Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dents in my Pride

I drive a huge van...think church van...think day care van...yup, that's me. We call it The Ivybus. And one child, who shall remain nameless, even took a rock to the sides, spelling out "Ivybus". I pride myself on being able to drive such a beast. I can park that thing in tight spots. I can parallel park. I can make u-turns.

A couple of months ago, someone rear-ended me and I ended up with a new bumper and the back doors being completely repainted. From behind, it was a beautiful van. Until today...

Today I was so proud of myself for squeezing into the last spot in a parking lot. I was squished between a cute Rav4 and a Mustang. I had to do a seven point turn to get in there, but I was in the parking spot, between the lines and I could still exit my vehicle without banging the vehicle beside me. Secretly I was hoping that by the time I was leaving one of those vehicle would have left. But of course they were still there when I was leaving. Trying to be so mindful of not hitting either vehicle I started the 45 point turn to get out of that spot.  I was watching my front bumper when a brick post sprouted up behind me! Never mind that it is attached to a building that is over 100 years appeared out of nowhere!

I am happy to report the post is fine - not a dent or chip. I did get out of the parking spot.

However, my brand new bumper now has a tiny dent in it...and so does my pride!

"Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall." Proverbs 16:18

I am thankful that I have a God who cares for me enough to correct me. I am even more thankful He corrects me in the little things so that I hopefully don't make the same mistake in the big things.  It seems just when I think I get this parenting thing down, I am dealt a blow to my ego and another problem arises  Only my dependence on God will keep me in check.

"Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful." Proverbs 16:20

Monday, May 14, 2012

Starting over...again...

Weight loss is my mountain I can not seem to get to the other side of. It has been eight years since I have been at the weight that I was pleased with. Life situations took over. Major job change and move. Two unexpected but happy pregnancies that resulted in wonderful children! Tack in a stressful job, and another move and a dash of apathy and you get today.

Years ago, back when I was young, stupid and naive, I told my hubby that if I ever reached a certain weight he needed to get me help and if I reached another weight he should just shoot me.  Stupid comment that was very selfish. However, sobering that I am closing in on the second weight.

This weekend, my family treated me to a wonderful weekend in Baltimore.  We shopped at IKEA and walked the inner harbor and ate dinner at Bubba Gump.  It was a fabulous, but I was very reflective on the fact that I was going to be happy sitting on a park bench rather that walking around the harbor.  Part of that is personality, but most of that was energy. I didn't want to "play" with my kiddos. I wanted to sit and watch them play.  And my hubby insisted on taking pictures of my kiddos and me. I purposefully positioned children in front of me and I have no desire to see how those pictures turned out. I am just thankful that he has not yet posted them to Facebook!  My clothing is not fitting and I do not want to purchase clothes in a bigger size.

Time for help!!!  I have started (again) tracking my food on and I have joined a group centered around the Max Capacity app. It is a strength training app for three days a week. it is available for the Android and they are working on an Apple one. I like the accountability...I need the accountability.  I have a starting goal of six weeks.  I am going to do this for six weeks! And I am getting my family on board. They may not be happy, but I don't care about happiness anymore!

So today, we start!  I have completed my strength training and walked for 20 min on the treadmill. And I am tracking my food...praying this is a change that sticks!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Get a Second Opinion

Y'all, sometimes it is very important to ask someone to check your work, and to get different perspectives.  Otherwise, you might approve a project like this:

...and you would become the laughing stock of the pool float community!

People! Someone actually approved this pool float to be put into production!  Why??? Was a woman not on the design team? As my good friend, Chris, speculated, "What a great idea! I'm sure there are thousands of people who want to float around in a pool on a giant maxi pad!"

Friday, April 27, 2012


We have been in our new home for three months now and by my own standards I feel like I should be more settled.  We have unpacked the absolutely necessary, but every room in unfinished and most still have boxes that are unpacked or piles of things that have been unpacked but have not found a home.  There are a few things hung on the walls, but hardly anything.  I feel like I still need to apologize to everyone that walks into the house, explaining that we are still unpacking.  That is if anyone over the age of 12 walked into my house.  That is the key right now...this is still just a house to me, not a home.  Like I said, those are my standards.  I know feelings lie and I know in my head I don't have to have the house all together yet.  However, I "feel" like I should have made more progress.

