Monday, February 29, 2016

February Meeting Recap: Noticing Goodness

February is the month when LOVE is on our minds and for this month's meeting we focused on Noticing Goodness in our marriages.  We not only talked about marital love, but we also tried think about ways to show love to those in our community with information on a local service opportunity and a special project our moms completed at the meeting.  Below is a quick recap.

Service Opportunity

A representative from the United Way came and spoke to our group about their Weekend SnackPack program.  This wonderful program provides needy children with a bag of child-friendly, ready-to-eat foods on Friday to take home for the weekend, when school meals are not available. Children return to school on Monday, well-fed and ready to learn.  Opportunities exist for volunteers to assemble the weekend snackpacks and for a just $32 you can provide a box of snackpacks that will feed 8 children for a weekend.  Click here for more info.  The spring fundraising campaign ends March 31st.


And this month brought the return of the famed MOPS Man Panel, a.k.a. the MANEL.  Four brave husbands took the stage to answer questions about love, marriage and the baby carriage!  These men shared with honesty and humor, and we appreciate their wisdom.  Special thanks to Luis, Joe, Tom & Tim for sharing husbands' perspectives with our group!  

Here are a few takeaways moms shared after the meeting: 
  • I loved that Tom mentioned they need guy time like we need girl time. I have never thought of what it would be like without my kid free time. I am definitely going to make this happen for my husband! 
  • I loved that Tim was there to bring his experience of parenthood and marriage. I am so encouraged by couples who have overcome obstacles in their marriage and are still together years later! This resonates deeply with me. I don't want to be one of those couples in 15 years when the kids are gone, that doesn't even know the man I am married to.
  • What stuck out to me was about being intentional in our marriage, and carving out mum and dad time can also happen with the kids around.
  • Loved MOPS today!  Just a few things I learned... Time flies even when we think it will never end, my husband does in fact like to see me naked, nagging my husband may not get him to change the air filter but prioritizing it to him will, and lastly, always stop and make a little extra time for your kids and husband!    

Service Project

We assembled "Blessing Bags" at our meeting.  The idea is simple:  Put together a bag full of useful items that you can keep handy in your car so that when you see someone in need you can instantly provide them with a tangible expression of love.  Although some might think the term Blessing Bags applies only to the recipient, we're pretty sure both the giver and the receiver will be blessed!  Here is a list of ideas for what to include in a gallon size Ziploc bag - you can use this list as a starting point or make your own.   
  • water bottle
  • pack of gum
  • deodorant
  • mini first aid kit
  • protein source (beef jerky, trail mix, protein bar)
  • granola bar (or other snack food)
  • tube of lip balm
  • pair of socks
  • toothbrush & tooth paste
  • Bible &/or tract
  • list of local resources for homeless (shelters, soup kitchens, etc.) 


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Guest Blog Post: Medicine for a Mom's Soul (by Jenny Pray)

We mamas have a lot of insight & wisdom to share with each other.  Nobody understands the struggles and triumphs of motherhood better than those who are in the same boat.  So in the next few weeks we will be featuring some guest posts here on our Anderson MOPS blog from some of our dear mommy blogger friends.  We hope you enjoy some wonderful, heartfelt writing and maybe a laugh or two along the way!  




Today we feature a post from a blog called "Mommy Identity Crisis" by our very own Jenny Pray.  Click here to be directed to her blog to read more - Thanks for sharing Jenny!    



Medicine for a Mom’s Soul

There is a voice that inhabits every mother’s head. It is a voice of shame and doubt, and it points a finger inward, berating us for all our shortcomings. Today you slacked off, it whispers. Today you made mistakes. Today you were less than the mom that you could be if you would only try harder. 

One way to drown out the voice.

I catch myself listening to that voice all too often. When, for a third consecutive day, I allow my five-year-old to watch a movie while the other children nap: You should be playing with her. When I use the time when they are playing in the bathtub to check Facebook: They’ll think you love screens more than you love them.  When a load of laundry sits in the washer, clean, for so long that it begins to smell like pond water:  Why did you quit your paying job if you can’t handle something as simple as putting clothes into the dryer?  And on the hardest days, when the baby is sick and I don’t bother showering because she’s going to keep wiping her snot on my anyway, when I can see clearly the crumbs on the kitchen counter and hear the dog whining because I forgot to feed him breakfast, when the older girls have decided that today they will be partners in defiance, giggling while they refuse to brush their teeth, it is so easy to let the voice consume me. You are failing, you are failing, you are failing.

