Thursday, June 29, 2017

Kids' chores and schoolwork during the Summer

Our Summer schedule is crazy busy, especially since I have decided to take on tutoring clients in the morning at home as well as tutoring in the afternoons like normal. This is a blessing on the money front, but doesn't allow me that time to clean or relax. It is good to be busy though.

Since I don't have a lot of time to clean and maintain the house, I have implemented a new chore system with the kiddos. (Remember they are 10, 7 and 5). They have their assigned chores per day, then they have to do zone work daily. I have them focus on the living room and dining room. We switch it up each week.

If they complete all of their chores each day, then they can earn tickets that they can then spend on Sunday in "Mom and Dad's store." I have different items priced out of tickets that they can choose from. So far in June it is working out pretty well!! My house is cleaner and the kids are happy with the system, so it is a win, win!

I also expect for my children to do something academic over the Summer. The kids have Summer schoolbooks to work through each day (Monday through Friday). They are expected to do 2 lessons a day, especially because there are days that we may miss (like 4th of July). They all seem to like their workbooks and they don't normally fuss about having to do them. In fact, if Ben was allowed he would do every page of his workbook because he loves doing it. The kids also are expected to read at least 15 minutes every day for their Summer Reading Program pledge.

Now granted there are days that these items might not get completely done but that is the way that Summer is. I am happy if they are done most days. On days we are gone all day or have a special thing planned then I am not upset because I know that the next day it won't take that long to get everything back to normal since we have a schedule.

What about you? Do you do chore schedules for the Summer?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Mini Mozzarella Stuffed Italian Meatloaves (new recipe #9 of 2017)

One of the things that I would like to get done in 2017 is to try to expand our menu items. I have decided to share the recipes that I try so that maybe I can help a few of you out with some new menu ideas. I know that I get inspiration from other bloggers so maybe I can help.

I was doing really well with this in January and the beginning of February. In April, I made a yummy tuna avocado salad. In May I made a yummy monkey salad.

This month, I made a came across a yummy sounding low-carb recipe and decided to give it a try.

I made mini mozzarella stuffed Italian meatloaves from "Joy Filled Eats." 

They turned out so good!! EVERYONE loved them and they were none the wiser that they were eating zucchini. The kids started calling them cheese stuffed meatballs. 

I served them with fresh steamed green beans and sliced tomatoes. Perfect for a lighter summery meal.

*In the interest of full disclosure, I do need to say that I made these 2 different times. The first time, they got overcooked and half of the mixture burnt onto my muffin pans. This time, I cooked them for 25 minutes instead of the 35 that was called for in the recipe and they came out perfect from my oven!

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Pork Chop and Scalloped Potato Bake
Tex-Mex Tilapia
Baked Chicken Parmesan
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins 
Pizza Grilled Cheese
Southwestern Style Egg Scramble
Tuna Avocado Salad
Monkey Salad

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Friends of the Library Book Warehouse

Ever since we moved to our current city, I have seen signs at the library for their "Friends of the Library Used Book Warehouse." I have never been though. That changed a few weeks ago, when I decided to take my mom out their to explore it. My mom loves to go to the half-priced book store which is over an hour away, so figured let's see what this is all about.

Well, what it was all about was a warehouse stuffed with thousands of used books, magazine, dvds, etc. for sale. These were library books that they had taken out of circulation, books that were donated by the general public or businesses. They had a ton! The only ask for a donation of $5 per grocery bag that you buy or a donation of your choice if you buy less. Talk about a bargain! And each child under the age of 18 gets a free book at each visit! The money that they make goes back into the library program to pay for things like the Summer Reading program materials, community events, etc.  

Well, our first visit netted my mom 20 books (all hardcover). I got a bag of books as well--the kids got 4 books apiece plus a free book and I got 7 hardback books that were in like new condition.

I then decided that we had to take Bill back so he could see this treasure that we had found.

Well, he came out of there with a ton of books that he wanted and I found 2 more books and the kids found some great books as well.

It truly is a treasure chest waiting to be discovered. They are only open from the beginning of June to Halloween, so we will definitely be making more trips there to donate books and to pick up some new treasures to read.

Do you have a similar place near you?
Do you like shopping the used book store?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Made it to Friday....

This week has been a blur.... crashing into bed exhausted every night and waking up running when my feet hit the floor in the morning. It has just been a crazy busy week. But I made it to Friday! HOORAY!

Some of the highlights of this week....

My dear husband has worked many, many hours (almost double his normal schedule) as the local little league has their tournaments and Bill has to cover every single game per his editor's orders. He is responsible for 16-18 feature stories this week alone! There was one night where he didn't get home until close to 1AM and then had to be back to work at 6:30AM to do it all over again. He has had a really rough week (actually the last few months) and is trying to send out resumes  to find something different but it is hard.

So I have been doing all the kid stuff and running my tutoring business, and trying to keep the house clean as our landlord has decided that all his houses need an inspection that is supposed to happen sometime this week or next. Just another layer of stress.

The kids are picking up on the stress level, and so they have been acting out. Knitpicking each other and just not listening and getting into trouble more. I actually cancelled a library trip because they couldn't stop fighting and I had just had enough.

