Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Andrew's Favorite Meatballs

Andrew's faaaaavorite meal is meatballs.  Yep, it's a one food meal.  He loves them.  In fact, on Sunday I made two pounds of meatballs in the crock pot to keep in the freezer for those nights when I  know he's not gonna eat what I've made for dinner.  On Sunday Little Man ate 7 meatballs. 

I also love these meatballs because they are easy.  Sooooo easy.  And, they are pretty darn healthy.  Here, try them out:

Andrew's Favorite Meatballs

1 lb of ground beef
1/4 cup of whole wheat Italian breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 tbsp. milk
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce {we like Prego Heart Smart sauce}

Mix together the beef, breadcrumbs, egg, and milk.  Mix it good.  With a fork and maybe even your hands.  Form this mixture into balls {you can decide on the size that you like your balls...ummm...meatballs}.

Now, I like to use the crock pot liners so that I can keep my new crock pot nice and shiny.  So, place the meatballs in your crockpot.  Pour the spaghetti sauce over the meatballs.  Turn your crock pot to high and cook for 3 hours.  Done.  Easy, right?

{Sorry, the boys were so eager to eat on Sunday, I didn't catch a pic of the finished meatballs.  I couldn't get them dished up fast enough!}

Enjoy your meatballs over pasta with some fresh grated parmesan cheese.  Add a salad, some garlic bread, and maybe even a glass of wine...or apple juice...since this is Andrew's favorite meal.

Sooooo good.  Sooooo easy.  Just how I like it!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Funnies

Okay, so we've been stuck in the house ALL weekend long.  We had a dad getting over the most miserable flu and a boy who {excuse my language} puked all night long on Friday and into Saturday morning and this means that we were pretty much quarantined to the house for the whole weekend.  

Sounds like a fun time, huh?

Here's why I {kinda} had fun this weekend:

In between the constant vomiting, the husband with a fever and chills, the little brother who only wants his Momma {no matter what...like, really, even when I'm going to the bathroom, little guy wants me to hold him}, an empty kitchen {we didn't even have any dog treats left...Bella was peeved}, what seemed like hundreds of loads of laundry to wash the germs {and 6 vomit sessions} off of the sheets, blankets, and pillows, yes, in between all of this....there were a couple of funny moments when I just had to stop feeling sorry for us and laugh.  Because that's what you gotta do.

1) Parker has this thing for always wanting to play Lego Batman.  And, this weekend, when he just didn't feel up to playing Lego Batman, I found some old Power Rangers shows on Netflix for him to watch.  Big guy loved them.  And, as I was doing the dishes today, I heard him say to himself: 'That guy thinks she is hot.'  Ummmm...Excuse me?!  What did my five year old just say?!  HOT.  Really?!

So, I stopped what I was doing and {trying really hard not to crack up}, I asked Parker: 'What did you say?'

He replied {with a silly grin}: 'Mom, this guy on here, he thinks that pink Power Ranger is hot.'

I heard it right the first time.  I acted like I didn't know what that meant and said: 'What does that mean, like does it mean she's on fire?'

Parker: 'No Mom.  It means he thinks she's pretty.'  Brother knows his stuff.

I had to ask him what any mother would ask: 'Is there anyone that you think is hot?'

Parker: 'Ew.  No way.'  That's my boy.

{This is one of two photos I took over the weekend...yes, I think Andrew was picking it.}

2) Andrew has this thing he says when he needs help.  I think he's saying 'help me', but it sounds more like: 'ewwwlepmeeeee'.  All one word.  In a very high screeched, whiney, screaming voice.  Every time.  No matter what.

And, because I was a super tired Momma all day today, every time he'd screech this out, I would go to him and help him find a way to do it himself...which is better anyways, right?

Andrew wanted to turn the lights on and was standing under the switch screaming, 'weeelepmeeeee', so I grabbed his little stool from the bathroom and I showed him how to use the stool to reach the light switch.  Genius, right?

