December 15, 2013

A Fun New Twist on an Old Kids Party Game

I randomly saw a picture of this online and decided that I had to try it when the time was right. Well, with all this Christmas partying going on, I found the opportunity and I just can't wait!

A dear friend helped me put it together and purchase all the goodies. Here's how we did it:

We used one entire roll of Scotch brand packing tape, 38.2 yards to be exact, and started taping the toys and candy together to form this giant ball:

We included prizes that wouldn't be ruined when ripping off the tape:

  • Toy trucks, cars, and tractors
  • Hair accessories
  • Candy Canes
  • Erasers
  • Sunglasses
  • Magic Washcloths
  • Jumping Frogs
  • Play-Doh
  • Stacking Crayons (with plastic shell)
  • Necklaces
  • Festive Flexible Straws
  • Flashlights
  • Toy boats
  • Rubber Duckies
  • Wacky Balls
  • Glow Sticks
  • Wind-up Toys
  • Candy on a Ring 
  • And in the center: Silly String! 

 How to Play:

You'll need music (several songs).
Have the kids sit in a circle.
When the music is playing, the kids should pass the ball around.
When the music stops, whoever has the ball may unravel as many prizes as he or she can!
When the music starts, have an adult nearby to cut the tape, fold the end (so the next kid can find it), and discard the trash.
Keep going until the ball is gone!

What I love about this is that the kids can see all the prizes, but they can't tell which ones they'll be able to get. It makes me want to be a kid again. :-)

If you try it sometime, come back and tell me how it went. Thanks!

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Sugar Cookies

My mom has made these cookies every year at Christmas for as long as I can remember and I can't tell you how fun it is to make them for my family now. They are so soft and sweet and delicious!


1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
2 heaping teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 heaping teaspoon cream of tartar


1. Mix sugar, butter, egg and vanilla.
2. Stir in remaining ingredients.
3. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
4. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
5. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. (photos below)
6. Flatten each ball with the bottom of a glass dipped in granulated sugar. Sprinkle with colored sugar if desired.
7. Bake for 8-10 minutes (I bake mine for about 7 minutes).

 The dough should be firm when you take it out of the refrigerator.

 The bottom of the glass is dipped in sugar.

 Press gently, not too hard.

 We like to add festive and colorful sugars, too. :-)
 When they look like this, take them out of the oven and place on a cooling rack. They are fragile, so be careful not to let them crumble as you take them off the cookie sheet.

And enjoy!
Merry Christmas!

December 9, 2013

God, Give Me Patience With This Child

It started last week, suddenly. At first I thought it was cute, but soon it started to be just plain scary.

My little boy has discovered his ability to destroy things and is fully enjoying it. I didn't really think anything of him crushing his goldfish crackers to dust between his thumb and index finger. I mean, it's harmless, right? Well, then he cracked the screen on my computer. Then the found out how to climb up on the counter tops. Then he smashed a rather large flowerpot to smithereens. Then he discovered where we keep the silverware. Then he shoved my phone into the sub-woofer. Thank goodness it's wasn't dead! I got it out after removing just a few screws. It's gone on like this for the past few days.

I get no rest when he's awake because I'm terrified that he's going to get into something dangerous and hurt himself. Suddenly he's gone from reading books and building towers to searching for breakable things to destroy. To be honest, I've been at my wit's end over the past few days. Stressed. I've raised my voice. I've tried so speak reason to a baby...he responded by looking at me and giggling like I was funny. I've felt like I've lost my mind.

Well, after he smashed my pretty flowerpot this morning, I had had enough! It was time to get out of the house and let him expend some of his energy elsewhere. I just couldn't take any more destruction! So we loaded into the car and I turned on my favorite Christian radio station...and what do you know...the most perfect verse came over the airwaves:

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2

I just love those little moments when God puts things right in front of my face so that I can't possibly miss what He's trying to get me to see. Patience. Gentleness. Patience. Humility. Patience. Love. Patience. Bearing with one another. Patience. 

After all, as I sit here typing with this cracked screen, I've realized that it's just a screen. It can be replaced. I can replace the flower pot. I was able to find my phone. I can lock the silverware drawer. It's going to be okay. My precious boy, whom I love with all my heart and soul, is just learning boundaries and his new found strength. I can...and I must teach him those boundaries without getting so stressed out. I must set an example of humility, gentleness, patience and love even in the hard times.

