Thursday, August 14, 2014

Working Girl

I am definitely not Melanie Griffith, I'd probably be closer to Joan Cusack's character, but I did get a job! I decided a blog post would be the easiest way to let everyone in on the good news, and it's a pretty cool story.

Brian is past his retirement requirement (say that 5 times fast!) and he is starting to see the light at the end of the deployment tunnel. He still isn't quite sure what his next adventure will be after the Air Force, but there's time to figure that out. We have also been having a few serious financial discussions, that combined with a future pay reduction had us thinking it was time for me to start bringing in an income as well.  I still want to be a SAHM and be there for my guys as much as possible, so nothing too crazy!

My first step was joining Jamberry nails as an independent consultant. I love their nail wraps and my nails haven't been naked since last fall!
I get a ton of compliments on them and my nails now grow like crazy and hardly ever break. If you are interested in checking them out you can go here

I knew that was not going to be enough right away to make the mortgage so I started creating my resume, searching online job sites and asking for prayer. One of my friends at church knew there would be a job opening soon and kept me posted. When the job became available, I met with another friend (who currently holds that job) to get the low-down. It would be perfect! Working with people I already know and like, minutes from the house, part-time.... well, almost perfect.... you see, it is working for the music director at our church, and I can't read music. At all. Completely illiterate. Everything else I was certain I could do, and I started asking how much of the job entailed music knowledge. I was encouraged that I could learn and that I would have help - but ultimately, an assistant tries to make life easier and I wasn't sure that was what I would be doing.

The very next day, after discussing the job responsibilities with my friend, I received a facebook message from another friend in my church fellowship group. She saw I was looking for a job and asked what I was looking for. I told her what my past experience was in and what I'd been doing lately and that I basically was after a part-time office gig.

We continued messaging back and forth, I then called her the next day so we could chat - what she is looking for is exactly the job I was wanting!! She is an audiologist and has been running her practice all on her own. Answering phones, scheduling, filing claims, everything that keeps an office running - but she's also the doctor! Talk about some serious multitasking skills. I described my 6 years working in the medical insurance field (although it's been awhile), doing customer service, claims benefits, all the things it entailed that would fit right into doing what she's needing so she can spend more time with patients and her family as well.

The best part... she is so incredibly nice! We have known each other for quite some time, went on mommy dates, and prayed for each other's families. I think we will have a great working relationship and I'm excited to have her as my boss. Not only does the job match my skills, but it is also part-time. I got a carpool set up this week for the kiddo, so by the time I officially start he will be used to the routine. Wow! It's so incredible to watch God work when you trust in his timing and allow him to handle the details!

Now, He just needs to find Brian a job!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Wandering around pinterest and this post about "Tricky People are the New Strangers" popped out at me. So I followed the bunny trail and read the article. It is pretty good, you should read it. The comments following will drive you batty though, so I will warn you about that.

Basically it is an article explaining to parents why teaching your child "not to talk to strangers" just doesn't work. I completely agree. We never have given that advise to AJ as he needs to talk to strangers all the time and often it is us as parents encouraging him to do so.

As he is getting older he needs to gain the confidence to speak up when needed. We encourage him to ask questions, be assertive - that means speaking to strangers often. We have stopped ordering for him in restaurants, he is the one who needs to ask if he can make substitutions or ask for a refill. When travelling last summer we went through a drive-thru and our order was wrong. I gave him the receipt and sent him back in to get it fixed. It's a little scary for him at times, but he gets better each time and is proud of himself afterwards.

We also use times when we are out to teach manners. Not just please and thank you, but things like looking people in the eye, speaking up and not mumbling, asking others questions about themselves and really listening, holding the door and looking for ways to help someone else. The Boy Scouts call it "do a good turn daily".

These things don't just occur naturally for everyone, some need more practice than others for it to feel natural. So, look for opportunities everywhere and let your child feel a little uncomfortable every now and then. It's the stretching of their wings before they fly!

Friday, May 23, 2014

It's Summer! - Part three

Part of my summer that seems inevitable is the phrase "Mom, I'm hungry." Over and over and over and over..... you get the picture. Now, I have a boy, he's nearly 11 years old and I get that filling him up takes some doing, but here is a conversation that takes place multiple times a day -

AJ: Mom, I'm hungry.
Me: You just finished eating.
AJ: I know, but I'm hungry
Me: What do you want?
AJ: I don't know. What can I have.
Me: Fruit, string cheese, yogurt, carrots.... Goes away for 2 min ...
AJ: Can I have chips?
Me: No, you already had chips today
AJ: So what can I have?
Me: Fruit, string cheese, yogurt, carrots... Goes away for 4 min ...
AJ: Do I have to have one of those?
ME: Then what do you want????
AJ: Can I have dry cereal?
Me: You already had cereal today....
AJ: I guess I'll have some fruit. ... Goes away for 2 minutes...
AJ: Mom, can I have an apple?

AAAAGGGHHHH! Every. Single. Day. Over and over. So, I came up with something that I'm hoping will help us both end this cycle.

