Don’t Take Now for Granted

Imagine everything in your life being perfect. Your parents are happy, after months/years of fighting to get there, everything just falls into place. They paid off their truck, got the job of their dreams, received their passport, and ordered a sweet new pug dog, all in one magical day. You’re getting the chance to make good money, and doing so in a way that makes you happy. It’s the day before Valentine’s day, and everyone is thinking about dates, but not you. You’re just happy to spend your night watching Degrassi and sleeping with a sweet puppy all while keeping an eye on two sweet kiddos. Not a care in the world, no idea that anything could go wrong. You don’t thank anyone for this great day. It’s just another day, and tomorrow will be even better, you are so sure of this.

Until it’s not. Suddenly your world crumbles. No one will tell you what happened until you beg. Your mother tells you that your other parent has died. You ask how, but you don’t really want to know, because you already do. You pray that it was an accident, but it wasn’t. You don’t know what comes next, but you can never get yesterday back, and you want it. You want to go back and make today impossible, but you just can’t…

Every year around her birthday I can feel the wave of depression fold over me, but I try my best to ignore it all. Today, the emotions are just pouring out. When I woke up and jumped on Facebook I stumbled across two different posts, and both make me ugly cry like I haven’t in apparently not long enough. The stories were sad of course, but it was the underlying message that’s really kicking my emotional butt today.

The message was how easy it is to take what we have for granted. Of course it is though. We don’t know what comes next, we don’t know what others are going through or have been through, and we don’t know what we’ll one day miss either. It’s easy to be envious of others. It’s easy to only see what is now. Most of the time, I’m all for that. Today I just can’t stop thinking, man I miss it. I miss having these incredible people be in my life. I can’t help myself from missing my moms. I can’t help myself from wishing that there was a way to have them here now.

Here’s the thing though, I really have to add a big however to this whole thing. As much as I miss my moms, and as much as I wish they were in my current life, I don’t regret anything. I don’t wish that I could go back and change things, because my life would be very different today. I wouldn’t have met Corey, I wouldn’t have Caleb, and my life wouldn’t be on this incredibly rewarding path. Everything really happens for a reason. Everything. It doesn’t mean you aren’t going to feel pain. It doesn’t mean you won’t be angry or sad. It just means we have to really cherish every single person and thing in our lives, because in the next moment they could be gone. It’s cliched, I know, but it’s so true.

Today I’m going to snuggle Caleb just a little bit tighter. I’m going to make the most of today, and try to remember to thank the people I care about for being in my life more often. I’m going to try to be thankful that I have all of these amazing blessings around. I am so privileged to be alive… but gosh do I miss my mothers.

Free Clothes!!

I can not contain my excitement over this! My friend shared it with me, and now I’m sharing it with all of you. I got seven incredibly nice things for Caleb, as well as n not pictured dress for me, for 55 CENTS. Now, you can do the same for your family!

This company, Schoola, aims to be the new Goodwill. 40% of all sales go directly to schools, and the prices are so low for name brand stuff, that it’s really hard to resist. To start, you can get $40 worth of stuff (that’s off of their prices, it’s really closer to $100 worth of stuff) free.

Here’s The Link! Enjoy Schoola!!

1. All you need to do is sign up, you’ll get $10.00 towards your order, which you’ll automatically get once you check out!
2. After joining you can make a new collection under the collection tab, and as long as you add clothes without the yellow tab you’re good!
3. You’ll need to spend so much in order to get free shipping, but if you check your email you’ll also get an extra 25% off, and clicking my link will get you and me an extra $20!
(plus shipping is free right now 1/26/16)
4. After placing your first order, you’ll be directed to your OWN page with your OWN LINK, so you as well can share this opportunity to receive $20 in credit!
5. Enjoy your new clothes!!

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The Trap of Social Media

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When Caleb was first born, I realized quickly that making friends became a thousand times harder as a parent. I didn’t have consistent transportation to meet up with people, and couldn’t always drag my little infant out of the house with me. I made the best of it for a while, but soon felt lonely despite having my best friends and favorite person in the entire world be with me 24/7. That’s when I made the mistake of turning to Facebook for my social life.

The first step into the rabbit hole was to search “mom groups” and join every single one of them that I could find. It was an instant connection between parents, and a rush for me. I didn’t have to leave my couch to have a conversation, and these were the things I wanted to talk about anyway. All was well at first…

Not to long after I entered this crazy Underland did I realize the drama encompassed by it. Mommy wars, people putting each other down for their ignorance, and the bonds made and broken through it all. I was swept up, and felt like if there were people out there who didn’t know what I know, I had to be the one to inform them, and if not I would be the one to tell them they were wrong.

