Monday, February 28, 2011

Dear Spring...

Dear Spring..

We've been enjoying you the past few days. We've gone outside to collect leaves and wood chips and dirt.

We also like to find rocks and leave them in random places so mowing the lawn will be more of an adventure for daddy. 

Then we cruise on our awesome tricycles. One of us just barely reaches the pedals, but he looks good doing it.


Finally we end the day sitting on our deck with some family fire pit time. (That's right people. Our playhouse has an awesome little deck while our real house does not. Mom thinks that this is pretty ironic, but she'll take whatever kind of deck she can get at this point.)


Burn stray sticks! Burn!


Please don't leave us again, Spring. Despite the mosquito that kept flying around daddy's head last night, we're ready for you to stay.
Sincerely,
Gabbi and Micah.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Black Daddy


Has anyone else seen "The Electric Company"? It's a pretty big hit in our house. The kids like the silly story lines and I'm always impressed when Lin-Manuel Miranda performs. (Although I think it's pretty sad that I'm much more familiar with "Silent E is a Ninja" then his work on "In the Heights".) Anyway, EVERY TIME the music man segment comes on, both of my kids point at the screen and yell "Daddy! Look mommy - daddy is on this show!" This is the music man:
So many things about this boggle my mind. My husband is bald. And white. Well, Hispanic, but you'd never know it from looking at him. I also feel that I should point out the Lou does not have a round middle. Usually you only see the music man from the head up, so my kids probably didn't take that into consideration. If I take away the Afro, maybe I can see it a little bit.. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why I Suck as a Parent...

Is it because prior to typing this I was playing fetch with my 2 year old? (Seriously, I was trying to type an e-mail and he kept handing me his ball. I would throw it across the room and he would run after it and bring it right back. Who needs a dog?)

Nope.

Most of you know about my current issues with Micah and his “failure to thrive.” He’s not a great eater and he’s super active, and when we went for his two year check up his pediatrician was concerned about his lack of appropriate weight and height gain from the last visit. So, while I had subscribed to the “this is what we’re eating and you can take it or leave it” method of mealtimes, apparently my kids just don’t care if they starve. They are content to live on Cheerios and drinkable yogurt. Is this why I suck? Nope.

Since that fateful visit, I’ve pretty much let him eat whatever he wants, whenever he wants. I still try to get nutritious foods in him at mealtimes, but the rest of the day is a free for all. 

Globs of peanut butter in a bowl?!? Sure! 

Extra Chick-Fil-A waffle fries AND a milkshake?!? Yup! 

Shots of whipped cream from the can?!? Of course!

I still haven’t reached the point in this little story where I have an epic fail in parenting skills, so here it is.
Micah has been eating much better. It seems the more I let him choose to eat between meals, the more he would eat during meals. This was not holding true for Gabbi, so I thought I would try to motivate her in a different way.  About a week ago, after she ate two bites of her dinner and declared herself done, we had this little conversation:

Me: “Gabbi, do you know how Micah needs to gain some weight so he can be healthy?”

Gabbi: “Yeah.”

Me: “Well, if he doesn’t gain the weight the doctors will have to take some blood to make sure there is nothing else wrong with him. If you don’t eat your food, you might get too skinny, and the doctors might get worried about you too.”

Gabbi: “I don’t want the doctors to take my blood.”

Me: “Well, then you need to eat a good dinner, and maybe try a veggie or two.”

Fail.

After every meal (and sometimes just at random), Gabbi says “Mommy – I don’t want to be skinny! I don’t want them to take me to the hospital and take all of my blood!” I have managed to plant the seeds of an eating disorder at the tender age of 4. Twenty years from now, if you see 400 pounds of poor Gabbi on the Biggest Loser, it’s my fault. 

And that is why I suck as a parent. (This week, anyway.) 
Chocolate Peanut butter hearts?!? I'll need at least 12 of them, or else I might get too skinny...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Expecting:Haiti

For those of you that are praying with me, go to this post. Names, pictures, and due dates are up!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The funniest thing I've read this week..

