Monday, July 30, 2007

Cheeseburger Pie

I've been asked about Cheeseburger Pie. This recipe came to me years ago from my mother-in-law. When it didn't "taste like mom's" I gave up trying. I pulled the recipe out for this week hoping to add something to my list of menus and to give my hubby a smile. Maybe enough time has passed for him to enjoy it. = ) I'll be leaving out the green peppers, I like them but they don't like me. And I'll add a couple of cloves of garlic.

Cheeseburger Pie

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
4 oz. can tomato sauce
Cheese topping (see below)
9" pie crust

Preheat oven to 425. Brown beef, onion, green pepper. Mix in rest of ingredients except cheese topping. Spread in pie crust. Spread cheese topping over meat mixture. Bake 30 min.

Cheese Topping
8 oz. (2 cups) grated cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. Worcestshire Sauce

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Reserve to pour over meat mixture.

Quote of the Day, July 30

The children are playing together in our basement playroom. I use the word "playing" loosely. Pestering. Whacking. And generally annoying each other is a better description. But there are moments.

Ben just sat down beside Ellie, touched her arm and said, "Thank you, Jesus, for Ellie."

Awwww....doesn't that just warm your heart? I'll try to remember this the next time he whacks her in the head with Thomas the Tank Engine.

Menu Plan Monday, July 27

Here's my plan for this week. I actually plan for a month at a time and am starting to run out of some supplies. That means I'm adjusting a few items from my original plan.
Plan B
Monday: Grilled Steak, Green Beans, Corn, Watermelon
Tuesday: Teriaki Chicken, Broccoli, Carrots, Onions, Watermelon
Wednesday: Pizza, Pineapple
Thursday: Barbeque Chicken, Steamed Broccoli & Carrots, Fruit
Friday: Cheeseburger Pie, Salad, Fruit
Saturday: Chicken & Dressing, Green Beans, Steamed Carrots,
Sunday: Yet to be Determined.
I hope this gives you some ideas. If you ever want a recipe just e-mail me. I'll be glad to share. Though I warn you I'm not a strictly-by-the-recipe kind of cook.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Eight Things About My Marriage

Jennifer at Snapshot tagged me for this meme. My first meme! Thanks, Jennifer. It sounds like fun, so here goes eight things about my marriage.

1. I've been married for 10 years. Our wedding was exactly one week after our college graduation. We were both 22 years old, babies really!

2. I am six months older than my husband, a fact he greatly delights in.

3.We are opposites in many ways. He's a messy and I'm organized. He's likes small groups and I like big parties. He's quiet and I talk a lot. He's adventurous and I like to play it safe.

4. Even though we are different we work well as a team. I navigate and he drives. I read the directions and he puts the item together (the baby crib was NOT fun). He washes the children during bath time and I dry and dress them.

5. We learned the leave and cleave thing pretty early. Three months after our wedding we moved from Arkansas (where all my family was and still is) to Rhode Island. The nearest family is 1500 miles away so we learned to depend on each other.

6. We have shared goals: serve God, teach our children to love God, and sleep as late as possible on Saturday mornings.

7. We usually agree on finances. Right now we are working the Dave Ramsey plan. Sharing goals and the plan to reach those goals has helped eliminate fights over finances, though not the occasional "discussion."

8. We were married 6 years, 3 days when our oldest child was born. That gave us time to travel and do all the leaving and cleaving.

I've enjoyed thinking about my marriage this weekend. I'm tagging Lendy at Tales of Toddlerhood, Charity at Cardiff Central, and Stephanie at {Olive Tree}. If you decide to do this please leave me a comment so I know to come read your post.

Ding Dong Went the Doorbell.

