Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My 3 year old challenge

All of us with more than one child have that "one" kid. The one that challenges your every nerve and conviction. The one that makes you question reproducing ever again. The one that makes you consider starting on a six pack at 9 in the morning. It's normal, I understand, we've all been there (please Lord tell me I'm not alone in that!).

I have always known that my third baby, Mason, was "that child" for me. He has always marched to the beat of his own drum in every way possible. He talked really late, but walked very early. He didn't eat purees until he was 9 months old, but nursed around the clock until he was almost 2. But it wasn't until recently that I really started to take a look at his behaviors and I began to get worried. Daily (almost multiple times daily) I'd say to myself, "He's so much more than strong-willed, there has to be something more going on!"

Until last week, I'd been putting off getting him evaluated. Part of me wanted to know so badly what I was missing. Why was he NOTHING like my two older children. (I know every child is different, but this was so much MORE than different.) And the other part of me was genuinely afraid because I desperately didn't want anything to be different about him, he's still my perfect little baby boy with crazy curly hair and a spunk that I could only dream of.

Wednesday came around and his appointment was here. I nervously brought him in and we talked over a lot of things. All of his behaviors were analyzed. We watched his actions and then the Dr turned and talked to me. "We can't officially classify him as anything yet," she said, "but right now we're going to call him hyperactive with a possible touch of OCD. We'll reevaluate him once he's in school." It wasn't at all the answer I was looking for. There was no start to make things better, no parental closure... nothing. I was told he needs to get as much activity as possible. If he gets antsy I'm supposed to bundle him up and have him run around the yard for 30 minutes. I need to keep him entertained and his mind moving.

So now, we wait. We do what the doctor has suggested and see what happens. Keep an eye on his development (which is apparently a little delayed) and his behaviors and just... wait. I have to say I'm frustrated that there is nothing intensive that we can do right now. I didn't want to medicate him or anything, but maybe some sort of behavior therapy or head-start program so that every day doesn't have to be such a challenge.

I will continue to do my own research and work with him the best way I know how. Through all of this I've just come to realize more and more that there is no cookie-cutter kid, even within the same family. Parenting philosophies and "modes of operation" are supposed to be tweaked and altered with each child. So... I will continue to alter... until I get it right! (Whatever THAT means!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Very Cheap-O Christmas Part 2: Freebies!

There are some people (grandparents, spouses, siblings) that I like to give a little mass produced extra in addition to a DIY creation for Christmas. However, the same situations applies... money is tight. So I search for FREEBIES to give as gifts. There really is nothing better than getting something that is normally $15+ for no more than shipping and giving it to someone and having them think you spent a small (relative) fortune on it.

Here is my current list of Freebies:

Free 2013 Photo Calendar from Vistaprint

Free Custom Mug from Vistaprint

20 Free Custom Gift Tags from InkGarden

10 Free Christmas Cards from InkGarden

Free Flip Book from Vistaprint

Free Baby Talk Magazine Subscription

Free Samples of Airborne (4 packs).... seems silly but a great stocking stuffer!

Free Jiffy Corn Bread Recipe Book (again seems silly... but think stocking stuffers people!)

50 Free 4x6 prints from Shutterfly (for new members only... create a new email if you have to)

Also, make sure that you sign up and ask to be on the email list for Walgreens, Shutterfly, Vistaprint, InkGarden, Walmart, ect. They are always emailing you freebies! And if you don't like your email being bombarded with spam make a new email specifically for freebies (and sweepstakes if you're into that kind of thing ::wink::wink::)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Traveling for Two Part 1: Airplane Travel

There is an age old question that parents frequently ask, especially around the holiday season. "How in the world do I travel with my child without completely pulling my hair out or leaving him/her on the side of the road?!" Thankfully, over the past 6.5 years I have traveled...well... A LOT. Therefore I have some tried and true methods of travel with baby/child that ensure that you will still have said child, and your wits, at the end of the trip.

This installment of Travelling for Two will be all about air travel. This is best done with only 1 child (or two if you have two adults). I can feel you cringing now. Long lines, security, close quarters, the whole bit. I get it... I really do. But this is actually one of my favorite ways to travel (minus the debilitating fear of crashing and dying in Lake Erie) and can go relatively smoothly if you follow some really simple advice.

1. Babywear- I really can't emphasize this enough. As soon as you get to the airport, whether it be at the curbside drop off or parking lot, strap that baby/toddler onto you and don't take them off! My favorite babywearing apparatus in the airport is a soft-structured carrier like a Boba or an Ergo. They are easy, distribute weight, and really comfortable. "But... but... the security person will make me take the baby out of the carrier and then put the carrier on the belt and then I have to carry the baby and blah blah blah" you exclaim. FALSE! There is a new TSA regulation that says that you do not have to take your baby out of the carrier... you simply need to have your hands swiped for explosives once you go through the fancy scanner.

2. Bring your infant seat with you- I use a convertible car seat in my car but I have an infant bucket seat for travel. I always, always bring the bucket seat with me. Do NOT check it at the front desk even if you didn't buy your baby a seat. Here is why: first of all, checking your car seat can be dangerous because they don't necessarily treat your items with love and respect. Also, if you did NOT buy baby a seat but the plane isn't full you can have the lady/guy at the gate change your seat to one with an unoccupied neighboring seat, then you can USE THE CAR SEAT for the flight! Tip for easily carrying the car seat through the airport: position the handle part not quite all the way down and not quite all the way up (there should be an in between setting) and then flip it over and hang it over the handle of your rolling carry-on.

3. Schedule your flight at the right time- this tip might work for some and backfire for others. It has always worked for me so I'll include it. If I know that I'm going to be bringing a child with me that likes to nap I schedule the flight for during nap time (or stupid early in the morning... like 6am). The reason being is that I can usually nurse the baby to sleep during take off, they sleep during the flight and then wake up refreshed and jovial upon landing. Which brings me to my next point...

4. Nurse/Feed baby on takeoff/landing- Most babies have a hard time equalizing the pressure of the elevation and often end up screaming bloody murder because they are in pain. Some people will say, give them a sucker, give them benedryl, ect. I beg of you: DO NOT DO THAT! Giving your child unnecessary sugar for a flight is not going to end well. Also, Benadryl has the opposite effect in children under 3 and will turn them into an extremely hyper mess of a human being. All a child needs to equalize pressure is light sucking motions in their mouth. Pacifiers, nursing, bottles, even a sippy cup for older kids will work wonders for them.

