Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas preparations

Spoiler alert! Grandparents' Christmas Presents pictured below!!

I try to be a good mom. I try and try and try. I know that kids like to help. Since I know they like to do things that are messy and I don't mind the mess - I (usually) clean up after them OK. I'm having them make "chip clips" as presents for the grandparents. Who can't use a chip clip, I say! Its truly a clothespin painted with glitter or arrayed with faux diamonds, and they are truly handy. My goal of this activity is to teach them about GIVING vs. RECEIVING during Christmas. Too much of the gimmes. (Tangent: We got a huge, 1" thick Fingerhut catalog a month ago that Hannah won't give up....she sleeps with it and the toy pages are well-worn. I didn't even think we were on the Fingerhut mailing list!)

Back to my story. The trouble comes in for me - who, of course, as you have guessed from a lack of Christmas cards in your mailbox, is nowhere NEAR ready for the holiday - when the little darlings EAT the glitter and EAT the glue

and paint their baby sister with glue when I have gone to put away laundry (gone for all of 3 minutes)(I can hear you saying, "NOOOOOO! Not THAT sweet girl!") , it is just too much for me.
No pictures of the latter; camera ran out of batteries. Probably a good thing. Mama was NOT happy.

That big one is getting close to getting switches and coal in her stocking. But then, my learning curve is pretty steep. Due to past history, I should know better not to turn my back on her with paint, as Daddy-o did here during our May 2007 bathroom remodel: Whoops, well, add glue to that list.

Gotta run. Have to give the littlest girl a bath to rid her of her glue 'do.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Santy Claus

We joined some pals the other night for a visit with Santy Claus at the Western Sizzlin the other night. Hannah was eager to tell the jolly fellow (whom we had also spied in the BK last Sunday after church) just what she wanted for Christmas. Quite a change from last year when she would have nothing to do with the man....

The picture I didn't get was of her dark eyes after she left his lap with a gift (a "princess" puzzle).
"I'm so MAD at that Santa Claus."
"Why? Han, you got a nice new puzzle!"
"I TOLD him I wanted TRAIN CARS and he just gave me this puzzle. I am MAD because I wanted TRAIN action, not a puzzle."
"Well, Hannahkins, we have to be grateful for the gifts we DO receive, and anyways Santy has to make his list and you might get train cars under the Christmas tree. What about that?"
"I'm STILL mad. I wanted train cars TONIGHT."
"Han, you are going to end up with switches in your stocking."
"Oh, no I won't!"

And then we have the Sugar Baby. Who wouldn't let Santa get too close. So she reeeeee-ached over and took the teddy bear with her fingertips. Satisfied with her 'score,' she smiled back to mama....

But she's all about giving hugs, so I got a picture anyways. I'm not about to make 'em scream if they don't want to sit on the lap of a costumed old man....but if I can coax them and coerce them, then its good for the photo album.

Let me know if you see Thomas the Train on sale. Or if you have a willow tree in your backyard.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Clifton Forge Christmas Parade

If you like fire trucks, cute kids, local celebrities and cloggers, then you've logged on to the right blog!

A shot of where we were standing to see the parade...Andy's office is in that building to the left of Town Hall.

"Is there going to be candy at this parade, Mama?"

The first group of cloggers - Hannah's favorite

Talking shop....HEY Andy! Lookit the parade!!!

THOU SHALT NOT COVET the tractors in the parade....

ERV's were there from Covington, Alleghany County (Dunlap!), Sharon, Glen Wilton, Lexington City, Selma, Iron Gate...who am I leaving out??

It was SOOOOOO cold! About this time my camera started to freeze and it hesitated between shots, so some of the last pictures started to look a little psychedelic - I was getting about every third shot at this point....

Of course, out here, Santa trades his reindeer for a tractor!

Regardless of numb noses and toeses, we had a great time. I have over 100 pictures, so if you're a 'local' and want copies, let me know and I'll burn a CD for you. For some reason, Blogger isn't letting me size the pictures the way I wanted so some may not show up as clearly as I'd like...
We were looking forward to going to the Covington parade last night, but it took us until about 6:45PM Saturday to thaw out from Clifton's shindig! Thank you to everyone who braved the cold to show us a great time!

