Saturday, August 22, 2009

Smockity Reviews and Giveaways: Lines of Communication (and a $200 Visa gift card)

What I said:
Since my kids are 1 and 3 I'll speak from a different POV... the POV of having been a teen and how my mom kept communication open with me, and also of being an oldest child and how I kept communication open with my youngest sibling through times in his life when he wasn't comfortable talking to our parents.

1) LISTEN! If you're so busy talking, telling, or scolding that you don't hear them, they're not gonna come back next time. So before you open your mouth, close it and listen to the child, hear them totally out. When they are finished is the time to put in your 2 cents. While they are talking, make sure you are communicating to them that you are listening with your heart to what they are saying.
2) Start young. If your toddler is babbling at you incoherently and you just distractedly say, "Oh that's nice dear..." and go on about your business, there is a prime starting place for positive change on YOUR part. You need to listen to them when they are babies, listen with your ears and your heart. Give them your full attention. Get down to their level. Really try to understand them. Let them use props like pointing or signing, or taking you to see what it is they are talking about, or acting it out to help you understand them. Listen to your tot even when you can't understand them. Listen to your 9 year old even when she hasn't taken a breath in 12 sentences and you're going cross-eyed trying to keep up. Then when she's 13, 15, 17, she will know that you will listen when she wants to tell you about the boy who broke her heart and the best friend that went over to the Dark Side. And she will be proud to tell you about how she turned down a cigarette behind the bleachers today because she knows instead of jumping on her after the first sentece with dire warnings, you will listen to her whole story and be so proud of her when she gets to the end. Or she will know that if she made a mistake she can count on you to listen to the whole story so that you know where she was coming from when she made the mistake.
3) Tell stories. Kids love to hear about how you were a kid like them once and that even though times have changed, there were pressures on you as a child that can help them relate to pressures they will face. Don't wait for it to happen and then use your story as an object lesson... it's better to preempt it! You know she'll be getting her first cycle soon so when you're together tell her about what happened to you your first cycle so she knows what to expect. Tell it in a timely manner. It won't do any good WAY before the fact. It might not do as much good after the fact. But always be telling your kids stories about you. TRUE stories. They might not always have a HAPPY ending, but they should always have a PURPOSE and a lesson in them. Even if it's just to tell your kids you have been there so when you say don't go there they know you speak from experience.
4) Answer the phone!! This one I learned the hard way with my 21 year old brother. :( Always always always make time for them when they want to talk. Even if they call right when you're about to go take a nap, or want to talk when you're in the middle of cooking supper, it's so very important to take the time for them so they know they are more important to you than a nap or supper. Even if you have to say, "Well I'm in the middle of supper right now so how about afterwards when you're loading the dishwasher I will have your Dad bathe the littler ones tonight and I'll help you with the dishes while we talk? That way we can have some privacy just you and I!" Or if they call from college or their own home when you are busy, make sure you call them back that same day! If you don't call back it hurts them. It hurts them deeply. So please, answer when they need you! If you don't, you will lose their hearts and they will stop talking to you and start talking to their peers instead!

Smockity Reviews and Giveaways: Lines of Communication (and a $200 Visa gift card)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cheating on Dinner

Okay so last night I was tired and didn't feel like cooking anything amazing so I cheated.

Mac & Cheat Dinner... Lol! (I'm a dork, yeah I know.)

Brown up 1 to 1.5 pounds of ground beef (whatever amnt. you usually use for a meal) and set aside to drain.
Make up 1 or 2 (depending on size of your family We use 1 box for our family of 4 but if we had bigger little eaters we'd have to use 2 because I like leftovers for next-day lunch) boxes of Mac & Cheese according to the box directions.
Add the beef to the mac & Cheese.
Add 1 can of condensed tomato soup - do not dilute. Add a sprinkle of Oregano and a sprinkle of Basil. Don't add salt- tomato soup is mega salty tasting already.
Heat until it bubbles, mixing all the while. If there doesn't appear to be enough tomato soup to spread through all the noodles, add a dash of milk.
Serve. Tastes kinda like cheesy spaghetti. :)