5. New toys/treats- If scheduling during nap time isn't an option or your kid just doesn't like to take naps I highly recommend new toys. If your kids are like mine you can probably liken their attention span to that of a fruit fly. Therefore, I would recommend buying enough new toys or a special treat for every 30 minutes that you will be on the plane. They do not need to be expensive in any way, just new and different. Go to the Dollar Tree (ya know, my favorite place) and pick up a couple things that would catch their attention.

If none of these tips help you, my last piece of advice is probably the best:

6. Try not to care- Babies cry. Children cry. Heck, even grown adults cry. Do the best you can with your baby and do not worry about the rest of the passengers. You will never see them again, you do not owe them anything. The more you stress about it, the more stressed the baby/child will become and that will just escalate the problem.

I hope this is helpful for you... happy flying!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Very Cheap-O Christmas: Part 1


Lets face it sometimes mass produced gift baskets can be chinsy, overdone and show little effort or forethought.  But a DIY gift basket can be just the opposite! When you make it yourself you have the ability to customize something that fits the recipient to a T and paints a picture of painstaking consideration and care.

When designing these baskets-o-love its very easy to go overboard (trust me I'm the queen of overboard) and spend way more money than originally budgeted. You walk down an isle full of pint sized goodies and very quickly fill your cart, all the while imagining this elaborate creation that will surely shock and amaze the person who you will bestow this gift upon. But I challenge you... ere on the side of minimal and thoughtful instead of elaborate and expensive because you do not need to spend a lot of money to let someone know that you care.

Case and point: I was invited to a very dear friends wedding a week and a half ago and knew that between a flight out to New Jersey as well as gas money, food money, and the like I just wasn't going to have the funds to get her some big beautiful gift, or even an envelope full of money. She understands our "financial strapped-ness" and therefore I felt comfortable giving her one of my DIY creations. So I started brainstorming, and thinking, and considering. In my opinion the kitchen is a central hub of a family. It is where conversations happen, where the morning starts, and relationships are made. Yes, I was going to focus on things for her new kitchen!

My main objective was to make sure that I could stay under $10 without anything looking cheap or overly DIY. Ultimately I decided to make two mugs (a his/hers situation), a hanging towel (flippin' love those things!), and a weekly menu planner. But Lordy! How was I going to stay under $10?? Dollar Tree/Hobby Lobby here I come!!!! (Insert maniacal laugh...)

Here was my shopping list
Dollar Tree:
2 Mugs- $2
1 8x10 picture frame- $1
Kitchen Towel- $1
Sweet basket- $1

Hobby Lobby:
Pretty Printed Paper- $0.50 $0.24 (IT WAS ON SALE!!!!)

Things I had at home:
Extra fabric laying around
Black and red Sharpie markers

That's a total of $5.24! Now here's what I did with it.

Gathered my materials (pay no attention to the extra fabric and kitchen towel... I'm making one for myself too)

Drew lips/mustache and Mrs/Mr on each mug respectively... like sooooo
Baked for 30 minutes on 350 degrees

 Then gather my supplies for the menu planner: Picture frame, pretty printed paper and your computer. In a word document write "Menu" at the top and then "Monday" through "Friday" down the side of the document. Please make sure that you print it on plain paper first so that you make sure that the placement is right and then you can print it on your pretty paper. Then you just pop it into your picture frame and your end result should look something like this:
Finally you are going to gather your materials for your hanging towel. If you know anything about sewing a sing straight line this should be pretty easy for you. You could even hand sew it. Either way there is a great tutorial and pattern to show you exactly what to do. I didn't have a button so I decided to use a snap. You could do a sew on snap, I did a press on snap. Here is mine "pre-snap":
Then you just neatly place it all in the basket and stick a card in there. (This is my quick placement... I later fixed it so that it was more organized but I just didn't get a chance to take a picture of it.)
You will also want to include a dry-erase marker for the menu planner but that should NOT cost you more than $1 if you have any frugal skills what-so-ever.
Voila! This gift could be given to a newly married couple for their first Christmas, but really could go to ANYONE as long as you customize the paper what you write on the mugs. The possibilities are endless!
Stay tuned for more Cheap-O Christmas crafts and ideas!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Very Cheap-o Christmas

There is a commonly expressed misconception that I hear all the time when people find out how many kids I have. It goes something like this, "How many kids do you have?" I answer, "I have 4." They respond, "Whoa! You're Christmas' must be really really expensive!" I'll briefly address my problem with this notion that our children need to get 81575642 gifts at Christmas and we need to break the bank to get the biggest and the best. What happened to quality instead of quantity? What happened to teaching appreciation instead of entitlement? What happened to the TRUE meaning of the season??? End rant, back to the topic at hand. In answer to the question: "is your Christmas really expensive?" I exclaim, "NAY!" (ok maybe I don't yell "nay" in the middle of the check out line at Jewel but you know what I mean.)

So why is Christmas not that expensive for me when I have so many people to buy for (because lets face it, its not just the kids. Its grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles too)? The answer is simple: DIY. I have found that the best way to save money, and really the most heartfelt gifts are DIY gifts. So for the next several weeks until the week before Christmas I will be posting some of my crafty Christmas creations. 

Just a couple things to consider when you go to make your Christmas DIY list:

1. Consider the recipient- You can find the cutest, easiest, most inexpensive beer mug makeover tutorial, but if the person you are giving it to doesn't drink beer it won't mean diddly. 

2. Consider the budget- The worst mistake you can make is to set a budget and then not stick to it. Trust me, I know this is hard. I am the person who walks into the Dollar Store for 3 items and ends up spending $20! 

3. Remember... QUALITY not QUANTITY- Focus on only making a couple of crafts per person. The more you make, the more you end up rushing, and the less cute/crafty/legit the item will look. 

4. Some things are better left un-crafted- Please, PLEASE, I admonish you. No-one needs a hand crocheted bikini, a coaster set of pictures of your dead pet, or pe**s shaped soap.

