Monday, January 28, 2013

- quick recipe of the week -

Happy Monday to everyone! Hope you guys had a fabulous weekend! Over the weekend, I actually stumbled upon a great blog called, Family Fresh Meals, that has a ton of amazing, family friendly recipes! You should definitely check it out! Today's recipe comes from that blog...and, of course, it's a crock pot recipe...cause I absolutely love using my crock pot! Anytime I can have dinner ready for me as soon as I walk in the door, I'm all for that!

Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese
1 box (13.25oz) of rotini, shell or macaroni pasta
4 Tbs butter
4 cups shredded cheese (I used a Colby-Jack blend, but Cheddar would work great too)
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature, cubed
1.5 cup of milk
-12 oz evaporated milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika

In crock pot mix together butter, cream cheese, milk, evaporated milk, sour cream, salt, pepper and paprika. Try to stir out as many lumps as possible. Stir in UNCOOKED noodles. Top with shredded cheese. (DO NOT mix at this point. The cheese will melt and make it’s way through the noodles. Cover and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours.

Image credit

Looks delicious doesn't it? Yeah, who doesn't love homemade macaroni and cheese?? Try it, I'm sure you'll like it!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

- dear ellie -

My dearest Ellie-

One day, you will understand why we are working so hard to establish rules and boundaries in our house. One day, you will understand why we are the adults, and you are still the kid. One day, you will understand that if we just gave in and always gave you what you want, we wouldn't be instilling in you the traits you need to be a healthy, happy person that doesn't always need instant gratification. One day, you will understand that sleep is an important part of your development, both physically and mentally, and you will understand why we continually pushed and encouraged you to get your rest and sleep soundly. One day, you will understand that sometimes, a parent needs to be a parent and stand their ground. Not just sometimes, but a lot of times. It's our job to keep you safe, and healthy, and sometimes that doesn't always make you happy, but we are doing it for your own good. And yes, one day, you will have this same conversation with your son or daughter, and you will realize that your parents once said the same thing to you...and even though you swore you would never say the same thing to your kids, you will. Because every parent plays the same role in a child's life, and while some parents may differ with how they say it, we are all saying the same thing. Ellie, we don't say no to you to hurt you, or because we enjoy seeing you cry. It breaks our heart to see those tears. But Ellie, you WILL be a better person as you get older if you understand that you need to hear "no" once in awhile. That it's teaching you very essential skills in life.

But for now, my sweet girl, since you are only 3, and you don't understand any of this right now, we will keep seeing the tears, our hearts will continue to break, but we will continue forward...boundary setting, rule enforcing. And I promise you little one, you will be a better person in the end because of it...because of the effort we are putting into parenting you right now.

Keep smiling my little one...keep shining...and keep that strong, independent spirit that you have. It's causing a lot of heartache around our house right now, but I know I wouldn't have it any other way. I want you to be a strong, young lady. A spirited, young lady...but one that knows and understands rules and boundaries, especially when it's for your own good.

Keep smiling my little one...keep shining...and please always keep that fiery spirit, my little one...

Image credit Nina S.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

- montessori school -

Over the past few months, we started touring preschools for Ellie to attend this coming September at the start of the next school year. She misses the cut off to start kindergarten when most kids her age will be starting, so she will be a "late start kindergartner" (just about to turn six when she can start). With this in mind, we held off one extra year to start preschool, because I really think she needed one more year to stay home and "mature" socially. She is an amazingly brilliant little girl (I know, I know...doesn't everyone say that about their kid?)... even her pediatrician said her cognitive and verbal skills are closer to the 5 year old level (hmmm, maybe they say that to all the mom's to make us feel good? lol). Anyway, as intelligent as our little one is, she is definitely very introverted and has a "slow to warm" personality. She takes a long time to warm up to people, and is usually always clinging to us in new situations...much more than most kids. So this extra year at home, is definitely not a bad thing for her...I just don't think she was ready to start preschool this past year. 

