Saturday, February 28, 2009

Our little O'Keefe

Our sweet children have wonderful artistic talent. DH & I are not artistic, though we certainly appreciate pretty things. My father has artistic talent, and his father painted some, but DH & I have never excelled in crafts or art! In fact, when I tried to make turkey rice krispie treats one year, they looked like a big blog of regurgitated mess! YUCK.

The triplets have been studying Georgia O'Keefe so each student designed their own O'Keefe. Our D's work was chosen for the school newsletter! I can't wait to see the work of the other 2 when it comes home!

Lilly Eau De Parfum

Sweet DH brought home a wonderful treat for me after his trip for a friend's birthday! It was Lilly's new WINK perfume!

It smells wonderfully clean, a little bit sweet, and very beachy! The description from Bloomingdale's is below!

Lilly Pulitzer Wink Eau De Parfum
We see the world in pink and green! Enjoy any day with this delightfully pink, pretty and flirty celebration of feminine style and gusto. The fragrance unfolds with notes of sparkling pear nectar, watery pink freesia and lush gardens. At the heart is a bouquet of rose, lily blossom and sun-drenched violets. The party wraps up with warm amber and sensual musk. This wet floral captivates every Lilly Lover™ whether shopping, lounging, or entertaining. Wear pink and make the boys wink!

Friday, February 27, 2009

We love you, Jerry!!

My DH is so sweet. He knew that by late February, we would be in great need of a fun night out. So... he bought tickets for Jerry Seinfeld!!! He bought these tickets in November for our date night last night. What wonderful foresight!! We had a perfect night! The show was in St. Petersburg, Fl which is the most beautiful city on the water. A delicious dinner was shared while overlooking the bay. Then, we walked to the Mahaffey Theatre where we joined Jerry's fans for an evening of laughter. He was great!! It was fun to enjoy some good laughs together!

We walked back to our car and then went to the Vinoy and sat on the front veranda! We shared the most delicious dessert and re-hydrated ourselves with Pelegrino and tap water! What a wonderful end to a perfect evening! It was nice to be home before 11pm too!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Asparagus, please!

It's difficult to come up with an interesting menu for your family night after night. While it is fun to try new dishes, it can be a big job to cook all of the meals for your family! Publix has asparagus on sale this week. It is delicious! For a quick way to add some green to your meal, all you need is fresh asparagus and Makoto ginger dressing. You can find the dressing in the refrigerated section of dressings near Marie's salad dressing. You will love it! I first had this dish at a baby shower for my friend, V. My friend, R, who is also V's sister, made the most delicious asparagus. When she shared the 'recipe', I couldn't believe how easy it was!

Steam your asparagus until it is crisp tender. I have a calphalon steamer. I fill the bottom with water & bring it to a boil. Then, I put the fresh asparagus in the steamer pot on top (it has holes in the bottom). Put on your lid and let it steam until the asparagus is cooked, but not too tender. You may have to turn the heat down so that the water does not boil over. Don't forget to use your vent fan! Drain & cool the asparagus. You can put it in ice cold water or just run cold water over it in the sink. Let it drain. R served her asparagus cold on a platter with the dressing as an optional side. She had it in a beautiful glass bowl. It looked like a homemade sauce. For dinner tonight, I put the dressing on the asparagus and refrigerated the dish while I made our stir fry. Enjoy! I made an Asian dinner tonight, but you could also use this dish with chicken salad for a ladies' luncheon. It is quite versatile, delicious, and healthy!


I don't know if it's a Tampa thing or a Moe's thing, but they have a great new burrito called the Joey Junior. It is the perfect lunch for a mama! I think it's the size the children's burritos USED to be before they made them tiny. Anyway, at our Moe's you can earn a free Joey Jr. just for filling out an internet survey at home. I did it & plan to use it on our next trip there. K LOVES Moe's. We don't go often, but when we do, our bill will be a little bit cheaper!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Repentant vs. Non-repentant

I thought you'd enjoy a glimpse of how discipline is going at our house.

Over the weekend, the big 4 wanted to take little H out to play in the driveway. I saw a car backing out, so I ran outside and asked, "Where is H?" None of them knew. I punished them by making them come inside and sit on their beds. I was sitting at my computer when they walked in the room and D handed me the note she had written on behalf of all 4 of them. I will try to use her punctuation and spelling. It read:

Mommy i'm sorry we might don't be the best children in the world. I'm praying Lord i'm SORRY what we did. Pless help us.
your children

What a treasure. I will keep it forever!