I would absolutely love for you to share your DIY Christmas ideas! I'm always on the hunt for inspiration! Also, be on the look out for my first DIY Christmas project this year! I'm working on it now and its PREEEETTTTY fantastical! 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pre-Cooked Goodness

Well it seems like its been forever since I had a cooking day! Unfortunately it has been about a month! (Ridiculous) But we finally got around to it. This week was a bit of a challenge though because my family is completely and utterly sick of crock pot meals. We needed to change things up a bit and make "freezer to oven" meals. Going into this cooking day I have to admit I was nervous. What are the logistics of freezer-to-oven meals? Can I just do the same thing and throw them in the bag and then cook when ready? Do things need to be par-cooked? How will the things taste if I cook them first and then freeze them? But most importantly will I have tiiiiime???

Right off the bat I found a couple of great recipes and it made me feel so much better. I had a "meeting of the minds" via email with my cooking buddy and after a couple of days of deciding we were ready to take this different kind of cooking day. The result was 7 recipes, for roughly $45! (This time I saved my receipt to prove it haha)

About 4 of the recipes came from the same webpage which was SOOOO convenient! The website says "Freezer Marinades for Summer Grilling" but you don't NEED to grill this stuff... especially in the winter. Essentially what we did with these is make the marinade and add it to the meat of our choice.

Lemonade Marinade Chicken:
Bag of frozen chicken drumsticks
3 TBSP of Worcestershire Sauce (Why is it so difficult to say that word??)
2/3 cup of Lemonade Concentrate
1 TSP of Celery Seeds
2/4 TSP Salt
2/4 TSP Pepper
2 Clove Garlic- Minced

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Put the chicken in a foil pan and pour the marinade on top!

Mediterranean Rub Pork Tenderloin:
4 lbs Pork Tenderloin (We got 2 2lb Hormel tenderloins)
2 TSP Ground Sage
2 TSP Dry Thyme
2 TSP Pepper
1 TSP Salt
1 TSP Garlic Powder
1 TSP Dried Rosemary
1 TSP Olive Oil (We ended up using more of this to make the rub stretch a bit more)

Combine dry ingredients and olive oil in a mixing bowl. Put pork in a foil pan and spread mixture with a rubber spatula all over the pork.

Garlic Dijon Chicken
Package of Chicken Breasts
4 Cloves Minced Garlic
8 TBSP Dijon Mustard
4 TBSP Lime Juice (we just cut a lime in half and squeezed ;) )

Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Put chicken in foil and pour mixture over it. This was a little bit thicker so I used a marinade brush to make sure that it was even.

Lemon & Garlic Chicken
Bag of Chicken Thighs
4 Cloves Minced Garlic
1/4 cup Olive Oil
4 TBSP Chopped Parsley (we used fresh parsley... yummm!)
6 TBSP Lemon Juice (Cut a lemon in half and squeezed!)
1/4 TSP Pepper

Mixed all the ingredients together, put chicken in foil pan, pour mixture over the chicken. (Are you noticing a trend?)

Balsamic Glazed Chicken
About 20 Chicken Tenders (I used breasts and then cut them in half... for some reason that ends up being cheaper)
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Balsamic Vinegar (we used balsamic vinaigrette dressing... that's all we had lol)
1 cup Honey
2 TBSP Rosemary
7 TSP Minced Garlic

Mix all together... put in foil pan.... pour mixture over it. OR you can put it all in a freezer bag and put them out on a pan when you are ready to cook it.

The picture is only with about half the chicken you need....
Ranch Burgers (there is no link for this)
Roughly 2 lbs of Ground Beef (you can use ground turkey too)
One Packet Ranch Dressing Mix
One bag of shredded cheddar cheese
Mix all together... form patties out of them... makes about 9 or 10. I put them in the foil pan and separated each one with wax paper. (We made these last night and they were seriously AMAZING)
Herbed Turkey Meatballs - this is a little bit more involved... I recommend doing this one first
Roughly 1.25 lbs of ground Turkey (we used 93/7)
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
1 TBSP dried basil
1 TBSP dried thyme
1-2 minced garlic cloves (I did 2... but I love garlic)
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375 and line baking sheet with parchment paper (oops just realized I didn't do this! lol). In a large bowl mix together all the ingredients. Then with your hands make walnut sized balls and put them on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Then let cool and put them in a freezer bag.
I didn't get a picture of them but these are the perfect addition to pasta night!
Our grocery list was pretty simple. Some stuff we had at home so if you are going off of this list please make sure that you check the recipes too to make sure you have everything!
Jenny O Ground Turkey 93/7- $4.30
Chicken Breasts- $10.25
Chicken Drumsticks-$3.99
Chicken Thighs- $3.99
1.5 lb Ground Beef- $7.25
Pork Loin- $7.75
Fruits and Veggies:
Parsley- $1.39
Lime- $0.50
Lemon- $0.50
Dijon Mustard- $0.99
Ranch Dressing packet- $1.45
Shredded Cheese- $1.99 (we had a coupon for $0.40 off!)
Lemonade Concentrate- $0.75 (on sale!)
Celery seeds- $2.39
That's a grand total of $47.49!! And the things like the parsley, mustard and celery seeds were split between two of us. The great thing about this is that so many of the items in the recipes are things you probably already have in your pantry.
Happy cooking everyone!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Quiet Moments

I tend to believe that when you are faced with impending parenthood you often think that there will be a lot of sleepless nights, you gear up for a screaming baby, maybe you even anticipate some sort of frustration due to your typical schedule being thrown to the wind. (Although, I could just be projecting haha.) All these thoughts are completely normal (right??!!), and getting used to the changes associated with having a new baby is difficult.

I'll give you a scenario... it may or may not be true to life... and it may or may not have happened 3 nights ago. All of your kids are in bed by 7:30, you have the rest of the night to yourself. Your husband, who works afternoon/nights gets home at around 9 and you want to spend some time with him. Fast forward to 11 o'clock and you are finally pouring yourself into bed and excited for a good nights sleep. You snooze away until 12:30 when you are violently woken up by screaming coming through the baby monitor and in a fog you stumble to the kids room and pick up the owner of the scream: a teething baby. You nurse her (or him) and put them back to bed. Soon enough you are settling back into a deep slumber. All of a sudden you feel like someone is watching you. You open your eyes in the dark... AN APPARITION! No.... its a 4 year old and its 2:30am. She's scared and wants to cuddle. "Two seconds," you mutter. She crawls into bed with you and you count to two, after which she runs to her room, gets her pillow and blanket and makes a bed for herself on your floor. Sleep comes slightly easier this time, so you fade. 4:30am... screaming... hmmmm. Teething baby again. Its harder to get out of bed this time, but you manage. Boob, cuddle, rock/sway, back in bed. After what seems like 10 minutes you hear giggling, gurgling and the like over the stupid blessed baby monitor. Its 6am. Your angelic beings have decided that they want to get up with the sun this morning. So you roll yourself out of the warmth of your bed and embrace the day, tired but alive.

