Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

 We've been busy having a lot of fun around here!
Friday was Cloe's Fall Party at school.  My parents stayed with the boys so I could help out with all the fun!
Cloe loves her 2nd grade teacher (on the left) and her art teacher (on the right).

Every year since we've been married, Cody has carved a pumpkin for us.  
He had some great help this year!
 They're all interested in getting the seeds out so we can roast them!
 I love how much brotherly affection there is between Carson and McClain.  
They've always just called each other "brother"instead of by name, but now they've started to say "Buddy" and "Best Friend".  
It's just too stinkin' sweet!  
They love their sister quite a bit, too!

Cloe's artist costume was finally completed when we found a black beret at a garage sale on Friday!  Woot!
 Ready to go!  I'll spare you the video of them "warming up" by running crazy circles in the yard! 
It was seriously the silliest I've ever seen them act!  Getting candy has strange effects on children!

Our sweet neighbor lady listened intently to the "original" Halloween jokes.

 Today, we broke out some new fall clothes!
Thankfully we all don't change sizes and require a new wardrobe every year!

***Phew, that was a lot of pictures!

I do have one last question / need for advice from all of you on a horrible experience we had this afternoon.

McClain was blowing away on a little plastic bat whistle that he got last night.  Suddenly, he started screaming and grabbing his mouth.  He was freaking out and yelling that he was being burned.  The only thing that would ease the pain was to literally stick his mouth under a cool stream of water in the kitchen sink. 
We assessed his mouth and didn't see any cuts, burns or blisters, so I called our pediatrician and left a message with his answering service.  
As we waited, McClain gradually got so he could take his mouth away from the water and just have a wet cloth on it.
In all, we think he had his mouth being "washed" for about 30 minutes and then another 30 minutes with a cool damp cloth.  (a lot of time that time was crying and screaming)
Our pediatrician advised us that he may have had an allergic reaction to the plastic in the whistle since it was directly on his mouth for several minutes.  Laytex allergies often come on with a burn feeling.  We gave him benadryl just in case.

It was seriously the scariest moment to see him grabbing at his mouth, writhing in pain, and screaming that it was burning.

Have any of you had any experiences like this with your children?
Do you know any children who have allergies to plastic?
What in the world is on that stinkin' bat whistle?
I saved it in case I find a recall or a place to test it.

I'll take any answers, advice, or just your two cents worth on the situation!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Frightful Night!

Four years ago, Beggar's Night started out perfectly: 
Cody walked with Cloe in the neighborhood costume parade.  

We played fun games and ate delicious food 
with our wonderful neighbors.  

I returned home with the baby boy pumpkins 
to hand out sugary candy to the cute costumed children. 
 Cody started his treck around the neighborhood with Cloe 
to get lots and lots of candy!  
She was very excited!

It seemed like the perfect Beggar's Night plan.
Then a calamity struck!
I stepped out the door to hand out some candy 
to a cute little ballerina, 
and the front door blew shut.  

It was locked.

I was on the outside.

My babies were on the inside.

I immediately began to pannick calmly assessed the situation.
I ran to the front window so I could see both boys.
The very kind mom and grandma of the ballerina asked for a description of Cody and took off to find him for me.

Thankfully he was very close.

Thankfully the mom and grandma conveyed the intensity of the situation clearly.

Cody rushed home to his freaking out wife his little boys.
Cloe was clearly saddened by the situation!

Cody worked a little magic on some unmentionable area of our home and managed to break in.

 The boys were completely unaffected by the situation.

In fact, they seemed to enjoy their brief moment of freedom.

My heart...although it suffered some minor damage, did start beating in a regular pattern again.
(after resuscitating it with a few pieces of chocolate)

Phew, what a night!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book Review

The Miracle of Mercy Land is a very intriguing, mysterious novel written by River Jordan.

The story is set in southern Alabama during the 1930s. Mercy Land is a young woman who has left her life on the riverbanks to settle in the big city.  She has made herself an indispensable right hand to Doc Philips, the publisher and editors of the city's newspaper.

The mystery begins as a strange book appears on Doc's desk on morning.  It contains words and maps of the lives of everyone in Bay City including decisions they have made in the past and how they steer the future.  It's memorizing light seems to draw Doc and Mercy in for hours as they scan pages and people.

Seeking deeper meaning and hoping to fix the past, Doc Philips brings a young man named John Quincy into town.  It's here that the mystery takes such a strong turn, it was hard to put the book down!
The author masterfully weaves each of the characters into the narration where they share personal thoughts and views of the mysterious book:  Mercy is protective of the book and does not want it to be used for the wrong purposes as she searches for its meaning.  Doc Phillips hopes that the book will right the things of his past that haunt him and ease his guilty conscience.  John Quincy wants to use the book to visit his horrible past, change certain events and to change the path of his life.

The author, River Jordan is a gifted descriptive writer who is able to bring her characters to life.  This book was quite intriguing and mysterious.  At times, I was not exactly riveted into the story, yet the unique twists of the mystery left me unable to put it down.  It's a very unique read!

The Miracle of Mercy Land was provided to me free of charge for review by Kelly Blewett of KBK Public Relations.

