Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Today I baked bread

It's true.  We're out of bread.  I've been meaning to try my hand at a simple recipe an online friend shared but I haven't gotten around to it.  I had everything on hand, bought the bread flour a couple of weeks ago but never "had the time".  Well I'm learning that I don't ever have the time, I just have to take the time.  Not just for bread making but for other things too.  So I started with the kitchen aid mixer that I love and adore and don't remotely regret purchasing.

I didn't think to take pictures of the actual progress so here's a pic of the empty mixer bowl:

Once I did the initial mixing I took the ball of dough out on the counter here:

and I kneaded it a little more until it was still sticky but not too sticky.  Then I oiled this bowl here where I plopped the ball of dough to rise:

Then I punched it down and split it between these three bread pans like so:

Then I let it rise so it was an inch above the glass as the instructions said.  And then I popped it into the oven.  It baked for about 25min and I pulled it out and moved it around a little bit to make sure they cooked as evenly as possible (our oven is super old, lol).  I pulled them out and brushed melted butter on the top (per the instructions) to keep the top from becoming rock hard as it cooled.  See how amazing it looks?

Mmmm, yummy!

And for those of you who may ask I used this recipe from to make this bread.  I'll let you know how it tastes later after it's cooled.

And in other unrelated yet startling news my daughter just walked several steps across a room.  See what I miss when I'm blogging people?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Being real

A few things have been on my mind lately.  I want to say up front that this post is not about seeking sympathy or pity.  It's totally not.  At. All.  That said we'll move on to what's really on my mind.

Being real.  As a parent I feel pretty confident in the choices I make about 90% of the time.  I feel confident about the choices I make where research can be done and I can feel positive that I have to the best of my ability made the right choices for our family, for our children.  I don't feel a need to defend not vaccinating my children.  I don't feel a need to defend the fact that Spider at 2.5 is still rear facing in his car seat.  I do not feel a need to defend using cloth diapers (though I really don't do it for it's environmental impact, honest, it's cheaper. lol)  I don't feel the need to defend nursing my baby until such a time as she and I mutually choose to wean.

I still feel though that there are times I can't be real about these things.  I feel that in a mixed group - be it a group of women in the church foyer on Sunday or a group of women in an online forum on the third Tuesday of next month, that SOMEONE is going to take something I say personally when it isn't meant to be personal, take something I say out of context when I just wanted to be real about ME.

I try not to be selfish and self centered which being human is a pretty constant struggle but once in a while I do think that it's healthy, and necessary even, for the immediate world around me to be about me.  I'm not one that wants to be the center of attention often and I've definitely learned over the years the wisdom of listening to those around before blurting out my own stories because that can then seem to them that I'm trying to compete in some way with them when really I'm just trying to empathize and relate.  But I think in trying to be super sensitive about that these past months I've sat in the shadows, afraid to ever be real about me.  I'm afraid that if I complain because my kids are driving me batty and I have NO time for anything and my house is always a mess that someone listening/reading is going to hear me saying "that person has it so much better cause she gets to be away from her kids all day long while she's at work and only has to deal with their insanity for a few hours at night."  But that isn't what I'm saying.  I honestly don't envy working moms.  Mostly.  But then if I say that they might hear "I think you're a bad mom because you work."  Which isn't what I said or meant at all.  So how do I be real without being selfish, trying to center all attention on me, or without offending someone who may have made different choices for her family/life than I have?

Still not sure about it but I had to get this frustration out in words.  I've been thinking on it a lot the past few months.  Since moving back home to where I grew up I do not have a best friend.  I have friends.  I have ladies at church I can chat with casually between chasing down our kids and rounding up our husbands after service.  I have a few people I feel comfortable calling for a specific question here or there.  But I do not have a best friend.  I do not have that one woman friend that I can be 100% real with.  100% confident that no matter what I say she will love me and understand me.  And all I can do is pray.  Pray that when the time is right God will help me to find that person.  To open up to that person and to be the real me. 

