Thursday, August 30, 2007

When the Baby is Sleeping...

When the baby is sleeping I remember all the projects I've put on hold the last few months and start making a list of everything I want to get accomplished.

Need to make scrapbook for number 2 and now number 3 child.
Make robe for Soph from the material I have had for two years.
Start making those Christmas gifts, because it will be here before you know it.
Study for the GRE so I can take the test sometime before Christmas.
Organize girls closets so they can actually see what they have to wear.
Volunteer at girl's school.
Take dogs to vet for shots.
Hang up pictures that still sit in my office.
Finish writing that novel.
Update my blog and add some nifty graphics to site.
Monogram cute towels for girls bathroom.
Put up hooks for towels in bathroom.

Oh, but before I can do that I need to clean dishes, start dinner, fold laundry, put away clothes, vacuum floor, water garden, take out trash, make grocery list. I can do all that fast before the baby wakes up, then I'll start on my "fun" projects.

Wait, what's that I hear? It's the baby crying and I haven't even finished my household chores.

Well, a girl can dream can't she? But maybe next time when the baby goes to sleep I will too because maybe in my dreams I'll actually get something done!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday

My tip for today involves cleaning. And those of you who know me might laugh, because we all know housework comes last on my list of "things to do", but hey I try!

I have found that keeping cleaning supplies under the sink in each bathroom and the kitchen is very helpful. (If you have small children make sure you childproof your cabinet doors!) I keep glass cleaner, disinfectant, paper towels, and a sponge. I have collected enough of those chlorox toilet bowl cleaning wands to have one under each bathroom sink and to keep the disposable cleaning sponges there as well. The convenience of these for me outweigh the cost, plus I hate those icky toilet bowl brushes that sit out because at some time or another my young children pick them up and decide to use them as swords or some other imaginative tool!

Our new house is two story so having cleaning supplies upstairs and downstairs really helps when I have only a couple of minutes to do a quick clean up. I've even been known to clean my counter tops while brushing my teeth. It's amazing how much you can clean in one minute if you have all your supplies handy:) And my five year old loves (yes, really) loves to clean the bathroom. So she knows exactly where to find her supplies and she goes to town, without being asked I might add.

I keep my extra cleaning supplies in the utility room cabinet so when we run out of something we go there to replenish our supply.

For more great tips go to Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Back to School

First Day of School

Yesterday was the first day of school. Em started second grade and Soph had her first day of kindergarten. It was an exciting moment. A year ago I thought I'd be taking my two girls off to start a new school year and I would be gearing up to go back to work. Funny how life gives us little detours along the way, or as I like to say "God signs"! Instead, my two oldest are off to school and I am at home in a new house with an almost five month old...Wow, that was not the plan. But what a great time I am having with a new baby and being able to watch my two oldest as they venture into a new school year. ( I even checked yes in the box to be home room mom)
Em, of course, was excited to start school and make new friends. She will venture forth in life, knowing few strangers and absorbing hungrily whatever is put in front of her with very little hesitation. She seems to embrace her surroundings whatever they may be.
Now Soph on the other hand is a little more reluctant to take on new situations. She clings to routine and "the way things were". She has said that she doesn't need to make new friends because she has plenty where we used to live. She looks warily at new surroundings and would rather flee than stay and see what it has to offer. Don't get me wrong though, she loves to learn, just like her sister, but she goes about it in her own way. After meeting her teacher and seeing her classroom last week she was excited about going to a new place. Monday morning as I walked her down the long, wide hallway to her classroom I watched as she began to slowly wilt with each step we took. By the time we reached her room she was clinging to the backs of my legs. Needless to say I said my quick goodbye (recommended by the teacher) and Em and I left pushing the stroller as quickly as we could. Em was pretty sure that by the time we got to the end of the hallway she couldn't hear Soph screaming anymore!

I kept busy that day mailing packages for hubby and soothing a cranky baby. When I went to pick up the girls from school I found myself anxious to hear about their day. As Soph walked out she smiled and the first words out of her mouth were, "I made four (holding up four fingers) new friends!" Sweet music to my ears, I almost cried right there. "Praise the Lord, for He is good."
Em had a great day and upon picking her up her teacher exclaimed, "I love her! Could I please clone her?" Sigh, if only we could ( without the normal 7 year old hissy fits that is:) )
So today Soph had a slight hesitation (don't look too closely at the nail marks on my legs where some one had a pretty good death grip going on). Dad was out in the car and came in to nudge her off to class. Amazing how well that works for him! I'm anxious to see how this day went.
Oh, why is my hubby home? Because he has been hobbling around on an injured knee now for almost a week. He went to the doctor today who is sending him for an MRI Friday. No major damage that he can see, but a curious cyst on his knee bone that might need removing and whatever else the MRI shows. But, I think he will recover quickly!

