Sunday, February 21, 2010

Preschool Activities in a Bag Swap AND a GIVEAWAY!

Friday we participated in a Preschool Activities in a Bag Swap. I'd seen the idea online and decided to do some investigating to figure out how to hold one. I soon found the website and realized there were 2 whole Ebooks dedicated to activity ideas for preschoolers that could fit into a gallon sized zip lock bag! I was so excited and knew I had to plan a swap!

We are blessed to have found a church with LOTS of young children. {If you go to CF and are reading this you are probably laughing to yourself because saying LOTS of children almost seems like an under statement.} I knew there would probably be a decent sized group of us who could get together and exchange the activity bags we had made. 

I decided to go ahead and order the Preschool Activities in a Bag Book 1 and Science Experiments in Bag Book 1 bundle in prepartion for this swap I was wanting to organize. I was so excited once I downloaded the book because along with instructions for putting together 33 activities there were exact instrustions on how to organize a swap. Perfect! Although this wasnt suggested in the book I went ahead and set up a Facebook Event because most of the ladies, with preschool aged kids,from church are on FB. It seemed like the easiest thing to do to get responses. Unfortunately, FB has a new set up and several people didn't get notified of the event and didn't find out about it until after the RSVP date had come and gone.  So, maybe I should have followed the directions in the book a little better and planned the old fashioned phone calls. Oh well. Live and learn.The only good thing that could come out of that is we might have to do another one in the future!

I decided to do a social swap where you all get together and exchange the bags and visit. My friend, Abby, graciously opened her home and we let all the kids play. Hopefully they didn't destroy her house too bad! Not everyone made it to the swap because of sickies going around but in the end we'll end up with 18 bags each. That's 18 different activities to let our younger ones sit down and do while we can be getting something else done! 
{Think dinner or helping an older child with school work}
Ava is technically in Kindergarten but most of the activities are still ones she will enjoy doing. Audrey will be there within a couple years so we'll be getting more use of them with her and eventually Owen. I'm so excited to get to put these to use!

And now for the exciting part!! 

Activity Bags has donated an Ebook of choice for a GIVEAWAY!!   

The winner can choose any one of the Ebooks offered here.
 The comments will be open through March 1st and a winner will be chosen March 2nd, 2010 through a random number generator.
You can get up to 3 entries. 
Heres how to enter: 
  • Leave a comment on this post
  •  Follow me (and leave a comment letting me know you are). If you already are following this blog, leave a comment letting me know.
  • Share this on Facebook, Twitter or your blog. Then, come back and leave a comment (and link if its your blog) letting me know how you shared it.

It's as simple as that! I'm excited to get to share this wonderful resource with someone else!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Helping Haiti for FREE

I haven't addressed the Haiti crisis here on this blog yet.
I'm not really sure why.
Especially because Haiti was such a focus of our Christmas giving and learning this Christmas season.
Once the earthquake happened we explained it to the girls a little and began praying for the people of Haiti. It was so helpful in praying with them that they were already familiar with the Haitian people and their poverty. It helped them make the connection between reality vs. just some other people on the other side of the world. 

Tonight I was catching up on a blog I frequent quite a bit. {Didn't realize how far behind I was!} She mentions several ways you can give to Haiti without spending money. 

I wanted to highlight one of the ways because -really- there is NO reason we all can't do this! 

I recommend and sent $20 to World Vision!

You can shout and help too.

Hotels Combined 
{copied from their site}
We’ve built a great service now we want people to know about it... We thought; let's donate to charity every time someone helps us spread the word. This way, we can then benefit from your word of mouth (or mouse in this case) whilst at the same time being able to donate what we normally would have had to spend on advertising!

Um, how awesome is that?

You can spread the word   via Facebook, Twitter or your Blog. Each time...they'll donate to the charity of your choice (that they have listed). In my case, that would be World Vision. 

How cool {and simple!} is that? 
So...what are you waiting for? 
Go help Haiti! 

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Trinity is like a Peanut Butter Cookie

Ava, our 5 year old, has been trying to grasp the concept of the Trinity lately. She can't wrap her head around the idea that God is Jesus who is also the Holy Spirit. It's a hard idea to wrap your head around, especially when you're 5. 