We have had extra doctor appointments this week. Ben had to go to the dentist to have his Kindergarten admission papers filled out. He screamed and cried each time I brought it up. Bill actually took him as I was tutoring, and said they almost had to send him to a specialist because he refused to let them look at his teeth. Finally, they had the dentist come in and in a last ditch effort, the dentist was able to get him to open his mouth and get the exam done. Then, we had to take Jacob in for a weight check for his ADHD medications.

Add in Vacation Bible School this week in the evenings and our evening schedules have been off. Typically we eat dinner around 6, well VBS is at 6 so we have to eat at 5. Just changes things up.

Thankfully, I have been able to get in a few much needed walks/catch-ups with a good friend as her daughters are in VBS as well and since Bill has been working. We walked 3.26 miles on Monday, 4.75 miles on Wednesday, and 1.94 mile hike (mostly uphill) yesterday. It felt good to get out and walk and we totally get each other and understand each other so it was good for the soul.

Today, I decided to wait until tonight to go to the grocery store while the kids are at VBS. It is raining pretty heavily right now at the moment, so seems like a good choice. I am also taking a moment to just sit and write this up. Now I need to go get lunch and figure out what I need from the grocery store tonight.

             I hope everyone has a wonderful Friday!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

So busy

Sorry for the lack of posting. I am so busy. This week my to do list is 75,000,000 miles long and I am just a little overwhelmed. So I will be taking a break from the blog this week. Hopefully, will be back by the weekend. We shall see. I hope everyone has a wonderful week! See you soon!

Friday, June 16, 2017

This week....

Today's posting is going to be kind of random. I have had a beyond busy week, so feel like a bit of randomness is due....

So, here goes....

This week...

HAS BEEN HOT!!! Each day the heat index has been close to 100. On Tuesday it was actually closer to 105 degrees. It has also been very humid so we have been kind of stuck inside. Thank goodness for air conditioners.


Our upstairs does not have a/c due to the way the heating system is in our house. Well, the last 2 summers we have had window units in Rebecca's room and in our room with a fan blowing air into the boys' room. Well, Sunday and Monday the heat in their room was unbearable so we decided to take the plunge and get a window unit for their room. Bill went to Walmart to get one and before tax it was $112. I told him we would make it work in our budget. Well, I logged on to our bank account and I had just received a payment from Google for $112. Only took me over 7 year of blogging to make any money but it works for me!

WE WENT TO THE LIBRARY!...the kids love the library and we went again this week.

WE DEALT WITH HAVING AN ACCUSED MURDERER ON THE LOOSE...On Sunday, a 20 year old was found shot to death in a small town near here (about 15 minutes away). In what is a tragic situation, a warrant was issued for his cousin who police believe killed him. He was on the run and there was good reason to believe that he was hiding in some of the woods in our county. This man apparently has some mental health issues. It made for a few stressful days. Thankfully, the man turned himself in on Wednesday and we can breathe a sigh of relief. My hubby likes to go running on the paths in our area, and these were the same areas that law enforcement was searching. On Monday he went out to run and he didn't get very far before he had a hamstring pull, which mysteriously felt fine when he came home. We both believe that that was God's way of saying you don't need to run that way...maybe the accused was in that area. (This would be the second time that he or I have had a sign when police were searching for an accused murderer in our area.)


I made meatball subs one night for dinner. When I went to the grocery store last Friday they were out of slider rolls that I normally use. So I picked up hotdog buns to use instead. Well, when I pulled them out of the oven, Ben was confused because he said that only hotdogs belong on hot dog buns. LOL

TONIGHT WE ARE GOING TO WATCH THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE..... it came out on dvd this week, so I picked it up to watch with the kids. Hopefully, it will be better than the original Lego movie which I did not care for!

I think that is enough for now. Time for me to go put pizzas in the oven. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Drunk Barbie cake

On Saturday we celebrated my sister's 21st birthday. I can't believe she is 21-- that makes me feel old. I was a high school junior taking a chemistry final the day that she was born!

My sister and Ben

Anyhow, we went out to my parents' house on Saturday evening for a birthday cookout. I have come to be the go to person for birthday cakes in our family and there was no exception for my sister's birthday.

I always ask if there is something specific they would like on their cake and the flavor of cake they would like. I make a non-dairy from scratch cake in chocolate and vanilla (as if my nephew is there, he cannot have dairy).

Well, last weekend in a kind of joking manner, Mary asked if I could make her a chocolate "drunk Barbie" cake. Of course I said yes, as I love a challenge.

Well, here is the end result....

The Drunk Barbie cake

I think it turned out really cute. I got the Barbie at Walmart (on a related note do you know how hard it is to find a red-headed Barbie that is not Ariel (the Little Mermaid!)). The toilet and wine bottles I ordered off of Amazon. The throw up is nerds candy.

She LOVED her cake and that is what matters the most!

Yes, she had to blow out 21 candles!

The kids also loved the cake, even though I had to explain what being drunk was about and why it was a drunk Barbie cake! LOL

My sister with her nieces and nephews (missing one nephew).

