Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ever wonder what to make for lunch?


Sometimes it is not what you serve but what you call it that counts. Here are my top 25 lunches. Hope you like ‘em.

1. Pouch Salad: Slice pita pockets open with a pizza cutter (older kid job). Stuff with what is on hand: lettuce, bacon bits, shredded cheese, sprouts, celery curls, carrot shreds, halved cherry tomatoes, etc. Put ranch dressing in a small container to dip pocket into or drizzle ranch over the top.

2. Hot Turkey!: Turkey and Pepper Jack sandwich grilled until golden brown.

3. Silly Pizzas: Slice open a English muffin or a pita into a circle shape. Add pizza sauce and grated cheese over all and then mushrooms, broccoli, pepperoni, and other pizza toppings to make faces. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 for 7 minutes or until cheese is golden. Listen to “Silly Pizza” song from Signing Time. (from SigningTime.com)

4. I See Stars: This is a peanut butter and whatever (banana, jam, honey, strawberry sandwich) but here is the kick… make it out of one slice wheat and one slice white. Cut out a shape with a star cookie cutter from the middle of the sandwich and flip it around so you have white stars on a wheat background. (from Family Fun)

5. Breakfast burritos: Tortilla with scrambled eggs, salsa, cheese and pinto beans. (idea from McD’s)

6. Curly noodle Soup: Chicken Noodle Soup made with Ramen Noodles.

7. Octopus and Seaweed: Hot dog with the lower half of the hot dog shaped like eight legs over spinach fettuccini. (I think this idea is from www.FamilyFun.com See them as I am not able to explain it that well.)

8. Little Dippers: Just put out a bunch of veggies, fruits, and cubed leftover meat with a few kinds of dip. Guacamole. Salsa. Cinnamon Dip: a cup of plain yogurt, a dash of cinnamon, and a half teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix and serve. PB Dip: ½ cup peanut butter, 1 tsp. honey, a smidge of cayenne pepper. Mix and serve. Great for using up your odds and ends in the fridge.

9. Quicky Chicky: Boneless skinless chicken cut into cubes, 2 tsp. paprika, ½ tsp. salt, ½ cup flour, ¼ cup sesame seeds, black pepper, garlic salt, 1 cup oil. Shake chicken cubes in a sealed bag with the seasonings. Then fry in a hot skillet with a smidge of olive oil until golden. Drain well on paper towels. These can be stored in fridge for four days or freezer for three months. We eat them hot or cold.

10. Stabbed Lunch: Just whatever you have on hand on a skewer. Lots of times we have this the day after we have garlic shrimp and steamed broccoli for dinner.

11. Cut It Out: This is for the day after we have pasta for dinner and most kiddos are able to do this themselves. Use small cookie cutters to cut shapes out of sliced cucumbers, sliced mozzarella cheese and a plastic knife to cut cherry tomatoes into two. Add the shapes to cooked and chilled leftover pasta noodles. Add Italian dressing to the top or leftover marina sauce.

12. Mystery Meat and Potatoes (Go And Burn Everything): Basically hash or fried potatoes and leftover ground beef. The name comes from Gabe liking his very well done.

13. Covered Moss Sandwiches: An open faced grilled cheese with broccoli stashed under the cheese.

14. Let’s Wrap: Tortilla or flat bread spread with sour cream. Sprinkle ranch dressing mix over the sour cream. Then add a layer of deli roast beef or very thinly cut leftovers. Add lettuce, carrot shreds, and sprouts. Wrap it up!

15. Sailboat Sandwiches: In a roll cut with a large ‘V’ shaped wedge at the top – like Subway used to do – stuff with “salad” mix. We use shrimp salad but tuna, egg or chicken salad works too. Then slice a piece of cheese diagonally. Put the cheese sticking straight up on top of the roll so that the cheese looks like sails. (from Family Fun)

16. Inside Outs: Take a piece of bread and flatten it (kid job). Place flattened cheese on top of a slice of cheese, then lettuce and then add a piece of meat on top. Messy but the kiddos think it is funny to eat the bread on the inside of a sandwich.

