Sunday, January 31, 2010

19 Years

I know these pictures are small, but it's the best I could do right now. Scottie is going to try and make them bigger. But I really wanted to write a post about my grandma who passed away 19 years ago today. Her name was Mary Leigh. That's where we got part of Avery's middle name, Joleigh. We ,the grandkids, called her Mimi.

I only had thirteen years with her, but she really made an impact on me in that short amount time. So I wanted to list nineteen memories/thoughts of the wonderful woman that was my Mimi. Most of these memories may sound silly, but since she left this world too soon they are from the eyes of a child.

19. She had beautiful nails, that she meticulously took care of every day. She taught me how to file and paint my nails, even as young as the first grade.

18. I loved it when she would let Curt and I water her plants throughout the house.

17. I have many memories of her sitting at the counter in their kitchen playing solitaire with a deck of cards. It always looked hard, and I'm not sure I could play now if it wasn't on the computer. ;)

16. She had a great laugh. I can still hear it even after all of these years.

15. She was a sincerely kind person. It wasn't a kindness you could fake.

14. She was a really patient grandma. The only time I ever saw her get mad was when Kelsey, Sarah, and Katie got into the bedroom that they had just bombed for fleas. The memory is a little fuzzy, but I think she hosed them down outside.

13. There were ALWAYS Jello Pops in Mimi's big green freezer. You could also count on individual cups of jello with fruit, or chocolate pudding with cool whip. :)

12. Every time we stayed all night she would get up and make pancakes with sausage patties.

11. She had a sweet soul. I remember her telling me about a kitten that passed away while she held it and how she just sat there and cried.

10. I couldn't wait for Christmas because I knew that she would buy matching presents for me and my cousin Amanda. They weren't cheap little matching stuffed animals. We got matching outfits, boots, jewelry, etc.... It was awesome!

9. She was a great cook! I learned how to make chocolate chip cookies from her, and I think about her every time I make them. She also made "rope meat" (roast tied with string) for me because she knew how much I liked it.

8. She was the mother of seven. Sadly, three went to be with the Lord before her. Now that I'm older and understand more about the real world, it amazes me that she still had a smile on her face and a good outlook on life. She was a great mother.

7. She always had flowers growing in their back yard. I especially remember the roses by the white brick wall.

6. She drove a car that she called Rosebud. I love that she named her car.

5. She made the BEST cherry pie.

4. She never put people down. She was an encourager.

3. She had a calm presence. Which was needed in our family. We are a passionate family, and sometimes emotions can run high. But we also possess a wicked good sense of humor!

2. She was beautiful - inside and out.

1. You never had to wonder if you were loved. She had enough love for everyone and you knew it.

I miss my Mimi. She left a hole in our hearts and in our family that can never be filled. But I am thankful for every day I got to spend with her.

(If you have a memory of her, feel free to leave a comment. I changed it so anyone can write on the blog. If you don't have a google account just click the button next to Name.)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Baked Potato Soup

Here is another great recipe from Tasty Kitchen. I didn't get a picture of the soup I made the other night, so I used the picture from the recipe. If you are having a day where calories don't even enter your mind, then you should make this soup. I don't make it often, but there are days when the thought of bacon, cheese, and sour cream only mean yum - not fat!! I use 2% milk and light sour cream. It's funny that I now think using 2% is an indulgence from our regular fat-free milk. I grew up on whole milk, and I thought 2% was milk flavored water. Now I think it's "thick." Just a random fact about me.

Anyway, this soup is perfect for these cold snowy days. So give it a try, and then go run a couple of miles. ;)
  • 4 Large Baking Potatoes
  • 2/3 Cup (11 Tablespoons) Butter Or Margarine
  • 2/3 Cup All-purpose Flour
  • 6 Cups Milk
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
  • 4 Green Onions, Chopped And Divided
  • 12 Slices Bacon, Cooked, Crumbled, And Divided
  • 1-1/4 Cups (5 Ounces) Shredded Cheddar Cheese, Divided
  • 1 (8-ounce) Carton Sour Cream
  • Chicken Bouillon (optional)

Preparation Instructions

Wash potatoes and prick several times with a fork; bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until done. Let cool. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise; then scoop out pulp, and set aside. Discard skins.

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly.

