Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Secret Ingredient Is.....

Cottage Cheese!  Who knew.  I hate the stuff and won't touch it with a 10ft pole.  I had a roommate in college who would eat the stuff by the gallon with pineapple.  Looked and smelled disgusting. I come from a long line of "will not eat anything white" eaters.  I'm very proud to say that this is something that I have not passed on to my kids - except for mayonnaise and plain yogurt.  But come on, that stuff is no good.   My kids don't like cottage cheese either.  Honestly, thought I'm not 100% sure on that because it is the one food that I have never ever bought, brought into the house or given them.  Before today that is!

I make excellent Eggplant Parmesan.  I'm talking world famous, better than what you get in a restaurant Eggplant Parmesan.  Normally I make this twice a year.  Once at Christmas and once to do a trial run before Christmas.  I have been making this for years and my family is a huge fan of this dish.  If word gets out that I did a trial run and didn't let my brother or sister know, I'm in trouble! When I say my family, I mean MY family.  My people - my mom, brother, sisters, old friends etc.  I think my husband and kids can take it or leave it, but I don't think they really appreciate it.  They didn't grown up in an Italian Catholic Jersey Household.  A culture in itself, wouldn't you say!

So anyway, I make this dish.  It is very time consuming and not that healthy. When I make it for Christmas it takes a good part of the day and I make it old-school from scratch, right down to the frying. I've tried putting it together in advance and baking it the day of, but it never tastes the same.  I also know that it isn't the healthiest dish out there.  Which is why I only make it a few times a year!

 While at the beach recently, I picked up a magazine that my mom had laying around (yes, I actually had time to sit and look at a magazine - thanks Mom for watching the kids) and saw a recipe for Vegetable Lasagna.   I was intrigued - the main headline of this recipe was cheap & easy -which I am all about!  Upon further inspection, I realized that the recipe wasn't for lasagna at all, but it was an updated Eggplant Parm recipe.  I made it this evening for dinner and the jury is still out.  My three little ones (6 year old and 4 year old twins) would not touch it.  I'm curious to see what my husband and oldest son think!

I pretty much followed my recipe (sorry - can't share this one!)  but incorporated a few of the healthier aspects from this magazine recipe.  Instead of frying the eggplant, I baked it.  Instead of using a lot of heavy cheese (Ricotta & Mozzarella) and eggs in the filling mixture I used cottage cheese.  I liked it. I really liked it.  Who knew!  The cottage cheese made it much lighter and smoother.  The next time I make baked ziti or lasagna I will be using cottage cheese again!

What are some tricks that you have to lighten up some of your favorite recipes?  Or, are you a "sneaker" do you need to put purees in your food to get your kids to eat more veggies?

Thanks for stopping by & have a great evening!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rise and Shine! It's Breakfast Time!

My oldest son is not a morning person.  He is also not a breakfast person.  He does not like to eat when he first wakes up.  He is content to wait a few hours, then eat cold fried rice for breakfast!  On school mornings we do not have time for this.  I also am a believer in breakfast.  Especially on school days.  We need to make the bus, and that means my children need to eat before they leave.  I am always on the look out for cheap and easy recipes.  I have two that I have tested out this past week and know they will come in handy for school mornings!

 Stuffed French Toast  
These are the placemats my friend brought me back from India!

I see this recipe becoming a family favorite!  It was easy to make, I used ingredients that I had on hand.  You can even assemble the night before and bake in the morning!

6 Slices of Bread (I used whole wheat because that is what we had!)
3 Eggs
1/4 c Skim Milk
1 tbsp. Cinnamon
1 tbsp. Vanilla
1 tbsp. Brown Sugar + more to sprinkle on top
8 oz. Cream Cheese  (see picture)
1 1/2 c Blueberries
Cooking Spray
I happened to have this flavor on hand & it worked out great!
I keep blueberries on hand in freezer.  We picked them earlier this summer!

-Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
-Take a small casserole dish and spray with cooking spray
-Take two slices of bread spread with cream cheese, place them in dish cream cheese side up
-Take two slices of bread, spread with cream cheese, place them cream cheese side down on top of other slices
-Spread cream cheese on top of two slices you just placed in dish
-Take two more slices of bread spread with cream cheese, place them in dish cream cheese side down
-In small bowl, beat eggs, add in milk, vanilla, cinnamon and brown sugar.  You can adjust ratios of cinnamon, vanilla and brown sugar based on your preferences.   Pour mixture over bread.
-Top with Blueberries, sprinkle with Brown Sugar
-Bake for 35 minutes
-Serve warm & enjoy!

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
You read that right.  Cookies for breakfast.  Not only do they taste good, but they are good for you!  I made a test batch of these last week and they were gone within 15 minutes!  Super easy to make and the kids can do pretty much all the work.  That is win-win!

2 Large Ripe Bananas
1 c Quick Cooking Oats
1/4 C Raisins
Cooking Spray
-Pre-Heat Oven to 350 degrees
-Generously Spray your cookie sheet with nonstick spray
-Mash Bananas in bowl
-Add Oats
-Mix well
-Add Raisins
-Mix well
-Form into balls and place on cookie sheet
-Press down into disc shape
-Bake For 15 minutes
Makes approximately 16 cookies.
These are best served warm.  On school mornings I am going to make a half batch and bake them in my toaster oven!
Thanks for stopping by.  Please let me know if you try either of these.  Your kitchen will smell great while they are baking! 

