Thursday, December 29, 2011

Growing Up So Fast

Where has the time flown? 

Toddler is now THREE!

Then: 7 months old, crawling
Now: My 3yo sporting a necklace she made herself
I still cannot believe it! Three whole years since we welcomed her into our lives. We were a young married couple, Hubby still in college, myself working at a pizza joint. We were both working 50 hours a week to get by and making huge plans for our future. Then BAM, an unexpected surprise. The best surprise I've ever gotten. 

Baby Girl is now SEVEN MONTHS!

Then: 1 month old
Now: 7 months and happily playing!
 Now here we are, 3 miscarriages and another pregnancy later. We've gone through 3 vehicles and are now on numbers 4 & 5. We've moved 6 times. We've been through relationship hell and back. We bought a home. And now we have Baby Girl. She's growing so fast, I completely understand parents who miss their kid's infancy. Every time I turn around, she's already doing something new. Christmas Eve, she said her first word: Mama. And she says it all the time. Now just a few days ago, she started waving bye bye. Soon it will be crawling.. I'm doomed!
And Puppy is almost 4 months old!

Then: 7 weeks old, first day home, barely bigger than a then 4 month old Baby Girl
Now: He's as heavy as both my kids combined and bigger in frame than Dakota, our 4 yo collie mutt
He's 42 pounds already. He's outgrown our 4yo Collie Mutt. He's a gigantic, monstrous baby. And he's fallen in love with Baby Girl. It worked out great. Toddler and Dakota are buddies, now Baby Girl and Apollo are cuddle bugs. 

Savor the moment, because all too quickly, it's completely gone.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To All Nursing Moms (almost wordless wednesday)

As most of you know, I breastfeed Baby Girl. And when I say breastfeed, I mean on demand. Whenever and wherever she is hungry. I've nursed while walking up and down the grocery store aisles, at the park while pushing Toddler on the swing, at the poolside while Mr. Smitty and Toddler play in the water, while filling out paperwork to purchase our truck... everywhere. And no one has ever said anything negative to me. But it really frustrates me that there are moms out there who are harassed about something as healthy and natural about feeding their child. 

So when I heard about one mom's experience in a Texas Target, I wished there was a Target nearby so I could participate in this mornings Target Nurse In. Unfortunately, I was not anywhere near a Target this morning, but a girlfriend and I were running errands at our local Lowes and right around 10 am, Baby Girl decided she was hungry. So as usual, I gave her what she needed and fed her right there in the flooring aisle as my friend was discussing her flooring options with the associate. As always, I was discrete and the associate didn't even bat an eyelash. While I wasn't actually in a Target Store, I was there in spirit!

I'm really glad I've never been subjected to judgmental, rude people, but I still feel for those moms who have been. Today I have a shout out for all those moms: you're not alone, you're amazing and keep on doing what you do best.. be a mom!

At the Zoo

At the local park

Picnicking with friends at a public park

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sausage-Stuffed Chicken Breasts & Spaghetti Squash

It's been a few weeks, we've been busy busy with Holiday crafts, baking, gift making, wrapping and playdates!

My husband is a terrific cook. He loves to dabble. One problem with this is he's awful at remembering recipes. He'll whip up a fantastic meal and forget what he did a day later. This one was so good, I made him sit down and talk me through it right after dinner.

I'll post his recipe for Hollandaise at a future date, but we use it for quite a few meals! And when I'm finally able to snap a few pictures while he's cooking, I'll add them to this post!

Chicken breast stuffed with Sausage and Cheese, coated with a Parmesan Bread Crust and drizzled with Hollandaise atop garlic-baked Spaghetti Squash. Terrific served along with Crescent Rolls.

