Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas To You!

Our Christmas Card Collage of 2012

Wishing you a blessed and safe Christmas ... 
may you be warm and well fed (as my hubby likes to say).

I'll be taking a little blogging break while I spend time down in the Chicago area visiting extended family for the holidays.

May the Lord Bless You and Keep You!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Saying Goodbye to "An Old Friend"

Our Sweet Buca Kitty 

For the past almost 18 years, this beautiful gray kitty has been such a sweet part of my life. In fact, I often would call him "my little shadow". Buca loved to follow me around wherever I would go. From the first night I took him home and he slept curled up in the crook of my neck, he made his way into my heart.

As the years went by, I would always say a little prayer of thanks to the Lord for such a wonderful cat and prayed that when it was his time to pass, it would be peaceful. This cat was truly the sweetest and most mellow cat I have ever known. He didn't have a mean bone in his body. He was always such a gentleman and loved cuddling and craved affection.

The day came almost 6 months ago after he'd become so skinny, that the vet diagnosed him with an inoperable mouth cancer and I knew we had little time left. Amazingly, he endured these last months true to his nature. No matter how much pain he was in, he would still follow me around everywhere, always seek affection, always jump into your lap for some cuddles and maintained his sleeping spot tucked in bed with me. We knew how fortunate we'd been to spend so many years with this sweet companion pet.

This picture below was taken on our last day with him. He would often sit on the back of my chair as I worked on the computer and would drape a paw over my shoulder. On this day, he actually crawled right down onto my chest and I just cradled him in my arms. We also spent some family time all of us sitting on the bed cuddling him and talking with our son about what was happening.

When it was obvious our cat was suffering greatly, we told our son that our vet was going to help him go to heaven. This really seemed to help him accept that our pet would soon be gone. That day, we said our goodbyes and a friend watched my son while I went on to the vet. They swaddled him up in warm blankets and placed him in my arms and I was overwhelmed by how peacefully little Buca left this world. My prayers had been answered and my heart, although so heavy, was at peace knowing he no longer suffered.

As we bury him today and have a time of reflection on his little life, I'm so thankful how the Lord has enriched our lives with these animals we love.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Kiddos and Their "Sticky Situations"

I'm so excited!! I've been selected through Moms Central Consulting to participate in a Wet Ones Blog Blast!! In the past year, I've been expanding my blog a bit and doing some new and different things to network and branch out. Last May, I found Moms Central and submitted my blog. I was so happy today to get the news of being selected to blog about a contest being put on by Wet Ones on Facebook.

Wet Ones is looking for your funniest, most helpful and creative ways you've handled your stickiest situations. Once you submit your entry, your idea might be included in a Wet Ones e-Book while the grand prize winner will receive an iPad Mini. Three runners up will win tickets to Six Flags. I had fun going through my son's baby and early toddler pictures to find one of his cutest messy faces. Putting together my entry reminded me how I had the heaviest diaper bag of any mom I knew (and was teased for it). Yet I was always prepared, no matter how bad the mess or how icky-sticky-gooey it got. I always had a mini-tub of Wet Ones on hand.

If you're interested, simply log on to Facebook and enter the Wet Ones Sticky Situations Contest. A picture isn't required, but fun to add. The contest ends on December 28th, 2012 at 9:59 (EST) so you still have time!

Prizes include:

A brand new iPad Mini


Three (3) sets of prize packs w/tickets for 4 to Six Flags

Best of luck to you!!

Thanks for visiting!

I participated in this campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Wet Ones. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hash Brown Tuna Casserole Creation

There are a few dishes that I'm always on the lookout to improve ... and one of those in our home is Tuna Casserole. About a year ago when I started making a roux for the sauce, that was a huge improvement. Then recently I came across the idea to put hash browns on top! We love potatoes in this home, so I couldn't wait to try it. I think I've finally created what will be our go-to tuna casserole recipe. I found the recipe with the hash browns at the Pencil Kitchen. My recipe below is actually a combination of several recipes I've tried and liked over the years that I've now combined into one. Hope you enjoy it if you try it.


