A week of anger

My first thought was to just skip the post for today and play around on Pinterest for a while. It mostly made sense since I hadn’t been there in a while, but the post won for a few reasons. 1) It’s been on my mind and I really think I’ll feel better if I write and 2) Pinterest will be there waiting for me as soon as this post is finished.

Last week was a bad week for me. Really bad and I don’t know why, what caused it, or how to prevent it from happening again.

It was all me. 100% me.

I was angry at everything and everyone and I knew it… I was able to see it but I couldn’t make it stop.

I was in a terrible mood. I recognized this as well and as hard as I tried I couldn’t shake it or keep it from affecting everything in my life.

I was very low on patience. This is a bad thing when you have a very busy toddler who barely slows down when he has a double ear infection AND pink eye.

There were highs and lows all week long and I had a dull headache for more than half of the week from it all. Maybe the headache was the root cause of my bad week or the constant state of cold, wet weather. PMS? Possibly, but my good friend Mirena has blocked our dear Aunt Flo from visiting so it’s hard to tell anymore. I honestly do not know what it was.

The littlest things would set me off and I’d snap at someone or worse yet I’d yell at them, especially when my patience wore to thin. It was something that I didn’t feel like I could control no matter what I did. And I tried…. but I don’t think that it was enough.

The worst part about it was that I knew I was in a bad mood and feeling angry… I knew it. I could feel it’s grip on me all day long. All I wanted was to be left alone… totally alone. I didn’t want to go anywhere, help anyone, make dinner, or even go to work. Alone with my Diet Coke or any other pop (soda) and my books.

My books were the one place I could get lost and mostly forget about the anger that encompassed me all week. Books were the place that I found some bit of solace. I was alone in my books where nobody bothered me or wore my patience thinner than they already were.

To say that I felt terrible was an understatement. Feeling like you’re that angry and in such a bad mood makes it a challenge to be a good parent… hell, it makes it hard to me a mediocre parent. I feel like I let me kids and family down because I wasn’t the person I should be… I wasn’t the person that they deserve.

This is the first time that I’ve felt like this… my hope is that it’s also the last.

some days

Courtesy of Pinterest

This week has been better. A lot better.

I’m tired though and there is a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders. It’s like the weight of the anger & the bad mood has been lifted and my body is now bearing the marks that are left behind from the previous week.

Did writing this help? A little. I will tell you that I have not gone back to edit this at all for fear that I’d change it to much from my original thoughts and feelings as I wrote. It’s better this way I think.

Linking up with Shell for Pour Your Heart Out.

Another meme…. Letters to my Kids

I had this great idea out of the blue yesterday and before I went ahead and implemented it I posed the question to Facebook. Yes… Facebook. You would have done the same thing too, right? I needed to make sure that it wasn’t off the wall or something like that and what I found out was that it’s a pretty good idea.

Another meme. I know.. it’s just what the blog world needs… another meme. But I wanted to write a series of posts called Letters to my Kids and I thought that maybe some of my friends would like to join in on the fun.

letters-to-my-kids

The majority of us have kids, want kids, have nieces  nephews, or are even grandparents and we all have things that we want to say to our kids or wish that we could. Often the trouble is that we don’t know how to say it best or maybe our kids are to young to understand what we’re saying. I know that this is the case with me.

Teens are hard to talk to and toddlers are even more so. Honestly, neither one of them really listen or often care what we’re saying to them half the time and as writers there is so much more that we could say in a letter. There is so much good, some bad, many  hopes, dreams, and expressions of love…anger…and so much more.

I would love it if you shared your letters every other Friday with me in this new meme. I think that it’ll be a lot of fun and there is much to be learned along the way about ourselves, our kids, and life in general.

I’ll post the button and the code over there on the right in the side bar and have the linky open at 6am when the first post goes live next week. I can’t wait to read your letters!

You’re joining me… aren’t you?

Wordful Wednesday – Family Pictures

It was brought to my attention by my kids (I already knew… I did really) that we hadn’t had family pictures taken in several years. Six years to be exact. Now, in my defense we have gotten the kids pictures taken several times over these past six years…. individually and together. I guess getting us into the picture hadn’t crossed my mind.

