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Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Hap - Happiest Season of ALL!

Oh. Hi.

Yes, I know I haven't been around much lately. Honestly, I haven't had a whole lot to say. And I've been way too busy to say what I haven't had to say. It's that time of the year when things just almost get out of hand. Can anyone relate?

Our schedules are in for the month of December and while we're not triple-booked like one night last year, we are double-booked at least for one night. Once again, our Christmas production at church is going to interfere with Nathan's day-care's Christmas program. I just can't stand the thought of missing it two years in a row. I may have to go in full Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" costume and make-up. At least I'm not a principal role like the Ghost of Christmas Future where I might scare the kids to death.

Next weekend will be a busy one. We have my office party on Friday night, musical rehearsals most of the day on Saturday, a Christmas party that night, church Sunday morning, rehearsals Sunday afternoon and children's musical that night. I'll be so thrilled to go back to work on Monday just to rest a little.

So, all of this is to say that if you don't see me around the blogosphere too much this month, that's why. It's just a very busy time of year.

But it's a wonderful kind of busy.

For the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'll bet you didn't know

I'll bet you didn't know that...

* In a doctor's office they have "mazageens" for you to look at while you wait.

* In Brazil they speak "Pork-a-jeez." And that's not a faaay-ncy way of saying Pig Latin, either.

* Nathan had rice "Christmas" treats for a snack the other day.

* You and I are currently working on "per-cute-ers."

Oh, and remember how we have a little parrot around our house? Well he's still hanging around.

The other day I was getting him ready for bed and he went into the bathroom and closed the door.

Then he knocked.

"Who's there?" I asked.

You know what he said?

"Land Shark!"

I laughed so hard that I had to leave the room. I think I hurt his feelings.

Any idea what his parents used to watch as teenagers and college students?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Way More Homemade Holidays - It's Finally Here!!

Way More Homemade

As I thought about this post in between batches of (non homemade) cookies for Nathan’s Thanksgiving feast for his daycare class, I thought a lot about how different things are today than when we first started out. How traditions have changed for us in the last few years.

When we got married we followed the traditions of our families of origin. It wasn’t until a couple of years into marriage that we began establishing our own family traditions. And not until our children were born before they truly began to take hold.

Yes, the landscape of what our holidays look like is very different from the time we were first married. And different from our own childhoods. And yet, very familiar as both Mike and I draw upon our families of origin and weave good things from our own childhoods among those new traditions we have begun.

So, you see, all our holidays are homemade. Whether or not you cook an extravagant meal the holiday itself along with your family’s traditions is homemade. No two families or their experiences are the same.

I can’t tell you how much I look forward to hearing maybe some things from your childhood, or even just a story from last year. I love to hear what other people’s traditions are and I love the food we enjoy this time of year. So, Mr. Linky up, turn on some Christmas music, grab yourself a cup of hot chocolate or apple cider and enjoy this right along with me.

And I’d better see a recipe for that green fluffy stuff that I see periodically at family gatherings. I still have no idea what it is.

**As with most blog carnivals, don’t forget to put the link of your specific post, not just your blog address. You can click on the title of your post and the address line of your browser will show the address of that specific post. Just copy and paste it into the 2nd space of the Mr. Linky below with your name or blog name in the 1st space. **

8:45 am Updated to add: Ok, I know the Mr. Linky is now gone. It was there this morning... and we even had someone playing along... Thanks KIM!! I don't know where it went and can't even get on the Mr. Linky website. So bear with me. Grr... I have enough of a real-life headache to have to deal with a blog one as well.

My Way More Homemade Holidays

Ahh. The Holidays.

I usually hate when people say Happy Holidays, but it is an all encompassing thing to say, isn’t it?


I'm late with my post as I had a fairly consuming headache most of the last week. I feel, though, like I have finally come out of the fog. Better late than never, right?

I have been trying to think back to stories from my childhood and I really haven’t come up with a whole lot. At least not a lot that would make any sense to just tell.

Most of our family traditions revolved around Christmas. As I looked back through all our old family photo albums, I didn’t not see any pictures that seemed to be from Thanksgiving each year. It’s probably because Thanksgiving took a little bit of a back seat to deer season. That was always the weekend that dad took one of us hunting.

Yes, I went deer hunting as a little girl.

