Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cappuccino Muffins

These are simply amazing! Not terribly good for you, but amazing nonetheless. :-)

Cappuccino Muffins
(makes 12 muffins)

Batter:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. instant coffee (or espresso powder)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
----------------------
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Topping:
6 Tbls. flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup softened butter (cut-in)

*Mix dry ingredients; mix in wet ingredients (except chocolate chips); stir until moistened; add chocolate chips; spray muffin tins with non-stick spray; fill muffin tins 2/3 full.
*Mix topping until coarse; sprinkle over muffin batter.
*Bake at 350F for 20-25 min.s or until toothpick comes clean.
*Let set 5 min.s until removing from tins.

the batter

the topping

topping sprinkled over batter

finished product

so good...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Tin Can Herb Pots

What a cute and fun project for the kiddos!!!


I was wanting to plant an herb garden this year but decided I didn't want to hassle with it. I'm having second thoughts now. I really think the kids would LOVE painting these and planting the herbs. Check out this website for more information.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gardening!!!

Here's our gardening line-up for this year:






The kids and I spent most of our day today out in the garden tilling it up, weeding, planting seeds, and watering. So far we got our watermelon, peas, and lettuce planted. Still have to buy our tomato plants and rhubarb. We were wanting to grow a few more things like squash, pumpkins, and herbs... but with the baby coming and all, we decided to only grow just a few items. We also decided to till up an area for our children to play in... their own little "garden" to work in. Sandboxes are far too messy to clean up after. But dirt washes right off. WAY easier!

Another thing that I'm excited about is a couple of my girlfriends are going strawberry picking soon and have offered to pick some for me. Apparently they think I'm far too pregnant to be berry picking. ;-) (Thanks so much Rebekah and Nicole!) Freezer jam, here I come! We absolutely LOVE homemade strawberry jam in our home.

What are you ladies planting this year?!

Got any organic gardening tips?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Nursing Covers

I'd mentioned in an earlier post that I've got my eye on one of those, ahem, "Hooter Hiders" nursing covers for this new baby. I've finally picked out a gender-neutral one I like:


*Pregnancy Update:

Went to the midwife today and I'm actually measuring at 37 weeks. Since my babies tend to come right at their due date, things have moved up a week. :-) So... baby #4 may very well be coming that second week of June!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Circumcision

After much prayer and research, RD and I have recently made the informed decision to no longer circumcise our boys. Benjamin was circumcised simply because "that's what everyone does" and we don't want him to "look different". Even then I remember thinking it was a cruel, pointless, and unnecessary procedure but had done little research on the subject. So out of ignorance, we "went with the flow". Looking back on it, we both wish we would have declined that procedure.

Many people do not understand what all circumcision entails. (I know we didn't.) Albeit graphic, you can follow the link entitled "circumcision procedure" below and actually view one being performed. Oftentimes it is done without anesthetic.

Also, the literature we read concerning this topic all said that this is an unnecessary procedure nowadays, especially considering people's keener awareness of basic hygiene. One of the biggest arguments we've come across is "cleanliness"- that's it's too difficult to keep clean and can cause infections. But if a little boy can be taught to brush his teeth, comb his hair, and shower, then we believe he's smart and capable enough to know how to clean his private area. (And, honestly, how can an uncircumcised boy be harder to clean than a girl?)

For anyone interested, I've supplied a few resources below.

NOCIRC

Mothers Against CIRC

CIRC information

Circumcision procedure

more circ. info

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate Frosting
Serves: 24 cupcakes or a 9x13 cake

1/3 cup butter (NOT margarine), softened
1/3 cup cocoa (we like Hershey's dark chocolate cocoa)
2 cups powdered sugar
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbls. milk

Beat until smooth. May have to add extra milk to get right consistency.

Amazing!

35 weeks along!

