Archive for April 2009

Happy 41st to my better half

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

If you've ever traveled in the southeast, then you know that leaving there without seeing, hearing about or eating at a Chick-fil-A is nearly an impossible feat. I haven't met a soul who has experienced a meal there and disliked. Whenever we have the chance to visit a state where one is located, we become on a first-name basis with the employees. So imagine our surprise--and delight--when we discovered one right here in our backyard. Up on WWU's campus sits a little ol' "grab and go" where we can help ourselves to freshly made waffle fries, the famous chicken sandwich and lemonade. We aren't regulars yet but we're well on our way.

So in honor of my sweetheart's birthday, I've posted a comical rendition of "Yesterday" by Tim Hawkins. Happy 41st Honey! I'll see you at lunch--guess where??

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Caught doing good

Monday, April 27, 2009

This past Saturday was our elementary school's annual Earth Day clean up and beautify event. Last year it snowed--that's right SNOWED-- and only four volunteers braved the weather to join me. This year it was a nice partly sunny day and I had high hopes that a huge work party would ensue. Wrong.

Because this project was "my baby", and I didn't want to stay there all day, I had to enlist my own built-in child labor. They knew they were expected to help out but it ended up being a much longer day than they were promised. Lest you have visions of willing servants, be assured that I heard many more refrains of "is my time up?" than "what can I do to help?" In spite of the whining, they really ponied up and got the job done.

Thanks, boys. You guys rock!

Notice Ben's classmate scootering off in the background. This did not help my cause.


Foodie Friday

Friday, April 24, 2009

Here is one of those "everything but the kitchen sink" cookie recipes. For a variation, it's also fun to use the seasonal colors of M & M's. As if you need one more reason to like them, because no flour is used, they are gluten-free. Caution: If you're not one already, these will definitely turn you into a "Cookie Monster". (I know that was lame but I couldn't resist.)

Monster Cookies

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 t. soda
  • 2/3 c. M & M's
  • 2/3 c. chocolate chips (Giuttard are the best)
  • 4 1/2 c. old fashioned oats (not quick cooking or instant)

Cream together butter, pb and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in salt, soda, M & M's, chocolate chips and oats.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper (or waxed). Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350.

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I never thought

Thursday, April 23, 2009

When in the throes of nursing newborns, changing diapers and chasing toddlers we all have those recurring thoughts that are rarely uttered lest we're thought of as a less-than-perfect momma: "Will I ever have a full night's sleep for the next eighteen years?" "I can't wait until I no longer have to carry a diaper bag, a sippy cup, a flask of vodka (just kidding), etc." "When will I not smell like baby wipes, squash or spit up?" "Will I ever drive a car that doesn't have a meal's worth of Goldfish and french fries gracing the floor?" An hour felt like a day. A day felt like a year.

I can remember all those times I was trying to calm an inconsolable teething infant or ignoring a temper tantrum in the middle of Target. Inevitably, a seasoned mom would walk by, smile and say "It goes so fast. Enjoy them." Yeah, right. It was all I could do to not trip her cute, freshly manicured self down the grocery aisle. I wanted to say (or scream): "At least you're by yourself!!" Well that may have been a little harsh but I WAS sleep deprived. I never thought I'd repeat her sentiment anytime in the near future.

Now that I'm light years ahead of those days, I've found that her words were so true. When you're in it, it feels like forever. When you look back, it was just yesterday. Now I find myself giving the same advice to young moms I happen upon while doing my errands--alone, of course. I never thought I'd say that, much less mean it.

This week as I've been doing some Spring cleaning, I happened upon an item that flooded my heart with serious nostalgia. This mini-chair, which also becomes a step stool , was made by Mimi (Trey's mom) back in 2000. Before Ben. And before the older boys could brush their teeth, or take a drink out of the faucet, without a little lift. When I saw the chair/stool, I immediately went to those thoughts of early motherhood. Why did I wish those days away? When was the last time they needed my physical help on a daily basis? I never thought I'd miss those days.

Even though I'm more of a "tosser" than a "keeper" this is one piece of yesterday I can't say goodbye to. I never thought.

