Can you believe that January is almost over? As cold as it's been and as anxious as I am for warmer weather to come, I can't believe we're already planning for Valentine's Day! It'll be here before we know it, so let the planning begin. What treats should you make for family/friends, are you going to be buying or making all those special valentine's day cards, what will you be getting that special someone, are you getting a sitter and going out for the night, have you made reservations? So many questions, so much planning, why do we do this to ourselves? I'm determined to not stress over this holiday!
One of our favorite treats are chocolate chip cookie dough balls. I've made them multiple times and people always LOVE them, so I'm sharing the recipe and adding a fun twist for Valentine's day.
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 sticks butter (softened)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Beat the softened butter and the sugars until its light and fluffy. Add the milk and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until everything is well blended. Then stir in the mini chocolate chips.
To make the hearts, first pat out the dough in a pan lined with wax paper. It doesn't matter if it doesn't go all the way to the sides because you'll be using a cookie dough cutter anyway. Once it's about 1/4" thick throughout, put it in the fridge for an hour or freezer for 20 minutes. Once it's hardened a bit, you can use the cookie cutter to make the shapes. Place the shapes on another piece of wax paper. The remainder of the dough you can just roll into balls.
Melt 1 cup of chocolate chips (I prefer the milk chocolate, but feel free to use whatever you like best) and about 3 teaspoons of crisco (this will just make the chocolate nice and smooth). Be sure to stir the mixture until all the lumps are out. Then use a plastic bag and pour the melted chocolate into it (I put the bag in a cup so it sits upright when I pour it). Using a pair of scissors just cut a small piece off the corner of the bag. Squeeze the chocolate over the cookie dough hearts and balls. Feel free to add sprinkles or candy hearts to make them even more festive.
Once you're done, put them back in the fridge for at least an hour. Then you can store them in tubberware, layering with wax paper, or you can put them on fun valentine's straws for the kids. Just be sure to keep them in the fridge, otherwise they get really gooey.
All this talk about poop!
It has occurred to me lately, that I deal with a lot of shit. Literally! I have a 3 and 6 year old and you would think that my daily thoughts about their bowels have subsided, but oh no! I think I washed out 2 pairs of dirty underwear yesterday! (I have been known to just throw the underwear away if it's too gross!)
As I'm trying to get ready today, I hear my oldest yelling to the youngest, "Get me a new pair of under, I pooped in mine!" As I come running to the bathroom to confirm, all I can say is, "seriously?"
In the same day, I get a text from my cousin, "My kid just pooped on the potty and I'm so excited!" (which she should be, her kid isn't even 2 yet!) Then a couple hours later, I'm on the phone with my friend, "I think he's not sleeping well b/c he hasn't pooped in awhile."
Moral of this post - if you're not a mom yet, be prepared to have your daily conversations revolve around bowel movements. If you are a mom, YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT! Hope you have an "unshitty" day today :)
P.S. I thought it would be inappropriate to show a picture of my child on the toilet... I figured a butt crack was the next best thing, ha!
I needed something easy and quick to fix for dinner last night because we had a full evening and I knew we'd need to eat as soon as we got home... so I needed a crock pot recipe.
All you need are these 3 ingredients (and 1/3 fat free cream cheese is optional). Just add a scoop of JD's Salsa in seconds, the can of diced tomatoes and frozen chicken breasts into the crock pot. Set it on low and let it cook all day (6-8 hours). I added about 3 oz of 1/3 fat free cream cheese (don't use non-fat, it won't melt) 1 hour before we were eating, but that is totally optional! I threw this in to tortillas with cheese and lettuce and it was awesome!!
If you haven't heard of this JD's salsa in seconds, check it out. www.jdsalsa.com We love salsa in our house and go through it quickly, this jar you just add to a can of tomatoes and you have your salsa. Plus you can use it in all sorts of other things, marinades, dips, dressings, etc! It is gluten free, no sugar, no MSG, no preservatives. I met the guys that make it when we were in Chicago at the Merchandise Mart and they're awesome! One jar is $25 but it'll make about 25-30 one cup servings of salsa.