...was this post. I think this might be me in a few years, and it's a very good example why homeschooling is not in my future. Myriads of children dodged the bullet when I decided to switch out of an education major.
Speaking of funny, this was the card I picked up for Lou for Valentine's Day.
 Pretty generic, right? Then I opened it up...
 

...and it looks just like our family (minus the dog). I'm not sure if this means that we're the typical bald-dad-brunette-mom-two-child-white-bread family, or if some creeper saw a picture of us on the internet six months ago and decided to make a Hallmark card. Thoughts?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cheesy Potato Goodness


Here is the much requested Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole Recipe. This is a great brunch recipe, but I could eat this morning, noon, and night. 
  
Ingredients
1 (10 ¾ ounce) can cream of chicken soup
8-ounces Colby cheese, shredded
½ cup onion, chopped
½ cup margarine, melted
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
42 ounces frozen country-style hashbrown potatoes

Directions
 1.  Preheat oven to 375ยบ.

2.  In a stand mixer, place soup, cheese, onion, margarine, pepper and salt. Mix on low speed for one minute. (I don’t have fancy kitchen gadgets, so I just used my hand mixer.) 

3.  Add frozen shredded potatoes. Mix on low speed for one minute. (Make sure that the potatoes are slightly thawed and not in one giant frozen clump, especially if you’re using a hand mixer. I learned this the hard way.)

4.  Spray 13” x 9” pan with food release spray.

5.  Place entire contents into sprayed pan, loosely spread casserole to fill pan at even level.

6.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

7.  Serve hot and enjoy!

Super easy, and it tastes just like what they serve at the Crack. Let me know what you think if you end up making it. Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Who Loves Preggos?!? Part 2

 Expecting:Haiti 
        My first experience with Haiti was right after college. We went on a cruise that was supposed to take us to Cozumel and Grand Cayman. Thanks to a wicked hurricane, we were diverted to Haiti and Jamaica. (Not the tourist Jamaica. The roosters running wild/men peeing in the street/do-NOT-take-a-taxi-without-a-red-license-plate-because-you’ll-never-be-seen-again part of Jamaica. But that’s a story for another day.) In Haiti I bought this awesome soapstone carving of a woman holding her baby. (Unfortunately it was somehow decapitated in my baggage on the way home, hence the glue necklace). 
Anyway, since that trip, Haiti lodged itself in my brain heart. A few years ago, Compassion began the Child Survival program. This program helps mothers and babies in impoverished countries like, you guessed it, Haiti. (It’s an awesome program. You can read more about it here.) So I decided that I should throw some support their way. Maybe that would be the end of it, and it was. For awhile. Then the earthquake happened. And my friends started adopting. I started reevaluating certain things. And suddenly it’s not enough for me to just donate some money every month. I really, really want to adopt from Haiti. (Siblings, preferably.) It seems that God has other plans for the moment though. Lou is not totally on board – he’s not against it, but he doesn’t feel strongly that it’s something we’re called to do right now. Also, to adopt from Haiti, you are required to have been married for 10 years, and we’ve got a few years to go. So I’ve been thinking about what else I could do to shut-up quiet this voice in me that keeps telling me that Haiti and I aren't quite finished yet. (Notice I said “thinking about” and not “praying about.” It never dawned on me to pray about it. I wonder how much simpler life would be if I just would pray before I thought.) 
Last week I came across this blog. That’s right, click and read. Right now. I’ll wait.

Can you imagine? 

I.Must.Do.Something. 

