Monday, April 20, 2015

Quick Meals

Our evenings can sometimes be a little out of hand. With 5 kids each playing a sport, it's going to happen. We do not like to eat out very often, mostly because my kids eat a mountain of food and would put us in the poor house if we ate out often, so I have to be ready to feed them at odd times and with little time.

Of course the best way to deal with this is to have meals or partial meals in the freezer, ready to be whipped out and heated up.

That doesn't happen too often around here, partly because my kids eat a mountain of food. I don't have pots and pans big enough to double a recipe.

Next best thing is to make the meal while I'm home during the day, stick it in the fridge, and heat it up when we're ready to eat it that night. (or have it in the crockpot)

That happens sometimes, but not always.

Basically, I stink at planning ahead. Planning ahead means taking the meat out of the freezer the day before, and my day-to-day brain doesn't remember to do it.

So, what do I feed my family?

Breakfast is an easy and popular choice. Pancakes, french toast, and eggs are very quick and easy.

Spaghetti falls into the easy and popular category as well. Too bad we can't have that 5 nights a week.

Chicken Caesar wraps are not only easy (especially if the chicken is precooked) but they are also very transportable. I sometimes make these when we have to eat dinner at the park between games.

But the fastest, easiest, and (almost) most popular meal for us is Campers' Casserole.

Slice up some smoked sausage and throw it into a hot pan. Once it's done (2 minutes tops) throw in some (drained) canned green beans and (drained) canned potatoes. Have some brown rice or bread and some fruit on the side and dinner is done. It takes 5 minutes, tops.

We only have 6 jars of green beans from the garden this year. All 6 of them were earmarked for Campers' Casserole. Six of the jars of potatoes were at the ready as well.

Does your family (or you) have a favorite meal that is super quick and popular? I'm always on the lookout for more!

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Because 6 Days Per Week of Posting Just Isn't Enough, TToT #96

Ya'll, I have to say, having a child in a play is way more difficult than having kids in sports. At least for the last few of weeks leading up to opening night. It is wearing us all out.

But we've made it through one more week without losing anyone or getting a practice or game time wrong. (1)

The play is this week, so only one more week of crazy. (2)

Most of the week was warm and dry, ending in complete gorgeousness on Friday and Saturday. This meant that while we waited for big kids to finish with practice of some kind, the little kids could play on playgrounds. (3)

The red bud trees are in full bloom, turning our side yard into a swath of purple. (4)

Pay no attention to the grass that needs cut. 

My two oldest children are gainfully employed reffing soccer games. It is a great job for teens, as they can do it whenever they have the time, and they can do it for the rest of their lives whenever they need some cash. In one tournament weekend, a ref can earn up to $200. (5)

Star's team had a game on Saturday, but they were missing a few players. They asked Giant to play with them. They played a fantastic game. (6) Giant scored the team's only goal, and Star blocked many, many shots. The most unbelievable was this block of a penalty kick:

Thanks, Kris's dad for taking the photos for us!
My kids have a fantastic high school to attend. The prom was this weekend, and although I don't have kids old enough to go, I worked the after-prom check-in. With every event I attend, I am just more impressed with the faculty and children. (7)

Bryan was out tilling the garden, preparing it for the seeds we'll be planting soon. (8)

Phoenix is more than halfway done with the required hours to get his license. He will be ready by May 22, the first day he is eligible to take the driver's test. (9)

A few people actually read my post yesterday, despite the title "I Won't Be Offended if You Don't Read This". It's about poo, but it's the first funny thing I've written during this entire alphabetical challenge. I'm grateful to everyone who has stuck with me and keeps reading through this long month of many posts.

So, what are you thankful for this week?

Ten Things of Thankful

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

I'll Understand if You Decide to Skip This One

You say "movement", I say bowel.

Even if you're talking about a prayer movement sweeping the nation, my brain goes straight to poo.

I'm guessing it's because when it comes to poo, I have some experience.

With both human and non.

Unfortunately, it is a part of my life.

A sad, smelly part of my life for over 16 years now.

Today, I'm going to help those of you with less experience. Sometimes, a pootastrophy happens, and you just don't know what to do. I'm hear to help.

Below, you will find scenarios I've lived through, followed by steps on how to best deal with them.

In the middle of a long night of baby crying and spitting up, at 4:00am your baby needs a diaper change. You sleepily un-Velcro the tabs, lift the baby's legs, and hear a pop. Aghast, you watch poo fly. All over the wall. All over the diaper genie. All over the floor.

To do, to do... First and foremost. Cry. Just stand there and cry, because honestly, a poop-covered nursery in the middle of the night deserves it. After the cry, dress the baby, go into your bedroom, wake up your husband, tell him that there is baby poop on the wall, and climb right back into that bed while he takes care of it.

With the spring weather, you are all outside enjoying some fresh air. Unfortunately, someone steps in one of the hundred piles of doggy-do-do that was uncovered when the snow melted.

