Category Archives: Family

More Nap Mats

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More Nap Mats

Two years ago, we decided to do a no-spend month.  A third of the way into the month, God blessed me with a job opportunity, but that created a few challenges, since we had pledged to not spend any money, so I had to get creative with what I had.  I made the two little ones some nap mats for school using fabric that we had, and these worked well for that school year.  


Last summer, I sold one of the mats to a friend because my girls didn’t stay for rest time last school year.  This year, they need nap mats again, so I took the girls to the fabric store, and Sissy picked out Frozen fabric.  I had only planned to make one nap mat, since we still had one, but Little Sister got so excited about all the fabric that I couldn’t resist buying her some fabric too.  


I used Jenny Garland’s nap mat tutorial for all of the nap mats.  I always make just a few changes to her tutorial.

  • If using fleece instead of minky fabric, I only use one yard and don’t sew the blanket, which saves me a lot of time. 
  • For the strap, I cut a strip of fabric the full width (usually 45″) and 5″ wide.  I fold it in half with right sides together and stitch along the opening.  After turning right side out, I sew a seam 1/4 inch along each side of the tube before inserting the elastic.  
  • I only use 36″ of Velcro because that is how much comes in a package.  I go ahead and sew a 1/2 inch seam about 2″ long on the bottom and top of the open side.  I start the Velcro above the seam at the bottom of the open side.  
  • I also do the Velcro step before filling the pillow because it’s easier for me to sew the seams without the pillow stuffed.  


The girls are so excited about their new nap mats!  They have been carrying them around the house and snuggling up with their blankets.  

Now we have an extra nap mat (photo below) if anyone would like to buy it for $15.  I can also make custom nap mats if you are interested.  I charge $25 to make them plus the cost of the materials, which is usually around $25.  

Little Sister’s Big Scare

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Yesterday, we left about ten minutes early to pick big brother up from football practice because the girls wanted to play on the playground at school.  It’s a nice playground with wood chips under everything, and they have played there a hundred times before, so I stayed in the car parked along the curb right next to the playground.  I forgot about the Gaga Ball Pit, but they have played there many times as well, and there were no other kids on the playground.  Not five minutes after we arrived, big sister came running to tell me that little sister had tripped over the gaga ball and fallen in the pit and hit her head. My first thought was that I hadn’t heard any screams or cries.  After I ran over to the pit, little sister was still lying on the concrete floor of the pit, and she was crying but not loud enough that I could have heard her.  I checked her over and carried her to the car, where I held her while big sister ran into the school office to get a bag of ice.  Little sister continued to cry for several minutes.  I found the spot where she had hit her head–a little above and to the right of her left ear.  The spot wasn’t bleeding but looked like a mild abrasion, and there was very little swelling.  Big brother was ready to go by this time, so we got little sister settled in her seat with her ice and started home.  Only a few minutes down the road, one of the kids told me she was asleep.  I pulled over and had big brother wake her up.  She was not happy about that, but we continued home, which was only a few more minutes.  Once home, we switched to one of our rice cold packs, and I continued to hold her while texting my husband to let him know what happened and get his opinion.  Since he’s a firefighter/paramedic, he is used to dealing with emergencies and knows what to watch for.  He also told me I could let her sleep but wake her after 45 minutes.  She had hit her head just before noon.  She fell asleep in my arms just before 1:00 pm.  She awoke five minutes later and told me she was going to be sick.  While I was cleaning up the floor, she went to her room and fell asleep on her bed.  We woke her 45 minutes later and tried to give her Tylenol for her headache, but she refused all our efforts.  We offered her a sip of water, which she took and which didn’t stay down more than a few minutes.  At this point, I was certain she had a concussion and was concerned that there wasn’t more swelling.  I was also worried about her not being able to keep any food/drink down.  I had also noticed her pupils seemed to remain dilated from time to time.  I called our pediatrician’s office and spoke with the triage nurse, who recommended we go to the ER for a CT scan.  My husband, who has seen so many true emergencies, hesitated and asked me to take her to urgent care first to be certain she needed a CT scan.  The pediatrician there said there are rules for children that require doctors to order a CT scan.  One of those is the repeated vomiting, which had continued throughout the afternoon even though the poor child had nothing left in her stomach and after two doses of Zofran (one at home, one at urgent care–she vomited soon after each dose).  So we headed to the ER at a children’s hospital.  We only had to wait a few minutes to get into a room, but it was now 7:00 pm. 

