Friday, May 30, 2008

Frugal Friday: Cheap Fun!

My very creative husband invented a cheap, fun toy for our kids.

He took a foam "wacky noodle" pool toy and cut it in half. Then he found a short stick or dowel that fit snugly into the hole in the middle of the noodle. He put the stick into the noodle about 8-10 inches, far enough to secure it, but not far enough to hurt someone if they get hit. To finish it off, he wrapped the handle with black duct tape. Voila! Foam swords!

They are having so much fun with these things! And it only cost a couple of dollars for 2 swords. It could even be free if you have a noodle lying around and pick up sticks that have fallen off trees.

For more frugal tips, check out

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pedal Pusher

Look who learned to ride her tricycle!

And while she was at it, she learned how to ride the 2-wheeler (with training wheels).

The best part is, she taught herself! We looked out the window and she was tootling around the yard. Go Boo! :-)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The 1000 Things Challenge!

I heard this idea on Ravelry and thought I would give it a try. Between now and Labor Day I am going to try to get rid of 1,000 things. I really need to do a massive purge & declutter anyway, so this will give me a little purpose & incentive. It doesn't matter where the items go, as long as it's out of my house. I'm going to donate, throw away, sell online, and maybe have a rummage sale. If I get to 1,000 too quickly, I'm going to go for 2,000.

The rules:

1. Stuff I would throw away anyhow doesn't count. Like junk mail, or paper products.

2. Multiple pieces in a box counts as one. Such as a box of paperclips.

I'll probably need more rules as I go along, but this is a good place to start. :)

So who wants to join me? Cleaner house, less clutter, and maybe a little profit too. Let's see how many things we can live without.

You've GOT to be Kidding Vol. 2

I thought our run-in with impetigo a week ago was bad. But it got even more interesting. Friday Hosanna came down with a full body rash. I didn't know if it was a reaction from the new soap I used on her or something else. Not wanting to take chances with my baby, I headed to Urgent Care. While I was there, the school called. Jade had a fever of 102. Teagan had to call everyone we know and bum a ride to go get her. The doctor couldn't find anything wrong with Hosanna, must have been the soap.

Saturday Jade was still spiking high fevers. I was concerned about a reaction to the antibiotic, so Teagan took her to Urgent Care. It wasn't a reaction. They had no idea what it was. But they did take her off the anti-b and give her a cream instead. No more bribery! Yay!

I thought we were in the clear.

Sunday during church, Ruby came down with a fever. It got worse through the day, and Monday she had a sore throat to go along with it. We had planned to go see my grandma in the hospital on Monday, but instead Teagan took Ruby to Urgent Care. They couldn't find anything wrong with her. But she couldn't eat or drink for the sore throat and the fever was still bad. We started to get really worried. The kid has to eat & drink. We had a long night, but this morning she woke up, ate a couple of biscuits, drank some juice, and went outside to ride her bike.

Praise the Lord!! I thought we were going to end up back at UC for an IV, but she is back to her normal self. Thanks be to God for His healing hand!

I did end up going to see Grandma. Kordell, Hosanna & I went. She is doing okay and leaving the hospital today for the nursing home.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Frugal Friday: Musgo!

I don't know if everyone makes Musgo, or if it was my mother-in-law's invention, but it's another great frugal tip to stretch that food dollar!

"Musgo" stands for Must-Go! Making musgo for dinner involves taking a bunch of leftovers and creating something new. It can come in the form of a soup or a casserole. Sometimes you can add something new to the mix to bring it all together.

Last night we had musgo. And I totally fooled my dear son into eating a food he really dislikes. In my refrigerator was some leftover corn & black bean chili. In my cupboard was some ratatouille that I canned last summer. I love fresh ratatouille, but it just doesn't taste as good out of a jar. But what do I do with the 6 jars of it that are left? It Must Go! I threw the ratatouille in the blender and pureed it smooth. I added the chili, a can of corn, and a bunch of chili powder & cumin. Simmer 20 minutes and it tastes like chili!! Kordell never knew the difference.

So, I used up leftovers, saved money, and got veggies into my family. Sounds like a winner to me!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Burnin' Down the House...

Or not. Thankfully.

We were gardening yesterday and the kiddos were outside with us. Ruby kept disappearing, as almost-3 year olds tend to do. We found her in the truck, in the bathroom, upstairs, etc. One time when I came in to find her, she was in the kitchen. I said, "Ruby, what were you doing?" And she said, "I got an owie on the butter."

Huh?? The fridge was all locked up, so I thought maybe she was playing some imaginary game or something that involved butter. Who knows? She's 3 (almost).

