Posts Tagged ‘meal plan’

This week, Derrick will be visiting his Mom and Kaitie & Gracie will be home. So we will be having a Pizza & a Movie night with some baking, too!

Here is this week’s menu…


Lunch ~ Apple Swiss Turkey Sandwiches and Smart Food white cheddar popcorn

I found this recipe in the “Good Food Kids Love” mini recipe mag from “Taste of Home”. I’m a sucker for their recipe books! They always have plenty that I find interesting. This turned out to be a delicious sandwich! All the kids ate theirs. I love finding new sandwiches – the same ones over and over again just get boring!

Dinner ~ Chicken Stuffed Shells

I saw a few stuffed shells recipes while I was going through my cookbooks doing this week’s meal planning, and I decided to make my own with ground chicken. Gracie is not a big fan of most meats, but she loves poultry. So, this one’s for her! This dinner disappeared fast! Memo to me…cut up the shells for the kids next time. They ate the stuffing and picked up the shells with their fingers!

Chicken Stuffed Shells

1 pound package of ground chicken

1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning (I like Emeril’s)

1 cup of minced carrots (I like to finely chop shredded carrots)

1 medium onion, diced small

1 celery stalk, diced small

2 cloves of garlic

salt & pepper to taste

homemade or jarred tomato sauce

12 large pasta shells

Parmesan cheese

olive oil

Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Add olive oil to preheated pan. Add carrots, onions, celery, and garlic. Sweat the veggies until they are soft, then add the ground chicken, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cook the chicken through while mixing the ingredients together. Add about a cupful of the pasta sauce to the chicken mixture, stir to combine. Stuff the pasta shells and arrange in a dish, then cover with sauce and sprinkle with cheese.


Lunch ~ fruit & cheese kabobs with cinnamon yogurt dip and pretzel sticks

This lunch could not be any easier. Wash, cut, and skewer grapes, strawberries and cheese cubes. Add some cinnamon to vanilla yogurt, and you’re good to go. Just make sure to pack enough skewers to fill ’em up.

Dinner ~ beef, bean, and avocado tacos

Any variation on a taco theme is a huge hit at our house! Here’s our version of tacos. I like the Garden of Eatin’ taco shells – make sure to heat them in the oven a bit before you stuff them. I like to brown the ground beef with a packet of taco seasoning, then mix in a can of refried beans (Amy’s are my favorite). I stuff the shellswith the beef & bean mixture, two slices of avocado, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, chopped black olives, finely chopped green onions, and sour cream. Everyone’s favorite salsa is served on the side. These get wolfed down faster than I can take my first bite!


Lunch ~ Crunchy Vegetable Spread with a fruit cup

This recipe is also from “Taste of Home”. I modified it, using green onions and a few different pepper colors. I also added a teaspoonful of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. This was accompanied by Publix Greenwise’s new wheat crackers – they are really yummy like Wheat Thins, but without  the hydrogenated oils – a major plus in my book!

Dinner ~ Honey Glazed Chicken & Carrots

Yum! This recipe is from Pillsbury’s “Hamburger & Chicken” mini recipe mag. I tried to find it online for you, but can’t. So, here is my modified version of the recipe:

Honey Glazed Chicken & Carrots


Wide egg noodles

olive oil

8 chicken thighs

3 – 4 slices of uncured bacon

1 medium onion

1 package baby carrots

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup red wine vinegar (I used a nice Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

DSC_0016Cook an appropriate amount of the egg noodles for the number of people you are serving. Turn the oven on broil. Place the chicken thighs, skin side up, on a broiler-safe baking sheet. Oil, salt and pepper the chicken. Broil the chicken until the skin is crispy and the internal temperature reaches 175°.

While that is cooking, preheat a large pan over medium heat, then add the bacon and onions. Once the bacon starts to render, add the carrots. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the honey, vinegar and thyme. Stir frequently until the sauce thickens, then add the cooked chicken, skin side down. Lift the pan and shimmy the chicken around in the sauce to get it good and covered. Place the egg noodles in a serving dish, then place the chicken on top, skin side up. Pour the carrot mixture over the top of the chicken.

