Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How To Wash Out A Storage Bag

I'm attempting a vlog... and I'm scared. Please hold my hand. Okay... here we go...

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday.

Veggie Frittata (a la JessieLeigh)

Frittatas are one of my very favorite ways to use up bits and pieces and leftovers of things. As long you have some eggs, milk, and some variety of cheese, you can pull almost anything together into a yummy, filling, covers-all-bases meal. We love frittatas with meat in them-- ham & cheese and chicken with peppers and onions are real faves around here. What's nice, though, is that it's just as simple to whip up a meatless frittata. While not vegan-friendly (hello EGGS, MILK, CHEESE!), this makes the dish suitable for a vegetarian, appropriate for Lenten abstinence, and frugal to boot. The eggs and cheese pack a good protein punch so you're not left starving an hour later. Bonus- even picky kids will often eat veggies masked in eggs and cheese!

Now, true frittatas are put together in a skillet on top of the stove and then finished off in the oven. My version relies on the oven from start to finish. Most frittatas also start with a base layer of potatoes. In my recipe, feel free to use whatever starch your little heart desires. It may not be entirely authentic, but it's simple, easy to prepare ahead of time, and popular! This is absolutely a "learn the method and do what you want" kind of a recipe- have fun with it!

Veggie Frittata

  • approx. 1 cup starch-- I usually used cubed wheat bread here, but I have honestly used (cooked) potatoes-both cubed and sliced, leftover rice (especially Spanish Rice in a Mexican version), leftover pasta, cubed english muffin, torn leftover bun, shredded pancake, etc, etc. Your choice will affect the flavor and texture but I really, really encourage you to try something different! It WILL turn out and you just may discover a new favorite!
  • 4-5 eggs
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/2 - 1 c shredded cheese (any variety)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
  • dash black pepper
  • any other spices that fit your "theme", if desired
  • 1 c assorted chopped veggies (our favorites include: onions, peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower, tomato, olives, and spinach... but I've thrown things such as carrots and green beans in there before!)
  • sprinkle of parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Grease an 8" square or 9" round pan well and set aside. In large bowl, beat eggs together and add in milk and spices. Fold in shredded cheese. The result should kind of "thick" looking. Fold in chopped veggies and pour into prepared pan. Top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese (this is optional, but it will result in a delicious golden "crust" on the top- YUM). Bake for 20-30 minutes, until set throughout. Let sit for a few minutes before cutting into it. I usually use a round pan and cut it into good-sized wedges. This recipe easily feeds my family of four (plus nibbles for the baby). If your family is larger, has older children, or contains "big eaters", you may want to consider making two of them!

This post is linked to:
$5 Dinner Challenge
Tasty Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Menu Plan: 3/28/10

This week, like last week, involves one wild Wednesday. Appointments with specialists and birthday parties add to the "usual run-around". Still, it should be a fun one!

The weather is so funky lately.... balmy and Spring-y for a couple days, frigid and rainy after that. This week's menu plan has dinners to suit both kinds of weather!


B-Cereal, Yogurt, Juice
L-Cinnamon Rolls, Sausage, Milk
D-Sunday Supper at Bama & Papa's (those would be my parents, fyi)


B-Oatmeal, Applesauce, Milk
L-P, B, & J, Yogurt, Pretzels, Juice
D-Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwiches, Homemade Soup, Fruit


B-English Muffin Egg Sandwiches, Juice
L-Hot Dogs, Bread, Corn, Milk
D-Spaghetti & Meatballs, Broccoli


B-Jelly Toast, Cheese, Juice
L-PB Crackers, Yogurt, Fruit, Milk
D-Crab & Mushroom Crepes


B-Cereal, Fruit, Milk
L-Grilled Cheese, Crackers, Juice
D-Batter-Dipped Chicken Sandwiches (I am a hero around here when I make these- recipe coming soon!), Baked Beans, Corn

Friday (meatless- it's Lent):

B-Steel-cut Oats, Yogurt, Juice
L-Cheesy Beans & Rice
D-Pizza (extra cheese for the littles, tons of veggies-including lots of peppers- for the bigs), Water


B-Sausage Pigs in Blankets
D-Pasta Salad with Cubed Chicken and Veggies

What's your family cooking up these days? Have any of you busted out the grill yet? Ours is still in Indiana (boo hoo!), so that hasn't happened here. If we could just sell that house...

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cutting Coupons: You're Not Too Busy, part 4

Well, this will be my final segment on cutting coupons. So far, I've shared thirty-- yep, 30!!!-- opportunities to clip coupons during an average week. I've addressed cutting in the car, while you do your job, and with your children. If you haven't read through the comments yet, I encourage you to do so because my readers have some great tips! For this final part of the series, I'm offering ten more times to get some clipping done...

During "Things That Pop Up" (these will be times that are unlikely to occur during your daily life but the odds are very good that one of them will happen every couple weeks or so... great opportunities to get caught up on that clipping!)

