Monday, October 29, 2012

God and Politics

Maybe dangerous for dinner conversation but what do we do with God and politics?  I grew up in a conservative Republican home going to an Assembly of God church.  I had one set of grandparents that were Republican and Southern Baptists.  We could talk about politics at their home but not our church.  Then I had a set of Democratic voting, Assembly of God grandparents.  We could talk about what we believed all day over chicken fried venison, but never politics.  I loved my Granddad but if he ran over a screw and flattened a tire, I would hear how it was somehow Reagan's fault.

I have heard a lot of Christians say during this election season that we shouldn't talk about politics.  If they feel called to be politically neutral, then they should do it.  But if other Christians do feel called to enter the political arena, I think they should follow what God is calling them to.  I read a Bible filled with prophets and apostles that stood before kings and advocated for God's laws.  I see God use his people like Esther and David, that actually were leaders of the land and used their position for the good of the people.

I don't think we should ever use a political platform to forsake the call on all of our lives.  We must love those who disagree with us.  Jesus is clear about how we should treat our enemies.  We can't lose our witness or cover our light by being offensive to the other side of the aisle.  Speak the truth in love, but never stop speaking the truth.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Secrets Every Mom Needs to Know

So here is the stuff I wish someone had told me before I had kids.  I'm not saying this is universal.  Just the stuff I have picked up along the way

1. The reason you don't tell your kids about Disney World
The commercials make it seem like it is just for this magical surprise that you can record on video.  That is a lie.  The truth is that if you tell your kids that your family is going to Disney World (or anywhere really) six months out, you will have to then live with daily questions.  "When are we going? Are we going Saturday?  Can we ride the Dumbo ride?  Can I go to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and get my hair done?  Can I bring eight stuffed animals?  Will we meet Buzz Lightyear?"  You get the picture.  Better to save it as a surprise and then they are just so excited that you are going that they forget about the details.

2. When in doubt, wear a costume
This especially applies to events like Disney on Ice.  I had no idea that 70% of the girls would be in Cinderella costumes the first time we went.  I had no idea that snow cones would be $12 either but live and learn.  I also quickly learned to bring Disney light up toys from the dollar store in my purse and eat a very big meal first but I digress.  Just put your kid in a costume if you are going to an event.  Fire Station tour?  Fire truck t-shirt.  Just do it.

3. Buy the best
Don't more than you can afford but buy quality.  This especially applies to school items and things they touch every day.  I'm a huge fan of Laptop Lunchboxes and LL Bean and Land's End for backpacks and coats.  Better to buy one $30 backpack that lasts rather than three $15 backpacks.

4. Nap mats
When taking a nap mat to school, you might think to go to Wal-Mart and by a regular red and blue plastic mat.  Wrong.  You evidently do that and then go buy a monogrammed washable cover with attached blanket and optional pillow.   Etsy is a great source for these.  I was blessed to find this out before preschool started.

5. Stuffed animals multiply
You have to gather them up once a month and donate them because I honestly believe something bizarre is happening in toy boxes across America.  Those buggers must be procreating because no matter how many I take out of the house, more seem to appear every day.

6. Kids will outgrow things at the worst times
My kids only outgrow clothing when it is impossible to replace what they have outgrown.  They wait until February when stores are putting out tank tops to tell me that their snow boots are way too small.  Their tank tops become midriffs about the time all the school sweaters are for sale in August.  I haven't really found a way around this other than just buying a little too big at the first of the season instead of "just right".

7. The worst secret of all.
This is the one I hate.  The one that it has taken me the longest to both learn and implement but it is almost fail proof.  You have to be the person you want your kids to be.  Want them to be patient? Loving? Kind to their family?  You have to be those things?  Want them to grow up big and strong and eat their veggies?  Yep, you have to eat healthily too.  I think it is a kingdom principle back to 1 Peter 1:16, "Be holy as I am holy".  We can't expect our kids to do something we won't do.  So if your kids are being sarcastic and smarting off...start with the way you talk to them and your spouse.  Ask God for forgiveness and resolve to be the best example you can be.

