Friday, November 29, 2013

How to Thrive This Holiday Season (part 1)

It seems to start earlier each and every year.

The Christmas songs, the store ads, the Black Friday opening hours and the decorations seem to appear the moment Halloween is over.

The Holiday Season is upon us and with the long crazy to-do list everyone has, and celebrating that happens, it is easy to feel like you are simply trying to make it through.  If you feel like you are just trying to get through the holidays and you never really get a chance to catch your breath, and enjoy what it is all about.  Want/need to get off of the crazy cycle that is the holidays?  Here are my top 10 tips:

1. Keep Your Focus on the REASON for the SEASON
Sure it is the phrase you have heard over and over, but there is a reason for that.  It's TRUE.  Your focus should be on celebrating the greatest present ever to mankind.  Christ's birth is the reason we have Christmas.  Do things that highlight the point of Christmas!

2. Plan Ahead
Come up with a list of things that you want to do.  Activities, parties, celebrations etc.  Create a list and then make a plan as to when these things are going to happen.  Know what you need to say "no" to, and know what you can say yes to.  Make sure you leave some open space for some down time!

3. Don't Start the Season off in a Rush
For me, the Christmas season starts after Thanksgiving.  For years I have been the crazy person with a baby, racing for a great priced item, trying to cross everything off my Christmas list at once.  Honestly, it starts you off on the wrong foot.  I love a deal as much as the next girl, don't get me wrong, but with using coupons, and shopping after Christmas sales last year my kids gifts for the most part are already purchased.  Sure I will be doing some online shopping to fill it out a bit, but we don't need more STUFF.  Trying to get some great deals is fun, and an adrenaline rush but it is also stressful.  Instead, we are blessed with the internet, and you can do most of your shopping from the comfort of your own home, and leave the crowds and chaos behind.

4. Celebrate
Honestly celebrate.  Embrace the fun, the party like atmosphere.  God sent us an amazing gift, each year we spend time celebrating, but we don't seem to actually celebrate.  We rush around, give/get gifts.  Embrace the JOY of the season and truly celebrate the birth of our Savior.

5. Control the Chaos
Things can spin out of control rather quickly this time of year.  Take the time to stop and refocus when you start to feel overwhelmed.  It is so easy for things to pile up for us to loose it.  Try and make time to stop and reconfigure when things start to get out of control.  Did you spend to much money?  Return something.  It isn't the end of the world.  Are you getting overbooked?  It's ok to say no (see #2),

These are just a few tips.  There will be more later.

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Our Trip To Disneyland

My amazing Mother-in-law gave my son an AMAZING 3rd Birthday present.  She sent us to Disneyland for two days with some spending money.  I've always been a Disney girl at heart, but even though I didn't get to go on any of my top rides, it was one of my favorite trips ever!  If you follow me on instagram, you got to see some of these pictures, but let me tell you, the sheer joy on my sons face the ENTIRE time practically had me in happy tears the whole time.  He loved every minute of it.  Here are some of the pictures.

Both kids wore their Mickey ears on and off during the trip.  It made me smile to watch them be a part of Disneyland, and all of the history of it.  Yes, I know I'm a Disney nerd.

 We started with a Chip & Dale's Critter Breakfast at the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa.  Max The Birthday Boy LOVED every second of it.  His sister... not so much (so no pictures of her were taken with characters, for the most part).  

We all enjoyed King Author's Carousel, and baby girl said "weeeeee" the whole time.  Absolutely adorable.

 Baby girl also decided to scream and throw a fit every time we had to get off a ride.  Apparently, she liked them THAT MUCH!

I know that my big boy had an amazing birthday, because his face was like this:

... THE WHOLE TIME!!!  I was in mama heaven watching him have so much fun and being so excited about everything.

Poor baby girl passed out while waiting to meet Mickey, but I got some pretty sweet cuddles, so I was ok with it.

 We had an amazing time!  It was such a wonderful blessing to us as a family.

We were also blessed to have Matt's wonderful sister with us to help us wrangle and spoil the kids.

Our Birthday Boy got a lightsaber 
 and was in HEAVEN when he got to drive a car

Baby girl got to meet Minnie Mouse, and DIDN'T CRY!  Though she wouldn't go up to her by herself either.

 Overall, it was a GREAT family trip!

We didn't get to take a vacation this summer, or even just a weekend away with just the four of us, so this was such a nice break together.  We LOVED every minute of it, except having to say goodbye.

Hopefully we will be back sooner than later.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Menu

This is going to be a CRAZY week for us.  Three nights this week I have to be back at work by 6pm

Monday - Pasta
Tuesday - Left overs
Wednesday - Pizza Rolls
Thursday - Kids - quick fix (probably mac and chesse and hotdogs) Me- Mystery shop dinner
Friday -  Potato Soup

Hope you have a great week!

Ps I'm linking up with the OrgJunkie!  If you are stoping by from there, please say Hi!

