When You Need Me (Wordless Wednesday)

Kaia:  Baby Ryleigh needed some "Kaia time."

Harry:  Baby Ryleigh need me.  I help Baby.

The amazing part is that she really calms down when they help her.

Showing Love {Wordless Wednesday}

Morning & Evening Routines {FREE} Printable

A couple weeks ago I realized that the kids could independently do most of our bedtime routines...if they could only stay on task!  I made this little printable to help and have been so happy with the results!!  So, I thought I'd share it for free!  Click here to download it!

Kaia (five years old) is now waking up, making her bed, and getting dressed by herself.  We're still working on the hair.  ;)  In the evening, she can move through the entire list by herself.  She and Harry both love marking the circles.  I don't even have to offer them a reward for filling in the chart--they just love doing it!  Harry (two years old) needs a little help now, but returning to me and marking the circles keeps him on task and even happy about the process.  It's also good practice for his little fine motor skills!  I keep thinking I should have done it years ago!

Do you use a chart for routines or chores for young children?  I don't use anything for chores, but I'm starting to think about it!

Happy Valentine's Day!!

We love Valentine's Day!!


* Cards & Goodies

* Valentine math

* CAKE!!  
Lentil Chocolate Cake...with hearts! 
And I learned that Kaia loves to decorate cakes.  It's her favorite part.  She did a great job.  It now looks like if I want to decorate cakes by myself, I better do it after bedtime.  ;)

* Date Night!!
Italian take-out, a candle-lit dinner, and a movie...after the kids were in bed!  Yay for kids who sleep!! 

Ryleigh and a Present

Kaia picked out a present for Baby Ryleigh--a beautiful, soft doll.  Ryleigh loves it, of course.

Harry also picked out a present for her, but it's not pictured.  It's a binkie.  He loves to give it to her.  We're still convincing her that she loves it.  She definitely loved the gesture.  

Menu Plan Monday!!

I love menu plans!  I save money, time, and stress just knowing what I'm going to cook, and I'm excited to get more ideas through Menu Plan Monday.  I usually write out my menu by hand, but I decided to start doing it here instead.

So, here's how I Menu Plan:

1- I work on a 2-week schedule.  I cook about every other day.  On the "off" days we either have Leftover Buffets or Cheater Dinners (like pizza or sandwiches).  

2- 30 Minutes.  My meals take less than thirty minutes to prepare.  I just don't have time for more than that!  I might make one exception every two weeks.  This menu's exception:  Sour Cream Enchiladas.  We love 'em!   

3- Pre-cooked meat.  I buy 5-pound torpedos of hamburger and cook it with onions.  Then I divide the meat into 6 freezer baggies to use in meals.  I also pre-cook and freeze chicken.  

4- I don't assign a dinner to each day.  Each day, I pick a dinner from my menu for that night.

And here's the menu:

#1.  Stuffed Pepper Casserole

I love stuffed bell peppers, but expect that doing it in a casserole will be easier.  My idea is to mix it all together, coat it with cheese, and cook till the cheese is melted and it is warmed all the way through.  I might even try it in a crock pot.  ;)

* about 1 pound pre-cooked hamburger
* about 1-2 cups rice
* 4-6 chopped (in large bite-sized pieces) bell peppers
* 1 onion chopped
* 2 cans tomato sauce
* 1 Tablespoon worcestershire sauce
* 1/4 teaspoon garlic
* 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
* 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
* salt and pepper to taste

#2.  Pot Roast (sort of)
The recipe is for pot roast, but I bought a different kind of beef and am adding potatoes and carrots.  It'll be good.   Mix everything in a crock pot and cook it on high for 4-6 hours.  

* 2-3 pounds chuck roast
* 2 teaspoons kosher salt
* 2 teaspoons cumin
* 1 medium onion
* 5-6 cloves garlic
* 1 cup tomato juice
* 1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
* a bunch of potatoes and baby carrots

#3.  Chicken Salad Sandwiches
You've had these--mix it all together and plop it on some bread!

