Turkey Meatball Veggie Soup

We are closing in on the end of the month, and that means our pantry and fridge are looking dismal. Couple that with the fact that we are finally seeing some chilly fall weather here in the desert, and it has me craving ALL the soups! I peeked into my fridge and found a bunch of produce that needed to be used before it gets tossed, a pound of ground turkey I had saved from when I made my Sautéed Mushroom Turkey Burgers, plus some on hand pantry staples. You know those dinners where everyone is quiet because they are so busy eating they don’t talk? This got me one of those. It’s that good!

First gather up your ingredients. For the soup, I used:
*6 C Chicken broth
*8 oz mushrooms
*6 baby gold potatoes
*1 carrot (I only had 1 carrot, I recommend using 2-3)
*2 stalks celery
*1/2 C half and half
*1/2 onion
*1.5 tsp (each) garlic powder, onion powder, paprika
*1 tsp celery seed
*Salt and pepper to taste
*parsley garnish

For the turkey meatballs:
*1 lb ground turkey
*1/4 C breadcrumbs
*1 egg
*1Tbsp chopped parsley
*1 tsp (each) garlic powder, onion powder, paprika
*Salt and pepper to taste

Last week I had some pieces of my 6 Ingredient Sandwich Bread that was about to go stale. I cubed it and baked it at 350° until crispy and then placed it in an air tight container. This recipe was a great chance to use it! I just tossed a handful in my Ninja blender and pulsed until crumbly. Perfect homemade breadcrumbs!

Once you have your meat mixture well combined, form your meatballs. I just eyeballed it, but I wanted them to be fairly small. A small cookie scoop would be a great way to make sure they all come out uniform in size, but we aren’t after perfection here at the Murphy house. Place all of your meatballs in a large skilled and let them brown on all sides. They don’t have to be fully cooked on the inside since they will finish cooking in the crock pot, but you will want that nice brown crust on the outside.

While your meatballs are cooking, start prepping your veggies. I chopped everything into a nice dice and then pat myself on the back for not letting so many veggies go to waste (and getting my kids to eat them!)

Then add them all to your crock pot.

Cover with your chicken broth and spices. I only had 5 C of broth in my container (again, cleaning out the fridge) so I just added 1 C of water to the mix. No harm no foul, right?

Add in your cooked meatballs and stir everything together. I was worried that my meatballs may fall apart in the crock pot if I added them in the beginning, but they held up great. Once everything is combined, place your lid on your crock pot and set to high for 4 hours (or low for 6-7 if you’re starting it earlier in the day). I let this sit most of the time, only stirring it twice (mostly because it smelled so great I needed a reason to put my face in it).

At the 3.5 hour mark, I added 1/2 C of half and half and gave it a good stir. Cover once again and let it cook for a half hour longer. This is the time I used to bake up some butter bread slices to dip into our bowls. Because toasted carbs dipped in warm soup broth=the definition of fall comfort food.

And there you have it! All that’s left is to ladle some into a pretty bowl, garnish with some fresh chopped parsley, and take a picture for the ‘gram.


Tips for Successfully Parenting the Emotional Child

The hardest part of parenting for myself isn’t refereeing the fights, doing the homework, or even the constant need for snacks (do children have 3 stomachs like cows do? I mean, where do they put all of this food?!) For me, the hardest part of parenting is helping my children navigate their big emotions and teach them how to respond appropriately to the world around them. All kids have explosive moments or big emotions, but with an emotionally sensitive child this can be a daily road to navigate. Here are some tips that have helped me while parenting my emotionally sensitive child.

Don’t ask ‘why’, ask ‘what’

Some situations are just inevitable. Siblings will fight, unkind words will fly, hands will leave their ‘bubble’. There isn’t a kid I know who has never had a moment of misbehavior. With an emotionally sensitive child, they are quick to get on the defensive. This can make it hard to find out exactly what happened when you are walking into a war zone and both sides are pointing fingers at the other person. Instead of asking why, ask what. What was happening before the fight started? What did you not like about what happened? What do you think we can do to make this situation better for everyone? I find that if I ask why, I’m always met with an ‘I don’t know’, but if I ask what was happening I can get the full story.

