Friday, September 28, 2012

The 47%

My sister and I came from a family that some would consider privileged. We were affluent in the fact that we never wanted for anything. We spent our childhood moving around the country from city to city, state to state as my father changed jobs frequently to make sure we had it all. Eventually, when my parents marriage fell apart, things got a little rougher but at that point, I was of an age where I was able to get a job (or 3) and support myself.

When I married, I married for love. My husband came from a blended family that was much less fortunate than mine but we loved each other greatly. We both spent the first 3 years of our marriage working. Working hard and saving what we could so that when I had our first child, I was able to stay home with him.

To say we struggled financially is an understatement. Between my husband losing job after job for various reasons and the cost of living raising at an alarming rate, along with adding a second child to our household, money was tight. We had no health insurance and very little money for food, but we never turned to government assistance. We struggled along and did the best we could. I continued my part time Nanny job to provide as much extra as I could and he worked two jobs to put food on the table. I suppose it was part pride and part trying to keep our chins up and not give in.

Plus, I had love. Love for him and love for my two young sons. It was important to us that they have a parent at home. Partly because young children need a parent but also because even if I had managed to find a full time job, the cost of childcare is outrageous to the point it was cheaper for me to stay home. That was the thing that saw me through the years of mental and emotional abuse that had become something that, without health insurance, I simply denied myself the luxury of seeking help for. I stuck in and held on with fingernails, trying to fix what was beyond my control.

Then, in February of this year, my beloved husband, the one I had loved and lived for, walked out. He packed his bags and walked away from our two beautiful young boys and his wife of 7 years. Why is something that is between him and God but without him supporting us since then, I have had to rely on bits and pieces of government assistance in order to feed and care for the health of both me and my boys.

Do I regret having to rely on government assistance to keep us safe and healthy?

No. I do not.

In the time he has been gone, things have been hard on us. Hard financially, despite me getting a job, and hard emotionally. Being thrust into single parenthood head over heels was a shock to all of our systems. Both mine and the boys. We had our love for each other. We persevered and I made sure that the boys felt as little of the burn as possible but still, they did have a hard time adjusting to a life where little luxuries had all but disappeared.

Here's the thing though, I am finally getting the help that I was in such desperate need of with regards to my health (which was way worse off than I had ever imagined), my oldest son has been able to undergo therapy and care that has helped him learn to deal with his energy and confusion about our situation, and we have not had the burden of being scared to death to call a doctor if something is wrong.

We have had food on the table where we would have simply gone hungry. We have had shelter we would have otherwise been denied or been able to afford. We are alive and well.

Then there is the statement that I feel entitled to this kind of help.

That's a load of honkey.

For someone to come along and try to make me feel guilty for doing what it took to protect my children is complete and utter bullshit. If I had felt entitled to it we would not have struggled when my husband was still with us. Who knows, it might have even kept him home to have some of that strain relieved. My boys and I would not have waited around to even apply for help for as long as we did.

The truth of the matter here is that sometimes, especially when the economy is in the pit its in and you are thrust into a situation beyond your control, people need help. Someone with as much money as Governor Romney, may not understand what it is like to literally go hungry for days at a time so that your child can eat. I know that feeling because I have lived it in order to fight going on public assistance.

I know what it is like to be denied health insurance for pre-existing conditions and to live every day in unbearable pain from and arthritis or fibromyalgia episode because you can't get the most basic of care. I have the debt to prove that public assistance was not my first choice when my oldest broke his arm or when my heart damn near gave out because of the stress surrounding my situation. Where would that have left my children?

It boils down to this: I think I can speak for most of the rest of the "47%" when I say that a line was crossed. I don't appreciate being lumped in with people who are truly using the system. I don't deny it happens. Heck, I probably know a few people who do. Fact is though, its wrong to accuse people of abusing something without finding out their individual story and what is going on that is causing them to rely on assistance. I'm waiting on my call Mr. Romney.

Toddler- isms

Kids are awesome. All kids. I have been a kid person pretty much all my life. I started working in a childcare setting when I was 14 at my parent's church's summer camp. Once I was of a legal age to work, I actually got paid to work with kids. Since then, I have done a little bit of it all. A little private preschool, I spent some time in the daycare circuit, a few years in a local elementary school, and most recently, I was a nanny. I loved all of them but of course my favorite was the nanny job.

