Friday, May 31, 2013

My Favorite Movie Of All Time - FTSF

Today's Finish The Sentence Friday topic is My Favorite Movie of All Time.  Even though I've had a week to figure this one out, it has been hard.  I'm not a big movie buff, so I don't have a large repertoire of films from which to choose.  I dug deep and came up with three possibilities and finally settled on this one:

Although, I pretty much have it memorized, I did a little research to make sure I gave you all the correct facts and realized that this movie came out in 1996!!!!!  Holy Cow I feel old!!!  (And, I desperately need to see some new movies!)  Now, I didn't actually see the movie when it came out.  (1996 is the year I met my husband - I wasn't even married and didn't have my first daughter until 2002.)  In fact, I don't even remember when or where I first watched it - a rerun on TV is my guess.  I just know I loved it and I have watched it many, many times since then.

Here's a little synopsis:  It is a romantic comedy.  Obviously, it stars Michelle Pfieffer (Melanie) and a younger, dapper George Clooney (Jack).  Both are divorced parents.  Melanie has a son and is an architect trying to prove herself in a man's world.  Jack has a daughter and is a big-time newspaper reporter.   Their two kids go to preschool together and, through a series of miscommunications, they are late for a field trip and unable to go to school one day.  Therefore, Melanie and Jack - who cannot stand each other - end up trading "baby-sitting" services so they can each make it to their own big events.  Of course, at the end of this One Fine Day, they end up falling for each other.

See, she is NOT impressed.  And, look at that fancy cell phone!
So what is it I like about this movie so much??

1) It is set in New York City.  I am a Southern girl who grew up in  small town, so the idea of living in the fast-paced big city is intriguing to me.  I don't know that I would ever actually be happy living there, but it is always fun to imagine.

2) These two parents have some of the same struggles I have.  They are trying to get the kids to school on time.  Kids have to go potty at the most inconvenient times.  It rains.  It makes the story line seem more real and more personal.
I'm sure I've looked like this a few times after a rough day.
3) Jack really embraces being the dad, a role the character has previously not done well.  Who doesn't like to see a handsome guy embracing his little girl?!?!?

4) She gets the guy.  Of course she does.  It is a movie after all.  I think what gets me, though, is that she falls for a guy she never thought she would fall for.  He is arrogant and disorganized - completely the opposite of her.  This goes both ways, however.  He falls for the girl he never wanted to fall for - she's not the hot young thing he usually "targets."  She's a mom.  She's strong and has ambition.  She's not falling all over him like most women.  Aside from the fact that movies typically have happy endings, their union is unexpected.  Kind of like my hubs and me, maybe??  We don't have the personalities these characters have, but when I met him, he was definitely not the type of guy I thought I would fall in love with.  I think it's a pretty safe bet that he would have said the same about me.  However, that's another blog post for another day! :-)

Finally, I have to share my favorite line from the movie.  Toward the end, after a crazy, hectic day, the scene is set in Melanie's apartment.  She has put her son to bed and is in the kitchen in her flannel pants and a plain white T-shirt.  She's microwaving herself some dinner and spills something all over her shirt.  As expected, there is a knock at that door right at that moment.  It's Jack and his daughter who have come up with an excuse to go see Melanie and her son.  In the middle of the somewhat predictable love scene, she stops and tells Jack to give her a minute so she can freshen up and "look more like a woman and less like a dead mommy."  As a mom, I think that's quite possibly the best movie line ever.  

If you're interested, here's a video of the movie trailer.  Still can't believe it came out 17 years ago!!!

Finish the Sentence Friday

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Homemade Play Dough

What kid doesn't love play dough, right??  It is a classic "toy" suitable for boys, girls, little kids, big kids, and adults who are kids at heart.  A long time ago, when I taught preschool and before I had kids of my own, I learned how to make play dough from scratch.  I think homemade play dough is way better than the "real" stuff.  It costs less to make.  It lasts longer.  And, let me tell you, there is no greater therapy in life than kneading some warm, freshly made dough!!