3 Years Old

Big Boy,

I can not believe how true those words ring in my ears.  You are indeed a Big Boy now.  You have had an amazing year!  You started the year in diapers, but soon upgraded to big boy undies.  You moved into a big boy bed.  You started having actual conversations with people, and now you barely stop talking!  You discovered your love for outdoors, parks and playing.  You love books, superhero's and building.  You discovered your love for movies especially with mommy cuddles.

You are coming into your own, and sometimes it a bit too hard for this momma to handle.

You have the best laugh in the entire world!  Your smile melts my heart.  You are stubborn just like your momma, and have a hard time accepting things you don't want to do.  You love to play and tease and run and hide.  Your gusto for life never ceases to amazing me.  You greet each morning with so much joy.  Even though, most of the time I wish you would let me wake up and have my coffee first, or sleep in just a little longer, I love your passion for life.  You started Awana this year and LOVE it.  You are always excited to go to church to see your teachers.  I pray your love for Church and seeking God will only grow as you get bigger.

Happy 3rd Birthday to my sweet little man!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Answer

I was surprised for a number of reasons, but when I think about it I shouldn't have been.

It is the answer that I started with.

It has been staring me in the face this whole time, and I didn't realize it.

I rediscovered why this blog matters...

I have been bombarded, both in person (by people who I know in real life), via email, facebook and other means of communication about how much people appreciated/identified with my Finding Balance post.

You see, I knew it when I named my blog.  I was honest, and it was the most honest title I could choose.  Homemaking Challenged.  I started out originally (see my very first post here) to give myself an additional motivation, to track my journey in becoming a true homemaker.  I poured over fabulous blogs, hoped onto pinterest in the early days, and always fell short.  Way short.  I was determined that if I had a blog, and tracked my journey it would force me to become a better homemaker.

I attempted to laugh over my "failures" as a homemaker on the blog.  I attempted to not be discouraged when going over to others homes and seeing their beautiful space.  Honestly, I felt alone.  I mean the "messy" shots on some of my favorite blogs, were no where near my reality.  I obviously have way to much work to do on me and my home to even compare.

After going through my 31 day series and the feedback from people with my final post, I realized what I was doing wrong.

People want real.  They don't just want to see the "pinterest worthy" project, but the hard stuff too.  They want to know that they aren't the only ones struggling, they want to know that they aren't the only ones who's bedroom is a disaster zone so that they can have company over in the living room.  I am going to strive to have more balance on my blog, and be more transparent with even the ugly stuff.  I want you to know that you aren't alone.

A quick sidebar for an example.  My son right now, is on a "lets throw EVERYTHING on the floor" phase.  We are working on the now we have to clean it up phase, but we are still working on it.  Thus, his room looks like this:

It is a work in progress.  The kids already have too much stuff.  My son's birthday is Friday, and then comes Christmas.  We are purging, I just have to do it without the kids around, because then they discover "new" toys and things they haven't touched in who knows how long becomes their most prized possession.  (Any other mom's relate?)

My point is, the answer has been staring me in the face.  I am a work in progress, I am Homemaking Challenged, but so are many others.  I am not alone in this journey and neither are you.  We are all people in progress at different places in our own unique journey.  We can not compare, we should not judge, we can encourage and inspire.

I hope that is what this blog will do.  Encourage and inspire others to join the journey and become less Homemaking Challenged.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Homemaking Challenged's Pizza Bunt

At long last, this recipe I have been promising. I so excited to FINALLY share it with you.  It has become a family favorite.  I am especially proud of the photos on this one.  I'm still learning, but these pictures are leaps and bounds above my other recipes to date.  If you aren't into the photos, than you can skip down to the bottom for the full recipe and ingredients list.

First gather your ingredients.
 2 packages of pre-made Pizza dough (we use Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup butter melted
garlic powder
shredded mozzarella cheese

Honestly use a a ton of cheese I use AT LEAST 3 if not four cups of shredded cheese. Use what you feel comfortable with.

The dough must rest for 20 minutes, while I allow the oven to heat up to 375 degrees (I use a dark non-stick pan, if yours isn't you may want to turn it up to 400 degrees)

Then you flatten ONE of the dough balls, and cut it into 1inch pieces.  I use a pizza cutter, it is very effective.

Then smother your dough in 1/4 cup of the butter with garlic powder to taste.
 Place half of it in to the bottom of your bunt
 Place a healthy amount of cheese on top
 Layer the pepperonis
 Add the remaining half onto the top.

Repeat this process with the second dough ball, so that you have three layers of cheese and pepperoni.   You will have to recut the second dough, and then mix it with the remaining butter and garlic.

Finnish this whole bunt off with copious amounts of cheese.  Then place it in the oven for 25-35 minutes. until it looks like this:

Flip it out of the pan onto a plate to serve.

We like to heat up marinara sauce and put it inside for dipping.

Let the wonderful cheesy pizza-y goodness explode in your mouth

Even my picky toddler loves this one!

I hope that you will enjoy this as much as my family.