Fast Forward about 5 hours. After dinner, Teagan went to microwave his coffee. He found a surprise inside the microwave. Ruby had taken a Crisco stick (that I had used 1/2 of, and was still in the foil/paper wrapper and the plastic tub with the silvery plastic seal thingy still attached) and stuck it in the microwave. How long she microwaved it is unknown, but the silvery plastic seal thingy was all burnt looking and the plastic tub had started to melt. She must have tried to take it out and (mildly) burned her finger. Thus the comment about getting an owie from butter.
We are praising the Lord that she didn't get hurt worse and that she didn't burn our whole house down!!! Lesson learned. We will be more careful to supervise her in the future.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Little Big Things

Today we had one of those "God-incidences." You know, those funny circumstances that you call coincidence but are really movements of God's Almighty Hand. It was over something somewhat insignificant in the grand scheme of life. Which makes it all the cooler.

At lunch Teagan & I had been discussing whether or not we should look for a roof storage thingy for our truck. We're going on vacation in a few weeks and really need the extra storage capacity. We didn't come to any decisions on the matter because, well, those things are expensive. We headed to town to go to the greenhouse & get some shrubs for the yard. Not knowing how big of a shrub we might find, Teagan brought the trailer along. Wouldn't you know it, halfway to town we passed a roof storage thingy for sale in someone's driveway for $10! The man who owned it happened to be home, we happened to have $10, and it took just a minute to bungee it to the trailer (which we just happened to have along).

It's always amazing to me to see how God provides for what we need in creative & interesting ways. It wasn't a big huge need, but it was something to make our trip easier, to solve a problem that could have really stressed us out. God is so cool! :-)

Dr. Giggle & Ms. Whine

Why is it that babies are happy and content until you start doing something semi-important?

Hosanna is such a stinker. She will play on her own for an hour, but as soon as I start to cook a meal she starts to fuss. Especially if I'm right in the midst of something messy or something I can't stop in the middle of.

Smile. Giggle. Chew on a toy. Oh look, Mom's busy... WAHHH!!!

You've GOT to be Kidding!

Well, my week is off to an interesting start.

I got a call from the school yesterday morning. Jade had only been there an hour FPS*, what could possibly be wrong? Well, they wanted me to come pick her up. They thought she had impetigo and she needed to go to the doctor. What?!

See, she had scraped her back up pretty bad last week. Teagan put on some salve and a big huge band-aid. When we took the band-aid off Friday night, she had a rash under the entire thing. We assumed she had reacted to the salve or something. We left it open to air out and figured it would heal up on its own. No biggie. Well, unbeknowst to us, the little red rash bumps turned into white bumps, like bad pimples, and had started to spread. I hadn't really checked it before she went to school, so I didn't realize what it looked like. If I had I wouldn't have sent her.

So, I picked her up and took her to the doctor. Sure enough, impetigo. They put her on a fairly strong antibiotic, a liquid one of course. But she has sensory issues with liquid medicines. She gags every time we try to give her one. What is a mom to do?? She has to take it.

The solution: BRIBERY. Yeah, that's right. I'm bribing her. With food & soda no less. It goes against all of "their" parenting rules, but "they" don't live in my house. I wrote her a social story about why she has to take the medicine and I allow her to have a mini can of Diet Coke or a small bag of mini Pringles when she takes it. So far it's working. Thank goodness.

*FPS= For Pete's Sake :-)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Frugal Friday: Big Ham & Pea Soup

Today's Frugal Friday is an idea that came from my mom. (Thanks Mom!) I bought a big ham this month. It's a 4 lb. ham and it cost $8.49.

I took the ham and sliced a few thin slices for a ham dinner, some thick slices to freeze, and some cubes to toss in the soup. By cutting it in this way, I have ham for 7-8 meals. Two slices is enough to cube up and add to bean soup, scalloped potatoes, or other similar recipes. This one ham will last us 2-3 months.

This week, I used it to make Split Pea Soup. I used yellow split peas just to be different. This pot of soup fed us for 2 meals and cost about $2.25 to make. Pea Soup is a great way to stretch the food dollar. It solidifies as it cools and you "reconstitute" it by adding more water. So it actually grows the next day! I love pea soup.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Talents Yet Undiscovered

Tuesday night our homeschool co-op had a Talent Night & Exhibition. Kordell made a display of some of his recent drawings. I helped with the display (a little). He did a great job presenting himself. Everyone was most impressed with his abilities.

And speaking of talent, look what Hosanna can do!

Transplanting Rocks

It seems that this is the year we finally start the garden we've always talked about. Teagan borrowed the tractor from Dad and set to work. He took out the rocks & weeds that were around the front of the house and transplanted them to a sunny part of the yard. The front of the house looks nicer already!