If you have solid-eating babies, I give them some of the plain cooked noodles and beef before I add the cheese sauce and soup. This meal is good served with toast and some sort of steamed veggie. If you add parmesan with the tomato soup or sprinkle it on after serving it makes it even more delicious! It takes a whopping 10 minutes to make and everyone loves it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Smockity Frocks: On Comments

Smockity Frocks: On Comments

My two-cents:
When I read blogs by bloggers that never reply to their comments, I don't post any comments because I feel like if the person can't take the time to at least post once in response her 47 comments "Thank you all for your input!" or something appropriate to the content, then I assume she doesn't even read her comments. ... When I take my eyes off my two toddlers, things tend to deconstruct rapidly. So I want to know that my comments (composed sometimes over the course of hours in the spare seconds between screaming kids, diaper changes, potty training, the little one eating crayons and the big one coloring my kitchen table, and figuring out what's for dinner), are actually being seen and appreciated.

But as others said I don't expect a personal reply to every comment by any means. It's just nice to see one by the blog author occasionally so I know my comments aren't just floating around unnoticed in cyberspace. ;)

... As to whether or not I come back and see if there's a response... Yep. I do. Sometimes it just takes me a few days, but I do like to check back if I've posted something I think might be responded to.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sew tired!

So today my sis came over and brought some sewing supplies. She's preggo and due in a week. She doesn't have a crib, just this family heirloom cradle of her hubby's which needed a new mattress. Well I'm sure you can guess how easy (impossible) it would be to find a mattress the right size for a handmade cradle that's been handed down through several generations. So she brought an appropriately sized chunk of foam padding and some fabric and we sewed. And by we I mean mostly me since she was intimidated by my sewing machine and was going so slow it would have taken all week. Hehe... So I took over and she took her cankles for a break on the couch and verbally corraled the kids (mine 1 and almost-3, and her son almost-5). I finished up the cover for the foam pad, tried to cut out a makeshift sheet for it but messed up so I got out my fabric (I had a nice bit of some lovely light buckskin colored soft flannel) and made a whole new sheet, one which actually fit this time. Then I made a burp cloth for her out of the scraps and she edged a waterproof pad for the mattress. It took us 5 hours! Bleh! I'm exhausted. I can imagine with her being pregnant she is probably totally exhausted too.
Speaking of which, I have a bone to pick with her! Her midwife threatened to put her on bedrest at her appointment this morning. So instead of going home to nap she came straight here to sew all day. :-/ I should call her and make sure she's chilling at home now with her feet up. If she doesn't take it easy I'm gonna have to pull rank and give one of my big sister lectures. (which, if you know me, consists of giving a dissapproving look and sarcastic "uh-huh's" because I'm too much of a doormat to actually out with it - especially to my fearlessly verbal sibling.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cheesy Broccoli Lentil Stew - YUM!

Last night for supper we had cheesy broccoli lentil stew. Oh I just LOVE this particular lentil stew! If you've never tried lentils you should. You really should. I've heard them compared to lima beans but EWWWW limas are so gross there's no way! If lentils were like limas I wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole. (Just don't tell my kids there's a veggie even Mama won't eat! Lol!) Miss Chicklet (almost 3) LOVES lentils. In fact, she's at the kitchen table right now eating cold leftover lentils and happily mumbling about "Yummy 'gumes!" My 1 year old had lentils for the first time last night and he scarfed them down like a starving person. My husband had never heard of lentils until he married me! He didn't want to try them at all. It took some blackmail er... convincing to get him to taste them. The verdict? He LOVES them! He ate 3 heaping bowlfulls last night! Lol!
Lentils are a legume. (Which I happened to call them last night at dinner, trying to be funny. Hence my daughter's ''gumes' comment.) Basically a bean for all practical purposes. They are about the size of a dried pea and are flat and brown, red or green. They are supposedly a good source of protein and complex carbohydrates. A real superfood. Unlike beans you don't have to soak them overnight, and unlike rice they are quick to cook. The key to tasty lentils is not OVERcooking them. If you boil them too long they get mushy like the dreaded lima bean and that for me is a big turn-off. I can't stand to eat anything that has that mushy-lima-bean texture. *shudders* Unless you're a fan of mooshy limas, you'll want your lentils cooked minimally. I mean, you should be able to chew them without breaking a tooth, of course, but once they are tender all the way through that's where I stop. Usually takes about 15 minutes once it's boiling for perfect lentil doneness.

