- What is your favorite color? blue
- What is your favorite toy? blocks
- What is your favorite fruit? mangoes
- What is your favorite TV show? Captain Planet and the Planeteers
- What do you like to eat for lunch? Salami and cheese
- What is your favorite outfit? Legoland Pirate Shirt
- What is your favorite sport? soccer
- What is your favorite snack? yogurt covered raisins
- What is your favorite animal? penguin
- What is your favorite song? Rock N Roll Hoochie Coo
- What is your favorite book? Top Secret Spy Book
- Who is your best friend? [Sunshine]/ Nick
- What is your favorite cereal? Peach Oatmeal
- What do you like to do outside? dig
- What is your favorite drink? water
- What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
- What do you sleep with at night? Pup Pup
- What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? cereal (oatmeal)
- What do you want for your birthday dinner? tuna and mac and cheese
- What do you want to be when you grow up? scientist
I've been trying out new recipes here and there. Instead of writing about one each time I tried it, I figured I'd save up until I had several. Let me just say, I have the pickiest family of eaters ever. And that includes Husband.
Cajun Chicken Pasta
I knew my kids wouldn't like this before I even made it. However, I thought that maybe, since it's Cajun, Husband might like it, if only for the heat. Since I refuse to make separate meals for my kids, I just cooked up more pasta and they had plain pasta and veggies minus the seasoning. They ate it right up. Husband happened to use the mushrooms I had bought for this meal for pizza the night before, so I that was missing from this recipe. I wouldn't have made a difference though. I added a ton of Cajun seasoning to spice it up for Husband. I did make the kids each try some of the Cajun chicken. Monster liked it. Sunshine, surprisingly, got through it without too much complaining. Husband hated it. He said it wasn't spicy at all. I find that amazing since it made my eyes water and I instantly needed some Zantac. I liked it. Definitely not something I would want frequently due to the cream cheese base, but good for every once in a while. Unfortunately, we will not be having this again since I'm the only one who would eat it.
Tortellini and Garden Veggie Bake
I truly thought this would be a hit. I was wrong. No one liked this. Sunshine decided not to eat. Monster and Husband suffered through it. I followed this recipe exactly. I really had high hopes for it. I thought it was just OK. I ended up putting a lot of extra pepper on mine for a little flavor. It was very bland. The vegetables, however, were awesome. I could just eat roasted veggies all day though.
Lemon Garlic Pasta
This was OK for the kids, but didn't work for Husband or me. There was very little flavor. Monster loved it because he put tons of parmesan cheese on it, like he does to regular pasta. Sunshine loved it because it tasted like plain noodles, which are her favorites. Husband and I were left wondering what happened to flavor and thinking about what we could add to it to make it not feel like we were eating plain pasta. I even added more garlic and more lemon than the recipe called for. In fact, after I added twice as much lemon, I thought I may have made it too lemony. Nope, couldn't even tell there was lemon in it. This is yet another recipe that won't get repeated in my house.
I thought this dish was fantastic. The kids didn't hate it. They didn't like it, but they suffered through it. Husband really didn't like it either, but he ate it. I thought the flavor was fantastic. I used potatoes, carrots and peppers for the veggies. I also didn't have paprika on hand, so I used Penzeys Forward since it has a paprika base. Also, I doubled the rub recipe and did my chicken in one batch of rub and my veggies in the second batch. Even though my family wasn't fond of it, they ate it and since I really enjoyed it, this is a recipe that will be tried again at my house.
Chicken Parmesan Casserole
This recipe was super easy and not too bad. The kids weren't big fans, but they ate it. Husband ate it, too. We probably would have liked it a lot more, but it was a nice day and I happened to be outside playing when the timer went off. Even though I have an oven that shuts itself off when the timer goes off, it still dried out. I will be trying this again, but keeping a better eye on it!
Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Sandwiches
This was just OK. The kids ate it and Husband and I ate it. None of us hated it, but none of us loved it enough to add to our regular menu. If I really wanted to make something we hadn't had in a while, I would probably consider doing this again. The flavor of the chicken was good. I didn't have (actually never even heard of) Dale's seasoning. It just so happens that a friend was making this recipe the same week I was, so she had already looked up Dale's seasoning and found the ingredients. Unfortunately, the main ingredient is soy sauce, which has two issues, 1)MSG and 2) Husband doesn't like it. Looking at the ingredient list, I had to wing it. I didn't measure anything. I used a shake or two of soy sauce, Probably 1/2 a cup or a little less of worcestershire sauce (yes, still bad for us, but wasn't sure how else to get the flavor needed) and then just sprinkles of the other ingredients found in Dale's. Again, not bad, but nothing really special.
