Two pound bars

I take a lot of meals to banquets and potlucks. I think because I have high school age kids that have a sports banquet or team dinner every other week. Because of this I am always trying to think of something new and exciting to take. Who wants the same old brownies and store-bought cookies every time?

This was a recipe I got from a friend after she made it at a birthday party I went to. It was delicious! I made it for my son’s wrestling team and got requests from the majority of the moms for the recipe because their kids liked it so much. Score! So I will share it on my blog hoping it will make your kids as happy as it has made mine.  🙂

 

Start by mixing the dry ingredients with the melted margarine (or butter- you choose). This would be the first 6 ingredients in the recipe. It will come together in a crumbly texture, see below….

 

Once it looks like this you can press half of this into a 9×13″ pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. This brings the bar portion of the bars together so you can top and bake with toppings. When I make this for the football/wrestling teams I usually make 2 pans at a time or I get complaints that they were gone so fast my kids did not get any at home. So I make one for home and one for school.

Press and bake the crusts. After 10 minutes it comes out looking like this and  you an add the toppings. Top with chocolate chips, pour caramel over the top and sprinkle remainder of the oatmeal mix over chocolate and caramel. Put it back in the oven and bake an additional 20 minutes. Take out, let cool and VOILA’! The perfect bar! (My kids actually love to eat these warm and ooey gooey out of the oven)…

I am kicking myself because I did not get an “after” picture of what these look like when they are done but if you can imagine a crumble bar of chocolate, oatmeal and caramel that would be about spot on. They are awesome.

We are on ice and snow day #2 this week in Iowa and have been cooped up avoiding the cold. This would be the prefect treat that is quick to make while stuck at home. Here is the recipe to print and save. Enjoy!

Two Pound Bars

  • Servings: Twelve Bars
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

3 sticks margarine or butter melted

2 cups oatmeal

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

tsp salt

1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar

12 oz package chocolate chips

12.5 oz jar smuckers caramel topping

Mix first 6 ingredients above and pat half of mixture in 9×13″ pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips on and pour caramel over the top of the chips. Sprinkle rest of oatmeal mix on the top and bake another 20 minutes.

Hope you all are staying warm!

~Laura

 

Advertisements

Growing up.. thoughts on his last year…


Do you know what this is? This is a photo and a mother hugging her son after his last high school football game he will ever play. Standing by the bus to tell him I know he will miss it… but he has big things ahead of him. This is a mother who is giving her son a hug after watching him for the past 11 years go from flag football to middle school football to tackle football. This is a mother whose heart is breaking and at the same time is swelling with so much pride she doesn’t know what to say to her son. This is me. 

I am not wanting to wish things away.

 As you can see I have been pretty much absent since this summer. I am 100% positive this is because of the fact that I have a senior at home and I am wanting to enjoy every minute of his last days under my roof before we send him off for college. It’s not that I do not like to blog, and it is not that I don’t have topics I want to share… but it is more the fact that when I am not cheering him or his younger brother on from the stands at their MULTIPLE sporting events I am enjoying every moment of having him at home.

 We have done all the mandatory things parents of seniors need to do. Senior pictures have been taken, ordered and picked up. College visits done (I really should do a blog post on that!) a college has been chosen and his housing deposit has been sent in. I am on his prom planning committee and prom planning is full on in the works and is going forward full steam ahead.

I have been told many things as a parent of a child leaving the nest. I have been told the junior year is the hardest. I would actually agree because I think you spend the junior year worrying about what is to come and knowing that everything is the “last” of each event. Whereas the senior year you actually spend time enjoying it because it is their last of each thing.

 I have also been told that God in all his infinite wisdom prepares you for this next step by making the child spread his/her wings a little and they end up pushing back. This pulling away prepares you to give them a push. I would agree with this too. My son is becoming increasingly more independant in his thinking, in his actions and in his mindset. He is pushing back more than he ever has and in doing so… makes it easier for me to say “it is time for you to go”.

My mind set is shifting. I am seeing myself start to prepeare for weekend college visits to take my son to Target for essentials and out to eat. I see myself mentally shopping for his dorm and moving his old bedroom upstairs so my other son can have the coveted “basement bedroom”. I see myself shifting my mindset to “will he call?’ vs. “you must call”. I know the power is shifting into his hands. He will no longer NEED me to make decisions for him anymore. They are his own.

 Don’t get me wrong- I wish I could keep my kids at home with me forever. But I know that my job is to raise them to be smart, respectful, capable human beings. I know that I have to let go…. eventually… of the past little boys and girls that I have in my mind. Gone are the days of match box cars and sticky fingers, sippy cups and Teletubby videos. I have to force myself to look at my son as a young adult and not as a young man. But it is so tough to let go sometimes.