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Curiosity and Google

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Last night we had a "situation" occur with my 10 year old son that, unfortunately is becoming all too familiar for even the most well-intentioned parents. Before bedtime I let him check his email on my computer. He communicates with our family back east this way and I've seen it improve his writing skills dramatically. That being said, curiosity got the best of him and he "googled" something I don't even want to repeat here. Thankfully I came to the computer a little later and saw the subject matter minimized at the bottom of the screen. What showed up on the screen was pretty harmless but the fact he sought this out at all was a huge wake up call to me. I remember reading a chapter in a book about raising boys that said: 'it's not a matter of IF your son will be exposed to pornography but WHEN'. It seems 10 is the new 14. Because I've had to address this issue with my boys on more than one occasion, I'm hoping a blog post about it will help spread the word.

Ever since we began allowing our kids to have any access to the Internet, it has been monitored closely by a software filtering program or simply having the computer in a public area of our house. In spite of these attempts at protection, the boys have still been exposed to umm..let's call it "excess exposure". I summoned my son to my desk and inquired about his search. The look on his face said it all. As I gently interrogated about why he felt the need to do it, he told me that, when he was at a neighbor's, this boy had entered the same phrase and he was just curious what actually showed up because he didn't get to see it. So, you see, it's clearly the other boy's fault. (just kidding!)

The fact that it's in our homes is a sad reality of our ever progressive sexual culture. As if this isn't bad enough, it's in everyone else's homes too. Usually when I ask other parents if they have filters on their computers, the answer is 'no' or 'I really need to do that' or 'I haven't even thought about that.' Please don't wait. It doesn't matter if your kids are 2 or 12, they are naturally curious and plenty of websites are happy to oblige their curiosity.

There are numerous filtering software programs out there which I'm sure you can review on Amazon but here are a couple we have purchased over the last few years. clearly the best one we have used. You set up an account for your child and enter the sites you permit access to. They aren't able to move from there to another site that isn't pre-approved by you. Also, you have the ability to decide the amount of time they can spend on the Internet per day. Once their time has expired, the computer automatically logs them off. This was the first one we used but found that it didn't block every unsavory site. If a word is used in the web address that doesn't fit their definition of pornographic content, the user can access it. Overall a good program though.

A good read about this subject with more info on social networking sites, texting and cell phones is Logged On and Tuned Out by Vicky Courtney .

I am not naive enough to believe that my actions will result in leaving my kids' innocence completely intact but it certainly can't hurt.


Foodie Friday

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thanks to the suggestion of my fellow blogging friend, Sasha, I have a catchy title for my recipe sharing posts. Welcome to "Foodie Friday"!

Last week I mentioned the delicious pasta dish I devoured at The Cheesecake Factory. I first sampled it 3 or 4 years ago. One evening I got a hankering for it and "googled" the recipe. I wasn't able to find the exact replication of the restaurant's formula (apparently they don't share) but this is pretty darn close. Yes, the amount of ingredients seems a bit daunting but the prep process is quite fast. Also, a couple items are not exactly those you might regularly keep in your pantry but, trust me, you will discover other uses for them over and over again. (sorry, no picture this time.)

Thai Chicken Pasta

  • 12 oz. linguine
  • 4 T. sesame oil
  • 2 large chicken breasts, cut in strips
  • 1/2 c. green onions, chopped
  • 1 c. finely shredded carrots
  • 2 c. frozen stir fry vegies
  • 3 T. minced garlic
  • 1/2 T. ground ginger or 1 T. fresh
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 3 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 T. chili garlic sauce (Asian section of supermarket)


Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return noodles to pot. Add 2 T. sesame oil and toss. Set aside. Heat remaining oil in heavy pot over medium high heat and throw in chicken breasts. Cook until chicken appears white. Add the green onions, carrots, frozen vegies, garlic and ginger. Saute 4 minutes. Add the honey, peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar and chili garlic sauce. Simmer 2 minutes. Pour sauce over pasta and toss well. Garnish with bean sprouts and chopped peanuts. Makes 6-8 servings.


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Toothless At Last

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Doesn't he look oh so grown up?? My baby lost tooth "numero uno" today at recess. It happened with a little help from his best buddy and a playground ball aimed directly at the mouth. Apparently his friend was growing weary of him talking about it, wiggling it and discussing it for the last month and took matters into his own hands. Ben quickly forgave him when the collision of mouth and said ball resulted in an impending visit from the tooth fairy.

