Thank you for stopping by! Here you will find a variety of things as I post whatever happens to be going on in our home - recipes, crafts, homeschool, birthday parties, travels, meals in muffin tins and more! I'd love to know what you think so please feel free to leave comments!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

Time for a menu plan! I've been doing a great job at planning but not so great with putting it on here. Things are finally starting to slow down a little bit, so I might be able to get around to doing a few of the things I've been letting slide - like blogging! Anyhow, here's what will be on our table this week:

     B: French Toast, Sausage
     L: Mini Grilled Cheese, carrot sticks with ranch, strawberries
     D: Bunless Cheeseburgers, Potato Salad, Apple Carrot Slaw w/ lemon chia dressing

     B: Eggs & Bacon, Orange Wedges
     L: Leftover Slaw & Potato Salad
     D: Chicken Chimichangas, Beans, Guacamole Salad, Salsa

     B: Oatmeal, Fruit, Boiled Eggs
     L: Beef Fried Rice & Veggies
     D: Grilled Steaks, Baked Potatoes, Honey Glazed Carrots

     B: Pancakes, Sausage, Fruit
     L: Avocado Egg Salad Sandwiches, Fruit Salad, Celery Sticks
     D: Sweet & Sour Chicken, Rice, Broccoli, Pineapple

     B: Yogurt, Fruit & Granola Parfaits, Boiled Eggs
     L: Chicken & Cheese Quesadillas
     D: Salmon, Zucchini Rice Casserole, Green Beans

     B: Eggs & Bacon, Grapefruit
     L: Tuna Salad, Leftover Zucchini Caserole
     D: Deer Roast, Roasted Potatoes &Carrots

     B: Oatmeal, Boiled Eggs, Fruit
     L: Easter Dinner North (my family)
     D: Easter Dinner South (hubby's family)

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Monday, April 7, 2014

An End to Innocence

    Today is an anniversary day for me, though not one that I celebrate. Today, April 7th, is the anniversary of my last day of innocence. An innocence in which everything turns out the way we think it’s supposed to be. Life is lovely, filled with possibility and futures to be planned. Happily-ever-after exists and each approaching new day promises excitement and wonder. For me, that fantasy ended on April 8th, 2003.
    I was five months pregnant with our first child - a child we struggled nine long years to conceive. We woke up early and excitedly got ready to go to the hospital’s imaging department for the first glimpses at the little life growing in me. My heart was swelling with joy as I anticipated seeing a tiny heart beating and those 10 precious fingers and 10 precious toes.
    Moments into the ultrasound, I sensed there was a problem. I pretended not to notice how quiet the technician was. I forced myself to pretend like it was a normal thing for the technician to excuse herself from the room only minutes after starting what was supposed to be a half hour long event. Panic was welling up inside me but I made myself remain calm as I prayed that everything was going to be fine. After 15 agonizing minutes, the technician came in again and told me we were done and I could head to my doctor’s office which was located in another wing of the hospital. We saw no images of a beautiful, active, tiny person moving on the screen. No heart beating. No fingers. No toes.
    As we made our way through the halls, we both knew there was something terribly wrong though neither of us could even begin to speak it. We sat in the waiting room for another 30 minutes. Waiting. Praying. Hoping.
    Finally, sitting in front of the doctor’s desk, we heard the words. "Your baby has died." It echoed in my head. I only remember snippets of the conversation from then on. He gave us our options for how to proceed and we left the hospital in the deepest grief we had ever known. Physically, I knew what I would be doing in the coming days, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to emotionally get through everything that was coming. I wept that entire night.
    When morning came, we quietly drove back to the hospital, dreading the coming hours. I was induced into labor and later that day, gave birth to a beautiful, silent, tiny, baby boy. I marveled at how perfectly formed his little body was. Tiny fingers, tiny toes, tiny mouth, tiny nose. Perfect save for one thing. Silent and still, I held him. We wept over him. We named him Alexander. The nurse dressed him in a tiny white gown that was made and donated by a volunteer from the area. The nurse took pictures of our son and then brought him back to us one last time before taking him to the morgue.
    My heart had been filled with the excitement and joy of expecting the birth of a child but two days later, my heart was broken and stricken with grief. We buried our son on April 12, 2003 in a tiny, white casket, covered with miniature blue and white carnations. Leaving the cemetery that day, knowing my son’s little body would stay there forever was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I was a mother who would never see her child grow up. There would be no diaper changes, no sweet giggles, no first words, no memories to be made, no sight of him again on this side of heaven.
    Only by the grace of God did I manage to make it through those days, weeks, months - though, I was never the same. Those around me were disappointed that I didn’t snap back to my old self, but that woman died the moment the words came out of the doctor’s mouth. The person that I am today was born in the days that followed those words. I became a woman who desperately needed to lean on her Heavenly Father to make it through the rest of life. My days of happy innocence were gone. Though I went on to have two living children, I wasn’t able to fully experience the joys of pregnancy. I worried about all the things that could go wrong. I needed constant assurance that the little one growing in my womb was okay. I didn’t breathe a sigh of relief until the day that I held each of those little ones in my arms and saw the life in their eyes and heard their newborn cries. And even then, I still worried about what might go wrong. Honestly, I still have days when fear tries to take over and trusting God seems to be an impossible feat.
    It’s been 11 years since I experienced that last day of innocence. Since then, I’ve been able to have moments of joy that I never imagined could have happened while I was living out those days of grief. While the innocence is gone, joy never left me. It was just hidden for a time. There are still days when my grief flows as fresh as it did that day when I held my silent child. Days when my mind briefly wanders to what life might be like today with an 11 year old boy added to the mix. I wonder if he would have had the same gentle and loving spirit as his younger siblings. If he would have had the same fiery hair and fair complexion. If he would have the same love of life and learning. But, the Father gently reminds me that all life is but a moment on this earth. This place is not my home. It’s just a stop on the way. I miss him terribly, but Alexander is waiting for me in my true home. And there, joy, like none other, will never get lost behind grief.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Muffin Tin Monday - Groundhog Day

