Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Please Pray for My Mom

Last week my mom was taken to the hospital for a low platelet count. They sent her home on Friday because her numbers had improved after an IVIG treatment and lots of steroids. At her follow up appointment yesterday her platelet count was back down to 6,000 (it had been around 175,000 when she was released last week). So, she was sent back to the hospital. At this point, the plan of care isn't firm, because honestly, the doctor said the body doesn't usually work this way, even when people have ITP, which is what she was diagnosed with a week ago. I'd share more, but since there still aren't a lot of details available I don't want to share my speculations.

Please pray for the doctor's to discover the cause of her low counts and to establish a plan of care that keeps her healthy and active. Please pray for my dad and the rest of our family as we try to support her. Please pray for my mom that she will have peace in her heart and will accept the plan of care that is given to her.

My Mom & Dad

Mom & my niece Rebekah

My mom and her girls
Photo Credit: Abby Blom

Monday, June 27, 2011

Where I Am From

I am from ping pong tables, Tupperware and above ground swimming pools.

I am from a bedroom community with a church every mile down the main street.

I am from the rock garden with a double rocker for enjoying watch the traffic go by.

I am from camping in Key West on Christmas day, curly hair, and a different last name for everyone in my family.

I am from the people who can't say no and don't know how to sit still.

From being the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead and dreams of being a lawyer because I liked to argue.

I am from church when the doors were open, because we couldn't say no or sit still.

I'm from the Sunshine State, broccoli-corn casserole, and homemade ice cream on the back porch during the summer.

From the the person who doesn't know a "white fat boy" refers to a motorcycle and not a person, the man who stepped up when he didn't have to, and the ghost of evil done to someone too small to defend themself.

I am from value of an experience over the physical gift, of going to see a Broadway show instead of renting the movie, and stolen moments of peace and quiet.

Found this meme over at DesignHER Momma, who was inspired by Adventures in Babywearing last week.
If you write one up, would you please share it with me?
Get your own template here

Monday, June 20, 2011

Inexpensive Custom T-shirt Designs

This past weekend we went to the birthday party of a special little friend and I wanted to take a gift that was personalized yet inexpensive. Since I consider myself crafty, I combined a couple of my favorite ideas from around the web with a sale at Michael's and came up with this custom t-shirt for 5-year old Lydia.

To begin with, I laid out the shirt (sorry the colors are funky in the next 2 pictures, I took them at night in fake light) and put a piece of cardboard inside to keep the bleach from bleeding through to the back. Then, with a bleach pen (cost was ~$1.40 with coupon), I free handed a random, girly design onto the side of the shirt.

After about 15 minutes you can see that the color was already started to leave the shirt. After about an hour, the bleach gel had started to dry out and get crusty so I rinsed it in the sink then dried it.

Once it was clean and dry, I used purple embroidery floss to stitch Lydia's name on the front. I did this free hand (I'm sure you can tell), but probably should have drawn out the letters in chalk or something first for a more even appearance. I also stitched around the hem of the opposite sleeve and added a small heart near the top of the sleeve. This sweet little girl can now literally wear her heart on her sleeve. :)

I also added 5 little x's at the bottom because Lydia is now 5 years old.

To package the gift, I bought this purple messenger bag at the Target Dollar Spot and stitched it to match the shirt. The L was freehanded here as well.

Overall, this project took about 2 1/2 hours, not including the drying time for the t-shirt. I did make some mistakes, such as rinsing the shirt too early. If you look at it again, you'll notice that part of  the design on the bottom is a big blob instead of something pretty and whimsical. Also, because the fabric of this shirt was kind of on the thin side, I should have tried to design more space between my lines to make them pop a little more.

I definitely think I'll be making something like this again very soon as it really was simple and easy to work on while I watched the girls. And next time, I'll draw my design ahead of time so I think I'll be able to finish the project in less than 90 minutes. Oh, and  I am Momma, Hear Me Roar was my main inspiration for this post.

What kind of crafty gifts do you like to make as birthday gifts?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Interview with Charlotte

In honor of this special day for Dad's every where, I decided to repeat my interview with Charlotte, but instead ask her to answer these same questions about her Daddy.

