May 24, 2012

Awkward and Awesome Thursday

Awesome:

My new van!! 



I love it and I am soooo thankful that we were able to find this used van at a price we could afford and it has all the bells and whistles we were hoping for!  God is Good!!



Also Awesome:

A Long Weekend!  I am so excited to have this long weekend coming up!  It's going to be full of family, friends, a date night, and time at the pool!  What more could a stressed out momma want?!




Awkward:

Oh friends...you have hit the jackpot on this week's awkward. 



Actually, these fabulous pictures were taken about 15 or 16 years ago.  But even with that, how embarrassing?  This is me and my best friend, Deb, when we were in college.

Somehow, we thought it would be a great idea to get our pictures taken together.  At Kmart, nonetheless. 

Could we be more dorky or weird???

I mean, the clothing and hair alone is enough to tell you that we had issues.

And the even more awkward part is that after we had the pictures taken, and distributed them to our friends, (seriously??), someone saw it and thought we were a couple.  As in, he thought we were in love.

Even as I type it I'm laughing so hard I'm crying. 

I wish I could defend it in some way, but no excuse makes it any less strange.

Truth is, I had forgotten about these pictures until a few weeks ago I was hanging out with Deb, and she dug one out of her purse and gave it to me.  Needless to say, it gave all of the friends we were with a good laugh.

Ahhhh, gotta love documented moments of craziness :)



Here's a more recent picture of us...at least a *little* better.


Do you have any awkward or Awesome moments from this week to share? 





May 23, 2012

Chicken Stuffed Shells


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One of the benefits of going to our house church is the yummy dinner each Tuesday.  There are some GREAT cooks there, and our bellies happily benefit from their talent.

One week, my friend Kylee brought this dish and I was in HEAVEN!  It didn't sound good to me at first, (stuffing and pasta??).

Oh.  My.  Goodness.

These stuffed shells are one of the best things I've ever eaten.  It's total comfort food, and my girls love it too. 

And now, I'm sharing the recipe, so that you can experience this yumminess too!

Here's what you'll need:
1 pkg jumbo pasta shells
2 lb chicken
1 6 oz stove top stuffing
1 1/2 C mayo
4 C chicken broth
2 cans cream of chicken soup

First, you'll want to cook the chicken(I boiled mine, but you can bake it, or get a rotisserie and take the meat off...basically, whatever works for you).

After it's done, allow it to cool. 



While it's cooling, go ahead and cook the shells

Note: I cooked mine in the chicken stock for some extra flavor...but if you like bland shells, go ahead and do it in plain old water :).  They should be in boiling water for about 9-10 minutes.

Drain the shells and then lay them out of a cookie sheet to cool.  Trust me on this one!  Steamy hot shells are no fun to work with.  I have the burnt fingers to prove it.



While they're cooling, you can make the stuffing (just use the box directions), and chop up your chicken. (You'll want to chop it into pretty small pieces so that you can pipe it into the shells!)



Once cooked, combine the stuffing, chopped chicken and mayo.



And yes, I used full fat mayo. 

Now don't go getting all healthy on me.  I know it's bad for you.  But the thing is, I LOVE mayo.  Especially Kraft.  So I have absolutely no problem adding it to pretty much anything.  I know I should probably feel bad about it, but I don't.  Not even a little bit

I guess you could try light mayo...

And if you truly have some kind of misplaced hatred of all mayo, you might be able to try Greek yogurt.  Not promising that it will taste the same or even hold the mixture together the same way, but it will add the creaminess you're looking for.

Place it in a large plastic bag and seal.  Twist the top and cut off the tip to make a piping bag.  Set aside.



Combine chicken broth and soup and then ladle small amount of soup mixture into bottom of 9x13 pan.


 
Fill the cooled shells and place them in the pan.



Ladle the remaining soup mixture over top.



Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, occasionally spooning sauce over top.



TIP: This can be made the day before and refrigerated, just increase baking time.  It can also be frozen.  Just fill the shells but DON'T put soup mixture on the bottom or the top.  Instead freeze filled shells, and when you're ready to eat, thaw in refrigerator, and just before baking, pour the sauce over the entire thing.  Cover, bake and increase baking time to about 45 minutes.

I really hope you enjoy these shells as much as my family does!

I will be linking up with We Are THAT Family for WFWM.  Be sure to check them out!





May 22, 2012

Summer Bucket List


School is almost out around here, (11 more days!!), so as usual, it's up to me to come up with a plan for keeping the children from driving me bonkers happy.

I will probably try to do a daily plan like I did last year, but I want to do a few special things, too.

