What’s for dinner?!

Being in the kitchen makes me so happy. I love cooking and baking for my family. Sometimes breakfast is rushed, lunch is usually just the boys sitting together or grabbing bites while they run around and play, but dinner, dinner is when we all are sitting together and talk about our day.

Dinner might actually be my favorite part of the day. L usually starts us off by saying he didn’t take a bite of anything yet while he’s talking with his mouth full and then he says Grace, with one of the preschool prayers he’s learned this year. We take this time to talk about our day, our highs and lows, and maybe what some fun plans ahead might be.

Dinner is special to me. To all of us.

Here is what is planned for this week. It might not be the healthiest week I’ve ever planned, but a few of these were by request .

3/10-3/15

Sunday: Tater Tot Casserole- this is my Grandma’s recipe that my husband and boys just love! I love that she’s shared so many yummy recipes with me!

Monday: Pizza Quesadillas- pick your own insides! Served with salad

Tuesday: Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo (using chickpea noodles)

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Greek Chicken (H and I LOVE olives!)

Thursday: Baked Ziti with spinach and spicy Italian sausage (or ground pork if I can’t find spicy without fennel…I HATE fennel!)

Friday: We are going to find ourselves a Fish Fry. If you have suggestions for a great fish fry in the Twin Cities let me know!

Saturday: Lazy Pierogies served with Chicken and salad. Lazy Pierogies are jumbo shells stuffed with mashed potatoes and onions and sprinkled with some cheese before baking 🙂

If you make any of the recipes in my dinner plans please share photos! I’d love to see!

Enjoy!

Advertisements

First Born vs. Second Born: Danger Edition

Are there things that you let your second born (or third, fourth, etc.) do that you would never let your first born do at that same age? Take my kids for example: I never would have let 2 year old L use a knife or scissors but H wants to do what his big brother does…ALWAYS.

I was cutting strawberries and H wanted to help. I do my best to explain that there certain things he isn’t able to do yet because of danger and I think he understands those things. He has used a knife before more for pretend, but today was the day he wanted to put his practice to use.

My boys are supervised at all times, especially when potentially dangerous situations could happen. Ok, let’s be real…kids can turn any situation into something dangerous!

They know how to carefully carry scissors, but we have practiced with play scissors. Same goes for knives or tools! We have given our children some toys that they get to be just like us, whether that’s a play kitchen, tool kit, cars, Doctor kits, etc…they aren’t just playing for fun, they are using their imagination and also practicing good skills to have!

I think my first born taught me to be cautious. My second is teaching me to loosen the reigns a bit. I am helping them use the skills that they are learning to put all of that knowledge to good use!

The Kitchen Sink

The kitchen is the spot where we all are found regularly. The kitchen connects the dining room and our playroom, there is always movement, there is always a bit of a mess. I might be in there cooking or baking, with or without help. The dogs can be found hanging around for something to fall or getting their own food and water. The boys are usually scheming ways to find snacks… after having snacks. They even teamwork in the fridge now and gather apples and cheese sticks. So basically what I am trying to say is that our kitchen RARELY sleeps…and this means our kitchen sink usually has something in it.

When we bought our house, we didn’t realize it didn’t have a dishwasher! Our sink is pretty and big and I love it….especially when it’s empty. (Honestly it’s rarely empty.) The sink could have dishes from dinner or just a single spoon from a peanut butter lollipop, but what I am learning is that this is really a blessing. A sink with something in it means there was food that was made and shared. Conversations happened over a meal or little giggles between brothers as they helped each other pour their own milk.

The sink is somewhere I can be found often. The boys also love to help wash dishes or wash their hot wheels. I hope that they are learning these skills now to take with them later in life when they have their own dishes to wash in their own homes.

From the sink, I can hear playing (or arguing) downstairs, I can hear the boys reading in the living room, I can also look at the window above the sink and see the squirrel tormenting the dogs in the backyard. (On that note I better get going…)

So, moral of this post: the sink might not be completely empty everyday, but it does mean my family is lucky, blessed, and loved.

Is that a doll?

Why yes, yes, my son is playing with a doll. Why does it matter to you? I know this may sound harsh, but really I don’t need random people giving me their opinions on what my child should be playing with.

H started playing with baby dolls at an ECFE (Early Childhood and Family Education) class we were taking. He would rock the baby and feed the baby. It melted my heart watching him play with the baby dolls. He always knows when a real baby is nearby and makes a point to say hello. He’s a loving and caring child and I will nurture those qualities no matter what.

I was telling my mom how much H wanted a baby doll and kept asking for one. She sent him the one seen in the photo above. He was beyond excited to get HIS BABY. The joy in his little body was so great, he smiled so big when he opened his package.

