A Labor of Love

Yes, I have a new baby!
And I didn’t even have to have an epidural. But I did go thru some labor pains to bring you…..my first newsletter:
{The Family Room}
The first issue is going out tonight!
You can still sign up and it’s still free.
Do you have a product or idea for a giveaway? If it’s at least $50 in value, family-friendly and something I think my readers will enjoy, please email me…I have a couple of openings in August. 
I’d like to thank Today’s Creative blog for featuring me this week. I’m honored and excited to be a part of such an amazing group of bloggers! If you don’t read this blog, you should!
Also, if you haven’t seen my video interview with The Blog Frog from BlogHer 09, you can find the link here. (Warning: Chicago was rough on my hair!)
My hubby is at his 20 year high school reunion this weekend, so I’m sippin’ my sweet tea alone. What are y’all doing?
Have a happy weekend!

DIYP-Game Table

Look what I found at a garage sale:

for one dollar!
The checkered game table had some pathetic feet though.
I can relate.
My hubby popped them off easily. While we were trying to decide what to do with my newest find, I remembered a little ottoman I had in storage. 

I removed the pleather cover and decided it would be perfect as a game table in it’s next life.
With a couple of screws, my hubby attached the game top to the top of the ottoman. 
We picked up some wooden circles at a local craft store for a couple of dollars. My daughter painted them black and red.

Guess who has been having non-stop checker tournaments?

(My hubby has destroyed all our checker-winning hopes. He’s brutal).

The Best Pie in the World

I should know.

I happen to be an authority on why I can’t lose 5 pounds.

So there’s that.

I actually Googled ‘best pie in the world recipe’ because I wanted to take my sister’s family (including my new niece from Ethiopia) something special.

I’m not above earning affection thru food. 

Here’s the recipe, copied directly from here:

The Best Pie in the World:
(also known as Toasted Coconut and Pecan Caramel Pie)

Of course, I didn’t bake mine exactly like the recipe because I couldn’t find my 1/4 measuring cup and had to estimate on the butter and guess on the coconut amount. You could say there was some serious ‘eyeballing’ going on.

Oh. And I doubled the nuts.

I like to live on the wild side.


  • 2 (9 inch) pie shells, baked
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 (8 ounce) package flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 (12 ounce) jar caramel ice cream topping


In a medium skillet, melt butter or margarine over medium heat. Add coconut and pecans. Toss well, and saute until coconut is lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add condensed milk and mix until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Spread 1/4 of cream cheese mixture into each pastry shell. Sprinkle 1/4 of coconut mixture over each pie. Drizzle 1/2 of caramel topping over each coconut layer. Follow with remaining cream cheese mixture, then remaining coconut mixture.
  2. Pies may be served chilled or frozen.
    Anything with that much caramel on the inside is a gift from God. Amen.

Y’all. I cannot tell a lie. It is good. 

That’s why I made two.
For more great pies, visit Tidy Mom’s Pie Party!

I Know How You Feel

I said no.

And I watched her storm up the stairs and heard the slamming door.


Some days, nine is hard.

Some days, thirty-six is hard.

My daughter and I were both frustrated. With each other. With ourselves.

Before bed, she slipped a note, half scrawled in cursive, half in print, under my door. 

Half a little girl. Half a preteen.

“Dear Mom, I’m sorry I said ugly things. Every time I do that it’s because I get mad really easily and get all steamed up and angry and say stuff I don’t mean to say. I don’t know why I get worked up like that, but I’ll try harder. Every time I get worked up like that, please remind me to try harder to not say ugly things. Please pray for me and forgive me. Also I want to stop getting worked up like that, but it’s hard for me not to. I don’t know why I do it. But I need your help not to get mad or worked up. I love you and I know you love me.”

I read her letter a dozen times. It reminded me so much of another letter. 

A familiar one about a raging inner battle to control a quick temper, a bad mood, an imperfection, a battle against me.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me….Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7

I hugged my girl tight and told her she wasn’t alone.

“I know just how you feel.” 

