Tuesday, August 31, 2010

HELPFUL HOMEWORK ADVISE {stop the homework hassle}

This is part of an on-going series LBDDiaries and I are doing on keeping our Inner Aloha/Peaceful Life.  See my previous post at Organize with a Calendar {for the CEO of your houshold} for some more great tips!


Raising four Rugrats (aka. Children) I have learned that homework can be the cause of a lot of stress in a home.  I have also learned that EACH CHILD IS DIFFERENT. 

I have/have had Rugrats who come in the door from school and don't even have to have a word mentioned to them and boom they are doing their HOMEWORK WITHOUT ANY ISSUES.  I have also had Rugrats who I have to watch like a hawk and CONSISTENTLY REMIND THEM TO DO THEIR HOMEWORK... (and constantly check to make sure it is actually being done and/or check what homework they actually have.  This causes so much STRESS.

Because of this I am constantly looking for pointers and tips and ideas of new things to try.

I'm assuming I'm not the only one with this issue so I thought I'd share what I have learned and what seems to be working.........this week.


Typically younger children, for obvious reasons, can only do sooooo much time at the homework table.  A general rule of thumb is that children do 10 minutes of homework for each grade level. In other words, first graders should be expected to do about 10 minutes of homework, second graders 20 minutes, third graders 30 minutes, fourth graders 40 minutes, etc. If your child is spending more than 10 minutes per grade level on their homework each night, then you may want to talk with your child's teacher.

My 6th grade daughter Math teacher recommends that after any child in his class has worked 60 minutes on math that the parent sign the paper and the child can turn it in for full math credit.  They, of course, will be reviewing it in class to get a better grasp and hopefully become able to complete the entire assignment in the 60 minute time frame.


Something that has helped me a lot over the years is to have a time frame that homework is done.  Example: Come home from school, have a snack and start homework.  Also having a specific area of the home where homework is completed.

If your child doesn't feel seeing the good grades on his/her report card is a good enough reason to study and do homework you may want to consider a rewards program for them.



Just like with us adults and getting our housework done or our job out of the home routines help greatly.

The first thing you need to do is figure out where your child should do their homework each day.  Is it the a desk in their bedroom?  This location may be better for the child who doesn't need as much help with their homework AND who you can trust to do their homework without constant supervision.  OR maybe a desk in the main area of your home OR your kitchen table.  I find for my youngest Rugrat that she needs to be where I can see her at all times.  This is important to keep her on track.  My older Rugrat daughter and son do great in their rooms.  It really depends on the personality of your child.
One you have established where you want your child to do their homework each day make sure you have everything they will need in that location.  We have a desk in our home that is loaded with all the supplies they will need. It is located right next to my home/office desk.  If you need your child to work from your dining room table obviously having all the supplies located on your table isn't doable.  I would suggest getting a plastic tub or a large basket that you can keep all the items in and pull it out at homework time.  This way everything is still together and easy to grab at homework time but it will allow for easy clean up when it comes time to set the table and eat..

Even on a post about homework hassles it's still all about the food!  HA HA

Sorry, it's how I roll....

Ya, I could easily keep going with the "roll" comment but I'll get back to the post....


 Is it directly after school?  Is it after they come home and have a snack?  Directly after dinner?  What works best for YOUR schedule as well as your child's?  In our home our children come home, have a snack and start their homework.  This is what works best for us.  OBVIOUSLY once sports start this changes.

Be flexible with the new seasons and having to change your routine occasionally BUT try to stay as consistent as possible.  Learning a good homework habit early on will help them when they begin college and you aren't there to remind them.  You may need to play with it a bit with the schedule at first to see what works best for you, but then try to stick to it the best you can.


A daily homework planner is a good good good thing!  Your child should write down homework for each class/subject in their planner each day.  On occasion you will find that your child will not write down all of their assignments, as to get out of doing homework.  SHOCK AND AWE MOMENT I KNOW!  I have had this happen on numerous occasions.  Sooooooooooo if you too have a Rugrat who is a homework hassle King/Queen may I suggest requiring your child write their homework assignments IN INK in their planner AND have their teacher initial next to the homework list THAT IS WRITTEN IN INK (so they can't erase any assignments AFTER the teacher initials it......Not that they would ever dream of doing something like this).....  I only have on child who has to do the INK written assignments with signature but it is proving to be most helpful.  (smile)

*Be sure to check with your child's school for online resources.  Many teachers use "Schoolnotes(dot)com" OR they use another online grading/homework system that parents can go on to view both grades and homework assignments.


I have started giving out "Good Time Tickets" to my Rugrats.  I don't JUST use them for homework I also use them for other things I catch them doing right in our home.  (For instance yesterday they unloaded some items I had purchased out of the back of my car WITHOUT my asking them to do it......)  If the planner comes home with the assignments written in it, they earn a ticket.  When they complete their homework if it is done NEATLY and they didn't dilly dally around making me repeatedly tell them to get back on task they earn a ticket.  These tickets can be redeemed for several "Good Times"  from picking what we are having for dinner to a trip to the coast for a weekend.  It all depends on how many tickets they save up.  There are also things that can get your tickets taken away.  Lying about what homework you have.  Picking any answer on multiple choice questions just to be done with the homework page "IMAGINE IT"...I don't have to imagine it..... I've lived it.....

