Friday, October 28, 2011

Kids, Carseats & other feats of amazing significance.

Most people think to themselves, "I want to go somewhere" and then grab a bag (maybe), their keys and walk out the door. They get in their car. Start the car. And go. That doesn't happen in our world. It is a task that sometimes feels as grueling as climbing a mountain. First, is the gathering. The bags. The diapers. The wipes. The returns to the store. The shopping lists. The sippy cups. The snacks. The activity bag (no getting bored). The coupons. The directions. The agendas. Next is the ushering out. This sounds simple... open a door and have children move towards the car. But sometimes the direction goes askew. The play ground beckons. The tricycle must be ridden. The water hose must be tampered with. A hershey's kiss must be deceptively snuck out of gramma and grampa's nest (efficiency apartment). If I can get them to the car and still have them avoiding the appealing mud puddles or rocks from the driveway then comes the next step. The wrangling into carseats. Sometimes this feels more like trying to rope tie a hog covered in oil. Not that I've done that. But I do have imagination. Getting kids over seats into the right seats and having them strapped securely. Being sure to avoid kicking a fellow sibling in the face while diving back into the way back is not something to belittle. This takes serious skill. After carseats is the final round and chorus of moans, cries, pleading, begging, or gabbing. "I need my doll." "I have to go potty." "I forgot my milk". "I need blankie." "I need my fuzzy." "Mommy, he hit me." Recently while pumping gas in the car I was informed very loudly by my daughter, "Mommy, Ian's throwing chicken nuggets at me." I was alarmed by this misbehavior but even more so because we hadn't had chicken nuggets in several days! Not only did he manage to accurately hit his sister in the back of the head with a nugget but also landed one on the dashboard of the car. Whining subsided. Passy found and soothing in progress. Thumbs are being sucked. Crackers are being eaten. Milk is being drunk. I slide into my seat. I manage to safely back out and NOT hit Ben or my Dad's vehicle and we're on our way. Rocks are crunching underneath and we leave our home to enter the unknown. Once we hit paved road we know we are successfully on our way. We are headed to "town." Seriously, yes, that is what we say. We say, "We're going into town. Need anything?" What are we? Little House on the Prairie? I don't think of myself as a country girl but how can you NOT be country when you ask the question of anything followed by "while I'm in town." "I'll go there when I'm next in town." "I will make that return while I'm in town." Yeah, it's like that. Sometimes a thumb is not enough. Michael likes to suck on all his fingers!

Fall Barbie Princess Party.

Libby's Birthday party was a lot of fun. We enjoyed pizza, decorating pumpkins and a cake. I used a bundt pan for the cake and then bent Barbie in half... the cake was her "ball gown" style dress. It was a lot of fun to make. Pictures didn't turn out great... hope to eventually get a better camera so I can take better pictures... but thankful I have what I have. Should have taken pics in the daylight time... but that's hindsight, isn't it. You always see 20/20 looking back. Libby had a great time. She enjoyed her party. That's the important thing... Not my silly desires for perfection.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Libby Girl.

Don't you love the pumpkin grins. She's missing her front two teeth and one on bottom. So cute! Hard to see in the pics.... but they are missing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My thirty-one party.

My friend Shelley sells thirty-one products. I'm hosting an online party... and you're invited! Go and browse and shop here! The party closes at 5 p.m. on the 30th (this Saturday). Orders are done online. Here's a sweet deal... if you spend over $31 you get their organizing utility tote (valued at $25) for just $7.
From their signature purses and totes to storage solutions that help organize your life, you'll find something to fit every personality and situation.

Hunt Club

Pictures from my time with Samuel & Libby and my cousin Emily at Hunt Club Farms

Monday, October 24, 2011

Free pancakes for kids.

This Friday, October 28th, IHOP will celebrate Halloween early and give trick-or-treaters 12 and under a FREE Scary Face Pancake all day, from 7 am to 10 pm. No purchase is necessary. Enough said. Guess who's getting pancakes Friday?! I might pick up Libby from school early so we can go at an "unconventional" time when people won't be out in droves. At least I'm attempting to beat the masses. Here are more details: WHAT: IHOP restaurants will celebrate Halloween by offering kids 12 and under a free Scary Face Pancake as part of a national No Tricks – Just Treats program designed to provide kids with a safe and fun Halloween event. The Count Spatula “design-your-own” Scary Face Pancake includes an oversized signature buttermilk pancake with a whipped topping mouth and strawberry nose, served with two mini OREO® cookies and candy corn on the side to allow kids to create their own Halloween hotcake. Also, you can arrange to have a reminder call from Count Spatula... pretty cute! And helpful so you don't accidentally forget!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Will you tangle my shoes?" Samuel asking me to tie his shoes this morning.
Ian:"Are we going to Hi-Hop? (IHOP) "Cuz, I want some han-hakes!" (pancakes)
Libby has not only lost her top two teeth but has also just lost another tooth today... one near her bottom middle teeth... She looks more like a jack-a-lantern all the time.

