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Mommy Minutes

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One of the things I have realized is that my kids need time with me.  Not time in the car running from here to there, not me working in the kitchen and them sitting at the bar, but time… side by side to just chat…time for me to hold them in my lap.  Yes, I know my kids are still young and want to curl up in my lap and I’m thankful for that.  But I think even as they get older the need for “Mommy Minutes” will be there, it will just be  different.

So this week we started having just that— a 10 minute time period when they get home from school that is their “Mommy Minutes” time.  Each child gets 10 minutes with me and the other child is not to interrupt our time by butting in on the conversation or coming to sit with us.  I was surprised at how eager each of my girls was to have this time.  We talk about how the day went.  My little one often just wants to sit in silence and have me scratch her back.  We sometimes read a book together or play a quick card game—just time together…one-on-one.

It makes me have to be ready after school though.  In order to not be worrying about dinner I have to be prepared ahead of time.  So here is my current recipe for being prepared:

Mommy Minute Prep:

  • Have your dinner menu planned out in advance.
  • Make sure dinner prep is done—chop all veges, get out all spices and shelf items needed, know how long the rest of dinner prep will be.  Do you just have to now brown the meat and throw in the veges?  Is the casserole all ready and just has to be placed in the oven at a certain time.  Be ready.
  • Have a few minutes for yourself before you can be there for the kids.  Since I no longer work, I have decided to be home by 3 from errands and meetings so I can have some time to relax before the kids get home.  If I was still working I would tell my girls I need my own “Mommy minutes” before I can give them their time.  I think they would understand that.  If you have a lot of kids you may need to plan out who will have their Mommy Minutes before dinner and who after.

I have seen that if I don’t freely give this time to my kids, they take it however they can get it but it usually isn’t in a positive way—hanging on me, poor bedtime routine, etc…

Don’t get me wrong….having Mommy Minutes didn’t cause all the sibling stress to fly away nor did it turn each child into a constantly obedient individual but it has made things better.  I can see it in their faces and I can also hear it in the words they use.

So think about using this recipe to bring some smiles to the faces of those precious little ones that need their Mommy no matter how old they are.

Cherry Chocolate Cake

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Need a fast dessert?  Keep these few items on hand and you can whip up something yummy in a flash!  My purist didn’t care for it as she doesn’t care for anything mixed in with her chocolate…but we told her just to dig the cherries out and eat the cake.  Her favorite part was the icing.

Cherry Chocolate Cake

Combine:

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can cherry pie filling

Mix until well blended.

Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

Let cool and then make the frosting.

Frosting:

In a small saucepan combine:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons of butter
  • 1/3 cup of milk

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Once boiling, continue stirring and let boil for one minute.

Remove from heat and stir in until melted and smooth:

  • 6 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips

I let the frosting sit just a bit and then spread it all over the cake.

Don’t serve it with sweet iced tea—there will be way too much sugar!!! 🙂

Enjoy.

Getting in the Back to School Mode

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As I type this, it is 8:55 and both of my girls are in bed.  That is a small miracle in this house.  Now they aren’t both asleep but they are in bed.  We are not early to bed and early to rise here at the Smith house!  Today it was 9:07 and I was going into each of my kids’ rooms to wake them up for a second time.  7:00 in the morning will come VERY early for them.

I decided we needed some activity for the today to get everyone tired out.  Brad and I took the girls on what we called a “Park-a-palooza”, hitting 3 parks in about two hours.  We never really ate lunch as we snacked on peanut butter crackers and water in the car between park stops.  So by 4:00 we were ready to prepare dinner.  Brad fired up the grill and prepared the Labor day tradition of burgers while I sneaked into the bathroom to prepare a scavenger hunt for the girls.  I wrote clues to remind the girls about our school routine.  Things like:

This is where you put your take home folders each afternoon when you come home from school.

and

You don’t see much of me once school starts but we had lots of fun this summer hanging out together.

When they got to the answer for each clue, there was another clue and sometimes a treat (starburst, stickers, etc).  They had fun running through the house and it was a great way to remind them of our school routines.  I was shocked to realize they had forgotten some of the “regular things”.  The hunt ended with their school bags with their favorite candy placed inside.

So the school bags are packed, first-day outfits are waiting to be worn, lunches are ready and hopefully my girls are just as ready.

I know I am ready for a different routine.  I’m sure it won’t be long until I’m moaning about homework and such, but a change of pace is nice and welcomed at this point.