Please note: my Oatmeal Cookie Recipe is adapted from one I found on The Burlap Bag.  They are very cool and have lots of yummy cookie recipes! Please check them out!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back to Schoo Tip

Does your child require prescription medicine to be left at school?

My daughter needs an epi pen for her peanut allergy.  This is left with the school nurse.  The Epi Pen needs to be left at the school in the original packaging from the pharmacy.  This means I do not have the box or prescription number if I need a refill.  Yes, the pharmacist can always look it up.  But, I am all about saving time and I prefer to use automated systems whenever possible! 

Here is a little tip - take a picture of the prescription box with your phone.  Make sure you get the full pharmacy label on the box, including prescription # and pharmacy phone number.  You will have it with you pretty much at all times and don't need to waste time when you need a refill.

Also, if you are heading to a doctor's appointment, it is much easier (and quicker) to take a picture of all your current prescription medications with your phone instead of writing everything down.  This way you have exact dosage and can quickly pull that up along with correct spelling of medication.  I did this with a recent visit to my cardiologist and the nurse was impressed!

Have a great night!

Easy Asian Inspired Entree

You all know that I am a huge fan of cooking once and eating twice (or sometimes 3x!) from the same key ingredient.  This minimizes my time in the kitchen, maximizes my time with my kids and helps to disguise the dreaded "left over"!

My kids are a huge fan of Chinese food.  Take out can get pricey and is very tricky to navigate pick up with four hungry kids!  I have started making the following recipe on a regular basis.  It is super easy and most importantly my kids love it!

Pork Fried Rice

The first time I made this my oldest son told me it was the best thing I ever made.  Ever.  My youngest son told me it was better that the Chinese Restaurant.  Both very high compliments from these two!  I make this dish with leftover pork tenderloin.  In fact, we are having this tonight.  Last night I made a pork tenderloin on the grill.  Super easy - heat up your grill on high for five minutes.  While that is heating rub a pork rub on the tenderloin.  When grill is hot, turn down to medium and throw the tenderloin on.  Cook for 20 minutes.  Flip. Cook for another 20 minutes, and you are done!  Here is what you need to make the Fried Rice Dish:

-2 cups cooked cubed pork
-1 bag of peas & carrots frozen mixed vegetables
-chopped onions or scallions (about 1/4 Cup - my kids don't like onions)
-3 eggs
-2 cups cooked rice (great way to use your leftover rice!)
-Soy Sauce
-Canola Oil

Take a frying pan (we don't have a wok - note to husband, woks are not suitable birthday gifts) and spray it with cooking spray. Take your eggs, whisk them together and add to pan.  Cook in your fry pan until scrambled.  Remove eggs from pan and place in separate dish.  Clean pan.

Add canola oil to clean pan (a few tablespoons).  When pan has been heated, add onions, then add peas & carrot mixture.  Cook until tender.  Add pork.  Mix together until heated through.  Add rice.  Stir.  Keep stirring so nothing sticks or burns.  Add soy sauce  - enough to cover - about 1/2 bottle.  (We use the low sodium or sodium free one.)  Keep stirring!  Add in cooked eggs. Stir everything together, cook a few more minutes until everything is heated throughout and your are done!

Easy Pork Fried Rice

If you do not eat pork or are not a fan, you could definitely substitute chicken.

I have a great Beef &  Broccoli recipe that I will post soon!

Thanks for stopping by!  How do you give your left overs a second life?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Easy Enchiladas!

I am all about cooking once, eating twice.   Cooking things that let me spend the minimum time in the kitchen and the maximum time with my kids!  So what does this mean!?!  I cook something and get two meals out of it.  One of my all time favorite things is oven roasted chicken.  You can do so much with this versatile protein.  This is something that I cook year round.  Last Thursday I made my chicken and was able to get three meals out of it!  We had the roasted chicken Thursday night with vegetables for dinner.  On Saturday I made chicken salad for lunch.  After lunch, I took the left over chicken shredded it and put it in the freezer.  This morning I took my bag of shredded chicken (about 2lbs) out of the freezer, put it in the fridge and by 5pm it was ready to go!   For tonight's dinner, we used the shredded chicken in Enchiladas.  We will have an easy, quick and homemade meal that not only tastes great but is pocketbook friendly too!

-2 small cans Enchilada Sauce
-Shredded Chicken (I had about 2lbs left)
-1 bag Shredded Cheddar Cheese
-1 tablespoon of Sour Cream
-1 pack of Tortillas

My kids like the mild sauce.  The sauce with the Green Chile is great too!

-Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
-Take a Pyrex Pan (or casserole dish). Pour 1/2 can of sauce on bottom of pan
-Take your chicken and put it in a large microwave safe, mixing bowl, add remaining 1/2 can of sauce, sour cream and 1/2 the bag of cheese.
-Mix well
-Microwave chicken mixture on high for 1 minute, 30 seconds
-Take each tortilla and fill with a scoop of the chicken mixture, roll and place in pan
-Repeat until you run out of chicken mixture
-Pour 2nd can of Enchilada Sauce on top
-Top with Remaining Cheese
-Bake for 20-25 minutes, cheese will be nicely melted

This is what the chicken mixture should look like

This is a dish that not only my children love to eat, but they love to help make!