I have tried the finish-one-room-at-a-time method.  I worked on my master bedroom, attempting to make a retreat from the rest of the mess. 

I have this sitting room attached to my bedroom.  We don't have furniture for that room.  Therefore, it has become a holding place for the bins of next size clothes for my kids until I get the storage room unpacked and organized and make room for the clothes bins. So if I can just overlook the area right inside the door, my bedroom is calming...but not finished. 

At night I stare at the bare walls wondering what to hang on them to make the room feel less sterile.

I do not have small preschoolers demanding my attention at home anymore. I do not work a second job that takes me away from my home. I am a stay-at-home mom of all school age children that are gone for six hours of the day. And yet, I can't seem to make progress in those six hours.  Why does it take me six hours to shower, clean up the kitchen, do laundry, clean bathrooms, collect garbage, make the bed, prepare an afternoon snack, create dinner, shop for supplies, go through paperwork, ask telemarketers not to call anymore...

...and there is where my condemnation of myself steps in. "You should be accomplishing more. You don't have the excuse of work or small children. What exactly do you do all day?" This is the recording that plays in my head. This is what makes me grumpy when my children come home and mess up the house that I just seemed to spend six hours straightening up. What is the purpose in my job when six hours of work get undone in a matter of mere minutes and the complaining starts.  Their complaining. My complaining. And they feed off each other.

Today, April 27th, 2012 is the day that we break this cycle.  I don't know the exact "how", but I know I need to stop the unrealistic expectations of myself.  I need to stop "feeling" like I should be doing it all because I do not have preschoolers at home or a job that I leave home for.  I need to pick one project and finish it and stay focused on it.  Will it kill my family to eat peanut butter and jelly for dinner one night because I was focused on finishing painting the dining room? (Okay it might kill Jarrett, but he can have peanut butter and honey)  Today I give myself permission to let/make the children do chores.  Today I give myself permission to take a catnap in the afternoon so I am not exhausted when the kids walk in the door.  Today I will remind myself that my home is meant to be a home, not a showroom house. And today I will ENJOY my family!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Teachers Gifts

I think it is very important to let my kids teachers know that I appreciate them.  However with six kids, that can get expensive. I have some very creative friends that do amazing things for their teachers. I know many families stop giving teacher's gifts once their kids head to middle school because the number of teachers increases. When Mike was a high school teacher, he didn't receive anything from his kids or their families. I also know that teachers sometimes receive a bunch of, well...junk.  So here is my solution - and so far I have received rave reviews from the teachers.

ALL teachers and some special support staff receive the following:

Before school or first day of school: mini survival kit that includes things like, gum, bottle of water, "mix-in" for water bottle, granola bar, pencils, hand sanitizer, sticky notes, and business card with our info and the offer to help in some way. All wrapped in a paper lunch sack.

Thanksgiving: Party favor bag of caramel popcorn.

Valentines Day: Killer Blonde Brownie wrapped in chinese take-out box

Spring Break: Lemon Bar wrapped in chinese take-out box

Last Day of School: Pint Jar of BBQ sauce

Elementary School Teachers Only: Chili and Cornbread Dinner when we attend Parent-Teacher Conferences.

I have done different things for Christmas and am still searching for the "perfect" thing.  I can tweak this and change or add things, but I like the consistency.  And I have a few teachers that look forward to receiving their goodies.  If there are teachers that don't like it, I haven't heard yet...maybe they just pass their goodies along.  I did have one teacher this past year that said she was so exciting to have my child because it meant she would get goodies.

I am not one to keep my recipes a secret, so if you click on the name of the item, you can see the recipe.

Texas Chili

Brown and drain:
2 lbs ground beef (or venison if you want to make Montana chili)
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced

32 oz. tomato sauce
32 oz. diced tomatoes
4 tsp beef base dissolved in 2 cups of hot water
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp. oregano
3 dashes Tabasco sauce
32 oz dark kidney beans

Cook on low heat for several hours to allow the flavors mix.
Great served with sour cream, cheese, Fritos, and corn bread with butter and honey.

