Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Funny Guy

This cracks me up daily. At any given moment in our home, you should not be surprised to find Jadon like this. He loves to brush his teeth. Great thing for dental care. Not so great when he's literally running around with the toothbrush protruding from his mouth. But the kid just loves toothbrushes. He got a Lightning McQueen toothbrush for Christmas (it may have been his favorite gift) in the hopes that he would prefer that one over everyone else's. He generally doesn't care who's toothbrush he has in his mouth. Kinda gross. But funny just the same.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Life... at the moment

So the last couple of weeks have been rather crazy and full, so I'll just hit the bullet points.
  • Kevin and Mark enlisted a friend of ours to help put in a new window in our basement. When I say help, I mean Justin did all the work while Kevin and Mark stood and watched.
  • Chloe and I got really cute haircuts.
  • Jody and I spent 4 or 5 days trading off babysitting for various errands.
  • One of those babysitting tradeoffs was for a CT scan for Chloe's headaches. Scan was clear. Chloe's getting reading glasses. Hopefully, that will help.
  • I celebrated my 28th birthday with a Pampered Chef party. Yum!
  • Last weekend was the memorial for my Grandma. Despite the sad occasion, we had a good time with my Dad's family. My cousins are actually closer to my kids' ages than mine, so they had a lot of fun together.
  • Chloe, Micah and Kevin went skiing with my Dad, the new ski instructor, last week.
  • We had a really fun party with our small group Saturday night. (Another opportunity for Aunt Jody babysitting)

What can I say, life has been rather full. Some of those days were below zero temperatures, so the days we had to go out, we were bundled in full snow gear. But any day we could, we stayed huddled inside.

With all the busyness, school has been rather sporadic. Thankfully, Chloe and Micah do most of their lessons together, so make up time is quick. We've had a few days of 3 lessons in one. Speaking of which, we do need to get to work. So it's off to school for me!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Chicken and Mushroom Pasta

Well I told you I'd show you how to make this yummy pasta today. Please remember that I am by no means a chef. But, I know what I like and I love to make up new recipes whether out of necessity or just for fun. This is one of those recipes that I just made up on the fly because I was a little bored with dinner. It turned out to be a hit! The best part is that it's relatively inexpensive and it's very healthy. Can't beat that!

So here goes:

What you need:

3 chicken breasts; browned and chopped into bitesize pieces
8 oz porcini mushrooms *baby portabellos; rinsed and chopped to large pieces
1 green bell peppeer; diced
1 small onion; diced
3 cloves garlic; minced or grated (please, please, please use real garlic)
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
2 handfulls fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 pkg penne rigatte (with the lines) cook according to directions
olive oil
4oz shredded mozzarella

Brown and chop the chicken. Begin cooking penne according to package directions. While it's cooking, dice green pepper and onion and rinse and chop the mushrooms. Set chicken aside. In large skillet over medium high heat, drizzle 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté onions and green pepper until soft and transparent. Lower heat to medium and grate garlic over pan. Toss in mushrooms and chicken. Sprinkle 1 tsp each dried basil and oregano (use fresh if you have it) and 1/2 tsp dried thyme (about 2 to 3sprigs fresh). Allow mushrooms to reduce slightly. Pour tomatoes over chicken mixture.
Drain pasta. Return to pan(with burner off). This will allow the water to cook off of pasta and melt cheeses. Add ricotta, parmesan and 1 handful chopped parsley to pasta. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp basil and toss.

Pour a small amount of sauce into the bottom of a 9x13in baking dish. Pour in all of pasta and cheese mixture. Cover with remaining sauce mixture. Sprinkle remaining parsley and mozzarella over dish. Place in broiler for 3 to 4 minutes until cheese begins to brown. Isn't that gorgeous! For those of you who don't do mushrooms, use another chicken breast or 2. Or use all mushrooms for you of the vegetarian persuasion, I made this up so you can change it as you see fit. Let me know if you try something different. Enjoy and have fun!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What's for Dinner?

