January 27, 2012

Encouragement From Moms

Encouragement: a balm of words to the soul

In a society inundated with children being pushed to be the best at everything they do, we sometimes lose focus on who they are.  I fear we are creating a generation that will not know the value of being over doing; character over accomplishments.

What a lonely soul my child will grow up to be if she feels valued only because of her accomplishments.  I need to intentionally give words of affirmation to the person my child is and her importance as a member of our family.

Here are a few ways we've tried to instill encouragement into our daily conversations.
1. Say "I love you" multiple times a day.  Those three words, when repeated (genuinely) hold such power.

2. "I'm so glad I get to be your mom" is a phrase I try to say every single day.  It speaks words of love and teaches them that motherhood is a gift.

3. When I used to pick my kids up in the carpool line, one phrase I used each afternoon in the car on the way home was, "I missed you today."  I wanted my kids to know that they still remained in my heart even when we were apart.

4. One of the phrases I've been working on is, "you sure make my life fun."  Yes, we have tough days, but for the most part, I wouldn't trade this time of my life for anything.  They need to know that they bring me joy.

5. This last one is tricky because it requires balance.  "You make me proud."  We all need to hear that, even as adults.  I just have to make sure they know I'm proud... without the expectation of perfection.

My own mom did such a great job being my cheerleader while I was growing up.  The Lord knew I needed her encouragement; after all, my #1 love language is words of affirmation.  :)

Keep up the good work, fellow moms!  Your words will last a lifetime!

January 25, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Ganache Bars

You know how it is.  You've been doing great on your healthy eating plan, and then you blow it by eating a processed, packaged treat you found in your kids' lunchbox stash.  Well, I'm telling you, this recipe is worth blowing the diet over.  Go big or go home.  :)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Ganache Bars

1 (18.25) package plain yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 eggs

1 (12 oz) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine cake mix, melted butter, peanut butter, and eggs in a large bowl using a mixer or spoon. 
Press this into a 9X13 pan reserving 1 1/2 cups of the mixture to crumble on top.
In a small pot, combine chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and butter; stirring until melted. Remove from heat and spread chocolate mixture over the mixture pressed in the pan. Crumble the 1 1/2 cups of reserved cake mixture on top evenly. 
Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into bars. 

January 24, 2012

Every Day Is A Gift

I stand at a crossroads each morning.
We all do.
I choose to make the most of the day
or let the day get the most of me.

Many days I just let the current of life take me.
The problem in doing so often leaves me floundering, drowning.

I was recently challenged by three questions.
So simple, yet profound.

1. What do I need to SEE today?
I often walk blindly through my day.
Do you?

2. Is there a hurt I need to identify?
Who needs the love of Christ today?

3. If I could change one thing to make my sphere of influence (today) a better place, what would it be?
My answer to that question changes each day.  Sometimes I need to offer forgiveness.  Sometimes I need to offer physical help.  
Sometimes I need to be still.
These three questions were offered as a way 
to seek God's direction for my day.  
What if I asked them from a spiritual standpoint?
What if I asked  as a wife?
What if I asked as a mother?
What if I asked as a friend?

I don't think the tide would carry me if I would intentionally begin my day seeking His direction.

January 23, 2012

Monday Musings

1. This was our family Christmas photo.  We cut our Christmas card list in half in 2010.  This year we cut it in half again.  With the cost of postage rising, something had to give.  Forgive me if you didn't get a card this year.  Consider this your card (with much love)  I meant to post it earlier with a "Merry Christmas" message but it never got done.  Since we're way past New Years, how about this:  
Happy Winter from the NEM family!!!

2. Friday night I had the house to myself for the entire night.  I don't think that has happened in over 12 years.  My boys went on a duck hunt at the coast; my oldest (why don't I like the word eldest?  It bothers me...)  went on a ski trip and my other sweet girl had a sleepover with a friend.
Oh the glorious silence!  I met friends for dinner and then came home to watch a movie.  Alone.  With the volume turned up.

My movie of choice was The Help.  Have you seen it?  Read the book first.  Loved it.  Sometimes I am disappointed with movies if I've read the book.  Not this one.  Such a good chic flick!

3. I really enjoyed having a whole day with just one daughter.  We gave each other the spa treatment, played with the puppies and had my favorite kind of dinner:
When I said "whatever you can find" I meant a bowl of cereal or something of that nature.  I heard my 10 year old banging around in the kitchen and later asked, "so what did you have?"
Her reply, "cantaloupe, pickles, and chips."
Don't be jealous.  You know I just won mother-of-the-year award.