I planned for fall pictures because there is nothing prettier than pictures with all the leaves changing colors around us and a beautiful blue sky. Well, that didn’t work out and we ended up with late fall pictures. The leaves had mostly fallen and it was really freakin’ cold!

Despite the lack of leaves and warm sun we had an amazing photographer who took some really wonderful pictures and was even able to get the toddler to mostly hold still and smile for her. That alone was worth it.

 
Of course I had to include the fun ones… because it’s those that really show the kids true personalities. And that picture on the left… well, that one is really Natalie.

 
Caitlin is fun, beautiful, and scary intelligent. Right? Although, I think that she’s a little afraid of her brother.. especially when he’s chasing her with a big stick.

 
Here are the littles. Well… not so little anymore. But they’re pretty damn cute aren’t they?

I saved the best for last… the family picture. I have a few of these that I considered sharing but why share that perfect picture that took forever? Why not share one of the pictures that embodies who we are… who we really are.

Not a single one of us is paying attention to the camera and I have no clue what in the world I was thinking, doing, or saying. I just have a crazy look on my face…

How did your family pictures turn out?

If you live in Michigan and are looking for a great photographer for anything… family, kids, seniors, weddings, and even boudoir pics then give Amy from Darkroom Diva’s a call. I can’t say enough about her photography skills! I didn’t get anything for sharing her info here… I just love her work.

Linking up with Seven Clown Circus and Parenting by Dummies for Wordful Wednesday!

Monday Menu ~ U.P. Pasties

Many years ago in what seems like another time and place I would spend weekends in northern Michigan with my parents (yes, parents. Meaning they were still married) at my moms parents house. My grandparents were amazing people and I loved spending time with them and listening to the stories that they told of times gone by. Stories of when my mom and her siblings were growing up in Detroit, how my grandparents came to this country from Italy and lived in the U.P.

grandparents

Over the years my grandma would make pasties for us but to make things easier she would use a 13×9 cake pan and make one huge pasty. It was so delicious and I loved watching her and my mom putting it together and the smell of it as it baked.

U.P. Pasty

So what is a pasty? It’s a meat & veggie pie that originated in Cornwall, the westernmost county in England. The pies were made for the mine workers who could take them in their lunches and eat them easily with one hand without silverware. The pasties have even been made with a custard filling on one half and the meat and veggies on the other side so they had dinner and dessert all in one easy to handle package.

pasty prep

Even to this day when we all meet together at my aunts house there is pasty made just the way my grandmother used to make it for us all of those years ago. It’s amazing how something like a meal can hold so many memories in it’s simple prep, delicious aroma as it bakes, and flavors.

pasty prep 2

Every once in a while I find myself wanting pasty and often will buy them from the grocery store. They’re pretty good but they’re not the same as what my grandma made so this time I decided to make it from scratch. Just like she did.

U.P. Pasties

Ingredients

    Pasty Crust
  • 3 c flour
  • 1 c Crisco
  • 1/4 butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ice water
  • Pasty Filling
  • 1 - 2 lbs ground beef - I used ground chuck (80/20)
  • 2 - 3 potatoes
  • 3 carrots
  • 1/2 rutabaga
  • 1 onion
  • 1 - 2 tsp garlic
  • salt & pepper
  • couple of tablespoons of butter

Instructions

    For the crust:
  1. Cut the Crisco and butter in the flour and salt until it resembles sand with a pastry cutter, a fork, or a food processor. I went the more traditional route and used the pastry cutter just like my grandma used to.
  2. Add in the water a tablespoon at a time until it forms a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes or so.
  3. For the filling:
  4. Peel and chop all of the veggies into small bite sized pieces and mix them together in a bowl.
  5. Put it together:
  6. Cut the dough into two equal pieces and roll one of them out to fit the botton and up the sides of a 13x9 pan. Carefully roll the dough up onto the rolling pin and then roll it out into the pan and press into place.
  7. Layer the veggies and ground beef until the pan is full. You'll have to crumble the ground beef with your fingers to get it into small bite sized pieces.
  8. Roll the other piece of dough to cover the top, roll over the rolling pin as before, and unroll on top. Pinch the two crusts together and it's ready for the oven.
  9. Bake:
  10. Place the pan on a cookie sheet and place it in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for about an hour.
http://www.withjustabitofmagic.com/monday-menu-u-p-pasties

I was impressed because I truly did not expect my pasty to turn out as well as my grandma’s but it did. Everything about it took me back to another time and place. A place where my grandma was in the kitchen baking, my grandpa was in his recliner watching the Tigers game, and my brother, sister, and I were running in and out playing games only kids can imagine.

