feeling smart.

My favorite part (ok one of my favorite parts) of living in a new house is finding new ways to organize and make life flow a little better.  Every day I tackle a new area.  As I was sitting in front this cabinet, trying to find a way to arrange everything so that you can still SEE everything, I remembered my collection of tension rods hanging out in the garage.

I grabbed one of the heavy duty ones (meant for shower curtains maybe?), put it high enough to create a second layer of goods but low enough to get the handle of the squirt bottles over with ease and TA-DA!! A pseudo shelf that made it possible to arrange all my cleaning supplies in a way I can easily see what I have!

It's the little things...now what's next?
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raising my ebenezer. part four

You can read the first four parts by clicking HERE.  It will catch you up to Fall of 2011 or so.  You probably will need to read that first before any of this will make any sense and to get a clearer picture of how awesome what God did was and is!

So there we were.  Mucking through life.  The summer of 2011 set up a chain reaction that would be the straw that broke the camels back.  We had been planning to go to New Jersey to celebrate Doug's grandpas 90th birthday.  Almost ALL of Doug's family (extended as well) was going to be there.  For a while Doug was told he would be able to go.  So we planned on it.  Then Target changed their minds.  Talk about serious disappointment.  Wanting my boys to get as much time with their great-grandparents and grandparents and aunts and uncles as they could...I volunteered to take them by myself.  Kind of a big deal for a seven car ride.  At least to me.

That was one of many pebbles that started the ball rolling.  Then Doug worked almost every single day in the month of August.  LONG 12-14 hour days.  We barely saw him.  It was hard.  It was almost like someone was making us uncomfortable to get the hint that we could finally DO something about it.

Now Doug is a hard worker.  He does not shy away from working hard to take care of his family.  He also loves his family.  We all just wanted a balance for our lives so believe me when I say, this was not bad because of all the hard work.  Doug continued to bust his butt because he is a man of integrity that NEEDS to do the best job he can do.  When he took over the position that he was doing their scores were all red, they were multiple trucks behind, there was a huge turnover and the process as a whole was a mess.  When he left some of his employees cried, his scores were some of the highest in the COMPANY, and he was never behind on trucks.  He worked hard.

So there was that.  We made it through August.  Then September and October weren't much better.  I went to Blacksburg with the boys so that at least SOME of us could have a good Thanksgiving.  In all of our years together we hardly got to spend ANY time with family for ANY holiday.  Doug was always having to work the day of or early the next morning.  At some point that Fall I think we both knew that post Christmas would bring changes.  Our nephew was born in Blacksburg and that only increased our desire to return home even more.

So we made it through Christmas.  Made just a bit bitter by the fact that for the first year ever since working at Target, Doug gave each of his coworkers gifts (that I made and were awesome!) and barely got a single card in return.  Not that we give to get but it was just crazy how every other year they ALL gave gifts to each other and THIS year, Doug was excluded.  We took it as a reminder to move on.

As soon as the decorations were put away, Doug and I decided that it was time.  It felt right.  We started getting his resume together and polished up.  Then we pimped that sucker out to anyone who would look at it.  Over the next two to three months we must have applied to over a hundred jobs.  Everyday I would look for jobs for Doug to apply to, then when he came home from work that is what we would do.  Day in and day out.  We agreed not to give up until he had a new job.  We didn't want to repeat the last year.  We prayed and asked others to pray. 

We would not give up. 

In the meantime, I got a message from a friend I've known for years out of the blue.  She asked if we were interested in renting out our house.  A thought that we had not talked about out loud for some time.  This friend had a sister that was looking for something more affordable and family friendly.  Turns out they loved our house, agreed to a two year lease and we would be homeless as of July 20th.  At this point we rented out our house in complete faith.  We felt like God dropped these people in our laps and wanted to see how much we would trust Him to take care of the little details, you know, like a job.  

Then one day we applied to a batch of five to seven jobs.  Doug looked at me and said "This will sound crazy, but I think my new job was in that pile we just applied to".  And you know what? He got a request for a phone interview from one of those jobs.  And we stopped looking immediately.  Like that day.  We knew this was HIS job.  We never applied for one more job. 

That was the only job Doug interviewed for.  There were some other call backs but Doug turned them down because they didn't seem quite right. 

God didn't stop there.  Turns out that Doug was hired without having a position for him, they just liked them that much.  He also got a very handsome relocation stipend, after being told firmly that they didn't do that kind of thing.  Instead of going into debt by moving, we moved debt free (not that we had much debt to begin with) and with a nice savings account for the first time in our married lives. 

