Secret Ingredient Family Banana Bread

Our family LOVES banana bread! And  I love to bake, win win! I have tried several recipes over the years and some we liked and some not so much, and then I found “IT”, the recipe of all recipes and the search ended with this 1. I did tweak it a little as I do with almost every recipe I come across, after all I love adding my own touch to things.

Banana bread is 1 of those things that when you go to a gathering or out to eat and it is served you take a small bite to make sure it is gobble down worthy.You may bite into a pasty/sticky bread, a too dry bread, a bread overloaded with nuts (not my personal liking at all), or a bread that is just right. Banana bread roulette I call it, hehe.

The recipe I am about to share with you is so flexible and delish! You can make bread loaves, cake size, or muffins with it! You can add stuff to it like nuts, ya know if you are into that sort of thing, cranberries (who knew!?), peppermint/choc/butterscotch chips,  something I like to occasionally add is Nutella, yes a swirl of yummy choco/hazelnut goodness! The possibilities are endless!

1 of my favorite things about baking is how much my kids love to help! I must admit I do have days that I want to get in and out of the kitchen as quickly as possible and don’t want to deal with the extra time and clean up that kids in the kitchen bring (hey I am only human!) but for the most part I love it when they take turns helping and when they ask all sorts of fun questions like when cracking eggs, “Hey mom didn’t you say chicken lay eggs, does that mean they come from their butt area? And if so how the heck does a big hard egg come out of a little chicken, ouch!?” or like “What would happen if I take the high speed mixer out of the bowl while it is on (as batter flies all over each of us)!?” Oh the joys of parenting!

This recipe will make 2 loaf pans or 1 cake pan or approx 12-18 muffins

Banana Bread

  • 3 cups of white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups ripe mashed banana (I don’t always have the patience for the ripening process and have made it with yellow and still tastes great!)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (secret ingredient! YES sour cream! Crazy right!?)
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • OPTIONAL  1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325F (165 degrees C)
  • Lightly grease and flour/cooking spray your two 8×4 loaf pans, cake pan or use muffin/cupcake liners for a muffin pan
  • In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
  • Stir in the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition
  • Stir in the bananas and sour cream
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and pecans (if desired), mix
  • Combine banana mixture with flour mixture and mix just until combined
  • Pour batter into prepared pan(s)
  • Bake in a preheated over for 55-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean
  • Remove from pan and place on wire rack to cool
  • Serve warm or cold (just an FYI this is SO yummy served warm with a lil butter spread on it)

If you are going to add “extras” like choco chips etc you would add them to your banana mixture before combining with flour mixture. If you want to add Nutella (highly recommended hehe) then you will take a small amount of the already mixed batter before pouring it into pans, put some (about 1/4-1/2 of a cup) in a small bowl add a tablespoon or 2 of Nutella and mix it together, then after you pour your batter into desired pan(s) you will spoon small amounts of this Nutella mix and swirl it in with a butter knife.

Warning: Once you make and eat this banana bread there will be no other banana bread that can compare, so when taking a bite of banana bread someone else has made make sure you take small bites and be prepared to fake it!

P.S. If you make this and love it or if you are from another planet and make it and hate it please share your thoughts and comments with us! We also love recipe shares so feel free to post a link to your recipes in the comment section as well!

My kids LOVE to play like they own their own bakery/kitchen when they cook with me and have their own aprons, bake-ware etc. Here is a link of just some of the stuff they use and love, and as always such a great deal, most with free shipping!

 Happy Baking!

Mama Bear Plus 6

 

 

Dreams can become reality

I was born and raised in Tucson, AZ. I lived there for 36 years, till July 17th of 2012 when I packed up 5 of my 6 kiddos (my oldest daughter would soon learn she too had outgrown Tucson and join her mama along with her then fiancé just 2 short months later) & my 2 labs in my suburban and left behind all I ever known following the moving truck with all we owned in it!

 Tucson, when you get burned out on a place you just know it is time to go & I was burned the heck out. On top of the fact it is not voted to greatest place to raise kids, and I have plenty of those! As for us, we had seen and done it all! Is it a bad place to live? No not really. There are actually people who love it there and will never leave. There are people who have it on their list of places to move when they retire, which is a great idea for those who love the heat and desert!  And even weirder, people vacation there in the summer & never leave the hotel pool!

I was ready for a change! Ready to leave behind the negative memories. Ready to create a new life in a new place with new people. Ready for a peaceful place. Ready for water, lots of water and trees lots of trees! A new beginning!? YES please!

I had been burned out of Tucson for several years but as time went on the urge to go got stronger. Even when I tried to convince myself that I should stay I couldn’t and let’s face it I am good at talking myself into stuff & could not get past the desire to GO! I had spent many hours researching places to move to  over the years that was very family friendly, places that had water, green and trees. Places that had stuff to do, places that had nightlife but not overcrowded with clubs, places that had good schools and affordable living. Places that had NO natural disasters, that it is important you know!

After having a list of 10 I narrowed it down to 5 then to 2. My finals- Colorado Springs & Spokane. How do I choose!? Write them on paper, put them in a hat and draw!? Eeney Meeny Moe!? Look  for jobs in both places and see what happens!? Geez this is hard! As I am praying, contemplating, and struggling with this I decide to start looking for a house. Do you know how scary Craigslist can be!? SCAM City! Found so many nice houses that were attached to scam after scam… Then it hits me! Place my own “searching for house” in both places and see what happens! As I pray God please bring the house that is meant for us in the place you want us to be!  Yes I am a big dreamer aren’t I!? But I can never dream bigger than my God can make happen!