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We The People

I was one proud American girl yesterday. Never before have I attended a "protest" of any sort. Yet, I just couldn't let this historic event pass me by.

The T.E A. (taxed enough already) Party wasn't an angry, out of control protest but a firm, loud patriotic gathering of likeminded Americans saying "enough is enough. We will be silent no more." And, for the record, it wasn't a "protest" but a "patriotic demonstration." In the words of Mrs. Obama, "I've never been more proud of my country."

I have no idea who this lady was but I liked her sign

The local newspaper estimated the crowd at 1500 which was pretty accurate

Amen, sister!


Where in the world is Ben?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our town's annual big event (which takes place over the Memorial Day weekend) is the "Ski to Sea Race." It is exactly what is implied: a race that starts on the mountain and ends at the sea. There are five legs to the competition, and the weekend prior to the event, the Chamber of Commerce hosts the "Junior Ski to Sea" for third graders through high school. Last year, Quinn's team came in first place by a matter of seconds. Naturally the boys treated it like an Olympic competition as they were duped the prior year by their fifth grade counterparts. (Remember we are talking 11 yr. olds here)

Lately there's been a lot of talk around our house about this year's teams, the official team names; the t-shirts; who is doing the biking, the soccer dribble, etc. In yesterday's mail arrived the official entry form. The picture gracing the front cover was the first, second and third place teams from the co-ed elementary division!! Quinn was devastated. (again, he's 12) "We won first. I can't believe they didn't put us on there. Blah. Blah. Blah." So I take a gander and who do I see in the lower right hand corner but our little Ben. I just cracked up! Doesn't it remind you of the Richard Scarry books and searching high and low looking for "Lowly Worm". Or Where's Waldo? It's such the perfect summary of Ben's life thus far: being schlepped all over town to his big brothers' activities hoping for a minute or two of his own fame. At this point he had clearly had it. Regardless, he was going to be part of the ceremony. Doesn't he look like he just belongs there? Can I get your autograph Ben? Oh and you too, Quinn?


It was all about a cross

Friday, April 10, 2009


I'll never forget the overwhelming feeling of amazement and gratitude I felt when leaving the movie theater after watching "The Passion of the Christ". I remember sitting in the car crying and saying over and over again, "He did that for ME????"

I understand why the movie ended with complete and total silence but I still think this song would have been the perfect background music as the credits rolled.

It was all about a man.
It was all about a cross.
It was all about the blood
that was shed so I would not be lost.

It was all about a love
That was bigger than a life
It was all about the freedom that was given
through your sacrifice

Cause you would rather die
Than to ever live without me

And he did die. Because you are worth it. We are all worth it.


Why is it.............

Thursday, April 9, 2009

........that the best hair day ever occurs on the morning of a scheduled cut and color?????

........that when you walk in to the grocery store, Target or Trader Joe's there is nary a person in line yet when you get to the check out, each lane is 5 or 6 deep????

(and the best one of all)............that at the freeway rest area the women's bathrooms are on the same side where the semi-trucks park and the men's bathrooms are closest to where the CARS park? How many female truck drivers have you seen on the road???

Just some pointless ponderings to some unanswerable dilemmas. Happy Thursday!

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Reunion a la Facebook

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Teri, Terri and me

I "heart" Facebook! For months and months I resisted for fear I would be sucked into yet another black hole on the computer. I wrote it off as a social networking site for teenagers and twenty-somethings. I figured my kids would make fun of me for trying to be young and cool--both of which, according to them, I'm clearly not. I'm so glad I took the plunge. Where else can you make 89 friends in one day??? Talk about a self-esteem booster.

