Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Passion for Children's Charities

I love charities so I guess I decided to write about them in my blog today.  Being a mom I am especially drawn to charities that are helping children.  Save the Children, St. Jude's, Big Brother Big Sister and March of Dimes are my favorite charities that are helping children in our own country as well as abroad.

Save the Children not only helps children with struggles they face everyday like poverty, illness, hunger and illiteracy but they also aid in disaster relief.  They are the leading independent organization that creates a lasting change in the lives of children in need in the United States and around the world.  You can read more about them at

St. Jude's is a pediatric treatment and research facility that treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases.  The children's research hospital was founded in 1962 by entertainer Danny Thomas.  Some time in the 1940's the struggling actor had prayed to St. Jude Thaddeus that if he could show him his way in life he'd one day build a shrine to him.  After becoming an internationally known entertainer Danny remembered his pledge and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital became the shrine he built for St. Jude.  You can learn more about St. Jude's at

Big Brother Big Sister is a mentoring program that provides children who face adversity with the tools and self confidence necessary to achieve success in life.  This program helps children in America to avoid risky behavior, achieve educational success and learn how to have healthy relationships.  The program started in 1904 with two separate entities; Big Brothers and Catholic Big Sisters.  The two groups joined in 1977 and became Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.  You can read more about this organization at

March of Dimes was originally created by FDR in order to research and fight polio.  Once their research funded the invention of the polio vaccine with ended epidemic polio in the United States their mission focused to preventing birth defects and infant mortality. The March of Dimes has led the way to discover the genetic causes of birth defects, to promote newborn screening, and to educate medical professionals and the public about best practices for healthy pregnancy. 
Since 2003, the March of Dimes' fight to save babies has been strongly characterized by their Prematurity Campaign. The rising incidence of premature birth has demanded action, and the March of Dimes has responded by initiating an intensive, multi-year campaign to raise awareness and find the causes of prematurity.
The March of Dimes is especially near and dear to my heart as I have two nephews who are also brothers who were born prematurely.  One was born 6 weeks early and three years later his brother was born 8 1/2 weeks early!  I've had multiple close friends loose babies after 20 weeks gestation and a friend whose baby, born at 24 weeks gestation, survived!  He is a walking talking miracle baby whose family, like mine, have become advocates for the March of Dimes.  If you'd like to learn more please visit  My family and friends will be marching in the annual March of Dimes walk again this year!

There are a few other children's charities that I am learning more about and will feature them in a separate blog.

"I absolutely believe in the power of tithing and giving back. My own experience about all the blessings I've had in my life is that the more I give away, the more that comes back. That is the way life works, and that is the way energy works."Ken Blanchard

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dad vs. Mom

It seems to me that I can scream until I'm blue in the face and all my husband has to do is say, "Sit down and shut up!" and the kids obey.  I typically have to ask my kids multiple times to do something and my husband only has to ask them once.  I feel like the kids are rotten when they are home alone with me but if I leave and my husband has them alone he tells me they are great.  I think they have more fun with him and I try to tell myself it's because he's around less but in my case that's not necessarily true.

I would consider myself the primary care giver, chauffeur, chef, maid, etc. but my husband is around a lot and helps out too.  I think I get frustrated and flustered easily and he tries to make a game out of everything.  He really is like a big kid and maybe that's why he seems to relate to them better.  When I drive the kids to school I visit with them or we listen to the radio but when my husband drives them they play games.  Their favorite game is where they all guess how many cars they will see on their way to town and then they sit and count each car they see.  Or since there are three ways to get to town from our house he lets them pick which way to town.  It sounds really simple I know but I guess my brain just doesn't think that way.

Now that I'm writing this I think he is the way he is because he is the 'less stressed' parent.  I'm in charge of remembering who goes where and when, and who needs a sack lunch for a field trip, and I pay the bills and send out the birthday cards and the kids' pictures and make the dr. appts and the dentist appts etc.  I think my brain just has way to much crammed in it for me to enjoy a ride to town with three children.

I jokingly told my husband last night that the reason I keep him around is the keep the kids under control and for him to remind me what I did yesterday!  I'm constantly one step a head so I don't forget anything that once the task is done or the day is gone I forget.  I guess some things I have to let go of so I create more room in my head for more information!  He told me I should start doing cross word puzzles or something because he's worried about how bad my memory loss may be in the future.  I have 'mom brain' alright!

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard.  Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass."  "We're not raising grass," Dad would reply.  "We're raising boys."  ~Harmon Killebrew
Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.  ~Ruth E. Renkel

A father carries pictures where his money used to be.  ~Author Unknown

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Random Thoughts about Commercials

Have you seen the commercial where they show a guy sitting in a minivan and he says to himself, 'this is a minivan?' and then he thinks, 'this almost makes you want to have kids' until he sees all of the kids running around?  I just think it's hilarious that they are trying to make that minivan appear so cool that even a single guy would want to buy it!  Now I have nothing against minivans, in fact I've owned two in my life and wouldn't mind a third.  It's just like trying to make a person think that a Baby Bjorn comfort carrier is so fashionable that you'd want to wear one even if you didn't have a baby to put in it!

