Tuesday, December 27, 2011

5 minutes....

saw this video on another blog i read...
it's quite powerful...
and a great way to spend a few minutes thinking and reflecting... :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

growin' up

just got to thinkin' how much my sweet baby girl has changed...


*sniff sniff*


2 months old


14 months


2 years old, 2 months


3 years, 2 months

she is so excited about Christmas this year... :) while i miss those days of her baby and toddler-ness, new and exciting things are happening each day with her... :) so, i guess, for right now, i have to embrace her growing...even when i don't really want to :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

first look {Christmas tree}

katherine has loved christmas trees from the very beginning... last year, i got a great deal on a little tree, so i grabbed it and took it home for her bedroom... :) she loves her tree... :)
here are our first pictures of the little tree... :)

here K is asking, "what color are deeees yites?" :) {she knows her colors...she just likes to quiz us}

the rest of the pictures are of Hannah's first look at a Christmas tree... :) i love her serious face...and her attempt to touch it... :) it took 4 or 5 times for her to actually work up the courage to touch the little green tree... she'd reach out and, at the last second, pull her little fingers away to safety... :)
Christmas is really going to be a lot of fun this year... :)

and while the tree and lights are beautiful and mesmorizing, don't worry...we're still emphasizing the real reason for the season... :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

sweet in december

for December, the weather has been absolutely beautiful... while the mornings are cold, we've had great days of warming temps and sunny sunshine. :) and, well, my sweet K loves her outside time... and, quite honestly, in the "3 year old world," it helps soothe her soul and keep this momma a little bit more sane... fresh air is the answer to keeping tantrums at bay and smiles on faces... :)

so, until some of that pretty white stuff graces our day, i will squeeze in as much time with my sweet kids and prowling pooch in the green grass :)

sweet Beezer, who is an elderly guy now, hanging out with us... he always comes out with us, does his business, sniffs around for several minutes, and then finds a nice spot to sun himself... here, he's also "kitty" hunting... he's watching for one of the five wild kitties to come running by so he can re-enter his younger years of chasing :)

my girls, swinging together, for the first time :) gosh i love them... and yes, Katherine wouldn't look at the camera.... :) but i love how Hannah is watchin' her big sis on her swing :)

my beautiful, spirited, stubborn, and sweet Katherine :) she's on top of her slide, waiting to go down... :)

my sweet baby girl, swingin' on the kiddie swing for her first time :) she spent 45 minutes loving the slow motion of a swaying swing while watching everything going on around her... :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

meals for the week...12.11.11 through 12.18.11

Christmas is approaching faster and faster, it seems....kinda like that snowball traveling down a hill at record speed.... our spare room just keeps getting more bags of gifts... and yet, there are a few people on our lists that remain difficult to shop for... :)

none the less, we still have to eat :)
here's what on the plate on these chilly nights! :)
and yes, you'll notice a theme of chicken here...made a huge batch of chicken and noodles...we have to use them up! :)

Sunday: chicken and noodles (in the crock pot)
Monday: chicken and noodles with mashed potatoes
Tuesday: french toast casserole
Wednesday: chicken noodle soup :)
Thursday: out to eat with friends :)
Friday: church Christmas party
Saturday: leftovers
Sunday: leftovers

we're also busy baking some cookies and sweets and getting fatter... gotta love the holidays... seriously... love that scale creeping up... ahhhh, who cares...the diet can start (again) in January... :) and, plus, with the almost 50ish temperatures, i can get out there and walk.... :) after i have another cookie, that is :D

hope you have a great week... take time to enjoy those twinkling lights of your Christmas tree in a dark room...lovely :)


Tuesday, December 6, 2011


just cause it makes me feel better that all of you know this list of purely useless information... :)

~my oldest daughter currently has 4 jackets on the back of our sofa...4...
~i had ice cream for dessert tonight because we have a half-gallon of ice cream in our freezer that continuously falls out whenever we open our freezer (we over pack our freezer)... i want to get rid of it...
~our fireplace mantle is still decorated with pumpkins, gourds, and fall leaves garland...and Christmas is less than 20 days away...
~Katherine has a slight obsession with the Baby Jesus in the outdoor nativity scene at our neighbor's house a few doors down...tonight, she asked for us to open her window so she could see Baby Jesus and say goodnight to him before she went to bed...
~Hannah, who is a week away from being 10 months *sniff sniff* still has no teeth...
~tomorrow is Tuesday and, unless something is wrong here, i always have to wash towels on Tuesday... :) my mom makes fun of me for this "quirky" behavior...meanwhile, she always washes sheets on Saturday, so how is that any different? :)
~i downloaded my first kindle book and really like using the little machine... i didn't think i would, but it's pretty nifty :)
~i really want to put up the Christmas tree, but i am NOT looking forward to having to rearrange everything in the living room to accommodate the green giant...and yesterday, i remembered that i have a very speedy little one who crawls everywhere... rearrangement will be the easy part this season :) chasing her and saying "no, no, no" every 3 seconds will not be...
~Katherine has her own little Christmas tree that we put in her room last year... i can't wait to put it up again and decorate it with her :)
~i'm actually thinking snow would be kinda nice now...
~Hannah, all of the sudden, does not like to eat potatoes of any sort...she spits them out immediately and makes a terrible face :)
~i was supposed to make meatloaf tomorrow, but i forgot to buy ground beef at the store today :-\
~we haven't fired up the wood burning stove yet, but i think we're getting close to needing it... i can't wait :)
~i'm so thankful for my husband... i saw Dr. Phil a few days ago and the fathers/husbands on there did NOTHING... ry does a lot and is a great dad and husband... we're blessed...
~i want to make a cake right now...a breakfast cake...but it's too late and i need to go to sleep...
~speaking of sleep, i have not slept for more than 5 or 6 hours a night in weeks (usually less, in all honesty)...i'm exhausted...
~katherine likes to drink "hot tea" right now...but really, her "hot tea" is hot chocolate...
~i've been wanting to break K of using a paci for several months... quite honestly, i thought of an excuse every time i got serious about it...it wasn't fair to her since her world was rocked by her new sister, we wanted to move her to a different bedroom - too much change...potty training is hard and i want her to still have it for comfort, etc. dumb excuses... the other day, in a fit of irritation, i got the bright idea to snip the paci in the middle. she hates it now and will not use it... she tried using it for a few days after my "snipping" session but would just keep telling us that her paci had a scratch on it and she didn't like it. tonight, she told me she didn't want her paci at all when she went to sleep... hallelujah!
~this morning, K had taken her zippy PJs off before i got in to get her...seriously...and when i get in there, with a surprised look on my face, she says, "mommy, i'm cold..." REALLY???? :)
~life with a 3 year old has been an experience so far...humbling, frustrating, trying... k seems to be the topic of my randoms, eh? :)