  1. While waiting at the doctor's office- We all know it. You're going to have to wait. You may as well get something accomplished while you're doing it!
  2. While you get your oil changed- This is a great 15-20 minute stretch of time that is good for little else...
  3. While riding the bus/train- I have a very dear friend who has a baby and works full-time. She is legitimately busy. What does she have over me- a stay-at-home mom of three? Her 45 minute train ride to and from the city each day. Perfect opportunity to get a ton done!
  4. While sitting under the dryer- At the hair salon, that is. I don't happen to really go to the salon more than *ahem* once a year for a quick trim. But if you have a more regular routine going, you could use that "magazine flippin'" time to get some coupon clippin' done instead!
  5. While waiting for registration- Have you ever gone to register your child for an activity only to get stuck behind the dozen parents who did NOT complete all the pre-work and end up taking ages upon ages? No? Well then this might not work for you. But I seem to always land behind the unprepared people. If I remember this for the next time, I can get some stuff done while I wait!
  6. While waiting at the pharmacy- I'd love to think that I could always just breeze in and pick up my ready-and-waiting prescription but it doesn't always work that way...
  7. While waiting for a flight- This one is tricky because, well, now that I think about it, you can't really have scissors with you anymore, can you... but you could organize some stuff. And tear it if you're desperate... ;) (Am I the only one who has torn a coupon carefully out when I forgot my scissors???)
  8. While waiting for someone's arrival- Okay, here's the truth about me. If I've gone through the trouble of getting my home pristine before someone's arrival, there are very few things I'm willing to get out and work on lest I dirty what I just cleaned. Coupons do not create much of a mess, truly, and they're easy to scoop back up and toss in a drawer. If I'm expecting someone but I'm not sure exactly when they'll be here, coupons are something I can work on in the meantime.
  9. While your toenails dry- Oh, I wish this was a weekly event for me! I used to have the prettiest toenails on the block. I've slacked since having children, but I do try to keep them presentable during flip-flop weather!
  10. While you procrastinate on another chore- I am absolutely serious here. We all have some job that we just can't stand. We probably all manage to procrastinate large chunks of time away... you may as well get something done
The biggest lesson here is this-- if you're prepared and have your materials with you and at the ready, you can absolutely get those coupons clipped. Trust me... I have forty reasons that you're not too busy.

This post is linked to Frugal Friday.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nursing: "I Really Tried..."

Last Tuesday, I was chatting with another preschool mommy during story hour. We were talking about our sons' teacher who is expecting a baby girl in less than a month. She was trying to decide from which store she should buy a gift card. Both being moms of three, we laughed about how, really, as long as you could buy diapers there, any store would do! Still chuckling, she went on...

"I remember after my first was born, my in-laws would show up once a week with a bag of diapers and my parents would bring me a can of formula, which was just so perf..."

I was just listening to her finish out her thought about how great that was (and I sure bet it was!) when she interrupted herself to back-track and say...

"I mean, I tried nursing. It was just really hard for me and it wasn't going well and, well, I ended up using formula because she just wasn't gaining weight and I was feeling desperate and..."

She looked at me, a touch of panic in her eyes, as if wondering what I was going to say to this.

I said,

"Wow, that sounds like a real blessing and just what you needed!"

It makes me sad.

Not that she didn't nurse her baby. Not that she had trouble with it. Not even that apparently no one was really able to help her work it out.

It makes me sad that she felt the need to defend herself so much. I hadn't judged her even before her big rundown about what went wrong. Had she never attempted nursing, I wouldn't have deemed her a bad mommy.

I am happy to be breastfeeding my daughter. I have always felt adamant about the rights of mothers to nurse their babies wherever it needs to be done. There are enough studies and reports out there to tell you that there are lots of benefits to breastfeeding- you don't need my two cents added in.

But there are wonderful formula-feeding mommies out there. Just like there are lousy moms who breastfeed. That one decision does not tell the whole story. If you nurse, that doesn't automatically make you a good mom. If you formula-feed, that doesn't make you a bad mom.

It's just not right. It's not right that there are excellent mommies out there who feel the need to tear open raw wounds and share their difficult stories with everyone in the hopes that, maybe, just maybe, they won't be judged too harshly then. Why must we insist upon "a darn good excuse" in order for this to be permissible? Mommies, as a breed, need to be more compassionate and supportive of each other... I expect formula-feeding mothers to put up with me breastfeeding my baby (discreetly) in public if the need arises. They should be able to expect me to be kind.

Let's save our energy for when it really matters. Let's save it for when children are in jeopardy or being raised in loveless homes. Maybe then we can all- all of us just doing our best to raise our babies- come together and make a difference.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Serve My Kids Cold Cereal

Oh, yes. It's true. An average of twice a week, I serve up cold cereal, fruit, and milk and call it good.

And... so??

That might not seem so earth-shattering, but in my many corners of the blogosphere it seems to be a near-crime. COLD cereal? Cereal??? Really???

Listen. I make plenty of hot breakfasts. We eat a ton of oatmeal, eggs, pancakes, muffins, and the like...

And you know what? I'm not any better of a mommy on the days I scramble up a breakfast burrito (like this morning) than I am on the days I pour Cheerios into a bowl (like every Sunday before 8:30 am mass). I don't deserve some medal for dirty-ing a pan. My kids don't love me any more. My husband doesn't deem me a better wife on those mornings. It is NOT my defining moment of the day.

I do not serve super sugar-y cereals to my children. That is a choice I've made and, I believe, a good one. But I absolutely do serve up Cheerios or Kix or some other low-sugar option at least once a week.

And I feel absolutely no guilt about this.

Apparently, ready-to-eat cereal eaters consume less fat, less cholesterol, and more fiber than non-cereal eaters. More frequent cereal eaters tend to have healthier body weights too.

Is this why I do it? Oh, heck no. I serve up cold cereal because it's easy and convenient on those early mornings when my husband and I aren't allowed to eat anyway (due to fasting before communion). I serve up cereal because, in my opinion, it's a pretty nutritious, quick option.

I guess what I'm saying is this...