Or what about the paper towel commercials that show a kid spilling milk all over the floor and the mom just smiles and grabs the paper towels and cleans up the mess.  Or the one where the dad and his son are horsing around with a bowl of salsa on the counter and they spill it and the mom walks in and smiles and grabs the paper towels.  I want to know what are those moms are on and where can I get some!!!  There is even one where the mom grabs the sprayer from sink and starts spraying her kid.  Yeah like that would happen at my house intentionally!  "Oh Billy you little turd, stand still while I spray you with water and soak my entire kitchen which I will then clean up with my brand new paper towels."

I love it that Spanx commercials show an one hundred pound woman wearing Spanx as they talk about how slimming they are.  Well they show them on women who DON'T need them.    I've tried something similar to them and since they smoosh everything together the extra skin and fat has to come out somewhere else and it was not attractive.

I love dramatizations on infomercials.  Only an infomercial can make mowing your lawn, chopping an onion, using a blanket or washing your feet look THAT difficult.  I love the one for Easy Feet.  They show a person in the shower holding a wash rag and trying to bend over to wash their feet.  Then they show how easy the East Feet is just by sliding your foot in and out of it as you squeeze an entire bottle of body wash on the Easy Feet.  It's a car wash for your feet.

Well I have been interrupted so many times today that a blog that normally takes me a few minutes to write and post has taken me about ten hours so I guess that's all for today.  Have a nice evening!

"Advertising is legalized lying."  H.G. Wells

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter & Lemon Bars

We always have so much fun at Easter with our family.  The kids look forward to our Easter plans every year.  On one side of the family we stay at a hotel with an indoor water park so the kids can swim with their cousins, we eat pizza and have an Easter egg hunt in our hotel rooms.  On the other side we eat Easter dinner, have an outdoor Easter egg hunt, the kids get to hit a Mexican pinata and we play a really fun game called Flickin Chickin.  Basically you stand a good distance away from a Styrofoam disk and you throw rubber chickens at the disk to see how long it takes you to hit it.  Most of us throw the rubber chickens one at a time but my sister-in-law throws them all at once.  Sometimes I wonder what the neighbors would think if they saw all of us throwing rubber chickens at the ground!

On the way to school Thursday I asked all of my kids what they thought the meaning of Easter was.  My 9 year old son said ,"I think it's the celebration of Jesus coming back to life."  My 11 year old daughter said, "That's what I was going to say." and my 3 year old son said, "I think it's about a bunny laying Easter eggs for me to hunt."  I told him the real meaning of Easter, similar to what his siblings said and I asked him again. "Now what do you think the meaning of Easter is?" and his reply, "Um I still think it's about an Easter bunny laying eggs for me to hunt."  Well all a parent can do is try but our children will think what they want to think!

For Easter last year my mom asked be to bring a dessert.  I decided to try this delicious lemon tart I had gotten out of a French cookbook.  I prepared everything so carefully and it turned out perfect.  I put it in a cake carrier and away we went.  After almost two hours in the car we got to my parents house and my tart had fallen apart!  I was disappointed but since it didn't look pretty didn't mean it wasn't going to taste good and boy did it taste good.  So this year she asked me to make a dessert again and I chose lemon bars this time.  The lemon bars turned out delicious and lemony.  They have a melt in your mouth crust and a burst of lemon in the filling.  The picture of the bars and recipe is below.  I will admit I may have gone overboard on my 'sprinkling' of powdered sugar!  Looking at the picture you would've thought the recipe read..pile each bar with confectioner's sugar. They are so delicious!

Luscious Lemon Bars

For crust:
1 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 stick butter, melted but not hot

For filling:
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. all purpose flour
6 Tbs juice from 2 lemons
2 tsps finely grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray 8 x 8 baking dish well with cooking spray. 
Mix flour, salt, and confectioner's sugar in a bowl, stir in butter to form dough.  Press dough into greased pan and bake until pale golden, about 20 minutes.
While pastry bakes whisk eggs, sugar, flour, lemon juice and zest in a bowl.
Remove pan from oven and add lemon mixture, continue to bake for about 20 minutes longer.  Let cool and then sprinkle with confectioner's sugar if you like.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Candid Moms

I think candid moms are hilarious.  I love it when you get together with your friends and there are always the ones that kind of sugar coat things like..."My kids are so great and awesome and I just can't imagine life without them.  They give meaning and purpose to my life...blah, blah blah."  And THEN there are the friends that are like, "I'd rather remove my own uterus with a rusty spoon than have another child." - Julie Bowen, actress.  Now those are the ones I like to visit with.  As a mom it is an unspoken truth that we all love our children dearly and that we'd never change things however a lot of us start our conversations out that way.  "You know I love my children to pieces and I'd never change things for the world but if I could ship them off to grandma's for a week or two don't think I wouldn't."

