Friday, September 30, 2011


Last week in Wednesday night church George's class was learning about becoming "fishers of men" for Jesus.  The teacher began telling the story, and George raised his hand.

He said, "I know that song."

And began singing, "I will make you fishers of men, fishers of men, fishers of men.
I will make you fishers of men, fishers of men, fishers of men,
I will make you fishers of men, fishers of men, fishers of men . . . "

The teacher said, "Ok, George why don't you end the song for us."

George sang one more chorus of, "I will make you fishers of men, fishers of men, fishers of men,
I will make you fishers of men . . .

And then he finished the song as confindent as can be with . . .

"God Bless the USA."

I guess he got his songs a little mixed up.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Blog and Another Present

How do you like the new look? 
I love, love, love it!  Cindy, over at this blog designed it for me.  She did a great job and was so easy to work with.  If you ever want a new fresh look for a GREAT price, look her up.  you won't be disappointed.

It is Thursday, so I am linking up with Gussy Sews for her "Inspiration Workshop." 
Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop!
This week the theme is "DIY."  I posted this DIY project yesterday, and today I have another one.  It is just DIY week around here:)

Here is what I got my other sister-in-law, Kim (Tim's sister), for her birthday.  I was in the crafty mood on the week of September 19th, so I made her a "Family Rules Board."

I can't take credit for this one either.  I got the idea from here (the link is to the blog, not the actual post because I can't find it anymore).  I changed up her version to make it easier and quicker.  I am all about easy and quick but still looking cute.

The rules in the Bettelli household are as follows:
1.  Obey Your Parents
2.  Keep Your Promises
3.  Encourage Your Siblings
4.  Share Everything
5.  Say Your Prayers . . . Always Thank God For This Family
6.  Use Your Manners
7.  Sing Silly, Dance Crazy
8.  Use Your Hands For Hugging, Not Hitting
9.  Always Say, "I Love You."

I made one for our house, and Kim really liked it.  She asked for one for her birthday, so I obliged.  They are pretty easy to make.  If you want to make one and have questions, you can ask in the comments.  I promise I will answer.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Birthday Present - DIY

Here is what I made my sister-in-law (Whitney) for her birthday. 
I can't take credit because I followed the tutorial here.
It came out really cute.  I think I might make these for George's preschool teachers as a Christmas present.  It was pretty cost effective too, so that always helps.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Happiest Place on Earth

We took a short (not even 48 hours) trip over to Disney this weekend to celebrate Tim's sister's birthday. I didn't get a lot of pictures because we had six kids (between Tim's sister and us) to keep an eye on. I really couldn't concentrate on much else.
We went to Animal Kingdom first and did some fun things that we haven't tried before. George was finally tall enough to ride the Congo River ride, and that was a lot of fun. We got pretty soaked, but it was really hot outside. It felt good.

Since Tim's parents were there, Kim (Tim's sister), Josh (her husband), Tim and I got to ride the roller coaster, Expedition Everest, without the kids. I love that ride, so I was pretty excited to get a chance to ride it. When we go without babysitters it never happens.
After Animal Kingdom we went back and ate dinner and then hit Magic Kingdom. They had "magic hours" from 10pm - 1am for people staying in Disney resorts. We rode about five rides and then decided to call it a night.
We came home to a broken air conditioner at 2 am. You can imagine what today has been like. No fun, but we enjoyed the mini-vacation.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Menu Plan 9/26 - 10/2

Um . . . Does October really start this week??? Craziness, I tell you.

As far as meal plans go this week . . . we don't really have any. Our air conditioner is broken, so we are staying with my parents until we can get a new unit put in our house. It may be a while, so I plan on mooching off of them for food:) I will contribute as much as possible.

I do have a container of Tortellini Soup in my freezer that I planned to take out this week, so I figured I would still give you a recipe in this post. This soup is so easy, so healthy, and so yummy. It doesn't get much better than that.

This tortellini soup was given to us as a meal from a church member when we had Ethan. It was so, so, so good, so I got the recipe. It is meatless, but Tim LOVES it. He never likes meatless, but it is that good. I always make double and freeze half to have on hand for a quick meal. It freezes well. As if you needed more to love about it . . . It is also super healthy. I don't think I have posted many healthy recipes, so here is my redemption.

Tomato & tortellini Soup:

2 garlic cloves, minced (I use the jarred stuff)
1/2 an onion chopped
1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine
3 (14.5 ounce) cans reduced sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 (9 ounce) package refrigerated cheese tortellini (I have used frozen)
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry or fresh spinach (I usually use fresh)
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
Parmesean Cheese

1. In a large saucepan, saute the garlic and onion in butter until tender.
2. Stir in the broth. Bring to a boil.
3. Add tortellini; cook for 5-6 minutes or until tender.
4. Stir in the spinach and tomatoes; heat through.
5. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top if desired. (Believe me, you will desire.)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Salting Roses - Week 2 (Chapters 2 & 3)

Welcome to another installment of our "online book club." We are reading the novel, Salting Roses.