Saturday, August 25, 2007


I got this off of Alycia's blog and had to copy it here for all you Moms.

I'm invisible.

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?” Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?” I’m a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.She's going . she's going . she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it.I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
* No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.
* These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.* They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
* The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it."And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table."That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself.I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add,"You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.~ Author Unknown

Friday, August 24, 2007

Energy Saving Tips

Here's a few things we do around here to help save on our energy costs:

-switched out our light bulbs to the energy smart kind (13 watts of this bulb = 60 watts of incandescent bulbs)

-unplug all chargers etc. when not in use - they pull energy just by being plugged in

- turn your air up or down (depending on season) when you leave the house

And here are some great tips from my Hubby about fireplaces:

Fireplace Tips
-If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
-Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
-When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly—approximately 1 inch—and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F.
-Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.
-Check the seal on the flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
-Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.
-Use grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.

You can find other energy saving tips here.

Check out Biblical Womanhood for more frugal tips!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Don't Mess With Texas

Here in Texas we have an ad campaign that says "Don't Mess with Texas", which means don't litter or you could be fined up to $500.oo. My kids know this, I know this, and I would think any Texan knows the slogan. So why is it that I see people clearly breaking the law every day?

For instance yesterday my children and I were sitting at Sonic eating away when a young woman, in her nice fancy Tahoe, pulled through the drive-through in front of us. We watched as she peeled the wrapper off her straw, and wait for it..., yes she threw the paper out the window. This was done in front of dozens of parked cars, which I'm sure contained people just like me that couldn't believe such an act had been committed. Now to add insult to injury just as she pulled away she flung one more piece of paper out her window!! My daughter exclaimed from the back seat, "She could have to pay $500.00 for that!". Unfortunately, there were no paper police around at the moment. But this raises the question of how are these people raised that it is okay to commit such an act?

My daughters and I speculated on this... Maybe she doesn't know what a trash can looks like? This comes from my 5 year old. Yeah, my seven year old chimes in, maybe she was raised in a house where they just threw the trash out the window. Or, I add, maybe her parents taught her to just throw her gum wrappers, apple cores, used napkins and such on the floor. The girls took this and ran... Yeah, maybe they lived in a house that you couldn't even see the floors because there was so much trash. Uh, huh and it started to get sooo stinky that they could barely breathe. Yep, and then the bugs came...ohhhh gross. So finally they just had to move to another house. Then what? I ask. Well, they just keep moving from house to house because they fill it up with trash. Yeah, and maybe now that lady lives in her nice car cause she ran out of houses and so now she throws her trash outside of her window because she doesn't want her car to fill up with trash, like her houses. Maybe you're right, I say. Silence.... then from my oldest, "Well, I hope she doesn't have a big family because if she does and they all act like that then they are going to fill the planet up with trash and we'll all have to find another planet to live on!"


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday

I've found that when I go out shopping that it is easier for me if I park by a cart return, even if that means I have to walk a little further. This way I can easily grab a cart, put my baby's car seat in (the less we have to lug those around the better!), and my other two girls can hold onto the cart as we walk through the treacherous parking lot. When leaving the store I can pop my kids in the car and not have to worry about where to return the cart. I just slip the cart back in the return, grab my kids and walk two steps to my vehicle.

I used to worry about leaving my kiddos in the car while I ran to return the cart. The one time I didn't return the cart and just left it next to my car a big gust of wind blew and knocked it into my car. I was glad I didn't damage another car, but now I always worry about that!

Head over to Rocks in my Dryer to check out more tips on making life a little easier.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Trading My Sorrows

As a mother, wife, sister, friend I tend to worry, obsess, worry, lament, and worry some more. I mistakenly believe I alone have the power to heal, solve problems, advise and conquer. Then when the weight on my shoulders causes an ache that won't go away it dawns on me that I'm not alone and that I've once again forgotten to Let Go and Let God. So on these days I sing this song that I first heard on a retreat I attended about a year and a half ago. I sing it over and over until I remember that the words are telling me what to do. (F.Y.I. my children know all the words to this song and the hand motions that go along with it!)

