Friday, January 29, 2010

Confession Number Eleven: I Have A Love/Hate Relationship With Cheese

Cheddar, Gouda, American, The Laughing Cow. Yep, I love them all, but that isn't what this post is about. THIS is what this post is about.....

My sister lovingly calls this picture, "The Evil Elf". She really looked evil before I removed the red eye. Whew! You see, this is Kennedy's new "cheeeeese" face when I take her picture. Sometimes it looks like this....

Or sometimes like this...

I love it, because it is pretty stinkin' cute...

I hate it because I haven't taken a good picture without her wrinkled up nose in months...

Now that I think about, I think I'm loving it more and more.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Obsession: Children's Books

When I first started teaching, my mother-in-law gave me some good advice. She told me to become best friends with the custodians, cafeteria workers and the librarians. All were a great help during my teaching years, but I took her words to heart particularly with the librarian. Okay, so she was a bestie even before she was the librarian, but that makes our relationship even more special. Over the years of our friendship she has reinspired my love for reading (even if it is smut), held my hand through lots of research (and fights with the lamination machine) while I was teaching, and, most recently, introduced me to some amazing books for Kennedy. She's gotten Kennedy some great books, right from the beginning. She introduced us to these...

Of which Kennedy now yells and whispers during "Quiet Loud".

And for Kennedy's 2nd birthday she got her this book...

It has some great illustrations...

Kennedy loves the little claymation kids. She just looks at all the pictures and sing to herself.

I found out that Nicci was selling this brand of books, Usborne Books. They specialize in children's books. Even The Pioneer Woman loves them. So, back in the fall I ordered a bunch and gave a few out to friends at Christmas, and saved quite a few for Miss KJ. We got this one...

Kennedy loves turning the hands on the clock. And we got these...

She loves looking at the cute illustrations, but I love that it is helping her with word association, even at 2! But, her favorite is this sticker book.... She LOVES it. You can tell by the bent up edges and stickers protruding out. She will play and play and play. She plays with this sticker book while I cook dinner. Almost every night. Since Christmas. Not bad for $6, right moms? This is her favorite page...
I wish we could jump into this summer picnic with all of the nasty weather coming.

Should I be concerned that she has this pretty little girl double fisting it? In her underwear? Nope. That's iced tea she's drinking, right?

Kennedy loves this sticker book so much, that I decided to buy her some more for Valentine's Day. Then, I decided to host an e-show. So, if you would like to look at all of the awesomeness of Usborne books, check out their site (you have until Feb. 4th). They ship right to your house, super duper fast. Want the whole site? Click on Nicci's email on the site above and she'll hook you up with your own eshow! Now how fancy is that?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Confession Number Ten: She's Figured Me Out

A couple of weeks ago it was colder than a well digger's hello kitty around here. I would blame it on Dustin moving us to the Arctic Circle, but, well, it was dang cold just about everywhere. It amazes me that in the fall we think 60 is chilly and in the winter 40 sometimes feels down right amazing. That is how cold it was here. We are talking -4 degrees, people! 25 would have felt great.

It was so cold that KJ and I spent the better part of a week stuck indoors. I guess I should just be happy that we didn't have to get out in the cold, cold weather. After a couple of days I started getting a little cabin fever. This sickness is normal anytime I don't get out of the house to at least fight the crowds at the grocery store or wander around the Walgreens cheap gifts section. I think Kennedy was getting it, too. We were grouchy and tired of coloring and playing blocks. So, in my infinite wisdom I sat her down in my lap one afternoon (because this was also about the time she started looking at me and laughing when I said it was naptime) and pulled out the laptop. We pittaled (okay, I think that is a word, my mom thinks that is a word, so it is a word. For those of you not from Bray, that means killing time) around awhile and finally settled on PBS Kids online. I didn't realize the extent of what I had done until just the other night....

"Puwease Elmo game, Puwease" Notice the look on my face. That is the "Oh, no. What have I done, face".

"I don't think so Kennedy, it is bedtime. Maybe you and mommy can play Elmo tomorrow." "Puuuwease mommy, puuuuwease" Enters big pout face. "Puuuuwease". I swear, this went on for several minutes. Okay, maybe we drug it out for a while, but it was so stinkin' cute! Who can say no to the pout face?

"Okay, Kennedy, we'll play Elmo once."

"Yea, mommy, yea!!! K play Elmo game!!! Tank you mommy!! Yea!"

Yep.....she's got me all figured out. Sigh.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Obsession: Fajitas

After lots of thought, I've decided to start a new section of "Confessions". I've run across a few things around the house here lately where I have thought, "this product is great! I wish everyone knew how wonderful it was!". So, I decided to introduce you to "Obsessions", my community service project for the world. Okay, maybe it won't fit into that category, but hopefully it will introduce you to a few new things that will make your life easier.

