Welcome to the fabulous and sometimes insane life
of a working mother who is trying hard not to
let her whole existence be determined by her
cute little munchkins, yet continues to be drawn
in by the adorable and sometimes annoying tiny people!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hannigan's Shenanigans

It is that time of year again! Our favorite Elf on the Shelf, Hannigan, is back. The girls are so super excited. He zipped into our lives yesterday, the day after Thanksgiving. We arrived home after being at my parents' house to find this....

My oldest had written him a letter before we left. She told him that he went "crazy" last year dating all of our Barbies. You can see his response.

Then this morning we awoke to these shenanigans:

Our comfort in this mess is that he appears to be an Alabama fan. Which is good on this Iron Bowl Day of rivalaries! Roll Tide Roll!

I will keep you up to date on Hannigan's Shenanigans throughout this holiday season.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Take Control of Your Life

Last night I had the privilege of being able to speak to members of Off Broad Street Centre of the Dance Arts' members of the The F.I.R.M. dance company.

Why me? Well, because the motivational speaker canceled and Mrs. Dana was desperate. I jokingly told her, " I could do my 'Are you stupid class' where I talk about all of the stupid things teenagers do to mess up their lives." I was not serious at all. When I get frustrated with the stupid things kids do, I always say that I should teach a class about HOW stupid the stupid things teenagers do are!

Well, the joke was on me, because that was exactly what Mrs. D. wanted she wanted someone to talk to them about self-respect and always representing your family and the dance company to the best of your ability.

So I toned it down a little and called it "Take Control of Your Life". It focused on the 1st two Habits of Sean Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers:

1. Be Proactive- Be in control of yourself and your choices. You can not control what happens to       yourself but you can control how you react to it. It is the habit of choice.

2. Begin with the End in Mind- Think about how you want things to end up: be it at the end of a test, at the end of a semester, at the end of high school...at the end of your life. What do you want to accomplish? What kind of person do you want to be? How do you want to be remembered? Now, what do you need to do to accomplish these endings?

Here is the PowerPoint Presentation I used:
(Beware: It is not for the faint of heart. It was meant to honestly communicate with teenagers when they need it the most. I did not sugar coat anything. I honestly spoke with them in hopes of maybe getting through to one or two of their pretty little heads!)

Take Control of Your Life

As I went through the presentation, I talked to them about being in control of their own lives. It doesn't feel like you have a lot of control when you are a teenager, but you do. It is about what you do with the control you have that determines how much control you get. So what did I say to them about these topics that most of us don't want to talk to our children about?

1. Drinking: (paraphrased) I know you are going to drink. I am not going to tell you not to. I wish you wouldn't but I am being realistic. I just want to explain to you why it is a bad idea and why you need to be safe if you choose to drink. There is a reason why the drinking age is 21. It is because the human body is not equipped to deal with the effects of alcohol until it is developed completely. That is why evertime I drank in high school I spent the next day throwing up and feeling like I wanted to die. I told them about the only time I ever drove after drinking and how I prayed to God the entire time to help make it. I discussed horrible decisions that I made because of alcohol.

2. Stunts: This was pretty simple. Are you stupid? Do you not value yourself more than to try to be cool to the point that you are endangering your life? Think about everything you do and how it could go wrong. Is it really worth it?

I spoke to them about drugs (all kinds) and sex (how to understand that everytime you do something you are losing a special piece of yourself that you can't get back.) We talked about reckless driving and how you need to slow down and how that text can wait.

Choosing to Love Yourself: This part focused on changing the way you think about yourself, boys, bullies, and friends. We did an activity where they sat in front of the mirror and for every negative things they thought about themselves they had to write something positive. It was amazing to see a whole wall of mirrors full of turning the negative thoughts they thinking about themselves into positive ones.

  Near the end, we focused on Beginning with the End in Mind. I asked them to think about what would happen if on the way home they were killed in a car accident. What would one of your team members say for your eulogy? Then they spread out around the room and wrote the eulogies that they would hope someone would read at their funeral. They were asked to think about whether or not they needed to change to be that person.

