Friday, February 27, 2015

Waffles, Saints, and Baby Pictures {7QT}

--1--


I pinned this waffle recipe weeks ago and it immediately earned a spot on the permanent breakfast rotation - not too shabby, considering I refuse to actually cook anything for breakfast...  But it's SO easy - you make the batter the night before and just pop it in the waffle maker in the morning!  One recipe makes about 12 Belgian waffles, and we go through 8 as a family, which leaves 4 for leftovers the next day for me and the big kids.


Topped with a fried egg and bacon for Mardi Gras - YUM!
They're seriously SO good.  I've never been much of a waffle person but these honestly don't even need any toppings!  Waffle Wednesdays are now a thing at our house.

--2--


Are you ahead of the game and already thinking about Easter basket treats?  My friend Lindsey started an etsy shop this past fall with her awesome Blessings Blocks - the kids each have one of their own name saints and they adore them - Mary Claire's always lining them up so they can "go to Communion."



Her artwork is so beautiful - go check out Almond Rod Toys and order soon so you can get yours in time for Easter!  She has a beautiful Stations of the Cross set that I've got my eye on for the kids, and I know they're dying for more saints to add to our collection!  


One awesome thing about these is that they're so reasonably priced - I really wanted to start getting peg dolls for the kids years ago, but the beautiful ones are so expensive and I just can't justify the cost when there are always mouthy kids in our house who might scrape the paint off with their teeth...  So far these are indestructible - Mary Claire even colored all over one with pen and it wiped right off!



--3--

Winking brothers.  Love them!



--4--

Nearly everyone in the house is overdue for a hair cut...  Me most of all, considering the last time I got mine cut was before the twins were born.

But I knew Cecilia's could be taken care of really quickly - I caught her in a good mood and chopped off 4 or 5 inches so that it's not scraggly and tangled all the time anymore.  And it's ADORABLE!


Andrew hates it, but I reminded him that hair grows.  Cecilia alternates between not caring and ALSO hating it because she wants long hair like Rapunzel.

Next up...  The twins!!!  I just don't want to cut off those adorable baby curls.  But it's gotta happen, they've got such mullets.

--5--

This.


Apparently being the youngest of 5 makes you want to be around all the people all the time!


I'm really thankful that I can sometimes enlist their help in watching the baby while I get stuff done! And he ADORES them!

And that tongue in the first picture? Kills me. He's always sticking it out just a tiny bit and it's SO cute. And kind of gross, because John Paul and Cecilia like to make him lick their faces...

--6--


One last happy baby picture for you!  I had others I wanted to post but my camera decided to delete all the pictures I took of the twins' first time in the snow (WHAT???) so I've got a recovery program running to try to restore them.  So obnoxious.  But at least Peter's cute!

--7--

Did you read this week's posts?

Sunday's post was a photo dump with a WIWS appearance at the end

Michele from My Domestic Monastery guest-posted with an awesome Lenten sensory bin!

There's still time to enter the Veggie Tales Giveaway!

BAM! Baby was up to nurse so I'm linking up right on time with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum - go check out more Quick Takes!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Veggie Tales Noah's Ark: Review & Giveaway

The kids are on a serious Veggie Tales kick lately, which I'm 100% okay with because Veggie Tales is awesome.

We scored an advance copy of Veggie Tales Noah's Ark and previewed it yesterday.  As I expected, everybody loved it!


I don't think there's a child in all the world that doesn't know the story of Noah's Ark.  As Veggie Tales films always are, the movie was faithful to the main themes of the story, with obvious embellishments.



Like, you know, water slides and karaoke in the ark.  John Paul looked at me, eyes lit up, and said, "This must be the FUN Noah's Ark!!!"

"Do you really think they had Karaoke back then?"

"Yup.  Definitely."

So, you know, suspend your disbelief.


Wayne Brady and Jaci Velasquez (anyone else addicted to the WOW CDs back in the day?) are the voices of Shem and his wife, and the story is told from Shem's perspective.  He and his wife arrive back from their honeymoon to see that Noah (Pa Grape) has made a ginormous boat and that they're expected to live there instead of the adorable house they were planning on building.


