Monday, December 31, 2012

Pinterest In A Blogshell

I couldn't help but take a screen shot. 

A specimen of physical perfection and a recipe for gooey cookies in the same shot.

This is Pinterest.

Unachievable "goal" images paired with the very cookie recipes that will keep you from it.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Jared and I just finished paying 3 months of ridiculous energy bills trying to make up for the summer months.  We got behind due to $500 plus electric bills.  We didn't even keep the house at an insane temp.  This summer it was 75 at night and 80 during the day.

Now that it's turned cold our house is frigid.  I assume the windows that were installed were "builder's grade."  They are drafty and seem to need at least some attention if not replacement.  That is ridiculous in a 6 year old home.

I've been reading online about how to make our home more efficient.

The first thing I did was flip the tiny switch on our ceiling fans to the winter setting.  Winter setting means it turns clockwise.  This alone can save you as much as 10% on your heating bills.  It simply pushes the warm air back down since warm air rises.

The next step was winterizing our drafty windows.  Several websites suggested plastic sheeting to seal the windows.  I purchased two of these at Wal-mart for $7 each.
 I started off downstairs in Graham and Elijah's room.  I had enough to do the coldest rooms but I will need one more package to finish.  The total spent will be $21 and I anticipate saving triple that on one month's bill.  The difference is dramatic and instant.

The sheeting goes on easily with clear double stick tape.  At first it looks like this:
 But wait!  Take out a blow dryer and slowly attack those wrinkles and in no time you can not tell it's there!  I was so impressed!!  I was worried it would be obvious from outside.  It is very discrete and the house is already remarkably warmer!  So thankful!!
Window on left has sheeting, window on right does not

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Fun With NeNe

My mom moved to Topeka back in October.  We were used to seeing her at least once a week, but since she moved she's been getting settled, working, and watching my nephews.  She's been updating her house and spending a lot of time and energy making it home.

Today mom came to celebrate Christmas with the kids.  We had Christmas music playing and spent the day working on my Pinterest gifts for both sides of the family.  We chatted, drank coffee and watched the KU game. 

It was a lot of fun and a blessing to the kids and I.  The best part had to be Anneliese and Mom watching the KU game.  It's an understatement to say my mom is vocal during the games.  It was hilarious seeing Anneliese's response.  Too funny.

Merry Christmas NeNe!  We love you.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How To Remove Temptation from your iPod/iPad

All children are curious, devious little sinners.

Yep, all.

Yours, mine, and all the rest.

With Christmas just days away, I want to give a quick heads up to anyone who already has or plans to purchase these devices for their young children.

Allow me to show you a quick and easy way to remove a serious temptation from your child's life.

Before we get to that, don't kid yourself.  Take the iPod/iPad, open Safari and click the little book icon down at the bottom.  Then touch history and see what your precious poopsie whoopsie has been searching for or looking at on the internet.

Now that you're eyes are good and open, lets get down to removing the internet from these tiny, easily hid, and oh so easily used devices.

This is how you do it:

1. At the iPod touch/iPad home screen go to 'Settings'.
2. Then go to 'General'
3. Go to 'Restrictions'
4. Then go to 'Enable Restrictions'
5. Create a 4 digit pass code. (Not 1234, make it difficult for them please)
6. After the pass code is created it will go back to the 'Restrictions' screen, where it says 'Allowed' slide the bar next to 'Safari' so that it says 'off'.
Now if they want to search for something they need your permission and pass code.  Easy peasy.  Let's make sure we are working diligently to set our kids up for success in a world where temptation is so prevalent.  Parenting has to be constant and preventative.  Don't sit idle by while your children poison their hearts and minds simply because you don't want to believe they would ever do such a thing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Wish

Jared and I received a phone call the other day letting us know that "someone" wanted to carpet a room in our basement. 

Just to fill you in on some details, part of the reason we were able to purchase this house for half price was because the flooring needed to be replaced.  We have really tried to make it work as long as we could.  We've had it professionally cleaned twice and I have a Rug Doctor that I've used on it multiple times with heavy cleansers. 

We have a large area rug down but on humid days there was still an odor.  I tried not to let it get the best of me, after all this house is a massive blessing in our lives and is incredibly beautiful.  I never wanted to come across as ungrateful or discontent.  Jared and I have known since we bought the house that at some point we would invest in new flooring.  It's just such a large investment and overhaul to remove the old and prepare the sub-flooring for the new.

So to find out that our living room downstairs was about to get a makeover makes my heart sing!  This kind of generosity allows Jared and I to spread our dollar further and make a bigger impact.  Those carpet tiles I mentioned in a previous blog are a wonderful option and now I can do the kids' bedrooms so much sooner. 

