Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

For Halloween this year, we kept things a little low-key, which is just fine for our family!  We decorated pumpkins, the boys painted and the girls made glitter pumpkins!


He really enjoyed painting, I think this was his first art project that he worked on for longer than 2 minutes!

You should see all the glitter on our front steps!

She REALLY likes glitter!

See!

He had a long story about his pumpkin painting, it was a really good story (I just can't remember it!)

Working hard!

Glitter!

I love this one...they all look so peaceful and calm!
 Our celebration included going to Trunk-or-Treat at the kids school!

School parties and a parade...in Jack's class, they played awesome games, had a contest to see who decorated a classmate the best mummy, and pudding, pretzels, cookies, and juice.  Molly's class painted paper pumpkin bags, played games, sang songs, and ate Swiss Cake Rolls (um, delicious and a little jealous), pretzels, and juice!

And of course, Trick-or-Treat!
They're all saying "Trick-or-Treat"

I love them!  
Happy Halloween!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cub Scout Cake


Jack is in his first year of Cub Scouts and he loves it!  So far, the guys have been on a field trip to Mahaffie Farmstead and bowling, which both earned him a badge.  Last night, Jack had to make a Halloween cake for the cake walk the pack (I really can't keep track of all of these packs, dens, and who leads which group).

After scouring Pinterest, of course, we decided to make a polka dot cake frosted and top with plastic spiders.  Creative and easy!  The actual polka dot where we found our inspiration is a lot cuter but for a 6 year old and myself, we did pretty good!

Polka dots are really cake balls!  We made the cake balls first, bake a cake according to the directions, once cool, break into small pieces and mix with a whole container of frosting.  Yes, the entire container.  Mix and make into balls!

Ready to bake!

1st step, make cake balls!  He sampled about every other cake ball! (and I promise we're not alcoholics, those are all empty wine and champagne bottles...wait, that makes it sound worse!  We like wine!)
Once the cake balls were assembled, we baked another cake, but once we made the batter, we placed the cake balls into the cake pan and poured the cake batter on top.  Bake according to the directions on the box.  We had to let the cake cool overnight, and in the morning, Jack had school, so I put the base layer of frosting on the cake during the day.  After school, Jack got to work!
Frosting the cake!  Concentration at it's finest folks!  

Yum!  A little bummed we didn't take a picture of the polka dots, but we've been requested to make the cake again by Eric and Molly!

He really wanted to help frost the cake!

"That's not fair that Jack won't share his cake!"  End quote from Molly!

The final product and our favorite Cub Scout!  He added the spiders all by himself!
He was so proud of his cake and I look forward to our baking adventures with the holidays coming up!  He came home with a cake baked by his friend Ethan and it was delicious!  Good job Jack!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Menu Planning

Hi, my name is Liz and I have a problem...I can't menu plan at all and I seem to go to the grocery store, Wal-Mart, Target or Costco multiple times a week.  Which equals a budget out of whack and us going way over budget and a lot of eating out!  How easy is it to just throw in the towel and order a pizza?  Not anymore!  Our family is getting back on the budget and I've got to get me more organized with our menu planning!  No more trips to multiple stores several times a week!  And stick to the menu and list! 

Side note:  Went to the grocery store on Friday, Saturday morning, Eric's asked when I'm going to the grocery store next, for real?!  What did he need?  "We're running low on bbq sauce and salsa."  Does that ever happen to you?  I was just there!  Or, get home a realize you're 100% out of shampoo?  So annoying!

So, to keep our family on track with the budget and menu, I'm going to blog every Monday (fingers crossed, this is a huge commitment for me to promise to blog on this particular day) our menu for the week!  I can do this!  I will try, again, fingers crossed, to include the recipes and resource where I found the recipe.  To be quite honest, 99.8% are from Pinterest!  Lord help me if Pinterest ever goes away!  