Here's the funny part.  Little Bro managed to haul that little stool all over the house to turn on all of the lights.  And then Little Bro went around and turned all of the lights off.  Making it pretty dark in the house.  No biggie, we'll just turn the lights back on.

Good try.  That little stinker would was like the light police.  I turned on the kitchen light to make dinner. Andrew turned it off.  Parker turned the light on to go to the bathroom.  Andrew followed him in to turn it off.  Brandon went downstairs to work at his computer.  Andrew picked up that red stool and plopped it down under the switch to turn the lights off.

{This is the other photo.}

I love him.

Our weekend may not have been full of fun memories or happy family moments, but at least I've got these two to hang onto.  Gotta love these little guys...even when they are laying in your bed, puking all over.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Little Things

Sometimes it's the little things in this life that make you stop in your tracks and thank the Big Guy up above for all of the blessings in this world of ours.

Last night was a crazy, packed, busy night....spaghetti dinner fundraiser, gymnastics, running, trip to DQ after gymnastics, KU game {Rock Chalk!}, baths, snacks, and bed time.  But, somewhere in between all of this running around, we had some time to just play.  To just be home.

And this is what made me stop, take a deep breath, relax for a minute, and shout out some thanks to the Guy up above...

Batman, Toy Story, Ninja Turtles, and {of course} Star Wars toys all over the play room.  I love having little boys.  I love their imagination that can put all of these characters into the same scene to battle it out.  I love it because it means I have two happy, healthy, brothers that like to play together...even if Parker believes Toy Story is for babies and Andrew is scared of Star Wars.  I just love it.

I am so thankful for these little things.

Happy Wednesday, my friends!  I hope today is busy and full of meaningful activity, but that you also have a few minutes throughout your day to stop and count all of the little blessings in your life.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Hardest Goal

I gave myself 10 goals this year.  Well...in reality, one of those goals is like 200 all in one.  I did get a head start on it and it's something that's always been lurking in the back of my mind, but this is the year that I decided we would work really really really hard at cutting out over processed foods.  

We've always been big on fresh fruits and veggies.  We've been on again, off again consumers of local, organic, grass-fed beef.  My Mom gives us farm fresh eggs from her chickens.  I've always been an 'Ingredient Reader' and I like to know what we're putting in our mouths.

But, in reality, we eat fruits and veggies because we like them.  We bought local, organic, grass-fed beef because it was fun to know where I was buying it {not because I knew about all of the health benefits}.  I like free eggs.  And, although I read the label, it didn't always mean I put the Cheeto's back on the shelf after realizing they had around 30 ingredients...half of which I can't pronounce.  

About a year ago I started reading this blog.  I was pretty inspired by their story and totally jealous of this mom who had all of this time to really work at this.  I kept following and reading her stories....the information she put out about some of the food we eat is pretty gross, disturbing, scary, and life-changing, but the ONE thing that put me over the edge was this: Children today have a lower life expectancy than their parents, simply because of the food they eat.

Yep, that puts it into perspective.

At about this same time {which was around three months ago}, Parker stopped wanting fast food {can I get an amen!}.  He said it smelled funny.  Because I completely agreed with him, we decided to stop eating fast food.  Also at about this same time, I started reading up on what all of these crazy ingredients in our food do to our bodies, which of these ingredients are actually banned in other countries, the major major health benefits to eating grass-fed beef, eating organic foods, eating free-range chicken eggs and organic chicken, cutting out hormones in meat and in cows that produce milk, etc.  Let me tell you, it made me want to make a huge change in our lives.

So, three months ago, I made some minor changes.  We started only eating local, grass-fed beef.  I started buying organic milk, eggs, and other produce {which isn't easy in Ottawa, KS}.  I REALLY read the ingredients on our food....and I made some little changes because of that.  We switched the brand of bread we normally buy to one that had sugar as one of the last ingredients {instead of high-fructose corn syrup as one of the top ingredients}, we stopped buying pre-made frozen waffles and pancakes, no more frozen pizzas, and I even managed to convince Andrew that the Annie's chocolate bunnies were waaaaay better than any Hershey Kiss.

