Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Review

January: Sophie turns 3. Milly is born full term. NO NICU. Sophie adores her sister. Gideon thinks that I've brought home some sort of elaborate baby doll. I begin getting up at night again with a baby and fall in love with infomercials all over again. How I got through her first few months without buying Pajama Jeans and a GT Xpress Redi Set Go is totally beyond me.

February: I begin this blog! I had a newborn, a toddler and a preschooler. Everything goes hazy. The heater breaks during the coldest month in Texas and we spend a few days at my grandma's house until everything gets sorted out with my landlord. Things start to get dark as I struggle to keep my head above water. Hillsong's The Greatness of Our God becomes the song I turn to whenever I need to remember that God is always bigger than my problems. Also, Milly meets the sling for the first time and I begin to wonder if my children are part marsupial.

March: Sophie and Gideon start Mother's Day Out. I find a new psychiatrist and go back on meds. The haze begins to lift. I get time alone with my newborn. It's easier to clean the house and get to church. Sophie begins to talk more and Gideon comes out of his shell at MDO. My babies know how to play with other kids!

April: Milly begins smiling! She's so beautiful! She still has all of her hair and it gets curly after a bath. On the 18th, she rolls over from her tummy to her back for the first time. My third baby and I'm still mesmerized by how my baby learns. She sleeps through the night and doesn't spit up too much after we've switched her to a new formula. She babbles all of the time. At the end of the month, Gideon spends two days at Children's Legacy with breathing problems. I'm fed up by this point and determined to find a doctor to give me a proactive solution for my baby boy. I still remember one Sunday morning when I took the girls to church and Ben stayed home with Gideon. During the service, my song (Greatness of Our God) played and I dropped to the floor as I sobbed to God to help my baby.

May: The Plague descends upon the Dyer household. Ear infections all around for the kids, bronchitis for Mama and Ben gets a Severe Man Cold. Holy macaroni, it's a tough few weeks but we get through it and come out on the other side just in time for Ben to go on his first business trip. Three days alone with the kids! OH BOY. Beyond my wildest expectations, the kids are complete angels. They go to Mother's Day Out, eat their dinners and go to bed without fussing. I even try to invite Sophie to stay up late and hang out with Mama and then sleep in Mama's bed! Fun! Girl time! Sleepover! This is met with a firm NO and a reminder that we not deviate from routine. (Honestly, Mother.) Finally, finally, FINALLY we see a doctor who diagnoses Gideon with asthma. My baby has a daily inhaler that lets him breathe! He's a different kid within a week! I know that no mother would ever wish asthma on their children but I'm just grateful that we have an answer. Milly begins teething and it pisses her off ROYALLY. The kids "participate" in their first Easter Egg Hunt and are completely flummoxed by the concept. They are given Pity Eggs from other kids. Gideon tries to eat the plastic eggs. When they are found to be inedible he turns them into grenades. Ben and I celebrate our 4th anniversary. We kiss a lot. Ben's parents come to Dallas for a few days and proclaim Milly acceptable.

June: I turn...26. Let's say 26. We have family pictures taken by the fabulous Jenn Weis. They are amazing and I commit to getting family pictures done once a year. Milly begins to scoot and army crawl. I move everything up a shelf. I try to potty train Sophie and she pees on Milly's head. Sophie is not ready for potty training. We begin to think that something more than a speech delay is wrong with Sophie. Gideon turns two and my heart breaks a little. Milly is introduced to solid food in the form of cereal and yogurt. She gobbles it down, grabs for the spoon and screeches at me when I go too slow. I begin making my own baby food again.

July: Milly rolls over from her back to her tummy. Now she looks like she's on a hot dog cooker. She can army crawl or roll to where she wants to go. Three mobile kids are making me want that third eye in the back of my head that every mother claims. Sophie discovers that forts are really cool and I begin saving giant boxes. She also goes to her first pool party and we discover that she is a water baby! Why can't that translate to the bath when I have to wash her hair?! My best friend had her first and long-awaited baby boy. I was there at the hospital in the middle of the night to wait and greet him. It's the first time I've been on that side of the situation and it was interesting to experience. Sophie said "I love you" for the first time. Ben and I freak out and beg her to repeat it as often as possible.

August: Milly has cut two teeth and can sit up on her own. She is a really easy baby until her teeth make her mad and she Hulks out. Then we run for the Baby Orajel before the house shifts to the left again. To bookend Texas weather, the A/C decides to break during the hottest summer we've had in decades. We spend days at my mother's house while we struggle with the repairs and landlord again. Sophie is going through a Naked Phase and I say a silent prayer every single time we leave the house that everything stays on her body until we get home. Once we get home, I don't care as long as her non-potty-trained butt is diapered. Her only obsession is with socks. I regularly have a naked, diapered 3 year old roaming my house with a Cookie Monster sock on one foot and an Elmo sock on the other foot. Sometimes she's wearing her black patent Mary Janes. I begin watching the 2005 reboot of Doctor Who and become a certified Whovian. David Tennant is my Doctor. At the end of the month, Milly begins pulling up and I start pulling out my hair. Gideon is my quiet little man with a maniacal oral fixation. He chews almost through the PS3 cord and every single wood item we own has bite marks around his height. His crib looks like we raise beavers. I join and become completely obsessed with Pinterest.

September: Sophie is speaking more and doing well at MDO. However, she still needs more help. We are researching Pediatric Developmental Doctors and try to get her enrolled into GISD for speech classes. This develops into a HUGE ordeal with more paperwork than I ever imagined could exist. Ben turns 32. I actually get crafty and MAKE something for his birthday. Pinterest Addiction has actually paid off! Milly pulls up and begins cruising around the furniture. Holy Moly, three mobile kids are a lot of work!

October:Milly can sit in a high chair and feed herself! Kinda. Sorta. OK, we find a lot of stuff in her lap but some delicious morsels make it into her mouth and she's very proud! We make the difficult decision to take the kids out of MDO. The time and money is just not there. I'm medicated and ready to entertain the kiddos at home. If and when we get a second car then we will revisit the idea of MDO for Gideon and possibly Milly. Sophie will hopefully begin some sort of school to help her with her speech and developmental delays. Baseball season begins and Ben discovers that Milly is the Rangers' lucky charm. Milly has a lot of late bedtimes waiting for "one more inning". Sophie has found a new love in the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and adores Daisy. We take the kids to the Disney Store for the first time. Sophie leaves with a large Daisy doll and does not put her down for about a week and a half. Gideon leaves with Pluto and even Milly grabbed a small Jessie doll. It's fun to see the kids eyes get wide as they see their favorite characters in a store where they can hold them and take them home. Milly begins babbling with a purpose and her first word is Mama. I am now two for one. (Sophie is the only one who said Dada first.) We take the kids to the Mesquite Lake Pointe Fall Festival. Everything goes surprisingly well!

November: We're gearing up for a trip to Arizona at Thanksgiving so the majority of the month is making lists and checking them twice. Gideon gets his first haircut and the building is still standing. I only cried a little. We have a get-together with my mother's side of the family and I'm reminded again how blessed I am and how nuts my family can be. Milly finally says Dada but NEVER around her DADA! Ben and I pay off the Volvo S80 we bought the first year we were married. It may not work but it's ours and we're grateful. We spend the 19th and the 20th traveling to Arizona with three kids. How we didn't end up tossing them at Nana and Grampie and then checking into the nearest Mental Institution is still beyond me. The kids are overjoyed to see their grandparents and great-grandparents and the weather is wonderful. On Thanksgiving Day, Ben is felled with a stomach virus. The grandparents take the kids while I stay at the hotel to care for Ben. Great-Grammie is also sick. When they bring the kids back that night, we find out that Gideon barfed all over his Grampie. He barfs again when he gets back to the hotel. Milly saves the day by saying Dada to her Daddy for the first time while in his lap. The next day, I'm sick and my MIL is sick. The grandparents take the kids while Ben takes me back to the hotel. The day we leave, Grampie and Great-Grampie are sick. Gideon barfs AGAIN in the hotel on the way home. Only Sophie and Milly manage to dodge the bug. Dyer Thanksgiving 2011 goes down in history.