Little sister carried this stainless steel bowl around all afternoon and evening. Several people at the hospital offered her the hospital’s barf bags, but she just shook her head.


The doctor ordered liquid Zofran and a CT scan.  Little sister was so brave and didn’t cry or get upset when we went for the scan.  She refused the nurse’s offer to ride in a wheelchair.  (Have I mentioned how independent my children are?)  She walked down the halls with her bowl and climbed right up on the bed for her scan.  I was able to stay with her, but she didn’t ever look scared.  The lady who did the scans gave her some stickers for doing such a good job.  Then we went back to the room to wait.  She got sleepy around 8:45 pm and asked for me to recline the bed for her.  It was quite chilly in the room, so I asked her nurse for a blanket, and little sister was soon asleep.

She held onto these stickers until she needed to go potty. I placed them on the end of her bed. When she was tucked back into bed, she sat up and asked for her stickers. I gave them to her, and she grinned so big. The way she held onto them and received so much joy from simply holding them reminded me of George Bailey and Zuzu’s petals. Unfortunately, she vomited on the stickers a little later.


The doctor came in around 9:00 pm and said the CT scan was normal.  Little sister had no skull fracture or brain bleeds.  The doctor brought her graham crackers and apple juice to try before releasing us to go home.  She had kept the Zofran down for 90 minutes, so we figured she would be fine.  She slowly ate one cracker and had several sips of juice.  I could tell she wanted to go back to sleep, so I let her drink the rest of the juice and reclined her bed just a little.  Unfortunately, everything came right back up.  I’m sure it was my fault for letting her have so much juice so quickly, but the doctor wanted to admit her, give her IV fluids overnight, and try food/drink again in the morning.  It was now about 9:30 pm, and my husband’s phone had died while trying to update, so I couldn’t reach him.  The doctor was giving me time to discuss everything with my husband, so I told little sister they wanted her to stay the night because she couldn’t keep anything down.  This was the only time she cried while at the hospital.  She wanted to go home.  I told her she couldn’t go home until after she kept some water and a cracker down.  She reached for the water immediately.  She was resolved to make it work.  She ate one graham cracker and took about eight sips of water and kept it all down for thirty minutes, which was enough for the doctor to release us.  


We left the hospital around 11:00 pm.  I carried her out while she was sound asleep.   She slept all the way home and all night without vomiting.  She has had Cheerios, a banana, and some water this morning.  She is happy and acting normally.  Her siblings are treating her like a celebrity. 

In over eleven years of parenting, this was only our second trip to the ER, and the first was not due to an accident.  When she was about a year old, little sister had strep and ran a fever of 105 degrees that we could not get to come down with ibuprofen or Tylenol, so we took her to the ER.  Her fever broke while we were there, so I probably acted a little prematurely on that occasion, but her fall yesterday warranted the trip to the ER.  We are thankful that she is doing well and will not have any lasting effects from her concussion.  God has truly blessed us!

Chillin’ in the Pool (quite literally)

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Chillin’ in the Pool (quite literally)

We had a pool put in a few months ago, but we made the kids wait until the water was somewhat warm (73 degrees yesterday) before we would allow them to swim at all.  It is still too chilly for me (74 degrees), but I did put my feet in today.  