hope you're having a great beginning of the week :) what are you up to? Christmas shopping? decorating? wrapping presents? :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

meals for the week 12.4.11 through 12.10.11

hi, remember me?
yeah, i know... it's been forever since i've been blogging... probably not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but for my small reader group, maybe you've missed me? :) orrr, maybe not :) hehe :)
life is just so busy...there's rarely downtime these days with a 3 year old and an almost 10 month old (who rarely nap at the same time these days)... and i started a little part-time job as a teacher in the after-school program at my "old" school (where i used to work)... while we're all doing fine, it seems like this momma is treading water and adding more things to her "to do" list :)

i'll try to do better...i haven't posted pictures...no one knows what my kids were for halloween...no one saw K's 3rd birthday celebration...i'm slackin'! :)

but, in the meantime... here is our meal plan for the week... we'll get back into this for a few weeks before the holidays mess it all up again... :) hope you get some ideas for dinner...or lunch... :)

Sunday: eat out - Hibachi :)
Monday: macaroni soup and grilled cheese
Tuesday: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, mac n cheese, corn
Wednesday: leftovers
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: homemade pizza
Saturday: annual cookie party at The Strongs... bringing broccoli corn bread, 3 layer taco dip, and ricotta cookies... :)

and, believe it or not, but i've already started NEXT week's meal list... :) i'm not a nerd...just found a few things that we'd like to try... :)

what are YOUR plans as you get into the spirit of Christmas? special meals? time with friends and family? baking cookies? making fruit cake (giggle)? :) shopping? :) whatever it is, i hope that you have a BLESSED week with lots of giggles and smiles... :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

good thoughts...

your journey has molded
you for your greater good,
and it was exactly what it needed to be.
don't think you have lost time.
it took each and every
situation you have encountered
to bring you to the now.
and now is right on time.

~asha tyson

Monday, November 7, 2011

meals for the week 11.6.11 through 11.12.11

yep, it's time for me to get back into meal planning for sanity... :) and budgeting... :)
after a trip to Illinois, family being here, family leaving, family coming back...things have been a little "crazy." :)
but, i'm happy to say that we're back into a semi-normal routine... :)

i'm also "working" now 2 days a week... i'm at the elementary school where i worked at for 9 years helping with an afterschool program, but the hours present the opportunity for making dinner a challenge, so it's good to meal plan... :) i can plan for leftovers or a crock pot meal on those days i'm going to be working in the afternoons so that i can get dinner on the table before midnight :)

sooo, on this election day week, our bellies will be filled with...

Sunday: crock pot roast with potatoes and carrots
Monday: crock pot beef stew
Tuesday: leftovers (pot roast)
Wednesday: leftovers (beef stew)
Thursday: sour cream pancakes and turkey bacon
Friday: skillet lasagna
Saturday: hamburgers on the grill

hope you all have a wonderful week! :) remember to VOTE! :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hannah :)

because she's been so neglected here... :)
Hannah is still the sweetest little one... :) we call her "bug" or "Bugs" - and Katherine calls her "Hannah Buggers" (which sounds like "Hannah Bugg-ahhs") :) it's cute... :)
she has this big, toothless grin when she smiles... :) still no teeth :) but you can tell she's working on them - lots of drool... :)
her hair is getting longer...to the point where it doesn't stick straight up any more... :) she wore a bow to church on Sunday and it stayed in... :) amazing... :)

she's all over the place with her crawling...and she's starting to pull up on various things... she discovered the kitchen floor in the last few days and is curious about it...it feels different, i'm sure... :) she just sits there and "pats" it... :) cute :)

her dark blue eyes...amazing :)

(love the Reeces speaking to us over her shoulder :))

and she has a way about exploring... she's a quiet one as she moves about in her surroundings... she always looks to see if momma's nearby, but she is content to explore... her favorite things right now are the tambourine, the little people who ride in the school bus, and anything her sister is playing with :) (hehehehe)

she is shy... she will warm up to you, but when she first meets anyone, she buries her head into my shoulder and just looks... :)

and when she's happy, she lets out a high pitched scream that, seriously, would rival Mariah Carey, i think...ear piercing! and, one of the many things i love about her...when she's excited, she will do this scream (not the high pitched one)...it's not an annoying scream... it reminds me of my dearest Aunt Debbie (who passed away in the late 90s)... she used to laugh like that...with screams in there... :)

Hannah is, without a doubt, a tremendous blessing... :) she's my Bugs! :) and we love her to death!!! :)

fall fun :)

we recently made the trip out to Illinois to celebrate my grandma's 90th birthday... :)
while we were there, the weather was AMAZING! :) and, the trees were well ahead of our fall changes here in Virginia...
the leaves covered the ground, and we had a blast playing :) Katherine was a little unsure about jumping and playing leaves in the beginning, but as you can see, she quickly caught on and had a great time :)

getting covered by grandma :) (my mom :))

Sunday, October 23, 2011


today my baby turned three...
it's so hard to believe...
i can remember heading to the hospital to labor for over 23 hours with her in my belly...
only then, i didn't know she was a her :)
she was born at 5:41 AM and weighed 7 pounds, on the dot. :)
a perfect little bundle of love...

