Monday, September 30, 2013

Hodge Podge

Life's been crazy so blogging has gone to the wayside.  (Again)

Our upstairs bathroom didn't start because Chad's daughter fell jumping to the monkey bars and literally shattered her elbow into a million pieces.  She had emergency surgery on a Saturday, and if they don't like the way the follow up xrays look, she could possibly have surgery multiple times to correct.  Poor thing.  The good news is, it was her left arm and she is right handed.  Have to find something to be thankful for in a crap situation.

My whole family is obsessed with the following youtube videos.  I am always late to the game for this stuff, so probably you all know about these two already.  But they are both equally stuck in my head and I am not even annoyed.

A riff on Lady Gaga's poker face, only kid acceptable.

My kids laugh the hardest when he shakes his butt.

We butchered a Guinea Hen this weekend and are trying it tonight.  I am very excited to see what it tastes like.  It's usually what the serve for pheasant in fancy schmancy places.  Here's what they look like if you have no idea what I am talking about.  Most people know them as the birds in the beginning of the movie The Lion King.

And I am on a classics kick again, and read the following books, plus watched the free movies (if you belong to amazon prime click the links to view)  Love, love, love how the British do television.  Of course, it was all Jane Austen, so perhaps what I should really be saying is love, love, love Jane Austen.

2.  Emma
3. Northanger Abbey, sadly, no free version movie to watch.

That's what's happening here.  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Poop To The School Fundraiser

I know, it makes me sound so non-supportive of our district.  But I kind of am.  I hate the yearly fall fundraiser with a passion.  Especially because the people in charge decided to change our district from 5 days down to 4.  We don't go to school on Mondays, but are legally required to attend the same amount of school as 5 day weekers, so our kids start early and end late.  All to save $175,000 per year, which sounds like a lot, but is pretty much not anything when you are several million dollars in the red.

Anyway, my point is that this ridiculous fundraiser where they sell cheap, expensive crap irritates me.  But Owen is totally devastated that we aren't doing it because "we can win stuff, Mom".  Which I will also take the time to say is cheap crap that they win.  It's a vicious circle.

Florida school fundraising humor

Typically what I have done in the past is order a couple of magazines and called it good.  But I pretty much get any magazine that I am interested in.  Poor Owen, he is going to have to be heartbroken because I am the mean mom that doesn't do it.  Although, I do have a friend who doesn't do it either, but mostly because on pickup day, it's totally chaotic and not handled well and she doesn't like dealing with that part of it.

Instead, we are going to let him take his aggression out on the walls in the upstairs bathroom which is being redone.  Nothing makes you feel better like punching a hole in the wall and your parents think it's okay!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Demo Today!

Our bathroom upstairs is getting busted today- hallelujah!  But we thought we had an extra week to get ready for it, and just yesterday learned that we had to clear it all out and get ready.  Ensue panic.

Apparently, unknown to me, I am a bathroom products hoarder.  

You see, I have this massive bathroom cabinet because it was originally plumbed to have a stackable washer and dryer in it, but we didn't like that, so instead it became the graveyard of miscellaneous bathroom/medicine cabinet/who knows what.  For years.  

There is some stuff in there that I haven't seen in who know's how long.  I did find a package of Tucks hemmorhoid (I cannot figure out how to spell that!) pads up there, which I am assuming are from Truitt's birth, and he is now two, although, there is a decent chance they are from Owen's birth considering how far back they were and he's 6, so yeah, I might have a problem.  

The worst part is, is that I am having problems letting some of it go.  You know that whole, "I spent money and can't just throw it away" thing.  Some of it I am giving to friends, like all the Pantene Expert shampoo and conditioner I bought on 90% Christmas clearance only because it had Olay wrinkle cream as a bonus.  And then this summer when my kids had allergies and all that jazz and I couldn't find the medicine so I went out and bought two new bottles, well, they are still unopened, but I did find 3 other partially used bottles back in the eternal abyss.  

I really wish I would have taken a picture for all to see what it looked like both in the cabinet and then spread out all over my table as I try to sort through it.  I am so, so tempted to just pitch everything and start anew.  I won't, but man does it seem appealing rather than wade through all of the bags of stuff.

Wish me luck, I will probably spend the majority of the day still dealing with it all.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Do My Kids Love Me?

Do you ever stop and wonder if your kids really love you?  Maybe it's because you lost it and yelled at them, or maybe you are dealing with a tween who is sassy and you feel like you spend all your time together in a negative way, and you wonder if the fact that you love them comes through everything else.

Last week Owen came home and was so excited to show me what he drew in class that day.  They got to draw whatever they wanted, and here is what he did.