December: Gideon is still having some freaky stomach problems. I take him off of dairy products to see if he is lactose-intolerant and it gets worse. Diaper changes become terrifying to my baby boy. Milly begins standing all by herself. She also becomes a dedicated thumb sucker. Sometimes, when the teething gets bad, then she'll take a pacifier. She has little bite marks all over her right thumb that make me cringe every time. We finish the last can of formula and switch her over to regular milk without a fuss. No diaper problems, no YUCK WHAT IS THIS, no drama. She prefers her milk warmed and really likes warm chocolate milk. On December 17th, Milly takes her first steps. She's only taken a few steps since then. We think it's because it's too unstable and slow. She's a speed crawler and has no time for walking. There's older siblings to chase! Christmas goes off without a hitch. I receive a new Kindle from my love with a handmade BY HIM cover! HE GOT CRAFTY. The kids got new toys including a Little People Ark and Sesame Street figurines. It's funny to watch them put Super Grover at the front of the Ark and think "Wow. That ark is DOOMED." The indoctrination also continued in the form of Texas A&M Reveille and the Texas Rangers Captain Pillow Pets. The girls wore matching Christmas sweater dresses and were the most adorable things on Earth. Sophie was accepted by a Developmental Pediatric Practice and will see them for the first time in January. Ben and I spent the last night of 2011 with steaks and Big Bang Theory.

2011, you were full of laughter, tears, surprises, sickness, healing and love.

2012, I can't wait to see what God has in store.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


There are people that have wanted children for years that have never seen two lines on a pregnancy test.

I've seen three born safely to my arms.

There are people who mourn loved ones that are in other states, other countries and are sometimes in danger.

My family is under one roof; safe and sound.

There are mothers who cry today because they don't know how they will feed their children.

There is not just food in my kitchen but special lactose-free food so that my son doesn't get sick.

There are wives that look at their husband and wonder if he truly loves them. Some of them know that he doesn't and even know the other woman's name.

My husband is faithful to God first and me second.

There are people who cannot worship God in public for fear of persecution. They struggle everyday with the balance of leading others to God and staying safe.

I have a wonderful church home where I can worship with friends and family.

No matter what happens this Christmas season, I will be grateful for all that I have. This includes a loving God who sent His only Son to live as a man so that I could understand Him better. A God that cries with me when I cry, who cheers with me when I succeed and who lifts me back onto my feet with a kiss when I fall.

Merry Christmas.

Now go eat some cookies.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Excuse You

(Ben is out running errands this afternoon and the other kids are asleep. I'm in my bed with Sophie trying to take a nap and convince her to do the same.)


*Sophie giggles*

Me: "Sophie, say excuse me."

Sophie: "Dada!"

Me: "It wasn't Dada."

Sophie: "DADDY!"

Me: "I heard it come out of your butt. It shook the whole blanket."

Sophie: *very insistent* "DAAADAAAA!"

Me: "Sophia, Daddy isn't even in the house! He's not even in the same city!"

Sophie: "IT DADA!!!!"

Me: *sigh* "Fine. Daddy tooted. Now go to sleep."

Sophie: "Ew."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Don't Blink

I'm trying to create a freezer stash of meals and meal prep stuff. Yesterday I made spicy black beans in the crockpot and today I browned about 4 pounds of ground beef into taco beef. These will be portioned out and frozen ready to pull out and make quick dinners. I have to do it a little at a time because of the three maniacal kids at my feet.

I was reminded of that today when I came out of the kitchen and found Milly with her head in the fireplace.

She had climbed up and over the blockade of pillows, the brick hearth and some small boxes that were in her way.

My daughter is a mountain goat. Please send lots of Visine. I'm never blinking again.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Parenting Pet Peeves

OK, I know I've totally skipped over the Arizona Thanksgiving Car Trip Extravaganza and I PROMISE that I'm going to tell you all about it. It's going to take some time and I'm just now getting to the point where I can tell the story without cringing and hiding in a corner with a bucket as a helmet and a makeshift sword.

So, for now, let's talk about the irritating things our kids do.

My two oldest still use sippy sups. Sophie knows how to use a regular cup but I won't let her take it around the house because I don't like cleaning milk off of every single surface including the ceiling.

Gideon still takes regular cups and dumps them over his head like he's in the bath instead of at Chili's.

I lovingly fix my darlings sippy cups every morning; regular milk for Sophie since she doesn't like chocolate and chocolate milk (now soy milk) for Gideon. Gideon has been showing signs of lactose intolerance so we're trying to wean him over. What better way than with the dark lusciousness of chocolate?

Sophie takes her cup and babbles happily through her clothes change and then goes to greet her sister and her toys.

When I hand Gideon his cup, he drains almost everything and then you can almost see the cup evaporate into thin air. I sigh and wonder where I'm going to find it this time.

2 weeks later under the couch?
4 days later under his crib?
6 hours later behind a couch cushion?


He drinks some and then just stashes the cup. I try to watch him like a hawk to see where the cup will land but, well I have two other children who already know 867,946 ways to kill themselves and each other with household objects.

When we move from this house I expect to find sippy cups in every single room of the house. Some will have cheese and some will have wine. Perfect for a going away party.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Crockpot Broccoli Cheese Soup

Remember my earlier post about crockpot soups and stews when I said that I wanted a broccoli cheese soup?


It begins with Crockpot 365. I tweaked her recipe a little after looking at the reviews and knowing what Ben and I like.

Without further ado...

The Stuff:
1 qt chicken broth
2 cups milk (I used 2% cow's)
2 10 oz bags of frozen broccoli florets
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp black powder
1 lb Velveeta, cubed
2 cups of shredded cheese (I used cheddar and colby jack.)
2 tbsp cornstarch

The Process:
Let's start with the chicken broth. I don't make my own. I don't usually buy cans or boxes.

I almost always use this stuff.

Curse me if you must, but it's easy and I like the taste.

So! 1 quart is 4 cups. 4 cups of chicken broth go in your crockpot. Then goes 2 cups of milk. Whisk it around and add your seasonings. Honestly, I took a stab at the amounts. I truly just add what seems "right". Whisk everything around again and dump in all of your broccoli. Then stir and set your crockpot on Low.

20 minutes before dinner, go back to your crockpot and savor the loveliness of broccoli simmering in chickeny milk. Drop your cheese into the crockpot and stir again. Let it melt away.

When you're ready to eat, take a taste of the soup. Is is too thin? Take that 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and stir in 2 tablespoons of COLD water. I really can't emphasize that COLD enough. Cornstarch does not dissolve in warm or hot water. It will just leave friendly little grits all through your soup. What you have now is called a "slurry".

Look how much you're learning!

Pour the cornstarch slurry into the soup, turn the crockpot on High and leave the top off. Let it cook for a while until it gets a little thicker. may eat the wonderful, glorious, incredible concoction that we so enjoyed tonight. I had a huge bowl and was completely stuffed but still wanted more. Even Ben, my carnivore husband, gleefully devoured two bowls and proclaimed it amazing.

That means a lot coming from someone as bacon addicted as he.

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Blessings

In the morning when you rise
I bless the sun, I bless the skies
I bless your lips, I bless your eyes
My blessing goes with you

In the nighttime when you sleep
Oh I bless you while a watch I keep
As you lie in slumber deep
My blessing goes with you

Does every mother weep as she thinks of her children sleeping peacefully in their beds? They're safe and warm. They're cuddled with their favorite blankets and animals or babies. They're fed and clean. They're safe.

When your weary heart is tired
If the world would leave you uninspired
When nothing more of love's desired
My blessing goes with you

When the storms of life are strong
When you're wounded, when you don't belong
When you no longer hear my song
My blessing goes with you

Is it because we know that we'll have to let them go? That we can't always tuck them in and smooth the hair back from their foreheads? That we can't always know what they've eaten that night? Are they having good dreams or are they worried about something? I won't be able to pick them up when they cry out in the night.

This is my prayer for you
There for you, ever true
Each, every day for you
In everything you do

And when you come to me
And hold me close to you
I bless you
And you bless me, too.

The Blessing
Celtic Woman

They have blessed me by just existing. Therefore, I will bless them by praying daily for them. I will weep for them. I will cheer them on. I will forever be their Mama.

All Hail the Crockpot!


Seriously, this is my go-to appliance in the kitchen. I don't think I could live without one or maybe five of them. As Dallas grows nippier, my thoughts begin to turn to stews and soups. Possibly with lovely biscuits, crusty rolls or cornbread. Here are some of my basics.


The Stuff
1 pound dry lentils
1 pound smoked sausage, diced
1 can sliced white potatoes, drained
1 can sliced carrots, drained
1 10 ounce can tomato sauce
4 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder

The Process:
Add to crockpot. Turn on Low. Walk away. Remove bay leaf and enjoy in 6 - 8 hours. Too thick? Add water or chicken broth. Too thin? Cook on high with the lid off for a while.

Chicken Tortilla Stew

The Stuff
3 - 4 chicken breasts or thighs
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with peppers (Rotel)
1 10 ounce can tomato sauce
1 26 oz box chicken stock
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can undrained corn kernels
1 can undrained black beans
1 can undrained chili beans

The Process:
Add to crockpot. Turn on Low. Walk away. Enjoy in 6 - 8 hours. Serve over crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheese. Chop up an avocado and savor the cold versus hot. Add sour cream on top or some chopped scallions and cilantro if you're feeling fancy.

