Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Making Baby Food

Yes, you read that title correctly... I am on baby number 3 and I have decided to make my own baby food. Why, you may ask, am I doing this after feeding two children store bought baby food? The answer my friends is simple: money. Yes, I am making my own baby food in an effort to save money. It is something my sister and I talked about a month or so ago and then I read on my friend Courtney's blog about an amazing machine she had to make baby food called the Babycook. I watched an online tutorial about the babycook (I did not buy it from William Sonoma, just watched the video there- I found it cheaper elsewhere online!) and I was convinced. I told Jack that if I was going to do this with three kids to take care of, it needed to be an easy process- not something that took hours each week. The Babycook seemed to be the answer to my desires for something easy- a machine that did everything- steam, puree, defrost and reheat. So, thanks to my wonderful in-laws I had Christmas money to spend and I chose to by a Babycook. It arrived last week and today was my first attempt at making babyfood. I gotta say, it was very fun and very easy.

I decided to make pears. Two reasons why- Pears were the first baby food I gave Caleb and Noah and also pears were on sale this week at Publix. I bought 4 pears for $1.66. I peeled the pears and chopped them.

Then I placed the chopped pears into the steaming basket. I put the measured amount of water into the babycook and placed the full steaming basket into the bowl.
 

Then I locked the bowl into place on the babycook and turned the knob to steam.

It took about 10 minutes for the pears to steam. When the light turned off on the babycook, I removed the bowl and steaming basket. Then I poured the steamed pears out of the steaming basket back into the bowl (saving a bit of the water) where the puree blade was already attached.

I locked the lid on and the bowl onto the babycook, and turned the knob towards puree.

 
It only took about 7 seconds to puree the pears to the right consistency. 

Then I scooped the pear puree into ice trays and put them in the freezer for several hours.

 
Finally, I removed the frozen pear purees and put them into freezer bags so that I can reuse the ice cube trays for more babyfood.

Now I just need to defrost and reheat individual pear purees for Josiah to eat! I was able to make the equivalent of almost 11 stage 1 jars of babyfood for only $1.66! I am in love with the babycook! I can't wait to buy more produce and make more food! And tomorrow, Josiah gets to try his first homemade pears. To be continued.....
 


Monday, January 25, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Ok, I am back into the saddle of bargain shopping and couponing! I took a little break when I was super huge pregnant and then after Josiah was born I needed to figure out life with three kids. I have been doing the couponing with my groceries for a few months now, and last week I started back in full force!! Here are the deals I got this week- (disclaimer: I am still a rookie at this and do not save as much as a lot of bloggers out there, but I am still proud of my wheeling and dealing!):


CVS Trip:
Total before sales and coupons: $17.93
Total Out of Pocket: $1.95 :)
And I got $5 in Extra Care Bucks back to use next time!




Publix Trip:
Total before sales and coupons: $113.76
Total Out of Pocket: $68.68
Total Savings: $45.08

So all together I got $131.69 in products for $70.63, which is just right for my $70 a week grocery budget for our family of 5, and I saved $61.06!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Josiah's well visit and a photo shoot



Today we went to the pediatrician for Josiah's 4 month well check. Of course, next week he will be 5 months old, so we are a bit behind. So, really this was a 5 month check! When the nurse charted his height and weight she did it at 5 months. He is looking great. He weighs 17 lbs 3 oz. (75%) and was 26 1/2 inches long (75%). He is the lightest of the three- Caleb was 19 lbs and Noah 18 lbs. 14 oz. at 4 months- but he is the longest of the three! The doctor was very impressed with his neck and leg strength. He hasn't rolled over yet, but I realized the other day that the reason he hasn't is that he is never down in the floor! He is always in some kind of contraption- the exersaucer, the bouncy seat, the bumbo seat- because laying him on the floor with his wild monkey brothers running around is potentially deadly! :) So Monday I started giving him more time on the floor on his back and tummy and he is already rolling up to his side. I am not sure how he's doing it but he is turning himself in circles while he lays in his floor gym. I will lay him there and when I check on him after a few minutes his has turned a whole 180 degrees around! And Josiah is always happy. He smiles at everyone. What a precious kid! And now, just for fun, here are all three boys at 4-5 months old.