On the other hand, our son was in trouble, along with his sisters, for not obeying at another time over the weekend. I had asked them to go to their rooms and sit on their beds (is this a common theme or something?) while I came around & kissed them good night. Before I could get upstairs, all 4 were wrestling and tumbling just as they had been when I had sent them upstairs in the first place. Since this was their 2nd time to disobey on this issue, I told them I would have to spank each of them. I was calm, not the least bit angry, and planned to barely touch them when I spanked. A began to sob. "I DIDN"T GET A COOKIE!", he screamed. "They all had a cookie earlier today, and I didn't have one!!" And this pertains to your disobedience how?? I replied, "A, you refused a cookie when it was offered to you. Now you have disobeyed and you all are going to bed. You are not going to have a cookie. I'm sorry you didn't have one earlier. Now let me give everyone their spanking. I'll see you in a minute." Loud sobs roared from his room. I barely tapped K. I barely tapped the 2 big girls. It was A's turn. "Come here, buddy." "I WANT A COOKIE!!!! WAHHHHHHH", he screamed as he finally came over to me. I have been convicted about not disciplining them calmly and correctly. I sat with A and explained that he has to obey when I tell him not to do something. I told him how much I love him. I did all of the things you're supposed to do. I tried my best to shepherd his heart. Then, it was his turn. I couldn't wait to hear him confess his wrongdoing and to ask for my forgiveness. That sweet boy opened his mouth and said, "I want a cookie". I replied, "I just talked to you about your disobedience, and it is your turn to ask for forgiveness and all you can say is that you want a cookie??? You weren't listening to me at all. You were just thinking over and over in your head that you want a cookie." So, in one weekend, our children admitted their disobedience and begged to be forgiven, and then, one of those same children just wanted a cookie. We are all a work in progress!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I will CUT you!

As Bon Qui Qui says, "I will CUT you!" My friend, C, is such a smart lady. She handles her four children AND a job with ease. Each night she manages to make wonderful, healthy meals for her family. One night our family joined their family for pizza. C & F were brave enough to add our 5 to their 4 and have us to their home. As we were passing out pizza, I noticed C & F were using kitchen shears to cut the pizza. What a brilliant idea!!! The pizza was quickly cut into bite-sized pieces. I stole their idea. C said they use their scissors for everything from pizza to hot dogs. I can't tell you how much easier it is to slice a hot dog lengthwise when using kitchen shears!! Tonight I cut chicken patties up for our 2 youngest. It was so quick & easy! Enjoy the tip...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Flowers from Costco... one brilliant man's quest for the perfect flower

Our friend, J, is a smart man. When choosing something to buy, he researches it and makes sure it is the very best. As Valentine's Day approached, J wanted the perfect flowers for his precious wife. Only the best would do. Costco had a special advertisement about roses hand-picked in Columbia and shipped overnight to the US. He decided to try it as N would receive 30 gorgeous roses. The roses arrived and a vase was even included in the package. N said she did not even have to arrange the roses as they were prearranged. She just filled the vase with water and slipped them in.

J admired the flowers and they noticed a few small brown spots. They were not terrible, but the flowers were not blemish-free. Since this was J's first time ordering flowers from Costco, he sent them an email. He let them know that the flowers had arrived on time, and that they were beautiful, minus a few blemishes. He received a prompt response and was asked to please email photos of the flowers. J obliged, and the pictures were sent. Costco Customer Service wrote back immediately and said that J would be given a FULL REFUND as the roses were not up to their standard of quality!! They apologized profusely and said they hoped it did not ruin his holiday. What service!! I am sure J will try Costco again for roses next Valentine's Day. It is so nice when a company stands behind their products. J was wise to notify them of the discoloration! Henley on the Horn may have to hire J as one of her writers if the business thrives!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

When you feel overwhelmed...

Carpools, work, time for exercise, meetings, volunteer work, lunch with friends can quickly become overwhelming. Next time you're overwhelmed, think of this:

This is our garage... still very full... with many things still needing a home. Believe it or not, I work on it every day. I even sold 17 boxes yesterday. It's just that I am never alone. Miss H & I are together 24/7, which I do love, but I rarely have time to work on the garage. Our house is set up like we've lived here a long time, though I still haven't found our tupperware and the children's dishes. I don't want to bring items in unless there is a place for them. I have actually listed some things on Craigslist, and that will help thin the piles a little bit! Once we go through everything, we'll have a big garage sale. I envision having the sides of the garage set up so that you can easily find the card tables & chairs or a can of paint, etc. I have also had to clean out what the previous owners left behind.

