Monday, February 25, 2013

Mickey Mouse Birthday BBQ

The kids' birthdays seem to be sneaking up on me this year...
Then again, it seems like that every year!
Over the next few months I will be in party planning overload with one birthday to celebrate each month!
A Ladybug party in March for Little Princess,
a Cars or Up party in April for Little Dudeman,
& a party in May for Hubby...
I'll fill you in on the theme for his party later since it's a secret!
Anywho, since parties have been on my mind lately, I thought it would be fun to post some pics from Little Dudeman's previous parties!

We had a Mickey Mouse Birthday BBQ at our house to celebrate Little Dudeman's 2nd birthday last year... 

At our BBQ we had hot dogs, veggie trays, deviled eggs, potato salad, Mickey Mouse shaped jello, soda, M&Ms, chips & dips (cheese & ranch), apples & pineapple, fruit dip, Mickey cupcakes, & Mickey cake pops...

I think the party hats turned out absolutely adorable, but of course Little Dudeman didn't want to wear one...
I love that they were super easy! We cut out some poster board ears with tabs that we folded over & hot glued to dollar store party hats.

Invitation - I saw the tutorial for these on Oopsey Daisy & knew I had to attempt them!

Front side of invite

Back side of invite

We had our VHS of The Spirit of Mickey playing in the background so that people could watch some old school Mickey cartoons as they arrived & while they were eating...

We had a couple games planned in case anyone wanted to play but we never got around to it:
 - Donald, Daisy, Goof: Played like Duck, Duck, Goose but boys are Donald (Duck), girls are Daisy (Duck), & goose is Goof(y)
 - Pin the ears on Mickey
 - Mickey coloring pages
 - I also found that this site has a lot of great Mickey party game ideas

I got a lot of my inspiration for this party at Oopsey Daisy so be sure to check it out!

I really need to make a decision about Little Dudeman's theme for this year!
I had been planning on Cars since it was his favorite for so long, but his new favorite movie is Up...
I tried asking him which one he wanted, but he isn't really helping much.
He still loves Cars, but since he also loves Up he's trying to be sneaky & pick both.
What do you think?

Friday, February 22, 2013

R is for Robot - Wall-E

R is for Robot,
Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle.
That's why Wall-E was the perfect fit for this week...

Church Theme: Resurrection
Primary/Church Song: 'I Wonder When He Comes Again'
Preschool Song: 'I'm A Little Robot'
Book: Robots Everywhere by Denny Hebson
Movie: Wall-E

We were planning on doing this in March & not having Mommy School this week because Little Dudeman was scheduled to have Eye Muscle Surgery for strabismic amblyopia on Thursday.

However, on Tuesday he got sick, had a fever, & experienced throwing up for the first time ever.
Poor kid was miserable.
We had to reschedule the surgery because we didn't want to risk his eye getting infected afterwards since it could cause serious problems, one of which being blindness.

Wednesday he was feeling over all much better though so I decided to try to squeeze in a few fun things this week anyway...

For lunch we had ham & cheese squares condensed & stacked by Wall-E, earth dirt pudding w/ a gummy plant, a BnL strawberry-smoothie-in-a-cup, a milky way, star tots, space ice cream, & a chocolate Hal (Wall-E's pet cockroach) inside of his twinkie bed.

R letter & math sheets
Made a robot out of boxes & paper towel rolls

I wanted for us to plant a tree but it was really windy, the kids were still stuffy, & I had really bad hayfever...
Besides, we didn't even have a tree yet since I wasn't planning on doing anything this week!
We ended up staying inside & Little Dudeman helped water our poinsetta that has somehow barely survived since Christmas.
We also had a small dance party & danced the robot.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Chicken Parmesan

We had Heart Shaped Chicken Parmesan w/ Spaghetti for our family Valentine's Dinner this year...
I got the idea for the heart shaped chicken here, but didn't want to mess with attempting to fry it.
I'm no good at that.
Then I saw this recipe for a baked version...
After looking at it I realized that it was somewhat similar to a recipe I had growing up,
so I pulled that one out & ended up using a mix between them!