After spending so much time with littles and then having littles of my own, I have heard it all. Weird rash? Odds are, I know what its from. Cranky kid? I can help. Its not an ego thing, its a practiced thing. I'm not one of those know it all women thats gonna tell you unless you ask either. Still, between my mother and I we have heard*, seen, and cleaned up pretty much everything you can imagine.

The ones with the most hilarity surrounding the things they say though, tend to be the toddlers. They have a whole new take on life and they have so much to say but sometimes it gets a little confused on the way out. They mix up words or say things that are just a tad inappropriate. The word beach springs to mind. If you little one has never said beach in an inappropriate manner, ask your mommy friends about how much fun that one is to be screamed in public.

My K is no exception. He has always been a talker and sometimes he says things that make you wonder about his sanity or things that make you laugh like its the funniest thing ever. Sometimes its just a slight mispronunciation, sometimes its an invented word. Whatever it is, it always leads to hilarity of some sort when he starts on a tangent about something.

D had a few doozies on his own though. He has never been afraid to try big words. The best part is that he usually has no idea what those words mean. If he didn't know a word, he would just make one up in place of what ever he was describing. That makes things very interesting.

Silly Monster
Here are a few of my favorites from my boys. See if you can decipher the difference:

"Washin' Ma-cleaner": Washing machine/ Dishwasher

"Orange buttlope": Cantaloupe

"Look mama! Whores!": Look mama! A horse!

"I wudge you": I love you. (Can not but can not make myself correct this one. Too flipping sweet.)

"Grass polished-er": Lawn mower (I have been told this is from some show or another but I can't remember which and I can't figure out why this is easier to say/ remember than lawn mower.)

What are some of the silly, funny things your kids have said?


 *If there is ever any doubt in your mind, you kid totally does tell his preschool teacher all of the intimate details of his home life. Just FYI.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Game Day Packet Meals

I am not particularly a sports person but here we are here in full swing of football season. For most people in the South, that means lots of parties, tailgating, and of course a good old fashioned cookout. I tend to partake more in the cooking side of these events than the watching side mostly because I have absolutely no idea whats going on that every one is yelling about. Not good for your nerves.

What is good though is that I have become particularly deft at the art of a packet meal. For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, the theory is simple: put food in tin foil and bake, grill or campfire it until cooked. Open and eat. Bam.

Those of you who have done the packet meals, know how easy and delicious they always turn out and when you are cooking for a group of people and you don't want to go the hamburger route, you can't beat the simplicity.


You will need some pretty hefty nonstick foil for all of these recipes to make sure you don't lose food to the floor or the grill. All of these recipes are divided per packet. So you will put one of each into each packet before cooking. If you are making more than one packet (which I assume you are) be sure to gather enough ingredients for all of them before you get started.

The first one is a very basic packet meal. You can add or subtract any of the ingredients to make it your own. It works just as well with a pork chop or ground beef patty as it does chicken. You can even play with spices and flavors until you find one that suits your tastes the best.
The Basic
1 chicken breast
1/2 can of white potatoes
1/2 can of carrots
2oz canned sliced mushrooms
1/2 can stewed tomatoes (drained)
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh rosemary sprig
Dash of paprika

Fold it into a packet with the chicken on the bottom and put on a hot grill, turning every once in awhile for about 30-45 minutes.
The next one is a richer meal. Its bold and beefy and super good on a cool fall night. You can sub the wine for beer and the beef for chicken but the wine/ beef combo is really good.
Burgundy Beef Packet
Thinly sliced beef (pound out a steak or cut it into fajita style strips)
A generous splash of red wine
Pat of butter
A few pearl onions
Some sliced portabella mushrooms
Few slices of sweet potato or julienned carrots

Folded into a packet, cook it on a lower temperature for about half an hour for best taste. If you try to cook it too fast, your veggies won't get done. This is great served with some noodles or rice as well.
Of course no packet meal compilation would be complete with out a fish alternative and this one is guaranteed to knock your socks off.

