Saturday, May 26, 2012

Happy Sixth Birthday, Sarah Beth!!

Today Sarah Beth's sixth birthday.  It's hard for John and me to believe that we have a six year old child because it seems like just yesterday that she was Mary's age.


Sarah Beth is such a big help for me.  She loves to help set the table, and she frequently asks me what she can do to help me.

Sarah Beth loves doing school, as well.  Of course, we have some difficult moments, but once I explain things to her in a way that she understands, she is off like a shot.  We have had so much fun doing school this year!

Like most (all?) six year olds, Sarah Beth has a silly side.  She specifically wanted me to share this picture with you.  She was so proud that she could balance that little box on her head.

I enjoy watching Sarah Beth with Mary.  She is so gentle and kind with her, and I try to encourage her to spend time with Mary.

I look forward to seeing how Sarah Beth grows and matures over this year.

Friday, May 25, 2012

3 in 30: Sorting Galore!

We took the week off from school and most non-pressing chores.  I knew that we would be out of the house a good bit, so I didn't want to make us more anxious than we needed, trying to fit everything in.  It was a fun week, and it was nice to be more relaxed with our daily tasks.

Here's how I did with my monthly goals:
  • Walking on the treadmill.  I used my treadmill three times this week which is close to my goal of four to five times.  I'll be honest:  I just overslept one morning.  *Sigh*
  • The playroom.  Our playroom is not completely neat, but we are picking it up a little bit everyday after playtime.  Since that is my goal, we're doing well.
  • Sorting something.  After I confessed last week that I didn't do too well with this goal, I caught up on Friday afternoon and moved ahead on Saturday.  On Friday, I got all of the sorted clothes put away finally, then I tackled the armoire.  With the window men here to babysit, I mean, to distract my children, I went through all of their coloring things in the armoire.  I found lost crayons, dried out markers, and colored pictures by the hundreds.  (Well, it felt that way.)  My children, especially Sarah Beth, feel like they have to keep every single picture they have ever colored.  I took the opportunity to throw some of them away.  On Saturday, John took our older two children to look at a boat, and I went through their books.  There weren't many that I wanted to get rid of, but I did put away the Christmas and Easter ones so we can pull those out at the appropriate times of the year.  This week I emptied a box of games; it had been waiting for me since we moved into this house.  Amazingly, it only took me about fifteen minutes; so why had I waited so long to empty it?  *Sigh*
What did you accomplish this week?  Do your children hang on to their colored pictures like they are treasure?  Do you procrastinate with chores that end up only taking fifteen minutes to complete, or is it just me?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My New Hobby: Soapmaking

If you've been reading my book reviews lately, you have probably noticed that I've read a couple of books on soapmaking.  I have wanted to try my hand at this craft for a while now, and I finally took the plunge.  For my birthday, I asked for the tools I would need.

Soapmaking is so much fun!  Well, the process itself isn't great (it's not bad, either), but the finished product is least, I hope it is.  I haven't tried mine out yet because it needs another week or so to finish curing.  But I love just looking at my soap, the soap that I made all by myself, and dreaming of the time when I can use it.  I plan to try it in another week or so.

When I was trying to figure out what scent to use (because you can't have unscented soap; how boring!), I asked Sarah Beth for her opinion.  I was thinking of a floral scent, but Sarah Beth suggested strawberry.  I thought that was a great idea, and so we have pink strawberry soap.  The whole house smelled like strawberries for days after I made my batch of soap.  Yum!

Have you tried making your own soap?  Have you tried any other "forgotten" art like this?  What did you think of it?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Double The Recipe

Some dishes are just better with some kind of bread to go along with them:  things like Ham and Spinach Pie, chili, and Slow Cooker Corn Chowder.  I enjoy baking, so I like to serve homemade cornbread muffins or honey muffins with these dishes.  However, I don't always have the time or the inclination to make these muffins when I prepare one of these meals.

So I double the recipes when I make them.  Ta da!  Then I can freeze the ones we won't eat for the next time I need them.  It's so easy to pull frozen muffins out of the freezer and microwave them for a bit, and I honestly can't tell a difference.

Do you double your cooking or baking so you can put the extras in the freezer?  What types of food do you double?

