Week Eats – Thanksgiving Meal Plan and Paleo-Friendly Meatloaf Recipe

I love to cook, but on an average evening, I loathe the chore of making dinner. This is because I am terrible at meal planning. Far too frequently I spend much of my day with a low-grade anxiety about what in the world I’m going to make for dinner, and then by 4:30 I’m in all-out panic mode, “Aaahh! What am I going to make for dinner?? I need to feed people. Again!! Cooking is so stressful.”

I need to do meal planning. I try to do it, but I don’t usually follow through very well. I typically grocery shop on Wednesday mornings, and I never remember on Tuesday evening that I need to plan a week’s worth of meals and shop for them accordingly. I usually don’t even remember to make a list at all. So I end up with no eggs and 10 bottles of ketchup and four bags of dried dates and no coffee.

Clearly, I need to get my rear in gear on the planning and listing of food stuffs.

Enter Nell, of  the Whole Parenting Family blog (and Etsy shop). Apparently meal planning was not Nell’s strong suit either, so she decided to start a weekly link up of meal plans. She posts hers. We post ours. It forces the meal plans into existence. Ideas/recipes get shared. Win/win. Brilliant, right?

This is my first attempt at joining Nell’s party, and I am far behind on joining the link up this week (it starts every Saturday), but it’s Thanksgiving week, and I am quite excited about our plans for this year, so I’m jumping in, late or not (I’m backtracking to start on Sunday).

I got this magnet dry erase thing at Target a while ago, with meal planning in mind. It has Sunday at the end, which is where I’ll be starting.

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Yeah, awesome plan, huh? I know it’s a little, um, lacking in substance (does anyone else love leftovers as much as me??). But it’s better than nothing, so here I go.

Sunday – Paleo Mini-Meatloaves and Asparagus

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Generally, dinner around here consists of a meat dish and a vegetable. I almost never include a starch. So Meatloaf/Asparagus is it. This meatloaf recipe is a fast prep one that I got from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Best 30-Minute Recipe. It’s one of my favorite go-to meals, because I almost always have the ingredients on hand. The original calls for cracker crumbs, and I prefer to keep processed carbs to a minimum, so I paleo-ized the recipe for my family. Here’s my revision:

Paleo Mini-Mealoaves (with Ketchup Glaze, of course)

Meatloaves

  • 2/3 cup Almond meal
  • 1/4 cup whole milk (if you’re strict about non-dairy, you can use coconut or almond milk here, but the fat in the whole milk makes it better)
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Aminos (you could also use Worcestershire sauce)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Onion powder (optional, you could also use chopped onion if you happen to have some on hand)
  • 1 Garlic clove, minced or pressed (optional, you could also use 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 pound Ground venison (or beef)
  • 1 pound Ground breakfast sausage
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 tsp Oil of choice (I use olive or coconut)

Glaze

  • 1/3 cup Ketchup (make your own if you want strict paleo)
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut sugar
  • 4 tsp cider vinegar

Place your oven rack in the center position and preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Mix thoroughly all meatloaf ingredients except the oil. Form the meat mixture into five mini loaves. Heat oil in a large non-stick, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Let it get nice and hot before you put the meatloaves in it. Place all the meatloaves in the pan and let them get brown on one side, about three to five minutes.

While the loaves are browning, mix together the glaze ingredients. Flip the meatloaves over carefully. Spoon the glaze over the browned sides, and then put the whole thing in the oven. Bake at 500 degrees until the loaves register 165 on an instant-read thermometer (about 15-20 minutes). Serve.

For the asparagus, I just snapped off the woody ends and put the tops on a baking sheet. I drizzled a little bit of olive oil and sprinkled a bit of salt on them, mixed it all together, and put it in the oven. Since the meatloaves need 500 degrees, and that’s a bit too hot for the asparagus, I put the asparagus in first at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or so, while I was prepping the meatloaf. Then I turned up the oven for the last few minutes before taking the asparagus out and putting the meatloaves in. This is my typical technique for cooking most veggies: oil, salt, roast. Easy.

Monday – Jambalaya

I use the recipe in The New Best Recipe. It’s the mother of all cookbooks.

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I can’t put in a link to the recipe I use, but here’s one that looks pretty good. The recipe I linked says to chop the celery, onions, peppers, and garlic. It’s easier to just put big chunks of these into the food processor and pulse them six or seven times to get them nicely chopped but not pureed. Also, I think it’s better to cook the meat (chicken, then sausage) in the hot oil until it’s mostly done (then take it out so it doesn’t get over cooked), then cook the veggies until they’re softened, then put in the rice and stir it to get it coated with the fat in the pan, then add in all the liquids and seasonings and cook until the rice is done, adding the chicken and sausage back in and then the shrimp right at the end so it gets cooked just enough. Just my two cents.

