Happy Birthday to Me… And YOU!!! (GIVEAWAY)

verse cardsYesterday I turned 32.

32, y’all.  I can feel my biological clock ticking something fierce.  The other day it took me like 3 full minutes to get out of the position I was sitting in on the floor.  What in the world?  I thought that stuff wasn’t supposed to happen until I was in my eighties?

To celebrate my birthday, I shared on Facebook that the hubs and I went to lunch and we ate an entire pizza in honor of the metabolism I feel is slowing down with every passing day.

Today I am fasting and eating a steak and piece of tomato for dinner – advice from my pastor’s wife. :-)

Just kidding.  I HAVE to eat with this job I’m in.  If I get hungry (which inevitably leads to tiredness and distractedness) while chasing 12 two-year-olds around, they have the power to TAKE ME DOWN.

I was thinking recently how much I love you, dear readers, and how thankful I am that you consider the Fairy something worth visiting.  My heart is always that I would encourage you, make you laugh a little, and point you to Jesus.

And often, YOU are the ones who end up doing that very mission for ME.  Especially when you take the time to comment.

I mentioned HERE that I was going to try to respond to every person that commented on this blog and I did 100% awesome for about 2 weeks.  Then it all kind of fell apart and I went back to not replying because I am an all or nothing kind of gal.

But I still read EVERY SINGLE comment and they never fail to bless me.  My stomach even does a little flippy feeling whenever I see that someone has left a comment on a post.

My friends, Polly and Rachel from one of my favorite sites – Thriving Home – sent me an email the other day offering a fabulous giveaway for y’all!  Do you remember my New Mommy Survival Kit and the beautiful Scripture cards I included?

verse cards 2Well, those cards came from Polly and Rachel and they wanted to make sure that MORE mommies got this precious gift of Truth in their hands, so they are allowing me the opportunity to giveaway 6 sets of cards to 6 different Happy Home Fairy friends!

I decided that for my birthday I wanted to bless my top 5 best/most frequent commenters, so if your name is listed here, check your inbox because I will be sending you an email with all the info you need to download your FREE GIFT printable from Thriving Home and me! :-)

  1. Debbie W.

  2. Francis

  3. Sabrina

  4. Barb I.

  5. Liz L.

Congratulations and thank you, ladies, for always taking the time to uplift me with your thoughts.  I {{heart}} you!

Now, there is still ONE MORE printable encouraging Bible verses for Moms card pack to giveaway…

If you want it, then leave a comment below with your name and email!

And check out this verse from one of the cards…

verse cards 3

It is the LORD who sustains – not an entire pizza.  NOTE TO SELF.

Happy Birthday to me and YOU! :-)

**This giveaway is open to ANYONE!  The giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Saturday, January 31 (EST).  A winner will be selected shortly after and notified by e-mail.**

11 Ways to Celebrate Winter in Florida

I grew up in New Jersey and we used to get so much snow this time of year.  My brothers and I would take an old sled that didn’t have the steel runners and climb to the top of our backyard playground slide and literally fly down and across the snow like an Olympian bobsled team.

Now that I am a Florida girl, I can honestly say that I don’t think I could ever move back up north and have to wear all. those. layers.

Although, my hair would be absolutely THRILLED to go back to an environment that doesn’t make it grow like a Chia pet every time I walk out the door.

With that said, I still feel like I am missing out on something this time of year.  So I try to recreate the magic for my tanned, shorts-wearing kids.
things to do in florida during the winterHappy Celebrate Winter in South Florida-ing! :-)

Locked Out

happy babyOn Wednesday last week the hubs told me that I didn’t need to be at worship team rehearsal that night, so I canceled the babysitter and then made plans to hit the treadmill the second we got home.

I threw on some workout clothes, got the boys settled outside playing, and then climbed on to the treadmill that we keep on our screened-in back porch.

Now before y’all go thinking that I lead some sort of dream life that allows me to exercise on occasion – hear this: About every 1/4 of a mile Happy Baby or Happy Buddy would have some kind of an emergency that required me to stop mid-run, turn the treadmill off, and help them with something.  Important things like stopping to search for a toy microphone for 20 minutes because someone could absolutely not carry on without it.  Or stopping to get everyone a snack.  Or stopping to help someone out of a shoe they had put on that was 4 sizes to small.