(pardon my picture...i was tired!)

she cried and cried and cried...a lot... :) for the days and nights in the hospital. i guess there was a reason why they gave us the room at the end of the hall :) and, she left the hospital with laryngitis, which is kind of funny... :) the nurses were all giggling when they'd hear her when we were getting ready to leave... :) they were probably laughing because they knew that her vocal personality would be a good indicator of her future... we don't call her "chatterbox" for nothing... :)

and today, my sweet Katherine is one of the reasons why i get up and smile each morning... :)
she's a spunky and determined little girl...

she's got the personality of her grandma Katz and her great-grandpa Kizer...and while i know her character will serve her well, she's a little girl with a mind of her own... don't try to change her path or she'll let you know that she does NOT agree! (and she will probably let everyone else know, too! :))

she's curious about everything and asks so many questions in a given day...
she loves to play... and she has so many things she plays with...
she loves to read her books and do her puzzles :) she can "read" several of her books to you, if you sit patiently and listen... of course, she never reads "on command," but instead, at times when you least expect it... :)

she loves her musical instruments...the bongo drums and keyboard...hand bells...anything... and sing...she LOVES singing... my favorite is listening to her sing to Hannah... :) and she also sings with the bongos... she taps out the beat of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" while she sings to her beat. :) the house is rarely quiet from her songs! :)

she plays with her shopping cart, happily shopping for "mommy customer" or "daddy customer" in her store. she brings you things like birthday cakes (cat food cans) and "soup" (a container of beaded necklaces) for prices like "fifteen hundred dollars." :) but she says, "please" so we give it to her and take our product. :)

she loves to copy me in that she carries a baby around and cares for her during most of the day. she wraps her lovingly in a blanket and puts her to sleep. she tells us all to "be very kie-it because the baby is sleepin'." :) she shares her juice and milk with her dolls in case they are thirsty, and she's even willing to put them in the bath tub at bath time! :)

she likes to play restaurant and will make you whatever you want...standing at the counter, oftentimes when i'm cooking, getting out random utensils to stir up her creation... :)

she loves to be outside...digging in the dirt, going between trees, playing on her slide, giving her "climbing frame" a try (thanks, "Peppa Pig" for teaching her British terms). she likes to play basketball with daddy, and going on a nice walk is another favorite past time. :) it's hard to get her to come in...and sometimes, fresh air and freedom in the outdoors is one of the only things that can soothe her soul...

(after blowing out her candles :))

she's still a very picky eater...this, of course, explains her tiny but strong frame. she can still wear 18 and 24 month clothes without a problem...altho the length on some of these tend to be a challenge... her height does not seem compatible with the clothes that fit her frame... :)

she has a memory unlike any toddler i've ever met... she can tell you what dress she was wearing in August when she visited her Bakki (great-grandmother, in chinese)... she remembers different things that i don't even put into my memory...and she makes connections about things that i find amazing...

she loves to watch TV when she's given the chance, and her favorite shows are Peppa Pig, Fresh Beat Band (or Beat Beat Band, as she calls it), and Bubble Guppies. and, she enjoys DVDs (DDDs, as she refers to them) sometimes, too, especially Laurie Berkner, Praise Baby, and Kidsongs DVDs.

the "big" present from Mommy and Daddy...a fish tank, sans fish, though... :) they'll be added early this week. :) in the meantime, she stands and loves her "blue and silver beads" at the bottom, and the "windy castle" (another Peppa Pig reference) in the middle for the fishies to swim in when they arrive. :) she has stated that she's only interested in blue and red fish... :)

a new book, "Clifford's Birthday Party" - how appropriate :) good message, too... :) we read it tonight before going to bed :)

a few more gifts tonight... an owl shirt :) and a new outfit for church - a monkey shirt and matching skirt :)

when i think of some of my defining moments in life, her arrival is surely one of my defining moments (towards the top of the list)...she changed my life in ways that i would have never imagined... all for the good, of course... :)

so today, i remember when my whole world changed...and when my heart grew in ways that i could have never predicted...in love and in vulnerability.

happy 3rd birthday, Baby Girl!! we will forever celebrate and love YOU!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

good thoughts...

think of all the beauty

still left around you

and be happy

~anne frank

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

good thoughts...

be sure to celebrate the many

small things...

bright days

good friends

and anything with sprinkles.

meals for 9.27.11 through 10.2.11

happy October :)
pumpkins, crisp leaves, frost on the windows, chilly mornings :) i love fall... :)

i'm not in the mood to meal plan in detail this week (again)... i kinda feel like i'm in limbo...had to do a little traveling last week/weekend...and this week is a layover week b/c the girls, my mom, and me will be traveling to see my grandma next week... that is really no excuse for a lacking plan for meals...but again, we're not doing major shopping (end of the month=not a lot of $$ for food) and we're dealing with what we have HERE to eat... :)
and, my parents will be here at the end of the week (so we can leave from here, my dad is bringing my mom down :))...so that will probably mean more eating out *blah* and less home cooking... *boo hiss*

plus, sleep has been a bit lacking...hannah has a touch of something (fever, and projectile vomit tonight :-\) and K has started to cough and was wayyyyy off on her sleep today and was very weepy before bed (she was up a lot and for long periods through the early morning, slept late this morning, so no nap)... so, i kinda feel like "survival of the fittest" over here... :) as long as i'm dressed and showered, i think i've accomplished something :) hehehehe :) i really have some things i'd like to do...so i hope things get themselves together a bit... :)

anyway...here's what we're eating this week...

