Monday, November 19, 2012

Hostess Trying to Have the Mostest...

(Getting excited at the boys'
Thanksgiving Feast at school!)
It's that time of year!  As a person who loves to play hostess, I'm in heaven!!  I get excited about having people over, cooking for them, serving drinks, and watching everyone enjoy themselves.  Jeremy says it's my way of showing people I care about them- and I agree!  Aside from the actual act of cooking and baking, though, I stress out waaaaay too much and forget to slow down and actually enjoy the process- and product.  I decided to plan way ahead this year and eliminate as much craziness as possible.  My first get-together:  Thanksgiving.  I host every year and LOVE it!  It marks the beginning of the holiday season for me.  It also involves lots of cooking, so I welcome it with open arms!
To avoid becoming a sweating, crazy, grouchy hostess, I decided to make a list of things that I always seem the least prepared for and..well...prepare for them!  Here's my list, along with my solutions:

Not fancy, but works for me!

Frantically finishing cooking and cleaning the kitchen!
I always seem to be frantically finishing up the mashed potatoes and/or dressing at the last minute, as people are arriving.  Sometimes, I'm even cooking for a good half hour after guests have shown up!  This leads to a kitchen that is still messy- not to mention hot from the stove and oven being on, and I'm a sweaty mess!  After thinking about it, I realized that I save the "hot" dishes until the last minute to guarantee that they're not cold for the guests.  What I failed to remember is that I have two awesome double buffet warming trays from my mother-in-law!  Duh! 
I made a food schedule so that I'd know exactly what to do and when.  Not the fanciest thing in the world, but it made me feel calmer immediately!  Yes- I even included when to get dressed bc I am rarely a decent-looking hostess when some of my guests arrive.  It was one of the items on my list, but once I included it on my schedule, it lost its spot!

What goes where?
I have now taken out all of my serving trays, platter, bowls, etc. and figured out what suits everything that will be served.  I labeled each one with a post-it note and was even OCD enough to draw a picture of my kitchen and where each dish will go.  I had to include dishes that other people are bringing, and just planned for a large dish in order to guarantee space!  Now, I won't be stressing out at noon when I'm putting everything out!  Sounds silly, but it's a problem I just had to eliminate.  (I don't think this is my original idea.  I must have seen it on Pinterest!)

Can I put this in your refrigerator/freezer?
This is the one I'm never fully prepared for.  I get so caught up in cooking and cleaning that I forget to make room for my guests' things.  This led to a grand refrigerator/freezer clean-out and organization that took some time.  In the end, I have tons of extra space and am very excited!  I also made room in our garage refrigerator for the thawing turkey! (It usually holds beers, juice boxes, and extra gallons of milk.)
Two shelves of extra space
(Oops-chopped off bottom drawer!)

I am not a person who finds much enjoyment out of eating leftovers.  I get bored after having something one or two times, and feel horribly about throwing out food that was yummy just because we couldn't eat it fast enough. I thought of the solution at my friend's appetizer and dessert party this year.  After sampling eachother's dishes, Jennifer gave each guest a paper sack with a small tupperware container and a baggy so that we could take some favorites home. 

I decided to copy her, so I found giant-sized brown paper sacks at HEB and some tupperware containers that fit just perfect!  I just had to think of a little saying to put on the bag and...Voila!  I think they came out nicely!  Plus, it was a very fun project for the kids.  Even Ross decorated a few!


Of course, having a clean house is a must!  I always underestimate how long the simplest things will take to complete.  It doesn't help that I have three little monkeys running around undoing all of the hard work Jeremy and I do!  We've done some things throughout the past week that couldn't possibly get messed up by Thursday (windows, mirrors, etc), but I am saving most for Tuesday and Wednesday.  Even vaccuuming has to wait until Thursday, though.  I just know that Ross will manage to crush his goldfish into the living room carpet before noon!  This one is more of just taking deep breaths and being patient.  There's not a lot I can do too far ahead, and I just had to learn to be at peace with that.  I am super lucky- I have a husband who really does help clean well.  He definitely does his part!  :o)

Wow- I'm happy to have typed all of this up!  It makes me feel like I'm actually prepared for Thursday!  I can look back on this next year and make sure that I am just as prepared!  Of course, this could all also end up in a frantic, running-around-like-a-crazy-person Thanksgiving...we'll see.  Until then, I'm thankful for my little attempt at being organized and prepared- and for the family and friends who love me regardless of how it all turns out in the end!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Perfect Parent?