What say you?  Do you struggle with similar things?  Have you found a solution?

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Saturday there was a lot of hoopla.  Well actually, the whole week leading up to today was full of hoopla.  Various comments, snide remarks, jokes, and scriptural refute of the matter of the rapture that was scheduled for 6pm on May 21st, 2011.

A few things in my own world - facebook, conversation with family in real life, etc. have left me thinking about this in a more serious and less humorous light.

First - someone mentioned that this "prophecy" did seem to be making some people stand up and take stock of their lives.  Perhaps it has done some good in the few that have decided to seek out the truth.  My own sister who walked away from church and God after a terrible experience in her late teen years said she prayed.  She was truly worried about "What if this really happens?"  And ya know, I have a confidence in my salvation that I could kinda shrug it off.  If it happened, it happened.  But I knew it wasn't going to (more about that in a minute) but it never occurred to me until today that it might have spurred a lot of people on to get things right with God.

Second - the bible says that no man knows the hour or the day of the rapture.  So I offhandedly dismissed this "prophecy" because I knew it was errant based on the truth of the bible.

I'm not an outgoing person.  I don't shove my beliefs on people.  But I have opportunity right now, in this forum of my personal blog to share my beliefs.  A lot of people who read my blog are fellow Christian moms who know what I believe and why.  But maybe there is even ONE person out there who does not know Jesus as their personal savior and this is my moment to share with them.  To reach out to them.

I believe that the bible is the inspired word of God.  I believe it to be completely true from beginning to end.  I believe that God created the heavens and the earth.  I believe that sin happened in the garden of Eden.  I believe that Jesus was God become flesh born of a virgin.  I believe that he walked upon the earth among men and lived a perfect life - being human and God at the same time.  I believe that when the time came he humbly surrendered his own human will to live and skip out on the pain and torture of the death he suffered, and instead took up the cross and the pain that came with it.  Dying a gruesome death.  I believe that he was put in the tomb, and rose again three days later.  I believe that he walked among his disciples and then ascended into heaven.  And I believe that He is the one and ONLY way to have a personal relationship with God (which was the intention of our creation to start with) and that only by accepting the sacrifice He made for us on the cross can we spend eternity in heaven with God.  I believe that those who do not accept the sacrifice of Jesus and follow him as their personal Lord and savior will spend eternity in the lake of fire - eternally separated from the love of God.  I do believe that one day the rapture will happen.  One day those of us who have accepted the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross will ascend with him into heaven to meet God.  Those who haven't will be left here.  Left Behind.

Am I narrow minded?  Perhaps but the bible said that narrow is the path to Heaven but wide is the path to hell.  I don't believe that I am narrow minded.  I believe what I believe.  I don't believe it because my mom told me to.  I don't believe it because it's the "cool" thing to do.  I believe it because when I was a little girl, about the same age as my oldest son now, I knew in my heart of hearts that God was, that He is, that the bible was true, that Jesus was real and was really Messiah.  I KNEW that God was the ONE person/being that would NEVER let me down.  That He would always be the rock I could cling to.  I didn't trust in Him because I was afraid of hell, I trusted in Him because He gave me peace.  As an adult I've had many times and I'm sure I'll have many more, when I question.  Question the narrow-mindedness of it all, question the chances of it all.  In the end I am always drawn back to nature, to creation, to knowing that our universe didn't just pop into being all on it's lonesome.  That it has a creator and that creator is God and that He was willing to send His own son to die for me so that *I* could have a relationship with HIM.  Wow.  Just wow.  I don't know how anyone can look at the stars or the trees or study the life cycle and claim there is no God.  I really don't.  It boggles my mind.

And so we were spared from the rapture this weekend.  But it is coming.  The time is growing short.  I pray my friend that if you are not one who has accepted Jesus as your savior that you take the time NOW to consider what I've said.  Seek out the truth for yourself straight from the word of God.  I've heard that John is a great place to start in the bible for people seeking the truth.

