Monday, December 27, 2010

Crayon Making

The gift I was most excited about that Kadyn got was a crayon maker.
The crayon can we have is a cumulation of random crayons from various boxes we have collected throughout the years.  There are many teeny tiny pieces in it that are just starting to become unusable.  It seemed so wasteful to go buy new.  If only I could figure out a way to merge the little pieces into one big piece.  When I saw this little gizmo I thought my problem would be solved, and Kadyn and I would have a fun new activity to do together.  What it doesn't say on the box is that it takes FOREVER to make the crayons.  AND it doesn't make an entire crayon.  It makes 4 halves of a crayon.  You must have a little plastic holder that comes with it to insert them in so you can hook them together to make one complete crayon. Really, unless I was melting crayons that were in quarters I wasn't doing myself any good with this thing.  I'd say making 4 little halves takes at least 45 min to and hour when you factor in melting time and drying time.  I had so many little pieces it would take me literally hours to get through them all.  I had a lot of halves already.  I was hoping to make those into complete crayons again, not more halves.  Though I must admit, the swirly crayons you can make are pretty cool. 
 So anyhoo....I think this will just have to be something we pull out on a rainy day to have something fun to do.  I did a little web searching and found another alternative to making crayons.  I needed a muffin tin and foil muffin papers.  There was only one problem for me, I didn't have the foil muffin papers.  I did, however, have a fun muffin tin that was made out of that plastic rubbery material they make now days that are oven safe.  I thought to myself that perhaps that would work as it was very similar to the crayon mold material that came with the crayon maker.  This way I wouldn't have to have any muffin papers  I decided to give it a try and look how it turned out.

So I guess the lesson learned is that sometimes an old fashioned way of doing things is better than the fancy gizmos out there.  I took care of all my crayon bits in one fell swoop.

Bilberry Christmas 2010

We had a wonderful Christmas, just the four of us.  I lucked out and had Wednesday through Friday off.  Thursday we had a nice trip to Springfield to visit the library, go to a cheap movie, and hit Aldi.  Friday was spent relaxing around the house and Saturday all the fun began.  Kadyn woke at about 7:15 exclaiming how Santa had eaten the cookies.  She was also excited to see we had a few snow flurries outside, but no acculumlation.  Bummer.  It really was unfortunate as Santa got her a new sled.  He also got both girls their very own pillow pet, a new full link mirror for Kadyn's room (since she is always running to my bathroom to use mine), and a fur-real kitty (Bren is obssessed with cats right now).  There were many more gifts, too many really. made for a memorable Christmas and honestly, the girls have loved every single thing they got and have been playing with it all.  Click the small pic to see the video.

(for the record, I wanted to put Christmas music as the backgroud sound, but I didn't have any downloaded on my computer.  Oh well!)

From Movies

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Quick diddys

Since I finished all my Christmas sewing early I decided to whip up some things I've been meaning to do for a long time.  Remember when I made Kadyn a water bottle holder awhile back.  She loved it.  We loved it.  It made it so much easier for her, and we didn't end up carrying it around all the time.  Then one day, mysteriously, it dissappeared.  It's been several weeks now, and it still hasn't shown up.   So....I made another.  And while I was at it, I made on for Bren and myself too.  I suppose now that I made another for Kadyn her old one will show up soon.  That's always how it works isn't it?  I did make the girls' holders an adult size, but I used a basting stitch to shorten the straps which I can let out as they grow. 

Then, I made some ID bracelets.  I found the tutorial for these a long time ago and thought it was a brilliant idea.  Kadyn knows my phone number, but unless I remind her of the tune I used to help her remember it, she always draws a blank.  This will ensure that if she gets separated from us at the grocery store or some other public place, she can find someone with a phone to help her call me.  Bren, of course would never be able to tell someone our phone number, so I made one for her too. 

I have never lost the kids in a public place, but it always scares me that they will wander off when I'm not looking.  This gives me a little peace of mind.  They are tough little boogers to sew I must say.  Sewing things that small always makes it hard to be precise.  There's little room for error and it shows up badly when you do screw up.  So, although not perfect, it should get the job done.


A little of this and that

My Mom and Dad got us a dehydrator for Christmas.  Last week I dehydrated apples and bananas.  Yesterday I dehydrated pineapple.  Man does it ever shrink!  It's very good, but one pineapple doesn't make much.  Jeff wants to make beef jerky this weekend, and I'm going to try to make some veggie chips with carrots, sweet potatoes, and regular potatoes.  My food processor slices things really thin, so I think it may work.  Veggie chips are so expensive at the store so we'll see how well this tastes.

Last weekend we watched Narnia II.  At one point some fireworks went off over the castle.  Kadyn asks, "Is it half time?"  Then at one point she leaned back and exclaimed to her Dad so matter of factly,  "Don't worry.  The good guys are going to win because God is on their side.  The good guys can't loose with God on their side.  I learned that from my Mama."

Brennan was down for a nap and I could hear her singing in the monitor.  Ten minutes later I decided maybe I needed to try to rock her to sleep.  I walk into a dark room and in the darkness I hear, "Ga ga boo!"  That's Bren's version of peekaboo!

Yesterday we got a box in the mail from the Chase family.  Inside was a hopscotch rug for the girls.  Kadyn was determined to be able to jump on the squares just right.  She jumped over and over again the whole time I was cooking supper.  At one point she said, "Whew!  This could be a good work out.  I'm sweating!"

