Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Pioneer Woman is GENIUS!


Ducklings love anything from The Pioneer Woman. Seriously! When I try a new recipe, the first question is, without fail, "is this a Pioneer Woman recipe?" If my answer is "no" the response is always "aw man" or "you really need to stick with The Pioneer Woman. Her recipes are never bad." This is a fact!  Case in point... the most often requested recipe in our household: Cheesy Olive Bread.


This is the most yummiest, goodest, mostest bestest receipe of all time (if you love olives and enjoy bad grammar, that is). If you don't enjoy olives, this might also be yummy with green chilies or jalapeno and cheddar substituted for the olives and jack cheese.  Ooooh...I need to try that.

Our other favorites from Ree Drummond herself include Alfredo Sauce, Corn Chowder, and Dr. Pepper BBQ Ribs. But seriously, everything is fantastic. You can explore more yummies at The Pioneer Woman website here

The Ducklings give this 1000 thumbs up and hope you love it too.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Best $17 Ever Spent. EVER!

Louie realizes he doesn't like his face painted after all



3-Day Ticket to Disneyland - $4,000,000
The face painting that the child begged and begged for - $17
Getting this photo 4 minutes later - PRICELESS


It was the summer of 2013 and we were in the middle of a California vacation. During that trip we made a last minute decision to visit Disneyland. The Ducklings were super excited. 

On this day we were at the California Adventure Park and Dewey and Louie had spent hours begging me to take them on the Tower of Terror. Now, I love a good thrill ride, I do. Give me the scariest stink'n roller coaster you've got and I AM IN! But the Tower of Terror is not my idea of fun. AT ALL! I rode it once and that was enough for me. There were naughty words involved. Let's just leave it at that.

So I was not at all inclined to take my 6 and 7 year old sons on this torture contraption which includes the word "terror" for good reason. NOPE! But they begged and begged and, quite frankly, they just wore me down. I might have given in so that I could teach them that I really did know best and that they should just trust their mother's judgment. However it goes... I gave in.

While standing in line I tried to get them to change their minds. "It's super scary.... Please don't make mommy do this... please". It should be noted that they were too young to go on the ride alone. So if they really wanted to go, I had to go too. Why didn't Army Guy go, you ask? Bahahahahahaha...  breathe...  hahahaha... Army guy gets queasy on the Tea Cups. True story.

So we went... we screamed... it sucked... we survived. End of story. Or maybe not...

Prior to this little adventure of terror, Louie had been begging and begging to get his face painted. "Please mom... PLEASE".  He wanted it pretty badly. As luck would have it, there was a face painting stand right as we were leaving the Tower of Terror ride. So Army Guy and I decided to give in and let the child have his face painted. We knew it was a waste of $17.00, but this was Disney; at some point you stop caring about what you are spending because... whatever... right?  

So Louie chose his face painting design. When I say "chose" I really mean, "carefully selected... CAREFULLY". He wanted just the right one. So, Louie got his face painted and he was super happy; until he saw his reflection and then he was super not happy. Within four minutes the child began begging us to take it off. By that time we were in line for another ride so I told him, "OK, as soon as this ride is over, Daddy will take you to the bathroom to wash it off". Apparently the line was too long, or the paint was itchy, or something and Louie LOST HIS MIND. So, Army Guy left the line with Louie to go wash his face; but I made sure to get this photo first. I'm evil like that.  

In hind-sight, Louie was probably just traumatized by the Tower of Terror. But no matter the reason... I promise you... as long as I breathe... this photo will make me laugh. It just will. Army Guy and I text it back and forth to each other just for grins. Louie thinks that's just mean, but whatever. This photo cost me $4,000,017... and it was so worth it!  

This story highlights two times that my son pleaded for something that he didn't need and wasn't best for him. And two times, against my better judgement, I gave in. In the first case it was to teach him a lesson, and in the second case, to please him. Both of these instances were miserable failures. It occurred to me that this is exactly what happens when we leave the plan that God has for our lives. When we "go rouge" misery often follows.

A favorite scripture among Christians is Jeremiah 29:11.  

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future".


