Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Easy Pumpkin Muffins {Recipe}

I found this super simple recipe on Pinterest for Pumpkin Muffins. It was a Weight Watcher's Recipe and I will say I was skeptical but, these muffins turned out super yummy. There are just three ingredients -

1 Duncan Hines Spice Cake Mix
1 15 ounce can of Pumpkin
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

All you do is place all three ingredients in a bowl and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Then bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

I did decide to frost them with a light cream cheese frosting for the benefit of my family but, they did not need that at all. They were super yummy without the icing and I will skip it next time.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

And That's What Healthy Eating Gets You ...

This summer I watched a few documentaries on the whole foods trend. I saw studies of people who had amazing dieting results by cutting out all processed foods and eating more raw vegetables and juicing. I was having pretty good results on Weight Watchers but, I thought it would not hurt to eat even more healthy with the possible bonus of speeding up the weight loss. So I decided to give it a try ...

On Tuesday I ended up in the ER for a good portion of the day ... I had awoken at 3AM with horrendous stomach pain - nothing I had ever experienced before. I took 12 tums in the period of just 3 hours with no relief. Thankfully, we were seen quickly and within a few hours had a diagnosis - Gastritis. Apparently, all this healthy eating had eroded the lining of my stomach - the acid receptors were working overtime to digest all the veggies and nuts plus, the acidity of the spinach drinks were causing even more pain. What no one in any of these documentaries seemed to clue me in to was that apparently it is not good for your body to just jump into this way of eating. Of course, you would not think eating veggies, nuts, and drinking spinach drinks would hurt your body but, as my doctor and son reminded me, too much of a good thing is not always good.

So, for the next month, I am on a very bland diet - jello, bread with butter, potatoes, applesauce, bananas, water ... plus, a few medications that are supposed to help heal my stomach lining. I have a follow up with a specialist on Monday and hope to have a more definitive answer to how long this process will take. Right now, it hurts when I don't eat, it hurts when I do eat ... I am starving all the time but, can eat only small portions of approved foods. For now, no vegetables, no acidic fruits, very little protein and bread that is not whole grain. Crazy right???

So ironic, by eating healthy I end up in the ER. I am sure I will look back at this experience one day and laugh ... some day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy 9th Birthday Lexi!

On Tuesday, our daughter Lexi turned 9 years old! I had a wonderful day planned but, you know what happens to best laid plans. I ended up in the ER for a better portion of the day {Thanks to all the healthy eating I have been doing over the last 2 months my stomach is now in bad shape but, that is a post for another day.} Lexi ended up spending her day with one of our good friends and then dancing until 7PM. My husband and the kids did take her out for ice cream after dance and Lexi handled it all maturely but, I still felt so bad. {Pictured above Lexi opening her gifts before being whisked off by a friend so that I could head to the ER}

Thankfully, we had already planned to let Lexi go with a friend and get her nails down on Friday so, today, we celebrated her birthday. After getting nails done we headed out to one of our favorite restaurants for dinner and tonight Lexi's best friend, Grace gets to spend the night. A little belated but, still a nice birthday. Also, like Lexi and I discussed, a good lesson - sometimes our plans are not God's plans.

Lexi you are our sweet, artistic, talented daughter! We are so proud of the young woman you are growing into. We love watching you dance ... what a beautiful gift God has given you. Always stay strong in your beliefs, a good friend to everyone, and as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside. We love you!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Touch of Sun {I Heart Faces - Photo Challenge}

This week on I Heart Faces the photo challenge was "A Touch of Sun" ... I had the perfect entry from our photo shoot with the kids at the beach a few weeks ago.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

First Grade Bible Presentation

Ava Mae has been waiting for this day for awhile now ... 1st grade bible presentation at church. She really wanted a "big kid" bible after she realized that her picture bible did not have every book of the bible in it.

So, today was the big day. Our pastor presented each 1st grade child with their very own bible.
Ava Mae has been smiling and carrying the bible with her everywhere - she cannot wait to use it at the school table tomorrow.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September Field Trip: Turner Field

Yesterday was our first field trip of the school year ... Turner Field's Weather Day followed by a Braves v. Marlins baseball game. We even got to walk the warning track prior to the start of the game and got up close with several of the Braves players as they warmed up.

