Thursday, January 31, 2013

guilty mama syndrome

So I've been thinking I need to have this painted on my front door to warn all who enter... who's with me? :)

But really though, cleaning house is one of my biggest challenges. I was raised in a spotless house by a mother who was raised in a spotless house by a mother who... well, you get the picture. And then there was me.

And my house? It ain't spotless. It's kind of the opposite of spotless.

This is one of my biggest guilts. When I sit, I feel guilty that I'm not cleaning something. When I'm cleaning something, I feel guilty that I'm not cleaning it more thoroughly. I was raised by a generation of women who used bleach & toothbrushes. "A swipe & a promise" wasn't/isn't in their vocabulary.

So how do I find a balance? How do I make peace with my house & stop the cleaning-inspired guilt? How do I shut up the little voice? Or is the little voice right?

Does anyone else feel guilty every time you open your microwave & see the splatters that so shouldn't be there?

Do you agree with the above sign, or do you strive for a house that sparkles with cleanliness?

Have you made peace with your house? If so, how?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Chicken Spaghetti

This recipe is a favorite of Margaret's family!  Chicken, pasta & cheese... YUM!

The Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 box (16 oz) spaghetti noodles
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sour cream
  • Optional: sliced mushrooms, peas, broccoli, pimentos, green bell peppers, onions, other veggies
  • Pepper & seasoned salt (be sure to use SEASONED salt!)

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large pot, boil chicken breast until cooked (about 15-20 mins). Remove chicken, but save water. Salt water & add spaghetti noodles, breaking into 2-inch pieces.

While noodles are cooking, shred chicken. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, then drain spaghetti noodles. Add shredded chicken, cream of chicken soup & sour cream to cooked pasta. Add enough pasta water to thin out the sauce so it doesn't dry out in oven. Add 1 cup cheese, pepper & seasoned salt to taste & vegetables if desired. Mix well.

Pour into 9x13 baking dish & top with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake for 20 mins.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

valentine's day ideas

Only one week until February... & that means Valentine's Day!  If you want to incorporate some Valentine's Day cuteness into your family's life, here's a few ideas to get you started...

Celebrate the "14 Days of Valentines"! Each day in February leading up to the 14th, leave a small surprise for your unsuspecting husband....

&/or your kiddos... these are little mailboxes from the $1 bin at Target.

Make a happy little garland for the mantel or the table with paint samples cards from Lowes or Home Depot:

Or make heart-shaped cupcakes or muffins.... just squish some aluminum foil into a small ball & insert it between the cupcake liner & the tin.

Crease an empty paper towel or toilet paper roll to make a heart shape & let your littles stamp away to their little hearts' content:

And finally, stock up on those candy conversation hearts & use them around the house as vase fillers...

...or as a photography prop for some kiddo cuteness!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Easy Enchiladas

Here's a recipe for Easy Enchiladas from Margaret... can't wait to try this one!

The Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning mix
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 can refried beans (optional)
  • Soft tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cheese -- cheddar &/or pepper jack (if you like spicy)
  • Other toppings (optional) -- Frito corn chips, lettuce, tomato, salsa, guacamole, jalapenos

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, brown beef & season with taco seasoning mix, following the directions on the mix envelope. Combine cream of chicken soup & sour cream in small bowl to make "white sauce." Heat up refried beans.

Spread beef, beans & a spoonful of white sauce in the middle of a tortilla. Roll up tortilla & place in 9x13 baking dish. Repeat until meat & beans run out (you should still have some white sauce left).

Once all tortillas are rolled & in the baking dish, pour the remaining white sauce over them & spread evenly. Top with shredded cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.

*Tip from Margaret: I love to top with crushed Frito corn chips or a Mexican salad (lettuce, tomato, guacamole). The great thing about Mexican is that you can add whatever your family likes to suit your needs!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

embracing the camera

A while ago, Abbey shared a great article on the MOPS facebook page that really struck me... I found myself realizing how often I avoid the camera. I always have an excuse -- I'm a mess, or I don't have makeup on, or my hair's disgusting, or (& this is the most-used one here lately) I've just gotta lose some weight. Regardless of the reason, however, I often chastise my husband for not zooming in on just my daughter & I've been known to crop myself out of the finished product more than once.

This article made me think, though... what about my daughter, Rose? What about when she gets older & looks at our pictures & I'm hardly in any of them? When she sees those pics that my husband snapped despite my protests, she won't see my messy ponytail, or slouchy outfit, or extra pounds... she'll just see her mama.