They were entranced!  Elizabeth's favorite part was the pigs.  Because they were pink.  ("MOM!!!  Da pink pig is puyying da WAGON!!!")

Cecilia was very pleased that Mr. Hamster made his way back to Mrs. Hamster in the end.

Best line?  Noah: There's no giant squid in this story - come back for Job!

I laughed out loud :)

The music was decent, although none of the songs were particularly catchy (but that could be because it was only our first time watching it).  Very gospel-inspired, and the last song really reminded me of "A Star is Born" from Hercules.

My kids loved it, and I think your kids will too!  I've got a copy to give away for YOU - what a fun Easter basket treat that will be!  

You've got until the end of the day Monday to enter (US only, please) - I hope you win! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Lenten Sensory Bin {Guest Post}

Happy Monday!  I'm so excited to introduce you to Michele, who blogs at My Domestic Monastery.


Michele is a wife and mother of two beautiful girls, and a published author in addition to a blogger! Today she's sharing a Lenten Sensory Bin, which I guarantee your children will love and I also guarantee might terrify you a little bit!  The mess!!!  

Yes, there will be rice or pasta on the floor.  But your kids will adore it, and it may just become a regular activity in your house!


Thanks for having me, Rosie! Today I’m going to share with you how to make a simple Lenten sensory bin. This project is so simple that a preschooler or kindergarten could do it with minimal assistance!
A couple of years back, I made the above sensory bin (with rice dyed purple). Today’s project was a bit more of a hack, as I was out of purple food coloring. But my girls still had a lot of fun with it! 


1. Assemble your materials.

You will need: 

Vinegar
Food coloring (preferably purple!)
Your sensory material (dried rice or pasta works best)


2. Pour in your sensory material (pasta, rice, etc.) 

Enlist the help of the nearest small child in pouring your sensory material into a container. In the past, I’ve actually poured it into a plastic bag, added the food coloring and shaken it...and that worked even better!


3. Have your helper add the food coloring. 

How much you add will depend on how much pasta or rice you’re using.


4. Stir the food coloring or shake your plastic bag if you’ve gone with that method. 

Mix until the color is well dispersed! Add more food coloring, if needed.


5. Add a dash of vinegar. 

This helps the pasta/rice dry quicker! I’ve seen recipes that use hand sanitizer instead, but I have a baby who still mouths things and didn’t want to risk it.


6. Lay flat on wax or parchment paper to dry. 

If you can let it dry 24 hours, that's really best. I didn't let the purple rice dry long enough when I made it, and our hands were stained pretty badly when we tried to play!




7. Add to a sensory bin with some cups and spoons. 

Make sure the sensory bin is big enough to play in! That’ll help contain the mess. You may want to put a drop cloth down, too.


8. Enjoy! 

This is the first time that my girls have played with a sensory bin together...and they loved it! You definitely need to supervise if you have a baby/toddler playing, but it can be quite fun!


Thanks again for hosting, Rosie! For more inspiration, feel free to visit us over at http://www.mydomesticmonastery.com/

Thanks so much for the great idea and tutorial, Michele!  When I've done sensory bins in the past, the materials can last for a LONG time so you don't necessarily have to discard and then dye them again - you can keep it in another container for YEARS!  Once your child is beyond the point of mouthing everything, this is a great craft idea, and can also be a great lesson in cleaning up afterwards.

You can discuss with your children why you're making a purple sensory bin - purple is the color of liturgical vestments during Lent (and Advent), to signify the season of preparation.  During Jesus' passion, a purple robe was placed on him in order to mock him, since purple is the color of royalty.  

Looking for more craft ideas? There will be a new one posted every Monday during Lent to help you live the liturgical season with your children!  And they'll all be collected on this post for easy reference.

Come back tomorrow for a (non craft-related) giveaway!  



