Friday, July 31, 2009

Frugal Friday

Why is this very cute picture of my kids under a post entitled Frugal Friday? Because I had a coupon for Picture People for a free package. I did end up paying $5 because I decided to splurge and pay for an enhancement on my 8x10 because I never do that. Aren't they cute?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The places we go

Almost every Tuesday morning we have been heading off to story hour at the local library. It is a morning I often cherish because I get to sit in the library for a half an hour and read a magazine or a book and no one is asking me questions. Then after my time of peace and quiet I get to go in a room and make help make 4 crafts which is always stressful loads of fun. This past week was the last week of the summer reading program, which we missed because of VBS but we headed to the library in the afternoon to claim our lame awesome prizes like a little straw that you blow into and a ball goes up in the air and a little miniature game of tic tac toe and snap bracelets. I mean, who doesn't want those items. The week before we did get some coupons for a free McFlurry at McDonalds that I might share with the kids, since I am actually the one who read those stinkin' books.

This week Wednesday ended Tball. Brad is happy, the kids are not. Joshua already asked if he can play next year. They were rewarded with a certificate (Yeah! another piece of paper!) and a Popsicle. They ended with a parent/child game and even Isaac got to participate.

As I mentioned, we also had VBS this week. The kids LOVED it! Joshua cried this morning because it was the last day. And if you are wondering why it is only Thursday and it is the last day, yes, we only did 4 days. I had the privilege of being in charge of food which last year was a pretty easy job but this year we decided to do a luncheon at the end with the program. So, I was running my little butt off and was very tired this afternoon. And if you remember this post about my dear Joshua and how much he loves programs I have some great news to announce. My boy stood up there with no hands over his face or his ears and he sang! I am so proud of him! I wish I had pictures but for some reason they were not turning out. I did tell him that he couldn't have a goody bag unless he sang good, but a little bribery never hurt anyone. Isaac was a few weeks shy of being old enough, so he was able to stay at Aunt Nikki's and play with his cousin Eddison while we were gone, except for donut day he decided to join us.

They also made this cute life jackets today and wore them during the program. These 3 decided it would be fun to ride their bikes in them today but by the time I got my camera out they were off the bikes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

May or May Not

I may or may not have been at CVS a few weeks ago checking out when my youngest son may or may not have been running around the store with my other 3 children chasing him and trying to tackle him to drag him back to me. There may or may not have been 5 people behind me in line watching the whole ordeal.

I may or may not have recently told my oldest daughter that we are not the Rockefellers when she tried to throw almost a whole thing of Dora yogurt in the garbage. She may or may not have given me the strangest look because hey, don't most 5 year olds know who the Rockefellers are?

I may or may not have tried to put my 4 kids on the down escalator at the mall last week and after 2 got on they may or may not have freaked out and tried to run back up. I may or may not have finally gotten them off and declared that we will just use the elevator instead.

My oldest daughter may or may not have done a sneeze/fart in the middle of church and the rest of our family and the two rows in front of us may or may not have been doing the silent church giggle for about 5 minutes while this daughter may or may not have acted like nothing happened.

You may or may not hear "There is no charge for awesomeness!" said around our house a lot if you come over. And I may or may not blame my husband for this.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Multitude Monday

The continuation of the Thousand Gifts I am thankful to God for.

33~ a picnic at the park

34~ riding the carousel with my girls

35~ swimming with the kids for the first time in our pool

36~ an ice cream cone on a hot day

37~ a Saturday home with my husband

38~ projects getting done

39~ freshly baked chocolate chip cookies

40~ a day to rest and worship God

41~ sisters

42~ contagious giggles

43~ sound of kids playing hide and seek

44~ spell check

45~ healthy kids

For more on starting your own list of a thousand gifts visit

Friday, July 24, 2009

Taking Time Out to Play

It's so easy to get caught up in my day to day activities that I don't take time out to really just spend time with my kids. I think it's kind of carried over from when they were little and it was so hard to take them all somewhere so we just stayed home. Now they are older and it's easier to go, I just need to remember that. This whole summer seems to be busy but the last couple weeks things slowed down a little. Yesterday, I decided to forgo the things on my list that don't really need to be done right now anyway and pack a lunch and take the kids the park. After all, it's been a cool summer so I might as well take advantage of being able to go to the park in the middle of July without sweating buckets. I had visions of us having this great picnic lunch and we were all talking and laughing and having a great time but of course when we got there they ate their lunch as fast as they could so they could go play on the toys. My sister Nikki and her two boys joined us since the park is half a block from her house.

