Tuesday, April 19, 2011


We've been having some issues with the kids and unacceptable behavior.  Lying, back talking, being bossy, not doing what they were told, and homework issues.

I've been contemplating what effective form of discipline to use when it comes to these behaviors, but also how to incorporate teaching the kids the life skills needed to understand why these behaviors are unacceptable, because these are traits that are not only unacceptable now but will also be as they get older.  The lessons they learn from these punishments are more important to me than the punishment itself.  Does that make any sense?

My kids all have very different personalities, and trust me when I say I've read many, MANY parenting books, listening to audio taps, etc.  It's so important to me that we find effective discipline for each child because they are all so different and respond to direction, correction, praise, and criticism differently.  I want them to be 'who they are'.  Strong-willed, type A, quiet..........  the list goes on.  Being able to effectively teach them about unacceptable behaviors while encouraging them to be who they are is my ultimate goal.  Isn't that every parents goal?!

Time-outs really aren't something that are effective because my kids, well, they are content laying in their beds, singing/talking to themselves, and staring at the ceiling.  I'm trying to say, they are very capable of keeping themselves entertained. (Except for Breanna...time-outs are very effective with her because she despises them so much.  Just the threat of time-out is usually enough to get her to behave.)

They don't play video games much, so taking their DS's/Wii privileges away really doesn't work either.

Today, E and I were talking and she suggested having the kids write me a paper addressing the following questions:

1.  Why am I in trouble?

2.  How does my behavior affect me?

3.  How does my behavior affect others?

4.  How can I work on changing my behavior?

5.  How would my behavior been punishable in other situations (ie.  school, church, etc)?

Obviously, this will only work with my big kids, but I think it's a fantastic idea.  Not only do they have to think about their actions, but they have to discuss them with us.  Then depending upon what the 'issue' was, we will work out a correlating punishment.

How do you all deal with these things?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Baked Crab Cakes w/Chipotle Sauce

I'm not, whatsoever, a fan of seafood...except for crab.

I love crab cakes but they are VERY fattening.

After much searching of the web for low-fat recipes, I stumbled upon this one.

I got the basis of this recipe on Gina's Skinny Recipes Blog, and then I substituted a few different ingredients.

To make four cakes you'll need:
  • 9oz crab meat (I used canned and refrigerated it ahead of time so the cakes bound together better)
  • 13 Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 2 egg whites, beaten
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp Tastefully Simple Spinach and Herb seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp low-fat mayo
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper
Mix all ingredients together.  I used a 1/3 measuring cup to form each cake.  Placed it on a greased cookie sheet and baked for approximately 8 minutes per side.

For the Chipotle sauce, I used 1/2 cup Kraft Chipotle Mayo and 1 tsp lime sauce and mixed together.

2 cakes...347 calories.
Served with some veggies and water and you have an under 400 calorie meal.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Meal Planning Tuesday (updated w/pricing)

Meal Planning Tuesdays


Meal Planning Tuesday!

oh how my budget has missed thee.

I'm not going to post the days with each of these, because I tend to make them out of order either due to my own food cravings or the kids', so I'll just be posting what we will be having with the ingredients that go along with those meals.

This is how I manage to feed a family of six on a budget.

If the prices aren't marked, it's because I already have these ingredients and did not need to purchase them today.

Asian Glazed Drumsticks (already had all these ingredients)
soy sauce
agave nectar
balsamic vinegar
minced garlic

Chicken Salad
chicken - bought a 5 lb bag for $10.98
red pepper - 2 for $3.88
lime juice - .88
low-fat yogurt - $2.50

Baked Crab Cakes
crab meat - $7.68
ritz crackers - $1.38
red bell pepper (same as above)
lime juice (same as above)
parsley -
s & p
scallions - $2.38

English Muffin Pizza's
wheat English Muffins - $4.00
pizza sauce/bbq
grilled chicken - $2.98
crumbled bacon
mozzarella cheese
bell peppers - 3 for $3.72

Turkey Wraps
Ranch dressing
cream cheese - $3.64
tortillas - $1.78
sliced turkey - $11.22
sliced cheese - $3.98
tomatoes - $3.77
avocado - $1.48
shredded lettuce - $1.50

Italian Focaccio Sandwiches
rotisserie chicken $7.98
ranch dressing
green onions
Focaccia - $2.68

Citrus Chicken
boneless chicken breast halves
Hidden Valley Dressing mix
chicken broth - $1.78
orange marmalade - $1.88

I'll post pricing after I go to the grocery store tomorrow, and I'll be posting the recipes for the dishes I listed above which are not already on here.

