Saturday, March 13, 2010

I've Moved

I've moved, just in case you're wondering....:)  Come on over and see my new look at  Can't wait to see you there!

Monday, March 8, 2010

MMM- Clearing the Clutter in Your Life

Last week I wrote about some of my frustrations....don't get me wrong.  I wouldn't trade my job as a stay at home mommy for all the money in the world.  I LOVE being home with my boys....but like any job, there are going to be times when frustrations rise up, and I have to reevaluate the things we are doing to see if I can key it down just a bit.  With Jacob being sick this week, we've been home more (I love days when I can just be home and not go anywhere), and I've had a bit of time to think and reevaluate and reset some things.  

It's so easy to run the rat race every single day, just scraping through the maze of events, not really "getting it" because of all the clutter taking up our lives.
This week has afforded me some real bonding time with my boys, without the added stressors of having to be somewhere, having to get this, this, and this done for school, and honestly, I don't want it to change.  Jacob and I have played many a rousing game of Battleship and Uno, and he's getting to be quite the champion.  Jaden has had many a game of monster chase the baby games, giggling and laughing the whole way.  So, you ask, how am I going to keep the peace and the tranquility that this week, albeit a hard week for Jacob, has afforded us?  I've really taken a hard look at our schedule, and I took the advice of a friend.  I asked God how He wanted me to work out our homeschool schedule.  How does He want it to be?  Then I moved and shifted some things around...for example, by Friday, we are just dead to school, so I decided to make it a fun day with just an hour of core school and the rest fun stuff like art and music and board games for thinking skills.  Jacob loves board games, so he was thrilled with this idea.

Not only with my kids' schedules, but with my own, I'm keeping my work hours to early, early mornings and naptime....possibly a little bit in the evenings, after they're in bed; it depends on what Dan is doing.  I'm also decluttering my blog.  It doesn't look like it now, I know, but I'm rebuilding my blog on Wordpress right now, making it, hopefully, a place of serenity.  It'll still have all the same subject matter, but I do want to have more homemaking articles and things, and it's going to have a very shabby chic appearance.  

This decluttering in my life has been a necessary's like when you clean out a closet, and you have a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment afterwards.  Once that closet is cleaned out, you can keep it clutter free because there's a place for everything.  That's like life....once you clear the clutter, you have a place for the important things in your life, for the things that God deems important.  What is stopping you today?  What kind of clutter is hindering you from having the joyous walk that is available to you as a wife and mommy?  Is it spiritual clutter?  Is it physical clutter?  Is it clutter that you've been unwilling to clean out up until now? What are you missing out on because of the clutter that is blocking your path?  Get rid of it!  Rework things, and clean out!  A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away- Ecclesiastes 3:6. 

For more Motivate Me Monday, visit Sarah at The Fifth Street Palace

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Funnies- iCarly

I don't know how I've missed iCarly before now....Jacob just started watching this show this week, with being sick and all.  It is hilarious.  It's pretty sad that Dan and I love our kids' shows more than any of the adult shows.  LOL  iCarly is definitely worth watching, though!  Anyway, I wanted to find the video of Freddie's mom going ballistic during the fencing competition, but I couldn't find it, so this will have to do.  It's still hilarious, especially if you have seen the whole episode.:)  Laugh it up!

For more Friday Funnies, visit Kim at Homesteaders Heart.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

In our house, we love anything sweet that involves peanut butter, and we especially love peanut butter and chocolate put together.  Who doesn't?  I found a recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies in Grandma's recipe box, so I made them on Tuesday....they have been devoured.  I made the first couple batches just plain, but then I couldn't resist adding chocolate chips to the last couple batches.  This was a nice, moist, chewy cookie, and they were still fresh the next day.  Enjoy!
Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup butter (My grandma has a note to cut off 2 tbsp, but I added both sticks whole.)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup peanut butter (I used Peter Pan Honey Peanut Butter.)
1 tsp vanilla 
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour
Chocolate Chips (optional)

Cream butter and sugar.  Add beaten eggs, peanut butter, and vanilla.  Sift flour and soda together, and add to mixture.  Mix well.  Roll into balls, and press with fork (My dough was too sticky to press with a fork; you might try chilling the dough, if you're not in a hurry).  Bake in pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Makes 4 1/2 dozen. 