Every year, the kiddos and I wake up extra early in order to watch some of the spectacle that is Groundhog Day. We watch it from the warmth of our house, on television, because I don't think I will ever be willing to stand amongst 25,000 people in the freezing cold for hours and hours in order to see the whole 15 seconds of Punxsutawny Phil being thrust up in the air before he "chooses" a scroll which spells out our meteorological fate for the coming 6 weeks. I do, however, thoroughly enjoy watching it on tv. From the fireworks at 6:30 AM to the crazy men singing popular tunes with the lyrics changed to pay homage to the ground dwelling critter to the Pennsylvania Polka being played as the festivities end - I'm down with all of it. For that short time, I will even make comments about how cute the most famous groundhog in the country looks. My opinion of groundhogs does, however, change quite a bit in the spring when the local beasties start to lay waste to my garden. 

Anyhow, in order to celebrate the fun that is Groundhog Day (even though he saw his shadow) I decided on a Groundhog Day themed Muffin Tin Monday! Here is what was in the tin this week:

Punxsy Phil PB sandwiches (tortilla rounds with peanut butter, candy eyes, blueberry nose and cheese whiskers and teeth), broccoli trees, pretzel sticks & cashews to represent things a groundhog might eat (they eat plants and bits of trees) and blueberry applesauce & pom plum juice to represent the darkness of the shadow Phil saw.

The kids really enjoyed the Groundhog Day theme and gobbled everything down. Well, Micah skipped the broccoli. No big surprise there. I'd share pics of the kids with their meals but the 4000+ photos on my phone are making it difficult for me. I think I need to spend some time uploading some pics!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tiny Lunch

I decided to have a little fun with the kiddos for lunch today. After finishing morning school, I sent them on quiet reading time while I tried to decide what to make for lunch. Our usual plan of leftovers for dinner was not doable since we ended up having a last minute dinner elsewhere for our little nephew's 2nd birthday. What fun! He's too cute!

I scanned the fridge and the only thing that stood out to me was about half a pound of ground beef left over from burger night. Mini meatballs popped into my mind. We could have cheese cubes and boiled eggs with mini meatballs. Add some crackers and veggies and we'd have a rounded out meal. As I stood in the kitchen for 7 hours (or so it seemed) forming approximately 97,000 mini meatballs (ok, it was actually only 90), I thought it might be fun to surprise the kids with an entire mini meal.

As the mini meatballs cooked, I cut tiny cheese cubes and cut pieces off the egg putting a wee bit of yolk in the center to look like a half a boiled egg. Then I put it all together! Here is what lunch looked like when my two little redheads came out to eat.

They were quite amused! They said we should have tiny lunch every day.