I don't know if there is something about my house, my street, or my neighborhood but we get WAY more than our fair share of door-to-door salespeople. I'm not even kidding. This is the 5th summer we have lived in this house. During that time the following have rung the doorbell (*denotes this summer):

Jehovah's Witnesses (2 summers),
Mormons or LDS (2 summers),
*Magazine Salespeople (3 summers, and they are RUDE),
*Water Conservation Petition Gatherers (5 summers),
Political Candidates (in election years),
Political Candidate Supports (in election years),
Guys with Lawnmowers offering to mow my yard (go here for Hubby's view on mowing),
Lawn Services offering to spray the weeds (LOL! See above link! 2 summers),
A Financial Planner who was relocating to the area,
*A Telephone Company Rep. wanting me to switch services,
The Schwann's man,
People promoting Vacation Bible School at a nearby church,
A vacuum cleaner salesman,

*And, my all time favorite, a man driving an unmarked refrigerated truck who had "a few steaks left over" from his delivery. Including Fillet Mignon! He could make me a really good deal. Sadly, I'd been to the store that day and my freezer was packed full (said with sarcasm). If only I'd known he was coming.

A Good Friend

Last night I hosted Mug & Muffin. This is a monthly Bible study meeting for the ladies of my church. Each month we are at a different lady's house and we discuss a book of the Bible that was chosen the month before. I volunteered to host for our July meeting, which was last night.

But this is not a post about Mug & Muffin. Oh, BUT NO! This is a post about my wonderfully good friend, Amy, who knows me well. We met 9 years ago after she and her husband moved to Rhode Island. On their first Sunday in the state they attended our church. We invited them to our place for lunch that day. We've been friends ever since. The kind of friends whose husbands had water balloon fights in pre-kid days (and will probably do so again when given the opportunity). The kind of friends who hosted baby showers for each other. The kind of friends who organized TWO WEEKS of people bringing meals after the babies were born. And the kind of friends who stand in the parking lot of Applebee's until 1:00 A.M (oh, yes, we did!) because they kicked us out of the building but we still had words to use before going home.

You get the idea. So last night, my good friend, Amy, who knows me so well, brought me a hostess gift. I didn't get a chance to open the bag last night, in fact I didn't even take the bag from her. She put it down in my bedroom with some other things she had brought. This morning I remembered the bag and lifted it to check out what was in it. That bag was HEAVY! What in the world could it be?! I put the bag on my bed and pulled out the tissue paper. What did my wondering eyes see?!

A can of DR. PEPPER! TWO cans of COKE! AND a whole BOX of NUTTY BARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She knows me well! It's consumable, decluttering is my Summer Project, and my favorites! Can you guess what I ate for breakfast? Oh, yes, I did! It's now 3:20 pm and I've eaten 2 packages of Nutty Bars and only have 1 coke left. I think I hear another Nutty Bar calling my name. If I hurry I might eat another one before any children wake up from their naps.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Quote of the Day, July 25

"Never fear, Super William is here." -Will, age 4 years.

Why I love Price Rite.

1. Granny Smith apples are always $.99 a pound.
2. Milk is $.50 a gallon cheaper than at the supermarket.
3. I can buy boneless chicken breasts for $2.29 a pound or less.
4. A huge box of off-brand Cheerios is $1.49!
5. 100% whole wheat bread is only $1.69 a loaf!
6. My grocery bill is HALF what it would be at a supermarket!!!
7. Because I bag my groceries myself, my bread is never smooshed and my eggs don't get broken.
8. There aren't carts all over the lot because most people want their deposited quarter back.
9. There isn't sneaky product placement that causes my children to beg for junk.
10. Occasionally someone leaves a cart in the lot and I SCORE their quarter when I return it.

That last one always makes me smile and shake my head. Silly people, a quarter will get you a Dr. Thunder out of the machine at Wal-Mart.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Countdown Begins!

As all ladies know sometimes we need a Girls Night. It's just plain fun to get together with your girlfriends and talk and talk and talk. Husbands don't understand this compulsion. Their nights out consist of actually watching the movie they claimed to be getting together to see. My husband has never had a problem with Girls Night. He can only listen to me talk for so long before his eyes glaze over and his ears start twitching. So he usually thinks a Girls Night is a pretty good deal for him.

For some reason my Girls Nights became few and far between after I started having babies. It may have been because my friends in Rhode Island were also having babies. All those babies and husbands made scheduling a regular Girls Night difficult.

During the late summer or early fall of 2005 I had a brilliant idea, if I do say so myself. The Providence Performing Arts Center advertised a theatrical company would perform Annie in early June 2006. I e-mailed two of my friends and suggested we take in a matinee performance and supper without husbands and children. Having also grown up on the movie Annie they agreed this was a fantastic idea. In December of 2005 we purchased our tickets during a Christmas sale for 20% off. Are you following me? We bought our tickets SIX MONTHS in advance! The money was paid and no husbands could back out!

