Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Dad Who Treasures His Daughters Hearts


I’m pretty sure 12 years ago when we were awaiting the arrival of our first child that my husband would have said he’d like to have a boy someday. But our first born was a girl. She came into this world fighting to take her first breath, determined to overcome her shaky arrival and in the process wrapped her dad around her finger. She also looked just like him, making me wonder if I had anything to do with her creation.


While awaiting the arrival of our second child we were sure it was a boy. That is, until at 4 months, the sonogram confirmed it was a girl. My husband might have been a tad disappointed for the briefest of instances that our baby wasn’t a boy. But he rebounded in the blink of an eye, looked at the sonogram screen and grinned at his seemingly long-legged, healthy daughter.


WB, my husband, is one of four boys. Little girls were almost alien to him. He had a hard enough time figuring out his wife, much less two daughters. So when we found out 5 years after our second was born that we were again expecting, I thought for sure that God was giving WB his boy. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with one of those, but I knew I’d figure it out quick enough. Sonogram at 4 months confirmed another girl. I breathed a sigh of relief, another healthy girl. I stole a glance at WB. Once again he was staring at the sonogram screen grinning ear to ear. He squeezed my hand and boastfully told the nurse, “Another girl, no problem. I know girls. I’ve got the routine down.”


And he does. Or what he doesn’t know he is learning fast enough. His daughters are now almost 5, 9, and 12. Just like any other Dad of a daughter he jokes of cleaning guns when the boys start coming around. But all jokes aside, he is making sure his girls hearts are well protected and treasured.

He has started taking each one on Daddy Dates. The girls LOVE this time with their Dad. He checks with them on the date and time and gives them an idea of how to dress, as he likes to keep them guessing as to where they are going. He picks them up at the bottom of the stairs promptly at the designated time. He holds open doors for them. He engages them in conversation that lets them know he cares what they have to say and he respects their views on things.

Outside of Daddy Dates he brings them flowers on very special occasions, he has figured out his girls like pretty flowers. He celebrates their milestones with high fives, hugs, and sweet words. He’s learned girls don’t respond too well to boot-camp commands, but instead to words spoken firmly and with affection. Instead of running from the tears my girls shed, he has learned that a hug usually helps stop the crying. He’s also taught them that girls can shoot, fish, engineer, and build right alongside of the boys and still be a beautiful girl.

WB is teaching my girls a little at a time how their future boyfriends and husbands should treat them. By the time they are ready to date they will know that they need to be in a relationship with someone that will respect them and their feelings. WB is confirming a little bit each day that their hearts are to be treasured and protected. He is teaching them that a little roughness around the edges is okay, as long as the heart of who they seek is good. He lets them know, in a thousand little ways, that whoever wins their heart must be worthy.

WB has embraced the role God gave him of being a Daddy to three girls. He doesn’t question how things turned out, even when I nag him with questions if he is really okay with “no boys”. He just gives me that grin, the one that captured my heart. And I can’t help but thank God that WB is the one who now protects my daughters hearts as well.

Do you think girls tend to find husbands that remind them of their Dad? And I really have no clue about boys, but is it the same way- they tend to find wives like their Moms? Or maybe we try to find someone who is nothing like our Dad or Mom, what do you think?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Conflicted Chef- Fish Sticks

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, which signals the beginning of the Lenten season and with that meatless Fridays for my family. Many Fridays we find ourselves in the frozen food aisle of the grocery store picking out fish sticks. This year we decided to try our hand at some homemade, with a healthy twist, sticks. We found a recipe at Eating Well and tweaked it a little to make it our own.

You will need:

  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 1 cup whole-wheat dry breadcrumbs (just toast some whole wheat bread to make your own super-fast breadcrumbs)
  • 1 cup whole-grain cereal flakes
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1  teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour (we like to use half/half of the flours)
  • 2 large egg whites, beaten
  • 1 pound tilapia fillets, cut into 1/2-by-3-inch strips

First spray a wire rack and set on a baking sheet and place in a 450 degree oven.


Next put the bread crumbs, cereal flakes, pepper, garlic, paprika, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until the cereal flakes are finely ground.

Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish. In another shallow dish put the flour. And one more shallow dish for the egg whites.


Take the fish and first dredge in the flour, then the egg whites and finally coat with the bread crumb mixture.


Place on the wire rack and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the fish is baked through.


Sophie made and easy and healthier version of tartar sauce for us.


