It's the Most - Busiest Time - of the Year!

Despite the magic of the season, the holidays are always fraught with busyness and stress for most moms, and I am not the exception. The entire month of December tends to go by in one big - "oh my God did I forgot to do that again!!" - blur for me every year. Since my daughter was born almost *gasp!* 6 years ago, Christmas has lost a little bit of it's luster. Don't get me wrong, I still love the holidays... spending quality time with family, eating great food, and savoring every moment of the kids unwrapping their presents on Christmas morning. What stresses me out the most during this time of the year are all of the events that tend to be crammed into just a few weeks. December is a hellaciously busy month for my family. Along with the usual gift-buying and food-making craziness comes my brother in law and grandpa's birthdays (Christmas Eve) and my daughter's birthday (Jan. 4th.) This year add to the list that my husband and I are hosting a New Year's Eve get together - which is something I've always wanted to do (which is great, but you know what I mean about "adding this to the pile"... and ... oh great - now I'm rambling...) :)

At any rate, even though Marissa's birthday is in January, it sneaks up on me EVERY YEAR! It usually hits me two or three days after Christmas, when I start thinking about New Year's and all that entails... and I think - "Oh crap!!! Marissa's birthday!!!" Then the craziness ensues.... I try to find the time to go shopping (didn't I just get DONE doing this??), once I'm finally at a store I stare in bewilderment at the empty shelves (did I really think they were going to restock Dec. 26th?) and then send the party invites out about two days before the actually party is to take place (if the guests are lucky, anyway.) So this year, in order to try and prevent all of this mayhem from happening for the sixth year in a row, I've been trying to plan ahead. And where has this gotten me? Well, let's see.... the two birthday gifts that I had already bought ahead have turned into Christmas gifts because Jake's pile of gifts looked to be about three times the size of Marissa's.... and when I asked Marissa what she would like her party theme to be this year she has gone from Jasmine, to Pocahantas, to Strawberry Shortcake, to American Girl (you get the picture)... so needless to say, invites have not been started and party supplies have not been purchased. Ugh.

To save my sanity, I am actually thinking of only getting Marissa two gifts for her party this year and then taking her to our annual birthday Build-A-Bear store trip a couple weekends after her birthday. This would give me a HUGE chance to just b-r-e-a-t-h-e after the holidays. It's not like she needs to get ten presents for her birthday right after Christmas or anything. I guess the goal for my holiday season this year is to try and stress-less, and then hope that my family can pick up on that and I may not turn into the almost gray-haried monster I usually am by New Year's Day. I want to be able to take the time to stop and smell the pine -- to be able to enjoy Christmas this year without have to think of a million birthday-related things in the process. However, now that I think about it, I guess the invitations aren't going to do themselves...and Marissa has yet to pick a party theme. Oh, poop. :P


Gifts from My Christmas Kitchen - Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

This week, my friend Tricia over at Onceamonthmom.com invited a guest post focused on creating unique Christmas gifts from your very own kitchen. This post reminded me of some wonderful smelling ornaments I made a few years ago. Each year I have kept telling myself that "this year will be the year I make them again!" Yet, I never seem to get around to it. :(

Five years ago, I was (very) pregnant with my daughter and was desperately looking for things to keep myself occupied. Because it was the holiday season, I was definitely busy, but the later stages of pregnancy tends to cause many sleepless nights and there were many nights that I couldn't fall asleep until 1:00 a.m. or so. On these late nights, I would find myself busily preparing Christmas goodies in my (then huge) kitchen.... oh how I miss that kitchen. At any rate, one of the "goodies" I made in abundance that year was a big batch of Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments. I was amazed at how amazing my entire house smelled for weeks after making these things! To tell you the truth, they're very simple to make. I gave a few to my mother for a small gift that year.... when I walked into her home this past weekend after her tree was up and the decorations were hung (including those ornaments) I could still smell them!

I'm planning on making the first batch of ornaments since that year this coming weekend, and my daughter will be helping me this time! :) Here is the recipe:

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

1 cup ground cinnamon
1 cup store-bought applesauce (homemade tends to be too runny)

Mix both ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until well blended. Form into a ball and roll flat on a flour-covered surface or wax paper-covered surface. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Poke a small hole in the top of each ornament with either a plastic straw or toothpick. Place each ornament on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Let air dry for 4-5 days. This seems like a long time, but the wonderful aroma that will fill your house will be worth it!

