How Will I Write My Life Story?

What a weekend! To say that I am “inspired” is an understatement. My weekend was eye opening, life changing. . and dare I say epic? So now that I have all of your attention and curiosity, let me take a moment and tell you a little bit more about what I did this weekend and then we will get to how it has impacted my life. 

Over the weekend I spent my time at a hero’s convention. No, it was not an anime convention or anything of the sorts. It was a conference geared towards changing lives. At The Hero Round Table convention I was given the information to learn what a true hero is and the tools to actually go out and act heroically. The conference was held near Flint, MI but brought in names from around the globe. I was able to hear amazing people speak about what they are doing to make a change, such as Phil Zimbardo, Ethan King and more, and then afterward go out into the halls and get to know them. . shake their hands. . hug them. I learned that they are real people. They are just like me, but they decided to stand up when others sat down. They decided to take action when others just walked on by.  
At first this was conflicting internally for me. How could I be heroic? I am not special. I don’t really even think I am that good of a person most of the time. I have responsibility in my home as a mother. Yada Yada Yada. My “excuses” could really go on and on if I let them. However at one point, and I am not exactly sure when this point was, but my thoughts began to change. Hey, so I’m not special. . ok. . I’m not sure any of these speaker have something in them that makes them categorically “special”. I don’t consider myself a good person. I’m not sure being “good” to begin with is really a requirement. I have responsibilities at home as a mother. Yes, I do. But I also have time. Being a stay at home mom could be one of the greatest gifts I am given because while I do have many time consuming tasks each day I also have the ability to shuffle these tasks around and make time to do what I please. I have children. . . what better of a reason to make a difference is this? What better of an opportunity is this than to teach my children an amazing lesson that they currently are not going to learn in school?  I have a blog, which reaches over 17,000 people a month and I choose to talk about how to prepare dinner 98% of the time?!? Why until now I have I done NOTHING. 
So yeah.  .I am a little embarrassed and rightfully so. I was like a programmed drone walking through life ignoring the suffering and looking the other way when things were uncomfortable. I was in the mindset that other peoples suffering is “really not my business”. However, I was wrong. One of the lessons I was taught at the conference is really the most simple and that is to act the way you would want others to act if it were you. If you were the one being pushed around, hurt, belittled. What would you want someone else to do to help you? The most impacting moment of this conference was a video that showed a two year old girl get run over by a car and for hours everyone in the streets just walked on by her. . sometimes within inches of her. . and did nothing. They didn’t want to get their hands dirty is someone elses’ business.  Wow, right? How would you act? I know we would all like to say “I would do something!” at least that is what I think of myself. But what about less extreme cases? A girl at work or school is being ridiculed, teased. . emotionally run over.  Do we walk on by or do you say something? 
I believe that we all have it in us to be good. I want to believe, for my childrens’ sake, that we can change the worlds perspective. Yes, I am just a mom who writes a little blog but I believe I can do something. While I would love to sit here and tell you my elaborate plans to change the world, I can’t. I don’t have any plans yet. . but people don’t do amazing things by having “plans”, they have actions. 
From a bloggers standpoint and also from a mothers, I am extremely curious what it takes to raise compassionate, giving children. I am hoping to get in touch with the parents of the younger speakers that I listened to this weekend and see what advice they could offer to us. What did they do differently? How did they have the courage to help their child pursue their dreams of being heroic instead of just saying “Oh sweetie, you have such a good heart” and letting their child’s dream fall to the side?
Yes, my weekend was amazing and I hope that if you are able to attend next years conference that you will. Each day we write our own life story. . what do you want yours to say?
I hope that you will join us in these conversations in the future. 
<3 Mary

