Tuesday, October 8, 2019

What a Mom Wants

Photo by Norbert Buduczki on Unsplash
Guys, listen up. What I'm about to tell you is GOLD. This is the key to happiness for your wife. Are you ready? The all-time best gift for your wife is this:


It’s just that simple! All she wants is a clean car. She doesn't even know this is what she wants... but she does! And if you can anticipate this desire and meet her need before she knows she needs it, Buddy, you will unlock that place inside where all the gooey, mushy, feelings of great joy reside. You will be her hero; her number one guy! And you will reap the rewards as well.

See, before she was a mom, she enjoyed a sweet ride without nasty car seats covered in last month's spilled milk that now smell like the bottom of the trash cans... the ones on the OUTSIDE of the house. She didn't have old French fries under the seats, chicken nuggets in the cup-holders, or smears on the widows where someone just really needed to know what glass tastes like. She probably didn't have dog hair wafting throughout the air, landing on every imaginable surface and settling into a 2-inch layer of grossness on the carpet. She certainly didn’t have to play “guess that smell” every time she got into the car. 

Until the children came, she wasn’t used to driving a stinking cesspool of germs and grime that would put a Wal-Mart bathroom to shame. Her car used to be a sanctuary of cleanliness that still had that "new car smell" 28 months after you bought it. She used to have pride in her car and was able to offer anyone a lift, without notice, and without having to issue a disclaimer, "Please ignore the car. I have kids".

She just wants a clean car!!!  And you are the guy to make it happen. Take her car for an afternoon without saying a word, and watch how she responds when you return with a like-new mom-ride. You will be THE MAN! If you can swing a monthly detail service...Buddy you are GOLDEN! If not, please consider this gift for Mother's Day, her birthday, Christmas and your anniversary. Pretty much any occasion where you need a gift and are out of ideas... HERE'S YOUR HINT! 

This is what your wife wants. Forget the diamonds, flowers, stuffed teddy bears and pajama-grams. Seriously, DO NOT even consider a Pajama-gram! That's all crap (okay, maybe not the diamonds). But I promise you, if given the choice between a clean car and diamonds, five bucks says she takes the clean car. For the love of all that is pleasant and sanitary and lemony fresh...she just wants an uncontaminated ride. Or a hazmat suit...it's your call.


Thursday, October 3, 2019

Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

July 2019
Where The Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
Genre: Fiction
Lori's Book Club Rating: 4 Thumbs Up

#1 New York Times Bestseller
A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick

"I can't even express how much I love this book! I didn't want this story to end!"--Reese Witherspoon

"Painfully beautiful."--The New York Times Book Review

"Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps." (From the book description on Amazon)

Lori's Book Review 
Our book club was divided on this one. Some loved it and some didn't (the "some who didn't" includes me). I realize I am in the minority here; a lot of people really love this book. It just wasn't a great read for me. It's not that I hated it...I didn't. It just left me feeling sad, and that's not the way I want to feel when I finish a book. 

This is the heartbreaking account of a girl who is abandoned by her mother at the age of six. She is left with an abusive father, neglected and starving. One by one her siblings depart and, eventually, her dad just fails to return home from a trip. By the age of ten she is left completely alone, raising herself in a shack in the marsh land of North Carolina, essentially removed from civilization. Somehow we are to believe that a child can feed and support herself and grow up to be a stunningly beautiful young woman whom the boys in town desire. I just didn't find that plausible. A child left alone will not learn about self-care and hygiene. She will not receive medical and dental care. She will be malnourished; she'll have rotten teeth, mangy, knotted hair and bad breath. In a nutshell, she would be a complete mess of a human being.

Additionally, it is highly unlikely such an uneducated person would be able to become a published author. I happen to know a few things about the publishing industry and it is HARD to get published. In order to receive a publishing contract, an author must come to the table with a huge platform; a following of at least 10,000 people. This is actually more important than the content of the book. Publishers know that in-house editors can fix a manuscript, but they cannot manufacture a following. A publisher wants to know an author can sell books without much marketing budget required from the publisher. The "following" reigns supreme.  