They are enjoying the pool already even though I catch them with chattering teeth from time to time.  The sun helped keep them warm yesterday while I sat in the shade under an umbrella.  Today’s cloud cover is keeping all of us cooler. 

They lined up on the side so they could all jump in together.  They get along so much better in the pool than anywhere else.  That could just be because it’s new, but I hope it continues through the summer.  

We didn’t realize we were down to three pair of goggles, so the kids shared today.  We probably need to buy a few new toys too, although it’s nice not to have too many to pick up.  This pink Puddle Jumper belonged to Big Sister years ago, but the girls love it because it’s pink.  As long as it keeps them afloat, I don’t care which one they wear.  The twins have swimming lessons later this month, so I’m hoping they will be able to swim without the floats all summer.  

But I Trust in You

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But I Trust in You


My children are all in the AWANA program at our church, and I made sure they were practicing their verses this weekend for their club meetings.  The little girls’ verse was Psalm 31:14 (NIV):

But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.”

Trying to teach scripture verses to little ones who can’t read yet is difficult.  I break the verse up into parts and get them to repeat each part after me several times.  In doing this, I usually learn the verse myself, but I am not meditating on what the verse means.  I read Psalm 31:14-15 (NRSV) in my devotional last night and didn’t recognize the verses at all, but I liked what they said.  I decided to look them up in the NIV because I’m not familiar with the NRSV. I just smiled to myself when I realized the first verse was the same as the one I had been teaching my girls all weekend.  


We had an assembly at school today for students, parents, and teachers to worship, pray, and grieve together as we celebrated the life of our precious sister who is now with Christ.  As I got in my car to go to the assembly, the first song that came on the radio was Eye of the Storm, and it brought tears to my eyes and also a smile to my face.  There are some lines towards the end of this song that I didn’t include in my quote yesterday, but I heard them loud and clear today.  It says when “there’s nothing I can do, my only hope is to trust You.  I trust You, Lord.”  God is my Lord and Savior, my help in times of need, my anchor in the storm, my comforter, my protector, my hope, and so much more.  I trust Him with everything. Even though we are sad and don’t understand why our loved one died so young, we know He is still in control.  

The mother of these precious girls trusts God and has been clinging to Him through all of this and posting on social media for everyone to turn to Christ if they don’t know him already.  She requested that her pastor implore any unbelievers in his congregation to accept Jesus as their lord and personal savior.  She has asked anyone reading her posts to message her if they don’t know Christ.  At the assembly, we were told that over 50 people have already accepted Christ in the last two days!  What a tribute to this young girl that so many have been saved through her death!

Almost 18 years ago, my first husband died unexpectedly at age 26 from heart failure.  The pain and grief were hard to bear as a young widow, but after many months, I was able to find joy in the fact that his parents, sister, and her husband had found a church home and become Christians because of his death.  The Bible says God works all things together for the good of those who love Him.  It may not be what we want or how we would have planned things, but God can redeem each death and use it for His glory as we trust Him and proclaim Him as our God.

I pray that each person reading this has a personal relationship with God.  If you have questions or would like to pray to receive Christ, please let me know or talk to a trusted Christian friend or family member.  I don’t have all the answers nor am I perfect, but I know the One who is, and I would love to introduce you to the God I know. 

In the Eye of the Storm

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I am heartbroken. One of my students died suddenly and tragically in an accident yesterday, and her younger sister (also one of my students) was critically injured, but by the grace of God, she will survive. I woke up early this morning, thinking it was all a nightmare, that I had only dreamed this horrific news, but reality crashed over me as I recalled hugging my students and sobbing with them yesterday. There were no words. We just held each other and shared our grief. Please pray for our school, our students, and our teachers this week as we attempt to comfort one another and continue living with a hole in our lives.


I have had the song Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson stuck in my head all week, and I began to meditate on its comforting words this morning as I prayed for the family and friends of my students who were in the fatal accident.  I was reminded that God is still in control and that we can still trust Him even when terrible things happen to those we love.  I have copied some of the lyrics below, but you can click on the link above to watch the YouTube video with all the lyrics. 

