Halloween Dinner….In a Pumpkin!

(photo credit) (couldn’t get my camera to work)

I make this casserole every year for Michael’s work party and it is a HUGE hit!  If I made this in a regular Pyrex, it would get eaten, but rather ordinarily.  Putting this in a pumpkin makes this something people will talk about until the next year when you make it 🙂


  • small to medium pumpkin- 1
  • onion- 1/2, chopped
  • vegetable oil- a few tablespoons
  • ground beef- 1 1/2 to 2 lbs.
  • soy sauce- 3 tablespoons
  • brown sugar- 2 tablespoons
  • cream of mushroom soup- 1 can
  • cooked rice- 1 1/2 – 2 cups


  1. Wash off outside of the pumpkin.
  2. Cut off top of the pumpkin and save,  and thoroughly clean out seeds and pulp.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. In a large skillet, saute onion and beef.
  5. Stir in soy sauce, brown sugar and soup.
  6. Add the cooked rice and mix evenly.
  7. Spoon mixture into clean pumpkin shell.
  8. Replace pumpkin’s top.
  9. Place filled pumpkin onto a  baking sheet.
  10. Bake one hour or until meat of the pumpkin is tender.

Mmmmm, Love it!


Everything Usually Works Out Just Fine

Well, I feel as if an apology is in order after my somewhat depressing hormonal vent post from Friday.

Honestly, I have a wonderful life!

I write in my personal journal every single day and the most common phrase that I use is “I am so incredibly blessed”.

I know that I am extremely blessed and that I have absolutely everything that I could ever ask for or even imagine.

Every once in a while, however, I allow negativity to enter my thoughts and then discouragement sets in.

I need to strive to remember this one key phrase:

Everything usually works out just fine.

It truly does.

I need to simply practice patience and endurance.

Not that I really have anything to endure.

I mean, really.  I have friends who are already widows.  I have friends who have been divorced.  I have friends who haven’t yet been married.  I have friends who, despite all of their efforts, remain childless.  I have friends suffering from cancer and other debilitating illnesses.

I have absolutely nothing to complain about.

Absolutely nothing.

And despite all of my negativity and discouraging thoughts, everything usually works out just fine in the end.

For instance, Bryce is doing better with his potty training!

He only had 2 accidents today.

Only two!

And he pooped in the potty all by himself.

I am one happy and proud Mommy.

I truly do love and adore my Brycie-boy more than words can express.  Sure, he causes me to feel frustrated at times, but how can you not love this face to pieces?

He’s my little buddy.

We have a lot of adventures together.

A few weeks ago, I thought that it would be “fun” to draw little smiley faces on his toes.

And then he ended up taking his shirt off and I thought that it would be “fun” to draw a huge face on his abdomen.

Hello…Why in the world did I think that would be “fun”?

Because for the next few weeks, he proceeded to draw on himself every single chance he got.  Why not?  Mommy drew on him so it must be an okay thing to do, right? 🙂

I make a lot of mistakes.

But don’t we all?

Also, since Bryce refuses to have “quiet time” alone in his room, I have been coming up with alternative quiet activities that he can do independently right next to me.

Like sorting pony beads into egg cartons:

Or, like putting pom-poms into ice cube trays using clothespins:

(I have other ideas as well…I’m going to create a “quiet time activity” post in the near future.)

There are lessons that I need to learn on a daily basis.

I need to try to be more loving and patient, with both my children and myself.

I’m so grateful that I have such a loving family that are extremely patient with my seemingly recurring “hormonal days”.

I am truly one blessed woman!

Halloween Week

It’s crunch time.  Today, and through the next few days, we are going to try and fit in all of the Halloween activities we haven’t gotten around to yet.  Carmel apples, sugar cookies, carving pumpkins.  You know, all the good stuff.  I wanted to share a few goodies from a couple of websites I found that are helping me and hopefully will be of use to any other holiday procrastinators out there.

Halloween Printables to spice up your home

Free pumpkin stencils

The Role of Motherhood

“The word motherhood defines women’s eternal roles;  it describes their nature as nurturers.  Nurture is a rich word.  It means to train, to teach, to educate, to foster development, to promote growth, and to nourish or feed.  Women have been given the great privilege and responsibility to nurture in all these senses of the word.”

-Quote from “Daughters in my Kingdom”

I often consider this quote and I can’t help but feel as if I fall short sometimes.

