If you wanna feel better about your family, just read about ours...

Starring: a dad, a mom, a son & daughter-in-law, a daughter & son-in-law, a teen, a tween, 1 grandson, 3 granddaughters, 3 dogs, and a whole lot of love.

Family Story Pic

Family Story Pic


Monday, January 30, 2012

We did. We do. We will.

My husband and I were married on January 30th, 1993. Thinking back over the past 19 years, I'm amazed. We were High School sweethearts and we married at the young age of 21. Statistics say that 60% of marriages between the ages of 20-25 end in divorce. I would venture to guess that we had people place bets against us. In fact, I know they did.

Each year any marriage survives is worthy of a celebration, especially when you consider everything you've been through.

We have four kids ranging in age from 4 to 18, a total of 5 moves within the first 10 years, job changes early on, my return to college, etc...etc....

But the things that come to my mind first are a little different.

Let me give you a few examples:
Our marriage has survived 19 years despite the time that.....

He tied mattresses to the roof of our car with nylon string, which eventually sent them flying across the interstate into the path of an oncoming semi.

I demanded we take our dog to PetSmart, broke my promise about making the dog ride in the cart the whole time and when the dog hiked his leg and peed on a shelf of stuffed toys, I peed my pants laughing and he made me sit on a tarp all the way home.

I was having an allergic reaction and he wouldn't take me to the hospital because the Buckeyes were playing.

I got stranded on the roof of our 2 story house trying to hang icicle lights for Christmas.

He super glued a crack in our toilet seat and didn't tell me before I sat down on the wet glue. Then it dried.

In a moment of panic, I sprayed a fire extinguisher all over our living room when one of my candles broke.

He encouraged me to enter a pizza eating contest because I "could totally win."

I didn't realize the mower blade broke and continued mowing while leaving trenches across the front of our yard.

He tried to roll a partially full water bed mattress down our flight of stairs and out our front door because he got tired of waiting for it to empty. I ended up in front, he lost control, and it chased me outside onto our front yard. I was naked. The neighbors were outside.

I saw a raccoon in our yard but couldn't tell if it was dead or sleeping so I aimed the BB gun out our dining room window and accidentally shot our propane tank.

A few days after the 9/11 tragedy, he bought and filled 6 gas cans and strapped them to the roof of our van in Hilton Head on the advice of someone who informed us that our state was "all out of gas." We drove our bomb all the way home and he actually wondered why everyone was getting out of our way. I'd like to think we're smarter now. Or at the very least, we seek advice from smarter people.

When he sat in the hospital room watching basketball, eating McDonalds and asking me to "try to hold it down" while I was in labor.

He used a bow and arrow to try to shoot a raccoon in our garage but shot through our refrigerator instead.

My addiction to home remedies led him to having to dig a clove of garlic out of an area I think would be best left unspecified.

We took our kids tent camping for the first time, forgot firewood and he tried to use pot holders to gather burning embers from other campsites. He quickly found out that when you run holding burning embers, they burst back into flames. Who knew?

And yesterday at church when he leaned over and informed me that I "ruined Communion" because I started clapping for the piano solo....and I leaned over and told him to bite me.

Welcome to marriage. Crazy? Yes. Hard? Of course! Worth it? Definitely. God brought us together and God doesn't make mistakes. Although I suspect He wonders what He was thinking every now and then.

We beat the odds. We're still beating the odds. And we'll continue to beat the odds.

Because the vows don't say "I DO....for as long as we're still happy together." They say "I DO...until DEATH DO US PART." Granted, much of our marriage might be spent trying not to accidentally kill ourselves, each other, our kids or innocent bystanders, but when you're married to a person who can still give you goosebumps with one look from across a crowded room, you know you can survive anything.....even if that involves him putting a flaming match against my back because he thought he saw a tick on me.

Let's save that story for another time, shall we?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Simplify (This works.)

If you're a busy mom of busy children, one or more of whom is a picky eater, your dinner planning might just be the nightmare that mine used to be. If this applies to you, read on. If not, you might want to skip down to the bottom where I have a yummy recipe posted.

Either way, this is one of my rare blog entries that might actually serve a purpose.

In our house dinner time would sneak up on me and I'd find myself standing at the pantry wondering what meals I had ingredients for and would resort to throwing the same old things together. Besides the stress of waiting for frozen solid meat to thaw last minute, I'd have Z following me around the kitchen saying, "Yuck! Why are we having that again?!?" (Sigh)

So last month when I was finding things in my life to simplify, I was struck with an idea. I listed every single meal I make and came up with 31. I know that sounds like a lot, but I bet you'd be surprised if you actually started listing everything you cook from soups right down to grilled cheese sandwiches and good old trusty hot dogs.

Then I assigned a meal to each day of the month. To the best of my ability, I scheduled meals Z doesn't like the day after meals he does like so that he could have the leftovers for that meal.

Obviously, you have to allow for change. Holidays, going out to eat, etc.... You either plan ahead for those occasions and either skip buying the ingredients for that meal or you just carry over the ingredients until the following month if you've already been to the grocery.

And speaking of grocery, my next step was to divide the month into 4 sections. The 1st-8th, 9th-16th, 17th-24th and 25th-31. Then I created 4 separate grocery lists that include every ingredient needed for each of those meals including the main course and all side dishes. So at the beginning of each week, all I have to do is print off that weeks grocery list, and voila.

