My kids are awesome. They love to help in the kitchen, especially when licking spoons is involved.
I’ve always been a bit hesitant about letting them help with any other cooking because most of my recipes are pretty involved. Lot’s of sautéing (that word looks weird, but spell check picked it), chopping and taking hot things out of the oven. Yesterday I made simple beef enchiladas. When I told the girls that I needed to assemble them, they both replied with, what does assemble mean? and can we help?
After realizing that my kids are in fact tall enough to stand at the counter and (b) old enough to comprehend directions, I put together an assembly line and put them to work. It was great… I got to supervise (read a book and have a glass of wine!).
Looks like I will be researching other easy kitchen suppers today…
Easy Beef Enchiladas Verde
1 lb (ish) of ground beef
1 28oz can of green enchilada sauce
4 cups of shredded cheese
12 small tortillas
Brown beef, add roughly 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce, let simmer for a few minutes. Transfer to bowl so that little hands can help assemble. Take one tortilla, add beef mixture, cheese and roll up. Place in 13×9 pan (which is prepped with a layer of sauce), repeat. Pour remaining enchilada sauce evenly on top, top with cheese. Bake covered 375* for 20 mins, uncovered for 10 mins for cheese to bubble. Serve with salsa and sour cream.
It’s so easy to get caught up in our own lives, our own worries of what the future holds. It is easy to ignore or push aside other people because we don’t see them day to day. We tend to think that our minute problem is huge and trumps all.
Amazing what can happen when you take a moment to examine the people around you. I know a family that the dad is struggling with a debilitating health issue. They have to deal with this everyday for the rest of their lives. I know a cancer patient that so far has beat the odds, but the more the cancer spreads – the more it is eating away at her and her family. Why then do I linger on silly little issues in my own household?
Humbly, I come to the cross.
I let go.
I bow before the Creator.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I started a prayer journal at the suggestion of my pastor. Even though I talk to God in prayer, writing a letter to Him helps me with perspective. I can see on paper the desires of my heart and I am both humbled and at peace.
You Never Let Go – Matt Redman
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won’t turn back
I know you are near
And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?
Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me
And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We’ll live to know You here on the earth
Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You
Most of my friends thought I was crazy that I didn’t check on my babies before I went to sleep each night. I figured they woke me up enough, why would I chance waking them up by going in their room? It is strange now though… they are 7 and 8 years old and probably at least once or twice a month I go up to their room to check on them before bed. I worry about if they are having a restless night because of their day at school. Or if the sleep walker is laying in the bath tub. Mostly it is because I miss them. I mean, I don’t want to miss them growing up. Each year seems to go faster. I know that the kids have to grow up and I’m sure we will have a good time when they are adults… but I like it how it is now. They are at a fun age – and still so full of adventure and what lies ahead.
I made a few simple new year resolutions. I know… nobody keeps them. Well here we are 14 days into the new year and I have kept ALL of them! My biggest resolution was to be a mom. Simple, right? I am a mom already, therefore – mission accomplished!
Really, my resolution was to BE a mom to my kids. Not their friend, not a space cadet, not lazy… but to BE there for them, DO things for/with them, Encourage them, Teach them, Lead them, Show them. One of the hardest balances is to let your kids grow up and yet still BE a mom. For instance… shower time. Seems simple enough… let kid shower and wash their hair, put on jammies and get in bed. When I first decided to let the girls start taking showers (instead of baths), I helped them – taught them how to get a good lather in their hair and make sure they were washing each and every nook and cranny. Then, after a month, I let them do it on their own. For about 4 or 5 months they have been completely on their own until one night I realized that I had become a lazy space cadet. I was enjoying my time reading or watching TV while they took turns with showers. I was letting myself off the hook because they were independent, instead of BEING a mom. What gave me this sudden realization? My older daughter, almost 9 years old, had smelly hair and armpits… AFTER taking a shower. I’ve come to the realization that long, thick hair on an 8 year old still needs moms help… and that a barely turned 7 year old still needs someone to talk to and guide her.