I can’t help but feel as if I don’t measure up to my highest motherly potential.

Each day brings new experiences and the emergence of new feelings.  Each day presents a variety of challenges that I am required to overcome.

Let’s take a look at today, for example.

My alarm went off at 5:00 a.m.  I immediately pushed the snooze button, knowing that the alarm  would continue to ring  every five minutes until I officially shut it off.  I usually push snooze three times and force myself out of bed at 5:15.  Some days are easier than others.  Mason woke up three times last night (the little stinker) and so I didn’t feel rested.  But I made myself get up anyway, knowing (from experience) that if I don’t get a morning workout in than I feel horrible the rest of the day.  Some days I ride our stationary bike, other days I do exercise videos.  Today was a 480 Workout day along with some abdominal work.  I couldn’t get into it and it felt more like a chore rather than a healthy hobby.  I reluctantly finished my workout, showered, and got dressed all before the clock struck 6:00.  By this time, Mason had been crying for 10 minutes.

Nursing Mason in the morning is my favorite part of the day.  I just love the way that his little body molds into mine and how he sucks so vigorously.  His little hands habitually grab my chest, my clothes, and my neck while he gets his nourishment.  Even after I run out of milk, he continues to suck and cuddle for at least 10 minutes.  To me, this is pure joy.  I’m never going to be able to wean this kid.  He has loved nursing far more than my other two kids.  I think it has something to do with the fact that I have allowed him to nurse on command since day one.  He has no schedule.  I am a walking, talking home-town buffet for him.

By 6:15 or 6:20 I know that I have to get the other two kids up and ready if we are to make it to Lizzie’s school on time.  This is when I can’t help but feel a little frustrated and somewhat jealous of my husband.  It doesn’t always bother me, but today I allowed it to get to me.  It just doesn’t seem fair sometimes how he simply has to worry about getting himself up and ready for work.  He gets to move along at whatever leisurely pace he feels like.  I don’t have that luxury.  I have to rush, rush, rush to get not only myself ready, but all three kids dressed and fed before 7:00 in the morning.

You see?  Feelings of jealousy towards my husband because he has it “easier” than me for a few minutes can’t be good, right?

I need an attitude adjustment.

As I have mentioned before, it takes us 20 minutes to get to Lizzie’s school.  After we drop her off, we generally drive the 20 minutes back, but today we went shopping.  I brought $60 in cash into the store.  It just happened to be the last of our money for the month before we have to start dipping into savings.  I made a shopping list yesterday including everything that we would need until we get paid next Tuesday.  The shopping trip was fairly uneventful.  I kept Mason happy feeding him puffs in the front of the shopping cart.  I gave Bryce a few gummy worms to munch on as he walked beside the cart.  He actually stayed with me today (his only bad choice was when he put his hands in one of the candy bins in the bulk section).  I was very content!  As I watched all of our groceries being scanned at the checkout line, I was mentally making a list of which groceries I could get rid of if we ended up going over 60 dollars.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to discard anything.  The total came to $59.60!  What a relief!

I felt successful for a mere moment.

And then we returned home.

I started “potty training” Bryce again this week.  I put that in quotations because I am realizing more and more that Bryce isn’t the kind of kid that will be fully potty trained within a few days.  Potty training, for him, is a process.  A very long and tedious process which I really don’t think that I have the patience for.  But I am ready to start allocating our money elsewhere.  I don’t want to spend our money on diapers for a 3-year-old!  Bryce fights the whole potty-training idea with a passion.  He did fairly well Monday through Wednesday, however, I couldn’t get him to sit on the potty today.  When bribery wasn’t working, I tried to be more forceful and he had a tantrum, ran out of the room, and promptly wet himself.  AAAHHHHHHH!!!  I really think that potty-training will be the end of me.

I shouldn’t feel so frustrated, right?

Bryce had a lot of tantrums today.  Sometimes I feel so alone in the day.  I want to video tape my day for my husband as I don’t think that he fully understands the magnitude of Bryce’s tantrums.  Jon can’t receive text messages when he’s at work, but I sometimes text him anyway just to vent.  This is what I texted him around lunch time today, “I’m about to become an abusive mother.  Bryce refuses to sit on the potty and he is having the most annoying, whiniest tantrums ever.  AHHHH!!!!”.  Even though I know that Jon won’t get the message, it somehow feels good to vent.

