10/31/11

I survived my first football season

We did it.  Our first year as parents of a football player is over.  Three 2-hour practices a week plus one game are over.  Making my son come home from school and immediately do his homework so he can eat and rush off to football is no longer necessary.  The breakneck pace of homework, dinner and running out the door at 5:30 has finally come to an end.  This mommy is so relieved.

Today is the first day of this freedom.  Homework will be done.  Dinner will be made.  But now, I get the bonus of spending time with my kiddos.  We get to enjoy our dinner as a family.  We no longer have to shovel our faces full of food and then divide and go in separate directions for the night (usually boys go to football and girls do something else).  I am really looking forward to tonight.  I am looking forward to enjoying our meal together.

By the end of the season, my son was enjoying football.  I can say I am truly happy about that, for his sake. Honestly, I'd still rather he play a sport that is less time consuming but I do want him to be happy.   Tonight I want to celebrate.  Being home together for the whole evening is something that I wont be taking for granted.   I am so ready for our lives to slow down again.  Tonight, I am going to look around the table and listen to what my family has to share.  I am going to smile as we eat and then clean up.  I plan on enjoying each NOT rushed moment with these special people in my life. I will be a very Happy Mommy tonight, feeling content and very blessed.

10/29/11

Which season is it?

It is October 29th and Central Pennsylvania is experiencing snow. For some people, that is nothing new. But for us, this is strange.

I will admit that I kind of like it. Although, if it were here to stay, it would grow old quickly.

As I sat at the table with my Girl Mini, I kept seeing this image and wondered, "what season is it anyway?".


I'm no photographer, but I had to go out and take this picture. Here it is. What do you think?


Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

10/27/11

A Week of Workouts

I love to exercise.  I get bored easily so I need to keep it fresh to stay motivated.  So here is a glimpse of my workout schedule.  I love my local YMCA.  I love the variety of classes.  I am very happy with the instructors.

Monday:  Cardio Intervals
Monday Night:  Most Monday evenings I go back and take Pilates on the Ball (this is the only day do two workouts but the Pilates feels sooooo good and I barely work up a sweat, so it almost doesn't count)
Tuesday: Boxing (Woo-hoo my favorite!  I change my schedule around to take this class)
Wednesday: Either Cardio Intervals or Zumba
Thursday: Muscle Works
Friday:  I do something at home this day.  I may do Zumba, Cardio Intervals or strength training.  Whatever I'm in the mood for.

Some weeks, I take a step class.  I may also take Cardio Interval with different instructors, it just depends on what day or time I catch that class.  Some weeks, I take more Zumba.  That's what so great about belonging to the Y.  There is a set schedule filled with an impressive assortment of classes.  With minimal planning on my part, I can do whatever I feel like doing each day.

I take the weekend off from organized exercise.   Gotta give this body some time to rest.  That's it.  This is a typical week of workouts for me.  The hour I exercise, is this Momma's time for myself.  I love to work hard, push myself, sweat like crazy and have fun with my friends(old and new) while I'm doing it.  But then I want to go  home and shower, get dressed and feel good about the way I take care of myself.  Sometimes, I sore, but in these moments, I think back to my over 200 lb. self and I'm so happy to be where I am now.  I carry on with my day and know that I've done my best.  And then I look forward to my "power hour" of the next day.

10/26/11

Happy Visitor :)

Here is a fun one.

Top 5 things I get to do when my Mother in Law is in town...

1. Share the task of overseeing homework.
2. Sneak off with a friend for a cup of coffee.
3. Read an extra chapter or two while she meets the kiddos at the bus stop.
4. Share crafting and cooking ideas.
5. Watch Grandma and the Mini's enjoy being with each other and make memories.

Another bonus when the MIL comes into town is lots of opportunities to shop :)P.

I am very blessed to have a great MIL. I love you Mary and we are thrilled to have you.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

10/25/11

Got a new plan...FINALLY!

****Sidenote****This is my 202 post!  That is fun.  Who knew I'd have so much to say?  Okay, maybe my Mom who used to tell me when I was young, "Dawn, you've used up your words", haha.  But really, I am having a great time with Java Talk.  Thanks for reading ;)  Back to my "New Plan"...

I hang my head as I admit that I do not handle the 90 minutes from 4 pm to 5:30 pm each week day.  I feel like a failure and sometimes a bad mommy as think about how much a dread this time of day.  What's the big deal?  There is a huge part of me that is excited to see the kiddos and talk about their school day.  But the reality is never like the picture in my mind of how this should go.  And in these quick 90 mins, we have to complete homework, make dinner, eat dinner and have my son ready to head out the door for football practice.

That is a lot to do.  It is exhausting.  Things never go smoothly.  No matter the amount of pep talks I give myself before the big yellow bus drops of my Mini's.  I feel like I'm being pulled in eight directions.  I'm being asked questions from every side.  Someone is fighting about their homework.  Dinner needs prepared or stirred or whatever.  Needless to say, I have not handled this time of day well.  I get very stressed.  I lose my patience quickly.  Just thinking about this time, makes me tense.  Then I feel awful because this is the only real time I get to spend with my son pretty much  all day, and its no fun.