Packet Tilapia
Tilapia fillet
Thinly sliced lemon
Snow peas or chopped broccoli florets (spinach is also good!)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons olive oil or white wine

Be sure to put the lemon on the bottom of the packet an then put the rest in on top. Wrap it all up and cook for about 20 minutes, turning at least once to make sure the fish doesn't dry out.
Of course then there is the pork version. This one is spicy and messy and oh-my-goodness amazing. Its great serves with a little Mexican rice or corn and black bean salsa.
Mexican Pork Packets

4 boneless pork chops, about 1/2 inch thick
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup medium chunky salsa
1 can (15 1/4 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

Wrap it up and grill it for about half an hour (seeing a pattern here?)
  Of course what better way to top off a delicious packet meal than with an even better packet dessert? You can make desserts just as easily as you made the meals and best of all, it cooks while you eat and then is hot and ready when you're done!
Apple Pie Dumplings (makes 4)
1/2 stick softened butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
4 cored apples
2 refrigerated pie dough rounds

Mix the butter, sugar, and apple pie spice together and stuff the cored apples with equal amounts of the mixture. Wrap each in 1/2 disk refrigerated pie dough and seal in individual packets. Grill over medium heat, turning a few times, for about 30 minutes.
This one though, this one is my all time favorite packet food. It was a girl scout favorite when I was young and I can vividly remember burning myself on the tastiness from a very young age. I'm going to leave you with this one since you need to be headed to the grocery store for supplies. Right? OK, well after this one this one you will.

Peach Delight
1 can of halved peaches
Mini marshmallows
brown sugar
pecans

Stuff the pit area of the halved peaches with mini marshmallows and brown sugar. Top with pecans and wrap up in foil. You can wrap them individaully or in groups of two or three. Place on the grill for about 5 minutes or so until the marshmellows have melted and you have a gooey, sweet ball of awesome to eat with your fork.



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Little Athlete #WW





My big boy is loving every second of his sports teams and I am loving every second of watching him love it. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Letting Go on #TuneinTuesdays

Nic + Bean



A very good friend of mine started up a new weekly link up called "Tune in Tuesdays". Those of you who have been around awhile remember the Music Mondays days around here and this is the same premise. A song you love to share with the group.

-----------------------
*This week's song comes with a strong language warning!
 
"Just when it can't get worse I've had a shit day
You've had a shit day
We've had a shit day
I think that life's too short for this
Want back my ignorance and bliss
I think I've had enough of this
Blow me one last kiss
I will do what I please
Anything that I want
I will breathe, I will breathe
I won't worry at all
You will pay for your sins
You'll be sorry, my dear
All the lies, All the lies
Will all be crystal clear
I think I've finally had enough
I think I maybe think too much
I think this might be it for us
Blow me one last kiss"

This pretty much sums it up. I'm done. Done being a punching bag, a dump for other people's problems and frustrations. Even when they have created them on their own. Done with the Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Here we go...

Monday, September 24, 2012

5 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Immune System

Its coming. The dreaded cold and flu season. Its the time of year that some people dread for the months prior. They freak out and jump at the first chance they get to get the flu shot.

I am not one of those people. I avoid drugs as much as I can in any given situation if there is a more natural and reasonable option than pumping myself full of chemicals and toxins. I am the one who is always all up in your Facebook telling you how to get rid of your child's teething pain or your sinus infection*.

The cold and flu season is no different. There is always a reason your immune system allowed those sickies into your system and most likely it is because there is a deficiency somewhere. Of course the long winter months also ust take a toll on us as humans and that can affect everything from your mood to your health.

The thing is, its pretty simple to give your immune system a little boost to keep up and keep you going. Here are 5 ways to easily boost your immune system for the fall and winter months. Be sure and so you will have it handy!

1. Take a little Vitamin D. That good ole vitamin that our body makes so readily in the sunnier months dramatically decreases in the winter months. Partly because we stay more covered up and partly because the Sun has moved a little farther away making it harder for our bodies to process the light and create vitamin D. Supplementing with vitamin D is never a bad idea but it is especially needed during the flu season. Vitamin D can slash your risk of getting the flu by 42 percent has been tested to be 800% more effective than vaccines at preventing influenza infections in children.


2. Add some virgin coconut oil. Lauric acid, a rare saturated fat found in virgin coconut oil, helps to boost the immune system and protects it from a variety of illnesses and diseases. It also promotes good heart health, lowers cholesterol and speeds up the metabolism. The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which helps in dealing with viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV. Coconut oil can be added to any food but my favorite is to toss grilled or roasted veggies in it and serve them.



3. Garlic it up! Now, before you crinkle up your nose at this one, consider that you can get garlic in capsule form that won't make you smell or you can just make a conscious effort to add it a little more liberally when you do use it. Garlic is a powerful immune booster that stimulates the body's production of infection-fighting white cells, boosts natural killer cell activity, and increases the efficiency of antibody production.


