Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fresh Organic Basil

About a month ago I tried to use my organically grown basil plant for some cooking. I had tons of extra and I didn't want to waste any. So I researched frugal and easy ways to freeze fresh basil. Here is what I did (with the help of my 4 year old) in three easy steps:

Step 1 - cut the basil leaves off your basil bush (or buy some from the store, its much cheaper to grow your own 1.50 at Lowe's!) I read that for everywhere you cut, two basil leaves will grow back on the bush (we're still investigating that claim!). Leave enough extra on the bush to encourage growth, don't hack the whole thing off! It takes about a month for the growth to come back, I've added another basil plant for this reason, so I alternate cutting them back every other month. Then wash the leaves thoroughly and lay to dry on a towel.

Step 2 - place basil leaves in a food processor or blender, add extra virgin olive oil (Costco has a great price 24.00 or so for almost a gallon, it will last a long time!), enough to liquify the mixture. I added 1 cup for every 10 leaves, but it really depends on how much you like basil! You can also add other herbs like garlic cloves to your mixture. Then blend until liquefied.

Step 3 - pour basil mixture into ice cube trays and place in the freezer for 12+ hours. After the cubes are completely frozen empty into a Ziploc bag and date. The cubes should last in a deep freezer for up to a year - by moving them when frozen, the cubes shouldn't't stick together making it really easy to grab a few each time you are baking! Remember the FIFO method - first in first out. Use the oldest date first yo insure you don't have to throw any away due to freezer burn. Then the next time you want to cook with basil, throw in a cube or two and enjoy!

Friday, May 29, 2009

First Trip To The Pool

Since our roof is being replaced and the banging was giving me a headache, we headed out for a few hours at the pool. Gabe was suppose to be my little dare devil but disappointed my hopes and spent 90% of his time flirting with the garbage can or the life guards. He wasn't at all interested in the pool and cried most of the time I was holding him in the pool. Drew had a blast and enjoyed "swimming" in the kids section with all the spraying water and sunlight.

Drew still won't put his face in the water and fights me every time I want to work on learning to swim. Good thing he has swimming lessons in a few weeks, maybe peer pressure will benefit him! I had such a bad mommy moment today, after trying to get Drew to jump to me in the water or practice his kicking, with no interest, I desperately wanted to shove my child's head under the water (he is so anal, making sure no water touches is nose or eyes) ... no worries, I controlled myself, got out of the pool and took tons of pictures of Gabe sine he was content to sit in the shade with all the natural light! Drew, played in the sun and as the morning wore on the lighting did too... so there aren't many pictures of Drew.

Here are a few of my favorites! More on the picture page!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Pre-Schooler

Drew just celebrated his last day of being in FBC Keller's 3 year old program. He loved Tuesday and Thursday's because he was able to play with his little friends - Sky, Malone, & Natalie. Drew also loved his teachers - Mrs. Misty & Mrs. Andrea. His teachers just loved their jobs and took such great care with their children. Every day the children were greeted with hugs and smiles! Drew's favorite days were Pizza days and his teachers informed me that they had to cut Drew off after 4 slices! He was also the sweet tooth junkie of the class and would "sulk" when told he couldn't have a second cupcake. Can you tell we're working on contentment? His teachers often commented on Drew's sensitive spirit, he always wanted to make sure others weren't sad. Also despite his shy nature, he enjoyed singing "worship" songs to his classmates. Drew was their energetic and sometimes spacey little boy who was always on an adventure and off planning something. Teacher Misty often encouraged me with Drew's antics and reminded me on our last day together that "your doing such a great job focusing on the things that really matter - integrity and concern for others." I'm going to miss Drew's teachers as much as he is!

Drew's last day of school was wonderful, his class had a wonderful performance which we will hopefully post soon. Drew was his shy yet excited self performing the hand motions but not really singing. When Nana asked why he wasn't singing he replied, "I ran out of air!" Speaking of Drew's sense of humor, we were husking corn tonight for dinner and Drew exclaimed, "Look, the corn is sleeping in its own sleeping bag, just like me!" So precious!

Drew had such a great year learning about letter and numbers. We also learned about butterflies and concluded the year with a relaxing trip to the Zoo where the kids saw baby alligators and baby penguins up close and personal. Drew desperately wants a baby alligator, but he told me today, "I'd settle for a baby turtle instead?"

