Wednesday, February 27, 2008

She's Gone And Done It!

I specifically remember telling my oldest daughter that she could not get any older! But today she's gone and turned 8 on me!! I just can't believe that eight years ago I was laying in a hospital bed (I"d been there since midnight) trying to give birth to this little munchkin. And after 2o hours and a lot of drama she was born. Oh, the drama still continues on a daily basis and she keeps me on my toes. She's my red-headed child....stubborn, dramatic, smart, serious, and such fun.
We've gone from wearing only skirts and dresses all through our kindergarten year to wearing jeans with holes in the knees from where she falls playing football on the playground. Yes, football!! She sings like an angel and has a flair of the artistic sort. She loves to cuddle with her Dad and watch the latest episode of Mythbusters. She has my sweet tooth and adores chocolate. Em looks after her sisters and is a friend to many.

Em's first day of Kindergarten

Em this winter

My husband said it best when he held her for the first time eight years ago, "I can't believe we made something this perfect."

Me either, Happy Birthday my sweet girl!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Memorable Moments Monday

Last week I visited Soph at school. I felt a little like a movie star with her friends oohing and ahhing over me. I've been up to school on several occasions, but this time felt different. I kept feeling the curious eyes of five and six year olds studying my face, taking in every freckle that graces my face (and there are many). I thought it to be a little odd, but quickly forgot about it until later that night. Soph was sitting at the kitchen table having a snack as I worked on dinner when she asked, "Mom, where in Switzerland were you born?"
Concentrating on the task at hand, "Ummm, what honey?"
"Where in Switzerland were you born?"
Did she say Switzerland? I didn't even know she knew that Switzerland existed.
"I wasn't born in Switzerland honey."
"You weren't?"
"Nope." Then wondering where she got such an idea, "Why did you think I was born in Switzerland?"
"Well, because Dad called you a cheese head and they make cheese in Switzerland."
Looking into the ever wise large brown eyes of my five year old I suppressed a chuckle.
"Oh, well that was a good guess. I was actually born in Wisconsin and they make cheese there too!"
Chewing thoughtfully Soph nods her head, "Okay, well I told all my friends you were Swiss."
What?!!! Has my child been reading National Geographic on the side...she cracks me up.

So, yes I am sort of a cheese head. I shouldn't be though, and I take issue with my parents over it. But that is another story and I'll save that for later.

Do you have a memorable moment?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Promised Quick Way to Gourmet Post

On Wednesday, I talked about making a gourmet meal (or just plain ole dinner) in stages throughout the day to help with dinnertime craziness. I promised another dinner we like to make and this one includes a yummy dessert. The menu is grilled chicken with Spicy Peanut Sauce and Potato Wafflecakes and Chocolate Cappuccino Pudding Cake (recipes from Lake Austin Spa Resort).

Okay, here is how I do it. At lunchtime while little one is in her highchair I grill the chicken breasts. I make extra for future meals and also one for me for lunch! While those grill I throw the sauce together and put in refrigerator. Oh, at breakfast I get out all the non-perishable ingredients and lay them out on the counter so I'll be ready. When chicken in done I put into fridge. Later at snack or nap time I peel potatoes and boil. Make your mashed potatoes just like you like them and then put in the fridge.
About 30 minutes before dinner time I wrap the chicken breasts in foil and heat in the oven, put sauce in pan and warm, and get out waffle iron to begin heating. You can make your potato pancakes the traditional way with some oil in a skillet, but my husband discovered the waffle iron makes things easy and quick. We have a Belgium waffle iron and one that is heart shaped that makes thinner waffles, that's the one we like to use because they are nice and crisp! We like to have salads with dinner so I can throw one together now.

Now that I have everything done I have time to make a yummy dessert. The girls love to help with this so with their help we put it together and stick it in the oven to bake, since it will take an hour to bake we go ahead and make it and bake it so it will be ready after dinner.

