Stuffed Cheesy Enchilada Shells

 Sooo, what do you think of the 4 little Ferguson’s blog NEW look?

  I am loving how fresh and clean it looks.  🙂  Plus, I never did understand why my bright red background turned pink, as well as the pink outline on some of the photos.  NO thanks!

  I am proud to tell you, I figured out how to do it all by my self, AND created my own header last night!!!! {I had to have a friend make the old header because I had NO CLUE what I was doing 2 years ago, still don’t on some things!!!!}  

  Now, I may or may not have had to stay up until midnight to get all the kinks worked out, but whatev.  

Details, people, minor details.

{yawn}

  So in today’s recipe, jumbo shells say good-bye to marinara sauce, because tonight we go SOUTH of the border! Ole’!

  My favorite sisters at Crumbs and Chaos shared this recipe by a guest blogger, and I printed it off immediately to try.  They never disappoint me with their creative dishes!

Stuffed Cheesy Enchilada Shells

from Crumbs and Chaos

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Ingredients

  • 16 ounces, weight Box Of Jumbo Shells
  • 20 ounces, fluid Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
  • 4 ounces, weight Canned Chopped Green Chilies
  • 16 ounces, weight Refried Beans
  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 16 ounces, weight Shredded Mexican Cheese
  • 1 dash Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt, Pepper And Garlic To Taste
  • Frank’s Hot Sauce (Optional, But OH SO Good!)

Pre-heat oven to 375°.
Brown the ground beef and drain. Add half your can of the enchilada sauce and the can of green chiles, red pepper flakes, and garlic, pepper & salt to taste.
While the ground beef is browning, cook the noodles until al dente. Carefully drain the noodles and rinse in cool water.
Transfer your ground beef mixture to a bowl. Add a handful of the shredded cheese and mix well.
Warm up the refried beans, and start stuffing your shells!
Set up an assembly line of sorts. Pour just enough of your remaining enchilada sauce to cover the bottom of your 9×13 baking dish. Set aside, you’ll use the rest of that can later.
Use a small spoon to fill your shells. Smear a little bit of refried beans inside each shell, and then finish off with the meat mixture, dividing it up evenly between shells. Place them in your baking dish as you go.
After you have filled all of your shells, top with remaining green chile enchilada sauce and a generous amount of cheese. Shake dots of Franks® Hot Sauce all over the top. Bake for 30 minutes.

Serve over your favorite Spanish rice. 

Check out my easy Baked Brown Spanish Rice recipe, here!

~T

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Turkey & Wild Rice Soup

Have you found ways to use up your Thanksgiving Turkey yet?  I had about 2 cups in my fridge, so I decided to make some Turkey & Wild Rice Soup tonight.  Avery proclaimed it to be the BEST SOUP EVAH.    {She has a cute accent!}  We all thought it was really flavorful and good. The original recipe for this soup, can be found in the December/January 2013 Taste of Home Magazine, page 85. 

Turkey & Wild Rice Soup

{click title for easy printable}

Turkey and Wild Rice soup with txt

Ingredients

  • ¼ cups Butter
  • 1-½ cup Finely Chopped Carrots
  • 2 stalks Celery Finely Chopped
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Chopped
  • ½ cups Flour
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • 3 cups Cooked Wild Rice {1 Box Uncle Bens Is Perfect}
  • 2 cups Half-and-half
  • 2 cups Cubed Turkey
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Parsley
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste

Cook Wild Rice according to package directions. In a large pot on the stove, melt butter, then add carrots, celery, and onion. Cook until tender, then stir in flour. Whisk in broth, and bring to a boil. Stir until nice and thick, about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and reduce heat, simmering until serving time to allow flavors to meld.

~T

Not Your Lunch Lady’s Goulash

Dale grew up eating Goulash. I did NOT.

I have never, EVER made it and never, ever wanted to.

