I received this Purpose Driven Connection email today by Rick Warrren, it was a great message. The older I get (and wiser) I have realized that the primary person who suffers by holding a grudge is the one holding it. The one whom the grudge is held against is not nearly as miserable as the one who has to live in bitterness toward another person. This message is such a good reminder to be a peacemaker- lets enter in to 2012 at total peace with others! 

Christmas: Peace with Each Other
by Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Connection)
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9 KJV)
Once you make peace with God and have the peace of God in your heart, you’re able to make peace with other people
God says, “I want you to be a peacemaker. I want you to be a reconciler.” The Bible calls this “the ministry of reconciliation.” 
As I’ve traveled from country to country over the past few years, I’ve seen a common problem: conflict. It exists between husbands and wives, generations, ethnic groups, religious groups, language groups, and nations. The greatest need in our world is reconciliation. Remember “peace on earth, good will toward men”? 
God says, “Once I have shown you grace, I want you to show it to other people. Show them the grace I have shown you. Be a peacemaker.”
Jesus said it like this. “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”(Matthew 5:9 KJV).If you really know Christ, the Prince of Peace, you will be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker — at work, at home, or at school. You will build people up, not tear them down. You will compliment more than you criticize. You will love people the way Jesus loves people.
Christmas is the perfect time to show grace to other people, because we’re reminded of the grace God has shown us — that he gives us what we need, not what we deserve. So let me ask you a very frank question. In the spirit of Christmas — “peace on earth, good will toward men” — with whom do you need to restore a broken relationship this Christmas?
You say, “I can’t do it.” When families get together at Christmas, a lot of times it brings back a lot of bad memories and past hurts and things you just haven’t let go of. You say, “I can’t let go of it. They hurt me too badly. I can’t forgive them.”
You’re right. That’s why you need Jesus! You don’t have it in you to let it all go. That’s why you’re still holding onto it. You need to be filled with the love of Christ and the peace of Christ. Until that happens, you’re not going to have the ability to let it go. 
What is God telling you to let go of today? Ask him to help you do it.


The Best Christmas Soup- Cheese Soup!

This soup sounds funky- Cheese Soup- but trust me, it is amazing! Our family always has it at Christmas so I thought I would share the recipe with you. It truly is the most delightful soup ever! Merry Christmas! 
OH, P.S. If your Trader Joes has the Cranberry Walnut Braid (in the bread section) buy it by the bulk for Christmas- it is so delicious! 

Cheese Soup:
1/4 cup butter (melt in large dutch oven or pan of choice)
2 green onion
3 stalks of celery
2 carrots 
Sauté until Soft (I add a lot more veggies than this and often add potatoes)
2 cans chicken broth (simmer for 30 minutes)
"Dump" the rest: 
3 cans cream of potato soup
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
few drops of tobasco
Course ground black pepper (just shake it to lightly cover top and stir)
8 oz sour cream
**(careful that the veggies don't burn to the bottom of the pan- low and slow is the trick, I put it on low for as many hours as I have at least 2-3)

NOTE: I usually triple this recipe for groups of 6 or more- I say at least double it, leftovers are a must! Also, Dave has to have flaky biscuits with this- they really are a must! 


Merry Christmas!

Here are some pictures of what we have been up to the past three weeks...not much! Having a new baby and recovering from the C-Section has provided us with a lot of "down time"! That, and the girls have been sick, so we are trying to avoid sharing that gift with others! The laundry basket consists entirely of Pj's, which is kind of refreshing for this time of year! Hope you and your families have a very Merry Christmas- I love this time of year to remember...God loves us enough to give us His only son- please know how loved you are by your heavenly father and rejoice in the birth, life, death and ressurection of our savior! God bless you this Christmas as you celebrate The One whom Christmas is all about! 

This is as close as Izzy came to santa this year- better luck next year! 

Merry Christmas from our new family of 5! 


What a Difference a Day Makes!

We went from this scene........

To This!!!!! 

 You've got it...we are home from the hospital! Isn't it amazing how 4 days can seem like an eternity! We have so many stories from the hospital (never seems to be a dull moment when I am checked in to a hospital) however, we are now home and settling in as a family of 5! Can you believe the pics above are hospital pictures? This darling company, bellababyphotography.com is contracted with the hospital and came to our room and took these pics in 10 minutes flat! What a blessing! The Lord showed up in huge ways this past week, it is always amazing to see Him work in little details that seem to be gifts of love just between God and us. We are so blessed to have friends to walk through these life events with us in prayer, thank you to all of our friends and family for enduring our "minute-by-minute" updates and requests. We are crazy about baby Milly and are so excited to get back to our "new" normal!
This is the day the LORD has made;
         We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24) 


Introducing Amelia (Milly) McMaster!