  • 4 T butter
  • 2 to 4 T flour
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 large can flaked Tuna
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
  • few stalks of celery
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 T minced garlic
  • peas
  • egg noodles
  • hash browns, preferably thawed but I used frozen


  • Melt the butter in a large pot and whisk in the flour. Stir for almost a minute before adding milk. 
  • Slowly add the milk stirring thoroughly over medium high heat and cook until bubbling. Be careful to stir frequently so it doesn't burn or scorch. 
  • Add cottage cheese, cheddar, Parmesan and stir until completely melted.
  • Add garlic powder, salt/pepper to taste, bread crumbs, Worcestershire.
  • Using a fork, add tuna to mixture along with cooked peas.
  • In a separate saucepan, cook onion, celery and garlic in a little butter until tender and add to mixture.
  • Cook the egg noodles until done and add to tuna mixture.
  • Place in either a large casserole dish or dutch oven. (I used a dutch oven.) 
  • Place enough hash browns on top to cover and then sprinkle some shredded cheddar.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes until nicely browned. You may even need to turn on your broiler for the last 5 minutes to get them browned on top, which I did.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, December 7, 2012

MOTMF has a new Facebook Page!

Musings of the Monroe Family (MOTMF) 
has a new Facebook page! 

I have really enjoyed writing these past few years on my blog ... and now that I'm coming upon my 3-year anniversary in January, I thought I'd make things more official :)

I now have a Facebook page where I'll be sharing some content on a (hopefully) regular basis. You are welcome to visit the page and "Like" it if you want.

MOTMF is also on Twitter. I'm tweeting @MusingsMonroes.

I'd love it if you follow me there!!

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Creating an Advent Tradition

One of our Nativity sets

Growing up, we always had a chocolate Advent calendar and my four sisters and I took turns opening the little window and eating the chocolate. We didn't have any specific traditions for Advent that I can remember, and once our son was two we wanted to create some meaningful traditions of our own. For the first couple years after my son was born, we had the chocolate calendar and a few random activities but nothing very organized. This year I finally have something I created that we can follow each day. I gained my inspiration from Intentional Homeschool's 2011 and 2012 Advent posts. We truly desire to celebrate the birth of Jesus with a spirit of giving and have that be the most important thing our son takes into his heart during this season. We really enjoy spending family time together and we're looking forward to this.

Our new Avian Advent Calendar (and my son's very busy school desk)

My sister sent us a surprise Advent gift today ... a lovely Avian Advent calendar (from the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Each day of Advent there is a little door to open with a bird inside that you hang on the little tree. We'll be doing this daily along with letting my son open a chocolate Advent calendar like we had growing up. He always gets so excited about that.

I created a list of activities we'll do each day. Then I went searching for a list of Bible verses we can reflect on and discuss. I love this printable I found of Advent Bible verse cards which have the verses we'll use each day.

Our Advent Activities:
  • Color a picture for the garbage man (the man who smiles and waves to my son every week while we watch him through the window)
  • Listen to Christmas music and sing carols at home
  • Have eggnog and make Reindeer cookies
  • Go to Festival of Lights and drive around the neighborhood looking at the wonderful Christmas lights
  • Watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
  • Make hot chocolate and stir with candy canes
  • Visit "Grandma Betty" (lady we adopted at a nearby care center); bring homemade Christmas card
  • Read story of the real St. Nicholas here or here
  • Create a food pantry box of food to donate
  • Go outside with telescope and binoculars to marvel at the stars
  • Make homemade suet treats for the birds
  • Read The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
  • Make our own Christmas snowflakes
  • Create a donation box of goods to donate and bring to Goodwill
  • Make and decorate Christmas cookies
  • Deliver Christmas cookie plates to neighbors
  • Footprint Reindeer Craft (another link here)
  • Make homemade Christmas cards to give to our family at Christmas
  • Go Christmas caroling 
  • Read story of The Very First Christmas with Nativity Stickers
  • Watch Nester the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (one of my childhood favorites)
  • Make Eggnog Ice Cream from Stacy Makes Cents
  • Read My Birthday, Jesus' Birthday by Holly Davis
  • Make birthday cake for Jesus' Birthday
Two weeks before Christmas, we'll start listening to Karyn Henley's Christmas Night (Before I Dream) CD bible stories and songs at bedtime. There are 13 of them, so we'll start on Dec. 12th and finish on Christmas Eve.

I'm really looking forward to creating some neat family memories and a tradition to treasure. What Advent traditions do you have in your family? I'd love to hear about them.

Thanks for visiting!