Adventures in feeding, parenting and generally managing a household of five boys

Adventures in feeding, parenting and generally managing a household of five boys

Friday, November 4, 2011

Those Things Boys Do

I grew up with three brothers, so I felt fairly prepared for being the matriarch in a family of all boys.

My brothers (often with my sister and I thrown in) fought.  They hit each other, and sometimes with objects, such as golf clubs and baseball bats.  They wrecked on bikes and in cars.  There was blood, stitches and casts.  And that was just the beginning.

In my little family now, we have experienced most of that.  I have become very adept at assessing the need for emergency medical attention.  I can butterfly almost any cut, as long as I'm not too concerned with cosmetic appearance.  We have had baseball bats, fence posts, dumbells and golf clubs all used as projectiles against heads.  There has been a lot of blood, quite a few stitches and several casts.  But this one threw me for a loop . . .

Patrick had been invited to a lake house for the day by some friends in September.  They swam and played and had a good time.  Several days after that trip, he came to me with his finger swollen three times its normal size and confessed that he was hit in the finger by a BB.  I drained the finger of a good amount of bloody pus multiple times over the next week.  The finger got a lot better, but yet this bump persisted.

Now, of course, one asks oneself many questions:  Why did you have a BB gun?  Why were you shooting the gun?  Why were they shooting the gun AT you?  What if it was your face, your eye, your ear?  Was there a cliff nearby and were your friends jumping off that too?!

Long story short, despite multiple assurances that the BB did not break the skin and actually go in, we found out today (yes, almost three months later) that that was exactly the case when we went to have this finger lesion taken care of by a good friend.

I'm almost afraid to ask, "What next?"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Date Night

A girl's dream come true . . . .

Date night/dinner with five guys . . .

(Or, momma's not cooking cuz dad's out of town!)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Patrick!!

Look at all of those candles!

Hard to believe baby Patrick is 17 years old . . . where did the time go?

Dinner:  Chicken wings at Quaker Steak and Lube followed by a Dairy Queen ice cream cake.  Yum and soooo easy for me!  Oh, and the family ate 75 (yes, 75!) wings with NO left-overs.  Scary!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Review: Cheerful Money

I received this book in a holiday book exchange for my book club. I started to read this book three times, actually finishing it on the third attempt. I hate to leave books unfinished, and yet, I was very tempted to, even with this third and final try. 

This is essentially an upper class family memoir. Lots of name dropping, vacations, second homes, marriages and money. Also, a great deal of dysfunction. 

Just as with any family, there are some very funny stories, drama and scandals. It was the promise of that which kept me turning the pages. Unfortunately, the author drowns a great deal of it in pretentious language, requiring constant referral to a dictionary (my Nook would have been helpful for this). 

I would also have preferred a more linear history than the tack chosen by the author, but that is my personal choice. 

All-in-all, not a book that I would recommend, unless you knew the author or his family. 

's review 
Oct 24, 11  ·  edit

2 of 5 stars
Read from October 18 to 24, 2011

Liam's Birthday

A little late but . . .

Liam turned 9 last month.  He chose buffalo chicken wings at BW3 for dinner with a Graeters Buckeye Blitz ice cream cake for dessert.  Yum!

Happy Ninth Birthday Liam!

Hard to believe that I quit working nine years ago with the birth of Liam.  What a crazy nine years it has been!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


The older boys have been busy with various Homecomings . . . 




Getting so old!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Father's Day!!

Happy Father's Day to the two dad's in my life . . .

My father; aka Papa, Daddy, Kikki, Kip, Kippy . . .

And the father of my children; aka Mark, Dad, Daddy, Marky and Marky-Mark . . .

Both great examples to the five future fathers we are raising!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Awards Ceremony

Prior to graduation, Conor had his eighth grade awards ceremony.  Just a few pictures from that day . . .

Like father,  like son
Award number one:

The big one . . . .