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

How does your body feel right now?

It can be hard for children to recognize what emotion they are feeling in the heat of the moment, and putting it into words can be tricky. Most young kids won’t say ‘I’m feeling anxious’, they might say ‘my tummy feels funny’. Or instead of saying ‘I’m getting frustrated’ you may notice their cheeks are getting red and their hands are clenched. Noticing the physical signs of their emotions, and teaching them what those feel like, might help them be able to communicate better to you what they are feeling. When my son is having a rough moment, I always ask ‘what does your body feel like right now?’ and we take it from there.

”You can tell me anything”

I’m sure you have heard this one before, ‘Hey Mom, can I tell you something?’. I hear this about 394857 times a day, and my answer is always the same-‘you can tell me anything’. At the age my kids are now, that usually means stories about video games or a Lego creation or a picture that was colored at school. What they hear is ‘I’d love to hear about Minecraft for the next 45 minutes!’ but the underlying message is ‘You can come to me about anything, and I’m here for you’. Opening the lines of communication during times they want to talk just make it easier to connect with them during those times they are overwhelmed and need to talk.

Photo by Ankebi Photography on Unsplash

Give them their space, but let them know you are available

Sometimes the best thing you can do for your child when they are in an emotional meltdown is to let them work it out. Sometimes, they won’t want to talk to you about it, and trying to force your kid to open up will just make them more upset. Let them have space and time to work through it on their own, but let them know you are available if and when they are ready to talk to you. Sometimes my kids won’t want to talk, and instead of asking what happened I will simply say ‘can I give you a hug right now?’. You might be surprised that they will take you up on that hug much faster than they will want to chat about their big emotions.

Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič – @specialdaddy on Unsplash

Teach you kids to take their mental health seriously.

With school violence and bullying on the rise, the world is more aware now than ever that mental health in kids is just as important to care for as their physical health. I remember during our last deployment, the kids and I were filing our calendar fast. One day I looked around and noticed just how tired everyone looked. The kids were bickering and struggling in class, I was anxious and not sleeping, and we were trying to live life like we weren’t burning the candle at both ends. We all took a mental health day. I kept the kids home from school and we said no to all of our engagements that day. We played board games, ordered pizza, and finished the day with a family sleepover. I let them know that sometimes, you need to know when to say enough is enough, and that is ok! Letting your children know their feelings are just as valid as yours are will only encourage them to be more mentally healthy adults.

Sautéed Mushroom Turkey Burgers

This week has been another one where every day seems busier than the last, and by the time I get a chance to sit it’s already time for dinner. The last thing I want to do is spend the next hour in the kitchen making dinner and making another mess I have to clean (we all know no one is chomping at the bit to help with dishes around here). So I’m all about the easy and delicious. Something that requires minimal prep, simple ingredients, and will be filling and crowd pleasing. You know what checks all those boxes? Burgers and fries! But before you reach for the pre-made frozen stuff, you can whip up this easy recipe and feel good about what you are feeding your family.

Making burgers and fries is something super simple that you can make seem really spectacular with just a few tweaks. Toasting your buns? Yes, please! Topping your burger with sautéed mushrooms? You’re crazy if you don’t! Is your mouth watering yet?!

For my turkey burgers, I like to keep things simple. Here’s what you will need:
*1 small chopped onion
*2 lbs ground turkey
*2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
* butter (for sautéing)
*1 tsp Cajun seasoning
*1 tsp garlic powder
*salt and pepper
*8 oz sliced mushrooms
*Buns (we used onion buns-so amazing)
*cheese of choice (we used good ole’ cheddar)

Once you get everything prepped, mix it by hand in a large bowl. Be sure you get everything incorporated nicely, we want all the flavors to come to the party. Set the bowl aside and get your mushrooms started, you want them cooked before the burgers are done.

Melt about a Tbsp of butter into your skillet on medium heat. Then add your mushrooms. Stir them occasionally until they get soft and a nice brown color on all sides. Try not to eat them all straight out of the pan….I always make a little extra just for this reason.

I know it looks like I ate a lot of them, but I promise you they just shrink down quite a bit.