Do you have a special memory that centered around food?

Family Playdates

Now that I have a toddler again I’m back to figuring out playdates… I could just keep him home with me forever but then he’d just turn out really strange. Really it’s like having an only child since there are about 8 years between him and my youngest daughter so that means playing with his three sisters isn’t always an option.

Playdates scare the hell out of me though. Why? Well, because I have to meet the mom of his friend from preschool/daycare and possibly know each other a little bit, and then we need to actually hit it off. You know what… it’s like dating again!

Thankfully every once in a while Andrew’s older sisters come along with us when we head to the park and we have a family playdate. By the way… family playdates aren’t as scary as playdates with friends from school.

running through the sprinkler

It’s these time that I smile the most.

The times when all of my kids are playing together despite the age differences between them.

sitting on the bench

They run, swing, slide, and climb together.

They laugh and smile.

playing at the park

And it warms my heart from the inside out. It’s times like these that make me forget all the times that they argue and not get along.

I hope that my kids always get along and play together regardless of the age difference or how old they get.

I know… they’re kids so there will always be ups and downs but I also know that as time passes they’ll get closer. I know this because my brother, sister, and I did the exact same thing.

Then again I don’t think my brother will ever let us forget that we dressed him up as a girl…

This post sponsored by Gymboree. Shop Gymboree for clothing for newborns, toddlers and children up to size 12. Bring a friend to a Gymboree store and sign up for Gymboree Rewards together and you’ll both SAVE 25% off an in-store purchase.

Black Friday

Next week at this time the stores will be packed with shoppers looking for incredible deals for all the gifts on their shopping lists for friends and families. From store to store they’ll trek, pushing through the crowds, being shoved about, and often struggling to get that elusive “hot toy” of the year.

But before this all starts people start scouring the black Friday ads, planning their attack, and plotting with those who they’re shopping with. What I find troublesome is that this tradition once started on Friday, the day AFTER Thanksgiving has evolved into a 3 – 4 day shopping frenzy. Last year stores started their sales a littler earlier to entice shoppers and make more money of course, so at midnight or earlier the stores opened their doors to the flocks of people who had camped outside the doors.

This year though they’re starting the black Friday sales at 8pm! 8pm! This is pure insanity!

What happened to the Thanksgiving holiday? What happened to family time? What happened to resting & relaxing?

When did we as a society become so materialistic that we have to give up time with our loved ones, some of whom may have driven hours or spent hundreds of dollars on airplane tickets, to run out shortly after the family meal is finished just to fight the crowds for a supposed great deal on wrapping paper or some TV that isn’t really necessary for kids?

I’ve braved the crowds once… yes, just once in my entire life to go to a black Friday sale and it was around 5am that I went out. You know what? It wasn’t really worth it! The deals were so-so, the products that were on sale weren’t anything that spectacular, and more often than not the toys that they have on sale aren’t ones that my kids want.

black friday

So here’s a little history about black Friday from blackfriday.com that I dug up.

The term “Black Friday” was coined in the 1960s to mark the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. “Black” refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black,” back when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss, and black a profit. Ever since the start of the modern Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been known as the unofficial start to a bustling holiday shopping season.

This year I challenge you.

I challenge you to skip the black Friday insanity and instead stay home. Yes! Stay home with your family and friends. Spend some quality time with them talking, eating a wonderful home cooked meal or creative leftovers, sipping a glass of wine in front of the fire, or playing cards together.

Do something other than giving into the insanity that is causing us to forget about actually giving thanks for what we have and spending quality time with our families.

The sales and “special” deals will always be there. Family won’t.

Alphabet Photography {Review}

Alphabet-Photography-Logo

My kids have been bugging me forever to get some artwork on the walls in our house and while I agreed that we needed something I just couldn’t decide on what. I wanted something unique, something special, and most importantly something that would go with the furniture no matter what it looked like.

