Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sisterly Love

Ahhh...sisters. Sisters that love each other. It is always fabulous when Emma and Avery are not screaming and hitting one another. When they can sit comfortably next to each other without someone bleeding from a scratch mark.

But inevitably, someone sooner or later feels the mad impulse to just touch the other one. And it all goes down hill from there. You can see Avery just thinking, "What will she do if I just touch her nose? Let's find out..."

The death glare. Avery has learned how to quickly retreat to the other end of the chair. Why is it they just can't leave well enough alone?

Sometimes It's Worth Complaining

This past Valentine's Day my lovely husband decided to break his own rule about buying overpriced flowers for the occasion and had a dozen roses delivered via Fed Ex. It just isn't romantic until you have to upwrap each flower and piece of greenery one by one and arrange the flowers yourself! I'm just kidding. The flowers were a very nice surprise and obviously many of the on-line flower businesses ship their arrangements this way so that everything makes it in one piece.

So I got all of the flowers arranged in the vase that came packed separately from each of the flowers and called Michael to thank him. When he got home that evening, he was a little disappointed to see what he had spent his money on since many of the flowers were already drooping and one looked like something you send to someone on their 40th birthday.

So he called ProFlowers and explained his disappointment in the quality. They immediately sent out another package that I received a few days later. Only this time, I got to unwrap 24 individual roses and greenery stems. It seriously took me at least 45 minutes to an hour to get everything unwrapped, trimmed and in water. You can see from this photo that the time was well worth it - the flowers are really gorgeous and are still holding up for the most part. I was able to donate the first round to Emma and Avery's rooms which always thrills Emma. She loves having fresh flowers in her bedroom.

And the bottom line is...always complain if you are not happy about something. It'll make you feel better and most of the time, businesses will do their best to make up for their mistakes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lenten Sacrifice

Ash Wednesday. It's hard to believe that it is already here marking the beginning of the 40 days of Lent. This time each year we struggle to determine just what the right Lenten sacrifice would be. In the past I've given up French fries (trust me - this was a biggie for me), candy, soft drinks and on and on. Generally it has revolved around food but there are lots of other non-edible ideas such as television, video games, going to the movies or shopping.

Anyway, I came upon these other suggestions from God's Little Acre that I thought were terrific ways to approach Lent and fasting and wanted to share.

Give up complaining - Focus on gratitude

Philippians 2:14&15 – Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure…

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.

Give up bitterness - Turn to forgiveness

Ephesians 4:31 – Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

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

Give up worry - Trust in God

Matthew 6:25 – “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… who by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

Matthew 6:33 – But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Give up discouragement - Be full of hope

Deuteronomy 31:8 – The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you: he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Isaiah 40:31 – But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Give up hatred - Return good for evil

1 John 2:9 – Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.

Luke 6:27 – “But I tell you who hear me; Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

Give up anger - Be more patient

Matthew 5:22 – But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.

Proverbs 15:18 – A hot tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.

Give up gossiping - Control your tongue

Psalm 34:13 – Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.

Proverbs 21:23 – He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Am I Seeing Double?

Avery and Emma love playing with Mr. Potato Head. At this point we've accumulated at least four or five different Potato Heads so there is no fighting and plenty to go around.

The Bunny Potato Head with dual vision is Emma's latest creation. The interesting thing is that this is not the first time she has provided Mr. Potato Head with several sets of eyes. When I asked her why two sets, she said, "I just like those eyes. Those are cute eyes." O.K....

And here is Avery's...

She has the Safari Mouse version. Their Potato Heads are very well cared for. They get carted around in baby strollers and as you can see, are even able to join the table for lunch.

Well, it is naptime. I've got to run and get the girls to clean up Mr. Potato Heads parts and lure them to bed.

Etsy for Cora Paige

Etsy has been around since June 2005, but I just stumbled upon the site a few months ago. It is a terrific website that allows users to buy and sell handmade items. There are so many cute things available from adorable handmade children's clothing, hairbows, stationary and artwork.