Weight Watchers Cheddar Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
Husband and I really liked this meal. The kids? Not at all. Each of them picked out the bacon and that was all they ate. I do have to say, I used turkey bacon just because we don't use regular bacon in our house, but I don't think that mattered. Husband and I both thought this was very flavorful and quite enjoyable. I'll be keeping this recipe around for when the kids get older and they are eating at friends' houses.
So sadly, out of all of those recipes, there was nothing that everyone completely loved. I'm running out of new recipes to try. I look through recipe after recipe and I just know that either the kids or Husband won't like it. Luckily, summer is around the corner and the Farmer's Market opens next weekend. That means lot of meals with good veggies. We all love that! In fact, I know that the kids and I could always go without meat for a meal. Husband still likes to have meat dishes, but he, too, loves fresh veggies! Not only is the Farmer's Market opening, but we got our garden in this weekend, so we'll also be having some nice fresh veggies from our own backyard!
Monster has started taking karate. As of now, he's loving it. His instructor told us he should practice at home. So, I practiced with Monster. His new move is a rear kick. Pretty simple. When you do it, you look over your shoulder to see where you are kicking. No big deal, right? But it is. It is a huge deal because I can do it. Had he started karate a year and half ago, the simple step of looking over my shoulder would have been literally impossible. A year and a half ago, I had to move my whole body just to look to my right and left in order to cross the street. So it's a huge deal that I can now look over my shoulder to do a rear kick. I still live with neck and back pain every day, but it's so much less that I don't really even consider it pain, more of a nuisance since a year and a half ago I could barely function with the amount of pain I was in. Every day is still a challenge, but remembering where I was and embracing how far I've come keeps me going. Keeps me trying. Gives me hope.
Mother's Day was not a day I was looking forward to. Last year, I had the worst Mother's Day. When I say the worst, I mean it was a horrible day that was made worse by putting a label on it. This year, Monster was super excited for Mother's Day though. He had "big plans". Seeing him so excited made me feel so happy and loved, yet I still had a little dread. I am delighted to say that this year, Mother's Day was awesome. We did nothing spectacular. We really didn't do that much out of the ordinary other than breakfast in bed. Monster slept in later than he's slept in for probably 4 months. Then, when he woke up, he wrote me a list of foods and drinks I could have for breakfast and I had to check off what I wanted.
They all made me exactly what I wanted for breakfast. Since I have issues with crumbs in my bed, I chose to actually eat at the table, with everyone, but we called it breakfast in bed. After that, Monster gave me a Mother's Day Agreement that he made in school along with a picture. I know it's hard to read in the picture, but the best part of the agreement is what he wrote under "As my gift to you for Mother's Day, I promise to..." He wrote "Warning. Only on Mother's Day!"
Sunshine made me a picture at her school as well.
After breakfast, we did pretty much nothing. I cleaned without child interference. We got part of the basement cleaned out and things together for Purple Heart donations. My mom was supposed to come over, but had to cancel, so I literally had no place to go or anything pressing to do. All in all, it was a great day!
I came across this pin this morning all about organizing your laundry room. Now, I don't have a laundry room. I have a basement. A cramped basement that contains barely enough room to get clothes out of the washer without hitting the furnace and it's near impossible to get clothes out of the dryer without running into the hot water heater. I decide to click on the link though because I'm extremely good at organizing and making ideas work for my space. Well, not this. Martha Stewart obviously has delusions that we are all as rich as she is.