She just mixed together some low-fat mayo. We like the kind made with olive oil. Added some salt, pepper, minced onions, capers, and lemon juice. She did all this to taste. Just experiment and see what you can come up with. You could even use low-fat Greek yogurt instead of the mayo. Try whatever suits your taste, and most importantly what you already have on hand.

This dish received 5 smiles, even though it’s not the usual beer battered fish we so enjoy, it is a nice alternative.

Have you ever made fish sticks? What is your favorite way to eat fish?

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lassoing–An Important Skill


Have you ever  swung a lasso over your head and tried to catch something? I must say I’ve lived in Texas for 26 years, been around cows and horses, but have never put my hands on a lasso.

The secret, they say, is to keep your arm steady and twirl your wrist. This motion came easy to me, after all I grew up watching Wonder Woman. But WB had a more difficult time.


He was overthinking it, go figure.

Cowboy R told us to visualize the rope going around one horn. Then he told us to let the lasso fly.


I visualized it going around the horn, and after a couple of tries…


and a little help from Cowboy R (notice the boot pushing the steer towards my lasso), I  roped the steer by the horn. I practiced a few more times and realized I was pretty good at roping steers that sat on the ground and didn’t go anywhere.

WB got the hang of the lasso and then he mastered the whole roping exercise. It’s not enough for WB to do something once, he likes to perfect things.




Twirl, visualize, hook, and yank. Seems easy doesn’t it?

But now imagine if your steer looked like this and had no intention of letting you rope it.


Makes it a little more challenging doesn’t it? Just remember: Twirl, visualize, hook, and yank. No matter how big the steer, the concept is the same.

I plan on using this technique to lasso in my current WIP. What would you like to lasso this week?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Conflicted Chef- More Brussels Sprouts Please!

A few weeks ago as I was walking in the produce section with my kids we ran across this.


Brussels sprouts still on the stalk from a local farm! The kids immediately recognized the vegetable due to their constant watching of Food Network. We snatched it up and began making plans for our dinner. In hindsight, I wish I had grabbed  several of the stalks so I could have frozen some. Oh well, next time.

Here’s the secret to Brussels sprouts kids love, or at least my kids, don’t steam or boil them. When you steam or boil Brussels they tend to get mushy. Most kids, and many adults, don’t like mushy. Roast them in the oven. They will get nice and crisp on the outside and soft in the inside, which is a perfect combination in my book.

All you need is:

  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • salt and pepper

First peel off any yellow outer leaves from the sprouts and cut off the stalky end. Rinse and dry the sprouts. Make sure to pat them with a paper towel because any moisture left on them will keep the oil from sticky well.

Next put in a bowl and add olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss the sprouts around in the oil, salt and pepper until counted. Spread out on a cookie sheet and bake in a 400 degree F for 20 to 30 minutes. Toss the sprouts on the pan a couple of times during cooking. You are looking for the outer leaves to start to brown and get crispy.

Serve and listen to your kids ask, “More Brussels sprouts please”. Music to a momma’s ears.

This recipe received 5 really big smiles.


Did you know that Brussels sprouts contain sulforaphane, which is a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer agents? It also contains indole-3-carbinol a chemical that boosts DNA repair in cells and also appears to block the growth of cancer cells? It’s a powerful little vegetable!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Conflicted Chef- Healthy Chili Mac


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There is a meal in a box out there that sometimes busy moms turn to when they need to quickly feed their family. A large white hand with a smiling face promises all you have to add is meat and you’ll have dinner on the table lickity split. If at this point you have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s good. But if you’ve been tempted to let this “helper” aid you in the kitchen I have a recipe that is simple, healthy, and fast.

My sister, who has NEVER made any meal out of a box, passed this recipe on to me. She’s a new ,busy mommy, and she now understands the challenges of getting a nutritious meal on the table easily. Best of all she sometimes looks frazzled. This makes me happy because I’ve been looking frazzled for the last 12 years. Welcome to Mommyhood!

Here’s the ingredient list:

2 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta noodles (elbow macaroni, or whatever shape you fancy)

2 pounds buffalo meat or lean ground beef (90/10)

1 medium onion chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (16oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 (6oz) can tomato paste

1 (4oz) can chopped green chilies

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 cups reduced fat cheddar cheese

First cook the macaroni according to the package instructions. In another skillet brown the meat, onion, and garlic until the meat is no longer pink. (If you are using lean meat you should not have to drain it, but if you do see some fat in the skillet drain it off). Add the tomatoes, beans, tomato paste, chilies, and seasonings. If your skillet is big enough you can add the noodles to the meat mixture. If you don’t have room that’s okay you can layer the noodles and meat mixture when you put it in the pan.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch pan with cooking spray. I was able to divide this mixture into two pans. One 13 x 9 and a smaller 7 x 11, I felt that I could stretch this meal into two. Anyway, place the noodles and the meat in the pan and bake at 375 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes with a foil covering. When it starts to bubble around the edges it should be ready.Remove the foil sprinkle cheese on top and bake until cheese is melted.