Mind you, this is supposed to make you laugh more than anything. There are people whose lives are truly overwhelming as they fight for their life or care for someone who is sick. That was us a year ago, and this is nothing compared to that! :) Others have spouses in the military and live as a single parent. So, while I can't breathe whenever I am reminded of what awaits in the garage, it is NOTHING in the big scheme of things! Just have fun laughing at all of our JUNK! You know what I'll be doing this weekend!

A Day in the life

I wrote this a week ago on Mon, Feb. 9th, but this is a typical day!

Monday was a day like any other. The triplets went to school at 8am, and then I took K at 9am. H & I then went to our local Greenwise, a new concept by Publix. It is a mixture between Whole Foods and a regular grocery store. The food is wonderful! You can buy great sandwiches, salads, and pizzas there too. It took us about an hour to shop, and we raced home since we had some shrimp in our bags!

I unloaded the groceries, finished cleaning up the kitchen, and ran a load of laundry. Then, I had to sort through paperwork to organize our tax information. April 15th will be here before we know it! The next thing I knew, it was time to pick K up at school, so we raced to get her!

We came home & moved the trash cans back behind the house, and then I fixed lunch. I had a BLT & K had some bacon and fruit. H ate a little bit of many things. I rocked H & put her down for her nap, and then picked up in the upstairs bedrooms.
Then I prepared our chuck roast for dinner and put it in the oven so that it could cook all afternoon.

I spent a lot of time on hold sorting out bills. I had to fax something to the water department here to avoid a $140 deposit! All of this took a lot of time. Then, I tackled more of our ever-growing paperwork and never-finished laundry. I wash an average of 3 loads a day.

I also cleaned up playdough and folded more laundry. K & I played together some too. At 10 till 3, we woke up H & raced to pick up the triplets. On the way home, we dropped off DH's drycleaning. Once in the door, everyone unloaded book bags and had a snack while I packed the lunches for Tuesday. CP helped me with the lunches, which was nice. The children played outside and I folded more laundry, peeled potatoes, and worked on dinner!

At 5pm, I put everyone in the bathtub or shower for baths. H & K need special attention, so I put away clean clothes & made D's bed while they played in the tub. Of course I forgot about the potatoes boiling on the stove, so I had to run downstairs a time or two. That is when I decided it is dangerous to cook when you have young children!

DH came home & we all had dinner. Notice I sad we HAD dinner. I'm not sure we enjoyed it. I had really knocked myself out with homemade mashed potatoes, roast beef, roasted carrots, corn and French bread. The children wouldn't eat & the battle began. It ended with me showing the children the Sam & Esther video. I told them that it's okay to not love everything on their plate, but to eat it anyway, because there are children who have NOTHING. I think the video helped them understand. We all cried.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Do Not Call Registry

So that I won't have any more annoying sales calls from telemarketers, I registered at You should do the same thing if you have not done so already!!! The state of Florida wanted to charge a fee for this service, but the national registry is free.

Why oh why?

DH & I have been inundated with sales calls ever since we moved. I know, I know, we need to register for the "Do not Call" list. Can you believe that this state CHARGES you to be on the list? Then you must pay a yearly subscription service fee. Crazy. I need to just join, but we haven't yet. Therefore, we must suffer. And, suffer we do. Every day we receive calls pressuring us to do this or that. The most persistent are the exterminators and water testers. One lady caught me when I was weak and distracted. She called during the everyone-is-falling-apart-and-I'm-trying-to-fix-another-dinner-they-won't-like-hour. I was not paying attention (why not with a baby pulling on my leg and screaming, children running in & out of the house & a sick child?) and she was relentless. She said, "Just for letting us test your water, we'll give you a $50 gift card. Do you want one from Target, Home Depot or Lowe's?" I replied, "M'am, I'm not interested".

She wasn't finished. "Oh, are you scared you'[ll have to buy something? You won't. We're from a high end GE appliance store. We just want to test the water so we can see what customers need in your area. Then we'll do some targeted marketing."

I wasn't listening very well. I should have replied, "Isn't THIS targeted marketing?" But I was busy making homemade pizza and choosing the toppings for my part. "Okay, so we'll send someone tomorrow night at 7:30. We need both of you to be home".