Monday: homemade pizza
Tuesday: tomato soup w/ shells, grilled cheese
Wednesday: ?hamburger helper (homemade)
Thursday: french toast
Friday: grill out
Saturday: eat out (maybe)
Sunday: something home cooked...maybe chicken and noodles?

nothing like mood driven meals here... :) hehehe :) hope that you have a good week and that your life is a little more organized than this one here :) hehehe :)

:) ENJOY the changing weather! :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

meals for the week 9.19.11 through 9.25.11

here's somethin' to make you think....
on Sunday, there will only be 3 more months before Christmas...
that means approximately 90ish days left for Christmas shopping...
but it also means pretty lights, snow, and Christmas cookies :)
but first, let's get through the amazing season of Autumn, Halloween, and Thanksgiving... :)

this week is a wacky week for meals... i didn't "assign" a fare to a particular day... we're not grocery shopping this week (except for necessaries like milk, bread, fruit, etc.).... so, we're going to eat what's here...and we're gonna be HAPPY about it :) hehehe :)

sooo, here's what will be served here... :)

omelets and biscuits
spaghetti and garlic bread
french toast
fried rice (maybe)
ham sandwiches
and, if necessary, hot dogs and mac n cheese :)

i opened a jar of homemade apple butter from one of my fabulous 3rd grade students from my teaching days... and let me just tell you that it was fabulous... :) so maybe we'll just eat biscuits and apple butter for dinner one night... :)
or apple butter and butter sandwiches...YUM! (childhood favorite)
what are some of YOUR favorite foods (comfort food?) from your childhood?
either way, i hope your bellies are full and your smiles are big... :)
have a great week... :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

heart work...

i saw this post and happened to read it... it's called Family Matters (http://blog.familymatters.net/2011/09/19/raising-kids-is-heart-work/)

so many good points here... :) and a great message, for sure... :)

Raising Kids is Heart Work

by Tim Kimmel on September 19, 2011

Every once in a while Hollywood gets it right. Unfortunately, when they do, people of faith have to accept the fact that for the rest of their waking life, they’re going to have to agree to nod their head and smile when some preacher evokes the same worn out line from some epic movie to make his spiritual point.

So, all of you faith veterans get ready to nod your heads and smile. The movie Chariots of Fire captures the center-stage drama as well as back story of the great Scottish runner Eric Liddell. If you haven’t seen the movie and you’re over 40 years old, shame on you. If you’re under 40 and haven’t seen it, put it at the top of your next NetFlix order. I’ll save the details of the movie for you to either remember or enjoy when you finally see it. But there was a powerful line in the movie when someone was quizzing Liddell about his amazing abilities on the track. Eric said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”

And man oh man did he run … for thousands of miles … in all kinds of conditions … against extraordinary competition.

When was the last time you ran really fast for a long period of time? Did you feel God’s pleasure? I ran the New York City Marathon. For the entire 26.2 miles from Staten Island, through Brooklyn and Queens, into Manhattan, up into the Bronx and finally through Harlem to finish in Central Park I can honestly say that I never ONCE felt God’s pleasure. For most of that marathon what I felt was the enormous urge to call a cab. Running is hard, hard work. Eric Liddell pushed his muscles, tendons, and blood pressure to their absolute extremes over and over again.

And he felt God’s pleasure in the process.

The reason he felt it is no big woop of a secret. I’m holding up two fingers that represent the two biggest reasons: he was doing something he was called to do and he was doing it for God’s glory. What I mean by “called” is that God gave him some abilities and arranged some circumstances that inclined him to rise to a great challenge. Doing it for God’s glory simply seemed liked the logical next step. He had been bought and paid for on a cross by the very God who had given him his gifts and opportunities. Pushing glory back in God’s direction seemed to him like the least he could do.

Raising kids is very difficult work. You’ve got to sweat like mad at your place of employment to make the massive sums of money it costs to finance them from birth through college. Then there’s the whole thing of being perpetually exhausted for 20 years. Add to that a typical kid’s love affair with testing your fear quotient. They over-tax your doubt and second-guessing tendencies too. Usually they figure out what lights you up and wear out their abilities to push all of your hot buttons in order to bring your frustrations to an instant boiling point … simply because they can. We can’t forget the uncanny ways they have of negating all of your academic credentials by making you feel royally stupid most of the time. Tear ducts endure a lot of wear and tear, and knees get calloused from having to assume a desperate parent’s prayer posture so much. Sometimes they actually drive you to point where, at least momentarily, you wouldn’t have any trouble seeing what you could get for them on eBay. This is parenting. It’s what you do if you’re going to raise kids.

If these demanding parts of the job are what you focus on, then most likely, you won’t feel much of God’s pleasure in the process. But guess what, neither will your kids. They’ll know that they irritate you. They’ll know you aren’t excited about the roll you’re expected to play in their life.

There’s a way to keep the nasty demands of raising kids from framing your attitude toward it and them. Don’t view parenting as hard work; view it as heart work. It’s the gritty and spitty stuff that fathers and mothers do in the process of transferring God’s love and grace to their children’s inner lives.

The heart work of parenting is our calling, and it’s the least we can do based on the heart work our Heavenly Father did when He moved all of heaven against the worst of Hell to buy our eternal freedom.

Sure, parenting is extremely demanding, but so is EVERYTHING that’s worth doing in life. Just ask Eric Liddell. When you’re surrounded by a mountain of dirty laundry, or trying to find the floor of your teenager’s room, or waiting up every weekend night for your son or daughter to get the car and themselves home in one piece, it’s hard to envision the up-side. But the heart work of raising kids pays off. It pays off for time and for eternity.

So, next time you’re wishing that Fischer Price also made Tasers, take that thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Feel God’s pleasure in the wonderful role you’re playing in raising a member of the next generation for eternal greatness.