Such is life with littles, yes?  We can’t ever seem to complete a task without some kind of interruption.  How easy my life will be in 20 years when I can go on the treadmill by myself!  Of course, by then I will probably not be interested in going on a treadmill because my knees will have been replaced 6 times.

Anyway, after the 300th interruption I may or may not have shouted, “MOMMY’S GOING ON THE TREADMILL NOW AND I AM NOT GETTING OFF AGAIN FOR ANYTHING!”

Happy Buddy jogged back out to the yard where he was playing a football game with himself and Happy Baby was inside still looking for the elusive microphone.

I had made it a record 1/2 mile when I looked over to see Happy Baby push the sliding glass door separating the inside of our house from the patio closed.

Then I heard a little click.

Happy Baby had locked us out.

AWESOME.

Did I mention that I had left my phone inside on the kitchen counter?

Happy Buddy was in hysterics almost instantly upon figuring out what had happened.

He is not dramatic at all.

And that’s when I realized that I would not be breaking a sweat that afternoon, but rather breaking into my house.

In my calmest voice I spoke through the glass to my 2 year old.

“Honey, we need you to open the door.”

“Sweetheart, push the lock up.”

“C’mon, that’s it!  Push the lock UP!  UP!  UP!”

One would think that if he could lock it, then of course he could unlock it.

Hahahahahaha.

With every passing minute I rollercoastered back and forth between laughing about the situation, to wanting to cry, to feeling calm and collected, to about to have a panic attack.

Meanwhile Happy Baby was inside the house doing his best to follow my directions and encouragement, but when his efforts proved futile, would turn around and fall head first into the couch cushions in dispair.  Then he would push himself up, start walking around the house (completely ignoring my pleas for help), and pick up random toys off the floor to play with.

At one point he even asked me if he could play with the iPad.

That’s when Happy Buddy began weeping and crying, “I’M NEVER GOING TO SLEEP IN MY BED AGAIN!”

We walked in this circle of emotions for about 25 minutes before I decided that the only thing left to do was go to our next door neighbor’s house and ask to borrow their phone to call my husband (who was at work 35 minutes away and who was about to start a rehearsal).

Did I mention that none of my workout pants were clean so I had grabbed a pair of hoochie mama pajama shorts to wear while I exercised because I figured that under no circumstances would anyone be seeing me that evening?? (Go HERE for my thoughts on modesty.)

So I pulled at my shorts until at least my booty cheeks weren’t showing and I embarrassingly headed over to the people who live next door.

When I got hold of a phone I called the hubs who informed that we had a spare key in a box attached to the outside wall (hope!), but when I went to find it, discovered that when we had our house painted over the summer, the painters had painted the box shut.

AWESOME.

That’s when my neighbor’s husband arrived with some sort of crow bar thing that he was able to use to pull the door open and I almost fell over with relief.

(And in case you are a creeper thinking about robbing us, we have since retrieved the key and purchased a home security system.  BAM.)

After all that I decided that I did not have the mental capacity to make an actual meal, so I made scrambled eggs and didn’t even bother to include a vegetable because I was done.

DONE.

Once everyone was in bed and I was able to remember what my name was, I looked onto the patio where the unfinished workout stared at me and with a weary sigh decided that the whole event caused me so much stress that I probably burned enough calories to never need to exercise ever again for the rest of my life.

Motherhood.

Why didn’t they warn us about these kind of events in What to Expect When Expecting?

I’m guessing because we would all choose the celibate life that includes uninterrupted treadmill time and hoochie mama shorts without dumps.

Nah, that sounds too boring.

– Julie :-)

Why I’m Glad My Kids Don’t Obey

Why I'm Glad My Kids Don't Obey... beautiful.A few weeks ago the boys asked if they could go on the playground after church.

I was less than excited about the idea because after a morning of early worship team rehearsal, 2 services, fellowship, and a giant bagel, I am ready to go home and start what you’re supposed to be doing on Sunday (which, as my children do not seem to comprehend, is rest).

But I did it anyway because I love my kids and love to bless them.

(And because my one word is Jesus and I thought it would be appropriate to once again die to myself and lay down my immediate desire to put on sweatpants and crawl into bed.)

After about 15 minutes, I gave the smart-parenting 5 minutes left announcement and even reminded the boys how they needed to leave the playground quickly and happily when it was time to go.

