Monday, December 31, 2012

Out With The Old

So it's new years eve and I'm trying to put the house back together after Christmas and purge some of our complete excess. The kids got so much for Christmas. We got so much. We added to how much we had. We decided to get rid of a piece of furniture and realized how much junk it was storing. I picked up my diaper bag the other day and realized I am carrying around the weight of an additional child. Yikes! I picked an extra roomy diaper bag because I knew I would need to haul a lot of stuff... but really I don't need to keep the junk. Yes I do keep a change of clothes for both boys, my little coupon holder and some emergency snacks but among other things I was carrying around:
  • 6 pens
  • 2 ketchup packets and one ranch cup
  • 3 lip glosses and a lip stick
  • 3 coupons for Goodwill
  • a size 5 diaper (Lincoln hasn't been in them in months)
  • sunscreen
  • several grocery lists and store receipts
  • at least 5 baby toys
  • about 1/4 cup worth of assorted cereal, snack and trail mix bits in the bottom of the bag

I like being prepared but next year I am going to resolve to not over do it and make more work for myself.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Cheapest yet Yummiest Dinner Of All Time

Brown Rice and Lentil Casserole. I stole the recipe from an old blog but also found it at $5 Dinners and it is so easy, so cheap, healthy and delicious. I also double the recipe, putting the dry ingredients in one bag and the chopped onion in another and it freezes for an extra quick meal to throw together. It takes a while to cook but it is all hands off time! Also if you are on WIC this meal is practically free. On $5 Dinners she breaks down the cost of the meal which is less than $2. For the whole thing! Plus you could use vegetable stock and it is a great option for a vegetarian family too.
It doesn't really look appealing in pictures so I will spare you the awkward blog photo, but just try it. It's what's for dinner tonight!

3 cups broth (chicken or vegetable) 
3/4 cups green lentils, although any color will do 
1/2 cup brown rice 
1/2 yellow onion, chopped 
2 tsp Italian seasoning 
1 tsp garlic powder 
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 300.
2. Add broth, lentils, brown rice, chopped onion, and spices to 9×13-inch glass baking dish. Stir together and cover tightly with foil.
3. Bake at 300 for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
4. Remove foil and sprinkle shredded cheese over the top and return to oven and bake uncovered for 20 more minutes, or until cheese is completely melted.
5. Steam broccoli in stovetop steamer or in a microwavable dish covered with plastic wrap for 4-5 mintues.
6. Serve Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole with Steamed Broccoli.

Little Man Calling the Shots

I was wondering why my life seems a little crazy lately and I finally figured out why. I have a short, mute, little man calling the shots. Mom here reporting for duty from mission control. 

He even lets me know how to cook in the kitchen.

Actually I have three little men that think they should all be the boss... oh man.

Crafty Christmas Snack Hot Chocolate Bar and Snow Flake Sandwiches

Ok both of these are a little cheaty because they are so easy, but making something ordinary seem special is one of the things that is magical about Christmastime. So I got out the fancy table cloths and pulled out all the stops to make a fun after-school hot chocolate bar. We had marshmallow bits, mini marshmallows, white chocolate chips, sprinkles, candy canes and whipped cream. Oh yeah!

Dylan made sure to fill his to the brim.

And because I'm running low on energy we had snowflake sandwiches. I took one giant marshmallow and flattened and pulled out the corners to make a star. Then the mini marshmallows in the corners followed by marshmallow bits around that. Cute and not too fussy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Playing (and learning) in the Snow

Yay! We finally got more snow since that random stuff back in October. After taking what felt like and hour but was probably closer to twenty minutes we were all bundled and headed out to play in the snow. I had to take a picture of Warner making his first snow angel. Lincoln didn't want to sit still because he had too much exploring to do. Plus a snowflake got in Warner's eye so he wasn't too happy about this situation either. But I had to get a picture because I remember doing the same thing with Linc when he was a baby. So funny to see how they change, or how similar the are!