Tuesday – Leftovers!

I love leftovers. Tonight we’re having leftover meatloaf and jambalaya. I might throw some baby carrots into the oven to roast because the asparagus is gone.

Wednesday – Date Night 

My husband and I have a meeting with our priest tomorrow night, so I have a sitter and we’re going to go out for dinner afterwards. I usually have a few things on hand to make for the girls on nights like these: Annie’s mac-n-cheese, frozen mini-meatballs, chicken tenders, peas, etc.

Thursday – Thanksgiving!

I don’t like turkey, and we never ate it for Thanksgiving when I was growing up. My husband doesn’t like turkey. So we don’t ever make it in our home on Thanksgiving either. Last year my husband cooked one of the hams from our pig in his smoker. But this year it hasn’t quite had enough time to cure, so we’re going with prime rib. Here’s our menu:

  • Roast Prime Rib of Beef with Horseradish Crust - Recipe here
  • Savory Bread Pudding with Caramelized Onions and Gruyere - Recipe in this cookbook 

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  • Celery Root Mashed Potatoes
  • Mashed Acorn Squash with Butter and Brown Sugar
  • Biscuits (from a can, thank you Pillsbury)
  • Green Salad
  • Pumpkin Pie – Recipe here
  • Pecan Pie – This one is pre-made this year, from a fundraiser at Miss’s school.
  • Cranberry Bread (because we are reading this book from FIAR, and the bread features prominently in the story, which comes with the recipe)

We are having the Super Family over for Thanksgiving dinner, and I can’t wait!

Friday – Leftovers again. Of course.

It is a criminal offense to eat anything other than leftovers on the day after Thanksgiving if you spent all day cooking on Thanksgiving Day.

Saturday – I don’t know yet. Either more leftovers or BLTs or something easy.

I have to go get my kids up from naps and run to the grocery store to pick up all the ingredients I need for our feast. Go check out Nell’s blog for more meal plans and recipes!

Posted in Cooking, Food, Week Eats | 2 Comments

So, I Went and Got Some Puppies…

I’m back! I can’t believe I haven’t written a blog post in over two weeks! Almost three, maybe? Wow.

I had planned to take a few days away from posting so I could freshen up the look of the blog a bit (notice the new header and a few little changes on the side bar, I’ll write more about that later and there are likely more changes to come!). It turns out I have no idea how to do anything in WordPress (which is why it has always looked the way it does), so it took me over a week to make the few small changes I’ve made.

Then I drove to Michigan to pick up two puppies*. I’ve barely looked at my computer since.

So. Puppies. Last Saturday I drove up through the U.P. (Upper Peninsula for you non-Michiganders) and across the Mackinaw Bridge for the first time to pick up our two Border Terrier puppies. I grew up in Michigan (near Detroit), but until last year’s skiing trip I had never been in the U.P. and had never even seen the Mackinaw Bridge in person. The U.P. is gorgeous. The bridge is pretty cool too.

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I thought it would be a bit luxurious to have two eight-hour drives and an overnight stay in a hotel by myself. I was imagining uninterrupted audio books, and quiet time, and sleeping in, and it all seemed so thrilling. Turns out it wasn’t. My audiobook was awful and my hotel was a tad dumpy and all I could get for dinner there was a tiny piece of pizza (they only had one left) and a beer (thankfully).

But it was all fine, because in the morning, I went and picked up the newest additions to our family, Zinnia and Zeus. Aren’t they cute?

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I kind of forgot how time-consuming it is to have a brand-new puppy (times two). The last time I had a tiny puppy I was in graduate school and thought I was going to die, because my six-week-old puppy was waking me up once or twice a night for a few weeks to go out and pee. Looking back now after having babies, I laugh at what a wimp I was. Once or twice a night for a few weeks. Ha!

At least these little ones are sleeping through the night (mostly). The hardest thing is that they have decided to make the time right after I put the girls to bed their time that they whine at the door repeatedly to go outside and chew on sticks. Oh my, I cannot adequately describe the frustration of sitting down with a glass of wine after putting my children to bed, planning to fold laundry and watch a movie (endless excitement over here), and having the dogs constantly going to the door and whining to go out**. I wouldn’t mind it so much if they whined at the door and then went outside and actually went, but they were only wanting to go out and play. I’m all for letting puppies play, but they can play just fine in the house when it’s Mama Time.

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These little pups are so cute though, and really quite easy and good. It’s been hard to get many photos of them. They’re fast little suckers, and I’m trying to learn to shoot manual, so most of my pics have ended up looking like this:

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They are great with the girls, who adore them. The girls have barely played with their toys, choosing instead to play with the puppies at every opportunity for the past week.

