Archive | September 2016

Five Fun and Inexpensive Things To Do This Fall

Fall: The leaves. The temperatures. The food. The fun!

I am not a summer person. My ideal outdoor temperature is between 60-70 degrees. That’s why I love when autumn starts to creep in. The nights get cool, and the days are nice to be outside in jeans and a t-shirt; not to mention all the food and drinks that come out, especially for all of you who like things pumpkin spiced!

fallnature

Here are some fun, inexpensive, things to do this fall:

  1. Find a Fall Festival: There are so many fun fall festivals in our area this time of year. Some are just for fun, but others are for a good cause to support different things within the community. Either way, it’s fun for the whole family!
  2. Go Apple/Pumpkin Picking: You can’t have fall without pumpkins and apples! Check with your local farms to see prices and schedules. Places like Groupon or Living Social can have great deals on admission or products.
  3. Take a Drive to See the Leaves: Since I can remember, my family would always head to Shenandoah National Park to see the leaves change in Skyline Drive. The colors are always so vibrant and beautiful. Make a picnic lunch, and enjoy the sights.
  4. Take a Weekend Trip: This does not have to be expensive. We find that as things slow down in the summer, it’s a great time to visit family close by. If you don’t have family close by, plan a trip with your friends; everyone splits the cost of a hotel. Moms and Dads need their own time too!
  5. Have a Baking Day: I love to pick a weekend, and make goodies for my friends and family. Nothing puts you in the mood for fall faster than a pie in the oven, or apple butter in the crockpot.

What are some of your favorite inexpensive fall must-dos?

This entry was posted on September 29, 2016. 2 Comments

Taking a Walk in Someone Else’s Shoe

anothersshoes

 

There have been many times in my life that I have been tempted to speak out, and have said nothing. Other times I’ve opened my mouth and it’s gotten me in trouble. It’s hard to know where the line is: stepping in or minding your own business. Over the summer was one such situation.

My mom, the boys, and I decided to grab breakfast one morning. We were promptly seated in a small section of the restaurant that was filled. In our section was us, a party of two gentlemen behind us, a pregnant woman on her own next to us, and a gentleman with his two young kids that were seated in the booth next to the two gentlemen. The table of two guys had been recognized by a large group of people. They all came and crowded our area to talk, very loudly I might add. The large crowd eventually settled into their own section and it was back to how we all started.

It was a normal breakfast din. Plates and silverware clanking, people talking and excited coos of the young child with the dad. As a mom with kids, I turn to look at the dad to smile at him and his kids. The baby was content, happy, and excited about his coming meal. It was then that one of the gentleman behind us turned to the dad and said sarcastically with a smile, “Is he going to do that the whole time? Either you need to move or I will because he’s bothering me!”

At first I thought they knew each other. How could the baby possibly be a bother over the noise of a very busy restaurant? Not to mention the large crowd they had just hosted five minutes before. I inquired whether they knew each other, and when the dad answered they did not, my jaw dropped to the floor.

Before I could even think, I turned to the man behind me and I said “I think YOU need to move. I can’t believe someone could be so rude! I’ve got kids here too; maybe they’re going to bother you too!”

The other guy at the table tried to explain that his friend was going through a lot, to which I replied “How do you know he’s not going through a lot? If you wanted silence maybe you should have met in a library!”

The pregnant lady at the table next to us echoed my sentiment, and with that, the two gentlemen asked to be relocated. I apologized to the dad if I had overstepped, and reassured him that his baby was in no way a bother.

It wasn’t until I paid our check that the father walked up to me and handed me a piece of paper with his wife’s contact information. Turns out his wife was on Capitol Hill, fighting to get affordable prosthetics for amputees, because she herself is one. He thanked me for using my voice to speak.

The point is: We are all going through something. Some more than others. But we have to learn to walk in each other’s shoes because it’s only then that we gain understanding and empathy. You never know if another person only has one shoe or maybe no shoes at all to walk in.

 

Meg’s Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala is one of my favorite meals to order when we are out. It’s always a treat and so delicious. Since it’s not always easy or cheap to get out to a restaurant, I decided to wing it and make my own at home!

 

MegsChickenMarsala

Seasonings:

Salt

Pepper

Garlic Powder

Parsley

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts, sliced or pounded thin

1 package of mushrooms ( I love baby bella)

1 c. marsala wine

1/4 c. half and half

3 Tbs Butter

3. Tbs Olive Oil

1/2 c. flour, seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder for dredging.

 

Dredge chicken in seasoned flour and set aside

Melt butter and olive oil in a skillet

Add mushrooms and cook about 10 minutes on medium/high heat, then remove and set mushrooms aside.

Fry chicken on each side until golden brown and set on platter.

Add mushrooms back into skillet and add marsala and reduce for about 5 minutes.

Add half and half, and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley to taste.

