Thursday, December 31, 2009

And we wonder why I love to dress up?

This is my father at a Christmas party my parents had. Enough said. Happy 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

You Have to love a man...

You have to love a man who will wear bronzer with you to appear more Floridian than either of you really are. Tonight some dear friends had a gathering of friends from our Supper and ALC clubs and other groups so that we could visit and relax after Christmas. DH & I could hardly wait to see these old friends, especially since we had not seen some of them in a year!! In fact, one couple was not expecting a baby when we left and we met their precious 4 week old tonight! DH & I love to dress up and have fun. Friends in this group have seen us dress up in the past and we just couldn't let them down! So, we decided to go "all Floridian" on them. Now I do love Florida. Our friends in FL look very much like our friends in NC. However, Florida does have its stereotypes so we decided to arrive as Floridians. DH agreed to put on bronzer and I streaked that mess all over my face and decolletage. I bought a blonde wig and became Lolita the Lounge singer. DH wore his shorts, dark socks, a borrowed Tommy Bahama shirt, and some loafers. People couldn't get over our tans. In fact, my own sister-in-law walked in and did not even recognize me! What a fun time. We love you, sweet Raleigh friends! Thank you for coming out to see us.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

My mother is an excellent entertainer. She has hosted countless dinners, bridge nights, parties, debutante teas, baby showers, welcome to town luncheons, Christmas dinners, and family gatherings. She is also an excellent cook. Today my father's family will join us for an after-Christmas lunch. I know that Mama is about to entertain because her trusty book is out on the counter. Mama is so smart in that she has a hardback book that holds all of her menus from any time she has entertained. It also holds the names of those present. It is a wonderful treat to look back and see what she has served on different occasions. Another benefit of this book is that it helps Mama keep her menus varied so that she does not serve the same beef tenderloin or shrimp and grits to the same people every time they come over.

I just loved this idea and began a book when DH and I married. I admit I haven't been as diligent at writing in it, but I have enjoyed looking back to see what dinners I delivered when new babies were born or there was a death in the family. I have also tried to slide the invitation and pictures from the event in the book. When we were first married, we had friends over all of the time for dinner or game night. It is highly entertaining to look back and see what we fed our friends and who we entertained at our newlywed table. Now that we are in a new town, I am going to try to be more consistent at writing in my book. After all, I don't want to feed W & D the same Greek shrimp or give L & W the same steaks we had the last time we had them to our house.

I recommend being just like my Mama and starting your own book of menus in 2010! You'll be glad you did.

Mama Henley checking in...

I love hearing about other people's traditions. I also love reading other people's mail, but that's another story. Don't get all paranoid if I've visited your house. I only read my parents' mail and it's always with their permission. In fact, they know how I love to read it, so they leave interesting letters out for me to enjoy. And I digress once again. Back to tradition. As you're packing away the ornaments that you collect each year and stuffing bows with tissue paper, think about what you enjoy most about this time of year. What are your favorite traditions? The same friend who puts her children's painted hand prints on her tree skirt every year also gives each child a Christmas book every Christmas. Inside the book she writes about that child, their interests over the last year, some fun memories, and who their friends are. It's a great way to keep memories and remember special times every time you break out the Christmas books. How do you Deck the Halls? Fill me in on some fa la la. I eat the stuff up. Merry Merry!

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Mama Always Said

My Mama always said you should never serve what she calls a "Great White Dinner". A "Great White Dinner" is a meal without any green on the plate. Mama is right because we all need our veggies! Sometimes Mama would serve dinner and realize that she had forgotten the green vegetable, and rice, chicken, and a roll will not suffice. You need that green. An orange vegetable like carrots will also help break up the monotony. And remember, a little parsley goes a long way! Merry Merry!

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Everyone has traditions they enjoy repeating each year at Christmas. We love eating Moravian sugar cake on Christmas morning. As you begin taking down your ornaments and decorations, consider this sweet tradition my friend R told me about. Each year she lets her boys decorate their Christmas tree skirt with their handprints. She can look at the tree skirt each year and see how her boys have grown over the years. I think this is a precious idea! I wish I had known about it when the triplets were born. Perhaps we'll start this tradition this year!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Littlest Angel

Our precious angel turned three on Saturday. I can hardly believe it! I can't imagine not having a baby to follow in the footsteps of our toddler turned little girl. I love this age. Hurricane wrestles with wanting to be a baby some days and wanting to be a big "guhl" in the next breath. I love that she will still crawl in my bed and snuggle, she will still rock when I need it! (ha), she loves her night-night and yet she is fiercely independent and "can do it myself"! She loves to run and play and every day she is dressed as a different princess. Just today she looked at my computer and said, "I want to see H on stage." She was the sweetest angel you have ever seen. Of course I cried seeing our little angel dressed as an angel and too scared to sing her sweet Christmas songs that she had practiced for weeks. It was too sweet. We are thankful for every day we have with our youngest bundle of joy. It is such a treat to see her interact with her siblings. Hurricane, you are our sweet joyous little angel! We love you!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It feels like old home week

I love being back in our hometown. My mama always said, "It feels like old home week" when we were somewhere where we saw lots of old friends. Well, let me tell you a little something. If you go to our local Target, and you haven't been there in a while, it feels like old home week! As we were walking up to those glorious automatic red doors, we ran into not one, not two, but three different families we know. We also saw two middle and high school children that we know. They were so adorable and were doing a little Christmas shopping of their own for their siblings! As we were walking in the store, one of our favorite pharmacy techs saw us and waved. As we entered the store, I saw one of my best friend from childhood's mother, one of our daughter's friends with her family, and many other friendly faces. We enjoyed giving hugs and saying hello to everyone. After all, it felt just like old home week.

**Sweet Tampa friends, we do miss you. It just feels good to not be so anonymous for a little while! We'll be back undercover soon! :)**

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Our Ballerina Bug

Our Bug has been taking ballet with one of her sweet new best friends. Her Christmas recital was last week. I was so proud of our little ballerina!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Take a deep breath

This is the time of year where we are all running around, trying to keep up with what is coming next. It never fails that we forget a gift for someone, our cookies are ugly like mine were at our Cookie Party, or the fancy meal we planned is served cold. IT IS OKAY. No one is perfect. Let me repeat: no one is perfect. That great looking woman with the pretty blonde hair and the tan and the fantastic figure has burned cookies or yelled at her husband or not even started her Christmas shopping yet. This is a busy time of year for everyone. Simplify first. If Christmas cards overwhelm you, wait until January (though Mama Henley will be sad because I LOVE Christmas cards). If you just can't make one more dish for a party, go to Costco, buy the salmon, and throw that baby on a pretty platter with some greenery. My mama says parsley goes a long way! Whatever you do, don't let your friend's amazing craft for the 20 first graders get in the way of your ability to enjoy the season. We all have gifts. Some of us can decorate like Pink, Green, and Southern. Others have the gift of their time. They can't make a craft worth a hoot but they can sing or read stories with the best of them. Still others are able to bless teachers and schools financially with nice Christmas gifts. Then there are some who have the gift of reminding all of us what this time is really about: the birth of Jesus Christ. Enjoy this special time of year where families come together to celebrate Jesus' birthday and the blessing of family. Take a deep breath and walk out of the room if someone says a comment that offends you. Celebrate your health, your LIFE, your family, and our Lord. Don't sweat the small stuff, my sweet friends! Now read this again to remind yourself that you are FABULOUS! MERRY MERRY!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Angel Snack

We have a sweet baby girl with a Christmas birthday. This time of year children are being given loads and loads of sugar. I wanted to do something special for Hurricane's birthday snack at school, but I didn't want to send in more cupcakes or cookies. Therefore, I made fruit and cheese angels. They are the CUTEST snack! All you need are snack size ziplock bags, grapes or any other fruit, cheese, and fun glitter pipe cleaners. Put cheese on one side of the snack bag and your fruit on the other side. Cinch in the middle and wrap a pipe cleaner around it. Twist one end of the pipe cleaner to look like a halo. Now you have a cute and healthy and snack!

