Thursday, June 25, 2009

Because Bob Wiley Will Love Us. I Know It.

I'm packing for vacation today.

Oh, how I hate packing. I think my disdain for packing comes along with my disdain for lists which, according to my sister, is part of my Myers-Brigg's personality type of which I have no idea what that is, but list-haters are apparently of a certain type and I'm clearly one of them.

Hello, most awkward, run-on sentence ever.

I have a little secret to tell you. Shhhhh. Come in closer. "Put your ear to my breath" as my four year-old would say.

I knew you all were list makers.

Just about everyone I know is a list maker, and I have accepted that I am a disorganized, non-list-maker-forget-stuff-all-the-time-should-be-making-lists-like-the-rest-of-you weirdo.

But, hey - here's a shout-out to the three or so non-list makers who read my little blog. High fives, my friends!

Anyway. Back to Bob Wiley.

Who really has nothing to do with anything except that he rode the bus to New Hampshire to annoy the boogers out of "Leo...Oops, excuse me, 'Dr. Marvin'" and New Hampshire is close to where we're going and I like to imagine that we'll run into him and he won't need a Kleenex when we pick him up in our van 'cause he'll love us from the get go.

This post really is about run-on sentences. Not Bob Wiley.

So, our little "Party of Five" is heading up to Vermont tomorrow with my hubby's side of the family for a week of glorious vacation together.

Have I ever told you how much I love these people?

Well, I love them to pieces and have loved them from the very first day I met them. They are of the most lovable sort - all of them - just the kindest, most genuine people on the planet. And, I get to be in their family and vacation with them and I love that they came along with marrying my husband.

But, before all the vacationy happiness and meeting of Bob Wiley can begin, I've got piles of laundry all over my house, and my boys are running around in their tighty whities because I have not permitted them to wear any of their clothes while I'm trying to do every bit of laundry in the house.

It's 90 degrees here today. They're lovin' the excuse to be nekked.

Do any of your kids love to run around nekked? Or are mine the only streakers in town? I swear this place would be a "noodist kolany" if my kids were running the show.

All of this to say, I am in a state of disorganized sluggishness and my kids are all shades of antsy and animated at the thought of seeing Grandma and Grandpa and their aunts and uncles and cousins and spending a week vacationing with them.

It's Slug vs. Ants until 0700 tomorrow morning.

I'm toast.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pharmacy

The car was quiet.

All three boys were sleeping soundly in the back of our van after a long day at the beach, and my hubby and I were enjoying a few moments of uninterrupted conversation.

In what I can best describe as a mid-nap, delirious outburst, my four year-old, Jack, woke up and shouted:

"I don't feel very well. Take me to McDonald's right away." Then he fell back asleep.

McD's is his pharmacy.

Cheeseburger his drug of choice.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"I'll Bet I Could Jump That Fence..."

*UPDATE*: The winner of yesterday's [You Pick The Title] contest is Greg Rittler with "I'll bet I could jump that fence...." I loved it - so very boy and SO very Jack.

Thanks to all who played along! You came up with some GREAT titles!
____________________________________________________

We live in a town that has a mid-sized airport. It's not a huge, big city airport, but it's busy enough that we've got major airlines coming in and out.

Right near the airport is a viewing area. There are picnic tables and perfect, up-close views of planes taking off and landing.

Since the airport is only about 15 minutes from our house, I take the boys about once a week. Sometimes we take Happy Meals and have a picnic, and sometimes we go to pass the hours of 3-5pm which are the longest two hours in the history of Motherhood. We sit and watch the planes land and take off. Over and over and over and over.

When I took this photo of Jack, my four-year old, I sat there and tried to imagine what he might be thinking. I got all tied up in emotional knots.

So, I thought we'd play another round of [You Pick The Title] with this photo. Best, most creative, funniest, snarkiest, most touching one gets put up top.



You can enter as many titles as you'd like. I'll announce the winner later tonight!

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Us


Happy Father's Day.

To the one I love.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Unlisted

I'm not a list maker.

I don't make lists. Ever.

Ok, so that's not entirely true. I make a grocery list before I go to the "maahket" - especially now while I'm in the process of writing and photographing my recipes, and I make a quick packing list before we go on vacation.