Add potato pulp, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons green onions, 1/2 cup bacon, and 1 cup cheese. Cook until thoroughly heated; stir in sour cream. Add extra milk, if necessary, for desired thickness. Add little bit of chicken bouillon for extra flavoring. Serve with remaining onion, bacon, and cheese.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Random January Moments

You can find Avery with something around her neck at any given moment during the day. She loves to put Gracie's purses on, as well as draping Scottie's belts around her neck. It's a little strange watching her walk around with random objects hanging off of her.

Avery is showing off her mad basketball skills with the hoop Grace got for Christmas from Mam-maw and Pap-paw.

I laughed so hard when I flipped on the light and saw this sleeping beauty in my bed.

Grace is a celebrity! She was so excited to see her face on the back of the Bloomington Parks and Recreation winter/spring program book. It's a picture from the art class she took this summer. She feels so cool!

Nana came to visit and took us to Panera while Grace was at school. Then we had to take a trip to Gordman's. If you don't have one I feel bad for you. They have an awesome selection of decorating items for cheap. The first time we went I told Scottie that Mom would love this place. I wasn't wrong, we go every time she comes to visit. ;)

Avery wanted to wear Nie-Nie's boots. For some reason she started calling Mom that name. We decided it was meant to be as it sounds like a combination of Nana and Mimi, which is what we called my grandma.

This is Avery's new favorite activity. I can't wait until there is sun shining through that window. I'm so tired of this gray gloomy January.

The girls were spending some time together on the "poofy chair." Avery was feeding Grace baby cheese puffs.

Avery thought it would be fun to pelt her big sister in the head with puffs. Grace thought it was hilarious, so of course Avery did several times.

We are happy that January is almost over, because that means we are one month closer to Spring!!!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Last Day of Disney!!

Be prepared, there are a lot of pictures in this post! But it was our last day, and I had to get as many memories on film as I could. This is Grace on our last morning waiting for the Magic Kingdom bus, ears and all!!

This is a creepy Disney employee attacking Grace. Actually he was a silly employee and made our wait for the bus more entertaining.

Daddy and Avery chilling together and you guessed it... waiting for the bus. I hated waiting. It always seemed as if every other park's bus would come around before our bus. I'm sure that's not true, but it always felt like it!

The girls and I made a trip to the candy store when we got to the Magic Kingdom. Grace picked a giant lollipop, and Avery thought it was awesome! We told her she couldn't open it until we got back to Indiana, but it's been several weeks now and it's still unopened. It's so pretty that I hate to see her eat it.

The blanket in front of Avery is our awesome fleece blanket we bought, and needed, at the park. It has a picture of the castle lit up at night. It is super soft and wasn't very expensive.

Avery was trying very hard to unwrap the tempting sucker, but luckily she isn't that skilled - yet.

How many happy babies do you see waiting in line? She was so happy throughout the entire trip. I wish I could say the same for Grace, but we'll get to that later.

This my friends is an example of why it is so important to choose your clothes carefully when spending the day at an amusement park. People who are waiting in line have nothing better to do than examine and judge your outfit. If you enlarge the picture you will see why . Seriously, how many different stripes can you wear in one outfit???!!! His undershirt has diagonal stripes, the sweater has horizontal, and the pants have vertical ones. Hilarious!

Awww... the Dumbo ride. I wish I could say that we took this picture to capture the joy they felt while riding this ride. But every time we checked the line, it had at least a 70 minute wait. Sorry Dumbo, but you aren't that thrilling. Maybe next time.

Appropriate title :)

Sneaking in a little rest by Cinderella's castle.

We wanted to get a family picture in front of the castle with all of our Mickey Mouse shirts. Unfortunately Avery was still sleeping, but she has a Minnie Mouse shirt on too.

Another example about choosing outfits carefully. The girl to the right has Louis Vuitton written across her butt, and the guy on the left is wearing white canvas shoes without socks. I don't have any fashion sense, but even I know that neither one of those looks are good!

Our lunch reservations were at The Coral Reef restaurant at Epcot. We rode the monorail over from the Magic Kingdom. It was so much nicer than the buses. I was excited to get a picture in front of the Epcot ball. I had always seen pictures of it, but this is the first year I saw it for myself.