It's fun girl time to sit and visit about our kids and the crazy things they do.  I was home alone last night with my three year old while my husband and older children were at softball and baseball practice.  I played baseball outside with my son.  He likes to say, "Mom, can we go outside and you can throw balls at my bat?"  That is his way of asking if I can pitch to him!  So we played outside, then we came in to clean his room and then I had the audacity to think I was going to clean the kitchen.  In a matter of a few minutes he had sprayed Windex all over my wood floors, once I took the Windex away he got the Febreze out and after a scolding he went to his room to get some cars to play with in the living room.  I was back and forth between the living room, kitchen, laundry room and bathroom when the phone rang.  Now you know when you answer the phone children immediately know you aren't going to pay that much attention to them and they get naughty.  By the time I had gotten off the phone he had Kool-Aid in his play kitchen dishes, small candy Easter eggs foaming in the Kool-Aid, Kool-Aid on the floor and both of his hands were stained red.

This is my exhausting child!  So of course I think to myself...I love him, I love him, I love him but why did I think I needed three kids!  He's too dang cute to give away though so I guess I'll keep him.  I realize we all have our limits and can handle different things.  I have friends who only ever have one child and I've had friends who have had five AND home schooled them!!  I've had friends who have had three kids in three years and I've had friends you have had two kids in twelve years.  Once we become moms though we have an understanding for each other and for what our own mothers went through.  I know I didn't really appreciate the moms in my mother, aunts, grandmothers, mother-in-law etc. until I became a mom.  These women raised multiple children and didn't give any of them away! They managed to keep all of their children and their sanity..well maybe the sanity part could be up for debate.  Ha!

It's okay to be honest with your friends because even if they don't admit it they secretly think a lot of what you are thinking.  I'll be honest, my days working from home run smoothly, I'm productive and I enjoy what I do and then four o'clock hits and the kids are home from school and all hell breaks loose.  Welcome to the jungle!  Yesterday my three old informed me that there was a mean rabbit that lived near our house and his name was F*cky the rabbit!  Yes, F*cky the rabbit.  I scolded him and told him that that was a bad word and that he should never say that and he started crying and said, "I didn't think rabbit was a bad word."

My most favorite times are when we are doing something as a family and everyone is getting along.  We could be playing outside or sitting around a campfire or playing a board game.  We do try to spend as much time with our kids as possible because even though they are annoying at times they aren't around forever.  However I do have friends who say their most favorite times with their children are when they are all sleeping!

Now I realize why grandparents are such happy people.  They get to enjoy the grand kids when they want and then give them back to their parents when they need a break.  Plus grandparents get to enjoy watching their own children as parents which they already know is the toughest gig on earth!

So if you ever need a candid chat about raising kids come on over to my house.  We can talk about kids and you can meet my friends, Riesling and Merlot.

We spend the first twelve months of our children's lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up" Phyllis Diller.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Please Stop Whining!

I slept pretty well last night which these days is a good thing.  I'm not sure what it is but I seem to toss and turn a lot and I don't know why.  I exercise, I eat fairly healthy, I'm not a high stress type of person so I'm not thinking about stuff but I just don't sleep well all that often.  When I do sleep well I love that feeling of being refreshed and ready to start your day and then you'll no doubt have a child who is having a bad morning and that was this morning.  The first thing my three year old did when he got up this morning was whine.  He whined about having to get up, he whined about have to go to 'school', he whined about having to eat breakfast and he whined about having to get dressed.  I asked him repeatedly to 'please stop whining.'  Whining drives me nuts!!  He even whined about having to stop whining!

Days like these are getting few and far between as my children age but I'll be honest there are days when I feel like whining!  We got all three kids off to school and I got my workout in, showered and was down to my office in a timely fashion.  I bent over to pick something up and when I turned around I whacked my funny bone on the arm of my office chair.  Ouch!  That tingly feeling went straight down my arm and into my hand and I started whining.  "Ouch, I just hit my funny bone."  I'm not sure who I was whining too, myself I guess, but I whined.  You see I'm sort of a klutz.  And when I say 'sort of' I mean I AM a klutz.  In fact last night I almost fell walking down the same stairs I have walked down repeatedly over the past eight years!  My husband really gets a kick out of those movies that show some woman trying to act all cool and then she trips and falls or runs into something because that would be me.  I don't remember being like that when I was younger so I think ever since I had kids I've become klutzy.  Kids are great because you can blame a lot on them.

My hair was shinier, my skin was clearer, my body was firmer all before I had kids.  My brain worked before I had kids.  I had lots of energy before I had kids.  The list could probably go on and on but one thing I do have to think is that my life was duller before I had kids.  Children make life so interesting and it's intriguing to me to watch them turn into little people.  All three of my kids are similar in ways and are different in ways and its so great to watch them grow up and it's fun to have them around!  Don't get me wrong I love quiet times but I love crazy circus time too.