For our final activity, the students lined up along the wall with a piece of paper. They wrote their name in the center of the paper. They left the papers in a line and then they rotated down the line of papers until they had wrote one positive thing about each person. When they returned to their paper, they had a positive comment from every person in the group. It was awesome to see their faces as they read the good things their teammates said about them.

  Here are the videos I showed them:

Monday, September 17, 2012

It Hurts to Give

I am the first to admit that I do not tithe the way I should. You are supposed to tithe 10% of your income and the thought of doing that makes me cringe. It would be like 2 car payments if we tithed the amount my husband and I both bring in each month. We feel like we are barely making ends meet now, even though we make way more than most households, I am sure.
Yet, we give every month. It is not what we should give, and every month I try to give a little more and a little more. We are not where we should be but we are trying. I am so glad that God is not just "trying". I am so glad that He doesn't just give me 10%. I am so glad that He gives me 100%, and I am so very unworthy.

What I have found is that when I tithe like I should, amazing things happen. Amazing things are not the reason why you should tithe, but they sure make you see how much God loves you and they serve as a witness to others.

My husband is our financial GURU. He is the one who determines what we can give each month. I have even seen the clenching of his jaw when I tithe a little more than he thinks we can afford. I am glad he is the way he is otherwise we would be in some major trouble in these uncertain economic times.

With that said, I wanted to share a recent tithing experience. Anyone following my blog, knows that I have started a new business venture. I am selling the items I create for my classroom on the site Teachers Pay Teachers.  I have my own Tricks of the Trade store on the site and have started another blog called Tricks of the Teaching Trade.

Tricks of the Teaching Trade
I have done really well with this  business. As of September 4, I had earned about $875. I was feeling really good about myself until I saw in a TpT newsletter that one seller had earned $100,000 in the three months of June-August. 100,000!! I started looking at what I could do to improve sales. I "Pinned" my products, posted on Facebook, shared on Google +, and Tweeted nonstop. Then it hit me...I had not once said a prayer asking for God's blessing!

So I stopped right then and prayed. I prayed that God would bless my business, help teachers find my products helpful in teaching, and grant me the creativeness to create quality products. I then heard God speak...well, He sounded a lot like me...but I still know it was Him. He asked, "Have you tithed any of the money you have earned?"

So at church that Wednesday night, I did one last check of my total sales and tithed exactly 10% of my earnings so far. When I told my husband about it later, I got a very skeptical look complete with some intense jaw clenching.

Up to that point, it had been 7 months since I started selling and I had earned a total of $900 in those 7 months. That averages out to about $130 a month. The night I told my husband, I prayed that God would help me prove to  my husband that I wasn't crazy.

It is now almost 2 weeks later, and my total sales are at 1,315! That is an increase of almost $500 in just 2 weeks. Not months...WEEKS! In fact, September has been a banner month for my little business so far bringing in $440 and there are still 2 more weeks left.

So yes, sometimes It Hurts to Give. Yes, you can always think of somewhere else that money needs to go. Yes, there will never be enough money. But as much as It Hurts to Give, it feel 10,000 times better to give to God. No you should not tithe because you hope you will gain financially. You should tithe because God is good. He is good in all things and in all things He is good.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Love Dare

We watched Fireproof for the first time last night. It was so powerful on many levels. While watching it I realized many things:
1. I am not the kind of Christian I should be.
2. I am not the kind of wife I should be.
3. We are not the kind of family I want to be.

As I watched God worked in my heart. He showed me how satisfied you can become if you drink from Him and fill yourself up with him.

I was saved long ago, and I have recommitted my life ....long ago. But it has been a while since I have given everything to the Lord and learned from Him and through Him. I don't study his word like I should. We don't attend church like we should. We are not being the kind of parents, mates, or family we should.