For me to fall in love with something it has to be special. It can't be too wildly expensive and it has to serve some purpose. Does it make my life easier? Does it add happiness or purpose to my life? Is it something we need? Does it spur a memory or special feeling? In short, I will try to not waste your time by talking about junk. It will truly be something that I think you will love.

All of that being said, here is my first Obsession: Fajitas

When we left Piedmont, we left behind some wonderful neighbors, and while we miss them something terrible, one of the things I miss the most is sharing meals with them. Scott loves to cook, and as many of you know, I enjoy being in the kitchen most of the time myself, so we hit it off right from the start. Scott's specialty is grilling and mine is baking, so we made a great pair. He makes some mean chicken fajitas, and while I love them, I really like some beef in my fajita mix, too. So, I was on a mission to find something that would be an easy addition to our fiesta. It was on a random trip to Braum's that I found these:

Now, I'm normally not real big on prepackaged foods. They are high in sodium, and for the most part, just aren't all that good, but on the day I found these I was in the need for a quick and easy dinner idea. These are REAL beef, seasoned and already cooked. All you have to do is warm them up in a skillet. They are really, really good and super easy. Scott and Shelli even approved them as a new member to our fajita party. I've even got my mom and Lynn stuck on them. And Lynn is snobby about his beef. I'm not saying that tacky....he's a cattle rancher....he knows his stuff, and they now use these.

Last Friday night I was tired and Dustin and I were busy setting up my new washing machine (and doing the 10 loads that comes with not having done laundry in almost two weeks), so I knew I needed something easy for dinner. I have kind of been in a cooking rut since leaving Piedmont, which it has been since we lived there that I made these. These were even better than I remembered! I sliced up some onion and threw it in my cast iron skillet with a little bit of olive oil, then added some bell peppers. I had chopped ones in the freezer, so that is what I used. After those got nice and soft, I threw in the beef and let it all get to know each other for a few minutes. Serve with tortillas and all of the fajita toppings, and you've got yourself one yummy, and simple dinner. Here is what it looked like when I was done working my magic....

You can get these in beef or in chicken at Braum's. It takes one bag to feed the three of us, but Kennedy and I don't eat a whole lot and before too long, we will be upgrading to two bags. I've never tried the chicken fajitas, as Scott blessed us with his recipe before leaving Piedmont, and I simply don't think you can beat it. Nutritionally, these aren't horrible. They are high in sodium (about 20% per serving), but that is to be expected in a Mexican convenience food. Cost wise, you can't beat it, under $4 a bag! I also think I've seen them at Sam's if you are feeding a crowd. A great addition to have in your arsenal when you are dead tired and all of those little faces are still looking up at you asking what's for dinner. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Confession Number Nine: Hello, My Name is Charla and I'm a Complainer

I may complain about not having a house of our own. I may complain about using my brain power for nothing more than constructing a "high tower" with Kennedy and her blocks. I may complain about the subcontractors not working in subzero weather to build my house. How dare they want to stay warm! I may complain about having to cook and clean up three meals a day. I may complain that my washing machine is rusting and I'm being taken over with laundry until the new one gets here. I complain a lot. Too much. Hello, my name is Charla and I'm a complainer.

I really don't have anything worth complaining about. I'm so blessed. I'm blessed to have a home and doubly blessed to be building a new one that many people would only dream about. I'm blessed to be able to share in the little, daily moments with my daughter. I've learned so much about her in the last few months. I'm blessed to have enough clothes to make it a week and a half without a washing machine! My point being is that God is good!!! And, boy, have we all been reminded of his blessings lately. I often wonder why God decided that I can live a life where I actually consider complaining about cooking and cleaning up three healthy meals a day, while millions of people are living in horrible poverty, not even knowing if they will get clean drinking water today. not knowing if their family members are dead or alive. Not knowing how to get health care for their children. But the complaining still seeps out every now and then. I guess it is human nature.

One of the things that I get down in the dumps about quite often is that when we packed up all of our belongings and hiked it up I-44 we made the space between our friends and families even greater. Well, this past weekend we were reminded that a few hours on the turnpike is nothing and that spending time with old friends and family is one of the greatest blessings God has given us.

We made a whirlwind trip around Oklahoma this weekend seeing a handful of friends and spending lots of time with our wild and crazy family. The weekend started with a date night for us while Kennedy got all caught up with Marcie, Hannah and Dalton. She had sooo much fun! It is crazy to think that Marcie hadn't seen her since her birthday party. When we left I looked over at Dustin and for the 1000th time mentioned how wonderful it was to have someone we loved so much be able to keep our girl day in and day out. I miss her!! I respect her even more now. We love you Ms. Marcie!

