Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On our Bookshelf

We've been reading this book ALOT recently! Lydia in particular loves everything about it. It's cutely written in a rhyme-y but not annoying fashion, which is also a bonus since Joshua can't get enough of rhyming these days.
It's about a kitten who is having a bad day because she's just too enthusiastic as she tries to help her mama, and of course her eagerness results in more, not less work for her mom.
I love the ending especially because it so accurately describes how I feel most days:
Mama runs to Calico...
"Mama, do you think I'm bad?
Mama smiles. "I'm not mad. Why, you are good as good can be--a blessing every day to me!
You'll make mistakes, but dearest, know...I'll always love you Calico!"
While my kids are not fictional, and thereby not always 'as good as good can be', they definitely are a blessing and usually good and trying to help, so I hope I can always communicate my great love for them instead of annoyance when things go wrong, though in the moment it's harder than it sounds!

Friday, January 15, 2010

2 Nights, 2 Meals, 30 minutes prep, for real.

While it is probably no secret to most of you reading (is there anyone besides James out there reading?), I love my crockpot. It's so handy, I love the way it makes the house smell good all day, and really, who doesn't love a one-pot, forget-its-there-until-dinners-done sort of appliance. Anyway, you get my point, I love me a good crock-pot recipe and I'm always looking for more (so if you have a good one send it my way, please).
On Wednesday I found a whole new way to combine two crockpot meals into a tasty, cheap, and fast 2-for-1. So I thought I'd share:

Day 1: Beer-Roasted Chicken (I served this with microwave baked potatoes and a salad, but you could do whatever is fast and suits your personal fancy)

You need:
1 (3-4lb) whole fryer chicken
1 (12oz.) can beer (or substitute equal amount beef broth if you don't have or would prefer not to use)
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 t. paprika

To prepare:
Remove any extra parts (neck, organs) from inside cavity of chicken and place bird in crockpot. Pour beer/broth over and into the chicken. Sprinkle with seasonings and place lid on. Cook on medium high for 4 hours, or low for up to 8. This chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender and nicely flavored, yum! Serves 4.
Serve and store for tomorrow:
Remove skin from chicken, carve and reserve meat needed for dinner as desired. Remove the remaining meat from bones. Lightly shred extra chicken and place in a storage dish in refrigerator. Discard bones and strain broth to another refrigerated container.

Day 2: Chicken Taco Soup, adapted from this recipe (serve with tortilla chips for dipping or crumbling on top or over instant brown rice)

You need:
Leftover Chicken from Day 1
Leftover Stock from Day 1
1 medium onion coarsley chopped
1 (15 oz.) can chili-style beans, undrained
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained
1-2 cups water (depending on how this you want it)
1 (15 oz.) can diced chili-style or mexican-style tomatoes, undrained
1 (15oz.) can corn, drained OR 1 (1lb.) package frozen corn
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce OR 2 cups tomato juice
1 package taco seasoning or 1/3 this recipe
1/2 t. chipotle chili powder (optional)
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Sour cream (optional)
Cilantro, chopped (optional)

To prepare:
Remove reserved chicken stock from fridge, using a spoon, scrape layer of fat off the top and discard. Remaining stock will be thick like jello. (Don't worry, it will return to a normal consistency as it warms)
Add all ingredients through chili powder (if using) to a crockpot and cook on high for 1 hour, or on low for up to 8.
Top bowls of soup with cheese, sour cream, and cilantro as desired. Serves 8.

If you don't think you'll have enough chicken for both meals you could cook two whole birds at the same time and use all of one for dinner, and all of the the other for the soup.

If you just want to make the soup but didn't roast the chicken the previous day, substitute 3 bonless, skinless chicken breasts for leftover meat and 1 can of beer/broth in place of the water called for. (Basically, just follow the recipe I linked to as written.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Oh where, oh where has my baby boy gone...and other musings of a 4-year mom...