You have to adjust here and there and I'm still learning, even after 20 years of these Rugrats.  You will find one thing works well with one child and something entirely different will work well for another.

Hope these tips were helpful!

What do you in your home that has been helpful?

Please share...we must stick together or these Rugrats will eat us alive....besides....together we can lower the stress level in many homes....

Or just open a bottle of wine...... KIDDING....

sort of...... tee hee

Ciao Bellas~

Monday, August 30, 2010


It's time for Meet Me On Monday again!  Yay!

Sadly I don't have time today to attach fun photos to each of my answers.. Boo Hoo....  BUT I've been so busy organizing today! Super Yay!

I'll be posting that soon.  I was working on my Home Office Desk and Homework Desk.  I had so much stuff on them that was not related to what each of them were supposed to be used for and NOW they are looking great. 


Ok, here are my questions.  Hope ya join in and tell me about yourself!

1. What is your favorite kind of potato chip?

Salt and Vinegar

2. Do you make your bed everyday?

Yes.  I didn't used to but now ALMOST without fail I make my bed each day.  It's part of my BEST LIFE/LIVING MY ALOHA plan.

3. How often do you go to the hair salon?

Once every 6 weeks.  Like clockwork baby.

4. What do you dip your French fries in?

Ketchup and Mustard  (and I sprinkle of Tabasco Sauce)

5.  Do you shop with coupons? 

This was my new goal to start doing as part of my Living My Aloha Plan but I'm still at the learning stages.  Any tips??

Thanks so much for this wonderful idea JAVA!  You can see Java's Meet Me on Monday on her Never Growing Old Blog here

Again, sorry I don't have any fun photo's on this post but I hope to hear from you!!!!

Ciao Bellas~


Friday, August 27, 2010


This is part of an on-going series LBDDiaries and I are doing on keeping our Inner Aloha/Peaceful Life

Now that school is back in for most of us our lives have started getting busier again.  Gone are the kicked back summer days.  This doesn't mean we have to lose our "Aloha".  I refuse for it to mean this so I have been putting a lot of time into researching how to control the chaos.

One thing I have found VERY helpful is my calendar.  LOVE LOVE LOVE my calendar.  It is called "Mom's Family Desk Planner and it's by Sandra Boynton.  You can purchase them at several locations and online but I recently found them at Costco.  It's a 17 month school year planner so there is room to write things for the following school year during the current school year.  This has proven to be WONDERFUL.

Of course there is always your calender on your phone which works well and you can set alerts. I use this as well.  I like it because I almost always have my phone with me but I still love my desk planner.  I put it in my purse and that way I always have it with me.

At the beginning of the school year all the junk mail IMPORTANT papers come home and while I'm filling out what I need to fill out and send back to school I grab my calendar and I write down all the events that are on the school calendar.  "No school days", "Early release days", etc.  Then each week when the "Bulletin" comes home I again grab my calendar and write down all the dates/times of upcoming events they are announcing.

What is great about the Mom's Family Desk Planner is there is one column for MOM and one for the RUGRATS.  So I can see at a glance which column it is written in and know if it is something for me or something the rugrats are doing. 

I don't know if it is because I have my own special space and with rugrats that is hard to come by so I just get so excited (even if it is only a column on a calendar) but it's mine....all mine..... ahhhhhhhhhhh.......MINE!  Ok, sorry..

AND for the family to have an easy look they also make it in a big wall calendar.  Now this one has more columns.......everyone gets their very own column (unless you have more than a family of five, which I do but now one of my Rugrats is out on his own so I don't have to split a column between two of the children anymore) so you can record their activity in their own column and you can see at a glance who has something that day. 

At the top of the calendar there is a blank space that you can fill in your Rugrat's name and the very first column is for MOM... that's because we are the CEO of our households and we must always come first. HA....It was worth a try.....

Now remember if you do not take the time to write the appointments and events down in your calendar IT WON'T WORK.  Or if you do what I have been guilty of and you don't look at the calendar to see what you have coming up IT WON'T WORK.

I look at my calendar every night after dinner.  Why do this instead of just looking at it in the morning?  Because when I wake up and see that my calendar says "Bring 2 dozen cookies to Rugrat's class" I don't want to have CHAOS sirens going off that morning.  I want them going off the night before. 

But what I do to TRY (key word) to avoid the CHAOS even more is.......


Susie needs 2 dozen cookies taken to class on Tuesday.  On Monday's date my calendar will say "Susie needs cookies taken to class tomorrow"  AND when I find out I need to do this, along with writing on my calendar, it gets written on my grocery list (future post coming on menu planning/grocery list/budget) so when I need to make the cookies on Monday it doesn't become "A WHOLE THING" as I like to say because i don't have the ingredients to make them and now I have to make a special trip to the store, etc.   

Calendars are so important.  Businesses use them all the time.  Why?  Because they have to keep track off all the appointments and jobs they have going on.  Who would expect them to remember all of this information without a calendar?  Nobody would.

Well as the CEO's of our household we have a lot to keep track of and who would expect us to remember it all without a calendar?  Nobody would, EXCEPT ourselves.....

Let's give up trying to fly by the seat of our pants and then beat ourselves up when we "forget" things.  Let's take the 10 minutes to sit down and put things on our calendar's as they come in.  It will save a lot more than 10 minutes in the long run. 