I placed my ticket on my dresser mirror. Let me tell you, looking at that ticket got me through more than a couple of stressful mommy days. June 2006 finally arrived and we had a fantastic time. After the show we moved the party to a restaurant. We arrived around 5:00 pm. We left about 10:30 p.m. The waiters and waitresses were cleaning up the place preparing to close when we finally left. I arrived home after 11 pm to find a worried husband. He had begun imagining all sorts of terrible things had happened to me. My friend, Amy, also found a nervous husband when she arrived home.

We enjoyed our outing so much we agreed another one had to be planned for 2007! But this time we felt we should stay overnight in a hotel. That way our poor concerned husbands wouldn't have to worry about us out on the road somewhere. (We're nothing if not self-sacrificing!) The only questions were "where should we go" and "what should we do". Due to money and time restrictions we needed to stay pretty close to home. Just not AT home.

A couple of months after our Annie outing we heard a rumor that Beth Moore would be speaking in Providence during 2007. We began checking the LifeWay website occasionally to see if this rumor was true. Then one day! There it was!! Living Proof Live with Beth Moore in Providence, Rhode Island!!! Can you feel my excitement?! If you live in the Bible Belt you may not understand the significance of having a fantastic and popular Bible teacher come to New England and our very own Rhode Island. Trust me. It's a rare event.

It didn't take long for us three to agree on Beth as our EVENT of 2007. Sometime in March we bought our tickets for the August 24-25 meeting. Yes, 5 months in advance. We've even had hotel reservations for months. Some how we managed to get our husbands to agree to an overnighter!! Even though we live all live less than 45 minutes from the event site. And once again, there is a ticket stuck in my dresser mirror getting me through days of a mouthy four-year-old, a tantrum-throwing 2 1/2 year-old, and a drama princess 11 month-old.

So if you pass a woman at the grocery store tomorrow with one child in the cart, one child in a stroller, one child walking and there's a smile on her face - it might be me. That smile is because I'm thinking "one more month. No, make that 4 weeks. No, make that 31 more days. No, make that 744 more hours and I'll be footloose and fancy free for an entire day!!"

Free to go to the bathroom without company, at least not company that stands there and stares rudely while I take care of my business. Free to eat my food while it is still hot. Free to drink lots of DR. PEPPER all night, cause goodness knows I'll need the caffiene in order to stay awake after 10 pm. Free to talk and talk and talk (O! and listen to my friends talk also). Free to be Stephanie the Woman instead of Stephanie the Wife and Stephanie the Momma.

Ahhh... just thinking about it makes me smile. And in case you're wondering, we've already started thinking about where to go in 2008. I wonder if Beth will be speaking in Hawaii next year... a girl can dream can't she?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Menu Plan Monday, July 23

For more yummy ideas be sure to visit I'm an Organizing Junkie.
-Updated. I think we've gotten the formatting fixed. Sorry for all those who viewed earlier.

This week's menu:
Monday: Homemade Pizza, Salad, Pineapple.
Tuesday: Barbeque Chicken, Steamed Broccoli & Carrots, Fruit.
Wednesday: Grilled Steak, Salad, Fruit.
Thursday: Personal Choice.
Friday: Spaghetti, Green Beans, Salad.
Saturday: Chicken Blue, Pasta, Steamed Broccoli & Carrots.
Sunday: Mexican Casserole, Salad, Fruit.

Homemade Pizza Dough Recipe
1 package of yeast or 21/4 teaspoons of yeast 1 cup of hot water
1 cup of white flour
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
wheat flour, enough so dough isn't sticky - about 2 cups
Pour hot water into large bowl. Add yeast. After yeast has dissolved add white flour. Stir to combine. Add oil and salt. Stir. Stir in wheat flour until dough is firm enough to knead. Knead dough on floured surface adding more flour as needed until dough is no longer sticky. Return to bowl and place in oven to rise. After dough has risen desired amount remove from oven and roll dough out on a floured surface. Place dough on pizza stone and cook for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and put on desired toppings.
Yield: 1 thick crust medium round crust or 1 thinner large rectangle crust
This dough can be rushed. I've often gone straight from kneading to rolling and placing on pizza stone. I turn the oven on low and let the dough rise for 10-15 minutes before cooking it at 350. I like to pre-cook the dough before putting the toppings on.
My family asks for this pizza all the time. It's a great way to use wheat flour. If your family isn't accustomed to wheat flour start with a high ratio of white and slowly work toward more wheat. My husband now prefers this pizza crust to restaurant pizza.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Learning Styles

A few months back I ran across a book on learning styles, The Way They Learn by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. Basically she discusses several theories on different ways we learn and store new information.