Thankfully, God impressed the same thought on Marla Taviano’s brilliant mind.  (I know you guys are probably tired of the hyperlinks, but it’s totally worth the read.) In a nutshell, Marla wrote a book called “Expecting” that helps you pray through the forty weeks of the baby’s development.  This next part I copied directly from her blog:

“What if WE women here in this online space, we women who CAN read and have the luxury of time and money and safety and access to health care and know Jesus, what if WE could do something for these women and their unborn babies?
What if WE could hold a copy of Expecting in our hands and pray the prayers for a God-breathed womb-baby down in Haiti as he or she develops inside of Mama? What if we could pray for a Haitian girl BY NAME, pray for her THROUGH HER PREGNANCY, and then get to rejoice with her when her baby is born?
I get chills just thinking about it.
I e-mailed Heather with my idea, and she was so gracious, so thankful that there might be some women who would care enough about these women in Haiti to pray for them once a week, or a couple times a week, or every day.
She’s going to get me a list of names of mamas-to-be along with their estimated due dates. Some will be early on in their pregnancies. Most will probably be later on. And you can do however much or little God lays on your heart.
You can choose one name to pray for. You can pray for the whole list. You can pray for a handful. You can pray once a week or more than that.”

I am super duper excited about this. I have a book on the way. If this is something that God is laying on your heart, but you can’t afford the book, you can still pray! Who’s with me?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Who Loves Preggos?!? Part 1


If you have your hand raised, or just yelled “Me! Me! I love pregnant women!”, then this post is for you. (Notice that I did NOT say “Who loves being preggo?!?” as I’m sure that statement would have been met with much less enthusiasm.) I have two ministries that I’d like to highlight;one today and one tomorrow. I had originally put them all on one post, but it was super long, so you have to come back tomorrow for part two. And today's preggo-friendly ministry is:

Choices of the Heart 

Most of you know that I have been involved with this ministry for a few years now. Check out their website here. Choices is our local non-profit crisis pregnancy center. It offers confidential guidance and support to those who face an unplanned pregnancy. This pregnancy resource center supports both women and men who are looking for assistance in any of the following areas:
  • Abortion information
  • Pregnancy counseling
  • Pregnancy testing
  • Sexuality information
  • Post-abortion syndrome
  • Financial assistance
  • Medical referrals
  • Ultrasound screenings
  • STD information
There are a number of ways you can help support them:
          The Baby Bottle Campaign -  I give you a baby bottle, you fill it with your loose change, you return it to me and the proceeds go directly to the ministry. Easy and painless.

          Clean Out Your Closet – Get a jump on your spring de-cluttering! Choices has just opened a thrift store. Instead of dragging your clothes and/or other stuff you no longer use to the donation bin near Wal-Mart, drop it off at Choices. They will resell your stuff and all proceeds will benefit the ministry. You get more closet space and they benefit from your old stuff. Everyone wins.

          Volunteer! – Choices is currently in need of volunteers, especially in the Burlington Mall location.  As a former counselor, I can tell you that counseling is not always easy, nor is it within the comfort zone of most people. However, I think that God can’t use us too well when we’re too comfortable. I’m pretty sure that He wants us to rely on what He can do, despite ourselves, rather than thinking that we’re skilled or qualified to “help Him out” in ministries. If you fell like God has been calling you to this ministry and you’ve been dragging your feet, or hemming and hawing about it, then consider this a swift kick in the butt from the Almighty. (And, did I seriously just use the phrase “hemming and hawing”? Where did that come from?)  
     
     Pray about what role you're going to take. And make sure you come back tomorrow because I'm going to share something that I'm super duper excited about. :-)

Monday, February 7, 2011

My Favorite Recipe

Dinnertime is always an adventure in my house. I live with a number of picky eaters. Gabbi won’t eat anything that’s a fruit, or a veggie, or has sauce, or is not the right shape/color/consistency. Micah has gotten a little bit better, as long has he has a number of utensils to pick and choose from (on demand) and as long as he can eat half of his meal off of someone else’s plate. Lou claims that he’s not picky, and he’s not. As long as the meat is chicken or pork chops…and said chicken or pork chops are breaded and/or smothered with sauce…and said sauce contains NO chunks and is completely smooth…and that the side is egg noodles or macaroni and cheese. That being said, this is a recipe that everyone in my family really likes. It’s my go-to recipe for bringing meals to people after they’ve had a baby. I got it from my awesome mother-in-law who also knows a thing or two about picky eaters. 

