Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Who Doesn't Love Turkey Sandwiches?

One of my absolute favorite things about Thanksgiving turkey are the sandwiches I make from the left-overs. Sadly, the only time I ever get those sandwiches are right after Thanksgiving. Recently I was watching Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and I was thrilled to see a piece on a little deli that served Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches year round. It was one of those, "I could have had a V8!" moments. Why not have fresh roasted turkey sandwiches whenever I want? You can do this without roasting a whole turkey! This simple idea has become a family favorite and it is the perfect summertime-on-the-go supper, and it is so incredibly simple! During the summer I roast the turkey in the morning before it gets too hot. Once roasted cool for about 1/2 an hour before refrigerating.

1 whole turkey breast (yes, they have them year round!)
Salt and pepper to taste
Good sandwich bread
Mayo, mustard, whatever condiment you love
Pea sprouts or torn lettuce
Any other toppings you desire

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Sprinkle turkey breast with salt and pepper. Roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on weight. Turkey breast should reach 175 degrees. Cool and either slice or tear into rough pieces. Build a perfect turkey sandwich.
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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Tennis Pro

Our local pool and racquet club offers summer tennis lessons. We've taken advantage of these lessons for the last several years and the kids have really enjoyed it. Last summer I posted sweet pics of Special K taking lessons in futility. She decided not to take lessons this summer. If you've ever seen her on her bike or scooter, you'd realize tennis is not the sport for her. It's a bit too mild. She is more of an X-games athlete, if you know what I mean.

This summer, Lil' Wingnut is finally old enough to take lessons. He's the lone little boy in a small class of little girls. Thats ok, he's a ladies man and he's really enjoying himself. The coach is an amazing young man, in his second year of college. He is incredibly wonderful with children and they all just love him. I think he's really enjoying having our Lil' guy in class. First of all, the kid is super coordinated and stepped right up to the net and began hitting balls immediately. Secondly, our Lil' man has a sense of humor. He cracks jokes and giggles wildly over hitting the coaches with his shots. Thirdly, Lil' Wingnut loves the ladies, and the coach has gotten a real kick out of the moves the boy has been putting on his 4 and 5 year old classmates; batting his eyes, smiling coyly, helping them collect balls on the court, telling them how awesome they are doing, etc. Good grief.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Photos from Birthday Week

From June 20 to June 27 we celebrate three birthdays. My birthday is sandwiched between my two boys.

Stat Boy was on retreat in Steubenville until the evening of his 15th birthday. He had a homemade Oreo Cake and a party waiting for him when he got home.

Karate Kid made a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting for my birthday. This is my absolute favorite. My grandma used to make this for me for every one of my birthdays while I was living at home. Karate Kid used Alton Brown's carrot cake recipe, with a couple modifications (she used sheep's milk yogurt instead of cow's milk yogurt). She used Cook's Illustrated's cream cheese frosting recipe. I let Lil' Wingnut have a small slice, even though it had cream cheese in the frosting. He managed ok, but had a bit of a belly ache the next day. I have yet to come up with a substitute in recipes for cream cheese. :( BTW, this was the best carrot cake I've ever had--sorry GG!
Lil' Wingnut had a Mint Oreo birthday cake. I put a little mint extract in the white frosting and used mint flavored NewmanO's. I can't imagine a lil' guy being more excited about turning four. He was so incredibly cute all day.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Look Who's Four!

I can't believe my lil' guy is 4 years old! He has been so cute about his birthday. For breakfast he had his absolute favorite treat: DOUGHNUTS! His godparents are coming to celebrate with us later today and I'll post pictures of his party and the awesome Oreo Birthday Cake.