When the solid ground is falling out from underneath my feet

Between the black skies, and my red eyes, I can barely see…

When my hopes and dreams are far from me

And I’m runnin’ out of faith

I see the future I picture slowly fade away

And when the tears of pain and heartache 

Are pouring down my face

I find my peace in Jesus’ name

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control

And in the middle of the war, You guard my soul

You alone are the anchor, When my sails are torn

Your love surrounds me, In the eye of the storm


Lord, I pray that you will guard the souls of these young people who may be confused and running out of faith.  We prayed for a miracle, and yet one of our sweet friends is walking on streets of gold.  We know she is even more joyful in Heaven than she was here on Earth, but it doesn’t lessen our sorrow that she will no longer be in our lives.  However, we do not grieve as unbelievers do because we know that we will see her again in Heaven and spend eternity together worshiping You.  Father, surround each of us with your love and comfort us with your peace.  Heal the younger sister and bind up her broken heart.  Thank you for allowing her to remain with us.  We know that you will make all of this work together for our good.  Help us not to lose sight of your eternal purpose as we grieve.  You give and take away, but my heart will choose to say, “Blessed be Your name.”  I ask all this in the name of your son Jesus, who you gave to die for us.  Amen.

New Year, New Goals

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As we begin a new year, I am reviewing the goals I set at this time last year and setting new goals for myself for 2017.  I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions because those just beg to be broken.  I prefer to set goals that are attainable yet challenging.  

I’m happy to report that flossing my teeth became a daily habit for me in 2016.  I only missed two days the whole year!  My dental hygienist even noticed that I have been taking better care of my teeth and gums.  Unfortunately, I did not fulfill my 2016 goal of working out for at least five minutes a day every day.  I did work out more in 2016 than 2015, so at least I am making progress.  Another goal I had for 2016 was to memorize the book of Ephesians.  I’m happy to report that I completed this scripture memorization challenge in October.  I had planned to memorize half a chapter each month, and I was doing well until school started. Then I ran out of books to read while working out, so I spent about a week studying verses from Ephesians for 20 minutes to an hour each day while on the elliptical.  I memorized most of chapter five and all of chapter six in record time that week!  The whole book of Ephesians is now on my weekly review ring, but I’ve been trying to review more than once a week because we will be studying Ephesians at church this spring, and I want to keep it fresh in my mind.

For 2017, I want to lose a few more pounds and then maintain that weight.  I did not reach my goal weight by the end of November, but I had made tremendous progress.  Between Christmas and New Year’s, I put on a several pounds, but those came off quickly this week.  I weighed 129.8 this morning, and that’s where my weight has hovered for a few months.  It’s time to shed those last five pounds!  I have been working out every day this week, and I am keeping a log of my workouts.  Along with my cardio exercise on our elliptical, I do two sets of my age in crunches each day and one set of 15 squats.  (I’ve learned that my knees can only handle 15 squats a day.)  I want to tone my arms and build muscle because I arm-wrestled my son last week, and he won!  He’s not quite eleven years old.  I need to stay stronger than him for a few more years at least, so I have been doing bicep curls, tricep extensions, and tricep kickbacks in addition to push-ups each day (except rest days).  I have researched types of push-ups and why you should do your age in push-ups each day, and I have been working towards doing a set of 38 full push-ups for a few months now.  I have gotten so much stronger and faster, my feet are close together now (not several inches apart, which was easier), and I’m getting closer to the floor on my push-ups.  Many people say they can’t do push-ups, but anyone can do a wall push-up and progressively reduce the incline as they get stronger. I challenge you to get to your age (or at least half if you are over 50) in push-ups by the end of 2017.  