Here is our discussion on chapter 1 if you need to catch up.

I am going to do a pro/con list this week.

I want to start by saying that overall I do think it is a cute story line, but that being said . . .

I have to agree with Laurie from last week that the Southern charm seems a little "off." It is definitely like a person who is not from the South is trying too hard.
I have yet to fall in love with any of the characters. Usually by this point in a book I have taken a serious interest in what happens to at least one of the characters - not true this time. They are all pretty much in the same place.
I can definitely deal with unrealistic plot lines, but someone not wanting 650 million dollars. I mean come on, Gracie, get real.
I am still a little uncomfortable with the fact that her two uncles live together, but one is still married to the lady who lives next door.

I am definitely interested (although I am pretty sure I already know what is going to happen) in the relationship between Gracie and Mr. Fontana.
While completely unrealistic, I do admire Gracie's love for the simple life.
I can see the storyline really picking up speed if they take it a certain way. Not sure they will, but there is definitely potential.
It is an easy read . . . not too much thought needs to be expended while reading it. There is definitely something to be said about mindless reading.
Favorite quote so far is at the end of the third chapter when Gracie begins to tell Harriet about Mr. Fontana. She says, "No. He has a cocky sort of grin that makes me feel . . . " And Harriet answers, "Like a woman?" Isn't that so true . . . You can't help but like a little cocky in your man.

What did you guys think?
And do we want to add another chapter this week? I am going to post about chapters 4, 5 & 6 next Sunday. That is around 30 pages. Let me know in the comments if that is too many. I don't want to drag it on too long, but also want everyone to feel like they have a chance to keep up.
Happy Reading!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Blogging vs. Grad School

Well, you might think that my biggest challenge between blogging and grad school would be time. As in . . . I am having trouble blogging because I have so much work to do for school. If that was your first thought I am sorry to say you are wrong. I actually haven't run into that problem yet. It may happen in the future.

My problem right now is the art of writing.

Blogging has sort of become its own genre of writing. Short, quick sentences flow onto the page. Paragraphs are made up of one to two sentences. Most people center their entire posts. We "put" quotations "around" things that "shouldn't" have them. No one follows common grammar rules because it. is. so. much. more. fun. to. break. the. rules.

You get the picture.

This week I had to write my first actual paper for graduate school. It was a decently long paper on my "philosophy of leadership." So I wrote it. And I thought it was pretty good if I do say so myself.

I asked my husband to read it. At the time I think my motivation was to get someone to tell me what a good job I had done and boost my ego even more.

I got quite the rude awakening. He basically told me it stunk (in so many words). I was a little huffy at first, but being the scholar that he is I decided to listen to his criticism and maybe make a few minor changes. He proceeded to write out an entire outline and tell me to follow it as I rewrote the paper.

Say what?

Again, he is quite the scholar, so I did it. Then I asked him to read it again and pat me on the back like I expected the first time. His exact words were, "This is a good start."

Um, a 6.5 page "start?"

Now, mind you, I am the English teacher in the family, so at this point I was getting a little miffed (to put it mildly).

We proceeded to have a conversation and came to the conclusion that the culprit for my "not so swell" beginning was blogging. I have become the person who spits it out with no boundaries or thought as to the "rules and regulations."

This is not looking good for my graduate degree. Basically every single class I will take majors heavily on writing some sort of research paper or two or three or four.

Blogging, you may be ruining my career as a principal. Good thing I am a stay at home mom.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Our Family Room

The "Inspiration Workshop" this week is Show off your Family Room.

I want to start off by saying that I love, love, love my family room. It doesn't belong in a magazine by any stretch of the imagination, but it is where we spend the majority of our time as a family.

We moved into our now house a little over a year ago. It was a complete mess, which allowed us to get a great deal on it. It is not a big house, but one of its best features is the large size of the family room.

Here is the before:

We (with our amazing, talented, and patient brother and sister-in-law) remodeled the whole house. We still have some minor things to finish, such as painting the molding, touching up paint on the walls, etc.

Here it is in all its glory (aka messiness):
As you can see we put in tile floors, painted the walls, put up crown molding and replaced the baseboards. We also put in new window treatments and casing.

We have a toy corner in the room, which is essential for any family room, right?