I'm on the lookout for some crockpot recipes for broccoli cheese soup, baked potato soup and a decent Texas chili. (NO BEANS.) Any suggestions?


I have tried to get Sophie to nap today. It did not go well and ended with her leaping from my bed after 45 minutes of tantrums. Now she wanders the house.

Sophie: "Gibbon?" (This is how she says Gideon.)

Me: "Sorry, kiddo. He's napping."

Sophie: "Oh. Nih-nih, Gibbon. Mei-Mei?!"

Me: "Also napping."

Sophie: ", Mei-Mei."

*crestfallen sigh as she goes to play by herself.*


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fajita YUM

When it comes to Tex-Mex, I almost always choose something with fajita beef. Nachos, quesadillas, tacos or just plain ole' fajitas. (Onions only, please.)

We have a wonderful place here in Sachse called Chiloso. There's another location in Richardson. It's your basic taco, BOB, Tex-Mex joint with 2 glorious pillars of delight.

The grilled avocados loaded with meat, cheese and cilantro.

See that little cup of white sauce? That's Bella Blanca. It's a delicious blend of jalapenos, lime and ranch.

Last week, I ordered the grilled avocados for the first time. I loaded them with fajita beef. They came with queso underneath and I drizzled Bella Blanca on top. I then swooned with every bite.

I tried to recreate something similar at home. I made fajita beef and added sliced mushrooms with this marinade that I tweaked from One Sassy Chef.

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp garlic powder (I was out of real garlic)
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp liquid smoke flavoring (any flavor works, but I like hickory the best)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cumin

Don't marinate the mushrooms too long. They're little sponges! Then I just sauteed everything together and added some black beans.


Because I like black beans and I knew my husband wasn't going to touch this concoction because of the fungus infestation.

After everything was sauteed together, I pulled it out of the pan and put the avocado halves in with the skin still on. I put the pan lid on to kinda steam them. After a few minutes, I pulled them out and cut the avocado away from the skin while saying OWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW because I couldn't do it with an oven mitt on.

I laid the avocado on the plate and liberally covered it with the steak-mushroom-bean concoction. It didn't taste like Chiloso but it tasted like mine. It's a keeper and I'm really enjoying the leftovers today with another fresh avocado. (Not grilled.)

Go forth and experiment!

Lord, Give Me Strength

You know what happens when you have kids close together?

You have two kids go through picky stages at the same time.

Sophie and Gideon ate nothing but tortillas at dinner last night and are now both refusing breakfast. They're drinking milk. I'm going to have to get some sort of Carnation Instant Breakfast to start putting in their morning milk to get some calories into them.

Milly, however, is looking at me like "Is that toast? Can I have another piece? I think I popped another button on my onesie!"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Tomorrow morning if you wake up
And the sun does not appear,
I will be here.

If in the dark we lose sight of love,
Hold my hand and have no fear,
‘Cause I will be here.

I will be here when you feel like being quiet;
When you need to speak your mind, I will listen.
And I will be here when the laughter turns to crying;
Through the winning, losing, and trying, we’ll be together,
‘Cause I will be here.

Tomorrow morning if you wake up
And the future is unclear,
I will be here.

As sure as seasons are made for change,
Our lifetimes are made for years,
So I will be here.

I will be here, so you can cry on my shoulder;
When the mirror tells us we’re older, I will hold you.
And I will be here to watch you grow in beauty,
And tell you all the things you are to me;
I will be here.

I will be true to the promise I have made,
To you and to the One who gave you to me.

As sure as seasons are made for change,
Our lifetimes are made for years,
So I, I will be here.
We'll be together and i will be here.

I Will Be Here
Steven Curtis Chapman

This is how God reminds me that He will never put me down.

Halloween 2011

I was so prepared for Halloween to bite.

Let me back up. We have a HORRIBLE Halloween track record. Sophie was 10 months old on her first Halloween and was sick. No cute baby pictures of a confused pumpkin or pea pod. The second Halloween we had a 22 month old daughter and a 3 month old son. Both were sick. I started to wonder if Halloween really was cursed.

Finally last year, both children were germ-free! I was pregnant but could waddle along to the Fall Festival. That's what you do in the Buckle of the Bible Belt. You go to church-run Fall Festivals where the kids can play games to earn their candy.

Yoda and the Prima Donna Ballerina were not amused. Neither of them like candy, the games confused them and it was way past their bedtime. We lasted maybe 30 minutes.

This year we had three little monsters. Warily, I procured costumes. Did you know that NO ONE ON EARTH makes a Daisy Duck costume for kids?! Daisy is Sophie's favorite Disney character. So we went with Minnie instead and she carried her best friend.

Minnie is a little bit of a ham.

Gideon was a race car driver. In true 2-year old form, he took great offence at being dressed up and paraded about.

So Ben decided that he was Kurt Busch.

Milly was supposed to be an adorable little kitty cat in a tutu.

(image from Party City)

Cute, right?

Milly grew. So we put her in a tutued long sleeved dress and called her a ballerina-princess-cute-baby.

We got to the Fall Festival and my spirits (har!) were lifted when Sophie successfully played a beanbag game. I just have to teach her to pick the good kind of candy. She just grabs indiscriminately. We played beanbag toss games, basketball and a game where the kids grabbed a plastic duck out of a small pond. Gideon wanted the duck more and actually got one foot in the pool before I caught him.

Did I mention that none of my kids like candy?

There was a petting zoo and pony rides. We knew that Gideon would lose his diaper if we put him on a moving animal so I took him into the petting zoo instead. He just stood back and stared at the goats. He screamed in protest whenever I encouraged him to actually, you know, PET the animals. Then, after a short line, we were able to see just what would happen if you put Sophie on a horse.

She actually liked it! She kept saying GINNUP! and HOESEY! and whenever we passed her Daddy with the camera she would yell CHEEEEESE! The only downside was that Mama picked poorly and put her on the LARGEST pony there. Sophie kept leaning towards me and I was honestly afraid that she would tumble right off. It didn't help that I couldn't convince her to hold onto the durn saddle. She had fun but a horsewoman she is not.

When we left, not one child was crying. In fact, they were all smiling. This counts as a Win in the Dyer book. We finally won a Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011


A package arrived for me yesterday. I came out onto the porch and picked up the big brown box only to be greeted with the familiar sounds of the TARDIS whooshing.


Then I realized that it was probably my TARDIS cookie jar from Think Geek.

Still cool.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thigh Love

It is impossible to talk about chicken without feeling a little awkward.

*me after dinner* "Oof...I'm full. Two thighs is plenty."

Ben: "Yeah, more than two would be weird."

Garlicky Baked Chicken Thighs

The Stuff:
5 or 6 chicken thighs (mine were on the bone and had skin.)
3 TBSP soy sauce (I think I'm going to up this to 4 TBSP next time.)
1 stick of melted butter (SHUT UP.)
3 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp black pepper

The Process:
Throw your thighs into a bag.

See? It's awkward.

Pour everything else into there and squish it around. Marinate it for 30 minutes to a day. Past a day, put it in the freezer to cook later.

OK! It's later! Take out the bag and let everything thaw. Preheat your oven to 400 and grab a broiler pan. Lay your thighs onto the broiler pan and bake for 40-ish minutes. I just watched mine and waited until they were nice and brown and crispy. These were great with mashed potatoes.


Sorry. Just had to say it again.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mama at Christmas

Mama at Christmas

Beef and Mushroom Win

Thank you, Crockstar, for changing my life.

I've been looking for a good beef stroganoff recipe for a while now. Extra points if I can dump it in the crock pot and walk away. I've tried a few and was disappointed. The gravy was bland, thin or non-existent. Then I found this on Pinterest.


The Stuff:
2 pounds cubed stew meat
1 can Condensed Golden Mushroom Soup
1 can Beefy Onion Soup
1/2 bag of frozen chopped onion
1/2 cup water
4 TBSP of Worcestershire
8 oz of cream cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 TBSP butter
3 oz sliced mushrooms

The Process:
First dump your canned soups into the crock along with the water, onion and Worcestshire. Stir until combined and then add your stew meat. Mine was frozen. I love meals that I don't have to defrost because I NEVER remember to defrost the dadgum meat! Turn it to Low and walk away.

After about 7 hours, come back and savor your creation. It's almost ready. Cube the cream cheese and drop it in. Turn the crock up to High and let it go.

Here's where I got a little tricky. My husband doesn't like mushrooms. I still love him but that means that I have to cook my mushrooms separately. I think I actually like it better this way! I just melted the butter in a saucepan and dumped the mushrooms in. Once they were browned and starting to soften, I sprinkled the seasonings on and stirred. I covered them and set them on medium. Every few minutes I would stir them and then I just took them off the heat when they were to my liking.