 We received many emails about houses, some scams yes but some real people with real houses in both places. Most not for us but a few that would work.  We got excited over a few and even placed deposits on 2 that fell thru, both in Spokane. Frustration sets in… Maybe He wants me in Tucson. Why would He want to punish me like that!? He taught me patience during those trying months no doubt! Then the email that changed my life came in the early months of 2012! An email from a couple that live in a house and had another house that they wanted to rent out/sell  in a little place right outside of Spokane, Nine Mile Falls. Isn’t the name enough to put a smile on your face!? It just sounds beautiful! After many emails and phone calls back and forth I knew this was it! SO much so I sent my daughter & future son in law to WA to see it & take lots of pictures for me since I couldn’t go due to work (well just being honest, to make sure it wasn’t another scam hehe)

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The week they were there they fell in love with the area, the house, all was a go 110%! My daughter kept saying “Mom this house and area is so you, it is so beautiful, everyone here owns labs, it is somewhere  you will love to no end, you must go! And the kitchen mom, it IS the kitchen of your dreams!” (she wasn’t kidding!) That girl knows me all too well! Spouse at the time lined up a great job offer while I would spend my time working on the business we planned to open there, schools checked out to be beyond excellent, all seemed to just fall into place…

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Fast forward past the crappy next few months of my marriage ending, closing businesses, almost backing out of move (after all what crazy lady would pick up 5 kids and 2 dog and move with no spouse, no job, no plan to a place I had never even visited!), SO many life changes and we are right back to where dreams really do come true! July 17th 2012 we leave “all we ever knew” to a new “all we could ever dream of”!

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P.S. If you could move anywhere, where would you go!? If it is somewhere other then where you live now, what is holding you back!?

Mama Bear Plus 6

See what happens when you are nice to people

At Walmart with my son last week picking up the rest of his party stuff as he is bouncing everywhere and using his VERY good imagination as he “shoots zombies” and hides behind my cart and others carts (oh yes we are those people that others frown upon in stores for my kid being just that… a kid)

Mind you we have already been to 4 other stores and we are ready for lunch and a movie so I am awaiting a break down from him and/or myself at any moment. But he is so content just being himself. This is my queue to get what I need and get out, 45 minutes in this Walmart trip…it is only a matter of time at this point.

As we are checking out, he is like 90% of other kids and is asking for gum, candy, beef jerky and anything else he sees that they place there just for the littles to beg their parents for. I told him he needed to wait and that I would give him a quarter on our way out for a gum. He was okay with that, thankfully.

On our way out we are passing Subway located inside of Walmart and he notices an elderly woman that is checking out has dropped some money so he runs over and picks it up as she is walking away and runs up to her and says “Mam you dropped this.” She stopped and looked in her hand and looked at him as he stared at her with his hand stretched out and her dropped money in it. And she says as she takes her money from his hand “Oh my I guess I did, what a wonderful young man you are to bring it to me, thank you so much. This is for you.” she says and hands him the shiniest quarter ever and says “That was so very nice of you, always be good to people and be honest.” His eyes lit up like she had handed him a check for a million dollars! He says “Thank you to you. I will!” as he runs in my direction showing me the quarter and says “Mama, see what happens when you are nice to people! Now I can buy my gum and you can use your quarter you were going to give me to buy you a gum!”

As we both walk out chewing gum far too big for our mouths mama can’t help but smile at what a great lesson my son just learned all on his own.

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P.S. Share with us a  proud mama or dad moment that brought a smile to your face or a tear to your eye!

Mama Bear Plus 6

How is my oldest child still alive?

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How is my child still alive!?

A friend of mine recently had a baby and had asked me about any good new mom blogs, we talked for a bit about what she has been told, read and thinks is good and not so good advice. Wow times have changed haven’t they!?

Being a young mom when I had my 1st daughter and so clueless I must have read every book there was to read on pregnancy, birth and raising kids. I am an only child raised by my mom, grandma and uncles so my mom was not ooberly full of advice and info so I went by what I read. When I had my 1st daughter over 20 years ago there was no internet, no groups or hangouts online, no parenting advice columns, we new moms read real books in real libraries or magazines on grocery store shelves.

I read that breast feeding was good but was not  supported in the hospital I delivered, they said formula was better with all the extras breast milk didn’t have(whatever that was!) plus they said it was easier then nursing (which I learned with the next baby was NOT the case!)so I gave up after 2 short months. How was I to know any better!?Hey at least she was born when there was an actual formula instead of the home made stuff from back in the day right!? As far as my next 5, “breast was best” was making its way and was more encouraged as time went on so to follow the good mama standards they were all breast fed at different lengths. I can tell you honestly that I don’t see a difference in breast or formula babies when it comes to MY “all so different kiddos” now that they are older. So for all you formula choosing mamas, no need to be feeling guilty!

