Monday, November 24, 2014

Recipe Review! Chicken Spaghetti


Original recipe at link above.

I used 2 chicken breasts and had cooked it up, seasoning with salt and pepper, then froze so it was done.  Next time, I won't do that ahead of time.  :-D  There is something about precooked chicken and freezing it that I just haven't mastered yet.  It always has an "interesting" taste.  So this next time I will do everything the same BUT precooking the chicken.  

2 chicken breast, diced and sauteed with about 1/2 C. of frozen onion and 1/2. C. frozen green pepper.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes.

Boil spaghetti (approx. 1 lb, do what you would normally do for your family if you were making spaghetti) in chicken broth.  Do not overcook, as this dish bakes.

8 oz. cream cheese, melted and whisked to smooth with about a cup of chicken broth. Combine spaghetti (I didn't have hardly any chicken broth left in my noodles so I just dumped broth and noodles all into the pan) with cooked chicken mixture.  Add cream cheese mixture and 1 C. of shredded cheese.  Mix well.  Spread in a greased 9x13 baking dish.  Sprinkle the top with a nice layer of shredded cheese.  COVER WITH FOIL!!! Bake, 350 degrees, 30-40 minutes.  

This made a HUGE amount of food!  Maybe because my eldest boy is not a big spaghetti eater and so he didn't eat as much.  However, my kiddo that normally eats minimal went back for thirds!  :-D  Husband and I went back for more also!  To be truthful...I liked it even better warmed up!  I poured chicken broth over the top of the noodles to help moisten it again, put foil on the top of the dish, and popped it into the oven at 350 for 30-40 minutes.  

Definitely I will make this again.  Maybe not as frequently as some other dishes since not the whole family loved it...but the majority did.  

This dish would make a great potluck casserole!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Kid Friendly Recipe! Pumpkin Smoothie

Pumpkin Smoothie!
It's actually "healthy"!  :-D  Amazing!  They really enjoyed it!

Definitely KID FRIENDLY!  :-D  Those are always good!

We made them not so healthy by adding RediWhip and choc. chip minis.  Yeah, probably shouldn't check out the breakfast in the background either.  :-D

The original recipe came from a kids magazine called Humpty Dumpty.

We tweaked it a bit so this is what we did:
To make 4 mugs (not quite full)

Place all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.  
Serve right away or refrigerate until you are ready to use.

1/2 C. orange juice
1/2 C. milk
1 C. yogurt (we used vanilla, they suggested plain)
1/2 C. canned pumpkin
1 ripe banana 
1-2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
4-6 ice cubes

You can definitely vary how much banana, pumpkin, spice you put into it!  

This was a great use of our left over canned pumpkin and ripe bananas.  It seems I always have those two.  No recipe ever uses a full can of pumpkin, I have found.  :-D

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Word Family Turkeys :-)

Word Family Word Work 
* rhyming practice
* builds confidence in early readers
* helps develop fluency in reading
* helps early readers notice patterns in written words

This is the start of the turkey family that T. is creating this week to practice word families.  He enjoyed this simple activity.  Simply printed a pattern in various sizes (dad, mom, kids), colored with crayons, cut out, added feathers, feet, and words!  I'd love to provide a link to that body but the link to the actual site was suspicious to me.  I actually saved image from a google search so if you search "mesh turkey pattern" you'll most likely come across that same pattern.  With young children, I suggest you print on card stock or construction paper.  :-)

I was surprised that word families really aren't introduced too much with the K12 curriculum...not at the 1st grade level but even more surprising not finding it at the K level.   Oh well, I'll just include it myself.  :-)

Here's a great link for some free word family books for emergent readers.  She uses a lot of sight words.  Perfect for kinders!

has created several mini-books for the vowels as well as MANY other resources for reading.  If you have young children, go check her site out...I'm sure you'll find something helpful!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Special Moment

A spishaL Momint
DADy ryDen to me.

