Friday, February 29, 2008

St. "iPodtrick's" Day Giveaway!

Over at iMommies, another one of my favorite sites, they are hosting a St. Patrick's Day giveaway...two green iPod shuffles! Click here to see how to enter this entertaining--and educational--giveaway.

When we were in Florida in January, we visited a very unique eatery on Paradise Island in Downtown Disney called Raglan Road. It is a totally Irish pub and restaurant specializing in such Irish cuisine as (real!) shepherd's pie (they call it "Keen Eye for the Shepherds Pie") and "Traditional Guinness and Onion Banger". There is a great kid's menu, too, and nightly entertainment for the young and old alike. The building was actually built in Ireland, disassembled, shipped to the U.S., and reassembled where it now stands. You can read more about this unique restaurant and peruse its menu here and its interactive website.

Now why do I mention this? Well, according to www.St-Patricks-Day.com, "without any doubt pubs are the main places for socializing in Ireland especially in the small towns (which are numerous in Ireland). You can drink there (a few pints...), eat there, dance there, join in a sing-song or listen to a group of musicians. Food in pubs, known as "pub grub" is generally good and the prices are reasonable. The young and not so young enjoy themselves in a relaxed atmosphere. They are generally comfortable and cordial places. The official closing time for the pubs is midnight!" So the next time you want a taste, very literally, of Ireland, and you are in the greater Orlando area, check out Raglan Road, Irish Pub and Restaurant, in Downtown Disney!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bummed Out

I had a wonderful post all set to publish this afternoon with the adorable photos I recently took of Nathaniel in his exersaucer-like car. I even caught the reflection of his eyes in the little fake mirror! Alas, when I went to find the photos, which Dave had downloaded to the computer today, they were nowhere to be found. When I called Dave at work to inquire about them, he said he deleted them...he thought he had already downloaded that set of photos! After voicing my utter horror that such adorable photos were lost for eternity, I suddenly realized that there were other photos that had not been downloaded, including all of Benjamin's third birthday party photos and Jonathan's science project photos. Needless to say, I was extremely bummed, and even cried a bit. I'm doing better now, but I'm still not happy about it. I can take more photos of Nathaniel in the car, and we can redo the science project, but there is no re-celebrating the third birthday. I guess it will make for a funny story in his scrapbook!

Our Budding Entertainer

The other day in the car, Benjamin informed me that when he gets bigger, he wants to "sing on stage." Since his current favorite traveling video is Psalty the Singing Song Book, I knew why he chose those words, but I was still amused. Then, last night, he entertained me on our "stage" (the fireplace hearth) with some songs from the video. I grabbed my digital camera and caught him on tape for posterity (and my blog!). The really funny thing is that when he saw himself on the camera, he said, "Awww, how cute!" Won't he just fit right in to Hollywood?

P.S. The video is a bit dark, but it gets a little better as it progresses. You will hear me singing with him, but at the end, he takes it away for the grand finale!

video

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Answered Prayer

Every morning, we try to have family devotions with the boys before they leave for school. Since Dave works second shift, he isn't always too coherent at 7:30 a.m., so I tend to read the scripture and corresponding devotional. We then all take turns praying. My parents always had a prayer schedule and list for our family devotions as children, so I decided to try that in order to help the boys focus on others and not just themselves in their prayers. It has also helped them to think a little bit more about what they are saying when they pray. We take turns praying for various family members, missionaries we support, friends, and "others" such as teachers, our government leaders, etc. This morning it was Sabastian's turn to pray for my sister, Jennifer, and her family who are missionaries to Chile. Little did we know how God would specifically answer Sabastian's prayer for safety for them. Today, a Cessna plane crashed just three blocks from their house, killing all on board and several people on the ground who were exercising on the playing field where the plane landed. My brother-in-law heard the plane struggling overhead and saw it coming down very low over their house. They live only a couple of blocks from my other sister, who was not home at the time. You can read what the U.S. news is saying about this terrible accident here, and you can visit my sister's blog here and see what she has to say. Tonight, when I prayed with the boys before bedtime, I shared with them how God answered Sabastian's prayers very specifically today. The newspapers are crediting the pilot for veering away from the houses in the neighborhood...I say God deserves the credit!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Bubba Dink

Tomorrow is Benjamin's third birthday. Today we went to Sears and got darling photos taken of him to commemorate this new year of life. (BTW--I spent WAY too much money, but wait until you see the photos I would have had to part with!) I thought I would reminisce a bit and look at old photos of Benjamin...these are just a few of my favorites from the myriad of photos we have saved...Happy Birthday, Bubba Dink!