I love living in the south. It is January and the temps are in the low 60's. We have enjoyed playing outside quite a lot in the past few days and I am loving it! Yesterday during one of our outside playtimes, I got our awesome camera and had a mini photo shoot. Again, let me reiterate that I have no idea what I am doing- I know nothing about photography, camera shots and angles, lighting, ISO, aperture- I just focus this amazing camera and take like 200 shots. And out of those 200, somehow I get some great pictures. Here are some of my favorite from yesterday.  


 
 
 



 
I love this one!





 
Gosh, I could just eat him up!



Caleb is the best big brother. I love his expression in this one!





 
Another great one! I love that I caught them smiling at each other!














Noah is by far the most photogenic in our family!
 


I think it's kinda cool how everything is out of focus except his face




Saturday, January 16, 2010

Our 2 year old

Two years ago tomorrow, January 17, Noah Jackson Blankenship was born. My how time has flown by. Our lives were forever changed for the better by the birth of this sweet boy. Noah is an absolute joy in our lives. He is funny and silly. He smiles all the time. Noah loves to cuddle and he likes to play with my hair and twirl it around his fingers. He adores his big brother and follows him everywhere and does whatever he does. In the past few weeks his vocabulary has exploded! He is talking up a storm in his sweet two year old way- short, choppy sentences- and it is adorable! The Bible tells us that children are a blessing from God- actually it says they are a reward from Him. I don't know what we did to deserve such a sweet reward, but we are forever grateful! Thank you, Lord, for our precious Noah! Happy Birthday monkey!


January 17, 2008- Noah Jackson Blankenship



Two years ago- look how much they both have changed!



 3 months old



5 months old



8 months old



1 year old



17 months old



18 months old



21 months old




23 months old




We made cupcakes for his birthday today! Yummy!



Trying to blow out his candle! Happy Birthday Noah Bear!


Haiti

I have been so heartbroken watching the tragedy unfold this week after the earthquake in Haiti. Haiti is a place that is very dear to me. I've traveled to Haiti 5 times on mission trips and it has changed my life. I have worked in Ft. Liberte, Haiti, a small town in the northeast. We work alongside one of the most godly men I've ever had the privilege of knowing, Pastor Andre Jean. He is an incredibly intelligent man with a doctorate in theology who could leave Haiti and teach here in the U.S. but who chooses to stay in Haiti to minister to the great needs there, both spiritual and physical. His church, Jerusalem Baptist Church, and an American organization the Friends of Ft. Liberte run the clinic, orphanage, old folks home, school, and child sponsorship program that we have worked with. It was in Haiti that I felt God's call on my life to work with children. It was in Haiti that I witnessed faith unlike any I had seen before that challenged me to live a life of faith. It was in Haiti that God burdened my heart for missions. And so this week as I saw the devastation there, I have been broken, deeply broken.

I was very thankful to learn that everyone in the town of Fort Liberte, Haiti was not harmed in the earthquake. However, they have not been unaffected. We have had blog updates from Pastor Andre that many in Fort Liberte have lost family in Port-au-Prince and that refugees have begun arriving in Ft. Liberte needing food, shelter and medical attention. Many are former residents of Ft. Liberte who had move to PAP or people who have family in Ft. Liberte. The church has also lost at least 15 members who were in PAP at the time of the earthquake.

If you, like me, are moved by what you see but you don't know how to help let me tell you that we have chosen to give to Friends of Ft. Liberte for Earthquake Relief. This is the organization we have worked with for over 10 years now- I trust them, I know them. Every single penny given will go to Pastor Andre. He is there. He knows the needs. He is a well-known, well respected man all over the country and he knows pastors and churches in Port-au-Prince who are in dire need of help- he will get our money to them. If you are interested in giving go to http://www.haitifriends.com and click the donate button. If you are interested in keeping up with Andre's updates, the blog address is http://haitifriends.tumblr.com/

Here are some pics from my last trip to Haiti in 2002.


Jack and Pastor Andre



Some of the boys at the orphanage. Many have since become adults. Junior (third from the left on the back row in the red shirt) is now in medical school in the Dominican Republic and plans to return to Ft. Liberte when he finishes school to run the clinic full time. He is also keeping us updated via his facebook.