Don't we look like a nice, happy, calm family? Well, 30 minutes before this picture was taken we were a cranky, unhappy, loud family. Grace was being awful and Avery was screaming. Scottie and I were about to lose our minds. Luckily everything settled down after we ate. Technically this was our lunch, and we ate at 3:20. I'm sure you can guess why we were so cranky. But Scottie and I really wanted to eat here and that was the only time they had available. You can't see it but there is a gigantic aquarium in front of us. It was really neat to sit and watch all of the fish and sharks swimming in front of us. Scottie said it made him feel weird to eat seafood in front of a bunch of fish. But you know I had chicken, so it didn't bother me! ;)

I loved the high chair that attached to the table. The only problem was that Avery could touch the bench and stand up. I'll explain why that was a problem in just a second.

Yep, that pretty much sums up our dining experience at The Coral Reef restaurant.

Okay, here is where we had problems with the cool high chair. I've already explained the devil's, uh... I mean Disney's, plan to have you eat dessert with every meal. Well I went ahead and ordered a dessert with the intentions of taking a bite or two and leaving the rest. I only got one bite before I saw Avery snatch a spoon and lunge at it with all of her might. I just sat there in shock for a minute. First of all I didn't know she could use a spoon, and second of all how did she know this was dessert? She certainly didn't attack her dinner that way.

Look at that crazed look on her face!! She has a major sweet tooth. We will have to watch this one closely!

Avery dancing outside of the restaurant.

We took the girls on the Nemo ride. It was cute, but not overly exciting. The exhibits outside of the ride were interesting. You could see the other side of the aquarium from the restaurant, and they had other little aquariums too. I think the girls enjoyed that more than the ride.

After the Nemo ride we hopped back on the monorail and headed back to the Magic Kingdom for our last night of fun. Except we weren't having much fun at this point. Grace had gotten super cranky and was being rather difficult. I may or may not have cried a little and declared that she was ruining our vacation. If that were true, I would have only said it to Scottie. But I"m not saying I behaved that way....

But look at the palm trees. Nothing says Florida like palm trees. I love Florida!

We took a few minutes to get ourselves together and then we were ready for some more rides. Although Avery looks a little drugged in this picture. I promise she only had water in her cup!

Grace insisted on getting her picture taken here. I had explained to her on the first day about the stocks and what they were used for. She didn't think they were very nice and that people shouldn't have used them. So I was surprised when she wanted this picture.

Grace wanted to model in front of the castle. I think she nailed it. ;)

I really wanted us to go on the It's a Small World ride. I know it's cheesy and a little outdated looking, but it's a classic Disney ride. It wasn't too long of a wait, but that didn't stop me from completely scaring a Chinese family when they tried to get in front of us. If you have ever been to an amusement park with me, then you know how I feel about cutters. Add the fact that it was almost 8:00 at night, well, I can't be held responsible for my actions. Sorry Chinese family, I didn't mean to frighten you. I promise. I just really hate it when people cut in line.

Daddy and Grace watching the Spectromagic parade. Avery and I were trying to leave the park, and like always we got caught by a parade. You would think we would check our map with the parade schedules on it, but we never did. So we stuck around for a few minutes and then Avery and I weaved our way through the crowds. We were both tired and I just wanted to get back to the hotel. Scottie and Grace stayed until the park closed. What can I say? They're night owls and I am not!

This is what was waiting for us when we got back to the hotel. The maid had arranged all of our stuffed animals, some old-some new, and had them watching t.v. It freaked me out at first because I couldn't figure out why the t.v. was on when I knew we had turned it off that morning. Then I saw the toys. I loved that the maid was thoughtful enough to do something fun for us. I took a picture of it because I wasn't sure if they would still be like that when Grace got back. They weren't, Avery had pulled them all down within a few minutes of this picture.

Grace was having a blast at the park while we were at the hotel. Her and Scottie rode the Buzz Lightyear ride several times. That's the benefit of staying at the park so late, the lines aren't as long.

There was a second Spectromagic parade at the end of the night. They were close this time and were able to see all of the characters. Scottie said it was pretty cool looking. I'm glad Grace got to see it up front.

One last picture in front of the castle. What an awesome place!!

Daddy was teaching Grace how to break the rules back at the hotel. Because there was a sign, clearly marked, "Do Not Climb." But it does make a cute picture!