Please comment with the secrets you have picked up along the way that you wished you had known!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Olympic Party

Okay, I know it is early and even in London they would laugh at me for talking about it in February, but I'm already getting excited for the Olympics.  I love watching the games so much that last time I threw a little opening ceremony party for Beijing.  We had Team USA dogs, Budweiser, etc and then some Chinese food thrown in.  This time you know I'm doing burgers AND fish and chips.  Here is the cake I made last time.  A little advice: don't put the M&Ms on until right before the party or they will run.  The cake is a devil's food with some extra chocolate chips with a whipped cream frosting.

Can't wait for the torch to reach London!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Our Bookmark Valentines

I wanted to come up with a fun Valentine idea for my girls in school.  We made our version of something similar I saw on Pinterest with jumbo pink paperclips from Staples and various 48 cent ribbon from Wal-Mart and made a card that showed my kids holding up their favorite books with this bookmark clipped to it.  Here is the card I designed in Photoshop.

and here it is with the paperclip bookmark clipped to it:

and here she is signing the backs:

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Mini Swiffer

There aren't a ton of chores that a toddler can do but here is one!  I removed one of the "sticks" that you click together to make a Swiffer dry mop.  It makes it a great size for a toddler/small child.  Slap on a Swiffer dry cloth or microfiber rag and they can play and clean at the same time.
And here she goes...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

February Girl Scout Meeting

For this Girl Scout meeting we celebrated our "love of reading".
I started by pledge, GS promise and asked the girls how cookie selling was going and how they would like celebrate the end to cookie season.

Then I read them a short biography book of Juliette Gordon Low I borrowed from our council office and we talked about our favorite books and how we can share our love of reading.  I explained what a Ronald McDonald house is and how we would be making Valentine's Day goodie bags for the kids staying there and their families.  I have a friend that will deliver the bags on Valentine's Day.

I bought 12 books for $1.99 each from Half Price Books, got bags and tissue from Walmart, our troop donated 12 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, made 12 paper clip bookmarks, and made cards via Photoshop.  Here is the card:

The girls made the bookmarks:

They assembled the bags and then had a snack of strawberries and pretzels with chocolate dipping sauce.  We finished with our "Star Daisy" and "Star Brownie" where I give a little gift to the girl who embodied the Girl Scout Law and Make New Friends.  That was our February meeting!  The girls had a blast and I can't wait to hear about the families that get these bags!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

1 Roast, 2 Amazing meals

So I love saving money and time on dinner while making things still delicious.  Here is a super easy way to make one roast into two yummy dinners.

First, start with one of the easiest slow cooker recipes ever.  Take a roast, a three pounder would be great.  Put it in the slow cooker and liberally cover with some garlic powder.  Then pour in half to a whole jar of these:

Sliced Peperoncinis/banana peppers.  I used a half jar with juice this time because I don't want it too spicy for my kids.  It really wasn't spicy at all using half the jar.
Now cook for 8 hours on low and then shred...that part will be easy.

First meal-Italian Beef Sandwiches:  I use hoagie rolls and fill them full of this shredded roast goodness, top with some provolone cheese and toast in the oven on about 400 degrees for 5 minutes.  Top with mayo, tomatoes, etc.  Serve with a salad and oven fries.  I "borrowed" the pic above from this blog where she shows making a very similar version of my sandwiches.

Second meal-Street Tacos: Use the leftover shredded roast in warm corn tortillas and top with avocado, pico de gallo and cheese and serve with rice and beans.

Best part?  All of this can be purchased very inexpensively from Aldi!  I have never had a bad roast from their meat department.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wedding Photography Checklist

My husband and I are photographers and working on building our wedding business up this year.  Here is a checklists for photographers or brides to use to make sure all the important pictures are covered.
Click the link below pic to download!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Reheating pizza 2.0

So like a lot of people, if we had leftover pizza, I used to zap it in the microwave for a minute or use the magical pizza button.  But as you know, doughy things just get doughier (if that is a word) in the microwave.  I saw this tip somewhere and gave it a try and it is awesome.  I will never use the microwave for heating up leftover pizza again!