So last week, I had a great idea.  Really, it was great.  My girl Mini is home in the mornings.  So, why don't I do her homework with her in the morning?  Then when she gets home from school, she can play and I can focus on her big brother.  Dinner is mostly prepared before they get home so I have minimal work to do on the Food Front.  This has been working soooooooo well.  The atmosphere is so much more relaxed.  I am enjoying working with both of my kiddos as they do their homework.  I am less stressed and we can enjoy our little window of time in the afternoon.  I am embarrassed to say that it took me until the middle of October to figure this out.  I'm not always quick but I can usually find a good solution if given enough time.

This new plan is working well for us.  I look forward to spending this time with my kiddos each afternoon.  I'll take it one day at a time.  And yes, I realize it works this year while my girl Mini is in kindergarten but next year, I'll have to get it together and handle two full day schoolers.  But that is situation for next year and it will probably be a blog post as well   :)

10/24/11

No Fun for Halloween

No fun, that's me. At least that's me when it comes to Halloween. I've never been a big fan of this holiday. Not as a young trick or greater or as an adult. And even now that I am a mommy with trick or treaters of my own, I still could do without this event.

What's not to like about dressing up and getting candy? For me, a lot. I stopped dressing up by choice at a pretty young age. Which was okay because my family started a new tradition on Halloween to take the place of trick or treating. We would watch a video full of episodes of the show, The Monkeys. We would pause the show to hand out candy but we enjoyed lot of laughs through the years on that night.

As an adult, I stress over how much candy to give. I really do. One piece? Two? Am I being stingy? What if they don't like this candy? Over think much? I'm the Queen of Over Thinking. I steer clear of that duty as much as possible.

When the candy collecting is over, then I have two huge bags of candy that I will now have to fight against the urge to eat for the next two weeks or so. That is no fun!

I'm okay with the kids dressing up in cute costumes and walking around with their friends. I'd rather it be a warmer month but I try really hard to stay cheerful for my Mini's. I do not like the scary side of Halloween.

...All this to explain to you why I don't really have Halloween decorations around the house. We do get pumpkins and Andy carves them with the kiddos. But, you won't find much more than that at our house.

The other day, my Girl Mini asked if we could get some. I kind of blew the request off and the day went on. Later that afternoon, she came downstairs looking for some tape. She had made her own decorations and she wanted to hang them on the front door.

This is her handiwork...



She did such a great job! Her ghosts are adorable and I smile every time I pull into the driveway. I'm glad I didn't run out and buy decorations because they would not have meant anything to me. I was proud of my Sweetpea for using her imagination and making her own fun.

Trick or Treating is this Thursday. (around here they always do it the Thurs before the 31st. I still don't know why) I am going to try really hard to enjoy the moments (few hours) with my kiddos. This may never have been my idea of fun, but they seem to like it. I do not want to get in the way of that enjoyment. Maybe it will be catchy and I'll have a great night too. If nothing else, some one should score a peanut butter cup that I'll get to enjoy :)P


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

10/21/11

Pumpkin Scone Recipe

Around Easter, I find myself stuck in the battle Dawn vs. Peanut Butter Eggs.  This ongoing struggle can get very ugly and these super yummy, very bad for you treats are being sold everywhere you go.

In the Fall, the battle changes.  I am currently in the midst of Dawn vs. Pumpkin Scones.  These delicious treats are found at any Starbucks.  I frequent the "Bucks" as a coffee lover, so I fight the temptation with these scones several times a week.  Sometimes, Dawn gets a point.  A lot of times, the point goes to the Scones :( .

So I got to thinking... if I can find a good recipe for Pumpkin Scones, I can make them at home and make them smaller.  This way I can have one for a treat but not feel like I've eaten every calorie burned during my workout that day.  I went on a search and am so happy that I found the following recipe.  I changed it a tiny bit but I think they are fabulous.  Everyone in my family loved them.  Unfortunately,  I am feeling stingy and don't want to share my special scones.  I'll get over it.  I will just have to make more in the near future.  The best part, is I have frozen most of them so I can control the number that I eat.  I have to seriously think about when I'm going to eat it.  This is great!  I enjoyed my first one last night after the kiddos went to bed.  I sat down with a hot cup of tea and very slowly ate my scone.  I loved every bite!


Ingredients:
1 C whole wheat flour
1 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/8 t ground ginger
1/8 t ground cloves
6 T butter, sliced and chilled
1/3 C pumpkin puree
1/3 C heavy whipping cream
6 T brown sugar
2 t vanilla extract

1.  In large bowl, whisk together first 8 ingredients.  Cut in the butter until coarse crumbs form.

2.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together pumpkin, cream, sugar and vanilla

3.  Add to dry  mix and stir until mixture forms a thick dough.  Use clean hands to knead the dough once or twice, pressing it together.  Try not to over knead.

