Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday -- Bugs: A Shoe Tying Tutorial

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Go Green Champ WINNER

You like prizes, I like giving them out!  Today's winner is 


entry #412!  Thanks for following my blog!  

Breanne, check your inbox!  You have 48 hours to respond or I'll choose a new winner!  Enjoy your diaper!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

No-hassle meals for sleepy moms! (A Tyson Mini-Chicken Sandwich story)

I'm one of them.  Yep, that's right.  I wear it loud and proud.  I'm not ashamed.

I'm a Black Friday Shopper!

Now, I'm not the "dress up in Christmas wear" kind of shopper.  I'm not the "shove people out of my way for the stuff I want" kind of shopper.  I'm not even the "stand in line for hours on end" kind of shopper...usually.  

What I AM is the "shop from midnight to 4am" shopper.  (Longer if no one is sick at home.)  I'm the "make a list and leave it at home" kind of shopper.  I'm the "I don't really want anything, but I can't resist going" kind of shopper. I'm the "shop all the local stores and then shop their websites" kind of shopper.  I do it for fun, with my sister and mom.  

And then I'm exhausted and all I want to do is SLEEP!

But, I have three of these:

and they like to get up early.  And eat. 

What's a super sleepy, post-Black Friday shopping mama to do when 3 hungry monsters sweethearts wake up too early on Black Friday morning?

Why, she'll pop a couple of these bad boys into the microwave:

50 seconds on each side, add a few apple slices, and my three munchkins had a balanced breakfast!  (Mommy got to turn the kiddos over to Daddy and go back to sleep!)

Tyson Mini Chicken Sandwiches are quick, easy, and budget-friendly!  (They're daddy friendly as well, in case the need should arise.)  You can purchase them at Walmart.  Click here to see where I found them in my store and to "watch" my shopping trip!  Right now, for a limited time and while supplies last, Tyson has a special offer at Walmart!  (Check here to see if your Walmart has the sandwiches!)  When you purchase 2 boxes of Tyson Mini Chicken Sandwiches, you can earn a $5 Walmart giftcard by mail!  Now that's #TysonGoodness!

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias  All opinions are my own.

Melissa & Doug Facebook Cyber Monday!

Hey everyone!  Check out this awesomeness for Melissa & Doug!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 24

Brussels sprouts.  

Yep, you read that right.  Today I am thankful for Brussels sprouts.   Sweet potatoes.  Carrots.  Corn.  Potatoes.  Broccoli.  Turkey.  The bounties of our Thanksgiving table today!

More than the food, though (although those brussel sprouts get me EVERY time), I am thankful for the relationships that grow around that table.  I am so thankful for family that gathers at every holiday, usually around a table to food.  With or without that food, though, I would be equally as thankful, not only for the companionship of my family, but for the legacy my grandparents left and that I am honored to be able to share with my own children.

I am thankful for my aunt who hosted Thanksgiving today...and also hosted a pre-Thanksgiving "Girls Rule" sleepover at her house last night for two 6-year-old girls and two 7-year-old girls!  I'm so thankful my kids are able to build friendships with their cousins! 

I am thankful for the many hands that had a part in preparing today's meal.

I am equally as thankful for all of you family members who couldn't make it today!  I missed each of you dearly!

Dear Lord, thank you so much for a loving, giving family.  Thank you for a day to celebrate the things and relationships with which we've been truly blessed!  I will be forever grateful for a legacy of love, not only for family but for our God as well.  Thank you for blessing me continuously!

(For the record, I thought they were Brussel sprouts!  That got red-lined.  You learn something new every day!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 22

Today I don't feel like writing this post, because I have had a very frustrating morning.  I'm doing it anyway, and I'll be thankful for self-control.  Is that okay with you?  I'm thankful for it because I've been using it today.  (I mean...not on my eating, because that's not going so hot today...but well...)

Here's a sweet picture of my baby boy from a couple days ago.

He's so stinkin' cute!  How could he EVER cause the need for self control?!?

By standing perfectly still and letting this guy

use a pair of these

on those beautiful blond locks.  And not just a snip.  Nope.  You see, part of self-control is making sure that if you're going to do something, you're going to do it right.  ALL the way.  And Bugs tried to do just that.  

I was sitting in the living room, balancing the checkbook on this very computer, over which I could see the boys.  They wanted to use that pair of scissors to cut a piece of paper.  I could SEE them.  I agreed.  And then they were cutting that same piece of paper by the back door.  I could SEE them.  I didn't stop them.  And then.  "Look, Mommy!  I cut his hair!"

"You what?!?"

"I cut his hair!  I thought I could make it look better!" 

It wasn't a snip.

No, it was a pile.  A pile of three inch long, baby fine blond hair.  MY baby's hair.  Not connected to his head.  I couldn't even look at Stinky at first.  I thought of my sweet Aunt Maribeth, whose daughter cut her own hair, not too long ago.  I remembered that (as the story goes) she didn't yell.  She remained calm (although slightly tearful).  I wanted to be that mom.  I was kind of angry, though, so before I spoke a word, I closed my eyes, prayed, "God, help me," and breathed...and then sent Bugsy to his room until I could calm down.  When I opened my eyes and looked at Stinky, here's what I saw:

Not so bad, right?


(Yes, you see 2 bald spots.  BALD spots.)

Inside that circle, under a fine layer of hair??  Bald.  And just above the circle?  It's hard to see, but totally choppy 1/2 in long chunks.

I didn't lose my patience.  I hung right onto it.  It took every. last. bit. of my self control not to yell.  Or cry.  But I didn't.  Because he's 4.  And he's 1.  And we've really never talked about NOT cutting hair with scissors.  We've never had to.  I just pulled out the scissors and cut Stinky's hair.  But it was still choppy and chunky and very, very obviously a temporary "fix."  And so, now, here's what we're left with:

Yes.  That hair is buzzed.  1/4 inch long.  And yes.  That is a bald spot, still obvious.  It's not the only one, either.

He's still cute, though...

