Love, Light, and Gratitude

I’m training to become a Stephen’s Minister (a lay person who gives Christian care to someone in need), and last week we practiced giving affirmations/compliments.  We went around the room and said something nice about each person sitting around the table.   At first it was a little awkward; we really didn’t know each other very well, so giving genuine affirmations to strangers was a little tricky.  But as we got on, things warmed up, and all of a sudden every single person in that room was glowing.  It was so cool to realize that giving the affirmations was just as beneficial as receiving them.

At the same time, I’ve been reading “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s All Small Stuff” by Dr. Richard Carlson (because if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know how I very much sweat the small stuff!).  Two of his suggestions are to think of someone to love and someone to thank every single day, which helps free your mind from negativity.  This kind of ties into one of my favorite movies, “Eat, Pray, Love“, where Richard Jenkins‘ character tells Julia Roberts‘ character to send someone “light and love”, a concept which just resonates in me.   And, to bring it all full circle, we can go to 1 John 1:5-7 which says, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness,we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[a] sin.”

Long story short, I decided to put this into practice with the girls to (hopefully) instill a lifetime habit of love and gratitude. Normally at dinner I make the girls go around the table and tell me their favorite part of the day.  I use a dorky, game-show host type voice and hold up a pretend microphone. They groan,  but secretly love it (hopefully….or they could actually hate it).  Tonight, though I told them that I had a different game.  First, I asked them to think of someone that they knew to send love to.  I explained that love, like God, is EVERYWHERE, and that we can send our love to whoever we want, whenever we want.   L said that she wanted to send love to her best friend, who was sad because his Mimi had gone back home.  C wanted to send love to her preschool bestie who had just moved to Wisconsin.  I said that I was sending love to my mom, because she’d had a long day.

Next, we went around the table and thought of somebody to send thanks to.  L wanted to thank her BFF for writing her notes.  C wanted to say thank you to HER best friend for coming back from Wisconsin (I didn’t have the heart to tell her that he isn’t coming back).  I said that I wanted to thank them for being so patient (tongue in cheek with the word “patient”) when I got my oil changed earlier in the day.

Finally, we went around the table and said one nice thing about each person.  Their compliments to their baby sister were the cutest; they both told her how adorable she is, and that she’s a fun baby (which is a far cry from what they were screaming earlier when she was taking their toys).

So that’s it. Love, light, and gratitude every day = happier, kinder, more peaceful family?  Hopefully.

 

Searching for Super Projects: Baby-Safe Paint

I’m in a “weekly feature” kind of mood lately and trying to give this blog some direction, so I’ve decided to introduce yet another weekly feature! This one’s called, “Searching for Super Projects”.  Basically, I’ll be your Pinterest guinea pig.  All of this cute craft ideas that you’ve pinned to your Pinterest board but haven’t actually done? Yep, I’ll try them out.  I’ll figure out what actually works and what doesn’t, and share my results with you.

Basically, I just want a good excuse to finally do one of the hundreds of projects I’ve pinned.

Yesterday, the girls and I made baby-safe paint.  Yeah, yeah, most paint for children is labeled non-toxic, but I really don’t want to test that theory on my 15-month old who eats everything she can get her chubby little hands on.   Luckily, a mom on the blog Blower Power (http://www.bowerpowerblog.com/2011/07/michaelango-his-two-muses/) had a paint recipe that’s safe for the littlest artists.

Here’s whatcha need:

Flour

Boiling water

Food Coloring

 

Here’s whatcha do:

1. Put about 1/3 cup of flour into a bowl (I originally used plastic bowls, then realized that boiling water would be involved and switched to ceramic).

2.  Add about 1/3 cup boiling water.  Mix well to form a peanut butter-like paste.

3.  Add a few spoonfuls of cold water and stir until the mixture forms a paint-like consistency, adding more cold water if necessary.

4.  Add food coloring to reach desired color.

And there you have it! Paint that’s safe enough to eat (though I don’t recommend it).

The girls had a BLAST with it (despite how crazy messy it was.  FYI, flour mixtures are STICKY).

C was the only one to actually use a paintbrush and stay relatively clean:

A got pretty messy…..

But at least it’s safe for her to do this:

 

Overall?  Messy, but fun.  Easy to set up,  but clean up took awhile.   A had such a great time getting to paint like a big girl with her sisters, so despite the messy factor I’m sure that we’ll be repeating this project over the summer.

 

Poo-ocalypse Now

It started out much like any other day.  I woke up the older two girls, fed them breakfast, got them ready for school.  The baby was suspiciously quiet.

Too quiet.

In my naivite, I thought that she was just sleeping in a little.  After all, she’d gone to bed a little later the night before, so it made sense.  At least, I tried to convince myself that it made sense.

