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!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Igloos in the Heat of Summer

I've been getting lots of creative cooking ideas in the Kid's Cooking Camp emails this summer. This week's session was on 'homes', and I loved their ideas on making 3 different kinds of igloos:
  • Make your favorite cheese ball recipe. Instead of rolling in nuts leave outside white. Score squares with a toothpick around the outside to resemble ice blocks.
  • Create an igloo with cheese cubes. Use a small paper cup if needed to prop up cubes.
  • Apple igloo. Cut an apple in half and core out seeds and middle. Lay flat and spread cream cheese or peanut butter around outside. Lay miniature marshmallows all around outside of apple.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Neighborhood Playday

We hosted a casual playday for kids in our neighborhood today at Fundom Kids. It was really fun, and so easy to do.
  • I made computer invitations with the time/date/place/cost.
  • We went door-to-door inviting families that appeared to have young kids (wherever we saw swingsets, bikes, scooters...).
  • I asked parents to rsvp via email (and I saved their email addresses for future invitations)
  • I called the facility, to let them know we were having a playday.
  • We all met at the playplace, where the kids could mingle, snack and play. No cleaning involved!
We live in a new neighborhood, so families don't yet know one another. I planned the gathering hoping to help me kids meet neighborhood kids, to help me meet other moms nearby, and to create a greater sense of caring community in the neighborhood. Four other families came to the playday - not too many, but I feel like we accomplished our goal. I look forward to doing more neighborhood events in the future.

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Bang for the Buck

I love getting two-for-one specials - when shopping, but also in managing time. Tonight, my husband went to the Y an hour before me, while the kiddos were still napping/resting. When we got to the Y, he was almost finished with his workout, so I dressed the boys in their swimming trunks and checked my 10mo daughter into the free nursery. DH met the boys at the pool for an hour of swimming, while I got to workout. Oh, and can you guess what I was reading (along with half of America) on the indoor bike?

Dad gets good time with the boys
All 3 kids have a blast!
Mom gets a break from the kids
Mom & Dad get time to exercise
Mom gets to read Harry Potter
Everybody has a great night!

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Popcorn on the Porch

We made popcorn for an afternoon snack. The boys wanted to share it with our neighbors, so I offered to call them with an invitation. They wanted, instead, to go over to our neighbor's house with the popcorn. So we packed up a couple of bowls and walked across the street. We knocked on the door, and invited them to a spontaneous popcorn party on the porch. The kids ate and rode bikes, while the mom & I visited on the porch. It was a great way to spend an hour.

So if you're looking for a cheap & easy way to get to know your neighbors, go pop some popcorn and knock on a door. :)

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Musing in a Coffee Shop

My writing days started at Davis Kidd bookstore (Nashville), where I would spend hours reading and writing, while sipping their flavored coffee. Nobody had wireless access then (9 years ago!), but nobody knew to miss it.

Now I savor an afternoon escape to a coffee shop to write and research the internet. Amy just did a great little post on finding free wireless access around town.

So if you have the luxury of escaping for a few hours, now you have a tool to find free wi-fi!


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Digital Photography School

I love this blog's post about 10 Tips for Photographing Babies. And I love this photo that they posted on their blog.

I despised photography, before buying my digital camera. My pictures were always too dark, too blurry, or off-centered. But now, I can assess my photo immediately, and learn from my successes and mistakes.

Thanks, DPS, for the new photo tips!

Emergency Poop Patrol

Today is my 9month old daughter's 3rd day in a row to poop out of her diaper. That many poop outs tells me that she definitely needs to go up a diaper size! Today's poop out was all over her high chair and we weren't close to a bathtub. I picked her up and carried her to the disposal-side of the kitchen sink. I sprayed her off and gave her an emergency bath. I was so grateful for the nearby sink! After dressing her, I proceeded to rinse her clothes in the sink. Thankfully she was in a small portable highchair, so I was able to spray & wash it in the sink too. Then I disinfected the sink!

  1. portable high chairs are the best!
  2. keep your sink clean, so you can use it for an emergency bath
  3. put a travel-size bottle of baby shampoo under the sink
  4. keep a spray of disinfectant spray under the sink for multipurpose clean-ups


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Happy Birthday Blog - today's post is #201 for me!

When my husband first introduced me to the idea of blogging, I honestly thought it was silly. I didn't realize that blogging could be so much more than an online journal.

I feel like God designed me to collect information and disseminate it to others in an easy-to-read and easy-to-apply style. Before I began blogging, I used to collect ideas & send emails out to other moms. I never knew if other moms actually wanted to read/use the information, so I always felt a little insecure sending it out.

I have LOVED blogging, because I can use my gifting, and it's available to whomever might want to read the ideas. AND it helps me keep track of lots of mommy secrets in one place - instead of stuck in my email 'sent' box.

So Happy Birthday my little blog!