This is most likely due to the fact, that my last memory of Goulash comes from Elementary School Lunches, where I dubbed it “Galoshes,” (the boot) because I thought it was gross and stinky.

Boy, has my opinion changed!

This recipe caught my eye at Weekend Potluck when Jamie from Love Bakes Good Cakes shared it at our linky party.  I am SO glad I printed it, because it is TOTALLY making the fall and winter food rotation at our house!

YUMMO!

This is…..

NOT Your Lunch Lady’s Goulash

{click title to print}

Adapted from Love Bakes Good Cakes recipe

Not Your Lunch Lady's Goulash txt 2

2 lb. ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced

6-8 cloves of garlic, pressed

3 cups water

1 can (29 oz.) tomato sauce

1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp. smoky paprika

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2½ cups uncooked elbow macaroni {I might try 3 next time, I had extra liquid and I like noodles!}

Generous amounts of garlic powder, salt and pepper.

In an 8 qt. pot, cook and crumble beef over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Add the onion, green pepper and mushrooms. Cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, water, tomato sauce, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, paprika, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the elbow macaroni and stir well, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the noodles are done. Allow to sit covered for 5-10 minutes and mix well before serving.  Season to taste with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Serve with whole wheat bread and butter.

We really seasoned this up, and it was fantastic!

Dig in!

~T

Not Your Lunch Lady's Goulash 2

Fall Break Fun

I loooove when all my babies are home from school!   Between all the Turkey Day fun, multiple photo sessions and a family friend’s wedding, Fall Break went way too fast!!!

  So every year, the kids BEG their daddy to build them a HUGE pile of leaves and throw them into it.  It’s hysterical to watch them disappear down into the pile.  Even the cats got involved in the fun this time!  🙂

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Silly Stripes! Do you see him peeking?

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Everyone takes a turn getting tossed into the pile.

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We are blessed to have the majority of both our extended families in town, so for Holidays we tend to do lunch at one place and supper at another.

Dale’s grandparents had 10 children, each of them has like 5 kids and now that our generation has kids, its gotten even bigger.  Aunt Lucy’s table has 18 leaves and stretches from one side of the room to the other.  Then there is still a young adult and very full kids table in the kitchen.  It is one loud, busy place!  Each child has a group of cousins to run around with, so they love it.  Blog collage 5

Uncle Mike had his new Razor there this year, so it was extra COOL!

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Ty before.                                                                Ty after.

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My family gathering is much smaller, and quieter, but fun just the same.  It was such a blessing to have Grandpa home to visit from the nursing home, he misses being at home with Grandma so much.  The infamous Aunt Gena and Uncle Dan were there, a Great Uncle and Aunt from Iowa, who are like Grandparents to the kiddos, and even an Oregon cousin, who came to visit from college.  The kids loved playing Bingo with everyone!  Poor Nana, was sick and couldn’t join us.   😦

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Hope your Thanksgiving was great and spent with those you love!  I am so thankful for this blog and all of you. I am also thankful there is still half a Double Sensation Pumpkin Pie residing in my fridge for me to eat on this week….

Just sayin’!

~T

On This Black Friday…

  Tomorrow is the day we celebrate things we are thankful for, how blessed we are to have food in our cabinets, clothes on our backs, warm beds to snuggle into at the end of the day, clean fresh water at the push of a button or twist of a handle.

How sad that the day after we are thankful, we indulge in a rat race of shoving, hitting, pushing and even biting to grab more “stuff”.  How sad that employees leave family functions early, to drive to work so you can shop.  How sad that some stores are even thinking about opening on Thanksgiving Day, as yet another day to take your money!

Black Friday may mean profit for the store, bringing them “back in the black” after a tough year,  but Black Friday is DARK to me…..

A day celebrating stuff, things, materialism, greedy gimmies and more, more, MORE.

I hate the Greedy Gimmies, and I know this time of year, commercials are specifically designed to entice children to want it, need it, gotta have it! I sent out an email this year to our family saying, NO MORE TOYS.  We have enough!  They may or may not listen, but I no longer can sit in good conscience and let the STUFF continue to pile up around here.  There has to be a better way to celebrate!

Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful 3 gifts for each child in this home, will lie under the tree next month; some from garage sales, others great bargains along the way, but I am MORE thankful, that each child will have a chance to adopt a child close to their age through our church Shoe Box project again this year.  That once again we have opportunity to teach them to be blessed by GIVING, not always receiving.

I am not saying you are wrong for planning to go at 2 am Friday morning to shop your Christmas list!  Not at ALL, I am a couponer, I LOVE a good deal just like you do.  I am simply asking you to be cautious.

I am asking you to think twice before you snatch that electronic, or Barbie Dream House, or Furby, or the last item off the shelf as you see someone else approaching it.

I am asking you to DEFINE NECESSITY.

I am asking you to be His hands and feet, and give to others less fortunate than yourself.

To limit what you spend on yourselves this year.

Do NOT go in the RED to help stores get into the black.

I hear of parents that take out $2000 loans every year for Christmas.  

WHY?

What could your child possibly need worth going into debt for?

Why do families insist on buying for Aunt Jane and Uncle Bobby and all 15 cousins?
Can’t you draw names and just give something smaller, so you can all help someone other than yourselves?

  I am asking you to DEFINE NECESSITY.

To use that money to help a local charity, to adopt a family in need, to teach your children selflessness rather than selfishness this Holiday season.  To guide your children to look outside themselves and the greedy little world they are living in.

I am asking you to look into Compassion International, or to get a catalog from Samartians Purse for gift ideas that keep on giving.

Your $25 can help towards giving a milk cow to a starving family of 9.  ONE LESS GIFT for Uncle Frank and Aunt Sue and Cousin Betty, can give a village of 1000, clean drinking water for a lifetime.

We are blind, fat and greedy as a nation.  OPEN YOUR EYES to the people hurting around you…..

DEFINE NECESSITY this Black Friday and upcoming Christmas season.

It’s a big world out there, and we are to be HIS hands and feet.

Matthew 25:40  ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these….you did for me.’

~T

4 little Fergusons, 2200 miles & A Georgia Wedding: Part 2

It was wedding day when I left you yesterday, and I had 40 minutes to get ALL six of us spiffed up, dressed and ready to go!

Super Auntie Lauren to the rescue!  🙂

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She popped over from her room next door, and took one girl at a time to braid their hair, while I got the rest of us dressed. Praise the Lord for her amazing braiding skills, I was hoping for a good hour to experiment with the girls’ hair and I am just not a good braider yet. {But I did learn a basic French Braid, FINALLY!}

Here are the end results, she did this gorgeous angled braid that led into a braided bun.  BEAUTIFUL!!!! Thanks, Auntie Lauren!

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The wedding was at the Military base, so we had to go through security with a photo id check to even get in. See that picture, above collage, top middle?  It is a photo of a HUGE cemetery of all the fallen soldiers from that particular fort.  May we always remember, our freedom is never free.  God bless them.

We got to the church at 2 for pics, the wedding started at 4.  Thankfully Dale was amazing and had all the kids eat and nap while I was gone, so they were happy and ready to take photos.

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There is nothing more special to me, then seeing two lives joined as one, God’s way.  Aaron and Ashley are an amazing example of True Love Waits, and it was such a blessing to be a part of their beautiful day as they made a lifelong covenant before Christ and a church full of family and friends, to die to self, and become one flesh.

Check out the tearful groom, and his PROUD smile when he sees her! LOVE IT!

Blog Collage 25Guess who walked down the aisle without a moments pause or hint of hesitation?  Yup, Pax!

  I didn’t even have to use the fruit snacks to try to bribe him to come towards me.  He picked up his side of the sign and trucked down the aisle like he had planned it that way all along.

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While everyone else was doing the group photos, I grabbed Chad and Lauren for a quick family picture.  Aren’t they PRECIOUS?

