Friday, November 28, 2008

Easy-Peasy Dehydrated Apples

My mom recently visited Mercier Orchards in GA and brought me back 1/2 a bushel of apples (about 20 lbs). I thought I would get a chance to make apple butter and apple sauce with them, but there never seemed to be enough hours in the day to pull off a canning operation (mostly because it meant I had to go to the store to get some lids and rings).

So, I decided to dehydrate as many of these beautiful Maya apples as I could. It wasn't very labor intensive and the results were delicious.

I started out by reading several different people tell me how to do it in a dehydrator but since I didn't have one on hand, I needed to use my oven. All of the instructions I found said you had to do it at 140-150 degrees. And well, my oven doesn't go that low so... I present to you, Jennifer's Easy-Peasy Oven-dehydrated Apples:

First, wash your apples thoroughly. Then, slice them in half and scoop out the core of the apple. You can be fancy and use a corer too, but, again, I don't have one. So, I used a melon baller, and then eventually just got them out with my knife.

Then, if you are lucky enough to have a Pampered Chef Mandolin, slice your apples using the v-blade. (If you aren't lucky enough, I'll sell you one.) Otherwise, just slice your apples into about 1/4" slices.

Lay them out in a single layer on something. The online instructions all say you need cookie racks to help with the air flow. I don't have any that are oven safe, so I just spread my slices out on a cookie sheet, and the 2 pieces of a broiler pan. It worked just fine.

Put them in an oven heated to 170 degrees (or as close to that as possible) and set the timer for 60 minutes. If you have one, place a fan next to the over and prop the over door open with a dish towel or wooden spoon. This helps the air circulate around the apples and keeps them from getting soggy.

After 60 minutes, flip your apples and set the timer for another 60 minutes. Your apples may or may not be done, depending on the humidity where you live. Some of my batches were done, and some needed another 15-30 minutes. You will know the apples are done when you break one in half and no longer see beads of moisture. You can also bake them longer and enjoy apple chips too.

Be careful when you make these... even though it takes about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish, the apple slices will disappear in a flash!

For variety, you could sprinkle the apples with cinnamon and sugar, or apple pie spices. I, however, am a purist, and let the taste of delicious apples stand alone. Let me know if you decide to make some apples and how they turned out.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Things I am Thankful For

I really want to write a super meaningful Thanksgiving Day post for all of you to read and get all teary eyed at... but even though I cry at Publix commercials, I just can't get all sappy tonight.

So, let's just say I am thankful for all of the good things in my life and leave it at that.

What are you thankful for? If you wrote a sappy list or shared a great Thanksgiving Day story, let me know in the comments so I can come and be inspired.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire. Hebrew 12.28-29

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holiday Handouts Winners Announced

I had so much fun giving away all sorts of great things and reading the comments everyone left on my giveaway posts last week.

Thank you to everyone who entered and shared the event with your friends and readers. For those of you who subscribed to receive extra entries, thanks too. I hope you will stick around for a few weeks and decide to stay!

Without further ado, here are the winners, chosen via the random integer generator at Random.org.

Three The Secret Mountain Books -
  • Ali #52, Timestamp: 2008-11-27 01:04:36 UTC
Norton PC Tune Up -
2 Packs Bella Sara Trading Cards -
  • Abby #7, Timestamp: 2008-11-27 01:06:11 UTC
Home is Calling Pilsbury Gift Pack -
Mystery Giveaway - Holiday Basket -
  • Amy #21, Timestamp: 2008-11-27 01:07:49 UTC
I'll be contacting the winners either via their blog or e-mail address. Please get back to me as soon as possible, I'll choose new winners if I don't hear from you by Sunday evening. My plan is to mail the prizes I have in my possession on Monday, December 1.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More Baking

I've had so much fun the last few months baking and am glad that I could share my creations to you. Fortunately, no matter how they turn out, they will never show up on Cake Wrecks, I'm obviously an amateur (see above links if you think I'm kidding).

For a Thanksgiving playdate, I made turkey cupcakes with Dove chocolates and candy corn. It was really simple and required no real skill at all. Even if they aren't the most realistic looking cupcakes, I can proudly say that I thought this idea up all by myself while staring at my choices in the candy aisle.