"How do I know you're not someone coming to kill us or stake out our house?"

She laughed.... I wasn't being funny. "Oh, M'am, I can PROMISE you we're not doing that!" Snicker snicker snicker.

The children's voices are now at a very high level, I'm trying to roll out dough, and I succumbed to her ploys. I was so mad at myself when I hung up the phone. What was I thinking???? I am not letting some idiot come to test our water at NIGHT? Dumb dumb dumb. But she had promised that $50 Target card & I had told her he better have it in his hand.

He was late. He did not arrive promptly. He did not give us the confirmation number, wear a uniform, or present his ID. We asked to see the Target gift card. "Oh, they'll mail it to you in a week or so." DH was at the door. I walked away. Furious. "See, I knew it was a scam." I wasn't mad at him. I was mad at his company, at the woman who coerced me into letting him come to our house in the first place, at the fact that it was dark & scary outside, and at myself.

And that's when it happened. He became very angry. He was very unjustifiably angry. Shouldn't he have just laughed and said, "It's not a scam. I'd love to test your water & I'll let you enjoy your evening. I'll personally make sure they send you the Target card." But he didn't. He started yelling, "This is NOT a scam. I wouldn't have driven 75 miles for a scam! I've been doing this for 15 years! Just forget it. FOrget it." He began walking to his car. Sweet Dh. He said, "Sir, you're welcome to come in. Just test the water." The very mad man whose name we didn't even know yelled back, "No. Never mind." He drove away.

Dh asked me not to aggravate people. I wasn't trying to make him mad. I just felt like it was a trick. I am tired of tricks. I'm too old for tricks. I am too educated to have been tricked into letting him come in the first place. I felt foolish. I felt sad. I felt guilty that he had driven 75 miles. But I didn't ask him to drive that far. His lousy company had him do that. And I felt afraid. I worried all night that he was going to come back because he knows where we live. And he hates me. DH thought I was overreacting. "Yeah, he's going to fire bomb us tonight." I replied, "What does that mean?" Dh said, "It's when you throw a bomb at someone's house." Great. I hadn't thought of that possibility. I was more worried that he'd vandalize our car, break in our house, or shoot me through the window. I hadn't thought about fire or bombs. Guess who didn't sleep last night??

Why do these things happen to me? I haven't even told you about the magazine salesman who got mad at me in the street for not just giving him some money to pay for his dentures. I was foolish to let someone on the phone talk me into anything. But why oh why? Do these things happen to you? I've got to go check my dead bolts again!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Shepherd's Pie

The best CAMP in the world is Camp Greystone! I was a camper for 7 years as a child, and now our daughters have the privilege of going. It is a wonderful Christian camp for girls in the North Carolina mountains. Greystone is known for its delicious food!! I remember eating "Shepherd's Pie" as a camper, so I tried to re-create it at home tonight. It was delicious and fairly easy!!

You need:
potatoes (I used yukon gold)
ground beef
an onion
shredded sharp cheddar cheese
milk & butter to taste
salt & pepper to taste

Boil your potatoes in water until they are soft. Drain the water. Using a hand mixer, mash the potatoes while adding butter and milk until you reach the desired consistency. You can also add salt and pepper. I added some wonderful seasoned salt from Martha's Vineyard as well. Cover potatoes to keep them warm. Brown ground beef with an onion. You can add spices like parsley for a little flavor.

Put mashed potatoes on your plate, then add ground beef, and sprinkle cheddar on top. I served this with Sister Schubert's rolls and LeSeur's wonderful green peas. It was delicious!!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Dream Come True

What a precious morning! Our 2 oldest girls were able to take their first horseback riding lesson. They both loved riding on a visit to see Mimi last summer. Yesterday was their first official lesson! D has especially dreamed of riding horses. She reads lots of horse books and has studied horse vocabulary words. What a treat to see them enjoying their first ride with Smokey!! He was a sweet horse. The weather was perfect. It was sunny and warm with a breeze in the shade. The children all enjoyed seeing the horses eat and even relieve themselves!! Hilarious!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Angus Barn

There is an institution in Raleigh, NC called The Angus Barn. If you have never been, save your pennies so you can GO!! It is filled with character and the food is reliably delicious. Van Eure is the owner, and she works hard to insure that all of her guests receive the BEST service and food cooked as ordered. On the rare occasion that things are not perfect, Van will do everything she can to make it better. With service like that, her patrons happily choose The Angus Barn when celebrating special occasions.

