Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fourth of July Hat & Sparkler

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Fourth of July craft

Having been rather un-crafty in the patriotic department for many years past, THIS year seemed to be the year to step up and actually do something with the kids. I can't take credit for the ideas, because I fiddled with several that I found online. Becca @ The Texas Darlings posted a cute picture of her kids wearing a similar festive hat. The sparkler idea was featured at Crafty Crow today.

In the spirit of being festive, we invited some friends over, the mommies did a bunch of prep work, and we all had fun creating!


Fourth of July Hat

Supplies needed

~ Red, white, & blue foam sheets
~ Duct tape {your color choice}
~ Holiday garland {we picked it up at the Dollar Tree}
~ Star stickers

Putting it all together

1. Cut the garland {or destroy a Dollar Tree centerpiece} to use as decoration for the hat. We used most of the stars for our hats and saved a few along with the other spikey garland to make our sparklers.

2. Cut the foam sheets into 2" strips {if you are using 9x12 sheets this will give you 6 strips when laid horizontally}.

3. Lay the foam strips out on the counter. We patterned them red/white/blue and used a total of 12 for each of the hats.

4. Use duct tape to hold the strips together. We used two strips of duct tape that would show as a 'band' on the outside of the hat and one strip that we folded over the back/inside of the hat.

5. Fringe the tops of the foam strips opposite the duct tape. We made 4 cuts/slits on each foam strip {1/2" apart} and about 4" long.

6. Decorate the hat with stars and the holiday garland. We used duct tape on the inside of the hat to hold the garland in place.

7. Fit the hat to your child's head. Once we knew how big it needed to be, we used another piece of duct tape to seal it.

8. Wear it proudly!

Fourth of July Sparkler

Supplies needed

~ a pencil
~ duct tape or painter's tape {your color choice}
~ holiday garland

Putting it Together

1. Cut garland to use for the sparkler and cut a piece of duct tape slightly longer than the pencil.

2. Lay the pencil on top of the duct tape and press the decorative garland onto the tape.

3. Roll the pencil up in the duct tape to seal it shut.

4. Shake and enjoy!


Just Googley It

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We were having a picnic/party with some friends recently and Zachary needed a little help with getting a drink. We don't usually have soda in our house and the kids rarely get it. And by rarely I mean basically never.

One of our friends was helping Zachary and he wanted soda. Tim asked Zachary, "Is it ok with your Mom if you have soda?"

Zachary: "Yes."

Tim: "I'll just check with your mom and make sure it's ok."

Zachary: "Well, actually, I think she said no, maybe."

Very, very true....

When I recently pulled out the computer to do a search on some kid links, Laurianna saw me and said, "Mom, all you have to do is type in the word you want to find out about and googley it."

The moments of Kaleb being little are quickly passing and I'm enjoying every minute of snuggling and cuddling he wants to do with me.

The other day as we were leaving church in the cold, rainy weather, he snuggled up with his face against my chest and arms tucked between our bodies and ever-so-sweetly said, "Nice and warm."

Just melts a mom's heart.

Head on over to Mary's at Not Before 7 for some more Tiny Talk Tuesday!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Friend Makin Monday: Fourth of July

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This week for Friend Makin' Monday it's all about the Fourth of July! I did miss it last week, so I'm happy to see we're getting back together this week. I know for a fact that we'll be having it next week too, since I'm hosting it {thanks Kasey!!} ~ so be sure to check back here next week!

But...onto the questions for this week's Friend Making Monday!!

What are you doing this July 4th?

At this point we don't have any plans. Can you believe it? Nada. Zilcho. Nothing. Contrary to my planning nature, we haven't invited anyone over, planned any big bash - nothing. {You might need to pinch yourself to know that you read correctly when I said I haven't PLANNED anything}. I'm guessing we'll go to the parade our city holds...but we haven't even talked about it yet.

Wow. All that said, I should probably get crackin' on some plans...

What is your favorite dish to pass when attending a 4th of July party or summer barbecue?

