by S. Carter Studios

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How much drama can one dinner-time hold? A 3 year-old demonstration


My friends with girls have bemoaned the fact that their 3-4 year old girls are dramatic. I think it's just the age. 


My dear first-born has learned the art of the fake cry, complete with big ol' tears and convincing "a-HEH! a-HEH!" sobbing. Though I am usually pretty compassionate when it comes to my kids crying, sometimes the fake-drama just gets old.

For example, tonight at dinner Micah cried because:

...we asked him what he liked at the pet store today (somehow this question produced intense anger)

...because he wanted cheetos ("not until you finish your sandwich")

...because he wanted a kitten (like we saw at the pet store)

...because he wants a BB gun (no, son)

...because he put all his kool-aid in his mouth at once, swished it around, thereby inducing a fit of coughing, and spewed kool-aid all over his shirt and food.

...because mommy yelled at him for spewing kool-aid everywhere (ok, I am guilty on this account)

...because his food was wet.

...because he wanted cheetos

...because he wanted a kitten

....because mommy would not let him have cheetos until he ate his sandwich

...because his food was wet

...because Brother had cheetos (Brother ate his food)

....because the cheeto mascot reminded him of a toy he lost at Kids Cove 3 weeks ago

....because his food was wet and he WANTED CHEETOS!

Finally, he decided to eat his food. And he got a small handful of cheetos.

Holy crap. D.R.A.M.A.

Dinner and a show, right?

Yeah, right.

Meng Menu


Saturday: Roasted Pork Loin, roasted potatoes, steamed broccoli
Sunday: Chicken wraps/sandwiches, chips, fruit salad
Monday: Sloppy Joes, green bean casserole, baked fries, blueberry pie (Aaron's annual requested birthday dinner!)
Tuesday: Frozen meal (thank you, Birdseye Garlic Chicken w/ veggies)
Wednesday: Homemade Clam Chowder, salad, French bread
Friday: Egg and cheese puffs, toasted French bread, fruit salad 

Back on track with the grocery budget this week: total = $116, including Pantene shampoo and conditioner, and dishwasher detergent. YES!

It's a birthday week for us! Aaron turns 28 and his favorite meal is still sloppy joe's. We eat sloppy joe's frequently anyways so to make this b-day meal special, I am making a blueberry pie--his favorite. I'm taking some help from the store for the filling but I am going to make the crust. 

It is finally getting cooler so I am breaking out our favorite soup recipes again. This week it's clam chowder, one of our all time favorites! Bacon, canned clams, potatoes, onions, and light cream make this a winner. Paired with homemade french bread (my recipe above) and Wednesday should be an awesome meal! Yum!

What are some of your favorite cool weather soups or recipes? 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Four-year-old photographer: What I did while Mommy made puppets

Hi! My name is Micah and I am almost 4 years old. I really like Mommy's cool camera and today I took pictures of the things I like while Mommy sewed the puppets!
 Here is my Mommy! I like her a lot. When I took this picture I said, "Aww, that's so cute!" 
 This is our fireplace. I helped Daddy make a fire on Saturday. I really like fire. 
 This is a log. We burn logs in our fireplace.
These are my feet! Mommy drew them and I took a picture. Cool, huh?
 Mommy is using the glue gun to glue my chicken's face. I really wanted to use the glue gun. Really. A lot. But Mommy said no. :( :( :(
 This is my red car. It goes by itself. It has batteries. Today I made it go into Mommy's feet while she did the dishes. It was so funny that I did it about 12 times in a row.
I love cars. 
 See Mommy's eye? She is giving a puppet show! 
Ok, Mommy took this last picture, at my brother's request. These are Benji's favorite cars. 

I took more pictures but Mommy deleted them because they were mostly super-close blurry versions of my Thomas the Train, cars, or pictures of the TV (I wanted to take a picture of Walle on TV but it didn't turn out).
I love taking pictures! Mommy thinks I might have an eye for it! :) 

Kids Crafts: Felt Puppets (A Tutorial)

A week ago we went to the library and played with their wide assortment of puppets. I had so much fun carrying on a conversation with a giraffe, astronaut and little girl (with Micah) that I wanted to try my hand at making some puppets to play with at home. 

Want to make your own? 
Here's what to do!
Supplies:
Wide assortment of felt pieces
Paper
Marker
Scissors
Glue gun (or tacky glue)
Sewing machine

First, trace around your hand imagining your three middle fingers as the head and your pinky and thumb as arms. Be sure to leave a wide opening at the bottom for the hand to slip in and out easily. 
Fold paper in half and cut out to ensure a symmetrical puppet pattern. 