For some reason I am not able to post a picture right now so come back later to see!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wouldn't you know...

Our home phone went out for the 12th time in less than a year. I was livid and threatened Brighthouse like you wouldn't believe. They didn't feel too threatened by Mama Henley because they made me wait FIVE DAYS without a working phone. FINALLY Ernesto showed up today and started investigating. I listed the things that had been changed in the past. He went back over all of those things. All of a sudden he disappeared. Our house guest let me know that he was in the bathroom. Wouldn't you know I opened the door a little later and could hardly BREATHE???!!! Why oh why does this happen to me ALL of the time?! I am the girl who always chooses the "recently contaminated stall" at the public restroom. I am also the girl who has a repairman stink up my bathroom! Does this ever happen to you? On one hand I felt bad that the man could not do his business in complete peace knowing that we were in the house. On the other hand, YIKES!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday's Tip...How to really love your man

There are so many things a young bride needs to know such as how to wash clothes, iron, and make a decent dinner. However, there is one tip that would help so many men that no one ever tells women. If you want to help a man out, shave his neck. "What in the world are you talking about?", you may ask. Well, once I share this tip with you, you will have a new fetish out in public of looking to see whose neck needs to be shaved! We all have hair that tends to grow beneath our hairline. Many men have hair that grows on the back of their necks and it needs to be shaved in between hair cuts for a clean look. It takes just a few minutes of your time but can make a major difference in your man's appearance! Plus, he can't see his own neck to know when it needs to be shaved. It's your job to help your man look good! Next time you're in public, look around. Do you see men with unsightly neck hair? You will be amazed at how many men have neglected necks! Don't let your man be one of them! :) Merry Merry!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Triple Trouble

Our triplets used to love their little garden! You can buy one on ebay by clicking here. It is a toy our children have all loved and cherished, even as 2, 3, and 4 year olds. In fact, just this morning our friend, W, was throwing away her little garden. We had left our garden with a special niece in NC, so I loaded W's garden into my car so that H can play with it in our backyard! She will be so excited! This is a great gift for a young child if you need some ideas!

I sure do miss our little baby triplets! Aren't they the sweetest?!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Easy Christmas Dessert

December is such a fun month with Jesus' birthday and all of the parties, parties, parties. Even if you don't do a lot of baking, you have probably found yourself in the kitchen doing just that. We had a wonderful party to attend last night and I had offered to bring a dessert. I had offered to make a dessert not knowing girl #1 would break her arm and we'd spend an entire day seeing doctors to fix it, or that we'd have company or that we'd have a day that left little time for baking or running to the store. So, Mama Henley had to be creative. Thankfully I usually keep a box of brownie or cake mix on hand that I have bought on sale. I pulled out some brownie mix and some mini candy canes we had in the house. I crushed the candy canes by putting them in a ziploc bag and beating it with a spoon. I made the brownie mix and threw in the crushed peppermint. After following the directions on the box to bake the brownies, I let them cool. I can never cook brownies quite long enough, so mine were a little gooey but the whole family tried to eat them! I think sprinkled peppemints over the brownies, cut them, and placed them on a silver tray. I tied some pretty red and white wired ribbon on each handle of the tray. Voila! We were able to take our dessert to the party and people seemed to enjoy them! I'll try to post a picture. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy 101... I've been TAGGED!

That precious BEVY at "It's a Golden Day" has tagged me! I just love Bevy's blog. We seem to have a lot in common and even had fun commenting back and forth one night. She's a jewel!

I am to list 10 things that make me happy and then tag 10 bloggers who brighten my day!

1. Waking up to the sound of little feet padding across the floor and coming into our room.

2. Affection from my sweet hubby and date nights with him!

3. The notes and cards our children make us.

4. Traveling with friends.

5. Spending uninterrupted time as a family. We love to visit the beach, Disney, or just to play at home.

6. Dinner from Mi Cocina in Dallas, Texas

7. Laughing with my parents, brothers, and sisters-in-law

8. Taking a hot bath before bed every night and waking up to have a cold Diet Dew with crushed ice!

9. Seeing our children grow in their relationships with the Lord and learning so much. They are such precious people!

10. Being with friends who build me up and make me feel really special!

I tag:

Entertaining House

t's Raining Pearls

400 Square Feet

The Wagner Family

Love Being a Nonny

Bees and Fleur de Lis

Travelbug Mom

The Hayden Family

Northern Girl Southern Soul

Social Climbers

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Being a Good Guest

It's Christmas party time!! What better time of year for parties is there than December? As you are planning your outfits and choosing which shoes to wear, it's also important to remember how to be a good guest. My parents are GREAT guests and they have taught me how to strive to be one too!

A good guest:

-Arrives on time or fashionably late (just a little bit after the time the party starts) *It is important to be on time for a dinner party or birthday party, but it's okay to come late to a Christmas party that is a drop in and will last for several hours.

-Offers to bring something to help such as a dessert or hors d'oeuvres

-Brings a hostess gift to thank the host and hostess for the invitation. You can bring a bottle of wine, a homemade gift, some flowers, bath salts, or a cute gift from a fun store. In lieu of a hostess gift, you can send flowers or a "day after the party" basket the following day.

-Participates. If it is a party with a theme, then join in the fun and go ALL OUT! Don't be a dud. If it's a Lilly soiree, don your best Lilly attire. If the party has a Vegas theme, be creative and go as Elvis or a bride or a hardened gambler. Whatever you do, be sure to participate!

-Is interesting. My papa has always said that you should be the life of the party and make conversation at the dinner table. Ask questions. My friend, Happy Mommy, always has the most unique questions. Sometimes she'll have a question like "I want everyone to think of their 3 most favorite things right now and then we'll talk about it in a little while to give you time to think". It was so interesting when she did this on a trip. We learned about favorite skin care items, lipstick, and all kinds of other tricks! If you're at a seated dinner, ask questions. Don't just talk about yourself. However, if you are asking questions and getting very little response, then start telling stories! People love to laugh. My husband can make anyone laugh and so he is always fun at social events. I can take him anywhere:).

-Calls the next day to say how fun the event was or sends a note in the mail. If you call your host/hostess, then you do not have to write a letter. However, written words of appreciation are ALWAYS appreciated.

-Reciprocates. A good guest is also a good hostess!

FA La LA! Have fun at all of your Christmas parties!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Little Angels.... triplets

Here are our sweet triplets at about 7 weeks old. Our son had finally joined us at home and I was so excited to try to take a birth announcement picture. All 3 babies are no more than 5 pounds in this picture, which is about double their birth weight! It's hard to believe these beautiful babies are now in 2nd grade and totally healthy!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Are you feeling behind?

Has December surprised you and arrived earlier than you thought? Is it December 8th yet you feel like it should be December 1st? Are you without a Christmas tree, decorations, or cards? If so, it is time to simplify! If you are having a stressful year, change some of your traditions and make it easier on yourself. DH & I love Christmas and seeing all of our old decorations and ornaments. We have been given some beautiful ornaments over the years from Tiffany, Christopher Radko, Waterford, etc. However, we needed to simplify this year. Therefore, we did not even open my ornament boxes. Instead, we allowed the children to decorate the tree with their ornaments, both the ones they made and the ones they have received as gifts. I have a rubbermaid container for each child with their name on it in black marker. Each Christmas, we pack away each child's ornaments in their very own box. Then, they can decorate the tree with their personal ornaments. It is so much fun for the children to see their old friends and now they remember their ornaments from year to year. This year's tree is not our biggest or nicest tree, but it is so special because it is decorated with our children's special ornaments that they have made through the years and the ones grandparents, godparents, and friends have given them. It is beautiful! Don't be afraid to simplify because sometimes it turns out better than ever!

