Thursday, December 31, 2015

Little Pig, Little Pig, Let Me In!

DYI Piggy Bank for Margaret and Joseph
I have been busy trying to clean up my house and reorganize the playroom to turn it more into a classroom.  While we were cleaning it was brought to my attention that Joseph no longer had a piggy bank.  I used to have a small ceramic piggy bank for each of the children but over the years and through various moves I the piggy banks have gotten broken.

We go through a TON of pickles in our house.  Everyone likes to eat them as a snack and eat them with popcorn. So I have several pickle jars sitting around.  I made Margaret's piggy bank first.  I took the clear jar and lid and sealed the lid back onto the jar.  I took the largest flat head screwdriver I could find and punched a hole in the lid for the money to slide through. You can see on the picture on the right where I created the opening for Joseph's piggy bank.

Next I went started to wrap the duct tape around the jar (image on left).  As I took the tape around I overlapped the edge a bit and then cut off the tape,  I went up just enough where the tpae edges just overlapped and completed one more row. I took scraps and put some of the take on the inside of the lid over the sharp metal edge.  It was not too sharp but can't be too careful when little fingers are around! See picture on the right.

Finally I covered the lid.  I laid down the tape in one direction and pushed it into all the crevaces of the lids and cut the excess tape off with sharp scissors. Then I put the final two pieces across the lid in another direction and repeated what I did earlier. This seems to have covered the lid well.  I left a bit of the glass open so the kids could see into the bank without having to open the lid.  The kids couldn't be more thrilled with the results and mom is happy too.  Why?  Well, I do need to start paying them for some chores so that's the bad news but to get their piggy banks completed that was cheap and easy!  Next we will make a tithing bank and a savings bank.  It will be a good lesson for the children.

Happy New Years!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Thankful For Change

For the last two months I have been dealing with personal and work struggles making it hard for me to find time to write.  I am hopeful that I will be able to write more now that issues with life, work, and marriage have settled down.

Lately I have been focused on several things....

Types of ADD.  After years of fighting in my marriage, with the help of some marriage counseling, we have come to the conclusion John and I suffer from ADD.  I explains why we have many of our fights.  I have learned to overcome several of the issues I have with my ADD.  John still suffers from the effects of his ADD.  As we both work on our issues and identify things early it will be easier for us to curb the fighting.

Work. After a crappy last few months my job performance greatly suffered.  I had a performance review.  It was VERY unflattering but in the last few months it is understandable.  I am thankful that at least my management understands my difficulties and is not holding it against me.  Work continues on.  I am thankful to have a job!

Life.  The kids have been doing well.  We have been going to church since James got really involved with the bible and the idea of a God.  He has been so full of questions it worked best to take the children to church and bible class.  I am happy they are getting to go.  We have refrained taking the children because Joseph was so behind physically and prone to serious health problems over common illnesses that it was not worth the risk.  Even though Joseph still suffers from health problem when cold/flu/RSV season is over we risk mixing with others.  For the last month the kids have been attending church and have not been ill.  Thank God for that!

Today is Memorial Day.  We spent a quiet day at home and enjoyed our day.  I am thankful to the men and women that serve and served this country to keep us free.  Today has been a good day to reflect and be thankful!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mr. Puzzle Piece

I was a great day when Mr. Puzzle Piece arrived.  The children had no idea what I was up to!  Feelings had been tense in the house.  I thought the children and I needed to get out and do something just for us. I wanted to create some memories with them.  I took the children and Puzzle Piece to the Butterfly Wonderland.  We had a nice time there!  Puzzle Piece got to see several things including butterflies emerging from their chrysalises.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

It's A Making Bread Kind of Day

Today I made some more of the Amish White bread from  This is the second time I have made this and I have to say I really like this recipe!  It seems to be very forgiving and have made both batches with a few variations on the original recipe.  I am writing down my steps from my first batch.  I liked it a bit better than this batch.

Here is the basic recipe.  See the link above to go to site to see all the information including comments.  There are always a lot of good ideas and advice submitted in the comments.


2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cups bread flour (reserve the last cup of flour)


1. In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam.
2. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
3. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9x5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dr. Sear's Post on Measles

I am shamelessly coping Dr. Sear's post about measles from his Facebook page.  I LOVE Dr. Sears because he does not push vaccines but he clearly states he believes in vaccines.  He writes nice and balanced articles.  If you have not joined his page on Facebook I encourage you to do so!



