Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sick Day

Have wanted to post all week, but have been busy AND sick. We're 4 for 4 today, so staying indoors to rest, play board games, and watch the final days of the Olympics. Hoping we'll all feel much better tomorrow....
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

ETA - Still can't get the photo upright argh! This was taken holding the BB vertically. I give up, I think.... Time will tell....
We are still puny, so probably home most of tomorrow, too. I have an unavoidable commitment tomorrow evening, however, so I have to get moving sometime.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sweet Thoughtfulness

My daughter and I were shopping at T@rget on Friday afternoon before we picked up my son from school. We just needed a couple of things, and as we were checking out Miss M asked for a treat (aka candy).

What's every mom's first answer to that question? "Not now, honey." And let the begging begin....

Admittedly, I'm a PA* mom, so there's more than just the sugary-high-followed-by-crash to be concerned about. A lot of the check-out aisle candy contains peanuts or is potentially cross-contaminated. So I moved on to my next tactic - I offered to give Miss M a snack at home, trying to talk it up by mentioning that she could have snack time with her big brother. I am not winning....

There's another little girl with her mom ahead of us in the checkout line. Of course, they are overhearing the entire conversation I'm having with Miss M - including the whiny parts and the 'no-you-may-not-have-candy' parts. I noticed that the little girl ahead of us did get to pick out a sweet treat, that she whispered something to her mother, and that she walked back to the candy display to select another sweet treat. Her mother paid for their items and handed one of the treats to the little girl. The little girl then turned around and handed it to my daughter and said, "I heard you asking for some candy."

Along with expressing our appreciation of the little girl's generosity, the PA mom panic was setting in and I was feeling a couple of other emotions, too:
a - Put in my place by a little girl who sees the joy in a little surprise treat every once in a while.
b - Split second decision of whether or not I should decline the candy, explaining my daughter's allergies, and thereby squash this little girl's sweet, loving, giving spirit?
c - Do I let Miss M accept the treat, allowing my daughter the joy of receiving the gift, and also allowing her to learn from the example set by the other little girl?

And my responses to all of that panic?
a - Have I mentioned that Miss M's love language is gifts?
b - Um, no. There will be no squashing of sweet little girls hearts today.
c - Well, yes - but will read the label once we get to the mommy-van and I'll deal with any tears (if it's not a safe treat) once we are in the relative privacy of the vehicle.
d - That is no joke, y'all - it's like there ought to be flashing caution lights, too. I really don't think I'm hypervigilant - I can't tell you how much candy is off limits to someone with a peanut allergy.

We paid for our purchases and walked back to the mommy-van, Miss M holding on to her newly-gifted treat. As we were across the parking lot, Miss M asked me, "Does it have nuts?" You can't imagine how tight I wanted to squeeze my sweet girl right then. I am so proud of how much more aware of her allergies she has become in the last few months, and I was super proud to know that her excitement over this unexpected gift didn't lessen her vigilance.

As it turned out, it was a safe treat - mommy's anxiety melted away, Miss M's happiness multiplied even more, and I realized I could probably learn a big lesson from a generous little girl who was in line with us at T@rget.



It's time to announce the winner for the custom label giveaway!

You're wondering what could keep me from wrapping this up and letting you know, aren't you? A busy week (I worked about 4x more hours than usual for my at-home, part-time job) and WARM WEATHER! Well, relatively warm.... It was close to 60 here yesterday! So, we did more than just hibernate, watch the Olympics, and surf the 'net. Without any further delay, though, here are the results:

Thanks to the
random-number generator at, the winner is ...

Commenter #5 - Jane Anne! Congratulations!

Thanks to everyone who entered! I hope to have another giveaway for you soon!

Friday, February 19, 2010


Waiting to check out at Costco ... Great selection of summer clothes for kids today.

