Works For Me Wednesday

The other night as we were driving home from out of town friends, our youngest complained that her belly didn’t feel good.  A few minutes later I heard a cough and knew instantly what it meant. 

We pulled over and began clean up.  For once I was thankful for our less than clean minivan as it provided numerous things for us to use as barf bags and clean up rags for the remaining hour drive home. 

Once home, we got her clothes in the wash and got the kiddos ready for bed. 

Scott and I began preparations with militaristic regime and efficiency.   We instantly had the kids get all of their beloved stuffed animals and blankets off of their beds.  Each kid was allowed to sleep with one blanket and their washable lovey.  I wanted to limit the amount of laundry that would need done if the inevitable occurred. We convinced my son not to sleep on the top bunk.  We gave each kid a bowl “just in case” and we braced ourselves for a long night ahead. 

My poor little girl was sick most of the night.  She went from every 10 minutes to every 30.  Finally at around 4:30 her misery seemed to end and I was able to go back to sleep for a few more hours, while Scott got ready to go to the airport for a day long business trip. 

Once the kids were awake, I took things slowly.  I let my daughter drink water, but only sips in 10 minute increments.  I’ve learned the hard way that if you let them gulp down too much water on an empty stomach, they only throw it all up again. 

I set a timer and each time it went off she was allowed to take another sip.  After an hour or two of this, with her holding it down, I let her drink more. Once it seemed that she was able to keep down the water, and after much begging for food, I let her eat some toast and dry cereal.

So far so good.

As for the others, I was pretty convinced they could fall at any time, so I did my best to prepare for it.  I scrubbed down the bathroom and washed all the linens from the night before.  I let them eat, but kept the menu bland and didn’t allow them to have dairy. 

The biggest risk with the stomach bug is dehydration.  So, I did my best to keep the kids and I hydrated incase we  were to fall next.  I made a chart with each of our names on top.  I told them we’d each get a sticker for every glass of water drunk that day. 

This worked perfectly for my competitively driven children.  All it took was seeing their sibling get a sticker to induce the other child to quickly drink his or her glass.  By day’s end my son had drank 6 glasses of water and my daughter had drank 5. 

This worked so well, I am thinking of having a water chart up every day to help remind us to stay hydrated! 

It’s been over 48 hrs since my daughter first showed signs of being sick.  As I type this, Scott is working to put the car seat back together after we took it apart to wash the straps and liners.  (What a royal pain those car seats are)!

Much to my great surprise, no one else has showed any signs of being sick.  I am thinking if we wake tomorrow with an event free night, then we are in the clear. 

I don’t think any of our preparations prevented the rest of us from getting sick.  Though we did wash our hangs after every time we touched her and kept the sanitizer close at hand.  I was also very careful to keep my hands away from my face.

I do, think however, think that if we had gotten sick, our preparations would have proved useful.  Being prepared worked for me this week.

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This year, I was looking for something simple and inexpensive that the kids could work together with me to make for their teachers.   Too much to ask?  I hoped not, but nothing was coming to me. 

And then I remembered this brittle that someone had brought to MOPS a few years ago.  It uses saltine crackers.  And you can pick up a box of Saltines at Aldi’s for 89 cents… which is perfect since I have to make gifts for SS and Bible Study teachers (times 3) plus neighbors and the tutorial teacher and “don’t forget my gymnastic teacher Mom!”

This recipe is delicious, kid friendly, and cheap inexpensive!

First, line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with aluminum foil.

Then, have the kids lay the saltines out on the sheet.

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Melt one cup of butter, 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla on the stove and let it boil for 5 min. 

Next, you pour this mixture over top of the crackers. Make sure you smooth it out so it covers all of the crackers.

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Place in 350 degree oven until crackers rise and bubble. (approx 5 minutes)

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Then pour a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips on top of the mixture. IMG_3935

Once the chips start to melt, smooth them over the top.IMG_3938

Then you can add chopped nuts on top.  I decided to add Christmas sprinkles instead.