I have to say this was probably Devin and my husband's favorite field trip. The girls and I were along for the ride. {Though I love watching baseball - I prefer it usually from a suite or at least the Casino Moon level where there is plenty of air conditioning directly behind you.} Our upper level seats yesterday were not that bad ... we ended up with a great view of the game and we were in the shade the whole time. The best part was that the field trip - including our seats for the game and lunch were only $8 a person. You can not beat that price!!

The weather classroom was hosted by a local television station and was quite informative. We even were able to see a weather balloon up close - something the kids and I recently talked about in Science.

The game had a slow start but, the Braves pulled it out for an exciting end. So glad Devin was able to see some of his favorite players down on the field when we walked the warning track. The players were super nice about waving and saying "hi" to the kids as they were down around the field.

Here are a few pictures of our day at the ball park.

Monday, September 12, 2011

TOS Crew Review: Big IQ Kids

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Recently we were given the opportunity to review an educational website for students from Kindergarten on up called
Big IQ Kids.

My 4th grader, Devin, and my 3rd grader, Lexi, both received a premium membership for the purpose of this review and neither could wait to dive right in and see what this site was all about. offers several areas for your students to utilize ...
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My 4th grader loved every area of - he really enjoyed the math and US States sections. Also the fact that with the completion of each unit he received a game token he could use in the Game Area of I liked the fact that parents could decide if the game tokens could be used immediately or had to be stored up for use on the weekends.

My 3rd grader enjoyed working in both the Math and US States sections but, found the Spelling area challenging due to the computerized voice that gave her the word. I have to add though that she has dyslexia and hearing the correct pronunciation of a word is very important for her to be able to spell correctly. I loved the Spelling area - it was one of my favorites on this site because, I could customize their spelling list to the one we were using each week in their curriculum. I think this part of the program would be a fantastic tool for any child to have who has weekly spelling tests.

The pricing for this site ranges from FREE to $149.99 for a premium classroom membership. So what is the difference between a FREE and Premium membership, I took this directly from Big IQ Kids website:
The primary differences between the BigIQkids FREE and PREMIUM programs are the ability of the PREMIUM program to monitor the progress of the student and advance that student only when mastery of the subject matter has been achieved. Additionally, PREMIUM members have their progress tracked, saved, problem areas identified and these findings are reported via email to parents and/or teachers. The PREMIUM program offers students customized buddies, full game page access and the ability to save game coins and gaming high scores. These functions help double the fun while mastering core academic subject matter. The PREMIUM program has very LIMITED advertisement an no ads are displayed during lesson interaction.
Overall, I am so excited to have this wonderful addition to our curriculum this year. It has given my two oldest children a way to drill both spelling and math in a fun way. I really like the emails I receive from Big IQ Kids with an update on my child's progress in their lessons. I feel the site can be a little hard to navigate at times, in the beginning, but, once you figure out your way around it was simple. For our family, this has been a great way for the kids to continue with spelling and math drills and have fun at the same time.

To purchase a membership for yourself or try out the free areas of Big IQ Kids head on over to their website. Trust me, you will be glad you did!!

Would you like to read what others thought of this website? Head on over to the TOS Crew Blog to read what other crew members thought.

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Disclaimer: I am reviewing this product on behalf of the TOS Crew. I received no compensation, other than two free premium memberships, for the writing of this review. The contents of this review express my personal opinion of the website.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remebering ...

Where were you ten years ago today? That seems to be the question everyone is asking today. I can still remember the events of that day, almost perfectly.

It was a beautiful morning here in Atlanta. My business partner at the time had blessed my husband and I by staying the night at our home and taking care of our newborn baby so that we could both get some sleep. I awoke feeling so refreshed ... I remember getting Devin from his bassinet and coming back into our bedroom and turning on the Today Show. Matt Lauer was talking about an incident that had just occurred at the World Trade Center - apparently, they believed, a small plane had flown into Tower 1.

I remember thinking how horrible of an accident. Then on live television I watched, while nursing our newborn son, as an airplane flew into the second tower.
It was at that moment I began to panic. I called my husband - who thankfully was not traveling but, at an office just a few miles from our home. I called my business partner who was out scouting locations for an upcoming wedding for a client. I called my Mom - who normally always had the news on in the morning but, on this morning was refinishing the hardwood floors in their home and did not have any televisions on.