Uncle Carl's BBQ chicken. Since you all have no idea who Uncle Carl is, I suppose I'm going to have to find time this week to go buy all the ingredients to make it and plan on having it this weekend, right? Uncle Carl is my husband's uncle and is always in charge of making the chicken when we have family get-togethers.

And by always, I mean the man is up and working for days to get all the chicken marinated and cooked just right. We happen to have a copy of the recipe...and have been enjoying it all year round since I found out that it is super~tasty when it sits with chicken breasts in the crock pot all day too {and now my mouth is watering and I'm going to have to make this for sure this week...}.

If you'd like another great grill recipe, check out the Chicken & Veggie Pizza Packets we made a few weeks ago ~ YUM!

Do you have any July 4th traditions?

If you count a one-time trip to the 4th of July parade a tradition, then there you have it! I'm guessing we'll do it again this year too ~ especially since the kids had too much fun last year!

Share your favorite July 4th picture.

Guess what? This is the closest thing that I have that resembles a 4th of July picture ~ it's Laurianna from the summer of 2004. How pitiful is this?

And truly, the picture was even more pitiful, but I cropped out much of the horrid background. Apparently, I'll need to make up for my lack of prior 4th pictures this year.

That's it for this week! What are you doing for the 4th {and no, I'm not inviting myself over....unless of course you are asking}.

Today's FMM is being hosted by Shawn at Seriously, so be sure to hop over and see who else is taking part today!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Words Unspoken: Winner

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Congratulations to Nikki {comment #8} on winning the book Words Unspoken by Elizabeth Musser.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Putting Fear in a Mother's Heart

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Really, I think fear would be an understatement of what happened earlier this week.

Terror would probably more accurately describe the emotions in my heart.

I'm sure from the title, you've already figured out one of the main culprits involved in the situation. The boys have two windows in their room ~ one slider and one casement. The slider is very tempting for Zachary to open {which he does frequently} and we in turn have had many talks and 'bathroom discussions' about the danger of opening the window...falling out of a window, etc... The slider window opens and has a fairly good drop, but into the garden/grass area.

The casement window , however. has a two story drop onto a cement pad. But because the casement window has a double lock and one of the locks is up high {and we assumed out of reach}, we didn't really give it a second thought.

{Enter the second thought}.

Monday morning I opened the boy's door to find that Zachary had pulled up the blinds, managed to unlock the window, opened the window, and REMOVED THE SCREEN. When I walked in, he was holding Kaleb up so that Kaleb could look outside. Both of Kaleb's arms were hanging over the sill and outside and he was leaning part of his body out of the window.

{My stomach is doing flips as I'm just typing this}.

I'm not really quite sure how I reacted ~ other than quickly ~ to get both boys away from the impending danger. I do know there were many tears {from at least two of us}.

And just a little FYI ~ there's a lovely little screw on the side of the casement handle that allows you to remove the handle from a casement window so that the window can't be opened.

Yes. We've taken the handle off.

No. I haven't gotten over the scare quite yet.

Yes ~ I am so thankful that both of my boys are safe and that there isn't a different ending to this story.

Lawn Mower vs. Little People

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Graphic image for children under the age of two who
have an attachment to Fisher~Price Little People!!

If you don't think your own backyard can be a dangerous place to play...just ask one of our Little People. He's feeling a little disconnected at the moment...

Do you see his poor, pitiful hand ~ reaching for a little help?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Emergency Binder: Household Information

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The 'Household Information' is another document for our Emergency Binder. After our recent need for a plumber {due to a certain 2-year-old} this would have been handy to have on hand a few weeks ago. This document will help you keep track of important numbers for your household: plumber, electrician, heating/cooling, etc... Just print it off and fill it in! This is the sixth document available for the Emergency Binder.

Click on graphic to print

What is an Emergency Binder? Simply put, it's a binder that stores all the important information in one central place so it can be grabbed quickly in any emergency {i.e. fire, flood, accident, etc...}. Something to flip through and have everything handy that might be needed: life insurance contact information, bank contacts, monthly bills/addresses, work information, etc...all organized and put together to help save time in the event of an emergency.