Pizza Bunt From Homemaking Challenged

2 packages of pre-made Pizza dough (we use Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup butter melted
garlic powder to taste
shredded mozzarella cheese

Allow dough to be at room temperature (approx. 20-30 minutes)
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F (400 if you aren't using a dark nonstick pan)
Take one dough ball, stretch it out, and cut it into approx. 1'' squares.
Take the squares and roll them in 1/4 cup of melted butter with garlic powder
Place half the dough in the bottom of the pan
Layer cheese, pepperonis and remaining dough (from the 1st dough ball)
Layer cheese, pepperonis
Take the second dough ball, stretch it out, and cut it into approx. 1'' squares
Take the squares and roll them in 1/4 cup of melted butter with garlic powder
Place half the dough in the pan
Layer cheese, pepperonis
Place the remaining dough in the pan
Smoother the top with cheese
Place in the oven for 25-35 minutes until golden brown
Flip onto a place and serve with warm marinara sauce
Slice, and ENJOY!

Sharing at these link parties: House of Rose, Reasons to Skip the House Work, A Bowl Full of Lemons, My Life of Travels and Adventures 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What would you do?

I was listening to the radio the other day, and the DJ mentioned a survey in which the question was asked:

If you had an extra $100 to spend per month, what would you do with it?

My mind was in a quick whirl as to what I would choose.  Then the DJ revealed the most stated answer.  I immediately identified with it and nodes my head vigorously.  Pretty sure that the car next to me thought I was head banging to some heavy metal...

The answer resignated very deeply with me.  In fact, I already had asked my husband for this for Christmas. (Babe, if you are reading this PRETTY PLEASE!)  Are you ready?

A House Cleaning Service

I barely imagine the thought of walking into my home, and it looking spotless.  The fact that everything was done, and my home looked it's best.  The better part?  I didn't have to do it myself!  The glorious feeling would sit with me and I would soak it in for a few moments.  My kids would then destroy it, but that feeling that my home was perfect would stay.  How glorious would that be?  I'm not saying that is what I would do with an extra $100 each month, but it would FOR SURE be in the running!

There is a second part to this story, but that is for another time.  For now I want to know...

If you had an extra $100 per month, what would you do with it?

Please let me know by commenting below!  I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thankful for and Smiling about

Today I am sharing my 3rd ever Vlog, and am linking up with Mandy from House of Rose for Stop and Smell the Roses, where we share things we are thankful for or things that are making us smile.


If you missed my 31 Day series, please check it out here.  The book that I went though was truly amazing, and you can buy it for your kindle or as a PDF ebook.

I always enjoy stoping and reminding myself of the good things in life.  Things we are thankful for, that are making us smile.  There is so much we just pass by in the business of life.  Its good to take time to stop and smell the roses.

What are you smiling about or thankful for?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Menu Monday

This Menu Monday is a happy one for me, I have actually planned out this week and next!  A first for me in a long while. We are trying to cut back on our trips to the grocery store and our spending as far as food goes.

You can find the recipes for Cranberry Chicken, Potato Soup and BBQ Pork on the blog.

Hope you all have a great week!

PS Linking up with OrgJunkie as always!  If you are stoping by, please say HI!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Dear Strangers...

Dear Home Depot Kids Staff,
Thank you for taking pity on my trying to help two children build and paint their projects today.  It isn't easy to do that by myself.  Glad you think my kids are cute and offered all smiles to us.  It started my morning off on a happy note.

Dear Mom of 3 at Target,
Thank you for your kind words and understanding while my almost three year old ran past you and down a different aisle than me.  It always sucks to be the mom with the out of control kid, while other shoppers are staring.  Your kind words helped me bear the next 10 minutes of my son crying because he had to sit in the cart for the duration of our trip.

Dear Fellow Target Shoppers,
You caught my kids on an off day.  I'm sorry.  Yes, I should have gone home, but I had things I needed to buy and coupons that expired today.  I apologize that you were forced to endure my kids doing the following:  Singing at the top of her lungs, crawling on the floor and roaring link a lion, hanging on the cart in an unsafe manor, babbling like a crazy person, spilling a water bottle everywhere, attempting to dive out of the basket of the cart, and attempting to steal the bar you use to separate your items from those ahead of and behind you, after using it as a drumming stick.  I also apologize for having to repeat myself what I'm sure felt like 10,000,000 times and sounding like a broken record.  I should have given up, and gone home but I was on a mission.

I don't know if you have ever had a day where you shouldn't have even considered bringing your kids out in public, but at the same time, you desperately needed to get out of the house, but that was me today.  My husband had work calls the whole day (which we are so thankful for because work has been slow for him lately) so I was on my own most of the day.  I also had a huge todo list.  It didn't get done.  The kids went to bed early tonight, they have had a long week, they were wiped out.  We are in trouble tomorrow morning with the time change, but they need to sleep, and so do I.

Here is to a better tomorrow, and knowing that I am not the only mom in the world who has had her kids melt down in a store.