ETA: I promise I turned my phone the other way to take this photo... It's just not keen on making me look good....
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Valentine's Day 2010

I had fun making the valentines for the kids' classmates this year, though at one point I was tempted to tape a boxed valentine to a pencil and call it a night! To be honest, I did most of the work after the kids were in bed, so I was tired. And, I didn't get Mister J started on the writing soon enough. However, I did had fun picking out papers that looked 'feather-ish'! And I was SO excited when Mister J saw what I was making, recognized it as an owl, and got the corny play on words that I'd made up for the back (Happy V-owl-entine's Day). There were others, but that's my original creation.
The ones on the top are for Mister J's class - they looked more like something a boy would pick out, I though. The brighter ones are for Miss M's class - I still have a hard time giving anything with pink on it to a boy, even on Valentine's Day.

Miss M's class doesn't allow food/candy treats due to the number of food allergies. I'm not a big fan anyway, so we usually give pencils, crayons, of similar. I did give a coupon for a free Icedream from Chick-Fil-A one time. Since it's not food in the classroom, and at the discretion of the parent, I do think these (or the free doughnut coupons from Krispy Kreme!) are a fun choice.

Here are the goodies for their teachers - Miss M has two teachers - which we finished up (gasp!) the morning they were to be delivered. I packed a Target $1 Spot mailbox (red or white) with some dill crackers that I made, used a magnetic photo frame to make a 'chalkboard' card with a handwritten "I (heart) U" and a message on the back, and stuffed it into a gift bag that I decorated with punched tags and curling ribbon. Simple, cute, and inexpensive. This is one of my favorites of teacher gifts I've given.
And here are the lunches I packed that day:

Heart-shaped soybutter and jelly sandwiches, natural cheetos (a rare snack), half clemetine, carrots and dip, and another special treat - a Clif fruit twist. I put the colorful napkin in the box to keep the jelly from oozing on to the Cheetos, so I put a 'regular' one in for them to (hopefully) use to wipe their hands and faces.

Fast forward to Sunday.... It was time to give our kids their gifts from Mommy and Daddy! I was SO excited about this, since I'd wanted to get these particular items for them since last year. I ended up finding them ON SALE, rode them around in the back of my minivan for quite a while owing to the number of snow days we had, and then finally managed to wrap them up (individually) in a large, black, plastic table cover to get them in the house. I had to walk them right past the kids (due to them being home for snow days!), and just told them I had a 'bag of stuff to take upstairs.'

We really don't make a huge deal out of Valentine's Day goodies. The kids usually get a book, a CD, or some other small-ish gift. This gift still fell within what I feel is a reasonable dollar amount, but is a much more sizeable item than usual. Without making you wait any longer - photos of their beanbags!

I was thrilled to find these so I could create a reading corner in each of their rooms. I was super excited that I found them in 'valentine' colors, but that was just a bonus. I thought I might have been just a tiny bit more excited than the kids until Miss M dragged hers downstairs all by herself to read in the den!

Oh - how could I not mention this? Big J and I got a date night on Saturday night and went out for an adults-only dinner! Appetizer, salads, dinners, and dessert! It was delicious, and we didn't talk about the children for an entire meal! Yay, us! And thanks to Grandma RL, our babysitter for the evening!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Week's Worth of Lunches

I've not felt very creative with the kids' lunches lately. I haven't really tried anything new or fun. No themed lunches (not that I do those very often, anyway). I've been very busy lately, and the general busy-ness won't end for at least another month, so it's a good thing the kids don't needfancy lunches. They've been bringing home empty lunch boxes more often than not lately, so I'd say they are pretty happy.

As a result of said busy-ness, the blog posts are a bit slower, too. I'm combining most of last week's lunches into one big post - I'll do a separate post about Valentine's Day - and then I'll try catching up with a few other posts in the next few days (oh, and a post about the winner of mygiveaway).

Mister J was home with a fever on Monday, so I only packed one lunch. Tuesday was his "24 fever-free hours before returning to school" day, so again I was one lunch short. However, I don't get back home for lunch on Tuesdays, so I packed mine as well that day.

Yogurt, shelled edamame, blueberry bar (so easy to make these!), ham and cheese pinwheels

Tuesday - Miss M
Yogurt, granola, half of a clementine, hummus, carrots, ham and cheese sandwich (1/2 sized)

Did you notice the small yellow container holds the granola that goes on the yogurt in the large container? And that the hummus in the orange container goes with the carrots? Cool, eh? I planned it like that.

