Sep 19, 2014

Back to School Confessions

I confess....
My oldest needs a teacher who can challenge her, keep her focused, and appreciate her quirkiness. We hit the jackpot last year and it seems like we did again.

I confess....
I'm looking forward to volunteering at school again. I am not a PTA kind of mom but I'll tutor kids and do anything their teachers need for support.

I confess....
I like being back in the classroom for a few hours a week but I don't want to go back full time.

I confess....
I have a serious issue with helping my own child with her homework. I do fine most nights but when I'm tired and the math lessons are long I lose my patience. By the time we get to the last few questions I'm like Penny in this clip.



I confess....
I don't know how it's possible but helping my child with her homework is more exhausting and frustrating than a full day of teaching other peoples' children.

I confess....
I now have a deeper appreciation for all of my former students' parents that made sure they did homework every night. While I don't skip any nights, it's very tempting. Unfortunately the teacher in me just cannot allow for that to happen.

I confess....
I already hate packing lunches. Not even one month into the school year and it's my most dreaded chore. I don't know what is wrong with me since it doesn't take very long. It's not like I make their sandwiches into panda bears or anything, but I still dread making lunches.

I confess....
My kids ride the bus. Not only do they want to ride the bus but I'm way too impatient to sit in the car pool line. My preschooler has car pool this year and I love it! But they stagger the times so there are only 15 cars going through the line. Unlike the Elementary school which is at least 25 minutes long and oh yeah, I have to go through two lines there. One for my other preschooler and one for the 1st grader. Pass!



I confess....
Today I mixed up my daughters' lunches. I sent a ham and cheese sandwich with my pseudo vegetarian and the pb&j with Molly who goes to a nut free school. Crap!

I confess....
My daughter told my neighbor, the lady behind the counter at CVS, and her Aunt that I mixed up the sandwiches. I picked her up less than 2 hours ago, clearly I'm not going to live this one down anytime soon.


I confess....
I love seeing what crazy outfit Isabella lays out every night. She's such a character! I hope she makes her teacher laugh.




I confess....
I'm happy that summer is over and school is back now that I'm into the routine of school again. I'm able to work more and getting some alone time for a few hours a week is pretty amazing.

What are you confessing this week?

Sep 17, 2014

Today's Blessing - Hand Me Down Clothes

No matter what is going on in your life you are surrounded by blessings, you just have to look for them.

Don't worry this isn't a post that is intended to make you feel guilty for not appreciating what you have. I just think we sometimes forget that even during rough times, we are still being blessed. Perhaps not the way you intended, but the blessing are still there.

Last night I had my kids try on last winter's clothes. No surprise, not a single item of clothing that they wore last winter still fit. Molly's jeans fit everywhere but the length. I measured, they are 3 inches too short. How is that even possible?

Up to the attic I went to retrieve our bags and bins of hand me downs. Over the years we have been extremely blessed with friends and family who give us hand me down clothes. Every season I am filling in the gaps of what is missing or needed in my kids' wardrobes. Typically I need to buy dresses since my girls love dresses and we don't get very many handed down. Of course having two girls means Isabella's clothes go to Molly. They are currently one size apart which is surprising since they are 2 years apart.

I actually missed a bag so this isn't a true picture of my blessing.


I went through the clothes last night and pulled out all the winter stuff in the next size and determined the gaps for each kid.

Mark needs a 3-4 hoodies and socks. We always buy socks new, he just happens to need them now.
Molly needs a new jacket and a 3-4 long sleeved shirts. The jacket Isabella wore at 5 doesn't fit Molly's arms at 4.
Isabella needs 1 pair of jeans and all new leggings.
All 3 kids need gloves.

Seriously how amazing is that list? It's like this every season and I still don't take it for granted.

HUGE BLESSING! 