To do, to do...If the mess is on farm shoes, they are probably covered in chicken and pig poo anyway, so don't even worry about it. Playing in the yard will get most of it off. If a child's school shoes are covered in excrement, scold the child for wearing his school shoes outside, then have him get a stick. He can dig the poo out of the grooves as best he can. Then, use the hose to spray the rest off. Be careful to point the shoes and the water in a way to prevent the poo water from coming back and spraying you in the face. Finally, stuff the shoes with newspaper to facilitate drying.

While doing a puzzle on the floor with your child, he suddenly gets a horrified look on his face and mutters, "I poop-tooted. I tried to toot, but poop got in the way".

Keep the laughter in your head, and when you can finally talk without cracking, reassure the child that it's OK. It happens to most people at least once in their lives. Clean him up, double or triple bag and throw away the messed up underwear, and never speak of it again.

Ok, I'm going to have to pull a Clark and end this post right here. It has taken me 24 hours to get this far, and there ins't much time left for me in the day.

Sorry about that.

The only quick advice I can give is to ask the next question when potty training a child.

When driving home in the car, and your child says he had an accident, ask the next question. Don't assume that by "an accident" he means he wet himself. You really, really don't want to end up with a mess like this:

Have a lovely day!

P.S. I've written about potty training before. It doesn't have anything to do with movements.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Opining. Because, Really, This Challenge Is LONG.



Oh my word, I've got nothing.

The only O words I've got come with obvious opinions.

One-on-one time with your children...It's important.


Organization...I love it. I know how to do it. Yet my house doesn't reflect it, because I have 6 people who don't give a rat's patootie about being organized.

Orthodontist...Find a good one, or your children will complain and tell you how horrible the experience was for the rest of your life. I'd write about my horrible experiences with one when I was a kid, but I did that 2 years ago for the A-Z. B is for braces. As of Wednesday, I now have two kids with torturous metal appliances in their mouths, and while they don't like the braces, the orthodontist's office and people are nothing but lovely.

Orbits...If your kids are struggling to understand the solar system, try acting it out. I still remember doing this when I was in 4th grade. Have one person be the sun, one the moon, one Earth. Have them rotate and revolve accordingly, with the Earth spinning and revolving, and the moon always facing the Earth. Discuss positions as the "year" goes on.

Origami...I have always been fascinated with origami, mostly because I know how difficult it is. We made origami swans in 5th grade art class when I was a kid. I've tried doing more, but getting that paper folded perfectly is apparently beyond my capabilities and attention span. I've given the kids origami books and paper, and Buttercup was able to make some flowers. Just last week, Cuckoo found the origami book, and guess what he asked me to make. OK, don't guess. I had to make that exact same bird I made in 5th grade. Let me just say, inside reverse folds have not gotten easier with age.

Organic...We don't buy it, but we grow it. Not sure I get the organic processed food. Really, I can't imagine that organic boxed mac and cheese is any better for you than regular boxed mac and cheese. But I have done zero research, so what do I know? Nothing. I know nothing, so it really shouldn't even be in an advice post. Oh, unless you are talking organic chemistry. Loved that class in school.

Ostrich...Not a fan, but it does rank above a creepy emu. I am a fan, though, of Mike Rowe and the episode about an ostrich farm. Mike trying to catch an ostrich is a lot like me trying to catch a chicken.

Outdoors...send the children there as much as possible, and join them often.

Outfits...From newborn-1, take advantage of your ability to dress your child in adorable outfits. From 1-the rest of the child's life, when he or she has an opinion on the matter (sometimes very strong opinions), just let it go. As long as the child is dressed modestly and appropriately (no sweats to Mass), let. it. go.

Overwhelmed...We all feel it now and again. Sometimes we just need to get through that busy week/month. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed all the time, and something needs to change. It may not be a big change, but a change is necessary. No one can be happy, productive, or pleasant when constantly overwhelmed. Perhaps it's as simple as making sure to get a shower before your spouse leaves for work. It may be as drastic as a job change. Regardless, don't live constantly overwhelmed.

Oxymoron...I just like the word.

Onomatopeia...Even better word. Learned it in a high school English class. BOOM!

Oxygen...Very necessary when working with children. In all cases of frustration, stopping to take a deep breath is very helpful. Breathe, people. BREATHE!

Okie doke.

That was probably the most unhelpful post I've ever written.

Ah well. At least Mike is in it to give you a chuckle.

Tomorrow will be better.


Have a lovely day!

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Young kids are very good at wielding that two-letter word weapon whenever they aren't in the mood to do something. There's no wishy washy in it. There's no guilt in using it. If they don't want to do something or if they don't want something, that no is made known quite clearly.

While that no from a two year old can cause us some frustration, we parents can learn from those very same children's use of the word.

I am of the mind that we need to serve others. We need to volunteer and help people who need help.

When the kids were little, before soccer and school activities took over, we had a whole lot of down time. Bryan and I were finally meeting people at church and getting more involved with activities there. I would see shout outs for needs in Sunday's bulletin, and I'd happily respond with a, "Sure! I can do that!" As we got to know more people, people started personally asking us to do certain things. "Can you take the photos for the anniversary directory?" Sure!