The clock struck 7:45.  We had exactly ten minutes before we left for school.  I could put it off no longer.

A cold feeling of dread crept into my bones as I slowly ascended the stairs.  My heart lurched into my throat as I crossed the threshold to the playroom floor.  Step by perilous step, I inched my way to the bedroom.  With sweat-slippery hands I grasped the doorknob, then stopped.  I pressed my ear to the door, searching for sounds from within.

There were none.

I checked my watch.  7:46.  I had no choice.  I turned the knob.

I peeked my head into the room and was overwhelmed by a horrific, unearthly stench.   Gagging, my immediate instinct was to flee.  But I couldn’t.  I forced myself to go in.

And that’s when I saw it.

It….it was………..

POO-OCALPSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In all my years of motherhood, I’ve never seen it’s likes.  The baby, my sweet innocent baby, had been defiled by a diaper explosion previously unknown to mankind.  I pray its kind is never seen again.  It was everywhere – smeared across the crib slats, on the wall, all across the sheets.  Baby, my daughter’s beloved lovey, was caked in it.  Literally.  If it had been any toy other than Baby, it would have immediately met its demise in the trash can.  But nobody puts Baby in a trash can.

And then there was MY baby.  Caked, head to toe, in her own filth.  Across her nose, in her ears, attached to her eyelashes.  Up and down her pajamas.  Glued to her pacifier.

My oldest clambered up the stairs behind me.  “Don’t come in!” I screamed.  “Save yourself!”  I flung her from the scene of obscenity and rushed her down the stairs, following quickly in her footsteps.  I raced out to the garage and saw my husband backing out.  The garage door was already going down.  I needed reinforcements, and desperately.  There was no choice but to launch myself at the garage door and stop it’s descent with my super-human strength.

“Stop!”  I screamed down the driveway.  “Come back!”

Thankfully, he heard my plight and stopped just in time.  I insisted that he return and take L to school – it was 7:48 and we were RUNNING OUT OF TIME.   He dashingly took charge of our eldest and escorted her out of our House of Horrors. If only he could have done the same for me.

I immediately wen to the armory; I would need supplies.  I pulled on a pair of pink latex gloves and outfitted myself with Clorox and Lysol.  It wasn’t much, but it would have to be enough.

I mounted the stairs once more, this time with the knowledge of what I was facing.  I didn’t want to do it.  But I had to.

The horror……..

The horror……..

Searching for Super Products

I’ve decided to introduce a weekly feature on this blog called “Searching for Super Products”, in which I’ll seek out and try new baby/kid products.   As a mom of three, I’ve been around the block a few times and know what I like, and what I don’t.  Like? Pampers Diapers.  Don’t like? Pampers Wipes.   All of my favorite finds have been word of mouth through fellow mom friends, so I thought I’d share what I  (and my fellow mom friends) are into right now.

This week I tried Happy Tot Toddler Meal Bowls.  I’ve always been a fan of Happy Baby products. When I lived in Atlanta, I drove 15 miles away to the nearest Whole Foods so that I could buy their frozen meals for C.  Thankfully they are much more widely available these days, so now I buy their products at Target and HEB.  My girls (even my 5 year old) eat the Happy Baby pouches on a daily basis, so I was pretty excited to try the Toddler Meal Bowls on my 15 month old.

I bought the Chicken, Veggies, and Quinoa bowl. Here’s the ingredient list:

CHICKEN, VEGETABLES & QUINOA INGREDIENTS
sauce (water, organic ground chicken, organic onions, organic zucchini, organic corn starch, organic parmesan cheese (organic parmesan cheese  [pasteurized organic milk, salt, culture, enzyme], sodium phosphate), organic carrot juice concentrate, organic chicken stock,  organic unsalted, cultured butter (organic butter, lactic acid), organic garlic powder, sea salt, organic oregano), organic ground chicken, organic carrots, organic zucchini, organic potatoes, organic peas, organic celery, organic tomatoes, organic onions, organic quinoa.

ALLERGEN INFO: 
— Contains wheat
— No soy
— Contains dairy
— No added sugar
— Contains egg

Pretty good, right? And super simple – just poke a hole in the lid and microwave for 30 seconds.  It’s like the Gerber Graduates meals, but with better quality ingredients (in my opinion).

Here’s what it looks like fresh from the microwave:

Honestly, it’s not really what I expected.  I thought that since it was marketed for toddlers that it would be more self-feeding friendly, which it clearly is not.

But we still gave it a try:

A actually LOVED it.  She rarely lets me spoon feed her these days, but she gobbled this up.  I took a quick taste and found that it wasn’t completely abhorrent like most baby food.  It was bland, but actually tasted like real food.

And of course, A couldn’t resist the urge to feed herself.  It’s much faster that way:

And then she had to drop a handful onto the dog’s head:

He also enjoyed it.