Just to give you an idea of what we were dealing with, this is the underside of the carpet we removed.  The top was deceiving.  If you were to just come over and look, it looks fine.  It's what lay beneath that now makes me want to tear out every last thread and live on sub-flooring until we can replace it all.

That is overlapping urine stains my friend.  That is disgusting and no longer in my house.  We have cleaned the sub-flooring and are about to paint it with a sealant to keep anything from affecting the new carpet.  The new stuff goes in on Friday!  I haven't even seen it yet, I have no idea what color it is and I don't care.  It could be hot pink and I'd be thrilled because it is CLEAN!

Thank you Lord for caring about the little things.  This brings my heart so much peace!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Count your Blessings

-Tanner turns 11 in 12 days.  Our little scavenger loves to find "treasures" wherever he goes.  He tries to keep everything he comes across and mom has to step in or we would have a hoarder in our basement.  He has jars of shiny things he has found here and there.  All he wanted for his birthday was a metal detector.  After a lot of discussion and searching, we found a "starter" metal detector that is for children.  I can't wait to see his face.  Today I told him we bought him something super cool for his birthday but he had to use it for me just once.  I have visions of finding long lost diamond rings and what ever would an 11 year old do with a ring?  When I told him it was neat and he could use it for me he immediately said, "You got me my very own pots and pans??!!"  At first I was taken aback, but as soon as we got home he started in on some homemade cinnamon rolls.  Such a sweet kid.

-I was sitting in the kitchen and Graham walked up behind me and placed his tiny paws on my shoulders and started to massage my neck.  He said, "ohhhh, you are looking text."  I assume he meant tense, either way it cracked me up and we were both giggling.  Goofy little guy.

-Have you heard Brennan speak lately?  I swear his voice gets deeper by the day.  He asked me yesterday if he could drive the van home.  I looked at him like he was half crazy and he said, "Can't I start driving at 14 with a permit?  That's not that far off."  YIKES STRIPES FRUIT STRIPED GUM!!!  He's right!  Smokes, where does the time go?

-Anneliese is starting to talk more and more like a young girl vs a toddler.  I know it's good, but it makes me kinda sad.  I love her little voice and the way she pieces things together.  If something has already happened it happened, "yesterdays" and if it has yet to come it's, "to later."  I'm going to miss her little turns of phrase as she matures past them.  She'll be 4 before we know it!  Those keeping track at home, this is the longest we've gone without a pregnancy since this whole show began.  It's a little strange honestly.

-Elijah is growing further away from the angry stage of his past and closer to a soft sweet charmer.  I am so thankful, and while it seems obvious his hormonal self will still have difficult stages, they're becoming rare.  Once in a while I get a hug and a kiss unsolicited.  They absolutely warm my heart.

God is so good and I'm so thankful for my 5 blessings.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Feeling A Lot Like Christmas!

The church is decorated, our home is decorated, the neighbors have lit their homes with beautiful lights.

Christmas music is in the air and even though it's 65 degrees outside, it's feeling a lot like Christmas!

This Saturday our church has our turn at the soup kitchen.  I highly recommend you contact John and go.  It's always a blessing and has made a great impact on our older two boys.  It just seems even more meaningful around the holidays.  We like to focus on Christmas cheer but the truth is, the holidays are very difficult for most.  It's a time of sadness and being reminded of those that have passed or sadness over what should be or could be with loved ones that are estranged.

While preparing for your festivities take time to pray for those who are struggling.  Those who are sad, those who are poor, those who are alone.  Remember that God is good regardless of our circumstances and He loves us so very much.

Reach out, try not to get "wrapped" up in your own little snow globe.  Share God's love with others.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Post Turkey Day Catch Up

-The older I get the less I like in my coffee.  I've never understood those who request it "black" but I'm getting there.  I'm down to one spoon of Splenda no creamer.

-I'm feeling loads better with each day.  So much so, I'm toying with the idea of working out again.  I've been on an "I feel like junk" hiatus.  The medication mixed with the no gluten no dairy diet is finally helping.  My bruising is gone, and my hair is growing back and sticking straight up (think little red troll from the 90's after being shook).  The best part is that my joint pain is remarkably better after a couple months.  Now that the doctors have the ulcers under control I am very hopeful.

-I tried Quinoa for the first time yesterday.  It's a gluten free grain and I made a custard with it (think rice pudding or bread pudding).  Drizzled with a touch of syrup it's pretty tasty!  I'm getting better by the day coming up with options.  I seriously tweaked the recipe make it dairy free too and was concerned it wouldn't come out but it did.  YAY!