I had plenty of time to fill, I liked having the interaction, and I was helping people, just like I should. Plus, I had a small photography business, mainly because people had asked me to take photos of their kids. (When you have a lawyer for a husband, things have to be done "properly".) I was happy to be doing it.

Until it got to the point where I was a stressed-out mama, dragging my kids hither and yon, putting layettes together, taking photos, making meals, counseling engaged couples, teaching VBC, and who knows how many other things. And to top it off, the photography business was getting bigger and requiring more time.

I would snap at the kids, because I HAD to get something done. I would tell my kids to give me 5 minutes to do this one thing and then I'd play, then 30 minutes later get annoyed when they reminded me that I never stopped to play. Guilt took hold, and it made me realize one very important thing.

Every time I said yes to a photography client or someone at church or school, I was saying no to my kids.

I am a stay-at-home mom for a reason. That reason is not so I can be at everyone's beck and call, but so I can be present with my kids and be the best mom I can be.

I had to learn from my young kids that it is OK to say no. With no hesitation or guilt.

I took my name off of the email list for making dinners.

I got off the Birthline volunteer list that required me to go downtown to put layettes together.

I closed the photography business.

I took time off of everything to regroup and decide what I really wanted to do and what was actually feasible.

Were other people happy when they called and asked me to do something, and I replied with a resounding, "No"?


Was it the end of the world for any of us?


I still volunteer, but I am much choosier about what I agree to do.

As time goes on, and kids go to school and leave the house, there will be plenty of time to volunteer more and do other things that I want to do.

For now, I'm a mom. With kids who need direction, help, and guidance. And fun. There has to be fun. I have to say no to others, so I can say yes to them.

So, if you find yourself over-committed and frustrated, learn a lesson from a two year old.

Say no.

But take heed, that no will be received much better if you are not rolling around on the floor screaming it over and over again.

How are you at telling people no? Is it something you had to learn the hard way? Tell me all about it.

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Did I Get Any Mail?

Expect this question a lot if you follow today's suggestion.

At least one of my kids will ask daily.

We have purchased magazine subscriptions for each of our kids.

They love it.

For one, it is a reason to get mail. Who doesn't like getting mail (that isn't a bill)?

And secondly, it's something fun to read and look at. Magazines always have great photos to go with their information.

If a subscription isn't in the budget, it is a great gift to suggest when a grandparent or other relative asks you what to buy your sweet darlings for Christmas or a birthday.

We've gotten many different ones over the years, but the favorites have been:


Sports Illustrated Kids

National Geographic Kids

chickeaDEE (Printed by the same publisher of Owl and Chirp, two other favorite magazines.)

And of course, Highlights (or the version for younger kids, High Fives).

Have your children ever gotten magazine subscriptions? What was their favorites?

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lists of Literature

Literature might be a strong word for some of these.

I'm OK with that.

As far as I'm concerned, as long as the kids are reading appropriate content, I don't care what they read as long as they are reading. They'll get to better quality once they get better at reading.

I decided to go straight to the kids.

"Favorite books you've ever read. Go."

Picture Books

Purple, Green, and Yellow by Robert Munsch (and all other 20+ books he's written)

A Is for Salad by Mike Lester

Verdi by Janell Cannon

Bear Snores On (and all the other bear books) by Karma Wilson

Froggy series by Jonathon London

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (and all other pigeon books)

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak

Moosetache (series) by Margie Palatini

Elmer by David Mckee

Early (ish) Chapter Books

Ready, Freddy series by Abby Klein

Junie B Jones series by Barbara Park

Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner

A-Z Mysteries (No relation to A-Z Challenge, for which this post was written) by Ron Roy

Lexi's Tale by Johanna Hurwitz

The World According to Humphrey (and series) by Betty G. Birney

The BFG by Roald Dahl (and all other books by him)

Sports books by Matt Christopher

Sports books by Tim Green

Big Nate series by Lincoln Pierce

Wayside School series by Louis Sachar

Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney

Hardy Boys series by Franklin Dixon

Not So Early Chapter Books

Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz

I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb

Chicken Soup for a Kids' Soul

The Last Newspaper Boy in America by Sue Corbett

A Dog's Life: Autobiography of a Stray by Ann Martin

Great Illustrated Classics series (Great way for kids to be introduced to books before they are able to read the full versions (Giant said his favorite of the bunch was Count of Monte Cristo)

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass *** even Star gave this a high recommendation, which is rare, 'cause he's a sulky teen who doesn't like much of anything. :)

Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James Swanson

The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill

Fish by Gregory Mone

Baseball Card Adventure Series by Dan Gutman

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, and Treachery by Steve Scheinkin

Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan

Brotherband Chronicles series by John Flanagan (read after Ranger's Apprentice)

Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

Picks Specifically Made by Buttercup, 'Cause She's the Only Girl (She likes many of the books above, but she's the only one that likes these.)

Anne of Green Gables (and rest of series) by L.M. Montgomery

Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

When I asked her why only three recommendations, she replied, "I've read lots of good books, but these are the ones I've read over and over and over again."

So, have your kids read any of these? What would they add to the list?

Have a lovely day!