17. Quesadillas: Two tortillas with cheese and leftover Chicken Enchilada inside grilled until crispy and cheese melted.

18. Chinese Fried Rice: Heat a smidge of oil on med. in a skillet, slowly add three beaten eggs, cook until set moving as needed. Then remove them from the pan. Add two cups of chicken broth or water with bouillon cubes, and 16 oz of the diced frozen veggies stir fry type or any that your kids like, season to taste with soy sauce (I use about 2 Tablespoons). Heat that until boiling. When veggies are half done add 2 cups of leftover brown rice. Heat until rice is warm and veggies are done. Add in eggs until warm and serve.

19. PB and J Pizza: Whole wheat pita with jelly as the pizza sauce and small dollops of peanut butter placed around as if it were a topping. Also add sliced bananas and strawberries.

20. Macaroni and Cheese with Peas: Cooked noodles with cheddar cheese mixed in and peas sprinkled on the top.

21. UFOs: from Family Fun. Spread cream cheese or peanut butter around the bagel and add a half bagel with a hard boiled egg in the hole. You can add raisins, carrot curls, bananas, or whatever on top of the cream cheese or peanut butter.

22. “You’ll Never Get This Again” Soup: Keep a tub in the freezer for the extra bits of leftover veggies and things that freeze well. Mid morning put the frozen tub in a Dutch oven in the oven. Add a can of tomato sauce, some cooked ground beef or cooked beef cubes. Turn on at 325 until warm. Never have the same leftover bits so it never turns out the same twice.

23. Omelets

24. Homemade Lunchables: Ritz crackers with lunch meat and cheese in the shape of a circle the same size as the cracker.

25. Baked Potatoes with toppings

Sunday, June 28, 2009

One of the weirdest dreams ever

OK - I don't normally tell people about my dreams - they are usually quite odd - like most people's dreams - but.....

I've been very very tired lately and also suffering from Insomnia (WHY CAN'T I BE TIRED AT NIGHT!). Anyway, I fell asleep on the basement couch today amidst all the noise of people playing.

I dreamt that we were all in the basement, and my husband was at work. Everyone went upstairs and I was downstairs with Logan and Elizabeth. We started to head up the stairs and I saw 2 giant spiders. I mean really giant! Their bodies were between a golf ball and tennis ball size. They were black, white, and brown and furry. Their legs were about 10 inches long. They were disgusting and freaking me out! I started screaming hysterically for Anna to come (and interestingly enough only she came).

Now, my Anna loves all things animals and bugs. She is 14 and yearns to be a vet, has praying mantids, a gecko, etc. She isn't too easily grossed out and likes to identify roadkill. Ewwww - but ya gotta love her!

Anyway, for some strange reason my motherly instinct did not kick in! I was terrified of these beastly things - I mean - wouldn't they be dangerous? So, why on earth would I want my wonderful Anna to go after them? It was weird. I was afraid, but somehow knew that she would know what to do and know if they were poisonous (which she assured me in my dream that they were not because they didn't have/did have the correct type of skull cap marking - ok probably doesn't make sense but remember - it was a dream).

Anna told me it was OK she would take them upstairs and let them loose on that level of the house! What! No WAY! What are you thinking child! So, she says she will let them loose outside. I tell her no - she must destroy the little beasts! Then I woke up.

Good thing I woke up. Anna is a wonderful child and NOT disobedient, (I don't know who made up the term terrible teen but my teen is anything but terrible) but I can only imagine she would have a very hard time with my desire for her to kill those little creatures....and I am guessing she would probably have put them in some sort of container and brought them somewhere else.

We have lots of strange pets in this house - and I am fine with it. But, we will have NO spiders, snakes, or rats! (Well, we did rat sit for my dear nephews but only because we like the nephews - not the rats - and we would do it again for them. But, if they get a snake or spider they are going to have to find other accommodations. sorry)


Esme (2 and a half) just tried to eat a dog treat.  Yicky! Thankfully, she decided that she did not like it and gave it to Chewbacca, the dog, instead.  Guess she figured he eats my food and likes it, maybe the I can eat his and like it.  But still ewwww! 

