Recipe – Super Easy Crockpot Lasagna

crockpot lasagna - SO easy! PErfECt for fall!

 On the first week back to school I came home admittedly feeling quite pleased with myself because I had actually put a meal in the crockpot before leaving for work.

I was seriously ready to give myself a gold medal for being so prepared in spite of a total life change.

I may have even said out loud,

“Work full-time?  Psh.  I got this.”

But fast forward 4 weeks and I am fairly certain my children don’t even know what a home cooked meal is.

If you happen to be better planned than me, then I know this recipe will be a blessing for you in the back to school rush.

crockpot lasagna 1crockpot lasagna 3crockpot lasagna 2crockpot lasagna 4crockpot lasagna 5crockpot lasagna 6crockpot lasagna 7crockpot lasagna 8

Crockpot Lasagna

Ingredients -

1 lb cottage cheese

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

2 (26 oz) jars marinara sauce

2 lbs lean ground beef, browned and drained of fat (not shown in above ingredient photo)

1 (9 oz) pkg lasagna noodles

Directions -

 1. Place cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese in a medium bowl and stir to combine.

2. Add a thin layer of pasta sauce to the bottom of slow cooker.

3. Add a thin layer of cooked beef and a layer of noodles, breaking the noodles to make them fit.

4. Add a layer of cheese mixture.

5. Repeat until all of the ingredients are used, ending with sauce.

6. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.crockpot lasagna 9

Enjoy!

Happy Crockpot Lasagna-ing! :-)

*You can check out some of my other favorite slow cooker recipes HERE.*

My Free Babysitters Are Leaving

SONY DSCOh, I kid.

(Well, kind of.)

:-)

But it’s true.

My parents are moving to Georgia.

Right now I am doing a great job of stuffing my feelings on the matter wayyyyy down deep.

I’m sure that sometime soon there will be a volcanic eruption of emotional chaos that might involve ugly crying, fist pounding, binge-eating… lots of fodder for a therapy session.

But for now I am trying to stay strong and civil for the sake of those around me (and because I can’t afford a therapist).

Ha!

In light of their departure, I thought I would share a few things about these important and precious people in my life.

Last summer the hubs was away taking classes at a seminary in St. Louis for 2 weeks.

While he was gone, I managed to find myself in a state of utter panic because my head was abnormally itchy.

Of course I convinced myself over a period of several hours and frantic Google searching that I had lice and even found the ‘nits’ to prove it.

This is what happens when my level-headed, un-fearing husband is not around to help me tame my inner beast of anxiety.

I called my mom at 10 o’clock at night completely undone by the fact that I probably had a scalp full of bugs and was threatening to torch every surface in my house that had potentially come into contact with my infected head.

I may have even said things including (but not limited to),

“THIS WORLD IS TOO DANGEROUS FOR MEEE!”

“IF THE BOYS GET LICE I’LL JUST DIEEEEEE!!!!”

“I CAN’T GO ONNNNN!!!!!”

My mom somehow talked me off the ledge and offered to drive out with my dad to take a look through my hair.

At this point it was almost 10:30.

But they came anyway.

My mom wasn’t afraid to touch the bugs and my dad offered to run out and get me some dandruff reducing shampoo at the local 24-hour pharmacy.

Because that’s all it ended up being.

Just some dry, itchy scalp.

And for some reason this whole story has become one of my favorite memories of my parents.

Maybe it’s because it accurately sums up the whole Parenting gig:

Even when your child is 30 years old – you are still obligated to check their head for lice.

:-)

In all honesty, though, being a parent is a never-ending job that often calls on you at random times of the day or night to be there for your kids – especially when they’re adults.

Like maybe the Holy Spirit wakes you up for a middle of the night prayer session on behalf of your child.

Or maybe you know your daughter could use a therapy trip to Target to buy new underwear or shoes.

Or maybe when you stop by to see the grandkids you bring a roll of paper towels or toilet paper just because.

Or maybe you wash the dishes while your daughter and her hubby are on a date.

Or maybe you help them paint the nursery (and the master bedroom, and the porch, and the dining room…).

Or maybe you show up at your daughter’s speaking events even when you have a full time job.

Or maybe you take your daughter to see that new chick flick her hubby refuses to be subjected to.

Or maybe you pick up a Costco rotisserie for her whenever you’re there shopping.

