Wednesday, November 9, 2011

best chili ever

or at least I think so.

It might not win any awards at a chili cook-off but it's oh so yummy and can be prepared ahead of time in the crock-pot or whipped up quickly at the end of the day.

1 small bag frozen corn (or 1 large can)
1 can of black beans
1 can of BUSH'S brand mild chili beans (optional)
1 large can of diced tomatoes or two cans regular size
2 cans of HORMEL brand chili with beans (the only brand I buy)

I mention the brands only because those are the brands I prefer. I've tried other brands but always come back to these ones.

Simmer these in a big pot or crock pot and serve whenever you want it! It's so good.

easy potato soup

I love making soups this time of year...  but I'm not a huge fan of all of the prep work that sometimes goes into them. I have a big bag of potatoes sitting in my pantry that I bought when they went on sale at the turn of the season but I haven't touched them.

Tonight I promised the hubs I'd make potato soup but between the homework and the baby and the fighting siblings I ran out of time to prepare enough potatoes for soup so...

a bag of diced potatoes for hash browns went into the pot instead along with
a box of chicken broth (I never buy it canned anymore)
a cup of milk with about a 1/4 cup of flour whisked together

once the broth and potatoes started to bubble I added the milk and then a little more as it thickened needed.

then I added about 8 ounces of white Velveeta cheese. (They just started selling it again where I live!)

Start to finish was less than 20 minutes, I served it with chicken fingers for a really satisfying dinner.

This soup definitely errs on the side of bland. It's wonderfully creamy and comforting but if you want to add some kick you could try adding some sharp white cheddar cheese, white queso dip or jalapeno velveeta. You could also try adding some minced onions  or sausage to the potatoes at the beginning. For a meatless meal smash a can of white kidney beans and add it to the soup.

Monday, October 10, 2011

I must be a glutton for punishment

Emma - folding laundry
Emma - 2004

I love the phrase "glutton for punishment" 90% of the time that I want to use it I can't remember it...

... anyway, the kids are home from school today and I must be a glutton for punishment because I asked the kids to help me fold all the laundry - since there were home. I've been asking them to help me fold laundry for years. Wow, I feel kinda' old writing that. Anyway - I learned something important today. That every chore goes so much better if I participate with them. Yes, every once in a while they are able to complete a chore without me but usually not without a lot of discipline and fighting. 

I was trying to get the kitchen cleaned while they were folding it, but I was seriously loosing it, y'all. The drying my hands every two minutes to come settle the latest fight or complaint, the reminding to not be so easily offended. I was pretty much right on the edge of setting a not-so-great example for my kids on how to be patient. I really hate feeling that way.

So I put on some calm music and sat down with them. I folded, the youngest kids helped put the folded laundry into their appropriate piles. And they didn't fight again. I've noticed that the same works for cleaning up rooms. 
Emma today

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Baby Eli at dusk

Last night the hubs went out to the store to buy a board game to play with the kids this weekend... leaving me with my beautiful baby and the gorgeous fading light...

Friday, October 7, 2011

When mama ain't happy...

really and truly it's hard for everyone else to function when I'm in a super-funk.

I was thinking today about how there are a few things that help make a bad day better...


Sometimes it's Colbie Callait, Jason Mraz or Sara Barallies, sometime it's my worship CDs.  In the car or in the morning when I'm desperate for some improved attitudes and cooperation Raffi does the trick every time. Sometimes I love him - sometimes I want to throw our CD out the car window. But then Josiah says "what instrument is that?" and I melt. Or the girls in the back seat all sing along and stop fighting. 


It's simple - but effective. When the kids are being grumpy - or I am feeling down - simply smiling can change the mood in the whole room. laughter is even better. When I stop and laugh with my kids we all feel better.


I think this is one of the reasons why I love having a baby as much as I do - the snuggle and cuddle all day long. The older my kids get the more I have to be intentional about touching them. Hugging, cuddling, tickling, wrestling, holding hands in the car. They need their mama's touch and I find that I have a more positive attitude towards parenting when I've cuddled with my kiddos. 

these photos are from October 2010

Thursday, October 6, 2011

When the kids won't sleep...

Katie-Abigail June 06
a photo from back in 2006

I've been wanting to write here more... I have so much to say about being a mom but am so insanely busy with my other blogs and projects that it's hard to take time to stoop and just write it out... you know all those thoughts scurrying around my mind, snippets and snapshots and pieces of perspective that I want to share here. But I want it to be brilliant, pround and longer than just one or two sentences. But this is where I am in my life right now and so I'm going to embrace simplicity and micro-blog in this space.

 I'm writing this on my iPad, sitting on the floor next to my son's bed. He is fighting sleep tonight, more than the usual fight. His sister on the bunk above him finally gave up and is being quiet - at 9:30. Needless to say getting ready for school tomorrow may be extra-challenging.

Sometimes in situations like this, when my kids won't sleep, when I have a lot of work to do once they finally go to sleep, when I know that every minute they spend fighting sleep is another bit of grumpiness for the morning - I start to spin out of control. I start to raise my voice, I sense those frantic feelings start to well up inside of me.

I have to self-soothe before I can even start to help them calm down. I notice the calmer I am the calmer they are- especially at bed time. So the quickest way to get them to stop fighting me is to stop fighting this moment and just sit and be still with them.

I sing my latest favorite song, or a classic sleepy-time song. My latest thing is that I've started counting to 100. It calms me down, it calms my little man down and he sleeps.

What do you do when your kids won't go to sleep?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The secret of happiness

If you follow my other blog you may have read some of my thoughts about the book I've been reading called "one thousand gifts" by Ann Voskamp it's a very good read hands down the best I've read this year. In that book she writes about gratitude and I can honestly say that it has changed my life... or at least it's begining to.

So here you go - the secret of happiness is contentment.

I know, I know, that's like saying "the secret to being skinny is loosing weight" both are difficult to attain. Contentment is difficult even to thoroughly wrap your mind around, but don't worry that's not all.

The secret of contentmentnis gratitude.

Ahhh, there. That is better. Gratitude I understand. Gratitude I can wrap my mind around.

Gratitude. Hmmmm well, okay I can be grateful but how do I exercise gratefulness so that it produces happiness?

Constant thankfulness.

It goes like this:
I am thankful that I have this house to live in. 
I remember the people all around the world who don't have a place to live 
I remember that those people are often as nearby as downtown.
I am thankful for this moment of peace, to just sit and read and write and think.
I am thankful for this job, and I remember all of the people in the unemployment line who have been laid off and can't find work.

And it moves on to...
I am thankful for these dishes to wash and for the food that I was able to feed my family today.
I am thankful for this diaper that I have to change and that I am healthy enough to care for my baby.
I am thankful for this moment of helping my child learn good behavior. 
I am thankful that of all of the women in the world who are desperate to have a child I have this one 
and of all the children desperately needing a mother this child has me.
I am thankful for this argument with my husband - that we care enough about each other to talk to each other instead of giving up and giving in to silence...

but it is also...

I am thankful for:
baby smiles
blue skies and sunshine
sleeping in
a message from a friend
weeding plant beds...

That is my secret of happiness.

I have learned what it means to be content. 

I have learned that I can be happy even when life is just...


and not the best day ever.