The very first great idea on here is to keep linens organized into neat stacks. Let me tell you, if I leave any laundry out in the open in my "laundry room" for more than a day or two it gets dirty again. With all the dust from my furnace (and I just had it cleaned, thank you), there is a constant layer of dust over everything down there. Plus, why are we organizing linens in our laundry room. Even in my tiny house, I have a linen closet. Second idea on there wasn't bad. In fact, if I had any room at all, I'd totally do this. Instead of a cutesy little towel bar mounted under a shelf though, my husband rocks and fashioned a huge bar that is attached to open wall studs. It's not pretty , but it works just as well. Next is adjustable shelving for a laundry wall that can be used for just about anything. Sure, let me just take out my furnace, I don't really need that anyway. And then I can store the surfboard, I mean ironing board, right next to it for easy access. Yeah, I'll get right on that. Next on the list is a stain chart. Not a bad idea. However, it's recommended to laminate it. How many of you out there who are not teachers just have access to a laminator? That's what I thought. How about this. Save a stain chart to Pinterest and then check it out. May be a tad more work since it's not right in front of you, but with smart phones, ipads, kindles, laptops, the chart if mobile if saved on the internet. Here's one I really love next, perfect towel folding using a cutting board. Now, if you have time to use a cutting board to fold your towels, you have too much time on your hands or you're just anal retentive. The tight space laundry ideas and adjustable laundry closet are cute, but again, if your laundry room is in your cramped basement in a closet with a furnace and water heater, these ideas just aren't practical. The last idea is one that I just laugh at. Bags. Use bags to carry your laundry instead of baskets. Do you know how many bags I have in my house? Too many to count. I have a bag for this, a bag for that, a bag for another thing. Are they easier to carry, definitely. If I had to go to a laundromat, I'd like this idea. For walking clothes up and down stairs, give me a laundry basket. My kids can help put laundry away out of a laundry basket. My kids can not help out of a bag. When they reach into a bag, they unfold my folded stuff. That then makes twice the work for me, and I definitely don't have time to do twice the work.
So, since obviously every single other ideas out there is for people with real laundry rooms, I'm going to give everyone some ideas for people without real laundry rooms, because you know what? I'm super efficient with laundry (when Husband brings up the clean, folded laundry baskets). Tip #1, Shout Color Catchers. I'm not talking the ones with OxyBoost, those are a waste of money. Just the regular old Color Catchers. Seems like a weird first tip, right? Nope. These things are magic. Really. I say that because my first real tip is to keep kid laundry together to make getting it put back away after washing easier. Each child has a hamper. I do a load of Monster clothes. I do a load of Sunshine clothes. All their clothes get washed on the same cycle, in the same temperature, hence the Color Catchers. When the clothes come out of the dryer, I toss them in a laundry basket. No sorting. All of them go in the same person's room. I really can't tell you how much time this saves. I used to sort it all and do everyone's laundry together, but the sorting and putting away took three times as long. To go along with this tip, do kids clothes when the hamper gets full. When the hamper is full, you have a large load. If the hamper gets too full, then you have to divide the clothes up, which makes more work for you.
Tip #2. If the idea of washing all clothes in the same temperature and whatnot bothers you, then go ahead and sort. I do this for mine and Husband's clothes. The tip comes for when I fold. One half of the basket is his side and one half is my side. Now, out of everyone I have ever talked to about laundry, other than my mom, I'm the only one who does this. By doing this one simple step, I save a ton of time putting clothes away. I'm not opening and shutting drawers in to different dressers. Not only do I organize them while folding them, in the basket, but I layer them in the basket by top middle and bottom drawer clothes. Hanging clothes all go on the very top, only folded in half so that if, for some reason Husband has to put clothes away, he knows those particular things get hung up. If it's been weeks since I've done laundry (which has happened once or twice) I get His and Her laundry baskets. No, they don't say His and Her. When I fold clothes, I put all of mine in one basket and all of his in another. This doesn't happen often though....at least not recently.
Tip #3: OxyClean. I had one person say to me once, "I knew you kept your kids clothes in good condition, but these [hand me downs] were amazing. There wasn't a single stain on them." That's because of OxyClean. I am crazy when it comes to stains on my kids clothes. I will do whatever it takes to get them out. There has been very little I can't save. When I fail, I call in reinforcements, aka, my mom. Between the two of us, I think over the past 15 years we've only not be able to salvage 2 or 3 items. And by salvage, I mean make them acceptable for us, who are crazy weird about stains. For really bad stains, I soak the item in OxyClean and hot water. If you keep heating the water, over the next day or two, you keep reactivating whatever is in OxyClean to get those stains out.
Tip #4 follows right on the heels of stain fighting. Stain spray stuff. Honestly, I don't think it truly matters what kind you use. Everyone has a favorite. I LOVE Dreft spray, but it' the most expensive, too. Whatever stain stick/spray you like, keep it close to where you're actually taking your clothes off. I have a spray in the bathroom cupboard as well as in the "laundry room". This way,you don't have to take the article of clothing that you want to treat into the laundry room, just spray it, rub it and toss it in the hamper. All those sprays say to let the stuff sit on there anyway, so letting it sit in the hamper with all the other dirty clothes works just as well as letting it sit in your laundry room.
