Monday, June 30, 2008

Bathtime is always better with a sister

The other night I gave the girls their first bath together. They both had a wonderful time! Here are my favorite shots.










Annika is making her "complaining" face because mean ole Mommy wouldn't let her drink the bath water.

Our first Beach Day

I took my first venture to the beach without a helping Daddy along last week. I met up with several friends and we all toted our kids and a plethora of toys, chairs, snacks, blankets, etc across the sand to the water front. Don't let anybody fool you....going to the beach is a ton of work. And going home is even more work. But we did have fun. Here are a few shots of the kids.



Annika slept most of the time but she did get a little sand playtime. She enjoyed it a lot.



Corban avoided the water for the most part, especially after his friend Isaiah got stung by a jellyfish. But he was content digging and building in the sand anyways.



Marissa was really good about wearing her cover-up when I asked her to...it was primarily to protect her head where I couldn't get sunscreen in her hair.

Will we go back again? Probably so. But it will have to be a really nice day for me to consider it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

All Tuckered Out

Somebody didn't take a good nap yesterday and it caught up with her while I was cooking dinner.

Chicken Spaghetti



So I didn't take the best photo of this in the world, but it really is a wonderful dish. Oh, and I left out the pimentos this time because I couldn't get the jar open and Grant wasn't home yet. I didn't think it would affect the dish that much, and taste-wise, it didn't, but it is nice to have the specks of red in there. Corban's not crazy about it because of the onion and pepper, but he's just goofy that way. This came from the Pioneer Woman, whose recipes we have really enjoyed.

Recipe

2 cups cooked chicken, packed
2 cans cream of mushroom/chicken soup, or homemade recipe I posted yesterday
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 small onion, finely diced
1/4 cup green pepper, finely diced
1 4 oz can diced pimentos, drained
1 1/2-2 cups chicken broth
1 t. seasoned salt
1/8 - 1/4 t. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 - 3 cups broken up spaghetti noodles
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Boil a whole chicken (or parts) until done. Remove 2 cups of broth and
cook spaghetti in the rest of the broth until al dente. When spaghetti is cooked, combine with deboned and chopped chicken, soup, 2 cups cheese, onion, pepper, pimentos, and seasonings. Add broth slowly, enough to make it very stirrable but not soupy. When it's seasoned to your liking, put in a casserole dish and top with 1 cup shredded cheese. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly.

If you check out the Pioneer Woman's site, she has a step-by-step tutorial on it. Not that it's hard or anything, but the pictures are cool.

Annika on the move

video

My baby is finally crawling! My days of lounging on the couch eating bon bons are gone. Ha.

Plus, she pulled up to a stand for the first time a couple of days ago. She was so proud.



Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

I got this from Tammy's Recipes and have only used it in the Chicken Spaghetti that I'm going to post about next, but it worked out fabulously and I intend on using it instead of storebought as often as possible. Now, you can't ignore the "easy" and convenient factor of the canned soup, but it isn't the healthiest stuff in the world and it has gotten so expensive! It's about $1.20 a can around here. This recipe makes 2 cans worth, and I can guarantee you it doesn't cost nearly $2.40 to make. Plus it's healthy and tasty. You just have to plan a little ahead to make it.

Recipe

In a large stock pot, whisk together:

1 1/2 cups chicken broth or water
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1-2 teaspoons salt

After whisking (to remove flour lumps), bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for a minute or two until thick. Makes 3 cups.

ABCs Fun

I saw this at Bethany's blog and thought it would be fun.

A)Age- 30
B ) Burger of choice- Hardees Thickburger..with bacon
C)What kind of car you drive- Honda Odyssey
D)Dogs name- Monty
E)Essential item you use everyday- Hair dryer
F)Favorite TV show- Survivor, Amazing Race, Lost
G)Favorite game to play- Catch Phrase
H)Hometown-Springdale, AR
I)Instruments you play- used to play piano
J)Favorite Juice- strawberry limeade
K)Whose butt you would love to kick- ???
L)Last restaurant you ate at- McDonalds
M)Favorite Muppet- Kermit the frog
N)Number of piercings- 2 in each ear
O)Overnight hospital stays- 4- when I had each of my children and when I donated bone marrow.
P)People you were with today- my husband and the kids, my neighbor from across the street and her baby
Q)What you do in your quiet time- use the computer, read, sleep!
R)Biggest regret- dating anyone other than my husband
S)Status- Very happily married
T)Time you woke up- 5:30 to feed the baby, back to bed to rest for another hour
U)What you consider unique- That I love to try out new recipes on guests
V)Vegetables you love- green beans, potatoes, asparagus
W)Worst habit- Biting my nails
X)X-rays you have had- a few dental ones, one for the bunion on my foot
Y)Yummy food you ate today- strawberry blueberry walnut oatmeal, grapes
Z)Zodiac sign- irrelevant

