The Blessed Life

The Blessed Life

Friday, December 31, 2010

Update on my goals for the Oh-One-Oh.

As you may or may not remember, last year I posted my Goals for the Oh-One-Oh.  I think that putting them out for all to see was a great idea and have decided to update you on my progress.  I will be posting my new list of goals tomorrow. 

Last year's list.

Goal #1. finish a book. any book. DONE. 

Now, I must admit that I did not finish any of the books that were on my reading list at the time.  In fact, they are all right where I left off back at the beginning of 2010.  BUT, I did read a TON of books this year.  Good and bad.  Joyce Meyer's Love Revolution was one of the standouts.  A must read if you are interested in learning how you can show love more often and to more people.  I did read some fiction in addition to all my non-fiction titles.  However, with the exception of a few books, most were elementary aged books that will end up in the library at my niece and nephew's school.

Goal #2. learn how to prepare healthy, inexpensive meals that my one year old will actually eat, that don't contain lots of obscure ingredients or involve frying vegetables.  DONE.  Well sort-of done.

Isabelle is eating healthier food, and she is eating on a more regular schedule, but I had little to nothing to do with it!!!  Turns out she was drinking WAY too much milk everyday and thereby not really hungry when it came to meal times.  So.......we cut her milk consumption in half and now she eats.  Amazing, huh?  I am no longer fixing her separate meals, either.  Which, of course, I realize is silly, but Jason and I were used to eating much later than Isabelle wanted to eat and so I usually ended up making dinner twice.  Now, we just eat early.  Sometimes we wait and do dinner the two of us after the kiddos have gone to bed, but usually we eat at 5:30 pm and avoid the two dinner problem.

Goal #3. finish Isabelle's first year scrapbook.   DONE.  I am also proud to report that I am pretty current on Molly's scrapbook.  I am done through seven months and she is only just now nine months old!!!!  I am pretty excited about scrapbooking these days and with the addition of my new Cricut I should be rockin' out the scrapbooks for awhile!

Goal #4. build my mk business. DONE.  But still much to do.  This year I added several team members, became a red jacket and saw my first commission checks.  WHOO HOO!!!  But, I am still a far cry from where I would ultimately like to be, so I must continue to work hard to make my business a HUGE success.  

Goal #5. grow in my walk with the Lord.  Ummmm....Can you ever really say you are done with this goal?  I don't think so!  This year I am going to be a little more specific with my spiritual goal though, so that perhaps next year I can feel accomplished in this area also.  I will say that I have developed a deeper, more meaningful walk with Christ, feel more excited about my relationship with Him, and have seen Him work actively in my life this year more than ever!

Goal #6. and my last goal....learn something new.   DONE.  So I didn't really learn anything TOTALLY new.  I did however expand my knowledge of cooking and have made several delicious dishes since deciding to really start cooking and baking.  I have learned that baking soda DOES expire, that when it does expire baked goods suffer, and I have learned that a kitchen aid mixer does seem to make a person feel more awesome. 

So there you go, an update on my goals from last year!  See you tomorrow for my Goals for Twenty Eleven. 

In case you are struggling to set your own goals, here is a little motivation:

Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) Where There is no vision, the people perish.


According to a study, 80% of all Americans have no goals, 16% do have goals, 4% have goals and write them down, 1% have goals, write them down, and read them on a regular basis. That 1% will make nine times more income in their lifetime than the other 99%.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Belle and LaLa

I have been a little busy these past few weeks getting ready for Christmas and haven't had time to do many updates on the girls.  SO...I decided to put up a few pictures rather than do a lengthy update list!  December is a busy month for us, but I promise to be more faithful with updates in January!


Molly dressed up in her biker gear!  Obviously the sunglasses and hat are more summer gear than winter, but Jason just couldn't resist.  She is way more cooperative when it comes to wearing hats than Isabelle ever was.


Belle on her new pink tricycle.  We celebrated Christmas with my mom and siblings last weekend and my mom got this for Isabelle!  She is still a little short to reach the pedals, but she LOVES it!



Molly playing with her new phone.  Smiling and happy, like always.

Isabelle playing with her new dishes.  She is getting a new pink kitchen for Christmas, but since we celebrated with my mom last weekend, she already has some kitchen gear.  She has not stopped playing with all her pots, pans and dishes.  She also demanded to wear her apron and chef's hat while she was cooking!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Favorite Things: Christmas Edition

I love all things Christmas.  If I had hours and hours of time, I would list each thing I love individually, but I don't and no one would read it all.  So, I picked a few of my favs and decided to do a favorites post.  Sadly, Ray LaMontagne has not released a holiday album, so he will be absent from this particular favorites list. 

First up for today, Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack.


I love this soundtrack.  I love this movie.  To make it even better, Isabelle watched this movie this year and is IN LOVE with Charlie Brown.  It is adorable to hear her ask for Charlie Brown, or Char Brown as she calls him.

Second on my list would have to be Christmas cookies and candies.  This past weekend I got together with my sister, Katie (Danny's girlfriend), Karen (Bobby's girlfriend), and my nieces and nephew and we made a TON of goodies.  Ironically we only made one cookie so I may be doing some actual baking this week.

Number Three:  Christmas decorations.  Each year I get more and more anxious about putting up Christmas decorations.  Jason refuses to start before Thanksgiving, but if I had it my way the tree would go up right after Halloween.  This year we were able to do Christmas lights on the house again (we took a break last year) and I am so happy!  I can't get enough decorations around here.

The fourth thing on my list today....spending time with my family.  This year Jason is able to take several days off and I am so thrilled to spend some time together as a family.  We figured out it is the most time he has had off since we were married (10 YEARS AGO)!!!!  Part of spending time together includes our tradition of celebrating Christmas here, at our house, with our girls each year.  I can't wait to wake up Christmas morning and see the look on Isabelle's face when she sees her presents.  So far there are no presents under the tree because her and Molly try to open every gift they see.  When Isabelle wakes up it is going to be totally full of presents in our living room and I can't wait to see her reaction.

Last, but certainly not least (in fact my MOST favorite part), celebrating the birth of Christ.  I hope everyone is reminded this Christmas just how truly blessed they are and how much we all have to be thankful for including the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Molly is CRAWLING!

It only took eight months, but Molly is finally crawling.  I had stopped believing that she would.  I figured that since she had the scooting thing down and could get around the house pretty quickly and was already pulling up that she would just start walking.  I was wrong.  And she can crawl FAST.  I thought I would post a little video for the grands and out of town family!

video


We are getting ready for Christmas.  Our first celebration is  this weekend with my mom and siblings.  SO, if the posts are a little few and far between, I apologize!  Hope everyone is having a great week!

Friday, December 10, 2010

411

WARNING:  This post may be slightly scattered.  For those readers who prefer order, I am sorry.

This past week has brought about lots of fun things to discuss.  For example, Isabelle's two year check up.  And yes, I realize she turned two in November and yes, I realize it is December, but when you forget to schedule the appointment, that is what happens.  So big deal it was almost a month late?  At two do you really need month by month updates?  NO. 

Isabelle is a tall and skinny kid.  She is an inch shy of being three feet tall, which in two year old world is pretty stinkin' tall.  And she is still skinny, but not so skinny that the Dr. is worried anymore.  Last checkup Isabelle's weight percentile had dropped kind of low.  Low enough that the doctor mentioned it and basically told me to get her eating.  I don't know if any of you realize how difficult it can be to get a two year old to eat, but it is not an easy battle.  However, we did succeed in getting her to put on some weight and move into the 50th percentile.  She is still not a chunk, but she is average.  Average is good.  So now the goal is to get her eating more regular, more balanced meals at regular meal times with the family.  We are off to a good start and because I don't have to worry about her not gaining weight, it is much easier to let her get hungry for dinner, thereby encouraging her to eat what is in front of her, not beg for cheese.