I am a person who is constantly second-guessing myself.  Should I have done that?  Did that sound stupid?  What did that random stranger who I will never see again think about what I just did?  It's annoying and I've been unsuccessfully working on it for quite a while. 

Well, I am proud to say that I had a break-through this week!!!  One of the hardest jobs I have ever had (and will probably ever have) is parenting.  It's a doozy.  And as we all know, it does not come with a manual.  As a teacher, I had high expectations of my students, but my patience was sky-high, and I could find an endless number of ways to explain a topic to my little kiddos.  As a mother?  Not so much.  I still have very high expectations, but I can be hard on them- mostly Mia.  She is a super bright little girl and very mature for her age.  It's easy to forget that she is only seven, since she is far from the seven year olds I had in my second grade class back ten years ago.  (Or at least I think she is...) 

Some people have even told me to "lighten up" and that I'm "too hard on her".  There's also the whole "she's just a kid" comment that I always love.  I take those things to heart and begin to question my parenting.  Am I scarring her and taking away her self-confidence?  Is she going to think that everything she does is wrong as an adult?  Oh no!  What have I done?  I'm the worst mom in the world!!!  Ahhhhhhh!  (Yes, I seriously have a wave of panic and those thoughts with every little comment and look I get.)  What's weird is that I feel like it's over basic things like:  eye contact, please and thank you, manners, and basic respect protocol- Shouldn't we all be sticklers when it comes to those things?  I get confused on whether or not to back off.

Then, Friday rolled around... 
Ross had decided to be up most of Thursday night.  At 7:30 Friday morning, I woke up and went into "woke up late" mode (I'm usually up before 6:30).  I rushed into my bathroom and- there was my little angel!  She was dressed, shoes on, teeth brushed, and face washed.  She looked at me and smiled proudly at the look on my face.  "Good morning, Mommy!  I just need for you to fix my hair and I'm ready to go!"  I beamed.  She couldn't contain her excitement and walked over to me with a huge smile on her face and gave me a very long, tight hug.  I told her how proud I was of her over and over.  She had definitely earned a trip to the donut store for a special breakfast treat!  <Insert many more hugs here!>

To top off the morning, I checked my email before Mia headed out to school and saw a note from her music teacher.  We had emailed about Mia and Graham donating their Halloween candy to an organization called Operation Gratitude. (They send it in care packages to deployed soldiers.)  The principal wanted Mia to take her candy to school, where she would be on the video morning announcement, telling kids about why she was donating her candy, and helping get the movement started by the entire school!  Awesome!

Responsible, independent, proud child?  Check. 
Well-mannered, thoughtful, giving child?  Check. 

Finally, it happened- Break-through!  Maybe a small break-through, but I'll take it!  I'm probably not the most perfect mom in the world...Maybe that mom doesn't exist.  What I know, though, is that I don't need to worry about little comments here and there.  All I need to do is focus on the beautiful little people Jeremy and I have created and know it's all been perfect enough for them! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Isn't it funny how you start using all of the cheesy ole' cliches the older you get?  I always feel like such a lame-o saying things that I never thought I'd hear myself saying.  (Lame-o being one of them!)  In reality, though, many of the weird things "real grown-ups" say doesn't make much sense until you've lived a little.