Darrell Evans \ Trading My Sorrows
I'm trading my sorrow

I'm trading my shame

I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord

I'm trading my sickness

I'm trading my pain

I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord

Chorus:And we say yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord

Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord

Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord Amen

I'm pressed but not crushed

persecuted not abandoned

Struck down but not destroyed

I'm blessed beyond the curse for his promise will endure

And his joy's gonna be my strength

Though the sorrow may last for the night

His joy comes with the morning

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Garden Snapshots

We love to garden around here and everyone enjoys picking our fresh fruits and vegetables when they are ready. We decided to start out small this year since we weren't sure how things would do. Well, my husband wisely said we should start out small. If it had been up to me it would have been twice as large!

This year we decided to put mulch down and it has really helped with the weeds. We're lucky because there is a place here in town that everyone takes their tree clippings to and the city grinds them up. All you have to do is go out there and load up as much mulch as you would like for FREE! We haven't had any problems with this mulch and as we've been trying to do some landscaping around here it sure has been nice not to spend money on mulch.

In the spirit of our naming rituals our garden has been dubbed Mr. McGregors Garden and our pumpkin patch is Charlie Brown's Pumpkin Patch. We're going with a literary theme of sorts. Anyway, we grew a variety of red/yellow corn. Our crop is already in and boy was that corn sweet and yummy. In fact we've been know to eat it fresh off the stalks without cooking. Our Roma tomatoes are doing well. Lots and Lots of tomatoes. I usually grow cherry tomatoes, but they didn't have any plants the day I was shopping. The Roma's tend to get these black spots on the bottom. Anyone know how to keep this from happening? Hubby planted some red chili peppers and cantaloupe. Down the hill is our pumpkin patch that already has one pumpkin that is about ready and lots of blooms and babies coming around. We plan on having a fall hayride and pumpkin picking party with the kids.

I love fresh herbs, especially basil. My two basil plants are doing great. I also have some mint my Mom brought up earlier this summer from her garden. The Greek oregano didn't make it, but my thyme, lemon balm, and dill are holding their own. When the wind blows I can catch a whiff of my basil and it makes me soooo hungry:) Next year I plan on having a butterfly garden with lots of dill, parsley and milkweed for the caterpillars. Did you know Monarchs will only eat milkweed and the Painted Swallowtails like the dill and parsley? Interesting...

Hubby would also like a rose garden next year...I think we'll be keeping ourselves pretty busy:)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Frugal Fridays

Have you ever tasted canned baby food, especially the veggies? Yuck, no wonder kids aren't thrilled with their vegetables. Plus, canned food can get expensive so I make mine from scratch. My mom did this and so she passed it along. Get fresh fruit or vegetables and puree them in a food processor, blender, or one of those baby food grinders. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. When frozen pop them into a Ziploc bag and put back into the freezer until you're ready to use. Just heat up in microwave when ready. When your baby gets older you can puree your meals this way, chicken and noodles, steak, etc. I usually put a little aside before I season it heavily that way baby doesn't have a tummy ache!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cotton-Top Hills

Cotton-Top Family
(not the greatest picture)

Okay, I know we only have two acres but we always feel the need to name things around here so we've dubbed our new homestead Cotton-Top Hills. If you haven't visited you may be doubtful about our hills here in the panhandle, but I promise you we do actually have some. We were lucky enough to find our house nestled amongst some of the canyons instead of the flat plains that mostly dominate this area. Hence, our hills. Now for Cotton-Top...this is actually a type of quail also known as blue-scale quail. Their nickname comes from the little fro fro on top of their heads that must look like a piece of cotton to whoever named it.

To be fair we have lots of wildlife here. We could have named the place Coyote Canyon, Mule Deer Trails, Roadrunner Crossing, Bobwhite Lookout. And as not to discriminate against the undesirables....Rattlesnake Bluff, Rat Mounds, etc. But as luck would have it one day in late spring I looked out our upstairs window to find three separate Cotton-Top families pecking about our side yard. Our hills were alive with these quail with one family having twelve little ones. So I decided on the name that morning.

