Saturday, April 30, 2011

ABCs and Watermelons

My two year old sings his ABCs (kind of...):


Yesterday I bought a seedless watermelon. I thought the sticker was funny:

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Funny from my Two-Year Old

When my daughter was about 3 years old, she saw Cocoa Puffs cereal in the grocery store and called  it "Meatball Cereal." (She came up with that on her own.) The name stuck, and even though we don't buy Cocoa Puffs cereal, we still call it "meatball cereal."

Today I was eating Total Cranberry Crunch cereal. My two-year old looked into my bowl, saw the cranberries inside, and exclaimed "Ham Cereal!" LOL I think the name is gonna stick...

Here is a picture of the boys on Easter Morning, before we went to church:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Egg Hunt

We went to an Easter Egg Hunt today, and it was a lot of fun! The coordinators put a separate area set aside for babies and toddlers, so the little ones didn't get trampled by the bigger kids. I was very thankful for that. Every parent in our area was very sweet and made sure that all the babies got eggs.

Here are some photos:

Ready to go!

Waiting by the wagon.

Being held by Daddy

I found 2 eggs!

I found 11 eggs!

Enjoying a picnic lunch after the egg hunt.

Hunting eggs is tiring work!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kids, Chores, and Allowances

My friend Angie at the The Cooley Daily News recently posted a question about how many chores should we give our children. Angie, I typed out a beautiful response to you. I'm telling you, it was Pulitzer Prize worthy. Living Poetry! Well...okay, maybe not. But I worked hard to give you a great comment, and stupid Blogger gobbled it up. It disappeared into the nether regions of cyberspace, and I was totally bummed.

So I thought that instead of typing it out all over again as a comment to your post, and facing the possibility that Blogger would eat it up again, I'd just make my own blog post.

I don't claim to be an expert at all, but here's what we've done with our 17 year old daughter.

Her "regular" chores:

1. She is responsible for emptying the dishwasher and kitchen trash.

2. She cleans her own room, including deep cleaning like dusting and vacuuming.

3. She cleans her own bathroom.

4. She does her own laundry, including towels and sheets.

Her "sometimes as needed" chores:

1. Bake/cook whatever food she signed up to bring to one of her MANY extracurricular activities.

2. Help with cleaning the house when we're expecting company.

3. Babysit her little brothers whenever necessary. Sometimes this means that she will miss a social event with her friends, but it's not often. Family responsibilities come before social fun.

4. Bathe the dog. This is usually only in the summer, so she can do it outside with the hose.

5. Anything else that Honey and I might need help with. We understand that she is very busy with academics and worthy extracurricular activities. She rarely goes out with friends just for fun, and she deserves that too. So we don't often ask her to contribute anything beyond this list. But sometimes things come up, and she can be expected to help.

She does not get a regular allowance. We consider these responsibilities necessary to the function and success of our family. We do give her spending money occasionally, but most of her discretionary money comes from birthday/Christmas money given by relatives. We also bought and maintain her car, we buy the gas and insurance, and that is a biggie for us! Neither Honey's nor my parents gave us cars, so this is pretty awesome for her. She knows it, and really appreciates it.

In the summer, we give her a lump sum of money, about $500 that she must use to buy all her clothes for the coming year. This includes socks, undies, everything but athletic wear and running shoes. (We agreed to pay for her sportswear and team fees.) If she runs out of money, well--that's a tough lesson to learn. But whatever she has leftover at the end of the year is hers to keep. We did this for the first time last year, and so far so good. She's running pretty low on her checking account (I'm a joint account holder with online access to see exactly what she's spending her money on!), but I think she'll make do until next August. She'll need a swimsuit, but she'll have to make do with her old one for now. She's had to buy a lot of her clothes from the second-hand store, but she's got a lot of cute clothes.