Just a Little Teaser

Sometimes it's fun to just browse the internet for things; it's kinda like window shopping.  Whether you're dreaming of creating the coolest kids' room with cool kids beds, colorful accents, or great organizing space for toys....
or whether you're dreaming of having the beautiful shabby chic kitchen of your dreams....
it's just fun to browse, isn't it?  CSN Stores is one of those places that lets you browse and dream because they have just about anything you'd want or need in their 200+ stores.
I'm really impressed by their Cookware store.  In fact, this post is just a teaser to whet your appetite, so to say, because next week, because of the gracious generosity of CSN Stores, I'm going to start a new giveaway that is very exciting, especially for those of you who love to cook.  Even if you don't like to cook, this giveaway could be pretty awesome, as it's a prize that is going to allow you to throw your meal together and then leave it for however many hours you need to cook it.  I'll be giving away a Hamilton Beach Stay or Go 6 Quart Slow Cooker in Stainless Steel.
The reviews I've read of this slow cooker have been shining reviews.  Here are some of the features:
  • Clip-tight lid prevents spills
  • Large full-grip handles
  • Dishwasher safe stoneware and lid
  • Convenient lid rest
  • Party recipes included with matching name tags
  • Available in White or Stainless Steel 
So, stay tuned, as this giveaway will start up next week; I am so excited about this.  I would love to win this prize, although I do love my slow cooker that Dan bought me for Christmas a  few years ago.  You can't go wrong with a good slow cooker, especially if you lead a busy life.  Have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

SYLW: Emily's Smile Boxes

It's amazing the difference that children can make in this world, and I have one special big sister to tell you about today.  Her name is Emily, and back in 2008, her parents got the devastating news that their yet-to-be-born baby boy, Jude, had a brain bleed, or a bilateral stroke.  They were told to terminate the pregnancy, that his condition could have profound effects on his life....or he could be a very healthy baby boy with no effects at all.  The first three months of his life were healthy, happy months, until one night he had a seizure, and the effects of the stroke became very real.  As his mother writes on her blog, Jude now has "clefts" on both sides of his brain, but it's worse on one side. Jude also has vision loss, Cerebral Palsy, and epilepsy.  You can actually read more of his story on Jude, The Diary of a Baby and a Stroke.  They have been able to control the seizures with medication, but they have spent so many days and nights in the hospital.  That is how Emily's Smile Boxes came about.  

Emily's Smile Boxes was actually started by Jude's big sister, Emily, after seeing many other children in the hospital.  She wanted to spread smiles and cheer to other patients who might otherwise have a hard time finding a reason to smile.  She puts together boxes filled with games, toys, crayons, inspirations, and smiley faces, and then they distribute them to local children's hospitals.  She also ships boxes if the need arises.  She has dropped off over 500 boxes. 

So, how can you help?  Emily frequently asks for young volunteers to put boxes together, in box making parties,  and to drop them off at local hospitals.  Even if you don't live in Texas, if you're out of state, they can ship you the supplies to put your own boxes together.  This is an amazing opportunity to make a difference in so many young patients' lives.  Children shouldn't have to go through the major illnesses that many of them go through, and if you can put a smile on just one child's face and make his/her day just a little brighter, the opportunity is so worth it.  Of course, you can also donate to Emily's Smile Boxes either financially, through Paypal via, or by donating small items like crayons, notepads, markers, and card games.  You can also sign Emily's Guestbook, leaving a note of encouragement to this very special girl. 

I think the most wonderful thing about Emily's story is that she has shown true compassion and love through her work, distributing Smile Boxes.  She and her parents are examples of courage and beacons of light to me, in that when they thought all hope was gone, they still did not give up, and they've seen Baby Jude as a precious blessing, through all of the trials.  Life is truly a blessing, and Jude and Emily's story is truly an inspiration to many.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Country Bob's Giveaways