As most of you know, Milly is here! She came 11/30 at 11:53am weighing in at 7lb 7oz and 18 inches long! We did find out today that she is Coombs positive (just as Izzy was) so please keep her in your prayers. She has to be in the ICU until her billie ruben goes down, so as a sleepy mom who just wants to snuggle with her little girl- I am a touch emotional! I get wheeled down to ICU every 2 hours to feed and snuggle for 30 minutes- so we are praying for a miraculous healing so she can come be with us in the room again SOON!!! Meanwhile, I have a touch of time in the room to update some photos- so here you go! Thank you for all of the messages and prayers- we are blessed! 
{Daddy and Milly- the hospital made her that cute stocking!}

 {Izzy is nuts about Baby Milly}

{Ellie (or Mom #2) with Baby Milly}

{Allison with baby Milly- she saved the day hanging with the chix!}

{My big girl at the hospital!}

{The Whole Family!}

{Me and My Girls- Dave is WAY outnumbered!}

{Dave with the girls!}

{Cici and Pops with the McMaster girls!}

 {Uncle Matt, Aunt Emmy and Rogan with Milly}

{Henley and Milly}

{rogan with the girl- we are missing sweet Riv- coming soon!}

{All of 6 Grandkids for Cici and Pops!}

I will hopefully get some cute pics of my precious girl when she is out of ICU- she has a delightful going home outfit I will need to share! :) Thank you again for your sweet thoughts and prayers- Jenica


Tomorrow, Tomorrow....

Tomorrow (11/30/11) at 10:30am is the scheduled time for us to meet our sweet baby girl! We are so excited to meet her and see a picture of our complete (biological) family! It would have been delightful to have 3 natural births, but that is not how it worked for me. So, I am grateful for the c-section- for a planner like me, it is a huge gift! I have completed all of the necessary appointments- waxing, hair, nails, lunches, dinners, grocery shopping, Christmas shopping, laundry, journaling, packing- you name it, it is complete! The girls are scheduled to be in the loving hands of my precious cousin Allison- who is even taking them to "mommy and me" gymnastics tomorrow! The recovery would not be doable without my amazing mom, who has set aside December travel to hang with us and help with "the chix"! My cup overflows with joy for this next phase- I want to soak it all up- lots of "firsts" and "lasts"! I will say, Praise the Lord this is the LAST pregnancy- I will not miss any part of it- and will gladly donate the maternity clothing the moment they are no longer necessary! 
We would be extremely humbled and blessed by prayers tomorrow around 10:30am CST- I am so grateful that I have complete trust and faith in the One who is truly in control of every detail- you could drive yourself crazy with all of the "what if's" in child birth- and I have complete peace that the one who knit her together is in complete control of everything- there is such freedom in faith! Stay tuned for pictures! 

Psalm 139:13-18

Today's New International Version (TNIV)
 13 For you created my inmost being; 
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
   your works are wonderful, 
   I know that full well. 
15 My frame was not hidden from you 
   when I was made in the secret place. 
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 
 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. 
All the days ordained for me 
   were written in your book 
   before one of them came to be. 
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! 
   How vast is the sum of them! 

In case you are not up to date on the Miracle coming tomorrow- here are my previous posts on Baby Milly! The Announcement and The Name 

Introducing Eddy!

