Saturday, September 29, 2007

Yesterday I felt validated

Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend of mine. Her name is Renee. I have known Renee since my older boys were babies and Renee was in high school working at the boys' daycare. When the boys left daycare I fell out of touch with Renee until last year when she magically appeared at the daycare that my two younger ones go to. This time she is the office manager and she now has two young children the same ages as mine. How life comes full circle.

It seems that Renee left the old daycare on very bad terms with the owner and with the woman who is now my boys' stepmother. There was much backstabbing and gossip going on that she had to move past it.

Renee and I had a casual conversation the other day regarding stepmother. The incidents over the years with her as the stepmother to my children have been excruciating and painful and I feel as though they have probably added years to my life considering the many, many days of stress. I have endured the pain and agony for 7 years for the sake of my two beautiful boys...because it's my job to be a mom first and then worry about myself later. But that doesn't make my heart turn to stone. I have feelings of which have been stepped all over by a person who claims to love my kids. No matter. The boys and I have endured and conquered her.

Back to Renee. As I was speaking to her yesterday she turned the conversation toward stepmom. She told me some things that no one has ever told me outside of my dear husband. She validated all of the things I have been feeling about stepmom. She validated how horrible she is toward me and she validated the things she saw her do and her motivations when she worked with her at the old daycare.

Curiously I asked her for more information not quite believing the first of this experience...that someone within stepmom's circle of friends (or former friends) actually was telling me that it was HER who is/was crazy and insane and NOT me!

I walked away thanking her because I had never quite had this happen before...that is, someone close to the situation who saw the pain I had been feeling who finally stepped up and took my side. I truly felt validated.

I spoke to Greg about it afterward. Why do I need to feel validated by others? Why do I need to hear it from outside myself to feel confidence that I am doing a good job by my boys? He told me that it really is human nature for all of us to want to be validated and reassured that we are on track in our life and that we are being commended for the good we try to do and the nice people we try to be.

I got in my car yesterday and cried but this time I was crying happy tears because of the relief that I felt inside that I no longer needed to hide or be ashamed of the situations that I go through with stepmom and that even though I would like to change the situation, I can't and I finally freed myself because there are others out there who understand and that felt pretty good.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Our Pediatrician is Retiring


After being with our pediatrician for almost 15 years he is finally retiring. We found out yesterday when we brought TinyToddler in for a 2 year checkup. After examining him he broke the news to us. I don't know why but my eyes filled up with tears and I hugged him and wished him well.

This doctor has been with us since the day that my first child was born and I have been really loyal rarely agreeing to have any 4 of my kids be examined by anyone but him. I guess that was why I was so saddened by the news of him leaving. I feel that I could always depend on his answers and his references. He was always so good about referring any of the kids to specialists...always erring on the side of caution.

He was the one who told us to take our little princess to see a genetist because he was afraid she might have neurofibromatosis. It turns out that she did have it but since there are no tests for it I felt that his intuition proved worthy of attention.

He referred my oldest teen to an endocrinologist because of his suspected growth stoppage and was concerned that he might have a deeper problem. It turns out that his bone and hormone growth is a couple of years behind his chronological age so we don't have to worry just yet. He still has a lot of growing to do.

He caught my pre-teen's inguinal hernia when he was 7 years old and we promptly had it fixed.

He helped bandage up my oldest when he broke his arm 5 years ago.

He has been on hand for many ear infections, viruses, colds, and checkups. I have come to regard Dr. Cohen as a dear and loving friend of the family and I will miss him dearly. The practice just won't be the same without him.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

George Clooney...I don't really get it

I am probably in the minority on this one but I just don't get it with the George Clooney obsession. There is NO WAY that this man.....



is sexier than this man....


Come to think of it the sexiest man I know is here...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Carnival of Family Life

Welcome to the September 24, 2007 edition of carnival of family life. I am so honored to have been able to host this week. I think that we must have broken a record of over 80 posts! I read each and every one of them and learned a great deal. After that many posts my eyes start to blur so if I have made a typo or any other mistake please forgive me. That said, I hope you all have as much fun at this carnival as I did putting it together.

