~Fun Lunches~

Here are a few ideas to kick it up a notch at lunch time. Sometimes (or all times) kids can be picky eaters. However, if their lunch looks like a smiley face or their sandwich is in the shape of a  bunny rabbit they might be a little happier to eat it. It’s worth a shot right?

I enjoy being a little creative with their lunches, but I don’t want to be spending too much time and energy on it. After all they’re just going to eat it 5 seconds after my masterpiece is finished. So these are very easy ways to just make it a little more colorful and fun.

Colorful Containers – I like to use fun cups like these (Target $1 section) or cupcake liners to put fruit, veggies, goldfish, etc. I don’t know why, but just simply putting food into something colorful makes the same old-same old feel more like new.

Shapes – Most of us already have some cookie cutters. They can be pretty inexpensive if you want to get a few more. I suggest cutting the bread with the shape cutter BEFORE adding the fillers (pbj, mayo and turkey, ham and cheese, etc). Then continue making the sandwich. Otherwise you’re wasting everything that gets cut out.

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Faces – Happy faces! This is one of the boys’ favorites. There are so many different ways you can make a silly face. And don’t feel bad if you have to tell them it’s a happy face lol They will still love it!

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Pizza Time

Interactive – Making lunch together is a really fun thing to do every now and then! We made little pizzas here and they had a blast. You can also take this opportunity to teach kitchen safety; ovens are very hot, knives are sharp, only mommy can use this or that, etc.

Other easy interactive lunches for kids:

  1. Corn dog muffins – cornbread batter in muffin tins with a piece of hot dog in the middle
  2. Quesadillas
  3. Pancakes – they can help you make the batter and then watch you cook and flip
  4. Nachos
  5. Calzones

Getting new cups, straws, utensils, and plates every so often is exciting too!

The Dollar Tree carries some and the dollar section at Target is great for that too. The most I spent on these items was $3 at Target for the Minion plate. BA-NA-NA! Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

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Lick it!

New foods can be scary for some children. Or they can get in a rut and just refuse any change. The oldest child I take care of doesn’t like trying new foods. The unknown of it all scares him. But his mom told me about an approach she heard to help with this. And it has helped him overcome some of his fear and realize he does like other foods. If you’re introducing a new food and they are hesitant about it, they can choose to do one of these 3 things:

  • Bite it
  • Lick it
  • Kiss it

This gives them some reasonable contact with it before completely banishing it to the black list of evil foods.

Now get out there and do some lunch art!😉

What Women Going Through Infertility Wish They Could Say

First, a little humor:

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Then, a little encouragement:

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Now, onto my post🙂

Going through infertility has changed me and my outlook in so many ways. It’s a grief process that just never ends. You go through it over and over until you think you can’t take it anymore. But it just keeps coming.

I’ve talked with several other ladies who are or have experienced infertility as well. We all agree that it’s truly shocking what people will say to you. Many times, they just aren’t thinking when they say it. They don’t understand what we go through mentally and emotionally every single day. After talking to these other women, I’ve compiled a list of things we wish we could say to everyone. My hope is that it will prevent strained relationships and a lot of hurt feelings.

  1. Please understand that it’s a big deal and the worst feeling ever for us

You know how a lot of women have dreamed of being a mom since they were little? Well, women with infertility have too. And now we have an empty room waiting to be a nursery. We have a house waiting to hold our children’s laughter, tears, celebrations, and memories. We have an SUV waiting to hold a car seat.  We have a play room waiting to be played in. So here we are waiting and waiting and waiting to give our future children all those things we now have. And it’s not happening.  We feel sad, devastated, ashamed, out of control, helpless, angry, lost, left behind, and lots and lots of other things. We rejoice in our friends’ growing families, but that sad pit in our stomach never goes away.