Happy Birthday Libby!

Me and My Girl.

          This is my Libby Anne Hope. She is 7 today. I can't believe it. I remember when she first came into this world. Crying the most beautiful cry. Her eyes dark blueberries. She looked around and was completely alert... taking in everything. She was adored. I don't think the hospital had ever had so many people come clustered outside the nursery to see one baby. I told the nurses of why there were so many... they had come to see the Hope girl.

         Libby was named after my precious sister. When my sister and her unborn son, Sam, were killed in a car accident, I decided that if the child I was carrying was a girl, her name would be Libby. So I found out on my birthday in June that indeed I was having a girl. I knew I was having a Libby. She would never replace my sister but she would be special.

        I didn't know Libby would be my only girl. I thought having one I could probably have another... 4 boys later, right?! I realize it's a miracle. I guess I should have considered myself warned. Libby after all was the first Napier girl born in 82 years... all the other Napier women were married into the family. It's a world of boys out there....

       So many reasons Libby is special... But I love her not just because she bears my sister's name or  the first girl born in 8 decades.... but because She is MY girl! My sweet, sensitive, emotional, compassionate, thoughtful, perfectionist, dramatic daughter! I love her laugh and smile and how she goes and on and on when she talks. I love her singing and dancing. I love her care for her brothers. I love her heart. I love her creativity... from her outfit selections to her artwork... she expresses herself.

      I am so proud of her and I love her so much!!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Time Away.

Mike and I are enjoying some time away. We just had two nights by ourselves. We pick up the kids this afternoon. In the past we would come to the Outerbanks and not go once to the beach. We've enjoyed walking on the beach twice. I know. Don't pass out from shock.  It's funny how I tend to marvel at the quiet, the order, the peace of just being able to drink a cup of tea... the whole cup, while it's still hot. I've been a bit sick. Sinus infection/head cold managed to catch up with me. But yet, with the help of a netti pot, emergen-c, ibuprofen, etc. we've been able to enjoy a dinner out, a movie, a lot of laughter and tears as we've processed our life together thus far. It's been a mix of beauty and painful heartache. As if there was any other kind of heartache. Life is not always a beach, as the saying goes. But there's no one else I'd rather live it with than Mike.
Me & Mike

I love you Babe. Thanks for walking this crazy road with me. Thanks for being there. For being present in the midst of so much pain. From not walking away from the pain. Not turning away from the buckets of vomit. From all the shots that we were forced to give Samuel. From the hair falling out. From the exhausting nights of little to no sleep. From holding me when I cried myself to sleep. For playing with the kids, just as if it was business as usual. For Starbucks on dark days. For laughter that came after weeping. For your commitment to me and our five precious children. You have made the difference in this journey. You have helped me hold onto sanity when I wanted to give up. You pulled me out of the darkened room of my mind and prayed for me and comforted me... and asked Jesus to intercede when all hope seemed lost. 
       I am the woman I am because you are the man you are. I would never have asked God to give Samuel cancer... but I am thankful that even in the midst of it we have been able to see His hand at work. We have seen His provision and tender love and faithfulness in the midst of hardship.
       And even now, we don't have the answers to our future but our faith is in the One who not only knows the answers but plans our purposes and directs our steps. He will be faithful to us til the end. Jesus even now intercedes on the throne on our behalf.
       And with Jesus for us... who can be against us?! Can anything separate us from His love? Nope.

I love you more than words can say!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Time for me...

What? Talk about selfish, right? What is this 'time for me' thing mean? I had noticed when I looked on my calendar that the only time I had scheduled for myself was doctor's appointments and parenting obligations (PTA, etc.) I have to remember to take breaks to care for myself... so that I can care for my husband and children.

Let's talk for a minute about self-care... Do the images of a self-centered person come to mind? Do thoughts of someone devoted wholly to themselves come into play?

I used to think it was just plain wrong to have time to yourself... and as a mom of five... time to self is a very interesting thing... I mean longer than spending two minutes on the toilet... I mean TIME to self.

