Friday, May 30, 2008

The Sickies have struck

Grant was scheduled to leave for DC for several days on Tuesday night. That afternoon, he came home very ill with a stomach bug. He postponed leaving until early Wednesday morning. I was so hopeful that the kids and I would escape the misery, but it was not so.
Thursday afternoon, out of the blue, my stomach started feeling weird. My heart filled with dread. How could I take care of the kids while being sick? Grant wasn't due back until Friday night. Maybe it would pass. Oh, it didn't. I started throwing up around 6:00. I felt so miserable. I managed to get the kids through dinner and put them to bed early, around 7:30. Then I went down to lie on the couch and try to get ice chips down while I watched my shows, "So You Think You Can Dance" and the season finale of "Lost".
I went a couple of hours without vomiting but had chills, body aches, and general yuckiness, and I heard a sound I was praying not to hear. A child crying upstairs. That could only mean one thing. It was 10:00, and Corban had vomited in his bed/on the floor. He was feeling horrible and I wasn't much better, but I had to clean up his room. Bleh. I called Grant and told him he was never allowed to leave home again.
I set up a little bed for Corban on the floor beside my bed with a couple of trash cans there. They got good use throughout the night. Corban threw up 6 more times. Around 2:30 a.m., a most wondrous sound reached my ears. Grant was walking through the front door. He skipped out on his meetings today and drove through the night to help me. My Hero! And just in the nick of time, because soon after that, Annika started throwing up. Poor thing has vomited at least 5 times now, and she's such a good sport. She comes out of it with a watery eyed smile and snuggles for whomever is holding her. She's so precious.
Grant spent the rest of the evening holding her and taking care of her while I continued to help Corban. It was a truly wretched night.
This morning is much better. I'm feeling significantly better, just achy still and very tired. Corban is napping on the couch and Annika and Grant are asleep in her room. Marissa, who remained blissfully oblivious to the struggles of the night, is watching a video. Being sick is definitely something you do NOT want to do as a family.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Honey Chicken and Broccoli

Hurray, I'm finally getting a main dish recipe on here! This is a recipe I modified greatly from one off Allrecipes and it is a big favorite around here, at least for everyone except Marissa. Well, she's too picky for her own good. This stuff is delicious!


1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
3/4 cup honey
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T. olive oil
4 T. ketchup
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. cornstarch (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
4-5 frozen chicken breasts
14 oz package frozen broccoli florets
brown rice, cooked as directed on package with salt and oil or in chicken broth

In a large skillet, mix soy sauce, honey, garlic, olive oil, ketchup, and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil. In the meantime, thaw chicken breasts in microwave for a couple of minutes. (This really is fine, I do it all the time. As if I could remember to take out meat the day before to thaw. Not gonna happen.) Trim all fat from chicken and cut into small chunks. Dump them into the sauce and let them simmer awhile. If you think it's too thin for your taste, dissolve a couple Tablespoons of cornstarch in a tad of water and pour it in while everything is boiling. When the chicken is almost done, add the package of broccoli and put the lid on, if you have one. Let it cook until the chicken is done and the broccoli is tender but not mushy. Serve over the rice.

Note: I didn't need any salt/pepper to taste this time. It was perfect as is.
Also, a great addition is a handful of salted cashews sprinkled on top.

Corban declared this as one of his favorites and had seconds. That's saying something, because he's nearly as picky as Marissa. Well, this doesn't have onions, peppers, or tomatoes, so how could it go wrong!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Sunday

It's always challenging to get a good photo of the family....but we try. Annika was determined to grab Corban's hair for this photo shoot. And he was complaining about the sun being in his eyes. So this is the best we got. Better than nothing!

Visiting the dinosaurs

As I mentioned in the last post, we had friends here for the weekend. One of Grant's best friends since first grade, Mike, and his wife Rachel and baby Bella (4 months) were en route to Myrtle Beach, S.C. from Maryland and stopped by to visit for a couple of days. We took them to the Living Museum with us on Saturday and got to experience the brand new exhibit of robotic dinosaurs.
The kids' reactions were quite different. Corban was in wide-eyed awe, and just a little frightened by the whole thing. Marissa was completely entertained and gleeful about all the new creatures.

As Marissa studied this scene of several small, vicious dinosaurs ripping apart a larger plant-eater sort, she commented about the small ones, "Look Daddy! They're so CUTE!" Hardly the reaction you'd expect from a small child.

Rachel and Marissa getting a good look at an apatasaurus.

Grant in the jaws of a T-Rex.

Pretty amazing stuff! We all decided we're very glad dinosaurs aren't around today.

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

Now, I know it may seem that all we eat around here is sinful desserts...but that's just not the case. Desserts just turn out the most impressive and interesting. I mean, who wants to see a picture of baked breaded fish and tater tots? Besides, I usually have more time to snap pictures of desserts because we're not nearly as rushed to eat them before they get cold.
But I do fully intend to start posting some of the more captivating entrees we eat in the near future. For now, here's one of the top favorite desserts of Grant's and mine.

