Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Jacket Puzzles

Hardcover books come with that paper jacket, right?  I don't know if this is the case with other peoples kids, but Vera loves to take them off and they get ripped up easily.  It's kind of pointless putting them back on, so I decided to reuse them and make puzzles. Again, another use for cardboard.  All you do is glue the jacket onto the cardboard, trim off the sides, and cut into puzzle shapes.  I also store these in manila envelopes.

book jacket
glue stick
Total Cost - free!

Lacing Cards

I've mentioned before how much Vera loves a project.  This was something new that I remembered doing from my childhood.  I always save cardboard from packaging and keep it in my craft box for things like this.
cardboard - already owned
shoestrings - $2/pkg.
manila envelope - already owned 
Total Cost - $6

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Farther Along; Josh Garrels

"I wonder why the good man dies, the bad man thrives and Jesus cries because He loves them both"

Shame On Me, I'd Forgotten.

I'm reading "Heaven Is For Real," and it's good.  I'm only half way through, but mostly it has convicted me that I had forgotten the power of prayer.  How could I have forgotten, though?  Throughout my life, God has answered me on countless occasions, always taking care of me, always providing, always drawing me closer to Him.  But amidst life, it happened.

This book has brought me to my knees on a nightly basis on the floor of my girls' bedroom.  As they are sleeping, softly breathing in and out, I battle for them before the Lord laying prostrate before Him.  I beg God to give them the gift of salvation, most of all.  I ask for Him to give me wisdom in how I parent, to give me patience and love when I am lacking.  I pray that unity would be the testimony of our family.  I tell God all the ways I fell short of living righteously that day, describing the sin that was in my heart, even if on the outside I seemed put together.  

Prayer is for real.

What do you pray about?  Or do you do pray at all?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Dad Would Be Proud

I decided to polish up Chris's work shoes today. It made me feel like a very 1940s wife and that I should be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, too. (Wait, I've done that before.) It was kind of fun though seeing the before (left) and after (right). Subtle, but makes a difference. Knowing Chris, he probably doesn't care either way, but I figure since they are his "nice" shoes, I might as well make them look good.

I saw my dad polish his shoes weekly when I was little. I bet he still does it. The big brush with soft bristles. The smell of the Kiwi container. It brings me back. It also brings me back to a memory I have sitting on the concrete floor of my barracks, outside at Fort Jackson. My entire platoon was on break time which meant TCB (take care of business). Polishing our boots was one of those tasks. We'd have to unlace the shoe strings, apply the polish, then buff them up until they were nice and shiny to pass inspections.

Luckily, no inspections here today.

Inside My Purse

Two different sizes of diapers (potty training is in the near future!), calendar (I'm still old school and prefer scribbling it down), extra onesie, nursing cover, earbuds, moist towelettes, keys, wallet, wipes, phone, spare change, little clippies, chap stick (everyday use), lip gloss (when I feel fancy!), pen, diaper rash ointment, measuring tape, Tylenol (inside Altoid container), hand sanitizer

Friday, July 22, 2011

Currently Snacking On...

Hard boiled eggs.  Like straight up.  I do a few early in the week so they are at the ready.  They make a great to-go snack in the car, too.  My mom used to take a Sharpie and write "B" on the egg shells so she'd know which ones were boiled and which were raw.  Smart thing, she is.  Vera loves them, too.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

163 lbs. and Feeling Pretty Damn Good

I am so not ashamed to type that title and for that, all glory to God.  A good friend sent me this article today and every word resonated with me. (Please read. It's that good.)

Last weekend I went to a clothing exchange.  Are you familiar?  You bring your load of unwanted items that you no longer wear; clothes, accessories, shoes, etc.  You get rid of your stuff and come home with new-to-you items.  It was kind of a sucky day for me.  I showed up and instantly realized I was 'the big girl' as I walked in.  I felt like I really stuck out, and how unfortunate for me that I was attending a clothing exchange.  While there, I even had thoughts about how to write a humorous blog post about how to endure a clothing exchange as the big girl--come home with a pair of shoes, nail polish, jewelry, and a hat.  Which is exactly what I got out of it.  Most of the pants I looked through--size 0-5.  Shirts?  Smalls or mediums.  Certainly not big enough for a breastfeeding gal, let alone someone who has my size "girls."  I hadn't spent much time at home thinking about what to wear, but when I left, I felt pretty cute in the outfit I'd picked.  Funny how things change when you're in a certain environment.  When I was there, I looked down at myself and thought, "Who wears jean shorts anymore?  What was I thinking wearing a tank top that exposes my arms?  I shouldn't have worn flip flops."  I left the clothing exchange feeling really down.  I tried to make light of it, but really, I was feeling so insecure and ugly.

Until I got home.  (Thank You, Jesus.)  My husband loves me so much and I know without a doubt that he genuinely thinks I am a beautiful woman.  And what's funny is that I actually feel pretty good in my skin.  I'm back at it with the running and go to the gym 5-6 days a week.  (A little excessive perhaps, but I truly look forward to it every day.)  I'm training for another half marathon, go to a weight lifting class twice a week, and walk my dog everyday.  I'm an active person.  I enjoy moving and love being healthy.  This doesn't mean I am a calorie counter by any means.  I eat with gusto and enjoy food, and for the most part make healthy choices.  But I'm still a size 12.  Sure, I've got some baby weight I'd like to lose and am not back at my original weight, but I feel good.  I feel really good.

I refuse to be a slave to this world's messed up ideals of beauty.  Why should I let it bring me down?  Can I have permission to go against the grain on this?  To rebel against society's brainwashing?  I don't want to live my life (the only one I will ever have) obsessing about my reflection.  I don't want to spend my days always projecting what I want to look like in the future.  I don't want to wake up a 45 year old one day and still be battling the same issues I dealt with as a 15 year old.  Give me freedom, Jesus.  Let me embrace who I am and be proud because I am your girl.  If I don't, I rob God of His glory.  I spit in His face because I don't think He did a good enough job being Creator.