Friday, December 5, 2008

CVS score

I am only an elementary-level shopper at best when it comes to scoring great deals at CVS, as there are several blog sites I follow where they are expert and advanced in their cvsskills. But yesterday, I think I did not bad:
Transaction #1: Instant Energy 6 hour 2-pack drink: 5.24 (with tax)
RECEIVED: $4.99 in Extra Bucks
Transaction #2: 2 bags M&Ms, 2 26oz. jars Ragu, 2 10oz. bottles Dawn Dish soap, 3 tins Altoids, 4 packs of Dentyne.... used .20 Dawn coupon, 3 "peelies" for $1 off on Altoids, 4.99 in Extra Bucks from transaction #1, and a $5 off a $15 purchase coupon that printed on my transaction #1 receipt - - for a total of $.94

In summary, I paid $6.18 for all of this! (Its minus a bag of MMs because we girls shared them 3-way to celebrate on the way home....) Normally I don't buy gum or altoids, but they make good stocKing stuffers and as an "attachment" to wrap with gift cards and restaurant gift certificates! Woo-Hoo!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

There is just no time! I think that somewhere deep inside once I thought that if I were a stay-at-home-mom I would have all this free time on my hands to pursue my crafts, to laze and to take wonderful hikes in the woods, etc. But NO! Spend my time cleaning up after the two beasties, keeping pace (and usually losing) with laundry and keeping everyone fed, clothed and happy. At best I think I do a marginal job on everything.
The flu bug lingered even though we used Tamiflu. We didn't use the full dose, I guess that's why - and my appetite still isn't right - no problem there, and no complaints. But here it is just a couple days before Thanksgiving!
We're travelling to Tidewater for the holidays; lunch with Andy's family and supper with mine. We plan to leave to come back on Saturday morning, and avoid (hopefully) the Sunday rush. We'll see how that goes. I have a tension headache thinking about the trip down there on Wednesday, the busiest travel day of the year. So it goes.
Today we made turkey handprints. As usual, as soon as my back was turned, Hannah smeared herself with paint up to her armpits. Sorry - no picture. I didn't even have to guess what she was doing when I heard her say, "oooooooh, PUR-ple!" The Sugar Baby looked like a scapled Indian with warpaint and a smear of peach paint up the back of her head. There was a faint misting of blue around her lips from where she was pensively mouthing a paintbrush. But we 'captured' several flocks of turkey for the grandparents and for the scrapbook. Very festive.

OH! Almost forgot. THank you Loretta, I went ahead and made a "healthy" oatmeal cookie for our take along snack. I forgot to mention that I have an abundance of cold cereal (I get it free or 75% off with coupons and sales), so I wanted to use that in the recipe. After tweaking one I found online, here it is (it has loads of ingredients, but the flavor is worth it):

"Healthier" Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup ww flour
1/2 cup ap flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves (optional)
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 tbs milk
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup nuts (peanuts), chopped fine
2 cups cereal (combination of cheerios, raisin bran or rice krispies or etc.)
3 tbs flax seeds (if you have 'em)
1/4 wheat bran
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup fried fruit (blueberries, coconut, raisins, apples or cranberries) or chocolate chips or butterscotch chips, etc., according to your prefernce for "healthy" cookies

Preheat oven to 350. Put flour, spices, salt, baking soda in bowl, mix and set aside. Cream butter and sugars. Add milk, vanilla and eggs, beating well after each addition. Add cereal, fiber, seeds, nuts and fruit. Mix well. (I use my stand mixer). Scoop dough into walnut-sized balls, flatten slightly and bake for 15-18 minutes until brown. Leave in towards the shorter time limit for chewier cookies, longer for crisper cookies.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Boy, when it hits, you know it. I thought it was food poisoning at first, though, because of a Reader's Digest article I'd been reading about salmonella and we'd had chicken for supper, but alas, day 3 (or is it 4?) and there is no doubt.
Thankfully the girls had their flu shots last week, so Hannah avoided the bug completely and Abba only got a mild - very mild - case, but they both have colds. Andy is not so lucky. He had it worse than anyone. But let me interrupt this post to promote a product that has saved our sanity: TAMIFLU. Oh, please, for your sake, if you are exposed to the flu or think you have it, get your doctor to call it in right away. It is the highest tier on our co-pays, but It Works. That is the only reason, I am certain, that I am able to ambulate without - well, without unpleasant side effects. I'm still sore, and loaded to the gills with tylenol and advil, but it was a gritty 24-36 hours while we were both down; while I was sick on the couch and Andy was at work. Whew!