 No solids till 6 months but you could put rice cereal in bottles to help them sleep better!? Huh… Well of course she had lots of rice cereal in a bottle; they actually made bottles for solid foods so no need to cut the nipples of her regular bottles! Started the rest of the children on solids as they were each ready, and I do believe that I added cereal to all their bottles even when they stopped selling the “solids bottle”. Just an fyi, no allergies in any of my kiddos.

  sassy-bpa-free-baby-food-nursers_BG02470No need to use bottled water tap was fine but you must boil bottles and nipples before use so I did. I must be honest here, I only did this for the 1st few weeks then washed by hand and that’s it. I did however buy the Playtex bottles with the liners (clean bottle every time kinda bottle lol), even if the 1st type had the brown rubber nipple you had to stretch over the top of the bottle and I spilt at least half of the bottles I prepared. Thank goodness for the advance in bottle technology as the years went on. Was a Playtex, Avent and Dr. Brown bottle user.  I know now if I had an infant I would be lost without a doubt over which bottle out of the 200 on the baby isle I would use.

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Do not let her stand on her legs till 6+ months or she will be bowlegged for life. Let’s face it, trying to get an active 4 month old to stay seated on your lap for long periods of time was not going to happen, so she stood and jumped up and down on every lap that would allow it. I spent the 1st 2 years staring at her legs as she walked to make sure I addressed the pediatrician if I was a glimpse of bow in her legs.  By the time I had my 3rd daughter I bought her a jumperoo and exersaucer to exercise her legs by the time she 3 months and guess what, no bow in any of their legs!

She should be woke up at night to be changed and fed. This got me confused with the whole “sleep when baby sleeps” advice so I went with the sleep part. Followed the same with each 1 of the rest of the children, they all seem fine today, at least I don’t think it had any long term affects.

Rub her down with alcohol if she ever ran a temp. I must admit I did this. Didn’t you with your infant!? Although I don’t think it helped much. Never tried this again after the 1st year of my 1st daughters life. I even administered all those recalled cough syrups they do not even make any more, oopise.

Babies slept best when the room was dark and quiet. I was a complete sucker for this advice! Dang this made my life so much harder than it needed to be, but I learned fast with my next 5 children that this advice was a huge no no. The rest of my babies could sleep in the living room with the normal house stuff, other kids, vacuum running etc. Ahh what a blessing!  Thank goodness I learned that advice was NO good fast!

Belly to sleep so they didn’t choke if they vomited was stressed in every book I read so I made sure I did that. Good grief how scary now that I think back. By the time I had my 2nd Pampers had “back to sleep” printed on all their diapers and hospitals started teaching this. So the rest were back sleepers till they learned to roll. As a person whose life has been affected by losing a child that even though he was not mine we loved him dearly, to SIDS I cannot stress this enough! Even side sleeping is not considered safe anymore!

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Co-sleeping was a huge no. So she was in her crib from day 1. My 2nd daughter as well. My next 4 were all co-sleepers from about 6+ months till they were ready to sleep in their own bed. Confession-my son is 5 and still sleeps with his mama. I know he will soon be in his own bed so I am enjoying this as long as I can. Co-sleeping is not for everyone and I do not suggest it for every family, especially families with newborns. But then again that is only my personal opinion. I have been reading SO many oh so sad stories in the news about infants that lives were lost due to co-sleeping,  ugh. SIDS may or may not be preventable but if there is a way to reduce the chances then, do that lots of that, the loss is far too tremendous!

Do not pick up baby every time she cries cause you will spoil her. Let her cry it out. I am a complete sucker for a baby cry! This was advice that went in 1 ear and out the other. My own personal feelings took over and I felt the need to comfort my infants every whimper they made and will do the same for any infant in my care, always. And sure as heck can’t wait to “spoil” the crap out of my grandbabies! They don’t cry to annoy, they need something, even if it is just to be loved and feel close to you.  Yes some are a lil more needy than others, so are adults!

The good ole whiskey on teething gums. Can honestly say I never tried this. But am not judging or knocking you if you have or do! Good ole frozen rags, Oragel and teething tabs work just fine.

If she starts to suck her thumb make sure to out hot sauce so she doesn’t keep doing it & have buck teeth. Oh dear, I just couldn’t bring myself to do that. Out of 6 I had 2 pacifiers users that didn’t “abuse” the length of pacifier time and 1 finger sucker that took some time to break but all is good without hot sauce (okay so what if she needs braces in a few years haha!)

Let the TV occupy your child as long as it is somewhat educational. Guilty. Barney, Big Comfy Couch, Sesame Street, etc was always on at our house and yes my 1st daughter spent much of her day walking around singing and dancing to these shows! As more kids came they begin to play more together and outside etc but to this day my youngest who is 5 still loves some PBS and Sprout within reason!

Bite your child back if she bites another child. I think I may have done this but I think it was when I got bit I then lightly bit back. Well maybe not lightly but I know for sure I didn’t break skin! (I am so only kidding!)

I know I missed lots and there is so much more out there, please please share any and/or all the weird, bad, or even good parenting advice you have gotten and either followed or didn’t follow! Can’t wait to hear these!

FYI: Do not follow anything that I did or do with your own babies until you consult your child’s doctor. ALL babies are different.

Mama Bear Plus 6

When tragedy strikes

What do you tell your children when a tragedy strikes in our world?

How do you respond when tragedy hits?

Do you let them watch the news coverage?

Have you ever considered going to help where the help is needed?