1 Spaghetti Squash
2 tbsp Butter
2 Cloves Garlic
2 Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 tbsp Olive Oil
¼ Cup Chicken Stock
1½ tbsp Lemon Juice
1½ tbsp Soy Sauce
¼ lb. Ground Mild Pork Sausage
2 tsp Corn Starch
1 tbsp Water
1½ tbsp Molasses
1 Slice Sourdough Bread
1 Slice Whole Wheat Bread
1 tbsp Italian Herb Blend of choice
3 tbsp Grate Parmesan Cheese (for stuffing)
¼ Cup Grated Mozzarella Cheese  
¼ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese (for crust)
1 Egg
1/3 Cup Milk
2 tbsp Ranch Dressing

Spaghetti Squash Portion: 

Preheat oven to 375F. Pierce squash with paring knife 10-12 times. Place on tinfoil covered baking sheet. Bake for 60 minutes.  Check to see if knife will pierce skin easily. If needed, add 5 minutes baking time until done.

Let cool 30 minutes.

Cut in half, length wise. Remove seeds and discard. Scrape spaghetti like meat and place in medium bowl.

Heat 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet. Add garlic and heat on medium for 2 minutes. Add squash and toss. Heat for 5 minutes.

Chicken Portion: 

Shake together corn starch and water. Heat Olive Oil in a Medium Skillet. Add chicken stock, lemon juice and soy sauce; bring to a crackle. Add sausage and cook. Add corn starch/water blend and molasses.

Toast wheat and sourdough bread in oven at 375F until dry (about 8 minutes).

Mix together Italian Herb Seasoning in a small bowl. Butterfly chicken breasts. Coat inside with herb seasoning blend. Layer parmesan and mozzarella cheeses on top of herbs. Stuff with sausage and close chicken breast. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Crumble bread slices and parmesan cheese in food processor. In a small bowl, wisk egg, milk and ranch dressing to make an egg wash. Unwrap chicken. Roll chicken in the egg wash. Roll chicken in bread crumb mix. Repeat both egg wash and bread crumbs.

Place on tinfoil covered baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Serve on top of Spaghetti Squash and topped with Hollandaise Sauce.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's been a few weeks... because we're keeping busy busy busy! Baby Girl is now approaching 7 months and Toddler turned THREE at the beginning of the month. She had a terrific rainbow party!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Whole Chicken Crock Pot Goodness

What's for dinner tonight?

I wasn't feeling the 'make dinner while teething baby and couped up toddler are screaming for my attention this evening" vibe. So I grabbed 15 minutes right after lunch to throw dinner in the crock pot. (While Toddler is full and satisfied for a few minutes and I finally got Baby Girl down for a nap).

Whole Chicken Crock Pot Goodness.

1 whole chicken
1 cup cut potatoes
1 cup cut butternut squash
1 cup baby carrots
1 onion, cut however you prefer
1/2 cup sliced button mushrooms
1/4 cup fresh chives
1 lemon, wedged
1 cup apple juice
1 cup chicken stock
spices to your taste (I used oregano, basil, cilantro & parsley)

Throw all ingredients in crock pot.
(I put the lemon wedges on top so they're easy to dispose of after cooking).
Cook until chicken reaches internal temp of 165 °F

Since I already diced an entire butternut squash while making Baby Girl's weekly meals, I bought pre-sliced mushrooms and there's no need to cut up baby carrots, I only had to deal with prepping the potatoes, chives & lemon. My entire meal cooking for this evening took under 15 minutes. Yay!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Theft and Destruction of Property

Well this has been a crappy start to the day. Toddler woke me up early. 5 am early. Not that big of a deal, time change and all, it's understandable. Today is rainy and cold, the perfect morning to start the day off with a fire.

So I wrap up in boots, a jacket and gloves to brave the rain. I walk around the house to the chimney, where we keep our rain protected cord. And what do I find?

The waterproof cover is gone and a chunk of our dry cord is also gone. And the entirety of our wood storage is completely SOAKED. Nonburnable and useless until it dries. Which means some asshole snuck onto our property in the middle of the night, in the rain, ripped off the cover and stole our wood. Hubby is mad (understandably so) because he cuts and chops ALL of our wood. His time, effort and labor is wasted because some self-serving lowlife decided to commit a Class B misdemeanor by trespassing on our property, committing theft and property damage.