Monday, September 12, 2011

meals for the week 9.12.11 to 9.18.11

already greeting the middle of September! amazing how time flies! we'll be saying hello to pumpkins and crunching leaves soon! :) i can't wait.... :)

here's what we're eating for the week :) nothing fancy, nothing major...just food :)

Monday: bbq chicken, mashed potatoes and corn on the cob
Tuesday: homemade pizza (didn't get to it last week)
Wednesday: fried rice
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: leftovers or french toast if we're out of leftovers :)
Saturday: having dinner with friends
Sunday: turkey burgers & mac n cheese

hope you all have a great week! :) enjoy every minute! :)

Friday, September 9, 2011


i love these girls with all that i have in me...
i know i'm blessed beyond measure...
happy friday...

(these gorgeous shots are from our recent photo session with the incredibly talented Carrie Coleman of www.carriecolemanphotography.blogspot.com)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

the best little cookie

we have cookie cravings here ALL the time...
conversations around here are often like this:

me: Katherine, what do you want for lunch?
K: cookies
me: Katherine, you can't have cookies for lunch unless you eat your lunch...and then, you can have ONE cookie. what would you like for lunch?
K: brownies and cookies
me: OK...your choices are _____________, _____________, _____________ (i usually give her three choices - like spaghetti, cheese and crackers, peanut butter crackers, mac n cheese, grilled cheese, french toast, pancakes, etc.)

there's rarely a week that goes by that i don't make cookies for us...
they don't ever last the week (i'm a big reason for this) unless they're really not that good :) or we forget about them (haha, yah right!)

well these little cookies are never around long... they just might be our new favorite cookie!! :) i love them because they're soft and chewy, they are so quick to make, and K can help me make them (she's a great "dumper" when it comes to the sugars, flour, and chocolate chips. :))

go ahead and try them... you won't be sorry :)

Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
6 T. butter, softened
1/4 cup of peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
dash of salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 c. flour
1 cup chocolate chips

preheat your oven to 350*

cream together the butter, peanut butter, and both sugars till it is nice and smooth. add the egg and the vanilla and stir well. add your flour and then your baking soda and salt and mix well. at the end, add your chocolate chips (and fight with your almost 3 year old to not eat the batter even though she'd like to eat the whole bowl!)

use a teaspoon to make little cookie drops (about an inch or two in size) onto your cookie sheet. bake for 11-15 minutes... your recipe should make around 2 1/2 dozen cookies... :)

they taste divine...not too peanut buttery...more like a chocolate chip cookie with a little bit of peanut butter taste... :)


Sunday, September 4, 2011

meals for the week 9.5.11 to 9.11.11

here's what's happenin' in the kitchen at the 115 :)
happy labor day...

Monday: grilling out - hamburgers, mac n cheese, and corn on the cob
Tuesday: creamy chicken enchiladas (new recipe!)
Wednesday: stuffed shells
Thursday: leftovers

Friday: homemade pizza
Saturday: leftovers
Sunday: leftovers

i'm also going to try something "different" this week... i'm going to make some soup so that i have something healthy, fast, and filling for lunches... i find that my schedule with the girls, on most days, keeps me from having lunch until 2 or 3 in the afternoon...and by then, i'm starving... hopefully having some good soup in the fridge will keep me from trying to satisfy my hunger with "whatever" i can grab quickly... for lunches this week, i'll be having chicken and rice soup from the Pioneer Woman's recipe library :)

have a great week :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

conversations from an almost 3 year old perspective...

on wednesday, we spent some time outside... K wandering around and enjoying nature, H and i were hangin' out on a picnic blanket, and then there was Beezer, flaring his puppy nostrils sniffing the sweet breezes...

it was gorgeous out...

before we came in, we all headed to the mailbox to put a few thank you notes in for tomorrow's pick up. as we were walking back, K was lagging behind a bit... when i turned around, she was looking up at the sky...

"Mommy, yook at the clouds..."

Me, stopping to look... "Oh, yes...look at them!"

"They are pitty, Mom...yook!" (grinning)

"Yes, Katherine, they are very pretty...so puffy and white..."

"Mommy. God made the clouds."

"Yep, Katherine, He did..." (grin on my face...i love that she gets God :))

"Mommy? Where is God's house?"

"Oh, well, Katherine, His house is all around us. He lives everywhere."

"Oh, yes, Mommy, he does...wow! Oh yes..." (eyes lit up and big grin)

i want to always remember times like this..................

Thursday, September 1, 2011

karaoke, Katherine style :)

as i mentioned in my last post, my grandma's house is also a funeral home... so, she has a huge chapel that can be found through some doors off of the living area...
in the chapel, there's a microphone that's set up (but plugged in) for when there's a funeral...
Katherine has a thing for music... (i'm so happy about this because i want her to love music as much as i do) and it's not uncommon for her to sing to herself throughout the day... :)
at one point, Ry took her out to the chapel to play ball (there's A LOT of space) and she found that, maybe, she could be the next karaoke star :)
she's singin' a little french tune here, "Frere Jacques" - first in her French and then in English :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"yook! it's a monkey!"

i have spent time in Illinois every year for at least 35 years... :) we head to a very small town called fairmount (population: 800 :)) and stay with my grandma every year. it's a special place for me...it holds a lot of wonderful memories. :) it's not "the same" without my grandpa around, but it's holding new special memories when we're there visiting my grandma :)
my grandma is approaching her 90th birthday...she's an amazing woman. she lives in a huge house, which is also the funeral home that she and my grandpa ran for many, many years. she lives there, alone, manages the stairs and cooking simple meals...and doing her own laundry...she is self-sufficient...at 90! she has had a series of strokes that have taken her ability to read (she can see the letters but cannot "process" what the letters spell) and see well, but she's pretty incredible... :)
of course, when i became a momma, i couldn't wait to bring Katherine, and now, Hannah, to this little town... there's not much to do there...ok...there is nothing to do there...but that's kind of what makes it special. :) you have to find joy in simple things...like going for a walk, watching the trains pass by, and seeing who is walking down the street... :)
this year, it was very, very hot when we were in Illinois, and unfortunately, the 100+ degree temperatures kept us inside for much of the time.
one afternoon we were sitting on the front porch (enclosed) just watching the trees move in the slight breeze... Katherine exclaims, "Yoooook!!! It's a monkey!!!"
i started laughing because i was wondering if she was starting to imagine things because she was so deliriously bored... :)
so we look out the huge window, and sure enough, walking along the power line was NOT a monkey, but a squirrel. :)
we praised her for her great eyesight but let her know that the little fella' she was watchin' along the wire wasn't a monkey, but it was a little squirrel...
to her defense, squirrels in VA are grey... but in Illinois, the squirrels are this pretty chestnut brown color... :) that might be why she was confused about the species :)