-Ever heard of carpet squares?  I know you're probably thinking of doctors offices or business settings.  There's a new product at Home Depot called Simply Seamless and it's a twist carpet square with the padding attached.  When we bought our home we purchased it at a ridiculous price, in part, because the flooring needed replaced.  We chose to have it cleaned professionally twice to buy us some time.  Obviously it's a large financial investment, but it's also a lot of work.  We are going to have to remove the current carpet and then bleach and seal the sub-flooring before installing something new.  Needless to say, it's a tad overwhelming.  So when my mom and I were wandering Home Depot the other day and saw this:
I prefer the color on the left

That's 4 tiles

lay the tile down and it is virtually seamless!
I was intrigued!  The padding is attached.  We could empty one room at a time and treat the sub-flooring and then install the carpet tiles as we can afford it without moving out of our downstairs.  The biggest draw??  As a mother of 5 with 2 dogs, if there is an accident, vomit, or just wear, pull up the tile and replace it with a new one.  No fuss, no grossness hanging out forever, just clean flooring.  It seems like a great idea for a basement where kids and dogs run and play.  There are 172 reviews on the website  and 98% of them raving about the ease of installation and how great it looks and feels.  I even like the idea of checkered tiles in the kids' rooms.  How cute is this:
A pic a customer posted in their review
I love the idea of having an affordable attractive option that we could do as we can afford it vs taking out credit for new wall to wall carpet.  What do you think?

-After having a week off of school, I am having a hard time getting back to the grind.  Monday morning Jared got up with the kids and did school with them giving me another day.  Reason number 982838477586386287346 he's my favorite. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thank The Man

Today the kids and I have been hanging out.

We made cookies and listened to my "holiday" play list on the stereo.  We are preparing to put up the Christmas tree and decor.  I was too tired last night but am eager to get to it today.

While I was tooling about working and singing, I kept thinking how blessed we are.  Our beautiful home that is warm when it cool outside and cool when it's warm outside.  All 5 of these little people who call me mom.  Tanner working diligently making cookies while Elijah does the dishes.  Anneliese and Graham playing with the dogs and Brennan at youth group.  This busy blessed life is all possible because of our hard working Daddy.

Since I was thinking about just how wonderful he is, I decided to text him.

I said, "Thank you for the wonderful life you provide for us.  I love you."

He responded immediately with deep gratitude.  I couldn't help but think I must not tell him often enough.  I want him to know how thankful and grateful we are for the life he provides.  It is my mission to remind him regularly of just how content and thankful we are .

Here's my challenge to you, If Jared was needing to hear that your husband probably is too. 

Thank him.  Thank him for paying for everything, or most everything, or half of everything.  Even if you pay for everything, thank him for being supportive and faithful and a good husband/father.   Regardless, you are not doing it alone and it would be oh so much harder if we were.  If your spouse is anything like mine, he doesn't expect it or demand it.  He is doing what he feels called to, what his responsibilities demand. 

What a blessing you could be to him, and encouragement, to simply say, "I recognize your hard work and understand what life would be without your efforts and I'm so very thankful that you provide for us."

Thank the man!

Thank you Jared.  Thank you for being a man of integrity that works so very hard to provide for your family.  We are safe and protected because of the kind of man you are.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Give Me Jesus

Today marked the 3rd day in 10 that I was doubled over begging to meet Jesus due to severe abdominal pain.  This morning's episode last 2.5 hours and landed me in the Urgent Care begging for relief.

When I went in last Thursday they said the pain is due to gastritis and severe peptic ulcers.  I was told to stop eating dairy.  For those of you keeping track at home, that's no gluten and no dairy.  So I can pretty much eat air, oh and peanut butter :) 

I have an abdominal ultrasound scheduled for 7:45 am on Friday.  So while you are all shopping I'll be having my insides examined.  Then next week I have an upper GI scope as well as an appointment with a specialist.

I'm ready to be done with this.  The pain I've had the last two times is so severe I cry which scares my kids.  This morning I was on the verge of vomiting due to the severity of the pain.

I was given a prescription for a antacid liquid this morning and it seems to take the edge off.  I'm so very thankful for that. 

So, while tomorrow is typically a day of food, I'm facing a day of bland food and rice crispy treats for dessert.  I have decided that this whole experience will finally break my food habit/issue.  I have had a strong relationship with food since I was a teen and now that it's turned on me, it's time to cut away all that baggage.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for a faithful God who can use even the most painful of circumstances for His good.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Polka Dot Polka Dot Run Into Your Gloria Gloria

My little girl has become obsessed with Madagascar.  She has watched all three at least a dozen times each.  We rented the 3rd on Red box and she mourned when we had to return it and still asks us to "go get mine movie back please."