  1. Don’t tell me what you think I should do or what you think God’s plan is for me

This is my story. Everyone’s stories and journeys are different. I know you’ve heard other infertility stories from your friend, your sister’s friend, your grandma’s friend’s granddaughter. But that’s theirs. This is mine. What happened or didn’t happen for some people is different from what will or won’t happen for me. Please don’t tell me what you think I should do to “fix” my problem. For Example:

 

  • Just Relax
  • Don’t think about it or stress so much
  • Change your diet
  • Maybe God doesn’t want you to have kids
  • Adopt, and then you’ll get pregnant
  • Maybe God just wants you to adopt
  • Have you tried *insert baby making sex advice*?
    (Believe me we’ve tried millions of different “approaches”)
  • Etc Etc Etc

 

Instead just tell me you’re thinking of me, praying for me, hurting for me. That’s all I need to hear right now. You have no idea what God has in store for my life. Just be there for me to confide my hurts, pray for me and my husband, and share in this unknown journey with me. You don’t need to have any answers or advice.

  1. Don’t buy or give me things for when I eventually have kids

It will just sit in my house and remind me I STILL haven’t been able to conceive a child. I would like to tell you I don’t want it, but then I might hurt your feelings. So instead I take it, say thank you, and die a little inside. I understand that you may have good intentions, but it’s a terrible, terrible idea. Just wait until we have a child on the way. Then it will be exciting instead of awkward and hurtful.

  1. Don’t tell me all the terrible infertility stories you’ve heard

I’ve been told about people who tried every fertility treatment possible including IVF and still failed to conceive, got divorced because it affected their marriage, never were able to have kids, had miscarriage after miscarriage. I already worry about these things people! You don’t have to tell me horror stories about it. Please Stop!

  1. Don’t tell me how my infertility affects YOU

I’m sorry that you feel awkward telling me you’re pregnant, being pregnant around me, or talking about baby stuff. But I would trade places with you in a second. So you feel awkward for a few minutes?  I feel devastating pain all the time. Pretty sure you’re on the better end of this.

  1. Don’t brag to me about how easy it is for you to conceive

“We weren’t even trying. Oops! Haha! Fertile Myrtle!”
“He just has to look at me and I’m pregnant!”

Oh. My. Gosh. Just stop. You know how annoying it is when people don’t even have to study? They just walk in and ace the test. You study for HOURS and still don’t get a great score. Take that X’s a million and that’s how frustrating it is for people to say these things to you. Make jokes about it with your other friends. I on the other hand am more likely to burst into tears than laugh with you.

  1. Don’t ask random strangers or acquaintances why they don’t have kids yet

If you wanted to become friends with that person, you have now RUINED it. Their heart just sank into their stomach and they’re trying not to turn 10 shades of red. Or strangle you. There’s even less of a chance to conceive when you’re locked in a jail cell. So they don’t strangle you. But believe me, they thought about it.

  1. Don’t ask for updates on their infertility

If they want you to know, they’ll tell you. But more than likely nothing significant has happened or they’re just not ready to share it with you/others yet. Asking them (especially frequently) only hurts.

  1. Don’t ask us to go maternity clothes/baby shopping with you

It’s a knife to the gut. We wish with all our hearts we could enjoy that kind of shopping. But we can’t. Ask another mommy friend to join you.

If you’re struggling with infertility, don’t hold it in. Talk to someone you trust and pour your heart out. Let them pray for you. Get connected with someone else going through the same thing. Talking to someone who understands can be such an encouraging experience. It’s easy to feel like you’re alone when everyone around you is announcing their pregnancies and growing their families. But you’re not alone. 1 in 8 couples experiences infertility.

Chalk Painting for Kids

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Summer is in full swing! Warm mornings and stinken hot afternoons. So we enjoy hanging outside in the mid mornings and then staying inside after lunch time. Its fun for them and me to try new outdoor activities sometimes. Chalk is always a go to, but what about chalk paint?!