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cool Give-away

Kelly over at Families Against Feminism is having a wonderful giveaway of a DVD set from Vision Forum called "Reclaiming the Culture". I think it sounds like a great resource and would love to have it, so I'm posting about it to get entered in her drawing! Go over and check out her review on the series.

There's a Cheetah in my Room

I am fully recovered from my nasty bout with tonsillitis. That was a yucky bug. I started feeling better just in time for my 2nd annual summer cookie exchange.
I had the idea last year that I just adore cookie exchanges, but Christmas is always a hard time to get people together because everyone is so busy, plus I travel every other Christmas anyways, so I should have a cookie exchange in the summer when my friends are more available. Well, so I thought. This year 5 invitees couldn't make it. But that still left 5 wonderful friends to come over.
I made several snacks, none of which I got pictures of because I was rushed for time a the last minute, but it was all really good. I'll definitely make most of them again and hopefully get pictures next time.
After Grant got the kids to bed, he went over to Ben Gill's house for a guys night of Risk. About 9:00, I heard talking upstairs and left the party to investigate.
Marissa and Corban were both up, chatting in the hallway. Turns out Marissa had to use the potty (#2) and we had quite the conversation during that time.

Marissa: "I have a gweat idea, wisten to dis. I had a tary (scary) dream. Dere was a cheetah in my woom and I pointed at it and it went away."
Me: "You know that when you have a scary dream, you should talk to Jesus. He's always with you and will always take care of you."

A few seconds would pass.....and then......

Marissa: "I have a gweat idea, wisten to dis. I had a tary (scary) dweam. Dere was a cheetah in my woom and I pointed at it and it went away. And if I have a tary dweam, I will tell Jesus and then I'll tell Torban."
Me: "Yes, you can tell Corban if you have a scary dream, but really it's best to tell Jesus or Mommy or Daddy."

A few seconds later.....she broke into song.

Marissa: "Jesus woves me, dis I know, for da Bible scares away the cheetah in my woom...."

Ya just had to be there. It was pretty funny.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sick again

At least this time, it's just me. I have been struck with my first case of acute tonsillitis in about 4 years this week. I used to get strep throat and tonsillitis several times a year when I was in high school and college, but since having kids, it's only been once. And I haven't missed it a bit.
I'll spare you a picture, 'cause it isn't pretty. As Marissa and Corban said when they saw my tonsils, "YUK".
I went to the doctor on Tuesday and got antibiotics and am feeling a lot better, though my throat is still sore. I have to say that it feels better this morning without ibuprofen in me than it felt yesterday with ibuprofen, so that's a good thing.
The doctor and nurse who examined me were duly amazed at the size of my tonsils (which are abnormally large to begin with) and even commented, "No-one should have to walk around with tonsils like that!"
I got a referrel to an ENT specialist for a tonsillectomy. At first that sounded like a good thing. I've wanted to be rid of these giants in my throat since I was about 10. But since I've been reading about adult tonsillectomies online, I'm less than thrilled with the prospect. Tales of excruciating pain for weeks, trips to the ER for gushing blood down the throat, loss of taste, being on a liquid-only diet for weeks, scabs slowing coming off and dangling down the throat, excessive swelling of the uvula, I mean....it goes on and on. Notably, people that have good experiences probably don't feel the need to get online and seek help and end up writing on these complaint forums, so I'm only getting the negative. But it's a little scary nonetheless.
Does anyone know somebody who has had a tonsillectomy as an adult? I'd like to hear whether they thought it was worth it or not.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pictures of the girls

Marissa and Annika were dressed alike again today for church (thanks, Grandma!) and always attract a lot of attention from everyone. You can see why.