Molly had to visit the doctor this week also.  Of course not on the same day.  That would have been too easy, and saved money.  We had noticed a little red place on her bottom that appeared to just be some irritated skin over the weekend and had not been too worried.  By Sunday evening that little place on her bottom had turned into about a half dozen places all over her body including her back, head and tummy.  Monday we decided to go see the doctor and turns out little Molly has eczema.  Eczema is apparently worse in the winter because of the dry air and can get pretty serious looking.  Luckily for us, we have a great doctor who gave us some medicine for the really bad places and recommended a daily moisturizer for both girls (Isabelle has it also).   Molly's skin looks much better and she is scratching much less!

Jason and I are doing well.  We had planned to visit some friends in Dallas this weekend, taking only Molly with us, but our plans refused to work out.  Try as we might we could not figure out a way to go!  Major bummer.  I am pretty sad about the whole thing.  No Michael and Rochelle (bummer).  No Mi Cocina's (bummer).  No Max (BIG BUMMER).  Our friends, Michael and Rochelle have the cutest little son, Max, and I am needing a dose of baby boy.  Needless to say, I am super sad we won't get to see Max.  We have arranged another weekend so I am not getting overly depressed or anything. 

Christmas is just 15 days away, in case you didn't know, and I am almost done with my shopping.  Online shopping rocks!  Yesterday I was in full panic mode about what to get Jason, but today I have two presents on the way to my house via internet shopping.   Thanks, Al Gore!  I am done shopping for Isabelle and have just one or two more things to get for Molly.  The grandparents are pretty much done (thanks to the internet again) and I have also got my sibling gift done!  This weekend I should be able to wrap it all up considering we now have NO plans except to be in Tulsa!!!!

Life around here is pretty great right now.  I am continuing my adventures in the kitchen this weekend.  Hoping to conquer toffee for my dessert, which my brother, the pastry chef, informs me is harder than I think.  I plan to have all the Christmas shopping done and all the cards mailed as well as finishing up some end of the year Mary Kay work, all by Sunday.  Hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

For Danny


My brother Danny just recently developed an interest in saving money.  When my Mom brought over the Sunday paper last week, he tried fighting me for the coupons.  Weird.  Danny has never really cared about money.  I take that back, he has always liked spending money, just never cared about saving money.  So, when he asked me how to save money on groceries I referred him to some coupon websites, some great deals at grocery stores and where to buy essentials like laundry detergent and dishwasher soap.  But I thought perhaps putting all of my grocery savings ideas down in one place for him was a good idea.  And I figure anyone can benefit from a refresher on grocery savings.

First, plan your menu for whatever time period you would like to shop for.  I prefer to shop for meals two weeks at a time.  So before I shop, I sit down and plan out dinner for the next two weeks as well as looking around the house to check on items like soap, toilet paper, laundry detergent, trash bags, etc.  Planning a menu prevents the excuse that there is nothing for dinner and forces you to eat at home.  Which, as we know, saves money.   So Danny, plan what you are going to eat.

Second, look for coupons.  There are websites like coupons.com or smartsource.com.  You can also go to the exact product websites for savings.  For example, I registered on Horizon's website and received a coupon for $1 off the organic milk we buy.  Target also puts coupons on their website, so if you shop at Target you should check their website before going shopping.   Obviously the Sunday paper is also a great place to look.  Danny, don't be fooled by coupons.  Sometimes the name brands cost more even when you use a coupon.  Some items you can buy generic.  Also, be willing to check out the money saving queen.  She posts high value coupons pretty often on her website.  Like her on facebook and they will be added to your home page.

Next, stick to a budget.  That is right.  I said BUDGET.  Make one and stick to it.  Use cash if you can for food, including out to eat.  When the cash is gone, you don't go out anymore or buy anymore groceries.  It is called eat what you got.  Jason and I did this in college.  We had some interesting meals made up of canned goods and leftovers.  If you make a grocery budget and stick to it you won't let your food spending get out of control.

Lastly, for today, if you are really crazy, buy what is super on sale and plan your meals around those items.  People do it all the time.  They are the people on TV talking about how they feed a family of 19 for like $5 a week or some crazy crap like that.  I am not that person and luckily don't have to be on that strict of a spending plan for groceries.  But, if you were, you could make it work.  Danny, the lesson here is, maybe if you need to be an extreme couponer, have Katie do it!!!  This amount of saving requires some time dedicated to looking at ads, looking online and perhaps shopping at multiple stores.  I know you work a lot and go to school so you probably won't have the time or dedication for this level of craziness.

I know all of these ideas have been mentioned before, but for my brother's sake I thought they were worth repeating.  Hopefully he will actually check out my blog and read them!!!  If you do, leave a comment Danny!  Love you.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Adventures in Cooking

So I have been cooking a new main course and a new dessert each week and so far I have had great results.  This past week was one of the best.

On Saturday my family ate homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, French Bread, and for dessert, Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies.  Jason was in charge of the bread, but the rest was made by yours truly!

It was one tasty evening!

Hard to believe that back in college we ate cheese ravioli and chicken voila, both of which came frozen and only had to be warmed up on the stove.  Equally astounding is that I, Tracy, am the one doing the cooking.  I have always maintained that I do not enjoy cooking, that I prefer baking.  And that is mostly true.  Baking is what I prefer.  However, this cooking thing isn't as horrible as I thought.  I am actually enjoying cooking.  And my family is enjoying my cooking!

With Christmas right around the corner, trying new desserts is as easy as pie (get it), but coming up with a main course is a little more challenging due to time constraints during the week.  So from now on I am going to try my main course on the weekends so that I have plenty of time to prepare, shop, cook, and clean up!  This week will either be a bruschetta chicken skillet recipe or a mexican lasagna.  I will let you know how it goes.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for a great chicken soup, I encourage you to try the one I linked to above.  It is easy and delicious.  It is my favorite main course so far!  My favorite dessert can be found here, the delicious warm lemon cake!

Happy Monday! 

Friday, December 3, 2010

The ITouch

For my birthday this year, Jason bought me an itouch.  It is basically an iphone without the phone.  You can connect to the internet via WiFi and download apps and do all sorts of cool things.  And until this week that is exactly what I had used it for. 

I keep my calendar on my itouch, have all my music on my itouch and have apps like Redbox, Sudoku, Facebook, Pandora and the Bible downloaded for my entertainment purposes.  It is great.


Jason warned me about letting Isabelle play with it when he bought it.  So since his argument against letting a child play with such an expensive electronic device seemed so logical, I have kept it out of her hands for over six months.  BIG MISTAKE.

This past week I discovered the best thing EVER.  Isabelle LOVES the itouch.  She can't get enough of it.  And like I am sure everyone else already knows, there are a ton of great apps for kids.  Our car rides this week have been downright pleasant.  No screaming, no yelling "done" over and over, just peace and quiet.  It is amazing.  I can't believe I waited this long to let her play with it.  This thing is a parent's dream come true.  I am sure this is why so many parents risk their children dropping and breaking their phones or ipods.  Who cares if you have to replace a very expensive phone or ipod?   The calmness this thing has brought to my life is totally worth it. 

With that being said, I am in need of some good ideas of apps to download for Isabelle.  What are the best ones?  What are the ones your kids love?  Let me know.  I'd love to hear some suggestions.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm Back.....

Seriously, how did it get to be Wednesday?  First, I missed Friday, then Monday came and went and now it is Wednesday and I am sorry to have missed so many days.  Between Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping and Jason's birthday, I have been a little busy!

So rather than a favorites list or a money saving idea I will just give a small update of what we have been up to this past week or so!