He drew me and him and lots of hearts and pink, and up in the left corner he wrote I love you Mom in his cute first grade spelling.  I have to say this brought tears to my eyes.  This one is a keeper for sure.  I think I've probably looked at it at least 10 times in the last few days.  

Have to say I love that little boy of mine!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mom's Toy Box

I came across this fantastic idea yesterday.  Mom's Toy Box.  

For reals, why do I never think of this stuff on my own?

The Mom from 4 Men 1 Lady came up with this after trolling Pinterest. Basically, she tells you once to pick up your toy, and if you don't it quietly ends up in Mom's Toy Box.  After which if you want it back you have to do a chore to get it back.  Totally loving it.

My only concern is that with my 5 midgets, the box may need to be slightly bigger than the one above. Maybe Mom's Toy Room??  This combined with getting rid of lots and lots of excess should hopefully help. 

And I am totally putting "clean toilets" in as one of the chores to get back your toy.  I'm just that kind of mom!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I totally sound like Rachael Ray in my head when I say that.  We had a freezer meal from my food co-op in the basement for awhile.  It was called Portabella and Spinach Quesadillas.  I hadn't made it because I was pretty sure my kids were going to think it was gross, but Sunday night I was desperate for something fast and I figured if they didn't like it I could just make popcorn.

They LOVED it.  All of them.  They ate it right up and Chris was so bummed because he was saving it for just the two of us and we all had to ration it out and eat popcorn to fill up the tummies.

Here are a couple of pictures to hopefully entice you.  (I am not a food blogger by any means, and I have zero photography skills, so really, this is the best I could do!)

shadow from my massive paw covering the flash

See the top the tater?  Very  important.

Here's the details:

Portabella and Spinach Quesadillas

1- 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach
6- 10 inch flour tortillas
2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
2 T. butter
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
6 oz. Portabella mushrooms, chopped
sour cream and guacamole for topping.  * but if you are like me you will replace sour cream with top the tater, the chives make it that much better!

thaw spinach, drain and squeeze out extra moisture, mix with mushrooms.  Spread soft butter on two tortillas, place one on hot frying pan butter side down, sprinkle with cheese, add 1/3 mushroom-spinach mixture, sprinkle with more cheese, add salt and pepper, top with other tortilla butter side up.  Flip once when browned.  Serve with guac and top the tater.  Makes 3 tortillas.

Seriously, my kids ate this up.  And just about everyone has a package or two of frozen spinach hanging around that they don't know what to do with.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The New Bathroom

It's here!  Technically, we can't use it yet because we are sealing the grout.  So we let everyone pee in it once or twice, and now we will all have to stay out for up to 3 days while the sealer dries.  And we don't have trim up yet or the heater plate in, but still it's here.  I have to admit the first day it was all decorated I must have gone down to look at it 6 or 7 times.

Small bathrooms in spaces without windows are hard to take pictures of, so you'll have to just trust me when I say it looks waaaayyy better in person.

Here we go!



Looking in from the door

Another shot from the door

Trying to give all the views

Left side of the room

Close up of London map above toilet

Towel rack and faux butterfly taxidermy

Close up of faux taxidermy made with a shadow box and a calendar.

cute boy in the bathroom

So there you have it.  I must say that I am more than thrilled to finally have more than one bathroom for 7 people.  This is a total game changer for our family!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Now What?

So after something like 7, what then?  I'm not 100% sure.  I will continue to focus on our excess in our lives and seriously pairing down things from there.

For example, Ava was being sassy and rude this morning and ripped her expandable folder apart.  Normally I would have just went out and bought another one, but this time around, she is going to have to fix it somehow and use it.  I don't care if she uses duck tape and is the most embarrassed fifth grader ever.  It's a good lesson in respecting what you have.  That folder should have lasted her all year seeing as it is made out of plastic, but instead in her anger she busted it and now there are consequences.

Something like this on all her stuff should work:

I've been trying to teach my daughter not to leave her things out, I found her bunny on my kitchen counter and she was at a sleepover, so this is the picture I texted her.  Sometimes you have to get clever when teaching kids a lesson :)

Owen can't read yet, but I am sure I can come up with some type of visual!

Anyway, I would encourage you to check out the book 7- An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  I really think it will change something for you.

PS- my basement bathroom is finished today!  Finally!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

7 Articles of Clothing for All of September

Besides food, another area in 7 is clothes.  I am not even going to admit how much of a problem this is for me.  The classic "I have 150 (probably a lot more than that) articles of clothes but can't figure out what to wear"

Pictures - Palm Jumeirah K20 - The shoe closet or \"dresser\" was designed to look like a high-end boutique - Architizer
This is the kind of picture that would make a lot of women swoon.  But even before reading 7, a picture like this makes me cringe.  I don't care if you have all the money in the world, this is ridiculous.  A woman could never wear all of these shoes.  And tell me, what exactly is the point of having 20 different shoes in various shades of beige?

