Thursday, December 30, 2010

Shrimp Po' Boys

I love a good Po' Boy. Who knew it would be so easy to make Shrimp Po' Boys at home.

Shrimp Po' Boys with Chipotle Mayo
makes 6 to 8 sandwiches

2 lbs large frozen shrimp; defrosted, peeled, cleaned, and tails removed
1 TBSP Salt
2 TBSP Old Bay or Cajun seasoning
1 cup cornmeal
Oil for frying
4 Crusty french flutes cut in half and then split and lightly toasted in the oven
1 cup mayonnaise
2 TBSP minced chipotle peppers packed in adobo sauce or 2 TBSP Smoky Tabasco
Juice from 1/2 lime
Sliced spicy pickled peppers

In a colander, toss shrimp with salt and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Rinse and drain throughly, then toss with 1 TBSP seasoning of choice and allow to marinate for 15 minutes. Stir remaining seasoning into cornmeal and toss marinated shrimp to coat, shaking off excess dredge. Add oil to a large skillet so that it comes about halfway up the sides. Heat oil until a dusting of cornmeal added to the skillet begins to sizzle. Add shrimp in batches, being sure to not over crowd the pan and fry for about 2 minutes. Flip the shrimp and fry on the other side for another 2 minutes. Move to a paper towel covered plate to drain.

To make the chipotle mayo, stir together the mayo, chipotles, and lime juice, season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

To assemble sandwiches, spread the bread with a generous amount of chipotle mayo, fill with a portion of fried shrimp, dress with lettuce, tomato, peppers and pickles as desired.
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bear With Me . . .

. . . things are a bit busy and hectic around here. Between putting together 5 portfolios for the county's annual homeschool review, 7 doctors' appointments, celebrating the season with family and friends, having work done on two vehicles, naps and complete and utter exhaustion as Leo's due date approaches, I just don't have anything left for blogging. I do have a great recipe and a movie review in my brain, just waiting to be posted, and hopefully I will get to those later this week. Pax!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jockeying for Position

We've been hearing rumors about Lil' Wingnut's plans when his baby brother arrives in February. Of course, it doesn't help much that the moron 15 year old has been telling his little brother that Leo is plotting against him. Teenagers, sheesh!

I know we are in for it, as we haven't had the heart to kick the Lil' Guy out of our bed yet. He's insistent Leo can just room with Stat Boy, while he maintains his place in our room. Right now our working solution for that issue is to bring the spare mattress into our room for Leo and I and Lil' Wingnut can keep his spot, temporarily, with Wingnut. We'll get him out of our room in good time, I'm sure.

Apparently, Lil' Wingnut was telling his siblings that Leo can cuddle with Daddy, while he cuddles with me, because big boys need their mama more than babies. We had to have a sit-down-big-boy-talk with him last night. It was a feeble attempt at explaining to him that babies truly do need their mama's more than big boys. I'm fairly sure he was unconvinced.

Hang-on Baby Leo, it's gonna be a bumpy ride!
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Time Lapsed Lunar Eclipse

This time lapsed video of the Lunar Eclipse on December 21, 2010 is absolutely stunning.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun. . . Psalm 19:1-4 Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

An Agonizing Decision

For thirteen years we have stood our ground against immunizing our children. With each new babe, it has always been a most agonizing decision and I've spent many worried nights with coughing infants, stressing over the idea it might be pertussis.

Truly the only vaccination I've teetered back and forth over has been the DTaP or DTP. Pertussis is a frightening disease and I've known at least one person that has had it and her story terrified me. Morally, there really aren't any questions about the vaccine itself. Unlike immunizations for chickenpox, measles, mumps, and rubella, the vaccines used to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis are not derived of human diploid cells from aborted fetal tissue. The reason it has been so hard for me to go ahead and immunize my kiddos has been the fact that our oldest son had a frightening reaction to his first dose at 2 months old, which led us to begin research into the potential dangers and questionable efficacy of our nation's compulsory vaccination program. In the end, after much reading, consulting, and praying, we shunned vaccinations for our children altogether.

The combination of new and increasing pertussis outbreaks, a new vulnerable life being added to our family, a change in our previously more isolated lifestyle, and a few accidents that led to our questioning how do we best protect our active children from tetanus without vaccinating them, led us to reexamine our complete rejection of immunization. Yesterday morning, Lil' Wingnut was the first of our 4 completely non-immunized children to receive his first shot. He was brave and did not cry. He examined his stuck leg and determined, "That kinda hurted." And he is resigned to the idea that in four short weeks he'll be stuck again, and again in another four weeks, and one last time after another six months.

