Tag Archives: holiday

My first guest post


I wrote my first guest post for another blog yesterday–My Life in Frames. It was for a client’s blog so maybe it’s not the true honor that it would be had I been asked to write for a blog that I am not connected to, but it was fun nonetheless.

It’s a fun little post with some advice for guys about how to really touch their ladies’ hearts on Valentine’s Day.

Writing is something I love to do, so I hope to do it more often here on my own blog…and maybe other places as well.

My little party planner

I just love to throw kids parties! Birthday, Halloween, Christmas, tea parties…FUN! FUN! FUN!

I have never done a Valentine’s party.

Last week during our snow days, Leah decided to plan one. The kids will sometimes set up a club, store, game room, dance party, etc., in their bedrooms and the rest of the family attends. I figured that’s what she was doing. Actually, she invited several friends from school. Unfortunately, the inviting was one of those things where first graders make all the plans but the parents aren’t really in sync…nobody knows a time or place…

When I broke the news to her that her friends were not likely to come, she was heartbroken. I promised that the entire family would participate and that helped a little. One of her friends actually did come over for awhile in the evening (only because her mom was here to pick up Girl Scout cookies, but she didn’t care why) and that helped a lot.

After her friend left, she asked if we could have the party. Our 11 year old son had a friend over and the boys were playing. I asked (ok, insisted on) their involvement for a mere 5 minutes. They all went along with it enthusiastically, staying for another activity even after I told them they could leave.

I have to say, she did an amazing job planning and executing this party!

She planned games, activities and snacks:

Pin the Heart on the Donkey–She drew and cut out a donkey and several hearts. She taped them all to the wall in her bedroom.

Heart Potato–She used a heart shaped pillow and sang a song for the music while we sat in a circle and passed the heart.100_2708

Valentine Storytime–She spread out her heart blanket on the floor and read Clifford’s First Valentine’s Day to us.

Snacks–She baked cookies yesterday (Pillsbury Simply Cookies ready made chocolate chip cookie dough dressed up with pink sprinkles prior to baking).

She even had heart stickers and drawings she had made as prizes for the games.

A perfect little party completely planned by a six year old!

She did her mama proud!

So many books, so little time.

Nature vs. nurture. It’s the age old question when it comes to parenting. Our children love to read. Personally, I think they were born with an affinity for books–nature. But, My husband and I have encouraged that affinity at every turn–nurture.

100_4612We began reading to our children when they were just weeks old.

Once our oldest son was crawling, he would crawl to the bookshelf before he would crawl to the toys.

I remember our oldest daughter sitting on the floor with a book when she was 3. She started crying. When I asked her why, she said, “I don’t know what the words say.” Another time, I remember her looking at the title of the book and declaring the letters were all mixed up. (She had realized for the first time that they weren’t in ABC order like the song.)

Our youngest son, was a little harder to motivate. Once he got in school, he was expected to read books that challenged him. The trouble was, in order to challenge his reading ability, the content was too mature. He was in first grade. He still wanted pictures and large-print. Eventually, he found some books he loved and it was like flipping a switch.

Our youngest, now 2, amazed us months ago with her first sentence, “I’ll read!”

Our nightly routine includes family story time before bedtime.reading together cropped for blog

If you can’t read, someone will read to you.

If you’re learning to read, you’ll read to someone.

If you are an established reader, you’ll read to yourself.

Occasionally, we’ll read a book together.

100_1435While many parents struggle to get their kids to read, we often have to tell them, “Put the book down and go outside.” or “No, you can’t read just one more page–it’s time for bed.” A fact we’re really not complaining about.

One of our fondest Christmas traditions is sitting in front of the tree on Christmas Eve reading The Night Before Christmas. I used to read it. Now, I mostly listen.100_2210

We have more than 1,000 books in our collection of children’s books–including little board books to classic novels and everything in between. So it seems fitting that we share our love of books with others. Thus, a new category begins on My Chaotic Bliss: “Books We Love.” Future posts will highlight some of our favorite authors and titles.

We hope you’ll find something here to share with your children and that you’ll suggest your favorites to us.

Recipes from the Chaotic Kitchen

People often tell me I’m a good cook. Maybe. I do know I can read, and I think if you can read and follow directions, you can cook. My definition of a truly good cook is someone who creates a dish out of thin air–to me, that’s a good cook. I don’t think I’ve ever done that. Everything I make comes from a recipe.

Maybe it’s the mother in me, but I truly delight in serving a meal to someone who enjoys it. But with a busy family of six, it’s sometimes difficult to find the time in all the chaos.

My favorite recipes are those that require relatively few ingredients and are quick to prepare. There are exceptions of course, but our day-in and day-out favorites are both quick and easy to fix. Oh yeah, and it’s helpful if at least two of my four kids will eat said dish!

One of the worst parts of my “household duties” is coming up with a menu day after day, week after week and month after month, coordinating the grocery list, finding the recipes, etc. It’s hard not to get stuck in a rut of eating the same seven dishes week after week.

I’m always looking for new dishes to try and know many of you probably are, too. I’m also looking for some way for the recipes, the planner and the grocery list to all magically “talk” to one another so I don’t spend hours on the process. I came across a great site, thanks to The Organized Mom, that comes as close to this magic as I’ve found. It’s called Kitchen Monki.

KitchenMonki.com is a recipe sharing site, but it’s so much more than that! You can plan your meals using your own recipes or one of the ones others have shared. You can also create your grocery list from the recipes you choose. The items in your list are automatically sorted by grocery aisle and you can sort them by the different stores you shop. You can add notes for a specific brand or the details of the coupon you have for a particular item. Once you’re done, you can send it to your phone or print a PDF and take it with you. Like the sound of all of that, but don’t want to share Aunt Mildred’s secret recipe? Choose to keep the recipe private. You still get all the functionality described above, but no one else can see your recipe.

On top of all that, if you’re a blogger like me, you can easily embed the recipes you share on Kitchen Monki to your own blog–no formatting required! So now, I can share my recipes with my readers, thereby making my blog more interesting. Check out my “Last Minute Cranberry Relish” below. Yummy!

So now we have the birth of a new category: “Recipes from the Chaotic Kitchen.” I’ll share some of my favorites with you. If I find other tips and tricks for making planning and preparing family meals easier, I’ll share those, too. If you have tips or suggestions, let me know in the comments.

Together, maybe we can make the process less chaotic and a little more blissful!