And I enjoyed it.

But Christmas… Oh Christmas was full of tradition for us. We’d go to my Nana & Pawpaw P’s house on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning was almost always spent at home. Then Christmas Day it was back out to Nana & Pawpaw K’s house. Each event involved its own set of stories, traditions and, of course, food.

Nana P was the cook of the family. Nobody, I mean nobody, could make a chocolate pie like my Nana P. With the mile high meringue… oh my… whipped cream on top just doesn’t compare. My oldest sister, DD, is getting pretty good at it, though. And Nana K, bless her heart, she ALWAYS burned the rolls. Or maybe she did just once, but it seemed like she always forgot about them. Or maybe not, but we ALWAYS made fun of her for it.

It seems like poking fun was always a family tradition around my house, not matter what the occasion.

One thing that we always look forward to even still is our family game of Monopoly. We stay up late Christmas night after all the food, presents and everything is over and play until the last “man” is standing. I probably don’t have to tell you that it can get ugly sometimes. My mom usually gets disgusted and tries to lose after the first 30 minutes. Dad and my oldest sister, DD, are the most cut-throat about it. My middle sister, DN, and I just try to keep up.

The earliest occasion of us playing our annual Christmas game that I found photographically documented was 1983.

(That's me on the left in that AWESOME argyle sweater-vest. I probably got it that day as a gift from my mom. That's my oldest sister DD on the right. She was a senior in high school at the time and I'm sure was just thrilled to be hanging with the family playing Monopoly.)

And as our family has grown to include our husbands, so did the game. We even have some of our kids playing with us now.

Several years ago, my dad decided that he was tired of the “traditional” turkey or ham at Christmas. We do traditional at Thanksgiving… but we mix it up at Christmas. And it’s usually barbecue, which in Texas means brisket, and in my family it also means ribs. So, needless to say, there’s a lot of leftover rib eatin’ during the Monopoly playin’.

Now, jumping over to my hubbie’s side of the family… I wasn’t there, so I don’t know many of their traditions. But their food… I know their food. In his words the other day, “If I have turkey, crescent rolls and purple stuff, I’m set.”

“What’s purple stuff,” you ask?

It is his family’s favorite gelatin salad that makes its appearance each year at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We can’t have the holidays without it. And it is, in fact, purple. (And I think technically the name is actually Bing Cherry Jell-O, but call it that around our house and nobody’ll know what you’re talking about.) You can find a recipe here.

As you can imagine, I’d love to cook the entire Thanksgiving and Christmas meal every year. But that’s not how families work at the holidays, is it? It’s almost always a coordinated group effort. I’ll cook the turkey, you bring the rolls and green beans kind of thing.

Last year, I did get to cook the bird as we had Mike’s entire family over to our house. I was large and in charge.

Well, I hope not the large part.

I hate to admit it, but this is what you get when I’m in charge of the bird.


It was actually quite delicious and I used this recipe.

This year we’re going to my Aunt’s house for Thanksgiving and we have yet to finalize any plans for Christmas. So my cooking role is much smaller. But I’m still making a big “Fat Apple Pie” as Mike has named it.

We have made some of our own traditions since having our children. One of my personal favorites is our Happy Birthday Jesus cake. We’ll make the cake on Christmas Eve and depending on when in the day we actually make it, we’ll either decorate it that evening or Christmas morning. Then on Christmas morning, we add candles, sing Happy Birthday, and have cake for breakfast.

We so desire to teach our children about giving to others as a way to show our thanks to God. We make it a point to participate in Operation Christmas Child each year. We also put all extra change in one jar as a way to save money year-round to use for the less fortunate. We hope that in the next couple of years, once Nathan is a little older, that we can begin to help at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen during the holidays as one more way to teach this lesson to our children.

We look forward to the many other traditions we will build in the coming years as our children grow up. And I look forward to how they will build traditions with their own families.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Soccer... star?

The soccer season is over.

Here, let me say it again, in case you didn't hear me.


All we have left is a little party tonight at a not so great pizza place.

I tell ya, I was looking forward to this being our last season of soccer for a while. With "a while" defined as "forever."

Last year was our first with soccer and after both fall and spring seasons, we were fairly convinced that it was not going to be her thing. You know how you get a feeling for if your kid has some natural ability with a particular activity or sport. Well, we didn't have that feeling about soccer for Sarah. So I had told her that she could play this fall then maybe we would try something else in the spring.

