Friday, April 29, 2011

Ebates for Travel

Have you signed up for Ebates yet?  I hope so!  I waited a long time before singing its praises a couple months ago because I promise you: I will never recommend something to you unless I've fully tried it out already.

I love using Ebates for my online shopping.  Since I tend to look for the rock-bottom deals, I'm not generally earning very much at a time but, hey, every little bit adds up!

Recently, I set out to plan a tenth anniversary trip to be taken this fall.  My husband and I talked a lot and did a whole bunch of research and, finally, decided to take the family on a cruise.  (Yay!  Can't wait!)

And here's my tip for you today:

If you're planning a trip of any kind, be sure to check Ebates!

Here are just a few of the travel sites currently offering a percentage back when you go through Ebates:
  • Expedia 1-4%
  • Budget Rent-a-Car 3%
  • Comfort Inn 3.5%
  • Holiday Inn 4.5%
  • Orbitz 1-3%
  • Southwest 3%
  • Travelocity 1-3%
Are these huge percentages?  No.  But travel, by its very nature, tends to be a significant purchase.  Even though I scored a fabulous deal on our cruise for five, I still got about $30 back through Ebates.

That'll pay for some fun souvenirs.  Or a bottle or two of wine.  Or a couple hours of babysitting services. ;)  Not a bad return for a single click!

Don't forget Ebates when you're booking your travel!

linked to Frugal Friday

(Heads Up: Affiliate links used in this post!  Thank you!)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Best Part of the Night

We went out to dinner Tuesday night.  

This was a huge blessing to me, given the fact that my kitchen sink is not currently in place and my new dishwasher is not yet hooked up. 

The five of us were seated right away at a six-top, rather than crammed at a four-top... but that was not the best part of the night.

Our waiter was fabulous.  From offering to water down my youngest's cranberry juice to setting the kids' fries aside to cool a bit, he was perfect... but that was not the best part of the night.

Our food arrived promptly and was delicious... but that was not the best part of the night.

The entire bill for an appetizer, three kids' meals, two adult entrees, and five drinks (soda and juice, adult and child, respectively) was $26... but that was not the best part of the night.

Because the bill was so low due to fabulous promotions at Chili's, we were able to leave a rather monstrous tip to that awesome waiter... but that was not the best part of the night.

As I gathered my little ones and prepared to leave the restaurant, an elderly lady one table over touched my arm.  I turned and faced her and her husband:

Your children are so well-behaved.  Truly wonderful little ones.  You should be proud.

I was.

And THAT was the best part of the night.

Lent '11 Final Thoughts: Saving My Energy For the Battles That Matter

Lent has come to a close. On Sunday, we celebrated the Resurrection of our Savior... what an amazing culmination to the season! The hymn "Jesus Christ is Risen Today" declares Easter "our triumphant holy day" and I could not think of a better description.

It was a long, thoughtful seven weeks around here with lots of challenges and things to think about. In case you missed any of the challenges, you can find them here:

My final thoughts after having lived these challenges for the past couple of months?

It was SO good for me.

I don't want anyone to think that letting go of judgment means letting go of your opinions. It most certainly does not. But it DOES mean that I spend a whole lot less time worrying about choices other people are making. The dear mommy friend who let her child guzzle three cups of soda at a birthday party? Not my preference, but also not my decision. And that's okay. I reckon he'll probably turn out just fine. The raw milk I bought and tried? It was fine. But I don't think it's going to become a "regular thing" around here anytime soon. And I think we'll be okay. That lady who pays full price for all her groceries and turned her nose up at couponers like me? Not my issue. It's her money to spend.

I'm learning to just breathe. To smile. To look at the glass as half full and assume others are making the best choices they can for whatever season they're in.

This also leaves me with enough energy to fight the battles actually worth fighting... those issues of faith or morality I mentioned earlier. I will STILL defend the unborn and will gladly speak up on their behalf every chance I get.

Letting go of judgment involves picking your battles...

I'm choosing not to nitpick every dietary and lifestyle choice so I can use that time and energy to stand up for the life and death causes.

And that works for me.

Button design by the spectacular Sidnie

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to Eat From the Pantry For An Extended Period

Any of you who follow my menu plans know it already:

I haven't done a "real" shopping trip in eight weeks.

