Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mom

September 2, 2014

Things I Want To Say To You On The First Day of First Grade

We sit at the table as you quietly eat your breakfast. Your sister is still asleep, giving us these special moments of calm. You woke up early, anxious about life: new bus, new school, new class, new friends. The butterflies got the best of you, disrupting your sweet dreams. So before tip-toeing down to breakfast, we laid side by side in silence, our presence each other's comfort. 

What are the right words to say to calm your precious heart?

Downstairs in the kitchen, you chew thoughtfully on a muffin as I work on a bowl of cereal. We talk about your new book bag, we pack your lunch, and you put on your shoes. The butterflies have flittered away, leaving in their place a sense of excitement and adventure. For this I am grateful. Yet, I know so much is happening in your mind. As your mom, there are so many things I could say, things I should say.

But where to begin?

It's okay to be afraid.

It's okay to be excited.

You are awesome. And wonderful. Just be yourself, and it will be impossible for people not to love you.

There will be people who won't fall in love with you. Heck, there will be people who don't even remotely like you. And that's okay. Different strokes for different folks, love.

The best way to make friends is to be a friend. 

I know you are shy, and the thought of taking the initiative to introduce yourself is a daunting task. But do it. Because for every ounce of fear you have about talking to someone new, there is someone standing right next to you feeling the same way. Some people are just waiting to be talked to and noticed.

Your teacher cares about you. 

It's okay to mess up. 

I think about you all day - and there is not a moment of your day that I'm not wondering what wonderful things you are doing at school.

Be the kind of friend you want others to be to you.

Everyone fits in somewhere

Don't be afraid to try - even if you fail. 

Wash your hands.

Raise your hand to answer questions - even if it turns out your wrong. That's part of learning.

One of the dearest friends I have today I met in first grade. 

There may come a point where another kid is mean to you. And while that's not okay, you don't have to let it define you. Deep down, the people who hurt others are hurting. Those are the people who are still learning how to love and need our love the most.

School libraries are better than book stores.

There will be parts of the school day you love. There will be other parts you struggle with. But you have to face them all the same. Some day you'll understand the importance of a well-rounded education.

Embrace art class and music class.

You don't have to be good at everything. But you do have to give everything all you've got. 

These are the days you'll remember fondly as an adult. Cherish them.

She scoops her arms through the straps of her backpack, and with little sister in tow we head to the bus stop. The smile doesn't leave your face, and my heart bursts with so many words, thoughts and feelings I want to share. But time is not my friend, and the bus rounds the corner.

I kneel down and pull her close. 

"You'll be great. Have fun. I love you."

And with a quick kiss on the cheek, you're on the bus before I can wave good-bye.

Dream big, love.

August 28, 2014

Percy and Thomas the Tank Engine Visit Strasburg Railroad {Giveaway}

Chica turned 6 a few weeks ago, and as a special treat we whisked the family to Lancaster County (about 30 minutes away) for a fun ride on the Strasburg Railroad.  We decided to go all out and enjoyed the dining car. For a glorious hour, we rode along the bucolic Lancaster countryside while noshing on tasty food. 

Trains are truly a treat!

Kids, especially, find something truly magical about locomotives. And there are few things more exciting than meeting your favorite train in person! Several precious times a year, Strasburg invites Thomas the Tank Engine to visit. Day Out with Thomas is one of the most popular events of the year!

Until now.

This year, Thomas will be bringing a very special friend along! Percy will be chugging along with Thomas to the Strasburg Railroad this September. Little engineers and their families have the opportunity to take a ride with Thomas the Tank Engine AND Percy, stars of the popular Thomas & Friends® series.

A Day Out With Thomas and Percy Activities

  • A 25-minute (approximate) ride with Thomas the Tank Engine and hear Thomas greet his fans!
  • Pictures with Sir Topham Hatt, Controller of the Railway.
  • A Thomas & Friends Imagination Station featuring stamps, temporary tattoos, hands-on arts & crafts, train tables, and coloring sheets.
  • Thomas & Friends video viewing and storytelling.
  • Fun extras including rides aboard vintage Pump Cars, hand-propelled Cranky Cars, a Pint-Sized Pufferbelly train and an LO&S motorcar train.


September 13 – 21, 2014.
Trains departing every 30 minutes:
  • Saturday 9:15 am – 3:45 pm
  • Sunday, 9:45 am – 3:15 pm
  • Monday – Friday, 10:15 am – 1:45 pm
Ticket prices are $21.00 plus tax for ages 2 and up (service charges and fee may apply).


One lucky reader will win a Family 4 pack to visit Thomas & Percy for Sunday, September 14 to ride the 12:45pm train!

Note: please only submit an entry if you are able to accept the tickets and attend on Sunday, September 14 at 12:45pm.

Good luck and happy winning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 24, 2014

Sweet and Savory Slow Cooker Apple Pork Chops

One of the things I love about my Monthly Freezer Meal Club is the introduction to a bunch of awesome new recipes. Something that makes these recipes awesome is 1) they are new, 2) they are freezable and 3) many of them are slow cooker recipes.

So, like, the Trifecta of Awesome.

A few months ago, my friend Kate prepped us each a freezer bag of Apple Pie Pork Chops. To be honest, the idea sounded gross (literally plopping apple pie filling on top of pork chops in the slow cooker). Surprisingly, it was very good. And the girls loved it (which, let's be honest, is rare). Although it was good, it needed…tweaking. It was a bit too sweet for my taste.

So I went to work remaking this recipe into something a little less sweet and a little more savory.

And friends?

I hit the jackpot.

This recipe for Sweet and Savory Slow Cooker Apple Pork Chops is easy, freezable, and made in the slow cooker. Also? It's delicious. And perfect for Autumn.  It is the perfect blend of sweet (thanks, apples and cinnamon!) and savory (thanks, thyme and onions!). I can't wait to add this to my regular Meal Rotation.

  • 4-6 center cut boneless pork chops
  • 1 onion, diced.
  • 6 medium/large apples, peeled and diced
  • 2 TBS sugar (or sugar substitute)
  • 2 TBS flour (white or whole wheat)
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • Dash of ground cloves (optional)
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 1 cup of water

Spray slow cooker insert with cooking spray. Arrange pork chops on bottom of slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine diced apples, diced onions, flour, sugar, cinnamon and thyme (and, if you use it, dash of cloves). Top pork chops with apple/onion mixture. Pour 1 cup of water over everything. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or until pork chops are cooked through and mixture is bubbling.


The left over pork tastes AWESOME shredded with some of the apple mixture on grilled pizza


Give me new ideas to add to my Back-to-School Meal Rotation! Comment below with your favorite recipes.

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