We're going through and memorizing the Catechism for Boys and Girl at church. So, when since she's memorized "In how many persons does this one God exist?" {in 3 persons} and "Who are they?" {the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit} her little mind is a-goin'.

The other day when she brought it up I tried to explain it like an egg. 

Before its cracked it is one, a whole egg. But, after it's cracked open you realize that that one egg is actually 3 different parts. The shell, egg white and yolk. Like the Trinity. One whole with 3 parts. 
She kinda understood what I was explaining but still was having problems.

Today after her reading lesson I was sitting on the couch reading the begining of Leviticus outloud to her. Yes, I know. What an exciting part of scripture to be reading to a 5 year old. It was all about the 'rules' of sacrifices that were brought to the temple. But, as 'non-exciting' as it was it brought up such a rich conversation between us. (Don't you just love how the Lord does that!) 

She said it sounded kinda sad that God would want people to kill animals for their transgressions. 

What a wonderful door she opened for me to share with her about the ultimate sacrifice - Jesus.

Of course she knows about Jesus dieing for her but I was able to express to her how much more significant it was that Jesus was the FINAL sacrifice for us.That, instead of animal sacrifices being offered He loved us so much that He was willing to give His life as the final sacrifice. 
For us.
As we talked about this subject she, once again, brought up not understanding the Trinity. Of course she doesn't say it like that. It's more like this:

Ava: but mom, I just don't understand. How is God, like....Jesus? And *pause* Jesus like God and the Holy Spirit? How can they be the same but different?

This is where the peanut butter cookie comes in. I explain, again, that just like the egg, with 3 different parts that make it 1 whole, so is the Trinity.She's still not getting it this time. So, I try a different tactic.

First you take 3 ingredients: Sugar, Peanut Butter and an Egg

The sugar is like God. Pour that in the bowl.

 Then, we add the egg. Which is like Jesus.

And last, but no less important, we have the peanut butter. The Holy Spirit.
 Three different ingredients-parts if you will- that make 1 whole. The finished product. A cookie. The Trinity.

Putting the ingredients together, mixing them up and realizing that apart from each other they are their own identity but together -or whole- they are The Trinity. The 3 persons of God.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Adventures in cooking a whole chicken

One of my goals for this year (actually its been a goal for awhile now) is to cook a whole chicken. 

Let me start by saying I.hate.touching.raw.meat. 

I've gotten used to boneless skinless chicken breast but, after watching Food, Inc., we are making the big {financial} leap to more 'pure' meat. 
There are several local farms that have grass fed beef and free range chicken, but its a bit more expensive. We've finally decided though that we have to make the sacrifice and pay more for the healthy stuff.
I took a look at the pricing sheet and bonesless skinless chicken breasts are $8.99 a pound! Yowza! I want to feed my family healthier but when we're used to buying a bag of the *super chicken at 3 lbs for $6.99 that made me gasp! 

So, I decided this was the perfect incentive to bite the bullet and cook a whole chicken. Some of us girls at church decided to all get together one night and have a  Clip and Cluck Party. Our friend, Rhonda, from our small group, would teach us how to cook a whole chicken. And, a friend and I decided we'd share our couponing know how with the other ladies who still felt clueless. So, we were super excited! Then, the host had a house full of sickies the day of the partyand we had to cancel :( Talk about bummed.

After watching that movie I decided I couldn't wait for us to reschedule the party until March but I had to just do it on my own *yikes!* I ran across this blog entry and it gave me the courage to do it on my own. Seemed simple enough.
  • Remove the bagged innards
  • rinse chicken
  • season
  • place in crock pot
  • cook on high for about 7 hours
  • return to a nice,yummy cooked whole chicken.
  • Once you remove all the meat from the bones you can put the bones back into the crock pot, where you've left the juices from the chicken, add a splash of vinegar and cook that over night. That will leach the nutrients from the bones and give you a wonderful broth! You can save that broth and use it for a later. 

So, I start with task #1-remove the bagged innadrs. So, I get all brave-this is the hard part for me- and this is what I find.

Nasty, right? The chicken I happen to pick up....DIDN'T HAVE BAGGED INNARDS! 