I'm also not a champion stock-piler. Yes, I try to grab extras when there are deals to be had but, like many, my cabinet and pantry space is limited, and I don't like to go overboard. (Note: If you like to keep tons of reserves on hand, I think that's awesome. Likewise, if you prefer to just shop week to week, I'm not going to judge you. I'm just letting you know how things happen in this house.)

So, it's been eight weeks. I've spent well under $100 during that time (including my pastured eggs and trial of raw milk.)


Here are some tips for going an extended period without grocery shopping:

  1. Take a full, detailed inventory of your pantry, fridge, and freezer. I find it helpful to note down actual amounts, e.g. six potatoes, 4 oz cheddar, five pounds of flour, etc.
  2. Plan suppers first. It's a good place to start. For many families, this might be the only meal you all eat together and it also often requires the largest amount of food.
  3. Do not limit yourself to "dinner food" when planning suppers. Soups, sandwiches, or breakfast fare can easily fill in a night or two.
  4. Be specific: when I'm trying to stretch what food I have, I make sure to note how much of something I'll be using. It's important to note how many ounces of cheese I'll allot or how many eggs so, come the end of the week, I'm not left empty handed.
  5. Get creative. This is not the time to follow recipes to the letter. In fact, I'd recommend abandoning recipes for awhile in favor of just putting together foods that sound tasty!
  6. Also, be flexible. If you ARE following a recipe, be open to substitutions. Casseroles, stir fries, and the like are very forgiving if you need to switch up a meat or veggie. Pizza with Jack instead of mozzarella still tastes delicious. And, truly, we can get by with a mere four ounces of cheese on a 16" pizza if I shred it finely.
  7. Say "yes, please!" Don't turn down food! If a neighbor offers you excess or a family member offers you leftovers, accept gratefully. Do not worry if you have a "plan" in mind for them. Consider it a happy blessing and have confidence that you can fit it in.
  8. Make it yourself. Knowing how to bake and cook from scratch is extremely helpful when low on food. If you can bake a loaf of bread or whip up some tortillas, that's handy. It's also good to know how to "recreate" items... like using molasses and sugar for brown sugar or processing sugar and corn starch for powdered sugar.
  9. Reconsider "must haves." We tend to serve milk to drink every morning with breakfast. But MUST we? Probably not if we have other adequate sources of dairy. I like to keep a wide array of fruit on hand. But is it really a tragedy to rely on apples, frozen berries, and raisins for a week? Not really. It's only temporary. On the other hand, when we ran out of coffee, I made a trip to the store. My husband will tell you- you don't want to make me go without coffee for long. It's not even a caffeine addiction: I drink decaf. But I drink an entire pot by myself. I am PASSIONATE about my coffee. ;)
  10. Don't sacrifice nutrition. Finally, don't get so hung up on "making it work" that you completely throw good health out the window. I think working with what you have can be a good exercise in discipline, creativity, and resourcefulness, but you're not "failing" anything by picking up necessary items at the store. I have most certainly purchased a few items here and there over the past few weeks. No shame in that.
How about you? Do you ever go a super long stretch without doing a true grocery shopping trip? What are your favorite tips for staying out of the store?

Linked to Top Ten {Tuesday}
Kitchen Tip Tuesday

Monday, April 25, 2011

Menu Plan: 4/24 - Eating From the Pantry Continues

Well, may as well just say it straight:

I still haven't made it to Aldi, which means it's been almost 8 weeks since I did a significant grocery shopping trip.

I did spend about $20 on Saturday on some produce, dairy, meat, and pasta to get us through another week. I'll be cooking up a whole chicken (from my freezer) today and that will go a long way in providing yummy meat for us.


B-Cereal, Applesauce, Milk
L-French Toast, Apple Slices, Hard-Boiled Eggs, Water
D-Easter Feast at Bama & Papa's


B-Jelly Rolls, Hard-Boiled Eggs, Milk
L-Homemade Chicken and Rice Soup, Water
D-Italian Chicken Sandwiches, Salad


B-Blueberry Coffee Cake, Applesauce, Milk
L-P, B, & J, Crackers, Raisins, Water
D-Spaghetti w/ Herbed Tomato Creme Sauce, Broccoli


B-Blueberry Coffee Cake, Berries, Milk
L-Hard-Boiled Eggs, Saltines w/ homemade jam, Water
D-Souped-Up Tomato Soup, Cheese Bread, Salad


B-PB Toast, Apples & Cinnamon, Milk
L-Tuna Salad, Corn, Water
D-Black Bean Burgers, Orange Slices, Water (the kids eat at/after baseball practice on Thursdays, so portable food is important! :))


B-Smoothies, Fruit
L-Cheesy Black Beans & Rice, Water
D-Chicken, Tomato, & Onion Pizza (one of my fave combos!)