We live in a world where bad things happen. Period. We can try our best to keep our kids from hearing about it, if that is your choice but if they are in public school it is impossible to do so. And my thoughts are that I would rather my younger children hear about this stuff from me and/or at home where I can explain and well… kinda sugar coat it and make them feel safe. It is hard to explain to a young child that some people are sick and need help and if they don’t get it then they do bad things or that there may be times when someone is so hurt and sad and that they don’t have anyone to help them feel or get better and they make choices that are unsafe and hurts others or how Mother Nature is not able to be controlled and sometimes she brings big bad storms to different areas. I explain that we will do all we can to stay safe at home and at stores etc and that teachers and school staff are trained to keep them safe from bad people while they are at school. I explain that yes it bad when bad storms it places and take people’s homes and businesses but that we have to see beyond that and see how wonderful it is that people all work together and build relationships and new towns and homes and it is all fresh and new and with it comes many new friendships. Not sure my answers are the best and not sure how other parents answer these questions or concerns but it keeps my kiddos concern for themselves and others at a minimum and we all know that they should not have to worry about the big bad world as children, they will have enough of that when they grow up.

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Honestly it tears my heart up when I hear bad news, duh, doesn’t it hurt everyone!? I am pretty good at not freaking out too bad when I hear of crap on the news or radio in front of the kids but do express my sadness & concern, after all they need to see how we adults handle tragedy so they know they can go thru the emotions as well and will get thru it. Eyes are always on us parents. Yes even in our weakest moments…

We are not big TV watchers in our house and surely do not watch the news very often at all. When needed, I do allow them to watch the news. And I am right there while they watch it and explain what is going on and the updates etc. When something bad has happened I do not allow them to watch the coverage over and over and not after the 1st day. I feel as a small child sees the news coverage it will scare them and make them nervous as it is no matter how much I tell them they are safe and if they keep watching it their little minds may think that it is happening over and over as they may not understand that it is recorded and is just being replayed and oh how SO scary that would be for a little 1.

1 day as we are watching some severe storm coverage and how the towns had been leveled my 7 year old daughter is watching the coverage with me and say “Mommy who is helping them? Who can help them if their cars and tools are all gone in the storm?” I explained that people from all over go and help. I tell her America pulls together and people fly and drive there from all over the US and help them pick up the pieces, hug them when needed, get them to shelter, help them rebuild etc. And she says “Well we have a big family and we could help a lot if we all go there.” She had a great point and what a HUGE blessing that would be to be able to go and help others when help is needed. What an impact that would have on our whole family to truly be able to help out where help is needed and to be able to touch someone else’s life. So on the list of things we NEED to & will do it goes.

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P. S. These are just my thoughts and the way I handle these things and life with my kids. It may not be “right” or “wrong” but it is what works for us. I would LOVE to hear how others handle these types of things! Please share your thoughts!

 Mama Bear Plus 6

Our kids with social media, apps and sexting, oh my!

Every parent says it won’t happen to them or their child. I am here to tell you that you & your child are not excluded from the negative  social media/apps and sexting world. If you have kids of any age, please take a moment to read this and to open your mind up about what is out there at our children’s fingertips, and this is only a small portion of it!

I am a mama of 6. I have said “I have been there done that, it will not happen to my kids I keep an eye on all their activity, I know who they are friends with. I check their phones and FB accounts” and the list goes on. I can tell you that I was not prepared for what I did find out when I dug a little deeper about what my kids were really up too! Always trust that mama instinct! From that point on I want to inform all parents! I want to shout it across the mountain tops! Let’s keep our children’s innocence as long as we can folks!

Remember MySpace!? Was it just me or did it seem like technology was amazing but semi innocent back then compared to now!? I had 1, my older 3 daughters had 1 and it never seemed like it was problematic with negative stuff. But now a whole new world is upon us and we as parents are just trying to stay caught up with it all…

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So I will break down what I know about social media/apps and sexting. I will also include what teenagers from several age groups have to say about each app. Some opinions are from my children and some from some other teens I have talked to. Reminder: These are all just our views on these types of things. They will NOT be the same for every person or family. Take what you want and leave the rest.

Let’s start with FB… Wow what a great thing this is for some people! I have found friends from high school, long lost family members and have connected with some pretty amazing people, like all of you, after all you most likely clicked on my blog link that is somehow connected to FB. It has been a great tool in so many cases. Sadly FB is not such a positive place for everyone, especially the little people. The amount of lies, harassment, bullying, negative drama and straight up ugliness that FB is used for in the teen world is shocking! No not all of it is horrible but it is a great place to get caught up in it all. This is where us parents need to step in. Always have your child’s password, always. Check their messages often, do keep in mind that they will delete the 1s they do not want you to see. If you feel like there is missing info in a message conversation it is probably due to some of the message being deleted. Ask questions, check out their FB friends list. I often look at ages and what some of the people are up to and if I don’t like what I see I delete them for them while I am on their FB. There are rules, new rules due to me finding stuff I did NOT like a few months back when I happened to dig up some disturbing info, like lies and fake pics, and not so positive stuff. FB deleted for 4 months and new 1 was allowed to be created recently with new rules. Break them, FB gone till you move out! These are our children, we are the parents they need to protect them from all we can as long as we can. Rules, only add people you know, no guys over 18, do NOT erase messages, know I will be on it daily and sometimes several times a day, and anything else I can think of as I go along in this world of parenting.

Teens say: “FB is really cool, it helps us stay in touch with people from other states as friends have moved, it is also a great place to share pics of our lives. We like it to be able to “spy” on each other and see what our enemies are doing as well. We are friends with people on there that we are not true friends with just to be nosy about what goes on in their life. (hey at least they were being honest!) FB can be really bad. I have had friends that were bullied so bad on there. I have had friends want to kill themselves over things someone else posted about them.”