As you walk in the door, you will be greeted and the large wooden doors will slowly be opened for you. The lobby is very interesting with mounted animal heads, artwork, rich wood walls, and interesting articles and pictures from the past. You can sit in front of a roaring fire and flip through wonderful books full of pictures. Or, you can sit in a lounge and sip cider in the winter. If you prefer a stronger beverage, head upstairs to the Wild Turkey lounge which is known for a wide variety of libations and spirits. Those who are short on time may want to eat up in the bar as well. One thing you absolutely MUST do when you enter is eat some of their delicious pickles and cheese spread. They also have olives, celery, and carrot sticks. The cheese is sold in a crock in their store, and you will LOVE it. They even make wonderful homemade crackers!!

Once it is time to be seated, you will be buzzed and they will take you to your table. All of the dining rooms have an elegant barn feel, complete with feeding stalls, hay, farming tools, and all kinds of interesting things upon which to feast your eyes. If your date is not fun, you will not be bored! You will be greeted with more of the delicious cheese and relish tray once you are seated. DH & I usually split the 10 oz filet, but the menu is quite conclusive and all will find something to eat! The food is predictably good. I love their filet, baked potato, and salad with homemade blue cheese. DH has to have their baked sweet potato every time. Still others prefer au gratin potatoes and the warm spinach salad. Your palate is sure to be delighted!

I am not a big dessert person, but you MUST save some room for dessert!! DH prefers the blackberry cobbler with ice cream that simply melts in your mouth, while I prefer the chocolate chess pie and ice cream. It is AMAZING!! When you have little ones with you, they will usually take them on a tour of the kitchen and then allow them to decorate their own ice cream sundae! Our children look forward to Christmas every year because Papa P started the tradition of taking us to the Angus Barn with the children every December. We have lost our Papa P, but we carried on his tradition with Mimi this year!

By the way, it is the perfect place for November and December because it is ALL kinds of decorated. Santa Claus even came to our table this year!!

As you leave, check out their cute General Store where you can buy cheese crocks, crackers, pies, and gift items. This is a North Carolina Institution that you MUST patronize!! While you're there, eat some cheese & chocolate chess for me, and tell Van hello!! I'll have to go when I visit NC!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is not one of my favorite holidays because I feel like it is just a way for businesses to make money. I already know how much DH loves me. At the same time, because of the pressures of the outside world and what everyone else is doing/receiving, I can't say I don't like a little remembrance from time to time!! On the flip side, I do not want him to buy overpriced chocolates or spend money on highly inflated flowers. I'm a tricky thing to please, aren't I?

I'd love to hear how YOU will celebrate the holiday! We are showing our big girls some love by letting them take their first riding lesson here. We'll love on our whole family all day long since Valentine's Day is on a Saturday this year. If I can find a sitter, I'd love to sneak DH away for a movie on Sunday. He LOVES movies. I have bought a big bag of his favorite Twizzlers, and would love to give them to him with a note about a Sunday movie date. If I don't find a sitter, the note will say we're having movie night at home! I have some great black seed popcorn to pop too!

How will YOU celebrate?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sam & Esther

This is a disturbing and sad video, but we CAN help. I found it by reading soli deo gloria. It broke my heart. I even shared it with our children so that they would understand what we mean when we say there are others who are not as fortunate as us. It may have been too heavy of a mental picture, but I felt they needed it. They went to bed praying for Jane, Sam, and Esther!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Our Menu for the week

Due to the bad economy, most families are tightening their financial belts and eating in more and more. While I find it difficult to cook night after relentless night, my sentimental side thinks it's a great return to how it should be. I have no memories of eating out as a child, or at least no memories of eating out other than on a special occasion or when we visited my grandmother. Even on road trips, we stopped at picnic tables on the side of the road and ate our sandwiches, hot 2-liter of Coke in tow. The sandwiches were usually hot, too, but I was thankful for the swig of Coke since that was something we very rarely enjoyed. In the age of MORE MORE MORE, it's nice to see us returning to the family dinner table.