One of the blogs that I have been following is Jessica McClenahan's. Jessica shares her beautiful daughter Cora and her fight with stage 4 cancer after being diagnosed at 10-months-old. Little Cora passed away 3 weeks after her diagnosis and her family asked for donations to be made in lieu of flowers for the building of a special playground in memory of Cora.

I just read on Jessica's blog, which can be found on my sidebar, how the Esty community has come together and many are donating their time, skills and proceeds for items made and sold towards Cora's playground. You can read the article on Etsy here and see the listing of Cora items here. This sweet child's tutu is one of the Cora items being sold for $17.50.

It is a really nice way to contribute to Cora's memory and purchase items for your little ones at the same time!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Walgreens Pringles Sale

I just came back from running a few errands and had to share a great deal found at my local Walgreens. Right now they have 6 oz. (regular size) can of Pringles Potato Chips for $.45 - all flavors.

If you eat Pringles in your household it might be worth a phone call to your local Walgreens to see if they are offering the same promotion. I hadn't seen it advertised in any of their recent flyers so I was thrilled about this deal. And it just so happens that we ran out of Pringles last night so can't beat the timing! Anyway, thought I'd share. Enjoy the Oscars - it's one of my favorites nights of the year!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Emma's Patriotic Parade

The three-year-olds at Emma's preschool held a "Patriotic Parade" this morning for parents and the two-year-old and four-year-old classes.

This basically amounted to every child asked to dress in red, white and blue and they proudly showcased their handmade patriotic headbands while carrying the American flag.

The classes paraded around in a giant loop and stopped to recite the Pledge of Allegiance that they have been learning for several weeks now.

Emma was doing well in her parade line until she saw me. There is something about me showing up to her school events that sets her off every time and sure enough, she started crying. Luckily, she was able to get herself back under control quickly and even posed for some good pictures. These are often hard to come by with Emma so I was thrilled that she was actually smiling.

Lounging with Balloons

The girls are still getting enjoyment out of their Dollar Store Valentine's balloons. Michael snapped this picture last night of the two vegging out on the couch watching T.V. with balloons in hand.

You would think the dollar version would wither quickly but unfortunately I have learned that is not the case. Ryan's birthday balloon (purchased at the Dollar Store) from early January is still hanging around his bedroom. Sadly, the balloons generally meet their demise when I am able to discreetly cut a hole in the balloons when children aren't around!

It sounds mean, but you just can't have Valentine balloons hanging around the house when it comes upon St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Beginning Coupon Success

O.K., so I didn't save piles of money! But I did have some beginning success with my couponing adventure. Since we haven't subscribed to the Sunday newspaper in some time, I didn't have access to many coupons I could have doubled up on for savings. Starting this weekend that will all change and I will start clipping coupons from the newspaper. Plus I have just started saving the grocery store ads and such for extra coupons.

So I had to use what manufacturer coupons I could find on the Internet and leaned heavily on advice found on to plan my shopping list and organize coupons.

I did my grocery shopping at Publix which I haven't done much in the past because I generally spent more money. However, I called my local store and the manager told me that they will accept competitor coupons - even coupons for competitor brand products. For example, I was able to use a Food Lion general meat coupon for $1.00 savings off of a $5.00 meat purchase.

My money seemed to go further and I was able to purchase many products I wouldn't normally splurge on because of sales, such as New York strips, a deli rotisserie chicken, etc. Plus they had so many Buy 1 Get 1 Free deals, I was able to stock up on juice boxes, cereal and Trix yogurt -items which are staples in our household.

At the end I saved over $34.00 which I thought was pretty good considering the lack of coupons I had to begin with. Hopefully I'll do even better next week.