In usual fashion my adult ADD had me starting a blog about whining kids and turn it into whatever it is this blog is about now.  I guess perhaps that is one more thing my kids took from ability to focus!

Now here are a few fun quotes about children:

While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt

There are only two things a child will share willingly - communicable diseases and his mother's age.  ~Benjamin Spock, Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, 1945

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.  ~Phyllis Diller

Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.  ~Rabindranath Tagore

I love my children best when they are sleeping.  Author Unknown

Children seldom misquote.  In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said.  ~Author Unknown

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter Sugar Cookies

My aunt came to town from Texas this past weekend and she brought the kids some spring/Easter cookie cutters, frosting and sprinkles to decorate cookies as well as several egg dying kits.  We got the eggs dyed but didn't have time to bake the cookies while she was back so she asked if I would bake the cookies with the kids and of course I obliged!  I was excited to find a new sugar cookie recipe so once again I got out my trusty old Taste of Home Cookies book and found a recipe called Easter Sugar Cookies.  These melt in your mouth cookies were so delicious my children said they were addicting.  The recipe calls for butter, sugar, an egg yolk, cream cheese and both vanilla and almond extracts just to name most of the ingredients.  They are so good it's hard not to eat the dough...which of course we ate some.  I used a paste food coloring to color the frosting blue, yellow and purple.  Then we had a spray can of white frosting that had interchangeable tips.  Yes a spray can of frosting...I'd never seen such a thing but the kids thought it was awesome!

Here is a picture of the cookies my children decorated.  They are shaped as an Easter egg, flower and butterfly.
There are a few cookies that look as though someone sprinkled an entire container of sprinkles on them and those were the ones made by my three year old.  He feels the more sprinkles the better.  However, I'm pretty sure there were even more sprinkles on the floor than the cookies!  And lets not forget to mention all the flour from rolling them out.  I love sugar cookies but clean up is a bit tricky and that is why I only make them a few times a year.  Also since I made the frosting such bright colors the blue stained my sons face...Oops!  Below you will find the delicious recipe I used.  I thought they were so good I ate a few unfrosted ones.  Enjoy!

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Tinted frosting or colored sugar


  • In a bowl, cream butter, cream cheese and sugar. Beat in egg yolk and extracts. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or until easy to handle.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut with a 2-1/2-in. cookie cutter dipped in flour. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Decorate as desired. Yield: 4 dozen.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pet Peeves

I am going to apologize in advance for this rant.  I'm sure most of you have pet peeves and no matter how small they can drive you nuts!  I love my family more than anything but there are a few things they do that drive me absolutely insane.  I've told them a hundred times and I don't know why they can't get it through their heads but I have a corner cabinet that rotates, I call it a turn about, and every time someone gets into it they leave it open.  I realize this may not sound like a big deal to you but it drives me nuts.  I'll clean the kitchen, leave to use the restroom and the turn about is open.  I shut the turn about and go do some laundry, walk back through the kitchen and the turn about is open.  I bet I shut that thing twenty times per day.  I'm starting to feel like I'm in the movie Sleeping with the Enemy except where I'm Julia Roberts and every time I turn around the turn about is open.  I swear I could be the only person in the house and I'll walk into the kitchen and that dang turn about will be open.  My husband tells me it's called a Lazy Susan but I call it a turn about because, well, it turns about.  I would really hate for my kids to come home from school one day to find me being carted off in a Dollie, wearing a straight jacket all because they didn't shut the turn about.  If you are unsure about what I am ranting about today I've included pictures below.  The first pictures is of the turn about open because that is how I found it when I went to take this picture.

Now this second picture is of the turn about shut and this is how I like it.

Now I realize the second thing that annoys me is the hand towel on the oven bar.  My kids dry their hands and pull it so its always lop sided or on the floor.  I know these things are minor but when repeated with consistency it becomes like Chinese water torture.  I've thought about moving all the things from the turn about to another cupboard and filling the turn about with things my children wouldn't want to get into and I also thought about getting a hand towel that buttons or ties to the oven bar but if I solved all my problems then I'd have nothing to blog about!