A Few Days Old

First Birthday

Second Birthday


A recent photo...he did this all by himself!


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Weekend Happenings

I sure wish the weekends were longer, you know? Dave's time at home is so precious after a busy week of work, so we try to maintain a family-focus on the weekends as often as possible. This weekend we invited one of Jonathan's friends from church to spend the night, which was a first for all of us, believe it or not! All three of the older boys ended up getting along pretty well, and we enjoyed having yet another boy in the house. Also, we took time to celebrate Benjamin's upcoming third birthday by going to Chuck E. Cheese in Lancaster. My parents were in Lancaster for a conference, so they met us there to help us eat pizza and watch the kids have fun. We were only there for an hour and a half, but for those of you who know Chuck E. Cheese, especially on a Saturday, it was long enough! Benjamin really liked his presents, especially the Hess monster truck from Mom-mom and Pop-pop! He's definitely all boy! We capped off the weekend today by enjoying yet another new, yummy recipe...Hearty Tuna Casserole. Dave and I really liked it; the boys tolerated it (too many "weird" veggies in it...you know, green onions and zucchini!). If you are interested in the recipe, let me know and I'll send it to you...it's definitely a few steps up from the tuna casserole you might remember as a child! So, all in all, it was a good weekend. I'll post photos of Benjamin's "party" later this week, so stay tuned!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Check Out Frugal Fridays!


The author of one of my favorite websites, MoneySavingMom, also has a website entitled, Biblical Womanhood. Every Friday, she hosts a post called Frugal Friday where she gives one of her frugal tips and asks her readers to do the same. Today I found a tip for creating homemade stuffed crust pizza...yummy! Check it out...you might learn something, too!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Not Much To Say

It's late...if I don't hurry up with this post, it will be tomorrow already. I just got finished cutting out and organizing a myriad of new coupons (thanks, Mom!) and watching the evening news. The boys have mixed feelings about the snow that is starting to fall...if they miss school tomorrow, they just have to make it up later, so what's the fun in that? The last two days I have visited three bargain grocery stores in our area, thanks to some new friends at my new church. It's been fun, and hopefully will help me save even more money this new year. And last but not least, I baked my first loaf of homemade wheat bread today! We ate it all before I took a picture, so you know it was good! I did the dough mixing with the bread machine, and then let it rise in a loaf pan before baking it in the oven. My hubby got home just as it was coming out of the oven...he was so impressed! It's a very easy recipe and can be found here. Check it out!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Date Night

Dave and I had a date with the moon this evening between 10-11 p.m. ET. What a cool view we had from our front yard of the lunar eclipse! It was FREEZING outside, but Dave set up our tripod and got this cool photo using the timed exposure setting on our little digital camera. If you can enlarge this photo, do it...it really is cool! You can see Saturn and Regulus in the photo as well. Where we live here in Lebanon there is very little extraneous light at night (like you would have in a city or more suburban area) so the view we have of God's stellar creations is quite remarkable. Tonight was just another fantastic exhibit of that!



"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place..." (Psalm 8:3)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Benjamin's Birthday Blues, Part 2

Ah, the irony of it all. After charging Benjamin's new little jeep all night...you know, the one that replaced the kitchen I really wanted to get him (or rather, I wanted) for his birthday...we were all very excited for him to try it out. Well, one little push on the accelerator this morning was enough to make Benjamin leap out of the vehicle screaming and crying. Why, you might ask? The noise, of course...it scared him and now he wants nothing to do with the new little jeep. As I told my disbelieving husband--a kitchen wouldn't have scared him. Ah, the irony of it all.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Benjamin's Birthday Blues

