Being a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done, but it has brought me so much joy! I want to encourage other moms on their journey, I'll share motherhood tricks, spotlight tips I've learned from friends, and I hope you will share your ideas. I will focus on secrets that help families stay balanced, healthy, frugal, creative, and closely knit. I will also share favorite fiction and nonfiction books that I have enjoyed. Many blessings to you on your mothering journey!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Cold Weather Family Outings in Nashville

Prompted by 3 mommy friends who have just moved to Nashville, I thought I would share some my family's favotite cold weather outings. I hope you'll add some of your favorites!

Christ Church indoor playground on Old Hickory Blvd
Chuck E. Cheese
Fundom Kids!

Marionette shows at downtown library
Model Train display- 100 Oaks Mall
Nashville Zoo (reptile house is indoors)
Opryland Hotel
Play area at Bellevue or hickory hollow Mall
Pottery Barn Kids play areas
Storytimes at libraries, Wild Oats, Davis Kidd Bookstore
Swim in the indoor pool at the YMCA
Toss coins into the fountain at Green Hills Mall
Thomas the Train sets at Davis Kidd, Concord Library and Borders Bookstore
Train Up a Child- 4 decked out Thomas the Train tables ($3)

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Great Coupon

I found this Big Lots coupon in a blog that I read. I've never seen a Big Lots coupon before! I used mine to buy cereals, birthday gifts and housecleaning supplies this morning. Big Lots is also a great place to get yummy breads! As one friend says, "It's fun to shop there, b/c you never know what you'll find!"

20% Off @ Big Lots - Print out this coupon to get 20% off your entire purchase at Big Lots. It expires on 2/3/07.


Monday, January 29, 2007

On the Table Tonight:
Quick Chicken Parmesan

I just put this super easy dish together in one of my favorite 9x13 dishes. It comes with a lid, so I don't have to wrestle with Saran Wrap to store it in the frig. With the prep work done, all I have to do is boil pasta before hubby gets home. My dish won't look as elegant as the picture, but it should still be super yummy!

4 boneless chicken breast halves

2 cups spaghetti sauce

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2 T grated Parmesan cheese

4 c spaghetti, cooked

Arrange chicken in baking dish. Top with pasta sauce. Sprinkle with cheeses. Bake at 400°F. for 25 min. or until done. Serve over spaghetti. Side dish: spinach salad.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Missing Publix

For the past 4-5 years, I've done most of my grocery shopping at either Aldi's or Superwalmart, but I'm mourning my loss of Publix since our move to Pleasant View, TN. Their groceries, in general, cost a little bit more than my other stores, but their customer service and sales are fantastic.

They offer 'penny items' on Sundays and Mondays, where you get their mystery item for just a penny. I've picked up coffee, paper towels, toilet paper, sodas, bottled water, chips... as penny items,

They offer really good buy one, get one free sales. I use these sales to stock up on canned/frozen veges, cake/brownie mixes, cereals!, peanut butter, chicken...

They have super yummy yogurt - especially the key lime pie yogurt. The kid's 6-pack yogurts are always priced well, and I stock up on their 8oz yogurts when they go on sale. They are still 50 cents (more than I like to pay), but they taste so good!

You can sign each of your children up for the Preschool Pals or Baby Club. They send the kids cute little cards/gifts each quarter, and they send you great coupons. The new baby packs are really great, with coupons for baby wash, milicon drops, diapers, wipes, formula... The other quarterly coupons include dairy, meat, produce and juice coupons.

Their stores are clean and bright. Their produce is very fresh. They push your groceries to the car and refuse tips. Their clerks are kind and helpful.

A friend bought groceries for her son's party at Publix. She got home & realized that the 'bagger' hadn't put two bags in the cart! That was big trouble with guests set to arrive within a few hours. The manager quickly apologized and DROVE the groceries to my friend's HOUSE within the half hour. Amazing!

Enough rambling - happy shopping!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Stains Galore!

With a 5-year old that loves to run & play, a 2-year old that loves to paint, and a 4-month old that loves to poop, we have a lot of laundry in our house. We also have a lot of stubborn stains in our house. Thankfully, I haven’t yet met a stain that Oxiclean can’t get out of clothes. If only I had discovered Oxiclean before child #2, I would have saved myself a lot of re-washing on my eldest son’s clothes!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Getting Dinner on the Table Part 2

(in response to a comment about getting dinner to the table when both spouses work all day)

I definitely have more flexibility with cooking, as a stay-at-home. Cooking is no easy task with 3 little tinies, but I can break tasks up throughout the day, if I need to. Here are some tricks that worked for me, when I was working full-time:

  • I fixed a lot of crock-pot meals.