I've made play dough with my girls countless times, but recently realized that I've never shared the recipe here on the blog.  It is time to fix that, so here is the recipe I use for homemade play dough!

**The play dough made from this recipe uses all non-toxic ingredients.  It doesn't taste good, but it is not harmful if ingested!

Play Dough
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
food coloring (optional)
 Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan. (You can add any color food coloring you like to achieve the desired color.  With no coloring, it will be white.)
(We added just a little yellow this time.)

Then, put the saucepan over medium high heat and stir continuously.
(Hint: This is a great time to enlist your helpers!)

As you stir, the liquid will begin to thicken and turn gloppy.  (Is that a word?)
See? Gloppy.

Eventually, it will come together into a ball of dough.

Remove the dough from the pan and roll it out.  IT WILL BE HOT, so this is a job for an adult.  (This is where that therapy I mentioned earlier comes into play!)

Once the dough is cool enough, it's time to play!!

When it's clean up time, store the dough in a plastic storage bag or other air tight container.

Have you ever made play dough at home??  What recipe do you use?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday Ten - If I Had a Million Dollars . . .

Recently, someone won the Mega Millions Lottery for a whopping $595 million dollars.  If they take a one time pay out, they will get over $375 million after taxes.  That's a lot of money!!!  and, the last I heard, nobody had claimed the ticket yet!

Now, I know that money isn't everything and I am blessed beyond measure with more than any amount of money could ever buy.  I have three beautiful kids, a wonderful hubby, a more than adequate roof over my head, and plenty of food on my table.  We have everything we need and then some.

Sometimes, though, it is fun to pretend.  All this lottery news was swirling when I was trying to decide on my topic for this Tuesday Ten, so here it is - Ten Things I would do if I won the lottery and "Had a Million Dollars":

The Golden Spoons
As an added bonus, click play and get the song stuck in your head for the rest of the day :-)

1.  College funds - According to the US Department of Public Education, the average annual tuition at a public institution is $15,000 per year.  At a private institution??  How about $32,9000 per year!  They also say there is more student loan debt in the US than there is credit card debt with many students graduating from college with up to $50,000 in debt before they ever earn a "career" paycheck.  I want to make sure my girls are able to get a good college education and I hope they don't have to accrue so much debt to get it.  So, if I won the lottery, one of the first things I would do is set aside plenty of cash to put all three of them through college.
2.  Renovations - We live in the house where my hubby grew up.  When my in-laws "down-sized" we bought this house from them and it really is a great house.  However, it was built in the 70's and could use some updating.  So, if I won the lottery, I would call these guys:
I would have them start in the master bathroom, then do the kitchen, and, then, remove all the paneling in the house.
3.  Give to Charity - I would absolutely give a good chunk of the money to charity.  I'm not sure which charity, but I would talk with my family to find the one(s) that mean the most to us and use some of my new-found wealth to help others.
4. Travel - Two weeks ago, my Tuesday Ten was all about places I want to visit.  If I won the lottery, I would starting crossing stuff off that list with the whole family in tow!
5.  Invest/Save -   O.K.  I know that sounds boring, but any amount of money would run out eventually.  Unless, of course, you invest it wisely.  I know little to nothing about stocks, etc. but I would consult with someone who does and figure out what I needed to do to make sure that lottery winning would sustain me for a very long time.
6.  Wedding Funds -   I have three daughters.  I've watched "Say Yes To The Dress."  My girls even have autographed pictures from Randy Fenoli.  I'm in trouble.  Unless I win the lottery . . . 
7.  Shopping - I love to go shopping, but like most moms, I always look at the price tag and feel guilty - especially when I buy things for myself or things we don't really need.  If I won the lottery, I would go shopping and I wouldn't look at those price tags.  I'd buy myself this:

Coach - $398 (

and some expensive shoes and some jeans that cost a fortune, but actually fit!
8.  A Private Plane - Well, it would take more than a million dollars, but if I won the big lottery, I'd buy my hubby a plane with a personal pilot on standby.  He travels for work a lot, and, even if we struck it rich, he would still work.  He loves his job and would go stir crazy with nothing to do.  Having a plane, however, would make his traveling mush easier (obviously!) and he could fly whenever he wants to. 
9.  Hire A Private Chef - I actually like to cook.  However, planning menus, grocery shopping, packing lunches, and cooking meals that nobody likes gets really, really old.  If I could afford it, I would hire someone to do all that stuff.  I would let them have holidays and weekends off, so I would still be able to enjoy cooking when it's convenient, but wouldn't have the stress of the constant "What's for dinner?"
10.  Hire a Personal Fashion Designer for my girls and me - I'm not stylish.  Every time I try, I think I look ridiculous.  I would love to have a personal designer/shopper who could help me put together outfits that actually are stylish AND look good.  Since I would have that person on retainer, I would also instruct him/her to design a line of clothes for my girls that are actually age appropriate.  No neon colors that hurt my eyes.  No super short shorts.  Clothes that my girls would actually like that I could live with, too!

I asked my girls to name 2 things they would do if we won the lottery.  Here are there answers:
Rachel: Buy a horse and go on an African safari
Megan: Buy a horse farm and rescue all the animals
Emily: Buy a private jet and buy a hot tub

So, what would you do if you won the lottery???

Next Week's Topic:  Ten Thing I'm Looking Forward To This Summer


Thursday, May 23, 2013

I Blog Because . . . FTSF blog hop post

Recently, I have been asking myself "What is the real purpose of this blog? What do I really want it to be?"  So when I read that this week's "Finish the Sentence Friday" prompt was I blog because . . ., I knew it was something I needed to write.

My first post was published on February 26, 2010.  I had a funny story to share, I've always liked to write, and I had heard of this thing called "a blog" so I checked it out.  I stumbled across Blogger/Blogspot which made it easy to create your own webpage and I just did it.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I gave no thought to pageviews or social media or "marketing" myself.   In the past three years, however, I have learned a lot - a lot about computer terminology; a lot about the friendly competitiveness of the blogging world; a lot about myself.

A couple years ago, I read some advice that suggested creating a mission statement for your blog to help keep you focused and on point.  Although I never wrote one down, I did formulate somewhat of a mission statement in my head.  Basically, I wanted my blog to serve a memories for my girls.  I wanted to have it printed and bound eventually and give them copies when they are young mothers so they will have memories to share with their children.  My hope was (and is) that, reading about my joys and struggles as a mom will somehow serve as wisdom and comfort for them.  With every post, I asked myself "Will this matter to them when they are traveling down the path I'm on now?"  If the answer was no, I didn't write it.  I still want my blog to be all those things.  Lately, however, I have found myself wanting my blog to be more.

I have revved up my presence on social media and joining Twitter and trying to post more frequently on my blog's Facebook page.  I've also been reading tons of other blogs and commenting and blog hopping as much a I can in hopes that this thing will "take off."  Why??  If I'm being honest, I think I am trying to find some sense of accomplishment for myself.  Most of my days are the same old, same old.  Kids, laundry, feeding the crew, dishes, bath time, bedtime - Wash, Rinse, Repeat.  I feel kind of like a gerbil on one of those little wheels running and running and running but getting nowhere.  Although I know mothering is the most important job I will ever have and that my kids are my greatest accomplishment(s), it is hard to keep that in mind when I'm in the trenches on a day-to-day basis.