Happy birthday, Lil' Wingnut! We are so blessed you are a part of our family. You have brought a ray of sunshine and frequent laughter at your antics into our lives. We hope 4 is just as wonderful as 3!
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Friday, June 25, 2010

Meditations on the Sorrowful Mysteries: The Agony in the Garden

While praying the Family Rosary, Lil' Wingnut likes to hold holy cards with artwork depicting each mystery. We recently discovered we were missing the first holy card for the Sorrowful Mysteries. Wingnut grabbed his grandfather's bible published in 1953, as he recalled this particular bible contained pictures for each of the 15 original mysteries of the Rosary, along with meditations for each one. The meditations are absolutely beautiful and so I've decided I will do a Friday series in which I will post these lovely meditations for the Sorrowful Mysteries. Later on, I may continue the series for the Joyful and Glorious Mysteries as well.

The First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden

In the Garden of Gethsemane the weakness of the humanity which Christ shared with us stands out in terrifying warning. On the morrow Christ was to make a bloody atonement for all the sins of all men. Christ faced danger and He feared, and He feared mightily. Of that fact there can be no doubt because His fear was so intense that it forced blood through the pores of His skin. He feared, and He prayed, and at length there came "an angel from heaven to strengthen Him." Inevitably every man must encounter danger of one kind or another, and automatically he will experienced fear of one degree or another. Men may meet that danger lying down, or standing up, or kneeling. Not to the prone, nor the arrogant, but to the kneelers come angels from heaven.

Like Christ, men my pray that the chalice of suffering may pass away, if the Father wills. To him who prays comes an angel from Heaven, perhaps not to remove the chalice, but at least to steady the hands that must tilt it.
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Small Successes: It's My Birthday!

Small Successes for June 24, 2010:

1) To celebrate being 42 and pregnant, I took a nap every. single. day. this week. I honestly don't remember ever being this exhausted before, but Wingnut assures me I am always like this during the first trimester. 8 weeks down, 4 to 8 more of being this tired and absolutely good for nothing.

2) I gave the master bathroom a good scrub down this week. 'Nuf said.

3) We finally made time to go to the pool this week. Lil' Wingnut loves going and asks me most every day. I was able to muster the energy to take him twice this week. With temps in the mid-90's and the very high humidity, the pool was definitely the place to be!

What are your Small Successes? Leave your link at Faith and Family Live.
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Two-fer Book Reviews

11 On My Own

With the school year having come to a close, I've had a little more time to read. Several weeks ago I saw this moving Youtube video featuring Kristen Luscia and her 11 children on Faith and Family Live. Her story intrigued me. Kristen has had a difficult past. Married three times and with 11 children, she has most recently been abandoned and divorced from her third husband, the natural father of 8 of her children. The court system has completely failed her, and her newest ex-husband has gotten away without paying child support for nearly 3 years. Kristen wrote a book recounting her past and the story of her current experiences and I decided I would do what I could to help her and her struggling family, by buying her book.

Kristen does not shy away from writing about her own failures and mistakes. No woman gets to where Kristen currently is, without making many, many mistakes. I admire the honesty she brings to her story. Her family is currently in horribly tragic conditions. Their home has been foreclosed on, Kristen is the sole provider for her family (with a little help from her teenage sons who contribute financially), the courts refuse to listen to her side of the divorce/abandonment story and continue to award visitation to her controlling, abusive, egomaniacal, sociopath, ex-husband. It's the stuff of afternoon soap operas, not what one would expect from a daily Rosary praying, regular Mass attending, pro-life, homeschooling, Catholic family.

The book is a quick read and fairly well written. While there are fairly large gaps in the story telling, and a strange chapter regarding a more recent attraction to a seminarian/newly ordained priest, Kristen's story is riveting and worth a read, if for no other reason than to help her and her abandoned children by buying her book. Recommended for adults, only.

Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture

I recently attended my first homeschool conference with my two oldest daughters. Several Catholic colleges were represented and I wanted Karate Kid to have a look at what they had to offer. Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy was represented and I stopped to have a gander after noticing Michael O'Brien's books stacked on their display table. Michael O'Brien is Our Lady Seat of Wisdom's writer and artist in residence and the academy was offering signed copies of his latest book at their table. Being a huge O'Brien fan, I had to get a copy of this newest work, Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture, even though, I've read his essays on the same topic, and I was fairly sure what he would say in this book.