Yesterday I filled a big tupperware storage bin with water and threw some kitchen toys in it.  I put it in the bathroom on some towels and let the kids have at it.  They had a ball!  Brennan especially loved it and cried when I dumped out the water exclaiming "Juice!  Juice!"  She was pretending it was juice and taking her little teapot and filling cups which were sitting on the edge of the bath tub.  Only her aim at filling them up wasn't so good, so the water was just pouring down the side of the tub, thus my decision that the activity was over.  She was completely soaked from head to toe, but it didn't seem to bother her any. 

She has gotten really into "nuggling" with Mama and Dada at night and watching a show.  She cries when it's over because she doesn't want to stop nuggling to go to bed.  She is such a snuggler.  Jeff has been extra snuggly this winter as we keep our house very cold to save money.  He's always recruiting some little person to keep him warm.  I was poking fun at him because it's a common sight to see him on the couch covered in girls.   He called that "heaven."

I have been using an advent calendar with sight words for Kadyn.  She is picking them up very quickly.  By the time we are done she will have memorized 25 words.  She even attempted to do a word search the other day and got about 2 or 3 words.  Proud of her.

Brennan is starting to label colors with accuracy now.  I worked on it for some time and she never seemed to get it as she would call everything "wewo" (aka yellow).  Then one day she just pointed to something blue and said, 'Boo'  Next she pointed to something green and said, "gween."  It was so out of the blue, no pun intended.  I guess it did soak in up there at some point. I find it funny that the one color she ALWAYS gets right is one we never even worked on, pink.  Girls and their pink.

By the way, we are no longer potty training. The force was not with me.  We gave a it a valiant effort for 1.5 days with no successes.  By the end she was fighting me to even try to go potty.  When she did, she seemed to think she actually standing up and pointing to an empty potty saying "pee."  It just wasn't clicking and pee running down her legs wasn't even phasing her.  That was my ace in the hole with Kadyn.  She HATED that feeling.  So....I have sewn in extra layers on all the training panties so next time we try, there will be no cleaning up to worry about.  I think we'll give it another go in a couple months.  

Anyhow, I better get on with my day.  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

May the force be with me

I hadn't planned on starting potty training with Bren for another week or two.  I wanted to get through Christmas and maybe even New Years.  BUT...because I am a preparer, I dug the old potty chair out and put it in the bathroom so I would be ready.  BIG mistake.  Brennan saw that and fell in love.  We've been trying to prep her for it by talking about it and letting her watch us go to the bathroom.  She likes the idea of being just like us.

She took one look at that potty chair and it was love at first sight.  She wouldn't leave the bathroom the whole time I was cooking supper.  She just wanted to get on and off and on and off that chair.  She didn't even want to leave it to come eat supper.  I had to bargain with her.  I told her I'd put it in the kitchen so if she felt like she had to go it was right there ready to be used.  She finally agreed to come eat supper.  That didn't work out so well either. She said she had to go every two minutes or so.  I was NEVER going to get through my meal at that rate.  So....I ended up doing this...
Then we all were happy.  Afer supper, I plopped it down in front of the tube.  She, of course, insisted on doing her thing and sitting on it some more.

Eventually I checked to see if anything had happen and wala!  She went number one.  However, she didn't know she went number one because she was SOOOO engrossed in the TV, so not sure I can chalk that up as a win for me.  We celebrated doing the potty dance and she was awarded one smarty from the candy bowl.

When Dada came home she had finally settled for letting me put panties on her and I think in all the excitement of his arrival she had an accident in her panties.  We changed them and let her prance around in them the rest of the night.  Then when it came time to get ready for bed she had a melt down because she wanted to keep her panties on.  She was SOOOOO upset!

What can I say?  I could put the thing away and stick to my original plan but.....I can't squelch this enthusiasm.  She is so excited about this.  She's been telling me for months when she goes #2 in her diaper and sometimes when she goes #1.  I suppose that means she's ready.  I hope I have the resolve to stick with this like I did last time.  Last time I told myself that once we started there was no going back.  I didn't want to confuse her.  So....for now, we're giving it 100%.  I've lined the entire living room carpets with towels.  May the force be with me.

Oh dear, accident number two just happened.  It's going to be a long day!  Toodles.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


*When we went to that show "The Miracle of Christmas"  over Bren's birthday there was a part in the show where one of the characters was praying.  After they finished saying Amen, Kadyn blurts out   "Mom!  Mom!  He said it wrong!  He said almond!  It's supposed to be Amen!"

*Tonight while watching a show called "The Sing Off"  there was a group of people singing the song "You Gave Love A Bad Name" by Bon Jovi.  Kadyn asks, "Why are they saying love is a bandaid?"

*When you ask Brennan what she wants for Christmas she says, "Peasants!"

*Tonight she looked up at Jeff and said, "My Daddy!"

*Her new favorite thing to say is "Uk at me Mama!  Uk at me Mama!"  She picked that one up from sissy!

*Tonight both girls were cuddled on the couch together, just the two of them snuggling under the covers and watching a show.  Kadyn says, "I love you Brennan! ....Hey Brennan kissed me (big smile). .....Hey Brennan poked me in the eye!!!!!"  (All in the span of 5 seconds)

*Brennan likes to request help a lot these days, "Hep pease Mama!  Hep pease Mama!"