Getting ready to go in the oven!


Just out of the oven.  Smells Great!

We will serve this with a salad or black beans on the side. If you make it at home, please be sure to let me know what you think!  What are some of your favorite cook once, eat twice meals?

Thanks for stopping by & enjoy your evening!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I used THE Soap!

"Thanks so much, I love it! I'm going to save it."

"That is so pretty.  It is too nice to use.  I'm going to save it."

"Wow.  That is so sweet.  I'm going to save these."

How many time have you received something or purchased something for yourself and immediately said one of those sentences?  What are you "saving" these things for?!  I am a "saver".  I have a weird collection of items in my closet that are "too nice" to use and I'm saving them!  I don't know what I am saving them for, but let me tell you, when the Apocalypse comes, I'm going to look great in my cashmere sweater and smell great from my hand milled soap collection!

Last week we had a house guest.  He was very sweet and brought me some very nice hand milled soaps.  A few days later, my daughter asked if she could use one of the soaps in her bath.  My response, "no,  I'm going to save them".  She innocently asked, "for what Mommy?"  That stumped me.  I had no idea! Why I am I saving this soap? And why I am saving all of that other stuff?  Stuff that is too nice to use or wear.

I am not going to think like that anymore!  So, we opened the soap (oatmeal honey) and my little girl felt so special to use it and had  pretty, soft skin after her bath!

Are you a saver?  What are some of the things that you have been saving?  Me, mainly high end sweaters and soap. I do have some random things as well!  One of my girlfriends gave me a beautiful set of placements and napkins from India.  Before, they would have gone in the drawer, because I needed to save them and they were too pretty to use.  I'm proud to say they look beautiful on my dining room table.  Every time I walk by, I see the pretty flowers and think of my friend.  We haven't actually used the placemats yet, but they are out and I am enjoying them!  Now, I'm not about to put out my white hand towels with the embroidered shamrocks, because I know they will be ruined in minutes.  But, I do believe I have a set of Vera Bradley Paperclips in my closet that I'm going to dig out and put on my desk......

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a great day!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

She's so lost....

That is what I heard my six year old daughter whisper to her eight year old brother the other day.  We were driving to camp.  It was the kids first day of camp and we had been there many, many times before. (My four kids did an awesome three day camp program at Pump It Up in Leesburg, VA. 9-3 each day!!)

Next I heard,  "Mom are you sure you know where you are going? Maybe you should just use the GPS.  It is there to help you".  Now, I am the first to admit I can't really read a map and I am challenged when it comes to directions and often I do utilize the lady that lives in the dashboard to help me.  But, not this time.  I really did know where I was going.  This did not put my daughter at ease.  She was anxious and she didn't want to be late to camp!

Then I started having flashbacks of when I was child.  My younger sister and I in the backseat of the station wagon.  Having no idea where we were going, and believing that our mom didn't either.  "Mom, maybe we should stop at that gas station and ask for directions" or "Mom, there is a lady walking a dog, maybe we can just ask her".  This was before the days of cell phones and GPS.  No lady in the dashboard to help us!

Thankfully, my children can read maps.  When he was a toddler my oldest would spend hours looking at maps.  Every time my sister would go to Disney, we asked her to bring back some Park maps.  This would keep my son entertained in the stroller our if we went out to eat.  Still to this day, when we are on vacation, I pick up a few of those "freebie" guide books and let my kids read them while we are waiting for dinner.

Are you direction challenged?  What are some tips that you use to help stay sane?

Thanks for stopping by & enjoy your weekend!

Friday, July 26, 2013


I just made hard boiled eggs in the microwave.  Yes, the microwave!  I am so excited, I just had to share this little tip!

-Take a large microwave safe bowl, fill it 1/2 way with water
-Microwave on high for 3 minutes
-Add your eggs (I did two)
-Microwave on 50% for 8 minutes

I am going to go enjoy some egg salad for lunch!

What do you use your microwave for?  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Multiplicity Magazine - Summer 2013

The summer issue is here!  Be sure to check out my article on page 8!

Click below for link.  Happy Reading!

Multiplicity Summer 2013

and the back to school drama continues...

Last I checked, it was July.  July 16th to be exact.  My older two kids (8 year old son and 6 year old daughter) go back to school on September 3rd.  Roughly 48 days (not that I'm counting).  I have no idea when my twins go back.  I know it is September - their preschool will email or mail me something so we show up on the correct date and time!