I don't know how much more of "Polka Dot Polka Dot Afro" I can handle.

This last week or two I have had Reign Forever by Hillsong flowing through my brain.  I would say "stuck" but I love it and who doesn't want to wake up singing "Oh, I run into your arms, I run into your arms.  The riches of your love, will always be enough.  Nothing compares to your embrace, Light of the World forever reign!"

Unfortunately, this Madagascar brain washing has removed my beautiful song of worship and replaced it with this

Why you ask?  How is this possible?

2 things

1.  The rotund hippo on all three movies is named Gloria and I have been listening to David Schwimmer say,  "Gloria" hundreds of times a day.

2.  I'm a child of the 80's and these songs are permanently embedded into my memory even if I haven't heard them in 20 years.  I literally sang this to my daughter word for word while dancing and tickling her. 

Lord help me....

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What?! 2 Posts in a Month?? Wha hoo!

-We had our Thanksgiving meal last night at church.  I was really pleased at how many came.  We had pretty much every chair spoken for and tons of food.  All in all a great success!  We are so thankful to you all!  You are a blessing to our family and always seem to show us love and encouragement when we need it the most.  Thank you!

-I am looking to sell my beloved Grand Caravan and replace it with an older, 03-04, (read cheap, yet dependable without ridiculous mileage) Suburban.  Yes, that van.  No worries, it will look like new before we actually list it.  We want to have a vehicle that allows our boys not to have their knees to their ears and still have space for groceries without vehicle debt (or at least very little).  If you know of such a suburban or know someone who'd be interested in our van or someone who wants to trade such a suburban for my van let me know! :) 

-We are taking all of next week off of school. PAR-TAY!!!  I'm very excited and ready for a break.  I always look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas for our wonderful breaks to sleep in and wear pj's all day and do a whole lotta nothing.  YAY!  The only real difference from our normal routine is the "whole lotta nothing" but still, YAY!

-Go to church.  Please.  First of all, its biblical Hebrews 10:25.  Second, it's an encouragement to everyone there and it will be an encouragement to you as well.  You under estimate what simply showing up does for all those involved.  You are loved and missed.  Come on Sunday and you'll see.

-I've been gluten free for about 6 weeks.  It ain't so bad.  Seeing sweet Raygen M. handle it with grace makes me feel pretty foolish for my private temper tantrums.  I have been illness free since I've been eating this way.  That's a pretty big deal and I'm thankful for it!

-Everyone (seemingly) on Facebook has been participating in a month of Thanksgiving name things daily that they are thankful for.  I'm going to sum it up in a bullet point.  Ready...Set...Go...  I am thankful for a gracious God who loves me in spite of myself, I am thankful for a gracious husband and children who do the same.  Without those I would be a very angry, lost, hopeless shell of a woman.  Thank you Lord for your Son, and for my beloved family that has taught me what unconditional love truly is.  God is good.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Random Post is Better Than No Post :)

-While my candidate did not win, I will support and pray for President Obama.  It is important that we remember:

"We are not moving anywhere. This nation, with all of its imperfections, is the greatest, most free nation on the planet. Whatever the outcome, we will pray for our President (Romans 13), honor him with our words and actions (I Peter 2), obey him (Titus 3), and continue to speak God's truth which leads to true freedom (John 8). Willing to join us?"
                              -Micah Gellatt, Facebook status after the election was called.  Couldn't have said it better. We will be known by our love.

New Living Translation (NLT) John 13:35
35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

-This whole Gluten Free thing is a frustrating beast.  I have learned to wash my hands constantly.  Cooking for a gluten eating family has been cross contaminating pretty much every thing I'm eating.  I've also learned not to eat anything I haven't prepared myself.  I ordered a GF pizza at the Sprint Center and while it tasted amazing, I suffered for it later.  They tried, but it was cross contaminated some how.  My vitamins have gluten in them and I didn't realize it until about a week ago.  IT'S EVERYWHERE!  The learning curve is high but I'm getting it.

My Favorite lunch:
4 corn tortillas (220 cals)
1/3 cup shredded cheese (110 cals)
3 oz of Aldi canned chx (120 cals)
Salsa and a touch of sour cream (60 cals)

I put two tortillas in a metal pan, add the chicken and cheese and then top with the remaining tortillas.  Bake at 415 for about 10 minutes and then flip and cook another 5.  Gluten free and super yummy and not high calorie.  I'm finding it's hard to find gluten free that isn't high in calories.  I'm working on making the two meld better.

-I want to skip the Holidays if that's OK with you.  I'm super thankful and I love Jesus, but I really want to sleep through the eating part.  Food has too close a tie to my emotions and this season is going to be really frustrating.  I can't help but think that this whole thing is a way God plans to break that tie once a for all.  Honestly, if that is the result of all this, there are worse things.  God is good.