Usually by the weekend, I'm done!  I need a break from all the cooking but realistically, that can't happen!  Our family has three growing, active children who can eat like grown adults, when they want!   Plus, on the weekends, I have to make lunch for everyone!  During the week, Jack takes his lunch to school and Eric will take leftovers or go out, so I really don't have to worry about them.  Molly and Will like cheese and crackers, hot dogs, easy, quick meals. And I like lighter meals for lunch, usually soup or salad or eggs.  That doesn't fly for my whole crew by the time Saturday rolls around!   But weekends come around and everyone wants a meal and I'm waving the flag, not quite sure what to make for everyone but don't want to go out but I really do!  

I like budget-friendly, healthy and needs to be good to at least 3 of us...we're all picky in our weird ways, so 3 of us usually have to eat and like it for me to make the recipe again.  Seems easy enough, right?

So, here is our menu for the week!  Let me know your thoughts or any recipes your family loves!  

Monday, October 29th:  
English Muffin Pizza's 
Pretty easy, and we have a busy night tonight, so easy is good on these busy nights!  

1 package of English Muffins
1 jar of pizza sauce (I buy whatever is on sale)
1 package of mozzarella cheese
1 package of pepperoni (I used turkey pepperoni)

Assemble and bake at 350 until cheese is melted!

I'll also have strawberries with the pizzas!

Tuesday, October 30th:
Another busy night!  Trunk or Treat and I have Pilate's (rough life, I know!)
Snacks!  One of our family favorites!
Cheese, crackers, lunch meat, cut up and assembled on a plate (I used a variety)
Little smokies heated up in bbq sauce (maybe that's why we needed more?)
Fruit
Popcorn
Carrots and Ranch
Hummus and Cucumbers

Wednesday, October 31st:  
Happy Halloween!  Making these cuties I found on Pinterest!



1 package of hot dogs
1 package of crescent rolls, Pillsbury are the best!  Do not go generic!
Wrap rolls around dogs and bake according to package directions
Ketchup and Mustard!  
Grapes on the side!  Yum!  

Thursday, November 1st:
Leftovers!  I'm not going to include the recipes from these because they are made in our house very frequently!
Jambalaya
Chicken Gyros
Roast
Philly Cheese Steaks 
Mummy Dogs (I can almost guarantee that there will be leftovers...I have 3 excited little children who are so excited to Trick or Treat!)

Friday, November 2nd:
Panera Mac and Cheese!
Yummy and so good!  Not the healthiest recipe, but we're going to have broccoli with it, so it's all good!
1 (16-ounce) package of rigati pasta (or other small pasta shells) 
¼ cup butter 
½ cup all-purpose flour 
2½ cups 2% reduced fat milk (or cream) 
6 slices white American cheese, chopped 
1 cup (8 ounces) shredded extra-sharp white Vermont cheddar 
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
¼ teaspoon hot sauce 


I usually eliminate the hot sauce and if I can't find the Vermont cheddar, I substitute with a different cheese, usually just extra sharp!  

Cook noodles as directed on the package
Melt butter in a Dutch oven, whisk in flour and milk over low heat, when blended remove from heat.
Stir in rest of ingredients, delicious! 



Saturday, November 3rd:
Deep breath...here we go!

Lunch:  Chicken Nuggets, chips and grapes
I know, not the healthiest but it is a crowd pleaser!  And they are pretty healthy, compared to McDonald's!
Eric and I will might make a sandwich, or he'll heat up burgers leftover from the summer that are still in our freezer!

Dinner:  Chicken Soup with Lentils
I might put in noodles for the kids, but I just love chicken soup and it's made in the crock pot, my favorite!  Yum!  And we will have a weeks worth of leftovers for my lunch!  Awesome!
Found the recipe on Pinterest!



5 cups of chicken broth (boxed or can is fine, I sometimes make my own, not this time!)
One 10.75 oz can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup onions, chopped fine
1/2 cup celery, chopped fine
1/2 cup carrots, chopped fine
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
One 15 oz can of whole kernel corn, drained
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup Egg noodles
2 cups chicken chopped 

Add everything but the noodles and cooked chicken to the crock pot on Low for 5-6 hours, the last hour turn on High, and add noodles and chicken.