Thanksgiving-Eve:

Family came over for our annual game night.  We broke out a new game this year called Bananagrams.  It was a blast!  If you are a game type of family I encourage you to check it out.

Thanksgiving Day:

We spent the day at my mom's house with my siblings and their children.  Pretty low key.  Pretty awesome.  Jason and I tried out two new recipes, both of which turned out awesome.  And now that I think about it, both were Pioneer Woman recipes.  I think I may be a tad obsessed.  Overall an outstanding day.

Black Friday:

Super awesome.  My sis and I headed out for a little Black Friday shopping.  We did NOT go at 4 a.m. or anything crazy like that.  We actually headed out around lunch time and shopped and ate and shopped some more.  We had a terrific time.  I found some great deals on gifts and didn't have to fight any crowds.  We also scored some free Godiva chocolate samples and free Cheesecake Factory cheesecake samples!  BONUS! 

Later that evening, Jason and I put up the Christmas decorations and turned on the lights on our house.  I would like to say for the record that NO ornaments have been broken and only a few have been taken off the tree.  The girls are doing very well with the tree which makes me happy.

Saturday:

Worked around the house, watched the Cowboys lose.  Had birthday cake with the family for Jason's birthday.

Sunday:

Went to church and heard an awesome message.  Celebrated Jason's birthday just the two of us that evening with a steak dinner and leftover cake!

That is our holiday weekend in a nutshell.  We ate too much food, didn't get enough sleep, and accomplished a lot of Christmas tasks.  Now we are back to regular life and the girls and I are having a hard time adjusting.  I am already ready for Christmas vacation time.  Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and has been able to get back into the swing of things.  See you again on Friday.  I promise.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What I am Thankful for....


So I realize it is pretty predictable to write a list of things that I am thankful for the day before Thanksgiving, but that's just me.  Predictable.

This year it is easier than ever to think of all the things I am thankful for.  I am amazingly blessed and know that I don't stop and appreciate it all often enough.  So here is a list.  A short, not in any particular order, list of things I am thankful for.

I am thankful for my husband and my children. 
I am thankful for my family.  All of them, near and far.
I am thankful for our house and our cars and for the food we will eat tomorrow when so many in the world have nothing.
I am thankful for my girlfriends.  All of them.  Even the ones I only talk to like once a year!
I am thankful for my husband's job and that he works for a Godly man.
I am thankful for my church and for our Pastor and for the great teaching we get every week.
I am thankful that I get to stay home and raise my kiddos.
I am thankful for my health and the health of my family and friends.

And last, but most definitely not least,

I am thankful for a Savior who died on a cross for my sins.  Thankful for His Word, thankful for His sacrifice, thankful for His love, thankful for His faithfulness.

I hope ya'll have a great Thanksgiving holiday! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

A List

You know how much I love a list!

1.  My brother took his mixer back.  Now I am back to mixing Sunbeam style.  It is a perfectly good mixer.  It just doesn't have a flour power rating.  I miss that.

2.  My dessert from last week, Warm Winter Lemon Cake, was simply amazing.  Very easy to make.  Very easy to eat. 

3.  I will be lucky to get in a new main course this week with Thanksgiving.  Maybe I will try a recipe from another blog on Friday or Saturday.  It is for BBQ Turkey Quesadillas.

4.  Molly has started pulling up.  Great, except with pulling up comes falling down!  Today she fell from standing in the kitchen and bumped her head and now she has a bruise on her forehead.  It is very sad.

5.  Isabelle is still operating in a fog of birthday happiness.  Everyday she plays with every single toy and book that she got at her party.  My house has been a mess for 10 days straight.

6.  Jason's birthday is in one week.  He is older than me, so this is a fun time of year for me.  I get to call him old.  In six months, on my birthday, it all ends.  Also, I have no idea what to get him.  Men are too hard to shop for.

7.  I want to buy every toy I see for Isabelle and Molly.  I must say I never truly understood the spoiling your kids thing until having kids.  It is not that Isabelle and Molly want the toys and beg and plead for them until I give in, I just want to buy them everything.  I especially want to buy the classic fisher price toys and a pink kitchen for Isabelle.

8.  This morning Isabelle was looking for Jay.  She was yelling out the window, "Jay?"  It was pretty funny considering that is what I did yesterday when trying to get Jason's attention while he was putting up Christmas lights.

9.  Speaking of Christmas lights, here is a glimpse into our personalities.  We have multicolored lights on the house.  We needed more.  I bought more at Target.  The new lights included purple, which the old lights did not have, therefore they are going back so that we can get the lights like we already have.  We also had to change the bulbs out of our existing lights so that two red bulbs would not be next to each other on the house.  Meanwhile, at the entrance to our neighborhood is the house with rope lights, regular lights, blinking lights, icicle lights and yard inflatables.  The blinks don't go together, the rope lights are in no pattern or regular shape, and the yard inflatables are past their prime.  It is a mess.  And we are worried about purple lights.  On two strands of lights.  That were going to outline the garage, not go on the house.

10.  Isabelle doesn't like my kisses.  Seriously, she wipes them off.  Only mine, not Jason's, not Aunt Buh-Buh's or Scott's, not Cait's or Josh's, just mine.  And she thinks it is funny.  I do not.  I thought the problem was lip stick or lip gloss or lip balm, but nope, just me.  I hope she gets over this very soon.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Adventures in Cooking

Last Sunday I started my adventures in cooking.  I made 55 cupcakes for Isabelle's birthday from scratch using Martha Stewart's recipe for Yellow Butter Cupcakes and One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes.  I also made the buttercream frosting using her recipe.  They turned out pretty good.  The yellow cupcakes were pretty dense and rich, and I am not sure if they are supposed to be that way or not!!

This week I have already done a new entree and will do my dessert tomorrow. 

Last night for dinner I made Almond Dijon Chicken



I loathe touching raw chicken and so I try very hard to avoid making dinners that involve chicken.  I also can't grill and don't like to pan fry chicken, so if I do make chicken it tends to be baked.  This chicken was SUPER easy and pretty tasty.  Even Isabelle ate some!

My dessert tomorrow is a warm lemon cake.  I will let you know how it goes.  It looks delicious and I can't imagine a cake tasting bad, but who knows. 

I am rather optimistic about my commitment to making one new dinner and one new dessert each week.  I have already planned what we are having next week and I am looking forward to cooking.  Now to get started on sewing!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Birthday Party Fun

Isabelle's birthday party celebration was yesterday and since we have some family out of town who couldn't join us, I thought it would be nice to show a few pics of the party!

Here is a picture of the cupcakes!  These are the Martha Stewart cupcakes I mentioned when I said I would be baking something new each week!  They turned out pretty well.   The vanilla cupcakes were pretty rich and dense, not light and fluffy.  Not quite sure if that was the recipe (which had 2 1/2 sticks of butter plus 2 cups of buttermilk) or my baking inexperience.


I wanted a Yo Gabba theme so I made the cupcake toppers to be all five of the characters.  Gabba cupcake toppers on the internet are not particularly cheap, so I made my own!

The birthday girl opened lots of great presents!  She got a great pair of black boots from Grandma Kathy and the moment she saw them she took off her other NEW shoes to put on the boots.  It was pretty funny.



Notice the beautiful, shiny, silver shoe that she discarded!

The favorite gift of the afternoon was the apron, chef's hat, and grocery store cart full of groceries from Aunt Buh-Buh, Uncle Scott, Josh, Cait and Lauren.  She went crazy over the play eggs and it took quite awhile to get her to finish opening her presents because she wanted to play with the plastic eggs.



I realize this picture is not the greatest, but taking a picture of her was pretty difficult by this point.  This is the only picture we have of her standing up in her apron!  Somehow we didn't get any of her playing with the eggs!  Of course she was running all over the house and not really in the mood for posing for pictures.

