Monday, December 24, 2012

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


While I'm slightly bummed I don't have a good picture of all 5 of us to include on our card, or even a good recent one of all of the kids together, I'm not stressing. I whipped this one up in Photoshop a couple of weeks ago in no time flat just using what I had, and it's good enough. Boom. Done.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


My Christmas shopping was D.O.N.E as of Thursday, about half of the presents are wrapped, we've baked cookies, and I'm actually sitting on the couch sipping coffee (creamed with eggnog, yes!) and relaxing while the kids watch Rudolph.

{alazycrazylife} {alazycrazylife}

I even painted Lorelai's nails for the first time. Festive sparkles "like a princess" to match my nails. Clearly I'm totally winning at Christmas this year. :)


Someone else who's winning is Lissa, who won the Mailpix giveaway. Congrats and thanks to everyone who entered!

And now I'll leave you with a festive video of Lorelai singing (ish) Jingle Bells. I hope everyone is all (or almost!) ready for the big day. I can't wait!!

Ever since I got sick a few weeks ago with a nasty stomach bug, Lorelai asks me daily if I'm all better. Sweet girl :) And as always, I apologize for the mommy voice behind the camera. She wanted to single Jingle Bells for daddy since he was out of town, but got camera shy as soon as I got my phone out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

They totally get me

Adam took the boys out shopping for me this weekend and he sent these pictures.


I think they totally get me. I mean, that hat is amazing. So versatile and totally my style, dontcha think? Fingers crossed it ends up under the tree on Christmas morning! ;)

And don't forget to enter my giveaway for a $40 mailpix credit! Only a few entries so far, so you've got a really good chance of winning. :) It ends tomorrow at midnight, so hurry!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In remembrance

Please consider making a donation in remembrance of the lives lost.

Charlotte Bacon, 2/22/06, female (age 6)
Daniel Barden, 9/25/05, male (age 7)
Olivia Engel, 7/18/06, female (age 6)
Josephine Gay, 12/11/05, female (age 7)
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 04/04/06, female (age 6)
Dylan Hockley, 03/08/06, male (age 6)
Madeleine F. Hsu, 07/10/06, female (age 6)
Catherine V. Hubbard, 06/08/06, female (age 6)
Chase Kowalski, 10/31/05, male (age 7)
Jesse Lewis, 06/30/06, male (age 6)
James Mattioli, 03/22/06, male (age 6)
Grace McDonnell, 11/04/05, female (age 7)
Emilie Parker, 05/12/06, female (age 6)
Jack Pinto, 05/06/06, male (age 6)
Noah Pozner, 11/20/06, male (age 6)
Caroline Previdi, 09/07/06, female (age 6)
Jessica Rekos, 05/10/06, female (age 6)
Avielle Richman, 10/17/06, female (age 6)
Benjamin Wheeler, 9/12/06, male (age 6)
Allison N. Wyatt, 07/03/06, female (age 6)
Rachel Davino, 7/17/83, female (age 29)
Dawn Hochsprung, 06/28/65, female (age 47)
Anne Marie Murphy, 07/25/60, female (age 52)
Lauren Russeau, 1982, female (age 29)
Mary Sherlach, 02/11/56, female (age 56)
Victoria Soto, 11/04/85, female (age 27)

My heart breaks all over again when I see this list, especially since Caroline Previdi was born on the same day as Logan. Rest in peace, hero teachers and sweet angels.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Columbine. VA Tech. Aurora. The most recent Portland mall shooting, plus WAY too many other horrific, senseless shootings. And now Sandy Hook.

My brain cannot comprehend the kind of madness and hate and I don't know what else that would compel someone to do unspeakable things like this. I can't help but think about what broke this person and turned him into a monster. Was it something he was born with? Something that happened in his childhood? Something that could have been prevented? What makes someone do this???

I don't think we'll ever get enough answers and whatever answers we get will never make it ok. That unknown is scary to me. How do I protect my kids from not only being victims, but from being broken somewhere along the way?

I'm so heartbroken for the parents who lost children just like my own, and I'm mourning the loss of innocent lives and the loss of innocence for all of the other children who had to witness such a terrifying ordeal.