She wants to get a summer job. She also wants to go to a week-long running camp and a week-long missions trip with church. Honey and I have tried to explain to her that no normal boss would let a teenaged summer-hire take two weeks off of work. But she wants to try anyway, so we'll see what happens!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

ABCs--Getting to Know You

My Friends DMC and TramplingRose did this, and everyone knows I'm such a copycat. Enjoy!

A. Age: Thirty-Eight
B. Bed size: Queen
C. Chore you dislike: Maybe it would be better to let you know the chores I don't mind doing--LOL
D. Dogs: Yes, a 55-lber. Half American Bulldog, Half Aussie Cattle Dog. Her name is Stella
E. Essential start to your day: Lately? Checking e-mail. I used to get my day started with daily devotions, but sleep deprivation and young children have cramped that habit lately. (See letter"T" below.)
F. Favorite color: Purple
G. Gold or silver: Gold
H. Height: 5 ft 3
I. Instruments you play(ed): Flute. I have a music degree, so that meant I took a couple semesters of piano, but I don't claim to play it well.
J. Job title: Mommy. Wife. Taxi Driver. Chef. Gardener. Maid.
K. Kids: Three
L. Live: on 1 acre of the best neighborhood in town!
M. Mom’s name: Stephanie
N. Nicknames: Mommy, Mama, Honey
O. Overnight hospital stays: Three times, when my babies were born.
P. Pet peeves: I love what my friend Bargain Binge said, "These are the types of things I must sit down and pray over rather than complain about…" I wish I was that insightful!
Q. Quote from a movie: I love when Buddy the Elf burps really loud then says, "Did you hear that?" I have a feeling that like it or not, this scenario will play itself out in real life now that I am raising two boys.
R. Righty or lefty: Lefty!
S. Siblings: I am the oldest of three girls.
T. Time you wake up: 12:30 am, 5:30 am, and 7:30 am. That's when the baby wakes. I tell ya, that kid has an inner alarm clock!
U. Underwear: You betcha.
V. Vegetables you don’t like: capers, green olives, pimentos
W. What makes you run late: Generally it's the unexpected things that no one can plan for.
X. X-rays you’ve had: One that I remember for a sprained ankle, and many dental X-rays.
Y. Yummy food you make: Hopefully everything I make is yummy! (Although I've ruined my fair share of meals too: check here: )
Z. Zoo animal favorites: The San Diego Wild Animal Park has an awesome Bird Show. I recommend it if you ever get to see it. They also let you hand feed the giraffes. (Well, they did in 1998 anyway!) The San Diego Zoo has some great polar bears, hippos, and elephants. The Nashville Zoo has a great monkey exhibit. I like all those animals. I enjoy pretty much anything but the reptile house. I have this thing with snakes...

If you have some time on your hands, feel free to post your answers in the comment section. I enjoy reading about other people!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Foul Weather

We had some yucky weather yesterday. Last night, around 7 pm, the tornado sirens went off. We knew they probably would, because we have some awesome local weathermen who really work hard to keep our community safe. So we had our shoes on, the flashlights handy, and we all had our cellphones. When the sirens sounded, we loaded everyone into our daughter's bathroom, since we don't have a basement. We got the all-clear siren soon afterward, but we knew the storms weren't passed yet.

We went to bed as usual. At 5 am, the sirens went off again. We woke up the kids and hauled them back into the bathroom. Honey turned on the television to see where exactly the tornado was spotted. It was at the south side of the county, and we live in the north. So we weren't especially worried. We put the kids back to bed, but of course they were WIDE AWAKE at this point. It was 6:00 when we got the all-clear siren and the kids finally fell back asleep.

This morning we went outside to check our surroundings. Everything is safe, but the asparagus I planted yesterday is sitting in one huge puddle. Grrrrrrrrrr. I got two blisters trying to dig a trench for those plants, and I guess I didn't pick a good spot for them. I need to get them out of that standing water ASAP and find them a better spot.

There was some damage to the south of us though. A roof was blown off a building, and some cars were overturned. Thankfully, there were no reports of injuries or deaths. The same good news hasn't come from Arkansas or Alabama though. There were 16 reported deaths in those states; it's very sad.