Also I ate some. But only, like, 4.

Or 5.

While your mushrooms are sautéing, start rolling your burgers into balls. I usually make 8 1/4lb burgers. I roll 8 balls about the size of my palms and set them on a baking sheet, then as I’m placing the burgers in my pan I flatten them out with my hands and use my thumb to push a small divot in the center of each burger, this just helps them cook evenly all throughout.

This is the part where a professional would tell you how long to cook your burgers before flipping them, but I just wait until I see them starting to cook halfway up the sides. When you flip them they should have a nice brown crust on the bottom.

Just before each burger is completely cooked, pile them up with your sautéed mushrooms. I then covered each one with a slice of cheddar. Now, you don’t have to do it this way. My husband said he thought it was weird that I put the cheese ON TOP of the mushrooms. I was just trying to keep them from falling off, and as the maker of the dinner I control how it gets done, ya know? You do you and live your best mushroom-burger-eating-life.

Feel free to serve these on a plain bun with some tater tots or fries, or you can jazz them up with a toasted bun and some herb potato rings or wedges. It’s all about customizing your meal to fit your preference and your families schedule. Or how many dishes you feel like creating, which is how I make most of my meal making decisions.

Hot Ham & Cheese Sammies

I don’t know about you, but nothing makes my taste buds happier than a sandwich. It’s so simple and can take on so many flavors, and most importantly-minimal prep work and clean up. Let’s be honest, as a mom those last 2 points are reason enough.

When I’m in a dinner rut or we have a busy day, I can always turn to sandwiches to bring dinner together in a pinch. And so I don’t get mom guilt that I didn’t actually ‘cook’ dinner, I use this Hot Ham and Cheese Sammies recipe to remind myself that if you have to turn on the oven-then you have in fact cooked. Add in my homemade Honey Mustard, and you have just whipped up a hot, homemade meal for your family in 20 minutes (including prep time!).

First, you’ll want to gather up your ingredients. You’ll want:
*8 croissants
*Ham (I also added turkey to a few of mine, because I needed to use it up)
*cheese (provolone is my favorite on these, but cheddar is what I had on hand)
For the Honey Mustard:
*1/2 C Mayo
*1 Tbsp Honey
*1 Tbsp Yellow mustard

First, make the honey mustard. Just add your mayo, mustard, and honey to a small bowl and stir until combined. It honestly doesn’t get any easier than that.

This is what you should end up with, a bowl of pale yellow goodness.

A little bit tangy.
A little bit sweet.
100% yum.

Now onto the most heavenly sight in the world…a big pile of golden, butter, croissants. Carefully slice each croissant in half lengthwise.

Start assembling your sammies. I cover the bottom of the croissant with the honey mustard, then layer on your ham and a slice of cheese.

Loosely wrap each sammie in tinfoil. You don’t need it to be perfectly covered, just wrapped enough so that the sammie will heat thru but your croissant won’t get hard while it’s baking.

Once you have all your sammies wrapped, place them on a sheet pan and place in a 350° oven for about 5-10 mins. Just long enough to make sure your meat is warm and your cheese is nice and melted.

Now this is what heaven must be like. Gooey cheese, warm croissants, sweet honey mustard. Add chips or a salad and you have a whole meal prepped and served in less than 20 minutes! You can’t beat that!

10 Tips for Surviving a Deployment With Kids

Being a wife and mother is challenging enough, but throw in having a spouse in the military and you get thrown a curveball every now and again. Just when you think you have a pretty good grip on things, the military will remind you that it is best to stay flexible. Semper Gumby, as they say. And in my decade-plus experience as a military spouse, there is no more humbling experience to go through than a deployment. I’ve been through 3 with my husband. Once with no kids, once with a newborn, and most recently with a 2nd grader and preschooler. Each deployment came with its own set of challenges, but having to navigate those challenges while making sure you are helping guide your children through all the emotions of a deployment is a daunting task to take on. Here I’ll share my 10 tips on surviving (and hopefully thriving!) a deployment with kids.

Plus there’s a bonus! Read below for an awesome discount for one of our families favorite deployment survival tools!