I just pray that my children never have to experience the terror that those children went through. I even hate that my boys heard anything about what happened at all. Explaining it was tough--I don't even know what to tell them, or how much they can or should understand about the situation. I just let them know that even though there are people who do very bad things, there are many more people who do really good things, and we have to always try to be one of those people. To care about others and always know right from wrong. That I was sorry to be crying, but it just means that I care about how other people feel and that's always a good thing.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. " -Martin Luther King, Jr

So like every other parent who was fortunate enough to tuck their children safely into bed tonight, I hugged them a lot tighter, told them I loved them, and we said a prayer for those whose lives were lost and whose hearts were hurting.

Rest in peace.

I finally have a new calendar {Plus a Mailpix giveaway!!}

I have a confession: I had my 2011 Shutterfly calendar up on my wall for more than half of 2012, turning the page each month, silently cursing myself that I was so lame (but glad I still had the pretty family pictures to look at).

I finally got embarrassed enough to take it down before people came over for Lorelai's birthday party in July (and after my mom got totally confused about a note for a birthday party we went to last year). I swear I had the best of intentions last year to do a new family calendar, but time got away from me, and then Target ran out of their dollar spot calendars...and then I just gave up.

So when Mailpix contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in trying them out, I knew exactly what I wanted to get. You guys, I finally have an updated calendar for 2013 with cute pictures of my cute kids. It's a miracle! :)

{alazycrazylife} mailpix review and giveaway

Because I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to this type of thing, but also very indecisive on which pics to use (I wanted to include all of them!), it took a while for me to get everything just right. They've got lots of different calendar designs to choose from and tons of layout options (which was a blessing and a curse for this indecisive momma!). I even discovered a trick for making custom layout options. If you choose one of the layouts that includes a text box, it's super easy to delete the text box and add a new photo box or two. You can resize and move them around to get the perfect layout.

I loved how quick and easy it was to upload new pictures and drop them into my layout. If I didn't have the right picture already in my album, a simple click, drag and drop later, voila. No need to navigate out of your project just to upload more. And the upload time (for me, at least) was super quick!

You can also link to your Facebook and Instagram photos, which gives you even more photo options. I didn't try linking up with Facebook since I rarely post photos there anymore, but one limitation I noticed with Instagram is that they can only retrieve your 60 most recent photos. This really bummed me out until I realized that it also retrieves the most recent photos you've liked, so all I had to do was sort through my own Instagram photos and like the ones that were older. Sure, if anyone looked at my activity they may have thought I was crazy for liking my own photos, but it worked!

{alazycrazylife} mailpix review and giveaway

I now have some of my fave 5x5 Instagram prints on my kitchen gallery wall, with more I need to find frames and homes for. :) The pictures look great, with the exception of a couple I took with my front camera. Tip: if they're a little grainy on a tiny iPhone screen, they're going to be a lot grainy blown up to 5x5!

{alazycrazylife} mailpix review and giveaway
I only realized the pictures were crooked after I snapped this photo, oops!

I also took the opportunity to put together a photo book of my kids. I've been absolutely negligent in printing out any photos for actual photo albums for the past um...FOUR this was an easy way to get them all compiled. Again, I used my trick for custom layouts so I could include all of the photos I wanted in the 20 pages that were included. And again, it was super easy to drop all of my pictures in place. I really wish there was a way to rearrange the pages as you're compiling the project (if there is a way, I have no idea how to do it), but overall I'm happy with the process and how it turned out.

I've only ever used Shutterfly for calendars and photo books before (pre-Tiny Prints merge, if that matters) so I don't have a lot to compare to Mailpix, but the quality is on par with anything I've gotten from Shutterfly, and I think the upload process is even quicker and easier. And I received my order less than a week after I placed it, woohoo! They've got unlimited storage and lots of options like ornament, keepsake boxes and canvas photos for ways to "turn your images into memories" as they say. Their prices are competitive, and it seems like they've always got great deals floating around. In fact, I might just be taking care of some of my Christmas shopping right now. ;)

The best part is that Mailpix has offered to give away a $40 credit to one of my readers! Just enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. I'll pick a winner next Friday, 12/21. Good luck!

For more information, check out Mailpix:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was offered free products in exchange for this review, but all opinions are my own. I'd use Mailpix again in a heartbeat!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Ever since I became a mom, Christmas time has become so much more stressful than it ever had been. Before, I just had the usual stress of finding the perfect gift for everyone on my list, finding time to shop, fighting the crowds, etc. And just to be clear, that's the biggest stress for me. But when Aidan was born, the stress somehow morphed and all of a sudden, the pressure was ON to create the perfect, magical Christmas experience, on top of everything else (see also: my last post).