*She also likes to request hugs especially when I'm cooking for some reason.  "Huggies Mama!"

*Brennan likes to scribble with crayons a lot these days.  When you ask her what she is drawing every time she says "Dog!"

*Ken's head keeps coming off.  Unfortunately it has been missing for some time now. 
That doesn't seem to bother Bren though.  She's been playing with a decapitated Ken doll for several days.  It is slightly disturbing, but fascinates me that it doesn't even phase her.

*Yesterday it was awfully quiet so I went to see what was going on.  They were both crouched down hiding on the side of my bed.  When I asked what they were doing Kadyn whispers that they were hiding from their pretend mean mom.  Brennan looks at me with big eyes and whispers, "Ga Guyese" (Bad guys)
*They spent most of the morning underneath my hanging clothes in the closet playing choo choo train!  Bren must have really loved it because she insisted I turn the light on that afternoon so she could play "choo choo chain" all by herself in there.

*The other day I began to say a blessing over their afternoon snack.  Kadyn piped in over the top of me with her own prayer that went something like this, "Dear Jesus, thank you for this food.  May it bless and nourish our bodies.  Thank you for baby Jesus.  Help us to have a good rest of the day.  Amen!"  I remarked her how it must have made God happy that she thanked him for Jesus.  Usually she always asks for a blessing over the food and nothing more, so this prayer was different.  A minute later she said, "My heart feels funny."  When I asked her what was wrong thinking maybe she had heartburn from the pineapple she said, "The angels are singing, 'thankyou! thankyou!"

Aw.  I love these ages.  They are just the best!  So cute.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A BIG savings

Sometimes when I look at our budget and bills that need to be paid I feel feelings of despair.  I feel like we've just about cut everything we can cut without being miserable.  There are three splurges we still allow ourselves, netflix, sattelite TV, and highspeed internet which we use ALL the time.  Going out to eat, vacations, and other little splurges are very rare for us.  We've been lucky that we've scored a lot of free entertainment living where we live so I haven't felt like we've been without much ever since we moved. So when I think about ways to save money the only thing I have been able to come up with is cutting our little splurges which give us so much happiness.  

Then it dawned on me the other insurance.  We pay nearly $600 a month to cover our entire family through Jeff's plan at work.  I KNOW we don't use 600$ a month in health insurance.  It feels like we are just throwing that money in the trash.  We've kept it for that 'just in case' situation.  We've also hung onto it because we know we can get maternity coverage in case we want to move forward with another child.  However, saving up for that child just can't happen if we keep spending 600$ for coverage. seemed to me it was wiser to seek out a cheaper plan so we could use the money to save up, pay things off, and just be more comfortable month to month. 

I did a little research and found a plan for us three girls that will cost us only 200$.  Jeff's rates by himself on his company's policy are very reasonable (I need to check on this currently, but last we heard it costed him only 15$).  That's a savings of 375$ a month.  That can go a long ways.  There is no maternity coverage on this plan, but a baby isn't in our near future anyways for the next year or maybe never if God chooses it to be that way, so that's OK.  We can switch when the time comes if we need too get our maternity coverage back.  So for now, this seems like the right decision for our family.  The way I see it, it's either going to help us to save up enough money to move forward with our family, or it will help us have enough money to get through the year with our increased mortgage.  It's really hard to predict what kind of commissions Jeff will pull in month to month, so at least I know with this savings, we should be OK.  My hope is that we don't have to touch it, and it can grow in an account, we shall see.  I'm just glad we're moving forward instead of backwards.  We have a plan.  Now we'll see how God works it out.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Typical Day

People say this to me a lot, "How do you do it all?"

Most mothers know how demanding being a stay at home mother is and can't fathom watching other people's kids too.  They don't understand how it can be possible to keep up with it all.  All I can say is that there is a beauty in it, but there are also some things that make it a burden.  At the end of the day, however, it works for us.  So in case you are wondering how I do it all.  Let me give you a run down of a typical day for us.

7:30-8:00 we awake and get ready (those who wake too early watch a cartoon while Mommy collects herself)
8:00  Breakfast
8:30-10:30 free play time.  This may seem like a long time, but let me give you my rational behind this.

#1 I have to have time to get things done. This laundry time for me, time to put clean dishes away, clean, prepare the AM snack and a little time for me.
#2 I think expecting kids to entertain themselves is a developmental skill that is critical.  It helps them to be independant of me, and forces them to be social with each other working on conflict resolution and team work.  If they are going to be ready for school, they need these skills.  Without it, that transition will be tough.  It is not uncommon for me to spend a lot of this time coaching the kids on how to play nicely with each other and resolve their squabbles on their own.  Everyday it gets a little easier and they get a little better at it.  I really think a big reason I get so many compliments on my children's behavior is due to this time.  They have learned that they can't have Mommy entertain them 24/7.  They have to be allowed to find thier own passions and interests too and giving them this freedom fosters that development.  I enjoy listening to them play while I work on house stuff.  It's entertaining and cute.  Sometimes I will set up a tent for them if they act bored.  Sometimes I'll give them ideas of things they can pretend.  The skies the limit when it comes to pretend play.
#3  The kids are fresh in the morning.  They seem to have longer attention spans for playing nicely with each other at this time.  I want to take advantage of this.