Storm Survival

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Last weekend at this time we were in preparation mode for Hurricane Irene.  I am so thankful that we were spared the heavy winds and rain some people didn’t fare so well.  It was quite the 24 hours at our house as the storm began to come in.  Here are some things we learned:

  • My girls don’t do tornado drills at school.  They  knew to go into the closet but only because we have said it over and over again.  As I sat in the closet with them and told them about the drills we used to do in our schools, they thought it was crazy.
  • Antennas are an unknown to this generation.  We were using one of the girl’s CD/radio players to listen to the news on Sunday morning.  Both girls were intrigued with the “long, silver thing” that came out of the player.
  • Storms are scary.  As we sat there waiting for the tornado warning to pass, the lights went out.  The girls and I huddled in the closet in the family room with the door open so Brad could join us if he heard the tornado coming.  Both girls were frightened and one of them kept saying “I love you Mommy, I want to tell Daddy thank you for taking care of us”—melt my heart!
  • Sleeping with your tennis shoes on (AKA sneakers for my PA friends) is not very comfortable for sleep but comforting to the mind to know that you are ready if the windows break to walk through the dark house and get out.

Thankfully our power was restored a short 16 hours later, Brad and I were able to sleep the next night—without shoes on, and not one tree fell on our lot.  As one of my girls put it for her earthly dad I can say….thanks Heavenly Father for taking care of us!

Crock-pot: Bacon Ranch Chicken

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It is that time of the year when things get busy, busy, busy and thus I rely more on the crock-pot to get dinner on the table.  Just this last week a friend of mine from Texas posted on facebook something about Crock Pot Girls.  The group had so many “likes” that they started a website this week.  I found this recipe on their site and tried it tonight with my family.  It was very easy to make.  I used three huge chicken breasts and then boiled the others in the package to shred and freeze for meals later in the month.

Bacon Ranch Chicken

Place in the bottom of your slow cooker:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts

In a bowl combine:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup
  • 2 Tablespoons of real bacon bits
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix

Mix well and pour over the chicken.

Cook on High for 3 to 4 hours.

Just before finished cooking prepare on the stove:

  • 3-4 cups of egg noodles

Meanwhile shred the chicken breasts and return to slow cooker.

Mix cooked egg noodles in with the chicken.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Getting ready for the storm

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Well, when we moved to PA I knew we would have snow but really I never thought about a hurricane.  I grew up with hurricanes in Texas—it was a yearly thing.  We would start school and then school would be canceled for a while to ride out a storm.  I had to laugh when my dad called to make sure we were using all our hurricane knowledge to prepare for the storm.  This is my “hurricane preparation knowledge”:

“Kids, here is a box, fill it with what you want to take to LaGrange and then get in the car.  Dad will stay here to take care of the house during the storm.”  (Thanks to my Aunt Kay and Uncle John for providing safety from the storms!)

As an adult I’ve never lived in a hurricane’s path!  As a child, I was sent out of the path and my Daddy took care of everything.

This time I’m still relying on my Dad—my heavenly father knows exactly what will happen and we are making preparations and then trusting Him for protection.

I’ve already cleaned the gutter, brought in all the plants and the patio table, made cookies using my frozen dough, banana bread is in the oven while I type and now we just wait.  If you are in PA, I hope you will take precautions too—hurricanes are not to be mocked!  I can still envision what our basketball goal, cemented in next to the driveway, looked like when we returned from LaGrange, once again, this time after hurricane Alicia.  Let’s just say my little brother who was probably 6 could dunk the ball easily!  Fortunately where I live we are on the “good side” of the storm so the winds should not be that bad.  We are more worried about the trees and the already saturated ground in which they sit.

Messy Mexican Casserole

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Here is one that is easy to throw together and in my house the ingredients are always on hand (or easy to substitute).

Messy Mexican Casserole

Brown in skillet:

  • 1 lb ground beef (more if you have larger appetites to feed)

Drain fat and return beef to skillet.

Add to the beef:

  • 1 can of Ro-Tel (or if you are out of Ro-Tel like I was….one can of diced tomatoes and one can of chopped chiles.  I know you are SHOCKED that I was out of Ro-Tel…so was I.  My handsome fella used the last can and didn’t tell me!)
  • Taco Seasoning packet
  • 1 can of corn, drained

Mix and heat thoroughly.

Prepare:

  • one box of cornbread mix of your choice according to package directions  (mine requires an egg and 1/3 c of milk)

Place meat mixture in a baking dish.

Pour cornbread mix over the meat mixture.

Bake at 350 until the cornbread is golden. ( that was about 20-25 minutes for me)

Take out of the oven, break up the cornbread and stir it together with the ground beef mixture.

Sprinkle over the casserole:

  • shredded cheese of your choice (I used taco blend)

Place the casserole back into the oven to melt the cheese.

I served it with my typical sides of fresh fruit and carrot sticks for a meal that made everyone happy.

Enjoy!