Monday, February 25, 2013

Dinner Craziness

If your life as a mom is anything like mine, planning for dinner has become almost impossible these days.  5:00pm hits and it's the witching hour.  My toddler is having meltdowns, wanting attention and my baby is needing to be held.  Man, what was I complaining about back when I had one baby?  That was a piece of cake.  Having 2 kids under 3 is not twice as hard, it's more like 2 X 2 squared to the infinite power.  I've discussed Meal Planning here with lots of choices for calendars and planner printables for you to plan out your weekly meals.  I miss the meals we received from friends when we had a newborn, it was awesome! 

But how do we manage it ?

Just turn the tv on to babysit them for a few hours.  Just kidding!

Lately, it's become more of a challenge as a mom, and being stressed is not fun as a momma.  The way I've been handling the 5pm hungers with my kids is to feed them early at 5:30pm.  Of course I am starving at this point too so I usually have a snack while they eat.  Then as soon as they are in bed and my husband is home, I get down to the business of cooking for us grown-ups.  I know, I know, family dinners with the WHOLE family are important, but at this stage of the game, not able to happen right now.  My ultimate goal is for them when they are older, is for all of us to sit down at the table and do the Family Dinner like I discussed here.

Whether you are a stay at home mom, or a working mom getting home at 6pm with your kids, the last thing you want to do is slave over a stove.  But something's got to give because making 2 dinners and cooking late, is a lot of work for the evening.  And if you are like me, your only free time is when the kids go to bed and cooking until 9pm is not the best way to spend free time.

I don't want to be a restaurant where I cook several meals.  Like finding some quick toddler food for my 2 year old such as nitrate free hot dogs and frozen veggies, and then turn around and cook a meal for my husband and I, not to mention feeding my baby purees.  That's a lot of work to make 3 meals.

So how do we make things easier on us moms?   Besides going the fast food and delivery route?

My goal is to have my toddler eat what we are eating, but kind of hard to do when I don't have the time to make dinner so early.  So here is what I've come up with the past few weeks, and if you have any other helpful suggestions, please let me know.

1) Crock Pot!!  Yes, this is the fastest and easiest way, especially for working moms who can throw it together in the morning, and then walk in the door and plop the food on a plate and it's done!  I have found some great recipes on Pinterest or just googling crock-pot or slow cooker recipes.  I finally found a good one the other day that involved chicken that was NOT shredded like most and it's Weight Watchers friendly.  It's Jerk Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Pineapple, yum, although I would hold some of the spice for your kids.  And when you go the crock pot route, then you don't have to slave over the stove at the end of the night and you can finally put your feet up and rest, well, at least for a few minutes before you have to get up and do the laundry and clean :)

2) Left Overs: When I cook, I try to make large portions of things that are great re-heated like lasagna, and that way I can open the fridge, microwave and my toddler can eat what we eat and call it a day! 

3) Meal Prepping:  Of course, left overs run out and then you have to eventually cook something else.  So I have found that prepping on the weekend can help save time, while you have someone at home to watch the kids.  Or, if you aren't sleep deprived and can do some meal prep during nap times, then go for it.  I am just not there yet, while my baby sleeps like 45 minutes, it's the only time of the day for me to sit down, close my eyes and not hear a baby crying.  Because she is STILL not sleeping through the night, like up every 3 hours, the last thing I can handle is standing up in the kitchen working when I can barely keep my eyes open from sleepless nights and busy, active toddler chasing during the day :)

So what can help with meal prepping on Sundays?  Drum roll..... I found an AWESOME MEAL PLANNER, Pepperplate!:  It's a cool, free, website where you can import recipes by either entering the URL or manually entering.  You can also install the bookmark on your bookmark toolbar like Pinterest has, and can pin recipes from the internet into it.  It's so amazing!  When you enter the URL, it imports it exactly and includes pictures and everything. 

And you can add recipes to their calendar for your meal prepping that week.  They also have the Shopping List option where you can add things to your list and then use it with your cell phone or tablet to take with you to the store.  Another cool function is that it has a Cook Mode for your phone or iPad/nook where it prevents your screen from dimming on your device while you are reading it in the kitchen.  AND, okay, I could go on and on about this site, but you can share recipes with friends and family.  Love that!

As for the planning part, I try to plan meals on Sunday and sometimes chop veggies (or buy them pre-chopped at the store) and store them for the upcoming week.  I try to make a big dish on Sundays too like enchiladas or lasagna that can last 2-3 meals.   I also freeze some of them so we can have them the next week too.  Then, after the leftovers and crock pot meals are eaten, I will make another big dinner for our family after my husband gets home so we can all eat it the next day and store it again for left overs.  So really, it's only one weeknight I am slaving in the kitchen at night.  

Yes, meal planning takes a lot of work and a lot of planning, but I guess that's what being a mom is all about.  I can only imagine what life was like back in the day before there were microwaves and quick cooking! 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Valentine Crafting

This year Valentine's day was extra special, because now I have not just one precious girl to spoil, but two!  Oh and of course my husband too, but really, once you have kids it's all about them :)  I think my toddler's new favorite holiday is Valentine's day because of all the extra candy and chocolate! 