She got some great new clothes, books, bath toys and regular toys.   I don't think she is running out of things to do anytime soon. 

By the end of the night, she was pretty tired, but not too tired to take one last spin on her new sit and spin toy from Grandma Kathy!




We are so thankful for the many friends and family that could celebrate with us.  I know Isabelle had a great day!  Now to start thinking about Molly's birthday which is less than five months away!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Isabelle is TWO


I did not anticipate being emotional on Isabelle's second birthday.  This does not bode well for future birthdays.  I can't believe my baby girl is two.  Where did the time go?  I realize all parents feel this way and I also realize it only gets worse the older they get.  Which as you can imagine, does not help my current situation.

So on Isabelle's second birthday I would like to take a minute to list some of her likes and dislikes at this age!

Likes:

Yo Gabba Gabba (still....)
Coloring.  She just might be an artist like her dad!
Taking off her clothes, Molly's clothes or her baby doll's clothes.
Bear-Bear.
Swinging on her swing set.
Playing with (aka laying on top of) Molly.
Raiding my kitchen drawers to play with my cooking utensils.
Dancing.
Puzzles.  Especially the letters puzzle right now.  And just for the record, she knows probably 90% of her letters!
Jewelry.  That she gets from her momma!
Her Daddy!  She is so excited when it is the weekend and she can get lots of time with Dad!
Running in circles.
Washing her hands and brushing her teeth.  She has seen Jason and I brush our teeth and now copies us by spitting in the bathtub!
Talking on Skype with the grandparents.
Seeing her family.  Loves visits from Caitlin, Buzz, Lauren, Scott and Buh-Buh.  Loves when Grandma Debi comes to visit and loves going to Grandma Kathy's house.


Dislikes:

Eating food.  She has to be REAL hungry to eat something besides fruit snacks, cheese and crackers.
Going to bed at night.  This is a recent development, but she now falls asleep in front of her door.
Riding in the car.
Ponytails in her hair.

The dislikes are pretty limited.  Isabelle is a mostly happy child.  Yes, she is high energy but she is energetic and happy.  Not much makes her angry.  Of course we have discipline issues, but she is two, so isn't that normal?

Having Isabelle has been such a blessing.  I am so lucky to have been trusted to be her mom.  And while I may be a little sad that she is not my baby anymore, I am so excited to see what God's plan is for her life. 
Happy birthday, Isabelle!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My New Favorite Christmas Card.....(and how I am saving money on them this year)

Whoa that is one long blog title...sorry!

So Wednesdays are for saving money and for favorites and it just so happens that the two go together today.  My new favorite Christmas cards are from Shutterfly!  I have been on the website debating over which card I like better and well, I still haven't decided!

Here are a couple of my favorites

Here is the link for this great card, which I love!  Perfect for multiple pics of the kiddos and I love the scripture reference!

If you are looking for a card that does not have any religious theme, this one is pretty great!

Here is the link for it!

I am actually hoping to use a photo from our photo session this weekend with Carissa Miller, who is an AWESOME photographer!  I absolutely love her work and I am excited to have some new family pics including one to send out for Christmas!

Shutterfly has many more options to choose from, in fact my absolute favorite I am going to leave a mystery so that my family doesn't see their Christmas cards before they arrive!!

I also want to mention their great calendars.  We made these last year for all of the grandparents and they were a big hit.  They are super easy to make and look great!  Shipping was fast and the grandparents are already talking about how they want one this year also!

Here is a link for the calendars.

Now for the money saving part.....

Bloggers get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly.  Want to learn more? Visit http://bit.ly/sfly2010.

Now that is what I am talking about.  Free photo Christmas Cards.  I love me some free stuff! 

I can't believe I was actually able to get in money savings and a favorite thing in the same post!  What a great day!  I feel so accomplished.  Hope you have a feeling accomplished kind of day as well.  And hey, if you don't blog yet...you have another reason to get started!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Home-making I Will Go!

Right now I have the most amazing mixer in my kitchen.  It is not mine, though I am thinking of stealing it from my brother.  It is a professional grade KitchenAid Mixer.  It is amazing.  I haven't even used it yet and I am already in love.  According to the website, it has a Flour Power Rating of 14 cups.  That means it can mix enough dough for eight loaves of bread or 13 dozen cookies in a single bowl!  Seriously, EIGHT loaves of bread, that is crazy.  And because of this mixer, I am inspired to be a better housewife.  I am inspired to cook.

If you know me at all, you realize how amazing that last sentence is.  I am not really one to cook.  Jason likes to cook, not me.  Until now.  Something about my recent subscription to Martha Stewart Living and this mixer have inspired me to be all that I can be!  And so I begin. 

I have decided to make one new entree and one new dessert each week.  WHOA!  (for some of you I realize that is not really that big of a deal, but for me it is HUGE)  This week the dessert is cupcakes.  I realize cupcakes are not that difficult, but I am making them from scratch (the icing also) and I am making two different kinds.  Both Martha Stewart recipes and both for Isabelle's birthday.  As for the entree, right now I am leaning towards Creamy Chicken and Dumplings, but I have to find out if Jason likes dumplings first!!!

In addition to my new cooking project, I have also decided I would like to learn to sew and crochet.  My mom (I hope) can teach me both!  Sewing would be a nice skill to have in order to make some simple things for the girls, or curtains or whatever.  Crocheting is just because I decided to give up on knitting!!!

So look out Suzy Homemaker!  I have gone 1950's wife crazy!  I am taking care of kids, cleaning, cooking and making stuff.  What else is left?  The bizarre thing is, I am excited to get started.  So look for my entree this week and my cupcake post next week.  Have a great Monday!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Favorite Things Part 2

I feel like Oprah.  Well, kind of.  I feel like Oprah when it comes to naming my favorite things.  That is really the only way I feel like Oprah.  Not, I feel like Oprah, the wildly successful, wealthy, African-American, talk show host.  Anyway.....I like writing about my favorite things.  It is so much better than complaining about things that irritate me!!!!

First up today, one of my favorite blogs, The Pioneer Woman.  You can find her at www.thepioneerwoman.com.

She is amazing.  You can read her individual blogs about cooking, homeschooling, photography or her confessions blog.  All of them are great.  She does lots of great giveaways, posts lots of delicious recipes and is pretty hysterical.  The Pioneer Woman, Ree, lives in Oklahoma on a cattle ranch.  I think we could be great pals.

Next up, the Essential Cozy Throw from Pottery Barn.


I am in love with this blanket!  The weather is finally perfect to cuddle up under this blanket with a good book and a cup of coffee and stay nice and warm!  It is so soft and so wonderful and I wish it was cold all year long just because of this blanket!

Oh Ray, how I love you.  I think he might be on my list of favorites forever.  Still haven't checked him out?  You are missing out on one of the greatest artists ever.  Okay, that might be overstating it a little.  Seriously though, Ray is amazing.  Another one of my favorite albums from Ray, Gossip in the Grain.



This next favorite is a little biased.  My number four pick for today is....(drumroll please), Isabelle counting to 10!  Perhaps all children can do this by age two.  Heck, maybe most kids at age 2 can count to 100.  I don't know.  I just know that her counting is pretty adorable.  I especially love hearing three or bree as Isabelle would say.  She is pretty stinkin' smart.  I think.

And the last thing on my list for today is,


Apple Spice Cake.  The recipe can be found on Martha Stewart's website.  http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/apple-spice-cake

My friend, Rochelle, introduced me to this wonderfully delicious cake.  It is sooooo good.  I make it every year at Thanksgiving mostly because I hate pie and instead of going without dessert like I should, I eat a TON of apple spice cake instead.  It makes a great breakfast as well.  Pair it with a great cup of coffee and you will be in heaven.    As a warning, in case you decide to make it immediately after seeing the picture, the dough will be VERY thick.  It is supposed to be that thick.  I was a little concerned the first time I made it and I would hate for you to freak out like I did!