10:30 AM snack
10:45-11:30 Toddler play and learn time with Mommy (we work on puzzles, stacking blocks, shape sorters, labeling body parts, naming animal sounds, etc.  It can be shortened if they don't have a big attention span one particular day)
11:30-12:00ish  Free play while Mama prepares lunch
12:30-3:30 nap time for the toddlers.  During this time the big kids watch an educational show or movie to keep them quiet or they wake the little guys. I clean up lunch and do a short little bible study. When that is over I do preschool activities and crafts with the big guys.
3:30-4:00 quiet activity like play dough, puzzles, wii bowling, board games etc. while I prepare PM snack
4:30-5:00 story time for everyone
5:00-5:30 Pick up the house time
5:30-6:00 free play inside or supervised outdoor time if the weather is nice
6:30-7:30 supper preparation, eat,  and clean up kitchen
7:30 family time or bath time
8:00 bed time for kids and me time or time with hubby or time to finish the chores I didn't get done during the day or time to take a shower etc.

Of course diapers are changed routinely in all of this, and I am also trying to fit 20 minutes of exercise time in for the big guys to help with immunities for the big kids.  All errands have to be ran on the weekends.  Jeff always has to take the girls to any appointments as I am homebound all day everyday during the week.  There are days I want to pull my hair out because everyone seems at each other's throats, or they are whiny, or sick.  There are days I think I could of handled myself a little better.  BUT....there are days that are great.  There are days the kids are so kind and sweet to each other make me laugh and smile.  There are days I feel like they learned a lot.  There are good days.

We don't always follow this schedule to a T.  Some days I'm way ahead of schedule, sometimes I'm way behind.  I just take it one day at a time.  But there you have it. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sweet Saturday

I am all about traditions and to keep in line with my healthy kick I am going to start what's called "Sweet Saturdays."  I really have no idea how long this will last, as this is my weekest area, but I'm hoping I can make it last a long time.  Anyhoo...knowing that sugar is a big problem for me and my family, I realize that something has to be done to keep it under control.  It is a big breeding ground for germs and viruses and I want to make sure that I'm doing everything possible to have a healthy family this winter.  Technically speaking, if we can keep up with an exercise program, eat healthy, take our supplements, get plenty of rest, and keep sugar under control, we should be giving our bodies the best defense we can against illness. 

It's common knowledge that our nation's sugar intake has gone up over the past decades.  It's hard to believe, but sweets used to actually be a once in a while thing; a special treat just every now and then.  Today, at least for our family, it seems we expect a little sweet after every meal.  Some of you remember my desire to kick the habit a couple months ago that failed miserably.  What did I learn from that little experiment?  I love sweets way too much to give them up entirely.  Things like sugar don't have to be harmful if done in moderation. So....I want to live like they did back in the day when sweets were just a "once in awhile" little splurge.  I would feel like a horrible mother if I didn't allow my children sweets every now and then.  They are one of God's little gifts and life's little pleasures afterall.  Therefore, the idea of "Sweet Saturday" has been born.

Basically I am not allowing anyone sweets until Saturday.  Then we are allowed one sweet of our choice.  My hope is that Saturdays will be a little more special and sweets will begin to be something fun instead of something that's expected.  I'm hoping it will be a new tradition that we can carry with us for a long time.  We'll see.  I love traditions.  So far we've started pizza family movie night on Fridays, guacamole football Sundays, and now sweet Saturdays.  Hmmm....wonder what else I can think up?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'm Saul

Have you ever been asked which bible character you identify with the most?  Today in my bible study time I read 1 Samuel chapter 13.  I always try to pray before my readings that I will get some kind of meaning out of the scripture.  That is will strengthen and encourage me.  Not always do I walk away from a passage feeling enlightened, but this time I kind of did. 

As my commentary put it, "Under the pressure of the approaching Philistines, he took matters into his own hands and disobeyed God.  He was doing a good thing (offering a sacrifice to God before a crucial battle), but he did it in the wrong way.  Like Saul, our true spiritual character is revealed under pressure."

I really began to ponder Saul's decisions and then it hit me.  I'm a lot like Saul.  When life hands me difficult situations I usually seek out God's counsel.  When I feel that he is not answering my prayers, I get impatient and take things into my own hands especially when I'm scared about what will happen if I don't do something. That isn't obedience.  At the time it seems harmless.  I feel backed into a corner and that I have no choice.  But really I do have a choice.  If I know something is right in my heart, I need to acknowledge the holy spirit's hand in that feeling.  I need to trust it instead of acting out of fear.  Sometimes what my heart tells me isn't always what I want to do, but I really do believe he speaks to my spirit in that manner.

It may sound confusing so let me give you an example.  Jeff and I are in a situation where we need to have a little extra income in addtion to his income in order to meet our financial obligations.  Do you remember when I took on another baby a couple months ago and just about had a mental breakdown because of it?  At the time all I could see was the security in having that extra income.  Deep down I was scared to take on that extra responsibility of an infant with 4 other children especially since I had been dealing with a lot of behavioral issues with the one year old.  I told myself that if it was meant to be, God would fill the spot and it would all work out.  I had a nice comfort level with the four I was already watching.  There was a nice balance in that and something told me I needed to stay there, but I let fear take over. 