I found the book interesting and fun to read. It was easy to pick out my styles and my husband's. Not so easy to pick out the kids' styles but they are still really young so that's understandable.

Lately, I've begun to think Will is a visual learning. By that I mean he learns by seeing things. Last night I had a lightbulb moment with him. He was cleaning up the playroom (one of his chores) and I was doing my nightly "Hurry Up. Stop Playing" song and dance. I asked him where we had seen a certain toy a couple minutes earlier. He said to me, "sometimes when I'm trying to remember something I have to close my eyes so I can see it."

WHOA! DING! DING! DING! We have a winner! No wonder I've been having such difficulties teaching him new tasks! I've been verbally teaching him each step. What he needs is for me to show him and have some flash cards with pictures of each step.

I'm planning to use my digital camera and take pictures of him doing various activities, print and laminate the pictures. Then maybe we both won't be so frustrated anymore. That would be a good thing for everybody!

Works for Me Wednesday, July 18

For more great ideas check out Works for Me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer.

My problem was 2 boys, 1 bedroom, and where to put their "stuff." My solution? Check out these shelves my hubby hung over their beds. Each boy has his own space for his personal "stuff." On the top shelf are the stuffed animals, and the clear plastic jugs (juice bottles) contain each boy's rock collection. The cubbies hold pictures and money "banks" (empty plastic peanut bottle & peanut butter jar) and cups with each boy's name on it. And last but not least, 3 hooks with 2 prongs on each for holding caps and other "stuff" that needs to hang.

It's hard to tell from the pictures but the shelves also give the feeling of having a headboard. An added decorating bonus! What's not to love?!

Don't worry the shelves are BOLTED into the wall with THREE huge bolts and the boys been threatened within an inch of their lives if they ever hang on the shelves. Even if they do, I don't think the shelves are going anywhere, but don't tell them that.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Middle Child

Benjamin. Two & a half. Full of mischief, ready for fun.

All in a Day's Work

Quote of the day: "Mommy, poopy fell out." - Benjamin, 2 1/2 years old.

You know it's going to be a bad diaper change when they are fully clothed and this happens.

While I'm on the subject of diaper changes, go here to see a product I find absolutely hysterical! As the momma of 2 boys I can see why these were invented!!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Last week's menu was a success, as long as success is not defined by perfection. We started off with the grocery store out of their sale-priced chicken and since I refuse to pay nearly $4 a pound for CHICKEN I took a rain check. Another night we made an unplanned trip to the Golden Arches because I couldn't bear the thought of cooking. Other than that it was a good menu week.

I also learned something this week. Blogging my menu is going to make me more accountable to actually cook what I have posted. Not because of y'all reading my menu. Nope, because my husband is a techie. What does that have to do with my menu? Let me explain. I've put my menu on the refrigerator for months. My husband only occasionally reads it there. But apparently he checks the menu on the blog each day to see what's for supper! You should have heard the crying when I didn't serve the grilled chicken on Tuesday! All this means I have to make more of an effort to stick with Plan A. Who knew he'd check the menu postings?! Let this be a warning to you. Blogging your menu may set up expectations that you have to meet. Having said all of that here's the menu for this week:

Monday: Pizza, Pineapples.
Tuesday: Chicken Curry with onions, pineapple, & carrots over rice.
Wednesday: Grilled Steak, Baked Potato, Salad, Fruit.
Thursday: Chicken Noodle Soup, Fruit.
Friday: Soft Beef Tacos, Fruit.
Saturday: Birthday Party/ Personal Choice.
Sunday: Chicken Enchilada Casserole, Salad, Fruit.

