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, March 31, 2009

Am I a Leader?

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
~ John Quincy Adams

I saw this tagline on my friend Yolanda's email, and I had to share it with you! You may not be CEO of a major corporation, but you are greatly influential in your home, your neighborhood, your circle of friends, your church, the ballpark, your child's scout troup, and many other places! God has empowered you to be a leader in your own sphere of influence, so ask him for wisdom on how to lead wisely!


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Preview of Our Next Book - Building Character from the Start

Here's the cover art for our next book - I thought you might enjoy a sneak peek. :)

You can also see a teaser of the content here.

We just finished editing the text, so we're getting closer to the finished product. Next steps will be finishing the graphic work, page layout, print, marketing, and the release date in August.



Friday, March 27, 2009

Grilled Salmon - A Big Hit in our House!

1.5 pounds salmon fillets (fresh is my favorite, but the frozen filets from Aldi are good too)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1/2t lemon pepper to taste
1/2t garlic powder to taste
1/2t salt to taste

Pour all ingredients except the salmon into a gallon ziplock bag. Add the fish, then refrigerate for 2-6 hours.

Grill over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

When my 7yr old son saw salmon for dinner, he exclaimed, "I love salmon - I want to eat one hundred of them!". Then after dinner, my DH said, "This is my favorite salmon recipe!" Doesn't it make your day to hear comments like that?


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Creative Dinner Entertaining - Progressive Dinners

Entertaining doesn't have to be overwhelming or exhaustively expensive. Look at this creative opportunity for fun and fellowship that some of my friends are planning - a progressive dinner! I haven't participated in one of these in years, but they are so fun!

The sign-up list below is for a Sunday School party, so it is designed to feed a lot of people. If you're just doing a dinner with a couple of friends, you can do it on a much smaller scale.

Appetizer- ___ home
(Please sign up if you are willing to bring an appetizer.)

Entree- _____ home
1. Lasagna-
2. Salad-
3. Bread-

Dessert - ____ home
(Please sign up if you are willing to bring a dessert)

Labels: ,

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Beef Enchilada Casserole

My DH's patient shared this recipe with us – it's an easy make-ahead dish that serves 6-8 people. It's also an easy dish to freeze or double to share with another family.

1-1.5lbs of ground lean beef
1 lg onion, diced
4oz can green chiles
1t garlic powder
1 pkg taco seasoning
¼ c water
2 8oz cans red enchilada sauce (divided)
2.5 c grated colbyjack cheese (divided)
12-15 6” flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 350

Brown beef and onion in a large skillet. Add chiles, garlic powder, taco seasoning and water. Add 1 can enchilada sauce and simmer for a few minutes. Add one cup cheese (not all of the cheese) and heat ‘til melted. Remove from heat.

Take flour tortillas and spoon mixture from skillet into tortilla and roll. Place them seam side down in a 9x13 pan. Keep adding rolled tortillas until the pan is full. Pour remaining meat sauce and the additional can of enchilada sauce over top the tortillas. Add remaining cheese on top and bake 20min until cheese is golden brown.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Travel Tips - Getting Ready to Leave the House

These are the tasks I wanted to remember to do before leaving for the Disney cruise (and tips I follow for most extended vacations)

Leave wedding ring at home (if you'll be swimming in the lake/ocean)
Call credit card company to tell them you're leaving the country
Ask cell phone company about coverage
Gifts for tipping – TN? Dollar coins?
Make Copies of Passport, Birth Certificate, License
Outline dinners for next week
Set light timers
Notify neighbors who can watch your house
Stop mail
Set email autorespond
Check insurance coverage
Get cash or traveller's checks, then split the money with your spouse so no one carries all the money


Travel Tips - Packing Medications

1. Make a list of the regular and 'just in case' medications you need for children & adults. Our standard list is tylenol, benadryl, dimetapp, mucinex sinus, claritin, and 12 hour Sudafed. But every family's list is a little bit different.

2. Count how many days you'll be gone and estimate how many pills you will need of each kind. (Unless you want to pack a hundred pill bottles!)

3. Label snack size bags with a permanent marker and put a different type of pill in each bag. Then put all mini-bags into one medium size bag. (I actually pack 3 very different looking pills into the same bag, but make sure you can clearly tell them apart and label the bag accordingly. For example, I pack claritin, 12 hour sudafed, and vitamins together because they are different sizes and colors.)

4. You might even ask your pediatrician's office if they have a sample size of your most-frequently used children's medications. They are usually glad to share with patients.

5. If you pack any liquid medications, be sure to put them in a ziplock to guard your luggage from spills.

6. If you are using children's medications, be sure to pack a dispenser or a dosage cup.

7. Make a list of any prescription medications that you take on a regular basis - just in case you need emergency treatment, you lose your medications, or your luggage is lost.

8. Carry any emergency medications with you in your carry-on, in case your luggage is delayed.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Disney Cruise - Packing List

I had a hard time getting my head around what to pack for a 7-day cruise, so I thought I would share my list with you:

CLOTHING – 8 days
7 dinners (no tank tops or shorts allowed in Disney dining rooms)
DH – 3 dress shirts/ties, 4 polo shirts
Ann – 3 dressy, 4 casual (capris/skirts), wrap for cold night
kids – 2 button downs, 4 polos, 1 pirate
8 daytime
ann – 3 shorts & 6 tops – mix with evening tops
DH – 3 shorts, 7 tops
kids – 4-5 shorts/tshirts – mix with polo shirts the day after dinner
workout clothes
ann – 2
DH - 3
extra Bathing suit
hats (4)
sandals, dress shoes, tennis shoes
Socks (4 kids, 4 adults)
5 –Underwear (plan for 1 light load of laundry)
Disney tshirts for character signing

