Monday, May 30, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays (276-300)

276. An awesome reminder of all the work God has done and continues to do in our family!
277. "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
278. Selfless sacrifices from military personnel who protect our freedom!
279. A chance to visit a small lake in a section of our neighborhood that we don't go to very often.
280. Family pictures at location #279
281. Our wonderful photographers
282. Our first trip to the pool.
283. Tragedy avoided during #282, Praise God that my honey was standing right there to rescue our 4yo niece.
284. Flotation devices
285. Every moment my kids play nice together.
286. Cooking breakfast while listening to the laughter of the kids playing with their daddy on this special holiday.
287. Celebrating our freedom and those who protect it.
288. All of the sweet children that I so enjoy playing with and getting to know during preschool volunteering at church.
289. My daughter's laugh especially when she laughs so hard she can barely breathe.
290. Sweet alone time sitting on the back deck with my hubby.
291. Sometimes my kids are easily entertained and I can just sit back and watch them be silly.
292. Braedon's red hair that looks like a shiny penny.
293. Water.
294. The first time in a long time...friends inviting us to a party on a holiday.
295. Family time that involved a lesson and activity about secret church.
296. Home worship time with the family.
297. All of my kids are good sleepers now (for the most part)...yay!
298. God continuing to work on our hearts and mature us as a couple and as parents.
299. Watching Garrett discover new things.
300. My quirky 4yo who makes me laugh so hard my cheeks hurt sometimes.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Real Food - My Take on Jambalaya

Though the recipe I used (from 100 days of real food) is for more of a classic Jambalaya, I changed it slightly and this is NOT classic Jamabalaya. So, if you are a Jambalaya lover for the kick and n'awlins flavor just know that if you try this it will not be that.
The change I made was totally by accident and is a result of shopping off the ingredient list without even looking at the recipe titles (yep, that's me. Ok not anymore but...). When I saw sausage on the ingredient list it didn't say andouille so I didn't buy andouille. Instead, I made the best choice I could given limited information. I bought something I thought would appeal to my kids, Apple Chicken Sausage. It actually has 7 ingredients so be aware that it does not follow the rules found on 100 days of real food. But, it is organic and made from chickens without hormones etc...
When the day came to make the Jambalaya and I realized my mistake, I consulted my resident Chef, Andrew aka: the best husband ever, who said it would probably turn out fine to use the sausage I bought and to go ahead and try it. I followed the recipe exactly except that I used the Apple Chicken Sausage instead of Andouille. I also used full cook rice and cooked it beforehand separately. Then, I just mixed it in at the end.
This was SO YUMMY and tops the list for our favorite recipe that we have tried yet. Also, it made plenty. I think we ate it for dinner twice and I had it for lunch twice (keep in mind our little ones don't eat very much though).

I am not a very experienced cook so I feel I should mention this: When the sausage and oil were in the pot (before adding the onion etc..) it was really sizzling and looked like it was burning. I started to freak out a little until my awesome hubby said it was fine and that you actually want that. It happens when carmelizing starts and the brown stuff in the bottom of the pan is called Fond, which adds lots of flavor.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Won, I Won (Rainy Day Activity Cards)

Jolanthe over at Homeschool Creations hosts a cirriculum cleanout twice a year. You don't want to miss the Fall 2011 cleanout. It is a great way to link up for cirriculum that you would like to giveaway and enter to win cirriculum you might need. I entered to win several preschool items and won this deck of activity cards from Kate. I can always use extra ideas for activities with the kids.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays (251-275)

251. That Garrett really doesn't seem to mind when his brother and sister do this to him

252. I have awesome friends willing to share their experience when they have been there and done that (like cloth diapering). Thank you to Amanda for a hands on demonstration and advice.
253. Water balloons
254. Having a very special houseguest and an extra set of hands this weekend. Thanks Lindsey!
255. McDonalds with five children was pretty fun instead of just survivable.
256. My neice graduating kindergarten.
257. My 2.5 year old thinks she is still a baby and it is oh so cute!