I swear every time we go on vacation that I will make a permanent packing list - like one that isn't scribbled on an envelope at 10pm the night before we leave, but one I can refer to each time we go away. I never do.

So, other than those two exceptions, I don't ever make lists.

Lists taunt me. They taunt me with how much is undone, unclean, unread, unorganized, unpurchased, unplanned.

Un, un, un, un, un. Lists just speak too many "uns" into my Crazy Momma life.

And, while I suppose actually completing things on a list (which I believe you list makers refer to as "crossing them off"?) might make me feel accomplished and productive, most days, months, and years I complete so little of what I set out to do to that I rarely feel that way.

So, I'm gonna throw this one out to you all:

Do you make lists? What do you make lists of? Do you scribble them on paper, keep them on a computer, phone, palm of your hand? Do you have multiple lists going at the same time? And, lastly, how do lists help you?

I'm "list"ening.

Ouch, I know that was painful. My sincere apologies.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Toilet"gate


When the attempted cover-up is far worse than the crime itself.

*Max. It was most appropriately Max. (A.k.a. "Our little Nixon")

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mother's Day 2007. Otherwise Titled: "Po-TA-toes"

This was the last Mother's Day video my husband made me before I started blogging. So, this is the last of the videos that I haven't yet posted.

Which also means we're at the end of this little series of Friday Mother's Day posts. I've had so much fun rewatching these videos every week - thank you for walking down memory lane with me.

There are a few things that come to mind every time I watch this one:

1. Oh, baby Max - how we loved watching you on that horse.

2. Jack - he loved mashed potatoes. Totally our offspring.

3. Life was full and wonderful - but, something, someone is missing. A few weeks later, we found out we were expecting our Lincoln. We were so excited to be adding to our family!

4. Jason's choice of music in this one brings me to tears every time I watch it. "Appalachian Spring" by Aaron Copland and "When You Say Nothing At All" by Alison Krauss are among my most favorite musical pieces. Both of these have special meaning in our marriage, and listening to them alongside pictures of our boys - well, I'm just a big, weepy mess about it.

So, here is the last of my Mother's Day Videos.

Mother's Day 2007.

(*You can view all five of my Mother's Day Videos here.)

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen...

After 16 months of kicking.



Wiggling.



Crawling.



And, scooting.



We have walkage.



Go get 'em, little man.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Triple Pepper Overstuffed Chicken Quesadillas


Since we grill chicken a few times a week in the summer, I'm always looking for new ways to use up the leftover chicken.

These Triple Pepper Overstuffed Chicken Quesadillas are a great way to make a full, satisfying dinner out of last night's leftover, grilled chicken. Tossing grilled, sliced chicken with a couple of tablespoons of cumin and some lemon juice will give it a great Mexican flair, and turn it into the perfect filling for quesadillas.



And, I love peppers. Hello, lovelies.



They're so colorful, and I love the subtle differences in flavor. Grilling up red, green, and yellow peppers along with some sliced onion, and combining them with the chicken creates a delicious and filling quesadilla.



This is man food. It's not wimpy, appetizer, please bring out the real food now quesadilla. One of these filled up my hubby who is usually scrounging around in the cereal cabinet about an hour after dinner.

See what I mean? Stuffed. Overstuffed. Pile this baby high!



Whoops. Cheese. Lots of cheese. That's better.



Enjoy!



Triple Pepper Overstuffed Chicken Quesadillas

2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced
2 tablespoons cumin
juice of 1/2 lemon (or 1 tablespoon)
1 red pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
16 ounces Mexican blend cheese
1 jalapeno, minced, optional
cooking spray

Slice chicken breast and place into a small bowl. Add cumin and lemon juice and set aside.

Preheat grill pan (or skillet) over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and grill/saute peppers and onions for 8 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

Respray grill pan with cooking spray. Place one flour tortilla onto grill pan. Top with a handful of cheese and spread to cover tortilla. Top with several slices of chicken, and generous amounts of peppers, onion, jalapeno (if desired), and additional cheese. Then top with another flour tortilla. Cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, then flip. Cook on remaining side for 4-5 additional minutes or until heated through and cheese is completely melted.