WFMW: Helpful Tips for Shopping Online

I love to shop. 
I won’t lie. I like to search for bargains, score deep-discounted items and taunt my savvy victories in the face of those who paid full price.
And you thought I was nice. 
But sometimes, I need a specific item or getting out to shop with three kids isn’t convenient. (Okay, it’s never convenient. But sometimes the Target end cap entices me and I must heed the call).
I’m getting ready for back to school and I’ve purchased my kid’s backpacks, lunch boxes, school supplies and a few new outfits all online, and all at a discount.
[And I’m trying really hard not to do a victory dance right now].
Here are my tips:
  1. Shop the clearance at major online stores like Target and WalMart.
  2. Google ‘coupon codes’ for your favorite stores. I find that about 70% of the time, these codes are valid!
  3. Use free shipping codes or search for stores that offer shipping discounts.
  4. Make a list of what you need and stick to it. 
  5. Take advantage of sites like Shop Smart that do a lot of the hard work for you and offer a rundown of slashed prices.
  6. Tweet about what you’re looking for! I’ve been sent coupon codes by followers and even discount codes by businesses!
Got more shopping tips? Share them, please!
Thank you for joining me for WFMW! {You can read the guidelines here.}
Have a Works-For-Me Wednesday tip you’d like to share? I’d love for you to join us! Please note that the links will close at 9 pm CST tonight, in order to keep away the spammers!
Don’t forget that NEXT WEEK, there will be a “Back to School” themed edition of WFMW! Link up your best tip concerning kids and school-homeschooling, riding the bus, getting lunches ready, etc!
Was your link deleted? Click here.
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  1. Erin @ Closing Time (great coffee)
  2. Laundry and a Giveaway!
  3. Lynns Kit Adv (frozen hot chocolate)
  4. Home School Dad (Reading Programs)
  5. 5intow (catching a run away dog)
  6. Lee @ foodie plus 4 (dinner party themes)
  7. Raising Olives (Fast & pretty DIY Book shelves)
  8. Frugal Girls! {Why I LOVE the Bread Outlet Store}
  9. Garibay Soup {Twitter & NEED TRAVEL ADVICE!}
  10. Amy @ Finer Things (Choosing your Lifestyle)
  11. Angie @ Many Little Blessings {Webkinz}
  12. Cents to Get Debt Free (Easy Jelly Making Tip)
  13. HoosierHomemade (Homemade Lollypops)
  14. Bake at 350 (pasteurized eggs)
  15. Laura @ Heavenly Homemakers (Say it Loud)
  16. Smockity Frocks (Quick 1 Skillet Dinner)
  17. ElizabethG (conserving water)
  18. This Side of Eternity (Sunscreen)
  19. Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers (Blogging Tips)
  20. The Diaper Diaries (Summer Grilling Tips)
  21. Chocolate peanut butter oat truffles
  22. Money Saving Tips from A to Z
  23. It Feels Like Chaos (preschool)
  24. Chief Family Officer (Save $ on hand soap)
  25. Tara @ Feels Like Home (going thru airport)
  26. RockinGreen laundry detergent (giveaway)
  27. Kate @ A Simple Walk (sibling bonding)
  28. Angela@the Testosterone Palace – thyroid questions
  29. Fullnest RockinGreen Laundry Detergent (giveaway)
  30. Amy @ Living Locurto (Pretty Free Paper)
  31. Moneywise Moms (Vertical Storage Space)
  32. Making bread – online cookbook
  33. Becky / sweetpeas (planning ahead for a typical day)
  34. EASY DINNER RECIPE! – Kelly the Kitchen Kop
  35. Lauren @ Team Giles : flat out pizzas
  36. Julie From Inmates (Swiffer)
  37. Lisa@Blessedwith Grace (Childrens Books giveaway)
  38. Monica@DailyDwel ling (movies in bed)
  39. When theres no bread for sandwiches…
  40. The Pilots Wife (Diaper Rash Miracle)
  41. Melanie (Freezing Leftover Pizza)
  42. angie (praying about everything)
  43. Green Baby Guide (Homemade Lemonade)
  44. Sara@Learning the Frugal Life (Prepaid Vacations)
