BAM Family

BAM Family

Monday, April 30, 2012

Rainy Day Fun: The FORT!

Since it's been so cold and rainy lately, we decided to build a fort. I say "we." I should say, the boys begged me to built them a fort. I finally gave in. (It was not as much of a hassle as I thought it would be)
The boys loved it!
Look at those smiles!
Yeah....we didn't get dressed this morning....
....but they are still SUPER handsome little men! 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Meng Menu

Sunday: Grilled Hot dogs, chips, carrot sticks and broccoli florets w/ ranch dressing
Monday: Hellman’s chicken (didn't make this last week), steamed broccoli, yeast rolls
Tuesday: Bacon and eggs, fruit salad
Thursday: Pork loin chops, rice, green beans
Friday: London Broil, baked potatoes, corn
Saturday: Grilled pork loin, roasted potatoes, green beans

I managed to stay low again this week as we are still on a tight budget. Total = $108! YEA! All the meat I bought was on sale. I am using one pound of bacon for 2 meals and the 4 pound pork loin for 2 meals as well. Shopping sales and stretching out meats between two (or more meals) is a good way, I've found, to keep my bill low each week. 

I realize that it may seem strange that I don't include leftovers very often in my dinner menu planning, especially since I am trying to shop on a budget. We do eat leftovers for lunch often (especially me) and in reality, Aaron doesn't really like "leftovers" for dinner. Plus, (the majority of the time), I enjoy cooking so I don't mind cooking every night. Though, I do admit, it is a challenge every week coming up with creative, healthy, balanced meals all while staying under $125.

Crafts for boys: Medieval Trebuchet!

I have loved "making things" since I was a little girl, especially paper crafts. My boys, however, often do not share the same love. In fact, it is hard to find crafts that they will 1. Like to make, and/or 2. Actually play with after mommy forces helps them make it.

Well, the other day I stumbled across this AWESOME site that has free paper toys to print and make at home! I decided to make this Medieval Trebuchet  while the boys napped. 
This toy has ultimate "boy appeal." 
1. It's a weapon
2. It shoots things
3. It is cool to shoot things

Plus, I really enjoyed making it!! WIN WIN!

Here's how it works:

Get some ammo: 
We tried macaroni, beads, the ends of q-tips and balls of tissue paper. We had fun testing how far each type of ammo would go.
Load up the basket with your choice of ammo!
Pull back....
 ....and LET GO! (See the bead???)
 There it goes!!!
Make two Trebuchets and you can have a battle!

Both boys (especially Micah) really enjoyed this toy and played with it for about 45 minutes 
(Definitely a homemade-toy record!)
Go ahead! Make one yourself for or with your boys or girls. It was easy and fun!
And check out the website for other really fun craft ideas!! I can't wait to try out some more....

Sunday, April 22, 2012

DIY Maternity Dress: Upcycled Men's t-shirt

Here's another DIY Maternity project from one of my Goodwill finds! I forgot to do a "before" picture (got a little too excited with the scissors) but the skirt is made from an extra large Mens t-shirt I got for $3.50. I have had the tank top for FOREVER (before I was married 6 years ago) and recently only wore it for pj's, so it got a new life with this dress too. I made the belt for another dress and it works perfectly with this color combo. 
I followed this tutorial for the dress. I have actually made a TON of two-fer dresses (I mean, I have a whole category on my blog for two-fer creations) but this tutorial was really clever. The unique thing about this dress IS using the men's t-shirt for the skirt because men's t-shirts are longer in the back than in the front. So, as my belly grows, the hem should stay (relatively) even. Clever, right? 
 As you can see, I should have yanked my skirt down a little bit in the back for the picture (darn my big caboose) but the front IS longer than the back. My 15 week bump is still pretty little right now but as it grows, the hem *should* round out nicely. 

I don't think I'll be able to wear it for the whole 9 months (I didn't use the elastic for the waist like in the tutorial [though I did use the stretch stitch on my machine to ensure that I wouldn't pop stitches as I grew] because my fabric wasn't wide enough--in fact, I was worried for a few minutes that t-shirt wouldn't be big enough) but I think it will be good for the end of spring/beginning of summer months.