Well, the problem was solved with Alphabet Photography!

Nat & the Alphabet Photography artwork

Awesome… isn’t it? I love it.

I spent a lot of time trying to decide what I wanted it to say and with different last names in our house picking just one of them wasn’t going to work. I finally decided on word. A word that described what we are no matter what.

Family. That’s what we are. Family.

With the hard part done all I had to do was figure out what images would make my new piece of art perfect. There were so many options to choose from and depending on your style there was something for everyone…. even photos in color.

Alphabet Photography Heart

Family held together with hearts! Oh… look at that picture… do you see the signature there? That is the artists signature, Jennifer Blakeley!

Family - Alphabet Photography

I tried forever to get a picture of it on the wall but it was either to dark, the flash was leaving a flare on the glass, or you could see my reflection in it. I finally took it off of the wall and propped it up on a chair and took about 5 more before I got one that was half way decent!

I can’t wait to get our family pictures back and start decorating around my awesome new artwork!

Alphabet Photography has some great options for holiday gifts and some fun gifts that are under $40! My favorite ones are the framed art that says ‘Dream’ and ‘Love’. I think that I’ll be adding a couple more to add to my wish list so I can finally decorate the basement that’s been finished for four years now!

The perfect customized gift that includes photographs from all over the world, this is the original Alphabet Photography. Celebrity owners include: Prince Charles, Prince William and Kate, Tyra Banks, Ryan Seacrest, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, John Schneider, Nelly Furtado, and many more!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Alphabet Photography. The opinions and text are all mine.

Family Fun & Dinner

Every once in a while I try to do something to bring the family together whether it’s a movie, a game, or some sort of outing but there is a huge challenge in that. The challenge is trying to find something that will make everyone happy from a toddler, a tween, and two teens…. you’re laughing aren’t you? Go ahead… you can laugh because I would too. It really is difficult but once in a while I do succeed.

So I rented the Disney version of Just Dance from Redbox for Couch Critics and I have to say that it was a lot of fun! I enjoyed it and I know that my younger two kids did too…. the teens well they watched for a few minutes and moved on to something else. And I do have to say that it is so much better than a game of Monopoly…. that is a long… long… long game that nobody but my husband wins at.

dancing with Disney

Maybe the game was a flop with the teens but dinner well, that was a huge success! Homemade broccoli cheddar soup, bread, shrimp cocktail, and the kids favorite… mini corn dogs.

mini corn dogs shrimp

I’ll be honest… I kinda like corn dogs too but I skipped eating them simply because I wanted the soup more and I was really trying to watch what I eat.

Dinner at our is important to me and it’s the one time of day that we all sit down together at the table with no cell phones, television on, or any other distractions. It’s when we can talk over our day and share a bit about what we’ve done, it’s a time to connect as a family and spend quality time together every day.

It’s important for so many reasons to sit down together as a family too. It’s a time where you can engage with your kids which is important all on its own, but there are health benefits for us as adults and kids too. It can also be fun!

It’s incredible how many laughs we have shared together at the dinner table whether it was something the toddler did or tried to say after hearing something that one of his sisters said.

broccoli soup

The soup was great! The kids all loved it, I loved it, but my husband… well he didn’t. I think that it was the veggies…or that it was soup (both he doesn’t like).

Do you have family dinners together? What about family games?

I shopped at Walmart for our dinner and you can check out my Google+ album. You can check out Redbox on Facebook & Twitter if you want to learn more about them.

 I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ #CBias #SocialFabric

Wordful Wednesday ~ Halloween!

I think that one of the reasons that I like fall so much is because of Halloween! It’s my favorite holiday of the entire year… costumes, pumpkins, spookiness, candy, and all the lore that goes along with it. There really is something magical about this time of year. The one thing that never gets old no matter how old you get is carving a pumpkin! We do it every year together as a family…. yea, sometimes I have to drag the teens to it but they always end up having fun.

looking cute natalie

See… having fun!