Monster Cookies {Recipe}

Did any of you see my post yesterday on Instagram? Yesterday we had a dark, rainy, and cold day here in Michigan. It was so dreary that I did not even want to try and venture outside. So what do we do when we are stuck inside all day? Besides going a little bit crazy, we either make a craft or bake some treats.  Yesterday we decided that baking treats sounded like fun and we decided to use up some of the Halloween candy that we hadn’t eaten yet. We actually have A LOT left, since I wont let the kids have but one piece of candy after dinner each day. However, I would much rather use it all up now so it doesn’t go to waste and so we don’t eat it all. I know your thinking “Why would you want to just add more sugar to their diets when they have so much candy already?”. Well, here is my thoughts. . . 
We can make cookies now using up all of the Halloween candy, then freeze them and get them out at Christmas when we need treats to take to parties or make up cookie baskets for friends. Ah hah. . see what I did there? Perfect plan, don’t ya think? Get rid of the candy now AND cut back on the baking I have to do at Christmas.  Oh yes. . Brilliant. 
Ok, so here is my recipe for Monster Cookies


2 – 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks of butter
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1-2 cups of chopped up Halloween candy

You know how most recipes tell you to mix everything separately before adding them together? Yeah, I don’t do that. I hate making extra dishes to clean. So what I do is add all of the ingredients listed above together at once into a large bowl, except the candy pieces. We will add those in last. After all of your ingredients are in the bowl, use a hand mixer to mix it all up on high speed just until blended. Then add in your candy pieces and mix on low just to blend. 
Next, using two spoons, drop tablespoon sized drops on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 9 minutes or until the edges are browned and the center looks cooked. 
Remove the cookies from the oven and cool on a cooling rack. 
Now. . take one cookie just to taste and bag the rest up in a freezer bag and freeze until Christmas. 🙂 You’ll thank me later. 
BTW, today is a much nicer day. The rain is gone and we are out playing again. 
What is your all time favorite Christmas cookie? Tell me in the comments. Leave us a link on how to make them. . bonus points for you! 🙂
<3 Dick and Jane  

How to be a SuperMom!

You may think that I have it all together. You may even think that I cater to the supermom mentality with my blog. Truly, I don’t or at least I don’t try to. In fact. . I also dislike the pressure that comes from the “supermom mentality”. When you become a mother you are expected to care for your kids and husband, clean up after them, cook for them, drive them around, sometimes work in a job outside of the home, be present at every event, make sure your kids hair is brushed and looking good, clean up after everyone (yes, I know I’ve said that twice), all while getting minimal to zero sleep at night. The sleep you do get really shouldn’t be qualified as sleep. It is more like closing your eyes while trying to hold your child from falling out of the bed, while laying on your tiny sliver of bed space, with your arm asleep and getting kicked in the gut the moment you start to drift off. Then as you are trying to do it all right, if you mess up even once you run the risk of getting judgmental looks or comments from other parents about how “when my girls were younger I always made sure they had a bows in their hair”. 

Really? Agh. Why is there so much pressure to be perfect? So what if we had take out dinners three times this week? Aren’t we all doing the best we can?

I normally try and keep my posts motivational in nature. So what sparked this little rant of a post you may ask? Let me share with you how my day went yesterday… and I will try to keep it brief. Be prepared. . this rant contains a lot of run on sentences!
At 1 A.M. I went to bed. Around 2 A.M. my son came into my room crying. My motherly instincts had kicked right in. I was awake and alert at the drop of a hat. I brought him into my bed and cuddled him to help him fall back asleep. Moments later we were both asleep. Moments after that, or at least it seemed, I was woken up again by more crying and the sudden realization that I had been pee’d on. Now the only logical thing to do was clean everybody up, including myself.  Once the showers and bathtubs were finished I looked at the clock and it was about 6:45 A.M. Yep, that’s morning! It was time to get ready to go to my part time job. I worked until about 2:30 and then headed off to pick up my kids. When I got home from my already exhausting day I opened up the door to my house it looked like a bomb had gone off. I quickly picked up the floor and started to make dinner. I spent an hour preparing “Amish Noodles with Chicken”, a recipe that I had found on Pinterest.  Total fail. It was disgusting! Serves me right for trying a new recipe that was marked “Super easy and delicious”.