This is only the minor latest in a long line of stupid, illegal, inconsiderate and offensive events that have happened to us in this town. I really cannot say I would ever return here. This place is a fail on the list for us as military inhabitants. While everyone is not like this, there are a few bad-apples that live up to the stereotypes. And it's not good. Selfish, arrogant, anti-military family, backwoods twits.

Yes, I'm bitter. I'm livid. I don't feel safe, welcome or protected on my own property. The cops are even regularly involved. Through the last 2 years, we've familiarized ourselves with most of the police force. They make several daily trips right past our home, and several in the wee hours of the morning. But shit keeps happening. I cannot wait to move.

And whoever you are. Yes you, the jackass that felt bold enough to do any of the list of shit that's been done to our home. I've had enough. Here's my advice. Don't let me catch you, because I will defend my home, my property and most of all, my family.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Toddler's First Desk

I snagged this desk for only $10 off a Craigslist Ad. Really nice woman, she was worried I wouldn't want it because it wobbles and there's a juice stain on the unfinished wood. No big deal! We tightened the screws and I plan on paint and poly to make it make the girls' playroom and be more toddler craft friendly. 
Toddler is very excited she gets her very own desk! And she promptly asked for a "big chair" to go with it, which means I'm snooping garage sales and craigslist for a sturdy chair in need of some TLC.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Take A Guess

What do you think I have in mind for this?

We found this dresser over 3 years ago, minus the paint. The top converts to a changing table by folding down. It's pretty awesome. But we have no need for a changing table after we finished the closet changing station. So I've decided to make use of this dresser by making it a functioning piece for the girls' play room. So for fun, here are a few pictures of the gutting of the dresser. 

And we're saving the drawer fronts for a future project. 

I suppose I should explain why the drawer fronts are so supposedly random and why we can't bring ourselves to toss them... When I was pregnant with Toddler, I spent a few days handpainting recreations of our tattoos on the drawer fronts. Toddler loves them and I can't seem to let them go. So stay tuned to see what happens with the dresser and what I'll be doing with the drawer fronts!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Never. Gonna. Happen.

That's what I told Hubby when he asked for a second dog. When he begged. When he pleaded. When he gave me a laundry list of reasons "why another dog is a good idea."

We already have a 4 year old Australian Blue Heeler/Border Collie mix. He's a stroke of luck dog we got at the local shelter shortly after Hubby and I got engaged. Dakota is the smartest, most well behaved dog I know. He follows all our house rules, listens to all voice commands, follows a few hand commands, doesn't jump or bark excessively and won't even snatch food off the floor unless I've given him the okay. He's amazing with both Toddler and Baby Girl and he's intelligent.

I cannot deal with high energy, hyper, loud, "stupid" dogs. The kind who bolt when they're not leashed, won't stop barking at squirrels and knock you over with their exuberance. The hyper kind who scuttle and rush under your feet that you end up tripping over. I didn't think any dog could ever live up to my perfect pet. And so I told Hubby he had no chance in hell of getting another dog until after Dakota dies (hopefully 12-15 years from now). And I told him consistently for over a year. 

For the longest time, Hubby kept asking for an English/American Bulldog Mix: super hyper, not very smart and clumsy, although very very loving. Perhaps perfect for some families, but not at all what I consider a great pet for our family's needs. Then Hubby stopped playing fair (and stopped thinking about solely what he wanted) and started looking for the perfect dog for what I wanted and what would work best for our family instead.

Powerful, protective, gentle, intelligent, great with young children, obedient, friendly, and well "trained" (when you put the work and effort in of course). Don't forget a watch dog, a deterrent to potential break-ins or harmful individuals. Sounds too good to be true, but Hubby managed to find a dog that fits ALL of these qualities. Unfortunately, that means I need to deal with excessive drooling, shedding and SIZE. 