I can't believe I'm so close to delivering!!! Just yesterday my birth kit came in- so now, I am 100% ready to have this baby! It finally hit me yesterday how pregnant I am- it was the first day I truly "struggled". The kids and I went grocery shopping and I was having problems getting them settled in their car seats, catching my breath, bending over, etc. And as I tried to do "normal" mothering things throughout the day, I kept getting Braxton contractions. Thankfully, I was able to get a really good nap during the kids' quiet time.
I'm actually quite happy with the way God designs pregnancy. This being my fourth baby, I still sort of dread the pain of labor and delivery. But by the time I'm 9 months pregnant, I'm am so uncomfortable with being pregnant that I welcome anything, so long as that baby gets out. :-)
Less than a month!!!
So exciting!!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

34 weeks!!!

And boy do I have the nesting urge something fierce!
So far I've completely remodeled our walk-in closet, transferred everyone's winter clothes out and put them in storage, thoroughly swept/dusted/decluttered the master bedroom (where I plan to birth our child & where his/her bed will be), and have pulled out all my baby supplies like: bottles, Boppy pillow, nursing bras/pads, breast pump, lanolin, newborn gender neutral clothes & blankets, etc. Once that birth kit arrives, we'll be good to go to have this baby!!!


Here's what the kiddo sorta looks like inside right now:


Supposedly, our kiddo is now approximately 5+ pounds and is about 18in. long! Only 41 more days to go!!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!!!


I don't know how many of you have heard about the Duggar family, but here's a link to msnbc.com's recent interview with this amazing family. And surprise! They're expecting child #18!

Happy Mother's day to all of you ladies out there!!!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Miscellaneous thoughts

Thought #1: Our family is going to start cutting back on meal portion sizes.

As of recent, RD and I have had (3) different conversations with families about their kids "eating them out a home" and having outrageous grocery bills. One lady friend of our actually had to start babysitting in order to earn some extra cash so they could afford their groceries. YIKES! So then, RD and I started thinking about our own family. Soon, we'll have four mouths to feed, plus ourselves. And, Lord willing, there will be more children coming in the future. Personally, we don't want to be faced with astronomically high food bills.

We've already drastically reduced our grocery bill by meal planning around sales (esp. meat) and shopping at Aldi. We also visit a local scratch & dent store and a bulk food store (Amish?) that have foods and spices ridiculously cheap. We try stretching our food, too. For example: one fryer chicken can supply meat for 2-3 other meals. Once every week or so, I scour the refrigerator and pantry and throw our leftovers into a crockpot and make "leftover surprise"- which actually turns out pretty good if prepared properly :-). And if it's not on my grocery list, I don't buy it.

So anyways... we've done probably all we can to cut our food bill down by being shopping savvy. Now, we're taking a look at our portion sizes. I think just being an American causes us to readily think "more is better". But is that line of thinking true?

During the past two weeks, RD and I have been observing the food quantity and consumption within our home. We both agree we probably eat too much. We should be eating to fill our tummies... but does that necessarily include heaping portions or seconds/thirds? We even noticed that the kids can sometimes pack away as much as we do! That's quite a feat, seeing as how they are about 3x's smaller than us! Just because we CAN eat that much food doesn't mean we should. Just because something tastes amazing doesn't mean we need to keep eating it. And dessert?! Do we honestly need to be eating out of our huge breakfast bowls? It's a dessert... not part of the main meal. We should be eating out of the small dessert dishes. It's meant for taste, not to be filled up on.

Now, I realize that the kids will enter into legitimate growth spurts where they honestly do need to consume more food. We'll handle those seasons as they come. But as a whole, this family is going to start cutting back to eating what we need... not what we want. Let's see what THAT does to our grocery bill. ;-)


Thought #2:
Perhaps we should stop giving our children Tylenol and ibuprophen when illness and fevers strike.