I grow weary of the holier-than-thou attitude that I sometimes see about the whole "I serve a hot breakfast to my wonderful family EVERY SINGLE DAY because I am a good woman". I think it's fabulous if you're all enjoying a hot breakfast together each day. More power to you. But if you, like so many of us, are pouring your kids a bowl of cereal and calling it good... pat yourself on the back. You're a good mommy too. Don't let anyone make you feel like less because you've made a choice that works for your family.

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday.

The fine print:The information about the health value of cereal and a prize pack containing four coupons for free cereal were provided to me by General Mills through MyBlogSpark. My feelings about cereal-eating and how it works for my family are all my own and, incidentally, I buy Cheerios whether I have free coupons or not. Just sayin'.

  • General Mills provided you with the free product,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lasagna Roll-Ups

My kids absolutely love these for lunch. They're so quick and cute. They also make a nice lunch for my hubby. Baking a whole lasagna isn't exactly difficult, but it can be a tad time-consuming. These little roll-ups capture the flavor of lasagna without the long cooking time.

Lasagna Roll-Ups


8 lasagna noodles (boiled to al dente in salted water)
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon parsley
any other fillings you might enjoy/have on hand: spinach, crumbled sausage, browned ground beef, pepperoni, mushrooms, etc.

Lay noodles side-by-side on a clean dish towel. Onto each, spread a thin layer of cottage cheese. Sprinkle with mozzarella, parmesan, parsley, and other fillings. Roll up. Use a toothpick to hold each roll-up together. You have a couple choices for cooking methods here. If you want to prepare them all at once, lay them side-by-side in a baking dish , top with sauce and a sprinkling of mozz cheese, and bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes until heated through and melt-y. If you're serving them up for a quick lunch, just place one (for a child) or two (for a grown-up) on a plate. Drizzle with spaghetti sauce and add a sprinkle of mozz cheese. Microwave on high for 45-75 seconds until desired temp is reached. Quick, lasagna-y goodness... enjoy!

(**Bonus: because these are so easy to prepare meatless, they make an easy, yummy Lenten lunch too.)

This post is linked to:

Monday, March 22, 2010

"My Story..." Monday: Getting Pregnant After A Preemie- The Pregnancy

Well, now that I've walked you through the couple years leading up to my third pregnancy, we're left at the point when I found out that I was indeed pregnant. Happily, I can report that the pregnancy went well and I am the happy mommy of three now, my youngest having recently turned nine months (a day whereupon my five-year old son sang, "Happy Change of Months Day to you!!!").

If you weren't around the first time for it, you can read a little about how things were during my pregnancy in these posts:

Getting pregnant again after having given birth extremely early is scary. Super scary. And a big leap of faith. But, oh, was it ever worth it...

Menu Plan Monday: 3/21/10

I haven't shared many Menu Plan Mondays in the past but, believe it or not, I have some of the most detailed menu plans most people have ever seen. I plan every single breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week. As sort of a kick in my own tail to get some more of my recipes on here, I'm going to try post my weekly menu plans more consistently. Here goes...


B-Cereal (more on why we choose to eat cereal around here on Wednesday!) , Applesauce, Milk
L-Scrambled Eggs with Bacon, Toast, Fruit
D-Sunday Supper at Bama & Papa's (those would be my parents, fyi)


B-Breakfast Burritos, Milk
L-Rice, Grapes, Yogurt, Juice
D-Poor Man's Chicken Parmesan, Pasta, Green Beans


B-Steel-cut Oats (they sell these at Aldi now- yahoo!), Yogurt, Juice
L-Italian Cheese Bread, Fruit, Milk
D-Beef Soft Tacos w/ Peppers, Onions, Lettuce


B-Cinnamon & Sugar Toast, Apples, Milk
L-P,B,&J, Yogurt, Pretzels, Water


B-English Muffins w/ PB, Yogurt, Juice
L-Mashed taters w/ Pepperoni & Cheese, Fruit, Milk
D-Chicken Lo Mein

Friday (meatless- it's Lent):

B-Steel-cut Oats, Applesauce, Milk
L-Buttered Noodles, Fruit, Milk
D-Pizza (mushroom and red pepper flakes for the littles, tons of veggies for the bigs), Water


B-Egg Sandwiches on homemade rolls
L-Chicken Noodle Soup, Beer Bread, Fruit
D-BBQ Hot Dogs (I was introduced to these in Indiana... does anyone else eat them?), Macaroni & Cheese, Salad

Aside from Wednesday- which is a total day of madness here with five extra places we need to be- it should be a fairly typical week! What's your family cooking up these days?

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cutting Coupons: You're Not Too Busy, Part 3

So far, I've shared twenty different opportunities with you all for getting those coupons clipped: ten opportunities in the car and ten while you do your job. In this segment, part 3 of a 4-part series, I'd like to share ten different ways you can incorporate coupon clipping...