Tuesday's Tip

You are not going to believe it!! My smart friend, R, just taught me the most amazing thing!! You can go to Publix, or most likely any grocery store, and order DYED BREAD from the bakery. Now I know you are thinking, "Why on earth would I want GREEN bread? It'll look like mold!" Yes, it is a bit unusual, but you will just love how precious those Christmas tree sandwiches look when they are GREEN!!! I bought a loaf for $2.79 today at Publix. I ordered it yesterday and they had it waiting for me. The children loved their fun green sandwiches tonight!! This is particularly fun for cute shaped sandwiches for your child's preschool or elementary school Christmas party. Try it!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Sweet and the 12 Days of Christmas

My sweetheart is the funniest person I know. He is laugh out loud funny. People have asked if I laugh all of the time, and I do. I used to think I was pretty funny until I met my man. He is also very smart. He knows something about everything. Many years ago, we were out at a party and he was given the nickname "Renaissance Man". We laughed then, but in many ways it's true. He has so many talents.

Anyway, Pink Martini mentioned receiving gifts for the 12 days of Christmas. She loved it. Someone did the same thing for our friends, Nita and Drew, last Christmas. I am thinking about surprising my man with a gift each of the 12 days. I'm creative, but I'm not sure I'm 12-days-in-a-row-partridge-in-a-pear-tree-to-12-drummers-drumming creative. Please help me brainstorm! My sweet man rarely reads my blog, so help a girl out! Thanks, y'all!

Friday, December 4, 2009

For Women Only... or read with caution!

**This story may be too much for men to read. Consider yourself warned and know that you just have to laugh. I hope I don't make anyone uncomfortable!

I have some funny friends. Life wouldn't be right without some humor. One of these funny friends called me yesterday on her way to an OB appointment. She was going to have a little procedure, so the doctor had given her 2 pills for pain at a previous appointment. My friend, whom I'll just nickname Sally, was excited to have a little Vicodin or Valium to take the edge off. She said she figured she could use a little anti-anxiety medication with all that December entails. So, she pulled out her medicine to take it yesterday after reading she needed to take it four hours before her appointment. Then she read in horror the following words, "INSERT IN VAGINA". "What?!", Sally thought. Where was the Vicodin to help a girl out? What else was there to do but to pick up the phone and call the receptionist at her doctor's office. The conversation went a little something like this:

Sally: Um, yes, I am coming in for a little procedure, and I just looked at my medicine and it says, "Insert in your Vagina" and I can't seem to find an applicator or something to use to put it in. What am I supposed to use to insert this in my vagina?

Receptionist: (pause then cautiously replies) Your finger?

Sally: What? I mean, where is the device? I don't want to use my finger! And how do I know how far?

Receptionist: I can have the nurse call you back.

Sally: NO, I need you to tell me now. I was supposed to do this four hours in advance and it is just now 4 hours in advance. I don't have time to wait!

Receptionist: M'am, I cannot help you. I am not the nurse or doctor.

Phone clicks.

Sally arrives at her appointment, still giggling over her conversation with some poor receptionist who has probably laughed and told the entire office this story. When the nurse walks in, Sally laughs and says, "I'm sure you heard about my phone call". The nurse laughed and replied, "Which one are you? The one who didn't know how to put in the pills or the one who took them ORALLY?!"

Sally let out a great big laugh and I am still laughing at some poor woman who put those pills in her mouth!!!! Sorry for the anatomical terms, but a girl has to laugh!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Spinning my wheels....

Do you ever feel like a hamster just spinning your wheels? If you watched the above video, you saw the little guy bounce off and get right back on the wheel. That's how I feel today. I have planned and purchased and packaged everything in sight. I have delivered some of our local gifts, sent gifts home in October, and have addressed a big chunk of our Christmas cards. Yet, I feel so behind. The "to be ironed pile" has once again become insurmountable. We just vacuumed yesterday and it's time to do it again. Two beds have clean sheets but another one needs to be changed tomorrow. I haven't even had a chance to work on the piles of bills and papers this week. The time has disappeared while I spin my wheels. How do you women do it? How do you love your husband and children, feed them well, work out & stay stick thin and gorgeous, keep your house perfect, and look like you stepped out of a fashion magazine while Mama Henley just keeps spinning her wheel???

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I have a confession to make. Today I started seeing someone and his name is Billy. We're having a little One to One. In fact, we're planning to meet again next week and maybe even the week after that. Never mind that I had to pay $99 to have a little One to One. You might think I took that whole BACK BURNER thing my mama taught me a little bit too seriously. But you'd be wrong. You see, I told my husband. We're in a real open relationship like that. He doesn't mind if I call Billy my Mac Man. Cause you wouldn't believe what Billy is teaching me!! You better watch out, world, because my Mac Man is going to teach me how to use this Mac like never before!!

**For those of you who are confused by this post, One to One is a fabulous service that the Apple Store provides. You buy a membership for $99 for one year, and it allows you to come in as often as possible for one hour help sessions with your desktop or laptop. You can learn anything from how the operating system works, to how to store photos, make movies, or create music. Today I just worked on deleting things from my very full hard drive! Once you go Mac, you'll never go back!

Trying to surprise hubby

So I'm trying my best to surprise my man with a well-lit tree. In over 14 years of marriage, I have never had the honor of putting the lights on the tree. THANK GOODNESS!!! Wouldn't you know I think I'm about to end this whole thing with the wrong end!!!! HELP!!!!

Tuesday's Tip

My hubby is so smart!! He suggested I send a $5 gift card to the person who sent the first Christmas card we received. My friend, Meg, was smart enough to send Thanksgiving cards, and hers was waiting for us when we arrived home from Georgia. She will be receiving a surprise Target gift card in the mail! Maybe she can buy herself one of those $5 movies or some ibuprofen or a case of Diet Coke! Wouldn't it be fun if everyone did this?!

Monday, November 30, 2009

A day in the life

Arriving home after 3 EXTRA hours in the car is never an easy thing, especially when you walk in the door 2 hours past dinner time with 5 hungry little peeps and an equally starving Mama and Daddy who are trying their darndest not to eat their young! Before we knew it, we had catapulted into emptying the car of all of its equivalents, minus the crumbs left from hours of not stopping to eat. As the last piece of luggage entered our crowded front hallway, we sent youngsters spiraling up the stairs to wash off all of the road gunk that certainly settles on your skin when you use bathrooms at the Cracker Barrel, Zaxbys, and even a rest stop or two. Shoes stayed at the door to be properly de-germed, and clothes were stripped and put in hot water. The little monkeys galavanted in the tub while I hastily began a load of laundry and sat online trying to order a Dominos pizza to quiet our yowling stomachs. The five littles were fed, as they laughed with glee at being home again. Instead of being exhausted, their voices ramped up to levels only a dog should be able to hear, and DH & I tried to keep from saying, "Be QUIET!" too many times since they had been held like caged animals for an entire day. Our day begins in the dark hour of 6am, but our children were not ready to settle down and go to sleep. Coughs, "I need water!", "I need milky! and Lambie! And Night Night", all filled the air as DH & I tried to get them to go to sleep so we could have a few hours of sanity. I ran around unpacking what I could, and finally took a shower to rid the last person of any remnant of nasty road germs. I hardly remember falling into bed and before I knew it, it was oh-dark-twenty and I had to wake up and start a new day.

