Monday, December 23, 2013

Revising some recipes

As I've become more confident in my cooking and baking abilities, I've started to adapt recipes that I find -- mostly on Pinterest -- to better fit my family's taste buds and what I already have on-hand. Both of these were BIG winners, so I thought I'd share them.

The first is a dinner that my husband loves and is super simple. The original recipe is called Garlic-Lemon Double Stuffed Chicken. I generally don't have lemon products on hand so that was hurdle number one. I also generally don't have cream cheese, but I happened to have a tub of Philadelphia savory garlic cooking cream so this happened...



I apologize that it doesn't look great, but I'm not a photographer. How it tastes, on the other hand, is AMAZING. The chicken is crazy moist and it's loaded with garlic goodness!

Garlic and Cheese Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients

  • oil, for greasing pan
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 Tablespoons Philadelphia savory garlic cooking creme
  • 4 Cheddar cheese slices
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a shallow baking dish with oil.
  2. Slice each breast in half horizontally, careful to not cut all the way through.
  3. Place one T of cooking cream and 1 slice of cheese, folded in half in the center of each breast. Close each breast and set aside.
  4. Pour milk into a shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, combine bread crubs and Romano cheese.
  5. Dip each breast in milk and then bread crumb mixture, then place in baking dish.
  6. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, garlic salt and paprika. Drizzle over chicken.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes of until no longer pink.

If you want a print-friendly recipe, click here.

The second recipe I took on is a dessert, another that I found on Pinterest called Better Than Sex Chex Mix. Unfortunately, I couldn't find two of the main ingredients at my grocery store, so I did some substituting and voila!


Another husband-approved dessert. The USMA Cadets we sponsor loved it and called it addicting. You've been warned!

Candy Crunch Chex Mix

Ingredients 

  • 8 cups (approximately one box) Vanilla Chex cereal
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, mini size (not miniature -- mini don't have wrappers)
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup caramel bits
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate baking chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate baking chips

Directions

  1. Place cereal into a large microwavable bowl and set aside.
  2. Line cookie sheet with foil.
  3. In a separate microwavable bowl, place brown sugar, butter and corn syrup and heat on high 1 to 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute, until melted and smooth. Stir in baking soda until dissolved and pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.
  4. Microwave cereal on high for 3 minutes, stirring every minute. Spread on cookie sheet and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Break cereal mixture into bite-sized pieces. DO NOT CONTINUE TO NEXT STEP UNLESS COMPLETELY COOL.
  6. Sprinkle mini peanut butter cups and marshmallows over Chex mixture.
  7. In a small microwavable bowl, microwave caramel bits and cream 1 Tablespoon cream uncovered on high for 1 minutes or until chips can be stirred smooth. Using a spoon or fork, drizzle over mixture.
  8. Microwave milk chocolate chips, in 20-second intervals, removing to stir, until completely smooth. Drizzle over mixture.
  9. Microwave white chocolate chips and 1 Tablespoon cream in 20-second intervals, removing to stir, until completely smooth. Drizzle over mixture.
  10. Refrigerate until set. Break apart and store in tightly covered container.


Get the print-friendly recipe here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Baby Shower game

I helped with my sister-in-law's baby shower this weekend. After culling Pinterest and other sites for idea, I settled on a matching game of sorts. Since she is having a girl, we did match the daughter to her celebrity parents. Here it is in case anyone is looking for a game to use:


Follow this link to download it from Google docs:
Celebrity baby game

ANSWER KEY:
Arthur Ashe - 3 Camera
Beyonce - 2 Blue Ivy
Brad Pitt - 9 Shiloh Nouvel
Bruce Willis - 10 Tallulah Belle
Cher - 4 Chastity
David Beckham - 7 Harper Seven
Frank Zappa - 5 Diva Muffin
Gwyneth Paltrow - 1 Apple
Kim Kardashian - 8 North
Kurt Cobain - 6 Frances Bean

Friday, November 8, 2013

So which is it?