Friday, May 18, 2012

3 in 30: Still Doing Well

It's been another busy week.  Hmmm.  I wonder if that's my new "normal."  Definitely, something to think about.  Anyway, the electricians finished up their work Tuesday, so we have lots of light, new ceiling fans, and new smoke detectors.  Hooray!  I also drove over to see my aunt and one of my cousins Wednesday, and we had a great visit.  Today, we're getting new windows.  (Remember, I told you this whole house needed to be redone, and we've started!)

So, how did I do with my monthly goals?
  • Walking on the treadmill.  I used my treadmill three times this week, instead of the four or five I wanted.  I'm going to blame my not-quite-making my goal on my children; I had to get up early one day for a doctor's appointment with one of my children, and Mary woke up early and hungry one day.  Three times' not bad, though.
  • The playroom.  We've done a pretty good job with tidying up the playroom almost daily.  
  • Sorting something.  Not so good.  I have put up most of the clothes that I sorted last week, but I haven't started anything new.  I am hoping to sort the kids' books tomorrow as John plans to take the older two for a day trip.  I want to get rid of some and put away the Christmas ones.
In other news, Mary is getting her first tooth.  I look forward to that snaggle toothed grin!  She is also learning to roll from her back to her tummy.  Yea!

How was your week?  What did you get accomplished?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mary is Five Months Old!

Mary turns five months old today, and five month olds seem to do more than four month olds.

Mary is turning into such a happy baby, although if you just see us out, you may not see it.  She likes to sleep in her bed, and when it's time for a nap, nothing will do but her bed.

Mary has been turning over from her belly to her back.  Hooray!   Except for when she's trying to sleep.  Sometimes, it's hard keeping her on her belly long enough for her to get to sleep.  And when she is able to roll over in the middle of the night, she decides she would like a little midnight snack.  Other than that, however, Mary sleeps through the night.

But she has also rolled over a couple of times from her back to her stomach.  Hopefully, it won't be long before she's able to do it on demand so I won't have to.  (Is that bad and lazy of me?)

We love having our little baby Mary around, and it is so much fun to watch her grow and develop.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Finished Object Friday: Table Runner

Our beautiful dining room table is finally in a good position to show it off.  At our last house, the dining room was a pass-through to the kitchen, so we tended to drop things on it.  In order to protect the table, I kept a pad on it and covered it with a table cloth.  At this house, however, our dining room can be seen from the front door, but you can't walk through it; it's a dead-end.  So we can show our table off without worrying about hurting it.  But it still needs something on it, I think, so I started this table runner.

While this table runner isn't "finished," I thought I would show it off anyway.  I've done a lot of work on it, and I still have a lot left to do.  Working with thread is harder than regular yarn, but I enjoy it, too.  It's more time consuming and delicate, but the finished product can be really nice.  We'll just have to wait and see how this one turns out.

What have you made lately?  For more Finished Object Friday (which is now monthly instead of biweekly), head over to Fresh from the Chari Tree.

Booking It: April Edition

While this month has been busier than usual, I was able to get more read than last month.  Of course, it helps that I was almost done with one book, another one was very short, and the third one kept me reading to find out what would happen.  Here is what I read this past month:
  • The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp.  The Sound of Music is based on this book.  While there are a lot of discrepancies between the book and the movie, there are some amazing similarities.  This book tells the wonderful story of a family who pulls themselves up by their bootstraps after leaving their home in Austria before World War II starts.  If you like the movie, you should read this book.  I read this book after a recommendation from Tracey at Girls to Grow.
  • Smart Soapmaking by Anne L. Watson.  This book is a great one for beginners as it walks the reader through the entire process of making soap.  However, this book is probably too basic for seasoned soap makers, but I found it very helpful since I'm just starting out with this hobby.  I especially found the first recipe with step-by-step instructions very helpful. 
  • When the Saints by Dave Duncan.  This book concludes the story started in Speak to the Devil where the brothers Magnus, especially Wulf, were trapped in seemingly impossible situations.  What a great conclusion!  As with the rest of Duncan's books, everything works out in the end.
  • The Charlatan's Boy by Jonathan Rogers.  This was a fun, interesting read.  You can read my review here.
I forget to write about the chapter books that I read with my oldest daughter, but the latest one is Betsy-Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace.  This delightful series tells fun stories about little girls at the turn of the century, the 20th century.  

What have you been been reading lately?

This post is linked to Booking It at Life as Mom.