BUT, because we just bought a new (used) van, and now have a car payment, we will need scale down on activities that cost a lot of money.

{Read As: No beach vacation, no Disney vacation, no fun...}

And we've all seen those Summer Bucket Lists on Pinterest that have like 125 things to do on them. 

Well that's just ridiculous. 

There is absolutely no way that I am trying to come up with 125 different things.  I think if I get out of bed, and we make it to the pool, we've achieved success.

But I thought that ten was reasonable.  So here is my summer bucket list for stuff I want to do with our girls that I'm pretty sure we'll be able to accomplish!


10.  Columbus Zoo!  I have only ever been to the Cincinnati Zoo, but I have heard a gazillion people say how much better the Columbus Zoo is, so I really want to see for myself.

9.  Go Camping.  If you know me, you know I HATE CAMPING!!!!  But, my girls have been begging for several years now to go, and to be honest, pure guilt is my only motivation here.  I don't want to deprive them of something they might love, just because it's not my thing.  But rest assured that this will be a one night camping trip and it will be local.  I want to know that my bathroom and bed are close by.

8.  Go Hiking!  While I don't like camping at all, I LOVE hiking!  This year I want to do it more, and explore some places that we haven't been to before.

7.  Teach the girls to ride their bikes, without training wheels!  I know, it's actually embarrassing that we haven't taught our girls to do this yet.  We kind of earn the 'worst parent' award on this one.  But this is our year.  I feel it!

6.  Indianapolis Children's Museum!  We try to go here once a year, too.  My girls think this place is AMAZING...and they are kind of right.  They are always changing exhibits, so it's like a new experience each time. 

5.  Coney Island Amusement Park in Cincinnati! I remember going here when I was younger, and while it's no Kings Island or Cedar Point, it's still a fun place for kids. Plus, it's a lot less expensive than the other/bigger amusement parks.

4.  Have lots of bonfires and roast lots of marshmallows!  We have a fire pit, but we don't use it near enough.  This year, I am making it a priority to use it more often because the girls love it and it cost nothing!

3.  Have a Slumber Party!  Summer is lots of fun, but it's sad that the kids don't get to see their school friends as much.  So this year, we'll plan a big slumber party night for both girls and they can invite some of their school friends over to catch up.

2.  Make Homemade Ice Cream!  We actually got an ice cream maker as a gift when we got married, (almost 10 years ago).  It's still in the box.  Soooooo, the plan is to dig it out, and amaze my kids with the magic of homemade ice cream.

1.  Have a Lemonade Stand!  This one is actually already being planned.  We have some friends who are going to Africa to serve orphans and our house church is going to help the kids have a lemonade stand and bake sale to raise money for them.  I'm actually pretty excited about it!

What are some of the things that are on your Summer Bucket List??

I will be linking up with Many Little Blessing for Top Ten Tuesday and We Are THAT Family for WFMW.  Be sure to check them out!




May 21, 2012

House Projects and Other Stuff


Oh.  My.  Word.

It has been a looooong weekend. 

And not in the, "oh my gosh, we have extra days off school and work" kind of long.

Long in like, we had a TON of stuff going on.

In fact, the past 2 weeks have been like that. 

My brain is so fried that I can't even remember what I did the week before last, but last week was uniform fitting for cheer leading.

Every night I had to go and help parents size and fit their first through sixth grade daughters into bodysuits, spankies and sports bras. 

If that sounds like fun to you, then you have your own set of issues.

Actually, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, just time consuming.

And then on Friday, some kind of alien took over my body and decided it would be a great idea to paint my front door.  While 5 children were here.  While my husband was at work.

And then, as if that weren't enough, I decided to start pulling weeds and trimming bushes, too.

When my husband got home, he didn't know who this new woman was.  But since she was doing yard work, he decided to keep her and let the old wife go.

{I have a feeling she'll find her way back home, though...}

On Saturday, it was running errands, (with a stop off at the new frozen yogurt place for a treat!), and then back home to paint all the shutters, drag the patio furniture out of storage, and do more yard work.

Did you hear me?

PAINT ALL THE SHUTTERS!! 

And yes, I did it because according to my husband, "painting isn't his thing".  And BTW, he's right, because I have seen some of his handy work and it's actually worse than mine, which is saying something.

And then yesterday was church and then a nap while hubby mowed the lawn, (hey, I had to crash at some point), and then on to cheer/football meetings all evening. 

This morning, I was back at it.  I went to Home Depot to get more paint for the door trim and supplies to clear out the ivy in our front yard, (which I HATE!!!!).   And then I came home, got the kids lunch, and then started our dinner for tonight, which I am WAY excited about, (I'll share that recipe on Wednesday!). 