Once ornaments have dried completely, string a pretty ribbon through each hole and tie at the top. If you are giving these as a gift, wrap a few in wax paper before putting in another type of packaging. Brown paper and ribbon would suite this type of homemade gift well!

Voila - beautiful, fragrant ornaments that will last for years! :)


The Seger Virtual Christmas Card for 2009!

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Savory Seger Sunday - Sweetly Devilish Eggs

One of the appetizers I always seem to make this time of the year (because of endless requests) are my version of deviled eggs. When I was younger, I never really cared for the traditional deviled egg recipes... they seemed to leave a bitter taste in my mouth for some reason. So, once I was old enough to cook and tote my own food creations to family get-togethers, I started experimenting with different deviled egg recipes. The second recipe I tried was an instant favorite of mine and boy, has it stuck! Now my eggs seem to be a staple at the "Good gatherings." If you have a sweet tooth - these are the deviled eggs for you!

Sweetly Devilish Eggs

- 6-12 eggs
1/3 cup Miracle Whip (or similar generic brand)
- 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
- Paprika
- Parsley flakes (fresh or dried)


- Boil eggs until done. Peel eggs and cut in half length-wise. "Pop" yolk out of each egg half into a mixing bowl. Place each egg half onto a deviled egg serving tray or similar. After all eggs have been cut in half, add Miracle Whip and pickle relish to yolks. Mix well with a spoon or whisk. Spoon into egg halves. Sprinkle eggs with paprika. Garnish by sprinkling with fresh or dried parsley flakes.

*Miracle Whip and sweet pickle relish should be adjusted to desired amounts - the amounts given are simply an estimate. :)



Being Thankful

Today has been a little rough for me, spending it sick and alone with Chipotle leftovers wasn't exactly the Thanksgiving I had in mind for this year. :( I love the holidays. It means spending time with family members we do not see enough of and making new memories for the younger generations to cherish for years to come... of course, there's also lots of good food involved too. :) I feel like it's important today for me to take advantage of the peacefulness that awkwardly exists in my house at the moment (hubby took the kiddos up north to "the farm" for Turkey Day celebrations) and reflect on all of the things I am thankful for, even though I am definitely not thankful for my sinuses at the moment...

My top ten list - I am thankful for:

1. A wonderful husband who seems to always know the right things to say at the right moment.
2. A healthy, happy daughter who blows us away with her creativity and generosity.
3. A healthy, happy son who can make us all laugh until we pee our pants.
4. Wonderful family and friends who support me, enrich my life and constantly remind me how to be a better person.
5. A roof over my head and food in my belly (even if it's leftovers.)
6. Being able to have a job that I enjoy and am passionate about.
7. A part-time job that allows me to keep my day job and stay at home with my children every evening.
8. Amazon.com - already have 75% of the kids' Christmas done and within our (small) budget. :)
9. A second-chance to spend a late Thanksgiving dinner with my mom, dad, sis, brother-in-law and niece and nephew in two weeks.
10. Long, hot baths and a good novel to relax with when I'm feeling under the weather.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


Parents In Action: Plan for Holiday Spending

A new post has been added to my Extension blog - Parents in Action, click on the link below to view it. (Which, by the way, now has a new link - www.parentsinaction.osu.edu - add it to your reader! We could all use a little reminder to plan ahead for holiday spending - seems like it always creeps up on us each year, doesn't it? The post below may help!


Fitting In

I had my first run-in recently with the dreaded "public school social scene" and it wasn't pretty.

Something happened yesterday that I never thought would happen.... well, at least not until my daughter was in middle school... or high school.... Anyway, Marissa came home from school yesterday very upset. It took almost two hours for her to finally talk to me about what was bothering her - and an argument with her brother over who could tickle whom was the catalyst for her opening up... this is how our conversation went -

(Jake not wanting to be tickled) - "No, sissy, no! Owwwwwweeee."
(Marissa) - Jakey doesn't want to play with me either, I'm having such a bad day."
(Me) - "Why do you feel you are having a bad day sweetpea?"
(Marissa) - "Nobody would play with me at recess today AGAIN and now my baby brother won't even play with me either. I'm having the worst day ever!"
(Me) - "Ummm...... why didn't you play with anyone at recess?"
(Marissa) - "I asked everybody and nobody wanted to play with me! I had to just sit by myself on the ground."
(Me) - Speechless from having ugly flashbacks of instances when I was picked on in school.... and by the fact that I cannot think of anything to say to help her feel better. :(

