~Poop On Jelly~

Our Family's Bitter/Sweet Life

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Just Some "Stuff"


Sometimes it weighs heavy.

Sometimes it blesses me beyond my own comprehension.

Lately, it has been weighing a bit heavy.  (Funny how my blogging always gets really light when my life doesn't always seems so funny.) 

Truthfully, I KNOW I am blessed.  Very blessed.  I KNOW my life could be much more complicated.  But, KNOWING that doesn't always make it easier. 

This year has been so full of hope and frustration.  I find hope in our future.  I love that my husband is going to school and pursuing a dream.  I am honored to support him as he works towards an amazing goal that will allow him more opportunities and control over his career.  I happen to know that he is a gifted and talented nurse.  I can only imagine what a blessing he will be once he is a Nurse Practitioner.  I am honored to be on this journey with him. I truely love and respect him more than he will ever know.  I am his biggest fan.

But, before you sound the Disney princess music and imagine the words, "And they lived happily ever after," across my blog, let me share that I am also FRUSTRATED.  Not with my husband, but with my circumstances. 

Recently, I was laid off from my very part-time job as a preschool teacher.  Sure, I only worked 12 hours a week and my paychecks were slightly laughable, but I FELT like I was bringing something to the table.  It added some dimension to my life.  It was something I enjoyed.  So, I struggled to find my new normal as the 2010-2011 school year started up and my job ended.

I sought God as I poured myself into several new opportunities.  I was feeling a little bitter and confused.  I have LOVED staying home with my kids, but it felt like it might be time for me to start working again.  Time for me to focus on some of MY dreams.  After all, I have completely given up my career.  I haven't officially taught in the classroom for over 10 years.  Who would hire me?  Could I even be the teacher I once was?  Honestly, I have spent the last 11 years pouring into everyone else BUT me.  I started to feel slighted.  OK, maybe even a bit selfish.  I am not saying all of my feelings were rational, but that's how I was feeling.  I adore my family, but I was wondering when something... anything... could be about me.  (Yeah, throwing a pity party is never good, but I seem to throw them every now and again.  I am woman, hear me roar.)

After about 2 months of feeling a bit sorry for myself (and guilty for feeling that way), God clearly told me that I am supposed to just STAY HOME this year.  I am not supposed to worry about paying the bills.  I am not suppose to worry about Nurse Boy's school.  I am not supposed to worry about Nurse Boy's schedule.  I am not even suppose to worry about next year.  I am suppose to stay home and embrace my purpose during this season of our lives.  I came home and told Nurse Boy what I had been feeling and what I thought God was telling me to do. To be honest, I may have shed a few tears.  It didn't completely make sense to me, but with the support of my God and my husband, it would be OK.  Plus, obedience is usually followed by blessings and I'll take as many of those I can get! 

The very next day, the phone rang.  It was an amazing part-time job opportunity, complete with free preschool for Sweet Pea.  The offer came from a sweet friend of mine who needed help in her third grade classroom.  After praying with Nurse Boy, we knew it was a test.  I turned down the offer and put my trust in God.  Most days it is easy.  Some days it can be frustrating.  But, I do KNOW that I am right where I am supposed to be and there is peace in knowing that.

Oh, I still fight worry.  I am concerned about next semester when Nurse Boy has to cut back at work to make time for a demanding class.  I am still not sure how we will pay all of the bills, but I am trusting God.  And, the biggest blessing has been my husband's support.  He has been listening to all of my frustrations and concerns with an open mind.  On one particular evening, he listened to me as I fought with my conflicted emotions.  He turned to me and said that he would stop going to school right now if I wanted to pursue one of my dreams.  He was serious.  He doesn't know how much I needed to hear that.  It put everything in perspective.  He would do the same for me. 

I pray God uses me to encourage my husband when balancing work, school, and family seems like too much.

And, I thank God that my husband is MY biggest fan.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Things That Make Me Smile

I'm a bit late in posting this sweet little picture story.  These pictures were taken at my parents' church over Halloween weekend.

Sweet Pea (or should I say, my Cheerleader)  found a new love.

We all know that she's fond of all things pink.  But, the girl means business if it is PINK, SWEET, & STICKY!

Meet her new love:  COTTON CANDY!