I used to believe it was wrong to love yourself.... but then I was challenged by Scripture... love your neighbor as your _____________. Come on. Fill in the blank.....

Self. Yep.

What does it mean to love your neighbor as YOUR SELF....?

How many of you have been on a plane? Then maybe you've heard the flight attendant's instructions. "Please put on your oxygen mask FIRST before assisting children (or other passengers) with their masks." I will tell you what. You won't be doing well if you pass out before you can put the oxygen mask on. You probably won't even get the mask on the other person...

Honestly, I can't take care of my family if I have nothing left to give. If I give, give, give.... and I tend to give up. I'm so tired, exhausted, and overwhelmed I can barely move. But if I care for myself then out of my abundance I can give to my husband and my kids and to others.

My kids will watch what I do and do it themselves. I am their role model.. whether I like it or not. Do I show them it's okay to care for yourself or do I teach them... give until you can't anymore and your burnt out and exhausted and start yelling at everyone. If I show them it's okay to take care of your needs so that you can better help others I hope that they will follow suit.

Taking care of yourself is like hitting a re-set button. You go from empty to full again...

How you can care for yourself:

-give yourself good food and lots of water.... take your vitamins or necessary medicine. Your body needs good fuel to run properly.
-Rest. You need sleep in order to function. That one makes me laugh. Because sometimes getting sleep is beyond our control... especially with young children. But if you can help it... get it! Sleep is so important.
-Exercise.... Helps your mood, fights depression, works your heart, metabolism, etc. improves your health
-Take Breaks... Whether it's from work or managing a household or children... Take breaks. Take a bath. Make a cup of tea. Relax. Read a book. Go for a walk. Meet up with a friend.Work on a Craft.
-Care for your body. It may not seem as important as your soul.... but you do only get one body... be good to it! Get Medical check-ups. Dental check-ups. Brush your teeth, floss. Moisturize. Shave. Shower. Dress up.
-RECREATION. (falls in line with taking breaks, above) I don't think we understand this word. Recreation.... defined by the Free Dictionary as follows: 1. refreshment of health or spirits by relaxation and enjoyment 2. an activity or pastime that promotes this Do something that truly rejuvenates you. Something that leaves you feeling refreshed. There is a difference between wasting your time (flipping channels, idly filling time on facebook) and doing something that will help give you renewed purpose.
Let's re-create ourselves... so we can continue to love and serve and ultimately to glorify God.
-Enjoy Life. Drink a warm favorite beverage. Paint your nails. Buy yourself some flowers or a plant. Open your window and enjoy fresh air. Burn a candle. Enjoy a piece of chocolate.
-Laugh. Watch a funny movie. Call a friend. Laugh at yourself.

Just some thoughts. Somedays I'm better than others at caring for myself. Unfortunately, the adage is true, "When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." But the opposite is also true... when I care for myself I am usually pretty cheerful and it spreads to the rest of my family...

 It doesn't need to cost money. You don't even need for it to be hours... but try and get 20 minutes or more several times a week. Write yourself some "you time" into your calendar today.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pass the vitamin C.

Mike is sick. He has a sinus/head cold thing going. He seems miserable. I bought him a new netti pot (for sanitary reasons), a plethora of emergen-c, airborne, water, gatorade, chicken broth, tissues, a bag of ricola, etc.

The key is to keep Samuel from getting sick. We're scheduled to go away for two nights this Thursday. I'm hoping he will be well enough to travel. I'm sure it will be good to get away... and it will keep Samuel from getting sick too.... but I'm hoping we can actually enjoy our time away.

We need some downtime to process our life. Talk about "next steps".... and just be.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Flashes of Hope pictures.

Samuel & Peter

Me & My Love

The Fabulous Five

This is just a small sample of the fabulous pictures that were taken through "Flashes of Hope". It's a service that is provided for families who have children with cancer. They take pictures of the patient and their families for free! We get to have rights to the pictures and they printed us out a gorgeous family photo and individual shot of Samuel. We are so blessed.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Listen to Your Grandma...

My Grandma said it first. She really did. She told me ways to be frugal... but did I listen... "Nooooooooo."

And here I am, realizing that she was right all along.

Okay, it's not that I thought my Grandma was wrong.... but maybe it's realizing that I'm going to implement a few ideas she had suggested to me, oh, about 8 years ago.

