Friday, January 30, 2015

Keep Chugging Along

This week Anthony came home with a little award from his teacher and it meant the world to me! 

In the beginning of the school year, Anthony was struggling with his words per minute, scoring in with an average of 32. He loved to be read to, but didn't want to be the one doing the reading. I suppose you could say he was that type of boy who would rather be doing anything else but reading and only did it because he had to for school. And when he did read, he would try to choose the easiest books to read, because, you know, those big words are hard and sounding them out takes time. And it's annoying. And it's easier to just guess the word if he didn't know it. And then get mad when I made him keep trying. Yikes, lots of meltdowns. For obvious reasons, he was behind goal with his fluency and we needed to work on that. 

Every night Anthony is suppose to read. We did that, without fail. So why was he only at 32 words per minute? Why wasn't he improving? Why wasn't anything I was doing helping? It was one of those times I felt like a failure. Why couldn't I help my baby succeed? What in the hell am I suppose to do? I don't know what I'm doing....

And then I realized what it was. His attitude. And mine. So we talked about it.....and talked about it....and talked about it. He gets frustrated very easily. And he gets discouraged very easily. Which then makes me get frustrated and annoyed and upset with his negative attitude. And then he stops trying. And then I get mad. And then we both just spiral down, completely out of control. 

So then we worked on it.....and worked on it....and worked on it. Together. I calm him down, tell him he can do it. Let him know he has to think positive and know he can do it, he just has to keep working and keep trying. Keep chugging along. And while I'm giving him a pep talk, I take my own words of advice. I calm down. I think positive. I keep working at lifting him up and keep chugging along....knowing progress does not come overnight. I want to see him succeed so very much, but I need to be patient, because all children learn and grow differently and at different paces. 

Deep breaths, Mama. All will be well. He will improve. He will. Be patient. Keep going. You're learning too. You're not failing. It's ok. 

From fall until this week, Anthony has improved his words per minute from an average of 32 to an average of 77! WOWZA! 

When I took that award out of his folder and read what it was, I about fainted! I hugged my big boy close and told him I was so very proud of him with happy tears in my eyes. And then he laughed at me, haha. It was awesome to see him so proud of himself and excited over his accomplishment. 

I know we have more work to do to help him keep improving and be where he needs to be, but seeing how far he has come in the past 4 months, I know we will get there. We will keep encouraging, working hard, and just keep chugging along. 

We are proud of you, Anthony!! 

With love,
Mama Hauck

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Vow

I'm not the biggest of cooks. Most people know this. I'd rather spend my time outside the kitchen. But I do try and I do want to be and do better. 

This year Sam and I have vowed to be more conscious of what we buy and what goes in our mouths and the mouths of our children.  More good and less bad. We have already made great strides, replacing many boxed and canned items with healthier options and homemade recipes. That's not to say I won't be baking any cookies or will forgo the bacon. I love cookies and bacon. I do believe in treats in moderation. I just mean that we need to focus more on getting in more good, and limiting the bad; with eliminating certain bads all together. Like canned spaghettios, ramen noodles, and Tim's favorite fruit snacks. Sorry, Tim. 

For us, being more conscious means weekly solo trips to the grocery store for Mama. This way we can keep a constant flow of more fresh fruit and veggies in the house, as well as give me time in store to research and read labels and ingredients without screaming children rushing me. You know you're really in for a good time when you spend 10 minutes reading the back of every brand of salad dressing on the shelf. 

I have decided to make more of an effort and be in the kitchen more preparing meals and homemade snacks for my family. That's not to say everything I make will be a million times healthier, but it does mean I know exactly what is going into our mouths and will have a more informed choice of ingredients. You have to remember, I'm not the greatest of cooks (Sorry Mom, it's not your fault, you tried!). My skill set in the kitchen is pretty limited. The interest has just never been there for me. But now it is and this is all a learning experience for me. 