That's it!  Five more of my favorite things.  Hope everyone has a great Thursday!

Monday, November 1, 2010

First Zoo Trip

Yesterday we took the girls to the zoo for the first time.  It was a nice sunny day and we didn't have any real plans so we decided last minute to head out to the Tulsa Zoo.  Isabelle is not a big fan of riding in the stroller, so I was a little concerned she might not go for riding around the zoo for very long, and of course I was right, but we still had a good time.  Molly was great, as usual.

The first animals we saw were the elephants.  Isabelle was not overly enthused.  I finally, after much begging, got her to look at me for one picture.


After the elephants we visited the chimps and the big cats.  Most of the animals were asleep or just laying around, which could be part of why Isabelle was so uninterested.  The chips held her attention the longest, because they were actually playing when we were there.

After a few more animal exhibits, we decided to give Isabelle a break from the stroller and let her play at the playground.  This was by far her favorite part of the zoo.  We should have saved our money and taken her to the park!!!


Here is what Molly looked like for pretty much the entire time we were at the zoo!


We only stayed for about an hour and a half and that was pretty much the perfect amount of time.  Isabelle was able to see a lot of fun animals and we mostly avoided any huge meltdowns!  She liked the pink birds (flamingos is a pretty tricky word for a two year old!), the chimps, and loved the animals at the children's zoo (mostly sheep and goats!). 

Afterwards we went to McDonald's for an ice cream cone.  Another first for Isabelle.  She has had ice cream before, but the cone thing was new.  It was not easy getting her to lick the ice cream!  She figured it out pretty quickly once we got going!  She is her mother's daughter for sure. 

Overall a short, but great day at the zoo.




Thursday, October 28, 2010

Extreme Money Saving

I read an article yesterday on Yahoo about extreme money saving ideas.  Things that were beyond anything I would ever do to save money.  For example, one woman who loved to make arts and crafts using fake flowers would dumpster dive at the local cemetery after funerals for craft supplies.  Ummmmm....that is super weird.  Another person said that they saved condiment packages (and even had close family members save them also) and filled up their ketchup, mustard and mayo bottles at home with the packages.  I see two problems with this plan.  One, they must be going out to eat in order to get these condiment packages which is not inexpensive.  And two, who really spends that much on ketchup, mustard and mayo?  I think I buy those like once every six months or so.

While none of the ideas were things I would ever do, it did get me thinking about extreme ideas for saving money.  I can't honestly say I have ever done anything extreme.  I have washed out Ziploc bags before to reuse, but not necessarily because I wanted to save money, more because I didn't see throwing it away when it was still good.  We eat leftovers instead of throwing them out, we make our own pizzas most of the time instead of ordering out (I like ours better anyway because I can put fresher ingredients on mine), and we don't go out to eat very often, but none of that is extreme. 

So, I would like to know, have you done anything that could be considered extreme when it comes to saving money?  Anything that you might be slightly embarrassed to tell someone?  I want to know. 

As for mine, the most extreme thing I can think of is the fact that Jason and I buy plants that are almost dead to save money.  At Lowe's or Home Depot or even nurseries around town, you can usually find plants that have stopped blooming and are almost all the way dead for a MAJOR discount.  We buy those plants, bring them home and rehab them and then plant them in our yard and they look great.  We got a great tree one time for $25 and it is now doing great in our front yard.  Our azaleas were $1 each and look great.  We also get cuttings of plants from friends and family to grow in our yard.  Yes, we still spend money on landscaping, but not as much as we would if we bought everything new and healthy!!!

Let's hear your extreme ideas!

Monday, October 25, 2010

First Camping Trip

This past weekend, Jason and I took the girls camping.  We went with my sister and her family.  Since it was our first trip with the girls and since the Williams' had a football game to attend on Saturday, we stayed pretty close to home.  We went an hour away to Birch Lake and had a pretty good time. 


Picture of our tent that we stayed in during our trip.  It was nice and roomy and had enough space for the pack-n-play, a queen airbed, a twin airbed, and all of our bags!  Interestingly enough, we bought the twin airbed for Isabelle and instead one night Jason slept on it and one night I slept on it.  Isabelle was not down for sleeping by herself!

Isabelle spent a lot of time playing in the dirt and getting dirty and wet!  I went into the trip telling myself that I was not going to get upset about her getting dirty or her clothes being dirty or the tent being dirty.  It was a good thing I practiced that before we left.


Just one of the times she was covered in mud and dirt.  Here is another one.



Molly was a dream.  In retrospect I wish we would have gotten Isabelle started camping a little sooner.  Molly is overall an easy baby and camping was no different.  I think she had a great time!


During our trip we spent time playing on the playground, going for nature walks, and sitting around the campfire relaxing.  We took a TON of pictures and while I wish I could post them all, I can't!  Here are a few more that I think are pretty great.


Jason and Molly.  Like I mentioned before, Molly was a very happy camper!



We are so thankful for Caity Bug.  Her and Isabelle have quite the amazing relationship.  Cait helped us out the entire weekend with Isabelle and I am not sure we would have been able to camp without her!



Isabelle on the teeter totter!



Molly got to go down the small slide with Lauren, ride the teeter totter and swing on the swing set with Aunt Buh-Buh.


The Williams. 



Our funny farewell picture.  We took one at our last camping trip at Birch Lake two years ago and decided we must make it a tradition.  Poor Isabelle was crying and was wearing the only clean clothes she had left!  She was asleep in the car less than five minutes after this picture was taken!

So even though Isabelle didn't sleep that great and even though it was cloudy and windy most of the weekend, we still had a good time.  I didn't get to sleep in or take a nap or just relax and read like I have done before, but I did get to watch Isabelle play football and go down a HUGE slide and throw rocks in the lake.  It wasn't the same camping experience I have grown to love, but it was still pretty nice!  And yes, I would do it again.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Our lives

It is easy to let the days pass by without really stopping to take notice of all that is going on when you are a stay at home mom.  One day easily blends in with the next and before you know it weeks and months have passed by without any MAJOR changes.  When the kids are not sick, when we don't have any big plans, when no major milestones occur, it is easy to say that we don't have anything going on.  But the truth is, that everyday with Isabelle and Molly is a day with something new, something they haven't done before, and I hope I can remember these seemingly little things as well as I remember the monumental first things like crawling and walking and vacations and teeth and all those other BIG moments.

So while nothing really huge happened this past week, my girls are doing new things, growing way to fast and keeping me busy.  Isabelle is currently all about puzzles.  But in true Isabelle fashion, the easy ones are of no interest and the ones that are much too hard are the ones she wants to spend all day on.  We are practicing her letters and numbers everyday and she has a puzzle with the alphabet that we are still trying to master.

Cait and Josh came over this week and Isabelle was so happy to have someone to play with other than her sister Molly.  They had a little dance party in my room while I was cleaning and if anyone stopped dancing, Isabelle was not happy.  Let me tell you, cleaning a bathroom while dancing is not the easiest thing!

Molly is not crawling, though at this point I don't know that she will.  She is a very fast scooter.  Just as fast as if she was crawling, so I am not sure she sees any need to crawl.  I see the early signs of her wanting to pull up on things, so that can't be far behind.  She is eating more and more solid foods and right now she seems to like anything I put in front of her.  I can't help but be sad because I know this is just the beginning of the end of her being my baby.  Jason suggested we have another, but I am confident he was kidding!