***I have found a great time to fill out my calendar is when I'm sitting and waiting for my rugrats to finish guitar lessons or soccer practice or wrestling practice.  Instead of sitting and thinking I have so much to do it's a great idea to fill in your calendar or start making that to do list.

To see the previous Aloha post click here "organize & reduce stress".......For more information on our Aloha journey be sure to go visit LBDDiaries and drink up a cup of her wisdom.

Ciao Bellas~


Thursday, August 26, 2010


Dale Earnhardt, Jr. just may have some up coming competition.  And from a GIRL in the family.  Nope, it's not his sister this time (even though she knows how to hold her own on a track). 

BUT.......The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as they say.  The newest race driver in the family is Kelley Earnhardt's daughter, Karsyn (Earnhardt) Elledge.  With Jimmy Elledge for your daddy, and Kelley Earnhardt for your Momma, Kerry Earnhardt and Dale, Jr for your Uncles and Dale Earnhardt, Sr. "The Intimidator" for your Papaw there is bound to be some racin' blood flowing through those veins.

Here is a photo of Miss Karsyn in her new cart~!  Don't you just LOVE her number?

Karsyn may be a little thing but like many members in her family she isn't afraid to step on that gas pedal.  She proved that at the "Box Stock" Kart race at Woodleaf Speedway in North Carolina.

Look at her go!  Go Karsyn! Go!

You can see video of Karsyn's actual race HERE

And she went....and she went and.....

SHE TOOK FIRST PLACE!!! I'm so proud of you Miss Karsyn! (Karsyn with her Daddy)

I'm so excited to share this and not just because Kelley is a friend of mine and I think Karsyn is one of the most adorable little girls I've ever seen (in my completely unbiased opinion... smile) but also because it's exciting to me as a race fan.  ANOTHER Earnhardt on the track and ANOTHER Earnhardt taking the win.

Isn't she adorable?

~Ciao Bellas~

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!  I just love doing these giveaways!

Thanks so much to everyone for entering to win and for visiting me here on my Soapbox!

I used Random.org to generate the winner. 

drum roll..........

Random Integer Generator

Here is your random number:

Timestamp: 2010-08-25 23:07:53 UTC

#2 is:  ERIN said...

August 17, 2010 4:34 AM

Congratulations Erin.  Please email me and I'll send your certificate over to you!

Have a great night.  We are off to back to school night with the Rugrats!

Ciao Bellas


ORGANIZE AND REDUSE STRESS {Marriage, Children, Home and Work}

Hawaii’s best known export is not sugar, pineapples or Kona coffee, but a word: aloha. This word is what I took home with me after my month long stay on the Island. Aloha means much more than hello or goodbye or even love. It’s true meaning is the joyful (oha) sharing (alo) of life energy (ha) in the person (alo).

It means belonging to others with a common humanity. It is a feeling in the heart.

I'm really doing my best to try and keep my "Aloha" since I've been home.  I spent some time sitting and thinking about what it actually is about Maui that was so relaxing to me.  It was like the stress was just melting away.  I realize I was on vacation but I did have my rugrats there with me and I did do some work (bare minimum) while I was there.  Obviously, doing bare minimum work was a factor but that wasn't all.  And for me, summer time with NOT having the kids in school is a more relaxed, less stressful time for me, even when we are at home. 

But there still is something very different, special and relaxing about Maui.  It is very much slower paced then it is here at home.  And I want that.  I kept saying over and over "I'm determined to find a way to bring this Aloha back home with me".... 

Well, I've been home for a couple weeks and I think I've done a pretty good job keeping my Aloha so far.  I was a bit overwhelmed when I first returned because I am very very busy with work right now.  We are just swamped in general and then with my "bare minimum" working for the last month, I'm really playing catch up.  Normally that would throw me into a tizzy and believe me......it started too.  I was starting to feel overwhelmed and then I said "NOPE, not doing this"  It took a month to get all this stress stripped away from me and I REFUSE to fall back into chaos.  Will NOT do it.

So after much soul searching  and speaking with my friend at LBDDiaries I've decided that this is my goal for this next year.  I can't run a business and have three children still at home and a son who is about to get married and not have a little chaos from time to time BUT I can have CONTROLLED CHAOS... And this is my goal.  

I started this earlier this year.  Taking control of my life and making it the best it can be.  I've made changes that have helped.   I've stepped up and done things I haven't "wanted" to do but I've known I "needed" to do but it's time to take it further.  It's time to dig deeper.  And that's what I'm doing.  That's what I'm hoping you will do with me.

As soon as my "Aloha" is in jeopardy I am going to stop...drop....and roll..... of wait, that is for a fire....

Okay, so I'm going to stop and ask myself  "What can I do differently that would make this situation not be as stressful?"  And I'm going to do it! 

I'm going to continue to work on my weight and health.  I was doing so well and then I slacked off and I'm back at it.  Bottom line is I feel so much better emotionally and physically when I don't slack off.

I'm going to be working on my marriage.  After going on 22 years of marriage, running a business together and raising four children together I want to do a "check up".  I want to make sure I'm doing everything I can to be the best wife I can be.  I want to take time to plan date nights like we used to do.  I want to redecorate my bedroom to a more romantic setting.  All these things I "think about" doing and never get around too.  I'm going to mark time on the calendar to get it done and do it.