So I recommitted my life last night. I don't want to feel lonely when I am surrounded by tons of people again. I am going to drink of Him freely and change my marriage, my children, my family...my life.

1. I am starting my strengthening myself every day by reading my Bible in the morning and doing a Bible study at night.
2. I am going to do The Love Dare. We need something. It is not that we have a bad marriage or that we are on the verge of divorce. It is just that I want more than what we have, and I know that we can be AMAZING. It is a 40 Day Dare. Here is the first 8:
You can find the rest here.

3. Finally, we need to be the kind of family we should be. We are working on this in several ways. We are working on memorizing a Bible verse a week.

John 12:35-36

New International Version (NIV)
35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.”

I am going to help my children learn to walk in the light. By immersing them in the Word. We are ABC bible verses.  
We are also learning to pray with
This goes along with the blog I pinned earlier!

Finally, I vow to join a church by the end of September, we have been in our new town long enough that is no longer new and it is time that we joined a church! We will be members some where by the end of September. Now the question is where??????????

See other ways I plan on Living a Better Life by following my Pinterest board.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

TuTu Cute

I love tutus. They are tutu cute!! The problem is that they are sooooo expensive. I mean just for some tulle and elastic they are anywhere from $25-$60!!

So while I was on my weekly trip to my least favorite place...WalMart (see my post I Hate Wal-Mart) and trying to prolong my trip so that I could have at least 30 minutes to myself even if it was at Wal-Mart, I decided that I could make my girls one. And if I do say so myself, it turned out TUTU cute!!

Plus I can use it on Friday nights for our high school football team or for Saturday afternoon to yell ROLL TIDE ROLL or to celebrate the cheering on our first division 1 recruit who is currently starting at South Carolina!!! Do it T.J. Gurley!

You need:
1. 3/4 elastic 1 yd (you will only use 1/2 of it)=$1.50
2. 3 rolls of tulle (whatever color you would like)=$4.50 each

First, measure the elastic to the length of her waste. You can even cut it a little shorter because it will stretch as you add the tulle.

Cut the ribbon twice the length you want it because you will fold it in half. 

Here is a short video on how to loop the ribbon. Excuse the videography skills...my 8 year old took the helm. Also, I can't figure out how to turn right side up! But you will still see how easy this is!

I attached the elastic together at first but it made it twisted the and turned and made it difficult to do, so I finally just cut it apart. I tied it together after I was about 3/4 of the way around. 

I continued the tulle all the way around until it covered up the knot. Make sure that before you tie it you squish the the toile together otherwise the elastic will show through once she stretches it to put it on. 
I hope you found this helpful and are on the way to making your own tutu!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Thrice Baked Potato Casserole

It is ridiculous how simple this recipe is...

Baby RedsĀ® with Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Flavored Mashed Potatoes
4 packages of Idahoan Roasted Garlic Parmesean Instant Potatoes
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
4 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
4 chopped, green onions

Cook potatoes in a large pot according to directions on package. Once the potatoes are prepared, mix in sour cream and 1/2 of the cheese. Spread mixture into a 9 x 13 dish. Top with the rest of the cheese, crumbled bacon, and chopped green onions. Cover with tinfoil & bake for 30 minutes at 375.

No one will ever know you used instant potatoes! That is unless you just want to tell them to shock them and let them in on how smart you are!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Yeah! I Went!

Did you go to Chick-Fil-A today? I did. Although, I must state it was not entirely intentional. I forgot it was "National Chick-Fil-A Day" and had already promised my girls that they could go and play. So we went at 5:00, and yeah it was crowded but it was worth it to get them to behave in Hobby Lobby. Plus, I love me some Chick-Fil-A!

However, I need to be clear. I did not go to support the belief that gay marriage is wrong: gay marriage does not bother me. I am not for it. I am not against it. Yes, I believe in the Bible and it states that marriage is between a man and a woman. But I also know that there are many things that the Bible teaches us that we choose to ignore when the situation suits us.