Would you like to read this book?  Leave me a comment!
I'll randomly choose a name Sunday night at midnight!

Thrifty Thursday!

Thrifty Tip #46:  Halloween costumes can be very expensive.  Get creative!  Make your own!  They'll be personalized and!  Think it's too late to start...think again!  Most of these costumes were pulled together the day of Beggar's Night! (not the wisest, least stressful way, but totally true!)

I know that as Christians, our views on celebrating Halloween fall in many various places. 

This post is not meant to be offensive if your family has chosen not to celebrate or acknowledge Halloween.  We have both skipped and celebrated the holiday.  We have watched movies on and studied the history of this holiday.

At this point, our family has chosen to participate in Beggar's Night for a very specific reason: 
our neighbors.   In a neighborhood full of busy families, Beggar's Night gives us an opportunity to be with our neighbors, to build relationships with them, and to some extent, show them the love of Christ.   

We are called to be light and salt in the world, and for our family, this is one excellent opportunity.  We talk about manners, being sharing, polite and grateful, as well.
We don't enter into Halloween blindly, though.  Our children are talked to about the very dark side of Halloween, and we discuss things that are not of God.  We emphasize to our children that we have an opportunity to be different from the dark, spooky things. 

So, come Saturday night, we'll be taking Mighty McClain, Captain Carson, and Artist Cloe to greet the neighbors and show some love!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy World Pasta Day!

We celebrated with Spaghetti and Mini Meatballs!

Hmmm...I wonder what other food holidays we can celebrate?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thrifty Thursday!

Thrifty Tip #45:  Let your slow cooker become your new best friend!

* Slow cookers are very versatile:  Everything from soups, roasts, and fruits can be deliciously cooked up in a slow cooker.   Homemade applesauce from the crock pot is our family favorite!

* Slow cookers conserve energy: Using a slow cooker helps save money by cutting electricity costs. Even with the appliance on all day, a slow cooker actually costs about 10 cents for eight hours of use, compared with 19 cents for two hours on the stove and 29 cents for one hour in the oven.

* Enjoy poultry for less: Buying chicken whole is cheapest. Plus, it’s easy to prepare in a slow cooker. Thaw the bird (if frozen), remove its giblets and put it in the cooker. Sprinkle on lemon juice, garlic and black pepper. Add ¼ inch of water to the insert, cover and cook eight hours on low or four hours on high.

* Cruise past the drive-through:  Preparing a big roast in your slow cooker yields several meals’ worth of meat. You can then serve homemade suppers even on busy nights.  Buy a chuck roast on sale and toss it in a large slow cooker. (Cooking cheaper cuts of meat in the slow cooker makes them tender and more flavorful.) Fill the insert halfway with water so the meat won’t toughen. Cover and cook on low for seven to eight hours. When the roast is done, divide it into meal-size portions in plastic storage containers and refrigerate.

 * Spend less with bean-based meals: You can buy a 1-pound bag of dried beans for less than $1.50 at most grocery stores. Soak beans in water overnight in your slow cooker. Drain, put beans back in the cooker and cover with fresh water; stir in salt and a few garlic cloves. Cover and cook on low for eight hours.

*For awesome, creative recipes, check out A Year of Slow Cooking.   In 2008, Stephanie O'Dea set out to use her crock pot for every meal with a new recipe each time.  I followed her blog at the time and was completely amazed at some of the meals she created.  You won't run out of ideas or get bored with slow cooking if you read her blog or check out her new cookbook.

 *My favorite thing about a crock pot: most meals are very budget friendly and packed full of nutrition!

What's your favorite crock pot meal?

Source:  All You: Enjoy Life for Less

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


 Oh yes, I am sooo suave.

I stayed right on track with my schedule and to-do list today.

Supper was ready on time.
We completed Cloe's reading homework together.

Special cookies were made and displayed 
all pretty on the platter
ready to take to the PTO meeting tonight.

I was ready and headed out the door right on time,
all pulled together and ready for grown-up conversations.

Then it happened:
I thought I could just squeeze myself and my cookie platter in between the closely parked cars in the garage.
I slid in the front seat and saw one cookie slip out from under the plastic wrap.
I quickly grabbed it and put in the cup holder and sealed the plastic wrap better.
Catastrophy averted...I thought.

Still suave.

I drove to the school and walked into the meeting ready to share my treats.

Then I noticed this:
Nothing says suave like having a frosting leaf imprint on your bum from the unknown stray cookie that slipped out!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy Trails to You!

 Friday, we hit the road to spend some time here:

 Iowa Regular Baptist Camp at Clear Lake.
It was beautiful!
 Cody helped our friend (the expert electrician) Scott wire some of a remodeling project going on.

 The kids had a blast playing outside the entire day.
This was about five minutes after we got in the car to head home!

Sunday morning came bright and early!
Pastor Mike is diving into the 10 Commandments in his series Jehovah Unveiled.
Our friend Liz presented the most hilarious, yet amazingly convicting monologue phone conversation where she managed to "break" each and every of the 10 commandments!