Here is the wall that used to have a large mirror on it (the one with the shelves) and our tv wall:

Lastly, I will throw in a few pictures of my Fall decor from the family room:
I usually put candy corn in that clear pumpkin, but I haven't had time to go out and get some.

Well, that about sums up my living room. I love looking at other people's houses, so it was a change to show mine.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Whit, Whit

This is Whitney:

She is my brother's wife. I just adore her. We got to share my house this summer, and we also shared a schedule of no work:)

My kids adore her, as well. That means more than anything to me.

She is just such a good addition to the Tragos clan. We are all a little nutty, and she just takes it in stride. She has a personality much like my husband, which is funny because my brother and I are very much alike. We both picked sweet people to marry, and I am so glad.

On your special day I just want you to know how much we love you. We have only known you for three short years, but we look forward to many, many more. You are great sister in law and an even better friend. I am so glad God brought you into our family, and I can't wait until you and Peter live here. We are going to hang out all. the. time. You are such a special person, and Peter is so lucky to have you. Don't ever let him forget it:)
Love, Love, Love you, Whit, Whit,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


This is my sister-in-law, Kim, with her cute family:

She is Tim's sister and was one of the bridesmaids in my wedding. One of the presents I gave each of my bridesmaids was a poem I wrote just for them. I wanted to post her poem in honor of her birthday yesterday. I will add a few thoughts at the end.

Dear Kim,
Well, I have known you for the shortest amount of time out of all my bridesmaids, but you are the closest one to my soon-to-be husband, so that gives you a special place in my heart. I hope you know how excited I am to be marrying your brother and becoming part of your family. I look forward to many more times spent together. I hope you enjoy this poem written just for you . . .

I met you in Vero for the first time,
You were pregnant and in your prime.
I was glad to have the chance to talk,
We got along pretty well, I thought.

You were there at our engagement in Disney,
So were Goofy, Mickey and Minnie.
Thank you so much for all you did that day,
You helped to make it special in every way.

Tim worked all summer and stayed with you,
I was sad he was gone, oh boohoo.
For letting me stay at your house whenever,
I will be grateful forever and ever.

I loved the shower you threw me down south,
Melting Pot is a great place to stuff your mouth.
You did such a great job with the decorations and games,
I was surprised you kept it so tame.

Your brother loves you lots and lots,
All he knows about women, you taught.
Thank you for all the knowledge you gave,
Without it he would want me only to be his slave.

You have two babies and cute they are,
Good thing you have a big mommy car.
Come and visit us a lot, please,
I want them to know and love Aunt Louise.

No matter what happens I know we will be,
Joined together as family.
I know we will never share the same blood,
But your bother is what has made us buds.

It means a lot to Tim and I,
That you are here to support and cry.
Thank you for helping in so many ways,
We will love you all of our days.

I still feel this way about Kim, but our relationship has really grown over the past almost six years. She has become a true friend to me, not just a sister-in-law. We have a lot in common, and I feel like I can really count on her if I need something. She is such a blessing in my life.

I love you, Kim and can't wait to celebrate your special day with you!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Menu Plan - 9/19 to 9/25

Hi All,
Back to the old menu planning fun.

Before I get into our actual menu I wanted to do a shout out to my two sister-in-laws who share a birthday today. They are two of my favorite people, and they will each get a dedicated post this week, since they are two of the only faithful readers I have:)

We have another busy week lined up with me starting my second class for grad school, so I will be gone two nights instead of one.

Breakfast - Eggs and sausage
Lunch - grilled cheese and strawberries
Dinner - Chicken Parmasean with spaghetti, salad and garlic bread (I have to bring a meal to a sick friend, so I am doubling this meal in order to only cook once for the night)

Breakfast - Pancakes from the freezer (I made a huge batch this weekend and froze a bunch for a quick breakfast on the weekdays. Recipe to follow at the end) and blueberries
Lunch - $1.99 happy meals at McDonalds, need I say more?
Dinner - Hot dogs and macaroni and cheese (mama at school)

Breakfast - Bagels with cream cheese
Lunch - peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips and salsa, veggies with ranch dip
Dinner - @ church, George has Christmas play practice and then Wednesday night church right after that, so they will eat what is served at church while I am at school

Breakfast - Waffles and strawberries
Lunch - cheese, crackers and peaches
Dinner - Chicken Tetrazzini (still haven't gotten to it from the freezer but I am determined this week) and bisquits

Breakfast - Pancakes from the freezer and sausage
Lunch - crackers with hummus and veggies with ranch dip
Dinner - steak, coconut shrimp, egg noodles and broccoli

Saturday -
We are probably going out of town, so meals on the road

Sunday -
Breakfast and lunch on the road.
Dinner - Famous Bettelli spaghetti sauce.