Are you kidding me?!?!?!?!

Didn't this chicken company know how hard this was for me to begin with...let alone leaving the nasty insides un-bagged!! I seriously tried like 4-5 times to stomach pulling them out. I put sandwich bags over my hands so I didn't actually have to touch it with bare hands but I.just.couldn' I couldn't stomach it. 

And- just to add a bit of humor to this story-here is how it unfolded on Facebook.....

My Facebook status: So, I got all brave and decided I was going to cook the whole chicken thats been in the freezer for months. Well, I'd like to know one did I end up with a chicken that doesnt have the innards bagged!?!? I just cant do it. I cant take those out.

My friends comments {thanks for the support guys}:

  • They should put that in bold writing...NASTY STUFF NOT BAGGED! lol
  • get one of the girls to scoop it out! haha hey, you can use it as some sort of punishment....just do it! be brave!
  • Ewwww.. one more reason Laile has to cook that kid of thing! 
  • innards is a funny word. Think about it. 
  • raw meat disgusts me
  • Eww, no way! The one I cooked was already prepared in the bag, and you just had to stick it in the oven. Birds are not for me to touch.
Here is where it turns bad though.....thanks Stephanie- oh yeah I totally called you out! LOL
  • wimp
  • I'm with Stephanie... LOL! Seriously, just reach in there and grab them. It's not really a big deal :)
  • I hate raw chicken guts, too, Lindsay!
  • ME: Ok Big Brave Stephanie and Melissa- how does one just reach in there and grab them!? I put sandwich bags on my hands and I still cant stomach it. I've tried like 3 times today, lol. Its still partly frozen so maybe thats adding to the problem....
  • Listen little wimp, just reach in with your bare hands, feel around, grab it & pull it out. It only takes a few seconds (o: 
  • Just run hot water inside the cavity. The junk just kinda floats to the top. Be sure and wash your hands well when you're done. Like you wouldn't already do that! lol
  • Girl, you just reach in and do the thing....yank those nasty suckers right out and feed 'em to the cat! If you just can't do it, let one of the kids do it...they love disgusting stuff like that!
  • Lindsay, I have the answer for you. Pretend the chicken is Obama & you are removing the evil - lol
 In the end I saved the innards for Derek when he got home. Next time I will make sure and get the chicken with bagged insides. Hopefully, the local farms sell them like that.....
Once he did that for me I seasoned the chicken, placed it in the crock pot and waited for it to be done. Which, in the end, was like 2 am, lol. 
I used to the meat for 2 seperate meals so it made it very thrifty! This time I didn't use a healthy chicken, I used a *super chicken because I had it on hand and I was trying for the first time. Now, though, I feel like I can do it again on a free range chicken and not cringe at the cost! As long as the innards are bagged!
One more goal for the year down! Yay for me!

*super chicken- chicken raised and sold by national chicken farmers. Ya know, the kinds that are pumped full of junk to grow twice as fast and fat. The kinds that can't walk because their bones and muscles are took weak to hold them and keep up with their super grown bodies. They never see the light of day and are sold to us through our local grocery stores. They are not good for us.Circle C goes to Stephanie.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Winter Wonderland!

Did you expect this post? 
If you're in the Dallas area you could pretty much assume that I would have to blog about our record breaking snow fall, right?

The Weather Channel reported that the DFW area got over 12 inches of snow!!! Breaking all records in the past 111 years that records have been being kept for the weather. 
So cool!! 
Yesterday when the girls woke up to the winter wonderland outside they were dressed and playing outside before 8 am!
When I went upstairs I found them all sitting on the window seat in their room staring out the window at the beauty!
Audrey said 'look mommy! Ice!' 
I said 'ice? oh you mean snow. Thats snow, Audrey!'
Audrey 'Oh, snow!!' 

Here are the pictures from first thing in the morning.


When Grandma and Grandpa got home the girls ran down there to help them build a snowman!


Then, this morning we woke up to more snowfall and this beauty....

As we're looking outside and watching it all start to melt away, we're trying to remember to soak all this in because there's a good chance....this will never happen again in any of our lifetimes.  

