Monday, January 31, 2011

Making Your Home Sing Monday - Becoming Self-Sufficient

It's time for another Making Your Home Sing Monday! After you read this, hop over to Mom's The Word to find out how you can tell others how you make YOUR home sing! Have a great week!

Making your home sing Mondays

With the economy on the down-low and jobs becoming scarce, it's becoming more and more important for people to start trying to become self-sufficient - if for no other reason than out of necessity!

There are so many ways that one can do this, and though it may take some time and effort, it is so worth it in the end.

Let's face it, produce is one of the most expensive things to buy in the grocery store. Therefore, if you can, this spring try planting a little vegetable garden. Even just planting lettuce, tomato, and cucumbers will save hundreds of $$ over the summer. We plan on planting the above, plus potatoes, onions, zucchini, bell peppers, squash, and okra. We're also planing on planting a pear tree and maybe some strawberries. Our plot is so large, that we intend on making it a "community garden" by inviting friends and family to share in the work and the rewards!

Next on the list is meat. Now while for most of us it may not be practical to have a cow in the back yard or raise chickens, there are many places out there that will sell a whole side of beef for pennies on the dollar. While the initial cost may seem like a lot, the end savings is tremendous. And if you or a loved one hunts - even better! Venison is one of the leanest, most healthful meats out there! (note, to get rid of the "gamy" taste, try marinading it in milk for 8-12 hours!). And let's not forget wild pig, wild turkey, even rabbit! Again, the cost of having the meat processed may seem high, the overall savings can be huge!

Household cleaning products cost more than anything else in the grocery store. So, try making your own! I made my own laundry soap in August, and haven't bought any since. And we're JUST NOW halfway through the bucket. If THAT'S not money saving, I don't know what is! You can also make your own dishwasher soap (although, I will admit it does NOT work as well as the store-bought brand!!). As for regular household cleaning - I LOVE baking soda as a scrub and vinegar for all other jobs. CHEAP and THEY WORK.

What about clothes? Well, as the Duggars say "Buy used and save the difference". With the exception of myself (because it's very hard to find plus size clothes in a thrift store) the majority of my family's clothes have come from thrift shops. You can find some very nice gently used shirts, pants, skirts and tops for a fraction of what you would pay new!

As someone that will very soon be a college graduate, I am anticipating the dreaded loan repayments that face me. In order to pay these puppies off as quickly as possible, we are going to have to save money everywhere we can. These are just a few of the things that we're doing to do just that, I encourage you to follow suit and find your own ways to become self-sufficient!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Have Your Seen My Pretzels?

No, that's not some sick kinky sex thing.
My pretzels have fallen off the face of the planet.
My favorite snack in the entire world.
I can't find them ANYWHERE!!
They used to be on the checkout aisles at Wal Mart.
Not anymore.
They're nowhere.
Not Wal Mart.
Not Target.
Not CVS.
Not Brookshire's.
Not even online!!
Not even on the manufacturer's website!!!
I can't even find a picture for your viewing pleasure.

It's like they never existed.
It's as though my pretzels were a dream that lasted a few weeks, and then was ripped out of my head by a mean, mean person trying to steal every ounce of joy inside me.
It's a conspiracy I tell ya'.
HK Anderson Honey Mustard and Onion Pretzel Bites.
Where, oh WHERE have you gone?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Making Your Home Sing Monday! - Time Management

Alrighty kids, it's time for another edition of MAKING YOUR HOME SING MONDAY!
Making your home sing Mondays

If you'd like to link up to Making Your Home Sing Monday or would like to know how to make YOUR home sing, visit Nan at Mom's The Word to find out more!

I am the world's worst procrastinator.
I always think : Oh, I have time. I don't have to do that now . . .
And then the inevitable happens:
A deadline for a 14 page paper on the intricacies of the British republic during the Tudor period in England;
A birth-control prescription runs out;
The fridge gets over full with food that is rotten and inedible;
The printer runs out of ink or the print head gets clogged;
The house gets messier . . .
Oh, the list could go on and on (and often does).

I am learning about time management, and am TRYING to work on it.
TRYING, I say.
But it's really hard.

I don't want to unload the dishes when I could be watching my husband play a video game.
I don't want to read an assignment when my three year old wants some "lovin's (yuvins)".
I don't want to mop the floor when I could be sitting on the computer writing a blog post.
I just don't want to.

But I am learning that time management isn't necessarily about getting all the "I-have-to-but-I-don't-want-to's" out of the way first. It's more about spreading your time equally and not getting bogged down. And it's also about figuring out what's more important.