I'd like to say it's gotten better over the years as I've become a more experienced (ha!) mom, but that would be a big, fat lie. I think it's actually gotten more stressful now that I have more kids, all at different ages of understanding about this whole Christmas thing.


But all this stress means that the holidays pass by without me fully enjoying them. It's a race to get to the finish, and at the end, I'm just exhausted and mad that I didn't appreciate the scenery along the way. Short of getting Santa to pull more weight on this whole Christmas thing (seriously, would it kill the guy to haul a few more presents to my house for all of the rest of my loved ones? ☺), I've got to do something to simplify.

Paring down the presents for the kids is as start. But to be honest, this alone will not reduce my holiday stresses because my kids are the easiest to shop for there's still SO many other gifts to get and/or make.

So I've also decided that I'm not ordering and mailing out Christmas cards this year. I didn't get to it last year because I just didn't have time, and while I kind of felt bad about it, it was a huge load off my plate and that was nice. Plus, it saves me money--stamps are expensive! So instead of using the cute Christmas address labels St. Jude sent, I just tucked them away and wrote a them check instead. I'll probably end up photoshopping something for the blog, but that's about it. Sorry family.

And as much as it originally upset me, we've also done away with getting a real tree. No need to carve out time to go pick out a tree, and I can decorate earlier without having to worry that the tree will dry out and become a fire hazard. That's like 3 stresses eliminated right there! (You like how I justify a fake tree to myself, lol!).

I don't know if this is enough, but I hope it's a start to reduce my holiday stresses. Hey, it's better than nothing. And if this weekend was any indication, I think it's working (knock on wood). After I got back from Christmas shopping with the boys, I actually said to Adam that I hardly feel stressed at all right now (and then I had to pick his jaw up off the floor).

The tree went up on Dec 1, teacher gifts are done, cousins presents are almost all done, Adam's presents are bought. Overall, I think I'm about halfway done with shopping, which may be unheard of for me this early in December.

{alazycrazylife} {alazycrazylife}

If I can wrap a present or two every night (which I hate) and find some time this weekend to do even more shopping (and/or crafting), dare I say I might have time to relax before Christmas? We'll see, there's still plenty of time for the ish to hit the fan and my own personal stress monster to rear its ugly head, so I'm not holding my breath. ☺

Things could get cray. Like this silly girl who apparently likes to eat our decorations.

Any other tips for reducing holiday stresses (aside from the obvious spiked eggnog, of course ☺)?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Just four gifts.

As a kid, I remember walking into our living room on Christmas morning and seeing the tree all lit up with a room full of presents, and it was an amazing feeling. Maybe even more amazing than the presents themselves. It was the anticipation that I relished and I truly felt the magic of Christmas.

I really want to make Christmas as magical for my kids as it always was for me, make all of their gift wishes come true but also make sure they understand the true meaning of Christmas and the value of giving.

But something's got to give in that equation because it just doesn't all fit. How can I teach my kids that it's better to give than to receive when I've been unintentionally equating a magical Christmas to filling a room full of gifts for them? I think I need to retrain my brain, and theirs. 

I mean, I WANT to give to them. And I know the grandparents WANT to give to them. I love seeing their faces light up when they see a room full of gifts, and the excitement of opening their presents. That's the magic for me. And for them, because duh, presents.

The haul from last year. Although to be fair, there are presents for cousins/grandparents/etc. under the tree as well. A room that gets filled with presents overnight is magical when you're a kid!

But my kids already have SO much. The toys are overtaking our house and the more they get, the less each gets played with (and the less room we have for more). Don't get me wrong, they'd play with them all if they had the time, but that's not reality. And I hate to see toys go to waste when there are so many other kids out there with barely a fraction of what my kids have.

I don't want Christmas to turn into one big gift grab. If that's the biggest focus, I worry that we'll lose focus on all of the other things that make Christmastime truly special. What I want them to learn is that a magical Christmas doesn't necessarily have to mean more gifts for them, before they start taking it all for granted. Christmas should be just as much about family, traditions, and the excited feeling you get when you see your tree all lit up and decorated, or you bake cookies for Santa, or you pick out a special gift for someone who wouldn't otherwise get anything, and you watch someone smile as they open a gift you picked out especially for them.