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Now onto Twitter. I use my Twitter account for my fan/blog page and that’s it. Some people I know live by Tweeting, to each is own! My kids have 1 and I check it often but there is not too much that goes on in that part of the world in this family. Although I do keep in mind that that can change at any moment so my guard stays up.

Teen says: “I don’t use Twitter. I have made several accounts and say I will start to tweet but don’t. I like it to update my every single thing I do everyday, hey some people want to know this stuff. I use it to retweet things I like.”

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Any of you heard of Tumblr? I will explain it as a teens type of blog kinda thing. People follow each other and they post and re-post pics, videos and stuff from each other or the internet. As with anything else, there is good and bad stuff about it. The good, there is some pretty neat stuff that people from all over the world share, some positive upbeat stuff that I would even “re-blog” if I was into that sort of thing. And then the bad… You cannot control what the people you or your child follow posts. There is a lot of sex on there, I mean a lot. And there is no way, at least that I have found, to edit it out or block every sex posts, pic or video unless you just delete the Tumblr. Soo my talk with my kids, if you see something that is inappropriate, unfollow that person, if I am on your account and I see something I don’t like I will unfollow them for you, you are welcome! If it keeps up, Tumblr goes bye bye.

Teens say: “Tumblr is great. I don’t talk to anyone on there but I love all the stuff I can repost that means a lot to me. I love all the gay rights support they post on there that teaches people to love everyone. I love all the great pics from all over the world, it lets me see places I may never see in person.”

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Oh lil ol Instagram. I love the app, I use it often, I follow a few people and so on. For teens it isn’t too bad. There are no rules and people can post what they want. If your child follow those type of people that posts pics of drugs, boobs, sex etc then they will see it in their feed. Again, UNFOLOW those types of people! The good, there is not much bullying or harassing on there, at least not for my kids, yet.

Teens say: “I love Instagram. I love the filters I can use. I am not sure why they started allowing videos but it is cool I guess. I like being able to use hashtags since I don’t use them on Twitter. My cat has his own Instagram”

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And then there is Snapchat… Aww that cute lil ghost figure. That must be a cute lil app. NOT! Being able to send pictures to people of any and everything you want and they can only view it for 3-10 seconds for it never to be seen again, or so you think. Now people are screen shotting your Snapchats and lots of boob and other area pics are floating around the internet, oopsie! No parents, just no.

Teens say: “Oh Snapchat, you mean Sexchat. Funner than texting but gets out of hand very quickly. Fun when you make funny faces with friends. I don’t use it, my parents said no way when they took my phone and opened a not so great Snapchat from a friend.”

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Vine. I use Vine, it is a cute and easy way to upload my kids silliness without losing all my FB friends and family from bombarding my wall with them hehe. Again with this app, it is all about who you follow. And for kids without a smart phone and access to this app, Vine is everywhere! And there are some “not so good for our kids viewing” Vines. All you can do is beware of what your child is viewing as best you can.

Teens say: “Vine is so awesome. I have seen so many great Vines. I am addicted to watching Vines and yes I have seen some Xrated stuff but I just move on. I follow lots of people on Vine and sometimes even the best people post sex Vines. I don’t know what the hype is, I think Vine is so dumb.”

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Now these are the only apps that I am familiar with and that majority of teens including mine use. There are SO many more! I beg of you to please please share with all of us your experience with these or any other apps that you know about and what you have seen with each 1.

Last but not least…Sexting. UGH UGH UGH! This is sooooo awful in this day and age. It can be as simple as :You have a nice butt” to very aggressive sexting and can and most likely will get out of hand very quickly. If your child has a regular phone you can check their messages often, check who they are calling and texting (may or may not do you any good to “prevent” this) and make sure you talk openly with them about what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t. Now if you child has a smart phone, this can be good and bad. They are open to a whole world of apps and “stuff”, Ipods allow this too with NO way form you to monitor it, just an FYI on that 1! Verizon has the neatest “Family Base” addition that you can add to your lines and have access to it all! I love that idea, until they turn 18 of course! If you have Verizon look it up and if not then check with your provider to see what child safety options they offer and get them! The texting allows kids to be people that they are not and sadly these days kids want to be someone else and better than this person or that so the lies that accumulate is unreal. Keep a close eye parents, our kids are worth it 🙂

Teens say: “Oh sexting, yes I guess you can call it that. Sexting, hmm is that what they call it these days? Yes my boyfriend and I do it, we are not allowed to spend lots of time together so we have intimate conversations via phone or text. Hey at least it is safer than having sex. It has gotten out of hand for me before and it scared me.”

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P.S. Please share any comments, info, advice, etc that you have on this topic or 1 related to it! We can all use resources and info to help keep all our children safe! Also too, Pin, share and tell your friends about this and other blogs and info! Sharing is caring 🙂

Mama Bear Plus 6

 

Meal planning or go with the flow?

A common question I get asked often is: How does your family plan your meals!?

Are you the family that shops for what you are cooking the same day and make everyday or other day trips to grocery store?

Are you the family that shops 1 time a month and stock piles everything?

Or do you shop a few times a month for your meals?

Do you even cook!? Or is it can/cold stuff/boxed/microwaved (is microwaved mean cooked!?) every night for dinner?