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Lass has been a bit timid with the pups, but she is so sweet to watch with them. Every time one of the dogs comes near her or jumps up on her she says, with such adorable wonderment, “I just can’t believe how much they like me!” or “They really love me a lot, don’t they?” She’s getting braver too.

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All the girls are puppy crazy. They refer to themselves as the dogs’ mommies.

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We’re all getting into a groove, and we’re so happy with our new family members. I’m hoping to get back to blogging more regularly. I missed you all!

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* To my Michigan peeps, please don’t be offended that I came to Michigan and didn’t call you! I was in the northern part of the state, got in late-ish on Saturday and left early on Sunday after going to Mass and then picking up the puppies. I miss you and love you all!!

** My husband was away for the weekend butchering our hog. I was solo on puppy duty, which is the reason I could not sit for more than five minutes and one sip of wine before another whine :)

Posted in Puppies | Leave a comment

Vacation School

A few months ago, when I was planning for our homeschool year, I sat down and planned out our schedule for the year. No, I am not one of those amazing homeschool moms who planned out every lesson for the year in July. Most days I prep what we’re going to do the night before we’re doing it, if I’m lucky (if not, I just fly by the seat of my pants, and that works just fine for kindergarten).

What I mean about planning our year is that I sat down and looked at all the weeks we would be doing school, the days/weeks we would be off, the days Miss would be at her other school, and then figured out how many hours per day I’d need to teach in order to meet our state’s requirement of 875 hours of instruction per year. I don’t actually have to do that many hours this year because formal homeschooling doesn’t have to start until next year. But this is my practice year, so I did it anyway.

This is one of the built-in “vacation” weeks for our year. We’re at the Farm for my husband’s annual week of deer hunting. I knew I wouldn’t be bringing our school work with us, so I didn’t count on logging any school hours this week.

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But duh, it’s the Farm. Being here is like having a week-long field trip. I’m definitely logging some hours.

The girls got to see a groundhog in personal after the hired man captured one in the live trap (the groundhog was digging and making a mess in one of the buildings, so he was taken somewhere else). We had a nice impromptu review about groundhogs, while having the benefit of being able to point out, up close, their perpetually growing teeth and long claws for digging.

We’ve had plenty of outdoor exploration, discussing deer behaviors, inspecting scrapes, discovering where they might sleep and what they might eat.

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We’ve had discussions about the formation of rocks, and there has been plenty of “gym class.” Balancing, jumping, running down and up hills, etc.

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While playing on the hay bales, we found a big caterpillar. It was spiky and rolled into a ball each time we picked it up.

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So, obviously, we had a discussion about animals’ natural defenses. And then we tried to guess what the caterpillar might eat, and we made a habitat for it.

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I’ve laughed at myself a little bit this week, because we are not doing anything at all differently from what we would do here at the Farm if we weren’t homeschooling our kids. But since we are, I tend to think about everything differently:

“Oh, an animal skull. Science! They’re climbing. Gym class!”

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Yes. I’m logging every bit of it. I love homeschooling.

Posted in Homeschool, The Farm | 2 Comments

Little Girls and Fat – 7 Ways to Encourage Healthy Body Image for Daughters

I’m pretty intentional about the way I discuss food and exercise and body image and fat with my girls. Our society is obsessed with fat. Or rather, with not eating fat, not gaining fat, and not being fat. My parents never tried to get me to lose weight, and never taught me, explicitly or implicitly, that I needed to be super thin or diet constantly. However, the bombardment of “be skinny!!” messages in our culture still led me to have plenty of struggles with body image and “feeling fat,” particularly as an adolescent (I was never overweight, just not super skinny).

As an adult I have learned that it is more important to focus more on having a strong and healthy body and less on being thin. I know this in my head, but I still struggle with it every single day. I want to be able to lose the weight I gained while I was pregnant this summer. I want to be able to lose the extra pounds I had before I got pregnant this summer. I want to be thin again, like I was before I had babies. Even though I know better, I have moments of loathing this body that has grown and nourished three little people, because it doesn’t look like what I wish it did. That’s ridiculous, but it’s true.

I want better for my girls.

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I have heard about little girls who worry that they are fat, or who want to be on diets, or who won’t eat certain things because these foods will make them “fat.” Five and six and seven year olds.