I never thought this would happen to Marissa so soon and I'm really perplexed as to how a little girl who has always been a social butterfly can feel like she doesn't fit in with her classmates. One of my theories is the "big fish, little pond / little fish, big pond" theory - she went from being the "leader" of her preschool class to feeling like she can't find her place amongst her new classmates. But how in the world do I explain this to her? And what can I say to her to help her cope with all of the instances this may happen in the future..... because I know very well that this will be something that happens again... whether it's tomorrow or ten years from now when she ends up in one of those oh-so-great (not) high school girlfriend spats. :( I think the key is for Marissa to feel confident to be herself, but I'm not sure how easy it will be to teach this life skill to a kindergartener.....

I did have an inkling that something was up one day when I was home with Jake (he had a fever) and we went for a little walk in the afternoon when he felt better. Marissa's class was actually outside for recess when we went past the school. She didn't see us, but I spotted her right away and my eyes followed her as she skipped all over the blacktop in-between the equipment. I expected her to be playing or talking to any of the kids at any moment... but just kept on skipping around all by herself. She would stop here and there to look around or to sit down, but she never once went over to socialize with her classmates. This really concerned me because I had never seen her do this before; but I tried to convince myself that I was overreacting and that she would be fine. But when she became so upset yesterday, it made me realize that this just might become a real issue that we will have to deal with fairly soon.

Maybe I am overreacting... maybe I am just a concerned mommy who's heart aches when her daughter is upset over friends and school.... I'm just like any mommy. I know what makes my daughter unique and wonderful and wonder why on earth others can't see these things for themselves. No matter what, I need to do some research on this to find some strategies to help her cope. I honestly never saw this coming so soon and feel like such an incompetent mom for not knowing what to do to help her through it.


Savory Seger Sunday: Mom's Chili

This recipe was made by my mother during the fall and winter month's as I was growing up. It's a bit of a twist on "normal" chili, but has remained my favorite until til now. I made my first batch for our family last weekend and it was GREAT! :)

Mom's Chili


- 1 lb. ground beef
- 2 regular cans tomato sauce
- 2 regular cans diced tomatoes
- 1 regular can light red kidney beans (drained)
- 1 regular can dark red kidney beans (drained)
- 4 - 8 oz. macaroni
- The following to taste: parsley, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, pepper, salt
- Shredded cheddar or Parmesan cheese


Brown ground beef in a skillet. Meanwhile, heat water for macaroni to boiling. Add macaroni. In a large stockpot, mix tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, and seasoning together. Cook over medium heat. Drain macaroni and beef once they are done, then add to the stockpot with other ingredients. Simmer covered for about 10 - 15 more minutes. Add cheese and serve.

*even better as leftovers for work or for the next day!



Our family recently had the privilege of attending a friends' wedding in Chicago. Well, I shouldn't say just "friend." Jake and Alan (hubby) have been in separable since they were little he is also a cousin of mine through marriage. Natalie (his gorgeous bride) and I have quickly become good friends as well since we met in person last year at Alan and I's wedding. Anyway, the wedding was beautiful and so was Nat... the food wasn't too bad either! You know I love me some good food :) The day after the wedding, Alan and I took the opportunity to take the kids into the city. It's one of our favorite places we have visited together and we wanted the kids to experience it too. There's just something about Chicago that is spectacular and beautiful at the same time.

So our first major vacation as a foursome (that's Al and I with the kids in tow) included visiting the Chicago Children's Museum on Navy Pier, strolling through Millennium Park, checking out the Lego Store on Michigan Ave., and going up into the Sear's Tower - I refuse to call it Willis Tower. Both Jake and Marissa were in absolute awe once we were on the Skydeck, looking down at the city below. That's what you get when you bring a couple of young kids from small-town Ohio in the heart of a big city. :) Below are photos of the wedding as well as our trip into the city. If you would like to see the rest of our Chicago photos - you can see them here in our Facebook album. Enjoy!

Family photo by The Bean.

Looking down from the top of the Sear's Tower.

Yes, this picture is of Marissa in one of the new Skyboxes! She really wanted this picture even though she looks terrified. :)

The boys looking out of the Skydeck.

Fountain in Millennium Park.