I know some people think it's too much work to store and organize clothes. But I have an easy system that works for me. I bag everything by size and store them in plastic bins. Besides this picture represents hundreds of dollars worth of clothes. Two of these bags are for the next size for Mark and Molly so they are set to grow.

Last night I did 4 loads of laundry and took the time to put away most of the summer clothes. I can't put away everything since it's still warm here. I hate the window where it's cool one day and blazing hot the next day. It took hours between having the kids try on clothes and washing and folding everything but it's done and worth the effort.

When it comes to clothes I have a pass it on mentality. I find friends to give the outgrown clothes or donate them to so the cycle continues. I want to bless other people the way they have blessed me.

My challenge to you is to take a moment today and find one way that you have been blessed. I'm sure you'll realize that there are many blessing in your life that you look at but don't really see. Perhaps your neighbors agreed to carpool to soccer this year. Or maybe you have a friend who will drop everything for you when you need it. Whatever your blessing is, think abut how different your life would be without it and give a little thanks.

What are some of the blessings you see?

Sep 15, 2014

10 Things I'll Never Apologize For

I believe one of the best parts about getting older is gaining confidence in yourself. When I was in my 20's and I heard that someone didn't like me I was shattered, now I could care less. I've learned that trying to change who you are just to please other people only makes you miserable. Now I'm all for changing to make yourself happy. I'm only against doing it for someone else.

Yes, life is a little easier in your 30's and since I'm starting the downward turn toward my 40's I'm convinced that they will be even better. See I'm an optimist. I see the glass as half full, but either way there's always room for more wine!

In the last month I've read countless posts where mothers apologized for all the areas that they are failing and begged them to stop in my head. Seriously ladies, it's OK to be human. Just look at Martha Stuart, she aimed for perfection and went to jail. Perhaps it's time to let go of the idea of perfection.

Yes we should apologize for making mistakes, like yelling at our kids. But not sending in the perfect bento lunch is not something to apologize over. I started thinking about the things I'll never apologize for. These are the things that are my weakness and strengths, the core of my personality, quirks, and beliefs that make me Allison. I think it's time we decide as women to stop apologizing so much!



I will never apologize for parenting in the way that aligns with my faith, morals, and feels best for me. While I'm well aware that some people view parenting as a reality show competition and they are one of the judges, but I am not getting wrapped up in their drama. I make decisions based on my education, faith, experiences, background, morals, gut instinct, what annoys me in other children, what annoys me in my children, what worked in the past, and what didn't. I'm learning on the job just like everyone else. It's not a #momfail, it's an opportunity to learn and do better next time.

I will never apologize for being stupid excited over the leaves changing colors. Living where the leaves change colors is new for me and I love it!



Or for pinning 30 pumpkin recipes in under an hour. I know it's annoying to other pinners but I was on a roll last night! Yes I made pumpkindoodles for dessert last night after drooling over them. Yes I ate too many. And lastly, yes they were amazing!

I will never apologize for making my relationship with my husband a priority. Yes I am a mother. Yes I chose to bring these wonderful people into the world that suck the energy out of me better than any vacuum. But I will always make spending time with my husband a top priority. We do date night at home most often since we can't afford a sitter every week. Yes, we are taking a 10 year anniversary trip alone. Without the kids! (Gasp!)

I strongly believe that husbands and wives need to keep dating, especially after they have kids. The marriage is the most important relationship in the family. Our spouses need our love and attention too. Newsflash the kids are going to leave you one day, hopefully your spouse will not.

I will never apologize for loving the Texans. I don't care how childish or stupid some people think football is I love it! I'm a Texan, born and raised. You just cannot take the football out of me. Public service announcement - the Cowboys suck.



I will never apologize for feeding my kids organic carrots at lunch and then being too tired to cook dinner so we hit McDonald's. I try my best to cook dinner every night but I'm not above pizza or the drive thru.My kids will be fine, I promise.

I will never apologize for letting my kids dress themselves. They have their own little quirky personalities and I happen to love their wacky outfits. Besides my kids don't like matching their socks which makes laundry a little easier for mommy.