I was a newlywed and thought I knew what I wanted. This is coming from someone who wasn't much of a cook, a cleaner, or well, much of anything :)

I guess maybe now that I'm older and hopefully a little wiser that I'm more humble to the input of others.

My Grandma has lots of great ideas. She really does. Sometimes I deviate from the most cost effective suggestions because I need to do what's best for my family and that can be a little more costly because of the convenience, etc. But there is a season for everything under the sun (Ecclesiastes)... and hopefully this is a season for me to be more thrifty in ways I can be.

So, I'm going "old-school" on some cleaning products... Here's what I'm going with: baking soda, vinegar, lemons, castile soap, borax, and if I can find it, washing soda.

I found some good recipes online on how to turn these normal, inexpensive products into some serious "green", mean, cleaning machines.

Plus, this way I can not only cut costs but not be concerned about the chemicals that my kids would be coming into contact with.

I found these natural cleaning recipes online at

Alice’s Wonder Spray All-Purpose Household Cleaner

Ingredients: Liquid Castile soap, white distilled vinegar, borax, purified water, and an essential oil for fragrance.

What Else You’ll Need: A clean 16-oz. trigger spray bottle.

How to Make Your Own:

Mix 2 tbsp. of vinegar with 1 tsp. borax .
Fill the rest of the bottle with very hot water.
Shake until the borax is dissolved.
Add the 1/4 cup of liquid soap or.
To scent, add 10 to 15 drops of an essential oil.

I like to use a combination of lavender and lemon. Because minerals in the water inhibit cleaning, it's best to use purified or distilled water especially for this recipe. It's important to dissolve the borax in hot water so that it doesn't clog the spray nozzle. And don't mix the soap and vinegar directly together, because the soap will clump up. Please follow the order of the recipe by mixing the vinegar, borax, and water first and adding the soap last.

How to Use:

Spray and Wipe. Use Alice's Wonder Spray as you would any other all-purpose household cleaner.

Make Your Own Natural Healthy Dishwashing liquids:

1/4 cup soap flakes
2 cups hot water
1/4 cup glycerin
1/2 teaspoon lemon essential oil

1) In bowl combine soap flakes and water and stir until the soap is dissolved. Cool to luke warm.

2) Stir in the glycerin and the essential oil, leave to cool. As it cools it will form a loose gel. Stir with a fork and break up the gel and then pour into a narrow-necked bottle. An old shampoo bottle makes an excellent container.

3) To use, squirt 3 teaspoonfuls into hot running water.

Liquid castile soap
10 drops lavender essential oil
8 drops rosemary essential oil
4 drops eucalyptus essential oil

1) Fill a clean 22-ounce plastic squirt bottle with castile soap (diluted according to directions if using concentrate).
2) Add the essential oils.
3) To use, squirt 3 teaspoonfuls into hot running water.

Make Your Own Natural Healthy Automatic Dishwasher Detergent:

1/2 cup liquid Castile soap
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 drops tea tree extract (or oil)
1/4 cup white vinegar
Baking Soda

Mix together all ingredients except the Baking soda. Store in squeeze bottle. Use 1 Tbsp. in the first cycle and 1 Tbsp. in the automatic soap dispenser for standard size dishwasher. Sprinkle a handful of baking soda over dirty dishes and in the bottom of your dishwasher to absorb odors and boost cleaning power at the start.

Make Your Own Natural Healthy Oven Cleaner:

1 quart warm water
2 teaspoons borax
2 tablespoons liquid soap

Spray on solution, wait 20 minutes, then clean.

Baking soda

Combine one cup of baking soda with enough water to make a paste. Apply it to your oven surfaces, and let it stand a short while. Use the scouring pad for scrubbing the surfaces. A spatula or bread knife is helpful for getting under large food deposits. This recipe will require some elbow grease, but it is not toxic to you or a child.

Make Your Own Natural Healthy Microwave Cleaner:

1/4 cup baking soda
1 teaspoon vinegar
5-6 drops thyme, lemongrass, or lemon essential oil

Combine all ingredients to make a paste. Apply to the walls and floor of the microwave with a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse well and leave the microwave door open ot air-dry for about 25-minutes.

1 cup water
1 quart warm water
1/4 cup baking soda

To loosen dried-on food, put 1 cup water in a microwavable cup and heat in the microwave until it boils; turn off the microwave and let the water sit for 1 minute. Dissolve baking soda in 1 quart warm water and, using a sponge or cloth, wash the interior of the microwave with this solution to clean and deodorize it.