I've thought a lot about this recently, and based on some Pinterest inspiration from last year, Adam and I have decided to pare down our gift giving this year in an effort to simplify and focus on enjoying the anticipation and the spirit of the season.

They'll each get just 4 gifts from us: something they want, something they need, something to play and something to read. Santa will also come, but we told the boys we've asked him to take it easy on the gifts this year to make sure there's more to go around for the people who need them. And we'll help Santa out by participating in our local rescue mission's toy/book drive through school. They'll also be very involved in deciding what to get the people on their gift list, now that they're old enough to keep a secret ☺.

We've explained what we are doing this year and why, and I think they're on board. It makes them sad to know that some kids don't get any gifts, and they realize that our house is full of toys. I don't know if that makes them appreciate their toys more, but it certainly does give them perspective. Logan was excited to pick out a book for us to donate, which made me happy to see.

In the meantime, we've already been enjoying the season.

Decorating our tree, listening to Christmas music, finding Jack the Elf every day, and shopping for the cousins and Lorelai (she stayed home to nap while I took Aidan and Logan out this weekend).

Now if only I could find the time to go shopping for everyone *else* on my list, including the boys...

So tell me: How does everyone else achieve balance? Am I crazy for worrying about this now while they're still young and believe in Santa?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How do you reason with a crazy person?

I don't even know how to start this post, other than to say that Logan did it again. He went absolutely crazy and I had no idea what to do. I'm an emotional wreck right now and completely questioning my abilities as a parent. (Bear with me on the rambling, I'm hoping I'll feel better if I write this out...)

Yesterday morning, Adam left early to go out of town again so I was on daycare and bus duty. Not much changes with our routine, except the boys have to leave the house about 15 minutes earlier than they do when Adam takes them to the bus, but they're usually ready anyway. Unfortunately, we didn't have any pop tarts, and apparently that was the only thing Logan was willing to eat, so he freaked out. Refused to do anything I asked (it's a miracle he even got into the van with me), including getting on the bus. He was refusing to go to school, saying over and over that he hates school and won't go.

I literally had to drag him onto the bus and block the door so he couldn't run out. His bus driver (a total saint!) ended up parking the bus in the middle of the road so he could get out and physically pick Logan up kicking and screaming to wrestle him (with my permission) into his seat which took a great bit of effort, apparently with some help on Aidan's part to keep him in the seat. All the while, I'm in hysterics on the side of the road watching helpless, as cars are looking on waiting to pass.

I was mortified and sick to my stomach with fear, sadness and helplessness. Fear that Logan would try to run off the bus into traffic, hurt someone or get suspended. Sadness that my sweet boy gets like this. Helplessness over the whole situation and the fact that I have NO idea what to do when he gets like this, or how to snap him out of it. There's no reasoning with him when he gets like this. No amount of bargaining, bribing, punishing, guilt or pleading I do has any effect.

The good news is that he made it to school safe and sound, and after some serious convincing to get him off the bus and into the building, had a decent day at school and didn't get suspended. I was hoping he would be forced to go to the principal's office and that would scare him straight, but all he got was a friendly chat with the vice principal in the hall to make sure he was ok.

I, on the other hand, pretty much cried all day (left work early and all). Why does he do this? Why does it seem to only happen with me? What have I done wrong? What do people think of me? What does Logan think of me??

We did have a good conversation when he got home about how what he did was wrong, and he seemed sorry and seemed to get it. I explained that his actions have consequences and he has to be punished (he's grounded for the rest of the week, and on technology restriction through the weekend) so he knows it's wrong and won't want to do it again. He said he doesn't like seeing me cry and only says he doesn't like school when he gets upset like that. But he said he doesn't know why he gets so upset like that. And he clearly doesn't know how to calm himself down, so I have no confidence that my calm chat with him will have any impact on future behavior.

As much as it hurts me to admit, I'm thinking it might be time to call in some professional help again. I need someone to tell me what to do to prevent this, or how to snap him out of his insanity, because whatever I'm doing just isn't working. He doesn't respect my authority--I have no control over my own child. That's terrible. I'm scared for his future and my sanity.

I said it before, I'll say it again: I just want my sweet Logan back. I can't go through this again.