B-Streusel Rolls, Apples, Hot Cocoa/Coffee
L-Ditalini w/ Philly cooking creme & ham, whatever fruit or veggie I can scrounge up. ;)
D-to be determined...

... I am hoping to have grocery shopped (finally!) before making that last supper there. Cross your fingers, please???

This post is linked to Menu Plan Menu.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Happens When My Son Blogs

Ninety-five percent of what you see posted here gets done in that window when my older two are at school and my youngest is napping
. I am simply NOT a night owl and I try very hard to reserve what little energy I have left in the evenings for my husband. This routine works very well for me.

Except it's Spring Break.

So I've been trying to write what needs to be written either before my children rise or while they eat breakfast.

I failed to complete the task a few days ago.

My six year old son asked me to do something (and, shamefully, I can't even tell you what it was) and I replied,

"In just a sec, hon. Let Mama finish up this article she's writing real fast, okay?"

And that was that.

Today, he brought me his toy laptop and asked if I'd like to use it to write an article. I smiled and suggested that he should write one.

He did.

Can you see it? Can you read it? I hope so. It was the most important "article" I've read all week:

God loves you.

And so, as I step away for the next few days to share this blessed season with my family, I leave you with that.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

Happy Easter.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lent '11: Letting Go of Judgment, Final Challenge (#7)

My friends, Lent is coming to a close. This journey toward letting go of judgment has been simply lovely for me. Whether you've followed along the whole time or just popped in once or twice, I am happy to have had you along for the ride.

I cannot imagine that I would feel happier or stronger for having given up, say, chocolate. Working on being less judgmental is a heart change and attitude shift that benefits everyone.

And now, without further ado, here's our Week 7, and Final, Challenge:

Give yourself some grace. Make the best choices you can for your family and own them. An important part of this journey has been learning and opening your mind. In the end, though, you still get to decide what's best for you and you should be able to do so without beating yourself up... even if what you choose is not "perfect."

I am not being melodramatic when I say that these past couple of months have been life-changing for me. I have adored exploring viewpoints, opening my mind and heart, and working on freeing myself of the need to judge. I truly hope you've had a beautiful, meaningful Lenten experience as well.

Button design by the spectacular Sidnie


My husband can calculate complicated loan interest in his head...

He can remember directions around a city he drove in fifteen years ago...

He can braid our daughters' hair and create complicated 'do's that make the preschool mommies swoon (yes, seriously)...

He can wire lighting and fix things left and right...

He can solve puzzles and master card games...

Why, then, if I married such a clever man...

Why, for the love, would I encounter THIS???



Where did I find this man? ;)

Lent '11: Letting Go of Judgment, Challenge 6 RESULTS

Time for another week's results! To refresh your memory:

Week 6's Challenge was this:

Try the other side, even if it's just once, and see how it goes. Obviously I would never suggest you do anything that goes against your faith or morality. But try something, from small to big, that's "different" for you. Be it drinking a soda, letting your kid try a Pop-Tart, or visiting a different denomination church, do something you wouldn't ordinarily do. Is it what you thought it would be?

Well, if you followed along with me last week, what I chose to do should come as no surprise: I bought, and drank, raw milk. Yes, yes I did.

Want to hear about it?

Accessibility: Raw milk is ridiculously easy to procure in Connecticut. Not only is it readily available at many farms, it is sold legally in several health food stores. Our laws are lenient and very consumer friendly. I opted to buy the milk at a farm in a neighboring town. It was an easy, pretty drive.

The Buying Experience: I drove right by the cows themselves and parked in a dusty little "lot." An old beagle ambled over to greet us and the kids and I headed through the door marked "Raw Milk Sold Here." Inside, we found a large, glass fronted refrigerator and a grey metal box for money. Self-serve, baby. And easy peasy.