Way to go Conor!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Conor graduated from eighth grade a couple of weekends ago.  He promptly started up with conditioning for his high school soccer team the next day.  No rest for the weary!  He is now embroiled in his pre-latin readiness class.  Poor baby is up and out of the house around 6:35 am most days.  I love tired children!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Book Review: Here, Home, Hope

Here, Home, Hope is a good, mindless beach read.  I hate to label it chick lit, but probably more "beach book"; one that gets left behind at the rental property.

I really wanted to like this book.  The setting is close to my home town.  I loved identifying with popular places, restaurants and stores. And for that reason, I found it fun.

Unfortunately, the book is best characterized as being trite.  I really didn't like and couldn't identify or sympathize with any of the characters.  I felt that the author attempted to hit on a lot of controversial topics (eating disorders, rape, underage drinking, midlife crisis, infidelity, divorce, suburban pettiness, to name a few) without really delving into any one of them deeply enough.  Everything was dealt with in a very superficial fashion.  Ultimately, all ends well and is wrapped up with a bow at the end.  All of it.  Ugh!

The author is a very accomplished person in her own right.  It appears as if "write a novel" was on her bucket list.  Done.

I received this novel as a PDF version of an advanced readers copy through my involvement with One2One Network.  I received no compensation for this review and all opinions expressed are completely my own.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Manuel Labor

(Yes, I know that manual is spelled incorrectly . . . say it out loud!)

Patrick joined the work force today.  He is working construction with a friend of ours who had done our addition several years ago, also named Patrick.  He guaranteed Patrick that he would be the home-run king by the end of the summer, after he gets through with him.  Patrick said that it was the toughest thing he had ever done . . . worse than any workout for football!

It will make mowing our lawn seem like a piece of cake!!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

All I Wanted . . . .

Growing up, we would often go to Cleveland to visit my grandparents for Easter.  One of the highlights of that Easter trip would be the "lamb cake" we would have from the now non-existent Hough Bakery.  Not only was the cake cute but, being a Hough cake, it would be good.  And, being one of many grandchildren, we would fight over who got the ears, the nose or the tail.  Ahhh, the memories!

Having moved to Columbus, I was actually able to find a lamb cake several years ago.  But, no more.  I was relegated to having this as a substitute for my lamb cake . . .

Imagine my horror!  Not only do we have a ton of strangely colored frosting, we also have green coconut, foil-covered chocolate eggs, candy sprinkles along the sides and a plastic "Happy Easter" sign.  Honestly, this was the lesser of the evils available at Kroger, and the one chosen by Aidan, who had accompanied me on this trip.

The only saving grace was the fact that it was a single layer cake, and thus was gone quickly.

I may have to research making a lamb cake for next year!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

And . . .

We celebrated Mark's birthday last month as well.

He looks good for 30!!

All of my men . . . 

Friday, May 27, 2011

And some more . . .

Patrick was inducted into his school's National Honor Society last month!  Thankfully, both Mark and I had the evening free, so we were able to attend.

Patrick humored me by allowing me to take a picture (he was not feeling well, poor baby!).  Mark humored us all by making it appear that he awarded Patrick his certificate (not).

Congrats Patrick!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Continuing Updates. . .

Liam had his First Communion several weekends ago.

Another very busy and crazy day.

Conor, with Mark as coach, had a baseball game scheduled for during First Communion.  Ultimately, the skies opened up and the game was cancelled, with Mark dealing with the myriad of texts and phone calls during the ceremony.  Patrick had his Spring Sports Awards Banquet (hence his dress) during First Communion as well, but was able to attend the majority of the service.  Aidan was asked to usher, so he was dressed up also!

Liam chose to celebrate afterwards with dinner at Quaker Steak and Lube.  He, along with his brothers, loves buffalo chicken wings!

Chicken wing face!!

Welcome Liam!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Updates . . .

Conor was confirmed last weekend.

We had a craaazzzyyy day.  Three baseball games, two soccer games and a graduation party.  All of this occurred before 3:30 when Conor had to be at Church.  But he got his shower in and looked very handsome.