I am now memorizing Psalm 119, which contains 176 verses, making it the longest chapter in the Bible!  The whole book of Ephesians only has 155 verses, so it will definitely be a challenge to completely memorize the whole chapter this year.  This acrostic poem is divided into 22 stanzas, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, so I will need to memorize approximately two stanzas a month.  Fortunately, I started several weeks ago and have already memorized 12 verses.  I only have 154 to go!

What goals have you made for 2017?

Setbacks & Holdups

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On October 25th, I weighed myself in the morning and just stood there grinning.  I hadn’t seen a number under 130 since early 2011, and there it was on the screen of my digital scales.  I had lost 17 pounds since July 26th, but I had only lost four pounds for the month of October.  Then I encountered setbacks in the form of increased stress with my husband out of town for two weeks, hormone-induced cravings that conquered my self-control, and exhaustion that prevented me from waking up early enough to work out before school.

I have been too busy with school and the kids’ activities that I haven’t had time to write this post for the past two weeks.  I took all my measurements and photos on the first, and they’ve been sitting in my phone, waiting for me to share them.  I don’t really have time to do this right now, but I am in need of accountability to get me through the next two weeks of this month.  I am holding steady between 129.5 and 130.5.  I knew this leveling-off would happen eventually, but I have also been eating too much.  We have too many sweets in the house, but I think I have finished off just about everything that I enjoy, so it’s time to get back on track. 

My official weight on November 1st was 130.4, only three pounds less than on October 1st.  However, I lost just over an inch each on my waist and my hips, almost an inch on my thigh, and a half-inch on my arm.  Below are my photos from July 26th and November 1st.  

October Menu & a Recipe

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I have been so busy with everything school-related that I let October sneak up on me.  Fortunately, I knew I didn’t have to worry about the first two days of this month because we had church functions both Saturday and Sunday evening.  I feel like I repeat a lot of meals every month, but those are our favorites.  I have added a couple of new recipes that I found on Pinterest, and I also added some soups because it’s getting cooler, and soups are easy and perfect for the crockpot on busy days.  I have included a recipe (below the menu) that I have made before but not in a long time.  I can’t remember where I got this recipe, but it might have come from a Pampered Chef cook book.  Planning this month’s menu was a challenge due to several meetings (mostly my husband but a couple for me), our church activities, and fall events.  Fortunately, we can have leftovers every night that we are home.  I ❤️ leftovers!

  1. Dinner out
  2. Dinner out
  3. Chicken cordon bleu
  4. Leftovers
  5. Mexican Skillet Casserole
  6. Leftovers
  7. Baked Ravioli
  8. Dinner out
  9. Dinner out
  10. Fishsticks and popcorn/butterfly shrimp (from the freezer for a quick meal)
  11. Leftovers
  12. Spicy Sausage Pasta
  13. Leftovers
  14. Grilled chicken, Lyonnaise Potatoes
  15. Dinner out
  16. Dinner out
  17. Meat & Potato Casserole
  18. Cajun Shrimp Quinoa Casserole
  19. Southwest Skillet Chicken & Rice
  20. Leftovers
  21. Parmesan chicken and pasta (see below for recipe)
  22. Dinner out
  23. Dinner out
  24. Chili
  25. Leftovers
  26. Spaghetti
  27. Chicken tortilla soup
  28. Leftovers/Dinner out
  29. Dinner out
  30. Dinner out
  31. Taco Soup


Parmesan Chicken and Pasta (lighter version)

1 lb chicken breasts

2 egg whites

1 garlic clove 

1 cup croutons, crumbled

1/4 cup fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1 tsp dried oregano

1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper

2 TBSP flour

8 oz pasta

2 cups pasta sauce

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Trim chicken and cut to make four pieces.  In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until frothy.  Press/crush garlic and mix into egg whites.  Add crushed croutons and grated Parmigiano Reggiano to bowl.  Add oregano and pepper; mix well.  Coat chicken breasts with flour.  Then, dip the pieces in the egg white mixture, coating both sides and shaking off the excess.  Place chicken on baking stone and spray the top of each piece lightly with oil.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center.  Meanwhile, cook pasta and heat sauce.  When everything is done, place a serving of pasta on each plate.  Top with chicken, 1/2 cup sauce, and 1 TBSP mozzarella.  