It isn’t about silencing the voice. She is undeniable, a part of you. She is a side-effect of the sacrificial love that makes you a mother. She wants you to give everything you have, to dig always deeper, because your children are everything and you are nothing. She will never stop telling you this. And you know that, in some ways, it is true. Could you ever feel whole without them? Wouldn’t you die for them?

After the rain comes so much sweetness.

It takes incredible strength of mind and spirit to rise above the instinct of self-blame and to begin to forgive your own shortcomings. When I am feeling weak, I seek peace in the mundane, which is also a gift: Blue sky after three days of rain. The oh-so-sweet bitterness of a good cup of coffee. A book I can’t put down. Homemade bread, toasted, with butter and a touch of honey. My mother-in-law brought a loaf by the house yesterday, because she knows how much I hate preservatives. A hot shower, when the opportunity arises. Deep breaths of outdoor air. Watching a small brown-green lizard creep along the railing of my back porch, hunkered down against the gusting wind. I sympathize with her- I’ve been there. Let’s be honest, I am there.

I take comfort in the company of the people who love me. My wild “big” girls and my poor, snotty baby, who cried all night and is now napping in her car seat, the door to the garage propped open so I can attend to her when she wakes. My husband, the partner of my life, my fellow lizard in the wind. The friends who will take a fussy child from my arms and hand me a glass of wine. The friends who will say a prayer for me, even though we both know that this is just what motherhood looks like. It is not, however, no matter what the voice in my head tells me, what failure looks like.

Motherhood is a practice, not an art to be perfected. When I manage to make it to yoga class, my instructor always uses the words, “Wherever you are in your yoga practice today.” I need to start thinking of motherhood that way. Some days I will be more flexible than others. Some days will take me to the edge of what I think I can endure, even beyond. Some days I will fall off balance, but I will forgive myself. I will bring myself, all of myself, the flaws and complications, back to the mat to try again.

The voice is wrong. Where there is love, there is no failure. Life – all of it, the crumbs, the snot, the whining dog and gleefully naughty children – is beautiful. My life is beautiful. It is not too much. It is not less than enough.  Try as hard as I might, it will never be perfect. I think I can live with that.


Jenny Pray recently made the transition from full-time teacher to stay at home mom and part-time blogger. She mostly writes about parenting, because as much as she tries to do other stuff with her time, that's mainly the only thing she's able to do. Parent.

Find more of her writing at

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tasty Tuesday: Easy Pasta Bake

Confession:  I don't love cooking. 
Eating - yes.
Shopping, cooking, cleaning up - no. 

So recipes like this one are my "cooking bff's"... 
Only 5 ingredients and voila! A home cooked meal!


one jar spagetti/marinara sauce
one jar alfredo sauce
one full box pasta (corkscrew or penne work well)
one pound Italian sausage (or you can make a meatless version)
1 -2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


Prepare pasta as directed on box.  While pasta is cooking, brown and drain sausage and then mix together with BOTH jars of sauce.  Stir in cooked pasta and put mixture in a 9 x 13 pan.  Sprinkle shredded cheese on the top and cook @ 350 degrees for 25 minutes. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

February MOPS On The Town

This month our kiddos did something sweet for others!  Last week a group of MOPS mamas and kids visited The Legacy senior adult community to deliver handmade Valentines cards to the residents.  We're not sure who was blessed more - the residents or our MOPS group!  Special thanks to the Legacy for hosting us! 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tasty Tuesday: Sticky Sesame Chicken

recipe & photo source

Here's a recommendation from Margaret... looks delicious!


1 1/2 to 2 pounds frozen popcorn chicken
6 Tablespoons honey
4 Tablespoons ketchup
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons white distilled vinegar
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
Green onions
Sesame seeds


Cook popcorn chicken as directed on package.  In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together honey, ketchup, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and salt and pepper.  Bring sauce to a boil while stirring and simmer for a few minutes until sauce slightly thickens.  Toss cooked chicken in sauce and serve over rice.  Garnish with green onion and sesame seeds.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tasty Tuesday: Homemade Guacamole

photo source
Y'all.  Homemade guacamole is easy peasy.  And not only does it take your "Mexican Monday" or "Taco Tuesday" to a whole 'nother level of tastiness, it's also cheaper and fresher than store bought.  After a few years of living in California and trying MANY different guacamole recipes, I eventually settled on this simple and delicious method of making guacamole.  Hope you enjoy!