I have to say that by implementing this one simple resolution that life here in our little household is happier. Not only that, but since I am already upstairs helping them, we finish earlier (and I’m not yelling for them to “hurry up”) and we have more time for cuddling and reading stories before bedtime.
Well, December has turned out to be a very full and fast paced month! It seems that when your youngest child turns Seven, time starts to go even faster. When I started this blog Three years ago, I felt the urge to write all the time. Now it seems that with the addition of Facebook, I don’t have much to share anymore. Maybe, or maybe I’m just lazy.
Most of December was filled with activities for Girl Scouts, school or rehearsals for the Christmas Eve pageant. We also were taking the oldest child to the doctor for testing. She was very lethargic, fatigued and complained that her neck hurt all the time. Blood work revealed that everything was fine. This Holiday break has given her the opportunity to “heal”, if you will, from the stresses of being a 3rd grader and she has been the happiest I’ve seen her since this summer. I’m thinking that my new years resolution will be to take things slower. Not that we are over involved, she only does Girl Scouts and gymnastics… but then add in her sisters Girls Scouts which meets opposite weeks, our Bible study growth group and homework and all the sudden we have a full week.
We had a wonderful Christmas holiday. The girls were involved in the Christmas Eve service, as was I. Both girls were bell ringers during the first song and the 8 year old was a flag dancer at the end. All of those rehearsals paid off!
After the service, my parents came over to spend the night so that they could watch the girls open presents in the morning. Santa was generous this year and brought the kids (and daddy) a PS3. It came with one game and honestly, I don’t see any reason to buy another. Ever. This game has so many levels and the game system does so much more than just play the games.
We then headed over to my parents house for the night, along with my sisters family. We had a big Christmas dinner and played a few games of scrabble.
On the 27th, I celebrated my birthday. The day was very relaxing. I got to pick out a new phone (thanks M&D!), go house looking for fun and then have a low key dinner on the sofas by the fire at a local restaurant. The girls sat on the floor by the fire and ate their dinner under the coffee table. Their giggling reminded me of good times when I was their age… but I think I’m having more fun now.
Speaking of good times… this break has allowed us to not only have much needed family time, but also one-on-one time with the girls. The girly-girl and I painted toe nails and went grocery shopping together, while dad and the tom-boy built a lego house. We’ve also had time to snuggle and watch movies, read books and play games. The girls even made up their own version of charades the other night. Now the year is coming to an end. So many memories, a few of them sad… but all of them together make another chapter in our lives. Here’s to 2011!
I have been writing hand written letters to my girls in a journal. Mostly I’ve been remembering the past because this blog is only 3 years old and there is no documentation of our lives before that. I hope to get the journals up to date soon so that I can write them a monthly letter. I just thought that it would be a neat gift to hand over to them on their wedding day… or when they have their first child.
I’ve also been meaning to scan in some of the girls recent art and class work. I figured that I can’t save everything… so why not scan it on the computer? It is fun to come across something old that the girls did that was long ago recycled. Here are a few of their recent pictures they made for halloween:
It is interesting to see their perspective on holidays. One that I haven’t scanned yet is a picture of the caterpillar from “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle… only his head is a skeleton head with a witches hat.
I can’t wait to find out what they come up with for Thanksgiving!!! Speaking of Thanksgiving, it is only 19 days away. Not only do I love the traditional Thanksgiving meal… but I love family time. I think this year I will have the girls write out what they are thankful for in advance and then have them read it to us on Thanksgiving day. Hm… maybe I will get hubs and I to do it too!
Where have we been?
Life in this household has not slowed down. It seems that we go from event to event. Even when my calendar pages are empty, something comes up, like the 8 year old just started after school Enrichment in Chinese lessons. Monday we have Gymnastics. After the first session ended, the 6 year old has decided that it is not for her, so she is just going to take coloring and reading material with her. Every other Wed and every other Thursday we have either Brownies or Daisies (girl scouts). And of course the biggie… this is football season, so weekends are packed full. On top of the kids activities, I have taken up two jobs. I am substitute teaching again this year but since you normally don’t get a call everyday, I accepted a nanny job with my good friend. She works from home full time and needed someone to watch her younger two, so since I already know and get along with them – why not? It has been around 9 weeks with them and it is a dream job!