 Ah, yes... a face only a mother could love!

Thank goodness she cleans up well!  ;0)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Fare!

It is Friday.  Finally.  It has been a busy, fun week but I am heading into a weekend where I get to spend some uninterrupted time with Nurse Boy.  Saturday can't get here soon enough! 

This year has been full and busy.  Nurse Boy is taking one more credit hour this semester and it has really been noticed by the rest of the family.  It is always hard to balance family, work, church, and extra curricular activities.  Throwing in school for Nurse Boy has brought on a whole new batch of challenges.  Whew!  I know it will be worth it.  I always want to support my husband in his dreams, no matter how big or small they may be.  It will be a blessing to watch God put Nurse Boy's gifts and talents to use in some new and mighty ways once all of this is over, but I would be lying if I said it was never a struggle.  Financially it is a struggle.  Emotionally it can be a struggle.  But, the biggest struggle for me has been TIME.  I love to spend time with my husband and right now that is a precious commodity.

This weekend marks my being another year closer to 40.  (Can you tell that I am not exactly embracing that milestone?  Thankfully I still have a few more years to come to terms with it.)  All I want for my birthday is some much needed time alone with my husband.  Good thing, too, since that is all we can afford.  (HA!)  My parents are going to take all 3 of the kids for 24 blessed hours.  That is the best birthday present ever.  (That and a fancy-smancy camera, but beggars can't be choosers.  Not when your husband is in school anyway...)  I am thrilled to have some alone time without any ankle bitters around.  I love my ankle bitters, but they constantly have demands.  I need just one day off.  (But I wouldn't be opposed to a week in Hawaii either.)

This weekend also marks the beginning of our holiday season.  Dimples and Bruiser also have November birthdays, only to be followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Receipts are dancing in my head just thinking about it.  Yikes!

Today it is rainy and cool outside.  It is the prefect day for some homemade mac-n-cheese.  I am not normally a fan of mac-n-cheese, but I have searched for a more grown up version so I could enjoy my kids' favorite dish with them.  Today I will share my version of mac-n-cheese.

Mighty Macaroni & Cheese

3 Tablespoons of butter
2 Tablespoons of flour
3 cups of milk (I use skim)
2 1/2 cups of macaroni
3 cups of milk
3 (generous) cups of sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese
4-6 oz of prosciutto (Italian Ham that is oh-so-good!)

1.  Melt the butter and flour over medium heat.  Stir. 
2.  Add the milk and mix well.  Let this simmer on medium heat for what will seem like forever until the sauce thickens.  This will take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cook the macaroni per the directions on the box.

4. Once sauce is ready, add the sharp cheddar cheese. Mix well.
5. Add to the cooked macaroni.
6. Add torn pieces of prosciutto to the pasta and sauce. (I like to heat the ham on both sides before I tear it up, but that is not necessary.)
7.  Place the mac-n-cheese in greased 8x8 pan or casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 10- 30 minutes... basically, until it is heated through.

(This is a pretty horrible picture, but you get the idea.)

Everyone in my family loves this stuff.  It is a little more work than I normally like to give myself for any given meal that will be devoured in about 30 seconds flat, but on a cool fall night it is totally worth it!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Fare!

It is finally Friday and we are headed into a relaxing weekend.  We haven't had one of those in a long time.  As a matter of a fact, my kids know they had better leave us alone Saturday morning when they climb out of bed and stumble around in the dark.  They can get up early, but Nurse Boy and I will not be joining them!

This is also the weekend that signals the end of daylight savings time.  We are supposed to eagerly set our clocks back an hour as we lay our heads down on Saturday night.  We are then supposed to go to bed believing that we will wake up in well rested bliss since we have been given the precious gift of an extra hour of sleep.  What a great theory.  And, if you subscribe to that theory, YOU DON'T HAVE YOUNG CHILDREN IN YOUR HOME.  All I know is I haven't enjoyed my extra hour for the entire 10 plus years that I have been a parent.  Instead of my children waking up in a glorious mood at the early hour of 7 AM, they will now emerge from their beds in a grumpy, groggy state at the ridiculous hour of 6 AM (or earlier!).  We will all resemble grumpy bears and our house will resemble a dark cave.  Daylight savings, I already miss you.  And, to those of you that will enjoy an extra hour of glorious sleep:  I don't want to hear about it!  Keep it to yourself and no one will get hurt.