Jason's work is pretty much the same...BUSY.  No one at our house is complaining!  I am so thankful that he works for a company like Alaback.  My business is good.  Overall, we are amazingly blessed.

And while right now things are pretty uneventful for us, the holidays are just around the corner and that brings a LOT of activity for our family.  So I will try to take advantage of the slow times, the times where I feel there is nothing happening.  And,  I will try to remember to enjoy all of it, the slow and the jam packed schedule.  The small moments and the huge moments.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Questions that need answering

1.  Is it okay for a two year old to only eat yogurt, applesauce, oatmeal, and cheerios for a week straight?

2.  If the answer to #1 is no, how do you get them to eat vegetables, meat, or other healthy items?

3.  Where do you go to find the answer to the question, "Is my child truly gifted, or am I just biased?"

4.  How cold is too cold when you are getting ready to go camping with an infant and a toddler?  After all, the Indians lived in tents, right?

5.  When should a child switch from a sippy cup to a regular cup?

6.  Will Molly always be this easy?

7.  Will Isabelle always have this much energy?

8.  Will I always feel like a rookie when it comes to Isabelle and a total know it all when it comes to Molly?

9.  How can a parent be sure to take as many pictures and videos of their second child as they did of their first?

10.  Why does Isabelle love to eat ice?  Is this a kid thing or an iron thing?

11.  Will anyone answer my questions???

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Favorite Things Part 1

I was inspired by another blog post to do a list of some of my favorite things.  I think this idea of my favorite things is slightly self centered since it assumes someone cares what my favorite things are, but I am still going with it, because, well, these things are awesome and you simply must get/try them all.

I am calling this post Part 1 since I have WAY more favorite things and since I am certain I will want to share more of them with you at a later time.  I will switch back and forth on Wednesdays doing money saving tips and favorite things.

First up, a baby item.  A really gross, but super awesome baby item.  If you have toddlers who have never been exposed to this, don't start now.  It is NOT Isabelle's favorite item.  But Molly is different.

The nosefrida.
It is a magical snot sucking device that has provided hours of continuous sleep for Molly.  One end goes up to the nostril, one end goes in your mouth.  You suck the snot out.  And while you are never in any danger of getting snot in your mouth, it still seems icky.  Jason said something along the lines of, "up your nose with a rubber hose," which is pretty accurate.  I love the nosefrida and think all moms should own one.  Way better than the bulb aspirator.

Number two is much less disgusting.  Kind of. 



This workout is no joke.  What makes it one of my favorite things is that it is only about 30 min long.  You do need a set of hand weights to complete the workout, but other than that, you can do this at home, get results and don't need lots of equipment.  I can't really make it to the gym anymore, but I can workout.

Ray.  My love.  I don't need to say anything more.  Just buy his CDs.  All of them.  You won't be disappointed.





Lastly, a recipe.  My favorite recipe at the moment.  It makes a TON of food, isn't too hard to prepare, is healthy and Isabelle eats it up!

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/baked-penne-with-roasted-vegetables-recipe/index.html


Delicious.  I would have never known this great meal if it weren't for my friend, Stephanie.  She made this for us when we came home from the hospital with Molly.  We have made it probably 5 times since then.  Just had it on Monday in fact!  You should really try it.

There you go!  Four of my favorite things.  Hope you enjoyed this completely self centered look into what I think is awesome.  Have a great day and see you on Friday!

Monday, October 11, 2010

This and That

So much has been happening around our house.  This past weekend I was able to get away for a night and attend the Girls Getaway with our church out at Dry Gulch.  I went with my sister, my niece and my friend Stephanie and we had a GREAT time.  We enjoyed great food, great teaching, and great weather.  I wish it had been two nights instead of one! 

While I was gone, Jason's mom came and stayed with Jason and the girls.  They took Isabelle and Molly to a pumpkin patch and got some great pictures.  Isabelle could have cared less about the pumpkins.  She was fascinated with the goats and sheep. 



I might have mentioned that Molly had her six month checkup last week.  She was in the 54th percentile for weight and 76th for height.  Pretty similar to Isabelle except I think Isabelle was a little chunkier at her six month checkup.  I am currently in the process of making a first year scrapbook for Molly and this is one of the pictures I took for the six month page.



Isabelle always wants a bow in her hair if Molly has one in hers.  Otherwise Isabelle will have nothing to do with hats, headbands or bows. 

The swing set is finally complete.  In Jason's defense, it was only lacking a swing to strap the girls into instead of a regular swing.  Isabelle still has a little difficulty figuring out big kid swings.  So on Saturday, Jason and his mom went to Toy's R Us and got a great pink swing!  Isabelle is in heaven.  She fell asleep in it on Sunday morning!  I wish I had a picture of that!!!

And lastly another cute picture of Isabelle!  She was so excited to see her favorite person, Caitlin, this weekend.  I think it has been three weeks since she has seen Cait on a Saturday night.  Isabelle is a BIG fan of her cousins, Caitlin and Buzz.



After a fun filled weekend, Molly and Isabelle are both under the weather.  Molly started feeling sick on Friday night, Isabelle on Sunday.  Hopefully both will feel better soon so we can get out and enjoy the cooler weather before it heats up again this weekend! 

Friday, October 8, 2010

The fair

I would like to start by saying I hate the fair.  I hate the midway and the smell and the rides and well, all of it.  I hate the fair.  Perhaps if I could stomach the rides or if I liked donut burgers or other such similar food, I could get on board with the fair, but currently none of those things are true and I still hate the fair. 

There is only one upside of being at the fair and that is people watching.  I love people watching regardless of where I am, but the fair is like hitting the jackpot of people watching.  I wish I would have taken a camera in order to do justice to the things I am about to describe, but I didn't.

First, a reggae banana.  Not just any reggae banana, but a HUGE reggae banana.  Like five feet long, stuffed, dreadlocked, reggae banana.  Have you ever seen a reggae banana?  Didn't think so. 

Second, (and hold on to your seats for this) a florescent green, pigtail, dreadlock, headband.  I am assuming that because it was a headband and because it was pigtails, this item was made for women, not men.  I don't think any human should wear it.  Real dreadlocks are bad enough.  Green, pigtail, headband ones are worse.

Next, a Mexican cowboy wearing what can only be described as a jeweled belt.  Not a belt with rhinestones, but a belt that was made completely of different colored square jewels.  Not only was it a jewel-belt, but it was a pastel colored jeweled belt.  My description is not doing this belt justice.  It was sweeeeet.

Lastly, the ref.  I have no idea if he was a real referee or not.  His shirt did not specify if he was a real ref or not.  Just said Ref.  His pants that he was wearing with his ref shirt suggested that he was not really a ref, but my sister would not let me ask.  She said I could not ask without laughing.  Incorrect.  She could not quit laughing.  If you had seen him you would understand.  It was awesome. 

I should mention that we did meet lots of nice, modest, normal and even funny people as well.  However, I think that perhaps this year was the last year I will work at the fair.  Of course I said that last year. 

As a side note, if you like the fair, the Tulsa State Fair is over this weekend, so if you are wanting to go, you'd better get to it!  Stop by the dairy truck inside the Exchange Building for a free ice cream cone while you are at it.  It is probably the only thing at the fair that is free!  Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

So......

As it turns out, coming up with a way to save lots of money every week is somewhat more challenging than I initially thought.  I love saving money, but I pretty much do the same things week in and week out rather than something new and exciting each week.  The savings on Directv was great, and my diaper savings continue on (and if you need diapers right now, if you buy two value boxes at Babies R Us you get a $15 gift card), but really I just work hard to do the same things over and over that I know save money.  So my money saving tips are going to continue, just not every Wednesday. 