My “Super Easy and Delicious” MUSH

 Now what? I’ve slept maybe five hours total, haven’t eaten all day and now it is six o’clock and I have nothing to feed my family. I decided to muster up my energy and take the kids into town to grab a bite to eat. All the while I am feeling guilty for not providing them with a wholesome home-cooked meal yet again. After dinner we got home, I gave my daughter (who was not pee’d on the night before) her bathtub and I rested for the first time all day. Whew. . I started to get angry at the day and curse having so much responsibility and then my kids started singing and dancing to “What does the fox say” and my thoughts immediately changed. 

I know that life is tough, but this is real life. And sometimes life is just plain exhausting. I also follow other bloggers and think “Man, if I could only be more like them, they really have it all together as a mom”. And then I think “Why do we do this to ourselves?” We may all at times strive to make a fancy dinner or come up with a great idea for some family fun time, but that is not the normal everyday for anybody. Life takes a lot of work and if you are comparing your every day to the best days that you see in the media then you are only setting yourself up for failure. Nobody can be a supermom, but we can be a mom. Plain and simple. Try and remember you don’t need to do it all, you just need to be present and be happy in the moments you are given.

Right now my moment is watching my kids sing “What does a fox say” and I am going to enjoy it completely.

I think life with children is a lot like childbirth itself. Its hard, it can be painful, its tiring. . but then you see your childs’ face and you completely forget all of the bad stuff and think “yeah. . I could do this again”.

<3 Dick and Jane

Holiday Ruffled Wreath {DIY Project}

Awhile back I found a large, old picture window at a garage sale for $1. It was gorgeous. Twelve frames in all and very chippy, rustic looking. I decided back then to hang the old window on a bare wall in my living room, but it was still so very plain. The window needed something special. I thought about adding pictures of our family behind each picture frame, but the slots were a bit too big for even an 8×10 picture. So there it sat for a few months, while I starred and pondered. Now that Halloween is over and Boom, all the Christmas decoration are up I got an idea to hang a wreath on the old window. Cute, right? I wanted something white and dainty. Something that would blend in with the rooms decor and not be like “BAZZING. . LOOK AT ME!”. I couldn’t find what I wanted anywhere. All of the wreaths I found were very Christmas oriented. I wanted something that I could use year round. So I did what I normally do anyways and made a wreath myself.

You are not going to believe it, but this wreath only cost me about $9 to make. That’s it! So here is how I did it so you can make one for your home too. 
Here is what you will need:
– Styrofoam circle
– Elmer’s glue
– Burlap ribbon
– 1 pkg of coffee filters

I will warn you that this project takes a few days to complete.  Its best to work in small sections and allow the glue to dry in between. If you glue too many coffee filters on all at once they tend to have a hard time sticking and knock each other off of the ring. It may be better to use hot glue, but I didn’t think of that before hand. . . 
The first thing I did was tie my burlap ribbon around my styrofoam ring. You could also just glue it to the back when your done. . I don’t think it really matters. Next, I started making my ruffles by placing a pencil into the coffee filter to create a pointed end and a ruffle end.

The coffee filters were a bit too long, so I decided to fold over the pointed end of the filter before gluing it to my ring. That seemed to work better and my ruffles were tighter and closer to the ring like I had hoped. (This would probably also work well with cupcake liners because they are a little bit smaller, just a thought).

I worked my way around the ring, taking breaks to allow the glue to dry in between sections. I decided not to decorate the back of my ring because I wanted it to lay flat against the wall.  When all of my coffee filters were dried and secured onto the ring I added a burlap bow to my ribbon and placed in on top of my picture window for display.

Oh yes.  . it was perfect. Frilly, dainty, rustic and it looked like it had always belong.

If anyone decides to make this wreath and uses a hot glue gun instead of Elmers glue let me know how it works. Plus, I’d love to see your renditions of this wreath. Did you use cupcake liners instead of coffee filters to create a colorful wreath? Post your pictures to our facebook page and we will share them with everyone. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

<3 Dick and Jane

How to Help Your Visual Child Succeed in a Letter and Numbers World

This post idea was sparked by a book I read, Being Visual, which was provided to me free of charge for review. 