I made this a few days ago since we were having guests for a couple of days. How could they resist this decadence? Plus, it lasts well in the fridge and would be the only dessert I'd need to make.

1 pkg chocolate graham crackers
1/4 cup butter
2 T. sugar

Mix together and pat into the bottom of a 9" springform pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes and set on a wire rack to cool. Reduce heat to 325.

1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup evaporated milk
3 8 oz pkgs cream cheese (1/3 less fat is what I use), softened
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa
3 eggs
1 teasp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 oz evaporated milk (the remainder of the 5 oz can you opened earlier)
2 T milk
1 t. vanilla extract

In the microwave (or on the stove if you like to take a long time),melt chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Add evaporated milk and stir well. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add cocoa and beat well. Add eggs ; beat on low just until combined. Sitr in vanilla and reserved chocolate mixture just until blended. Pour over crust. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until center is almost set. For topping, melt chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Stir in milks and vanilla; mix well. Spread over cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate overnight. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen. Remove sides of pan. Just before serving, garnish with chocolate syrup, cool whip or whipped cream, or even melted raspberry preserves if desired.

Tell me that doesn't look positively delectable. Our guests were very pleased, as were we. This time it turned out the best ever. The topping made as the recipe originally directed was too hard and wouldn't cut well with a fork, making it difficult to eat. I added more milk this time and it was perfection....set up beautifully but soft and tender to the touch. Melted in our mouths.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Corban graduated from Joy School this week. My dear friend Ellen is the creator and mastermind behind Joy School....she designed a wonderful curriculum to teach preschoolers letters, numbers, and other skills using the greatest Book of all, the Bible. She uses Scripture and Bible stories for each lesson and teaches the kids songs to go along. This year Corban was one of 5 of her students, along with her own twins, Joseph and Essie and two other children, Ollie and Katie.
Corban LOVED Joy School. Well, admitedly, part of what he loved about it was the playtime afterwards with Ellen's oldest, Isaiah (8), but he truly did love spending time with the other kids and Ms. Ellen doing their work.
Their graduation ceremony was precious. The kids performed some of their songs, counted to 30, and received their "diplomas", as well as their book of all the work they completed this year. Here are a few shots of what happened.

Singing their hearts out! Corban, Essie, Jo Jo, Katie, and Oliver.

Receiving his diploma.

Corban was extremely interested in inspecting his work from the year. Ellen had each child's work bound into a laminated book for a keepsake. An awesome idea....and something that Corban is so proud to show others.

Well, everyone was interested in inspecting their work!

We also had a fun lunch and wonderful time playing. Here's one last shot of the kids with Ms. Ellen.

White Chocolate Gorp

This is one of those recipes that is totally customizable to whatever you like or have on hand. I made some around Christmas and more recently, I made a half-batch the other day to take to a friend's house. Kids adore this stuff...and grown-ups enjoy it just as much.

2 lbs white chocolate (almond bark is perfect, or you can use white chocolate chips, with a couple tablespoons of shortening added)
6 cups crispy cereal squares (Crispix, Rice or Corn Chex)
3 cups Cherrios
2 cups pretzel sticks or mini-twists
2 cups cashews, peanuts, pecans, or whatever mixture of nuts you like
12 oz. mini or regular M&Ms
1-2 cups raisins or dried cranberries or cherries (optional)

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave.
Combine all the other ingredients in a large roaster pan or bowl.
Pour chocolate over mixture and stir gently to coat everything evenly.
Turn out onto wax paper to cool/dry.

Isn't that easy? And it's so totally munchable. It makes a ton, too.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It's great to be the Mom!

I had a wonderful Mother's Day. Grant made a tasty breakfast (of course, he makes breakfast nearly every Sunday, so that was nothing extraordinary) and I had some very precious cards to open. Grant and the kids had a surprise for me as well....they had gone shopping on Saturday and picked out some lovely earrings for me. We took some pictures after church with Uncle Eric, who had come to visit. After a relaxing afternoon, we braved the rainstorm to continue our Mother's Day tradition of dinner at a little Mexican restaurant. Delicious. After the kids were in bed, we got to watch the finale of one of my favorite shows, Survivor. Yep, it was a great day. Thanks, Honey!

The kids adored having Uncle Eric reading them bedtime stories on Saturday night. His visit was the highlight of their weekend.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Those darn epidurals

I was induced with Annika, 9 days past the due date, because she seemed determined to never come and my 3 week window with my visiting mom was quickly drawing to a close.

The labor was completely bearable, but with a progression of only 4 centimeters after 5 hours of Pitocen and talk of increasing the dosage, I got worried and decided for the epidural. Well, by the time the anesthesiologist got there and was ready to do his magic, I was nearly in transition. I should have told him in my still, quiet voice to make like a cow patty and hit the trail, but instead I suffered through transition hunched over on the side of the bed doing my best to hold completely still (this is my SPINE we're talking about here!) while he puttered about and made small talk about how much luggage we had brought.