And even though I fear being judged--both me and Logan--maybe by putting this out there, someone will have some advice for me, or at least tell me I'm not alone. Maybe?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Jack is back

Our elf of the shelf, Jack, came back to visit the weekend after Thanksgiving. He's a very polite and observant elf, not mischievous like some of the elves out there who make messes. I guess we lucked out, because there's no way I want to clean up an elf's mess when I already have 3 kids to clean up after! :) He just moves around from place to place every day and stays out of trouble. Simple enough.

His favorite place to hang out when he first comes to visit is Aunt Sarah's painting, in plain view as soon as the kids come out of their rooms in the morning.


Lorelai saw him first this year, and I'm so mad that I didn't get her amazing reaction on video. She was SO excited. She couldn't wait to tell the boys, and they were happy to tell her all about Jack since was too young last year to remember. She kept squatting down and pointing at him, saying "That man not scare me. He not scare me." And when the boys said we weren't allowed to touch him, she said "That man not touch me." It was hilarious.

I did catch her on video when she found him on day 2. The boys had no luck finding him, but Lorelai found him pretty much right away. What I missed on video is her asking her doll where Jack was. This was only a fraction of how excited she was when she first saw him.

They've had so much fun looking for him every day. And Lorelai loves to talk to him. One night during story time, she got off my lap 3 times to tell Jack goodnight and love you. Super cute.


Now if I could just get the boys to stop fighting over who finds him first. Logan has been sneaking out of bed in the mornings to look for him before Aidan gets up, and then bragging that he found Jack first. Then when Lorelai finds him, she tells the boys she found him first. Oy.

Monday, December 3, 2012

30 days of thankful

Although I may not specifically say it every day, I'm very thankful for the big things in my life like my family, my overall good health, the fact that I have a good job, a nice house, reliable vehicles, etc. I really try to not take any of that for granted.

But lately I've really been trying to make a conscientious effort to really appreciate the little things that I'm thankful for. It's something I've been working on with the boys--having a positive attitude and being grateful for all that we've been blessed with. We truly have so much and I want to take the time to recognize that. All of these little things add up to an overall positive outlook on life, which is just so important.

So in honor of the month of Thanksgiving, we did a couple things to help us focus on what we're thankful for. I've wanted to do it for a couple of year, and this year I finally created a "Thankful jar" for all of us to write something we're thankful for each day.


Unfortunately I wasn't really diligent about doing it every day (it got lost in the shuffle of our post-dinner/homework/bedtime routine) but the boys wrote down some great things. Logan is thankful for his family, animals, food, life, trees, land, life, eating dinner, and the movies. Aidan is thankful for his family, many toys, having a nice substitute at school, education, recess, his house, chatting with mommy, and the movies. These were all unprompted. I'm proud! Hopefully Lorelai will be able to participate next year.

I also participated in #30daysofthankful on Instagram, taking a picture of something I was thankful for on each day of the month. (If you follow me, this is old news. If you don't follow me, you should. Ha! I'm alazycrazylife.)

Day 1: Thankful for lots of Halloween candy!
Day 2: Thankful for the right to vote and the fact that early voting made it so easy and quick.
Day 3: Thankful for family game night with my boys.

Day 4: Thankful for this silly little girl and how well she plays with the boys (and how well they share their toys with her).
Day 5/6: (oops, missed a day) Doubly thankful for Adam, who stayed home with the boys since school was out, made us dinner AND did the dishes, and still had time to play with the kids. #myhubbyisawesome

Day 7: Thankful for my morning cup(s) of coffee after staying up too late watching election coverage.
Day 7 part deux: Thankful that a bath changed Lorelai's mood after some horrible tantrums. (This most definitely deserved the extra thanks!)
Day 8: Thankful I took a day off work for some me-time to shop.

 Day 9: Thankful Adam was finally back in town!
Day 10: Thankful for bike-riding weather and a cul-de-sac to ride in.
Day 11: Thankful for a family breakfast outing with Adam, Lorelai and these handsome boys

Day 12: Thankful for bath time bubbles with my sweet girl.
Day 13: Thankful to be curled up on the couch relaxing after a really long day at work. Also thankful for my sister on her birthday. Cheers!
Day 14: Thankful for story time with my boys.

Day 15: Thankful for my 3 sweeties and their spontaneous group hugs because they love each other so much. That morning, Lorelai got one foot out the door and than ran back inside to kiss her boys goodbye.
Day 16: Thankful that Logan can read to me now. He's gotten so good lately!
Day 17: Thankful for a fun lunch and shopping outing with my family. (Also thankful that Adam was able to go back to a different Bath and Body Works that week so they could refund they amount they overcharged us because the lady had no idea how to properly ring up our items with coupons.)