What makes measles so scary? What is it about measles that spreads fear and dread through our population? Three things, in my opinion, set it apart from most infectious diseases that make us afraid: 1. It's untreatable, and it has a high rate of complications, so we are at it's mercy, 2. It's been virtually eliminated from the U.S., so we aren't used to it anymore, and 3. It's potentially fatal.

Now, let's play two truths and a lie. Two of these statements are true, and one is not. Well, the one that is not is technically true, but it's not true in all practical terms.

1. Untreatable? Correct. There is no anti-viral medication that will help, so we just have to stand by as the disease runs its course. We are powerless, and that creates fear. We don't want to take a risk with something which we have no way to mitigate or control. The only thing that may make measles less severe is high dose Vitamin A therapy (which is approved by the WHO). But that's not an anti-viral med; it just helps us fight it off a little better.

Complications? Ear infection is the most likely complication - treatable. Pneumonia is next - also treatable. Ya, you don't want those things to happen, but they are treatable. Encephalitis? That's much worse. Fortunately it's extremely rare in well-nourished people (see below).

So, the lie is that measles has a high rate of serious complications. It doesn't. It CAN, but it rarely does.

2. Eliminated? Virtually. Over the past 20 years we've sometimes only had 50 cases a year. Sometimes 150. Nobody knows measles anymore, and when we are ignorant of something unfamiliar, we fear it until we understand it.

Ask any Grandma or Grandpa (well, older ones anyway), and they'll say "Measles? So what? We all had it. It's like Chicken pox." Ask a twenty-five-year-old mom with two young kids, and she'll scoop up her kids and run away from you for even mentioning the M word.

If you understand measles, you wouldn't fear it. Respect it.

I do acknowledge that it's a public health nightmare in that it takes a lot of effort and money to contain these outbreaks. And it causes a lot of people to get tested, quarantined, or treated with preventive immune globulin shots. It's no joke. But, those efforts are largely because we are trying to contain it, not because it's going to kill everybody. So, not fear - respect.

3. Potentially fatal? Technically true, but herein lies the lie. It's been publicized as "the deadliest of all childhood fever/rash illness with a high rate of complications." Deadly? Not in the U.S., or any other developed country with a well-nourished population. The risk of fatality here isn't zero, but it's as close to zero as you can get without actually being zero. It's 1 in many thousands. Will someone pass away in the U.S. from measles one of these years? Tragically yes. That will likely happen to one person. It hasn't happened here in at least ten years (or more - I don't even know how many years we have to go back to find one). When that happens, it will be extremely tragic.

But will it spread through the U.S. and kill people left and right? No. Does measles do that in underdeveloped countries? Sadly, yes. It kills countless people worldwide every year. So, that's how health officials can accurately say it's so deadly. They don't have to tell you the whole truth, just the part of the truth that they want you to believe.

Measles can also be serious for young infants, just as many diseases can. It can also be serious for immunocompromised people, just as all illnesses. It can also cause pregnancy complications, just like many infections can. Measles isn't unique in these risks. But they are risks nonetheless.

So, fear measles? No. Not in the U.S.. Respect measles? Yes. Take appropriate precautions with it. But don't let anyone tell you you should live in fear of it. Let's handle it calmly and without fear or blame.

I will keep you up to date in the weeks to come.

Dr. Bob

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Brain Dump: Medical Care, Tiny Homes, Web Hosting, and Writing a Book

Photo Credit:
Am I the only person that keep like 10 windows open in the phone's browser because I am saving websites?  When I went to look for a graphic for this story I found I was not the ONLY person contemplating what I am going to unceremoniously called a "brain dump."  I need someway to hold information I think I might find useful!  LOL

So work with me here....

Did you know there is a medical insurance you can get that is a healthcare sharing ministry?  It meets the requirements for insurance by Obomacare.  The plan is called Medi-Share and it is a Christian Care Ministry run medical plan.  I did not know such a thing even existed! 

I have been contemplating the idea of building a tiny home.  I know the idea sounds a bit crazy since there are so many people in my family.  My parents have been quick to laugh  at my idea.  However, I want to be able to stay at home with my children and that means a lot to me.  That means more to me than having stuff or a large house. I know my children need me to provide structure and homeschool them plus I know they miss me.  I am hoping to purchase a trailer with my tax refund so I can get started building the house.  I found a good link describing a checklist of what you need to start your build. It is a good start to think what you may need.  The blog Clothesline Tiny Homes has some great information and a lot of pictures of the building process.  Very neat site!