Dear Lord, thank you for my boys.  Thank you for making them...boys.  Thank you so much more than I can say for keeping me calm and helping me to keep my emotions in check at times such as these!  You know as well as I do that 4 is not my favorite age.  Today didn't help that.  But thank you for helping me handle the situation with a supernatural amount of self-control and a fair bit of grace.

Tropical Traditions WINNER!

I LOVE announcing a winner and making the day of one of my readers!  Today it's Tropical Traditions Laundry Detergent winner day!  This is great soap!  Anyway, you've already read the review, you don't need me to tell you all the perks again.  On to the winner...

Samantha Cuhel!  Congratulations!  Rafllecopter chose your entry, #23!  Thanks for following Tropical Traditions on twitter!

If you didn't win, that's okay!  There are 3 more open giveaways on the blog right now!  Enter away!

Monday, November 21, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 21

She's spunky.  Sassy.  Opinionated.  Smarter than either of her parents (shhh...don't tell her I said that).  She a perfectionist.  She loves her brothers.  Sometimes.  She loves school and would read 12 hours a day if she could (because she sleeps the other 12).  She loves the idea of art projects.  She breathes basketball all winter long (and if we had a good net, she'd breathe basketball in the summer, too).  She would prefer to read a non-fiction book over fiction because "that way I can learn things while I'm reading."  She has a vivid imagination.  She won't take anything from anyone.  She loves to eat salad and rarely drinks anything other than water.  She loves Jesus.  She adores her daddy.

Little Lou.

I am so glad God decided to let us borrow you for a while!  You've been independent since well before you were born.  You haven't stopped moving since God put you in my belly.  You didn't want to be held when you were born and you've really never relied on anybody for anything.  I get so frustrated some days because you are so very opinionated and strong-willed, but I know that someday I will appreciate those very same qualities in you because I'm confident you'll stand your ground when it matters most.  You're fierce.  You're a fighter.  You don't take no for an answer.  You're brilliant!

I love you very, very much!  You haven't turned out to be exactly who I expected you to be.  I'm kind of glad God makes surprises like you.  (You weren't a surprise, but who you have become was a surprise!)  I probably wouldn't have given you the personality God gave you had I been the one to pick, but I am so glad he chose a spunky, independent, fighter of a personality for you, because you've needed it already and I can't imagine what you'll be fighting for as you grow!

No matter what you decide to grow up and become, know that I love you and I always will.  Even when I get frustrated, even if I yell, I still love you.  You are a rockstar!  (And if that's what you want to be, I'll come to your concerts, but I don't see that being in your future.)  I love you, Little Lou!

Dear God, thank you for my little big girl!  I can't believe how quickly she's growing and becoming!  She amazes me, every. single. day.  As she grows, please show me how to be her mommy.  I don't always have all the answers, and I know I won't as she grows either.  Please help me to be right *most* of the time, though.  Help me to have the words to teach her about life and to teach her about you!  Help my words and actions to be uplifting to her, and help me to be a good, Godly example for her.  Help her to learn love through me.  Thanks for Little Lou!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 20

Today, on the morning of my 31st birthday, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you how thankful I am for these two people:

My mom and dad.

Without the two of you I wouldn't...well, I wouldn't be here.  Obviously.  But there's so much more than that.  I thought I'd tell you just a few of the many things they've taught me, through both words and actions.

My parents have taught me to live a life of which I can be proud.  They've taught me to be kind and loving and honest.  They've taught me that sometimes I have to fight for the needs of my family.  They have taught me that sometimes we have to make hard decisions for our families.  They've taught me to be generous and giving.  They have taught me that nothing I have is really mine; it all belongs to God.  They've taught me to hold my family close.  They've taught me to drive a stick.  They've taught me to bake.  They've taught me the value of hard work.  They've taught me to love God.

They've taught me a million more things as well, but I don't have room (or time!) to list everything.

Thank you, mom and dad, for being there to teach me and for raising me to be the woman I am!

Dear Lord, thank you for my parents, without whom I would not have life.  Thank you for giving me parents that would teach me and encourage me to never stop learning.  Thank you for the love and compassion and forgiveness they've shown me throughout the last 31 years.  Thank you for being their father, so that they could introduce you to me.  Thank you for my mom and dad!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 19

Can I be thankful for more than one thing today?  Or am I limited to choosing just one?  Because today, I'm feeling blessed.

Today I am thankful for a husband who's not afraid to get his hands dirty.  Because, yeah, a plumber would have probably cost a lot more than the $35 it cost to rent the snake and push...whatever it was...out to the street.

Today I am thankful for my in-laws, who one weekend a month have been taking my kids and giving me a much MUCH needed break.  Since the hubs is in school and working full time, this mama is on call 24/7 with no relief, ever.  I don't know how single moms do it.  It's stressful!  But this weekend is "Mammaw's House Weekend."  It turns out that we get one whole day kid-free.  I appreciate that more than you guys will ever know!

Today I am thankful for 3 healthy babies.  I was blessed to enjoy a baby shower for a friend this morning.  It's fun to welcome new little ones, and to reminded of the blessings you have in your own!

Today I'm thankful for a night with no interruptions, and being able to sleep in ALL the way until 8am!  Wow!  9 hours.  Straight.  I'm a new woman!

I could go on.  I think I'll save the rest for later.

Dear Lord, thank you for so very many blessings!  You're faithful to keep on heaping and heaping and heaping, even though I am not always faithful to look for your blessings.  Open my eyes to what you have for me!  Thank you so much for always being faithful. Your provisions are astounding!

Friday, November 18, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 18

Because I've been up since 3am and am exhausted, this will be short and sweet.

Today I am thankful for nebulized steroids, which are helping my Little Man breathe today.  Poor guy is having a really tough with asthma today!  Anyone else?  Every season I think to myself, "This is the WORST season for his asthma!" and every season I'm reminded that EVERY season is the worst.  I am so thankful for medications that give him at least a little relief!  Days like today, especially, when he just can't seem to catch a breath.