Set up a weekly countdown

Looking at a 7-12 month deployment on the calendar can be overwhelming. Not just for you, but for kids too. Breaking that time down into smaller, more manageable increments is what works best for our family. We made a poster board with 32 squares on it (7 months x’s 4 weeks per month, plus a couple buffer weeks) and numbered them 1-32. Each square represented one week. We made a note on each week that had a holiday during that week, and every week the kids took turns putting a big, fat, X over the squares as we finished another week. They loved being able to see how far we had come and it helped countdown to the holidays and trips we had planned while Daddy was away.

Celebrate the monthly countdown, too!

On top of our weekend countdown, we would also celebrate every month. The kids and I would go to dinner, our for ice cream, have a movie night in Mom’s bed (this one was a favorite-we called them Family Sleepovers and my kids still ask for them!) It doesn’t matter what you do to celebrate, just a little something to help the kids and yourself mark off a big milestone and cheer each other on that you are doing it!

Make care packages a family event

My husband will be the first to tell us that he doesn’t actually need us to mail him anything in a care package. My husband was always lucky enough to be sent to an already established base for most of his deployment times, and anything he needed he could just buy for himself at the base. The truth is, care packages were something the kids and I did mostly for us. Being able to pour love into a box to mail to my husband was my way of showing him how much we care and miss him. And my kids loved being able to make pictures or fill goodie bags to fill those boxes. The pride they took in hearing their Dad thank them for the things they made and sent to him made them feel closer to him, and that is so very important.

“Daddy Books”

This one is for your deployed spouse. My husband was lucky enough to have a small library on his base, and they had a small stock of children’s books! My husband would take a video of himself reading one of the books and then text it to me. The kids and I would watch the videos at night during our story time and it was always such a special treat. Also, the USO offers the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program, which is a great program that helps deployment service members record themselves reading books to send to their children. My kids each received a video of their Dad reading a book, and a copy of the book for them to be able to keep and read along!

Communicate with the school

Chances are, if your spouse is in the military you live on a base or in a military town. This is good because your child’s teachers probably already have dealt with kids going through deployments before and understand that this is a challenging time for them. Having that line of communication open between you and the school will only help your child have more advocates in their corner to help them through those tough days.

Let them cry (you too!)

Every now and then, you are going to have one of those days where you are struggling to see the light at the end of this deployment tunnel. Emotions are high and so is your stress level. And just when you think you’ve made it to bedtime and you can mark another hard day off the calendar, you have a kid crying because they want Daddy to tuck them in and he is still gone. They cry, those big hard tears, and you feel that lump building in your throat as you try to hold your own tears back. Let.them.out. Cry, and let them know it is ok. It’s ok to be sad and angry and worried, and your kids feel those emotions just as strongly as you do. Show them that it is ok to feel this way, and that tomorrow is a new day. You guys can get through this together.

When I needed a good cry, I could always count on homecoming videos and a glass of wine.

Make them feel special

Do something special for just them, for no reason other than to make them feel special. My kids LOVED ‘spa days’. I would pull out my nice lotion, nail kit, and a bucket of warm water and would pamper them. They would take turns soaking their feet and then I would trim their nails (I mean, I had to do it anyway, this just minimized any argument over it) and then rub their feet and legs with some lotion. They would always say how special it made them feel, and it was a nice treat. Now, I’m not saying to cater to your children every day of deployment-you WILL go insane. But a nice treat every now and then is just as good for their mental health as it is yours. Now go get yourself a nice pedicure as YOUR special treat!

Keep traditions (but give yourself grace)

Not having a key member of your family home for the holidays is hard. Try to keep them as joyous as possible by sticking with your families beloved traditions. I’m not saying you need to go all out and make every holiday a major event, but pick the ones you look forward to the most and stick with them. Now, not every tradition was kept exactly as before, and I had to give myself grace when things didn’t go as I would have normally done them, as you will see below. Our Elf wasn’t as creative, but at least he showed up. I made a full Thanksgiving meal, but the dog pulled the turkey off the counter. I made my kids their homemade birthday cakes, but forgot to buy candles. You know what? They still loved them all!