Try not to eat it all on the way to the table!


Lunch ~ Good ole’ pb&j with a cheese stick and carrots & dip

Dinner ~ Rock Stars with Confetti and Bow Ties

Family Fun’s Family Cookbook has a recipe for pasta with veggie cut outs. I like the idea, so I just changed it up a bit.227 Bell peppers tend to be very heavy on the pesticide, so if you can’t find organic peppers, make sure you wash them thoroughly with veggie wash!I like the way this recipe turned out, so it is very likely to make a reappearance on a future Family Friday Rock Star theme.

Before dinner, we baked a batch of Immaculate Baking Company’s vanilla sugar cookies. I love that they are dairy free and have nothing at all icky in them! I mixed up a quick glaze of powdered sugar and plain Almond Breeze and sprinkled some Let’s Do Organic sprinkles on the top.

Rock Stars with Confetti & Bow Ties225

1 package of boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

1 zucchini

1 large yellow squash

1 medium to large carrot (or a big handful of shredded carrots)229

1 box of bow tie pasta

1 tablespoon of Italian Seasoning

olive oil

Cook the bow tie pasta according to package directions. Using a star shaped mini cookie cutter, cut the veggies into star shapes. No need to throw away the excess – just dice it into “confetti”! Preheat a large pan over medium heat, then add about a tablespoon or so of the oil and chicken. Cook the chicken, then remove it to a plate. Add a bit more oil if necessary, then add the veggie stars and confetti. Cook until desired doneness, then add the chicken back into the pan with the Italian seasoning and cooked pasta. Stir well to combine.  Rock on!

230After dinner, we enjoyed the cookies we made with some ice cream!

Well, mine was made with Turtle Mountain’s Purely Decadent coconut milk ice cream. It’s delicious!!!

Baby Caroline is dairy sensitive, and I don’t do soy, so these products are perfect for me. Their coconut milk yogurt is awesome, too!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s goodies… See you next week! :o)


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I got the idea for this extremely fun tradition from a book called Friday Night Bites: Kick Off the Weekend with Recipes and Crafts for the Whole Family, by Karen Berman. I can’t say I’m excited by the recipes in this book (I may end up using one or two), but I love the format and the ideas! I read through it and decided to modify it to suit my family and what I wanted to get out of this new tradition, namely family time that creates memories for the kids.

For our first Family Friday, I chose the Under the Sea theme because I wanted to see how everything worked out with a relatively simple concept to plan. Besides, I had pretty much everything I might need on hand – perfect in case of potential hiccups in the idea.

I used an old, blue bed sheet for our tablecloth. On the table, I placed a vase with pretty, blue, wavelike swirls and gave one of our betta fish a new home inside. On either side of that, I put the two dolphin snow globes that Kaitie & Gracie’s Nanny & Granddaddy gave them. Scattered on the table were the seashells that I found on my scuba adventures (pre-kid years). On the walls, I hung some lithographs from when I’d pre-purchased “Finding Nemo” at the Disney Store years ago. I even hung balloon “bubbles” from the chandelier!

We were even lucky enough to have my parents over for dinner! Here’s how the day went down…


Breakfast ~ seaweed omelets with apple boatsuts turtle breakfast

uts breakfastTo make the seaweed omelets, saute about 2 cups (or more, depending on how many people will be eating) of chopped baby spinach in butter, then add 1 1/2 beaten eggs per person. Cook gently on medium low heat until the eggs are almost done, then add 1 slice of muenster cheese per person.

The apple boats are just slices made with and apple corer/slicer. I serve the kids breakfast most days with Carnation Instant Breakfast (either chocolate or vanilla) mixed with our local raw milk.

Lunch ~ peanut butter and jellyfish puzzle sandwiches with goldfish crackers

Simple, but super fun! I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, then pressed a fish shaped cookie cutter into the middle of each sandwich. Then, I cut through the middle of all four sides to make it look like puzzle pieces.

Goldfish crackers (a mix of pretzel and original flavors – two of the only ones that don’t have artificial colors or MSG!) are a natural match!