-  2 RIPE** avocados - (you can use one if you only want to make a little, or more if you have a huge crowd of guac lovers)
-  McCormick Brand California Style Garlic Powder with Parsley (for some reason it just tastes better than regular garlic powder)
-  Lime Juice (fresh or from concentrate - either works)
-  Lawry's Seasoned Salt

**Avocados are ready for use when they will yield to gentle pressure when squeezed.  Most of the time the ones you find in the store are too hard to use right away and will need to ripen for a day or two on your counter.  You can put them in a paper bag to hurry the ripening process if needed (or refrigerate avocados that you don't want to ripen any further) but don't even try to use avocados that are rock hard.  It's just not happening sister.


Cut avocados lengthwise and remove pit by whacking your knife so that it's stuck in the pit and then twisting sideways.  Cut avocado halves lengthwise again and peel off skins.  Put in medium size bowl and liberally sprinkle on the garlic powder and lime juice, then add a few dashes of the seasoned salt.  Mash and stir with fork until you achieve the desired consistency.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.  

You can mix in pico de gallo or any combination chopped up tomatoes, onion, cilantro or jalapenos but it's actually quite good without any additions.  Totally up to you! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tasty Tuesday: Superbowl Desserts

There are like 1,000,000 recipes on the Pinterest for Super Bowl party food.  Or more.  But why not highlight some desserts?  Here are some simple and scrumptious desserts for all to enjoy!

Strawberry Footballs

recipe/photo source


12 strawberries
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
Small tube of white decorative icing


1. Wash strawberries and pat dry.
2. Pour chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. Place in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. If not melted, microwave for 30 more seconds. Stir again.
3. Dip strawberries into melted chocolate and lay neatly on wax paper to cool.
4. Use icing to decorate your strawberries like footballs.
5. Place in refrigerator to harden…or eat immediately.

Serves 4-6 but if you want more strawberries, make more.

S'mores Dip

recipe/photo source


One 10 oz. bag regular marshmallows
One 12 oz. package milk chocolate chips
One box honey graham crackers


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Spread the entire bag of milk chocolate chips around evenly in the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate or cast iron skillet.
3. Cut approximately 20-22 marshmallows in half widthwise and place them, cut side down, on top of the chocolate chips until the chips are fully covered. I started with a circle of marshmallows around the outside edge, then worked inward.
4. Bake the dip at 450 degrees for 6-8 minutes. Keep a close eye on the dip, and remove it from the oven when the tops of the marshmallows are golden brown.
5. Serve at once with quartered graham crackers for dipping.

Serves a crowd of 8-10 people…if they’re willing to share.

Cake Batter Blondies

recipe/photo source


  • 1 box yellow or vanilla cake mix
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 -1/2 cup milk (less is better)
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.  Spray 11x7 baking pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine first four ingredients in a large bowl. Add the milk slowly. You want to cake batter to be as dense & thick as possible. Mix in the sprinkles and white chocolate chips.  Pour into prepared baking pan, sprinkle a few more sprinkles on top, and bake for 25-30 minutes until edges are just turning brown.
  3. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes so the center sets, before cutting into squares.
  4. Make ahead tip: Blondies remain fresh up to 2 weeks stored covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Blondies freeze well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Additional Notes:

The blondies will look like they are not fully done because the center will be quite gooey, but that’s what you want! After about 30 minutes of cooling, they will be easy to cut using a serrated knife.

Ice Cream Football Sandwiches

photo/recipe source


  • Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Wooden Spoons
  • White cake icing
  • Optional: Chocolate sprinkles


  1. Using a Sharpie, draw football plays, referee stripes or team colors on wooden spoons
  2. Unwrap your ice creams and lay them on a sheet of wax paper or in Rubbermaid container
  3. Pierce one end of the ice cream with a knife so that your wooden spoons can be inserted easily later
  4. Cut the edge of resealable bag, spoon in icing and pipe football design
  5. Place in Rubbermaid container and freeze until guests arrive.
  6. Insert wooden spoons, sprinkle container with chocolate sprinkles (to finish the look) and serve.
Tip: If you serve them at halftime and they’re hard frozen, they should last the full 30 minutes!

Mini Banana Cream Cookie Pies

photo/recipe source


1 (16.5-ounce) roll Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookies
1 (3.4-ounce) box banana cream pudding, prepared according to package directions and chilled
1 banana
whipped cream for topping


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 24-cup mini muffin tin. Divide sugar cookie dough into 24 even pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place dough in prepared muffin tin cups.
Bake dough until golden brown and set, about 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and use the bottom of a shot glass to make depressions in each cup, if necessary; cool 10 minutes. Using a butter knife, carefully remove cookie cups from muffin tin. Transfer cookie cups to a cooling rack and cool completely.
Spoon a generous teaspoon of chilled pudding into the center of each cookie cup. Slice banana into 24 slices and place on top of pudding. Top with a dollop of whipped cream.