Monday, March 30, 2009

Pray for little Stellan

Please keep MckMama's youngest 5-month-old son, Stellan, in your prayers right now. Stellan has been struggling with SVT for over a week now. SVT is a type of heart rhythm disorder in which the heart beats faster than normal.

They have been trying all different kinds of treatments and medications but nothing has worked successfully yet to bring him out of SVT. His little heart is getting worn out continually going at this fast rate and his heart is no longer pumping blood very well to his extremities.

You can follow his mother's blog and updates here at: and you can find a link to her blog on my blog list on my side panel or just by clicking on the "Stellan" button on the right.

Please keep Stellan and his family in your prayers and pray for guidance for his doctors and nurses as they continue to try and bring Stellan's heart into a normal rhythm.

My spring blog makeover

As you have probably noticed, I have just updated the look of my blog with something a little more "springy." Considering that my last blog template was titled "brrrr," it was a needed update.

Both of my last templates have been found (for free!) on LeeLou Blogs. Take a look at their many cute templates and buttons that are available free of charge. They also can customize your blog look for a very reasonable price. I just love their designs!

Jesus is in my heart

As I have mentioned before, we are dealing with some restless and overly tired children lately as we try to get Emma and Avery adapted to sleeping in the same room together. As it goes every night, we put them in the same room and after numerous visits to remind them that it is time to go to sleep, eventually Avery gets bumped out of the room and placed back in her crib.

So the other night I went upstairs because I heard Avery screaming in her crib after Michael had moved her. Somehow she had managed to turn on her overhead light and was being kept awake. Once we got the light switched off, all was well with her and I was heading back down the stairs.

Then I heard a little whimpering voice coming from Emma's room. I went in to check on her and she said she couldn't sleep because she was scratchy. I told her that it was just the fabric from her pajamas and she needed to close her eyes and get some sleep.

That's when she changed directions and asked, "Mommy, who is in our hearts?"

I answered, "Jesus, honey. Jesus is in our hearts."

She replied, "Is Jesus trying to scratch His way out of my heart?"

I hadn't seen that one coming so I laughed and explained the best that I could that Jesus' love was in our hearts and the scratching was her pajamas rubbing against her skin, not anything else.

That seemed to satisfy her because she finally fell asleep.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Week 22 in my pregnancy

This is my fourth pregnancy and sadly, this in one of the few photos I have of myself pregnant. I am generally the one behind the camera taking pictures so very few get snapped of me. Plus, I don't photograph that well and I really don't like seeing pictures of myself.

But I am trying to get over that a little bit and actually have someone take a few pictures of me during this pregnancy so I can remember what I looked like at different stages.

So above is my week 22 pregnancy photo. According to BabyCenter, the baby is around 11 inches (the length of a spaghetti squash) and almost 1 pound.

My next doctor's appointment is April 7th, so I'll get to see the little one again in the follow-up ultrasound and I'll get to take glucose-tolerance test #2! I love those glucose-tolerance tests - can't wait!

Great (and not so great) consignment buys!

Two weeks ago I participated in a local children's consignment show called Belles and Beaus. This was the second time I had consigned clothing in the sale but I have shopped the sale numerous times (since Emma was a baby).

When you consign your children's items you get to attend a special early shopping night held before the general public is allowed to shop. This is a nice bonus since you get first dibs on some of the nicer items. Although they sell everything from clothing, toys, bedding, movies, etc., I usually stick to shopping for next season's kids' clothing (in this case, spring and summer.)

The adorable little red sailor dress Avery has on in the first picture was one of my great deals. The dress was $3 and is in perfect condition. For that price, I figured she could wear a pair of white bloomers underneath and play in it. And when she wore it recently on a warm day, it looked so cute on her!

And then there is this great deal...

I saw this orange knit shirt and blue jean short combo on the rack for $4 or $5 dollars and thought, "What a deal!" And as an extra bonus - the top was orange! Perfect for warm Clemson football Saturdays.

What I didn't realize until I put the outfit on Emma last weekend, was that the top is midriff style and is cut off a little short. This makes it an unflattering look for a four-year-old whose belly I am not ready to see hanging out from under clothing. Uggghhh!

Seriously, who dresses their four-year-old like that? On purpose?!? So I guess the little orange top will have to reside as an around-the-house play top or hide underneath buttoned up cardigan sweaters. Oh well - so much for that great deal!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Is that sports enthusiasm I see?

Ryan isn't the most athletic of kids. We have signed him up for karate, soccer and t-ball and he has completed each season and then promptly told us that he wanted to take a break from sports for awhile. He is the one we always thought would eventually sign up for acting lessons and drawing seminars since he has always been more interested in the creative side of things.

But lately he has shown renewed interest in soccer. He has asked Michael to practice with him each evening and so they have been getting out in the back yard and playing a little bit of freestyle soccer.