Thank you, Lord, for this verse today, for putting my day in perspective, and for teaching me how to be a better mommy. And please help me remember it tomorrow.

November 24, 2013


So many people are posting about all the things they are thankful for every day. I wish I could keep up with posting one every day, but it's just not possible in my current season of here's my little thankful post for the season:

I'm thankful for big things in my life, things I can't life without. My Savior. He restores my soul. He forgives me. He loves me. He molds me continuously. He died and rose again so that I may spend eternity in His presence. I am undeserving and blessed. My husband, my perfect match. The only man on this planet who loves me just the way that I need it most. He's a strong man of God, quick to apologize and forgive, and an excellent father. I really don't know what I'd do without him. My precious son. My joy. Who knew how much richer life could be with a child? I can't even comprehend how much I love him and how thankful I am for his life. My family. From the youngest to the oldest, I love them all!

I'm thankful for extra comforts and blessings. Our fluffy puppy. My living foot warmer, companion, and constant watchdog. Our house. A continuous project that feels more like home with each project we complete. Our church. So thankful for pastors who preach the truth and members who have hearts to serve the Lord. My job. Oh, I have the best job title in the world: Wife and Mommy. Granted, it's 24/7 on duty, but worth every moment. True friends. They are hard to come by, but I am thankful for the ones I have. Distance and time can't separate us. We pick up right where we left off, no matter how long it's been since we last met.  New friends. It's always fun getting to know new people and finding new friends who have the strangest things in common.

I'm thankful for things I take for granted too often. Food. Enough said. Convenience. Thankful for things like a washing machine, microwave, and air conditioning. Can you imagine life without all the conveniences we enjoy today?  Prayer. Thank you, God, for listening to me. Christian radio. Because I don't want my kid listening to Miley Cyrus. Veterans. Thankful for those who have served in the past and who are serving now. They protect my freedom. They are so important. Freedom. I wonder sometimes why God allowed me to live this my life in this wonderful free country. What a blessing! May I not let my freedom go to waste. Opportunities to serve. It's incredible how many opportunities there are to pour love into the lives of others. It's overwhelming at times, but I'm thankful to be able help others.

I'm thankful for the small (big) things. My fireplace. Warm socks. Hershey's Kisses. Camping. Nights with no TV. Roses. Sweet smelling lotion and candles. Sweatshirts. Kleenex and Advil. Wireless. Sparkly nail polish. Long walks in the woods, on the beach, in my neighborhood (anywhere, really). Coupons, clearance, and free shipping. Swimming pools. Fast food. Not-so-fast food. Down comforters. Power steering and heated seats. Good movies. Luxury hotels. And my Mom's home cooking (especially Christmas tree cookies and made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls).

I'm especially thankful for that first group of Pilgrims who dared to leave all they knew, sailed across rough seas, nearly froze and starved, and watched their friends and children die of sickness and infection all so they could be free to worship our God without oppression and persecution.

It's not just about the turkey and football. Let's not forget.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

November 23, 2013

Recipe: Honey Apple Pork

I recently experimented with some pork chops, using this recipe as a guide. The reviews were great! The pork is stuffed with apples and honey, topped with brown sugar and cinnamon, and baked in a combination of apples and apple-cider vinegar. It smells heavenly and tastes just as good!

Honey Apple Pork

4 thick, defrosted port chops
2-3 apples (I used Granny Smith)
4 Tbsp honey (approx.)
3 Tbsp brown sugar (approx.)
2 Tbsp cinnamon (approx.)
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (approx.)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. On a cutting board, slice into the center of the pork chops, making sure not to cut all the way through (but deep enough to fit the apple slice).
3. Cut the apples into thin slices.
4. Place 10-12 apple slices in the bottom of your baking dish.
5. Place the pork on top of the apple slices and fill the slits with honey and at least 2 apple slices each.
6. Top with cinnamon and brown sugar to taste.
7. Pour apple cider vinegar in the bottom of the baking dish (optional). You could use some lemon-lime soda or apple cider instead of the vinegar if you prefer.
8. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly. Be careful not to overcook or it will be too dry.
9. Drizzle some of the juices and baked apples on top before serving.


November 20, 2013

DIY: Reupholstering Dining Chairs

Several years ago, an extremely kind coworker gave me her dining set. She was moving and gaveit to me practically brand new, refusing any payment, knowing that I could never afford a set as nice as this. I believe she knew the mere pennies I would be taking home as a new teacher and I think she felt a little sorry for me. Anyway, Susan, if you're reading this, thank you so much for the dining set! You can't even begin to know how many fun times have been had around this table.  

