We made these super last minute last year. I hastily posted them anyways, but here’s an updated repost in a semi timely manner. We are remaking new ones this weekend. They are so simple, fun, and free (or inexpensive depending on the status of your children’s paint stockpile).
Last year I got boxes from the kitchen at my office. They stocked up on sweets at Costco so I grabbed the boxes before they hit the recycling bin. This year we’ve had a fair amount of deliveries, shipments, and moves so there seems to be cardboard everywhere. We just grabbed some. Continue reading Cardboard Halloween Gravestones→
***WARNING. THIS IS AN EMOTIONAL AND PERSONAL POST. I AM NOT BAD-MOUTHING OR BLAMING ANYONE. JUST SHARING WHAT I’VE BEEN GOING THROUGH.***
I’m baaaa-aaaack! I know I’ve been entirely MIA for the longest time. I attempted a couple times to come back or repurpose other things (okay thing) I have written to keep myself relevant but I simply couldn’t keep up. Why? Well because Chaos complete and utter Chaos (yes, with a capital C).
My dad came home from the hospital in April. He had had a stroke in February. My mom and I were trying to make sure we visited him everyday, kept up with the social worker and the therapists, made sure the bills coming in were paid, did his laundry and brought it back on time for him to have clean clothes, and make plans for when he came home. We thought we were overwhelmed. Then he came home.
That man has always been mean and needy, but add a stroke, a few brain injuries, the inability to bear weight, and incontinence, and I guess anyone would be meaner and needier. But I’ve worked in health care, memory care, etc before in the past and never dealt with someone quite like this. But my mom and I were making it work. At least we had each other. If I had to take the kids somewhere, she watched him. If she had to go to a meeting, I watched him. And when we got frustrated, we could commiserate.
Then she got sick.
After a week or two of feeling absolutely horrible, she finally agreed to get blood work done. That night the phone rang. It was the lab technician saying GO TO THE ER RIGHT NOW! I took her and she was immediately rushed to another hospital with an oncology ICU. I told my brother and drove into town that night.
So I spent a lot of time trying to visit her in the hospital and still rush home to take care of my father. (There was one weekend that they were both in separate hospitals – he was diagnosed with a 100% blocked LAD, as well as 5 other blocked branches, and a 70% long block in his right coronary artery.) I wish I had had more time to spend with her in the hospital before she got too sick.
We received a call that she was in remission and we were all so excited. Even though she had been unresponsive for a couple weeks, she was in remission!!! But then we found out about several other viruses she had contracted due to the chemo weakening her immune system. These were viruses that could not be treated. And the doctors said it was time for us to make the call to pull life support. That was the hardest night of my life. It was horrible. But I am trying not to remember her like that.
After that, there was still the funeral to plan. And my dad’s 24 care to attend to. He didn’t like me to be on the computer and had a hard time letting me sit down with the kids at the table 20 feet away as opposed to hovering over him the whole time. I do love my dad, but he called the police on me one time for picking my daughter up after school. And told me I have to wait until my brother comes back for Christmas to have a shower. So stressed and overwhelmed ALMOST begin to describe how I felt.
It felt like not only did I abandon my home, my blog, and my dreams, but it felt like I abandoned and failed my kids and fucked up their summers (and part of their school year) if not more.
I just moved my father into a BEAUTIFUL skilled nursing facility. So now I can at least spend time with the kids, sleep during the night, and get life back on track. I’m still being called to go to the nursing home on a daily basis, but I think soon that will settle a bit too…let’s hope.
Regardless, I’m here now. And YOU are stuck with me! 🙂
(Please, please be stuck with me!)
(p.s. my love and interest in health and sharing that health has grown due to my experiences and I am going to be working on a new professional blog. It’s not ready yet, but if you want a sneak peak you can check out the About Me and my first post about my September Favoriteshere and here. Keep checking back to both sites as some big changes will be coming soon!)
So I know I haven’t been around much lately. It’s been a rough few weeks. There have been a lot of serious illnesses and ailments in my family. (Not the kids – thank goodness!) But it has meant a lot of running around from one hospital to another, from one doctor to another, from one obligation to another. We end up eating on the road or coming home exhausted and don’t feel like cooking.
When my dad first had his stroke, I swore that I would do everything in my power to live the healthiest lifestyle possible. Maybe we can’t always control what happens to us (although our lifestyle does have the ability to either mitigate or increase risk factors), but we can potentially improve our ability to rehab. I quickly got overwhelmed and that resolution slipped as quickly as I had made it, but I know intellectually that that is when you need to take care of yourself even more.
Needless to say, I’m going for super quick, super easy, kid friendly meals I can throw together and clean up quickly.
Enter: Good Ol’ Fashion Zoodles! Man we love zoodles!
2 zucchini and 2 yellow squash
Vegan marinara sauce
Roasted cherry tomatoes (**we tell you how I do this below, but I usually have them ready ahead of time)
SPIRALIZER (I’ve heard people say they use a vegetable peeler in place of a spiralizer, but I have not tried)
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
Insert the zucchini into the spiralizer and turn. It works best if you apply some pressure, but not too much. The kids love to help turn the crank and watch the curly-Qs come out.