"A Special Moment"
Daddy reading to me

For mom....watching the process of this activity.  Schooling at home moms...we won't argue that it's not easy.  Nope, it's a full time job (even if you are using an online public school). 

Our kiddos would bring home stuff like this from brick and mortar and it was "cute"...but when I watch the whole's "a special moment" when I get to share it.  

This is kinder's writing sample for November...Love it!
It reminds us that special times are those few minutes where we get to be together.  Nothing extraordinary, nothing expensive...just our time.  

What's important...through the eyes of a child.  
Gooshy stuff done.  LOL Now to analyze.  Ha!  These were my thoughts as I observed.

* We need to get back into that letter formation that I thought we already had down.  Lefties are interesting, that's for sure...especially when the learning coach is a right handed person through and through!

* Work on spacing...though he did implement the spacer chip in his writing, just not on his labeling.  It's not natural yet but that will come in time.

* Work on the sound of short e, he often gets e and i sounds mixed up.

* not concerned about the "reading"...though I'm kind of surprised he didn't get "read" since he's been reading a little book that has that word in it frequently.  -ing will come in time.

* insert conversation about short, tall, and monkey tail letters

* encourage that drawing...he does awesome!

* practice writing more consistently in lower case letters.  

*  Wow!  He's coming right along with color and "staying in the lines".  That's a milestone for sure.  I thought we'd be working on that ALL YEAR long.  LOL

* Encourage Daddy to read with him nightly.  Actually, this is two fold and I started it already.  I want T. to read out loud more frequently to more people then extra practice on daddy.  :-D  Let's make more of those "special moments".

Friday, November 7, 2014

Recipe Review

This was on the menu....

And someone else loved it too!  :-D  
Note to self, not too many beans for baby in the future.  LOL

I will have to say that my two eldest both turned their noses up with those beans...when they saw what was for supper.  Guess what, they went back for seconds. :-D

I had never put green pepper in a chili before either, that was interesting.  For whatever reason I use to turn MY nose up at cooking with green pepper.  It didn't seem right. However, I have learned that green pepper really brings flavor to a dish!  Peppers are so so expensive now that they are out of season so this past week I picked up a package of frozen diced peppers on a 10 for 10 deal.  I'm going to try them out and see if they do just as good as a fresh pepper.  Also, I've started purchasing frozen diced onion also.  Reason, I strongly dislike cutting up onion.  My sensitive nose thanks for me for the frozen.  Don't get me wrong, I do still purchase the raw but I keep frozen for some days where I really don't want to or don't have time to chop up an onion.  It's been working for me. :-)

Here's how I did it:
1/2 lb pork sausage
1/2 lb of ground beef
3/4 C diced frozen onion
3/4 C. diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz can diced tomatoes w/ liquid
15 oz can kidney beans w/ liquid
15 oz can black beans, drained
1/2 T chili powder
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp of basil
3/4 tsp oregano
1/3 tsp ground black pepper

Pork sausage and ground beef ground together.   In crockpot, combine all ingredients together.  Cook, low about 8 hours.  Talk about easy!

Review:  lots of beans but very tasty!  Too juicy for real "chili" but it made warming it up nice!  Warmed up well!  One of my kids called it chili soup.  Consider eating with corn bread or on top of a baked potato!

So, to help my goal to be more prepared with my meals...I just browned together 1 lb of sausage and 1lb of ground beef and then froze half of it for another meal.  :-)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Music Washes Away From the Soul...

Do you agree with that?!  I do, wholeheartedly.  On my goal list is to get back to piano playing.  For now, I enjoy my 4th and 6th grader's piano playing.