The stovetop!  It works!  It crisps up the crust and heats up the toppings just enough.   I just cook it on medium for a few minutes.  I even flip it and cook the toppings side for just a minute to get the cheese all gooey again.  This was some yummy New York style pizza from a local place and it was great last night but even better for lunch because the pan made the crust perfectly crispy!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Top Ten Baby Must-Haves

After having three babies in the last seven years, I have seen all the ads and tried a lot of baby products.  Some are gimmicks and are just a place for new parents to throw money, but some are truly awesome must-haves.  All babies and all parents are different but these are my favorite baby products:

10. Eurobath tub- like 2 tubs in one!  They can lay as little newborns and then sit up on the other side.  It cleans easily but it is a pain to store.
9. Ergo Baby Carrier-worth its weight in gold and they almost price it accordingly.  It is comfortable for baby and mommy...even mommies with horrible backs like mine.  I look like an idiot buckling the middle back strap sometimes but once it is on, it is great.

8. Carter's Sleep and Play outfits-seriously the cuddliest clothes out there.  They hold up so well and fit great.  I have a ton in all those storage bins up there in the closets and they still look great.

7. Snuza-It is a movement monitor that clips onto their diaper and sounds an alarm if they stop breathing.  I use it and the Angelcare Monitor.  The plus to the Snuza is that they can where it anywhere.  I wish insurance companies would pay for every baby to leave the hospital to go home with one of these.  I slept much better knowing this thing was on my baby all night.

6. Playtex Drop-ins Bottles-they are BPA free and so easy to use.  As someone who didn't own a dishwasher with her oldest, these are a lifesaver.  And I love that they have the most choices when it comes to nipple styles.  My kids had serious nipple preferences and I could always find a Playtex that worked.

5. Maclaren Strollers-I currently own three.  Yes, three.  I have the Easy Traveller that is like a Snap and Go for infant seats, a Volo and a Quest.  I love my Quest.  It almost pushes itself.  I have taken the Volo over the cobblestone streets of London, through airports around the world and it is still working great.  They are almost indestructible and so easy to use.

4.  Fisher-Price Space Saver Highchair-I love that it sits on a chair and doesn't take up the volume a conventional high chair does.  It cleans easily, adjusts well and even converts to a booster.  What a deal!
3. Bumbo-love this thing.  Okay, don't put your kid in it on top the refrigerator and don't keep them in it for hours on end but when you need it, it rocks.  My kids are late sitters and this helps them feel like they can sit up and play.  I have even used it as a high chair and a bath seat on vacation and it wipes right up.

2.  Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper-a great way to keep your newborn close to you and a total must if your baby has reflux.  It folds up flat and is great in small spaces.  I would take it from room to room in the first couple of months and have a place to the lay the baby down.  She was so comfy in this and it kept her on her back and on an angle.

and finally...
1. The Swaddle Me blanket and Woombie-both amazing at keeping babies all wrapped up and safe feeling in this cruel, cold world.  I credit these for giving me (and the baby) uninterrupted sleep far sooner than we would have otherwise.  My babies are easily startled and this let them stay sweetly bundled tight and sleep soundly.  The Woombie is great for babies that outgrow the Swaddle Me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The best software I have ever purchased!

Other than Photoshop of course!

YNAB! is the most user-friendly software I have ever used!  It is like a checkbook register that works with a budget you set up.  They offer free webinars and even have a free book you can read to really maximize your usage.  I have tried and other online methods but this has been the best way to really use and keep a budget I have ever found.  Give it a try!  They have a free trial for over 30 days so you can tinker around before you commit.

I also like giving my money to a small business.  The developers came up with this software based on the concept of spending last month's money so this month's is in the bank.  You build up your buffer until you are at this point.  It really helps us because a lot of our expenses are on the 1st of the month (mortgage, etc) so we need that buffer.  It really works well with the concepts we learned from Dave Ramsey.

Friday, January 6, 2012

E-Mealz Review and a Very Pretty Salad!

So I'm in deep with Dave Ramsey.  Really deep.  Like when people ask me how I'm doing, I have to keep myself from saying, "better than I deserve."  If you listen to Dave you know that advertises on his radio show so I was curious.  Along came a Groupon deal for $17 for a 6 month membership so I felt it was worth the leap.

