BAM Family

BAM Family

Monday, February 28, 2011

Menu Monday

So, I wrote my menu on Saturday when I went shopping but I have been really sick this weekend. I am feeling a bit better today so I thought I would share our menu for this week:

Saturday: Homemade Supreme Pizza
Sunday: Soup and Sandwiches
Monday: Salmon Cakes, cheese grits, steamed broccoli
Tuesday: Spinach Lasagna Rolls, Salad
Wednesday: Chicken, rice, carrots/green beans
Thursday: Chicken Fajita Casserole
Friday: Italian Sausage in buns, chips, jello salad

Grocery shopping went pretty well this week. We spend $145 (including $27 savings with Kroger card and coupons); that final tally also included pull-ups, $10 facial lotion, laundry detergent, dishwasher soap, and deodorant. Not bad, huh?

Pants for skinny kids: How to make faux "adjustable" waist jeans

Fact: My kids are super skinny. 

At 3 years old, they are both under 30 lbs (M--26; B--23). Yep, SUPER skinny. I have a hard time finding pants that fit them in the waist, even pants that have all elastic or even partial elastic like the khakis below. I was forever rolling the waistband down to "help" the pants fit. Eh...yeah that doesn't really work. Benji would start running with one hand on his hiney to hike his pants up. Poor kid.
 I needed a solution. I love the adjustable waist pants that you can buy from Target but they are $20 a pop. Um, yeah I can't really afford to load up each boy with a minimum of 3 pairs each. OUCH! So here is my simple solution: a faux "adjustable" waist pant. Here is what I did:
 I took a short ( 2 inch-ish) piece of 1 inch wide elastic and sewed it (zig-zag stitch back and forth a few times) to about two inches away from the side seam. Then I pinched a bit of the material in the middle and sewed the other side of the elastic about two inches away from the other side. Repeat on both sides. DONE!
 A top view
Both sides done.
I have done this little fix to about 6 pairs of the boys' pants and now they can wear them without the hiney-hike that we had goin' on before. This is so simple and it WORKS! Hope this helps other mamas out there with super skinny kiddos! 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Felt Food: Sandwiches!

What's for lunch at the Meng's house today? Sandwiches, of course!
 Two slices of "bread"
(I actually traced around an actually piece of bread to make this pattern. In retrospect, I think the "bumps" on the top of the bread need to be bigger. I then cut a long strip of "crust" about 1" by 20" and sewed carefully around the slice)
 Grilled Cheese, anyone? Benji says, "Yes PLEASE!" 
(The cheese slice is just two squares of felt sewed together. No turning. Cut, sew, done!)
 Cheese not your thing? How about PBJ? Micah says "YES MOMMY!"
(The peanut butter and jelly are just a random amoeba shapes sewed around the edge with a few stitched embellishments in the center.)
 Yummy PBJ!
Delicious Grilled Cheese!

Have a great lunch today!!! 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Homemade Toys: "Mr. Potato Head" Flannel-graph

I had a moment of crafty inspiration today: a flannel-graph toy! I had a ton of felt left over from making Christmas ornaments. Here is how I made this easy no-sew toy. 
 I cut up a cardboard box and glued some white felt as a background. Then I glued a "face" shape on. Next, I went nuts and cut up lots and lots of eyes, noses, mouths, hair, hats, etc. 
 I wish I had gotten some pictures of the boys playing with them. It was so cute. The eyes were up by the forehead and the ears (below) were practically on top of the head. I love the three-year-old way they see the world. 
All the pieces are kept in a plastic bag though I am thinking of making a fabric pouch on the back of the cardboard to keep all the pieces in. 

I thought about calling this toy "Funny Face" but Micah said "It's Potato Head!" (from Toy Story. We don't own the toy) as soon as he saw it. So, "Mr. Potato Head" it is! 

Have fun making your own! This is such an easy, cheap toy with so much imaginative possibilities. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Little Sickies

Last week, the boys caught "the sickness" that is going around Lynchburg and pretty much the whole USA in general. I think it is called the February mully-grubs.

For three days, Benji had a fever plus runny nose, runny eyes, junky cough and generally just feeling awful. As soon as he was starting to feel better--yep, you guessed it--Micah caught it and was feverish for 3 days. So for six days we are laid up in the house. Poor babies.