In the meantime, we had 4" of snow! It was so pretty! I felt bad for Hannah because she wanted to go play so much. It did feel good on my fever, but I couldn't stay out long. She made several forays in her boots and fleece so she did get to make some snow angels and footprints...but since this was such an early snowfall, I bet we get more that we can all properly enjoy.

That's all for now; more later!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

cold weather and recipe request

I'm so disappointed! I had pictures - great ones - of ME even! And I lost them all because my camera card froze. My fault. Daggone it!! We had all gone to the park on Veteran's Day and Daddy-o and I had traded photo ops. Argh!!

Today's high here was 37. Its been overcast and flurries all day, although the wind from last night has died down. Outside is so beautiful and still. It smells like snow - winter, at least, and I have that "its beginning to look a lot like Christmas" feeling. That in itself is probably just the anxiety that I am far, far behind on Christmas presents. We'll get started on them tomorrow, though. The weather has really put me in the mood. We're supposed to get an inch of snow tomorrow night. Can't wait! My camera should be working fine then; I'll keep it in the house instead of the car.
Abba has a snotty nose cold so we didn't go to church this morning. Han had a reaction to her flu shot on Thursday and has been on a low dose of Benadryl since last night, so she was a little crosseyed, too, and we figured we'd spare FBC of our blessed presence. The girls stayed inside all day, cooking, cleaning, napping and watching TV. Andy did loads of laundry and then went to the fire station to get the inventory on ambulances completed before the state inspection next week. I was so grateful that he helped me get caught up enough so I can focus on Christmas gifts.

I need help with a recipe! I'm looking for a take-along breakfast food like a granola bar or cereal bar that is (1) low in sugar (2) not too messy (think eat in the car) and (3) kid friendly. I made a great cereal bar, but it had 1/2c brown sugar and 1/2c corn syrup. I think I balanced it out nicely with flax seeds, wheat germ and Fiber One, but still a little more sugar than I wanted. I need something for when the girls are poking around in the mornings and we have an early appointment or church, or just something to keep them munching when we're running all over the county on errands. Any ideas?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Perspective for after the election....

My friend Loretta sent me these encouraging verses I'd like to share with you -

Romans 13:1-8
(1)Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
(2)Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
(3)For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.
(4)For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
(5)Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
(6)This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing.
(7)Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
(8)Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

1 Timothy 2:1-4:
(1) I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-
(2) for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
(3) This is good, and pleases God our Savior,
(4) who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

1Peter 2:13-17
(13) Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority,
(14) or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.
(15) For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.
(16) Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
(17) Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

AND (for perspective)
Revelation 22:13,14:
(13)"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.
(14) I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

And some facts - no matter which candidate won your vote:

> Jesus is still King.
> Our responsibilities as Christians have changed one iota.
> The greatest agent for social change in America is still winning the hearts and minds of men and women through the gospel, not legislation.
> My primary citizenship is still in this order - (1) the Kingdom of God, (2) America, not vice-versa.
> The tomb is still empty.
> The cross, not the government, is still our salvation.
> Our children are still more concerned with whether or not we spend time with them than with who is President.
> My neighbor is still my neighbor, and loving him/her will still be the second greatest commandment. (Do you know the first?)
> The only way to see abortion ultimately overturned is still winning men and women to a high view of life through the gospel of Christ.
> The only way to see gay marriage ultimately defeated is still winning men and women to a biblical view of marriage through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
> My retirement will still not match my treasure in Heaven.
> "Jesus Is Lord" is still the greatest truth in the Universe.
> We still know that God is in control.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Family Snapshot

Andy: Congratulations to my amazing husband! Monday night he finished that last class of the last course in his BACHELOR’S DEGREE program! Bluefield College of Virginia will officially graduate him December 3, but stick a fork in ‘im, He’s Done!!

Ask Andy if he enjoys his new job over there in Clifton Forge and his response is: “I love it there. The people there treat me like gold.” He even took a picture for his scrapbook…see for yourself some of the folks he works with. Keeping Up Appearances there is the Town Manager, Tracey Shifflett. Take a gander at the gal on the right and see the result of years of dedication to the Town will getcha! Don't feel sorry for the rest of the folks in the photo, though. It might be hard to tell from just one picture, but they really do love their jobs and aren't always so solemn.