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After that, we headed to the reception:

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Look at my sweet girls, bottom right picture below, watching the happy couple and dreaming of their own special day!

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My little dancers…..

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We danced, laughed and had so much fun, but alas, it was time to head back to the hotel to pack and prepare for a long drive home.  As I mentioned yesterday, the kids did great, and we didn’t get out the final activity until an hour from home.  Success!

It was a great trip! We will venture cross-country in our car again, SOMEDAY.

~T

4 little Fergusons, 2200 miles & a Georgia Wedding: Part 1

We recently loaded up all 4 kids in our Flex, and headed to Georgia.  Our kids are GREAT flyers, but car rides?

Never done it.

(Well, once when Avery was a baby, we drove 5 hours to spend Thanksgiving with family, but that was about the extent of it.)

THIS trip was going to be different, roughly 18 hours of driving was to commence, and the kids were going to have to sleep all night in the their car seats.

YIKES.

  We take off right after school on Wednesday, and head across the border to meet some forever friends of ours.    They were sweet enough to allow us to stop at their house that evening on our way through, to let the kids play, snack, brush teeth and get ready for bed at their house.

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Can you believe I was a nanny for these guys for many years leading right up to the birth of Destiny?

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The 2 big boys are grown and gone.  All 5 of them were in my wedding and I loved them like I thought I would love my own babies.  What a blessing to still be in touch and to pick up right where we left off, every single time!!!!!!

We were there from 8 – 10 pm before Dale said it was time to hit the road again. By 10:20 everyone was OUT!  We had a few rough patches between 12-2 am, where I spent a lot of time crawling to the back to comfort and console whomever was moaning and crying because they couldn’t roll over.  Tylan fell off his seat at LEAST 4 times, belt still on!!! Silly boy!

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The 2 big kids woke up at 4:30 am happy and rested, praise the Lord, and the 2 little kids woke up an hour later at 5:30.  Everyone was ready to use the bathroom and stretch their legs, so Dale found us a Cracker Barrel.  He slept in the car while we changed, freshened up and ate breakfast.  Man, I LOVE Cracker Barrel!  I only ordered 3 breakfast platters and we had enough to eat our fill AND call Daddy in from his nap to finish our 2 plates leftover.

The kids did wonderful, reading books, coloring, listening to Adventure in Odyssey Story Cd’s {Amazing by the way!} and as a final resort, watching a movie.  If I learned anything this car trip, it is to let each activity last as LOOOOONG as possible {usually an hour}, but have lots of options for the “next cool thing”.  I had enough activities planned in my duffle bag of fun, that I didn’t get out the magnetic dress up dolls and silly faces until the ride home, and got out the FINAL magnetic car bingo and hang man games, 1 hour from Home Sweet Home. 

  The biggest hit, besides Odyssey CD’s?  These magnetic blocks from Lakeside Collection!  They don’t stack as shown in the picture, too weak and cheap.  HOWEVER, Dale and I saved 4 boxes from the canning we did this summer, because we figured they would be useful on this trip.  They worked PERFECTLY as snack tray, car race track and magnetic block holder.  Then, you flip them over and you have a coloring desk!  Are we thrifty or WHAT!?  🙂

  We all also loved the game “Rubberneckers” which is something the whole family can play!

  About 12:00 on day 2, they started getting crabby, it was 1pm before we found our hotel and got settled.  They were all getting hungry and ready for nap by then!  {ME TOO}

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I have ALWAYS taken pics of our hotel and hotel room, even before I had a blog to share it on.  But this time, I was so glad to be there and start unloading the car, I totally forgot!!!!  It was a lovely hotel, new and clean, big rooms with fridge and microwave.  And a great hot breakfast every morning!  We loved it.  We had two Queen beds, so the 3 oldest kids slept the wrong way on one, 3 across, and Pax had a cot on the floor.