258. Watching my two oldest kids (4 and 2.5) playing on the computer together. Braedon waits for Kaley to make a choice, moves the mouse for her and then lets her push the button.
259. 4yo and 2.5yo actually ate some eggs and sausage today.
260. Despite falling pretty hard, twice in the same day, neither of them were hurt
261. Braedon's imagination and storytelling is getting funnier and funnier (espcially when The Cat in the Hat put him in timeout)
262. Quite house
263. But on the same note as #262 I like it loud sometimes too
264. Time spent with my neices
265. How helpful my children are around the house (sometimes)
266. That I can surely dismiss any "end of the world" claims because: "But about that day or hour ,no one knows not the angels in heaven nor the son. Only the father." Matthew 24:36
267. Open mouth kisses from my adorable, all-boy, chunky-monkey, 9month old
268. Most of the time stress in our house can be reduced by someone making a joke
269. Mothers who share their heart and experience so openly like all of the blogs I follow and also Kristen Welch's Don't Make Me Come Up There devotional.
270. So many people in our church fostering and's so awesome!
271. A certificate to a bouncy place as a thank you from the kid's dentist office
272. My past has been redeemed by my Almighty God
273. Patience from a person who requested a book and I accidentally mailed it to the wrong person (mommy brain!)
274. First trip to the farmer's market but now I wish it was a growers only market
275. Haircut at a fabulous place where a cut includes parriffin wax for hands plus a scalp, neck and back massage after shampooing and a 2 week guarantee on the cut

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Real Food - Shopping

We have a locally owned store very similar to Whole Foods near us. This is where I went shopping the first time I was looking for “real food” ingredients. I naively thought it would be easy and that just by going to that store I was buying organic and real food. Not so. I quickly realized that not everything is organic and that just because it is sold in a whole foods store it may not necessarily be good for you. This realization and the realization that not everything labeled organic is even good for you made my first real food shopping trip a little like rocket science. I survived with all three kids in tow but I don’t really think I bought much that fit the rules of real food. At that point, I was just happy to have a plan and making more meals from home. Since then, I have become a bit more educated on ingredient lists so while it still takes time to look at the ingredients on an item I can quickly make the decision about whether or not to purchase it.

I got a ton of food and was very satisfied at how I managed to stay within budget too. Fast forward three weeks and I haven't had a full week's worth of shopping to do because I wanted to use up all the food we already had on hand (prior to my first shopping trip even). So, I still haven't really spent much at the grocery store. I am anxious to plan my first full week of meals, shop for all of the items, and see if I am still able to stay within budget.

I also tried out Trader Joes for the first time. They did have decent prices but I wasn't able to get everything I needed there. I am very much a shop at one store person so if I can manage to stay within budget at one store I would rather do that.

We also have a Life grocery store near us that I haven't been to yet but I plan to go there to see what all they have and check prices.

I have big dreams of being able to price out all of the recipes that I try and figure out how much they cost. Being realistic though, I might just be okay as long as I can stay within my weekly budget...we'll see!
This post is part of a series. To read previous posts in this series please click below:
Real Food – Series Introduction
Real Food - Learning and Making Changes

Real Food - Eating Habits/Changes
I am not a nutritionist or any other food expert. All information shared here is based on my personal experience, research, and opinion. You are the only one who can make decisions regarding the health choices of you and your family.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Won, I Won (Custom Crochet Hat)

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

If you didn't take part in the 2011 Ultimate Blog Party you won't want to miss the 2012 party. They have tons of great blogs, prizes, and twitter conversation. I actually didn't have time to make many of the blog connections I was hoping to make. But, I did make a few and won a great prize. It was super easy to enter to win a prize (only one entry form and tons of prizes up for grabs).

I won a custom crochet hat from Cali Creations. I chose the style and the colors, she made it and shipped it to me.

I actually considered getting it for myself but I am not super comfortable wearing hats. So, I decided to get it for my daughter. Kaley's favorite color is green so I chose a multi-colored yarn for the hat that includes the same shade of green as the flower. I think it is super-cute and Kaley looks pretty cute wearing it too.

I hope you will visit Cali Creations and pick out something for yourself or a gift for someone else. Her work is great, prices are reasonable, and Stacia was a pleasure to work with. Thank you, Stacia!

In Jesus Name, Bye!

Our kids have come to love praying. Something that used to be new and a little awkward for our family has recently become like second nature and we are all pretty comfortable with it. I try to have prayer time with the kids once a day in the mornings. I also try to pray with them throughout the day as situations come up. Then, of course, there is mealtime and bedtime prayers. I thank God that we have started to have so much prayer in our house because we didn't used to. I wholeheartedly believe in the power of prayer and am so glad that it has become a larger part of our lives.
Braedon recently wanted to add his little twist on his prayers and of course Kaley followed suit. They have started saying, "In Jesus name, Bye" at the end of a prayer instead of the usual "In Jesus name, amen." I am quite confident that this little detail doesn't really concern God and that He loves to hear children pray no matter how they end it as long as they are praying in Jesus name. I think it is pretty cute that they wanted to make their prayer's unique