  1. What is something Daddy always says to you? - "Good job!"
  2. What makes Daddy happy? - "When I do a good job."
  3. What makes Daddy sad? - "When I do a bad job."
  4. How does Daddy make you laugh? - "His jokes. Like the bunny rabbit one."
  5. What was Daddy like as a child? - "I'm thinking. He liked to go to the potty."
  6. How old is Daddy? - "I don't know, 98?"
  7. How tall is Daddy? - 99 inches.
  8. What is Daddy's favorite thing to do? - "Bake food." (I think she means eat foot.)
  9. What does Daddy do when you're not around? - "He just does what he wants."
  10. What is Daddy really good at? - "He's really good at giving kisses and hugs."
  11. What is Daddy not very good at? - "Putting on head bands."
  12. What does Daddy do for his job? - "Go to work."
  13. What is Daddy's favorite food? - "His favorite food is cauliflower." (?)
  14. What makes you proud of Daddy? - "When he is telling me jokes."
  15. If Daddy were a cartoon character, who would he be? - "Leap" (She was just watching a Leap Frog movie)
  16. What do you and Daddy do together? - "Play games."
  17. How are you and Daddy the same? - "We both wear seat belts."
  18. How are you and Daddy different? - "I was born with magic powers but Daddy wasn't."
  19. How do you know Daddy loves you? - "I heard him say that. He told it to me."
  20. Where is Daddy's favorite place to go? - "To work"
Here is a picture of Bruce and Charlotte during our first attempt at a family camping trip.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Review: Luau Party Games

This summer I am hosting a weekly Mom's Night In (MNI) for some of my friends who have preschoolers at home and need a night out to relax while their hubbies tend to the littles at home (and hopefully in bed!).

For our most recent MNI, we had a slight luau theme to the party and had some fun playing games from I received a complimentary code to download their luau party games pack and you can be sure I downloaded every single game that came with it! We didn't use all of the games because they weren't all appropriate for our gathering type, but the ones we did play were fun.

Our favorite was a fill in the blank game that had more than 30 different sentences to finish. It really helped us get to know one another better and see the ahem, wackier side of some of the ladies. (As an aside, can anyone tell Brandy a real word that rhymes with coconut?!) We also played a fun moo-luau mad lib which tickled the heart of this former English teacher.

One of the other items in the pack that really caught my attention were the party invitations. There were four different styles and they were all cute and quirky while not being cheesy.

As I mentioned earlier, not all of the items were appropriate for our party and I am mostly referring to the ones involving beers of the world and pin the parrot on the pirate. None of the moms are big beer drinkers so it just didn't seem relevant to us and as you can imagine, the pirate game was geared more for the kids than the sober grown ups.

My only real complaint about the luau kit is that younger people (say 30 and below), might have a harder time with some of the celebrity trivia because it seems to be based on older shows and actors. So, if you are entertaining a 20-something or teenage crowd, these couple of games might not be useful, but there is still plenty in the pack to get excited about.

I totally meant to take pictures, but we were having too much fun that night and I forgot to bust out the camera. I can however, leave you with this yummy rice pudding recipe I made to serve my guests. It seemed tropical enough and a good way to use up my leftover rice.

Easy Rice Pudding

  • 1 cup of rice
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large snack box of raisins
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Over low heat, combine rice and milk until it is warmed through. In separate cup, scramble eggs with sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Slowly combine egg mixture into pot with rice and milk. Which as you go to prevent scrambling your eggs. Once combined, heat through and then add raisins.

Pour into small baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. After you take it out, stir it and then let it rest on the counter for 5-10 minutes to thicken up. I think this dish tastes best warm, so serve immediately. Though you can always reheat it for breakfast the next morning by adding a little milk to loosen it up. That is, if you have any leftovers!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using created by Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review giveaway Disclosure.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mantees On Monday

Apparently reminiscing about our trip to see the manatees this past spring, Charlotte decided to draw one this morning. It is now hanging in the art gallery that is my kitchen.

After this, she drew a picture of a dog with no ears. When asked why he had no ears, she said he was deaf and used doggie sign language.

What have your kids been drawing recently?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mary's Sign Language

I've posted before about why I think it is important to teach my children sign language. And when Charlotte was little I posted all sorts of cute, edited videos of her showing off the signs she had learned. But, as with any second child, Mary just hasn't seen any of the sign language love. So, let me remedy the situation right now with this 2-minute video of Mary showing off what she has learned from me, Charlotte, and Signing Time.

Most of these signs came from Playtime Signs so I guess it's time to switch the DVDs out! Oh, and I just found out the other day that Signing Time has come out with Bible Fun: Friends & Play. I might have to add that to the girl's birthday lists!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Gymnastics Playdate

When we first moved to Lakeland, one of my favorite things to do with Charlotte was take her to open gym time at a local gymnastics studio. We even went after Mary was born, but once she started getting more mobile, I found it too hard to keep up with both of them in such a large space. (I know, I'm a mothering wimp when it comes to things like this.)