A cleaned the tray in about eight minutes flat.  It was probably our fastest lunch ever.

And then she threw the remains at Emmitt.

He was pretty happy.

 

Overall?  A liked it, and it was a quick and easy way to give her a healthy lunch, but it was incredibly messy.  I’m pretty sure that the five minutes I saved in food prep I made up for in clean up.   I’ll probably buy it again to keep on hand for when my hubby is on meal duty, but I doubt that I’ll use it regularly.

And that’s this week’s Super Product review!

 

Vegan Chili

As a Texan, born and raised, it’s sort of a requirement that I cook chili.  Lots and LOTS of chili.  Over the past year, as we’ve tried to reduce our meat consumption, I’ve been tinkering with my recipe to make it vegetarian.  Once that succeeded, I took it a step further and made it vegan.

And it’s awesome.

Honestly.  I know that a lot of vegan food can seem sort of blah, but this is free of tofu/fake meat/anything else disgusting and is pretty dang good.  I’ve got a houseful of meat-eating Texans that consume this on a regular basis and haven’t complained about the lack of animal products once.  Not to mention that beans are amazing for you.  If you don’t believe me, check out my friend Cherrish’s blog about beans – she just happens to be a holistic health coach, so she knows what she’s talking about: http://holistichealthcoach.blog.com/2012/04/17/do-you-want-to-know-the-truth-beans-reign-supreme/

Ready to make some vegan food?  Let’s get started!

Ingredients

*Please note that I tend to “eyeball” quantities when it comes to spices, so I’ve given an approximate amount but this by no means exact.  Tinker with this as you will.

Olive oil

2 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or 1-2 cups dried beans; make sure to follow all presoaking/cooking instructions on the bag of beans)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (or dried; same as above)

1 large can (28oz) tomato puree

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes

1 white onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

2 Tbsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp red pepper (add more to taste)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 green onion

Tortilla chips, for serving

Brown rice, for serving (if desired – I think this may be an east Texas thing!)

1.  Heat a little bit of olive oil in the bottom of a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until they start to brown and soften.  Add the bell pepper and jalapeno and cook for a few more minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.

2.  Add the beans to the pot and stir.

3.  Add the cans of tomato puree and diced tomatoes.  Fill the can of tomato puree with water and add it to the pot.   If you’d like more liquid in your chili, repeat this step.

4. Add the spices.

5. Stir everything together and turn the heat up to high.  Let the chili come to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.  Let it simmer, uncovered, for about two hours.

6.  Prepare the brown rice, if using (we always serve chili over rice; I’m not sure where this tradition came from or if other people do it, but I can’t imagine chili without it).  Ladle the chili over the rice and crumble some tortilla chips on top.  Finish it off with some chopped green onion.

If you’re not a strict vegan, feel free to add some shredded cheddar and sour cream on top.  Mmm!

So Fresh and So Clean Clean

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I’m a little bit neurotic.  One of the things that I’m most neurotic about is my house and it’s cleanliness (or uncleanliness).  I’d love to have it just so, Pottery Barn catalog perfect, at all times.  However, with three kids, three pets, and a husband in the house it’s not really feasible.

But I try.

Recently, I’ve discovered that having a set cleaning schedule has really helped my efforts.  It ensures that the house is relatively  clean most of the time.  A couple of friends on Facebook asked about it, so here it is:

Daily Chores


Morning:

Unload the dishwasher

Make the beds

Wipe down the bathroom counters (typically I only do this in the master and guest baths, because they get used more often than the bathroom upstairs)

Evening:

Do the dishes

Wipe down the kitchen counters/table

Sweep the kitchen/living room

De-clutter/pick up toys

And then throughout the week I do the following chores per day:

Monday: Deep vacuum.

Did you know that it apparently takes SEVEN passes of the vacuum cleaner to actually clean the carpet?  That’s a bit much for me, but I have tried to do at least four passes per section before moving on.  Sometimes.

Tuesday: Dust surfaces and wipe mirrors.

Typically, I just use my Swiffer duster and give a pass over all of the blinds and the furniture – I don’t actually polish anything.

Wednesday: Tubs and Toilets

Thursday:  Mop all of the floors

Friday: Rotates between the following:

1) Polish all of the furniture and wipe down the cabinets

2) Clean all of the baseboards (again, I just use my Swiffer duster to do this)

3) Vacuum/wipe all of the uphostery

4) Scrub the fridge, microwave, and oven

Saturday: Laundry

I know it sounds like a lot, but it actually saves me SO much time.  Rather than wasting a whole Saturday morning cleaning the house from top to bottom, I do it in little increments throughout the week.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Or you could just hire a maid.  Which actually sounds pretty awesome.