Although I obviously don’t abuse my children, isn’t a horrible thing that I even wrote that to my husband?

Bryce wanted macaroni and cheese for lunch.  I told him that he had to eat chicken nuggets instead.  He had carbs for breakfast as well as for snack and he needed some protein (and some veggies as well…but eating veggies is another subject in which Bryce refuses to cooperate).  He promptly had another screaming tantrum and woke up Mason.  Poor Mason.  It seems like he can never get a good nap.  It seems as if Bryce has the worst tantrums when Mason is sleeping.  I desperately need Bryce to participate in “quiet time” of some sort.  He just refuses.  I have tried putting him in his room so many times for “quiet time” and he bangs his door and screams and screams like I actually had abused him.  When I try leaving his door open and tell him that he needs to simply stay in his room for some alone time, he refuses to stay in his room.  “Quiet time” is supposed to be a break for me.  It’s not a break when I have to either keep putting Bryce back in his room or else listen to him bang, scream, and throw toys.

Why am I so desperate for some quiet, alone time?  I am a Mother.  Shouldn’t I have a burning desire to be with my children every single second of the day?

Somehow the morning flew by really quickly and I felt as if I didn’t accomplish much.  This often seems to be the case, especially since having baby number three.  I feel as if I haven’t gotten my life “put together” since Mason was born.  I feel like I’m always busy, always running from here to there, yet I have no idea what I accomplished at the end of the day.  Like I’m running a race with no finish line.  Why do I feel this way?  It’s not normal for me.  By the time both Lizzie and Bryce were 9 months old (Mason’s age), I was craving another newborn.  I can’t help but feel as if something is wrong with me because I just don’t feel baby hungry in the slightest right now.

This is a new feeling for me.  Shouldn’t Mother’s always have a deep yearning for more children?

We left to pick up Lizzie.  Bryce has a tendency to act like a broken record.  Often, on the drive to Lizzie’s school, he repeats the same phrases over and over again.  The most common phrase is,  “I’m thirsty, I’m thirsty, I’m thirsty, I’m thirsty, etc.”.  I give him a sippy-cup full of water when we first get in the car and he finishes it within a few minutes.  Then he starts his “I’m thirsty” mantra.

I definitely need an attitude adjustment.  Today I felt as if I were focusing on all of Bryce’s negative attributes.  This needs to stop.

Sometimes I wonder if I should even have more kids.  I can’t even handle the three that I have.  I don’t want my future kids to suffer because of my emotional instability and inability to handle even the simplest of situations.

After picking up Lizzie, we stopped by Kaiser to get our flu shots.  I’m not a fan of the flu shot and rarely get it.  Our pediatrician recommended that our kids get it this year, however, and so I decided to follow her recommendation.  So I lugged all three kids into the walk-in-flu-shot clinic.  Fortunately, there were only a few other patients there.  We all got our shots without shedding a tear.  Success!

Right after we arrived home, Jon called me.  He never calls me when he’s at work.  Ever.  In fact, this may have been the first time in 6 years.  He told me the good news that Lizzie will be able to get transferred to a closer school!  Hooray!  I haven’t mentioned this on our blog, but I have been trying to get Lizzie transferred to a closer school.  The long drive there and back, twice a day, is just too much.  The school that she got accepted to is rated the same as her current school (a high rating)  and is 4 miles closer to our house than her current school.  It is still a commute, but it will save us a lot of driving time.  Not to mention gas money! 🙂  I was elated.  I still have to fill out some paper work, but she will be able to transfer within the next few weeks.

I am happy that Lizzie will be able to transfer schools, but I can’t help but feel heartsick.  She loves her teacher and she loves having her cousin in her class.  Am I ruining my child?  I seriously considered homeschooling again a few weeks ago but it still didn’t feel right.  Ultimately, we simply can’t afford the gas to take her to her current school.  And I’m going insane with all of the driving (just ask my husband).

We have to do what we have to do, I guess.  I just hope and pray that our kids will be resilient.

I haven’t quite figured out my role as a mother with a child who is old enough to attend school.  Lizzie is now learning things from someone else.  She tells me that her teacher is really smart.  She tells me that I am just a babysitter.  I have a college degree.  But to be honest, I don’t feel very smart these days.

Well, let’s talk about dinner time.