4. Keep up with your omega-3 fatty acids. Unlike many other vitamins and nutrients, the body cannot make its own omega-3's. When taken together with vitamin E, the omega-3 fatty acids in flax oil and fatty fish act as immune boosters by increasing the activity of phagocytes, the white blood cells that eat up bacteria. Omega-3s are especially beneficial if you have other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis or lupus, as well.





5. Get more sleep. The easiest and cheapest way to boost your immune system is to hit the hay a little earlier. In simple terms, sleep deprivation suppresses immune system function and keeps your body from creating the antibodies it needs to help keep you healthy.






*Man made drugs do have their place in this world. You should also always consult your doctor if you are on drugs before starting any other treatments! I am so not a doctor.

All images found via Google




Friday, September 21, 2012

Drinkable Fall Potpourri and Other Fall Scents

Tomorrow brings the Autumn Equinox! The official start of Fall for those of us who don't see a change in the weather like some lucky people. I got excited about the fall season about a month ago and it has just built and built and now I am ready to explode Fall all over everything. That sounded less weird in my head.

Anyway, since Fall is here, its time to start bringing my favorite fall scents and treats come to life. I wrote about the Pumpkin Butter yesterday but these are more the sumptuous scents. I just adore the smell of cinnamon and pumpkin. Its sweet and crisp and screams my favorite season. The first one is of course my favorite. Drinkable Potpourri, Call is Spiced Cider if you must but it serve a wonderful double duty as both yummy treat and making your house smell like a Fall wonderland.

Drinkable Potpourri
Enough apple cider to fill a big pot (a crock pot works too!)
One organic apple, cut into about 1/2-inch thick slices (organic apples actually do give the best flavor).
One orange, rind and all, cut into slices about 1/2-inch thick
3-4 whole cinnamon sticks
6-8 whole cloves
6-7 whole allspice berries (you should be able to get these anywhere but I had trouble this year).

Place all ingredients in your pot and heat. For best taste, bring to a simmer uncovered and let it reduce a little to your taste preference.  As it reduces, you can also add more apple cider to keep the smell alive and to keep the supply coming. I like to drinking with a cinnamon stick in the mug for that extra cinnamon kick but its totally optional.

Now of course I already mentioned that I love the taste and smell of cinnamon so this next one is a total no brainer. If you are like me and like the spicy sweet smell and taste of those little round cinnamon candies, this one is for you. Of course it also makes your house smell like one of those cinnamon brooms you see outside the grocery store about this time every year. Win, win.

Cinnamon Apple Cider
Enough apple cider to fill a big pot
About a 1/4 cup crushed Cinnamon Candies

Put everything into your pot and simmer while stirring until all of the candies are melted. Turn off the heat and serve it warm! You can also totally do this by the mug in the microwave but you don't get the whole house smell.
The last one smells like heaven but it is not edible. I mean I guess you could but its not going to taste good. Fair warning. It does smell more like a typical Fall candle or store bought potpurri to me. Its a good, quick one though and its stuff you most likely already have in your pantry.
Orange Cinnamon Simmer (Don't eat this one!)
Orange Peels

Cinnamon Sticks (or ground)
Whole Cloves (or ground)
Dash of Vanilla Extract
Water

Put all those things in a pot and simmer, adding watter as needed to keep it going. Don't let it boil dry.



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Crock Pot Classics: Pumpkin Butter

This time of the year everything is pumpkin something. Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin patches. I am one of those people that is particular about my pumkpkin flavored beverages. I prefer homemade* or Starbucks Pumpkin Spice coffee by far over the sweeter, milkier Dunkin' Donuts. I used to love Olive Garden's pumpkin cheesecake but I have burned out on it. Its still good though, if you haven't tried it.

Another pumpkin season tradition around our house is Pumpkin Butter. Think apple butter made with pumpkins. Its amazing on toast or scones or off the spoon or on pancakes or any way you can think of. The list could go on and on. Its the perfect texture and the perfect mix of spices and actual pumpkin that makes it a real treat. It also makes a great gift type thing for teachers or neighbors. I made a huge batch of it this year so that I could share its wonders with the world. Of course what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't also share it with you. Well, share the recipe with you. At least until teleportation is invented and then I will send it that way to anyone that wants some. Deal?



This recipe is particularly hard to really screw up. Sometimes I cook it on high and just stir more often, sometimes I do it on low and get the same result. This isn't a set it and forget it type recipe though so be sure you are going to be around the house for a few hours before starting it. You can cook and use your own pumpkins if you want. Just be sure to mash it really well before you start cooking or you'll have chunky butter. Which is still tasty, just chunky. Because I'm lazy, I use canned pumpkin.


