Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Article: Making Memories

Making Memories by Sarah L.
Originally published in the Summer Newsletter 2013

Have you ever thought about what memories you are making with your kids?  It is hard having little ones running around the house because there is always something to do. A mom is never, ever "done" with chores. There is the laundry, cooking, cleaning, potty training, nursing, diaper changing, errands....It can be both overwhelming and boring at the same time.


With something always on the "To-Do" list it is easy to get caught up in the list of things we need to get done and forget to spend time making memories with the kids. At one of the May MOPS meetings the Mentor Mom challenged us to think about what matters long term. Does a clean house matter or does spending time playing with the kids matter? The answer is obvious but it sure is hard to do when you are caught up in the moment and overwhelmed with housework.


Since I have two kids in elementary school and one still in diapers I have seen how quickly time goes by.  I also know I can't stop it either. If we don't stop and savor these moments they will pass by unnoticed. How do you find a balance?


I came up with a plan I think will work for my family. Each day we will do something fun. It doesn't have to be grand or expensive, it could be baking cookies, going on a walk and exploring nature, cloud watching, dancing, tickling, snuggling, making homemade Popsicles, or having a movie night.  Then once a week, we will just forget the chores and have fun. On this day we will go to the park and have a picnic, go to the movies, the zoo, have a play date, or try something new. We will schedule time together, maybe even put it on our "To-do" list. We created a Summer Bucket List of fun ideas we want to do this summer. At least once a week we are going to check something off our list and in the meantime we will be making memories that will last a lifetime.  I challenge you not to let the summer go by without making some lasting memories with your kids. Enjoy this short stage of motherhood or it will be over before you know it. The laundry can wait but our babies won’t.

The kids and I will be working hard on our summer bucket list and I will try to post the highlights for you.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My Favorite Things: Websites


Want to try a new restaurant but not sure where to go?
Are you pregnant and not sure what baby products you really need?
Are you unsure of what to cook on a busy weeknight?

What better place to turn than your fellow MOPS moms for ideas?

Our blog feature My Favorite Things - will give you some ideas of where to start.
Each month we will feature a different question and recommendations will be listed by other MOPS moms in the group.

This month's feature:
What is your favorite website?

  • Babycenter - Melony S.
  • Babycenter - Ashley C.
  • Facebook - Jessica F.
  • Pinterest, Jane H.
  • Goodreads - Stephanie H.
  • Any food blog - Emily H.
  • Pinterest - Heather J.
  • Pinterest - Stephanie L.
  • Pinterest - Alicia P.
  • Pinterest - Lindsay R.
  • Pinterest - Amy S.
  • Pinterest, Facebook, Buzzfeed - Raychel V.
  • Amazon - Laura W.
  • Olathe Public Library - Erin B.
  • Pinterest - Karla T.
  • Facebook - Julie K.
  • Babycenter - Angela A.
  • Google - Sara B.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Article: A Beautiful Mess

A Beautiful Mess
By Sarah L.

A beautiful mess? I admit it, my house is a mess. On any given day there are discarded shoes by the garage door, school papers on my kitchen table, random Legos everywhere, a sock here, a sippy cup there, and a beloved stuffed animal laying on the floor waiting for nap time. My house is not dirty necessarily. I do clean and I clean often but there is no doubt that it is very messy. Sometime between child # 2 and child # 3 I just let the idea of having a clean, sorted, and organized house go.


Admitting that I have a messy house is surprisingly not the hard part. It sort of comes with the job of motherhood. The thing that is very hard to admit is that sometimes I feel like a mess and not a beautiful one either. The theme for the MOPS 2013-14 year is "A Beautiful Mess". I don't know about you, but the words beautiful and mess don't seem to go together.

I certainly know what a mess looks like but what does a beautiful mess look like? "The theme reminds moms that beauty can come out of their difficult spots." Can you think of a time when beauty came out of something difficult? How about motherhood, marriage, relationships, or hard work? All of those things can be very difficult but beauty can certainly come out of them. "The grime of mothering young children brings the beauty of motherhood. The bruises of life can bring God's redemption." (www.mops.org)

Each of us has something that is both beautiful and messy in our lives. I would guess if you thought about what is most beautiful in your life there is a bit of messy story behind it.  This year MOPS is asking us to embrace our stories. "Embrace Your Story" reminds moms that their past, present, and future can be used for good.  God knows where each of us has been, where we are today, and has set in motion where we are headed." (www.mops.org)

Isn't it wonderful to know that we don't have to be "clean" or "perfect" when we are in a great group like MOPS? We can be our beautiful, messy, selves because everyone - yes EVERYONE - has something that is difficult and messy that makes eaach of us beautiful in a unique and special way.

The question I should be asking is not what does a beautiful mess mean to me but what does a beautiful mess mean to God? God sees us as beautiful and perfect and his redemptive love is there to restore us and give us hope. If you are going through a hard time in your life right now and it is hard to see the beauty in your story, turn to your Father's loving arms where he sees you not as a mess but as a beautiful and capable woman and mother. You are beautiful, embrace your story!



If you have something going on in your life right now and you would like the Steering Team to pray for you please let one of the Coordinators or your Discussion Group Leader know or fill out a prayer request card at the next MOPS meeting.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Freezer Meal Recipes: June 2014

Chicken Chili 2-3 Chicken Breast (or 5 thighs)

2 cups of Black Beans (1 can)
1 can of Rotel (or 2 diced tomatoes)
1 cup corn (1 small can)
1 onion, diced
2 Tble cumin
1 Tble chili powder
1⁄2 packet of Ranch seasoning
1⁄2 cup of chicken stock/broth
1 8oz block of cream cheese
Salt/Pepper to taste

Place all ingredients, except cream cheese, in freezer bag. Mix/shake to incorporate seasonings.