I remember asking my husband to come home ... I remember feeling horrible. I started thinking what an evil world we had brought our new son into. My thoughts immediately went to my brother-in-law who worked in New York City in the same area as the WTC and to my husband's co-workers who were consulting at a client at the WTC. I began to think about my brother who had just signed to go into the military and was waiting to be called up for boot camp. I felt like I was in a fog for days and weeks afterward.

A little over a year and a week later, I gave birth to our second child. Our lives moved forward but, we will never forget! Today our church had a beautiful remembrance service. My ten year old son sat next to us and cried along with us as we remembered all those who lost their lives and those brave men and women who gave their lives rescuing others that fateful day ten years ago. Though there is forgiveness - we will never forget.

Where were you ten years ago today?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fall Baseball

Today was opening day for the Fall season at our baseball park. The weather was perfect and our game was the "featured" one for the day so we had music and commentary to enjoy.

Devin had a great game! He pitched 2 almost perfect innings and then went on to hit a homerun {his first ever} - driving in 3 RBI's.

Looking forward to a great Fall baseball season ... Go Tigers!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Our Week In Review - September 9th

Our first week of school is done ... all in all it went really well. There were a few grumbles on the first morning but, after a day of schooling we seemed to slide back into our old groove without much resistance. {Pictured above - our school room after the first day ... just keeping it real people.}
This week we studied the importance of our names. I gave each of the kids a print out I had picked up this summer at a Scrapbook Expo which had all about their name. They really liked those. {Behind Ava Mae is our rolling flip chart, a new addition to our school room this year. I absolutely love it. Nice not having to tack things up on our walls.}
We also learned about Leif Ericsson {a Viking} and his discovery of America 492 years before Columbus. At the library we checked out lots of books about Vikings and we read through those after school work was finished each day. We began our timeline and placed the birth of Jesus and Ericsson's discovery of America on it.

We did our first science experiment of the year ... learning how salt in water affects the buoyancy of objects.
Though after coming home from vacation I began to dread the first day of school I have to admit, it actually felt good to get back into a routine. I would have to say one of the easiest starts to our school year ever.

Next week we have our first field trip for the school year ... looking forward to that!

I also just had to put this picture in too ... Ava Mae was so proud to be in a black leotard this year! And while, she is ecstatic I am a little sad not to have anymore ballerinas in pink leotards.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Simple Recipe: Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili

This summer I worked on compiling a Fall menu for our family. I wanted dinners that were simple and utilized, for the most part, whole foods and a big plus, if they could be made in the crock pot. I planned five dinners - we eat at church on Wednesday nights and Friday and Saturday are our nights out.

Tonight we tested out Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili - a recipe I found on Pinterest.


1 - 16 oz can black beans

1 - 16 oz jar salsa
1 - 10 oz package frozen corn
1 - packet taco seasoning
1 - cup water
3 - boneless skinless chicken breasts


Pour salsa in the bottom of crock pot.

Lay Chicken on top of salsa - sprinkle with taco seasoning.

Layer rest of ingredients in crock pot.

Cook on Low for 8 hours. {Note: I stirred everything at about 4 hours in}

When ready to serve - shred chicken and stir.

Optional: Serve with Sour Cream and Shredded Cheddar Cheese {we used Low Fat}

I prepped everything before church this morning and by the time we arrived home this afternoon the house smelled wonderful. Dinner was a big it and we had enough left to bag up some individual servings to give to a friend, who is single, and grieving the loss of her mom. It will be easy for her to defrost these overnight and warm up for lunch.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

With Sympathy

The girls' ballet teacher lost her mom to cancer while we were out of town and upon hearing the news - our hearts just ached for her. I wanted to make her a card from our family and found this saying about seashells ~

which inspired the card I made. We had lots of shells from our trip so we picked out the prettiest one and I glued that to the front of the card.

Friday, September 2, 2011

And They're Off ...

to what Ava Mae calls her "real school" apparently what we do at home does not count.

Today the kids started back to Timothy Classes ... Chemistry, Forensic Science, History, Art, PE, Guitar - just to name a few {it was also their first official day of school for this year}. They had a blast and talked my ear off this afternoon telling me all the fun things they will do this semester!

This semester I am teaching "The Art of Rubberstamping" - my plan is to try and share each week with you what I have taught in class. Lots of fun stamp and paper projects coming up for the holidays!