According to this study by North Dakota State University, (my alma matter) on farming families, the average farming family in 2011 spent $2,221 on clothes, or about 3.6% of their income, which is consistent with averages across the nation regardless of occupation.  Although, I would suspect that for a lot of professional women, that average is higher.  I am obsessed with the blog Capitol Hill Style, and she has stated on her blog before that she spends about 7-8% of her budget on clothes.

Think about it.  The average North Dakota farming family spends $2000 dollars on clothes alone.  The average income of a person in Congo according to this report is $231.  Yet we spend thousands of dollars on clothes we probably never utilize like we should.

Let's not even go into high fashion where you are spending $300 for a sweater and $1000 for a pair of shoes.  That $2000 for many people jumps into double digit thousand spending.

I decided for September that along with 7 items of food that I am wearing only 7 articles of clothing, not 7 outfits, but 7 articles, not including underwear and pajamas.  My 7 are:  3 t-shirts, 1 skirt, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of shorts and a light weight jacket.  I've allowed myself two pairs of shoes, one flip-flop and one tennis shoes.

It certainly makes getting dressed a lot easier when you don't have much to pick from, and it has been easier then I thought it would be to survive on these few. To be fair, as a stay at home mom, I lead a very casual life.  No business attire or meetings to go to. The biggest issue is trying to get them clean, but let's face it, with that few options, I often wear a shirt twice before I can wash it.  Kind of gross, but not the end of the world and I just use a lot more deodorant and perfume the second time around.

I have given away literally bags of clothes that were extras, hello 4 black cardigans, or clothes that I haven't fit into for 5 years but still held onto "just in case".  What a waste. What if I wore only the clothes I owned for the next year, and donated the money I would have spent on clothes to feed families somewhere else in the world?

Spacious, stylish closet designed by Clos-ette and Clos-ette Too founder, Melanie Fascitelli #luxury #closet #organize #celebritycloset #designer
Who truly has the time to even wear all of these clothes?

What if I recognized that I don't need a cardigan in every color, even if it would be fun?  Or that I don't need 5 different jean skirts in 5 different washes, when I really only wear the dark wash because it makes me look the skinniest?

What would happen if I packed up even just my excess and brought it to a battered women's shelter and blessed someone's life?

What would happen if I really looked at how I was literally wasting money on things and decided to do something about it??

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What Americans Eat VS. The World In Pictures

In the book 7, Jen Hatmaker focuses on seven areas of her life that she lives in excess.  And food was a big one.  I have done it a million times, gone into the fridge and complained because there was "nothing there".  Or not eaten produce in time and had to throw it out.  Consumers in America and Europe throw away on average per person 209-253 pounds of food per year.  For one single person.  Click this link to see several other horrifying food waste facts.

Below is a visual of what different countries eat in a week. All Images are from the book Hungry Planet  I'll start with a typical American family.

Food Nutrition Eating Health Diet <span style='font-weight: bold'></span>
North Carolina, United States

Now lets look at a few others.

The most heartbreaking for me is the following family of 6 in Chad.  Pictured below is what all of them eat in a week.  Now peek back up again to the American family.
Food Nutrition Eating Health Diet <span style='font-weight: bold'></span>
Chad, Africa

Here's a family in China.  I would assume that they are considered well-ish off considering it appears that they live in the city and not out in the countryside, although I can't be certain.  Even they consume much less food than the American family of 4
Food Nutrition Eating Health Diet <span style='font-weight: bold'></span>

The next family is a family of 11.  It is almost all fresh food, and eat feeds an alarming amount of people.
Food Nutrition Eating Health Diet <span style='font-weight: bold'></span>

Food Nutrition Eating Health Diet <span style='font-weight: bold'></span>

Food Nutrition Eating Health Diet <span style='font-weight: bold'></span>

Food Nutrition Eating Health Diet <span style='font-weight: bold'></span>

Can you even believe the difference in most of these to what a typical American family eats?  It was shocking for me at first to view the images.  And yet an American family of 4 throws away almost 1000 pounds of food a year.

Jen Hatmaker decided to eat only 7 foods for an entire month, and spend the time focusing on being thankful for what she has even she's sick of it and researching different countries and food.  I have been doing this for the month of September.  And it is much harder than you think it would be.  The first days are okay because I like all the foods I picked, but then stuff happens and you need to eat something fast, only you can't a whole bunch because most of your food requires cooking.

My 7 foods are modeled closely after what Jen used in 7.  They are: chicken, avocado, sweet potatoes, eggs, carrots, apples, and brussell sprouts.