Regardless of how we each perceive Harry Potter, we owe it to ourselves as Catholics and as parents to read what Michael O'Brien has to say on the subject. O'Brien declares he is not for burning books of any kind, and promises he would uphold the right to free speech of any writer. What he is calling for is greater discernment in what we decide is appropriate reading material for our children.

I will not attempt to summarize his work, as I will fail to do it justice. I will just note a couple points that resonated for me. First of all, one of the arguments O'Brian makes against Harry Potter books is that they promote moral relativism and a new Gnosticism. He uses several examples to illustrate these accusations making a solid case, and while adults might see and recognize these as such and reject the message, children, in general, are incapable of such higher order discernment and are at greater risk of being influenced these falsehoods. Secondly, O'Brien examines the character of Harry, a sympathetic boy who is the proposed hero, but what kind of hero is he? Is Harry the kind of hero we want our children to admire and emulate? A boy, who at times is filled with rage, takes vicious revenge on school bullies, and is excused repeatedly for breaking unbreakable rules because in the end it all ends well. Lastly, and the most disturbing for me personally, are the obvious occult elements of the series. While the vast majority of children may read the works and be able to set them aside without further curiosity, many in the occult world credit the Rowling books with increased interest in their offerings. While we may be assured our own children may not later dabble in witchcraft, or spell casting, how can we be assured our children's friends or our neighbors are not? Hell, Satan, and evil are real. As Christians and Catholics we are called on to not only acknowledge and reject the reality of evil, we are called to spiritual warfare against the forces of evil. How can we do this properly if we allow ourselves and our children to imbibe in these so called harmless entertainments?

O'Brien does not shy away from taking on other literary forces at work in popular culture today. He also takes on the Twilight Saga, and Philip Pullman's Dark Materials, as well as several recently popular movies. Well written, well argued, and a quick read; and regardless of how you feel about Harry Potter, I highly recommend this book for High School students and adults.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010


I made this for Father's Day dinner and it was really delicious and comforting. I served this with Ina Garten's Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread, substituting goat's milk for the milk and cooking some without the cheese for my little guy with milk allergies.

A Northern Girl's Take on Jambalaya

6 to 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound Andouille sausage, cut into bite sized chunks
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
2 cups Texas basmati brown rice
4 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper

Salt and pepper both sides of chicken thighs. Heat oil over medium high heat in a large dutch oven or large deep skillet. Add chicken skin side down and brown for about 8 minutes. Turn and brown on the other side for about 5 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan. Peel the skin off the thighs and discard. Set chicken aside. Add diced onion to the pan and saute until deep golden brown and beginning to crisp on the edges. Add all the spices and garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir to coat with oil and spices. Pour chicken stock over rice and nestle reserved chicken thighs and sausage in the pan. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, reduce to low and cover, simmering until most of the juices are absorbed and the rice is tender, about 45 minutes for the Texmati brown rice. Serve with cornbread and Tabasco for a little extra kick.

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Ode to My 15 Year Old

To me, your loving mother, you will forever be three years old and. . .

Singing your heart out while forming dinosaurs out of playdoh

Insisting on wearing your purple cat costume to Burger King

Asking to watch "Tar Wars" yet once more

Begging to be carried by your Daddy while your 1 year old sister walks under her own power

Giggling hysterically while your Daddy gives you another "chicken ride" through the house

Wearing your Hotwheels backpack laden with at least 15 pounds worth of die cast metal toy airplanes, your favorite Hotwheel cars, and your entire collection of Star Wars action figures. . .

You have been a joyful blessing to us. We are enjoying you more each day. May God continue to bless you and give you wisdom as you draw nearer to adulthood. Happy Birthday!
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Our Little Theologian

I had quite the conversation with Lil' Wingnut last evening. I really don't recall any of our other 5 children asking such deep, thoughtful questions about God at such a young age. The conversation went as follows:

"Mama, does God control me?"