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass it's learning to dance in the rain

This little saying has calmed me through many difficulties (and last fall was the most difficult time of my life). Thanks Crunchy Mamma and little Esme for sending the "wall words" to us for Christmas. I wanted to show you a picture of it on our bedroom wall. (and thanks to my mom for putting it up for me in just the right spot.)

This is the only childhood your children will ever have

Just a nice little quote I heard on Relevant Radio. Just a little reminder to: go to the park, cuddle up for a read-a-loud, have a tea party, build a fort out of sheets, etc.

What good memories do you have from your childhood? Me?

My dad taking my sister and I to a store on the toboggan after a major snow storm shut down the city (recently I discovered that he took us to the liquor store because my mom needed a break - from us - since we were causing her to go nuts with us stuck in the house - and my dad didn't even drink, it was the only thing open).

My dad promising to catch me if I would only jump off the swing at my cousins house. I was too scared and wouldn't do it, until a few minutes later, only I hadn't told my dad. And he didn't catch me. It hurt. I got the wind knocked out of me for the first time.

Then they put me in the car to leave, closed the doors, and went inside to get my sister. Then their 2 huge huskies were jumping up at the windows barking. I was terrified.

When I was 4 or 5 I was playing in the grassy area across the parking lot from our apartment. There was a girl there flying a kite. She asked me if I would hold it for her while she went for lunch. Would I?! Yes!!!! That was so awesome......but she never came back. And my parents watched me out the window for 1 HOUR before rescuing me!

My mom and dad used to be caretakers in an apartment building. It was so cool to go with my mom while she did things like clean the windows. Once when I was with her I saw this giant Easter Bunny under the stairs (an adult man in a bunny suit). When he saw me he put his finger up to his mouth in sort of a shhhh don't tell anyone sign. I kept his secret. My mom still has no idea about this one - a little fishy don't ya think?

My dad and I made a ladybug cake for our girl scout bake auction. It was by far the coolest cake - and my dad bid so much money for it because I was a bit distraught that we would have to give it up.

My parents would give us each a quarter and let us walk to the DQ alone when we were young. It was next to the apartment complex. One day, the nice owner sent us back home with a note (actually it was a bill). We never had enough for the tax but she always gave us our ice cream and kept tabs.

And....I was swimming in the outdoor pool with my mom when I was maybe 6 or 7. I told her I needed to go back to the apartment to get something. While there the phone rang. It was someone from Disneyland. They promised me that all my family had to do was go out to CA and they would put us on the Mickey Mouse Club show. I ran back to the pool so excited. But I didn't know why my mom and the other adults just smiled. That was quite the trick!

I was about 5 years old and decided I was big enough to visit a friend in the other wing of the apartment complex all by myself. My mom walked me to the internal entrance of the other wing and let me go while she went with my sister somewhere else in the complex. My friend wasn't home! I ran all the way back to my apartment (it was common to leave it unlocked back then) and jumped in bed and hid under the covers crying (did I mention it was storming, loudly). My mom came back and cuddled me and told me it was just God and his angels bowling. And, the really loud thunder? That was God getting a strike! I still think of that when I hear a storm today.

I remember bowling in the hallway with the neighbor John John (did I mention his mom was the manager, my folks were the caretakers? Do you think other kids would have gotten away with this?)

Trick or treating in the nice warm apartment building and filling a pillow case with candy, going back to empty it, and going again. And, since my parents were caretakers - they had the keys to the other building as well!

Lastly, 'cause I'd better quit soon....I remember playing with a wagon, my sister, and my friend John John (yeah - they really called him that - to distinguish him from his dad John). Anyway, we lived in apartments on a 45 mph busy road and it had grassy hills along the busy road. We took turns driving the wagon down the hills, giving my younger sister rides. She insisted she could do it alone. Finally we let her try. She went right into the busy road and thank God the cars came to a screeching halt. John John and I grabbed her and the wagon - and never told our parents.

I could go on and on, but the point is...it isn't the major PLANNED events from my childhood that I often think back on. It's the small things that just happened, it's the relationship things. So, the next time my 4 year old wants to have a tea party (we do it for lunch 1X/wk) maybe we'll invite her dolls and dress up or something! This really is the only childhood our children will have..

