Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My Life by the Numbers

9 the number of times we listened to Life's a Happy Song.
1 the number of bad dreams that woke us up last night.
2 the number of cups of coffee I've had today.
1 the number of cats the dog chased through the neighborhood.
11 number of times I hollered for her as I chased her around.
57 number of pushes I gave my son on the swing 
81 the temperature at my house this afternoon.
13 the number of pounds I've lost since my daughter was born.
16 the number of pounds I have to go.
15 the number of adorable, chubby little baby rolls my daughter has.
0 number of my chubby little rolls that are adorable.
10 the number of pounds both my sons were at birth.
3 number of times my son touched my couch with his greasy hands. Also the number of times I asked him to wash them. 
5 the number of minutes he spent in timeout.
6 the number of kisses he had to give me to make it better.
12 the number of my son's favorite episode of Tumble Leaf.
19 the page that his favorite story starts on in his favorite book.
0 the number of date nights my husband and I have been on in the last 5 months.
4 number of unauthorized purchases my hubby made on amazon including an infrared temperature gun that he needed to "see how hot my ass is."
11 number of chuckles I got over my husband's jokes about my butt.
16 the number of dollars for said infrared gun.
157 number of minutes until my hubby comes home.
129 the number of times I'll check to see if he's home between now and then.
17 the number of reasons I'm ready for the weekend.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mom and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

We are big fans of the classic Alexander books by Judith Viorst so whenever we have a have bad day, we frequently threaten to move to Australia. But last Monday was the bad day to beat all bad days. I mean, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. It was truly a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. And the only way to come out on top after a day like that is to laugh it off. Hope you get a little chuckle too.

Mom and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
The toddler woke up at 4:40am because his molars were hurting him and while I was trying to get him to go back to sleep, the preschooler woke up, pooped and “wiped” himself. We were down to the last roll of toilet paper and the last pair of clean underwear and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

At breakfast, the toddler threw his plate on the floor because he was still hungry. The preschooler screamed at the toddler at the top of his lungs because “WE DON”T THROW THINGS IN THIS HOUSE” and by the time I came back from the freezing cold where I was cleaning up the dog’s business everyone was screaming, even the dog.

I think I’ll move to Australia.

We were late for preschool because everyone forgot how to get dressed, the dog had separation anxiety and there was no food in the house to pack in the preschooler’s lunch. I didn’t even have time for coffee. Who needs coffee?

I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

At the grocery store, the toddler attempted to dive from the cart repeatedly. All the lines were long and we had to go through the self-checkout. While I was yelling at the register over an alleged “unauthorized item in the bagging area,” the toddler ate the cardboard macaroni and cheese box. After we left, I realized I forgot to buy bread. And toilet paper.
I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
I could tell because the toddler took a ten minute car nap on the way home from the store and the dog was ON the dining room table when we got back.
The preschooler refused to eat half his lunch and then insisted that he was starving when it was time for naps. The toddler would only eat MY lunch.

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

That’s what it was because when I went to the dentist, he said my incision was healing nicely, but when I got home it opened up and started spraying blood all over the kitchen. After the third time it opened up, I rushed back to the office only to find it was closed. I called the dentist at home and he told me to come in tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I’m going to Australia.

At bedtime, the toddler’s pajamas were two sizes too small and he stood in his bed alternating between singing and yelling for almost an hour. The preschooler made his father ask him seven times to pick up the cars when it was time to read books. By the time they were both asleep, the dog had fumigated my bedroom with her macaroni and cheese farts.

The dinner dishes are still piled up in the sink because my brain is melted like double-decker strawberry ice cream cone on a hot day.  It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. My husband says some days are like that. Even in Australia.
Inspired by the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst. If you’ve never read her Alexander series, check them out at your local library!

This post originally appeared at Mom of the Year. For a less serious look at the world of parenting, meet Meredith.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Spicy Refried Black Beans

I know, I know. Refried beans make some people shudder, especially when they come straight out of a can.  There's a better way, people. Homemade refried beans are easy, quick and absolutely delicious. They will change burrito night in your household forever.