When Mom remembers your cake but forgets the candles…

Be involved

We have been blessed to make some of our best friends during our time with the military. Living on base or near a base creates a tight knit community that most civilians don’t get to experience. Be involved in the unit, go to base events, join a spouse sports team or club. These are the people who become your family while your spouse is away, and I have leaned on them more times than I can count. So go to the unit events, be involved with the other spouses, introduce your kids to other kids who are going through the same deployment or have been there before. The point is, find your tribe and hold on to them. You are all in this together and I promise you it is worth it to find those people.

And finally, the Daddy Doll!

You can’t go to a park on or near a base and not see at least one kid totting around their Daddy Doll. These things are cherished among military kids everywhere, and they offer so much comfort during those times when Daddy can’t physically be with them. Our Daddy was able to go to dentist appointments, haircuts, grocery trips, vacations, and even a show-and-tell or two. Daddy Dolls Inc is a fantastic company that makes these custom dolls and so much more, and for being a part of this blog they are offering you a 15% off discount! Just see the flyer below for details!

Remember, deployments are hard but they are temporary. Find what works for your family, and you will all make it out the other side of this relatively unscathed. So give yourself grace and a pat on the back, because cereal for dinner is still dinner, and that’s a win.

4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cups (and a bonus recipe!)

Today has been a doozy! Never ending phone calls and things to do….and it isn’t due to slow down until bedtime. I knew I was going to need a pick-me-up to pull me through the rest of the day, and there’s no cure quite like chocolate and peanut butter.

I found these adorable pumpkin ice cube molds at the Dollar Tree today and my first thought was…peanut butter cups! Luckily I knew I already had most of the ingredients stocked in my pantry. Here’s what I used:
*pumpkin molds
*1/2 C confectioners sugar
*1/2 C creamy peanut butter
*half a bag of chocolate chips
*1 Tbsp coconut oil

In a microwave safe bowl (or measuring cup) add your half a bag of chocolate chips and your coconut oil. Microwave them in 15 second intervals, stirring them every time until melted. I think I did this 4 times before it was smooth, so about a minute.

Make sure your molds are clean and dry, and then you can start pouring in your chocolate. I used a spoon to add a bit to the bottom of the mold and then spread it around with a (brand new) paint brush. Once both molds are covered, put them in the fridge for about 15 minutes to set the chocolate. Set aside the extra chocolate mixture, you will need it later.

While you’re waiting for your chocolate to set, start on your peanut butter filling. You can mix this by hand, but I prefer my stand mixer so I can make sure I get a good, even mix. Start with your 1/2 C peanut butter.

Then add your 1/2 C confectioners sugar. With your paddle attachment, mix your ingredients until smooth.

By now, your chocolate should be nice and solid. Take your peanut butter mixture and add about 1/2 tsp to the middle of each mold. Use the back of your spoon or your finger to gently push the peanut butter mixture down.

Take your remaining melted chocolate and carefully spoon it over the top of your peanut butter mixture. I added enough to make the chocolate even with the top of my mold.

When both molds are full, place them back into the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Try to distract yourself….these next 30 minutes can feel like a lifetime when you know you have peanut-buttery-chocolate-covered-goodness waiting for you!

When your chocolate is nice and set, it’s time to pop them out of the molds! My pumpkin molds, although incredibly adorable, made it difficult to get out some of the molds. Some of my pumpkins got a little cracked on the way out, but they still taste absolutely incredible. Just pop these into a sealed container and store them into the fridge. I honestly can’t tell you how long they will last in the fridge, because mine never last longer than the weekend. So if you have more self control than I do, let me know how long these keep will ya?

BONUS RECIPE TIME! I had about 1/4 C of my peanut butter mixture left over (next time I’ll use bigger molds!) and I knew there was no way I was going to let this go to waste! I peeked in my fridge/pantry to see what I had that I could make with this…honey, greek yogurt, peanut butter mixture….sounds like the perfect ingredients for a fruit dip!

Just whisk together the 1/4C peanut butter mixture, 1C greek yogurt, and 1Tbsp honey until smooth.