God has big plans for our lives. He knows what is best for us in addition to what is not good at all. But often times we think we know better than God. When I was in high school I wanted this particular young man as my boyfriend. I told God what I wanted, but God "wasn't listening". I cried and begged and pleaded; my tender little hormonal teenage heart was broken. The drama was real, y'all. But God knew he had something so much better for me if I would just be patient and wait upon the Lord. 

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint."  Isaiah 40:31

What if God had given my teenage heart what it wanted most of all? I can say with absolute certainty that, at some point, my face would have ended up like Louie's in this picture. No doubt! God knew that boy wasn't part of my future or my hope. He knew Army Guy and my precious Ducklings were the treasures He intended for me. My life is so much better than I could have ever imagined and it's all because God said "no" to what teenage me knew was best. I am overjoyed to admit I was wrong, and incredibly thankful that God said "no".

When God says "no" remember that he knows how your life will turn out and His plans for you are big. Going "rouge" never ends well... ever. Wait upon the Lord and in His perfect time He will reveal His perfect plan for you.




Friday, September 29, 2017

Big Bucks Tooth Fairy?

Sometimes the tooth fairy comes to our house.  Usually she is a few days late, getting delayed along the way by very tooth fairy-ish issues.  Sometimes her delay is because the child's room is just way too messy for her to risk life and limb to retrieve his tooth and leave a buck.  Our tooth fairy has also been known to "borrow" from the child's piggy bank.  She is resourceful like that. Speaking of resources, she may be in a position where the funding for her mission is a bit low... or maybe the tooth fairy demand in our home is just too high right now.  Regardless... she usually scrapes together a buck (sometimes even using nickles and dimes) and she leaves the treasure under the child's pillow in a zip-lock baggie.  That's how OUR tooth-fairy does business.

However, Louie seems to be under the impression our tooth fairy has unlimited resources.  Much like he envisions Santa Clause. She doesn't just walk around with gold coins jingling in her pocket; Louie believes our tooth fairy is roll'n in some big bucks.  That belief was illustrated quite nicely by this note he left under his pillow.




"Tooth fairy, when you give me the money, can I have a $20 dollar bill?  Thanks.    P.S. Please a twenty dollar bill."

Notice he reiterates his request with the written word "twenty" just in case she didn't understand the "$20".  Apparently Louie is gifted in clarity.

So, if $20 is now the going rate for a tooth, I'd line up to have a few pulled.  Oh wait... then all of my tooth fairy money would go to Dr. Nick, the best dentist in the greater Columbia area. (Seriously, if you're in Columbia, SC and need a Dentist, visit Dr. Nicholas Gee on St. Julian Place.  You will love him).

And if your tooth fairy is in the habit of leaving $20 under the pillow... go ahead and send her over to our house. Our tooth fairy is kinda cheap.

  



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Gourmet Pork Chops






Ducklings' Favorite (aka: Gourmet Pork Chops)  


This is one of the Ducklings' all-time favorite meals. Amazingly, it's also easy and worthy of company. So I would call this my "WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER" (except with Pork). 

Ingredients


6 Pork Chops (Bone In)
Salt
Pepper
Garlic Powder
Drizzle of Olive Oil
1 tbs butter
Sliced Mushrooms (a lot or a little, or maybe even none. Ducklings like A LOT)
1 Onion, sliced (red, yellow, white... Ducklings don't care)
1 cup Chicken Broth
1/2 cup red wine (pretty much any kind... just not a sweet wine)
1-2 Garlic gloves - minced
Bay Leaf



Directions


  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Season pork chops with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Drizzle pan with olive oil and seer the pork chops over med-high heat until golden on both sides.
  • Remove pork to a 9x12 baking dish
  • Saute mushrooms and onion in the butter for a few minutes
  • Add chicken broth, wine, minced garlic and bay leaf. Simmer for 5 minutes or so.
  • Poor mushroom mixture over pork chops. Cover and bake for 1 hour.
  • Optional: Strain the juice and thicken with flour or cornstarch for a yummy gravy. But it's super yummy without the thickener. I'm all about easy...so we just use the juice as is.
  • Serve with mashed potatoes or rice and whatever veg you like. Ducklings recommend steamed asparagus. 
This dinner is killer good!  I mean like... WOW GOOD! 