Since his baby arrived, they go everywhere with us. The baby doesn’t have a name yet, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t loved. The baby goes to the gym, the grocery store, to school pick up, etc.

I can’t tell you how many people commented on the fact that my son was carrying around a baby doll. A friend said to me when discussing this issue with people inserting their opinions, “Do you think they would have made a negative comment if he were carrying a stuffed dog?” Honestly, I don’t think any comment would have been made or if there was it would have been, “Aw, so cute!”.

I tend to walk away when people make comments at the store, but maybe I need to take the time to explain to them that there is nothing wrong my son playing with a doll. To me, I see a child learning to be nurturing (he changes the baby’s diaper and feeds them too), caring, and pretending to be just like his Mom and Dad.

H is learning and growing. It doesn’t matter what he plays with, he’s using his imagination and developing important life skills. So, yes, my son is playing with a doll. Playing with his baby is no different than him playing and using his imagination with his tools, cars, trucks, superheroes, stuffed animals, etc… It shouldn’t matter to you what he chooses to play with, what should matter is that we are raising loving, caring, and compassionate children who will one day excellent friends, uncles, fathers, partners, and contributing members of society.

What’s for Dinner?!

The week of January 27- February 1 is a odd dinner week here! I will only be making dinner 5 out of the 7 nights. I am already thinking ahead and have some fun dips/dishes planned for next weekend…for the Puppy Bowl…we are much bigger puppy fans than football fans.

Sunday: Easy Vegan Falafel (thank you to Jasmine for sharing this recipe) served with couscous, cucumbers, tomato, roasted red onion, and hummus.

Monday: Dinner with Gert and Papa

Tuesday: Crockpot Ranch Chicken Tacos

Wednesday: Chili / Mac & Cheese Night at School

Thursday: Skillet Gnocchi Pizza Bake served with salad

Friday: Hamburgers with potato wedges and salad

Saturday: Omelets and fruit and maybe 2 ingredient bagels!

Bon Appétit

Wildkin Luggage

Traveling with children isn’t a walk in the park. Lucky for me, my boys have been traveling for a good part of their lives and are decent travelers. Since L was about 2, he was carrying something of his own when we traveled. It gave him great pride to have something that was his, that could be filled with his things. I think this was a start of instilling responsibility in him.

Now that H is almost two, and he will be 2 when we fly across the country next, he will also have to carry something of his own.

When I came across the Wildkin luggage, I knew it was perfect for our family.

I partnered up with Wildkin to share with you about their luggage for children, and oh my goodness it couldn’t be cuter!

We received two pieces of luggage, a rolling suitcase and a duffle bag.

The Roller Bag:

This bag is lightweight and the wheels roll nicely. Either child (4.5/2) would be able to successfully use this bag. We plan on using this as a carry-on. The bag also comes with a strap that you can attach to the back to carry as a one shoulder bag and there is a loop that you could use to connect to a larger bag.

The Roller Bag also has a water bottle holder and a front pocket. L is already planning on what snacks and books he can pack in there!

The Duffle Bag:

It is so cute seeing L holding the duffle bag! He fell in love with the bag instantly! The bag has a padded shoulder strap and a small front zip pocket. Perfect for a weekend getaway or toys, books, and snacks!

Both bags are wipeable and should only be cleaned with a cloth. Make sure to let them dry complete before closing them up!

Whether the boys are flying to Revvie and PopPop’s or driving down the street to Gert and Papa’s, these bags are perfect! The boys know that these bags will be used for special times and are excited to use them ASAP! I know these Wildkin bags will be with us for a while! Oh and did I mention how many fun patterns they have?! You have to check them out! Wildkin Luggage

Disclosure: I received these bags from Wildkin and this review is my honest opinion about the luggage. This post is sponsored by Wildkin.

Reasons for Remy and Zoey

I figure with the holiday season upon us I wanted to share about our rescue pups. My husband and I always knew we wanted to rescue a dog. I think dogs are amazing creatures and I’d take any of them but there was something about rescuing that really was important to us.

Zoey:

Our ZoeZoe just turned 9!

We knew we wanted a dog and talked about it often when we were in college. We moved to Ohio in 2009 and we decided to wait until after the holidays so we could maybe find a dog that we knew really needed a home. We found Zoey at a shelter in January 2010. She was with a few of her brothers. We found out that her mom was left on the side of the road pregnant with the puppies and was under extreme stress. Zoey was the runt of the bunch and they didn’t even think she was going to make it. When we met her we knew she was ours, little did we know at the time that the stress her mother had during pregnancy was passed to the puppies…We would later learn that Zoey is unable to shut off her stress. Zoey was put on Prozac after we worked with a behaviorist for a while. It seemed to help! Something changed when we moved to Minnesota, Zoey’s was almost like a different dog and we were able to wean her off of the medication.