Don't worry...this shopping trip will not be breaking bank as I planned many of these meals around coupons I have, and/or some items I already have in my cabinets/refrigerator.

I purchased several other items for the other meals besides supper that we have each day, and items needed for side dishes, as well.

Milk, asparagus, toaster strudel (because I had a coupon), my Chai Tea concentrate, flavored yogurt, garlic cresent rolls, corn, potatoes, butter, and some cleaning supplies, to name a few.

After coupons, my GRAND TOTAL was: $133.17.

I'm sure I could get this total down a little more by making my own breads (I do have a bread maker), and a few other things from scratch.  But I stayed well within my weekly allowance for food, and being a busy mom, it's easier to have some items on hand that you can throw together for quick meals.


Day 07 - A picture of your most treasured item.

I debated not putting pictures of my kids, because they aren't really 'items'. 
They are angels.
On loan to me from our Almighty God.
But they are treasures in my life.
Aside from Chris...they are the most treasured people in my life.

Big A and Kinsey

So different, yet so much alike.
They are 8 months apart.
Big A is Chris's son from his first marriage, and Kinsey is my daughter from mine.
From the minute they met at the ages of 4 and 4, these two have been inseparable every.single.time they are together.
They both have these funny/sarcastic personalities and they are constantly mocking things each other says.
Favorite lines...Kinsey quoting Big A...'Is this REAL food?'
When he said this at the restaurant, Kinsey burst into laughter and said, 'well what else is it?'
(he meant it as in is this the meal...or appetizer?)

Big A quoting Kinsey..."Let's go, let's go...ummmm....where are we going?"
(We were going on a bike ride, and she didn't know which way to go)
But they found it so funny that it's now a 'funny quote'.

I know that's probably not funny to anyone else, but it has me in tears laughing every time I hear them do it in their imitation voices.
Sure they have their little spats, but they never last more than a few minutes.
When Big A is at his mom's the girls ask non-stop when he's coming back (even though for the past three years he comes to our house at the same time every other week)
And when the girls are in LA for the summer, he ask every week he's here...when will Kinsey be home.

They make up dances, stories, games...they are such creative kids.

They make me think back to having been blessed with my own step-brother who was the exact same age as me, and the close bond we had growing up.

I hope they always stay as close as they are now.

At our favorite place on earth!
My grandparents lot on the lake.
I grew up going here on the weekends during the summer, and my kids love it.

It's truly a relaxing place that I hope will be enjoyed for generations to come.
Hopefully, some day we will find property close to it to build our 'forever home' on.
aka...where we retire, one of these days.

Little A
I don't call them Big and Little to disguise their names...it's just I (well actually Chris and I both do) have a tendency to combine their names when talking to them and call one or both of them 'Avan', so it's just easier to call them Big and Little A.

This kid has a love for life that is unparalleled to any I've ever seen.
She's happy 99% of the time, and 99% of that time (when not in school) she's in a fit of laughter.
She's soft-spoken, wise beyond her years...everyone tells me she has an 'old soul'.
And she's very eclectic.
My mom always ask me, 'Casondra, why are you letting her wear that?'
My answer is always simple: Because it's Ava!!! She's not a conformist. I would never try to change her, because I ADORE that about her.
She loves music.  All kinds of music.
So much of Ava reminds me of my friend, Kate.
I wouldn't be surprised for Ava to be my child who travels the world, just because.
She's just such a free-spirit.

Baby B...Breanna

The baby of our 'brady bunch'...she runs the show.
All the older kids adore her.
As do all of our neighborhood kids.
Breanna has a larger than life personality.
She's constantly on the go...something that is so shocking to us, because we were told after her open heart surgery that she'd tire easily.
But she's up with the big ones, very few naps, and doesn't go to bed until we make her lay down (with us).
I know, I know.  It's a terrible habit, and one that I DID NOT form with any of my other children, but cut me some slack...she's THE LAST one.
And honestly, between the heart issues, and sleep apnea issues she had, I just feel better being able to hear her breathe.
She, along with the three other kids are the reason I wake up every morning.
The reason I've spent 847247389489638917 hours doing laundry, cleaning up messes, kissing boo boo's, cooking meals, planning birthday parties and vacations, taking pictures, snuggling, going to doctor's appointments, reading books, doing homework, and all the other millions of things moms do.
They are the only reason I was scared when I got my diagnosis.
They are the loves of my life..my reason for breathing...my reason for wanting to be the BEST me possible.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Food Preparation Simplified

I'm always, ALWAYS looking for ways to simplify details of our daily routines.  The other day Angie posted how she organizes her groceries in an attempt to simplify meal time. 