Warner on left and Lincoln on right 12/14/12

Lincoln on left and Dylan on right 11/23/10

We practiced making foot prints. We figured out which one was Mommy's and which one was Lincoln's by what size they were. We made foot prints in straight lines. We made circle footprints. I even made a flower. I tried to hype up making Lincoln's first snowman. He was all about it until I got an inch or two off the ground and then he kept wanting to kick it down so I gave up and moved on to writing in the snow. We made cool designs with pointy pinecones. I wrote out his name and then all the kids' names. He thought it was pretty cool. And then he was done. 

I kept Warner in the stroller where he could watch everything but I could still play with Lincoln.

Playing in the road, this kid always pushes the limits!


No Sew T-Shirt Headbands

Lincoln didn't want to be part of this situation.
Ugh I have been growing out my bangs for all of Warner's life and they are killing me. Lucking the high ballerina bun trend has assisted in me getting them out of my face but I was ready for a change. Insert the amazing headband idea here. Seriously, what could be easier. I had planned to sew them and even found great idea on Pinterest... but getting the sewing machine out with the boys awake and trying to keep them off of it just didn't sound fun at all. So what did I do? Pull out the trusty glue gun. Yup, I made two head bands with a few scraps of old shirts, a button and a glue gun. Plus I had a few rosettes left from the crafty wreath earlier this month. They are almost even cute enough to give away as a crafty Christmas gift. Except I don't have anything like it and want to keep them for myself!

  •  First you measure your head or figure out how much fabric it will take to wrap around your head snugly. Also when you stretch the material, it will naturally curl in a little so make sure that side is outward so it can curl a little around your head rather than underneath and be a constant pain. 
  • Then I put it on my head and figured out where I wanted the doodad to go on the band and made a little mark. I glued that part on first. 
  • After a minute to let it set up I overlapped the ends and added a small strip of glue to whatever side would end up on the inside. Press the two sides together and smooth out. And that's it. You are done. 

Glitter spray paint: a cheap way to jazz up anything.

I also used glitter spray paint on the rosette to give it a little sparkle. Hey I have three boys, I need a little girly in my life!

Now he's in the headband bandwagon.

Two models, obviously!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Wrapping Made Easier

I am not a late night, Christmas Eve kind of wrapper. I mean if I rapped about Christmas I would be a pretty cool mom I guess... but when it comes to wrapping I do a little here and a little there. Getting out the tape from one drawer, the scissors from another and then the ribbon from the closet gets tiring pretty quick especially if I want to bang out a present or two during nap time or some other time I get five minutes to myself. Enter my wrapping bag. Sure you can use a cute basket to blend with the decor, or use whatever you have. Now I can practically wrap on the run. My kit includes tape, scissors, a pen, gift tags and ribbon. I've also thrown the bows in now too. I also put in wrapping paper scraps because I always seem to find something tiny to wrap at a later time. 

Of course if you give ribbon to your baby to occupy him for just a second, you will end up with a mess like this. But hey you got one thing done right?

Crafty Christmas Snack Santa Hat Brownies

Oh man these were just as good as they looked! I used the best brownie recipe from the hershey kitchen online so they always turn out scrumptious and then I added a little Christmas flare. I've seen this done with strawberries but the raspberries were a better deal this week so they worked perfectly. I didn't have a small round cookie cutter so I used a heart which works fine since the boys didn't actually care how the looked, just how quickly they could eat them. So it's brownie, spray whipped cream, raspberry, and white chocolate chip. You could probably use a little whipped cream to "glue" the chocolate chip to the top if desired. 

Mommy Love

So lucky to get cuddles from these boys!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

We love chicken in our house because it is yummy, very versatile and somewhat affordable. It is also Shane's meat of choice for his "tone and sculpt" plan. (ok so I just love how special he is and really I am not making fun of him) I generally try to find boneless, skinless chicken for less than $2 a pound. These days it is getting increasingly difficult, even looking into Zycon or Costco so when I found some for $2.30/lb I got all the had... two packages. I frozen one because Shane will BBQ that for lunches on the weekend. With the other package, which I think was about 3.5 pounds or 5/6 breasts, I was able to look on the monthly menu plan and figure out what chicken type dinners I had coming up and chop from there. Since the breasts are usually very thick I slice them in half, like a top and bottom part. Then I either chopped up into bite sized pieces or froze whole. For less than $9 in chicken I made four meals that will serve at least two adults and two children.