Ben will probably eat the stroganoff over mashed potatoes. I ate it over my glorious sauteed mushrooms. I'm even thinking of making the gravy and mushrooms as a side dish for steak.

Try it, lovelies. It's good for you.

Mama Attempts to be Trendy

Mama Attempts to be Trendy

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Little Flopper

Milly is getting more mobile everyday. It's not often that I get to really hold her. More often than not, I hold a silly girl who flaps her arms and wiggles around to see everything around her. She barks a weird breathless laugh that I have GOT to get on camera so I can remember the sound forever.

Today she is crawling around on me. Her breath smells like formula and the pumpkin muffins I made last night. She holds onto my should and carefully stands up. Then she gets too excited at her accomplishment, flaps too hard and topples over. She bark-laughs and smiles the whole time. She examines every bit of my face; carefully looking at every nook and cranny of my ear and pulling at my eyebrows reminding me that I probably need to go get them waxed. (Eyebrows, not ears.) She finally giggles so much that she gets the hiccups giving herself an even funnier drunken lilt to her early morning play.

Lord, let me never forget this little 9-month old girl.

Don't let me forget her fuzzy hair that doesn't seem to part any "right" way even when she's taking an hour every morning to put every hair in place.

Don't let me forget this silliness even when she's too old for such nonsense.

Don't let me forget the grin with only 6 uneven baby teeth even when she has a mouthful of braces and then a mouthful of beautiful white teeth.

Dear Lord, let me remember.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

While He's Little

Sometimes when I get Gideon up from a nap he needs to be held. His eyes are still blinky and he's a little bit of a zombie. He lays heavily on my chest and puts his fuzzy head on my shoulder or under my chin. his downy fine hair is still sweaty on the back of his neck. He snuggles close with his arms around my neck and I rub his back. Last week, he was still in his 4T Aggie jersey.

Please let me remember these moments.

Let me remember when he's storming around the house knocking his sisters' toys down.

Let me remember when he's too old to be held.

Let me remember when he won't let me kiss him anymore.

Let me remember when he's 18, a foot taller than me and wearing a real football jersey.

Dear Lord, let me remember.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chicken Faux-mesan

Hello. My name is Kelly and I'm addicted to Pinterest.

I have boards for everything under the sun including one for my personal chuckles. Actually, there are two chuckle boards. I chuckle a lot.

On Pinterest I have found SO MANY different recipes that I'm ready to make and add to my collection at All Recipes. This is one that the whole family loved and is going right in my virtual cookbook. The only con Ben and I could find is that it doesn't heat up well. Leftovers get soggy on the top when chilled and reheated. The fresh from the oven casserole?


Chicken Faux-mesan

The Stuff:
4 boneless chicken pieces (breasts or thighs will work)
Your favorite marinara sauce (I used a jar of Prego Veggie Smart)
Finely shredded Italian cheese blend
Parmesan cheese (I used the stuff in the green can. SUE ME.)
1 bag of garlic and herb croutons (Stay with me, folks!)

The Process:
Cube your chicken parts into bite sized pieces. Drizzle a little EVOO on the bottom of an 8x8 or 9x9 cooking vessel. I then sprinkled a little Italian seasoning over the EVOO. Scatter your chicken pieces into the casserole dish. Cover the chicken with marinara sauce. Don't drown it. Just cover it. Then put a layer of glorious cheese over the sauce. I just eyeballed it but about a 1/4 cup of Italian blend cheese and then a good shake of the parm should do it. Open those croutons and put a layer over the cheese. Then do another layer of cheese. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. If the top starts to get too brown then put some foil over the top. We just want that chicken to cook and the cheese to get all melty.

What you are left with is a crunchy on the top, melty-chewy on the bottom chicken parm casserole. Ben, Gideon and I all loved it. Sophie ate garlic bread and about 3 pieces of casserole.

Here's a link to the man who created this wonderful and fast dish.

Thank you from this harried mother.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Middle Child

Dear Gideon,


I say that so often about you. It ranks right up there with coming over to your Dad and saying "OK, YOUR SON..." to which he interrupts with "I hate it when stories begin that way."

OH WAIT! I also repeat the words STOP CHEWING ON THAT about 9,458,924 times a day. Didn't you stop teething a year ago? Why does it look like we live with beavers? You are really lucky you're cute.

Those big brown eyes get you out of so much trouble. Daddy calls you a Mama's Boy but I know the truth. You are just perfect and I'm the only one who can see it even when you bring me a handful of poop you just dug out of the back of your diaper. You are such a BOY. You like rolling around in the dirt and playing with your cars. You roughhouse with anyone willing to play and some that are drafted into the effort. Another reason I know you're all boy? Every single time I change your diaper, you grab ahold of your little boy parts. Can I give you a tip? IT DOESN'T FALL OFF. YOU DON'T HAVE TO CHECK EVERY TIME.

You're a laid back little guy. You go with the flow and do whatever everyone else is doing. (Namely, your older sister.) You're starting to talk now. You can count to ten and you repeat some of the things you hear on Sesame Street and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. In fact, you just spent your whole nap today calling for Toodles. Nearly everything you say ends in a question mark.

"One? Two?"

You're Mama's little growling, stomping, filthy Godzilla goat-boy. You still cuddle on my shoulder every single night before going to sleep and after every nap. I wouldn't have you any other way.

Mama loves you.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Wrapping Drawer

Ben is trying to get cling wrap onto the leftover casserole and is failing. The cling wrap is wildly sticking to everything, including itself, and refuses to tear. I end up helping him hold it still while we wrestle it into place.

Ben: ARGH! I hate this stuff! You have to keep it perfectly straight or it gets everywhere!

Me: (talking for the cling wrap in a Cletus-moron voice) "YAY! I KAN STICK TO FINGS!"

Ben laughs.

Me: Why do we always go for the moron voice when describing things?

Ben: Well, it is the moron of the drawer.

Me: True. Parchment paper is the snooty cousin.

Ben: The Ziploc bags are the...

Both: ...nerds / techy types.

This is where I fling my arms around him and smooch him soundly for not just laughing at my joke, not just making a joke of his own but finishing the joke with the same bizarro thoughts as me.

This is why we fit. It is also why our children don't have a snowball's chance in Mordor of being normal.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Baby

Dearest Milly,

Right now I'm watching you stand at your little play table and create a cacophony of noise. Some of it is that irritating table that has somehow survived your older siblings and is now singing at you whenever you whack the appropriate colored tabs. The other is a mix of laughter and a long WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE of discontent. You keep changing moods at the speed of light, Milly Bean. Can we discuss your bipolar nature? I hardly have time to get the camera up to get that cute picture before you're off again with the WOE IS ME and OMG I'M TIRED BUT I'M NOT TIRED PICK ME UP NOW PUT ME DOWN.

Now you're in my lap watching me type and grinding your teeth. You only have 5, darling. Is that the best idea? Also, can I have my arm back? Typing with one hand is difficult. Can I offer you a cold teether? You're the only one who likes icy cold teethers. The others always spit them out and gave me awful looks. You chew so hard I'm honestly afraid you're going to puncture them. Seriously, I've already googled "Is the stuff in teething rings poisonous?" Still, I would rather you work out those puppy teeth on hard frozen plastic than my hands. You've already drawn blood. TWICE.

Aaand you just spit up. Not on yourself, mind you, but on the couch. You have perfected the art of leaning over and yacking on me, the furniture or anything else. You rarely spit up on yourself. I keep bibs on you but it makes no difference. One can only hope that your marksmanship turns into a good quality. Maybe you'll work for the CIA one day.

As I watch you crawl all over the living room, I'm struck by how big you are. Wasn't I just whining about your feet in my ribs last week? Now you're 18 pounds of determination ready to follow your sister and brother wherever they go. You cruise, crawl and are ready to walk at any time. You have very little interest in staying still. There's too much to see and do. There are toys to fling, books to inspect and forgotten Cheerios to choke on.

I love you, Millicent. I love your spirit, your laugh and your chubby, cuddly little body. I love how you curl up with me for your last bottle of the day and then jam your thumb in your mouth with a sigh before fluttering your long lashes onto your full cheeks. I love your curiosity and will. Every time you tumble down to the floor, you shake your little head and climb right back up. When it's a little too hard then you cry for kisses.

Mama will always kiss your hurts, Baby Girl.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Crockpot Turkey

Eventually I will have a separate place on my blog for all of my cooking posts. For now, I'm going to start putting my recipes up whenever I feel the mood is right.

Tonight, the mood is right.

Turkey is problematic. It is usually eaten only once or twice a year and is fairly tasteless. It dries out quickly. What do you do with the leftovers? I'm here to tell you that turkey doesn't have to be a once a year grind with sandwiches for the next 2 weeks.