If he keeps showing interest in the sport, we might even take a look at a summer soccer clinic. For a boy who dislikes gym class, this is a big step in the right direction!

Our Weekend and My Dream House

We stayed close to home this weekend and enjoyed the beautiful weather outside. We ran some errands on Saturday afternoon but primarily our routine seemed to be fixed around one constant lately - the T.V. on with a basketball game playing. I think I have watched more basketball the past few weeks than I have over the course of my life.

Sunday we took the kids to eat outside at Sonic after church -not something we will be repeating anytime soon since none of them ate their food! We then went and looked at a spec house in a nearby neighborhood. The floorplan was nice and it could even be built with 6 bedrooms which was a big deal to us.

Our house is four bedrooms and has been a great house to us the past 7 years. However, as we approach July and the addition of another family member, we are starting to feel a little squeezed for room. We purchased two matching twin beds for Emma's room thinking we would try rooming Emma and Avery for a little while. We have been trying to get the girls adjusted to sleeping in a room together for the past three nights but it is not going very well. They run around together upstairs, pulling toys out everywhere and make as much noise as possible. Eventually, we cave and place Avery back in her crib.

So we have been casually looking at homes for sale in our area and contemplating what we need to do to our house to make it market ready.

This beautiful house pictured above is my dream home. It has over 4,000 square feet of space, a large gourmet kitchen, a garage big enough for 6 cars, 6 bedrooms and it is located in a lake access community with a dock and boat ramp just feet away. Ahhhh - if only we could afford it! It amazes me (because this house is soooo gorgeous) that it is still on the market and has been for months now. It is an expensive house but its price is comparable to other like homes located in lake communities.

Anyway, we'll see what the future holds. Meanwhile, I can drive by my dream home and pretend!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

FREE Wood Thomas Trains

Print out your coupon here for a FREE wooden Thomas the Tank, Sound and Lights Percy, Sir Handel, or Peter Sam train at Toys R Us this Saturday, March 21st or Sunday, March 22nd.

We just got back from our Toys R Us visit and picked up two of the wooden trains (my girls love them!) absolutely free - no catches. These are generally around $17.00 retail so even if you don't have a child into Thomas it is well worth the effort and holding onto for a present or to giveaway.

We printed out two of the coupons and Michael and I split up and "paid" for them separately at different registers. They were already out of the Percy trains so I would urge you to use the coupon sooner than later or at least call ahead and make sure they have them in stock. Our Toys R Us had plenty of the other trains still in stock.

If you do visit the store, take a look at the board game aisle. They have lots of kids (and adult) games on clearance for as low as $4.97. Not a bad deal!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Couponing Update

It has been a little over a month since I started clipping coupons, signing up for freebies, and watching my grocery money like a hawk. The other day I was at my local Publix and chased down a woman buying Pillsbury refrigerated cookie dough because she failed to peel off a $.55 cent coupon located on the display rack. I think everyone should try and save their pennies, especially when it is right in front of you. These days, there is no need to be throwing your money away.

Although I am no master couponer, I have come a long way and thought I'd share my experience. I do buy a copy of the Sunday newspaper each week now, primarily for the coupons. As I have posted before, I have organized my coupons into a binder that makes it fairly easy to locate individual coupons as needed.

I have also registered on a number of sites that send me periodic e-mails with coupons. The most useful to me personally is the Food Lion "Shoppers' Companion" because I am able to use those coupons for money off at Publix. The night before I go grocery shopping I sit down with my Publix grocery list usually obtained from the Frugal Coupon Living or Deal Seeking Mom blogsites and determine which items I am going to buy. I try to only purchase the items which are on sale (and mostly made up of their B1G1 free products) for which I have coupons as well. If I have a competitor (aka Food Lion) coupon that I can combine with a manufacturer coupon found on the Internet or from my Sunday inserts even better.

One of my best deals this week was the CapriSun 10-pack juice boxes on sale at Publix for $2.00. With my $1.00 off Food Lion coupon, I was able to get the 10-pack of juice boxes for a $1.00 a piece!

A great deal to look out for this week is the frozen Green Giant Vegetables at Publix. They are on sale for a $1.00 a piece (advertised at 10/$10.00). With the $.60 off of two coupon found on-line, I was able to get two boxes at $.70 a piece.

Obviously this stuff excites me a little too much because I could go on and on! Another exciting thing that started this week was my free magazines. FREE! I am a magazine junkie and was spending probably at least $5-$10.00 a week sometimes buying magazines.

With the magazine freebie deals found at the frugal coupon sites, I completed a number of short (less than two minute) surveys and registered for free yearly subscriptions of countless magazines. I have to say I was a little distrustful that I would actually see these magazines arrive at my house, but I can put all fears laid to rest since I started receiving 3 of these free magazines this week including: Parents, Family Circle, and Forbes.