Alas, the upholstered chairs are starting to show some wear. We had them professionally cleaned last year, but it didn't really do much good. They were ripe for some fresh upholstery. I finally got around to tackling the job a few weeks ago. 

You can see the original, white upholstery on the left and the new upholstery on the right. 
I chose a colored, striped fabric for a few reasons: (1) it's durable, (2) it'll help camouflage minor stains,  (3) it matches the color scheme in my dining area, and (4) it was on sale.

See? These chairs have seen better days. It was starting to be just plain embarrassing.

To do this project I used the following tools, compliments of my husband: both types of screwdrivers, a staple gun, extra staples, a staple remover (which wasn't as effective as the flat-head screwdriver), scissors, and a hammer. Oh, and the fabric, too.  I bought 3 yards, but ended up using only half of it for 4 chairs.

I measured how much fabric I would need to cover one cushion, adding a few extra inches to be safe. Then I cut it, laid it upside down, and chose which part of the pattern would be the center of my new cushion. You can see my hand here, showing the wide blue stripe as the middle.

I removed the seat cushion from the chair frame by simply removing 4 screws. Easy.

I placed the cushion on the table, checking my fabric placement again.

I stapled the new fabric right on top of the original upholstery. I used the original staples as a guide. That part was easy. I started in the front and center and moved toward the corners, pulling the fabric tight and even as I went along.

The corners were more difficult, as I'm not a professional. I played with the folds until I found one that would work. I could pretty easily replicate this fold on all the corners. I can't really explain how I did this, but I used many staples in the corners: pull in to place, staple, move a quarter of an inch, pull into place, staple again, and so on.
After I finished stapling, I hammered the staples flat (some were sticking up a little), and then I trimmed the excess fabric.

And here's how it looked when finished. You can see that in the end, I went with the green stripe as the middle.  The corner folds aren't perfect, but I don't think they're too noticeable, either.

And here I checked to make sure that my lines were straight. The tricky part about upholstering with stripes is making sure they are perfectly straight. Remember the staple remover? Yeah, I had to pull them out and start again a few times. I did the best I could, and I'm pleased with how it turned out. :)

So there you have it, two of my newly reupholstered chairs! They feel so much fresher now.

You don't have to be a professional to do it yourself. With a little time and patience, you can save a lot of $$$!

November 18, 2013

Fun Find: Plush Pile Kid's Rug

It's really challenging sometimes to have expensive taste and a slim decorating budget. Here's my strategy: I look for products that I love from my favorite designer stores, make a mental note of the prices, and then keep an eye out for similar products with a much lower price. Sometimes I have to wait for a long time to find the right price, but when I finally find what I'm looking for, it's totally worth the wait.

Recently, I found a rug for my son's room that I've been searching for for several months now. I mean, compared to this and this, I scored a great bargain at $79 from my local warehouse club. It was the only one left, so I had to bring it home. We love it!

To make it even better, we added a thick rug pad underneath that serves three functions: (1) it prevents the rug from slipping and moving, (2) prevents the bright colors from bleeding onto the carpet, and (3) adds an extra layer of cushion for my little baby boy.

You just never know when you'll stumble upon just the right thing! :-)

You can see more of our little man's nursery here.

Have a great day!

November 11, 2013

Recipe: Chocolate Cookie Crumb Pie Crust

Feeling Adventurous? If you'd rather not buy a pre-made cookie crust for the No Bake Peanut Butter Pie, here's a recipe to make one from scratch:

Oreo Crumb Pie Crust

20 crushed chocolate cookies (Oreos or something similar)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter

1. Melt the butter.
2. Mix the ingredients.
3. Press firmly into a 9-inch pie plate.
4. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool before adding filling.

Your pie will be extra special with a homemade crust, but it might be less expensive to buy the pre-made version. Just a thought.

Have fun!

Recipe: No Bake Peanut Butter Pie

This is my husband's all time favorite dessert. It takes about 10 minutes to throw together and tastes great!