Friday, June 26, 2009


Husband working from home + important business call + burning a bagel (I did it not the kiddos) + fire alarm going off = Husband not so happy 

Sorry, Hon!  Guess it will be a while before you can brag about my cooking at work again.  

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thankful Thursday ...

Thankful Thursday! (Hey, it is still Thursday for 47 minutes.)

Five things I am thankful for this week…

1.  a lovely end of the year mass

2.  a wonderful day with my family at the beach

3. the cuteness of little girls (She was calling the seagulls “beach chickens.”)

4. evaluations finished and portfoilios turned in

5. a week off to breathe before launching into next years books, schedules and the Boys’ Project. 

How about you?  What are you thankful for?

Small Successes


My small successes this week...

1. Let the kids play in the sprinkler over and over all week creating lots of laundry and dirty floors - and actually didn't get upset about the work part. I even put my suit on and joined them at one point.

2. Exercised every day

3. Scrubbed all the kitchen counters and appliances (an infestation of tiny ants precipitated this giant job).

What are your small successes? Check out more at Faith and Family by clicking on the picture (link) above.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer schedule

I often hear people say they cannot wait to get back to the routine of the school year. Well, we have a summer routine as well. People have asked me what our routine is so here you go. It looked alot prettier in my excel spreadsheet with all the boxes and colors and stuff. But, for anyone interested....here it is. Then throw in some day camps, VBS, etc. and it doesn't quite fit this model. Nonetheless, I find that when everyone has a loose routine then everyone is much happier! But, that's us.....

5:15 Mom pray, exercise, and shower

6:30 Kids Wake Up / Pray / Shower / Get Dressed
7:00 Breakfast and Clean-up
7:30 Mass Wed. only get home at 9
8:00 Math (except on Wed.)
8:30 Rosary Swimming lessons and piano Tues.

9:30 Free Time: Clean bedrooms Sat.
10:00 Backyard on nice days, basement on rainy days, maybe park, tennis, play with friends

11:30 Lunch / Cleanup / Daily Chores (including laundry)
12:30 Story Time
1:00 Rest Time / Reading Time (including spiritual reading)

2:00 Project Time Snack at 2:45
3:00 Mom work & Everyone else take turns watching Logan (Anna math)

4:00 Free Time

5:00 Prep for dinner / Fold laundry / Other misc chores assigned by Mom

6:00 Dinner / Clean up / Piano

7:00 Soccer M/W Clean house F Confession or movie Sat.

8:00 Bedtime Routine

9:00 Lights out

Internet Safety

Does anyone have any suggestions on Internet Safety software? I am mainly looking for content control. For example: when looking for an image of a famous person in history I often get all kinds of images I don't want. I would like my kids to be able to search for these people themselves but don't want to park them in front of the computer waiting for all these horrible/undesireable images to appear.

I was thinking about WebWatcher. Any ideas anyone?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Shoot me now...

... the neighbors next door just bought a karaoke machine to go with their pool, tiki bar and bikinis!  

Friday, June 19, 2009

THANKS - And I am 18 minutes early but....

Happy Birthday to Crunchy Mama!

You may be a tad bit younger than me but that doesn't mean you're not OLD. (OK - at least I used to think 30's was old. When I was maybe in high school.)

and isn't it great God sent me a BFF that has a birthday on my anniversary. That is one birthday outside my family that I WILL NOT FORGET!

I am 48 minutes early but ....

Happy Anniversary Real Mom and her Prince Charming!
17 years and counting!  
I think this year marks your turning into an official Old Married Couple.  
My small successes this week

1. Read an entire book

2. I took the kids to the County Fair for the first time ever and actually paid to let my younger kids see the "world's smallest horse" and the "world's biggest hog". When we got home they told me that was the best part! I'm glad I decided to spend the 50 cents each!

3. O.K. This is actually a big success. I spent the week purging/redoing/beautifying my school room with the help of my mom and kids. Or should I say I helped my mom.

Thankful Thurdays

1. For great parents willing to spend days at my house helping me gut out and pretty up the school room/office.

2. Giant washer and dryer (yes - still thankful)

3. Allergy medication.

4. A book called The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family which I bought at a fundraiser. I don't consider us being frantic in the sense of having lots of outside activities, but sometimes we are frantic just by the sheer number of us.