Whew, I may need another nap just writing all of that.

I'll share pics of the house when it's complete.

Let me re-phrase that.  Because I can assure you, it will NEVER be complete.

I'll post pics when the front of my house isn't embarrassing anymore.

There, that's about as honest as it gets.

May 15, 2012

A Smelly Situation: A Search for Kid Friendly Deodorant

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A while back some friends and I went out for dinner and they were talking about how their daughter's, (who are about the same age as Addy), needed to start wearing deodorant.

I was all, "Oh, Addy doesn't have that problem yet.  Good luck with all that."

And, of course, about 2 weeks later, Addy was sitting on my lap and I got a whiff of something that smelled like a boys locker room.

And since I was pretty sure she wasn't hanging out in the boys locker room, I knew our moment had come.

Time for deodorant.

I knew that she should definitely not be wearing antiperspirant, (because Deodorants neutralize odors while antiperspirant block pores), but beyond that, I didn't know what was okay for children to wear.

I did a little digging, and here's what I found out:

Aluminum, which is in most deodorants, is bad.  Apparently, the compounds can accumulate in the brain and it's been associated with Alzheimer's. Parabens are another thing to watch out for.  They have been linked to breast cancer, and since we have a family history already, I'm thinking we should definitely avoid those!  And Propylene  Glycol is a neurotoxin that can cause dermatitis, kidney and liver damage.  None of that sounds fun to me.   Basically, you should try to look for a deodorant with all natural ingredients.

So, with that info., I started searching. 

Wowzers!  Almost everything on the grocery shelf had those ingredients in it.  Even in the "Natural" section, almost every one of them had at least one, (mostly, Propylene Glycol). 

Sigh.  I ended up choosing one that *did* have Propylene Glycol, only because the two other choices without it had strong fragrances added which would have made my 8 year old little girl smell like a 60 year old sailor.   The brand is Kiss My Face and it is fragrance free. 

But I'm still not comfortable with it. 

So tell me, have you found one that you like that doesn't have any of these harmful ingredients?  If so, PLEASE SHARE! 

May 14, 2012

Mix It Up Monday: Maxi Skirt Love

First, let me say that I'm sorry about not really posting last week.

It was a little busy around here....teacher appreciation week (and I was one of 2 people in charge at my daughter's school), buying a new van and selling our old one, my husband worked late all week, my daughter had a big report due, and all the other normal craziness.

But enough about that...on to my latest obsession.

Maxi Skirts!

Well, technically, it's just Maxi SKIRT for now, because I just have one.

{But I'm hoping to change that sometime this week...}

I might be a little late to this party, but since Maxi dresses don't look right on me, I assumed that Maxi skirts were out too.

But, I found this skirt while shopping with my lovely friends last week and decided to give it a try.

Skirt: Marshall's, Tanks: Old Navy, Sweater: Target


I am in LOVE!  And if it were socially acceptable, I would wear it every.  single.  day.

Sandals: Target, Scarf: Charming Charlie


It is SUPER comfortable and completely no fuss at all.

I would like one in every color please.

And then I would like them to be my official uniform for summer.

Have you tried a Maxi Skirt?  Don't you just love them?

I will be linking up with Momma Go Round for RMRS and The Pleated Poppy for WIWW.  Be sure to check them out!


pleated poppy

Momma Go Round

May 8, 2012

DO'S and DON'TS for Mother's Day


Last week I wrote about my Ultimate Mother's Day.  I *think* my husband looked at it, but if not, I'm giving him another shot with this post.

And for the one other male that reads this blog, I am writing a list of things he SHOULD and SHOULDN'T do for Mother's Day.

1.  DON'T buy your wife an appliance or anything weight or exercise related!  Even if she asks, don't do it.  I promise you it's a trap. 

2.  DO let her sleep in.  After all, she has spent YEARS listening to you snore all night and has lost countless hours of sleep.

3.  DON'T ask her to plan her own day.  She pretty much has to plan everything else in your family's life, and this is her one day off.

4.  DO make reservations for breakfast/lunch/dinner!  You don't want to end up at home eating pizza for lunch.  I have learned this one the hard way :(

5.  DON'T leave her alone to take care of the kids.  For ANY reason.  For ANY amount of time.  She loves her kids, but on this particular day, she doesn't want to care for them.

6.  DO get her flowers.  I know that some women say they don't want flowers, but they're lying.  They'll say things like, "don't spend money on something like that", but you should know that the appropriate response is, "you are totally worth it!".

7.  DON'T complain or make the day about something else.  She doesn't want to hear about your sucky boss, or your car that isn't working, or that you're tired.  Again, this is her day.