The information you choose to keep track of is entirely up to you ~ if you don't feel it's safe/essential to keep track of certain things, just leave that area blank. There are also blank areas provided to keep track of other important information that might not be on forms. These were created and are relevant for our family, so it might not all apply to your family.

If this is the first you are reading of my Emergency Binder documents, you can find any other ones that I've currently posted here ~ but stay tuned, there are more coming in the upcoming weeks too!

Just wanted to pass along a little something that is Working for Me! Hope it helps you out!

Grass in My Armpits

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I was sitting at the kitchen table the other day when Zachary went racing by me, throwing a piece of black construction paper at me as he flew by.

The paper had a pencil line scribbled in a funky pattern all over it with a big "X" on it. As he went racing by I asked him what it was. He yelled back over his shoulder, "It's a TREASURE MAP!!"

I looked at the map again and as he went flying by again I asked him what the treasure was. He was laughing and running ~ "It's ME!!" and then ran to hide {and giggle} til I found him.

Yes, my little boy ~ you ARE such a treasure!


Kaleb and I were sitting on the couch together the other night and I had my arms behind my head, relaxing a little with him. He started playing with my armpit and then got the most horrified look on his face looking at the {mild} hair growing under my arms.

"Oh NO, Mommy! Grass is growing!!"

{I'll insert here that I do shave...really, I do!}

The next day when we were sitting at the pool {me freshly shaven}, he lifted up my arm to inspect my pits. He had a puzzled look on his face as he asked, "The grass is all gone?"

Must keep up the mowing!

Head on over to Mary's at Not Before 7 for some more Tiny Talk Tuesday!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Will You Vote for Me?

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Voting is now open for favorite Company Girl photos ~ and mine is one of the pictures!!! I'm a little partial to the picture {and I'm shameless enough to beg for your help!}.

What's in it for me? The winner of the most votes will get a guaranteed spot in the Company Girl book and the winning photo will be professionally mounted on canvas for me to enjoy for years to come!

{Photo #62}

I also entered this picture of McKenna with one of our friend's daughters - they had so much fun playing together that night!

{Photo #61}

Cast your vote by clicking on the little star under the picture - it's that simple!

Each person is allowed to cast three votes, so you can vote for my two and have fun looking around for another. Voting is open until Sunday, June 28th. So please ~ vote, vote, vote! :) You can click on either of the pictures to take you directly to that voting page.

Thanks so much for your help!

ItzaBitza Review and Giveaway!

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Computer time is a hot commodity around our house. Especially when there are three kids trying to get in the hot seat and play! We recently received ItzaBitza for the kids to try out {and me to review}. Bottom line ~ the kids LOVE it! They've been taking turns over the last few weeks and enjoy playing it. Zachary is thrilled because even he is able to participate and work the game. I love that it is building word recognition, developing reading skills and the kids are being creative in the process!

What exactly is ItzaBitza?

ItzaBitza is a computer game where your child's creativity constructs the 'world' that the characters, called Sketchies, live in. When the Sketchies need something, children draw the objects for them. Initially, the Sketchies need a house. After the house is drawn {and it can be shaped like a boat or a tree}, it literally comes to life! The character goes into the house through the door and interacts with the drawing your child made.
"ItzaBitza includes five playsets. Each playset is a blank environment waiting for a child to use Living Ink to draw the objects needed within the environment. The blank environments include a location for a home, a camp site, a haunted house, outer space, and a farm. Children read sentences that appear as thought bubbles on their Sketchy. If the child hovers the mouse over a word, the word turns red, grows larger, and is pronounced in the voice of a child. As the children progress through the playsets, the sentences become richer in meaning and construction."
Just a note: My kids have not played with the haunted house aspect of the game, so I can't give you the details on that...most likely they would avoid it. It is one of the later levels in the game.

ItzaBitza also has a free trial download if you want to get a better idea of how your family would like the software.

