Spring

20140423-012209.jpgIt took awhile but  Spring  is finally here and here to stay. Ole Man Winter did not want to leave. He even made a quick return in  April and then again in May!  I  enjoy experiencing all 4 seasons but when February arrives winter should be heading out the door. I was born and raised in Miami, Fl and for Floridians winter isn’t suppose to last more than 3 days.  Since moving from Fl to states with actual seasons, I look forward to enjoying each one but I especially look  forward to spring. There’s something about thawing out, the anticipation of warmer weather, bright sun, longer days, beautiful colors, flowers I could go on and on. I really do love Spring.

Nothing helps welcome spring into our home more than a beautiful wreath. This one may look familiar, it’s my Mardi Gras wreath with a few little changes. I use to have a spring wreath until a bird decided to make it the base of it’s nest. It was really quite amazing. Our wreath was so wonderful a bird wanted to call it home. Unfortunately, we had to evict her. A nest on the front door of our home was not the best location. Just like the birds in spring we should take the time to make and clean home.  This is the ti

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me to simplify our lives, shed our winter coats and prepare for all the wonderful activities warm weather brings. Before I get to enjoy relaxation of summer I must do some organization.

This year we have a baby in full movement mode and growing like a wild flower leaving behind a surplus of baby clothes and baby gear. We won’t even talk about the growing 8 and 6 year olds. If we could live naked, not eat and keep all junk mail and school work at school our home would be 95% cleaner. Since those aren’t viable options spring cleaning is the only other option.  I’ve been busy getting my spring to do list ready. As of now it includes cleaning up my home, finances, body and spirit.  I also really would like to plant a garden with the girls. I am horrible at growing plants but failure is not an option. Truth be told my spring list is a revamp of my New Year list, ha, but to start home is the one I can tackle with quick results.

  • 20140517-004447.jpgTo cleanmy home: I really like the idea I found on a few organizing blogs that suggest cleaning a room a week. A room a week seems reasonable and not as stressful as cleaning an entire house. I’ve split up  my cleaning
    • Homework area
    • master bedroom
    • girls’ bedroom 1, 2, 3

These 5 areas are my hardest areas to keep clothing and paper in order. When I complete these 5 I’ll add more to the list, but to start I’ll keep it simple. Sure all of this may have to be added onto a summer list but at least there is a list and this Spring I will start. Spring, the beautiful season where God wakes the hibernating, bloom flowers from dry dormant stems and branches, the season where we witness renewal and rebirths. It’s the season that brings

hope for a new start a clean start. Happy Spring cleaning!

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Mardi Petit (Small Tuesday)

20140423-010032.jpgWe recently moved to Baton Rouge making this our first Mardi Gras. Well, technically not our first, my husband and I went with friends while in college. Needless to say after leaving I had that “been there done that feeling. I never imagined we would be living here and living through Mardi Gras season. Yes, this year I learned that Mardi Gras is not an event but a season.

I really wanted the girls to experience Mardi Gras but not “really” experience Mardi Gras. We were very happy that we were able to enjoy the season without exposing our girls to the “adult” side of Mardi Gras. I made a cute wreath, Audrey made a personal fable/fairy tale float for school, we had King Cake, went to parades and got tons of beads! We even used a few beads for a little decoration.

It’s difficult sometimes trying not to join in secular activities and living in Louisiana, Mardi Gras is everywhere (even in schools)! With a little work and planning we were able to give our kids piece of the experience. We made sure to tell them the reason behind Mardi Gras and explained that just because God forgives us does not mean we have to sin on purpose. Also that you never have to wait for a holy period to repent, God is always listening. I am a firm believer that a Godly lesson can be taught in every experience. I’ve been blessed with the ability to think quickly on my feet and take advantage of most opportunities to teach my girls about morals, values and expectations.

We are very thankful that Baton Rouge takes time to cater to families, it made planning for and enjoying “Slim Tuesday” just as enjoyable as all those who took part in Fat Tuesday.

When living in a new city, find out the mom connections, they always have the best suggestions on family friendly places and activities. Look for:

  • local Parents magazines
  • facebook pages for moms in your city.
  • MOPs (mother’s of preschoolers) groups
  • local churches

Here are some of our Slim Tuesday fun.

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Wooden letters, hot glue and Mardi Gras beads.

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The Prince Frog float.