Then, my sister-in-law, Michelle, wanted to take some corn cupcakes (from Hello, Cupcake) to school for her faculty party. I was more than happy to oblige and here are the results. They didn't turn out as good as the originals because I cut the jelly beans in half, thinking that would make them go further and we didn't have any black sugar to stand in for pepper. But I think they still look like corn, don't you. The piece of Starburst butter on the top seals the deal for me.
I've decided my philosophy on cake (up cupcake) decorating is that I don't need to be the best, just better than the people around me. :)

If you want to see some really cool cakes... check out my friend Sherry's CakeLady website. She made the cake for my 13th birthday party! (I'll have to dig up a picture to scan for you!)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mystery Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed.

As I sat around trying to think what would be the best prize to giveaway on the last day of Holiday Handouts, I decided it definitely needed to be holiday themed. That is, after all, kind of the point of this week.

Before I reveal the awesome prize, let me re-cap the giveaways that you can still enter.

Monday's Giveaway - Three The Secret Mountain Books
Tuesday's Giveaway - Norton PC Tune Up
Wednesday's Giveaway - 2 Packs Bella Sara Trading Cards
Thursday's Giveaway - Home is Calling Pilsbury Gift Pack

Now, onto my finale. I am giving away a Christmas-themed gift basket worth at least $50. I can't show you a picture because the contents are a surprise, but it will include items for the home that everyone can use. Younger. Older. Single. Married. With kids or without. I have already purchased some of the items and thought I'd tease you by mentioning that I bought something at the Yankee Candle Company and at Hallmark!

Even though I can't show you the basket, I promise it will knock your socks off! (But don't worry, I have a solution for that too!)

I will randomly draw 1 winner next Monday. There are three ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to three entries:
  1. Leave a comment telling me the 1 item that you think a holiday gift basket like this should have in order to be complete,
  2. Subscribe to my RSS feed, and leave a 2nd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed, and
  3. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post.
That's it. 3 ways to win and 1 lucky winner. This giveaway will end at midnight on Monday, November 24. Read all contest rules here.

Don't miss any of my upcoming giveaways -
Subscribe to Family Musings by Email or Subscribe in a reader

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Guest Review: Creation Science Novel?

As part of my continuing series of guest reviews for homeschooling materials, Tess is discussing a novel written by a home-schooled teenager.

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Missing Link: Found by Felice and Christine Gerwitz has been the latest review endeavor my family has been involved in. This is one book in a series of books called “The Truth Seekers Mystery Series.” Believe it or not, this series has been written by a home schooled girl. She completed it by time she was 17. The topic of the series is Creation Science. I am truly amazed at the story that a young girl was able to create. I began reading Missing Link: Found and was immediately captivated because the setting is in Florida and involved fishing and places I have been to. Beyond those aspects I wasn’t very interested. Personally, I found it a little difficult to read. I don’t think it was for any reason other than I just wasn’t interested in the topic of Creation Science for a leisurely read. I do think though that the debating that goes on between the characters over finding the “missing link” is excellent for when studying Christian Science and teaching our children how to give valid arguments when faced with taking a stand for what they believe. I tried to get my 12 year old son involved but at the time he wasn’t interested. So, my next plea for help was directed toward my husband. He was more than willing to help out. He LOVED the book. That just goes to show you how my reasons for not being interested in the story were just …..personal. He has found it a very easy read and interesting too. I am sure that my son will pick it up before too long.

Until next time, Tess

Home is Calling

This giveaway is now closed.

I've written before about the importance of eating as a family. I even gave some stuff away with my post about Pilsbury Savorings. Now, Pilsbury has given me another great prize pack and I get to share with you for day 4 of Holiday Handouts. And I get to have 3 winners again today! Yeah!

I have 3 Pillsbury Home is Calling
™ gift baskets to give away to 3 readers. The basket includes a coupon for Pillsbury refrigerated crescent rolls, a magnetic coupon holder, a house-shaped mouse pad, pot holders, a cookie sheet, a bread basket and a lovable Pillsbury Doughboy figurine. Isn't that fun! And with Christmas baking coming up, who couldn't use an extra cookie sheet?

And even better, Pilsbury is also making donations to local food banks this holiday season. They want our help too. All you have to do to help them is visit the Home is Calling website and send their commercial to some friends.

Now to the giveaway. I will randomly draw 3 winners next Monday. There are three ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to three entries:
  1. Leave a comment sharing your favorite part of family meals. (Comments that don't address family meals will be deleted.)
  2. Subscribe to my RSS feed, and leave a 2nd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed, and
  3. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post.
That's it. 3 ways to win and 3 lucky winners. This giveaway will end at midnight on Monday, November 24. Read all contest rules here.