Dinner ~ Publix Apron Meals Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce and Angel Hair Fresca with puff pastry sea stars

uts pbandj fishI love this tilapia recipe! It is so easy to make, and the ingredients are delicious. Here are my substitutions… I used Emeril’s Fish Rub instead of the seasoned salt called for in the recipe, substituted medium sized pasta shells for the angel hair, and used olive oil in place of the butter this time because Caroline’s tiny tummy is very anti-dairy.

The puff pastry sea stars idea came from the Friday Night Bites book. I used a star shaped cookie cutter to make the star shapes, re-rolling the dough until it was used up. Then, I brushed the tops of the stars with olive oil and sprinkled them with sea salt. The stars baked in a 350° oven until they were golden brown and puffy good!

Dessert ~ shipwrecked fruit salad in canteloupe boats

So easy! I washed the outside of the canteloupe and cut it into eight crescent shaped slices. I used the small side ofa melon baller to scoop out balls from the middles of the slices, creating “boats”. I mixed the melon balls with diced pineapple and mandarin oranges. Each boat went into a bowl, surrounded by the mixed fruit. In each boat, I placed a scoop of strawberry sorbet, then sprinkled the tops of each with shredded coconut.uts dinner 2

Craft ~

I had originally planned a craft to be done after dinner, but we completely ran out of time after dinner. I had a hunch things would not go exactly as planned! The craft was going to be an octopus made from cut-outs of their traced hands on construction paper, pasted on a blue background and decorated. I’m sure I’ll be able to re-use that idea later!

In the future, I hope to be able to incorporate some learning activities into the theme, such as learning about sea animals on National Geographic Kids online. All in all, though, I think it was a great start!

Next up…Pirates!!! Arrrrrrrr!!!!!

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So, you may be asking…why meal plans? Well, with six people to feed, three kids in school and a chemical-free lifestyle, I really need to keep track of our food bill! Creating a meal plan for the week helps me to keep track of what we have in the house, what I need to restock, and what elements of the meals I can reuse. And, of course, the reason for posting them here is in hopes that you might get some ideas to help your family.

You can expect to find links to recipes I’ve found online, information about & reviews of recipes from cookbooks, well-rounded lunchbox ideas (don’t we all need those???), food product reviews, and photos. The reason why I offer brand names and product reviews is because I know there are lots of moms out there who don’t have time to read labels and try to find better ways to get healthier food for their families. I’m hoping these reviews will be helpful!!!

You may also be asking why the week begins on Monday and ends on Thursday. On the weekends, we use up the leftovers from the week and sometimes go out to eat. You’ll find Friday’s meal plan (and other fun stuff!) under the Family Friday Tradition category.

So, on to the plan! Any text you see in purple is an original recipe. I hope you like them! They can also be found under the Recipes category.


Lunch ~ Boar’s Head Everroast chicken & Muenster cheese sandwiches, hot house cucumber sticks with ranch dip, and a Dole Fruit Bowl in Gel.

Yum! I love this chicken. I usually only get a half pound of it because any more ends up getting wasted (it’s exactly the right amount for three kid sandwiches and two grown-up versions). So, the kids will see some form of chicken or turkey sandwich in their lunchbox every Monday. Sandwich bread is also a very tricky item to find, health-wise. Granted, packaged bread isn’t healthy in the first place, but choosing a good one is important to me. My current favorite is Arnold’s Soft Honey Wheat. It doesn’t have corn syrup, the flour is unbleached, there is no soy flour (some soybean oil and soy lecithin), and minimal dough conditioners/preservatives.

Hot house (English) cucumbers don’t have seeds, and their skin is thin – much yummier than the other kinds, especially dipped in ranch. The Dole Fruit Bowls in Gel can be tricky. Most of them have artificial colors, but the black cherry one is colored with cochineal extract (It is a natural color, but don’t look it up unless you really want to know what it is!). They do have some artificial flavor added, but in amounts this small, I sometimes let that slide. This was our first time trying these fruit bowls, and they were a big hit with the kids!