A night like this can be approached one of two ways. You can either be angry/frustrated/whatever or you can be thankful. "Thankful?" you ask. How in the world could one person be thankful for getting so few broken hours of sleep?? Perspective is how. It might come as a shock but you could possibly go through your entire day and not get a single moment of alone time with your children. It is easy to get caught up in the chaos and busy-ness of life and completely miss out on quiet moments with our babies.

Consider this: every time that one of your kids calls out to you in the night, they desire something. Lucky for you, what they desire is exactly what you have in the middle of the night: TIME. When I am cuddling with my baby girl at 2 in the morning I am able to gain important knowledge of her. I learn the curve of her cheek as I run my hand down her face to settle her. I bask in her baby smell. In the still of the night I hear her subtle hum while she breathes heavily and falls back into a deep sleep. When my 3 year old yells my name in the night I am able to do something almost noone else can. He lays on my chest, hugs me tightly and I make him feel safe. My precious 4 year old believes that the best place that she can sleep is nestled in the curve of my stomach. And my big 6 year old, even still, just wants to know that he will always be my baby.

This way of thinking isn't easy, and I need constant reminders of how precious this time is. However, it is so important to embrace these special opportunities, because they will be gone before we know it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Lost Sacredness

There is an epidemic attatcking America these days. It effects 50% of marriages outside of the church and just about 38% of marriages of regular church attenders. This epidemic cannot be cured by a medication, a shot or being put in quarantine. It effects everyone it touches and touches more people than you realize. This epidemic is divorce.

God created marriage. He created it to be a beautiful partnership in which two become one. Matthew 19:5-6 says, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." The vows that are taken when two people get married are intended to be a serious covenant, a joining of souls, a lifetime commitment. So my question is... what happened??

This is what happened....

We have become a society of immediate gradification. We want dinner, we go through a drive thru and in 2 minutes our bellies are full. We want to buy something but don't have the funds so we swipe a plastic card and walk out with our merchandise. We feel like our marriage is holding us back or things are harder than we had anticipated so we file some paperwork and our "freedom" is given to us. People think that this fast and easy way of getting exactly what we want when we want it has made our lives better, but I happen to believe quite the contrary.

There was a day not too terribly long ago when things had to be worked for, saved for and giving up just wasn't an option. The food on the dinner table was made from scratch and therefore had more value to us. Divorce was taboo and therefore giving up on your marriage was almost out of the question. (Let me be clear that I'm not talking about the very serious and real cases of abuse, neglect, or infidelity. In those situations I think you have to do what you feel is right for yourself with guidance from God. I'm referring to the "just don't get along" situations) Our spouses have become disposable to us and very easily replaceable. Our marriages hold very little value any more. People just don't want to do the hard work that it takes to sustain a marriage and counseling is seen as a sign of weakness.

What can we do?

Hebrews 13:4a says, "Let marriage be held in honor above all." It is our call to hold marriage as an honor, a holy gift and a blessing. As Christians (and even as non-Christians) divorce should be taken off the table and our vows should be taken seriously. "For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or health...as long as we both shall live," (I get that in modern ceremonies those aren't always the vows but I'm pretty sure that none of them feature an escape clause).

Probably the most important thing we can do to help our marriage is have a willingness to work hard at it. I talk to so many "soon to be married" couples and they say, "I just can't wait to be married, it's gonna be amazing" or, "I can't wait to be his/her wife/husband, it'll be the greatest job I have." And don't get me wrong, it will be amazing, and it will be the greatest job, but it will also be incredibly difficult. There will be days that you just want to cry. There will be times when this person you're living with hurts you more than anyone else ever has or ever could. And there will even be days when all you want to do is give up. (Call me overly psycho-babbled but) I truly believe that every relationship can benefit from counseling. Open up those lines of communication and let the conversation get messy sometimes. It's in that messiness that layers are peeled back, and wounds are opened to allow for a deeper healing and understanding of each other in your marriage.

I'll leave you with one last thought. How do you love your spouse? Ephesians 5:33 says, "each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife should respect her husband." What a great challenge that is for all of us!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Mighty Quest for Skinnyhood

Four kids... five and a half years...109 pounds.

These are my stats. The last SHOCKING number is not what I weigh... unfortunately. Its the total amount I've gained while pregnant with each of my beautiful blessings from above. That number wouldn't at all be horrible if I lost all the weight with each one, but I didn't. The first two pregnancies I was able to lose all of it but 5 pounds. The next two... well that's a whole different story.

I always say that the third baby ruins your body. This is why. While pregnant with sweet baby Mason (who just turned 3 about a week ago) my stomach went from looking like a map of the farmlands of Indiana to looking like a map of Manhattan, I got spider veins, started finding an occasional gray, and the weight I gained simply refused to come off. It wasn't until he was about 8 months old... probably more like a year... that I was able to start losing some of the weight. I got down to about 5 pounds heavier then I was when I got pregnant with him! Whoop! Still not all off but I was happy with that! Then by some curse from the underground I started gaining.... and gaining..... and GAINING. I gained about 20 lbs in just shy of a year. WTH?!?!?!?!?!! Whyyyyyyy. To add insult to injury, I got pregnant with baby #4 after packing on these pounds. And then welcomed 27 more pounds into my life. I've now lost all of her baby weight... but I am still over where I want to be.

Since I delivered baby Eden I have been on an (occasionally) intense mission to lose it all! I want to go back down to where I was before I started having babies. I want to be that swimsuit model that my husband can show off. (Not the two piece models... one pieces.... remember... my stomach still looks like a map of Manhattan and I wouldn't wish seeing that on my worst enemy!)  I started to do Zumba, eating right, walking, (attempting) running, Jillian Michaels, even the latest Pinterest trend: The 3 day diet. And yet with all of that I'm still not much below where I have been (although with that 3 day diet I did drop about 4-5 lbs).