"No, little guy. God gave you free will to choose to do right or wrong. God wants you to freely choose to love him and if you didn't have free will you couldn't really love God. Does that make sense?"


Later in the evening I thought I'd review a bit of our conversation to see if any of it had made an impression on the three year old.

"Lil' Guy, does God control you?"


"That's right. What gift does he give you so that you can freely choose to love him?"


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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Small Successes:???

Danielle has been slow in posting Small Successes at Faith and Family today, but I'll keep on with the tradition anyhoo. . .

Small Successes for June 17, 2010

1) There is a small window of time in the morning when I feel halfway decent, so anything that desperately needs to be done must be done in that window. One day this week I was able to clean out/reorganize the indoor refrigerator. I didn't quite make it around to washing the fridge out, but I did wipe down the major spills. A little improvement is better than nothing.

2) I stayed on top of the endless piles of laundry this week. That is a feat in itself.

3) I've filled out the paper work to switch our family from military healthcare to the US Family Healthcare Plan through Johns Hopkins. I'm bound and determined to not be harassed throughout this pregnancy. I've done this enough time that I know what I want in OB care and I've heard wonderful things about the care received at the Johns Hopkins clinics.

Bonus--We prayed a family rosary every night this week. I've really had this on my heart lately and a couple revelations over this last weekend have truly convicted me to make our nightly rosary a priority.

Have any Small Successes to share? Leave your link at Faith and Family Live.
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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Godfamily Came

Have you ever seen the children's book The Relatives Came? This weekend was incredibly similar to that story, except it was Skoshi A's godfamily that came. They have six kids and if you've never had 16 people living in your house for a weekend you have truly missed out on a lot of noise, and even more fun.

On Friday, Godmother, her sweet baby boy, Karate Kid, Oleander, and I headed to the IHM Homeschooling Conference in Chantilly. It was fantastic! I was able to purchase most of our materials for the upcoming school year and listened to wonderful presentations by Dr. Mary Kay Clark and Father Tom Euteneuer of HLI. Hopefully I'll get around to writing about what Fr. Euteneuer's talk was about. He is incredibly dynamic and I believe the teens his talk was geared toward left the conference with quite a bit to think and pray about.

While we were enjoying the conference, the fellas headed downtown with the remaining 8 children and visited a couple of museums. The remainder of the weekend was spent feeding 12 constantly starving children, playing outside, praying the rosary, and visiting with our dear friends. It was a whirlwind, but so enjoyable.

Stat Boy spent quite a bit of time with this little cutie. He thought Stat Boy was hysterical and Stat Boy managed to take some very cute pictures of the baby smiling and laughing.

Wingnut and I are blessed to be the Godparents of this special guy.

I like this picture of me better, so I had to post this one, too.

Skoshi A with her incredible Godparents.

I think I need a little practice composing shots with 12 children. They were not too cooperative to begin with. I then could not get them to be serious and knock off the bunny ears. Finally, I ended up with a 13th child that decided this group looked fun.
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010


--Stat Boy and I just returned from our first funeral Mass. Msgr.'s father passed away last week and Msgr. requested his altar boys serve the Mass. It was a touching and beautiful celebration. I think there was at least a dozen priests concelebrating. What a wonderful grace. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon him. May the soul of Arthur Eugene Parry rest in peace.

--Normally we do not tell folks we are expecting so early in a pregnancy, but we really felt we needed our children to know. We knew they would pray constantly for their new sibling. We also knew they couldn't keep it secret for long, so we let them tell their friends. News travels VERY fast. I had several people congratulate us at the funeral today.

--Nausea is my constant companion. Whoever coined the term "morning sickness" must have been a man. Mine begins at about 10 am and lasts the whole stinking day. It's at the worst in the evening. I'm not having any cravings, but I'm not having aversions either. I'm counting all the little blessings.

--Lil' Wingnut has a suggestion for a baby name: Gaggory. We're pretty sure he means Gregory.