Or maybe you take the kids for the day because you know your daughter needs to get some extra sleep (or simply stare at a wall for 3 hours without interruptions).

Or maybe you put an encouraging note on your daughter’s pillow one day when you are over.

Or maybe you mow the lawn for her when her husband is out of town.

Or maybe you drive down to the church at 10 pm to help your daughter finish decorating for an event.

Or maybe you accompany your daughter at the school’s talent show.

Or maybe you build closet shelves for her.

Or maybe you help tighten the teeny tiny screws on your daughter’s glasses whenever she comes over.

Or maybe you host sleepovers for them when her hubby is on the church men’s retreat.

Or maybe you replace the burned out light in the garage.

Or maybe you come over to clean the house and dust the ceiling fan blades when your daughter is 400 pounds and 42 weeks pregnant and can’t move.

Or maybe you go with her on a trip to Ikea just because it is safer for everyone involved that a 2nd adult be present.

Or maybe you give really great bear hugs when things are hard and there just aren’t any words.

Or maybe you arrange a trip to Disney for your daughter and her husband using your timeshare points and you watch their kids.

Or maybe you have an awesome paper shredder and offer to shred all of your daughter’s old documents that are taking up 13 bins in the garage.

Or maybe you’re there for birthdays, holidays, and Grandparent’s Day at the grandkids’ preschool.

Or maybe you drop off a new shirt from Macy’s on your daughter’s doorstep.

Or maybe there’s the Easter Dress Tradition.

Or maybe you take her to get a surprise manicure a few weeks after her NICU baby finally got to come home.

Or maybe you hear that the Toys R Us by her house is going out of business so you rush in time for the liquidation and buy 50 new things for the grandkids.

Or maybe you get tears in your eyes and tell your daughter how proud of her you are after she sang the solo at church.

Or maybe you brought a check by to help pay for your grandson’s swim lessons this month.

Or maybe you offer to babysit again.

And again.

And again.

And all the love and all the time and all the presents and presence you give your child gives her the strength and vision she needs to keep pressing forward in her own calling of parenthood.

That is what my parents do for me.

They show me how it’s done.

The feeling I get when they save the day – when they come to my house at 11 to check my hair for imaginary lice – that is the feeling I want to pass on to my own kids.

Mom, Dad…

Even though you won’t be 15 minutes away anymore, I know that a 10-hour drive won’t stop the love and inspiration you pour out on me and my family on a forever basis.

And there’s always FaceTime for the scalp checks.

:-)

Georgia – our loss is your enormous gain. <3

Love you so much and miss you already.

- Julie

“Let the Lord watch over us while we are separated from each other…” Genesis 31:49

Easy School Bus Craft

Such an easy and adorable craft for the beginning of school!

We have been celebrating school buses all week in my preschool class.

That Wheels on the Bus song just never gets old! :-)

This little craft is so fun and easy.  I know your kids will enjoy it.

Supplies:
bus craft 1

Yellow, Black, and Blue construction paper

Glue

Scissors

Black Paint

Toilet Roll Tube

Directions:bus craft 2bus craft 3bus craft 8bus craft 4bus craft 5bus craft 9bus craft 7bus craft 6

That’s it!

I hope y’all are getting back into the Back to School groove without any bumps!

Happy School Bus Craft-ing! :-)

400 Trips to Ikea Later… Preschool Classroom Reveal

Setting Up the Preschool Classroom - GREAT ideas!!

See this room?

It is my new home.

It has literally eaten up my entire life in the span of a few short weeks. :-)

I teach all morning, work in the afternoon for the school’s front office, and then take my boys home to feed them the same thing for the 3rd night in a row and then fall into a coma of exhaustion.

The other day I was like, “Blog?  What blog????”

My mother-in-law wisely told me (when I called her crying about this dramatic life change) to lower my expectations for the next month and hold on for the adjustment.

But tonight was Back to School Night with all my new parents and I am still awake and completely wired from having had conversation that did not involve me telling someone to stop throwing sand or did they go poopy?  And because I know you’re all sitting around wondering why I haven’t posted in an eon, I decided to send a little note and let you know that full-time work did not kill me off.

Although on Thursday last week it almost did.

But oh how I love my sweet new students and their families!