I have also decided to work on a cook book with Mama do-able recipes and make a monthly meal plan. With this done, I know exactly what we are eating weeks 1-4 and my weekly shopping list reflects only needed ingredients for those meals, fresh fruit and veggies, and other staples. No frivolous spending. 

Which brings me to our next vow....spend less, save more.  

I'm proud to say that we have come up with a financial plan we are happy with. In one month, I will have my card payed off. In 1 year, our car will be payed off. And in 2 years, Sam's card will be payed off. Of course, if all goes right and we stick to our plan. 

Aaahhhh yes, there are many good things to come in this new year. I can feel it. 

With all this said, I wanted to share with you a few new recipes I have made for dinner recently. 

Click on the link to be taken to the source. 

One Pot Wonder Southwest Pasta by The Wholesome Dish.

I followed the recipe exactly. Served with a side salad. 

Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwich by Rachel Schultz

I used whole wheat buns, and Walden Farms Caesar salad dressing. Served with Broccoli. 

Mexican Chicken Casserole by Myrecipes.com

I added diced tomatoes to mine. Next time I make this, I will add in some sour cream and some spice as I think it could use a bit something more. I will also leave off the chips on the top as that didn't really do anything for me; I could do without. Served with Broccoli. 

Feta and Spinach Stuffed Shells by Rachel Schultz

I followed the recipe exactly. The sauce had some kick...perfect for Sam and Grandma, a wee bit too much for my taste, as well as for the kids. Perhaps next time I will leave the sauce off some for the kids and I. It was most delicious, my favorite so far out of all the new recipes I have tried. Served with cauliflower. 

Remember those energy bites I made? You can view that HERE. I've found a few other different recipes and tried two of them. I hope to share those with you in the next few weeks. 

With love,
Mama Hauck

Friday, January 23, 2015

Still Molly. Beautiful, Brave Molly.

Right before the kids went on Christmas break, I got a letter in the mail from the school saying Molly failed her eye exam. My first thought was, "Ohhh! Mmhmmm. Yeah right!" and I didn't put much stock into a school's eye exam. Besides, she just got a clean bill of health from her pediatrician over the summer during her yearly well child check up. 

My doubts aside, we scheduled Molly an eye exam. And one for myself...because, you know, things are getting a little bit fuzzy far off. 

We got Molly into her eye exam over Christmas break. The news was unsettling. She had perfect vision in her right eye, and poor....very, very poor, vision in her left eye. We hadn't noticed it because looking out of both eyes, working together, her right eye corrects and makes up for the poor vision in her left. But when she closes her right eye and only uses her left eye, she is blind as a bat. If things had continued on, her left eye would have become so "lazy" it would have started to cross. We never noticed any issues with her vision, neither did anyone else. She never complained about her vision. I don't know why her pediatrician never picked up on this issue during the eye screening they do there, but boy am I glad the school caught it! I guess you can put stock into a school's eye exam. Thank you, Goldendale Primary School!  

After her eye exam, we explained to Molly she was going to need glasses. Always. Forever. She was none too pleased. We helped her pick out a cute pair of frames and off we went. They would call when the glasses came in. Oh, and Mama needed some glasses and sunglasses too, to help me see things far off when I'm driving, or at an assembly, etc. etc. 

Over the next few days, Molly seemed fine with needing glasses, but progressively she was becoming more and more upset and anxious. She would randomly come up to me and say she didn't want glasses, they were ugly, and then be all melancholy. 

When the call came in Tuesday saying our glasses were in, I told Molly that we would be making the drive to pick them up on Thursday. She cried. Big crocodile tears. It was a hard night. My heart broke for her. How can I teach her to be brave and make her feel ok about needing and wearing glasses if I don't even want glasses? I don't want to feel ugly in them either. And you know what, I'm sad she needs glasses too. Always. Forever. A changed Molly. I don't want a changed Molly. I want my Molly, the one I've always known.  

Come on, Mama. Suck it up. For Molly. This is a good change. A needed change. Besides, glasses or no glasses, she is still Molly. 