I'm going to work on de-cluttering and organizing my life.  This is HUGE.  This is a major cause of stress. 

Case in point..... My son lost his permit.  I was going to take him to the DMV to get another copy.  I had all the stuff together before we left for Maui so I thought it would be easy to grab and go.  So we are ready to walk out the door and I can't find it.  Then I find the form we needed but realize I never put his SS# on it.  So then I'm trying to find his Social Security card.  Can't find it.....  And in the mean time I think I should bring his birth certificate just in case.... Can't find it.  Are you dang kidding me?!?  So I find the birth certificate (which we didn't even need) and then I find the social security card.  But had I put them all back in the safe where they belong instead of setting them down in a spot "for now" and then never getting around to putting them in the safe then I would have found them right off.  And if I didn't have so much JUNK to go through it would have been much easier.  It's not like I have TONS of stuff but it all adds up.  And after spending a month in Maui it made me realize just how little I really "need" and how much nicer it is to have less things to keep track of and to dig through.

I'm going to work on "The guilt"  Not letting the guilt get to me of not having enough time in the day to do everything I want to do.  Or not having enough time in the day to do things that others want me to do.  That saying "I just can't do it today" is OK.  That I don't have to put others first and then figure out how in the world I'm going to catch up on all of my stuff.  Learning I can't do it all perfectly.  I can't be the perfect wife, housekeeper, employee (so many days I'd like to fire myself!.. lol) mother, daughter and friend all the time and that doesn't make me a failure.  It makes me human. 

I can say these things and know deep down in my heart that they are true.  I would say them to my best friend and mean it from the bottom of my heart yet I hold myself to a different standard.  It's time I give myself a break on somethings and come down on myself about others.

You want the chips and salsa.......TOO BAD STEPHANIE, you can't have every dang thing you want just because you want it.

So you don't want to go in to the office today or run errands?  TOO BAD STEPHANIE, you have to.  If you don't go to the office you can't get time cards, if you don't get time cards you can't do payroll on time, if you don't do payroll on time your employees wont get their paychecks on time.  If they don't get their paychecks on time .......you get the idea......So suck it up, stop complaining about what you have to do and get it done. (Not that I never pay my employees on time, I always do but I do sometimes make it stressful on myself by waiting until the last minute)

So you want to go get a massage and you have a gift card but you feel guilty like you should be home cleaning or finishing some work?  Can it wait?  Have you been running and doing things for yourself and neglected your home and work already this week?  If the answer is NO then I'm going to go get that dang massage and NOT feel guilty.  If the answer is YES then.....sorry you want a massage but you have already played this week so suck it up, get your work done and go next week.

Changes......it's all about balance and controlling the chaos.... and I'm on a mission.

A friend of mine LBDDiaries and I are committed to continuing this mission together.  We have already been riding the weight loss train together and now we are on a mission to live our best lives.  We are going to help support each other and give each other advise. 

AND we are going to post our advise, what we learn through our research and our trial and errors and we hope to help you with something you may be struggling with.

We can't be the only ones who are in need of organizing, de-clutter, losing weight, strengthening our marriages, dealing with Rugrats at home or dealing with Rugrats who are no longer at home.

LBDDiaries and I feel that together we can make a difference.  We both love to do research and get as much information on things as we can.  We can't wait to share it with you all.

We are excited to have you on this journey with us and along the way if you have advise please share and if you have a topic you would like us to discuss please let us know.

Here is to finding and keeping our "ALOHA".

Oh and if nobody told you this already today YOU ARE WORTH THE WORK it will take to find it. 

Are ya with me???


To see my first post on this please click here "things to come and reasons behind it all"

Monday, August 23, 2010


I found "Meet me on Monday" on my friend at LBDDiaries Blog and she found it on Never Growing Old Blog.  I had to join in on the fun!  What a great way to get to know each other.

I spill the beans about my life on here all the time BUT the little things about me, how much of that do I share?  I mean I probably haven't done a post saying "By the way my beautiful blog friends my favorite doughnut is a glazed twist."  Not that I shouldn't do that but I just haven't.  UNTIL NOW.

What I am sooooooooooooo looking forward to is finding out more about YOU!  My fellow bloggers, my readers my BFF e-friends!  I'm excited for it not to be all about me.

So I will spill the beans about myself and then if you could be so kind as to spill it back about you!

Okie Dokie Artichokie these are the questions:

1. What is your favorite kind of doughnut?

2. How often do you pray?

3. What is your favorite kind of music?

4. What do you order when you eat Chinese food?

5. Would you rather snowboard in the winter or swim in the summer?

You can copy and paste them in the comment section and answer them that way or if you want you can just list the question number and your answer next to it that way!  It's all about you, so you do whatcha wanna do!

Question #1

My favorite doughnut is the Glazed Twist doughnut (which you already know cuz I spilt it above, I'm already not good at this) 

I really must admit that I have never met any doughnut that I don't like.

I also must admit.....

I'm craving one now....

Question #2

I pray often.  I pray throughout the day as things come in to my mind.  I pray for my children and my husband, my family and my friends..... My prayers are more like conversations off and on throughout my day.  But I also thank God in payers throughout the day.  Silly things like I'm in a hurry and can't find my keys, it's getting down to the wire and my day is surly going to be ruined if I don't find them in the next 30 seconds (exaggeration here but you get the idea) I find them and I say "Thank you God".. 