Friday, May 11, 2012

3 in 30: Another Good Week

It's been another busy week at our house; we had electricians come in to give us more light in almost every room in our house.  The only room that didn't need more light was the dining room.  Apparently, the man who built our house didn't like much light, and the subsequent owners didn't, either.  But it's been bugging John and me that our house is so poorly lit.  Hooray for better light!

As far as my goals, I've had another good week this week.
  • Walking on the treadmill.  I walked on my new treadmill four times this week.  Whoohoo!  I'm amazed at how much better I feel when I exercise a little bit, even though it means I have to get up earlier.  Very nice!
  • Spending a few minutes on the playroom.  My older two children and I have done well with this goal.  We spend just a few minutes everyday after playtime picking up toys that aren't being used.  I don't make them pick up the train track or building they just built, but the extra blocks and tracks can be picked up instead of scattered all over the floor.  Just a few minutes worth of work makes a big difference in the neatness of the playroom.  Again, very nice!
  • Sorting something.  I finally got to that pesky box of outgrown clothes.  I sorted it, but I have not put everything away yet.  Hopefully, I'll get to that today.  It's all out of the way, however, in Mary's room on the spare bed.  So while this goal doesn't get a "very nice," I think it's about halfway, don't you?
If you're wondering about Rachel and potty training, she really couldn't be doing any better.  She has not had an accident since last week, and we've even gone a couple of places:  church on Sunday, MOPs on Tuesday, and church again on Wednesday.  No accidents!  She is still using her little potty, but I think next week I'll start making the transition to a regular potty.

What did you accomplish this week?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Book Review: The Charlatan's Boy by Jonathan Rogers

Grady has lived his whole life, at least the part that he recalls, with Floyd who is a huckster.  They travel from town to town tricking people out of their money.  The main attraction is the "he-feechie" that Floyd caught years ago; this he-feechie is a dressed-up Grady.  This life is the only one that Grady knows, and he wonders who he is, where he came from, how he got mixed up with Floyd; but Floyd isn't telling.

This book was a quick, fun read.  The character of Grady pulls you in and gets you wondering, wondering the same things that Grady wonders.  And you wonder if Grady will ever find a home and someone to love him.  The language the book is written in just adds to the character and fun of this book, as it sounds just like how Southern "good ole boys" talk.

If you would like to read the first two chapters, you can find them here.  And you can find Jonathan Rogers' website here.

I want to thank WaterBrook Multnomah for my copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Banner Week

This week has been a banner week for me.  Whoohoo!  Hooray!  and Yippee!  The first thing that got me excited was Rachel, and the second was my new treadmill.

Please bear with me while I brag on Rachel for a few minutes.  She has had an amazing week, and I am so proud of her.  Even though we quit the potty training thing a couple of weeks ago, Rachel obviously wasn't ready to stop.  She kept wanting to sit on the potty even though she didn't do anything in it.  So I decided to take the diapers back off, and she is doing great!  She has had a couple of accidents which is to be expected, but wow! is she doing great!  I've even put pull-ups on her when we went out a couple of times, and she has stayed dry.  I'm so excited and proud of my little, I mean, BIG girl!

But now for my goals for the month:
  • I bought a new-to-me treadmill this week, and one of my goals is to use it four or five times a week.  I'm so excited about this because I hadn't been able to figure out a way for me to exercise.  John leaves for work at 5:30 a.m., and I just can't get up any earlier than that to walk in our neighborhood.  With four little children, I can't really walk and get exercise.  And I'm just too tired to exercise in the evenings after they go to bed.  So now I can get up a little earlier and exercise to get my day started.  Whoohoo!  We got the treadmill Tuesday evening, and I used it Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings!
  • We have a wonderful playroom.  The problem is that the kids like to play with all of their toys without cleaning any up.  So I would like to start having them spend a few minutes every day cleaning up the playroom a little bit.  It doesn't have to be immaculate; as a matter of fact, I think one of the benefits of having a playroom is that you don't have to clean up the train track you built today.  You can leave it out and play with it again tomorrow.
  • My third goal relates to more sorting of things.  I enjoy making lists and checking things off when I complete them, and making a list on my blog keeps me accountable to you.  For this month, I would like to sort that (pesky) box of clothes that my children outgrew last year and I still haven't gotten around to dealing with.  Also, I need to go through our armoire; it holds the children's coloring things, and when I looked through it the other day, there were lose (lost) crayons and markers, coloring books with all the pages colored, and even a spiral notebook without any pages at all.  And I still have a few boxes from the move that need to be unpacked.  I would like to sort one thing a week this month...but I haven't gotten off to a good start.  I haven't done anything toward this goal this week.  (Maybe I'll blame that on the potty training.)
How was your week?  Good?  Bad?  In between?  What did you get accomplished?  I'm off to a tea party at church tomorrow; what are your plans?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

April Review of Yearly Goals

I've been writing a good bit about my goals lately.  Sometimes, it seems like the only way that I get anything done is to write it down and have you keep me accountable...not because I'm lazing around, but because I'm just plain busy.  But I know that you are, too, and that's just a fact of life for us stay-at-home-moms, isn't it?