so we watched the "skerls" (as K calls them :)) in Illinois... my mom makes it a point to have the feeders full, so the little squirrels all congregate at my grandma's for the week :) there's a feeder, surrounded by 2 beautiful butterfly bushes, that we can see from the living room...it was placed in front of the huge picture window when my grandpa was sick with cancer. he forever loved to watch the birds and butterflies float around the property. so my mom and uncle made sure that he could still find this simple joy as he was losing his fight at home in his hospital bed...

and ten years later, the feeder remains :)

on the day we left to head back east, this little guy was snacking at the feeder, and sweet Katherine spent some time in the living room watching...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

i need a new day......... :)

the last 2 days have been very "long" days for me...on Sunday, H was up before dawn and wouldn't go back to sleep...and today, Monday, K was up at 4 *ugh* calling for me...
i sat and rocked (and fell asleep at some points) in her room for about 2 hours...tip-toed out thinking she was asleep only to find her calling for me 2 minutes after i let out a huge sigh of contentment as i got comfie in my bed again... i brought her to my bed *out of sheer need of sleep* and she talked my ear off for about 2 hours... ry was up for work by then and i had him feel her head...i thought she felt warm but the thermometer read 97.something at 4... i gave her tylenol anyway...she was burning up.... i finally had to put her back in her bed after several warnings...lay down and go to sleep or else... she fell asleep at some point, but i got her up around 9 b/c i didn't want her sleeping the day away... sleeping is hard enough around here without having that as an interruption....
so today was spent with her fever, sneezing, runny nose...pale, bags under her eyes...seriously... now, call me a crazy person, but this coincides with a flu "mist" vaccine and a trip to the doctor for H's 6 month check up... she always seems to contract something or other when we're there... *sigh*
she barely ate dinner...running a temp of 100.3 with tyenol in her...she didn't want to go to sleep tonight...i put her down early (for her) in hopes she'd rest well...she cried and wimpered because she wants to sleep in my bed so badly, but it's rough to do that with her because then she wants to do that every night...even when she's feeling better... breaks my heart... :(
she's sitting up right now...it's 1 AM...and she's been doing this off and on for hours...my poor sweet girl :(

i wonder if the discussion Ry and i had yesterday about the aftershocks from the earthquake we had a week ago has her freaked out a little but she doesn't know how to "say" that outright....and it's coming out in her sleep patterns? yah, we had 4 aftershocks on Sunday...............
i think we'll refer to the earthquake and aftershocks in code from now on... "hey, did you see the pickle jar anywhere?"

my computer HAD a virus...it doesn't any more because i had to shell out $245 (which is a year's worth of protection...) for the nice foreign man to remove it via remote access...took over my computer and everything...so cool... only took 2 hours during our prime dinner hours..... :-\
yah, my computer had 152 viruses on it........
"we think a lot of viruses is 5 to 7," he said....
had to reinstall the operating system again (translation: i lost all the programs i had installed and now have to reinstall them...also backed up my computer, too...so all of that (pictures, music, files, etc.) had to get moved back into the "fresh" computer).........
and forget the fact that i have TWO virus softwares...norton and spyware doctor...they weren't working, obviously....
gonna hafta try to get my money back from those companies.... NOT happy with them... :-\

our car got inspected today...failed b/c it needed new tires... cha-ching again...
nice, new tires... :) passed inspection... goodbye even more money...........

but............. :)
i love my husband and girls...and am blessed to have needs and wants met in abundance... and we're safe... and have wonderful family...
and we have shelter...
and tomorrow, the sky will be a pretty blue again... :)
here's to a new day................................................................................................ :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

meals for the week 8.29.11 to 9.4.11

it's been a good week...interesting, but good...earthquake, aftershocks, a little of Hurricane Irene... :) hannah's 6 month check up, lots of shots (poor baby!)...lacking sleep from her restless nights... but, thankfully, we are safe and sound... :)

we have our meal plan ready to go! :) i'm trying to get myself together a bit because i know we have to grocery shop for a few things early this week... :)

can you believe we're greeting September this week??? wow! :) i'm ready, though...while i do love summer for it's relaxing and having Ry around pretty much full time, i'm looking forward to the leaves changing, crisp nights... :) yay! :)

here's what we'll be eating this week... :)

Monday: tacos :)
Tuesday: french toast casserole
Wednesday: leftover bbq chicken and corn on the cob
Thursday: leftovers (french toast casserole)
Friday: sandwiches and chips
Saturday: eat out? OR omelets :)
Sunday: bbq chicken, baked potatoes, veggie

kind of a simple week...but that's a good thing :) the weather is supposed to be BEAUTIFUL this week, so we'll be playing outside a lot...who wants to spend their time in the kitchen when it's sunny and in the 80s? :)

hope you have a fabulous week! :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

hamburger helper

(i'm writing this post at almost 2 AM... we had a 4.5 aftershock about 30 minutes ago...shook the bed and scared me a bit...woke K, Hannah woke about 5 minutes before...Ry continued to snore...(sigh) while i'm not "scared", it's still scary to feel your house shake...especially when you know your house wasn't built for an earthquake ridden area... so, i'm posting...gotta get my mind off of the aftershock and hopefully back to sleep soon! :))

i had a hankerin' (hehe) for hamburger helper the other day... but, let's face it, i know it's not the healthiest of meals... while i'm not really worried about K eating something bad for her (she won't eat hamburger at all, so i knew she wouldn't have clogged arteries :)), i want to make foods that are good/healthier for my family... i know hamburger helper is full of processed "stuff," fake cheese, colors, preservatives....ick...
so i searched for a homemade hamburger helper recipe...
this was YUMMY!!! :) i couldn't wait for dinner... :)
so, next time you're going to grab a box of that "quick" meal off the grocery shelf, make this instead...it's cheaper and soooooooooo much better for you!!! :) and, i really think it tasted a lot better, as well!