What did I find myself saying recently, you might be wondering?  Two things, actually:  "They grow up so fast" and "Time flies".  I actually have to credit my sister, Cynthia, with the latter.  She texted it to me when she pointed out that it had been an entire year since my last blog post.  What the...?!!!  Was she serious?  I immediately logged on and realized that she was right!  I browsed through my "lame-o" attempt at a blog, and couldn't believe how little the kids look in the pictures!  Wow- they grow up so fast!  :o)

Soooo...Our family just went through a little bit of a change, and I am taking that as a cue to start blogging again. Fresh start-at home and on my blog! 

Jeremy just left his company after nearly 12 years to start a new adventure with a different company. It's exciting, but he is traveling a lot right now as he steps into his new role, and it's definitely changed my "job" at home, as well!  Being a stay-home mom means you're working 24 hrs/day, 7 days a week without much of a break.  When you throw in no evening relief from the dad getting home, things can get...well... exhausting!

The bonus, though, is the tons of time everyone wants to spend together when he gets back!  Since Jeremy hates traveling and being away from home more than anyone I know, he is even more active and fun than his normal self when he gets back from a trip! 

When he got back from his trip last week, he was beyond eager to see the kids, hug them, and play with them.  (I got tons of hugs and kisses, too!)  His flight got in midday and after hanging out in the backyard with the boys for a while, he drove to Mia's school and picked her up a few hours early.  As soon as he got home, we packed up snacks and drinks, loaded up the bike trailer, and headed out to the park near our house.  It was a beautiful day and we ended up passing up the closer Collins Park and rode further out to Meyer Park.  After running from playground to playground, we ended up "hiking" on the trails.  Suddenly, the kids started getting moody, and we realized we had been at the park for hours.  Wow- time flies!  :o)

At home, the kids clung to Jeremy constantly.  I was relieved to have a date night with him that evening.  There was so much to talk about since we hadn't seen each other all week, and we laughed constantly!  I felt like a giddy school girl on a first date!  We did our restaurant hopping (dinner at Jasper's and dessert at Perry's- yum!) and consumed a variety of cocktails.  It made the previous five days of Mom vs Three Little Monkeys worth it.  And although I know that we won't be letting Mia ditch school every time Jeremy comes home, and we won't have a romantic date night every time (although I'd like to try!), one thing is for sure:  Absence really does make the heart grow fonder!  (teehee!) 

                 Sir Graham!                                                                Hiking with my girl!

          Shoulder ride for Ross!                                             Brotherly love!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Quotables for October

The Target we go to gives kids free cookies in the bakery.  The lady gave Graham two.  When I mentioned how nice it was for her to give him two cookies, he replied, "Yes, but not as nice as foooour cookies!"

Mia's comment: "All of the animals on Earth are God's pets, right?  Even the wild ones are."

Mia and Graham went through the carwash with me.  I thanked them for going with me, and Mia sweetly replied, "You're welcome!  We would be honored..."

Graham and I were discussing how orange juice comes from oranges.  Then, he said, "Where does water come from?  Oh!  I know...Watermelons!  God took a watermelon and smashed it up in the food mixer and put it in a cup."

Graham's next project:  "We should make a handsoap that smells like hands.  That way when you wash your hands, your hands smell like hands!"  

Never a dull moment...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Cheerleader

Wow!  I can't believe how long it's been since I found the time to get on here and write!  Has it been almost two months?  It seems like the time flew by, but when I start thinking about everything that was going on during that time, I remember that it didn't FEEL like it flew by!

The most time-consuming thing that has been happening lately has been Mia's cheerleading.  She begged to do cheerleading, and so we signed her up.  I thought it would be a great way for her to meet some of the girls from her new school. What a crazy decision that was! Little did I know that out of the 50 cheerleaders on her team, only one other girl would be from Mia's school. 

On top of that, this cheer team is way more serious than we anticipated.  Jeremy and I have said, "What have we gotten ourselves into?" several times in the past few months, and with the dance competition part coming up soon, things are just getting more hectic.  It's quite a time commitment... especially for something that was a random "just fun" hobby to try out.