My 6 year old has become a back to school drama queen.  It is way too early in the summer for this, we have plenty of more pool days and a trip to the beach ahead of us before I am ready to throw in the towel on summer!  The most recent drama was over the backpacks (read my last post on the Great Back Pack Debate to catch up!).  This was settled amicably.  For giving up the Hello Kitty Backpack, we reached an agreement or settlement I should say!  Backpack from brand of mom's choice, pattern of kid's choice and one Hello Kitty Lunchbox with a pink sequin bow.  Hopefully the sequins will not fall off into my daughter's lunch, but that is a story for another time.  Backpacks ordered and delivered! (I scored some really, really cutes ones too!  Landsend was having amazing clearance sales - back packs were $14.99 each + free shipping.  I know these bags are going to last a few years too.)  I ordered back packs for my three little ones (6 year old and 4 year old twins).  I was not planning on getting my oldest son a new back pack this year (he has a great one from last year that is just fine).  But, with the money I saved on the other backpacks and a nice 30% off Kohl's coupon from Grandma, my oldest will be sporting a brand new back pack at the bus stop too!  (this was so much easier - I gave him a price point, pulled up the Kohl's website and he did a great job picking it out himself!)

Walmart & Target have started the back to school sales already.  I was able to finish my shopping and get some really, really good deals.  I made the mistake of taking three of the kid with me on Sunday to Walmart.  Sunday at Walmart is scary busy to begin with, then add in the kids!  We went and were prepared.  We had the list from the school with what we needed to buy for each class.  Of course the 6 year old did not want any of the items that are required for first grade.  She wanted notebooks and folders with Hello Kitty, sparkles and puppies!  I did give in for one Hello Kitty folder (97 cents that my daughter promised she would pay for!)  and we went with the "good stuff" on the school supplies.  My children will be returning to school this year with name brand products too (apparently my daughter is still upset about taking in Roseart Crayons and generic glue last year that would not stick.  This year, thanks to Walmart we were able to get the brand names for a quarter each! I wonder if I scarred her for life on this glue!)

Here I thought I was in good shape!

Backpacks  - check
School Supplies - check

Next on the list, school shoes.  Of course the 6 year old wants a pair of $60 ballerina sneakers that she just has to get this week, and pretty dresses so she has them for the first week of school.  She is asking several times a day for these.  Several times.  It is July.  July 16th.   I don't think so.  She will get some new shoes, but we will hold off on these until August!

Have you started your back to school shopping yet? Are you counting the days until the bus comes?!

Thanks for stopping by!

Please note: I have not been compensated in any way, shape or form by the vendors mentioned in today's post.  This is just my personal experience and opinion.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Great Back Pack Debate, Season II

It is not even July 1st and my kids are already pestering me about backpacks.  I mean asking me about backpacks.  I'm quite pleased that they are all excited about entering their new grades, but can't we have a moratorium on school supplies until at least August 1st?

Thank you Toys R Us for sending out the sales flyer promoting backpacks (it is actually a good deal, buy one backpack get a lunch box free).  Thank you Pottery Barn and Lands End too for sending out your fall catalogues.  My children will get new shoes and backpacks for school, but we will hold off on new school clothes until October.  If  I bought their fall sweaters and pants now, they would not fit my kids come the fall!  (Another bonus, here in Virginia it stays pretty warm until at least Columbus Day and they can wear their summer clothes with some new pieces bought at end of season sales!)

But, I digress from the backpacks.  My six year old is begging.  Begging and pleading for a Hello Kitty Back Pack on Wheels.  The backpack is only$16.99 and won't break the bank and it does come with a free lunch box.  I'm a little hesitant for a few reasons:

-It is June.  We haven't been out of school for even a month yet.
-Hello Kitty is this week's selection, next week it will be La la loopsy or something else
-I really do not like buying my kids "character" items
-I'm sure the super affordable $16.99 roller back pack will be broken by October 1st!

The little kids and I spent a great deal of time this morning on other websites.  Searching for a backpack that they would like.  I do want them to be involved in the selection, but would rather spend my money on a backpack that will last.  When my oldest started preschool 5 years ago, I bought him his first back pack at LL Bean.  We still have the bag and use it to tote toys and games to Grandma's.  It is a little small for him to take to 3rd grade!  But you get my point!

I think I will distract her and order the backpacks using my coupon from a brand website that I know that we will get a few years out of these bags.

Have a great weekend & thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Your Mountain Is Waiting

This Sunday, my oldest niece (who is also my God Daughter) will be graduating from High School.  She is the oldest of the grandkids and first to reach this milestone.

I know I am a "dorky" Aunt.  I am okay with this. I enjoy it.  My cool factor left the building a long time ago.  Yes, I drive a mini-van and yes, I have a lot of kids.  I'm not up on the current fashion/shows/movies or music. But, I am up with love and pride for this girl!  She was my first "kid".   When she was born I was still in college.  I got to meet her within hours of her birth.   I had the pleasure of being her first babysitter, her nanny.  I would watch her several times during the week while her mom went to school and worked.  I also got to watch her on weekends (which was great - I had access to a free washer and dryer and cable TV!).  I took her to her first movie (Disney film Hercules), took her to Gymboree classes and for Ice Cream.  Took her to her first museum.  I was there for her first Halloween (she played and counted the candy - her parents didn't tell her she could eat it!).  She had her first  sleepover at my apartment and I even brought her to a sorority meeting.  I loved every minute.  When we would go out and about strangers would mistake her for my daughter.  I would politely explain that I was the Aunt.  (Except one time we were out at the mall and my niece called me Mommy (it was a phase  - she called everyone this!) and I know the lady next to us thought I was denying being a young, unwed mother!)

