Monday, July 30, 2012

Mom Monday- Too Fast

I'm about to repeat the most overused phrase in motherhood

(well, besides be quiet),

they grow up too fast.

It's true though. Even with the stressful days and the times you think why did _____ do _____?!? It really does move fast. Childhoods are over and the real world and responsibilities set in.

But before you think this post is depressing, don't worry, it's not that kind of post. Because even though my girls are growing, I get to enjoy that process.

I get to enjoy watching them interact with this world in the most ordinary of circumstances.

Like tickling each other in the grocery cart.

Or when they try and love a new food.

Dancing to their own drummer.

Learning to color.

Helping each other.

Becoming like Daddy.

Or developing a passion.

Two blessings from God that make the perceived ordinary, extraordinary each day.

So even though it goes fast, it's full of miracles. Quiet, unassuming ones, like making it through a rough day or the impromptu kiss and I love you from your little one.

Blessings, indeed.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why I'm not writing

So I haven't written because we've had a busy and big week so far.

Everything went well yesterday, maybe too well, if that's possible. But now that brings some really big decisions.

Keep praying for us, especially for us to know God's will for our family. Because I know what my head says and my heart, but neither matters like God's plan.

Only I'm not sure what that plan please keep us in your prayers.

Thank you all!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Prayers Requested

Instead of my usual thankful post, I wanted to ask a favor of those of you that pray. 

I'm wondering if you could add me to your prayer list?

I've got a big event coming up on Tuesday that I'm scared, nervous, and actually quite terrified about.  It also comes with a bag of questions, that neither my husband or I are quite sure about.

Now before you all think I've got some horrible disease (besides endometriosis), I don't. So no, it's nothing like that.

But it is going to be a nerve-wracking day, and they'll be a lot of questions to answer after. So I ask that you pray for God's guidance for us, and for us to recognize His will and not our own.

Oh, and for me to not embarrass myself either. ;)


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Worthwhile Wednesday- Substitute Refresher Sweetened with Stevia Extract

So I have a confession to make, I really like the new Starbucks Very Berry Hibiscus Refreshers.

Image Credit: Starbucks

If you haven't heard of the refreshers, these are the new juice drinks that have green coffee extract in them.  I've only tried the one, but I really enjoyed it. The only problem is my wallet doesn't enjoy the daily trips through Starbucks and as someone that enjoys roasting her own coffee it can be especially painful to not be doing it yourself.

After telling my hubby I was going to need a replacement or face finding an extra 20-30 dollars a week feeding my habit, we started looking for some alternatives.

And leave it to my wonderful hubby to save the day!

Image Credit: Tazo Tea

He came home with another Starbucks product- Tazo herbal passion tea.  Now strictly speaking, this isn't a tea at all.  It's really just an herbal drink, but brews in a similar way as tea.

The taste isn't exactly the same and there is no caffeine in this version, but both have a good bit of hibiscus which for me was the main flavor I wanted to recreate. 

It's simple to brew.  Simple pour a quart of boiling water on one bag.  Allow to steep 5 minutes, remove, and then add another quart of cold water.  Store in your fridge.

The price difference is huge.  Consider that you're getting 6 pitchers for $2 more than the one 8 oz drink, it really is astronomical.

Now I like a little sweetner in my tea, I mean I'm southern...but I do not want to add more sugar to my diet.  So I decided to go with stevia extract, since it has been shown to not spike your blood sugar (and zero calories).

My stevia is from a bulk health supplier and contains only stevia.  However, in the future we'll be making our own stevia extract.  My stevia plants are really taking off in this hot, humid weather were having and it's time to get brewing.

If you go the store bought stevia route, please check that what you buy doesn't have other artificial sweetners mixed in with the stevia- sucralose is the usual culprit.

The hard part is knowing how much stevia to put in, too little and the herbal tea is tart, too much and the stevia will have a bitter after taste.  After scouring the internet I started adding 7 drops to each 8 oz glass.  Perfection!  

Now if you want to sweeten your whole pitcher at one time, a good substitute is about 1 teaspoon of stevia for every cup of sugar that you replace.

Serve your glass over ice, with mixed in berries for a cafe flare or....

...just go a little country with a mason jar and a straw.

Side note- The next step for me is to create this tea myself with bulk ingredients.  Any suggestions?

This post is part of Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #36.

Mom Monday- Playing catch up

So I haven't done a proper post about our family life in awhile, so I thought I might play catch up.

This summer has been a busy one.  We started with our summer Kindermusik, then headed to the beach for some fun.  After a fun fourth of July with friends, we started our July events.

Elizabeth has started swim lessons at the local University I teach at,

so far she really enjoys it.

Both girls have enjoyed the new pool we have set up.  We thought with this horrible heat it might be nice to get them a little something to play in.   Of course about a week after we've had the pool, it started raining and has barely stopped.  Good for the garden, but not much fun for the pool.

We've had a lot of fun at our church.  Every summer our church cans green beans to raise money for charity.  Our church body donates the time, supplies, and work.  This year all of us went and broke beans prepping for the canning process.  Even Elizabeth helped out, and I think she'll be a good canner.

Evie on the other hand, enjoyed the wonderful cooking of the ladies at our church.  And let me tell you, we've got some good cooks...

Both girls seem to be growing up so quickly!  Elizabeth is part of the summer reading program.  Every week we check out our books and we've read about 10-15 books each week.  Even Evie is enjoying her books and has a favorite author, Sandra Boyton.  We've check out as many of her books as possible and Evie loves them.  Her favorite is the go to bed book, which we read before nap time each day.

Evie is also reaching new milestones every day.  She can now feed herself really well with a spoon and has added quite a few new words.  She can identify the chickens, tell me what she wants, and even can show people several parts of her body.  The cutest is when she is ready to go outside.  Not only can she tell me "outside" to go out and play, but she will grab her shoes and sit down on the floor for me to put them on for her, saying "shoes."

Elizabeth has a developed a heart for giving.  She's already raised enough change for her first donation to the malaria fund. She was so happy with her jingling envelope.  I wish I had half the love she has, such a sweet girl, and best of all she knows it is all for God's glory.

We've really enjoyed the new moms group we've joined. Elizabeth has a best friend from the group and we've been trying out new and fun things.  Just recently, we headed to Chik-fil-a for Cow appreciation day.  Since we all dressed up we got free meals, and I have to say, my little cows were so cute.

In conjunction with the mom group, we also hit our local play museum.  Evie especially enjoyed dressing up and dancing on stage...while Elizabeth enjoyed everything.

Elizabeth has become my big helper.  She holds open doors, wants to cook with me, and even asks to clean.  Anything to help out, and she's actually really good at it.  Recently she helped me roast some coffee for daddy.  Her job, shaking the beans until they cooled off. She did great!

 The girls are playing more and more together.  It's so cute.  They both especially like the new house Elizabeth got for her birthday.  It's part of the Calico Critter sets.  We got a few new pieces and the girls were super excited.

 Finally, we've really enjoyed all the fun we've been having on the weekends.  Except for the buckets of rain we have gotten recently, every weekend has been so splendid. We head out to the farmer's market, then to the library, and then usually out to eat.  This week we tried a new restaurant downtown, where even our picky eater, Evie ate a bunch.

All in all you couldn't ask for a much better summer.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Taking a break this week

Been a tough semester started and the old one ended.  Also feeling a bit miffed at my employers at the moment, and yes, that's both of them.

So I'm taking a break this week to try and get things back in balance. We've got a playdate thursday at our house and swim lessons are starting today.  So lots of new things to do beyond work...hence the break.

Hope this week keeps everyone well and happy!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Things I'm thankful for Friday

So thankful for good friends who open up their home to celebrate our country's birth!

We had such a great time, we couldn't ask for better friends and neither could the girls.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Worthwhile Wednesday- Make your own diaper cream

A month or so ago my youngest who is still in diapers broke out in a diaper rash.  I immediately thought maybe it was my cloth diapers...only once we got it cleared up not two days later she broke out again while wearing disposables.

Helping mommy with diaper laundry

We haven't nailed down the exact reason she's broken out, but our theory is high citrus.  You see after she had her first lemonade not more than a day or two later she had a very acidic bowel movement and broke out.  We didn't notice the link until it happened again and while on the phone with the doctor we pinpointed it out as a possible target.

Since we've eliminated lemonade and orange juice, she hasn't broken out like before.  This is also the same time we introduced an all natural cloth diaper safe diaper rash cream.  We started using Earth Mama Angel Baby Balm. I would highly recommend it.  A great diaper cream for less than some of the other cloth diaper creams. 

But after using the balm for awhile, I started to wonder about making my own. The ingredients seemed simple and unlike the balm I was using I wanted to add coconut oil which has anti-yeast properties.

So after some research I decided to give it a whirl, here's the ingredients I wanted to use.

Olive Oil – Antibacterial, Antioxidant, Light Weight, Cloth diaper Safe
Plus it is easy to obtain olive oil and while not cheap, we buy ours in bulk to make it cheaper.
Coconut Oil – Antiviral, Antifungal, Anti-yeast, Light Weight, Cloth Diaper Safe
I LOVE coconut oil.  In fact, I have switched several of my recipes to coconut oil.  We are in the process of eliminating all vegetable oil from our house, so it was easy for me to use this as we had already purchased it in bulk.  I can't say enough about how great it is for you skin, but add to the fact that you can actually lose weight on this oil...and you reach amazing territory.  I'll write more on this later.
Tea Tree Oil – Antiseptic, Antifungal, Antibacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Cooling, Light Weight, Cloth Diaper Safe
Now this is important, many people are afraid to use this as you can have allergic reactions to this oil if you have sensitive skin.  However, I like to add it as it is a great way to have more antiseptic properties. But if you use it in your diaper cream, use it sparingly.
Lavender Oil – Pain Relief, Cell Rejuvenation, Aromatic, Calming, Soothing, Light Weight, Cloth Diaper Safe
I love lavender scent and even more so the healing properties of lavender.  There's a reason so many baby products are made with lavender.  I use it in almost everything!!

My diaper station

Now the recipe:

1. Melt 3 parts of coconut oil on low and include one part of olive oil in the mixture. I did a total of four tablespoons of oils...because a little goes a LONG way.

2. Once melted and oils mixed, add your essential oils.  I like to go very sparingly on the tea tree oil, so two drops was my limit in four tablespoons of oil.  I might go with one drop next time. As for lavender, I went with three drops. You could add more based on your preferences, though I would recommend being conservative to avoid any allergic reactions.

3. Pour into your container and place into fridge.  Leave the cream in the fridge until it solidifies.  Then remove and keep at room temperature.

You will notice that under HOT conditions (like the ones my state in under now) olive oil will melt back to a liquid.  No problem, just pop it back in the fridge or use it anyway.

Simple and easy, right!  Apply it like any cream and enjoy your savings, not to mention the knowledge that you are using non-toxic items to soothe your baby's skin.

Now I consider this a maintenence balm.  I use it all the time to provide a barrier between her skin and the waste.  And guess what??  Her skin has never looked better!  Soft and clear. 

Got to love that!

This post is part of Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #34.

Monday, July 2, 2012

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