To give you a visual idea about the software, here is a quick clip to help sum it all up:

The Specifics:
  • Price: $19.99
  • Ages: 4+
  • OS: Windows XP or Vista
  • Available online through 'buy and download' option
  • Boxed version available at Target, Best Buy, Office Depot, OfficeMax and Amazon.com
The Giveaway Rules!! I have two downloads available for two of my readers! Are you interested in winning? Here are the ways to earn up to four entries:
  1. Leave a comment on this post.
  2. Subscribe to my blog by reader or email ~ see the lovely button in the right sidebar? Leave me a comment to let me know when you do {or if you already follow this blog}.
  3. Twitter about this contest and then come back to leave an additional comment.
  4. Let your friends through Facebook or your blog know ~ come back to leave an additional comment after you post a link back to this giveaway.
*** This giveaway is now closed ***

The giveaway is open until Sunday, July 5th at 8pm
. Two winners will be chosen at random and I will announce the winners Monday, July 6th. Please be sure to leave a way for me to contact you {i.e. blog address or email}. The winners will have 3 days to contact me and I will then email the code to unlock the game. If I haven't heard back within 3 days, I will draw another winner.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Book Giveaway: Words Unspoken

This post may contain affiliate or advertiser links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

In 1987 events are put into motion that intertwine lives ~ seemingly at random. A young girl struggling to overcome the tragic death of her mother. A missionary couple in France. A driving instructor and his wife. An up and coming stockbroker. All individuals who face various struggles: depression, deception, a broken marriage.

Lissa, the young girl who's mother died tragically, hears those accusatory 'unspoken words' constantly throughout her day. She isn't good enough. It was her fault. Failure. She'll never be anything. It is through the love and dedication of a driving instructor that Lissa learns Who is greater than those voices and the victory that results.
"When too many coincidences line up, when you feel there is someone looking over your shoulder, you are probably right. Someone big and unseen and all-powerful is orchestrating events in your life to get your attention. Not coincidence. Divine intervention. The question you must ask yourself is this: will I listen to this voice?"
Words Unspoken by Elizabeth Musser is the first novel that I have read by her. At first I was a little puzzled, trying to piece together the various characters and see how they all fit together ~ but in time they do! Musser doesn't skirt around the topic of depression either, having several of her characters struggling with deep emotional issues. The themes of forgiveness, redemption and hope are woven throughout the book.


If you'd like to win a copy of Words Unspoken, just leave a comment on this post and I'll put your name in the 'hat'. Comments for the giveaway will be open until next Friday, June 26th, 2009 at 8pm. I'll randomly pick a winner and announce next Saturday. This giveaway is open only to US residents.

***This giveaway is now closed.***

On my nightstand ... and not sure what order they will be read in...
  • Free Yourself to Love: The Liberating Power of Forgiveness ~ Jackie Kendall {re-reading}
  • A Promise to Believe In ~ Tracie Peterson
  • A Love to Last Forever ~ Tracie Peterson
  • Sometimes a Light Surprises ~ Jamie Langston Turner
  • Finding Favor with the King: Daily Inspirations ~ Tenney
  • Grace Based Parenting - Dr. Tim Kimmel
Be sure to stop by and visit 5 Minutes for Books and their monthly meme called "What's on Your Nightstand?" and also the Saturday Review.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Spring Reading Thing 2009 ~ The Wrapup

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Compared to the Fall Reading challenge, I did MUCH better knocking books off my reading list. This was mainly in part because I was a little more realistic in my expectations of myself this go~round and also because I had four fairly uninterrupted days to sit and read which meant I knocked five books of my list almost right away!

That said, I even added several books onto my list to read and have found some great new reads in the process. I did not finish all of the books on my non-fiction list, but my fiction pile grew {and multiplied} adding several books to the mix.

Here are a few of my favorite reads from this Spring:

Fiction ~ I was pleasantly surprised by the Twilight series. Essentially, I inhaled them. I'd also never read anything by Ted Dekker and he is one author that I will be adding to my list to catch up on.

Non Fiction ~ All three of the non~fiction books I finished I LOVED! Finding Favor with the King by Tommy Tenney is a book I will keep to read again and again. I also recently discovered Jackie Kendall and am learning so much from her newest book Free Yourself to Love: The Liberating Power of Forgiveness. She also wrote the book The Mentoring Mom: 11 Ways to Model Christ for Your Child.