(Drew and friend Luke sitting in the beloved chairs)

Drew just loves to learn, he loves discovering and touching and playing. He isn't fond of sitting down and writing his letter or telling mommy his catechism's, but I am amazed that despite his dislike of sit down learning, he is very smart and is always learning new things. We are so proud of all Drew has learned this year and how much he has grown up. He is such a talkative and educated little boy;we're so privileged to raise him to be a godly young man!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

After 5 year, I'm finally back!

You may think that my post title is a little weird, but I assure you that its 100% fitting! It has been a real struggle these past 5 years and I'm finally out of my funk - thank you Lord! In March I really started to pray that God would take away my weariness and allow me to regain some of my pre-children energy. You may laugh, but since pregnancy with Drew, fatigue has ruled my life. It wasn't odd for me to get 10-12 hours of sleep each night. I've had other weird quirky things going on too, but in the last 6 months it has all compounded into - complete fatigue, lack of ambition, irritability, episodes of depression, tension, and a few other symptoms I won't name. I have been trying to exercise routinely since January and end up so tired afterwords that I can't even keep my eyes open to watch the kids. My exhaustion had turned into a huge issue! The Lord was so faithful to listen and wait patiently to "heal" me at just the right time.

I'm a naturalist at heart, my first son was suppose to be born in our home by a midwife, but due my body going into preterm labor at 20 weeks, we had to go with plan B - bed rest and a dreaded hospital stay for 5 weeks and a hospital delivery. Due to an incompetent cervix & pregnancy induced hypertension, my home birth plans were sadly terminated. Both boys were born about 4 weeks early using natural childbirth methods - just so I got to control a little of their birth! I love organic food and dream of having my own chickens and acreage someday - maybe a diary cow too? Can't forget the horses either! We plan to home school the kids and use a natural/classical method, we love the nature God created! So when I was diagnosed with TMD back in 1996, it didn't really fit into my earthy/naturalistic plans!

During my high school years I was diagnosed with TMD (or TMJ) which is a condition where your TM joint in your jaw gets inflamed and if left untreated can wreak havoc with your entire body. Due to the timing, it was probably caused by my late high school braces! I had some mild symptoms in high school, some upper body muscular pain and my jaw would lock for various periods of time. I saw a chiropractor and suffered through the pain until moving to Texas in 2003. TMD is aggravated with stress, so getting married, moving, changing my job function, and setting up a life in a foreign place sent my body into stress and my jaw locked shut. It was great on the figure, I had a hard time eating, I was exhausted, I clenched my teeth almost continually, but especially at night. After 6 months of marriage I seriously wanted to die. I couldn't sleep, eat, think, I had a continual migraine and I remember just laying bed crying all night long because everything hurt so much. The next day John forced me to go to a TMD specialist who prescribed a whole ton of stuff, including a high tech mouth guard, physiotherapy treatments, nerve block treatments, muscle creams, and an oral muscle relaxant. I was desperate and forking over $4,000 to cover it was an easy choice - even though we didn't have the money and had to take out a medical loan to cover it. Within a week I was able to tell a difference and months later all the symptoms had subsided (not eliminated, but it was at least 50% better and I was able to function!) except for my jaw unlocking. It actually remained locked through two years of treatment - God miraciously healed it one trip to Oregon when 8 weeks pregnant with Drew. My doctor had told me I was the 5% he couldn't fix and that I would require surgery to unlock my jaw. My insurance refused to cover the 20,000 surgery so I had prayed and left the rest in God's hands. He worked a miracle - even my doctor was in disbelief!

When I became pregnant a few years later my O.B. had to switch me from my TMD medication to a more researched drug - flexeril because it was FDA approved for pregnancy. I remained on flexeril for 5 years never knowing that it was making my body crazy the longer I stayed on it! The longer I remained on it, the more my body reacted. I blamed all my symptoms on the fact that I was pregnant, or a new mom, or nursing, or not getting enough sleep, or stress, or a mother of two, but never had a clue it was from the medications I'd been taking for over 5 years.