4.  On a lightly floured surface, form dough about 3/4 inches thick.  
          **To make my scones smaller, I decided it would be easiest to cut them into squares.  So I used a pizza cutter and just cut the dough into even squares.
     Place squares onto un-greased baking sheet.

5.  Bake at 425 degrees for 15 mins. until scones are lightly browned on the bottom.

Make icing by whisking together:  1 C powdered sugar, 1 t ground cinnamon, and 2 T milk.

6.  Drizzle icing over scones


I was surprised how easy it was to make these scones.  And I think they are definitely worth the work.  I am thrilled I have my own to eat at home (that's gonna save me A LOT of money) and because they are smaller, I don't have to feel guilty after I indulge...Yay me!

If you like pumpkin treats and you like a scone, I encourage you to give this recipe a try.  If you do, let me know what you think.






                                                                   

10/20/11

Extreme Couponing

                                                                           
                                                                  

  First, I will admit, I do not use coupons.  Every once in a while, I will feel bad for never using coupons.  I mean, I'm just giving my money away at full or maybe sale price.  Why not cut the coupon and save even more?  Makes sense, so in these moments I will sit down and cut away.  But somewhere between cutting the coupons and using the coupons, there is a malfunction.  They never get used.  Please tell me I'm not the only one.

Last night, I caught the end of a TV show called Extreme Couponing.  I'd heard of this show but never seen it before so I thought I'd check it out.  Of course, I was looking for some tips that will fix this coupon malfunction that I have struggled with.  What I saw was pretty shocking.

The first shock was the total of the bill before the store card savings and coupons were scanned.  The total was over $1,300.00!  Once the discounts were taken off, the final total was less than $20.00.  Truly.  Crazy, right?  

As I watched the show, I kept thinking two thoughts.  First, these are not purchases that are needed.  I mean, who needs to buy 20 deodorants?  Or over 60 travel sized shampoos?  It seems to me that these extreme couponers are so concerned with leaving with the "deal" taken to the extreme regardless of the fact that they have to bring home 200 boxes of pasta to get it (one woman on the show did that).  Seriously?  The basements of the women in this particular episode were converted into walk in pantries.  It was insane.

My second thought revolved around the fact that all these foods were processed, packaged, dry foods that you would find at the center of your food store.  Anyone who is serious about losing weight will come across the concept of shopping the perimeter of the food store.  Focus on fresh foods and dairy/bread, then supplement with center store items.  These shoppers had carts full of cookies, chocolate milk mixes, several varieties of pastas...basically, anything where you only have to add water and stir.

I don't mean to be judgmental, and I feed my family some of these food items.  But why does anyone need to buy cookies by the cases?  Cases, not even just one case.  Most of these items are great to have around for those days where there is just not enough time to prepare a healthy meal.   Andy said to me, "You couldn't make a full plate with those items".  That's true.  I realize there aren't coupons for produce and I believe coupons on meat are rare, but it was shocking to see 6 carts (yes, 6) and not see any fresh food items.

I guess becoming an extreme couponer is not in my future.  But I still see the value in a coupon.  If you can save more with a coupon than you would by buying the generic version of what you want, then its a great idea.  I don't see me using many coupons to save on food, but if I could get myself together, I could use coupons to save on pet supplies and household cleaners.  I don't see the need for a shelf of dusting spray, but I'd be happy to save $.50 on one can.  Maybe if I tell myself that I can use the money saved to buy more cups of coffee, then I'll be more motivated to use coupons in the future.  Who knows?

Do you use coupons?  Are you an extreme couponer?  If so, what do you do with the amazing surplus you have accumulated?

10/19/11

Cool and Dreary

Cool and dreary.  You guessed it, I'm describing the weather.  Again.  I am not against rain.  And I do enjoy the cooler weather that Fall brings, but this rain, day after day is just depressing.  I hear it everywhere I go.  "Enough of this rain", "More rain today, can you believe it?"  "I'm sick of this rain"...you get the picture.

It's hard to keep the windows open to let in the fresh air.  The coolness just feel damp because of the rain. The temperatures which would be great for the kids to play outside are wasted because everything is wet and which keeps them in the house.  It is frustrating.

Who wants to clean the house in the rain?  Who wants to carry groceries into the house?  Not me.  I want to curl up on the couch and sleep.  I want to drink coffee and read.  I want soup for dinner and comfy clothes.  Oh, and of course, chocolate would make it better, for a little while at least ;).  Guess what?  I'm not the only one who feels this way.  If you scroll through my Facebook page, many of my "friends" are posting the same ideas.  Ugh!  And it is only Wednesday.  Its getting to the point where I don't want to look at the weather reports because they keep taking my sunshine away.  I'd rather be oblivious and find out with the first raindrop that its gonna be another wet one.  Of course, the drawback is that my poor Doggie Girl has been left out a few times in the rain.  Oops!  Surprisingly, she doesn't seem to mind.  But I still feel bad about leaving her in the rain.