Dear Lord, help my Bug to feel better.  Clear his lungs and let him breathe easily!  Comfort him.  Comfort me!  Amen.

Changing Diapers: Review and Giveaway

I've never been a big fan of change.  I get used to it.  I adapt.  I don't like it.  But I've learned to accept that change is inevitable: changing jobs, changing schools, changing houses, changing diapers...

Wait, changing diapers?

Yep.  Diapers.  I've done a LOT of diaper changing over the last 6 1/2 years.  A lot.  In fact, there's never been a time in 6 1/2 years that NO ONE in my house wore diapers at least part time!  I've changed all types of diapers: wet diaper, dry diapers, poopy diapers, disposable diapers, cloth diapers...

One of the biggest diaper changes I made occurred about a year ago, when I changed from disposable to cloth!  What a scary change that was!  I'd contemplated cloth before Little Lou was born, but was quite frankly afraid of the poop.  I didn't even think about it when Bugsy was born.  I didn't have time, when he was a baby, to think about washing diapers, stripping diapers, folding and sorting diapers.  I didn't even think about it, honestly, when Stinky was born!  It wasn't until about a year ago, when Stinky was about 8 months old and our budget needed to find a little wiggle room, that I decided to give cloth a go.

I didn't have any advice.  I didn't have a cloth diaper "mentor."  I didn't have a clue!

I wish Kelly Wels had written her book, Changing Diapers, back then!  

Back a year ago.  Back 4 years ago.  6 years ago, even!

"Kelly Wels is a leading cloth diaper expert and advocate who has a passion for helping parents make informed decisions when it comes to how they diaper their babies."  She's big in the cloth diaper community!  If you need an opinion on a certain diaper, ask Kelly.  She's probably tested it.  If you need advice on how to care for or even begin using cloth, Ask Kelly!  She's the go-to girl for anything cloth!

Kelly's taken a ton of her cloth diaper knowledge and fused it all together seamlessly in her beautiful new book, Changing Diapers!  If you are considering using cloth diapers, this book is a must-have.  If you know someone who is considering cloth, or who is pregnant, or who knows someone who is pregnant, this book is for you.  If you're a cloth diaper newbie with lots of questions, it's for you.  Even if you're a cloth diaper veteran, I bet you could glean some very useful knowledge from Changing Diapers!  Kelly shares a little bit about everything cloth, and a lot about a few things, in this very comprehensive cloth diapering "how-to!"  The beautiful pictures and quick wit make it a great fast and easy read.  You'll love it!

Changing diapers is just $17.95 when you visit Kelly's store!!  It's a great baby shower gift, especially paired with a newborn or one size cloth diaper!  For a limited time, Kelly is offering a "Buy Two, Get One Free with Free Shipping" deal when you buy through her site!  I know you're thinking you don't really NEED 3 books, but you do!  You might not need them for yourself, but you know one or two or three people that do need them!

Want to give cloth a try?  Are you already a cloth diapering mama?  Know someone else who needs a diaper?  Kelly Wels is going to GIVE one of you a Fuzzibunz One Size diaper!  Pick up a copy of Changing Diapers, and give them together as an awesome shower gift!  You know you want to!

I was given this book at no charge in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 17

"Do I look exactly like Daddy?"


He's tender-hearted.  He's compassionate.  He's got a zest for life unlike any other.  He's always up for a laugh. He's a lady charmer.  He loves hugs and kisses.  He wrestles with his little brother.  He loves to play dress up and carries bugs in his pockets.  He'll tell you the only thing cooler than he is is slugs.  He loves to drink milk, white or chocolate.  He's allergic to berries.  He loves to bag groceries and carry them into the house!  He rarely has a tantrum.  He's calm and quiet.  He'll swing in the backyard, by himself, for hours.  He's our social butterfly.

I was reminded of Bugsy's tender-hearted compassion at the grocery store this week.  He wanted to look at the fish, and we had time.  He looked for the sharks and was sad because he couldn't find any.  Then, he sat down on the floor and cried...not because he couldn't find the sharks, but because right there on the bottom row was a goldfish, all alone in a tank.  "That fish is lonely, Mommy."  He cried.  Tears.  Because that fish didn't have any friends or any family.  He sat for a good 4 or 5 minutes talking to that fish, consoling the fish.  My sweet, sweet boy!

Today, I am thankful for you, Bugsy.  My Little Man.  I can't begin to imagine what our lives would be if not for you!!  You've changed our world in so very many ways.  I am so glad God trusted us enough to be your parents!  He knew it was going to be a big job, and I'm surprised sometimes that he decided we could handle it.  You just keep on being the Bug God made you to be, and I'll keep on being the best Mommy I know how!

Dear Lord, thank you for Bugsy!  Life hasn't always been easy with him (or for him) but you've been faithful to bring him (us) through and for that I are forever grateful!  Thank you for making Bugs unique.  Thanks for giving him a kind, compassionate spirit.  Thank you for giving him to me for a time.  I will treasure him and grow him the best I know how.  I will do my best to honor you as his mother!

It's about time!


(Insert that crazy video of Elizabeth doing a happy dance that's running through your head right now.)

I did it!
I gave in.

I took the plunge.

Call it whatever you want to call it, but yay!

You've obviously already found me because, well, you're reading this, but next time you want to find me, look for me here:

Except, you know, without the exclamation point, because that'll probably confuse your computer.

I'm so excited to have taken this step!  I was nervous, but it was easy.
Welcome to my "new" blog,!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Getting ready for potty: FluffyRumps review and giveaway!

I'm a perfectionist.

A rule follower.

A list maker.

A planner.

Some of you have other names for people like me.  A lot of them are probably true.  Some probably aren't.  It doesn't really matter.  You've got the picture.