It became this cycle of logging on, finding a fight, and spending far too much time upsetting myself over things that I had no pull on. Corey would come home from work, I’d be all roweled up from the day, and he’d have to talk me down. “Hun, they live across the states, you’re wasting your time.” Gosh he was right. I didn’t want to hear it at first. I really thought that somehow I was doing the right thing, and at least I wasn’t lonely.

Till one day where my private online world began to enter my all too public life. Someone I had fought with went to my personal Facebook page, and they found out I owned a business. It was just a little crochet business, and I haven’t done much with it in the last year because of my carpal tunnel, but it was my source of income at the time. This person posted a review to the page calling me many nasty names, and insulting my business as well (although, she didn’t seem to know what the business was, because she kept mentioning cupcakes…). A few days later, someone sent me a link to a Craig’s List personal ad this Troll had posted of me, and it was just plain disgusting.

What I had considered innocent banter in private groups, really bit me in the real world. That is when I realized just how important it is to keep all social media clean. You never know how someone is going to take something, or who will see it. You might think you’re sharing something to get your friend’s thoughts and support, but if it’s posted publicly then anyone has the ability to take it and twist it around on you.

That was the day I crawled out of the Rabbit Hole. I left all of the groups (besides one unschooling group that was the opposite: no drama, lots of support, etc) I was in, and it was like a weight had been lifted. I wasn’t going to see anymore car seat pictures where kids weren’t strapped in properly, people trying to make their kids cry it out, or people giving their children food too early. I was just going to see my friends, and people I cared about. I felt like without the temptation seeing those things gave me to fight back constantly, I could take my time and help people educate themselves in a more gentle and kind way.

What happened to me happens to many people, even if on a smaller scale. Posting private conversations, your hatred for this and that, vulgar language, etc… They can all have an affect on your lives. Employers are checking social media before hiring, college admissions as well. Never post anything that could come back to haunt you or make anyone important think differently about you. Go to your friends, complain to them, show them things that make you angry, but only if you can trust them to keep it between the two of you.

Caleb’s Imagination

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^^^ Graphic I Made for Caleb to Print and Pin to His Bedroom Door^^^

Imagination is an incredible thing. One of my greatest joys is watching Caleb play pretend. Our living room is over run by a play house, tool bench, and wonderful wooden kitchen. I wanted to be sure that he could explore those interests in full. He’ll make us lots of play food, build things on his fancy tool bench, and he “goes home” to his play house many times a day. I adore watching this, and playing along when he wants me to.

Another area of pretend play that he’s been working on lately involves his toys. It all started with Po the Polar Bear. He received him as a gift around Thanksgiving from a kind man that lives near his preschool. That bear is his best friend, and they have the most intricate conversations. Occasionally they will be in a  “fight” and Caleb won’t want to talk to or be around him. Then we have to mediate their fight. We’ll tell Po to apologize, and tell Caleb that Po still loves him, and then Caleb apologizes and they are back to being friends again.

Of course though, with his new obsession with Paw Patrol, he’s begun putting his Paw Patrol toys into situations, and it’s just too dang adorable. I wanted to share one exchange from him that had me totally in stitches last night.

Caleb had Marshall stuck inside of his boot calling for help, and his plush Chase was heading off to rescue him. Chase said, “Ryder need us!” He was loud, enthusiastic, and oh so cute. Chase finished saving him and he yelled, “We did it! Yay!!!” Then he walked off with them for another “rescue.” I love this child so dang much. His innocence is beautiful, and fills me with joy.

 

Turkey, Broccoli, Egg Muffins!

Okay, I have a REAL winner for you all today! My son has a new obsession with eggs, and I’ve made scrambled, fried, and omelets already this last week. I on the other hand have been on a muffin making binge, and also made a whole turkey yesterday. When Caleb asked for eggs today, I decided to put these delicious egg muffins together.

Ingredients:

cooked turkey (enough to fill the bottom of the cup, you can use deli meat)

broccoli (three pieces per muffin)

6 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp minced garlic

1 1/2 slice cheese of choice (I used American)

Preheat oven at 350 degrees and prepare your muffin tin. I love, love, love these silicone muffin liners. They are reusable, and anything cooked in them just pops right out.