Here is the pancake recipe I made over the weekend. They were pretty standard tasting, but my kids loved them. I also think they froze really well, which is important around here.

2 eggs
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 cups flour, all-purpose or wheat
1/4 cup vegetable oil
5 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. salt
In a bowl, mix ingredients just enough to moisten dry ingredients. Mixture will be thick and lumpy. Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat and lightly grease. Cook on a hot greased griddle. Flip when bubbles break on the surface and the edges begin to dry.
Makes 15-18 medium pancakes.
*I wanted to add that I used a little bit more milk than it called for because the mixture was too thick for my taste.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Salting Roses - Week 1

So . . .
I started salting Roses this week. I only read the first chapter because that is what I said I would do. I think I may up it to two chapters a week, though, because the chapters are shorter than I first thought.

My thoughts:
1. It seems pretty cheesy so far. It was very typical and not terribly grabbing thus far. That may be premature after only one chapter, but usually great books have my attention from the first page . . . just keeping it real.
2. I do like the country charm I am sensing so far.
3. I also like the dysfunction of the family Gracie is a part of. They seem like they have a lot of character and dysfunction which always makes for entertainment in a book.

What did you think? Anyone?

I will be reading chapters 2 & 3 this week, so stick with me. Hopefully it will get better and better:)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Snapshot without a picture

Here is a snapshot into my life from our dinner table tonight (Don't be jealous):

* Tim is working late, so George and I sit down to dinner.
* Ethan already ate, but of course he is being his begger self and whining at my feet for food.
* I give in and begin feeding him rice off my fork between bites in my own mouth just to keep him quiet.
* George sees the book Seven Silly Eaters on our dining room table, so he asks me to read it.
* How can I say no to that sweet face and one of my favorite books, so I proceed to read in animated voices.
* To sum it up . . . I am simultaneously eating my food, feeding Ethan, and reading a book.
* And Heaven forbid I should go more than 5 seconds without giving Ethan a bite or reading a sentence. I would really be in for it then.

Motherhood at its finest, if I do say so myself:)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Favorite Shop???

This week's "inspiration workshop" prompt was your favorite shop.

Say what? This one kind of stumped me because although I would love to say I shop in "shops," the only places I get to shop at are the grocery store and Target on a good day.

We don't really live in an area with a lot of "shops." The ones we do have are terribly expensive. Maybe one day I could peek my head in them, but for now I will stay out to resist temptation.

I have heard of these cute cupcake shops in big cities like New York or Chicago. That is one type of "shop" I would LOVE to visit. I found this picture on pinterest, and it makes me drool.
That's all for today, folks. Now I need to go find a cupcake to eat.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Have you ever . . .

Have you ever thought about the things that actually define you? I can't say that I have ever put serious thought into it until recently.

You see, there are certain things that I thought would always define me or be a part of me, but they ended up going away for one reason or another. It doesn't mean I can't ever get them back, but for right now there are no traces of them in my life. It is very odd to think back on different seasons and wonder what I would have told someone defined me at the time. It would have been so different from what is right now.

For example, I thought the word, "teacher," would always define me. I am definitely teaching my two young boys both indirectly and directly, but they would never call me "teacher" or "Mrs. Bettelli." Really at this stage of my life as a stay at home mom, teacher does not define me. It is a part of my past and maybe my future. That is all.

I also thought "student" was a word that would be kept in my past, but I find it becoming a part of my definition again. Going back to graduate school has become a part of my life. I really never thought it would happen, but God orchestrated everything just right. I now believe "student" defines me once again.

I guess my point is that we don't always know what will define us in life. I hope that certain roles or titles will always be a part of me, such as: mother, wife, friend. Then there are others that I know will change. People who meet me in the future may never know I used to be "teacher" or "student" or "you fill in the blank."

It really has shown me that what you do is not who you are. God created you to achieve different things in different seasons of life. When you are really enjoying a season, then savor each second because I can assure you it will change. If you are really having a hard time or struggling thorugh a season, then know it won't be around forever. Both are comforting to me. I usually find myself loving and hating different things about different seasons.

So, what defines you right now?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Menu Plan 9/12 - 9/18

Menu Plan Monday will be Tuesday this week:). 9/11 knocked me off schedule.

We have a busy week this week (so what's new), and our schedule is weird. My class has been changed to Monday this week, so I had to plan around that as well as church on Wednesday night among other things.