Like I said, I might not add the noodles but am going to throw in lentils!  We have rolls in our freezer, so I'll warm those up and I'm sure we'll have some fruit with the meal too!

Sunday, November 4th
Lunch:  Chili!  Yum!

1 lb ground meat 
1 1/2 C each kidney and pinto beans
2 4 oz cans of tomato sauce
1/2 onion cut up in small pieces
Chili seasoning

Ground up meat, add onions and when everything is cooked, add the rest, turn to low, and simmer!  I don't add tomatoes to my chili because someone doesn't like tomatoes, and it's not me!

Top with cheese, green onions, chili cheese Frito's (I have a small crush on these), saltines, whatever you like!

Dinner:  Italian Chicken, I think this is the first meal I ever learned to  make!  
Take a bottle of Italian dressing, dump it in a Ziploc baggies with chicken, marinate for however long, I try for at least a day!

Bake 350 degrees for about 40ish minutes
Serving with rice and green beans


Here's hoping I can stick to the menu and get better prepared for the weeks ahead!
Would love to hear your favorite recipes!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

NASCAR Sunday

This past weekend, NASCAR was in town and guess who is the biggest NASCAR fan?  Our Jack!  His two favorite drivers are Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson but he knows who drives the M & M car, Lowes, Home Depot, etc.  So, Eric, Jack and Eric's brother Todd left early Sunday morning to tailgate, walk around the track with their pit passes, and watch the race!

Seriously, there's really no detail to go into...they ate doughnuts for breakfast, tailgated and made hot dogs, went inside and walked around and on the track with the pit passes, saw all the cars, stood on pit row, and watched all the drivers be introduced from the pit!  This means nothing to me, but Jack loved every second!

Once they got to their seats and the race started, they watched tons of cars drive around in a big oval and crash for 4 hours.

After the race, they headed home, Jack fell asleep and they came home!  When I was saying good-night to him and doing prayers, he thanked God for, "the best day ever.  In my whole life!"

In front of Farmers, Kasey Kahne's sponsor!  That's one happy boy!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bragging About My Girl

Molly is our sweet,loving, talkative, girl who can be a handful but so can our boys but I couldn't imagine life without her!  I've told some crazy Molly stories before, today is a sweet one about her.  She does some silly, crazy stuff that usually leaves me speechless but the story I'm going to share is a wonderful reminder about how sweet and special our little girl is too.

Molly goes to the preschool at Jack's elementary school and is enrolled in the Peer Model Program, meaning she is in a class of typically developing children and children with a wide range of developmental delays, ranging from speech to autism and everything in between.  The classroom is a wonderful mix of Para's and teachers helping all the children interact, play, and learn.  I have felt, up until Tuesday, that she wasn't getting much out of preschool and thoughts of pulling her out and sending her to a new cross my mind almost weekly.  The main reason for these feelings was the lack of artwork being sent home, the lack of info in general we didn't know about the class, and the way Molly didn't share much about her day.  

Let's get to Tuesday.  I receive an email from her teacher in the middle of the afternoon and she is sending praises about our sweet girl.  "Without any prompting from us she will go and take the hand of a child with special needs and lead them to an activity.  She is patient with them when they can’t do things quite the same and prompts them to take turns when appropriate."  The email goes on and on about how she is a wonderful leader, helper and guide to special needs children and all the children in the classroom, even though she is quiet!

Sigh, so proud of our girl!  

I went today up to the school to meet with the principal, no worries...all good, and she had heard about our wonderful Molly!  She was impressed by a 4 year old being such a role model!  

After the meeting with our principal, I had to go to Molly's room to check on something and loved seeing her in school!  She ignored me of course but her other teacher took me aside and reiterated what the email said, what a sweet girl, helper, role model she was, but also her patience to teach and learn, taking time to guide her peers, and she predicted Molly would be a teacher someday.  

We our so proud of our Molly!  We went out for ice cream to celebrate the other night, love me some Baskin Robbins!  Yay Molly!

What a sweetie!  We love you Molly!

