Slush day

February 27th, 2013

Yesterday, we had a beautiful blanket of snow in our yard. The older two kids had so much fun in it, well, William did, anyway. Tati had trouble walking around in it and was done after about 10 minutes.

It started melting fairly rapidly so we just a slushy mess today. That, coupled with the fact that all three had some combination of congestion, sneezing, coughing and runny noses, kept us inside today.

Slushy snow mess

The morning started out with  an early morning nap for Xander who had been awake three times overnight and some cartoons for the kids while I ate breakfast and got myself ready for the day.

Aren’t they so cute cuddled up together watching cartoons together?

Tati then found my boots and had fun stomping around in them. 

 

Xander woke up and Tati went down for a nap and I got busy making chocolate chip cookies and tested the capacity of the bowl on my stand mixer.

By the way, if you ever want a good use for sour cream containers, they are excellent for freezing cookie dough. I love being able to pull out a container when I want to bake something and don’t have a lot of time.

I kept the little guy entertained by feeding him cheerios while mixing the dough.

William was pacified by getting to lick the bowl since I excluded his little sick self from helping with the mixing.

After lunch and nap time was over, we had fun goofing around with play dough, Tati had fun dressing up with the kitchen towel, then we curled up on the couch and watched Rescuers Down Under.

Already working her audition to be Mary in the church Christmas play :)

Curled up watching a movie with mommy and her Tigger

I left the kids in the house and checked the mail. Walking back up to the house, this is how I found my dear little daughter:

Xander is perfectly capable of feeding himself but sometimes I love to just hold him while he drinks his bottle.

When I went to fix supper, Tati and Xander had a blast tearing out most of the diapers.

Then I went to AWANA at church, leaving William at home so he could go to bed on time and avoid spreading germs to his friends.

All in all, it was a pretty good slush day. :)

 

My Top Ten Stuffed Animals and Plush Toys

November 29th, 2012

Christmas is coming soon and since grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, etc. are shopping for little ones, I figured a top ten list could come in handy as a guide.

It took a bit for me to narrow this down but here they are: my children’s top ten favorite stuffed animals and plush toys.

1. My Pal Scout (or Violet)

My 22 month old absolutely LOVES this puppy. I have seen her play with this for over 30 minutes at a time. One of the neat features of this stuffed animal is you can plug it into your computer and program to say your child’s name, favorite animal, color and food. You also get to pick from a list of songs for it to play…so you not only select your child’s favorite songs but can switch them when you get tired of hearing the same 5 songs over and over.
One of the best things about this is that she can push any paw or the tummy and it starts playing. We have several musical toys she loves but can’t manage the on/off switches yet so I am constantly being brought toys to turn them on. Then my 3 year old turns them off and the cycle constantly repeats itself. It’s very inconvenient to have a child pulling at your legs while cutting meat or other such tasks every 30 seconds so a toy that minimizes that happening is wonderful.

2. Lamaze Musical Inchworm

I first saw this toy when my oldest was a baby and thought it looked wonderful. We recently got it through using the Huggies diapers reward points program. My 7 month old really enjoys it. His face lit up when I first showed to him and it makes tummy time so much more fun. It only plays one tune but it hasn’t grown annoying yet, especially as it plays rather quietly.

3. Lamaze Jacques the Peacock

This fun bird is my youngest’s Christmas present this year so I can’t report on his reaction yet. However, it is well-made, the colors are vibrant (the picture doesn’t do it justice) and it has crinkly parts, a rattle, mirror, various textures and a clip to attach it to something. I can’t wait to see his face on Christmas morning.

4. FAO Schwarz Noah’s Ark

This toy was a Christmas present my kids got last year and it was an instant hit, particularly with my 2.5 year old. He’s a year older now and it is still a big hit. My 22 month old has become more interested in it the last couple of months. There are two of each animal and the bottom of the ark has a zippered door where all the animals can be stored. The little animals are also the perfect size for my 7 month old to play with.

 

5. Large Stuffed Animal

It doesn’t really matter what animal it is; ours is Winnie the Pooh. I had a giant stuffed animal as a child and I loved it. All 3 of my kids love our Winnie the Pooh. There is just something so delightful about seeing my little girl hug and carry around an toy as big as she is or my youngest boy try and wrestle this massive animal as he rolls around on the floor. We also have a large duck; commonly used as a pillow by my 3 year old and a sea turtle that my kids have taken many a ride on.
Go get your kids a big stuffed animal. Look at garage sales, they sell cheap, and can be cleaned by throwing them in the washing machine.

6. Puppets

Again, it doesn’t matter what kind. Puppets provide hours of entertainment. Get creative if you need to and hot glue eyes and yarn for hair to socks.

7. Soft rattle ball

This is a great toy to have, especially for little ones learning to sit up. If they fall- and they will- there is at least a chance of having something soft to land on. Plus if your exuberant toddler decides to throw it across the room, at the glass door of your entertainment cabinet, or at his younger sibling, there is a significantly less chance of anything breaking or anyone getting hurt.

8.  Lovey/Security blanket

We have quite the assortment of these. They have been a favorite of each kid at one point or another. Even at a month or two old, my daughter had several months where she wouldn’t sleep without hers tucked under her arm.

 

9. Sort-a-Shape Fun Cube

This comes with 3 wooden shaped blocks, a square, triangle and circle. We haven’t played much with the wooden blocks yet. Each side has a different texture and I highly recommend it, even for a 3-4 month old. They can grasp at the different sides and when they start teething the plastic bar has nice rounded edges to gnaw on without danger of them hurting their mouth.

