Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Simplicity speaks volumes....

Have you ever met one of those people that feels the need to explain things in extreme detail?  Or someone who has a story for everything?
If you haven' have now.  Hi, nice to meet you.
When having a conversation with someone I sometimes tend to try to explain everything I am saying....or explain away everything I said.  I blame it on the explosive word volcano that finds it's way back to me no matter how many times I try to put it out.  I tell myself what a horrible listener I am....try not to interrupt, just simply listen.  The feeling still comes, I just have to interject, I have to relate to people.  Why the heck do I feel this utter need to relate to people?!  I am sure I could find some reasons why, some psychological need to be heard or acknowledged. 
Right here I was about to explain about how that has no grounds...I'm the baby of my family...and was constantly the "entertainer".  Yes,  I explained!!  Shoot me! 
As a writer, there ever a time where you explain too much?  Hmmm.  I don't think so.  Conversational....yes.  Written work....needed.
I do wonder....if the times I should have just listened  were moments that I really needed to hear.

On the topic of simple listening and learning to shut are some Project 365 pictures.  They display the simplicity in a child's mind.  Not simple minded....but just the plain simplicity in the way they see things.  And the things they do. 

Day 30: The Hubs picked G up at pre school the other day and they walked in the door with a bouquet of pretty little flowers.  G looked up at me with those sweet, gray eyes and said "These are for you AND Dad, Mom!"  Love that he thought of us.  And how pretty are these in a mason jar.  Itty bitty flowers and mason jars were made for each other.
Day 31:  I saw this when I got home from taking the kids to school the other morning.  It was written on our driveway, right by my car.  So, I analyzed it of course!  Over analyzed, is more like it.  Our 10 year old daughter wrote it, note Believe is misspelled, and I was thinking...does she think I don't believe in her? Do I need to start reminding her how amazing I think she is?  Don't I already do that?  Who does she want to believe in her?  Is this a cry for help?  Simma' down, Mama...
Day 32:  Then I saw this on the driveway this morning when we were walking out to the car....ah! makes sense now.  She was writing it as if God were talking to all of us. 

Simplicity.  Those moments when kids don't have the need to think deep like we do, they don't feel the need to make things about themselves, or make small issues into huge debates.  They honestly don't care about the Jones's who we all so desperately find ourselves keeping up with.  They care about who can keep them safe, who is stable, who they can go to when they need advice.  And of course, every kid wants the next iFabulous...but they ultimately keep things pretty......simple.

Try simplifying something in your life for the rest of the week.  I promise I will work on shutting my mouth and listening.

K5 Learning Program

Good morning everyone!!

Just a quick announcement about K5 Learning.
K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program. If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.

I am really excited about this trial because I am actually homeschooling G next year for Kindergarten and think this could make a wonderful addition.

Be sure to check it out while you can!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Project 365...Valentine Par-tay!

I realized that I posted about one million and one pictures yesterday but did not number them for Project 365.  I also realized that I don't really seem to be posting just one picture for each day, it seems to be a succession of photos from one day.  Well, nanny-nanny-boo-boo....I am working Project 365 the Staying Home and Staying Sane way. 
How great are Valentine's parties at the kids' schools?  Yes, you have to bring something to contribute after you have helped the kiddo make an outstanding (if I do say so myself) Valentine box...and then you can only hope that you have someone to talk to while your kid shoves 10 mini cupcakes in their mouth and you get to witness the horseplay of little boys on a sugar high.  But I really do love it. 
Reason #1: I may not be crafty but I can sure as heck pull off a Valentine box.
Reason #2: There are only so many class parties you will be able to go to...until your kid doesn't want you there anymore or they just stop altogether.  I think that class parties are pretty much frowned upon in junior high.....