While You Care For Your Children
  1. Babies love to rattle paper- No doubt about it, babies adore crinkly, slippery, papery things. Give a baby a big scrap of paper and she'll be happy. Colorful coupon inserts (with the coupons you need already removed!) fit the bill. Do note that babies also love to taste paper and those dyes are not so good for them, so be sure to keep an eye out...
  2. Toddlers love to tear paper- The slightly older no-longer-babies-can't-yet-cut set loves to tear. Toddlers will have a ball if you let them tear your scraps into even tinier pieces. Bonus? Tearing is actually really good for them! It builds hand strength and forces them to use both hands together to accomplish a goal.
  3. Preschoolers need to practice cutting- Once your child is 3 or 4, he'll enjoy snipping alongside you. You can't expect your child to neatly trim out each coupon for you (yet), but you can let him practice his cutting skills on scraps or around coupons you know you do not want.
  4. Elementary school children can neatly cut on lines- Once your little one has entered even the youngest grades, she can cut neatly enough to actually help you... hooray! Involving your child makes it special. Try having a set "date" and serving up a special snack while you work and chat together.
  5. Tween-age children can learn why coupons matter and organize them- Your 'tween can be a super helper to you. Children in this age bracket can understand why coupons help us save money. They can help you locate a certain coupon you need for a specific trip. They can even help filter out the expired ones. Don't underestimate that skill- I've met a lot of adults who really have to think to determine where one date falls in relation to another.
  6. Teenage children can help plan menus and lists by matching coupons- Teenagers are getting ever-closer to heading out into the big world on their own. Now is the perfect time to teach them how to plan menus based on the sales and how to maximize saving by matching coupons. Children this age are absolutely savvy enough to get these concepts and, if you teach them now, they won't have to try to figure it out on their own once they're managing their own families and households.
  7. While scrapbooking- Putting together scrapbooks with your children can be a really special way to commemorate the big moments in their lives! While I have my snazzy paper-cutting doo-hickey out, I love to cut out my internet printables. It is absolutely perfect for all those coupons right in a row- always straight and easy as pie.
  8. While making collages- Children love to paste together images to form collages! And, boy, is it ever fun to see what things they wind up putting together. There are tons of pictures of food, animals, and people in coupon inserts. Even as toddlers, my kids loved to glue these images onto a big sheet of paper while I took care of the coupon business.
  9. While doing homework- If your children are a little older and have homework to do, use this opportunity to get a little clipping done while you sit with them at the table. You'll be available for any questions and you'll get this pesky little task out of the way.
  10. While they draw/color- It may seem oxymoronic, but for some children, creativity thrives with a little direction. Some little ones enjoy drawing and coloring more when given a mission. For example, you might see a coupon for frozen veggies with an image of green beans. You could say, "Look at these green beans! Can you draw some green beans? Do you think you can come up with three other green fruits and vegetables to add to the picture?" This will keep your little one engaged and make him feel like he's still "connected", in a way, to what you're working on.
Your kids come first. They should. I understand that you don't want to "take away" from your time with them. The above ten opportunities are there to help you find ways to spend good, quality time with your children AND save your family some money. And that's time well spent.

This post is linked to Frugal Friday.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Shark Fin

We call it her shark fin. It happens all by itself. And we love it. Do you have a baby with a signature style?

This post is linked to Wordless Wednesday.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Orecchiette With Mushrooms, Arugula, Tomatoes, and Brie

My goodness, just the name of this dish makes me hungry. This, right here, is my cup 'o tea. Meatloaf? Pot Roast? Shepherd's Pie? I could go the rest of my life without eating them and not feel an ounce of despair. But pasta? With BRIE? And tomatoes and mushrooms and arugula??? Oh my. This is how I grew up. I feel so blessed that my mom exposed me to such a wide variety of foods and tastes at a fairly young age. If you're a committed "meat and taters" kind of cook, you should perhaps stop right here. But if you love fresh, vibrant flavors and textures, this one from my mom may be right up your alley...

Orecchiette with Mushrooms, Arugula, Tomatoes, & Brie

2 cups orecchiette (those are small pasta shells, in case you didn't know! :)), about 1/2 lb
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 oz. portobello mushrooms (Baby Bellas are fine too), thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 lb plum tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup white wine (or stock, if you don't cook with wine)
1 bunch arugula, stems trimmed
1/4 lb Brie, rind trimmed, cheese cut into 1/2" pieces

Cook pasta in boiling, salted water until tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup liquid. Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy skillet. Add mushrooms and garlic and saute about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 2 more minutes. Add wine; bring sauce to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes more. Add arugula, cheese, and pasta to sauce. Toss until arugula wilts, cheese begins to melt, and pasta is heated through, adding reserved liquid by tablespoonful if mixture seems dry. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4 (these are moderate servings, not gigantic platters... perfect with bread and a salad!)

My apologies for the lack of photos! I'll add them just as soon as I make this dish again. In the meantime, you may want to pop back over to my Shrimp Rotini post which now has photos with it!

This post is linked to:

Is It Time to Let Your Toddler Take Care of Herself?

I am seeing red.

I thought about not writing this post. I almost didn't. I certainly hesitated before publishing it. Because, you see, I like the folks at Parenting magazine. They do some really great stuff. They share some interesting information and links on Twitter. They publish some valuable articles. I am glad that there are publications like this out there.

But I. Am. Mad.

The February edition of Parenting landed in my mailbox over the weekend. There are some good articles in there. I especially liked 5 Big Decisions, a great article with a lot of emphasis on making choices that work for your family. It's a good read and would be especially reassuring to a first-time parent.

But then I stumbled upon this gem:

(Parenting, February 2010, pp 80-84)

I am not sure why I even read this article. I'm an early bird. I'm not looking to get more sleep. My children wake up at sensible, kid-appropriate hours (sometime between 6:45 and 7:15 am, usually) and I'm not looking to change anything.

But I read it.

The gist? Once your children turn three (or, in some cases, even while they're still two!), you can train them to get up by themselves and let you, Queen Mama, remain blissfully asleep.

Mmm hmm. That's right. No need to drag your precious self out of bed to do something so mundane as, say, parent your children. Why not let them take care of all their pesky needs all on their own? The article goes on to provide an opinion from a child psychologist (Lawrence Shapiro-- from MY state!) who asserts:

The benefits won't only be yours. This is not just about Mom and Dad sleeping for another hour. It's about giving your child a chance to learn how to entertain himself, how to make breakfast. That's good for him.