A few months ago I was getting low on the flexeril and my jaw hadn't been bothering me too much so I decided to only take it every other night, then it would last until my next appointment and I wouldn't have to make a special trip for a refill. I soon noticed a trend, one good day - one bad day - one good day - one bad day! Then it all came out, my body was reacting to the drugs each night and my symptoms were due to an adverse reaction. I always wondered why mornings were really hard for me and evenings I seemed to feel "normal!" I chatted with my doctor about this on Thursday and she replied, "yes, flexeril can really make you tired." What, it was way more than just being a little tired, I feel like my brain has been in a fog for 5 years and I'm just waking up. Just in case you may think it is only me that notices my change in attitude, here are two responses from my family this past week. I had to laugh at them both, though Drew's comment really made me feel bad.
John: "So, you've been really sweet lately, did the doctor tell you anything I should know about? (AKA - are you pregnant or something?)"

Me: "Not really, what do you mean?"

John: " Your not dieing or anything, right? You've just been acting sweeter than normal."

Me: I laughed and continued rubbing his feet!
Drew Sunday morning over breakfast: "Mommy, have you decided to be nice to daddy?"
Me: "What!" "I'm always nice to daddy!"
Drew: "Oh, well, your nice to Daddy now."

So, there you have it! The past few weeks I've been going through detox (I think). Each new day brings emotions, energy, tiredness, clarity, confusion, and a whole ton of other cleansing feelings. Last week must have been when most of the drugs were completely out of my system because I actually wanted to go to the gym and work out at 5:00 am - what is that all about! I've been praying for so long to have energy enough to keep up with the boys, God is so faithful to also give me energy to work out and get up early.

The exercising has also relieved much of my tension in my upper back and neck so I'm not even needing the tratizone that my OB prescribed - it is nice to have the option in case I can't get rid of the tension with stretching. So, on MWF's you will find me going to bed early, taking a 5:30 am spinning class with my neighbor, and then heading to Starbucks for some quiet "me" time to read my bible and just relax until heading home by 8:00 am. So far, I've been returning to a quiet house of sleeping family members, so maybe my new found energy is actually wearing them out too! I'm loving this phase of life! I pray it lasts a long time!

A "Hand Made" Interview with Drew

Interview with Drew at 4 ½ May 22, 2009

1. What is something mom always says to you?
"No, yes, put your seat belt on, don’t hurt yourself"

2. What makes mom happy?
Saying , “Yes Mam”

3. What makes mom sad?
When I do a mean thing, not being a peacemaker.

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
"When she tickles me"

5. What was your mom like as a child?
"You rode a horse and played with daddy."

6. What is your mom's favorite thing to do?
"Play with her coupons."

7 How tall is your mom?
"Stand up mommy!" “Your this big” (holding hands out from side to side)

8. What is your favorite thing to do?
Playing games, bouncing on trampoline, going to Grandma Patti’s house, going camping and playing with Josh

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?

10.If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
being nice, fishing because you caught that fish the one time.... lets go fishing.

11. What is your mom really good at?
working, hanging things, playing with toys, reading, feeding me.

12. How old is your mom?
Like seven. When I told Drew I was 29 he laughed!

13.what does your mom do for a job?
work in her office and check e-mail

14.What is your mom's favorite food?

15.What makes you proud of your mom?
She bounces and swims in my pool.

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
God (um, how do I respond to that... a cartoon character?)

17. What do you and your mom do together?
play cars and blocks

18. How are you and your mom the same?
God made us both.

19. How are you and your mom different?
you have long hair, I have short hair
Mommy reads long books, I read short books

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
You take care of us, you play with me, you water the garden for me (?)

21. What does your mom like most about your dad?
Daddy builds you things and fixes things, but he can’t fix broken glass because when I broke the window he couldn’t fix it!

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
"Tom Tumb" "Oh, the park, & starbucks, & goodwill."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Zoo & Rain are Perfect!

We spent Saturday at the Fort Worth Zoo, it rained and drizzled and we Oregonians didn't mind a bit! It was perfect, there weren't any people but the workers and all the animals loved the rain. We saw Elephants singing, monkeys playing tag, and a cute baby giraffe playing with his parents. It was so much fun! We also saw a baby penguin, a baby owl and a baby Alligator. Also note that there aren't people in any of our photographs! My stabilizer had a hard time with all the mist and fog, but I still enjoyed all the fun pictures I took. At one point, I sat down and just captured their wild imaginations at play, they ran from the elephants to the giraffe's and then back again, all the while smiling and giggling about the rain that was getting them all wet.

Drew is in love with baby alligators and has even asked if he could have one. I told him if he found a baby alligator, he could bring it home and ask his daddy if he could keep him. I think I gave him a little too much hope, now all Drew wants to talk about is where his baby alligator will sleep, what it will eat, and of course how much fun it will have swimming in our wading pool!

