Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Dip

Here's one of our favorite pot-luck appetizers: Buffalo Chicken Dip!
Slow Cooker Recipe for Buffalo Chicken Dip
1 8-oz block cream cheese
2 cups shredded chicken (can use canned or rotisserie)
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Place all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on high for about 40 minutes or low for a couple of hours.


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If a Toddler Ran This House

If a toddler ran our house, we'd have coloring books instead of carpet.

We'd have pizza and yogurt for breakfast, lunch AND dinner...plus endless amounts of cookies in between.

Barney and Mother Goose Club would loop repeatedly on the TV all day long with variations in volume dependent on how many times said toddler could get her hands on the remote.

There'd be play dough stuck to the walls and baseboards and crayon scribbles on the couch.

And forget all that folded laundry in the basket ready to be put away upstairs.


Putting away laundry is totally overrated.

That's all gettin' wadded up and sprawled across the floor, people.

All of it.

And nap time?

Pshh, forget about it.

You might as well call it "Bounce-in-bed time."

Sometimes I feel like it's hard to keep up with such an active toddler while I'm juggling a four-month old in my arms.

But you know what?

Even in those trip-over-the-toys and stub-my-toe-but-try-not-to-curse-or-cry moments, I find myself smiling.

Seeing the world through a toddler's eyes is fascinating.

One minute, she's dancing and singing around the house, the next minute she's got her arm around me, giving me a sloppy, wet kiss on the cheek. And just when I'm about to say, "Ohhhh, that's so nice. I love you sweetie!" she's back to tugging on the dog's toy and squealing while chasing her around the house.

There's so much learning and growing happening around here, and even though I'm knee deep in laundry and coloring books and burp cloths and play dough, I wouldn't have it any other way.

I find myself thinking, "Wow, she's growing up fast."

Time is slipping away, and I have a feeling in the blink of an eye, I'll wish for these moments where it felt like a toddler ran this house.

Parents of teens and older children:
What do you miss most about these years? What advice do you have for people parenting toddlers? Share your words of wisdom in the comments below!


Life Changes In An Instant

Apparently taking recyclables down three steps can uproot your life in an instant.

I wish I could say I saved a dozen school kids from getting hit by an erratic semi driver and broke my foot when I jumped in front of them.

Alas, I have the humiliating admission that I just FELL.

Down two of three steps.

After an entire night of excruciating pain, my husband [bless him] carried me through the threshold of a hospital entryway and plopped me into a wheelchair; he pushed me through cold, empty hallways, and we waited hours for an X-ray before I was given the boot -- literally.
I got this boot. Crutches. And some heavy pain killers.

Plus words from a doctor I didn't want to hear:
I'd like you to get a second opinion. Your foot is broken in an usual spot. I'm not sure if you'll need surgery, but I want you to see a specialist next week.
Surgery or not, I'll need to hobble around on crutches and a boot for at least a few months.

It's certainly not how I anticipated enjoying the summer while my husband works and stays 2.5 hours away and I watch two kiddos and try to show and sell our house.

If there's anything I've learned in these past 48-hours, it's that life can change drastically in an instant. It's amazing what we can so easily take for granted when we are healthy and able to move freely. But sometimes we get stopped in our tracks. And just like that, everything is different and harder than it used to be.

For now, I'm attempting to put one foot in front of the other -- baby steps with a 20-pound boot, crutches and a village of family and friends who give me a boost when I feel like throwing in the towel.

If there's anything I'm grateful for, it's that there is such beauty in those around me during the midst of life-changing circumstances.


Homemade Play Dough

Play Dough Recipe
I've survived more than a month of staying at home with my daughters!

[Cheers to that!]

I feel so lucky I get to watch them grow and learn every day.

But finding things to do to help them grow and learn can be challenging.

That's why I was excited when I came across this recipe for homemade play dough on Pinterest.

This homemade play dough is a-w-e-s-o-m-e.

We've learned colors and counting and shapes -- it's perfect for toddlers!