8.  DO tell her what a great mom she is.  Be specific and make sure she knows you are paying attention to the hard job she does.  Because let's be honest, most days you aren't.

9.  DON'T get her a #1 Mom Mug...or any Mug for that matter.  Or any #1 Mom thing.  They're tacky, and she'll never really use it. 

10.  DO make sure she feels pampered all day long!

Any other things Men SHOULD or SHOULDN'T do for Mother's Day?  Let's hear them!

I'm linking up with Many Little Blessings and We Are THAT Family! 

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

May 7, 2012

And a Friend's A Friend Forever...

If you're singing the next part to that Michael W. Smith song, then you're as cool as I am.

Which isn't cool at all...sorry about that.

But the reason I am thinking about that song, (which, BTW, once in your head will take HOURS to get out!), is because I had a weekend full of friends, and it was Fabulous!

On Friday a few blogging friends, (OAMM, Shaded Jade, and Deals For Dayton), and I got together and had Dinner for Eight. 

When we went to Blissdom...


If you haven't heard of this fun little dinner, let me fill you in.

You get 4 couples, (or 8 people, however that works out), and each pair hosts dinner once per month.  When you are the host, you make the main dish and then hand out assignments for the other courses, which include recipes.  Then you all come together and have a fun evening of great food and good fun.  Or, in our case, great food and the most side splitting, pant wetting, can't breathe because you're laughing so hard kind of fun that you have ever had!

Once A Month Mom hosted this month and she had a Cinco de Mayo theme...(truth be told, I think she stole my idea from last week's post...just sayin').  It was really, really good.  And in case you were wondering, OAMM is the perfect host, and also Super funny!  It was JUST what I needed after a long and frustrating week.

And on Saturday, three of my best friends and I got together to celebrate Carrie's birthday.  We shopped, ate yummy food, shopped some more, got mani's and pedi's, ate more food, shopped some more...ya know, a perfect day!

last year at Amy's birthday


I love these ladies and all the crazy fun we have together.  And BOY have we had some crazy fun...



But  a weekend like this really makes me think about how blessed I am to have such amazing friends.  And I'm not talking about wishy washy friends who come and go, and who are there when it's convenient.

I'm talking about the kind of friends who are there for life.  They encourage me, cheer me on, accept me for who I am, challenge me, call me out when I need it, show me grace, pray for me, listen to me, and love me.

And I just couldn't be more grateful for their friendships. 

Hope you all had a great weekend too!

May 4, 2012

What's Up With Tanning Mom?


This looks totally normal, right?

So did you see this story in the news?

This mom, (allegedly), took her 5-year-old daughter to a tanning bed.

She says she didn't do it, that her daughter just got a sunburn outside.

And since she doesn't look obsessed with tanning at all, I totally believe her. 

(Just a little sarcasm)...

I mean, if she were chubbier, I would've thought she was trying out for an oompa loompa part.

Is this what we've come to?

That we're so concerned with being tan that we actually think this looks good, and that now our kids should start tanning too?

It's CRAZY! 

Let me hear you thoughts on this. 

Do you tan?  Do you think we should let kids tan?  How far is too far?

May 3, 2012

Awkward and Awesome Thursday

Awesome:

Last weekend we went to dinner with some friends and then had them back here to watch Jim Gaffigan's new comedy special, Mr. Universe.

It.  Was.  Hilarious.

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I was laughing so hard that at one point I was sure that I was going to stop breathing.  If you need a good laugh, be sure to download it, (it's not available in stores or on TV).

Also Awesome:

Our House Church.  We attend a local church that we love, but we also attend a weekly home church in our community.  It is similar to a small group, but different in that we have a meal together, we have worship time, we study The Bible together, we do communion together, we do children's lessons...it really is more like an actual church (just really casual and less organized).

But I LOVE our House Church.  It's not always easy, and sometimes it's downright difficult.  But the way God uses it to change me and grow me as a person is beyond what I could have imagined.  Our marriage is better because of it, our parenting is better and my walk with Jesus is better.  I am so thankful for this group of people.

Awkward:

When my girls ask where baby's come from, I have always told them that when a man and woman get married, they pray to God for a baby.  Then, He puts one in the mommy's belly or in another mommy's belly for them to adopt.  Then, when it's time, you either go to the hospital and your baby is born or you go get it from the lady who had your baby.

So the other day, my five-year-old was talking about babies and weddings and asked what would happen if your baby came before or on your wedding day.

Hmmmm, this could get tricky, I thought.

I said, "well, that could happen, but usually mommy's and daddy's get married first and then pray for the baby."