Fortunately, a play group that I am a part of recently organized a private open gym time at Gym Tek. I was so happy to take them and I think these pictures show what a great time both girls had.

Here, Mary is copying the big girls who were taught to roll down the yellow ramp.

Practicing her first ever hand stand.

Climbing up the wall.

And then touching her nose to the wall like she was taught.

Mary copying her older sister, almost. You'll get there some day Mary. In the mean time, I'm proud of you for hanging here without freaking out.

Maybe her favorite part!

And learning how to skin the cat.

This summer we will definitely be going back to open gym time. It is indoors and both girls really enjoyed it.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Mommy-Daughter Date

I think it is important to spend one on one time with each of my girls. It is a chance to focus on them and not be distracted by siblings needs or wants. Recently, I was able to take Charlotte to another stage show (we saw Annie a year or so ago), thanks to some tickets we were given by a friend with connections. On this night, Charlotte and I went to see Max & Ruby Live with several friends and she had a great time.

And it might have been her first date. But shhh... don't tell her dad! Aren't they cute walking and holding hands?

Waiting for our tickets at Will Call resulted in some funny outtakes.  I have no idea why she is making that face!

Charlotte loves being grown up and handing things to adults. Like the tickets. And do you think Jesse is excited?

Since the tickets were free, I splurged on a small popcorn.
 "Is anyone coming? Do I have to share?"

"Ahhhh... it's all mine!"

"Hmmm.... smell that buttery goodness!"

Amy & Jesse, because we all need pictures of us with our moms, even when they are usually the ones behind the camera.

Me and Charlotte. But she didn't want her picture taken just then.

Charlotte was fascinated by the big projection. And she insisted I take a picture of it.

Oh yeah, the stage show. It was only okay. Let's just say I am glad we didn't pay for our tickets.

The end was the best part for the kids because they were all invited to get up and dance. And dance they did!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Easy Peasy Homemade Donuts

In case you hadn't heard, last Friday was National Donut Day. You better believe that was a holiday we celebrated at the Family Musings house!

I remembered my mom making homemade donuts when I was a little girl but had never done it myself. The process is simple enough if you aren't afraid of a pan of hot oil. I even convinced my almost 4 year old to help me. Ok, I didn't really have to convince her, she loves donuts!

Here are the ingredients you'll need to make easy peasy homemade donuts:
Ingredients: Neutral flavored oil, canned biscuits, plus toppings. I recommend powdered sugar, cinnamon & sugar, and homemade frosting* with orange extract for a bright touch.

Tools: Hands, high sided pan for frying donuts, slotted spoon for taking donut holes out of hot oil, chopsticks for taking donuts out, and cookie cutter or other small round device (I used a medicine cup and it was perfect!)

First, you need to flatten the biscuits. Great step for the littles to help with! Then, use you cookie cutter or medicine cup to create the donut hole. Set the middle part aside because you'll be cooking this part too. The holes were everyone's favorite so if that is the case in your house, then you could just cut the biscuits into 4-5 pieces and fry those.

I suggest you have all of your toppings ready to go before you fry anything. It is best to try and add the coating on while the donuts are still hot. It will stick better that way.

Carefully add the donuts to your hot oil. I don't know the exact temperature I used, but it took about 5 minutes on medium high to get to the right temperature. If you oil is too hot, your donuts will be dark brown and empty in the middle. This is not good eats. It should go without saying, but there are 2 important steps here - 1) Keep you child away from the hot oil. This is not a job for kids. 2) Lay the donuts down in the pan away from you because the hot oil might splash and you don't want to get burned either!

Finally, once they come out of the oil, let them drain for a moment and then roll, dip or coat them in the topping of your choice. For the donuts I found it easiest to spread the topping on a plate and then lay the donut on top. The donut holes coated easiest in a bowl with a spoon to turn them. And really, this is an adult job too because these donuts will still be hot. This is what you'll end up with!

Now for the close ups.

The beauty shot of my frosting.

And the powdery goodness of sugar.

These donuts take no time at all to make. And while they aren't even close to healthy eating, they are a super fun treat that you can make at home on a random Friday night or Saturday morning. I think these would be a great first day of summer treat for students who are just finishing up their school year.

*Frosting Instructions - Mix a few tablespoons of powdered sugar with a small splash of milk. Add a few drops of orange extract (or vanilla if you like a more traditional frosting), and then stir all together. It will be a little runny and that is fine. Drizzle over your favorite baked good.

Do you have any easy peasy recipes? What treats are you cooking up for your kids this summer?