Here is the recipe I modified and used last week for Tortilla Chicken Soup. It tasted "Yuh-MIE."

Vegetable Oil
5 Corn Tortillas
1 Onion, chopped
3 large Garlic Cloves, minced
1 small can Tomato Paste
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 Tablespoon chili powder
2 Bay Leaves
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped to bite size pieces
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
juice from 1 lime
4 Chicken Bouillon cubes dissolved in 2 cups of water.

Cut up 2 tortillas into strips and fry in oil to golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Saute onions in oil until starting to brown. Add garlic and saute for another minute or two. Tear 3 tortillas into bite size pieces and add to pot. Add tomato paste and dissolved bouillon. Add spices and bay leaves. Add 2 more cups of water. Bring to a boil. Add chicken and reduce heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Add lime juice. Serve with the fried tortilla strips. Makes about 4 adult servings and 2 child servings.

For added yumminess, top with grated cheddar cheese, diced avocado, sour cream, tortilla chips or corn chips. This recipe is a little spicy for mild lovers. But we LOVED it at my house.

In the future I'll leave out the corn tortilla strips and call it Spicy Chicken Soup. The tortilla strips didn't work well for me. They stuck to the bottom of the pan when I fried them. I have new stainless pots and am still getting accustomed to cooking with them. You may have better luck. I'll also double the quantities because we didn't have enough leftovers for lunch the next day!! And I love good leftovers for lunch.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Four going on Sixteen

William the Four-year-old.

Vacation Bible School

I have fond memories of attending Vacation Bible School every year growing up. The procession of flags. The slide show of missionaries. The Bible stories. The Kool-Aid and cookies. Somewhere along the way I graduated from student to helper then to teacher. This past week I graduated to parent.

A local church (not our church) hosted Vacation Bible School last week. Their classes started at 4 years old. Guess what? I have a four year old, William. Since we know the lady who would teach his class, I decided that Will should attend.

The first morning I almost cried on the way home after I dropped him off. This was the first time I've left Will in this type of a setting. I got a little emotional about it.

Will enjoyed his time at VBS. He learned Bible stories, sang new songs, made crafts and even rode a horse! He also practiced independence from Momma and Brother. Meanwhile, Ben & I enjoyed some time alone together while Ellie took her morning nap. That's something we are rarely able to do. It was a good week for everyone but I'm sure glad it only lasted a week.

I'm also glad Ben can't attend for 2 more years. Maybe I won't cry after I drop him off. Maybe. But I'm not counting on it.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Dreams. Not the kind you have when you are sleeping. I'm talking about the goals, visions, desires of your heart.

A dear friend has a blog about Being Single. She wrote yesterday about comments, advice, and self-help books that deal with finding a husband. She inspires me to consider possible effects my words may have that I don't intend.

But beyond the marriage issue, I think she addresses a universal theme, particularly universal to women, that of trusting God with our dreams. She says, "I think the more important question for singles to face is whether you can trust God even if that dream [being married] doesn't come true. Can I trust God for what He has for me now and seek to live out His purpose for my life right now. Can I find contentment in my circumstances as they are?"

Those are appropriate questions for all of us. Can I trust God with my dream and if my dream doesn't happen? I have faced those questions many times as each stage of life has brought new dreams.

In college my dream, like Michelle's, was to be married (O, the nights she & I spent discussing our lack of dates!). A week after graduation God fulfilled that dream for me. Next came the dream of children. After four years of marriage my husband still wasn't sure he was ready for children. I finally surrendered that dream to God. Three days after our 6th anniversary He fulfilled my dream again.

Sometimes God has said no to my dreams. Like my heart's desire to experience the vaginal birth of each of my children. After three tries this hasn't happened. Childbirth education and lots of prayer didn't change God saying no to this dream.

Right now God has said wait to a number of my heart's desires and not given an answer on others. Birthing more children, adopting children, a bigger house (to go with more children), living close to family, and moving back to the South are just a few.

Michelle has reminded me to trust God with these desires. And to seek His desires for the circumstances I am in now. Namely to be the mom, wife, & friend He wants me to be to my husband, the children He's already given me and the friends in my life here in Rhode Island.
Who knows? Maybe He'll fulfill some of these dreams, also.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Baby Product Skips

Here is my list of baby products to skip. Keep in mind this is my opinion. I've had friends use all these products and swear by them. But in my opinion the money is better spent else where.