--Special K left me a little list of her suggestions for renaming the blog: "Half a Dozen + 1", "No More Half a Dozen", and "Half a Dozen +2". The last one is just in case we have twins.

--Today is my Dad's birthday. Hope you have a very happy and blessed birthday, Dad. You're the best! One of my fondest memories is when you were teaching me to drive and I backed the Datsun into a tree. You got out. Walked around the back of the car and just shrugged your shoulders and that was it. We didn't even tell Mom and just let her discover it on her own. That memory always makes me smile. I don't know why.

--I believe the Holy Spirit is prodding me to be more consistent with our family rosary. When the children were little, we very rarely missed praying the rosary before bedtime. Over the last couple years, because of evening activities, we've become a little more lax and sometimes will miss praying a rosary several times a week. This weekend I had two separate families tell us that they pray their family rosaries because of our example. One family had not even met us yet, but had heard about us through a mutual friend. Wow, you never know how your family might influence others. I suddenly feel a great responsibility to these families to keep our rosaries going. Dr. Mary Kay Clark spoke at the IHM Conference on Friday. She also encourages a family rosary saying, "You cannot be a Catholic homeschooling family and not pray the rosary." Ok, Holy Spirit, I hear you.
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Monday, June 14, 2010

The Greatest Gift a Child Could Want

So, I've been praying for more patience. It looks like my prayers were answered. Anyone have any good ideas for a name change to this blog? Apparently Half a Dozen will no longer fit :)

We told our children last night that they have been given the gift of a new sibling. Their reactions were so completely beautiful.
Stat boy smiled calmly and began offering his ideas for names for a new sibling. He had just spent the entire weekend playing with our dear friend's five month old. He absolutely loves babies and babies absolutely love him. How many 15 year old boys pay any attention at all to small children? Oleander grinned from ear to ear. Skoshi A, through her tears, declared they had just been talking about how wonderful it would be to have another baby. Special K thought we were joking. Lil' Wingnut immediately asked to see the baby in my stomach, but the best reaction came from our 17 year old daughter, with tears streaming down her cheeks, she thanked us repeatedly. She's been praying for another sibling for several years now and honestly thought we'd "given up". I told her, there is no giving up.

In a family open to life, there is no greater gift than the gift of a new life. Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Small Successes: June Bride Edition

Small Successes for June 10, 2010:

1. Filled out grade sheets and transcripts for my two high schooler and calculated their overall GPA, using a nifty internet resource, of course!

2. To celebrate the beginning of our summer fun, I'm taking the kiddos to the National Zoo today. We'll be meeting two of my blogging buddies(Mallu Mom and Dawn) and their children there. It should be a lovely day.

3. Wingnut and I celebrated 19 years of wedded bliss. In today's terms, that counts as a huge success, but for us, it's still a small one. We count on many, many, many more years of the same.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Sacred Duty of Parenthood

This post may come across as harsh and unsympathetic, but please bear with me. Two beautiful, young women are dead. They are dead because a monster took their lives, unfortunately, a portion of the blame for the death of these two women must be laid at the feet of their own parents.

For Natalie Holloway and Stefany Flores there was a lapse in the protection their parents should have provided. There was a failure on the part of their parents in safeguarding their innocence and reputations. What else could explain why a young 18 year old would have no qualms about downing multiple shots of rum and then leave her friends and chaperones for the beach with a stranger? How else does one explain why a lovely 21 year old young woman would enter a stranger's hotel room, alone?

We are failing our daughters. Permissive parenting, lack of supervision, and outright negligence in protecting their innocence is putting our children's lives at risk. There will always be monsters, but we need to stop making it so easy for them to prey upon our children.

I am truly sorry the Holloways and Flores lost their beautiful daughters. I cannot even fathom the suffering they must be going through, but I refuse to stand by and permit my own daughters to be victims because of my own negligence in sheltering them. It is our sacred duty to shield and defend our children's innocence, for as long as we are able.
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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

End of School Year Report

Whew! Another home school year down, and a fairly successful one at that!

