Tuesday, February 14, 2017

These are a Few of my Favorite Things

:: Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls
I haven’t followed Money Saving Mom for a few years, but this recipe for Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls makes the absolute best cinnamon rolls ever!  They are light and fluffy (thanks to the egg whites), and easy to make.  You can freeze them, or leave them in the fridge overnight and bake for breakfast.  We had them for Christmas and New Years breakfasts, and now Nolan is requesting them a lot.  One batch used to last for two breakfasts…but not anymore!

:: Prismacolor Pencils
These soft lead pencils are perfect for Bible marking!  I’m not a big “adult coloring book” person, but I have seen these pencils next to those books at Wal-Mart!  I really like the sharpener, which allows me to sharpen without getting such a long pointy tip which will easily break!  The sharpener has two different holes, so you can choose the tip on your pencil.

:: Spearmint Iced Tea
We used to drink Crystal Light peach tea…until we cut aspertame out of our diet.  When we went to Wayland, MO in 2015 on deputation, one of the ladies made fresh spearmint iced tea for VBS each day.  It was delicious!  Even unsweetened!  I don’t have a place to grow my own spearmint like she did, but I have been purchasing spearmint tea bags from the Bulk Herb Store to brew a big pitcher of iced tea every couple of days!  (By the way, 1/2 pound of tea bags goes a looooooong way!)

cq5dam.web.1280.1280:: Hershey Kisses Truffles
Have you seen this version of the kiss in the Valentine’s candy aisle?  It’s a close second favorite, right behind the Christmas Candy Cane Hugs!

:: Carbonite Backup
So, two weeks ago my laptop hard drive crashed.  Yes…with over 26,000 photos, 50+ GB of videos, and a lot of iTunes music.  Honestly, I have just been considering dropping my Carbonite Backup to save the $60 per year.  But this week, I was soooo very thankful I had everything backed up on Carbonite.  It is slow to restore (or you can pay to get your files mailed to you on an external HDD), and it has taken me 10 days to get everything back.  But do you know what I lost in my crashed hard drive?  Not a single file.  Worth the $60 to me now!

:: Panstoria Artisan and Historian
I have converted from paper scrapbooks to Chatbooks (if you use my referral code to start a Chatbook, I get one free and you do too!) and digital scrapbooking.  But I use these two programs for so much more than that!  Of my 26,000 photos, everything is encrypted and double-backed up for security, and I can find a single picture in a few seconds because of tags, dates, and file sorting.  And while I am no graphic artist, I have been able to create subway art pictures for my home, invitations for church and other events, and numerous school activities.  Artisan is very user friendly and easy to learn, and much cheaper than Photoshop!  Both products are available at Forever.com.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Nothing New Here

There’s not much new going on in the Hamilton household.  We are still living in Upstate NY (Orange County, about an hour north of the Bronx) while we wait on our house purchase to be completed.  We DID make a lot of progress on that this week, and now we are just waiting for the seller’s bank to grant an approval for the short sale.  To prepare for moving, we started packing up some of the extra stuff we have accumulated while the rest of our life is in the storage unit. 

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We are still plugging along in school.  I started teaching Elaine piano, though it’s been hard to be faithful in lesson and practice times.  We’re still working on that.  Smile We also enjoyed a field trip to the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan.  It’s one of the museums that is “suggested donation” so it’s more economical for a big family to go.  I made a scavenger hunt booklet for the kids to keep their interest.  It worked up until the end, when the fact that no naps and lots of walking caught up with the twins.

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We have had varying weather, so we enjoyed some snow play and also some warm weather.  We even had a day at the zoo with our friends the Barkers, and we didn’t wear our jackets!  That night, we got over a foot of snow.

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Adelei, Elaine, Nolan, Ethan, Lydia, Henry, Nehemiah, & Liberty

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Henry’s first time sledding…busted his lip up.  Daddy helped make the tunnel and Mommy built the fort.  We have a second fort in our yard, so if you want to hop on over for a snowball fight, we are ready!

My Grandpa turned 91 on February 7th.  We couldn’t be there this year (we had a big family shindig last year for #90), so we send a card that included 91 candles.

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This year we were home to participate in the Happy Hearts Banquet at church!  I was asked to make the favors, which we also used on the tables as part of the decor.  Ben made the wood block stands from scrap wood, and I designed the verse card.  I love doing that kind of thing!  Since we rarely go out alone, and haven’t done anything much for anniversaries or Valentines Day while on deputation, Ben brought be a corsage to wear to the banquet.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Weekend Review

Here are the captures of our week…

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Cursive Lessons began in Handwriting.  She was nervous for a couple of weeks prior to this, and then she just wasn’t happy with her letters so she chose to practice (and reward) on her own time until it “looked like her teacher’s writing.” 

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Snow Day!

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First bug.  Our house is infected with these lady-bug like bugs.

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Marshmallow roasting at Grandpa Fezzie’s while Daddy is out of town.

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Meeting Bart.  Note:  Bart is not exactly friendly since he’s old and set in his ways, especially to inquisitive one year olds.

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Big Boy!

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The Berkshire Museum with Auntie Meredith.  She works here and took us in for free.  The kids had a great time!  (Meredith told them to look like kings and queens.  Liberty is the Queen of Laughs).

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Learning to play chess.

The Stay Up Late Night

Since coming home we have re-instituted the stay up late night.  The twins are old enough for this, and it seems like I get asked a dozen times each day who get to have stay up late night.  This is how it works…

The purpose of SULN (stay-up-late-night) is to allow each kiddo to have some one-on-one time with Mom and/or Dad.  It’s not a big production, or with five kids I would never get it done.  It’s not even supposed to be a really late SULN.  It’s just a little bit of time after the siblings have gone to bed.  Ideally it is 20-30 minutes, which makes it very doable for me.  The child who is having SULN gets to select the activity.  Sometimes we have a special snack too (but we try to avoid liquids because its right before bed).

Some examples of SULN activities:

  • Read several books
  • Play a game (matching, Candy Land, Trouble, etc.)
  • Do a puzzle
  • Build a Lego item
  • Watch silly YouTube clips (we stay away from full length movies though)
  • Color a picture together
  • Make and then eat a special snack – bake cookies, pop popcorn, etc. 

My goal for this year was to do two SULN each week.  But…after the first two weeks I was worn out by the time I got everything finished after church days, and school, and _____.  It sounds wimpy since the SULN is supposed to be short, but they don’t always stay as short as you want, especially if a game is involved.  So now Monday is SULN each week, and each kiddo gets one SULN every month.  We’ll have to find a Plan B when Henry is bigger.

Tips for a successful SULN:

  • Take a nap!
  • Plan your activity or snack ahead of time.  We store our games in the kids’ room, so the desired game needs to be taken out prior to the other kids going to sleep.
  • Play it up – talk about it all day so the child of “honor” is super excited.  It makes the whole thing more special.
  • Take a selfie and post it to Instagram.
  • Try to get all the other kids to bed a smidge earlier than normal.

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Liberty wanted to make hot chocolate and play Star Wars matching.  Nehemiah chose silly dog videos on YouTube and popcorn!