Monday, August 30, 2010

Steals and Deals!

You all already know I am a clearance rack shopper who likes to find good deals.  For my friends out there who get excited about these things (and I know some of you who do!), here are a few steals and deals I have found over the past few weeks...

Super Why activity book = 49 cents

We don't have cable (and actually never have since we were married over nine years ago, something that has saved us so much time and money through the years) so any t.v. shows my kids watch are on public television.  One show they enjoy that is very educational and promotes reading is called Super Why.  When I saw these activity books for 49 cents apiece at Michael's, I treated them each to one!

Embroidered t-shirt = $2.99

I am not usually a Charlotte Russe shopper, but I wandered in there last week and found these cute and comfy t-shirts for $2.99.  Got one in blue and one in gray!  Perfect price and style for a busy mom.

Buzz Lightyear table with two chairs = $12.00

This was my favorite deal because it has already been used so much to the delight of my son!  My husband and I were picking up a few things at Walmart when we saw this round table with two chairs on the clearance aisle.  It is the perfect size for a three year old boy, and has a glossy finish so that markers, crayons, and other things can be easily wiped off.  It also folds up and stores easily. We got this for him on his big sister's first day of school, and he has so enjoyed having his own little place to sit and color, do projects, or play.

What steals and deals have you found lately?!  
Happy bargain hunting!

And In Other News, I Found Some Pretty Zucchini

Last week, I found some really pretty zucchini at Aldi.  I mean, some really pretty ones, and of course they were a good deal.

The other night we were having chicken parmesan for dinner so I sauteed several cloves of fresh garlic in olive oil, sliced up two of those zucchini, threw them in the pan and sauteed them, added a can of diced tomatoes, some more olive oil, sea salt, and another clove or two of fresh garlic, and covered it and let them cook a few minutes.  I added some grated mozzarella before serving.

Oh my goodness...this was so good.  So, so good. It reminded me of the side dish you can get sometimes at Carrabba's.  And it was super simple!

So if you find some pretty zucchini somewhere, you may want to give this a try!  Just make sure to be generous with the garlic for that savor...mmm.

By The Way....

By the way,  I have been using this in my coffee on many recent mornings.  Found it at Publix.  Wondered if it would be too strong, but it wasn't. Very smooth, very mild, very tasty!

Just thought I'd pass the word on to my fellow flavored creamer lovers out there!  Currently $1.50 at Publix.


P.S.  My suitcase from our little getaway is still sitting in our room, almost but still not fully unpacked, 12 days later...just in case that makes any of you feel better about some loose ends in your life!

(We're all trying, right?!)

Sending love amidst both the contentment and the chaos,


The Seas Have Lifted Up Their Voice...

Two weeks ago today, our little family headed to the beach for two nights to enjoy some end of summer fun before we sent our daughter to kindergarten.  The day before we left I was getting ready for church and was just really feeling like I needed a special word from God - some of you know what I mean.  That feeling where you long to read something from God's Word that is going to be just right for the day.

I logged on to Our Daily Bread online, and was taken to Psalm 93.  The passage spoke of God's greatness and might.  Verses 3 and 4 of that chapter read as follows...

The seas have lifted up, O LORD, 
the seas have lifted up their voice; 
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.

Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, 
mightier than the breakers of the sea— 
the LORD on high is mighty.

Those verses were on my heart as I spent a few days at my favorite place with my favorite people.  There is no escape I enjoy better than retreating to the beach with my family.  But as I enjoyed our little getaway, when I would glance out into the vast, gorgeous waters I was reminded that their very Creator is infinitely more beautiful and mighty than they, and that even the seas have lifted up their voice to Him in reverence and worship.  

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day of School...

What is a first day of school?