Fold your pattern in half and pin to your felt. Cut two. 
Decide what animal you what your puppet to be and cut out face shapes: eyes, ears, nose, mouth (you get the picture). This little guy is a LION so he has a bright orange and yellow mane! 
Hot glue the face on (or use tacky glue if you don't have a glue gun. Elmer's is too thin to really grip the felt so use a thicker glue. Wait a few hours (or over night) to enjoy your puppet if you don't use hot glue)
All glued!
 Pin the mane. This may be a bit tricky if you cut your mane out of a straight piece of felt like I did--it works though!
Lots o' pins! 
Pin the ears on too. I put a fold in the ears to given them a little 3D body. 
I used a straight stitch for the body and then switched to a zig-zag for around the head. 
Since there is no turning in this project (I didn't want to lose any volume in the puppet by turning it), sew really close to the edge. 
The zigzag stitch gives a little extra detail to the head (especially for the lion's mane!) and it helps grip all those pieces you are trying to sew together. 
After you are done sewing, check your seams to be sure that you caught both the back and the front. I had to sew around the head again. 
Yea! Your lion is done! Let's play! 
(Micah took this picture! Pretty good for an almost-four-year-old, right?)
My sweet Micah with his lion.
(We just can't time the smile with the camera click. Oh well.)
A puppet is a good TV watching buddy
Benji with the Lion
But one puppet isn't enough! We made a chicken too! (At Micah's specific request! And this is another one of his pictures too! I think the kid has an eye for this sort of thing...)
Micah captured a crazy moment with Mommy and the chicken. 
(Yes, it does look a bit like a turkey. But he picked out the colors. Go figure. It is a nice, brown chicken)
Have a puppet show over the back of your couch! 
(Let's hope the Lion and the Chicken don't realize they are on opposite ends of the food chain. Right now, when asked, both Lion and Chicken state that they eat "seeds." Though, there is a different, more hilarious, answer in the video below)
Yea for PUPPETS! Go ahead and make your own! 
video
The best part of this short video is Micah's answer when asked, "What do chickens eat?" LOL

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Meng Menu + Mexican Fajita Casserole Recipe


Saturday: Hot Dogs, pretzels, jello salad
Sunday: Cheesy Italian chicken and pasta with spinach
Monday: Mexican Fajita casserole (RECIPE!)
Tuesday: Frozen Chicken Alfredo meal (thank you freezer section), salad
Wednesday: Pan seared pork chops, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli w/ garlic butter
Thursday: Soft Tacos, refried beans
Friday: Bierocks, salad (had left over meat from last week!)

I did not stay in budget this week. Pooh. Total was $138. BUT, in my defense, I spent almost $30 in non-food items (deodorant, foundation, trash bags, upholstery cleaner, etc, etc.). So...ya win some, ya lose some. 

I feel like I might have to defend how many times "Hot dogs" are on our menu--lol! Here's why: Aaron really likes hot dogs and so do the boys. I do too (not as in-love as the men in my family though). I feel like I try to "redeem" the hot dogs by buying the Hebrew National reduced fat ones. And they were on sale this week. Score. 

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I am always trying to think of something easy and fast  because I am exhausted after work and don't want to cook. This week I have a frozen meal (Stouffer's I think) for Tuesday and then I am going to pre-cook the taco meat and get all the fixin's ready on Wednesday night so dinner will be easy for Thursday night. 

Oh! And the bierocks were a HUGE success! They were so yummy! In fact, I had planned to eat them for two meals last week and we ate so many (lunches) that there weren't enough for dinner. So we ended up eating out on Friday night. No complaints there. :) But I did have leftover meat to make more so I am going to make some more dough and make more for Friday night.

Here is the Recipe for the Mexican Fajita casserole.  I made this a lot when we first got married and we got a little burnt out on it. But I think that it is time to bring this recipe out of retirement. (do you have recipes like that? Used to be a favorite and you made it so much that it got boring? I'm excited to make this one again! It's a winner.)

Mexican Fajita Casserole 

Ingredients:

2 Cups cooked rice
1-2 TBS olive oil
1 red pepper, cut into short strips
1 green pepper, ditto above
1 small red onion, ditto
minced garlic to taste (I love me some garlic)
Salt and pepper
Chili powder, to taste
Cumin, to taste
2 medium chicken breasts, cut into cubes
Cream of Mushroom soup
1/4 cup milk 
2 cups Cheddar or Mexican blend cheese 

Make it:

Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add peppers and onions and saute until tender-crisp. Add garlic. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from skillet and keep warm. 

Add a bit more olive oil to skillet. Add cubed chicken and salt and pepper to taste. Add chili power and cumin to taste. Add any other herbs that you think will taste delish in this dish (a little oregano? hot red pepper flakes? Go for it!) Brown chicken on all sides, about 5 minutes (you don't want to cook it too much because the casserole is going into the oven). 

Add peppers and onions back into skillet. Add Mushroom soup and milk. Cook until bubbly and then remove from heat. 