Family Circle



Learn some special tips on how to make dinner special as Tiffany Washko presents Do You Eat Together? posted at Natural Family Living Blog


Loraine presents Quick Tip: The Evening Stroll posted at Time for Family, and learn how their daughter's love of bike riding has brought the family together.


JHSEsq presents a beautiful story in Surrounded By Angels and the Peace They Bring posted at Colloquium, saying, "Do you believe in angels? JHSEsq does -- and believes that they have assisted her family in tangible ways."


Janine Cate presents What about band? - Day Three posted at Why Homeschool, saying, "Janine writes about picking up the trumpet again, after twenty years, largely because her daughter is playing the clarinet in a Symphony Orchestra."


Eric Ellen presents a unique look at your growing child in If You Are Aware of This Important Reality Your Perspective On Parenting and Kids Will Forever Change posted at Husbandhood.


Doug Boude presents Promoting Family Unity: A Weekend at the Beach! posted at Doug Boude (rhymes with 'loud'). Join in on his fun-filled event.


Kyle James presents 10 Solid Parenting Hacks posted at Rather-Be-Shopping.com Blog, saying, "Some practical tips to make parenting a little easier."


Alta presents 80 Miles Round Trip posted at Love Country Living. where she shows how a long car ride can provide many learning experiences.


If you want some super tips on how to teach your kids financial lessons visitSuper Saver presents Financial Lessons From My Parents posted at My Wealth Builder.


Sibling rivalry can exist in a home with a new baby and a beloved pet. But Kevin Heath presents When Baby and Pet Meet posted at Baby Development and Breastfeeding Resourcesand shows us how to blend the two.


FamilyBriefs presents Family Briefs.com » Blog Archive » Sleepless in Alabama posted at Family Briefs.com. There is nothing quite like sleep deprivation!


Kids, Kids, and More Kids



Micellaneous Mum presents An apologia to my offspring posted at Miscellanous Adventures of an Aussie Mum, saying, "Trying to make nice to my kids during a nasty week!"


If you are a parent you certainly have had to deal with this topic. Abel Cheng presents 5 Essential Ways of Dealing with an Angry Child posted at Parent Wonder.


Chief Family Officer presents Review: Kozy Carrier Mei Tai (& Special Offer!) posted at CFO: Chief Family Officer, saying, "I love wearing my baby and I also love my Kozy mei tai!"


Laura Young presents What Ever Happened to the Carnival of Courage Mascots? They're Wanted...WAAANTED posted at Dragon Slayer, saying, "Please indulge an auntie. I don't have kids of my own but am related to a couple American Idol fans that I caught rocking out to Bon Jovi."


Awesome Mom presents Breakfast Blues posted at Our Family Village, saying, "I think I may have stumbles on a solution to my son’s breakfast eating quirks."


Summer presents Toliet Paper and Breastfeeding posted at Wired For Noise. See the breastfeeding comments that has this mom in an uproar.


Derek Brown presents You Can Advance Your Childs Brain Power By 3 Years! posted at Digital Storme | Life On The Web, saying, "Well research has proven that there is yet another way to give our children the advantage they so desperately need to succeed in this competitive world of ours. And that advantage is a daily supplement of Omega 3 from fish oil."


Melitsa presents How curious? posted at Play-Activities.com, saying, "It was interesting to watch a thought be acted out by my preschooler. See where curiosity leads your child..."


Corey presents Mothering Style posted at Living and Loving Every Minute of It!. Find out which style you are.


Ariah Fine presents Optimism and Fussy Babies posted at Mother Approves Blog. Yes, the two can happen together.


Do you ever wonder if you are missing some warning signs when it comes to the healthy of your baby? Jenny presents Common Mistakes by Mom posted at the so called me.


Megan Bayliss presents What is Child Protection? posted at Imaginif..., saying, "Child protection is something that we all need to practice (and mostly already do) in order to protect all kids."


Terri Mauro presents Finding a Special Job for a Special Kid posted at About Parenting Special Needs. She says that unexpected jobs can come from unexpected places.


The search is on as mom & dad presents Kids and Braces: Losing a Retainer posted at raising4boys.com. Find out what they are looking for.