Baby Wipes
Brush with extra ponytails
Clear plastic shoe holder for hanging toiletries on bathroom door
Hair clips
Make-up remover
Meds – allergy, Tylenol, benadryl, Dimetapp, mucinex sinus, claritin
Nail File
Laundry detergent
Swimmer’s ear medicine
Shaving Cream

AAA Batteries for mp3 player
Air freshener
Bible, journal, Bible study, books
Playing cards
Yogurt canisters for pool/sand
Sound machine
Sunglasses x4
Beach Bag/fanny pack
Trash bag for dirty clothes

2 wallets
Boarding passes
Books for D/A/Daniel
Cash or Travelers Checks
Cell Phone/charger
Confirmation #’s
Credit Cards
Cruise Documents & contract
D’s homework
Empty water bottles
Eyeglasses and contact case
Hotel Phone #
Important telephone number/email addresses
List of credit cards & telephone numbers
Medicines/prescriptions – birth control, dramamine
Passport, Birth Certificate, License (have copies with you in a separate place from the originals)
Plastic bag for wet swimsuits
Spare set of casual clothing/underwear for everyone
Swimsuit (wear under your clothes on Sat am)
Sound machine
Kid’s entertainment – books, markers, journal, mp3/headphones

short sleeve shirt with jeans
socks and crocs
fleece pullover (tied around waist and available for plane, dining room, etc..)
DH– hat, watch


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sneak Peek into the "Great Group Games" book

Get a free sneak peek into our "Great Group Games" book. This is a really cool website that lets you preview books. Click here to see 21 pages of our book.

Labels: , ,

Friday, March 06, 2009

Returning Home from Vacation - Having Everything Ready When You Return

My friend Kristen (super-organized mom!) wrote a great article about returning home from vacation. She sent this to all the families that went on the Disney cruise with us. It's a good strategy to use anytime you leave town for the weekend.


One of the greatest laments my 'organized friends' and I discuss is the backlash of returning home from a trip! If you're kids aren't in school, it is no big deal! But Monday morning can come quickly for school age moms and stress is at an all time high! Here are 3 tips my friends and I have begun to put into practice before we leave on vacation.

Have 4 dinners planned & in the freezer for Sun., Mon., Tues., Wed., This gives you Sat. dinner out from the airport to home and 4 dinners covered until you can get to the store. These can be store bought or made and frozen by you! I tape a note to my kitchen cabinet to remind me of my plan when I return. Here is what I did:

Sat. (mexican restaurant on the way home from airport & krogers for milk)
Sun. (stouffer's lasagna, frozen garlic bread, canned corn)
Mon. (frozen chicken pot pie, cinnamon applesauce, crescent rolls)
Tues. (frozen spaghetti sauce, noodles, frozen green beans)
Wed. (frozen ham quiche, cinnamon applesauce, canned carrots)
Thurs.- Mothers Day Out and grocery shopping

Have 1 lunch & 4 school lunches ready for the returning week. I go for convenience and suspend the worry of the fat and chemical intake for this week. Here is what I planned for:

Sun. lunch- 8 can soup in crockpot & drop bisquick biscuits
Mon.-school kids & MDO kids- lunchables for everyone!
Tues.- school kids- lunchables
Wed.- school kids- lunchables
Thurs.- school kids & MDO kids- lunchables for everyone & go to grocery store!

Have 4 uniform days put aside for the next week. I took leftover 2 1/2 gallon size bags and put pant/shirt/undies/socks in them and labeled them Mon.-Thurs. I did have to go to Wal-Mart to buy a few more of these because many of them were taken up on the cruise but, the relief of stress was worth the $10 to me. If you're using their school clothes on the cruise- make a big note to yourself and tape on your bathroom mirror to remind you on Saturday night to run the clothes for school Monday on Sunday!

These 3 things will give you the breathing room to relax yourself on Sunday and start the mounds of laundry that await us all! You may get to the store before Thursday but, you don't have too! That is the greatest stress reliever of all!

Labels: ,

Monday, March 02, 2009

Disney Cruise - Magical Moments

Our family took a Disney cruise last week with extended family and friends. We went to Key West, Grand Caymans, Cozumel, and the Disney island. We had so much fun! It was truly magical and I feel covered by pixie dust. Some favorite memories:

  • swimming with the stingrays - and giving them kisses - in Grand Caymans
  • snorkeling in the aqua blue water of the Grand Caymans - the underwater world is so beautiful!
  • building sandcastles and playing football in the water on Disney's Castaway Cay island.
  • wading along the crystal clear shore - we found a live red starfish that was bigger than my DH's hand!
  • eating scrumptious food and trying exotic foods (caviar, escargot, lobster, crab, calamari, oysters, fish, veal, lamb...)
  • seeing a beautiful big red sun drop into the water at sunset
  • watching fireworks from the top deck of the boat in the middle of the ocean
  • fantastic theatrical performances
  • key lime pie on a stick in Key West
  • swimming in the Mickey pool and the goofy pool (with a jumbotron playing Disney flicks throughout the day)
  • date time - fancy dinners, sitting by the pool, playing scrabble, walking along the decks
  • watching the kids in the kid's club - playing games, erupting volcanoes, making flubber, decorating pillowcases, solving mysteries (it was incredible!)
  • observing the Disney staff in action - their service is top notch and they run a great ship!
  • being around staff and vacationers from all over the world - listening to their accents and their languages

If you love the sun, the water, and Disney, your family should consider a cruise. It's expensive, but it's worth saving for. We can't wait to go again!!

Labels: , ,