Mia loves the idea of being a cheerleader.  At home, she does the cheers and shows us the dances.  On the field, she does the arm motions, but rarely actually cheers.  She gets too embarrassed.  Her halftime dances are adorable- and her favorite.  I have a feeling she'll end up leaning more toward dance than cheer.  Because of all the practice time, she already said she doesn't want to do it again next year.  She wants more time to play with her friends.  Jeremy and I were relieved to hear it!  :o)  I think it could be easy to get caught up in "acting older" as a part of this cheerleading world.  I like seeing Mia playing with Barbies and acting like a six year old!

Being a cheerleader to Mia is more about getting to wear the uniform, knowing some cheers, and doing halftime. are some pics of my sweet cheerleader "looking the part":

I really am happy to know she'll be branching out to something new, but I have to admit that I'll miss seeing her in her uniform.  She's just so darn cute!!!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


My sister puts quotes from her girls on her blog, and I love it.  I'm totally going to start copying that.  I know I need to, too.  I have been making a mental list of quotes to put on the blog and already forgot them all.  If I don't start putting them in writing, I just know that a lot of memories I'd like to hang on to will be lost.  :o(

For now...

 I loved what Mia said so much when she was 4 that I put it in the "notes" app on my phone.  This seems like a great place to record it:
While she looked out at the rain on the car window she said, "Mommy, the rain is having a dance party on the window!"

Graham:  "Mommy, did you have to cut your shirt when you took Ross out of your belly?"

Graham to Jeremy:  "How much did you have to pay for Ross?"  After Jeremy explained that we didn't pay for Ross, Graham asked, "Even his eyes and his nose and his mouth?"

Mia goes to school at Mittlestadt Elementary.  While she was at school one day, Graham said, "When I was a little girl, I went to Mittlestadt."  I tried and tried to understand what he meant...(still working on it).

It's so sad that's all I can remember right now.  I know my mom and I were cracking up recently because of something Mia said to her.  My mom told me that I HAD to write that one down.  I reassured her that I'd never forget it!  Ummmm....just a few weeks later, I have absolutely no idea what Mia said.  Ugh!!!  I guess I'll have to update this the moment I have a "moment". 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Plan!

I think I finally have "a plan".

Now that Mia's in school, I can commit sooo much more of my focus on Graham.  It's amazing how much he has to say!  It is seriously nonstop, and I must admit that I do completely block him out at times.  I'm trying to be better about it, though.  I don't want him to think I don't care about what he has to say, but Jeesh!  Give me 60 uninterrupted seconds of silence!!!

Through all of his questions, I have started to figure out how he learns.  It amazes me how much of an auditory learner he is!  I find it impressive since I am completely visual/kinesthetic.  I've been trying to use any opportunity to work on letter recognition and sounds with him.  I was concerned about his complete lack of interest, but have been validated as a good teacher and stay-home mom the past few days.  Graham is pointing out letters everywhere we go and telling me the sounds they make.  He is full of excitement to be recognizing things and makes connections, reminding me of a story I told him or a book we read together when he learned a specific sound.  He is constantly wanting to read to Ross, and has even memorized a handful of books to "read" him.  It's adorable!

I decided that I'm going to start doing PreK lessons with Graham.  I'm going to start with A Letter of the Week and do various activities with that letter all week.  I'm going to integrate math, science, etc. in as well.  I think he'll love it!  He's such a little sponge right now!  I've also started teaching Mia piano, and I am noticing that Graham really wants to participate!  He'll go into our formal dining room, where we keep our other piano, and mimic the lesson Mia's doing.  It makes me sooo proud!

I feel like I now have a purpose, and this blog will have a purpose!  I can post different activities that I do with him, and maybe it will help other stay-home moms work with their kids, too.  Or...Maybe nobody will read it.  Who knows?  All I know is that I'll get to feel like I have a purpose!  I plan on starting next week.  Stay tuned... I hope I can pull this off!!!

Graham reading his Thomas the Train ABC Book to Ross!