And to prepare this year for the big event, I decided to give out non-candy Valentine's.  So I searched online for ideas and of course did the Pinterest thing.  And all I have to say about the P site is to not ever let Pinterest scare you as a mom.   Just get on, find what you want and don't obsess  Oh, and don't ever think you aren't doing enough as the perfect crafty momma that you see scattered across those pages.  No one has that much time on their hands to do all of those homemade things or mom projects.  If your crazy life as a parent is anything like mine, your only free time is when the kids go to bed and then it's a rush to get everything done and be in bed by 12am... Ok I digress...

So I finally decided on a pretty easy Valentine, Crayon Hearts!  (and my friend Erin made these last year and were a big hit at our house :)  I figured my daughter would love make them with me as a fun mom and daughter project too, as crayons are her favorite art medium these days.  Here are the step by steps that I put together from several recipe sites in case you are interested:

1) First buy or get together a bunch of crayons and put them in a bowl of hot water.  This helps get the paper wrappers off really fast.  See how that pink one is already peeling off? 

2) Then decide on what color hearts you want and break them into pieces to fit into a heart shaped mold.  I first bought a silicone heart shape by Wilton and it make extra deep crayons, but then it started getting this white filmy stuff on it and would not come off!  If anyone has experience baking with silicone, please let me know how to get that white stuff off.

So I bought a metal woopie pie mold and it worked great.  Make sure you first spray with cooking spray in each tin before you put the crayons in them.  I decided to color coordinate with all pinks/reds together, purples/blues, yellows/greens, etc. 

3) Bake them in a 250 degreed oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until melted.  Don't overcook them.  Remove from oven and let them cool for about an hour before trying to pop them out.  Once cool, use a butter knife to pop them out.  You can see the difference in the molds below.  The one on the left (blue) is in the woopie pie pan and the one on the right is the one from the silicon pan.

4) Then put them in little treat bags and attach your own saying (I have a few suggestions below).  I ordered some stickers awhile back from Etsy with my child's name on it before I decided on what we were going to hand out, but they worked out really well! 

I also used a few printables and stapled them onto the treat bags:

Here are a few cute sayings you can make for your heart valentines: 

"You Make My Heart Melt" ( you can even glue the crayon heart onto this free printable card)
"You Color My World" and click here for a link for a free printable
"Color Your Heart Out"

We had so much fun at her school's Valentine party that day.  The teachers had the kids decorate shoe boxes that we put the Valentines inside and then they had a few games to play like Conversation Heart color sorting.  We can't wait for next year!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I've been working really hard at my choice giving techniques that I talked about here, but the one thing I have struggled with has been using the word 'choice' when I give them to my daughter.  Or maybe struggled isn't the best word, it's more like I have forgotten to use the word 'choice' in my choice giving.

For instance, yesterday it went down like this:

"Do you want mommy to put you to bed, or do you want daddy?"  I thought I was giving her a choice.

My toddler continued to run around the room acting as if she didn't hear me.

So I realized I had once again NOT given my child a choice.  Without using the word, "choice" in there, I was not really giving her a real choice.  And we all know how much easier life is in a home with toddlers when you give them choices.  It makes them feel empowered and it makes them more likely to comply without a huge power struggle.

So I quickly said, "You can choose for mommy to put you to bed or you can choose daddy, who do you choose?" and she quickly said, "mommy!" and ran down to her room to go to bed!

Amazing huh?

That little word makes all the difference.

If you aren't giving your children 2 (or more) choices by using the word "choice" in there, then you aren't really giving your child a choice.

It's sooo easy to forget, as I find myself saying, "do you want to..." instead of "do you choose to?..."  But it makes all the difference. 

I know, I know, I'm being super technical here, but it really does make a difference.  Try your own little experiment at home and see how much more likely they are to comply when you use that magic word and let us know :)

Sunday, February 10, 2013


"What's most important may not be what you do, but what you do after what you did!"

I recently came across this old quote from the play therapy master, Gary Landreth, and had to pass on it's greatness.

What exactly does it mean, you ask?

We ALL make mistakes with our kids, but it's how we handle our mistakes that makes the difference.  Some of the most meaningful moments with our children can be when we are recovering from our mistakes :) 
Monday, February 4, 2013

Wonder Weeks

Have you ever heard of the Wonder Weeks?  It's actually a title to a book The Wonder Weeks (19$ on Amazon) written by developmental psychologist Hetty van de Rijt.  It discusses certain developmental weeks that your baby/toddler goes through that can cause fussiness, crying and clinging.  You can also read about it online at

The Wonder Weeks (WW) are at 5, 8, 12, 19, 26, 37, 46, 55, 64 and 75 weeks.

My baby has been crazy with not sleeping, or maybe it's me that's been crazy.  So much so, that I have had to pull her into bed with me the past few nights as it's the only way she will sleep.  I looked up my baby's WW in the book and she is at now at the 37 week mark.