She was on a different team this year. When it came time to sign up for this fall, I asked her if she wanted to stay on the same team as last year or try a different team with a different coach. I honestly didn't know what she would say, but was actually a little glad when she said she wanted to go to a different team. Out of curiosity I asked her why. "So that I can meet some new people," was her response. Well, alright then.

So, instead of the Jets, she was on the Sabre Toothed Tigers. A friend of ours from church was the coach and his son, who is Sarah's age was on the team.

And you know how I said we thought soccer just wasn't her thing? Well, she came into her own this fall and began to show an aggressive side on the field. Especially as defender or goalie. Those are her favorite positions but her coach this fall found her to be versatile as a forward as well.

My dreams of no soccer in the spring are feeling a little dashed.

She also quite enjoyed the fact that she was the only girl on the team. This was a fact that she only realized after the first game and all the other parents called her by name as they were telling her "Good game." "How did you know my name?" she asked. One of them responded with, "Well, you are the only girl on the team, so it's pretty easy to remember your name."

From then on she never let us forget that, "Everybody knows my name because I'm the only girl on the team."

What a miss priss.

And with a name like the Sabre Toothed Tigers, clearly, when they played in the semi-finals of the tournament, they absolutely needed some tiger stripes. It's currently almost a week later and there are still traces of orange on her scalp from the orange hair spray.

Yes, you read that right. Her team was in the semi-finals. It was really quite shocking to the parents. This team may not have won a single game last year. But, they came together and did a great job this year.

Did I happen to mention that this semi-final game was at 9 o'clock am last Saturday morning? And did I mention that it was like 10 degrees out side? (Or maybe 50... but a wind chill of like 10)

I wore my ski jacket.

And cheered for my soccer star.

Because EVERYBODY knows her name.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday Report in list form

1. Work is crazy busy right now.

2. Life is crazy busy right now.

3. You may not see me much around blog land because work and life are crazy busy right now.

4. Oh Aggies.... dear Aggies. I love you. But, Baylor? Seriously? Our pastor and church membership who are Baylor fans were very merciful yesterday in spite of their t-shirts commemorating Saturday's events. Yes, the Baylor team has historically been so bad, that they printed up t-shirts for one victory.

5. I have a 3 year old little boy who doesn't seem to know the meaning of staying well through Sunday so that he can go to "school" (daycare) on Monday.

6. Don't forget Way More Homemade Holidays coming up on Friday!!!

Way More Homemade

Yes, 6 is a weird number, but it is what it is today.

I'm out.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Foodie Friday - Carnitas

There is a lot going on in blogland right now. So, don't forget about Way More Homemade Holidays coming up NEXT FRIDAY!!

You can grab the code underneath the button over on the side bar and just drop it into an html gadget on your side bar. And what a cute button it is, no? Many thanks to Sarah at Real Life Design.

I really am looking forward to it and think it's going to be some fun.

And oh, I may need to start working on my own post. Whaddaya think?

I do know of one recipe I'm going to share. It's from my man's family and it's something they look forward to every year. If I don't stop myself now, then I'll just write my whole post about that dish, when I really have something else in mind



By a show of hands, who out there likes Chipotle?

Oh we do. We, all four of us (six if you include the dogs), love it. We've been going there for years.

It was first introduced to me as a decent alternative to Freebirds.

"What is a Freebirds?" you ask. Well, it's a really good Chipotle.

Freebirds is little divey spot on Northgate just off the A&M Campus in College Station. I'm honestly not sure where the first one appeared, but it really took off both in C.S. and in Austin. You know... lots of food for not much money. Perfect for the starving college student... who still had really high metabolism and was walking miles between classes every day. It's one of those places that you must visit when you go back to your college town. And we'd look forward to it any time we went.

They have expanded since the "old days" and within the last couple of years, a Freebirds opened here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Now there are 5. But alas, there is still none anywhere near my house.

So, with a location at every major shopping hub in town, Chipotle it is.