Woke up a couple weeks ago and the first words out of her mouth were, “Good Morning, James!” spoken to her baby sister. From then on, our sweet, wispy-haired Abigail Fay is James. On a rare foray into Roanoke to go to Target during Andy’s last class meeting, Hannah introduced herself to a surprised grandma-type as “Hannah Bananna.” And this is my brother, “James.” (No matter that Abba was wearing pink!). The nice lady misunderstood and said, “Oh, Jane. What a nice name!” To which Hannah Banana replied firmly but politely, “NO! Its James. James Margolees.” The nice lady grimaced at me and pushed her cart away.

The kid preys on my adult-onset Attention Deficit Disorder. I get her dipe on and she wiggles away, stands in the hall and goads me into chasing her. When I holler for her to come back and get dressed she lowers her head at me, placing her tiny hands on the diaper’s Velcro tabs….hesitates, and pulls. A quick sidestep and she’s chortling down the hall in bare-bottomed glee.

Hannah just strode by the door calling over her shoulder, “Mama, the poo-poos are coming!” When I met her in the bathroom: “Listen! Do you hear that?” “Hear what, Han?” “The pee-pees are singing a little song as they go bye-bye. They’re whistling a happy tune! Bye-bye, pee-pees! Bye-bye poo-poos! See you when you’re dirt! Bye!” <>

Me: Is it any wonder that crease betwixt my eyebrows is getting deeper? I try to massage that spot when I think about but so far all that has gotten me is a red dot looking like a washed-out bindi. I find myself wondering if a shot of Botox would be completely at odds with the whole simplicity / non-makeup / the-Lord-looks-at-the-heart concept??

Monday, November 3, 2008

my JOB

I thought I’d write and share some about MY job. Andy and I both feel that God wants me to be a SAHM (stay at home mom), and therefore, with His help, I have had to develop some new skills to save us money to enable this to happen. The first place I really looked at was clothing for the girls. To that end, we make use of yard sales, hand-me-downs (mostly Hannah to Abba now, but when I was in Tidewater, my pal BF kept me stocked – those clothes are now on kid #4!) and thrift stores. Thrift stores are limited in Alleghany, so when we go visit family in Tidewater, we make the most of our trip and hit Thrift Store City (“sigh”- Anna!!) and a new one over near Bayside High School, my old stompin’ grounds.

That part is easy and fun, but it was the weekly grind of grocery shopping that really had me stymied for awhile. Once I got the hang of it, however, it is where I can save my family even more and make our dollars go farther. Here are some of my tricks:

First, we have a budget. We aim for $75/week for groceries…usually that runs over, but never over $100. By groceries I mean basically whatever we can buy in Food Lion, so it includes dipes, vitamins, cleaning products, paper goods, etc. Some folks who figure out a grocery budget separate some of that stuff, but I include it. I hope to change this to a cash-only envelope system so that if we have money left over it goes into next weeks’ envelope, savings, or whatnot. We’re just not there yet. I need a small desk of my own, I think, to better organize myself here.

Second, before I shop, I make three lists. The first is an ongoing, “we’re almost out of” list that’s posted on the fridge. The second is my “stockpile” list, which includes shelf-stable or freezable items we keep an inventory of. I research these to get the best price (with coupons+sales) and buy in bulk when I get them at a great price. By stockpiling, I am not stuck running out to buy, say, tomato soup not on sale, because I can wait a couple months for it to go on sale and buy 10 cans. The third list is also one I research well by finding internet coupons, newspaper coupons and alerts on deals from some of my favorite money-saving websites. These are bonus items – can’t pass up deals - such as the Nestle hot chocolate mix I got from Wal-Mart on Friday – it was $2/2 packages. I had two $1/off coupons, so I got 2 boxes for FREE. Also, a $30 Bayer Contour 2 Blood Glucose Monitor at CVS…it was on sale for $30 and I had a $30 coupon, so it was free….I don’t need, it but I will donate it to the church or a local adult home…but, even better, I had a CVS coupon for $5 off a $30 purchase, so I got $5 back – meaning they paid me $5 to take that glucose monitor. Pretty cool! So, this third list is stuff I might not be looking for or it might be something I don’t normally buy, but if it is 75% + off, then I will get it as long as I stay in budget. I match up the store circulars with the coupons I have on file, then I put my lists (all written down on one piece of paper so I can see it all at a glance) at the front of my coupon notebook and off I go to the store.