Serve with salsa, sour cream, guacamole. Whatever suits your fancy.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Lessons in Servanthood

Jack and Max - my three and four year-old boys - are poster children for "best friends/worst enemies". It's a perplexing back and forth that puzzles even me, the Momma in the front row with the best view.

So, I've been conducting an experiment on my little Back-and-Forthers.

When one of them offends, hurts, whacks, taunts - sins against his brother, I put the offender in time out. Not in a time out chair removed from the family, as I would normally do, but on a chair in our family room. In the center of our home.

The one who is hurt gets attention and lovin' from Momma - and then immediately begins serving his brother who is sitting in time out.

He can bring his time out stricken brother a snack, a drink, a toy, put on his favorite movie, or find some other way of loving and serving the one who has hurt him. The one who has offended him. The one that reached out in anger and administered the blow.

Why? Why this approach? It seems so backwards and unfair. Let the train-thrower serve the brother who wears the bandaid across his forehead. Let him pay for what he's done.

I chose this approach for my precious, malleable boys because serving someone who has hurt you, offended you, sinned against you is so terribly difficult when your wounds are fresh and raw - but so worth undertaking. Because reaching out in forgiveness and love when you want to whack the one who hurt you over the head breaks down walls, heals, and restores. And, because extending grace trumps the sin that would sever, tear, and break.

But, most importantly, I chose this approach because Jesus responded this way. Because Jesus reached out in forgiveness when His wounds were fresh and raw. Because Jesus extended grace immediately, when His forehead still bled from the wounds of our sin.

It's easy to be angry, punish, ignore, retaliate. It's what comes naturally when you've been on the receiving end of injustice and hurt.

But, it is amazing what happens when you immediately begin to serve someone who has hurt you. Your wounds begin to heal. Their shame is replaced with gratitude.

Pain and brokenness are replaced with joy as the relationship is restored.

As my little boys grow into men, they will be hurt, offended and betrayed more times than I can bear to think about. And, most frequently, by those close to them.

It is how they respond to those offenses that will reveal the true depth of their character.

My hope for them is that they learn to respond in love, servanthood, forgiveness, and grace.

Just like their Savior.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Simple Greek Salad. A Summer Favorite.


I'm not a big salad person, and neither is my hubby. So we don't have a lot of salad at home. We eat a lot of fresh vegetables - corn on the cob, green beans, broccoli. But, there are only a few salads that I make on a regular basis.

This salad is one of my favorites. And, I love making it.

This salad combines a simple Greek dressing with fresh vegetables and feta cheese. It is perfect alongside just about anything you pull off of the grill. It's crunchy and sweet and salty and tangy and all of those things together create a deliciously, wonderful, fresh salad.

A man from Greece that I met at the deli counter line (I will chat it up with anyone, anywhere) once told me that a love for feta cheese is an acquired taste - and, that there are a lot of people who don't like it. So, if you are one of those people, you can easily substitute fresh mozzarella for the feta in this recipe.

I love the colors in this one, so I took pictures as I made it this weekend. And, I like having photographs to illustrate kitchen tips when I want to share them - and I use a few little tricks in this recipe.

So, here is my favorite summer salad. Here we go (full recipe below).

First, slice and dice a large, red onion.



This is a chunky salad, so dice the onion into about 1/2-inch chunks.



This is about the right size. Toss the onion into a medium-sized mixing bowl.



I then use my potato peeler to peel some of the skin off of a cucumber.

Tip: I find too much cucumber peel to be a little too waxy for me. So, I always peel some of it off before I slice or dice cucumber. I suppose I'm a "wax off" kind of girl, Miyagi-son.



Then, slice it in half, and each half into three strips.



Then dice it into 1/2-inch chunks - adding it to the bowl.




Next, add some ripe, cherry tomatoes to the bowl. If some of them are larger than bite-sized, then I cut them in half before tossing them in - but, all of these were perfect.



Next, cut 8 ounces of feta cheese into 1/2-inch chunks.

Tip: I always cut feta cheese on a separate cutting board. It is such a soft cheese that I'd need to wash my cutting board before slicing anything else on it, and I am just too lazy and impatient for that.