For me, that priority list starts with my God, first and foremost. So, above everything, HE comes first.
Then comes my family.  They come before everything else, no questions.
Then school.
THEN the house.

It helps to have your priorities in order.

I am learning that it's okay if the house gets out of sorts when I'm in the middle of a research paper or a midterm.
I am learning that it's okay to put off doing the dishes for some quality time with my husband.
I am learning that the floor is STILL going to be there, even after I cuddle my kids.
So, I still need to learn to call and make doctor appointments . . . but I'll get there . . . eventually.

So . . .
What are your priorities?
How do you manage your time?

For more Making Your Home Sing Monday's don't forget to visit Mom's The Word!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Potty Chronicles: "Mama, You Have To Help Me"

Don't throw things . . .
My son potty trained himself.
Seriously! It's like going potty was his calling.
His sister . . . notsomuch.
But that's another blog.

He has a stool and uses it to turn the light on and to get up on the potty and to wash his hands.
He CAN do it.
He's DONE it.
More than a few times.

So, why is it that he has to run into whichever room I'm in,
Stop whatever I'm doing and yell at the top of his lungs:
Of course, I, in my calmest voice possible, reply:
"Baby, you're a big boy, you can do it yourself."
To which he shrieks (what is it with three year old boys and shrieking, anyway??)
You ever get one of those "Okay, now, REALLY??" moments?

Then, when I don't respond (because I'm a mean, mean Mama, like that) he proceeds to stomp and cry and dance around.
Which part of the potty process turned my sweet precious little boy into demon-child??

Inevitably, afraid that he will end up going to the bathroom anyway - all over himself - I guide him to the bathroom and show him where his stool is. "There ya' go, kiddo" I say and turn to walk away.

I should probably mention here that his favorite word is "because" and he uses it all the time - out of context which makes it even cuter . . .

So what EXACTLY does he want me to do? He wants me to pull down his pants and pick him up and put him on the potty.

Yes. This is another "Okay, now, REALLY??" moments.

Again, I refuse, and again he starts throwing a fit that would rival John McEnroe on the tennis court after being called on a foul a few times.

So, I concede, doing his bidding as though I were his own personal servent.
He immediatly lets go of everything he'd been holding into his bladder.
A 30-40 second pee. Reminds me of that scene in "A League of Their Own".

Then he hops down off the potty, pulls his stuff up, turns to me, looks at me with adoring eyes and says,
"Mama, I love you. You're so soft."

Touche, my son. Touche.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

To Teach . . . Or Not??

I taught preschool for well over eight years before I had my daughter. I loved every second of.
Yes. Yes, I am sick and twisted, why thank you for noticing!
When I began my current degree plan, becoming a teacher, for some reason or another, never even really crossed my mind . . . too much.
But there are some circumstances that have changed that.
I have an opportunity to receive an accredited "alternative teacher's certification" for the state of Texas through a university.
Translation: I really could be a teacher.

But the question remains:
Do I want to?

I get so frustrated with my 14 year old son . . . How could I handle a room filled with teenagers?
And on the other hand, if I DO get my certification . . . Is there any real guarantee that I would be able to find a position, let alone an internship, anywhere?

And yet ANOTHER question: What to get my certification in? English? History? Special Education? Early Childhood?

I am praying about this decision, REALLY praying. But I have yet to gain any insight or sign from God. So, I'm putting it out there for you, my readers, to advise me.

To teach, or not to teach. That is the question.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Making Your Home Sing Monday - Back To School Mama's!

It's time for another Edition of Making Your Home Sing Monday!
Making your home sing Mondays

We tell our kids all the time how important school is and how important an education is.
But do we show them?

Some of us already have degrees under our belts, and some are even using those degrees. This is such a great thing to show your kids! "I finished high school, and even finished college. Here's my degree. This is what my having one has done for our family . . ." Nothing like showing your kids that you're degree in _(insert subject here)__ has helped you provide for that PS3 or even the dinner on your table.

But what about those of us that don't have degrees, or don't use the ones we have (due to our well informed and very educated choices to be SAHM's - *DISCLAIMER*  I in no way think that NOT using your degree IS NOT A BAD THING!!!! In fact, I have personally made the choice to be a SAHM, and I love every second of it!!)

Kids learn good habits from us - picking up after themselves, using kind words instead of hateful ones, the list could go on. So why not teach them how important education is, by SHOWING them!

If you don't have a degree - consider getting one. I am living proof that it can be done! (Have I mentioned that I'm finally graduating in May??) If you think "I don't have time" or "I can't afford it", think again - there are degrees now that can be done 100% online or by correspondence, and there are grants, scholarships, and financial aid out there specifically for mom's returning to school!

