Thursday, January 30, 2014

Venturing out.

Well.....Dan, Tucker, and Pepper did.
Lana & Mommy stayed inside in the warmth.
We agreed that if it were snow, we would go out into the cold,
but ice definitely didn't call for it.

 After a while, Dan left for work and Tucker returned inside for playtime and warm soup:

After naps, we'll make some more homemade hot chocolate, play the Wii, pull out the board games, and make the most of the last day of being "snowed in."

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow days in Florida?

You can only imagine our surprise when our weathermen began talking of snow, and our superintendent closed schools on Monday for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Models like this are a once-in-a-lifetime thing on the Gulf Coast!

 As it turned out, we didn't get much snow, but what we did get was ice.  Lots and lots and lots of ice.  And Floridians have no experience driving on the stuff, so roads were closed and schools were shut down, and we have been homebound since Tuesday around lunchtime.

Check out this view of Palafox, one of the busiest streets in downtown Pensacola:

This ice has been a disaster for so many in the southeast.  Thankfully, we have been tucked safely inside our home, and have not ventured out for much of anything at all.    (My extrovert husband got cabin fever earlier tonight and made a walmart run.)

We have had a really superb time being together.  We have built fires, roasted marshmallows, played games, read books, baked cookies, played Wii, napped, made homemade hot cocoa, snuggled, raided the candy bucket, and tried to fight off stuffy noses.


More to come tomorrow!  With temperatures not rising above freezing today, and a hard freeze called for tonight, the roads won't be safe for buses, so they have cancelled school another day.

I never would have imagined 3 snow days in a row in the Florida panhandle!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Senior Bowl

This weekend, we took the kids to Mobile for the Senior Bowl.
They loved it, especially the funnel cake.
I loved the part where they looked so adorable I could eat them.
We watched the first half, and then the halftime show before making our way back to our car.
It was perfect timing - still light outside, not yet dark, and we were home in time for bedtime.
Super fun first experience for them.

Friday, January 24, 2014

'Round here

*Tucker hates showers.  He acts like they are raining acid down on him.  Super big achievement this past weekend when we were staying in a cabin without a bathtub and he happily took a shower.  Twice.  And said he liked it.

*Tucker also hates bandaids.  We tried to put one on a cut on his finger this week, and he screamed like we were ripping his fingernails out with pliers.

*On the days I teach, I eat "lunch" at 10:30 a.m.  By the time I get home around 3:00 p.m., I am hungry enough to chew my leg off, and I don't want anything healthy.

*Guaranteed way to make my husband's day: suggest before he leaves for work in the morning that he go spend a few hours in the treestand after work.

*We are saving our Christmas money and tax refund and birthday money to buy a new desktop computer.  My laptop is almost 8 years old, and is on her last leg.

*Since Lana started preschool, we've always celebrated her half-birthday in her classroom with doughnuts and juice.  (Because she has a summer birthday, she would miss out on this class celebration that I think is so sweet!)  She has always loved it and been so excited.  This year, she doesn't want to do it!  My heart is breaking!

*We've tried different ways of doing family worship time over the years, with varying degrees of success.  This year, we are reading the bible together every time we sit down at the table to eat.  It's been really good so far.  Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.  Deut 8:3

*Tucker has memorized Lana's entire Christmas musical from December, even the speaking parts.  He can quote it all word for word.  I must remember that he learns things set to music.

*We gave Lana piano lessons for Christmas, she she started two Fridays ago.  She is so precious - walks out of Miss Driver's room beaming, and can barely wait for Tucker to wake up from his nap every afternoon to practice.  She just learned to play this song.

*I am loving using my oils so much.  I don't sell anything - not even candy bars for my kid's school fundraiser - but I make a little commission when people I tell about the oils buy them, and it's enough to pay for me to buy more oils.  That's kind of fun.

*Lana and I recently watched The Sound of Music together, and it was magical.  We sing the songs to each other randomly sometimes.  I want to watch more musicals with her, and even ordered a small collection of Rodgers & Hammerstein, but I'm not sure which ones are entirely appropriate for her.  I think I need to rewatch them first!

*If you ride with us in the car these days, you'll probably hear us singing this song at the top of our lungs.

*Mrs. Kathy was teaching Tucker's class the story of Joseph.  She got to the part where his brothers threw him in the hole, and Tucker chimed in "Yeah! And there were LIONS in the hole!"  A few minutes later, Mrs. Kathy said "Does anybody know where this happened?"  Tucker: "In NINEVAH!"

*Lana and I are reading this book together right now, and it is amazing.  She & I are both spellbound.

*I have a problem with planners.  I really, really love them, but when I get about halfway through them, I need another one.  I like to be able to see a year ahead.  So I have a box of half-used planners, and I'm totally ok with that.

*Pepper has been running with me a few times a week, and with her regular collar, she's a nightmare, pulling everywhere.  But we switched her to a halter-style collar when we run, and she's a dream.

*Dan took his students to a retreat on Panama City Beach this past weekend, and he let the kids and I tag along.  It was super fun, and it's so cool to get a front row seat while he does ministry.

*Tucker was weepy at bedtime, so I laid down with him. To distract him from the thing that was making him weepy (a cut on his finger), I suggested that he think about things that make him happy. 