  • I would try to do prepwork for my meals at night - my husband would wash dishes, make lunches & clear the table, while I cut chicken, mixed spices or chopped veges.

  • I tried to 'stack' meals - purposefully planning to use ingredients from one meal in a future meal. For example, if I was grilling chicken with veges on Monday night, I would grill enough chicken to use in a grilled chicken salad on Wednesday night and maybe even chicken burritos on Friday night.

  • I tried to always double my cooking - making one meal to eat and freezing a meal to use later.

  • I prepared a lot of one-dish meals - with veges, meat & starch all in one dish.

  • I used to find good recipes, and I didn't even look at the recipes that took longer than 20-30 minutes.

  • I tried to lower my expectations. It's impossible to cook gourmet meals every night when you're working all day (in the office or with kids!). If all you have time to do is grilled cheese sandwiches & a salad, then that's okay!

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Monday, January 22, 2007


My life has too much worship in it. I worship my children, my husband, my extended family, my rest time, an organized room, the perfect sugary treat…

I don’t spend enough time worshipping the One who really matters in my life. My constant companion, my provider, my listening ear, my wise counsel, my caretaker, my lighthouse, my creator, my joy, and my strength.

I do worship God in little ways – singing praise songs in the car, giving thanks throughout the day, praising his attributes during bedtime prayers with my husband, teaching the kids to recognize God’s goodness, and living a life that honors God. I wish, however, that I set apart longer periods of intentional worship.

Sunday night will be a perfect opportunity. My church is hosting a special praise and worship service, 6-7pm. They’re offering free childcare for children four and under, as long as you reserve a spot this week. The music is always beautiful, the atmosphere serene, and it’s the perfect time to express praise to our Heavenly Father. If you’re in Nashville, feel free to join us!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Getting Dinner on the Table

I’ve discovered that if I don’t plan my dinner meals early, I am likely to find dinner preparation to be stressful. I will either default to a convenience meal (unhealthy choices like Hamburger Helper, frozen lasagna or pizza) or I will stress about finding something good to cook.

I know I function best in the kitchen when I sketch out a general menu of foods to cook throughout the week and make one thorough trip to the grocery store. I know that it’s least stressful if I choose our meals in the morning, do prep work for the meals during the children’s naptime, and put together last-minute meal details around 5pm. That gives me a half-hour window to get dinner in the oven before my husband gets home from work at 6:30.

I also give myself the freedom to let the kids watch a PBS show, if I need extra time for dinner prep. We don’t watch much TV during the day, so I refuse to let myself feel guilty about the luxury that might be the key to my sanity!

On this week's menu:
  • leftover chicken lasagna
  • tequila lime chicken wings (husband's favorite treat)
  • mexican halibut
  • pesto chicken pizza
  • spaghetti and meatballs

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Grocery Helpers
My 5-year old has become a huge helper since the birth of our 3rd child. With the infant carseat in the back of the grocery cart and my 2-year old in the front, I have precious little room for groceries! Daniel, thank goodness, pushes the 2nd cart with all the groceries.

When we get home, he carries the lighter groceries into the house. Then he helps me unload groceries. He usually unloads the refrigerator items, the pantry boxes, and the fruit. I manage the heavy cans and glass jars. His help saves me a lot of time.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Cheap Groceries

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Baby Cereal

Baby cereal boxes drive me crazy! Every time I try to use the pour spout, I either spill or the lid closes while I'm pouring. My husband & I finally found a solution. We pour the cereal into tupperware, and use a scooper from an old baby formula can. It's the perfect size. I hold the bottle over the tupperware, while I pour the cereal into the bottle - just in case I spill.

No more messes + no more waste = happy mommy!

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Two Story Time Savers

I grew up in a 2 story house with the laundry room in the basement. I never knew how much work that was for my mom, with her 4 children!

Our new house is two stories, so I'm trying to learn tricks for managing our home. Our house is designed with the living area downstairs and the bedrooms upstairs. Here are some things I've learned in my first 6 weeks here.
  • a diaper-changing station with diapers, wipes & extra clothes on each floor (I have 2 children in diapers)
  • a collection of plastic grocery bags on each floor (trashcan liners, stinky diapers, errands...)
  • basic cleaning supplies on each floor
  • a bag of rags on each floor
  • a pile at the top & bottom of the stairs for items that need to go up or down (I never climb the stairs empty-handed!)
  • 2 baby gates (I won't put these up 'til the baby starts rolling/crawling. I have one, but I haven't decided what kind to buy for the 2nd gate.)
  • pacifiers and blankets on each level
  • ask my 5-year old to run up/downstairs for me
  • take advantage of the exercise & run up the stairs on occasion
What are your favorite tricks? I'd love to learn from you!