Moving on... (The bitterness only lasts for about a week...)

I have gotten out of the habit of posting a recipe on Fridays, so I am going to try to get back into the groove.  This challenges me to continue to search for new favorite recipes.  Today I am going to share a recipe that has one of my favorite ingredients in it:  PUMPKIN.  I simply cannot get enough! 

Applesauce Pumpkin Muffins

1 box spice cake mix
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1/3 cup applesauce
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Gently mix all ingredients together.  Fill greased muffin cups 3/4 full and bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

These are a hit around here.  They are great for breakfast and snacks.  Plus, they just scream fall to me.

Have a wonderful weekend.  Here's hoping someone out there gets to enjoy their extra hour in the form of sleep!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Fond Farewell

Yes, it is time...
 Time to dig through the van and recycle those empty Gatorade bottles...
 Time to rid the van of chairs (and make way for my groceries again)...

 Time to wash those stinky shinguards for the very last time...

 Time to say goodbye to soccer, if only for a few months.

 I may be claiming my Saturdays back (and my wind blown hair), but we will miss the soccer fields terribly!
Bruiser was on fire this season!  We finally found a great coach who saw potential in our Bruiser.  He worked him hard and challenged him to be a leader on his team.  He was the top scorer of the season!  It was so fun watching him discover his talent on the soccer field.  He really has a gift. 
Dimples is talented, fast, and a team player.  I am always amazed at his loyalty to his team.  Overall, his team had a pretty rough season.  But that didn't matter, he always remained positive.  He isn't afraid of a challenge and is always willing to give it his all.  He is definitely a positive leader for his team!  Plus, they can almost always count on him to score a goal right when the moral is getting low.
Then we have Sweet Pea.  Well, she wasn't exactly fast.... and, I wouldn't say she displayed any talent.  As a matter of a fact, I am not really sure she knew what sport she was playing while she ran around the field with her pigtails blowing in the wind and sporting the world's biggest smile.  Oh, she had fun.  Tons of fun.  But, we have yet to see if this is her sport of choice. One things for sure, she had the cutest little team on any given field.  They may have pulled out only one victory, but they were stinkin' cute!

Soccer, you will be missed!  See you in the spring!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Things That Make Me Smile

A night of family fun during our annual carving of the pumpkins...

Lots of smiles...
Plenty of gooey fingers...
Lots of laughter...
Steady hands...
Delightful creations...
Plenty of patience...
And, most importantly, finished products!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Precious Moment

On this incredible, exhausting, exciting, scary, amazing, demanding, fantastic journey that is parenting, there are some moments that really bless my socks off.  Most of them involve watching each of my children develop a strong faith for the Lord. 

A faith I never had as a child. 

A faith that is second nature to them. 

A faith that is all their own.

A faith, I pray, they never turn away from.

Last Sunday Bruiser was baptized.  He was so excited!  It was a decision he made all on his own.  It was a decision of obedience and a way to display his love for Jesus.  Jesus, himself, was baptized out of loving obedience to His Father God, and to set an example for us to follow.  Jesus' own baptism marked the beginning of His ministry here on earth at the age of thirty.

I can only imagine the ministry that lies ahead for my precious 7 year old! 

One thing I know for sure: God has special plans for you, Bruiser!

"Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."  Matthew 28:19

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Perfect Parent

My kids are driving me crazy!

There. I said it.

I am not the perfect parent, nor do I have the perfect kids.

Oh, sure, they are usually a joy... when it isn't really early in the morning, really late at night, time to sit down to any given meal (when at least one of them always whines, "Do I HAVE to eat THAT?!"), or when we are making an exhausted effort to actually get somewhere on time (which practically never happens),  So, basically, that leaves a good hour of pure joy each day.

Lately, our kids have been a bit "off."

My sweet princess has taken to saying, "NO!," lying about the most unimportant things, and disobeying just for the sake of disobeying.  Most of my days are spent correcting, scolding, and speaking words of truth into her life.  Sometimes she listens.  Sometimes I feel like she puts both of her fingers in her ears, closes her eyes, and hums as loud as she can.