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Family Time Training

My husband and I had been wanting to implement some type of formal biblical education in our home for quite some time. However, devotions and/or family worship were not modeled for us growing up and we had no idea what it was supposed to look like. We had tried a few different things but nothing felt quite right and engaged the kids at the right level. Then, we had the opportunity to attend a wonderful parenting conference at our church where we learned of Family Time Training. Their mission is to provide families with tools and resources to have family worship time in the home. The worship lessons are designed to engage and impact the children in a fun way so they will learn and retain the knowledge. At the conference, we got to see Kirk Weaver (founder) stand on stage and literally explain step by step how his family does family worship time. He also explained some of the intricacies, such as child's personality/learning style and dos/don'ts for expectations from children. He even showed a video of a family having Family Time. Even though every one's worship time doesn't have to look the same it was such a blessing to see how someone does it and then adapt it to our family's style. We purchased a couple of the preschool workbooks and began right away!

Now, I want to share what our Family Time looks like:
I am responsible for picking out the lessons and gathering everything needed. I also ensure that my husband knows which lesson we are doing that week so he can familiarize himself before the day of. I also plan a simple dinner for the evening of so we can focus on Family Time instead of letting dinner and cleaning bog us down.

The day of, I hype it up to the kids (hey, guess what? we are having family time tonight). When we first started I explained to them exactly what we were going to do. After just a couple of weeks the older two became very familiar with the routine. (Our kids are 4, 2.5, and 9 mos)

We eat dinner and remind the kids it is Family Time night and we all eagerly clean the kitchen and dining room

We play our family's theme song (Brandon Heath, Give Me Your Eyes), which the kids love to dance to. No matter where they are in the house they come running...

After the song we all go sit at the dining room table (we mix it up sometimes too but mostly we are at the dining room table)
***Daddy leads everything from here on out and I just help if I need to***
Daddy prays and sometimes the kids will want to pray too
We talk about what we learned last week
Daddy discusses the lesson and asks questions to engage the kids
Daddy leads the activity allowing the kids to be as hands on as possible
We wrap it up pretty quickly because attention span times are fairly short...

I really believe that the "trick" to this is that in addition to the Family Time sessions, we have to apply those lessons in everyday life. As the week goes on and a situation arises where a lesson can be applied we can say, "hey, remember what we learned at Family Time?" and that immediately opens the door in a positive way and makes the information really come alive.

In a world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to make vital connections with our kids, I am so thankful that this is another avenue to make those bonds. We are getting started while they are young but even if your kids are older and you have not started having worship time inside your home, I would encourage you to start. It is never too late and it really doesn't matter what it looks like. I just hope that a glimpse into our worship time gives you some inspiration to start your own!

Glory to God, Forever!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays (226-250)

226. Long overdue coffee and conversation with a great, forever friend, Jamie. (I revised this original post to include a link to her awesome blog.)
227. Teens who love babies and will help me with mine
228. Tweens who want to be mother's helpers and learn the art of homemaking and mothering
229. My 4 and 2 year old were perfect angels at their first dental appointment
230. Playing pool with my hubby
231. Talking to our waitress and hopefully giving a lifestyle testimony
232. A Facebook wall post from another great forever friend encouraging me on Mother's Day
233. Spontaneous lunch at Moe's with numbers 226, 227, and 228 :-)
234. Holding friend's babies in the nursery who I have met but never held
235. Found a book I have been wanting on Paperback Swap so it is virtually free (besides shipping I pay to send other people books)
236. Holy Spirit's strength to hold it together during a pretty rough day with the kids this weekend
237. Free pizza for kids day at the grocery store
238. Treats for the kids at the same store in number 237
239. This recipe that I have already tried and we really like it
240. Winning another blog giveaway (I have three separate posts to do reporting my winnings...coming up) :-)
241. One of my posts might be featured on a different blog this first guest post (sort of)
242. All of the enlightening information I got from the kid's dentist
243. It seems that Braedon's temp (101 for a couple of days) turned out to be nothing major and he was able to fight off whatever it was
244. The movie Food, Inc. or maybe I was happier not knowing...
245. More nights full of sleep instead of sleeplessness
246. Hubby's help in the kitchen
247. Hubby running around to put a new battery in my car when it was unexpectedly dead one morning
248. That even though the light in our kitchen doesn't work we can still see enough to cook with the light over the sink, sort of
249. It is suprisingly easy to make a lot of things from scratch (muffins, biscuits, pizza dough, tortillas)
250. 100 Days of Real Food blog and other blogs dedicated to helping people eat healthier