In no particular order, here are the books that I was able to finish this spring:

My non-fiction list:

Finding Favor with the King by Tommy Tenney

The Mentoring Mom: 11 Ways to Model Christ for Your Child by Jackie Kendall

Free Yourself to Love: The Liberating Power of Forgiveness by Jackie Kendall

My fiction list:

The Lucky One, A Bend in the Road, and The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

Blue Shoes and Happiness, The Good Husband of Zebra Drive and The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith

The Butterfly Farm by Diane Noble

Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and New Moon by Stephanie Meyers.

Kiss by Ted Dekker

Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth

How Sweet it Is by Alice Wisler

Words Unspoken ~ Elizabeth Musser


So, what did I love most about this challenge? Discovering some great new books and authors and setting realistic goals. I know that I didn't finish all the books on my non-fiction list, but that's ok! I'm learning to savor the great ones that I am reading and also found that it helps to be accountable with a friend in reading those non-fiction books.

What are some of your favorite recent reads?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Facebook Needed to Be More Addicting

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That is obviously said with HEAVY sarcasm people.

It's bad enough that friends that I haven't spoken to in at least 20 years are finding me on facebook and I feel compelled to catch up on what they've been up to.

And then other friends update their status and let us know the weather, or what they're eating...and somehow it is MUCH more interesting than what is going on in my life. Really? You had Cheerios for breakfast? Skim or whole milk?

If status updates and family pics aren't enough to keep me busy for hours, facebook has roughly a million {give or take a few hundred} apps and boxes and games I can play to waste my day away.

Thanks so much to my friend Libby, I now have a new obsession. Lining up simple jewels in nice little rows {while creepy guy voice reminds me - one minute}. You Bejeweled Blitz fans know exactly what I'm talking about.

I'm just warning you now - DO NOT START PLAYING! I'm serious. It can be addicting. Seriously so. And then if you top my score it'll make it worse for me, since I'll have to try and top you...and this could get very difficult for all involved.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Advil and X-Rays

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You know how many exercise routines are prefaced by the words "Consult your physician before endeavoring any exercise regimen?"

Yeah ~ they were talking to me.

Advil has been my friend over the last few days. Along with a lot of ice packs. If I could throw a few bon-bons into the mix I might just actually be relaxing.

Instead I'm enjoying the fruits of my "no-shoes" exercising {thank you ever-so-much Jillian}. My right feet/ankle area has swollen up rather hideously and Tuesday I had fun at the doctor's office for x-rays making sure that I don't have a stress fracture. So far I'm in the clear, assuming the swelling and pain go away. Otherwise I have to have a bone scan.

The sheer irony of how ridiculous I look hobbling around because I was trying to 'get healthy' is not lost on me.

I'm thinking bon-bons might just be the prescription that I'm needing right now.


My New 'To Do' List

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My new planner just came in the mail recently {love Amy Knapp's Family Organizer!} and then Carissa posted her Daily Docket ... and well, I had to revamp my whole system.

It was just begging to be done ~ really, it was.

Keeping it all to myself just seems a shame too, especially if someone else will actually use it. What good are cute graphics and nice little 'to-do' lists if there isn't anyone to share them with?

I'm rather over-ambitious, so I have plenty of room on my list to add things throughout the day. I take sheer joy in putting something on my list that wasn't there to begin with and then crossing it off {ahem}. It's that sense of accomplishment, I suppose.

My version of the to-do list might have some things that you wouldn't use {like blog post and review ideas}, so I edited my form a few different ways {three more to be specific} and hopefully one of the forms will work for you! I included a small area to remind myself of that evening's meal plan, a space to record any exercise I complete {haha}, and also space to keep track of my water intake. The top part is for things to do/appointments, and the bottom area is for household tasks and blog ideas.

If you click on the to-do list graphic above it will take you to my website where you can download your own pdf copy. Each page in the document has two identical sheets/forms so you can print them off and cut the page in half and have two lists. You can print off all four or just the page that works for you! {NOTE: If you are having trouble downloading the file or printing it off, leave a comment or contact me directly and I can email it to you!}.