  45. Tip for Entertaining a Busy Baby
  46. the animators wife (fun sand toy)
  47. Tara @ Not So Perfect (Pinata)
  48. Not So Perfect (Exercise Giveaway)
  49. Not So Perfect (Christmas Giveaway)
  50. Flying with special needs kid (or any kid really)
  51. Mari (Crushing Oreos for dessert crust)
  52. Hannah@Wisdoms Pupil
  53. Savings Ninja (Paperback Swap)
  54. the BLAH BLAH BLAHger (protecting hair color)
  55. Kristen (cornflakes and chicken)
  56. Muses of Megret (Fruit Pizza)
  57. Harper@Trial and Error – Shampoo
  58. A Day at the Park
  59. Christine@becomi ngp31 (Making your own bath salts)
  60. Lizz (Cutting Down on Your Dishes)
  61. Boredom Tip – Summer Bridge Giveaway CarolinaMama
  62. Raise Them Up (Save Money W / Disposable Diapers)
  63. Kara (Re – purposed drink dispenser)
  64. Shop with Me Mama – Homemade Body Scrub!
  65. NerdFamily (cleaning Corian tip)
  66. Melinda (Downsizing a T – shirt)
  67. NerdFamily Food (Easy Oven Poached Salmon)
  68. Crazy Adventures in Parenting (Easy Egg Sandwiches)
  69. Kitchen Stewardship (save space time and dishes)
  70. Airbrush YOUR Face!! Learn how at MooreMinutes
  71. Col @ life by muse (More Joy)
  72. Simply Sweet Home
    (easy cinnamon dessert / breakfast
  73. Faith Food and Family (Choc. Chip Zucchini Bread)
  74. e – Mom @ Chrysalis (Vintage Kitchen Aprons)
  75. Gillian @ Mrs.Wright Gone Wrong (Fishing in Alaska)
  76. Se7en (How to Discipline Se7en in Se7en Steps…)
  77. Composing Hallelujahs (life w / o a microwave)
  78. No More Lost Toy Pieces!
  79. exhale. return to center. (reusable market bags)
  80. Jean Stockdale – Bubbles!
  81. janmary n ireland (EASY kids craft)
  82. Cheerios Underfoot – Our top 3 childrens CD recs
  83. sarah (kid dress from maternity top)
  84. TheClarkChronicl es {GREAT Kidoz SAFE Web Browser}
  85. Julie (ClarkChronicles) {MAMA MONDAYS!}
  86. A Menu Planning System for Summer
  87. Brew Your own Kombucha
  88. rachel from springpad (quicker dinners)
  89. Cardamoms Pod (Great Phonics Manipulatives)
  90. Jolanthe {Favorite iTouch & iPhone apps}
  91. A Busy Mom of Two (Shoe Organization)
  92. Steady Mom (dealing with emotional fatigue)
  93. Stephanie (Exercise Videos)
  94. Camian Academy (Weight Watchers)
  95. Kelly @Fruit of the Womb (Ritas – safe treat)
  96. Saving and Giving (Lazy Frozen Yogurt)
  97. Newlyweds (Cornstarch)
  98. Annie Kate (Furnace Duct Maintenance)
  99. Celebrate Every Day – Rotating Toys!
  100. KLee – Weekend in the Mountains
  101. Alicia – keeping a good attitude when traveling
  102. Sandra – vacation lessons learned!
  103. Stephanie – School paperwork organization
  104. Kitchen Pot Rack + $10 Target Gift Card Giveaway!
  105. Tracey @ Girls to Grow (Healthy Eating)
  1. Sunnymama (toy storage in a small space)
  2. Beautiful Calling (Picnic Ideas!)
  3. Melissa @ Frugal Creativity (vacation prep)
  4. PeacefulHome (fun for all cleaning the floor)
  5. PapuaGirl in Dallas (Mentoring New Refugees!)
  6. Molly Green (blanket tips)
  7. Amy Lynne@momsbalance
  8. Sandra @ A Lot of Savings (Staying Home)
  9. Fairion – Swimming lessons
  10. The Lane Chain (Cleaning Stainless Steel)
  11. A Day in the Life (Vacation Packing Tip)
  12. Cheryl@SomewhatC runchyMama – Eucalyptus Oil
  13. 4 Sweet Sisters – Swimming with beads
  14. Brilliant Moms (Car Time Tips)
  15. Putting Things in their Proper Place
  16. Strawberry / Lemon Creamcheese Pie (TrentTribe)
  17. < a href="http://cagefreemonkeys.blogspot.com/2009/07/works-for-me-wednesday-fruit-simple.html" target="">Jen@Cage free Monkeys – Kids Eating Fruit – – GIVEAWAY
  18. pennypinchinmomm a (local food)
  19. The Meanest Momma : Teach Kids How to Ride a Bike
  20. Susan @ Practicing Thrift (pretty & useful decor)
  21. Neighbors – House : Laundry detergent pics & video!
  22. The Prudent Pantry (Cookbook Holder)