4. Upon returning from a weekend with 50 middle schoolers, my daughter asked, "when do boys stop being weird and acting gross?"
My immediate answer was, "when you're 30."  My friend with 3 grown boys said I should have answered, "never."

5. I firmly believe in Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder.  My afternoon has proven it golden.  I love listening to my children play together.  The office has been transformed into a dentist office; the dining room is a doctor's office and my daughter's room is library.
Please call to make an appointment.
I'm enjoying a cup of joy joe by the fire.

Happy Monday!

January 18, 2012

Red Letter Words

Back in the late fall, Red Letter Words had an amazing giveaway.  Much to my delighted surprise, I was a winner!!!
It was such a great giveaway, because she let me choose the 12x12 mounted print.  Let me tell you, it was a hard decision because there are so many beautiful choices.
Here's what I chose:
I decided that this was just what our family needed.  
We all need those fruits, don't we?
It's the perfect accessory for my winter mantle (click here to see it on my fall mantle).

If you haven't visited her website (they are a precious family!) go check it out.  You won't be disappointed.  She has added even more to her line of products since the giveaway.

Not only did I get to choose a print, but I also got to choose a candle as part of the giveaway.  Talk about generous!
Rosemary Mint

Her prints are very high quality and mounted beautifully.  All of her work is so refreshing and encouraging.  Don't you love finding a business like that?  
Click here to see Red Letter Words.

*Red Letter Words did not ask me to write this post.  It is of my own free will (no one held me by my toenails or beat me with a noodle).  I just appreciate good workmanship and a generous giveaway!

January 17, 2012

Little Tiny Soap Box

It's been two and a half years since we embarked on this journey called homeschooling.  While I have found that most people have been supportive, we still have some family members that just don't get this whole "homeschooling  business."
We've been told to send our kids to "real" school.  We will, most likely, one day.  But for now, we strongly believe this is what is right for our family.

We've heard lots of reasons to not homeschool, but the one that slays me is, "you're wasting your tax dollars by not utilizing what you've helped pay for: public school."
Just because we don't use the Sheriff's department or the fire department every week doesn't mean we are wasting our tax dollars, does it?  It leaves me wondering if they utilize the public library, public museums, or public parks on a regular basis. Hmm...

I'm not angry.  I just get a wee bit frustrated when others judge our decision. (Click here to see a post about why we chose to homeschool; and click here to read about moms judging each other.)

This morning a dear friend posted this video on Facebook and it made me laugh.
Whether you're a homeschool family or not, I think you'll find it amusing.

And yes, I am still in my pajamas!  :)

January 16, 2012

4 Ingredient Crockpot Chicken Sandwiches

It was one of those days that I had nothing to make for dinner and winced as I opened the pantry.  Grabbing a bag of frozen chicken breasts and the crock pot, I thought it was worth a try.  It turned out to be a family favorite!

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
1 bottle Heinz Chili Sauce
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs brown sugar
4-6 chicken breasts (thawed)

Mix 1st three ingredients.  Fill empty Heinz jar with water and add to mix.
Add chicken and cook on low 6 hours or high 3 hours... or until chicken is done.
Shred chicken with two forks and serve on kaiser rolls.

January 13, 2012

Carpet Miracle

Do you remember my not-so-wonderful moment last month when my dog decided to eat charred squirrel and then give it back to us ON THE CARPET?
I tried everything.  Seriously, every. stinkin. thing to try to get it out.
NOTHING worked.
And then along came Pinterest.

I was a little scared to try it.  But hey, at this point I had nothing to loose.  Either it would:
a.) work and we would rejoice
b.) do nothing and I would have to figure something else out
c.) bleach my carpet and we would have to replace it

I gave it a try and it worked!!!
Nothing short of a carpet miracle.  Wanna know the trick?  I'll share, but don't be scared.

2 parts Hydrogen Peroxide
1 part Dawn dish soap

Pour it on and scrub with a clean towel.  All of the stain (and my angst) disappeared.

Check out this fun (quick) video for a good laugh.  He's totally describing what I do.  Do you?

And because I can't resist:
Happy Friday!