Next, we were able to spend the night at Hotel Smith. KJ absolutely loves spending time with Scott, Shelli and "Sawser". I'm starting to wonder if Kennedy is more excited to play with Sawyer or all of Sawyer's toys. It is like Toys R Us exploded in their house. The girls absolutely drug out everything and it didn't matter at all. I loved it! Shelli and I even got to spend some time doing what we do best....wandering about Target. I couldn't help but get a few fun shots of Miss Sawyer Grace. She's growing up so fast. She's quite a thinker........

I'm not quite sure she can do anything without those fingers in her mouth, though. :-) I know a little something about the obsession little girls have with their fingers. I get lost in those blue eyes. Whew! You better get that shot gun ready, Scott. Of course, she may keep all of the boys away with those "go to...." looks she shoots every once in a while.

After a fun night and morning in Piedmont we skedattled on down HE Bailey to my parent's farm in Bray. It was Papa Lynn's 65th birthday and Weezie had planned quite the little surprise party for him. After a ton of little white lies to get him out of the house, we finally arrived to a whole host of family members there to help wish him Happy Medicare Day! Do you think we had our hands full with all of these kiddos.......Oh, and don't forget this one....Doesn't he just ooze boy? And orneriness? And cuteness? And once again, those blue eyes...oh, those eyes!! Finally, Papa Lynn got to see his birthday cake Mom had worked so hard on getting just right. Everyone sang Happy Birthday...except for Kennedy who sang the ABC's. Hmmm. She still has a little to learn.Here is the sweet little couple....I don't even WANT to know what "sweet nothings" she is whispering in his ear! Well, Weezie, at least we know your cake was a hit. Kennedy loved it! And momma hated the red icing! Look at that hand holding the spoon... Can you see it? Tucked in there between her thumb and fingers? Yep, her whole palm was red, not to mention her face. I promise that is icing and not a bloody nose! Note to self: red icing is almost as bad as black.

We had a great time, even at Lynn's expense. Here is Heather presenting her Daddy with a "toast" for his 65th Birthday....The ladies even had a great time. I'm not sure what Mom and Margie found so funny, but this shot was too cute not to share. The evening was FULL of family. Even crazy family. Well, my family is always crazy. It is just part of who we are. We all had a great time helping celebrate a special event. It was worth the trip. Our weekend didn't end there. From Bray we went to Shawnee, where we spent time with Dustin parents, Mimi and Papa Jerry. Why is it that when a kid enters the picture, parents become Momma and Daddy and grandparents lose their names, too? Hmmm. They had come up to spend the weekend with Dustin's aunt and uncle and cousins. Wow. Did Kennedy have a great time or what! She kept Maddie and Dalton on their toes all day Sunday! Playing with all their Dollar Tree finds and hide and go seek were a big part of the day. I hate that we only see them a couple of times a year. I guess that part of the trip was way busy, because I didn't even get a single picture! I'll try better next time, I promise!

Well, you see, I am quite the complainer when things don't go my way, but the truth is there is not a whole lot to complain about. I am surrounded by the ones I love, have food, water, shelter and we are all healthy. We truly are blessed. I'm not going to promise to stop complaining all together, that might be impossible (and Dustin wouldn't know what to do), but I do promise to spend more time focusing on the blessings in my life and thanking God for what he has given.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Confession Number Eight: I'm Turning Into a Tree Hugger

I know, I know. I'm turning into one of "those" people. I'm going to start wearing big, long flowy skirts and let my hair grow way long. Okay, maybe not, but this morning, as I was cleaning, it dawned on me that I really was turning into someone who is, at the very least, environmentally conscience. What? Me? The one who drives an Avalanche and dumps her excess cooking grease on the ground out behind the apartment? Yep. Sigh. It's amazing what you'll do to make the world a better place for someone you love.....

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not going off the deep end with this. I live by the Rachel Ray motto....everything in moderation. However, I try to incorporate easy things in our everyday life that really don't change the way we live at all. I have reusable shopping bags, we recycle, I buy "green" products when I can (and when they aren't crazy expensive), I buy some organic foods, we even own a Hybrid. I figure one Hybrid and one gas guzzling truck offset each other in the world of being eco-friendly. It's like owning one, normal, American made sedan, right?? Okay, maybe my rational doesn't really add up, but the point is that I'm trying.