 I believe in the power of prayer.

Question #3


 Hands down Country music.  I love country music, new and old.  I used to wish I was from Alabama because I love the song "Sweet Home Alabama" so much.  I'm a country girl, just living in the hills of California.

Of course I also wished I was from the south so I could talk about my "Sweet Tea" allot too.

Question #4

Love Broccoli Beef but I also like Orange Chicken or Kung Pao Chicken. We usually order several different items and then share them all.

I'm really getting hungry now.  SHOCK and AWE moment I know......

Question #5

I would rather swim in the summer.....  This is my future daughter in law when we were in Maui.  I took this picture to send to her momma.  Isn't she adorable?

So how about you?  Spill it, if you would be so kind...


Have a fantastic Monday!

Ciao Bellas~

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fashion Show's for Cats? YOU BET.

Fashion shows for cats?  You betcha!  At least when you have Rugrat daughters and a cat who is grounded to the house for a couple days.

We had some tractor work done and they asked Hunk if we had any dogs that would be an issue with bringing their dog.  Hunk told them no, because as many of you know while the rugrats and I were in Maui out lab Nestlie (of about 14 years) passed away.  Hunk waited to tell us until we got home because he knew it would be hard news to take. (And our dog Buck ran away one too many times and we never found him)

Here is our Nestlie:

Don't you love her nails?  My sweet girl.  We love and miss you Nestlie.  RIP precious animals of past

Soooooooo.  Hunk told him we didn't have any dogs.  What none of us thought about is our CAT (which we only have ONE cat left).  I guess his dog has never seen a cat but has chased plenty of squirrels in his day.  You can guess where this is going.  It started with a chase under a vehicle, and older man chasing his dog with a stick and slipping and falling (feeling more embarrassed than hurt), then turned to our cat trying to climb out sliding glass door, lots and lots of screaming and just when it looked as though our kitty's life would be coming to an end he shot out and made it to a tree before the dog got him.  He stayed up there for hours...

Since the tractor work has gone on for two days the cat has found a new home inside.  Only one poop accident on the carpet, I am have been impressed!

So my daughters just showed me these photos and I had to share with you. 

Welcome to the Kitty fashion show......  My daughter is helping with this post as she would like to leave the remarks about the clothing. (smile)


New from Calvin Kline, plaid is back in with this sexy look.

Come to the lake in your summer outfit.  Notice how the green bring out his eyes and the holes in this outfit allow for cooling.

Take this fashionable hat!  It has storage for all your cat nip needs.

Check out this vibrant bow?  Huhhhhhh ladies? 

Going to work at the office boys?  I would highly suggest this I love Sugar Pine Christian Camp tie.  It's the perfect accent to any outfit.

Don't you wish your tie was hot like mine?  Dontcha? .... Dontcha? 

For the cold winter days try this new fashionable coat.

Check out this choker for the ladies....

One free baseball with any purchase.... (Momma here.....did you notice he is rubbing his eyes.... I'm sorry Kitty)

A night out on the town?  Not a problem with this awesome sheer coat


The ribbons on this coat make a nice accent to this baby blue color.

Thank you for watching my fashion show.  My cat appreciates your support.

Did you like it?

Signed, Momma's Rugrat

Friday, August 20, 2010

MAD tv - Bon Qui Qui at King Burger SO FUNNY

As many of you know by now we are avid movie watchers.  We remember lines from movies we love and we repeat them until everyone around us either joins in or runs and hides.

Well, a friend showed me this video from Mad TV and it has become one of the new family favorites.  Anytime someone slightly irritates one of us we will say "Girl I will CUT him".  You may have seen me say something like "I will go Bon Qui Qui on them". 

We did have to tone it down in Maui when my nephew said "Auntie, I would cut him" in the best Bon Qui Qui interpretation to date.  He was laughing and didn't really understand the "meaning" behind it and we didn't think that was such a great thing.  So we explained that it wasn't a good idea and Auntie and Mommy stopped saying it (around my nephew anyway)....

Put on your depends and grab a tissue in case you have the same reaction to this as my family and friends have.

Friendly reminder: Don't forget to go down on the right hand side of my screen and pause my music.

Isn't there a little Bon Qui Qui waiting to break out in all of us from time to time?

Enjoy your Friday!

Ciao Bellas~

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Best Easy Banana Bread Recipe {yummy for my tummy}

I just love me some Banana Bread.  Ok, I can admit it.  I love BREAD.  It isn't quite as high up there on the YUM scale as cheese but it's up there and BANANA BREAD is a weakness. 

My name is Stephanie and I am a food  bread-aholic.  I haven't had bread for about 2 minutes now and I'm proud of that fact.

Ok, sorry getting lost in my own head again......

My recipe is Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.

Ready?  Do you have a pen and paper? 

Pre heat the over to 350 degrees

Sift together:
1 3/4 cups Self Rising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend until creamy:
1/3 cup shortening (I've used butter when I don't have shortening and it was YUMMERS)
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind (if you don't have it don't stress but it really is good)
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Beat in:
2 beaten eggs
1 to 1 1/4 cups ripe banana pulp (I usually do a bit extra but don't get too carried away or it won't cook as well)

Add the sifted ingredients to the sugar mixture (usually adding about 1/3 at a time) beating the batter after each addition until smooth..