You can listen to Pastor Mike's amazing message here under the media or recent sermon tabs.
God is really working to point out the idols in my heart--things I put above God under the excuses of "if only" or "if I had" instead of being truly content in completely trusting God. 

We left church and enjoyed the beautiful afternoon on the soccer field!
Our kids are really picking up the game.
Cloe had a great game and scored three goals--a hat trick, I learned!
She's giving me the acceptance wave after a goal!

We brought treats for the boys' team:

Trail Mix Cookies!
These energy-boosting cookies were so good and could be really packed even more full of healthy goodness!

Trail Mix Cookies
(from Moms Big Book of Cookies by Laura Chattman)

1 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar (I used 1/2 c.--could also substitute raw sugar or agave)
1/2 c. honey
2 large eggs
1 c. peanut butter (I'm going to try almond butter next time!)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 c. old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1 c. raisins  (I used dried cranberries)
1 c. salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl.
Combine the butter, sugar, and honey in a large mixing bowl.  Use an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until well combined.  Add the eggs, peanut butter, and vanilla and beat until smooth.
Stir in the flour mixture until just combined.  Stir in the oats, raisins, peanuts, chocolate chips, and sunflower seeds.  Place bowl in refrigerator for at least 10 minutes to let dough firm up.
Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between each cookie.  (Balls of dough could me placed next to each other on parchment paper lined baking sheets, frozen, and transferred into zipper-lock plastic freezer bags and stored in the freezer for up to one month.  Frozen cookies may be placed in the oven directly and baked as directed.)
Bake the cookies until they are golden around the edges but still soft on top, 12-15 minutes.  Let stand and cool for 5 minutes, then remove from baking sheet.
Trail mix cookies will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

What trails did you blaze this weekend?

Friday, October 15, 2010

We were booed!

This morning, we found a very fun package on our front step!

One of our neighbors had left a little poem along with all of the goodies:

We hung up our Happy Halloween Ghost!
 And headed out to do some haunting and booing of our own!
 Haunting is soooo fun!

Who will you boo?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thrifty Thursday!

 Thrifty Tip #44:  (Although I'm completely out of the baby stage, I was reminded today of this tip while picking up supplies for a baby shower game.) Making homemade baby food is super easy, and it's much, much cheaper and packed full of nutrition!

A great website full of information, recipes, and instructions is Wholesome Baby Food.  When Cloe was a baby, it didn't seem overly crazy to buy her baby food in jars.  By the time we had the boys, baby food prices had gone up, our income had dropped, and we needed twice the baby more just because they were hungry boys!  My dad planted all sorts of extra vegetables in his garden, and I quickly learned how to steam, bake, and puree!  It was so surprisingly easy!  The boys loved every vegetable we could think of to feed them.  I bought quite a few packs of small ziplock containers and made large batches of pureed fruits and vegetables to keep in the freezer.  You could also use ice cube trays.
The rest of our family benefited from this venture, too!  I would pop pureed carrots into our spaghetti sauce, squash into our meatball mixture, pumpkin, apple, or banana into our pancakes and muffins.  I tried spinach in brownies once...that didn't work so well!  But everything else was a hit!
Even if you don't have babies, give it a try:  add fruits or veggies to your baking and cooking!  You'll  surprised how well it works, how much flavor it adds, and how much more nutritional value it adds to your food! 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Oh, what a tease!

Summer was here...then gone...then here...then gone...then here...and now gone tomorrow?

Stop the madness!

Or I could just stop being a sissy and enjoy the bipolar weather!

Crock pot one night and grill the other!

First up, Italian Beef Sandwiches!

I've posted the recipe before, but I wanted to try to find a different Italian Dressing Mix--without sugar!  After reading through several recipes and checking the spices I had on hand, this is what we came up with.  It worked perfectly, and I have a large amount left over!

Italian Dressing Mix

1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried onion
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
2 tablespoons salt

Mix ingredients well.  Store in an airtight container.

For the roast:  use 2-3 heaping tablespoons and 1/4 c. vinegar.

To use as salad dressing: whisk together 1/4 c. white vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons of the dry mix. 

Next up:  Salt and Pepper Grilled Chicken
courtesy of Martha Stewart

Have you discovered Martha Stewart's food section?  I could spend way too much time scrolling through recipes!  I love how the recipes are grouped together by key ingredient or food type.  Check out their seasonal recipes! 

1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
2-3 chicken breasts

Rub each chicken breast with the salt and pepper mixture.  Let set for 30 minutes.
Grill on medium heat until cooked through.  (about 5 minutes on each side)
 So simple, but juicy and spicy!

We also used up the rest of the tomatoes and basil from our garden.  Who knows why I haven't tried a Caprese Salad was so good and so simple!

Caprese Salad
4-5 medium tomatoes, quartered and sliced
Medium bunch of fresh basil, leaves washed and torn
Fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/2 in. strips
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive oil

Mix tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil.

Lest you think I got by feeding my children just grilled chicken and tomato salad...
They loved the chicken, squawked a little at the tomatoes, but loved this little package of mac and cheese...extra broccoli tucked in and all!  Someday, my poor children will realize that mac and cheese doesn't always have broccoli in it...but not today!