This year Mr. I do itAndrew was old enough to help out and his contribution was coloring everyone’s pumpkin with a red marker or stabbing them with the carving knife.

cleaning out the pumpkin Lauren carving

Oh… he and his sister were so kind to refill the guts of my pumpkin right after I cleaned mine out. Of course they waited until I had turned around and was busy doing something else. I have a sneaking suspicion that they did it to a couple other pumpkins too because I had to clean them out when I went to put the candles in.

natalie playing with guts cait licking the pumpkin guts
Look at that! They’re having fun… with family! It does happen more often then you’d think but sometimes it’s hard getting them to join in initially but it really is worth it in the end.

almost done

I think that towards the end that Caitlin and Andrew gave up…. heads down or watching Disney Jr.

Although Lauren with the biggest pumpkin ever took forever to carve hers and Natalie carved two in the same amount of time.

lit pumpkins

Look at that! All of the pumpkins are carved and well lit on the kitchen table! It’s kind of hard to see but two of the pumpkins are characters from Adventure Time and one of the smaller ones has Adventure Time carved into it… all courtesy of Caitlin & Natalie.

my pumpkin

I saved the best for last…. my pumpkin! The girls told me that it looked like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland but that’s not what I was going for. What do you think?

Hey… it’s Wednesday! That means that I’m linking up with Seven Clown Circus and Parenting by Dummies.  

Lego Kids Fest Giveaway!

Who doesn’t love playing with Lego’s? I mean you can sit down with… or without your kids and just create things for hours! Houses, cars, elaborate mansions, and all sorts of things. Seriously, they will occupy all of my of my kids from the oldest to the youngest and even my husband!

So what’s a mom to do on a cold fall day who’s looking for something new to do with her family?

Lego KidFest of course!

Aerial - Lego KidsFest

Lego KidsFest! October 12 – 14 in Novi, Michigan!

The LEGO KidsFest is a giant traveling LEGO expo coming to the Suburban Collection Showplace, a mere 30 minutes from downtown Detroit, October 12 – 14, 2012. This hands-on, educational, all-ages LEGO extravaganza features millions of LEGO bricks not to mention lots of construction zones, dozens of life-sized LEGO models and displays, LEGO Ninjago and LEGO Games, group builds such as Creation Nation, live LEGO Master Builders, and so much more covering three acres of space.

I am looking forward to going and spending a few hours building all sorts of crazy creations! It’ll be a tie who gets the toddler & who gets to explore with the older kids though… maybe we’ll have to trade on and off! If you’re thinking of going you should probably get your tickets early because they tend to sell out pretty fast! There are 5 sessions that are all exactly the same.

Friday, October 12
4 pm – 8:30 pm

Saturday, October 13
Session I: 9 am – 1:30 pm
Session II: 3 pm – 7:30 pm

Sunday, October 14
Session I: 9 am – 1:30 pm
Session II: 3 pm – 7:30 pm

BrickPile

Then you’re in luck because I am giving away two tickets to Lego KidsFest in Novi to the Friday, October 12th from 4-8:30pm show!

And if you’re not sure check out some of these great activities!

LEGO Model Gallery: 40 life-sized models made entirely from LEGO bricks
LEGO Master Builders: live demonstrations and activities from the crew who get paid to play
Creation Nation: build your own creation to add to a custom map of the U.S.
Race Ramps: build your own custom car, then race it down the ramp against friends and family
LEGO Games Arena: roll the dice to play LEGO board games
Construction Zones: creative free build, play and display areas
LEGO DUPLO®: younger visitors can explore imagination through building
LEGO Retail and KidsFest Marketplace: purchase LEGO merchandise and official KidsFest tour goods
Brick Pile: a gigantic pile full of LEGO bricks for creative play and enjoyment
Monochromatic Builds: bricks of a single color to foster group creativity
Brickscapes: fantastic displays that combine lots of LEGO and DUPLO sets

Fun right!

Okay, so how do you win? Use that super simple form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here are a few fun Lego facts:

LEGO® is the contraction of two Danish words, “leg godt” which means “play well”.

There are about 62 LEGO® bricks for every one of the world’s 6 billion inhabitants.

19 billion LEGO® elements are produced every year. 2.16 million LEGO® elements are molded every hour, or 36,000 per minute.

Cool, huh?

Hey… guess what? If you want another chance to win enter over at Simply Raising 8 and Shawn Ann’s World!

Tickets to LEGO KidsFest were received for the purpose of this post. All opinions are that of my own.