I'm telling you this because, as I said, I'm a planner.  I make lists of rules for myself (I don't write them down) and I insist I follow them.  It's both a blessing and a curse.  I have this little "rule" for myself that says I will potty train each of my children before they turn 2.  This has worked so far...once.  Only Little Lou really potty trained herself, I was just kind of along for the ride.  Bugsy was...different than Little Lou.  If you have been with me from the beginning, you know that Bugsy wasn't fully potty trained a year ago.  In fact, he was 3 1/2 before he was trained!  I'll admit, there were days I felt like a failure in the whole situation.  So, I promised myself that we wouldn't go that route with Stinky.  I decided Stinky would definitely be potty trained by 2!  After all, I'm home with him all. day. long.  It should be easy, right?

Except Stinky will be 21 months old next week.  In case there's any question, 21 months is almost 24 months, and 24 months is TWO!

So, here we are, almost 21 months old, and thinking very seriously about the whole potty training "thing."  (Plus, when this is happening at your house on a regular basis as soon as a diaper is soiled, it's probably about time, right?)

One of the tools I've decided I'll be using to aid in our journey is FluffyRumps fleece longies!  I've been in communication with FluffyRumps for quite some time, and when we agreed I'd review a pair of fleece longies, I was a little concerned.  I've never used "longies" of any sort...other than just plain old long pants.  I honestly wasn't sure how you're supposed to use fleece longies.  So here I was, a fleece longie newbie, trying to review a product and compare it to--what?  My idea of what they should do?  I'm not saying I couldn't do was a new experience and I LOVE it!  (We all have to start somewhere, right?)

Let me tell you about the longies.  They are cute.  VERY cute.

They look SO comfy.  (Trust me...The Hubby and I each want a pair!)  When paired with a fitted diaper, they leave Stinky dry as a bone!  I LOVE that they're breathable and that stinky doesn't break out from urine being left on his body!  They're VERY well made!  You really would almost think they were "manufactured," not handmade.  They're that great!  My ONLY complaint in the structure of FluffyRumps fleece longies is that no matter which way I put them on him, the front is a bit baggy.

So, I got thinking.  If fleece longies kept Stinky dry when he was wearing a fitted diaper, what would happen if he wore them over undies?!?  After all, I've never used pull-ups with the others, and although I really want to try cloth trainers, I'm also a firm believer in moving straight from diapers to underwear.  I wanted to give the FluffyRumps a try as a "training" pant.

Let me tell you, first off, that Stinky will often go to the bathroom after he's soiled his diaper and try to take off his diaper.  It's my "cue" that he needs to be changed.  

I put Stinky in the FluffyRumps fleece longies, and within about 10 minutes he came crying to me, "Nee...elp!  Nee...elp!"  I got up off the chair and followed him to the bathroom, where he tried hard to pull down those longies.  He was poopy AND wet...but his legs were dry and the longies really didn't feel wet inside!  His socks were wet, so I know urine had run down his legs, but I couldn't feel it!  Since his pants still felt dry and I wanted to try another pair of undies, I put them back on.

Fast forward 10 minutes.  Stinky comes crying, "Ah poo.  Ah poo!"  Stinky was wet!  There was a puddle on the floor!  And he NOTICED!  He had climbed down from the chair to come to me AS he was peeing!  I could tell by the trail.  

Friends, I am going to be using longies this winter, so that Stinky's legs stay warm and my floors stay dry(er)!  FluffyRumps is going to help!

Do you love longies?  Shorties?  Soakers?  Teething necklaces?  Whatever it is, FluffyRumps probably has it!  Shipping is always free at FluffyRumps, and the prices are fantastic!

AND one of you gets to try out one of their items for free!  Hooray!  FluffyRumps has agreed to give away one item from her albums!  Winner gets to choose the prize, but it can't be trainers, skirties, or applique work...unless you're willing to pay a little to get one of those things.  Then she's open to it if you are!

This contest is open to US and Canada, and will end December 1, 2011 at 11:59pm EST.

I was given this item at no cost in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.

All For Love Valentine's Event!!

I hear you all LOVE giveaway events!  Is that true?  Because I love participating in giveaway events!  (I did that last one, anyway.  It was a blast!)

Would you like the chance to win tons and tons of prizes, each worth at least $25?  Real Mom Reviews & Mama Chocolate have teamed up to bring us a love (and of course gift) filled Valentine’s Day blog hop! I don't know how many there will be... but 24 bloggers have already signed up and the linky just went active today!  There will be lots of prizes!

I bet some of them will be chocolate.  I'm sure some of them will be red.  I can almost guarantee they'll be things the participating bloggers love!

So I'm saying we here at My This N That Life outta get in on all that lovin', don't you think?  I'm voting we join in on the Valentine's fun!  Who's with me?

Get excited!  Coming February 1-7, tons of bloggers will go live with this amazing giveaway event, full of awesome prizes!  We're going to join them!  Get your clicking fingers ready!  February is sooner than you might think!

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 16

Oops!  Somehow, I skipped yesterday!  I mean, I didn't skip yesterday.  I was there.  Do you ever wish you could have skipped a day, though?  That's not how my yesterday was, I'm just saying, sometimes skipping a day doesn't sound so bad!

Today I've been doing some research, some reading, some "interviewing," in an attempt to figure out the whole "I own my own domain name" thing.  I don't own my own domain name.  I've been talking about it for a while now, though, and I'm ready to take the plunge.  I'm nervous, though!  I am so anxious that when I do purchase the name and make the changeover, I'll lose something!  I'm afraid I'll lose my GFC followers, or I'll lose my posts, or I'll lose...  You get it.

I've been emailing back and forth this evening with Beth from Five Kids Is A Lot Of Kids.  Beth's blog is hilarious, by the way, and I almost always laugh.  Except for days like today, when I cry.  (If you click that link, you'll see that her url is, which makes me smile EVERY time I cruise over to her site.)  So, I've been emailing with Beth and her husband, Greg, and they're trying to help me understand how this whole process works.  (Apparently it's easy.  I'm just a wimp.)