Do you ever wonder how to get your husband's attention away from the computer or maybe get him to do more housework? Karen Patrick presents YOUR ?FILL IN THE BLANK? MAKES ME HOT! posted at Coming to a Nursery Near You. and find out how to get your man to do what you want.


Erica Douglas presents ADHD - A Convenient Excuse? posted at LittleMummy.Com. Join in on this common debate.


This soon-to-be grandmother (again) Jody DeVere presents 10 Children's Car Books I Love posted at Ask Patty - Automotive Advice for Women. and hopes that her love of cars rubs on at least one of her darling grandchildren.


Learn how to cope when you go past your due date.Leisa presents downwiththekids.net » Blog Archive posted at downwiththekids.net.


Hannah Russell-Davis presents 10 Essential Packing Rules when you’re Traveling with the Kids posted at Family Hack, saying, "This sanity saving post is a must read for any parent."


:: Suzanne :: presents sleep, eat, swim, repeat posted at :: adventures in daily living ::. You will turn green with envy when you see how this family spends their vacation time.


Laura presents a reflection posted at Adventures in Juggling, saying, "just a bit of wisdom i came across recently that i will remind myself of the next time my circus clowns are driving me crazy...that will most likely be this afternoon when they return home from school."


manicmama presents Can Children Learn How To Be Happy? posted at manicmama. Find out the answer to this question.


Lill Hawkins presents I Got Rhythm posted at News from Hawkhill Acresand shows that trying to coordinate social schedules can prove to be a real challenge.


Anne Maybus presents The Tall Poppy posted at The Tall Poppy, saying, "As a parent you need a whole new set of skills to cope with life in the wide world."


On Motherhood



Doris Chua presents Be a Hip Mamma! posted at Welcome to DorisGoShopping.com. with these adorable maternity fashions.


Emma Honey presents Miss M and a lesson in manners posted at healthandfitnessfactorfiction.com, saying, "A little act of kindness restores some faith in humanity"


zamejias presents 30 Things posted at Verb. Listen to her describe the 30 things she has learned about being a mom.


Sheila Scarborough presents Nursing is best for a traveling baby posted at Family Travel: See The World With Your Kids, saying, "Can you nurse a baby and travel at the same time (plus chew gum?"


Leslie Williams presents Yeah, I can...oh; no...I have to...wait, maybe posted at Do You Weary Like I Do?, saying, "Craziness of a busy mom"


It's been a year since the death of her mom. Jessie presents Hunna's Happenings: My Mom posted at Hunna's Happenings. A touching tribute to the mom she still misses.


The Joys of Fatherhood



Exploding diapers aren't just for moms to clean up. Mathew Butka presents Adventures Of A Stay At Home Dad: Mothers - Beware The Plight Of Stay At Home Dads! posted at Adventures Of A Stay At Home Dad.


Aaron Emerson presents Personal Development For Dads Challenge #4 - Live In The Moment posted at Dadviser, saying, "Learn how you can be a better dad with these great ideas for seizing the day."


Jared Hoylman presents To Sex Or Not To Sex? posted at DadThing.com. where he explores the choices between finding out the sex of your unborn baby.


George presents Becoming a Father posted at Man and his Babywhere he talks about his hopes and dreams for the relationships between himself, his father, and his new child.



Marital Bliss



Madeleine Begun Kane presents Taking Our Marriage's Temperature posted at Mad Kane's Humor Blog. You are sure to agree with her cute little poem about marriage.


Heather Cotten presents Cooking Blunder posted at .: The SoapBox :., See what happens when you feed to much garlic at your very first dinner party.


ABCs of Education



Joy Miller presents Online degrees from Penn State posted at Online College Blog, saying, "If you are looking for an online college with a stellar reputation, you might want to consider one of Penn State’s 50 online degree programs."


Summer presents A Is For Apple... posted at Mom Is Teaching, saying, "A look back at our first week of homeschooling this year."


Dana presents A homeschooler's guide to unhappiness posted at Principled Discovery. where she gives us the most hilarious pointers in keeping your homeschooler unhappy.