1. Wipes Warmer. I never used one of these. I concluded that when I was "out and about" the wipes wouldn't be warm so I didn't want Baby to get used to it at home.
2. Bottle Warmer. Do NOT warm your bottles. There is no medical reason for it. Just personal taste. Kind of like the difference between drinking cold tea, room temp. tea or hot tea. If Baby is accustomed to warm milk and you are some place you can't warm the milk, then Baby probably won't be happy.
3. Stroller Travel System. These are HEAVY, bulky, hard to maneuver and fill your trunk. Instead, buy the Snap N Go (or something similar) for the infant carrier to snap into. Then when Baby is too big for the infant carrier invest in a nice umbrella stroller.
4. Nursery Crib Set. You can't use the blanket or quilt for a long time. By the time you can use it, you are ready to decorate for a "Big Girl/Boy" and don't want to use the baby quilt on the bed. The Crib Bumper is a COMPLETE waste. It's hard to change the sheet when the bumper is on the crib. The bumper is a breathing hazard anyway. You have to take it out when Baby starts to stand up in the crib (about 8 months for my Baby Girl) otherwise it becomes a step over the rail. Instead of the set, invest in a cute dust ruffle and coordinating crib sheet. Spend the rest of the money on accessories like curtains, wall hangings, rugs, lamp shades.
5. Diaper Genie/Pails. The Genie inserts are expensive and fill up FAST. I constantly had to buy new refills and change the insert. After Baby #2 I wised up. I have a regular trash can, lined with Wal-Mart bags, in the bathroom and put the diapers there. I take the full bag to the outside garbage can every 2-3 days, something I was doing with the Diaper Genie anyway.
6. Crib Music & Light Makers. I'm not sure what these are really called. They hang on the side of the bed and play songs or show lights. Baby will get used to having music to fall asleep. No music, no sleep. NOT a good thing.
7. Monitors. Believe me, you will hear Baby cry. Trust me. There is a Six Sense called Mommy Ears (& Nose) that kicks in really quick after delivery. The faintest whimper will bring you out of a fatigue induced coma. We registered and received monitors after our first baby. We have a 1200 sq. foot house. It takes me about 15 steps to go from my bed to the crib. But "everyone" has monitors so I thought I needed them also. After the first week I put the monitor back in the box in the closet. Not only did I hear Baby cry through the monitor I heard him BREATHING. I found myself becoming a paranoid mom listening to him breathe and afraid he would stop. And then I wasn't sleeping for listening to him. Believe me, babies make a lot of noise when they sleep. When they want you, they will be loud enough for you to hear.
8. Sleep positioners. Use a rolled up blanket if this is a concern for you. Otherwise, back to sleep for night time, tummy to sleep for day time.

Well, those are my skips. This list and a quarter will get you a "Quarter" Pop at Wal-Mart. I'll be back with my parenting/mommy book suggestions.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Princess Elisabeth, a.k.a. Miss Ellie Belly Jelly Bean.

Yes, that's me. I didn't like grass when this picture was taken last month. Momma sat me down on the grass and I tried really hard to not touch the stuff. I wasn't very happy with her because of the grass. I've decided I like the green stuff now so I'm not still long enough for her to take any more pictures like this one. Momma thinks this picture will be one of her all-time favorites of me.
Love, Ellie

Monthly Menu: A Work in Progress

*** Edited January '08 to add: Visit my other blog for my monthly menu, ingredient lists and recipes.

My menu planning is a work in progress. I plan because it reduces my stress and saves me money and time. I started putting together monthly plans after reading Lisa Whelchel's book Taking Care of the Me in Mommy. In the book and on her website she has charts made up that you can use.

Each month I sit down with my grocery store flyers, cookbooks, calendar, previous months menus and my computer with the Menu chart ready for me to complete. The whole process takes about an hour. It would be shorter if I didn't have to stop and referree so much. I take into account our activities for each day and try to plan quick and easy meals for busy days. I've also started planning similar meals for the same days of the week. For example: Monday is pizza night. Tuesday is asian. Wednesday is beef. You get the idea. This helps to insure we don't have chicken three nights in a row. Ha! Ha!

