Dressing the Special Needs Mom ~ Episode 2

Colored Jeans. Love 'em? Hate 'em? I go back and forth between loving some and hating others. 
Pretty sure you couldn't get me to wear any florecent colors, but then I swore after like 1994 that I would never wear spandex. And then yoga pants happened. And then my sister dragged me to hot yoga and I wore more spandex than I think is legal. Ok got a little side-tracked there. Back to the colored jeans deal. Some colors I'll do, and some I won't. Burgandy jean, yes. 
 They can almost pass for red pants, which I am ok with on occasion. Here's the thing-- colored jeans can go two ways. You can A) color block with them, or B) wear them with stripes or a pattern of some sort. In my humble opinion as long as it isn't grannies flowery mumu, you're good. Simple is a good start. I have a couple of striped shirts that I wear interchangably with different colored bottoms. It's interesting. Add a couple of simple accessories and you're good. Nothing too crazy. You can pull it off, trust me.

 One thing I am loving is wearing my jean jacket with colored bottoms, whether it's colored jeans or a patterned skirt. Jean, or even chambray, can be really cute!
 Or, you know, if you are feeling a little bit daring (as in you'll actually wear the colored jeans), but you want to be comfy too, match it up with a slouchy gray comfortable sweatshirt.
 Dressier? Have an appointment\therapy\dr appointment to head to? How about a peasant shirt, cinched in just above the waist with a cute belt.
 Or forget the belt and throw on your jean jacket. Still cute, a little dressier and pulled together.
 There's also just the plain white tee. It's safe. It's cute. It'll go with just about anything. So you're looking chic with your cute jeans, and laid back with your white tee. Go you! Feeling confident? You should.
 I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite accessories while we're at it. I can't do too much fancy stuff. If I wear a necklace, it usually gets ripped right off me by little fingers. Scarves are cute, and the weight of them can be heavier for winter/fall, or light and airy for spring/summer. A dark one and a light one are good choices. And little ones are hard pressed to spend much time playing with them once they wear off the initial rip-it-off-mom's-neck phase. You can add in colored or patterned ones as well for interest. I stick with flats. A neutral colored dressier pair, and a pair of leather go-to shoes that can be worn with just about anything. I trip and fall in heels. Especially if I'm carrying a toddler/groceries/messenger bag with kids binders of medical documents.
 A stretchy, cute belt with an interesting buckle. I do wear bracelets. For one, they make great baby teethers, and two, they're great alternatives to necklaces. One of two bangles can be super cute.

I also accessorize with cute babies. They're the best accessories. They're cute and make people smile. Oh and they make life interesting(er). While wearing colored jeans.


Lenten Journey with Waiting In His Word

 It seems like Christmas was just a minute ago, but it's already February and Lent is almost upon us. Next week-- what?! Lent seems to always fall during challenging times for me. There seems to be either lots of things going on with the kids, or things going on with me personally where I struggle to do anything more or special with regards to observing Lent. Advent always seems to be more of a joyful celebratory anticipation of what's to come. It's a funny (ironic) thing really, because I consider Easter one of my favorite seasons/holidays. In years past, it has slipped by without my doing much to prepare. This year I'm going to be more proactive about it, more purposeful in my preparations, starting with myself and my own journey towards Easter.

A couple of wonderful blogging mommy's have put together a Lenten Journey for mother's with a (bonus!!!!) Facebook group. And that's what I'll be doing this Lent. Because I need help, and accountability. And friendship to help my journey along.

To keep my journal in good condition, I semi-bound it. I printed out the PDF which you can purchase here.
 I printed it out in half-page format, so that I could fold the pages in half and have a journal that I could keep tucked in my bible. The first page I laminated with transparent Con-Tact paper. You could go fancy and buy some of the actual laminating sheets, but I do a lot of "laminating", and Con-Tact tends to be a little more budget friendly.
 I covered both sides and burnished it with a butter-knife. Super fancy, I know.
Using some binder clips to hold my journal pages together, I stapled the sheets down the middle and folded the book in half, burnishing again to get a good fold.
 You can also use the binder clips at the fold to get a good fold. Easy-peasy, and this will help my journal hold up to the wear and tear that I know it will see. (Ahem, little fingers.)

I honestly can't wait to get started with this bible study and journal. I could use some alone time with Jesus and the Word. Looking forward to it. What are your plans for Lent? 


Let Them Eat Cake!