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Refrigerate for one hour.

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(Yes, I included a picture of the inside of my fridge.  Lovely, huh?)

Then, you simply break it into little chunks and pieces like brittle.

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I do caution you to check the bottom as you pull them up b/c I found sometimes the aluminum foil stuck to the bottom.  

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We stuck them in these cute little bags I picked up at Target…$2.99 for 12!  This recipe made enough to fill 4 of these little bags and save a few little ones for us to taste test.

Saltine Brittle:

Ingredients:

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  • Saltine crackers
  • 12 oz chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • sprinkles or nuts

Heat butter and sugar to boiling. Boil 5 minutes. Line 8 x 11 inch jelly roll pan with foil. Place crackers in a single layer on the pan. Pour butter mixture over crackers. Place in 350 degree oven until crackers rise and bubble. Top with chocolate chips. Spread after chips have melted. Sprinkle with nuts. Refrigerate 1 hour. Break into pieces to serve.

This recipe totally worked for me because it provided a nice gift for my kids teachers that was inexpensive, easy to make in bulk, and most importantly, the kids could make it with me.

I do hope that you will stop by my dear friend Sarah’s blog today.  She’s hosting a Christmas Cookie Exchange.  I’ve always wanted to go to or host a real cookie exchange and have yet to do so.  So, I was so excited when Sarah hosted her Christmas Cookie Exchange today.  You’ll def want to stop by and pick up some new recipes to try for your family and friends this Christmas season. 

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Last week we took the kids to the local zoo.  We have tried to go once a year for the past several years.  We go in part b/c we want to give the kids a chance to see the exotic animals up close.  It’s so fun to watch their reactions.  But, I’ll be honest, we also go b/c I love to see the animals up close!  It is amazing and awe inspiring and I don’t think I could ever tire of it!  (And I am not even an animal person). 

Three preschool kids at the zoo in Maryland in the heat of summer.  Why, you might ask?  Well, that I’ve already answered that, it’s fun.  How?  We have a strategy that has worked really well for for us.  We don’t attempt to see it all.  We don’t make it a day long affair.  We pick the few select animals we want to see, we take our time and enjoy them, and we leave happy.  I don’t try to “get my money’s worth” and see every single animal in the zoo.  I feel I get more than my money’s worth by enjoying the select ones we do see.  One year I’d like to get a zoo membership and try to go back often and gradually see them all.  The past two years we’ve been pretty fascinated by the same select few. 

The polar bears.

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The giraffe

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The elephant

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And the leopard. 

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This year, we had a few exciting moments as we got to feed the giraffe, watch the elephants drink water from their trunk, and watch and listen to the leopard pace and growl.  Because we saw only a few we spent a good deal of time observing them.  We saw more than just these 4 animals, but these were by far the highlight for the circus crew. 

Follow the links for more fun with pictures (some more wordy and some less).  And for more helpful tips, visit here

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I seriously wonder what moms did before the internet.  Where did you go when you were looking for that cookie recipe you can’t find in your recipe box, or to check for tips on how to bring your child’s fever down, or to seek help tips for crayon removal?

A few weeks ago when I discovered this

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after my daughter’s naptime, I left a face book status that I was wondering how to get marker off of a baby doll face and within the hour I had 15 helpful tips.

But, it turned out this lovely mess was crayon and not marker.  (when I asked her why she wrote on her doll with crayon her response was, “Because the crayon was there.”  Niiiice!)

Have no fear, google is here!

Turns out you can get crayon off of plastic by using baby oil.

Check out the results.

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A few weeks later I found this little note on the wall when I was preparing the guest room for company.  I would have assumed it was my daughter again, because I KNOW my son knows better than to write on the wall. 

