Tag Archives: memories

Menu Subject To Change Without Notice

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I am not good in the kitchen. I’m much better than I used to be though. Seriously, the only things I ever made in the kitchen were a huge mess and few small fires. If it didn’t come in a box or couldn’t be cooked in the microwave I didn’t make it. And when the “Holiday family get-togethers” rolled around I always brought the ice. But I brought the good ice!! It was Sonic Ice!!!! I know, right? I was good at ice!

My mom blames herself for my lack of skills in the kitchen. I think my lack of interest is to blame. I always had more desire to eat the food than cook it. Wait, I’m still like that. I wasn’t your typical little girl either. You were more likely to find me outside in a tree, swimming, riding motorcycles or playing in the mud than in the kitchen. Unless I was eating then you’d find me there. And I think I had an Easy Bake Oven but I’m pretty sure I baked more insects instead of cakes. What? I was a curious child.

The only real ‘cooking’ memory I have as a child is Christmas time. Nana used to do a lot of baking at Christmas. I never actually helped her, mind you, but I remember sitting in the kitchen watching…and smelling. The one thing I do remember helping with was the Buckeyes. My favorite!! I remember rolling the peanut butter into cute little balls. Then we would stick a tooth pick in it on top so we could dip it in the chocolate. I didn’t know they were called Buckeyes because they resembled the nut. I always thought we called them that because they looked like eye balls after you dipped it in the chocolate and took the tooth pick out. I think I was in my twenties before that revelation finally hit. Anyway, I love those memories of making Buckeyes with my Nana!

Today things are much different. I actually cook. I only use the microwave to melt butter and reheat items for left over night. I even make a few things from scratch. And they’re yummy!! Those of you who know me can pick your chins up off the floor now. Get this~ I actually enjoy cooking . I find pleasure in taking all these ingredients, putting them together and creating something that smells so good and makes my family smile. I have to be honest and say that some days, most days, I still see it as a chore. I would rather be relaxing on the couch playing Scramble with Friends, reading The Hunger Games series or working on this blog. However, we gotta eat. And I found out that things that you actually cook taste way better than things you get out of a box or microwave. The other thing that I enjoy so much about cooking dinner is that Gary and I usually do it together. One of us is usually the lead chef for the evening but the other is always right there to help and most importantly to spend time with. Gary and I use the time it takes to prepare dinner to talk about our day, share things, vent and encourage each other. Granted, we’re interrupted every few minutes by a kid asking any number of random questions . But we still enjoy it and it’s still great time together!

Dinner time can be extremely stressful in any home much less in a home with a large family. Before Gary and I were married we would eat dinner together at least 4-5 times a week. We would always email each other during the day and ask “So, what’s the plan for dinner?”. Then one of us would go by the grocery store on the way home. This happened every day. Occasionally we would get smart and plan two meals and buy both in one trip. I just knew that after we were married and living in the same house dinner would be so much easier. And it was. Sort of. We still did the emails of “So what’s the plan for dinner?” but instead of meeting up for dinner I ran to the store with all the kids before Gary got home from work. Yeah, the grocery store with five kids under the age of 13 is not fun. No matter how short the trip. So after a while of almost daily trips to the grocery store for dinner I realized there has to be a better way. That’s when I decided we needed to plan our meals out for the week and do a weekly trip to the grocery store.

I have to admit that meal planning is not my favorite thing to do. It’s a little tough finding seven meals that seven people agree on. I do realize that we can’t make everyone happy, but the kids need to realize they can’t have their favorite meal every night either. It’s very hard to teach young kids compromise. It doesn’t help that we have two very picky eaters. That is frustrating! [Apparently it’s some kind of payback. According to my mom anyway. I don’t know what she means by that exactly but whatever.] I struggle with how to handle Emma and Cullen and their finicky-ness. I really do, because I can see both sides of the situation. I have strong preferences when it comes to food too and I don’t want to force someone to eat something that revolts them. However, if you just don’t feel like having lasagna tonight because you’d rather have baked chicken and green beans, well, you’re out of luck. That’s where the compromise comes in. There are plenty of nights I’d rather have something else instead of what we’re having but you roll with it!
We’ve finally figured out a way around all of this. First and foremost, we are not short order cooks and you’re not going to have another meal prepared for you. Also, if we know it’s something you have eaten before, that’s what you eat. When it’s something we know they just won’t eat we make sure that we have some leftovers in the fridge that we can heat up for them. They don’t go hungry, we don’t cook two meals. Everyone’s happy.

I also want to share with you our Menu Board. I found this idea on Pinterest from The Creative Mama and I love it! [Visit this cool mama’s website for directions on how to put yours together] It works great for us. Before I just typed up a little boring list of what we were having for dinner each night and stuck it on the fridge with a magnet. Now we have this adorable, and functional, board on our fridge that makes dinner planning a breeze!

I'm so thankful for our menu board!! It makes a huge difference in our routine!