5. The County Fair. (much more doable than the frantic state fair)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Thankful Thursday ... a few days late.

1. Healthy children. 
2. Summer is here! 
3. Prince Charming is doing the weed whacking. 
4. For time to really talk to Prince Charming last night. 
5. For the electric ice cream maker.  

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Calculation and Use of Mom Years

How old are you in Mom Years?  I am 34 years old chronologically and in Mom Years and that is pretty cool.  Mom Years are a way of determining how long you have been parenting.  To determine your age in Mom Years you simply add the ages of your children.  For me that is 11+9+7+5+2= 34 Mom Years. 

So, what are Mom Years good for?  It is helpful to mention when talking to a newbie in the parenting world.  For instance Church is over and the new parents in front of you turn to gather their luggage.  (I say “luggage” because face it, that bag is not just for diapers!  It has three changes of clothes Mom, Dad and Baby, enough diaper ointments and wipes to last until the kid is three, a first aid kit to rival the ones in doctor’s offices, ten pounds of teething rings and toys, and a full pack of Pampers.  Between carrying that, the infant carrier and the baby, no wonder why new parents look so tired!  But I digress…) So you turn to great the new parents who apologize for what they call their infant “wailing” in Church.  At which point you laugh and say “Oh, no!  Baby was just softly voicing their displeasure, not wailing. You do not know true wailing until they turn two. Trust me, I am 34 Mom Years old.” 

You can also state your Mom Years to Age ratio.  Right now mine is 1:1 since I am 34 chronologically and in Mom Years.   I have found that this works well with some pediatricians. 

“Mrs. V, Esme, at one year old, should be sleeping through the night.” 

“Did you learn that in a book in medical school?”


“Ah, and you have a ten month old right?”


“Does he sleep through the night?”
“No, but he should start to soon.”
“And you are 37 years old?”


“Ok, that means that you have a 0:37 Mom Year to Age ratio.  My ratio is 1:1. Trust me, it is a lot easier if I just have her nurse at night.” 

Sometimes at the end of the appointment you can casually offer to help with other parenting dilemmas your pediatrician is facing, “ Oh and when your little one hits one and is not sleeping through the night, you will need more parenting advice.  Feel free to call.”

If you do not want to disclose your age or you are looking for dramatic effect, the general idea is all people need.  This is helpful for addressing your children.  “Mom, you look tired!”  To which you answer, “Of course I look tired! I have been parenting longer than I have been alive!”

Mom Days are also interesting to think about.  Mom Days are a simply way of calculating how many days you spend parenting in a day.  They also help to explain why days feel like they go by so fast.  The formula for calculating Mom Day is number of children that you have x 1 day = number of Mom Days.  For me, I earn 5 Mom Days for everyday.  Thus, for everyday, you are actually living the same number of days that you have children.  It is also helpful to calculate how quickly one of your Mom Days go by.  Instead of my days being 24 hours long, for me a single Mom Day passes for me in just 4.8 hours!  While I need to do some more research on it, I am hoping that wrinkles keep pace with the 24 hour calendar rather than the Mom Days.  

I hope this is helpful to you.  Do not forget to recalculate your Mom Years at least once a year.  Enjoy using Mom Years!  

Friday, June 5, 2009

New background!

School is out and so the school background had to go.  The cherries are because the cherries this year are wonderful!  Pick some up if you can. 

Homeschool Blues

There is a lot of talk about the Post-partum Depression, but what about Homeschool Depression?  I was surprised recently when talking with a few fellow homeschoolers to learn that two of them where on medication for their mental well-being.  This prompted me to think about if Homeschool Depression is common.   I believe Homeschoolers often suffer from a range of anything from the blahs to full-scale depression.  I believe that new homeschoolers and veteran homeschoolers are both equally susceptible to falling into the abyss.  However, I believe the cause of and the relief for newbie and veteran homeschoolers are very different.  In this post, I will be dealing with what I have termed the Homeschool Blues: From Blahs to Depression for Newbie Homeschoolers.