With that I pray you all have a blessed Sunday.  As for me and my household we will finally be getting our home cleaned back up after a morning of worship with friends at church.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Me and keeping a house clean

I'm such a fantastic house keeper.  My husband is so blessed to have me for a wife because I do such a great job keeping our house tidy and clean!  Said someone who is not me and who clearly does NOT have four small children walking (or crawling) behind her to re-create the mess she just picked up.

For years I have tried my hardest to get and keep our home clean.  I struggled as a child and a teenager at keeping my bedroom clean.  I hated cleaning the rest of the house every Saturday morning too.  Cleaning was something that I somehow learned to hate and dread.  Around about the time I was pregnant with Squirrel monkey someone online mentioned to me Flylady.  I headed on over to check out what she had to offer and what she had to offer was a TON of invaluable wisdom for someone like me.  A SHE.  Sidetracked Home Executive.  And Sidetracked I am. 

You might be a SHE too if you: go to the kitchen to unthaw the meat for dinner and on the way out of the living room grab the dirty laundry hamper, but halfway through the dining room see some dirty dishes that need to go in the dishwasher, set down the dirty laundry hamper near the table, grab the dishes, which end up on the kitchen counter when you see that someone left their shoes in the middle of the kitchen floor and pick them up to put them away and end up in the bathroom where you sit them down to empty the overflowing trash, but after you empty the trash into the bigger kitchen trash you leave the smaller trash can on the kitchen counter and glancing up into the laundry room realize you NEED to get a load of laundry in, you head back to find the hamper you abandoned 30 minutes ago.  Get what I'm saying?  Needless to say 5pm rolls around and the meat you MEANT to defrost is still solidly in the freezer, the dishes on the counter, the shoes in the bathroom, the bathroom trash can in the kitchen, etc.  It's not pretty.  I know.  I live it.

For some people it's hard for them to have any grace or compassion for people like me because they don't understand how we could possibly forget to get the meat out.  These people are Born Organized.  In my mind they are SUPER lucky people.  They just naturally know how to do their tasks through to completion in a logical manner.  They would NEVER leave the bathroom trash can on the kitchen counter, THEY would never allow shoes to be left in the kitchen in the first place.  They're so lucky.  Or maybe not.  Clearly I'm not born organized.  Anyone who knows me will loudly tell you that.  But I have been trying.  Trying to complete one task before moving onto to another.  Trying to take the meat out of the freezer right away when I think of it.  Trying to teach my children to clean naturally as a course of the day rather than in one big chunk of dreaded time.  Trying to help them to NOT hate cleaning.  Perhaps my NOT being born organized is the key to actually teaching my children to clean.  My mom is Born Organized.  So she always had a hard time not understanding that this stuff doesn't just come naturally to my mind.  So perhaps my being a SHE is a blessing - to my children if not to myself.

A few weeks ago my wonderful KOJ helped me (along with the boys) to clean our first floor.  It wasn't perfect but it was pretty clean for MY house.  Ask my mom, she came over the next day.  And for two weeks I stayed on top of it.  I wasn't cleaning every minute of every day and neither were the kids, BUT and this is HUGE for us SHE's - we were picking up after ourselves as we went along through the day.  If I saw a pair of shoes I directed the owner of the shoes to come put them away himself.  If there were dirty clothes again the owner was asked to put them where they belong.  We've been teaching the boys to clear their plates/bowls from the table when they are done eating.  I have been employing the boys to empty the dryer into a hamper while I'm doing something else so changing over the laundry from the washer to dryer is a simpler process for me.  I ask whomever is nearby at the time to take the kids' dishes and put them away in the bin where they go.  My oldest can help put away the silverware.  And for two weeks my home was clean, the floor was swept, the carpets vacuumed, and the table cleared off in between meals.  And for two weeks I felt a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction and pride.  I felt like all of the stuff I'd read in articles and flylady e-mails was finally sinking in and having lasting affects on my home.  Then I got sick.  Things got left undone.  And NOW two weeks later the house is a total wreck again.