Another neat thing I learned about tiny homes is that for them to be mobile they must be no taller than 13' 8" from the ground to the roof peak. I had not thought about this.  It is due to bridge heights and the requirement to get a special permit to move something taller than that through a state. Who knew???  In an article I found it described how you could get an extra nine inches of height in the house by dropping the axles in the trailer.  

Do you like Sriracha?  If you don't know what that is you have been living under a rock culinary speaking!  At a website called Sriracha2Go they sell tiny bottles of the hot and spicy stuff on a key chain so you can have your favorite hot sauce where ever you go!  This could make a great gift to that person in your life that likes things on the spicy side!

Have you heard about a computer program called Scrivener?  It is a program that is a bit tough to learn how to use but once you do it can really streamline the writing process.  I have heard it is particularly useful in writing books.  I have ambition to write a book one day.  Maybe this will help?

Another site I recently heard about is Gumroad. Gumroad is a website that will host a product for you so you can sell it.  I love the idea!  It is a great way to get started in selling a product without having to figure out web hosting and how to set up a shopping cart on your site on your own.  

Wow!  That cleared out all the ideas I was holding in one of the browsers I had on my phone.  LOL  I need to do this more often!  Hope you found something of interest!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Makin' Biscuits

 I made ham yesterday so it was time to get my Southern on and make biscuits.  This was a skill that I did not master until I was older.  Biscuits are tricky!  The biggest thing is to NOT over mix or knead the biscuits!  Here is a picture of the finished product.  The large biscuit is made from the scraps.  It tends to be tougher because you have to knead the scraps together.  Here is the recipe...

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2/3 cup butter (can use shortening)
2 cups buttermilk or soured milk (add 2 Tbsp white vinegar to 2 cups of milk)

1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
2.In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually stir in milk until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.
3.Turn out onto a floured surface (dough will be a bit wet and sticky). Add some flour to the surface until it is not sticky to the touch. Then fold and and knead the dough as little as possible so it just comes together (about 10 to 15 times). Add flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands. Pat or roll dough out to 1 inch thick for super thick biscuits or as thin as 1/2-inch. Cut biscuits with a large cutter or glass cup dipped in flour. Repeat until all dough is used. Brush off the excess flour, and place biscuits onto a greased baking sheet or non-stick aluminum foil. You can brush the tops with left over milk for a darker crust (biscuits on right).
4.Bake for 13 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges begin to brown.

Forgot to add.... if butter starts to get too warm pop the bowl into the freezer after you cut the butter into the flour. You want the butter cold before going into the oven. The butter will steam as the biscuits cook to help give additional rise to the biscuits.

Yield: At least a dozen. 12 to 24 depending on biscuit cutter size.

This recipe is similar to J.P.'s Big Daddy Biscuits.  You can find the original recipe here.  I made some modifications based on my taste and experience.

Fun With Cornstarch Play Dough!

Margaret have some fun with the play-dough!
John took the children out to play with the homemade play-dough first thing in the morning.  The children had a BIG time!  They played for about an hour.  Mostly they are into destruction so they had fun crumbling up the play-dough.  John said when he took the play-dough out of the bag the consistency was strange.  He said it was rather dry and crumbly.  I thought it was a little wet when I placed it in the bag last night so I was surprised to hear that.

Next time I will try a different recipe and see how it goes.  I don't think this is a "good" play-dough recipe but it does have some really good advantages. I think the play-dough needs to be played with the same day it is made.  Another upside is the recipe is gluten free.  We are not a gluten-free family but I know others who are and they cannot play with "regular" play-dough because of the gluten.  Finally, the recipe only has two ingredients and they are pretty cheap.  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Homemade Cornstarch Play-Dough

In an effort to be a "good" mother I thought I would make homemade play-dough.  What was I thinking?  LOL   Really, it was fun.  As is typical for me... I had NO idea what I was doing.  All I know is that play-dough costs a lot of money and with three kids you can go through a LOT of play-dough.  I spent a ton of time combing through Pinterest to find play-dough recipes.

After going through several recipes I decided that I would try a simple recipe first.  It is a quick two ingredient play-dough recipe.  Are you ready?  It's so short you will miss it if you are not paying attention!  Ready???

1 Part Cheap Hair Conditioner
2 Parts Cornstarch

I pulled this recipe from a site from Pinterest.

Since I had NO idea what I was doing I thought I would pull the ingredients together.  I had some cheap coconut conditioner.  I had a HUGE tub of cornstarch from Smart&Final.  I also had several types of food colors.  I thought I could color the dough.  The variety of food color allowed me to try and see if there is any difference.  I also had some Pumpkin Spice essential oil.  I thought it might be a nice sensory addition to the dough.