But we knew that in our area, waiting lists for preschools get unbelievably long, so we started touring schools in October, almost a full year before she would actually start. The first preschool we toured was right down the street from our house and came highly recommended from one of our friends who sent both her girls there. We liked the director, and the preschool was great, but I immediately got the feeling that Ellie would just get "lost in the crowd" at a mainstream preschool. The last thing I wanted was to find my kid in the back of the room everyday, avoiding all of the activity because it was just "too much" for her.

That's when my mom suggested we look into Montessori preschools, which is what I went to when I was Ellie's age. Funny enough, I was JUST LIKE Ellie as a kid...super introverted, anxious in large crowds and in most social situations. But I can clearly remember how much I loved Montessori because I never felt forced to always be with a large group of kids.

I tried to explain Montessori school to Matt, and I'll admit...he was pretty skeptical. One of the basic philosophies is that kids learn at the own pace, and can choose every day what they want to learn and what they work on for the day. And while there is circle time, and social time, a decent portion of the day is spent with the kids working individually, with a lot of one on one attention from the teachers. The teacher to child ratio is normally MUCH smaller in a Montessori school , which makes this easy to achieve. After I explained it to him, Matt was pretty much convinced that this was a type of school that bred loners, and that Ellie would never thrive in a school like that.

So I took my skeptical hubby to tour a Montessori school, and he immediately understood why I thought it was such a perfect fit for Ellie. It just "screamed" Ellie....everything about their teaching philosophy was perfect for her. While the social aspect is still there, she is able to have her alone time, and the one on one attention that she craves and thrives off of. It is the perfect way for her to learn those much needed social skills without forcing them on to her AND to excel academically, which I know she will do. And I have absolutely no fear of her "getting lost in the crowd" at a Montessori school. It just isn't possible the way the school and the curriculum is designed.

After we both unanimously agreed that Montessori school was definitely where we wanted her, we took some time to compare a couple of them, and ended up finding one that I just loved. I really, really like the director, and the school is small and has the lowest teacher to child ratio out of all the Montessori schools we toured.

Montessori is not for every child, but it definitely is for my child at this point in her life. While I don't see myself keeping her at a Montessori school through 6th grade (that's as high as most schools go to), as I WOULD like her to experience a more traditional school too, I think for now, this is a perfect fit, and I am so comfortable with my choice!

I'm not going to lie...the whole process was extremely stressful! I kept telling myself that this was her first introduction into education so we absolutely had to make the perfect choice! If deciding on a preschool is this hard, I can only imagine how much harder decisions are going to be as she grows up!!  Where did my little baby go??

Monday, January 21, 2013

- quick recipe of the week -

If you haven't tried quinoa definitely should! I'll admit, I was a little scared of it at first, and Matt still won't eat it, unless he can't tell that he's eating quinoa...but it's packed with protein, and is very good for you!

Here's a recipe for a simple quinoa dish with enough flavor, that even my husband wouldn't know he's eating quinoa!

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole
one 10 oz can condensed cream of broccoli soup
1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/4 cups reduced fat shredded cheese (cheddar, colby-jack, etc)
1/2 teaspoon Splenda/sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
dash freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups cooked broccoli
1 1/2 cups COOKED quinoa
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To cook quinoa:
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear. In a small saucepan combine the quinoa, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until fluffy and the white ring/tail is visible. Fluff with a fork. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a shallow (8×8 in or 5-6 cups) casserole dish – or individual ramekins – with vegetable cooking spray. In a large bowl combine the soup, mayonnaise, milk, shredded cheese, Splenda, pepper, and nutmeg until well mixed. Stir in the quinoa and broccoli. Spoon mixture into prepared casserole. Sprinkle on a couple tablespoons of Parmesan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly on the edges and golden.

Image credit

Super flavorable, packed with protein, and easy to make! Try it might just find that you have a new found love for quinoa!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

- a little of this, a little of that -

Okay, okay...I feel like I have said this a million times in the past 6 months, but once again...I have just been ridiculously busy, and this blog has unfortunately been put on the back burner. So here's a little catch up post for ya!