Gabe loved the Zoo too, he ran everywhere and tuckered himself out! He slept all the way home and then managed to sleep in the driveway for over an hour!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Summer Fun

Look how we initiated our first week of hot weather! The boys had so much fun swimming and getting all wet. I enjoyed watching the boys laugh and splash and flashed lots of pictures! My grass looks beautiful this year, which is making for great color in my pictures!

Gabe is still teething.... 3 weeks of teething for 1 tooth, that is only 1/2 of the way in.. ugh! Gabe was horrid last night, waking twice and staying awake for over an hour. I even resorted to giving him a bottle and he threw it right out of the crib. The Advil wasn't doing the trick either and John and I were both exhausted by morning - made for a great night!
Drew's latest adult conversation time in the car involves telling me, "full speed ahead Mom" in the car when he wants me to speed up. Today he told me, "Mom, full speed ahead." When I said, the light is red, he retorted, "Oh, well full speed ahead when its green, the cars in front will move out of your way!" Nothing like listening to a back seat driver all the way to the Goodwill.

Our final funny moment happened Wednesday, I walked through the garage in an attempt to leave the house for some early Ad grocery shopping (side note: saved 73% at Kroger Wednesday, used 40 coupons and spent 27.31! I conquered!) I then saw Gabe wearing lipstick.... what? Then I looked again and saw him playing with a cup of wood stain that John had been testing on one of his projects, Yikes! Needless to say, I ran out of the house and left John to clean up our monster mess maker! That was a chore and a half. John said it took him 1 1/2 hours to get him back to a normal color. Gabe still has red highlights in his hair, but I think it looks cute! The trials of living with a master carpenter!
I've been trying to be better at just enjoying the boys and savoring each crazy moment, so a few weeks ago I started to cuddle with Drew before bed, instead of rushing out and finding more things to get done. I turned on a CD that I'd sung to both my boys when they were little. It brought back so many memories! Then I was so convicted because I rocked/nursed Drew before bed until he was almost 1 year old. The rocking continued off and on until he was at least 18 months. Poor Gabe probably only was sung and rocked for 6 months? So, a few days ago I started to rock, cuddle, and sing to Gabe. He squirmed and hated it! I will say, after a few nights he settled in to enjoy the singing and prayers and Mommy's guilt went away too! Now both boys get a little rocking, cuddling, prayer time, and songs before bed. Tonight I was touched when John put Drew to bed, to my suprise John came down and said that Drew was waiting for his rocking time, he wouldn't go to sleep without it. What sweet little men I've been blessed to raise!

We're headed to the Zoo tomorrow, I hope to get lots of wonderful pictures!

Monday, May 11, 2009


Life seems to be running faster than I can sprint! The month of April seemed like a blink, here we are already into May! This week we spent some time playing at home. Drew and I added more things to our "Williams Grocery store" and Gabe was content to follow us around whining because his tooth hurts. Gabe is getting his top right tooth and it has been coming in for over 2 weeks now. The diaper rashes, runny nose, and whining are getting old. I can't wait for Gabe to be his happy go lucky self. One nice thing is he has been cuddly, which is always a treat!

We had a wonderful time camping a few weeks ago, the weather was so beautiful and with all the children it made for a relaxing time of visiting and reading! John even took a nap! Drew enjoyed his first and second s'more and enjoyed roasting his own hot dog on the campfire. Drew was so disappointed when we left Sunday afternoon, he made friends with my M2M friend's little son Josh. Drew and Josh were inseparable! Drew woke Saturday morning hearing Josh talking and yelled, "Josh, wait, I'm getting dressed and I'll be right out to play, wait for me!" Gabe enjoyed sleeping in the van with the dog while listening to his sound machine. I enjoyed the fact that our air mattress worked like a charm and I didn't get a stiff neck from sleeping on the floor. Our friends the Tyson's were there too and it was awesome to spend quality time together. Zac even taught me some new tricks with my camera!

Drew, Gabe and I painted this week, we also spent a lot of time outside in the sandbox. I'm very tired of cleaning the sand off the floors, but the fun and enjoyment of sand makes it all worth it. Daddy spent his week substituting and calling on teaching jobs. We're anxious to hear how about all the jobs he has applied and interviewed for. I'm praying so hard that he gets hired this year, even though we're just fine where we're at, I feel like our lives are on hold until John's teaching job shows up. I wish I didn't feel like that so much, contentment is a virtue that I've been working on. You'd think with all my practice I'd have mastered it by now!

