Monday, March 31, 2008

Meme - Because I'm Too Tired for a More Coherent Post

It's the end of Spring Break Day One, and boy what a day it was. I'm wiped out and, quite honestly, too tired to recount the highlights (or the lowlights, for that matter). The condensed version is: cold, wet weather, no outdoor play possible, hectic lunch at Chic-Fil-A, visit to local toy store, lost digital camera, teething baby.

So, rather than dazzle you with the remaining details, I'm going to answer this meme posted by the housewife a few weeks ago. She offered it up as "bloggy fodder" for all and, after today, I'm jumping on it.

What I was doing 10 years ago: I was living with my husband on the outskirts of London (England). I traveled everywhere by foot, bike or train. I worked as an assistant editor for a Christian publication and also volunteered at a day center for those suffering from psychological disorders.

Five things on my to do list today:
1. Survive Spring Break Day Two
2. Wrap and mail birthday gifts
3. Pick up birthday gift for my sister
4. Have some crazy fun with my kids
5. Laundry, laundry and more laundry

Snacks I enjoy: Oven roasted garbanzo beans (these are THE best), chocolate chip cookies with milk, and chocolate (of course!)

Things I would do if I were a billionaire: I'd want to use the majority of the money to help make a difference in the lives of others, but I'd be lying if I told you I wouldn't do some world traveling and have a few crazy shopping sprees.

Three of my bad habits: Drinking too much caffeine, eating too much chocolate, being a standard 10 minutes late to everything (hey, cut me a break, I've got three kids!)

Five places I have lived: New York, Michigan, England, Georgia. That's it.

Five jobs I have had: Babysitter, receptionist, waitress, PR manager, magazine editor

For anyone else suffering from exhaustion and writer's block, I tag you!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

What's for Dinner This Week...

Here's what's on the menu for our house this week. A couple of side notes: The Bourbon Chicken is a new recipe that I haven't tried yet. I'm going to try to lower the sodium content by using low-sodium soy sauce. Thursday is always a busy day for us, so I'm planning on keeping things easy and picking up some chicken salad from a local store earlier in the day.

Monday: Bourbon Chicken with brown rice and fresh broccoli
Tuesday: Divine Italian Pie (recipe follows), green beans and fresh fruit
Wednesday: Beef taquitos with salsa and sour cream, fruit and salad
Thursday: Chicken salad on lettuce with poppyseed dressing
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Sweet Balls of Fire, salad, brown rice

(If you're looking for an easy downloadable menu planner, you'll find a great one here.)

For more menu planning ideas, don't forget to head over to

Divine Italian Pie
6 oz. whole wheat vermicelli or angel hair, cooked and drained
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. dried basil
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/4 lb. Italian sausage (optional)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (15 1/2 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce
1 (8 oz.) package of grated mozzarella cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all crust ingredients in a bowl. Chop mixture and press inot the bottom and sides of a 10" pie pan. To make filling, brown beef, sausage and onions in a skillet. Drain. Stir sauce into meat mixture. To assemble pie, sprinkle 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese on the crust. Pour meat mixture on top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until brown. Makes 8 to 10 servings

Friday, March 28, 2008

Second-Helping Saturday: Easy Oven Crisp Chicken

If you're looking for a chicken dish that delivers lots of flavor for minimal effort -- this is the recipe for you. It sounds like a crazy mix of ingredients, but the final result is some of the juiciest, most tender chicken you'll ever taste. The recipe calls for marinating the chicken overnight, but I've marinated it for as little as two hours and have found little difference in the final taste. It's great paired with brown rice and a green salad.

Easy Oven Crisp Chicken
8 servings

1 cup low-fat sour cream
¼ cup lemon juice
4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. celery salt
8 skinless chicken breast halves
(1) 8 oz. pkg. herb-seasoned stuffing mix
4 Tbs. butter, melted

Combine sour cream, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, garlic salt, black pepper and celery salt. Mix well. Add chicken and marinate in refrigerator overnight. Remove chicken from marinade and roll in stuffing mix. Place chicken in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle with butter. Bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees or until meat is tender and coating is browned.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The hardest working piece in my wardrobe

I'm a terribly scattered person. Between managing a home, changing diapers, running carpool, organizing playdates and figuring out what to make for dinner, I can look like I was run over by a Mack truck at the end of the day. However, I have found that getting dressed in the morning makes all the difference, and here's the one piece that will help you look like you've got it all under control: a denim pencil skirt. I promise, it will change your life.