Dan and I are always trying new things and adding new things to our cooking to make it even better.  When I had the opportunity to review Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce, I knew Dan was going to love it.  We had the opportunity to try it this last weekend, and I have to say, it was really good.
Country Bob's started as Country Bob Edson created a sauce that was perfect for grilling; he started out giving his sauce to friends and family and finally began to sell it in 1977, eventually becoming a full corporation in 1982.  He, along with three others, Terry Edson, Al Malekovic, and Reed Malekovic went into business together and have since become very successful.  You may have seen the sauce in stores around your area, but you may not know the legacy behind Country Bob's.  Here's what they have to say on Country Bob's website: It would be nice if we could claim responsibility for the success of the company, however, credit must be given where credit is due. Proverbs 16:3 says, "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." We have placed true ownership of Country Bob, Inc. in the hands of God. "Christ is our CEO" and He is an Awesome Boss!  It's so awesome to know that these guys call Christ their CEO; I don't see a lot of companies with these kinds of values nowadays, so it's very refreshing.
We received two bottles of Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce, and we first tried it out in a chicken salad that I'd made up quick.  It gave a very zesty flavor to the chicken salad and really was delicious.  Next we tried the recipe for Country Bob's World's Greatest Hamburger
This hamburger has both onion soup mix and Country Bob's Sauce, and it was delicious!  Dan actually grilled the burgers, so they had not only the zesty, tangy, almost smoky flavor of the sauce, but they also had the charcoal effect.  Everything combined to truly make prize-winning burgers, at least to my tastebuds.  The sauce itself, in my opinion, is almost like a cross between a really great barbecue sauce and a steak sauce.  With the consistency of a steak sauce, it's great for adding extra flavor to your favorite dishes; however, it'd also be great for dipping your steak.  You can find even more great recipes on Country Bob's website.   If you come up with a new one, you can add it, as well. Country Bob's doesn't just sell all-purpose sauce, though; they also have Spicy All Purpose Sauce,  Barbecue Sauce, and Seasoning Salt. Country Bob's also has a new cookbook available, which is filled with recipes that use this sauce, as well as Inspiring scriptures for living an abundant life.  You can find Country Bob's on Facebook.  You can also sign up to get a bottle for free, and you'll receive a coupon good for one free bottle of Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce at a grocery store near you.

Now it's your turn to enter a giveaway; in fact, for this giveaway, 2 winners will be chosen to win 2 bottles each of Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce.  If you'd like the chance to win this giveaway, you can enter in one or more of the following ways. Just be sure to leave a separate comment for each way that you enter. I'll draw the 2 winners Tuesday, March 16, using  Here's how you can enter:

1. Visit Country Bob's Recipes, and let me know which one you would like to try.
2. Visit Country Bob's blog, and leave them a comment.
3. Follow my blog, or you can subscribe to my posts.
4. Follow me on Twitter; you can tweet daily about this post and gain extra entries.
5. Blog about this giveaway, being sure to link back to Real Heart Prints.
6. Vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs or Mom Blog Network (just click the buttons in sidebar).
7. Digg or Stumble this post.
8. Place my blog button somewhere on your blog.

Good luck, and have a wonderful day!

(Disclosure: I was provided 2 bottles of Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce, free of charge, by Country Bob's for the purposes of this review.)

Time Out Tuesdays: Link Up Your Giveaways

It's Tuesday!  Yesterday was the best Monday we've had in such a long time.  Even though Jacob is sick, we had some definite mommy-son bonding time, as we played a very intense game of Battleship.:)LOL  He won, of course.  I'm looking forward to today and just hoping to get him better.  For now, it's time to take a break and visit some great posts around the blogosphere.  Enjoy, and be sure to link up your giveaways below!

When I first saw this post, I could not believe that this pantry was real.  You have to check out A Fresh Start! from Aunt Ruthie's Sugar Pie Farmhouse.  Her pantry is real, and it's gorgeous! She's a shining example of making your home a place of bliss, which I'm truly seeking to do myself.  You will be inspired.

17 and Baking has a delicious looking recipe for Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.

Morgan at Adventures in Diapering needs your help in her post, Help Us Brainstorm Baby Name Ideas!

A Brooklyn Limestone in Progress has a wonderful Guest Post: Bethany's Jars, which teaches you how to use regular household jars in your decorating.  Very neat ideas.

Bakerella has a delectable looking recipe for Red Velvet Cake....the pictures seriously have me drooling, even at 5:30 in the morning.

Balancing Beauty and Bedlam makes oatmeal look wonderful with her recipe for Easy Oatmeal with Diced Apples.

Bella Dia shows you how to make cereal boxes into cute little houses in her Cereal  Box House Tutorial.