I have met families that do not cook and eat out pretty much everyday aside from TV dinners. Hey if that’s what works for you!

I am always curious to know how others do it and what works for them.

With my big family I feel that some type of routine/schedule/plan is a MUST! For the mind and bank account!

We work with a 2 week meal plan. It goes a little something like this, on every other Sunday we get out a notepad I start a list of things we need for breakfasts, lunches snacks, household, etc. We have a list on the fridge and when we are out of something it gets written down on the list, whether it be toilet paper or nail polish remover (which we use SO much of in our house!) toothpaste, bread, or if there is just something the kids saw or thought about that they want or would like to try. We pick many of our ideas from Pinterest. We actually took a 1  month Pinterest meal challenge and out of everything we cooked from there we only had 1 fail! Each kiddo gets to choose what they want for dinner(s). They LOVE being able to have a say so and picking foods they enjoy and/or can help prepare. Makes them feel important and that makes me smile 🙂  The dinners are written on the right side of the paper. We list 10-14 of them and 2 special desserts (1 for each week). Then I take each dinner and write down what we need to buy for it and gather any coupons I may have that I need for this store trip. I make a Costco list and a grocery store list.

We then take this awesome meal planner that my oldest daughter made me and put our meals up for the 1st week. It makes it so easy to know what to thaw out, soak, prepare, etc. for that nights and the next nights dinner,  talk about making life simpler in little ways like this! I try to prepare meats and sides that can be used for more than 1 meal, for example, boiling and shredding chicken breast for tacos 1 night and chicken noodle soup a few nights later. Or home made re-fried beans for a side for dinner 1 night and bean and cheese burritos next night or night after. Makes cooking easier and groceries stretch out longer. Who doesn’t love that!?

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This is what works for our family! Does it mean that I don’t ever have that annoying “in the middle of the week missing 1 item for the dinner I already started making” store trip!? Of course not, it happens occasionally but for the most part groceries and feeding the cubs is not something that gives me a headache anymore with our method and that I am SO grateful for!

kitchen fun

P.S. What works for you and your family!? Please share any tips or ideas that you may have! We all learn from each other and sharing is caring 🙂

Mama Bear Plus 6

What does your Sunday look like!?

Our wild and oh so enjoyable Sundays begin with me trying my best to get up before every else so I can have a tasty cup of hot coffee on my patio enjoying the temporary quiet, just God, nature & me.

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Kids up at 8am (if we are attending church that week and if we are not it is a “get up when you want, stay in your jams” kinda day as we all need a Sunday like that every now and then!) in hopes everyone is showered, dressed and fed by 9:15 if we are stopping by our small local coffee shop for some small talk and an awesome custom coffee and 9:45 if not.

Coffee in hand from home, or Suncrest Gourmet and we are off to service to have our faith meter filled at our local church connecting with the people chatting about this or that and for approx 90 min of songs of worship and an informative service from our Pastor. The teens normally take this time to volunteer their help in nursery services while the littles go to their groups.

After service and our goodbyes we head home to prepare “linner” (lunch/dinner) for the whole fam bam, including my oldest daughter & her hubby that come spend every Sunday with us and bring their 2, 4 legged children, their 1 blind and 1 half blind oh so adorable sibling pugs, Iggy & Kensey, who enjoy running the property and playing with our dogs & of course getting showered with love and attention (and sometimes ice cream hehe) from all of us!

Dogs

By Friday we have usually have planned the oh so horrible for us oops i mean delish meal, appetizers and dessert we will be making on Sunday. It is our “splurge, stuff our faces & drink gallons of iced tea” day where nobody worries about how bad our food choices are for 1 day. Don’t judge us, we behave all week to be able to do this 1 day, hehe!

The day is spent laughing, talking, of course the occasional argue, playing video games, playing hide and seek, coloring each others hair, a visit to the lake, playing ball, building a fire and making smores, crafts, and the list goes on.

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I often find myself looking at life my, my kids, where we now live etc and wonder if I am dreaming, I ask myself what I did that was so wonderful that I deserve to be this blessed. It is days like these where everything that means the most to me, my whole world is in 1 place at 1 time and the nothing can be sweeter. It is days like this that make me look around realize how absolutely rich I am in SO many ways no matter how much money I do or don’t have in the bank, days like this that I am overly grateful and thankful for each breathe I and each 1 of my children take, days like these that I am at times not able to process how blessed I am that it brings tears to my eyes that I often end up sitting in my bathroom after the sun sets and just have a good cry and talk with Jesus about how He trusted me with these precious lives and pray for the ability, skills and patience to continue. Days like these that I hold people I know even closer to my heart that have experienced loss of a child or loved 1 and who can only spend moments with them in memory. Days like these that I say that I will try harder to not let the petty stuff bother me and I will be grateful for each struggle, tantrum, argument, and mistake my kids make as there are so many people that would give their right arm to have their child back in this world even if it meant dealing with the bad stuff like when they don’t follow your rules or guidance. Days like these that I pray for each 1 of my children to feel the “deep, so strong its unreal” love I & the good Lord have for them every minute of their lives, thru the good and the bad.

Take a moment out of your day to read this blog post from Single Dad Laughing, I was in tears and moved beyond words by each parent that shared. Sure makes ya think… http://www.danoah.com/2013/09/truth-from-parents-of-children-who-died.html

I always end each Sunday with anticipation of a fresh new week!