Day 18: Thankful for Target and the Starbucks in there. One stop shopping for the win. ☺
Day 19: Thankful for Zumba and friends to go with.
Day 20: Thankful for these flowers Aidan brought me from his class Thanksgiving lunch. Also very thankful that my mom could go to his lunch since both Adam and I were stuck in meetings.

Day 21: Thankful for paid time off to spend quality time with these handsome boys.
Day 22: Thankful for good food and family, especially that my family and Adam's family can celebrate Thanksgiving all together.
Day 23: Thankful that Lorelai had a long nap and started to feel better after being up several times the night before cough-puking.

Day 24: We got a little stir-crazy in the house, so I was thankful for a trip to Chili's and then Sweet Frog with my loves.
Day 25: Thankful for silly moments like this (Lorelai insisted the mustache shold go on her chin) in a day filled with way too many toddler tantrums.
Day 26: Thankful for my crock pot and the yummy chicken tortilla soup that took a couple minutes of prep time and made my house smell amazing.

Day 27: Thankful for the exercise channel because without it, my already limited exercise regimen would be virtually nonexistent.
Day 28: So thankful that as soon as Adam heard I was sick (stomach bug), he ditched his work meeting and hopped on the earliest flight out of ATL so he could be home with me. I wasn't the only one glad to see him, either. ☺
Day 29 (not pictured, bummer): Thankful that Aidan and Logan helped me prep dinner (they made the toast) and get it on the table.
Day 30: Thankful for my work's quarterly team movie outing. We saw Skyfall and I thought it was good!

There's so SO much more I could include on a list of things I'm thankful for in my life--this is just a start. Being overwhelmed with gratitude is an amazing feeling. ☺

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I confess: I hate cooking

This isn't much of a revelation, and hate may be a bit of a strong word, but I find no joy in cooking like some people do. It's just another chore at the end of the day for me that I dread. Maybe if I was better about meal planning, it wouldn't be as much of a chore, but I still envy people who like to cook and have a talent for making delicious meals. I mean, I'm not a bad cook, I'm just not inventive or passionate about it (to say the least).

As much as I like food, I just wish I had a personal chef to cook for me so I could enjoy the food without all the work. That's not too much to ask, right? Ha!

Since that's not my reality and I'm too budget- and health-conscious to eat out all the time, the meals I fix at home need to be quick and simple. With the boys needing help with homework and Lorelai needing my undivided attention, I just don't have the time to stand over a stove for any length of time.

And here's where we get to the easiest meal I've probably ever made (legit meal--frozen pizza and chicken nuggets don't count). The fact that it's inexpensive, doesn't require a trip to the store for fresh ingredients (yay cans!), is pretty darn healthy and my kids love it is just icing on the cake.

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup
(originally from the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook, with my modifications added in)

crockpot chicken tortilla soup {alazycrazylife}
(yikes, clearly my food photography skills need work...It's yummy, I promise!)

  • 4 chicken breast halves (I've cut back to 3 to save some money on meat and I don't miss the extra one at all since it's all shredded and mixed up at the end anyway)
  • 2 15-oz. cans black beans, undrained
  • 2 15-oz. cans Mexican stewed tomatoes or Rotel tomatoes (I usually use southwestern style diced tomatoes)
  • 1 cup salsa (any heat you prefer, I use mild)
  • 4-oz can chopped green chilies (I don't like spicy things at all and have never bought green chilies in my life so I omit this)
  • 14 1/2-oz. can tomato sauce (I've used pasta sauce when I didn't have enough tomato sauce, nbd)
  • Corn, eyeball it I guess? (I keep meaning to add this, but always forget since it's not in the original recipe. Can't vouch for it, but I'm guessing it probably doesn't suck if you like corn! But I obviously think it's great without the corn, too.)
  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream
  • tortilla chips

Literally all you have to do is put your chicken breasts in your large crockpot, dump in everything except the cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips and cook on low for about 8 hours. I put frozen chicken breasts in my pot with all the ingredients and then into the fridge the night before so the chicken thaws a bit, and then start it before I leave for work. Most times it ends up cooking for closer to 9 hours, but since you're shredding the chicken anyway, cooking it a little longer doesn't matter.