We had a fun time at the birthday party! The weather was perfect and everyone had a blast. It was a great way to spend a Summer evening.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

We saw some animals....

On Thursday I took the kids to a summer reading program presentation put on by our library. This week's presentation featured The Columbus Zoo and some of their animals.

We got there about 5 minutes before it was scheduled to start and the place was packed!

The kids enjoyed themselves. They loved learning about the different animals.

They got to see a joey....

a bearcat (which we learned smells like buttered popcorn)...

a penguin....

a 3 banded armadillo, a screech owl, a baby spotted cheetah and a baby bobcat. All the animals were really cute! Ben said that his favorite was the screech owl.

Overall, the kids had fun. I was embarrassed though as the zoologist kept having to stop her presentation to ask the audience to quiet down. It wasn't just the kids either. There were adults talking to one another even though the zoologist asked at the beginning that everyone be quiet as the noise level was not good for the animals. Sad to see the example that adults are showing their kids. I had this same problem with these programs last year....

We left the program before they did door prizes (I told the kids I would take them to Dollar Tree instead). As we were leaving, the zoologist had the armadillo for the kids to touch. She thanked my kids for being one of the few who were listening and not talking. She said she noticed their behavior and was proud of them! I was proud of them too, especially since they were sitting on the floor near the presentation and I was standing in the back not near them.

I am not sure if we will go to anymore of the programs due to the continued lack of respect being shown by the audiences. It really takes away from the experience. At least I know that my kiddos are well behaved!

Well, with that I should be off. I have to decorate a birthday cake for my sister's 21st birthday. She has requested a "drunk Barbie" cake, so we shall see what I can come up with. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Ye Old Mill and Velvet Ice Cream

On Tuesday, we found ourselves with a free afternoon for a variety of reasons. The weather was nice (high of 70 and the sun kept coming out from behind the clouds!). We decided to take advantage of it and have a family afternoon. We packed the kids up and headed to Utica to visit the Ye Old Mill and Velvet Ice Cream. We typically go down during the weekend of Memorial Day, but this year we didn't get to.

We love the ambiance of the mill and the grounds and of course the taste of the ice cream.

When we arrived, the first thing we saw was a woman who was offering carriage rides. Rebecca wanted to ride so I paid for her and I and we had a fun little jaunt around the grounds.

After that, we met back up with Bill and the boys and decided to head in to get ice cream!

I enjoyed a summer peach ice cream cone. Bill had a chocolate peanut butter cup cone. Rebecca had a campfire smores cone. Jacob had a moose tracks cone. Benjamin had a birthday cake ice cream cone.

We took our ice cream outside to eat by the ponds so that we could watch the ducks. As soon as we sat down on a bench, these 2 black ducks starting walking over towards us (probably wanting a free snack!). I started calling them the mafia ducks. All told we saw 14 ducks while we were eating our ice cream.

After we enjoyed our treat, we headed over to the nature trail to explore. The trail takes you out to the river for a beautiful view.

After coming back, we let the kids pet the horse, goat, and sheep they had in their petting zoo part. We also let them play on the playground!

We also took a few minutes to check out the old water wheel and their little museum before heading home. When we saw the old sifters, Jacob asked what they were and Bill told him that was where they put bad children back in the old days! LOL

Overall, it was a fun and tasty afternoon.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Bliss Beauty Eucalyptus Essential Oil

I was recently contacted to see if I would like to try out a bottle of Bliss Beauty Organic Essential Oils. I have dabbed in essential oils in the past-- we have used thieves essential oil during the winter to fight colds with some success. We have tried vetiver and cedarwood with some success on Jacob to help his ADHD symptoms, and we have used tea tree oil in shampoo as a lice repellent (after dealing with lice 2 years ago). After doing some research on Bliss Beauty Essential Oils, I accepted as they are 100% pure, natural and organic and they are USDA certified.

I chose to try the Bliss Beauty Organic Eucalyptus Oil. I chose this because it can be used as a cleaner among many other uses! Also, since it is 100& natural, I could make up a natural cleaner with the Bliss Eucalyptus Oil that would be safe for my kiddos to use while helping with their Summer cleaning chores.

I was super excited to receive my oil and try it. The first thing that I did was open it up and smell it! It smells so good! (I have smelled oils in the past that to some people smell great, and I cannot stand the smell!). The fragrance is not overpowering and is just right. It smells clean and refreshing!

Then I decided to make up cleaner bottles for the kids. I added 2 drops of oil to hot water in their bottles so that they have a natural cleaner to use for their chores (like cleaning the sink, doorknobs, etc.). I love that I can provide them a safe way to clean and a way that smells great. And honestly the kids are excited to have a spray bottle of their own to clean with!

The only downside I found was that the oil came out of the top of the bottle fast. The first time I used the bottle I wasn't ready for it to drip out so fast. But now I know so it is not an issue.

Overall, I am extremely happy with the Bliss Beauty Organic Eucalyptus Essential Oil. I can't wait to try out some of the other Bliss Beauty Essential Oils!

DISCLAIMER::: I was provided with a free bottle of essential oil from Bliss Beauty in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

2019 Christmas Parade

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