I started thinking about the pictures of my mother & me that I treasure the most... which, now that my mother is gone, is pretty much all of them. My mom doesn't look like a movie star or a snazzy dresser. I know for a fact that she struggled with her weight most of her life. Yet, when I see the pictures of us, I don't see the things she probably thought of as flaws. I see her smile & how much she loved me. And I'm so very grateful that she didn't dodge the camera. Below are two of my favorites...

Here's a wonderful checklist of photo moments... it's a free printable if you feel so inclined. Get in front of the camera, ladies... this is our chance to take those pictures that our littles will treasure one day! :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Cranberry Chicken Salad

It seems like there are a million recipes for chicken salad out there.... & this one is delish! This recipe comes to you from Jennifer H.

The Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cooked chicken, cubed
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 green onions, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cup minced green bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp seasoning salt
  • pepper to taste

The Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix mayonnaise, paprika & seasoning salt. Blend in celery, cranberries, bell pepper, onion & nuts. Add chicken & mix well. Season with pepper. Chill at least an hour before serving.

Monday, January 14, 2013

getting crafty: memory jars

At our meeting last week, we kicked off 2013 by making memory jars... a simple yet fabulous way to record the happenings of your family this year. Instead of stressing about keeping up with a scrapbook or journal, just write your family's day-to-day happenings on small scraps of paper & add them to the memory jar. It's even a great place to put tickets, shells from the summer beach vacation, or other small memorabilia that will help you remember that special event.

And what better way to spend New Years Eve than reading through your memory jar with your family?? Love it!

Here's the tutorial if you'd like to make a memory jar at home:

What you need:

  • Mason jar with lid
  • cute paper for label
  • ribbon &/or twine to decorate
  • glue gun, scissors, hole punch
  • Sharpie 


  1. If you decide to use ribbon: Wrap ribbon around jar & mark where it overlaps. Cut your ribbon to desired length. Attach ribbon to back of jar with a dot of hot glue & wrap it tightly around the jar. You may want to add a few more dots of hot glue to make sure the ribbon is firmly attached to the glass. Use hot glue to seal the ribbon seam on the back of jar.
  2. If you decide to use twine: Wrap twine around jar 4-6 times to achieve the desired look. Add approximately 6 more inches to allow enough twine to tie a bow or knot & cut twine to desired length. Attach twine to back of jar with a dot of hot glue & wrap it tightly around the jar repeatedly until you're happy with how it looks. You may want to use a few additional dot of hot glue to firmly attach the twine to the glass. Tie the twine in a bow or knot.
  3. Use paper to make a label. You can use scrapbook paper or a label template such as this one. Use Sharpie to write "Family Memories" or "2013" or whatever you want.
  4. Once your label is completed, attach it to your jar either with a dot of hot glue or by hole-punching it & threading it onto your twine. 
  5. Write your family's happenings on slips of paper throughout the year & add to your jar of memories!

Click here to read about another family's memory jar... they've been doing it for several years now.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

community & encouragement

Vanessa did a wonderful devotional during our meeting this month, & was kind enough to share her notes. Her words touched me, & I hope they'll help you too. If you have a sec, check out her blog as well...

Wise words from Vanessa:
When I was asked about doing this devotion, with the focus of this month being on postpartum depression, I began praying & asking God to show me which way He wanted me to take this. There were two words that kept coming to mind -- community 

-- which I feel go hand in hand. 

As someone who has walked alongside friends going through difficult situations & who has personally battled postpartum depression, I can speak to both sides of the coin. And the thing I want every single mom to know is that you are not alone. Satan wants us isolated. You are not the only mom who struggles to get out of bed in the morning. You are not the only mom who is frustrated at things you maybe shouldn't be frustrated about. You are not the only mom who just wants to crawl under the covers & be done with the day at 10:00am. You are not alone.

I think this is hard to remember in the world we live in... where we try to impress each other & so many times act like we have it all together. I'm guilty of this. We only post pictures & words on facebook, or twitter, or instagram that make us look like awesome moms -- the cookie-baking, the fort-building, the super-smart thing your child said. You don't see many updates about losing your cool with your kids, or the nasty bathroom that hasn't been cleaned in forever, or the fact that your child is driving your crazy. We are trying to keep up this image that isn't real, but that somehow has become the ideal. And I think that when we are going through difficult times, this ideal keeps us from sharing our struggles with others for fear of judgement or misunderstanding.