-I ran into a stationary metal post with my van.  Yup, I got skilzzzz.  In my defense, I was backing out of a very steep driveway and couldn't see it.  The fact that I was on the phone with Jared means absolutely nothing.  Isn't it pretty???  I'm in the process of getting bids.  Normally I would just say,'s just a car.  But this scratch is to the meal and it will rust, so I went ahead and turned it in.  Hopefully we won't be without it too long.  Thankfully we have two vans (I'm pretty sure I just heard Jared cringe from the church.  Poor guy doesn't love driving a van).

Monday, November 5, 2012

Santa is ALIVE

I have been a terrible blogger.  Please accept my apologies and adorable story about our girl.

Jared and I never planned to encourage our children to believe in Santa.  It wasn't an issue with the first four.  In fact, until Brennan was 4 he referred to the rotund, rosy cheeked, cookie thief as "The Christmas Man."

My mom, of course, was sure this was illegal.  She really struggled with the fact that we didn't encourage them to believe.  By the time we had boy number 3 I think she gave up. 

We have always told the kids that Santa is a tradition and a lot of small children believe him to be real and it is not our responsibility to prove otherwise.  To my knowledge, they have not crushed the hopes and dreams of any sweet believing peers.

Until last week...

Anneliese, frustrated and indignant, came to me and proclaimed, "SANTA IS ALIVE!"

Umm what??

After some questioning I discovered that the boys told her "Santa isn't real."  She informed them that he in fact is real, he is alive and doing well.  After all, she has seen him. 

Yesterday Jared started asking her questions about Santa.  She told him "hims has deers, and Hims leaves pesents for kids unner da tree" (sic)

We asked her if he left presents for good kids.  She nodded.  We asked if he left presents for bad kids and she said, "no they naughty."

Just for fun we asked about our boys specifically.  According to Anneliese Graham and Brennan are the only ones getting presents this year. 

She had us cracking up!  Too funny.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

This Post is Gluten Free

Hellloooo Blogland!

How have you been?

Me?  Well I've been a bit of a sick mess honestly.

That's a big part of my lack of blogging.  My life has had a bit of a turn over in the last couple weeks.  I've dealt with some health issues off and on for a while and after going to an Endocrinologist we think we finally have a diagnosis. 

I was convinced I had a thyroid disorder, hence the Endo appt.  After giving the doctor my list of symptoms she simply said, you sound like you have Celiac sprue, or Celiac disease.

Umm, no I don't. 

I know others with this and I'm not like them. 

Without getting into too much gory detail, I don't have the two tell tale signs of Celiac

I do however deal with, abdominal pain and ulcers in duodenum (small intestine).  The abdominal pain has been so severe in the past that an ER visit was seriously considered since I thought I was dying.  I have hair loss, fatigue, joint pain, bloating and other bowel issues along with bruising all over, depression, headaches and anxiety. Let alone the fact that I catch every cold, flu, sniffle, etc.  I can't seem to stay well for more than a weeks time.

She drew a ton of lab and I went home very confused and little scared honestly.  Doesn't eating Gluten Free mean I will never have a hot cinnamon roll again?  Or my homemade rolls, or stuffing, or cookies, or or or or or.

I came up with a list as long as the Mississippi, all things I will never enjoy again!  I decided to read all I could find on the internet because I was sure she was wrong.  Unfortunately, everything I read only proved I really didn't know that much about it. 

My doc put me on a Gluten free diet and told me that I would start to feel better within a couple weeks.  At first I didn't feel better at all and was sure it was all for nothing. 

Sure enough, within about a 3 weeks time my tummy issues have almost completely resolved.  My joint pain is still there but she said it would take the longest to go.  I'm so thankful for the turnaround and am eager to see if I continue to improve. 

Next I've got to decide whether or not to have the kids tested.  Brennan has some symptoms and seems to have an obvious reaction to a lot of foods.  Plus the fact that he can't seem to gain any weight makes him an obvious candidate.  After getting really sick on some Sam's club pizza today, he actually asked me if he could try Gluten free to see if he would feel better.

I am so thankful for such supportive friends!  Jane, Alisa, and Dana have made this  so much easier and I'm blessed beyond measure to have you all in my life.  Today Gluten free pizza crusts were delivered to my front door from "a friend."  Well thank you friend!  Last night Alisa brought me some GF flour to try and I made delish pumpkin muffins today.  Alisa encouraged me to work on GF cakes so I could offer them for Celiacs wanting a custom cake.

God is good!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Happy Birthday Brennan!