Going Green



Activist Mommy presents It's Easy Being Green posted at Activist Mommy, saying, "Share tips on how your family tries to be eco-friendly and win the book It's Easy Being Green"


Check out the newest car trends as Jody DeVere presents GM 2008 Collection is Coming up Roses with a Focus on Energy Diversity posted at Ask Patty - Automotive Advice for Women.


Tasty Recipes



Bored of the same old chicken recipe? Csara presents Family Friendly Chicken Dijon posted at Baby Talkersand cures your chicken blues.


Jenny Rapson presents Cake Makin’ with a Manic Mama posted at Mommin' It Up!. Her cakes are absolutely beautiful.


On Health



FitBuff presents Lifeline Screening: 15 Types of Blood Tests and Checkups You Need posted at FitBuff.com's Total Mind and Body Fitness Blog, saying, "How do you make sure you are aware of your true overall health condition without becoming a paranoid hypochondriac?. Read more to find out."


Terri Holley presents Outsmarting the Status Quo: Strategy #5 - Create a Physical Energy Source posted at The Health and Life Mixing Bowl, saying, "We often overlook the important role our physical bodies play in caring for and keeping up with our families."


Get a head start this fall with some awesome food finds. Char Polanosky presents 20 Healthy Fall Fruits and Vegetables posted at Raising A Healthy Family.


Alvaro Fernandez presents Judith Beck: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person posted at SharpBrains, saying, "Interview with Dr. Judith Beck, cognitive therapy pioneer, on how those techniques can help lose weight in a healthy manner."


halcyonica presents The Yoga Studio is a Good Place For Men Too | Dayprimer.com posted at DayPrimer - Your life. Primed.. Yoga isn't just for women anymore.


Carole Fogarty presents Calm your mind and ?unplug? your stresses, worries and concerns in two and half minutes: posted at
THE HEALTHY LIVING LOUNGE, saying, "This is my personal all time favorite quick fix to restore sanity to my life. Enjoy."


Around The House



Vee presents Can't Hold A Candle posted at Marcy's Barn. where she shares some candle stories and tips to burning beautiful candles.


HowToMe presents Is it possible to make a Drip-less Candle? posted at HowToMe, saying, "Cooler days are coming! There are many drip-less candles recipes available."


Dust mites often play safe by sneaking into spaces between bedclothes, carpets, stuffed furniture and similar soft objects. Learn more about these pesky creatures as Aparna presents Beware of dust mites on your pillows posted at
Beauty and Personality Grooming


On Saving Money



Annette Berlin presents Kids Gifts From The Dollar Store posted at Frugal Journey, saying, "Buying gifts for kids can be murder on your pocketbook…but it doesn't have to be. Read here for more information.


Yes you CAN make your own baby wipes and diaper creams. Linsey B. Knerl presents DIY Baby Care for Your Cheap Bum posted at Wise Bread. and shows you just how to do it and save some money along the way.


paidtwice presents Experiments in Frugality: Disaster Number One posted at I've Paid For This Twice Already...How to avoid the pitfalls when you are trying to save money.


On The TV



pickel presents Can Aspergers Win Top Model? posted at
My Two Boys.A story about overcoming a disability to follow a dream.


For A Few Laughs



Want to read some gross stories that are actually more funny than gross? Riley presents What's Grosser Than Gross? posted at
All Rileyed Up.


You gotta love a good customer service story. Stephanie has a few of them as she presents Customer Service Pet Peeve posted at Stop the Ride!.


For an intriguing dialogue catch Charlie Close as he presents
>Blue is a Boy (Charlie and Kathy story) posted at Summer Grasses, stories from the seasons of life by Charlie Close


Loveliness of Poetry



Donetta presents A Smiling Wife (Poem) posted at A Life Uncommon, saying, "There is a simple power in a womans smile."


On Personal Development



You must read this if you are considering leaving your career for one reason or another. Silicon Valley Blogger presents Why I Want To Retire Early, Change Roles and Live On One Income posted at The Digerati Life


See how a digital photograph can be altered to whatever you want. David B. Bohl presents A Virtual Day, Place, and Time - Re-examining My Perceptions of Reality posted at Slow Down Fast Today!.