I grew up in California. I experienced the bad quake in 1989 where freeways in San Fran collapsed on themselves. Some of my high school teachers were trapped in their homes, and our school was cancelled for a couple of days. Give me tornados any day over earthquakes! At least with tornadoes, you know when and where they're likely to hit. Earthquakes give no warning.

Do you have an emergency plan for the natural disasters you're likely to face?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Ruined Dinner Last Night

My Honey loves hot wings. For him, the hotter the better! I will make them for dinner about once a month. Personally, I don't like them at all. Maybe it's a throwback to my vegetarian days, but any meat still on a bone is completely unappealing to me. But Honey likes hot wings, and I show my love through food.

I normally bake the frozen wings on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees F for about 45 minutes, until they sizzle and look like the meat is beginning to separate from the bone. Meanwhile, I melt a couple Tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce, and about 1/4 cup hot sauce (Honey prefers Texas Pete brand) in a large skillet. Then I toss the wings into the sauce, then serve right away with lots of napkins! The BBQ sauce gives the wings a sweetness that mellows out the hot sauce. Although my Honey eats the hot wings this way, he usually says, "They're not hot enough." I put the bottle of hot sauce by his dinner plate so he can add more heat if he wants.

Last night I cooked the hot wings differently. I omitted the BBQ sauce because he always says they're not hot enough. Then I left them in the pan of sauce while I ran to pick up my daughter from track practice. I wanted the wings to stay warm in the pan until I got home and finished the side dishes (biscuits and lima beans). When I got back home, the wings had absorbed all the sauce.

When my Honey took his first bite, you'd have thought I tried to kill him! Apparently the wings were way too hot!! My daughter was late coming to the table, but she saw his pained reaction and muttered, "I'd better put on some chapstick before I eat any of those!" I explained to Honey why the wings were so hot this time, but it was an accident. I didn't realize they'd soak up all the hot sauce when I left them in the pan.

My Honey rinsed all the hot wings in a colander to remove any excess hot sauce, then covered them with a lot of BBQ sauce. He said they were still flaming hot, but he managed to eat them. We had a few leftovers, so I bit into one just to see what all the fuss was about. WOW--EEE!! Even after the BBQ sauce, they were still like fire to me! I'm glad I didn't taste them before Honey "fixed" them.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Clematis and Sunflowers

There was a clematis vine growing along the fence when we bought our house. (At least, I'm assuming it's a clematis vine...if you know that it's something different, please set me straight!) I've been terrible about keeping it pruned, and I thought most of the upper vines were dead. But this year it's blooming so pretty!  See for yourself--

This year I grew miniature "pollenless" sunflowers from seed. They are blooming now, and they make me smile!

What are your favorite flowers?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Cupboards are Dripping with Honey!

I have enough honey in my pantry to last about a year or more! See what I mean?

I bought the Burleson's brand a few months ago. It was $8, and I hated to pay that much for it, but we were completely out of honey at the time. Then the commissary was selling the SueBee brand (5 pounds!) for $6.99, so I gladly stocked up. Then my Honey's allergies (no, my Husband, not the actual Honey!) were acting up terribly, and our neighbor brought over the half-empty mason jar of local honey for him as a home remedy. My Honey (Husband) then went to the local farmers market to repay our neighbor with a full jar. Our neighbor is so sweet and refused to let us pay him back. So now we've got even more honey!

I don't mind having honey on hand, because it is the only food known to man never to go bad. Really! Check it out here: Does Honey Ever Spoil? I just have to store it all, and space is a premium commodity in my little house.

I make some of my breads with honey, and I like it on pancakes. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE  a good PB and honey sandwich. Honey butter is good on biscuits. Do you have any other ideas for using up all this honey?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spicy Chicken Soup for a Sick Day

The boys and I have nasty colds. I found a recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup a couple of years ago, and I've refined it more to my family's preferences. It's what my stuffy nose is craving today, but it's a little too spicy for the boys. (They'll get leftover beef pot pie from last night's supper.)