R is a girl.  So, of course, this Valentine box was a huge priority.  She made me proud and stuck to the classics.  We found a cute photo storage box and the Hobby to the Lobby and we wrapped in red tissue paper (yes, old school!) and then in clear wrapping paper with polka dots.  The she smothered it in super cute Valentine stickers.  Those Valentine stickers have since evolved from sweet little My Little Pony or Polly Pockets to owls and other woodland creatures and plenty of X's and O's.  She had about 3 different kinds of Valentine's to pass out and reveled in the party.  Slowly making her way around and distributing pencils, mini notebooks and the chosen Valentine card. 
G's parties are always fun.  I've mentioned his super amazing pre school teacher before, Mrs. Holly, and I don't know what she does to the kids to make them behaves themselves but whatever she does works.  Fairy dust?  Magic spells?  Sugar bribes?  No clue.  The parties are always an organized type of chaos.  The moms mingle and try to talk their kids into trying tasty treats other parents brought and then we admire all of the Valentine boxes....that really none of the kids made.  So, we pat each other on the back on a job well done for another year.  It's all in good fun. 
Day 25
G's Valentine box
Day 26
Ready to hand out his mountain of treats....
Day 27
A boy and his box...
Day 28
Very focused Valentine passer- outter
Day 29
I figured that she would want this picture one day...her 4th grade desk with all of her Valentine goodies

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

If I could live off of coffee and chocolate.....

....I would be a very happy woman. 

Valentine's Day has come and gone.  All of my little Valentine door decorations are put away and St. Patty's Day stuff is up.  The Hubby is still on nights so last night was no different from any other.  I made a fabulous brisket type of BBQ in the crockpot.  I was inspired by an easy peasy recipe I saw on Pinterest, of course.  It called for pork butt and Pepsi.  Sine the thought of Pepsi makes me cringe I used Coke.  Coke Classic....I'm not playing around here.  There was not a good butt of piggie to be found at my local HEB (surprise! surprise!) but I did find a pretty roast.  I cut slits all over the roast so it could soak in all the BBQ goodness, covered it in season salt, poured well over the 1/2 of a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce that it called for and then a 20 oz Coke.  Cooked it on low for around 9 hours then I sliced it....until I got bored of that and pretty much hacked into little chunks.  Served on warmed Hawaiian rolls....well, I would like to say it was amazing.  Sadly, I didn't get to try it.  The Hubs, T, R and a friend of T's sopped every bit of it up.  Yep.  They each had about 3 or 4 of the little sliders of BBQ awesomeness and told me how good it was.  Success! You can find the pin that I used for inspiration right hereRemember I tweaked it and did NOT use Pepsi, or pork.  Of course, if you are one of those people who actually digs Pepsi, more power to ya'.

I made my handy dandy roasted Brussels sprouts with our meal too.  I know that in most families the words Brussels sprouts elicits moans and groans (and not in the good way) but my kiddos (minus G who eats basically peanut butter and honey sandwiches 24/7) love my roasted Brussels sprouts.  Once they come out of the oven they are devoured and picked at like a pan full of french fries.  They are amazingly addicting and have the super power ability to transform any Brussels sprout hater into a Brussels sprout lova'.  Here's the easiest recipe you will ever have.....
Brussles Sprouts your kids will eat!
  • You will need at least 2 (but probably 3 if you have a large family like I do) bushels of Brussels sprouts, if they are sold loosely than grab a good 5 handfuls.  You will thank me later. 
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt (preferably coarse salt)
  • Pepper
Told you it was simple....
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
  • Wash your sprouts well, cut the ends off, you will not be using them.  Now cut the Brussels sprouts in half, if they are huge monster sprouts, feel free to cut them in thirds.  Dispose of any stray leaves you lost.
  • line a rimmed baking pan with foil
  • drizzle the pan with EVOO
  • lay the Brussels sprouts any way you like, just spread them out all over the pan, cut side up, cut side down, whatev.
  • drizzle the Brussels sprouts with EVOO (lightly)
  • sprinkle the Brussels sprouts with salt and pepper
  • pop in the oven for 15 minutes
  • after 15 minutes, shake them around and turn which ones you can
  • cook another 15 minutes
  • Voila! You are done.  Try to let them cool at least 15 seconds before popping these delish bites into your mouth. Ask T, he saw them on the stove and popped one in before realizing they had JUST come out of the oven. 
You will now have this easy masterpiece to feed the minions....they are caramelized and so yummy.  There will be a few charred leaves, which oddly is one of my fave parts, but feel free to just eat the pretty ones.