I have a usual. We all do. Kind of like Pei Wei. We all usually get approximately the same thing. Mike will either get a burrito or a bol (contents of the burrito in a bowl... just spelled weird) with rice, ranch style beans, barbacoa (spicy shredded beef), pico de gallo, hot sauce, cheese, and lettuce. I vary a little more than him... maybe a burrito or a bol or a salad... it depends on how good I'm being. I'll get chicken or barbacoa, black beans, roasted corn salsa, sour cream, cheese, and guacamole. We learned early on that the carnitas (shredded pork) is the least spicy of all the meats. So we usually get that for the kids in the form of soft tacos.

I have experimented at home some over the last couple of years and come up with a pretty good version of barbacoa. I haven't made it recently, so I haven't written it down. I'll do that sometime soon for you.

However, my good friends at, you guessed it, Cook's Illustrated have done it again. An incredible recipe for Carnitas was in the May/June 2008 issue. I made it this week and WOW. Good stuff. And easy, albeit slow. This isn't a throw together in five minutes meal. but it's not a lot of muss and fuss either.

Here it is (along with some of my own notes in italics)...

Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)

1 3 1/2 - 4 pound boneless pork butt, fat cap trimmed to 1/8 think, cut into 2-inch chunks (My grocer didn't have boneless. I trimmed a bunch of meat off and left a bunch on the bone and cooked that right along with everything else. The rest of the meat just fell right off the bone with no problem.)
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 small onion, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons juice from 1 lime
2 cups water
1 medium orange, halved
(I think next time I'm going to add a minced seeded jalapeno to the mix just to see what happens)

Heat oven to 300 F. Combine pork, salt, pepper, cumin, onion, bay leaves, oregano, lime juice, and water in large Dutch oven (liquid should just barely cover meat). Juice orange into medium bowl and remove any seeds (you should have about 1/3 cup juice). Add juice and spent orange halves to pot. (I failed to get an orange at the store, so I just used 1/3 cup orange juice from my fridge and added some dried orange peel from my spice cabinet for good measure.) Bring mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until meat is soft and falls apart when prodded with fork, about 2 hours, flipping pieces of meat once during cooking. (Flipping during cooking... yeah, right. I put this bad boy in the oven then left the house for two hours. It was fine. Some of the pieces were a little stuck together, but they came right apart.)

Remove pot from oven and turn oven to broil. Using slotted spoon transfer pork to bowl; remove orange halves, onion, and bay leaves from cooking liquid and discard (do not skim fat from liquid). Place pot over high heat (use caution, as handles will be very hot) (that's your disclaimer for the day, ladies and gentlemen) and simmer liquid, stirring frequently, until thick and syrupy (heat safe spatula should leave wide trail when dragged through glaze), 8 to 12 minutes. You should have about 1 cup reduced liquid. (My pork rendered more liquid than probably normal because of the bone and extra fat and meat. My sauce never got to the thick and syrupy stage. I dont' know how crucial this is... in my oh so humble opinion... it's no biggie.)

Using 2 forks, pull each piece of pork in half. Fold in reduced liquid; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread pork in even layer on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet or on broiler pan (meat should cover entire surface) (And if you're me, you may cover the entire surface twice.) Place on lower-middle rack of oven and broil until top of meat is well browned (but not charred) and edges are slightly crisp, 5-8 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, slip pieces of meat and continue to broil, looking for the same results. Serve immediately with warm tortillas and garnishes.

Ideas for serving & garnishes:

Warm flour or corn tortillas (Do you know how to warm corn tortillas? Spray with Pam and wrap in foil and place in the oven for just a little while.)
Lime wedges
Pico De Gallo (tomatoes, onion, cilantro & jalapeno chiles)
One Minute Salsa
Slices or chucks of avocado
Rice (flavored with some fresh cilantro and lime juice)
Use as stuffing for enchiladas or tamales (and if you make your own tamales, please come and see me!!)

Now, go make some carnitas.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Election Thoughts - The Habit I Want to Choose

I know that the election was over a week ago. I know that I’m late to the “election post” party. But with my limited time to write and the way I process, it’s taken this long for me to get my thoughts down on paper. Or screen. Or whatever.

So our President-Elect Barak Obama is headed to the White House. How about that. I can’t say that I am one bit surprised.

Let’s just think about it for a minute.

He's eloquent. He's visionary. He's a leader.

I get it.

I really do. I understand why so many "undecided" voters voted for him.