If you have a degree, or don't want to go that route, consider a continuing education class at a local college or another type of class in something you enjoy. You can find classes in writing, art, pottery, sewing, dance, swimming, basically anything you might be interested in.

Another significant option is to read, research on the internet, go to the library. Show your kids that you never stop learning, and that it's important to continue to learn even after school is over!

As a mom that has trouble with a brooding 14 year old and school, I can say that my own educational journey has shown him the importance of "going through with it". I encourage you to show your children about how important it is to you as well!

For more Making Your Home Sing Mondays visit Mom's The Word and link up!
Blessings to you all!

Friday, January 14, 2011


I am participating in The Daily Dribbles and Domestically Challenged Blognonymous Blog Hop.  The post below is not my own post.  I'm hosting a post for someone else, and in turn, someone else is also hosting a post of mine, all anonymously.  Click through the links below to view all the bloggers and posts in Blognonymous. Blognonymous is the coolest blog hop I've seen. All the posts are anonymous, and no one knows who's post is on who's blog. I am so excited to be a part of this Blognonymous "extravaganza" *giggle*.

The Daily Dribbles

A Rant 

A rant...  I'm usually good at those. Where's that soap box? You know, the one I'm usually standing on ranting and raving from? I can't find it either.

For some reason, give me the right to be really incredulous and I feel like I'm falling a bit short. Maybe it's just because I'm having such a hard time deciding what to post about. Maybe even though this is somewhat anonymous, I'm afraid someone will be mad. Oh well... here goes anyway.

It rubs me the wrong way that we chose to move closer to family last year. We'll be here for at least two years. While many people have visited, there is still an expectation that we should pack the kids up and go to them. It's hard. It's really, really hard. At one point this year, every weekend for nearly a month we spent on the road. Then we have to decide what we'll do for the dog. Do you rely on the kindness of a friend or spend a huge amount of money on a kennel risking that he'll get kennel cough when all we want to do is bring him with us? How will we get a three-year old to sleep when she doesn't have her cage bed? We're packing up 5 people, soon to be 6 not 2. Sometimes it takes major planning on my part to figure out how I will entertain the littles while we're gone. It's hard. Maybe it would be easier if some appreciation was expressed instead of just letting us know what you expect of us.

If you don't know us, we're in the middle of an international adoption. I love for people to talk to me about it if they're curious. I'll discuss orphan care and adoption all day long. I start to get a little bothered though when someone needs to repeatedly in large groups let me know what a poor decision I've made. I've been told exactly how many things can go wrong by the same person over and over. We're well informed. We're a little bit scared. We're stepping out in faith. How about a little encouragement instead of all doom and gloom? I promise I've heard every horror story by now. Telling me another one, with that little hint of I'm going to say "I told you so," one day just really ticks me off.

I was putting it all out there on my blog for a while. I stopped. I was told by someone close to me (not Miss Doom and Gloom), who I really hope doesn't find this because I never want to have that conversation again, that I'm neglecting the children I have for the one who isn't here. Really? Because I got upset that it's taking so much longer than it takes other people? How come when someone who is pregnant starts planning a nursery no one says, "I really think you're neglecting the child you have because you're frustrated over color schemes." I'm frustrated that I let that stop me from saying what I wanted to say.

While I'm getting the adoption process off my chest, I'm also a little hurt that people who are very close to us and will be to our child choose to pretend that it's not happening. It makes me wonder what they will be like when he comes home.

Moving on...I hate the pretentiousness of where we live. I probably hate that we put ourselves in this pretentious place a little more. I hate that I jump to conclusions and judge others because of all this. I really don't know how to flesh it out anymore than that.

In conclusion, like my dog... some days when I'm frustrated... I wish I could just piss on it.

Kind of like he pissed on the snowman...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

15 Years In the Making . . .

I am excited.
I am nervous.
I am anxious.
I am graduating.

I think I must have the world record for longest time taken to get a bachelor's degree.
15 years.
Actually, I think now we're officially up to 16.
I started in 1995. It is now 2011.
You do the math.

I know, I know I've said it before "It's near! I'm getting closer!!"
But this time, I really REALLY am.
2 classes left.
This semester.
C or better.

As excited as I am, I just don't think I'll know what to DO with myself when it's all over!!
I'm scared I won't find a job.
Or worse, that I WILL find a job, and hate it.

Of course . . . There's always Graduate School . . .
Of course that might take me another 20 years.
I am sick, aren't I?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Making Your Home Sing Monday - A Book Review!