 So I apologize for my absence. It will get better I am sure when my time is not so focused on enjoying every moment. Until then hold your kids tight, tell them you love them and they are capable and enjoy the moment. It goes so very fast.

 Until next time-

 ~Laura

Texas Travel part II

Wow. Where HAVE I been???? I know I know, but it has been really hard to get on as much as I have wanted to. It seems like I got back from Spring Break in Texas and then travel basketball started and in a blink of an eye summer was here. So my apologies, but time has just gotten away from me. It happens.

So instead of a big long post all about our trip and how I felt about the whole trip you get a brief summary of the things I remember. Its the best I can do. But I know you busy moms out there in the same boat as me will understand. We got each others back, right?

“And Jesus Wept” statue at the Catholic Church across from the OKC bomb site and memorial. We visited here on Palm Sunday for mass

We started our trip by stopping to see the Oklahoma City bomb sight memorial on Palm Sunday. It was a neat time to go because we were able to attend mass at the Catholic Church across the street where we were able to parade in from the weeping statue of Jesus. Very moving. We did take the time to go through the museum at the site too- which was super beneficial especially to my older children who needed educated on what happened and how the memorial was developed. They obviously were born after the bombing, so needed an education and the museum helped tell the story.

Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial at Alfred P. Murrah building

 

Tyler taking in the view in downtown Dallas at our hotel- it had a basketball court!

We then travelled to Dallas where we were able to tour the JFK memorial plaza, Old Red Museum and stay downtown. We took the time to go to the 6th floor museum which I enjoyed a great deal. There was a long line but it was worth it and every person that goes through gets an audio tour which helps too. My daughter even had one so she enjoyed going at her own pace and I enjoyed the fact that I could actually listen without some one asking me at each stop what they were looking at.

Old Red Museum, Dallas Texas

 

Grassy Knoll area at JFK plaza Dallas, TX.

After Dallas we stopped at College Station to see my brother in law where he works at the airport. We were able to tour the control tower, see his plane (the flight we were going to take was cancelled due to extreme wind and fear of severe turbulance which would have scared the kids). We also got a private tour of Texas A &M Kyle Field (everyones favorite stop of the trip!!!) and took in a baseball game. So.much.fun.

With the good comes the bad though, and my 8 year old woke with a head to toe rash while we were there that subsequently turned into an urgent care visit. Turns out she is allergic to the penicillin based antibiotic she was on for strep throat. One steroid injection and oral steroids later she was discharged and able to go to NASA. No more penicillin for her!

Airplane Uncle Tom flies in College Station, TX

Touring Texas A&M Kyle Field in College Station, TX

The tunnel leading to the field the players run through … “It’s about us”

The Family

Taking in a baseball game at Texas A&M

After 2 days in College Station we headed further south to Houston. I have ALWAYS wanted to tour NASA and have always been fascinated with that era. Last summer I never missed an episode of the “Astronaut Wives Club” and read the book cover to cover in a week. It was neat to see the progression of the Saturn to Apollo Astronauts, the era of the Challenger and the last of the space shuttle program. I REALLY enjoyed NASA and was so glad we stopped and spent a day there.

Shuttle transported on back of a plane.

 

Saturn V rocket at NASA

Next stop was San Antonio and the riverwalk and Alamo. Bucket list item for me (not really for the kids) but I enjoyed the stop and was glad we went. It was fun to actually see the Riverwalk and the Alamo was a convenient stop while we were there.

The Alamo

 

San Antonio Riverwalk


On our way back to Iowa we made a stop in Oklahoma City to see family and I had to take a picture of the red dirt. Compared to the black dirt of Iowa, this was strange to see. Some times I look at dirt lie this and wonder how anything grows in it?

 

Red Dirt of Oklahoma

Riverwalk boat ride, one of the few pics I made it into. I love family trips…..

 

 

Houston roads, I am not in Iowa anymore

All in all I think our Texas roadtrip was a complete success. Thank you Texas and Oklahoma for all your hospitality. If you live in either of these states you live in beautiful country. I enjoyed the scenery, I enjoyed the company and I enjoyed the sights. I feel so fortunate to have been so many places in my lifetime. Have travelled the country and roadtripped all over this beautiful nation we live in.

Sorry my summary is so short- but it is so hard to summarize a weeks worth of wonderful memories into such a short post. I can say this- never am I happier than when I travel with my family. We truly leave the world at home behind, and enjoy every moment.

Until next time!

~Laura

Texas Travel part I

Well it is that time of the year again and we will be heading out for our usual spring vacation in a little over a month. Have I mentioned before that:

  1. I LOVE to travel and see new places and
  2. How much I love the process of planning for a new trip?

If you recall last year we headed to Florida… read my post on road trip preparation here Vacation preparation. We had such a great time road tripping there that we decided that this year we will again have a road trip vacation and are heading to Texas for a week. We have some parts planned and some not. Will have some overnight stays reserved and some not. The beauty of a road trip is that you can stop whenever and wherever you want and you get an opportunity to see so much of this beautiful country we call home. Nothing makes me happier than seeing new places, and since I have such a great respect for history, some of my favorite places are historical sights.