And yes, my son is wearing one of his sister's old, pink & purple jammies. Hand-me-downs - it's how we roll.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

One of my goals for this new year of 2014 is to get back into menu planning. It saves me time and removes the age old question of "What should we have for dinner tonight?" which is almost always answered with "I don't know." I don't have a recipe for "I don't know." Anyhow, I'm on my 4th week of menu planning now so I thought maybe it was time to blog it and link up with other meal planners (though I suppose I should have checked to make sure the website I used to link with is still hosting). Here is what's on the menu at our house this week!

Monday: Bunless Cheeseburgers, Fried Potatoes, Steamed Carrots.
Tuesday: Chicken Chimichangas, Fried Rice & Beans, Guacamole Salad
Wednesday: Family Table at SLW
Thursday: Grilled Chicken, Pasta Alfredo, Steamed Broccoli
Friday: Out to Dinner for My Birthday!
Saturday: Venison Steaks, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, Golden Beets
Sunday: Out to a Super Bowl Party

Sounds like a pretty good week - especially since I don't have to cook so much!

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Muffin Tin Monday - Snow Day Theme

Well, it's been a while, but I finally made it back to my poor, nearly abandoned, little blog. I am really hoping to be able to spend more time here now that we are getting more organized in our home and daily schedule. It's simply amazing how busy life gets as the children grow. Once upon a time, life was busy due to all the things you must do for a baby and toddler, and I thought (silly me for thinking) that once they were old enough to do things like go to the bathroom on their own, bathe & dress themselves and even get their own snacks, then I would be able to sit back and relax a bit. I was wrong. All those baby things have been replaced with homeschooling, homeschool group meetings, Trail Life, American Heritage Girls, Gym & Swim, Uchooz (Wed night kids church), service projects, field trips and social things like play dates and birthday parties! Wow! In the beautiful chaos that is raising children, I sometimes stop and think that maybe changing diapers 10 to 12 times a day wasn't so bad after all! The truth is though, that I wouldn't change a thing. My kids are happy & healthy and enjoying all the wondrous things and amazing people God has brought into our lives. 

Even though we are undoubtedly busy, I've missed the fun we used to have with Muffin Tin Mondays. It takes a bit of time to plan and even more time to put together, but I love seeing the kids' faces when they see their little trays of fun food. Plus it gives me a chance to be creative in a different way. It was a last minute decision to make a muffin tin meal today, so I couldn't put much time into planning. Since the snow is still steadily falling here, I decided to make today's theme Snow Day. 

Top: Blueberry applesauce with snow sprinkles, sliced apples (the center looks kind of snow-flakey) and snowy white milk
Bottom: A snowy white boiled egg (these were meant to be molded to look like bunnies but the eggs were too small for the mold and they just look like eggs), carrots (if you intend to build a snowman on a snow day, you must have a carrot for the nose, right?) and pita crackers with snowflake cheese bits (I thought I had a tiny snowflake cutter but this was the closest thing I had)

Yeah, I know. Some of these are a bit of a stretch but it worked for the kids! Hopefully, we will be back next week with a new tin! I intend to keep up with this since we don't have too many years left before they start to think they are too grown up for MTM!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Making Snack Time a Little Easier

I'm a mom. Like all moms out there, I always have at least 974 things going on at one time. Homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, planning meals, playing referee in arguments, never-ending laundry, washing dishes, more cleaning, paying bills, feeding chickens, feeding cats, catching the chicken who escapes from the enclosure 90 times a day, cleaning some more, reminding children to flush & wash hands, feeding a cricket (as of yesterday), exercising, running kids to various homeschool activities, rounding up library books, fixing broken toys, changing batteries, planning field trips - to name a few of the things I find myself doing day after day. When I finally have a moment to sit down and rest, here come the kiddos asking for a snack. With a heavy sigh, up I get and head out to the kitchen again. We've all been there.
So what's a mom to do? Let the kids go get their own snack, shoving grubby little hands into the bag of whatever, leaving it open to get stale, eating way more than they ought to and leaving crumbs all over the kitchen? I don't think so. I'd have to add cleaning to that list up above yet another time. Time to start the thinking wheels a'turning.
Today, I put my evil plan to have a little more down time for myself into action. Mwahahaha! Sorry. I got carried away for a moment. It's kind of exciting to think about having a little extra time to yourself!
So here is what I did.