All of our children are different, correct? Some learn at different speeds, levels and by different methods. Not all children thrive in the education system that our schools provide and this doesn’t mean that they aren’t as smart as the other children. . it might just mean that they require a different method of  knowledge delivery.

Being Visual, Raising a Generation of Innovative Thinkers, is an amazing book that I just finished reading that spoke more in depth about this concept. I was amazed to find, while reading this book, that I am a visual learner. Throughout my life I have always struggled with math and subjects that offered no pictorial enhancement. I needed to see concepts in my mind to be able to understand them. Even today, when I am trying to remember something, I will create a picture of what I need to remember in my head. For example, if I need to remember a specific time of day I will actually picture an old school clock in my head with the correct time showing. This just works for me.

I wish that when I was in school someone would have taken the time to teach me as I needed to be taught. Math might had made more sense had I used M&M’s to visualize adding 10 + 9 instead of just being told to do it in my head. Being more artistic by nature, my mind just didn’t work the same way as the “standard” lesson taught and that’s ok. This book, Being Visual, gave me many examples of ways that I can teach my children (to supplement their education) in a way that might better resonate with them if by chance they share my visual method of learning. One of the examples talked about in the book really hit home with me. Being that I have younger children I decided to give this suggestion a try first. We will talk about what that method is in a moment.

If you are following along on my Instagram page you probably saw the picture of my daughters bedroom as I found it yesterday. I mean really. . what is going on?
Just in case you missed it, here it is. 

Yep. . that is a little bit crazy isn’t it.  I know this photo got a bunch of laughs on Instagram yesterday and I am assuming it is because many of you can relate? Why is it so difficult for kids to keep things put away? It seems like everyday I am asking my daughter to put her clothes away and pick up her room. She immediately becomes overwhelmed by my task and shuts down. Her bedroom, as it is now, is not equipped for learning. Things are not organized and she cannot visualize what she needs to do in order to get her room to where I am telling her it needs to be. 
The suggestion provided in the book was to create pictures of where things belong to help young children focus and visualize where an object belongs. We started with my daughters dresser. First we put all of her clothes in the correct drawers, separating them into one drawer per category. That is, one drawer for underwear, one for shirts, pants and so on. . We made a picture of each category and taped it to the front of the corresponding drawer. Now my daughter can visualize her chore and hopefully help her know where to start when she is asked to put her clothes away. Sometimes the biggest problem for kids is to know where to start, but if you can get them started and they can visualize what it is they need to do, they will be able to continuing until the task is done. 
This book also gave other great ideas for helping older children visualize and prepare for writing a paper, a task which may be difficult for a visual child. Not because they don’t have ideas about what to write, but learning how to organize their thoughts so the audience can follow along may be difficult for them. (This is something I struggle with in my writing too) The author spells out several specific strategies that may help your visual child learn in a numbers and letters world.    
If you are interested in what we’ve talked about today or other methods of learning for your children, including the Montessori school system I would recommend checking this book out.  I have included a link to purchase this book on amazon below. 
Learning methods should be different for all types of children because children are different. Not everyone thinks the same way and that is wonderful. I cannot imagine a world where everything thought the same way. How boring. So celebrate your child’s brilliant mind and help mold them to be the best that THEY can be. If they are a fish, don’t get discouraged when they have trouble climbing that tree. 
#ad Being Visual Book Review

<3 Dick and Jane
Disclosure: This post includes amazon affiliate links. The book mentioned in this post was also provided to us free of charge with the hopes that we would find it amazing and talk about it. 

Caramel Banana Pancakes {Recipe}

When I was in Las Vegas last month I ordered a breakfast of salted caramel and banana french toast from the restaurant in my hotel my first morning there. Oh my goodness, it was good! It took everything I had not to go back and order it every morning there after. So when I got home and was remembering what a great time I had I started to think about that breakfast. Yes, I do daydream about food. . sometimes. . . ok, quite often. . . don’t judge. 