My 5-yr old daughter brought her school photo home today. She looks beautiful of course, but I'm biased. I posted it on Facebook for our friends and family to see. They too said she's beautiful and I got a few of the "she's your mini-me" comments which lead me to a realization.

If everyone says she's my mini-me and I think that she's beautiful, why don't I see myself that way? Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm ugly, but I also don't find myself beautiful. Cute? Sure. Occasionally, I take a photo where I even think I look pretty. But beautiful? Hot? Nope.

(Side note: My husband will tell you people post things like this on Facebook or wherever in order to get their friends to tell them they are pretty and boost their ego, but that isn't my intention.)

On the flip side, I have a friend who is beautiful and knows it. She gets torn to shreds by other people, women mostly, for being beautiful and openly admitting that she knows it. Most of the time they do it behind her back or worse, in my opinion, while hiding behind a computer screen.

We are told to have self-confidence but are sold a million and one ways to improve ourselves -- diet pills, make-up, hair straighteners, plastic surgery. And when we find confidence in our looks we're seen as vain, conceited, having a "better than you" attitude.

So which is it that is acceptable? To know that you are beautiful and be proud of it or to be beautiful and not realize it?

It seems like neither which makes it that much more puzzling to me.

How do I raise a girl in this world who is confident in her looks, in her smarts, and in her abilities in a world that makes a profit playing on our insecurities and allowing total strangers to rip us apart because when we have confidence?

For now I suppose I have to work on my own confidence for her because that is how they learn the most -- by example. I'm going to try Sammy. I'm going to try.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The good fight

Just like any parent, I struggle dealing with my kids at times. My 5-yr old daughter is very headstrong (I can't imagine where she gets it from) and my 2-1/2 yr old is still relatively non-verbal, making communicating a challenge.

A little over a week ago, my daughter had a MASSIVE meltdown on the way to school because I corrected her in front of her friends which meant she then had to walk with me instead of her friends -- the horror!! Just a few minutes after the moms and littles got back home after drop off, a neighbor rang my doorbell and handed over this book:
I have to admit, I groaned a little inside. I've read countless articles about changing my child's behavior and never saw any real results. It sat on my nightstand for about a week before I cracked it open. Nothing in particular triggered it, other than maybe my guilt that I still had the book in my possession. Might as well take a look before I return it. You never know, right?

Wow. I mean WOW. Although this book started off like a lot of other parenting advice (give your child choices, pay more attention, etc.) it had a firmer approach than most others nowadays. Say no and walk away. Say what??? I can say no. That's not the issue. But walk away as my 5-yr old continues to ask me "why can't I have a friend over?" and not answer her? Unheard of. She and I are master debaters with each other -- making our cases until one of us compromises, or on rare occasion, caves. The same advice is given for having your kids do things. Tell them once and walk away. If they don't do it and they're late for school, oh well. Didn't eat and now dinner is over? Oh well. You mean no more having an entire meal consist of "eat your dinner?" Again, unheard of, especially in our house.

Little by little, I've been employing the tactics in the book and I am actually seeing results. There's certainly a lot less yelling on my part and my kids are figuring out that they don't need me for every single thing. Example -- as I type this, my son says "Mom, elly." (He wants his toy elephant.) I told him "you get it" and went back to typing. A few "No, you mom" whines later, he gave up, got up, and got the toy. Success!!

So, thanks neighbor. You know who you are!




Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What to be or not to be

In a little less than two years, my husband will retire from his Army career. It's been a roller coaster ride of a time full of ups and downs but I don't regret saying yes to bring an Army wife for one minute. We have been fortunate enough for me to be a stay-at-home mom to our two kids but, of course, that meant leaving my career in the dust (not like it was a "portable one" to begin with). 