First Goal Exceeded!

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First Goal Exceeded!

I am so excited about beating my weight loss goal of five pounds for August!  After a rough two weeks with no loss, I buckled down the last 10 days of the month and started really watching what I ate.  It paid off more than I expected. 


Since August 1st, I have lost 5.8 pounds.  I have lost 1.5 inches on my waist at my belly button and 1.25 inches on my waist at its narrowest, 3/4 inch on my hips, 1/2 inch on each thigh, and 3/8 inch on my upper arm.  I gained 3/8 inch on my calf unfortunately. 


I can’t tell much difference between my photos a month ago and today.  My kids took the photos, so it was hard to get the exact same angle.  My son said my butt looked smaller, and I agree, but it could just be the different angle.  The capri pants I wore yesterday were hanging about three inches too low by the end of the day, so I have definitely lost inches.  It’s wonderful to see some progress.  Just 14 pounds to go!


If you are taking this weight loss journey with me, let me know how you did for August.  Let’s encourage each other to continue moving more and eating less. 

September Menu

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September Menu

I started working on our menu for next month over the weekend, but I was not able to complete it until Monday afternoon.  I love having a plan.  It helps me plan my grocery shopping list and keeps me from becoming stressed over what to cook each evening.  Links will be included for specific recipes.  I hope this list will give you some ideas, new recipes to try, or motivation to plan your menu.  I have made almost all of these recipes several times, and many of them are family favorites.  Maybe you will find a new favorite for your family.  

  1. Leftovers/yoyo (your on your own)
  2. Spicy Shrimp Pasta in Garlic Tomato Cream Sauce
  3. Dinner Out
  4. Bacon, scrambled eggs, Biscuits, fresh fruit
  5. Hamburgers
  6. Cajun Chicken Pasta
  7. Crockpot Sloppy Joes/Stuffed Bell Peppers (low carb, gluten-free alternative)
  8. Leftovers/yoyo
  9. Chicken Cordon Bleu
  10. Dinner Out
  11. Chicken Fajitas (grill extra meat)
  12. Grilled Chicken Salads (leftover chicken from previous night)
  13. Leftovers/yoyo
  14. Spaghetti
  15. Leftovers/yoyo
  16. Southwest Skillet Chicken and Rice
  17. Dinner Out
  18. Sausage, scrambled eggs, Pancakes, fresh fruit
  19. Cheesy Chicken and Tater Tot Casserole (crockpot)
  20. Tacos
  21. Grilled Chicken, Tex Mex Pasta Salad
  22. Leftovers/yoyo
  23. Hobo Dinners
  24. Dinner Out
  25. Tortilla Chip and Pepper Jack Crusted Chicken
  26. Spicy Sausage Pasta
  27. Leftovers/yoyo
  28. Chicken Enchilada Casserole
  29. Leftovers/yoyo
  30. Baked Ravioli

Now I want to share a little tip that has made my life easier.  We purchased a new set of stainless steel cookware about three years ago.  This was my first experience cooking with stainless steel, and I hated how difficult they were to clean, especially after browning or sautéing meat.  

Even after soaking and scrubbing, the pots and pans would have cloudy white spots all over the inside.  About a year ago, I read somewhere that tomato products would fix this problem, so I tried squirting some ketchup in the pan and adding a little water.  


I heated this mixture over low heat for a few minutes and gently scraped with my nylon spoon, and all of that cooked-on residue came right off!  I have used pasta sauce, tomato paste, salsa, diced tomatoes, etc.  Once the acid in the tomatoes has worked its magic, simply wash and dry the pan as usual.  Now I love using my stainless steel cookware!