And-because I just can't resist- I wonder how Obama feels right about now about that whole Global Warming theory...stuck inside the White House with over 3 feet of record breaking snow fall there in DC. Ha!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Still I will praise?

And he said,"........ The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."
Job 1:21 

We had a scare this week.

Owen fell crawled off the bed. 
I heard the thump and ran in there as fast as I could. As I opened our bedroom door, where he had been asleep on our bed, he began crying screaming. I scooped him up, rushed to the couch and nursed him as quickly as I possibly could. He calmed down almost immediately. 

I thought nothing else of it.
Then, later when I was feeding him some apples I noticed he was twitching really weird. Everytime he took a bite his left shoulder would go up, his head would lean into the shoulder and he would stiffen his arms. I thought it was kinda weird but shrugged it off because it looked like a reaction to a sour taste. He was congested so I thought maybe his taste buds were off a little and the apples were hitting them wrong. So, he was twitching like that. He didn't eat much and we went about our day. 

I kept the weird twitching in the back of my mind though.

Later, I sat him down and tried to feed him some carrots since he wasn't very interested in the apples. He started twitching again. This time it freaked me out. He was acting like a baby I didn't know. And, it scared me. I stopped feeding him, sat him on the ground and watched him a little. He was crawling and acting normal in every way-except-  he was twitching. 

So, what does every mother do these days? Google the problem. BIG mistake. 

Up popped what to watch for in the 24 hours after a fall/head trauma. Guess what was on the list. Twitching.

I didn't think he had hit head. Was I wrong? Maybe. So, the mom in me began to silently panic. I was doing really good until a friend called and had a question for me. I answered and she asked how I was doing. I said fine. She didn't buy it. So, I spoke my fear aloud. 

I decide to call the pediatrician who was almost closed. I told them what was going on and they suggested I take him to a local pediatric urgent care. I decided to wait until Derek got home to see what he thought. I fed Owen a little more food to show Derek what he was doing. Derek thought it was just a reaction to food and thought we should watch him and see how he was doing.

So, we went to our small group. I shared with them what was going on and they prayed for our little O-man. 

When we got home I gave Owen a bath. In the bath he started twitching again. Not only that but it looked like he was shivering through his shoulders. Very weird. I didn't think it had to do with the bath water because he never does that in the bath. I really started to worry at this point. It seemed like his arm movements weren't as fluid as they normally are. I also noticed that his shoulders weren't even. The right was higher than the left. Noticably so.

What was wrong with my perfect little boy? Could that fall have altered the rest of his life? What kind of mother was I to let a crawling baby continue to sleep in our bed-the only bed he has ever known. All these thoughts ran through my mind as I sat and literally cried out to God to heal whatever appeared to be wrong. 

I put him to bed and hopped on facebook. Fortunately, there was a couple friends still online and available to chat. One was from our small group and knew (somewhat) what was going on. She suggested I talk to another girl, who is a nurse, from our small group if she was still awake. Turns out she was.

I talked to her and let her know exactly what Owen was doing. She suggested I take him to the ER. That's what I figured she was going to say. Somehow I kinda hoped she wouldn't

Suggesting the ER was like validating that there was something wrong. 

She even said she'd meet me up there and wait with me so Derek could stay home with the girls. It was after midnight at this point. This offer came from an 8 month pregnant woman who had to be back up at the hospital the next morning for her normal shift. Wow. What an amazing friend. 

I woke Derek up-he had to be up for work by 5 am-he was fast asleep. I talked to him about the suggestion to take Owen to the ER. Even with everything we had seen Owen do Derek still felt like we should wait until the morning and take him to his normal pediatrician. I was so torn. I wanted to take him to the ER because I wanted to know what was wrong. But, I knew they would do a CT scan. On my 6 month old. And, we've had experience with ER doctors being completely ignorant when it comes to treating infants. Both of these things made us leary of taking him in that night. So, Derek made the final decision to just stay home and let Owen keep sleeping. 

I must admit, I was a bit mad at Derek. Didn't he understand the inner turmoil I was experiencing? Didn't he know I wouldn't be able to sleep? My night would be full of thinking out the rest of Owen's life with this-whatever it was- wrong with him. Ugh.