Make Your Own Natural Healthy Kitchen Floor Cleaner:

1) A pencil eraser removes heel marks from a floor.

2) For greasy, no-wax floors:

1 cup vinegar
1/4 cup washing soda
1 tablespoon vegetable oil-based liquid soap
2 gallons hot water

Combine all ingredients, stirring well to dissolve the washing soda. Mop as usual.

In a bucket mix 1/2 cup white vinegar with 1-gallon hot water.
This is safe for hardwood, linoleum, tile, and any washable surface.

Make Your Own Natural Healthy Appliance Cleaner:

2 cups water
1/4 cup oil-based soap
10 drops rosemary, lavender, or citrus essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a plastic spray bottle. Shake well before each use. Spray generously on appliance surface and wipe with a damp cloth or sponge. Wipe dry with a cloth or towel.

1 teaspoon borax
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups hot water

Combine in a spray bottle. Shake to mix and dissolve borax. Spray on appliances and wipe off with a soft cloth or sponge.

Make Your Own Cleaning Recipes for the Bathroom

Make Your Own Natural Healthy Disinfectant Spray:

2 Cups Water
1/4 Cup White Vinegar
1/4 tsp. Tea Tree Oil
1/4 tsp. Lavender Oil

Combine and store in a spray bottle. Shake occasionally. Use where ever a disinfectant spray is needed.

Make Your Own Natural Healthy Tub and Tile Cleaner:

1 2/3 cups baking soda
1/2 cup liquid soap
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup water
a few drops of Tea tree essential oil

Mix soda and soap. Add water, then add vinegar and oil. Store in a squirt-top bottle and shake before using. Rinse thoroughly to avoid leaving a residue.


Combine 1/2 cup baking soda with enough vegetable-oil-based liquid soap to make a frosting-like mixture.
Add 15 drops of Tea tree oil .

Scoop the mixture onto a sponge and scrub the bathtub, sinks, Formica countertops or shower stall. Rinse.

Make Your Own Natural Healthy Toilet Bowl Cleaner:

Pour a cup of white vinegar into the toilet and toss in a handful of baking soda to soak about 10 minutes.

Swish with toilet brush.

Mix enough borax and lemon juice into a paste which can cover the entire ring.
Flush toilet to wet the sides, and then rub on paste.
Let sit for 2 hours and scrub thoroughly.

For less stubborn toilet bowl rings, sprinkle baking soda around the rim and scrub with a toilet brush.

Make Your Own Natural Healthy Mirror Cleaner:

1-1/2 cups vinegar
1/2 cup water
8 drops citrus essential oil of choice

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well before use. Spray solution onto mirror and wipe with a dry cloth or towel.

1/4 cup white vinegar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 cups warm water

Put all ingredients in a large spray bottle. Shake well to dissolve the cornstarch. To use, spray liberally on the mirror, wipe with a clean cloth. Buff to a streak free shine with a wadded up piece of newspaper.

Make Your Own Cleaning Recipes for the Laundry

Make Your Own Natural Healthy Fabric Softener:

2 cups baking soda
2 cups white vinegar
4 cups water.

Mix these ingredients and use 1/4 cup per load in the final rinse.

1 gallon vinegar
20 drops lavender essential oil

Add the lavender essential oil to the vinegar right in the container and you've got instant fabric softener. Shake well before using. For a large load, add 1 cup during the rinse cycle; use 1/2 cup during the rinse cycle for smaller loads.

Make Your Own Natural Healthy Dryer Sheets:

½ part lavender essential oil
½ part benzoin essential oil (absolute resin)
small dropper bottle
1 scrap of cotton cloth (about 4 inches square)

Make base essential oil by mixing the two oils in equal amounts into a small dropper bottle. Shake well. Label.


Take 10-15 4-inch cloths and put 4-5 drops of essential oil base on each one. Put into an airtight container that you can easily get your hand into to take one out at a time as needed for the dryer.

Use as you would a normal dryer sheet. The airtight container will help hold the scent in the dryer sheets instead of just dissipating out into the room and leaving the dryer sheet less scented. Leave the additional essential oil base that you have left to easily make more are you need them.

15 drops of spearmint
12 drops of lavender

Put this mixture on a clean cloth and then fold the cloth several times.
Wrap another cloth around that and toss into the dryer!  

Make Your Own Natural Healthy Laundry Detergent:

1 ounce liquid castile soap
1 cup washing soda
1 cup baking soda
1 cup white vinegar

Fill washer with water and add each ingredient in the order given. Launder as usual.