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!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

More Coughs

And if the cough goes into the chest - you know when it sounds like more of a wet cough, we use another secret formula. Mucinex breaks up the mucus that causes chest congestion and controls the cough. They have several different ingredient combinations, and they come in adult and child doses.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007


The Nashville Library is offering Playaways - little tiny self-contained 'mp3 players' with a digital story preloaded on the box.

According to the library website, "Playaway gives listeners the option of placing digital bookmarks and controlling the speed of a narrator’s voice, all while easily moving both forward and back through audiobook selections that can range from six to twenty-four hours. Additionally, Playaway has a universal headphone jack that works with almost any type of headphone or mobility accessory." I picked up two today - a Grisham novel for me and Charlotte's web for my 5-yr old. I'm looking forward to trying them this week.

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Delsym is Amazing!

My sister told me about Delsym about a year ago. It's a 12-hour cough medicine for kiddos that works great! It works really well for the dry cough that just won't go away. And I love that I only need to administer the meds twice a day!

Playing around on their website, I found that they even have a cough & cold report, that gives your local "sickness" report. Our area is currently low, though my boys are both sick. :(

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Free Movies

McDonalds has launched a DVD rental program through Redbox. I haven't used it before, but I plan to try it with their new coupon code. You can rent a free DVD for one night using this code: MCDVD827. It's valid through 9/23/07.

Now I need to remember some of the early summer movies that I planned to watch on video!



Start making your list early - keep a post it note with packing items in your calendar. If you can mull over your list for a week or two, you're much more likely to remember everything.

On my packing list, I make several columns:
  • Kids (clothes, underwear, meds, toothbrushes, blankets...)
  • Baby (because her packing needs are so different from the other kids)
  • Me (clothes, toiletries, books, meds, jewelry, shoes...)
  • Car or Plane (includes entertainment stuff, diaper bag, maps and cooler)
  • Other (beach stuff, lake stuff, hostess gifts...)
I like to start packing early, as well. I try to set out clothes a few days before the trip - so I have everything washed & matching, ready to go. Sometimes I pack things early in the suitcases, but often I just starting putting our travel items in a laundry basket, so I can easily see what I have/need. And of course, you must remember to mark things off the list, as you pack them!

If we're traveling in the evening, I'm going to try to start packing one bag for everything the kids need before bed. Then we can pull sleepy kids and one small suitcase out of the car, and easily transfer everyone to bed. I haven't done this before, but I think it will make transitions much easier!

I pack the car/plane entertainment at least one week before travel, so I can maximize the toy's entertainment value on the trip. If the kids haven't played with the toys in a while, they'll probably play with them longer in the car.

Books on tape have been great for our travels! Especially when the kids reach age 4.

Pack as lightly as possible. On a long trip, try to do laundry halfway through. If you can use the stroller as a highchair for a few days, it's worth the extra car space to leave the highchair at home. Do you need to pack 3 pairs of shoes for each person? Might your hostess have a pack-n-play that the baby could borrow? Be creative!

Happy Labor Day!

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Got stories?

I've been quiet in cyberworld, because I'm using all my free time to work on my 2nd book, "Ready to Go Service Projects" for youth pastors. It's an easy-to-scan resource to help church youth groups assess community needs and group strengths, then plan meaningful service projects. I'm looking for stories to include. Do you have a story about:

*how you were impacted by a service project as a young person (under age 24)?
*a favorite service experience (We're looking specifically for stories about caring for the sick, homeless, victims of domestic violence, or prisoners. As well as building safer communities, building healthier relationships or building cultural bridges. But we're open to any stories.)
*tips for youth groups planning service projects?

If you want to share a story, you can post it as a comment.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Rabbit Trails on the Web

Sometimes I love exploring the favorite blogs of other bloggers that I enjoy reading. Today Like Merchant Ships lead me to Unfolding Grace, which lead me to a powerful reading. It's called, "The Good Test".


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Keeping Up with the Car

I already knew that Autozone could diagnose the cause of your "check engine" light, by plugging it into their electronic system - for free. But I've just learned about more free resources from Autozone. It's quite the place for thrifty families to do business!

Troubleshooting guide, when something is wrong with the car
Repair guides, that give you step-by-step instructions for repairs
Loan-a-tool: with a deposit, you can borrow specialty tools
Vehicle testing: they will test your starter, alternator and battery for free
Battery charging - and it only takes an hour
Recycle motor oil and other car fluids

Find out more at


Cars - Always Get a 2nd Opinion!

The AC in our 2000 minivan went out last month, and the mechanic said it would be a $950 compressor fix. YIKES! We opted to gamble, and asked them to fill up the freon (sp?). They said the fill-up could last until next year, or it might not even last 'til tomorrow. It was a $75 gamble that we didn't win. The cold air lasted about a week, with cool air lasting another few days. We opted for early church this morning, because it was super-hot again. :(

We decided to call another mechanic friend, to get his advice. He recommended going to Autozone to pick up a few parts to patch the leak and refill the freon ourselves. We emailed pictures to him, so we could be confident in our actions, and he coached us through the process on the phone. Total cost: $25 and about 15 minutes of easy work. The cold air is blowing now, and we're praying that it will keep working.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Eating Out with Kids

I just read an older post about dining out at restaurants with children at TastingMenu. It's an older post, but so well written. I laughed reading it, because I've experimented with some of the tactics they suggest. It helps me get my courage up to take the kids out!