I have to admit... I've been feeling extremely defeated. Will I ever be able to make it where I want to? Am I ever gonna jump off this gigantic flippin' plateau that I'm on? And then I got to thinking. What is my motivation? Am I only wanting to get fit so I can boast of my fantastic bod despite giving birth to four babies? Do I just want to lose this weight so that I can be the envy of new mothers every where?? The answer is: Sadly, yes. I was in it for selfish and vain reasons only. Where I should have been health and wellness motivated, I was motivated out of a desire to be noticed for my accomplishments. And whats worse is that I was failing miserably at it!

Given my recent realization, I am standing at a cross roads. Of course I will continue to workout, eat healthy, etc. But I can either do it because a) I know that it'll get me skinny, might force me to buy a new wardrobe, and will prove to everyone that it doesn't matter how many kids I've had... I'm still hot or b) I know that taking care of my body, eating healthy, and exercising is just one way of treating my body like it is the temple that God designed it to be and by doing so I will be a better mother to my children. It really seems like the answer is obvious, but I am flawed and therefore torn. Don't forget... I want to be the trophy wife, and those feelings don't just go away over night.

So I'm going to go ahead and do something that I very very rarely do. I'm going to ask for help. I need help in the way of prayer. Will you all join me in prayer that the heart behind my quest for health would be pure? That my motives would be for God's glory? And that it positively impact my children's lives?

I want to be the best mom I can, so I need to be as healthy as I can.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Bully Begins at Home

This post is probably not going to make me any friends. I'd love to believe that it wouldn't make me any enemies either... but who knows.

For the past week or so I've been dealing with a parents worst nightmare. My baby boy Cameron has been getting bullied at school. He is in first grade and is truly one of the sweetest boys you will ever meet. He is quiet and tries so hard to follow the rules in school. At home he can be rough and tumble but he is just a genuinely good boy. That being said... my son is not being verbally bullied... he is being PHYSICALLY bullied (punching, kicking, hair pulling, face slapping... the works). Now normally with mild verbal bullying I wouldn't make a big stink about it. I'd talk to Cameron, tell him what to say to the boy, explain that this boy's words can't hurt him... blah blah blah. But nobody, I repeat NOBODY, lays a hand on my son. Oh boy, mama bear is about to break out of her cage. When I heard what had been occurring and (whats worse) how LONG it had been going on I immediately called the school and made it clear that I was someone to reckon with and meant serious business. I have been in steady contact with the school nearly every day since and the situation is slowly getting resolved, the little boy is getting the help he needs, and Cameron has been informed of the appropriate course of action should it happen again.

However, this whole situation got me thinking (I know... dangerous). This is happening in first grade... FIRST GRADE! What is going to happen when my children get older? High school was a vicious place for me. I wasn't necessarily the best kid, got in some significant trouble (gigantic fricken cry for help). I tried, but I don't think I ever felt like I truly fit in with the "cool crowd." I didn't live in the right place, I didn't go to the right church, I hadn't known these people since I was 5, the list goes on. There were a couple "kids" in middle school and high school (same school... it was a k-12... brilliant, right?) that, looking back, made me hurt more than I could possibly describe. These people would call me friends and then laugh at me behind my back (but not quite out of earshot). And sometimes I even wonder if the "bullying," along with a couple other major life events, led me to make some of the choices that I did further down the line.

This was roughly 10 years ago, and kids are so much more vindictive than they used to be. What kind of world will my own kids walk into when they enter through those high school doors for the very first time? I guarantee it'll be a much different, more painful world then I lived in.

So this leads me to the title of this blog, "A Bully Begins at Home." Now of course I am no child psychologist (although I play one on TV ::wink wink::), however, I truly believe that so many of the actions from bullies stem from their home life. There is a saying that says, "hurt people hurt people" and bullying is not the exception to this but is the rule. Being a bully is a learned behavior. A baby doesn't emerge from the womb looking for their first victim. A 2 year old doesn't naturally go up to another child, push them over and take all their stuff. It isn't typical for a 6 year old to go up to his class mate and slap him in the face "just because." Instead, these things are shown to them, one way or another. Perhaps some can be given the benefit of the doubt. They learned it on TV, or witnessed something similar from a different child on the play ground. Or maybe they could be a victim themselves.

Parents have a very important job. We hold the health, both emotional and physical, of our children in the palm of our hands. What we do, how we treat them, even what we allow them to watch on TV and listen to on the radio, shapes them into the people that they will become whether we like it or not. Bullying is defined as aggressive behavior against someone else that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. A scary question is, do we bully our own children? Are they learning this behavior from the very people who are supposed to guard them against it?

Whether we choose to believe it or not, bullying is a real danger now a-days. Tormented youth are killing themselves because their peers just won't let up. Girls are bulimic and anorexic because the other girls have been calling them fat. Hurting teens are bringing guns and knives to school because they've reached their breaking point.

Just like bullying starts at home, so does prevention. Engage, encourage and love your children. But most importantly be a living example for them. I am going to work harder at this in my own home, because I know without a doubt that actions speak louder than words.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Little Pirate is 3!

On Wednesday my little man... my handsome third born turned three! I don't know why but he just seems so much like a baby to me! Maybe it's because of the slightly delayed speech or the fact that he is still in 24 month clothing. Either way, he still seems little and I don't think I was quite emotionally ready for him to move from toddler-hood to technically being a preschooler.

In true cheap-o mama fashion (some people call it frugal, I call it cheap), I started looking for sales to give me some direction for his birthday MONTHS ago. I was extremely thankful that my husband's aunt sent me a link back in June for pirate costumes that were on sale at Little Tykes for $0.94 a piece! I was immediately sold. I bought 6 and Mason was going to have a pirate party!! 

If you have a lot of kids or if your birthday budgets just aren't as huge as you'd like them, I completely understand. We just don't have the money for a fancy place like Chuck E Cheese or Pump It Up or any of those other money sucking party venues. We have at home birthday parties and I try my best to make them as fantabulous as I can. So, on the never ending quest for creative ways to save I started hitting up my fave site.... PINTEREST (seriously... you should follow me... I pin the best, most amazing stuff and your life will become a little bit brighter just by doing so)... for some pirate themed party ideas and I actually was able to find some super cute stuff! 

