Monday, December 23, 2013

Clearing Cards~ Forgotten treasures

I'm clearing cards preparing for Miss Molly and found some pictures I hadn't brought in from some very important celebrations.

Aly turned 6 this past September and Karly turned 8.

They are really some sweet girls. Their birthday's are two days apart, but we do let them celebrate individually.

Pretty much the same routine :) Gifts, breakfast, and some celebrating at night.

Aly had a special morning out for ice cream...yes morning. :)

Karly enjoyed a big girls night out with her friend Meleni. She is really changing into a little lady.

Happy Birthday Girls!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

40 Woo Hoo Pt. One~

No, I have purposely ignored that I turned 40 this past JUNE. I know it's suppose to bother me, send me into a deep depression, or turn me into some party drinking girl~ but it didn't. Maybe I just didn't have time to put that much thought into it. I love my life. I love my family. I see each day I have getting older as a gift, a promised gift of a long and happy life serving God and my family.

I'm blessed to be surrounded by big and little faces everyday and it was no different on my 40th birthday.

The kids were super excited, like they usually are anytime there is a party. Party means celebrating. Celebrating means food and cake. And, when it's mom's day they know that the food will be eaten out somewhere (score for them).

At this time, I was feeling a little sick , but hadn't told the kids yet that we were expecting. So, I had to put on a really good face early in the morning to hide my morning sickness.

Marty is quite the funny guy, so excuse the pictured gifts. Hangers...yes hangers! Because if you follow me I am always needing hangers...white only...and he is always joking that we are broke because we need hangers. SPOONS! Anyone who knows me even better knows that spoons disappear in this house as soon as we buy them.

I was really blessed by my friend Jenna and her family with the cube freezer!! Changed my life!!! Thank you friend!

I'm thankful for the faces I get to see every morning when I wake up and pray that I grow to be 100! They keep me young!

Yes, there was a surprise party that came that Friday after. That will be Pt. 2 if I can find the pictures.

"Oldie" but goodie ~

We don't get to participate every month, but on occasion the kids get to entertain the residence at a nearby Nursing Home. Our homeschool group has a monthly talent show for them and I can't thank Michelle enough for setting it up.

The girls have been really happy to share their love for dance with them. In addition to their dancing, many of the kids sing, play instruments, recite poems and Bible verses, and act for them.

I know this time is suppose to be for the residence, but in all honesty I think it is for my kids. They love to see their faces light up when they share their talent. There's just something about a sweet grandma or grandpa watching you, looking past all of your imperfections, cheering you on.

I was a little surprised that Aly offered to do a solo dance performance. I'm gonna be completely honest here, I was really nervous. She choreographed it all by herself...and totally melted my heart. I didn't know she could dance so well free style :)

Over the summer, Cassie taught a small private ballet class to some of her friends that are younger than her (and her sister). I'm so blessed with friends that come along side me and encourage my children in what they love to do. The girls worked real hard at practicing their dance and it was perfect timing when a spot opened up at the nursing home talent show to perform. Cassie got to watch for this dance. Her students did a fabulous job. Way to go Ms. Cassidy! I know this is the first of many performances your students will have.

Another BIG shock to all of us was Dylan suggesting he sing a song...solo....Okay.... I might sound like a really bad mom , but I was REEEEAAALY worried! I didn't know he liked to sing or wanted to sing. I asked him several times if he was sure???? I need to have more faith in my children. WELL....He sang, all my himself, and did a really good job. Toby Mac would be very proud. I know I was. :)

Cassie and Karly shared a dance they made up. Since that is all they do during the day, they have no problem just getting up and figuring something out.

Lastly, Cassie did a solo. I love watching her dance. I can't believe how far she has come in just a few years of dancing. She soars! She flies! She touches hearts! That's what I want for all of my children. I want their talents to touch people- to be a light for Jesus!

I hope we can all take some time to remember those who do not have someone to visit them, share with them the love of Jesus, and share a smile with. Who knows the last time they smiled or got a hug. It's a selfless thing to do that carries a great reward for everyone.

Friday, August 30, 2013

A great idea~

Since the new "school/dance/baseball/gymnastics..." year is sneaking up on me, I felt inspired to "get organized".

I'm not an organized person. I have my way, but it's a little out of order right now, for a season. I tried to really think about what area of my life needed the most attention.

I know you're all thinking: laundry pile, ironing, closet, junk drawers, school cabinet.

Oh wait, that was me thinking that. I try to conquer those things- Ain't gonna happen.

On to better things.

I struggle with dinner prep. I have very good intentions to be organized with meals. But in the past I didn't have anywhere to store extra food, so whatever I could fit in my standard fridge/freezer is what I got. For the average family that works, but for a large family I think it is beneficial to have an additional freezer of some sorts in the garage. Marty and I talked about it for a while , but never bought one.

This past June was my birthday and my dear friends gave me a freezer for my garage. My dreams of buying extra meat , cooking extra meals and freezing them were finally happening.

I waited a month before I got up the nerve to really "do it"! I searched some sites and thought, "It doesn't look too hard." It was a bit more work than I expected. I really wanted to give up , but once I posted on instagram that I was doing it, I couldn't back out! :) Everyone would know I was a failure. LOL!

Time to plan. I made a list of meats that we eat. We aren't big casserole eaters, which made it easier. All I really needed to make was the "main dish".