Have you ever feared failing? Most do but GP presents Feel The Fear and Doing it Anyway posted at Innside Innkeeping - Montana Country Styleand shows us how to get through it.


Tupelo Kenyon presents Make Assumptions Obsolete by Communicating posted at Tupelo Kenyon, saying, "The answers to unnecessary assumptions is in clear communication."


Edith Yeung presents How to Read People and Get Your Point Across? posted at Edith Yeung.Com: Dream. Think. Act..


Dr. Neill Neill presents Trust and the Healthy Family posted at Practical Psychology for Capable People, saying, "The origins of inability to trust are usually found in childhood. "Learn how to recognize them and how to deal with these issues.


Halloween Treasures



Deb presents Only 40 days until Halloween... posted at Mom Of 3 Girls, saying, "It's never too early to start thinking about how to handle Halloween - the costumes, the candy... BOO! :)"


Bring your appetite because Host Bee presents Halloween Night Buffet posted at Busy Bee Lifestyle.



That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
carnival of family lifeusing our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.



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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Will be back tomorrow

Hello everyone. I rarely go this long without a post but I am preparing for my first carnival and it is HUGE! Over 80 posts big. I want to do an awesome job so I am spending a lot of my spare time reviewing them and making the carnival nice. I am going to upload it tomorrow.

Also tiny toddler's birthday party was this weekend so much going on at my house.

Will post tomorrow with awesome carnival fun!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I LOVE This Game!!

You Are 17 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

There is a bug in my house today

Greg has a bug and needs to get an antibiotic for it.

Jack has a bug called the terrible twos.

Kelly has a bug called "The Princess Rules the Roost".

Kevin has a bug that is pestering the heck out of Ryan.

Ryan has a bug that won't allow him to fully understand that (-14 - -17) is "3" and not "-3".

And I am the mom. I can't afford to have bugs.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tech-Child

This picture says it all...my child teaching herself how to read with a computer. Life in the 21st century sure is grand.



Do you have any photos to share? If so, send them to me or link them to me in the comments. I would love to share them with everyone.

Cooking With Your Kids

This morning I decided to let my younger kids do some of the cooking. The princess is an expert now on cracking eggs, scrambling them and putting them into the pan. She does toast and sets the table. I am so blessed that she has such an interest.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Christmas Shopping Discounts

Yes it is fast approaching and I just found an awesome website for great discounts even this early in the season..CouponChief. You can find discounts and savings in almost every popular store. I have navigated around this site and have found the latest and greatest discounts that I could have never found all on my own...or at least if I did it would have taken me lots of hours.

I plan to use my personal favorite, Target, where I will most likely buy everything for all of the kids in my family including jewelry, games, and a flat screen TV for my older boys. I will also splurge on a Dora the Explorer tent for my young daughter who goes crazy for Dora.

I will most likely head on over to The Gap for carpenter shorts (his favorite) for my dear husband. You can get discounts for online shipping and in store savings as well. I may even root around for a really nice coat or jacket for myself.

Leaps and Bounds will be where I will head for my little nieces and nephews. There are so many learning toys there. I am certain to find lots of nice things for them.

And last but not least it will be Zappos where I can get free shipping on handbags or win a free pair of shoes...maybe a nice pair of Steve Madden or Kenneth Cole.

I better stop talking now so I don't give all of my surprises away.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Homemade Granola Recipe

I found this really awesome recipe on this blog. It's for homemade granola. I am always looking for a healthy snack for the kids and I am certain they will love this. I can't wait to get the ingredients and put it together tomorrow.

CHOCOLATE CHIP GRANOLA BARS

4 cups organic quick oats
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup organic mini-chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped organic walnuts (or nut of your choice)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9×13” baking dish.
2. Spread oats onto a cookie sheet (don’t grease it) and bake for 15 minutes. Stir them a couple of times. Allow them to cool completely.
3. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add the oats. Spread the mixture into the baking dish, pressing down to compact it.
4. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely and cut into bars.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

How to make a rue

Last weekend when I posted my recipe for Mac n Cheese I promised to write a little bit about how to make a rue.