I love how the dress turned out! It is really comfortable and will be good for hotter days by itself, or for cool, wet days (like today) with a cardigan and leggings. 

Meng Menu (tight budget week)

Sunday:  Slow cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwiches, strawberry spinach salad, chips
Monday: Broiled Asian chicken thighs, rice, green beans 
Tuesday: Grilled cheese sandwiches, broccoli cheese soup
Wednesday: Breakfast casserole for small group potluck
Thursday: Salmon cakes, Garlic Oil sautéed pasta and broccoli (<--this is really yummy and a cheap and healthy side dish!)
Friday: Spinach lasagna roll ups, rolls, salad
Saturday: Hellmans Parmesan chicken, mashed potatoes, corn 

As my title says, this was a tight budget week. My goal was to spend $100 (normal budget is $125). I ended up spending $108 but that was including guinea pig food, so I think I did pretty well. 

Plus I am proud that I have some yummy and healthy meals lined up for this week. I got an awesome deal on chicken at Kroger this week (on both thighs and breasts). Plus adding two meat-less meals into the mix (grilled cheese and spinach roll ups) always helps. 

Whenever I have a "lean" week, I try to think of food that are both filling and cheap. Adding bread to a meal is always a good way to do this. I only have 6 lasagna noodles in my pantry so I added rolls and a salad to help fill up my family's bellies. I also usually add bread to a "breakfast for dinner" meal as sometimes eggs are not as filling as a good ol' meat and potatoes dinner. 

What are you go-to meals on a "lean" week? How to satisfy your hungry husband and kiddos? 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Daddy's Little Helpers

Just a few pictures of my boys and my man....
...working together, doing boy-things.
I love all my boys! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Meng Menu

Sunday: London broil, baked potatoes, corn
Monday: Chicken ceaser salad, rolls
Tuesday: Chicken Fajitas
Wednesday: Frozen pizza, salad
Thursday: Sloppy Joes, roasted potatoes, green beans
Friday: BLTs, chips, jello salad
Saturday: Grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, broccoli 

DIY Maternity: Top from Men's T-shirt

I upcycled one of my Goodwill finds today! I had so much fun with this project and I love the results. 
 Here's before: A medium Mens t-shirt I bought for $3.50.
 It is 95% cotton 5% spandex so it has a nice softness and stretch. 
 I followed this really simple tutorial on DIYMaternity and here is the finished result!! I love it! It is so comfortable and I think it turned out pretty darn cute!
(It looks lavender in the sunlight but the true color is darker, like the picture below)
(It looks like I am sticking my butt out in this pic...maybe it is really just that big...sigh...)

Here is a pic of the side. I added a little girly tuck to the top of the sleeves. 
The shirt has such a nice stretch to it; I will be able to wear it for many months to come! 

I have several more projects coming up! I am having way to much fun sewing my maternity wardrobe. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

DIY Maternity Jeans + 14 week bump

I made some maternity jeans today! My regular jeans (read: my "fat jeans") have been cutting into my belly for a week or two now and I needed a new solution for a little bit of money.
 I used this tutorial to alter a pair of GAP jeans that I got for $4 at Goodwill. 
(I hope the link works. It was being finicky tonight)
 Then I used this tutorial to hem 3 inches of length off the jeans (being 5' 2'' it is almost impossible to find pants that actually fit in the legs) while still keeping the original look of the hem.
The whole process took me about 2.5 hours. It would have been a lot faster if I hadn't had to rip out so many mistakes. Oh well. 

I think the end result is great! They are so comfortable and fit perfectly. I hope I can wear them for a good few months (though when I am huge, they probably will be too small). Hopefully I will get some good post-partum wear out of them too. 
My belly at 14 weeks. I am officially in the 2nd trimester! Woot! I've gained around 4-5 pounds so far. 
(I got this sweater at Goodwill today too for $3.50)

I am planning on doing more maternity clothing refashions in the near future (I got lots more "goodies" today at Goodwill!) so keep an eye out for more posts SOON!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Boy = Crazy; Or How to survive as a mother of boys, Part 1

Growing up, I was a little boy-crazy. Ok, a lot boy-crazy. Boys were fun. Different. Mysterious. A puzzle to figure out. I even caught a boy, got him to marry me, had two babies, and am STILL boy-crazy.