Can you believe this guy was not a statue? Marissa thought he was pretty cool. :)

Jakey on Navy Pier with the skyline in the background.

Marissa and Nanna - she came along for the trip! She was such a trooper! :)

Pictures from the wedding (sorry bad lighting and our camera do not equal good results!):

Congratulations Jake & Natalie! We love you both and wish you nothing but the very best!


Countdown to the OAMM Tweet-Up!

Unless you've been hiding under a rock the last few months, you probably know that I LOVE to participate in Once A Month Cooking with my sister. We cook an entire month's worth of food (a few lunches, breakfasts, and mostly dinners) all in one long (very long) day in order to save ourselves time, money, and sanity throughout the rest of the month. My friend Tricia is the culprit who talked me into getting involved in this pastime and I could not thank you enough for it.... She is now doing the ultimate good deed for OAMC participants and is hosting a Tweet-Up this Saturday evening! What is a Tweet-Up?, you say? A Tweet-Up is tied to Twitter (the website of which I am constantly reminded by family and friends is a narcissistic waste of time...) Participants can show up in person to the event if they can attend - and if they cannot attend, they can participate in real time by following the event on Twitter - pretty cool if you ask me, not by any means a waste of time! Because the Tweet-Up is taking place near my town, my sister and I will have the awesome privilege of attending the event in person. Tricia has planned a spectacular night - cocktails, recipe demonstrations, kitchen appliance demonstrations, networking, and over $3,000 in door prizes!!! I can't wait! Among the prizes (some that I am really hoping to win) are - a pair of Crocs of your choice, children's toys, food processors, slow cookers, and gorgeous Longaberger baskets! I hear there are still a few in-house reservation spots left... if you are interested in attending, go here to register and grab one of those coveted spots! If you wish to follow the event via Twitter, just search for #oamm.


Savory Seger Sunday: Veggie Torilla Pinwheels

Veggie Tortilla Pinwheels

This appetizer is always a hit at family gatherings and I’m usually asked to make them wherever we go! With football season finally here - they would be spectacular for tailgating or just to munch on while watching the game.

– package of 8-10 burrito sized flour tortillas
– 1 small can of chopped black olives
– 1 package cream cheese
– 1 package ranch salad dressing mix
– 1/2 cup chopped celery
– 1/2 cup chopped green or red bell pepper
– 1 bunch chopped green onions
– 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
– handful of chopped jalapeno peppers (optional)
– 1/4 cup chopped cooked bacon (optional)

Mix cream cheese and salad dressing mix together until well blended. Add in rest of ingredients and mix in blender on low speed until well blended. Using a baker’s spatula, spread medium amount of mixture onto one flour tortilla – be sure to smooth it out! Roll tortilla into a “wrap-up” and cover with plastic wrap. Continue with rest of tortillas, wrapping each in plastic wrap individually. Store in refrigerator for at least two hours or until ready to serve. Remove from refrigerator and remove plastic wrap from each wrap-up. Cut width-wise into pinwheels and place on serving platter or tray. Sprinkle all over with fresh or dried parsley flakes.

Makes about 30 – 40 pinwheels. Expect no leftovers. :)


Savory Seger Sunday: Broccoli Casserole

I don't know about your family, but our family tends to make the largest dinners on Sunday! I'm trying to help my friend Tricia, over at Once A Month Mom by submitting a couple side dishes for Thanksgiving recipes. (She likes to plan ahead :) So I thought I would go ahead and begin a new series here on Seger Moments for sharing our family recipes - Savory Seger Sunday. Today I'll share Grandma Good's Broccoli Casserole. This stuff is the best around and we gobble it up at every Good holiday gathering! I have begun making it for my family and to take to potlucks. When the weather turns crisp and leaves begin falling off of trees I just crave ithis casserole! I get A LOT of compliments on it too. Sorry I don't have a photo to share - but trust me, it's delicious :)


- 1 large bag of frozen broccoli flowerets
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 3/4 cup of minute rice (not cooked)
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 bag shredded cheddar cheese


Cook broccoli and rice together according to package instructions. Meanwhile, saute celery and onion in skillet with butter until onions have started to brown. After broccoli and rice is tender, drain excess water with a colander (this step is key for a great texture!) Put broccoli & rice and celery & onion mixture into a 9x13 baking dish. Add cans of soup and stir together well. Place in oven and cook at 350 degress for approximately 30 minutes. When 10 minutes are left, pull casserole out of the oven and top with entire bag of cheddar cheese. Place back in oven and cook for remaining 10 minutes or until cheese has melted.