Don't miss any of my upcoming giveaways -
Subscribe to Family Musings by Email or Subscribe in a reader

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bella Sara Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed.

Bella Sara, the most successful trading card product ever developed for girls, features horse-themed fantasy cards that offer positive, inspirational messages. Each card, purchased in packs of seven, includes a unique code that activates a virtual version of the horse pictured on the card at the Bella Sara website. Bella Sara taps into young girls' love of horses and offers them the ability to nurture their virtual horses in their online stables, read stories, and play games featuring horses. Bella, the icon of the rand, is a legendary horse in North of North and also appears as a teacher nurturing the young foals.

Baby Bella, a new line of cards recently launched, pairs foals with the original line of horses, expanding the game experience. Baby Bella card packs retail for ~$2.99 each, making them an ideal stocking stuffer for the holidays.

Today, I am giving away 2 packs of Bella Sara Baby Bella trading cards. I will randomly draw 1 lucky winner next Monday. There are three ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to three entries:
  1. Leave a comment telling me you want to enter,
  2. Subscribe to my RSS feed, and leave a 2nd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed, and
  3. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post.
That's it. 3 ways to win and 1 lucky winner. This giveaway will end at midnight on Monday, November 24. Read all contest rules here. Giveaway sponsored by Team Mom.

Don't miss any of my upcoming giveaways -
Subscribe to Family Musings by Email or Subscribe in a reader

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Norton PC Tune Up

This giveaway is now closed.

I love my laptop. It was a surprise gift from my husband in January 2005. He saw how slowly my former laptop worked and didn't understand how I could edit a college newspaper on it and keep my sanity at the same time. I told him I was just practicing using what I have on hand so I dealt with it.

My beloved laptop is now almost 3 years old, and it is showing its age. It doesn't always boot up quickly. Sometimes it shuts down unexpectedly. Or it just gives me random errors that require a re-boot, but no other solution has ever been offered.

Stacy from Mom Central (the sponsor of this giveaway), explains, "All the whirring and unexpected shut downs often have a cause (other than orneriness); incorrect settings, fragmented hard drives, and unused, bulky programs slow down computer performance until you're practically pulling your hair out. Just as our cars need regular tune-ups and oil changes, so, it turns out, do our computers."

We now have an elegant solution to these problems. Norton Premium Services by Symantec connects you with a Norton expert for a hands-on experience in improving your computer's performance.

Recently, I was able to try this service and worked with a young man named Andrew. Andrew was pleasant and knowledgeable as he directed me to load the necessary website and software so he could access my computer. It was a little weird to see things happening on my screen while I sat back, but I knew I could disconnect at any time if I didn't like what I was seeing.

To be honest though, I never felt cause for alarm. Andrew explained everything before he did it and always asked my permission before changing any settings. He ran several diagnostic tests and improved my start up speed. Unfortunately, he couldn't change the fact that I have an abysmal 512 MB of RAM. Along with recommending I upgrade to at least 1 GB, he also made a few other suggestions unique to my laptop's performance.

And not once during the entire process, did I get a sales pitch to buy Norton products. My laptop is already protected by another company's software and Andrew even checked to make sure I didn't have any files on my computer that would thwart its ability to keep my computer safe.

I have been given 3 codes (I know! 3 winners!) to giveaway to my readers so they can experience Norton's customized, personal service. I will randomly draw 3 winners next Monday. There are three ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to three entries:

  1. Leave a comment telling me you want to enter,
  2. Subscribe to my RSS feed, and leave a 2nd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed, and
  3. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post.
That's it. 3 ways to win and 3 lucky winners. This giveaway will end at midnight on Monday, November 24. Read all contest rules here.

Don't miss any of my upcoming giveaways -
Subscribe to Family Musings by Email or Subscribe in a reader

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Secret Mountain Book Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed.

I love finding new children's books to share with my daughter. We visit the library as often as possible looking for new authors and illustrators. So recently, when I received 3 new books from The Secret Mountain publishing, I was thrilled that they exceeded my expectations for both content and beauty. And the fact that they came with music cds to accompany the theme of the book made it even better!