I will never apologize for wearing makeup every day. Again I'm from Texas; there are some things you just hold onto. But I promise to never wear makeup to the gym in the morning.

I will never apologize for keeping an organized home. I married a wonderful man who has OCD and cannot stand clutter. Translation he is a great organizer and taught the kids how to perfectly put their toys away. I can take no credit for it. I also get in trouble with the kids sometimes for putting things away wrong since I don't know the system after it changes. Growing up I was horribly unorganized but Brett has taught me many tricks and now I actually like cleaning out closets and purging the house. Past Allison surely thinks I'm crazy.

I'll Never Apologize for Advocating for my Kids. During my first visit with the neurologist, he told me that I need to find my voice and make it loud since no one would ever fight for my son. Five years later I understand that wisdom in ways I never thought possible. I've learned to advocate for all my kids in a way that makes me heard without being rude. Be prepared for a fight if I don't agree with the plan. Once I brought a lawyer, don't mess with my kid.



There you have it, 10 things that I'll never apologize for doing or being. What is something you will never apologize for?



Sep 12, 2014

Crock Pot Meatloaf and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I love that I can prep a meal in a few minutes and pop it into the Crock Pot and dinner is done. But I'm having an issue with sides this year. Normally I'll roast a vegetable as a side or make a salad to go with the main entree. On Tuesdays I don't get home from the dance studio until 7 and my kids' bedtime is 8. Which means I"m on the lookout for more all in one Crock Pot meals.

Enter this meatloaf and mashed potatoes. They are cooked in the same Crock Pot.



Crazy!

But it's true!

This is the easiest meal to put together and the mashed potatoes come together in a flash once they are cooked. You can even put all the water, cream, butter, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl in the fridge ready to go for dinner time.

Yes, I'm that pressed for time that I prepped the mashed potatoes add ins before leaving for dance.

Yes you must add water to the potatoes. When you boil potatoes, they absorb the water which makes your mashed potatoes have the right consistency. If you don't add water, your potatoes will be weird. Wrong texture and very dense. Add water!!!

You're going to make a little aluminum foil dam for the meatloaf. The foil acts like a barrier for the fat. Now your meatloaf won't be sitting in grease.

Meatloaf Ingredients 
2 pound ground beef
4 slices of bread (I use the sandwich ends since no one wants to eat them)
1 t olive oil
1/2 medium onion chopped 
2 cloves minced garlic
2 t prepared horseradish
2 egg
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t salt
1 t pepper
ketchup or barbecue sauce 
4 medium sized peeled potatoes 
5 strips of aluminum foil - roughly 5 inches wide
6+ quart Crock Pot 

Mashed Potato Ingredients 
4 medium sized peeled potatoes 
2 cloves minced garlic 
5 strips of aluminum foil - roughly 5 inches wide
3/4 cup water
3/4-1 cup heavy cream or milk - I use cream but milk is healthier. 
4 T butter
salt and pepper to taste

Directions 
1. Saute onions and garlic on olive oil until soft. 
2. In a large bowl add egg, salt, pepper, horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce and mix together.
3. Put the bread in the blender and make bread crumbs.
4. Add ground beef, bread crumbs, and onion to the egg mixture and combine. I use my hands, it is the easiest way in my opinion. 
5. Take 5 strips of aluminum foil and roll into little logs. 
6. Place aluminum foil in the Crock Pot.


7. Shape meat mixture into a loaf shape and place on top of the aluminum foil. 


8. Spread a thin layer of ketchup or barbecue sauce over the meatloaf. 
9. Sprinkle 1/4 of the minced garlic on a strip of aluminum foil. Place a peeled potato on top of the garlic and wrap the foil around the potato. Place the potatoes in the Crock Pot. Cover the Crock Pot with the lid.