I've seen others post about receiving hundreds of Facebook Likes in jus a few weeks; about thousands of page views on one post;  about publishing books; about being featured on larger media outlets.  Admittedly, at those times, that little green-eyed monster sits himself on my shoulder and I think "I want that, too.  Maybe that's where I can find the sense of accomplishment that I seem to be missing."  So, about a month ago, I decided to dive in and give it a go - to really TRY to make it happen rather than just sitting back and crossing my fingers, hoping for the best.   In the past few weeks, I have spent many hours (hours when I should have been cleaning or exercising or hanging out with my kids and hubby) reading other blogs, commenting, tweeting, Facebook posting.  It's been a lot more work than I realized it would be.  My following has increased some, but not significantly.

I have learned that blogging is competitive in a friendly sort of way.  There are literally thousands of mommy blogs and thousands more "other" blogs.  Most everyone who blogs secretly hopes that one of their posts will go viral, get thousands of pageviews, and bring them a little bit of fame.  (Ever heard of Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond??  Yeah, like that!)  When this happens for other bloggers we congratulate them and are truly happy for them.  However, we are also a little disappointed that we are not in their shoes.  At least I am.  And, how do we measure that success??  Will it be enough when I have 500 Facebook likes?  Maybe 1000??  10,000?   Maybe when my posts average a couple hundred pageviews each??  Or maybe when I'm featured on Huff Post??  Maybe when someone wants me to write a book??  What will it take for me to feel like I have finally jumped off the gerbil wheel and found success?

With all that in mind, I'm not sure I can finish this sentence yet.  "I blog because . . ."  I'm still figuring that out.  I'm still doing it for my girls, but I'm still looking for something for myself, too.  Those two purposes don't always seem to mesh.  "For my girls is" where I started.  "For myself" is where I've been heading lately.  Right now, I'm trying to figure out if there is a way to balance those two ideals.  If not, which one is right for me right now??

I honestly can't wait to read what others have to say - how others finish this sentence.  Hopefully, by reading others' thoughts and giving it a little more time (and thought and prayer and discernment) I'll figure it out for myself and be able to finish that sentence with confidence.

Finish the Sentence Friday

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to See if Other Pages "Like" You on Facebook

Let me first say that I am definitely NOT a computer expert.  In fact, when I mentioned the idea of writing a "how to" post, my tech savvy hubs actually laughed out loud.  However, I have learned a lot through blogging and I came across a tip I wanted to share.  Maybe most of you already know this, but I didn't until about a week ago, so humor me, o.k.?

I started my blog about three years ago, but have just recently begun to really try and promote it.  To do so, I have been trying to utilize the Facebook page I created for my blog about two years ago.  I noticed folks asking others to "like" their page from their personal profile rather than from their fan pages.  Why??  Turns out that one of Facebook's gazillion quirks is that, when you like another page from your page rather than from a personal profile, it doesn't count toward their total number of Likes.  So if the fan page for Mommy Blog XYZ has 200 likes and I "like" them from my personal profile that number goes up to 201.  However, if I like them from my blog's fan page, that number remains at 200 AND they get no notification of the new "like."

With all that in mind, I started doing some research to see if I could convert my blog fan page to a personal profile without losing the likes I already have.  Unfortunately, it doesn't seem possible.  (If you know how, please share!)  While researching, I came across a way that you can see what/if any pages have liked your page.  Facebook has hidden it well and it takes a few steps to get there, so I thought I would share.

It is possible that you have more likes than you realize!  Follow these steps to find out!

First of all, log in to your Facebook page and go to the news feed where you can see all the status updates from all of the people/pages you have liked.  In the upper right hand corner you will see this:

Click where is says "See All".  Then you will see a screen like this:

The initial graph may look different from this, but you should see the words "Overview, Likes, Reach, and Talking About This above the graph.  Click "Likes."

On the right, above the graph, see where it says "See Likes"?  Click that.
Then you will get a pop up box with a list if the people that like your page.  The top of the box will say "People Who Like This."  If you click the blue triangle beside those words, you will get another drop down and you can click on "Pages that like this."  Then, you will see a list of all the pages that have liked your page. 
Those pages will still not count toward your total likes and you will not get new notifications when new pages like you, but you can check the list periodically to get a truer idea of how many others like your page and who is seeing everything you post from that page!