P.S. What does your Sunday look like or do you have another day of the week that is your favorite and why!? Do tell 🙂

Mama Bear Plus 6

 

What’s 14 more grey hairs

It all starts with a promise, as most of us know small child promises are like mud pies, they mean SO much, look appealing, tempting but you know better than to take a bite. But since they come from their hearts just as mud pies do you want to accept them with a smile & believe they will be wonderful.

Alexa “Mom I promise that if you let me watch 1 more episode of Good Luck Charlie that I will go right to sleep and wake up in the morning when you wake me up.” Aiven “Ya mom we will, we even pinky promise!” A pinky promise you say!? Well that’s as good as gold! Deal!

Go right to sleep a half hour after your “normal” bedtime kids? Hmm maybe but highly unlikely, no control over it and that’s okay but mama promises that you will be tired come sun up hahaha. Did they wake when I woke them up like they pinky promised they would? Hmm not so much but good try though! Only had to re-wake twice! Not bad…

Here is the kicker, tired kids mean very slow moving whiny kids.

7AM

Mom “What do you want for breakfast?”

Alexa “I can’t find my jeans I wanted to wear, is there anything in the dryer?”

Mom “No all the laundry is done and put away, they are in your room somewhere. What do you want for breakfast?”

Alexa (whines) “I can’t find them that’s what I wanted to wear, I can’t find anything else”

Mom “Um did all your clothes disappear overnight!? What do you want for breakfast?”

Aiven “Can I wear my black pants again?”

Mom “No Aiven you wore those on Wednesday, What do you want for breakfast?”

Aiven (whines) “But I want to wear them they are my favorite pants”

7:20AM

Mom “What do you guys want for breakfast?”

Alexa & Aiven (whines) “I am not hungry”

Mom “You have to eat before school, how about fruit and a string cheese?”

Alexa “No, I want a bagel”

Mom “We are out of bagels, are you dressed yet?”

Alexa “No I still can’t find what to wear”

Aiven “I want pancakes, can I please wear my black pants?”

Mom “No Aiven, wear the clothes I picked out for you”

Aiven “NO mom! I’m big I will get my own clothes out I just really like those pants”

7:40AM

Mom getting all the stuff out for pancakes…

Alexa “I don’t want pancakes I want French toast”

Aiven “I want French toast too”

Ties my shoes, do my hair, Aiven has my toothbrush and won’t give it back, help me find my clip on bear for my backpack, where is my shoe, can you sign this paper for my teacher, what are we having for dinner, I need money for the book order, I wanted the powder chocolate in my milk not the syrup, can I pack my lunch today cause I don’t like the burrito at school, the cat is drinking my choco milk, I didn’t want powdered sugar on my French toast, can I change this shirt I don’t like the way it fits, can I call grandma…

8:05AM

Mom “Is that the bus already!?”

Alexa & Aiven “Yes”

The sound of 6 feet running for the street… We made it! Whew!

Mom (heavy breathing) “Wait let me take a picture! Okay bye kiddos love you have a great day!”

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Alexa “Bye mom love you too have a good day to see you after school I’m going to miss you”

Aiven “Bye mom love you so much you are the best mom ever I love you more than chicken see you after school”

Yep wouldn’t change being a mom to all these awesome & crazy kids for the world! (Even if they give me 14 grey hairs every morning before 8am!)

Starbucks solo, here I come! (Did you know, they have all their pumpkin stuff back in!? I am not too into all that, but seemed like the morning crowd was pretty excited as I people watched silently for a few)

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Mama Bear Plus 6

You have been so good to us summer

Our “summer” started June 14th! Kids last day of school the 13th and off to a Cali vacation the next day, talk about starting it off right!

My 1st major vacation as a single parent, FEAR had set in and I was nervous about the 23 hour drive as the only adult and the fear of being able to keep everything and everyone together while we were there. O’well time to suck it up and begin the journey!  

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Plans to meet our best friends from AZ there that we haven’t seen in a year, so exciting! On our week stay, we hit Disneyland, California Adventure,  Knotts Berry Farm & the beach, Hunnigton.

the beach

Disneyland… My most favorite place on Earth. The feeling of walking thru those gates cannot be matched, although the new Cars ride was beyond amazing and brought tears to my eyes over how WOW  it was.  Being there brings this tingly awesome feeling that I could never get enough of.  We have been there numerous times and I could go every week if I was able too!  A blog on that alone will be in the future!

ca group

California Adventure and Knotts are awesome places too of course! The kids prefer California Adventure over Disneyland for the bigger thrill rides they offer. Knotts is more of the break you take between or after the bigger parks, lots of fun but not as large so easier to get thru in 1 day.

CA and knotts

 A wonderful vacation, amusement parks, beach, shopping and all the neat places we ate, my fav The Boling Crab http://www.theboilingcrab.com/! It was our 1st time there and was AMAZING! A must try if you like seafood and well… chicken tenders. The food was delish, after I got past having to remove the shrimp heads myself! The atmosphere loud crazy and fun, kinda like us as we fit right in there, which is hard to do in restaurants these days when everyone is quiet and reserved haha!

Boiling crab

We spent a week having a blast with some awesome people! The 23 hour drive home was tough since we drove straight thru and didn’t stop to sleep like we did on the way there. Would I do it again!? YES I could never stay away from Disney for too long, but will prefer to fly!

