"For I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in You...You make it Beautiful Somehow"

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Newest Project

Wondering why I have been a bit absent lately? 

Well I have just started working on my newest project...and it has been keeping me a bit occupied lately...

Our little peanut at 6 weeks...we even got to see it's little heart beat. It truly is one of the most beautiful things to see! 

Baby #3 is Due January 2013!

 I will be doing pregnancy updates once a week so I can keep track of everything that is happening...symptoms, cravings, etc.

We would definitely appreciate your prayers for this to be a healthy pregnancy!

For you created my inmost being; 
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful, 
    I know that full well.

Psalm 139:13-14

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Our Fabulously Frugal, COLORFUL Birthday Party!

Saturday we had Luke's 1st Birthday Party. We ended up going with a Colorful/Rainbow Theme. It was actually by accident. Haha. 

When I went to the Dollar Tree, I grabbed the red, yellow, and blue streamers. Hubby picked out the plates, napkins, and cups. I made up a funfetti cake mix for the cupcakes and decided at the last minute to make different colored icing for some of the cupcakes. As I went I realized I had enough cupcakes to make four of each of the colors of the rainbow.  I grabbed a package of bubbles for "gifts" for the other kiddos and it just so happened to have rainbow colors. 

 My wonderful sisters hung all the streamers for me so we had a wonderfully colorful room! They way they twisted the two colors together created another rainbow look. Thanks again girls!

For the table I grabbed three mason jars I had on hand, filled them with crayons, colorful toys, and pipe cleaners. Then we made fun shapes to stick up out of the jars...a more boyish alternative to flowers. 

After putting this all together I realized we had a colorful rainbow theme going on. Then I remembered I had a book about rainbows. It's call "I Love You More Than Rainbows" by 
Daddy read it to all the kids before we opened presents. It was really special! 

Luke got the special cupcake with the 1 candle in it. Big brother even helped him blow it out. 

Luke loved his cupcake! He kept making a funny "too sugary" face when he would get a taste of the frosting. It was hysterical! 

 When we were done eating cake, reading our story, and opening presents, all the kiddos went outside for some slip-n-slide fun. The kids had a blast. It was so fun to watch them run around the yard squealing and trying to figure out how to actually slide.

This birthday party cost us right around $25 dollars for all the plates, cups, napkins, forks, table cloths, steamers, balloons, bubbles, cake mix, and icing. I already had the items for the center pieces on hand (mason jars, crayons, pipe cleaners, etc). For cupcake "trays" and "stand", I simply used our regular white plates, and put one on top of a clear bowl to make a stand for it.

Happy 1st Birthday Luke! We love you so much!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

All Purpose: Citrus Enzyme Cleaner

Today I am sharing my first post over at The Cheap and Choosy. Head on over and check it out. The Cheap and Choosy has a ton of wonderful ideas for Simple, Frugal, and Intentional living! 

Not too long ago, I started my journey into the wonderful world of Natural Homemade Cleaners. If you have never made your own homemade cleaners I strongly encourage you to give it a try! They are very simple and frugal to make. Add in the benefit of not worrying about your children or pets around them and you have some pretty awesome reasons to start making your own.

Today I am going to share my newest and favorite natural homemade cleaner, the Citrus Enzyme Cleaner. This cleaner is absolutely fantastic! It can be made for pennies out of items you probably already have at home or are about to throw away.

What you will need...
*7 tablespoons of brown sugar.
*1 1/2-2 cups of fruit peels. I went with Lemon and Orange. You can also do lime, grapefruit, apple, or pineapple. I have read that pineapple actually has the most cleaning power to it.
*1 tsp. Yeast (optional)
*2 liter bottle with cap
*1 liter (approx 4.25 cups) of water
*Permanent Marker

Cut up your fruit peels and put them into the bottle. Using your funnel, add the brown sugar, yeast and water. Screw cap onto bottle and shake vigorously. Now here is why the yeast is optional. (I did not know about this when I first made this cleaner and did not add the yeast.) Without the yeast it will take three months for your cleaner to fully mature. With the yeast, it will only take you two weeks! Wish I would have known that at first....oh well...it works just as great, and was definitely worth the wait. If using yeast, take your permanent marker and write the date that is two weeks from when you made it, so you will know when it is ready. If you are making it without the yeast, write the date that is three months from when you made it. This is especially helpful if you are making new batches that are a few weeks apart, so you do not get them confused. Store in a cool, dry place. I keep mine in my pantry.

When storing, you want to make sure that the cap is not screwed on all the way on. A lot of gas will build up and could actually cause the cleaner to explode. Yike! So make sure to let the bottle breathe. If using yeast, you will want to shake your bottle every day for the first week. If not using yeast you, will want to shake it every day for about the first month. Shake it once a week after that. When you are ready for your first use, strain the sludge/pulp from your cleaner and go to it!

Why is this cleaner so fantastic? Other than the fact that you don't have to buy more vinegar (I go through that stuff like crazy!), it is extremely eco-friendly and allows you to use food scraps to make it. I love that! This cleaner truly is an ALL purpose cleaner! Here are just a few of the things you can use this cleaner for...

-cleaning floors...1 part enzyme to 10 parts water.

-cleaning bathrooms....1 part enzyme to 10 parts water.

-washing dishes...add 1/4 cup of enzyme.

-getting out stains (it is amazing for this!)...use undiluted directly on stain.

-laundry...add 1/4 cup enzyme.

-fertilizer for plants (I am especially excited to try this!)...simply take your left over mop water and pour on your plants!

-cleans and clears drains...use unstrained "sludge" from enzyme cleaner.

-wash your car...1 part enzyme to 20 parts water. (My van desperately needs a bath!)

-cleaning fruits and veggies...1 part enzyme to 10 parts water.

-insect repellent...use undiluted. This is supposed to be amazing for ants, spiders, and roaches.

-skin care product! (This one amazes me. I am trying to get up the courage to try it.)...1 part enzyme to 2 parts water.

My experience with it...
My cleaner is still about two weeks away from the full three months...but I became too excited and too impatient to wait. I tried it out on both my bathroom and my kitchen floors. It is absolutely fantastic! My bathroom and floors looked and smelled wonderful. I am so happy with the result. Next time around I will be trying the yeast to speed things up, as well as trying a pineapple version.

While doing research on the Citrus Enzyme Cleaner here are some other women who have made it and had great success...
Homemade Mamas
Happy Homemaker
Off Beat Home...Thanks to Jillee for the awesome yeast tip to speed up the process! Makes a great thing even more awesome!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fabulously Frugal Birthdays

As I started planning my son's first birthday, I began to think about my own birthday parties growing up. My parents went out of their way to make it a special day just for me. We invited friends over to our house, played a bunch of fun backyard games, ate cake, and opened presents. It was fun. It was simple. It was so incredibly special.

While searching the web for ideas, I noticed that parties today are going all out with all of the decorations, additions, and special touches. There really are many fabulous ideas out there. But honestly...I simply can not afford to do them. As I scroll through each amazing picture on Pinterest, I almost feel that if I do not go all out, I am somehow cheating my kids out of a fabulous childhood.That maybe, I did try as hard as the mommy who has an entire candy bar, chocolate fountain, glass dishes and fancy labels for everything.

Then I started to think about my birthdays growing up. I honestly don't really remember the decorations or what theme we had. I do remember my mom creating all of these fun and crazy games that I got to play with my friends. I don't remember if we had tons of theme specific treats to eat. I do remember helping my mom make my cake, special, just for me.

Often times we think that we have to spend a ton of money to create memories with our children, or to let them know how much we love them. I know I can fall into that trap. But honestly, money doesn't matter a thing to kids. What matters is that mommy and daddy took the time to do something special, just for them and with them. I say all of that to say....you don't have to spend a ton of money on your child's birthday party to make them feel special! Going all out on their birthday party won't magically make you a "good" mom, just like doing a "simple" party wont make you a "bad" mom.

So lets all let go of the "I have to do this to be a good mom" guilt...ready...1.2.3..deep breathe in....exhale...

Good! Okay now that we have that over with lets talk parties! Here a just a few tips my own mom used over the years to give us fabulous birthday parties, frugally...

1. Guests....keep the guest list small. Invite family and 5-8 close friends (not 5-8 familes...5-8 friends). No need to invite 20-25 friends. Your kiddos don't need that many new toys any way. The more people you invite the more supplies and food you will need. The less people you invite the more quality time you will be able to spend with each of them.

2. Time....Plan the party around 10:00 am or 2:00 pm. Having it around these times will not require you to have lunch made for all of your guests. Trying to feed 20+ people can get very expensive! You can instead, serve small snacks if you wish, or simply serve cake.

3.Entertainment... Play classic games. No need to rent that huge bouncy house or petting zoo. Good old fashioned water balloon fight, a slip-n-slide (made out of tarp or even trash bags), relay races, or team games like capture the flag, are always tons of fun! This was honestly my favorite part of my parties. Mom kept it simple and added a fun twist to each game.

4. Details...Make it yourself. The cake, the invitations, decorations, the thank you's, do it all yourself. You will spend precious time with your child creating them and build tons of memories together in the process.

5. Decorations...Go simple with the decorations. Pick 2-3 things you love and do them. Honestly it is amazing the fun things you can do with streamers and balloons! You can find a lot of party stuff at the Dollar Tree and save a ton! Better yet...use what you have at home! Instead of purchasing new glass serving dishes cover a rectangular box in white paper and add some fabric or scrapbook paper to the top to make a stand for snacks, food, and cake.

6. Location...have the party at home, in your back yard, or do it picnic style at a park. No need to spend a bunch of money for a fancy location.

As I have been planning Luke's 1st Birthday party I have found a lot of really fun, creative, and inexpensive ideas to make your kiddos party fabulous. Here are some of my favorite ideas I have found on Pinterest...(some of these parties do fall into the "super fabulous" category...but remember just pick one or two things from them that are inexpensive to do. Don't feel like you have to recreate the whole party!)

Birthday invites - hungry catepillar

I loooove this DIY "Hungry Caterpillar" Invitation from Pottery Barn Kids. Guess what? The printable is FREE! I think I would make this with out the mason jar to save money though.

Balloon caterpillar

"Hungry Caterpillar" made from balloons! How cheap and easy is that?! Find this and more "Hungry Catepillar" theme ideas here.

birthday party decorations

Make a chandelier of balloons! See the full party details at The Pleated Poppy

These ruffled streamers are a completely fabulous variation on plain old paper streamers. Find the how to on Made.

Birthday decorations

This is another fun alternative to streamers...cut circles out of colored paper and string together. Adorable! See the entire Rainbow themed party at Homemade by Jill

Birthday decorations

I love this sweet and super sentimental idea of making picture garland. Fabulous for a first birthday! Check out full party details on The McClenahans.

hungry catepillar

This "Hungry Caterpillar" "cake" looks so fun. Pretty positive I can make this! Find it here. (I love the Hungry Caterpillar theme...can you tell?)

These would be a cheap and really fun snack for little ones! I know my Luke would loooove it! See the whole candy land party here.

Water PiƱatas

How fun is this water balloon pinata idea?! Kids would love this! Idea from Scrappy Happy Heather.

would be fun for an outdoor party

Fantastic idea! Simple. Easy. Cheap. Plus you are reusing something you might have thrown away (yogurt cups). Idea from La-La's Home Daycare.

Fun idea!

My boys would go crazy over this balloon and pool noodle game from Parents.com.

Are there any frugal and fun party games, ideas, food, or decorations that you love?  Share them below! Then get to planning that fabulously frugal birthday party! 