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I Won, I Won (Yoplait prize pack)

My real life and blog friend, Alicia, hosted a Yoplait giveaway a little while ago. I won but haven't had the time to blog about it until now. I have a feeling she is going to be hosting some other great giveaways so be sure to visit her. This prize pack included a red gym bag, water bottle, jump rope, towel, and coupon for a free Yoplait cup. I am so glad I won...Thanks Alicia!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Real Food - Eating Habits/Changes

We have fallen into some pretty bad habits regarding our eating. Most of it has to do with not prioritizing the planning and preparation of healthy meals. Below are a few of our bad habits and how I think they will change as a result of a real food nutrition regimen.

We would go to the store and buy groceries. Then {gasp} stop and get some fast food on the way home. This is because we didn’t have a plan for the food once we got home and the little ones were not going to be able to wait much longer to eat before they really started getting cranky. So for this one it doesn’t really matter if it is “real food” or not, just the fact that we have a plan will stop us from doing this.
We eat fast food way too much. Not every day but at least a few times a week. Having a healthy meal plan to eat from actually motivates me to not let my family eat fast food because I realize how much better I feel when I eat things that are healthy for me. Again, having a plan will keep us from running out to eat because we can’t figure out anything else for dinner. As a side note: as I write this it has been about 3 weeks that we have been trying this real food thing out. We have eaten pizza twice and another fast food restaurant once. Everything else has been more fruits and veggies and home prepared meals and I have lost 2 lbs. Not that this was a weight loss venture but...BONUS!
My kids eat peanut butter and jelly far too often and would eat it three times a day every day if I allowed them to. So, when I was thinking of how much the real food peanut butter and jelly costs I was thinking there was no way we could do it. Then I realized that, again with a plan, they probably will not be eating peanut butter and jelly more often than I plan for. So, I will just plan for it less.
We eat a lot of snack crackers that get expensive after a while and really aren't very healthy. They definitely have more than 5 ingredients so they won't be on the grocery list any longer. I plan to make our snacks just need to gather several more recipes to rotate.
We eat a ton of frozen pizza or frozen pasta meals also that get expensive and aren't necessarily that healthy. These also have more than 5 ingredients and will not be on the grocery list any longer. I am more motivated now to feed my family something that I hand prepare than something out of a bag or a box.

This post is part of a series. To read previous posts in this series please click below:
Real Food – Series Introduction
Real Food- Learning and Making Changes

Disclaimer:I am not a nutritionist or any other food expert. All information shared here is based on my personal experience, research, and opinion. You are the only one who can make decisions regarding the health choices of you and your family.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays (201-225)

201. Beautiful weather for Mother's Day
202. All the moms who chose life through adoption
203. Braedon saying, "wow mommy, you look beautiful"
204. My Mom and our great relationship
205. My Mom2 (mother-in-law) and our great relationship
206. Plants and flowers
207. Nature and enjoying God's creation
208. A great Sunday School lesson over the past several months inspiring me to complete a personal mission statement
209. Knowing that I am not the only one struggling with some isues I am struggling with, having encouragement and accountability from others
210. A wonderful husband and kids who value me as a wife and mother
211. Peace about serving in Playcation in a major capacity without any prior experience
212. Almost settled on ministry calling for next year but needs a bit more prayer and I feel like I should complete number 208 first
213. Forever friends
214. Several moms in MOPS telling me I am an encouragement to them because they have one or two babies and can only imagine how difficult it can be with three
215. The wonderful compliment one of the ladies in number 214 gave me...girl, you still look like your doing it with grace (after 2.5 yo got hurt and was screaming and 4 yo was screaming b/c he was about to get in trouble)
216. Being close enough to know about some very personal decisions friends have made
217. May is National Foster Care month, thankful for the lives that have been changed and the lives God will continue to change through Foster Care
218. Family napping while I have alone time in the yard
219. Family napping while I have alone time blogging (or not but its Mother's Day so daddy is taking care of the one who is awake and still giving me alone time)
220. Roses for Mother's Day
221. Teacher appreciation tea at my homeschool group meeting
222. That I am not as intimidated as I used to be taking all three children with me various places
223. Fun field trips
224. Being able to chase, carry, and swing my kids around
225. More time at home

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Stick and Glue Easter Egg

My kids love to glue things so I taped a big egg on the wall and gave them tissue paper and easter themed stickers to decorate it. It was fun for a while and Kaley kept coming back to it to stick a few more peices every now and then.
This activity is so versatile too and could be slightly changed for pretty much any theme.
I wish I could remember what they are looking at so excited like but...