I think it is going to be a tough next three weeks, as I am already sick of almost everything in my list.  Imagine being someone who eats only very few things because that is all they have or can afford.

Certainly changes some perspectives, doesn't it?

Monday, September 9, 2013


So the book 7- An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker, has really been messing with me. More on that later this week.  Today I want to focus on how ungrateful I am, my kids are, pretty much every person in a first world society, is with the things they own.  (This is also springing up in part from 7)

Lately, for the past few months, I have been noticing how much stuff we have and how much my kids don't care about the nice things they have.  Even the littles let their stuff lay all over the floor and they don't take any steps to care for it.  Beautiful dolls- on the floor, blocks- oops the dog chewed them, books- bent corners because they throw them on the floor, on and on and on.

Remember in the Laura Ingalls Wilder series how Ma had that little china doll that was basically her only beautiful thing?  She packed it carefully every time they moved and the kids were never allowed to touch it. Well, guess what.  There is pretty much nothing that I am that careful with in my life.  Nothing.

So that begets the question, what happened?  When did I come to the conclusion that it doesn't really matter because I can always buy another one?  Or equally disturbing, that one doesn't matter because I have more than one.

We are such a buying culture, that I have to admit I am ashamed of how I have foolishly spent money on stuff, and when I wasn't careful or something happened, I was fortunate enough to just go out and buy it again.

And the biggest question, how do I change it both in myself, and most importantly, in my kids??
How very, very true.

It is up to Chris and I to change our nonchalant ways about buying items that are unnecessary, and teaching our  kids to be grateful for every.single.thing they have.  

This has been on my mind a lot, especially since I have read 7 and have been focusing on what basically 99% of the rest of the world doesn't have.  We're talking people who maybe have one change of clothes, maybe one toy, maybe are eating one meal a day.  And I took my kids to McDonalds because I was too lazy to make lunch.  And Kembia has 4 baby dolls and guess how many she plays with?  None.  

Ugh, it is all starting to make me feel sick about it.  I know, I can't change the past, but I find myself being frustrated with my fellow Americans and our desire for more, more, more.  I am not saying that having things, or even buying things is wrong, but it is wrong when we do it unnecessarily and from a position of gluttony.  And I would even go so far as to say it is wrong if we do it but then are not helping people in need as we continue to amass things for ourselves.  I think Jesus would look at how a typical American, myself included, lives, and shake his head in sadness for how we are totally missing the point.  

We have a big uphill battle in front of us.  

Friday, September 6, 2013

Fall Dessert Inspiration

We eat a lot of pumpkin and squash in the fall and into winter.  A lot.  Everyone, including the babies, loves it in a big way.  (sorry about the weird spacing, don't know what happened there.)  Mostly we just bake it for 40 minutes or so and eat it with butter and brown sugar.  But I found this recipe from a blog called The Novice Chef.  And I am so very excited to try this out.  Now if only the weather would cool down....

Yes, please.

Pumpkin Dream Cake with Cinnamon Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 3 layer cake


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
12 oz (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
6 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 300°F. Grease 3, 8-inch round cake pans. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl/stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla, pumpkin and vegetable oil. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk.
Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove pans from oven and immediately place in freezer for 45 minutes. (This keeps the cake moist by immediately stopping the baking so the cake does not continue to bake when you remove it form the oven.)
For the frosting: In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Add confectioners' sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high until frosting is smooth.
Assemble the 3 layers with a thick layer of frosting in between each layer. Then apply a thin crumb coat on the top and sides. Pop back in the freezer to harden the crumb coat for about 10 minutes.
Apply one final thick and even layer around the outside of the cake. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Season 4 Downton Abbey Trailer

It is so unfair that the Brits get it way before we do.  Take a peek, and then scroll to the bottom to find a link to a post to legally watch it when the Brits do!  Don't you love the internet for times like these??!!

The link comes from Rage Against the Minivan.  It was written from when Season 3 came out last year, but hopefully should be the same this time around.  I am totally going to try this because I don't think I can handle waiting until January.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

And They're Off

So it was the first day of school for my kidlets.  The morning went well, probably because I made both kids pick out their outfits yesterday and lay them out upstairs so they couldn't change their mind (Ava).

Ava's bus was way late so we got this picture of her on her first day of 5th grade.

Owen's bus was early, what the heck, and so instead of getting a cute shot of him by the bus stop like Ava, I got this from the front porch after he ran to the bus stop.

Blurry picture and Owen is behind the tree.  

Nothing like good recording of major milestones.  Oh, well.  He probably won't care about his picture in 20 years on the first day of school of first grade.

And now, it's just me and the babies.  All day.