I picked up a chalk painting kit one day and the boys I nanny loved it a lot. But once it was gone, they wanted me to go buy more. I had a feeling I could make my own pretty easily, and I was right! I used a cheese grater from the Dollar Tree, sticks of chalk, and water.

Grate chalk into powder, add water, stir, and paint.

They really enjoyed using little foam rollers to “paint” on the driveway. And it entertained them all morning long!

BONUS: It’s washable 😀

Summer Spinach Pasta Salad

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Great side for those upcoming summer potlucks and BBQ’s! It comes together quickly and it’s something different that no one else will be bringing. 4 main ingredients and then a simple dressing that will make everything pop!

  • 5 oz Baby Spinach
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup bite sized mozzarella pieces
    (*I cut up the mozzarella string cheese I had on hand)
  • 8 oz cooked Penne Pasta

Dressing:

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
  • 3 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  1. Put baby spinach into large container
  2. Add grape tomatoes and mozzarella pieces
  3. Put cooked pasta in
  4. Whisk together the dressing and pour over everything
  5. Mix to coat everything with the dressing
  6. Enjoy! Can be served right away or at room temperature

5 Dates Under $25

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My husband and I love a good date night, or day date! And as fun as going out to a fancy dinner is, the bank account can’t take much of that. So here are 5 dates that we have personally loved for under $25.

Cheese & Wine

Just last night, the hubby had a fantastic idea! Let’s go to our local grocery store and pick out some fancy cheeses to try. Our King Soopers down the street now has a cheese station! We picked out 5 samplers that looked good and a bottle of wine. Our dinner that night consisted of crackers, cheese, and wine. It was great! The price of this date really depends on how many kinds and the prices of the cheeses you pick out. But it is very possible to stay under $25.

Movie & Snacks

Go by your local Dollar Tree and pick out some sweet and savory snacks, grab a Redbox, and go cuddle up with your sweetie! Movie theater snacks are widely known to be very expensive. So if you do decide to hit the theater, you can still save a ton of money by stopping at the Dollar Tree first.

Spa Night

You can start off by making some dinner together (he can grill and you can make the sides/dessert). Then take a hot shower or bath together to get nice and relaxed. After that I like to set up the room like a spa would, but more romantic. I turn off the lights, light some candles, turn Pandora on to “Spa Music”, and warm up some lotion for the massage. I like to use “Sensual” by Bath and Body Works’ aromatherapy line. Putting on a nice little outfit for him certainly doesn’t hurt😉 Then give each other a nice full body massage.

This is our annual Valentines date night now and let me just say that it has changed my husband’s perspective about this holiday lol He used to be a big complainer when this time rolled around each year. “It’s just a way to make more money….I show you I love you everyday of the year….etc. etc.” Not that I don’t agree, but hey I’m a woman and I like romantical things. I don’t however like the crowds and spending my valentines surrounded by hundreds of people instead of just the one that’s important.

Mountains/Hiking & Pic-Nic

We live in Colorado so the mountains are never too far away. An hour’s drive and we’re surrounded by beauty and mountain air. We pick a trail (usually pretty easy since I’m not what you’d call an athlete), take in our natural surroundings, and have some good conversation. If you don’t live near mountains, you can still find a lake or area with some hiking trails. Pack a cooler with snacks or lunch so you don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to eat or spending money. Plus, eating a picnic with great scenery is awesome!

Coffee & Bookstore or Mall 

We enjoy wandering around book stores and neat shops in the mall. At the bookstore we usually grab a coffee and sip while we browse. At the mall we like to find small, neat little kitchen or home gadgets. At Crate & Barrel the other night we got some Easter cookie cutters and sanding sugars (for decorating cookies). I like to bake and my husband likes to eat what I bake, so it was technically for both of us😉 The cutters were $9 and the sugars were $4. It was fun spending the time together and we didn’t spend very much.