Top 10 Awesomely Bad 80’s Movies

I love 80’s movies.  They remind me of staying up late with my brother during the summers, eating Cool Ranch Doritos and drinking Cokes (the snack of champions).  He and I would act out the scenes while they were playing on the screen: sometimes we would use ourselves, and sometimes we would use a cast of characters culled from my Barbies and his G.I. Joes.  We were obviously very cool.

I love 80’s movies so much, in fact, that I decided to make a list of my favorites (because I am obviously still very cool).  Here are my all-time top 10 awesomely bad 80’s movies:

10. Mannequin

Andrew McCarthy and a young, less slutty Kim Cattrall; what could be better?   Andrew McCarthy plays Jonathan Switcher, an artist who sucks at everything besides making mannequins and window displays.  It turns out that his favorite mannequin is actually possessed by an ancient Egyptian with a passion for fashion.  Together they make astonishing window displays for Prince & Company, a department store, much to the dismay of their clothing competition, Illustra.  Drama ensues, with young Jonathan caught in all sorts of compromising positions with his plastic love.   Best part of the movie? Creepy James Spader.

9. No Retreat, No Surrender

Jean-Claude, back in the heigh-day!  I have NO idea what I loved this movie so much as a kid; I suspect that I was heavily influenced by my Bruce Lee-loving brother.   Jason Stillwell, a kid whose dad was beat up by a gang of numchuk-wielders, moves to a new town only to become an instant target for bullies.  He somehow summons the ghost of Bruce Lee to train  him in the arts of karate, eventually using his new skills to save Seattle from a crime wave, lead by Jean-Claude.  So bad.  So awesome.

8. Splash

No compilation of bad 80’s movies would be complete without “Splash”.  Tom Hanks falls for a mermaid, who flashes the visitors at the Statue of Liberty and names herself Madison.  Here’s a bit of trivia: this movie was nominated for a Golden Globe AND an Oscar.  Bonus points if anyone can tell me what categories they were (without Google!).

7.

Big Business

Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin….AND Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin!  In the 1940’s, two sets of identical twins are born in the same hospital, on the same night.   The nurse on duty accidentally switches the twins (not noticing, I suppose, that one identical twin  is small with dark hair, and the other chubby with red hair).  One set goes to live in the country with a poor family, and one to a rich family in the big city.  Fast forward to the 1980’s, when both sets of twins collide in an attempt to save a factory.  There’s a scene where Bette Midler sees her twin and assumes that it’s a mirror, which my brother and I repeatedly acted out.  No, we are not identical twins.

6. Twins

Arnold, before he was governor, and Danny, when he was still able to get acting jobs.  A set of super twins is created in a lab but separated at birth find each other, and attempt to find their birth mother.  Enter a young Kelly Preston and you’ve got yourself box office gold!

5. Vice Versa

Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage play a father and son who magically switch bodies.  Not to be confused with “Like Father, Like Son“, starring Kirk Cameron, which is basically the same thing.   Confession? I always thought that Judge Reinhold was kind of hot.

4.  Walk Like a Man

My brother and I freaking LOVED this movie.  Howie Mandel as a boy raised by wolves is reunited with his fancy family (hello, Christopher Lloyd!).   Howie can’t keep his canine instincts in check, so he runs amok among his rich relatives, chewing on furniture and chasing fire trucks.  There’s a pretty sweet scene where he gives (ahem, steals) a Teddy Ruxpin doll for a little girl that can’t afford it. Don’t judge; dogs don’t understand monetary value.

3.  The Secret of My Success

Who can resist Michael J. Fox?    MJF plays Brantley (totally awesome 80’s name), a young kid from the country who moves to the big city to  make his fortune.   He cons his way into his uncle’s firm, sleeps with his aunt, and  falls for Helen Slater.  A little like Oedipus, but what 80’s movie doesn’t have a Greek tragedy underlining?

2. License to Drive

The two Coreys.  Need I say more?  If you haven’t seen this movie, slap yourself and get on Netflix RIGHT THIS MINUTE.  By the way, I just this minute realized that Heather Graham played Mercedes Lane.   Wow.

And the number one AWESOMELY BAD 80’s MOVE IS………….

1. The Legend of Billie Jean

There are so many reasons that this movie made the top of my list.   First, it takes place in Corpus Christi, TX, and frankly, there are not a lot of good movies set in Texas.  Second, young Christian Slater is YUMMY.  Third, it’s about a rebellious teenage GIRL, and frankly teenage girls don’t get a lot of street cred.  I loved Billie Jean and totally wanted to be her. Maybe that’s why I keep chopping off my hair and only wearing one earring…..

In case any of you noticed the glaring absence of John Huges and John Cusack movies (and who wouldn’t?), it’s because never, under any circumstances, could a movie by John Hughes or starring John Cusack be considered “bad”.  Ever.

Now tell me your favorite awesomely bad 80’s movies!