What you'll need:
2 15oz cans of canned pumpkin (or about 3 cups of homemade pumpkin smash)
The juice of one lemon
3 cups of brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice



Pour it all into your crock pot and set it on low (or high) and cover with the lid. Let it cook on low for at least an hour while covered and then remove the lid for the rest of the cooking. It will need to be stirred about every 15- 30 minutes for a few hours depending on your crock pot. You will notice the butter getting darker and thicker. My best suggestion is to let it get darker and then just keep tasting it to see when it tastes best to you. It will thicken a little as it cools too.
Not the best picture but you can see the color difference here.
I usually just put all of it in a huge Rubbermaid container and stick it the fridge to cool before doling it out into smaller containers to hand out or freeze. You can also can it and it will keep pretty much forever. In the freezer it stays good about 6-8 months and it stays good for a pretty good while in the fridge too as long as you are sure to use a clean spoon and not double dip (contamination cha-cha-cha).


*Homemade pumpkin spice coffee: add pumpkin spice to your coffee grounds before you brew it. Rocket science, I know. Thank me later.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hope for Humanity on #TuneinTuesday

Nic + Bean



A very good friend of mine started up a new weekly link up called "Tune in Tuesdays". Those of you who have been around awhile remember the Music Mondays days around here and this is the same premise. A song you love to share with the group. I took a break last week for 9/11 but am back at it this week.


 
I love this song. It gives me hope that music may be actually coming out of the hip hop lull we have been wallowing in for so long it makes my brains hurt. This song kind of explains who I am at the moment. Sad but true. Who am I? What do I stand for? In the last 6 months my life has been a total tailspin of sorts and as I regain control, I am looking back at the mess it was. Still seeing ghosts? Perhaps occasionally. Still, I have said it before and I will say it again. I'm getting stronger.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Five.

My D,

Five. Wow. You are growing up so fast my big boy. This year you have really taken off too. You have grown by leaps and bounds both physically and emotionally. Your feet have gotten huge! Not only that but you have gotten a lot taller too, which I suppose explains the big feet. You look like a bi boy now even though I still see that helpless little squirmy baby in your expressions and mannerisms occasionally.
This year has been both frighteningly bad and amazingly good for you emotionally too. You have been dealing with a lot that should not be seen by someone your age. Mama got you some help with all those new emotions though and you are doing worlds better sorting things out. You have this way about you my D. You are wise beyond your years and stoic in your sense of purpose. You take on emotions and obstacles that other kids your age just don't process and you make them yours. You are resilient and smart. I admire your perseverance.

A friend of mine recently dubbed you "the senator" and it fits you with a hilarious accuracy. You are a processor, a thinker, a perfectionist. You are friendly, outgoing, and never see a challenge you can't overcome. Your sense of purpose radiates, even if you aren't just real sure what that purpose is immediately. You are cordial and polite with adults and caring with your friends. You are going to make an amazing gentleman the likes of which the world has never seen.

Of course you have your silly side too. Once you are sure of your surroundings, you love to laugh and goof off. You have the most amazing sense of humor. You get the funny in the world around you. You know when someone is poking fun at you an take it graciously. You love to put on puppet shows and are a master at making up theatrical performances for me on the fly whenever you come across a stage. You are my entertainer.


You have yet to see a physical challenge that you couldn't conquer. You have always been way more physical than any of your little friends and you are learning to put that to good use. You had your first broken arm this year though and that slowed you down a bit. You sometimes still get into trouble for running and jumping when you aren't supposed to be but you are trying to reel yourself in more than you have in the past when you realize you are getting out of control. You started T-ball this fall and soon your soccer season will start too. You are loving being the star hitter on your team already and you can run faster than anyone too. I think having more physical things going on in your life will help a lot with that too.

You were released from your speech program early this spring and you have continued to make great strides. You just needed a little push in the right direction that you were too stubborn to learn from me. Now, you are thriving and flourishing in pre-k and I am loving watching you grow and learn in a whole new way. You come home talking about your friends and the things you did and played that day. You are bringing home the most adorable art projects I have ever Your teachers are crazy about you too and it isn't hard to see why.




I look at you my big boy and my heart explodes happy. Even when the world is falling around us, you can always make everything brighter. You are my peace, my crazy, and my stillness all the same. I love you with everything that I am and it just gets even more intense with age. That mama/ son bond is fierce.