Even I, a staunch conservative Republican, found myself listening to Mr. Obama during the campaign and nodding and saying, "Yeah." Only to wake up out of a seeming trance, shake my head and ask myself, "WHAT on earth just happened?"

I agree that it is very easy to get behind someone who casts vision. Who makes you feel like someone else is responsible for all your problems. Who makes you think he has the answers.

And, I think that we, as Republicans ran a sorry campaign. I was very disappointed in the Republican/McCain campaign this election cycle. As we debated one day recently (like we often do) I told Mike, "I can't tell what he believes. I don't think HE knows what he believes."

At a time of uncertainty, when people want vision and direction, Republicans offered neither.

They tried. Kind of.

Sure you can try to blame the news media bias for Mr. Obama, because it certainly was there. But I was listening for a message. I was uninspired. Imagine what the “undecideds” out there thought.

And yes, Mrs. Palin energized the campaign. For a short while. I like her, don’t get me wrong. But it was not enough.

I will say this as a positive side note: I believe that as the election results were confirmed that Tuesday evening, we as the United States of America, were an incredible example to the rest of the world that a drastic change in power can happen peacefully. That's what sets us apart from so much of the rest of the world. We were a shining example that free elections can happen and it works. Not always in our favor, but it works. And it made me love America all over again.

Now the question is, “What’s next?”

From a political point of view, I believe our Republican leadership has their work cut out for them over the next year. They have exactly that, one year, to dream and craft a vision and direction. At that point, you have to start effectively communicating that vision in anticipation of the congressional elections coming up in 2010.

We as constituents and citizens also have a job to keep an eye on our local governments and Washington. Get on the email list of any local, state, and national legislators that you can. Get your nose into what they’re doing. Let them know when you agree and when you disagree.

From a personal and spiritual standpoint, I have been under such conviction these last several days.

We are studying the Life of Moses in BSF this year and have recently been in the section of Exodus that talks about Israel’s grumbling right after their deliverance out of Egypt. How like the Israelites we can become when things don’t go our way.

I can see how we, as Republicans might feel like we are in the desert in the coming years. And it will be very easy to fall into a pattern of complaining and grumbling about the current leadership. Grumbling and complaining (or whining as I call it to my children) accomplishes nothing other than to make us feel even worse about the situation at hand. As we repeat those thoughts, especially out loud, they just get more and more ingrained into us while effectively accomplishing nothing more than making us bitter.

However, as Republicans, we need to remember how it has felt the last 6 or so years as the Democrats have lambasted Mr. Bush and Republicans in general with all manner of personal attacks. And even more, as Christians we need to be on our guard against such behavior, guarding against a root of bitterness. (See an incredible non-political post about a root of bitterness at Traveling the Road Home.)

In closing, just a few thoughts:

There is sometimes a fine line between constructive criticism/attacking the issues and grumbling while personally smearing the President. Let us guard against crossing that line.

Let us remember that when we grumble, as Israel did against Moses, we are really grumbling against the Lord.

And finally, rather than choosing to rehearse the sin of grumbling and whining and allowing it to become habit, let us choose to rehearse faith. Let THAT become our habit.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A line beyond all lines

Do you ever have those days when your child/children just don't cooperate with your schedule? Of course you do... if you're a mom.

It seems like a daily occurence, doesn't it?

Well, on this particular day, Nathan had slept in until 9 am. We had no place to be, so the sleeping was just fine with me. We normally would have been out the door already to go to BSF, but I knew he was getting sick and I was planning to take him to the doctor anyways.

We did finally go to the doctor at 11 and, as we had suspected, a nasty group a streptacoccus had taken up residency in his throat.

So after leaving the doctor's office, a couple of errands and dropping off his perscription, we went home to eat some lunch and have a nap before heading back out to pick Sarah up from school at 3.

When 2:20 rolled around and he still wasn't asleep for his nap, I was frustrated. But let it not be said of me that I'm not flexible. I knew at this point I didn't want him to fall asleep because we were going to have to leave to go pick up Sarah real soon. So we went on ahead to the grocery store and to pick up his prescription and we'd pick Sarah up on our way home.

So by the time we finished at the store and were on our way to the school, it was only 2:45. School's not out until 3, but there didn't seem to be any point in going home to just turn right back around.