The Night Before Kindergarten...

Dear Marissa,

Tomorrow is such a big day in your little life. Tomorrow you will begin kindergarten and a new and exciting chapter will begin for you. This is terribly cliche, but it seems like just yesterday I was taking one of our 3 a.m. "walks" around the living room with you... making a figure eight from the front of the room to the dining area, into the kitchen, and back toward the front door. I would always take a peek out of the front door window to see if any other lights were on in the houses on our block.... hoping that I wasn't the only one awake in the world at that ungodly hour. I can still smell the wisps of your baby shampoo and hear your rhythmic breathing as you would (finally) fall asleep in my arms. Up the stairs I would trot... very, very carefully... and say a little prayer as I went to lay you in your crib. Without fail the moment your head hit the pillow you would wake up, let out a little cry, and reach for me with your pudgy little arms. Of course at the time I was so frustrated I would wish for you to be older, even 5 maybe, so that you would finally be able to fall asleep on your own, without our nightly ritual. There are times I would give anything to repeat one of our walks. They were some of the most peaceful moments of my life.

There have been many changes in our life since those long nights. But you have never lost your spunk, fun-loving personality, or your stubbornness. You have grown into such a smart little girl who is always up for a challenge. I can already sense that we have a teacher's pet in the making. :)

You are so excited to begin school and already love your teacher (even though you've only met her twice!) I am excited for you - and for our family. Some of your greatest memories, adventures, and friends will be products of your school years. Some our families greatest memories will be made from your school activities, sports, events, etc. I can't wait to watch you at your first band concert or to help you get ready for your first prom. This milestone seems like such a monumental one, but when I think about all of the other exciting milestones to come, it really puts this one into perspective.

No matter how many milestones we cross together, you will always be my little Marissa-girl.

I love you so much,



Twice the Fun

August has been a busy month for our family for the past couple of years. It is Fair season (which equals craziness at work for me), back-to-school season, and Alan and Jake's birthdays are almost back-to-back smack-dap in the middle of all of everything else that is going on! Our little Jakey-boy turned TWO on August 16th. Mommy had to work :( , but he and Daddy spent the afternoon at a wonderful vintage baseball game at the Willowtree Inn in Tipp City. Jake had a great time and we celebrated a couple days later at his baseball-themed birthday party. I thought I would share a few photos of his b-day festivities.

Happy Birthday Jakey, I can't believe you are two - it seems like just yesterday we were holding you in our arms and calling you our little "miracle." We love you so much!


Decision, Decisions...

So now that our Jake will be turning 2 in a few weeks we've getting this question a lot - "so when are you having another baby?" After our eyes would roll into the backs of our heads (sorry everyone...) we would of course say, "I don't know." And that has been the honest truth. Alan and I have known that we had an extremely important decision to make. Do we take the plunge and have a third child? Our blended family complicates things - and makes an already tough decision even, well, tougher. Would Marissa feel left out if Alan and I had another child together? She's not with us half the time and might feel as though she's a fifth wheel... this concern by the way, was brought up by my absolutely wonderful husband who I truly feel is more thoughtful than I am sometimes.... I have given A LOT of thought to having another child - I even talked to my ob/gyn about the idea and charted when the best time to conceive would be. I have thought about how it would effect my graduate work toward my master's degree and how our time / stress / family dynamics and finances would change. Do we even have the money to have a third child? Could we afford to have three children experience and do what we hope to expose them to during their childhood and beyond? The thing I think I have been most concerned with is the blatant fact that Jake lives in a dynamic where he is treated as an only child 1/2 the time. Would this get better or worse over time? How would this effect him long-term?

So as you can see, we struggled with many questions and concerns that surrounded this decision - and after countless discussions, sleepless nights, and even hilarious attempts at bartering, Alan and I came up with two choices for ourselves. We could have another child or we could get a dog. So what did we decide? ........................