I realize this sounds like a lot of work at first. But once you get the details on paper, or in my case in my trusty Smart Phone, it's low maintenance and care free. And now that I'm 40, I realize how important those 2 qualities are in every area of my life.

We're on Day 19 of this new system and I have yet to find a flaw in it. I know beforehand if something needs thawed from the freezer. I know I have all the ingredients. And finally, and best of all, Z no longer asks what's for dinner. He simply checks out the chart and his OCD mind is able to accept that we're having that meal because it's that day of the month and not because I'm out to get him.
(He's inherited his father's drama.)

Finally, in my search for something to do with all of our leftover holiday ham, I stumbled upon this recipe for Ham 'n' Cheese Sliders. They are amazing and too good not to share.

Ingredients for Sliders:
24 pre-baked dinner rolls
Swiss Cheese
1/3 Cup of Mayonnaise (I substitute plain fat free yogurt for a healthier option)
1/3 Cup of Miracle Whip Lite

What to do:
1. Mix the Mayo (or yogurt) together with the Miracle Whip
2. Cut each roll in half, lather the mixture onto each half of the roll and add the ham and cheese.
3. Place the sliders close together in a large brownie pan.
4. Set aside while you make the sauce.

Ingredients for Sauce:
1 TBS. Poppy Seeds (Optional)
1 TBS. Yellow Mustard
1/2 Cup melted Butter (I use the Brummel & Brown for a healthier option)
1 TBS. minced onion (Optional)
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce

What to do:
1. Whisk together all of the ingredients.
2. Pour evenly over the top of the sliders.
3. Let sit 10 minutes or until the butter starts to set.
4. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
5. Uncover and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Serve warm and enjoy.

Below is my monthly list of meals. Feel free to use it as reference or reminder of the meals you might make or if you're just morbidly curious about what we're eating for dinner tonight. But my main goal for including it is as a safety net for myself in case I ever lose my phone or drop it in the dogs water....again. I'd be completely screwed.

1st: Cube Steaks
2nd: Potato Soup
3rd: Chicken Tacos
4th: Spaghetti
5th: Chicken Breast
6th: Roast
7th: Vegetable Soup
8th: Tacos
9th: Chicken Pot Pie
10th: Fettuccine Alfredo
11th: Hamburgers
12th: Chicken Noodle Soup
13th: Walking Tacos
14th: Chicken Cordon Bleu
15th: Lasagna
16th: Beef Stew
17th: Chicken/Broccoli over Rice
18th: Pancakes
19th: Chicken 'n' Noodles
20th: Enchiladas (Chicken, Beef or Cheese)
21st: Hot Dogs
22nd: Subs
23rd: Chili
24th: Grilled Cheese
25th: Sloppy Jo's
26th: Steak
27th: Steak Napoleon (Using leftover steak)
28th: Pizza (Homemade or frozen)
29th: Pork Steaks/Rice and Gravy
30th: Ham 'n' Cheese Sliders
31st: Goulash

Monday, January 2, 2012

Shake that thang....

When I look back at an old year, I imagine an Etch A Sketch full of lines and designs. Some of them are beautiful images that I cherish. Some of them are messy lines left by others that I'd rather forget.

By nature, I'm not a huge fan of change. But this year especially, God had ways of helping me transition into new phases of life. Unfortunately, those ways included miserable and sometimes humiliating circumstances that subsequently led me to actually crave the very change I once was dreading.

For instance....the night before I turned 40 began with a giant argument between my husband and son that led to a long drive with our dogs that included a stop at a friend's house, whom I hadn't seen in many years, who innocently brought her dog outside with her to greet us which ended with me standing outside her house trying to hold a normal conversation while our mini-van rocked back and forth with the sounds of our dogs ferociously attacking the windows while our daughters screamed and my husband periodically yelled "KNOCK IT OFF!"

As if that weren't bad enough, I arrived home to find red Kool-Aid dribbled across our beige colored Rec Room carpet and as I hauled out our carpet cleaning machine, my husband half-heartedly said, "I'll do it" but then remained in the bed under the covers watching football. Thanks for the offer.

I got the carpet cleaned and loudly announced that I was crawling into bed with my library book for the remainder of my 39th year of life on this earth and that I wasn't getting up until I turned 40. Ten minutes later, C puked on our sheets. I had to get up. I was still 39. Don't ever tell me that God doesn't have a sense of humor.

Needless to say, I welcomed 40 with open arms.

Remember that "To Do" list I mentioned in my previous post? Well, God gave me my next assignment. At first it didn't seem that hard, but as usual, Satan got involved and stirred up crap that ultimately led to a huge fight with my husband on New Years Eve.

Goodbye 2011. You screwed with me so.

But the beautiful thing about an Etch A Sketch is the ability to shake it clean! Do over! Fresh start! Clean slate! Blank canvas! A new beginning to create new amazing images and lasting memories.

But in order to do that, you've gotta shake off the old. Forgive yourself. Forgive everyone around you. File away the awesome memories you created last year. Leave behind the craziness you'd rather forget. Take note of any negative situations and make the necessary adjustments in an effort to create peace for yourself and your family. And by all means, make a conscious effort to protect your Etch A Sketch.

So welcome to 2012! Now go ahead and shake that thang!!!!