Trying It: The kids were super eager to drink this milk. They were beyond excited. While some of this had to do with the cool experience of visiting the farm, a good portion was also simply because I really, really talked it up. Maybe it's just my kids, but I can get them excited about getting a shot at the doctor's if I talk it up enough...

Their Reaction: "This cow milk is the best ever! It's so super delicious!" (This was a great reaction and they really DID like it. I am being completely truthful though when I tell you that, when pressed, they said they liked it "the same as" their other milk. Just keepin' it real.)

My Reaction: It tasted like... milk. Honestly, I didn't notice anything unique or strange about it. The only thing I was surprised about was the fact that, in my opinion, our raw milk didn't actually taste as "thick" as typical whole milk... it had a consistency more like 2% and, as a result, it was easier for me to choke it down.

Would I Buy It Again?: Sure. Maybe. We only had a half gallon of the stuff and that's not very much, so I was not expecting any miracles. And we didn't see any. We all reacted to the raw milk the same as our usual milk. It didn't taste different. At four dollars for a half gallon, I'm not sure I would call it "worth it" for US. For OUR FAMILY. Trust me, I've read dozens of the posts that say, "I would give up anything else in my budget before I'd give up my raw milk!!!" And that's great. I also understand that switching to raw milk has proved beneficial to many individuals with dairy issues or certain health problems. We are primarily healthy but, I'm sorry to report, my littlest (though she happily drank it) still showed signs of sensitivity with the raw milk. It is what it is. If I were to buy it again, it would be because we enjoyed seeing the cows who provided the milk. I liked supporting a local dairy farmer. I would buy it for the experience, not because I believe it would be life
-changing for us.

For now, I'll keep buying my pasteured eggs down the road and my hormone
-free milk at the store and call it good.

How about you? Did you participate this week? I'd love to read about your experience! Link up below or tell me about it in the comments:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter Ham Glaze That Beats The Packet

(Originally published 3/31/09)

I published my Easter Ham Glaze recipe over two years ago and, right around this time of year, it always gets a whole lot of search engine activity. It's a tasty one- really. I promise. If you don't already have a glaze recipe you love, I hope you'll consider giving it a try!

(I know many of you don't keep rum around regularly... try to look at it the way you would vanilla extract here. Yes, it's an alcohol base, but the alcohol is getting cooked out, leaving behind super delicious flavor. I encourage you to try it.)

Easter Ham Glaze

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup orange flavored rum (like Bacardi O)-- you could use all orange juice instead, but the flavor won't be the same. If you know you won't use it for anything else, you can also look for one of those "shot size" little bottles in the front of the liquor store and just use that.

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. Use to glaze ham during the final 30 minutes of baking.

linked to:
Tasty Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

URS: Easter

Monday, April 18, 2011

Menu Plan: 4/17 - I Haven't Grocery Shopped in 6+ Weeks

I tell you all, somewhat sheepishly, that it has been over six weeks since I have been "grocery shopping." Sure, I've picked up a deal or two along the way, but, really, hardly anything. We keep truckin' along though and, in typical masochistic fashion, I am determined to eke out yet another week of meals.

I picked up milk, eggs, butter (I scored butter for $1.28/#... woo hoo!!!), flour, and frozen corn in the last few days. Here's what'll be happening around here:


B-Cereal, Yogurt, Water
L-Breakfast Burritos, Milk
D-Sunday Supper at Bama & Papa's


B-Maple Raisin Oatmeal, Milk
L-Sweet & Sour Fried Rice w/ Egg & Carrot, Water
D-Steak & Peppers, Hash Browns


B-Yogurt Coffee Cake, Berries, Milk
L-Chicken Pasta Salad w/ Granny Smith Apples, Water
D-Chicken & Jack Stuffed Shells, Green Beans


B-Yogurt Coffee Cake, Berries, Milk
L-Potato, Ham, & Swiss Hash, Carrot Sticks
D-Black Bean Burgers, Baked Beans


B-PB Toast, Apples, Milk
L-Pancakes, String Cheese, Mandarin Oranges, Water
D-Cubed Steak & Cheese Paninis, Apple Slices


B-Smoothies, Toast
L-Cheesy Black Beans & Rice, Water
D-Mushroom Pizza*


B-Granola w/ Raisins & Craisins, Milk
L-Hot & Sour Peanut Noodles
D-Chicken, Carrots, & Taters

*All pizzas on our menu plans from now until Easter will be MEATLESS in keeping with our Catholic tradition.