Beth's not the only blogger I've emailed with questions, either.  I've asked questions of Danielle at Happenings of the Harper Household, who has been a HUGE help in setting up this blog!  She is great at helping small blogs, like mine, make a bit of a "name."  Toni at Crazy 4 Fluff has been pretty quiet lately, but I can't tell you how valuable her advice has been to me through the last year!  Even my sister at Life with my BOYS (or Crum's This N That if you've been around a while) pushes me to greatness in this blog thing.

Today, I am thankful for my fellow bloggers in this great internet blogger community!  So many of you have given your time to answer my questions and help me along the way.  I am thankful for the friendships I have formed with some of you!  I am so grateful that some of you have been so willing to step out and help a lost blogger like me find her way!

Thank you, bloggy friends, for being who you are and doing what you do!  You're the greatest!

Monday, November 14, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 14

Some days it's easier to think of things to be thankful for that it is other days.

Today has been one of the "other" days.

It's not that nothing good's happened today.  It's been an amazingly motivated day.  I've swept and mopped the kitchen and bathroom and reassembled both rooms, folded 6 loads of laundry, refolded 2 loads of laundry after the kids knocked them off the couch, washed and dried 4 more loads of laundry, disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled the dryer, taught preschool, fed 4 children, picked up my car from the shop...and the night's still young.  There's been no shortage of things to be thankful for, I suppose, but it's been one of those days when it's really hard to find them.

As I sat and pondered my day, I realized part of the reason I was having so much trouble being thankful today is because I miss him today.  

Mondays are the worst.  You see, I get to spend the weekends with him and I get a little spoiled.  Then Monday comes.  Mondays are horrid.  Mondays are back to work and back to school and back to the general craziness that is currently our life "together."  I hate Mondays.

I love him, though.  

Today, of all days, I am thankful for you, Michael.  I am thankful for the hard work you're putting forth every day to earn the money we need to pay our bills.  I am thankful for the time and effort you're putting into your education, working so hard to do a great job so that some day we can be in a different "place" than we are now.  I am so thankful that every night, no matter how late it is when you get home, you sit with me for a while.  I'm thankful that you make the time to wrestle with the kids, read with the kids, study with the kids, every day that you're here when they're awake.  They are thankful for that too, even though they probably don't realize it.

I know everything's not perfect right now.  Life's a struggle some days, financially, emotionally, physically.  We're exhausted.  We're stretched thin.  We don't know whether we're coming or going.  We're not always communicating very well.  We don't see much of each other.  We don't have time or energy to nurture our marriage right now.

But I love you, and I'm so thankful for you!  

Things haven't been easy for the last few years.  I'm not sure anyone really understands the toll the events of the last 7 years have taken on us physically or emotionally.  I'm not sure we could explain it to anyone.  But you've always been right there by my side, no matter what.  You've been my rock and my support through everything.  Every trial, no matter how big or small, you've been there.  I couldn't ask for anything more.

I am thankful for you!

Dear Lord, thank you for my husband.  Thank you for putting him in my life.  Lord, you know the struggles we've faced, the struggles he's faced.  You know his heart.  You know him even better than I do!  Lord, today I ask that you just lift Michael up in your hands.  Hold his heart.  Guide his steps.  Encourage him.  Uplift him.  Bless him beyond his imagination.  Strengthen his resolve.  Give him rest when he needs it.  Give him refreshment when he can't go another moment.  Lord, thank you, thank you, for putting him in my path.  Show me ways to support him each day.  I love you and thank you.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Walk MS!

Walk MS

Dear Friends and Family,

The National MS Society is kicking off their annual Walk MS events. I am going to be a part of Walk MS and want you to join me in the fight against multiple sclerosis by coming to the walk with me or making a contribution to support my effort.  My team, MS. Understood, will be walking in the Indianapolis Walk MS on April 28, 2012.

The Indiana State Chapter of the National MS Society is dedicated to creating a world free of MS.  They simultaneously fund research for a cure while also helping people who currently live with MS lead more fulfilling lives.  I believe in the work they do, and I invite you to see for yourself all the good they've done for the MS community.  More than 10,000 Hoosiers live with MS, and your support can and will make changes in their lives.

Please help by making a donation - large or small - to fight MS. Or join me on the day of the event? Become a participant and side by side, as teammates, we can work together to raise the funds to make a difference.
Whatever you can give will help! I greatly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on my progress.


Go to my personal page and make a secure, online donation.

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 13

She was the grandparent that we, as parents, love to hate.  You know, the "permissive" kind.  I remember spending the weekend at her house as a child and consuming nothing but pudding and Pepsi the entire weekend.  I remember taking out every. single. Barbie and spewing them around the room.  Sometimes they stayed there the entire weekend.  I remember being able to choose anything we wanted at MCL.  I don't ever remember hearing harsh or scolding words towards any of us grandkids come out of her mouth.  I remember Christmas pampering, before or after the obligatory Papa John's pizza.  (Mom, can we do that this year?)  I remember cheese balls (that Britt often made, but we still call them Nonnie's cheeseballs).  I remember ugly Christmas sweater.  Bah Humbug!  I remember the business trips mom and dad took together, leaving Nonnie "in charge" for several days or a week.  (Nonnie, were you ever really in charge?)  I remember how excited she was, even in my adult years, when she answered the phone and it was me on the other end.  I remember...I remember...I remember...

What I remember most was how very much she loved each and every one of us grandkids!  (I think she was especially partial to that one, in the cousin Trav.  Travy, I think you were her favorite man EVER!

Today, on Nonnie's birthday, I am thankful for grandparents!  Happy birthday, Non!

Although I don't have any living grandparents remaining, I think of them and miss them every single day.  They were all different.  They all had their own "charms."  Grandma was a prayer WARRIOR.  I have never met another woman with her faith and dedication, to God or family.  Grandpa was hilarious.  He was a joker.  He was on that police scanner like no one I've ever seen (although my dad takes a close second).  Florida Grandpa was a mystery to me.  I only met him a few times, but every time I saw him he gave me money.  When I was a kid, I thought that was great.  I'd have gladly traded that money for more "face time," though!