January 12, 2012

Pomegranates to Polish

I'm everywhere today, so hang on. :)

1. I have a new lunch obsession.  Greek yogurt with pomegranate seeds.  So refreshing!
Have you ever cut a pomegranate?  It's really pretty simple.  Time consuming, but simple. I usually just pull the seeds that I want for that day and put the rest of the pomegranate in a ziplock bag for later.

2. My oldest daughter and I stopped by the mall last night.  Hoping to find a pre-teen birthday present, we stopped by Bath and Body Works.  The shelves were almost bare, save these:
I loved all of these scents.  You know you're a blogger when you stage your favorite candles  for a picture in the middle of the store.  My 12 year old kept saying, "you can do that??"  No one stopped me, so I guess I can. :)  I usually like about 3 seasonal scents.  This year I have to choose from 6 favorites.
I think my favorite was the White Palm.   I wonder when they will go on sale.  I can't justify paying full price.

3. The other night there was nothing on, but I was in the mood to channel surf watch tv.  When I say nothing, I mean I was debating between Extreme Hoarding and Extreme Cheapskates.  Oh the dichotomy of Tuesday night American television.  By the way, Extreme Cheapskates won.  I was disgusted intrigued by the man who only wanted to spend $7.40 for dinner so he purchased 2 goat heads.  For dinner.  To eat.  Eyeballs and all.

4. With 3 females in the house, I am quickly regretting not buying stock in Revlon, Kotex, and Sally Henson.  A quick trip to CVS turned into an hour and I needed to take out a loan before we left.  Since we didn't have any boys with us, we had fun checking out all the new fingernail polish shades.  Does this make anyone else laugh?  It still makes me giggle.

Who gets to choose the names?  Has Wet n' Wild used all the other names that this is all they could come up with?  We chose Loxy Lady (hot pink/coral), Wet Cement (grey), and I Have No Reception (silver glitter).  I rarely paint my nails but with my two girly girls, it's suddenly fun again.

How about you?  Are you a nail painter?  Fingers and toes?  

January 10, 2012

Melt My Heart

And call me crazy
I got a phone call yesterday afternoon and within 1.5 hours, we found ourselves in the land of puppies.
And totally smitten.

A local shelter needed a foster home for 3 sweet puppies.  
3 pups for 3 kids.  perfect.
and a little crazy.
I hesitated for about a minute, but I'm really trying to be a "yes" mom.  Yes to the good stuff because eventually I have to say no to the big stuff.  Besides, this is what memories are made of, right?

After a bath and a long playtime with all the neighbors who came to see the new kids on the block they took a long evening nap by the fire.  To give you an idea of their size, that's a regular bath towel they are sleeping on.  I know the picture is yellow, but it was too cute not to share.

We'll have them for about 4 weeks.  And before my local peeps start asking, they'll be up for adoption in about 5 weeks, so hold your horses. ;)

They are the cutest little guys.  We get the privilege of naming them.  Hey, it comes with the privilege of potty training them.  We chose Mickey (because his nose looks like Mickey Mouse ears), Captain Jack, and Buster.

Yes, they've totally stolen our hearts with their pink/black polka dot noses and sweet puppy breath.

January 5, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Christmas Season

Christmas is one of those heavy sided holidays.  Heavy on the before, not so much on the after. Know what I mean?  For 3 weeks we prepare and celebrate.  Along comes December 26th and someone turns out the lights!
We usually keep our tree up until January 1st and by then I'm ready to have our house back in order.  This year, I wasn't ready even on January 2nd.  Maybe getting older is making me clingy.
Even though every other blogger has long since posted her Christmas pictures, I'm just now getting around to it.  Since I'm late, I thought I'd throw in New Years Eve too.

We started a new tradition: looking at Christmas lights in our pajamas.  With a side trip to Lowes to embarrass the tweens.

 Traditional Ladies-of-the-family Christmas Eve Tea

Christmas Eve with my husband's side of the family

Christmas morning brunch at our house.  My daughter set the table and did a beautiful job.  The only time of the year I use my fine china.

Christmas morning "thank you" hugs.  Melt. my. heart.

 Each of the kids received a jumbo Nutella from my mom.  It said, "not for mom."  She knows me too well.  ;)

I love this picture of my parents, soaking up the joy of watching their family and still holding hands after all these years.

My mom found my brother's childhood baseball card collection and wrapped it up for him.  What a fun gift!  And now he could probably pay his house off by selling them on ebay.

A typical response when I open a great gift.  This one was FAB.U.LOUS.  My first (ever) Coach purse.  Love. it.