In other news, our HVAC just gave up and died, the fan has been on the fritz for about a year (producing hardly any heat and making an awful noise, then in the summer producing next to no cool air). So since we needed a new system, we converted from oil to electric. The new system is working great!
A pipe in our septic system broke. I don’t know how long it has been broken, but my guess would be that it froze sometime during our major snow storm last year and burst shortly thereafter resulting in the need to be “pumped out” before we had an overflow issue. Hopefully the broken part comes in soon and can be repaired.
Did I mention that there seems to be a problem with our water softener? A few months ago our water started tasting metallic and subsequently our tubs and sinks started to stain. The problem seems to be off and on though, so we are putting off a new system until it completely dies.
I’m not sure that anything else could possibly go wrong with this house. I think we are done. You see, we’ve also had the roof replaced after much leaking…. and a few other things that I’ve mentioned over the years.
On the positive side, we have done some fun things like a surprise mission to Mimi’s house for her birthday, a crab feast and my husbands class reunion. I’ll leave you with some pictures of our adventures…
She did it. My eight year old can now ride her bike without training wheels. I know, most kids do that around age 4. The problem is, you have to have commitment as the parent, to have the time and patience to run along with them, teach them balance and keep a positive attitude.
Two weeks ago we went to the park to try it out. After an hour of learning balance and riding with assistance, we went home. It was around 95* and she was starting to get frustrated. The six year old did not make it past 2 minutes without training wheels… that is a task for another day.
A few days ago we took the girls to the park again. Daddy worked with the 8 year old while I took the dog and the other child on a walk. After 40 minutes or so, we ran back into them and she was flying. He had her turning corners and braking without falling.
In other news, the girls started gymnastics. After much battle between what kind of sport/dance class to take… the girls finally picked gymnastics. The nice part is the beginning class is at the same time, but split up by age… so I only have to drive there once a week.
The girls continue to love school and their teachers. Last night was “back to school night”, where you get the low down on what the class will be learning, where they will go on field trips and how you can help your child succeed throughout the year. Once again I feel like the girls have teachers that fit their personalities. Amazing what a bit of prayer and patience can do…
I’ve been trying to be more relaxed this summer. Usually I’m worried about jamming in enough trips to the library, swim lessons and things that I forget to just enjoy the fact that we don’t have to do anything. I am a family girl. I’m not a huge fan of time away from my husband or kids. However, I haven’t been to my grandparents house in 9 years. I know, my kids are younger than that… which means they have never been down to visit. Thank goodness travel works both ways, as my grandparents have visited us several times over the last 9 years. So, this past week the kids and I jumped in my parents RV for yet another road trip adventure. When we arrived at my grandparents house on Friday morning, my grandfather was a bit taken aback. At first it didn’t click who these two little girls were standing at the door (my parents and I were hiding), but he knew that he recognized them. When we popped around the corner, it all fell into place. We then repeated the hiding as we entered the house to find Gran knitting. It took her a good hour to get over her initial shock! I can’t say that the rest of the visit was fabulous. There is something about living that long that gives you the right to be cranky. We’ll just leave it at that.
Thankfully, my cousin only lives an hour away and came to my rescue! We took the kids to feed some ducks and then took them to the mall to put on a fashion show for us. I’ve never let my girls in a dressing room alone before – so this was a special treat. They tried on outfits and then came out and modeled them for us.
We left a day early and set out to a camp ground, where we stayed for 4 days. The campground was on a lake and since over half of the sites are owned by people who keep their 5th wheels there… it was quiet. I took runs along the lake and swam in the pool for hours with the kids. The most memorable moment though was when my dad and I took a 3.1 mile bike ride to a local winery, did a wine tasting, and then rode 3.1 miles back to the campground with our purchase!
In other news, this weekend the family and I took a last minute day trip. The girls love water fountains… so we seek them out whenever we can.