“I don't have pet peeves, I have whole kennels of irritation” Whoopi Goldberg

Friday, April 15, 2011

Creatures of Habit & Cookies

Like most children mine are creatures of habit when it comes to food.  If I were to ask my eleven year old what she wants for supper she'll say spaghetti every time.  My nine year old always wants pizza and my three year old wants ham and mayonnaise sandwiches.  In fact if there is no ham he'll just eat a mayonnaise sandwich.  Yuck!  The same goes for the home baked goods I make them.  I posted in an earlier post that they request the SAME cookies every week and I bake the SAME cookies for them every week and I'm ready for a change.  I got out my favorite cookbook which is all cookies and bars.  I'll be honest I not only love this cookbook for the delicious recipes but for the bright and shiny pictures that it has with almost every recipe!  It's the Taste of Home Cookie cook book.  I gave the kids a choice between four different kinds of cookies and they picked the Peanut Butter Cup cookies.  These cookies are so creamy and delicious!  I love the combination of the peanut butter in the batter along with the big chunks of peanut butter cups.  Even though these cookies are delicious I'd still like to branch out a bit more try perhaps a lemon drop sugar cookie or a cardomom cookie.  When I was growing up my favorite thing to bake were Cardomon Shortbread Wedges and they were delicous!  I dug out the recipe that I had in a family cook book back in 1990.  I was amazed when I realized that I was baking on my own back then. How time flies!  Here is the Peanut Butter Cup cookie recipe.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
 Note: Reduced-fat or generic brands of peanut butter are not recommended for this recipe.

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups chopped peanut butter cups (about six 1.6-ounce packages)


  • In a large bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and peanut butter cups.
  • Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks. Yield: 7-1/2 dozen.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chaos in the Car

I remember when my kids were little and my husband and I would try to get everyone ready to go somewhere and it was a huge chore just to get everyone in the car.  But once we were all in the car it was a sigh of relief.  I do remember saying, "Please just get them in the car already so I can finish up in the house and I'll be right out!"

Now that they are older getting into the car isn't near as hectic.  It's once we are in the car that can be chaotic.  My older two were the best travelers.  They were always quiet, they'd read books, play with toys or sleep in the car and then came our third child.  He mostly would scream bloody murder whenever we'd be in the car and it was awful!  A ten minute trip to town was just annoying but a two hour trip to visit my parents was excruciating.  He is now almost four and hasn't cried in the car for some time.

Now we just deal with the constant talking and question asking of the three kids.  I hate to say it but I can only stand so much chaos and so a few times I've done the rudest thing ever to my kids and I turn up the radio!!  Isn't that awful!  I love them to pieces but I like it to be a little bit peaceful when I drive, wishful thinking I know, but I get exhausted when all three of them are trying to talk at the same time and they are all asking questions like..."What does Bill do?"  I reply, "He builds fence for farmers"  then the little one asks, "Does he build fence for puppies?"and this could go on and on about the specific types of fences Bill builds and for whom does he builds them for and what type of material are they built out of and has he built any of the fences that we see on our way to town.  I know you all know what I mean.

I enjoy talking to them but when I'm driving I'd rather they talk to each other.  I should say "Please talk amongst yourselves, here's a topic, now discuss."  Then they could visit together and I can just drive and listen to my radio.  In all honesty though I've been told that no matter what you should TRY to listen to your kids and answer their questions because if you don't they will stop visiting with you all together.  I do agree with that, however, I also agree that if I so rudely turn the radio up on them as a sign to 'please be quiet so I can drive you safely to our destination' it's probably not going to land them in therapy one day. I'm sure I'm doing a great job screwing them up in other ways.  :)
"The first duty of love is to listen." Paul Tillich

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Delicious Cookies

I love baking!  Cookies and bars are my favorite but I'll bake breads, tarts, cakes, pies and many other tasty treats.  My kids used to like to help me bake but now all they do is hover over me like vultures waiting to eat the cookie dough.  I recently baked a batch of cookies that normally yields four and a half dozen cookies.  My kids ate so much cookie dough that I only got three and a half dozen cookies out of that batch!!  Okay so maybe I helped them a little.

This summer we are going to make a list of several different kinds of baked goods that we want to try, some of them French inspired as the kids also want me to start teaching them French.  I'm not fluent by any means but I know enough to get them started and then we'll learn together as we go.  We'll learn French and bake and it will be a wonderful summer.  Seriously who am I kidding.  I'm sure the kids will have fun with it for a week or two tops but my dreams of becoming a French speaking pastry chef may come to a halt all too soon.

Despite what my children want to do I am still going to bake my list of treats and hopefully take a few baking classes in a neighboring town.  I will most definitely blog about our experiences and possibly my children will surprise me and have fun with it.  I guess we will see.

My favorite recipe and the most requested one so far is my Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe.  My mom taught me this recipe when I was growing up and now my kids and husband request it weekly.  I like a little variety in life so I change up the kinds of chips I use..sometimes it might be milk chocolate, other times it might be peanut butter or butterscotch and sometimes I even mix two chips together.  This might sound risque I know! Heck next time I think I'll put all sorts of different chips in it!  Sometimes you just have to take risks!

Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter flavored Crisco
Beat in:
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp water
3 eggs
Stir in:
3 1/3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
Once everything is mixed nicely add 18 oz of whatever kind of chips you like: milk chocolate, semi sweet, peanut butter, butterscotch, white, or once I even tried the mini Reese's Pieces and mini M&M's.

Drop but spoonfuls on cookie sheet and place in oven that has been preheated to 375 for 8 to 10 minutes. 

