Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Crock Pot Sloppy Joes

Here is the number one thing I have learned about having children.  When they are hungry the word "waiting" is no where in their vocabulary.  Another thing I have learned?  I can't exactly hover over the stove for three hours daily to feed all of the mouths in my house.  So, I have set out to use my crock pot two to three times a week.  I thought I would share some of the best recipes I have found.  First up...Sloppy Joes!

Crock Pot Sloppy Joes


3 lbs. ground beef, browned and drained
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
3/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. chili powder 
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
sandwich rolls


1. Combine all ingredients except rolls in slow cooker.
You will think there is not enough liquid but don't add anything to it.  

2. Cover.  Cook on Low 8-10 hours, or High 3-4 hours.

3. Serve in sandwich rolls.  Makes 12 servings.
You could easily freeze the leftovers.

**I bought fresh deli rolls and spread a thin layer of butter across the middle sections and toasted them in a warm pan before filling them with meat.  I highly suggest this extra step!

**Don't have time to do this in the morning?  Prepare it all the night before.  Put it in your refrigerator and then start it before you head out the next morning.

This recipe came from the below referenced book.

 Get your crock pots on!  There are more recipes coming your way!  Always tested...and kid approved!

-- The Mama
**I installed a Print Friendly button below.  Hope this helps you out!**

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Last First

Guess Who Got Their First Haircut?

Trim it gently please,
And let me comb it one more time.
 Before you give a first haircut,
To this little one of mine.

So soft and baby fine,
Her hair is in my hand.
How much of this growing up,
Can a mommy stand?

I know it may seem silly, 
To get teary over hair.
But it's just a symbol of
Changes everywhere.  

--Thena Smith  

The first haircut.  I put it off for as long as I could stand.  But, the day finally came. 

 It always does.  Doesn't it?  We push back, hold on longer, and wish it away, but they grow-up anyway.  This I know for sure.  

They must experience the "firsts," whether I want them to or not.  This one might have been the hardest yet.  This is quite possibly the last first haircut this family will have.  I was slightly heartbroken.  More then slightly. 

 I sat there brave and poised, trying to focus on the "being still" part more then the cutting part.  I hid behind the long black lens of my camera with a golf ball size rock in my throat.  There was a moment where I wanted to call it all to halt.  But I didn't.  I chose to embrace the moment and be ever so thankful that I have seen this moment three times over; with three beautiful, healthy girls.  

I chose to see the joy in her big brown eyes as she watched herself in the over-sized mirror.  

I chose to laugh at her expression when she tasted the sour apple sucker. 

   I cackled out loud when Man tried to help out with his phone and she nose dived toward it.

   I chose not to make her pose, because I am choosing to see her through a mother's eyes...exactly as she is.  Happy.  Strong.  Loveable.  Feisty.  Strong-willed.  Amazing.  Beautiful.  Perfect.

 And while this may be the last of this first, I am so thankful it's not the last first. 

Savor it.  A "first" only happens once. 

---The Mama

Friday, January 25, 2013

According to Olivia

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be sitting here before you getting ready to tell you this.  

You see, I wanted at least one girl.  If God would just bless me with one girl I would be happy, happy, happy (couldn't resist).  Well, because my mom started praying for me to have girls since I turned 15 it is clear she has a direct line on these matters, since I now have 3 girls.  FYI, she now prays daily to see them all into their teens.  Anyway, I knew I would dress up this sweet girl, put piggy tails in her hair, take her shopping, get our nails done, you get it.

Insert Man.  Man is a hunter.  My baby girl has had some form of camo at every age.  Clearly not purchased by me.  Although I have offered to monogram here initials in hunter orange, only to be shut down.  I was just trying to be supportive.  Baby girl has been groomed for hunting for quite some time, learning calls of all sorts of animals, setting up cameras, learning animal tracks, pitching ground covers tents, and who knows what else.  I stay home and cook breakfast...or dinner.  Just depends.  So, it came as no surprise that her only Christmas request this year was a bow.  A bow?  I am like, "For your hair?"  She rolled her eyes and said, "I am going to talk to Daddy about this."  And she did.  I was given the information on the selected bow and sent to the computer.  I ordered this thing before any other gift.  Guess what?  Apparently Brave and The Hunger Games created a bow buying craze.  Very long story short.  We didn't have a bow for Christmas.  

Some not so kind emails later and a third order through a new company and Olivia's bow was on the way.  It arrived on MLK day...the UPS man always comes through.  Praise the Lord.  Man said she assaulted him.  I might need to leave him a treat on the doorstep this week.  Yes, he comes weekly.  I live in the middle of nowhere, that is only 30 minutes from the beach.  Anyway, she would sleep with the bow if we let her.  We can't do that because they might think that was child endangerment.  So she settles for every other minute of the day.  Like when I sent them outside to play, before I went nuts the other day, and I could hardly get out of the door and she has the entire set-up going full force.  When she sees me with my camera she is so excited and says, "Momma, take my picture showing you each step of shooting a bow."  So, without further ado (aren't you glad for the entire background of this moment?) here it is...

How to Shoot a Bow...According to Olivia

Step 1 : Pull Arrow Out of Canister 
(Sorry I do not know the official name of that thing.  Please don't tell her.)

Step 2:  Pull Arrow Back

Step 3: Release Arrow

Step 4: Pose With Your Shot 
(Swear it.  She really said this.  I thought I would pee in my pants.)

I hope you took notes.  There might be a quiz.  This is Olivia we are talking about.  

Happy Friday!