That first night was spent vegging in our hotel room so daddy could sleep and the little kids could nap.  It felt good to be out of that car!  🙂 Everyone was asleep by 7 pm, even the grown ups!

The next day we headed to the RV Park to visit Papa and Drea.  They surprised the kids with Christmas! New clothes for everyone, doll clothes for the girls and a ball and truck for the boys.  They were so excited!   Blog Collage 5

I was most excited that both boys got new jeans.  This is because I was a HORRIBLE packer this time {guess my OCD didn’t kick in, because for the first time ever, I didn’t make a detailed list to pack from} and I packed quickly, while Pax was asleep. Sadly, I made a mental note to get jeans and socks from his room after he woke up, and then NEVER DID IT. Oops.

We spent the morning and lunch with them, playing, exploring the beautiful RV park, and doing homework.

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The big kids were very diligent about getting their school work done.  It was such a pretty day, we just plopped down at a picnic table and worked outside.  Destiny had a lot more than we could get done in one day, so she spent the weekend working on and off on it.

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When everyone woke up from naps back at the hotel, Unca Chad and Auntie Lauren had arrived with their twins, Colby and Brayden.  The kids were SOOOOO excited to finally get to meet their new cousins!

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Praise the Lord, the hotel was able to put them RIGHT next door to us, so we were able to hang out on and off between sleeping kids all weekend.  Sometimes we just sat in the hall way together and talked while we waited for kids and babies to wake up!   lol 🙂

That night was rehearsal and a lovely Prime Rib dinner.  Blog Collage 13
The kids couldn’t wait to see Uncle Aaron and Aunt Ashley.  We were so honored they asked our children to be a part of their wedding day!

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Avery didn’t leave Aunt Ashley’s side ALL night!

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Pax was being a stinker, and REFUSED to go down the aisle, bawling and clinging to daddy each time we practiced.  We formulated a plan involving daddy sneaking away and fruit snacks…….

Would he do it on the big day? Only time would tell!

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Appetizer hour:

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Supper time:

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We headed home early to get the kiddos down.  Drea made plans to pick me up bright and early the next day to decorate the reception hall!

It was a STUNNING building, old bricks and tall ceilings with open beam rafters. {again, no photo! SORRY} They specifically rent out to weddings, so they have coordinators you work with, light crews that can do lit ceilings or parachute white ceilings.  They set up the tables, rent you the linens, have caterers available. I am telling you, neat, neat organization! I would LOVE to do something like this in an old warehouse in my town!!!!!!!

Anyhow, Ashley had all the decor items pre-painted, twine and burlap wrapped and ready to go, so it was up to us to hodge podge them together on each table.  It was an ivory, burlap, vintage theme.  Blog Collage 16

  We worked hard and got the job done, but even at that, the ladies were an hour late to their brunch.  And, by the time I stopped at the store with my dad to get some river rocks and more candles…I had 40 minutes to get all 6 of us READY FOR THE WEDDING.

To say I was panicked would be an understatement……

More tomorrow,

~T

Double Sensation Pumpkin Pie

  I decided to post this recipe today, instead of next week, because I wanted you to have PLENTY of time to shop for it’s ingredients.  This is THE pie I grew up with at Thanksgiving.  And you know me and anything involving cream cheese, this pie is a match made in Creamy Heaven!  🙂

Double Sensation Pumpkin Pie

{click for easy printable}

Double Sensation Pumpkin Pie (1)

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces, weight Softened Cream Cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 1-½ cup Thawed Cool Whip
  • 1 whole Ready Made Graham Cracker Crust
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 packages (4 Serving Size) Vanilla Instant Pudding
  • 16 ounces, weight Can Pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • ¼ teaspoons Ground Cloves

Mix cream cheese, 1 T. milk and sugar in a large bowl with wire whisk until smooth. Gently stir in whipped topping. Spread on bottom of graham crust.
Pour 1 cup milk into bowl, add pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk until well blended, 1-2 minutes. Mixture will be thick.
Stir in pumpkin and spices and spread over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Garnish with additional whipped topping.