A sin is a sin. All of us live in sin everyday. Luckily, we do not have to rely on our actions to get into heaven. Jesus has paid our way for us. All we have to do is believe in him. And I do. And with that belief comes the knowledge that I am not in charge of pointing out the sins of others. Or judging others for their beliefs. If that was the case, then we would be in a world of trouble what with all of the drinking and cussing and smoking and adultery and anger and shame and blasphemy and tempting and ignoring of the hungry, the sick, and the needy....oh yeah, and the judging.

It is not my place to judge anyone for what they believe, be it that they believe in gay marriage or that they don't. The owner of CHick-Fil-A was asked his opinion:

In an interview with the Baptist Press and later on a Christian radio program, Mr. Cathy, whose father, the philanthropist Truett Cathy, founded the company, defended marriage between a man and a woman and when asked about the company's support of traditional marriage said, "Guilty as charged. We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit."

That was is it. He didn't stand up and saying, "You are going to hell if you are gay." He didn't say that Chick-Fil-A was firing all gay employees. He was asked his opinion about marriage and he gave it. Was it right? Not the opinion but his right to give his opinion? I thought that was a right that was guaranteed by the constitution under the heading of the First Amendment. 

By going to Chick-fil-A tonight, I was not saying that I am against gay marriage (because I am not), but I was saying that I am supporting our right to state what we believe in. I was supporting the fact that I believe in the family unit. Of course, I do! If I didn't, I wouldn't be married. Does that mean that I think it is wrong for a woman to marry a woman or a man to marry a man? No! 

In fact, I believe that gay couples who have committed their lives to each other should have the same rights my husband and I have. I have several very dear relatives who have loved someone of the same sex for most of their lives, and to see the struggles they have gone through when they are unable to have a say in the medical care or legal problems of their loved one is heart wrenching. 

I believe that the world is so full of hate that it needs more love. So stop hating. Stop hating. Stop hating people of a different color. Stop hating people of a different religion. Stop hating people who have a different beliefs in marriage than you do. Stop hating people who have a different opinions. And for goodness sake...stop hating Chick-Fil-A. Yeah! I went! Their sandwiches are delicious. And, by the way, I went to Disney the year that all the Christians boycotted it because of its pro stance on gay marriage, not because I agreed or disagreed but because I wanted to enjoy the Magic Kingdom...I mean, it's magical!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Our Olympic Opening

I love the Olympics. I mean, I freakin' LOVE the Olympics! I don't really know why...maybe it is the sports, maybe the camaraderie, maybe its the tradition, maybe it represents our hopes of peace for our world. Whatever it is, we are glued to it for the next 17 days. 

So we decided to make it a big deal at our house and have our own opening ceremonies: complete with decorations, events, medals, and international cuisine. We started by creating our decorations.  

We made a border of flags that I drew and the girls colored, and then created an Olympic flag. 

Next we had to plan the events. We left this up to my 8 year old. She likes to plan and is extremely organized, so she fit the bill of our Olympic Games captain! 

We started with the trampoline jump which included a high jump and trick section! Check out my toe touch!! Yeah, I still got it!

Then we moved to the track and field events, where we had one of the youngest Olympian ever participating!

Finally, before we were driven inside by the heat, the gnats (welcome to South Georgia!), and the mosquitoes we had the soccer shoot out.

When we got inside, there was gymnastics, a scavenger hunt, and Wii Fit events! Then we had a medal ceremony, where we used every medal and trophy we have ever received from Honor Rolls, gymnastic competitions, dance, and honors days! Check out who was the Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner!!! 
Speaking of dinner: we had the traditional English Fish and Chips and then I prepared an English trifle.

For the fish and chips:
5 white potatoes
3 flounder or other firm white fish fillets
Garlic Salt
Seasoning Salt
Olive Oil
Canola Oil
Peel the potatoes and slice into thin strips. Place on baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil and toss. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, seasoning salt, and garlic salt and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. 