And how much fun it has been to see them enjoying our little space that took 400 trips to Ikea and 75% of my entire year’s budget to set up. :-)

Before I show you the after photos, however, I wanted to give you a peek at the before photos!classroom BEFORE 2 classroom BEFORE 1 classroom BEFORE

When I first started teaching the 2’s last year I was in a different classroom that I shared with another teacher.

This year I was moved to a new room that has been kind of infamous around the school as having a funky, narrow/crowded shape.

But the Lord gave me great peace and excitement for the project of creating a space of my own.  I also loved looking to Him for some out-of-the-box ideas to help make the room feel large and accommodating for such a busy age.

I’m so happy with the results…

**Warning – PICTURE OVERLOAD.**classroom 22classroom 3

This is our Circle Time area and main bulletin board for learning.

In the 2 year old class, we focus on a specific Bible memory verse, a shape, a color, and a number for the entire month.

We celebrate the calendar and weather every day as well.

I bought an oil drip pan from Walmart for $11 and use it as a magnet wall for the children.

The school buses on the pan are how I take attendance each morning.  We sing THIS SONG and then the children get to put their bus on the wall.

classroom 4Even though they can’t read yet, I like to post a schedule of our daily activities and I talk about it throughout the day with them.

They get really excited about Goodbyes because it means MOMMY TIME!

I found these adorable schedule cards as a FREE Printable from HERE.

classroom 19These are our classroom rules.

I refer to them 100 million times a day during the first month of school.classroom 16classroom desk

This is my desk.

It is so cute, but when you teach preschoolers, you NEVER ever get to use it!  Haha!classroom 17

We spend a lot of time at that changing table.

And those cabinets are overflowing with important preschool supplies like googly eyes and Glue Dots and Do-A-Dot Markers and every color of pipe cleaner you could possibly imagine.

classroom 2

I have all of my parents send in photos of their families so that I can display them for the children to visit throughout the day.

I like that they can stay connected with their loved ones even when they are apart!classroom 1

I believe I need to budget for more puzzles.

:-)classroom 5classroom 6classroom 7classroom 9

I love to label things.

It is a tremendous help at clean-up time.

You wouldn’t believe the hurricane this room becomes when we are focused on our play.

The only reason the classroom looks so awesome at the moment is because I had to get it in tip top shape for Back to School Night. :-)

classroom 18

I saw a great idea on Pinterest to use cheap picture frames for all the mandatory policy things (firedrill, lockdown, procedures, etc.).

classroom 8classroom 10

Dramatic play is SO encouraged in our room!

Today two of my girls dressed up in gowns and informed me that they were going on an adventure.

Also, 2 year olds love to put stuff in things so I like to have lots of purses, bags and baskets on hand.classroom 12

This is our train table and rice/water table.

That rice table is a ton of fun but a BEAST to clean up.classroom 11classroom 21

Over the train table is our Birthday Bulletin Board (idea from HERE).

During the first week of school the children decorate some birthday crowns that I purchase from Michael’s.

Then they get to wear the crowns on their birthday, of course.  It generates so much anticipation for their special day!

As you can see, we have already celebrated one little girl.classroom 13

This is our kitchen area where the kids cook me 10 course meals about 7 times a day.

If one of them grows up to be the next Julia Child or Emeril, I will make sure everyone knows that they got their start in PreK-2 with Mrs. B.

I like to hang mirrors in my room because the children just love to look at themselves while they are exploring.

The other morning we all stood in front of the mirrors and practiced our silly faces.

Then I glanced out our classroom door window and saw a parent peeking in to watch.

I’m sure they were having second thoughts about their child’s enrollment.cute classroom

And there it is.

This room where even if it didn’t have any toys or decorations or paraphernalia from Ikea, would still have the Holy Spirit.

And that’s really all that matters to me anyway -

That my students know Jesus and His absolutely perfect, unfailing, and precious love for them.

Not where my desk lamps are from.

I hope you like it!

Happy Preschool Classroom Reveal-ing! :-)

How to Handle Separation Anxiety in the Classroom

how to handle separation anxiety in the classroom (great tips for parents too!)

*Photo by 1313 Photography*

When I started teaching again I landed a position in the preschool department – teaching 2 year olds.

I thought – Hey!  I’m the mom of a 2 year old!  We’ll sing songs, change diapers, get stickers, take a nap…  This will be CAKE.