Here goes nothing . . .
Breakfast - Bagels and chocolate milk
Lunch - snacky lunch of cheese, crackers, apples, and peaches
Dinner - Leftover ravioli and salad (from Sunday night's dinner)

Tuesday: I have to bring a meal to a family from church who just had a baby, so I am just making it for us too. The Chicken Divan recipe will be at the end of this post
Breakfast - Eggs with cheese, sausage, orange juice
Lunch - $1.99 happy meals, Don't judge, I am keeping it real
Dinner - Chicken Divan

Breakfast - waffles with real syrup, milk
Lunch - grilled cheese and tomato soup
Dinner - pizza or something else super quick because George has Christmas play practice for an hour before church, and then church from 6:45 to 8. Always a crazy night:)

Breakfast - Bagels with cream cheese, chocolate milk
Lunch - Mac and cheese, peaches
Dinner - Pork Chops, broccoli, twice baked potatoes

Breakfast - pancakes, bacon, milk
Lunch - peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, apple slices, cheez its
Dinner - Coconut shrimp (frozen), rice and corn

Breakfast - cinnamon rolls, milk
Lunch - Maybe on our way to Orlando to celebrate Aunt Kim's birthday, so probably pick something up on the road.
Dinner - Leftovers or out. Mama has the night off:)

Breakfast - eggs with cheese, hashbrowns, orange juice
Lunch - out after church
Dinner - Pasta with Tim's special sauce, garlic bread, ceasar salad

Chicken Divan Recipe
*It isn't the healthiest, but it sure is tasty. Great comfort food for recovering mommies who just had babies.

2 to 3 chicken breasts (cooked and chopped)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 large bag of broccoli florets
1/2 cup of mayo
1 tablespoon of lemon juice (I usually put more like 3 or 4 tablespoons)
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

1. Cook and chop chicken (I usually bake it with some seasoned salt on it for 30 minutes on 350 degrees)
2. Take out a 9 x 13 pan (I use glass, but I am sure it would work with tin). Coat pan with Pam.
3. Put broccoli in the bottom. Put chicken on top of broccoli.
4. Mix both soups, mayo and lemon juice. Pour on top of chicken.
5. Sprinkle cheese on top of entire casserole.
6. Put in 350 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes until cheese is melted and just beginning to brown.

Monday, September 12, 2011

One Thousand Gifts, Chapter 11 & Afterword + New Book Club Read

I finally finished One Thousand Gifts, and as an overall analysis I would say I really enjoyed it. I did not enjoy every word, and I wouldn't say it was one of the best books I ever read. I would say that her ideas were extremely eye-opening, and I will continue to think about this book for a long while.

On to chapter 11 . . .
On page 203 Ann says, "It is impossible to give thanks and simultaneouly feel fear. This is the anti-anxiety medicine I try to lay in my wide-open palm everyday." In this chapter Ann talks about a trip she took to Paris to visit a friend. She went sans kids and husband, so it was a very big deal. She was anxious to say the least, and she brings it all back to this idea of thanksgiving in everything and in every circumstance. It is a very comforting and doable idea.

The rest of the chapter got a little "different." It was not my favorite part of the book, so I will just leave it at that. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a way to combat anxiety and find joy in all circumstances.

The list continues . . .
91. Visit from the in-laws
92. Organizing my garage (the finished product)
93. Getting rid of unused toys
94. New shelf for toys
95. Sick baby cuddles
96. Date night (our first in months and months)
97. Free movie thanks to vouchers
98. Hot water
99. Looking at old pictures
100. A pay raise in my tutoring job

Now, on to the book club idea. I wanted to pick a book to review or chat about every week. I thought the best way to go about it would be to read a chapter a week. I know that isn't much, but it gives people time to jump in whenever they want. We could bump it up to two chapters a week if it seems to be too slow. I will just feel it out as we go.

The first book I want to read is Salting Roses. It is about a girl who finds out at 25 years old that she was kidnapped. I have heard really good things about it.

In order to do a proper review I am not reading any of these books before we read them together on here. I don't know if I will like them or not, so you will get my honest opinion:)

Each week please comment on the things I write, so we can have a sort of discussion board like a real book club. I will be writing about chapter 1 next week, so you have between now and Sunday, 9/18 to get the book and read chapter one. We will have our "book club" on Sundays. I had to put this up on Monday this week because of 9/11, but we will be back on schedule for 9/18. Talk to you then:)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you?

My pastor asked a few people at church to read their story of "where were you?" on 9/11. I was one of the "chosen," so I thought I would post my story in rememberance of this tragic day in our country's history.

I was in college at the time at Florida State University, living in my sorority house. I remember walking down the stairs to get breakfast and hearing silence. In a house with almost 100 girls living there, this was extremely unusual. I went into the dining room, and they had pulled our big screen tv into the dining room. I sat down at one of the tables in complete shock as I read the words scrolling across the screen. New York City was under attack. Our country was being targeted. I had two thoughts at that moment - Is this real? And I hope my parents didn't get on the plane this morning.