Cut up an apple, and enjoy! This became my impromptu lunch while I was waiting for my peanut butter cups to harden, and it was so delish and easy that I had to share it with you all!

Seriously….so good. And you get two recipes in one with minimal effort! Lucky you!

When the Mom Burnout hits you

Photo by Dmitry Schemelev on Unsplash

You wake up to the sound of kids screeching and fighting in the hallway. You look at your phone, you still have 10 minutes before your alarm is set to go off and another 10 before you needed to wake up the kids for school. You can feel it in your bones that it is going to be one of those days as you emerge from your room and are immediately met with breakfast demands and complaints over the clothes you picked out the night before for them to wear. You try to calmly ask the kids to just be patient as you start pouring cereal and start the coffee pot, but you can feel your cheeks getting warm. When the hungry masses are done eating, they run off to their room. You yell down the hallway to go brush their teeth, but in reply all you get is more fighting about who hit who and who is touching the others toys. You take a deep breath and start clearing the breakfast dishes, only to notice someone spilled their wet cereal all over the floor and didn’t bother to clean it up. They know that you will clean it, so why bother? Finally after teeth brushing, hair managing, 3 outfit changes (while you are still in your pajama pants and tank top from yesterday) you are screaming like a lunatic to get everyone to put on their shoes and hurry outside because the bus is here to pick up the oldest kid and you still have to drive the youngest to their school, which opens in 15 minutes (and you have yet to brush your own teeth).

It is barely 8 am and you are already mentally exhausted when your phone beeps. It’s a text from your husband asking you to run an errand for him this morning since he is at work and you are just at home all day. You text him back ‘sure thing’ and add it to your mental list of your other errands to get done-laundry, sweeping and mopping, unloading and reloading the dishwasher, finishing some computer work you didn’t have time to do yesterday, buying milk because you used the last of it in the kids cereal this morning. You sit in your van and feel the tears start to come. You feel sad, overwhelmed, underappreciated, and ridiculous. “Why are you crying? You are so lucky! You have a husband who is able to provide financially for your family so you can stay home and manage the house! THIS is your job! You have enough money to buy milk and put gas in your van. You have 2 beautiful children and a husband who loves you all, that’s more than a lot of people get in their whole lifetime! So why am I crying in the bank parking lot?”

Photo by Claudia on Unsplash

I will tell you why you are crying. Because you are human. As a mother, we spend so much of our day being many things for many people. Mother, wife, nurse, cook, housekeeper, chauffer, referee, lover. The list goes on and on and the benefits are ones that don’t give immediate gratification. You don’t get a paycheck, or vacation days, or sick days. There is no promotion ladder to climb and you never clock out. And the stakes are high, like really high. You are raising a family, molding tiny humans into what you hope will be productive members of society and you only have one shot at doing it right. The weight of this burden is heavy, and even though you may not carry it alone, it is a job that you can’t take lightly. So when you start your day yelling like a lunatic you feel like you are failing, or like this isn’t the deal you were promised when you made the decision to start a family.

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

I see you, Momma. I see you when you are crying in your van. Or when you are standing over a toddler in the middle of a meltdown at the grocery store, gritting your teeth as you try to coax them up. I see you when you are walking out of the school office after another meeting with teachers about your child struggling in class and you’re just hoping you can hold it together until you get to your car. When you are mindlessly scrolling thru Instagram at the park while your kids play because you just need 5 minutes to do anything other than being a mom right now.
I see you.
I am you.

Your feelings are valid and you have worth. Life is hard, parenting is hard, and trying to balance it all with grace and a smile is damn near impossible.

So give yourself some grace and be kind to your feelings. Not every day will be like this and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Why? Because you know eventually it will be bedtime, and if you can just hold on until then, you get a fresh start tomorrow.

And in the meantime, there is wine and chocolate.

Because you are a Mom, and you have earned it.