It is picking out 49 cent and dollar items to set a special breakfast table to give her a memorable sendoff, baking those homemade sweet potato muffins she loves and her favorite baked oatmeal to start her day off right, laying out uniforms and packing backpacks and lunches and filling out forms and wondering if you've gotten it all, thinking that your heart is breaking yet feeling happy and excited at the same time, trying to sleep but not really being able to, getting up when it is still dark to get yourself and everything ready before you wake her up to get her ready, waiting a few minutes before getting her ready to just sit in your green chair and hold her while telling her some of the things you love about her and how great she is going to do, hiding your tears and getting her ready and serving her that special breakfast, admiring how darling she looks in those hot pink shoes and braids and recalling how her face looked as a baby, feeling your stomach do flip-flops as time to say goodbye draws closer,  smiling as she skips down the driveway with her backpack on to give good luck hugs and kisses to her grandparents, rejoicing as her dimple shines and her braids bounce with excitement as you take pictures on the driveway and other neighbors carting children off to school smile and wave as they drive by, giving her that last hug and kiss and covering her once again in prayer as her daddy bravely drives her to school because you knew you just couldn't do it, swallowing the lump in your throat and fighting back the tears as they pull off because you truly are excited to see her so excited.

It is settling into the day and realizing just how quiet it is without her around the house, counting the hours and minutes until you get to hear about her day and praying that everything is going well for her, baking homemade chocolate chip cookies because a few months ago she asked if you would ever make cookies for her after school for a snack and you said you would and want to keep that promise, getting butterflies in your stomach when it is time to pick her up, getting those hugs and kisses you missed all day and hearing about how great everything was in kindergarten, suddenly feeling completely and totally exhausted but knowing you will be doing this for another 12 to 14 years or so, eating dinner at Grammie and Paw Paw's and reviewing the day's exciting events, coming home to do her nightly reading and try to put her to bed early when she suddenly stops, turns to you, and says nine words that make your heart stand still...

"Momma, thank you for making this day so special."

Knowing you will never, ever, ever regret any time, effort, prayers, details, and love invested in her life no matter how exhausted you may feel.  Praising God for her tender heart and sweet spirit.  Holding her close and telling her she makes your days special.  Fighting back those tears once again.  Prayers before bedtime.  Knowing tomorrow is another day that will start in the dark and praying that it will also be a good one.  Praying for strength and wisdom for those next 12 to 14 years.  Gratefully acknowledging that this day, this first day of school, and all others are held carefully and protectively in the hand of a God you have loved since you were her age.  Trusting Him for this day, and the next, and the next...and forever.

That's what a first day of school is. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Wheels On the Bus...

Being our last Saturday before Madi starts kindergarten, I wanted to do something special with her as we anticipate this big day!  I did a few simple things to celebrate this milestone in her life and have some mommy-daughter fun...

First, I decorated the tree in our kitchen as a "Back to School" tree.

Second, in keeping with my love for aprons, I made the world's easiest aprons using iron on appliques and aprons purchased from Michael's (using my 40% off coupons of course!).  These are the "I can't sew" versions of homemade aprons!

Then I baked two loaves of pumpkin spice bread and set to work helping my daughter use them to make a School Bus Cake.  We had watched a little video about making one of these via an email I received from Disney Family, and she had been wanting to make it for weeks!  Interestingly, she remembered all the details about the directions and instructions.  I was impressed! 

I love to celebrate, and our first year of school is a big reason to do so!  As we worked on this little cake I remembered how "The Wheels On the Bus" was one of the first songs we taught her as a little toddler, and can still picture her doing the motions and singing in that baby voice.  Those baby days have come and gone, and I am thankful for every moment I have been blessed to share with this little girl, and for the time I have chosen to invest into her life up to this point.  Any moms of babies and toddlers reading this, hang in there - even in the frustration and exhaustion, invest as much time as you can.  Because they were right, it goes so fast. I am sure sending her off Monday will be both exciting and emotional, and I will keep you updated on how things go...please keep us in your prayers!

Love to all.

My Son

My son is hilarious.  

Sometimes he means to be and sometimes he doesn't, but he is simply one cute and funny kid!

We all love (or should I say wuv) how he can't say his L's, making normal words delightful... hearing him say things like wittle, hawewujah,  a wot, Wucky Charms, Buzz Wightyear, Miss Waurie, weg, bweed, wunch, and wearn make us smile every day!

And he always comes up with the best lines.  The other night I was trying to settle my kids down and was reading them the book Ramona's World (Marona's World in Trevor language) when they both got the giggles.  Trevor started full out belly laughing, and just could not stop to save his life.  After awhile, I tried to get him to calm down, and he pursed his lips together trying to hold in that contagious belly laugh. It wasn't working though, and he looked up at me and said, "Mommy my bewwy keeps doing funnies!!"

Which made my bewwy do funnies.  :)

The other day we were driving to church and I was completely exhausted.  I sort of sighed and said, "I'm pooped."  I guess Trevor hadn't heard that expression so he sort of giggled and asked what that meant.  I, with the help of his knowledgeable big sister, explained it in these terms...

"When you say pooped, you mean you are really, really tired."  

To which he replied, "And when you say poop, it means you have to go stinky."

Um, exactly.  

Oh, life with a three year old boy!

I love my son, and am grateful for the joy and laughter he brings to our lives daily!  

Thank you God for Trevor.


The past few weeks have included the surprisingly complicated task of getting my daughter ready for kindergarten.  Let's just say I am super glad I spent a lot of time doing preschool and pre-k work with her over the past few years because there is no time for that now... these are the days of purchasing crayons, tissues, markers, and all the other items on her school supply list; searching for uniform acceptable shorts and pants in her sizes which has been a challenge (evidently they don't make a lot of 5's and 6's, or there are a lot of incoming kindergartners this year in our county!); stocking up on supplies for school lunches; and more necessary tasks to prepare for this upcoming change, including waking my daughter up much earlier than usual to get her ready to be out the door in a world that starts a 5 year old's school day at 8:00 am.  That's been a, hmm, fun one.  Safe to say she is more of a night owl than a morning person!

We're getting there.

One of the most fun things we've had to do is buy school shoes! That was the best. What girl doesn't like to get new shoes?  My mom and I went on the blessed tax free shopping days and took advantage of some awesome sales to get her a few good pairs of shoes (with room to grow of course) that will hopefully last awhile.

I think her favorite pair was the neon pink Converse All Stars I showed to her and she immediately fell in love with.  They were on sale, then half off the sale price (thanks to Rack Room), and perfect for my girl.  I remember when someone in our church gave me a pair of turquoise Converse high tops in the fourth grade, and I bounced into school the next day wearing those bright shoes feeling like I was walking on top of the world!

I think she felt the same way when she put them on.

I want her to feel the same way. 

So we got the neon pink shoes and I referred to them as Chucks, which for some reason she thought was cool.  So for days when we've been talking about school or school supplies with family or friends, she mentions her Chucks with excitement in her voice.

I can only imagine the places they will take her...

And as her mom, I will be praying over the steps she will be taking that they will be on the right path, and that in the spirit of youthful innocence and pure optimism my girl will feel that in those neon pink shoes she is walking on top of the world!

God is God

It is dark.  The sun is not yet up, but I am halfway through my cup of coffee.  The house is cool but with everyone else sleeping peacefully, I didn't want to go digging around for a sweatshirt so I wrapped myself in two beach towels from a pile of laundry I set on the couch last night but just didn't have the energy to fold after a very productive, but long day.

For the past 20 minutes or so I have simply been still.  In my chair, wrapped in towels, slowly taking sips of the hot beverage that starts most days with me, with no sound but the gentle hum of the air conditioner fan, Psalm 46:10 immediately came alive in my heart and I have been sitting, barely moving, and basking in the knowing that God is God.

I am so relieved I am not.  I rejoice that He is.  And I will continue to find moments to sit quietly in His presence and the knowledge of His deity.

God is God.

He is my center.

Even in His greatness, He loves us.

Oh, how He loves us.

And oh, how I love Him.

Friday, August 13, 2010


I have never canned anything a day in my life.  But I have a thing for canning jars.  They are inexpensive, practical, and useful for lots of things such as...

Using as drinking glasses.

Displaying flowers on my kitchen table.

Simple decorations.

Storing snacks.

Adding pizzazz to a party.

And now...saving for a camera.

My camera, which is my most beloved material possession besides my wedding ring, is on its last leg.  I can use it to shoot a photo here or there, but can no longer use it to snap photo after photo as I have become blessedly accustomed to over the past few years.  This surprise gift from my husband has been well loved and extremely well used, but both the lens and body have problems and I know most likely it will cost almost as much to repair it as to buy a new one.  So I have set this jar on my dresser to start saving for a new one.  So far I have $6, woo-hoo!  But you gotta start somewhere!