Tuesday - Mom
Pumpkin-chocolate chip bar nestled in the top corner, salsa (also easy to make!), rest of the clementine, granola, yogurt, tortilla chips

This was the first lunch I packed for myself in the bento 2.0, and I enjoyed the flexibility of having so many small (and lidded) containers. I found the lids a little tough to get on, but I'm expecting that'll work itself out over time. I had plenty to eat (and even shared with Miss M since I eat after I pick her up from school), but should have packed more protein. I got hungry before dinner.

On to Wednesday... I'm sure I've mentioned before that Mister J has snack time each afternoon. We pack that in addition to his lunch. Sometimes it's all in the lunchbox, sometimes it's separate. Today, it was in the box. While my intention was that the cheese and crackers were his snack, who knows what he actually saved for snack time. It's never quite what I intended, but I guess all that matters is that he's eating healthy!

Wednesday -Mister J
Half sandwich (looks like soybutter, really don't remember), half clementine and strawberries, cheese and crackers, carrots with dip (probably roasted red pepper hummus)

Wednesday - Miss M
Half sandwich, strawberries (she loves to eat them whole), half clementine, carrots with dip.
Her lunch was perhaps a bit heavy on the fruit, but I'm using up what I've got!

Thursday - Mister J
Ham (turkey?) and cheese sandwich on an everything bagel thin, carrots and cucumbers with dip, applesauce, clementine. Again, his snack is in the box with his lunch. Did you notice that this isn't his normal lunch box? He's using my 2.0 to keep from squishing the sandwich (even though it's on a bagel thin!). He ended up with too much food - even though there's not much difference in size, I overpacked....

Thursday - Miss M
Half sandwich on a bagel thin, applesauce (that blends right in to the yellow container), shelled edamame, half clementine

I think the Wednesday and Thursday (and especially Wednesday) photos are good examples of how the portions are different for Miss M and Mister J. It's not much, but it makes the difference in empty boxes in the afternoon or leftovers that I end up tossing out (because they have gotten too warm).

Whew - four days! Did you hang in there? Wow - thanks! I love posting these - I hope you are still enjoying them!

School Night

Mister J is working on a project about Woodrow Wilson while Miss M alternately poses for the camera and does her own "homework."
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ETA: Seriously? Another upside down photo? I think I've figured out the problem, but only just now.... Will fix this shortly...

Monday, February 15, 2010


... this is not a "real" post. I'm just trying to get your attention to ask you to enter my giveaway (click on the "Enter my giveaway' text at the top of the right column.... Go ahead - take a peek. The odds are REALLY GOOD!

And, hopefully, a 'real' post in the next few days. My real (part-time) job (aside from mom-ing) is keeping me busy lately!

Sunday, February 7, 2010


What an evening! Mister J went to bed with chills, a fever, and tummy ache this evening. He also asked me to set up a monitor so I could hear him in case he had an 'emergency.' And he was worried about vomiting on his comforter, so I pulled it off of the bed and put a cotton throw blanket on him - and his trashcan beside his bed, just in case. When it was time to put Miss M to bed, she decided that she wanted "to watch football" - and hugged me to try to get her point across! Then, when she went to bed, five minutes later she got up because she couldn't see her fingers. For real. Then she had to potty. Then she needed her daddy. She finally stayed....
After being home from school for 4 snow days last week, Mister J will be home again tomorrow. We did manage to complete his "100th Day of School" project before the fever and tummy ache set in - I hope he feels better in time to go back to school for the celebration. I'll post about his project later this week - it's great!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Not too long ago, I sat down after spending the day on my feet. It was a lovely way to spend the day. "What?" you're thinking, "this lady's crazy!" Nah, I'm not crazy. I spent the day on my feet, in my kitchen, baking and trying out some new recipes. I baked some of our tried-and-true favorites - sausage balls, blueberry bars, and pumpkin bars. Those will become breakfast, lunchbox, and dessert items over the next several days. For dinner, I made Pioneer Woman's white chili, which we had a few weeks back and really enjoyed. This time I tried her salsa, guacamole, and pico de gallo recipes. I also made some cilantro lime rice to serve with the chili. I'm not a chili-and-rice girl, but I thought they might go nicely together, and I was pleased with how it turned out. Hands down, though, the best accompaniment to the chili is guacamole. Unfortunately, one of my avocados (which I bought only 2 days ago) was already completely brown on the inside, so we only had enough guac for dinner. We have lots of leftover chili, so I will have to go back to the grocery store soon. The pico was fantastic - I think we ate half of what I made! Since it's the only ingredient in PW's guacamole besides the avodcado, I think my grocery list just got a little longer!

