Monday, August 29, 2011

Who Knows What Got Into My Son

by Bannon

Last night I was trying to get the kids showered up and in bed.  Since it was Sunday they were both resisting going through the routine because they didn't want the weekend to come to a close.  I finally get the older one cleaned up and ready and start on the younger.  I told him to get undressed and go hop in the shower and I went back into the kitchen to clean up dinner.  

Dh comes in to say that ds2 did indeed get undressed and for some reason instead of going to the bathroom before his shower like normal he decided to pee in the laundry basket.  He didn't realize he was doing it until it was done and so he was really upset.  My poor little guy.  He told me he was so embarrassed.  I found it to be hysterically funny!

Cleaning Day!

This is Kerry-just a brief note to let you all know that we have decided to drop the initial business and use our names like big girls!  So, starting today, K and B will be known as Kerry and Bannon.  The kids and significant others will still remain anonymous, at least until one of us screws up and starts typing names.  Also, we'll start using our names at the beginning of our posts, because we (very belatedly) realized that not everyone can tell us apart.  How slick are we??  (Answer:  not very.)

I'm also going to go through the old posts and tag them with the author's name, so it'll be clearer for anyone who decides to comb through them.

I haven't forgotten that I need to post some of my recipes to let you make your own cleaning supplies.  I've tweaked and expanded on my stash, so it'll be some new stuff from before.  Bannon will be posting a lot more about her Pantry Challenge, Christmas planning should start in a few more days, and we're looking at doing a couponing tutorial.  We're excited, even if no one else is!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Second Post on Sunday!

I had a realization Friday that my house has a lot of food in it.  I went down to the freezer to put a few things in it and saw that it was bursting at the seams.  It almost didn't shut.  This is the first time in eleven years that I have had no more room for food in there.  The fridge's freezer is the same, completely full of food.  So I've decided I'm going to have a pantry challenge.  

The rules for myself are simple.  The weekly budget for the next five weeks will be $50.  I am trying to be realistic here by giving myself that much.  The price of groceries is increasing rapidly and it's outrageous how much some things cost now.  That $50 will cover fresh fruits, vegetables and other staples like milk and bread.  My goal is that I will reinforce this by reporting here on the blog what I spend, making me accountable to all of you.  (The one thing I'm not including in the weekly total is my Costco membership which will be coming up for renewal the next time I go there.  If I post my receipts then that will show up.)

When it comes to eating out I plan on using the variety of restaurant coupons that I have from the various daily deal sites, and the birthday coupons I've started getting in my email.  I hope to only eat out once a week for dinner and not spend more than $15 for what remains of the bill after the discount.

I'm also going to meal plan weekly.  One of my awesome friends has shared the meal plan sheet she made for herself with me and I'm going to try really hard to stick to planning and following through on my menus.

The goal is to see how far I can go until October 1st with this plan.  Right now it seems so easy but I know as the freezer and my stockpile start getting lower it's going to get harder to do.

Meal Plan Week of 8/28

Sunday - chicken wings, baked potato and green beans

Monday - grilled cheese with tomato soup and green beans

Tuesday - pasta and sauce with fruit and salad

Wednesday - fish sticks, with veg and fruit

Thursday - teriyaki chicken, rice and veg

Friday - leftovers

Saturday - pizza for the kids, birthday dinner out for dh and I

  • B

A Slightly Delirious Post About Cleaning

It's 6am on a Sunday, and I've been wide awake since around 4:30.  Before that, it was LOTS of tossing and turning.  I finally surrendered, and have played about 12 games of mah-jongg, caught myself up on Regretsy and Facebook, and am now considering a bowl of frosted mini-wheats.  This has been going on for a little over a week now.  Unfortunately, I made two crucial errors last night-I drank soda, and forgot my melatonin.  *le sigh*