Aaron and I didn't catch it but have been fighting off cold symptoms. I will be so glad when going-through-a-box-of-tissues-every-threee-days season is over. Come on Sunshine! Bring on the Spring weather.
The boys are feeling a lot better now and we have actually gotten to play outside some this week.
 I just had to snap this picture the other day. Micah REALLY doesn't feel well (R) and Benji is continuing to milk it for all its worth. They look so cute and so pitiful. Poor little babes. So glad we are on the mend.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Menu Planning + Recipe

Here is my menu for the week:

Saturday: Sloppy Joes, potato wedges, green beans
Sunday: Leftover Homemade pizza
Monday: Chicken Fajitas, refried beans
Tuesday: Breakfast casserole, jello fruit salad
Wednesday: Pasta Alfredo with broccoli, rolls
Thursday: Baked Potato soup, rolls
Friday: Fried Rice with leftover pork loin, peas and carrots

Grocery shopping went better this week. Aaron actually went with me (my car broke down on Thursday) and provided some accountability for impulse buying. We were really trying to stick to bare-bones shopping because money is so tight right now....and with the car breaking down....::sigh:: I am praying a lot for the Lord's provision.

Thankfully, we only spent $80 on groceries this week--this is including $16 of savings with my Kroger card and a few coupons! I feel really good. Hopefully this savings trend will continue. 

Here is the recipe for the Breakfast Casserole. It is one of my favorites and is super-yummy!

Weekend (or Weeknight!) Breakfast Bake

• 12 oz. pork sausage
• 1/3 cup chopped onion
• 2-3 cups shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
• 8 eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

1. In a large skillet, cook sausage and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
2. Transfer to a greased (believe me, you don't want to forget this step....) 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese.
3. Combine eggs and soup; pour over cheese.
Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting. Yield: 8 servings

This recipe can be made in advance and then just popped in the oven right before dinner. It is also really good leftover.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Type of Eater is YOUR child?

As a mother of small children, I have made some interesting observations lately about my children's eating habits. First I observed that it takes the boys (and kids in general) forever to finish a meal. Why is this, I asked myself? I then began to catalog certain behaviors and patterns that I have seen in recent days. Maybe you will recognize these patterns and behaviors in your own children.

Aside from the ants-in-the-pants-up-and-down-off-the-chair routine, or the irritating won't-eat-anything-mom-puts-on-the-plate shenanigans, I have identified seven different social eating patterns that seem to affect preschoolers everywhere. NOTE: at times, all of these behaviors have been observed in the span of one meal.

The Schmoodler
This is a very scientific term used to describe the child who well, schmoodles his food beyond recognition. The end result is a hash-like substance that is not even fit for the dog. The child who schmoodles his food takes so much joy in burying his corn in the mashed potatoes, shredding his chicken, and squishing peas that he usually forgets to eat.

The Tiny-Bite-Taker
My son, Benjamin, is a tiny-bite-taker. For some reason, his mouth cannot accommodate more than a 1/16 of a teaspoon a food at at time. If I offer him half a fork full of food, it will take him three "bites" to finish it. Seriously, the kid is part mouse. The tiny-bite-taker will often announce that they are "full" before the meal looks like it has even been touched. But they know that they have, in fact, taken 32 "bites" thank-you-very-much!

The Pirate
The pirate is related to both the Schmoolder and the Tiny-bite-taker. The pirate is always looking for "treasure" inside the food. For example, both my boys cannot eat green beans whole. They first must open the green bean, find the actual "bean" part inside and loudly announce that they found "the BOOTY!" (Thank you, dear Husband, for teaching our three-year-old boys the word "booty"). As you can image, it takes a long time to open 24 green beans  in order to find the treasure inside. NOTE: the boys eat "the booty" ( wrong is that?) but leave the "treasure box" (the skin of the bean). Go figure.

The Rockstar
This child randomly breaks into song at the table and often gets joyfully stuck in "broken record" mode. Case A: At breakfast this morning, Micah sang: "SomeWHERE over the rainbow...mumble mumble are bluuuuuue....SomeWHERE over the rainbow....unintelligible randomness are bluuuue!" No one, of course, can deny the super-cuteness of this mealtime routine, but it did, in fact cause mommy to remind him to eat about 17 times.