I have a kiddo who always will ask me, why?  I don't like piano.  Why do I have to take lessons?  Well, at this point I take the attitude that "you'll thank me later".  :-)  The thing is...if he really hated like he tries to tell me...I wouldn't keep it up but I watch him play and he has this little smile on his face and he picks up music very easily.  He also wants to learn a string instrument. What we say is "learn the piano teaches the basics of music."  Part of the reason is yes, we already have that instrument.  :-D  He's a kiddo that needs an "out" because most people won't "understand" him.  I don't, if I'm honest, and I'm with him 24/7.  So, sticking to our guns with that piano practicing will pay off as a stress reliever and musical therapy as he gets older.  Really, he never has a problem practicing twice a day and he likes his piano teacher...he'll just tell me about 3 times a month that he doesn't get why he has to play the piano.  Ah, well...'tis the way it goes.

My eldest has been playing since...I don't know when.  I taught him myself for his first book...maybe started in Kinder?  I think he started with formal lessons at the end of 1st grade maybe.  He's in 6th grade now.  He has come a long ways.  Piano is not all that natural for him but I absolutely love to listen to him.  I think he has passed me up from where I was at in piano as a kid.  :-D  One time last year he had to write about something that had meaning to him and he chose "piano".  It's not easy but he didn't know what he'd do without it.  It IS a stress reliever.

Now that all being said, I do wish the kids would choose to play on their own more, like in the above picture vs. just at practice times but I guess that will come!  Here A. sat down to plunk out some hymns and C. came over and started singing.  Aw!

A.'s choice of instrument would be a saxophone but local school district doesn't start their kids out with a sax but with a clarinet.  So we really really need to get my husband's clarinet fixed up with new pads and so on so A. can get started.  :-)

I love infographics! I take credit for none of these.  If their sources are not on the image I just posted the site I found them on underneath.

This last one states that music helps "heals" 
Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Tourettes and Autism.
I'm not completely convinced of that myself but I will say that music helps them deal with their special needs that come along those diagnosis.  :-)

This graphic was from

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Guess what....I'm NOT Super Mom :-D

Guess what...I'm NOT a super mom and that's okay.  

So, we moved recently from a house like this....
3 bedrooms (one a messy office at all times), livingroom/kitchen, 2 baths

to this...
upstairs, main floor, basement, 3 baths, attached garage, laundry/storage room, 5 bedrooms, family room and great "living" room and of course the kitchen.

Yeah...I'm NOT a super mom.  I still have boxes and boxes and boxes... still this house and we moved here at the beginning of August.  Part of the reason (besides the time it takes to prepare for schooling at home) is that I feel always behind in the house cleaning apartment.  

Don't get me kids often helped at the other house but their day to day chores were mainly emptying garbage, dishwasher, vacuuming here and there, helping with any "extra" baking, dusting.  They were great helpers.

Their favorite was baking of course...and really...that kind of made MORE mess.  :-D

In this new wasn't enough.   Most days I feel like I only do cleaning, cooking, school, and baby care over and over and over and to be truthful...I was/am burning out. and feel like this...

 There seems like there is no time for "me".  Or appreciation.  Guess what?  You HAVE to make time for you as mom.  Most of the family doesn't see the "need" for that.  But it's true...if we aren't taking care of ourselves...we will not do well with the rest of the family.  So, that's where I'm at.  Trying to figure out how I can change things up in this family so that I have some "down" time.

Really, they need to make a picture of this for schooling at home with a public school mom...and that last picture her sitting with a kid at the computer, pulling out here hair because the school platform is messing up again.  LOL

First thing I started was Mom's "helping hours".  This way the kids know when I'm available to help with their school work.  So if they goof around...that's their problem and they'll just have to figure it out without'll still need to be done.  Didn't take long for them to finish their school work during MY helping hours.  LOL  Success!

Second was "chores"....beyond what they were accustomed to.  Still in the process.  But going much more smoothly.

Third was meal planning.  
Recent post about that so I won't spend much time with it.  Let's go back to 


The bottom line is that when you are a stay at home get the brunt of all housekeeping and cooking.  Plain and simple.  Yes, I have a helpful husband...might need me to tell him what needs to be done more often then I've had to in the's still helpful.  So, if he's reading....dear husband, be aware that you are getting on the chore list soon!  :-D

What chores do your kiddos do?