This leads me to the week before his birthday party. Not only do I like to save but I have been blessed with the gift of procrastination as well! (I know... I'm pretty lucky) So... cue mad scramble and intense mood swings. I was fortunate enough to be able to borrow my friends Cricut machine and I think I might have found the love of my life.... next to my husband of course. The Cricut works great with card stock but I just couldn't justify spending $15 on a pack of multicolored card stock (most of which I wasn't going to use anyway) for one simple project. This led me to the dollar store. (If you know me, you know that I'm extremely attracted to things that are a dollar. I don't know why, it just is what it is. Embrace it.) I was able to find poster board... POSTER BOARD... for only 0.66 a sheet. I got 3 sheets of black and 3 sheets of red for my pirate-y project. That's a whopping $3.96 for the Cricut paper as opposed to the $15 I would have spent on colors I didn't even want!

Here is what my friend's Cricut and my dollar store poster board was able to do! (minus some very cute food signs that I forgot to take individual pictures of)

The paper decor was complete but I just wasn't happy, there needed to be more. I remembered back to another project I saw on Pinterest. Making your own serving dishes! This would allow me to custom make reusable party stuff in exactly the colors I wanted! The project was simple for my purposes... a regular sized black plate, a candle stick holder, and a glass bowl . All of these items are found at the dollar store. That is correct, three things, $3. The result? 


I just gotta say... sometimes I really do rock my own socks off.... (also... I made two) 

After I got the typical paper plates, napkins and plastic table cloths I decided to round it all out by getting a reusable square plastic plate and reusable square plastic bowl. I glued them together and used it as a cupcake serving plate. Simple... cheap... cute. 

So a quick run down of my costs thus far:
Paper Decorations- $3.96
Two serving plate/bowl combos- $6
One cupcake server- $2
Plates/napkins/table cloths- $8

I've found that the food component of the party tends to be among the most expensive and I just couldn't swing it this year so I went simple. For the "main course" I made taco chili in the crock pot ($10) and it was a huge hit! For snacks I had fruits (strawberries, grapes, and pineapple) and blue corn chips and salsa ($20) as well as small water bottles for the kids ($4). And then as opposed to a big cake that can cost about $20-40 I made cupcakes from scratch. Super delicious and 1/4 of the cost, and best of all everyone was happy and full! Awesome. 

In the end I ended up spending about $63 (including the costumes I purchased back in June) but my son and all of his friends had as much fun as they would have if we'd spent triple that amount. 

Just some fun pictures from the party: 
The birthday boy!

All of his little pirate friends... plus older brother and sister

Full Pirate Garb!

The table before the food was added to it...

My son had an amazing time. His friends had an amazing time. And I was truly proud of how it all turned out. So as a summary, there is no shame in borrowing, the dollar store is your friend, and don't be afraid of DIY! You'll be thoroughly surprised with what you can come up with when you open your mind and allow yourself to be creative!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

In His Timing...

Its no secret that my husband is extremely close to finishing college (we're talking 2-3 weeks close!) and I'm extremely proud of him and the work/time he has put into attaining his degree. But with this great achievement comes the amazing waiting game. I've been doing my "wifely duties" (not those... get your mind out of the gutter) in that I've been applying for several jobs every day for him so that he can focus on the last couple weeks of school while continuing to work his current full time job.

So I apply, day in and day out. And as I apply I start to plan. OH the plans I make! I have this uncanny ability to put the cart SO far before the horse that if I were to turn that pesky cart around I wouldn't even be able to see the darned horse anymore! I would find a job that would be the perfect fit for us, find a house that was within our budget and in the right school district. Heck! I would even have my flippin' curtains picked out sometimes! And then I'd wait... and wait.... oh, and then I'd wait some more. The benefit of applying for a lot of things online is that you can check the status of most of the applications you submit. So I would check.... "Position Filled".... SON OF A!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was like a bad break up every time I'd see those stupid words. Without fail my dreams would be crushed like a 7 year old whose parents forgot his birthday.

All through this process I have been saying, "what ever God has for us we will take!" But really I am saying, "whatever God has for us IMMEDIATELY we will take!" I don't want to wait 6 more months, or even a year, for our lives to start. I want it to start right now. I want to be able to buy our first home. I want to decorate my kids room. I want to pick out paint colors and appliances. But what I am constantly being reminded of is that good things don't happen in my own timing, they happen in God's timing. The reason is that my own timing is flawed, but HIS is NOT!

It an extremely scary thought for me to turn my "timeline" over to God. I have this need to be in control. I'm working on it. I've given over control of a lot of areas. But, unfortunately, I am not perfect and so I am still having to work on that whole "giving over of control" thing on a daily basis. It's humorous when I think about struggling with letting God be in control though. He had the power to create me, our world, put the stars in the sky, set the earth in motion (ect, ect) so WHY do I have such difficulties trusting him with the ability to know when our lives should get under way?

It is my desire to live completely within God's will for me and stand with my hands palm up ready to accept His abundant blessings that come with living within that will. So, in light of all of this new thinking and what not I've changed my way of praying. Instead of saying, "God please bring us the right job," I say "God please bring us the right job, at the right time." I believe that the change of prayer will in turn create a change of heart in myself.

I would love to know if you any one else struggles with the "my own timing" mentality and different ways that you use combat those thoughts....

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Dirty on Diapers

I'm assuming that it is no secret to most of you that I cloth diaper my baby girl. I love to wash them, dry them, fold them, and occasionally throw them on my bed and roll around in their fluffiness. OK... maybe you didn't know the last thing. (Hey! No judgey!! We all have our quirks!) But I don't know if many of you know my cloth diaper story.

When baby #3 was around a year old I stumbled upon a LIVESTRONG article about the chemicals in disposable diapers. And then I somehow found the cloth diapering board on Babycenter. I'm not exactly sure how I found it (it must have been divine intervention) but I was able to start looking around and started to think that I might actually be able to do it. I discovered stuff about disposable diapers that I had never known nor wanted to believe. The site even led me to a cost saving calculator that would show me exactly how much I could save and in how much time! I had a small starter stash and found out I could make them too! Man oh man was I crafty and super cool. I was like some new aged hipster or something.