Phone #s

I love the free service provider to service provider feature that cell phone companies are offering. My whole family (on DH's side and mine) (minus one sister) is on Verizon, so I'm thrilled with our new Verizon service. It makes keeping up with long distance family (Nashville to Phoenix and Knoxville) SO much easier!

I've been trying to memorize which of my friends and colleagues have Verizon plans, so I know that I can call them for free, instead of tracking minutes when I talk with them. My friend Melanie uses a great little trick. She puts an asterik * at the end of a person's name, if they have the cell phone provider. Whoo-hoo - not as much memorizing for me!

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

If you're always looking for a good book to read, is a great website to explore! It's a 'myspace' sort of website, where friends share book reviews with one another. It's very easy to invite friends to join (for free), and it's very easy to rank your books according to their 5-star system. Writing additional comments is optional, so it's not at all time intensive. If you explore, invite me to be your 'friend' - I'd love to see what you love to read!

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Give a Starbucks - for free!

Amy at momadvice just posted about BOGO offer from Starbucks, that's valid in their Target locations. They never have coupons, so this is fun to see! Let's see... who could you treat to a Starbucks this month?

a pastor
a teacher
a mentor
a sibling
a parent
a doctor
a neighbor
someone you need to reconcile with
someone you've been finding the courage to talk to
a friend that you haven't seen in a while
a colleague
a sweetheart

I see 2 frappuccinos in my near future :)

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Kids and Eyeglasses

None of my children need eyeglasses (yet!), but a friend told me about a wonderful middle TN resource for families with children needing glasses. The Vanderbilt Optical Center carries a wide variety of children's glasses at prices that are covered by most insurance policies. Their packages include the frame, lightweight shatter-resistant lenses, scratch guard, 100% ultra violet protection and a 2 year warranty. The 2-year warranty is what I loved. My friend's daughter got her first pair of glasses at 14 months old. Even with careful supervision, she has gone through a dozen pairs of glasses in just over a year. Every single new pair was covered by the warranty!!!! If you know of a child in middle TN that needs glasses, this is a great resource to share!

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Gramma Gifts

One of the best gifts I've gotten for "Gramma" is this photo tote bag from the BananaNana Shoppe. I love the embroidery, I love the scripture, and I love that you can slip photos in/out as the children grow.

Their company tagline is "Fun stuff for the groovy Grandma", and their products are so cute. They're not frugal, but I still love their stuff!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Feeling the Heat of August

My van's air conditioning went out on Wednesday - no fun for 95 degree weather. :(

I just checked our 10-day weather forecast, and my jaw nearly hit the ground. Mon & Tues are supposed to get up to 100 degrees. That hardly ever happens in Tennessee. Then I scrolled down to see Wed - 101, Thurs - 102, and I gasped again at Friday - 103. Not a good week to have no AC. I know I shouldn't complain - I'm TOTALLY thankful to usually have AC.

It does make me flashback to a year ago, when I was 8 months pregnant and our house AC went out. I remember sitting in front of the fan in our living room, trying to convince my 19month old and my 4 year old to entertain themselves in that one little area, so I wouldn't have to move.

Oh, how did all the frontier women do it? We are so spoiled!!

So I'm crossing my fingers for a quick-n-easy diagnosis at the mechanic on Wednesday. :)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Christmas in August

I found great 5x7 photo calendars at Big Lots today - for $1. They come with little squares of double-sided tape that you use to adhese the photos. They make great gifts for grandmas and great-grandmas!

And to go with that, Shoelaces lists a zillion places to get free digital photos. Her list is from earlier this summer, but I bet some of the deals are still available. I'll probably wait 'til November to print the photos, so they're current for Christmas, but I loved seeing all the digital deals!


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Wipe Out!

I've had a little trouble getting to the YMCA this month. I've kept active everyday, by walking around the neighborhood with the kids - my eldest son riding his bike, while I push the little bits in the double stroller. That's good exercise, but I needed a little extra 'umph' yesterday.

So we pulled out "Daddy's music" (AKA loud music), and started dancing. First we played the Beach Boys' song "Wipe Out" and we did lunges and squats in surf style. Then we did some crazy kick-boxing to the Matrix soundtrack. Then I started giving the kids "airplane" rides with their bellies on my feet in the air. My 30lb son is easy to fly, but my 55lb son is a tough workout! My baby girl thought it was hysterical to watch all the commotion. :)

It inspired me to be creative with staying strong and healthy - and having fun with the kids at the same time!

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Preschool Fun

Christy has a fantastic list of ideas for preschool fun. So if you're needing an extra boost of entertainment during the hot summer days, take a peek at what's going on in her house. ;)


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Tomato Bruschetta (Real Simple Magazine)

My friend Mary made this super-yummy bruschetta last night. If you have garden tomatoes, you should definitely try this recipe:

Slice a loaf of crusty bread at an angle. Brush it with olive oil on both sides, then broil each side for one minute.

Pull out of the oven and top with yummy topping, which includes:
2 tablespoons oil oil
6 Roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and diced
6 kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano or basil, torn (I did a tablespoon of each)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

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Lifehacks has a clever post with classic ideas for entertaining children. It's a good memory jogger for the ways we used to play as children! There are even more ideas listed by readers in the comments section.

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