Well, we have a new family member- Eddy! He is our special elf friend who arrived last night and will be leaving us Christmas Eve. Frankly, I have been avoiding this whole "Elf on the Shelf" phenomenon- I like to downplay Santa as much as possible. I don't love the idea of lying to my children about a jolly man who sneaks into the house and leaves gifts...if you act nice for a month. I would rather tell them that we celebrate Christmas because God gave us the ultimate gift of Jesus Christ sent in human form to save us from our sins and just like we do not deserve this amazing gift, they- in no way- earn their Christmas gifts. It is a blessing from God, he provides for us so amazingly and because we love them, we bless them with a few special presents under the tree as an outpouring of God's perfect love.
However, my girlfriends basically told me that I am no fun and I need to get "the elf"! So, I compromised and we are doing the elf and Jesse Tree (previously mentioned) so I can teach them about the real meaning of Christmas and still have fun with a new tradition. Can I just say...the girls are obsessed with Eddy! We got the package with the book and they were mezmorized as we read the book and learned about our new friend. Ellie has been chatting with him since he arrived, even requesting gifts for her new baby sister Milly. I am not going to lie, I even told her that he would not come back if she wakes up too early in the morning- he doesn't travel when she is awake. And it really worked well, she stayed in her bed until I came to get her this morning! (Thanks Eddy!) The bottom line is, the girls LOVE this new tradition, I love seeing them have so much fun with it and lets just hope Dave remembers to move him around while I am in the hospital this week- they will be devastated if he stays put! Izzy woke up this morning and said "where's the elf?" Don't you love good friends who remind you to loosen up a bit!
I am sure I will be posting more this week- Baby Milly is coming Wednesday....so much to do...hair, nails, laundry, eating out- we are so excited!


Great Deal/Great Movies/Great Gift Idea

Everyone knows about Veggie Tales, I thought I would list our favorites since there are so many to choose from. Honestly, we love them all, but here are the favs! 
1. Princess and the Popstar
2. Royalty Collection
3. Little Joe (story of Joseph) Moe and the Big Exit (story of Moses)
4. Jonah 
5. Heroes of the Bible
6. The Holiday Pack (we watch these all year!)
7. Rack, Shack and Benny 
8. All of the "knock off" movies are great- Wizard of Ha's, The Pirates that Don't Do Anything, Lord of the Beans, Pistachio
9. Its a Meaningful Life
10. The new Christmas movie this year is Little Drummer Boy - we are excited! 

You can't go wrong with any of them, the sets with multiple movies are the way to go (like Heroes of the bible or Royalty Collection) you get several DVD's in one. Happy Shopping and Happy Thanksgiving! 


Guest Blog: Early Reading!

My sweet S.I.L. graciously offered to share some wisdom today- she is a darling mom of a 7-year-old boy, 4-year-old boy and 3-month-old baby girl! I love getting ideas from other moms- I know you will too! Thanks Britt! 

Early Reading Tools: Guest Blog by Brittany
Since my favorite mom-blogger is very busy preparing for the arrival of another beautiful niece of mine, I offered to write a guest blog about some of my favorite tools to help with phonics and reading.  
If you have a preschooler and have not discovered www.starfall.com, I encourage you to check it out.  The site introduces little hands to letter sounds, while allowing them to be exposed to using the keyboard and mouse.  Some kiddos (like mine) may find it challenging to use the mouse now that they’ve been introduced to touch devices, like smart phones and tablets.  The songs and videos are so catchy and help them remember helpful rules, like the role of the silent e, and who talks when a and e take a walk.  The interactive nature of the site keeps them entertained and learning at the same time. May be helpful as you try to get some things done this holiday season!
Bob Books are another incredible tool for early readers.  Each book focuses on a letter sound and uses repetition of short words using this sound. For instance, one book uses bag, rag and tag.  Starting with this group of books allows early readers to experience that great feeling of accomplishment as the get to repeat and master one skill at a time. Check them out at http://www.bobbooks.com.
Kids love to be active!  And there is no better way for learning than through activity, especially if you have boys! Some great tricks that we’ve used to keep letter and sounds fun are to use word blocks or flash cards and create games that keep them moving. One game that works for us is to put out the cards in the middle of the floor and then call out letters or sounds to be found.  Another is to line them up in a line and have them take different steps or animal walks to get from one letter to another. 
Every child has their own path and timeline to master reading and I hope these tools help to keep the learning fun on your journey to create little readers.
I’m sure you could dedicate post after post to great books, but I have to share a favorite in our house is The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen.  There is a sweet song that a dad/musician has posted online that puts the book to song. You have to check it out. http://truesongwriter.blogspot.com/2010/07/pout-pout-fish-song.html


The Dump...Part 2!