Coco-everything- oil

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I love coconut oil. Love it so much I have to say it twice, I love coconut oil! I started using it 2 years ago, mainly for cooking but as time passed I found more and more uses for it. It truly is an amazing item. A quick google or Pinterest search will quickly give you all the ways you can use coconut oil. There is even new research about all the  new health benefits being researched about coconut oil on Coconut Oil’s website. There are so many promising research is showing coconut oil’s ability to :

  • coconutoilpic.jpg.jpgreverse Alzheimer’s
  • show positive results for people with diabetes
  • boost metabolism
  • help lose weight
  • kill bacteria

One  jar of coconut oil can be used in every room in your house. Cooking, as a safe moisturizer, and even on furniture. Recently I burned my hand while cooking. I started using coconut oil on it and it has healed so fast and looks better than some of my older burns (my cooking /ironing battle scars). My little one had a diaper rash we couldn’t rid of. We finally added some coconut oil to her diaper change regiment and it worked! If you are not using coconut oil, hurry and grab a jar. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Helpful Tips:

  • When buying Coconut oil make sure it’s high quality.
  • I keep multiple jars, 1 for cooking and 1 for personal use (i.e., lotions, diaper rash treatment).
  • Look out for sales. Coconut oil can be pricey at times,  Vitacost,    Costco and Amazon usually has good deals.  Coconut oil is truly special. If you haven’t started using it start now, I promise you will fall in love with this amazing item. It has become a must have in our home.
  • If you buy one big jar, spilt it into multiple jars for the different use.
  • For body moisturizer (lotion) I mix mine with raw shea butter. I find it last longer.
  • During the winter your oil will solidify during the warmer months you may keep it in the refrigerator.

For more great ways to use coconut oil and all of it benefits visit my natural living  Pinterest board.

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My Valentine

20140215-123304.jpgThroughout the year my husband and I stay on our girls about everything. We are consciously trying to raise specific type of ladies. So, when the time comes to treat them, we well I, usually do a little more than usual. These are the times when being a craft hoarder comes in handy. It’s during these busy times (I’m now working full time again) when it pays off to have a good stash of craft items to get you through any spur of the moment crafting task.

I really hadn’t thought much about Valentine’s Day and much like most of the country on Thursday my brain went into high gear and this is what we ended up with. Treats for our Sweets. Weather and time made us miss both daddy and donuts and muffins and mommy so this was a great opportunity to make it up. We had breakfast treats (along with fruit) candy and cards from daddy, and new gymnastic leotards (I had them so just turned them into gifts).

What I had in hand:

  • twine from about 3 years20140215-123341.jpg
  • ribbon from 2 years ago
  • heart plate we used when the girls brought treats to preschool (they are now 8 and 6)
  • candle that was around the house
  • table runner I’ve had for while
  • balloons and helium from a leftover tank from our Summer birthdays
  • our family center chalk board (50 cent yard sale frame)
  • washi tape I had in my school bag
  • bags with chalk board label. This was a recent purchase and I wasn’t sure what I would use them for. Didn’t know I would need them so soon. I think it all came together nicely.

It was a great surprise for the girls, we had a difficult week (bad weather, difficulty at school, full moon) and this was a sweet way to end it.

If you’re starting out  and you are not sure what to get, here are a few essentials you can slowly get to start your own hoarding collection.

  • hot glue gun: (don’t buy the small portable  one you’ll end up buying a bigger one anyway)
  • ribbon: ribbon makes everything prettier; red, white, yellow, green and blue will cover every season and holiday20140215-123327.jpg
  • washi tape: these are sometimes better than ribbon they stick and peel right off
  • sharpie pens: perfect for writing great notes
  • scissor: a good pair that you use only for your crafts and leave it in one place. I don’t know how many times I’ve asked the “where are the scissors girls” question.
  • double sided sticky tape runner
  • chalk board or an empty frame: these are great for writing about your event or to frame printables.

The most important thing to remember about crafting is that what you create is yours. Don’t let Pinterest and the professional scrapers scare you from enjoying things you’ve created. If I can do it you can too.

What project are you going to start?

Quick Shout-Forward

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When in the Sticks…

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Part of our family’s way of life is moving every few years and once we moved one season just to move again the next. No, we are not in the military my husband coaches college football. The fans don’t realize how the coach’s families lives revolve and evolve based on football season. It’s a love hate relationship for me. Love the season hate being a married but single mother during the season.

When we started on this path 11 years ago, I hated moving. I was born and raised in Florida and I had to leave my entire family. I dreaded every move. Well, a lot can and has changed in 11 years. Now, when the time comes to move, I know for sure it’s God’s work and his plan. Our family now seeks His guidance and try to look for the positive with every move. Moving is also  stressful for our kids.  Our family tries to turn a move into a new adventure. We  turn moving into a learning experience and try to make learning about a new place, culture, geographical area as exciting as we can. We let them know that we can make anywhere home, as long as we are together. They may not know it now but our moves will help them deal with fear of the new and unknown. I pray that that our moves will allow them  to go anywhere their dreams desire.