Please understand that I'm usually leaving work at 3 to pick her up. So I'm not normally there until 3:15. Which is fine because the school has asked that people wait a little while and reminded us several times at the beginning of the year that we have until 3:20 to pick the children up.

So looking at the time I thought, "WOW, I'll be like the first one in line. Sarah will be SO surprised."

Boy was I wrong.

Seriously people. I got there at 2:45. Why on earth are there so many people in line?

I will say that it's a fairly well-oiled machine. Once the kids are out there, it moves pretty quick. I had Sarah in the car and we were on our way by 3:05.

But good grief. I know that people end up in the same situation I did with not having time to go home or do anything before school is out. But my understanding is that this is not a one time occurence. I think it's like this every stinkin' day.

I'll stick to my 3:15 time-slot that consists of just driving right up, thankyouverymuch.

What is pick-up like at your kids' school?

Monday, November 10, 2008

When you can see that they get it

When we moved to Virginia in the summer of 2004, we had an extremely difficult time finding a new church home. We loved our church in Texas so much and therefore had some pretty high and specific expectations. Many were “negotiable.” Some were not.

One of the things that was a “non-negotiable” for us was not only a welcoming spirit toward children at the church with programming for them, but also in the worship service itself. There were many churches we visited where we just sensed that our child would not be welcome in the worship service.

Let me explain.

I sense that there is a movement among many churches to have a separate “Children’s Church” away from the adults. While I can see the usefulness of such a program in certain situations, it is not something that Mike and I are interested in for our children. We believe that we are the ones best suited to teach our children what corporate worship is all about. And that is best done with them at our side on Sunday mornings in the worship service.

At the time of our move, Sarah was 3 ½ and we were already beginning to introduce her to our corporate worship service. So, imagine my surprise when at one church in Virginia, (which will remain unnamed) we were told that we really weren’t supposed to bring our child into the worship service. But, if we did, we were expected to sit behind a certain area. Not up closer to the front where the child is more likely to be able to pay attention and stay engaged… NOOO… let’s shove all the kids to the back where they’ll likely be more disruptive.

But I’m not bitter or anything.

Not me.

Needless to say, we never returned to that church. And I wrote a letter to the pastor. I’m still waiting for a reply… four years later.

I read a book several years ago, entitled Parenting in the Pew, when we were starting on this journey with Sarah. It not only helped me form some of my opinions on the subject, but also gave me some wonderful guidance as what exactly to do. How the rubber meets the road kind of thing.

Much of the author’s point (from what I remember), and where I completely agree with her, is that our children need us as parents to guide them in what corporate worship is. They need to see and experience things like baptisms and the Lord’s Supper with their parents. They need to see their parents worshipping the Most High God.

There is no better teacher my children have than me because God has given that responsibility to me as the parent. Period.

We are several years into the teaching process with Sarah and just embarking on the journey with Nathan now that he is three. It can be extremely frustrating at times. And then there are times like this morning.

I sat with my children on either side of me. We were sitting at the Lord’s table together, as a family. Sarah gently helped me hold my communion cup. Nathan, the inquisitive three year old, grilled his dad on what everything was with question upon question.

And then, as we stood in prayer at one point, my sweet seven year old daughter dropped to her knees in prayer.

And I thank my Savior that I was the one next to her to bear witness that in the Holy Spirit’s leading, she is getting it.

She is getting it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Foodie Friday - What Adults Do

My man and I found ourselves in an interesting situation last weekend. We had no kids.

Sarah had an early morning soccer game, which was a nice switch from all the 1 pm games she has had all season. It really cuts into the middle of the day at 1 pm. His mom came up to attend the game and while the adults in the family had already decided that the kids would spend the night with her, Sarah thought she was so smart and that she came up with the idea herself.

I don't remember how it all went down, but it ended with Sarah asking if they both could go spend the night with Nanny and we said they would have to ask her... of course she said yes and off they went.

I spent the better part of the day scrapbooking, which if you'll remember, I mentioned recently that I had not done any in, oh, the last YEAR.

So then we came to Saturday evening. We looked at each other and said, "What do adults do when they don't have kids around?"

(Besides the obvious, of course.)


We decided that we were so concerned about sitting across the table from one another and having to make an attempt at conversation that we needed to invite some friends on a double date. As we waited to hear from them we discussed what we might go and do and where we might want to eat.