Clothes were laid on each child's bed, lunches were made, and backpacks were at the front door. It should have been an easy morning, but it wasn't. One child squealed like a high-pitched pig because they didn't like the way their pants were fitting. Said child did his/her best to wake baby #5. I did my best to hold it together, and I was not 100% successful! No one ate their probiotic yogurt at breakfast, so who knows what germs they'll pick up today with unprotected guts! The fab four left, and I felt sure I could unpack some more, do a little laundry, and maybe even make it to the store, but Hurricane had other plans. Every 2 minutes I had to take her to the bathroom or change her clothes, or put on another part of her Halloween costume. There was no time to look for the I Pod that is missing that my OCD mind will not quit obsessing about over and over again. The next load of laundry was not started and I just loaded the dishwasher. "Forget it", I thought to myself. "I'll just go to Target and pick up those bikes". That should be easy enough. I stuffed the ballerina fairy-clad Hurricane into the car, and raced to pick up the 2 bikes that need to be hidden for Christmas. The bikes were signed, sealed, and delivered, and were supposed to be happily waiting for us at Customer Service. But that would just be WAY too easy. I gave Jesus my claim ticket, and he went in search of the bikes, after repeatedly asking me if I had brought the bikes to the store after having them at home. "No, I BOUGHT the bikes here last week. DH said one of the brakes was hitting the wheel, so your bike guy was checking both bikes for us. I just need to pick them up & take them home now". I don't think he ever fully understood. He said to give him 5 minutes, and I had to give him 5 times 8 minutes (40), and I almost lost it. I called DH in tears after I had bought soap and batteries and entertained Hurricane as best I could with her exposed top. Finally FINALLY the bikes were found. Then they had scratches, so we had to wait for MORE bikes. At long last, 2 shiny new bikes were loaded into my car and Hurricane and I sped off into the sunshine.

The bikes are happily hidden at a neighbor's house and now I was able to sit and write a minute before tearing apart the rest of my bedroom in search of that silly I Pod!! OCD wins once again:). Happy Monday, y'all!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ellis Bros. Pecans

Mama Henley's family had a fabulous Thanksgiving in Georgia! The weather was nice and cool which was a welcome change to our Floridian family! We were spoiled by Mimi and just enjoyed being in the state where DH and I met and fell in love. One thing a good Georgia boy loves is pecans. After visiting our friends Nita and Drew, we learned that Ellis Bros. Pecans has the best pecans and goodies like Divinity in the whole state of Georgia! And, we were going to drive past it on our way home to Florida. As you can imagine, we had to stop. I happily loaded up on goodies for all of our friends here in Florida and even had a package sent to a friend in another state! My only regret is not buying more than I did!! We can't wait to eat our spiced pecans and to share the goodies we bought our friends. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but I thought it was the perfect gift! If you ever find yourself in South Georgia, stop in Vienna at Ellis Bros. Pecans. You can walk through a pecan orchard, see cotton growing in the field, and taste some of the best pecans you'll ever taste!! You'll be glad you stopped!

Visit to buy pecans and other goodies online!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


We are so thankful for Doug's mother, whom the children call Mimi. She is a wonderful gift to our lives. After losing her husband of 50 years, she has done amazingly well. The last 2 years have not been easy ones, but Mimi has handled adversity and grief with grace and great faith. She is a woman to be admired. Dh has always said his mama has a true servant's heart, and he is RIGHT! Mimi unselfishly gives of herself to others. She is very thoughtful. We exchanged Christmas gifts with her the other day, and I was amazed at how well she knew each of our 5 children. We have no exchanges to make with gifts because she knew exactly what each of us enjoys!!! Just wait until I start printing on my new wireless printer & cooking up chocolate from my new cookbook! :) The children are thrilled with their new clothes, Leapster cases, and leapster games. Mimi even kept all 5 children for the night so that we could enjoy a quick night away to see old friends! Mimi, we thank God for you every day. We are thankful for the way you teach all of us through your strong faith. We are proud to call you Mom!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thank you, Lord

This Thanksgiving, DH & I rejoice over so many things. We are so blessed!! We are thankful for the health of our families. Although we would rather have DH's father here with us, we are grateful that he is celebrating in the arms of our Heavenly Father. It is a gift to celebrate the memories we made with him here on earth. We are thankful for children who are healthy and survived premature births and hospitalization. What a blessing to hear them playing happily this morning, using the minds the Lord gave them to play hospital and office. It is a perfectly beautiful day today, and we are so happy to enjoy the slight chill in the air and beautiful sunshine. DH & I are thankful that we can worship the Lord freely without persecution. Our tummies will soon be full with a bountiful supply of delicious homemade food!! We have a wonderful home, a loving extended family, and many sweet friends. Today, we will acknowledge our many blessings, eat until we're too full, and then enjoy a brisk walk outside! May you realize your many blessings today too!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

As Christmas cards start to pour in, create a cute bowl or bucket to place them in as they arrive. My mother has a metal wreath that she fills with cards. Each night, choose a card (or let your child choose) and tell your family how you know this other family. Then, pray for your friends. It's a great way to quite literally bless others!

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Mama Always Said

My Mama always said that you'll never meet a Dollar Store you don't like. She LOVES them!! She finds all kinds of "treasures" at Dollar Trees across the country. I love it! I often call home and ask where Mama is, and chances are, she is off finding bargains at the Dollar Store!! Hilarious.

Now I do have to tell you that Pink, Green, and Southern finds INCREDIBLE craft items at the Dollar Store. Wait until you see her Advent Calendar! Do you or your Mama like the Dollar Store?

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Don't you just love it when you're trying to take a really good picture and people around you are totally in la-la land? I mean, really, peeps, I didn't come to the beach to take a picture of you and your beer gut. I'm here to take pictures of my 5 little darlings. People like the ones below just kept getting in the way. Thankfully I finally did get a great picture!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Whooooo would have thought....

Whoooo would have thought we'd have a Great Horned Owl in our backyard!! This mama owl and her baby were in our oak tree at dusk the other day. They stayed there for a very long time!! We all enjoyed looking at the owls and even seeing the baby take flight. Mama Owl stayed for a while and thankfully did not attack us with her talons!! We do love the nature here in Florida. It is incredible! I guess Mama Owl knew to come to a Chi O's house! Whoooo Whoooo

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Put a fork in me...

I am done!! I am having a week where I have raced around from one thing to the next and I gave up weeks like this!!! I have really tried to just concentrate on our little (well, compared to the DUGGARS) family & not much else because lemmetellyousomething, that in itself is a LOT. It has been a fun but FULL-of-activity week. I am not even going to say the word BUSY (burdened under Satan's yoke) because I hate that word!! When you tell someone you are so busy, as in, "I've just been so busy so I couldn't call you", you are communicating that you really don't care a whole lot about them because you didn't take time to call. I am digressing with the best of them and that is because I am zonkered! Do you all feel this way this week? I am so excited about our program and feast at school tomorrow, though I CRANKED out some casseroles today!! This is a little stream of consciousness post, isn't it? Well, dahlin' readers, I am off to bed. Will someone take the fork out?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Crack Myself UP!!!!