And, do you know what happened?!  Since the day I decided to do this {knock on wood}, my kids have not been sick.  They've had more energy.  They ask for healthy snacks and 'treats'.  At the grocery store, they ask for Cuties and fresh Pineapple over fruit snacks and sugary cereal.  Parker likes my homemade pizza {with whole wheat crust} better than other pizza.  And, Andrew has literally become my little meatball {with whole wheat bread crumbs} because that's his favorite meal.  They now have a taste for the healthy stuff!

While I know we haven't even touched the surface of what we need to do with our eating habits, just by making these minor changes, I can see the impact it has on my kids and their health.  And, I feel good about it.  So, this goal of mine....there's so much more we can do this year to improve and continue on this challenge to eat more 'real food'.  And, everyday I feel like we find a new way to cut something bad out of our diet and replace it with something that is actually good for us and serves a purpose for our bodies.

I firmly believe that there's no way my family will be able to cut everything that's not 'real' out of our diet, but I'd like to come close.  So, wish us luck this year, and if you have any advice, tips, or recipes to share, please do so!  I'd love to know what other families are doing to bring 'real food' back into their lives.

I'm going to leave you with some photos of our favorite foods....and keep in mind that we live in Small Town, USA...where there's not many options for buying groceries.  I am trying to buy organic, but when that's not possible, we get the next best thing by looking at the ingredients.

{We've used this to make muffins, pancakes, and pizza crust.  It's quickly become a staple at our house!!}

{MJ Ranch is a local ranch in Lawrence.  Their beef is 100% grass fed, organic, and super fresh.  Have you ever looked into the processing that goes into the beef you buy at your local super store?  You can see the difference in this meat...and taste it.}

{While this bread still has more ingredients on its' list than I like, it's the ONLY loaf of bread at our local superstore that didn't have sugar or HFCS in the first five ingredients.  I would love to be able to make our own bread - it's something I am going to do this year.}

{This is the milk we've been buying.}

{This is one of the boy's new favorite snacks.  Brandon and I have always loved Edamame and a few months ago we introduced it to Parker and Andrew.  They liked it!}

{Our favorite peanut butter!  The ingredients: Peanuts, Oil, Sugar.  That's it.}

{The 'better-than-a-hershey-kiss' chocolate bunnies that Andrew loves.}

{Andrew's favorite: Bananas, Parker's favorite: Cuties....I especially like the new fruit bowl I picked up at a local antique store!}

This is by far our hardest goal this year, but it's a life change that will actually prolong our lives.  I am so excited about this adventure {and a little nervous too} and I am looking forward to finding new ways to eat 'real'.  Here's to our hardest goal and to changing the little things to make life better for our kids!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Goals for 2013

Okay, now that I've read all of your 'goals' for 2013, I am dying to share mine.  Yep, that's right, I don't have just one goal {now, what kind of overachiever would I be with just one goal}, I've got a list of 10 that I want to share.

But, first things first....I haven't shared any pics from our New Year's Eve bash!

Every year {since I can remember}, Brandon and I have spent New Year's Eve at home - oh, except for that year we were in Colorado with my family and went to that super scary bar in Leadville, CO.  We both get nervous on New Year's about the weather, crazy drivers {our own ability to drive after some good champagne and sleepiness}, and we love bringing in the New Year in simple ways with simple traditions.

So, this year, we {kind of at the last minute} decided to invite a few friends over, make some fondue, order pizza, buy some sparkling grape juice, and have a 'kid-friendly' New Year's Eve party.

It was fun and a little crazy, and we loved every minute of it.