My own kids are growing up with two sets of Godly grandparents who love and cherish them.  I'm not going to tell you which set are the "permissive" ones.  I think they know.  And I love that about them.  They've got grandparents that build with them, pray with them, laugh with them, cry with them.  I pray that they'll develop lasting, life-long friendships with these grandparents.  I pray that they'll be better about calling their grandparents in their later years than I was, because if they don't they'll regret it.  There'll be a day when they can no longer pick up the phone to call, but even years later they'll sometimes forget, or at least that's my hope.  It'll mean they were close and clung to the support their grandparents had to offer.

Today, I am thankful for grandparents.  My own grandparents.  My "surrogate" grandparents, like our Ninny in Kentucky.  My parents and in-laws for the grandparents they've become and are becoming.  Thank you, thank you, for being such a huge impact in my life!

Dear Lord, today I thank you for grandparents.  I thank you for generations teaching generations.  I thank you for love that doesn't care how old you are, what gender you are, whether you're rich or poor, whether you have a snotty nose.  I thanks you for the love that was shown me through my grandparents and the love my kids experience through theirs.  Lord, help me to learn from these grandparents, both that have gone before and that are grandparenting now, so that one day I can be a shining example to my own grandkids and leave a legacy of which I could be proud.  Thank you for gradparents!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 12

Today I am thankful for the lady that cut my hair this morning.  I don't know her name.  I should have asked.  She's not our "normal" hair stylist, although it was at the salon we'd been visiting lately.  This particular woman, though donated her Saturday.  She made a plan to cut hair for 7 hours today, for anyone and everyone that came in.  She had a steady flow of traffic, at least for the first hour and 15 minutes. 

This lady was charging just $10 a hair cut.  She didn't specify only children, adults, males or females.  In face, I saw her cut the hair of two little boys, two little girls, and a grown woman.  That $10 a hair cut?  It is ALL going straight to the family of a boy in Little Lou's grade at school, who was in her kindergarten class last year.  He's faced some very major medical problems in the last month and the bills are overwhelming!

It blessed me today to see this woman doing what she knew how to do in order to give back!  She probably couldn't afford to give a lot of money herself.  Who can?  But what she can do is cut hair.  So that's what she's doing.  She's helping a family in need by doing what she does.  She's not only blessing the family herself, but she's enabling others to be a blessing to them as well!

Thank you so much, hair cut lady, for reminding me today that it's not all about the money, it's about finding a way to give back with what God's given each of us.

Dear Lord, thank you for the lady that cut my hair this morning!  Thank you for her willing spirit and her attitude of giving.  Thank you also, for providing an opportunity for me to give to this family!  Lord, thank you every day for giving us opportunities to be a blessing.  Please open my eyes to those opportunities more often!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon When You Take the North "Poll"

Melissa & Doug want you to tell them which of their educational toys you think is the best! 

Just click on the image below to place your vote in the North "Poll!" You'll Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon** to use at just for voting!

Quick Breakfast with Tyson Mini Chicken Sandwiches

I know you're not like me.  I know you lay out your clothes the night before, everything ironed and just-so.  I know your kids' clothes are laid out too.  I know you get up at 4am, exercise, shower, get your children up, bathe them, dress them in chic matching outfits, and send the happily to school with a nice, healthy lunch in a little bento box and thermos.  Every day.  I know you do.

You don't?

You're more like me?  You oversleep, wake up at 6:45, and realize you have to leave at 7:15 because, "Oh no, I'm driving the morning carpool today," too?  You grab your three kids out of their beds, throw some clothes on them (or not), and pray that you have something quick and easy they can eat for a "healthy" breakfast while you snatch a quick shower, like I did on Tuesday?  Do you even leave all the debris of the morning laying around the living room and hope you can get to it later in the day?

Then this is for you!

I have an opinion about breakfast foods.  I think they should be protein packed to help make it through the day, but with enough carbs to give a good boost right from the get-go.  Cereal doesn't really cut it.  Pop Tarts definitely don't make the grade.  My daughter's typical favorite "breakfast" food is a peanut butter and honey sandwich on whole wheat.  See that?  Carbs and protein, all in a nice creamy bundle.  And it's quick...but sometimes not quick enough!  

There are days, like Tuesday, when I have 30 minutes to pull together 3 kids and myself and be out the door.  On these days, I need something I can make with one hand while I'm pouring drinks or changing diapers with the other.  

Tyson Chicken has a solution!

Tyson Mini Chicken Sandwiches are kid-sized little chicken sandwiches that microwave in their bags in about a minute and a half!  They come in 2-packs, so for my 3 kids I make 2 2-packs.  

3 minutes later, they have breakfast, complete with milk (or water, for Little Lou, who doesn't like to drink milk because "it has too much sugar"), a dry diaper, and clean clothes!  I have time to take a fast shower and get dressed myself before we rush out the door on the way to school!

I LOVE that the cooking directions are clearly marked on each package.  You don't have to hang onto the box if you're tight on space, and if you pack them to take along for your own breakfast or lunch, you don't have to try to remember how to make them!  

Tyson Mini Chicken sandwiches are really yummy!  Mmmmm, #TysonGoodness!  They're available with or without cheese.  My whole family prefers the ones with cheese (although when I drew the short straw and got a cheeseless one, I dressed it up with a slice of colby-pepperjack...yum).  Little Lou wants one EVERY morning for breakfast now!  They're a perfect kid-sized breakfast, lunch, or snack food.  They're great for mamas and daddies on the go, too.  

Tyson Mini Chicken Sandwiches are available now at Walmart!

You'll find them in the freezer section.  I found them in the "snacks and appetizers" section of the freezer.  At my Walmart, they're $5.14 for a box of 8.  That's just 64 cents a sandwich!  I don't know how you feel, but I think it's worth 64 cents to have an easier morning, particularly on already hectic days!

Want to know more about my experience with Tyson Mini Chicken Sandwiches from #TysonGoodness and #CBias?  Check out my photo journey!