Then this morning my husband called me at about 8:30 and said he wanted to go to the Porter County Fair and if we got there before 1:00 we didn't have to pay to get in. A man after my own heart, he hears a deal and he jumps on it! Well, if you know me at all, you know that I'm more of a planner and not really a spontaneous person. But I embraced this because it was something fun we could do as a family and I could put off my 'to do list' another day! So off we went to spend a fortune on food and rides.

Unfortunately, the animals weren't really there yet only rabbits and dogs. We at corn dogs, saw Rusty the Railcat, got our hands painted (because they don't want it on their face, they can't see it), ate ice cream, went on rides and watched the pig races.

It was a fun day and I am extremely exhausted. Can't wait for tomorrow when I get to do all the things I have put off the last couple days like grocery shopping, laundry, ironing and who knows what else.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cheap Entertainment

Are your kids bored? Haul out their picture books from when they were babies. Kept my kids busy for an hour yesterday and then another hour this morning.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Multitude Monday

19 ~ a hot shower

20~ toothpaste

21 ~ smell of home made pizza baking in the oven

22 ~ cool nights

23 ~ a compliment from my son

24 ~ lists

25 ~ family UNO games

26 ~ cuddling in bed with my boys at the end of the day

27 ~ reading books with Isaac while everyone else is still sleeping

28 ~ a random 'I love you' from Amanda

29 ~ dishes cleaned and put away

30 ~ seeing my fence go up around my yard

31 ~ my pool is no longer a disgusting shade of green

32 ~ a clean house (at least for a little while)

I started my list of 1000 gifts last week and this a continuation. Feel free to join in at a holy experience or just grab a piece of scrap paper and start your list.

"giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" Ephesians 6:20

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Week in Review

Brad is at the Sox game, the kids are having their afternoon relaxing time of a couple cartoons and so that means I get to nap read a book fold laundry blog.

The week started out with a Monday evening Railcats game along with Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles and cousins. The kids know exactly what baseball games are for -- food! Everyone had a lot of fun and the highlight was getting to give Rusty and Rascal (the Railcats mascot) a high five and doing the chicken dance. Except for I think the adults were the only ones actually doing it while the kids watched.

On Wednesday we spent the day at Pine Lake again with Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles and cousins. This time we were minus Dad but in addition we had the Michigan aunt, uncle and cousins.

We did some tubing.

Some eating.

Some boating.

And had some fun playing in the water.

Yesterday, Amanda went and got her first haircut that wasn't done by mom. We all headed over to Great Clips because I had a coupon. Of course, I forgot the coupon but talked the girl into giving me the coupon price because it was either that or she didn't get a tip because I only had so much money with me.

In other news, I think the pool might actually be up and running soon after having to purchase a few new parts and a broken filter pump. Then onto the fence, patio and deck. Hopefully we'll be finished by the end of the summer to enjoy it a couple times. And I just finished cleaning the camper. It only took me 2 months. Now I have a long list of things we need to shop for to fill the camper with.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pizza and Brownies

Two years ago I decided that I wanted to try and make the perfect homemade pizza because it's 1- cheaper and 2- less greasy. Okay, so I don't really care that much about less greasy it's just cheaper. I started out pretty good but it just seemed to get worse so I took a little break. A few months ago I decided to try it out again. Yeast can be a tricky thing and I guess I just have better luck with it when it gets warmer out because it rises better. Last week I found a recipe on another blog for pizza crust so I decided to try it out. I loved it! It seemed to be easier to work with and it tasted delicious! So, if you are like me and want to make some great homemade pizza here is the recipe. Enjoy!