My mom and dad were scheduled to fly out to Chicago that morning. They didn't fly out because their flight got canceled as did most others that day, but I didn't know that at the time. I knew Chicago could have been a target as a major US city, and my first action was to call them to make sure they weren't going. No one knew the severity of the attack at first, so my dad was still planning on flying out. I remember begging them not to go. Just stay grounded for the time being. My top priority was my family.

As the day wore on I watched the second tower get hit, and heard about all the subsequent attacks to the Pentagon and so on. Classes were canceled throughout campus, and we were all stuck in front of the tv. Not much talking was going on. Everyone was engrossed in their own thoughts.

I remember it being a day of "reality." I lived in a pretty good, non-realistic bubble at the time. I had the freedom of living "on my own," but still had someone paying my bills, making my meals, and so on. It was the best of both worlds, as some would say. On September 11th, I definitely saw that my bubble was just that. Reality was what was going on out there. I knew to count my blessings and pray for all those who lost loved ones on that momentous day. I took time out to pray for all those who didn’t know the Lord. I prayed this would bring them to Him. He is the only way to find comfort in times of turmoil. That was my reality check, and something I hope to never forget.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Favorites - 9/8/11

I haven't done a "Friday Favorites" post in a while, so I thought I would share this week.

Here is what I am loving:
1. Favorite Fall Decoration:
via Pinterest

I haven't started decorating for Fall quite yet (unlike some of those other crazy people I have seen on the internet lately:). In Florida we are lucky to get in the 80's before Thanksgiving. I usually begin the decorations around October 1st. I also don't decorate for Halloween specifically. I just use all Fall decorations, so I can leave them out through Thanksgiving until I put up the Christmas ones. I love the way this picture captures the warm and cozy feelings of Fall. I will have to keep it mind when I break out the bins I have waiting for me in the garage.

2. Favorite Quote of the week:
via Pinterest

Have you seen "The Help?" I read the book, and I usually never like movies as much as books. I do have to say that this movie was excellent. I really, really enjoyed it. Although I am an English teacher and do have to admit the complete incorrectness of this quote, the message is beautiful. This maid wanted this little girl to feel like she could do anything. Don't we all need someone to tell us this truth?

3. Favorite Moment of the week:
No picture, but my baby has been sick this week. I don't like that at all, but I do like the cuddles. He never sits on my lap for more than 2 seconds usually. All this week he has just laid with me and cuddled for minutes at a time:) Pure bliss!

That is what I am liking this week.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Books That Inspire

Today's "inspiration workshop" was all about books.

It couldn't get much better than this for me. I am an avid reader. My husband cals me a book worm (in the most loving way possible, of course). I. Love. To. Read. anything and everything.

I want to share some of my favorite books, but I also want to tell you why they are favorites. We all have our reasons for picking favorites, and here are mine.

1. My most favorite book of all time: Redeeming Love by Francince Rivers.
You could say my husband and I fell in love over this book. We both read it, and it really was the factor that brought us into a deep conversation. It was this conversation that made me wonder if I could love this boy who read a Christian romance novel (although it is so much more than that). I have read this book multiple times, and given away copies to almost everyone I know or at least care about. It is a must read . . . even if you aren't a "reader." Read it and give me your opinion then:)

2. My most favorite book that I taught as an Enlgish teacher: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I taught this book to ninth grade students, and it was a blast. Our final project for the book was a reenactment of the trial scene in the book. I actually took my class to a real courtroom to watch a trial in action. My dad is a lawyer, so I have always had a soft spot in my heart for books with anything law related. The kids loved it, and I still hear them talking about it whenever their ninth grade experience comes up. It makes my heart soar to know that I made that impact on them. It is any teacher's dream come true.

3. My most favorite children's book: I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa Mccourt and Cyd Moore
This is the cutest book about unconditional love for your children. If you have children and don't have this book, do yourself and the little one a favor and get it. It is a good investment. I loved, loved, loved reading it to George when he was a baby, and it is still one of the ones he picks out most frequently before bedtime. Ethan seems to be liking it as well. It has really cute pictures and a funny storyline that both kids and adults love.

Well, that is my list. I would love to hear yours. Also, don't forget about the book club starting in two weeks. I will be "announcing" the book we will be reading this Sunday, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away . . .

Tuesday was a long day. I had intended to do a "day in the life" post. I really enjoy reading those posts from other bloggers, so I want to get more in the habit of posting our life. It isn't all that exciting, but it is busy. I also like having the record of it for years to come.

Back to business . . . I woke up intending to do that kind of post. Then I noticed it was pouring down rain, which means we would only be going out for the have tos instead of all the want tos. That would be even more boring, so I am going to save "a day in the life of the Bettelli family" for another day.