She will be going to college this August.  Now is the time for her to discover things for herself.  She is an adult and needs to make her own choices and find her own way.  I know she will do great!

"You're off to great places.  Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting.  So....get on your way!"

- Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What's in a Name?!

Growing up, I was one of four kids.  Three girls and one boy.  Lots of pets.  I vividly remember my mother always mixing up our names.  I was always called by one of my sisters' names.  I don't remember her ever forgetting my brother's name, but I do remember her calling my younger sister Buttons, our dog, more than once!  I never understood this.  How could my mom forget our names.  There were only four of us!  But, then it got worse.  At the grocery store we would run into someone and I would have to whisper what their name was, whose mom they were and any other important information I might have.  This was a skill that came in handy when I was an adult working.  On sales calls I could always remember not only the client's name, but the name of their spouse, their children and where they took their last vacation.  At work functions it was very easy for me to strike up conversations because I always seemed to remember an odd fact or tidbit I had picked up, making that client or member feel really important that I remembered!
Sadly, those days are long gone.  Now I find myself calling my children by the wrong name on a daily basis.  Sometimes I even find myself saying, "you there in the red shirt".  Often I can get that out faster than the correct name of the kid.  I do mix up the twins and the boys and the girls.  Luckily I have never called anyone by our pet fish's name (yet!).  But this does also extend to my kids' friends, my Daisy Troop and even other adults.  Not proud mommy moments, I know.  What happened?  Is this just another example of "Mommy  Brain"?   I know there are tricks - when you first meet someone, use their name in a sentence when you are speaking with them. That will help you remember.  You can also come up with little sayings and/or associations that will help you remember: Sally who lives by the swing and is Suzy's mom with the Siamese Cat.

Recently I was called out on this.  I ran into a neighbor that I don't see very often.  I knew her name was either Karen or Lina.  But wasn't quite sure.  She even said to me, "Hi Kathleen, I'm Lina.  I wasn't quite sure you knew what my name was."  Of course, I tried miserably to downplay it, "Hi Lina, of course I knew that was your name!".  What I really wanted to say was, "Lady, I can't remember the names of my own children, how do you expect me to remember yours!"

Has this happened to you, or am I the only one!

Thanks for stopping by & have a great day!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Vaccines are a pretty hot topic.  I am a member of several multiple clubs and was very surprised by a posting the other day. A parent of twins was not going to vaccinate his infants.  At all.   This parent was looking for feedback on this.   I did not realize just how controversial it is. (Because most of news comes from Disney Jr.  If it isn't on there, chances are I probably haven't heard about it!)   I also didn't realize what a "black and white" topic it is. People are very for or very, very against.  I was under the impression that once a child entered public school that they were required to be up to date on all vaccines.  Not so.  There are exemptions out there.  I was even more surprised to learn (from the World Health Organization) that in Western Countries, highly contagious diseases that were eradicated years ago by vaccines are on the rise: measles and pertussis to just name a few.

 There have been studies done linking mercury in vaccines to autism.  There have been other studies done, dismissing these claims.  I don't know what is right or wrong.  But for mom's who have seen immediate effects on their kids after they received a vaccine, you can't tell them that it is nothing, or there is no connection.

Last month I was at the doctor for a routine check up.  They notified me that my tetanus vaccination had expired (learned that it is only good for ten years! check yours!).  They also suggested that I get the pertussis vaccination.  There was an outbreak at one of our local schools and I am constantly around kids (my own, my Daisy Troop, my kids' classes - it never ends I'm surrounded  by kids!).  So, I went ahead and got the dtap vaccine.  The nurse let me know that it would hurt and my arm would be sore. Boy, was this an understatement!  Of course, I ended up having a reaction to it.  Day one I was fine, by day three I could not move my arm and had a lump the size of an orange at the vaccination site. Even now, six weeks later, I still have a little knot where the needle went in.

We do vaccinate our children, they are  current on their vaccinations and do follow the guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  I personally, do believe in vaccines and want to protect my children.  I did, however, break up their vaccinations.  When my children were infants, they received all of their vaccines, just not all at once.  We spread them out.  By the time they were one or two, they were all caught up.

What do you think?  Have you vaccinated your children?  Why or Why not?

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Note: Today's Blog expresses my views and opinions only.  I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.  Please consult a licensed health care practitioner for any medical advice.  Thank you! 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Saying Thank You!

With the end of the school year, along comes the opportunity to say Thank You to our teachers, coaches, bus drivers etc.   You know who they are!  These wonderful adults that work with our children all year long.  We have been very Blessed this year.  All four of my children had truly wonderful teachers.  Between all four of my kids, we have five teachers, two bus drivers, two LAX coaches and two ballet teachers we would like to show our appreciation to.  Now, this can add up quickly.  But, don't worry! There are many ways to show appreciation and thanks without breaking your budget.

Note: If you are a teacher that has one of my kids this year, you can leave the page now.  Thanks for stopping by.  Come back tomorrow!  Don't want to spoil any surprises....

Here are a few of my favorite teacher gifts.  Please leave your favorites in the comments section below!