I just love Annika's smile in this photo.




Saturday, June 14, 2008

Conversations with a 4 year old

We were in Target this afternoon and I had a couple of minutes with the older kids to buy Grant a little Father's Day gift from them.

Me
: "I was thinking we could get Daddy a big bag of M&M's" (something he had suggested)
Corban: (with an unimpressed look) "That's a dumb gift."
Me: "What do you mean? Don't you like M&M's?"
Corban: "Yeah, but you get them for him, I wanna get him something else."

A few minutes later, as we were headed out of the parking lot.....(it's nearly 6:00)
Corban: "What are we doing for dinner?"
Grant: "Mommy's cooking dinner."
Corban: "Why don't we stop at McDonalds?"
Grant: "Because Mommy is going to cook."
Corban: "McDonalds is faster."
Grant and me: Laughing..."Well, that's definitely true."
Corban: "What is Mommy going to cook?"
Me: "Cajun Chicken Pasta" (one of Grant's and my favorites)
Corban, very emphatically: "That's not food."

Water Fun

Last Sunday, we had the pleasure of having dinner at some friends' house with another family, the Gills. Although it was very humid and warm, we adults managed to get by while the kids romped in the sprinkler. Just look at their faces....they had a fabulous time! Along with Corban and Marissa were Isaiah (8), Elizabeth (6), twins Joseph and Essie (3.5) and twins Reuben and Eliana (1.5). Babies Annika and Joha (6 months) were playing on a blanket.









Monday, June 9, 2008

All about the Cheese

I had a few social gatherings this weekend and got to make a few new recipes. And whaddya know, they all had cream cheese. I made the cheese balls for a baby shower and the ladies loved them, especially the chocolate chip one. I don't think I've ever had so many recipe requests for a recipe. So without further ado, here it is.
(All the recipes are from allrecipes.com, by the way)

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball



Recipe

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened (reduced fat is fine)
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 T. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans, (optional) I used crushed vanilla wafers instead.

In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in powdered sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Shape chilled cream cheese mixture into a ball. Wrap with plastic, and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Roll the cheese ball in finely chopped pecans or crushed cookies/graham crackers before serving.

Note: This was so soft, even after overnight refrigeration, it would not stay in a "ball". I ended up just leaving it sort of flattened and it was fine. I might try adding another half package of cream cheese and more sugar next time to firm it up a little. But the taste was excellent.
I served it with vanilla wafers, chocolate teddy grahams, and graham crackers. All were great with it, but I particularly liked the chocolate crackers.

Update: I made this again and just stirred the cream cheese and butter (both room temp) by hand instead of using the mixer....it turned out much firmer. DON'T use a mixer!



Easy Cheese Ball



Recipe
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
2-1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups chopped toasted pecans

In a medium size bowl, mash cream cheese. Mix dressing mix and Cheddar cheese into the cream cheese. Shape the mixture into a ball. Roll the ball in the chopped nuts. Refrigerate covered (preferably overnight) until ready to serve. Yum!


Cream Cheese Squares




Recipe
2 (8 ounce) cans refrigerated crescent roll dough
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup margarine, melted
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch pan.
Press one can of the crescent rolls into the bottom of the prepared pan. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Spread over the crescent layer. Unroll the second can of crescent rolls and lay them on top of the cream cheese layer. Do not press down. Pour the melted margarine over the entire pan. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the top.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is crisp and golden.

Note: Next time I will decrease the margarine (or butter) to about 1/4 cup, or half a stick. I think that would be plenty. I didn't taste these warm, but they are delicious chilled. Grant thought they'd be better with some chocolate or fruit in them somewhere, so I might consider a layer of preserves or adding some mini chocolate chips to the cream cheese mixture. Very tasty and easy, though.

9 months old


Our little angel baby is 9 months old now. She is such a darling, generally happy and especially loves her brother and sister. Corban can make her laugh better than anyone. She doesn't crawl, which is honestly a blessing for me right now! Chasing crawling babies is hard work! She's very content to sit...and she does scoot around a little on her bum. She is very talkative and exceedingly loud, especially in church, for some reason. She brings so much joy to our family.



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