I personally think I make the best brownies thanks to this great recipe from Hershey's. As you can see, Alex loves licking the batter! The link I've provided is for a 9x9 pan but just double everything and you have my 9x13 recipe. The 2 sticks of margarine mixed with 2 cups of sugar at the beginning of the recipe remind me how healthy unhealthy they are but then I add 4 eggs. That makes them healthy, right? They cook evenly, no more burnt edges while your center is gooey. If you like a brownie that is more like a cake this is great, if you like them more gooey I love to just take my chocolate syrup and swirl it over the top of the bowl and mix it in. I love to get creative adding stuff to my brownies and we also love to make brownie sundaes with them. For our church picnic I put this topping on and people were raving about them. I even had someone tell me they didn't really like brownies but these were fantastic!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One Thousand Gifts

It was about 15 months ago when I found my first blog that I started to follow but it wasn't until about 6 months ago that I really started following more of them. They have become a source of entertainment for me but also a great source of encouragement in my life. I have been encouraged to memorize scripture, start a Women's Bible Study, pray Bible verses over my children, and be more faithful in my devotional life.

Last week I posted about a blog that I have been enjoying and Monday morning I opened it up again and found her post about Multitude Monday and here she explains more about how it started. I have started making a list before of things that I am thankful for but through Ann's blog I have once again been encouraged to make another one. Over time I hope to make a list of 1000 gifts. The last few days I have been jotting some of them down and will share some of them.

1 ~ Grace (the most important thing)

2~ children's smiles

3 ~ children's hugs

4 ~ blogs

5 ~ laughter

6 ~ calculators

7 ~ my wash machine

8 ~ music that speaks to me

9 ~ the smell of the dryer as I walk out the back door

10 ~ napping kids

11 ~ my husband

12 ~ coupons

13 ~ $ to take care of our needs

14 ~ my bed

15 ~ lazy days at the beach

16 ~ ice cream

17 ~ coffee

18 ~ air conditioning in my car

Tuesday night I asked each of the kids to tell me something that they were thankful for.

Alex - trees

Joshua - songs

Amanda - a beautiful day and a nap

Isaac - that he could go to the Railcats game on Monday

Friday, July 10, 2009

Frugal Friday and Randomvis

Sorry but this post is going to be all over. First of all, many that know me know that I am frugal. I shop sales, rarely buying something that isn't on sale. I clip coupons. I have a budget of about $75 a week for groceries. I can even entertain and stay pretty close to that amount. Yes, we give up a few luxuries with that budget but we don't starve and I think we eat pretty good. From time to time I will be sharing a few things with you.

My friend Jessica turned me on to Mango salsa a couple years ago at our book club. The reason I'm posting it under frugal is because I subsitute a few things to make it a little cheaper. Her recipe has mango, shallot, red pepper, cilantro, a dash of cayenne pepper and squeeze a lime over it all. I substitute green pepper for red pepper because it is almost half the price. We love red onion and I often have it in the house, so I substitute that for the shallot. You can get these chips for pretty cheap at Aldi. This is one of my favorite summertime snacks, it's healthy and cheap. Now my only problem is what to do with all the extra cilantro. Does anyone have any ideas? What do you add cilantro to? Do you have a good way to store it so it keeps for awhile?

Now my next frugal tip is........milk. Did you know that CVS has 2% milk for $1.99? That is their everyday price. If you have a CVS card, after you buy 5 gallons you get a free one. So, everytime I'm in there I grab a gallon of milk. The free one can be any kind. So this week when I went to get my free gallon I grabbed a skim milk because that is what Brad and I drink. It is $2.49, but I still got it free. It even went towards my quantity for my next free milk. How exciting is that!


Ok, enough frugal stuff and on to Randomvis.

Not sure if you all watch tv or not. I don't really watch too much but I recently found this show called "Raising Sextuplets" on the WE Channel and it's on Thurday evenings. They have 20 month old sextuplets and I'm not sure why but watching someone else's kids run all over while they chase them or watching someone else's kid poop in the tub is quite entertaining to me. Just thought I'd share in case anyone wants a good, clean (besides the poop thing) show to watch.


Today, we ran a few errands and when we were done I decided to stop at the park for about a half an hour before heading home for lunch. According to my kids this makes me "the best mom ever!" They are easy to please! So, I'm sorry if you all thought you were the best moms ever but I now have that title.


When you have a pool but it is not ready to swim in yet, it is best to send your parents subtle hints that you want to go swimming.