Group Gift:  This is a great way to give a gift.  We are doing this for my son's teacher and did this for both of his LAX coaches, too.  It is very simple.  One mom volunteers to start the collection and buy the gift.  Through email, back pack mail and whispers on the field, money is collected.  Then, you can buy something really nice for your teacher or coach!  For both my son's teacher and coaches we did gift cards.  A VISA or AMEX gift card is a great gift. This way the recipient can use it anywhere. With a group, you are also usually able to give a nice amount, too.The thing you need to remember about this is  to start early. Notify the other parents well in advance.  Also, it is good to give a suggested amount, but let everyone know that any amount they can give is fantastic! One thing to watch is the service charge fees.  If you buy the cards at the grocery store, there is typically a $3-$5 activation fee per card.  Some banks do not charge this fee if you are a customer.  Check your banks website before you head out to purchase!

Gift Cards:  I am a huge fan of giving (and receiving!) gifts cards!  For Christmas we gave our teachers insulated travel mugs filled with candy and a Starbucks gift card.  This makes a very nice end of year gift, too.   With gift cards for coffee places, like Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, you can get a card for a smaller amount too, a $5 Dunkin Donuts goes a long way!  This is something that pretty much everyone will use too.  There is only one person in the world I can think of who would not like a Starbucks card, and that is my mother! (Lines are too long, coffee is too expensive and she can make a better cup of coffee at home for free.  Mom, have you ever even had a Starbucks?  I don't think so!)  But, if you give her a Starbucks card that is fine - because it is something that she can re-gift to one of her kids!  You can also get creative with a homemade card, "Thanks a Latte" for all you do", etc.  With gift cards you can usually purchase them on line and they will either email them to the recipient or mail you the actually card for no additional fee.  A great site for gift cards is Yiftee.  We just used this to send a teacher a gift card for Georgetown Cupcakes.  Who doesn't like cupcakes!  What I like about Yiftee ( is that it is electronic, city specific and supports small businesses.  Also, if you recipient doesn't like the store you sent it for, they can pick another store.  They are not stuck!

Bags:  I love bags!  Bags have a million uses.  When you are a teacher or a coach you usually have one or two of these (at least!) to haul all your stuff in.  We purchased bags for several of our teachers this year and will fill them with surprises and homemade cards.   Some of my favorite places to buy nice bags are from Thirty One and Clear Gear.  These bags are durable and just all around awesome!

Homemade Gifts:  Gifts do not need to break the bank.  A homemade gift is very personal and gets the kids involved, both of which I love!! A homemade gift can be artwork, a craft project,  baked goods, a nice potted plant, or some seasonal seeds and a watering can (check the dollar section at Target!).  For teacher appreciation week the twins and I made really beautiful cards on the computer using a photograph of my twins on the front and a nice poem inside.  Baked Goods are great.  One of my good friends gave me this great brownie recipe.  Hope she doesn't mind that I will share with you.  It is so good and so easy!  Start with your box of brownie mix.  Instead of baking it in a square or rectangle pan, bake it into cupcakes!  She made this with regular sized cupcakes using cupcake liners and they turned out perfectly.  I tried it with mini cupcake pans using a nonstick spray.  Mine did not turn out so great.  I definitely suggest using cupcake liners and you need to shorten the cooking time on the box.  Take off about 10 minutes and watch them closely.  When the toothpick comes out clean they are done.

Thanks for stopping by & have a great day!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mommy Brain

Mommy Brain.  Mommy Fog.  This phenomenon usually manifests itself first during pregnancy.  Third trimester, you know when the baby is pushing on everything, including your brain!  I didn't realize that it would last so long beyond pregnancy.  Like four years!

This week has been especially "foggy" for me.  The kids think it is hilarious! Mommy is so silly, let's just watch and not say anything and see what she does next!  Here is just a sampling of what I have done (or I guess haven't done!):  squirt ranch dressing instead of chocolate syrup in a cup of milk, put eggs in the pantry, put milk in the cupboard, put the cereal box in the fridge, took off my makeup with Bactine (I'm very, very lucky here.  Someone who shall not be named left this in the spot where my eye makeup remover is typically kept), almost squirted Bactine into my contact lens case, (I think the dangerous substances need to be stored out of my reach and not my kids!). 

Luckily (knock on wood, jump up and down and spin around), I have never ever forgotten any of the children or left them anywhere.  I have left stores without my purchases or purse.  Have gone to the store and gas station without my wallet (this was awhile ago!), but always keep the kids with me!

I have no idea how to combat this.  Of course more sleep, but who has time for that!  More coffee, but I'm on decaf. these days. Too much caffeine and I'm even more of a mess, and a shaky one too!

Have you been struck with this malady?  What are your tips?

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

End of Year Ideas

It is that time of year.  Depending on whom you are speaking with, they will tell you it is the most wonderful time of year, or they may tell you  they want to change the calendars back to March!  End of School.  Summer of vacation.  Yeah summer, boo school is out.  My twins finish up their year next week.  Yes, next week.  Thursday, May 23rd.  One week from today.  Now, they are only in preschool for two days a week.  But I really like those mornings.  It is just enough for me to get some errands or work in and it is great for them!  I have seen enormous changes this year.  In their confidence and their abilities, both socially and academically.  But, I digress!