God can do anything he wants to do but I think he loves to surprise us when we show we trust him.  You know, like renting out your house before anything else happen that would tell you that you should and doing things that the world would say you are crazy for doing.   

I think I'll stop there for now...next segment (hopefully sooner than this one was in coming!) on how we got our awesome house.

xo 
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DIY Refrigerator Pickles

Afraid of making pickles?  No need!  I found this AWESOME easy recipe (via Bobbly Flay). 

My friend Joanna gave Moses this 2lb pickle the other day and I thought that now was the time we tried it!  Moses was psyched!  This was a perfect opportunity to let him help measure and talk with him about how many different foods we can grow ourselves.  He loved every minute of it...include the eating part.  The pickles tasted delicious and fresh!
Here's what you need:  
1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar 
1/4 cup sugar 
4 teaspoons kosher salt 
1 teaspoon mustard seeds 
1 teaspoon coriander seeds 
3/4 teaspoon dill seeds 
2 cups hot water 
2 pounds cucumbers, sliced 1/4 inch thick (Bobby Flay says to use Kirby Cucumbers-I didn't)
3/4 cup fresh dill (I cut the dead ends off and used the sprigs whole)
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped 
 Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. 
In a large jar (I used a gallon jar) or large bowl with a lid, make a layer of cucumbers, fresh dill and garlic.  Then make another layer, then another and repeat until you use everything up.  
You end up with something that looks a little like this. 
Pretty. 
Then pour your mixture over the cucumbers and place a jar or plate on top to make sure that all the cucumbers are submerged.  
Like this, see? :) 
Refrigerate overnight and enjoy for up to a week! 

These were so tasty...we will be adding dill to the "things to grow next year" list. :)  Have fun and go try something new!
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Dove bodywash review and win a $500 Spafinder gift certificate!


Are you like me and find that summer skin care is a tricky thing?  With all the sunscreen, sun exposure, pools and salt water, it can be a challenge to keep skin looking fresh, moisturized and smooth and not like a vintage leather handbag.  So when Dove and Blogher asked me to review Dove's new Visible Care Body Wash I was eager  to give it a try.  I was sent their Softening Crème Body Wash which, so far has proven to be the perfect antidote to chlorinated pool water. :) 


As a rule, I am mostly a low maintenance kind of girl so if I can take care of my skin a little extra in the summer time when it needs it while I am doing something I have to do anyway (shower!) than it's a win-win! I like to take care of myself and my skin,  I just don't like it to take all day.  It's been nice this last week to use the new Dove line and be able to skip my usual moisturizing step.  The body wash is thick and nourishing enough that I haven't needed to slather on lotion post shower nearly as much as I normally do.  

In the summer, as with, well, anytime you're a mom, your time is stretched to it's limits.  If you're like me, your needs get put on the back burner while you tend to peanut butter and jelly, poolside living, sunscreen coverage, rash guards and life on the gogogo! It's during these time crunches that it doesn't take much to make me feel like I'm doing a little something for me.  A five minute pedicure, an iced coffee, a little leave in conditioner for my chlorinated hair, or a luxurious body wash are all I need for a little refueling.  I'm thankful for products that feel a little luxurious but aren't ridiculous in price or effort.  :)

Overall, this is a product that I liked!  I would buy it again and use it long term.  There is also a "skin firming" edition of this line...goodbye cellulite? Maybe I'll try that one next!   


Want a little extra way to pamper yourself this summer?

Enter to win one of two $500 Spafinder gift certificates by following the directions below!!
Dove® VisibleCare® to get a coupon for $1 off!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY
COMMENTS TO THIS POST ARE NOT SWEEPSTAKES ENTRIES. PLEASE SEE BELOW FOR ENTRY METHODS FOR THIS SWEEPSTAKES.
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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. Winners will have 72 hours to claim the prize, or an alternative winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 7/18/2012 - 8/22/2012
Be sure to visit the Dove® VisibleCare™ Crème Body Wash brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!
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2012 40 ideas - Number 13 - Paint Chip Match Game

Welcome to my lofty dream of providing you with 40!!! fun activities you can do with your kids!  Many at the drop of a hat!  I bet for many of these you will have the materials you need on hand or can find them at the dollar store or on the cheap at the local craft store!  This list will contain simple, cheap and FUN crafts or activities that ANYONE can do!  And better yet, they will be kid tested and approved!

If you would like to be a guest blogger in this series email me at ricracandpompoms @ gmail . com! 

Today's activity comes from Melissa at JonahBonah!