Next, microwave your broccoli. 30 seconds from fresh/thawed, or 60 seconds for frozen. Put the turkey and broccoli in each cup (like in picture three.

Now whisk together the eggs, milk, and seasonings until you have a consistent mixture. This is the same egg recipe I would use for scrambled eggs. Caleb loves them, and they have just enough seasoning without overpowering the eggs. I recommend whisking this in a measuring cup, or anything with a pouring spout really. It’ll make it much easier to poor over the turkey and broccoli, which is exactly what you need to do next.

Lastly, place a quarter slice of cheese on top of each muffin cup. If you don’t press it in, it should float, and will be the perfect topped layer. Put the muffin tin into the oven and let it bake for 25-30 minutes. Just like a regular muffin, stick a toothpick or knife into the finished muffin to test if it’s done.

These are really great, because you can prep them the night before, and stick them into the oven in the morning if you want. You can also freeze them for later. Microwave them 45-60 seconds from frozen, or 30 seconds from thawed. These are easy to transport, and totally dip-able.

Enjoy!

Finger Paints and Stamping Fun!

I LOVE painting, and Caleb has been talking about painting a lot the last few days. First thing this morning I made a batch of my edible finger paint, and when my sweet boy woke up I surprised him with this painting station.

I really wanted to do more than just finger painting, so I grabbed straws and toilet paper rolls (two things I obsessively collect which drives Corey crazy) and stuck one of each into each of the six colors I made. I got Caleb naked, and gave him some paper. Then (last picture) I created examples to show him how the stamps work, and also to show him with the straw you can blow the paint around. He LOVED blowing the paint.

He really focused on the color red today. I was surprised. I made two purples and pink for him because he’s been so into them, but red was the cool color today.

After three of the toilet paper roll stamp paintings and one of the straw paintings I gave him a paintbrush. That’s what led to the second picture, and I loved watching him paint lines and then smack the brush against it like a stamp. It was cool to see that the concept we were working on really stuck with him. Lastly I took a straw and drew his name into his painting! I think once it’s dry we’ll put it on his bedroom door.

Originally I planned to do more. I was going to “stamp” his hand to make some Valentines Day cards, animal prints, etc… but he wasn’t having it. My normally messy loving boy really didn’t want to get his hands dirty today, so I didn’t force it. The paint only takes a minute to create anyway, so if he seems more willing later on, we’ll just do it then. I want to get some actual stamp pads and stamps. I think he’d love that, and he liked stamping his hand last Friday.

Best Apple Oatmeal Muffins Ever!

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These were a serious treat. I knew I wanted to make apple muffins, and I knew I didn’t want to use a recipe, but instead create my own. What came next makes my taste buds sing! The beauty of these muffins is they are great for snack time, breakfast, or just something to bring along in your purse for when you’re out and about. I so hope you all try these, and let me know what you think.

One more thing before I get to the recipe… I my six year old niece and two year old son helping with every step of this. I used a chopper for the apples where you push down a piece on top of it, and it chops everything. Both kiddos got to do that. They both got to stir both the apples and the batter. We used this as a chance for a math lesson, using only a 1/4 measuring cup and adding fractions to make half or whole cups. Kids in the kitchen are awesome! Alright, to the recipe…

First thing you’re going to want to do is preheat the oven to 350 degrees, prepare for 24 small or 12 large muffins by spraying the pan or using liners. I did 12 small in liners, and six large heart muffins. They all cooked at the same time, and all came out great.

Next, gather all of your ingredients:

a fry-pan to cook the apples

3 chopped (1/4 inch pieces) apples

spray olive oil (1/2 tsp)

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

2 1/4 cup oatmeal (I used quick cooking)

1/2 cup flour

1 cup sugar (remember this is being divided into 24 muffins!)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Let’s start with the apples, the real star of this dish. Spray your fry-pan, or add the olive oil, then add in the apples and brown sugar. Mix well for about five minutes over medium high heat. Put a cover on it, and let simmer while you mix the rest of the batter. This will make the apples nice and soft, and the muffins won’t get to moist when the apples cook in the oven. This is the most important step when baking with apples.

While that simmers, add the milk and eggs to a bowl and give it a good whisk. Once you’re finished, toss the whisk in the sink and grab a spatula. Add all of the dry ingredients to the bowl, and fold the wet ingredients in. DO NOT OVER MIX.

Now, to finish off this great batter, shut off the stove, and poor all of the apples AND liquid from the pan into the batter. That’s all apple juice, and it’s the main wet ingredient for these muffins. Fold these apples in gently.