My thoughtful middle child has been moody, emotional, and hard to get along with.  All of my suggestions, from the breakfast cereal of choice right down to which pencil to use to complete his homework, are refused.  He has decided to do everything his own way, even if my way is quicker, safer, and uses plain old common sense.

My overachieving firstborn is becoming more independent and very active in extra curricular activities.  He often over commits himself and struggles to manage his time accordingly.  Many nights go far too late as he seems to believe he is capable of doing it all on his own.  He only cries out for help when it often seems too late.

Nurse Boy and I are exhausted.  Each kid has been throwing us curve balls.  We have been taking action to rally the team to support, encourage, and respect one another.  We have prayed for wisdom and peace.

One thing became immediately clear; our middle child was feeling left out.  Nurse Boy helped coach the other two kids' soccer teams this season, causing him to miss several of Bruiser's games and all of his practices.  Bruiser was feeling left out.  Unfortunately, his horrible, ungrateful attitude often made us angry.  We weren't able to see the actual problem for far too long.

Once we realized the cause of Bruiser's bad case of the grumpies, Nurse Boy planned a surprise night out for just the two of them.  As Nurse Boy and I were discussing what they could do together, Nurse Boy (half jokingly) said, "I should just take him where I want to go, since he doesn't deserve it anyway."

Then, it hit me like a TON OF BRICKS:  I am no different than my kids. What am I "deserving" of?

Sure, my Abba Father IS perfect, but I am a mess.  A hopeless mess.  I have said, "NO!," disobeyed, and even lied to myself about my behavior.  I, too, have been grumpy, rude, and ungrateful.  I have also been known to cry out for help when I am overcommitted and I have made a huge mess because I was determined to do it all on my own.

No, Bruiser didn't "deserve" a night out with his father.  It is no different from the daily blessings that I receive.  I don't deserve them.  Any of them.  Heck, sometimes I fail to even recognize them.  Yes, I fall short.  More often than I care to admit.  I am not a perfect child, but I AM a child of God.  I am a child of a perfect, forgiving, merciful, loving God.  A God who has blessed me with 3 kids who continue to show me God's forgiveness and Jesus' willingness to sacrifice it all for God's children.

I KNOW I drive God crazy, yet He still loves and blesses me.  I think I will try to spend more time with my fingers out of my ears, my eyes wide open, and my heart ready to hear all that God has planned for me.

Now, let's just hope my own children will do the same...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Go Pink or Go Home!

Yesterday I shared some pictures of our recent trip to the Pumpkin Patch.  It was a beautiful day and everyone had a wonderful time.  It was a memorable one, but not because of the wonderful company and nice weather.  Nope.  Sweet Pea pulled a little stunt that made us all laugh.  And, we are still laughing about it.

You see, once we ventured out to the actual patch to pick out our pumpkins, she wandered all over the patch.  She is usually right by our sides, but not on this particular day.  We smiled as we watched her explore the patch, completely unaware that she was on a mission.  (One we would have deemed impossible had we known what is was.)  We kept an eye on her as she wandered farther and farther away.  She was ever-so-carefully looking at pumpkins, touching pumpkins, and picking up pumpkins.  After a while, we let her know it was time to pick out her pumpkin so we could head back.  Finally, she excitedly scooped up a pumpkin and practically skipped back over to us.

The walk was long...

The mission seemed impossible...

She proudly brought forth...

the pinkest...

pumpkin in the patch!

Leave it to this girl to search for a pink pumpkin!  While it isn't pink, I must admit it is the closest to pink I have ever seen a pumpkin.

Can you say, "OBSESSED?"

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Perfect Fall Outing

Last Friday the boys didn't have school and Nurse Boy took the day off. We made it a family day and took the kids to a family-owned Pumpkin Patch. It was the perfect way to celebrate the beauty of fall! We took in some fresh air, got covered in dirt, selected the perfect pumpkins right off the vine, and ended the day with apple cider slushies.

Here they are at the beginning of the day... clean, calm, and cheerful.  (Except for the fact that Bruiser has his arms around Sweet Pea's throat.  Hmmm...)

 I love it when I get all those baby blues looking in my direction.

 They are simply crazy... and they come by it honestly!