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Make your "sauce packet" first (read below)
Brown up your ground beef. (I used about 1 lb. of lean beef. :)) Drain any grease/fat.
Then, to your skillet, add:
1 cup of hot water
2 cups milk (i didn't have enough milk, so i used 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of half and half and water (about 1/2 cup of each to make a cup).
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni (i added a little more and used medium shells)
prepare a "sauce packet" including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar.
place all of these ingredients in your frying pan over high heat until the water/milk boils. Cover and let simmer for about 12 minutes, or until your pasta is done. Stir the mixture occassionally.
At the end, stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded. (i used about 1/2 cup of pizza blend shredded cheese and 5 slices of velveeta cheese.) Cover and let the cheese melt through the hamburger helper. After it's finished cooking, remove from heat, uncover, and let sit for a short time so the "sauce" can thicken a bit...
You can toss a 1/2 cup shredded cheese on top at the end, too, if you want.

The great thing about this is you can "premake" most of this meal... You can bag up some dry pasta and make a "sauce" packet in a little resealable baggie and then store it for later :) Seriously smart... :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

meals for the weeks 8.15.11-8.28.11

no more traveling...gotta get back into the saddle...school has started (just professional days), so that means no more "loose" plans with dinner...the kids will grace Ry's room on Wednesday, so we'll call that the "official" beginning :)
but, i'm still not calling summer "done" until September when "Fall" is declared :) and quite frankly, i feel like summers get shorter and shorter with school demands...maybe it's just me?
here's our meal plan for the week :) and last week's plan, too, just for my records :) or for your inspiration/idea base :)

8.15 through 8.21
Monday: Chinese frozen meals (lo mein and orange chicken)
Tuesday: grilled chicken and potatoes
Wednesday: sandwiches and chips
Thursday: omelets and toast
Friday: homemade hamburger helper (fabulous! recipe to be posted later :))
Saturday: out to eat - TGIFridays
Sunday: scrounge :)

8.22 through 8.28
Monday: Open House 1-8 PM for Ry - dinner provided / whatever you want for K and me :)
Tuesday: Meg's meatballs, mashed, and corn
Wednesday: cook out (probably hot dogs :)), mac n cheese, veggie

Thursday: leftovers
Friday: spaghetti or skillet lasagna & garlic toast
Saturday: Yankee's Game in Baltimore/out to eat :)
Sunday: grilled chicken & cornbread casserole

hope your week is a great one! :) enjoy yourselves :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

a momma's serenity prayer...

Oh give me patience when wee hands,
Tug at me with their small demands.
And give me gentle and smiling eyes,
Keep my lips from hasty replies.
And let not weariness, confusion, or noise,
Obscure my vision of life's fleeting joys.
So when, in years to come,
my house is still -
No bitter memories its rooms be filled.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

sometimes, you just need some chocolate... :)

today was one of those days where i wish we could have ALL gone back to bed, only to wake up a few minutes later in a WHOLE new attitude :)
it was a weepy day... a day of whining... a day of tantrums at frustrations... a day where play keys found their way into the toilet... it was dreary... we couldn't play outside because it was raining...
so i decided it would be fun to make brownies... after all, K's constant reply when you ask her, "what do you want for lunch?" or "what do you want for dinner?" is always, "ummmmm, brownies and mac and cheese!"

K helped me stir the brownies...
only after she bumped her head on the counter...
yep, more tears... :) and more declarations of, "i need a good nap" through the tears...
and the only thing that stopped her crying was a little chocolate syrup on her finger that quickly ended up in her mouth... :) instant smile... :)

this summer, i went through one of my mom's recipe boxes and found a recipe for brownies that my grandma used to make... today, i didn't make our brownies from scratch, but the recipe i found and copied has a thin icing that you can make to put on top of your brownies... it also calls for some chopped nuts, but no one here is a fan of nuts.

at one point this summer, i made the icing and poured it onto the brownies...they were literally the finest and yummiest thing i had tasted in a long, long, time....
and it was soooo easy :)

so the next time you make brownies, whip up some of this icing and pour it over your brownies...i promise, it will take you to a new place... :)
and on a day like today, chocolate was just what the doctor ordered.... :)
(unfortunately, Miss K did NOT partake in brownies this evening b/c she refused to try/eat her mac n cheese for dinner... :) how ironic!)

Brownie Icing

heat 2 T of water, 1 T magarine or butter so that it's melted. Add 1/4 t. of vanilla. add 1 square of melted baking chocolate until the liquid is smooth and combined.... add 1 C. of confectioners sugar to your mixture and stir, stir stir... i turn off the burner but keep the pan on the burner so that the icing gets nice and shiny and pretty :)
pour the icing on your warm brownies...

devine :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

slap in the face

i follow a blog called *320 Sycamore
i don't know the writer...although she does live in Virginia :)
and i don't know why i started following her blog...but i do...
every Sunday, she posts "courage for the week." a quote...a video...something that usually moves you...
while i don't share the writer's religious beliefs as my own, i do find her posts on Sunday to be fabulous... they always make me think... and, for the most part, they always hit a chord with a topic that i need at that given time... parenting, frustration...everything...
i love when that happens...
it's like a slap in the face..."snap out of it, Robin"
this week, i needed to read what she posted....
maybe you do, too :)

“I see women who are doing their absolute best in every way – but they keep track only of their mistakes. They make lists of things they haven’t done instead of the phenomenal amount of things they’ve accomplished. No matter what mountain of achievement they’ve just climbed, they stumble over molehills, saying things like, “But it’s not enough,” or, “I didn’t do it well enough.” The good news of the gospel is that who we are is okay. Our best is good enough. The Savior came for us –just as we are.