Patrick stood in for Conor's sponsor, Uncle Chris.  

We had dinner at the Japanese Steak House afterwards.  The boys loved the show put on by the chef!  

Unfortunately, they did not heed my warnings and ate too many cookies at the post-Confirmation reception.  We came home with six boxes of left-overs!  Seriously, you need to fast for three days before going to Japanese Steak House!

Congrats Conor!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Finally . . .

I'm back?  (yes!, but no)
Baseball is over? (no, sigh . . . )
School is out?  (thankfully, no!)
Rowan knows his alphabet? (sadly, no)

Rowan has lost his first tooth!!  At the ripe old age of 6 1/2!!

A little traumatized by the tooth pulling!

I will be playing catch-up for the next week or so.  We've had lots of "events"!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Angelic Rowan?!

Rowan had the opportunity to be a junior altar server during school Mass last week.

He was so excited all week leading up to the actual Mass.  Interestingly, my not-a-shy-bone-in-his-body child became extremely self-conscious when all eyes were on him on the altar.  

Funny enough, the shyness dissipated after Mass when it was time for pictures . . .

It sure didn't last long!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What I Read - March

March was a slow month for me in the reading department.  It was incredibly busy in all other aspects, which, unfortunately, did not bode well for my literary pursuits.  But, what I did read was very, very good!

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese is an incredibly interesting story about conjoined twins born in Ethiopia to a nine-fingered surgeon and a nun working at a mission hospital.  (That right there should be enough to pique your interests!)  The book revolves around the twins' lives within the backdrop of the beautiful Ethiopian countryside and intense political upheaval.

Not having a lot of context as far as Ethiopia is concerned, I found it enlightening to read about that country, its people and its politics.  There is a lot of medicine and medical references in the novel, especially of the ob/gyn variety, which I, of course, found to be fun.

This book did take a little bit to get into though; but definitely got better once the story became more linear.  Towards the end I had a hard time putting it down.  It is not for the faint of heart, topping out at 670 pages (part of the reason it required the whole month of March for me to read!).

Favorite quote:  "The world turns on our every action, and our every omission, whether we know it or not." 

My score:  4.5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What's for Dinner - Week of 3/28/11

I was plagued with one of those Mondays without school.  It totally throws off my week!  That, combined with the two birthdays, two sets of class birthday treats, and two extra boys, just about did me in!  Actually, the extra boys were easy; but boy, oh boy, can seven boys put away food!

In the process of doing the two sets of birthday treats I tried two new things:  edible cake tattoos and cake balls.  The cake tattoos are by Chef Duff of Charm City Cakes.  I was able to find them at Walmart.  They come in lots of cool designs and include a template to cut them into cookie size.  I was able to use them to decorate the cookies for Conor's class treat, and then use the cake topper tattoo to decorate the top of his cake.  Success!

I then convinced Aidan to try cake balls for his class treat instead of cupcakes.  It does take a couple of days for the various steps, but ultimately is an easy baked treat to make.  Here is a great step by step tutorial on how to make them:  cake balls.  Because of his large class size I made two cakes worth which left a lot of extras for here at home.  He chose red velvet cake dipped in vanilla candy coating with sprinkles.  Yummy!

Now for the "real food" . . .

Monday:  Homemade Italian Meatballs and Spaghetti, salad, garlic bread
                  I used a recipe for the meatballs that Johnsville Italian Sausage sent me, along with several free coupons for the sausage.  Very good!

Tuesday:  Quiche Lorraine, fruit salad
                  I am still using up items from the freezer.  I had two ready-made pie crusts that I want to get rid of . . . so quiche it is!

Wednesday:  Creamy Chicken Pot Pie, mozzarella sticks, raw veggies and dip
                  I also have a box of rolled pie crust in the freezer and I want to try those new Philadelphia Cooking Cremes, so I will have a go at chicken pot pie.  My friend, Jeni, recently had a House Party that featured this new product.  We all received recipe booklets using the cooking cremes and the pot pie recipe is from there.  The cheese sticks are from the freezer as well.