Since I am scheduled to have baby Milly two weeks from tomorrow, I have a lot to share and I don't have the energy for separate posts- so here is all I've got, random as it might be! (click here for the Dump: Part 1)

1. My girlfriends asked me to share my favorite "deal finders"- so I will share them with all of you (I am sure you know about most of them)!
  a. Slickdeals.net and froogle.com 
  b. Apps for IPhone: Coupon Sherpa (my fav), The Coupons App, Yowza, Shopkick
  c. Amazon.com- everyone knows Amazon- I always check the "today's deals" tab- always good finds this time of year- black Friday deals are coming soon! 
  d. http://www.priceblink.com - this is my new favorite!!! Just download their link and it when you are shopping, on any site, it will pop up if it finds a cheaper option anywhere online. Go check it out- it is awesome!!
2. Shane and Shane has a new album out, "The One You Need"- I love all of their music, it is as if they write exactly what I want to say to the Lord. I also love that they turn scripture into a beautiful song and I don't even know I am memorizing The Word. I was pumped when I dropped "the chix" off at school this morning so I could have an entire morning with the new album. It is amazing- check this song out "The One You Need", especially if you have a daughter http://shaneandshane.com (the video is on the homepage- it hits the spot for a pregnant mom of 3 girls!) I also like "Because He's God"
3. I have been feeling a touch frumpy and large lately so I decided to do some research and find the best "glow" (I am talking self tanner friends!) I usually don't use any tanners in the winter- I have never been able to find one that is natural looking. I really have a few issues I was trying to avoid with my new product: 1. the smell (enough said) 2. the color- Im not trying to be orange 3. the application- I am way to lazy to make sure there is no streaking, I just want to apply and be done- I get really annoyed when a streak shows up 3 hours later. So I found this delightful product: Fake Bake I like the one for fair skin, there is one for darker skin- but I like the gradual idea. There are so many options by this brand, I like the face tanner as well. The box comes with gloves, which really work well to apply. You can see where the lotion is going, so you know if there is any streaking immediately. I am really pleased with this product!
4. I am doing the Beth Moore: 90 days on His Journey of Faith (Paul) study right now. I did the one on Jesus and David previously. I really like them all, they are perfect for the seasons when a full group Bible Study is not possible. It probably takes 20 or 30 minutes to do one lesson depending on the time you put in. I am SO excited for her new study on James I can't wait! 
5. I have mentioned before, but I am going to tell you again about my love for Dior Skinflash radiance booster pen  I am pretty sure it is my favorite product of the moment- the under-eyes need some serious help these days and this little beauty goes with me everywhere! 
6. My friend Amy is such a gem, she coordinated a "Jesse Tree" group. This is a great little devotional for Dec 1- Dec 25 where you can share the story of Christ with your kids during the Christmas season. I love the idea that we will focus, at least a little bit, every day on "the reason for the season". Everyone in our group is making the ornaments then we will swap and have them for future years. So excited to start this new tradition. 
7. My favorite Thanksgiving Cheaters: 1. Trader Joes Cornbread Stuffing (no chopping, no baking required- always trying to save oven space) 2. Williams-Sonoma Gravy 3. Williams-Sonoma Cranberry Relish 4. Williams-Sonoma Dry Brine 5. Williams-Sonoma Pumpkin Bread and Butter 6. Williams-Sonoma Pecan Pie Filling  Can you tell I like Williams-Sonoma! Make sure to grab any of these early- they sell out!
8. I just need to say it- my friends are sick of me saying it- I really really love Siri (on the IPhone 4S)- she really has changed my life! moving on......
9. I usually avoid topics like this- you don't really need to know the goods under the clothes- but Hanky Panky Boyshort panties are just plain delightful! Even for a very pregnant woman! I love them pregnant or not pregnant- very comfy! Ok...now that we have that in the open! 
10. I felt like I needed a #10 so I am going to share with you what is on my heart lately. I am really trusting the Lord for some big things for our family- we are down to the wire on our "prayer requests" and the only thing that gives us perfect peace is that God is in control and we have complete trust in Him alone and faith that he will take care of our every need. So here is the, very familiar, scripture I am claiming: Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Isn't it wonderful that we don't have to lean on our own understanding- things are just better off in His perfect hands, we don't have to stress about it, just lay it down at his feet and he will take care of everything! In one of the Purpose Driven Life devotionals Rick Warren posted, “Telling God exactly how you feel is one way to show Him you understand exactly who He is.” What I am grateful during this season: is that my Almighty God is trustworthy with every detail I bring to him, he has a plan and purpose for my life (Jer 29:11) and he is a God of Hope that fills me with joy and peace (Ro 15:13) no matter the circumstance. I pray that you will know his joy and peace during this wonderful season of busyness! 