Birthdays at our house all fall close together, and so we end one year and begin the new year with lots of cake. My boys celebrate only days apart, right near (or this year ON) Thanksgiving. The girls fall days apart as well. I love cake decorating, but things can get exceedingly hectic and as much as I'd love to pay one of my amazing cake-decorating friends to make fantastic cakes or cupcakes, it's not in my budget. What is in my my budget, however, is this easy and delicious Crepe Cake. 
The thing about crepe's is that they are rich and delicious and can be transformed into what ever flavor "cake" that you desire. Fruit? Great! Lemon curd and butter cream. Sprinkle Raspberries on top. Chocolate lover? You could add cocoa powder to your batter and have a chocolate layered Crepe Cake. 
This year I was feeling worn from having been sick with the flu, and still being in recovery I felt incredibly lucky that my 10 year old agreed to a Crepe Cake. I took a couple of short cuts, which also made it super quick to throw together in only minutes. Read on!
I bought these premade and frozen crepes, and let them defrost on the counter. When they reached room temperature I gathered the rest of my ingredients.

Using a small box of vanilla pudding as my base, I folded in 1 1/2 cups of whipped cream. Let this chill a little bit in the fridge so that it will set a bit. You don't want the Cream Pie part of this Boston Cream Crepe Cake to ooz out the sides before you've completed putting all the layers together. And by the way, I did 10 layers to our cake. But you can do more of less.

Next, warm a large container of Nutella, or similar Hazelnut Chocolate spread, in the microwave for about 30 seconds. It should be runny and spread smoothly.
Take your chilled cream filling from the fridge and get ready to start layering the crepes. Alternate the crepe layering by spreading the Nutella on the bottom crepe. It will act as your base and hold the rest of the cake in place fairly well. Do be mindful that this cake is "fragile" and the crepes need to be treated tenderly. Make sure that your Nutella is soft enough. If it isn't, heat it 30 seconds at a time until it reaches a very very soft stage.
Layer, layer, layer.

When you have your desired height, spread your top layer with some of the cream and drizzle Nutella over the top.

Pop this pretty cake into the fridge for an hour or so to cool and firm up.

And then enjoy! 

Leftovers....may not happen! Just make sure to take a nice leisurely walk after enjoying. Or do a few crunches ;)


Dressing the Special Needs Mom~ Episode 1

As I sit hear writing this, my daughter is wiping her tears and snot all over my legs. She's upset that I won't hold her, and she was upset that I stopped her from self-injuring when I refused to pick her up. So she's crying on my legs. I'm happy to caress her back and wipe her tears and be her "Kleenex". It's the life of mom. Any mom, really.  Special needs kids can bring in an extended period of messiness to our life that most parents will see their kids out-grow. We may see extended periods of diaper changing, cleaning up reflux, experience a food shower at just about every mealtime. This is life, so why shouldn't we just live in our sweats or grungy clothes, "because that's where I'll end up anyway"? Because, we need to have some self worth. It's part of self-care. Caregivers need it. Even if we're just in our nice clothes at the beginning of the day for a very short time to drop the kids at school and go back home to tend to therapy or what-have-you. You'll be amazed how you feel about yourself,  and how your self-worth and self esteem will grow if you take these extra minutes in the morning. It's taken me time to grow into this mind-set. Trust me, I was in the yoga pants and sweats for years before I figured out that wasn't who I wanted to be, and that's not who I wanted to represent my children as. 
So where do you start? You don't have to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe. If you have only grungies and yoga pants, you can start with one piece at a time. Or if you're like me, head to the thrift store and spend $20 and get a few pieces that you can wear interchangeably. Capsule wardrobes are pretty popular now and you can find a ton of ideas on Pinterest. 
My one piece of advice, above all else would be, invest in a really nice pair of jeans. Don't wear them everyday. Yes, buy them to fit and be comfy, but keep them to look nice in. A nice pair of jeans can be dressed up or down, and even worn as evening attire (if you're lucky enough to get an evening out!) with some cute heals or sparkly flats. 
This Christmas I was blessed with a gift card to Target. (I'm thrilled easily.) I went straight for the cardigan section. I was hoping to find a red one, but I was just as happy to find a Mustard cardigan! With a little help from the interweb, and a color palette, I mixed and matched some of what I already had in my closet to come up with a few different ways I can wear my new Cardigan. 
Mustard with Black or Navy Stripes, and a pair of jeans. Cute and classy. Can be worn with a pair of tenni's or some flats. Looks cute and pulled together. 
A white tee. You can wear a white tee with anything really. Throw on a contrasting colored scarf, some jeans and off you go. 
Errands to run? This one is a little more dressed up, for me anyway. I don't wear button down shirts very often, but I love this checkered one. The sleeves of the shirt I'll probably roll with the sleeves of the Cardigan, so there is a little pop of color mid-line. 
Ok, now we're getting dressy. I might wear this to church, or to a doctors appointment for one of the kids. It still says "comfortable", but dressed up a bit more. People will take you seriously in this and see that you put in some effort. See if they treat you differently when you wear a dress or skirt. I bet you'll notice a difference! And it's nice to feel feminine sometimes. This dress is polyester as well, so if I end up with snot, or vomit, or food on me it can be easily cleaned. Got to think practicality too, right?