We are biting the bullet and trusting we have made the right determination for our family, but it certainly was not an easy decision to make.

There are two books I regularly recommend on the subject of vaccinations. The first being The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for your Child by Dr. Robert Sears. This book has plenty of information on vaccinations, the research behind them, the controversies surrounding them, arguments for and against immunizations , as well as an alternative immunization schedule. The second book helped guide our initial child healthcare decisions; How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor by Dr. Robert Mendelsohn. This book gives very convincing evidence against the compulsory vaccination program as well as general pediatric advice for keeping your children healthy without resorting to too often excessive and invasive medical interventions.

For more information regarding Catholic moral debate on vaccines see Children of God for Life. Their site has a wealth of information and resources to peruse. For a sample list of the potentially toxic and morally questionable ingredients in common vaccines see this resource. As Catholics we are called to follow our own properly formed Moral Conscience. To best do this we should arm ourselves with trustworthy information and then pray, pray, pray.

As a final word, this the decision we have made for our family. I would never impose our choice on others. The decision to give or not to give any or all immunizations is one that should be left to each individual family and should not be imposed by any other single individual (doctor or otherwise), government, power or institution.
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Your Daily Dose of Lil' Wingnut Cuteness

Wingnut thinks I blog too much about Lil' Wingnut and not enough about him. Whatever. How can I pass up sweet stories like the following:

Lil' Wingnut: Ooh, Mama, what is this? It is so beautiful!

Me: That's Daddy's Presidential Medal. The President gave it to him. Did the President give you one?

Lil' Wingnut: No. Is it magnetic?

Me: No. It has little pins on it to keep it on Daddy's shirt.

He then picks up a pair of silver wings from Wingnut's uniform: Ooh! This is nice too! Is it magnetic?

Me: Those are Daddy's pilot's wings. They aren't magnetic either. You have to be a pilot to have those. Are you a pilot?

Lil' Wingnut with downcast face: No.

He then picks up Wingnut's name tag that bears our family's last name and holds it up to me with a big grin on his face as he reads it and realizes that it is his last name.

Me: Yep, that's your last name too.

Lil' Wingnut: Is it magnetic?

Me: No, it has little pins to keep it on Daddy's shirt.

Lil' Wingnut: Can I have it?

Me: No, Daddy needs it for his uniform, but I bet he has an old one you can have.

At this point, Wingnut gets up and starts rummaging around for old uniform name tags. He comes across a medal he earned by playing on the handball team at the Academy and gives it to his lil' guy. Lil' Guy is thrilled, but becomes even more so as Wingnut hands him an old name tag. Adding to the thrill, this particular tag is magnetic! He wears both proudly for about all of about 5 minutes. It sure was a cute 5 minutes.
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Movie Review: Sweet Land

Let us hope that we are all preceded in this world by a love story . . .

I was first attracted to this film as it depicts the story of Norwegian immigrant farmers in Minnesota in 1920. My father's family were Norwegian immigrant farmers in the Dakotas in the early 1900s. Based upon Will Weaver's short story A Gravestone of Wheat, this under-promoted Indy pic is more than a story of the plight of immigrant farmers, it is the love story of Olaf and Inge.

Inge arrives in Minnesota to marry Olaf, having never seen nor met him. The fact she is of German descent and lacks immigration papers becomes the obstacle to their immediate marriage. Being in post-World War I America leads to suspicion of Inge in the small town and further thwarts their efforts to marry. Inge is left to live with Olaf's friends, Francen and Brownie and their 9 children until the proper paperwork can be obtained. After living in cramped quarters and without privacy, a fed up Inge imposes herself upon a shocked Olaf. She takes over his home and he is left to sleep in the barn. When the local minister discovers their cohabitation he outs them during a church sermon and the entire community, already suspicious of the German born girl, completely shun the couple.

Amid a backdrop story of the hardships of farming and foreclosures, is a love story with the land and the lifestyle of the immigrant farmer. Well cast, beautifully shot, and a lovely narrative make this a truly engaging film, despite periods that felt plodding and slow-moving. Brief rear-nudity, and morally problematic treatment of cohabitation make this film appropriate for older teens and adults only.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

What Exactly Makes this a Christmas Song?

Ok, I know I need an attitude adjustment, so sue me. The annual Christmas Musical put on by our piano teacher is not my favorite way of spending a Sunday afternoon. An hour and a half of poorly prepared Christmas music played on the piano is torturous, but we go because we love our piano teacher and we want to support our children's piano aspirations.

