Thursday, November 29, 2012

Its Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

We spent the weekend after Thanksgiving decorating for Christmas. This was the best year for tree decorating! The kids were totally into it and loved looking at the ordainments and seeing who made what and where we got special ones! It was fun for us too to see how they are growing up from year to year too!

 Our Finished Tree!

close up

 Melina helped me string the popcorn and cranberries.
We got this ornament a couple of years ago when we went to Myrtle Beach!

 This was Logan at 3! I loved seeing how they little they each looked in years past and how much they have grown!

 We tried something new, to make things more festive where we eat!

 The front of our house

 And the back…since this is what we can see while we are eating dinner!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Because its that time of year

This past Thursday might have been Thanksgiving Day, but this whole time of year (basically from Nov - Jan) is a time in which our family counts our blessings and is thankful for them and in turn we try to help others too. This has been a great year in our family and I have much to be thankful for.

I am thankful for my family. For my kids who are healthy and strong enough to tackle each other down and then come running to mommy for a hug. For my husband who works hard to provide but has a sense of humor to tease me about how much I spend the money he makes. And that even though he needs to be reminded 10 times what time to be home sometimes, he shows up and takes care of the kids so I can walk out the door and go to book club or Jr. League, etc. And when I come home, there still may be baskets of laundry to fold, but they kids are nestled snug in their beds and everything was done.

I am thankful for my extended family who not only loves my crazy kids but thinks it cute when they call them 4 times in a day, and sometimes saying nothing, while they are crouched behind the couch with my stolen cell phone. And even though no one lives next door so they can be a constant source of babysitting they are still a rock in our family! I am thankful that for now my kids live close enough to a cousin that we can see him grow up!

I am thankful for my house. Sometimes I wish our house was built without a doorbell, but I love it anyway. Speaking of the doorbell, I really am thankful (most of the time) that there are kids in our neighborhood to ring it. That my kids go outside and play pick up games of baseball and football and build forts and play war.

I am thankful for my kids schools. They all have teachers that care about them and can compliment them and put them in their place, all in the same day. And all of my kids have teacher with a sense a humor. I love that! I love that I have a place to send them for several hours a day where they are not in my hair and they are actually learning and having fun! And I am thankful that they let me spend time in their schools volunteering.

I am thankful for my friends both near and far.  I have fantastic friends who are not mad if I am running 10 min late and I show up with food on my shirt and paint on my pants. Or I don't email or text back a response to a question for 3 days. These are true friends who put up with my crazy madness and I seriously could not be the person I am without them! You all rock!

I am thankful that we have the food for me to be able to try new recipes in the kitchen and that my kids and husband will eat them even if they are questionable. And I am thankful that we have space to work off the calories that that I cook!

I am thankful that when I wake up I can have a cup, or 2 or 3 of coffee. I love my coffee and my kids and husband like me better with my coffee too! I am thankful for my I pad which makes it easier to actually try to finish my book club books. I am thankful for Facebook so I can keep in touch friends even when life is overwhelming. I am thankful for Dora, who can keep my trouble makers entertained while I take a shower. I am thankful for my wet vac because without it my house would like rainbow threw up in it. I am thankful that my back yard has a fence and my back door has a lock and I have lots of floor to ceiling windows; sometimes its the only way to clean up after taco night. And I am thankful for my bed, even with extra bodies crammed into a queen bed, because I am exhausted at the end of each and every crazy day!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Treats

Turkey Cookies for the Preschool 
Thanksgiving Feast!

Pumpkin Pie Sugar Scrub for 
teacher Thanksgiving Gifts

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Teaching Your Child How to Give Back

Teaching young children to give not get is hard concept some times. Children are naturally self centered and concerned all about themselves. Here are some easy ways to help your kids give back at the holidays.

Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child is a worldwide organization that delivers shoeboxes full of gifts to kids in 3rd world countries. There are collection sites all over the United States (mostly at churches) and this is an easy and rather inexpensive way for your child to participate and give to others. You can take an ordinary shoe box and you fill it with goodies for a boy or girl in one of 3 age categories. You can put things such as hygiene items, school supplies, little toys and games and accessories in your box. These are all items that can be found at the dollar store, so it is one stop shop for you and your child. We have been doing this for years and it is easy even for a small child to help pick out items and fill your box. Check out one of our boxes that we just filled; it is for a girl 5-8.

Canned Food Drive

This is another thing that happens regularly, especially around the Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter holidays. While you can not take your young children to a soup kitchen to help, you can take them directly to a food pantry to drop off items. I have taken my kids to the Fish Food Pantry in Xenia, which works like a grocery store for those in need. The ladies there who received our food donation were overjoyed for the donation and to see the kids. And the kids could see how the food is used to create a shop where those who need it can shop for free. It was a great experience for them.

Angel Trees

I know you have all seen the trees at local malls, churches, banks and other locations all around town. This is a great way to teach your child how not to be selfless. My one recommendation is to make sure you check out the organization that is sponsoring the trees. Unfortunately there are families out there who take advantage of the situation and double and triple dip. A great organization locally that makes sure the families are in need and also makes sure they are on no other lists to receive gifts through any other organizations is Hannah's Treasure Chest. I take my kids each year to Target and have them pick out a gift that they would love for themselves (one they do not have) and then they have to give it away. This can be hard for kids, but it is a great lesson for them to learn early.