Listen. I'm all about teaching our children to have some independence. Is it good for me to let my five-year old help me scramble the eggs for our breakfast? Yes. Does my four-year old feel like a big girl when I let her help pour her own cereal? Yep. Do I feel comfortable sending both my preschoolers off to a quiet nook to play or read while I accomplish another task? Absolutely.

But this broke my heart...

My sister-in-law, who has four children, has done just that. Her littles ones, ages 4 and 2, know they can't leave their rooms until there's a 7 on the clock. Then they find bowls of dry cereal waiting on the kitchen table. Tiny stickers show them which buttons to press on the remote control to fire up their favorite movie. And Mom, blissfully, sleeps until 8 a.m.

In all fairness, I do not know the woman about whom this is written and she may be a truly wonderful mom. I wouldn't dream of suggesting otherwise. But this morning routine is just, well, sad to me. Who thinks that's a warm, loving way to kick off your child's day? I really can't even fathom sending my 4-year old, let alone a 2-year old, out to face her day alone.

The article does provide a chart to help you determine if your child is "ready" for "morning 'alone' time". This basically helps you determine if you have a quiet, rule-following kind of a kid. If so, feel free to let him fend for himself. (Okay, not in so many words, but that's the overall message here... let me know if you interpret it a different way.)

Perhaps the most depressing part of the whole thing, for me, came at the end of the article. It's the segment entitled, "Step 3 > Start the day (without you)"

This portion of the article talks about how to "train" your little one to take care of her basic needs without your help. From setting out outfit choices (and letting her know she is not permitted to wake you until she is dressed) to leaving dry cereal and a juice box in her room (so she can feed herself without bothering you), this segment extols the virtues of these tricks as helping to make mornings less hectic. You know what would make morning less hectic? GETTING UP AND GETTING SOMETHING DONE. If all else fails, the paragraph goes on to say, let your child hang out in your bed and watch T.V. while you continue to snooze.

I'm sorry, Parenting, but I am mortified. Are there mornings when I'd enjoy catching a few more zzzz's? Of course. I'm a mom. I'm one of a notoriously sleep-deprived breed. I'd also love to run my errands without having to corral three little ones sometimes but that doesn't mean I just leave them in the house or car. They are MY children. I CHOSE to have them. More than that, I am BLESSED to have them. I cannot even imagine feeling the kind of selfish entitlement that is shown in this article... as if my desire to sleep in should come before my precious children's need for my time and attention. I'm not saying that their suggestions necessarily put these children in danger or that their physical needs are not being met...

But... really?

Is that the best we want to do? To say at the end of the day, "I kept my kids safe, clothed, and fed and that's good enough."

It's not good enough for me. I will continue to rise before my family and have their breakfast waiting for them. I will continue to help my preschool daughter with her leggings and buttons and zippers. I will help them become independent, capable children by allowing them to work alongside me... not by expecting them to take care of themselves and relying on the T.V to take care of their entertainment.

My kids need me in the morning. And that's A-OK with me. I'll sleep in when they're teens.

But enough from opinionated me. What do YOU think? Do you let your children take care of themselves so you can get much-needed rest? Am I being too sensitive? Let's discuss it in the comments!

"My Story..." Monday: Getting Pregnant After A Preemie- The Fear Sets In

The first thing it seemed like I needed to do was convince my doctor's office that my pregnancy test had not, in fact, been "inconclusive". It was Tuesday morning and I was scheduled to go in for surgery at 5 am on Thursday. While the nurse had told me that they would be doing another test as part of surgery prep anyway, I really did not want to have to go through that whole hassle.

We had a school meeting that morning for our soon-to-turn-three-year-old daughter and, as a result, my husband had taken the morning off from work. It was nice to have him by my side as I called the doctor's office and made arrangements. This time, the nurse I spoke to apparently FOUND my records and she told me that she could see, plain as day, that the pregnancy test was positive and she said that they had already cancelled the surgery. In lieu of that appointment, she scheduled my first prenatal visit.

Next up? Telling our moms. We definitely had to tell my mother-in-law since she had planned on coming to our house Wednesday night and staying over to be there with the kids the next morning when I went in for surgery. My husband called her and told her that we didn't need her after all. When she wondered why not, he told her, "Because you're going have your ninth grandchild this summer!"

I wanted to call my mom too, of course. Not only did I just want to share the news, but I also had to tell people earlier since everyone was expecting me to go into surgery in two days! I called and told her that we had gotten the results of my pre-op lab-work and I wasn't fit for surgery. She was a little concerned and asked if they were planning to do it later on then. I answered, "Oh, yeah, I imagine they'll take care of it during my c-section..."

It became more and more real the more people I told.

I mentioned before that I had lined up some excellent guest posts to run during the week after my surgery. I realized that I should let these other bloggers know that, while I would welcome their posts, it was no longer critical that I have them. And so I emailed Ryann, Jessica, Amy, and Tiffany. I was delighted when they all sent me pieces to post here anyway.

If you have a second- especially if you missed them the first time around- please take a moment to read what these amazing women have to say about their own personal struggles with getting pregnant, staying pregnant, and caring babies safely to term:

Reading these stories was a definite reminder to me that pregnancy isn't always a walk in the park... and I'm not talking about morning sickness and swollen ankles. Things don't always go smoothly and sometimes there is devastation to face.

I was so excited to be pregnant with our third baby...