Savory Crescent Chicken Squares
Serves 4(ish) 

Ingredients:
4 cups cubed cooked chicken
3 tbsp butter, softened
2oz cream cheese, softened
4 tbsp half and half (I just use milk)
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
½ tsp dried parsley (I omit this – Gabbi won’t eat anything with “leaves” in it and I’m not sure that it adds any actual flavor)
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 (8oz) cans of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

Directions:
1.       Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl combine all ingredients (except for the crescent rolls) and mix well. (I usually do this ahead; it makes it quicker to put everything together when it’s time to actually cook dinner.)
2.       Separate each can of dough into four rectangles. Firmly press perforations to seal. Spoon 1/2 cup chicken mixture onto the center of each rectangle. Pull the four corners of dough together and twist. Pinch edges together to seal. (It’s usually not pretty, but as long as it’s all sealed you’re fine.) Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
3.       Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with gravy.

Gravy:
1 can Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup
½ can milk
¼ tsp dried parsley (again, I omit this)
Combine in saucepan and heat, stirring often.

One other modification I use when making this has to do with the onion. Lou won’t eat anything with chunks of onion in it. (I know, he’s not picky at all.) Instead I use a tablespoon of Tastefully Simple’s Onion Onion spice mix. It adds a really nice flavor to the chicken mixture and it saves me from having to chop an actual onion.

There you have it – comfort food at its finest. (And by finest, I mean easy to make and still super delicious.) If you make this, let me know what you think. Bon Appetite!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saturday Night Shenanigans

This one's entitled "Potato People: With a Bird in the Sky that Didn't Hatch Yet." She's only four, yet her artistic abilities are already on par with mine.



They love each other (for the moment anyway).

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Snow Bowl

I am not a fan of snow. It’s cold and wet and it turns bad drivers into really, really bad drivers. My kids, on the other hand, love it. Every time it snows they sit on the window sill and watch the flakes and I wait for the dreaded question… “Mom – can we go outside and play in the snow?!?” Nooooooooo!

Before you tell me that I really should change the name of this blog to Mediocre Mama, let me explain two things:

1. My husband is usually the one who takes them outside and plays in the snow with them. He loves pulling them on the sled and building snowmen and teaching them how to make the optimal snowball. The kids love that they get special time with Daddy. I love that I get ten minutes of alone time.

2. I have a four year old and a two year old. They have very different snow tolerances. One will play outside until frostbite sets in, while the other usually lasts about ten minutes. If I spend the 20 minutes it takes to get them bundled up and out the door, I can almost guarantee that after 15 minutes one will be crying to go in and the other will be crying to stay outside.

I had been hoping for a snow-free winter, but that hasn’t worked out so well. To make matters worse, my husband’s work hours have been extra long (he’s usually not home during the light of day), so there’s no playing outside with Daddy when he gets home from work.

During the last big snow, I had an epiphany. Instead of taking them out to the snow, I would bring the snow to them. Thus the “snow bowl” was born. I opened the back door, scooped snow into a bowl for each of them, and let them play contentedly on the kitchen floor. They played for much longer in the kitchen then they would have outside, and I got to sit with a cup of coffee and relax. I’m not sure whether this makes me a genius or just super lazy. As long as everyone is happy, does it matter?

That's right ladies. Not only do I not have to bundle them up, I don't even have to take them out of their pajamas.

The princesses decided to make a few snow angels too.

And it begins..

Hello, and welcome to my little corner of the universe.

I’ve been debating whether or not to start a blog for some time. I’m not pregnant, not adopting, not running my own business or writing a book; I knew there would be a lack of cohesive theme. However, I do like passing along a good deal, sharing stories that make my girlfriends laugh, letting others in on things that have made my life easier, and getting people excited about new ministry opportunities. I considered names like The Half-Assed Housewife (already taken) and The Mediocre Mama (because excellence is totally overrated). But what I really wanted was to provide a little escape from the chaos that surrounds most of us on a daily basis. So, grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit back and relax with me for five minutes.

At ease, ladies. The world can wait.


P.S. When I created the URL for this page, I meant for it to say "Alicia at ease".blogsopt. I just noticed that it can also be read "Alicia a tease".blogspot. Fantastic. My children will be so proud someday.