In the interim, I spent some time cleaning out my coupons and clipping new ones. There is now an influx of coupons out there to print or clip, so it makes for lots of clipping and organizing. I did some shopping at Target this past week, they had some great de

als and I saved 67%! I also spent some time researching how to freeze green onions and fresh

basil. I trimmed the green onions and basil out of my garden last week and enjoyed freezing both items. It is wonderful not to buy those products! Plus now I tend to use them more since their in the freezer waiting for me!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mean Mom

Yes, I am a mean mother. What mother would buy little girl pull-ups for her little boy - strictly because there weren't any little boy pull ups in Drew's size - they were on sale and evidently a popular item. I could have bought him one size up, but they put in 3 less pull ups! So, I did what any mean mother would do, I bought little girl pull-up and hoped Drew wouldn't notice. He only wears them to bed, its not like anyone other than our family would see them!

So, last night when Drew prepared for bed he came running in and exclaimed that there weren't any pull-ups left. I pulled out the little girl package and handed him one. He just looked at me and said, "Mom, these are for girls, see the pink and flowers. I'm not wearing those!" To which this mean mother replied, "When you can sleep all night without wetting your pull-up, then you can wear your manly underwear to bed!" Drew slumped his shoulders, hung his head and mopped into his little girl pull ups. I thought that was the end until after I read him his book, the he said, "Mom, I'm going potty right now so I won't wet my pull-up, then I can wear underwear to bed!"

The story would end perfectly if indeed Drew woke dry, but alas that is not how this story goes!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

William's Market - a Thrifty Alternative to Expensive Toys

Drew has been wanting to get a pretend kitchen to play with, but I didn't want to spend all that money. So we created our own William's Market as a compromise - it is still a work in process, but here is what we've put together so far.

:: Recycled paper and plastic containers, taped or glued shut to replicate the real product.

:: a cash register from the Goodwill for 2.00 - equipped with the add and subtract buttons for mathematics.
:: Expired coupons, laminated to replicate money and to teach/brainwash the kids into being thrifty themselves. It also works great for matching and identification.

:: This is a great way to recycle! Now when boxes are emptied, Drew asks "can we add this to my grocery store?"

:: Paper/plastic bags to imitate the real shopping experience! I'm looking for a pretend shopping cart at the Goodwill, but Drew doesn't know that yet!

Drew's favorite thing to play is Grocery store, even Daddy has gotten into the act. It was so funny to watch Drew check me out with my groceries, he insisted on making the pretend "beep" and scanning the bar code. He really looks for the barcode on every item!

Drew is really into couponing and even asked yesterday if we could get him his own coupon box. I guess I'll take his enthusiasm as long as it lasts, I picture him being 14 and not wanting to be seen in the store with his mom and her big blue coupon box! For now its very fun! Yesterday when we were playing he asked to learn how to use the adding machine. We added 3.00 (milk) and 1.00 (hot cocoa) and my bill was 4.00. Drew actually got it!
This unit has been very fun for all involved, Drew just loves to pretend and collect things so this project is on for his personality.

Little Gabe loves to wander around and undo everything Drew set up, which has posed some arguments and whining. Drew and Gabe enjoy playing just as long as Gabe stays in line. If Drew can't boss him around then the game is over. Sounds a lot like how my mom described my childhood. Can you guess who was the boss?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

First Hair Cut

Our little man had his first haircut yesterday. When Drew was a baby I made a huge event out of his first haircut - we went to Cool Cuts. This time, as I'm taking more steps to being self sufficient and thrifty, and adding up the cost of two haircuts every 8 weeks, I decided to cut Gabe's hair myself. I bought a really nice pair of scissors from Sally's and tada - the makeover is complete. I am actually really pleased with myself, I can't believe I did it and made it look good. I have to thank the Internet for that - self teaching Youtube video's rock! I think Gabe looks younger .... and his face looks chunkier! Now instead of people questioning whether he is a boy or a girl, they can enjoy his bright blue eyes instead.

On a frugal note, I also learned how to hem pants this past week at Mom2Mom. I decided after finishing the first of two pairs, that I'll pay the 10.00 to have a professional do it. Hemming is a lot of work, especially if you don't have all the fancy equipment. There are some things I will gladly pay money for!