Now, who wants my lentil stew recipe?

Cheesy Lentil Stew
1 pound ground beef
1 pound bag of dry lentils
about 1 pound of frozen broccoli florets (or cauliflower, or both)
alot of grated cheese, sharp is best, maybe 3 or 4 cups? About half a small block grated up or more.

First wash and sort your lentils. Just put them in a strainer and run the faucet on them while you dig around a bit with your hand. I've never found a rock in my lentils but my mom has so it is possible and that's what you're checking for. No need to let your OCD get the better of you though, just dig around a bit and if you see something rocklike, remove it. When you've rinsed them and "sorted" them, put them into a big pot. Fill with water to about 1" above the lentil level. Now put it on HIGH to boil. You're gonna want to stir it often so the lentils don't stick to the bottom and burn. Unless you have a nonstick pot like I do- not healthy but it sure makes cooking easier. When it starts to boil start timing 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, brown your beef and drain it.
Back to our delicious legumes; You can add more water if it gets too low (you don't want it to boil dry) but the goal is to have the lentils be almost totally out of water by the time they're done. You see, all the nutrients boil out into the water and if you drain out the water there go the vitamins down the drain. So you want to just boil it down to where there's barely enough water to cover the lentils when you've removed the pot from the burner and things have settled. Except that you're not gonna remove it from the heat after all... You're going to taste a couple and if you think they need more cooking, boil them a bit longer and keep tasting until you are satisfied. When you're satisfied, like I said there should be hardly any liquid left. If there is too much you will have to remove some and pour those nutrients down the drain... *sniffle* bummer! But don't worry, it takes a little practice to know when to stop adding water to the lentils so that there is the perfect amount left when they're done. If you make this a couple times you'll have it down pat.
Now you add your frozen broccoli. Boil, stirring, until the broccoli is warm on the outside. Then turn down to a barely simmer and add the beef in and cover with a lid. Leave it, stirring once in a while, until the broccoli is warm clear through.
When the broccoli is warmed through, salt the stew to taste. Serve with generous amounts of grated cheese on top. Yummy!

*This recipe makes enough lentil stew for about 3 meals for my small family. It's actually kinda even better after it's been in the fridge overnight so I just leave it in the original pot and reheat it each night until it's gone. If I had more kids or company this recipe would be perfect for a nice large hearty meal!

For other bloggers' recipes to feed a crowd, go HERE!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Not Me! Monday

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

Ah my first ever Not Me Monday!

Chicklet (almost 3) did NOT find one of my maternity shirts from when I was preggo with Bug and WEAR IT all day. I would never allow such a thing! Of course when she insisted on wearing it to bed as well I did NOT let her.

I did not get distracted this morning on the phone with my sister only to look up and find Bug out of his chair and sitting tailor-fashion in the middle of the kitchen table banging out a rythm with my daughter's hairbrush. First of all I never get distracted - I am a very focused person of course. And secondly I would notice the little Houdini escaping his chair so he would never have made it out. *ahem*cough*cough*

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I think I'm gonna do a giveaway...

I think, in the near future, I'm going to have a giveaway. :) I don't have money to buy something expensive and my blog isn't popular enough to have anyone want to sponsor a giveaway here... I've been making some Babylegs though and it occured to me that Babylegs might be a good item for a giveaway. What do you think?