So, when in Rome The Sticks… and here in the Red Stick (Baton Rouge) they celebrate Carnival season and Mardis Gras! I didn’t even know Mardis Gras was so big throughout the state I thought it was a New Orleans event, boy was I wrong.

It all begins in January starting with enjoying King Cake and celebrating on through the end of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). I’ve learned that many people take down Christmas decorations just to put up Mardi Gras decor. So, when in the Sticks, if they decorate then I must as well. I figured a  Mardi Gras wreath would be perfect.  While the kids were at school I made a quick (well not quick) stop at Hobby Lobby. I found these adorable wreaths that were way too expensive (Mardi Gras items were not on sale yet). When it cost too much, might as well make it for less. While there, I remembered the girls talking about King Cake (it’s part of the curriculum in French class)  and of course making a wreath turned into a surprise for them. Decorations and King Cake, great way to end their week. I love rewarding them for working hard and report cards were just sent home the day before. It all turned out well.

To make the wreath: I used the foam wreath but next time I will use the wire. My first time around  I wanted something super simple and floral pins were perfect. The hardest part was picking out the details.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • foam wreath

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  • 2 rolls of 15ft of ribbon (I wanted it full) I used burlap (so in)
  • floral pins
  • 1/2 yard of a different ribbon (length depends on how long you would like it to hang)
  • any embellishments you like on your wreath. I used a little saxophone and a mask.

Take your wreath, burlap and pins. Pin the first piece of burlap and gather going around pinning from the backside. It’s that simple. I did the same thing on the top to cover any green foam.

When you are done, place your ribbon and embellishments where ever you like. I loved the end product. Now, I’m  not sure I want it outside! I guess I’ll be making another soonThis was very fast and easy. If I can do it I know you can too.

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The tradition is whoever gets the baby buys the next King Cake or throws the next party. The King Cake is named for the the 3 Kings and the baby is baby Jesus.

How was the King Cake, very sweet! The girls and my husband really enjoyed it. They enjoy sweet things a little more than I do. It would have been perfect with a lot less icing and no food coloring (everything in moderation). In the picture you can see the little baby.I love the wreath, but the best part of this craft was having my girls come home from school and seeing their surprised, excited faces. Their exact word “mommy you are the best”!

 

Now that we have a wreath, ate King Cake and have some decorations up I can proudly say “Laissez les bon ton roulet” (Let the good time roll)!

 

 

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2013 Got it Done List

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This is the time of year when we all stop and reflect on what we’ve accomplished, what we wished we would have tried and what we will push off onto next year.

This year I must say I’m proud of myself, I got a few things done! I became a stay at home mom (SAHM), I started painting/repurposing  furniture, I cooked and baked (maybe a bit too much), I worked on my blogs, I made it to a few pounds less than prebaby weight (yay me) and I no longer just a morning and bed time prayer, I now find myself praying throughout my day! Sure I did other things too, like keep my kids healthy, my marriage strong, but these were new things that I was really afraid to tackle. I didn’t do it alone my family and 3 very patient friends helped me out through it all.

Here are some of my projects for 2013! To see some more checkout my video: Got Done set to Mandisa’s These Days, my favorite!

 

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This new year I have a few paint projects (now that I’ve learned from my mistakes), a few all natural products to create, new recipes and crafts to try, definitely blog more, run a 5k and finally hit my ideal weight 9 years and 3 babies later. No, not resolutions just things I want to “get to”. If by chance I don’t finish something, God willing, there will always be next year. Please make sure you put Joyful Shouts and Shout SL Therapy on your to visit list throughout the new year for details on how I completed all my projects and speech-language information.

What is on your New Year Get to List?

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A New Year

NewYearJSA year ago today I didn’t have a clue where we would be living, what I would be doing or how my new little baby would be like. Only things I was sure of were that we more than likely would be moving to Louisiana and that it didn’t matter what it took, our family would be living in one state under one roof. So, as a family we stepped out on faith, prayed, prayed and prayed and today we are here. Today we have a beautiful 1 year old with a very strong personality. We are living in one state under one roof. We made it, He kept us. He kept us together, clothed, fed, healthy, safe and faithful. He kept us despite just one income, He kept us.

Now a new year quickly approaches and again we do not have any idea where we will be this time next year. We don’t know if I will find a job here, if my husband will find a new job (that’s always a possibility in college football), if I will be able to find a good place for our baby to go to, if I find a job. I can go on and on with the uncertainties that this new year will bring but I won’t. What I am absolutely sure of is that we will step out on faith. We will surrender all uncertainty unto Him. We will pray and we will listen for His answers. If things get difficult we will cry out His name and again we know He will answer, it may not be instant but He will answer. He always answers.