True, this story takes place between 1952 and 1969 and book publishing would have been different then. However, it is still completely implausible to me that an uneducated, wild child who raised herself in seclusion would become a published author. However, I can actually let that go for the sake of the story. I mean...I love time travel novels, so plausibility is not a requirement for me to enjoy a book. What I do require is a story that will leave me feeling content about the character's life experiences. If there is tragedy or abuse, I want to see some resolution. I want my main character to win in the end. I want the Hallmark moment. The more traumas my main character faces, the bigger the "comeuppance" I want to see for the perpetrators. The death of the villain isn't always the best revenge. And though there was some resolution in this book, I just didn't find it good enough. 

Quite honestly, this story broke my mommy heart - up one side and down the other. How on earth does an entire family leave a small child with an abusive dad and not think to take the girl with them? As a mom, there is no way on God's green earth I would remove myself from an abusive situation and not take my children with me...especially a six-year-old girl.  So, though I concede this novel was well written, I just cannot jump on the "what a great read" bandwagon. The "resolution" at the end was not good enough for me. I wanted a happier ending. Without giving the ending away, I didn't want to see that twist. I didn't like it one bit. 

All that said, the fact that the book made me feel so strongly, is a compliment to the author. A writer, who can make the reader FEEL for the characters, has done a fantastic job. So though the story did not resonate with me, the writing was outstanding; just not my cup of tea.

If you like a story that includes child abuse, suffering, abandonment and murder, all wrapped up in one big "who-done-it" mystery, you might like this book. Me...? Not-so-much!  However, since four of the six book club members loved this book, I am still giving it 4 thumbs up.

It's not all about ME, y ‘all. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Totally Gross Chicken and Rice

About a thousand years ago, when I was little, my grandma made the most amazing chicken and rice casserole. I loved it. My siblings loved it. We all gobbled it up and asked for more. The smell of chicken and rice still reminds me of grandma, and mom, and a happy childhood. It gives me all the "feels". Truth!

So when Army Guy and I first got married, chicken and rice was one of the dishes I used to make... a lot. Notice I said "used to"? It took about ten years for Army Guy to inform me he doesn't really like that chicken and rice recipe. GASP!!! What?!?!?!  

  1. HOW could he not like the yummy-ness of my childhood; the smell that takes me back to a simpler time; the taste that reminds me of grandma; the food that tastes like "home"?
  2. WHY did it take TEN YEARS to tell me this?  I believe his exact words were "I'd rather eat dirt!" You cut me deep, Army Guy.

I was bewildered and confused. I simply cannot accept that he doesn't like grandmas chicken and rice. But I put the recipe away none-the-less. Insert whiny, sad face here.

Last week I was chatting with my three siblings in a group text. My brother brought up chicken and rice and we all reminisced about the taste and the memories....ahhhh... it took me back. When I informed them I haven't had it for ten years because Army Guy hates it, they all had the sads for me and wondered aloud if he might be a communist...or something. In that moment I devised a plan to introduce my boys to grandma's chicken and rice. I plotted this dish's comeback with glee. My opportunity came last weekend when Army Guy was out of town. It was my chance to share my grandma with the boys and I was super excited.

I served the nectar of grandma's kitchen. It really is love in a 9x13 casserole pan. OhEmGee... SO GOOD!  I devoured it. The boys kinda, sorta said "meh", picked at the entree and ate their broccoli. The dog ate well!  Nifty!  AND THEN... I woke up to this text from Army Guy the next morning.

Et tu, Brute?

So I'm guessing everybody in my house is against me on this one, except the dog, of course. She's got my back!  And also...did Matthew actually think I wouldn't notice when the Domino's guy showed up at my door?  Really? 