Obviously, I don't get to cook like this all the time. There are many days I'm just not home to be cooking in steps, but for special occasions or when I am home I try to think of things I can do to make the evening more enjoyable for my family. I want to concentrate on my kids when they are home, not be running around in the kitchen stressing about dinner. But I also want to put a good dinner on the table for my family! Hope some of these tips help you:)


Chocolate Cappuccino Pudding Cake
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup evaporated skim milk
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg white
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate morsels, melted (I forgot to melt them and threw them in whole and it seemed to work fine!)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
13/4 cups hot water
1/4 cup instant cappuccino mix (2 envelopes)

Combine the baking powder, flour, sugar, 2 Tablespoons baking cocoa, and salt in a large bowl. Mix the evaporated milk, canola oil, vanilla, and egg white in a separate bowl.
Whisk the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate. Spray a 4x6 baking pan (I used a loaf pan) with nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour (I used Baker's Joy). Spread the chocolate batter into pan. Mix the brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa in a bowl. Sprinkle over the cake batter. Combine the hot water and cappuccino mix in a bowl. Gently pour over the top of the cake batter. Do not stir. Bake at 350 for about an hour or until the top of the cake springs back when touched. Serve with a dollop of frozen yogurt or lite cool whip.
(This cake is nice and gooey and soupy in the middle, only the top part is cooked solid!) Eat warm from the oven:)

Spicy Peanut Sauce

When I made this it was really spicy so for little ones or those that don't like the spice cut back on how much chipotle in adobe sauce you use. Also, we enjoyed the leftover sauce as dip and I spread some on a corn tortilla with cheese and made like a quesadilla!

2 medium tomatoes
2 garlic cloves minced
1 can chipotole chili in adobe sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons smooth reduced-fat all natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Chicken broth or water as needed

Grill the tomatoes along with the chicken turning occasionally until they begin to char. Combine tomatoes in the blenderr or food processor with the garlic, chile, brown sugar, cumin, oregano, cilantro, peanut butter and lime juice. Puree mixture thinning a little with stock or water. Serve sauce warmed ontop of chicken.

Okay, there you have it. It is so worth the time you'll take to do this meal in steps!! Hope you like it:)

I've been tagged!

My friend Amy has tagged me. This is how it goes:
Here are the Rules: Post the rules on your blog, and then give your answers. List one fact about yourself for each letter in your middle name. Each fact must begin with a letter from your middle name. If you do not have a middle name, use your maiden name(or create a middle name).Once you are tagged, update your blog with your middle name and your answers. At the end of your post, tag one person for each letter of you middle name. Leave them a comment on their blog telling them that they have been tagged, and that they need to come read your blog for details.

Okay, my middle name is Ann and my youngest shares this same middle name. I remember my mom once telling me she wanted to name me Kara Lynn but was afraid people would call me Caroline so instead my middle name bacame Ann. St. Ann was my favorite Saint growing up, Mary's mother, and I thought having her as my Christian name was pretty cool. Alright on with the tag.

A - Autumn is my favorite season. Leaves tinted gold, red, and brown, crispness in the air, and I can just smell the hot apple cider and fresh pumpkin as it is scooped out of its shell!

N - Never say Never is a personal motto of mine. I say this to my daughters when they are complaining that they will never be able to do something... like scuba dive in the Carribean, or hopping with the kangaroos, or when they say they will never make their kids do chores.

N - Novelist. Hopefully, someday I will be known as the Novelist Kara *******.

Now I tag Pat, Connie, and Sasha.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday

Okay, I'll admit there are times that my husband walks through the door at 6:00 and I haven't even started dinner. Why you ask? Well, because it's been one of those days. The baby is fussy, my two oldest children need attention with homework etc., and I'm tempted to throw a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a plate and call it quits. We've come a long way from the gourmet meals that used to grace our table in my earlier years. But, then I started to figure out ways to make dinner easier and still keep things healthy.
First of all a crock-pot can be a girls best friend. The key here, for my family, is making meals that are low-fat. So instead of cooking a whole meal in a crockpot I just do parts. Like throw in a roast so that by dinner time it is cooked giving me time to whip up a few sides. I love to throw potatoes wrapped in foil in the crockpot in the morning and by the evening they are ready for me to heat up the left-overs in the fridge for a killer baked potato.
Also, meals you can cook in stages are great. We eat a lot of chicken around here (lean, white meat...yes, my husband has become obsessed with good nutrition, which I guess is a very good thing!). Anyway, back to the chicken. The neat thing with chicken is that I can at any point during the day throw some chicken breasts on my grill pan and cook away. I usually do this when Little One is having a snack in her high chair. I throw them in the fridge to reheat at dinnertime. Then we have them on salads, tacos, or I make a sauce to go on top. Any prep work that I can do during the day I do. If I have a couple of minutes I chop up some onions or carrots or whatever I'm going to use later. Throw together a salad and stick it in the fridge for dinner. You get the idea. So now in the evening I can throw stuff on the stove or oven to reheat and waalaa a gourmet dinner in minutes.
Here's one of our favorites:
Make salad during the day.
Slice bread and butter, wrap in foil during snack time.
During nap time I make meatballs: 1 lb ground beef, 1 slice of bread soaked in milk and squeezed dry and crumbled into meat, 1 garlic clove chopped, 1 small onion minced, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Mix and roll into meatballs. If you have time now go ahead and brown meatballs in skillet with olive oil, if not do later.

That night dump spaghetti sauce into pan, throw in browned meatballs and let it simmer. Boil water for spaghetti, throw bread in 350 oven to warm. Get out salad and in just 10 minutes dinner will be on the table!

I just look for meals that can be made in steps throughout the day. It's a great way for me to still serve good, nutritious meals and still have plenty of time for my kids. And it gives us time to make a yummy dessert, and my girls love helping with that!

I'll post another Quick Way To Gourmet recipe tomorrow! And a very yummy low cal chocolate dessert....
For more tips head over to Rocks In My Dryer!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Battle of the Germs

Everyone here says it's been the worst winter they can remember in a long time as far as sickness goes. Lucky us! The news reported that both of our major hospitals are completely full and they are sending patients to the nearest town which is two hours away for care. Apparently, staph, strep, and flu infections are the cause. Everyone in my house got the flu shot but me, but they say that because of the mutation in the virus this year the shot only gives you a 50/50 shot of not getting it. I'd say that is about right because Soph and now hubby have definitely had a form of it. Yes, just when I got my girls well and back to school hubby starts complaining of feeling bad this weekend. By Sunday he had no voice and a bad cough. Monday, which was a holiday for him, he wakes up running a fever and goes quickly downhill from there.

I think I said three words to him all day. He was miserable and I made him my sister's immunity broth and tried to help any way I could. But, men are a different animal when they get sick and I've learned to just let him lie in bed with the sheets over his head until he surfaces. The girls and I ate early and settled in. Soph was supposed to go to the doctor at 7:00, yes that is p.m. to have her rash looked at but it seemed better so I cancelled. Figured she didn't need to be around all those sick people. About 6:30 hubby came down and mumbled that he needed to go to the Urgent Care Clinic. So we all packed up and headed out. I knew they didn't close until 8:00 so we had some time. I think his words to me in the car were, "I think I'm going to die."
As I sped to the clinic I prayed that Little One would not catch this terrible flu or myself for that matter, because who was going to take care of everyone if I got sick!!

I dropped him off at the door to the clinic, prepared to endure a long wait with three kids out in the car, while I found a parking space. Before I could drive off my husband was back at the car saying the note on the door said because of large patient load no more patients would be seen that night. But it was only 6:30....but I also know those doctors would probably be there half the night as it was. So I drove across town to the other clinic to find their doors locked, not taking any more patients I guess. The other option was the ER, but hubby decided he just wanted to go home. So back home we went. Made a call to Nurse Mom and got instructions on getting his temp down. When I checked on him at 9:00 he was sweating, good sign. I checked again at 1:00 to make sure he took an Advil and he was awake and didn't feel warm. So this am he still sounds terrible, but has a little more life in him. He has definitely turned the corner, so I consider us lucky. Some people have had this flu and it lasted for a week or more. Poor Soph ran a high temp for four days.