When I started homeschooling last fall, I decided I should probably get my act together with some time management ideas. The one that stuck best was menu and grocery planning. Using my datebook to keep track of what we were going to eat for dinner everyday kept me from dreading 5 o'clock everyday. I learned to enjoy fixing dinner every night because I never had to dig through the pantry to see what's there. It's also certainly cheaper to plan out meals in advance, rather than simply finding the fastest and easiest solution. It even helped me maintain my weightloss from last winter.

Sadly, though, when things started getting crazy, visiting family and being gone more nights then we were home between Thanksgiving and New Year's, my menu planning kinda fell by the wayside. And so did my healthy cooking and eating. I gained a few pounds (just 3 or 4) and the kids certainly didn't have the healthy meals I was proud to serve most days.

So... I have determined to get back to my meal schedule. It's not a resolution, I don't really do those, but it is something that's easy to change since the hub-bub of the holidays is gone. And since I'm getting back to this, I thought I'd share. Maybe you could use the encouragement or you can just keep me accountable. Anyway, here's the plan:

I typically do my shopping on a Saturday, since Kevin can keep a couple of kids and make the trip that much easier. I find it works best for me to go right after payday so DH doesn't think we have a budget surplus and do something crazy like overpay the mortgage;) Before I shop, I sit down with my calendar for the next two weeks and a list of 10-15 possible meals.

First I fill in all the high-pressure evenings: AWANA night, small group, any event we might have that makes dinner rushed. Those get meals like quesadillas and pizza. Anything that can be thrown together and eaten quickly or even grabbed on the way out the door. Then I fill in meals that typically are easy to make in bulk for the freezer or can be turned into something else later in the week. Then I fill in the rest of the week making good use of leftovers and crockpots. All of this takes me about 30 minutes, definitely a small price to pay for such a lifesaver.

Here's what this week looks like:

Sun Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
Mon Tacos
Tues Chicken Mushroom Pasta
Wed Quesadillas
Thurs Leftovers
Fri Pizza
Sat Chili

The chili will be use later in the week for nachos, and the chicken for the sandwiches was made in the crockpot, half used that day and half used in the quesadillas.

Tomorrow, I'll show you how to make this yummy chicken and mushroom pasta. Super easy and Super fast.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to Work

We've taken the last couple of weeks off from school, but yesterday, on the way to church, I told the kids it would be back to school today. You should have heard the cheers! It's so great to know that my kids love school so much! Even Jadon likes to get in on the action, coloring and clapping and singing along with the big kids.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Whew!! It's been a long couple of weeks! We celebrated Christmas with Kevin's family and with mine last week. Kevin's family Christmas was actually a couple of days early. When there are 28 people to coordinate schedules, you take what you can get. And then let the chaos ensue. It was pretty fun though!Doesn't this guy look like he's into mischief?

My brother and my folks came over to our house for dinner on Christmas Day. The kids love it when people come over. They tend to have a little difficulty restraining themselves when we have guests, it's just way too exciting.

Our church had a great service on Christmas Eve. We took the kids in their Christmas jammies and they thought that was really great. Then they opened their stockings in the morning. We had plans to have lunch with Kevin's brother Mark and his family, but Ilese got sick that morning. How awful to be sick on Christmas. Her Mom said she hasn't been sick like that since last Christmas. Poor kid! So we had a lazy Christmas Day at home together. It was really great actually.

New Year's Eve was really fun. We went out to Kevin's cousin's house for the evening. The boys spent the evening playing Xbox (what else?) and the girls spent most of the evening playing Cranium Hoopla. Pretty tame, I know, but that's the way we like it. Chloe and Micah were exhausted the next day, Mommy and Daddy too. But when I asked the kids in the morning if they were sleepy, Jadon piped up, "No, not sleepy!" Lucky kid, went to bed at 9. We all should be so smart.

Anyway, we've all had a great holiday season and we hope all of you have. Have a great 2009!
Mom to four beautiful blessings including a brand new little guy. Laugh and cry with me as I navigate the joys and perils of motherhood and homeschooling.