When I found out I was pregnant with #4 I knew I was going to cloth diaper from the beginning. It was a no brainer. I was going to be able to save money AND save my future child's reproductive system as well as reduce my carbon footprint. I was like flippin' Mother Earth over here! (false, but we are all allowed our own individual delusions)

Eventually I threw the cost saving component out the window. I was no longer in it for the savings because, I'll be completely honest, I went a little crazy with the work-at-home-mom sites and the super cute prints and styles. Here's a shocker though, I STILL SAVED MONEY! My entire newborn stash, enough for 3-4 days, cost me around $300. I sold things on eBay to fund everything I wanted though so it didn't effect our bank account at all. And... hold on to your seats.... I was able to sell almost everything (minus what I want for any future children ::cough::cough::) and made about $200 back.

My NB stash:
Now that Eden is out of newborn cloth diapers I have been able to switch to her one-size stash... which is quite extensive. (And somehow I still find more cloth every day that I forget I have... I have to destash big time... any interest??) The greatest thing is that these diapers will be able to last her until she pottytrains! I never have to worry about buying her diapers or running out in the middle of the night because we don't have any more. I have types that I can wash by hand just in case the power goes out in some freak incident or the Zombie Apocalypse were to happen. And I'm pretty sure that my baby has one of the most stylish butts EVER at any given point in time.
Some of my OS stash:

I suppose that one of the best things about cloth is that they are able to be reused with each subsequent child or they can be resold. I've tried selling my pre-used disposable diapers before but it didn't work out too well.....

In the end its has been the best decision for my family and I'm extremely happy that I made the switch. I have about two sets of "loaner stashes" if anyone is interested in trying their hand at it. It's not for everyone but hey... there is no harm in trying right?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Crockpot Cookin'

I love the feeling of having a fresh, home cooked meal for my family. There is just something about it that makes me feel like I have succeeded at life, and perhaps evaded mommy failure for at LEAST an hour. However since the birth of our latest little one in February and our older children being increasingly more active, I am often left with little time to shower, never mind cook. Shamefully, I had succumbed to the life of frozen pizzas and boxed mac and cheese (with the occasional pasta with meat sauce for good measure).

For at least a year a very good friend of mine had been telling me that she (and a good friend of hers) take one day a month to do a cooking day and cook for the entire month! The idea of it seemed daunting. That's an awful lot of organizing, preparation, par-cooking which in the end will probably not even be worth it! (Sorry Liz... its just how I felt! haha)

It wasn't until talking with another good friend of mine and realizing that we were BOTH failing in the department of feeding our children/husbands (especially on a budget) that I actually considered this "cooking day" idea as being a viable option. We decided we would try it: but in a smaller scale. We decided we'd do two weeks at a time instead of 4 weeks. It took about 2 months and many planned and then canceled days to actually get it done, but eventually we did it!

Since posting on Facebook about our second bi-monthly cooking day was met with many requests for recipes and shopping lists, I decided I would just post it on the blog (and will continue to do so every time we have a cooking day).  I am almost positive that I lost the receipt for the shopping, however I will do my best to remember everything that we bought.

We make 7 recipes for 2 weeks. We ALWAYS have enough leftovers from a meal with enough to feed the entire family again. This week we got all of our recipes off of Stephanie O'Dea's A Year of Slow Cooking blog and they are all Gluten Free. (I don't need to cook gluten free but my friends family does and since I'm too busy/lazy (mostly lazy) to pick out the recipe's we cook what she wants!)

Our 7 meals we cooked are:
Crockpot Bacon and Cheese Chicken
Obama's Chili (I have a more endearing name for it that I probably shouldn't share at this point)
Brown Sugar Chicken
Whole Chicken in the Crockpot
Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup
Hirino Psito
Sausage and Peppers (scroll down, the only recipe not from crockpot365)

Items I had at home already:
Terriyaki Sauce
Most of the typical seasonings
Jenny-O Italian turkey sausage
Brown Sugar
Balsamic dressing (if this isn't your favorite dressing then put your favorite on your list of things to get)
Worcestershire Sauce
Dijon Mustard

My shopping list:
        5 lbs of whole chicken breasts
        1 lb ground turkey
        About 12 chicken thighs
        1 whole chicken
        4 lb boneless pork tenderloin/butt/whatever
        1 package of Italian sausages (I like Jenny-O and already had some... but my friend didn't)
        1 package of bacon (Hormel sells hormone and nitrate/nitrite free)
        2 packages of the 3 pack multi-colored peppers
        1 large onion
        5 tomatoes
        Sliced mushrooms (optional... and I most DEFINITELY did NOT use them.... blech)
        1 cup frozen corn (not fresh but whatever)
        Ranch Dressing
        bag of shredded cheddar cheese
        1 can kidney beans
        2 cans black beans
        1 jar of minced garlic (the wet kind... I"m sick of chopping garlic)
        Red wine vinegar
        Can of Sprite
        Tamari Sauce
        Box of chicken broth
        Sour Cream
        Gluten free beer (Redbridge)
        Can of diced tomatoes

The produce, meat and some of the miscellaneous items we doubled and our grand total was about $150 for both of us. So that is 7 recipes and, if all goes according to plan, 14 meals for roughly $75! We did all of our shopping at Walmart and did cost comparison.

Then we got home and started the prep work. We had 4 children running around the house (2 of them were VERY unhappy) and it still only took about 2 hours for prep and organization. First we sit down and organize our freezer bags: 7 bags with the name of the item as well as the amount of time required in the crcokpot (ex: 8hrs on low or 4 hrs on high). And then one recipe at a time we put them together. A lot of people chop everything up first but that's is just way to confusing for us! The only things I par-cooked this time around was the ground turkey (even though the recipe says you don't have to) and the bacon... but make sure that you keep an eye on the bacon, or set a timer, or else you are going to be forced to fan the smoke alarm for 20 minutes because your entire house is filled with smoke (I PERSONALLY have never experienced that... just heard that advice some where... at some point...yeah).

Yes... your kitchen will look like a bomb went off at the end of it (unless you are a neater person than I am... which I doubt, because I'm extremely neat and clean and also... the sun shines out of my butt) and it could look something like this

But as a result you will have this (super cute kid not included)

Now remember when I said earlier that I used to do pasta with meat sauce for good measure every once in a while. Well please don't think that I have given that up! This week I also made a home made sauce that was given to me by yet another amazing friend. It is super super easy (because we all know I love easy) and its incredibly tasty as well!