Now... I would be remiss in not telling you all that we've eaten more takeout in the last few weeks than is typical around here. Between working on our kitchen and not grocery shopping, it's a choice we've made to help my sanity. We've averaged 1 to 2 takeout meals per week (typically Subway or Chinese); we usually average 1 to 2 per month. It is what it is and we're still WAY under food budget. :)

This post is linked to Menu Plan Menu.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 15th Is Not Just Tax Day

April 15, 2006 was an important day for me.

It was my due date for my second baby, one due a mere fourteen months after my first child had arrived.

April 15, 2006 was Tax Day, of course, but it was also the day before Easter that year. Easter Eve.

On April 15, 2006, I should have been having a baby. Or about to have a baby. Or taking care of a brand newborn baby.

I was not.

Instead, I had been home from the hospital for just about a week. I had come home with my second baby, a girl, who was, by then, nearing four months old.

My Easter Eve baby had arrived on Christmas Eve.

April 15th is never just Tax Day to me.

linked to Finer Things Friday

Role-Modeling For My Daughters

There was a time, not long ago, when I felt sure of the ways I was setting a good example. I thought I was setting a beautiful example by staying at home, being securely married, going to church every week, and preparing home-cooked meals. I was happy to be raising little girls in this environment, proud of the example of motherhood I was displaying.

But I've learned something.

What I'm doing matters so much less than how I'm doing it.

  • If I'm a stay-at-home mom who grumbles about the drudgery, I'm doing them no favors.
  • If I'm married to an honorable, steadfast man but do not demonstrate- openly- love and respect, they won't see the value.
  • If I go to church, but rush around angry and frazzled in my haste to get everyone out the door rightthisveryminute, I fail in sharing the joy of worship.
  • If I bake my own bread and sigh at the time and effort it takes, I'm not displaying anything they should aspire to...
  • Whether you are a full-time homemaker or hold a powerful career outside the home too, embrace it. Let your daughters see you take pride in what you do, no matter if you do it by choice or necessity. It doesn't matter if I'm here because I want to be or because I lost my job; my girls need to see me celebrating the role.
  • Whether you are married or single, show your daughters how you fulfill your responsibility. A crabby woman with a husband is not a better role model than a happy single mama. It's that simple.
  • Show the celebration of worship! Pretty hair bows and being on time pale in comparison to an open heart and willingness to smile and sing and embrace the wonder.
  • Find joy in baking bread... and, if you can't, find joy in picking up a loaf of Wonder. Trust me- you do your daughters a greater service by buying bread with a spring in your step than baking it with a stone in your heart.

Do not mistake what I am saying. What we do- and the choices we make- matter. They will play a role in shaping who our daughters become...

But, when, one day, I kiss them goodbye with tears in my eyes, I want them to be eager. And not so much eager to get married or embark on a career... I want them to be eager to be just like their mama:


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lent '11: Letting Go of Judgment, Challenge 6

Last week's challenge was very time consuming for me, but it was a great experience. More than anything, I love the idea of researching a different view and opening up a (friendly!) dialogue. I truly believe we can all learn something from each other.

There are only two challenges left. Can you believe it? Here's our Week 6 Challenge:

Try the other side, even if it's just once, and see how it goes. Obviously I would never suggest you do anything that goes against your faith or morality. But try something, from small to big, that's "different" for you. Be it drinking a soda, letting your kid try a Pop-Tart, or visiting a different denomination church, do something you wouldn't ordinarily do. Is it what you thought it would be?

Come on back and tell us about it.

I look forward to trying something new and I hope you do too!

Please come back to see me next Wednesday so we can talk about it and get our last challenge, okay?

Button design by the spectacular Sidnie

My Thoughts on Drinking Raw Milk

Lent '11: Letting Go of Judgment, Challenge 5 RESULTS

In case any of you have forgotten (or if you're new here- welcome!):

Week 5's Challenge was this:

Seek out information on an opposing viewpoint. Research a little. Find out what others think that makes them reach a different conclusion.