This morning, while I was on a mini-cleaning spree, I started thinking that there had to be other ways that we could be greener. I was thinking this as I was pouring bleach into the kitchen sink to sanitize Kennedy's blocks....don't ask. I use vinegar to clean the coffee pot, I even used it to clean my microwave today (heat a cup or two of water with a couple of tablespoons of vinegar to boiling in the microwave, then just wipe with a rag), but could I use it, or some other natural source to kill germs? Turns out I can! Now, that won't make my life any more difficult, but it will help....even if just a little bit.

I have found some green products that I love! As any of you mothers out there know, I literally go through a bottle of laundry spot remover every other week...and I only have one kid! This spray seriously works just as well as the other brands I have tried and is made from plant based products. Pretty cool!

So, no, I'm really NOT turning into some crazy lady, but I figure I can do my part to leave the world a little bit better. What is your favorite green tip?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Confession Number Seven: I Had Fun!

I had big plans for this post. BIG PLANS. "The Best of the Cotton Bowl" was going to be the title. It was going to be hilarious. The best and worst dressed of my Cotton Bowl experience, and let me tell you, it was an experience. There were pajama pants, plaid pants, neon orange hunting pants ("dija get one?") and even red legging pants. The last one was probably the worst. No one should stretch red lyrca across their bootie. No matter how young and cute that bootie might be, and she was young and cute....minus the red lycra. Then there were the fur coats and high heels. Talk about two ends of the spectrum. There were Ole Miss fans and OSU fans who were both going to make the list. It would have been perfect footage for What Not To Wear. Then, I guess God started working on my heart, telling me it would be mean. So, I tried to make their faces fuzzy, and I couldn't figure that out, so I decided to just do a post on how much fun we had. And we did have a great time!

We met some of our great friends down in Dallas for a fun filled weekend and a LOT of orange. Orange shirts, orange Pringles, even orange spray cheese made an appearance. Since we are used to an elaborate tailgate before Cowboy football games, we felt like we had to do something. I guess this is the TRUE meaning of tailgate party...

We even had enough room at our parking place to play a little football. I played around with this picture a little bit, and I kinda like it. I love how both of his feet are off the ground.

Of course, this is what kept the big boys entertained.

It really was a beautiful day. We all had on coats, but it wasn't too cold at all. We did visit another tailgate party so Jess could warm up by the grill. Besides, they had real food at their tailgate. Mmmm, pizza. No Redneck Nachos here. Redneck Nachos were a Dustin and Stan concoction. Quit fretting, here is the recipe for those yummy nachos: Take a Frito, I like Scoops for this, generously dip into Frito Lay Bean Dip. Fill the other end of the chip with spray cheese and enjoy! Evidently they are best served with Michelob Ultra or Shiner. Recommended serving size is about 3 don't want any more than that!

I will have to say, the highlight of the trip was visiting Cowboy Stadium, especially since the outcome of the game wasn't much fun for our group. Dustin and I had been there for a Dallas Cowboys game on his birthday, but it is such an incredible building, it is worth it to see it again. Debbie and I decided we loved the reflection of the cars on the side of the building. What a cool shot!

Okay, friends, I know I am a confused little girl when it comes to collegiate sports. I yell Boomer Sooner and make funny pistols with my hands, but I can't help it. It is only part of my identity crisis. I have equal parts crimson and orange in my closet. I actually wore an OU shirt New Years Eve and OSU New Years Day. Can you say Bipolar??? I am a honest to goodness example of one not being able to help who she fell in love with. I mean, look at him...

He's pretty cute, huh girls? Who could resist this face? Even if his favorite color is orange. So, here I am, a little over 7 years later, still spending August-December as confused as can be. Crimson? Orange? So many decisions. Well, this guy decided he was tired of making a choice....

Poor least I'm not that confused. I at least wear mine on different days.

Okay, I've been to a couple of SEC games before, but I have to say, I totally wasn't prepared for what the Runnin' Rebels brought. In the Big XII, when we ladies get ready for a ballgame, we throw on a pair of jeans and a "cute top", tie on our tennis shoes and call it good. Every once in a while, during hot games, I've wanted a cute little dress because they are so much cooler, but I have never seen anything the likes of these Ole Miss ladies. Let me preface these pics by saying, I'm really not trying to be mean. I was just having a hard time trying to figure out if we were at a football game or a gala event.

Notice the cute ruffled red jacket, 3 inch heels, and the fur draped over her arm. Whew!

I think these boots are super cute, but I'd hate to stand and cheer at a football game in them for 4 hours. I have to say, there were about 10 other shots of Ole Miss ladies dressed to the nines. I have to give them credit, they go all out for their team.

All in all, Dustin and I had a great weekend. At least he picked Ole Miss in the Bowl Pick'em game. It wasn't a complete loss, I guess.