I received copies of Down at the Sea Hotel, A Duck in New York City, and Dream Songs Night Songs from Belgium to Brazil. I am hard pressed to choose a favorite, because they are all inventive, yet simple, stories, but I think I like Dream Songs Night Songs best because of the CD. I really want to introduce my daughter to other languages, even if she doesn't actually learn them, and all of the songs on this CD are in various foreign languages. She needs to get all of those language neurons firing by hearing different sounds.

If I had to choose a favorite based on the story and illustrations, I would choose A Duck in New York City. It is a plucky tale of a little duck who wants to dance on Broadway. The bright colors of the drawings really draw me in, especially the use of blue and yellow.

The Secret Mountain is actually a Canadian publisher that seems to be expanding into the English market, so some of the links on their site are only available in French. (Maybe Edi can translate?)

I have one copy of each of the books, with the accompanying CD, I mentioned above to give away to one lucky reader. I will randomly draw 1 winner next Monday. There are three ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to three entries:
  1. Leave a comment telling me you want to enter,
  2. Subscribe to my RSS feed, and leave a 2nd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed, and
  3. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post.
That's it. 3 ways to win and 1 lucky winner. This giveaway will end at midnight on Monday, November 24. Read all contest rules here.

Don't miss any of my upcoming giveaways -
Subscribe to Family Musings by Email or Subscribe in a reader

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Don't forget to come back tomorrow!

Holiday Handouts starts tomorrow! Check back to find out what I am giving away for Day 1.

If you'd like to share my button with your readers, I'll give you an extra entry into every day's giveaway. That's right, EVERY DAY!

Just leave a comment on this post, with your blog link, letting me know you've Holiday Handouts button to either your sidebar or in a separate blog post.

To share the button just highlight the code in the box below and copy to your blog.



<a href="http://www.familymusings.com"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_ME9eGxuMxiM/SRumdcyN5WI/AAAAAAAABuI/Fo3lzuxPgzU/S180/holiday+handouts+button+200x200.jpg" />


Thanks for sharing! I can't wait for you to come back next week and see what I am giving away!

Guest Blogger: Homeschool Library Builder

Tess, from The Oldschoolhouse Homeschool Crew is back with another review, this time for the Homeschool Library Builder.

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Hi there!!!! I have been asked to pass some information on to you home schooling families or any other families that may be interested. There is a site called Homeschool Library Builder that I think will interest anyone that would like to expand a family library. We all know how expensive books can be and having the right book available right away during a lesson is important. Libraries are great, but sometimes they aren’t convenient. So check out this site for books that are very reasonable. There is a huge selection too. You can find their online store by clicking here.

This is a family run business that has lots of books to choose from. You can search by curricula, subject, and age. They have both used and new books. They have soft and hard cover. Their goal is to provide you with good, quality literature at affordable prices. They even provide a FREE membership that allows you to earn points to be used on future orders. You can also earn points for referrals.

Who doesn’t love a great deal? I guess it comes down to this - Homeschool Library Builder has great deals. You may be a home schooling family that would really benefit from this site. However, you don’t have to be a home schooling family to benefit from this site.

You can also see what other Homeschool Crew members are saying.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Introducing Charlotte to the Kitchen

Admittedly, I've done a poor job of involving Charlotte with tasks around the home. She is at the stage now where she wants to be involved with everything I do. It doesn't matter to her that the tasks take three time as long with her in my arms, or are simply impossible while I am holding her. It is just easier to do things myself most days.

Inspired by an article about age appropriate chores, I've been working on letting her participate more thoroughly in what little I do to keep our household from running out of dirty clothes or food to eat. (Because I don't want to end up like Tonggu Momma.)

The first chore I involved Charlotte in learning how to do is move the clothes from the washer to the dryer. When well supervised, she really likes to do this. Probably because she knows I'll let her push the power and start buttons when we are done. And if you knew the girl in real life, you would understand that she LOVES pushing buttons - figuratively and literally.

Then, during my once a month floor scrubbing, I decided to give her a rag and see what happened. She happily pulled her rag out of the bucket sopping wet and rubbed it all over her little tile. Fun indeed. She ended up soaked, but laughing. So, I'd consider it a win. It made me realize that we should do more water play during the day, and not just at bath time.

And in the kitchen I want her to learn to help as well. I recently tried a new vegetarian recipe that required a lot of mashing. After I got things started and let her watch for a bit, I handed the mashing duties over to Charlotte. She didn't do a bad job and was upset when I finally had to put her down. The masher became a favorite toy for the next day or so (after I washed it of course).