I just did this all by memory so I'd better double check my recipe.  Please sing elevator to yourself while I check.....Yes, it's correct.  I love pictures of food and promise on my next blogs I'll have pictures.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Food & Organization

The older I get the more I love food, cooking and baking.  I never used to care much for cookbooks but now I love the big glossy ones with all the colorful pictures in them.  Remember we eat with our eyes first!  The issue with cooking for me becomes time.  I love baking so I'll always make time for baking but actually cooking meals at times can be a downer.  In order to get excited about cooking again I started taking a few minutes once a month to sit down and plan my menus for an entire month.  For some of you that may sound like a lot so try planning your menus a week at a time.  I bought this pad of paper that has the calendar outline already on it and a magnet on the back.  I write my menus for the month on it and stick it to the refrigerator. Then when the month is over I tear off the top sheet and make a new month's worth of menus.  This works great because every morning when I get breakfast I see the menu and I can plan ahead for the meal.  If I need to thaw meat out, I set it in the sink first thing in the morning and if I need to account for cooking time I know what time of day I need to start preparing the meal so I can get it in the oven at a decent time.

From my menus I then create my grocery list so I know that all the food I buy will be used for a meal and not wasted or sit in a cupboard or freezer for twenty years.  Once I have my menus selected and my grocery list made then I go through all the coupons that I've been clipping over the past several weeks and dig out the ones that I can use.  Now I'm ready to shop.

Planning ahead saves time, money and the headache of constantly wondering what's for supper.  A question I get asked a lot is what types of meal to prepare.  It seems like a lot of us eat the same ten meals over and over again so I'm constantly searching for new ideas which isn't always easy if you have picky eaters.  Some of my favorite dishes are ham balls, taco pie, beef and vegetable skillet, cavatelli, pizza casserole, meatloaf, chicken enchiladas and homemade pizza.  I will blog about these and include recipes in future posts.

So now your homework is to take a few minutes and jot down some menus for the week or month, make a list of items you need for those dishes, dig out the appropriate coupons and go shopping.  I promise with a detailed list and coupons you won't mind the grocery shopping and meal time will be a breeze!

"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.  A. A. Milne

Monday, April 11, 2011

Baking: Palmiers (Elephant Ears)

I love to bake and since there are five of us in the house I bake a lot.  A batch of homemade cookies does not last long at all so I try to bake two to three times a week.  I have been experimenting with French desserts and this morning I made Palmiers or Elephant Ears as they are often called because of their shape.  Palmiers are light, flaky and delicious plus they are super easy to make!  They would be great with coffee or tea, or with ice cream or berries.  They are so light and yummy they are addicting.  My husband also pointed out that as an added bonus they make the house smell nice!  Which is great because at times I feel like making the house smell nice can be a chore all on its own.

Here is the recipe: Palmiers
2 cups sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 sheets puff pastry, defrosted (I used Pepperidge Farm)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil.

Combine sugar and salt in a bowl.  Pour 1 cup sugar mixture on a large flat surface. (I used a large wooden cutting board). Unfold one sheet of pastry and pour 1/2 cup sugar mixture all over pastry spreading evenly.  Gently roll pastry to measure 13 x 13 making sure sugar mixture is pressed into top and bottom of pastry.  Next fold sides of pastry so they go half way to the middle, fold again meeting in the middle, then fold in half like a book.  You will have 6 layers of pastry to cut through.  I cut mine in half, in half again and did that until I had 16 cookies. Line cookie sheet placing cut side up.

Place second sheet of pastry in sugar mixture left on flat surface and pour remaining 1/2 cup sugar mixture on top and spread evenly.  Repeat steps above.

Bake cookies for 6 minutes or until caramelize and brown on bottom, flip them with a spatula and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown on other side. Transfer to backing rack to cool.  Makes 32 cookies.

Helpful tips:
Defrost puff pastry overnight in refrigerator.  You want the dough pliable yet still very cold before you bake it.
Store Palmiers in airtight container, if you have any left. :)

"Life is uncertain.  Eat dessert first."  ~Ernestine Ulmer

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I Told You So

I don't know about you but one thing that really peeves me off is when my husband gives me some helpful advice that I choose NOT to follow and then he ends up being right.  Sometimes I just like to do things a certain way and I'm going to do them my way because I'm stubborn and then I end up kicking myself later because HE was right!

For instance the other day we were expecting company and like most of us we clean our homes better for company than we do for ourselves.  I knew I had to clean the kitchen floor which is my least favorite chore.  I will sweep and mop and scrub and five minutes later it will be dirty again.  I have three kids and a husband and they can make for a very messy crew.  Since I hate cleaning the kitchen floor I decided to get it done first then do some other chores.  My husband, knowing our kids, suggested I wait and clean the floor last.  I didn't want to clean the floor last, I hate cleaning that floor and I wanted it cleaned and over with!