And lastly, not sure if you've all notice that I have links to some of my favorite blogs on the lefthand side. I do change them sometimes as I find out about new blogs. I usually try to follow them for a little while to see if I like them and want to promote them. I tend to put ones there that are an encouragment to me as a mom, wife and a Christian. This blog I haven't added to my page yet but really enjoyed her post today. She also has such calming music on her page. I've also just started reading this blog recently and have been really enjoying her posts.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Where did the time go?

It's so hard to believe that 5 years ago I gave birth to 3 babies and today those 3 little miracles are 5! It has flown by so fast! I have actually not been looking forward to this day. To be honest, I just loved 4. It was my favorite age with them and am sad to see it go. Last night in preparation for this post I was looking through some picture books and it reminded me how cute they were when they were little but also reminded me of how much work they were and that it is great how independent they are now.

No more night time feedings. And, yes, Joshua is wearing the same thing here that Alex is wearing here.

Bath time is a lot easier.

Clean up after supper takes a little less time.

They don't need me to hold them in the pool.

They don't need us to help them go on the swings.

They smile when you take their picture.

And no more searching for pacifiers!


Regardless of the stage they have been in their life and how much or little work they are we love them and are thankful to God for them!

Happy 5th Birthday Alexandra, Amanda and Joshua!

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Today we celebrate America's birthday but more importantly our family celebrates Brad's Birthday. He celebrates 36 years today! That number looks even bigger to me than it sounds. He was 22 when we started dating, how on earth is he now 36?

He had to start off the day working for a little while but then this afternoon we enjoyed the Munster parade in the rain because the Vis family will do anything for some FREE candy! Now we just need to find a free dentist. I would also like to thank the church that decided that it was a good idea to give out whistles to promote their upcoming VBS. I might just send them there now armed with their whistles and ready to blow all week long!

We grilled some burgers for supper and of course topped them with bacon and cheese. What goes good with hamburgers? French fries of course and what do you top them with? Bacon and Cheese! Bacon always makes a good thing better, and the cheese? Well, that is dairy and we like to make sure we are getting our calcium. I think all this bacon has made Brad's birthday the best birthday ever! Have I mentioned before that we like bacon? I actually saw a shirt that says, "Bacon makes everything better." Now those are words to live by. Now where was I, oh yeah, Brad's birthday. For dessert we enjoyed some Coldstone cupcakes. After all those calories I'm thinking we better not eat next week.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Three Years Ago

It's hard to believe that it was 3 years ago today that my mom walked into my house for the last time. She entered our house with these 2 pairs of crocs for Alex and Amanda. She had been looking all over for ones small enough to fit their little feet. Finally, she had found some and stopped by to check if they would fit them. My mom loved to shop. She would often go to some sort of store everyday whether it be a grocery store, Target or Kohls. She would usually find some little thing that was on clearance cheap for one of the grand kids or something for her gift closet or maybe it was just a sale at one of the local grocery stores. I believe that my house was the last stop before going home that day, making these shoes her last purchase. Alex still wears these shoes daily and I don't think I will ever be able to part with these shoes. This day was the last real conversation I had with my Mom. She went home that day and had a stroke a few hours later.The next day, Fourth of July, I did visit her in the hospital and talked with her one last time. But she was really tired, so I did most of the talking. In this post I really just want to share some memories of mom and feel free to add any memories you have of her in the comment section.

This picture was taken in March 2006 at Lucas' 1st birthday party and she is pictured here with Amanda.

My mom was a woman that truly taught me what it is to be selfless. She was always serving her family and was always humble about it. Sure she was taken advantage sometimes because of this but she was rarely vocal about it. And isn't that how Christ calls us to act.

She gave of her time also, volunteering to do hot lunch at the grade school even though her kids had been out of there for a long time. She also volunteered at Village Woods in the coffee shop. She loved visiting with the old people and it also gave her a chance to find a lot of little trinkets in the gift shop.

I always saw my mom as a person that didn't let life get her down. If something bad happened she picked herself up and moved on. She always looked at the positive in her life. I think a lot of that came from facing death when she had cancer. I'm sure she got down about things but she never really let us see it.