The idea of my little girls feeling that they need to be on a diet or do something to avoid getting “fat” makes me want to cry. I want to teach my girls about fat and food in a different way than what is common in our culture. Here are seven ways I try to do it:

1. I do not ever speak critically about my own body in front of them. Even more, I don’t scowl at my reflection, I don’t weight myself in front of them, I don’t complain that certain clothes make me look fat. When my kids inevitably poke my belly and comment on how squishy it is I just smile and say, “Yes it is.” I don’t say, “Ugh, I know. I need to eat less ice cream and work out more.” Even if that’s what I’m thinking.

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2. I don’t discuss food with them in terms of its potential to make them (or me) fat, and we don’t go on “diets” in our house (I don’t believe eating paleo is a “diet” in the way I’m thinking of it here). We discuss foods in terms of their nutritional value. I explain to my girls that we need to eat a variety of foods to keep our bodies healthy.

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I don’t ban sugary treats, but I tell them that we eat small amounts of these because they don’t offer our bodies much, if any, nutritional value, and eating too much of them isn’t a healthy choice and/or makes us feel tired, etc.

3. I don’t talk about fat or “being fat” as a bad thing. When my girls ask me why some people are fat, I simply say, “Because God makes people in all shapes and sizes.” Once Miss asked me what would happen if her daddy got fat. I have no idea where that question came from, but I said, “Well then we would just love him anyway, whatever he looks like.”

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4. Similarly, I don’t tell them not to refer to other people as fat. The idea of being “fat” doesn’t have a negative connotation for them yet, and I want to keep it that way. I have felt embarrassed when they have asked other people, “Why are you so fat?” but I don’t chastise them for it because it is completely innocent. Obviously, if I ever heard them use the word “fat” as an insult, I would put a stop to it right away. For now, I’m just glad they don’t even think it that way.

5. I never have the TV on adult programming when my kids are awake. Commercials are so full of inappropriate content. When we occasionally have on a sports program during the day, I try to keep it muted, at least during the commercials, to avoid all the commercials about the latest and greatest “lose weight fast” schemes (it’s also nice to avoid the erectile dysfunction commercials so common during sports programming).

6. Exercise is always only referred to in terms of its purpose for making us strong and healthy and helping us to feel good, never for trying to lose weight. I was in our garage working out the other day while the girls played in the backyard. I was doing sumo deadlift high pulls and feeling like a cow, noticing how my belly fat was oozing over the top of my workout pants each time I bent down. Lass came to the door between the garage and the backyard and said, “Looking good, Mom!” I couldn’t help but smile.

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7. I don’t talk about how relatively big or small they are. I have one daughter who is on the small side for her age, and two who are on the big side. Miss and Lass are almost exactly the same size. People comment on this all the time, usually right after asking me if they’re twins. But I don’t make a big deal about it. I don’t make comments about how petite Miss is or compare her sisters to her in that way. They know they wear the same size clothes, and it’s a non-issue beyond that.

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I know I won’t be able to shield my girls from society’s skinny obsession forever. Really what I’m trying to do now is lay a good foundation for the conversations that will come when they get older. I hope that they will have a firmly established set of beliefs about exercise and food and their bodies, so that they can roll their eyes at the photoshopped pictures on the magazine covers and the ads promising that they can “Lose weight fast!!”

For now I’ll feed them healthy food and continue to try to be a good role model of healthy exercise and body image. I certainly need work on this myself.

Posted in Raising Daughters | 4 Comments

Halloween Recap

Whew! Another Halloween is over. We had a fun week of parties, treats, and costumes.

Here’s a recap, mommy-blog style:

First of all, the issue of costumes almost became a big drama when we first started Halloween planning a few weeks ago. I told the girls that I was not going to buy them costumes for Halloween this year, because they each had gotten two new costumes for the Labor Day party in September. Why two costumes? I had already allowed them to pick a costume for the “Cartoon” theme of the party, and then my Mother-in-law requested that everyone in the family come as a Smurf, knowing that would make for an awesome family photo, so they got additional Smurf costumes.

DSC_0763I told them they could choose from the Smurf costumes, the other costumes they got for the party (Mulan, Ms. Frizzle, Sofia the First), or pick something out of our extensive dress up collection. Sis and Lass had no problem with this. Sis wanted to be Sofia again. Lass decided to wear her veterinarian dress up outfit. Miss, on the other hand, insisted that she wanted to be a witch. We don’t have witch dress up. We had a stand-off on the issue for a few days, until I found a witch hat in the Target dollar section. I conceded to buy her the hat, but told her we’d have to piece together the rest of the costume from things we already had. She agreed. And then Lass changed her mind and decided she had to be a witch too. Soooo, a different witch hat, also from Target, and plans for two witch outfits. Costumes decided, crisis averted.

The actual Halloween revelry started last Saturday when we were invited to a party by some lovely friends.