10. Cook on low for 4 hours. 
11. Turn off the Crock Pot. Remove the potatoes from the Crock Pot and unwrap the potatoes and place in a medium size bowl. Put the garlic in the bowl too.
12. Add water, 3/4 milk, butter, salt and pepper to the bowl. Mash the potatoes using a hand held mixer. Add additional milk if needed. Some people like them really creamy so add milk gradually until you have the right creaminess for your taste. 
13. Pull the meatloaf out of the Crock Pot and dinner is done! 



I didn't think this recipe would be 13 steps, but I swear it is easier than 13 steps looks. Try it and tell me how it turns out for your family.

Sep 10, 2014

What I Want You to Know About Vitiligo

Vitiligo is an unknown disease for the average American. Most people have seen vitiligo but they are unaware of what they are seeing. I have two children with Vitiligo and I'm constantly explaining the cause, treatment, and symptoms of the disease.

Occasionally I meet people who think they know what Vitiligo is but they are completely wrong. For example a mom at the pool was convinced that it was a rash and tried to get my kids kicked out of the pool so her kids wouldn't catch it.

I had another one of these moments last week at the gym. One of the childcare workers asked what happened to Molly's knees. I went into a short explanation of vitiligo and she said "oh OK." No harm no foul. Finally I'm explaining my child's medical condition and it went well.

Wrong.

The other childcare worker just had to open her mouth and say "you get it from stress; it's too bad you were stressed when you were pregnant so she got vitiligo."

I'm very proud of myself; I didn't punch her in the throat. This isn't the first time this woman has said something about my kids that pissed me off.

In that moment I realized I need to do a better job at spread awareness about Vitiligo. If only I had a platform to do that!



What is Vitiligo? 

Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder. Just like type one diabetes or celiac disease.

Vitiligo develops when cells called melanocytes die. These are the cells that give us pigment. 

Vitiligo normally affects the skin but it can attack anywhere you have pigment including the inside of your mouth or hair.  


Vitiligo is most likely a genetic disorder. 


You are more likely to get Vitiligo if other autoimmune diseases run in your family especially Hashimoto's disease (thyroid) or alopecia areata (hair loss). 


Vitiligo is life alternating, the social stigma of looking different increases when more of your skin loses its pigment.  



What Vitiligo Isn't

Vitiligo isn't contagious or life threatening. You can't catch it. It's not a rash!

Curable. There are limited treatment options but there isn't a cure.

A disease that gets attention. Very little funding or research goes into Vitiligo.


What I Wish You Knew About Vitiligo

I want you to medically know what Vitiligo is and in not. I also need you to know that it breaks my heart that my twins have Vitiligo. Yes it could be worse, but that doesn't make me feel good about it.

I hate watching people stare at my children when their white spots are visible. Please don't point and whisper, ask me and I will explain.

I cry when I overhear my daughter asking Daddy if she's still beautiful even though she has white spots. She's four years old and she already is struggling with body image. I hate that the most.

I have researched Vitiligo extensively. My children are being seen by an amazing group of doctors at a teaching hospital. My children are receiving the treatment that the doctors and my husband and I agree upon. Please know that our treatment options are not up for debate with you.

I really wish you knew that when you dismiss my worries you are being unsupportive. Telling me that it's not that noticeable or that it could be worse tells me that I can't talk to you about my struggles as a mother.

Most importantly, I wish everyone would realize that my children hear what you're saying right in front of them. They hear you blame me for their disease and comment on how sad you are that they are different. They hear you when you say it's no big deal and that you still think they're beautiful.

They can hear you, so choose your words carefully.




Sep 8, 2014

Do These Pants Make me Look Fat? It's Not the Pants.

Working out and eating healthy isn't something I struggle with once I'm in a routine. I do great for months at a time and then a slip occurs.