As a family, we try to recycle as much as possible. Sure every once in awhile a paper towel will be thrown in the trash – but we try to be conscience of what we throw away. With the kids, I’ve started a statement with clean up time. We have our daily pick up of toys – which usually consists of them stashing things under furniture for the clean “look”. We also have our weekly mom sweep, which consist of me finding the proper place for a few things here and there…. and then we have the monthly toss out, which consists of my statement. “Girls, do you want to Recycle this, Reuse it (Something like construction paper that they rolled into a cone shape can be reused for a drawing.) or Retire it?” (which means, give away or throw away.) The monthly toss out takes about an hour and the girls have learned not to get frustrated or upset. I explain to them that old projects cause clutter and if they aren’t going to save it in their box, they need to recycle it. With toys, if it is no longer age appropriate, we decide if it can be given away or thrown away.
Another thing I’ve aways like to do is reconfigure furniture. I feel like it is easier to make a mess when things always stay the same. When you place your furniture in a different spot in the room, (or in a different room altogether) you can de-clutter and organize. When the girls started sharing a room a few months ago, their room became a tight space. However, the guest room stays clean and we only have one kids room to clean up now! Today I made the decision to move the reading chair out of the room and to the basement. The basement only has one overstuffed chair and a rocking chair, so it isn’t very family room friendly. We spend all of our family time up in the living room anyway, but now we have more options. Moving the chair out has made the girls room feel bigger – and taken away one more spot for things to get stuffed under.
In other news, I finished buying school supplies yesterday. I had some things left over from last year that the girls can use. They will also be re-using composition books. I will either tear out pages – or just leave it as is. The math journal had less than half used. I have two left over from last year too… in case she fills the whole thing up. Even with re-using, the supplies cost an arm and a leg. I’m gonna blame it on the pencils. Third grade asked for 8 boxes of 12 pencils, sharpened and First grade asked for 4 boxes of 12 pencils, sharpened. I know that my third grader will not use 96 pencils throughout the year. Maybe 30 – and I think that is pushing it.
Speaking of food… I made three new dishes for my dad’s birthday party on Monday night. It took me 3 hours to prep them before taking them over to my parents house to cook. We have bacon-wrapped stuffed dates, grilled asparagus and melon salad and last, roasted tomatoes with garlic and gorgonzola. The last two are from the Giada cookbook and the first one was Giada inspired, as she has a procuitto wrapped stuffed date which is not cooked. I wanted to have the goat cheese melted inside the dates – and I love the flavor of the bacon with it. Since I used procuitto in my asparagus salad, I did try one of the dates with it and I didn’t like it as much. You can find all of Giada’s recipes over on my cooking blog. I forgot to take the “after” pictures – but here is the raw product!
Around our house you will often hear one or both of my girls singing or playing some tunes up in their room. They both love music, especially the 6 year old… it is not surprising since I am a singer and am always humming a tune or singing a song. They love all types of music from 80’s, 90’s, Jazz, Christian and more… but you will usually hear kid pop of some sort coming from their room, Hannah Montana, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato or something from High School Musical. The funny part is, I like all of the music. I mean, the artist are good and their tunes are catchy. I’m not embarrassed to say that I know all the lyrics to Ice Cream Freeze (Hannah) or HUMUHUMUNUKUNUKUAPUA’A (from HSM) but I’m not sure if my kids think I’m fun and cool – or maybe a bit crazy.
Today my 8 year old is writing another song. She most recently wrote, The Sea, the Ochan and the Shore (her spelling), which she added some more versus to today. Her new song is titled, Summer, so I’m excited to read the lyrics soon!
Speaking of summer… we only have four weeks left until school starts. I’m not ready to face the fact that my youngest child will be in 1st grade. Rumor has it that our school will have it’s only male teacher this year – and in 1st grade. I think it would be neat… but the 6 year old is not so sure. Wonder if the rumor is true? Our school waits until the week before school to give out teacher assignments. While I can understand why they do it, my stomach remains in knots until we find out. My kids have always been matched with the perfect teacher for them though… so I don’t know why I always worry.