Here's the recipe for that pasta sauce (left out the mushrooms and substituted ground turkey for ground beef):
2- 28oz cans of tomato puree
1- 12 oz can of tomato paste
1 large onion, diced
1 large tomato diced
5-6 garlic cloves, pressed
1 lb of ground beef
1/2 of a container of mushrooms, diced
1/2 tbsp basil
1/2 tbsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp brown sugar

Hopefully that helps all of you realize that you CAN pre-cook your meals and it doesn't have to break the bank! Trust me, if I can do it ANYONE can do it!

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Mommy Wars

I've been hearing this term more and more... "Mommy Wars"... and its implication is intriguing. After much (about .25 seconds) investigation, exploration, and deliberation I've formulated a pretty elaborate definition of the term "Mommy Wars."

Drum roll please......

Mommy Wars [mom-ee wawrz]: noun  A battle between mothers of different parenting styles and philosophies in order to maliciously yet ineffectually prove that the other mother is, in nearly every way, inferior to themselves.

I have to admit that through a process of looking inward and reflecting on some (not so) distant conversations I came to realize that I am a frequent combatant in this battle of words. In fact I would be willing to bet that if many of you mamas out there are as well. It starts with, "well, what works for ME is...." followed by rambling about our tried and true method that is the answer to every problem ever, and then is completed with a, "But that's just ME." However, if we were to look deeper into our carefully articulated advice, past the misleading pleasantry, right there where the true motivation behind our "guidance" is left exposed, you will find that it was nothing more than a switchblade shot in our own personal "mommy war."

Now I know why I feel like I have the right to wage mommy battle against others who clearly have no idea what they are doing. I mean, I'm in the process of raising four children. They are practically perfect in every way (near-perfection is not just reserved for Mary Poppins). I am always well put together. My house is always clean. I sleep a solid 9 hours every night. And to top it all off I have dinner on the table at 5 o'clock sharp every day. I really just have it all figured out and want every one else to be as amazing as I am. (Hopefully all of you who know me also know that I'm joking. OR maybe you know that I'm being serious... dun dun dunnnnn)

But I don't understand why, ya know, OTHER mothers feel its necessary to war against everyone else. I think its pretty safe to assume that not every family is the same, right? So then why do we also assume that one particular method will work for the rest of humanity the way it worked for us?

Parenting is one great big adventure of trial and error. And its through that trial and error that we become the parents that are perfect for our own family. Frankly that's why I keep having kids, I screw up less and less, and figure things out a little bit more with each child (mostly joking... ok... kinda joking...but seriously). I really want to encourage the new moms, or even the seasoned moms. It's not bad to ask for advice. Its not even bad to heed this advice. However, be confident in your abilities as well because the advice you receive just might not work for you. You have (more likely than not) been given an instinct that is far better than any other mothers anecdotal remedy to your personal situation.

I sit here writing this and, really, I'm writing to myself more than anyone else. I have personal struggles with wanting to be right and being critical (that is an entirely different post for an entirely different day) and I often find myself forcing my philosophies on others under the guise of trying to help. There is research to support all different sides of the parenting table, and no method/style is more right then the other. So mama's reading this, will you put down the proverbial battle ax with me and accept the fact that what works for one isn't going to work for the other? And that we are no better than the next mom who is just trying to figure it all out?

Let's offer advice in love, not war. (hehe)

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Blessing?

"Man you have your hands full!"

"Don't you know how birth control works?"

"Are you DONE yet?!?!"

"Just wait....."

On any given day my family will hear at least ONE of these questions/statements. I think we've all been there: walking through the aisles at Target, basking in our baby-free-ness, and we see a young mom. She is frantically pushing a shopping cart, has one baby strapped to her, another child trying to climb out of the cart, and still another child hiding between in the clothes rack (probably doing some messy business). We look at her and instantly feel sorry for her. She's clearly having a hard time. Obviously she is in over her head with all of these children. Why didn't she just wait for her husband to get home so that she could run her errands in peace? We stare, catch her eye, give her that pitiful look and approach her. "Man you sure have your hands full!" The words flow out of our mouth like verbal vomit that can't be caught and returned to where it came from. She looks at you, trying not to cry and/or scream, offers up some nervous laughter, and hurries passed you praying she doesn't run into you again.

Being that I AM this woman, can I just offer a little insight into EXACTLY what is going through her mind? She can see you approaching and knows exactly what is coming. She prepares her arsenal of witty comebacks to the intrusive/rude comments regarding her family size and age of her children. In a split second she wonders if she should just turn around and run, leaving her unruly brood to fend for themselves, or if she should continue to wrangle her "angelic offspring" and deal with yet another awkward confrontation questioning her parenting choices. "Maybe I have it all wrong," she thinks, "maybe they will just tell me how cute my children are and then move on." And then, you open your mouth. The maybes and hopeful thoughts fade. You just stated the painfully obvious. Inside her head she exclaims, "of course I have my hands full JERK!" But instead of being a bad example to her children she laughs, and hurries by gripping her poopy child with one hand maneuvering the shopping cart with the other, careful to not jerk it too much so her pint sized dare-devil doesn't fall out of the basket in her haste.

I said before that my family hears at least ONE of these comments/questions every single day. And it's true. I have 4 children ranging from 6 years to 6 months so people feel bad for me on all sorts of levels. I've started coming up with fun little "shocking" comebacks when people start to offer up their opinion regarding my reproductive choices.

They Say:                                                                  I Say:
"Man you sure have your hands full!"                      "Better full than empty!"
"Don't you know how birth control works?"             "No! Can you please explain it to me???"
"Are you DONE yet?"                                               "I don't have enough for a baseball team yet..."
"Just wait...."                                                              ::looks around nervous:: "For what?!?!"

Most of the time these "comebacks" are met with the nervous laugh that I used to offer up when I didn't quite know what to say, other times the people smile, and sometimes I get dirty looks.

Even though I have all of these pieces of wit to combat the idiocy of passersby, deep down I get sad that they will never understand. God has chosen to bless me with 4 amazing children. He has decided that these specific little beings would be a great fit into my family and that my husband and I might just do a superb job at raising them. I welcome any blessings that He sees fit for me to have. Because I know that, "Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward from Him."

So what do I say when I see that mom juggling her little gifts from God? "Wow, you are so blessed!"