Finally at the end of a very long day and a fun filled vacation.

Avery actually put herself to bed that night. I was trying to pack everything up so we weren't rushed in the morning. She played around for a bit and then banged on the crib and said "nigh, nigh!" I put her in there and she went to sleep. I wished that happened every night!

The next morning we had breakfast and then headed for the shuttle bus. It was a little chilly that morning. But nothing compared to what we were heading for at home.

This is the bus area. You can get to any park from here. It's also where they pick you up and take you to the airport. It's a very nice service that they offer.

Thank you Disney World for giving us so many great memories!! We will try and come back soon!

(I am going to post date all of the Disney pictures after a few days. So if you want to see them again you will have to go back to December. I just want them all together.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chicken Tacos and an Alien Invasion

I wanted to share a super easy recipe for chicken tacos. I got the recipe here at the Tasty Kitchen blog. It's a community blog started by The Pioneer Woman. If you haven't been to her website before, you should check it out. She is hilarious. I've been reading her blog for a couple of years. Anyway here is the recipe if you don't want to go to the link:
  • 3 pieces Frozen Chicken Breast
  • 1 package Taco Seasoning
  • 1 can Ro-Tel Tomatoes
  • Tortillas
  • Sour Cream
  • Shredded Cheese
Place the frozen chicken breasts in the bottom of the crock pot. Sprinkle the taco seasoning on top and pour the Ro-Tel in (do not drain). Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Once you are ready to serve, shred the chicken with 2 forks. Serve on tortillas with sour cream and cheese.

I usually use just two chicken breasts, and there is plenty for the three of us. (I saved the small bit of leftovers and put them in the freezer. If it still tastes good, then I'll probably use three breasts next time so we can have more leftovers. I'll let you know how it goes.) I also don't use the whole packet of taco seasoning, but that's because I'm not a huge fan of Mexican flavors. So if you love tacos, by all means throw all of it in there! Do not substitute the Ro-Tel tomatoes with plain tomatoes, it won't have as much flavor.
To warm the tortillas I used an ungreased skillet over med. heat and put a tortilla in there one at a time. Leave on for 15 seconds and then flip over for another 15 seconds. It made them soft and warm. I would also recommend the sour cream, or maybe some queso (if you dislike sour cream like me) because the tacos can be a little dry without it. They still taste good, but it would definitely add to the dish!

Do you see what she is doing? Do you see that smile? We certainly haven't seen it in a while. She has been very crabby and moody for the past month or so. It warmed my heart to see her smiling. I asked Scottie if aliens had invaded her body, because not only was she happy, she was helping!! Part of the reason, I'm sure, was because we told her that if she had good behavior she could watch the movie UP. I may have thrown in the promise of popcorn and a cold bottle of root beer. ;) But to be honest I think a lot of it has to do with our new house rule. No t.v. until after dinner. Plus we have moved her bedtime up to an earlier time. Anything to help bring some peace to our house! I think it's starting to help. She was actually skipping and playing with her toys yesterday after school. Let's pray that it's the added structure to our home that's helping and not aliens!!!

Look at my table! She put away all of the food, scraped the dinner dishes, and washed the table. I could get use to this. I hope we weren't breaking any child labor laws! I'm also not counting on this happening every night, but I'll take it when I can get it.

She got her reward! Popcorn, root beer, and a movie.

Avery is so sweet. She likes to feed people. I love this kid.

I am having a problem with her eating habits... she doesn't eat very much!! She would eat fruit all day if you let her. Vegetables? Maybe a few peas, corn, and occasionally cooked carrots. But there are no guarantees. She also wants to feed herself, just like Gracie did when she was younger. I tried to give her a cookie, but she wouldn't take it unless I gave her the box. THEN she would a couple. I don't know about this one.

(Look at my mighty hunting dog! He is ready to strike at any moment. He is quick too! As soon as something lands on the ground, it's gone.)

Her cuteness smooths away all of the frustrations. She thinks Cookie Monster is a bear. I love to hear her say "bare." It makes me forget that she was just screaming for the box, and just threw half of her lunch on the floor. Now you know why I colored my hair the other day... to cover up all the gray hairs I've gotten recently!! But they are both worth it.