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You might be wondering what happened to the witches and Sofia the First, yes? Well, I suggested to Miss that she might want to save her witch costume for her school party, since lots of the kids from her school would be at this family party. She agreed and grabbed her Elsa dress (which needed some last minute repairs). Then Lass decided to be Cinderella, but melted down because her Cinderella dress, which she got as a gift for her second birthday, is now too small for her. She did not want to wear Miss’s Cinderella dress from last Halloween, but Sis decided she’d love to be Cinderella instead of Sofia. Lass recovered from her devastation quickly upon catching a glimpse of her unicorn costume in the closet where it has been stuffed onto a shelf for the past year. So, no witches, no Sofia. Elsa, Cinderella, and a unicorn instead.

Are you still with me? Good.

The party was wonderful, with lots of games and pizza and treats. The girls had a blast.

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^^ A last stretching leap to win her heat of the sack race. She’s not competitive or anything. . .

My Halloween torment began on Wednesday, when I had to roll up my sleeves and actually bake the treats I had envisioned after my Pinterest search last week. I think I mentioned that baking is not one of my talents. Cooking I can do. Baking? Not so much. And yet, I volunteered to bring the sweet treat for Miss’s school party. I’m sometimes not too smart, either.

So, what do you think? Did I nail it?

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At least they tasted good. I helped out at Miss’s party, and most of the kids devoured them, and had no idea they had pumpkin in them.

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Yeah, she decided to stick with the Elsa costume for the school party too.

Yesterday afternoon/evening was a whirlwind of carving pumpkins, getting costumes on, giving candy to early trick-or-treaters, and trying to find their pumpkin-shaped candy buckets.

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^^ Last minute jack-o-lantern success.

We had to really bundle up, because it was extremely cold and windy here last night. Miss and Lass each wore one of my sweaters as a witch “dress.” We managed to fit costumes on over bulky coats, so no one’s outfit was hidden for the sake of being warm. I crimped the older girls’ hair to make it look “witchy.” That was my favorite part.

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We never did find the pumpkin buckets.

Miss insisted on pulling her sisters in the wagon, and off we went.

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“Trick or Treat!”

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It was really, really cold and the witch hats wouldn’t stay on because of the wind. The houses in our neighborhood are kind of far apart, and there were many with no lights on. We only made it to four houses before calling it quits.

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The girls didn’t care that we didn’t go to more houses, and we would have ended up with the perfect (small) amount of candy for the night. Except that it was so cold, very few trick-or-treaters came to our house to take our candy.

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Right now our huge bowl of leftovers is “hidden” in our laundry room. Unfortunately I can’t hide them from myself. I’ll be donating all of it somewhere ASAP.

It was a fun Halloween. I hope you had a fun one too!

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Posted in Fall, Halloween, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cupcake Anxiety, a Singing Nun, and a Deer Head Dance (7QT)

Doing what I usually do on Fridays:

1.

I’m in charge of making the sweet treat for Miss’s Halloween party at school next week. Right now I am both loving and hating Pinterest. I think I’m using a recipe for pumpkin cupcakes and adding chocolate chips. The frosting will be pumpkin cream cheese and I’ll put orange sprinkles on top. I’m hoping they’ll look something like this:

Of course, they’re not really going to end up looking anything like that. And I have spent waaaayyy too much time thinking about this. But the kids will have cupcakes.

2.

The last time I tried to make something from scratch for a school party was when Miss was still in preschool outside the home, and I tried to make paleo brownies for her to take for her birthday. I baked them after putting the girls to bed, and thank goodness I tasted one before taking them to her school. They were disgusting. Truly. I threw them away and made an emergency late-night trip to the grocery store to get some pre-made cupcakes from the bakery.

This time I’ll bake the cupcakes early enough in the day that I can test one and have some time to consider decent replacement options if these are awful.

Baking isn’t one of my talents, so I must always prepare for the worst.

3.

On Wednesday I got pulled over. I was going 69 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. the officer took my license, went back to his car, and came back a few minutes later saying, “You have a great record, so I’m giving you a warning.”

IMG_3804I barely managed to keep my jaw from dropping.

I don’t know whose driving record he was looking at, but if it was “great,” it wasn’t mine. Or maybe he could only see the past year or two. It has been over two years since my last ticket. . .

I’m kind of a lead foot.

4.

Our house has walls. And rooms.

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See that big window right in the front? That’s where my school room is going to be.

IMG_3785 IMG_3790Can you picture it? Little desks and tons of books and art projects everywhere and storage, storage, storage. I can’t wait.

5.