I knew that my littlest gal would be leaving me in December and feared what that meant for our finances.  She would be returning in March, but that would leave a 3 month window that could be very scary for us.  So I took this additional child, the first one who answered my ad,  and hoped it would give me the peace and security I needed to move on with our life without fear.  Did I get that peace I expected?  Nope.  The baby was not a good fit.  He was a very high maintenance baby and it upset the delicate balance I had with the 4 I was already watching. I felt as though I was cheating them.  I felt guilty because of that.  Yet, I also felt guilty if I gave up this child because I knew the burden it would place on us come December.  Satan had his mitts all over me in this one.  However, deep down I knew that the right thing was to let this child go and rely on God to provide rather than trying to do it all myself.  It was a hard decision.  I had robbed God the glory of showing me his provision and love. 

So here I sit. It's December. I am watching little gal for her last week until the end of February.  I did put up signs two weeks ago to find a replacement for her, but this time I know better.  I will not accept a child that is not going to fit into the group I already have; I can't just take anyone.  It has the be the right child so that the other kids aren't cheated and I don't loose my sanity caring for them.  At this point, if I do get an additional child, I will be able to cope as little gal will be gone so my work load will be the same if she is replaced. 

Has God filled that spot?  Nope.  Do I feel I made the wrong decision letting that other child go?  Nope.  Has God provided for that hole that little gal will leave in our finances?  I think so.  Jeff has had some good months in his job.  It seems his commission should hold us over at least for the next two months.  We still have one month of unsecurity, but it just goes to prove that I really need to just trust that little feeling in my heart.  Trust that God has got my back.  Trust that he knows best.  Trust that he will work things out, in his time.  The truth is I could be sitting here right now with a secured income had I kept that baby, but that would have been the wrong decision for us, and I'd be in the looney bin right now.

What will I do if someone desires for me to watch their child?  I will pray about it and I will listen to my heart.  God knows what I can handle.  God has a plan.  Perhaps he will fill that need for the last month of unsecurity through Jeff's job.  Perhaps he will bring the perfect child who will fit in nicely with my group and provide the companionship for little man that I will need when Kadyn starts school next fall.   I don't know.  But this time I'm not letting fear control my decisions.  I'm not going to tearfully plead with God to fill the spot.  I'm going to ask his will be done and then sit back and see how he does it.  I no longer want to be Saul.

At the end of the chapter, it went on talk about how Israel was without weapons.  They were being set up to appear as though there was no possible way for them to win a battle.  God was getting ready to show them where their true strength comes from, himself.  This humbled me and strengthened me.  I felt a renewed hope that everything in my life is going to be OK these next few months.  I felt a renewed hope that I don't have to give up on some of my dreams that seem out of reach.  And mostly, I had a overwhelming feeling of thanksgiving for answering my prayer that I said at the beginning of the my scripture reading that day.  Thanks God!

Angels in the heart

Yesterday at snack time I bowed my head to pray over the food.  Kadyn started in immediately over the top of me with her own little prayer that was like this,

"Dear heavenly father help this food nourish our bodies, and thankyou for baby Jesus, and help us to have a good day.  Amen."

I said, "Wow Kadyn that was a really good prayer.  I like that you actually said something different this time.  I'm sure you made God really happy that you thanked him for Jesus."

Kadyn:  "Yes.  Well you don't always have to pray the same prayer."

Me:  "Really?  Where did you learn that?"

Kadyn:  "Dada taught me."

Me:  "Really?"  (Thinking, didn't I teach you that?)

Kadyn: (a few seconds later)  "Actually you taught me that."

She starts eating and then says, "I think something is wrong with my heart."

Me:  "Oh, what's wrong?" (thinking maybe she has heartburn from the pineapple)

Kadyn:  "The angels are singing.  They're saying, thankyou, thankyou!"

Man, kill me now.  That was just the cutest thing ever!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


So to piggy back on my last post, I wanted to share some information about rebounding (or jumping on the mini tramp).  Today was day one of trying to incorporate at least 30 minutes of jumping for the whole family on the mini tramp.  I also made little man do it too; after all, I need him to stay healthy too.  The kids love it so I don't feel too bad about it.  We broke it up into three 10 minute sessions, so it didn't seem like as much. My main rational was that exercise will boost our immune system.  I had heard that rebounding was very good for the lymph system, but I really didn't know exactly what that meant, so I did a search just to educate myself a little more.  The benefits of rebounding are way more than I expected.  The lymph system is responsible for washing out the germs and viruses and making white blood cells to fight them when they do invade.  So rebounding is LITERALLY an immune boosting exercise because it helps the lymph move those things through your body quicker.  But it doesn't stop there.  Instead of recounting the whole website, I'll just let you see for yourself.  Here and Here.

I think I may have hit the jackpot in choosing an exercise for the whole family.  It's dirt cheap, it's easy, it's fun, you can do it in the comfort of your own living room in front of the T.V., and it boosts your immune system.   About the only downside right now is that Bren is still a tad young to do it.  I guess we'll just have to make more of an effort to play chase to keep her active.  She LOVES that!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Own Worst Enemy

It's that time of year again.  That time when your family and everyone you know is sick.  At least it seems that way to me.  Last winter for our family was AWFUL!  I felt like someone was always sick at any given time.  Why is that?  Why is it that winter time brings out the worst viruses and germs?  Why do kids always seem to catch them?  It leads one to wonder, are those flu shots really all they're cracked up to be?  Seriously!