I am trying to use our leftovers as much as possible when I make our dinners recently.  We had some leftover angel hair pasta in our fridge today.  I didn’t quite know what to do with it.  I decided to throw in some fresh basil from our “garden”, a chopped up bell pepper, some spices, and 3 eggs.  I mixed it all together and fried it up in a pan.  After it was cooked, it didn’t look too appetizing.  So I poured a jar of Trader Joe’s spaghetti sauce and some mozzarella cheese on top.  And that was dinner.  I made the entire meal while either holding Mason, or feeling him pull up to stand on my leg.  And listening to him cry.  He cries a lot when I make dinner.  It’s that time of the day, I suppose.

Jon, Mason, and I ate what I had prepared.  Lizzie and Bryce only managed to eat a few croutons off of their salad.

After dinner, we did the usual clean up and bedtime routines.  Only we forgot to read scriptures with the kids today.  Oops!  We try, but we are nowhere near perfect.

And that was my day, in a nutshell.

Every day is different, yet oddly similar.  I yearn for some consistency, but I can’t seem to find it in the chaos.

I try hard to live up to my potential, but I can’t help feeling guilty when certain negative feelings and attitudes ooze into my thoughts.

Oh well.  I’m going to hit the sack…and try again tomorrow.

I’ll be more positive tomorrow.

Perhaps tomorrow will be the day in which Mason takes two solid naps, Bryce stays in his room for one hour of blessed quiet time, the sink is void of dishes, and I actually finish folding the laundry.

Here’s to hoping! 🙂

And here’s to trying.

First Birthday Party and Easy Fancy Mac N Cheese

Ty turned one last week so we had some family over to celebrate.  Didn’t feel like making a cake so I got those mini angel food cakes and stacked and frosted them.  Turned out cuter than anything I could make 🙂

Red and blue jar of candies

Red and blue dipped Oreo pops

The table: we decided to go with “kid” foods:  corndogs, chicken pattie on a bun, mac n cheese, french fries, and fruit salad.  (mac n cheese recipe below)

The birthday boy so excited for his cake


The final result….bath time!

Easy Fancy Mac N Cheese

1 lb. macaroni noodles

1 jar Ragu cheesy sauce

1/2 cup (one stick) butter

1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Cook noodles according to the package and drain.  Stir in the cheese sauce.  In a seperate bowl, mix the melted butter, bread crumbs, and parmesan cheese.  Then top macaroni with crumb mixture.  You can easily eat as is, or you can back at 350 for 20 minutes or so for a crispier mac.

“Ice Cream” Cake and Cupcakes

My sister-in-law asked me to make the cake for her daughter’s first birthday party.  I have been wanting to make ice cream cone cupcakes for a while now and this seemed like the perfect opportunity!

I don’t want to brag, but I thought that they turned out so cute! 🙂

Want to make some?

They are super easy!

Here’s what you need:

1 package of cake mix (any flavor)

18 flat-bottomed ice cream cones (I used larger cones, which made it so the cake didn’t bake over the cone.  You can use regular-sized cones as well, just know that the cake will bake and rise higher than the cone).

1 recipe for Vanilla Buttercream Frosting


24 maraschino cherry’s (optional)

Here’s what you do:

1.  Preheat over to 350 degrees.

2.  Prepare cake mix according to package directions.

3.  Spoon 1/4 cup batter into each ice cream cone.

4.  Stand cones on cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until toothpicks inserted into centers come out clean.

5.  Cool completely.

6.  Decorate as desired.

I also wanted a cake to go with the cupcakes for the birthday girl to dig into.

Here is the “ice cream” cake that I made to accompany the “ice cream” cupcakes.

Guess what?

The cake was easy to make as well! 🙂

Here’s what you need:

1 package of cake mix (any flavor)

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe (see above)

Chocolate Frosting Recipe


2 Maraschino Cherries

Here’s what you do:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2.  Prepare the cake following the package directions for the basic recipe.  Pour about 2 cups of the batter into a greased round pan and about 3 cups of batter into a greased square pan.

2.  Bake for approximately 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

3.  Cool completely.

4.  Cut the round cake in half.

5.  Cut the square cake in half, diagonally.

6.  Place the round cake halves along the 8-inch sides of the triangular cakes.  (I had to cut the “cones” a bit to make them more triangular).

7.  Frost the “cone” portion of the cake with chocolate frosting and the “ice cream” portion of the cake with vanilla frosting.  Decorate as desired.