I know there are many other great ways to give back, but this is just a couple that are great for the holidays and easy for young children to participate in. Give thanks for what you have and teach your child to do the same. It is a lesson that will last a lifetime.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Family Photos!

We had some Family Photos done this weekend. 
It was beautiful weather and the kids did great!

To check them our click here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Saying Farewell, Not Goodbye!

We said goodbye to good friends today; saying goodbye is always so hard . They are moving to Texas at the beginning of the week, so not really a hop and skip away. But goodbye does not mean forever because good friends never leave your heart. Thank you Shana, Emma and Benjamin for the joy you have brought to our lives. I am so happy that we are friends! You will be thoroughly missed but always loved. Have a safe and fun move and best of luck in your new hometown!

So Cute!

Ants on a log!

Everyone in on the action!

Our kiddos have so much fun together!

Add caption

He was being a ham

Such great friends!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lasagna Soup

Several weeks ago (and many times since!) I received a phone call asking, "Whats for dinner?" When I replied Lasagna Soup, the response I got was not a happy one. The thing is though, he LOVES lasagna, so I was thinking this would be a home-run. After giving it it a shot (which to his credit he always does, and eats it even if he doesn't like it) it turned out he did really like my soup. We enjoyed it so much I have made it again. And now as the weather is cooler it is the perfect time for soup, so I will share the recipe you! For you local Daytonites try making it with Mama DiSalvos sauce…you won't regret it!

Lasagna Soup
Yield: 8 servings
    for the soup:
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 lbs. Italian sausage
  • 3 c. chopped onions
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I don't use anything but Mama DiSalvo's)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 c. chicken stock
  • 8 oz. fusilli pasta
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • for the cheesy yum:
  • 8 oz. ricotta
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • additional cheesy yum:
  • 2 c. shredded Italian Blend cheese


Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, sauce, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes (I let mine simmer for a couple of hours). Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy and absorb all the soup broth. You may even want to consider cooking the noodles separately, and then adding some to individual bowls before ladling the soup over them. This would be an especially smart move if you are anticipating any leftovers. Right before serving, stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the Italian Blend on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

October Madness

I think October is one of the busiest months of the year! 

I LOVE the weather and all the fun fall activities and we make the most of it each year. These past 2 weeks have been so busy with fall activities, festivals and parties that I have barely had time to catch my breath. But now, all but Trick-or-Treat is over (it is rescheduled for Saturday because of the storm) so here are some highlights.

Fall Festival at Church

I helped plan this festival and we worked hard for weeks, planning a bonfire and hayride, but unfortunately we were rained out. We held the festival inside and it still turned out great!

                          Play time!

Family Relay Races

Pumpkin Decorating

And we had many more fun activities too!

 Fall Fun in the Leaves

What is fall without jumping in the leaves?



 Dayton Mama's Halloween Party

It seems my luck was not with me this year, as we ended up with rain for this party too! But of course, the kids knew no difference and they had a great time with their friends!

making picture frames

Look at this cute table of friends!

Do you think she is happy with her ladybug?

Melina decorating her pumpkin

Logan and Carl had a good time hangin' out!

Arrr Matey!

The whole Crew!

 Pumpkin Carving!

Meeka "drew" a face and Michael helped her carve it. Then she drew some more. While everyone else was carving she was "feeding" her hungry pumpkin with all the scraps.

Melina did a great job carving her own Spider. She made a spider last year too and decided it was perfect choice for a pumpkin and she would make it again!

Logan modeled his after a picture on the Internet of a spooky pumpkin. This was his 2nd choice…no one is our family has the talent to carve his first choice! :)

Making some Fun Fall Things!

We did a couple projects too in between all the party fun! 
Did you know if you put a bar of Ivory Soap in the microwave for about 2 minutes it turns into a big cloud? The kids thought this was too cool! 

They played with it for a bit and then we put the soap in Halloween ice cube trays and made little soaps.
They took at bath in the dark with some soaps and a bunch of glow sticks! Talk about FUN!!! 

We made some caramel apples too!

Melina's Kindergarten Halloween Party

I did a pumpkin theme for her party. We read a book about Pumpkins, made a pumpkin craft and played pumpkin games! In the end I had the kids wrap all the Mommies up at Mummies! They got a kick out of that!

Playing games
Making her Pumpkin with toilet paper and tissue paper.

Aren't they a cute crew!

Meeka's Preschool Halloween Party!

Meeka and Carson having snack.
We made cuties into jack-o-lanterns for snack and they had a cookie too!

Making her handprint bat.

I have to say, I am happy about the Trick-or-Treat re-schedule! I was one of the people writing the major and the city planner asking for it! Yes, I remember Trick-or-Treating in the snow and cold, but not 50 mile an hour wind gusts. And now that I am a grown up, I have no desire to walk outside for 2 hours in the rain, snow and cold! So this Saturday afternoon from 4-6 we take to the streets to beg for candy!