Third, I organize my shopping trips. I have three stores to choose from: Food Lion, Wal-Mart and Kroger. Kroger is about 12 miles further to drive to than the other two, but it is right near Andy’s office. If we go there, we usually make a day of it and pack a picnic lunch so we girls can get some extra Daddy-o time. Some weeks I will only go to one store, but other times I’ll hit all three, especially if Food Lion has a 3-day only sale. I shop when the girls are in good moods, well-rested, or else I leave Hannah home with Andy. I am less likely to impulse buy with a list, and I stick to my 50% rule – it has to be 50% off (with coupon) if I’m going to buy a non-necessity. I carry my coupon notebook into the store with me in case I come across an unadvertised sale – or better yet, find something on clearance (like the True North Almond Clusters I found at Wal-Mart once for $1.50/bag, normally about $4 a bag and I had 3 $1 off coupons! Gotta love it!)

My reward? I get great satisfaction knowing that I have saved money and am able to contribute in a tangible way to our economic goals. I generally save about 40-50% on our total grocery bill ( I like shopping at Kroger because it shows at the bottom of the receipt how much you save, and I hold off giving my MVP card till the end at FL so it takes it all off at once after it has been subtotaled). It is also a challenge and a little mental gymnastics. I hope that I am teaching my girls the value of Daddy-o’s work – that we don’t just go and randomly get things, but that we are good stewards of our money. I hope that I am teaching them that we are disciplined in what we do and don’t buy, that we wait and do without some of the “fluff” sometimes – but our needs are always met. I hope that they see what I do as important so that they will be inspired to take their household management jobs seriously – be they married, single or still living at home. Money management is something that I just don’t have a firm grip on. By staying in a budget and working hard to pay off credit card debt (a whole ‘nother post) we are showing them and ourselves that our actions have consequences, and we are indeed slaves to our debt at this point.
Whew, this was a long post. But I just got back from Food Lion where the register rang up $105.10, I handed over my coupons and my MVP card and it flickered to $55.45, so I thought I’d share with you how I did it.

Have any questions? Want more ideas/tips? Wish I’d just go away?? J

Saturday, November 1, 2008


h (We never found her other black-patent-leather shoe to wear)

I was dreading it all day - just because of the candy fight we'd have, and actually it turned out to be a good night. Hannah seems keen on the idea of two pieces a day (after Daddy-o and I scarfed good ones and squirreled away others for candy-bar cookies, etc.). She was pretty thrilled by the small toys, stickers and tattoos given away, too. Abigail liked a little plastic frog that jumps when you press a lever near its bottom.
Again this year, we went to the neighbors' first, then to our church for Trunk-or-Treat. One thing that is impossible is getting little girls and little boys to sit still for pictures as you will see...
Especially when it was Hannah's first time in a "jumper". She had a blast. I was glad because it was helping to equalize out some of the sugar she'd consumed!
The girls and some of their friends....we had a witch, another firefighter, a dragon, a monkey, and a creature from Star Wars!
Andy made friends with some of the less fortunate - here he is with Hobo Joe....
And he shared a laugh with one of the less than less fortunate:

And all in all a very good time. Faith Baptist does this Trunk or Treat as a ministry to the community and members donate candy, time, money and food. The church youth were in charge of the games and every single one of them did a wonderful job. I was so impressed - again, as always. There are more pictures on the church's web site if you're interested (the pictures weren't up yet this morning, but they will be later today, I'm sure...just loof for the date and click):

Personally, I'm not big on Halloween just because of the costumes that are promoted - either too gory or sleezy, but it can be so much fun for kids when adults set the right tone.

- home by 8:30, girls in bed and asleep before 9:30. Good night!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Can you see it?? The tiny, miniature snowflakes? Well, they were there. It was a true "snow shower" that lasted for about - oh, a minute or so. See the hazelnuts on the table? See those cute girls? Here's Hannah serenading us with her "stick violin":

This past weekend: baby in the leaf pile (witness that thousand-dollar tooth!):
99% of my pictures of Hannah are "action shots":