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Noise Busters!

My eldest son started sleeping through the night at 3 months. It took my second child 9 months to sleep through the night, because I was afraid his nighttime crying would waken our older son. I thought I was going to pull my hair out, because I was so tired!

Just before my daughter was born, my friend gave me a noise machine. Now I'm hooked! We have a noise machine in each bedroom, and I no longer worry about one child waking another. The boys don't wake up my infant during naps, and the baby doesn't wake the boys if she cries a little bit at night.

$19.88 at Walmart gives me 6 sounds to choose from and an adjustable volume. It's portable, too, so I can take it with me for naps at friend's houses or roadtrips to Grandma's house.
The baby & I are both sleeping through the night, and I am one thankful mommy!


Monday, January 15, 2007

Frugal Finds

I love Dollar stores - they hold so many treasures! I've bought cleaning supplies, party favors, gifts, school supplies, calendars, craft supplies, stickers, picture frames, toothbrushes, flip flops, candles, helium balloons... My favorite annual trip to the store is to let my kids fill up an Operation Shoebox kit with gifts for a needy child. They love finding all the treasures!


Sunday, January 14, 2007

What to cook?

I'm going to a potluck dinner tonight, and I have no idea what to take! I didn't realize it was a potluck 'til I went to church this morning, so I won't have time to go to the grocery store. What's in my pantry, frig & freezer?

One of my favorite cooking websites is It's free and easy! All the recipes are rated, so I can look at the 1-5 star ratings and see how many people have rated the recipes. I can also read the comments, to see how users have altered the recipes. I like to pick the 5 star recipes with 50+ ratings.

But for tonight, I'll use the website's ingredient search. I can tell the search engine to give me all the recipes that use x,y, and z ingredients. I can also tell it to limit the search if I don't have a certain item in my pantry. It's great, and it helps me be creative with the ingredients I have on hand.

I think I'll be cooking squash casserole. :)


Friday, January 12, 2007


We had a great time celebrating my son's second birthday at Fundom Kids (more about this great place in an upcoming blog!). Here are some pictures from our fun day.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Kitchen Time Saver

Whenever you need to brown ground beef for a recipe, double the batch of beef and store the extra servings in the freezer. It won't take you any extra time, and you'll save cooking & cleaning time the next time you need browned ground beef.

I usually brown several batches for the freezer, flavoring some with italian seasoning, and some with mexican seasoning. I label each storage container with the spices used & the date.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007


I thought I was 'freed' of legalism 10 years ago, when I started hearing Scotty Smith at Christ Community Church talk about grace. That old desire for perfection definitely has a way of sneaking up on me though!

I haven't given myself permission to blog for several months now. Granted, since my August blog entry, I've published a book, sold a house FSBO, bought a newly constructed house, and had a baby. Life has been crazy, but there have still been things I wanted to blog about. For some reason, I couldn't let myself post one entry without committing to posting on a regular basis.

Stupid, huh!? That's me & my battle to do things perfectly or not at all.

So it's official. I'm blogging again. I may blog every day, or once a week, or once a month. Whenever I have something to share, I'll write. And I won't worry about it being perfect!

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Vegetable Snacks on Hand

I'm a snacker. I prefer to eat mini-meals throughout the day. I'm good about eating protein, dairy and fruit, but veges are harder. These are little tricks that work for me:

1. After unloading the groceries, cut up all the veges into bite-sized pieces and store them in tupperware. This saves time throughout the week, because you don't have to clean knives and cutting boards all week. You'll be much more likely to snack on the veges, because they don't require any prepwork during the week. You can also pull the same veges out to steam, stir-fry or grill for dinner meals.

2. Yummy dips and dressings - I love dill dip!

3. Add nuts, meats & fruit to salads.

4. V-8 juice
5. Multi-vitamins

6. Bribes - if I finish my carrots, sure, I can have a Hershey kiss!

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Recycling with Craigslist

I'm a bargain shopper and I love to find new homes for things I can no longer use, so is one of my favorite tools. It's a national network of local online classified ads where people can buy and sell goods.

Buy: Goods are well-classified and easy to scan in categories such as bikes, toys, books, furniture... Posts are organized by date, so you can view products as they are posted. I've bought a ceiling fan, a booster seat, mulch and clothes.

Sell: Posting your items is easy and free. Sign in, describe your item, and price your item. It's best to post a picture, but they are not required. I've sold a sofa, a fooseball table, videos, books, clothes... I've also advertised real estate, jobs and rental properties.

Free stuff: My favorite category is the free column. These products tend to go quickly, so you have to act fast. I've seen people give away everything from entertainment centers to playground equipment to refrigerators to moving boxes.

One person's trash is another person's treasure, so recycle!