Singing Our Hearts Into "Tune"

I've been singing, as I've worked on my Bible study this week. We're studying the names of God, and this week's names are Rock and Foundation. I love the old hymns about God being our rock and foundation. Here are the lyrics to some hymns I've been enjoying. I thought you might enjoy seeing along with me!
ann :)


How firm a foundation

"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,Is laid for your faith in His excellent word! What more can He say than to you He hath said— To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled? "

"Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed, For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid; I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

"When through the deep waters I call thee to go, The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow; For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless, And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply; The flame shall not harm thee; I only design Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

"The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose, I will not, I will not, desert to his foes; That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I'll never, no never, no never forsake."


Rock of Ages

Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to the cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die. Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee;


The solid Rock

My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus' blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace; In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood, Support me in the whelming flood; When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hog Call
A stage 2 game from Great Group Games

Time: 20 minutes

Supplies: index cards with compound words, one for each person

Make a set of index cards with compound words. For example, on one card write ‘peanut’, and on the other card write ‘butter’. On one card write ‘shoe’, and on the partnering card, write ‘lace’.

Shuffle the cards and randomly give everyone a card. When you give the cue, ask participants to hunt for their compound word partners. When everyone thinks they’ve found a partner, have them form a large circle, standing beside their compound partner. The group may need to problem solve & shuffle people around, because some words will have multiple possibilities for their partners.

Going Deeper:
§ How did you first respond to the task of finding your compound word partner?
§ What tactics helped you to succeed?
§ Did priorities and decision-making ever come into play?
§ If your word fit with multiple words, how did that make you feel?
§ If it took you an especially long time to find your word match, how did that make you feel?
§ How might these experiences apply to real life?

Assets: social competencies, positive identity, creative activities

Thursday, July 12, 2007

So much of being a good mommy is in our attitudes. Where is your heart's posture today? Where are you struggling? Do you believe that God can provide for you in that need? What comforting promises can you find in Scripture?

You say: "It's impossible"
God says: All things are possible
(Luke 18:27)

You say: "I'm too tired"
God says: I will give you rest
(Matthew 11:28-30)

You say: "Nobody really loves me"
God says: I love you
(John 3:1 6 & John 3:34 )

You say: "I can't go on"
God says: My grace is sufficient
(II Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)

You say: "I can't figure things out"
God says: I will direct your steps
(Proverbs 3:5- 6)

You say: "I can't do it"
God says: You can do all things
(Philippians 4:13)

You say: "I'm not able"
God says: I am able
(II Corinthians 9:8)

You say: "It's not worth it"
God says: It will be worth it
(Roman 8:28 )

You say: "I can't forgive myself"
God says: I Forgive you
(I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)

You say: "I can't manage"
God says: I will supply all your needs
(Philippians 4:19)

You say: "I'm afraid"
God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear
(II Timothy 1:7)

You say: "I'm always worried and frustrated"
God says: Cast all your cares on ME
(I Peter 5:7)

You say: "I'm not smart enough"
God says: I give you wisdom
(I Corinthians 1:30)

You say: "I feel all alone"
God says: I will never leave you or forsake you
(Hebrews 13:5)

Thanks to Shannon for passing this 'email forward' along to me!


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

For middle TN moms:

Once Around the Block
Back to School Consignment Sale
July 25-27 at West End Community Church

75/25 consignor split with perks for volunteers. If you've consigned with another sale, you can re-use your consignor tags! It's a full-service sale, which means you drop off your items, volunteers distribute them to the sales floor, volunteers pack up your unsold items, and you pick up your pre-packed box of unsold items. It's so easy!!

Register online to save your consigning spot, and mark your calendar for the big event.

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Real Simple

I love to read Real Simple magazine, when I see it at a friend's house or at the doctor's office. I've never subscribed to it, because I'm too cheap, but I just found out that you can read many of their articles online for free! They have great articles on organizing, cleaning, cooking, and just general life stuff. It's not always thrifty, but there are many creative and easy ideas.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Crossword Connections
A stage one teambuilder from the Great Group Games book

Time: 15-20 minutes

Supplies: paper and pen for each participant

Give each person a piece of paper and ask them to write their full name in large letters across the middle of the page. Then ask everyone to mingle for 5-7 minutes, searching for “connections” (commonalities) they have with one another. When you discover a “connection,” write your new friend’s first name in crossword style to connect with your name, then record your specific commonality on the back of the page. See how many connections everyone can find in a short amount of time.

Going Deeper:
§ How can we be so different, yet so much alike?
§ How does finding commonalities affect your comfort level in a group?
§ Do we take the time to find commonalities in everyday life? Why or why not?
§ Does finding commonalities make it easier to start conversations? Build relationships?

Assets: interpersonal competence, safety, positive peer influence, support


Monday, July 09, 2007

Sticky I.D.
A name game from the Great Group Games book

Time: 20 minutes

Supplies: a post-it note and pen for each participant

Give each participant a post-it note and a pen. Ask them to draw 2 lines (making a “t”) that split their paper into four squares. Have them fill in the blanks for the following questions:

*Something you liked doing when you were younger that you still enjoy
*One of your favorite things to do outside
*Something you'd like to learn more about
*A place you’d love to visit one day

When everyone is done, ask people to partner up with someone they don’t know very well, share names if they don’t know them and share the answers to their questions. When you blow the whistle, ask participants to find a new partner. After rotating through 5-6 partners, ask the group to form a circle and share some of the things they learned about one another.