Today I am just going to talk about rain. Gone are the days when I could stay in bed all day if it was raining. I had to get up by seven because my hubby had to leave even earlier than usual for work.

Gone are the days when I could stay inside all day when it rains. I had to take the four year old to school and pick him up. (They probably wouldn't appreciate me leaving him there all day). I also had to take my baby to the doctor for an appointment.

Gone are the days when I could sit on the couch and watch movies all day in the rain. I had to watch Elmo and Mickey's Three Muskateers all day, so my babies would not go stir crazy in the house.

Gone are the days when I could do whatever I wanted because I have these two little guys I have to devote all my time to, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Birthday Wreath Tutorial

I have one more tutorial from Ethan's birthday party. I made a wreath out of balloons that were not blown up. I originally saw the idea on Pinterest, so I copied it:) I think it turned out pretty cute.

It was very simple to put together. I just bought around 300 balloons - 7 or 8 multi-packs from the Dollar Tree, and greening pins from Michael's. I had a wreath from a thrift store that I never used. You can get them from any craft store. I used the kind that looks like it is made out of straw but has a plastic wrap on the outside. Leave the plastic wrap on for this project.

All you do is put a balloon in the greening pin and stick the pin to the wreath. I just placed them randomly all over the front side of the wreath, and it seemed to work pretty well.

I also decoupaged a wooden number 1 with Elmo wrapping paper, and then attached it to the wreath with red ribbon. I was happy with the result. We hung it on the front door for the party. I also like the idea that I will be able to use the wreath for all our birthday parties from here on out. (I will change out the number, of course.)

Again, I hope these pictures helped you to understand the process. This is a fun project that will get a lot of use in our household.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Menu Plan 9/5 - 9/11

It's Menu Plan Monday - Don't get too excited:)

Labor Day today, so no work for the Hubby/Daddy. Yay!

I am going to try to do better about planning out breakfast and lunch each day. I want to see if this will help me feel more organized. Tim usually feeds the boys breakfast, but he will have to leave for work early for the next month. I guess I will be on duty, so I want to feel like I have a plan.

Breakfast - Cinnamon Rolls and chocolate milk
Lunch - Subs at the beach (surfing the waves from the tropical storm)
Dinner - Family coming over for Eggplant Parmasan and Pasta with the special Bettelli sauce, ceasar salad

Breakfast - Eggs and Bacon
Lunch - Peanut Butter and Jelly, cheez-its, and grapes
Dinner - Chicken Tetrazzini and Bisquits (never got to this last week)

Breakfast - waffles and milk
Lunch - Grilled cheese, tomato soup, and peaches
Dinner - Pizza (church night)

Breakfast - Pancakes and milk
Lunch - Leftover chicken tetrazzini
Dinner - grilled chicken breasts, egg noodles with burned butter, and broccoli

Breakfast - Cereal
Lunch - Macaroni and cheese, grapes
Dinner - Steak on the grill, coconut shrimp, rice, salad

Breakfast - Eggs and Bacon
Lunch - whatever leftovers we have in the fridge from this week
Dinner - hopefully date night for Tim and I (his parents will be in town to watch the kids)

Breakfast - Waffles and chocolate milk
Lunch - out after church
Dinner - Pasta with the special Bettelli sauce

I don't have any new recipes for this week, so I thought I would give a few more tips on how I choose my menu each week. The first thing I do before even beginning to plan is check our schedule and check our refridgerator and freezer. I want to make sure to use what we have on hand, and I need to make sure I have time for whatever I want to make each day according to our schedule.

Once I have done that I go online to look at Publix's (our grocery store in the area) weekly ad. It gives me the prices of everything on sale. I try to pick out what I will need to buy by the pricing. I like me some sales:)

Lastly, I try to change our meats out throughout the week. I don't want to be eating chicken everyday, no matter how cheap it is. We would get bored, and I don't think that is healthy.

Those are pretty much my "rules" when it comes to planning. I try to keep it simple, but I also want us all to enjoy our meals. After almost six years of marriage I think this is one area that I succeed at most of the time. I definitely would not say "all" the time, but it has gotten to be almost second nature at this point. It did take a while though, so don't be discouraged if you are new to meal planning.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - Chapter 10

As we wind down on this book, I want to reiterate the fact that I have really bought into this idea of giving thanks for every blessing. That is the way to have true joy. I believe this is the one thing Ann would want us to take away from her book.

If you missed my reflections on all the previous chapters, go on over to the side bar and click on "books" or "faith." I have done a reflection on each chapter that I would love for you to read.