Enjoy!

~TDouble Sensation Pumpkin Pie (6)

Dear Mom On The iPhone,

Don’t miss yesterday’s post: Dear Dad On The Recliner,

Dear Mom On the iPhone,

I see you over there on the bench, messing on your iPhone.  It feels good to relax a little while your kids have fun in the sunshine, doesn’t it?  You are doing a great job with your kids, you work hard, you teach them manners, have them do their chores.

But Momma, let me tell you what you don’t see right now…..

Your little girl is spinning round and round, making her dress twirl.  She is such a little beauty queen already, the sun shining behind her hair.  She keeps glancing your way to see if you are watching her. 

You aren’t.

Dancing princess

Your little boy keeps shouting, “Mom, MOM watch this!”  I see you acknowledge him, barely glancing his way. 

He sees that too.  His shoulders slump, but only for a moment, as he finds the next cool thing to do.

Now you are pushing your baby in the swing.  She loves it!  Cooing and smiling with every push.  You don’t see her though, do you?  Your head is bent, your eyes on your phone as you absently push her swing. 

Talk to her.  Tell her about the clouds, Mommy.  The Creator who made them. Tickle her tummy when she comes near you and enjoy that baby belly laugh that leaves far too quickly.

Put your eyes back on your prize…Your kids.

Show them that they are the priority. Wherever you are, be ALL there.  I am not saying it’s not ok to check in on your phone, but it’s a time-sucker: User Beware!

Play time at the park will be over before you know it.

The childhood of your children will be gone before you know it.

They won’t always want to come to the park with you, Mommy.  They won’t always spin and twirl to make their new dress swish, they won’t always call out, “WATCH ME!”

There will come a point when they stop trying, stop calling your name, stop bothering to interrupt your phone time. 

Because they know…

  You’ve shown them, all these moments, that the phone is more important than they are.  They see you looking at it at while waiting to pick up brother from school, during playtime, at the dinner table, at bedtime…..

I know that’s not true, Mommy.

I know your heart says differently.

But your kids can’t hear your words, Mommy. Your actions are screaming way too loudly.  

  May our eyes rest upon those we love, first and foremost, and may everything else fall away in the wonderful, noisy, sticky-fingered glory of it all.

~T

Note from Tonya:

This blog post is written for me, too!  It could just as easily say Dear Mommy on the Computer, because I also struggle to find balance between needing a break, and knowing when its time to walk away from the computer to be Mommy again.
I try to limit it to nap time and after the children are in bed. I am just asking for us to be aware of how this media time can overflow into our face to face time with our family and those around us.

I will never forget when this all became clear to for me….

The children were in bed, the house was dark, and I was getting ready for bed, when I noticed a stack of books on the edge of my desk.  Books my 2 little ones had been asking me to read ALL DAY.  A stack of books that was set aside until Mommy could get her work done.  Work turned into research, turned into facebook, turned into answering emails, turned into……NOT READING AT ALL.
I went to bed defeated that night, hot tears streaming down my cheeks and dripping onto my pillow, as I cried out to God to help me do better. To help me put my eyes back on the people that need me the most, my family.

Was my stuff on the computer more important than my children?  Heavens no!  But my actions are always screaming louder than my words ever could.

What did my actions say to my kids that day?

 “My computer is more important than you today.  Go play!  I simply don’t have time for you.”

  Also, may I add, that the point of this post was NOT attachment parenting, or putting your child first and falling all over yourself trying to meet their every whim or need.  That is about as opposite as you can get from what I believe and how I raise my kids.

This is about looking up and around, enjoying life in the moment, not staring at a phone!  With your spouse, with a friend over lunch, a smile to a grocery check out worker…..look UP and leave the phone behind once in a while. It’s liberating.

More here and here:

Re: Dear Mom On The iPhone

&

Phone Etiquette 101

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