Here's the recipe:

1 cup Flour
1 cup Water
1/4 cup Salt
1 Tbp. Oil
2 tsp. Cream of Tarter
Food Coloring

Pour all ingredients into sauce pan.
Stir until everything is mixed well, then heat over medium heat.
Keep stirring; after a few minutes it will start to clump up. Stir until one big clump is formed and remove from heat. Knead by hand.

Let cool and PLAY!

Recipe source: WeLoveBeingMoms.blogspot.com.


The BEST Gift Basket For New Moms

Pampering After Childbirth
Last week, I asked moms via Facebook for help in putting together the PERFECT gift basket for a new mom.

You see, my sister was about to be blown away with motherhood, and I wanted her to know I was thinking of her, too.
Gift for New Mom
A few weeks ago, I ordered her a comfy sweatshirt and yoga pants from Old Navy [because what screams "Welcome to Motherhood" more than comfy clothes, eh?!].
Gift for New Mom
Side note: Old Navy has a killer section of active wear for tall, lanky gals like us!

I also snagged a gift card for her favorite morning pit stop: Dunkin' Donuts.
Dunkin Donuts, Chocolates
(It's easier to stay hydrated when you have something cute like this to drink out of, right?)
For Woman After Childbirth
I picked up some antibacterial to discretely toss to any guests who want to snuggle the new bundle without washing their hands. 
Gift for New Mom
Plus, it's the "Stress Relief" aromatherapy scent from Bath & Body Works...a win-win!

Of course, this new mom basket wouldn't be complete without some breath mints, granola bars, an eye mask, hair clips and this bottle [obbbbbbbviously not for baby]:
Lots of mommas recommended food, so I loaded my sis and her new family of THREE up with Freezer Friendly Beef Burritos and Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins, plus scheduled some grub from Omaha Steaks to be delivered in a couple weeks.

Other awesome gifts to consider including for a new momma:
-Nursing shirt
-Tucks pads
-A new robe (like this one)
-Gift certificates for pampering
-Netflix subscription
-Beauty products
-Fresh fruit
-Hair products (like this awesome dry shampoo!)
Gifts for Woman After Childbirth
Mommas, what's the nicest thing someone did for you after childbirth? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

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[Freezer Friendly] Dark Chocolate + Pumpkin Muffins

This post contains affiliate links.
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins Recipe
This could be my new favorite recipe.

It's easy -- and oh-so YUMMY!
4 Eggs
2 cups Sugar
1 16 oz. can Pureed Pumpkin
1 1/2 cups Oil
3 cups Flour
2 tsp. Baking Soda
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Salt
1 pkg Dark Chocolate Chips

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil; add in dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips.

Fill greased muffin cups 3/4 full (or use these ADORABLE laser-cut liners for an extra special touch!).

Bake 12-15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Recipe adapted from MoneySavingMom.com

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Welcome to the World, Raegan Kay!

Meet Raegan Kay.

Born May 18th at 2:22 p.m.

Olivia is thrilled her very first cousin is a GIRL! (Though I have to keep reminding her we're NOT taking her home with us -- HA!)
Welcome to the family, sweet girl! 

Uncle Chris, Auntie Shelley and your two cousins are SO GLAD you are here!
And welcome to parenthood, Phil and Lindee! 

I'm so happy for you -- let the SPOILING begin! 


Spaghetti Bake

I saw a recipe for Million Dollar Spaghetti on Pinterest, and thought, "That's gotta be good."

So we gave it a try!

Note: The original recipe calls for cottage cheese, but we used Ricotta instead.

Second note: This makes a TON! Like, leftovers all week.

Spaghetti Bake
1 lb of Ground Beef
1 jar of Spaghetti Sauce
8 oz Cream Cheese
¼ cup Sour Cream
1 cup Ricotta Cheese
½ cup Butter
16 oz Spaghetti noodles
Grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.

Boil spaghetti noodles until cooked. Drain and set aside until ready to assemble.