And so scared.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cutting Coupons: You're Not Too Busy, Part 2

I mentioned last week how I hear all the time from people who are just "too busy" to clip coupons. I'm not buying it. I've committed to giving you all FORTY ideas of times when you could get those coupons clipped without having to set aside a huge chunk of time to do so. Last Friday, I shared ten opportunities to tackle this chore in the car. This week, I'd like to offer up ten suggestions for coupon clipping opportunities:

While You Do Your Job

(For the stay-at-home mom -- this does NOT include ways to do this task WITH your children... that'll be coming.)

  1. Clip while you cook- There are lots of pockets of time when we bake and cook. You can't necessarily leave the kitchen and embark on a big project, but you can certainly cut out some coupons in between tasks.
  2. Clip while they eat- Am I the only one who finishes my meal way before the kids? It's necessity, really, that causes us moms to learn to eat fast. When I'm not swamped in dishes or other chores, I can get some coupons clipped while they finish up.
  3. Clip with your morning tea/coffee- I do this once a week. I'm the first one up, so I pour my coffee, print what coupons I'll be needing, and sit down to cut them... all before the rest of my household rises.
  4. Clip outside- There is no rule that says you need to clip indoors. Cut out some coupons while your children run around! You can easily clip AND supervise.
  5. Clip while you delegate- This looks like this: (while sitting on sofa with scissors and inserts in hand) "A- how about matching those socks together for Mommy from the laundry basket? C- can you dance for G? See how that makes her smile? You guys are such great helpers!"
(For the work-outside-the-home mom)

  1. Clip in your car- Whether you're stuck in traffic, at a super-long red light, or just a few minutes early to work, you can get some cutting done from the driver's seat! (It goes without saying that you need to be STOPPED to be cutting coupons... no distracted driving, people!)
  2. Clip on your lunch break- You all have lots of reasons to envy stay-at-home moms. This is the biggest reason we envy you (well, that, or the fact that you can go to the bathroom by yourself ;)). Your life is busy, busy, busy, but this is a time when you could get some clipping done while waiting for lunch to heat up or chatting with a friend.
  3. Clip on a coffee break- You may only have five minutes or so, but a lot can be accomplished in that time! And, as you can see above, I think coffee and coupons go together splendidly!
  4. Clip while you wait on copies, the printer, the fax- This is kind of like clipping while you cook- pockets of time that aren't good for much, but you can breeze through a few sheets of coupons, for sure!
  5. Clip as part of cleaning your desk at the end of the day- I'm not suggesting that you should get paid for this time, but if you're salaried, you can always finish any random clipping as part of clearing out the paperwork before you go home. It will only take a few minutes and there is the added incentive of getting out the door!
Happy clipping to you! Cutting coupons can certainly be worked into your daily job. And, consider this... the money you save by clipping some coupons (if they are for things you use anyway) is the same as money earned. Cha-ching.

This post is linked to Frugal Friday at Life As MOM.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lightning Fast Yoplait Smoothie Giveaway!

Please head over to my other site, Parenting The Tiniest Of Miracles Reviews, to see what all I'm giving away today. It's only going to last for 24 hours, so please hurry!

If I can get my act together, I hope to get a micropreemie post up later today. Come back soon!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hot & Sour Peanut Noodles

I've already shared a couple great meatless recipes with you- Garlicky Clams Linguine and Shrimp Rotini. While delicious, those recipes both require some seafood which is not really a "pantry staple" (though the canned clams are easy to have on hand) and can sometimes be pricey. Plus, not every family enjoys seafood as much as mine!

Without a doubt, my "go-to" meatless recipe-- and one my husband requests at least every other week-- is Hot & Sour Peanut Noodles. Made from simple, on-hand ingredients, this quick, protein-packed meal always gets rave reviews.

Hot & Sour Peanut Noodles
12-16 oz. thin spaghetti (vermicelli)
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth/stock
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup lime juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, based on your family's tolerance for heat
1/2 tsp (or so) minced garlic

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain. Into hot pan (but you can turn the burner off), add remaining ingredients and stir until smooth.

Add noodles and toss.

This dish can stand alone like this, but it's even tastier if you add some things. Last night, I served it up with some chopped broccoli, cauliflower, red pepper, and zucchini mixed in.

Sometimes, I DO add meat-- chicken and pork are both equally delicious. We love it with mushrooms. The sky's the limit really-- just rely on your family's tastes and you can't go wrong. I've even made this recipe using rice instead of noodles-- still tasty!
People will look at you funny as you dump peanut butter in with spaghetti but trust me on this...you've gotta try it! Super easy, super fast, super budget-friendly. Now that's using your noodle. (Sorry... had to do it.;))
This post is linked to:

"My Story..." Monday: Getting Pregnant After A Preemie- The Surgery

I enjoyed my last weekend before surgery. It was a fun time with my family! Throughout it all, though, one little thought kept nagging me...

Could I be pregnant?

You see, during my pre-op work that previous Friday, one of the questions the nurse asked me was a common one- When was your last menstrual period?

"October 3rd," I'd answered. It was November 7th. Now, that didn't necessarily mean much. I realized I was a little late, but that wasn't unheard of, especially given the fact that I was nervous and under a lot of stress about this whole surgery. I figured it would start some time over the weekend.

It did not.

One of my lab tests had been a pregnancy test, so I decided to call the doctor's office to get the results on Monday. Keep in mind, I had not told my husband ANY of this whole saga yet. I dialed the doctor's number Monday morning and was informed that the office was closed until 1 PM. Grrr.