This year's performance was particularly abominable. Many students elected to not play Christmas tunes at all, leaving me wondering if it was intentional. Seriously, if you don't want to celebrate Christmas, don't, but don't hijack our celebration just to make a point. The absolute worst slap in the face was the father and son duet to John Lennon's "Imagine". Seriously? This had to be intentional. How could you not realize how completely anti-Christian, anti-religion, and anti-Christmas this song is? Argh!

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

I know I'm over-simplifying and projecting a bit here, but basically, according to these performers, Christmas is the reason for war, greed, and hunger.

Thankfully a couple of more talented kiddos played music from "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!" At least Linus gets it.
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

In the Immortal Words of Gob Bluth, "C'mon!"

I don't ask for much, really I don't. Is it too much to ask for one nice family photo a year? Is it? Someone(I'm not mentioning any names) in this family will not cooperate. It's not like I asked them to sit for a formal photo in a studio, or to wear matching lumberjack outfits, or hold silly props. We just happened to be in the same place at the same time, and happened to be dressed nicely, and happened to be at the National Shrine, which is a lovely location for a quick, informal family photo. But this is what I was given to work with. . .

Yep, Wingnut and Lil' Wingnut were the culprits.

If one happened to cooperate, the other was sure to make a ridiculous face.

I can't really blame the 4 year year old. He's too much like his father.


And so, this is the family portrait that will go in all of our Christmas cards this year. Should I offer an explanation? Seriously, c'mon!
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This is the Same Boy . . .

. . . who used to kick and scream about going to Mass when he was little and now he is volunteering to go to extra Masses so that he can serve on the Altar.

Statboy used to be absolutely incorrigible when it came to going to Mass. He would fling his little three year old body on his bed and declare adamently he was not going. We've never considered him to be a particularly holy boy, but something has happened to him since becoming an altar server in our parish five years ago. He truly loves to serve. He loves it so much, he heads straight to the sacristy when we arrive at the church to see if there is an open spot on the serving team. He loves it so much, that even knowing we were planning on going to the noon Mass on Sunday, when another boy called and needed a substitute for the 4:30 Vigil Mass, Statnut not only enthusiastically offered to cover for him, he explained to me that he would also come with us on Sunday. Guess what? He served the Sunday Mass too.

There is something to be said about young men serving at the Altar. This service could be the first steps toward a vocation to the Priesthood, absolutely, but even more importantly, serving is a step toward holiness. One cannot serve on the Altar of Our Lord and not be touched by the Mystery of the Real Presence and by profound holiness.

Our parish, its altar boy program, and a particular altar server were recently featured in a lovely article for the Catholic Standard. You can read the article here. If you look closely, you'll see our boy standing in the background.
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Saint Nick Knows How to Win the Hearts of Children

"You see. I didn't get a single chunk of coal in my stocking!"

We've spent the last several weeks trying to convince Lil' Wingnut that every child does and should love Saint Nick. I blogged about it here. He was absolutely convinced he was going to receive coal in his stocking due to his disdain for Santa. Boy, was he ever surprised this morning, when on the Feast of Good Saint Nicholas he received not coal, but slippers, candy, and a Nerf Dart Tag Target. You see, Saint Nick knows Lil' Wingnut is a huge fan of the History Channel's reality show Top Shot. He also knows that for some children, a chubby old man, dressed in a furry red suit, who invades your home in the middle of the night, might come across as a bit creepy. Thankfully, despite his feeling for Santa, Lil' Wingnut has been a very, very good little boy this year.

Happy Feast of Saint Nicholas!

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Behind the Curve but Still on Track

Sunday marked the beginning of Advent. I realized this reality a bit late. Where did the time go? I had all these grand plans to stitch these beautiful Jesse Tree Ornaments from a kit I purchased online last year. I should have begun this project in October at the latest, but as life often does, life got in the way. I began stitching on Saturday. Just a tad late, right? As of today, I have four stitched, but unfinished, with 24 to go. Yeah, it's not happening this year. I'll continue working at this project with a goal to finish before Leo arrives. That's an achievable goal.

So what to do for a devotional instead? When I first began blogging, I had no idea what a rich resource I would find among the Catholic blogging community. So many of my blogging buddies recommended this Advent Devotional from A Holy Experience. I downloaded, printed, stapled the booklet, and cut out the lovely paper Jesse Tree ornaments yesterday. We began our devotionals this morning. Three days in and just getting started is not too bad in my book lately. I must say, this is one of the most beautiful devotionals I've ever read for Advent and it is free!

What are you doing to prepare? Check out A Holy Experience's Jesse Tree Advent Devotional for your family. It's never to late to start.
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