Here they are decorating it:

The finished project:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Real Food - Learning and Making Changes

A few weeks ago I had no clue what real food was. I heard and read a lot of buzz about it but really didn't know what to expect when I saw that there were two real food meal plans available for free download. I jumped on it because I had been looking for meal plans and also had heard that real food was healthy. In all honesty when I downloaded the meal plans, I had no clue what to expect. In reviewing them my first thought was, "We already eat a lot of this stuff. So, what is real food?" In further reading, reviewing, and researching I realized that real food can be pretty much any meal. It just means as minimally processed as possible and preferably organic. It involves lots of cooking from scratch or making sure store bought items contain very few ingredients.

I spent some time researching the 100 Days of Real Food website and found so much great information. I like how the rules are spelled out very clearly, even though I did not officially sign up for the 10 day challenge. I also find the 5 ingredient rule to be extrememly helpful when making purchasing choices. Lisa warns against judging the food product based on the front of the package, which is a rule of thumb I already live by on some things. But, she urges you to check the ingredient list on everything. Just in case you didn't know, the first item on the ingredient list is what there is the most of and so on. I didn't know that until about two or three years ago.

As much as I would love to, there is no way we can go 100% real food. I had a friend tell me that she knows someone who is 100% real food and budgets $250/week. That is more than double our ideal grocery store budget for the week. We can increase it a little and I think it is worth it for the benefits of eating healthier. All that being said, we have to be choosy at this point.

Below are the changes or lack of changes we will be making now and why:

1. We will continue to buy conventional milk (at least for now). Organic milk is more than 2 times more expensive. As much milk as we go through we are just not going to be able to swing buying organic milk at this time. Although, I did recently try some farm fresh milk and it was yummy. It didn't taste a whole lot different just definitely more fresh. I read an article that outlined the requirements for each type of farm. It seems that milk production is heavily regulated and this makes me feel a bit more safe about the milk options. I did find that the cheese blocks are not much more expensive so I will buy organic cheeses.
2. We will begin purchasing organic fruits and vegetables unless they are just rediculously more expensive, which I have not found to be the case yet. Since this is the bulk of what we are going to be eating I would like for it to be as healthy as possible. Also, I think they taste much better.
3. If it can be made from scratch (reasonably) I want to learn how and start doing it. This will give me more time in the kitchen with the kids and feed my family meals that are fresh and that we hand prepare.
4. We have already cut all HFCS over a year or so ago. I am going to research other sweeteners and sugars and cut as much as possible.
5. We will start using the 5 ingredient rule and not purchase items with more than 5 ingredients. This is difficult...vegetable chips, triscuits, and homemade granola are the only snack items we are eating now.
6. I want to research what all preservative names are, learn to recognize them in ingredient lists, and avoid as much as possible.
7. We will buy only "whole" type flours, bread, grains etc...
8. If I am torn between buying organic v/s non-organic and the price is not much different I will go ahead and buy organic. If the price difference is substantial I probably will not buy organic until I research it further...
9. So far I have bought organic chicken twice, sausage that had 7 ingredients in it...we just don't eat much meat. I haven't figured out what we are going to do on meat yet...but I do know that we can't afford to buy local least I don't think so because I haven't looked into it much.

There are a lot more things to think about changing to get closer to a real food lifestyle but honestly I haven't even had time to digest all of the information I have floating around in my head. This is just the beginning of getting it all out.

I am not a nutritionist or any other food expert. The information I share here is based solely on my personal research, experience, and opinions. You are the only one who can decide what is healthy or not healthy for you and your family.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Garrett - 9 months

I can't believe my baby is three quarters of a year I thought time moved fast before it is really flying by now. I feel like January was just yesterday. Garrett finally started sitting up. He seems to be accomplishing that a tad bit late. But, he was born 6 weeks early so who knows what schedule he will be on. In terms of size he has become a bit of a chunker. He weighs around 22 lbs. We go to the doc on Monday so I will have stats then. He loves the the safe feeder (I have the Munchkin brand). Braedon and Kaley never liked it but I tried it with Garrett and he loves it. I have put lots of different foods in it and he goes to town. He is almost sleeping through the night now. He is not eating anymore at night but he wakes up a few times and just needs his pacifier. I would start letting him settle himself except he is in our room and I don't want him to wake my husband. Here are some pictures of my sweet boy!

Previous posts:
8 months
7 months
6 months
5 months
4 months
3 months
2 months
1 month