There’s two things I love about this type of menu board. One is you have all the meals you make already written out on little cards and all you have to do is flip through them and decide what to have that week instead of wracking your brain for ideas. The other is how easily you can switch the meals around if you need to. Sometimes things come up and you need an easier dinner to prepare or you decide to do left overs instead. However, you may get some back lash for that. To avoid a mutiny because we’re having lasagna instead of pig in a blanket I added a little disclaimer to the bottom in smaller print~ “Menu is subject to change w/out notice.” It keeps all the griping to a minimum. I would highly recommend it. You may have to explain it the first time but after that just point.

Once the menu is done it’s time for grocery shopping. Another necessary evil. I have a whole system for that too. I can’t wait to share it with you! In the mean time you should go have a snack!

Tissues, Soap, and S’mores…or How To Make Memories

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I grew up as an only child even though I have two brothers. Actually all three of us grew up as only children. We each have different moms and share our biological father. So technically we are only half siblings but let’s not split hairs. I actually didn’t meet my brothers until I was an adult. I knew they existed but had never met them. How we met and grew to know one another is another blog for another day. And this ain’t the day.

I was kinda spoiled growing up. And by ‘kinda’ I mean extremely. I was the first [and only] child for my mom and the first grandchild for my grandparents. Plus, my mom and I moved in with her parents when I was about six months old after my biological father left us. We lived there for 5 years. Needless to say I ended up becoming very close to my Nana and my aunt and uncle, who were both still kids themselves when I came along. At five years old my mom married my new dad. A wonderful man who loved me like his own and proved it by legally adopting me. He’s my daddy and I’m his little girl. I am so blessed to have him as my dad. And as a Papa to my kids. Between my parents and my Nana, who am I kidding…my aunts and uncles too, I was spoiled rotten. The thing is that even though I totally enjoyed all those things that I got I cherish all the memories that I have even more.

I grew up out in the country on a dirt road that only my family [and some family friends that are family too] lived on. We didn’t have cable tv or the internet. We had four-wheelers, a dirt road and the woods. My best friend Brian and I actually used our imagination and played outside. We were ninja’s some days, veterinarians on other days and then we were scientists one day. But only one day. We blew up mom’s bathroom and that was the end of that. So we went back to being ninja’s. We had chickens, horses and pigs. It was my job, at least occasionally to collect the eggs and I learned that roosters aren’t exactly the nicest creatures. The pigs were pretty cool. I would feed them scraps over the fence and I think I even named them. Then one day a big truck came and they loaded the pigs up on the truck. That’s the day I learned what the word slaughter meant. Sad day. I look back on the days of me and Brian exploring the woods, almost killing ourselves on riding the four-wheelers, climbing trees and building forts and wish that my kids could have those same experiences.

Thanks to my parents I was quite the traveler. My dad was in the military until I was in high school and even though we didn’t travel the world we did live in Colorado several times. And I’ve seen most of the United States. I’ve road tripped across the country several times and it was amazing!! From what I understand my grandmother was less than pleased that my parents did such a thing to me. I believe that’s because she was just mad that they were taking me away from where she was. Which is understandable. I’m extremely thankful to have had the opportunities that I had though. I had driven across the country [at least twice], skied the Rocky Mountains, spent the night in Vegas, went deep-sea fishing in the Pacific, saw the Hollywood sign, been to Disneyland [and Disneyworld], went to many Braves games, went to a home Dodger game and went camping in the Rocky Mountains [and lots more]. All before my 16th birthday. How many sixteen year olds can say that? Ok, I know I’m not the only person who’s done that much by that age and I know that some have done more than that. I’m just thankful to have been blessed with the opportunities my parents [and the military] gave me. Those memories will be with me forever and my kids are going to hear amazing stories of things I’ve been able to do and things I’ve seen. I’ll never be able to give my kids those kinds of opportunities. My plan is to give them everything I can. Not material things that will rust and break. But memories that they will cherish forever. I want to give my kids stories to amaze their kids with some day.

Soap Carving


We haven’t road tripped across the country. We have been to Disney World though! Just for a day. But it was the best day EVER!! We don’t need lavish vacations to make memories though. We build fires and make s’mores in the backyard. We fry candy

Best day EVER

bars and Oreos and pickles. We buy bars of soap and carve them into soap sculptures. We tour our State Capital and feed the birds and squirrels [we were mistaken for a school group when we went in for the tour, I took that as a complement about my organizational skills]. We do fun science experiments too. One time we made ice cream in a zip lock bag. Another time we made Mentos fountains and a cool video! We have the coolest kids and we love making memories with them.

Here’s a video Gary made of one of the memories we made with the kids. We bought 8 boxes of tissues, moved the furniture and told the kids to have at it. You can see the confusion on their faces turn into sheer bliss. And one day over Thanksgiving dinner they’re going to say “Remember that time our parents got us all those tissue boxes…….”

Fun With Tissues from Blending Chaos on Vimeo.