Some day it will feel like a true Fall day.  We've had a few really nice days, but not many.  I'm staying hopeful that soon this rain is going to realize it hit the wrong season and takes a break to wait for Spring.  If the rain does hold out for Spring, then I'll have something to write about a few seasons from now.

What does a streak of rainy days make you want to do?

10/18/11

Dawn's Trailmix


Yum! Trailmix is one of the most satisfying snacks a girl can eat. It's like a taste buffet in one bite. What? Well, it kind of is. You get crunchy, salty, sweet, and chocolate all in one bite. I'm sure everyone could create their own version of the "perfect bite".

I don't make Trailmix often because I tend to have a hard time walking away from this treat. But when I do make it, I like to have fun. This was my latest creation and in this house, we all agree it is a winner :)





I was in the bulk candy aisle to get my mini M&Ms when I discovered the mini animal crackers. They were so cute, I grabbed a scoopful for my T-Mix. I use the mini M&Ms so I get the chocolate taste without all the chocolate calories. I only get a small scoop of the chocolate goodness. I throw in marshmallows, raisins and peanuts. My final ingredient was the cereal, Crackling Oat Bran. I've never used this cereal before but it was a great addition. I'll be using the COB again.

These foods work great together. Mix everything up well and store in an airtight container. This makes a great snack in a bagged lunch, to be eaten at home or thrown in a baggie to eat on the go.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

10/17/11

Let me explain...

Much to my husbands frustration, I keep changing the background and layout of my blog.  I hope this doesn't bother anyone (other than him, haha).  Anyway, I get bored easily and I really enjoy creating changes for Java Talk.  Also, as I learn more about the world of blogging, I try to incorporate these new ideas to my blog.  The time I spend on Java Talk is truly fun for me.  Hang in there with me.  If you have any opinions, good or bad on any changes I make, please feel free to leave me a message or email me.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Thanks and keep reading!

Chicken again?

                                                       

Chicken again?  Sometimes, that is how I feel.  Not surprising since I don't eat beef.  But it is what it is and so I am always trying new recipes to keep chicken, pork and turkey from getting boring.  Want a chicken dish that is full of flavor?  But it has to be easy to make?  Kids need to eat it too (because who wants to make two meals?).  Well, if you don't mind eating your meat and fruit together, this is a fantastic recipe.

Apricot Chicken
Are you ready for the directions?  Pay attention, you don't want to miss a step, haha.  (I'm not kidding, this is super easy)

1.  Put chicken in your crockpot.
2. Mix one envelope of onion soup mix, 1 C of Catalina or French dressing and 1 1/2 C of apricot preserves.
3.  Pour over your chicken.
4.  Turn on the crockpot.  If your chicken is frozen, cook on low for 4-6 hours.  If your chicken is thawed, cook for 2 or 3 hours.

I plan to steam some broccoli to serve with this super yummy chicken.  (This is actually Andy's favorite meal)  If you are having company, this is a great meal to prepare and serve that will impress those around your table.  No one needs to know it took only 5 mins. to prepare ;)

Passing It On

A little background...

Twice a year, my church has a free clothing giveaway for the people in the community.  We call this event, Pass It On.  I have been a part of the team that organizes this event since it began a few years ago.  In the beginning, I participated because I felt being on the team that thought of this idea, meant I should be very involved in the process.  On the actual day of the event, I was blown away by the number of people who came to get clothes.  Over 200 people.  I had no idea there was such a need in our community.  This made a huge impact on me. I know there are people suffering all over the world, but these were people who live close to my home.  They were real people.  And this clothing giveaway is one way that we as a church can share God's love with the people who live nearby.

My Kids...

For the past few years, my kiddos have heard me talk a lot about Pass It On.  When we are cleaning out drawers, we have piles of clothes that will go to Pass It On.  The weeks before the event, I spend a lot of time at church sorting through clothes and setting up for the big day.   They see people each week bringing clothes in to church each week and putting them in the back room to be sorted later.  They hear announcements asking for volunteers to set up, sort and to help out on the day of the giveaway.  These are tasks that my children have grown up hearing about.  I am glad about that.

I still feel they are too young to help out on the actual day of the giveaway.  There are too many people around.  I am also one of the people in charge so I'm all over the place doing this and that so I know my attentions will be too divided to keep a close eye on them.  But at this young age, they are learning two things...
1. This is important
2.  They can help

When they grow out of their clothes, they start separating clothes for Pass it On.  I am proud that my children know that they can give their things to those who are without.  They ask why people need clothes which has led to many important conversations.   I want them to know that they are very blessed.  I also want them to know when we share our material things we are loving people.