Dinner ~ Kickin’ Chicken Thighs & Drums, Alexia ruffle french fries, Bush’s maple baked beans

Kickin’ Chicken kicks some serious chicken booty! Man, this stuff is good! I got this recipe from Kid Favorites Made Healthy from Better Homes and Gardens. It is a simple baked chicken with a customized BBQ sauce that includes ketchup, orange juice, and hot sauce (we like Frank’s). I modified the recipe (I always do that!) and used chicken thighs and drumsticks with skin on. The skin keeps the meat moist and juicy – you don’t have to eat it, but it sure is good! I like to rub the chicken with a little oil and salt & pepper them, put them under the broiler until the skin is nice and crispy, then switch the oven over to 375° to finish the cooking. I use a digital probe thermometer (one of my favorite kitchen tools!) while it cooks to make sure it hits 180°.

I love Alexia’s convenient potato sides, and Bush’s beans are a great standby side dish with lots of protein (and the kids like ’em!).


Lunch ~ salad with raisins and cucumbers, ranch dressing, cheese stick, and Robert’s Veggie Booty

Salad with raisins? Heck, yes! A little burst of chewy sweetness is delicious in a quick, green salad. This salad gives me another opportunity to make use of the cucumber I got for Monday’s lunch. I’ve found that buying heads of romaine can sometimes lead to waste, so I try to plan on exactly when we’ll have salad and get a bag mix of something other than iceberg (Dr. Jim Sears once told me his family calls iceberg “see through lettuce” because it has no nutritional value! Funny, and so true!).

Cheese sticks are great for calcium and protein, and we LOVE Veggie Booty! I’ll do anything to sneak in extra veggies when I can. Even our pickiest of picky eaters, Derrick, will eat these. Kaitie & Gracie would eat them like candy when they were toddlers. Good stuff.

Dinner ~

Chicken and veggie soup with Rice

A meal in a bowl – gotta love homemade soup! This is my recipe. It requires two days, so make sure you plan to make your stock on the day before you want to serve the soup. This is a great way to use veggies that are slightly past their prime and the little garlic cloves in the middle of the head. No need to be fancy! Throw in some baby carrots! Don’t peel the onion – the skin gives the stock nice color! Don’t peel the garlic, either, just use up that head by cutting it in half to expose the cloves down the middle. Making the stock is super easy, but time consuming. Putting the soup together is ridiculously simple, though! This makes enough stock to use for a dinner and frozen supply for recipes later.


Chicken Stock:

1 large fryer chicken (4 – 5 pounds)

2 carrots

1 medium onion

a few cloves of garlic

2 celery stalks

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon of peppercorns

1 Tablespoon sea salt

1 Tablespoon cooking oil

Pre-heat a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot  on medium heat (I use my big honkin’ Le Creuset enameled cast iron pot that I love.). Add the vegetable oil, carrots, celery, onion,garlic, bay leaf, and the contents of the gizzard packet from inside the chicken. Yes, really. Allow the veggies to soften slightly and release their yummy aromatics. Stir to prevent burning. Add the whole chicken and cover with water. Cover and simmer on medium-low for at least 2 hours.

After 2 hours, check the chicken for readiness by pulling the meat away from the bone with the fork. If it doesn’t start to pull away, it’s not done. Once the chicken is loosey goosey, remove it from the pot. Using a boning or other small knife and a pair of kitchen tongs, remove all the meat from the carcass. Return the carcass to the stock pot and simmer, covered, for another 2 hours or more. Store the  chicken in the refrigerator for adding to the soup later.

Once your home is filled with the delicious smell of chicken soup, it’s time to strain the soup and store it. Place a large mixing bowl (preferably one with a pouring spout) in your sink. Inside the bowl, place a strainer with small holes (the metal wire mesh ones work best) inside the mixing bowl. Carefully pour the stock into the bowl until it’s full. Remove the strainer and pour the strained stock into lidded food storage containers. Repeat with the rest of the stock still in the pot. Discard carcass and veggies. Don’t worry about the fat on top. When the stock cools in the fridge, it will gelatinize, and you can easily remove it if it bothers you.