Here's how I make my version of Chicken Tortilla Soup:

1 pound cooked, shredded chicken breasts
1 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes, no salt added
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce, no salt added
1 4-oz. can diced green chiles
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 cups water
2 cubes chicken bouillon (I prefer the Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base. It comes in a paste form, but I use the equivalent of 2 cubes of the dried stuff. Sometimes I'll use 4 cups of homemade chicken broth.)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, but it really kicks up the heat if you like it spicy)
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon dried cilantro
1 10-oz. package frozen corn

Dump all this into a slow cooker and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours, or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Remove bay leaf. Add salt and more spices if necessary.

7 corn tortillas
vegetable oil spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut tortillas into strips, and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Spray the tops with a light coat of vegetable oil spray, and sprinkle with salt. Bake about 10 to 15 minutes, just until crisp. Watch them closely, because they get brown quickly! Serve these crispy tortilla chips over the soup. You can also add a bit of shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream, or some sliced scallions on top if you'd like.

I have this soup simmering in my slow cooker right now, and it smells yummy. Hopefully you'll like it too.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wheat Bread Recipe

I've been tinkering with different ways to use the whey that's leftover when I make Greek-style yogurt. My favorite methods are in baking. I've used the whey to replace milk in cornbread and pancakes, both with yummy results. Today I made some wheat bread that turned out really soft and tender, so I wanted to share the recipe with you:

Wheat Bread (makes 2 loaves)
2 cups yogurt whey, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
4 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar and yeast into the whey. Mix in the salt and oil. Add flours, one cup at a time. Knead dough on a well-floured surface until smooth, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a well-greased bowl, turn dough to coat, and cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape into loaves and place in two greased loaf pans. Allow to rise until doubled in size again until the dough has risen about 1 inch above the loaf pans, about 1 hour.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. If the bread starts to brown excessively while baking, cover with foil. Spray tops of freshly baked loaves with cooking spray to give them a nice sheen.

The finished product:

Seasonal Allergies

My Honey has the worst seasonal allergies of anyone I know. Seriously.

He mowed the lawn last Friday, the first time this Spring. He was sick with allergies, I mean completely down and out, until Sunday afternoon. I think he got a bit of sinusitis, because he had a fever and a nasty headache.

Any ideas for what he can do? Here's his current battle plan, maybe you can suggest some other ideas.

1. Use a mask whenever he mows the lawn. He doesn't like them though, because he says that when they get sweaty, it's too hard to breathe through them. I bought him a mask with a valve in it, hopefully that will help the air flow. (I've offered to mow the lawn during the bad part of the pollen season, but he's too sweet to make me do it.)

2. Allegra every morning. He's tried Claritin and Zyrtec, but they don't work for him.

3. Nasalcrom every morning, then again as needed. It gives him an initial sneezing fit, but does help afterward.

4. Neti pot about 4 times a day, especially when he comes indoors, to rinse out his nasal passages.

5. Benadryl during the day as needed to help dry him up. The downside is it makes him very sleepy. (If anyone needs a cure for insomnia, my Honey's got it--take Benadryl before you try to study a very dry economics textbook. Makes him snore every time!)

6. NyQuil to really help dry him up and sleep through the night.

7. Our neighbor suggested eating local honey. The downside to that is it must be locally made, and you need to take it year round for the benefits to build up in your system. My Honey doesn't think about his allergies during the winter time!

8. He keeps the cars and patios hosed down. Our dog stays outside until bedtime, but she is not allowed in our bedroom. She sleeps on her own doggie bed in the living room. As much as I hate it, we keep the windows and doors closed up in our house during the worst part of the yearly "pollen dump," as my Honey calls it.

9.  I keep telling him that he needs to go to the doctor. But you know how men can be...

Any other home remedies you can offer would be very much appreciated!