Speaking of Facebook, I could sure use some more "Likes" on my blog page!!  If this helped you, maybe you can help me???  Pretty please!  Just CLICK HERE!  Thanks!!!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday Ten - My Favorite Children's Books

Our children go through so many different milestones beginning even before they are born.  We anticipate their first movements from within the womb, their first smiles, their first words, and their first steps.  As they get older, they have their first days of school, their first dates, their first heartbreaks, their first time behind the wheel.  The list could go on forever.  One of my favorite milestones to watch is when they learn to read.

I have been reminded of this one over the past few months with my youngest.  Emily is 5 and quickly approaching the end of kindergarten (how did that happen???).  Her reading skills have really taken off.  As I sat on her bed with her one night, she struggled with a word, but was determined to figure it out.  She sounded out each letter, then put them together and said the word.  Her eyes lit up and a smile spread across her face.  "I did it Mommy!  I read it!!"  She takes such joy in her new found reading ability and it is a wonderful thing to witness - just as it was when my older two girls went through it.

There is one sad thing about it, though.  This is the last time it will happen in this house.  Emily is the last one who will experience all the "firsts."  When it comes to reading, that means there is a whole bookshelf full of well-worn books that will very soon be too easy for the all readers in this house.  Board books, Clifford books, Little Critter books, Biscuit books will soon begin to gather dust or be relegated to a box in the attic as all the girls move on to more difficult, more exciting stories.

As a former preschool teacher and a lover of words, these books have a special place in my heart and I hope, someday, they will grace the bookshelves of my home again as I read them to grandchildren!!

On that note, here's a list of my 10 Favorite Children's Books:
(Remember, if you would like to join me, feel free to grab a button and add it to your Tuesday Ten list of books on your blog.  Leave me a comment here so I'll know to come check out your list!  If you are interested in co-hosting or have an idea for a Tuesday Ten topic, please leave a comment or send me a message via email or Facebook!)

The Golden Spoons

1.  Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney -All time favorite. Ever.
2.  You're All My Favorites by Sam McBratney- This one is special for our family because we have 3 kids.  In the story, three little bears ask their parents which child is their favorite!

3.  No Matter What by Debi Gliori - A parent fox - could be mom or dad and is referred to as "Big"- explains that he will love "Little" No Matter What.
4.  The Napping House by Audrey Wood - the illustrations, done by her husband Don Wood, are absolutely incredible.
5.  The Very hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle - a classic!
6.  Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss - This one needs no further explanation~
7.  Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown - another classic!
8.  Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson - This book was first published in 1955.  I love the simplicity of the story - just a boy, his crayon, and his imagination.
9.  God Gave Us You  by Lisa Bergen - In this sweet book, a little polar bear asks his mommy bear where he came from and her answer is "God Gave us You."  There are others in the series, too, like God Gave Us the World, Gad Gave Us Love, etc.
10.  Where The Wilds Things Are by Maurice Sendak - This one is a classic that always leaves me wondering if Max is dreaming or using his imagination.
O.K.  I know it is a Tuesday TEN post, but I can't stop at ten!!  Here are a few more!

11.  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. - When I taught preschool, we had this book on tape with Ray Charles narrating. (yes, I said tape and yes, it has been that long ago!).  I still read it with the same inflections and rhythm he did!
12.  No, David! by David Shannon - David is a little boy who gets in a lot of trouble!  Since my hubs is named David, my girls think of him and that makes this book hilarious to them.  The illustrations are great also and there are others in the series (David Goes to School, David Gets in Trouble, etc.)
13.  Brown Bear, Brown Bear - by Bill Martin Jr. - Another classic.  I think a lot of children learn colors through this book.  I have also seen many who can "read" it because they can just look at the pictures as they go.