Anyway, just had to give the latest medical update here from the Cotton-Top Infirmary!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Memorable Moments Monday

Pancake Supper
A couple of weeks ago we went back to our old hometown for the annual Fat Tuesday's Pancake Supper at St. Matthew's. This is the school that is near and dear to our hearts not only because Em and Soph started out there, but because I had the privilege of teaching and later directing there. Actually, the other title for director was Headmistress. Yes, I was a Headmistress, but the images evoked by that name....well I'll leave it at that!
Here are the girls and I after finishing our yummy pancakes and bacon. It was a very cold, yucky day and I look a little pooped. Well I was, it was a long day, followed by a long drive and okay this is what I normally look like in the evening. It was such a rushed trip we didn't get a chance to visit any of our neighbors, but we were lucky to see lots of people dear to us at the dinner. The girls music teacher snapped this pic, a lady whom my girls were blessed to have because she instilled in them a love of music. I can't say enough good things about this school. The class sizes were small, the teachers devoted, Mother Linda started each of their days off with giving thanks to God during chapel, and a school board and parish family that truly cared about the children. Things weren't perfect, they never are, but I wonder if the families whose children go there realize how lucky they are. I know, from experience, some of them don't. But, well that is a whole other post!
Anyway, it was a memorable night and wonderful to see some of our old friends!!
Do you have a Memorable Moment this Monday?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Kamikazi Quail

Yesterday as the girls and I were gathered in the kitchen we heard a loud crash. We all jumped, but my eight year old gets the prize for not only the highest leap, but the loudest screech. At first I figured it was just the hose from the shop vac crashing to the floor after my daughter had carelessly strung it over something. So we went about our business until Soph went to look out the front window.
"Mom, look at this!"

Do you see that big hole and shattered glass in my storm window? I immediately told the girls to get to the back of the house. The thoughts that ran through my head were a. somebody was shooting skeet across the way and the wind blew it at my house b. some passerby threw a brick at my window and may still be lurking about (okay, yes we live at the end of our street in the middle of the country in which we get very little drive by's, but still!) So I of course picked up the phone and called hubby on his cell as he was still thirty minutes from home. I told him what the damage was and then walked outside while talking to him. Because if I was to get beaned by an errant skeet or flying brick I wanted him to witness the event, or at least hear my yelp before I hit the ground. That's what marriage is about isn't it?

This is what I see from the outside:

Oh, this picture was taken after I determined there was no danger. Little One had been tucked safely in the back with her sisters. But let's look at Little One's expression for a moment:

"What the heck happened here? They better not blame me!!"

Anyway, a foot away I see this. Please if you are of the sensitive nature shield your eyes from the next photo.

This photo tells me two things about this quail: 1. He mistook our window for the one in the Windex commercial 2. We are overfeeding our birds.

Our next door neighbor is a CSI detective and I really wanted to call him over to investigate the scene of the crime. Put up some yellow tape, take some measurements, collect some feathers, you know routine stuff. Could have been some fowl play involved, never know.

Oh, can you guess what we had for dinner that night?

*Just kidding, really!

Friday, February 15, 2008

It Does Take A Village to Raise A Child

Or at least extended family and friends and sometimes even a stranger in a grocery store. Here's the thing, when you have three children and only one you, along with a husband that works an hour away, things can get hectic. Who are we kidding things got hectic with only one child! Anyway, since the sickness has plagued us this winter it has made life difficult at times. Luckily, we have been blessed with some extraordinary people that have come into our lives since our move a year ago. Because what would I do when I'm taking my eight year old home from school early with a fever, crying because she was supposed to go home with a friend and now can't, but my five year old still has an hour left of school? In a village the villagers would pitch in and make sure your youngin made it home. Probably get fed a snack along the way... Or in my case,a dear friend offers to take home your kiddo after school, feeds them a nutritiously, yummy dinner and drops her off at home on the way into town that night. Or when you're trying to figure out how to juggle two sick kids and take your oldest and her friend to gymnastics that night, your friend steps in and offers to again feed child and take kids to gymnastics...see what I mean!!
My husband chips in when he can, but the hour commute makes it difficult to drop things at the spur of the moment. I get reassuring and validating phone calls from family far away, which keeps me sane. I even get help from sweet ladies in the grocery who take pity on me as I stand in a line that is not moving, bouncing a screaming child on hip, while two older children try their best to be patient. She no doubts recognizes my panicked expression as I stare at my overflowing cart wondering if we had enough food at home to survive and if I could possibly give in to the urge to flee with children from the store, leaving the cart to stand in line alone.
I used to refuse help. Forget the village, I had built a fortress that could stand alone! Yep, that pretty much crumbled at my feet after my second child was born. Now I embrace the village. I feel blessed by those that offer help and I hope I get the chance to reciprocate.