Ingredient rundown for the day -
3 sticks of butter
3 cups of Bisquik
2 cups of cheddar cheese
1 cup of monterey jack cheese
1 pound of hot sausage
2+ cups of oats
1 bag of chocolate chips
nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, cloves
1 cup of pumpkin
LOTS of flour
LOTS of sugar
1 pound of great northern beans
2 boxes of chicken broth
1 cup of milk
3 jalapenos
corn meal
1 cup Basmati rice
olive oil
1 1/2 onions
3 Roma tomatoes
2 limes
1 avocado
1 bunch of cilantro
1 can of green chiles
2 cans of Rotel
1 can of whole tomatoes
7 cloves of garlic (at least)
cumin, paprika, garlic powder, dried minced onion, bay leaf
3 chicken breasts

And that's just what I can remember without looking at the recipes!

I used every mixing bowl, measuring cup, and measuring spoon I have (some more than once) and overflowed the bowl of my food processor (what a mess!). I washed as I went, but still had a dishwasher full of dishes. I also washed 3+ sinks full of dishes at the end of it all - whew! But I had a wonderful day! With all of the snow days we've had, this is the first real chance I've taken to bake - which I love! My second favorite thing is chopping - and once you chop it, you've got to do something with it, right? I have to add kudos to my husband, who led the kids in "family clean-up day" while I baked, chopped, and cooked. Now THAT is bliss!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Overheard #28 dinner tonight.

Mister J: "What's mayonnaise?"

Yes, that's right, our 6-year-old doesn't know what mayonnaise is. Big J was adding it to a sandwich at dinner this evening, and that's when the question came up. Since Miss M is allergic to eggs, we rarely use mayo - but do keep a small jar around for the adults to use on sandwiches and in the occasional pasta salad. Of course, we still don't use it often, and almost never finish the jar.

Big J and I had a moment of did he really just ask that? before we explained mayonnaise. What a weird thing to have to explain....

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Recent Poll

I recently polled my readers about what they most like reading on my blog. I didn't write a post indicating it was going up, so I was pleasantly surprised to have 13 voters! Voters were able to select as many items as they wanted, and here are the results:

Posts about Lunches - 8 votes (61%)
Funny Things the Kids Say - 6 votes (46%)
Tips/Advice - 2 votes (14%)
What We've Been Up To - 4 votes (30%)

These results are interesting to me for several reasons:
  • Posts about lunches was the top vote-getter
  • I've had more comments in the last week than ever before - almost all lunch-post related.
  • Tips/Advice got the least number of votes, but was one of the main things I intended to write about when I started this blog

One-lunch week

Due to some snowy, sleety, icy, and generally wintry weather, the kids have been to school only once day this week. And that one day had a two-hour delay. School is already cancelled for tomorrow in anticipation of more wintry weather and freezing temps overnight. But, I did get to pack lunch, and I tried something new, so here goes!
Thermos with mac and cheese, yogurt, diced strawberries, carrots with ranch dip, and a clementine. I put some extra shredded cheese on top of the mac and cheese, which Mister J said was "good." Between lunch and snack time, he ate every single bite.

Miss M also had mac and cheese, yogurt, strawberries, carrots and ranch, but not a clementine. Even though she gets smaller portions, I wasn't sure she would eat what I would normally pack since she wanted - and ate - two breakfasts this morning. I decided to surprise her with some stickers in the 'empty' section of her lunchbox. I attached them with an accordion-folded strip of paper to make them stand out. She was rather pleased by them, it seemed, when I asked her about her lunch today. She ate most of her lunch, leaving behind about 2/3 of her mac and cheese. I figured the carrots would come back home, but I'm glad she ate the vegetables!

Killing time...