Health has been on my mind a lot lately.  Since the cold weather has hit the kids have had colds, the pukes, you name it.  We are constantly being exposed as both children I watch seem to get sick first and bring it into the house for my children to catch.  I have caught none of it until the week I stopped running.  For the last 3 weeks I have been coughing up lungs so to speak.  Hmmm.....A coincidence?  I don't think so.  I really believe in the power of diet and exercise to protect you from all those nasties.  The kids are active, but they don't get to run around like they do when they go outside.  I can't always get then to eat their veggies and ALL of us are addicted to sugar, a proven immunity breaker.

I watched another food documentary called "Food Matters."  It just further affirms to me the power of food in our lives to keep us healthy and protect us from illness.  It affirms to me that our health care system has got it all wrong when it comes to medicine.  "A pill for every ill" really should be it's motto.  Why is it doctors never ask you what your kid is eating when you come in for the billionth time for colds, ear infections, coughs, etc.  According to the movie, less than 6% of doctors are formally trained in nutrition and the power it has on our health.  Drug companies want it that way.  Drugs are BIG business and depend on illness to thrive.

One of our new friends is a chiropractor.  He likes to take a more holistic approach to health.  His claims are that if the body isn't aligned, it can't function properly to heal and protect itself.  Nerves are blocked that should otherwise be doing these jobs.  He believes in regular adjustments in all family members to help with this.  I wish we could afford that.  I would totally give it a go.  He has told us stories of babies who were colicky and got better after a few adjustments.  A child with asthma who used his inhaler several times a day and no longer needs it.  It's very convincing stuff.  Of course, he's a big advocate of nutrition and exercise as well.  He feels we are all unnecessarily germophobic because if our bodies are doing their jobs, germs shouldn't matter.  Our bodies should be protecting and healing themselves.  That is what they are designed to do if we give them the proper tools to do so.  He's a very faithful follower of Jesus Christ and I really feel he is doing what God wants him to do.  I think their is a lot of truth in what he is saying.

Oh germs!  I admit to becoming a bit of a germophobe myself.  After last winter it is hard not to.  How I wish I could just let my kids play at the playground without fearing they would pick up every creepy crawly that would lead us to another round of illness.  To not have to break out the hand sanitizer after attending every single public place.  To just relax knowing good old immunities are going to protect us....always.

So this year, I'm trying a new approach.  I'm trying a more holistic approach. No flu shots for our family.  They don't guarantee prevention from all illnesses, just the viruses they think will be prominent for the season.  They so darned expensive anyways.  OF COURSE, I'm all about vaccinations for the big stuff, but when it comes to the flu,  we'll take our chances.  Besides, a small part of me still worries about the controversy of mercury in those shots.

Yesterday I got multivitamins for the whole family and an extra bottle of Vitamin D per suggestion of our chiropracter's wife.  She also recommended eating some raw garlic everyday because it acts as a natural antibiotic.  I think next week I may get some vitamin C pills to add to that list.  The girls are pretty good eaters, but they don't eat as many veggies as I'd like them too. I want to work on cutting our sugar intake down A LOT.  And I want to work on getting all of us to jump on the trampoline to get some exercise in everyday.   All plans will go into full force starting in January.  This is going to be an experimental winter. 
Hopefully I will see a difference.  All we can do is try.

In conclusion I want to  say that Jeff and I have always joked that V8 is the best prevention for illness out there.  Every time Jeff makes a habit of drinking it, he doesn't get sick.  After these last few weeks I'm really becoming a believer.  He's the only one who hasn't gotten sick, and I know he's been coughed on and kissed, so he's been exposed a lot.  When he doesn't drink it he gets very sick, like last winter for example.  Food for thought.

So's to better health. I really hope this works.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Brennan's birthday Part 2

After supper we headed home for cake, icecream, and gifts.  Brennan got a very silly Elmo doll from Tami and Bo.
She got a movie from Dada and a new Dr. Seuss book, and those two dolls I made her a couple months ago.
And for the grand finale she got a rocking horse complete with a red cowboy hat.  She loved it!
The next day, a suprise showed up at our door, balloons and a teddy bear.  Thanks Bama and Baba!
It was a great birthday!  Next up...Chistmas, New Years, and then....gulp (imagine the Jaw's music here) potty training!

Bren's birthday Part 1

Bren's birthday was great.  Kadyn and I made a cake that A.M.  She looked so cute when I let her lick the bowl, but she was very nervous about me taking a picture of her.  She said, "I don't want people to laugh at me."  So to help her realize it was just all in good fun, I put a little on my face too.  Next thing I know she's smearing it all over her face for a better shot.  Guess my plan worked.


The festivities began around 3:00 when we went to the Sight and Sound theater to see the show, "The Miracle of Christmas."  We were able to get free tickets again.  It was an amazing show.  At several points during the performance there were angels literally flying out around the crowd. I was moved to tears at least 2 times.  Seeing the story of God's birth put into action really reminds one of the magnitude of the sacrifice God made on our behalf.  So precious!  So amazing and wonderful!  Bren made it through about  3/4 of the show and then got a little too chatty. I had to take her out for a little while. The tree at the theater was beautfiul. Heck, the whole theater is beautiful!  Upstairs they had a big model of the theater for the musical "Noah."  I know it's tiny, but maybe you can get idea of what it was like when we went to that show a month ago.

There was a nativity scene around the entire Christmas tree.  The most amazing nativity scene I've EVER scene.