Then, he used them to make a new garden. He had to hunt around for a few more rocks, but that job is much easier with the tractor. Just scoop 'em and go!
Here is the finished poduct. He even made a stone path so that the gardening would be easier.
I'm planning to put vegetables here. It's the only spot on the property with full sun. I'm going to put in a tomato, some peppers, eggplant, beans, kale, basil, and broccoli. It sounds like a lot, but I only want a couple of each plant. In my new flat spot by the house I'm going to plant some lettuce or spinach. I can't wait to eat fresh veggies from my own garden!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mom's Day!

I had a great Mother's Day! No, I didn't get spoiled with breakfast in bed, or a break from cooking dinner, or anything like that. But what I did get was better than that. Here's a picture of all my gifts. Daddy got me a rose, Kordell made me 2 cards, and Jade picked me flowers. In a french fry box. If that's not just perfectly Jade I don't know what is. LOL

The card on the left Kordell made in Sunday School. The gift inside was a "Mission Possible" for me to make for Kordell. "Mission Possible" is a challenge that the SS teacher gives the children each week. He puts them in a bucket and the kids pick one "randomly". That way they get the one God wants for them. Or so says Mr. Gary. Anyway, this week for Mom's Day the moms make the Mission Possibles. Kordell's for this week is to sing "This is the Day" every morning at breakfast. I'm hoping a rousing song will help improve his morning attitude (and mine too).

The card on the right he made for me while I took a nap. (Yes, a NAP! I love Mom's Day!!) Anyway, he gave it to me when I got up. Here's what it said inside:
I read that and thought Dad put him up to it. But Teagan quickly set me straight. No, Kordell picked that verse out on his own, with no prompting from anyone. How cool is that!!! He was so proud. He told me that he picked it because I keep an eye on everyone all day long. Isn't that funny? He's such a neat kid sometimes.Hosanna's gift to me was, well, cuteness. You can't beat a 5-month old chewing on her pretty dress.
Ruby didn't get the memo about it being Mom's Day. She was her usual self. Ah, the lovely toddler years...

Friday, May 09, 2008

Frugal Gardening: Divide & Conquer!

Yesterday Noni called and asked if she could bring over a few plants for my garden.Sure, I said, I could use the help. My "garden" consisted of a bed full of creeping charlie weeds and one hosta. Of course I'll let the master gardener come over!

She brought some decorative grass, coneflowers, primroses, and canterbury bells that she had pulled from her garden. We were trying to decide where to put them, and I showed her what I had intended to do 3 years ago.

See, when we moved in here there was a pitiful, ugly garden in the middle of the front yard. It's redeeming quality was 6 or so hostas. I wanted to dig them out and plant them around the front of the house. But I was pregnant that summer and it didn't get done. My husband has a venegance against ugly yards, and has spent the past 2 summers digging, grating, and filling in to make our yard look better. At the expense of the hostas. It's easier to drive over them with the tractor than move them.

Noni said that hostas are hearty and maybe they survived, so we started searching the yard for hosta bits. Sure enough, we found tons of little hostas that had survuved the abuses. We filled the kids wagon with plants!

All in all, we put in 20 new plants around the front of the house.
And there were enough hostas left for Noni to take some for her own garden. The best part, it was all free!

I forgot to water the plants yesterday evening like Noni told me to, but it rained last night! Isn't God good! He provided the plants and watered them too!

"So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow." 1 Corinthians 3:7

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Not What I Expected

I got to go on a field trip yesterday! I've always wanted to go on a school trip with one of the kids and I finally got a chance to chaperone. I went with Jade's kindergarten class to the nature center at a nearby county park. The letter home didn't really explain what we'd be doing on the field trip, but I figured the nature center would be pretty tame.

So, we got there and it turns out the purpose of the trip was to collect water bugs from the pond. We had to catch pond gunk in nets and dig through it (with our bare hands!) to find critters. This sort of thing is so NOT my cup of tea. I'm the girl who dissected a worm in biology without actually touching it. I hate creepy things! But, I signed up for this, so into the gunk I went.

Jade was not really into the gunk-digging either. However, she discovered a new love for crayfish of all things. One of the boys in our group caught a little crayfish and Jade was having a good ol' time playing with it. She had no problem touching the creepy little thing. She held it in her hand and put it in her cup and said, "Hi crayfish!" It was hilariously cute.

As we were wrapping up at the park, all the kids brought their buckets together to study. One group had caught a bucket-full of really big crayfish and Jade picked one of the big ones up. She was looking at it and it pinched her! She was so shocked that she dropped it, but it fell in her lap and pinched her leg! She actually had a cut on her leg, poor girl. She was a little traumatized, and didn't touch any creepy-crawlies after that.