First, I did pantry snacks. I sat down at the kitchen table with a box of snack size zip bags and a variety of packages of snacks. Then, I simply measured out individual portions into the bags. I neatly stacked the bags of snacks in a plastic shoebox container. In this box: individual serving packets of peanut butter; Udi's GF crisps; Annie's Cheddar Snack Mix; pretzel crackers; a homemade trail mix that has pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried berries (cran, straw & blue) and Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips; and lastly fruit leathers. Other options for the box: granola bars, tortilla chips, fruit & nut mix, beef jerky, rice crackers, snap pea crisps, nut thin crackers, granola & raisins, popcorn, homemade Lara bars, banana chips or homemade cookies as a special treat.
Next, I did refrigerator snacks. First, I had to clear a space in the fridge. I have to admit, I am not very good at keeping my fridge neat & tidy, so this added a little time to my initial prep time. After that, it didn't take long to get the rest done. The fridge snacks include: various fruits - oranges, peaches, apples, grapes and a kiwi; cut veggies - carrots and celery sticks; mozzarella cheese rounds; colby jack mini cheese sticks; and yogurt in little mason jars (the containers with the dry erase "y" on them because I also have cups of milk in the fridge and don't want them to get confused). Other options for the fridge snacks: olives, pickles, pepper strips, snap peas, hard boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, cooked sausage links (we love apple, maple chicken sausages), cucumbers, meatballs, fruit salad, melon balls, apple sauce, ham cubes, cauliflower, broccoli, chicken cubes or ham & cheese pinwheels (spread cream cheese on a slice of ham, top with a layer of spinach leaves, roll it up and cut into half inch long pieces).
Now, with just a little bit of prep time once a week, when the kids start begging me to get them a snack 9 seconds after I sit down, I can simply direct them to the snack section of either the fridge or pantry. They love the freedom of getting to choose what they feel like having from a number of options and I love getting to have a few extra minutes to sit and enjoy some quiet while they are eating. Wait, did I say quiet? Yeah, it's rarely quiet. Add reminding the kids not to talk (or sing) with their mouths full to that list up above.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Back to the Blog with a Muffin Tin Meal!

It's been a little while since I've written anything here. Life just got busy over the summer and then school started  and well... I let it go a while. So I decided to ease back into things with a Muffin Tin Meal post! My kids love when I do these but I just never seem to have the time to pull them together anymore but I managed to get one done today. Well, sort of - the muffin tins didn't easily hold what we were serving, so we basically just used one silicone muffin liner on a plate.

We recently got a membership to the library and one of the first books that Laural decided to check out was A Princess Cookbook. The recipes require no cooking, just some mixing and putting stuff together. Laural had a blast reading the book, helping me make a shopping list, shopping for all the ingredients and then putting the meal together. We made a couple changes to some of the recipes that worked with some stuff we already had on hand. 

Laural reading A Princess Cookbook the night before we went shopping.

 The Princess and the Pea Salad. We cut the tomatoes to look like hearts - that wasn't in the cookbook.

 Laural's Princess Meal: Wish on the Evening Star Sandwich (this was supposed to be a Slipper Sandwich as in Cinderella's slipper, but we couldn't find a shoe cookie cutter & I didn't want to try cutting it free hand, so the next best thing was a star), Magic Wand (pretzel rods dipped in candy melts with sprinkles), Princess Parfait (vanilla yogurt, raspberries & granola), Castle Crunch (peanuts, dried cranberries, banana chips & marshmallow cereal) with the Princess & the Pea Salad in the middle. Not shown is the Fairy Tale Float (natural cherry soda & cherry ice cream) which we saved for dessert.

I wish I could have taken pics of the kids enjoying their meals, but I had to finish making the grown up dinner so mommy & daddy could eat too! They really enjoyed helping make the meal and then eating it too! I think I need to try to do these more often again.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Our New Backyard Residents

They've been a part of the family for a little over 3 months now, but our chickies didn't get into their permanent quarters until last night. This morning, after breakfast, we went out, opened the door and let the flock have their first look at their new world. We sat back in our lawn furniture to watch the show. Yes, we are easily entertained.

A couple of the reds & a black were the first to pop their heads out.

This is Ariel, Aurora & Jasmine. 

Ariel hung out on the logs a little while & looked around but Aurora & Jasmine ducked back inside.

Prince Charming was the 1st one brave enough to actually put feet on the ground.

Laural helped make the new waterer. Here she is hauling over the supplies.

Micah decided to come get a closeup seat for the chicken watching.

When we opened the front door to put a little more bedding material in, the Brahmas decided they were heading out. They stuck together in a group, finding the mulch pile right behind the coop and picked in that for a bit.

I love how they all stayed in their safe little group.

After a little more exploration, they found some weeds by the fence that they just loved! They pretty much stayed here for the rest of the afternoon.

Snow White, Cinderella & Rapunzel look for some tasty greens.