I can't wait to see what the next year holds for you my D. Whatever it is, its going to be a fun ride of that I can be sure of. You have a way of making the mundane more exciting. I'm so glad you chose me as your mama. I love you my little man.

Love,
Mama

Friday, September 14, 2012

Three.

K baby,

Technically my baby no more little monster. This year you have done a whole lot of growing up. You gave up your beloved bippy, you started using the potty and most recently, you moved into a big boy bed of your very own. Of course, you will always be my baby.

You are strong and independent. A little man on the move that (thankfully) knows his boundaries and isn't afraid to back down from a challenge. You are still hilariously uncoordinated though. Not in a way where I am concerned about it, you just got mama's clumsy (Sorry baby). Watching you get under or out from under a blanket is pretty hilarious. You still just can't quite get it right and usually end up just going uncovered. You are also the worlds messiest eater. You love food so much that sometimes you eat like the Tasmanian devil and you just end up a mess.

You also have the most amazing sense of humor. You have a very expressive face and you definitely know how to use it to your advantage. You are a total clown and you love to make people laugh at you.

Your worst enemy right now is the swings. You hate them with a fiery burning passion that is completely hilarious. I'm talking complete freak out no matter how much coaxing and comforting I try to do to get you in them. You have also recently become afraid of the dark and that is less funny and more sad. You are so sweet calling me from your bed with your worries. Of course my favorite thing is to come curl up with you until you drift back off to sleep. Mama will always keep you safe my love. From dangers real and imaginary.

You have always dealt with change with a grace and ease that I admire. This year has been no exception. Lots of things have changed for us this year and you have adapted to each of them seamlessly. Its something that I really admire in you littles and you don't even know your doing it.

You have always, and still do, everything big. You play big, you eat big, you tantrum big but best of all you love big. You are empathetic in a way that is way beyond your years. Don't get me wrong, you like things your way but if you know someone else needs it more, you are more than willing to give up the spotlight. If mama needs a hug, you are right there, melted into my shoulder with your arms wrapped around my neck and stroking my hair with your fat little hands. If your brother is sad, you know how to be a clown and pull him out of it. The other day, a little friend on the playground fell and scraped his knee and you were the first one to comfort him and help him find his mama. My little lover.

You adore your brother still too. You idolize D in a way that is both completely heartwarming and  kind of scary for your mama. The two of you have started teaming up on me and getting into all manner of trouble. Its not the typical sibling divide and conquer tactic though. If one of you is in trouble for doing something you aren't supposed to, odds are good both of you are in trouble.

You have also made a new fast friend in Bob this year. The two of you have completely adopted each other. You stick up for Bob and he loves on you like I have never seen a dog do of someone smaller than them. He will let you do anything to him and you tend to take full advantage of that. He is your pillow, your step stool,  your snuggle buddy, your spare playmate and your dinner disposal. Its too stinking cute to watch.

You are dynamic. That is the best way I can think of to describe you my little man. The nickname you earned before you were even born still holds true. You are my "monster". In the best way possible. You are a force to be reckoned with when you are angry but you are also the snuggliest little fellow on the planet. I also call you "pickles". You can be sweet and sour but either way, I still love you. Your other nickname of course is "littles" because you are and always will be my peanut. Even when you outgrow us all.

I love you my baby. I love you more than words. More than I can ever express to you. Its thorough and complete. Its ever fiber of my being. Every beat of my heart. Mama loves you and I always will.

Love,
Mama

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ginger Sesame Salmon

This is one of those recipes that you read and think "meh" but in all reality this is one of the most addictive sauces I have ever had. Its sweet but has that unmistakable ginger spice finish that I just can't seem to get enough of in general.  I am not going to lie, its all about the glaze here. I tend to like it best on salmon but it can also be used on pork or chicken just as easily. Its also really good just drizzled over some steamed rice with veggies if you prefer a meat free dinner.

I do usually make the sauce and marinate the meat during nap time and then cook it right before we eat it. If you are using salmon, be sure you don't let it dry out. Fully cooked salmon should be pink and opaque all the way through and should easily flake with a fork. There is a very fine line though between done salmon and dry salmon so I tend to remove it from the oven just before it gets pink all the way through, cover it with foil and let it finish cooking on the pan.


Sesame Ginger Salmon
1 1/2 lbs salmon
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce (I have also used Dale's with good results)
2 garlic cloves (I use the jarred kind)
2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1-2 tbsp sesame seeds

Combine all of the above ingredients in a ziploc bag and gently roll to coat the salmon really well all over. Put the bag in the refrigerator to marinate the salmon. I tend to go in and roll the bag a few times if I get the chance just to make sure everything stays mixed. While this is marinating, mix the glaze (below).

