Monday, May 28, 2012

Taco Soup

Tonight I made taco soup. That sounds simple but I actually had to make quite a few tweaks and adaptations to make it acceptable to my family. I started with Paula Deen's recipe and began fiddling. I ended up with two soups.

Beef Taco Soup

The Stuff:
1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1 15 oz can mexican stewed tomatoes
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with sweet onions
1 10 oz can rotel
1 15 oz can ranch style beans
1 15 oz can corn kernels, drained
1 package of taco seasoning
1 package of ranch salad dressing mix

The Process:
Dump everything into a big stockpot and simmer for about an hour. Put crushed tortilla chips and shredded fiesta cheese in a bowl and ladle your soup over. I topped mine with guacamole.

Chicken Taco Soup

The Stuff:
1 lb chicken breast, roasted and shredded

1 15 oz can mexican stewed tomatoes
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with sweet onions
1 10 oz can rotel
1 15 oz can ranch style beans
1 package of taco seasoning
1 package of ranch salad dressing mix

The Process:
Dump everything into a big stockpot and simmer for about an hour. Put crushed tortilla chips and shredded fiesta cheese in a bowl and ladle your soup over. Basically, I just switched the beef for chicken and eliminated the corn. Ben put sour cream on top because he doesn't like corn or guacamole and he's weird.

Sophie ate half a bowl. Milly ate two bowls and I had trouble snapping her pajamas. Gideon ate chips because he's annoying.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Babies

We're all still in our pajamas at 12:30 in the afternoon.

There has been so much snuggling, kisses, zerbets and tickling. Or, as Sophie calls it, "chickles".

Milly's curls look like they're made out of cotton candy and they still smell like her lavender baby wash. She smiles around her little thumb in her mouth while she tucks her head under my chin and her body under my arm. She coughs and wails in a scratchy voice because she has her first case of strep throat. Then she burrows onto my shoulder because it's the only place where she feels comforted.

Gideon's giant brown eyes twinkle as he imitates the genie's magic-wish-granting dance on Imagination Movers. He's talking so much more. Yesterday he drank an apple juice box with my help. He knew he that if he squeezed the box then it would go everywhere so I held it. His big eyes crossed as he concentrated on the straw and his grubby little fingers clutched my hand.

Sophie is so used to the potty that she doesn't make a fuss at all. She turns on the overhead fan and takes toys to her siblings. She wants to help with everything so badly and she's very capable. She loves having a task to do. Her favorite is the laundry. She loves filling the washer all by herself.

We're all a little weak from the sickness that has plagued us for weeks. Milly is still the worst. We still take antibiotics every morning and night and there is still coughing. Milly gets a little pain medicine before she lays down to take a nap with her Reveille Pillow Pet. I watch Gideon warily to make sure that the coughing doesn't turn into wheezing. Sophie's eyebrow is almost totally healed and I don't think she'll scar.

Being a mother is so much work. It's a job that lasts 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. There is no sick time or vacation time. There are nights that I fall into bed exhausted at the thought of 3 very energetic kids starting early the next morning. There are times where I long for a day with no one touching me.

I really cannot wait for the day where I never change another poopy diaper.

Today, I feel blessed. I have three incredible children that fill my heart to bursting. I want to remember these moments when they are taller than me, far away from me and I'm not in charge of kissing their hurts.

Today, I will zerbet because I can. I will delight in baby girl curls, little boy gibberish and little girl help. I will let kiddo laughter fill my heart.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Blessings in Trials

Last Friday, the two oldest kids were diagnosed with strep.

On Monday, the baby started running a fever.

On Tuesday, Sophie fell while climbing the chair and hit her head on the doorknob. After 3 hours in the ER, she came home with her eyebrow glued back together.

On Wednesday, Gideon started coughing so hard he was choking. We went to the pediatrician who said that seasonal allergies were making his asthma worse. He's now taking a low dose of steroids and 2 inhalers 4 times a day.

The house is a wreck. I have a deep chest cough that's connected to seasonal allergies and my sinus infection leaving my body. I was up with Gideon at 4 AM last night while he and I coughed.

We're still blessed.

Right now, my children are in bed. They are all napping soundly. Modern appliances are cleaning my clothes and my dishes. I have bags of chicken marinating in the fridge and freezer ready to be turned into easy meals over the next few weeks. I have the Internet to connect me to friends I rarely get to see and some that I have never met. I have a bazillion TV channels, a DVR, Netflix, library books and my Kindle to entertain me.

Thank you, Lord, for blessing me beyond measure. Thank you for reminding me of these blessings even when things look dark.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

In Sickness and in Health...

On Thursday, Sophie and Gideon both started running fevers. Sophie ran faster and got up to 103. Gideon sounded like he was going to cough up a lung. We drugged them and got them to sleep. My beloved mother came over on Friday when I woke up with a fever and sore throat, too. After two doctor appointments, the verdicts were in:

Sophie - Strep throat
Gideon - Strep throat, double ear infection
Mama - Sinus infection, seasonal allergies

Since Milly was not showing any signs of being sick, my mother whisked her away to Camp Grandparents where she would be plied with toys, food, individual cuddles and anything else her little heart desired. My parents are pretty much softies when it comes to their grandchildren. That child is going to come back as rotten as a black banana. BUT! She probably won't get sick.

Ben came home with all of our medicines and we started the rounds of sitting on chests and prying their mouths open to pour strawberry flavored caulk down their throats. I really should put sympathy cards in our neighbors' mailboxes after Gideon's fit that caused half of the shingles to come loose and fly through the windows.