It takes me a long time to get back into the routine. Normally it take my pants feeling extra tight before I kick myself into gear. Which is what happened last week when I stepped on the scale for the first time since July and realized that my lazy summer cost me in pounds. My shorts didn't shrink over the summer, my middle grew. And my thighs. And since I'm being really honest my face too. You know it's bad when you can see it in your face!

Ouch

Groan

It's time to kick my butt back into gear and lose that weight. The kids are in school which gives me more time to get to the gym and plan better meals. Sounds easy right?



It's not. I dread going to the gym once I'm out of the habit since I know it will hurt. I'll use any excuse not to go. I know a few weeks down the road things will be easier since it will be part of my routine and the soreness gets better.

At least it seems to get better, maybe you just learn to live with the sore when you're going 3-4 times a week. Anyone want to come over and drag me out of the house to go to the gym? I promise to pay you in swear words and dirty looks.


What I'm doing to commit to getting back into shape and my jeans.

  1. Doing a one hour workout at least 3 times a week. 
  2. Every meal and snack must include a fruit or vegetable.
  3. Drink a green smoothie for breakfast or lunch 5 during the week. 
  4. Cut back on alcohol.  
  5. Ask (I didn't really ask, it was more like a demand) my husband to get on board too. 


Hopefully these 5 steps will have my jeans fitting again before the weather changes. One thing I'm committed to is not buying new jeans. My shorts are tight but they still button. The jeans, yeah not so much. I figure I have about 6 weeks before I'm going to need them so game on friends.

I'm looking for tips that you use to get yourself back into a fitness routine. What motivates you?

Sep 4, 2014

Slow Cooker Ribs and Corn on the Cobb

It's no secret that I love my Crock Pot. I can't think of anything better than throwing in a few ingredients in a pot in the morning and coming back later and dinner is done. This school year my daughters have dance class that ends at 6:30 and is about 25 minutes from my house. Which means I need dinner to be ready within minutes of me walking in the door. I have so many recipes that are perfect for cooler weather like my Pot Roast with Potatoes or Chicken Enchilada Chili but I don't have many Crock Pot recipes for hot humid weather. 

Tuesday is my Crock Pot dinner night and I need to find more recipes for hot weather. For now, I'll rely on my tried and true meals that I know my family will eat. Since I need everything ready to go including sides this "recipe" is perfect for Tuesday nights. The quotes are there since this really isn't a recipe, it's more of a how to post. 

I finish the ribs off with 4 minutes on each side on the grill. That small amount of time gives it a little smokey flavor and caramelizes the barbecue sauce. But you could easily skip it to make life easier. Or if it's raining and you don't want to mess with the grill in the rain. 



Crock Pot Ribs and Corn on the Cobb

Ingredients

1 rack of ribs - 3 pounds
5 ears of corn halved (or one for each person)
5 T butter
salt and pepper
About a cup of barbecue sauce
1/2 cup water
10 strips of aluminum foil 
6+ Quart Crock Pot 

Directions 

1. Place corn on a strip of aluminum foil. Sprinkle corn with salt and pepper according to your taste. Top the corn with 1/2 T butter cut into thin strips. Roll the foil around the corn. Repeat for the remaining ears of corn and place in the refrigerator. 

Yes this is a full ear of corn, I forgot to cut them in half


2. Cut the rack of ribs in half. Apply a thin coat of barbecue sauce to both side of the ribs. 
3. Stack the ribs in the Crock Pot. Mix 1/2 cup of water with 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce and pour into the bottom of the Crock Pot. Put the lid on. 


4. Turn the Crock Pot on low and cook for 2 hours.
5. After two hours add the corn to the Crock Pot and cook an additional 5 hours.


If you forget to cut the corn in half you'll need a second Crock Pot. Which means you have to clean 2 Crock Pots. Sigh. 



6. Optional step - Spread a thick layer of barbecue sauce on the ribs and grill for 4 minutes on each side.
7. Remove foil from the corn and slice the ribs and serve!


What are some of your favorite Crock Pot recipes for Summer?
 
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