Today, until I can think of another wonderful savings, you will get a great way to save money on coffee.  I LOVE coffee.  I would drink a whole pot if I wasn't nursing.  I never knew how much I depended on caffeine until having children.  Now I can barely function before my cup of coffee in the morning.  Lately, coffee is getting more and more expensive.  We buy Folgers in the 33.9 ounce can.  It is $8.59 pretty much everywhere (Walmart, Target, etc.),  EXCEPT  Dollar General. 

I have never been to Dollar General or any similar store.  But I do get the ads with my mail and I saw the ad yesterday and coffee (the same size and brand) is only $6.   I realize most people won't make a special trip for $2.59 in savings, but they also carry name brand laundry detergent, dishwasher soap and other cleaners for much less.  So, it may be worth your while to swing by and pick up your coffee and cleaners, or if you shop somewhere where they price match, just take the ad and voila, instant savings without making a trip to the dollar store!  Which is what I will do instead of making another trip just for coffee.

Next week on Wednesday I am giving myself a break.  Instead of a $ tip, I will bring you a list of my favorite things.  From favorite kid products to music to books to makeup and more.  Saw a blog like this the other day and as a result I am going to do one myself!  See you on Friday.

Monday, October 4, 2010

This is the life

Today was Molly's six month check up at the doctor.  Everything was great as expected.  Pretty boring appointment really, unless you take into consideration Isabelle.  She is a mess, but Molly is great.  Isabelle is not a fan of the doctor's office.  I think it is because she is able to recognize that it is a place we go to get shots!  Imagine how she would feel if she actually got all of the immunizations she was 'supposed' to.  So when we go to the doctor's, regardless of whose appointment it is, Isabelle is less than well behaved.  And because I am not a mom who just lets her children run crazy and scream and carry on, I always worry that our visit will end with DHS coming to get me because someone reported me for spanking. 

I wish you could all be here right now.  I just got off the phone with Directv, cancelling a pay per view movie Isabelle bought with the remote.  I thought turning on Gabba would buy me a few minutes to write...WRONG.  Isabelle is in the living room right this instant with her jeans off and her shirt around her waist.  That girl is constantly taking her clothes off.  Okay, now the shirt is off and she walked in here and declared, "Uh-Oh."  I am pretty sure taking off all her clothes was no accident. 

So with that short bit of information I will leave you all to be jealous of my rockin' awesome life.  Constantly putting clothes back on Isabelle, cleaning up messes and going to the doctor.  In fact, we will be back at the doctor's office next month for Isabelle's 2 year check up.  WHAT???  TWO???  How the heck did she get that old?    Guess I need to start thinking about a birthday party.

And now I am off to re-clothe my oldest daughter, get ready for sales meeting and prepare dinner.  See you all on Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Saving Money on Baby food

I am not totally sure that I haven't mentioned this before, so if I have, I apologize. 

Making your own baby food is a GREAT way to save money.  It is as simple as that.  Making your own baby food is a TREMENDOUS way to save money if you are a crazy organic person like I try to be when it comes to baby food.  Because, in case you aren't aware, organic baby food is more expensive than your regular ol' baby food.

I can hear your objections starting now.  "It takes too long."  "It is too hard."  "I don't have everything I need to make my own baby food."  "I don't have babies."

Only one of those is a valid excuse to not make your own baby food and I am sure it is obvious which one it is!

The truth is, making baby food is remarkably simple, requires only a few kitchen tools, and doesn't take that much time.

For starters you will need either a steamer, microwave, oven or stove.  I am pretty sure if you didn't have a steamer you could cook your foods a different way, but I prefer a steamer to preserve as much nutrients as possible.  You will also need a blender, food mill or food processor.  Lastly, some ice cube trays and freezer bags for storage.  It is that simple.  No fancy kitchen utensils required.

I will not go into details on how to make baby food, but I will recommend the book Super Baby Food, which is a great resource on how to make puree's and other baby foods.    I will tell you that with only a little planning, making baby food takes little time.  And it is super cost effective.

Example: one jar of organic sweet potatoes is about $.79.  You can buy a whole sweet potato for $1.  That one sweet potato when steamed and turned into a puree the correct consistency for a baby will get you about 5 jars of sweet potatoes.  Pretty good deal.  The same is true of almost all fruits and vegetables.  The exceptions I have found so far are fruits like peaches, mangoes, and nectarines.  Vegetables are usually where you will get the most savings.

I encourage you to try making your own baby food.  It is healthier, easy, less expensive and in my case, makes me feel like a good mom.  I know that is weird, but something about putting effort into what my kids are eating helps me feel like I am doing a good job.  Happy pureeing!

Monday, September 27, 2010

FYI

In case I become a famous blogger someday, I am considering using fake names for the girls in my posts.  I have not decided if I will make the same change on f/b, but maybe the blog.  So...what do you think?  Be prepared in case some weirdo is reading my blog and wants to steal the girls' identity, or keep my blog just for family?  I love to blog, but changing the girls' names would make it a little weird in the future if they wanted to read what I have written.

Since I figure I will never be Pioneer Woman famous unless I am prepared to be, I am leaning more towards yes, but I would love your input!  My oldest daughter would be Emma and the youngest would be Claire (decided I would use my other favorite girl names since I don't have two more girls!).  If I change, I would be updating previous posts as time allows.  Hope this doesn't confuse all the relatives, or make people think I am crazy.  Just want to make sure that when my blog is being read by people from all over that I maintain a little privacy!

A girl can dream, right?  Let me know what you think.  Change or no?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hotel Savings

Another Wednesday is here already?  How did that happen?  Seems like this week is flying by.  And, for the record, I am thrilled by that.  I have seen the seven day forecast and fall is on it's way and I could not be happier.  There is actually a day in the 7 day forecast where the high is in the 70's and the low is in the 50's.  That is my PERFECT weather forecast. 

However, Wednesday is not a day for talking about the weather...it is a day for saving money!!!  WHOO HOO! 

Today's great money saving idea is about hotels.  Rarely do we need to save money on hotels these days as we have not traveled much since having Isabelle, but now that I know this great tip, I can be sure I will be able to get a great deal if we get away.

Everyone has heard of Expedia.com.  But did you know about their unpublished rates?  That of course is where you can find the best savings. 

Example:  My father in law and his wife came for a visit over labor day.  She was searching for hotels in Tulsa and saw a line that mentioned unpublished rates.  To make a very long story short, she clicked on the link and was able to specify the area she wanted to stay and the star level she preferred and they showed the price.  You do not see the hotel you are choosing, just an area and a star level with a price when you decide to book.  She booked a three and a half star hotel near Jenks for $39.99 a night.  The hotel?  The Hilton at Southern Hills.  They stayed in a king suite where the regular cost for a night is $239 (according to the website).  Quite the deal.  A savings of $800 since they stayed four nights.  Now I realize most people are smart enough not to pay the full $239 by using a site like Expedia (which shows the average night stay here to be $84), but even using the $84, they still saved $176 by using the unpublished rate.

So next time you need to travel and are looking for ways to save money, try out Expedia.  Don't like Expedia?  Try Hotwire or Priceline or Hotels.com or some other website designed to save money on hotels.  I have heard good reviews from all of them! 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Parenthood

There is something indescribable that happens to a person when they become a parent.  You feel a love you never knew, gain a patience you didn't know you could have, and you develop a tolerance for smells that would kill normal people.  Seriously though, becoming a parent is pretty life changing.  And when Jason and I had Isabelle, life as we knew it was over.  One look at her and we were both totally and completely in love.

When I got pregnant for the second time lots of people talked to me about the awesomeness of love and a parent's ability to love a second child just as much as your first.  I said multiple times that I was not worried about that at all.  Sure, I was worried I would not think Molly was as cute, but I was not worried about love.  And I don't think I was, but I certainly wasn't prepared for how amazing the love for your second child could be.