But in just a different way.

You see, I am now a mother of 4 1/2 year old twin boys, which should qualify me to have at least a Bachelor's degree in "all things boy" but, alas, I still feel like I am barely scratching the surface of understanding the mind of these odd little creatures of the y-cromosome that I birthed. Every day I feel like I am living on a strange planet, trying desperately to understand the natives.

(A funny coincidence since, while growing up, my three sisters joked that "wouldn't it be funny if Brittany had all boys?" Because I was the girliest girl ever. Like I collected tea sets, couldn't throw a ball to save my life, wore lace and flowers on a regular basis girly-girl.)

I do feel like I have learned a few truths about boys in my 4 years of motherhood. So if you are mom to the young boy-creature and are at your wits end, maybe these truths will help you. However, I am the first to admit, I still have SO much to learn.

**Disclaimer: Of course, these truths do not describe all boys. You may even think, "heck! My baby-girl is more like this than my son!" Every kid is different. These are just the things that struck me as overwhelmingly unique to most boys, including mine.**

Truth #1: Boys are active.

This may seem like a "duh" statement. We all know boys are active, right? Well, if I knew this truth in my head, I certainly didn't understand it in action. As in, twin boys in action. Every. Single. Day.

Forget reading stories on the couch, playing with play-doh, craft projects, quiet (what's that?) playtime in their room--my boys are MOVERS!

Whenever someone meets my sons for the first time, he or she will always comment, "Wow! They have a lot of energy!"

I actually replied the other day: "You are so observant."

Yes, this was snarky. But boys DO have lots of energy (especially mine!).
But I have (slowly) realized that being active for a boy is as important as eating. or sleeping. or breathing. Being allowed to be active may be the most important gift you give your son every day.

So if you have a pre-school son who is driving you nuts in the house every day because he is wrecking havoc, slamming into walls, catapolting over the couch, head-butting the dog, wrestling with anything that looks at him sideways (including inanimate objects) then....

...don't do what I did and wonder for 3 years what I had done to recieve this lot in life!

Follow my advice (actually, my husband's) and get those rowdy puppies out of the house!

"Out of the house" for a boy doesn't mean go to Target. or the grocery store (Lord have mercy!). or the library. Those activities alone are not enough to burn up the raging energy inside your little man.

I get my boys out of the house just about every day for at least an hour of intense physical activity.
"Out of the house" can mean many things. We usually go somewhere. The park.
Our local indoor playground.
A local hands-on children's museum.    A play date with friends.

Or, like we did today, a 45 minute walk around our neighborhood followed by "running races" around the house (oh, 7-8 times) when we got back to the yard.

Now I know what you're thinking: "How do you have the energy to chase your boys 7-8 times around the house?!"

Pi-shaw! I am not chasing them! I am sitting in the shade, drinking ice water, shouting "On your mark! Get set! Go!"

Because after all, I am 13 weeks pregnant. And I don't like to get sweaty (girly-girl, remember?)

The same goes for our other "energy-burners": the trick is to use up their energy without burning up all of yours. (Easier said than done, right?)

However, if I've done my job right, my boys will take a nap in the afternoon.

Now I know some preschoolers are beyond the nap stage. But I have learned, as a mother of boys, that if I provide an intense, consistent, daily outlet for my boys' energy, they will be better behaved.
And even in they don't nap, they may be calmed down enough to read a story (or two!) and play with play-doh for 10 minutes or so.....

....before they start shaping the play doh into cannon balls and guns and flinging little bits of green goo all over your dining room floor.

But that's truth #2: "Boys love guns. Just accept it."

And that truth will have to wait for a later post.

Just keep truth #1 in your mind (especially if you are going out of your mind) and use up some of your son's energy every day. Your boy (and your mental sanity) will thank you.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Without Love": A Devotional PUBLISHED!

I actually posted this devotional to my blog about six months ago but after talking to the editor of the devotional, I took it down at her request until after the book was published. Well, the book came out exactly 6 days ago!
(If you click on the image, it will take you to the Amazon info page)

I got an advance copy of this devotional and have really enjoyed reading the other selections. There are 60 devotionals plus other short pieces about everything from surviving roommate drama, to handling money, to choosing extra-curricular activities in college. This little book would be a great gift for a graduating senior or college student (I didn't get paid for my writing or for promoting the book on my blog so this is as un-shameless a plug as it can get!)