With no true idea of where we will wind up, planning for my next career has my head spinning more than the Tilt-a-whirl at the boardwalk. My background is in marketing -- advertising, copywriting, proof reading. I've looked at jobs in my field online and it makes me nervous. Can I still do all those tasks in he job description? Is it like riding a bike? Will it all come back to me?

I've thought maybe jumping all in isn't the right strategy. So, I've looked for proof reading positions I can do from home with no luck. I've considered changing fields altogether. Am I willing to go back to (and pay for) school? What would be something I can do no matter where we wind up? There's almost too many options but I think I've narrowed it down to five:

- proof reading
- ultrasound tech
- real estate agent
- yoga instructor
- event planner

I just don't know and the panic is setting in. For real estate and ultrasounds, I would need to know where we are going to live because of state licensing. Proof readers aren't needed everywhere.  Event planning is a night and weekend job and I'm not sure how in demand yoga instructors are. 

Did I mention my head is swimming????

*sigh*

Friday, June 21, 2013

It's happening...

With 146 days to go until the big 4-0 (not that anyone is counting), my body has decided to give up little by little.

First to go, back in my late 20's/early 30's was my hair. The grays started popping up in my dark hair, shining like a beacon. In the beginning, I was able to pluck them out. But then they started to spread and multiply so the at-home coloring began. With two kids and at a constant state of lack of sleep, the coloring became more and more challenging so I bit the bullet and went to the salon. It's a little pricey, but it gives me a break and keeps the color from staining my towels and bathroom floor. Worth it.

Next was the body. I'm sure the two kids had something to do with this but I certainly haven't helped it either. You see, I was one of the lucky ones. Naturally thin. Could eat a reasonable amount of food without it immediately going to my stomach, thighs, or wherever else. But not anymore. My stomach is in a constant state of jello-like consistency (see it jiggle... watch it wiggle...). For months, I further slept-deprived myself by getting up at 6am to do an at-home workout DVD and saw little results for my stomach so I gave up. I'm not proud of that, but it's true. I'm not sure what to even do about it anymore.

A couple of days ago, I decided to enter a contest for one of my favorite shows, Project Runway. You had to submit a video telling them why you deserve a makeover. As I reviewed my iPhone video, I saw them. Wrinkles!! Creases at the corners of my eyes, lines across my forehead deepening, and laugh lines that the Joker would envy. Again, I have (or should I say had) been genetically blessed to look younger than my age but that seems to be disappearing too.

And then, yesterday, was the last straw. There are spider veins forming near my right knee. Tiny little lines laughing at me, giving another tell tale sign that my youth is behind me. *sigh*

The only good thing coming out of this 40 stuff is that I'm finally going to have a decent picture with Jon Bon Jovi (albeit with a lot more wrinkles) and not this one where I look like a crazy drowned rat and some random girl peeking over his shoulder in the background.





Monday, May 20, 2013

Holy Yum, Batman!

I was never much of a cook when I first met my husband. So while we were stationed in Hawaii, I made a real effort to try more recipes so we weren't eating hot dogs and beans every week. As I've gotten more comfortable with cooking, I've altered a recipe or two. Sometimes it is so-so, but sometimes it's awesome. Tonight was AWESOME!

I present to you...


I thought they were amazing, but when Scott says they are restaurant quality and only second to Hooters, I know they were good!!

Honey Garlic Chicken Wings*

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil and place 8 tablespoons of butter, cut into pieces onto the sheet.
3. Wash and pat try approximate 30 pre-cut thawed chicken wings.
4. Mix together in a gallon ziploc bag:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 T ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 T salt
  • 1/2 T black pepper
5. Put the cookie sheet into the oven for approximately 3 minutes or until butter has melted.
6. Place half of the wings into the ziploc and shake until coated.
7. Remove wings and place them on the cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining wings.
8. Toss wings on cookie sheet so the butter gets on all sides of the wings.
9. Bake for 30 minutes and remove. Mix wings on the sheet again and place back in the oven for an additional 15 minutes.
10. While you're waiting for the last 15 minutes prepare the sauce/glaze in a small saucepan over low heat:
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3-4 cloves minced garlic (instead of this, I used Tastefully Simple's Garlic Garlic)
11. Remove wings from the over and place in a heat-resistant bowl. Immediately pour sauce over the wings and toss until covered.
12. Serve hot and enjoy the compliments!