Two more precious orphans- Deuigrand and Emmanuel



Some of the girls



Jack with Ariel and our sponsored child, Tchi-Tchi at the orphanage

Snow Day

So, last week it snowed here. We've had a very busy week so I am just now getting around to blogging about it! It was just a dusting, but fun for the boys nonetheless. Unfortunately, it was also bitterly cold. I'm talking highs only in the low 20's with the windchill making it feel like it was only in the single digits. In fact, Saturday morning at 8:30 the windchill was -1 degrees!! Unheard of for Atlanta, Georgia! So because of the extreme temperatures we didn't spend a lot of time outside playing, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to play in the snow! We bundled the boys in three layers and headed out for about 30 minutes. The snow was too powdery for a snowman, but we made snow angels, went down the slide on the playset, played baseball and even went sledding down the backyard hill using cookie sheets! Here are some pics from our snow time fun:


Caleb all bundled up for the cold!



Noah all bundled up!



Caleb makes a snow angel



Noah's turn!



Baseball in the snow



Daddy and Noah sledding on the cookie sheet! 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Introducing "The Garage"

Five years ago, God brought us to Ewing Road Baptist Church. Shortly thereafter plans were made to build a student space. At the time, the student ministry met in a small room off of the fellowship hall which we outgrew quickly. We moved out of the room into the fellowship hall, but there was one problem- the fellowship hall was used for Wednesday night dinners which lasted right up until our Wednesday night worship began. We spent a year frantically clearing away tables and setting up chairs every Wednesday nights. Meanwhile, the building team drew up plans for a building. The church voted and approved the plans. A building campaign took place and $89,000 was raised in 8 weeks. Everyone was pumped, especially the students. But no one was ready for Cobb County. Unfortunately we were unaware the Cobb County Georgia is one of the hardest places for a church to build or expand. The county would not approve our plans until we did $1 million in site work including planting trees, building a parking lot and a sidewalk down the entire length of our church property. This cost more than the building would! Needless to say, we moved onto Plan B- an addition onto our current church building. Additions don't need site plans. But more and more road blocks, the dissolution of one building team, the creation of a new one, different opinions about what should be in this addition and more meant that Plans B, C, and D all were created and fell through. By this time the original date that the first building was supposed to be finished had long since passed and we didn't even have a drawing done.

Fast forward- it is now 4 years later, we are still meeting in the fellowship hall and plans for the building are at a complete standstill. Enter an angel or more like a man on a mission from God- Jack Griffin. Jack is works for a commercial construction company and became involved with our students when my Jack asked him to be a crew chief for a World Changers trip. After that trip Jack was committed to our student ministry and joined us every Wednesday night. Last August, Jack joined us as we took some of our student leaders off to a day long vistion retreat. Afterwards he and my Jack stood in the parking lot of the church. Jack Griffin pointed to the church's three car garage and said, "We're gonna convert that garage into student space." And that was that. Jack Griffin was on a mission, one I believe that God placed in his heart. He started planning, talking, working, convincing, until last May the current building team presented to the church plans to renovate the garage into student space. Eight months later here we are!

After lots of hard work, most of it single handedly done by the Jacks, The Garage is finished. It looks amazing- there is a worship area with a new projector mounted to the open ceiling, a new screen, a stage and room for 100 students to worship. There is a hang out area with a bar, flat panel TV with a Wii, a coke and snack machine, a fooseball table, and ping pong table. The colors are great and the design is really cool (thanks to my amazing Jack). And last night 64 of us got o enjoy the grand opening.

God is faithful and good. It is so exciting to have our own space for the student ministry. We are praying God uses it for His glory and that lives are changed for Him inside the walls of this building.

And now without further ado, pictures (if you click on them you can see them even larger and in more detail)!!


A view of the hang out area from the stage. The text mural I painted is on the back wall. It is Daniel 3:16-18, the basis for the name of our ministry- Fireproof Student Ministry.



Another view from the stage


The worship area


Facing the stage


The hang out area with bar, TV, fooseball and ping pong


The Garage- Jack and I also painted the stripes. And isn't the red wall cool?


Check out the cool bar stools and vending machines.