BEHOLD! My crockpot turkey breast recipe!

The Stuff:
4 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons black pepper
1/2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 8 pound frozen turkey breast

The Process:
Thaw your turkey in the fridge. This is going to take a while. Just ask my sister about the time she hosted Thanksgiving.

Go on. Then dodge the chair she throws at your head. She's a good shot.

Anyhoo, once you have a thawed carcass, stir all of your spices together in a small bowl. Hold this bowl far away from your nose or you will violently sneeze all over the kitchen. If this happens, try to miss the turkey. If you sneeze on the turkey, take a moment to rinse it off. Please. For the children. Smear some EVOO on your turkey and then generously rub AAAAAAALLLLL of those spices into the turkey breast.

Massage the turkey. Make sure to get all of the nooks and crannies. Don't feel weird. You're just rubbing a dead animal like a lover.

It's weird, isn't it? I really hate this part.

Get it over quick and plop that bad boy in the crockpot. Turn it on low and walk away for 8 to 10 hours. When you come back then you will have wonderful juicy meat falling from the bones. Serve with dressing, potatoes or whatever your heart desires. This got thumbs up from Ben and Gideon. Sophie is going through a vegetarian phase. Animal flesh holds no interest for her unless it comes from a pig.

Time to look up some ham recipes!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

An Addendum to the Last Post

Dear Aging Hippie in the Sprouts parking lot,

I forgot that I had left my radio volume on 60. I'm sorry that Kansas began screaming Carry On My Wayward Son loud enough to make you nearly drop your bag of organic fruit bark and tofu nuggets, poop onto your vegan TOMS and slam the door of your silver Prius.

I'm not sorry I giggled all the way home.

Songs That Soothe

When you are an adult who must act like an adult but is still afraid of generally everything then you need to find ways to soothe your addled soul and mind.

My way? Music.

Hillsong's Greatness of Our God says it perfectly.

"Give me eyes to see
More of who You are
May what I behold,
still my anxious heart."

"Give me grace to see
Beyond this moment here.
To believe that there
Is nothing left to fear."

"No sky contains,
No doubt restrains,
All You are,
The greatness of our God.
I spend my life to know,
And I'm far from close
To all You are,
The greatness of our God."

Thank you, Lord, for working through these amazing people.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Brain Buzz

My Back: "Ouch."

Me: "This sucks. I want to watch / surf in my bedroom but I have no computer and my iPhone screen is tiny."

Laptop: "Hai, I'm portable!"

My Brain: "I'm so frickin' tired."

My Kids in 30 Years: "Sorry for ruining your brain. And your thighs."

Geeky Dream

I fell asleep listening to the Harry Potter soundtrack a few days ago. Evidently my subconscious took this and ran wild.

Melissa, you're going to want to read this.

OK, so I was in 6th grade. I received a letter saying that I had been accepted into an elite 7-year boarding school and could choose my location. I found out that my best friend had also been chosen. Since we were Harry Potter geeks, we chose to go to the England location. The one that looks JUST like Hogwarts but it doesn't teach magic. It's in a giant castle, you take a train to get there and there are four "houses" but it's not Hogwarts. We were in the Blue House. This was obvious in our school uniforms and we stayed in one of the wings of the castle with the rest of the Blue House. We played field hockey. The schools are all made up of about 75% of the native country's population and about 25% foreigners. The American school is located in the Adirondacks and is a large Colonial plantation. All of the schools met once a year for a massive academic competition. There were schools in Russia, France, Spain, Egypt, Ireland and Brazil.

That was one AWESOME dream.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Just A Peek

It's days like today that make me wish for my old coping mechanisms.

I feel like holing in a booth or a chair with unlimited cups of diesel fuel coffee and chain-smoking while I journal. I want a big soft hoodie to shield me from the outside. I want to plug my ears with my iPod and journal through the music.

I still use music. It's hard to connect with my feelings. I don't like to face them. I would rather bury everything and just clean my sink or sort laundry. Instead, I sit down with an empty page, a pen and a few playlists. Rage Against the Machine pounds in my ears while I mark up my journal in big block letters. I let the anger flow out of my body and onto paper where I can deal with everything without it being so jumbled. I turn the music to Alison Krauss and let the tears smudge the page while I allow myself to be sad and write about why I'm sad.

The coffee keeps me alert and focused. The cigarettes make me calm and take away the facial twitch that seems to get worse whenever the anxiety gets in the red.

I can't do this anymore. I can still journal. I can still listen to music. I have to limit my caffeine so that I can get enough sleep to get up in the morning and take care of the kids. Smoking is right out. Can't pick that habit back up.

I'm a suburban mom of three. I have to act like one. Take my medicine, say my prayers, stop complaining and just do what has to be done.

Still, every once and a while, my finger itch.

Mama Means Business

Mama Means Business

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mama Wears Combat Boots

Mama Wears Combat Boots

The Mama Uniform

The Mom Uniform

Mama's Night Out

Mom's Night Out

Mama's Capri Uniform

Mom's Capri Uniform

Death to Naptime

I'm not sure what's happening in our house.

Sophie is 3 and a half. She has started to give up napping. I'm cool with this decision or "down wit it" as the younglings say. The only problem with her wanting to give up her afternoon nap is that by 5:00, demons start pouring out of her mouth and ears. Big purple demons with pitchforks, torches, butcher knives and clipboards asking if you have a minute for a small survey. They make her rampage through the house knocking down her brother and looking for small animals to stomp.

So I've started doing the Mom Thing of "You don't have to sleep. Just lay down and rest for a while." This isn't going over well, either. She takes this time to pin Pink Baby and Ernie to the wall by the crib rail and then strip her fitted sheet off the bed and wear it like a cape.

Next is my two year old, Gideon. The Boy still needs a nap and he will still take a nap.


First he has to do the I'm-Not-Tired dance for about 4 hours. Then he has to stare into space like a zombie for another 30 minutes. He has to refuse all food you give him and then try to eat the dried up macaroni that the vacuum missed on the floor under the ottoman. He has to stop playing with all 10 gazillion of his toys and only want your skillets and something from the recycling bin. Then he has to crawl all over you like you are Kilimanjaro. (YOU ARE THERE.) Once you get him into the bed, he has to take off the fitted sheet (what is with this?!) and try to crawl under his mattress.

Then he will finally pass out cold 20 minutes before you need to leave to go somewhere.

Milly takes about 3 naps a day. Well, according to the schedule, she takes 3 naps a day. In truth, she screams like she's being skinned alive until I feed her a bottle and then will army crawl over the entire living room looking for razor blades to swallow. She will slither up behind her brother and grab his ankle causing him to leap 40 feet into the air and clutch the ceiling fan. Then, when she is yawning, she gently lays down and everything is wonderful.

For about 40 minutes.

My mother has asked me before why I put my kids to bed at 7:00. ("It's so early!)

Mama's tired, yo.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Pros and Cons of a 6 Month Old

Pro: She only drinks formula. I never have to fret and decide about what she's going to eat or not eat.
Con: She spits up 19 gazillion times after each bottle. Almost always all over me. ON PURPOSE. (Seriously, she turns away from the burp cloth or rips off the bib and aims for my pants.)

Pro: She nurses to sleep delicately against me. There is nothing like a contented, sleeping baby cuddled on my chest.

Con: She only naps in 20 minute stretches and then acts like a cranky tiger after playing for another 20 minutes. Ferber himself would walk out saying "Dude, I have no idea."

Pro: She is my first child with hair! Beautiful, wonderful hair since birth!
Con: Cradle cap. Ew.

Pro: She makes funny faces.

Con: She's probably about to yack on the carpet. Seriously, this kid has no constitution.

Pro: She's my most contented and easy going baby. So far her sister has peed on her face and her brother has stepped on her face in shoes and she was fine minutes after each incident. Nothing really makes her mad.

Con: Except teeth. (Which you can barely see in the picture.) They are coming in one at a time and slower than molasses.

I think I'll keep her. And possibly buy stock in Resolve and Shout.

Monday, August 1, 2011


This morning I cheered on a three year old as she removed her gown and put on pants. I also explained how cream would make her red butt feel better so that she would allow me to put it on her because everything must be explained now.

Then I wrestled my very angry, very poopy 2 year old little boy until he was clean. He wanted to grab handfuls of poo to fling at me because I was stifling his creativity or something.

Lastly, after feeding my 6 month old daughter, she leaned back and sighed. Then she gave a tiny cough and explosively spit up all over me. And then leaned back and sighed again.

My life is magical.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Quick Note

Darling Children,

Mommy has not had her anti-anxiety medication for a whole week now. Mommy is getting dangerously close to insanity.


Mommy loves you.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Drinks All Around

Me: Ooh! I thought of a new kahlua drink!