…perfect people don't need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He's not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.”

~Chieko Okazaki

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

hello again! :)

well, i've greatly neglected this blog...but i have good reason...
we spent 19 days traveling and spending time with family...
we traveled 2600 miles...yes...two thousand six hundred...
to my parents in Pennsylvania...
to my grandma's house in Illinois...
to my parent's house again...
to NJ to see my husband's side of the family for a short time...
and then to Delaware to see Ry's parents...
it was great to see everyone...
but i am so happy to be at home...i just miss it...the smells...the comforts...and that's not meaning that we weren't comfortable in our family's homes...but i just mean the simple comforts of home...
for my girls to sleep in their own beds...
for me to sleep in my own bed.... :)

i have a lot of catching up to do....
and ry goes back to school in a week.... *sniff*
i need to get our spare bedroom switched over so that Hannah can have her own room with the crib that Katherine is in...and Katherine needs to move to a regular bed... and that's not an easy task...moving beds, putting beds in our already full basement for storage...packing up books...
lots of changes...
i probably won't get it all done before ry goes back to school...but hopefully i can make huge headway so that it can be MOSTLY done... :) then i can finish it during naps...or at night...or when i have a free moment :)
i am making September my goal...so translated, that might mean by Christmas :) just kidding... it has to be done before Christmas....

soon, our normal schedule will begin... and we'll have to say goodbye to our summer...
i hate that........
you get so used to a new routine that it becomes normal...and now, it's time to change it up again...
but routine is good...

hello again :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

strawberry fields

over Memorial Day weekend (yes, i'm slow at posting), Ry, K, H, and i went strawberry picking with our fabulous friends (and neighbors), the Weigles. :) it was a beautiful day...a little warm, but still gorgeous. and, after a fabulous month plus of illness for the family, it was a very needed day of fresh air and fun! :)
K was NOT a fan of picking berries initially... she was overwhelmed, i think... the fields are pretty big, and while it wasn't busy with people, she had never seen such rows of plants, etc. :) after she watched us pick for a few minutes, she was ready to jump in. :) i gave her careful instructions about picking berries that were red, which she was good to follow. she picked an occasional not so ripe berry, but for a 2 1/2 year old, she did beautifully... :)
and, with every berry she picked, she would ask me if it was a good one :) it was so cute...even for the hour we were there...
"this one, mommy...."
"this is red, mommy...."
"mommy, yuuuk...a staw-berry...."
"i yike staw-berries today..."
"this is fun..."
"this one, mommy...put it in the box?"
yes, this was my sweet music for picking :)
we picked over 7 pounds of berries on this outing. the price was decent (i think we paid around $25)... :)
here are some pics of our adventure... :)
Katherine and i waving at the camera :) (notice the beaded Mardi Gras necklace that she's wearing...the necklace phase lasted for over a month... this was her favorite - a heart necklace :))

my little strawberry farmer :) busy pickin' berries :)

another picture of the mommy/daughter team :) i love this pic of the two of us... :)

and....here's poor Hannah's perspective of strawberry picking...stuck in a stroller in the super warm temperatures... :) she was so good...but i still felt bad that she couldn't take part in the fun... :) yet... :)

here is K and her strawberry loot :) she did a great job! :)

the challenge after the strawberry picking was what to do with the 7 pounds of berries we picked.... and since i don't have a lot of spare time, it took me 3 or 4 days to get through all the berries... and, fresh berries don't keep long, either... so i washed berries one night and in the morning of the next day (i actually sat on the floor in the living room during Hannah's morning nap so that i could hang out with K while she played and i could also cut the stems off of the berries and slice them)...

i made over a gallon of strawberry freezer jam... :) somethin' about the taste of this jam takes me back to my childhood at my grandma's :) and, we have shared several jars and still have enough in the freezer to take us through the cold winter months :)

and when i taste the jam (K will not eat it :( ), my mind will take me back to our fun afternoon the strawberry fields... :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

bathing beauties :)

in late May, we broke out the 2 year old kiddie pool... :) yes, it was way too small for K, but as most of you know, having something "FUN" and active to do during the day is necessary with a 2 1/2 year old... :) desperate times call for desperate measures :)
anyway, over a weekend, when Ry was home, we took advantage of some serious pool time :)
since this kiddie pool is so small, we could keep it on our deck :) (we've since gotten a bigger kiddie pool; more on that later :))
i hadn't even gotten K a new "bathing soup" yet (that's what K calls a bathing suit :)), and i needed to dig Hannah's hand-me-down "soup" out of the closet ... so, in keeping with the theme of the desperate times quote, K and Hannah were in their bathing soup onesies :)

here are some pics of our "kewl" day :) (yep, that's what K calls a pool, too :))
my bathin' beauties :)

here's my sweet Hannah and my hubby :) love this pic of the two of them...would love to know what the both of them were thinking at that moment :) love Hannah's sunglasses (around her neck at this point) and her little hat :) so cute... :)

Katherine is demonstrating just how small this kiddie pool is... :) in attempt to "get wet," she's trying to lay down :)

more shots :) hangin' out in the "kewl" :)

i could eat her up :) so serious...so cute... :) love those cheeks :)

K sportin' her sunglasses in the pool :)

we love summertime swimming... :) while Hannah is still a little too young to be playing in the water yet, Katherine is enjoying hours in the water... :)