1/2 cup of onion, chopped (If you don't want to measure, chop up approximately 1/4 of an onion. It's not rocket science.)
1 15oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1 cup canned fire roasted tomatoes, with juice (Or approximately half of a 15oz. can)
Salt to taste
1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a deep skillet on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent.
2. Add the drained beans. Warm beans for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. (I've found this makes them easier to mash.)
3. Reduce heat to low. Mash beans with a potato masher until desired consistency. (I like mine roughly mashed, not too smooth.)
4. Add fire roasted tomatoes, additional 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt to taste. If beans appear dry, add a little water or some more tomato juice from the fire roasted tomatoes.

This recipe received two stars from my family.
*Secretly Nutritious
For more about my rating system, head over to the Eats page.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Pottery Barn Art on the Cheap

I'm embarrassed to admit that we've lived in our house for over two years now and there are still rooms with bare walls. I've been attempting to remedy this for quite a while now, but my lack of skills in this department continues to defeat me. Naturally, I can't avoid those bare walls forever, so I recently started browsing the Pottery Barn website looking for art inspiration. I can't afford anything from the Pottery Barn, but a girl can dream, right? But during my online window shopping I came across the mother load. The secret to 90% off Pottery Barn prices is here!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

He Said, I Heard: Hangers

Occasionally, we have miscommunications in our house. Often this happens when my husband says something and I interpret it as something slightly different.

He said: Since you are using 90% of the dresser, MY clothes get priority in the closet. If we are low on hangers, MY clothes need to get hung up first because I don't have anywhere else to put them.

I heard: You should go to Target and pick up some new hangers. While you are at it, you should buy yourself some new makeup, splurge on some home décor, and maybe a new dress or two. If you are getting more hangers, might as well get some new clothes to put on them!

Practically the same thing, right?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Creamy Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas

This recipe makes me swoon. It's packed with hidden veggies for my picky eater and includes all of the food groups in a single pan. It's also hands-down the most amazing enchilada recipe, EVER. It’s even easy on the guilt.  
For filling:
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup (such as Campbell’s Healthy Request), undiluted
2 cups (8 ounces) reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
1 2/3 cups plain low-fat yogurt (optional)
Click to see savin1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tsp. cumin
Salt and pepper taste
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
6 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained thoroughly
15 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes, drained 
Click to8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
For topping:
Click to see savings
Click to see savings1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onions
Click to see savings 
1.       Preheat oven to 350°.
2.       Combine the filling ingredients in a large bowl. Remove 1 ½ cups filling. Spread ¾ cup in the bottom of a in a 13 x 9–inch baking dish; set remaining mixture aside.
3.       Arrange 1/2 cup chicken mixture down center of tortilla. Roll jelly-roll style; place filled tortilla, seam side down, in the 13 x 9-inch pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 7 tortillas. Spread reserved ¾ cup mixture evenly over enchiladas. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle evenly with cheddar cheese and green onions; bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Adapted from Cooking Light’s Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

 This recipe received three stars from my family.
*Plate-Licking Good
*Secretly Nutritious
For more about my rating system, head over to the Eats page.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Shut the Front Door! The Helpful Guide to Cursing like a Mother