3 large chicken breast halves (sliced in half to make 6)
4 Tbsp butter (melted)
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 jar of favorite spaghetti sauce
Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice chicken in half to make 6 thin chicken breasts. {Opt: Cut chicken into heart shapes.} Melt butter in small bowl. Combine breadcrumbs & Parmesan cheese in another bowl. Dip chicken in butter then coat with crumb mixture on both sides. Place in foil-lined pan & bake for 20 minutes. Turn chicken over & bake for another 5 minutes. Spoon 1-2 Tbsp of sauce over each piece of chicken & spread evenly so that it is covering the chicken but not dripping off the sides. Place a slice of mozzarella cheese on each piece of chicken & bake for 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve over spaghetti or your favorite noodles.

- To make the heart shaped chicken, I pressed a cookie cutter on each chicken breast to sort of give me an outline to follow, then I cut the hearts using my kitchen scissors.
- Don't forget to coat & cook the scraps of chicken breast if you make heart shapes since they're still yummy, but they probably won't need to cook as long!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Family Valentine's Night

Monday evening we finally had our family Valentine's Lady & the Tramp dinner...

We had wanted to do it last week, but we were swamped with something every single night!
We would have had Spaghetti & Meatballs like they do in the movie, but since Hubby isn't a fan of meatballs we ate Heart Shaped Chicken Parmesan & Spaghetti served with garlic bread, tropical fusion jello, & had Apple Pomegranate Martinelli's to drink.

It was delicious & we were so stuffed that we had no room for dessert!

Normally we use our red tablecloth & eat by candlelight, but I slacked off a bit this year...
Forgot the candles but at least we remembered the tablecloth!

After dinner we all cuddled up on the couch and watched Lady & the Tramp together to end the evening...

Tony's Town Square Restaurant at Disneyworld - April 2009

This year instead of exchanging cards, we made a family card... It was actually the craft at story time last week at the library, but we jazzed it up a bit after we got home by putting scrapbook stickers on it. The kids 'wrote' in it, then Hubby & I wrote things we love about our family inside! We each got a side, but covered it up when we were done writing so we didn't know what the other person had written & then we read it together...

Our family LOVE card
I'm thinking that we are gonna have to make it a tradition!

Friday, February 15, 2013

♥ Twitterpated ♥

It's that time of the year again...
Love is in the air.
Nearly everybody is twitterpated.
Yeppers, it's Valentine's week!

We watched Bambi and talked a little about Valentine's Day & the four seasons this week...
Primary/Church Song: 'The Wise Man & The Foolish Man'
Preschool Song/Rhyme: 'Mr Sun'
Book: All the Seasons of the Year by Deborah Lee Rose
Movie: Bambi

I was debating between Bambi and Lady and the Tramp for this week's movie but couldn't pick just one... So I chose both!
Bambi for Mommy School
Lady and the Tramp for our family Valentine's night

"Eating greens is a special treat. It makes long ears and great big feet. But it sure is awful stuff to eat."
- Thumper

While watching Bambi, we ate frozen peas (couldn't forget our greens for Thumper), a PB&J deer sandwich, Thumper's carrots, Flower's pineapple & strawberry flower, strawberry hearts, and a heart cake since we're all twitterpated this week.

We went to the library for story time on Thursday to read Valentine books & made a cute I Love You card!
(I'll share that with the family Valentine's Day post next week since we aren't finished with ours yet)

A couple other ways we shared our love with those around us this week...
Hubby wasn't feeling well so I filled up his car with gas so he wouldn't have to the next morning.
We left a Valentine card & treat in our mailbox for the wonderful lady that delivers our mail.

We will be having our family Valentine's Lady and the Tramp dinner & movie on Monday since believe it or not we have no free evenings until then... Can't wait!

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Chinese New Year - Mulan

Happy Chinese New Year!

We celebrated this week by reading Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin
and by watching Mulan while eating this tasty muffin tin meal...

We ate teriyaki chicken, chow mein, orange chicken, a fortune cookie, fried rice, a honeybun snake (because it's the year of the snake & in the movie Mushu says "Let's go kick some honeybuns!"), and a Chinese donut (you know, the deep fried sugar coated yumminess you see in Chinese buffets).
I was pretty excited to use my new deep-fryer (:

We also made paper Chinese lanterns & did a little bit of training so we could fight if the Huns ever attack...

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Building a better budget

We did it!!!
We went an entire month without using a credit card...
One step closer to being debt-free.
Such a good feeling!

I was asked to teach a lesson at church on budgeting and family finance the 5th Sunday in December.
I knew a few months ahead of time & honestly was dreading it.
I mean really, really dreading it.
I knew that the lesson was probably Heavenly Father's way of helping me figure out what I was doing wrong with our finances though & that I would probably benefit most out of anyone just by preparing the lesson so I studied up, learned a lot, & found some wonderful resources along the way.