So the itinerary of what we plan to see so far is as follows!

Oklahoma City- I have planned to spend a night here and visit the historical sight of the Oklahoma City bombings. The link to the memorial is here: Oklahoma City Memorial

Dallas- Planning to stop by Cowboy Stadium even though there are no tours now as well as the Stockyards and JFK shooting memorial park. Links are here: JFK plaza and Fort Worth Stockyards

College Station- going to stop to see my brother-in-law and take the day from there.

Houston- stopping at the NASA space center and museum. Link is here: NASA Spacecenter

San Antonio- Riverwalk time! I have this on my bucket list and have been wanting to see it for years. Planning to see that and make a stop at the Alamo. Link is here: Alamo

So as you can see I am knee deep in the planning stages and I am so excited to report in after our travels are complete on everything we saw and experienced… I am so excited!

We have been so fortunate to have been able to take our kids on trips every year and have seen so many wonderful places since we have had them. Here is a list of places we have been in the past few years.. some have been with 2 of 3 kids, some after we had all 3, but we have fantastic memories from every trip we have taken.

*Paris, France (Clint and I on our honeymoon)

*Normandy and D-Day beaches (Clint and I)

*Atlanta, Georgia (multiple trips)

*Naples, Florida

*Orlando, Florida

*Phoenix, Arizona (multiple trips) and Grand Canyon

*Wisconsin Dells

*Cheyenne, Wyoming during the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo

*Skiing in Minnesota

*Mobile Alabama where we toured the USS Alabama

*South Dakota and all the points there to see (Mt. Rushmore, Devils Tower, Rapid City etc)

*Smokey Mountains in TN

*Nashville

*Washington DC

I have been to many other places pre-children as well and can tell you that in my opinion the best gift you can give your children is the ability to see the world. What a gift to say you have been all over our beautiful country! We have flown, driven, and can say our kids have road tripped all over the US. What a wonderful thing…

So as I prepare for our next journey – I will keep you posted along the way!

What places have you loved visiting? (I still need to get to the East Coast by the way- I have only been to Washington DC).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her boots….

Its a snow day today and we are home… so this means I can catch up on some blog posts that have been sitting in my partially completed file. You know the ones… you start and stop and start again and stop. This one was started this summer and never completed so my goal today is to get it DONE. (Don’t judge… but how embarassing is that?? How many months sitting in my draft folder? ouch.)

The duck taped boots held together by the end of the county fair 2015

 My daughter… she had these cowboy boots we bought at the Cheyenne Wyoming Frontier days celebration something like 2 years ago. They were her FAVORITE boots. Pink, just the right size (for a period of time) and she wore them every time she could. We finally had to retire them this past summer after she showed her grandparents dog at fair. They were taped up, held together from the sole on up and were wayyyy too small. They had literally travelled miles. I am sure… for her at least… it was hard to finally retire them.

Sitting on the fence at fair …..

 Addie wore these boots when she showed a sheep her first year at fair for Clover Kids and again at her 2nd pet show this past summer when she showed her grandparents dog at fair. (Side note- she did not show our dog, Cowboy due to his immense size, power, and inability to listen- not safe!) She wore them in Cheyenne, at her uncles farm, and with shorts, jeans and everything in between.

Nate and Addie in the ring, senior 4H’er and Clover Kid sibling

 I think after fair this summer we finally decided to leave them in the dumpster at the fairgrounds before we pulled out. She had worn them enough and she was ready to let go. There is nothing like a great pair of boots is there?! Amazing how much she loved those things. ALMOST as much as the pink pair her grandparents bought her with bright pink chaps two years before. Those are still here… I can’t let go of them they are just so darn cute.

So goodbye pink boots! Thanks for a couple great years…. now it’s time to go shopping.

~Laura

Year end wrap up-2015 🎉

What a year! Did I do everything on my list for the year? No… but I DID accomplish several things on my bucket list and I did meet some of my personal goals. This is a mark in the positive category for me for sure…

January start of the new year. New goals, new expectations, new resolutions. I set goals to read more, travel more and take more time enjoying my children. This was something important to me since I have one graduating in 2 years. And looking back.. I accomplished these goals and for that I am so proud of myself!

February- no new things accomplished. Surviving winter in Iowa. Made plans for spring break trip to Florida. Planning family trips in the last years with my children is such a huge thing for me. I want to share as much with them as I can before they are gone.