Photo Credit
Yes. Somehow, my harebrained Hubby somehow talked me into getting a Saint Bernard Puppy. 

I'm in the whole nine yards. Potty training, obedience training, dominance training. Constant supervision to make sure the pup is getting the right amount of physical exertion without hurting his SUPER FAST growing bones... to be 100% consistent in training him and making sure I'm the dominant "bitch" of the house. 

3-5 groomings a week (which Hubby has SWORN he will be doing at least 3 of, I'll let you know if he keeps up that end of the bargain) and ALL THE POOP (again, something Hubby has SWORN to take care of weekly, I'll update how that goes as well). 

So, 7 hours in the car and a fair chunk of change later, we have ourselves a 15 lb, 7 wk old male St Bernard. And we named him Apollo. 

To be fair, he's absolutely adorable.
What on earth have I gotten myself into?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Tutorial and Bragging on Hubby & Toddler

I hate carving pumpkins. I really dislike the feeling of the goo and guts. And even though they're left uneaten every single year, I still feel compelled to dig out all the seeds, save and clean them, then waste Olive Oil and my time by baking them. And I always challenge myself to carve something extravagant and "fun". This year, Pinterest inspired me to try something different and I left the amazing carving production to hubby. 

Yup. I didn't even cut them open this year. We were able to get these amazing pumpkins at a little pumpkin patch only 20 minutes from us (a huge improvement from last year when we drive 90 minutes and payed out the ass for every little thing). Toddler and Baby Girl were free and they each got a free pumpkin. Hubby and I were $7 apiece and pumpkins were only $3 each, regardless of weight! All of the games and activites were free of additional charge except for feeding the animals, which was only 25 cents for each little cup of food. And corn stalks were only a dollar. I dare you to find anywhere as kid friendly and family oriented with those prices!

On the way home, we stopped at the store to get a can of spraypaint and a package of thumbtacks.
Once home, I started by painting the bottoms. Maybe 5 super thin layers of spray paint and that was covered. I let it dry for an hour and then set them upright to paint the tops and sides. For really good coverage, I painted 6 super thin layers and made sure to get the cracks and crevices around and on the stems.

I then took a thick sharpie to the short pumpkin. That's all it took to do the spider web pumpkin. 
As for the spider, I spray painted the tacks with some spare black paint. This is a total of 70 tacks, one package from the store... if you want to do anything more extravagant, be prepared with plenty of them! They don't go as far as you'd think! This design was freehand, I wasn't looking for anything too flashy or complicated. All in all, I'm really happy with how they turned out! When kids are Trick Or Treating, I'll light a tealight or two in front of them so they're more visible.

I cannot help brag on hubby's awesome carving skills though! Look at that Haunted House!
And this is were I admit that Toddler BEGGED me to carve her a ghost. And I conceded. So it wasn't a completely carve free year for me, but that little ghost only took 8 minutes start to finish so I wasn't too upset by it, seeing as Hubby's pumpkin took almost an hour. And I downright refused to save seeds, which Hubby didn't mind at all.

And of course, Toddler's pumpkin! We decided to let her do her own instead of her sitting there bored and watching us carve what she wanted. She had a blast and we didn't have to deal with her chirping around us like an overexcited chipmunk while we were gutting a pumpkin with sharp knives.

Wordless Wednesday: Perfect Day at the Pumpkin Patch!

Toddler asked for Pumpkin Costumes, this is the closest I could get an hour before we left. Not to bad if I do say so myself. And oh the wonders of a few spare tshirts and some scrap fabric..

Note the very upset Baby Girl in the right corner?

More than 4 years together!

Toddler always loves the animals. Baby Girl surprised us by getting right in their faces, she loved them!

A Butterfly and a Pumpkin, one on each cheek

Somehow Toddler talked the owner into letting her ride the Yak... oh her powers of persuasion work on everyone but Mommy.