Happy Birthday to my 12 year old that is a bit more hormonal, a bit more pimply, has a deeper voice and has a bit more lip fuzz.

Where has the time gone?

It seems like yesterday and now look at you:

Such a smart sweet little man.  Love my Beebin so very much.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Miracle Grow Kitchen Ed.

If you'll remember, the best thing about this house is it's pantry.  It's massive and a room all it's own.

In our kitchen we have an "appliance garage."  You know, that little door that rolls up to expose a corner stuffed full of everything and anything you didn't want actually on your counter any given day.

Here is ours:

I have daydreamed about removing this little beauty since we moved in.  Why?  because the granite goes clear back to the wall and the tiled back splash continues as well.  And did I mention the enormous pantry?  I don't have a need for an appliance garage, but I do desperately need counter space.

During school this morning I was eying this jaggy little counter top stealer.  So I took my hammer to it and viola!
I exposed two plugins that were unused and unreachable.  I moved the odds and ends into the pantry and gained a large section of beautiful granite!  I plan to put the tiny piece of trim under the edge of the upper cabinet to make it blend with the other uppers.  Until then, it really doesn't stand out at all since that corner cabinet sticks out further than the others by a few inches.  I can't stop staring at it!

My kitchen grew in a matter of about 5 minutes! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Another project I have been wanting to attack is our stoop. It's an odd little entrance to our front door. Since we don't come in this way it's been neglected and I really wanted to do something inexpensive that made a big impact. So here's the before:
I started out by cleaning and priming the concrete. Once the primer was dry I marked out my pattern simply using a 12" tile I had on hand. I traced the tile with a pencil.

Once we had all our diamonds and the edging marked off I wrote a "B" or a "W" in each diamond just to ensure there wasn't any mistakes.  Tanner and I painted the black first.
Then we added the gray.  The fan was so I could ever so patiently do the next coat...
Once the gray was painted and dry I used a walnut stain and rubbed it on top to antique it a bit and take away a little of the sharpness of the pattern.
Complete! I added a fresh coat of black paint to the front door (inside and outside). 
Sorry about the glare, Inside

Total cost of project, $9.  I couldn't be happier with the results! 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Power of Spray Paint

I have wanted to do something with our exterior lights since we moved in.  They are rough, faded, and even rusted in spots.

 I looked at Lowe's and found these.  A similar look but fresh, new and black.  They are $88 each and we need 5, $440 before tax.
Due to the cost I have held off for almost a year because there was just so much other stuff that needed to be done/painted.  I was helping Tanner clean out the van today when I saw a can of black hammered spray paint.  I then had a thought, "I'll just paint them."  So I did!

So you have before:

 And After!  First before the glass was cleaned
 Then after the glass was cleaned!
Since I had everything on hand this project cost me $0, therefore saving our family $440.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Only With 4 Brothers

I have decided that our little girl will be quite unique indeed.  Not just because God created her one of a kind, but because she is the only girl.  She has understandings that only a girl with older brothers could have.

Would you like an example?  Here is my precious daughter's drawing:

Now I would like to explain the image as it was explained to me.

Sis:  Look what I drawed mommy!

Me:  Oh babe!  I love it!  Is that you?

Sis:  (smirking) Uh, NO!  That's a Zombie!

Me:  A zombie?!! 

Sis:  Yes, and see this (pointing at the squares in the upper right) that is a porthole that goes to ours house. 

Me:  Did you say "portal?"

Sis:  Yes, a porthole and when the zombie comes to ours house this fake hammer (pointing to the small object low center) is what da boyz is gonna use to hit him to keep us safe.

She may only be 3 but she has a plan in case of a zombie apocalypse. 

That's my girl!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Food Pin Review

Since Pinterest is such a hit and I spend quite a bit of time on there to find recipes and home decor ideas, I thought I would post some pins I've actually tried and let you know what I thought.

-Homemade Nutter Butter bars over at Cookies and Cups.  These are insanely good.  They are large, like the size of your palm, but it's still hard to eat just one.  I happened to have all the ingredients on hand and needed a quick dessert for a church gathering.  They went over like hotcakes!  These get 5 stars *****


-Sugar Cookie Bars over at A Little Bit Crunchy A Little Bit Rock and Roll.  These weren't as awesome as I had imagined. They were okay, and the kids ate them for the most part. They were thick and dry. If I were to make them again I would use a larger pan (I used a Pampered Chef Bar pan) so they would be thinner. These get 3 stars ***