March- Spring brought new opportunities. We let Tyler try out for travelling basketball. A huge step for him. He LOVES the sport. The financial investment and time investment was a big one. Were we ready? Was he? I was so uncertain but wanted my son to have this opportunity. I let him try out… he made it. And this was a GREAT opportunity for him. He grew so much as a player having this opportunity.

We headed to Florida this month. Another longggg road trip for the family. Which is exactly.what.I.wanted. We needed another opportunity to bond over miles. We went to Florida for a week and I accomplished one major thing off my bucket list! I wanted to take my kids parasailing. We went together and it was without a doubt one of these once in a lifetime opportunities. I had a ball. The boys and I will never forget that time together.


 April- basketball ramps up. We start traveling team. Hours of practice and  back and forth drives. Clint starts a new planting season for farm management. He gets busier with work, I get busier with kids.


May- end of school, we start travelling. We head to Wichita, Kansas and Omaha Nebraska, Bellevue and Lincoln following Tyler and the Western Iowa Express Blue team in basketball. What a fun time. I absolutely love being my sons favorite fan.

June- Nate ramps up show season and starts showing cattle. We watch him show in the Junior Angus show on Facetime while sitting in the bleachers in Wichita. He does well. I am so proud of them both. Addie has dance recital and rocked it on stage as a ballerina and tap dancer! We start the summer of Iowa experiences! 


  
July- Lake time after basketball season wrapped up. Spent time boating and enjoying our family cabin at Twin. Nice to have time to hang out and have the boys’ friends to one of their favorite places on earth. This is a place we wish we had more time at. Lake time is where I spent my summers growing up. Tubing, skiing and 4th of July fireworks over the lake are some of my favorite memories. Fair time is here. Nate is busy showing steers. Addie and I are busy with Clover Kids. We camp at the fair all week.


August- super busy month. I head to Ohio with mom. Longaberger experience off her bucket list… and mine. Another new years goal accomplished. We accept and take in a foreign exchange student from Taiwan, football starts and school starts. We welcome Leo into our home just as we finish a full renovation to our bathroom (yes.. we hired someone who gutted and redid the upstairs bathroom- what a project!). Life starts to return to normal and other than a few stray tournaments… we wrap up travelling basketball season. Some camps are attended and I head back to work full time.

September- football season is in full swing and we are back on the road for both boys games. Addie starts up dance and we learn a new normal. September means getting accustomed to being back at work. It means Clint gets busier.. and so do the kids. We head to 8th grade football games for Ty, JV for Leo and Varsity for Nate. 3 nights a week at football.

October- Football wraps up and we have a breather before wrestling and basketball. Birthday season begins with Ty and Addie having parties. Ty had an overnight, Addie had a bowling party. Tyler turns 14 and (sigh) he starts to DRIVE. What a change. Time flies. Harvest is in swing and so Clint is busier. Leo experiences Harvest and rides in a combine.

  
 

November- big family wedding for Clint’s brother Chris. We spend 3 days in Des. Moines over Thanksgiving weekend. Leo starts.. and stops swimming. Nate starts wrestling and Ty starts travelling basketball and school basketball. Addie starts ballet, tap, tumbling and now a new addition… jazz. I head to a girls weekend in Nashville (what fun!).

December- we wrap up the year with a bang. We say goodbye to Leo… we decorate for the holidays and we look toward new year and new goals for the upcoming year.

  
I am wishing you much happiness, health, and love in 2016. Thanks for reading this quick recap of our year. We had such a good one!

~Laura

 

Easy Hamballs… A Family Favorite!

It’s a snow day!! a perfect day to cook a family favorite in our house. Pair this with a pan of cheesy potatoes and a veggie and you are set. My kids LOVE this recipe and it has become a fall favorite at our house. The basis of it is simple. You can make your own basic ham loaf mixture (or…. if you are like me, you drive to your local grocery store and buy theirs from the meat counter. HA!)

I have made this for my family literally a THOUSAND times. In Iowa we have a chain of grocery stores called Fareway. This is where I buy my ham loaf already made. Then I doctor it up. I have to give credit to the recipe for ham balls to Fareway though the butcher gave me the recipe on a recipe card one night when I was stewing over what to make for dinner. He simply said to modify their ham loaf recipe and make ham balls and “Voila!” here is the recipe all typed up on a card already. 🙂

So here you go! Enjoy!

Easy Ham Balls

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

3 pounds premade Hamloaf

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 can tomato soup

1/2 cup vinegar

1 TSP DRY mustard

1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar

Mix meat, milk, eggs and crackers together and form 18-20 small ham balls (or I make 12 large ham balls)

Place in large flat baking dish

Mix soup, sugar, vinegar and mustard together, Pour over hamballs

Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees uncovered

Serve and enjoy!

Recipe credit to Fareway Food stores meat counter

Find this at the February Country LINKed blog party at this link!

 February Country Fair blog party!