Since I'm too loopy to remember if I'd posted this before, I've been making and using my own household cleaners.  B. got to try the homemade detergent before I did, but I have homemade fabric softener, glass cleaner, and a multi-purpose surface cleaner, as well as some baking soda for everything else.  I went on a massive cleaning kick yesterday and scrubbed the place down, and it was a great opportunity for me to really compare what I made with what I used to buy.  Guess what?  I couldn't tell a bit of difference, except for the lack of fragrance that's added to most cleaners.  But things were squeaky clean!  When I can focus a bit more, I'll post the actual blends I used.  My only complaint was that the homemade glass cleaner wasn't enough to power through the Little Dude's "artwork".  If there is a crayon and a clean window in the same building, he will find a way to make the two meet.  I should have stopped him, but my inner teacher kept chirping at me that he was exploring his environment, it's easily cleaned, I'll stifle his creativity, blah blah blah.  But my point is, why are we spending tons of money on chemicals, when we can safely make the same things at home for pennies?  Sorry, Mr. Clean, but we're breaking up.  It wasn't me, it was you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Give and Take

So, this past weekend was a doozy!  Saturday morning, the Dude and I were up bright and early to take part in a community clean-up project organized by Wild Goose Creative, and we took part along with some other members of our beloved Hudson Street Hooligans, the best Crew supporter's group out there.  I swept, picked up trash, sprayed for weeds, and painted and painted and painted.  I ended up helping some kids who were there volunteering with their parents-go figure, right?  It was great fun, I was absolutely filthy by the time I got home.  But it's for a good cause-cleaning up an abandoned lot, and making it pretty with some gorgeous artwork!  Check it out at the corner of Summit and Hudson in Columbus.  First pic has the Dude up on some scaffolding, second pic is the handiwork of Tim Lai, and was posted on the Facebook page for the HSH.

Saturday night was a rarity in my world-girl's night out!  We met for dinner and 'ritas at a local Mexican restaurant, then headed off to the Crew game.  I'm not sure everyone had the same level of enjoyment for the game that I did, but we all had a good time being together.

However, all the time outside on Saturday, combined with my forgetting to take my allergy medicine that day, left me feeling like someone stuffed rocks up my nose, then hit me in the face with a cricket bat.  However, because I am a sucker nice aunt, I kept my word to one of my nieces and spent the morning making blueberry muffins with her.  It wasn't nearly as time consuming as I had anticipated it to be, and a good time was had by all.  Here's the goods:

For muffins:
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 c. milk
1 c. blueberries (fresh or frozen work; if frozen, thaw first)

For crumb topping:
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. wheat flour
1/4 c. butter, softened and cubed
1 1/2 t. cinnamon

Heat oven to 400 degrees, either grease or line muffin cups.
Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder for muffins.  In separate bowl, beat egg gently, then add oil and milk to egg.  Mix slightly, then add to dry goods.  Mix together, adding a bit more milk if needed to achieve a good consistency.  Fold in blueberries.  At this point, you can either divide the batter between 12 muffin cups for smaller muffins, or fill 8 cups to the very top to get larger muffins.  For the topping, mix together all ingredients with a fork until a crumbly texture has been achieved.  Sprinkle it over the muffin tops before baking.  Bake for about 20 minutes-watch them towards the end, our batch got close to burning.  These were generally a hit with everyone, except for my junior chef, who learned a valuable lesson in mixing thoroughly.  She got a mouthful of salty muffin.  :-)

I did get some reward for all of my giving-a sympathetic sister who folded my laundry for me (woot!), and a family friend who brought us all some lunch.  I normally feel bad about taking things like that from others, but not this time!  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lovely, Love My Family

Things are settling in nicely here with the nieces being here after school.  The first week was a bit of an adjustment-testing boundaries, convincing the Little Dude that he has to share with even more kids, the usual.  But it's brought a surprising amount of love into our home, which was something I didn't really think would happen.  My nieces are very open in showing each other love, and it spills over to me, the LD, and the other boy I babysit.  They'll pull they boys onto their laps for hugs and kisses, play with them, and generally make a happy mess.  One activity we did today that the older and younger kids all had fun with was finger painting with shaving cream.  Sometimes, we'll use paper and color, but today we just spread it out onto the train table and let everyone get to it.