But something is different this time.  This time I don't feel discouraged.  I don't feel that I'm a failure.  I feel that once in a while life gets overwhelming and things get behind but if we work together as a family and make it fun we have proven that we can get the the house clean and keep it that way.

Besides while the downstairs has been having issues I somehow managed to finally clean the entire landing and organize my office area so the upstairs is clean and peaceful and I love going up to my desk while the kids play in their room. 

So I declared to KOJ last night that he won't be returning to work on Monday until our home is back in order so that I can go back to maintaining the clean instead of swimming upstream in a current of messy men/boys.

And on that note, I'm going to go upstairs now and empty the two laundry hampers of outgrown/out of season clothes and put them away in the bins where they belong.  Then I will have hampers for the dirty laundry once again.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

$100.00 holiday more thoughts and updates

Yes I know it's mid-May, NO I'm not in a hurry for the holidays, but if I plan well and shop now we will have a fantastic and blessed holiday with $100.00 as the title suggests.

When I first read about it on the blog The Saved Quarter I thought it was a marvelous idea but wasn't sure I had it in me because I ADORE black Friday shopping.  Yeah, I'm nuts, I know.  Last year Walmart's big sales started at 12 midnight and I was in the store with my mom at about 11pm.  We got home at about 10:30/11am.  At the time my precious girl was sleeping through the night so she has not experienced her first black Friday yet.  On the one hand I liked not having to miss the big openings of the sales we wanted to go to because they all started at different times but on the other hand it made for a very long night.  My husband, love the KOJ!, came up with a brilliant plan.  I could save my own personal blow money the couple of months before Black Friday so that I could still go black Friday shopping and have a bit to spend.  LOVE it.  So that's my plan for Black Friday.  Having that in place I have embarked on the 100.00 holiday.  I'm not posting specifics because I know some of my relatives read the blog and it's far too early in the year to ruin their Christmas surprises but I'll post generalities.

I buy for:
Something to read:
Something to wear: I spy quilt - I'm making these, already have most of the supplies and they are more than half done.
Something you need:
Something to share: doll and people house - this will be a group gift.  I hope to find a used bookshelf at a yard sale this summer and decorate it with different colors of paint and wall paper samples to look like different rooms in a house.  The boys love to play with the little people toys we have so this will be great for them and Princess will grow into it over time.
santa: All about Dvd 2.00


Something to read:
Something to wear: I spy quilt
Something you need:
Something to share: doll and people house
Santa: All About dvd 2.00


Something to read:
Something to wear: I spy quilt
Something you need:
Something to share: doll and people house

Something to read:
Something to wear: a dress and matching bow - I will make the dress, might try my hand at the bow too.
Something you need:
Something to share: doll and people house

KOJ: Not a CLUE!  Open to ideas and suggestions.

SIL: groupon deal*

Sis 1 and BIL: Have a plan here

Sis 2 and BIL: Have a plan here

Mom: groupon deal*

Dad and Mom2: groupon deal*

FIL: groupon deal*

*groupon deal 35.00 for 100.00 at a certain website.  Great deal.

-4.00 (All About dvd's)
-35.00 groupon deal

And I will want to make/have assorted gifts on hand for friends at church and what have you.

Now the rules of the "game" are that I can also use any "income" that I am able to generate that is not part of our normal income.  So far I have earned and saved up 25.00 worth of amazon gift cards through Swagbucks.  I'm also slowly earning change at and since I have to have total earnings of at least 30.00 before I can ask for a check to be sent I hope to have earned at least 30.00 through them by the holidays.  At the rate I'm going I should have 55.00 in amazon cards and hopefully the 30.00 from inbox dollars to add to my 100.00 start up amount.