You can choose to grill this or broil it in your oven. Grilling fish is tricky because it falls apart but broiling is hard because it dries out the fish quicker. Pick your poison. I usually broil it because it really ticks me off when I lose a salmon fillet in the grill grates. If you do grill, I suggest you invest in a grill topper to keep that from happening. If you choose to broil, use a broiling pan or wire rack on a cookie sheet for the best result.


Sweet Sesame Ginger Glaze
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1-2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Whisk together and drizzle over cooked salmon/ rice/ veggies/ whatever you want.






Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Insta- Atlanta #WW


Our Skyline

Turner Field

Kennesaw Mountain
 
I-75
 


The Varsity

The Georgia Aquarium



Our Olympic Rings


Monday, September 10, 2012

Disney on Ice: "Rockin' Ever After" Is Coming to Atlanta! (Promo Code!)

Get ready to rock out with some of the most magical idols of all in Disney On Ice presents Rockin’ Ever After, an all-new live production coming to Atlanta! A cast of world-class skaters brings your favorite moments from Disney•Pixar’s BRAVE, Tangled, The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast to life in a musical showcase that features the hottest tunes and talent from across the kingdom.

If you have never been to a Disney on Ice show you are seriously missing out. We were lucky enough to attend last years Dare to Dream show and it remains my all time favorite childrens live show and we have seen quite a few. The breathtaking talent and sets still amaze me almost a year later. Seriously the best live show.

Highlights of this years show include:
  • Jam to a Scottish jig as a group of royal contenders from the latest Disney•Pixar film, BRAVE, competes to win the heart of adventurous, sharp-shooting Merida, making her on-ice debut! 
  • Experience a show-stopping performance as Sebastian breaks out of his shell for one night only to make waves with Ariel.
  • A chorus of harmless hooligans from Tangled unleashes musical mayhem when they get a visit from the sassy and spirited Rapunzel and her charming ally, Flynn. 
  • Get your feet moving as the Beast and his castle’s enchanted entourage take center stage in a spectacular show for Belle. 

It will be a rockin’ remix of royalty when Disney On Ice brings this superstar line-up to your hometown! Produced by Feld Entertainment, Disney On Ice presents Rockin’ Ever After. Performances are at Philips Arena, October 10-14, 2012.

Show Times:
  • October 10-11 at 7:30 p.m.
  • October 12 at 10:30 a.m., and 7:30 p.m.
  • October 13 at 11:00 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
  • October 14 at noon and 4:00 p.m.
Tickets for Disney On Ice presents Rockin’ Ever After can be purchased at the Philips Arena Box Office or via phone by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000.•

Ticket Prices:
Rinkside Price     $75.00
VIP                         $50.00
Club Seats           $35.00
4th                          $30.00
5th                          $22.00
6th                          $14.00

The best news yet? Thanks to Gas South and just for the Atlanta crowd, you can use offer code: GASSOUTH and get 20% off your ticket purchase!

To discover more about Disney On Ice, go to www.disneyonice.com or visit us on Facebook and YouTube.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Crock Pot Classics: Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos

Its been awhile since I shared one of my favorite Crock Pot meals with you but let me tell you, this is one you are going to want to try out! The Southwestern spice with the sweet, fall apart chicken is amazing.



There is a lot of room to either spice this dish up or down for your families taste buds too. We tend to prefer a pretty mild heat because of the boys being young. If your family tends to prefer a little more heat, you can add a few more jalapenos or even just use a hotter salsa. You can also add a little bit of Tabasco sauce to add that punch you may be looking for.

This recipe is a particular favorite of mine because I can put it together in a ziploc bag and either freeze it or just dump in the Crock Pot and go the next morning. I will say though that six hours on low really is kind of necessary for this dish. If you try to cook it on high, the chicken doesn't stay tender enough to shred for the tacos later so low and slow is really the best. You also want the chicken to be done but if you leave it too long, it dries out and the sauce burns which doesn't make for just the best tasting anything.



In your Crock Pot, mix together:

One 24-ounce jar medium or mild salsa
Juice from one lime
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
One package taco seasoning
2-3 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
4-5 Chicken breasts


After you mix all of those ingredients together well, place 4 or 5 chicken breasts in the pot and coat with the mixture. Cover and cook for 6 hours on low.