Sunday, February 22, 2015

Valentine's Day Miscellany & WIWS

I'm super behind on my photos, so I'm just going to unapologetically subject you to old Valentine's pictures and my outfit from last week.

I wasn't going to do ANYTHING for Valentine's Day because I was exhausted and I didn't think the kids would remember...  But then all of a sudden Cecilia came out of her room in a heart dress and they remembered.  So I got out the construction paper, cut a bunch of hearts, and let them glue them to cards.

  

Well, first John Paul had to work on his self-imposed project...  Copying the periodic table.

Just your everyday, average 5.5-year-old boy here...

Anyway, I got the things out for John Paul and Cecilia and thankfully the twins were quietly occupied somewhere else.  But then...  Their craft radar got turned on and they invaded!!!


And then I remembered that they're 2...  And might actually be able to participate?


They actually did surprisingly well!  There was NO attempted ingestion of glue sticks, and very little glue on the hands and NONE On the clothes!


Mary Claire has apparently been assigned yellow as a favorite color, since it hasn't been taken by anyone else.  For some reason she's totally okay with this.


Elizabeth worked very hard gluing several pink hearts to her pink card.


And John Paul remembered how we made pop-up cards last year, and proceeded to make them for some of the boys in his Atrium...


And ended up copying the phrase from the one conversation heart he got to eat this Valentine's Day.  So you know, random 4-year-old boy in his Catechesis of the Good Shepherd class...  "Only You."




And while I'm being random...  This.  Cecilia's drawing a princess.  John Paul's drawing "nanotechnology."


Yet again.  Him: Math.  Her: Princess.

I swear I do nothing to encourage these ridiculous gender stereotypes!  If it makes you feel any better, Cecilia's starting to be really interested in math, too!


And because I don't know if I'll ever post these WIWS pictures if I don't do it now...  Here's a really wonderful face from John Paul.


And what I wore, along with a blurry Elizabeth.  But really, John Paul's striped blazer, plaid pants, argyle sweater vest, and argyle socks take the cake.  I can't compete!

Linking up with Fine Linen & Purple for What I Wore Sunday - go feast on something tasty!

And I hope you'll come back tomorrow when Michele from My Domestic Monastery will be guest posting!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Living Lent with the 5-and-Under Crowd: Our Take(s)

Oh I know, you and the entire internet are aaaaall Lented out. I remember a few years ago when I was trying to figure out just how Lent is supposed to WORK when you're 2 years old, there was nothing on the internet to help a sleep-deprived mom out.  I also remember that I can't seem to recall from year to year what we've actually done with the kids so...  This is my lovely online scrapbook of what works for us, and what might not be the best idea...

--1--

Fasting:

John Paul suggested we fast from time outs.  I suggested maybe he fast from disobedience.  Neither of us is getting our way.  But here's some of what we're fasting from as a family:

Food: No meat, no sweets, no booze, no eating out

Screen fasts on Fridays (And we'll pray the Stations of the Cross instead - either with this book or this one) - this is actually not a big deal because the kids only watch TV when I'm making dinner, and on Fridays we'll be going to our parish soup supper...

No TV during the week that isn't specifically religious (CCC movies & Veggie Tales only) - Cecilia FREAKED out at John Paul when she thought he was going to turn on Wild Kratts when he was actually browsing the Veggie Tales movies this afternoon...  So it looks like I don't need help enforcing this fast, and both of the older kids find it completely reasonable, which I think is adorable because I really expected John Paul to fight it!

--2--

Prayer:

My mom pointed out to me today that it looks terrible that Jesus is off to the side and Mary is totally central! We still haven't reset our oratory on the other side of the room, which is where Jesus usually resides - we'll get there!
We've got our prayer chain up to remind us of our special intention for each day - John Paul is great about reading it first thing in the morning and reminding us throughout the day.

None of their intentions this year are as good as the ones like this from last year, sadly...

I also just ordered a thousand craft sticks (no actually, a thousand! But we'll use them for other things too) to let the kids draw a stick with a different prayer written on it every night during our evening prayers - they've gotten into a routine of the exact same prayers every night and I'd like to shake that up!