Stay with me here.

A denim skirt is comfortable to wear, especially as the temperatures get warmer. It can take you from school to the park and home again. It's classic, doesn't wrinkle and, if you choose a nice dark wash, it does a pretty good job hiding stains.

Let's talk about length for a second. Because length is key.

Option #1:

Don't do this to yourself unless you're 18, not my daughter and have great legs. I have three people that call me "Mommy" at home, so for me, this ship has sailed. A long time ago.
Option #2:

This is too long, hits at the widest part of your calves and makes you look heavier than you really are. 'Nough said.

Option #3:

Hits right around the knee, sits just below the waist, perfect all the way around. It takes no more effort (in fact it's easier) to throw this on instead of a pair of capris or sweats. I add a t-shirt, a lightweight cardigan and a pair of ballet flats. I'm dressed in five minutes and, though the reality is usually very different, I end up looking like I have my act somewhat together.

And friends, when you're fighting the frump, looking the part is half the battle.

For more frump-fighting ideas, head on over to Fussy's place!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Easter: A Brief Photo History

Easter pictures. I love them. I love the bright spring colors, I love the outdoor settings. I love getting the kids dressed up in their Easter finery. I have several adorable pictures of my daughter Jillian (5) in any variety of Easter scenes from this year and years past:

Frilly Easter dress: check
Sitting with the Easter Bunny: check
Hunting for eggs: double check

She is, in short, a photographer's dream.

My 3-year-old son, on the other hand? Notsomuch.

The first Easter Josh could walk and hunt eggs, the best we could do was this:

Idyllic, no?

Last year, we were out of town. The only egg hunt we did was indoors, early in the morning. We didn't get any pictures.

Here's a picture of my son at this year's egg hunt:

Yes, I know I'm showing you his backside. Or is it his front side? No. His jeans are on backwards. And don't you think the navy blue t-shirt just screams spring?

Let's discuss the outfit, shall we? I did not send him to school like that. For the record, I had him in a very handsome Easter egg hunting outfit. I thought long and hard before I dressed him that morning (I wanted a good picture, after all). I didn't want to go too "frou frou," so I opted for nice jeans, a long sleeved white t-shirt and a sweater vest in shades of blue, white and green. Perfect.

Apparently, not in Josh's eyes. He had it in his mind to change that outfit and set his plan in motion as soon as he stepped foot in the classroom:

"Miss Joy. I'm hot. I need to take my sweater off."
"But Josh, you look so handsome and your Mommy has you dressed for the egg hunt later."
"But I'm hot!"
"Alright, we'll take the sweater off and put it back on for the egg hunt."

With part one of his plan complete, Josh runs off to play. An hour later, snack time provides the perfect opportunity to complete the outfit switch. One drop of milk hits the sleeve of his white shirt.
"Miss Joy, I got milk on my shirt."
At this point, Miss Joy directs Josh to the bathroom and hands him his ziploc bag of spare clothing. Please understand, I don't blame her at all. She's got 10 other two- and three-year olds to keep track of. Lord knows, she can't be spending the morning fighting my fashion battles.
So, Josh goes into the bathroom and comes out in the spare clothes. Now, the outfit I send as a backup outfit -- it's not pretty. I keep the nice outfits in his dresser so he can wear them regularly. The spare clothes are for emergency only. They're a little ratty, but they'll do in a pinch. His Easter egg hunt was not the "pinch" I had in mind.
There was no time to change before the hunt. Josh happily hunted eggs, backwards jeans and all. After the hunt, the children gathered together, a mass of pastel hair bows and handsome Easter sweaters. And then there was Josh.
I stood to the side, a proud mama.
We are classy, folks.
Better make room in the scrapbook, because at this rate next year's pictures are going to be a sight to see.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Help with Handwashing

We began potty training my son back in November. Since then, he's become pretty proficient and has even been managing solo trips. The one sticking point, however, has been hand washing. It's not that he can't (or won't) wash his hands -- it's that he's too short (even with a stool) to turn on the spigot by himself. This turned into a full-fledged problem when he went through the "Potty Fascination Stage" of using the toilet several times a day. I was spending a lot of time helping him wash his hands.

Well, we have found the path to self empowerment. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the humble pool noodle. Cut the noodle so it measures around 12 inches in length. (It's important that you use a noodle that has a hole in the middle.) Then, place the noodle onto the spigot.