Aurora, Tiana & Belle were finally coaxed out of the coop by some food.

Pocahontas joined the others for a bite to eat. Ariel & Jasmine went & hid under the coop before running back inside. They weren't quite ready for the great outdoors.

After they were a little more used to their surroundings, the group of Brahmas explored a little further away from the coop but the reds & blacks finished eating at the feeder and went back in the coop. I herded the Brahmas back into the coop in the evening and everyone seemed happy enough. I hope the reds & blacks get a little braver & explore a little tomorrow.

Monday, June 11, 2012

2012 Summer Bucket List

For several years, at the beginning of summer, we have talked about all the things we'd like to do over the summer. We usually get a few things accomplished but by the end of summer we have forgotten many of the things we so excitedly discussed at summer's start. This year, we are going to try something new. After seeing a post on Pinterest, the kids, hubby & I sat down to create our own Summer Bucket List for 2012. When we were all done brainstorming, we had a list of 103 things to do! Some are simple backyard fun things while others require some travel. Some are free while others will require a fee. Some are educational while others are simple, mindless fun. No matter what they are though, one thing is certain - we are going to have quite the fun summer! We have already completed several things and we might just add to the list if something comes to mind. I might make up a cute chart, list or something else like the ones I've seen on Pinterest, but not sure yet.

Our 2012 Summer Bucket List

1. make backyard tents
2. water balloon piƱatas
3. go camping
4. toast marshmallows
5. outdoor finger painting
6. make branch blocks
7. build a fairy garden/fairy house
8. create our own outdoor wonderland
9. color scavenger hunt
10. make a water wall
11. have a picnic in the park
12. take a nature walk
13. take an alphabet walk
14. go to Carnegie Museum of Art
15. go to Carnegie Science Center
16. go to Carnegie Museum of Natural History
17. go to the drive-in movies
18. go to the beach
19. fly a kite
20. read outside
21. blow bubbles
22. go fishing
23. go bowling
24. plant a garden
25. gaze at the stars/find constellations
26. bird watching/learn bird calls
27. make a bird house & feeder
28. go geocaching
29. go to the farmer's market
30. play board games outside
31. make a terrarium
32. make homemade ice pops & eat them outside
33.make sun prints
34. play in the sprinklers
35. make s'mores
36. participate in summer reading program
37. go mini golfing
38. bbq & eat outside
39. have a yard sale
40. make root beer floats
41. have a water balloon battle
42. make nature rubbings
43. make straw structures
44. watch fireworks
45. make elephant toothpaste
46. paint outside
47. play I spy
48. jump rope
49. hula hoop
50. go to the zoo
51. watch a meteor shower
52. go to a flea market
53. go swimming
54. go to a parade
55. go to a fair
56. visit the train park/museum in Greenville
57. make pizza on the grill
58. tour a fire department
59. play at a playground
60. make rock bugs
61. play with play dough outside
62. make sponge balls & have a water battle
63. outdoor bowling
64. go to creation museum in Akron
65. make a sand castle
66. play Frisbee/Frisbee golf
67. watch a sunset
68. ice block treasures
69. make bubble snakes
70. play with sparklers and do backyard fireworks
71. make a photo memory book
72. play in the rain
73. catch crawfish (and release)
74. have a campfire sing-a-long/jam
75. play hot/cold
76. make a nature table
77. do the mint candy/diet cola experiment
78. decorate enchanted garden for 4th of July
79. go to Strawberry Days in Grove City (June 8, 9, 10)
80. go to an outdoor concert
81. make lemonade
82. ride bicycles
83. find shapes in the clouds
84. feed the geese at the park
85. memorize a scripture verse (or a few)
86. make a fruit pizza 
87. drink mojitos/faux-jitos around the campfire
88. make a backyard melody maker (as seen in Family Fun magazine)
89. Koosh ball painting
90. go to yard sales
91. eat watermelon & spit the seeds
92. make dot art with ink & pencil erasers or cotton swabs
93. blow up balloons with CO2 (vinegar & baking soda)
94. make homemade finger paints
95. make cotton swab fireworks pictures
96. play with glow sticks outside at night
97. watch fireflies and report what we see online
98. make mountain pies
99. have glowing drinks at night
100. play with lots of glow sticks in the pool at night
101. hike at McConnells Mill State Park
102. go Cosmic Bowling
103. feed the fish at Linesville

I'll be keeping this list up, crossing off things as we do them and linking to posts of us doing each thing as we go. I'm really looking forward to our summer of fun!


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