Ben: Oh?

Me: Don't call me a lush.

Ben: I didn't...out loud.

Me: It's from being raised so strictly southern baptist.

Ben: Well, I'm glad you're making up for it now.

Me: I barely have time to make up for it now. You keep getting me pregnant.

Ben: Do you hear how awful that sounds?

Me: Ugh.

Ben: Fine. I'm sorry I keep knocking you up and getting in the way of your make-up drinking.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coming Out

For some time now, something has been weighing on my heart. I have alluded to mental problems here on my blog. I've told some people a little bit of my history. I don't hide the fact that I'm on medication for depression and anxiety.

However, God is bringing different stories to my attention. He's showing me what happens when people don't speak up when something is wrong. He's showing me that there is still a stigma and a shame attached to depression, anxiety, OCD, agoraphobia and other mental illnesses. I feel like He's asking me to stand up and tell my story a little more clearly.

I became a Christian when I was 10. Like most first-born children, I am a people pleaser and that translated over to my relationship with God. I tried to be perfect for Him. I tried my hardest not to sin, to do my best at school and to always make life easy for my parents. I failed miserably but I kept trying. When I was 20, I married my first husband. Now that I was out of the house and only responsible to my husband and myself, I began to get lax. I started gaining weight and started smoking off and on. I stopped going to church. I quit reading the Bible and eventually stopped talking to God unless it was an emergency.

2 years after getting married, I got pregnant and then lost the baby after 4 days. I spiraled down into a deep, dark pit of depression. I became obsessed with making my body work. I couldn't get pregnant again so we stopped trying. In a haze, I just went back and forth to work. I ate dinner and watched TV. I tried to sleep but almost always had to take pills to get myself to sleep. Once I was asleep, I could sleep for days. I never wanted to shower. I never wanted to go out. I never wanted to interact with anyone. I just stopped. My world became as large as my bedroom. My husband just left me alone so that I could deal with it. He didn't want to bother me.

1 year to the day after the miscarriage, I found out that my husband was in love with another woman. I never heard my husband say that he loved me again. He became secretive. He never mentioned wanting a divorce but he refused to tell me what was really going on with this woman. To this day, I have no idea if it was an emotional affair or if he was sleeping with her. We both went to counseling, individual and marriage. He didn't like our marriage counselor because the doctor was making it out to be all his fault.

In March 2005, I snapped. I drove to my mother's house and began ranting and raving. She recognized that I was gone and took me to the ER. I was admitted into an outpatient program the next day. I've read the journal posts from those first days in the institution and I'm amazed at how...sick I sound. The second journal post is all about my husband who was in a bad mood when I came home from my therapy. It turns out that he was hurt that no one had been paying attention to him during this "hard time".

After 3 days of outpatient therapy, I knew that if I went home then I would be dead the next day. I gave a note to one of the doctors and they would not let me leave. I stayed inpatient for a week until my medicine leveled out and I felt safe going home. The first thing my husband asked when I called him to tell him about staying was whether or not I was going to lose my job and had I called the insurance company. Again, I look at those journal posts and I'm flabbergasted that I lived like this for so long.

While in therapy, I hit rock bottom. I had a husband who was in love with another woman but wasn't willing to let me know what he thought of me. He would rather keep me dangling as some bizarre roommate. I was unable to get pregnant. I had no friends. I hated my job. I was terrified to step outside most days. I was lying on the floor of a co-ed mental institution on a mattress next to a nurse because I was on "Suicide Watch". I wasn't allowed to have shoelaces or caffeine. I wanted my dogs and my Mama.

God found me. I remembered one verse. "Be still and know that I am God."

I began to pray. Actually, I didn't even pray, I just talked to God like an old friend. Slowly, life flooded back into my heart and I realized how cold it had been for years. Every day I talked to God. Every day I felt myself thaw a little more. Every day I cried and those tears cleared my eyes. I needed God more than anything else.

I still took my medicine and I still take it now. I thank God for my medicine and no matter how good I feel I will not stop taking it. That medicine is a gift from Him to allow me to function in this world. I am grateful to have it.

I still think about my first husband. I hope that he has turned to God, too. I hope that he has joy in his life. I pray for him daily. He was more than a good friend. We spent 10 years together, dating and married. I truly hope he has peace and love in his life.

I know I do.

Monday, June 27, 2011

5 Silly Reasons Why I Love My Husband

We got silly one day and I suggested this challenge. It was fun to do and now I want to share it with others. These are five "silly" reasons why I love Ben Dyer. Silly does not mean stupid. It just means not totally lovey-dovey-serious-wedding-vow type of reason.

1. I love seeing Ben the day he trims his beard. He looks so much like the boy I knew in middle school. It makes me want to run and grab that San Antonio Spurs cap and put it backwards on his head. Then we can go make out behind an elementary school.

2. I love watching Ben with the kids. He has this dance that he does called the Daddy Dance that the kids love and beg for every day when he comes home. He sits and plays cars with Gideon. He doesn't just give cars to Gideon, he actually PLAYS CARS like another kid. He knows the right way to ease a baby into being tossed into the air and taught me the Daddy Tricks of the Trade. I still can't do it right and he's the only one who can make Milly grin like a maniac.

3. He is BRILLIANT. We can spend a wonderful afternoon with an Atlas open between us and him explaining how the world has changed over the years. (Yes, we're dorks.) It's started the most amazing conversations where I no longer feel like just a cook/maid/wiper of butts. We are just two adults talking about the ramifications of the War of the Roses.

4. One day we will settle once and for all just who knows more about the Simpsons. For now, he is teaching me more about Futurama and enjoying every minute of it. I love that we don't even have to quote Simpsons or Futurama anymore. We just give each other That Look and giggle because we know what the other one is thinking.

5. He is the funniest person on the planet. From witty remarks to stupid muffin jokes, the man just makes me laugh every single day. Seriously, make him tell you the muffin joke.

I love you, Ben.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Potty Training Tears

Potty Training Boot Camp Day Two was a lot like Day One. There were a gazillion tries on the potty with no results. There was a giant diaper after her nap. There was a 45 minute tantrum on the potty when I refused to put a diaper on her and she just could not hold it any longer. There was an accident all across the floor when she was exhausted and angry and just done with the day. (On Day One, she had the same kind of accident but walked over her sister who was on a blanket on the floor. Poor Milly got caught in the crossfire.)

Today began Day Three. She started doing the Potty Dance around 10:00 and I took her into the bathroom. The tears, screams and tantrum started almost instantly. She sat on the potty and started holding it as much as she could. I held her hands and firmly told her that she had to go.

She cried.

I didn't budge.

She screamed.

I didn't budge.

She cried, screamed, tore at her hair, tried to lunge off of the potty and generally became hysterical.

I didn't budge.

She peed in the potty and then threw up all over me.

I cleaned us up and declared Potty Training over.

Sophie is aware of how to use the potty. Sophie will decide when she is ready to use the potty. Not me, not her father, not her Grandma, not anyone on this Earth will be able to force her to go before she is ready to make that choice. She will wear training diapers and I will take her to the potty every morning, night and at least every 2 hours. If something happens, great. If nothing happens, no big deal. If it keeps her out of certain classes then we'll find something else for her to do.

If people think that this is my fault, FINE.
If people think that my child is retarded or autistic, FINE.

I've already beaten myself to Hell and back over this. I know Sophie better than anyone else on this planet. I know that God has Sophie curled into His palm. She is healthy and wonderful. Sophie will be fine.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Potty Training Boot Camp Day #1

6,435,675,546 empty tries in the potty all ending with a gleeful "Bye-bye potty!"

1 shiney heinie dancing around all day.

1 fake nap in a diaper ending with a VERY wet diaper.

A 30 minute tantrum at 5:00 begging Mama to put a diaper on her so she can tee-tee.  Mama refuses.

2 successful tee-tees in the potty.  Only the first is through tears and requires snuggling with Mama afterwards.

Monday, May 23, 2011

100 Random Things

OK, Sarah did it. Christina did it. I'm nothing if not a follower.