Despite the uncertainty, I am excited about this new year. I am excited about experiencing  what where He will take us and the blessing we will receive along the way. This new year I won’t be making any resolutions. My plans and goals are pretty much what they have been for awhile, to simplify our lives, enjoy the moment and to work towards the dreams He has placed in my heart.NewYearJS2

Yes, this new year may bring many changes but what I know the one thing that will not change is my faith that my family will be taken care of. We maybe tested along the way, but our faith will remain. In our home we are resolved to follow His lead.

I pray that this new year will bring you and your family strength in your faith and joy in your spirit. Happy New Year!

What are you resolved to keep the same this New Year?

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Snow Day

20131124-023610.jpgFirst day home on Thanksgiving break. My husband was home and the plan was to escape and have a me day, however, Mother Nature had other plans. Isn’t she a mother? How could she do this, the weather cold and wet. This mommy is not into cold and wet. Plan B sweats, watch my NOLES, mess with hubby while he watches sleeps football and craft with my girls.

NOLES won, hubby rested and since it was cold and wet, we made snow. During our walks the girls and I have been collecting pinecones and acorns. Today we completed step one of our pinecone winter forest. This is sucha a  simple project. You have to try it.

You’ll need: Pinecones (collected from walks or bought), glue, brushes, baby food jars  and glitter. It was so easy I actually left the girls and didn’t  monitor hover. I use to be very picky about how they do their crafts, not anymore.  Yes, they wasted used a lot more glitter and glue than I would have normally allowed, but it didn’t matter. They enjoyed themselves and in this case more snow (glitter and glue) the better. 20131124-023632.jpg

Steps:

  • Prep pine cones: clean and heat in oven to all bugs that may have setup home.
  • Prep craft area: cover tables get materials.
  • I hot glued the pinecones on baby food jars.
  • Girls painted and added glitter.
  • Set aside and let dry.

That’s it! If I can do it I know you can. It’s a great simple activity for little ones. They can’t mess it up, even if they are a little heavy with the glue. The girls didn’t fight once, they had fun and I was still able to relax. Plan B isn’t always the second best thing you can do, sometimes it’s exactly what you need to do. Living the way God intended, time with family.

 

Operation Christmas Child

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I love  Christmas season, the season for giving and believing. Throughout every season we really try to teach our girls to care more about people than things. So, I try to  make it a point to teach the girls that this season is not all about receiving. Four years ago we started participating in Samaritans Purse’s Operation Christmas Child.  This was a great way to start teaching them about giving to others. Before this my girls really did not understand that there are children around the world and at home that don’t have as much as they do. With Operation Christmas Child it not only allowed us to pack boxes for children, we also prayed for the children receiving these boxes.  Now, packing boxes has become part of our holiday and back to school tradition.

Our girls start planning during back to school shopping, they always remind me to keep the shoe boxes. I often will get extra school supplies while they are on sale and save for our boxes.  The girls enjoy packing their boxes and writing letters to the little girls who will receive them. Every drop off is filled with laughter and joy (see the smiles above). While shopping and packing we always talk about, why it’s important to give to others and explain how there are children in this world who do not have all the things they have and that giving and praying for others makes God smile. Seeing them enjoy giving always makes it easier for us to give to them (sshh don’t tell them that).

So, if you would like to make God smile, and your soul shout, pack a box or two and make a child’s day. It’s really easy, this is how:

  • visit Samaritans Purse and find the nearest drop off  location and suggestions for packing your boxes.
  • Grab a couple of shoe boxes (plastic ones work well)
  • Fill your boxes with various items (we do a combination of school, hygiene and toys)
  • Pray for the children who will receive your boxes.
  • drop off your boxes and make $7 donation for shipping or go online and make your donation and print your labels (you’ll be able to track where you boxes end up)

Collection begins Nov. 18-25th around the country. This is truly a great way to bring in Thanksgiving and Christmas. When giving, always make sure you think local as well. This year we are also going to try to “light up” a few spirits. We will be donating items and gifts to a women’s shelter and pulling a few ideas from Courtney DeFeo’s  Lil Light O’Mine  wonderful list of  Light ‘em Up Activities for families and groups.  Don’t worry some are as simple as saying thank you. If you want to teach your children about caring for others start with 1 kind gesture before you know it their desire to give will be just as strong as their desire to receive.

I would love to hear about how you give during this season. Go ahead give me a shout.

 

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