I started reading this book last year in an attempt at spiritual reading, but then John Paul got his hands on it and it disappeared, so I never finished it...  This year he and I are reading it together, and the reflections so far have been perfectly appropriate for a "I've had 5 kids in 5 years so my brain doesn't really work anymore" mom like me and a "I'm so ridiculously smart I could probably graduate college next year" kid.

--3--

Almsgiving:

I'm at a loss for this one - I know some people do rice bowls and pick a charity to donate to, but we never have cash on hand...  Sweet, sweet John Paul listened carefully to the homily at Mass the Sunday before Last and got a pledge envelope, filled it out, took it home, put his prized $2 bill (a Christmas present) inside, and donated that to our annual Bishop's Lenten Appeal.  The other kids don't really understand money at all, so I'm trying to figure out what will be meaningful for them.

--4--

Activities:


3-year-old John Paul - he was just learning how to write and was trying to write "Dear Jesus, Jesus is dying on the cross for me" but it ended up "Dear Jesus, Jesus is dy IO")
They've been coloring boxes from this calendar (I really like that the Ember days are on there, as well as specific feasts), and we've got more activities planned that I'm hoping will help me be more mindful of how we can relate things to scripture.  Not in a "do all the things" sense but in a "I'm more likely to actually pay attention to today's readings if I have something for the kids to do that's related" sense.



I think the ONE scripture-based craft we did all last year was making apple prints and relating it to Adam & Eve and the serpent.



Tons of great book recommendations here and here - there's not a ton out there so those book lists are helpful for me!

I have to find our copies of The Donkey that No One Could Ride and The Tale of Three Trees - the kids adore them and they're perfect for Lent & Easter.

--5--

Food:

We'll be making pretzels again this year, although I've done it from a mix the past couple of years and that seems silly when I know it's not really that hard...  Do you have a recipe you like?





Passion Pita Pizzas - we made these two years ago on Good Friday and the kids still talk about how the stripes on the pita bread are like the stripes on Jesus' back (which can get awkward when there's company over...).  They assume we're making them again this year, so we probably will!





We also made an edible "crown of thorns" (that just looked like a lump...) with my favorite focaccia recipe and pretzels last year:



These Easter Story Cookies are a perfect activity for that quiet time on Holy Saturday when you don't quite know *what* to do - last year we made them but didn't have any nuts, so I used some leftover pretzels and they actually tasted amazing!

--6--

Misses:



We tried for two years to do a bean jar - put a bean in every time you make a sacrifice.  And both years the kids were SO excited about it for the first week or so, and then stopped caring and we just ended up having a jar of beans that mysteriously kept getting emptied out onto the floor...

So we're trying a crown of thorns this year (with this grapevine wreath), and I'm not entirely sure it'll work in terms of getting the kids to make sacrifices, but at least it *feels* very Lenten ;)

--7--

What works for YOU with really young kids in the house?  I feel like the temptation to do all the things is so real, but so is the temptation to give myself a pass because hey, life is hard enough already!

Linking up with Kelly for 7 Quick Takes - check out more posts!

Amazon links are affiliate links - thanks for funding our Easter treats this year!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Meatless Meal: Slow Cooker Black Beans & Rice

I have a confession to make:

Up until about a year ago, I never cooked dried beans.

And when I wanted Mexican-style or Spanish-style rice?  

I made Rice-a-Roni.

It's ridiculous, considering how inexpensive plain rice is, but I was addicted to the ease of that little seasoning packet...  And I never planned well enough in advance to remember to soak dried beans the night before, and then even when I did they'd always end up mushy!

Well.  We bought a ginormous bag of rice from Costco a while back, and I've been trying to use it up which means NO MORE Rice-a-Roni.  And you know what?  I don't miss it.  This rice is SUPER easy to make, and topped with slow cooker black beans, it makes a wonderfully filling meatless meal!  