DH & I have always enjoyed meals as a family, and we rarely spend dinners apart because our children are still so young, but I always liked the nights at Moe's or Two Guys pizza when I didn't have to cook. During difficult seasons of life, it's always easy to send hubby to "just pick something up for dinner". Unfortunately, Tampa does not have many good cheap restaurants, and since we are trying to be more fiscally conscious, we are having most meals at home. This morning we had cinnamon rolls and scrambled eggs, while dinner was a quick grilled cheese before church and then some fruit when we returned home. I am trying to start our week off with the first few meals planned, so here is our schedule:

Roast Beef, mashed yukon gold potatoes, corn, and green beans and fruit
Roast beef is prepared very simply. We bought a chuck roast and will put it in a pan with 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup and several cans of water. You can also sprinkle some Lipton's onion soup mix on top. Cook at 300*F for at least 3-4 hours. I am going to cook ours all day at 250*F. You can add carrots and potatoes if you want a more traditional pot roast.

Publix has fantastic sweet corn right now, so I'll just boil that. I am cheating with the green beans and they will be straight out of a can and I will cook them with sea salt and some pepper.


spaghetti night with garlic bread and salad or applesauce
I brown ground beef with onion and spices like oregano, parsley, or basil. Then, I add either Hunt's traditional spaghetti sauce (2 cans) or 2 cans of tomato and basil sauce that I bought at Costco. I'll try to remember the brand name! We like angel hair or very thin Spaghetti noodles. I usually buy the cheap ones, but the Barefoot Contessa recommends a good brand.

I cheated and bought the garlic bread on sale at Publix. I believe it is by Cole's and it was BOGO (buy one get one free).

Wednesday night

If we have lots of leftovers, we will eat those, as the children LOVE spaghetti. Otherwise, we will have NO PEEK CHICKEN.
4-6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, washed and prepared
1 pkg. Lipton's onion soup mix
1 pkg. long grain & wild rice (Uncle Ben's is best, but the store brand is fine)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can water

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Combine soup, water, and rice mix together. Pour in bottom of casserole dish. Place chicken in the mixture. Sprinkle oven soup mix over chicken. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 350*F for 2 hours and don't peek! You really can peek because sometimes it doesn't take the full 2 hours to cook. Enjoy!

I will fix some veggies such as baked squash. I recently bought frozen squash and sauteed it in olive oil. Then I put it in an oven-safe dish, and sprinkled bread crumbs and parmesan on top and baked it for a few minutes. It was delicious!

I'll add something green too.

Maybe this will inspire you!

Friday, February 6, 2009

How to have an adult conversation with a young child

How many times have you realized no one is tugging on you so you might actually be able to make a phone call, only to make the phone call and some sort of radar sends children running from blocks away? How many times have you met a friend for lunch with children in tow, only to come home wondering if you all talked at all? Mothers of preschoolers and younger are all too familiar with these scenarios. Even older children have a difficult time not interrupting mama when she's talking to another adult either in person or over the phone.

Today a cute friend that I met at Greystone asked me to meet her for coffee. We ended up having Diet Cokes at Louie Pappas, with my little just-turned-2- and-I-can-say-'NO'- H in tow. H is not known for her good behavior in public. She is an easy, adaptable child until you want her to sit quietly in a high chair. It's just not gonna happen! I googled within my own mind to think of a way to keep her somewhat quiet and occupied. Food usually works, so I gave her strawberries. I also brought a brand new can of hot pink playdough. Perfection. That sweet little monkey played with her playdough for AN HOUR AND A HALF!!! I actually was able to have a real conversation!! Thank you, Lord, for sweet reminders that you really are with me! Now, playdough will join the little baggie of crayons, the Clean Well hand sanitizer, many receipts, a hand full of names & numbers that are floating around, and at least 5 of my favorite pens in my purse!! You should try the playdough trick. I think even older children secretly enjoy the stuff. After all, I made a couple of pancakes and hot dogs myself! :)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lunchbox notes

Children are very important, and they need to know how important they are to us and how much we love them. We show our love to them by feeding them, bathing them, and putting them to bed. We also show our love by attending and actively watching their sporting events, recitals, classes, and school performances. Another simple way to show our love is to send notes in their lunch box! Children just beam to have a handwritten note or silly picture from their mother or father. I always wished my Mama would decorate my lunch bag. She was and is an excellent mother, but I longed for the fancy letters & cute pictures on my brown bag. Therefore, I try to write at least one note a week to our children. I don't do it everyday at this point because I don't want it to be expected, or for the world to fall apart if I can't send one for some reason. I read a book about lunchbox notes, and the author wrote a note every single day. Her children testified how much the notes meant to them. Another child called & asked if she'd write her a note one day, and then said she was welcome to write another note whenever she had time. We may find the notes to be silly or cumbersome, but they mean the world to our children! I think I'll send one tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How to really love your spouse

February is a month marked by Groundhog's Day, President's Day, and Valentine's Day. You see a lot of pink and red in the stores and LOVE is promoted everywhere. What is love? The Bible says, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends".