Fast forward 5 minutes and Happy Baby is hiding up at the top of the playground structure because he doesn’t want to go home and Happy Buddy is weeping hysterically because our leaving was going to interrupt his progress on mastering the monkey bars.

Did I mention that there were lots of other people on the playground?

Did I mention that the hubs is a pastor at our church and therefore I sometimes feel this unwritten expectation that I need to have my ‘stuff’ together?  Stuff being that my children should listen and obey me?

Ahhhh, no.  I had to climb up the playground equipment to pry off a tantrum-throwing toddler’s fingers from the death grip he had on the bars (only to discover after climbing back down that he had also taken his shoes off in protest and left them at the top).  Then Happy Buddy, who is given to unrecoverable fits of emotion, was sobbing and ranting about how he never even made it to the swings.

And then he tripped and fell.

The innocent bystanders were probably wondering if my children needed therapy.

What’s funny is I was thinking that I needed therapy.

As I wrangled my emotionally turbulent crew into their carseats, I may have been a touch angry.

My pride had been hurt.  I had been embarrassed by the circus act that was our departure.  I was mad that my boys chose to throw fits instead of be grateful as I had CLEARLY sacrificed a lot so that they could have a good time.

Tight lipped and upset I jammed the keys into the ignition and started the 35 minute drive home.

The boys were now quiet in the backseat and I knew they could sense the tension.

After about 5 minutes, I could hear Happy Buddy sniffling.  Then he quietly spoke into the silence, “Mommy, I’m so sorry for throwing a fit at the park.”

Then Happy Baby echoing softy, “Saw-wee, Mommy.”

The wounds I was nursing and the anger I was seething melted away and I thought what truer words than those written in Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath.”

And as we verbally forgave one another and declared, “It is finished,” I was struck by something.

I was glad that my kids weren’t perfect.

Because if they were perfect then they wouldn’t learn to respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

If they were perfect then they wouldn’t learn repentance.

If they were perfect then they wouldn’t have opportunities to experience love through forgiveness.

If they were perfect then I might be tempted to pridefully think that their obedience was because of something I was doing right as their mama.

If they were perfect then we all wouldn’t learn to depend so wholeheartedly on our blessed Savior.

So next time your child is kicking and screaming on the ground in Target or running around the sanctuary after church like a wild man, instead of saying, “He’s not mine,” thank God for another opportunity to point your little ones to the wonderfully redeeming work of Christ.

– Julie :-)

“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.  You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Psalm 51:17

Managing Your Child’s Screen Time

Managing your child's screen time - this is an important article with a really easy way to help your child be responsible with technology.The screen on my iPhone had been shaking for a couple of months and it got to the point where I couldn’t even call or text anyone anymore, so I finally put on my big girl pants and headed out to the Apple store.

Let me begin by saying that I have an enormous dislike for how fast our world is progressing in the way of technology.  Just when I figure something out, they go and put out a new thing that is bigger and better and faster and more expensive and I have this unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach that I just. can’t. keep. up.

I left the Apple store ready to have a drink – and I do not even like alcohol.

I may or may not have muttered to myself on the drive home that I was not meant to live in this century.

The 1950’s sound good to me.  You know, milk delivered to your doorstep.  Poodle skirts.  Frank Sinatra.  The simple life.

All this to say that my 5 year old son understands today’s technology better than me.

In fact, we were at the supermarket several years ago and I couldn’t figure out how to turn the volume up on my phone and he snatched the thing out of my hand and said, “Let me take care of this, Mommy.”

He was 3, people.

This year on Black Friday my dad scored an incredible deal on an Android tablet and asked if he and my mom could give it to Happy Buddy as a Christmas gift.

The hubs and I figured that this day would come eventually, so we agreed – albeit a little reluctantly.  I know my boy and while I love seeing his pleasure and natural skill with a tablet, I also see how quickly his little heart gets a little too wrapped up in it all, so I knew we needed to come up with a plan on how to monitor his use of such an attractive, addictive thing.

**All the inspiration for this idea comes from sweet Ness of One Perfect Day.**

managing your child's screen time 1managing your child's screen time 2managing your child's screen time 3managing your child's screen time 4We decided an hour a day of screen time would be allowed.  This might vary from family to family.  In fact, hubs and I were just talking about maybe cutting it down to 30 minutes now that Happy Buddy is back in school.