Over the last few months I've noticed that the supermarkets usually run meat sales during the second and third weeks of the calendar month. I hate to pay more than $1.99 per pound for meat so I have adjusted my menu to start the second week rather than the first week of the calendar month.

Another idea I'm planning to try is to make a master list of meals. Then when I make the menu I won't have to think about what side dishes to add to the meat dish. This should shorten my planning time.

I've been asked about lunches. We usually eat leftovers for lunch the next day. When there aren't left overs we have standard meals that I don't schedule on the calendar but choose from each day. PB & J (or honey) sandwiches. Hot dogs (for the boys). Ham sandwiches. Tuna sandwiches. Tortilla pizza. This week I read a great idea for planning your lunch menu also. I'm hoping to start doing that next week. For us it will be something like: Monday - PB & J, Tuesday - Tuna sandwiches . . . If I do this every day I won't have to decide what to eat, I'll automatically know.

Breakfast around here is very low key. I am NOT a morning person so that dictates our breakfasts for now. During the summer we eat cold cereal and fruit. During the winter we add Cream of Wheat, Cream of Rice and Oatmeal to the choices. Saturday is different though. Daddy cooks us pancakes, usually with chocolate chips. Mmmmmm...YUH-me, as the 2 year-old says.

Like I said, it's a work in progress. A menu is only Plan A. Sometimes we go to plan B; like this week when the grocery store ran out of their sale priced chicken. We just ate a meal that was planned for a different day. Sometimes we go to plan C; like yesterday when I was tired and overwhelmed so we ate at "Old" McDonald's.

Success or failure isn't determined by how closely I follow the plan. Just that I have a plan.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Then Comes Baby... the baby carriage, the car seat, the stroller, the crib, the bottles, the pump, and more things than I can possible list here.

I currently have a two dear friends and a sister-in-law who are pregnant. Two of these pregnancies are first timers. Rather than inundate them with MORE unsolicited advice (don't you just love the little ol' lady at the grocery store who tells you to enjoy them while they are young because they grow up fast?) I have decided to post my advice here. Advice based on birthing 3 babies from 3 pregnancies in 3 years and 3 months. That and .25 cents will get you a coke at Wal-Mart. If you buy the Sam's Choice from the machine.

Here goes my top picks on what a new mom REALLY needs, as opposed to what Babies R Us says you need.

1. A bouncy seat OR portable swing. These basically do the same job so you don't need both. If you want the swing be sure to get the short one that you can carry from room-to-room, haul to Grandma's house or sit inside a Pack-n-Play to protect Baby from people and pets. Not that I know anyone who's done that or anything.

2. White onesies in every size up to 12 months. These are great no matter what the season or your location. I prefer white because then they don't clash with the cute outfit that the Grandma will send your way.

3. A Pack-n-Play. Buy the one with the changing table and the bassinet feature. This way you can have Baby in your room for the first couple of weeks and not go crazy running to their room in the middle of the night. Unlike a real bassinet, you can use this one later as a play pen or portable crib. Skip the sun shade & bug covers and sheets, though. O! And have the Grandmas buy one for their houses so you don't have to haul yours over every time.

4. Lap Pads. You aren't going to use this on your lap. Place it on top of the changing pad cover. This way when Baby lets loose when the diaper is off (it is so going to happen!) you won't have to change the cover, just the lap pad. Less laundry and less time, always my goal!

5. Cloth Diapers. A dozen of the thickest ones you can find. Don't go thinking I've lost my mind. These are for burp cloths not diapers. Baby NEVER spits up on the pretty ones Grandma sends. O, NO! Baby would rather use your shirt than those. A cloth diaper will cover your whole shoulder and absorb lots. When they get really nasty they can be bleached. The diaper not the baby.

6. A lingerie bag. This is to put all those darling little socks into. I keep one in the laundry basket. Then, when I pull the dirty socks off I drop them in the bag. As long as everyone remembers the system you won't lose any socks to the dryer.

7. An Exersaucer. Try to find one with the least amount of toys attached to the tray. Baby doesn't need 35 different toys! 3-5 is plenty. My kids have all loved this. It allows them to be upright when they can't sit or stand up alone, yet. They want to see what I'm doing. And once they are mobile it allows you to keep them out from under your feet.