When I was a tween (though no one used that word then), I loved Madonna. My Mom wouldn’t buy me the tape of her music (I think she called M a “tart”), but I recorded the songs off the radio and sang and danced to them with abandon. Borderline, Material Girl, Crazy for You, Like a Virgin. . .

Okay, I still dance and sing to them with abandon.

Yesterday I came across a video. Some people might find it weird, but I just think it’s awesome. It’s a nun. Singing “Like a Virgin.” (I think it’s the nun who won some singing show in Italy).

Her performance is incredible, and it gives the song a whole new meaning. Don’t just listen. Watch her sing it.


It gave me chills. As someone who spent nearly a decade as an atheist, this video really struck a chord with me. I’ll never hear that song the same way again. And that’s not a bad thing.

6.

Today was lovely. Days like this are why fall is my favorite season.

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They were trying to catch leaves in their hats as they fell from the trees. They weren’t too successful, but it sure was fun to watch them try.

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Each time she fell she’d look up and me and say, deadpan, “A little help here.”

7.

Hunting season is upon us. After watching my husband practice shooting his bow, Miss asked to get hers out too (my Dad gave it to her).

She practiced for at least 30 minutes, and went from needing lots of assistance and correction to being able to nock, draw, aim, and shoot the arrow herself, often placing it in the target.

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Lass took a short turn with the bow when Miss was done. Both the girls said they wanted to go out and hunt with my husband, to which he replied that they could (hunt = watch deer). This quickly resulted a dance and song that went something like this, “We’re gonna put a deer head on the waaaall,” over and over and over.

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I hope you had a lovely Friday too.

Catch the rest of the Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Posted in 7 Quick Takes Friday, Building the House, Fall, Funny Sayings, Outdoors, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Five Favorites – Etsy Shops for Kids

Have I ever mentioned that I love Etsy? Once or twice, yes?

(just for fun, type “Etsy” into the search bar on the side of my blog and see how many posts come up. . .)

Well, since Christmas is coming up, and I always love to get a few sweet handmade/non-mass-produced things for my girls, and because there is a new hostess of the Five Favorites link up so I want to give Jenna some love, here are my five favorite Etsy shops for kids’ stuff.

I adore Etsy so much, that I don’t think I could narrow down my favorite shops to just five overall, so these are just for kids. And maybe later I’ll share another post with my tops shops for grown up gifts and/or home decor. Then maybe another time I could share my five favorite party supply shops. Or five favorite shops for vintage stuff. Five favorite jewelry shops?

Yes, I love me some Etsy. So, without further ado, five favorite shops for kids’ stuff, in no particular order:

1. Huggie Saints – These soft saint dolls are so snuggly and very well-made. Sis has a Saint Brigid that she sleeps with every night.

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Super Friend got a Saint Philomena for her youngest daughter, which is just as cute as can be too.

2. Nana’s Sewing Closet – These dresses. I just can’t even explain the cuteness. We have a Minnie Mouse dress, a Snow White dress, and a Cinderella dress (though ours is made of cotton and is quite different from the one linked to here). And I can’t even get over how sweet the work dresses, or “raggy” dresses as my girls would call them, of Cinderella and Belle are. We have cute, comfy dresses like these from another shop too, but I like Nana’s better because hers are less expensive and she has the biggest selection of different character dresses to choose from (plus the other shop closed!).

This is my favorite type of princess dress, because the girls can wear them any day, not just for dress up. They are comfortable and easy to wash.

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I couldn’t find any good photos of our dresses. The girls wore them to Disney World, but it was so cold they were covered up with coats the whole time. Just trust me. They’re adorable.

3. and 4. Pray With the Saints and St. Luke’s Brush- These little saint peg dolls are so fun. We have dolls from both of these shops, and both are wonderful. Pray with the Saints dolls are less detailed, but also less expensive. St. Luke’s Brush dolls are amazing in their detail (check out his Blessed Mother Theresa!), and he has a larger selection. We have Saint Cecilia, Saint Therese, and Saint Brigid from St. Luke’s.

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Maggie from Pray with the Saints was delightful when I requested a custom order doll for Miss’s birthday last year. Miss had been begging for a Saint Anne-pregnant-with-Mary doll, and I couldn’t find one anywhere (not surprisingly). She also wanted Saint Anne to be holding a rosary (not historically accurate, but she was only four when she was imagining this doll!). Maggie was so accommodating and asked lots of questions to get the doll just right. She even asked what color Miss’s eyes are to make the doll’s eyes match.

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Perfect for St. Nicholas feast day presents!

5. Three Yellow Starfish – The reversible pinafores from this shop are darling. The fabric selections are gorgeous and the sewing is flawless.

Three Yellow Starfish pinafore

They’re reversible!