Thankfully, he preserved his sister from being falsely accused by leaving his name in our baseboard next to this message.  I thought it looked like a cry for help.  As in “(insert son’s name here) hello please help”

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However, during my great inquisition I learned that he actually wrote his name (not featured here) followed by bed.

Clearly, we need to work on both obedience and spelling here at the circus.

So, a quick note in face book and I learned that Mr. Clean Magic Eraser does the trick for crayon on wall.  And indeed it did!

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Google and Face book work for me when looking for some handy hints for the creations my children leave for me.  Also, Magic Eraser and Baby Oil are new staples here at the circus.

For more helpful tips, visit THAT family for Works for Me Wednesday.

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Home made chocolate chip cookies are my favorite!  I am partial to the recipe my mom got years ago. 

Perhaps you’ve seen the recipe as well.  The story goes someone asked for Mrs. Fields cookie recipe and was told it cost two fifty.  Upon receiving the recipe, she learned it cost two hundred and fifty dollars rather than two dollars and fifty cents.  Outraged, she went on to share this recipe with the world to get back at them for charging so much. 

I gotta confess until a month ago, I believed this little story.  Thought I was going around with Mrs Fields very own cookie recipe.  I’d see her store at the mall and think, “Why bother paying for the cookies when I could go home and make the exact same ones and even get to eat the dough?” 

Yes, I am that gullible.

(I was the girl in high school who believed the line that gullible wasn’t in the dictionary too).

Last month I was craving me some cookies and couldn’t find my “secret” recipe anywhere.  I thought I’d check online since you can pretty much find any recipe you want online.  And that is when I read this nice little anecdote about how that was an urban legend, documented on snopes.com. 

What a disappointment!

Though I did track down my most favorite recipe and in the process gleaned three tips for making your cookies taste even better. 

I tried them and the results were amazing. 

These cookies were already a favorite staple here at the circus and yet when I made this batch, my husband noticed right away and asked what I did differently. 

  • The first trick is to melt your butter before creaming it together to make your cookie dough.  It changes the consistency of the cookie and gives you a much softer, chewier cookie.
  • The second trick mentioned was to double the amount of vanilla called for in the recipe.  I did this as well, and I noticed a difference in taste.  It seemed to enhance the flavor if you will.
  • The third trick was to add a tablespoon of milk to the dough at the last step when you are stirring it all together.  Again this is to make a softer, chewier cookie. 

I would assume you could adapt these tips to your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, or you can try the not so secret recipe I’ve been enjoying for years! 

These tips worked for me.  Visit Rocks in My Dryer for more great tips.

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I recently discovered a way to entertain and delight my children, while also getting some help in the kitchen. 

I let them wash dishes in the sink by hand. 

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I don’t give them anything fragile.   But at almost 3 and almost 5, they are quite capable of scrubbing pots and pans or large bowls…things I can’t squeeze into the dishwasher. 

They beg me for the opportunity and it keeps them content for up an hour. I figure I gotta take advantage of this while I can…having my kids beg for the chance to do the dishes is not something I anticipate lasting forever.  

I’ve learned a few tricks to keep this successful.

  • One child is on dish duty at a time.  (2 preschoolers at the sink is recipe for trouble). 
  • Be prepared to go through more than your usual amount of soap.  Seems the kids think you need a LOT of soap to clean those pots.
  • I limit them to two or three dishes.  I don’t want them to be overwhelmed or to get bored…bored kids armed with the spray house is another hazard.
  • Remove any important papers at least 3 feet away from the sink…splashing is par for the course.
  • Sometimes you gotta spot check them b/c even though they scrub that pot for 30 minutes, they can still miss quite a few spots.  (I typically sit them on the counter to dry and to a quick touch up later when they aren’t around)  They are still getting most of the hard work out of the way with all that soaking. 

IMG_2912 My son told me last week, “Mom, you never have to do dishes again.”  …If I could just get that in writing.

Check out Rocks in My Dryer for more helpful hints.

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