Tune in next month for another update on the holiday progress!

coupons, meal planning. cutting out HFCS and food dyes.

Hello readers.  Sorry about the longish absence.  And yes I see that today is Thursday so I'll probably mention a few things I'm thankful for.  I see also that blogger here has messed up a post that was supposed to have posted last Friday for ya'll about eating from the pantry.  We have continued this week with eating as much from the pantry as possible.

Do you all want to hear about my couponing?  Meal planning?  New goals to omit high fructose corn syrup and artificial coloring/food dyes from our foods?  Ok here's a short bit:

I coupon.  As regularly as possible without making myself go insane.  I enjoy the thrill of the hunt for a good deal.  Unfortunately in the past a lot of the savings I've gotten have been on boxed and processed foods.  But I've also found coupons for deli meats, produce, meats etc.  Some stuff I will continue to buy processed for right now.  Ideally I find time to sit down and plan out a week of meals.  I write a shopping list for that meal plan.  I mark off everything I already have in the pantry to see what is left to actually buy for the meals.  When choosing meals I often choose based on what we already have in the pantry or freezer.  If we have a lot of chicken but little ground meat I will try to plan more chicken meals.  When meat we know we eat a lot goes on a super good sale I stock up.  I have been known to "borrow" space in my mom's chest freezer as we don't have our own.  In cutting out high fructose corn syrup and food dyes we're eating a LOT healthier.  I reach for a fresh fruit or veggie to hand the kids instead of an over-processed cereal bar or something.  My kids LOVE fruits and veggies so this is not a problem.  As long as I keep them on hand we're all set.  Feel free to share tips, favorite HFCS and dye free brands, and other thoughts on this matter in the comments.  I appreciate feed back from my readers.

And in the spirit of Thankful Thursday:

I'm thankful for food to eat - esp fresh, healthy food, clean water to drink, and coupons to clip.  Thankful also for the roof over our heads that protects us from the rain that falls, and the rain that falls that feeds the crops in our surrounding community so that we have fresh, healthy, locally grown food to eat.  It's all a huge circle.  And it never ceases to amaze me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Thursday once again brings thankful thoughts.

I'm thankful that we have an abundance of clothes to wear.

I'm thankful for this beautiful weather - the sun and the amazing temps we've had this week.

I'm thankful that I have a home to clean and dishes to wash.

I'm thankful that Squirrel is getting the opportunity to play t-ball this year.

I'm thankful that Howler says I'm his favorite mommy ever.

I'm thankful that Spider has started to say "I love you too" when I tell him I love him.

I'm thankful that Princess is such a happy and bright baby.

What are you thankful for this week?

The great season change over, the family closet, and thoughts on laundry

It's that time again.... when the world has to change over their children's clothes to more seasonally appropriate options.  Ok maybe not the WHOLE world but still.  Having four kids you can imagine that this is no small feat here.  But to be perfectly honest it went very smoothly this time.  So far.  I popped on a movie, gathered the clothes bins around me to sort out the wintery stuff.  I had the boys bring their own shorts down from their bedrooms the other day so that part was already done.  They wear t-shirts year round so for switching from winter to summer it's really just about taking out the pants and long sleeved shirts.

Then I sorted the stuff I'd removed from the bins into keep and don't keep piles.  Spider monkey being our last monkey child (we believe at this time) there's not a lot of reason to keep stuff he's outgrowing.  I know myself well enough to know that Princess will never EVER be in a position of needing to wear boy hand me downs.  So most of his outgrown shirts went into the go pile.  So sad for me.  Very bittersweet.

Next up Princess' stuff.  I sorted hers out more because I needed to sort out what didn't fit her anymore (it's been a while).  I still have to sort through her outgrown pile to see what I'm going to hold onto (even though again we have no plans for more babies - it's hard to let go) and what I'm going to hand off.