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Big vacation behind us, time to spend some time in our own amazing area…

We have spent many Saturdays this year in Green Bluff http://www.greenbluffgrowers.com/ picking lots of fresh fruits, feeding the animals, eating more cherries than any of us would like to admit, meeting some pretty amazing people, seeing beautiful weddings, getting lost & best of all, enjoying some quality family time!

green bluff

Silverwood & Boulder Beach http://www.silverwoodthemepark.com/! A neat amusement park & seasonal water park located in Athol, ID. It is about an hour & half from our house. I want to say that Silverwood is very similar to Knotts Berry farm. Not too big and loads of fun! We have spent several days there this summer! We all love it and with it being so close it is a must visit for a full day of fun in the park itself riding awesome wooden roller coasters & some other big rides and then spending a few hours cooling off in the water park and hitting some huge slides and the 2 wave pools! Can’t miss the magic show in the Theatre of Illusion with Nick Norton while you are there! A must see while enjoying a very affordable large pizza dinner, breadsticks & drinks for the family, all for $25 while having your mind blown with his amazing magic!

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Summer camps! My 5 year old son got to attend his very 1st 3 day pee wee camp at Camp Gifford! (YIKES!) I was SO nervous and he was SO excited. I honestly have NO idea how I actually dropped him off and drove away. I cried the entire ride home and on and off all 3 days & not being able to talk to him drove me NUTS!! I was counting the hours till I could pick him up. Not sure I want him to go again but he had SO much fun it will be so hard to say no.

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Family Camp at Riverview Bible Camp located in Cusik, WA! http://www.riverviewbiblecamp.com/   Wow what a neat experience that was! We will be making that a yearly trip no doubt! We went with our church, Suncrest Family Worship and spent a Fri, Sat & Sun there. The camp had SO many things to do for the whole family! Riverfront swimming with inflatable water toys which included and were SO much FUN: The Blob (fun & scary!), Trampoline (loads of fun!), Saturn (ya good luck getting onto that!), Iceberg (now that is a climb), Log ( sure if you feel like falling into the water repeatedly), Slide (more for the kiddos), Canoes (Um about that… Our family & canoes= will end up swimming 3 minutes after getting into it), Heated pool (didn’t get to try that, not enough hours in a day),  Swings (yes even for us big kids!), 40′ Amusement park slide (I would like to change the name of this slide to Burn Slide instead of amusement slide since every person that flies down it on a waxed burlap bag WILL obtain a burn on some area of skin LOL but it is impossible to stay off of since it is SO fun), Hiking trails (LOTS!), a beautiful creek with a bridge ( a must see), Water Balloon War Zone (um SO fun!), Gymnasium with three basketball courts, Ping Pong, Tether Ball (a fav of our family!), a game room,  24 hour coffee/tea/hot chocolate with SO much scenery to sit on the deck or at the lake and watch, priceless really. The cabins were awesome! Our cabin slept 10 with full bathroom & shower, so our whole family got to stay together. We had guest speakers who are missionaries that told some pretty amazing stories that had our attention, morning and evening services, 3 delish full course meals, tons of play & family time. If you have not visited a family camp as a family this is a must do!

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Cat Tales, an amazing non-profit animal rescue! To make a donation or to see what it is all about visit their website http://www.cattales.org/ Spent the day with the fam bam there seeing the big kitties, tigers (lots of them, white 1s too!), bobcats, lions, panthers, cheetah, and even a bear! You can take a guided tour, watch a show, just browse the cages and best of all; you can choose to feed a bear or tiger! To feed a bear you must be 6 years old, he LOVEs watermelon! To feed a tiger you must be 8 years old and they eat raw bloody steak, yum! The workers there are awesome, full of energy, very friendly and helpful and willing to talk to you & answer any questions you have (I had lots!) It was a neat experience for all of us! They also offer Zoo school, I was told it is a 1 year fulltime program that you take and you can get hired there or go somewhere else and apply. If you are interested in zoo keeper, animal medicine or just want to work around the big cats (ME!) you can take this 1 year hands on course and get certified! How cool is that!?

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Here is more info from their website:  “Are you interested in a career in zoology? Train to become one of the best. Cat Tales ZTC is the ONLY school of it’s kind where students learn every aspect of zoo operations and professional animal care.  Take a peek at a Zookeeper’s Day to get a taste of what is involved, and see if zookeeping may be for you. While we do not guarantee job placement for graduates of the program, we receive requests on a regular basis for information on upcoming graduates as possibilities for positions at various facilities. Top names in the Zoological community hire people who have successfully completed our program, because of their well rounded training. Applicants must be 18 to apply.

From movies, to eating out, to theme parks, to long long drives, to getting lost, to picnics & events, to camps and so on this summer has been nothing short of amazing, but today it is time for summer to end and school to start! As I said bye to my kids today as they went off to their 1st day of the new school year I was filled with so much emotion, mostly happiness that this new year brings new adventures, new memories & experiences but some sadness creeped in as well, sad that the summer fun & late nights are over & that my house will be very quiet during school hours, also sad that they are 1 step /year closer to growing up and leaving the nest.

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Well, gotta use this quiet time wisely & get some work done, they will be back home before I know it!

P.S. Please share your summer stories and any new or neat places you visited & that you would or wouldn’t recommend! We would LOVE to hear about it! Afterall, it is never too early to start planning next summer!

Mama Bear Plus 6