It's pretty clear my family will not eat my favorite childhood meal ever again, so I have retired grandmas recipe forever. A small part of me has died. I'm not sure why this bothers me so much. My children have very different ideas about what IS and IS NOT gross (read all about that here). I mean, these are the people who have been known to eat nasty cookies found under the couch. Clearly their opinions are questionable.

As for the leftovers... yup, I rinsed the rice from the chicken, diced it up and put it in the freezer. That chicken will resurface as enchiladas next week. And the rice... well that's in the freezer too, but I'm not sure how I'll use it. Soup maybe?  This one thing I DO know: they WILL eat every bit of that chicken and rice.  EVERY LAST BIT! Mwahahaha!

Below is the recipe for the most offensive dish ever created. If you can find the nerve to try it (considering that only 1 in 5 people in my household will eat it) please let me know what you think.  I mean, is it possible I grew up on a completely vile dish? Could it be super gross and my siblings and I just lack awareness? Somebody please make this and get back to me. If you think it's gross too, my childhood will be shattered. Sometimes we need a person who can gently deliver the hard truth. This might be such an occasion. Please be kind and consider my tender heart, but let me have it. Is this gross?


Boneless, skinless chicken thighs (as many as you need)
2 cups white rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 envelope Lipton onion soup
2 cups water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray
Place chicken in pan
Combine rice, soups and water. Pour over chicken. 
Cover and bake for 1 hour.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Book Review: Missing Molly

Author: Natalie Barelli
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Lori's Book Club Rating: 6 Thumbs Up!

"Everyone has secrets, and Rachel Holloway is no exception. She's worked hard to keep the past where it belongs: dead and buried. And so far, she's been very successful. But now the small newspaper where she works wants to produce a podcast on a cold case: the disappearance 12 years ago of young Molly Forster. 
Some secrets should never see the light of day, and, as far as Rachel is concerned, whatever happened to little Molly is one of them. Rachel has a life now - a boyfriend she loves and a three-year-old daughter she adores - and she will do anything to protect them. But to do that, no one can ever know that she is Molly Forster." (From the description page on Amazon)

Lori's Review

WHAT THE... WHAT?!?  The author tells us, straight up, that Rachel Holloway is the girl who has been missing for twelve years. The girl everyone has been searching for. The girl presumed dead by most, but who's story lives on in conspiracy theories. This tidbit of information is typically revealed at the end of a book. One final twist that nobody saw coming. But Natalie Barelli has even written her twist with a twist. The reader cheers Rachel on in her attempt to hide her identity from the people who so desperately want her found. This becomes problematic when Rachel's employer tasks her with investigating the Forster family murders and subsequent disappearance of twelve-year-old Molly.  

This is one book I could not put down. It had me from page one. I.WAS.IN! And I was rooting for Rachel the entire time, on the edge of my seat and wanting so badly to see her come through this trial unscathed. The author had me brainstorming options for Rachel in my spare time. At one point she even had me questioning what I believed to be true about the story line. It was just one fantastic web of intrigue, uncertainty, and deception. The only thing I didn't like about the book was the end. Not the "ending", but THE END.  I just didn't want the story to end. Natalie Barelli books are now on my radar. Six enthusiastic thumbs up!

Monday, September 23, 2019

Cultural Appropriation...Or Something

"Lori's House of Crazy". That's the name of this blog for a really good reason. MY HOUSEHOLD IS CRAZY! Today's offering of insanity is courtesy of thirteen-year-old Daniel, who has been perfecting his "British accent" since we stayed at the fancy hotel in Washington DC in July. Why a fancy hotel brings about a Brit accent is beyond me. It just does, okay?  Also, please note how I define "British accent" in this instance:  "an epic failure at proper English, but a massive WIN in the comedy department none-the-less."

This weekend Army Guy left for a business trip and Daniel "bid him farewell" in proper 18th century English fashion. "Goodbye Father. Do travel safely whilst I sleep." Army Guy was seriously amused. But y'all...today Daniel absolutely slayed me when he decided to speak with the accent of a British person who is attempting an American accent. Cringe-worthy and comic gold!