  23. From Pigpen To Paradise – Reusing A Laundry Scooper
  24. Tips for making a great cheesecake
  25. April (Home Maintenance List)
  26. Making Muffins & Cupcakes Easy (Family Makes Cents)
  27. Teri Lynne @Pleasing to You {kids company}
  28. Marci (The House That Cleans Itself)
  29. MamaHall (Bottle to Sippy Success)
  30. Gluten – Free Homemaker (storing baking ingredients)
  31. Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker (extra buns)
  32. Snack Rations – Homeward Bound
  33. Pam@BeyondJustMo m (Need Answers?Ask New Questions)
  34. Sharon@Because I Must (counting down)
  35. Sherean (Super simple DIY pirate cake)
  36. Sonshine (savings shopping)
  37. Adventure Mom @ Great Toddler Shoes
  38. Blog World HELP with my aggravations!
  39. Allergy Helpers (ilovemy5kids)
  40. Simply Mangerchine (homemade toothpaste)
  41. Moving Forward (folding laundry)
  42. Tara@The Five of Us (Homemade Chalkboard)
  43. Easy Family friendly casserole
  44. Michelle Smith (homemade buttermilk)
  45. Effortless Savings (Reducing Food Waste)
  46. Jamie (SuddenlyStay@Home) PressN Seal place mat
  47. No Place Id Rather Be (Online To Do List)
  48. Kathie @ Frugal Fit and Fabulous
  49. Mrs Random : Winning the Daily Chore Battle
  50. ET @ Titus2 : 3 – 5 (kids sharing bdrooms no battle)
  51. Paula@Organizing Tips 4 Moms (Garage Organization)
  52. Milehimama (Crockpot granola and brisket recipes)
  53. Making Rice More Nutritious
  54. Hide the Flax Seed @ To China and Back & Beyond
  55. Meal Planning from Fridge to IPod or IPhone
  56. The Gaines Gang (Thrifty Christmas)
  57. Titus 2 Homemaker (recipe software I love)
  58. Impress Your Kids (role – playing with preschoolers)
  59. Teacher Gift Ideas from a Former Teacher
  60. Grammar of Life (Cleaning Floors!)
  61. Veggiemomof2 (squeeze sour cream)
  62. BerryMorins Bits & Tips – Online Tutoring
  63. Quick Meat Sauce
  64. Shannon @ Creating Cute : Think home – made first
  65. Penny Raine free ebook – homemade laundry soap
  66. Buffie (Starting the Day on a Positive Note)
  67. !5 minute cleaning
  68. eBay tips & GIVEAWAY!
  69. Becca (fitness tip)
  70. Aunt Mommy / Lorena Bee – Fold napkins in the dryer!
  71. Michelle @ My Life with Moxie – Belly Balm
  72. Christi @ The Journey – reusable bags
  73. Krisi @ Mom & Dad to R Kids – First day of School
  74. Kristi_runwatch (free and orderly toy storage!)
  75. Great Deal for Kids Clothes
  76. Josie (kid tip)
  77. Ramblings of a Happy Homemaker (Safer Bug Spray)
  78. Jo Ann (Remove Kitchen Odors From Hands)
  79. From Pigpen To Paradise – Easy Party Plan & Giveaway
  80. Sidewalk safety for preschoolers
  81. Uses for Jelly Jars (From the Desk of a Princess)
  82. Elaine H Journaling
  83. Bright and Happy Home (Paying Cash)
  84. Cheri @ What Is It NOW (Assets / Spanx)
  85. Beth @ TheNaturalMommy Bread – making tips & Recipe!
  86. HappilyDomestic (I am NEW! tip for online shopping)
  87. DIY Kids Wall Decor For Under $5
  88. Three Boys and Counting (using up products)
  89. kirwin @ graceful creative (my food philosophy)
  90. Homeschooling for his glory
  91. Niki (MOPS)
  92. Lori at The Book Lady (Great tip for shaved legs)
  93. Diann @ The Thrifty Groove (Savory for bug bites)
  94. Elena@MyDomestic Church planning for your own death
  95. Appleberrys Attic – Garage Sales!
  96. Saving Money Ideas (Freezer Organization)
  97. SWAP SAVERS (FREE Music Downloads Websites)
  98. Buildeth Her House (help – meet w / giveaway)
  99. Steph@My Country Haven (Keeping Up w / Crochet Hooks)
  100. Amanda from A MiniVan Full
  101. Thrifty Wednesday : Bargaining for a good price
  102. Jenna (Easy way to keep toddlers entertained)
  103. Counting pennies works for me!! ~Mandy
  104. Annies Home – window washing mix
  105. Homemaker Barbi (Getting Organized)