Follow all my tried and loved recipes on Pinterest.

*Made by combining this recipe from Pinterest and this one from Food.com


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Safe Place, Safe Person

As I've chronicled before, my 4-year old daughter and I can have days when we are like oil and water. Today is one of those days. It began when my husband left for Afghanistan and I could have sworn she would stop when he got home. But, here we are, six months later and the outbursts and insults continue.

Yesterday she had a very public meltdown in the middle of our street, literally. We went out to ride bikes and one of her friends was outside at the same time. After her friend went inside, the downward spiral began. "Mom, can I see if xxx wants to play?" Lucky me got to be the bearer of bad news -- they're doing homework, they're not home, they're playing somewhere else, etc. Then, she spotted some kids down the road and ran over to see what they were doing. She proceeded to run back to me, begging to go play. "Were you invited to play?" I asked (we have this conversation A LOT about not inviting yourself) and I got the usual "No... But they're my friends." It's hard to get a 4-year old to understand that sometimes kids don't want to include everyone. I'm not sure if it was her not being invited or me saying no but I was quickly on the receiving end of a lot of yelling and crying. After several attempts of being very calm and trying to get her to settle down, I told her I was going inside. Her meltdown continued for the neighbors to see, bike helmet still on her head. *sigh*

Today, I was on the receiving end of several comments including "you're so mean," "I wish dad stayed home instead of you," and "I want dad to take me bed every night not you." Psychologists and child 'experts' will tell you that kids are abusive (so to speak) to the person they know isn't going anywhere. Their "safe place."

As nice as it is to know that I'm her rock, I hate the abuse. I already feel like an "okay" mom and the negative comments don't help me feel like I'm winning Mother of the Year anytime soon. All they do is get me upset and angry to the point of silently cursing her in my head or making a strangling motion when her back is turned to me.

Please tell me I'm not the only one!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Little Taste of Hawaii

I've been trying (and unsuccessfully) to replicate the chicken teriyaki plate lunches/dinners we got in Hawaii. But tonight, I managed to get it right!


Teriyaki Chicken
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 teriyaki marinade
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 lb chicken tenderloins






  1. Cut the tenderloins into small chunks. 
  2. Place the chunks into a non-stick pan and begin to cook on medium for 5 minutes
  3. Mix the remixing ingredients, making sure the corn starch is dissolved. 
  4. Add half of the marinade and simmer 2 minutes. 
  5. Add remaining marinade and increase heat to medium-high so marinade begins to boil and thicken.  Stir occasionally, 3-5 minutes. 
  6. Serve over rice. 




Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A crisis of faith

I've been debating posting this for long time now. It's been running in my head for months now, but I guess I've been scared to hear the comments, feel the backlash, and maybe even alienate friends and family.

You see, I was raised Catholic. Roman Catholic to be exact. I received all of my sacraments, went to CCD, and even got married in a Catholic church. I considered myself to be a Catholic the majority of my life. But now, I'm not so sure.

I've been participating in a Bible study with other Catholic women and to be honest, I've felt like an impostor. There are things in my life that directly contradict my religion. For example, I divorced my Catholic ex-husband. We never had marriage annulled. (Heck, I'm pretty sure that means that technically, I'm not part of the Catholic Church anymore.) Based on my personal beliefs, I'd most likely be categorized as a "Cafeteria Catholic." In reading the passages for the study, I keep coming back to the thought that religion in the Bible seems so much simpler than in real life. God put forth Ten Commandments, the golden rule (to treat others as you would want to be treated), and sent his Son to teach us how to be good, God-loving people. But religion gas given us so many other rules to follow.