That morning felt very long but, after lunch, I dialed those digits again. This time, I was able to speak to a nurse who pulled out my file.

"Hmm, Mrs. S., you say they did a pregnancy test?"

"Yes, I'm sure of it."

"Well, let me see... um... it looks like maybe the results were inconclusive."

"Inconclusive? I've never heard of an inconclusive pregnancy test. So what does that mean?"

"Well, don't worry about it. They'll do another test first thing in the morning right before your surgery to be sure."

"Oh, ok. Well, thank you."

I hung up the phone. I was pretty sure that this woman hadn't been able to find the results and that's why she had given me that whole "inconclusive" response and all. But it didn't really matter why she'd told me that, the fact was... I still didn't know.

I also didn't want to wait until Thursday. If I did happen to be pregnant, what sense did it make to have my mother-in-law come over to babysit, go to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning, and get prepped for surgery only to have them send me back home?

I took a deep breath and dialed my husband's cell number. I prayed for his voice-mail and let out a little sigh of relief when that's what I got. After the beep...

"Hey, hon! It's me. I just got off the phone with the doctor's office and apparently the results from the pregnancy test they gave me on Friday were inconclusive and they say they'll give me another one right before the surgery but that seems kind of silly to me to wait until we're at the hospital and all before just finding out for sure so would you mind running across the street to CVS and picking up a pregnancy test before you come home today?Okay, thanks, love you, bye."


He didn't call me back, but when he walked in the door, he hugged me and handed me a bag.

I finished making dinner and we all sat down and ate as a family. After I'd cleaned up the kitchen, I went into our bathroom to take the test.

I walked back into the living room, where my husband was playing with the 2- and 3-year olds. I handed him the test and said, "Well, that's the fastest positive I've ever seen."

In that moment, our eyes met we both realized we were facing something much bigger- and better- than the surgery I'd had planned.

I was officially pregnant after a preemie.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cutting Coupons: You're Not Too Busy, Part 1

I hear it all the time:

"I'm too busy to cut coupons!"

I hear it from everyone. Stay-at-home-moms. Work-outside-the-home-moms. Young people. Older folks. Rich people. Those barely making it. And you know what? It's an excuse that doesn't hold water, no matter who you may be. Trust me-- there is someone out there who has more kids, works longer hours, and juggles more responsibilities than you and still manages to cut coupons.

For the next four Fridays, I'm going to be offering up a total of forty, yes, FORTY times during a typical week when you could get that coupon clipping done. Now, I'm not saying that all forty will necessarily apply to you. But I bet you can find a few...

For this first segment, here are ten times you can...

Clip in the Car

  1. While you wait for your kids- This right here is your number one time to clip coupons. We spend an awful lot of time waiting in cars at bus stops or outside of schools/gyms/libraries/etc.
  2. While you wait in a drive-thru lane- Especially at the bank or drugstore. These transactions tend to take a few minutes and, if you're prepared, you can get quite a bit done.
  3. When you're a few minutes early arriving someplace- If you don't need to go in the building for five or ten more minutes, may as well get some clipping done!
  4. When you have sleeping children in the backseat- Am I the only one this has happened to? If your babies fall asleep and don't transfer well, why not get some something done while you sit in the car with them? Play some happy music and CUT!
  5. When you're on a trip- If you're on a longer trip and you're not the only driver, you have the potential to get caught up on a lot of clipping.
  6. While you nurse a baby- If you have to feed your baby while you're out and you choose to do it in the car, you can get some clipping done. This takes a little juggling but most mommies will tell you that they learn to do all manner of things while nursing! (I often wonder just how many posts get written one-handed while feeding a baby...)
  7. While you pump gas- True, unless you drive a gigantic vehicle, you're not going to get much done while your gas pumps... but you could certainly breeze through 3 or 4 sheets of internet printables!
  8. When you're waiting on a friend- This is kind of like the kid thing. If you're waiting for a friend who you're picking up or meeting someplace, you can keep yourself busy rather than get frustrated if she's less-than-prompt.
  9. While you prep to go in the store- This is my least favorite option but, if need be, you can clip some coupons in the parking lot right before you run in. Sometimes I find myself with a few minutes of wait-time while I wait for someone with a cart to show up. (Occasionally those cart-retrievers are too on top of things!) It's difficult for me to schlep three kids five and under, a diaper bag, my coupons, and reusable grocery bags in the store without a cart. If this happens, I can clip some coupons while I wait!
  10. On your way to or from church- This is my very favorite time to get this chore done. The coupons come out in the Sunday paper anyway. If you go to church with your spouse, whoever is not driving can clip. Easy peasy!
Keeping your to-be-clipped coupons in a simple folder with a pair of scissors is really all you need to do to be prepared to get some clipping done in the car!

I'll be back again next Friday with ten more times you can get those coupons clipped!

How about you? Do you clip coupons in your car? When?

This post is linked to Frugal Friday at Life as MOM.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Babies Drinking From Straws

At her six-month check-up, my baby girl was given the go-ahead to try sipping some water from a sippy cup. Since she's exclusively breastfed, she's never really taken a bottle so that's not something I even want to introduce. She's also never been one bit interested in a pacifier. I admit there are times when it may have been nice for her to like one, but, still, it's one less thing to have to wean from. I was pretty delighted to just go right to the sippy!

My girl? Not so thrilled with the whole thing. I gave her a hard spout and a soft spout. She wasn't overly fond of either. Then I offered her a straw.

I'm delighted to find these Munchkin cups that are relatively leak-proof, but offer a straw instead of a spout.