So my encouragement today to each one of us would be to work hard at building real-deal, authentic, "I'm not trying to impress you" community. A community of friends who know what your life is really like between the pretty pictures & awesome status updates. A community of friends who assume the best about you & you assume the best about them no matter what is going on. A community of friends who fight against comparison, who embrace you right where you are & who love you through it. This kind of community requires hard work because in order to have those kind of friends, we have to lower our walls, become vulnerable, & be that kind of friend as well. 
James 3:18 (MSG)
Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life & is characterized by getting along with other. It is gentle & reasonable, overflowing with mercy & blessings, not hot one day & cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God & enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity & honor.
And, when you have that community, those friends who you can share the ugly side of you with, make encouragement your mission. To encourage means to inspire someone with courage or confidence to do something; to support. This may not come naturally to you but you can do it! One of the  most important things to remember about encouragement is that
       if you don't speak it, it is not encouragement. 

So if you think something -- say it or do it. This is especially helpful for those going through a season of depression because it's hard to remember you are not alone if there's no one reminding you of that. A text message, a card in the mail, a phone call to help with a meal... any time you get a little nudge or prompting about someone, follow through with it. Make a note, use post-its, remind yourself. Be willing to carry each others burdens, knowing that you may be on the receiving end one day.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 (MSG)
Gently encourage the stragglers, & reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. Look for the best in each other & always do your best to bring it out. 
I really want to encourage you... don't try to do this alone. You can, but there is absolutely no need to! We are not created to do life alone. Jesus himself had a close community. My hope & prayer is that as moms of little ones, we will be each other's biggest cheerleaders -- knowing that we are in the middle of one tough job. Let's be real with each other & lift each other up as much as we possibly can. Let's make each other stronger & see the difference that it will make in your life & those around you!

Friday, January 11, 2013

...because sometimes real life just isn't pretty

Here's a survival kit for "baby blues" &/or depression.... because sometimes real life isn't like those sappy Johnson & Johnson commercials.

1.      A baseball cap, dry shampoo & an endless supply of pony tail holders.
2.     Sweat pants. Or yoga pants. Or pants with an elastic waistband.
3.     Actually, get seven pairs of yoga pants so that way you can skip laundry for a whole week.
4.     A sign to hang on the front door that says “Please come back later. Mommy & baby are resting.” Or for a more direct approach, you could go with “Go away. Leave gifts on the porch.”
5.     Obnoxiously strong deodorant or body spray for when your last shower is a distant memory. Buy extra.
6.    Bright red lipstick & blush to dazzle, distract & deceive.
7.     Waterproof mascara. For the unlikely event that you actually put on mascara. 
8.    Grey’s Anatomy marathon so it doesn’t seem at all strange to sit on the couch all day crying.
9.    Microfiber cloth to clean the splattered salt of dried tears off your glasses.
10.  Chocolate in the form of brownies, M&Ms, ice cream, raw cookie dough, chocolate pie, swiss cake rolls … whatever it takes.
11.    An empty health food bag or couch cushion to hide your candy wrappers when someone’s coming.
12.   A bar fridge next to the bed or couch to store adult juice boxes. And chocolate.
13.   A television mounted on the ceiling so you don’t even have to sit up to watch TV.
14.   A daytime talk show full of people who make you seem normal by comparison.
15.   A hot shower, for when you just need to wail in peace for five freaking minutes. & there’s the added bonus of actually washing your stank self.
16.  Coffee. Lots of coffee. (just in case you are forced to get up & function in a seemingly alert manner).
17.   Better yet, try an espresso IV drip.
18.  Listerine breath strips, because brushing your teeth is totally overrated.
19.  A memorized debit card number & an entire restaurant directory saved in your phone so you can order take-out with minimal effort.
20. A full tank of gas so you can drive from one drive-thru to the next while the baby is sleeping, thus allowing you to get out of the house without actually coming in contact with people.
21.   A fake doctor’s note stating no sex whatsoever for six months. Or a cute throw pillow with “not tonight” embroidered on both sides.
22.  Headphones that play the Peanuts teacher sound — “Wa-wah-wa-wah-wah” — to drown out those not-so-helpful suggestions. And an extra set of thick skin.
23.  A voice mail message that says, “Leave a message & I’ll get back to you. Maybe.”
24.  Extended paternity leave
25.  And finally, at least one non-judgy person who will overlook all of the above & be your friend anyway.

(adapted from

Thursday, January 10, 2013

January meeting recap!

January's meeting was this morning... so glad to see all of you ladies! We had a great turn-out, especially considering that we're all still getting back in the swing of things after the holidays. So thank you to everyone for coming... and if you know a mom, please invite her to join us next month!

January's topic was "Belly Flop: Diving into Help when Postpartum Hits."