When you get home, enjoy the amazing smell as you walk in the door (a very important step). Go outside and come back in, if you want. Then just before serving, shred the chicken with a fork and mix it up. Let it sit a little longer (or don't, it's probably good to go) and serve with shredded cheese, tortilla chips and sour cream. Bon appetit!

The recipe says this makes 6-8 servings. In my experience, it's enough for 2 generous adult portions (large bowl), 2 boy-sized portions (medium bowl) and one baby portion (small bowl) with probably about 3-4 servings left over. It freezes well, and you can do tacos/burritos or even a spin on enchiladas with the leftovers as well.

I'd love to hear any more super easy recipes you have! I'm clearly stuck in a food rut and need some help out before my family turns into frozen pizza and chicken nuggets :) (Ok, it's not that bad, but still...)

Linking up with Megan and Heather.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A relaxing Thanksgiving break

I'm so thankful for a lot of things, both big and small, in my life. But I'd have to say that at this moment (on the Monday after vacation, ugh!), taking time off from work and spending lazy days around the house with my family is at the top of my list.

"Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it's essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow." ~Douglas Pagels, These Are the Gifts I'd Like to Give to You

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coffee and blogs with a snuggly girl next to me on the couch? Yes please.

I took off Wednesday and Friday with no grand plans for the long weekend. Well, one grand plan: take the boys to see Wreck-It Ralph. We hit up the mall on Wednesday for lunch and some shopping before the movie, just the four of us.


The movie got 8 thumbs up. :)


I love that the boys begged us to look around the book store. Much to their disappointment, we left with only some multiplication flash cards for Aidan in an effort to save some gift ideas for Christmas. We browsed around places like the candy store, Crate and Barrel (and got some ideas for Christmas crafts!), and Urban Outfitters with hardly a complaint from them. (Side note: never going in that store again with young children who can read. Holy inappropriate everything, batman! We didn't stay for long, but I had to tell Aidan to look away from numerous books, posters and t-shirts. I should have known better.)

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Gotta be honest, it was weird having a family fun day without our girl. She was greatly missed, but daycare was open and she's too young to not only sit through a movie, but sit through it quietly, so it was best to let her have fun with her friends and her teacher, Miss Donna. I don't think she missed us too much. In fact, as I was getting her changed on Sunday morning, she said "we gotta go mommy." When I asked her where, she said "to see my Donna." It would have been downright cruel to take away an extra day with her Donna :)


Thanksgiving itself was even relaxing (unlike last year), thanks to my amazing mom and in-laws doing the majority of the work. My mom hosted and did some side dishes, and my in-laws brought the turkey and some more side dishes/dessert. All Adam and I had to do was show up with the kids and something green, and we were good to go. I slaved over the stove for a good 10 minutes steaming some broccoli and making the green bean casserole. :)

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And then for the rest of the long weekend, we pretty much just vegged. We ate, hung out with family, played lots of games, and watched way too much tv. (Although much of it was Nat Geo type educational shows--komodo dragons are no joke and chameleons are cool!) I literally wore sweats and didn't wash my hair from Friday through Sunday. Disclaimer before I start sounding too gross: I did shower and technically did put on jeans with my sweatshirt for a couple of hours on Saturday when we went out to eat. I also put on some makeup because I'm too vain to leave the house without it, so yeah.

Lorelai, on the other hand, wore her pajama pants outside to play.

I will say that I dusted some stuff, mopped the floor and Adam vacuumed (which is momentous in our house--shameful), and we did go outside for some fresh air with the kids. But overall, I was just lazy enough to feel kind of bad about not doing more. Not getting the house all decorated for Christmas (way to make me feel extra lazy, instagram feed, full of hard core Christmas decorating!), not going Black Friday shopping (wait, I totally don't feel bad for not doing that!), not cleaning my toilets (oops, my secret is out)...


But I'm not going to be too hard on myself, because it's not often that I get that much dedicated time to sit around and do nothing except spend quality time with my family. You better believe I'm going to take advantage of it when I can!



There's always next weekend for Christmas decorating. I figured, Thanksgiving was pretty early this year, so waiting one weekend is no big deal. Christmas shopping though...OMG, the thought gives me anxiety. Wonder how long I can put that off? What I need to do is curl up on the couch in my sweats and do all of my shopping online. :) Too bad I kind of missed the boat on cyber Monday deals and have no idea what to get anyone on my list...