That pretty much covers it, I might be a little M.I.A this next month- but I am sure I will be inspired to post a little something on a certain baby girl who is coming SOON! 


Healthy Pizza!

I am really on a roll with food lately- I suppose it is the pregnancy! I have a great little trick for healthy-easy pizza and I want to share it with you. My husband, who LOVES processed food and especially delivered pizza says he would rather have this than have delivery- which is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! 
So here it is- Pita Pizza! The best part is that everyone can make their own mini pizza with this and happily eat without complaining!

Here is what you need for Pita Pizza: 
- Whole Wheat Pita Bread (always try for 100% whole wheat)
- Grated Mozzarella cheese
- Pizza Sauce (I like organic, whatever you get, make sure it has very few ingredients & avoiding sugar- it is even better without sugar, I promise!) I like Mario Batali sauce- ( the only ingredients are: San Marzano Tomatoes, Fresh Basil. Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Sea Salt) 
- Toppings- whatever you like! 
* put the pita on a tray, brush with olive oil and place in the oven at 350 for 5 minutes or so- just to soften it up
* Take the pita out of the oven and apply the sauce around the pita leaving the edges to hold
* apply toppings (pepperoni, ground beef, veggies, whatever you like)
* apply cheese 
* Place in 350 oven until cheese is melted and pita is to your desired crispness

Here is our family run down:
Dave: mini Hormel peperoni's
Izzy: Plain old Cheese!
Jenica: Broccoli- lots of it! (I get the "Steam Fresh" broccoli bags and make that for the family and add some chopped up pieces to my pizza) 
Ellie: for some reason she doesn't like cheese- no idea where she got that- so she takes the pita out of the oven (with the olive oil on it) and puts hummus or bruschetta on it and cuts it like pizza- whatever floats her boat! 

There you have it- super easy and really yummy! 


Chili Recipe

Well, even though it is 80 degrees here in Kansas City, I am making my Chili for dinner for two basic reasons 1) I have the ingredients and 2) Dave thought Chili Frito Pie sounded good! So, while I am waiting for it to cook, I thought I would share my recipe with you! I will start by saying, I will be having Chili Triscuit pie while my hubby and children will feast on Fritos- I think Triscuits are absolutely delightful. Here is why- the ingredient list is as follows: whole grain soft white winter wheat, soybean oil and salt. Period. I love things that taste good and I can understand all of the ingredients- no artificial anything and no bleached anything! I really love the Triscuit Thin Crisps- they are great as nachos (just use them instead of chips). Tonight I will be trying the new Triscuit Minis- I am pretty excited for these little bite-sized delights! Ok, back to the recipe:

- brown 2 lbs ground beef (I always buy 90% lean or more- whatever the leanest the store has, I get)
* in a separate dutch oven put the following:
- 1T Canola Oil
- Veggies: red peppers and carrots are a must (if you like those) and whatever else you have: green, yellow and orange peppers, onion, asparagus, you name it- add it! (let's face it, with chili seasoning you can't really taste the veggies- they are just good for nutrition and crunch) Finely chop as much as you want in there- go crazy!
*Cover and sauté until soft
- Dump: the cooked beef, 1 large can of diced tomatoes, 1 large can of tomato sauce (buy 2 just in case), 1 can low sodium black beans (or whatever beans you like), 2 packages of chili seasoning (I like McCormick Mild for the girls)- if the beef and veggies overpower the liquid (too chunky) add more tomato sauce or I will pour some v8 in there for liquid- whatever you like!
*Cover and simmer on low for as long as you want- I usually make it at nap time (2pm) and leave it on low until we are ready to eat.

This is a great way to introduce new veggies and it is also great for leftover nachos the next day- just put over chips, cover in cheese, bake until cheese melts- and there you go!