Did you know 
4 out of 5 women experience some level of postpartum blues or depression? 

Yeah, that almost ALL of us. This is an incredibly relevant topic, yet so many moms don't talk about it openly. So this month, we decided to bring the postpartum issues out of the closet. It's important to know that it's ok. It's normal. It'll pass. And it's good to ask for help.

This month's devotional was by Vanessa. She did a truly wonderful job & was kind enough to share her notes with me, so there's an additional post coming right up!

And for this month's craft, we made memory jars for 2013... what a great idea for those of us who just aren't going to keep up with a full-fledged journal or scrapbook! Stay tuned for a tutorial post.

Our speaker was Donna Tingle, a Licensed Professional Counselor with Anmed Health Psychiatry here in Anderson. She shared her own experience with postpartum depression after her second child was born only 13 months after her first. Donna talked about how acceptance & understanding by her husband was a huge factor... that it wasn't until he was supportive & onboard that things began getting better.

Donna also talked about how to know the difference between "baby blues" & postpartum depression. If you experience all or a few of these symptoms, you may be suffering from the "baby blues":

  • weepiness
  • moodiness & irritability
  • some good days & some bad days
  • occasional sadness for no apparent reason
  • feelings of being overwhelmed

If you are experiencing all or several of these symptoms, you may be suffering from postpartum depression & you should contact your obgyn:
  • you have very few, if any, good days
  • constant weepiness & moodiness
  • feelings of overwhelming anxiety &/or hopelessness
  • significant weight loss or gain
  • inability to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • restlessness (not being able to sit still, feeling jittery) or sluggishness (feeling like you're moving in slow motion)
  • difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • feelings of guilt for no apparent reason
  • thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby (if this applies to you, please call your doctor immediately)

Donna told us that if you have postpartum depression with one pregnancy, you are more likely to have it with subsequent pregnancies. Also, she told us that PPD is genetic... that if your mom &/or grandmother had it, you are more likely to experience symptoms. Treatment for PPD includes, but isn't limited to, coping techniques, counseling & medication. 

If you would like to make an appointment to talk to Donna, here's her contact info:

Donna G. Tingle

Additional Resources for postpartum blues & depression:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Lentil Tacos

This recipe is from Aubrey, who wrote "This recipe sounds iffy if you don't cook with beans much, but my family DEVOURED it!" Thanks for sharing, Aubrey!

The Ingredients:

  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 12 taco shells
  • 1 1/2 cups lettuce, shredded
  • 1 cup chopped fresh tomato
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 tbsp sour cream

The Directions:

In a large, nonstick skillet, saute onion & garlic in oil until tender. Add lentils, chili powder, cumin & oregano. Cook & stir for 1 min. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer covered for 25-30 mins or until lentils are tender.

Uncover. Cook for 6-8 mins or until mixture is thickened. Mash lentils slightly. Stir in salsa.

Spoon about 1/4 cup lentil mixture into each taco shell. Top with lettuce, tomato, cheese & sour cream.

(Click here for source & nutritional info)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Skinny Chicken Pot Pie

Happy New Year, MOPS mamas!

To kick 2013 off right, here's a skinny recipe that actually tastes great! I know there has to be at least a few of you out there who are interested in low-fat recipes for your family... this chicken pot pie is one of my favorites.  (And it's only 8 WeightWatchers PointsPlus!)

The Ingredients:

1 lb uncooked skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 cups water
1/2 cup white wine (the drinking kind or the cooking kind)
2 chicken bouillon cubes, crumbled
2 medium uncooked carrots, chopped
1 cup frozen green peas
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium uncooked onion, chopped
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
5 oz. fat-free evaporated milk
15 1/4 oz. canned corn, drained
1 can of reduced-fat crescent rolls

The Directions:

Put the chicken, water, wine, & crumbled bouillon cubes in a medium pot. Boil, then lower heat & simmer gently for 15 mins. Remove from heat & let cool. Set aside one cup of broth & chop chicken into chunks.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a deep 8-inch pie plate with cooking spray.

Microwave carrots & peas for two mins to soften. Drain.

Heat oil in nonstick pan, add onions, & cook until soft. Stir in flour & cook over low heat for 2 mins.

Remove pan from heat & add milk & reserved broth. Return to heat & cook, stirring often, until mixture boils & thickens. Add carrots, peas, chicken & corn.

Pour mixture into pie plate. Piece the crescent rolls together so they form a single-layer crust on top. Press edges down firmly to seal. Bake for 10 mins, then lower oven temp to 350 degrees for 20 more mins, or until pot pie is golden brown.

(Click here for source)