Fire Truck Birthday Party

To start, Mother of the Year took one picture of my son's 3rd birthday party.  But he had a lot of fun and that's the most important part...right?!  Big time fail on my part!  Continue reading now...

When Will told me he wanted a fire truck birthday party, I thought this would be the easiest party ever.  October is fire safety month and tons of boys love fire trucks, there had to be plates, cups, and all party supplies at Hobby Lobby or Party City.  Wrong!  I found nothing!  After searching five stores for invites and a huge knot forming in my stomach from not finding anything fire related, I went home and searched the internet aka Pinterest!  I found amazing parties, if you have a $1000 budget!  Really, rent a fire truck that serves pizzas?  Awesome but no.  I found a ton of stuff on Etsy too, but it was really expensive for a kid party.  Evite didn't have an invite either!  Panic!  I finally found some on Amazon, very cute, inexpensive and exactly what I wanted!  Whew!  But...still no plates, cups, napkins, nothing with a fire truck!  Seriously shocked!  My mom had to special order the party favors~fire fighter hats and fire truck tattoos!  Crazy!

Since I stressed and worried about finding the right "stuff,"  the party ended up being very easy!  I cleaned the house, hung red, white and black streamers from our ceiling, made red and black pom poms from tissue paper, and we had red and black napkins.  He wanted pizza, so luckily, Papa Murphy's had $5 cheese and pepperoni pizza's on Fridays, I ordered 10!  Delicious and a crowd pleaser!  I looked everywhere for the perfect cake and was so excited to make a fire truck cake, but he doesn't like cake, so I ordered a Dairy Queen ice cream cake with a fire truck!  Perfect and easy!

For snacks, we had gummy bears (Will's favorite), licorice ropes, and pretzels with red almond bark on the end...matches!  A huge hit!


Since this was our first get together with our family and friends since moving here, we had quite a group!  Both sets of grandparents, Eric's grandma Mogo, several aunts and uncles, my cousin, our kids second cousin, and lots of our friends!  All the men gathered in the kitchen with me to watch the Ryder Cup (it was odd having so many men in there with me while I made pizza) and all the women without kids hung out in our family room.  Eventually the men split up and half ended up in the basement with the kids, seems like the men with kids were down there, and the older men stayed with me, mainly my dad and father-in-law!  The kids spent most of there time outside and in our basement, while the "older" boys, Jack and his friends, played with Legos and kept the younger ones away!  "You can't choke on a Lego!"  I heard someone shout during the party!

Will and the rest of the kids loved all of his presents!  Three fire trucks, a Dreamlite (Molly is NEEDING one now), a Cars backpack, a doctor's kit (strangely it's new spot is Molly's room), a piggy bank (he LOVES it), and even some gift cards and money!  Not too bad for turning 3!

Of course, Mother of the Year didn't take any pictures, I was a tad busy making pizzas!  But still!  What is wrong with me?  Luckily, my sweet Mother-in-law took some and when Will blew out his candles, I think the paparazzi showed up!



Thanks for everyone who made Will's birthday so special! He is so loved!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

3 Years Ago Today...

This sweet little boy entered the world and changed our lives forever!  He is the sweetest, most giving, honest, fun-loving, caring, happiest, charming little boy!

Minutes old, born at 10:20 pm on October 4th, after a very short and easy labor and delivery!
Will loves ALL trucks, especially fire trucks, trash trucks, horse trailers being pulled by a truck, and tractors.  He loves Cars and Lightning McQueen, but has not once ever sat through either movie!  He loves matchbox cars, and loves to line up all his trucks and cars and could play with them for hours.

One of his true loves, his truck, horsey trailer, and horses!  From his 2nd birthday last year!

He loves milk, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, Cheetos, raisins, hummus, and ice cream!  He dislikes peanut butter, all types of pasta, and cake (he will eat frosting).


7 months old and loving his Cheerios!

Covered in blue berries!  9 months old!



Will throws a ball and catches, loves to play catch, ride his trike and red car, taking walks and playing outside!  He would stay outside all day if we let him, he is so happy when he's outside!

Zube Park in Houston, TX...we were so excited to ride on the trains!