Aw...aren't they cute?  The Picture Ladies out of Bay City, MI!

I have an 11 month old, 5 year old, 9 year old and 11 year old...there is no reason why those older kiddos can't help quite well!  So, moms...remember that they can start helping at a toddler age and become better and better helpers as they get older!  Take the time to teach them how to do chores correctly so that you don't have to go behind them.  :-D  

I will say that there is a bit of incentive as I have attached KINDLE time to their chores.
They can earn minutes if
* they see a chore that needs to be done and just do it.  (They get plenty for this as it's something they need to learn!)

*  if they do their assigned chore with a good attitude.

* if they do their assigned chore without being asked to.

* if they do their assigned chore well.

Again, like the menu...there really isn't a way for you to see it clearly unless I put the image in extra large (and still it's not very clear) and it goes off center in the blog.  Drives me bananas...but, guess that's the way it goes.  

So, though it's personalized for our family...I went ahead an uploaded to google docs... in case you wanted to look at it closer.  

Last month, everyone did the same job every week.  It made life easier.  Now that they get how it's working (oldest to youngest written on day, color coded also.  Black means they all do it.) I started switching out my older two's jobs so that they aren't stuck doing the same thing every week.  We also found out that there were some jobs that just didn't need to be done every week!  Yeah!  Opens up a space to get something else done.  
There is one older kiddo job that has stayed the same since we moved here and that is vacuuming.  My 5 year old would love to do it and gave it his best shot but that vacuum cleaner is just too big for him yet.  So he has the stair cases.  :-D  9 year old has some sensitivities and vacuuming tends to cause "behaviors".   So, until I get him a set of ear plugs, I just bypassed him doing it.  If it's not listed on that sheet...guess who gets to do it.  Yup, me.  However, this really really helps!  I suggest you do something similar if you find yourself getting burned out with all the cleaning and etc.  

I did slip in on the bottom lunch prep and table washing/sweeping.  I had 5 year old on there but really...he's not ready.  He's not quick enough...holds us all up.  We'll give him a few months and try again.  :-D  He can help me on Sundays when his brothers have a "break" and we aren't on a time frame.  :-D His willingness is there though!!!

Please share how you go about keeping from being overwhelmed with the day to day jobs of a stay at home mom...especially one that schools at home!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Book Review! National Geographic Kids Beginner's World Atlas

This is a book we began exploring today with my Kinder and boy am I impressed!  So check your local library and see if they have it!  The age range states 5-8 years old or K-4.  I know that my 4th grader enjoyed looking at but I agree with the 5-8.  It's a great BEGINNER'S atlas.  I even have it in my cart on Amazon.  A good $10 investment!  You can get to the book by clicking on that Amazon link above.

First we reviewed maps and parts of a map.

 Then we talked about physical and political maps.

This close up with the visuals is great for a Kinder-1st grader!  He loved using the map key in the bigger physical map and finding the different "biomes".

We focused on Africa today, as that is where we were at in his history.  We'll be spending this week on Africa.  I have quite a few atlases that I picked up at the library...some focus more on animals, other on giving info about the continent, etc.  I also have some fictional books we'll be slipping in also.

 A sneak peak at how each continent is set up.  

What will I do differently in my presentation?  I would do less talking.  Let him lead us through the atlas...spend more time with it.  He'll remember more and he was noticing tings that I didn't.  :-D  Once a kinder gets past all that visual stimuli...that's when you start reading some of the info on the sides.  Each continent gives a "tidbit" for
* countries
* cities
* people
* languages
* products
* land regions
* water
* climate
* plants
* animals

Very colorful and organized...I think some preschoolers would love this.  Would make a great gift!  Perfect for a homeschooling family with young students.  Fits in most our "budgets".  :-D

 Definitely worth a look see if it would work for your family!