... while we wait to check out at Costco. Now I'm glad I let him bring the book into the store. The lines are very long again today since another 'winter event' is due tonight/early tomorrow morning. We were already running low on a few things due to the most recent storm that kept us cooped up for a few days. After this run, I still have to swing by the post office and a 'regular' grocery store.

PS - My apologies to those of you who saw this while the photo was upside down! I really to need to figure out how to post right-side-up from my phone....
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's Giveaway Time

It's giveaway time again, thanks to!

I am so happy with the postcards I had printed after my last giveaway, and now I am imagining how I could use custom-printed labels.

That's right - this time, the lucky winner will get 250 custom stickers! I can't even slim down the number of ideas that I have for how I would use custom labels - funky return address labels, a festive decoration for greeting card envelopes, to-from labels for gifts, bookplates, the list goes on!

Entering this contest is EASY! Just tell me how YOU would use 250 custom stickers! Here are the giveaway details:
  • ONE lucky winner will receive 250 full-color custom stickers/labels, printed on 70lb matte label paper
  • The winner can choose from three different sizes - 2"x3.5", 2"x4", or 3"x3"
  • Turnaround time - 4 business days from the time you approve your proof
  • Free UPS shipping
  • NOTE: only US residents are eligible to enter this giveaway
This giveaway will be open for two weeks, so be sure to get your comments in by the 17th! I'll randomly select a winner and post the results soon after. (Anonymous commenters, leave a way that I can reach you - for example, name(at)email(dot)com.)

I'm so excited to read your ideas!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"Blizzard" of 2010

We are currently on Day 5 of the first winter 'event' of 2010. The snow began on Friday evening and continued through Saturday, eventually turning into sleet. We all stayed inside on Saturday - the kids had no interest in playing outside while it was actually snowing, and I didn't argue with that. We got outside on Sunday, played a bit, shoveled the driveway, and then got out of the house for a bit (most of the major roads were clear). The temperatures are still fluctuating a bit - the leftover snow and ice melt during the day and then freeze over at night. Tomorrow makes the third day that schools have been closed, and we are expecting more wintry precipitation on Friday, and perhaps even more next week. If we have to get wintry weather, I'm hoping for more of the big, fluffy flakes like we had in December and less of the typical Southern snow, which contains a fair bit of ice. Read on to see what I mean....

Our cat, Mulligan, sitting on top of the snow/ice.

It took a bit of work for the kids to break through the snow, and the kids were amazed by the big chunks they could pick up this time (we had dry snow in December).

We had really good snow for making snowballs. It probably would have made a good snowman, too, but we didn't make one this time. It was hard to get through the top frozen layer to the sticky snow underneath. The kids really wanted to have a snowball fight. Mister J took advantage of Miss M's smaller, slower hands and conserved some energy by not actually throwing several of his snowballs.

Poor Miss M doesn't have the best aim yet - and Mister J ducked at just the right time - but she sure tried hard to get her big brother!

This snow wasn't so good for making snow angels, but my two sure tried! Mister J did really a good job of breaking through the snow and here's the result!

And here's why Mister J conserved his snowball-throwing energy - a snowball fight with Big J! They had so much fun - lots of laughs and LOTS of snowballs back and forth! You can see that the snow is starting to melt, and that it wasn't really cold when we were outside (Big J didn't even wear a jacket out).

The final snow tally was somewhere around 6-8 inches - including a bottom layer of ice, a middle layer of sticky snow, and a top layer of frozen snow/ice. Here's a big chunk of it - 6 inches thick - but this isn't the full thickness of the snow/ice. There was a portion of the yard that didn't even break when we walked across it - and all four of us walked across the same spot!

I really didn't imagine we would get as much snow as we did - after all, the weather forecasters never get it right two times in a row! So, once we knew the roads were clear, we ventured out for a couple more gallons of milk, some fruit, and some sanity! We let the kids play in the new playhouse that's on display, I looked at books (but didn't buy any), and we generally just enjoyed being out of the house. Check out that parking lot - and that's after it was cleared/scraped. The icy bottom layer just isn't going anywhere fast, and that's why tomorrow will be the third day in a row that school's closed.