Parmesan Chicken (which actually served 5 adults and 2 kids, and enough for a leftover lunch too!)
I cut the halved breasts in half (except one that was a little smaller) and dipped in 1/2 cup flour, then egg, then 2/3 cup parmesan and italian breadcrumb mixture. I sauteed on both sides for a few minutes until golden brown then turned down to medium low and dumped a jar of spaghetti sauce and covered to simmer for about 20 minutes. Add shredded cheese or parmesan on top and serve over spaghetti noodles.

Chicken Stuffing in the Crock Pot 
Make packaged stuffing as directed on package (these are super cheap during the holidays) and spread into greased slow cooker. You can also add raisins or other fruit you have on hand at this point if desired. Lay out the four chicken breasts on top of the stuffing and slather on apricot jam or some other sweet glaze. Cook on high for three hours or until the chicken is cooked through.

Chicken and Dumplings
Sauté chicken with carrots, onion and celery in large pot until cooked through. Add at least two cups chicken broth (or two boullion cubes and two c. water), salt and pepper, rosemary, basil and garlic and simmer for 30 minutes. You can also add whatever frozen vegetables you want to use up or even potatoes for a heartier dish. To make dumplings I use about 1 c. four, 1/2 t. salt, 1 t. baking soda and 2/3 c. milk. Add more flour if it seems too runny. Plop the dough in the pot by the spoonful and cover for another 15 minutes. The dumpling dough will make the soup seem nice and creamy without adding any cream.

Chicken and Peanut Noodles
Sauté chicken on medium high heat with 1 T. oil. Add chopped onions, chopped carrots and maybe a zucchini or pepper or other harder vegetable. Once cooked through remove from pan. Add equal parts soy sauce, vinegar, and chicken broth (maybe 2 tablespoons each or more). Add 1/4 cup peanut butter. This is one of the few times I will actually use crunchy because the pieces of nuts add interest. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once a sauce forms add back in chicken and vegetables and simmer for 10 minutes. If you have sugar snap peas around, add them at this point too. Serve over spaghetti noodles.

Marshmallows and Cheerios: Fine Motor Activity

Since it is the holiday season we have a plethora of marshmallows in the house. Sure I buy them for s'mores in the summer but I don't usually have three (3!) different types at one time. There are the big jumbo ones because we are going to make snowmen snacks out of them. We have the mini ones for normal hot chocolate and 3D house building with toothpicks. I also found these cute little ones just because I can't get over how tiny they are. So Lincoln likes to think that marshmallows make good snacks and also like to think that he can just help himself in the kitchen. He got a whole bowl of dry cheerios out for himself yesterday so I got out the toothpicks and mini mallows and let him get to work. This activity helps with fine motor skills while keeping a busy boy entertained. I forget he still has little chubby toddler hands so the pictures turned out extremely adorable in my opinion. I have a strange fixation with pictures of my kids hands being cute (If you remember my photography final two years ago) so I kept taking pictures. 

The toothpick was just short enough to stay interesting until it was full. 

Oh yum yum

Lincoln wanted to skip the Cheerios after a while and just stick marshmallows on the ends.

And of course take a break and eat some too.
Check out the concentration - tongue sticking out!