8. Footed Sleepers, Creepers, Pajamas, whatever you want to call them. I love these until about 6 months. You don't have to worry about keeping socks and shoes on tiny feet. Also, the adorable clothes you get at the baby shower always ride up, have huge collars that poke the face and are just uncomfortable for Baby. Save those for when you are in public.

9. Booster Seat. Portable and with a tray. SKIP THE HIGH CHAIR! They take up too much space and don't train Baby to eat at the table. If you start solids before Baby can fully sit up alone, use the Bouncer or Swing placed on a table (yes, I know this is a safety concern just don't walk away when you are doing it!). My 3 have only used the booster. While they are in the messy self-feeding stage they use the tray but near the table (they eat when we eat). Once they gain a little more control over their hands and food (about 12-15 months) I put the tray away and pull them straight up to the table. I even place their food on a plate and teach them to leave the plate on the table (closer to 2 years). I think this method is why we always get compliments on how well-behaved our children are when we eat at a restaurant. Children do in public what they do at home or worse. Never better.

10. The Ultimate Crib Sheet. Put your pretty sheet on the mattress. This sheet lays on top and has straps that snap around the crib rails. When the sheet needs to be changed just pop it off and pop on a clean one. Takes MUCH less time and aggravation than changing the whole thing!

Those are my top picks. I'll be back with my Top Skips. And don't forget. They grow up really fast so enjoy them when they are snugly and smell sweet. Before you know it, you'll have a sassy little four-year-old with stinky feet. At least the kisses are still sweet.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Today I am participating in Menu Plan Monday for the first time. I actually plan my menus a month at a time. This is something I started in the spring and it has been wonderful! I do a major shopping trip once a month WITHOUT the family. Then during the month I run to the store about every 10 days for milk, produce, and anything I ran out of unexpectedly. Fewer times in the store equals saving time, money and frustration.

Here's my menu for the current week:

Monday: Homemade Pizza, Salad, Pineapple chunks.

Tuesday: Grilled Teriaki Skewers: Chicken, Red Pepper, Summer Squash, Carrots, Pineapple.

Wednesday: Grilled Steak, Baked Potato, Salad, Fruit.

Thursday: Chicken Tortilla Soup, Cornbread, Strawberries.

Friday: Grilled Hamburgers, Green Beans, Strawberries.

Saturday: Chicken & Dressing, Green Beans, Steamed Carrots, Peaches.

Sunday: Attending a Birthday Party. No cooking for me! Yippee!!

Happy Eating!

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Dear Friends and Family who know me in real life,

I have made a few choices about security regarding this blog.

1. I am allowing it to be viewed by anyone, anywhere, anytime.
2. I will be using our first names ONLY.
3. I will NOT be using our last name or the last names of anyone we are related to.

I've made these choices because there are some really sick people out there. By not using our last name I hope to prevent anything scary from happening. So, please, please, please if you know us in real life, don't use our last name when you leave a comment. And if you are related to us, don't use YOUR last name.

Now let the bloggy fun begin.

My First Post

Here we go. My first post to my new blog.

My sweet husband assured me that this would be simple and no big deal to set up. I should have known better! He's a computer programmer. All day long he thinks in computer-ese. Me? I think in momma-ese. The two are NOT related.

Since I'm not at all tech savvy you're probably wondering how and why I'm getting into the whole blogging thing. I, umm..., enjoyed the third trimester of my third child during June, July, & August last year. It was hot (by New England standards at least). Combine "third trimester" with "hot" and sitting in the cool basement playing on the computer made perfect sense.

While playing, I occasionally read Lisa Whelchel's Coffee Talk. One week she linked to her friend Sarah's blog. I clicked over and was hooked. From Sarah I've found all sorts of blogs. Mommy blogs. Decorating blogs. Organizing blogs. Even Beth Moore has a blog! As my friend, Amy, succinctly put it, "Blogs are addictive!" They sure are.

That's the how. The why is pretty basic. All of my family and the majority of my friends live at least 1000 miles away. I've become very bad at keeping up with them. So I thought a blog might help me stay in touch. It remains to be seen if this solves my problem or just makes new ones.
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