Since our focus is on love this month, I thought I would recommend some of my absolute favorite books. Shaunti Feldhahn has written two books that will change the way you look at your marriage. You can buy them from . The books are called "For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men" and "For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women". You will be amazed at what you will learn about yourself, how you treat your spouse, and how the opposite sex thinks. We read these books over 2 years ago with our small group Bible study, and I still remember my favorite parts.

I learned that I can say little things without meaning any disrespect, such as, "Would you like me to help you install that?", but DH (and yours, too) hears, "You dumb idiot. I am so much smarter than you. Why don't I help you install that DVD player?" I was amazed! I had no idea that a simple, "Why don't we ask for directions?" communicates, "You have no idea where you are going and I can't trust you". Wow.

I also learned a little about myself. Women are like computers with a bunch of different windows opened at one time. We tend to multi-task, or at least think about 10 things at one time. Men, however, are focused on a single task. Women can't enjoy a vacation from the children if a child is sick at home until we know the child is okay. Anyway, you will love these books. Treat yourself and your spouse and you'll be amazed at how your marriage will grow!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Fit Pack DVD

Pink, Green, and Southern inspired me to post about a great workout DVD. FIT PACK DVD is a GREAT DVD by celebrity trainer, Joel Harper. Joel utilizes great exercises that promote strength, agility, and toning. When I first tried his DVD, I tried the abs section first because that is where I need the most help! The exercises made you move, but I thought, "Okay, I can do this" when he said it was time to stop. Then, he said, "Now that you're all warmed up, let's keep going!" For people like me, who don't exercise often, you may have to start with his warm-ups and work up to being able to do the full workout. For those who are already fit, you will enjoy the challenge of these exercises. The best part is that you need NO EQUIPMENT. A mat or towel can be helpful for some of the exercises, but you can do these in your own home while your children run around!! I love this because I am terrified of making a fool of myself at the gym. You will LOVE this dvd, so give it a try in the new year!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Will the truth set her free?

Wow. The truth has been revealed!! The latest news revealed that the mother of the octuplets is seeking at least 2 million for book deals and t.v. appearances on Oprah or for interviews with Diane Sawyer. Will the media succumb to paying for this woman's 'advice'? She is touting herself as a childcare expert... do we agree?

I need to clarify a few things. I love children. I would have more children if it's God's will. However, I would not have more children if I were a single mother of five who are ages 7 and under. It is just about physically impossible to care for 5 children on your own. It would be even more difficult if one of our children had autism, like one of the octuplets' siblings. This Nadya Suleman has SIX children and NO husband. She is a single mother whose parents bought her small home. She is unemployed. She has now stated that she hopes to pocket several million dollars because of her sage advice as a mother. I am not sure this is a woman who practices wisdom. Is there wisdom in bringing more children into a home that already has SIX children and no father? Is there wisdom in pursuing extreme infertility treatment when you are a single mother of 6?

I have so many questions. In vitro fertilization raises many ethical questions. I have wrestled through each of them myself and with my husband because we had an unknown transportation issue that was discovered after laparoscopy to determine why we were not able to conceive. We prayed and prayed over this procedure and its ramifications. WE prayed. I didn't go through this decision alone. We sought advice and prayer from our minister. Prior to our infertility issues, I had very strong opinions on IVF, frozen embryos, et cetera. My strong opinions were because I was uneducated on the issue. I had no idea why I believed what I believed but I had some strong opinions against it. Then we found out that due to appendix that ruptured when I was 7, I was missing an ovary and had severely damaged tubes on both sides. There was no transportation to allow me to conceive. DH & I wanted a baby so badly, and after several more months of trying, it was determined that our only choices were IVF or adoption. We sought IVF because it was thought to be a transportation problem. We did not enter this decision lightly. It was expensive. It involved time off of work, countless blood draws, and strong medication.

We wrestled with these things: It might not work. The medication might overstimulate me. I could become depressed, gain weight, and have the Lupron crazies. We could have no embryos, or we could have too many embryos which would leave us with a decision to make about any remaining embryos. After much prayer and many tears, we felt the Lord was saying it was okay to try IVF.