After listing the meat, I decided what meals I would make with those meats. Not hard at all. I made the list and double/ tripled those recipes. I will list the meals we ate at the end. Not too bad!

Once the list was made I hit Sam's Club. With list in hand, and alone, I did it! I bought everything I needed to start the cooking. Mostly, everything I needed was at Sams.

I did have a small list for Publix. I spent around $600 for all the stuff I needed to make the main meals.

One of the reasons I decided this was necessary to do was to keep our monthly grocery cost down. How?Why? Unfortunately, we have many days where I wake up and have a perfectly good plan on how my day will go and what we will be eating. Then, life happens, unexpected doctor appts. at 4pm. ,errands run later than expected, playdates go longer than planned, which I love, and things just happen. I find that the perfect plan I had for the day is behind and I am scrambling to figure out dinner. The dinner I had planned will take too long and we would be eating too I stop for subs, run into Chipotle, buy a ton of sandwich meat, get pizza...WOW! That adds up. My poor planning costs us. Not to mention is becomes unhealthy. Not fast food people, but need food fast people. :) BUT, there are times I have run to Wendy's and leave thinking , "UGH, if I had planned better dinner would be made. I just spent $40 at Wendy's!"

Okay, back to my plan. I texted Marty when I was around the corner to have all hands on deck to start bringing food in...oh and to tell the kids that I have a system that has to happen and for them to NOT ask me to start eating all the food as I'm walking in the door. Oh, I'm sure none of you deal with that. RIGHT!

Everything went smoothly. Really! I was surprised. I don't know what Marty said to them, but they were really good and didn't bother me while unloading.

I set the kids up with some snacks and prepared stations. I put some meat in the fridge and kept out the rest.

I'll admit , I was a little overwhelmed.

I'll admit another thing, I should've planned activities for the kids . NO! I didn't need there help. Nice thought , but not on my first run. I'm not June Cleaver, okay..."GET OUT OF MY WAY PLEASE!"Actually , I should've planned for one of my friends to take the babies for the day and given them food when they came back as a thank you. Remember that ladies for next might be your lucky day. Okay, I didn't have the heart to tell Dylan he couldn't help.

I also did this the day before garbage day. Perfect! All scraps, packaging, and yuck was gone the next morning.

We survived! I managed to keep it somewhat organized. I brought out all the crock pots I have ( I could use 2 more for the next run) , a huge roaster, pots , pans, cutting boards, and all the ingredients.

I started with the crock pot meals. I put the beef and chicken in right away for the enchilada meals. That was easy . They cook themselves.

 Since I had the chicken going I put on my pots for chicken soup (that was our meal that evening and a special meal for a friend in need).

The rest of the chicken was separated into ziplocks with marinade and tucked away for grill nights.

  Then, I prepared the meat loaves.

 Again, since the ground beef was going I browned the meat for our italian meat sauce. I cooled and bagged that quickly. WHOO HOO!

The left over ground beef I left plain for an emergency meal. I didn't have too much faith in myself...

Ground beef , stew meat, chicken. Really , all the cooking was done in a few hours. I cooled all food properly and wrapped and bagged.

For the rest of the meals, I marinated and put into ziplocks (steaks and fish).

Clean up wasn't too bad. I tried to clean as I went along.

Like I said, we had a simple delicious soup and salad night. That was smart. I certainly didn't want to cook after all of that. :)

In all I made:
6 large meatloaves
3 large bags of italian meat sauce for quick ravioli or pasta dishes
1 batch of taco meat

3 large batches of shredded beef for enchiladas

chicken soup
2 large batches of marinated chicken to grill
3 large batches of chicken for enchiladas.

4 large bags of marinated ny strip steaks for grilling ( yes we splurged)

2 batches of hamburger patties ready for grilling

In additon to the above we included the following in our month:

 Egg Plant Parm

Sub night (on purpose LOL)
Pizza night
Mac n Cheese night (change of plans thanks to daddy surprising the kids with a Mets game)
Sauted Steak and mushroom
Pancakes (mommy had one of those days)
Grilled Cheese

For sides we included:
Garden Peppers

Now, we did have a few nights that I either forgot to take the food out the night before or we had last minute plans come up. Those are the nights that we just figure something out. But everyone eats something.

But overall, I was so happy I did it. I am taking a picture of every night next month. I did take a lot this time, but not enough. I think I was just nervous I would fail.

It was so nice not to be stressed about rushing home to get dinner going. The main part was already done!

I have been asked what foods do you always have in the house. If you've been to my house there is always something to eat. You can always find the following-no one is going to starve:

Grilled Cheese
French Toast
English Muffins
Protein Bars
Protein Shakes

Granola Bars
Hard boiled eggs

 Most of those foods can be used at any meal if you need to find something or you don't like what we are having. Aly eats a lot of cereal , bagels, and fruit.

Those are the foods that are a staple 99% of the time in our house. So, even with a list of perfectly planned meals, life can still change your plans. A rough day, can be just cause for , "Find something to eat!"

I am blessed to have daughters that rally around to help me prepare a salad, get the water going, preheat the oven , and help with clean up.

Thanks girls!

I am blessed with a master of the grill!!!! He's also super cute. He makes a mean steak and has purposed to cook Mema's to perfection-raw! Love you honey!

Hoping to add a few recipes to the next month that I've never tried. Don't know if that's too smart, but there's always PB&J if it's a flop!