Zoey loves to snuggle with the boys and is the Queen of being sneaky…she knows who to sit by during meals.

We noticed Zoey getting white whiskers and eye lashes. We know she’s getting older and we will continue to love her forever. She’s our first baby.

Remy:

December of 2015 I had my second miscarriage. I was numb. We were numb. I needed something, a distraction maybe? We discussed over Christmas that we needed to find a puppy. Were we crazy? Probably.

Again, we wanted to adopt a dog after the holiday season, since we have seen it time and again, people gift animals and then realize they don’t want them or take care of them after a few days.

We met Remy. He was dopey and looking for love. We found out that Remy already had 4 homes by the time he was 8 weeks old. He was homeless, taken to a shelter, adopted and returned after Christmas, and then put into a foster home. We were this little puppy’s 5th home. We figure that Remy’s need to be attached to my hip or constantly with someone might not just be the GSP in him, but also the fact that he was so lost for the first few weeks of his life.

L and Remy bonded immediately and then we needed to make sure Zoey would like him too…and she’s a tough one to impress if you know her. To our surprise, they clicked. Remy was the newest family member.

When H came along we were nervous to see how Remy would adjust since we knew Zoey would be fine…Remy and H seem to team up from time to time and get into trouble together. The dogs fit into our family perfectly.

So today, it’s 6 of us. Two adults, two children, and two dogs. It’s a little crazy at times (ok, most of the time) but we wouldn’t change it for the world.

I’d like to ask you to keep in mind all of the animals who are looking for their forever home and who are in rescues. You do you, but please don’t return your dog. They are family. If you need help, ask someone, a friend, a family member, or your vet.

The Question of Cutting Cable

This is something that we have gone back and forth on for a very long time. We pay for so much cable and we barely use it. We do our best to keep screen time for the boys to a minimum but there are days we have something on in the background. We try to be outside as often as possible (although it’s gotten so cold so fast here) and encourage play and learning when we are inside.

The TV tends to come on in the late afternoon when I try to get dinner started…sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. I always enjoy winding down to something mindless or funny at the end of the day, but life gets crazy and I’m trying to read more! I’ve even joined a book club!

On top of the cable we also have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon (through Prime). And these companies have some great shows of their own, for both adults and children. We sometimes pay for extras, like Showtime, we love ending our Sunday nights with the Gallagher family when they are on.

I mean this list is excessive and we watch over the air channels and maybe three others. So we have decided that now is the time we CUT it, at least for now. We have narrowed our choices down to HuluLIVE or YouTube TV. Does anyone have any either of these? Pros/Cons? Let me know your opinion!!! These options will be significantly less expensive than cable. Now, if only we could find a way around the cable company’s cancellation fee!

My #momlife

This. This photo. This is how my #momlife looks most of the time. My husband had come in from the other room to see our two children and two dogs basically on top of me. In this position I usually end up covered in slobber (from both the humans and dogs) but I also know I’m covered in so much love. I wish you could hear this moment, there was so much laughter and I’m so thankful Matt snapped this photo. It’s not perfect, it’s not set up photo, this is our real life…and I wouldn’t change it for the world. (Ok maybe I would make the dogs not shed, but you know what I mean.)

What does your #momlife (or #dadlife) look like?

Voting

I swore I was taking the boys to vote with me on November 6…just like my parents would take me when I was little. I said it every day, “We will vote on November 6.” I may have said it as a reminder since you know, mom brain.

Last week, two of my friends posted about early voting and voting in general (Hey Danielle and Allison!) I didn’t think about early voting. I decided to look into it and realized I could apply for an absentee ballot. It took me maybe 5 minutes to fill out the online form and by the next day my ballot was in the mail.

I was excited at how fast it came! The real reason for my applying for an absentee ballot was that things come up…I know my life can go from calm to poop literally on the floor in the matter of seconds. I didn’t want November 6 to roll around and me lose track of time or miss my chance to vote because of something coming up.

This morning I made sure to get my ballot in the mail and I will proudly wear my sticker today. (Ohio, I hope you’re with the program now and give stickers to absentee ballot voters!!)

I voted while the boys ran around and sang Baby Shark. L asked what I was doing and I did my best to explain to a four year old What voting was and why we do it. I told him that I voted to help make our world a better place, for me, for him, his brother, my sister, my brothers, and our friends and other family. I want the boys to know that their voices matter and they need to make sure their voices are heard. Their vote might only matter when it comes to meal planning right now, but eventually they will be 18 and voting with the rest of us adults.

Family and Friends…PLEASE VOTE. I will love you no matter how you vote, just please do it.