Assemble it:

In a two quart casserole dish, layer rice, chicken mixture, cheese. Repeat and end with cheese on top. Bake in a 375 oven for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly browned on top. 

Cool slightly and serve! 

This makes a ton of food. It will easily serve 6-8 hungry adults and it is really good left over. 

Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Encouragement for Discouraged Moms

Lately I have been so discouraged as a mom--like in "the depths of despair" to borrow the emotionally ridden sediments of Anne Shirley. And by depths of despair I mean "downright depressed" some days.

Because motherhood often seems like running on a hamster wheel--I run and run and run as fast as I can and I feel like I don't get anywhere. The boys still disobey, the laundry is still overflowing, the whining never stops, the kitchen table is still sticky, and the sink is still overflowing with dishes. There is no getting ahead, no moving forward. It seems.

Contrasted with going to work--where I get the emails answered, I see my students "getting it," I see the syllabus getting accomplished for the semester--the hamster wheel seems unbearable at times.

Just being honest.

So, there have been lots of tears, lots of questioning, lots of soul-searching, lots of praying. And do you know what? God really does give comfort when we are in "despair."

Here is some of the comfort I have received just this week about being a mom.

A great conversation with my friend Debbie who encouraged me not to "put so much pressure on myself" to be perfect.
A listening ear from my BFF Candace who, though she is single and has no children, is always a comfort to me
A wonderful FB chat with my sister Kalina who, though she is a single mom, gives me such a good perspective about being thankful for what I have
A deep conversation with my husband, Aaron, who listens to my doubts and identity-crisis-blathering and still tells me "I love you"
And a host of timely internet articles that have brought tears to my eyes with their honest, refreshing wisdom about being a mother of small children.

Here they are if you need some encouragement yourself:

Feeling Invisible? I do at times. This article gave me some beautiful perspective 
I judged this article before I read it (thought it was going to be super-spiritual jargon) but I was wrong: Motherhood as a Mission Field
And finally, Will you Survive Motherhood? Sometimes I wonder. But I think the answer is yes.

But I want to do more than just survive. I want to thrive--find joy.

And God knows, his joy is my strength. And that strength, just a little bit, came in the form of playgroup conversations, Facebook chats, and online articles.

Just what I needed to peek over the top of those "depths of despair" and realize that motherhood can be, well, fun. :)

PS. Here is a small picture of the fun morning I had with my almost four year olds:  We watched "The Lion and the Woodchip" (aka The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) this morning. Then we took Aaron lunch, went to the library, grocery store, made cookies and had a picnic lunch in the living room.  And I kept my cool the whole morning--no crazy, screamy mommy! Plus, while the boys have been sleeping, I helped two students revise their papers (over email) and posted final grades for a class I taught earlier in the semester. Overall, it's been a great day. Thank God! :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Meng Menu


Saturday: Hot dogs, baked fries, carrot sticks
Sunday: Bierocks, greek salad
Monday: Roasted Whole chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans
Tuesday: Leftover bierocks, fruit salad
Wednesday: Spinach cheese roll ups, caeser salad
Thursday: Candace bringing dinner
Friday: Sloppy Joes, baked beans, corn

Grocery shopping success! Total = $116 and I bought a bunch of extra non-food items (mascara, potato peeler, gum, etc) too! YEA! I love being under budget AND excited about yummy food for the week!

So, you maybe be wondering, what the heck are "bierocks"? They are German thing. And a Kansas thing actually. I had them as a kid--a family friend shared them with us, though I am also German (Maiden name "Arpke") and from Kansas (WOOT!) Apparently, as I read online (who knows how accurate the source was though) German immigrants brought bierocks over to Kansas. 

So back to the "what-the-heck-are-they" question? They are kinda like the original hot pocket--a sweet dough wrapped around beef, cabbage, onion, and cheese mixture. I am not a huge cabbage fan but I really like it in these. I am going to tweak the allrecipes recipe (above) and add a few other goodies. I hope they turn out! As I recall, they are delicious left over and the recipe makes a ton so we are having them two nights this week. Like I said, I hope they turn out! I am going to make my own dough from the calzone recipe--with a little extra honey thrown in for sweetness. 

Plus, tomorrow I am super excited for Sunday Breakfast--I'm making Egg and cheese puffs and cinnamon rolls (wack-a-can. Love 'em). My BFF Candace is coming over for breakfast and then to church with us. AND we are going to go see "The Help" tomorrow afternoon! Should be an awesome day! 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Meng Menu + Fried Rice Recipe


Saturday: Homemade Eggrolls (never made these before! Excited!), Raman noodles (kickin' it old school!)
Sunday: Fried Rice w/ pork and asian veggies (Recipe below!)
Monday: Hot dogs, chips, corn on the cob (Happy Labor Day!)
Tuesday: Sloppy Joes, baked fries, carrot sticks
Wednesday: Calzones, salad
Thursday: Parent Night at Preschool (out to eat)
Friday: Chicken Pot Pie

Grocery shopping victory!