So yesterday I decided to give the recipe a try. I don’t usually get up early enough to do morning food trials, so we decided to make these for dinner. First try and they were fabulous! They tasted exactly like the french toast I remembered from the Flamingo hotel in Las Vegas. . but we made them into pancakes. 
There are two ways to make this. . the easy, fast way and the completely homemade way. 
We, like most families, are pretty rushed in the mornings so I wanted to show a version that was quick to make but would still offer your family a great tasting, healthy breakfast (that looks like it took you forever to make. . teehee). So for this recipe, we used boxed pancake mix. If you have the time and want to cook from scratch you can find a great recipe for homemade pancake mix here: Smashed Peas and Carrots Blog.
What you will need: 
Pancake Mix
Ripe Bananas
Werthers baking caramels
Begin by preparing your pancake mix as directed. Before you put the pancakes on the griddle, mush up 1-2 bananas and add them to your mix. Continue cooking as directed. 
In a glass dish, add one package of Werthers baking caramels and one tablespoon of milk. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute, stir. Continue cooking for one additional minute. 
When the pancakes are ready, top with additional sliced bananas and drizzle the melted caramel over the pancakes instead of syrup. 
Now it’s time to enjoy this delectable, fancy breakfast. Even if you can’t make it to the Flamingo in Las Vegas you can now say you’ve eaten a meal from there. Well. Sort of. 🙂 ( just close your eyes and pretend. That’s what I do most of the time) 

Want to save this recipe? Hover over the image of your choice and click on the Pinterest logo that will suddenly appear to save it to your Pinterest board. That way you’ll never loose it! 
<3 Dick and Jane

“Giving Thanks” Framed Craft

Happy November 1st! Halloween is over (we hope you all had a nice night) and it is time to start getting ready for the next rush of holidays coming up. Today I will be taking down my Halloween decorations and putting up the Thanksgiving ones. It really seems like from October through February all I am doing is decorating. It is a lot of hard work, but it sure fun to enjoy it when it is all done. Don’t ya think?

Today, in honor of the first day of November (which is also my birthday month!!!), I decided to start off with a fun and easy craft. Something you can use to put your home in the “giving thanks” mood. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, not only because of all the yummy food, but because I love being reminded of how thankful I should be. Sometimes with life rushing by and all of the stresses that come along with it, it is easy to forget to stop and see what is right in front of you. 
For today’s craft I took an old frame that had lost its picture and glass. It was in someones pile to be thrown out. I nabbed it up and added a light coat of white paint. Once the paint dried I sanded down the edges and roughed it up a bit so that the natural wood could slightly show through. This gave it a more shabby chic appearance. 
Once the frame was ready I found a piece of fabric that I thought would work. It was orange with ivory polka dots on it and I had just enough to fit my frame. On the front of the fabric I wrote “Give Thanks” using a permanent fabric marker. But be careful to place some cardboard behind your fabric while you are writing. I accidentally ruined my 1950’s metal rimmed table in the process because the marker bled through onto my table top.  🙁 If anyone knows how to get permanent marker off a table, please let me know. . . Magic eraser did not work. 
When I was finished writing on my fabric (and ruining my table) I flipped the old frame over and while using hot glue, pulled the fabric as tightly as I could gluing around the edges. When I flipped my frame back over I love it, but I thought the frame was a little boring. I headed out to my old parts graveyard in my garage and found an old drawer that had some interested details on it. So I took apart the drawer pull and added it to the top of my frame. I added a little bit of turquoise paint to the piece and screwed it into the frame. 
That was about right! I loved the way it looked and this project cost me nothing to make. The frame was a roadside find, the fabric was old scraps I had laying around, the marker I had from an earlier project and the decoration add on’s were pieces of old drawers. 
Ever wonder what an old parts graveyard looks like? Here is mine.  .it is made up of old things I find that intrigue me. Where do I find them? Roadside, garage sales, ect. I just stash them away in my graveyard until I need them! It is sort of fun to save something from a trash hill fate and remake it into something worth loving once again. 
On this first day of November I ask you: What are you thankful for? 
(Also. . if you know how to save my table, chime in please )
<3 Dick and Jane