Marsala Sauce

Pour mixture over your platter of chicken.

 

This meal is great to serve over pasta, rice, potatoes, or all by itself!

You can always double the marsala and half and half  if you like extra sauce.

Do you have a favorite restaurant meal you’d like to try at home?

Getting Organized

One of the first things that hit me when I found out I was having a third child is: I HAVE to get organized. I was very much a wing-it kind of mom. Dinner is served when it’s done, never mind that it’s almost 8PM on a school night. What was I making for dinner again? Do the kids have practice today? Who has a dentist appointment tomorrow? What time was that PTA meeting?

Organization had to happen. I needed a planner. Something to keep track of my family’s schedule, our budget, bills, shopping lists and more.

Enter the little thing that has changed my life:

Create 365™ The Happy Planner™ by Me and My BIG Ideasplanner/addon

This planner is so awesome they have Pinterest boards dedicated to it!

 

It is a fully customizable planner that allows you to use as much, or as little, creativity as you want to plan out your life. I bought the 18-month planner that features a monthly/weekly views that are broken down into morning, afternoon, and evening.

http://shop.believekids.com/Shop

The accessories that are available for this planner are endless; my favorite though is the Home Planner Add-On. It comes with To-do Lists, Weekly Meal Planner pages, and accompanying Grocery List, House Cleaning Schedule, and Budget Planning pages

Being able to plan our meals and have a grocery list has saved us so much time and money. No more trying to figure out that night what I’m going to make, and no more overspending at the grocery store by over-buying!

mealplanner

Since the family eats lunch out of the house, I only plan for breakfast and dinner.

Other things I love about my planner:

  • Fully Customizable!
  • Product and Accessories are Affordable!
  • Inspiration Quotes Throughout!
  • Expandable- it grows with you!
  • It has hearts on it! (my favorite shape)

I bought my planner at Michaels but you can find them at many other places. The cost is very affordable especially compared to other planners.

 

I was not paid in anyway to endorse Create 365™ The Happy Planner™. This is just a product I love to use. All opinions expressed are my own.
This entry was posted on September 14, 2016. 4 Comments

Kindergarten Blues

Emotions already run high for the first day at a new school. There is anticipation, fear, excitement, and nervousness for not only our child but even for us parents as well.

ckindergarten

Now here we are, first year of Kindergarten, and what started with excitement has slowly turned into apprehension. Did I mention we are only in our second week? I reached out to a few of my teacher friends for advice on how to help.

One teacher recommends making a daily schedule with pictures to help kids visually see their day:

Have parents make a simple “daily plan” sheet.  The child can cross an activity off the list as the day goes on. It helps them see the pattern of their day and control the anxiety they are experiencing.”

Another early childhood educator says it is all very normal for a child to experience anxiety about a new school:

Change is hard for most adults and it is especially hard for children who are so young especially in preschool and kindergarten.  I would suggest that the parent ask the child what is it about the class/school they don’t like or are anxious about.

Talking about the class and teacher at home helps. Go over the days events and then talk about the next day and things to look forward to. School should be fun and enjoyable especially in the early grades.  Keep encouraging your child. Consistency, and encouragment and lots of love and patience are important on the parent’s part as well as making sure they are getting enough sleep.

As time goes on, the child will begin to love school and also love their teachers. They will start trusting, and letting go of their fears and see learning can be fun.  The child will feel successful and confident as the year goes on and that should be a goal for every teacher.”

Ashley Saunders at  Teachable Mommy , a former teacher herself, recommends actively listening to what your child has to say and even getting involved at school:

Truly listen and make eye contact so they feel safe enough to tell you. If something has upset them, find out what it is. Possibly offering suggestions to fix the “problem.”

Get involved in the classroom. We teachers could always use an extra set of hands. The more comfortable you seem with the teacher and classroom the more comfortable your children will be.

If these feelings continue or worsen after about a month, request a meeting with the teacher and/or counselor.

All of the teachers I reached out to stressed how normal this process is and how important it is to really talk to your child about their day. Has your little one experienced any of these same issues? What did you do to help them cope?

Hello… It’s Me

I realize it has been quite a long time since I’ve been able to write. As soon as I launched this blog, life happened!

IfPlanADidntWork

We found out in early April that we are expecting our third child! Surprise!!! It will also be our third son, and though it was such a surprise, we are so happy and realize how blessed we are to be adding a new member to our family.

Shortly after finding out we were pregnant, I switched jobs and, my mom moved back to the beach. Leaving behind her two very attached grandkids and maybe one daughter too.

Our oldest son has started elementary school as we prepare to add our third into the mix this Christmas, just in time for our second son to turn 2!

It has truly been a season of transition and now that things are settling nicely I feel its time to bring Essentially Megan back to life.

This entry was posted on September 6, 2016. 2 Comments