I think I was afraid there would be numerous requests to rekindle long-lost friendships when I don't give enough to the current ones. I worried I'd feel guilty for not sending a personal message with every "friending" confirmation. I thought it would be the same people on there all the time saying the same old things. Not so. Sure there are those folks who give 20 status updates a day and tag you in every type of note or quiz known to man. And yes you'll get friend requests from people and say "who is that???" or "I think you have me confused with my sister". But at the heart of it all, what I love the most is connecting--even if it's only once--with my former classmates. After spending our middle and high school years with the same people day in and day out, it's so satisfying to learn that life has turned out well for them. If you think about it, what a crazy concept that we basically grow up with each other, experience every teenage rite of passage, make zillions of memories together and then graduate. That's it. Sure we attend our ten year reunion, make promises to "get together real soon" but it never comes to fruition. Maybe the 20 year will be different. Instead it's the same story, different decade.

The picture above is me with my two BFF's from middle and high school. Actually the Terri in the middle and I have known one another since the first grade. The three of us have been trading messages on Facebook for the past three months. This last weekend my son had a soccer game in Tukwila so we met at The Cheesecake Factory for a 4 hour lunch. (yes the waitress was so pleased about that.) It was way more fun than the previous reunions combined. And cheaper.

I arrived first and asked the hostess what table she seated me at so I could call and tell the girls how to find me in the humungous restaurant. Her answer? "86"!!! Yes, the year we graduated!!! I know it's super corny but we loved the signifcance.

The sign Terri made with gum from under the table and her lipstick.

It was so good to laugh and just be together. There's something incredibly comforting about not having to give explanation from your growing up years because they lived it all with you. You don't need to preface any stories. It was like not even a year had passed since we last sat at KFC, in our brown polyester uniforms, having our dinner break. And yet we talked about our present day lives just as much as the past.

So if you're still resisting entering the Facebook world, give it a try. You might be surprised--and pleased-- at the outcome. I know I was. By the way, the Thai Chicken Pasta was fab!!


Grub Update

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My friend Ann is a "foodie". Our friendship began over food and has sustained itself for the past 7 years with oodles of shared recipes, birthday cakes and our many local restaurant reviews. (we both secretly want to be food critics) I met Ann when I begrudgingly took a meal to her after she gave birth to her second son. I wasn't having a stellar day with my three kids under 6 when I got the phone call from the church requesting my services. In fact, later on, I had to apologize to the poor sweet woman who called me as I was "less than Christian" to her. I agreed to throw something together and take it to her the next day.

When I walked in with dinner, I felt right at home. Two minutes into the conversation I learned she grew up 20 miles away from me, attended the same elementary and middle school as my cousins and babysat my high school sweetheart. She was easy to be with and hilarious. A couple days later she called me raving about the casserole and salad and demanded I hand over the recipes. And we've been talking about food ever since.

Whenever Ann baked or cooked a new dish, I heard about it. If I did the same, I'd call her with a report. Pretty soon she was leaving me regular messages asking for a "grub update". Inspired by my foodie friend, I thought it would be fun to have a weekly post with a recipe. Unfortunately no days of the week begin with "G" or "U" so I can't have a catchy phrase like my fellow blogging friend Sasha who does "Wordless Wednesdays". So I'm just going to call it what it is. Be warned that most dishes will be high calorie as I'm much more of a baker than a cook.

This cake was so yummy I made it twice in one week. It's a great alternative to banana bread when you have rotten (not sure why they call them "ripe")bananas sitting on your counter or overtaking your freezer.

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 pkg. yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 medium sized ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp. creme de banana liquer (optional) I did not use it but I bet it's delish

Lightly grease two 9-inch cake pans then dust with flour. Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Increase the mixer speed and beat for 1-2 more minutes. The batter should look well blended and the bananas should be well pureed. Divide the batter between the pans and place them in the oven side by side. Bake until they are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean. 30-32 minutes. My oven is hot so I decreased the baking time by 8 minutes and they were perfect. Check in at about 25 minutes to make sure they're not overbaked.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 pkg. cream cheese (8 oz.)
  • 1 stick butter, at room temp.
  • 3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla.

Place the cream cheese and butter in large mixing bowl and blend on low for 30 seconds. Add the confectioners' sugar, a bit at a time, blending with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is well incorporated, 1 minute. Add the vanilla, increase the speed and blend the frosting until fluffy, one minute more.

I usually refrigerate this frosting while the cake is cooling and find it spreads much better. Also, you can easily reduce the sugar to 3 cups and you'll have more than enough frosting. This recipe was adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor cookbook by Anne Byrn. Workman Publishing. 1999.