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Though this isn’t really the time of year for little dresses like these, they look adorable over a long sleeve shirt with pants underneath too.

Any guesses which of my girls that is ^^?

Bonus:

Two more shops that I am very intrigued by, but have not personally purchased anything from (yet):

Whole Parenting Goods – I’ve been stalking this shop for a while. If I had a baby, I’d be all over this stuff. I almost want to snuggle my computer screen when I look at Nell’s blankets and scarves. She just added leggings to her list of items, so I might need to get some of those for Sis (they don’t come big enough for Lass or Miss). The bandit bibs are so sweet, and would have been much cuter than the ugly, stained bibs I had during Miss’s crazy drooling phase.

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I also have to add that Nell is a blogging friend, and you can check her out here.

Catholic Inspired – I’m especially intrigued by these rosary mats. What a great idea. Finally a rosary that Sis can’t break (at least, I don’t think she could break it).

Now, you must tell me – what are your favorite Etsy shops?

And, check out others’ favorite things at the link up, now going on over at Call Her Happy.

Posted in Cool Stuff, Five Favorites, Other Great Blogs, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Seven Quick Takes. Okay, Six. Five and a Half.

Hooray for Friday!

1.

I was getting ready to put the boxes for my girls’ new shoes in the recycling the other day. I happened to notice the labels.

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I’m just going to note that I’m so glad my four-year-old has “running” shoes available in her size. These will be super important when we start her marathon training. And I’m not exactly sure what “lightweight training” is specifically, but I’m relieved that my five-year-old will be prepared when she encounters it.

2.

Speaking of being prepared, I have been really trying not to freak out about the cases of Ebola in the United States. I think the media is (as usual) really overblowing everything and trying to make everyone feel terrified and therefore be glued to their televisions. I also think, “What-in-the-world-is-wrong-with-you-CDC-people???” Beyond that, I’ve been really working on not panicking about this thing.

However, I have spent at least one night of restless, nightmare-plagued sleep over it, and I am considering just boarding up my house and eating freeze-dried food for however long it takes the people in charge to come up with a cure and a vaccine. At least I’ll still have the internet.

3.

Monday was the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. We made a dancing sun craft and watched our DVD about the Marian apparitions and miracle at Fatima. Then, because Mary referred to herself during these apparitions as the “Lady of the Rosary” and requested that people pray the devotion daily, I had the girls pray a complete rosary with me for the first time.

I’m all about inspiring a love for the prayers, and chocolate makes everything fun.

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Thanks to Kendra for the reminder to try this this month (though we didn’t manage it on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary).

4.

I have been liberated. I am truly free.

My children are of the age where they can go outside and play by themselves. However, after a few stings last summer and this summer, and due to an intense fear of the noise of the train near our house, they have insisted that they are too afraid to go outside without me.

Now, normally I try to be nice and sensitive to my children’s fears. But there are times (lots of times) when they just need to get outside but I have other things to get done, and/or I am not jazzed about the idea of standing out there with them. Over the past weekend I had one of those times.

Miss wanted to go outside, but not all by herself. Sis wanted to go outside but only if I went too. Lass didn’t want to go out at all. Two of them were crying. Sis was saying, “I so sferred!” (she can’t make the K sound).

I kicked them all out. I literally pried Sis’s fingers from the door as I slid it shut and said, “Have fun!”

She wasn’t happy at first.

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You may think me cruel, but I knew exactly what would happen. She and her sisters all pulled it together and had plenty of fun. Now they go outside without me, without complaint or tears, every day. Tough love.

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FREEDOM!!!

5.

I came across Jess Connell’s blog the other day when a friend linked to this post on Facebook. The post is about Jess’s answer to the question some people ask (and someone posted in her combox), “Why do people keep having more kids if they are already exhausted with the 1 or 2 they do have?” Jess has six-going-on-seven kids, and her response to the question is perfect.

Basically it is this, anything worthwhile is tiring. And it comes down to how you view children: as a blessing or a burden? a joy or a chore?

She hit the nail on the head.

When I was tired from studying or writing my dissertation in graduate school no one ever asked me, “Why would you do that, since it makes you so exhausted?” That would have been a bizarre thing to ask. Yet people ask it of parents about their children not infrequently, on social media in particular. Read Jess’s whole post here. I’d love to hear what you think about it.

6.

I know there were more things I wanted to put into Quick Takes this week. I just can’t for the life of me remember what they are. Someday I’ll get the hang of writing down the things I plan to blog about instead of trying to remember them on the fly. For now I leave you with five and a half takes.

Have a great weekend and be sure to check out the link up at Conversion Diary, where other writers actually get to seven in their posts.