For the fish, cut the fillets into 1-2 inch strips. Drag through a butter and milk mixture. Coat in a flour mixture of flour, garlic salt, salt, and pepper. "Fry" in a skillet with about 2 tablespoons (just enough to coat the bottom) of canola oil. Cook until brown on both sides.

For the Traditional English Trifle:
2 pints of strawberries
1 pint of blueberries
4 bananas
1 cup of sugar
1 angel food cake (just buy it out of the bakery)
Vanilla pudding, prepared as instructed on the box
Cool Whip
Slice strawberries and toss with half of the sugar. Toss blueberries with the other half of sugar. Slice bananas. Prepare pudding. Get everything ready to layer.
Cube angel food cake and layer half of it on the bottom of a deep bowl. Then layer strawberries, blueberries, and then bananas. Next spread half of pudding on top of fruit. Repeat layers and then top with cool whip. It was light and delicious!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lessons that Stick

In the news lately, there have been countless parents that have been publicized for their disciplining tactics.

There was the father in Texas whose daughter was stupid enough to post things on Facebook about how horrible her family was:

Then there was the mother who posted on her daughter's Facebook page:

And tonight on Facebook I saw this one:

We discipline our children in a pretty simple ways. We talk and explain. We then place in time out. If that doesn't work, we take things away. And if by some reason they continue the same offense or if there is an offense that is so bad and/or dangerous, we will (gasp) spank.

However, recently I found that none of my tactics were working, and I had to get creative. My oldest daughter has recently been having trouble remembering to flush the toilet. It has gotten so bad that my maid has complained, my mother, and even our occasional guest. I put her in timeout, made her write letters of apologies, took her Nintendo DS away, and, once because she repeatedly lied about it, I spanked her.

I came to my wits end, when after I found a present in the toilet left for me by my precious 8 year old, she lied to me again about it. This came after the day before we had been at my parents' house and the same thing happened. So I got extremely creative....creative and probably a little cruel according to some people and a lot cruel according to my daughter.

After making her flush, I made her clean the toilet. I gave her Clorox wipes, a scrub brush, and some toilet cleaner and made her clean from the top all the way into the bowl. She cried and cried and I almost gave in, but then I thought about her going to third grade in August and being made fun of for not flushing the toilet and I stuck to my guns (no pun intended).

She was mad at me for a while, but my job as a parent is to teach my children lessons to help them be better people: better, responsible, and considerate people. But my job is not only to help her learn lessons but also to make sure she remembers these lessons. Not just the little lessons about flushing the toilet but also the lessons about not doing drugs and being kind to others and waiting for true love before having sex.

So yes, I made my kid clean our toilet, but hopefully that lesson, along with all of the other lessons, will be a Lesson that Sticks.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ham, Cheese, Broccoli Ring

This is easy, delicious an nutritious!

You need:
1 cup of chopped ham
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup of chopped broccoli
2 tbsp of honey mustard
1 tbsp mayonnaise
2 cans of crescent rolls

1. Cook broccoli. Allow to cool. And chop.

2. Chop ham and place cheese, broccoli, and ham

3. Add 2 tbsp of honey mustard dressing and 1 tbsp of mayo and mix well. 
4. Separate crescent rolls into triangles and lay in circle with tips pointed out. 

5. Press the seams flat so none of the yumminess will escape.

6. Scoop mixture onto crescent rolls in  a circle. 
7. Fold the points toward the center to cover the filling. 

8. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Patriotic Cupcakes

I saw this on Pinterest and couldn't help myself. They were too cute!

What do you need?
1-2boxes of your favorite cake mix. Yeah, you could make it from scratch but why? It is just as good and so much easier! I always use pound cake because I love it and it is always firm and ready for decorating.

Now you just need to prepare the cake mix according to the box's instructions. 

Next evenly divide the batter into three separate bowls. 

Line the cupcake pan with liners and then scoop each color into every mold. Layering them: red, white, blue.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Top with your favorite icing. I use my homemade buttercream that is super easy and cheap.