- My birthday is coming up soon...that's not the exciting part...the exciting part is that I truly thought I was turning a year older than I really am! When I finally realized this weekend,  that I have been aging myself by one extra year, it was like Christmas all over again! ha ha! Kind of like when you wake up on Sunday, thinking it's Monday...and when you realize it's only Sunday it's the BEST feeling in the world, right?

- The sleep situation has not improved at all around our house. Nope, not at all! I guess at this point, we just have to accept it, and wait it out (hmmm, isn't that what we've been doing for the past 8+ months?) We even brought a mattress into our room to let her sleep with us...yeah, she wants none of it. She absolutely REFUSES to sleep in our room. What toddler refuses to even sleep with mom and dad? Follow up post to come on this topic (even though I'm sure you guys are all tired of hearing about it) because I'm at my wits end, and I need to vent, to just get it all out...again.

- I'm dying to re-finish a piece of furniture...weird, I know, but I have read so many blog posts recently about refinishing old furniture purchased on Craigslist. Specifically with DIY chalk paint. I guess step one would be to figure out what I want, and where in the house I would put it. And step two would be to convince my hubby it's a good idea to support this idea! 

- We finally picked a preschool to put Ellie in next school year. This is big for her...she's never been in daycare of any type. I already know I am probably going to bawl like a baby the first week of school...seriously, I'm anxious about it already, and we aren't bringing her until September! I'll try to write up a blog post on how we finally settled on the school we did (if anyone is even interested!)

- I have seasonal allergies...but I feel like they are in reverse. Most people get them in spring, or even summer. Not mine...nope...mine flair up in winter! They are killing me!!

- So after reading all the blog reviews about Diet-to-Go recently, I think we're going to take the plunge and give it a try. Not that Matt and I are trying to lose weight, but we definitely want to start eating healthier. And the meals are perfectly proportioned and are made with all fresh, gourmet ingredients. And, it will also kill two birds with one stone...because we have been talking about trying to get Ellie to bed earlier to see if it will help her sleep problems. But honestly, with Matt and I getting home every night between 6 and 6:30 p.m., and then we have to cook dinner, give her a bath (if it's bath night), spend time with her, and then start the bedtime routine, we find it very, very hard to get her to bed earlier than we currently do. The problem is, bath time is not something that can be cut out, and I absolutely won't give up spending a little bit of time with her. With Matt and I gone all day long, every minute that we can spend with her in the evening is so important to us. The bedtime routine is, of course, mandatory, so cooking dinner is the only thing at this point that we can cut out. By getting food delivered, I won't have to cook, and maybe this will help get her to bed at least 1/2 hour earlier each night. We decided to at least give Diet-to-Go try, because they are having an introductory special offer. I know it will end up being more expensive than me cooking dinner each night, but if getting Ellie to bed earlier helps her sleep...then maybe, just maybe it's worth it?? It's not that we can't afford it, it's just a matter of, is that what we should/want to be spending our money on. I'll be sure to update you and let you know how our trial food is, and if we decide to continue!

It's time for me to fold some laundry while watching some mindless episodes of Big Bang Theory (love that show, hate doing laundry!) And because no post of mine is complete without a picture, here's one for you to enjoy. Shocking that it's a picture of Ellie, right? ha ha!

Monday, January 14, 2013

- quick recipe of the week -

Happy Monday everyone! I hope everyone had a stellar weekend! Ours was full of good friends, and lots of food, and a little bit of football. I was able to have a relaxing spa pedicure on Sunday morning...a well needed break. And Matt earned the "Super Dad" award when he chose to take Ellie to the park instead of going to the bar to watch football with his buddies. She enjoyed her Daddy-Ellie time so much! Overall, a great weekend!

Today, I'm super super excited for you to meet Katie, from Standpipe and Sprinkles. Katie left the sweetest comment on one of my blog posts about 3 months ago, and we've been fast friends ever since! She is seriously one of my the coolest, most friendly bloggers I have ever met, and I adore her. We chat through our blogs and IG everyday, and I love always being able to talk about our day, ask her a question, or just say a quick hello! If only we lived closer! One of the reasons we clicked so fast is because her darling little girl had similar health problems as Ellie had when she was a baby. It's always nice to hear from other momma's that had to deal with the same things you had to deal with. It definitely makes me feel like I wasn't crazy back then, and that others had to weather the same "serious reflux and eating issues" storms.