Not only is this simply my daughter's preferred method of drinking, but it's also a great one for other children too. I'm not saying that all 8-month olds need to be drinking from a straw... not at all. But the simple truth is that drinking from a straw is a socially acceptable way to consume beverages for, well, your whole life! It's a good skill to have. Drinking from a sippy cup? Well, that becomes age-inappropriate much sooner. And I've already made my thoughts on extended sippy cup use abundantly clear..

Great cup. Happy baby. Happy mommy.
This post is linked to:
Things I Love Thursday

FYI: I bought my G's Munchkin cups when I discovered them. I was just so happy to have a leak-proof cup with a straw! I was not paid or in any way compensated for this post. If Munchkin needs a young model to demonstrate their awesome product, however, I've got someone in mind... ;)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Micropreemie Roller Coaster

Ask any parent of a baby born WAY too early and they'll tell you-

It's a roller coaster ride... the doctors, nurses, and other parents warn you about that. Three steps forward, two steps back. Four steps forward, ten steps back. You want to think it will be different, but we all pretty much ride similar bumpy roads. The entire time you're in the NICU, you know this... you wait for the other shoe to drop.

What no one does tell you is that you don't get to climb off the ride just because you were able to go home. You've signed on to enjoy this wild coaster for the rest of your life.

Now, for some of us, the ride gets much calmer... you get to just slide along, most of the major dips and drops a thing of the past that you remember but don't have to dwell on. It feels more like a carousel now, or a ferris wheel... fun, at times breathtaking, but largely predictable and smooth.

Until a storm arrives and the whole ride changes again.

You go in for a routine check-up and find out something's wrong... or has gotten much worse. A common cold sends you reeling with panic about RSV and how your chronic-lung-disease-child will fight the virus. You get a call from a teacher or therapist and learn there are still more concerns about your child's development... and that it's time to meet with yet another specialist.

The micropreemie roller coaster is a life-long ride... and one with a very pricey ticket.

But it's also one of the most inspiring journeys one can undertake... there is so much to learn, so much to discover, so much awe to be had as we witness these tiny miracles making their marks on the world. And our hearts. So we just hang on.
Note: We did have a recent event in our own lives that helped to inspire this post- more on that another time- but it was mostly written because this is what I hear all the time from other micropreemie parents. I am blessed to have heard from so many of you... hang in there. You're always in my prayers.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Shrimp Rotini

Last week, I shared the recipe for Garlicky Clams Linguine with you and promised more meatless man-pleasing main dishes. This week? I'm serving up some...

Shrimp Rotini


2/3 pound rotini (most of a box is fine)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 1/2 frozen shrimp in bite-size pieces (or use those little salad shrimp- they're cheap and work well here!)
4 oz. imitation crab meat, chopped
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth or stock
1 jar (or can) meatless spaghetti sauce (OR 3 cups of your own sauce), divided
1 cup ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese-- but ricotta has a better texture for this)
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
black pepper to taste


Prepare rotini according to package instructions. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over med-low heat and add garlic. Cook for about 2 mins until fragrant. Add crab and shrimp (both in bite-size pieces) and reduce heat to low. Stir frequently. Heat spinach until hot (about 1 minute on high in a microwave or a few minutes in a saucepan over medium should do it). Add ricotta to spinach and stir until smooth; cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside.

Add broth and 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce to seafood mixture. Sprinkle generously with black pepper and heat through. Add remaining spaghetti sauce to drained rotini. Stir. Serve as follows- Spread a layer of rotini on each plate. Ladle seafood mixture over. Finally, top with a generous dollop of the spinach/ricotta blend. Serve immediately.

Approx. time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6

This post is linked to:

My Story Monday... Getting Pregnant After A Preemie- Not Trying... And Not NOT Trying

When C. turned two, I was in excellent shape. That past summer, we had purchased a tread mill and I had put it to very good use. I also had a balance ball that I worked out on regularly and I had the abs to prove it. I felt wonderful and strong. Truthfully, I felt like I had back in the early Spring just before I got pregnant with my first child.

I remember that time of my life as being very content. We were all healthy and happy. Our just-turned-three son had finally (!) started to talk and that eased a lot of worries we'd been having. C. no longer needed any extra doctor visits for anything, save the eye doctor. My husband's job was secure and predictable. I had actually made a mommy-friend through preschool and was feeling less disconnected than I had in years.

THIS was the time when I started thinking I might be ready to have another baby. I wasn't in a rush, but I felt like, should it happen, I would be fully happy and ready. I also thought the likelihood of my getting pregnant had probably gone up significantly since I was no longer under great stress and I was in good shape.

But I didn't get pregnant. And that was okay too. I never felt desperate or depressed about it.

Life went on with our sweet little family.

Until C was 2 1/2 and I noticed a lump in my lower right abdomen. A lump that caused me a great deal of pain and would sometimes bring me to my knees. A lump that, eventually, caused me to see both my general practitioner and then my OB/GYN.

We scheduled surgery... and I signed the paper giving consent to the removal of my ovary if need be.

I was devastated.

My surgery was scheduled for November. I lined up guest posts so I could recover. We arranged child care for A. and C. so my husband could be with me. He took time off work so I could rest for a few days post-op.

On November 6th, my brother came to town and took my kids and me out to lunch. It was wonderful to see him and a great distraction from the pre-op tests and blood work I had to have later that afternoon! We had some yummy food and good laughs and then I rushed home to meet my husband so he could watch the kids while I went to the lab.

I breezed through all the surgery prep with no issues and headed home.

I was ready to enjoy my last weekend before the operation.