When ready to cook, defrost, and place in crock pot. Place cream cheese block on top. Cook on low 6-8 hours.

When cooking is complete use a fork to shred chicken and mix in cream cheese.



BBQ Pulled

Chicken (Breast or Thighs) 2-3 Chicken Breast (or 5 thighs)
1 small onion
1-2 tsp of liquid smoke (optional)
1 cup of chicken broth
Salt/Pepper to taste
1 bottle of favorite BBQ sauce

Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Place chicken and onions and place in freezer bag.

This can go in crock pot frozen, but you can defrost if you like. Add the chicken broth and liquid smoke, cook on low for 6 hours.

Drain excess liquid from pot, shred the chicken, and add in your favorite BBQ sauce to desired consistency.

This can be used as taco meat (with coleslaw topping) or as sandwich meat!


Fajitas (Steak orChicken)

1 lb of chicken (or steak)
3 Bell peppers (colors of your choice) sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 pkg taco seasoning (or about 1⁄4 cup of homemade)
Place all ingredients in freezer bag and mix/shake to evenly coat

Place in crock pot frozen or thawed. Cook on low for 6-8 hrs or high for 3-4

When cooking is complete, shred meat up and mix with liquid in the bottom of the pot. Serve on tortillas with sour cream, guacamole, cheese, lettuce, ect.

Also would be good with eggs as a breakfast burrito!


Meatloaf

1 lb of ground meat (beef, veal, turkey, etc)
1⁄2 cup of quick oats
1⁄2 small onion minced
2 stalks of celery minced
1 Tble Worcestershire sauce
1 Tble ketchup
1 tsp dried parsley
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste
1⁄4 cup or less of milk, just to get

Mix all ingredients in a bowl to combine, Shape into a loaf and place in freezer bag.

Defrost in fridge the night before. When ready to cook, spray crock pot with nonstick spray and place loaf directly in pot (if you have a 6 qt pot, you can put it in a pan first and then place it in, but it’s no necessary, it will just fit) Cook on high for 4 hrs, or low 6-8hrs. Let meatloaf rest in pot for 30-60 minutes before serviing.

You can top it with a ketchup/mustard/Worcestershire/brown sugar glaze, or eat it as is.


Beef and Broccoli (or Chicken)

1 lb of boneless chuck roast (or chicken breast) cut into thin strips
1 cup of broth (beef or chicken depending on what meat you are using)
1⁄2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tble sesame oil (or vegetable oil if you don’t want to buy sesame just for this recipe)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tble corn starch
2 bunches of broccoli florets (frozen would work too)

Mix Broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and oil to create a sauce. Place meat in freezer bag and pour sauce in. This can go in crock pot defrosted or frozen. Cook on low for 6-8 hrs. when cooking is complete remove 1⁄2 cup of sauce and mix in corn starch until dissolved. Return to pot and mix to thicken the sauce. Add the broccoli and continue to cook for 30 min. on high (the sauce has to boil to thicken)Serve over cooked rice or lo mein noodles

Taco Chicken (Breast or Thighs)

2-3 Chicken Breast (or 5 thighs)
Salt/Pepper to taste
1⁄2 cup of favorite salsa
1⁄2 cup of chicken broth

Mix seasoned chicken and salsa into freezer bag.This can go into crock pot frozen or defrosted. Add chicken broth and cook on low 6 hrs. Drain excess liquid and shred chicken.This can be used in tacos, nachos, or in various casseroles.

Chicken Teriyaki 1 lb chicken breast

1 cup chicken broth
1⁄2 cup teriyaki sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tble garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients except chicken into a small bowl to create a sauce. Pour over chicken in freezer bag.When ready to cook, place in crock pot frozen or thawed, and cook on low 4-6 hrs. Serve over rice with a vegetable of your choice.


Bacon and Cheese Potatoes

1⁄4 pound bacon diced (you can cook it beforehand but you don’t need too)
2 medium onions
4 medium potatoes cut into large
cubes
1⁄2 lb shredded cheddar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tble butter

Place all ingredients, except butter in freezer bag and mix/shake to evenly distribute.When ready to use, defrost and line crock pot with foil. It helps to prevent sticking and in this case, mushy potatoes. Layer half the mixture in crock pot, dot with 1⁄2 the butter, place remaining mixture in and top with remaining butter. Cook on low 6-8 hrs or high for 4 hrs. Awesome for breakfast, or as a side to a grilled protein

Roasted Veggies Vegetables of choice, but therecipe calls for:

2 Bell Peppers cut in large slices
1 sweet potato cubed
3 small zucchini cut in large chunks
3 Garlic gloves peeled
Salt
Italian Seasoning
Olive Oil

Mix all ingredients in Freezer Bag, and mix/shake to evenly coat. When ready to use: Defrost veggies, spray crock pot with nonstick spray, and cook on high for 3 hours stirring occasionally.When complete, drain liquid off—but be sure to KEEP IT!! You just made homemade veggie broth to use in your next soup!

Great side to a grilled protein.

Homemade Applesauce

10-12 apples of choice
2 Tble Brown Sugar (or Agave Syrup)
1 tsp lemon juice
1Tble cinnamon

Peel and dice apples, add to freezer bag and then add other ingredients. When ready to cook, defrost mixture, and cook on low for 5 hours.Use an immersion blender and blend to desired smoothnessAdd granola and top ice cream, mix into oatmeal, or eat it plain!