When you move to a new town, it takes a while to figure out "your places" such as your drycleaner, who will cut your hair, who will vaccinate your children, and where to buy some new frocks. Word of mouth tends to be the best way to find things, but it also helps to drive around. I don't remember much about last winter, but I think little H & K & I did a lot of exploring! On my expeditions, I have often passed by a little shop with the most beautiful flowers sitting in containers near the road. I have wanted an excuse to spoil myself with these flowers because they are so varied and unique and just gorgeous!!! I have always wondered how much they cost because the sign does not say when you drive by in your car. Well, my sweet friend, W, had a birthday yesterday. We were meeting for lunch today and I planned my morning so that I would have just enough time to scoot by this flower shop to buy one of the gorgeous, ready made bouquets. I knew how much I could spend and everything. I had really thought about this and planned to buy these flowers!! H & I zipped to the front of the little shop and I stuck my head in the door to ask how much her gorgeous fresh bouquets were. "Those?", she said as she pointed. "Oh, yes!", I excitedly replied. I couldn't WAIT to give beautiful W beautiful flowers. She laughed and said, "They're SILK! I use them to let people know we make arrangements." Not having time for an arrangement, I replied, "Oh", and laughed at myself for admiring FAKE flowers for 10 months!!!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Only Me

Last fall I told the funny story of how a girl who sent her children to the same preschool thought I had it all together, when really I don't. I seem to have a problem with pants and undergarments!!! I went to pick up a pair of pants from the tailor today. While I was there, one of the most fit and thin women I had ever seen was trying on her clothes and of course having her SHIRTS altered b/c they were a little too big on the sides because she was so doggone tiny. I couldn't decide if maybe she works as a dancer at night, if you get my drift, so I kept staring at her. Her face looked old, but she had a rockin' body, and she proceeded to show me how firm her tooshy was too (it was also quite tan!). Needless to say, I was a bit distracted and I quickly tried on my pants and gathered my things to leave. I glanced in the mirror and thought my pants sure didn't look as cute as I thought they did in the store on Friday, but oh well, they're mine now and I better get back on that Wii Fit! As I settled back into my car, something kept stabbing me in the tummy. I looked to see if something was attacking me and realized I had my pants on backwards. Again. I have done this before!!! When I arrived at Publix, I just turned those babies around in my car. I happened to tell one of my best friends about it, and she says I am going to make a name for myself in our new town as the crazy pant lady. I guess we all have to find our way to fit in, don't we?! Hilarious!

Tuesday's Tip

My friend, B, always makes her guests feel so welcome!! When she has guests at her home, she places their towels on their bed with a beautiful ribbon wrapped around them!! It is such an easy and lovely way to make someone feel treasured and excited to be in your home. You can buy some beautiful wired ribbon at places like Sam's Club and Costco this time of year. Enjoy!

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Mama Always Said

My Mama always said it's better to use your sterling silver from your Great Grandmother Scarlett O'Hara Butler rather than to let it sit in a drawer. Mama and Papa insisted that Darling Hubby and I not register for silver plate place settings. In fact, we were forbidden to do so and told that if we did, I would not inherit my grandmother's fine sterling. Instead, they said we should use the good stuff every day and just hand wash as needed. Our sterling has been loved and used daily for the past 14 years. Mama and Papa wouldn't have it any other way, and now, neither would I!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

How to show your teachers you're thankful

Teachers need to be appreciated year-round. I understand that many of us feel like all we do is help our schools. It does take a lot of time to volunteer. However, since we are the ones that hold the responsibility of educating our children, doesn't it make sense that we would spend a lot of time helping those who help us? Anyway, as Thanksgiving approaches, it's a good idea to show your children's teachers a little love.
Here are some ideas:

-Make a casserole, side dish, dessert, or homemade bread to compliment their Thanksgiving meal

-Give them a gift card to a favorite restaurant or coffee shop so they can buy themselves a little treat

-If the school allows, offer to watch the class at recess or lunch so that the teacher can have an extra break

-Tell the teacher you are so thankful for her and ask if you can help cut things, label things, etc. at night. You'll be surprised that they may accept your offer!

-Have your child (or the entire class) write a note or draw a picture about why they are thankful for their teacher

-Bring them a favorite beverage, which you know because you have their FAVORITES list from the first of school!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Blogger Happy Mommy

Once upon a time there was a blogger named Happy Mommy. She blogged at Mommy Talk and More. She was so smart and she told her readers all about the best things to buy. She even led one friend, Mama Henley, to become a blogger too. It is all because of Happy Mommy that Mama Henley spends so much time blogging today!!
I have begged Happy Mommy to bring back her blog. I always glean so much from her in how she lives her life and just from her great ideas. Happy Mommy loves her children and is a great mother, especially because she is a former teacher. She really researches toys and books to find the BEST for her children. Since Happy Mommy hasn't had time yet to bring back her blog, I am going to her first post for her!! Happy Mommy introduced me to Magna Tiles. They are a MUST HAVE on your Christmas list, no matter how old your children are. Well, they will probably enjoy them more if they are 12 or younger. These tiles are so fun because you can build all kinds of 3-D figures. Children LOVE them!! My friend, ML, has them for her children too. She & Happy Mommy say you can't buy too many because children can build SUCH neat things. ML's son sat entertained for a LONG time when we all went out to eat in Dallas. He made a house and then drove his car through it like a garage door. Mama Henley's children want Magna Tiles for Christmas! Amazon tends to have good prices on them. Go visit Happy Mommy at Mommy Talk and More and beg her to come back!

Partner with them

When I want to have a really good belly laugh, or if I need some real inspiration in my wavering faith, I head on over to Hood Mama Mel's blog. Melissa is one of the best writers at here in the blogosphere. I have never laughed or cried quite like I do when I read her blog. Melissa and her husband, Trey, who doesn't love Milk Duds and Diet Coke as much as she does, live in the inner city of Dallas, Texas where they have a ministry called Mercy Street Ministry. They genuinely love their neighbors and live in their neighborhood so that they can love them better. In all of the time I have read Melissa's blog, she has never asked for money for Mercy Street. Unfortunately, giving is down 35% and a bad economy often produces more needy people. Less money + more needs is not a good thing. As you start or finish your Christmas shopping this year, please consider a gift to Mercy Street. Every little bit helps. If 50 people give just $5, then Mercy Street would have $250 to really help their program. I understand that it's easy to be wary of people and ministries we don't know, but I can tell you that Mama Henley truly believes in the vision of this ministry. I also pray that it's vision will continue to spread to other cities! We have family members that don't need anything, so we are going to give in their honor this Christmas. Won't you do the same?

To read Melissa's blog go here. If you'd like to donate, please go HERE. For those of you who would like to learn more about Mercy Street, please go here.

In lieu of a giveaway, I am going to make a gift to Mercy Street in YOUR HONOR!!! That's right. Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers, you are helping love on some children who need love more than we know!!! Perhaps other bloggers will donate in honor of their readers too! I am thankful for you, and I know Mercy Street is thankful for every dollar they will receive!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Book Review

I am reading a wonderful book entitled, "Mrs. Astor Regrets." This book explores the final years of Brooke Astor, New York's leading philanthropist. Her son was charged with elder abuse towards his mother when he was in his eighties and she was over 100. Mrs. Astor lived to be 104. This book gives you an inside look at New York's high society: the Rockefellers, Kissingers, De La Rentas and Astors. I think you'll enjoy it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mama Henley's Mishaps

This is the dress that Mama Henley wore to run the errands to feed the children that live in the house her husband built. (Well, he paid for it. I'm trying to go along w/ the "This is the House that Jack Built" storyline. Stay with me.)

Do you see all of the PAPER LINT on this dress?

This is what's left of the catalog that somehow went through the wash and ruined the dress that Mama Henley wore to run the errands to feed the children that live in the house her husband built.