Pardon my blurry photo. For some reason my camera didn't want to focus on this set. Probably the lighting. Or it could have been the little one yanking on my arm while I was aiming! For this set I added some pops of color. Color can be scary, to start, especially if you've been wearing grey, black or neutral colors for the majority of your life like I did. My wardrobe consisted of black pants or jeans, and grey, black or neutral colored shirts. Blah. Blah blah blah. So start with one colored shirt. What's your favorite color? Buy one in that color. Wear it once. See how you feel. Next time, find a coordinating colored pair of pants or a skirt and put an outfit together. See how you feel. It will get less scary. And you'll start to feel good about yourself in that outfit. 

Fist bump, fellow mama. Here's to feeling better about you.


Menu Plan Monday ~ Episode 2

Last week I mentioned keeping my pantry stocked with certain items as a fail-safe way of making sure that there is always something that can be made for a meal. You wouldn't believe how many times my pantry staples have saved the day. Sometimes in the hectic moments grocery shopping just doesn't happen for whatever reason. Or I get home late and grocery shopping is the last thing I want to do with the little ones.

What follows are some of my kids favorite "unplanned" meal choices from our pantry staples. They are simple and filling.

  • Fried Rice, either vegetarian or with chopped chicken
  • Chicken Pot Pie
  • Cheese Pizza
  • Spaghetti with homemade bread
  • Loaded Baked Potatoes
  • Pancakes or Waffles with Bacon or sausage
  • Teriyaki Chicken and Broccoli with Rice
  • Calzones
  • Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Toast
  • Fried Potatoes with Eggs and Bacon
  • French Toast
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Chicken Noodle Soup and Grilled Cheese
  • Homemade Mac n Cheese
  • French Onion Soup
  • Baked Potato Soup
  • Lentil and veggie Soup
  • Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce
  • Chicken Alfredo
  • "Naked"Chicken Parmesan, (unbreaded chicken)
  • White Pizza, pizza with Alfredo Sauce, Chicken, Onions and Cheese
  • Potato and Chicken Curry over Rice
  • Sausage and Biscuit Sandwhiches
  • Biscuits and Sausage Gravy with Scrambled Eggs
This weeks menu follows. And if there is a night where I don't feel like setting up the planned meal, I'll likely pick something quick from the list!

  • Auju Sandwiches with chips 
  • Chicken Parmesan with Pesto Pasta
  • Sundried Tomatos and Beef over French Bread
  • Toasted Olive Salad Sandwiches and fruit
  • Kale and Ham Quiche
  • Chicken Wings with Potato Wedges
  • Sweet and Sour Chicken over Rice
Here's to another great week in this New Year! 


Menu Plan Monday~ Episode 1

It's a new year and that means starting out fresh. That doesn't mean having to start out with complicated goals, however. If there is anything I don't want, it's complicated. The days ahead in this new year are going to be complicated and full enough as it is. If there is anything I do need more of, it would be organization! I think we can all agree that being more organized is an attainable goal.

With our crazy schedule, it's helpful to have a menu planned out ahead of time. Planning ahead helps to save time, keep things flowing smoothly, saves on budgeting for food, and gives everyone a heads-up. I've always tried to menu plan, but towards the end of the 2015 year, in October and November, I started to slack on it a bit because of therapies and unexpected appointments coming into play with the kids. I found myself caving and buying junk food that I would otherwise not purchase. It hit the budget hard, and ultimately wasn't helping my waste-line.

That said, there are some things that I like to keep on hand for when I forget to plan or don't have time. The following items are things that I always try to keep in my pantry and fridge in case something comes up. With these items I can usually throw something together fairly easily, and they are easy enough to restock.

  • Flour
  • Sugar/Brown Sugar
  • Butter/Margarine
  • Baking Powder/Soda
  • Eggs
  • Syrup
  • Chicken/Beef broth or Bullion cubes
  • Cheese
  • A variety or herbs and spices
  • Potatoes
  • Bacon
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Flash Frozen Chicken breasts or tenders
  • Rice
  • Beans or Lentils
  • Apples or bananas
  • Oatmeal
  • Peanut Butter
  • Salsa
  • Vinegar and Olive Oil
  • Jam/Jelly
  • Soy sauce
  • Pasta
  • Tomato Sauce of some sort 
  • Frozen mixed veggies, or broccoli

With the above list there are a plethora of ideas that can be made on the cheap and fairly quickly as well. I'll do a post specific to those items, but for now, those are things that I try to always have.