Summer vacation is just around the  corner. I know a few moms who have every single minute of their kids summer planned: camps, vacation, tutoring sessions, etc.  Me, not so much.  My older two are signed up for swim team and all four are signed up for two weeks of VBS.   We will be at the pool pretty much everyday and are looking forward to planning a few visits to the beach to visit Grandma. I am on the lookout for some camps.  I love using to find our camps!  I used that site last summer for two different camps and it was great!  We will definitely take advantage of living so close to Washington and visit the zoo and museums.  I like to get their early and avoid the tourists and other one million people from the area who had the same idea!  Now that the twins are four, outings and day trips are so much easier!

I need to start to get my stockpile together.  I have a few things from their birthdays and Christmas in my prize closet that I am looking forward to pulling out to keep them occupied during a summer storm!   I was at the local dollar store this morning, looking for ideas on craft projects, workbooks and activities to keep the kids entertained.  They might  be out of school, but I still need to work and I definitely want to avoid the summer slide! 

What are your plans for the summer?  What do you do to make sure the summer slide doesn't happen in your house?

Thanks for stopping by & have a great day!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Line Cutting, Seriously!

I don't know why, but for whatever reasons, line cutting really pushes my buttons.  Gets my goat and all that jazz!

In my opinion, line cutting is a rampant problem in the area where I live.  I'm wondering if maybe it is just me.  Maybe I am just too sensitive.  Maybe I am too rigid.  Maybe I am just plain out wrong for teaching my kids to wait their turn.  In our house, lines are important.  With four kids, to eliminate pushing, shoving and the me first dance, there are times when we have our kids line up.  In a good way, like "who wants a popsicle, line up by the freezer". Or,  to control chaos when we are going outside: "get your shoes on and line up by the door".

Most of the time I do speak up.  But, it depends on the situation.  During spring break the kids and I went to Chuck E Cheese.  I did nicely ask the 12 year old who was pushing my four year old to get to the soda fountain first, if he would mind waiting his turn in line.  I also did also point out to a fourteen year old who cut in front of my six year old at the prize counter that my daughter had been waiting.  Actually, got support from the Chuck E Cheese worker on this one too! Who did indeed say,  this little girl (my daughter) is next. 

Sometimes I am just too dumb founded to say anything.  Like at Target the other day.  A new cash register opened up and next in line was called.  That was us.  By the time I got the twins and all of our stuff together a line three-deep had formed at the newly opened register.  Other times, I think it is best to let the kids work it out themselves.  Like at the school bus line.  (I really don't care as long as my kid gets on the bus!)  When I first witnessed this I was amazed.  The kids line up, by order of arrival time.  Whomever arrives first at the bus stop, is first in line and for the most part the kids stay in that line.  Except for a few.  There are one or two late comers everyday who instead of going to the back of line and waiting their turn,  go right to the front of the line.  Everyday.   Line cutting at its very finest.  I'm still trying to figure out if there is some sort of bus stop hierarchy?!  I just figure that the kids learn it somewhere...maybe from their mom cutting in line at Target!

Is this a problem for you?  What do you to avoid? How do we stop the cycle!

Thanks for stopping by & have a great day!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mother's Day Blessings

Yesterday at my twins' preschool it was the Mother's Day Tea.  The kids (with the help of their wonderful teachers!) go all out to make us moms feel special!  The teachers work hard to set the room and make the food.  Great little sandwiches, muffins, brownies, cookies, fruit, lemonade and of course iced tea!  I think my twins ate an entire plate of brownies. The kids work very hard on making the decorations for the table and little gifts for us moms to take home.

Surprisingly at our table yesterday, I was the only mom.  One little boy was with his dad and another one was there without a parent.  I don't know what their situations are at home.  We all smiled at the table and my twins and I talked with both boys and helped the one who was there alone fix his plate.  This really got me thinking.  One, of how fortunate I am to have my four children who are all my blessings, and two to have my mom.  I lost my father at a young age, my mom has always been there for us.  As our rock and I know we take her for granted! 

I know quite a few people who have lost their moms this past year.  I know that this Sunday will be bittersweet.  I also know too many people who have lost their children.  I hope that your Sunday is extra special.  Whether your child walks with you here on this earth, or if they are watching you from above, you are still and will always be their mom.

  Happy Mother's Day.  Wishing you and your loved ones many Blessings.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I see London, I see France

In most homes, the next line would be I see your underpants.  In our house it is the opposite!  My Baby A (now big kid four year old twin boy) does not like to wear underpants.  We have tried boxers, we have tried briefs, we have tried boxer briefs! He does not like them.  We have tried Scooby Doo, Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, Bat Man, Spider Man,  plain ones, ones with pictures.  You name them, we tried them!  He does not want them.   He will not wear them.  We do make sure they are not too tight, and have gone up a size. He will still not wear them.