What a happy boy. I promise his haircut doesn't look that bad in real life.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Make Some Noise

Warner is a screecher, he likes to make loud noise... I think just to fit in with everyone else. He just learner how to control some of the noise he makes and luckily I was able to catch a bit of it on camera :)

Warner Month Seven

Seven months. Seven Months! My baby is seven months old. That is more than half a year. Where is the time going? I'm not sure but being grouchy or wishing I had more sleep isn't the answer so I'm working hard this month on being intentional with my time with each boy, being playful and being generous to the people around us. 
Warner is such a delightful baby. He is easy going (except when someone else is holding him and I come in the room) and likes to see and do what his brothers are doing. He is smiley and cuddly. He is also teething so that makes for fun when he thinks I am a teether while he is eating. He screams, but he thinks it is for fun. He is just learning the "if I drop it, Mommy will pick it up" game. He likes staring at the Christmas tree and the ceiling fan. His favorite things to play with are things that make a crinkly sound or his little rubber toy snake - since it is so good to chew on. 
He likes to eat little baby snacks broken in half but just can't quite get them in his mouth yet. He just figured out splashing in the bath and that's a whole new world of fun. He gives kisses and plays peekaboo with me but he's just not ready to sleep through the night yet. I also had to break out the 12 month clothes just to dig out sleepers because he was literally breaking open the snaps in the middle of the night, I guess because he is so big. He doesn't seem that big to me but hey I can argue with a sleeper that has come off the legs... like this:

So I forgot to put my 7 month sticker out during our professional photo shoot but by the time I realized Shane thought I had already put the boy through enough torture and decided to scrap it and just remember this was his time. Luckily, just like his brothers, Warner hammed it up for the camera and gave me some over-the-top pictures. 

Something over there was very interesting (maybe the dog) but you can sure see his hair coming in here.

Big smiles and big blue eyes.

He's starting to fill up the chair a little more eh?
My sister blogs too (although mainly baby updates now because Luke is about as fun as Lincoln is) and  it is almost unbelievable that her baby is going to be One in a few more weeks. This time is so rewarding but that seriously I can't believe our babies are growing so fast. Lincoln is not a baby anymore. He's barely even a toddler still. I can have -almost- adult conversations with Dylan. Ah time slow down!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Staying Busy on a December Weekend

Well we've been staying busy even as the temperatures start to drop. Shane has been working like a mad man so I've been trying to keep the boys busy at home during the week. Lincoln thought it was pretty awesome to poke pipe cleaners through the holes in a colander and even cleaned them up himself, by taking them into his room and throwing them on the floor. 
Man that kid never wears a shirt
Shane spent the weekend fighting a cold so we got out of the house and went to a benefit for the local food bank where the kids could bounce around in bounce castle type things and make crafts. It was great to take them to a store and let the boys pick out a bag full of food to donate. I brought my camera but didn't even take it out of the diaper bag because I spent the whole time wrangling Lincoln and bouncing Warner in the front pack. Lincoln isn't a meek kid if you've ever seen him so I am struggling with trying to keep him with me / stand in line / listen in crowded places. He just wants to be independent and holding my hand when we walk out to the car sounds nothing like fun to him. We also think Warner is teething (I swear I can see a little white poking through but he won't let me get a good look) so he hasn't been the happiest of babies but is doing well. 
We had the in-laws and my dad over for dinner on Saturday night and it was so fun to make a nice dinner and hang out with everyone and pass the baby round. He hasn't been napping long or sleeping well at night (worse than his typical not sleeping), so I think since there is absolutely nothing on my calendar this week I am going to try to take it easy and just do little by little rather than "doing it all" like I like to think I can. A few presents wrapped here, a few treats baked there. I do have to run into town one day this week but I'm going to try to get it all done once so I don't have to run in just for bananas like last week *thanks babe* 

Serious Warner

Friday, December 7, 2012

Crafty Christmas Inexpensive Gifts

I was going to say cheap gifts... but hopefully the receiver of the gift doesn't think so, so inexpensive to me just means that the person giving would rather spend time on thought rather than money, right? So here are just a few of the things I have been up to lately... Still have a few more ideas to finish but I am getting close and with only 18 days left, it's about time!

Iron on transfers. I love them. They are so fun! And I love personalizing things. So my previous experiences haven't been 100% great with transfers but hey I'm not selling my stuff to the public so I think it's ok. I used them to make two tote bags (luckily the receiver of the aunt bag below is not my sister Jackie... so don't get your hopes up!) a super hero cape and a baby gift. If you search printable transfers or iron-ons there are tons of cute ideas everywhere. Next time I buy transfer paper I am getting clear though because the white didn't work as great as I had hoped but still ok. Out of two pieces of paper I was able to squeeze enough things for four gifts. 