While the big kids were outside playing, G and I decided that we would make this divine cake by The Pioneer Woman.  This chocolate sheet cake has changed my life.  No, I am not being dramatic.  Okay, maybe a little. But, you have to try this cake!  Not mine, because I am totally not sharing but make your own and you will not regret it.  The icing that I poured over this cake tastes almost exactly like the one my grandmother made and poured over yellow cake.  I am pumped that I now hold this secret because I have to admit, I really just thought she created it with magic.  I will share the pin where you can find the recipe and then my pictures from our chocolate escape. 

G knows that if you help bake, you help taste!

Seriously? How can people exist that don't like chocolate?

It is not really talked about but I have a secret....if you use organic powdered sugar it will not stick to your hips, even if you use a hair less than 1 lb. Promise.

Your cute bow will not save you from stealing my cake batter bowl...

That, my friends, is pure heaven in the making.  Cocoa powder, butter, chopped pecans (that I shelled with my own 2 now-blistered hands), powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Now, wipe your chin, you're drooling.


sweet mother of all things holy and chocolaty
There you have the most spectacular and easy to make Chocolate Sheet Cake in the world!   I will post all of our Valentine pictures later because you are now only picturing that cake in your mind. 
Everyone have a wonderful rest of the week!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Adios!....Week of Sickness!

R finally had enough of being sick and dragged herself to school yesterday.  She finally had that realization that we all kind of hope to be sick some days so you can stay inside, watch movies and eat Goldfish.  Then, you really get sick.  You feel yucky.  You are so sick of the Goldfish you could smash their happy little faces against the wall and you are starting to feel awfully bored watching TV.  So, by day 3 at home, she had cabin fever.....and was happy to pop some meds before school and head out the door.  Thank goodness her fever had peaked earlier on that day and Thursday she was free and clear.  Luckily, we have a neighbor that brought home her make up work everyday so we don't have to be punished for being sick with stacks and stacks of worksheets.  With the new curriculum our district has, it is pretty impossible to miss a day of school without missing a new concept or an important test.  {I hate CScope}  I really wanted her to stay home one more day to recuperate but she wouldn't have it.  Poor thing, still looked a little weary on the way out the door yesterday.
My voice is starting to come's at that husky, scratchy point where you don't really mind losing your voice but really wish you could sing a great bluesy song.  So, this is syonora!
to the Yucks.  Because of my house full of kiddos, I did not have time to get Valentine's gifts for The Hubs or the kiddos yet.  Luckily, we don't do anything too big so a quick trip to Target or even.......Wal Mart {save me now} should take care of it.  I will also be picking up the new Twilight DVD.  Talk crap all you want....but I love it.  I totally read the books and have watched every movie.  Swooning in all of my 31 year old glory over Edward.  I always find the Twilight bashers funny.  They talk about the lack of literature and how it's cheapened the world of readers all over.  Well.....the same people that bash Twilight are the same ones....I know not all of them but some.....that watch Jersey Shore.  So, different strokes for different folks. 
Speaking of books, I started reading The Descendants this morning and I love it already.  Wonderfully written.  I am completely one of those weirdos that has to read the book before watching the movie.  
Have a fabulous, germ-free weekend, everyone!

Day 22:

When a girl has had enough TV sick's time to get crafty!
 Day 23:

 Day 24:

Ready for her first day back after 3 sick days away from school!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Little things....