-Guacamole Salsa over at Frosted Bake Shop.   If you love Mexican food like I do you will love this.  It's so tangy and incredibly addictive.  Get a bag of your favorite chips and it's GO TIME!  I ate some fresh from the blender, but it's definitely better after resting over night in the fridge and letting those tastes mingle.  This gets 5 stars *****
-Crock pot Chicken and Dumplings over at BubbleCrumb.Com.  This is a huge favorite of Tanner's.  He asks for this on a regular basis even through the heat of the summer.  There is a trick to this recipe.  You have to have you crock pot on high.  The temp has to get to a boil in order to cook the dumplings right.  Otherwise you end up with goo.  This gets 5 stars *****
-Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites over at my favorite food blog SkinnyTaste.  Seriously, this blog is amazing.  I could write a blog article just listing my favorites from her site alone.  She makes eating healthy taste good.  While you're over there check out her Cilantro Lime Rice paired with her Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken.  If I'm ever sick and need meals due to injury or illness, remember this blog :)  The chicken and rice could sustain me for months.  Back to the Bacon chicken!  We made this for a Super Bowl Party.  I made a ton and it was gone.  This is low carb, gluten free, and delicious! 
5 stars *****

-Crock Pot Pork Chops over at Living, Laughing, and Loving.  First of all, my husband hates ranch dressing.  I know it's unAmerican but he actually calls it "Husband Repellent."  I know if I eat the stuff he won't get near me.  This recipe calls for a Ranch seasoning packet and he loves this recipe.  We make it with chicken.  I tried the pork chops and it was fine, it's just not a favorite of mine.  So simple (only 3 ingredients), smells amazing, and is cooked while you go about your day.  Can't beat that!  5 stars *****
-300 Calorie Oatmeal over at Can You Stay For Dinner.  This is very filling and delicious.  Now that I'm a calorie counter, this is even better.  It's a thick, rich consistency that is full of protein and fiber.  As Fall approaches this will make it's way back into my normal routine.  5 stars *****
The name of each blog above is a link to the recipe.  I have several more so I'll break it up into a couple blogs.  If you have a favorite food pin please link to it in the comments. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I'm Done, Now what?

-I know that I am late to this party...but OxyClean is amazing!  I bought it as a carpet cleaning tool.  I had read that added with vinegar and essential oils it's a force to be reckoned with.  I have to say I am super pleased with what a great job it did for my carpets.  It's also impressive with laundry.  It's removed the yellowing from my whites that bleach just seemed to make worse.

-Tomorrow marks the end of our first week of school.  It's getting better with each year.  I really think the hardest part is behind us.  Having multiple little children needing 100% of me was very trying.  Now that the older three need just basic guidance frees me to spend time with Graham.  I really think this will be our best year yet.  We are getting more organized as a family and that makes a world of difference for this mom.

-Come to find out I don't really detest laundry.  Seriously...  What I detest is laundry after I've done all the other household chores.  Now that the kids are responsible for the bulk of cleaning up after themselves, it leaves my plate far more manageable.  Laundry isn't so bad when it's just one of a couple things to do.  This commercial makes me giggle because just today I thought, I'm done!  I'm done!  Now what should I do???

-We are gradually taking all the kids in for well child checks and eye exams.  Brennan and Tanner had appointments yesterday and both received several shots/pokes.  Brennan has inherited his father's aversion to needles.  Tanner is like me and doesn't mind them.  It was quite comical to have Tanner hop up on the table and tell the nurse, "I'm a man!  I'll go first."  As soon as she finished he jumped back down claiming, "it wasn't so bad" and flexing his muscles.  That kid cracks me up.

-Tuesday the younger three go in and will also have shots.  If I had thought it through I would have had the younger three go first.  Brennan and Tanner have been telling stories that are just short of water boarding trying to scare the others.  Not helping!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Many Hands Make Quick Work

Life is pretty good here at the Altic compound.

Jared and I did something that has needed to be done for quite some time.

We (meaning Jared) created a spreadsheet of chores.  Typically in the Altic household the bulk of the chores falls on me.  The kids do help occasionally when I ask, but for the most part day in and day out I'm spending the bulk of my time cleaning.

Well, NO MORE! 

One of the biggest causes of stress with homeschool is my inability to sit at the table with the kids.  There is just so much I can and should be doing.  Without my presence, the kids get carried away giggling and doodling and nothing gets done but making mom angry.

Since we started a new school year we decided to start a new chore chart.  All items on the chore chart must be completed as soon as school is done.  No games or TV until the chores are completed and checked.

This beautifully crafted chart adorns our fridge (having a nerd for a husband can be a beautiful thing).

After school today I heard the vacuum running, Anneliese cleaned her room, and Eli was unloading the dishwasher only to reload it and start it. 

I sat at the table answering questions and pulling worksheets all while policing the jibber jabber.  I was not worried about the house falling into disrepair and clutter. 