Parker helped me decorate for the party.  Andrew helped pick out the decorations.  We had so much fun with it and I can't wait to do this again next year!

Idea: Blow up a bunch of balloons and fill up a couple of big trash bags.  Then, hang the trash bags from the ceiling to drop at midnight.  Reality: Not enough time before the party.  Dads who thought the Moms were crazy for having this idea.  Kids who just wanted to play and weren't worried about balloons.

I love this group of kiddos {and the siblings that were down playing with trains}.  I hope to have these friends over on New Year's Eve for many many years to come!

Fondue was a hit with Parker!!

I think Parker and Sydney were starting to get tired....

How many glasses {of wine} did you have, Joy?

At midnight {okay, it was really 10:30}, we took the older kids outside to make some noise for the New Year...

It was freezing cold, snowing, and the pots and pans we just had to take out to make some noise ended up being used like buckets to build snow castles...

Playing games!

Where the guys spent most of their time...

It was the perfect New Year's Eve and start to the New Year!

Now, onto The Riffel Family Goals for 2013:

1. Live in the Moment.

2. Run a Half Marathon. {This one is just for me - and my bestie- but it takes the whole family to make it possible!}

3. Cut out over-processed, sugar infused foods and buy organic, local, healthy {and yummy} foods. {More on this later.}

4. Be nicer to my husband {This one's just for me also!}.

5. Be in more photos.  {More on this later also.}

6. Visit Mount Rushmore.

7. Send Parker off to Kindergarten.

8. Potty Train Andrew.

9. Read more.

10.  And....drum roll....{ha ha, not really}, live and love life to the fullest each and every day!  If there's one thing that 2012 taught me, it's that life doesn't last forever.  Each day needs to be lived like it were your last {okay, this is probably impossible....but, you get what I'm sayin'}.  We are going to make sure we tell our family and friends everyday just how much we love and cherish them.

There you have it.  Now, you must hold me accountable.  Just kiddin'!

I hope that you all find ways to improve your life this year and I've enjoyed reading your goals for 2013 - I may have even taken a few of them on as my own.

Best wishes for you and your families in 2013 {even if it is already January 16th}!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I'm trying to bring the healthy back into breakfast at our house, so I decided to experiment with whole wheat flour and bananas...and at the last minute, I threw in some chocolate chips.  So Yummy!  Who knew this {for the most part} healthy recipe would be so good?!

Try it for yourself...

1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (about 2 medium-sized bananas)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup miniature milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Mix together the bananas, brown sugar, milk, vegetable oil, and egg.  Add flour, baking powder and salt.  Fold in the chocolate chips {eat a few...give your kids a handful}.  Spoon batter into greased muffin pan or use paper liners.  Sprinkle the tops with the granulated sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 16 minutes.  {Makes 12 or so.}
It's sooooo easy.  And, did I mention it's really good with a cup of coffee?  And kid friendly!


Saturday, January 12, 2013


 And the winner is...

Drum roll....

Kasey!  Or, Aunt Kasey as she is most commonly known at our house!

I told Parker that Aunt Kasey would be giving him extra hugs the next time we see her.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this give away.  This blog was never intended to be a way to get the Riffel name out there.  It started out as a way for us to remember the big and little moments and share them with our family.  But, it's turned into a fun way for me to express my thoughts as a Momma and a way for me to tough the lives of both friends and family.  With more than 400 views in the past week, I know that people are enjoying this little blog of ours and I am so thankful for Michelle at PolkaDaisy for this gift to giveaway!

I enjoyed reading all of your 'goals' for 2013.  I loved how most of them centered around family and taking better care of ourselves.  I will be sharing some of mine later today and they are very similar to what you all shared.

Aunt Kasey just happens to have two of the cutest boys in the world {along with mine, of course}, so I know her necklace will be similar.  All you need to do is email Michelle at service@polkadaisy.com and give her the names, birthdays, and other personal information that you'd like on your necklace.