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Seeing the Everyday {Giveaway}

*UPDATED* Congratulations to our 3 winners: All About Nonsense, The RedHead Diaries and Ellen!  Please look for an email from me! And I hope the rest of you will take advantage of this fabulous magazine and continue to capture the everyday! 
Recently, I joined FaceBook and I’ve spent the last several weeks reconnecting with childhood, high school and college friends.
I’ve been reminded of two things: I’m not that great of a friend and time flies.
I cannot believe that it’s been nearly 20 years since I graduated from high school.
I cannot fathom that I’ve been married 15 of those years.
I cannot breathe when I think of time passing so quickly that one day I will blink and my children will be grown.
I cannot stop time. I cannot slow the clock. I can’t.
But I can see the everyday.
I love today’s giveaway, Seeing the Everyday Magazine.
It’s a beautiful magazine that does just that. It shares stunning stories of capturing our everyday lives. Seeing the Everyday…do you?
I’m giving away 3 subscriptions today (valued at $20 each).
Stop what you are doing. Tell me what you see today.
This giveaway will close on Thursday.

Camping Like a Family

[I ended up in Jackson, Mississippi, for the night and I have an actual boarding pass for a 7:00 AM flight home.  I am more than ready to sniff my kid’s necks. Thanks for your support last night. I am never flying again. Praise the Lord, Amen.]
With all my free airport time, I decided to sort my vacation pictures and relive the last week. I dreamed about this picture all night. So, there’s that.

Even though we started off our family vacation a day early in true THAT family style, it only went up from there.
Because nothing says good family fun like reconnecting with nature:
And dressing up like cowboys. It’s how the west was won.
It just does the gizzard good, ya know?

(Believe me, my innards are happy seeing my little girl on her first horse. It’s all she’s talked about!)
We ended up doing a skit for the camp talent show. It ended up with my son playing a nekid guy. Because that’s funny. (But someone forgot to tell us that the talent show involved real talent. My kids informed me afterwards they need some sort of lessons this next year. Because nekid isn’t that funny.)
I watched my older children grow up before my eyes. The freedom they felt at Family Camp empowered them and it was a treat to watch their confidence rise like the sun.
My toddler loved this:

So, did my other child.
I have never felt more reconnected and refreshed with the family God has granted me. It really got me in touch with my Oriental side.
Yes, that is my toddler using the chopstick from her hair to pick the lock of our next door neighbor’s cabin. 
[Funny side note: the little outfit my two year old is wearing was mine, when I was two, so, it’s pretty much an antique, which was proven when she sat down at the family-style dinner and all the buttons popped off, exposing her delicious pink skin, so, of course, she removed the top and completed the meal half-dressed, and that would have been fine, but the pants started itching, so she took those off too, which would have been okay too, except that she didn’t have panties on, which didn’t surprise me in the least, but shockingly, it did surprise a lot of other people.]
Yes, I realize that was one sentence. I might be losing my edge.
Because you can take our family out in nature, but you can’t take that family out of, well, that family.

When Life Hands You Lemons, Sit Down on the Airport Floor and Cry

It turns out I’m still in Chicago.
And in a calamity of events, it doesn’t look like I’m going to get home tonight. 
I really wish I’d gotten this guy’s number.
I am not a good traveler. I’m wrinkled and weary and weepy.
At this point, I’m just looking for a flight heading South. I might end up in Jackson, Mississippi or New Orleans. 
Or Hawaii.
I have my laptop and plenty of time. Can y’all pipe in and tell me where you live?
And if you have sweet tea, please drink some vicariously for me.
Because every time I order it here in Chicago, I get a blank stare.