The past few days have been filled with the sounds of coughing, sniffing, and a hoarse voice.  R and I are both sick...she more than I.  Poor kid, she's been laying on the couch for the past 2 days with a low grade to moderate fever, sore throat and the worst cough I've heard in a while.  Nothing is working on the cough, not even Delsym.  As I write this now, she's coughing in her sleep.  She had a good 30 minutes after her ibuprofen kicked in and we were all able to enjoy some laughs.  I am just stuck with this man-voice and a biggie. 
Tonight, T and I were sitting on the couch studying his vocabulary words, History and Drama homework....and B called to tell the kids goodnight and he loved them....that one kink in the schedule causes craziness.  All moms know this feeling.  Everything is going smoothly...everyone was occupied, the TV was off, there was some progress happening.  Then the phone rings...and the kids' radars go off.  The radar that every, single kid has.  It's called the CPR...crazy phone radar.  Needless to say, our quiet little study time turned into crazy time. 
While I was on the phone with B, our youngest busted out in a rap about toenails.  Yep.  Toenails.  So, of course.....T ran and got his Flip and had G do his rap again....along with anything else he could record him doing.  The more blackmail-worthy the better.  He even gave G the Flip to record himself waling around the house.  Super cute stuff.   I was laughing so hard and I love knowing that those videos will always be around for us to look back on.  Sometimes....maybe even all the time....we get so caught up in the everyday schedules that we forget to just involve ourselves in the moments that we will forget. 
Yes, grades are important.  Yes, bedtimes are so important for the kids (and me).  But laughing and enjoying my kids is amazing. 
As I tucked them all in, I reflect on our day just in bits and pieces.  The thing that sticks out to me tonight...are all the times T told me he loved me this evening.  I pick him up from basketball practice at 4:30 in the afternoon and we have the 10 minute drive home that we usually chit chat and sometimes these chats can get a little deep, sometimes a little silly.  I know I ride him pretty hard, I expect a lot out of him.  But just tonight, my silly, pre teen who has major mood swings sometimes....told me that he loved me probably 10 times from the time we got home to the time he finally closed his mouth (and eyes).  One of the reasons he felt like busting out with an "I love you, Mom!"....I bought high pulp Simply Orange orange juice. 
The little things......they make me happy.  Especially when I'm not feeling so great and I have had a pretty stressed out weekend.   Remembering that it doesn't take much to make your kids smile or even to make yourself smile....can make a huge difference to your mood.  While G was in charge of the Flip tonight, he was in full on newscaster mode and was introducing all of us.  When it came to me, he said....And, now I will let you meet my Mom.  You might not recognize her voice but she's still our mom and she's the best ever. 
Are you kidding me?! These kids are pretty amazing.  Even my poor sickly little girl, she got up before I took T to school and of course little man had been up for a while.  I told her to go on to back to bed, we knew that school was out of the question with a fever and a cough as bad as she has but she said no...she wanted to stay up and let G stay with her while I drove T to the junior high.  How thoughtful was this?  B was already asleep for the day but here in case she needed him and it is only 10 minutes down the road.  But, it just made me so happy to know that even though she was sick and felt yucky she was putting someone else first. 
Everynight when we say our prayers, we mention that we really need God to help us put others in front of ourselves and for Him to help us become the people He created us to be.  I thank God that we are on the path...that He put us on.
Bumps, forks in the road and sometimes even major potholes.....we keep on going and I really want to appreciate the little things.

yes, that kid..right there....loves me. :)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday....can we have a do-over on that whole weekend?!