My kiddos may be too young to help out on the day of the event but this year, they have been able to help set up.  For both events this year, they have worked right along with the other people (mostly adults) setting up tables, and carrying bags and bags and bags and bags of clothes from the shed to the gym where we host the event.  They work hard right alongside everyone else who helps.  They are giving up their time to play wii or to play with the neighborhood kids for one afternoon, to do something important that will benefit others.

I am so blessed to be a part of such a great ministry.  I am so proud of my kids for being hard workers as we set up and as we gather clothing to give away.  I am glad that they are growing up in an environment where we have found a way to help other people.  It is so neat to watch them grow up and want to be a part of something so community focused.  I feel so blessed for countless reasons today.

What community projects have you gotten your kids to help with?

10/14/11

When I Grow Up...

                                                               

Right now I have an unpaid, full-time job.  Stay at Home Mom, Maid and Taxi Driver are some of the "jobs" I do on a daily basis.  I am actually a certified elementary teacher in the state of Pennsylvania, but I will probably never go back to that job.

I had a hard time when my youngest child headed off to Kindergarten this year.  What do I do with the time I now have?  How do I stay busy?  How do I feel useful?  A few times, I considered finding a part-time job.  But it would have to be seriously part-time, as in 3 hours or less a day, 5 days a week with some flexibility so I can help out in both of my kiddos classes when needed.  I doubt there is much out there that would be open to my schedule.  Which is okay because I have begun to find ways to fill those few hours each day.  Ways that don't include spending money, at least some of the time ;)

I am very blessed that Andy has a job where he can support our family financially.  And I hesitate to say I want to find a job.  But there are days when I do think about what I would like to do "when I grow up".  Here are a few of my ideas.

1.  Work at a coffee shop.  I love coffee.  I enjoy talking to people.  The only downfall I can think of is being around all the sweets all the time.

2.  Work at the front desk at my local YMCA.  I have no idea why it is but the people who are currently paid employees of the Y are miserable.  They are rude, lazy and extremely unhelpful.  The volunteers are great.  And I can't speak for the many employees that work in other areas of the Y, but the people who sit at the front desk are terrible at their job.  There are many mornings when I leave the Y and I think to myself, "I would be so much better at that job".  I can register people, greet people with a smile and answer questions.

3.  Work in a book store.  To be surrounded by books when I go to work sounds like a dream come true.  Although, if I worked at a bookstore, I'd have to be very careful to make sure I didn't spend all of my paycheck on a new stack of books.

There is a big part of me that never wants to give up being a SAHM.  My kids are growing up so fast as it is.  I don't want to be burdened by an outside schedule or bring home stresses related to a job.  But sometimes, I do think about what I will do next year when both kiddos are in full day school.  It would be nice to have a little fun money.  And with part time work, I will still be able to take my classes at the Y as well as be active in the classrooms (the two most important things that I don't want to give up).

I don't know if a part-time job is the next stop for me.  Time will tell.  I don't have do decide anything today.  For now, I'm happy to be home when my Mini's are home and occasionally dream about what I want to do "when I grow up".

10/13/11

Lost!

I read a question...What is the last thing that you lost?  As someone who rarely loses anything, I was surprised that something immediately popped into my mind.  What was the lost item?  My iPod Touch.  Before I had my iPhone, I had an iTouch.  I loved this device almost as much as I love my phone.  But I found myself always lugging around my cell phone and my iTouch.  Enter  iPhone...

Anyway, over the past year I have unofficially given my Touch to the kiddos.  I put a few games on it for them.  And I have loaded some of their music onto it as well.  Sometimes the Girl Mini has it.  Sometimes the Boy Mini has it.  Several months ago...we discovered it was LOST!

I was NOT a happy mommy when we searched and could not find the Touch.  Even though, I didn't need it anymore, it was still a relatively expensive "toy" and for the kids to lose it was just plain irresponsible.  So from time to time, we would search everywhere in the house...with no luck.  I started asking my friends if they had seen it.  Maybe one of my kiddos took it to someone else's house?  Nope, no one had seen it.

This went on for months!  A few weeks ago, I was at church on a lovely Sunday morning.  I reached into the pocket of what I call my Bible Bag.  (A cute bag that I carry my bible, bottle of water and other random things needed for church each week)  Guess what I pulled out?  You got it...the lost iTouch!!!!

You know what that means, right?  It was probably my fault it was missing.  Most likely, the Girl Mini took it to entertain herself before church one week.  Then when Sunday School was about to start, I took it and put it in my bag....where I forgot about it.  Ugh!  All those times I lectured my kiddos about being responsible with our things, and they didn't lose this one.  Oh well, those lectures still apply to all the things they do misplace.  Besides, how well do you think they were actually listening to those lectures.

I'm happy to say that the iTouch was lost but it is now found....Yay!  I keep a much closer eye on that little device these days.  What was the last thing you lost?   

10/12/11

Yam & Jam Muffins

Two Thumbs Up on these muffins!