* chicken
* chopped grapes
* chopped celery
* mayo (start out with a little, then add more till you're happy)
* a squirt of lemon juice
* salt and pepper
* optional: fresh parsely and a teaspoon of dill seed

#4.  Hawaiian Haystacks
This will be a novelty for my family, though I grew up with them.  I don't know the last time we had them!

* Mix together chicken, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, or whatever flavors you want, to make a thick chicken gravy mixture.
* Put crispy chow mein noodles and rice on the side.
* Put out bowls of chopped carrots, celery, tomatoes, cucumber, pineapple, raisins, etc.

* Layer individual plates with crispy chow mein noodles, rice, chicken gravy mixture, and top with veggies/fruits of choice!

#5.  Chicken & Rice Casserole
Mix everything together in a big ole' pan, cover it with cheese, and cook until the cheese is melty and the food is warm!

* cooked chicken (or any other meat)
* cooked rice
* frozen peas or broccoli--just dump the whole bag in!
* a can or two of cream of chicken soup and cream of mushroom soup

* salt, pepper, garlic, & oregano to taste

#6.  Sloppy Joes & Veggies
Pick your veggie side, then make your sloppy joe goop.  Add a can of sloppy joe mix to a pound of meat, a chopped onion, and a chopped bell pepper.  Boil your goop for a few minutes so your onion and pepper are soft.  (Or cook them first...whatever.)

#7.  Sour Cream Enchiladas
This is the only recipe on this list that will take more than half an hour to prepare.  But, it is really tasty. ;)

* Cook a pound of hamburger (or other meat) with a chopped onion and a can of diced green chilies.  Add a can of refried beans and a can of black beans.  If you want a ton of enchiladas, add a can of red beans too.  ;)
* In a separate bowl, mix a can of cream of chicken soup, a can of cream of mushroom soup, a few tablespoons of green enchilada sauce, and a cup of sour cream.
* Smear about 1/2 cup of soup goop all over the bottom of a big fat pan.
* In your tortillas, put about 2 Tablespoons of soup goop and some hamburger mixture. Roll it up and put it in your big pan.
* Fill your big pan up with tortillas.  Cover them all with soup goop and some enchilada sauce.  Then cover it with cheese and cook it at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until your cheese is melty and everything is warm.

#8.  Lemon Pepper Tilapia
This is Jon's specialty...I'm not sure what he does.  It's something like spray a frying pan with cooking spray and cook the fish with lemon juice and salt and pepper.  Maybe some Worcestershire sauce or something like that.  I can ask him for details if you want.  We usually stir-fry some veggies to go with it.  Fish cook fast.  ;)

#9.  Breakfast for Dinner
This will depend on the mood I'm in, but will be pancakes, waffles, french toast, fried eggs, or breakfast burritos.

#10-12.  Cheater Dinners

Super Quesadillas

#13-14.  Leftover Buffet

Dessert:  Oreo Cheesecake.
I found this delicious looking recipe here: http://makeaheadmeals.blogspot.com/2008/02/32-freeze-ahead-oreo-cheesecake.html    I don't know when I'll have time to make it, but I bought all the ingredients!  I don't intend to freeze it.  

Welcome Back!!

I'm back!

And this time I have big news:

Ryleigh Rebecca was born almost three weeks ago.  Wow...the time has flown!

I'll summarize her birth details:
  • Total time from when I was sure "this was it!" until her birth: 3 1/2 hours.
  • Total time from when my water broke until birth:  less than 1 hour.
  • Total time for pain killers:  none.  I was planning on doing it without an epidural, but I was hoping for some other milder pain medicine.  But, I would happily repeat the speedy birth/no medicine over a longer birth with medicine!
  • The doctor arrived 10-15 minutes after she was born!
  • There was no tearing or cutting!
  • She weighed 7 lbs 10 oz and was 18 inches long. 

One of the nurses declared Ryleigh "A Champ!" and I completely agree!  She's happy, snuggly, eats well, sleeps well (as well as you'd expect a newborn to, anyway), and already loves Kaia and Harry.

And now, of course, some pictures:

I love this picture a random lady took for us last week!  Ryleigh's first outing was a walk and some play time at the park.  It was the first "adventure" we took all three kids on, and everyone had a great time.  I love how this picture has all five of us, outside, enjoying each other and the nice (winter) sun!