When doing my menu it always is planned for 7 days, but I usually end up not cooking at least one day. If we happen to be out of the house or home late, we will do leftovers or "whatever you can find".

That said, the week ahead has some recurring theme of Chinese food. My kids get on an ethnic kick sometimes, and will request several similar meals all in a row. I try to break it up with something different in between. They don't really mind too much having similar menu items for several days in a row, though. The meals tend to be generally a meat/protein, vegetable and starch. Here is what we have planned for the week ahead:


Here's to a fresh start!


Here's to you, 2015.

 This last year began in a blur. It was a blur of packing boxes, down-sizing, transitions, endings and new beginnings. It continued with finding my way through uncharted territory, territory I'd never experienced before, and hope to never have to repeat. My hopes is that I've learned my lessons from those experiences and that God will see fit not to have me repeat some of those things. I can be a tough case, though, so if I end up having to repeat things hopefully it will go 'round quicker the second time!

Without going into great detail, which I think is really unnecessary, this past year brought some things to a close like my time as a military spouse. And began some things like an influx of services for my Special Needs kids, public schooling for some, and new diagnoses.Some things you cannot foresee, and some things are better left that way. We may start on a certain path, and then God will bring you to a fork in the road. Stepping forward into the unknown can be the experience of a life time, if that's what you choose to make it. What could be a tragedy could also be a life altering experience for the better. It's all about perspective. For me, this past year began with change, and fear, and anxiety. But it ended with more peace than I could have thought possible, and I was surrounded by more love and friendship than I could have imagined possible. There will always be uncertainties, but again...will I choose fear, or will I choose to make it another learning experience? I choose to experience and learn. In that I know I will find peace.

Some things I learned:

  • I can do just about anything I set my mind to, and you can too
  • Help can come in unexpected ways and from unexpected places
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help
  • Everyone has a story, and human connection can happen when you step out and share especially when it's scary and you are not sure how someone will see you. Maybe someone needs to hear your story.
  • Brave makes a great personal theme song
  • It's ok to be gentle with yourself, especially after trauma
  • What you think might be your path, is only the "side-show" or the "commercial break". Your real path may be beyond your wildest dreams if you are open to it. It may also be something that challenges your natural self, and may be the opposite of what you think you may have been called to. You end up being the best at what you thought you would be the worst at. Surprise.
  • Don't put limits on what God can work out for you, and then prepare to be amazed
I don't know about you, but I've decided that my New Years Resolution is not anything terribly serious. Yes, to be more organized, but that's not even something that I have to pick to start at the beginning of the year. It's just something that has to happen, no matter what time of the year. What I want is to be more thankful for my blessings, more understanding in my trials, more peaceful in my day to day despite what the calendar or life throws at me. Those things are all about internal choices. Of course, I'd love to lose 10 lbs or eat healthier or take a vacation. But let's be realistic. Those things instill guilt when you see the scale number go up, or snack on that midnight chocolate. I want peace. My internal resolution is peace despite my circumstances.  And joy. Let's not forget joy. 
Here is to a peaceful and joyful New Year.


~~St Lucy's Day ~~


December 13th is Saint Lucy's Feast Day, and this will be my little families first time celebrating. It's much more commonly observed in European countries, but I'd always been curious to learn more. And so I did a bit of reading! There are all sorts of wonderful resources out there, and wonderful traditions. But I chose two. Because simple is good!

The first fun observance that we'll do is the the morning presentation of sweets by my crown carrying young lady (see picture at the bottom!), and the second is sprouting wheat. I love the idea of sprouting wheat. There is meaning and symbolism in it that I think is really beautiful, and it's a really fun activity for the kids at the same time.

The symbolism behind the growing wheat is that Life comes from Death.  

Once the wheat has grown and sprouted over the course of the week or so before Christmas, then it is presented at the manger scene on Christmas. 
Jesus came and brings new life. It's a beautiful thing. 

And the children get to enjoy watching the wheat grow! Simply sprinkle it over a shallow dish of soil, and spray it generously with water from a spray bottle once a day and watch it grow.
 For more on St Lucy's Feast Day, and a tutorial on how to make this St Lucy Crown, visit Catholic Sistas!


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