Dairy Queen was pretty far up on my list as you might expect.

However, once we did talk to our friends, an upscale evening was decided upon and we were on our way downtown.

Our evening consisted of dinner at Reata and then the improvisational comedy show Four Day Weekend.

A couple of things you should know:

1) Reata is a little pricey... very nice, but in a down to earth Fort Worth kind of way.

2) It would not have normally come up as a place to go because a)we had never been there before and b) it's a little pricey.

3) Our friend, Glenn, used to wait tables there back before the May 28, 2000 tornado when it was still on the top floors of a building downtown. It has since moved since they were originally I think planning to implode the building because it was so badly damaged.

So, my take on Reata.

Oh. my. soul. If you want a nice time out and enjoy some really good food, this is your place. I started off with a cup (aka bowl) of tortilla soup. Mike had a steak that in his words was "like buttah." I enjoyed a Chicken Chile Rellenos that was unlike anything I'd ever tasted before.

I'll admit, I've lived in Texas nearly all my life (except for that random 1 1/2 year stint in Virginia when I happened to give birth to a child outside of our great state... ahem). However, I never been just itchin' to try chile rellenos. Never had it. It never looked or sounded appetizing before. Until last Saturday. Now this will be the "gold standard" of chile rellenos for me from here on out.

If you don't know what on earth I'm talking about, chile rellenos is a stuffed pepper - usually poblano or aneheim. In my research, most recipes show the peppers roasted (or blistered) to get the skin off, stuffed with cheese, battered and fried.

The whole fried thing I think is what turned me off in the past.

Or maybe it was the fact that the first place I ever saw one was at Rancho's Mexican Barfet when I was 10.

Anyways, the one I had at Reata was not fried (I'm guessing oven roasted) and it was stuffed with a shredded chicken stuffing that was marvelous and topped with some sour cream and what the menu termed Roasted Corn Chowder.

I don't have a recipe to share with you, however this link has a recipe, method ideas and a video for chile rellenos.

And you know what, we even had some dessert. You wanna know what we had? Take two things I love most in the world and put them together.

Dessert Tacos.

The shells seemed like they were some hardened caramelized sugar that was curved like a crispy taco shell with a filling, caramelized bananas and chocolate "gravy." Oh yeah. Chocolate gravy.

After being blessed by such an incredible meal, we had to walk around a bit before going to the improv show, which was, by the way, hilarious.

A night on the town.

Without kids.

And that is what adults do.

Have you been on a date recently with your spouse? What did y'all do? And do you have a recipe for chile rellenos? I'd love to see what you do.

Happy Friday and happy weekend y'all.

Don't forget to be planning for Way More Homemade Holidays on November 21st.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Introducing: Way More Homemade Holidays

November has begun, people. And do you know what that means? Thanksgiving and Christmas are mere weeks away.

Now this... THIS is MY favorite time of year. It's full of family, friends, and... well, of course FOOD. And as I've said before, nothing makes food better than for it to be paired with great company and fellowship.

It is based upon these thoughts that I decided that I will host my very first blog carnival.

Way More Homemade Holidays
November 21, 2008

Way More Homemade

I'd like for us to share snapshots of our Christmas or Thanksgiving. Here are some ideas to consider as you think about your post:

* Tell us what it is like around your dinner table during the holidays.

* Do you spend it with family? Friends? All or none of the above?

* If your family is not close by, do you travel to see them or do they come to you?

* Share your favorite Thanksgiving or Christmas memories. Funny or sentimental.

* Show us some pictures of your traditions from holidays past. Do you have hopes for future traditions with your family?

* And most certainly share about your holiday food. Does your Aunt Fern make fluffy pink stuff? Does your grandma made a pecan pie to die for? Is there something that maybe no other family on earth, it seems, eats at the holidays that your family for some reason loves?

* Or maybe you do the cooking and you'd like to share your menu.

So, be thinking about what you are going to post and be ready on Friday, November 21st. I'll have a Mr. Linky (my FIRST EVER) up that day and all weekend and you can link your post right here.
The button is over on the side bar for you to grab and put on your blog. Pass the word... I think it will be fun to see other people's traditions, stories, and FOOD!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Maybe it was time.