Monday, July 18, 2011

5-Minute Hot Fudge Sundae

 Talk about case of the Mondays.  I will spare you the details.  But the victorious part of my day is both girls napping at the same time.  For the past 3 months I have pretty much taken a nap everyday myself, but since Lydia is sleeping through the night now, I no longer feel that constant, lingering tiredness.  I can actually get stuff done.  Dinner, cleaning, yard work.  It's glorious.

I have been craving a hot fudge sundae for the past couple of weeks--pretty much right after my sabbatical from sweets.  Well, I finally got my hands on one today.  At 2:30 in the afternoon.  Why not?  This recipe seriously took less than 5 minutes from start to finish.  Make this!

Hot Fudge
adapted from Rachael Ray

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I bought 70% Callebaut tokens--love me some bitter chocolate!)
1/2 c. very strong black coffee
3 T. butter, cut into 3 pieces
4 T. heavy cream
1/2 t. cinnamon
your choice of ice cream and toppings

In heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, melt chocolate with coffee.  Once chocolate melts, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, cream, and cinnamon.  That's it!
I drizzled the chocolate over vanilla ice cream and sprinkled on my favorite nut in the whole wide world--Marcona Almonds!  Expensive, yes..but if you've got the cushion in your budget to splurge one week at the grocery store, you won't regret it.

Currently Snacking On...

Ingredients:  fresh plantain, vegetable oil, salt
Oh so yum.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Don't Know What This Says About Me...

These are the original Fisher Price Little People from my childhood.  I loved playing with them and of course, they all had names. From memory, I can still tell you what all of their names are.  Joanie and Julie are identical twins, by the way.  Mustache Bob is the father of Bobby.  I liked my originality of Firemen #1 and #2.  And then there's the token black guy, Larry.  Apparently Rufus was all I could think of for the dog's name.  Grandpa is also a librarian, hence the glasses.  Because, duh.  All librarians wear glasses.  Holly is pretty bossy.  Jane wants to be like Claire.  They are in the same grade and Jane dresses like Claire whenever possible.  Joey is the baby because he's only got a few strands of hair.  Billy plays baseball in the Little League.  Surprisingly, Zack looks a lot like Joey, but they aren't related at all.  And Zack isn't a baby.  In fact, he's the cool kid with the buzz cut.  Susan's got great eye make-up, don't you think?  Oh, how I loved my Little People.

Friday, July 08, 2011

What We're Eating

I usually grocery shop on Saturdays without kids.  But lately I've been sleeping in, going to a later Body Pump class, and then have to be home to feed Lydia before her nap time.  So I've started braving the task with both kids in tow on Fridays instead.  This is both good and bad.  Good because of no crowds.  Bad because of no samples to keep Vera happy.

Remember the days of flipping through cookbooks to get meal inspiration?  I still do that, but it's super easy to just bookmark ideas when they are posted, then gather the list for menus the next week.

Monday:  Pan-Seared Fish (whatever is fresh and cheap), Wheat Pasta with Sun GoldTomatoes
Tuesday: Black Bean Burgers, Carrot Fries with Tzatziki, Watermelon
WednesdayCinnamon Baked French Toast, Sausage Links
Thursday:  BBQ Chicken, Polenta Stack with Navy Bean Salad
Friday:  Amy's Chunky Tomato Soup, Grilled Cheese

The ExtrasStrawberry Agua Fresca, Rhubarb Pie

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

How To Keep Your Kid's Interest Without Buying More Stuff

 I am not a fan of accumulating stuff and that goes for kids' stuff, too.  I figure babies have developed just fine through the centuries not having hundreds of toys, so I don't feel like my kids need excess.  Here are a few things I've found helpful when facing boredom in the home.

* Change location of toys.  Rotate to different rooms or outside, if durable in outdoor weather.  Suddenly a ball or buggy becomes interesting again when placed outside instead of in the playroom.  The ball can now be kicked with full force, bounced off of the brick patio, and chased by a dog.  The buggy becomes a carriage for sticks, rocks, and grass and can be transported throughout the yard.  Books that were on a shelf in the bedroom can be located instead on a table in the playroom or in a basket in the living room.
* Hide toys for future use.  When a toy becomes mundane and boring to the child, pack away to bring out another day.  It will eventually become novelty again.
* Create activity stations.  A couple of weeks ago I was teaching Vera the colors blue and red.  I made little stations for each color and brought out items from throughout the house of those colors.  It could have been a sock or tube of toothpaste, but suddenly everyday items became not only a teaching lesson but something of interest.  Seeing all sorts of objects of the same color together was fun for me to collect and fun for Vera to play with.
* Interaction vs. Solitary  I've noticed that Vera will enjoy playing with something on her own for awhile, but when I get on her level and play with her, it is a different ball game.  She will enjoy a puzzle on her own for a few minutes, then I can come sit with her and she will continue for much longer.
* Swap with friends.  This has been a lifesaver for us.  When a child's attention span can be limited, it is great to have a community of moms who are willing to swap toys, books, and contraptions.  Everyone has spent money on some items, so why not share?  Vera has a lot of "girly" toys; babies, stroller, buggy, etc.  It has been fun to borrow cars, ramps, tractors, tools, and toddler sports equipment.  It has also worked out really well doing the same with infant contraptions because sometimes they are only helpful for just a few months.  We own an infant swing and doorway jumper and in the past have borrowed an exersaucer, play gym, bouncer, and walker.  Another perk to swapping is that you don't have to overcrowd your home or storage spaces.