I read. A lot. I paid special attention to the links listed below. (Try not to be bothered by how, quite frankly, incredibly judgmental both of those posts are at some points. I think it comes from defensiveness since so many people attack the raw milk proponents. I'm not concerned about it.) Anyhow, rather than try to type it all out (I did try and it was LONG), I thought I'd just chat with you all for a moment and share some thoughts...

(p.s. Yes, I know my words do not match up with my lips in the video (it's not your computer, I promise)... and I can't figure out how to fix it! If it's really driving you batty, let me know in the comments, through email, or via twitter and I'll be happy to email you a link that DOES match up. My apologies for that!)

Links referenced:

Will the Real California Happy Cows Please Stand Up? from CheeseSlave
Why Skim Milk Will Make You Fat and Give You Heart Disease from The Healthy Home Economist

Did you participate this week? I'd love to read about what happened! Link up below or tell me about it in the comments:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Secret to Crispy (not crunchy) Cookies

Don't judge my cookies by their cover, okay?

Rainy day + Webcam = Lousy Food Pics

You all get that, right?

Anyhow, this isn't so much a recipe post as it is a quick tip for adding new life to your own tried and true chocolate chip, oatmeal, or peanut butter cookie recipe:

After all other ingredients, stir in 1 to 2 cups of cereal. (My faves are Rice Krispies or Rice Chex, but don't feel limited!)

Why, you may wonder? It will transform the texture and add a layer of crispness without making your cookie hard or too crunchy.

Try it! And let me know what you think.

p.s. That green wall? My new kitchen color! I love green.

Linked to:
Tasty Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

Monday, April 11, 2011

Menu Plan: 4/10 - The "I'm Not Spontaneous" Plan

Ack. This kitchen renovation, while lovely, is seriously cramping my cooking style! Not only have I had days where I couldn't get at ANY of my major appliances, we've also been so busy on the weekends that we haven't made it to the store to do our major monthly trip.

Have I mentioned I am not the spontaneous sort???

Ah, well. 'Tis just a season. For this week, I'll be winging breakfasts and lunches a bit (I foresee oatmeal, muffins, eggs, quesadillas, and sandwiches on rotation!) and serving up the following "on hand" things for supper:

Sunday- Grilled Cheese, Applesauce

Monday- Fusilli w/ Red Sauce, Broccoli, Garlic Bread

Tuesday- Eggs in a Nest w/ Diced Honey Ham, Grapefruit

Wednesday- Chicken and Rice Enchiladas

Thursday- Souped Up Tomato Soup, Cheese Bread

Friday- Fire Roasted Tomato & Shrimp Pizza

Saturday- Macaroni Salad w/ Chicken, Carrots, etc.

Linked to Menu Plan Monday

Friday, April 8, 2011

What A Difference A Week Makes!

My poor youngest who looked like this last week...

... is back to her sunny self!

Kissing a 104 degree fever bye-bye? That's a finer thing, for sure!

(Are your babies sick? Lots of my Twitter friends seem to have illnesses moving through their families. Please let me know, if so, so I can keep you in my prayers!)

How Your Character Should Be Measured

If the apples you served your children with breakfast were not organic...

If you polished your mirrors with Windex instead of vinegar...

If you still use a beloved cake frosting recipe that includes Crisco...

If you wash your hair with Pantene and not baking soda...

If you don't make your own cookies...

If you let your children eat cotton candy at the fair...

If you haven't scrubbed your floors in two weeks...

If the chicken you bought this morning came from the supermarket and not the farm...

If you ever feel like you're not measuring up to a godly standard...

... this is for you.

You ARE a good mom.

You ARE a good wife.

You DO love your family.

There's not a thing wrong with making changes or letting your opinions grow and change.

But do not believe the lie that this is how your character should be measured.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

When Your Child Isn't "Typical"

This little one- my C.- is kind of crazy. She's stubborn and silly and sometimes, quite honestly, maddening. There are times she acts helpless and whiny and that is like nails on a chalkboard to me. And, so, sometimes I forget...

She is tough.

She just doesn't have to prove it everyday like she did back in her NICU days. Thank God for that.

Today, I took her to see the ENT. The tubes she had placed in her ears in April of 2008 were still there. They weren't functioning, mind you, but they weren't making their way out of her ear canals either. Her canals are just so very narrow.

We've been going back every three months just to hear the same thing, "They're still in there. I don't think I can get them out. She won't like it. See you in three months."