**Unlike the author of the book that shares the same title of my post, you will see that government agencies have had very little impact on the daily rearing of my children, just the villagers...ahem...just wanted to make that clear.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Book Meme

Connie at Smockity Frocks has tagged me for a Book Meme! This is how it goes:

Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages). Open the book to page 123. Find the fifth sentence. Post the next three sentences. Tag five people.

Okay, so the nearest book I have is one I just wrote a review for which you can read here. It is titled Oh, Baby! Seven ways a Baby Will Change Your Life The First Year, by Bettie B. Youngs, Susan M. Heim and Jennifer L. Youngs.

This was from the chapter titled "Making a Living and Raising a Child". Lawrence is a stay at home Dad.

"The more peaceful environment at home was more conducive to writing- especially during her (daughter) morning and afternoon nap times. And when Noell got older, Lawrence hired a sitter for two hours each day so he could use that time to return phone calls and write. Lawrence also found that his experiences with his daughter fueled him with ideas for writing, and so he found himself producing more creative work."
It was a neat book, even after my third child I found myself saying ahh haa at certain points because I've been there too and didn't realize other people experienced the same thing!!
Okay, for my tags I'm going with:
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

This Is Not An Infirmary!!!

Okay, well, maybe it is. At least this week it feels like it. I have not blogged since Thursday, would you like to guess why? No, I did not take that vacation to Tuscany, Italy I've been planning for five years. I'm not browsing the marketplace buying fresh mozzarella, basil, tomatoes and bread. I'm not sipping wine on my veranda overlooking the countryside as the sun sets on the horizon. No, no instead I am spraying Lysol as if my life depended on it and praying that the germs bounce off me and drown in the bleach which I'm mopping my floor with.

Here's the medical update:
Em came home from school early Friday with temp.
Soph's congestion turned into infection on Sunday.
Little One's nose began to run and her ongoing battle with her ears continued.
Went to doctor on Monday...Em getting better, Soph has lots of yellow, infected stuff in back of throat and nose.
Ear Specialist in the afternoon....Little One still has fluid in both ears...put on antibiotics for 3 weeks as last ditch effort before tubes.
Monday night...Soph's temp. is hovering around 103.5

So today, Soph is still battling her fever, Em has a terrible cough and little one tries her best to act happy even though her ears are bothering her.

And lets just say that at one time I thought of being a nurse and now I realize my dream is being fufilled!!!

Now I must go Little One is crying and my time at the computer is up:)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Picture Time

Okay, today is picture day. I realize that my family and friends in far off places like to actually see pictures instead of me just talking about things. This is hard for me, for although I love pictures, I love words even more. So I am restraining myself from writing some lovely words today and I'm just going to post photos. Realize this is difficult for me so my next post might be over the top with words.

See, I can crawl!

The "Look" she gets this from Dad.

My very own Pizza Man!

Gram and Little One at play. Soph reading to her little sister.

Emma making her diorama.

I sprouted antlers!
"What'cha talking about Gramp?"

Monday, February 4, 2008

Memorable Moments Monday

Sorry this posting is so late, but my MMM was interrputed by two little girls who stayed home from school today. We had a restless night with all the coughing, sneezing, and nose blowing! So Em and Soph stayed home as I drowned them with liquids and spooned out allergy medicines. They even had an afternoon rest, somewhat reluctantly, but felt much better by this evening. It was a shame because today it got to 70 and tomorrow morning we are supposed to have snow and a high around 36.

But my memorable moment was this:
Throwing my head back,
Belly rolling

At what?
Or should I say who?
Precious Little One
That's who

As the entire family
Sat and watched
As Little One got tickled
And let out a rolling chuckle

Head thrown back
As her little body shook
Out a squealing peel
Of glee

We all joined in
tears ran down
Our checks

By far
One of the best
Memorable moments
Of our Lives