Twenty minutes after he left, Annika was born. The pain relief hadn't even totally kicked in yet. What a waste. Then I had to squelch my yelps while the nurse ripped the tape off my back (what do they use, duct tape??) that held everything in place AND keep an IV in for 4 extra hours. Oh and the back pain? No joke.

Current day. That epidural is still haunting me. For the past 6 months, I've been periodically receiving letters from the anesthesiologist saying that they don't participate in my insurance and that I was personally responsible for signing over any reimbursement checks sent to me from the insurance company. I have heard nothing from the insurance company. So today I decided to call them and figure this thing out once and for all.

There's just not much worse than calling medical insurance companies. Okay, maybe calling the cable company. Anyways, I got the number to call from my online account. After finally reaching a representative and going through my spiel, I was informed that I had called the number for United HealthCare employees only. Great. So I was transferred to the "correct" department. Okay, go through the automated stuff again, get to the representative, only to be eventually told that they only had the records since Jan 08, that I would have to call the other department that handled accounts last year. Fabulous. I don't have my old member number, we threw those cards out when we got the new ones. They get me identified by the SSN, and as I struggled to make out what the lady was saying (her voice was about the volume of a tiny bird in a nest in the tallest tree in my backyard), I eventually made out that they sent a check to the Anes. in January.

Now I had to call the Anes. to find out why they keep bothering me. Oh, their office closed at 4:15. Hurray. Now I get to call them again tomorrow.

Why, oh why, did I get that epidural???

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Can it really be 8 months?

Annika turned 8 months old yesterday. I can't believe it. She's 2/3 of a year old. How is that possible? And how is it that I'm still hanging on to 5 lbs (give or take a few ounces) of pregnancy weight? It sure wasn't this hard to lose with the other two. Ugh. Well, I'm working on it. Anyways, here's a few shots of my littlest darling, taken today because I forgot yesterday. I had to take most of them while holding her, or they'd all be screaming pictures.

No, she still doesn't like the grass. We're working on that.

And here are Corban and Marissa. Note the slippers that Marissa insisted on wearing, despite the perfect spring weather of 75 degrees. Also note the book that Corban is toting..."Farmer Boy" from the Little House on the Prairie series. We've made it halfway through the 3rd book since starting the series sometime after Christmas, I can't remember when. Corban just loves it.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Peanut Butter Pie and Chocolate Cake

Last week I had the occasion to make a meal for a friend in need...and decided to make one of my favorite desserts, Peanut Butter Pie. Lucky for me, the recipe makes two pies, so we got to keep one! Now, I know there are a number of peanut butter pie recipes out there, many strikingly similar, and I'm not going to claim that this is the "best" one, but it's good enough that I'm not feeling the need to try another. The beauty of this recipe is that you can jazz it up however you want. It's great with a chocolate crust, graham cracker crust, or I've been told, even a Nutter Butter crust! You can garnish however you desire, with peanut butter cups, chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, whipped cream, or as here, crushed butterfingers.


1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup milk
12 oz whipped topping, thawed
Chocolate syrup or fudge sauce
2 Graham cracker crusts (or desired crust)
4 mini Butterfinger candy bars, chopped

Beat together cream cheese and sugar. Add peanut butter and milk and beat until smooth. Gently fold in whipped topping until combined. Take a little lick to make sure it's the right taste and consistency. If you want more whipped topping, feel free to add it. Cover bottom of pie crusts with syrup/fudge sauce. Spoon filling over that and smooth top. Sprinkle candy bars over the top. Freeze until firm, then store in refrigerator. Delicious!

Chocolate Sheet Cake

It was our turn to make food for our Community Group last night, and I had found this recipe on the Pioneer Woman's site and was anxious to try it. Of course, I couldn't leave it be and had to modify it some, so here's my version.


2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks salted butter
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp. instant coffee granules
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
3. Melt butter in a large saucepan, then add cocoa.
4. Stir coffee granules into boiling (or at least really hot) water and pour into butter/cocoa mixture. Bring to a boil and keep it there 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
5. Add the chocolate mixture to the flour mixture.
6. Mix the buttermilk (or in my case, 1/2 cup milk with 1 1/2 tsp. vinegar) with the eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir into the other batter and combine well.
7. Pour into an ungreased sheet cake pan and bake for 18-20 minutes. Mine was perfect at 18 minutes.


1. Melt 1 1/2 sticks salted butter in a saucepan.
2. Add 4 heaping Tablespoons of cocoa and boil for 30 seconds
3. Remove from heat and add 6 T. milk
4. Stir in 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (sifted is best, but my icing still had some lumps despite the sifting)
5. Add in 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts if desired. Personally, I toasted some pecans in the oven while the cake was baking (only for about 5 minutes), chopped them up, and sprinkled them on half of the cake to appease those non-nut eaters.
6. Pour icing over warm cake and spread gently to cover.

This was the cake pan after everyone had left. I guess it was enjoyed!

I have a love/hate relationship with this cake. I love it because it's so wonderfully tasty and decadent, and I hate it because it's perfect for just taking one more little sliver until you realize you've eaten an entire row. You just can't get away with that with a layer cake.
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