Viola! You have easily extended the reach of the spigot, while also ensuring that your child can control the temperature and water flow.

Of course, you could also just buy a taller stool! :)
For more great ideas, head on over to Shannon's place!


Years ago, in my life prior to diapers, sippy cups and naptimes, dandelions were weeds. I remember driving home from work one afternoon to find my front lawn blanketed in yellow. It was as if the dandelions had sprung up overnight, without any warning. They were an eyesore. A neighborhood embarrassment. Something to get rid of.

Last night, as I was cooking dinner my 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son, fresh from an evening walk with their grandparents, burst into the house in a flurry of excitement. In their hands -- dandelion bouquets -- thoughtfully picked for me.

Isn't it funny how things change? What I once saw as something worth getting rid of, I now placed in a crystal vase on my kitchen counter. It got me thinking about the power of perspective. How many things are there in my life that God wants me to see as a blessing, rather than a curse? How many day-to-day issues do I consistenly label as weeds, instead of stepping back and trying to find the beauty in the moment (even if the moment is fleeting). Laundry. Family relationships. My daughter's chronic eczema.

It's more than just looking at the cup as half full -- it's knowing that even if I can't find the good in the situation, perhaps I can finally step out of the way and give God a little room to work. That's where I'll discover the hidden blessings -- even amongst the weeds.

Monday, March 24, 2008

More than you needed to know about eyebrow waxing

Here's a tip:

If you're planning on getting your eyebrows waxed -- no matter how much of a head start you'd like to get on your day -- don't be the first person in the shop. Because, my friends, they'll have nothing but time and that will not work out in your favor.

You see, when you show up at the shop at 10 a.m., the wax has not had enough time to heat up. So, spreading said wax onto your skin is akin to spreading silly putty above your eyelids. The final result is less than satisfactory. When the technician realizes this, she steps back and scans the shop. No one is waiting -- in fact no one else has even come in -- so she dusts off her tweezers, rolls up her sleeves and gets to work.

Lack of hot wax + a dearth of waiting customers = a very bad situation.

It's the perfect storm.

Thus I found myself held prisoner stuck in the shop for 15 very painful minutes of poking, pulling and pinching. As I sat there, I promised myself that a) I would work on my brows daily in the future so I would never find myself in this situation again and b) if I walk out with a permanently surprised expression due to brow overpluck, I'm never coming back.

Finally, when the last hair was yanked ripped out plucked, she handed me the mirror. The final result was thorough, without being overzealous. And, apart from the lingering burning sensation and redness that lasted the remainder of the morning, I'm no worse for the wear.

But make no mistake. I'm still counting it as a lesson learned.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

And the Wagon of Time Keeps Rollin' On

Over the past two years or so, I've been slowly coming to grips with a new reality.

Are you ready for it?

I'm not the youngest person in the room anymore.

Here's the way it works: You're living your life, minding your own business, doing your best to be a good wife and mother, and then one day, you slow down for a second to take a look in the mirror. Your smile lines are sticking around long after you've stopped smiling. You go meet kindergarten teachers at your daughter's new school and realize you could have been their babysitter in the not-so-distant past. Ditto for professional atheletes. You fill out an online form and when you have to enter a birth year, you have to scroll down...and scroll some more...before locating yours.

It's taken a bit of adjusting and, truth be told, I'm a little touchy about the matter. So, imagine my surprise when my sweet 5-year-old decides to discuss the "good ol' days" with me. Holding her Strawberry Shortcake storybook, she flips through the pages and discovers some "Berry Points" on the inside cover. These are points you collect to earn more Strawberry paraphenalia.

"Mom, did you collect Berry Points when you were little?"
"No, they didn't have them when I was little."

She lets this revelation sink in for a moment. And then,

"OH! (as if the lightbulb just went off) Were the cars like...(at this she disappears into her room and comes back displaying the cover of the latest book we've been reading) this?!?"

The book?

Little House on the Prairie.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Welcome to the Party!

Every life has a story.

As a wife and mother, the details of my story are often found under laundry piles, amidst diaper changes, in the middle of playdates and during carpools. I might not be finding the cure for cancer, but with three kids under the age of six I can assure you, life is never dull.

Life with Three is the story of our family's life and how we're trying to find the joy in the journey.

So, jump into the minivan, grab a seat and buckle up.

We're glad to have you along for the ride.