No Bake Peanut Butter Pie

  • 1 pre-made Oreo cookie pie crust
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Cool Whip (or heavy whipping cream)
  • approx. 1 cup Cool Whip, grated chocolate, and/or chocolate syrup for topping (optional)

To make the filling: 

1. Allow your cream cheese and Cool Whip to soften for at least 30 minutes.
2. Mix  cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, whipping cream, and vanilla until smooth.
3. Gently pour mixture into crust.
4. Top with remaining Cool Whip. Add optional grated chocolate and/or chocolate syrup.
5. Refrigerate. For best results, refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Easy as pie! ;-)

Want to make your own crust from scratch? Click here for an easy recipe.

November 10, 2013

My Hope America with Billy Graham

Billy Graham, known as America's Pastor, celebrated his 95th birthday this week. Happy Birthday, Mr. Billy Graham! If you haven't watched his special message yet, please do.

Please join me in prayer for our great nation, under God, and for all those who are suffering and alone, without the peace of God in their hearts.

November 2, 2013

10 Things I Never Imagined I'd Say as a Mommy

Ah, motherhood. Rewarding. Demanding. Fun. Hard. Awesome and surprising. Some of the things that have come out of my mouth as I care for my toddler son make me shake my head and wonder, "did I actually just say that!?"

Here are some of my favorites so far: 

1. "How on earth did your shoe get in the kitchen sink?" 

2. "Eat your carrots." I hate carrots. But they are good for him. If anyone ever hears me tell him to eat his brussel sprouts, you might as well lock me up. I'll have gone mad.

3. "Please don't eat the flowers." Life is so unfair.

4. "Stinky, stinky, stinky! Peeeee uuuuuuuu!" It's impossible to hold your nose when changing a diaper...

5. "The trash can is not a toy!" What is it about the dang trash can?!

6. "Don't suck on the washcloth." Because rubber ducks are boring, apparently.

7. "Son, we don't put pillows in the bathtub."

8. "Give me the snake!" It's a toy, but still!

9. "Honey, it's broken. Things break when you throw them down stairs." And I'm secretly thankful that I'll never have to hear that toy beep again.

10. "Yay! You pooped!" You just can't understand this until you're a mom, but once you are, you totally get it.

I'm sure that a few months from now I'll have another list to compile for you.  There's never a dull moment around here...and I wouldn't have it any other way! 

October 24, 2013

Recipe: Easy Chicken Pot Pie

My husband is a picky eater and I rarely find recipes that he is excited about eating. Well, this one did the trick and it made my day!

Easy Chicken Pot Pie
Prep Time: About 30 min
Baking Time: 50 min
Serves 6-8

2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2-3 cups cooked, shredded or diced chicken
3 cups frozen mixed vegetables (corn, green beans and carrots), slightly thawed
3 cups southern style cubed frozen hash browns, slightly thawed
1 can (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent roll dough
1. Cook the chicken. (I just cooked mine in a bit of olive oil and salt)
2. Start thawing 3 cups mixed veggies and 3 cups hash browns. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
3. While the chicken is cooking, mix soup, milk, sour cream, chicken stock, pepper, parsley, and thyme.
4. Shred or dice your cooked chicken, then add veggies, potatoes and chicken to the soup mixture.
5. Spoon it into a greased 9x13 casserole dish.  
6. Unroll the crescent roll dough. Use a pizza or pastry cutter to cut the dough into half inch pieces. Create a lattice look by laying the strips over the mixture. 
7. Bake uncovered for about 50 minutes until bubbly and golden. 

October 23, 2013

Seeing the Signs of Human Trafficking [2]

Last month, I wrote about how to know if your community is at risk for human trafficking. I learned that it's happening in my community, which absolutely horrifies me. Click here to read more about that.

When I attended a training recently, I learned of many ways to get involved and how to notify authorities. I'd like to share some of those with you today. The information I am providing was presented by Women At Risk International, during the Civilian First Responder Training that I attended.

How To Report Human Trafficking and Abuse:

  • If you suspect a case of human trafficking, call the national toll-free Human Trafficking Resource Center: 1-888-373-7888.
  • If you suspect sexually abused or exploited minors call The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: 1-800-THE-LOST
  • You can also call Women At Risk International: 1-877-END-SLAVERY.  
  • Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network: 1-800-656-HOPE

Helpful Websites: 

Here's a little of what you might learn at a Civilian First Responder Training:

Keep your eyes open and don't be afraid to report something that doesn't look right. You could be that one person who sees the unseen.

October 22, 2013

Why I Choose A Relationship Over Religion

Yep. I said it. I loathe stuffy, judgmental religion.