You need:
1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1/3 C packed brown sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t apple pie spice or ground cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/2 of a 17 oz can sweet potatoes, drained
1 egg, beaten
1/2 C milk
1/3 C fruit jam or preserves (I used apricot but can use strawberry, peach, etc)
1/4 C cooking oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease muffin pan.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, apple pie spice and salt.  Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.
In another bowl, mash the drained sweet potatoes with a fork.  Stir in egg, milk, jam and oil.  Add sweet potato mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened.  Spoon batter into muffin pan.
Bake for 18 to 20 mins or until golden brown.  Let muffins cool for at least five minutes and enjoy!

These are a great low-fat muffin and the sweet potato adds Vitamin A.

Consider yourself warned!

If you are a fruit fly, that is.  I despise fruit flies.  And suddenly, they are all over my house.  Gross!  Gross!  Gross!  So I have found a home remedy and it WORKS!

Here it is...
Pour 1 Cup of Apple Cider Vinegar into a small bowl.  Add a few drops of dish soap and mix.  Then sit near an area you see your fruit flies.  I used a smaller scale.  I used a custard cup and eyeballed my measurements.  Exact measurements are not necessary :)  I placed my "trap" next to my fruit bowl and WHAM!  I have over 20 of those little pests floating around.  That is in the first 24 hours.  I am so gonna win this one.  Sorry fruit flies, find another house or be prepared to be lured into my wet trap.  As I said above, consider yourself warned!

10/11/11

Marketing to your dog.

                                                            

I heard about this today and had to read more.  What I heard was that the owners of Beneful dog food (Nestle) has targeted our pups in a commercial that will soon be airing on European TV.  Really!  That's what I heard. They are placing high pitched sound throughout the commercial that should grab a dog's attention.   I've heard that there is a certain range of sound that we as humans cannot hear.  These noises are however in the range for a dog to hear.  This makes me think of those Deer Whistles that I had on my 1990 Prizm that was supposed to whistle as I drove and scare the deer away.  I have no idea if they worked, but I never hit a deer.

Back to the commercial.  So, at certain points in this commercial, this noise will be played which should cause your canine to become alert and look towards the TV (the source of the sound).  I imagine these sound clips will be strategically placed so our doggie friends will react in perfect time to what the commercial is trying to suggest...our four legged babies, would love to have this fantastic food, of course!

On doing my research for this commercial, I found a video clip of a commercial for Beneful.  Coincidentally, my doggie girl was outside with me.  I decided to play the clip and watch for a reaction. Unfortunately, the commercial was in another language (German I think).  So I didn't understand if this was the actual commercial where they are using this marketing strategy.  I can say, my greyhound had no reaction whatsoever.  This may not have been the commercial in question.  Or, maybe it was, and she doesn't understand German?

Here is a copy of the link to the commercial.  If you have a dog, give it a try and let me know if your pet is begging you for some Beneful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UTF3Gc22va4

10/10/11

A Winner for Lunch!

Today is Columbus Day which means the Mini's have no school.  As I was browsing my cookbooks this weekend for dinner ideas, I stumbled across a great idea for lunch.  Something different from the classic PB&J or lunch-meat sandwiches.  Since both kiddos were going to be home today, I planned on trying this new lunch idea on this day.

Wrap n' Roll...

I'm happy to say my kiddos really enjoyed their lunch today.  I was thrilled to see that the recipe made 8 wraps and that they freeze well!  That means that my son's lunch is basically packed for tomorrow ;)

What you need:
Can of beans, rinsed and drained.
salsa
cream cheese
sliced ham
flour tortillas

Rinse and drain your beans.  Mash the beans in a bowl with a fork.  Add about 1/4 cup of salsa.  Add about 1/4 cup of softened cream cheese.  Mix very well.  Pour about 1/4 cup of bean mix onto one flour tortilla.  Spread mix evenly almost to the edges.  Place a slice of ham on top of the beans.  Roll the wrap.  Serve and enjoy!

I wasn't too sure about the ham and bean mix going together.  But all three of us ate our wraps without complaint.  I don't know about your house, but complaining about what is served for a meal is a painful reality at this house.  It sucks but it happens.  To which I say, "its your lunch/dinner, eat it or be hungry".  Anyway, I didn't think the ham/bean combination tasted odd at all.  This was a great lunch.  Very filling and filled with healthy stuff.  I'm glad I gave it a try.

Menu Monday

Last week, I was super sick over the weekend.  The last thing I felt like doing was planning a menu.  I barely felt like eating at all.  I will say, that the Making Dinner Rush was much more difficult without a pre-planned menu.

So here I go for this week...

Stacked Chili Wedges with a salad

Creamy Chicken Stew with pasta

Ravioli with fresh vegetables

Apple Pork Chops with broccoli

If any of these ideas sound interesting to you, just leave a comment and I'd be happy to post the recipe.

Tales of Hosting our First Sleepover

I know I'm a newbie when it comes to sleepovers.  I wasn't really sure I was ready to take on this phase of life.  And now that its over, I'm thinking, I probably am not ready.  It wasn't horrible.  It just was very stressful.