But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal 5:22-23 NIV)

Today I was journaling and praying for Milly (of course from PrayerWithPurpose: 90 Days of Prayer for Your Unborn Child) and the prayer today was for Self-Control. As I was praying and thinking about my desire for her to learn this virtue early, I thought I would share my thoughts with you. It seems like the words "self-control" come up a LOT around our house with Ellie and Izzy. Each day provides numerous opportunities to teach them how to control their actions and emotions. Restaurants, school, playtime, nap time, bath time, meal time, grocery shopping, walking on a side walk...you name the situation and there is a lesson on self-control to be learned. I know the book is "controversial" but I was so grateful for "Baby Wise" when my girls were infants. That book really stresses teaching self-control from the start. I taught the girls to have "pack-n-play time", which was a period of time when they needed to be in a confined space with toys or books and learn to be content with self-play. At first, they wanted out- lots of screaming and crying- but they learned to stay in until I said it was over and to entertain themselves in a safe environment for a period of time. This has really paid off for us, they are still completely content with self-play and quiet time. From there we moved to high chair manners. They needed to learn to control their hands while in a high chair and stay in the high chair until the meal was complete. By sticking with this practice, they learned self-control- even though they wanted to get up and run around or crawl all over the booth or smear food in their hair- they learned to control their actions and act appropriately. I think my #1 advice for new moms is this: it is a LOT easier to "train" babies than to undo bad habits with a toddler. This goes for naps, bedtime, eating, tantrums, restaurant behavior, etc.. I believe if you are consistent from infancy, you will save yourself from a lot of issues when they can talk (or scream) back at you. 
I am constantly discussing self-control with Ellie, when she doesn't get exactly what she wants she will use her whole body to display her dissatisfaction. She wants to be in control of every decision and we are teaching her that- while she can't control the decision or the activity- she can control how she reacts to our authority. The hard part, yet the most important part, is that each time she displays a lack of self-control she receives a consequence- one that makes an impact (for us it is usually spanking or taking away her most important item (i.e. blankie) depending on the severity of the "offense" and definitely not giving in to whatever caused the behavior in the first place). We all know adults who didn't learn self-control as a child- just as it is harder to teach a toddler this lesson it is increasingly difficult as the years progress, which is probably why obesity and infidelity are so out of control in our world. I believe that it is out of love for my kids that I teach them this important virtue at a young age. They will still struggle and have heartache and issues like everyone does- but this can be one tool for them to get through tough times. This life we live in allows us to constantly use self-control even if we don't realize it- we are using it when we turn off the TV or computer and spend time with our families, when we resist the 2nd cupcake (or whatever your turn-off number is), when we don't purchase an item we don't have money for, etc.. I believe it is an extraordinary gift to teach our children how to control their actions from a young age and I pray that the Lord will teach me how He wants me to shepherd them in this virtue. I want to teach them about all of the fruits of the spirit and more importantly I pray that I can be an example to them in how to live them out daily (with a lot of grace of course!).

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (Ro 6:12-14)

*****This is a good general article on teaching children self-control at various ages: http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/self_control.html


The Dump!

This is my blog "dump"- random information that I feel the need to share! Enjoy! 
1. My new favorite App for the IPad or IPhone is jib jab junior- you already know how I love jib jab (http://delightfulmomstuff.blogspot.com/2011/01/hours-of-fun.html) and these are delightful books where, in typical Jib Jab style, you can plug a face in and get a custom book for your child. Other fun Apps are: PBS Kids, Strawberry Shortcake, Dora Ballet, Barbie Fashionista, Barbie i can be and Barbie Doll'd Up Nails, Meet the Sight Words flash cards and of course Talking Tom. What are your favs?
2. I am dying for this Momaroo Infant seat- so much better than the giant swing! If you are having your 1st, this would be awesome- I dont know if I can talk the husband into a $200 investment for the 3rd and final baby- but it would be delightful! Check it here 
3. I need all of you girls to know about "push presents"- Ladies... if you are carrying a child for 9 months and delivering the child and getting up all night to feed the child- highly suggest the "PP"- they cant say no! I personally am grateful for our tradition- I have a band to wear with my wedding rings for each child, I hope to give the girls their bands at some point- very excited for my 3rd and final PP! 
4. My girls are loving, "LeapFrog: Sing and Learn with Us" video- it is a great one! 
5. My friend was wearing this Laura Mercier Caviar eye shadow stick in Amethyst and it looked so lovely I had to have one- it lasts forever and it so pretty! (Sephora or Nordstrom)
6. I am saving up for the Hunter Original Short Boot- I would love my girls to have the pink ones too- but that might be a little much (all three of us rolling around in hunter rain boots! :)
7. Baldwin Denim just came out with jeans for kids- The Kid B for boys and the legging jean for girls. The girls legging jean is darling and so soft (the women's legging jean "The L" is also my favorite for me)! www.baldwindenim.com 
8. Two months from today Baby Milly is scheduled to come- can I just say the last trimester is the reason we are willing to go through childbirth- the "symptoms" are ridiculous! 
9. I am really into Oil right now: Vitamin E oil for the body (see post), Moroccan Oil for the hair, Jojoba oil for the nails and face, Rhonda Allison Growth Factor Serum for the face and Bio Oil for stretch mark prevention and scars. 
10. I love Rhonda Allison Brightening Pigment Lotion - an esthetician told me to apply this with gauze pads and I notice a huge difference with discoloration and scaring with this.
11. My favorite Dry Shampoo (and I have tried them ALL) is Oscar Blandi (Allure agreed with me in 2008, it was their editor's pick)- I love it except the bottle is not great to travel with for messy reasons, but good for carry on reasons- perfect size in the 1 oz. 
12. My mom received Jo Malone Nectarine Blossom & Honey lotion and fragrance for her birthday and I have a touch of fragrance envy (always trying to steal a pump from her) I love all of Jo's fragrances (Orange Blossom and Lotus Blossom & Water Lily are favs too) but this one is at the top! The best part about Jo (besides the delightful aroma) is that you can sample all of the fragrances and the samples come in little spray bottles (great for travel) so you can make sure you love it first. I am powering through my current bottle (which lasts forever) so that I can switch to Nectarine Blossom in time for Christmas!