We all tried to comfort her the best we could. I wrote a note to her teacher. Her teacher has been giving her pep talks. I've asked friends and family to talk highly of glasses and how awesome she will look and how much better she will be able to see. You know, help quiet her fears. My sweet friend Molly even went out of her way to pick up a book at the library. She also made Molly a pan of banana bread and decorate it with glasses and her name written in raisins for us to pick up on our way to the eye glass place.  Molly was tickled pink! We ate half of it in the car! 

When we got to the eye glass place, Molly was quiet and shy. Completely unhappy. Papa sat with her while they fitted here glasses while I had mine fitted to me. She seemed to perk up a little with the attention. 

After all was said and done, we headed outside for some photos. Yes, I brought my camera! Molly was not having any of that. She kept taking them off, and we had to keep reminding her that these glasses were for always, not for sometimes. Mama's were for sometimes, but Molly's were for always. She was just not happy. But, wait a minute, wait! There's a smile!  

On the way home, we read the book our friend got from the library together. Then Molly looked at all the pictures again herself, really studying and thinking. By the time we got home, I think her view on her glasses had changed. 

This morning she was all smiles, even saying she was excited to show her teacher and her friends. We cleaned her glasses together and went over the rules of glasses ownership. Then I took some more photos because today is such a special day!  

You are beautiful and brave, Miss Molly Lynn Elizabeth. Glasses or no glasses. Inside and out. And we are so very proud of you! 

With love,
Mama Hauck

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My Sweet, Mischievous, Comic Relief

I knew it. From the moment you were born, I knew it. I knew you were to be my comic relief. I knew you would just have that certain demeanor about you. I knew I had softened after my first years as a Mama and you would get away with things your older siblings would not have. I knew it. 

You never cease to amaze me. You never fail to make me wonder what exactly is going on in that little head of yours. You always get me with that smile. Always. 

Ohhhhhhh Timothy. You sweet, mischievous boy! What am I to do with you?

With love,
Mama Hauck

Monday, January 19, 2015

Replacing the Boxed and Canned: Homemade Energy Bites

My friend shared this recipe with me a few weeks ago and I was excited to make them and try them out. Molly and Timothy helped me make them, so that added to the fun of trying out a new recipe! They each took turns helping me scoop and dump our ingredients into the bowl. And when they were all made, they helped me eat the left over scrapings too. :) 

This recipe comes from Money Saving Mom and can be found here: http://moneysavingmom.com/2012/05/4-weeks-to-fill-your-freezer-homemade-energy-bites-day-18.html

Homemade Energy Bites

Makes approx 3 dozen 


*2 cups oatmeal (I used the old fashioned rolled oats from the big bins you can scoop from at my local supermarket...it is cheaper this way).
*1 cup peanut butter or other nut butter (I used Adam's Creamy peanut butter.)
*2/3 cup honey  (I used honey bought from our local Farmers Market.)
*2 cups unsweetened  coconut flakes (Not the sweetened kind you find in the baking isle), wheat germ, sesame seeds, or a mixture of all three. (I just used coconut flakes and found it at my local health food supply store called, The Grist Mill.) 
*1 cup ground flaxseed (I found ground flaxseed at The Grist Mill as well. You can find whole flaxseed at your local supermarket and grind yourself if you prefer.) 
*1 cup mini chocolate chips (I used slightly less than 1 cup.)
*2 teaspoons vanilla
Mix all ingredients together. Roll into balls. 
To freeze: Place balls on a cookie sheet and freeze for one to two hours. Remove from cookie sheet and place in an airtight ziptop freezer bag or other airtight container.
To serve: Remove desired number of balls and thaw at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes. Can also warm for 30 seconds or so in the microwave. You can also eat them straight from the freezer! Whichever way you prefer. 