It's just a clothing organization revival this week.  Laundry is one of my most time consuming chores.  Part of it is because there are just TOO many clothes.  I theorize that if I cut down the clothing options it will help with the laundry.  This is two-fold.  First, the more laundry we have the longer I can put off washing and drying and putting away and at that point it's an overwhelming mountain of clothes and sheets and sometimes diapers (I did mention that I cloth diaper 95% of the time right?).  Second the boys' bins (I'll share pics in a moment) get overfull and when they pull something out things end up on the floor in front of their shelf and then they get trampled on and so I know that I inevitably end up washing clothes that were never even worn!  So I'm cutting down on the laundry.  I think 10 shirts and bottoms should be sufficient.  They each will have two nice church outfits separate from their regular clothes.

Now we have a family closet.  When we moved into our current home one of my favorite features was that the laundry room was a fantastic size and right next to the bathroom.  It could only be more perfect if it had a closet for mine and KOJ's hanging clothes.  Here are a few pics (and yes it's a MESS!) :
 The pile on the floor on the left is the keep and store upstairs pile, the pile next to that is Princess' stuff that I haven't sorted through yet.  The pile on the other side of Howler is the get it out of here pile.  In front of Howler tons of random socks and gloves and such that I NEED to sort out and get out of here too.
 That is the bins the boys' clothes go in.  Top shelf is Squirrel's, then Howlers, then Spider.  Shirts in one and pants and underwear in the other.
 This dresser has mine and KOJ's non-hanging clothes.  KOJ's t-shirts, shorts, lounge pants and underwear go in the top huge drawer and mine are in the one below it.  I'm not at all sure what's in the three thinner top drawers. That pile on top of this dresser is outgrown stuff I need to sort through still.
This dresser holds the boys' jammies.  The top drawer has their nicer "church" clothes.

And that is our Family Closet.  I love it and I wouldn't change it except for it would be super nice if those bikes we're not using could find a new home.

So how do you deal with your laundry and seasonal change over?  Do you think less is more?  More or less?

Friday, May 6, 2011

back in the blogging world

Wow I can't believe it's been two weeks.  I've neglected my poor blog for two whole weeks.  It doesn't seem that long since we've been pretty busy around here in the past two weeks - thus the blog absence.  Lets see what have we been up to?  Well we had Easter.  It was a blessed day all around.  Aside from the fact that KOJ couldn't get training wheels onto Squirrel's new Easter bike and the tires on Howler's new bike wouldn't hold air.  Oops.  The kids were good natured and rolled with it and for that I was very thankful.

Also my youngest niece turned one and we had her party last weekend.  And this week on Wed Howler turned 4!  I can't believe it.  We celebrated here at home.  KOJ took the day off work to spend with us.  It was a fun and laid back time - very much like the child.

  I made him his desired airplane cake.

The cake is homemade chocolate cake and the icing in the middle is some of the homemade buttercream icing that I took pureed strawberries (fresh of course) and added them to.  He wanted a chocolate and strawberry cake and this is how I did that.  Then I spread the remaining strawberry frosting on top and then I iced over it with a bag of green icing and a decorator tip.

It was a super yummy cake.  And he was very pleased to get his airplane cake a mere two days after finally telling me what shape he wanted his cake in.

He also seemed to be pleased with his gifts (as were his brothers).

We also had the year end picnic for Awana.  Awana is the fantastic children's program put on by our church on Wed nights throughout the school year.  Each year we have a picnic which includes a hayride at the start of the year and again at the end of the year.  A good time is generally had by all.

The older two on the hayride.
The princess was pretty cynical that this would in fact be a fun experience.
Spider and KOJ snuggled up for the ride.

And just a couple of bonus pics of my niece and the princess at my niece's birthday party.
They are so cute together and actually get alone with one another really well.  So glad that since Princess doesn't have a sister she at least got a girly cousin buddy.