Religion says that I have to do certain things or act a certain way to gain the approval of God and other religious people. I can only have fun when doing [these things] but it's just plain wrong to do [these things]. You fill in the blanks. Here are some that I've come across over my years of meeting many religious people:

  • You can have fun swimming, but only if you wear a one-piece swimming suit.
  • You can listen to music, but only certain genres.
  • You must wear shorts that cover your knees.
  • You can use swear words, just not around your church friends.
  • You can get drunk, just make sure to be at church and pay your tithe.
  • You can "court", but "dating" is for heathens.  
And this list could go on and on.

It's stuffy.

It's hypocritical.

It's far from having a relationship with Jesus.

I choose to have a relationship with Jesus. I communicate with Him through prayer and His Word. He speaks to my heart, guides my paths, and takes care of me in ways I could have never imagined. He has restored me more times than I can count. You see, I don't pray to a statue or a dead man. That sounds pointless and silly. I pray to a living God who actually answers my prayers (although not always in the way I would prefer...but that's another topic entirely).

Jesus accepts us as we are. He loves me. Period.  He can look right into my heart and know where I have sinned when nobody else has a clue. He also knows that what some religious folks label as "sinful" is actually not sinful at all because He knows my heart.

Sin starts in the heart and shows itself through actions. Sometimes I sin in areas where others have no trouble, and I avoid doing certain things for the preservation of my own soul and relationship with Christ. I don't swear because it feels (and sounds) like the opposite of love, joy and peace. I try to follow God's laws and listen to the convictions that He places on my heart, rather than just following the church crowd's behavior. Of course I fail. But I try.

There are many verses in the Bible that guide us toward living a life for the Lord. There are verses about how men and women should behave, alcohol use, fellowship, and sin. There are verses about pride, envy, murder, theft, and adultery. There are  verses about lying, cheating, paying taxes, and loving money. Did you realize that it's possible to follow these rules and miss out entirely on a relationship with Jesus?

Isn't that religion by definition? Religious rules are a prison. A relationship with Jesus means FREEDOM.

Rather than worrying about the rules, I focus on drawing closer to God. Once I admitted my sinful nature and recognized that I am nothing and going nowhere without Jesus, I asked Him to dwell in my heart. I surrendered my life to Him. I asked God for forgiveness of my sins. I gave Him all of me. Ever since, He has been there with me. I am never alone, never hopeless, never forsaken. I am forgiven, loved, and made new. That, my friends, is a gift of grace than no man could ever give. There is nothing I can do to earn it. Only God can work in my heart this way.

He can work in your life, too. All you have to do is ask. It will change your world in ways that you'd never dreamed. It won't be easy all the time. In fact, you're guaranteed hardships. But...Jesus will be there to walk with you through it. You'll never be alone again. And at the end of this hard life, you'll see Him there at Heaven's gate, welcoming you HOME.

October 21, 2013

Shopping For The Perfect Drapes

If you're like me, you want your home to feel custom but you don't want to spend a lot of money and you probably don't have a lot of time to shop around. Curtains are an easy way to add a custom feel and character to any room. Sure, you can buy generic curtains from any home store or you could be really adventurous and create your own. I fall somewhere in the middle. I love a custom look but I'm not a seamstress, so I opt to order them.

I love this company: Country Curtains. They will send swatches free of charge. They have many styles, patterns, and price points (but they tend to cater to a more traditional style). I think they are higher quality than you would find at your local home store. The best thing  is that you can have the samples (swatches) delivered to your door and all you have to do is choose the right one, measure, and place your order.  It's great to be able to feel the texture and quality of the different fabrics before placing an order. Being a busy mom now, I love the option of shopping like this without having to step foot in a store.

You can also order extra fabric if you're being really adventurous and want to have custom pillows or upholstery done to coordinate with your drapery. Lots of fun options!

I'm working on a project now and ordered a bunch of fabric samples, some of which you can see here:

All of my favorite samples went home with the homeowner so she could try them out in the space, but it won't be long before we're all done and I'll share the finished product!

Don't be afraid to play with fabrics and patterns and colors on your windows. It's not hard to find a custom look- just try a company that offers free fabric samples and extra fabric by the yard to get the ball rolling.

Happy Decorating!

October 14, 2013

Forgetting Labor Pain

They say you forget all about the pain of childbirth when you hold your newborn. This was not the case for me. I must be a wimp because I remembered it vividly for at least six months. When my precious boy was around a year old, I remembered it, but a little less vividly. I remembered it enough to know that I didn't want to go through it again any time soon.