These are seriously delicious! I filled my cookie sheet and had a little left over, so I just ate what was left in the bowl.....they are delicious freshly made at room temperature, as well as straight out of the freezer (which is how I prefer them!). Sam and the kids really enjoyed them as well. I'm thinking they will be perfect to pop into the kids' lunches for them to enjoy at school! 

The first time I made this recipe, I found it hard to press and roll my mixture into balls. I think my mixture was just a touch too dry.  I also had a few people suggest I use some sort of cooking oil on my hands while I press and roll them so I wouldn't have such an issue with it sticking to my hands. So the second time I made these, I added just a touch more honey to moisten it up just the slightest bit more, and I put some oil on my hands. I had no problems at all pressing the mixture together and then roll them into balls! Problem solved! 

With love,
Mama Hauck

Friday, January 16, 2015

Miss Smarty Pants

Wednesday, my little Kindergartner, Molly, got an award at school! Her first one! We went to the school to watch the Primary School's assembly and watch Molly get called up to accept her award. She was stoked! 

She's been able to count to 100 for a loooooooong time now, but getting an award for it is still super fun!  Today, counting to 100....tomorrow, a doctor. ;) 

Way to go, Molly Lynn! 

With love,
Mama Hauck

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Whats Being Canned: Strawberry Jam

Usually we do our jam in the summer, but this past summer was such a busy one for us, we never got around to it! That's alright, we made sure to freeze all of our berries knowing we would eventually get to it when we had the time. 

Last go-around we made blackberry and blueberry jam. This time we're making strawberry and raspberry, as well as blackberry again. I'm really excited....strawberry and raspberry are my two favorite jams! We haven't done the raspberry or blackberry yet, but we managed to get our strawberry jam done and it is mighty tasty! We made a triple batch and each batch made eight 8oz jars. 

We also used paraffin wax on one of the batches to try it out. Everything I've read says the preferred method of canning now a days is of course the hot water bath. Using paraffin wax is considered "risky" because of possible mold growth on your jam from air possibly leaking in. Still, we tried it out anyway. I'm thinking "risky" by today's standards or not, it must have worked pretty well overall since the human race has survived long enough to invent vacuum sealing! We will consume the jam that was sealed using the paraffin wax first. And of course, don't eat it if it looks suspicious and won't do it again if all of our paraffin wax sealed jams don't turn out. But in my mind, no harm in trying something new that was once the norm! 

Strawberry jam:

5 cups crushed strawberries
1 package regular fruit pectin
7 cups sugar

1. Prepare canner, jars, and lids. 
**If using paraffin wax, place wax in kettle....like an old percolator kettle. Heat low and slow. We put ours on simmer for about 45 minutes. 
2. In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine berries and pectin using a whisk until pectin is all dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Add sugar all at once and return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off foam.
3. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar and screw lid on. 
4. Place jars in a canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes then remove jars, cool, and store. 
**If using paraffin wax, let jam set for about 10 minutes. Wipe rim and inside of rim, making sure all is clean. Pour wax on top of jam, ensuring that jam gets covered completely, you can swirl the jar to make sure wax completely coats the jam and up the sides a bit. Let cool completely. DO NOT place in canner. Your jam with the paraffin wax will be good for 3-4 months. Store in the fridge for added freshness security if you'd like. You could also cut cloth to place on top and secure with band to pretty it up. 

Ok! Who wants a peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich!?

With love,
Mama Hauck

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Jazz Class

Molly started Jazz class this past Friday! She was so excited! She hasn't done dance class in a year and a half...so when the opportunity arose for her to get in on the fun again, I just knew I had to sign her back up.

Classes will be every Friday from 4:30-5:30. So far she's enjoyed the first day. I'm hoping she will grow in skill, grow in confidence, enjoy the company of the other girls, and have a blast!

On our way to dance class, someone fell asleep in the car! Guess my little gal was pooped out after a long day at school.

That's ok, after her little nap in the car, she perked right back up! 

Jazz on, Molly Lynn! 

With love,
Mama Hauck