I sure had a blast making these cakes…you should try them out as well! 🙂

Halloween Bingo

Paper Coterie has come through again for our family!  They have these printables for a free Halloween Bingo.  We played it tonight with mini Reeses Pieces and it was a big hit.  Head on over and get your free printable and while you’re there check out their great deals to get a head start on your photo gifts for Christmas!



Homemade ABC Box

I made this ABC box for Lizzie over a year ago.

Do you want to make one too?

Here’s how I did it.


4 kid’s-sized shoe-box lids

Cereal boxes (or any type of cardboard)

Hot glue gun

Spray paint (optional)

Letter (ABC’s) manipulatives (I used foam letters that I found at the dollar store)


1.  Glue the shoe box lids together as shown in the picture.

2.  Using the cereal boxes (or other cardboard), measure and cut thin strips that will be used as the dividers between each letter.  You need 26 small sections and one larger section on the bottom, as shown in the picture.  Glue the dividing cardboard pieces to the shoeb0x lids.

3.  Spray paint the entire thing one color (this step isn’t necessary, of course, but mine looked pretty wacky until I made it one color).

4.  After the spray paint dries, fill the sections with letter manipulatives in alphabetical order.  You can use ABC magnets, foam letters, paper letters, etc.  Whatever you have on hand!

What can you do with your ABC box?

There are numerous things that you can do with it, but I made it specifically for the purpose of helping Lizzie explore words.

I placed the letters “I” and “P” at the bottom of the box and told Lizzie to put various letters at the front of the letters to see if it makes a word or not.  She chose any letter she wanted and put it at the front of the word.  “Zip” is a word.  Then she put the letter “Z” back and chose a different letter.  It’s a good activity in deciphering words and non-words.  You could practice any rhyming word with this box (“ar”, “at”, “op”, etc., etc., etc.).

This box is also helpful in learning sight words.  You could give your child a card with a sight word written on it and then he/she could read the word, and then copy it by spelling it out in their box.

Simple sentences could also be made.  Lizzie made the following sentence on her own.

Sure, the sentences may not make much sense, but this is just for fun.

I am learning to bite my tongue and praise her efforts as much as possible.  I am learning that there is a time for correction, and a time to let things go.

Right now, she is just having fun.  There will be a time for correction. 🙂

She was very proud of the following sentence:

I must admit, I told her that it should be “an apple” rather than “a apple”.

I try…but I’m not perfect! 🙂

Halloween Finger-Plays

I’m not sure why, but my kids really like the following two Halloween finger-plays:

Five Little Pumpkins

Five Little Ghosts

(I couldn’t find the Ghost one on the web, but you sing it to the tune of “Farmer in the Dell”.  You say “Five little ghosts say “boo”, five little ghosts say “boo”, five little ghosts say “boo” and then one flew away.”  Continue the song by subtracting one number each verse until the ghosts are all gone.)

I made these really simple glove puppets for them to play with to go along with the finger-plays.

All that I did was cut out 5 little pumpkins and 5 little ghosts out of felt and hot-glued them to a pair of gloves that I never use.  A very fast and easy project that your kids are sure to enjoy!

Ty-Ty Turns One

This happy little guy turns one today.  I think time goes faster with each child.  I can remember being pregnant with him like it was yesterday.  And, he’s the easiest baby ever so he’s kind of just drifted into being a one-year-old without causing any trouble.  I am going to be selfish and just list a few things I’d like to remember when he’s moving out of the house and these baby days are long behind me.

*We call him Bubsy-Wubsy and he loves it when we tell him we “wubsy” him.

*He loves that small potato show on Disney Junior.  He gets the biggest smile and crawls to wherever he can hear it.

*Has such a sweet temperment and rarely cries or throws tantrums.

*Shows loves to Momma, Daddy and brothers in his own special ways.

*Finally sleeping through the night….I think

*Will eat anything (even jalepeno Cheetos and pepperocini peppers)

*Is always hungry

*Drinks water really well and makes a smacking noise when he wants us to bring him his drink

*Loves to read and sing and dance

*Has a crazy happy dance he’ll do when he’s in a good mood

*Loves his binki but gave up his bottle months ago

*Loves to do tricks and make people smile

*Waves at everyone

*Things everything is a phone to say “Heh” to daddy

*Has 3 teeth but is getting at least 3 more

Thanks for letting this be my personal journal for the day!  I sure to love this little Ty-Ty and am so grateful he’s in our family.  He is special.