This is great served with a side of coleslaw or a big green salad!

It’s difficult to see, but this casserole dish I inherited from WB’s grandmother. It’s been around for many years and I can’t help but wonder how many casseroles have been made in it!

Tell me have you ever used the “helper” in the kitchen? It’s okay to be honest, we’re all friends hereSmile

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dear Daughters, A Beautiful Heart Is Yours

This is the second letter in a series written to my three daughters. The first one can be found here.

Dear Daughters,

As you grow older I’m catching glimpses of the young women you soon will become. Slowly, you are letting go of my hand and venturing into life on your own terms. I’m not sure who is more nervous, me or you, but it’s happening never less. There is no turning back, just moving forward. And you will be just fine because all three of you have beautiful hearts.

I know, you think I’m prejudiced because I am your mother. Well okay, that is probably true, but I’ve known the hearts of many and yours are truly beautiful. I’m proud to watch your beautiful hearts as you grow.

I see it in your feet when they walk to the one person who is standing alone in a room full of people. It’s in the high five you give to the person that just beat you, because you like to see others win. It’s in the gentle way you nurse a butterfly with an injured wing back to health. I see it in the way your nose scrunches as you try to figure out how to help your distraught sister. It’s evident in the clothes you choose to wear and your complete lack of needing to look like anyone else your age. I hear it in the questions you ask about homeless people, war, sickness, and death. I can find it in the way your lips curve into a smile after  you’ve made someone else happy. I watch it as you put the needs of someone else above your own.

God has blessed you each with a beauty that shines not just on the outside, but on the inside as well. Guard it well, it is a gift. Don’t let others persuade you to believe your beauty comes from somewhere else. Or that your beauty needs to be altered in some way for it to be truly appreciated. Be secure in knowing that the beauty you possess originates from your heart; a beautiful light in your heart.

Love you bunches,


This post is a part of  August McLaughlin’s Beauty of A Women’s Blogfest.I am so honored be a part of it. Please click on the link below to go to August’s amazing blog. Check in on Friday to find links to many other stories about beauty and enter a chance to win one of many prizes, including a Kindle!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Conflicted Chef- Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

conflicted chef badgeOnce upon a time I had a blog dedicated to my homeschooling adventures and the following recipe was featured there. It is one of my most looked at posts so I thought I’d share it again here. They seem to be a hit. But really, if someone says breakfast and cookie at the same time it’s bound to make people look. Reminds me of Bill Cosby and feeding his kids chocolate cake for breakfast. But these pancakes are actually healthy, not so sure about the chocolate cake. But who am I kidding, if Bill Cosby offered me chocolate cake for breakfast I’d eat it without question.

So without further ado, here is the post from 2 years ago:
IMG_0401[1] This morning Em made some very yummy pancakes for breakfast. They are the Healthy Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes from the cookbook Getting Thin and Loving Food by Kathleen Daelemans. She used to have a show on Food Network and I enjoyed her healthy spin on good food.
The neat things about these pancakes are they are filling and can be eaten without butter and syrup. If you feel the need to put something on them try some natural peanut butter.
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats ( not instant)
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1/2 cup dark raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • Nonstick cooking spray
Combine both flours, baking soda, and cinnamon. Set aside.
Place egg white, brown sugar, buttermilk, and yogurt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until combined. Add rolled oats, apples, raisins, walnuts, and dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Do not over mix.
Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Spoon pancake batter by heaping tablespoonfuls around pan until you can’t fit any more. Let cook until bubbly and lightly brown. Turn and continue cooking just until lightly brown on the other side. Continue with remaining batter.
We put a bowl of raisins on the table, since some of us (yes, me), don’t like raisins in things. We wrap our leftover pancakes individually in plastic wrap and then put them all in a big Ziploc and toss in the freezer. You can heat these up in the toaster or microwave later.

So tell the truth, have you ever eaten cake or cookies for breakfast? I’m hoping someone says yes or I’ll feel really guiltySmile