The transition to homeschool mom is similar in many ways to the transition of becoming a mother for the first time.  Just like when you first became a mom, you are thrust into a world that is new and unfamiliar.  There are new responsibilities, at least one young person relying on you, friends may or may not make the transition with you and family may not be supportive.  During the first year or even the first several years, you may be plagues with nagging questions in your head, “Am I doing this right?  Am I ruining my children?  Is this what is best for my family?”  These are serious stressors that can quickly be overlooked in the chaos of the new school year.   

A case of the Blues can come on quickly and be tough to shake.  There is nothing wrong with seeking professional help and medication.  As I mentioned earlier, you would not be alone in taking this route.  However, if you decide to that professional support is not needed but want to take steps to make things better yourself, following the traditional advice given to moms with the Baby Blues may not be a bad idea.  Below are some ideas on how to put into action some of the traditional advice you may be given. 

Get out of your four walls.  Being a homeschool mom means that there are less opportunities to connect with adults on a regular basis. There is no chatter at the morning bus stop, little time for a leisurely morning phone call or time for an aerobics class at the Y.  Suddenly you find yourself straining for adult conversation.  Personally, I found myself becoming good friends with the clerk at my local grocery store and the deli guy and … well, you get the idea.   There are easy and cheap ways to get out of the house without abandoning your homeschool duties.  Try incorporating a trip to the library, the park, a local field trip to the courthouse, a museum, or the theater into what you are doing that week.  I personally have found having something to look forward to at the end of the week makes the week go a lot smoother. 

Connect with a support group. Non-homeschool friends are available to talk when you are having a crazy morning and just want five minutes of Mom Time but they may not understand how the person that used to talk about fashion and kids has suddenly morphed into a crazy lady whose every sentence must contain the words homeschool or curriculum least once.  Support groups are different than co-ops.  Co-ops typically meet on a weekly basis for classes.  Each Mom is expected to put in her fair share of the work.  Support groups are a little more free flowing in that they typically offer field trips, playdates, Mom’s Night Out, and other get togethers but not on a regular basis.   Often times they share an online forum or group where you can connect with other homeschool moms.  Searching Google, www.hslda.org, or Yahoo Groups should give you a good start into looking into what is available in your area. TheHomeschoolLounge.com is a national homeschool forum. 

Eat right.  This one is tougher than it sounds.  It seems as if I am always eating standing up with the baby on my hip, while grading a math paper and loading the dishwaher.  But a little bit of planning goes a long way.  Keep good snacks and fresh fruit available and you will reach for the chips less. 

Do something for yourself.  There is a saying “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  This is double true for the Homeschool Momma.   Find 15 minutes a day to do something that moves you in the right direction.  Even if you do the same thing everyday, put it on your To Do List.  You may find that your 15 minutes is spent cleaning a closet, exercising, calling a friend, or just sitting with a cup of tea while the kids watch a video.  It is ok.  You need it.  Plus, crossing something off your To Do List is very rewarding. 

I will add one piece of advice of my own; fake it until you make it.  Your children are not the cause of your Blues.  Make the extra effort to insure that they are not overly affected by your struggles.  Smile at them. They need to be responded warmly to even when you do not feel like it.  Chose to ignore the small stuff; spilled milk is only spilled milk and there is nothing you can do about it now anyhow.  Celebrate their successes!  As their teacher and mother, these are your successes too! 

I hope this helps you feel less alone and offers you some positive ideas on how to shake off your Homeschool Blues.
  If you try some of these ideas and feel that they are not working, please reconsider talking to a health professional about your Blues. 

Up next will be Homeschool Burnout, Beating the Blues for the Veteran Homeschoolers.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Feed My Starving Children!
Feed My Starving Children is a place where you can go to package food for starving children.
I went to Feed My Starving Children, and I felt very good, cause I knew that I was saving kids!We packed 40 boxes of food!Did you know that every day 18,000 children die from starvation?You can save children from starvation!!!!!!!!!
To learn how you can make donations to Feed My Starving Children visit http://www.fmsc.org/ or call 763.504.2919
$5 feeds 1 child for 1 month
$30 feeds 1 child for 6 months
$60 feeds 1 child for 1 year

posted by Therese