Thursday:  Leftovers, cheesy potatoes
                  Refrigerator clean-out day!  The potatoes are from the freezer.

Friday:  Creamy Artichoke Pasta, salad, bread
                   Another recipe utilizing the Philadelphia Cooking Cremes . . . I sure hope we like them!  It sounded like a good meatless meal for this week.  The bread is coming from the freezer.

Saturday:  Polenta-tomatillo casserole, carrots
                   This recipe is from The Six O'Clock Scramble.   I have a block of homemade polenta in the freezer that I will use for this recipe.  I will add a pound of ground beef to give it a little extra protein.

 Sunday:  Out to dinner
                   I have a Groupon that I want to use.  This will score major points with the children as well.  Gyros!

Enjoy the rest of your week and all those dinners (especially if they are coming from the freezer, like mine!).

I am participating in Menu Plan Monday over at!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What's for Dinner - Week of 3/21/11

The craziness has begun . . . we are officially in baseball season!  Patrick is playing for his high school JV team.  Conor is on his school team as well as a travel team.  And Aidan is officially giving it a go this year on his school team.  Mark is only coaching two of those teams this year!  But not to forget that both Liam and Rowan are playing soccer this spring, which also starts this week.  Crazy!

Between the scads of laundry from all of the practices and games, the driving around to all of the aforementioned practices and games, and then attending the games; dinners are next to impossible to pull off much less achieve a quorum for.  Food is thrown at the boys as they are walking out or in the door.  My goal for the next couple of months is to try to cut down on, as much as possible, the fallback of fast food.  Difficult as it may seem, it simply requires a different level of planning.  Food that can last on the stove top or in the oven, or food that can be cooked quickly and in shifts is needed.  We will see!

I am still in the midst of cleaning out the freezer of food.  It never fails . . . those items that I didn't label, because I was sure I wouldn't forget what it was, has been forgotten.  Ugh!  I hate when that happens!  Mystery meals are never a winner and certainly hard to plan for.  I am making good headway in the freezer though.

For the meals . . .

Monday:  General Tso's Chicken, brown rice, edamame
                  I have some popcorn chicken in the freezer.  The General Tso's was a big hit a couple of weeks ago, so I am giving it another go with a mix I picked up at the store.

Tuesday:  Potato Leek Soup, salad, biscuits
                  I have the soup from the freezer along with the biscuits.  I also have some odds and ends to round out the meal for the non-soup eaters (a pot pie here, a individual pizza there).

Wednesday:  Turkey Stuffing Roll-ups, salad
                  I found a container of left-over stuffing and some turkey gravy in the freezer that I will combine with store-bought turkey slices.  This will hold well for the crazy night of practices and running.

Thursday:  Pork Tenderloin, cheesy potatoes, green beans
                  Everything from the freezer for this meal!  The cheesy potatoes were one of the unlabeled containers.  Thankfully the cornflakes on top gave it away!

Friday:  Fish Fry at Church
                  Love those Lenten fish frys!

Saturday:  Conor's Birthday Dinner, cake
                  As yet undecided.  Most likely of the Mexican variety.

Sunday:  Homemade Italian Meatballs and Spaghetti, salad, bread
                  I have Johnsville Italian sausage to review and it is in the freezer (so it counts!).  Bread is from the freezer as well.

I am really surprising myself with how much I have been able to make just centered around things I already have in my freezer.  I am going to need to be a little more creative next week as I wind this challenge down.

Enjoy your week!

I am participating in Menu Plan Monday over at!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Winners!

The winners of the Purex Complete Crystals Softener, as chosen by Random Integer Generator are:

#3:  Amanda "I use Gain or Snuggle dryer sheets that I got free with coupons."
#8:   Jane "I use Target brand dryer sheets."
#9:   mich520 "I use snuggle liquid and dryer sheets."

Congratulations to all of the winners!  I will be contacting you by email for further information to mail your free coupon to you.