Monday after the Superbowl, so I guess I should have something to say about the was on and I was in the room but really I just listened to T tell me every single play he thought was awesome while playing Pictureka! with the other kiddos while simultaneously playing Words with Friends on my Nook.  Multi tasking extraordinaire? Nah, just a mom.
I did catch some commercials and the halftime show.  I enjoyed Madonna's oldies-but-goodies songs and I loved seeing CeeLo and LMFAO but I could have done with out Madonna gyrating all over the stage.  I'm pretty sure she's old enough to be my mom.  She does look great though...minus the man arms.  I am not in love with the new all.  To each his own. 
I loved the mischievous dog in the Doritos commercial and as always, Volkswagen didn't disappoint.  But my fave part of last night was The Voice finally coming back on!  It's one of those shows we can all watch together as a family and really enjoy.  I could do without Christina Aguilara....she's more annoying than funny when she's trying to be witty and her voice, although amazing, is mostly used to wail parts of songs rather than just sing them.  Think Mariah Carey vs. Kelly Clarkson.....both have some powerful lungs but one uses them to see how high or long she can take her notes and the other uses them to belt out amazing songs that you can listen to without holding your ears on the high parts.  Do I care if you can crack a wineglass with that voice? Nope. 
I already have favorites even though the blind auditions aren't over.  How great was Tony Lucca?!  Haven't even thought about him since Mickey Mouse Club....which yes, I totally watched when I got home from school.  Loved the single dad, too.  And the raspy, rock chick that CeeLo snagged was awesome.  Can't wait for tonight and the rest of the season for all of us to root on our faves. 
Yesterday, it was just the boys and I here in the morning so I finally decided to try out the homemade donuts I've been dying to try.  I call them homemade, even though they come from canned biscuits only because I did not drive to the donut shop and get these precious commodities.   I found the recipe on Pinterest (but of course)....

They were super easy and turned out amazingly good!  I had everything ready to go, until I realized I didn't have a thing to cut the hole in the middle.  My handy dandy measuring tablespoon came in to play and made the perfect hole.  I used Grand's biscuits only because I had just 1 can of my favorite canned biscuit, Immaculate Baking Co.  I ended up using 2 cans of Grand's, even frying up the holes! 
My cinnamon mixture looked much darker than the one in the recipe but I used Sugar in the Raw for my sugar and I did use a tad more cinnamon.  She was right on with the measurements for butter and heat, and I have a gas stove so I never know if I will need to cook on a lower heat or not.  I'm telling you, these things are dangerous and scrumptious, that's the worst kind of danger.

I'm giving a few views.....just because they're worth it.  PS: this is Day 20 for Project 365

Oh, yeah....that's what I'm talking about. 

Day 21:
This was G's fortune the other day....pretty fitting, I think for a 5 year old to get this fortune. 

I truly hope everyone has an amazing week!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Catch up...

It's Friday.  It's February.  It's muggy and hot in Texas. 
Why every winter do I expect to all of a sudden live in a winter wonderland?  I am totally setting myself up for failure.  For the past week it has been rainy and warm, which equals humid.  While some of you lucky people up north are enjoying snow, maybe a little skiing....some hot chocolate...we are wiping the sweat off of our foreheads and wearing t shirts and shorts.  Cute.
I did get my hair cut and colored this week.  No one noticed.  It wasn't a HUGE change.  I did trim off a few inches and got the color a little richer brown than the ash brown it was before.  I can only guess that this shows just how often I wear my hair up.  Way too much.  According to my stylist, who just happens to be one of my oldest childhood friends....I need to stop pulling into a ponytail now.  I had this crazy halo of frizzy hair but the ends looked great....that would be because I do nothing to my hair to damage it....other than the Killer Ponytail.  Now, it looks like my hair only shorter, healthier, and a little bit more chestnut brown. 
I'll cut to the chase and post my 365 pictures so that I can go and bathe the over tired 5 year old that woke up at 6am...and is now the equivalent of a cat that found the stash of catnip and is about to crash.
Day 16

He was serenading me....with a rock song
Day 17

When G plays cars...they are organized in his own way....and I am only allowed to play with certain ones that are "girls"
Day 18
Okay, focus on the hair and nothing else.  I deleted every other one so this will have to do.
Day 19

While R was at school today....I left her this little note on her whiteboard :)

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