I am sure there are other chores around the house I could involved a 15-month old in, but am at a loss as to what those might be. The article I mentioned above, suggests "simple help with groceries, such as: putting items in shopping cart, helping put items on the check-out conveyor, handing items to you to be put away at home." But, I'm not so sure.

What chores do you think a 15-month old can help with around the house?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Holiday Handouts Nov 17-21

Next week I am doing something extra special on Family Musings. I have a giveaway scheduled every day of the week! Yep, that's right... come back every day between Monday, November 17 and Friday, November 21, and you will find a new giveaway to enter. I have things for your children and for you.

If you'd like to share my button with your readers, I'll give you an extra entry into every day's giveaway. That's right, EVERY DAY!

Just leave a comment on this post, with your blog link, letting me know you've Holiday Handouts button to either your sidebar or in a separate blog post.

To share the button just highlight the code in the box below and copy to your blog.


<a href="http://www.familymusings.com"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_ME9eGxuMxiM/SRumdcyN5WI/AAAAAAAABuI/Fo3lzuxPgzU/S180/holiday+handouts+button+200x200.jpg" />


Thanks for sharing! I can't wait for you to come back next week and see what I am giving away!

Monday's Giveaway - The Secret Mountain Books
Tuesday's Giveaway - Norton PC Tune Up
Wednesday's Giveaway - Bella Sara Trading Cards
Thursday's Giveaway - Home is Calling Pilsbury Gift Pack
Friday's Giveaway - Mystery Holiday Gift Basket

Charlotte Speaks, In Her Own Way

I knew from the beginning of motherhood that I wanted to teach my children sign language. The benefits are well documented and can be found with a simple Google search. We began teaching Charlotte signs when she was 7 or 8 months old. I concentrated on a couple of key signs (milk, all-done) that I knew would enhance her ability to communicate with us her most important needs. I figured that milk was her greatest need, and letting us know she was done with something would prevent us from pushing her past the point of enjoyment, or fulfillment, when it came to food.

Since I knew some sign language from a class I took as a teenager, I just started with that. Eventually, I moved onto using sign language DVDs. My favorite has become the Signing Time series. I sit with Charlotte several times a week and we sing the songs and try to make the signs together. Then, while we are moving along in our daily life, I try to reinforce the signs we've seen on the video, or add new ones as the opportunity presents itself.

The hands on experience has been Charlotte's best way for learning new signs. While we were at Sea World last month, I was able to teach her the sign for cold by having her touch a wall of ice. I would touch the wall, and then sign and say cold.

Some people might be concerned about oral language delays in babies that are taught sign language. I knew that it might be a possibility, but have not worried about it because Charlotte would catch up in the end, plus have her sign language. Then, when we discussed this with Dr. Enlow, Charlotte's pediatrician, at her 15-month check-up, Dr. Enlow told us that she actually considers Charlotte advanced in language because she knows about 35 signs.

The words Charlotte can sign include: bird, ball, cheese, banana, grapes, orange, cracker, shoes, close, open, apple, hug, love, drink, ice cream, mommy, daddy, baby, girl, boy, more, play, hungry, thirsty, happy, please, kitty cat, doggie, cold, car, all done, wet, bubbles, signing and hat. There might be more, but I can't think of them right now.

I was surprised at how long the list actually is. Bruce and I have been adding to the list for a day or so and keep thinking of other words that she knows.

While we watch the DVDs, did you know that some local PBS stations used to air Signing Time? But not anymore. I just found out this week that Signing Time is going off the air due to a lack of sponsorship. That makes me sad because I know not everyone can afford the DVDs or other materials, or may not even be aware that they exist. If you personally have any contacts at corporations that might be willing to sponsor Signing Time on PBS, share this blog post from the c0-creator, Rachel. She does a good job explaining the hows of producing a show for public television. (HT: Babychaser)

Here is a short video clip of Charlotte signing bird and learning to sign cold. I'll try to get more video in the next couple of weeks to share with you so you can see what it looks like when my 15 month old uses her hands to speak.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Guest Blogger - Time 4 Learning

I know I have been bringing you a lot of homeschooling reviews lately and thought you might like to know what my purpose was.