:-)

Then the first day happened and I had 50% of my little class crying hysterically – completely undone by the fact that they couldn’t be with their mamas (and I seriously could not blame them).

**If you had seen the emotional state of my classroom on the first day last year you would have wanted to be with your mother too.**

Did you know some kids can cry so hard they throw up?

Did you know some kids get aggressive and try to kick you?

Talk about getting thrown in the deep end.

As soon as pick-up time was over (and after I got done crying, myself), I made it my personal mission to be prepared with EVERY SINGLE POSSIBLE trick in the book to talk a toddler down off the ledge of an emotional CRISIS.

And I have 8 NEW precious kiddos coming to my room on Tuesday so I need to be prepared for what’s coming.

((Hopefully what’s coming involves smiles and giggles instead of me ending the day with hearing loss and in the fetal position.))

  • PREP the parents in advance.  I send a letter home about separation anxiety before school begins.  You can find it HERE.  Getting parents on board with you is CRITICAL to helping develop a successful classroom routine and atmosphere.
  • Don’t let parents linger.  A quick good-bye is best!
  • Sing a song (start with the Wheels on the Bus and If You’re Happy and You Know It and go from there).
  • Blow bubbles together (it’s hard to cry when also trying to blow into something).
  • Let the child bring in a lovey or photo of their family from home to keep in their cubby.  I like how THIS LADY has a special shelf for framed photos of her students’ families.
  • Acknowledge the child’s feelings.  Say, “You miss your mommy,” then follow up with, “You will see her soon.”
  • Read books like The Kissing Hand or Llama, Lllama Misses Mama or Bye Bye Time that deal with the concept of being away from parents.
  • Hold the child and slowly count to 10 together.
  • Post a visual schedule in your room so the children can see how close they are to being with their mommies (or other caregiver) again.
  • ACT CONFIDENT – stay calm.  Keep your voice happy and upbeat.  If you start to feel otherwise, just imagine me looking you in the eye and saying, “You got this, girl!”
  • Give student a squishy ball or pom pom and let them put it in their pocket and squeeze it whenever they feel anxious.
  • Hang in there – it might take several weeks to build trust and rapport with the children.
  • Put on a fun CD and dance.
  • Make sure parents say goodbye before they leave – sneaking out is not helpful.
  • Don’t spend a lot of emotional energy on the anxious child – be loving and reassuring, but carry out daily plans as usual.  Occasionally give child a gentle pat on the head.  Eventually they should see that everyone else (including you) is having fun and they should too!
  • Give the child a calm down glitter jar.
  • Never send a crying child home – this reinforces the idea that if they cry, they will get their way.
  • With that said, keep in mind that some young children (especially 2-3 year olds) might not be ready for school yet.  Make sure you discuss this possibility with your school’s headmaster and the parents in extreme situations.
  • If other kids complain about the noisy child, encourage classroom unity by saying something like, “So-and-so is missing his mommy.  He needs a little extra time to learn how school works.  Let’s show him how much fun school is!”
  • Bring out a puppet.
  • Go outside and play with chalk or a water table.
  • Make that student a special helper – give him/her a specific task like setting out the puzzles, hanging up name cards, or passing out the crayons.
  • Have an established routine like a special hello song you can sing at the same time each morning – familiarity breeds comfort.
  • Pull out a pinwheel.
  • Have a basket of ‘back-up’ lovies (small stuffed animals, vibrating baby toys, etc.) for the children to hold.
  • Make sure you have a helper in your room the first week (if you do not already).
  • Tell them that you miss your mommy too and follow up with something positive like, “I’m so proud of you for being such a big boy/girl and coming to hang out with me today!”
  • See if Daddy can drop off the child instead of Mommy.
  • Reassure the parent!  Say things like, “This is TOTALLY normal.  Don’t worry about a thing!  We are going to have a great day!”
  • Have a Cuddle Bear Chair – set up a small chair with a stuffed bear.  Allow sad children to sit in the chair with the bear and tell the bear their problems.
  • Try using these cute No Cry GoodBye Punch Cards from HERE.
  • Suggest parents make a Family Photo Book like THIS ONE or a Family Necklace like THIS ONE for their child to bring to class.
  • Have the parent draw a heart on the child’s hand like THIS.
  • Make a Kiss Box.
  • Play with SHAVING CREAM (this is such irresistible fun!).