Think you want to try some of your own?  Now is the PERFECT time!  Between now and January 13, when you buy 2 boxes of Tyson Mini Chicken Sandwiches at Walmart, you can earn a $5 Walmart gift card!  (While supplies last.  Only 2000 available.)  Who can't afford 16 sandwiches at 32 cents each?!?  Just visit Tyson Goodness for complete details!  While you're there, check to make sure your local Walmart is carrying the sandwiches so you aren't out on a wild good chase looking for them.

Try 'em!  You'll like 'em!

“This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias #TysonGoodness  All opinions are strictly my own.

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 11

It feels cliche' to be thankful for the men and women who have served our country today, but I can't help it.  To my grandpa, my Uncle Pat, my cousin Peter, my brother-in-law Jim, and countless other friends and family who have served or are serving, I say thank you.  I am thankful FOR you.  You have each given so much to protect and defend our great nation, and I will be forever grateful to you!

I don't understand what it's like to say goodbye to your family and head into a battle zone.  I can't even guess what emotions are boiling over.  I've seen the pain firsthand, though, in the eyes of military mommies and daddies as they say goodbye to their children and pray that they'll see them again.  Thank you, thank you, for your sacrifices as you walk out those doors not knowing if you'll be back, but praying that you will be, and soon.

I don't understand the pain of the spouses, the children, the parents, of the men and women of the military as they say goodbye to their hearts and pray that they'll see them again, and soon.  I've seen the pain in their eyes firsthand, though, and I can't imagine the fear and pride that well up simultaneously with those goodbyes.  And so today I am thankful for the families of our military men and women.  Families that give everything for this country, but get little recognition for that sacrifice.

I can't imagine what it's like to be a military man or woman sitting stateside, in an office, in a lab, doing what many of us consider an "everyday" job.  There are no everyday jobs in the military.  I commend you and thank you for your dedication and service, whether or not you've been in a war zone.  You still give all, and we still need you.  Thank you for your commitment to keeping me safe!


Today I drove by our local Social Security office and noticed that it was closed in observance of Veteran's Day.  I commend our government for honoring these men and women.  I was frustrated, though, to see that right next door at the National Guard Armory, life carried on as usual.  The lot was full.  Uniformed men and women walked around the campus carrying out business as usual.  How sad it is, to me at least, that here on this day when we "honor" our military men and women, people who have never served get a day of vacation, while those still serving continue to carry out their work.  I want you to know, men and women of the military, that I appreciate your dedication and commitment to my freedom!  I don't think it's fair that you have to work while others get that day of vacation to HONOR you.  I thank you for your tireless efforts on our behalf...on MY behalf!

Today and always, I am thankful for our military, past, present and future.


Dear Lord, the men and women who serve us do so with a kind of dedication and commitment few of us civilians will ever understand.  We don't know what it must be like for them to put their lives on the line every day for the benefit of people they've never even met.  You understand, though.  You've done that very thing yourself.  You gave your life, as do many of the men and women that serve us, for our freedom.  Today, Lord, I ask you to bring hope and comfort to those currently serving.  I pray that you show us ways to honor the memory and legacy of those who have gone before us.  I pray that you'd show us clear ways to honor those who are no longer serving.  And I pray for those yet to serve.  I pray for the children, the three, seven, eleven year old children, who will one day serve this country (and those around the world).  Lead them and guide them so that when that day comes, they'll be as prepared as possible.  Thank you, today, for the willingness of so many to give everything.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

30 Days of Thankgiving: Day 10

I am

White space.

Not the kind of margins you find on a page, though.  I'm thankful today for finally finding some margins in my life.  You know what I'm talking about.  The down time.  The "breaks."  The "me time" that we as people, but especially as moms, really need but often don't get take for ourselves.  We're so busy being super moms, being everything to everyone, that we often forget neglect to take time to re-center our own lives.

Take today, for instance.  Have a look at my schedule:

7:30 carpool
9:00-11:15 meeting
11:30 preschool pick-up
12:00 lunch/naps
2:00 carpool
3:30 therapy
4:30 dinner
5:30 zumba
7:00 kids' bedtime
7:15 crash on the couch

This day looks incredibly hectic!  Right now I'm sitting down for 15 minutes to eat a bit of lunch and regroup before I scurry around making sure the house is clean "enough" for when the therapist gets here.  I can't stand to have someone come into my house when the floors aren't clean, particularly when I know that someone will be sitting on the floor!  So, you probably look at this crazy schedule and think I'm going to be absolutely exhausted at bedtime.  You'd be right in some ways.  I'll be physically tired and ready to sleep.  For a week!

But today?  Today is my day of rest and rejuvenation!

That meeting this morning?  That was a MOPS meeting.  I've been 3 times now.  It's been so incredibly wonderful to sit and chat for 2 hours every other Thursday with like-minded moms.  Today my table (the red table) spent a great deal of time talking about potty training!  It seems almost all of us have at least one child in various stages of training.  It's been a lovely, refreshing gift I've given myself (and a friend gave me) to have that 2 hours of down time, that two hours of worry-free time where I know the kids are taken care of and I can just be who I was created to be!

And Zumba!  Some days it feels like another thing that has to get done, particularly on days like to day where I know the afternoon will be rushed.  But I never EVER regret spending that hour in a room of hot, sweaty, stinky ladies.  Never.  In part because of Zumba, I've begun to give myself and my family the gift of my health!  I'm not even just talking about my physical health.  I'm talking mental health.  My attitude is so much better when I've had a good workout!

Friends, until a couple months ago I didn't have margins.  My husband, my kids and my house have the the center of my life.  They've taken all of me, edge to edge.  No, that's not true.  They haven't taken all of me.  I've given them all of me.  Every bit.  And I forgot that I need to keep a little bit of me for...well, me!  So when I looked around a few months ago and couldn't even recognize myself anymore, I knew something needed to change.  I needed to find a way to get a little bit of "me" back into me.  I'm working on that, and it's still a slow process, but I am finally TAKING the time for me.  (It does help that there is childcare at both MOPS and Zumba!)