I have enjoyed sharing my contribution to this book with the Freshman seminar classes that I have taught the past two semesters. My devotional, "Without Love," is my testimony of how, after being a Christian for "my whole life," my faith finally became real to me when I was a Sophomore at Liberty University. 

Please enjoy!

"Without Love"

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV)

I once took an online quiz that told me I had the Bible knowledge of a seminary scholar. Whether the quiz had merit or not, I have always been confident in my Bible knowledge: my parents made “Bible” a subject in our home school; I memorized hundreds of verses through the AWANA program; and my best friends were kids who had cataloged away an equal—or greater!—amount of Biblical knowledge. Bible trivia was practically a contact sport—we were vicious in our efforts to “beat” each other to the right answer.

When I got to college though, I wanted to use my Bible training in a deeper way. My sophomore year I was chosen to be a Bible study leader on my dorm—I couldn’t wait to meet my five little sheep that I would shepherding! As I poured over my Bible, I prayed for insight. The Holy Spirit just needed to shine his divine flashlight on the right passage. Little did I know that His “lamp” was going to light my “path” first.

I finally decided to teach on a well-known passage—1 Corinthians 13. The words were so familiar—“love is patient, love is kind”—like a worn-out song on the radio, so recognizable that they bounced off my brain without really sinking in. But I wanted the passage to sink in with my girls so I started from the beginning, determined to extract some sort of “new” insight. I usually sped through the first three verses but this time I paused, wondering how I could present them in a fresh way. My mind started forming 21st century metaphors —“If I volunteer my Saturdays to sing to shut-ins at the nursing home, but have not love. . . if I play guitar in the praise band in front of thousands, but have not love. . .If I know every facet of theology, have read the Bible cover to cover, and memorized thousands of verses…but have not love, then I…am…nothing.”

In that moment, the divine flashlight exposed every prideful shadow of my heart. I had Bible knowledge but I didn’t have love. And that meant my Bible knowledge was…nothing. The truth was devastating—I finally saw myself for who I really was: a girl who had set up a trophy shelf of Bible knowledge yet who had never plunged into the work of Jesus Christ—knowing, serving, and loving others. Jesus loved until he bled—and then died; I had never even loved until it hurt. That day my Christian faith deepened a full 12 inches: the distance from my head to my heart.

I taught some good Bible lessons that semester, but more importantly, I learned what it meant to be a real Christian—a “little-Christ.” Instead of “loving” in words only, I applied my Bible knowledge to my hands and feet: I wrote weekly notes of encouragement to my girls and taped them to their doors; made them hot tea when they were sick; invited them to play putt-putt and eat ice cream on lonely Friday nights; and learned to truly listen, understand, and build friendships with girls who were completely different from myself. Being a good prayer leader, or a genuine Christian, wasn’t about whether I had the knowledge of a seminary graduate. It was—and is!— about love: the love that held Christ on the cross, the pathetically small love I offer back in gratefulness for my salvation and, with God’s help, the love that I give and receive in my relationships with others. Because without love, I am nothing.

Excerpt from The Campus Survival Guide: Representing Christ on Campus. Ed. Paul Buchanan and Paula Miller. Ventura: Regal, 2012. 121-123. Print.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Meng Menu

Sunday: Fried Rice w/ pork and Asian veggies 
Monday: Chicken Parm bake, salad
Tuesday: Bacon, eggs, fruit salad
Wednesday: Stouffer's lasagna, salad
Thursday: Beef tips, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans
Friday: Frozen pizza
Saturday: Pan Seared Chicken, rice w/ gravy, steamed broccoli

Here is our menu for the week. I went over budget this week: $133. Pooey. Put I do include all our paper products, soaps, and bath products in our budget too so this week I bought dishwasher soap, hand soap, paper towels, a loufa, and deodorant and body wash for Aaron. So $133 isn't bad, I suppose. 

I have been such a blog slacker lately but I've been thinking about some new posts this week so hopefully, I'll get some writing done. :) 

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