There you go, all of my random information is now in your hands! 



Delightful and Healthy Banana Bread!

Apparently, this week is recipe week on here. This was not intentional, clearly this pregnant lady wants to think about food! As a side note, I do not want to think about clothing because ALL of the fall clothes are do delightful and I am stuck in maternity wear- which, let's face it, is horrific! I am trying not to spend money on any maternity clothes since this is the last pregnancy and I have 2.5 months to go- but I am feeling a touch "ug" these days! Friends, if you see me wear the same all black outfit for the next 2.5 months- you know why! OK- back to the cooking! I wanted to share this recipe because it is always such a hit- this bread does not last 24 hours in the house. I have made some changes (in red) to make it really healthy and still yummy. I am sure you are like me and always have brown bananas hanging around- so this is the perfect recipe to use those up! Enjoy! 

Banana Bread: (actual recipe in black, my changes in red)
- 3-4 ripe or overripe bananas (I put in as many as I have- the more bananas the less sugar I add)
- 1 cup sugar (I put 1/2 cup or less)
- 1 egg
- 1.5 cups of flour (I use whole wheat or whole wheat white)
- 1/4 cup melted butter or margarine (margarine is best, smart balance works well too, I add a touch more than 1/4 cup to make it moist- really moist is 1 stick)
- 1t baking soda
- 1t salt (I just twist the sea salt grinder once, if the nuts are salted I don't add any)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I use pecans because I always have them on hand)
*My additions: I add a few shakes of cinnamon in the mix and on top before I bake, if I have blueberries I add blueberries, I also add a tablespoon or two of ground flax seed

**Mash bananas with fork, stir in other ingredients, pour into loaf pan (8.5 x4.5x2.5) bake 1 hour at 325 degrees (check at 45 minutes)


Fall Soup Favorite!

Since it feels like fall now, I am excited to bring soup back into my "dinner mix". I have a lot of favorites, which I will share along the way, but this is my #1 (initially introduced by my delightful SIL, Courtney!) Really healthy and everyone loves it! Here is the original recipe: http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=857318) I change it a bit every time, below is my version. 

Black Bean Soup: 

  • warm up 2T canola oil in dutch oven
  • add tons of veggies (carrots, celery, onion, peppers..anything you want) 
  • cover and cook until soft (med heat)                                                                          
  • when soft add 3 cans black beans (Ranch Style Black Beans are best, sometimes I use low Sodium black beans)                                                                                                   
  • 2 cans mild Ro-tel (dont do mild if you like really spicy)
  • 2 cans tomato sauce (or more depending on how many veggies you use)  
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • small bundle or "fist full" of cilantro                            

cook for 1 hour or more (depending on time, I cook it for a couple of hours at least), (you can add groud flax seed or anything you want to sneak in), then blend it with my hand blender (or leave it chunky) - I like to blend because you can sneak ANYTHING in without complaining!  
*add 1 can mexican style corn- after blending
*** I serve this with Corn bread (packaged- trade out milk for water and add 1 small can of corn or creamy corn makes it amazing, then bake) top soup with sour cream and cheese if you wish.
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