Catch the noodles on a cookie sheet or bowl. Then watch the kids fight over who gets to eat the core of the zucchini/squash that comes through.
You can stop here and eat them raw if you would like. Or if you would like to sweat them out in the oven, place the cookie sheet with all of the zoodles in the oven for 20 minutes on 200.
Top with the marinara sauce and roasted tomatoes.
And enjoy! (Don’t forget to marvel at how awesome it is to see kids shoveling veggies into their adorable little faces!)
Now for the Roasted Tomatoes:
My kids don’t like to eat tomatoes. I’ve finally gotten my daughter to the point that she will eat them thinly sliced on a sandwich/wrap/or even taco. I don’t know why so many people don’t like tomatoes. I find them cool and refreshing. Anyways, I discovered that my kids will eat them roasted, plus they are so good in so many recipes this way. So I get a bunch of cherry tomatoes, save some for wraps and roast the rest to be used throughout the week.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Half or even quarter the tomatoes if they are bigger. Place them on a cookie sheet and drizzle a bit of olive oil on them.
Put them in the oven for about 15 minutes on 400. They are so delish when they are done!
There are so many reasons to add a meatless meal night to your usual meal plan. It can have benefits for the environment, your health, the animals, and even your budget! I don’t want to be all preachy preachy so if you are interested in reading about Meatless Monday in more detail you can check their website out and more in depth reasons to start Meatless Monday here.
Okay, so yeah, you’re a knowledgeable mum. You’ve probably heard about Meatless Mondays about a zillion times by now. But “GIVE ME A HEALTHY RECIPE THAT THE KIDS WILL ACTUALLY EAT!” Hold on! Don’t freak out. I got you on this one. I have a kid-friendly, meat-free recipe that is so easy to throw together. Hold onto your hats! You wouldn’t even believe how good this next one is.
Portobello Cheesesteaks are so easy to make! And they seem to be universally accepted. My kids love them. And I have made them for meat eaters before who quite enjoyed them and still ask for more. Couple that with the fact that they are super easy to make and I consider them to be a huge win. Here’s how I make them.
Portobello Mushrooms – I use for for our family of 3.
Green pepper (optional)
A1 Sauce (or other steak sauce)
Hot dog buns or rolls
Olive oil (optional)
What I Do:
Wipe the portobello caps, remove the stems, and scrape the gills out. Slice the peppers into strips and marinate in the steak sauce. Set it aside. If you have time to let it sit over night even, the portobello will soak up more and more of the flavor in direct relation to the amount of time it is in the sauce.
Slice the peppers and onions into strips. Saute on the stove on medium or medium-low with a bit of olive oil or water.
After 10 minutes (or to desired tenderness), turn the heat up to medium and add the mushrooms and A1 sauce. Cover.
Toast the buns in the toaster or oven.
After about 5 minutes, the mushroom/onion/pepper mix should be ready. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the mixture into the buns. Serve with whatever sides you have available.
Be prepared to make more and more because everyone will want seconds!
So I gained 10 pounds in the past month. Because that’s what I do when I am stressed and completely ignoring my own needs. I end up just grabbing junky food that I really don’t want or need and eating it…and eating more of it…and eating more of it.
We all have our own ways of manifesting stress when we don’t slow down. I’m a stress eater and I get migraines and tension headaches (yes, I suffer from both) that can last for weeks. Maybe you don’t eat when your stressed and lose weight. Maybe you don’t sleep well when you are stressed out and then feel like you are walking around in a brain fog.
Whatever it is, however you manifest stress, it’s time for us to look after ourselves. I know it feels like there’s no way to take time for yourself. It seems like that’s the last thing you need to be doing sometimes when you are being pulled in all different directions. And it would be great to be able to go to the gym, sometimes it seems like it would be a great feat to even go for a walk around the block because you are needed inside. (If you can go for a walk around the block I highly recommend it! If you have kids that don’t want to go try suggesting an Alphabet Scavenger Hunt or walk a neighbor’s dog.)
If not, then here, Caregiver, are 7 ways to take care of yourself with only 5 minutes and without ever having to even leave the house.
Here they are. Make sure your share your easy ways to de-stress if you have more to add to the list! I know I need it and hopefully we can help each other as well as other super stressed parents and caregivers.
I want to mention that I don’t consume just to consume. I would never buy or recommend a product that hasn’t actually improved our lives in one way or another. So these items are really ones that I can truly say have made a difference.
Prepworks by Progressive Stainless Steel Herb Ball I love this little strainer ball. I ordered it when I was looking for a way to use loose leaf tea. I looked through a bunch of different products and this is the one I finally settled on. I didn’t realize how big it was, but now love the size because I can use it to make pitchers of iced tea all summer long. It just clips right on the side of a pitcher, so you can poor in the hot water, let it steep, and then cool it down. Add some fruit and you have the perfect pitcher of iced tea!