Stay tuned for another review this week!!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2011-03-20 21:07:57 UTC

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What's for Dinner - Week of 3/14/11

Well, daylight savings time continues to kick this family in the behind!!  I'm not kidding when I say that it will take us a full week to recover.  Who ever came up with this idea?!

Both of my older boys had to be physically removed from their beds 10 minutes before they were to leave for school today.  Of course, they will have to go to bed earlier tonight.  We will see how that goes.

I am in full swing of trying to clean out my freezer a la "freezer challenge".  My problem isn't so much that we have full meals that need to be consumed as that there are so many bits and pieces.  A couple of pork chops here, some frozen soup there.  You know how it goes.  Ultimately, I try to challenge myself to eat something/anything out of the freezer during the course of the day.  And hopefully not replace it with something else that doesn't have a planned exit.  So, yes, I will be shopping to finish/round out those bits and pieces!

Interestingly, with all of the left-overs we had last week, I tried something new that the boys loved.  If you have children that watch the show iCarly, you may have heard them talk about "spaghetti tacos".  Well, we had some spaghetti left over, so I decided to surprise the boys and make them some of those infamous spaghetti tacos!  Essentially you put sauced spaghetti noodles into hard taco shells and cover with cheese.  Easy peasy and a huge crowd pleaser.  My only hint would be to get the wide "stand and stuff" shells to make putting the spaghetti in a little easier.

For the dinners:

Monday:  Beef and Bean Chimichangas, corn, nachos
                  I had the chimichangas in the freezer, but will need to supplement.  Corn from the freezer.  Enchilada sauce in the pantry.  A good start!

Tuesday:  One Pot Italian Rice and Beans, salad
                  This is actually a meal that I had planned for and had all the ingredients.  It is supposed to be meatless, but I will add a pound of ground beef (from the freezer) to make it a bit hardier for the lads.

Wednesday:  Frozen pizza, salad
                   Our Wednesdays have been crazy with our evening group run, so this will fit nicely.  I will be glad to get rid of the bulky frozen pizzas.

O'Thursday:  Guinness-Braised Corned Beef, green beans, Irish soda bread
                   The corned beef and green beans are from the freezer.  I have a great crockpot recipe for the corned beef.  I will spare the children the cabbage and do green beans instead this year!
Friday:  Caesar Spaghetti, Texas toast
                   We do meatless on Fridays during Lent, so this will fit nicely.  It is a Rachael Ray recipe from her new cookbook Look and Cook.  Other than the Texas toast, nothing is from the freezer.  I made an exception to try this recipe.

Saturday:  Dinner out

Sunday:  Chicken with Sweet Corn and Potato Saute
                This is another Rachael Ray recipe, this time from her Express Lane Meals cookbook.  The corn and chicken will come from the freezer.

Enjoy your week and good luck cleaning out your freezer and pantry!  Don't forget to enter my giveaway for a free bottle of Purex Complete Crystals Softener!

I am participating in Menu Plan Monday over at!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Daylight Savings Time Doldrums

I hate daylight savings time! 

There, I said it!  And hate is a very strong word.  I try to rarely use it, but in this case it fits.

I need just about every hour in the day that there is.  So to lose an hour is a huge deal to me.  Especially since I lose it on the sleep end of my day.  And I really need my sleep!  So do my children.  To make matters worse with daylight savings; no one is tired at night.  But everyone is exhausted in the morning.  It is just not fair!

I love the fact that the evenings are lighter later.  I love when Mark gets home and there is still some daylight left.  I love eating dinner when it is not pitch black outside.  And the dark mornings I can even handle, for I know it won't be much longer until they are bright too.

But the week it takes for us to recover that lost hour is enough to push me over the edge. 

Thank goodness for caffeine!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Review and a Giveaway!

I am part of the "Purex Insiders" team of bloggers who have the privilege of getting the scoop on new Purex products.  I love the fact that I get to try new products and give my personal opinions on them.  And I get to share them with you!