The doctors hoped I would be pregnant with ONE. A few weeks later, they were SHOCKED to learn that there were THREE babies. A nurse immediately offered us selective reduction. We refused. God had given us these babies, and we could not choose to get rid of one of them. The risks were numerous for the babies and even for me. I understand why Nadya Suleman didn't want to reduce. How DO you choose? But why, oh why, would a SINGLE mother of SIX allow EIGHT embryos to be implanted? I understand her feeling a responsibility to those embryos since she had some remaining. However, there are ways to implant the embryos aggressively with aggressive fertility drugs or to put them in the body and let them naturally implant or not implant. I wonder if she should have chosen the latter since she already had several children. I question if she really wanted "just one more girl" or if she wanted fame and fortune.

Jon & Kate plus 8 is a great show. DH won't watch it because he says it is too much like real life, but I have seen it and liked it. However, are shows like this causing people to seek fame and fortune by seeing who has the most babies? The Duggers are another example. They have 18 children. That is way too many for me personally, but you can't help but applaud them for the RESPONSIBLE way they are raising their children. They have NO debt. I can't say the same; we do have a mortgage. They make everything they possibly can and very carefully shop for clothes and shoes. They exercise WISDOM. Miss Suleman has exercised virtually no wisdom. The Duggers are a TEAM. They are married. All of their children share responsibility for household duties. I have 5 children under age 7, while Miss Suleman has 6. Our children are too young to completely take care of one another. The Duggers have older children who assist with the younger children. The Suleman children can bring Mama a diaper or give someone some Cheerios, but their ability to help is limited by their age.

Our reproductive endocrinologist took IVF very seriously. She explained that a high rate of multiple births actually hurts their ratings. They were trying to give their patients A baby... not many babies. Where was this doctor? Did he/she carefully screen his patient? If the doctor believes he did the right thing, then why is he not defending his decision to implant EIGHT embryos in a young woman? Usually doctors increase the number of embryos implanted based on the mother's age... but this was a 33 year-old woman, not a 53 year-old woman!

I do understand a single woman's desire to have a baby. Had I not married, I would still have a very strong desire to have a baby and to be a mama. Miss Suleman had that desire granted with the first six babies. I don't understand why a doctor would allow her to aggressively pursue even more babies. Have fertility treatments become a way to pursue fame and fortune? Should any of us watch this woman on t.v.? Should Oprah pay her for an interview? Who will watch her children while she prances around the country doing interviews and book deals? Who paid for her infertility treatments? I don't want more government in my life making decisions for me. This story scares me about the state of our nation. We have pushed God out of schools and out of our lives, yet we so desperately need Him more than ever. I know I can't expect a non-believer to use godly wisdom, but this whole story is too much to comprehend.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

P. Diddy & Mama Henley

I haven't posted much over the weekend because of my 3-day partying with P. Diddy at the Venue in St. Pete. I mean, dawg, what else do you think I have been doing? It was PHAT. We did drive by the Venue, but since we're not part of the elite Superbowl crowd, well, we just drove on by:). It was a great weekend. There are so many nice beaches to explore! We took the children for doughnuts on Indian Beach at a place called Lighthouse Doughnuts. They are some of the best I've ever had! We also saw Clearwater and it's nice white sand beach. It really is beautiful here!

I think God wants to make sure I feel at home here in Florida because we've had more cold-just-like-North Carolina-days than we have balmy sunny Florida days. Today greeted us with lower temps and rain. It has rained so much that I fear our pool may overflow if we have much more!! Rainy days are perfect for a bowl of hot soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. That is what we are having for dinner!

However, I spent the morning celebrating the first 100 days of school with my terrific triplets, so I do not have much time to cook. Plus, I am just exhausted from all of the celebrity sightings and parties from the weekend (ha!). My friend, A, has been mentioned numerous times. She is pretty brilliant. Here is her vegetable soup recipe. You will love it!!

Meat... can be hamburger meat, beef stew meat, cuts leftover from tenderloin or roast beef, etc. I bought beef stew meat and cut it into tiny pieces
2 bottles Spicy Hot V8 juice
frozen mixed veggies or soup mix... 2-3 bags minimum
any fresh vegetables you may have (potatoes, carrots, celery, corn, peas, green beans, peppers, tomatoes)

Boil about 1/3 pot of water. Throw in meat and let it cook for about 5-10 minutes. I don't think A uses water and just lets hers cook with the rest of the soup. Add V8 spicy hot juice. Add vegetables. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for an hour or more. Delicious!