Today I asked if he (the doctor) was willing to try. He agreed, making sure I didn't get my hopes up.

Two minutes later, the tubes were out. C. never flinched.

"I have to tell you, Mrs. S., this is highly unusual. To remove objects that far in the ear with children this age, we typically have to go to the OR.'

C's not typical.

Thank God for that, too.

(Thanks so much to my Twitter tribe who prayed this morning... we are so grateful to have avoided going into surgery! C's history with anesthesia isn't great...)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lent '11: Letting Go of Judgment, Challenge 5

I am amazed at how much I'm growing as a result of this Lenten challenge. On the one hand, it's upsetting to realize how often I let judgmental thoughts take hold in my mind. On the other, it is freeing to acknowledge that fact and then work to just let go.

Even though I realize that I will likely always make snap judgments based on my own opinions and ideals, it is real progress for me to be more accepting, loving, and open-minded as a result of this journey.

Have you participated in any of these challenges? I know I'm not alone in wanting to overcome being judgmental... many of you have shared your own desires with me!

Time truly flies and we're up to our Week 5 Challenge? Here it is:

Seek out information on an opposing viewpoint. Research a little. Find out what others think that makes them reach a different conclusion.

Are you confident that forgoing vaccines is the way to go? See what you can find out about those who choose to vaccinate. Can you not imagine teaching your child at home? Talk to some homeschoolers! Have you ever talked to someone who chose to bottle feed? No? Go for it.

I look forward to learning even more with this challenge and I hope you do too!

Please come back to see me next Wednesday so we can talk about it and get a new challenge, okay?

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Lent '11: Letting Go of Judgment, Challenge 4 RESULTS

One of the beauties of this life we are given is that our opinions are fluid. What a blessing it is that, as we are able to learn and explore, we are also allowed to change our minds! When I compare the "me" that set out on this parenting journey six years ago with the "me" that stands before you today, I am almost shocked at some of the changes I've undergone. This is also something I need to keep ever-in-mind as I observe others. While I may not agree with how she is doing something, there is always the chance that she will change over time... or even that I may come around to her way of thinking.

In case any of you have forgotten (or if you're new here- welcome!):

Week 4's challenge was this:

Initiate a conversation with a friend/neighbor/relative/fellow parishioner about a past choice you made that you now have reason to doubt. (Alternatively, you could write a post about it!) Share the learning experience.

Here's how this played out for me...

My friend married later than I. Not surprisingly then, she started having babies later too. In fact, I had three babies before she gave birth to her first. When she took her sweet baby girl to see the pediatrician at four months, she was given the go-ahead to start cereals. Here's what I had to say:

"I've had different pediatricians with each of my babies and we've always been given the same guidance. With my first, I have to admit I was just so excited to try something new that I came up with a detailed plan of introduction and worked my way through all cereals, fruits, and veggies before he hit six months. I totally get it if you want to try giving her something. I will say this... the more I read and learn, the less convinced I am that there's any "nutrition value" in giving babies solid food at this point. It's just "practice eating." And, really, in our case, it was more work for us at that point. By the time I had G. (my 3rd), I was so much more low-key and just waited until she reached for things and seemed eager. She was around six months. By eight months, she ate normal table food with us. For us, it was just SO much easier. Do with that what you will."

And that was that!

No need to argue about the merits of waiting until six months or beyond to introduce solid foods. If she wanted more info on that, I could have provided it. But, in this instance, what I really wanted to offer was the value of experience. Sharing what I've tried and what I've learned may hold more significance than sharing what I've read or what I've heard.

Did you participate this week? I'd love to read about what happened! Link up below or tell me about it in the comments:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

To The Dog Owners

Some background info first:

  • I do not own a dog.
  • I do not hate dogs.
  • I am not afraid of dogs.