First, I intend to home school Charlotte when the time comes. Reading these reviews helps me begin to form my opinions about how I will teach her and what products I might or might not need. Second, my friend Tess had an opportunity to do these reviews and asked me to share my blog readers with her. She has been home schooling her 3 kids for about 8 years and I trust her opinion about what works and what doesn't. I'll be sharing more about Tess and her experiences as a stay at home, home schooling mom soon.

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Time4learning.com is the website I am going to talk about today. This is an online curriculum that covers all the core subjects that you would want for your kids. This could be a great “green” way to go. After all, there are no books. I don’t know exactly how I feel about this. I think my three spend way too much time in front of a screen as it is. I really love the conversation, and contact of the way we do things. I think my kids need to use their imaginations more and not depend on digital entertainment. I did sign up for this though and who knows, maybe this could supplement what we do and teach the kids in a way I haven’t tried before.

The company would like us on the “Crew” to take a different approach in the review. They wanted a weekly review about specific topics. So, here it goes…..I registered. This was a very easy and quick process. All I had to do to get the ball rolling is provide names and ages and passwords for my 3 kids. I also had to answer a few questions in order to place them at the proper level. Within what seemed minutes, I had responses for each child from the company welcoming them.

The next item on the agenda was to view the “Getting Started” guide. There I quickly learned of some other ways to use their site. They had suggestions for after school and summer use. Well, that is more like it. I can see where this site can be very beneficial to keep the old stones rolling and free of moss. I learned that you can track your child’s progress and even print out reports. The staff also makes themselves readily available for any and all questions you may have along the way.

As always you can check out the Time 4 Learning site or visit the Homeschool Crew post to learn more and see what others are saying. I will be back next week to tell you what we have liked and not liked about the site during the first week. Tess

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Making the Switch to Being a SAHM

Lately, I've been feeling like a failure as a stay at home mom. I have always been very focused and driven and thought those traits would carry over into being a full-time homemaker. But, for some reason they haven't.

My house is never as neat as I want it to be.

The books don't get read as often as I'd like.

The crumbs on the floor aren't vacuumed up as often as they should be.

Outdoor playtime gets pushed back until it is too late and too dark.

Lunches aren't as interesting, if they even get packed.

The toys never quite make it back into their appointed place.

Charlotte's clothes aren't as neat as they could be and should probably be ironed.

My blog languishes from a lack of attention.

I feel less informed about world events than ever before.

My stack of books to read is growing taller than Charlotte.

I struggle to fit all the things I want to do on our schedule.

Family time seems to diminish on weekdays with promise of the weekend.

The weekends disappear in to do lists.

Even my husband, who can tolerate a lot of mess on his own, has commented on my lack of homemaking skills. he did it in a nice way though, and he did point out that I still manage to get a hot dinner on the table each night.

But apart than his nice words, I think I seem to suck as a stay at home mom.

I need to get a schedule and some deadlines fast! My business oriented brain doesn't reach optimal performance until I have a deadline headed my way.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Guest Review - Nativity Set

I can't believe I left you, my lovely blog readers, for almost an entire week! I am so sorry... I had posts written, but forgot to take them out of draft. So I guess I'll be busy this week rescheduling several posts so you don't get overwhelmed.

For now, enjoy another guest review from my friend Tess, of The Oldschoolhouse Homeschool Crew. This time it is for a nativity set. I love to have one in every room of the house this time of year as a constant reminder of what we are celebrating.

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Hi again!!!! Tess here with another review from the Homeschool Crew. I was sent a nativity set from the company One2Believe. This company has a real desire to help parents protect their children’s hearts and minds and provide wonderful toys that teach important Bible stories and truths. The company supports several ministries and each member of their team can be read about on their site. You can truly feel that they have your children’s best interest at hand.

The nativity set I received to review is part of their “Tales of Glory” line of toys. It is constructed out of a durable PVC material. This is a nativity set that kids can actually play with. Some other reviewers mention that the star on the stable and the top of the tree snapped on and off. I didn’t experience that, but that may be something to keep in mind if you have children that like to put things in their mouths. It does say on the box that this is a 3+ toy. I did notice on mine (rather my 8 year old daughter did) that the manger had some very sharp edges to it.

All in all, I think this is a nice toy that introduces little ones to the story of Christmas. There are 17 pieces and even includes a storybook. The set sells for $24.99 There are other sets as well. On the products that you purchase, you can collect points that can be redeemed for free products. On the box of the nativity is 3 points. You only need 10 points to begin redeeming.