My parents were quite the parenting duo.  In the BC days (before children), they worked hard and played harder.  Their friends dubbed them “Wild Man” and “Crazy Lady” (clearly a match made in heaven).  My childhood was full of stories about camping trips to the river and late night fire dances.
They married young and started a family long before most of their friends, so I imagine moving into the parenting world was a big transition, but they turned out to be the most amazing, wonderful and supportive parents a girl could ask for (meeting them, you’d never guess their sordid past).  Yet, like any new parents they had a few bumps along the way…
My mother has told me this story a thousand times.  Probably because the story is about how she was right, and women in my family like to be right.  My father, who stayed at home with me for the first year of my life, liked to describe my dirty diapers with a four letter word that was not poop, turd, or crap.  As he changed me, he would exclaim in a sing-songy voice, “Oh! You spit! Spit, spit, spit, spit!!” My mother warned him time and time again that I was absorbing every word he said and that soon I’d be repeating those words.
She was right.  We were in the car on the way to get some new shoes with my grandmother.  And there I was kicking my little feet in the backseat singing “Spit, spit, spit, spit!”  My mother, mortified by the words coming out of my mouth in front of her MIL, said, “That’s right, Alisa! We are going to get shoes! Shoes, shoes, shoes!” Fortunately, my mother is a very wily woman and my grandmother was none-the-wiser. (A few years ago, my mother confessed and we all had a good laugh about it, especially my grandmother.)
I gave up my share of bad habits since having children, but cursing is one I’ve had more difficulty kicking to the curb.  I’ve learned that this is an important time in motherhood for creativity to come into play.  For those of you who share this vice with me, here is a list of some “alternates” that I’ve come up with…use them, and hopefully, you won’t get into too much trouble when you mother-in-law hears your kiddos repeating them??
The Holies
Holy Mole!
Holy Guacamole!
Holy smokes!
Holy cow!
Holy Cheese balls!
What in the name of Holy Guacamole are you doing with your brother’s underwear on your head!?
Mother, Brother, Son of a…
Son of a monkey
Son of a gun
Mother of Pearl
Mother fruiter
Mother loving
Oh, brother!
Can I just get a mother fruiting minute to put my pants on?!
Old School
(Many of these are gems I remember my grandfather saying. Even at 80+ years old he can still curse you off his front lawn.)
Jiminy Cricket
Oh, that is just baloney, Mr. Fancy Pants!
The Big Guns
Bull Pucky
Flying McFudgepants (Now that is just fun to say!)
Ever loving
Shut the front door!
Oh, For Pete’s Sake!
What on Earth?
You scared the mother loving cheese balls out of me!
Top Five Mashups
Holy flying fudgecicles!
Mother loving McFluffernutter!
Shut the ever loving front door!
Son of a flying Mother Fruiter!
Holy smoking bull pucky!
They key?  In the heat of the moment it can be hard to keep it all kid-friendly, so practice, practice, practice!  Let those “Baloney!”s and “Flying McFudgepants!” roll off your tongue on repeat to get those gems ingrained.
And take a minute to let us know some of your own fav faux curse words.  Never hurts to have a few extra on standby ;)
This post was originally featured at Mom of the Year. For a less serious look at the world of parenting, meet Meredith

Monday, June 8, 2015

Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

On Monday, I was in the mood for Baked Spinach Meatball sliders. I knew I was out of parmesan cheese and so I tempted the nap gods and swung by the store on the way home from preschool pick up. When we came home, I tucked the boys in for their nap and patted myself on the back as started to prep dinner. Look at me kicking Monday in the butt! And then I realized that I was out of eggs. I had stopped by the store for ingredients and had everything I needed minus ONE, measly egg. I probably could have omitted it, but I didn't want to tempt the dinner gods after I had already tempted the nap gods. So I grabbed the baby monitor and dashed out into the pouring rain to my neighbor's house to borrow an egg. My sweet neighbor came back with three eggs because she wasn't convinced that I only need one.
I wanted to thank her so I decided to bake a batch of oatmeal cookies. I'm a fan of the Quaker Oat Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookie recipe, except for the raisin part. As far as I'm concerned, raisins have no business in cookies. Last time I used chocolate chips, but thought that they were actually too sweet. Who knew that was even possible?! I settled on dried cranberries and stumbled on a goldmine. These cookies are dangerously delicious. It's a good thing we shared them with our neighbors because we devoured the rest of batch by dinnertime.  
Are you loving the DIY origami cookie boxes? I found them on Pinterest ages ago and I finally had an opportunity to make some. (Read: I made a giant mess in my kitchen followed by a giant craft mess. Never go full Pinterest.) The result was ridiculously cute (and messy.) I followed the tutorial exactly, but instead of tying it off with ribbon I stapled it closed. I couldn't find the single hole punch anywhere and so I had to make do.
And without further ado..

Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 6tbsp. butter, softened (That's almost two whole sticks of butter. No wonder they are delicious!)
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup dried cranberries
1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy.
2. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
3. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well.
4. Add oats and raisins; mix well. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.         
This recipe received one star from my family.
*Plate-Licking Good

For more about my rating system, head over to the Eats page.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

He Said, I Heard: Party Dress

Occasionally, we have miscommunications in our house. Often this happens when my husband says something and I interpret it as something slightly different. Mister Sir and I went out for a long overdue date night on Friday night. I bought a new dress with a pretty blue and white chevron pattern...very similar to the pattern on our couch cushions.

He said: You look really nice. You match with our couch pillows.

I heard: You look like an overstuffed couch cushion in your new dress.

It could have been worse. The dog's bed also has a chevron print. Haha!

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Reluctant Gardener

I use the term gardener very loosely. In fact, when I use the word gardener to refer to myself, I actually mean black thumb or person who kills every plant she touches within a 10-mile radius. I’m like the plague for plants.  I had pretty much given up on growing anything but babies until we bought a house. On a corner lot (read: huge front yard) with empty planters.

Daffodils, planted by (my) Mother Nature
Our neighbors across the street have an absolutely beautiful yard. It has lovely flowers in the spring. It has a variety of evergreen shrubs that look fantastic in the winter. On one side, there’s a lemon tree bursting with lemons all year long. It is absolutely gorgeous. My yard on the other hand, well, we've got dandelions and though they have flowers, technically those are weeds.

It is not that I feel the need to keep up with the Jones’. Our neighbor is lovely retired gentleman who prides himself on his yard. He spends hours a day weeding, pruning and planting. Ain’t nobody got time for that with two boys and a dog. But I feel bad that when I look out my bay window, I have a lovely view of their garden while they have a stellar view of my weeds. That, and when you buy a fixer-upper house, the idea is to actually fix it up.

We can grow grass. 
At first, I bought some simple wildflower seeds. I was 8 months pregnant so I conned my friends into coming over to pull all the weeds for me and put the seeds down. In the end they were certainly wild, but not very flowery. They were hideous 4 ft stick-weed-bushes. Fortunately, I’m an expert at killing plants so I had no problem abating those. We had a hot summer and with a new baby in the house, the hubby and I decided we were too cheap to water anything. Good-bye weedflowers. Unfortunately, we killed off part of our lawn too. So the next summer we reseeded and spent the kids’ college fund watering the lawn. (Side note: I learned you are supposed to reseed in the winter and let Mother Nature do the watering. Ooops. I suppose the kids will build some character in community college. No? I’m sure there’s an upside somewhere…)

The ever-hardy rosemary
Really, the upside is that our new grass actually grew. In fact, it flourished. I thought for a moment that perhaps I could grow myself a green thumb. In the fall, my mother (who rivals Mother Nature with her magical green thumb) planted some flowers, broccoli, basil and rosemary. Alas, my black thumb title remained untarnished; it wasn't long before most of the plants were lost. All of the broccolis were systematically taken out by bugs. The basil went down next. The rosemary was the only survivor. Out of the flowers, only three perished and miraculously a whole slew of daffodil bulbs recently started to appear.

If nothing else I'm determined, so I recently planted my favorite spring flower – tulips. I accidentally planted them in winter instead of in the fall so they would be as stunted as the rest of the plants in the yard, but they have proven to be pretty hardy. So far five out of ten have popped up. Given my track record, I’m calling that a success.

No actual tulips yet...
I may not have a green thumb, but I intend to conquer yard this with sheer will power. How about you? Are you the plague to plants or does beauty and life spring from everything you touch? For more trial and error gardening, follow me on Pinterest and check out my Gardening for Dummies board.