Image credit Katie
Katie lives in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, where she raises her sweet daughter, Maile, who will be 2 in the spring! Katie has been married to the love of her life for going on 6 years. The family also includes two spaniels, and a very persnickety old cat. Katie spends most of her time reading books with her little one, going down the slide at the park 10,000 times, painting and playing pretend, and dreaming of growing all her own food.

Sweet Thai Chili & Creamy Goat Cheese Dip
12 oz White French loaf
Butter, or your favorite buttery spread (I like Earth Balance Soy-Free Natural Buttery Spread)
Parsley flakes, if desired
Thai sweet chili sauce (I use Mae Ploy, because it is most available in our area)
6 oz fresh goat cheese

Preheat oven broiler on low setting.Cut bread into slices, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Butter, to taste. Arrange slices on a nonstick baking sheet, then sprinkle with rosemary. Broil sliced bread until the edges are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove to serving plate. In a small serving dish, pour Thai sweet chili sauce over goat cheese (I use about 1/3 cup per 6 oz cheese). Garnish with parsley flakes. Dip or spread, enjoy ... and be prepared to share this recipe!

Image credit Katie

How amazing does that sound?? Perfect for a Superbowl appetizer! Or for a dinner party! Or just for an appetizer before dinner!

Thanks so much Katie for sharing this delicious dip with us. Now only if we lived closer so we could enjoy it together! Because I know our girls would get along grandly! :-)

Please go say hi to Katie. You'll love her! Like, you will really really adore her! She's just plain awesome!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

- bedtime battles -

Isn't funny how some kids fight sleep so much...they hate napping, they have no interest in going to bed. They battle it every.single.night. (Hmmm, sounds like a certain toddler that I know!) But as you get older...all you want to do is get a good night's sleep. I would LOVE to take a nap each day...and if only I didn't have a million things that I need (and want) to accomplish each night, I would gladly climb into bed at 7:30 p.m. and not budge until 7:30 a.m. I mean twelve hours of sleep each night? Heaven!!

Ellie is only 3, but I can already find myself turning into my parents...telling her the same things they told me when I was little...telling her that she is going to wish she could sleep and nap when she is older...that she will absolutely love her bed, and love the time of day that she can finally sink into it and catch some shut eye...of course, she looks at me like I'm crazy, and tells me in the best toddler voice "But momma, I don't like to sleep"...oh baby, if you only day you will be begging to be able to sleep half the day!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

- happy, a documentary -

My hubby recently came home with a free movie from Starbucks, Pick of the Week. We sat down to watch it the other night and I have to say, it was great! So interesting, and eye opening. I think it's something EVERYONE needs to watch. It's short, only an hour and ten minutes. It's a documentary about happiness...who truly has it, and why. Based on years of scientific research, the documentary goes one step further and travesl the world studying who are the happiest people worldwide. You'd think it would be the rich, the elite. However, most of the happiest people are the people living in third world countries, who don't know what wealth is. Their basic needs are met, and they are so grateful for that, and are truly happy. The documentary also discusses that in countries like Japan, where people work and work and work to achieve status and to continually climb that corporate ladder, they are experiencing the least amount of happiness much so, that they actually have a specific name for deaths that occur due to over-work and large amounts of stress in their lives. It's a country wide epidemic..stress related deaths due to over-working and lack of  happiness.  It talks about how unhappy the modern world makes our culture, and how "Keeping up with the Joneses" can be the number one happiness killer in your life.

It really is such an interesting documentary, and it's so thought provoking. It really makes you look inward at your own life, and your own happiness, and it makes you question where that happiness is coming from, and if it is truly authentic, intrinsic happiness. I highly recommend it! I know it's available on it, and watch it...and really think about it. Because we could all benefit from more happiness...true, genuine happiness!!

Watch the trailer HERE

Friday, January 4, 2013

- tgif -

I hope everyone has a radically awesome weekend!!

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