Going Deeper:
* While talking with others, did you remember any fun activities that you especially enjoy?
* What kinds of topics were other people interested in learning more about?
* Did you discover anything that you had in common with someone else in the group?

Assets: Support, commitment to learning, safety, interpersonal competence, constructive use of time


Veggie Tales Moe and the Big Exit
Friday, July 13, 6:30 to 8 pm
West End Community Church in Nashville, TN

Bring your pillows, sleeping bags and a hungry tummy to watch the newest Veggie Tales movie on the big screen. We will provide hotdogs, chips and drinks for $10 per family. Don't miss this rootin' tootin' wild west adventure! For more information, call Teresa at 463-8497 x25.

If you live near Nashville, I'd love to meet up with you & your family to watch the movie!

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Pumping Proud

My youngest daughter celebrated her 9 month birthday last week, and I celebrated another milestone. I've been pumping breast milk for almost 9 months, because my daughter prefers the bottle. Those of you who have pumped milk will understand my pride about pumping 4-6 times each day. It's not fun or glamorous, but it's what has worked best for my little girl and our family.

I thought you would get a laugh out of hearing some of the funny places I've pumped this year. Unlike nursing discreetly under a blanket, pumpers have to find a private place with a plug! So far, I've pumped:

in airport bathroom stalls
driving to the beach
under the ticket counter at the ski slopes
in the storage room at church
in the back corner at an old country mechanic's shop
in the sound room at a wedding reception
in a meeting room at the YMCA
in the locker room at the YMCA
in the parking lot at the playground
at my husband's office
while posting this blog!

My goal is to keep it up for 3 more months - we'll see if I can make it!

Just call me a moo-cow,
ann :)

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Little Girl Dresses

Janel at Pearls just shared a really cute link for making little girl dresses out of Daddy's old shirts. The dresses are precious!

Visit Craftster to see the detailed instructions. It's an easy project for a regular seamstress, and a do-able project for someone beginning to sew.

I sew very little and very infrequently, but I'd like to try this dress. If you know of other easy-sew projects, I'd love to hear about them!

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Peppermint Mocha - Yum Yum!

I love coffee - not even for the caffeine, but for the comfort! I love the smell, I love the warmth, and I love the creamy sensation in my mouth. I love the aroma that wafts up as I even just hold a cup. Yes, I'm a dork! My favorite coffee treat right now is peppermint "mocha" - and it's so easy to make!

Brew regular coffee (I use decaffeinated, since I'm still nursing my little one)
Fill a coffee cup 1/3 full with milk
Add 1T of half-n-half or whipping cream
Add 1t peppermint syrup (So far, I've only found this at Starbucks)
Fill the cup to the top with coffee.

I don't like mine super-hot, so it's the perfect temperature for me. If you like yours to be hot-hot-hot, then put it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Enjoy!


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Working From Home

After reading Amy's article on working from home, I decided to capture a few of my mommy tricks for meeting with my low-key and casual clients and business partners:

1. Meet for a walk at the park. I push the double stroller, while my 5yr old rides his bike. I carry a pad of paper & pen in the diaper bag to capture items for my to-do list. With snacks, toys & beautiful scenery, the kids enjoy the walk, while we talk.

2. Meet at the picnic shelter beside a playground. My 2.5 and 5yr olds play at the playground, while my 9mo old plays with toys in the stroller.

3. Meet at the YMCA. If you are a member, you can put your children in childcare, while you meet in the Y-Cafe or walk on the treadmills together.

Working at home needs to fit with your family's lifestyle, so combining work with playtime and exercise time is a great bonus!

P.S. If you don't read Amy's blog, add her to your reading list. Her website and her blog are full of great ideas for living a full life on a low budget!

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Free Fireworks!

Our family opted not to stay up 'til 10pm to watch the fireworks with 3 children ages 5 and under. It just throws us completely off schedule for the next day - which makes everyone miserable! So we lit our little sparklers and went to bed at the normal 8pm mark.

Little did I know that we would have a huge voluntary fireworks display in our driveway! We just moved into the country, and apparently everyone out here loves to set off fireworks. From 8:45-9:45 last night, my DH and I sat in the back of his pick-up truck watching fireworks pop all around our house. And these were the huge and beautiful fireworks that lit up the whole sky! It was a great romantic and spontaneous date!

Next year, we'll keep the kiddos up late for a backyard fireworks extravaganza with no cost and no traffic!

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Monday, July 02, 2007

The Pizza Playground

There's a great little pizza place near our house that has a $6.99 special on large pizzas on Monday nights. We've started a fun tradition of having pizza at the playground, occassionally, on Monday nights. Tonight, my son duped it the "pizza playground".

It makes for a great family outing. We pick up the pizza, then play on the playground 'til Dad gets there after work. Then we sit in the shaded pavillion to enjoy pizza together.

My 9month old daughter was the funniest tonight - kicking her feet with such spirit, until we would give her a bite of pizza.

I love making family memories :)