Because every little boy needs a cape made out of his moms' old tube top. Yes I actually have wore a tube top in my pre-nursing/kids day. I haven't hemmed up the edges or anything so if he actually ends up using this after Christmas I will clean it up a little. Plus it took me like 20 minutes total to make including typing the template, cutting said shirt and ironing on. I did throw it in the laundry room because Dylan walked in the door, but it still worked out great. 
And finally a little something for myself. I saw this great idea for grapevine wreaths and knew I had seen some at the Dollar Tree recently. So I went and picked some (maybe I made some as gifts, you will never know!) and a spool of ribbon, of course for $1. I followed the tutorial on the website using an old t-shirt that no longer covers the mom pooch and a pair of Christmas socks to make the fabric blooms and ta-da, what a cute, and cheap way to liven up our door way. Plus since I didn't spray pain the wreath silvery and glittery like I was thinking about, it can last a few seasons, or all year long!

Crafty Christmas Snack Pizza Dough Shapes

So I doubled my first ever attempt at pizza dough in the bread machine with a recipe I found here and it turned out great. So great that I made it again the next day when I had friends coming over for lunch. Easy and quick (other than the 2.5 hours the machine does the work). I handed a chunk to Dylan and one to Lincoln and let them get to work. Dylan decided to make a candy cane so we put red colored sprinkles on one of the snakes and then twirled it around a plain one and easy, done. Lincoln wanted a Christmas tree (thankfully red and green were the only colors of sprinkles I had so I didn't have to get too creative) so I made a triangle shape and let him go wild. Notice he is fully clothed for once in this picture. 
Letting them do their own thing and trying not to micromanage.

Posing with their final products.

Momentary brotherly love. 

And this is how Lincoln waited to get his snack out of the oven. He just decided he was ready for a bath.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Crafty Christmas Wise Men Writing Prompt

So I created and am sharing my first downloadable pdf file. Whoohoo I am learning more every day. Don't laugh because seriously I am learning all of this by googling for help so it takes a while. 

First the boys and I read the book The Three Wise Guys by Mike Thaler which is a hilarious tale of kids in a Christmas play and their view of the three wise men's trek to visit baby Jesus. We also talked about the actual Christmas story and how they are similar and different. Afterward I had these print outs ready for the boys to write what they would bring if they were there. Lincoln said he would bring a pencil and a present. Dylan said he would bring a teddy bear because he can snuggle with it. What a thoughtful boy :)

If you are interested you can click on the link below to download and print.

Crafty Christmas Snack Celery Trees

So I'm new to Pinterest but it has been fun and helpful looking for Christmas type snacks. I saw lots of posts for trees using green grapes or green olives but I didn't have either nor did I want to spend the money to buy some when I had perfectly good celery going on the verge of getting chopped and frozen. So first I made a snow scene with cream cheese. Then I sliced all the celery in half length wise and then in half width wise, it's easier for my boys to eat this way and makes a better tree too. Then I cut a star out of cheese and a cheese trunk (but I'm not sure why I did that now) and cut up turkey pepperoni to be the ornaments. Plus I added little footprints to the cream cheese because I love the book The Snowy Day and it reminded me of it.
Dylan ate all the pepperoni before Lincoln woke up from his nap but I gave him more later. Both of the boys actually ate it up. Also instead of "ants on a log" with the traditional celery, peanut butter and raisins, sometimes we make spiders on a stump or some other silly name with celery, cream cheese and dried cranberries. It is yummy since I'm not a huge peanut butter fan myself. I bet the pepperoni could easily be replaced by dried cranberries or even M&Ms or something more colorful.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