We used to be good at saving money when we were what my dad always referred to as D.I.N.K.'s (dual income, no kids).  Now that we are T.K.O.I.W.M.B.'s (my abbreviation for two kids, one income, with medical bills - I know lots of you out there can relate, can I get a witness?!) saving is, well, a different story!  

But I'm going to try my best to scrimp and pinch (as I used to read about in my old Ramona books) and pray that my camera will hold out on its last little leg until this jar is full.  This T.K.O.I.W.M.B girl will be learning some more lessons in frugality, savings, patience, waiting, and trust.

I'll be sure to check in with you along the way!  And for you sweet readers, whatever you are in need of right now, I pray that God will provide and you will meet your goals as well.  Let's cheer each other on as we scrimp and pinch and pray and wait together!


If you read the above blog entry Confetti, you know that I started a new Women of Faith Bible study called Encouraging One Another that my sweet (and encouraging!) friend Laurie gave me on her visit.  I'm always in the middle of several books at at time, and now that I have completed my recent study on Leah I am ready to fully dive into this one.

One of the Bible passages the study took me to early this morning was Philippians 2:2-8.  Now, if you have never read Philippians you are in for a treat. With only four chapters this letter is not hard to read, and is filled with themes of rejoicing, thanksgiving, unity, perseverance, knowing Christ, and more rejoicing and thanksgiving!  I love this book.

The passage I read this morning is one that always convicts me though. Listen to verses 3 and 4...

"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or deceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."

Okay, this is hard.  Especially in a culture that screams for us to have it our way because it's all about us.  Living a life where nothing is done out of selfish ambition, where we think others are better than us, and where we aren't that concerned about our interests but those of others...well, that goes against the grain.

And why are we supposed to do this?

Verses 5-8 explain it.  The Bible says that this was the mind of Jesus Christ.  It says Jesus was God, but He made himself of "no reputation" and came to earth as a man, a bondservant in fact.  It says Jesus humbled himself to death, and not just any death, the cruel death of the cross.

Jesus, who was God, came to earth and lived for others to the fullest extent of what that could ever involve.  So if I take on His mind, which as a Christian I want and try to do, that means that I am called not to live for me, but for...others.

So I can be more like Jesus whom I love.

I don't know how many of you grew up in Sunday School like I did, but when I was a young girl  I heard an acrostic for joy that revealed the order of whom we are to live for and serve which went like this...

J.O.Y.  =  Jesus, Others, You  

Yes, indeed.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


My sweet Disney intern friend snapped this photo of me when she treated us to a day at the parks last week.  When I saw it I just cracked up.  

One word comes screaming to mind when I see this picture...CHAOS!!!  There is a reason that word is part of the title of this blog that is my free therapy, er, I mean, I share with you.  ;)

Here I stroll through Disney on the HOTTEST DAY OF MY LIFE and the hugest crowd I've ever seen there, hands down.  At this point I have been on the go pushing this gigantic limousine of a double stroller for about 12 hours.  I have so many layers of sweat on me it's not even funny.  All I want is a Dole Whip pineapple float, because it is simply one of the most refreshing things I have ever tasted in my life and I hope it would cool me off a little.

Of course, it starts melting as soon as it hits this August air, so I am trying to push my stroller through the massive crowds while simultaneously eating my float.  I don't think she got pictures when my float spilled TWICE down the stroller while waiting for the light parade and fireworks, and I had to mop up the stickiest mess I've ever encountered with a handful of baby wipes I happened to throw in my bag.  Do you know what kind of mess pineapple juice makes in 100 degree heat and 100% humidity?!  I ended up throwing the stupid float away after the second spill, and was thankful for the few slurps I got while pushing my stroller through the crowds.


But...also one of the most fun days I've ever spent with my kids.  Watching them meet characters and have the time of their lives brings me so much contentment.

As for coffee, well, I bought a mug that day.  It said, "Mornings Aren't Magical."  It made me laugh. And I used it for my coffee the morning after this 16 hour Disney marathon day.

A cup of coffee with a grand dose of chaos, but even grander dose of contentment stirred in.

This is my life.  And I am grateful.