It's a few days late but it's here...my basic recipe on making a rue. A rue is very easy to make and extremely versatile. The most popular things that you can use a rue for is gravy or soup. But in reality a rue is a thickening agent because it's a flour base. What that means is that you can thicken any liquid with it to make the sauce or gravy. For example, if you make a rue and add chicken stock to it and stir until the stock and rue is incorporated and heated through it will turn to a nice gravy. Add some sauteed mushrooms and you have mushroom gravy. Add cheese to it and you have the base sauce for macaroni and cheese. You can also add mustard and it makes a really good mustard spread for sandwiches. You see, it's all about the method. You can get as creative as you want for a variety of dishes.

So without any more hesitation here is the recipe:

olive oil, one turn of the pan
3 pats of butter
3 tbsp flour
1.5 - 2 cups of stock or milk (see HINT below)
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the butter and stir in with a whisk. When butter is melted, add the flour and whisk the flour in with the butter until the flour cooks fully and no longer looks white. The flour might clump up but that is ok. Add the liquid and whisk to incorporate until all the lumps are gone and the sauce starts to thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the sauce is at the desired thickness remove from heat and add to the dish you are making.

***HINT*** If you want to make a milk based rue or gravy (for mac n cheese for example) then use milk as the liquid. If you want to make a stock based rue or gravy (like for chicken or turkey gravy) then use chicken stock as the liquid.

video

Bon Appetit

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Office on TBS


My favorite TV show is coming to syndication every Tuesday night at 10 pm on TBS. I am so excited because I was really going through some major withdrawals this summer.

I love this show so much that I have my own blog on it where I am getting ready for season 4 and the Primetime Emmy show coming up this weekend. The Office is nominated in several categories and I am anxious to see if they win.

Season 4 premiere is coming up on September 27 and it is going to be a really good one and an hour long. But from what I understand it won't be nearly as good as the third episode only a few weeks after that.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Mississippi Mud Cake



Happy Birthday to Greg who turned 41 today! The only thing he requested for his birthday was that I make him Mississippi Mud Cake. I had no idea what that was but he found a recipe online and printed it out. I made it and it was a hit. We all went into sugar-induced comas. I have decided to attach the recipe here if anyone dares to try it.

Cake:
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, cut into big chunks
1/2 c. cocoa
4 eggs, beaten well
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. chopped walnuts or pecans

Frosting:
One 16-oz box confectioners' sugar
1/2 c. cocoa
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 c. mini-marshmallows

1. To make the cake, heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13x9 inch pan. In a small saucepan combine the butter and cocoa and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the butter is melted and the mixture is well blended. Stir in the beaten eggs, vanilla, sugar, flour, salt and pecans and beat with a wooden spoon or a spatula or with a mixer at low speed until the batter is well combined and smooth, and the flour has disappeared.

2. Quickly pour the batter into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until the cake springs back when touched gently in the center and is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.

3. Prepare the frosting while the cake bakes so that you will be ready to pour it over the hot cake. In a medium bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar and the cocoa, and stir to mix them well. Add the melted butter, milk, and vanilla and use a large spoon or a mixer at low speed to beat everything together well. Set aside until the cake is done.

4. Remove the cake from the oven, scatter the marshmallows over the top of the cake and return the cake to the hot oven for about 3 minutes to soften the marshmallows.

5. Place the cake on a wire rack or a folded kitchen towel. Pour the frosting over the marshmallow-dotted cake, cool to room temperature, and then cut into small squares.

Bon Appetit

Friday, September 7, 2007

Pay to Post - How Exciting!

I stumbled upon a friend's blog because she hosts a "Make It From Scratch" carnival that I post to weekly. She often talks about her side job of being paid to post on her blog. Curiously I wondered what that was all about. After all, I love to talk in cyberspace, ie. blog. I can give reviews on anything and certainly have loads of experience to speak intelligently on many topics.

So I ventured over to the PayPerPost website and started to educate myself regarding the website and I really fell in love with it. I subscribed to it and my blog was accepted in their registry. Once you are accepted you can go and find "opportunities" in their database to blog for dollars.

Their online help desk is really outstanding. If you have any questions...and I have had a few...you put in a ticket stating the question and you check back to see the answer. They give you your number in the waiting line and then you can check back to see its status of resolution. Every one of my tickets was resolved within 24 hours and the answers I was given were concise and direct. (You don't find customer service help like that often).