Lately I have been struck over and over with the miracle that is my love for Molly.  Parents of only one child do not understand the amazing gift that is baby #2.  The overwhelming love and tenderness you felt for the first baby is not simply multiplied by two, but seems to be multiplied by 100.  Looking at Molly I can't believe that the love I felt for Isabelle could be so easily duplicated (and yet totally different and wonderful) with another child.  And don't get me started on what happens to my heart when those two are together.  Seeing Isabelle give Molly a hug and kiss or seeing Molly smile while Isabelle runs circles around her is too precious.

Isabelle is such a great daughter.  When I look at her, I melt.  Sometimes she drives me crazy and sometimes there are days I dream of a nice long vacation, but she is still my punky girl.  Molly is amazing also.  There is something so unique and so different from Isabelle about her.  Molly has taken my heart to places I didn't know it could go.  Somewhere I can only imagine you can relate to if you have had more than one child.  Just to realize that God has given us such a great capacity to love and then to realize how poor our love is compared to His. 

I am so blessed with my two daughters.  I am blessed to stay home and blessed to have my husband support our family.  Becoming a mom is the greatest thing I have ever done and I think one of these days I might find out if the same holds true for #3.  (NOT NOW, just one day!!!!)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cell Phones, Broken Fingers and Sick Kids

Sadly I again did not meet my self imposed deadline of posting on Friday.  It was a crazy day and thankfully it is over.  We are a mess.

Thankfully my mother in law, Debi, was here yesterday watching the girls.  I was originally supposed to have three Mary Kay appointments which turned into one Mary Kay appointment!  Normally I would have used that extra time to make customer phone calls or do data entry or something else job related, but instead I got to spend well over 2 hours dealing with my broken cell phone.  I am currently not receiving phone calls, voice mails or text messages, making life a little challenging when a large part of my business is being on the phone!  Also, I like to talk to my sister during the day and I am pretty sure I missed at least two good opportunities to chat with her yesterday!

As for the broken finger issue....well, that is Jason and not me.  Last Sunday at football, Jason injured his pinkie finger on his right hand.  He maintained all week long that even if it was broken, there was nothing to be done about it anyway, so why go to the doctor.  I urged him to go, but had no luck.  Well....today Jason decides perhaps he should go have it looked at and of course it is broken and not just a little, but majorly broken and now he has to go see a specialist on Monday to find out if he needs a screw to fix it!

Lastly, yesterday Molly started getting a little runny nose.  It has progressed to where I am pretty sure she feels miserable.  She is not sleeping because she can't breathe, not eating because she can't breath and therefore is one tired, hungry, cranky kiddo.  When she was just a little baby she spent many nights sleeping in the swing because of congestion.  I think she has had enough, because even though it keeps her propped up and breathing, she wants no part of the swing today.  I personally think my girls have allergies, but according to the medical community, kids that are as young as Isabelle and Molly can't have allergies so who knows. 

A day late, but I got it done!  Probably not the exciting, funny, inspiring blog I had hoped for, but done nonetheless!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Coupons

Today's blog is great if you are one of those compulsive coupon types who loves to plan your dinners around what coupons you have and enjoy the thrill of getting $100 of groceries for $0.80.  I am not one of those people.  I do however use coupons when I go to the store and I do make a point to find what coupons I can that will help me save a few dollars here and there when I go to the store.

My grandma was a couponer (if that is a word).  She would get her grocery store fliers, her coupons and her list and go crazy.  She was great with money and always had plenty of it because of smart decision making and smart spending habits.  I am pretty sure I saw her, on more than one occasion, go back to a store to get what amounted to less than a dollar back because the store overcharged her for something that was on sale!  Now, I simply don't have time to do that, but I do have time to look online and in the Sunday paper for coupons and you might also!  And so I bring you a few handy websites to help fulfill your couponing goals/obsession no matter how big or small.

http://www.coupons.com/  this is a great website for printing coupons.  I can usually find several dollars of savings.  I only print coupons for items that are already on my list and are going to be used pretty much right away.  If you are a coupon fanatic you can print all of them, look for items already on sale and then use the coupon on sale items and save a bundle.  This requires that you either have the energy to hunt down bargains or that you are willing to plan your meals around your coupons.

www.smartsource.com is another great website for online coupons.  Very similar to the site above.

www.moneysavingqueen.com.  This is really the motherload.  I have saved the best for last.  I went to high school with the Money Saving Queen, Sarah Roe.  She is a crazy woman when it comes to coupons.  On her site you can find matchups (where they tell you what is on sale that matches a recent coupon) to multiple stores including CVS, Walgreens, Reasors, Walmart and Target.  She also posts coupons, and offers for free or bogo offers on her website and on her facebook page.  I have recently scored coupons for $5 off 5 Kraft items, bogo coupons to Jamba Juice, Horizon milk coupons and learned about a way to get free chips and queso from Chili's.  This is a great website and I encourage you to check her out or 'like' her on facebook. 

Using coupons isn't going to revolutionize my spending, but it might change yours.  Some people enjoy the thrill of extreme couponing.  Everyone should enjoy saving money.  Even if you have tons of money that you know you will never spend in your lifetime, you can always save money and give it away, right? 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Updates

Because it is Monday, because Mondays are my day to discuss the kiddos and our crazy life, and because I haven't done an update in a while, here it is...an update on our crazy life!

Isabelle is showing obvious signs of getting ready to turn two.  If you saw us out in public you would for sure recognize her as a two year old complete with a vocabulary dominated by the word NO.  She likes that word.  

Me:  "Isabelle, would you like to eat some breakfast?"

Isabelle:  "No."

Me:  "Isabelle would you like to play toys?"

Isabelle:  "No."

Me:  "Isabelle, stop riding your sister."

Isabelle:  "No."

It is never ending.  She says no even when it is obvious she wants to say yes.  I have tried to stop saying words like no and mine so that she will not repeat them as much.  Who knows if that will work, but I am going to try it.

She is also very close to potty training.  She can tell you after she has gone and can sit on the potty with the best of them, but she will not GO on the potty.  The fact that I just typed the word potty three times is astonishing to me.  What has my life come to that I have this much to say on the topic of potty.  And the truth is, I could probably type three paragraphs about our adventures in potty training.  AHHH..there it is again.  Needless to say, her mother is most likely the issue at this point.  I have no idea how to go about getting a two year old out of diapers.  But rest assured, I have checked out 10 books from the library and am confident one of them can help.  I am hoping it is the one titled, Potty Training in a Day or something like that.  I like the idea of one day.  Can that even be true?

Molly is still the adorable, easy going child I brought home.  Pretty sure she is in the middle of a growing spurt as she has started waking up once at night to eat.  Hopefully that will end soon!  She is getting more of a personality and is making a lot of noise when she is awake laughing and squealing.  Still no crawling, but sooooo close.  We have made no more progress on the rice cereal.  Watching her eat you would think I am feeding her actual crap.  WOW...potty and then crap.  Perhaps I should wrap it up.

Jason and I are...well, sleep deprived.  Jason has been working long hours and had a big presentation last week that went very well.  He is so talented it makes me sick.  Mary Kay is great.  Glad I worked the JBF sale and will probably do it again.  As with everything, you get out what you put in and now that I am actually working again things are looking up! 

We had family in town most of the last week.  Jason's dad was here Saturday of Labor Day weekend through Tuesday and my dad stayed this past Friday through yesterday.  We had great visits with both.  Isabelle is still not sure where PawPaw, Elaine and Poppy are, but I am sure she will recover. 

So all that to say, we are doing great.  Dealing with potty, sleep deprived and busy beyond what we would have ever imagined, but great.  Wouldn't trade it for anything.