I woke up the next morning and called the pediatricians office at 8:32. They opened at 8:30. They told me the first available appointment was at 2:40.

2:40?? Are you kidding me? I call 2 minutes after opening and the earliest they can get me in was 2:40? I was.not.a.happy.camper. They told me I could go ahead and take him to an ER or urgent care to be checked out. After I explained what was going on again they said it was likely they would send him there anyways-for a CT scan. 

I talked to my mom and she helped me decide to just wait it out and take him to the appointment. He was acting fine except for an occasional twitch. He was laughing, crawling all over and being his same joyful self for the most part. So, other then the odd twitching he really did seem fine. We went to my parents house for a while before the appointment. During that time my mom also noticed Owens shoulders were way out of alignment. She suggested maybe he just needed an adjustment. He did fall of the bed. Maybe there was a pinched nerve or something causing him to act weird. Maybe? I did take some peace in the thought that that could be the case.

As I drove the Drs appointment tons of thoughts rushed through my mind. 

One,I must admit, wasn't very pleasant.

I thought 'Lord, I honestly don't know how I can praise you through this if something is wrong with Owen.' 

Wow. Ouch. Did that really just run through my mind? But, then I thought again 'Really, Lord? I have this perfect little guy and something like a fall off the bed could suddenly shape the rest of his life? And I still would need to praise you? Really?' 

As much as I would have loved to believe those things would never cross my mind, ever, they did. 
I wasn't ready for "the rain". 
I thought I was. 
But, once I was faced with the possibility I really didn't think I was ready.

Once at the pediatricians office, after explaining everything that was going on, she noticed he had an ear infection in his right ear. He also was on the verge of an infection in his left ear. 
Could that explain the twinging when he swallowed?
I also pointed out the fact that his shoulders were sloping. She agreed that they were, very much so. I also pointed out a spot on Owens back that was sticking out. I had just assumed that it was his shoulder blade poking out weird because he fell and was out of alignment. She agreed that was a possibility but mentioned another patient that had a "mass" pop up in that same spot. So, she didn't want to ignore it. 

She decided to send us to a pediatric chiropractor to have Owen's back, shoulders and ears adjusted. 
Yes, they can adjust the ears to help clear up an ear infection.
She also put him on some homeopathic stuff to clear up the infection. 
On a side note; we love our pediatricians practice. They'll treat naturally if they can before they pump our kids full of antibiotics, which we love. 

She suggested that she thought that Owen was twinging oddly because he had an (almost) double ear infection for the first time. So, it felt weird and painful and thats how he was reacting. That, coupled with the fact that a nerve or something was probably being pinched from being out of alignment, from the fall, made sense to her to be the cause of his odd behavior. She checked out his neurological responses and they all seemed to be just fine. She really felt it was those 2 issues causing the twinging. She wanted the chiropractor to take a look at the "mass" in his back and get her opinion on whether or not it should be looked into. (read: x-rayed or had a sonogram done) All the while my Dr never gave me the impression that she really feared that "mass" was anything to be concerned about. She just wanted to be safe and not ignore it.

I felt peace with that. I trust our pediatricians office. I trust they will make the best, and most healthy, decision for our kids. I haven't always had that trust with other pediatricians. Which is why we sought out this practice. But, thats an entirely different topic. 

I told her I was so relieved I listened to my husband when he wanted me to wait. I told her we didn't feel comfortable with taking Owen into an ER and most likely being subjected to a CT scan, even though it appeared as though it might be needed. She agreed. She said they probably would have and they would have pumped him full of anti-biotics for the ear infection. So, by waiting we avoided both of those things. Thank you, Lord! 

As I drove to the chiropractor I felt at peace. I felt we found the problem.

We went to the chiropractor and she adjusted his back, shoulders and ears. She tested his range of motion in his arms and shoulders and really didn't find any cause for concern as far as that was concerned. She felt the "mass" and really thought it was just swollen tissue from the fall and him being out of alignment. She wanted me to continue to watch him over the next 24 hours and make sure he wasn't favoring one arm over the other. Then, we were to come back the next day to see if the swelling had gone down.
 When we left the chiropractor I felt I could finally relax. I got in the car and just cried. I I had been wrapped in this emotional turmoil for the past 24 hours to finally come to this point and be told the problem was.....fixable. It appeared as though Owen would be ok!