Hope everyone had an awesome Thanksgiving break!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Q&A time

A while back a few lovely bloggers were kind enough to tag me in a blog award/Q&A to show appreciation and get  know each other better. But since I'm totally lame, I never ended up participating. So I'm going to take a cue from Ariel and just answer some of the questions anyway without tagging anyone else. Questions like this are always fun and I'd love to hear answers to these questions from any other blog friends who want to play along :)

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Here's a combination of questions from Melanie, Krystle and Mia:
  1. Your favorite sweet treat? Wow, it's impossible to pick just one since I have such a sweet tooth! If we're not talking candy, I'd be mostly likely to pick creme brulee or tiramisu off a dessert menu. Or  cheesecake. Or key lime pie. Just not fruit pies (apple, blueberry, etc.) since I don't like pie crust.
  2. If you won $50,000 what would you use it for? I'd hire someone to finally paint my kitchen cabinets and do some master bathroom upgrades, take the kids to Disney, go on a vacation with Adam, and bank anything left over. I might also hire someone to clean my house regularly.
  3. Would you rather be to cold or to hot? Definitely too hot.
  4. How often do you vacuum in your house? Can I plead the 5th on this one? Definitely not as often as I should, but I do make sure to vacuum (the downstairs, at least) before company comes over... In my defense, we don't have pets, so there's no visible pet hair to make the carpets look dirty.
  5. What time do you normally go to bed? Ideally, 10pm. But depending on how many shows we have to watch, it ends up being more like 10:30 or 11, and then I get mad at myself every morning when my alarm goes off.
  6. Coffee or Tea? I never drank coffee regularly until my first full time job out of college. Now I drink coffee every morning and hot tea (peppermint or green) most afternoons. So I guess both, but if I had to choose, coffee would definitely win.
  7. If you could vacation anywhere you wanted, where would it be? Again, so hard to choose because I'd love to explore Europe, but if we're talking a relaxing vacation, it would have to be somewhere tropical. Hawaii, Tahiti, Aruba...
  8. What is your biggest pet peeve? Teachers who have terrible grammar and communication skills. If you can't spell, punctuate appropriately, or use proper subject/verb agreement, I lose respect for you and your ability to properly teach and grade my child.
  9. The first car you owned? A 1996 Toyota Tercel. Not the coolest car in the world and I sure cursed the clutch in traffic and the vinyl seats in the summer, but I'm SO thankful I had a car right when I turned 16, and it lasted me all the way through 2004 (or was it 2005?). At that point, I certainly wasn't sad to see it go.
  10. Your favorite type of food? To cook? Anything easy, usually Mexican. To eat? Fancy pizza, sushi and shrimp pad thai are some current faves, so I don't really have a specific type I stick to. 
  11. If you could relive one day, what day would it be? It would be a 3-way tie between the day each of my kids was born. I get so nostalgic thinking about the joy, anticipation and excitement I had on each of those days.
  12. What was your favorite childhood toy? I remember saving up my coins for a cabbage patch doll when I was little. I also fondly remember my care bears, popples, and my little ponies.
Is there anything else you want to know about me? I'm open to any questions!

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PS: you can find out more about me here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday's letters

Dear work: Dude, stop stressing me out. And lay off the endless meetings, k?

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Dear Thanksgiving break (aka 3 whole days off next week): I love you and can't wait to see you. XOXO

Dear Logan: I hope you don't start feeling this kind of wild any time soon. Do we need to have a chat about appropriate behavior?

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Dear Aidan: Sweet boy, I'm so sorry Daddy and I can't make it to your class Thanksgiving party next week (stupid work). But don't worry, Grandma Ellie to the rescue, she'll be there!

Dear Lorelai: Good job with the potty training so far, but please poop in the potty. Don't keep holding it in, child! Also, thanks for the sweet hugs!


Dear blogging gods: Please don't jinx me for talking about potty training.

Dear Tossed: Thank for the awesome mediterranean pizza that I've had *two* times this week. Yum!

Dear holiday weight gain: Please, just no. Pretty please? I promise to get better about working out if you let me enjoy my halloween candy and Thanksgiving food without bothering me.

Dear Zumba: I miss you. It's been like 3 whole weeks. I'll be back soon, I swear.

Dear Sister: Happy Birthday! I'm looking forward to celebrating with you at lunch tomorrow.

TGIF, everyone!!!!!

Linking up with Ashley from Adventures of Newlyweds.