I talked a little bit about each of the 5 Basics of Family Finances that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has provided on
                                                                1. Pay tithes & offerings
                                                                2. Avoid debt
                                                                3. Use a budget
                                                                4. Build a reserve
                                                                5. Teach family members

I learned the most when I was researching about budgets and I want to share some of the things I learned that may help you out with your budgets & staying out of debt...

When creating a budget, you can start with a basic (or complex) budget worksheet or a budget software...
There are plenty of options out there on the internet, both free & not-so-free, but what's important is that you find something that works for you!

Some other important things that you should remember while creating a budget are:
Know where your money is going...
I cannot stress how important this is! 
If you don't account for everything in your budget then you don't truly know where all of your money is going. It's more than just budgeting enough money for the essentials.
For the longest time I thought that if I created a budget where I would make sure our tithing and bills were paid first, then the rest of the money could go towards the variables like food, gas, household essentials, and other things.
Surely we would have more than enough left over to cover those things, right?
I was wrong.
When those things were only loosely budgeted for, I didn't realize how much we were spending each month
on unnecessary things, & how many things we should have been budgeting for but weren't. I knew our credit card debt was slowly increasing though. We were in this vicious cycle where we would practically pay the cards off each year with tax returns, then by the end of the year, we were back where we started.
Our yearly credit card float so to speak...
We assumed we just weren't making enough, and we were sick of this happening year after year. Back in September (before I knew I was going to teach) I decided to track our expenses more closely in hopes that we could get to the bottom of it and figure out what the culprit was, & either cut out the unnecessary things or get a job. So I did the following...

Keep a record of your expenditures...
Record and review your income and expenses for the past few months so that you have an idea about where most of your money is going. I found a budget spreadsheet in September that was helping us track our spending. I quickly realized that we were spending between $150-$200 a month on fast food in addition to the money budgeted for groceries, approximately $300 at places like Target & Walmart for household goods & who knows what else, & sometimes $400+ on other random expenses like dates, haircuts, movies, Christmas presents & things we didn't 'budget' for... No wonder we were putting things on credit cards each month! We didn't know what we were spending our money on. The second I started working on the lesson & we became more aware, we noticed that the numbers started going down & we weren't putting as much on the card. What a relief that was!

Determine how to reduce what you spend for non-essentials...
Use the info you gather to establish a family budget. Make sure you account for tithing & fast offerings first, then figure how much you will need for housing, utilities, transportation, bills, insurance, food, savings, and so on. Discipline yourself to stay within your budget plan. Budget worksheets &/or software are there to help you with your plan. This goes back to making sure you find something that works for you... I found that a simple worksheet just wasn't for me because I would leave things out of our budget that I should have saved up throughout the year for (Christmas for example).
I was teaching with someone else from our stake & learned something from him that can help you decide what non-essentials can be cut out... Ask yourself if your expenses are supporting life, or lifestyle.
If it's supporting life, you should definitely make room in your budget for it. If it's supporting lifestyle, chances are it's not a necessity & you can cut corners in those areas to save money. Brilliant, I know!
One way we recently did that was by getting a Roku instead of paying for cable or satellite TV each month. We just pay for Netflix & Hulu Plus now. At first we thought we'd miss regular TV, but we love our Roku!

Enter ALL income and expenses each time you prepare a budget...
Key word is ALL!
If you leave things out, you may think you have extra money to spend when it is really already accounted for,
which could lead to debt. We noticed a difference right away once we started doing that...
Because income and expenses can vary from week to week & month to month, prepare a new budget each and every week, bi-weekly, or monthly rather than a whole year.

I stumbled across this awesome website called You Need A Budget while planning my lesson. The YNAB
software utilizes four budgeting rules to help people create budgets and save their money.

YNAB's four budgeting rules:
                    1. Give every dollar a job (Be the boss of ALL of your money)
                    2. Save for a rainy day (Break all big expenses into manageable monthly chunks)
                    3. Roll with the punches (Be flexible & address overspending before it becomes a problem)
                    4. Live on last month's income (Stop living paycheck to paycheck)

Totally. makes. sense.