Meet Kaity. She's our new addition to the family and she is not a human baby but a canine puppy. Let me tell you, at almost 12 weeks old she's about as much work as any baby would have been but she's adjusting to our family and home well. We love her to death - she's the sweetest puppy we could have asked for. Alan expressed his love for black labradors very early on in our puppy search and we hoped to get lucky enough to find one at either an animal shelter or adoption agency. Boy, were we lucky! Just before closing time a couple weekends ago we strolled into our local PetsMart hoping to just look around to see what was available, price pet supplies, etc. You know me - always trying to be prepared and such. In the back of the store a pet adoption agency (Rescue Me, Inc) was corralling their animals to leave. There, along the side was an entire litter of black lab / blue tick coonhound mix puppies in a shopping cart. Their foster mom was getting ready to wheel them out of the store. Alan headed over to the cart immediately and started asking questions about the puppies. After holding the lone all black male of the group, the foster mom pointed out one of the puppies that was feverishly trying to get out of the cart and into her arms. "This one," she said, "is the sweetheart of the group. I even call her 'sweetie." Alan picked up the black, tan, and white puppy and she curled up in his arms and just shook like a leaf. We all instantly fell in love with her. After asking if we were going to adopt her, the foster mom began to cry saying "if I could have kept any of them, I would have kept her. She's going to make a fantastic family pet." She then dug into her bag and grabbed a tied up piece of wired ribbon and mentioned to us that Kaity loved to play tug of war with the toy and that she wanted us to have it. She then gave her a big hug and kiss and, still wiping her tears with her shirt, wheeled Kaity's brothers and sister out of the store. And so we left with a puppy, and all of the supplies we didn't have at home which ended up being pretty much everything!

Here are a couple other photos of Kaity. She's going to be one large puppy here soon, so we'll try to keep up with the pics of her growth in the weeks/months to come. I hope to post an update with her interactions with the kiddos, obedience and house training progress soon.

Look for one more addition to our Christmas card photo this year! :)


They're Heeeeeere....

The Terrible-Twos have made and early, and unwelcome appearance in our household in the form of a Jakey-Monster. Our cute, angelic, easy-going little boy has turned into a frustrated, tantrum-throwing monster overnight. I've written a post on this ugly topic on EverythingMom I'm not sure what it is about this stage of development that exhausts and stresses me so much! You can give me a screaming infant that stays up all night and I'll be as happy as a peach.... but a toddler yelling "NOOOO!" or "MOMMAAAA!" a hundred times a day makes me feel the need to check my blood pressure!

You can click here to check out the post. Keep us in your thoughts as we push our way through this tough phase! :)


Wedding Album

Click here to view this photo book larger


OAMC May Menu Critique

My sis and I have been able to almost gobble up all of the Once A Month Mom Cooking items in our freezer since completing our first OAMC big cooking day almost one month ago. I was going to offer up a critique of all the menu items we tried - however, I loved just about everything we cooked! So, instead, I'm going to include in this post the recipes that weren't a huge hit in our household and why.

- Chicken Taco Wraps: I believe there was an error in the recipe instructions and too much rice was cooked for these - this led to the rice not fully cooking before it was placed in the wraps and frozen. The kids refused to eat them just because the rice was too "crunchy."

- Low-Calorie Strawberry Shake: I personally loved these, but my daughter thought otherwise. She didn't care for the maple syrup that was included in the recipe and I honestly thought about omitting it.. and I probably should have. If you are thinking about making this recipe for your kids I would suggest adding honey or apple juice instead of the maple syrup it calls for. However, my sister's kids LOVED the shakes and couldn't get enough of them - so it's your call! :)

- Pioneer Woman's Flank Steak: the marinade for this steak recipe was so soaked into in the steak that it was almost too marinaded by the time we cooked it on the grill a couple weeks ago. The marinade recipe had called for a lot of soy sauce and this resulted in the steak being extremely salty... I could feel my health-o-meter dipping with every bite! :) I would suggest cutting the marinade ingredients in 1/2 when preparing these steaks to be frozen.

That's about it really! All of the other recipes were gobbled up by all four of us, hubby and kiddos included which is pretty amazing considering I have a couple picky eaters in the family to impress :)

Click here to see the recipes above and the rest of the May Once A Month Mom cooking menu.


The Big Surprise!

Many people are waiting with baited breath to view this little clip that Jeromy was able to catch when he and Alan picked Jake up at the airport... so here ya go! Alan is in the white shirt / red hat heading over to the left side of the screen toward Jake. Surprises are great, aren't they? :)


Al's Been 'a Travelin...