So what is  It is a dinner planning service that give my brain and creativity a break and does all the hard work for me by giving me a meal plan for the week with a shopping list.  I chose the Aldi plan because it is my favorite grocery store and I'm trying to save money.  They say that 7 meals will add up to a grocery bill of $65-$80 per week but I haven't seen one over $75 yet.  It has saved us so much money especially because I was the type that would resort to eating out if I didn't like what we had on hand.

I really like the food!  It is super easy and pretty similar to what we already eat but just done for me!  There are some really creative meals that I hadn't thought of and even some crock pot recipes in there.  A lot of people wonder what to do if they don't like all the dinners for that week.  We aren't super picky eaters so this isn't a huge issue for us but there is usually one meal a week that isn't right for our family so we substitute a family favorite, frozen pizzas and a bagged salad or we make sure that is Tuesday night's meal because kids eat free at our Chick-fil-A!

Here was one of our meals the other night.  It was a layered salad that I would never normally make but we loved it!  I added a layer of chopped chicken breast and some green onions but otherwise followed my plan of layering:
chopped lettuce
thawed frozen peas
cheddar cheese
sliced hard boiled eggs
and a dressing made of 1 cup mayo (I used light) with 2 T sugar
My kids thought it was too pretty to eat and there was plenty left for the next day!

If you have been on the fence about, give it a try and give your brain a break!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January Girl Scout Meeting

I lead a Brownie/Daisy Troop and here was our first meeting in January:
I wanted a quiet activity for the girls since the moms were going to have a little cookie meeting and sign permission slips.
We did pledge and the Girl Scout Promise.  Then I had the girls go around and say one thing they got for the holidays that they really enjoyed and their name (we just got more new girls in the troop).  Then I asked if anyone could remember everyone's name and what their special present was.  A couple of girls could and they helped each other out.
Then we talked about a famous Girl Scout.  We do this every meeting.  This time it was Robin Roberts.  We talked about who she is and what a journalist is.
Then we made snow playdough.  I had it premade and in Ziplocs but I went around and sprinkled glitter in and had them squish it together.  They had a paper plate and they made snowmen, snowforts, snowballs, snow angels, igloos, etc.  We live in TX and haven't had any real snow this year...yet.

My daughter's snow fort
Then we had little ice cream sundae cups for snack and talked about how you can make snow ice cream.  Then we talked about winter animals and how they survive being out in the cold...polar bears, penguins, etc. by hibernating or having really warm coats.
Finished with talking about selling cookies and had the girls try to name all the cookies.  I award a "Star Daisy" and "Star Brownie" based on who was quiet, respecful, etc and gave them the new Lipsmackers lip balm in Girl Scout Cookie flavors (available at Walmart) and sang Make New Friends.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Life Journal

I have blogged about Life Journalling before but I thought it would be a great time to talk about it again since a lot of people resolve to spend more time in the Word for the New Year.  Life Journals are one way to have some daily time reading the Bible and then reflecting on what you read.  You can go to their site at and then click on "Read Now".

Their method involves reading through the Bible in a year and picking out one passage or verse a day to journal about.  You use the acronym, "SOAP"....

Scripture: write out the verse
Observation: write out this verse in your own words and what you feel God is saying in it
Application: write out what how you feel this applies to your life
Prayer: write a prayer of how you need help living out this verse or what you hear God saying to you

It is that simple.  Here is an example of how I would do it using today's passage:

S-So he went back to Nazareth with them, and lived obediently with them. His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.  Luke 2:51:52

O-Mary probably couldn't fully process all the miracles she had experienced both before and after Jesus was born.  She did her best to raise her son all while trying to understand the words she had heard about her child from angels and prophets.  

A-As a mom, I understand what it is like to marvel at the promises of God over my children.  My kids aren't Jesus and they aren't perfectly obedient every day but I know that they have a special plan for their lives and I need to focus on holding those promises dearly.  I am here to raise them to know God and fulfill the grand plan He has for them.

P-God help me to hold the promises for my kids dearly, deep in my heart.  Remind me of what you have said is in their future and reveal to us as their parents how we are to lead them through their childhood.  God let me never be too distracted that I forget that nurturing their spiritual growth is the most important job I have as a mom.

I really enjoy this method and I find it helps me focus on what I have read.  I hope this can help someone else.  They sell journals that outline the method and have the daily Bible reading on each page but you can do this online or in any notebook.