So in my stubbornness I cleaned the floor first, then did the dishes, the laundry, the bathrooms etc.  My boys had been playing outside in the timber and came into the house via the kitchen and even though they had taken their shoes off they had bits of leaves and dirt on their pants which tracked through my kitchen.  I sighed and swept up the mess.  Then my four year old ate a cookie and made a mess of crumbs.  I too cleaned that up, then when I left to use the restroom I came back into the kitchen to see that my four year old decided to help himself to some Kool-Aid and spilled an entire two quart pitcher all over my CLEAN floor!!!

So what did I do?  I quickly sopped up the Kool-Aid, cleaned the sticky spot with soap and water, dried the floor and and got rid of all the evidence before my husband realized that I actually had to clean that darn floor several times that day.  He was right, I should've just waited to do that floor right before our guests arrived.  Man, I hate it when he's right!

"I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes. "
- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Ultimate Blog Party 2011!! Please come & join the fun!

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

The Dreaded Gynecological Exam

My title for today's post is a mouth full.  Try saying it three times really fast, or for that matter try just saying one time really fast! :)

Even though most of us have given birth a time or two and have been poked and prodded and laid out on display for several to see I'd venture to guess that most of you, like me, dread your annual exam.  I feel most comfortable with female doctors so I see one of three each year.  One of them delivered my oldest child and one of them delivered my youngest. I started going to them almost 12 years ago and on my first appointment the doctor brought in an intern named Helga.  I was nervous but it was just another female in the room.  Then when I was in labor with my first child and ready to push they brought in three interns to observe her delivery.  I had just turned 22 and the interns were two males and one female all of which were my age.  The whole time I was pushing, one of the male interns kept clapping and cheering for me and in the midst of pushing I actual found that quite humorous because a complete stranger was cheering for me as if I was running a marathon or something.

Years went by and I never had another intern, at least not until my last annual exam which was last November.  Even though I've had three children I still hate the dreaded gynecological exam.  I make sure I'm physically prepared to be viewed in such a manner and head off to my appointment.  The nurse took me back to the examining room and asked me the usual questions, then she gave be a gown and an over sized napkin and said, "Please undress and tie the gown in the front."  They used to have me tie the gown in the back but I suppose tying it in the front gave better access for the breast exam.  I put on my gown and tried to wrap the smaller than I remembered napkin around my lower half.  I chalked the decrease in napkin size up to budget cuts.

I sat and waited patiently and in walked the doctor.  She was the one who delivered my oldest child and I was happy to see her.  She shook my hand and asked how I was doing and then, gasp, in walked a man!  "This is Todd and he's a student intern, I hope you don't mind if he observes today," she said.  I thought, student intern are you kidding me?  He was at least in his early forties, he had salt and pepper hair and he was very good looking.  It was just my luck that this man would decide to better himself and now I have to bare my nether regions to him.

After a few more pleasantries came the dreaded words, "Please scoot forward and put your legs up."  She moved the hot lamp closer to me and sat down.  I can't believe how warm those lamps are and how close they get them to you. If you ever smell burning hair I guarantee your lamp is too close!  The whole time she's examining me she's asking about my weekend or if we took the kids on a summer vacation.  I politely tried to converse with her but the whole time I was thinking, I can't believe she brought George Clooney into observe me!  I was mortified but in a few minutes the exam was over and I sat up.  She asked if I had any concerns or questions and I did not so I shook both of their hands and they left the room.  I breathed a sigh of relief that THAT was over for yet another year!

No matter how much I dread it I just keep telling myself that it is the responsible thing to do as an adult and as a mother.  It's preventative medicine and it's worth the terribly uncomfortable few minutes out of my life to be examined.  I will say though, I hope I can go another ten years without an intern, specifically a male one!

"Too many OB/GYN’s aren’t able to practice their love with women all across the country."
George W. Bush

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Potty Mouth

Oh the joys of raising children.  Now I'm by no means a perfect mother, a perfect wife or a perfect person.  I use the occasional curse word and occasionally it might be in front of my kids.  We've taught our children that cursing is wrong however when you stub a toe, or someone spills an entire pitcher of lemonade on your freshly cleaned kitchen floor or someone tracks mud onto the carpet these curse words just seem to spill out at times like these and some of us don't realize what we are saying until after we've said it.

We've never had a swearing problem with our oldest.  By nature she wouldn't dare say a curse word because that is her personality.  When our middle child was younger he'd be punished for the occasional curse word that would slip out at home but now that he's older he knows it is wrong.  Now onto our youngest.  He is the child that the occasional curse word will slip out in public and in front of other people.  The strange part is that the curse words that slip from his mouth are NOT the curse words he hears us saying at home!  So then that leads me to believe he's heard it either from one of his siblings or perhaps out with his dad?  At three years old he was with his siblings, cousins and his aunt when they walked through a Wal-Mart parking lot and my son said, "Look at all the f*&#ing people."  Ouch!  Highly inappropriate!!!  He said it so nonchalantly as if it's an everyday vocabulary word.  He got in trouble for that and fortunately has not said THAT word again.  Unfortunately though he's said a few others.