He has little cards in 10 minute increments to help him keep track of his time.  He starts with the 6 10-minute cards every day and can turn them in based on a few conditions –

  • He has to ask Mommy or Daddy before using the tablet.
  • Chores must be completed before using.
  • No more than 30 minutes of screen time in any one sitting.
  • If 20 or more minutes of screen time takes place, then there must be a break of at least 1 hour before next screen time.
  • Unused screen time does not carry over into the next day.

So far the system is working well.  Some days he uses all 6 cards (like on the days I try to hoof it on the treadmill while Happy Baby is napping), some days he uses only 1 or 2.

I like this system because it allows Happy Buddy the freedom to work independently and responsibly within the limits we, as the parents, have set.

I also have the right as the mama to take the iPad away whenever I see that he is becoming too attached, too distracted, too consumed…  I think it’s good for our children to experience a ‘fasting’ from something they really enjoy.  It sets them up for a future of healthy choices and an awareness of idolatry.  This is also something I practice in my own life.

We need to be engaged with our children and technology.  We need to teach them how to be wise and discerning with these things that are so much apart of the age we live in -whether we like being in the 21st century or not.

Because instead of poodle skirts we’ve got Angry Birds.

And no amount of margaritas is going to change that.managing your child's screen time 5

– Julie :-)

Squishy Snowman In a Bag

squishy snowman in a bag activity at happyhomefairy - great for building those fine motor skills!

This adorable Squishy Snowman in a Bag is perfect for helping your kids develop the muscles in their hands.

If you want to get technical and sound super smart, tell all your Facebook friends that you are doing a craft to assist in the strengthening of your child’s “fine motor skills.”

What you will need -

squishy snowman 1

  • Shaving Cream
  • Sandwich-sized Ziploc bag
  • Glitter (optional, although I am a FIRM believer that glitter is ALWAYS an option)
  • Black adhesive craft foam and regular orange craft foam (got mine at Walmart)

Here’s how to put your squishy snowman together – squishy snowman 2squishy snowman 3squishy snowman 4squishy snowman 5squishy snowman 6squishy snowman 7squishy snowman 8

  • Cut out several circles (for mouth and eyes) from the black adhesive foam and a carrot-shaped nose from the orange foam.
  • Attach eyes and mouth to the front of the bag.
  • Put an {{exorbitant}} amount of glitter in the bag.
  • Add a few squirts of shaving cream.
  • Add the carrot nose.
  • Seal bag tightly.  **REALLY tightly.**
  • SQUISH.
  • Try to line the nose up correctly on the snowman’s face.

Pretty quick to make and super cute!  The kids will probably be interested in it for about a total of 3 minutes, but still something fun to do if it’s negative 30 degrees in your neck of the woods and you’re stuck inside.

Then again, if it’s that cold where you are, your child’s fine motor skills are probably frozen and you should just sell your house and move to South Florida with me.

Happy Squishy Snowman-ing! :-)

Recipe – Favorite Baked Macaroni and Cheese

favorite baked macaroni and cheese at happy home fairy - yum!

Well, I apologize if your one word for the New Year is ‘HEALTHY’ because this recipe is going to cause a conflict of interest in that endeavor.

I have shared about the hubs’ passion for homemade mac and cheese a couple of times before.  His mom made it from scratch when he was growing up so I knew that if our marriage was going to last that I would be wise to learn the art of making this dish myself.

If you have ever made a boxed macaroni and cheese, you will find that this recipe is a bit more labor intensive, but the flavor and payoff and the letting out of your pants will be worth it.

Favorite Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients -

  • 8 oz package elbow noodles
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 T flour
  • 1/8 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups (plus extra) shredded cheddar cheese (for optimum taste, I buy the blocks of cheese and freshly shred it myself – makes a BIG difference)

Directions -

  • Cook pasta for 9 minutes.  Drain, cover, and set aside.
  • In medium saucepan, melt butter.  Blend in flour, mustard, salt, and pepper.
  • Cook until mixture is smooth and bubbly; gradually add milk.
  • Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils; simmer 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Gradually mix in cheese.  Stir over low heat until cheese is melted.
  • Add pasta; mix together lightly.  Pour into a 2-quart casserole.
  • Sprinkle top with more shredded cheddar.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (we like to bake it until the top browns nicely).

Winter comfort food at its best.

Happy Homemade Mac and Cheese-ing! :-)