Special K has become our next auto-didactic learner. She is reading independently and able to follow the instructions in her lessons with little or no supervision. We discovered she is a little math whiz and she absolutely loves science--especially anything related to weather or astronomy. We also learned the key to keeping her focused is a little protein in the morning right before school.

Skoshi A had a great year, as well. She made significant progress in math, spelling and piano. It is an absolutely rewarding experience when one of your children makes an exceptional leap in skills. She's also become quite a good little writer. We'll be sure to do more writing, especially journaling, next year.

Oleander was the first to finish her school year. She's a diligent and hard worker. I could just pile on the work and she could handle it no problem. She worked above her grade level in most every subject and did extremely well. She's a smarty.

Stat Boy may have had a rough beginning, but it was more attitude than ability. He and I were both a bit surprised as I worked on grades and transcripts yesterday to discover he ended the year with a 4.0! He has made a good start in high school, but we will need to bump up the number of subjects next year. In the end he only earned 6 credits for the year, and he needs a minimum of 28 total to graduate.

Karate Kid had her best year to date. This kid amazes me. She works so hard and takes her schooling so seriously, and it shows. She ended the year with a 4.18, took an AP exam, has progressed to the next level in the National Merit Scholarship selection process (top 50,000 scorers in the nation), and made a significant improvement in her SAT score (over 300 points improvement over her first attempt). We are hoping to enroll her in a couple college courses at the local community college during her senior year next year.

Yep, looking back on our year, it turned out to be very productive. Home school life is good!
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Monday, June 7, 2010

For God so Loved the World

Yesterday was the Solemnity of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ, which in our parish culminated in a solemn Eucharistic procession followed by a picnic celebrating our parish's connection to the Most Sacred Heart. It's one of my favorite days of the whole year, filled with the beauty of the Mass and procession, and the joy of family fun and visiting with wonderful friends. Sadly, our day ended early with a fast moving thunderstorm and a tornado warning.

Monsignor's homily was wonderful and I hope I can do it justice in summary. Basically, God loves mankind so much he desires to be as close to us as he can. He does this through the gift of the Most Holy Eucharist. In the sacrament of communion he is able to be inside us, not only spiritually, but physically. This ultimate gift of himself is a demonstration of how much he loves us. If God loves humanity this much, then we should love humanity to the same extent. What we have and own are of no matter to God. We are what matter to God.

This homily resonated with me especially as I had just read a wonderful article by Rabbi Boteach on what it means to raise a large family in our culture today. Rabbi Boteach is a bit of a puzzle for me. I can't say I know much about him other than he is an Orthodox Jew, an American, a bit of a celebrity, and has close connections to Oprah and Michael Jackson (before his recent death). Still, this is a lovely article and I felt it was truly relevant to the celebrations that took place in our parish yesterday; very much worth a read and a bit of reflection.
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Friday, June 4, 2010

Welcome Summer!

Is there anything more fun than a Slip n' Slide?

Our Lil' guy never hesitates to dive right in and have fun, especially when it comes to water.

Skoshi A slides with her whole being.

Only Special K would think to strike a pose at the bottom.
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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Small Successes: I'm So Proud of You

Small Successes for June 3, 2010:

1) I'm going to my first ever homeschool conference next weekend. I know! I've been homeschooling 12 years and have never gone to a conference of any kind. My favorite suppliers will be there and I can save a ton on shipping, plus many are giving discounts to conference attendees. I have my book list for next school year all ready to go in anticipation of saving a little money. Efficient and thrifty!

2) I stayed on top of the laundry, for the most part, this week. Of course, the whole process begins again today. Our poor washer and dryer rarely get a break.