And now, several months after that, I'm finally starting to forget about it. I was beginning to think that I might never forget, that I might never be "ready" to have another child. This morning I realized that thinking about childbirth didn't automatically cause me to relive the pain. I mean, I remember that it wasn't pleasant but I can't actually remember the specific pains. Weird.

Here's what I do remember: being completely exhausted and really, really swollen. Somehow, pain is not part of the equation anymore. And somehow, childbirth doesn't seem nearly as difficult as I used to remember.

Does this mean that I might be ready to have another baby?


I still remember vividly how hard it is to function on 3 hours of sleep.

Nope. Not yet.

I'm treasuring these days with my only child, these days where I can give him my undivided attention. Honestly, I still feel like I'm learning so much about being a mom. And we are settling into a routine, getting long, restful nights of sleep, and starting to enjoy getting out and about with other little ones his age.  It's a wonderful time and I don't feel the least bit bad about admitting it! :-)

October 12, 2013

4 Totally False Myths About Baby Boys

I suppose it's natural that many women dream of dressing their real life babies up in frills and dresses, putting bows in their hair, and finding matching shoes for every outfit, even if they will only fit for a few weeks. I was one of those.

When we found out that we were having a baby, I suddenly didn't care whether "it" was a girl or boy; I just prayed for a healthy little one.

And then we found out that we were having our precious baby boy and I realized that I had let myself believe some really silly myths. Let me save you some trouble and debunk these myths for good.

1. Baby boys aren't as fun to shop for as girls.  I'm naturally drawn to pink, floral, and frills. I'm not naturally drawn to blues, trucks, and least not until I had a boy. As it turns out, shopping for my boy is totally fun. I love to dress him up in preppy little boy clothes. His feet grow so fast that I get to buy him new shoes frequently...and I buy them to match his preppy little outfits. I absolutely LOVE looking for new toys that he will enjoy. It's actually hard for me to walk away from a store without all the fun things that I want to spoil him with.

2. Girls are sweeter than boys. I have no idea where this myth came from, but I see it emphasized often, especially with stuff that says, "Boys: a noise with dirt on it" or "Sugar and spice, that's what little girls are made of. Frogs and snails and puppy dog tails, that's what little boys are made of". Some people may think it's cute, but I think these little sayings give little boys a bad wrap. My little boy is precious. For the first year of his life, I rocked him to sleep every night because that's how he wanted to fall asleep. He loves it when I give him kisses, read him stories, put extra bubbles in his bath, and take him to see animals of any kind. He is noisy, but he is so cheerfully noisy that I love it. And we are learning that he actually doesn't like being dirty. Playing in dirt: yes. Having dirt on him: no. Boys are incredibly tenderhearted.  You can make them feel on top of the world or deeply hurt. Boys are just as sweet as girls, maybe even sweeter. They are different, but equally precious.

3. Boys are always wild and crazy. Ok, boys can be wild. Boys are wonderfully energetic (which can be exhausting, there is no hiding that fact), but they are also calm. For example, my precious boy is calm and cuddly and as sweet as he can be when he wakes up in the morning. He loves to get a few big hugs and then plays quietly for about half an hour. He is quiet and calm when he is eating (and he eats a lot), when he naps, when he wakes up from a nap, in the bath, when I read to him (and I read to him a lot). He is energetic but I think that his lack of fear is more exhausting. I'm always watching him closely because I know that he will attempt things without thinking for a second of the dangers that await, like plunging over the back of the couch head first. Sometimes I think we confuse boys' lack of fear with wildness. It's a learning process for moms everywhere. :-)

4. Baby boys will pee all over you when you change their diaper. Maybe this is true for some moms, but it's not been true for me at all. He's gotten me twice, maybe three times, and it's been well over a year now that I've been changing his diapers...thousands of diapers. Seriously, it's not anything to worry about.  I don't even know why people make such a fuss!

So if you are nervous about having a little boy, or if you are just finding out that you will be blessed with a precious little man, have no fear!  Boys are wonderful. You are blessed.

Check here for a great resource on parenting boys.

October 7, 2013

Easy Fall Centerpiece

Remember this photo?
See more fall decorating here.

I have been searching for just the right arrangement for this little pumpkin basket...and I found it this weekend!