BBQ Sauce

Makes 1 Quart (2 Pints or 4 Cups for the mathmatically challenged)

2 & 1/4 cups Ketchup
1 cup water
2 tsp beef bouillon granules
1 & 1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
2 shakes Tabasco sauce (or Frank's Red Hot sauce)
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke (found by the bbq sauce at the grocery store)
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Cool to room temperature.

**Favorite use: Ribs cooked in the oven for 4 hours @ 300 degrees, covered - meat falls off the bones!

Lemon Bars

Warning: Prepare to share or you will eat the entire pan!

2 cups flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
12 Tbsp. butter
Mix together using a pastry blender and press into 9x13 pan. The dough with be very powdery.
Bake at 325 for 15 min.

6 eggs
1 cup lemon juice
3 cups sugar
Mix together then add:
3/4 cup flour.
Stir until mixed together and pour over baked crust.
Bake for 40 min.

Cool, cut, and dust with powdered sugar.

Killer Bolnde Brownies

1 lb. caramels
2/3 cup evaporated milk, divided
1 (18oz) French Vanilla cake mix, with pudding in the mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
9 oz. white chocolate chips
3 oz. macadamia nuts, chopped (reserve 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease metal 9x13 pan. Glass dries the dough.
In shallow dish, melt caramels with 1/3 cup evaporated milk in microwave. Wisk mixture smooth.
Meanwhile, place cake mix in large bowl. Add remaining evaporated milk and butter and mix well by hand. The dough will be stiff.
Refrigerate briefly, then roll out half the dough between wax paper to a 9x13 rectangle that will fit your pan, and place it in the pan.
Bake for 6 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over top. Quickly pour the hot caramel over the nuts and chips.
Roll out the rest of the dough as above and place over caramel.
Sprinkle with remaining nuts.
Bake 20-25 min (26 = too long)
Cool and cut.

Caramel Popcorn

8 cups of plain popped popcorn
3/4 cup brown sugar
6 T. butter
3 T. corn syrup
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. vanilla

Combine sugar, butter, syrup and salt in saucepan over medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon.
As soon as it comes to a boil, stop stirring and cook an additional 5 min.
Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla. Pour over popcorn and gently stir.
Bake at 350 for 15-20 stirring every 5 minutes.
Spread out on waxed paper to cool.

**Optional: stir in nuts when pouring caramel over popcorn.
**Optional: drizzle chocolate over popcorn while it is cooling.

Tooth Fairy

Yesterday was all about teeth in the Ivy Household.

Judson had his braces removed...which meant some yummy, sticky, gooey candy eating commenced.

Jarrett lost a tooth at school, which always seems more exciting than losing a tooth at home.

And one of my false teeth finally gave up holding on, which is exciting since I have been waiting to replace it for several years.

I am so thankful for an amazing dentist and orthodontist. Great people, and yes, I am the odd one that thinks of a trip to the dentist as a mini spa treatment.  I took a cat nap while they drilled, scraped and filled a tiny cavity. I know...not normal. Unfortunately, the temporary tooth is not behaving and staying in.  Just call me Capt. Jenn!  It has given me a great excuse to act like a pirate!

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year, New Start

I am a die-hard when it comes to New Years Resolutions. Every year, I make several. They are ambitious and repetitive. They usually involve weight-loss, parenting, organization, and spiritual growth.

This year our family is going through lots of new things. We started off with Mike living in Pennsylvania at his new job and the kids and I living in Montana while the kids finish the semester off. This new year also finds us living in a hotel. It has been fun not having to clean bathrooms or make food and to swim everyday. However, it is getting very old and I am over being separated from my spouse. I am extremely grateful that we only lived like this for three months, not six!

Because of all the new starts, I decided it was time to refresh my blog and re-start. I still love Costco and hope to still shop there on a regular basis once we have moved. However, it will be about an hour away, not just five minutes down the road. And really, I am still a Costco addict, but not like I was when I started my previous blog. Besides, I want this blog to be about my family, not just my strange addiction!

Word of warning, I am random. One day I may talk about an amazing recipe, and the next my sweet children, and the next some spiritual concept I am wresting with, and the next the gorgeous dress I saw at the mall...but that is what encompasses me and my family.