Monday, June 06, 2011

Review: Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunblock & $2 off

Memorial Day Weekend 2011
My husband is addicted to sun screen. He always wants to know where it is or how soon he can get it. If we have an outing planned that will involve more sunlight than you get walking from the car into the mall, then he wants sun screen.

I complain about it a lot because it is another layer of things to do before we can leave the house and get onto the fun. Really though, I am glad he is doing what he can to avoid a future with skin cancer. Especially because he is pretty adamant about the girls getting sunscreen too. And now it is an almost normal part of our routine before we leave for outdoor play dates.

In an effort to ease our schedule, I've tried several different kinds of sunblock. The worst was some baby sunscreen towelette that was supposed to be just open and wipe. Actually, it was gross and greasy and had way too much lotion on it to be easy to use.

Generally though, I've just pushed through the fits from the girls and made them wear sunblock. Then, when I was contacted by Mom Central to review the new Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunblock, I jumped on the chance because it was a spray on product that seemed like it would be quick and easy to reapply. And I may put the sunscreen on the girls before they get to play, but I can't remember ever reapplying it when I should have. (Thank goodness neither has ever been burnt though!)

I received 4 bottles of the new sunblock - SPF 30, 50, 85, and an SPF 70 spray that was formulated for kids. The press materials explains better than I could how it is that this sunblock can be applied on wet skin:
Using Neutrogena's patented Helioplex Technology, in combination with unique waterproof technologies, the Wet Skin product cuts through water, forming a protective barrier on skin and provides superior sun protection from damaging UVA/UVB rays.
I've used our bottle of the SPF 70 sunscreen several times and it still feels like there is a lot left in it. It went on easily though I don't recommend spraying it indoors. I'm thankful to have it as we enter the months when the sun seems to be the worst here in FL. I shared a couple of more thoughts in this 2 minute video review I made as well. 

I totally forgot when I made this video that Neutrogena is offering $2 off all of their sunscreen products when you order online. And I should add, I may be cheap and enjoy getting a great bargain, but having sun burnt kids isn't worth saving $3-4.

Since I already shared in my video what we'll be doing this summer, why don't you leave a comment and tell me about your summer plans?

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Neutrogena and received sunscreen and other Neutrogena products as a thank you for my participation.”

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Another Celebration Today

Not only am I celebrating 1,000 published posts today, but my friend Amy is celebrating her 29th birthday today!

Amy, owner of Dearie Designs is celebrating her birthday today with a special giveaway! She is an amazing paper crafter and a Stampin' Up consultant. I've purchased many of her items over the last 2 years to use as gifts or for myself and all of them are beautiful and unlike other crafty things I've seen online.

She writes:
As a thank you for your support, any online or emailed orders placed on June 1st, 2011, will be entered into a drawing for a goody package including hand stamped cards & gifts from Dearie Designs, paper/supplies pack by Stampin' UP, and the new Stampin' Up Idea Book 2011-2012, when it arrives July 1st ~FREE!
Details: Orders count when either placed in my online shop through my Stampin Up web site or emailing me with your SU order OR purchases of DearieDesignsitems for sale in my etsy shop.
Feel free to subscribe to her blog, Dearie Designs too! I know she'd think a few new followers are a lovely birthday present. She shares paper crafting tutorials that are easy to follow as well as great for gift giving.

1000 Posts

I can hardly believe that this post is number 1,000. That's a lot of writing y'all!

My very first post was on Friday the 13th in April, 2007. But I love my second post even better because it has a picture of my mom the moment she realized she was going to be a grandmother.

Over the years I've shared lots of stories, reviews, and even thrown in giveaways to keep it fun. Here are some interesting statistics:

I've really enjoyed writing at Family Musings even if sometimes I do get in over my head with lots of product reviews to write. (I currently have several in the queue, just trying to space them out some.)

This blog has also had a lot of different outfits. Some of them better than others of course... and as a way to celebrate publishing 1,000 posts (including this one), I am getting another custom blog design. Tara, from Our Princess in Pigtails is taking on the task of designing a new look for Family Musings. I just do not like using the template from Blogger and letting my home on the web look like everyone else's.

I chose Tara because I liked the work I saw her do for others. I also chose her because she had reasonable prices. Finally, she had access to such a wide variety of scrap book kits that I knew I would find something that could perfectly reflect the look and feel I wanted. I decided on this purple and grey kit from Ninth & Bloom.

We haven't started the design process yet, but hopefully we'll have it all up and ready to go by the end of the month!

Feel free to leave a comment to help me celebrate 1,000 published posts! I'd love to hear your feed back on the blog, my new design, or pretty much anything else!