Upstairs there was a theater model of the musical "Noah" that we saw last month.  I know it is small, but maybe you can get an idea of what that was like by the pictures.
Afterwards we went out to eat at Tijuana Willies.  I had the most AMAZING fish tacos of my life!  It was the first time I ate fish and it didn't taste fishy!  Our friends Tami and Bo joined us for the festivities.  The girls LOVE them!
More to come....

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Alternative tree

Last year I got to get a new tree.  We had always had teeny tiny trees before and they were kinda falling apart.  I really wanted to celebrate owning our new home with a beautiful new tree.  I was even allowed to buy all new ornaments.  I've always been a sucker for the teal Christmas balls, so I went with a silver and teal themed tree.  Everything else we had went on our other little spindly trees around the house.

We have been making Christmas ornaments during craft time.  Of course, Kadyn really wants to put them on my tree, but I really want my tree to stay just the way it is in all it's teal and silver splendor.  She also has caught the "spirit of christmas" with her Mama and keeps drawing picture after picture and telling me that they are going to be Christmas presents for me, her Dad, or Brennan.  Of course, where does she want to put them?  Under our tree with all the other presents.  I was literally picturing digging our presents out on Christmas morning from piles of drawings.

So I decided to try an idea from another blog.  I made an alternative Christmas tree just for Kadyn.  It sits in her room.  One by one we are making Christmas ornaments to adorn it.  She can put as many drawings underneath it as she wants.  Now she is happy, and so am I.  I love that my little girl is so creative and such a giver.  I adore her crafts too, but I am happy they have their very own tree to hang on just for them.  And as a bonus, I don't have to worry about picking up drawings everyday off the floor because I can just shut Kadyn's door and keep the little gal I babysit away from them.  I know she would've gotten into that and probably ruined them if she got her paws on them.

So here it is.  Not the prettiest tree you ever did see, but it was free, and it made one little girl happy.  A work in progress, but it's all Kadyns.

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

Too one of the sweetest, funniest, adorable kids I know, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  I truly could not imagine my life without you Brennan Avery Bilberry.  You make each and every one of our hearts happier just for being you!

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Greener Christmas

I read a going green blog.  I often get really good ideas from that blog.  One poster said something about wrapping her gifts in cloth.  I LOVED this idea, however, I wasn't sure it would work really well with children.  I thought of making some really pretty drawstring bags to put things in that I could reuse each year.  However, I'm sure little curious eyes and hands would get into that too easily.  Then I thought I could just make different squares of Christmas fabric and wrap things up like you would with paper only fastened by safety pins.  However, the thought of my poor children opening up saftey pins didn't seem very logical either.  Nope cloth was not the way to go this year, or for many more years for that matter.  Bummer!

Then it occured to me, art paper.  I have TONS of it.  I wouldn't need to buy more  paper.  I could make an art project out of it for the kids.  They do art projects everyday anyways.  This could kind of kill two birds with one stone so to speak.  Sure we would be throwing the paper away eventually, and yes that isn't necessarily green. But if the kids are going to make art of it anyways, why not put it on the presents?  So I got to work wrapping them all in art paper.  Then I told Kadyn to get to work decorating them all with colors that would match our tree. She LOVE, LOVE, LOVED it.   I tied some pretty bows (which will be reused next year) and wala!  A little greener Christmas.  Cool beans people!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

In the spirit of things

I've never understood people who get every single person they can think of a gift for Christmas.  When I was on the receiving end of those people I always thought to myself, "Geeze now I feel guilty if I don't get them something too."  I never understood those people.....until now. How Mr. Scrooge was I?

 Every year we have just bought gifts for our little family and that's about it. Frankly it's been a relief considering how tight our budget is. Our extended family agrees that it seems silly to ship things in boxes (shipping is SOOOO expensive) and that really we only need to get each other gifts if we happen to be in the same town over the holiday.  So until this year, it has just been gifts for the 4 of us. 

I know I've raved about our neighbors and how kind, helpful, and awesome they are.  They inspire me.  I want to give back.  I decided to give them gifts this year for Christmas.  It had to be inexpensive, but thoughtful.  Making things, in my book, always saves money.  I didn't want it to be something they'd have to keep as everyone has too many "things" these days.  Food seemed like the perfect idea.  I didn't want to do traditional cookies.  I'd already baked bread for them as thankyous before.  Then it came to me, food in a jar.  If you haven't done this before you'd be surprised how many mixes you can whip up and put in a jar.  There's all kinds of free recipes online like this and that.

So....I bought some jars and a few cheap ingredients and got to work.  It was really fun.  Not only did I get into mixing them up, but I found it very thrilling to decorate the jars.  One things led to another and next thing I know I'm adding more and more people to my list.  I have made 7 jars of chili mix, 9 jars of body salt scrubs, and  4 jars of cookie mixes.  I then made cards to go in them gift bags with them.

Since I was feeling the spirit of things, I got to thinking.  Perhaps when I deliver these, Kadyn and I will sing a little Christmas carol.  Christmas caroling is such a lost art.  Why not?  I know our neighbors would love that.  Kadyn has gotten really good at Jingle bells.

Well's a picture of what I've done.