THEN fold in:
1/2 cup broken walnuts (or nut of your choice, get your mind out of the gutter.....pecans are a favorite of mine)

If you want to get really fancy add:
1/4 cup finely chopped dried apricots

Grease you up a bread pan and pour the yumminess in.

Now my favorite part:
Sprinkle the top with Cinnamon and sugar mixture and place broken nuts on top (pressing down slightly to help them stick to the bread)

Bake the bread for about 1 hour or until done.  (If you check with a toothpick make sure you didn't stab a piece of banana and thought the gooeyness was uncooked bread.  Not that I have EVER done that before, I don't even know why that came into my mind.  OKAY I have..... You guys just see right through me.

NOTE**(if you want to use all purpose flour then add 2 1/4 teaspoons doubt acting baking powder)
And don't forget, when you have bananas you are ready to toss because they are turning on you, throw (not literally) them in a zip lock bag and put them in the freezer, then you always have ripe bananas on hand when you want to make banana bread.

Now let it cool enough so that it won't fall to pieces when you cut it.  Not that I have EVER EVER not been able to control myself enough to wait for it to cool. 



When it cools enough, slice a piece off and drop a cube of butter on it...... OK not a cube but spread you some butter on .......wait for it to melt down into the bread and ENJOY!

And the heavens opened and the angels sing.........Hallelujah, Hallelujah.....Hallelu-u-u-jahhh....

Now jump in the air, slide down on one knee, throw your hands up in the air and yell "Super Star"

(I do the jump, slide, hands up in the air thing a few times....I consider that my work out so I don't feel so guilty about all the butter)


Ciao Bellas~

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fireproof your marriage- {The Love Dare}

Have you all seen the movie "Fireproof"????  Hunk and I went to the movies and saw it and then we watched it in our bible study group.  I thought it had some great lessons in it.  But lessons that as the days, weeks and months go past are easy to forget.

Along with the movie is the book "The Love Dare".  We also used this book in our bible study but I never finished the book.  It is a day by day "how to guide" for your marriage and has an area that you can journal about your feelings of that particular day.  It give suggestions on what to concentrate and build on each day.  At the end of the day you write how it went that day.

I was reading back through a few of my notes and some I thought "WOW guess "I" was having a bad day that day"  or "What a jerk he was being that day."  OR "I'm so blessed to have such a sweet husband"..... 

I think we have all felt that way about our spouses from time to time.  In fact I think I personally have felt all of those emotions in the SAME day before.  Is that what they call hormonal?  Whatever......that's a whole other post!

So I'm doing this again! 

Day One Is about love being patient.  Love is OBVIOUSLY so important in a relationship.  We do so many things out of love we have for someone.  It is very motivating.  Love inspires us to be patient but that doesn't always come easily to us.  When our spouse does something that causes us to get mad or hurt it is more difficult to respond with patience.  Today talks about make the choice to be patient.  Make the choice to respond in a positive way if something negative comes your way.  Whenever we are not making a conscious choice to be patient it is so easy to say things we don't mean, overreact to a situation and regret it later. 

Isn't it so much nicer to be around someone who is patient instead of someone who blows up at every little thing?  Takes everything personally?  Just as we feel this way so do our spouses. 

We all make mistakes, we all do things without thinking of the others feelings from time to time. Lets give our spouses room to be human today.  When they make a mistake or say something inconsiderate today lets give them grace, maybe even more grace than they seem to deserve.

The hard part about this is it may just be you doing this, not both of you working on your relationship.  The good part is......even one person can help turn a relationship around.  It's amazing how quickly you can see and feel a difference.

I'm not sharing with Hunk that I am doing this study again.  I'm just going to do it and see what changes I see.  We are not having "issues"  we are not NOT getting along, we are not NOT in love.....but who couldn't stand a little more romance or to be a little closer with their spouse?  And shouldn't we always strive to be a better person?  To be the best person that we can be?

My goal is to be a Proverbs 31 woman.... Not a doormat.....a woman of integrity, loyalty, loving and not lazy.  A woman any man would be proud to call his wife. To sum it up....

This is my goal....

So when your hunny bunny makes you want to grab a frying pan and smack him in the back of the head as he is walking past.......set it on the stove and make him an egg sandwich instead. 

Hunk was wondering what was going on this morning as I was making his breakfast (egg sandwich....ha ha) and handed him a packed lunch (sub sandwich, grapes and cherries for him and my oldest Rugrat) as he walked out the door.  Not that I've never done this but I have to spill it......it just doesn't happen every morning here.....  I'm just saying....

Then I got the rugrats off to school, came home,  poured a cup of coffee, sat down to blog to you and peace was restored in the land of Momma....

Cheers to patience today.

Ciao Bellas~

Monday, August 16, 2010


It's time for another FREE CSN Giveaway!!  It's a $40 gift certificate.  It will be emailed to the winner and you can use it at Le Crueset or just go to www.csnstores.com and you can view over 200 different websites you can choose from!  Some of these are www.allmodern.com, http://www.cookware.com/, www.luxebycsn.com and many more!  Many items have free shipping. 

AND......It's easy peasy lemon squeezy to enter. 

You get one entry if:

You leave a comment telling me what your favorite part of this summer was.