Gear Beast Running Belt My car got hit on the side of the road and was in the shop for a couple months. During that time, I figured out that our new place is only a couple of miles or so from the kids’ schools. So I used it as an excuse to start running again. I would run to the school and then walk back with the kids. But I was running WITH MY PURSE! It was crazy, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t be prepared. Finally, I ordered this running belt and while it looks small, I am able to fit my phone, ID, keys, and a snack in it. So I am so prepared!
Thug Kitchen Cookbook I was given this cookbook by my brother and sister-in-law-to-be (that’s a lot of dashes). And I absolutely love it! I have cooked a number of meals out of it and I keep it propped up on my counter. I love the food. It is great and my new go-to. It is also amazing kitchen art. It’s so cool and a good reminder to “eat like you give a f*ck.”
Zoob Racers I work full time from home and my son only goes to Kindergarten until 11:40 (plus I take care of my dad in the afternoons and evenings). So sometimes I need my son to be able to entertain himself. I do print out worksheets, put out craft projects, books, flash cards, etc, but sometimes a toy that he is able to play with by himself is a huge help. Plus I think that while I love to play with my kids, sometimes it is good for them to learn how to entertain themselves. Anyway, my mom gave my son these Zoob Racers for his birthday and they fit the bill perfectly. They are easy enough for him to do on his own (he’s 6) and he can either follow the instruction booklet or use his own creativity.
My DIY Lattes So this is not a product, but it has revolutionized my mornings. I cannot keep spending money or other resources on picking up my Caramel Soy Lattes. My mom had instant coffee packets in her cupboard that she did not like and wasn’t going to use. So she let me have them. I decided to attempt to make my own version of a latte. I used the coffee packets (I know nothing about coffee, please let me know in the comments what kind of coffee you recommend), almond milk, and coconut sugar. I use about equal parts coffee and almond milk, whisking the almond milk on the stove to make it bubbly. I sweetened the coffee with the coconut sugar and then added the milk to it. I’ve started making them in mason jars. It fits just perfectly.
You can watch me babble about them here if you would like:
What products have helped change your life recently?
***Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in the post. Should you use them, it will be at no extra cost to you, but will help support this blog.***
I know I’ve been big on the outdoors thing lately. But I’ve been super stressed and had a 2 week long migraine that just finally went away this past weekend (knock on wood!). Being outdoors is soothing to me both emotionally and physically. The fresh air seems to help my head maintain a somewhat tolerable pain level. I think it is good for all of us though, regardless. Kids need nature in their lives too. But sometimes, once their faces get glued to a screen, I simply cannot find the proper remover. Sometimes, it’s just easiest to put a wall between them and the offending device.
One particular day I felt the need to get my son outside, he just wasn’t having it. So I exclaimed “let’s go try to take pictures that look like letters of the alphabet!” My son loves to take pictures so he loved the idea of getting to take some pictures too. So armed with our cameras, we took to the streets.
I thought it best that I set an example so I took the first picture of the letter “A”:
I showed him the picture and how the legs and seat of the chair come together to make a capital A. We traced the A in the picture with our fingers. So he got the idea and was excited to go off on our alphabet scavenger hunt.
Keep reading for more tips and to see some of the letters we found on our scavenger hunt.
Earth Day is one of my favorite holidays! But really, who doesn’t love a day dedicated to the environment? It’s a great chance to teach the younguns to respect the planet on which they live as well as ways to take care of the Earth, the animals, and all of the miracles we take for granted the other 365 days a year. (It is a leap year.)
I had this whole plan to add a second day to my blogging schedule. I thought having a Friday Favorites would be such a great idea. Okay so then it went to adding 2 more days to my posting schedule and on and on. Because sometimes I get a little overambitious.
But with my full time job, my kids, my father (who had a stroke a couple of months ago), my daughter’s play rehearsal schedule (so worth it though – it is AMAZING), and so much else going on, posting 1 day a week still seems to be about all I’m good for. Not that I’m sure all you moms and dads out there don’t feel all of the same stresses and you are all amazing for all that you do! (Hopefully I’ll get it together soon and can increase my posting schedule because blogging makes my heart sing!)
Anyway, so here’s my favorites, just not yet on a Friday.
We are always rushing! Gotta go here, gotta go there. It’s like non-stop. All in the name of getting stuff done. We rush to school. We rush to sports. Even when all we have to do is play, we rush. We rush to playdates. We rush to the playground.
Such is the exact situation we were in the other day. We recently moved into a new development and there is a big park with a playground within a fairly reasonable distance. I wanted to try the trails and see if we could figure out which one would take us to the playground. I mean, one of them HAS to, right? So, of course, I’m thinking I’m being the cool, let’s-savor-life, living-in-the-moment kind of mom as we are heading to the trails. But nevertheless, I’m on a mission. I’m going to find that trail that will take us straight to the playground so we can play.