Or if you give your baby a bite of pudding, he’ll grunt for another. Then when you give him another you will laugh out loud because he is so cute and realize that no one else is around and you kind of look like a lunatic laughing at your baby. Then because you are worried that you are turning into a lunatic you take out your camera to document the occasion because you think your husband might be sad he missed such a funny thing in your youngest and final child’s life. Then you keep wondering why your camera won’t take a picture, but it’s because you are still in video mode from taking a video of your baby sword fighting. Then you get the pictures, show your husband and realize that he thinks it’s cute but not as much as you hoped, so you get on your blog and share it with the world because you know someone else out there will appreciate the cuteness that is a baby with pudding face. Then you have more pudding. warner punning 2Warner pudding 3

A Month of Thanksgiving: Day 25 - 30

Day 25
I am thankful for the sweet voices of my children and the hilarious (to me) things they say. Lincoln has trouble pronouncing a few letter sounds still so when he says something as simple as I love you Uncle Josh is comes out “I huve you unka dosh.” He has special names for his brothers Bobie and Dub. He says things like “that’d be cool” and “dehicious” or delicious. When he is not telling me no or waking up in a cranky mood almost everything out of his mouth melts my heart. Dylan is actually getting witty in his  7 years of living and I’m not sure if he knows it yet. My mom is soon to be married and when I was talking to him he sang “first comes love, then comes marriage… and that’s where it stops.” Oh man I was laughing. Warner isn’t talking yet but his little coos and gigantic squeals are sure fun.
Day 26
I am thankful for coffee. Yes. I love it. I think I have a problem especially since I am still exclusively nursing Warner but I just can’t help myself. Plus Shane is an enabler. I’ve gotten past Starbucks and their magical draw since my lifestyle has changed but a carmel latte is still dear to my heart. It’s drip for this girl. Plus I love flavored creamer with my steaming warm cup of comfort. I would drink it all  day if I could but I really try to keep it to 2 cups. Lincoln likes to think he likes it too. Please disregard the toilet paper wrist cuffs he has been wearing for two days straight. I think he thinks they have to do with boxing and punching is cool in his mind.
Day 27
I am thankful for Thanksgiving. Yes it’s a little cliché but the holiday really helps people around me be thankful which reminds me how much I really have. Plus it is a great holiday for food which we all know is something I am into. It is a time for the family to get together. Everything about the holiday smells good (except giblets cooking which is a little gaggy) from the pie to the turkey to the apple cinnamon candles I can’t seem to get enough of. Even the fall colors are dear to me. Plus there are cute little productions like this.Mrs. Taylor's ClassDSC03048
Day 28
I am thankful for the weather. I am not fond of rainy days on end but after all the wild fires we had this summer I swore to myself that I wouldn’t cures the rain… this winter at least. I am thankful that we do get warm sunny days in the middle of fall.. or is it winter technically yet? I am thankful for the peaceful serenity that new fallen snow has on my special neighborhood. I am thankful for the rain that means I don’t have to go out and water my plants. I am thankful that Ellensburg has all 4 seasons so I can enjoy each one and then get sick of it and wait for the next to come.
Day 29
I am thankful for clothing. I used to be a t-shirt and jeans every single day kind of girl. My mom said I went through a sweatshirt phase where she got a little worried for me. Thankfully now I appreciate trying to look good (most days when I have showered or I know that my husband will be around) and keeping myself comfortably clothed and modest enough. I am thankful that my boys aren’t fussy about what they wear and get dressed. Except Lincoln who has taken a liking to just wearing sneakers and basketball shorts around the house all day. I am thankful for fashion blogs like or this one about remixing the wardrobe you have, where I can read about how to try to look more put together even though I mainly just fix peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pick up toys all day long. Plus I am thankful that I actually fit into the size 7 jeans I bought for myself online for Christmas and stressed for a week that I should have gotten a bigger size. Here are a couple pictures of me trying to look fashionable and then the boys basic uniform (even at 6 months) jeans and t-shirts.
Day 30
I am thankful for Christmas. It is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a time to sing Christmas carols, decorate up the house, bake until our eyeballs fall out, to have marathon wrapping sessions, to have holiday parties and watch great movies. We have so many great ideas about Christmas that I am going to do a bunch of posts about that too. Yippie bring on the holly and mangers I’m ready to party!