 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:15

Linking to Teach Me TuesdayFrugal Tip Tuesday

Saturday, May 19, 2012

To My Son On His First Birthday

Oh man. This little boy turns one today. Where has the time gone? If feels like he should be 6 maybe 7 months old...but One!? Really!?!?

To my precious Luke on your first Birthday,

The first time they placed you in my arms is a feeling I don't ever want to forget. You were so sweet, so precious, so perfect. I loved your little button nose, your wrinkly skin, and the fact that you were so tiny, yet pudgy, that the nurses nicknamed you "macho man". 

Our little Luke Israel. You have been such a blessing to us. I have loved every moment holding you, kissing you, playing with you, and teaching you. 

You have been my snuggler. My little cuddle bug. I love that even when I am having a stressful day a quick hug or snuggle from you can turn it all around. 

You started out as such a serious little guy.  I thought maybe you would bring balance in our family since your brother and daddy are so funny....

...but you have since become the funniest one yet. I love to hear you walk around the house giggling at yourself for no real reason. You always have a smile on your face that cheers any one up instantly. 

As you continue to grow I want you to know that I will always love you, care for you, teach you, help you, listen to you, laugh with you, and to cry with you. I want you to always remember how loved and cherished you truly are! 

I can't wait to see, in the many years to come, what kind of boy, teenager, and man you become. Always keep your eyes focused on God. Serving Him above all else. 

I love you Luke! Happy 1st Birthday! 

  "My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you;  keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart."
Proverbs 7:1-3

Friday, May 18, 2012

Googely-Eyed Monsters

My goal recently has been to do one fun and educational thing with each of the boys every day. Whether that is coloring, cutting paper, play dough, treasure baskets, a fun craft etc. I want to have one specific thing each day to teach each of the boys something. Most days we do quite a few more than just one, but I set a goal of one since it is completely attainable on all days. 

Enter the Googely-Eyed Monsters! When trying to think of something different, fun, and educational for Jack to do one day, I found a bag of eyes that some one had given us. Jack was immediately curious about them, and wanted to shake the bag to see the eyes move. While he was investigating them, I grabbed a stack of neon colored foam sheets, elmer's glue, markers, and some safety scissors. And thus our Googely-Eyed Monsters were born! 

(all of these are Jack's one of a kind creations!)

I started out by modeling the steps to make a monster for Jack. I cut out a random shape from the foam sheet, placed two dabs of glue on it, set the eyes on the glue, and then drew on a nose and smiley mouth. After reminding Jack how to properly use scissors and how to use glue, I put my example away for a while so that he could be completely creative! 

He loooooved this project! One of his favorite to date! I already knew he loved to cut paper, so that of course was a huge hit. But, he really loved using the glue...

I thought he would go crazy with the glue and use too much....but he did fantastic. I was so impressed. He concentrated very hard and only put on small dabs of glue.

Then, he would take the eyes one at a time and place them on the glue. 

 (some of momma's boring monsters and some of Jack's fabulous monsters)

He finished up by drawing noses and mouths on them. 

I loved see his interpretation of what a nose and mouth looks like. 

He stayed focused on this for over an hour! Yes you read that right...and HOUR! He was really bummed when he ran out of eyes. I think if he would have had more he would have definitely kept going. Momma is going to have to buy more! 

(some of momma's and Jack's monsters)

This project is fantastic because it develops a few different things in your child.... 

Fine Motor Skills. Your child is practicing cutting, controlling the amount of glue that comes out and where it comes out, placing a small object (eye) on a small target (glue dot) and using a marker to draw. 

Concentration. Using scissors, glue, placing eye balls. All of this requires a lot of  concentration and hand-eye coordination! 

Creativity. This was my favorite aspect of this project. It was amazing to see all of the different shapes Jack came up with. I love that he experimented with where to place the eyes, and even how many eyes to place. I gave him complete creative control. I did not correct or suggest anything. (The only thing I did correct was how he held his scissors, marker, etc.)

another great bonus to this project...you can find everything you need at the Dollar Tree! 

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