One thing I was very excited about was the Walgreens rebates combined with their in-store sales. Walgreens had Buy 1 Get 1 Free Revlon cream lip gloss for $9.99. And then they offered a $9.99 rebate for the product which you can submit online. So I was able to get $20.00 worth of lip gloss for free! They also had Colgate toothpaste on close-out for $1.79 and I found an on-line coupon for $1.50 off so I spent $.29 on a large tube of toothpaste.

Anyway, I'll keep you updated on any great deals I encounter. I'm having fun with this, although Michael isn't the most supportive. His response to my hourly planning and coupon hunting session was, "Is it really worth your time?"

I have saved a combined amount of at least $56 so far so it seems worth an hour's worth of investigative work to me!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Digging Away...

The weather has been so much nicer this past week and I love the fact that the kids can finally get outside and play more. One of the girls' favorite outdoor activities is digging in our wood chips that surround our play area in the back yard.

They can play for hours with their shovels and the wheelbarrow filling it up and dumping it out. It's great - they get outdoor time and I get some indoor quiet time to clean downstairs. Of course the windows are open and I can see them the entire time!

I think it might be time to invest in a few more shovels and play toys though. It appears that the shovel Avery was using has already lost its handle!

Poor Avery. It's a running joke in the family since she always seems to be the one that gets shafted. Maybe her standing will improve a little better once the new baby joins the family.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hopefully everyone had a nice Valentine's weekend. We sort of stretched our festivities out over Friday and Saturday. Avery's preschool had another babysitting evening fundraiser so we were able to drop all three of the kids off at the church from the hours of 5-9 p.m. They had a lot of fun between the movies, a puppet show, dancing, art activities and a hot dog dinner.

So Michael and I took advantage of the evening and had dinner at Lexington Arms Restaurant in Lexington. I was able to get a $25 coupon for $4 from and it helped us enjoy a very nice evening of steak and lobster (me) and prime rib (Michael). We had several hours to kill after dinner and to tell the truth, we were trying very hard to come up with things to do for two hours before picking up the kids. We ended up browsing the bookstore and picked up our dry cleaning. It was exciting! Now I know why we don't go out much!

I kid. I don't know if it was so much us - or the lack of things to do in our hopping little town of Lexington! Plus, when you are pregnant the after dinner drink just doesn't jive. Oh well!

Ryan woke up in the middle of the night feeling sick and sure enough he had caught a stomach virus. So he spent all day Saturday and part of Sunday in bed. It kind of hampered my Valentine plans for the kids a little bit since I had planned out a fun dinner for them. I made everything anyway, although little got eaten that night.

I hit up the Dollar Store and got each of them Valentine balloons. Then I made heart shaped pepperoni pizzas, sliced strawberries, Jello heart shaped jigglers, pink lemonade and Valentine cupcakes.

These are the pizzas before they went into the oven. When they came out of the oven, they didn't resemble hearts nearly as much.

Emma and Avery had the entire table to themselves. I had to bring Ryan's Valentine meal up to him in bed by tray. I don't think he ate anything except for the strawberries.

Michael made dinner for me Saturday evening after the kids were fed. He tried a new recipe and made chicken primavera. He is starting cook a little bit more in the kitchen since lately I have had no desire to be anywhere near the kitchen. I am just going through a stage where nothing ever sounds good to eat. So Michael is starting to fend for himself knowing that his other options are making a sandwich or bringing in take-out.

After dinner and the kids were put to bed, we rented "Burn After Reading" since we hadn't seen a movie in awhile. Unfortunately, me and movies don't get along anymore either and I slept all the way through it. How romantic!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Frugal Coupon Mom Blogsite

In this economy I think all of us are trying to be a little bit more frugal. I have never been into cutting, organizing, planning, and using coupons, but I found this new blogsite called The Frugal Coupon Mom and I am really excited to see if I can save a little money on groceries and other household items. The author of the blog, Ashley, takes so much of the headache out of studying store weekly ads and finding the best deals that match up with coupons available.