Making your home sing Mondays
Yea!! Nan is back! That means Making Your Home Sing Monday is back too! Please lift her up in your prayers, kids - she's hurt her back and is still in some pain. Praying for a quick recovery for you, friend!!

If you want to learn more about Making Your Home Sing or if you would like to join in the link-up, visit Nan over at Mom's The Word to find out more about it!

I don't do a whole lot of book reviews. I don't do a whole lot of reviews, period. There's a reason for that - if I don't really REALLY like or believe in something, I am not going to tell anyone they need to "rush out and get it". Just not my thing.

But there's this book . . .
It's amazing.
It has changed the way I look at housecleaning.
The name of the book is:
Just Clean Enough
By. I.B. Caruso and Jenny Schroedel

The book doesn't preach at you.
It doesn't tell you you you're wrong.
It doesn't even tell you you have to do 50,000 things at once to "get organized".
It goes through 365 days - that's one year - worth of "tasks" that you can do to help get your home where you want it to be.
Here's the secret to this book - you DON'T have to do things in order.
You can go room by room, day by day, week by week.
You can search through the book for a task that takes 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30+ minutes, depending on how much time you have.
You can just pick something at random!

And the tasks aren't hard or time consuming. Most of them don't take any longer than 10 minutes.
Like decluttering bath products in the bathroom.
Or picking up all your shoes in your bedroom.
Or polishing your kitchen table.

Some of these are things I do frequently, but some are things I never thought about!
For example:
washing the shower curtain
decorating the laundry room
putting a bulletin board in the living room

There are some wonderful ideas in this book. And I am going to do most of them (we don't have a basement or a huge attic like some of my northern friends might have).
I encourage you to check this book out. It's not about perfection, but about getting your home Just Clean Enough!

Friday, January 7, 2011

LOI - To All My Young Friends . . .


I have many friends out there that are teens and/or young adults. With all the teen celebrity media out there recently, I thought I would write one long Letter of Intent to all of my sweet sweet friends.

Young Ones:

I have so many fond memories of each and every one of you.
Methodist Church Camp, 2004.
The Big Room at Christ Our Savior
Veggie Tales
Duct Tape
Holding some of you in my lap, just because.

You are all as special to me as my own children, and I love each and every one of you as though you were.

You are all grown up now. Most of you are in college, and some of you will be there shortly. I am so proud of all of you and what you have all accomplished. You have each grown up to be very amazing young men and women.

The time will come for each of you, if it hasn't already, when you will be shown things you've never seen, nor ever wanted to. You will be faced with decisions that will be very difficult to make. You will be subjected to peer pressure unlike any you've seen before.  People will try to get you to do things you don't want to do - things you know aren't right. Things you know go against your morals and your beliefs. And trust me when I say how much I KNOW the word "no" is hard to say - I've been there myself and have a sordid past to show for it.

I encourage you all to listen to your hearts, listen to your guts, and listen to your God. Follow your own dreams, not someone else's, and never EVER compromise yourself for any reason.

You will make mistakes sometimes. Learn from them. Know that it's okay to make mistakes.
You will fail sometimes. Learn from that too. Know that it's okay to fail, as long as you really tried.

Be strong. Stick to your guns. And if you are ever in doubt . . . Pray. God knows you and hears you.

My love and prayers go with each of you.

Miss Jenni

Visit FourSons for more Letters of Intent.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Oh the Sneaky Things We Do . . .

I am a sneaky parent.
I've been known to redirect my children to an alternative truth or two.
I've been known to hide things (chocolate) that I don't want them to get into.
I've been known to spell, sign, whisper, and lip-sync to my husband behind my children's backs.
I've even texted my husband in front of our kids to say what I needed to without them hearing.
Oh, yes, I am sneaky.

I've heard stories of other sneaky parents - one mother I know, for example - hides her chocolate in the top shelf of the china cabinet. Then she sneaks it during nap time. Sneaky, huh?

Another mother has actually hidden her children's Christmas gifts under their own eyes - there was a cubby-hole in the top of their closet that she put all the gifts in. And they never knew it.

And I have to confess that I've gone into my children's rooms when they're not at home to snoop - making sure everything gets put exactly where I found it, of course.

Does it make us bad parents to be so sneaky?
Does it make us dishonest, or deceitful?
Does it mean that we don't trust our children?

No to all the above.
I am sneaky because I LOVE my children.
(okay so hiding the chocolate is for purely selfish reasons, I admit)

I don't say things to their face if I think it will hurt their feelings (such as planning a date night with my husband to a place the kids love to go).
I don't tell them WHY we can't get that $40 Barbie doll that everyone wants (I really don't think my kids need to know what my bank account balance is).
I snoop to make sure they're not doing something potentially harmful to themselves or others (it is not only my right, but my DUTY as a parent).