I tend to go overboard with the naming and have already dreamt up a Cotton-Top logo to display on all our wares that someday we will be gifting to family and friends. I know you can't wait to taste our Mesquite Bean Jelly!! And of course we need a sign at the end of our driveway welcoming visitors and letting them know they have entered our property and that it has a name. Hubby nods his head and thinks it's all a great idea and then quickly gets to work on some pressing project leaving me to dream up my next great idea:)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

From Caterpillar to Butterfly

About a week ago Soph and I found a caterpillar munching on our dill plant out front. We looked it up on the Internet and determined it would turn into a painted swallowtail butterfly. We had an empty aquarium that we put the caterpillar in along with some dill weed and covered it with netting. Sure enough the next day it spun itself into a green chrysalis onto the side of the tank. Em was still away on her trip and when we told her about it she hoped she'd make it home before the butterfly emerged. Well, guess what? The butterfly emerged on the morning of Little One's baptism. Em and Soph released it and it climbed up onto our butterfly bush. It stayed around for most of the day drying its wings.

And just as the butterfly entered into a new stage of its life our Little One entered into one as well. She was welcomed into her church community through Baptism with her Godparents and most of our family watching. My sister and husband and two of Scott's brothers were not able to attend her Baptism mass, but everyone else was in attendance. It was a wonderful weekend filled with fun and family. It was fun to watch all the kids playing in our yard having a blast on the girl's playscape. Our lasagna was a hit and we had one full pan left over. Guess you know what we'll be having for dinner this week!

Everyone has gone home now so we're trying to get back into a routine before school starts!

Monday, August 6, 2007


Yesterday at church our priest was talking about death. Just the fact that we all are going to die and what are we going to leave behind. What did we do with our life? That got me to thinking about my life and what I can be proud of.

I'm proud to be a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, someones friend, a teacher to others. All of these things make me who I am. Not the size of my checking account, not my house, not the car I drive or the clothes I wear. Don't get me wrong I enjoy shopping for clothes and I enjoy having a nice house, but if that were all taken away from me I would still have the most precious things to me. I have the love of my husband, children and family. I have friends, true friends, that bless my life every day whether we haven't seen each other since college or whom I see every weekend. I belong to a church community that feeds my spirit and strengthens my soul.

When I meet my Maker I want to be able to say my life was full of love and blessings. That the hard times I endured were overcome by my faith in Him and by the love I was given by the people who meant the most to me. I hope to be able to say I made a difference in someones life. That my most valuable gifts are the ones I can hold in my heart, not in my hand. That is what
I hope I've done with my life.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Beans for a week!

Being a fan of Dave Ramsey's we took his plan of living on beans to save money to heart. A couple of years ago we were struggling with a lot of debt and after listening to Dave we decided it was time to make a change. He's not joking when he says you might have to live on beans, we did and it worked!

Dried beans in the bags at the grocery are very cheap so we would load up on bags of beans and take them home to soak overnight. If you drain the water several times it helps with the...uhh..effects beans can have on your body. My hubby makes a killer chili powder from scratch and put those in the beans while cooking. If you're in a pinch you can use your pressure cooker to get the beans ready faster. Even my girls love a bowl of beans with a slice of cornbread. After the first night you can get creative with your leftover beans. We'd throw some cut up ham in for one meal, use them for quesadillas another meal, add rice, make a soup etc. The sky's the limit with beans. Even when we're not in a financial crunch it has become a tradition to have bean week at least once a month!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

I love a rainy day!

There is just something about rainy days! Today was one of those days here in the Texas panhandle. Lulled by the gentle pattering of rain against my window I stayed in bed a little longer than usual. My newborn obviously felt the same way because she was content to be nursed and go back to sleep.

Our new house allows us to view the storm clouds as they roll in from the north. With my youngster's voracious appetite I found myself doing a lot of sitting and gazing out at the darkened sky. I'm constantly in awe of this amazing place and feel blessed that this is my home.

Years ago, seven to be exact, I would have spent the day curled up on the couch lost in the pages of a good book, but these days I try my best to keep restless children entertained. I usually go to my arts and crafts closet for inspiration. Sometimes hubby mistakes this pile of jewels and goodies as junk and refers to it as my junk closet. person's junk is another person's treasures. And it certainly comes in handy when you need to entertain the little ones!

Rainy days need to be enjoyed. So I give all moms a pass to ignore housework and errands on these days and just enjoy your children and maybe if you're lucky you'll get a chapter read out of that book that is collecting dust on your bedside table:)