I am thinking about doing some sort of book study on Sundays from here on out. If anyone wants to join me I would love it! They won't always be Christian books. I love fiction too, so we can read anything and everything. I believe I have two more chapters in this book, and then I will pick a new one that you can read along side me. Doesn't that sound like fun?

Ok. Now on to Chapter 10. I really liked this chapter. It was all about passing on the blessing to others. She talked a lot about the way Jesus (even in his toughest times) always blessed others. The night before he was crucified He washed His disciples' feet. He was going through so much, but He chose to bless them instead of thinking of Himself. I want that outlook.

On page 193, she has two quotes that really stuck out to me. "That thanks-giving might literally become thanks-living." I love that concept. I want my life to reflect thanks at all times. She goes on to say, "My heart can enter into communion anywhere and anywhere my hands can enact the Eucharist." I can be giving thanks in any situation, and my hands can be acting on that thanks in any situation. What a concept? A concept I totally want to adopt in my own life.

Again, this idea of pouring out blessings on others is not a new one. Jesus was our model. We need to be like Him. I want to bless others. I know it always makes me more thankful.

The list goes on . . .
81. Labor Day - no work for daddy
82. First day of school for the big boy
83. Swimming play date
84. A baby who doesn't cry when dunked underwater
85. Grandparents who love to keep kids overnight:)
86. Reading a good book
87. The library
88. A husband who helps around the house
89. A husband who looks good in a suit
90. Waking up to a back rub

Friday, September 2, 2011

VPK- Big Boy School

George started VPK on Wednesday. (If you are reading this and you don't live in Florida, that stands for "Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten.")

He now goes to school five days a week from 9 am to 12:15 pm. They have an attendance policy and everything, since the program is paid for by the state.

I went to a parents' meeting on the first day, and I was sitting in the chair just thinking about how fast the time has gone.

I remember so many little things about his four short years on this earth. He will always be the one who made me a mom. He will always be the one who used to play with my hair every single night before bed. He will always be the one who laid in bed with me to watch Backyardigans every. single. morning. for his first year. He will always be the one who I used to sit with and cuddle while his father was in law school three nights a week.

I am so proud of him and really want him to be independent, but at the same time I want to shelter him from anything that hurts his feelings. I love that he loves to learn, but I want him to always need me to tell him things. I love that he has so many friends at school, but I want to always be his best friend.

I am not niave enough to think that these dependences will always be true, but I am so glad God gives us baby steps to help with the process of letting go. I always said that I would never be that mom that makes her kids feel guilty for growing up. I truly want my kids to be able to thrive in their environment, and I know God only places them in our care for a season. Eventually they have to grow up, make decisions on their own, and be their own person.

It is such a difficult dichotomy to explain. I truly want to give my kids all the tools they need to thrive in whatever stage of life they are in. I never want to hold them back from all the wonderful plans God has for their life. At the same time I am in awe of how fast the time goes. I feel like I am going to be sending them off to college in the blink of an eye.

Four and a half years ago I gave birth to this beautiful little boy who is now in a real school program and is flourishing in his environment. I couldn't be prouder, but I am still feeling like he shouldn't be old enough. Wasn't he just in my arms, swaddled in his baby blanket on our way home from the hospital? Wasn't he just getting his diaper changed? Wasn't he just saying his first words, taking his first steps?

I guess he was, and I was there for all of that. I get to be there for all these memories that make up his life. I get to watch him grow. I get to send him off on all his first days of school. What a priviledge I have as his mother. I want to always see these moments as part of the whole that will become him.

George, I love watching you grow. I don't like letting you go, but I am so thankful for the time we have. I am going to focus on all these memories that will never leave me. May all your first days of school hold this much excitement and exhilaration, my boy. My firstborn.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Vintage - Inspiration Workshop

This is week #6 for me in the Inspiration Workshop sponsored by "Gussy Sews." I am enjoying the prompts each week, and this week was no exception.

This week's prompt was vintage. I thought about this word for a while before I got my inspiration. I finally remembered some perfect vintage pictures I have of my maternal grandmother.

Isn't she perfectly vintage?

She recently passed away, and it has been extremely hard on our family.

Her name was Louise, and I was named after her. We always had that special connection. Everyone always commented on how much we were alike. It is so funny the way that worked out. We were both outgoing people who loved to talk and talk and talk.

She was absolutely hilarious and loved by all who knew her.

She embodied beauty until the day she died. She always cared about what she looked like, no matter how old she got. It gave me so much inspiration to watch her put on make-up and do her hair.

She was such a great grandmother, and I dedicate this vintage post to her. Vintage is so popular right now, and I think she embodied everything people love about that word. She was beautiful, fun, her own person, brave, and proud.

Here's to you, grandma! You are surely missed!