This would make a nice gift for the Christmas season. I can see how a church Sunday School class could benefit from it. I can see how my home school room could use it. I know that my 8 year old loved it. You can find this nativity at One 2 Believe's website or read other reviews at The Oldschoolhouse Homeschool Crew blog.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Night Freebies

In the past, I've shown you photos and video of our family going to the polls. Tonight though, as I am sure you will get your fill of political punditry, I am presenting photos of all the free food we got today because we voted.

First, the sticker that earned us our free election day food. Charlotte got her own sticker, but not her own food. That's okay, buffalo sauce and coffee aren't really up her alley.

We began our culinary adventure at Shane's Rib Shack. They were offering a free 3-piece chicken tender meal which included a side and a 20 oz fountain drink. This was by far, the most generous giveaway of the evening and a good start to our adventure.
Bruce found their hot buffalo sauce to be a bit much though and he switched to their sweet BBQ. This was our first visit to Shane's and I was really pleased with the meal. It was yummy and I will definitely go back.

Then, since it was in the same shopping plaza, I scored 2 different hot drinks. I received a free coffee at Joe Muggs, inside Books-a-Million. And then we stopped at Starbucks for a free hot tea.

I had initially planned to avoid Chick-fil-A this evening because I knew it would be packed. Charlotte was doing just fine hanging out in her car seat, so we went for it. Here is the crowd, and this is after it had thinned out just a little.
Bruce and I scored our 2 free chicken sandwiches and high-tailed it out of there. When we got to the car, the line for the drive-thru was wrapped around the building 1 1/2 times! Crazy! I was already full from our Shane's dinner and my 2 drinks, so I decided to let Bruce take my sandwich for lunch tomorrow. (Aren't I sweet?)
Our final stop was Wendy's. I had read online that they were offering a free Junior Frosty to voters, and well, this was Charlotte's response when they told us that they weren't participating.
I hope that you took the opportunity to vote today and get at least some free food.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Before You Vote, Read These Posts

I don't get political very often, since I always seem to offend someone who reads this blog. So, this time, I'm just going to share several links that I think are worthy of reading and considering before you cast your vote. This is not an exhaustive list of what I've read and been informed by during this election cycle, but, in my opinion, these are some of the most important links. And lest there be any confusion about who will be getting my vote for president...



Voting the Issue
Joseph is a Single-Issue Voter, Denny Burk - This might help some understand why abortion is the single-most important issue facing some voters, including me.
Abortion is About God, John Piper - "Abortion is an assault on the person-forming work of God. Children are a gift from God. To reject them through abortion is to reject him."
Correspondence on Voting and Abortion, Josh Harris - One pastor explains his church's position on abortion. Even though they ignore 3rd party candidates such as Bob Barr, the logic is good.

Women in Politics
A Woman's Highest Calling, Amy Scott - Helped me rethink the calling of women, without condoning Palin's choices.
The Questions Swirling around Sarah Palin, Carolyn Mahaney - She explains the complementarian view of the sexes and how it is that we came to expect women to work.

Voting Christians
John Frame on Christians and Political Choices , Josh Harris - "Each of us should have a large amount of tolerance for other Christians who come to conclusions that are different from ours. Rarely will one issue trump all others, though I must say that I will never vote for a candidate who advocates or facilitates the killing of unborn children."

George Will Interviews - From May, which seems life an eon ago in this campaign, but still valuable
Questions for Obama, George Will
Questions for McCain, George Will

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Tiny Dancer

It didn't take me long to figure out what to do for Charlotte's Halloween costume this year. I love tutu's on little girls and found super-easy tutu instructions on YouTube. It took me about 30 minutes to whip it up and I think it turned out great.

As usual, I couldn't decide which pictures to share, so I am sharing several. The first one is just the tutu. I am modeling it on my denim-covered leg.

Charlotte decided she wanted to head outside to show her tutu off to the neighborhood, even though Halloween was still a week away.


For some reason, her shoe came off. She obviously enjoyed carrying it around. Love that look on her face!

Yep! Momma is still back here taking pictures of you. Don't worry!


Oh! Cinderella lost her shoe. Will her Prince Charming find her in time?

Charlotte wore her tutu around the house and the neighborhood. Then she had some pictures taken at Picture People (view them here). On Halloween, we took her to Truck N Treat at Kathleen Baptist Church. She had the most fun hanging out in the bouncy house. I had the most fun watching her and eating the chocolate candy she was given. :)