The Zookeeper
The Zookeeper is more interested in feeding his plastic animals than himself. This child brings a menagerie of beloved toys to the dinner table and is SO attached to them that he CANNOT be parted with them EVEN for ONE MINUTE (!!!!!) The persuasive pleas of the Zookeeper are so convincing that  the parents of the Zookeeper let him keep the plastic eating-delay-ers. The Zookeeper often tries to force food into his animals mouths or "help" them drink milk from the Zookeepers cup. Sometimes the animals even "need" a bath in the milk cup, thus further delaying the eating of the child. For the Zookeeper, feeding animals comes before feeding people.

The Bard
The Bard is related to the Rockstar in that the child with Bard-ish tendencies will randomly break into a very long, very involved, very exciting story while in the middle of the meal. The story involves the child's entire being as he illustrates the tale with wild hand gestures, wide eyes, arched eyebrows, animated vocal interjections (ie. shrieks or screams), and perhaps even standing up in his chair. The Bard also often requires the absolute attention of his audience, thus preventing others from eating (as they are often laughing or choking after laughing).

The Hearty Eater
Though this type of eater is rare among preschool children, occasionally this child will spend a significant amount of time at the dinner table because he is actually (gasp!) eating! The Hearty Eater often asks for seconds or thirds! As mentioned before, this type of behavioral pattern seems to allude preschoolers for the majority of the time but with the right meal, at the right time, with the right amount of persuading, cajoling, and other various bribes, your child, too, can demonstrate characteristics of the Hearty Eater.

Monday, February 7, 2011

We love Candace!

This blog post is in honor of my best friend Candace Freeman aka Aunt Candy. Candace, we love you so much and are so thankful that you are in our lives! You are so dependable, giving, loving, and fun. I can't wait for Thursday, or also known as "Candace Night!"

We love you Aunt Candy! 

Pizza, anyone?

I have been wanting to make some play food for a while. Micah has been playing pretend with blocks and legos, serving us cake and pizza like a gracious little waiter. So, I though I would fuel his imagination with some "real" play pizza! I absolutely love how it turned out!
 First, I traced a small plate on tan felt and cut two circles. I then cut the circles into quarters and then "sliced" up some toppings. We love supreme pizza in our house--though I didn't have any black felt to make some olives (Aaron would have wanted mushrooms too but this is MY pizza so I left them off). 
I hot glued all the toppings on. The pizza could be done here if you didn't have a sewing machine--or if your family prefers thin-n-crispy crust!
We like pan pizza at the Meng household and I wanted to give the play food a a little oopmh by making it three-dimentional. I measured around the outside of the pizza slice (15 inches) and cut a long strip that was one inch wide. I sewed it to the outside of the slice and then sewed a back "slice" on. I left a 2 inch wide opening and turned the pizza. Then I stuffed it with a little bit of polyfil and hand sewed the opening shut. The whole project took about an hour and a half while the boys were napping this afternoon. 
I can't wait for them to wake up and serve me some yummy pizza!
Stay tuned for more play food projects! 
PBJ, anyone?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cheeseburger Soup

This is one of my favorite stretch-a-buck recipes--it makes enough for two meals (family of four) and is great for company. Very kid-friendly! Comfort food at its best. Mmmmm!

1 tbs Olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, shredded
1 tsp dried basil
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 lb lean ground beef
6 cups chicken stock
3 cups frozen hash browns (half the bag-ish)
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
8 oz velveeda cheese (I use 2%), cubed (or 4 oz velveeda and 1 cup shredded cheddar)
1 tbs yellow mustard
1 large scoop sour cream
Salt (seasoning salt is yummy in this!) to taste
Pepper to taste
Optional: dash of hot sauce

Make it!
In a large pot, brown ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Drain fat. Add olive oil to pot and saute onion, carrot, garlic and basil until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Return meat to veggies and add chicken stock.

Cover and bring to a boil. Add hash browns and bring back up to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until hash browns are cooked through.

Melt in cheese. Whisk flour and milk together and add to boiling soup. See how it tastes and add seasonings. I like to add a dash or two of hot sauce at this point. It just adds a little zing in the background. Right before serving, stir in sour cream and mustard. Enjoy!

Serves 6-8

Freezes well!

Menu Planning

Here is my menu plan for the week. I actually get a lot of ideas from other people's menu plans that they post on their blogs so I thought I would return the favor.