To assemble the chicken soup with rice, reheat an appropriate amount of stock for the number of people you will be serving. Once it is warmed, taste it to see how much salt you need to add to bring out the flavor. Cut the cooked chicken into bite size pieces and add it to the stock, along with your favorite soup veggies. I like to use frozen organic corn and frozen peas & carrots blend. Add cooked rice to complete the soup. A sprinkling of fresh minced flat-leaf (Italian) parsley is a nice touch just before serving.


Lunch ~ Peanut butter and apple sandwich on Banana Bread, baby carrots with ranch dip, and Newman’s organic pretzel sticks

This sammy is a nice change from the routine pb&j. I use my mandolin (V slicer) to slice the apples after I core them. Lemonade is a favorite beverage around here, so I usually have some on hand. I pour a little into a bowl and dip the sliced apples in it right after slicing so they don’t brown. Smucker’s organic (the best peanut butter ever) crunchy peanut butter adds a nice texture, but if your kids are anti-nut, go with their creamy version. I made the banana bread with the Simply Organic Gluten Free Banana Bread Mix. The kids loved it, ooh-ing and aah-ing over the smell of cinnamon that filled the house while it was baking! I found the bread to be a bit sticky, so I toasted it before I built the sandwich.

The baby carrots I’m using for this lunch were also used for the chicken stock the day before. The kids like the Newman’s pretzel sticks, but I think they are too crunchy. I like the Snyder’s of Hanover organic pretzels best. Yum! Anyway… on to….

Dinner ~ Grama’s Meat Loaf, the Second Generation with green beans and mashed potatoes

This is my variation on my Grama’s meat loaf recipe. It’s only slightly different from hers, but I still remember making it with her, especially the part where we dig our hands in to mix it! There are no exact measurements to this recipe, as with all of my Grama’s recipes, so I’m going to give you my estimate of what they are.

I prefer fresh green beans to frozen, so I always grab a bag of them at the store. My favorite potatoes to use for mashers is the Yukon Gold. They are so buttery and yummy!

Gramma’s Meat Loaf, the Second Generation

1 pound ground beef (I use Publix Market ground beef – it is the fresh ground trim from all the steaks they cut that day!)

1 pound ground pork

about a cup of Italian style bread crumbs

about a half of a cup of ketchup (or more, if you like)

about a quarter of a cup of whole milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

about a half of a tablespoon of your favorite seasoning blend (Grama used Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, I like Emeril’s Essence)

half of a bag of frozen peas and carrots blend, defrosted

Place all ingredients in a big bowl, take off your jewelry, and dig in! Once the ingredients are all combined, pack the mixture into a large loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Then tip the loaf out onto a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Pat the loaf back into its brick shape wherever necessary, then bake in a 375° oven for 10 minutes to allow the top to brown. Insert a probe thermometer (or use an instant read) and cook at 350° until done. Then mix up the glaze!

Meat Loaf Glaze


brown sugar

Worcestershire sauce

All of these ingredients are to taste. I use about a half a cup of ketchup, a quarter of a cup of Worcestershire, and about a quarter of a cup of brown sugar. Mix thoroughly in a bowl and brush over the meat loaf while it is baking. Serve the rest drizzled over slices of meat loaf. Yum!


Lunch ~ Walmostdorf Chicken Salad, cucumbers with ranch, EnviroKids rice crisp bar

I love this chicken salad! It’s so yummy, and a great way to use up leftover chicken – in this case, the meat from the chicken used to make the stock earlier in the week. It is best to make this the night before so that the flavors can make friends, but it will still taste good by lunchtime if you forget.

The EnviroKids bars are just like rice crispy treats, but they don’t have corn syrup or preservatives and are made with brown rice. The kids love them – so do I! Also, here’s another opportunity to make sure the whole cucumber gets used up. They are big!

Walmostdorf Chicken Salad

meat from one whole chicken

2 small to medium apples (we like gala or fuji)

one celery stalk

a large handful of red or white grapes (about a cup or so)

1/2 cup mayonnaise (or more if you like it really creamy)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

salt and black pepper to taste

Dice the chicken into small bite-size chunks. Core and dice the apple. Halve all the grapes. Dice the celery. Add all ingredients to a bowl, mix thoroughly, cover, and refrigerate. Enjoy! Yum!