Taking a walk with Daddy!


Will's favorite shows are Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, he loves Mickey and Pluto, he also loves Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Super Why, and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood (think that's my favorite, it's the cutest show)!

Handsome Fella at 13 months!


He loves to sing, play with instruments, and actually carries a good tune!  He really loved our Kindermusik days!

How loved our Kindermusik, Ms. Kathy and her big drum!


He loves his brother and sister more then anything!  He is truly the best little brother ever!

I could eat them all!


At night and naps, Will must have:  1. His blanket (There may be melt downs if blanket is missing, he loves his blanket!)  2.  A cup of water  3.  All of his stuff animal, about 6.  A penguin, Elmo, Mickey, a hippo, the dog from Up, and a new addition, his puppy Dreamlite!  4.  The fan on  5.  His noise machine.  He gets his high maintenance from me.

1 week old!


Will is the best snuggler!  Every morning, he climbs in bed with us and we snuggle for a good 15 minutes.  It is the BEST way to wake up!  He is almost always up for a hug and giving a snuggle!  I sometimes call him my snuggle puggle, since he is our Puggy Bear!

Snuggles with my Puggles!  Thanksgiving 2010

He loves to help clean up, put things away, unload the dishwasher, anything!  He really just loves to be with people, so if we're cleaning, pulling weeds, or vacuuming, he is right there helping!
By far one of my favorite pictures of him!

Different day, no clothes and helping the in the dishwasher!


Life would be so boring and dull without our Will!  Happy Birthday, Will!  

Will's Birthday Party last weekend!



We love you so much!  Daddy, Mommy, Jack and Molly

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Best Birthday Ever!

Last week, I celebrated my 33rd birthday!  The day was a top five birthday and I was spoiled rotten by my family, especially my sweet husband!

I woke up to him saying, "I took the day off and you have a massage at 9.  Go and enjoy your day!  Just be home by 5."  Um...OK!  He got the kids fed, dressed, made Jack's lunch, and took everyone to school, while I took my time getting ready and enjoyed my coffee!  Heaven.

I had to arrive to my massage early, so I got there about 25 minutes, changed into a robe, and soaked my feet in a hot tub.  And just sat in the quiet, relaxing, peaceful room.  My hour massage was a head to toe body massage and it was the BEST EVER!  My last massage was in November 2005, I was 5 months pregnant with Jack, and I'm not sure why I waited 7 years for this massage...I promise my next massage will not be 7 years from now!  When I'll be...gulp...40!  After the massage, I took about a 25 minute steam shower, amazing, and took my time getting ready!  The massage was at one of my favorite salons and it's an Aveda salon, I love all of the products and luckily, I used all the products after my shower!  Hair gel?  Sure!  Lotion?  Of course!

I left feeling refreshed and a little unsure about my freedom!  No schedules, car seats, kids to feed, a new experience for me on Wednesday!  I ran errands, went to stores I would never go to with children, and took my time looking at everything!  It was so much fun!  I went home around 1 to eat lunch, nap, and chat with all my friends who sent such sweet texts, emails, and called!  I prepared things for Will's birthday party (next post!) and had time to catch up with my favorite Housewives from New Jersey!

At 5, we all headed down to the Plaza for dinner at Buca di Pepo!  Yummy!  We had our rehearsal dinner there and my sister-in-laws high school graduation dinner there at the kitchen table, so much fun and a great place full of memories!  The kids loved it and were slightly overwhelmed with everything to look at!  Of course, our booth had a photo of two boxers in a fight and they all thought it was hilarious that there were "two boys in their underwear on the wall!"  The only down part of the day was being embarrassed by all the waiters singing "Happy Birthday" to me in front of the everyone.

We walked around the Plaza a little bit and then headed home to eat ice cream cake and open presents!  The cake was delicious and I'm excited to start using my Kindle Fire!  Someone read my blog!  What a sweet family I have!

Part of the birthday fun is having Will's birthday eight days after mine!  His party was last Saturday and we will celebrate him turning 3 this week!  Thanks for all the birthday love!