Whenever I can, I buy feta cheese in large chunks directly from the deli counter at my grocery store. It's much cheaper than the prepackaged kind, and I can get exactly the amount I need.



After adding the feta cheese to the bowl, I give the whole thing a good toss. Everything should be the same size, about 1/2 inch, which makes this salad easy to eat and really pretty. I love pretty food.


For the dressing, combine oregano, lemon pepper, garlic powder, salt, and a pinch of sugar.



Add 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup olive oil and whisk until combined.



I love, love, love my baby whisk. It comes in handy for so many kitcheny tasks.



Add the dressing to the mixing bowl.




And, combine with a spoon or spatula thingy. Hello, yellow friend. You make me happy. As do your multi-colored brothers and sisters.

Yes, I talk to my kitchen tools. They are my culinary plants, if you will. They are my pets. They are loyal and trustworthy.



Grab a hunk of flat leaf parsley.



And, finely chop it.



Add it into the bowl and combine until incorporated.




Serve on a salad plate or next to some ribs, steak, chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, casserole - anything that needs a perfect, fresh summer salad.



I love this salad. It's so fresh and easy and I love making it all summer long.

This one is begging for experimenters. Add some cooked pasta, orzo, Kalamata olives, green and red pepper. Make it your own!

Enjoy!

Simple Greek Salad

1 large red onion, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes
8 ounces feta cheese, diced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

Combine diced vegetables and feta cheese in medium-sized mixing bowl. Set aside.

Combine oregano, lemon pepper, garlic powder, salt and sugar in small bowl. Add red wine vinegar and olive oil. Combine with a whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour dressing over vegetables and cheese and toss to combine. Refrigerate for one hour. Serve.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Mother's Day 2006

*As promised, I'm continuing on in posting the Mother's Day Videos my husband has made me each year. Last week, I posted Mother's Day 2005 - my first Mother's Day.*


Ah, 2006.

That was the year our chubby-cheeked Max was born. He was unexpectedly 5 weeks premature, so he spent his first few days in the NICU. Those pictures of him hooked up to tubes and wires still sting a bit. What a precious little boy he has become.

I had only been a mother of two for a couple of months when my husband made this video. Jack was 18 months old when Max was born and going from one baby to two was a tough, tough transition for me. I thought to myself, "Heck, I've done all this before. It'll be cake."

Wow. I was in for a big, fat lesson in humility. Of course, I had mastered the basics - diapers, nursing, and middle-of-the-night feedings. But, learning to multi-task for the first time - with tasks as important as making both of my children feel loved and cared for - proved to be a huge challenge for me. I wasn't sure when to choose the baby. Or when to choose Jack.

Or when - and if - I could ever choose me.

But, even with learning to balance my new role as Momma of two, it was a year full of joy! I loved having my two boys. And, having a baby here in the Midwest solidified this as home - even if only for a season.

So, here you go. My Mother's Day Video 2006.

Welcome, little Max!


Thursday, June 4, 2009

What Little Boys Are Made Of

He found it.

Thoroughly inspected it.

Then, twirled it around.



He called me out onto the deck to show me.

"I love my new worm, Momma."



Then, he did what every little boy must do to a worm.



He ripped it in half.

I would have gagged. But, I've come a long way, baby.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Pantry Raider: Caught!

So, I rounded the corner, and found my baby raiding the pantry.



The moment I saw him, I knew exactly what he was doing.

Because he sees me doing the same thing every. single. day.



Handfuls of chocolate chips, baby. Followed by a look around to make sure no one's lookin'.



After snapping a few shots of my sneaky, little, pantsless one, I finally startled him: "Lincoln! What are you doing?"



His non-verbal response: "Please, woman. You've got no room to talk."



Busted.

The Pantry Raider

This is my baby.



I found him like this as I turned the corner with a load of laundry.

He's pantsless. He's always pantsless. At least his diaper isn't sagging down to his knees. I was on my "A" game that day.



Little bare-legged stinker. He's on a mission.



And, there's only one thing he's after.



Anyone wanna guess what he's looking for in there?

I'll post the rest of the photos later tonight.

When I caught him. Red-handed.

I'll also post the comments with your guesses. (I'll keep the comments hidden until then.)

Happy Tuesday.