I finally decided that if the child was going to continue this dialect, he needed a little training. I thought maybe he would enjoy the opportunity to immerse himself in the fascinating world of Brit-speak to perfect the Queen's proper English. That's right, I conned him into suggested he should accompany me to see Downton Abbey "for research". Since he had absolutely zero clue what he was getting into, he thought it would be great to just hang out with "mum" and eat popcorn. How could that be anything but delightful? Daniel was IN! 

Half way through the movie I looked over at Daniel and he was legit staring at the ceiling. When I asked what he was doing he replied, "trying to see if my head will fit between these two seats". So.... I'm guessing he was bored or something? Listen, I knew this was not a movie Daniel would enjoy. It was a little evil of me to suggest he accompany me. But in my defense, he HAS been annoying his brothers with his really bad British accent for two months now. So he totally deserved a couple hours of torture. When I asked if he was able to pick up some of the dialect he responded with, "No, they were just too British!" Did you hear that loyal subjects of the queen? Daniel thinks your speech is just way too British. I'm not even sure what that means, but I do believe this movie has cured him of his really-bad-accent-obsession. So I'm calling that a win.

As we walked to the car I thanked Daniel for being such a great date. Daniel didn't hesitate for even a nanosecond with his reply. "I died a little on the inside".
Great, his man-training is now complete! Win number two for the mama!

Just for fun, here is Daniel with me at the grocery store last week. He's driving on the left. "Because I'm British, Mum!"

This child... 😂😂😂

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Basic Alfredo Sauce and Accidental Brilliance

Penne Alfredo with Chicken and Mushrooms
Alfredo Pasta is my go-to quick dinner. It's super easy, gives my family the ultra yummies and is ready in the amount of time it takes to boil up some pasta. WIN! 
Below is the recipe I use. I've tried several recipes, including one from a "traditional Italian cookbook" that begins with a classic béchamel and includes nutmeg. (I may be off base here, but I'm going with - "Nutmeg in Alfredo sauce is just weird") That recipe was good, but this one is GREAT (and also easier).  Guess which one I prefer?

Classic Alfredo

1 stick of butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated, fresh Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste (1/2 teaspoon - ish)
pinch of garlic powder
1 pound rotini pasta

(Note: sometimes I double the sauce for a creamier/saucier pasta. Because, let's face it, what my life really needs is more butter....MORE BUTTER!)

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter in the cream over medium heat. Stir in fresh Parmesan and simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally with a whisk until the cheese is completely melted. Season with salt, pepper and garlic. Pour sauce over pasta, and viola...yummy dinner is served.

Add ins: At this point I usually add in steamed broccoli florets and cooked chicken breast (cubed) or shrimp that I have sautéed in butter and seasoned with a little garlic, salt and pepper. 

Serves 8
Approximately 415 calories per serving (for pasta and plain Alfredo sauce)

Here's where the accidental brilliance comes in. A few weeks ago I made sausage and spinach manicotti, which was ah-maze-ing!  That recipe left me with about 2 cups of extra stuffing; a mixture of ricotta cheese, sausage and spinach. I didn't want to throw that away so I shoved it into the freezer to create another something on another day. Well, "another day" was last night. I decided to stir that ricotta and sausage mixture into the Alfredo sauce. Sweet Mother of Moses!!!  I created something genius! 

Here's how to create Alfredo a la Lori:
Start with the Classic Alfredo Sauce above (this is one time you DO NOT want to double the sauce recipe).