I've been printing mine front to back so I can just flip it over when I'm done. The sheets clip nicely into my everyday calendar/planner and I transfer anything that didn't get done that day to the next day's sheet. Just wanted to pass along a little something that is Working for Me!


To go along with the yearly personal planner I created, I updated my to-do list! You can download a copy of it here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Having Girl Time ~ Sorta

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We had company over the other day - some older kids who are 13 & 15 and wonderfully agree to play with our four little ones. The girls were busy cutting up American Girl magazines and having fun doing their thing.

Zachary apparently was not.

He walked up to their 13-year~old son and asked {with his arms crossed over his chest}, "So, do you want to have some girl time ~ just us boys?"

'Bout fell off my chair laughing, I did.

Head on over to Mary's at Not Before 7 for some more Tiny Talk Tuesday!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Friend Makin Monday: Confession Time

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The topic this week at Friend Makin Monday ~ confession time. 'Fessin up to all those things that happen behind the scenes in our house. Those great things that you NEVER see in person but {boy do they ever} happen.

So, here's my list of confessions for today's post:

1. I have gotten just plain L.A.Z.Y when it comes to doing housework. I'm lucky if I sweep the house each day...and have ants carrying off food to prove it. If I can convince one of the kids to do it for me, well, that would be an added bonus because then I don't have to, right?

2. Motivation to do much of anything has been at an all-time-low around these parts. Unless it involves something to make or do on the computer. Conviction however, has been running more on the high~end of the spectrum.

3. I've been conveniently 'forgetting to shave' on swim team days....which means Rick has to get into the water with Kaleb and swim. That water is COLD and I'm under the belief that since he doesn't have to shave every day it's really only fair that he gets the privilege of freezing his bum off.

4. The drive-thru at McDonalds has had more business than ever from me lately. If we're out and about and it's getting late, it's all to easy to get the kids something quick then to deal with the hassle of making lunch.

5. Follow through on discipline with the kids isn't one of my best traits. I threaten to do things and forget priviliges that are taken away constantly. Which might explain some of the current issues in our house...

6. I've been robbing Peter to pay Paul. Since we don't have credit cards, I've been juggling money from different cash envelopes and then get confused when it comes times to put the money back where it belongs. {Note: If my hubby is reading this ~ I've figured the latest one all out, so no worries anymore!}

7. I ate an entire bag of peanut M&M's last week. That doesn't sound so bad until I mention that it was a ginormous bag ~ not one you'd find in the checkout aisle. And I wonder why it's hard to loose that little bit of extra weight...

8. Twitter has been very addicting. Point shown when I was sitting in a seminar this weekend, hoping that I had wifi in the room so that I could log into Twitter. Sad, sad downward spiral it is. Fortunately for me, I couldn't get free access very often.

9. I bought a lovely photo editing software and am still struggling to figure out how to use it. I can do a few things, but apparently READING DIRECTIONS and I don't get along well. Can't figure out why it's not up and running the way it should....

10. If someone calls me to say they are stopping in for a quick visit and just moments away, I do a quick 'sweep and hide' in my house. That doesn't mean I actually sweep. Unless you count pulling off the piles of precariously piled objects and shoving them into all the little cracks where they won't be seen actually cleaning. We have a nice 'L-shaped' counter and much of it ends up piled on the floor and I just stand near it and try to divert attention from the hidden stack. {Note: I would hide the stuff in the oven if I didn't know myself well enough. I'd forget it was there, turn the oven on, and have a HUGE disaster on my hands!}

Those are just the TIP of the iceberg, people. Just the tip. You can just ask my husband. Or my kids!

What confessions of your own do you have? Be sure to head over to visit Kasey at All That is Good for other Friend Makin' Monday posts!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

How Sweet It Is ~ Winner

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Congratulations to Cindy {the first commentor} on winning the book How Sweet it Is by Alice Wisler.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

All By Myself!

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Great Tip to Add Email Link

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Would you like to know how to add one of these cute little buttons into your sidebar so your readers can contact you directly?

Head on over to Homeschool Creations to find out how!

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