1. Cheese is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
2. I love to eat and to cook. I'm rather good at both.
3. I have three children. I lost a child 7 years ago. I still wonder about that child.
4. I feel called by God to work with junior high kids. My husband thinks I'm insane.
5. Giordano's in Chicago makes the best pizza in the world. So much so that I cannot eat any other pizza and be satisfied.
6. I don't feel 32.
7. Before the year is out, I will have pink streaks in my hair.
8. I love to read and completely lose myself in books. You have to put your hand on my shoulder or between my eyes and the book to take me out of my trance. Be warned; I'm going to jump a mile.
9. I want a pug named Winston and a Basset Hound named Murphy. Winston is going to be the crazy British royalty and Murphy is going to be the tired P.I. Winston will wear a tutu and Murphy will wear a trench coat.
10. I tried to nurse and then pump for each of my children. Each of them rejected my breastmilk in favor of soy, sensitive and rice-starch thickened formula respectively. I'm trying not to be offended.
11. I routinely call my kids Butt Monkeys. The oldest has repeated it at least twice.
12. Each child has their own lullabye. They love it when I sing to them and have since they were born.
13. Ben and I were boyfriend-girlfriend in middle school. Then we didn't see each other for 14 years. Then we decided to get married after talking online for 2 weeks.
14. I've lived in Texas almost all of my life except for a brief stint in Oklahoma and 3 years in Germany. (Army brat.)
15. My sister, brother and I have psychotically Irish names. (I'm Kelly Shannon.) My sister is the only one with green eyes.
16. During my first marriage, I had a doctor tell me that I would probably not conceive on my own. It took me 9 months to get pregnant and then I lost the baby. Another 9 months went by with no pregnancy.
17. During my marriage with Ben, he's always knocked me up within a month.
18. I hate pregnancy. I've had 2 preemies, a massive bout of Post Partum Depression after Gideon and it took 25 weeks of progesterone shots/2 weeks of terbutaline pills/3 false alarms just to get Milly to 37 weeks.
19. It's still totally worth it and I'm considering a fourth.
20. I have a horrific temper that I struggle against daily.
21. When snacking, I go for savory / salty rather than sweet. Unless I'm pregnant and then all Snickers within 200 miles are in danger.
22. I will eat chili and cheese on almost anything. Also, BBQ sauce.
23. I just finished watching Red. Holy Carp on Monkey Britches, that is one AWESOME MOVIE.
24. My favorite movie of all time is still Steel Magnolias.
25. I don't like girly things. I'll usually pick the action movie over the romantic comedy, the fantasy novel about dragons over the latest Danielle Steele and I don't wear makeup.
26. I love shoes. Like, obsession levels.
27. I could live out the rest of my life in a pair of comfortable jeans, a black tee and a pair of Converse low tops.
28. I can follow recipes but I usually don't. I'll tweak, substitute and eyeball instead of measure.
29. My husband has a really long ponytail. When he wears his hair down I swoon.
30. My favorite soda is Mr Pibb but I'll usually drink sweet tea or Dr Pepper in restaurants. No one EVER has Pibb.
31. I'm picky about ratios in food. As in a burger has to have a certain ratio of meat to bun to condiment to topping ratio. Otherwise, it's ruined. Same goes for sandwiches and salads.
32. I'm slightly OCD. I like everything to be on even numbers. Odd numbers drive me bonkers.
33. I've struggled with depression and anxiety for years. I've been on medication for years. I'm just now starting to let go of the guilt for needing this medication.
34. It scares me to death to think of my children having to deal with depression or anxiety.
35. I am a control freak. It's hard to admit that.
36. I call myself Cranky Toddler online because that is how I act with God. I have to remind myself often to act my spiritual age.
37. I accepted Christ into my heart personally at age 10.
38. Around age 21 I turned my back on God and told Him I could go it alone. Those were some dark years.
39. I finally turned back to God on the floor of a mental institution while on suicide watch.
40. During Sunday School I once won an award for memorizing so many Bible verses.
41. On the floor of the mental institution I could only remember one. "Be still and know that I am God."
42. That verse is now my Life Verse.
43. I am not ashamed of my mistakes or my past. I want others to see that they don't have to go through the Dark alone.
44. It still gets Dark sometimes. God is still there.
45. I don't play video games. I'm not coordinated enough and I get too annoyed.
46. I love board games, word games and card games.
47. I cannot WAIT to read "real" books to my kids. Little House, Harry Potter, Narnia, there are so many worlds I can't wait to introduce!
48. The smell of vinegar makes me gag.
49. I love pickles and can finish a jar in one sitting.
50. I want to be crafty. I'm just so impatient!
51. After my children are in school, I want to go back to school.
52. I have no idea what I'm going to do. Nursing? Teaching? Accounting?
53. I miss being in a choir.
54. My oldest daughter has a speech delay. I blame myself.
55. I blame myself for a lot of things.
56. After a very long time, I have a group of girls that I call my friends. I consider myself very blessed to have them in my life.
57. I love Brazilian Steakhouses.
58. I would go get a massage every week if I could justify the time and money.
59. I hate spending money on myself.
60. I'm ready to buy a house with my husband so I can start fiddling with everything.
61. I have a lot of plans for Our House.
62. Some of them are crafty plans. This could get interesting.
63. Someday there is going to be a cooking section on this blog with recipes and pictures.
64. I might have to trade some favors with my husband to make that happen.
65. I'm talking about enchiladas. Get your mind out of the gutter.
66. A lot of people keep telling me that I'm funny. Honestly, I don't see it.
67. My sister has always been the pretty one in the family. She's also funny, smart and daring. It's interesting to try to "live up to" your little sister.
68. My brother is insanely creative and sensitive. He just looks like a tough guy. I adore him.
67. God listens to my mother and my grandmother's prayers. They are amazing women.
68. I have the greatest mother-in-law in the entire universe. I'm not saying that to suck up. IT'S TRUE.
69. I want dozens of cute aprons and lots of vintage Pyrex in my kitchen.
70. When we buy Our House, I will make a garden in back. It's going to be colorful and interesting.
71. There will be at least 2 gnomes and a flamingo.
72. My favorite colors are green and yellow.
73. I love holidays, birthdays and just about any other kind of celebration. I want to entertain!
74. I love to cook for others.
75. I would love to cook as a ministry. I just don't know how or where.
76. I would love to start a ministry for NICU parents.
77. House chores are actually not that bad. It's just harder to do them with a preschooler and a toddler around my ankles.
78. Eventually I'll get around to making my own cleaning products.
79. I've made my own baby food for all of my kids.
80. I'm still trying to make the switch to cloth diapering.
81. I'm not a crunchy-granola-hippie Mom. I'm just cheap.
82. I hate driving. I wish I could hire a driver to do it for me.
83. I love grocery shopping.
84. Ben has me switched over to all Apple products. I honestly don't know if I could switch back to a PC.
85. I'm still trying to find a hairstyle that's easy to fix that also looks good on me without being too Mom-ish. Anyone have a stylist to suggest?
86. I will keep telling people I'm 25 until they stop believing it.
87. I grew up never watching sports. I married a sports nut. I now pay a little attention to the Rangers, NASCAR and the Cowboys.
88. If you ask, I'll tell you what worked for my kids but I'll probably tell you to trust your instincts first.
89. I'm still afraid of the dark.
90. I buy birthday cards and almost always forget to mail them.
91. I can't wait to travel with my family.
92. Especially a tour of Israel with my father-in-law. The man is brilliant.
93. I love Star Trek but I don't like the original series. The new movies are awesome. Next Generation are my favorite.
94. I'm addicted to sci-fi shows. Eureka, Warehouse 13, Firefly, Stargate SG-1...I love them all! I can't wait for Alphas!
95. I want to take a train trip with Ben.
96. I shared a room with my sister for years. I have every intention of making my daughters share a room.
97. I love a bed with a gazillion pillows, a featherbed topper and curtains. I want a haven. I want a sanctuary.
98. I want a master bathroom all to myself that I can turn into a home spa. No husband and kids allowed.
99. I love bath products. Sugar scrubs, bubble baths, aromatherapy candles, it's all so wonderful!
100. This was a lot harder than I thought it would be.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I really should be in bed.

I'm still sick. I'm on better meds now but I'm still recovering. All of the doctors tell you to push fluids and get as much rest as possible. That would be easy if I didn't have three young children.

Tomorrow I have to get up early, pack three different bags, take Ben to work, take Sophie to school, take Milly to my sister's and then try to get Gideon into the pediatrician.

Instead of going to sleep, I'm up thinking angry thoughts. Tired, weepy, frustrated, overwhelmed thoughts.

I will never be able to live up to everyone's expectations. I'm always going to disappoint someone. I have to be OK with that. I have to know that there is only One that will ever love me no matter what. I can never be too stupid, too needy, too wrong for God.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Please, God, let me believe this.

Monday, May 9, 2011


It began with a sniffle.

I think it was Gideon. He had a runny nose two weeks ago. He was also drooling and had random low grade fevers. I brushed it off as teething and dosed him with ibuprofen whenever he needed it. Then he started coughing and Sophie started sniffing. Gideon got through it first and Sophie followed quickly. They are both back to normal. Milly and I got sick around the same time last week. I took her to the pediatrician last Wednesday and found out that she had her first ear infection. I went to the clinic and came out with a sinus infection diagnosis. Ben and I juggled wildly as we pushed fluids, made our kids sleep and generally tried to make them well. Milly is finishing her antibiotic and still has a shade of a cough but is feeling much better.