Top 10 Things ADHD parents are sick of hearing

October is ADHD/ADD/ODD awareness month, and with mental health awareness on the rise it is more important now than ever to make ourselves aware of the invisible struggles other people may be fighting. I know what you’re thinking, ADHD is not on the same playing field as Manic Depression or Schizophrenia or Bi-Polar Disorder. The truth is, just like any other neurological disorder, ADHD can come in varying degrees of severity and oftentimes those who are diagnosed with ADHD have other underlying diagnoses. ADHD is more than just not being able to sit still or focus, and according to the data and statistics at cdc.gov, it effects over 6.1 million children (as of 2016).

You would think since ADHD is such a commonly diagnosed disorder there would be so much understanding about it, but I can tell you first hand that as a parent of a child with ADHD (combined ADHD and anxiety diagnosis in this house) that people are very quick to judge you and your child based on outward appearances. Here I’ve put together my Top 10 list of things I have heard and am so over hearing about how to parent a kid with ADHD.

1. This one usually comes from a good place, in my experience at least. Your kid is running/jumping/climbing/completely ignoring your attempts to calmly get them to focus, and another parent nearby tries to sympathize with the old ‘I don’t know how you do it’ bit. I know they mean well, but the truth is if you have a child one day with ADHD, you will do it too, because you will love that child for who they are. My son isn’t ADHD, he has ADHD, and there is so much more to him than his diagnosis.

Do all kids behave all the time? Not at all. Does that mean that all kids who are misbehaving have ADHD? Nope. So does that mean ADHD isn’t real and just a made up illness? Absolutely not.

This is something that was absolutely said to me by a complete stranger while my son was having a meltdown at a Jiu Jitsu class. At the time I just smiled at the man and simply told him spakings don’t work with our son, but to this day when I think about that moment I wish I would have asked him if using a belt would also help him learn some manners.

This one is very common, and in my experience often comes from those friends and family that are closest to you. They aren’t saying it to be mean, but it still hurts. Yes medication may be a necessary tool your family decides to try, but coming to the decision to go that route is deeply personal and not a decision that is made easily.

If you have looked into medication for your child, then chances are really good you have heard the downsides of that choice. Usually it’s from other well-meaning parents, but this kind of choice is personal to what works best for your child and your family. And chances are, if you’re using the words ‘medication’ as a means of treatment, then you have probably already tried everything else you could think of first.

Personally our family has tried essential oils, supplements, cutting artificial dyes, flavors, dairy, gluten, limited screen time, no screen time….we have tried it all! Some of these things work, some don’t, most are great in moderation. You have to find what works for your child and go from there.

Often times, kids with ADHD are seen as being lazy or dumb. Most ADHD kids I know are some of the most intelligent and innovative people I know, they just need to be interested or engaged to let it shine. Do a google search of famous people with ADHD and you may be pleasantly surprised!

Kids make poor choices because they are learning how to make the right choice. This isn’t just an ADHD issue, this is something all parents have to deal with. And what works for one kid may not work for another, especially when you are comparing neurotypical children with those who are diagnosed with ADHD.

Any parent of a child with ADHD will tell you they have that thing they are obsessed with. Video games, Legos, dinosaurs, military vehicles, garbage trucks…we have seen quite a few obsessions with our son. And he loves to spread that knowledge all over everyone within ear shot. Yes they can talk about other things, but if you just sit and listen to them talk about their favorite things, you will see so much passion and knowledge flow out of them that it is contagious.

Yes, all kids grow and mature and develop better skills to handle what life throws at them, and kids with ADHD are no exception to that growth. However, kids who have ADHD will not simply outgrow it. There are several ways to help your child manage their diagnosis, but it will not go away on it’s own. If that were true then we wouldn’t have adults with ADHD, would we?

Sammy Lawrence Axe Tutorial (Bendy and the Ink Machine)

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If you’ve been following along with our Bendy and the Ink Machine costume series, you have seen my tutorial on our Sammy Lawrence costume. A major game prop that Sammy uses is his axe. Now, my son has learned that I LIVE for making props (last year I learned how to use EVA foam to make props and it was a game changer!) so he knew this axe was going to be part of the deal. I knew it would be an easy build and take very few materials, so I told him I could absolutely build it. Here’s list of materials I used:
*EVA foam
*Plasti Dip
*Air dry modeling clay
*Craft paint
*Hot glue gun
*Mod Podge
*Utility knife (and extra blades)
*Belt sander

First things first, make a template out of the cardboard. You can easily find an image with an online search and free hand your design from there. I wanted it to be more 3 dimensional, so make sure to also make templates of the top, middle, and lower squares.