10. Baby Einstein Stack and Discover Blocks

We apparently own the old version of these so I decided not to upload my picture. These soft, plush blocks are good for learning to stack and if they fall you don’t have to worry about head bonks and tears. Each side has different textures and are easy to manipulate and grasp for young children.

So there you have it; my kid’s plush favorite toys.

 

Crockpot Homemade Yogurt

November 12th, 2012

My kids love yogurt. They eat plain yogurt every morning for breakfast.

My 3 year old prefers his with applesauce and my 1 year old likes hers best with mashed up banana. Sometimes yogurt is the special treat I give my 3 year old after he finishes eating all his lunch.

We go through approximately 2 of the large yogurt containers a week and so it certainly is a crucial part of our grocery budget.

I heard about making homemade yogurt over a year ago and filed the idea away to try someday. In the last year, we moved from Chicago to a small town in Oklahoma and, to our surprise, we found that most groceries cost 30-50% more here.

However, being pregnant, having just made a cross-country move and with 2 little ones, I held off on trying my hand at yogurt.

After a number of months and I’d settled into a pretty good routine, the time had come to make yogurt and help alleviate our rising grocery costs.

My first attempt tasted like yogurt but came out really thin and runny. The kids ate it, but boy, was it messy. So I started researching ways to thicken it and settled on trying gelatin.

The gelatin worked its wonders and so, without further ado, here is my yogurt recipe:

Ingredients:

8 cups whole milk

8 oz plain yogurt (as a starter)

1 package (2 teaspoons) Knox powered gelatin

Directions:

1. Take yogurt starter out of fridge to start warming up

2. Turn crockpot on low to warm up

3. Pour 8 cups milk into saucepan and stir occasionally until it reaches 185 degrees (Fill sink half full with cold water while milk is warming up)

4. Once milk has reached 185 degrees, remove from heat, add powdered gelatin a little at a time, whisk in completely before adding more. Continue until all the gelatin has been dissolved.

5. Remove 1 cup of heated milk and set aside.

6. Put lid on saucepan with remaining milk and place in sink of cold water (make sure the water level is not too high, as you don’t want water getting into the pan) for 10 minutes or until you can somewhat comfortably briefly stick your pinky finger in.  (After making this several times, I just time it for 10 minutes and no longer bother checking the temperature with my finger.)

7. Take the 1 cup of heated milk you earlier set aside and mix in your yogurt starter completely.

8. Take the pan of milk out of the sink and pour into crockpot. Add in the 1 cup of milk and yogurt starter mix.

9. Put lid on crockpot, turn off and unplug. Wrap entire crockpot in heavy towel overnight or for 6-10 hours.

10. Place crockpot in fridge and wait another 6-10 hours for it to finish setting completely.

The finished product

 

Yields: Approximately 70 ounces (will stay good for up to 14 days)

A week's worth of yogurt in our house

 

It may sound like a lot of work but it only takes about a half hour each batch and 10 minutes of that time is when the milk is cooling in the sink.

Note: Set aside 8 ounces as a starter to use for your next batch right away (to make sure you don’t eat it all)

Wondering if it really saves us money? Two large containers of yogurt costs me $4+ tax at Aldi or $5+ tax at Walmart, assuming you buy the store brand.

1 gallon of milk costs me $3.20, so 8 cups is $1.60. The yogurt starter cost me $1.07 and the package of gelatin cost $0.94. The total is $3.61.

If you eliminate the $1.07 for the yogurt starter, the costs come down to $2.54.

Definitely a significant savings over buying yogurt each week. Not only is it cheaper, but it is nice knowing exactly what I’m feeding my kids.

 


 

 

 

 

No More Pain

May 16th, 2012

Heaven welcomed home a dear friend of mine yesterday evening. A wife and mother of seven. And a Grandmother, even though her grandchild is not due until December and she will never meet that little one here on earth.

After a two year battle with cancer, she is out of pain and safe in her Savior’s arms.

I rejoice for her and I weep for me. For her husband. For my best friend, Krista, who has stayed so strong throughout it all. For the rest of her siblings as they are hurting and I wish to be able to give them all hugs. And especially for Calli, the youngest, who turns sixteen today.

Most of the lovely Nebe family

 

One tends to gloss over people’s faults once they have died. I know Connie had flaws…after all, she was a fallen, sinful human like the rest of us.

But she had a big heart and she opened her arms to you. I was welcomed into their family and became one of them.

She made the most amazing muffins I’ve ever had. And she gave me her recipes but it must be something in her touch because mine didn’t turn out anywhere near as good.

She could sew like nobody else and made me the prettiest skirts I’ve ever owned. I also have a darling dress she made for my daughter. She made all the flower bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres for my wedding. We had so much fun on that shopping trip picking everything out. She did a gorgeous job on the flowers.

On sleepovers I had at her house with her daughters, she’d stay up talking and giggling with us.

Putting these memories into black and white text does not seem to do them justice.

Connie Nebe loved life and now she is truly living. She is missed by those of us still in the shadowlands.

 

January 31, 2012

January 31st, 2012

Playing peek-a-boo with his sister

January 30, 2012

January 30th, 2012

Having paci and bottle, I will be content

January 29, 2012

January 29th, 2012

Hat-loving babies

January 28, 2012

January 28th, 2012

William was slightly jealous of Tati getting attention so got in the way

January 27, 2012

January 28th, 2012

Happy girl in the tub

January 26, 2012

January 28th, 2012

He loves his duck