Then there's Mom.

This weekend was bad. On Saturday night, I spiked a fever and began coughing. HARD. It's that deep, nasty chest cough that makes people back away from you in public. Mother's Day was supposed to be spent at church with a Parent/Child Dedication where we would dedicate Milly alongside our friends. Instead, I stayed in bed until 1:00. I'm killing tree after tree with my tissue usage. Green tea with honey is AMAZING.

As evidenced by the births of my children, nothing leaves my body without a production. This cold/sinus infection/Martian Death Plague is no different. There will be a full orchestra. There will be Chinese acrobats. There will be daredevil bike riders jumping over flaming pools of sharks and monkeys with kazoos playing "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" while a Spandex-clad choir sings along in Russian while making jazz hands.

I think my medicine is kicking in.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chicken Horror

I just put my very first whole chicken in the oven. I've been cooking for years but I've never made a whole chicken. This was a VERY different experience for me.

It started with this recipe. I've used it on chicken breasts and it's wonderful. Then Albertsons put their whole chickens on sale for 49 cents a pound. Frugal Kelly couldn't resist and bought three. (The limit they would sell.) Today, after the kids went down for their naps, I began the battle.

I started by mixing the spices with butter to create a rub. Then I sliced an onion to make an edible rack for my roasting pan. So far, so good.

Then, I faced the chicken.

Carefully, I opened the package and watched horrified as what seemed like 16 legs squirted out. Gingerly, I picked up the chicken and began to try to wash it inside and out. (As my mother had instructed me.) It was like trying to wash a soaped up, shaved howler monkey. I could not keep my hands on that thing! Then I peered into the depths of the...honestly, I don't know what end of the chicken I was looking into and I'm happier that way. Somehow I had to reach into that thing and dig out all of the innards. I took a deep breath, recited Philippians 4:13 and plunged my hand into the bird. I felt like a magician as I pulled out hearts, kidneys, livers, lungs, pancreases SERIOUSLY LIKE 100 ORGANS. I think I got a prank bird. I think someone at Pilgrims Pride stuffed it full of 127 other chicken organs just to giggle.

Finally, I got the durn thing clean and dry. I plopped it onto the onion rack and poured on some butter / spice mix. Then I started to rub it into the chicken. All the while I'm trying not to think about what I'm doing. After all, I'm just putting butter and spices on a chicken for dinner.

I'm just rubbing the spices into the skin so it can pick up some flavor.


It's all over now. The chicken is in the oven. I've washed my hands a hundred times. I'm really looking forward to dinner.


Last Wednesday Gideon and I spent the night as guests of Children's Legacy. He had an ear infection, a high fever and was struggling to breathe. I was worried about it settling in his lungs and having another pneumonia stay like last year. He had a chest x-ray, an IV steroid and a few breathing treatments. They kept him overnight for observation and the next morning everyone was satisfied that the danger had passed. Gideon went through a lot that day including a Torquemada-like device to keep him in place for the x-ray, an IV with a splint to prevent him from moving his arm and getting cathed for a urine sample that made him terrified to potty for the rest of the night. I held that kid on my chest most of the night. It reminded me of nights in the NICU. Of course, now he weighed 25 pounds instead of 6.

On Friday, we realized that I was sick too. Ben stayed home and helped get Sophie to the pediatrician and me to the clinic. Sophie has a blocked ear tube and I have a sinus infection so ear drops for her and an antibiotic for me. The whole weekend has been a blur of wiping noses, naps and sitting on children's chests to force them to take their medicine.

On Saturday, Sophie had an EPIC tantrum that lasted an hour. She fought me like the devil and then passed out in my arms. She was just tired, sick and angry. She had to take it out on someone and I offered myself. Once she was done fighting and had fallen asleep, I eased myself away from her to let her sleep. She whimpered and grabbed back at me. I put my arms around her and let her sleep in my embrace for a while. It's OK to need your Mama. Lord knows, I needed to love on my baby.

Today it's raining. We're all getting better but we're still coughing. Tempers are still a little tender. The weather and sinus infection makes my head hurt so I've taken my heavy duty medicine. Mama's a little bit zombified.

Every once and a while I put my head back and daydream about a quiet beach. A big comfy chair with an umbrella, my husband beside me, a good book and a cold drink. My bare toes buried in the warm sand.

I really like that dream.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monkey Antics

Milly rolled from her belly to her back twice yesterday. She's sleeping pretty consistently through the night. She goes to bed sometime between 9:00 and 10:00 and will usually sleep until 7:00 AM. We just switched her to a thickened formula that is supposed to prevent spitting up and it has the added bonus of making her feel fuller longer. She is such a HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY baby and is always smiling. I no longer call her Murray and now call her Buddy the Elf. ("Smiling's my favorite!) She was just under 12 pounds when we went to the doctor earlier this month and is 23 inches long. She is such a chunky little thing and loves to be cuddled. She also loves to talk, talk, talk, talk, TALK, TALK, TALK, OMG WHERE IS THE OFF SWITCH ON THIS KID?! She is a delight to be around when she's not demanding to be held until she falls asleep at 2 AM. I could really do with less of that behavior.

Gideon is getting molars and they are coming in S-L-O-W-L-Y. Poor buddy just keeps drooling and gnawing on everything. It looks like we live with beavers. All of the corners on the TV cabinet are chewed and every edge on the end tables are nibbled. All of the wooden blocks look like we've run them through a dull wood chipper. He runs random fevers and cries when he hurts. He pulls at his ears and cheeks. Those big brown eyes fill with tears and look at me as if to say "Fix it, Mama!" I wish I had a way to make it all go away. All I can do is offer cold drinks, soft food and ibuprofen when it gets really bad. Then I just cuddle him to me and sing his favorite lullabye. He's also become addicted to his Daddy. I think he looked around and realized just how many girls are in this house and is now clinging to the other testosterone-riddled body that actually knows the right way to play with cars.

Sophie is flourishing at Mother's Day Out. (In my opinion.) She's getting into a routine and knows her teachers. She doesn't cry until she gets up to the door of her classroom. Instead, she gets a determined look on her little face and marches right into that church. She ignores all greetings and goes straight to her classroom and lifts her arms to her teacher. The tears bubble up a bit until the teacher reminds her that she can go color. Then she calms down and goes over to the craft table. (After a kiss goodbye to Mama.) She's still very quiet in MDO and at Sunday School. She doesn't speak around those she doesn't know. However, she's been chatty at home. She's learned her colors and likes to identify everything around her. She still throws some pretty epic tantrums but I'm trying to be patient and get to the core of what's really wrong. It's hard because she still doesn't communicate well. It's frustrating for both of us but she's more than worth it.

So that's the latest with the Dyer Monkeys. Hopefully I can figure out how to do a picture post next.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mother's Day Out

Two weeks ago, Sophie and Gideon started Mother's Day Out. They go every Wednesday and Friday from 9 to 2.


I now have days where I can make phone calls without Gideon trying to grab it from me and chatter away to the plumber. I can go to the doctor without Sophie picking up every single tongue depressor in the office while I'm getting my ears checked. I can go to the grocery store without filing the cart with kids and having only 1/4 of an inch left for actual food. I go HOURS without listening to Sesame Street songs and tantrums.

The kids are doing well, too. They really need the socialization and the time away from each other. Poor Gideon is usually at the mercy of his somewhat demanding older sister at home. If she's thirsty, she brings me both sippy cups and asks for milk or juice. Then she brings one to him, shoves it in his hands and stares at him until he drinks. At school he gets to do things his way. If he wants to play with trucks, then he plays with trucks. His teachers adore him and swoop him up every morning as soon as he gets there. He cries a little each morning but fine after a few minutes. He's loving it.

Meanwhile, Sophie is learning that she is OK if Mama is not there during the day. It's actually the first time I've seen her frightened. She's usually such a strong and determined little thing. When we pull into the parking lot, Sophie's eyes fill with tears but she doesn't make a sound. She walks beside me and goes right to her classroom. The crying gets worse as we get closer. She always turns around and lets me hug and kiss her. Still, while I know she trusts me and she knows that I'll come back, I can see that she's scared. It's very much like what I used to do when I was a kid. It's probably going to be a problem every year she goes to school. My Mama was able to teach me how to overcome my fears and I know that I can help Sophie. Her teachers describe her as "emotional". She doesn't cry all day but she's still struggling. It's going to take some time. It's a little odd to look at her and see a tiny mirror of myself.

Milly and I are having fun together. I get to spend quality time with my newborn. I was really missing that. I got that with Sophie because she was my first. When Gideon was born, Ben was at home and was able to help me get that newborn time. Now I'm able to get that with Milly.

I'm so grateful for each of my kids. Even if they do drive me nuts every now and then.