Tip #5: Color Catcher /fabric softener sheet bag. What? Yes, a bag. Instead of throwing all those sheets out, keep them in a little bag, or, better yet, use immediately (which I never do but should) to clean your lint trap. By using the sheet, you can get more of the lint off than by just using your hand. And that takes us right into tip #6. No matter how small your area is, keep a trash can right next to your dryer. That way, the lint from the trap goes right into the trash and not all over the place while you are carrying it to the trash can.
And finally, my last tip. Tip #7: No matter what kind of laundry area you have, keep it clutter free. The less you have in your laundry area, the easier laundry is. There are times I get lazy and throw Husband's work pants on top of the dryer. Or there are times I leave laundry baskets full of clean clothes to be folded next to the dryer. This just makes more work for yourself and makes laundry take longer. Now, since my laundry room is in my basement, I don't have the problem of having it in my "mud room" (ha! My whole house is my mud room!) and tossing stuff on top of the washer and dryer when I come in. The more cluttered your laundry area is, the more likely you are to procrastinate getting the laundry done. Keep your area tidy. Laundry rooms are for laundry, not random paperwork.
So there you have it. All my wisdom about how to really make laundry more simple. I don't think that it has anything to do with the size of your laundry room or if you have everything all shiny and sparkly. It has to do with being efficient. Efficiency is something I pride myself in. I just don't have time to do things the hard way.
We're coming off of a party weekend. Now, when I say party weekend, I don't just mean a birthday party one day. I mean a weekend filled with fun, not every weekend, activities. This weekend we had the kids' joint birthday party. It started out with Grandpa and Grammy coming in from Illinois. It was awesome. My kids love them so much! When they are here, they are all about the kids. Monster and I had the annual fun run to do Friday evening. Everyone met us at the finish line. It was huge for Monster to have the support. We shaved time off of last year, too. Sunshine really wants to run it next year with us. Not sure if my back can handle two kids pulling on my arms, but we will most definitely try it!
Saturday, Grammy came to Sunshine's soccer. Poor Grammy couldn't even curb Sunshine's not-so-sunny disposition that morning. From there, there was bike riding, playgrounds, baseball and a cookout. It was such beautiful weather, too. Sunny and warm. Perfect for everything outdoors! I really wish I would have gotten pictures of everyone playing baseball. That was probably the kids' favorite part of Saturday. Monster was hitting pitches out of the park and Sunshine was using her tee like a champ.
Sunday was the actual birthday party! Again, beautiful day for being outside! There was more baseball and soccer. All the family was there to celebrate. The kids had a blast! It was a fantastic way to celebrate birthdays!
Life isn't fair. We hear this a lot. There are those that believe life is what you make it. There are those that believe you should be handed everything just because they think they're better. But under all of it, sometimes, life just isn't fair. This school year has broken my little boy. Things have started to look up the past month or two, but once broken, no one is ever quite the same. At the start of the school year, I had a socially awkward little boy who bravely faced every day, knowing who he was, trying to figure out his place. He had a passion for knowledge and wanted to go to school every day so he could learn. He started out first grade excited and ready to embrace every last bit of information they threw out it him. As the year progressed all of it changed. I won't deny that Husband and I had a part in that, but all you can go on is the information you receive from teachers since we can't be with him every moment. There are 5 weeks left of school and my boy has changed into a socially anxious little boy who wants to retreat and not face the day. He wants to crawl inside his own imaginary world so that he doesn't have to fit in. He still has a passion for knowledge but he doesn't believe he will ever get it from school. He seeks it out on his own. He comes home from school relieved that one more day has passed and he made it through. He doesn't want to talk about school, ever. He doesn't want to go to second grade. I handed my over my little boy to people who are supposed to help him, shape him, but they snapped him. Again, I fully take some of the responsibility for that. Since January, I have been trying to make up for that. I've been trying to help him put the pieces back together. When I look at my little boy, I'm angry. Angry at myself. Angry at the teachers. Angry at the school. Angry at the whole educational system. I can't take that life isn't fair for him. I can deal with what life throws at me, but when it's hurt him this badly, I'm just at a loss. I've been trying to help him take what life throws at you and turn it into something good, but he's 6. He's so strong though. He's the strongest, bravest person I know. He wakes up every day and he gets it done. He faces his fears without complaint. He excels at his school work even though the environment in which he's in makes him want to quit. Watching him deal with all this so young breaks my heart. Seeing how he keeps going makes me proud. I can see him trying every day to put the pieces of himself back together. He'll manage. He'll get through this. Husband and I are here to help him. My worry is how many more times can he go through this before he can't be put back together? Life isn't fair. The brave keep going anyway.