I, immediately, ran to the store to buy some plastic totes.

The idea is that you group together all the ingredients you need to make a meal.  Pre-cut all veggies, onions, etc.  Grate cheeses, dice meat, wash veggies.  Everything that you can do ahead of time...do it.  Then place all ingredients along with the recipe card for that meal in the front of the tote, and stick them in the fridge.  I can fit four of these totes in my fridge. 

I'm partly excited about this because it will simplify/quicken my time spent in the kitchen in the evenings...especially Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings when our nights are filled with trying to fit in homework, supper, clean up, music lessons, baths.  And I'm also partly excited because when Ava got sick earlier this year, and when E's grandma passed away, I was rushing around trying to prepare a couple meals for the days I wouldn't be home.  I'm thankful enough that my family comes to help during those times...I like to make things as simple for them.  So, that's where this idea comes into play.  Everything needed for one supper meal is in each of these totes.   All they have to do is pull out a tote, follow the recipe card, and viola....they have an easy meal. 

Normally, Friday is pizza night at our house.  The kids love stuffed crust Digornio's...and we generally rent a family movie, or have a fire and eat pizza.

However, Breanna decided to dump an entire bottle of nail polish on the living room and kitchen floors while I was in the bathroom.

Bright pink at that.

So, I was scrubbing away with nail polish remover when the kids mentioned they were getting hungry.

I looked at the clock and thought, 'Crap...it's almost SIX!  What am I going to make that's fast?'
oh yeah, I have THE TOTES.  And one of them contains all the ingredients to make Wheat English Muffin Pizza's

I wrapped two baking pans with aluminum foil, laid each half of the English muffin down, put the toppings on, and popped them under the broiler for about 8 minutes.

I don't have pictures of all the steps, because I was more worried about throwing them together as quickly as possible so I could get back to scrubbing the carpet.

Here's a picture of the finished product though.

These were SOOOOO good.

The kids asked if we could have them again on Friday.

For the kids, I just make cheese.
For Chris and I, I used a tsp of BBQ sauce as the sauce, crumbled bacon, grilled chicken, onions, diced peppers, and mozzarella cheese.

The best part...I got the idea of these off of a video from Food Network, and the hostess (not sure who she is though...I've never seen her before) said three of them contain the same amount of calories as a LARGE slice of pizza, so you are getting way more food for the calories.

These will definitely be made again at our house.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Chicken and Green Bean Casserole

While I was going through and re-coop'ing after my surgeries this past year, I became obsessed with cooking/baking as a form of stress relief.  And while I still cook (daily), I've been less than disciplined in documenting and sharing them.

I've slacked off of Tuesday meal planning.  I've actually slacked off of meal planning altogether, and my monthly budget is feeling it.

While my goal is to get back into my very detailed meal planning, it is also to take it a step further and to group the meal's ingredients together when I put them away, so that prep time for meals is also cut down.  Thanks, Angie, for sharing this FAN-TAB-U-LOUS idea!!!

That, with the addition of the family closet, is going to be a HUGE time saver in my daily schedule.  And let's face it, anything that helps with time-savings/running-a-household-more-smoothly is something I crave for my life.

Yesterday was such a nice day that I wanted to be outside, so when it came time for supper, I wanted to be to pop something in the oven, and return later and it be done.  So, I decided it was a good day to make Chicken and Green Bean Casserole.

Before y'all start gagging at the thought of chicken and green beans together in a casserole, check out the recipe/pictures...I assure you, IT'S GOOD!  (otherwise, it wouldn't make it to the pages of this blog. lol)

Start off by dicing up a bunch of grilled chicken.

Add it to a medium size saucepan...along with green beans (fresh or canned)

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup Mayonnaise and 1 cup shredded cheese

Heat over medium heat until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated and cheese is melted.

Pour into an ungreased baking dish.

Top with biscuits.
You can use regular biscuits and coat them with butter, but I just used butter biscuits.
Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (the tops of the biscuits will be a nice brown color, and they need to be this way, or the bottoms of the biscuits will not be cooked.)

Let cool for 10 minutes, and serve.
We add ours with a side of Asparagus.
I swear my kids would eat it (asparagus) for snacks if I'd roast enough to last all day.
In fact, Big A got to our house not long after supper, and walked out the backdoor munching on one.
Then he went back inside and got a plate with several more.