I did some research online for the recommended daily servings in each food group for an 11 year old boy. I grabbed a stack of colored index cards: red for protein, green for vegetables, purple for dairy, yellow for grains, and blue for fruit. Each index card represents one serving, listed on one are the examples of what is a serving is for that group. On others I have post it notes to list what we actually have in the house that would be a serving.

So now, I can take away the cards for what I'm planning for dinner, he makes his own breakfast and lunch most days and will take away the cards for these. The cards that are left will give him a better idea of what he should be eating for snacks. If he is picking something off of his cards and isn't duplicating something he's already had that day - he doesn't need to ask me!

Ahhhh, I can already hear the silence! Of course, we're not there yet. It will take awhile of us working together for him to be comfortable with serving sizes, combining groups togethèr, and knowing what food goes into what group.

I want to be clear, this isn't a diet. He's not watching his weight, counting calories, etc. He is allowed to not eat all the servings, or to eat more if he is hungry. This is just a learning tool so he can have a visual clue of what he should be eating daily and to try to introduce more variety! He forgets that he has more options than chips and cereal.

I also didn't include desserts, candy, sweets, drinks, etc. He's allowed them on occassion and can ask for them - but he doesn't need a constant visual reminder!

I hope this idea resonates with you if you are in the same situation. Use it as a jumping off point and tweak it until it works - then leave me a comment and let me know what's working for you!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

It's Summer! - Part two

I posted our summer schedule here, but now am expanding on a few things we have planned.

Part of AJ's schedule is a Daily Project. This could say "mom's daily project" because it's him helping me with whatever I want to get done that day. I have plans to go through closets, cabinets, rooms and declutter. Our laundry room needs a major clean out as does our small shed. Going through AJ's clothes and bookcases for stuff to donate. Lots of jobs that he can help with!

Another activity listed is Be Creative. Here are a few ideas of what we'll be doing:
Make abandon art (see below)
Plan and create a RAK (see below)
Make art for the hallway
Write a letter to mail
Create postcards to send
Plan a sleepover party
Science projects
Learn a new recipe
Get a learn to draw book and practice
Take pictures - scavenger hunt
Paint a project
Learn a new game

For our Be Active catagory we planned things for both at home and out and about. We are going to try and incorporate a RAK ( Random act of Kindness) each time we head out.

RAK ideas:
Hide $1 bills around the toys at the $ store
Tape ¢ to gumball machines
Gift for our mail lady
Gift for abus driver
Hand out homemade blessing bags
Hand out lottery tickets
Take a treat to our dentist office
Hand out flowers
Hide toy treasures at a playground
Tape popcorn to a redbox machine
Take crayons and coloring books to ER waiting rooms

Be Active ideas:
Wii fitness
Bike, scooter, skateboard
Night hikes
Library - Bookmans
Walk the mall
Picnic at a park
Water fight
Zoo, museums
Kidnap a friend
Chalk neighbors driveway
Abandon Art

Abandon Art comes from a group I belong to. You make original pieces of art (book markers, jewelry, clay figures, just about anything!), then when you are out you leave them for others to find. They are tagged with a card letting them know it is free and to take it or leave for someone else to find. The tag has a website where others can log in that it was found!  We plan on doing this when we go out as well, hiding book markers in library books, leaving items in bus stops, etc.

Well, I hope this gives you some ideas of fun things to do this summer. I'll be reporting back on how we are doing periodically! If this has inspired you to have a fun idea, please share in the comments. Thanks!

It's Summer!!

Today was our last day of 5th grade, so AJ's summer schedule begins tomorrow. We mostly based this on last years schedule since it seemed to work, but added a few things. AJ does so much better when on a schedule, I get asked a lot fewer questions and he knows what to expect.

We don't have a set wake up time unless we have somewhere to be. The morning part of the schedule is accomplished before lunch, his "break time" depends on how long he sleeps in and how long his morning activities take.

Make bed
Breakfast & 1\2 hour show
Personal tasks (dressed, teeth, etc.)
Dishes - unload dishwasher
Journal & writting practice - 20 min
Reading 30 min
Math skills 10 min
Fix lunch
Walk Cookie
Check recycling & trash
Daily Project
Quick pick up
** 1 hr Break**
Weekly chore
Be Creative
Be Active
Dinner prep
**Break until time to start dinner**
Feed Pets
Dishes - load dishwasher
Personal tasks (pajamas, teeth, etc.)
Read 30 min

His weekly chores this year are: Doing his laundry, cleaning his bathroom, picking up dog messes, dust and sweep, cleaning the microwave, etc.

The next post will be our ideas for the Daily project, Be Creative and Be Active! Stay tuned!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Chicken in the Crockpot

My friends and I have been ordering boneless, skinless chicken breasts from Zycon foods for sometime now and we love them! Instead of adding another 10 bags of chicken to the shelves we are trying out some freezer crockpot meals. Most of them say to thaw for 24 hours before adding to the crockpot but I think it's mainly just to make getting the ingredients out a little less tricky.

None of these are our original recipes - we troll blogs and Pintrest looking for the ones we think our families will like and this is just an easy place to store them. If you see yours and want a link back to a blog or pin just let me know!!