Two  more if you put a post on your blog linking back to this giveaway.

One more if you become or are a follower of my blog.

The contest ends on Tuesday, August 24th at midnight Pacific Standard time and the winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Wednesday, August 25th.


Ciao Bellas~


A special thanks to CSN Stores for donating this giveaway for my wonderful readers!

IN CASE YOU NEED A LAUGH TODAY {laugh at my expense}

My rugrats started back to school today.  It was a bit emotional for me for some reason.

I think because:

He's a senior......and even while on the top of a mountain overlooking the island of Maui he is TEXTING his friends.  He is growing up before my very eyes and in one year we will be sending him off to college.

AND because of this:

She started 7th grade today and I took this FUZZY picture in the car on the way to school (no worries I was stopped in line when I took it......and look at the line of cars behind us!)

AND because of this:

My baby.  My baby started 6th grade today.  Sniff....Sniff.....

AND this didn't help:

My little nephew started Kindergarten today.  I wish I could have been there.  He lives in Colorado and since I'm in California and it was my Rugrats first day back to school I couldn't go to Colorado...so I missed it.....

BUT I'm determined to keep my Aloha.  I started to lose it today with all that was going on with who got what class with who and why and AHHHHHH....I kept trying to take it back down a notch and find the Aloha (and lots of prayer for peace about a few things)  And in the end it worked! 

And in order to bring a little of my ALOHA to you I am going to throw myself right under the bus JUST TO GIVE YOU A LAUGH..

Any of you who have been to Maui, or the beach in general know that waves can be VERY strong.  So below you can watch a video of one such wave tossing me onto the shore line and as I get up and try to jump back out into it (the rugrats were doing this and it was keeping them from getting tossed back up on the shore......not so lucky for me) the wave came rushing in and pushed me right back up.  It was sort of fun...but sand in places that sand should NEVER ever ever ever be.  Not ever..  Not even....well, not even EVER...  Can't think of one time when it would be a good idea to have sand places I did.  I would like to say I am thankful that I didn't lose my swim top, though it did try.

Keep in mind that every time I see me being tossed around I'm thinking BEACHED WHALE....... so you know I love you to share this....

Laugh at my expense..... I'm used to it. LOL

OH and a special thank you to my sister.  You can hear how sympathetic she was while she was filming it happen.  She felt so sorry for me and threw the camera down and tried to come to my rescue.  I am so thankful to her for that.

Oh and in case you can't see it clearly..... I'm the one on the right and at the end I just dig my feet in and try to hold on to the sand....

One more thing, I apologize to everyone on the beach that day, I'm sure they saw one more butt cheek than they planned to see that day.

Keeping it real here on my Soapbox.....even when it means tossin' myself under the bus......or just rolling around on a beach.....

Wishing you and your Rugrats a great school year!

Love and Hugs...

Ciao Bellas~

Sunday, August 15, 2010


We were at the highest point on Maui.  It was sooooooo beautiful.  You could see the big island from here.

(Me feeling so relaxed, enjoying dinner & heading to a Hawaiian theater to learn more about the Hawaiian people)

As many of you already know I was fortunate enough to get to spend a month in Maui with my Rugrats (and my sister and nephew) this summer.  It was a time of MAJOR decompression.  The stresses of my "reality" back here on the mainland dripped away a little each day until I almost forgot what being stressed out felt like.  I was determined to not lose this feeling when I returned home.  I just knew there had to be a way to keep this feeling.  I kept saying "I want to figure out how to bring my ALOHA back home with me."

So sitting on the Lanai looking out at the ocean and feeling like one of the most blessed people on this earth....I started thinking.......  Is it just the scenery?  Is it the yummy Mai Tai's?......Is is just the fact that I am on "vacation"?  Is it that I doing only "what has to be done for work"?

Sure all of those things contributed to it.....no doubt about it.  BUT it was more than that.  I am fortunate enough to live on a lake at home......the scenery here is beautiful (not palm trees in Maui but when I take the time to slow down and look at the view I can't complain)....The Mai Tai's...they were great, but I can make them at home if I wanted.  Vacation?  Sure that helps, but I've been on plenty where I felt I needed to come home and take a vacation from my vacation.  OBVIOUSLY doing less work was helpful but there has to be a way to manage that better.

So I made a game plan.  A plan to simplify.  I realized less can be more.  I started to take a look around and see what stresses me and figure out what I can do to change it.  Some physical things some mental things.

Then a friend of mine, Nan, at LBD Diaries and I decided that we were going to work on this together.  We had already been working on our weight loss journey together and found our e-mail support to be so helpful so we figured why not support each other in other areas.

THEN we decided to take it a step further and incorporate it into our blog posts.  This would not only help us but help others.  We can't be the only ones who struggle with being organized, keeping romance in our marriages, dealing with Rugrats, and the need to cut the clutter.  We also want to work on our finances, budgeting, menu planning, housekeeping schedule and scheduling time to for ourselves and with our spouses.

While in Maui I learned from some locals the true meaning of the word Aloha.  I'm determined to keep mine and I'd love nothing more than to share it.  I'm so looking forward to working with Nan and doing just that.

More on this to come, but I am just so excited about it that I had to share!

Ciao Bellas~


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Happy 90th Birthday Popo~ {WE LOVE YOU}

I love him!