Here's what Jesse Mecham (the creator of You Need A Budget) says about budgeting from an LDS perspective: "I was born and raised LDS, and was taught that it's important to see money more as a stewardship situation than the fact that it's MY money. So budgeting is actually just making sure that we're good stewards with what we've been given."
I thought that was cool.

I decided to try the 34 day free trial of the software because we seriously wanted change and it seemed like a good method, but I wasn't about to pay $60 on a budgeting software. Seemed kind of contradictory.
I mean we were trying to save money, why spend it when there are so many free options out there?
Turns out the method really does work!
We could tell we were saving money & could see the gradual incline of our net worth.
Again, we haven't used our cards at all this month!
I fell in love with the software, and decided to budget that $60 so that we could continue to use it after the trial period because we had finally found something that worked for us!

We purchased it for $60, but they have a refer-a-friend program
which allows you (my friends) to get it for only $54...
Here's the link if you want that discount.
You're welcome.

We weren't doing terrible with our finances, but we weren't doing great either.
We lived paycheck to paycheck and still do at the moment, but with less financial stress since we're building a reserve, & without going further into debt.

"Latter-day Saints have been counseled for many years to prepare for adversity by having a little money set aside. Doing so adds immeasurably to security and well-being. Every family has a responsibility to provide for its own needs to the extent possible. We encourage you wherever you may live in the world to prepare for adversity by looking to the condition of your finances. We urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from this bondage. Save a little money regularly to gradually build a financial reserve. If you have paid your debts and have a financial reserve, even though it be small, you and your family will feel more secure and enjoy greater peace in your hearts. May the Lord bless you in your family financial efforts."
- First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints -

Interested in buying YNAB? Check out this link to save $6 off your purchase!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cheesy White Chicken Enchiladas

I grew up with this yummy recipe & love it!

4-6 large chicken breast halves, cooked & cubed
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cups sour cream
1 small can green chilies diced or chopped (optional)
1 small can or jar of sliced green or black olives (optional)
3-4 green onions, sliced (optional)
2 cups monterey jack cheese (if you don't have it, cheddar is fine)
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Cook chicken & dice; set aside. In large bowl combine soup, sour cream, chilies, olives, & green onions. Add monterey jack cheese to mixture once well combined. Remove 2 cups of mixture & add to chicken. Place chicken mixture into tortillas & roll up. Place in 2 large pans so they are somewhat separated. Spoon remaining mixture over top & cover with cheddar cheese. Cover with foil & bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove foil & bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until cheese begins to lightly brown.

- I find it helps to put a thin layer of soup mixture on the pan first so that the bottoms of the tortillas don't get too tough
- I usually cut the recipe in half to make just one 9x13 & freeze the other half of the can of chilies in a snack bag
The only problem is that I can't remember any sides that we used to eat with it...
Suggestions anyone?


Friday, February 1, 2013

Q is for Queen - Alice in Wonderland

Q is for Queen.
There tends to be a shortage of animated movies about nice Queens.
Don't get me wrong, there are a few good Queens in movies but the focus is always on the princesses.

With that being said and since Valentine's Day coming up
I decided to base this week on the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland...

Besides, she wants all things her way & I wouldn't want her to lose her temper or I might lose my head...

Church Theme: Queen Esther
Primary/Church Song: 'Reverently, Quietly'
Preschool Song/Rhyme: 'Queen of Hearts'
Book: The Queen of France by Tim Wadham
Movie: Alice in Wonderland

Muffin Tin & Movie Monday:

While watching Alice in Wonderland we had 'eat me' cookies, a Queen of Hearts turkey & cheese sandwich, a 'drink me' kool-aid burst, the White Rabbit's carrots, an unbirthday heart cake with a candle, & candy hearts.
(To make the unbirthday candle I used 1 twizzler nips cut in half lengthwise & 2 white chocolate chips warmed up just enough to mold into a flame with my fingers.)

Tumbling Tuesday:
We played a game of croquet in our living room
but we used toy golf clubs & golf balls instead of mallets & croquet balls.
We made wickets out of strips of cardstock taped to the ground.

Word Wednesday:
Q letter sheets
We painted coffee filter roses red

Think About It Thursday:
Q math sheets

Field Trip Friday:
We went to Dairy Queen for some ice cream to celebrate our unbirthday (:
Oh, it's your unbirthday too?
I wish you a very merry unbirthday!
Unless of course it's your birthday... then I wish you a happy birthday!

This post was featured at...
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