3) It's been smoking hot here the last few days. Going to the pool has not been super convenient, so we made a stop at Target yesterday to pick up a couple of water toys. One purchase was a $8 Slip n' Slide. My three youngest had a blast staying cool while slipping and sliding all over the yard. Unfortunately, $8 doesn't buy much in the way of sturdiness. After about an hour, Special K managed to put a huge hole in the bumper of the slide. The Slip 'n Slide company did not provide nearly big enough patches to cover that hole. Thankfully, our kids are pretty resourceful. They've already come up with a way they can still use the slide.
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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dump the Frump

Famed trainer and television star, Jillian Michaels, announced to the world in a US Magazine interview, she would not be having kids "the natural way". Explaining she just couldn't do that to her body. How sad it is that her appearance is more important to her than giving life to a child, her sculpted abs mean more to her than experiencing the miracle of pregnancy. I don't blame Jillian. She makes her living based on her appearance. I suppose stretch marks don't sell much in the fitness market.

Years ago, when I was pregnant with our third, my hairdresser proclaimed she'd never have more than two children. In her limited experience, children age you and turn you into an old, dowdy, boring, housewife and mother. She went on to express her pity for those poor shabby women stuck at home with all those kids. Sigh.

I'll be honest, I went through a phase for a year or two where I didn't think it mattered how I looked. I even went out in public in my pj bottoms on a regular basis. They were comfortable, I had several kiddos, and I believed I just didn't have time to take care of myself properly. Besides, it really didn't matter, right? I wonder how many young women observed me in all my frumpy glory with my little brood of babies and thought to themselves, "I'm never going to have children if that's what is going to happen to me! Yikes!"

Does it really take that much more time to run a brush through our hair, put on a real outfit, and throw on a little mascara or lipstick? I have several friends with more children than I do. They are some of the most beautiful and confident women I know. They almost always look "put together" and they make it look effortless. What a wonderful example they set for younger moms. Over the years I've readjusted my thinking to realize that I am an example of motherhood to other women. I try to dress nicely, fix my hair, put on a little make-up and a pair of earrings as a way of saying, "Having a small army of offspring does not mean you have to let your self go. Be a proud, beautiful, put together mama. It is possible."
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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Crab Cakes, Southwestern Style

I know my Maryland friends are going to hunt me down for messing with a Maryland staple like crab cakes, but really adding a little Southwestern twist adds a delicious little punch.

Southwestern Crab Cakes
24 ounces crab meat (you don't have to buy expensive crab for this at all)
2 stalks celery; minced fine
1/4 red onion; minced fine
1/4 cup cilantro leaves; chopped
1 small jalapeno; ribs and seeds removed and minced fine
4 TBSP mayonnaise
1 egg; lightly beaten
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs (found in the asian aisle)
Canola oil for frying

In a large bowl stir together celery, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, mayonnaise, egg, salt and pepper and 1/4 cup of the Panko. Add the crab and toss gently until just combined. Gently form balls about two and a half inches in diameter. Roll each ball in the remaining Panko crumbs until lightly coated. Transfer to a baking sheet covered in foil and gently press down to form patties about the size of your palm. This will make 12 patties. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. This will help set the patties, as they are very delicate and will have the tendency to break apart during cooking if they are not slightly frozen first. Heat enough oil in a heavy fry pan so that the patties will sit in oil about halfway up their sides while frying. Gently place 5 to 6 crab cakes in the hot oil and fry for 3 minutes. Turn very carefully and fry for about 2 more minutes. Remove and drain on a layer of paper towels. Repeat with remaining cakes. Squeeze a touch of lime juice on each crab cake. Serve with creamy chipotle sauce or jalapeno mayo (recipes follow)

Creamy Chipotle Sauce

4 Tbsp sour cream
1 Tbsp minced red onion
1 Tbsp minced cilantro
1 1/2 chipotle pepper packed in adobo sauce; minced fine
Small squeeze of lime

Stir all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use.

Jalapeno Mayo

4 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 Tbsp sour cream
1/4 pickled jalapenos; chopped

Stir all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use.

Crab cakes ready to go into the freezer.

Finished crab cakes with creamy chipotle sauce and pineapple mango salsa as a side.
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