Saturday: Bacon, eggs, hash browns, fruit salad
Sunday: Leftover Cheeseburger soup, rolls
Monday: Salmon Cakes, cheese grits, California veggies with cheese
Tuesday: Fried Round Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans
Wednesday: Pork loin, rice, broccoli with garlic butter
Thursday: Chicken Cordon Bleu, roasted potatoes, green beans
Friday: Homemade Pizza, salad

I am still trying to be very budget conscious with my menu plans. Aaron set the budget at $120 this week and with my Kroger card savings and a bunch of coupons that Kroger sent in the mail (Thanks Kroger!) I saved $40 on my groceries this week for a grand total of $111!! YEA! It feels so good to be under budget. Grocery shopping seriously gives me anxiety--before I saw those numbers roll down with the card and coupons I was literally shaking. Isn't that pathetic?

I won't have the extra coupons next week so I will have to be a little more careful. But I did get some special treats this week--cinnamon rolls (online coupon) and some Valentines chocolate. :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"I'm sorry you were funny"

Parents, do you ever laugh when you discipline your children? How about when your spouse is disciplining them? Com' know you have.

The problem at our house is, Micah knows that I am trying not to laugh. And then he laughs too. Which is no. good. Especially when Daddy is doing the disciplining.

Aaron was trying to discipline Micah about not coming when called and about being disrespectful with a good talking to and a few taps on the po-po. Micah was trying hard to keep it together. As in, he was laughing.

Which made Mommy laugh.

Which made Daddy mad.

Aaron (to Micah): What is so silly? What is so silly?
Me (realizing that I am a grown up woman and CANNOT laugh when my husband is disciplining my son. I wipe that smile off my face and try to be serious): Micah, you do not laugh when Daddy is disciplining you. ::try extremely hard to look stern and not snicker::

Micah finally realizes that he has been wrong and laughing is not a good thing when you are getting a spanking.

As usual, we made him say sorry and give hugs. He wrapped his sweet arms around Aaron's neck and uttered this gem:

"I'm sorry you were funny."

Oh yes, he did.

No more holding back the snickers now. More like a big, fat BA-hahaha!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Identity Crisis: Meng Twin Edition

When I was pregnant I knew I was having identical twins. I made vows never to dress them alike and NEVER entertained the idea of naming them with same letter or (gag) RHYMING names! I was determined that even as identical twins, I would raise them to be independent individuals who had a strong sense of self.

However, I had this horrible fear that I wouldn't be able to tell my babies apart--I just knew I would have a moment, hours after we had clipped the hospital id bracelets off, that I would stare at my children and have no idea which one was which. My daydream took on a panicked tone at this point: "Oh no. What if I call them the wrong name? What if I never know which child I am talking to? They will grow up never knowing who they are!!!! AHHH!" (the delusions of a highly hormonal pregnant woman).

 Aaron and I actually joked about tattooing the boys' names on their feet. Half joked.

Well, I didn't have anything to worry about. I never have had trouble telling the boys apart, especially when they were first born (one was red; one was white). I thought that the identity crisis had passed. My boys would grow up with a strong sense of personal identity since I, their mother, could easily call them by the right name 100% of the time.

Well, as every mother with more than one child knows, you never call your child the right name all the time, even if you don't have twins. My children's names often come out "Mi-Benji" or "Benja-Micah" or even "Goldie-Mikie-Benjacah."

But that is just a slip of the tongue. I, of course, as their mother have NO problem knowing which twin is which.

The problem is, the boys don't know which twin is which. Especially Benji, who thinks he and his twin are both named "Benji." He frequently calls for Micah: "Beeeen-jiiii! Beeen-jiii!" to which we reply, "No, Benji, that is Micah." He will then call him by the right name once but will then slip back into his old habits.

After Benji called Micah "Benji" at the library today (and every day for the past....oh, 3 years?) I decided to have an intervention in the car by drilling the boys with this question: "What is your name?" The answers were even more problematic than I thought:

Me: Benji, what is your name? (yes I said, Benji, what is your name. I though I would help the kid out as much as possible)
Benji: My name is Brother.

(Oh. No. We frequently ask the boys to "give such-and-such to Brother" or "Play nice with Brother." We may have to stop this in order to divert this identity crisis.)

I then thought, "I will ask Micah his name. Micah knows his name. Maybe it will point Benji in the right direction.")

Me: Hey, little guy, what is your name? (See? I am getting more tricky with my questions)
Micah: I am a boy.
Me: Yes, honey, you are a boy. But what is your name?
Micah: My name is a Boy.

So there you go. We have one twin who thinks both their names are "Benji" but when asked will say his name is Brother. The other twin thinks his name is "a Boy."

Apparently, the identical twin identity crisis is still alive and well in the Meng household.

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