I am hoping to earn some "mad money" to help pay for Christmas this year and to help me buy down a little debt that I accumulated over the summer. If you are interested in PayPerPost feel free to go there and don't forget to tell them that I sent you.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

An All-American Classic - Mac -n- Cheese


This has to be the easiest recipe that I have ever made for my family. The best part of it is that it is so versatile. You can add meat, veggies or just about anything you like to provide a variety. You can also switch out the cheeses and add a more exotic cheese for an even fancier dish. It's a favorite in my house with everyone, not just kids.

1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil, 1 turn of the pan in a slow stream
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups whole or 2 percent milk
3 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, a couple pinches
Salt
1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked 8 minutes or to al dente, with a little bite to it

Heat a medium, deep skillet over medium heat. Add oil and butter. When butter melts into the oil, add flour and combine. Gently cook, whisking flour and butter together, until smooth and flour has had a chance to cook, about 3 minutes. Slowly add milk while continuing to whisk. Gently bring milk to a bubble while stirring frequently. Allow the milk to thicken a bit, then stir in 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese a handful at a time. Season sauce with nutmeg and cayenne. Taste and add a little salt, if you like. Add cooked pasta to sauce and coat completely by turning over and over in the cheese sauce. Transfer to a baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Place baking dish under a hot broiler and brown the cheddar cheese on top.

P.S. The bolded part of this recipe is what is called "making a rue." It is so simple that anyone can do it. I am going to post this weekend all the different things you can do with a basic rue base.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

First Day On The Job

Today was my first day on my new blogging job and I am really excited. I am actually going to get paid to blog. I am really new at paid blogging and am kinda nervous about it. I want to do a really good job because...well, because I am a total perfectionist.

The blog is on NBC's hit show The Office. Right now I have so many ideas that I can't seem to put them all down into words so the new blog might look a bit awkward at first. I suspect in a week or so I will feel more comfortable in the medium but for now I am just starting up.

I could sure use the encouragement so feel free to subscribe to it or leave a comment for me. I could also use the traffic and publicity.

Here is the link and I hope that you enjoy what it is going to become as much as I am creating it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

From Crib to Bed

You would think that after 4 kids I would have all of the workings of a child figured out. After all, I have two teens and two twadds. I have learned so much over the years that I can certainly fill a couple of volumes of books. Hey, maybe that will be my next business venture.

In the meantime I have a crisis on my hands and I am not sure how to handle it. So I will retort to my analytical side while pulling out volume II of the toddler manual that will lead me to the perfect solution to my problem:

HOW TO GO FROM CRIB TO BED IN LESS THAN 10 EASY STEPS!

Here is what I have come up with.

1. First, it is important to determine if your toddler is ready to go from crib to bed. How do you do that? I am not sure there is a quick answer to that question. I believe good communication from your toddler such as lots of screaming and crying at bedtime combined with a mother's intuition. Right now my intuition is screaming that it is time.

2. Make a really nice transition place for him/her to sleep. I have chosen to take his crib mattress and remove it from the crib and place it on the floor right next to his crib. My thinking is that not much has changed with his environment. His sheet is the same, blanket is the same, mattress is the same. This way he gets the affect that the only thing different is that prison-like feeling of being trapped in the crib.

3. Here is where I get a bit confused and had a tough time last night. I tried to get him to lay down on the mattress except all he wanted to do was sit up so I let him sit up as long as he stayed on the mattress. As soon as he wandered off I put him right back on. That was a bit tough but after some fussing he got the point and stayed on.

4. After success keeping him on the mattress he decided he wanted to chat with me. He started calling out for me and for daddy. He babbled a lot in his own cute language. He kept calling me expecting me to answer but I tried to remain silent so as not to encourage him (I learned that on the TV show Supernanny).

5. After an hour of him talking he finally stopped and then started to lay down to rest. Eventually he fell asleep but then I wondered if I should lay down on the floor with him in case he woke up in the middle of the night and could not figure this new process out. So I set up camp next to him and went to sleep with him.