I'd like to encourage you, today, to find a little bit of a margin in your life!  It's hard.  I get that.  I really do.  I have a husband, 3 kids, and a dog.  There is ALWAYS something that needs to be done.  There is always something I'm putting off or pushing aside in order to find my margins.  But I'm finding them.  I've set time aside.  My husband knows there are times right now that, unless there's an emergency, I'm in "me" time and I'm just plain not available.  To anyone.  Except for me.  The more I force myself to live a little bit of my life in the margins, the more I find that I've been needing them all along.  Find your margins.  TAKE your margins.  You need them!

Dear Lord, thank you for rest!  In the business of a day like today, I am reminded of how much I need to take a little bit of time here and there to focus on me.  I'm reminded that you made me to be exactly who I am, and if I am not taking the time to remember who I am, I'm not following your will at all.  I need to be rested and refreshed to be the kind of wife, mother, friend, person that you've made me to be.  Thank you for giving me a husband that, although we're both still learning to understand I need my time, accepts that I need a break her and there.  Thank you for giving me that gently nudge mighty push into the unknown so that I could recapture me.  Lord, I know I have friends out there who don't have time...or make focus on themselves.  I know because I was one of them until you told me that wasn't what you had for me.  Please help my friends to find their own margins.  We all need them.  Help my friends to see that they're possible and they're critical.  Thank you, Lord, for showing me just how critical margins are!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 9

Freedom of Education.  That's what I'm most thankful for today. 

You see, I live in an area of the country where the local public education system is failing its students, its families, and quite frankly the entire community, miserably.  I live in a place where the local high school demonstrated an increased graduation rate last year...all the way up to 57%!  I live in a place that, year after year, has reorganized and restructured and shuffled kids around.  I live in a district that has lost 2200 students in the last 2 years, some to moves, some to a new charter school district, and many to neighboring districts.

My own daughter is one of those students.

We've chosen to move our daughter out of our "local" district, in favor of a smaller, much more stable, neighboring district in the next county (which is actually closer to our house).  Had we chosen a school system in our own county, we wouldn't have to pay tuition because our district is a "failing" district.  Since we chose a district in another county, though, we are subject to tuition.  The district into which we've transferred, however, has decided that it's more beneficial to the district and the families it serves to run a tuition-free district!

Little Lou is in a first grade classroom with a teacher very much like my own amazing first grade teacher.  Her teacher, like mine, looks at each individual student's strengths and weaknesses.  He challenges each student at his or her very own level.  He pushes them.  Hard.  But not so hard they can't handle it.  He does crazy things like have them write their spelling words in Nutella.  He sings crazy songs with them.  He sits on the floor with them.  I'm guessing he spends many many hours outside of the classroom, countless dollars out of his own pocket, so that these kids can each thrive.  

It's not just him, either.  This district is full of small classes and big hearts.  There are teachers in every classroom that have the best interest of the children in mind and who work hard to help them excel.  There are administrators with strong heads on their shoulders and the dedication to back up their ideas.

I'm not saying there aren't good teachers or administrators in the local district.  There are tons of great teachers there, too, who are equally as dedicated as those in the district we've chosen.  Their expertise is overshadowed, though, but the constant shifting, regrouping, and experimentation the district's administration has chosen in an attempt to make the district "competitive."

So, today, I am thankful for the opportunity to make choices for my own children, to ensure that they are getting the very most out of their educations, both in the classroom and out.  

Dear Lord, thank you for our teachers and administrators.  Thank you for the job they do each and every day, giving selflessly to our children.  Thank you for the dedication so many of them have to help guide our children academically.  Thank you so much for putting them in the paths of our children and giving them the words to use to push our kids forward!  Lord, please help the teachers to be encouraged.  Help them to be healthy and of strong minds.  If there is a specific way that I can support and encourage my own children's teachers, please make it abundantly clear to me.  Thank you, thank you, for a public education system and the ability to choose!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 8

A month ago today I started a new medication.  I know it was a month ago today because it was the exact same day that I weighed in and announced to all of you that I had lost 42 pounds!  One of the most common side effects of that medication is weight gain.  The nurse that visited my house and taught me about the medication told me that it's very common for patients to gain 5-10 pounds in the first WEEK of being on the medication, and then up to 5 pounds a month thereafter!  This terrifies me, because as you know I've worked pretty hard to take off over 40 pounds and the last thing I want to do it pile it all right back on because of some stupid medicine.  I decided right then and there that I was determined NOT to join that statistic!

Today, then, I am thankful for LeanGreenMama.  In case you haven't been around long, 5 months ago I set out on a journey with LeanGreenMama.  I promised to stick to her 6 week bootcamp for...well, 6 weeks, and tell my readers how well it did (or didn't) work.  The plan worked SO well that I've stuck with it for 5 months now!

I'm thankful for LeanGreenMama this month, especially, because I have not gained the 5-15 pounds that the nurse told me was almost inevitable!  Hooray!  I gained 3 pounds that first week.  It scared me.  I got even more strict about my eating.  I fought those pounds.  I lost 5 pounds!  And then I gained 4 pounds.  As you can see, it's been a bit of a yo-yo month.  Normally I would be terribly frustrated about this, because as you all know women don't like the yo-yo-ing.  But friends?  I am so very thankful to LeanGreenMama for showing me how to eat for life, rather than leading me into another diet.  Because of your encouragement and support, I've been able to essential maintain my 40 pound loss (yes, I'm currently sitting at 40 pounds down) rather than gaining as anticipated!  I'm working on finding some ways to amp up my exercise, so that I can begin, once again, losing and reach my goals!

Dear Lord, thank you for modern medicine.  Thank you for the benefits, which far outweigh the risks!  Thank you for companies and individuals who are will to give of themselves, their time, and their efforts, in order to help others succeed at goals.  Thank you for putting Jennifer from LeanGreenMama in my path at exactly the time I needed her, even though I didn't know yet how vital her role would become.  Thank you, thank you, for always providing!