EASY Science Experiments with Kids
My nearest and dearest friend's daughter had a science themed birthday party on Monday and we weren't able to go. We did however stop by in the evening so my boys could have some fun with science experimenting. This set the tone for our snow day yesterday. My boys insisted on doing experiments, so I called my friend asking what type of experiments we could do with household items (since she had just done all the research for the party).
Our first experiment: Putting M&M's in water. That's EASY!! I was going to include a picture of what happened, but I'll let you go find out yourself. I would suggest putting a yellow and red next to each other (or any of the primary colors). Of course, this resulted in digging into our candy stash and seeing what happens to other types of candy.
Our second experiment: Take a baking sheet or a big tubberware bowl and add epson salts and baking soda. Then take vinegar and water and add food coloring to those (I let the boys each do one color). My friend had given us little squirters to squirt the vinegar into the baking soda/salt mixture. This got a little messy as they dumped and stirred and watched the mixtures fizz and bubble, but they loved it!
So on your next snow day when the kids are driving you bonkers or won't stop fighting, bring out some science experiments. It's fun to see what they want to try and what the experiments turn in to :)
My fun loving 3 year will turn 4 in June. With a summer birthday, this brings on a tough decision as to whether to send him to the 4's preschool (where he'll go for K-8) or have him take 2 years of pre-k before entering him into Kindergarten.
This decision to "redshirt" your child has become more and more common, especially for boys with summer birthdays. It is also a decision that is very controversial. Some parents feel like if you redshirt your child, you're trying to put other kids at a disadvantage.
My other son, who is in 1st grade and has an April birthday is now one of the youngest and smallest in his grade because all the boys with later birthdays were redshirted. Although you could definitely tell a difference when he was in preschool, he is doing just fine in his academics and he's an athletic kid to begin with so he's fine there too. He is smaller in height than most of the other boys though. Quite frankly, I think he likes the challenge of beating the bigger boys (he's rather competitive). Which brings me to my next question... Isn't there some truth to being the underdog and having to work hard at something? I'm afraid if I redshirt my youngest, that he'll coast through the early grades, not learning the lesson of having to work hard for something.
Then again, I haven't met any parent that regrets redshirting their child. My husband and I go back and forth about this decision. And maybe I'm putting too much thought in to it. Does it really even matter? What are your thoughts and experiences? I would love to hear some feedback from those that have redshirted, those thinking about it and those that sent their kids to kindergarten when they were supposed to go.
If you haven't heard of this phenomenon, check out some of these articles (ones that I have found to be somewhat helpful in making our decision).
Huffington Post Article
One of my dear old friends from high school is getting married in a couple weeks and we just had her bridal shower and bachelorette party yesterday. Since I had already purchased her wedding gift and had it shipped, and our local Macy's didn't have anything in stock on her registry, I was forced to give an alternative shower gift.
One of my college roommates got me this for my bridal shower (ahem... like 10 years ago!) and I absolutely LOVE the idea!
It's 3 bottles of wine - one to be drank on their first anniversary, one on their 5th anniversary and one on their 10th anniversary. Now, I am no wine connoisseur so I looked to the wine department at Binny's to help pick out wines that would age, 5-10 years. The 10 year bottle had to be an import from France because most of the wines made in the U.S. needed to be drank within 1-3 years. (why is that I wonder?)
So I put the 3 wines and some kitchen cloths in a picnic basket and presto, a unique, perfect gift for a couple of wine drinkers getting hitched! And what a great reminder of your friendship on these milestone anniversaries!
January 07th, 2014
Everyone got a snow day today (or should I say a "cold day") because temps were -40 degrees! My boys were excited to have another day off from school, while I was dreading it because it meant I had yet another day of 2 very energetic kids to entertain all day, with no where to go.
First item on the agenda was to make whole wheat applesauce muffins. They are a big hit in this household. Plus making them will kill some time :)
At the end of apple season, I made a ton of applesauce and divided it up in sandwich bags and froze it. If you don't have home-made applesauce, obviously store bought will work just as well.
I hope you enjoy these as much as we do! For a fun variation add blueberries, nuts or chocolate chips.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 cup applesauce
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp all spice
Place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix until well blended. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. This makes 12 muffins.
Melissa Ash - mom of 2 energetic boys, wife, and business woman. Just trying to "do it all".