To celebrate my sons' seventh birthday, we let him invite 3 friends to spend the night.  4 makes a nice even number so 3 guests were allowed.  He didn't hesitate as he chose who to invite.  I thought to myself...okay, four boys.  We'll take them out for pizza.  Come home, have cake/presents.  Watch a movie and off to bed they go".  That is actually pretty much how the evening went.  I just didn't expect the noise level.  And some of the personalities didn't mix together as smoothly as I would have liked.

One friend had to go home after the movie because his parent's were going out of town the next morning.  Disappointing but okay.  When it was time for bed, the boys were still pretty excited.  But sleep was necessary because the birthday boy had to be up early the next morning for a football game that started at 9 the next day.  That's right.  9 am.  Every other week the games haven't started until 10 or 12 but of course, this weekend, the game had to start at 9 which meant he had to be on the field at 8.

One kiddo fell asleep...two did not.  They were calming down but  not sleeping.  I went to bed.  Eventually another boy fell asleep.  One did not.  At 12:45, the last one came into my room to say he still couldn't go to sleep.  The poor guy had been trying for hours to go to sleep.  He had this awful cough all night.   I started to think it was an asthma cough so we called home.  Mom came to pick up her little man so he could get some medicine and hopefully, fall asleep.

Two boys gone, two boys left to wake up the next morning.  I wonder what they thought when they woke up and noticed they were one sleeping bag short from when they went to bed last night.

So my little man had to get up and get ready to play football so there wasn't much of a sleepover after-party, sorry boys.

All in all, this wasn't a bad experience.  It was probably typical for something I try to pull off but we rolled with the punches.  I think I have learned I am ready to have one friend at a time sleepover.  And I think I have learned that I still really dislike midget football and how it ruins my schedule.   I also think I've learned that I love my son's friends and I really hope they had a good time.  Despite our many tiny bumps along the way.

I imagine a sleepover with girls will be much different.  And I am almost positive I am not ready for a house full of squealing little girls.  So we will hold off on trying this with my Girl Mini for a few years.




 

10/8/11

A different point of view

Naps...I believe they are wonderful things. It's just one of those things where everyone has different thoughts on naps.

We spend our early childhood fighting this daily event. And for some families, I hear naptime turns into an event. Lucky for me, my kiddos have always been good sleepers.

Andy sees a nap as a waste of time. This is an unproductive way to use your time. He's lucky I like him despite his opinion of naps.

A nap for me is a luxury. I don't even make my bed on the weekend in hopes that I'm going to make it back into my cozy haven for an afternoon nap. The way I see it, I go and go all week when Andy is at work. I'm not complaining, it's just what I do. But on the weekend, our Daddy is home so I don't have to answer every question or do everything around the house. I can disappear for a little bit and relax. Enjoy some quiet time for me. The other stuff will wait. Let me have my Time Out from the world. I'll be back shortly. And if I got a good nap in, I'll be in a much better mood to get things done. Naps are not a waste of time. They are a way to be refreshed so you can carry on with your daily tasks.


What do you think? Are naps a luxury or a waste of time?


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10/7/11

Scooby Snack Treats

My husband and I think that party bags for a kids party need to be forgotten. What a pain to fill them. And then they are filled with junk that get thrown away within a few days. He always tells me not to bother but of course, I can't be the mom who starts the No Party Treat Bag Movement. So here is my plan for this year.

My son is having his first sleepover. Just a couple of boys. They are going to watch a Scooby Do movie. So this year, I am getting creative with my treat bags.

I needed Scooby Snack graham sticks, chocolate chips and sprinkles.

I melted my chocolate in the microwave. Dipped each Scooby Snack in the chocolate. Then ran the chocolate covered end through the sprinkles.



I happen to already have pumpkin bags on hand. So I put a few snacks in each bag and Voila! Party bags are done :)





I think they turned out pretty cute. And no dollar store junk to be thrown away. Not to mention it made me feel pretty crafty.

What do you think? Are party treat bags ridiculous?

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10/6/11

Don't forget. Don't forget. Don't...

                                                         


This Friday my kiddos have an early dismissal from school.  That's fine.  I had to move an appointment that was already made when I realized the Mini's would be home at that time, but no big deal.  It isn't, not really.

Except...my daughter, who has afternoon kindergarten, starts school very early that day.  She normally catches the bus at 12:30, but not this Friday.  On this day, school STARTS at 11:15.  Last year, my son had morning kindergarten so I had no idea "they" could play around with the time school starts.  It seems that they can.  Okay, so starting early isn't a very big deal either.  The school is even providing a free school lunch for her.  But I am terrified, I'm going to forget to get her to the bus stop on time.