A few months ago my husband told our son that it was time for his nap and our son's reply was, "That's ass."  And just two days ago he was playing in the yard with his sister and two other kids when he walked up to them all and said, "What's up b*tches?"  I was shocked!!  I had to have a good long talk with him about the words he chooses to use and the privileges he will loose because of his behavior.  This child HATES being in trouble and he HATES loosing things so he immediately started saying, "I'm so sorry mommy, I won't swear again!  I promise!"  Now he is so worried about saying a bad word he'll say, "Mom, is 'knife' a bad word?"

I have to think that even a three year old knows which words are bad words and which ones aren't.  It's not like I'm going to give him a list to hang in his room that says...The following words are bad words and should not ever be used. ... Then list all swear words in alphabetical order for him to learn NOT to say!  That would be like saying to your child "Don't watch x-rated movies, here let me show you one so you know what they look like."

Kids grow and parents learn and someday our kids are going to curse all they want and we can't do anything about it and then they'll have their own children to deal with!

There ought to be a room in every house to swear in. It's dangerous to have to repress an emotion like that.
        — Mark Twain

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Living the Dream

I know we all love our children dearly and they are our life but have you ever thought about what you will do when they are all grown and out of the house?  I know a lot of us put our dreams on hold because we know that we will have all the time in the world to make our dreams come true when our children are grown. 

I have always had a little bit of an obsession of France.  Don't ask me why because I've never been there.  Looking back I wish I would've taken four years of French in high school instead of two and I wish I would've taken four years of French in college instead of one.  I would've made French my minor and I would've taken advantage of the French abroad program at my university.  But I didn't.  I'm refreshing the French I did learn with French for Dummies and learning about French food through cookbooks.  The older I get the more obsessed I have become with food as well.  I would love to go to Paris and go to a pastry school as sweets are my favorite!  My older kids found my French for Dummies book and asked if i could teach them some this summer.  I am so excited because once baseball and softball is over in mid-June and we get back from vacation the first part of July I am always looking for things for them to do.  So this summer we are going to learn French and cook French food.  Well see how long it lasts but right now in my mind it will be a wonderful summer!  I'd love to be able to take them to France when they are all older and can speak some of it.  In the scheme of things I'd love an apartment in France to stay in whenever we want.  A girl can dream can't she? 

I think a lot of people dream at times of the things they'd love to do.  Why does it have to be a dream?  Why can't we plan and save and work our way towards our goals even if it takes several years.  Or why can't we use our kids in our plan to learn a new language, learn to cook new foods, save for vacations, start a new business?? Ha!  You know as well as I do that moms need to get creative and in the end perhaps everyone's dreams will come true.

"The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up."  Paul Valery French poet

Monday, April 4, 2011

Personal Hygiene

As I was in the shower this morning I was thinking about the personal hygiene of children.  Now that my children are getting older and more in charge of their own hygiene I find it interesting which child is super hygienic and which one lacks in that department.  My eleven year old daughter showers daily, brushes her teeth, combs her hair, washes her own clothes and her own bed sheets.  My nine year old son on the other hand is a different story.  We practically have to beg him to shower, we constantly have to remind him to brush his teeth, comb his hair and at least get his dirty clothes to the laundry room.  It is exhausting to keep on him.  I'm half tempted to tell him that he is in charge of his own hygiene, washing his own clothes and sheets and that we aren't going to say anything to him again.  I wonder if he'd go weeks and weeks and weeks without showering or wearing dirty clothes or if he'd start doing everything himself because HE is in charge and we aren't nagging him all the time.

The issue with my third child has become wiping. My four year old, like most four year olds, is not a good wiper.  You can tell when he comes home from preschool if he pooped there or not.  I still try to help him now and then and he does bathe regularly because of that!  All little kids tend to do is make a huge mess.  He'll get it all over the place and it's so gross! 

My own personal hygiene has improved since my kids have gotten older.  I now have the luxury of showering daily!  One never thinks that would be an accomplishment but for all of you with small children you know how easy it is for you to go a whole day without a shower!  Now my showering issue has been my lack of focus while I'm in the shower.  I need to get in, wash up and get out but instead I am thinking of so many other things that I've got to do and I forget whether or not I've washed my hair.  Yes, I have forgotten whether or not I've washed my hair!  I'll be so deep in thought that I don't remember what I did in the shower. I'll look around for evidence of shampoo suds on the shower curtain or walls and if I don't see any I'll just shampoo my hair again just to make sure.  One time after I got out of the shower I realized I had shaved one leg and not the other!  I must have really been deep in thought that day. 

I rarely ever forget to brush my teeth but I know I have on a rare occassion or two left the house without deoderant and I HATE that!  I need to put a travel deoderant in my purse because even if I didn't get a shower that day I can at least put on a fresh layer of deoderant.

Ya know what I do almost every day? I wash. Personal hygiene is part of the package with me.
Jim Carrey