Dinner ~ Bon Temps Chicken Wings with mixed veggies (corn, peas, carrots, and sugar snap peas – our favorite blend)

Publix makes these phenomenal chicken wings that they call Mardi Gras Chicken Wings. Honestly, these are some of the only chicken wings I like. I love them, but restaurants seem to overcook them like 90% of the time. Blech! The problems with the Publix wings are that they are crazy expensive and I don’t know what kinds of additives are in their seasoning blend (like MSG, for example). So, since Adam is a wing fanatic, I decided to try to duplicate the seasoning they use. This is pretty darn close! I have mixed up a big portion of the seasoning blend to keep on hand in a food storage container in the spice cabinet – just keep the ratio the same when you measure.

Bon Temps Chicken Wings

“family size” package of chicken wings (or two regular size packages)

1 tablespoon light olive oil

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon crushed rosemary (whole rosemary is fine, but run your knife through it to make the pieces small)

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon thyme

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more, if you like it hotter)

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat broiler. Remove the wing tips from the chicken wings. Open the wings into a “v” shape, then cut the skin down the middle to open up the wing to the joint.  Place all ingredients into a large food storage container with a lid or a large zip top bag. Shake thoroughly to coat the wings evenly with the oil and seasonings. Open the wings and place them skin side up on a large baking sheet. Broil them until the skin is medium brown and crispy. Check the temperature of the wings with a probe thermometer and check to see if the juices are running clear. If they have not yet reached 180°, switch the over over to bake them at 350° until the temperature of the wings reaches at least 175° (carryover cooking will take care of the rest).

Check out the Family Friday section for Friday’s menu!

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Chances are, the majority of the first readers to stop by here will be friends and family. But, since the random passer-by (Hi, Random Passer-By!) is possible, I’ll tell you all about our family and what you should expect to see here.

Let’s start with li’l ole me… Kimi's Wedding PhotoYes, it’s my wedding picture. Yes, I’m totally made up and looking unusually spiffy. Don’t worry, the real me will turn up soon enough. But I digress…

I was born in Florida and have lived here my whole life. I love it! Well, with the exception of a few unreasonably hot days in the summer and some equally unreasonably cold days in the winter – it’s fantastic. No matter where you go, there are all kinds of adventures accessible within a tankful’s range.

I feel like I’ve lived a pretty interesting life. My lifelong interests include horseback riding, martial arts, swimming, reading, writing, music, and theater. I’ve held a good variety jobs, including bakery employee, veterinary clinic receptionist, horseback riding instructor, swimming pool leak locator, scuba instructor, nanny, and Mom. I like that last one best.

Most of what you’ll read on this blog have to do with that last (and best) job. It has quite a job description! Childcare professional, educator, housekeeper, personal assistant, chef, baker, baby milk maker (moo), bedtime tucker-inner, lullaby singer, referee, defender of the peace, and all-around good snuggler (just to name a few key resume points).

I love my job, and it definitely keeps me busy. Like right now, for example, I have a peaceful, cuddly, warm baby fast asleep in my lap…but if I move her…well, not so peaceful anymore. Moments like this give me plenty of time online, but not so much time for the rest of my job. But seriously now, who could pass up that much sweetness and sugar all in one tiny little package? Which brings me to my wonderful husband…

DSC_0008 This is Adam with our sweet little bundle of honeysuckle goodness (you’ll meet her later). Did I completely cheat by jumping right past his fancy wedding picture into the deep end of randomness? Yep. But the blog is called that for a reason, after all. Anyway, Adam is completely, totally, and in all ways amazing. Not only is he one of the funniest people I’ve ever known (closely rivalled by my daughter Gracie, another one you’ll meet later), but he is the kind of husband and father every family needs. He’s smart, hard-working, motivated, multi-talented, loving, and would do absolutely anything for us. Does it get any better than that? I think not. He is a printed circuit board designer by day and an aspiring movie maker with an affection for horror movie makeup by night. He also once had a gig as a drummer in a punk band. It doesn’t get much more random than that…starting to understand the theme? Let’s move on…