R: Cornstarch and Conditioner in the bowl
L: This is the dough after mixing
 I put all the ingredients in the bowl.  I stirred and the mixture seemed to come out dry.  I still had no idea what I was doing.  I got a small stainless steel bowl out and started to play with a quarter of the dough.  I started to work and knead with dough.  I added in the pumpkin spice essential oil and some food coloring.  I kneaded the dough. As I kneaded the dough it started to come together.  In the end it looked nice.  If the mix was too dry and did not coming together I added one drop of conditioner at a time.  If you make it too wet and it's sticky then I took a pinch of cornstarch to add to the mix to stiffen it.

Dough after kneading and adding green food color.

There are a couple of warnings I want to throw out at this time...

1.  Make sure you learn from my mistake! If you are going to knead in food color make sure you wear gloves!  My hand is now a technicolor rainbow!

Oops!  Should have worn gloves!

2.  Be careful with cornstarch!  It is light weight and easily flies around EVERYWHERE!  John said it looked like a cornstarch bomb went off in the kitchen!  I swear, I was trying to be careful!  Just be forewarned!

Kitchen after making the play-dough.  Notice the cornstarch everywhere!

Have fun with the recipe!  It is easy.  I plan on trying another play-dough recipe later.  I will post pictures when I do!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sad and Shocking News
I am sad to say we got news this morning that my father-in-law suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.  Please keep my husband's family in your thoughts and prayers at this time.

Monday, January 12, 2015

And John Journeyed Forth... To the Endocrinologist

                                   Photo Credit:
                                          © Bettmann/CORBIS
Since the black mold problem we have all been sick.  So much coughing, sneezing, runny noses, and more coughing!  I've been coughing and having issues until my asthma has acted back up.  It's been bad.  This is the most we have all been sick over a winter since their birth.

We thought this last round of illness was due to heavy black mold exposure but now we are not sure.  After two weeks of being sick and LOTS of OTC medication we are all starting to feel better.

Today Margaret and Joseph had an appointment with a new endocrinologist.  They are both SO small that we need to monitor them closely.  Plus Joseph has Hashimoto's thyroiditis so we need to check his thyroid levels.  After seeking some recommendations from other moms of multiples in the area I settled on a doctor.  John had to go to the appointment by himself since I have very little time off left at work from the holidays.

Everyone dropped me off in the morning.  John took the kids to the doctor office.  He called me later and told me about their day.  They saw the doctor and agreed that Joseph is a candidate for growth hormone.  John explained why we were interested in growth hormone for Joseph with included having my grown so his teeth can fit in his jaw (because the two bottom teeth he has coming in are NOT fitting at all!) and because we want his to grow so he trachea will growth and less his breathing issues.  The doctor agreed that those were good reasons and Margaret also needed to be monitored because she is also quite small.  Joseph weighed 33 pounds and was 41.5 inches tall.  Joseph is not on the chart for height or weight at all.  Margaret was 41 pounds and is 45.6 inches tall roughly.  James is basically 53 pounds and about 55 inches tall.    You can see the BIG difference in height and weight between them all.  That is one of the main reasons that no one asks me if they are all the same age any more.  They look SO different that it looks like I had one child per year versus all the same time.  LOL

You can see how people would be confused!
Joseph recently had a bone age x-ray completed and it was considered normal. Margaret was sent for a bone scan x-ray today.  We will get the results back in a few days.  Joseph also had his blood drawn to check thyroid levels.  John said the kids were SUPER good at the doctor's office.  A nurse even complimented John and how great our kids were.  LOL

John left the doctor's office and took the kids to the Target we got our Christmas pictures redone but they had just closed for lunch.  He went driving around a bit and found Freedom Park.  He let the kids out to play for about 15 minutes before taking them back to the Target to get the pictures.

I'm not sure what else he did but I know it involved lunch, taking my car to get my tires looked at and filled, going to another Target and picking up my prescriptions, then heading to the house for a bit and feed the children dinner, load everyone back up to get me from work.  When they arrived I get into the car and James was in the back sleeping.  John said he tried to keep him awake but James said, "My eyes are just too tired."  LOL   We got home, unloaded everyone one last time.  I got them into the house and it was about 7:00pm.  I got the kids ready for bed while John took a break for a bit.  By 8:15pm we were basically back on track for bedtime.  Not too bad of a day for the kids but I am sure John is exhausted!

I will try and post the new pictures tomorrow.  :)