BLULOW (All About Living Green) has a helpful post for this winter season, Help for Notoriously Rough, Dry Hands.

Now it's your turn to link up your giveaways!  Have a wonderful day!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Daybook for Monday, March 1, 2010

FOR TODAY... from Mel's Daybook
Outside my's chilly and dark.
I am thinking...that my boys may have to go to the doctor today.  Jaden's cold/cough is coming back, and Jacob has it really bad.  He can't even lay down in bed; he has to sit all propped up on the couch to sleep, poor guy.
I am thankful for... my boys.
I am wearing...jammies and robe, of course, and trying to stay warm.:)
I am remembering...the wonderful sunshine we had yesterday, and even though my boys are sick, I made them get out in it.:)  I'm hoping the fresh air will have done them some good.
I am going... probably not to Tae Kwon Do tonight; have to let Jacob get over this.  But I do have to brave Walmart and maybe go to the library, later on when Daddy's home to watch the munchkins.
I am currently reading...Becoming Your Spouse's Better Half: Why Differences Make a Marriage Great, for a Titletrakk review.  It's very good so far.
I am hoping... to work on my blog this week.  I'm totally remodeling and moving to Wordpress.  We figured out how to move Google Friend Connect, and I believe we figured out how to keep my Google PR up when I move....I hope, anyway.:)
On my mind... friends who need prayer at the moment.
Noticing is the first day of March; how can that be?  It was just Christmas....
Pondering these words... I'm pondering over Pastor's message yesterday, how if every person in that church took his assignment to heart, how many seeds might be planted this week.
From the kitchen... tonight is soup and grilled cheese.  I'm thinking some chicken noodle soup or maybe even homemade chicken soup for these sick boys.
Around the house... have to clean today and catch up on laundry. Fun times.:)
One of my favorite things~ playing around with images in Photoshop, creating new things.
From my picture journal...(This is going to be my new header; I may tweak it some, but I think I really love it so far.  This was my relaxing time yesterday.  LOL  What are your thoughts?  Would love feedback.)
For more Daybook, visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Motivate Me Monday- Ok, Miss Negativity, Be Gone

In Anne of Green Gables, Miss Stacie always had this quote she would say to Anne: Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it. (I have to add one word...."Yet.") It's fresh with no mistakes in it....yet. At least, that's my motto.

Lately, I've had my days where I feel like the most horrible mama in the world. With both homeschooling and working from home, I feel like some days are a blur, they go so fast. I mean, my kids haven't gotten outside for a few days (granted, one's been sick, and it's been cold, cold, cold); my toddler has been watching way more tv than the "experts" think he should watch; and frankly, I've had my moments where the last thing I want to do is sit down and play a round of the infamous Candy Land or the even more infamous Mouse Trap. (Have you ever tried to put Mouse Trap together? Mouse Trap is so not my friend; in fact, when the name is even said, I cringe inside. LOL) I've even had moments, seconds, where I've done the unthinkable....(gasp)....I've yelled, raised my voice, at them....(Hey, I'm just keepin' it real here; I am soooo not perfect).

Does the fact that I have let my toddler watch Sesame Street and Max and Ruby during quite a bit of our homeschool hours lately make me a bad mom? Does the fact that my kids haven't gotten any sunshine for the past week make me a failure? Does the fact that my kids might not have 3-4 organic fruits and veggies on their plate at every meal make me despicable? Does the fact that I occasionally shut myself in the bathroom just to have a second of peace or sneak a bite of chocolate make me a terrible mother? (I just have to say here that the bathroom is not my sanctuary's becoming "the place to be," the proverbial gathering place, the feeding trough for my little natives....need I say more?) Does the fact that I totally lost it trying to teach myself and Jacob origami last week make me horrible?

I've been mulling this over the last few days; I really have. You can ask my dear, sweet husband, as he is my ever faithful, listening ear. I may not feel like a good mom some days, but at the end of the day, when I kiss those 2 precious boys and tuck them into bed and hear the words, "Mommy, I love you," I know I've gotta be doing something right. When my oldest asks me if he can help carry the groceries in, maybe my efforts with him on manners/courtesy lately are finally paying off. When my toddler actually listens to me in the store and looks me in the eye and stops his erratic behavior (granted, it took 3 times, but he finally listened), maybe the efforts to stay consistent are working. Maybe I'm being too unrealistic and harsh with myself.