My handsome man with his one-of-a-kind Steelers hat signed by Troy Polamalu (think Head and Shoulders commercial)  We could probably pay off our house if we sold it.  Which we won't.

My mom's beautiful mantle ... to go with a beautiful day.

We kept New Year's Eve to a minimum this year.  We typically have a huge party, but this year we needed to keep it intimate.  Somehow the food supply didn't get the memo.  
 Thanks to my friend Kim, we had party hats, plastic bubbly cups, and a chocolate fountain.
I host and she brings the fun stuff.  I like this plan!
Happy New Year
Hello 2012 

January 4, 2012

New Year, New Dreams

You can't go an inch on the internets without bumping into new year resolutions.  Lists are everywhere.  Maybe it's just me but I feel overwhelmed, and inadequate.

Last year, about this time, I wrote a post about Releasing the Resolution Grip. I chose one word to focus on rather than a list.  Even choosing one word set me up for failure, because in the reality of daily life, I often failed at "purposeful."  Yes, it was a great word and a good way to help me focus, but this year I decided to give myself a break.  Rather than a list of things I hope to accomplish or not do, I have chosen to make a list of dreams.

Dreams are not threatening.
Dreams are hopeful, without pressure.
Dreams put a smile on my face.
Dreams fill me with anticipation of the imaginable.

If you are avoiding the lists this year, I encourage you to give yourself a break.  Doesn't a list of dreams sound like a better way to start the year?

Read books that inspire
Travel to a new place
Learn to quilt
Kayak a new river
Feel comfortable in my weight
Go to Seattle
Start a new ministry that is outside the box
Write a children's book

Now, remember, no pressure ... they're dreams :)

January 3, 2012

Mind Your Manners

Do you get tired of correcting bad manners at the dinner table?
I hate having to be the Warden of the Table.  Inevitably I end up feeling worn out or defeated from having to say, "don't talk with food in your mouth;" "arms off the table;" "chew with your mouth closed."

We started something new that I found on Pinterest and it has given me a newfound freedom at dinner.

This little pig joins our table each night.  If I see someone using bad manners, I don't have to say a thing.  I simply place the pig in front of that person.  Whoever ends up with the pig at the end of dinner has to clean up the whole table.

Needless to say, it has greatly improved our dinner table etiquette.  Nobody (including Mom and Dad) wants to end up with the pig. :)

*We did have to set some ground rules, the most important being that only Mom gets to decide who gets the pig, unless she is caught by the others.  Needless to say, when we first started, the kids were all too eager to find fault in each other.

We found our pig in the dollar section at Target.  See the yellow button on his belly?  It makes a grunting sound.  Hilariously perfect.

Linking up with A2Z's Tips  and At The Picket Fence today!

January 2, 2012

Gettin' Healthy Isn't So Bad

I found this free sample in my GNC bag last month.

Healthy Indulgence Daily Wellness
"Balanced Multi-vitamins and Minerals enveloped in delicious dark chocolate"  
Yep.  That is the best way to get healthy that I can think of!

What are your healthy plans this year?

January 1, 2012

Sparkle Winter Wreath

When the Christmas wreath comes down, I'm always sad to have a naked front door.  This year I decided to make a winter wreath that matches my love for the season.
I've seen the tutorials and the supplies online, but I decided to try a less expensive version.

 Mesh roll $12.99 World Market
Wire wreath base $2.99 Michaels
Floral wire .99 Michaels
 The wreath frame had 9 sections so I cut two 8" pieces of floral wire per section (18 pieces total). Working around the wreath (as shown in the video tutorial link above), I twisted the wire around the mesh, bunching about 12 inches of mesh as I went.
To make it fuller, I went around the frame twice, once attaching the mesh to the outermost ring, and then attaching it to the innermost ring on the the metal frame.
 To give it a little winter wonder, I added some blue glitter snowflakes leftover from another craft.  I checked out the competition, and similar wreaths are selling for $69 online.
I'll take the $17 version, thankyouverymuch!  :)

I realized after I took this picture what a mild winter we've had so far since my fern is still alive on the front porch.  Maybe my wreath will entice Jack Frost to make an appearance.

Happy winter !!!
I'm linking up with Home Stories A2Z's Tutorials and Tips Party and At the Picket Fence and Fingerprints on the Fridge and Overflowing and Common Ground and Finding Fabulous