Once school and the chores were complete I was free.  Free to do what I pleased.  It just so happened that today, it pleased me to stain the deck and stairs. 

What a blessing!  I am so thankful to be onto the stage of helpful little people who can read charts :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Back To School

We are finally underway.

All the books I was waiting on arrived and have been organized and looked through (slight panic attack and the shear volume, but I think I'm better now).

I'm not entirely positive how we are going to find room for all four boys and their books.  Brennan alone has three stacks two feet tall.  In years past they have kept their books in a file box (for easy transport from room to room) but Brennan and Tanner have officially out grown those. 

I tried desperately to get a picture of my crew for the "back to school" shot.  I contemplated having a pic with bed head and PJ's just to be funny.  That is a more accurate view of how we look each morning as we start pulling books.  We don't have the crisp new clothes, packed lunch, and back pack in front of a bus stop kinda morning.

Typically I shout out the school warning with coffee in hand and wiping sleep from my eyes, "I'm pulling out books, you've got 5 minutes!"

Here are several attempts at a picture over at the Legends a couple days ago.  We went with the intention of getting a decent pic.   Brennan "accidentally" (there could be a complete blog series on this sentence alone) whacked Graham in the eyeball immediately before.  It was impossible to get him to stop rubbing his eye/face.

Attempt #1.  When I say cheese Tanner instinctively tucks his chin to his chest.  No idea why, he doesn't ever do it any other time.  The word "cheese" apparently causes a magnetic force between his chin and chest.  Graham, still crying and injured, won't even open his eyes.  Anneliese is posed perfectly and of course there is a glare on my camera.
 Attempt #2.  I asked them to crowd in together so we could avoid the glare.  I say cheese, Tanner's body reacts even after we talked at length about it.  I tell Eli to smile, so he does whatever this is.  Graham is still injured and unable to think of anything else.  Anneliese realizes what a joke it is that I think I can get all 5 to smile at the same time.

Attempt #3.  Notice how Brennan hardly changes from pic to pic.  He's always been that way.  No matter how many shots I take he looks about the same.  Tanner is fighting the magnetic force and winning!  Eli does not look angry.  Graham is attempting a smile still with eyes closed but hey I'll take what I can get.  Apparently Anneliese is about to sneeze.
 Attempt #4.  I give up.  Do what you want...  Good enough!  Who wants ice cream?
Brennan 6th grade, Tanner 5th, Elijah 3rd, Graham 1st, Anneliese Pre-K

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Count

When I worked as a Weight Watchers leader I had a couple members who would come in with this weird band on their arm.  I asked them what it was and they looked at me like I had a third eyeball.

One of them exclaimed, "It's the BodyBugg from Biggest Loser!"

It may seem odd, but I have never watched The Biggest Loser.  So I had no idea what they were talking about.  They explained that it has a sensor that reads your body.  It tells you how many calories a day you burn so you can track your intake.  You eat less than you burn and you loose weight.

I dismissed the gadget at the time simply because of Weight Watchers.  Why would you need to spend the cash on such a thing when you can just count points? 

Then I had my 5th baby and turned 35 and gained and gained.  Regardless of my efforts I gained.  I went back to Weight Watchers for 12 weeks and fluctuated 2lbs.  Frustrated I decided to jump on the low carb band wagon.  I cut all sugar and lowered my carb intake to 20 grams a day.  I gained 7lbs!  Hello!  Wrong direction!!

In the back of my mind I remembered the BodyBugg.  I thought, "Maybe my metabolism has changed and I have no idea how many calories a day I actually burn."  I run and use my treadclimber, as well as lift weights.  I didn't think there was any way I was eating more than I burned.  I was wrong, really really wrong.

Dana M lent me her bugg for a week.  In that week I realized just how much I was over eating.  I decided to take the plunge and get my own bugg.  I actually purchased mine on Craigslist and for $45 (a ridiculous deal!  Used they typically run near $100) I was in business.  It bluetooths to my phone to a free app and I can record my intake anytime, anywhere.  I can also see how many calories I've burned.  If I'm really wanting a particular snack and I don't have the allowance for it, I do some activity until I've earned it.

It's removed the guessing game.  I no longer feel trapped into gaining all my weight back.  I also don't feel trapped by running.  If I can't work out today, no worries.  I'll just cut back my calories and I still lose.  I'm down 7lbs in 3 weeks and I have 10lbs to go to get back to my Weight Watcher's goal. 

Here are a couple of my favorite things to spend my calories on:
30 chips for 110 calories!  And they are delicious!

Taste just like Snickers ice cream bars!  But 140 cals!!

Yummy Chocolate!  80 cals plus fiber?  Yes please!