This recipe comes from one of the Atkins cookbooks.  Yes... that's right... it's also low carb (without the mashed potatoes, of course). Low carb enthusiests...you will love me for this...cross my heart! YOU ARE WELCOME!  :)

About 240 Calories per serving (Pork chop without the sides)

The Slowest Child in the History of Ever!


Dewey is eleven years old and is now in the 6th grade. He is super smart and he's also the slllloowwweesstt child in the history ever. He knows this and it doesn't seem to bother him much. But y'all... aaauuugghghh!

This morning Dewey mismanaged his time and didn't heed my warnings. He got the 20 minute warning, the 10 minute warning, and the "FIVE MINUTES UNTIL YOU NEED TO LEAVE... GET YOUR SHOES ON" warning. But Dewey moves at Dewey's pace. With that said, here's how his morning went.

When his brothers left for the bus stop one minute before the bus usually arrives, Dewey was still looking for his shoes. I found his "spare pair" and shooed him out the door. "Go.. just go... put your shoes on when you get on the bus". (The bus stop is about 3 houses down the street). So off he went. As soon as he left the front door, we discovered the bus was already there and the other kids had already boarded. The bus driver sat there waiting for Dewey. Bless his soul! Dewey crossed the wet lawn in his socks, carrying his backpack, viola, shoes and breakfast. He left wet footprints on the sidewalk, all the way to the bus stop. Along the way, he dropped a shoe twice while he tried to run for the waiting bus. Cars on the street stopped to allow Dewey to cross. Two moms stopped at different times to laugh at the scene and tell me "I've been there". It was funny and sad all at the same time.  

A "better" mom might have helped the child a little more. She might have taken his viola and ran with him to the bus stop. But this mom is all about natural consequences. This mom gave him an opportunity to feel the stress of the situation he created. Was that mean? Maybe.  But maybe tomorrow he will pick up the pace a little more. Or maybe Captain Kirk will show up and tele-port him to school. Either way, I'm betting tomorrow won't be such a close call.  Just a hunch.  

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Thirty Days of Prayer for Our Children



Prayer is the work, dear Mommies. Let's make a commitment to uplift our children in deliberate and specific prayer every single day. Join me in this endeavor and watch how God moves in the lives of our children. Let’s stand firmly on God’s word and raise the next generation to be strong and courageous, adorned with the full armor of God, living in the Spirit, displaying it’s fruit, and seeking God’s will. Let’s raise men and women of honor and integrity who will lead the next generation to God. When we do this, we will be amazed at the results.  

Here is a list of ways to pray for your children each day for 30 days. When the month is over, start again. If a month has 31 days, you get a free day. By “free day” I do not mean you get a “no pray day”; I mean you get to repeat any topic or chose a topic of your own. You can even pray several of the topics on one day. No worries, God can multi-task. No matter what, it is essential to cover our children with prayer when we send them out into the world.  Let's make this commitment together and see how God works.