Purex recently sent me a sample of their latest product Purex Complete Crystals Softeners as well as a coupon for a full sized bottle.  This is a revolutionary new product unlike anything we have seen on the market to date.  It is not a dryer sheet or a liquid softener . . . it is a crystal! The best part of all is that it is 92% natural and not oil-based like other liquid fabric softeners. 

So what does that mean to you?!

Well . . . I have to admit that, surprisingly, it should mean a lot!  I always knew that by using a fabric softener, whether in sheet or liquid form, that I was decreasing my towels' absorbency.  This is due to the oily residue that is left behind on the fabric.  But yet, I still continued to use softeners due to the amount of static electricity in my house.  Now, with Purex Complete Crystals Softeners, I no longer have to worry that I am decreasing the effectiveness of my towels because of my softener!

I did not know though, that by using softeners, that I was decreasing the flame-retardant effectiveness of my children's sleepwear!  Scary!  Again, this is due to the oily residue that is left behind by traditional softeners.

The one point that really hit home with me was this:  that yucky oily residue reduces the effectiveness of wicking fabrics and prevents them from drawing sweat away from your body during a work-out!  This fact is huge in this family of five active sports-playing boys.  And it really hit home with me personally, with all of the wicking sportswear that I wear while running and training for my half marathon.  I need that fabric to work!

Now, all of the above is fine and good, but only as long as the product works and is easy to use. 

I am happy to let you know that I have been personally using Purex Complete Crystals Softeners for the past two weeks and have been very happy with it on both counts.  I am able to use it in my HE machine.  You just measure the amount and throw it in on top of your clothes in the drum of your washing machine.  I don't have to remember to put anything in the dryer.  I love the scent - I tried the "fresh spring waters" variety.  And I don't have any static electricity with my clothes, sheets or towels!  The "green" in me is also happy that I am not littering the earth with any more of those dryer sheets!  (The boys are happy that those same sheets aren't stuck in their pants legs or on the backs of their shirts!)

I was able to find Purex Complete Crystals Softener at my Giant Eagle for $4.99.  I have also seen them at Kroger.  Purex regularly has coupons available in the Sunday paper, including today's edition!  Additionally, I find that Purex products tend to be less expensive than a lot of the other name brand softeners on the market and often go on sale.

In case my opinion isn't enough, Purex kindly sent me three coupons for a free full-sized bottle of Purex Complete Crystals Softener to give away! 

To enter, leave a comment telling me what, if any, kind of fabric softener you use.  Three winners will be chosen on Sunday, March 20th at 12 noon (EST). 

Good luck!

Disclaimer:  All opinions are my own.  Purex sent me a sample sized product and a coupon for a free full sized product to review.  I was not otherwise compensated for my work.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Congrats Liam!

Liam made his First Reconciliation today!



After - doesn't he look holier?!

All in preparation for First Holy Communion!  We are so proud of him!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Extreme Couponing

Did you watch the show on TLC several months ago called "Extreme Couponing"?

Conor watched the show with me and was quite impressed.  The funny thing;  he thought that I ought to take up extreme couponing like the people they profiled.  Interestingly, when I asked him if he would help me, he promptly and loudly exclaimed "No!".  Nevertheless, he wanted to benefit from having a room full of snack foods and the like. 

I, however, felt that the show was a little "extreme".  Honestly, 1000 boxes of Total cereal?

Check out what I scored on Thursday evening though:

The amazing thing was that I was actually paid to walk out of the store with this! 


I paid $3.95 for 5 cups of cereal and received $8.00 in register rewards (coupons to use at Walgreens).  I did this transaction twice for a total of 10 cereal cups and walked out with the cereal and $16.00 to use at Walgreens another day.

The best part of all . . . my children don't even like Fruity Pebbles.  So, this cereal will be donated to my local food pantry.  I got paid to donate food!

Love it!

Check out for more great deals like this.  Just don't be surprised if my Walgreens is "cleaned out"!