One of my favorite Benjamin pix from Florida

This evening we ventured out to Toys 'R Us with the entire family to look at what Benjamin said he wanted for his upcoming third birthday...a play kitchen. We found the aisle easily enough and took a look at what was available. He was very excited and pointed out what he wanted and I thought we were set to go. But, alas, it wasn't meant to be. For you see, down the next aisle were the automated ride-on vehicles. You know...the ones they put beneath the bike racks with the signage saying to stay off of them (yeah, right!). Well, once he saw those, and much to his Daddy's secret delight, I'm sure, the kitchen was history. So, instead of coming home with a kitchen tonight, we came home with a jeep. I'm bummed. I really wanted the kitchen.




Sunday, February 17, 2008

Weekend Cooking Adventures


Since becoming a full-time stay-at-home mom, I have found that I really enjoy cooking. I guess I didn't have enough time to really get into it before, and now I do. I really enjoy looking up recipes on-line and in my myriad of cookbooks (I always had good intentions!) and preparing new recipes for the family to try. After a new recipe is served, the boys and Dave tell me whether it is a "keeper" or not. It's a great way to get feedback on my cooking!

Well this weekend I cooked two great new recipes that are definitely "keepers" around here! To you more seasoned chefs, they may sound simple, but I was proud of my accomplishments. On Saturday night I made a whole wheat thin pizza crust recipe I found on SparkPeople. It was delicious AND healthy! On Sunday I made a traditional Chilean recipe called empanadas. They are meat pastries that really have a unique flavor. I had always been afraid to try anything with dough, but both of these recipes required it, and it turned out fine! I've posted some pictures so you can see my latest creations. Enjoy!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Vacation Photos...Green Meadows Petting Farm



One of our new adventures this time around in Florida was a visit to the Green Meadows Petting Farm in Kissimmee. When we first arrived, I was surprised at the entrance cost (we had failed to find that out ahead of time...how much could a petting farm cost anyway?) but once we finished the 2+ hour tour and spent time playing on the farm equipment and playground, it was worth the money. All of the boys enjoyed themselves immensely and got to see and pet all kinds of farm animals, both domestic and exotic. There was even a hayride! A highlight for Benjamin was getting to ride a pony for the first time, after some initial hesitation on his part, of course! All in all we had a wonderful morning making family memories and enjoying God's creative hand in nature!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Yesterday I received a wonderful, unexpected gift from my dear husband, Dave. The FedEx man brought me a long box from ProFlowers with a dozen peach romance roses in a beautiful red vase. It came complete with a little teddy bear and a small heart box of chocolates, too! I often tease my husband that he doesn't buy me flowers anymore...that was a standard token of affection in our dating days. But leaving the ProFlower brochure on his desk did the trick, I guess! And he told me he had not seen it when I asked him about it the other day...I'll post a photo of my gorgeous flowers as soon as I figure out how! BTW...I highly recommend ProFlowers--you should have seen the way these flowers were packaged...I've never seen anything like it before!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Birthday, Steph!

Today is my baby sister's birthday! I don't have a photo of her to post, but you can see lots of photos of her and her family on her wonderful blog, Garcias2Chile. She and her husband and beautiful kiddos are missionaries to Chile, South America, and she keeps us (and the world!) well informed on her blog. Check it out!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Vacation Photos...Swimming in January!



My older boys LOVE to swim, so they were ecstatic to hear that our resort had no less than SEVEN different swimming pools! We only made it to two of them, but the boys had a blast swimming and horsing around. Benjamin went in a pool for the first time that he could remember (he went once as an infant) and decided to be like Daddy and leave his shirt on. This particular pool had the sloping entry that allowed you to walk right in like a beach, which was perfect for Benjamin. I even donned my swimsuit and went for a swim one day, believe it or not. There's nothing like swimming in the warm sun when you know your friends are freezing a half a dozen states away!

Perfect Pasta!