I found the flower arrangement at Target, complete with a pretty mercury-glass-looking vase for a fairly reasonable price. The best part is that it fits perfectly and it's just the right amount of orange, green, and red to make the pumpkin basket "pop".

Happy Fall!

October 6, 2013

Fun Find: Antique Vanity Tray

One Saturday morning, my husband and I decided to take our little family out to explore our town. We happened to find some adorable antique shops (which I love hunting through). And I happened upon this little vanity tray for just $10. Obviously, I had to take it home.

 So now I have a great little place to set my earrings and do-dads without cluttering the bathroom counter too much.

Definitely a fun find! :-)

Have a great day!

October 4, 2013

Fall Decorating!

Well, I figured it must be time to break out the fall decorations when I went shopping and saw all of the Christmas displays in full glory. Thus, fall has arrived at our house. I've inadvertently started a little theme with pumpkins and sunflowers, and of course, berries!

I think it's more fun decorating for the seasons with a little one in the house. New colors and textures all around! He loves it.

Fall wreath on the front door
Tutorial here.

 Who says wreaths can't be inside, too?

 I love this centerpiece. It just doesn't get old.

This new pumpkin basket needs something more, 
but I haven't figured out exactly what to put in there...yet. 

 A little splash of color on the mantle. 

I love these new lamps! Decorating this table was more fun this year. 
Finally, it seems to make sense.

I found little, fall thingymabobs at Target in the dollar bins. Score!

It's easy to change the stems in this basket to fit the season.

And we're ready for Trick-or-Treaters! The candy will NOT be opened until the 31st!
At least that's the plan...but it wouldn't hurt to have just one little bite, right? ;-)

Happy Fall!

October 1, 2013

Parenting: Discipline

Click here to get the book for yourself.
It's pretty much official. We have a toddler. Honestly, I am loving the toddler phase for many reasons. He's more independent, he's developing a sense of humor, he is sleeping through the night, he is learning so much every single day, and he is starting to talk! I love it!

But there is one thing about this stage that is especially difficult...the temper tantrums. We (the newbie parents) are still learning how to deal with them. Thank goodness for our own parents who have been through these stages before and can help us figure them out!

My mom gave us a great book about learning to discipline in a Biblical way. There is one thing that we read that was particularly helpful to me.  So simple, yet so important. It's exactly the way I will explain our rules to our son.
Ready for it?

It'll go something like this:

"Son, I didn't make up right and wrong. God did. He gave us rules to follow. You have to obey them and I do, too."

So simple!  I didn't create right and wrong, but I will help my child follow God's laws. It's my God-given responsibility as a parent. Rules in our house will have an eternal and Biblical perspective. For example: no hitting is a rule in our house, but we have that rule because of God's word:

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32

As I grow as a parent and encounter many instances where I have an obligation to discipline, I hope that I can continually explain why we have certain rules to my son. It will require me to be well versed in what the Bible says. It will challenge me to live according to God's laws in a much more conscious way.

Hopefully it won't create an authoritarian atmosphere, since God is the ultimate authority and our sweet boy will witness his parents submitting to God regularly. Hopefully it will help our son to understand God's rules are meant for our protection. Hopefully he will learn God's character and love in a way that will eventually lead to the most important decision of all: accepting Christ as Lord and Savior.

Have a great day!

September 30, 2013

Recipe: Almond Sheet Cake

If you love almond flavor, you will not be able to get enough of this cake. Actually, I can't make it very often because I will eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's SO good and SO easy!

Helpful Tip: My mom taught me that the secret to making a great cake is following the recipe exactly, adding each ingredient exactly in the order that the recipe calls for it. It will make your cake so much more moist and delicious!

Thanks to Sweet and Savory by Sarah for this recipe and photo!

To make the cake:

1 cup butter
1 cup water
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
2 tsp. almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a small sauce pan, boil the water and butter, remove from heat.
3. In a separate bowl, mix flour and sugar.
4. Pour the boiling mixture over the flour and sugar. Mix well.
5. Add baking soda, almond, sour cream, and eggs. Mix well.
6. Pour the batter into a greased 9x13" pan.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the middle is set.
8. Allow the cake to cool completely before adding icing, about 2 hours.

To make the icing: 

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. almond extract

1. Boil the butter and milk in a small sauce pan, remove from heat.
2. Add the powdered sugar and almond to the mixture. Mix well.
3. Pour it over the cake, as evenly as possible.