Your mom is always the one who makes you feel special on your birthday and my mom was no different. For my 10th birthday she planned a sleepover for all the girls in my class. For my 16th birthday she brought balloons to school and hung them on my locker. For my 21st birthday she came to my work and took me out to lunch. On my 30th birthday she put a lovely sign in my yard saying "Honk, Melissa is 30!" Plus she came and watched the kids so Brad could take me out to lunch and when I was being difficult about leaving the kids with a sitter for me to go to the party that I didn't know my husband and sisters were planning for me, she offered to stay and watch the kids for me and skip my party.

My mom loved to cook, loved to garden (vegetables and flowers), loved onions, loved spending time with her grand kids. When I was in the hospital on bed rest she came to see me almost everyday because she didn't want me to be left alone. When I was not able to get out and do my yard work, she would stop over and weed my yard in the 90 degree heat. Once my kids were born she was a huge support for me and would stop over almost everyday even if it was just for a few minutes.

Once I had my own kids I had a deeper appreciation of all the sacrifices my mom made for us. She was truly a woman you could say was beautiful on the inside. I just wish I would have been more vocal to her about these things.

Three years ago, I not only lost my mom, I lost one of my best friends. I'm so thankful that God gave me 30+ years with her and isn't that more than a lot of people get? She was around for so many important things in my life and was a great influence on who I am today. I still miss her but know that I will see her again in the place we all long to be, the only place where all are tears will be wiped away.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Last November I received a jury duty notice, didn't think much about it and just put it on the calendar. I was to go the Monday of Thanksgiving week. Since I feel strongly that this is an honor and a privilege, I felt a little guilty that week when I went hoping that it would be short because after all, I had a holiday to prepare for. When I got there I realized that this was a notice for a Federal Grand Jury. We were shown a short video explaining exactly what we do and then shortly thereafter went to a courtroom where they randomly selected 23 people and then some alternates. For those of you who do not know exactly what a Federal Grand Jury is, I'll give you a little explanation of exactly what we do. We meet once a month for anywhere from 1 to 3 days and we hear a variety of cases ranging from Environmental cases, drug cases, immigration, firearms, and pretty much anything you can think of. Some cases we are asked immediately to Indict and other cases are ongoing that we hear from a few witnesses each month as they try to investigate whether or not there was any criminal activity. Not only is this a Grand Jury but I have been selected to be on a "Special" Grand Jury. Meaning they could extend my 18 month term for up to an additional 18 months. Isn't that special! I have now served 8 months of 18 month term. Only 10 months to go, not that I'm counting or anything.

I get such a variety of responses from people when I tell them I am on this. Some just kind of wondering what it is but a lot of people asking me if I could get out of this since I have 4 kids. Unfortunately to get out of it I would probably have to move out of the district. I do enjoy it and believe that if we want to have our judicial system work we need to be willing to be a part of it. No.... it's not always easy to ask around for people to watch my kids but it could be worse. At least the kids are at an easier age to send them off to people's houses and they aren't in school yet so I don't have to arrange for people to pick them up or bring them places. Anyone reading this that has watched the kids, please know that I truly appreciate it and you are also playing a part in our judicial system also. I also strongly believe that God has placed me on this jury for a reason and I often leave wondering what that reason is.

I really wish I could tell you all more information about these cases but unfortunately I can't. That is one of the more difficult things about it. There is one case in particular that for some weird reason I enjoy hearing, but it wears me out and puts such a heavy burden on my heart. Every month I leave and I wonder what God wants me to do with this information, why does He have me here? I truly wish I could explain this better and I am sorry if this sounds kind of like I'm rambling on but maybe someday I will be able to share more. I think about my past and as a teenager how easily influenced I was and that I could have easily fallen into the traps that other people have fallen into and still could. I am no better than any of these people. I am a sinner! Their sin is no worse than my sin. It has humbled me. I will often come home and think about some of these people and want to help them but I know that the only way to truly help them is to tell them about Jesus Christ. Maybe that is the reason God wants me there, to be more aware of the world around me and to be making more of an effort to be sharing the gospel. Sometimes I think we look at the world as hopeless and people that we shouldn't associate with but isn't that the opposite of what Jesus did. He went to the sinners and the hopeless and gave them hope!

I am truly thankful for Grace and Jesus Christ! I ask that you all keep me in your prayers as I continue in this, as I listen to some of these difficult testimonies. That I may also hear God's calling in this and have the courage to do whatever He calls me to do with all of this knowledge.

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—" Ephesians 2:1-5