Frozen in time

Brennan, as I've said before, has hit her language explosion.  You can't always understand what she says, but man does she try and it is just PRECIOUS!  I really wish I could just freeze her at this age.  I guess I'll just have to settle freezing this moment in time with a video instead.  A must watch.  I promise you'll say "aw" and maybe even giggle too!
New words from Darci Bilberry on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Worry....some spiritual thoughts

Worry is such a beast isn't it?  Too many times in my life I have been CONSUMED by it.  Try as I may, it always seems to find a way to creep into my life.  It can be anything from worrying when my children get a fever or as worrying about whether we will make our bills each month.  Try as I may, I am faced with situations on a daily basis that, if not kept in check, can literally slip into every avenue of my mind and break down the faith I have worked so hard to build.

This month has thrown a curve ball our way that has really tested my faith and made me think about the nature of worrying.  It came to me today that worry and faith have absolutely nothing in common.  With one you can't have the other.  When it all comes down to it, to be free of worry you have to give in to your faith and surrender worry.  What's ironic is that even when you think you have surrendered worry, then you begin to worry that surrendering it somehow makes you loose control which in turn dooms you to an awful fate.  Man that Satan is a crafty little fellow.  Sneaking in worry about surrendering worry.  Are you still following me?

There is a truth though to the thought that surrendering your worry to Christ does make you loose control.  When you surrender, you are letting Christ control the situation. You are agreeing to let go and let him work through that burden.  You are putting your trust and faith in his provision and love.  His desire to make you happy and to work all things out to his glory.  How awesome and healing is that?

Today I am holding fast to these scriptures:
"Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you;  he will never let the righteous fall."  Psalm 55:22
" Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Matthew 11:28-30

It is a weird feeling not knowing what the future holds for us.  I usually struggle with this to the point of wanting to have a mental breakdown, but not today.  In light of recent knews we got about an increasing mortgage payment, I should be freaking out right now....but  I have this weird sense of peace that everything will work out, which I can only explain as supernatural.  A faith like this has been built by looking upon my past knowing that he ALWAYS comes through for us.  I know me, and it's not like me to NOT freak out.  It's like I woke up and just said, "I can't do it Lord. I can't worry about this kind of stuff anymore.  I choose not to accept this stress into my life.  It's all on you!"  And the best part....he wants me to cast my burdens on him.  What a wonderful gift.  How free this makes me feel.  I know I will continue to worry here and there.  I'm human and Satan is a persistent fellow.  But not today.  Today I'm free.

Won't you join me in letting go of it all?  You'll feel much better and you'll surely make God smile.  Promise!  Now is the part where you can sigh because it's all going to be OK.  What will be will be and you're going to be OK.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

What a blessed holiday weekend we had!  I know I told you all our plans in the last post, so this is just a quick little post with pics and a few reflections.  Wednesday night our holiday began.  We were supposed to go see the group SIX perform that night (free tickets), but the weather changed our plans, so we watched a Christmas movie with the girls. 

Thursday morning we woke up, ate sweet potatoe muffins, and watched the Macy's Day Thanksgiving parade.  Kadyn really got into that this year.  I remember watching the parade with my Dad each year. After the parade was over, the girls colored while Mama and Dada cooked.

Our Mexican fiesta was AWESOME!  Jeff and I got started on lunch in the kitchen about 11:00.  I caved and ate pork because I couldn't stand the sad puppy dog look on Jeff's face when he asked if the chile sauce would have meat.  It wasn't much meat, so I don't feel too bad about it.  The pumpkin pie I made later was the best pumpkin pie I ever ate in my life.  Here is the recipe if you're interested.  It doesn't have nutmeg, which is why I think I liked it so much. 

 Friday afternoon Christmas exploded in our house.  Kadyn really got into it.  Bren tried to help a little but was too distracted by the wiener dog ornaments and just wanted to play with those.
That evening our good friends Tami and Bo came over and helped the girls and I make Christmas cookies.  Both girls LOVED this!  I had trouble getting them to stop eating the cookies before we were done decorating all of them.  At one point Bren just dipped her spoon in the frosting and started licking the spoon. That officially became her bowl only!  Later we made homemade pizza and had our Friday Pizza Family Movie Night ritual.  We decided to have our annual viewing of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation that night.

Saturday was a lazy day, but that evening we got to go to "Trail of The Lights.  We hadn't been to this light display before.  It was 2.5 miles long complete with a TON of lighted plexiglass boxes displayed with all kinds of scenes which included:  santa's workshop, christmas carolers, the nativity scene, snowman, polar bears, polar express, and many, many more.  All the little characters in these boxes were mechanical and moved which totally fascinated Kadyn.  She cracked us up the whole time with her excitement, curiosity and wonder.  There was a sign that read "Wise men still seek him."  Kadyn's reply was "He's at the North Pole!"  Brennan was just very quiet and observant, but I think she enjoyed it too.

There was different music at different displays and, of course, tons of lights to look at too.  It took about an hour to get through the drive.  At the end we were able to go up into a 10 story tower called "Inspiration Tower."  It overlooks the entire city.  It was neat to see the lighted displays from up high.  The girls were in their footy pajamas because we didn't expect to be getting out of the van.  They loved it.  Kadyn asked before we got on the elevator, "Are there any mechanical people on the elevator?"    

After the tower viewing, we were able to go pick up some free apple cider and hot cocoa.  It really was a neat experience.  Wish they had things like that where we lived when I was a kid.  Our girls are LUCKY!  Unfortunately we didn't have the camera, but maybe we can snap some photos next year. 

Sunday was lazy football day.  Not much to report there.

Overall, it was a a great holiday.  We are truly blessed and VERY thankful!