Anyway, it's time to review my goals for the year. I think I'm doing pretty well so far this year, but I also think that's because I picked goals that wouldn't be too hard to attain.
  • School. School is still going great!  Sarah Beth and Daniel really enjoy "hitting the books" which makes it fun for all of us.  Sometimes, Mary even wakes up early from her nap so that she can join us...although I must admit that I do wish she would sleep through it.
  • Reading. Somehow I have found the time to read two books this month.
  • Losing weight.  I think I'm doing really well with this one.  I've been watching what I eat, trying to eat more healthfully instead of junk food although I haven't given up everything that isn't good for me.  Everything in moderation, right?  I just bought a new-to-me treadmill, and I hope to use it to help lose the remaining five or so pounds I want to lose.
  • Run a 5K. I wasn't sure how I would find the time to prepare for this one.  With four children, getting out to walk/jog isn't a reality.  And John leaves for work at 5:30 a.m., and I just can't get up any earlier than that to walk the neighborhood.  Besides, it's dark outside, and our neighborhood is poorly lit with no sidewalks.  But now I have a treadmill!  I know it's not the best way to prepare for a run, but it's better than sitting on the couch.
  • Hospitality. We did not do so well with this goal this month.  We did invite another family over, but they were unable to come.  And we just dropped the ball, so to speak, about asking another family over.  
  • Florida license. I've filled out the form to take the test; now I'm waiting to hear back from the Florida board that I can actually take the test.  They have to certify to the test-givers that I'm eligible, that I've gotten all the necessary paperwork done already.
  • Monthly service night.  I've fallen behind on this one.  I have the items gathered for the Action Pack from the Voice of the Martyrs, but we just never filled it up and sent it in.  *Sigh*  Hopefully, we'll get to it this week.  This month, I hope to gather some supplies to donate to our local Care Pregnancy Center.
How are you doing with your goals for the year?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Losing Weight

As you know, I'm trying to lose a little weight (baby weight), and I think some of my readers are as well.  Even if you're not trying to lose weight, you may find this interesting and helpful.

Losing weight is simple.  No, no, I didn't say it was easy.  Basically, you have to take in fewer calories than you burn.  Of course, giving up that bedtime snack of ice cream can be awfully hard which is why losing weight can be both simple and difficult.

I was curious as to how many calories you have to burn in a week to lose weight, so I did some research.  This is what I found:  to lose one pound in a week, you have to burn 3500 more calories than you eat.  Doing the math further, that's 500 calories per day.  Hmmm.  That sounds like a lot; maybe that's why losing weight can be so difficult.  (Here is my source for this information.)

What happens when you add exercise to help lose weight?  Walking for one mile burns less than 100 calories.  (Source)  That's not much, especially when you consider how many calories you have to burn to lose just one pound.

So if you're like me (that is, not an exercise junkie), you're going to be more successful losing weight by eating less than by exercising more.  (Of course, exercise has tons of other benefits.)

I have to admit that 3500 calories per week seems like an awful lot, as does 500 per day.  It means that I have to make wise decisions everyday at every meal because I can't lose a pound in just a day or two (at least, not healthfully).  On the other hand, eating an extra cookie or piece of chocolate today shouldn't hurt me too badly, as long as it's just today and not everyday.

If you're wondering what I'm doing specifically to lose weight, I am just trying to eat less.  I'm not counting calories because I think that's nearly impossible when you eat food that's made at home.  I'm just trying to eat less than I used to...and measure my ice cream!  One of my friends is selling me her treadmill, and I can't wait to get it and start using it.  Unfortunately, it will probably make me hungrier, so I will want to eat more which won't help me lose weight.  *Sigh*

Are you trying to lose weight?  How are you doing?  What are you doing to help yourself lose weight?