Gracie This is Peyton Grace. AKA “Gracie”. Doesn’t she look sweet and pretty, playing in the pool dappled with sunlight? Yep, she’ll cute the “awww!”s right out of anyone, but don’t be fooled! Note the impish grin? Yes, this darling beauty is the quiet stinker of the house and hands-down the funniest kid I’ve ever met. Invariably, Gracie will come up with some perfect little gem of 5-year-old silliness that puts me in stitches. Yes, they will all end up posted here (check out the Twitter feed up there on the right). Her favorite things include horses, swimming, princesses, and any cute animal.

Here’s an interesting fact about my wonderful Princess Grace: she was born with a thumb and two fused fingers on her right hand (complete simple syndactyly). When she was six months old, she had surgery to separate them at Arnold Palmer Hospital, performed by Dr. Birnbaum of Nemours. The results were fantastic, and Gracie has never let it slow her down. She is truly amazing and thinks it’s really cool that she can reach in places the rest of us can’t! If you ask her, she’ll tell you all about how the doctor gave her a heart-shaped scar on her fingers so she’ll always remember Mommy loves her.

Next is my Kaitlynn Beth. AKA “Kaitie”. Gracie’s twin and our tomboy in a tiara. DSC_0170Always laughing, always playful, she can really put a smile on our faces. She’s smart as a whip, but often has her head in the clouds, which can make her challenging sometimes. A natural athlete ( the kid has one hell of a six pack for a five-year-old), she has had her share of bumps and bruises while giving me mommy-heart-attacks. She loves to swim, and is learning how to snorkel. She’s an avid reader and can do so at about second grade level. Some of her favorite things are animals, books, art, and princesses.

DSC_0104My stepson Derrick Orion rounds out the list of bigs (that’s short for “big kids” around here). Cute as a button, our seven-year-old bean pole is as tall as most nine-year-olds. He’s one of those kids that makes you wish the energy he has came in a bottle. Consequently, one of his favorite things to do is run. Fast. His non-stop “play mode” does get him into trouble sometimes, doing homework with him is often like pulling teeth, but this sweet little blue-green-eyed boy doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. Some of his favorite interests include dinosaurs, sharks, reading, TV, and video games (which, to his dismay, are not free-flowing around here).

Last, but certainly not least, our “little”. Sweet baby Caroline Olivia. Born July 30th, she is the newest addition to our random clan. We have no fear that she will grow into her destiny of randomness. She is a mellow, happy baby and is just starting to show us her big smile! She looks so much like her Daddy that we call her his little clone, but when we look at pictures of me at her age , we look very much alike, too! We are all looking forward to watching her grow. Some of her interests include staring at the toys in her bed, Mama’s milk, Daddy’s lovin’, filling her diapers, spitting up, and generally being ridiculously cute.Sweet Caroline

We are really enjoying life as a blended family. It definitely has its challenges, but it’s all so rewarding! The bigs have such a great relationship, and I sincerely hope it carries on into their adulthood.

And finally, I think I should mention the whole purpose of me writing in the first place. I want to record our activities and experiences to share with other parents. I have found that some of the greatest resources are online articles posted by parents who are experiencing similar joys and issues as we are. So, without further ado, the topics that will make it to the blog are including but not limited to…

  • blended families and step-parenting
  • family trips and activities, including reviews
  • natural living choices, including: chemical-free food and home environment, cloth diapering, breastfeeding, delayed/selective/non-vaccination, organics, etc.
  • adventures in public education and supplementing at home
  • our Family Friday tradition, including: themed crafts, meals, and other fun
  • parenting and family related book and magazine reviews
  • movie, TV show, video game, and other entertainment reviews in relation to family
  • recipes and food successes (or failures) with our picky eaters
  • baby and big kid milestones and cuteness (obligatory mom stuff)
  • weekly meal planning
  • and, of course, the gems of randomness that spout forth from the mouths of our babes (and my husband)!

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