As I've mentioned before, I'm an avid reader of the blog Momastery. Amidst its silly stories about parenting, heart wrenching tales of people in need, and observations about everyday life there is a central theme -- Love wins.

Momastery has taken on a life of its own. It isn't just words on a screen, but a community of women who loves everyone, as they would themselves. Who donate money via love flash mobs to complete strangers because those strangers are in need and these women have the means to help. Who truly believe that love is all around even when you are so far down, you can't believe it still exists.

In a lot of ways, that is what I want my church to be. A place full of compassion, giving, and God's love no matter who you are.

Both of my kids have been baptized Catholic, despite my husband not being a Catholic himself. They have godparents and go to CCD and maybe in the end, that's how it will stay. Maybe I'll remain a Cafeteria Catholic and watch them partake in the same sacraments I did. I'm not really sure.

I will continue to follow God's Commandments and the Golden Rule, to thank Him every day for the health, happiness, and safety of myself, my husband, my children, and my friends and family. Right now, that's all I know.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Doing Disney with pre-schoolers


We just got back from Spring Break in Orlando with our 4 year-old daughter and 2 year-old son. I did a lot of reading and researching for our trip so I felt prepared. Here are some tips and tricks if you decide to brave the trip with your little ones:

Prepping
There are tons of guidebooks out there but I found Birnbaum's guide to be the most informative and concise. It was well organized and includes maps and itineraries to help you plan.

Luckily for us, our hotel room had a washer and dryer in it so I didn't need to pack an outfit for every day. Depending on what time of the year you are in Orlando, the weather can fluctuate. While we were there we went from short sleeves and shorts to jeans and sweatshirts and back again. Orlando is also famous for rain showers. I purchased ponchos before we went for just a few dollars each and that is all they were worth. Do yourself a favor and buy GOOD ponchos. I wound up getting one at Disney for $8.50.

Comfort items are essential.  Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean you should alter your usual bedtime routine because let's face it -- your kids need their sleep. Mine brought their pillow pets, a favorite stuffed animal and two books that we rotated for bedtime stories. We also packed night lights. Hotel rooms are very very dark.

After reading various blogs, I also brought along ziploc bags in various sizes. I was very happy to have it to protect my iPhone the day it poured!

We chose not to bring our stroller. Both kids are old enough to walk through the airport and I've never been a fan of collapsing the big stroller and trying to squeeze it through the X-ray machine. The strollers at Disney are expensive and are just plastic platforms with a sun shield. Singles are $17/day and doubles are $35. For a little over $100 I was able to rent a double stroller with a rain cover, small cooler, and insurance from Kingdom Strollers. They even dropped it off and picked it up from our hotel. I decided on the double in case my 4-year old got tired. It turned out that she rode it in more than the 2-year old. Go figure.

To help defray some of our in-park costs, I signed up for the Disney Visa card and used it religiously to pay for groceries, gas, and other purchases and then paid it off in full every month.  In about a year and a half I was able to get a gift card pre-loaded with over $500. That made it easier to say yes to $15 face painting and not be upset when the $4 bucket of popcorn was barely eaten.

*****UPDATE 2/10/14 -- Disney now offers Memory Maker instead of the Photo Pass CD to purchase in advance. This includes photos from all the PhotoPass locations, plus dining, character, and attraction photos. You then get digital copies of all the images. If you buy before you go (needs to be at least three days before), you save $50 ($149 vs. $199 at the park). While you are there, be sure to check your images. Most appear online within 24 hours. By checking my account, I was able to see that our pic taken on Main Street didn't have the castle in it so we were able to get it retaken. Photo Pass also allows you to take as many photos as you want -- groups, couples, individuals. My husband and I did an impromptu kiss in front of the castle and it is one of my favorites.