On Sunday, we had a family birthday party to go to.  Our conversation with my son went something like this:

Parent: It's time to get dressed for the party
Child: Okay
Parent: You need to wear underwear
Child: No
Parent: You really should wear them
Child: No I don't, a birthday party is not a school day or a holiday

We have him convinced that it is a school rule to wear underpants, so on most school days he will wear them.  However, there have been quite a few days when he has gotten himself dressed and gone in commando.  The teacher's know, on those days his pants are on backwards, too.  They are cool with it and very supportive (thanks KUC!)!  Days he does wear them, as soon as he comes home he changes.  Usually he will put on his pajamas.  This kid likes to be comfy!

We have also told him that he needs to wear underpants under his uniform to Tae Kwon Do, because that is like school.  Last week he refused, and just wore his pajamas underneath.  It worked.  Master Chao didn't notice, or if he did, didn't comment.

The Holiday rule we must have told him along the way, and it stuck.  We have tried the underwear on vacation rule, the underwear in restaurants rule and the underwear when you go to the store rule.  Those, not so much and are hit and miss.  I was able to convince him to put some on for his four year check up a few months back. I really wish I took a picture of his thoroughly disgusted face when the doctor asked him if he liked Scooby Doo.  He responded with a very firm, no I do not like him.  Then the doctor asked, why Scooby's face was on his butt!  Needless to say, my son was not impressed.

Thanks for stopping by.  Enjoy your day!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Break the Silence

Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.

If you, or someone you know is being abused.  Please get help.  It is not your fault. You and your children do not "deserve" this.  Break the silence, before it is too late.

To find help in your area, please visit:
or call 1.800.799.SAFE

In memory of Traci Raymond

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ode to a Crockpot

I love my crock pot!  A crock pot is a busy mom's best friend!  The crock pot forces me to plan out dinner.  I can think about it and start chopping my vegetables the night before, or early in the morning after my son gets on the bus.  I love the simplicity of it - throw everything in one pot and your done.  This has give me so much more free time in the afternoon to help with homework, play with the kids and I actually manged to have a phone conversation yesterday! 

This week is Crock pot Week in our house!  I am on day three of using it for dinner, making a different recipe each day:

Monday was Vegetable Soup, I served this with biscuits
Tuesday was Sausage and Peppers, I served this with a side dishes of pasta and broccoli
Wednesday is Turkey Meatloaf

This is my first time making a meatloaf in the crock pot.  I will be sure to let you know how it comes out!  I reviewed several recipes on the Internet and modified it with my own famous meatloaf recipe!

First I sprayed the crock pot with non stick cooking spray.  At the bottom I layered my vegetables: baby carrots, sliced onions and sliced potatoes.  I formed my meatloaf, put it on top of the veggies and I was done.  One hour on high, 5 hours on low.  By the time 6 o'clock rolls around I will have a complete meal.  I will chop up some fruit for the kids, maybe make a small salad and dinner is served!

Please share your favorite crock pot recipes!  I am always on the look out for new ones to try.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

My AHA Moment

I had one of those "Aha moments" today.  You know, the ones that Oprah is always talking about.  The ones when a light goes on in your head and things seem to click and fall into place.

I was sitting in the waiting room at the Ballet Studio.  My oldest daughter (6 yrs) was happily tap dancing away in one room, and my youngest daughter (4 yrs my baby b) was happy in her ballet class.  I was sitting there, just me.  The boys were home with their dad.  Just me, my new iPhone, my kindle and a cup of coffee.  But, I was not alone in the room - I was sitting in the middle of utter chaos.  Saturday morning is not our "normal" time, so these were not "my people" in the waiting room, we were there for some make-up classes.  The studio had three classes going on at the same time.  Three classes full of little girls - girls that couldn't find their ballet slippers, girls that needed to go potty, girls that wanted to wear a tutu.  Once the girls went in, that left a waiting room full of parents and the girls' younger brothers and sisters.  A waiting room of toddlers, crying toddlers, toddlers that attempted more than once to take my iPhone with their sticky hands.  It brought back memories of when I was at the ballet studio and my oldest was three and I had my twins in the double stroller.  Trying to keep the twins entertained with bottles and cheerios. Trying to keep my five year old entertained with promises of stopping by the pizza place after his sister was finished.   This was back "in the day" before my iPhone and tablet!  Memories of watching the clock and 45 minutes felt like two hours and could not go by fast enough. Then I realized, I am done with that.  No more bottles, no more running up and down the hallways chasing babies.  No more crying "I want to leave, NOW!" (me and the kids would say that!).  I can now go and sit and drink my coffee and watch my girls.

I made it.  My twins turned four last month and I did it.  Now, I know that I did not do it alone.  I am very Blessed to have a hands on husband (most days - smile!) and a very wonderful support system of family members, friends and neighbors.  But we did it.  Our babies are four, our oldest is eight and our middle daughter is six.  They are wonderful, healthy, happy, curious kids. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Winter 2013 Issue of Multiplicity Magazine is Here!

The Winter Issue of Multiplicity Magazine came out today.  This issue marks the one year anniversary of the magazine!  I am so proud to say that I have been apart of this magazine since the beginning.  Please be sure to check out my most recent article on page 24 Kitchen Comforts.  Please make and enjoy the receipes I share with your family.  As always, please leave some feedback to let me know what you think!

View the Issue Here!