6. Several times he woke up in the middle of the night which I expected but I quietly stroked his back to get him to fall back to sleep. He wrestled around a lot and it seemed like he would never go back to sleep but I guess he did because I was awakened in the morning by my cell phone alarm clock.

I am not sure if I can call the first night a success because of all the tossing and turning but I am trying not to hold the bar too high. I guess only time will tell and we shall see if tonight is the same as last night or an improvement.

My only concern is with sleeping next to him. I don't know if that is a good thing to do on the first few days but it just feels very strange to me to not be there during this transition.

What do you think? Any advice on how I can make this a better transition for us?

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Fruits of My Labor

I often ask myself if all of the time and energy I spend into teaching and nurturing my kids is actually paying off. Most times it is not too obvious on the surface. It isn't until it shows up unexpectedly that makes you sit up and take notice. I can often equate the feeling to putting money into a savings account. You keep socking your money away and the interest is minimal but then after years of doing it you look back at the account and suddenly you have quite a bit of money and it all seemed worth it.

Even though Kevin has been in his Catholic high school for only a few weeks I often question my decision to send him there. After all he was going somewhere completely different and didn't know a soul which can be pretty scary for anyone. The school is strict on its uniform code right down to the belt and tie. They attend mass once a week during school. They are required to do community service. If he is going to pursue the baseball team he has to be in conditioning class after school every day for 2 hours.

He hasn't complained once about any of this...not the lack of friends, clothes restrictions, church, or conditioning. Here was my teen who used to gripe about church ("Do we have to go?" was his Sunday mantra), loves his clothes, hated exercise and never did it. Now he runs almost 4 miles a day, lays out his uniform the night before, and goes to church without a peep.

Yesterday was a test. He had a baseball game at 8 am and ended at 10 am. They won the game which meant that they would advance to the semi-finals and that game would start at 12:30. The timing was perfect. We could go to mass in between the games and be back just in time. Kevin would have to go to church with his dirty uniform on and dark black stripes under his eyes but so what? Jesus wouldn't care.

I was amazed at what happened. HE DIDN'T OBJECT! He accepted it graciously and never uttered a word. This is definitely not the teenager I am used to having around my house. When we were at church he didn't once ask me what time it was to be sure that we were not going to be late getting back to the game. NOT ONCE DID HE ASK ME WHAT TIME IT WAS!

And as I reflect on yesterday and with the worry on my mind if I did the right thing by sending him to Chaminade I have to say that so far my answer is yes.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Great Recipe for a Hot Day

I have decided to post a recipe each week of some yummy dish that I love a lot.

Today I am going to write about the power of a Cobb Salad.

I love Cobb Salad because it has the potential to become anything you want it to be. It doesn't require a lot of cooking so you don't have to get all hot and sweaty slaving over a hot stove to enjoy a nice, relaxing meal. The basics for this salad are as follows:

Lettuce
Any kind of Salad Veggie that you like
1 hard boiled egg
Bacon (if you prefer but feel free to leave it off)
Chopped Walnuts
Boneless Chicken Breast
Your favorite salad dressing

First fire up a large saute pan over the stove on medium/high heat(this is the only real cooking I do for this salad). Sprinkle olive oil on the bottom of the pan to coat. Dress the chicken simply with a little salt and pepper. Once the pan gets a bit hot put the chicken in and cook on both sides approximately 6-8 minutes on each side depending on the size and thickness.

While that is cooking, toast up the walnuts by placing a few handfuls in a small saute pan and for just a minute or so heat up them up over a medium flame. You don't want to overdo this because the nuts will burn. You just want to warm them up to bring out the flavors in the nuts.

Assemble your salad with lettuce on bottom and then add to that the rest of your favorite salad veggies such as onions, shredded carrots, celery, tomatoes, or mushrooms. You can even add thawed frozen corn for an added flavor. The key here is that there is no limit to your imagination and you can also clean out the leftover salad stuff in your refrigerator.

After the veggies are added I cut up the chicken and add that on top of the veggies. On top of that goes the egg cut up and the nuts. Drizzle with your favorite salad dressing and serve with a nice hunk of bread and you are good to go.

Bon Appetit!
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