As I sat and called the few people we had shared what was going on with I realized how richly blessed we are. (We really didn't share this with any friends other then our small group and family because we wanted to know what was going on first.)
Not only do we have family to love and genuinely care about us (which we value beyond measure!), we have friends who do too. 
You expect family to care. 
He's theres too. 

But, for friends to have not been able to sleep because of worry over our little guy is something different. 
To have friends who felt that inner sickening feeling for us knowing something might be wrong with Owen, that is something different.
For friends to have been flooding the gates of Heaven on behalf of our little guy, is something different.
We are blessed. 
THAT is the body. 

I really had to repent that night when I realized the horror of the things I thought. The fact that I questioned whether or not I would still be able to praise if something were wrong with Owen. How dissapointed I was am in myself. I thought I was stronger then that. Guess I just realized how much more I need Him. I can not be that strong.

But, He can.

Thank you, Lord, for your goodness. 
Thank you, Lord, for your body-our family-your people. 
Thank you, Lord, for our little guy. Even if he's not always perfect.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Homemade baby food made easy


I made some baby food today. 

As I said in my last post one of my goals that I've accomplished this year was to make baby food. A jar of organic baby food is around .45-.65 cents each at the grocery store. (With no coupons of course) At just 1 jar a day that's around $14 a month. Not much, I know. But what about when they start eating at least 3 jars a day. That number goes from roughly $14 to $42 a month. And that's the baby only eating 1 jar a sitting of stage 2 foods. $42 is money that could be spent, given, or saved somewhere else!

All of that said, making homemade baby food is not just cheaper but much healthier-if you use organic stuff.

I already had a baby food processor that was a gift when I had baby #3. But, I was over at my friend Maries' house and she was steaming the food in a rice cooker/food steamer and then putting it in the processor. So, I went out and bought my very own rice cooker. And I got it on sale at Target! Woot-woot!

Today, I set out to make some food. I bought a bag of organic carrots-you dont want that nasty pesticide residue in the babies food! I also got some organic Gala apples to make him applesauce. I cut them up and put them in the steamer. 
 Next time I'll get a bag of the Red Delicious apples as filler apples to make more. (Thanks for the tip, Hollie)  A bag of organic RD apples was priced really great at Costco so it won't feel like I'm spending an arm and a leg to feed my kids healthy!

So, after I steamed the carrots and apples, separately of course, I plopped them in the baby food processor and mushed them up. 

Next, I spooned them into an ice cube tray and stuck them in the freezer. Now, whenever I need to feed him I can just plop a cube or 2 out and viola! Homemade organic baby food! 

1 Month In

2010- the year I've purposed to be a better steward of our time, money, bodies...the list could go on. By my lack of blogging so far this year I hope you can tell I'm working on that. *smile*

The goals I have already accomplished this year are: 
  • making bread from scratch. Well, rolls actually.
  • going a 2 week period without spending any money. 
  • making a baby gift instead of buying it. Working on 2 more for the next month as well!
  • making my own baby food.
  • Getting caught up on laundry! How hard is that?! 
And, my personal favorite accomplishment to date this year is......
Cloth Diapering!!
I'm just a {little} excited about cloth diapering. Can you tell? I've wanted to cloth diaper for a long time just never had the guts, time, laundry caught up enough to where I felt I could handle adding MORE loads. 

But, a few weeks ago I got completely caught up on laundry and allowed myself to pull out the cloth diapers and give them a shot. 

I am fortunate that my friend, Brandee, let us borrow her cloth diaper stash until/if she needs them again.  If she doesn't then I can eventually just buy these from her. For now though, they're on loan to us.
I figure until Audrey is fully potty trained-which is soon I hope- we'll be saving about $100 a month on diapers. Wowza-thats a lot of money! We're just cloth diapering at home, not when we're out, so I'm still buying some diapers for on the go. But, I am so proud of myself. And, yes, I feel a bit more accomplished as a mother while doing this for some reason. 

On a side note- my friend Stephanie started blogging. You should give it a read

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