Add  the following:
  • 1 cup of steamed, fresh spinach. Squeeze to drain excess water. (It will take 4 or 5 cups of raw spinach to get a cup of cooked spinach. Or... just use 1/2 a brick of chopped, frozen spinach - defrosted and drained.) 
  • 1/2 pound of browned sausage
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups steamed broccoli florets
Pour heavenly Alfredo mixture over pasta of choice (I use Rotini)

This recipe is super rich and creamy. It will also go straight to your backside so I recommend doing ten minutes of squats while the pasta cooks. This disclaimer is required because I cannot be held responsible for enlarged butts. mmmmkay?

Serves 8
Approximately 615 calories per serving

Friday, September 13, 2019

Book Review: The Lying Game

The Lying Game
Author: Ruth Ware
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Lori's Book Club Rating: 5 Thumbs Up

“So many questions....Until the very last page! Needless to say, I could not put this book down!” —Reese Witherspoon

“Once again the author of The Woman in Cabin 10 delivers mega-chills.” —People

“Missing Big Little Lies? Dig into this psychological thriller about whether you can really trust your nearest and dearest.” —Cosmopolitan

"From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 comes a chilling new novel of friendship, secrets, and the dangerous games teenaged girls play.

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten, along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isa—receive the text they had always hoped would never come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second-rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty. But their little game had consequences, and as the four converge in present-day Salten, they realize their shared past was not as safely buried as they had once hoped

Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill to keep you wrong-footed, The Lying Game is told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, lending itself to becoming another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time."

( From the book description on Amazon)

Lori's Book Review

"So many questions"...indeed. This novel had the book club guessing until the very end. At the risk of being cliche, I'm calling this one a real "who-done-it", "page-turner".  Incidentally, none of us guessed who actually "did it", though of few of us did have an eye on the guilty character. This novel is filled with suspense and intrigue.  

Parts of this story require the reader to suspend belief. "That would not actually happen in real life", was a sentiment held by all. But, given the fact that one of my favorite stories is Outlander (A time travel saga)...clearly I am capable of suspending belief. 

The story follows the lives of four teenagers who meet at a private all girls school in Southern England. The girls get into some trouble and make questionable choices which have severe consequences decades after leaving school.

How far would you go to cover for a friend? How long would you hold the lie? What if you weren't even sure your fellow liar friends had told YOU the truth? Would you risk it all?

If you like suspense, murder, and twists and turns, this is your book. Book Club rating: 5 Thumbs Up!

If you have read this book, please tell us what you thought in the comments below. 

An Encore Post From The Archives

The Best $17 Ever Spent... EVER!

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?  Disney broke us down. They are pretty good at that. 

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.

(Note: This post first appeared on Lori's House of Crazy on Oct 1, 2017)

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

This Day - I will Cherish

photo by Alex Jones on Unsplash

It's zero-dark-thirty in the morning. I'm up, barely functioning, and getting my new freshman off to school. We're a month into this insane early morning schedule. High School. This is where we are now, and it happened way too fast. 

I watch him walk toward the bus, all 6'4" of him. His stride is confident; he is owning this day. He's not nervous or anxious about high school. He is ready. I am not. It seems like yesterday I took him to kindergarten. Memories of that day churn within me as I fight back a tear. Mental photos flash in my mind - a slideshow of the moments I won’t forget. The three-year-old who was terrified of the smoke detector; the four-year old who said “Mom, you are awesome and I just want to hang out with you”; the kindergarten kid who was fascinated with the microphone during the Bible School program; and now the “big kid” who cares for and protects his brothers, and really, REALLY wants a LamborghiniWhere did the time go?

While I was busy writing a book about the preschool years, my children were growing and becoming incredibly cool people. And today, with my almost 15-year-old headed to high school, I am painfully aware that taking my son to college is in my near future. High school will be over in a nanosecond and then he will be gone from my home. And then one-by-one, they will all be gone. This is both the blessing and the curse of motherhood.

Many of you faced the "college good-bye" for the first time this month. You took your first born to college and then posted the photos on Facebook. Entire families, tears in their eyes, sharing a final moment before the family unit is no longer “complete”. Five becomes four. Soon they will be three. And then, in just a few short years, only two remain - the way it all began. Just seeing those photos made me cry. I could see both pain and pride on the mommy faces. It looked so hard. You were brave. How did you do it?