I knew from previous experience that I'd have to stay on my toes with activities for all the kids, and that's been a challenge for me.  Things that will engage the 2- and 3-year-olds won't do the trick for the 10 year olds.  Fortunately, they have come up with some great ideas.  The older girls are convinced that I'm going to teach them to cook!  So we've been working on some basics, as well as actually giving them some experience with an oven.  They've learned how to use a knife, how to measure, how to sift, and they've gotten a healthy dose of respect for a hot oven.  So, to let them test their skills, the 4 girls all chipped in to make homemade pizzas for a large family dinner.  For the dough, we used a recipe from Once A Month Mom.

2 3/4 c. lukewarm water
1.5 T. granulated active yeast
1.5 T. kosher salt
1 T. sugar
1/4 c. olive oil
6 1/2 c. flour.  I used whole wheat flour for the dough.  Mix the yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil with the water in a large bowl.  I let my littlest niece, who is 3, pour in and stir the ingredients.  Next, mix in the flour without kneading, using a wooden spoon.  Leaving the dough in the bowl, cover with a towel and let it sit for 2 hours.  At this point, you can either use the dough immediately, or you can refrigerate it for 4 hours, then separate into individual portions (we got 3 medium pizzas out of this batch), wrap it with plastic wrap or parchment paper, place into freezer bags, and freeze them.  If you choose to use the dough immediately, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Grease your pan, press out the dough and top with whatever you choose.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust and toppings are golden.  If you want to use frozen dough, thaw it in the fridge, dust it with flour, then roll or press it for your crust.  The older girls prepared all the toppings, including chopping up tomatoes and peppers, as well as putting on the saucy pepperoni, etc.  They all really liked cooking it, and they really liked eating it!  The crust got a thumbs up from everyone involved, and it was really easy to work with.

But, more than the food, or the messy projects, I think the kids (and the parents) are enjoying our increased closeness the most.  The title seems very appropriate, especially since it's from a song by The Roots that appeared in Yo Gabba Gabba, a favorite show of my 3 youngest charges.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fun Freebies and a Big Boy

Before I start to blog, can I vent for a second?  Insight, the providers of our internet/cable/phone service, are MAKING ME CRAZY.  We just have trouble with one item or another on a fairly regular basis.  Thought we had it all fixed, then we realized we were losing our internet again.  Got that back (kind of), now the phone can't be used.  Le sigh.  We were sent three vouchers for free pay-per-view movies for our troubles, so I guess an adult movie marathon is supposed to make up for it.  :-D  I'm not sure where the breakdown is, everyone we speak to seems to be very earnest in their desire to get things fixed, but we have yet to get a long-term solution.  Anyhoo, that's been part of the reason for the lack of blogging, along with just being very busy these last couple of weeks.  But I'm back!

First, I have to brag on my big boy.  I haven't really discussed it, but the little dude has a speech delay.  He's just hit the 2 1/2 year mark, and since there hasn't been any great leaps in development, I went ahead and scheduled an evaluation for him.  Of course, now that I've done that, he's suddenly trotting out short sentences and names and a new understanding of communication.  We're still getting him evaluated, but I don't have the same worries I did before.  He's also transitioning to a real cup, instead of a sippy with a straw.  I really have to let go of my issues with him getting messy, lol.  He's been climbing like crazy, and managed to do playground equipment all by himself.  I even had to buy him fall clothes in a 3T!  I know it doesn't seem like much, but he just suddenly seems so much older to me.  The Big Dude and I were getting misty-eyed last night looking at his oddly large clothes, wondering where our baby went.  I'm even starting to entertain the notion of (whimpers) preschool.  Nothing at all wrong with preschool, of course--I taught 3's and pre-K kids for a decade--but I never thought he'd be getting old enough for it!  How did all my mom friends handle the realization that their baby isn't such a baby anymore?

As far as the fun freebies go, I have a lot to tell you about!  I've been using two sites, House Party and Vocalpoint.  House Party allows you to register to host a sponsored party for your family and friends.  I registered today for two different parties, one featuring pizza made with Johnsonville sausage, and the other one with board games!  If you're selected, you'll be sent a package with everything you need.  For example, the game party will get you two free board games, coupons for discounts on the games for your guests, recipes, napkins, drink stirrers, etc.  I've been to a few, and they were really fun!  A Fresh Wave party got me a goody bag with 6 different air fresheners, and a Breakstone party had coupons for discounts on Breakstone products, a cutting board, and some yummy food.  Best part is, it's all free!