Moral of the story: Watch what you're doing and don't be in such a hurry with the 10,000 loads of laundry you do each day. Yes, I know, 10,000 is a lot and mishaps happen, but Mama Henley was in such a hurry she gave that LL Bean catalog a beating like it had never seen. So much for my Christmas shopping! I guess no one will be getting LL Bean totes this Christmas and now Mama Henley needs to go shopping! I'm just hoping the paper will come out of the children's school uniforms. UGH!!!

Wednesday Words from the backseat....

"And I'm not dying".... Well, thank goodness! I love those little conversations when they don't think you're listening. I heard our little Hurricane muttering those words in the other room right after she coughed. Too cute!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

I love to have a clean car. In an ideal world, every area I live in would be pile-free. Unfortunately, I do end up with piles of bills, papers to file, and other things. Therefore, I like for my car to be as clean as possible with 5 little monkeys. My tip is that every time you get out of your car, look around and take out any trash or wrappers or cups or bottles. Throw the trash away each time you run an errand, get gas, or run into your child's school. If you do this, the trash will not build up and become a monumental task. I ask the children to do the same thing, though a certain little boy often leaves a little trash in his cup holder!

My friend, A, has always kept her car vacuumed and cleaned. Sometimes the two of us would meet at Suds on Peace St. and chat while our cars were cleaned. It is great feeling to have a completely clean car!!

When we had triplet 2 year olds, it was difficult not to pass out Cheerios and goldfish while running errands. Now that our children are 2, 6, and 8, I try to limit their eating and drinking in the car as much as possible. This definitely cuts down on crumbs. However, with 5 young children, it's impossible to never let them eat in the car because we do most things as a family. If one child has an activity, all 5 children have to go. It's inevitable that you will have crumbs with young children. However, if you can limit the times they eat in the car, encourage everyone to take any trash out of the car each time you exit the car, and have your car professionally cleaned occasionally, it will help you have a neat and orderly car!! Now it's time for me to go use the vacuum again at the gas station!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dear Readers

We bloggers love to know that people are actually reading what we write. Do y'all mind becoming a follower? It's very easy to do. Scroll to the bottom of the page where you see "Followers". Click on Follow and follow the easy instructions to become a follower!! You just have no idea how encouraging it is to know who is reading your blog!! It is also great to get comments so comment away! Thanks, y'all!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

BEST new blog!

I am here to tell you that I have great news!! There is a FABULOUS blog written by the Deputy Style Editor of Country Living Magazine, Frances Bailey. Frances shares the sights and sounds of New York City with decorating tips, festive ways to entertain, and her fantastic sense of humor. You are going to just LOVE this blog!! Hurry on over and be one of the first followers at 400 Square Feet. I can't wait to hear what you think!!

Pink Christmas Tree

I am debating doing something totally different this year... a PINK Christmas tree!! I would love a lavender one, but not only can I not find the perfect shade of lavender, but pink matches our decor better. A pink pre-lit tree would be super easy and carefree! I also LOVE the traditional Frasier fur, but I have heard you can't find them here. I don't know if that's true or not, but if it is, I think I'd rather have a fake! What are your thoughts? I want to order one soon if I'm going to do it!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Recent Shootings

I have so many different thoughts on the 2 shootings that occurred in the last few days. It shakes your trust in fellow Americans when tragedies like this occur. We all have days where we want to go postal, but we control ourselves and try to work through it. To think that a fellow soldier at Fort Hood would shoot and kill so many of his comrades is more than difficult to understand. Buddy, if you don't want to go overseas, don't go. Quit. But please don't harm the wonderful people who are willing to risk their lives to protect our country. We do not need threats on our own soil, from our own men, on our own bases. It makes you wonder if this man's awful actions were part of a bigger plan of terror. The FBI was already aware of a Nidal Hassan who had possible links to terrorists. Was Hassan fulfilling part of a larger plan? If not, why didn't he find some other way to work through his anger? We always had a punching bag hanging in our garage where my 2 brothers could have at it if they had some anger to express. His JOB was to help people work through their thoughts and emotions.

Then, one day later, a disgruntled former employee, Jason Rodriguez, decided to shoot employees of the business where he worked TWO years ago. I remember a Bunko friend commenting after a woman was found chopped up in her husband's trunk. I can still hear G saying, "I told my husband, 'Honey, if you want a divorce, just go on down to the courthouse and file those papers. But please don't chop me up and stuff me in the trunk.'" Isn't that the truth? If you're mad about losing your job, don't hurt innocent people. It's bad enough when people want to hurt themselves, but please don't hurt someone else.

Have you thought about these two terrible tragedies? What are your thoughts?

Friday, November 6, 2009


Mama Henley's body has been through quite a lot in the past 10 years. It spent 4 years struggling with infertility and countless tests, probes, pricks, and medicines. Then, the old girl went through laparoscopic surgery, IVF (in vitro fertilization), ovarian overstimulation, and the conception of 3 beautiful babies. This body then carried those little ones for 30 weeks while my hormones raged and moaned and my uterus went where no uterus should go. Granted, Kate Gosselin's uterus stretched even further, but I'm just saying that my uterus was stretched to hither and beyond and it hasn't been the same since!! Within a year and a half, the old uterus was back to nurturing a baby as our 4th little angel was born 2 years after the triplets. A few years later, I had our 5th blessing. Needless to say, my body is not perfect like so many of yours. The days of wearing a small size are behind me. A struggle with weight and exercise has resulted.

As a young girl, I had three bad experiences that made me struggle with enjoying exercise. I was on a soccer team in the 4th grade with a bunch of 6th grade girls who were better than a bunch of 6th grade boys (and handsome like a boy too but that's another story!) I was a beginner and they were just hateful to me. I probably had some soccer skill, but I felt like a failure. I dropped the sport.

My appendix ruptured when I was 7, leaving a terrible scar and an ache whenever I run fast. As a middle schooler, one of my best camp friends was an EXCELLENT advanced tennis player. She would walk past me in my advanced beginner class and laugh at me for being in such a low class compared to her. I should have known then that she was not a true friend, but I didn't learn that until years later. I felt like a failure once again. The sad thing is that I had potential with tennis. When I have played as an adult, I have good aim. The ball goes where I want it to go the majority of the time. But I lost all confidence in myself.

Fast forward through years of trying aerobics, step aerobics, yoga, pilates, zia, etc. and so forth. When I go to group exercise classes, I freeze. I decided to buy a Wii fit with my birthday money. I was so excited on the day I took that baby out of the box. I chose a cute computerized imagine to be me. I went through setting everything up and then it was time for some tests. "No problem", I thought to myself. "I can do some balance tests!"

The first exercise for balance was trickier than I thought it would be. It took me a few minutes to even understand how I was supposed to keep in the blue lines. The Wii responded, "You're not very balanced, are you? Do you trip a lot?" FAILED FAILED FAILED. "What?", I thought. "No computer gets to tell Mama Henley she failed!!! You better watch out, you Wii Fit, you. I"ll STOMP on you & you know that won't feel good!!!"