*************************

thank you, crystal for inviting me over to your little space on the internet!!
i’m honored to be guest posting on little bit funky today.
you are an inspiration on so many levels…this is a dream come true for me.

ok, enough sappiness.
let’s get on to why we’re all here.


if your house is anything like mine this summer then you have a few kids that are semi-self-sufficient and then you have a preschooler who needs constant attention and direction {in fun activity to keep her busy.}

this idea is not a new one.
i first saw it on instagram from someone who first saw it on pinterest…
it’s so simple.
and it’s one of those crafts/activities that’ll have you thinking “why didn’t i think of that?”


first, gather your supplies.
you’ll need…
Preschool Paint Chip Activity
*paint chip cards from the hardware store {assorted colors}
*scissors
*glue
*clothes pins

Preschool Paint Chip Activity
next, cut a section of the paint chip card from one side about ¾ inch wide.
and then cut the separate colors. {see photo}
Preschool Paint Chip Activity

final step for you, glue each color to a separate clothes pin.
Preschool Paint Chip Activity

Preschool Paint Chip Activity

Preschool Paint Chip Activity
now, it’s time for the fun!
call your preschooler in for A GAME!!
the idea is to simply match the clothes pin colors to the paint chip colors.

genius, right!?

have her name the colors as she completes a card.
fun AND learning.

Preschool Paint Chip Activity

Preschool Paint Chip Activity

Preschool Paint Chip Activity

Preschool Paint Chip Activity

Preschool Paint Chip Activity
mckinley played it again and again.
she loved it!!!

after she was finished playing the game the way it was intended she made her own fun.
she pretended they were cookies!

fun and learning AND imaginative play.
WINNING!

Preschool Paint Chip Activity

thank you again, crystal!

HAPPY SUMMER!!!

Thank you Melissa!  Be sure to go say hi to Melissa at JonahBonah! 
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40 ideas - Number 12 - Fun and Easy Tent!

Welcome to my lofty dream of providing you with 40!!! fun activities you can do with your kids!  Many at the drop of a hat!  I bet for many of these you will have the materials you need on hand or can find them at the dollar store or on the cheap at the local craft store!  This list will contain simple, cheap and FUN crafts or activities that ANYONE can do!  And better yet, they will be kid tested and approved!

If you would like to be a guest blogger in this series email me at ricracandpompoms @ gmail . com! 

Today's activity comes from Bri at Mod Memento.  She also runs one of my favorite places to buy art...also called Mod Memento. :)

****************************

All kids love tents!  But thankfully, you don't need a store bought one to have fun. 


Use what ya got!  Round up some old blankets, sheets, and in my case, some old curtain panels and hunt for the perfect spot in your yard to set up your homemade tent.




I bought some clothesline rope at the hardware store and tied it around two big trees.  If you don't have trees, be creative and use your deck, your fence, a picnic table or whatever else you can find.  I then simply laid the curtain panels across the rope.



I laid some big rocks that the kids had painted on the corner edges on the curtain panels to keep them in place and not shift when the wind blew.




Then we made it cozy inside with some quilts, pillows, books, crayons and snacks!














The whole thing takes less than 10 minutes to set up and gives the kids a fun new play space.

Happy Summer!

Thank you! And be sure to go say hi to Bri at Mod Memento!
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40 ideas - Number 11 - Birdy Mobile!

Welcome to my lofty dream of providing you with 40!!! fun activities you can do with your kids!  Many at the drop of a hat!  I bet for many of these you will have the materials you need on hand or can find them at the dollar store or on the cheap at the local craft store!  This list will contain simple, cheap and FUN crafts or activities that ANYONE can do!  And better yet, they will be kid tested and approved!

If you would like to be a guest blogger in this series email me at ricracandpompoms @ gmail . com! 

*********************
Today's post is from Heather from Life Made Lovely.
I imagine doing this mobile with pages from kids books that have seen better days.  Moses will love this!  Be sure you cut your template out of card stock to help little ones trace the pieces a little better.  You could also punch a hole instead of using needle...all things to consider based on the ages of your kiddos.

Let's create a mobile the whole family can enjoy!


You'll  need:
-double sided paper.
i used an old book, but scrapbook paper would work, too.
-scissors
-twine, thread, or embroidery floss
-large needle
-stapler
(preferably one your grandmother-in-law borrowed from the VA hospital 40 years ago.)



Cut out 5 bird shapes,




and 10 wing shapes.




Hold 2 of the wings together.
Fold back a small portion at the front of the wings, away from each other.


Take those wings and slide them over one of your bird shapes.
Staple all three pieces together by placing a staple in front of the fold line.
Fold out the wings.




Use your threaded needle to poke a hole for hanging.
Be sure to leave enough room from the top of the bird to protect against tearing.