If your kids are into characters like mine, I suggest this idea I found on Pinterest:




I bought the photo mats, stickers (in the scrapbooking section), and a pack of fine tip Sharpies all at the local craft store. This way your can put a photo of your child and their favorite character on display versus having a book full of signatures they probably won't look at again.

Speaking of characters... If your daughter is as Princess prone as mine, I highly recommend a meal at Cinderella's Castle. It was by far the best food we had while we were there. It books up quick so be sure to get your reservation in a year in advance. Yes, you read that right. 

The Parks
Strategy is your best friend in the parks. We were there at an "average" attendance time and wait times exceeded 70 minutes at the more popular attractions.  Fast Pass is a great program but it can have you zig zagging all over the park. (Tip: get Fast Passes for all the people in your party whether they can go on the ride or not. By doing this, we we able to ride Big Thunder Railroad two times on a row with no wait.) Prioritize what you want to do and work your day around that. For us, characters were a big deal so lining up right after the park opened to see Tinkerbell made sense for us.

Disney offers an app (iPhone and Droid) called My Disney Experience that will help you find characters and tell you wait times/Fast Pass issue times. Is was a great tool but loaded VERY slow in Magic Kingdom. (Tip: Disney has in-park wifi so don't kill your battery using 4G!) They also have a whole planning website including customizable maps. I didn't use this service but its available.  I found Kenny the Pirate's blog to be much more useful for locating characters. The site breaks down who is in which park, where they are, what times, and if you can find them at another park as well.

To save money and time, pack snacks and drinks. Disney allows you to bring them in to the parks so take advantage!! I bought take and toss cups to use on the plane, in the hotel, and in the parks. They are especially useful at Animal Kingdom which only has paper straws.

Magic Kingdom has the most to do for the littles as far as rides go. There are tons of character greets so pick and choose your lines wisely. Make sure you FP for the Princess greet at Town Square theater. Mickey is there as well, but there is no line later in the day (4pm-ish) so don't waste a FP on it. We found that we needed to go back to MK in order to see and do everything we wanted.

Animal Kingdom comes in second with it's petting zoo and Safari ride. (Tip: if you want to ditch the kids with your spouse and ride Expedition Everest, there is a single rider line tucked away to the right of the Fast Pass return entrance. The wait time was 15 minutes when we entered the FP line.) AK has few character greets and is the only park where you can meet Pocahontas.

Hollywood Studios was good for shows -- Disney Junior live on stage was a big hit as was Beauty and the Beast on Stage. There are lots of great character meets here as well including Jake, Handy Manny, Phineas and Ferb, and Lightening McQueen and Mater.

Epcot held little interest for the kids other than The Seas with Nemo and friends which we really didn't need to see since we had gone to Sea World a few days before. Epcot is the only place to get Belle's autograph. She does photos at her story time in Fantasyland but the wait was over an hour when we went by. (Tip: the line at Epcot forms quickly as well so get there right before she's "off duty" to line up as one of the first people to see her when she gets back.) We did Epcot after our additional morning at MK and that was enough time there for the kids.

And remember...
There are a lot of people. And lines. Your kids will be missing naps and overwhelmed with it all. Try to be patient and realize that if they act up at home, they'll act up at Disney too, happiest place on earth or not. It is your vacation too so try not to get too stressed about it all and get a few big kid rides in for yourself.

So there you have it. Hope you enjoy your trip!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Forty days

I'm Catholic and it's Lent. Naturally, the guilt has kicked in and I've been thinking of what I can give up for the season. I racked my brain for a few days with little result. Then, I was at a meeting with other Catholic women and we talked about Lent and how it doesn't mean having to give up something, it can be an opportunity to give to others or to improve your life. With that said, I'm going with improving my life by stopping swearing. I told my husband my plan last night and he said "Shouldn't you choose something you KNOW you can do?"

He has a point. I don't think I'm a potty mouth by any means, but when I get angry or upset, they certainly flow with ease. But I've decided to (try and) put and end to it. This will include all the regular curse words and some of the substitute ones (like frickin'). In truth, I'm doing it not just for me, but for my kids.