I love these beans because I can get them started in the morning and not have to worry about prepping them close to dinner time!  And my 5-year-old loves being in charge of pouring the ingredients in the slow cooker :)


Slow Cooker Black Beans:

2 cups (one pound) dried black beans
1 onion
5 cloves garlic
2 tbsp butter or oil
6 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 tsp cumin
Optional: 1-2 bell peppers, chopped and/or one 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

1. Mince onion & garlic (and pepper if you like) and sautee in butter/oil until soft.  Add cumin and stir 1 minute.
2.  Add dried beans (no need to soak!) to slow cooker.  Cover with onion mixture and broth.  Stir.
You can replace one cup of broth with one can of tomatoes
3.  Cook on high for 5-6 hours.

Is that not the easiest recipe ever?  And they turn out perfect every time - no more mushy beans!


Easy Salsa Rice

2 cups (one pound) white rice
1/2 onion
2 tbsp butter or oil
3.5 cups chicken broth
.5 cups salsa

1.  Mince onion and sautee in butter/oil over medium heat until soft.
2.  Rinse rice in mesh colander until water runs clear.
3.  Add rice to onion and stir 2-3 minutes.
4.  Add broth & salsa, stir, and bring to a boil.
5.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes until cooked through.

Serve with sour cream, guacamole, quesadillas, or any of your favorite accompaniments!

Need more meatless meals? Here are 25 more ideas!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Crafts for Lent: The Reluctant Crafter's Guide

Let me preface this by saying that this is not a crafts blog.  And yet here I am trying to show you how to be crafty?

Ah, there's a catch.  And it might seem weird...

My kids, like all other kids, adore crafts.  And they almost never get to do anything beyond whatever they can manage with our stash of construction paper, tape, and colored pencils.  We let the twins play with play dough the other day and I'm pretty sure they would have played for hours if I hadn't cut their time short.

See, the problem is (and I know I can't be the only one with this problem!), with the crafts comes the MESS.  The stained clothes, paint in the hair, play dough on the rug, glue on the fingers kind of mess that I just can't stand.  Not because I particularly care about the mess, but because I start getting all sorts of anxious and impatient when things start to stray a little bit from the desired outcome, because I can't stand not being in control.

And in thinking and praying about what my Lenten penances will be this year, I came to the conclusion that maybe the best way to show my kids I love them, practice patience, and mortify myself just a little bit would be...  To let them do the crafts they love.  And to lead them through crafts that might actually relate to this liturgical season.



I've got some guest posts lined up from ladies with great ideas - I'm so excited to be drawing on their expertise and I'd love it if you'd join me!

Here's a sensory bin you could create, free printable coloring book, a lacing cross tutorial, a candlelit prayer card, and an alleluia banner to prepare for Easter.

Week 1:

Even though Lent hasn't begun yet, we made our prayer chain today because we had extra adults to help out.  This is the easiest and most effective observance of Lent that I've found with the kids over the years - it helps focus our nightly prayer, and serves as a visual reminder of just how long we have until Easter.

What you need:

7 sheets of construction paper (6 purple and 1 pink), cut into 7 strips each (you'll end up with a few extras)
Writing tools
Stapler or tape
Prayer intentions!


I started out by having the kids write down their prayer intentions.  This very quickly turned into John Paul whining about having to write...


Cecilia wrote DAD and MOM on her own...  And then repeated by writing them again, since it was either those words or CAT.  

And the pink links are for Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent!


We stapled them into loops (do you really need instructions?  I'm pretty sure you know how to do this!)...


And eventually Dad took over writing the intentions, because coming up with 46 of them really is hard!


Cecilia's multiple "MOM" and "DAD" intentions apparently didn't make the cut...


And now it's taped to our mantle, ready for use with nightly prayers!

Want to join in the fun (or "fun")?  I've got a Pinterest board with ideas here - I know we'll be using the calendar here for the big kids, and you can find printables for a prayer chain here.  You can find lots of other ideas at Equipping Catholic Families, Campfires and Cleats, and Two Os + more.  And tons of other Lenten posts at Blessed is She this week!

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