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Brownies & Strombolis

A few days ago my mother in law called me for a peanut butter icing recipe she could put on brownies. I found her the recipe and found me craving them!  So I grabbed a box of brownie mix at the store and got cooking. For the icing, I started to follow the recipe and then stopped because I thought it was already perfect. I mixed one stick of softened butter with one cup of peanut butter. Then I added the first of the two cups of powdered sugar the recipe called for. Once it was mixed in, I tasted it before adding the second and it was delicious!  So I just stopped. I didn’t add more sugar or the milk to thin it out. I didn’t need the milk because I didn’t use more sugar. So, my simple peanut butter icing recipe is:

  • 1 stick of softened butter
  • 1 cup of peanut butter
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar

Also this week we had easy, yummy, strombolis.  These are so easy and fun to make.  The kids like to put theirs together. They have fun filling them up. You can add whatever you like to them.

Here is what I use:

  • Crescent rolls
  • Shredded cheese (mozzarella, cheddar. . .)
  • Sliced black olives
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Tiny pepperoni

What you do it take 2 of the crescent rolls together (so they are a rectangle) and arrange your stuff on one side. I don’t put the sauce inside mine, I just like to dip them. Then fold them over and pinch them closed. I bake them at 350 for 10 minutes then flip them and bake for another 5. You don’t really have to flip them, but I like them browned evenly.

It can be done!  I am writing this for stay at home moms who think they can’t go back to school and take care of the kiddos, or anyone else who has thought about online schooling.

I am currently earning my bachelor’s degree for elementary education at the University of Phoenix. I also have four kids, one who stills  stay home with me. When I began, I still had two children home with me. Going back to school while they were still so young was not an easy decision to make. We were in a bad  situation where my husband lost his job, then became sick and had to be hospitalized. It was awhile before he found another job and even now he is not making half of what he used to. So, we lost everything. We lost our vehicle and our home. That is when I decided that I needed to do something. Working was out of the question. The cost of daycare would never be offset by the amount of pay I would bring in without a degree. I have always wanted to be a teacher and had a few courses right out of high school. Some of those credits transferred to the University of Phoenix and I was ready to roll!  The best part is that I will be finishing school right before my son is old enough to start school.

Classes are a bit pricey, I’m not sure how they compare to a “traditional” college though. However, my courses are covered by financial aid and I have had no out of pocket expenses. I receive grants and loans to cover my tuition. On occasion, my tuition is overpaid and I get money back from the school. This is how I got my laptop for school and then I am saving the rest. I plan to use it to put D in daycare when the time comes to do my student teaching.

Right now I have to observe classes on occasion. This is maybe one every two weeks or so. I have to have 100 hours done but I have over a year to complete them. Some of them relate to the course I am in. For example, I am interviewing a teacher about lesson planning and then observing her teach a lesson for my current course. On these days I have my mother watch D since I can plan them around my schedule.

There is a good bit of reading involved with these classes, but nothing unreasonable. The text books are all downloaded right onto my computer. Overall, the coursework is not overwhelming at all. I had to learn some time management skills, but there were a few courses I took at the beginning to help with that. I do not have to post every day, but there are some attendance requirements.

Some days it can be hard to juggle the kids, the house, and school. But overall online schooling has been great. I can take my laptop anywhere. Into the bedroom to hide from the kids and the noise, or all the way to PA on vacation. That’s right. I can go on vacation and not miss a day of school! I’m not going to say it is all easy though. I had nights were I had to stay up late to get a paper in on time or even make the decision to turn in a late assignment and take a penalty. I am almost always a little behind on my reading. But I have also turned in assignments early so that I could have a certain day “off.”  It is pretty easy to be flexible with online course.

I honestly think it is a great option for stay at home moms who are trying to find a way to go back to school. You won’t need to find daycare, leave the house, or even change out of your jammies. You can do your work during nap time (if my kid took on, anyway) or even include them. My oldest helped me out in my last math class. She was doing the same type of stuff in school at the time, so I would practice on her. I also show them fun lesson plans and get their feedback/reactions to lessons and activities. They are my own little guinea pigs. There is a huge upside to having children and learning to be a teacher. I know what kids like, what motivates them, and what just won’t work.

Feel free to ask me any questions about online schooling!  I will answer the best I can.

Making Bread

Yay! I got a bread machine for Christmas. I have been making bread like crazy. I can’t believe it is so simple. I just put in the ingredients, hit a button, and wait for my bread. I tried a few recipes that came with the machine, but my favorite have all come from Hillbilly Housewife. I especially love her recipes for honey wheat bread and Fred’s favorite rolls. I do have to bake the rolls myself, but they are delicious. I made them for burgers and sloppy joes and everyone loved them. I did find out yesterday that I do not like using the Express setting. Yes, I get bread in only one hour, but it is very yeasty. This machine will also mix dough for pasta and make jam! I can’t wait to try the jam setting. Homemade jam to put on fresh made bread. Yum!

*Huge sigh of relief* I am finally potty training my youngest. I am so ready for this! I can’t wait to be all done with diapers. No more poo and wiping and stinky diapers smelling up the house. No more money spent on diapers, wipes, rash cream, etc. It feels like the end of an era. My baby era. I always thought this would be sad, and after my third baby (when I thought she was the last) I was sad. No. I was devastated that she would be my last. That there would be no more new babies for us. But now, after the fourth kid, the opposite is true. I am so excited to move on to the next phase in life. No more spit up, diapers, crying, or drool. No more teething pain, diaper bags, pregnancy, or labor! Maybe now I can get my body back, or at least some resemblance of my old body. I can relax and enjoy my kids instead of being pregnant and cranky, tired from a newborn, or just busy with the baby.

New Year Goals

I have a few goals for this year and I thought I would share them. First I want to get a “new” car. I am hoping this happens pretty soon though, thanks to a nice tax return (fingers crossed). Most likely I will get another Expedition. Yes, I remember that my last one caught on fire. But that doesn’t change the fact that I loved it and they are easy to find at a good price. After that I want to build up our savings account a bit more. My second goal is to lose weight. For real this time! I broke my goals down to help me stay focused.

Save Money (for car, then for savings)

  • Do at least 25 ChaCha questions a day
  • $50 from each pay into savings
  • Any overtime, bonus, or on call pay goes right to the savings
  • Stick to our budget exactly
  • Only use CASH

Lose Weight/Be Healthy

  • Go to the gym every other day
  • Cut out the fast food
  • Stop drinking soda (occasionally diet)
  • Cook more healthy meals at home

My ChaCha goal was 50/ day but I quickly found out how hard that is with school starting again.  I have also taken my youngest out of day care for now. I don’t really need it every week and it seems pointless to pay for it. My mom is not working now and offered to watch him on the days I need to observe.

Bragging on me for a bit.

That’s right. This is MY blog and I’m going to brag about ME. If you want to read about how awesome my kids are (and they are) you can just go and read their blog. This one is mine.

I just aced another class! Go me! I can’t believe I waited so long to go back to school. My GPA is now 3.91, not too shabby. I have also been observing classes and talking with teachers. All while raising 4 kids and taking care of the house. I rock. I rock hard.

Almost Done!

We have been working hard on the kids’ playroom. It has been painted and carpeted. I moved in the furniture, got some shelves. It is looking good and the kids are loving it already. I only have ONE thing I want to do. I want to hang rain gutter bookshelves. I am going to buy them today! I’ll post some pictures after the room is done. I lost all the “before” pictures when my computer crashed. But, trust me, this room was a mess. It was just a storage room full of crap. Wait until you see it now!