Pumpkins and mums... don't they just scream FALL?!

They are keepers.  All three of them.

Leave it to the boys to find the hay bales.

Next, we ran through the maze of hay bales.

And, took a peek at the cows.

Bruiser was in heaven.  He practically rolled in the dirt.

The afternoon was capped off with a hayride out to the pumpkin patch where the kids searched for the perfect pumpkin to carry home.

With the help of that pumpkin, Dimples was officially taller than me.  I am afraid he won't need the help of a pumpkin come next year.

It was a wonderful day.  I am thrilled I got to spend it with four amazing people.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Confession Time

Dear Bruiser,

One of these days you will notice that your first grade plant is missing.  I am not sure exactly how I will try to dance around the truth, but you are smart.  You know my obsession with keeping things clutter free.  You know that the trash can is often the answer to my clutter woes.  You have found out the hard way.  Your plant has not been spared from my clutter free binges.

Yes, Bruiser, I threw away your beloved plant.  It wasn't my fault.  I had to.  It was mocking me.

You see, Mrs. S grew that plant over the course of your fabulous 1st grade year.  She cut off the "spuddlings" and sent each of her students home with a plant of their very own.  A plant to watch grow and blossom just as each one of you did in first grade.  And, grow and blossom you did!  What a wonderful year it was for you.

The plant was supposed to be a refreshing reminder of your 1st grade year.  However, I don't do plants.  Oh sure, Mrs. S assured me that you couldn't mess this one up.  I assured her that if anyone could put it to the test, it would be me.

And, Bruiser, I don't lie.

Yes, son, you were faithful to water the plant. (Most of the time.)  It sat in my kitchen as a constant reminder of me having yet another living thing to take care of  (of which I am clearly not capable).  It didn't die, yet it refused to grow.  It didn't grow taller.  It didn't spawn new leaves.  It didn't blossom and fill my kitchen with new life.  There it remained; one lonely leaf on a short, little pathetic stem.

It was mocking me.  I began to hear it laugh at me as I cleaned around it.  That is when I decided I couldn't take it anymore.  I declared it clutter and chucked it in the trash.

Please forgive me.  While I will never give you the gift of a green thumb, I do hope to give you the gift of keeping a clean, clutter free home.  Right or wrong, I have decided organization is much better than a green thumb.  Mostly because my thumb has failed me for many years now.  I will continue to raise you with the slogan, "When in doubt, throw it out!"  I am sure your future wife will be forever grateful.  And if she isn't, let her do the gardening.

Your Mom
(Who thinks watching YOU grow and blossom is nothing short of AMAZING.  Plants... not so much.)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Because Everyone Needs a Little Pumpkin in Their Lives...

and in their kitchen. 

I love fall.  Honestly, I love spring and summer, too.  It is the nasty winter I could live without.  Except during the month of December.  I like it to be cold and a little snowy while I enjoy the Christmas lights. By the time January rolls around, I am over it.  And, that is an understatement.

But, at this very moment, my obsession is fall.  I love the smell.  I love the cool evenings and warm days.  I love the mums.  Most importantly, I love the pumpkins.  I like to decorated with them, carve them, and eat them.  I really love to eat them.

Today I will share a SIMPLE recipe that is sure to bring the pumpkin lover out in you.  All you need are 2 basic ingredients... if you can even call them ingredients.  It is kind of a cheater recipe, if you will.  I can be a bit of a lazy baker.  Meet my close friends this time of year:

Yep, a box of spice cake mix and canned pumpkin.  Put them together and you get magic!

Seriously, take those two ingredients and mix together well.  Feel free to add a little allspice or cinnamon to taste, but that isn't even necessary. 

Now, you can do three things with this batter.

1.  You can add 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips.  Drop teaspoon sized "blobs" (that is a technical baking term, in case you were wondering) onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

2.  You can add nothing, drop "blobs" onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Let cool and frost with cream cheese frosting.

3.  Get completely lazy and just bake a cake by placing the dough in a greased 13x9 pan and baking at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes.  Let cool and frost with cream cheese frosting.

What's not to love about these recipes?!  I am wrapping some of these up for my kids' teachers tonight.

Happy Fall!  Eat some pumpkin for me...