On Friday, my little one enjoys her gymnastics class and then we be-bop around until it is time to head home for lunch.   No can do this week.  I have to remember to bring her school clothes to gymnastics.  And after class, she must quickly get dressed.  Then we will drive straight to the bus stop and off she will go.  I don't really handle change very well.  And until she is on the bus, I will constantly be worrying that I will forget to send her off at this special time.   Friday will come and go and it will all work out.   Until then, it'll just keep running it through  my mind.  I'll probably set a reminder on my iPhone as precaution.  And if you listen closely, you'll probably hear me chanting this to myself, "Don't forget, don't forget, don't forget..."

10/5/11

Slide, swings or climber?

Slides, Swings or Climbers?  No doubt, if you were to see me playing at a park as a kid, I would be on the swings.  I loved to swing.  The back and forth was so soothing.  I loved swinging high.  And I loved singing while I was on the swing.  I spent a lot of time singing on the swings.

That's not to say that I didn't go down the slides or climb the climbers.  I did.  But the swings were my favorite.  Such a simple piece of equipment.  But most likely, where you would find me.  Of course, it probably doesn't help that I broke my wrist twice as a child.  Once when I landed wrong when I jumped off the monkey bars.  And once when I landed wrong trying to jump off of a slide.  I know, you are not supposed to jump off of a slide.  What else can I say, I was a kid.  

Its your turn.  Slides, Swings, or Climbers?  

10/4/11

Can't get it write...(haha)

Just so you know, Write was misspelled on purpose.  But I have noticed that there is one word that I misspell EVERY time I use it.  And apparently, I use it a lot.  I actually went to use this word as I was writing another post and when the squiggly red line showed up below, I got frustrated and started this post.

So the word I can never get right is "definitely".  I didn't even get it right just then!  All I have to say is I'm so thankful for spell check.  When I was in high school, I always spelled "special" wrong.  One teacher pointed that out to me and I learned how to get it right.  Of course, for the next few years, I was always anxious if I had to write that word.  "does the i or the a come first?"   Eventually, I'll figure definately(how I want to spell it every time!) out.

There you have it.  The one word that trips me up without fail.  Please share a word that you misspell below so that I don't feel like such a goof!

10/3/11

Flashback...

Question?  Which author made you want to be a reader?

I saw this question and got fired up.  I know, I'm such a nerd, haha.  Anyway, it got me thinking.  Not for long...I knew right away.  It is pretty ironic that for someone who reads several books a week, I did not like to read at all until I got to 8th grade.  And when I say, I didn't like to read, I really mean, I HATED to read.  Ugh!  Misery!  It was awful work.  My parents used to joke they couldn't even get me to read the comics.

I was just telling someone about this the other day.  I could not even remember what the book was about.  But I knew the name of the book and the author who wrote it.  This book had a huge impact on me.  I enjoyed the story for the first time.  And before long, I was reading a book a day.  Really, a book a day!  It was amazing that by reading for enjoyment, I was obviously entertained, but I also started getting much better grades.  I was even moved to the next reading group.

Back to the question...
The book that turned me into a reader was The Pigman by Paul Zindel.  I had to read this book for my reading class.  I was not looking forward to reading this book anymore than I looked forward to any other chapter book for school.  But I opened the book and started to read.

As I said before, I couldn't remember what the book was about.  I knew there were two teenagers and a young man, so I decided to google this book and read a synopsis as a refresher.  Below is a copy of the synopsis found on TheBestNotes.com


This novel relates the story of two young New York City teenagers who feel unwanted and unloved at home and are on a path of self-destruction, when they meet by chance an old man named Angelo Pignati. They find his name in the phone book in a random game of telephone pranks and with all the wrong intentions, go to his house and become his friends. They meet there nearly everyday after school as well as taking trips to the zoo with Mr. Pignati to feed his friend, the baboon named Bobo.
In the process of this relationship, John and Lorraine learn some valuable truths about friendship and betrayal that can never be forgiven. They make the decision to have a destructive party in his house while he is in the hospital recovering from a heart attack. That coupled with the death of his wife and then the death of the baboon he had come to love at the zoo results in his death and Lorraine and John are forced to deal with their fault in this final outcome. 

Reading this little bit, brings a little back.  I can see how this would be a story that I would connect with.  I might have to find a copy of this book and read it again soon.

Do you remember the author that turned you into a reader?  

10/1/11

Silly Picture


Meet our Family Preying Mantis. No, this picture is not upside-down. This visitor has been staying with us all week.

My daughter discovered him at the beginning of the week. She named him Cookie Climber. I'm not sure where that came from but she didn't hesitate on the choice.

On our front stoop, we have a huge flower display. We watch him from inside the house because he likes to hang out on the other side of the sidelight (the windows on the side of the front door).

I have no idea how long he will be around but for now we enjoy looking for him each day. And when the kids' friends stop by, he is a very neat attraction to be shared ;)

I never thought about how long an insect stays in one spot but now I'm curious to see if he is still there each day. Time will tell. I wonder what the life expectancy is of a preying mantis. This one seems huge, does that mean he has had a long life so far?




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