I spent $106 today which included pull-ups AND sherbet AND cake mix (those little extras!) YES! Plus I wanted to try to cook something new this week (eggrolls) and I bought  a lot of fancy-schmancy ingredients (can you say "oyster sauce"?) to make them and I STILL didn't break the bank! YEA!

See? you don't always have to deprive yourself of treats or cooking new things to stay on a budget. You just have to cook smart--like I am making Calzones two weeks in a row because I have most of the ingredients leftover. Plus they are yummy! Want to make your own? Here is the recipe!

And here is another recipe:

Fried Rice
Serves 4-6 (big portions)

This recipe is a great way to use up leftovers, it is quick, tasty, figure friendly (despite the name "Fried Rice" there is very little oil in this recipe), and kids love it--and so will you!

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked rice (make extra one night and this recipe will go even quicker!)
2 cups diced cooked meat (I have used left over pork loin but chicken, steak, or shrimp would be great too!
1 egg
1-2 TBS vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil (I have this on hand but you could leave it out if you don't have it. It adds a wonderful asian flavor in the background though)
Frozen asian veggie medley OR leftover veggies in fridge (green beans, carrots, broccoli, whatever!)
2 green onions, greens diced
1 tsp minced garlic (or to taste)
Powdered ginger (to taste)
Ground mustard (to taste)
Hot sauce or red pepper (to taste)
2-3 TBS + one dash soy sauce (or to taste)

Make it:

Heat large (as big as you've got) skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray when hot.

Scramble egg with one dash of soy sauce. Pour in hot skillet and scramble with a wooden spoon until cooked and resembles little crumbles/ribbons. Egg will cook quickly! Remove from skillet.

Add vegetable and sesame oil to skillet. Throw in frozen veggies and toss to coat.  Add 1/4 cup water and bring to boil. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until tender. Add garlic.

Add meat, green onions and egg back into skillet (if using leftover veggies, simply heat oil and throw veggies in with meat, etc). Stir frequently until warmed through.

Add rice (if using cold leftover rice, warm in microwave until warm/hot before adding). Before you stir in the rice into the veggies/meat, add soy sauce, ginger, ground mustard, pepper on top. Stir everything in and heat through.

Serve!

My husband and kids love this--and so do I! You will too!

Friday, September 2, 2011

BAM Diapers: Blue and Pink!

Introducing NEW COLORS for BAM diapers....
 ....for your baby boy or your baby girl.
 Royal blue for your little man--you don't get much more "boy" than this blue!
 Powder pink for your little lady
(I am in love with how sweet this pink diaper is. Maybe it is because I don't have any girls. But seriously! How perfect is this for your sweet and soft baby girl?)
 The BAM Diaper has a unique tri-fold soaker of bamboo fleece and cotton. 
Sewn in at one end....
 ....yet free at the other end, this soaker is super-absorbent yet is able to unfold in the wash to get extra clean. 
Plus, this all-in-one diaper dries in one drier cycle.
Even better? There is no stuffing involved!

Want more color options for your baby? 
 
Sunshine yellow is available 
as well as Aqua Blue

Send me an email (bmeng@liberty.edu) or FB message (Search: BAM Cloth Diapers) if you would like to order a BAM diaper or BAM cover (prefect for prefolds!)
Sizes: 
Small = 10-20 lbs
Medium = 20-30 lbs 

Prices:
AIO diaper: $16 each
Cover:  $10

Kid Crafts: Crayon Creations

One of the blogs I follow posted this fun project earlier this week and I knew that I had to try making some fun Crayon Creations with the boys.

Supplies: 
Crayons (I used our less-than-awesome RoseArt Crayons)
Knife
Paper (thicker works better--we used marker/paint paper from an art pad)
Paper towels 
Iron
(This is definitely a mommy-needs-to-help craft)
First, peel back some paper from the end of the crayon and carve some shavings with the knife. The boys picked out the colors and I did the shaven'! 
Next, fold the paper in half and sprinkle some crayon shavings on one side
Fold the paper 
 Lay a paper towel under the paper (on the counter) and place a folded paper towel on top 
Iron over the paper towel for 20 seconds (I had the iron heated to Cotton/no steam) rubbing back and forth along the paper
Open your paper up and enjoy your Crayon Creation! 
Let dry in a cool place.
Benji helped me make a few but I didn't get any pics with him. 
Here is one of Micah's
Micah took this picture! 
The boys assigned "bugs" to all of them: "That one looks like a Butterfly/Caterpillar/Beetle/Etc"
Proudly display your Crayon Creations! Each one is so unique and pretty! 

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