When the chicken is done, shred it with a pair of large forks and mix with the sauce until its coated well. Then all you have to do is load up your taco shells (I prefer hard shells but soft works too!). You can top the tacos with whatever floats your boat. They are really good with just the chicken but I like to add a little fresh lettuce and sour cream to mine. My mother prefers to add black beans and a  little taco sauce. Its all about your preference.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Double Trouble

Matching cackles? Check.
Matching shirts? Check.

Matching T.V. Poses? Check.
Even matching down times. 

How did I get so lucky?



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What I Am on #TuneInTuesday

Nic + Bean



A very good friend of mine started up a new weekly link up called "Tune in Tuesdays". Those of you who have been around awhile remember the Music Mondays days around here and this is the same premise. A song you love to share with the group. 




Yes, its a kids song. So? Still an awesome message. Its one that the boys and I love to blast in the kitchen or in the car and have a good time belting out. Its another feel good song for us. You can't deny it made you smile at least. What I am is happy. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Yellow Daisy Festival- This Weekend!

Voted one of the top three arts & crafts shows in the nation by Sunshine Artist Magazine and a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event and winner of multiple awards by the Southeast Festival and Events Association, Stone Mountain's 44th annual Yellow Daisy Festival invites more than 450 artists and crafters from 38 States and two countries display their works for your appreciation and purchase. Daily live entertainment, Children's Corner activities, and crafter demonstrations throughout the event as well as fabulous festival foods.


The annual celebration attracts an estimated 200,000 shopping enthusiasts to the four-day event. The festival is a tradition for multi-generational shoppers searching for unique works of art.
“Each year it is amazing to see how many people have made it a tradition to come out to the festival. We see packs of grandmothers, mothers, daughters, neighbors and best friends coming together dressed in their yellow daisy outfits seeking that hot craft item of the year. They even get here before the festival officially opens at 10 a.m. to begin their shopping…and we don’t stop them!” -Janet Bell, Stone Mountain Park special events manager.
New for 2012 is the selection of two featured artists, rather than the traditional one artist. Featured artists have their work prominently displayed on all Yellow Daisy Festival marketing and promotional materials.

In addition to the unique arts and crafts, the festival offers festival food including the popular Happy Belly food truck. Soon to be featured in Travel Channel’s upcoming series “Mobile Meals,” Happy Belly serves up tasty dishes with locally grown organic ingredients. Other foods available include Sonny’s BBQ, Chick-fil-A, TJ’s Kettle Corn and more.

Throughout all four days of the Yellow Daisy Festival, there will be live entertainment on the festival’s main stage including Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Shawn Mullins and NBC’s “The Voice” contestant Jordan Rager. Mullins, known for his 1998 hit single “Lullaby,” will perform Friday from 4:30 - 6 p.m. and Rager will perform Thursday from 4:40 - 6 p.m. Steel Magnolia, Country Music Television’s “Can You Duet?” winners will perform Saturday from 5:45 - 7 p.m. Singer-songwriters such as Dylan Altman, writer of Jake Owens’ “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” and others will perform Thursday from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. The festival main stage will feature 15 other live performances from bands such as the Yacht Rock Review, REMakes and Peachtree Station.

New this year, T.Rumble and the Kidz will be rapping up a storm of kid friendly songs in the festival’s Children’s Corner. The Children’s corner will also provide crafts, entertainment and face painting.

The Men’s Den is a great venue for the gentlemen and sports fans coming to the event that don’t want to miss the big game. The Men’s Den is outfitted with recliners and big screen TVs showing fall football.

Shoppers can stop by the Humana tent, the festival’s presenting sponsor, for free giveaways and to enter for a chance to win a Stone Mountain Park annual pass package good for four Mountain Memberships. Additionally, guests can stop by the Ford Experience Tour and check out the latest Ford vehicles and technology. The attraction offers skill competitions, interactive vehicles and the opportunity to win prizes, including a new Ford vehicle of your choice up to $30,000. Guests can also visit the Texas on Tour exhibit which features an experiential virtual trip to the Lone Star state and a chance to win a free Texas vacation.


Dates & Times: Sept. 6 and Sept. 7, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sept. 8, 10 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 9, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Location: Special Events Meadow at Stone Mountain Park
Price: Free; Parking is $10 for one-day permit

For more information on the Yellow Daisy Festival, please visit www.yellowdaisyfestival.info.

To view the stage festival, please visit the Live Show Schedule.



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