Now that we've established that, here are ten things I'd love to say to many dog owners around me:

  1. Your dog is cuter to you than he is to me.
  2. Brushing off "jumping" as "playfulness" does not make it better for me.
  3. Ditto for "sniffing" as "curiosity".
  4. I would never, in a million years, consider leaving a dirty diaper in your home or yard. Please clean up after your best friend.
  5. I'd like to go to the ball fields to watch baseball, not navigate a mine field of droppings.
  6. While I'm not saying all pit bulls are bad dogs, I'd prefer we not test the theory with my small children.
  7. On that topic, yelling "Pick up your son!!!" at me as your pit bull "puppy" charges my driveway will not endear him to me.
  8. Um... I don't actually want to pet your dog, thanks.
  9. It skeeves me out when you let your dog lick your mouth. Just sayin'. (And don't give me that jazz about dog mouths being cleaner than human mouths and blah, blah, blah. Quite frankly, I don't want to watch your husband lick your mouth either.)
  10. I really DO love your pooch... over there.
How about you? What would like to say to the dog owners (or cat owners, if you'd like!) around you?

Linked to:
Top Ten {Tuesday}

Monday, April 4, 2011

Half-Day vs. Full-Day Kindergarten

I have a kindergartener now and I'm sending another off to kindergarten next year! People have TONS of varying opinions on half-day vs. full-day programs. I'm talking about the topic over at Life as MOM! Head over here to read my thoughts... and lots more in the comments.

Menu Plan: 4/3 - The "Cooking Without a Kitchen" Plan

Oh me, oh my, I'm all up in a tizzy. Okay, not exactly, but floundering would not be an exaggeration of how I'm feeling. You see, we're making some big changes in our kitchen. And, while that's exciting, it also throws little ol' me (who truly LOVES cooking 3 meals most days!) off-kilter. Ah, well. I've had to look over my next 4 weeks of meal plans and cull out the ones I think I can pull off with just a microwave and a 2 qt slow cooker...

Here's what's hittin' our table:


B-Cereal, Yogurt, Juice
L-Scrambled Eggs w/ Diced Ham, Toast, Oranges
D-Chicken & Noodles (WITHOUT the mashed potatoes... there's no one out there who is going to convince me that it makes a lick of sense to put noodles on top of potatoes.)


B-Oatmeal w/ Strawberry Jelly Hearts, Milk
L-Cheese Quesadillas, Apple Slices, Water
D-Beef Fajitas


B-Cinnamon Muffins (these are in the freezer, thankfully!), Berries, Milk
L-Parmesan Rice w/ Carrots, Juice
D-Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Baked Beans


B-Cinnamon Muffins, Yogurt, Juice
L-PB Raisin Smiley Toasts, Apples, Water
D-Crockpot Ravioli, Broccoli


B-PB Toast, Oranges, Milk
L-Egg & Cheese Burritos, Berries, Water
D-Souped Up Tomato Soup, Cheese Sandwiches


B-Smoothies, Toast
L-Cheesy Beans & Rice, Water
D-I'm really hoping to have use of my oven so we can have our usual pizza night! If so, I'm making a Cheddar & Rotel Pizza*


B-Zoo Keeper Breakfast (We're member of our local zoo and were invited to a special breakfast with the zookeepers and a "unique animal encounter"... looking forward to it!)
L-We'll likely be on the road...
D-Mac 'n Cheese w/ Hot Dogs, Carrot Sticks

*All pizzas on our menu plans from now until Easter will be MEATLESS in keeping with our Catholic tradition.

I am not "jumping up and down" excited about this menu plan. But it'll do. And it means we won't be falling back on a bunch of takeout to get us through this messy time. Meal planning, even without a functional kitchen definitely saves money!

So tell me... what's your favorite meal to toss together with no oven or stove? (Oh, and a rinky dink crockpot? ;))

This post is linked to Menu Plan Menu.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools' Day

I hate being made to look like a fool...

Does anyone really like it? Or are some of you just better sports than I am and you don't mind giving the obligatory har-dee-har-har chuckle?

Yes, yes, some of those silly food pranks you can pull on your kids look clever and fun. Beyond that? I really don't like it.

I think some of it comes from the fact that I can be trusting and gullible at times and then I feel deceived. I can get caught up or genuinely worried and then people pull the rug out and-- ha, ha, ha-- wasn't that hysterical? You TOTALLY fell for it, JessieLeigh!

Well, yes, yes I did. And this emotional roller coaster is not one bit fun.

So... I guess what I'm getting at is this.

Please, I beg of you, please, for the love, know your audience. Is it good-natured fun that all will enjoy? Are you both pranksters who enjoy one-upping each other? Go to it.

But, much like Halloween, could we just leave trusting ol' JessieLeigh out of it?

Much appreciated.