One of the really cool activities at the Sheraton Vistana Resort is what they call the "Florida Market". Once a week they invite artisans and vendors to come and sell their wares in a farmer's market type of setting on the resort property. There are many local artisans there selling everything from nesting dolls to knitted scarves to quilted bags to African woodcrafts. There are also vendors selling homemade jams, jellies, salsas, and such. But the best vendor of all, in our opinion, was a woman selling all-natural pastas, raviolis, and orzo. She was a vendor for Pappardelle's Pasta Company, based in Denver, which only sells its product through farmers and specialty markets, and on the internet. She allowed us to sample what she had available, which was only a fraction of what the company sells on-line. Some of our favorites were the dark chocolate linguini, the fanciful fruit blend (raspberry, tangerine, lemon and lime) and the sweet potato orzo. The first two are actually dessert pastas--a new concept for me. The vendor shared a recent issue of a gourmet food magazine in which Pappardelle's was featured, and told us that the website was full of recipes that featured their pastas, as well as Bella Sol oils and vinegars which complement the pasta well. We ended up purchasing two kinds of frozen ravioli to fix the next night (smoked mozzarella and spicy coastal crab...yum!) and the chocolate linguini, fruit blend, and tomato cracked pepper pastas to bring home. Well, tonight for dinner we had the tomato cracked pepper flat pasta (it's really wide...I forget the technical term!) with marinara sauce and steamed broccoli. As soon as the pasta hit the boiling water I could smell the pepper. With only 160 calories a serving and .5 grams of fat, this pasta was not only super tasty, but super healthy, as well. And an added bonus was it only had 20 grams of sodium--that is so hard to find in yummy foods I'm finding out! So, we will be placing an order in the near future for some of their other unique flavors of pasta, and, if you are a pasta lover and enjoy all-natural foods, you might want to check them out, too. I've never tasted anything quite like it!

Baby Love

My littlest guy has been sick for about a week. At first it was just cold symptoms, but the last four days he has been running a fever, so I finally broke down and called the pediatrician today. The nurse on call thought I should bring him in since he is only four months old and a doctor should rule out any issues that Tylenol may not take care of...so, as the snow began to fall in PA this morning, I bundled my youngest two into the car and off we went on the hour trip to the pediatrician! Long story short, he has a respiratory infection which is viral, and he has probably seen the worst of it, although his cough will persist for weeks, possibly. He also has an ear infection in his right ear, but it doesn't seem to be bothering him too much, so I'm supposed to hold off on the antibiotic to see if the fever returns. I was glad that he was much happier today than the last few days, and during one of our heart to heart sessions when I sit him on my knee and we look deep into each other's eyes and coo at one another, I was struck by how adoringly he looks at me, and how he utterly trusts me to meet his needs. As he looked deep into my eyes, I blinked back the tears and thanked God for my newest little miracle boy. It reminded me afresh and anew of the way I should love and trust my Heavenly Father...with utter abandon and joy. What happens to that kind of trust as we grow older--both physically and spiritually? Life, I suppose. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6). By the way...the first photo of Nathaniel shows him taking after his Mama when she was little, and the second photo shows his bath time in Florida--the whirlpool tub was just too big!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Vacation Photos...Sheraton Vistana Resort



Our trip to Florida was a gift from Mom and Dad Fisher in celebration of Nathaniel's birth in October. They own timeshares and have graciously invited us to vacation with them on many occasions, although we can't always take them up on the offers. We LOVE Florida in January, though, and are so grateful that God worked it out that we could find units together in January this year, as we thought at one point that it wouldn't be possible. This was our first stay at this resort, but we enjoyed it thoroughly. Here are some photos...enjoy!

P.S. There were ducks all over the property and they were obviously used to people! Benjamin fed them some of his goldfish crackers (under our supervision) and thought that was the coolest thing! I was afraid he would try to do it on his own, though, and lose a fingertip!






Sunday, February 10, 2008

Vacation Photos...Disney Character Breakfast

After a long day at Disney on Monday of our vacation, we got up and went to the Disney Polynesian Resort to eat breakfast with Lilo, Stitch, Mickey, and Pluto. I had never been to one of the Disney resorts before, and now my appetite is really whet for staying at one! We were greeted at the restaurant with flower leis and a photographer who took a family photo. Then we were escorted to our table where it was "all you care to eat" served on a big platter in the middle of the table. It was very yummy food with eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, and Mickey shaped waffles. The characters made the rounds of the restaurant and stopped by a couple of times during our time there. Here are some of my favorite photos!