Extra Dating Tips:

Groupon

Groupon has provided us with some great new experiences, and low-budget dates. We’ve tried new places for brunch or dinner, saw cool shows, and got discounts on ice cream, coffee, pizza, etc. We even found an amazing bed & breakfast through Groupon that we have been back to twice. That was obviously more than $25, but we still got a great deal on it and have made wonderful weekend memories there.

Local Tours

Find out what places near you give tours. A lot of them are free or low cost. Celestial Seasonings Tea located in Boulder gives free tours, so we went there one day. It was fun, informative, and we picked up some new teas to try afterwards.

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Me and my other half

The *BEST* Sugar Cookies for Decorating

We had a Christmas party last weekend and it was a blast! I especially had fun decorating and incorporating a Buddy the Elf theme. That is my favorite holiday movie! For the dessert table I had a cake with candy canes on top to imitate the 7 levels of the candy cane forest, chocolate peppermint bark, snowflake gumdrops, marshmallows, petite tree cakes, and sugar cookies.

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I am in love with this sugar cookie recipe! It makes soft, melt in your mouth, yummy, delicious sugar cookies. And they are awesome for decorating!

I’ve tried other sugar cookie recipes through the years and found none of them to work as well or be as delicious. My mom passed it down to me and now I give it to you!

I used a frosting technique called flooding for the Christmas cookies. You can learn how to do that here. It gives the cookies a nice glossy look.

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Without further ado, here is the recipe!

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 3 oz softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 1/2 cups flour

Directions:

  1. In large mixing bowl combine sugar, butter, & cream cheese with electric mixer until well blended.
  2. Then  blend in salt, vanilla, almond extract, and egg yolk.
  3. Add in flour until well blended into dough. Divide dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap.
  4. Chill dough for 2-3 hours in refrigerator or overnight so its nice and firm.
    * I tend to forget about this waiting part and stick my dough in the freezer for about 45 minutes because I just can’t stand to wait that long.
  5. Once dough is chilled and firm, unwrap one and roll out on floured surface with floured hands and floured rolling pin. I use a silicone mat to roll the dough on like this one:
    siliconemat

    These are genius! It’s a non-stick mat that goes on your cookie sheet instead of using spray or parchment paper.

    6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll dough 1/8 or 1/4 inch thick. Cut out your shapes with lightly floured cookie cutters.
    7. Place cookies on cookie sheet and bake at for 7-9 minutes.
    8. Let cool and frost/decorate!
    9. Store in ziplock bags or airtight container.

 

Here are some more pictures from the party:

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Dessert Table

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Peppermint bark, snowflake gumdrops, & marshmallows

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We served Coconut Vanilla Bellini’s for a Christmas cocktail. The cup rims are coated in red and green sugar.

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I know you can see my reflection. But I wanted to show you the Buddy quote I put next to the coffee. “You did it! Congratulations! World’s Best Cup of Coffee. Great job everybody!”

 

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Table Setting: I found a very cute book of christmas scrapbook papers. I used these as place mats and every setting had a different one.

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Centerpiece: Pine cone filled basket and 2 large mason jars filled with cranberries and ice. (Secret: that’s not real ice. It’s water and plastic wrap)

 

 

 

 

 

November Craft Kit

November’s Paper Pumpkin by Stampin’ Up came with LOTS of stuff!

They give you some suggestions for how to make some cute fall cards like this:

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With it being just a few days away from Thanksgiving, I decided to make place cards with them for our bible study dinner.

With so many different papers, stamps, and embellishments I decided to make each one a little different. On the inside I wrote that I was thankful for their friendship and then something about them I was thankful for.

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If you enjoy doing some crafty stuff, but don’t always have craft supplies on hand, these boxes are perfect! They supply you with everything you need, and the papers are already cut out for you. The only thing you need is glue. I use a glue pen like this one:

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You can find these at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, or even order it off Amazon.

 

To learn more about Stampin’ Up you can go to my Aunt’s page @

http://www.stampwithjoy.stampinup.net/