Scoop your batter into the muffin tins, then put into the oven for 22 minutes.

Now here’s a couple of tips: use an ice cream scoop to get the perfect serving of mix into each muffin cup. One scoop for small, two for large, half for mini. Before you put the tins into the oven, bang them a little bit onto the counter. This gets any air bubbles out, and helps the muffins cook thoroughly.

Enjoy!

 

Loving Hand-Print Crafts

This weekend was really peaceful for my little family. We all had it off of work and school, so it was the perfect time to work on some crafts and cooking! I shared my heart shaped banana, peanut butter, and oatmeal muffins last night, and was inspired to do some loving crafts as well.

The first was the hand-print tree with heart leaves coming off of it. How cute is that? Very simple too. I just traced Caleb’s hand and arm, cut it out and taped it into place. Then I cut out a bunch of different sized hearts, and Caleb helped me put them into place. I was quite impressed with his choices, and only guided him if there were too many overlapping. Then I cut a piece of green paper to look like grass, and fanned it out to make it 3-D. Lastly, I pinned it up onto our butterfly wall, and it looks completely adorable.

The next project was the hand upon hand project (picture three). Super simple, but I love the way it over laps. Blue for Corey, Purple for me, and Orange for Caleb. This one, believe it or not, was the biggest pain because Corey’s hand is so big! I had to trace it three times because it kept fitting weirdly. Eventually we fixed it up to fit on the background with ours. Imagine having it with a teen, elementary aged kiddo, toddler, and new born… Someday my friends! That would be so cute though.

Lastly was the middle project; family hands making hearts. I loved this idea! All you need to do is fold a piece of paper, then trace the hand you want to use with the thumb and pointer touching the crease. As long as you don’t cut the crease in those two places, when you unfold, you’ll have a cute heart! I taped ours together and pinned it above a painting of a heart I did many years ago. It’s a good addition to our living room I think.

Valentines day is coming up soon, and these would be some fun crafts for any age. Caleb prefers stamping his hands compared to having them traced, but he loves picking colors and placing items. I’m a big fan of tape, because you can move things around if it’s not “just right.” I hope y’all enjoy these, and if you try them out, please share them with me!

Healthy Banana, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal Muffins!

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On Friday, during Families READ, we made banana oatmeal muffins. It was decent, but over mixed and had a little bit of chemical taste from the vanilla. I set out tonight to create my own recipe, and goodness I succeeded !! These are amazing! Fresh, healthy, and not two sweet. I am not a fan of things that are too sweet, nor am I a fan of things with much wheat in them. I hope y’all like them!

Instructions:

Preheat Oven at 350 degrees. Spray your muffin pan, or bet yet prepare the pan with liners. Next, mix all ingredients gently in a bowl. They are listed in the order I added and mixed them into the bowl.

¼ cup milk

1 banana chopped, not mashed

¼ cup peanut butter

½ cup oatmeal

1 cup sugar (or maple syrup)

¼ cup flour

1 egg

Pinch of salt

½ tsp baking powder

Bake for 25 minutes and then let cool completely. I chose to sprinkle with powdered sugar, but brushed it off after the first bite because it wasn’t needed. My whole family loves it!

DIY Educational Book Shelf!

Quite a while ago I bought this book shelf for Caleb. It was a dingy white with partially ripped flowers all over it. I was so sure that I’d be able to get some paint and work my magic on it… six months later, it was still just sitting around in it’s original state. This morning specifically we were just using it as a foot rest in the living room.

I looked up at this super cute snowman hand print project we did yesterday, and it just came to me. I grabbed the book shelf and brought it out to the table for a scrub down. Once it was clean, I put a quick layer of yellow paint over the whole thing. Then I traced Caleb’s hand, and made two of each rainbow color. Next I painted another layer of yellow paint, and placed the hand cut outs where I wanted him.

A few hours later I went back to it with a sharpie. The top hands spell out Caleb’s name, and each finger (as well as the purple heart) have the alphabet on them, and then the side hands have their color written on them with 1-15 written on the fingers. I’m debating on adding more, like maybe some shapes on top? I’m quite pleased with how it came out so far though. The last step, once I’m totally sure, is to modge podge the whole thing so that Caleb can’t rip the hands off, because that’s totally something he would do.

Either way, this was a wicked easy project, and has a lot of uses! Alphabet, spelling his name, counting, practicing colors, and holding some of his wonderful books inside make it totally worth it! What do y’all think?