On each of my weekly shopping trips where I used to spend $100-$150 on food, household cleaners/supplies, and diapers/wipes, I am now spending an average of $70 and saving an average of $70 per shopping trip. So I am able to stockpile much more food and supplies for less money. I now have enough cleaning and beauty supplies to last our household for quite awhile!

Now I am trying to get my grocery shopping down to a twice-a-month chore. With what I purchased this week, I have more than enough food to feed our family for two weeks. I will probably still be stopping by the store though to stock up on perishables that our family goes through quickly: bananas, apples, lettuce, etc.

So that is where I stand on the couponing thing. So far so good. If you are not taking advantage of your coupons and store deals, I certainly encourage you to take a look at it and at least start slowly. Every bit saved helps. I know I feel better splurging on little things like giving my son $.50 extra on Fridays for an ice cream snack after lunch at school!

Tea Party for Two

This is one of my girls' favorite activities - having tea parties. After much spilled water all over the bedroom carpet and bathroom, I've had to mandate that all tea parties occur downstairs in the kitchen. This way I can keep an eye on the amount of water that is being poured and provide quick and easy clean-up for the accidental tea messes.

The girls can just sit at their little table forever, pouring and drinking "tea." It is one easy way to keep them hydrated I suppose.

On another note, I know it seems like I spend infinitely more time photographing and posting about the girls and poor Ryan gets left out of the picture much of the time. I feel bad but I spend a lot of alone time with the girls during the day (while Ryan is at school) and it is so easy to snap pictures then. However, I am going to make it one of my goals this weekend to get some good pics of Ryan. We'll see what we come up with!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Monkey Joes

Last Friday Michael took half a day off of work and we pulled Ryan out of school an hour early and made our way to Greenville to meet up with Michael's parents..aka Papa and Nana.

We met up at Monkey Joes - another indoor kids' play area with the giant blowup jumpy things. We have a Monkey Joes that is currently in the process of being constructed right down the road from us. Emma has been so excited about their opening and always comments on it each time we drive by.
All three of the kids loved the giant slide and Emma spent a good portion of time just climbing and sliding down. Avery loved it too, but she was a little too small to climb up by herself. So she enlisted the help of her father.

As you can see from the above photo, he was loving the slide!

Ryan made a friend while we were there and the two basically ran around together the entire time.

After a lack of (or in Emma's case, shortened) naps and an hour's worth of running and playing hard, we decided to take them out to eat in a restaurant. Not one of our brightest moments as it wasn't exactly the most relaxed meal for any of us!

However, the kids enjoyed themselves and I'm sure we will be frequenting our local Monkey Joes during the coming hot summer days.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Emma's Birthday Photos

I'm a little slow getting these photos from Emma's birthday posted but better late than never, right? She had a low key birthday evening with presents and cake. She had asked for a Dora themed cake, but after calling around I just didn't want to drop $20-$30 on a sheet cake for the five of us. I had to get a little creative and the cake pictured above is the result.

Although the decorating leaves much to be desired, the cake itself turned out yummy! I made a chocolate cake recipe that I found online and it turned out so moist and delicious. I think I single-handedly finished off most of the cake! To see the recipe, click here:

Her cousin Hannah made a beautiful card to go along with the birthday present that is now hanging on our refrigerator. Thanks Hannah!

Emma received several new Leapster games which she was thrilled about. Previously, she only had one game that was a hand-me-down from Ryan.

She also received a new swim baby that swims in the bathtub - so now Swim Puppy will no longer be lonely. She received lots of new baby doll clothes so all of her babies are being well dressed these days. She also got an adorable new dress which she wore to school the very next day.

And she also received a monogrammed beach towel in her favorite color (pink!). This beach towel was very exciting to Emma and it spent a number of evenings on her bed before I finally persuaded her to pack it away for upcoming pool/beach days.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Party

St. Patrick's Day has arrived and of course it is as good a reason as any to have a class party at school. Back at the end of the summer I had intelligently volunteered to handle Avery's preschool St. Pat's party and help out with Emma's class party. Luckily, Avery's party consisted of putting together a few party foods, juice boxes and plates and napkins and dropping them off with her.

Emma's class parties are a little bit more elaborate with crafts, food and activities. Parents are invited to come help set up and hang out during these occasions.

After perusing the Internet for cute St. Patrick's Day kid ideas (and finding very few that didn't involve pistachio pudding), I decided to make shamrock sugar cookies, mini cupcakes and a Lucky Charm snack mix.

I guess once you enter first grade, St. Patrick's Day class parties are passé. His class did a little bit of leprechaun writing and artwork instead.

So after dropping Avery and Emma off at their preschools and conducting a hour's worth of marathon grocery shopping, I hurried over to Emma's school for the party.