Saturday, February 9, 2008

Vacation Photos...The Magic Kingdom

As promised, I'm posting vacation photos from our recent trip to Florida. I will divide them by category since we have so many. Here are some of my favorite photos from our one day excursion to The Magic Kingdom at Disney World. We arrived when they opened in the morning and stayed until the last firework lit up the sky. It was a fabulous day...not too hot and not too cold. Jonathan and Sabastian had visited before, but this was Benjamin's first trip. He loved it! His favorite part was seeing "Big Mickey"--I'll post about that later. By the end of the day you almost believed that wishes really do come true!








"You are beautiful, too."


As many of you know, I am the mother of four boys...two through the miracle of adoption, and two through the miracle of birth. Their ages range from 13 to 4 months, and as you can well imagine, there is never a dull moment in our house! Today we were watching the Food Network (why, I don't know) and Giada De Laurentiis was at a dessert expo in Las Vegas. I commented about how pretty she was when she flashed her charming smile after chowing down on some gelato. My oldest son, Jonathan, who doesn't show too much emotion about anything, but especially not about me, stopped what he was doing and said, "You are beautiful, too, Mom." Well, when I found my voice again and blinked away the tears, I thanked him and told him how much that meant to me (especially since I was still in my pj's at dinner time and had been nursing a sick baby all day!). It's those brief glimpses of care and concern for others in my boys that really warm my heart and let me know that we are doing something good as parents. Thank you, Lord, for giving me some kudos today! (Note: This picture of Jonathan was taken on our recent Florida vacation. We visited a petting farm and Jonathan really enjoyed chasing the chickens and ducks and picking them up!)



Friday, February 8, 2008

CVS

One of my resolutions this new year is to save money on groceries. Since I am no longer working full or part-time, money has gotten tight. One area we can control is groceries, as well as eating out. The two definitely go hand in hand in our house--the better I grocery shop and plan for meals, the less we eat out! I have had fun investigating the internet for women who deem themselves "frugal" and are trying to honor God in their homemaking, including budgeting and meal planning. One of my favorite blogs to visit is moneysavingmom. The author of this blog has mastered the art of saving money at CVS, and really has me hooked on shopping there. I'm not nearly as good as she is, but I have saved a lot of money there now that I (sort of) understand what to do. Additionally, I have been convicted by her example of praying before entering a store, asking God to help her stay within her budget and find the good buys. I know that God is interested in all aspects of my life, but when it comes to money and shopping, I never really included Him (maybe that's why we are in the financial place we are right now???). If you want to find out more, visit her blog...but beware, if you like to shop, it's addicting!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Almost There?


We just returned on Sunday from a wonderful trip to sunny Florida where we stayed in a beautiful time share resort with Grandma and Grandpa Fisher (Dave's parents) and Great Grandma Fisher. Jonathan (13) and Sabastian (10) had been to Florida once before and knew what to expect, but Benjamin (almost 3) was going for the first time. I had bought him a little calendar for Christmas so that we could cross off the days until the trip--you have to make things concrete for toddlers! This sort of helped him understand when we were leaving, but he still thought we were going to see "Big Mickey" and "Mommom and Poppop Fisher" every time we got in the van! Needless to say, when we finally did leave for Florida, we heard "almost there?" too many times to count! All of our boys, including Nathaniel (4 months) were troopers, for which we were very grateful. We arrived without incident and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I'll post more stories and photos from the trip soon!

Welcome!

After many failed attempts at blogging, I have decided to try again. My hope is that this blog will serve as a thoughtful place (think Winnie the Pooh!) of rest and relaxation for those who choose to spend time here, as well as a source of updated information on our family for those who live miles away but can visit with the click of a mouse. While I titled this blog "Merrily Musing Mom", I cannot guarantee that I will always be merry in a jolly sort of way, but I will attempt to have a merry heart "which doth good like a medicine." So, welcome...come on in, and enjoy the company!