We'll continue to add to the list and make notes as we try these out. Feel free to comment and leave more recipes!

Honey Sesame Chicken

1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

green onion, thinly sliced for garnish
sesame seeds, for garnish

Combine everything but the garnishes in a ziplock bag. Freeze.

To cook, thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Place into crockpot and cook for 3 1\2 hours on low. Remove chicken and shred, return to crockpot and cook an additional 1\2 hour.  Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.

Maple Dijon Glazed Chicken

1 1\2 lbs chicken
1 cup dijon mustard
1\2 cup maple syrup
2 T red wine vinegar

Combine in ziplock and freeze. Thaw 24 hours in fridge. Cook in crockpot at low for 8 hours.

Chicken Cacciatore

1 lb chicken
1 26oz jar spaghetti sauce
1 zucchini, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped

Combine in ziplock and freeze. Thaw 24 hours in fridge. Cook in crockpot at low for 6-8 hours. Serve over noodles.

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

1 1\2 lbs chicken
1 16oz bag frozen broccoli
2 - 16oz jars Alfredo sauce
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 4oz can sliced mushrooms, drained

Combine in ziplock and freeze. Thaw 24 hours in fridge. Cook in crockpot at low for 4-6 hours. Serve over Fettuccini noodles.

Mandarin Chicken

4 chicken breasts, chunky
1 bottle BBQ sauce
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1\2 red bell pepper, diced
1\2 green bell pepper, diced

Combine in ziplock and freeze. Thaw 24 hours in fridge. Cook in crockpot at low for 7 hours. Serve over rice.

Cilantro Lime Chicken w/corn & black beans

1 1\2 lbs chicken
Juice from 2 limes
Fresh cilantro, chopped
1 16oz bag frozen corn
2 cloves garlic, minced
1\2 red onion, chopped
1 can black beans, drain and rinsed
1 tsp cumin

Combine in ziplock and freeze. Thaw 24 hours in fridge. Cook in crockpot at low for 8 hours.

Slow-Cooker Tex-Mex Chicken

1 lb.  boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch-wide strips
2 Tbsp.  (1/2 of 1-1/4-oz. pkg.) TACO BELL® Taco Seasoning Mix
2 Tbsp.  flour
1  each green and red pepper, cut into 1-inch-wide strips
1 cup  frozen corn
1-1/2 cups  TACO BELL® Thick & Chunky Salsa
2 cups  hot cooked long-grain white rice
1 cup  KRAFT Mexican Style Finely Shredded Four Cheese
2  green onions, sliced

TOSS chicken with taco seasoning and flour in slow cooker. Stir in vegetables and salsa; cover with lid.

COOK on LOW 6 to 8 hours (or on HIGH 3 to 4 hours).

STIR just before serving. Serve over rice topped with cheese and onions.

Italian Crockpot Chicken

4 chicken breasts
1 Italian dressing seasoning packet 
1/2 cup water
1 (8 oz) block of cream cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup
2/3 cup water
Enough rice to feed whoever is eating.

Place chicken in a crockpot and season evenly with Italian dressing.
Add the water and let cook on low for at least four hours.
When chicken is cooked all the way through, shred with a fork or in a mixer - just something to get it shredded.
Place back in crockpot and add cream cheese, chicken soup, and water.
Mix thoroughly and let sit for another 30 minutes.
Serve over rice.

Teriyaki Chicken

Medium to large bag of mini carrots
Red onion in large chunks
2 large cans of pineapple chunks, undrained
4 garlic cloves
4 chicken breasts
1 cup teriyaki sauce

Split between 2 bags and freeze. Cook on low 6-7 hours, adding additional sauce if needed. Serve over hot rice.

Shredded Chicken and Stock (I also cook this while I’m throwing other meals together)

4 large chicken breast
2 large onions, sliced
3-4 large carrots
4-5 stalks of celery
salt & pepper as desired

Chicken Tortilla Soup

-4 chicken boneless skinless chicken breasts, not frozen
-1 can diced tomatoes (not drained), 14.5 ounce
-1 can black beans (drained), 14.5 ounce
-1 small onion
-2 Tbsp minced garlic
-1 cup frozen corn (or a 14.5 ounce can of corn will work too) – we buy our corn in the summer when it is really inexpensive from a local farmer and freeze it.  So, I just cut the corn off the cob and use it which is why you see whole cobs here.  If I didn’t do that I would just buy frozen corn or use canned.
-1 jalapeno, finely diced (vary to taste – this will be a little bit spicy – about medium heat.  If you like mild food start with 1/2 jalepeno).  You can also use canned jalapenos if you don’t have fresh on hand.
-2 limes, juiced OR 2 Tbsp lime juice (fresh will taste better)
-1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (dried will work if that’s all you have on hand)
-3 14.5 ounce cans low-sodium chicken broth (Note: this will make a relatively thick soup – if you want your soup to go a little further you can add an extra can of broth and make it slightly thinner but a larger batch)
-salt/pepper to taste (I used about 1 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp sea salt)
-Sriracha sauce to taste – just because everything tastes a little bit better with sriracha :)  (I used about 2 tsp)

Crockpot Chicken Fajitas