On a little family trip to Target the other day, we stocked up on some essentials. Both the kids needed some new jeans for the fall and Sarah was in need of a certain costume for Halloween.

While we were there, I noticed this neat little mat on the floor for measuring children's feet. So, I casually suggested to Mike that we might want to measure Nathan's foot. He was wearing through his little tennis shoes that I got for him... oh, I don't even know when.

His foot measured 2 sizes bigger than the size of his current tennis shoes.

When we found some shoes in the size he needed, we compared.

I'm not quite mom of the year material, am I?

But, he's very proud of his new shoes. He has gone around showing everyone...

"See, I can finally walk without my toes curled up at the end of my shoes."

The funny thing is that he never complained about the smaller shoes being too small.

How on earth do they grow so fast? And why can I not keep up?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Who's going to The West Wing?

I spent all day Monday trying to decide what to post for election day.

Well, not all day exactly. But at least five minutes.

Here's what I've got.

I love "The West Wing." I only found out recently that Bravo was airing re-runs of the show in the mornings once again. I spent all evening watching re-run "West Wing" episodes that I had DVR'ed from Monday morning. I didn't think it was possible, but they were actually episodes that we had not seen.

They must have been pulled from the un-aired episode vault or something.

Mike and I got turned onto West Wing unfortunately toward the end of its prime time run. It was probably early in season 5 (there were 7 seasons total) in 2003-2004. At that point, Bravo was already airing re-runs.

We'd settle in on Monday evenings with some cream cheese stuffed jalapenos (not homemade, but the frozen ones from a box), an almost frozen slushy Dr. Pepper and our weekly West Wing marathon. It became our Monday ritual, especially after moving to Northern Virgina. The whole living "next door" to the President thing as well as not knowing anyone else in the area led us to find politically charged entertainment.

(That's also the time period that we really started watching the Daily Show and when the Colbert Report began... hmm.)

And entertainment it was. Why isn't there good TV like that anymore? Smart. Witty. Assumes you have an education and half a brain. And funny.

The closest thing these days is Boston Legal. Yes, they're full of the "liberal agenda." But, we feel like, if nothing else, it's a dose of reality of what the "other" side thinks. Besides, according to my husband, I'm a liberal anyways, so I just have to get my fix.

I'm really not liberal.

But I think you knew that.

I don't know that there is much of a point here other than to allow me to reminisce about the romantic tension between Josh and Donna. The dry quirky humor of Leo and Toby. The wit of Sam and C.J. The wisdom of Josiah (Jeb) Bartlet and to wistfully pine for a presidential candidate such as he.

Even as a liberal... he was a great TV President.

Bartlet for America!


Seriously, go vote, America. There's no more time to be undecided. The time is now to make your choice.

It's easy to choose the one who sounds good and who makes us feel good inside. Sometimes it's harder to choose to vote for the one who might not be as eloquent, but who lines up more with our true beliefs if we really take a long look at ourselves and what we believe.

I pray you've done your research, America.

I pray you make a wise choice.

And I pray that the Lord show mercy on this great nation.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Just some Halloween goodness

Boo! A couple of days late, I suppose.

This is how our evening started off. In typical 3 year old fashion. Little Man took a late nap and Big Sister just couldn't wait any longer. She woke him up when she peeked into his room. That got things off to a very rocky start for the evening.

If you're thinking that Little Man's costume looks familiar, you're right. It is familiar. It's the same one he wore last year when he was 2. And you know what? It's the same one Big Sister wore when she was both 2 and 3 as well. So this sweet little Old Navy Frog costume has gotten some use in our family. I will actually be sad to see it go. But hopefully it will be to a good home.

Big Sister this year was dressed as Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia Prince Caspian. And anyone who asked her got that exact explanation, usually multiple times. "I'm Lucy from the Chronicles of Narnia Prince Caspian."

As you can see, we did eventually get a decent picture.... but the following was the prize for the evening.

"Sarah Palin and her secret service detail" made an unexpected campaign stop at our church's Festival 31.

I have to tell you, Beth Moore would have been so proud. My hair reached heights that it hasn't seen since our wedding day nearly 13 years ago.

Oh, and mascara makes for a great temporary hair color.

Just in case you were wondering.

Because you never know when you're going to need a tip like that.

And you know me. I love giving out unsolicited advice. It's what I'm best at.