Side story: My 4-year old has used frickin' twice. Once, when she came in our room to wake us up and said "Ugh... I can't turn this frickin' fan off" and then again when I took her to a kids' haircut place and she said "There's TVs frickin' everywhere." We've since had the talk about how that is not a kid word. 

So, here's to trying! Hopefully I won't end up like this instead:


Monday, January 28, 2013

Eat it or?...

A couple of months ago, I blogged about the ongoing food fight with my daughter. To summarize:


Well, in case you were wondering, she's not really doing either. We set the ground rules -- she had to try a bite of everything on her plate. If not, no dessert. It worked wonders the first night. That was about it.

I won't say she is starving. She eats breakfast and lunch everyday along with a snack at school (thought she knows if she doesn't eat her lunch she won't get a snack either. Yeah, her teacher must think I'm crazy. But anyway...) and another snack after school. Sure, there are nights that she complains that she is hungry but we have held firm to the rules. You should see her excitement when she asks wheat we are having for dinner and I tell her pizza or something else she likes. It's a free ticket on the dessert train!!

Since there has been NO progress with getting her to eat new things, I'm considering revising the rules and going back to short order cook (*sigh*). Give her what she will eat each meal with a little of what we are having and if she eats ALL of dinner and tries a bite she gets dessert. 

I'm not sure what else to do.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A blessing and a curse

I don't know about you, but the holidays were crazy around here. We live in a four-bedroom townhouse style home. It's not large by any means, but it holds us (and all our stuff) pretty well. This being our first Christmas back within driving distance of our family, I knew it was going to be crazy. I had the kids do a pre-Christmas purge (thank you Elf on the Shelf) which emptied the toy room considerably and freed up lots of space in their toy box.

But then Christmas came. Despite my pleas to the three sets of grandparents to keep it under control, the kids got a lot of stuff. And I mean A LOT. We are blessed with a very generous family.

My husband and I didn't ask for anything except money to put toward an iPad. We wound up with a refurbished model from Apple which is turning out to be a blessing and a curse. It is definitely helping me to save my phone battery and is much easier on my 39-year old eyes when browsing websites or playing games. However, it's a curse because it's just one more thing for the kids to fight over. 

Sam has had an iPod for years so she's accustomed to navigating it, knowing how the apps work, etc. She's darn tech savvy for being four. Danny on the other hand wants to play with it but doesn't have the ability to do it well. In the middle of watching Mickey Mouse, he hits the home button and the show ends. Tears ensue. I've tried finding more age friendly apps, but I'm coming up short. 

All technology is really a blessing and a curse though, isn't it? In a world where you can instantly communicate with someone, you also expect them to instantly communicate back. I've found myself staring at my phone thinking What could you possibly be doing? This is important! But really, was it that important? Nobody was dying. I wasn't in a car crash. I just needed to know if we needed more milk so I didn't have to make a second trip.

And then there are the expectations of social media -- sympathy for your crappy day, compliments on a new pair of shoes, for people to agree with your political views, birthday wishes, etc. What it gets us instead is a cyber-fight or at it's best, a new perspective.

(On a side note, somehow I got sucked into Instagram and follow a few celebs. Sometimes I wonder if they feel like their lives are a blessing and a curse. On one side you have the money and the recognition and on the other you have people you don't even know calling you ugly, evil or a myriad of other insults.)

One of my New Year's wishes was to try and be less "connected" -- separate myself from the iPhone more often, stop compulsively checking Facebook, only play my game apps a few times a day -- and try to connect more to those I love in person. It's a work in progress, but at least I'm making progress. Hopefully it will be more of a blessing than a curse.

PS -- Speaking of those we love, I got an unexpected present on Christmas Eve. My very own easy button, courtesy of my dad. I guess he reads this afterall! Love you dad  xoxo