The Wii Fit had me at hello. That little booger was not going to tell me I failed!!! I tried more balance exercises and thought, "I'm going to show YOU, you little Wii Fit, you." Again the words, "FAILED" flashed across the screen. FAILED FAILED FAILED. They might as well have been in flashing lights attached to the front of our house. I looked around to make sure I was indeed alone. "What? What do you mean I FAILED? I can keep my body at a funny angle so that you believe I am BALANCED. I am NOT UNbalanced. There is just no way I can't do this!" I switched to the mental exercises. I remember names and numbers and how to get to places I've only been once. No memory exercise can trump THIS girl, let me tell you. Well, at least until I tried the Wii Fit memory exercises. Something happened. The Wii Fit flashed those dreaded words again: FAILED. Now we were going to fight. Mama Henley's mind is a steel trap with a memory like an elephant. Do you want to know my 3rd grade best friends' phone number? 782-1340 or 787-1641. It's all there. Do you want to know my favorite college phone number? Right side left side zero. Look at your phone and dial 369-1470. I probably know 80% of the addresses on our Christmas list, and with almost 300 names, that's quite a mental feat. Oh no, not according to the Wii Fit. I FAILED FAILED FAILED. So began my quest to beat this machine. I've only been on the Wii Fit for a few days, but the day will come when you will hear the words shouted from the mountain tops. "PASSED PASSED PASSED. You are a balanced instructor level professional and you ROCK!!" Okay, Wii Fit, the challenge is ON!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Creative Dinner

Our friend, D, is an avid hunter. He has been to Africa and other exciting places to hunt. On the walls of their house, unique animals like the kudu are displayed. It is fascinating! He just had a little birthday and his wife, W, invited us over for a very last minute dinner with our 2 families. She made the best fried chicken I have ever had (sorry, Mama, I haven't had yours in years). It was fantastic! She also made yummy mashed potatoes and fried okra, a meal sure to win every man's heart. (I fear DH is ready for a trade-in on this model-me). She had set the loveliest table in honor of her love. I thought you'd love to see the antlers and china and just how perfect everything looked!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wednesday Words from the backseat....

As a mother of 5, you constantly hear funny little conversations from the back of the car. I hope to start sharing conversations such as these on Wednesdays.

One of our latest went like this:

"It's not called a BA-Gina!"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

I love creative friends! A new friend, V, told me about the cutest gift her twin girls received from my friend, W. For their 10th birthday, W gave each girl a cute new apron and some cooking supplies and recipe cards. They LOVED it. It was the perfect gift because someone else gave the girls cooking lessons. They took their cute personalized recipe cards with them along with their spatula and wooden spoon to their first cooking lesson. I thought this was the cutest idea for a birthday present!

Monday, November 2, 2009

My Mama Always Said

My mama is a colorful character, as you can see in the above photograph. She always makes me laugh and will keep you on your toes. Mama is a great cook, a wonderful organizer, and a true Southern belle. She stands by the mantra: "Honey, your bosom can be fake, and your hair color can be fake, but your pearls and your silver must always be real!" In fact, I just got off the phone with her and teased her about putting on lipstick before someone comes to help her get ready for a party. Her response was, "Honey, I have on my PEARLS!" She could have written "A Southern Belle Primer: Why Princess Margaret Will Never be a Kappa Kappa Gamma."

My mama is so much fun, so I thought you'd enjoy hearing all of the things My Mama Always Said. My favorite is, "Honey, dahlin' precious, always keep someone on the back burner."

Mama thinks that no matter how serious you are in a DATING relationship, you need someone on the back burner. Bri Bri, I’m so sorry. Maybe you should have come home for that prom because I had a mighty fine time with my date with the beautiful ringlets who had just gotten out of jail! (Thank goodness Mama didn’t know about the jail part and long-haired-rebel boy found the love of his life one day too.) I tell you what, keeping someone on simmer was never a bad idea in college!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

My first Halloween as a Mama

I can't believe that my first Halloween as a Mama was 8 years ago today!!! Time really flies when you're having lots of fun and wiping more bottoms than you can count. On their first Halloween, the triplets wore cute borrowed costumes from another family of triplets. Our D was a "Dellaphant" and had the PERFECT big cheeks! We wanted to kiss those cheeks all night long! Our boy was a dinosaur. I am reminded this morning just how loud his ROAR can be! Our Tiny girl was a ladybug, which is so fitting for her fun personality. We went to a Halloween party at their friend, C's, house. The triplets were so exhausted when they came home that they literally fell asleep sitting up in their high chairs!

On their second Halloween, I wanted to be creative and choose costumes for our triplets. Not everyone has triplets! We decided they would be the three blind mice. I searched ebay until I had three mouse costumes!! Let me just say that they were about the cutest thing I've ever seen!!!

On their third Halloween, our sweet two year olds were the three little pigs and their new baby sister was the ladybug! Those 3 little pigs were so cute and carried their sticks, straw, and bricks all night long!

It makes me sad that these years have flown by so quickly, but we are thankful for many happy Halloweens and are excited about another fun one TONIGHT!!! Happy Halloween, everyone!!! We have lots to prepare for our Velveteen Rabbit characters: the sick little boy, the nanny, the Velveteen rabbit, the fairy, and the doctor!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Party Favor Ideas

I tell you what, we women have really raised the bar on ourselves. Each passing year we expect more and more of ourselves. A backyard birthday party with sack races isn't good enough any more. People literally hire PARTY PLANNERS for children's birthday parties. When I was little, which was longer ago than I'd like to admit, we went to a party at SKATE RANCH or SKATE TOWN or to someone's home. If the party was at someone's home, it might be a BACKWARDS birthday party or we'd play fun games or we'd dress up and put on make up. My mother would sometimes hire a neighborhood teenager to help. I could invite all of my classmates and friends and we had a great time. Friends brought small gifts to honor the birthday boy or girl. We weren't given the equivalent of a $15-25 gift that is today's standard. Mamas made the cake or if they couldn't cook, they might ask a friend or neighbor. There were no party planners. No tents. No rented tablecloths, tables and chairs. And...... drumroll, please..... THERE WERE NO PARTY FAVORS!!!!! That's right. No party favors.

Today we have raised the bar and you just can't have a birthday party without party favors. Oriental Trading is excited because their plastic junk is selling like crazy!! Parents are desperate for a party favor, so they turn to the catalog and buy a slew of cheap, plastic toys that will break tomorrow and then fill small goodie bags with them. "Thank you for coming to my party" is no longer acceptable. We must lavish gifts on our guests. I am one of the guiltiest of all. I admit it. My name is Mama Henley and I give party favors. However, I try to think of something that is useful and won't break before our guests even make it home. I thought I'd share some ideas with you. What do you like to give for party favors?

-CDs recorded with fun children's music. My friend, B, gave me this idea originally and we used to make CDs together after that. The CDs became family favorites of many of our friends. The idea spread and now others like to make them too. When we had K's ice cream party, I bought some fun new ice cream songs from I Tunes. I try to make the music fit the theme of the party and I always put some fun children's praise songs in there too.

-$2 gift certificate to Baskin Robbins. They have great ice cream!

-free ice cream or french fries from McDonald's. They usually sell packs in the winter and I save them for birthday parties or a cute gift to friends at school

-homemade playdough

-a book from the Scholastic book orders. You help your child's class and can get some bargain books. Each month they have one that is just $1

-in lieu of party favors, make a donation to a charity that helps children and give each child a note detailing how a gift was made to help other children in their honor. My friend, MD, gave to Desire Street Ministry after Hurricane Katrina for her daughter's birthday. Each guest brought home a "helping hand" with a note thanking them for coming to the party and letting them know a gift was given to help children in the 9th ward in their honor.

-a little bag of fun pencils, erasers, or pens is always fun. What child doesn't LOVE school supplies?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

If you're expecting a baby over the holidays....

Our precious angel #5 was due on Christmas Day. While TTC (trying to conceive) in the very very beginning, I had thoughts like, "We certainly don't want a baby due in Nov. or Dec.!" Well, those days of TTC turned into months and those months turned into years. My longing for a baby was so strong that I did not care when my due date was, as long as I could get pregnant and have a baby!! Our triplets were born on Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter. What a gift of life! Baby #4 arrived in the heat of summer on July 28th. I'm not sure a summer due date is desired in the South! We laughed and were thrilled to learn that baby #5 was due on Christmas Day. My attitude had changed from not wanting a Nov. or Dec. baby to seeing how truly special it is to have a newborn around the time of Jesus' birth. It certainly puts everything in perspective and makes you truly realize what Christmas is all about: Our Savior's birth.