Pray For:
1)  Salvation: Pray that your child will accept Jesus, walk in the Word and live in the Spirit.
2)  Friends: Pray that your child will befriend children who will be a good influence on his life. Pray also for your child's friends.
3)  School: Pray for your child at school; for peace during tests and good behavior in the classroom.
4)  Protection: Request a hedge of protection around your child. Bless her into God’s hands and ask God to provide angels to guard her.
5)  Mind: Pray for your children to have peace of mind and pure thoughts.
6)  Teachers/Adults: Pray that the adults in his world will also display the fruits of the spirit and will gently instruct and guide. Pray that they will be trustworthy individuals who will not undermine the morality you are teaching.
7)  Health: Pray for wellness and a healthy body for your child.
8)  Future spouse: Uplift your child’s future spouse. Pray that their union would be Godly and their home will be a household of faith. Pray they will teach their children to serve the Lord.
9)  Love: Pray for your child to have a loving heart, and to treat others with love and respect.
10) Addiction and pornography: Ask the Lord to protect your child from the evils of the world.
11) Peace: Pray for your child to have a peaceful nature.
12) Joy:  Pray that your child will experience life with an attitude of joy.
13) Patience: Pray that you will have patience with your child, and that she will learn to give patience to others.
14) The Armor of God: Pray for the full armor of God over your child: truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit.
15) Grace: Pray that your child would give grace freely to those around him, and receive grace for his shortcomings.
16) Honesty and integrity: Pray that your child will be a person of honor and integrity in all things.
17) Education: Pray that your child will take her education seriously and will be prepared and free of stress for tests. Pray for your child’s future and for his path to college or vocational school.
18) Career path: Pray for your child’s future career and for wisdom in this decision.
19) Financial awareness: Pray that your child will learn financial health now and practice financial responsibility in the future.
20) Emotional health: Pray for your child’s emotional health. Ask God to guard against all of the harmful things that could scar her heart and damage her confidence.
21) Goodness: Pray that your child will practice goodness as he deals with others. Pray that he will exhibit honor and integrity in all things.
22) Kindness: Pray that your child will be kind and will be treated with kindness in return.  Pray against bullying and hostility.
23) Faith: Pray that your child will be a person of faith. Living a life trusting in the Lord.
24) Self-control: Pray that your child will display self-control as he grows. Both now, in the small things, and later in his relationships.
25) Gentleness: Pray that your child will have a spirit of gentleness toward all people. Pray also that gentleness will be returned in kind.
26) Empathy/caring for others: Pray that your child will have a natural concern for the well-being of others. Always ready to lend a hand and be a friend.
27) Strength: Ask God to give your child strength to stand against the evil that seeks to destroy.
28) Temptation: Ask God to provide your child with a solid foundation on the word so that she can withstand temptation. 
29) Spirit led: Pray that your child will be focused on the spirit and not distracted by worldly gain.
30) Seeking God: Pray that in all things, every day, in every way, your child will seek the will of God.

          

Friday, July 28, 2017

Retreat at the Magic Kingdom






This family has spent countless hours visiting Disney Theme Parks.... it's what we do. We've visited in every season, in both California and Florida over the course of many, many years. We are no rookies when it comes to all things Disney. But Y'ALL... during this recent trip to the Walt Disney World, I learned something new. At the Magic Kingdom there is a flag retreat ceremony every night at 5:00 pm. Of course, in wonderful Disney fashion, they make a giant deal out of this ceremony. WHO KNEW?  

To make the ceremony special and to provide a personal touch, those Disney folks pull out all the stops. As soon as the park opens each day, the cast is on the hunt for a military vet. One vet each day gets the honor of presiding over the retreat ceremony as the "Veteran of the Day". This is a super special, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and guess what... Army Guy was invited! It was a great privilege to see him honored for his service during this ceremony. Disney even supplied us with our own personal Disney photographer to capture the moment.  

The ceremony began with a call to attention and bugle fanfare by the Disney Marching Band. Before the flag was lowered, the crowd was lead in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance by my Ducklings. They nailed it... phew! The band played the national anthem and, while the flag was lowered and Army Guy stood with a proper salute, the crowd sang "God Bless America". Once the flag was folded, it was presented to Army Guy and carried through Main Street in a parade along with the Disney Color Guard, Marching Band and our family. We all got to be in the flag retreat parade and it was amazing. Disney sure knows how to pull at the heartstrings and bring out the patriotic pride. Well done Disney!

After the ceremony and parade, we were taken to a little nook on Main Street where Army Guy was presented with a certificate and pin. This "Disney Vet of the Day" collectors' pin cannot be purchased anywhere and Disney does not trade it. It is only presented to the ONE vet every day who participates in the flag retreat ceremony. Talk about exclusive and completely special.

Thank you to the wonderful people at the Magic Kingdom who noticed Army Guy's "retired army" hat and invited him to participate in the honor of a lifetime. What an amazing memory.




The call to attention




Disney Color Guard Lowers the Flag while Army Guy Salutes

























The Parade Down Main Street

The Magic Kingdom Veteran of the Day Pin

So Proud of My Retired Vet.  Well Done Army Guy!







Copywrite 2017 - Loretta Monroe