Me: could think about skateboarding. What else?
Tucker: (snuffling) I don't know.
Me: Pepper's soft ears?
T: oh yeah, I like her soft ears....
Me: and reading books with Lana, and playing with your friends at school, and ice cream - 
Tucker, interrupting: and YOU, Mommy! I could just think about you.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

World's Best Hot Chocolate

These 20 degree temperatures at night call for a little cup of hot chocolate before bed.

Until recently, all we've known is Swiss Miss hot chocolate, and the kind with marshmallows was especially thrilling.  

Just a few weeks ago, though, my friend Courtney posted on facebook about The World's Best Hot Chocolate, and after making a batch, I have to agree with her: making it homemade is totally worth the time and effort.  The cinnamon and vanilla in this recipe are delicious and unexpected.  I won't need to buy Starbucks hot chocolate ever again.

8 oz. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
This recipe could (and should!) be doubled.  Store in an airtight container in the pantry.
Directions (for 4 servings):
2/3 cup cocoa mix
1/4 cup water
4 cups whole milk (you can substitute a different milk if necessary.  but you shouldn't.)
1 tsp vanilla

In a pan on low heat, stir cocoa mix and water until melted.  Add milk and whip with a whisk until smooth.  Heat on medium-low heat until hot.  Stir in vanilla, and serve.

For a single serving, add 2 heaping tablespoons of mix in the bottom of a mug. Pour 1/8 cup boiling water (don't measure - just add enough to cover the chocolate) and stir until the chocolate melts. Add milk to the top of your mug and add a splash of vanilla. Microwave until heated.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Oily concoctions: eczema cream, pain cream, sleepytime cream, vapor rub

If you've read my blog lately, you know that I have fallen in love with my essential oils.  
They have kept us out of the doctor's office completely this winter.
They have rendered our medicine cabinet nearly obsolete.  
Seriously - those meds are just expiring in their bottles.  Love it.
We are "well-er" and healthier than we've been in years,
and it's happening all naturally, which makes me so happy.

Just this past week or two, I've used my voodoo oils to 
prevent sickness
take the sting out of a paper cut
make my stinky dog smell better
clear Lana's stuffy nose
help Tucker go to sleep
flavor my peppermint hot chocolate
ease a sore muscle
knock out a headache
sterilize a wound
make apple cider
and more and more and more

After seeing a friend post about some different kinds of lotions and creams she made with her oils, I decided to give it a try today.

First, I made a big batch of base:
1/2 lb shae butter
4 oz grapeseed oil
4 oz coconut oil (warm until liquid)
Whip for 5 minutes or so.  This would be super easy if one had a kitchenaid mixer and could just let it whip, but it was really no big deal to do with my hand mixer.  It'll get big and fluffy and creamy.  Delish.  Lana actually asked if she could lick a beater.
Divide the base into glass containers and add oils.
*Note: it's important to use glass containers as the oils break down in most plastics.
(I used glass half pint mason jars, and it was perfect.)
There is enough base to make 4 batches of creams with about 1/2 cup base each.

I made 4 creams: pain cream, sleepytime cream, vapor rub, and eczema cream.

Pain cream:
Using about 1/2 cup of base, I mixed in 10 drops each of panaway, valor, and peppermint, and 8 drops each of lemongrass and idaho balsam fir.  (The balsam fir isn't necessary; I just got it as a freebie, and added it in as the EOPR recommends it for muscular pain.)
I recently read about a "heavy duty" pain cream that included 10 drops of frankincense, idaho balsam fir, and copaiba in addition to the others.  I will add those next time.

Eczema cream:
Using about 1/2 cup base, I mixed in 10 drops each of lavender, melrose, frankincense, and melalucea A (tea tree oil).

Sleepytime cream:
Using 1/2 cup base, I mixed in 15 drops each of cedarwood and lavender.  The recipe calls for 15 drops peace and calming also, but I had just run out of that, so I made it without.

Not pictured: vapor rub
Using 1/2 cup base, add 8-10 drops each of idaho balsam fir (a natural decongestant), peppermint, and eucalyptus (supports respiratory health).  SO perfect to rub a bit on the chest to help a stuffy nose, or on the feet with socks to soothe a cough.

I also have the recipe for an energy cream:  1/2 cup of base with 15 drops each of Motivation, En-R-Gee, and Peppermint.  I've heard it's awesome!

I am so excited about using these creams.  My hands were so soft after even just making them. :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Walking in a winter wonderland....

"Record breaking lows"
"Artic blast"
"Schools closing"
"Alaska warmer than Alabama"
"Deep freeze chills US"

It has been far too chilly here in the Florida panhandle the past couple of days, with lows in the 20's, wind chills in the single digits, and even a child in our school district showing up to school with frostbite.  I'm talking cold.  

So cold we couldn't even get our Pepper out of her kennel this morning:

Thanks to an idea from a friend, Dan decided to take advantage of the freezing temps and create a bit of fun for our kids when they woke up this morning.  Last night after we put the kids to bed, he let the sprinkler run in the back yard for a few hours before we went to sleep.  This is what they woke up to:

 even our little pool iced over!
Tucker was a tad disappointed we wouldn't let him ice skate.

They couldn't wait to eat an icicle:

After breakfast, they bundled up and went outside to check it out:

Super cool!