If we do a good job as parents, we will raise amazing and successful individuals. But before they can go do the things they were born to do, and be the people God created them to be, they must step out on their own. THAT is the most painful part about being a parent. Letting go. But what is the alternative? I certainly don't want a 36 year old living in my home and playing video games full time while he eats All.The.Food!  Letting go is difficult. Clearly not letting go would be problematic.  

And so, today my emotions are all over the place. This is the natural progression of parenting. We think raising preschoolers is so hard - and it is - but that is nothing compared to adjusting to life without them. Every parent before me knows this. It.Is.Hard.

For all the mommies out there who took their children young adults to college this month - I salute you. I don't know how you are walking around with any semblance of composure. I know your heart is breaking as you adjust to your new normal. I cry with you at the thought of this becoming my reality in just four short years.

So as he steps into his high school years, I resolve to do better, be better, love harder, and give more. I have this day to cherish. Tomorrow’s worries are for a future me who is better equipped to handle tomorrow’s pain. Today I will make a conscious effort to hold my children a little tighter and tell them I love them a few more times. Today I will strive to be in the moment, for all the moments I have left. The moments are precious - they are my treasures. I will not waste them. I will cherish this day.


There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

Monday, September 9, 2019

Baked Spaghetti

I love spaghetti...I do. But I was in a total rut, and making spaghetti Way.Too.Often! My family was getting bored. So, did I stop making spaghetti? NOPE! I just searched for new and improved versions of my "go-to easy dinner".  I found a baked spaghetti recipe online, but it called for a jar of spaghetti sauce. Look, I'm all about easy in the kitchen. I mean, I buy pre-made pie crust, so I am not judging anyone who wants to buy the spaghetti sauce in a jar. You do what you do. BUT... if, like me, you find the jar sauce is too sweet, here is a great meat sauce recipe for you.  (And also, WHY is sugar added to literally EVERYTHING! Just say "no" to added sugar.) Making your own meat sauce is easy and super tasty. Win! Plus - the directions are right here, so you really have to try it or my feelings will be hurt. Just kidding. 

Note: this is also the sauce I use for lasagna - which I made last night. And I must say, last night's lasagna was on point! Super delish.  But there is no way the ducklings will "kick me off this show" if I keep on cook'n like this. DRAT )


Meat Sauce
1 lb Ground Beef *
1 Onion, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 cup water
1 tbs Italian seasoning
1 tbs dried parsley
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

Cream Cheese Mixture
4 oz. cream cheese
½ cup sour cream
½ tsp salt
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tbs dried parsley

1 lb spaghetti
1 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
½ cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Sauce: Brown ground beef with minced garlic and chopped onion. (*A tasty option is ½ ground beef and ½ ground sausage. Or substitute the beef with turkey. Whatever you like, do that). Drain. Stir in all canned tomatoes, water, Italian seasoning, parsley, bay leaf, salt and pepper. (If you don’t have Italian seasoning, substitute 1 tsp basil and 1 tsp oregano). Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1-3 hours. (1 hour minimum but longer is better).

When the sauce is nearly finished, preheat the oven to 350 and bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions and drain. 

Cream Cheese Mixture: Mix cream cheese, sour cream, Italian seasoning, parsley flakes and salt. Stir cream cheese mixture into the cooked pasta. Set aside.

Spray a 9x12 pan with nonstick spray.  Coat the bottom of the baking pan with about 1 cup of sauce.  Divide the pasta, placing ½ in the pan and top with ½ of the sauce. Repeat with the rest of the pasta and sauce.  Top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses (For a twist, use cheddar cheese instead. It’s good that way too.)

Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with garlic bread and salad.
Serves 8.  About 370 calories per serving.

Copywrite 2018 - Loretta Monroe