Today my Popo turns 90 years old!  These photos are a bit old but they are the most recent ones I have (thank you sister for sending them to me!).

I realize while typing this just how important it is to remember to take my camera today and snap away.

Isn't he adorable?  My Popo!  So many memories from my childhood.  Going to his house (in the mountains) having him point to one of the hills and say "Yep, over yonder there is a good tree u-ens can climb"  or getting older and hearing him tell stories about being in the war (one of the only times I've seen him cry, broke my heart).  He has been through and seen a lot in his 90 years.  Lots of good and at this age, unfortunately, also some sad.  We are so blessed to still have him here with us.

This photo makes me want to cry!  For starters seeing my girls with their great Popo warms my heart and then to top it off seeing my girls look so young reminds me just how quickly time goes past.

I remember being their age (in this photo) and him stopping by to give me something from his lunch pail each day after work.  Raisins are what I remember most.

My grandmother passed away when I was a year old and my Popo remarried.  He never gets tired of telling me the story of me pushing her away and saying "It's MY Popo".  In fact I'm sure I'll hear that story again today.......at least twice.. (and I will smile and listen with the same love in my heart as he has each time he tells it)


Today the family will gather in your honor.  I can't wait to watch you blow out those birthday candles. 

And eat all the great food that our family OF COURSE will have.

Have a great weekend my e-friends!

Ciao Bellas~
~Mommas Soapbox~

Friday, August 13, 2010


I'm exhausted!  Let's just say I attended a party last night that I never want to attend again.

It was here at home.  It started in the middle of the night and ended when the sun started coming up. 

Who attended this party?  Two Raccoons, one trap, three Rugrats and a cat.  It wasn't a hurtful kind of trap it is more of a cage that once something enters the door closes.....

Raccoons have been coming down and eating all of our dog food each night. (I used to get so excited when I would see them because I think they are so adorable looking....things change in the middle of the night) They also get in fights sometimes out there and wake us up....So Hunk had this idea to set this cage/trap there and see if he caught one if they would stop coming down and eating the dog food.  ughhhhhh......

Hunk is a SOUND sleeper....Me?  Not so much.....  So the window is open (because of my hot flashes it felt like it was so hot that the chickens were laying hard boiled eggs) to keep me semi cooled off and I hear this awful animal fighting noise.  Screeching/growling... crazy.  Then I hear my son and see his flashlight...  He is headed outside. 

THEN I hear him yelling at something....THEN he comes back in to announce that we have "caught" a Raccoon in the cage and the other Raccoon ran off part way up our hill, stopped and stared him down....

Where is Hunk?  Fast asleep.....

So I get up and go outside with my son.  I see the Raccoon (in the cage) and outside of the cage..  So I could release him, and get some sleep, but then will the lesson be learned to NOT come here for dinner?  And more importantly will he bite me if I try messing with this cage I don't know how to work in the dark? So I grab our cat that our son was afraid the Raccoon NOT in the cage would kill and I bring him inside.

I go back to bed.... again with the hootin' and hollerin' from the Raccoons.  It was a very intense conversation of how to break the one out of it's jail cell. 

I put the pillow over my head for about 30 seconds and came up gasping for air and reaching for more deodorant, seriously was sweating like a stuck pig. 

Finally I start to fall back to sleep and something crawls on my leg.  I start to panic and then I think it was a dream and calm myself back down....  Then it happens again and I kick and hear "MEOW"  Well GREAT I just knocked the cat off of the bed.  He keeps meowing and then he jumps on my screen and tries to get to the outside.  I get up take him down and climb back in bed.  He keeps meowing.... I take him to the bathroom, close the door and go back to bed.

I'm now thinking about laying sideways on the bed, bending both knees and kicking Hunk to the floor.  Honestly, do we really need a trap set up to stop the Raccoons?  Will it even work.... AND IF WE ARE GOING TO DO THIS.....Do you really get to sleep through all the drama, only waking up a couple times when you hear your son yelling at them?.....

I decide to spare him the concrete floor underneath our bed and try to go back to sleep....  Seriously, I think I needed a shower at this point...

 I start to doze off and then something wakes me (golly gee what could it have been) and I see another flashlight this one dim (it was a book light) and I yell for my son to go to sleep. He says "Huh?  I am in bed sleeping"... 

Then my youngest Rugrat appears.  She has a news flash for us.  "Mom, there are two Raccoons in the front yard and I'm afraid they are going to kill our cat" ....... I just Sigh.....not a normal Sigh.. a sigh that circulated air in the entire bedroom.  "I know.  The cat is in the bathroom.  Leave him alone and go back to bed...... please...." and I lay my head back down.  She makes her way back to her room.  The raccoons start discussing the great escape again and then silence.

The sun is now starting to rise and Hunks alarm clock goes off.  Time to start our day......

He gets up, gets his shower and we all head out front to see the Raccoon get set free.  Hunk then announces that this wasn't his best idea and that he didn't get any sleep...

I slapped him....

Ok, so I WANTED to slap him....

Well, I at least thought about it...

Instead I explained what not getting any sleep was really like..and his night didn't qualify.... 

Then I handed him his coffee, smacked him on the rear and sent him on his way.

Then I jumped up and down on the cage and threw it in the dumpster....

Ok, well I wanted to.

Did I mention I'm tired today?

How did you all sleep last night?