Combine the cream cheese, sour cream and cottage cheese until well blended.

Brown hamburger and combine with spaghetti sauce.

Put a few slices of butter into a 9x13 pan.

Pour half of the spaghetti noodles on top.

Take cream cheese mixture and pour on top of the noodles. Spread well.

Pour the rest of the noodles on top of the cream cheese mixture.

Put a few more slices of butter on top of the noodles.

Pour meat sauce on top of noodles.

Bake for 30-minutes. Add shredded cheese on top. Cook for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.


Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

My friend Miki said this recipe is one of her favorites.

And lemme tell ya...it's one of our faves now, too!

The only way we alter the original recipe [from PlainChicken.com] 'round here is doubling it!
16 oz. Penne Pasta
2 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Flour
1 Pkg (Approx. 4 Tbsp.) Ranch Seasoning
4 Cups Milk
2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
4 Cups Chopped Chicken
Cooked, Crumbled Bacon

In large pot, cook pasta according to package instructions.

Drain, set aside.

In same pot, melt butter.

Add flour and stir for 1-minute.

Whisk in milk.

Stir in ranch seasoning and cheese until cheese melts.

Add cooked chicken and bacon and penne noodles.

Stir to coat and serve.


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Six Easy Crafts for Kids

It's no secret that our family loves having an open adoption with our daughters' birth families.

We find creative ways to stay in touch, and we like to make it fun for the girls.
Easy Craft for Kids
I mean, who doesn't love getting their feet painted?! ;)

Here's a slideshow I compiled for Adoption.com of Six Crafts to Send Your Child's Birth Mom
Easy Craft Ideas for Birth Parents in Open Adoption
(Pssst...I know this is published on an adoption-related website, but all of these ideas are great for ANY family! Check 'em out!)


What Moms Really Want for Mother's Day

Dear spouses everywhere [okay, maybe just my husband, but whatever.]...

Mother's Day will come and go again this year.

And I'll tell ya the same thing I did last year (and the year before that, and the year before that...):

I don't want to go to church.

'Cause I kinda wanna wear sweatpants all. day. long. And maybe not do my hair.

I wannna sleep in. Just an extra 20-minutes will do.

And pleassssse... 

Please forego the $10 Hallmark card telling me "Happy Mother's Day" from the kids.

I love Hallmark and all, but can we spend the $10 on something else?

[Think coffee. This or this perhaps?]
Mother's Day
I don't need a ring or a necklace or any jewelry with birth stones or mom-engraved messages.

Instead, maybe you can have the girls make me some bling with those leftover mac 'n cheese noodles that exploded got thrown all over the kitchen floor like two weeks ago?

Hey. Cleaning AND crafting? A win-win.

Just sayin'...

And while you're on your hands and knees scrounging up those old macaroni noodles for that handmade necklace, can you maybe sweep up those dreaded oatmeal flakes that make me cringe every time I open up the pantry door in the morning?

That'd seriously be like the best gift ever.

You think I'm kidding...but I'm not. I hate those $%#% oatmeal flakes. And I hate even more that I never make time to sweep 'em up.
But really...

The truth is we [moms] just want to feel loved and appreciated and valued.

And you don't need to go out of your way to do that.
Mom and Daughter
We don't need fancy flowers or balloons or chocolates...a fresh-picked dandelion bouquet from the yard is just as beautiful next to handmade cards decorated by the kids.
Daughter and Mom
Seriously, though...

It's the little things that matter most.

Like changing that extra diaper, or taking out the trash or cleaning the toilets...or even just saying, "Hey, why don't you take five minutes to pee or pluck your eyebrows or just B R E A T H E by yourself in complete silence without the pitter-pattering of little feet and screams demanding your attention every waking second of the day?"
Mom With Two Kids Under Two
Because at the end of the day, we [moms] are more than moms. We're women who are just trying to do our best day in and day out with the most important, rewarding and exhausting job in the world.

And sometimes we just want to know we're doing okay.

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