Maybe this has happened with you. Do you go through each day, feeling as if you can't get anything right? No matter how hard you try, you just feel like you are failing? Maybe it's time to stop judging yourself so harshly, especially when it comes to comparing yourself with other mamas. So what if you need to turn Sesame Street on for a little bit? (I have that puppy set to record on my DVR.) So what if your child doesn't get his organic peas and carrots at every meal? If your kids are loved by you, and they know it....if your kids are learning and growing more and more each day....if you are doing your best, then you are doing a good job, Mama. Don't overthink this motherhood task. Relax, and enjoy the ride (and we all know it's going to be a long, rollercoaster ride). See yourself through your Heavenly Father's eyes, Who loves you more than you'll ever know. Even when we fall, He is right there to pick us up and dust us off, and kick our rears in motion again. I promise you that when you start seeing yourself in His light....being a faithful, Godly, and consistent mama is only going to get better and better because the judgment is gone. You can finally focus on what's important, your children, not yourself.

So, remember, Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it....yet. Give yourself that margin of error; it's ok.:)

For more Motivate Me Monday, visit Sarah at The Fifth Street Palace.

TOS Crew: Family Mint

The financial world has been up in arms for some time now; with a recession going on, it's even more important to know where you stand financially and how to cut back on things to save money.  Early on in our marriage, Dan and I got into a bit of financial trouble, and it has haunted us ever since.  We are truly beginning to climb out of our hole of debt, but it has been a long road, and it's still not over yet.  We had to learn the hard way, though.  Through everything we've been through, I definitely don't want that for my kids.  I want them to know where they stand when it comes to money, credit cards, etc.  I want them to be well educated in financial matters, so that they can make good, sound decisions.
That's where Family Mint Comes in.  Family Mint is all about helping your kids to "appreciate money."  It's a system that can be used to teach your children how to handle their money.  Not only do they get to create their own goals, but they get to track their goals, as well, teaching them how to budget wisely.  Every time Jacob gets an allowance or birthday money, or what have you, he can make a deposit, although, his allowance will be automatically deposited, just to save the parent hassle; keep in mind that the money tracked on Family Mint is virtual money, so it can't be stolen or anything.  It's just a way for him to keep track of how much he has earned and how much he's spent.  He can deposit money, withdraw money, and transfer money.  As the parent, I'm the banker, so I'm responsible to help him handle his money and pay him when he requires it.
I can also set up interest rates, in order to let him see how a real savings account, with interest, might work.  If he has set up a particular goal that is worthy, I can match his goal.  If his goal is not meeting his expectations, he can easily go in and edit it.  So say that Jacob wants to save up for his favorite Lego set.  He can set that as a goal and then work towards it.  If he decides to change his mind and decides he needs the next Star Wars action figure instead, he can change his goal to accommodate.  If he decides he wants both items, he can change his goals and add or subtract goals.
It's all about appreciation of money and what's most important to him.  As he gets older, he may realize he wants to set a goal of saving for college or for that vacation he wants to take when he graduates.

With Family Mint, there is a parent's side and a child's side.
So, I can easily log in and see the progress he's making, but he can log in and also see how he's doing on the child side of it.  He'll easily be able to see all of his goals and edit them from his homepage.  So far, I'm pretty impressed with Family Mint.  I really think this will be a great help to Jacob and even Jaden as he gets older.  With Jacob, he's very money conscious anyway; the trick has been teaching him that his money is only there as long as he saves it....he has to make the decision whether or not the particular item he is purchasing is worth it; does he want to spend a great deal of his money on that one item, or is it something that can wait?  Does he need that item?  Is the purchase truly that important to him?  We always tell him that he has to make the decision, but he really needs to think about the consequences.  Is he going to regret not having any money left or having very little left?  He has started to become very conscious with his money, and I can only see this program as a huge help.  Now he'll be able to truly track his money and how he's wanting to spend it.

You can read more about Family Mint on their blog, and you can follow them on both Twitter and Facebook.  For now, Family Mint is free, but later on this year, they will have a Pro version available.  You can read more reviews on the TOS Homeschool Crew blog.

(Disclosure: I was provided this free version of the program by Family Mint, in association with the TOS Homeschool Crew.) 

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