sleepless nights, I've enjoyed each and every moment of this first year. Your first tooth served as a reminder to me that it will be over all too soon.

Then, I watched you crawl into the kitchen this evening as I loaded the dishwasher. My eyes grew misty.

Baby girl, please don't think for one minute that I'm not proud of you. I couldn't be more proud. And, to think that our family is experiencing this for the third time, well that only makes it more special.

Jane, I promise I will try to smile when you take your first step and say your first word. And when all those other firsts come along, I promise to do all I can to make sure you know just how proud I am of you. But, should I fail and tears come before my smile, please know that you are loved and your mama is so very proud.

I thank the Lord for the blessing that is your life.

I love you little one.




Earlier tonight, I realized that my mom or my sister might soon ask why I hadn't posted anything lately. Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words...

I spend quite a bit of my day chasing this little one. She is usually crawling over the baby toys I've given her in order to reach something more interesting like the dog's tail or a power cord.

I believe this picture foretells of what life will be like around here for the next several months. I love how she has a look on her face that says, "I didn't do anything."

Of course, the big kids are always into something. They have the best time together. Except when they don't.

They always keep me laughing. This little guy knows how to have fun. He also knows how to make his mama worry. He tends to act before he thinks.

Yes, these three little ones are certainly keeping my hands full these days. If you'd asked me a couple of months ago if it was much different having three children, I would have said no. Jane is such an easygoing baby. She was content to watch the world go by. The key word in that sentence is "was." Now, she seems to be saying, "Look out world! Here I come."

Life is certainly busy. So naturally, the old blog has been quieter. I suppose that is how it should be. As you can see from the pictures, it certainly isn't from lack of material that I haven't written more often.

My hands are most certainly full. But, my heart? My heart is near bursting with the joy of this life.