Yes. I'm sneaky. Very, very sneaky. And I'm proud of it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Seven Years of Reflection . . . A Birthday Message to my Daughter

Dear Sweet Sunshine:

Did you know that you came into this world as my angel?

I remember holding you so tightly that first night -
I didn't ever want to let you go for the nurses to take you.

The first year was such a learning experience.
I laughed and cried a lot.
I loved watching you learn how to roll, sit, crawl.
I loved hearing your first word:
And watching you walk for the first time was unbelievable.

The second year was so much fun.
You were still learning about your world and yourself.
Emily in the Paper

You would make funny faces.
You would chase your PePaw around Granny's kitchen for hours.
Emily's First Santa

We laughed so much that year.

The third year was so filled with love.

You threw the flowers down the aisle for Daddy and me.
We found our new home, and made a wonderful family -
Daddy, Big Brother, Big Sister, Sunshine, and Mama.

The fourth year was filled with life.  
You started school.
I cried.
You made friends.
A baby brother entered your world.
Emily Welcomes Baby Jacob

They've been inseparable ever since.
You make such a wonderful big sister.

The fifth year was a time of growth.
Daddy's Girl

You loved your school so much and was busy learning everything.
You got into some trouble, and had some bumps. But always managed to come out on top!

Being Silly with my Baby Girl

The sixth year filled with hope
You graduated from preschool and started Kindergarten.
First Day of School

Mama didn't know what to do with herself and the baby all day long.
You began to learn how to cope with unusual and sometimes rough situations.
And always came out a trooper

This seventh year has been filled with trials, tribulations, and blessings.
We lost a beloved Grandpa
Grandpa with all of his loving Grandchildren

But found a new home with lots of loving possibilities.
We've also foundered new friendships and cemented amazing family relationships.

I have loved watching you grow.
You have gone from sweet, tiny, infant

*♥..♥*Diva-Licious T'ween*♥..♥*


I can't promise that I will be able to always let you go.
Sometimes I will just want to hold you in my lap for a while.
I can't promise that I won't make mistakes as your mother.
I'm sure I've already made a few.
And I can't promise that life will always be easy.
But I can promise this, my sweet Sunshine-Girl.
I will love you forever and ever.
I thank God every day for blessing me with you.
Happy Birthday my sweet girl.

Mama's Little Princess!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Resolutions . . .

Each year, people ask me the same question: "What's YOUR New Year's Resolution?"
Each year, I have the same answer: "My New Year's Resolution is to not make any New Year's Resolutions!"
I stopped making them a while ago, because I was always setting myself up for failure.
Most people do that when they set resolutions, see.
They place their expectations WAY too high for themselves, and then sometime around July when you ask "Hey, how are those resolutions going?" they say "oh, I stopped somewhere between lose 30 pounds by March and visit the Soup Kitchen every day . . ."
And don't even ask them about finishing that novella.
So I never make Resolutions.

  1. Until this year. 

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, SuperMom Jen has ridden the sheeple wagon and decided to make some resolutions this year.
Now, mind you, my expectations are not too high for myself. I know that I will be able to reach each and every one of these goals this year.
So . . . Without further ado, here are


1) Stop saying "without further ado". Who really says that anyway? For that matter, what the heck does "ado" mean??
2) Exercise for no less than once a week, for at least a minute. After all, I have to keep this girlish *snort* figure intact.
3) Get rid of 5 things, every day. Eggshells, paper towels, kleenex . . . Those can really pile up!!
4) Hug my children daily. All my children. Even the ones I don't like so much.
5) Kiss my husband every day. Especially right before I ask him to do the dishes for me.
6) Take one hour a day, every day for myself. Okay, that one's not so funny. But necessary!!
7) Go to church at least once a month. Since we're going that route anyway.
8) Eat something really really fattening once a week. We're talking fried chicken, chocolate cake, ice cream, thick crust pizza with extra mushrooms and pepperoni . . . yeah, baby!
9) Work on my snarky wit. You readers really don't see how funny I am most of the time. I really need to showcase that more!
And my final New Year's Resolution for 2011 is . . .
1) LAUGH AT MYSELF OFTEN!!!! I think this one is self-explanatory, kiddies!

So, there you have it! Some are funny, some not so funny, but all are real, goals!!
Oh, the one I DIDN'T add to the list (really because I don't want to jinx it) is to FINALLY finish my BGS!! (Bachelor's of General Studies - English and History) Final semester!! Graduation in May, the Lord willing!!

Happy New Year to each of you and many MANY blessings from the God of us all!!