"But what happens if God wants you to have the baby first?" she asked.

"Well, God usually likes it if the mommy's and daddy's are married first" I say

"Yeah, but why do some mommy's and daddy's have their baby before they get married?" she asks.

Me quickly trying to think of an age appropriate answer...

"Hey, guess what, I bought new fruit snacks yesterday.  Want one?"

"Yep" she says.

And that was the end of that.

May 2, 2012

Putting My Kids Back In Diapers



It.  Never.  Ever.  Fails.

We're going out to lunch or dinner with friends

We get to the restaurant and just as I am getting into a really good conversation, (you know, after we have figured out seating, found ways to keep them busy and occupied, cut their food, encouraged them to eat, cleaned up their mess, taken a breath and started to eat my own meal), one of my girls says, "I have to go potty."

I think they hate me.

My heart sinks and my blood boils.

Don't they realize that this is my off duty time?  Couldn't they tell that I was enjoying myself?  Didn't they notice that this was the first adult conversation that I had gotten to have all day?

They don't even care.

I want to scream.  Like in a really loud and ugly way.  I want to yell, "didn't I tell you to go before we left the house?"

But I can't, because I don't want the reign of judgement from all the good parents.

So I get up and take them.

But I am annoyed. 

Like really annoyed.

So I have my own version of a temper tantrum and hurry them through it, and just as I sit back down, take a bite and try to figure out where we were in our conversation, the other child pops up and whadoyouthink she has to say?!

I need to go potty.

Why is The Lord punishing me?

I wasn't going to gossip.  I had no wrong intentions.  I just wanted to eat a hot meal, discuss Pinterest and find out when Brangelina is getting married.

But it's not meant to be.

I take her, and after we return, everyone is packing up to go.

Once again, they win. 

So, would it be wrong to put my 8 and 5 year olds back into diapers?



May 1, 2012

Ten Great Recipes For Cinco De Mayo


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So do you have BIG PLANS for Cinco de Mayo?

If not, go ahead and make some!

Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, celebrates the Mexican army's victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War.  Here in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become a celebration of Mexican culture...and Margarita's.

So invite some friends over, make some yummy food and drinks and listen to some great salsa music!  Here are a few recipes to help you get started:


1.  This Recipe for Savory Mexican Cornbread!  Yummy!!!
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2.  Throw together an easy Taco Salad.  In a bowl,  mix lettuce, cooked and cooled taco meat, chopped tomatoes, a can of drained corn, a can of drained and rinsed black beans, cheddar cheese and tortilla chips.  Serve with Ranch dressing drizzled over top.  You could also do a Layered Taco Salad if you wanted to make it pretty.  Get a clear glass bowl, and start by layering the lettuce on the bottom, then the taco meat, chopped tomatoes, corn, black beans, cheddar cheese, and then crushed tortilla chips or strips on top.




3.  The best Guacamole you've ever had!

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4.  A refreshing Raspberry Margarita...just add 2 oz. of tequila, 2 oz. or pureed raspberries (make sure to strain it to remove seeds first!), 2 oz of simple syrup, and a splash of lime juice and a splash of OJ.  Mix it all together and serve over crushed ice or if you prefer frozen, blend it all with ice.  Serve with a sugar rimmed glass.

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5.  This recipe for Sopapillas sounds fabulous!

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6.  Fajitas anyone?  Try this recipe!

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7.  Authentic Mexican Rice will be a new favorite for sure!

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8.  Want to spend more time with your guests?  Use your slow cooker and make this yummy recipe for Enchilada Soup!  Place 2 frozen chicken breasts in the bottom of your crock pot.  In a bowl, combine 1 10oz. can of red enchilada sauce, 1 10.5 oz. can of cream of chicken soup, and 1 cup of chicken broth.  Pour that over the chicken and cook on low 5-6 hours.  Remove the chicken and shred.  Then replace the chicken and add 8oz. of shredded cheddar and mix it in until it is completely melted.  Serve with tortilla chips on top and additional cheese, tomatoes etc. if desired.

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9.  Try this copycat of Chili's Salsa!


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10.  Taco dip is always a hit!  Spread 1 jar of refried beans in the bottom of a 13X9 dish.  Mix 1 16 oz. container of sour cream with 1 packet of taco seasoning.  Spread on top of beans.  Then sprinkle shredded lettuce over sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese over lettuce.  Top with chopped tomatoes, olives and serve with tortilla chips.

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So tell me, which of these recipe's would you be most likely to try??

I will be linking up with Many Little Blessings for Top Ten Tuesday and We Are THAT Family for Works for Me Wednesday.  Be sure to check them out!

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings