Faith, Family, Friends, Fellowship, Food, and Fun

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Lately we've been listening to a lot of CDs in the van because the DVD player isn't working. That's fine with me until we have to take a long trip. Anyway, I have tons of childrens' CDs that the kids have grown to love and as a teacher, I appreciate their value to the kids' education.

Sunday night we were on our way to grab a quick bite and one of the kids asked to listen to the Aggie War Hymn. Made this momma so proud. We were on 2818, getting ready to turn onto Wellborn Road and had full view of A&M's Kyle Field just about 2 miles up the road.

The song began with the deep boom of, "Recall! Step Off! On! Hullabaloo!"
Lauren asked, "Mommy, who is that?" I told her the Aggies. She asked where they were and I told her to look out the window. I said that's where the Aggies play football and that's where the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band plays that wonderful song. Her reply was, "Wow, they sure are loud cuz I can hear them all the way in the van!"

I am not sure why but lately Caleb randomly bursts out with, "Some may boast...of prowess bold." Then he stops and says, "Now you!"

That is one song I won't get tired of singing to the kids over and over.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tips on Saving Money

Earlier this month I posted this about my new infatuation with saving more money. I have always been pretty frugal. I don't usually buy trendy things because I know they'll be out of style soon and I can't justify spending money on something that I won't be using for very long.

Anyway, here is what I have found out about saving money:
*Kroger and H-E-B ads come out on Wednesday so maybe Wednesday should be the designated menu planning day.
*Kroger has a link to printing coupons where you download coupons to your shopper card. Hmm...interesting.
*Wal-Mart's ad is here, type in your zip
*Pillsbury offers great coupons
*Betty Crocker does too
*McCormick has recipes that "fit your budget" under $3
*Kraft has a section called Budget Wi$e
*When you use a coupon for BOGO, use 2 coupons, you are getting 2 products!
*Here's the link to Proctor & Gamble coupons
*Walgreens has a link to coupons on their site.
*Link to CVS and to their in-store coupons.
*Smartsource coupons

There are TONS of blogs out there about saving money.

You should never pay full price for paper products because there are always coupons out there.

Don't be afraid to ask other stores if they take competitors' coupons, it's not their money!

The biggest lesson I've learned is that this is a BIG, BIG project for me.

More to come.....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Summer Preview

Spring Break was a nice tease for what is to come over Summer break. I had so many things I wanted to get done, I wrote them each on a note card and taped them to a cabinet. As I completed them, I moved the card to the other side of the cabinet. I didn't finish them all but I was able to get A LOT done. I washed every cloth in the house...comforters, bath mats, mattress pads, etc.. I cleaned out the kids' closets and most of their drawers. I decluttered the top of the microwave and the window sill. I somehow kept the kitchen clean and the sink was empty after every meal. Toys were all put away each night. It was such a great feeling. Oh, did I mention that Stephen was at a wedding ALL day Saturday and left for California on Sunday? I don't have any idea how I did this by myself. I do know that when he got home, it was all a mess again. We won't go there!

Monday I took the kids to the neighborhood playground.

Tuesday morning, after shamrock shaped French Toast with green sprinkles, we went to a friend's for a playdate before naps. After naps, we met another friend at a park. Lauren fell from the top of a plastic rockwall...onto her face! This was at about 4:30. I took her home and tried to get her to keep ice on it while I prepared dinner. I was getting ready to take her and the other 2 in tow to the urgent care office which is 20 minutes away...right before myself! After much debating, I decided to wait until the next day. She was pressing on it and said it didn't hurt.

Wednesday, Stephen returned and we had a much needed date night. We saw the move Taken. It was fabulous!

Thursday we ran errands and took the kids to the playground. I'm sure we did more, just can't remember.

Friday I took the kids to Wal-Mart to buy flowers. That night we cooked out and enjoyed watching the kids play in the yard.

Saturday morning?? Saturday afternoon we took the pictures in the bluebonnets and went out for dinner.

Sunday we worked in the yard most of the day. The flower beds and planters look great! I now have my own rosemary, cilantro, basil, and strawberry plants. I hope to keep them alive through the summer. Late last night, LAuren, Caleb, and I ran to Toys R Us to get a trampoline! We have already spent so much time in our backyard and we plan to spend MANY more days and nights back there as a family so we feel like it is a good investment. We hope to be the one house that all the kids in the neighborhood want to spend their time at. When we got home, Stephen threw some fabulous chicken on the grill along with some corn on the cob that I dressed with some of my very own rosemary.

See? We didn't have to leave town or spend a lot of money to have a GREAT, memorable Spring Break. I just can't wait for the summer!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It's a Texas Tradition


If you haven't ever been to Texas in late March/early April, then you're really missing out. That's about the time that our highways are lined with these beautiful bluebonnets. They are the state flower and we Texans take great pride in them. Bluebonnets are to Texas what shamrocks are to Ireland. A day doesn't go by when you don't see cars parked on the side of the road so families can capture pictures like these. You could say that this Texas tradition was started by Lady Bird Johnson, after her return from Washington, D.C. as First Lady to President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Lady Bird persuaded the government of the State of Texas to seed bluebonnets and other wildflowers along the highways throughout the state. Every spring the flowers return as a legacy of the First Lady.
Here is one website with info. And in case you didn't know, the Aggies have developed a maroon bluebonnet species, oh yes we have! Here is a little more history.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day to ya!

Wow, I can't believe it has been a week since I blogged. I am just enjoying being home with my kids for Spring Break. More on that later.

I've had the house decorated for St. Patrick's Day for a few weeks now. I picked up tons of stuff on clearance at Hobby Lobby last year. We have cute little figurines, wooden signs, a banner, and window clings. This morning we started our day with shamrock shaped French toast on green plates. Yup, French on the day of the Irish. Anyway, I let the kids sprinkle..I mean pour green sprinkles on top and they all devoured them. Abby had 1 full piece of bread plus scraps, Lauren had 2 shamrocks, and Caleb had 3 which is unusual for him because all he eats is peanut butter and quesadillas.

I made some green Jello. I hate to admit that I have never made Jello for my kids before. My mom made it for me all the time. I thought about making jigglers and using the shamrock cookie cutter again but there was just too much going on. For lunch we're going to a friend's house and we'll have shamrock shaped sandwiches. Then the kids will have cookies and if we're really brave, we'll let the kids decorate them.

I don't have anything special planned for dinner...ran out of creative juices.... but we'll have mint chocolate ice cream for dessert.

On to a boring topic- Spring Break and cleaning. Saturday morning I jumped up and started cleaning. I must have done 10 loads of laundry because I decided to do ALL the linens...mattress pads included. Between loads I started working on the kids' bookshelves and decluttering. I don't know what got into me, I just didn't stop. Sunday morning I kept going. I just don't want to spend my ENTIRE break cleaning. I just want to get it done. I made notecards of all that I want to accomplish. I put tape on the back and taped them in a column on one of the kitchen cabinets. As I complete a chore, I move the card over to the right. I can not believe that the kitchen looks a little better every day and I've managed to have an empty sink before bed each night. I have decluttered the top of the microwave as well as the window sill above the sink. I just hope I can keep it that way.

I have really enjoyed being a stay at home mom this week. I love being with the kids. It seems like Caleb is obeying more and more every day and Lauren is obeying less. Well, only on the days she doesn't nap. Abby has started talking. At 14 months old! I'll have to look in Lauren's book to see when she was talking but I don't think it was this early. She has been saying, "Boo Boo" for baby and "buh buh" for bubbles. Yesterday while doing the sign for 'bath,' she said, "baaa." And in the tub, she wanted the ball so she said, "Bah." I also noticed that she calls Lauren, "Ahhhh Nahhhh." I could hear her in the monitor when she was in her crib and Lauren was in her bed in the same room. Later I tested her by calling Lauren and that's what she said.

Right before bed last night, Abby was walking and just fell. I thought she caught herself with her hands but when I picked her up, her mouth was bleeding. I felt horrible. She split that piece of skin from her lip to her gums. It looks awful. I wonder if her bottom teeth came up and split it and if it will grow back together. We all showered her with kisses until she felt better.

The break will be gone before I know it. We still want to get out and take pictures in the bluebonnets, plant flowers in the front flowerbed, get Caleb's 3rd birthday pictures taken, take the kids bowling, and go on a date ourselves. So if I'm not back for a few days, you'll know I'm just enjoying my family!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Caleb's Thomas the Train Birthday Party

What a fabulous party. I wish I had time to do more (becuase I'm OCD like that) but here is how it went:

Even though we found great ideas for homemade invitations that looked like train tickets or boarding passes, we opted for the store bought just so we could focus our time on making the games. Besides, I'm worried that if I sent the boarding passes, no one would remember to bring them to the party.

As guests arrived, they followed the tracks we made with sidewalk chalk to the door and were greeted with blue and red balloons, a green arrow sign with white letters which read "Caleb's Party" and pointed to the door. We had Thomas music playing at the door and a RR crossing sign on the door which read "Welcome to Caleb's party." A large Sir Topham Hatt (made out of poster paper and painted by me) was standing at the door to greet everyone.

Indoor decorations included blue and red streamers and a store bought Thomas birthday banner plus more balloons. I traced big circles on yellow paper and made several RR crossing signs. I made several other white RR signs that said, "Refueling Station" (by the food), and "Freight Drop Off" by the presents. I cut white letters and glued them onto green posterboard to make signs for, "Tidmouth Shed", "Brendam Docks", "The Quarry." We bought a Thomas tablecloth as well as a solid blue one.

Activities: The first station was the Thomas mask making station. The second station was the coloring station where each child received their very own coloring book (I made by gathering tons of activity pages online). The 3rd station was Thomas Memory (which I made on the computer).

Other station ideas I had but did not have time to prepare: Doorknob hanger and Thomas puzzle, decorate your own train cookie, paint your own clay ornament shaped like a train.

To begin the party, I was going to have someone ring the doorbell and leave some packages wrapped in brown paper but we were all in the backyard so I just blew the train whistle, gathered all the kids around, and told them that Sir Topham left a package. It was a book from Sir Topham Hatt. When I made the book, I made sure it had a pocket for the boarding passes and a pocket at the end for the certificates. I printed the cover of the book from Here is what it said:

Dear Caleb and Friends,
I have some very important jobs for you to do today on the Island of Sodor. First you need your boarding pass. (I gave each child a boarding pass that my husband made).

If you received your coloring book, someone will punch your pass for you. (I used a cloud punch that looked like the Thomas logo. My wonderful Aunt Joanie did all the punching).

You will get another punch for making your Thomas mask (

Next, I need you to go to the quarry. You have an important job to do. James has been having a lot of trouble with Troublesome Trucks. They have spilled out all of his coal. Can you help to put it back? "Toss the coal back into the Troublesome Trucks"- My husband created the TTs out of gray poster board and a box. We used black bean bags.

(punch tickets)Next, there is one piece of coal that rolled away. Caleb’s mom is going to show you how to play, “Pass the Coal” so that you all can help get that last piece back into the Troublesome Truck. "Pass the Coal" was played using a black bean bag my MIL made. The kids sat in a circle and passed the coal to Thomas music. When the music stopped, the child holding the coal was 'out.'

(punch tickets) Uh-oh, Thomas had a wash down and his number is fading. Will you help with Thomas’s number? We’re going to play “Pin the Number on Thomas.” "Pin the Number on Thomas. " I made the poster using a transparency and then I painted the poster at home. The numbers were cut using a die-cut machine at the school where I teach.

(punch ticket)Our last game is Thomas Bingo. Please sit down in a circle and you will get your game card.

(punch ticket) You’ve worked very hard today, I have a certificate for each of you ( click on fun stuff).

Now it’s time for Caleb to open his gifts and then we’re off to the refueling station for some cake. Don't forget your goody bag and a balloon when you leave. Caleb says thanks for coming!

Other game ideas: Sir Topham Hatt says (make a hat out of black construction paper)
Bowling- cover each pin with pictures of the different trains
Thomas dominoes

Caleb loved every single gift. His Granny made him the shirt he is wearing. He got some new trains, some Thomas books and a coloring book, a Thomas Color Wonders, a soccer ball, a remote control Thomas, skates, and too many more to mention. He seems to love them all too!

Food: I made the Thomas cake and attached Annie. We created a train (we covered shoeboxes with gray paper to look like Troublesome Trucks) to hold the food and one of the cars (blue) held the "logs" (pretzel rods). We used one of Caleb's toy Thomas' as the engine.

We had Thomas plates and napkins mixed in with blue plates and napkins just to save a little. We had blue utensils and red and blue cups.

Other food ideas: blue jello jigglers cut with train cookie cutters sandwiches cut with train cookie cutters.

Goody Bags- Each child received a red bag containing Thomas stickers, bubbles, candy shaped like Thomas, and a miniature puzzle. Each family received a Thomas CD with Thomas music and a picture of Caleb on the cover. Each family also received a Thomas matching game of their own.

Other ideas not used: rent a party train to come
make a plywood "tossing" game and paint to like Thomas
Save BIG boxes. Cut and paint each to look like trains and let the children wear them...Race?
Printable Thomas calendar pages at DLTK website
Make doorknob hanger-see DLTK website
Make a huge Cranky the Crane as well as "waves" using 3 different sized cardboard cut-outs. Then say that Cranky the Crane has dumped his freight into the water and needs help getting it out. The kids can "fish" it out with a fishing pole.

There are tons of Thomas websites out there. You can find online activities, calendars, paper models, and more. Here are a few:

Please feel free to leave your ideas or comments below. Click on "comments."

Friday, March 6, 2009

Right Up my OCD alley

Oh my goodness. I have already posted about my grocery shopping spreadsheet and I am happy to announce that for the most part, I shop at the best priced place in town, H-E-B. It is also the craziest place in town but that's life. I'd like to wear some football gear the next time I go in there.

Anyway, the local news has been highlighting saving money and comparison shopping. Last night's segment was on the main stores here in Aggieland: H-E-B, Kroger, Albertson's, and Wal-Mart which is in Bryan. H-E-B and Wal-Mart were within like 20 cents of each other and that's buying a bigger box of cereal at H-E-B because they didn't have the smaller box.

Monday on Dr. Phil, there was a woman who was helping a couple spend less at the grocery store. She has a blog that I just found and haven't had the time to really read yet. She had a fabulous binder where she organized all her coupons and weekly ads. She showed how to get tons of food for almost free. That's what I'm talkin' about! She takes the weekly ads with her and if she finds a price higher at the store she is in, she shows them the ad and gets a price match. She said there are some items that you should NEVER pay full price for: shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, cereal, pain medications, makeup, frozen vegetables, cheese, butter, soup, cleaning products, canned vegetables, pasta, pasta sauce, boxed foods and paper products. She explains, “They go on sale. They have coupons. There’s no reason to pay full price.”

What I learned from her is to plan your menus by what's on sale. I'm a great menu planner but I've never done that before. In order to do that, you must have time to look at the ads AND you must be familiar with prices. WHICH I AM NOT!

Since I already had my spreadsheet of foods I buy regularly, I decided to copy and paste those into a comparison shopping spreadsheet. The 2nd column is going to be the regular price at H-E-B. The 3rd column will be whatever prices I can find in the weekly ads. Then in the future, I'll know how much I can save if I wait for something to go on sale. The 3rd column will eventually be the price at Kroger. The 4th column will be the weekly ad price at Kroger. And so on.

It will take some time to fill in the prices but I think in the long run it will really pay off. Now, if I can figure out how to find coupons!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Well write something already!

I know, my blog has been boring lately, but not because my life is boring, quite the opposite.
This is my busiest time of year at work with the TAKS test and TELPAS for English Language Learners. I have tons of paperwork to do and meetings to attend so bare with me.

At home it's pretty crazy as well. I've been neglecting my household chores just so I can get everything ready for Caleb's party on Saturday but I'll make up for my lack of blogging with pictures and details of his party. We thought we went a little overboard with Lauren's Tinker Bell, that was nothing. And we've learned to keep all of our projects until the kids have outgrown these characters because Caleb loves Thomas so much, he just may want a Thomas party again next year and it looks like Lauren will still be in love with Tink in August. She has worn her Tink costume EVERY DAY since she got it last Easter. I kid you not!

So, give me a few days to get back into the swing of things. I'll be back next week! But thanks for being faithful visitors and please, leave me a "Howdy" or something once in awhile, would ya?

Monday, March 2, 2009

More Laurenisms

We have The Little Mermaid in the DVD player in the van. Yesterday we were driving home from church when the part comes on where Ariel is arguing with her father. Soon afterwards Ariel says that her father just doesn't see things the way she does and Lauren said,
"Ariel's daddy needs to go to the eye doctor."