Once you have all your template pieces cut out, trace it onto your EVA foam boards. Be sure you flip your template over to make the back side. Tip- if you notice that your blade is pulling at the foam and not making nice, straight cuts, change your blade! A dull blade will pull at the foam and ruin your cuts, so changing your blade often will make sure you keep making those nice straight lines.

Once you have all of your pieces cut, use your hot glue gun to piece all the layers together. Be sure you layer them with the smooth sides out! As long as you flipped your templates for the second set of foam pieces you should be good. After you get everything glued together, sand down your edges. I prefer to use my belt sander for this, because this piece has a lot of long straight lines it works great and is so much faster than using a Dremel.

Even after a good sanding, you will still be able to see all the seams along the edge of the axe. A tip I picked up last year was to use air dry modeling clay to fill in those seams. It can be finicky to work with, so I keep a small bowl of water handy so I can moisten my hands as I work. This helps make the clay a little more pliable and easier to smooth down. After you let it dry overnight, use some sand paper to hand sand down the clay and make your edges really smooth. I failed to remember this step, so mine has that nice homemade look to it. Lucky for me, a mom made Halloween costume is allowed to look…homemade. Once you are happy with how it looks, spray it with a few layers of Plasti Dip, allowing it to fully dry between coats. This will help weather proof your axe, and since I opted for the black Plasti Dip, it cut my paint time in half.

After the Plasti Dip is dried, you can start painting all the yellow and details. This I just free handed off of images I had seen of the axe. When your paint is dry on all sides, cover your axe with a layer of Mod Podge. This will help protect your paint and add a nice sheen to your finished product. That’s it! SO easy, and it will really step up your costume game. Plus, my son keeps all of his props to play with through the year, so they serve double duty.

Bacon Soup Candy Bucket DIY (Bendy and the Ink Machine)

Part of the fun of making Halloween or Cosplay costumes is putting in those extra little details that bring your character to life. Part of the fun for me is to make sure that every piece is part of the whole character, and as much as I love those classic pumpkin buckets, I can’t pass up a chance to make a one of a kind prop!

The first thing I did was set out to find a large enough can that could double as a trick or treat bucket. I opted for some large coffee cans-they were the perfect size for what I wanted and provided enough caffeine to help me tackle more costume projects (everybody wins!). First things first, carefully remove the label, empty the cans and give them a good wash. A quick Google image search gave me just what I needed, and I was able to use the back of the coffee can label to free hand my design.
Image found at DeviantArt.com

Once I finished sketching my design, I used craft paint to fill it in and add all the details and extra touches. I tried my best to make them both as identical as I could to the real thing. Luckily the lines are all supposed to be a bit wonky, so it gives you a lot of forgiveness if you are not an artist (like myself). A tip to make this step easier-take it in sections and work on one color at a time! It took me so much longer than I thought it would because the colors are so layered on top of each other in those little details. Also, in the small sections between the lettering, using a black sharpie marker is SO much easier than a paint brush. Trust me. This is no time to be a hero.

Once the paint is dry, generously coat the label with a layer of Mod Podge. This helps seal the paint and gives it a nice shine. While the Mod Podge was drying, I took my cans outside to spray with some black PlastiDip. In the game the cans are all black and yellow, and I figure if I’m going all in with making props then I might as well make them as authentic looking as possible!

Look how nice those black cans look! Ok, once your cans and labels are all dry, it’s time to secure them to one another. Start with a line of hot glue on the can and securing one side of the label to it. Wrap the label around the can, adding Mod Podge, to help glue the label down. Once you reach the end, finish it with another line of hot glue to make sure your label is secured.

And viola! That’s it! The extra details are really what bring these costumes to life, and are completely worth the extra effort. Don’t be afraid to take your costume to the next level with a little extra oomph!

I hope you come back tomorrow as we finish our Bendy and the Ink Machine costume tutorials with our Sammy Lawrence axe tutorial!