Birthday season has now passed us by for another year. In addition to newly 2-year-old Lydia, Joshua turned four on Sunday. In some ways it seems like yesterday that I became a mom, in others that I have been doing this all my life. But either way, I can't imagine my life without him.

Joshua, before you were born I had moments of worry about how I would take care of you, or the ways you would change my life, or if I was ready to always be thinking of and responsible for another human being. I even worried if I was strong enough to get through the process of bringing you into this world.
And then, as I started having complications the week before your birth I knew I could and would do whatever was in my power to keep you safe and out of harm. Labor was different than I ever imagined and yet when they placed teeny-tiny you into my arms I knew instantly it was all worth it. Every second of uncertainty, pain, and worry faded into the perfection of your little body, 10 fingers and toes, bright blue eyes, and a sense of connection I'd never experienced before with someone I'd just met.
These past four years have changed and stretched me in ways I'd thought it would and in so many ways I never envisioned. I always thought the role of a parent was to guide and direct a child into the person they would become, but I've learned that it is just as much the child teaching and refreshing the parent and shaping them into the person they were meant to be as well.
You've come so far these past four years and I feel like you've crossed from little boy to mini-man recently. I cherish the moments you still call me "Mommy" and want to snuggle or make sure I tuck you in and give you just one more hug and kiss, and yet I'm so proud of you when you step out and do things on your own, or want to try something for yourself, even though I know if means you need me just a little less.
Having a conversation with you is often enlightening and nearly always humorous! You have so much to offer and I love to watch you make connections and put the world together. You are driven, inquisitive, and confident, but at the same time so sensitive and so concerned about what you can't plan, understand or control.
I see so much of myself in you, and I hope I can use that empathy to encourage you to step outside your (our) comfort zone and yet I'm guessing that I will find that you will be the one showing me that the first step is always the hardest, but that the rewards for trying are well worth the risk.
Every day with you is a blessing and I feel so priveleged to have been in your life these past four years and look forward to the next year (and the rest of your life) with you too, and no matter how big you get you'll always be my baby.

Happy 4th Birthday, baby boy!

Friday, January 8, 2010


My baby girl is two-years-old today! Wow, where did the time go? I started this blog to let far-flung family and friends know of her arrival here, and if you've been following along for awhile the rest, as they say, is history.
To my baby girl on her birthday, January 8th, 2010:
Lydia Elise, you make me smile each and every morning when I go in to get you up and I'm still smiling when I put you to bed in the evening.
You're so sweet and sensitive and no matter what mood I'm in I can't help but feel warm and fuzzy inside when you give me a hug or climb on my lap and cuddle.
Somtimes I miss the snuggles of you as a baby, and now I treasure those rare baby moments more, but I love watching you grow and I wouldn't trade for your babyhood back for anything.
This has been a big year for you, I don't even realize how much until I stop to look at pictures and ponder. Running, jumping, potty-training, big-girl bed sleeping, growing, your little personality has just bloomed and bloomed!
You're such a caring "mommy" for your baby-dolls and it warms my heart to seeing you show them such nurture and concern, because I know that means your daddy and I are doing a good job of showing you how much we love you and your brother and that you feel it as well.
I love walking into a room to find you singing a song at the top of your lungs, usually just a tiny bit off-key and missing just a few words, but more precious than anything I could imagine. Hearing you sing the lullabies we've sung to you brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.
Your energy, love of life, and enthusiasm for whatever we're doing is contagious. Your vocabulary is growing by the day and yet you still have the charm of a tiny talker. I will miss when you lose the last of your "baby" words and you don't ask me to "hold-jer me" when you want to be picked up.
And yet, I look forward to all the changes I know this upcoming year will bring. I used to think that I would dread the "terrible-twos" and yet, I know that most of it should be labeled the "teachable-twos" for the learning and growth that takes place is astounding and I'm glad I'm your mommy and get to watch it take place and play a little part in making you the person you are becoming.
Baby Girl, I love you more and more each day and I'm so blessed and thankful that you're ours!
Happy 2nd Birthday!