When I arrived, all of the children were canvassing the school yard for leprechauns. Although they were never able to catch one, they were fortunate enough to find the pot of gold and each child brought home their own bag of chocolate gold coins.

While they were looking for mischevious little green men, we were able to set up the food for the party. The kids enjoyed their food and then broke into small groups for a few craft activities.

This, pictured above, is what I had the pleasure of helping small 4-year-olds piece together with glue. These little "flower pot" leprechauns were very tricky indeed. I am not sure most adults would voluntarily attempt to put these together with their many small parts and pieces that needed to be individually glued on, let alone small children with glue impairments.

However, we managed and hopefully when the children bring their crafts home to show Mom and Dad, they won't breathe a word that there were actually adults that helped because it certainly didn't look like it.

I snapped a few pictures of Emma in her surroundings while I was there. As usual when it came time for me to leave (I had to rush home, unload and put away the groceries that had been idling in my trunk for an hour), she of course, broke into tears and grabbed onto my leg.

Fortunately, one of her teachers took her along on a visit to the work room to retrieve more paper so I was able to sneak out!

As customary in our household, I have our corned beef, cabbage and veggies simmering away in the crockpot for dinner tonight. It should smell fantastic in here soon - nothing like the smell of cabbage bursting through the house when you are pregnant. Thank goodness it is a nice day and we are able to open windows!

Have a great St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Peak at Baby #4

I had my first ultrasound done on Tuesday morning and was able to get my first glimpse of our newest family member. The above ultrasound picture is a profile view of baby #4 from the side. It was the best shot of the bunch (I also have fabulous pictures of an arm, leg, etc. -how exciting!)

As fantastic as it is to finally see the little one moving, I must say the 3-D ultrasound that was done with one of Avery's ultrasounds produced much better photographs!

The good news is that everything looks good and the baby appears healthy. Unfortunately, the baby was sitting Indian-style and the technician was unable to see all of the spine or make out the gender (which wasn't a problem for us since we do not want to know the sex of the baby.) I will get to have another ultrasound done on my next visit in a month to get a better view of the spine. I am hoping maybe I can snag a few more good shots of the baby at the same time!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Leapin' Lizards!

In anticipation of Emma's 4th birthday, we asked her what she would like to do this year. We try to plan a fun family activity based on the child's preference and let them choose where they would like to eat. Emma was very adamant about where she wanted to go this year. In fact, she had her special day planned out months in advance!

When asked where she wanted to go, she quickly replied, "Leapin' Lizards!"

Leapin' Lizards is a kids' indoor play area. Unlike a lot of other indoor play areas that just have the big bouncy things, Leapin' Lizards has numerous things for children of all ages to do. They have one dedicated bouncy thing for smaller children under three and a baby play area with floor mats and age relevant toys. They also have two large jumpies for the older children but as you can see from these photos, they have so much more than that.

They have a play kitchen, puppet playhouse, dress up area, puzzles and on and on.

Ryan enjoyed jumping most of the time, but the girls really got into everything else offered.

The rocking horses were a big hit with all three of them!

So he's a little big for these things...

We enjoyed an hour or so playing at the facility and then dined out birthday style for lunch. Emma's restaurant of choice...Chick-Fil-A! Big spender! I, myself, was trying to talk her into California Dreaming but that didn't fly with the almost four-year-old so Chick-Fil-A it was.

A Day at the Park

I am loving this beautiful weather we have been having lately and it has been inspiring us to get out of the house and enjoy the fresh air. The kids love spending time at our local parks and we are very lucky to have two nice ones located right here in small scale Lexington.

There is a nice large park nearby where every preschooler, mother, nanny, daycare, etc. go to enjoy picnics and the playground equipment. And then there is the other park we choose to go to most of the time: Corley Street Park. It is an older and smaller park hidden away and most people that live in Lexington don't even realize it is there. And that makes it the perfect park in my book. They have a couple of picnic shelters so you can pull up right next to the shelter, unload your kids and food and not worry about fighting over picnic tables or playground equipment. During the summer months they even have a spray fountain for kids to run through.

We spent much of last summer there and most of the time we were the only ones there. I am always shocked when other people show up. Although it must be catching on, on a recent trip to the park two other families were there at the same time - wow!

There are two swings - a regular swing and a baby swing so it works out perfect for the girls. They could sit and swing all day. They even take turns once I have given out and push each other on the swings.

They also have a large metal slide reminiscent of my childhood days that Emma was nervous climbing up and sliding down. They added newer jungle gym equipment too, that has smaller slides perfect for Avery.

It is always nice to try and wear them out for a few hours and makes naptime so much easier when we get home!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy 4th Birthday, Emma!

My little girl is four!!! I can hardly believe it and she has just changed so much in four short years. I have pulled together a bunch of pictures of Emma from these past few years. They are just all jumbled together and in no particular order.

Happy birthday, Emma! We love you very much!