...to San Diego that is! Alan recently took an exciting weekend trip out to San Diego to surprise his best friend, Jake at his bachelor party. Yes, that's right, his loving wife told him that she would cancel her plans to go to Chicago so that he could travel 2,300 miles away from her to see and do Lord knows what! Man... I must looooove him :) It was the first leisurely trip he had gone on without me since we had begun dating - so it was a little difficult for both of us to say the least. There was a lot of worry on both sides, but in the end he had a fantastic time, got to spend a weekend with his "long-lost brothers" who left him for California (hehe), and came back to me and the kiddos safe and sound... and of course with lots of stories and pictures to share!

Alan and I learned a lot from this trip - and you can read about how we grew in our marriage because of it in a different post on EverythingMom here.

And, because I know you love 'em - here are a few more pics.


50 Picture Books Everyone Should Know

Much to my excitement, my daughter completed her pre-kindergarten screening this past spring. We are very fortunate to be living in an excellent school district - our children will be attending one of the best public elementary schools in the area and for that we are extremely thankful. During Marissa's kindergarten screening, we (parents) met with the principal and went over school year and logistical info, etc. Also during this time, he passed out a sheet listing "50 Picture Books Everyone Should Know." Mr. G. stressed the importance of our kids knowing (or at least listening to once) these particular books before they begin kindergarten. They assist in helping children learn to read, teach morals, values, and many are classics! I've had multiple friends ask for a copy of the list and so I thought I would share online as well!

Here they are:

1. Abuela - by Arthur Dorros
2. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - by Judith Viorst
3. Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing - by Judi Barrett
4. Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock - by Eric A. Kimmel
5. Andy and the Lion - by James Daugherty
6. Ben's Trumpet - Rachel Isadora
7. Blueberries for Sal - by Robert McCloskey
8. The Bossy Gallito: A Traditional Cuban Folk Tale - retold by Lucia M. Gonzalez
9. Bread and Jam for Frances - by Russell Hoban
10. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? - by Bill Martin, Jr.
11. Caps for Sale; A Tale of a Peddler, Some Mondays and their Monkey Business - by Esphyr Sloboclkina
12. The Carrot Seed - by Ruth Krauss
13. A Chair for My Mother - by Vera B. Williams
14. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom - by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
15. Corduroy - by Don Freeman
16. Curious George - by H.A. Rey
17. The Day JimmyU's Boa Ate the Wash - by Trinka H. Noble
18. Dear Zoo - by Rod Campbell
19. Doctor De Soto - by William Steig
20. Farmer Duck - by Martin Waddell
21. The Fortune - Tellers - by Lloyd Alexander
22. Freight Train - by Donald Crews
23. George and Martha - by James Marshall
24. Go Away - Big Green Monster - by Ed Emberly
25. Goodnight, Gorilla - by Peggy Rathmann
26. Goodnight Moon - by Margaret W. Brown
27. Grandfather's Journey - by Allen Say
28. Happy Birthday, Moon - by Frank Asch
29. Harold and the Purple Crayon - by Crockett Johnson
30. Harry the Dirty Dog - by Gene Zion
31. Henny Penny - by Clarion
32. Horton Hatches the Egg - by Dr. Seuss
33. I Know an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly - Illustrated by Glen Rounds
34. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie - by Laura J. Numeroff
35. Is it Red? Is it Yellow? Is it Blue? An Adventure in Color - by Tana Hoban
36. It Could Always Be Worse. A Yiddish Folktale - retold by Margot Zemarch
37. John Henry - by Julius Lester
38. The Judge: An Untrue Tale - by Harve Zemach
39. Julius - by Angela Johnson
40. Komodo! - by Peter Sis
41. Leo the Late Bloomer - by Robert Kraus
42. Little Blue and Little Yellow - by Leo Lionni
43. The Little Dog Laughed and Other Nursery Rhymes - by Lucy Cousins
44. The Little Old Lady who was not Afraid of Anything - by Linda Williams
45. Little Red Riding Hood - retold by Paul Galdone
46. Lunch - by Denise Fleming
47. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile - by Bernard Waber
48. Madeline - by Ludwig Bemelmans
49. Maisie Goes Swimming - by Lucy Cousing
50. Make Way for Ducklings - by Robert McCloskey

Suggestions for gathering all of these books:
- buy used at a bookstore, library, or on amazon.com
- hunt for books at garage sales
- trade or swap books with friends and family members

thank you to Tipp City Broadway Elementary school for the book list!

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