14. Ten Apples Up On Top - by Dr. Seuss - This is a cute book; not the typical Dr. Seuss.  It happens to my my youngest one's current favorite!
15.  If You Give A Mouse A Cookie - by Laura Numeroff - I consider this a new classic.  Children love to follow the mouse's escapades and they connect in a full circle through the book.  Of course, there are others in the series (If You Give a Moose a Muffin, A Pig a Pancake, etc.)
16.  Have You Filled A Bucket Today? - by Carol McCloud - This book is a great way to help children understand the importance of being kind and showing love to others.

Well, I could probably list 100, but I'll stop here.
What are some of your favorite children's books??

Next Week's Tuesday Ten topic:  If I had a million dollars . . . .

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pizza Pasta Casserole

A couple weeks ago, I was sitting on the couch after the kids were in bed with my hubby beside me scrolling through recipes on Pinterest.  He happened to look over at my laptop and this picture caught his eye:

"What is that one?" he asked.  "It looks good!"  So, I clicked on it and the link took me here to a recipe for Pepperoni Pizza Casserole.  It did look good and I eventually worked it into our family menu.  Well, let's just say it was a BIG hit!!  Everyone loved it and that is a big deal in my house.  I will definitely be making it again.  It is easy, cost-effective,  it makes a lot (we had plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day) and you could easily tweak it to suit your tastes.  I thought I would share the recipe here so all of you can enjoy it, too!!

(I did change it just a tad, so this is the recipe for the way I made it.  It is, however, based on the original.)

Pizza Pasta Casserole

1 lb. rigatoni pasta
1/2 lb. ground Italian sausage, mild
24 oz. pizza sauce
4 oz. mini pepperoni slices
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1.  Boil and Drain Pasta according to package directions for al dente.
2.  In skillet, brown sausage.  Once sausage is cooked through and no longer pink, add pepperoni slices and pizza sauce.  Remove from heat.
3. In separate bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses.  Stir in seasoning.
4. Layer half of pasta in bottom of casserole dish.  Top with half of meat/sauce.  Add half of cheese mixture.  Repeat layers.

5.  Cover with foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes until cheese is melted and golden brown. 

**One great thing about this casserole is that you can customize it to what you and your family like by adding other ingredients to the sauce mixture.  Some possible mix-ins are sliced black olives, mushrooms, diced green pepper, diced onion, or browned ground beef.

**Also, this makes A LOT!!  It will completely fill a 13X9 pan.  You could easily separate it into two square pans and freeze one for another time.  Instead of baking the second one, just wrap it tightly and pop it in the freezer.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What My Daughters Want You to Teach Your Sons - A Follow Up

Yesterday, I posted a list of thing I want other parents to teach their sons before those boys date my daughters (many, many years from now!)  While that post was swirling in my head, I decided it would be interesting to ask my daughters what they think the boys need to know.  So, as we ate supper together, I asked them "When you are older and go on a date with a boy, what kinds of things do you hope his parents will have taught him?"  I thought they had some pretty good suggestions, too. :-)

-Emily, 5, said parents should teach him:
1) Don't get a bunch of tattoos.                        
2) Don't drive crazy.

This guy is NOT allowed!

-Megan, 8, said parents should teach him:

1) Be nice to other people.
2) Don't be a robber.    

Good idea, Rachel!  I think he's a pretty good catch, myself!

-Rachel, 10, said parents should teach him:
Know when to be funny and when to be serious.  "Like Daddy," she said.  "A lot of the time he is really funny and silly.  But, when he is working, he is very, very serious."

What I like about these suggestions from my girls is their simplicity and straightforwardness.  Unlike me, they are not thinking about it too much - they are just saying the first things that come to their young minds.  The other thing I like is that it shows they are starting to develop a sense of  qualities they think are good qualities for people to have.  Hopefully, that means they will strive to embody these qualities as well.  (And, they will not grow up to be robbers with a bunch of tattoos, thank goodness!)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...