Vocalpoint is different, no parties are required.  You'll receive different merchandise (or a coupon for the item free), and you'll be asked to fill out a survey or blog about your experience with them.  So far, I've gotten free salad, and I'm being sent the new Swiffer duster next.  As soon as I get to the store to get my salad, I probably will briefly blog about it, just because I want to keep the freebies coming.  Also, keep an eye on Suave's Facebook page, they've been talking about running the free product giveaway again!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Attitude Adjustment

This past week has been a total waste for me, in the blogging/social life/general friendliness department.  I don't know what my damage was, but I just couldn't bring myself to want to go out the door.  Any words in my head would dry up the minute I tried to blog it out.  I don't think I was depressed, but I was certainly anti-social.  All I wanted to do was hide out indoors with my Dudes and watch trashy TV.  (Speaking of-Jersey Shore's back!)  I finally got over myself, just in time for us all to come down with various tummy woes.  One missed birthday party and two ruined outfits later, things are now back to normal, and I may have things to say again!

I know I had planned to post a recipe for Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, but B. kind of beat me to the punch with her recipe.  So, if you want to chip it up, fold in 3/4 to 1 c. of chocolate chips right before pouring it into the pan.  I used 1 c. and thought it was a little too chocolatey, which means I really must have been out of it last week, because there is no such thing as too much chocolate.

The mini-preschool project was put on hold for the last week or so, in the name of helping my sister and her family get settled.  Things are still moving forward on it-the felt board is done, the magnetic boards have had a work out, and today's goals are homemade play dough and getting a line for drying art projects hung up.  I still need to get the chalkboards finished, but that might not happen this week-between agreeing to some extended child care for my niece today, going out of town, a Crew game, and hosting a birthday party, I'm not sure when I'll get it all done!

I was introduced to a concept today that I probably could have used this past week when my attitude was in serious need of adjustment.  It's called a "love bomb", and while it seems to mainly be recommended for use with children who are going through a traumatic time (a death, divorce, etc.) or are having behavioral issues, I think it's something that can be used any time you think the child (or adult) in your life needs a boost.  You pretty much just spoil the person in question for a day, or a few hours-spend undivided time with your child.  Play their games, do something fun, give them some treats.  The focus isn't meant to be on money spent, or how lavish you make the time together, but on making your child feel like they are important to you.  I suppose the idea sounds kind of obvious, or maybe even counterproductive-spoiling your child?  What??  But I have yet to see a child spoiled for life by one day of ice cream for dinner.  Jeffrey's getting some love bombing on Friday.  He's had a hard time dealing with suddenly having all these other kids to compete with, and he's been acting out on it.  So he gets an all-access pass to mommy and daddy for the day, along with a trip to a pretty cool children's museum, and an ice-cream parlor.  I know it's not a long-term solution for his sudden desire to smack any child that gets too close, but I'm hoping it'll help "reset" things for him before the birthday party invasion.  Besides, my chores will still be there at the end of the day, but my little boy won't always be.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday: Good, Bad and the Ugly

I'm back!  I survived a 10 hour car trip with my lovely boys alone twice this week.  We went on vacation up north to visit friends but dh couldn't go this time.  So I drove the boys and we all managed to not kill each other in the car, which is very good in my book.  Dh stayed home and worked on painting the house since there were no kids underfoot.  He got almost all of it done which makes me so happy.

My house is slowly starting to smell like banana bread that's in the oven.  I tried a new recipe this time and I hope it turns out good.  I got it from Simply Recipes and it really was easy to make.

Banana Bread Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour


  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour


No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

Yield: Makes one loaf.

The bad is that one of my son's brought back a fever with him from vacation and has now passed it on to the other kid.  We are on day three of 100+ temps for him, but he is not feeling real sick which means he is bored.  He's had to miss two birthday parties this weekend because of it so he's not thrilled at all.

And the ugly today goes to my poor friend and fellow blogger K who is home really sick with her family.  She's had a rough few days and I hope she gets well soon.