Along with all of that joy is a little bit of panic. "How will we have Christmas? What if I am not at home with our other children on Christmas morning? How will I prepare? Oh. My. Goodness. We are having a Christmas baby! What do we do!???!!!"

As an organizer by nature, there are some things that helped make Christmas 2006 our most relaxed and enjoyable ever. It was a very sweet Christmas, and one where I was not stressed or hurried or caught up in the wrong things. If you're expecting a baby in November, December, or January, here are some ideas that might help you!

-Shop NOW if you haven't started already. Go ahead and buy everyone's Christmas gifts and then WRAP them. Yes, you need to go ahead and wrap them.

-If having a baby is changing your family's 2 income status, buy less expensive gifts and fewer ones if possible. This is not the Christmas to impress everyone with your buying power. I may be wrong, but I think our family members really like the wonderful calendars I make on our Mac. They are filled with pictures taken throughout the year plus all of the special dates for birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions to be remembered.

-If this is not your first baby, buy something small for the baby to "give" your older children when they come to the hospital to meet the new baby. Again, expense is not necessary. Baby #5 gave each of her older siblings a new can of playdough. They were thrilled and I spent all of $2.

-Charge your cameras now. Buy new batteries. If your camera is old, ask for an early Christmas present.

-Have Christmas cards printed now, as I mentioned in a previous post. Baby needs his or her own birth announcement. Waiting to send Christmas cards puts more pressure on you. If you are making a combo announcement/Christmas card, then you will be anxious about getting them out quickly. If you have already sent Christmas cards, your birth announcement can follow whenever you are ready to do it with no pressure on timing.

-Make gifts for neighbors, teachers, and friends in early November and go ahead and deliver them. Tell them you are thankful for them, and thus, their gift is arriving in November.

-Give to a favorite charity in lieu of gifts. We gave to the American Cancer Society in honor of all of our friends the year my father in law had cancer and died 1 week before Christmas. I sent postcards to all of our friends acknowledging what we had done in their honor.

-Buy your children's gifts now and don't worry about last minute changes on what they really want. They will love whatever you give them!

-If anyone needs new clothes for Christmas parties, etc., buy them now. Make sure everyone has shoes that fit.

-Buy your Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving and go ahead and decorate it.

-Decorate with minimal decorations so that you are not having to take down a lot of stuff with a newborn and a tired body!!

-With our move last year, we just used our Christmas cards as our ornaments!

-Buy some white cardstock and a pad of ink for baby's first hand and foot prints in the hospital.

-Make a list of who to call/email when baby is born.

-If you have older children at home, sit down and write out your weekly schedule. Make a "this happens every week copy". Then, go ahead and write out your schedule for the 2-3 weeks leading up to your due date. I did this and not only did it help those who had to take over when I went to the hospital, but it kept me on track leading up to baby's birthday! Include things on the schedule such as "make lunches before you go to bed and put them in the refrigerator overnight" or "Make sure children have their folder in their backpack before they go to bed" to help caretakers as much as possible.

-Keep up with your laundry.

-Sit back and relax and enjoy Christmas because you have prepared so well!! And... you have a NEWBORN blessing!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

Do you hate those awful red stains on your tupperware? Spaghetti and chili can leave red stains on plastic. Other foods leave stains too. It is best to use glass or BPA free plastic for storing your leftovers. If you use plastic, there is a trick to keeping it clean! My friend, B, sprays Pam in her containers before adding the food. It helps cut down on food stains! What is your Tuesday's Tip?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Tonight our son said he might like to work at Disney when he's a teenager. We told him that was a great idea and maybe he could spend a summer working at the park. I asked him what he'd like to do, and he said, "Maybe help people or run the rides or be a character or something like that."
One of his sisters said, "Yeah! And you can give us free tickets and stuff."
Big brother replied, "I'll have to learn the rules, K. I can't just give away stuff to my family!! You just can't give it all away."
I love his honesty and hope he never changes!

Cooking on the Cheap

I love to cook. It's easy for meals to become more expensive than eating out if you are buying premium ingredients, good meat, and fresh produce. As much as I enjoy cooking, I love a challenge and I love to challenge myself. This works in all areas except for exercise! When the triplets were new babies, and then when we had a fourth baby two years later, I found myself throwing away food that had rotted before I prepared it. I had grand intentions, but you know what they say about good intentions! I would plan meals for our family, buy the ingredients, and then not have the time or energy to prepare the food. When you are overwhelmed, something has to give. Now I am taking over that area of my life and cooking dinner almost every night. I have been doing this for at least 9 months and it feels good. I cooked more than many of my friends in the past, but now I am cooking a lot more. Lately I have been challenging myself to make our food stretch. It's okay to eat leftovers.

On Sunday night, I cooked spaghetti. The meat was on sale for $1.99 a pound, so I bought more than one package and freezed some. When I make spaghetti, I cook the ground beef and an onion. Then I add a store bought sauce like Ragu traditional or whatever I found on sale. I also add parsley flakes, basil, Italian seasoning, and any other spice that strikes my fancy. I let it simmer and then serve it over angel hair pasta. This is one of the meals almost all of the children enjoy. Sunday night I added 2 bottles of sauce. Sometimes I just use plain tomato sauce and spice it up with spices. Alas, the more sauce you add, the more your spaghetti sauce will stretch. We had a lot leftover, so I put it in a container in the refrigerator. I took our leftover noodles and placed them in a ziploc bag. The next night we had a fabulous dinner at a friend's house. So, last night I made baked spaghetti. It was the easiest dinner ever! I took the noodles and mixed them with one egg to coat the noodles. This way they don't stick together and make a nice bottom to your casserole. I covered the noodles with the sauce. The sauce was even better after sitting in the refrigerator for 2 days. I topped the sauce with shredded cheddar cheese. Then, I baked the casserole at 350*F for about 20-30 minutes until the cheese melted and it was warm. We had a delicious, economical dinner for a second night on less than $3 of meat, $2 of sauce (it had been buy 1, get one free), and $1 of noodles! I was so proud of our bargain dinner. How do you make meals stretch?

Friday, October 23, 2009

The picture says it all

I asked the children to decorate their own lunch bags since we needed disposable ones today. I peeked in the refrigerator to make sure every bag had what it needed. I found this:

A little self-confidence never hurt anyone, right? I love it!

We love being triplets!

Don't you think it must be so FUN to be a triplet? I sure do!! Our trio always has a friend, a playmate, or a target. They can experience life together. Our son now has his own room. Sometimes he will ask if he can have a sister sleep with him because he gets lonely. I understand. He LOVES those girls!! Tonight he came downstairs with a surprise bloody nose. I told him I didn't care, but did it get on his just-out-of-the-dryer clean sheets? His response was, "You know how I get lonely? Well, I was actually in the girls' room instead of my bed." I did not discourage him. I understood. There is just something special about being a TRIPLET!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Out of the Mouths of babes

"Mommy, I'm scared. The air is scary in der."

"What do you mean, H? Let me see." We walked into our friend's guest bath to see what air was scary. It was the fan. H was afraid of the fan.

"It's okay, Hurricane H, it's just the fan."

H replied, "I scared of da air. It's scary. Jesus is in my heart."

"Yes, sweetie, He is. You don't need to be scared."

I thought it was so sweet to hear her say those words as if she was able to comfort herself by reminding herself that Jesus is in her heart. What a sweet girl! Love you, Hurricane!