On top of all the great store product buys, she also highlights assorted freebies and discounts at restaurants and top retailers. For example, she posted a code for free movies at your local RedBox video rental unit and a coupon for a Buy One Get One Free dinner at TGIFs.

I'll keep you posted on how I fair with my grocery savings next week.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Please Pray for Katie Fitch

***Update: Katie passed away on her birthday, Sunday, February 15, 2009. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.

I have been following Angie Smith's blog, Bring the Rain, for some time now. If you are not familiar with her site, I strongly encourage you to take a look. She is inspirational to read. Angie keeps up with many prayer requests through her Twitter account and I have been following a number of blogsites documenting several small children's fights with cancer.

Katie Fitch is the little 3-year old girl in the photo above and her older sister has been keeping a journal of Katie's progresses and set-backs in her fight with hepatoblastoma, a type of childhood cancer. Katie lives in Florence, South Carolina and I have been especially touched by her story since she is in such close proximity to us. Maybe because I am pregnant, or maybe just because I have a little girl her age, it is difficult to see how much she is struggling as she is not expected to be here much longer.

I just ask that you keep Katie and her family in your prayers and keep praying for a miracle that only God can provide to heal Katie completely.

Emma's Great Lego Tower!

This picture pretty much sums up everything I could possibly say but I thought it was too cute not to share. Emma and Avery spent a great deal of time building this tower of Legos one evening while Michael and I ate dinner.

Emma was very proud of her creation and seeing as it was about to topple over any second I decided I'd better get a picture in quick!

It has been entertaining to see what Emma has been playing with most lately. As much as she still enjoys her babies, tea parties, and stuffed animals - she has been playing with the Thomas trains, building the train tracks and creating with Legos. Go figure!

And yes, she is not wearing any pants and no, this is not something we generally condone. And yes, that is her doctor's stethoscope around her neck. When she isn't busy engineering buildings, she also likes to give family members check-ups. She is a woman of many talents!

Michael's Birthday Celebration and the Circus

Michael's birthday was February 3rd so we celebrated with a little family evening after work that evening. The kids each handmade a card for their daddy and presented their masterpieces one by one.

We had a few presents for him to open and I made a special dinner - Pioneer Woman's pan-fried ribeye steak with roasted garlic mashed potatoes. It's good stuff and a great recipe if it is a bit too cold to light up the grill outside.

I have given him a choice of cake and ice cream. So I made a German chocolate cake and served it with chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream. This was obviously not a Weight Watchers meal! But special occasions call for occasional splurges.

This weekend we took the kids to the Royal Hanneford Circus in town. I brought the camera but between the food, three kids, and balancing everything on stadium benches, it was too much to take pictures. I grabbed a couple of photos of the kids in the stands.

We ate our share of food that fell into the same food group as Michael's birthday dinner...fat food. The kids enjoyed popcorn, cotton candy and French fries. They got a kick out of the elephants, the monkeys and the dogs all doing an array of tricks.

Emma got scared each time they turned the lights down low to set up in between acts and would start panicking saying,"Are we going home now? I want to go home!"

Now if you asked her if she enjoyed the circus she would tell you what a great time she had. It was the first thing she said to her preschool director today as she was getting out of the car! She wasn't crazy about the clowns either but then...can't really blame her for that. Clowns are scary!

I'm not really sure what was going on with Avery in this moment. She tends to ham up for every photo moment so I think this was her version of an exaggerated smile!

After the circus we grabbed lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. Avery spent most of her time visiting with the workers and they enjoyed picking her up and talking to her. They even gave her free candy on the way out.

We can't go anywhere nowadays without attracting a crowd thanks to Avery. On her way out of any restaurant she feels the need to walk around from table to table saying a personal "goodbye" to everyone.

She used to be so shy - it was the part of the reason I was so adamant about enrolling her in preschool! No more a wallflower - she is the center of everyone's attention - whether you like it or not.