Not quite sure where I stand on this issue, but yesterday got RD and I thinking. Both Benjamin and Cassandra came down with some sort of fever/coughing/sneezing thing yesterday. Like always, I vacillated between the two pain killers/fever reduces so our dear children would feel better. And what was the result? Feverish, sick children that FELT un-sick, and so, wanted to BEHAVE un-sick. I had the most difficult time getting them to slow down, sleep, and take it easy so their bodies could heal. All they wanted to do was run around outside, play in the dirt, and rough house.

Maybe, it would be a better option to forgo the medication and let them actually feel the sickness so they slow down, rest, and give their bodies a chance to heal.

I suppose if the sickness is REAL bad, medication would surely be a good option. But for your run-of-the-mill fever/illness, maybe it's better to just let them ride it out naturally.

What are your thoughts, ladies?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Odd question

Does anyone know if it's alright to mow the lawn while pregnant?
I'm not worried about the vibrations or the chance of getting hurt. I'm more concerned with the level of noise. If I have to wear ear protection, wouldn't that be too loud for the baby?

We brought it home today!

Check out RD's new car!






Sunday, May 04, 2008

33 weeks and counting!!!


Here's what our kiddo looks like (sorta). Sources say that he/she is approximately 4.75 lbs. and 18 inches long. Only 49 more days to go!!!


Saturday, May 03, 2008

Prayer answered!

We are now the proud owners of a 2002 Chevrolet Impala (color: maroon)!!! The GM center ended up deducting a couple hundred dollars from the original price. It was an offer we just couldn't refuse! RD went to the bank this morning and got a loan. We get to pick up the car on Monday, as the GM center is cleaning the vehicle and fixing a few minor problems (like the windshield wipers). We are just thrilled how God answered our prayers! Thank you, everyone, for praying for our situation. We'll post pics on Monday!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Kindergarten Screening (results)

Did we even get any results? It was really a rather discouraging, uninformative event this morning. The only feedback we got was that Arianna scored 44 out of 100 ('average' being around 60). They didn't tell us anything that was helpful. We wanted to know from an unbiased perspective what her strengths and weaknesses were, what should we work harder on, what can we do this summer to prepare her further for kindergarten in the fall, etc. Nothing. -sigh- I'm half wondering if we got slighted because we told them we were planning on homeschooling...

One of our friends from church, Laura, is a kindergarten teacher from another school district and she is willing to do her own personal screening on Arianna. She's already done some rudimentary "testing" when her and her husband came over for dinner a couple of weeks ago. At that time, she said Arianna was at or above what most kindergartener's are when they enter school.

I'd really like to know how exactly they tested her. If they went on her ability to identify numbers and letters, her concept of reading and phonics, and her rhyming capabilities, I can totally understand why her score was 'below average'. But if they tested her motor skills, verbal skills, social skills, character and etiquette skills, art and music skills, her ability to "read" books by pictures alone, etc., they would see an entirely different side to her.

We'll let you know what Laura says in her personal evaluation. But as her parents, who work diligently day-in and day-out with Arianna, RD and I have a pretty good idea already of what her strengths and weaknesses are anyway. We know she's a bit slow in the reading/writing arena, but there is so much more to a child (and to education for that matter) than one's ability to spout off letters, words, and numbers...

Possible answer to prayer...

RD does a lot of computer work for the local GM dealership here in town. They appreciate all the work that he does for them so if/when we're ever looking for a vehicle, they try to take care of us. A few years ago when we were needing a minivan, they provided us with a '96 Plymouth Voyager for a sweet deal. He mentioned to them just the other day that his car died and sure enough they brought to his attention a '02 Chevrolet Impala (maroon) that they got just got as a trade in. The price is right. RD took it around town to test it out. He also took it to our friend, Jason, who owns a local car repair shop to have a look at it. Looks good. So... we'll let you know what we end up doing. Keep praying.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Win a free Ergo baby carrier

For anyone interested in possibly winning a free Ergo baby carrier, sign up here:
http://www.alongfortheride.biz/contest-s/49.htm