Even with all the tricks, I still had a student that cried every. single. morning he came to school.

For the entire year.

On the morning of the last day I gripped the steering wheel and prayed in the car, “Lord?  Could I just have one day?  PLEASE?”

And sure enough – on the last day of school this precious little boy did not cry.

So maybe that is our biggest tool when it comes to teaching children who struggle with separation anxiety -

PRAYER.

And possibly a nice glass of Merlot.

:-)

- Julie

Easy Teacher Gift for the First Day of School

easy back to school teacher gift

Eeeeeeek!

I start school tomorrow!

I cannot even believe it.  I will be working full-time, ladies.  Full-time.

I am fairly certain that I will never have time to make dinner, clean the house, or pluck my eyebrows again.

But I am really excited about my new class of 2-year-olds and my new classroom has been coming along nicely (more on that to come!).  I have been praying for my precious students by name for the last 2 weeks.

As the Back to School season fast approaches and your little ones are getting their school supplies, new backpacks, and lunch boxes ready, here’s a little extra something to help you remember the new teacher on the first day.

:-)

easy back to school gift for the teacherPrint the FREE Printable tag (see below) and attach a cute little nail polish bottle with a Glue Dot or double-sided tape.

**I found these adorable little nail polishes by elf at Target.**

Teachers like to have nice nails while they’re grading papers.

((Makes things more interesting!))

Or I suppose if you are a preschool teacher like me, we like to have nice nails while we are playing with Play-Doh and changing dirty diapers.

:-)

CLICK HERE for your FREE Printable Back to School Teacher Gift Tag!

Happy Back to School Teacher Gift-ing!

*You can find more easy Back to School Teacher Gift Ideas HERE.*

Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes Review and GIVEAWAY!

The other day a friend of mine said, “Julie, I don’t understand.  You wrote a post about not doing selfies and then now all you are posting is selfies.”

Oh dear.

These are the kind of comments that make me either 1. Want to cry, quit blogging and get out from under the microscope of the whole wide world, or 2. Laugh and say, “But they’re completely selfless selfies!”

Which, I assure you they are – all in the name of helping you build a happy home.

:-)

But just so you don’t judge me for it, let me give you a warning – this post features me again.

And let me be clear that I am totally and completely NOT looking for shout-outs about how beautiful I am.

On the contrary, I will probably be making you all feel better about the size of your pores once this is over – as I could not find a blemish edit circle big enough to help this fairy out.

Plus, I had to put the photos in black and white just to make it easier on your eyes.

Speaking of eyes…

My friend, Marci, shared an amazing new product with me that I had to let y’all know about it!

I’ve never really been one to dream about having longer eyelashes (fake ones are too expensive and laborious for this busy mama), but once Marci showed me how these 3D Fiber Lashes from her company Younique work, I was totally sold.

How fun is this?

Before -

younique 3(Totally lame lashes)

After -

younique 4*Wooooohooooo!  Date night!*

youniqueyounique2This product comes in a beautiful case with one tube of Transplanting Gel and one tube of these amazing Natural Fibers that are taken straight from Green Tea.

(Gotta love that not only are you rocking great lashes, but you can feel good about the ingredients, too.)

It’s totally crazy – the little fibers adhere to your lashes and add great length and fullness.

For application, all you have to do is put on the Gel like you would regular mascara, then put on the fibers, then another quick coating of gel to seal the deal.

younique 5And BAM.

You better go find your husband and give him your best ‘come hither’ look – ‘cuz girl, those lashes are bringin’ it!

;-)

Interested???  You can purchase this incredible product as well as other fabulous make-up products HERE.

((I should check and see if Younique sells something for my pores???)) :-)

Guess what?!

Marci is SO sweet she is GIVING AWAY a FREE set of Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes (a $29 value) here at Happy Home Fairy!!

Would you like to create shock and awe on your next date night???

Here’s what you need to do -

Step 1 – ‘Like’ Marci’s Younique Facebook Page by clicking HERE.

Step 2 – Leave a comment below letting me know you ‘liked’ Marci’s page as well as your name and email address.

**Tell all your friends!**

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (apologies to my sweet international readers).  The giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Thursday, August 7th (EST).  A winner will be randomly selected shortly after and notified by e-mail.

Happy Younique-ing! :-)

*I was given this product at no cost in exchange for a review.  All opinions are 100% mine.