 

Posted in 7 Quick Takes Friday, Other Great Blogs | 2 Comments

Diary of a Grammar Geek

I freely admit that I am a big nerd when it comes to my love of proper grammar. I can’t really help it. I just really like it. It makes me happy.

I don’t mean to say that I think I am always perfectly grammatically correct. I’m not, in either my writing or my speech. I tend to write this blog the way that I speak, so I know it doesn’t always make the A+ grade for grammar. Sometimes I use sentence fragments if it helps my flow. I often start a sentence with a conjunction, though I almost never end one with a preposition. And (see?) sometimes I say things like, “I’m good” in response to the question “How are you?” *gasp*

I think what makes me a grammar geek is that I actually care about things like the correct use of adverbs and adjectives. Even though I don’t always do it perfectly (see what I did there?), I am always trying to make my grammar correct. And I love learning new things about proper grammar. For example:

I bought a book recently called “It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences,” and it’s fascinating.

It was only just recently that I learned the rule about when to use “who” and when to use “whom.” I thought I knew it, but I had only understood part of it. I was so excited. Truly.

I kind of can’t wait until my kids are old enough for me to have them start diagramming sentences in our homeschool. It was one of my favorite things to do in English class.

See?

There are some things that drive me kind of nuts, like improper use of apostrophes.

Or lack of apostrophes when they should be there.

I mean, one of the reasons Super Friend and I are such good friends is because she knows when to type “you’re” and when to type “your” in a text or email.

Just kidding (sort of).

BUT, though I freely admit to being a nerd, I don’t consider myself to be a “grammar Nazi.”

I don’t ever correct someone’s grammar, punctuation, or spelling unless they specifically ask me to. Except in my head. And when I do it in my head, it’s not malicious. I just can’t help myself.

My thinking as I scroll through Facebook posts:

“‘Should have’, not ‘should of’.”

“‘Too funny’, not ‘to funny’.”

“‘Couldn’t care less’, not ‘could care less’.”

“Quotation marks do not mean emphasis.”

AND:

What’s my point? I don’t have one. I just like thinking about and writing about grammar. I do wish people would pay more attention to using it correctly. But I’m a nerd. Here’s a take home message if you want one:

Truth.

And even though some of this song is kind of mean spirited, I do enjoy this Weird Al Yankovic remake of “Blurred Lines.”

Posted in Miscellany | Leave a comment

Grandparents (again), Field Trips (again), and Walls (finally)

Quick Takes Friday!

1.

We had a lot of fun with my parents when they were here. We got to celebrate my Mom’s birthday in my very favorite way. With gifts from the Dollar Tree, of course! I let the girls each pick two things as gifts for my Mom. The two older girls really tried to choose things they thought their Grandma would like. I just love watching how proud they are to see their gifts opened and appreciated.

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Miss chose a fall-themed oven mitt and a water bottle (similar to the one my Mom uses for her coffee). Lass selected a six-pack of plastic hangers and a statue of a mother holding a baby, which she immediately thought to be Mary and Baby Jesus and decided my non-Catholic mother must have it.

Sis chose a snow globe with puppies in it and what she thought was a small “bouncy ball” that turned out to be a soccer-themed washcloth.

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I never get tired of the dollar store presents.

2.

The only time our little dolls and castle ever look like this:

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With every. single. one. posed at “The Ball,” is when my Mom is here.

3.

Grandparents are the best.

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4.

Two weeks ago, we read the book A Pair of Red Clogs (set in Japan). The Godmother brought me some real Japanese clogs and kimonos and an obi and other things from Japan, that her father had brought back after WWII. She told me to let my girls touch and feel and try on and play with these wonderful items!

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Somehow I only got really crummy photos, but the girls had such fun trying on the shoes and clothes and twirling and clomping around. I have such a thoughtful and generous Godmother.

5.

I had wanted to take the girls to a hibachi restaurant for a meal/field trip, but didn’t get around to it during the week that we read the Red Clogs book. So we went with my parents on Wednesday night. The older girls loved it.

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Sis didn’t want anything to do with it.

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6.

Speaking of field trips, this week we’re reading “A Glorious Flight” about how Louis Bleriot built an airplane and was the first person to fly a plane over the English Channel. We have an amazing aviation museum nearby, which was the perfect field trip this week.

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In case you’re wondering, that’s at least seven field trips for us already this year!

7.

Finally, I am very excited to show you this last photo:

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Walls! We have walls finally going up. We have such a long, long way to go, I know. But this, seeing something coming up from the ground for real, has just made my weekend.

For more Quick Takes, check out the link up at Conversion Diary.

 

Posted in 7 Quick Takes Friday, Grandparents, Homeschool | 2 Comments