--The Mama

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Just A Little Neat School Thing...

Just when I thought Olivia might fall over dead if I made her review basic addition one more time, my brain went into overdrive.

  Since we are teaching our kids daily through lessons or homework, why not make it fun?  I saw something similar in her math book, so I went full size and all out.  You could do this with all kinds of math and on all levels.  Anyway, just a little something I thought I could share that might make your teaching/homework job a little more fun...and your kids will think you are so cool.  Maybe.

Simple construction paper project for you to put together.  Older kids could make their own and create their own problems to work.  

Oh, and if Hump Day has you down this week...  you can pretend you are here...

---The Home-School Mama

*Feel free to Pin the idea for easy reference.

Monday, January 21, 2013

I Would Have Missed This

Yesterday I was supposed to hop into my car and go grocery shopping as soon as our company left.  But I didn't.  I played hooky from grocery shopping.  I am a rebel like that.  

But if I hadn't played hooky...

I would have missed the biggest dirt road I have ever seen...

my girls saying, "Wheeeee," and pretending we were on a roller coaster...

the surprise turn-off onto a sandy, tree-lined path...

that lead to a glimmering, sunlit pond that captivated my girls...

with it's cute baby fish that swam right up to meet them...

a spider who wanted to sit down beside them...

which sent us quickly to a straw covered path...

where my baby walked beside me holding my hand...

and my big girl climbing a tree.

Go ahead.  Be a rebel.  Play hooky.

You don't want to miss something like this.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Today I...

Today I was supposed to get to sleep in.  

Today I woke up at 6:33 to my sweet Addison's voice in a desperate hush telling me, "Mommy, there are monsters outside of my window."  Today I snuggled with Addison from 6:33 until 7:07, when Allye was no longer patiently waiting in her bed. Neither was Olivia.  

Today I let my kids make their own breakfast.  It turned out better then when I let them make their own dinner two nights ago...

Per Addison, "Breakfast + Lunch = Dinner"
Today the girls made like fourteen hundred Valentine's Day cards.  You will know Addison's because she signed her name at the top, drew something at the bottom and sealed it with an Easter sticker.  FYI.  Olivia's.  Well.  Her cards seemed to be filled with a sweet note, cute stickers, and were addressed like she was mailing them...minus the zip code.  Today...I said it was perfect.  Then we went outside.  Where they attempted to hand deliver them to our neighbor.  She wasn't there.  They wanted answers.  It wasn't workout day.  They keep tabs like that.  So, we moved on to snack time and sidewalk chalk.  Today I made them lay down in a pose and then complete the picture.  Art class?  Maybe.

Today we worked on an art project that we have been working on forever!  There might have been fake flowers and a hot glue gun and scissors.  Today I learned that I need more then two hands to do such a project when my 15 month old wants to "help" too.  

Today I taught school.  To a seven year old who refused to remove her sunglasses.  I don't know how we do this sometimes.  

 Today I had snack with Allye in the middle of my kitchen floor.  We ate graham crackers and drank milk.  We made a mess.

 Today I used the vaccum twice.  Once to clean up the potted plant that Allye dumped in the floor.  Another to clean up the graham cracker she used to decorate our foyer with when I got distracted with a phone call from my bestie who just received her Christmas present (Can't wait to show you!).  There was only a 30 minute time span between these two events.  I know you know.

Today I ate dinner with a bathing beauty.  What was I supposed to say?

Today we ate ice cream sandwich sundaes after dinner.  I never allow this on breakfast for dinner night.  But I did today.

Today is today.  Not yesterday.  Not tomorrow.  So are you living for today?  I am.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Don't Settle for Less

Do you ever get caught up looking at old pictures?  This happened to me recently...like when I was supposed to be working on one of my handmade Christmas projects.  Technically it was part of my project but then I got all emotional and had to stop and go look at all of them.  Which lead to looking at more and more and more.  Anyway, I have to show you some of them.  

Let me explain why I have these.  This is what happens when you pay a high priced photographer that your dance company hires, they tell you will get to select from the more then 15 shots they took of each of your daughters, only to receive their selection and it looks nothing like your kid.  I mean, it was my kid, but not her.  Know what I mean?  Anyway, let's say they are very clear on what I think of their pictures and then I went and took my own.  Here they are.

Let me just say this.  They had nothing on this.  And I am no professional.  But they had nothing on this.  I was so happy I took the extra time to make these.  Lesson is this.  You know your kid better then anyone else.  You don't need a fancy camera to capture who they really are.  Do it!  You will love those pictures more then any picture taken by someone who doesn't care what you end up with (as in this case).  Or, hire your own photographer for these special shots!

So, I might be getting a little fancy here.  I think (fingers crossed) that I am about to share some dancing videos with you.  Our new studio only allows parents to watch three times a year.  You understood why once we were all in there.  Cameras flashing, phones videoing, hoots, hollers, clapping, and lots and lots of smiling.  If you don't watch, I get it.  The grandparents will.  More then once probably.  BUT, if you need a good smile for the day, watch the very first one all the way through.  Just know this.  She was supposed to be standing very still after her turn!

My all-time favorite dance picture snapped at the last minute a few months ago...

I would like to go on record that I have never had a bad experience with a photographer I have personally hired.  They are like family now and loved my kids and wanted me to have a good experience.  So, for that I am thankful to:

Erica M Photography

Jennifer Linette Photography

Creative Portraits by Julie Gilmore

Bo's Photography

Timeless Memories Photography

You have captured moments in our lives that we will cherish forever.
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