And...for all of you ladies out there who didn't win...make sure you hint to your husband that this Valentines Day, you'd like a custom piece of jewelry from PolkaDaisy!!  Enter the code RIFFEL at checkout to receive 15% off!

I couldn't leave Andrew out of this post!  He's just too darn cute!

Have a great weekend my friends!

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Mommy Bling & A Giveaway!

I know I've got a lot of catching up to do.  But, this post is waaaaaay too important for any old story I might write about on any plain old day.

Know why?

This just happens to be our 500th blog post!

Woot!  Woot!

{Que party horns, singing, and fireworks!}

And, because of this momentous occasion, I {along with a new friend} have a little surprise for you....

Oh, but first I need to stop for a minute and give my hubs some major props.  He totally outdid it this year for Christmas.  Long gone are the days where I would stuff my own stocking full of goodies just so the boys would think Momma had been a good girl {how many of you Moms out there do this?}.  Nope, none of that this year.  He did it all and somehow he figured out how to do it all without me finding out about any of it.  Sneaky guy.

I loved every second of this Christmas where Momma got everything she asked for.

But my favorite.  Oh, my favorite part of Christmas this year was nothing that I'd asked for.  It was a surprise.

A beautiful, hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind gift.  Something so thoughtful and meaningful that it made me cry when I opened it.

A hand-stamped necklace made by the talented Michelle at PolkaDaisy.

It is ahhhhmazing and one of my favorite parts about this necklace is that Michelle lives in Ottawa!  Yep, that's right, Brandon didn't scour the Internet to find this beautiful piece of jewelry, he found a local artist/jeweler/creator and shopped local.  Now, that's my kind of guy!

I love my new Mommy Bling!


Okay, now to the exciting part!!  Brandon may have mentioned this little blog of ours to Michelle when he ordered the necklace.  And, after a few emails with Michelle, she said that she would love to help us celebrate our 500th post by giving us a necklace to give away on the blog!

Here's the deal:  We are giving away a custom necklace just like mine {only, of course, yours will be personalized}!!  Pretty awesome, right?!  All you need to do is:

1) Go to PolkaDaisy's Facebook page and like it. Oh, and check out all of the amazing jewelry Michelle can make!

2) Start following this blog {if you're not already}.

3) Leave a comment below telling me a goal that you have for the new year.

Then, check back on Saturday {January 12th)  and we'll announce the winner {we will throw your name in a hat and have P and A draw for it}!

See, easy peasy lemon squeezey {as Parker would say}!

Good luck!  I hope you win some new Mommy {or Grandma or Aunt} Bling!

Happy Monday!

Oh, and Happy 500th Blog Post to us!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Rock Chalk!

It's another right of passage for the Riffel/Davies families.  Trips to Allen Field House to cheer on the Jayhawks.

So, when Brandon and I decided that this was the year for Parker, I got my tail in gear and started scouting out tickets....stubhub, Craigslist, Ebay....none of them seemed to have what we wanted for our little man's first KU basketball experience.

Remembering that friends of ours have season tickets and that they traveled for the holidays, gave me an idea.  I thought I'd give it a shot...low and behold, our generous friends were out of town, had no one using their tickets, and thought Parker and Brandon should have them...we didn't realize how amazing these tickets were.

Seriously, Row 5?!

There's something magical about Allen Field House.  In my opinion, it's magical all of the time {even during those Dog Days workouts...my high school friends know what I'm talkin' about}, but it's especially wonderful during basketball season.  The chant.  Waving the Wheat.  Big Jay and Little Jay.  The chills you get as they announce the players.  The band.  The history.  The love of the sport.  It is absolutely amazing.

And, thanks to our friends, my little man {and big man} got to experience Parker's first game in incredible seats, and they had an incredible time.  This will be something they never forget.  Parker's first trip to Allen Field House....his first trip to see the Jayhawks.

Rock Chalk!