I'm assuming that this strep came from them going back to Mother's Day Out. Anytime kids get social they always share something more than their toys.

It also made me giggle because I remembered my funniest strep story. I had strep all of the time when I was younger until my tonsils were voted out of the tribe when I was 19. When I was a senior in high school, I got strep at the beginning of the year. I started feeling sick at a school kick-off thing held in the cafeteria one evening. I was with the band sitting on the floor when I started feeling hot and dizzy. I suddenly didn't care what was on that disgusting floor and only cared that the tile was cool against my cheek. Things weren't getting better when it was time to go home. I drove my boyfriend, who said he was also feeling funny, in my mom's Chevy Lumina minivan. (I was just that cool.) I got home and mom took me to urgent care. They told us that my wimpy tonsils had once again given up against the strep bug. When I got home, I remembered that my boyfriend had been feeling gross too.


First I had to tell my mother that my boyfriend was sick with probably the same thing which meant basically telling her that I had been swapping spit with a boy. Then I had to call and tell him that I had strep and that's probably why his throat was closing up. Of course, his throat hurt so I talked to his mother instead. How do you call your boyfriend's mother and tell her that you know why her son is feeling sick because you're the diseased harlot that infected him? I tried to soften the blow by offering to bring ice cream. We were teased for WEEKS because we were both out sick at the same time with a disease that you can get from KISSING, OMG THEY WERE KISSING! Even the band directors gave us a hard time.

So now I look at my strep-diseased Sophie and wonder...just how close is that boy in her MDO class?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Orzo with Broccoli

I'm exhausted so I'm just going to post the recipe. Ben and I have had a long day of kids and sickness so I wanted to throw something quick together for dinner. I didn't want anything too heavy. Then I remembered that bag of orzo that I bought and hadn't yet used. I've never cooked orzo before so I looked at a few different recipes for ideas and then I just followed what I thought sounded good. This is what I came up with.

The Stuff

3/4 cup uncooked orzo
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups broccoli (I used half of a frozen bag.)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 TBSP lemon pepper seasoning
1 TBSP dried dill weed
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

The Process

Bring your chicken broth to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for about 7 minutes while stirring regularly. Drain in a colander once pasta is cooked and tender.

Put your EVOO in a skillet on medium heat and toss in the broccoli. Sprinkle your seasonings on top and stir. Cover the broccoli skillet so everything can saute and get soft. Once it's sauteed but still a little crisp, take out the broccoli and chop into little pieces.

Broccoli and orzo get tossed in a bowl. Throw the feta in with it while everything is still hot. Stir up the melty-cheesy goodness.

It's like a grown-up mac and cheese. I used Greek seasonings and cheese this time but you could also turn this into an Italian dish by adding Parmesan, asiago or fontina cheese. You could also use spinach, asparagus or any other green veggies that you like. I'm going to add my Greek shredded chicken next time to see if that bulks it up and makes it a good all-in-one lunch.

Next time you're at the store, pick up something you've never cooked before. You may try it and love it!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Kid Love

Sophie is looking at me from the floor. She's laying on her nap mat for quiet time. I hold up my hand in the "I love you" sign and say "I love you, Sophie!" She studies my hand and then looks at her hand. She pushes and pulls her fingers in different ways.

Then she holds her hand up to me, middle finger sticking proudly in the air, and says "I love you, Mama!"

Thank you, darling.



Ben and I have been trying to be more deliberate about Date Nights. It's important to us to have time for each other. Since we don't have a regular babysitter and I don't want to kill my mother, we've found a few places that host a Parents Night Out.

Wylie UMC has one from 6-10 every second Friday night. FBC Richardson also has a once-a-month night. They are both reasonably priced and the people who work at both churches are wonderful. The kids have been having a good time playing with new people and other kids. We're hoping that it also starts peeling that separation anxiety away from Milly. (One can dream.)

So that usually gives us 4 hours for a date. We've picked Studio Movie Grill the last few times because we can have dinner and a movie all in one. No time wasted! It was even easier with the Richardson church because it's right down the highway.

On Friday, we dropped the monkeys off at FBC Richardson and went to see The Avengers.


I'm going to do my best not to give anything away. Joss Whedon and Zak Penn bring together Earth's mightiest heroes in a clever and exciting way. It's not just about the eye candy, either. (Although I did want to slingshot my panties at the screen every time they showed Hawkeye.) Each actor is perfect in their role. Mark Ruffalo plays Bruce Banner as the quiet and somewhat jittery scientist who is trying so hard to be calm and focused on not letting "The Other Guy" take over. Robert Downey Jr. is the penultimate Tony Stark. He's great at showing the assured and wise-cracking front but can also show Tony's vulnerability when needed. Chris Hemsworth is godlike as Thor and I'm not just talking about his pecs. He's truly trying to do the right thing for his people and the Earth that he has taken to heart. Chris Evans is the out-of-his-time Captain America. He's polite but firm in his beliefs and is a leader who quietly takes his place. Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner play the Black Widow and Hawkeye. Both hint at their pasts and I'm ready to know more. They are both fiercely loyal to S.H.I.E.L.D. and Director Nick Fury, played perfectly by Samuel L. Jackson.

The writing has Whedon's mark all over it. It's clever and engaging. There were parts that had us doubled over in laughter and others that had the whole theater literally cheering. The action is all Penn. It's exciting without going too long and making you look at your watch saying "GET ON WITH IT!"

Wylie UMC is having their Parents Night Out this Friday. I don't think it will take too much convincing to get Ben to agree to another round with The Avengers.