Repeat until you've created five birds.
Now hang them from your chandelier at various heights.


I think it's a fun way to enjoy some craftiness
every time you eat a meal with your fam!



And just for you...



a template you can use for the shapes.
Just right click to save the image to your computer

and print.





Happy crafting!!

Thank you Heather! Be sure to say hello to her over at Life Made Lovely.
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crazy pregnant woman - aka pregnancy hormones - a huggies post


I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

Let's talk about something that no one ever tells you before you get pregnant. I mean, there are so many things they DON'T tell you, right? If you have been pregnant, you know this. If not, here's one thing I deem important enough to let you in on: Your hormones will be jacked up. You will become a crazy pregnant woman. Yes, you. It's OK. Really. You won't be crazy all the time, but there will definitely be moments when the crazy version of you takes over while the normal one is tied to a chair in your mind yelling, "WHAT ARE YOU SAYING, YOU CRAZY WOMAN?!?!"

I wasn't crazy for the duration of each pregnancy, but there were a few crystal clear moments that I remember happening out of my control while I was trying fruitlessly to slam on the emergency brakes. Externally I would be yelling at Doug for taking too long of a shower while internally my normal self had her arms crossed and was shaking her head at me. The good thing is once I knew what was going on, I could better prepare myself and Doug for these moments.

So, you'll be crazy.

And you will be sappy. Good luck watching commercials. Ever. I don't know what it is about those little snippets of TV, but for some reason, they drive to the core of your heart and turn on the hydrants. If you see anything with babies, puppies, servicemen, old couples, nature, kittens, men, women, children of any age, a satisfying shampoo, or anything remotely like any of those, turn away and run. Or you will need a box of tissues. Better yet, don't watch TV.

So, you will cry for no real reason.

Also, you may be snippy. Just a bit. The end of pregnancy can be challenging. You are huge. You are uncomfortable. Your doctor gives you a condescending look when he weighs you (IT WAS CHRISTMASTIME, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!). Strangers comment about how HUGE you are. Your patience was left back somewhere in the seventh month, and you really can't take another person patting your tummy like it will bring them good luck or something. Before you know it, you'll be annoyed by any ol' normal thing: out-of-date milk, no more cookies, lack of chocolate, stores closing at night when you NEED chips. The worst? Chick-fil-A closed on Sunday. Womp womp.

So, you will be a bit touchy.

My point is, you will feel like you are on one big crazy roller coaster. And you will be blind on it. In the rain. With no umbrella. The good news is that it doesn't stay that way forever. One day, weeks (yes, weeks) after you give birth, you'll look in the mirror and see your normal self again. Just hang in there until she comes back.

Any crazy/funny/amusing hormonal/emotional stories you care to share? I'd love to hear them!

And be sure you read up on all my other Huggies posts HERE! There's some good stuff in there!
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app!
Find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on BlogHer.com.
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"lego review AKA tamer of the wildchild and $100 LEGO gift card, too!"



Recently LEGO DUPLO asked if my boys and I would review their new "Read & Build" sets. Ummm, yes! LEGOs are huge in my house and very few other toys will tame my wild animals into quiet play.
We have a lot of experience with LEGOs but the boys were definitely intrigued by the whole book aspect to the sets. Each set comes with a book and a set of blocks to coordinate with the story line.
This reviewer, who asked us to keep his identity hidden, enjoyed searching for the pieces as we needed them. The book is set up to read a page and then build the creatures in the storyline.
Aaron sat still for the WHOLE book. He did not ask for snacks or a show or what came next. He focused on the task at hand.
He carefully (and QUIETLY) searched through the pile until he found the ones laid out on the page.
He was able to build each one on his own.
Each building section has a photo of the bricks they are looking for...Aaron enjoyed the match up part of this as well.
He took the time to find each one first and then built each little critter just as shown.
He worked hard and took his job very seriously. The only part I had to do was read. The whole set up makes it very easy to play along with your child, interact, talk about colors, words and otherwise involve them more in the storyline. I even found him later doing it on his own by "reading the story" and making the critters all on his own.
Overall, they were a hit! And we will be looking for more sets for birthdays and Christmas. Anything that encourages my boys to slow down, pay attention and learn a little is a good find by me.

Want to get some of your own? BlogHer is offering up a $100 LEGO gift card to one luck reader...just answer the question “How do you think Books and Bricks will help your child learn to read?” in the comment section below.
Visit LEGO.com to see other Read & Build sets and order online. Check out BlogHer.com to find other reviews and more ways you can enter to win.
Sweepstakes Rules:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 7/11 – 8/19/12.

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