Despite all the yucky bugs, it was a good trip. The highlight was sitting next to Jade on the bus and being silly. She can be such a little sweetie. :-)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Fun in the Sun

The weather has finally gotten really good here, so we headed outside today. We took a walk down the road to see the cows. Then Ruby wants to go see the the opposite end of the road. So down the road we go. The horsey just had a baby last week and Ruby thinks it's really cool. Well, so do I actually.
Then we headed home to hang out the wash. Hosanna got to play on her blanket in the grass for the very first time! She's getting so big!


We had Ruby & Hosanna dedicated at church yesterday. First the pics, then the story...

Our family wins the prize for the most entertaining baby dedication EVER! First off, we just have a rowdy bunch. My family is not quiet and not prone to standing still. Our grand plan was to leave the oldest two kiddos with the grandmas to minimize trouble. But Pastor Israel invited them all up by name, so we had to take them. Up we all trooped onto the platform.

We were doing okay until Jade noticed her shadow on the wall behind us. She started walking (or maybe dancing) back & forth, playing with her shadow. Then she noticed the funny sound her feet made when she stomped, so she began stomping/dancing/playing. Then she saw the big wooden cross in the corner and for a minute there, grandmas were just waiting for her to start climbing it! Meanwhile...

Ruby is, of course, 2 years old and fiercely independent. She didn't want to be held, nor did she want to hold Daddy's hand. Instead she started wandering around. She headed for the floral display on the front table. There were some fake grapes in it and I thought she was going to try to eat them!!

Poor Kordell was trying to round up Ruby, then trying to stop Jade, and probably fearing that Mom & Dad were going to get really upset any moment.

We kept cool, even as the congregation was snickering and trying not to laugh hysterically at us. Not that I blame them. It was pretty funny. Israel did a great job and had really nice prayers for each of the girls.

It really was a very memorable occasion. :-)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sodium Enrichment

According to my tater-testers, the potato salad needs more salt. Ah well, next time I'll get 'em. ;-)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

My Own Two Feet

So, this post has nothing to do with my feet and everything to do with potato salad. Noni's potato salad to be exact.

See, it's the start of the summer party season and we're kicking it off with the girl's dedication tomorrow. The whole family is coming, plus some, to the tune of 25-30 people. Every summer party has a bowl of Noni's potato salad. Made by Noni. It's tradition. Every party, even if she's not hosting. You call her and say, "Please oh please!" and she brings it.

Except not this party. Noni's feeling a little overwhelmed of late and said NO!! Can you believe it?? But, she gave me the recipe. Sort of.

Please understand that Noni's strong point is not recipes. She's an amazing cook and I love her to death, but she's not so much with the recipes. She wings it. Recipes from her are little more than a list of ingredients and suggestions. I am a recipe girl. I need amounts, exact times, and details! So, here I am with her "recipe".

"A dozen hard-boiled eggs, or more. Whatever you want. Plus some for garnish." I used 16. Here are my little egg peelers. I tell ya, Jade is GOOD at this! And Kordell did pretty well too.

Next on the list, potatoes. "Not sure how many. A pot-full. Well, not to the top, but close. Pretty full. 5 qt pot. I think." So, this is my interpretation. I had a sinking feeling about this...
Sure enough, it boiled over. I had to quickly pour it into the 7 qt. pot. No pictures, as it was done in sort of a frantic rush. Once that was back on track, I made the cooked dressing (which has actual measurements!!) Then I was called away by a small person in the bathroom. The potatoes got overcooked, a little.

I let everything cool and started mixing with what I could. Cut up eggs, a little onion ("chives are better, but a regular onion will do, just not too much."), spices ("dill mix, if you want, maybe a pinch of dry mustard, but you don't have to." Oy.) So far so good. "Mayo, about equal to the dressing." I measured. Turned out to be a cup. Added the potatoes, mixed it up and it looked like this:

Man, that's a lot of potato salad. Notice the phone? I think I called her to clarify things about 3 times. It helped... a little.

Into the serving bowl with a little garnish. Look at that potato-salad-y goodness! I don't have any paprika to sprinkle on top. Everyone will just have to live without.

And now the final test is the guests. If they approve, I can officially stand on my own two feet. In the potato salad category anyway.

Friday, May 02, 2008


This weekend is the Swap-O-Rama in our little town. I hit a couple of sales this morning and got some great deals! For just $20 I filled up my truck with:

4 sleeping bags - $1 each
a cozy coupe (outside toy) - $2
8 tupperware cereal bowls - .25 each!
2 Avent sippy cups - .75 each
Big bucket o' Mr. Potato Head pieces - $2
4 books - $1
3 baby toys - .60 total
Clothes for the girls for summer (10 or 11 outfits!) $8 or so

I love rummage sales!

We're going again tomorrow. A lot of the sales are Saturday only. I can't wait!