Sunday, May 30, 2010

All aboard for a birthday party

Happy Third Birthday....PARTY!

From this:

To this:  (never again)

My friends and cousins came over and my Vaughn cousins drove 6 hours to surprise us! 

Can you guess the theme?  Hint:  rhymes with PAIN
He can NOT wait for the party to start!

A slew of presents:
A really cute half-naked little brother:
A pinata with my cousins and friends!

My big present from Dad and Mom:

Happy Birthday party, little Ryan.  I love you:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Patio Promises

I promised to show some pictures of my birthday/mothers day/anniversary present and I'm finally following through.  Along with some other fun surprises, I got THIS:

We love eating outside.  We HATE the stupid "helicopters" that bury our deck.  Yes, nature, Gods creation, beautiful....all that, but those things are ANNOYING.  I think they are finally done falling so we'll sweep one last time.  I also need an umbrella.  If anyone finds one that doesn't cost a zillion dollars, but isn't the cheapy plastic flimsy kind, let me know and I'll give you a present. The table is great because it sits 6 comfortably and came with a bonus:

2 lounge chairs with little ottomans and side table.  Fun, fun, fun.  I can just imagine myself sitting out there with a good book in the warm summer sun, a sweet tea in my hand...birds singing....peace....quiet.....I'm 70 and retired.  No, I WILL enjoy these.  I WILL take time to sit and relax.  They will not just be another toy for Seth to climb.

Anyway, thank you to my husband who lovingly took the add that I cut out and strategically placed on his football paper pile (several times) and acted on my not-so-subtle hint.  I'm looking forward to having many people over to sit on these chairs soon.  Promise.

And simply because I live in awe of how wondeful God is to loan us these 2 little boys for a short time, I give you these "simple happiness" pictures--

Beautiful: (except for random ghostly white leg - some *stranger* stepped into the frame)
Ryan fishing:

When did Seth get so big? Wow:

Be thankful.  Be content.  Be in peace.
Be completely sobered, amazed, awed, inspired, by these AMAZING parents who had to usher their 7 month old son into Christ's open arms yesterday.  Wow.  Take a few minutes to read about Malachi - Little Man of Steal HERE.
And read about his parents moving testimony HERE.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Freezer Frenzy #3

I'll get half credit for this - half is freezer worthy, half is just a time-saving kitchen idea.  I stumbled upon another great freezer-friendly recipe...again, from Everyday Food.  They got 2 thumbs up from Troy, so that makes it blog-worthy.  It only about 20 minutes to make.  They are very rich, so one batch made 2 dishes for our family - one to eat and one to freeze.

Ricotta Dumplings
1 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta
1/3 cup grated pecorino cheese (plus more for serving).  I could not find pecorino at the store, so I used asiago.
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tsps grated lemon zest
coarse salt
1 cup plus 2 tbs all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
3 tbs unsalted butter

1.  In a large bowl, mix together ricotta, cheese, egg yolk, lemon zest and 1/2 tsp salt until combined.  Sift 1/2 cup flour over mixture and use rubber spatula to genly fold together. Turn mixture out on a lightly floured work surface and sift remaining flour over top.  With fingertips, gently incorporate flour into dough and lightly kenad just until dough comes together (do not overwork dough).

2.  Set a large pot of salted water to boil.  Divide dough into 4 equal pieces  Roll each piece into a log about 3/4 inch think and 20 inches long.  With a knife or dough scraper, cut each log into 1/2-inch pieces.

3. Drop pieces into boiling water. Cook until they plump up and float to surface, 2 minutes.  Drain dumplings and shake off excess water.

4.  In a large skillet, melt 2 tbs butter over medium.  When it sizzles, add dumplings and cook, undisturbed, until golden on one side, 6 minutes.  (Or get golden on each side) Add 1 tbs butter to skillet and toss to coat.  Transfer to serving bown and top with cheese.  Serve warm.

Before pan-frying, place boiled, drained dumplings in one layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Drizzel with oil.  Keep at room temp for an hour.  Then freeze!
A pan for freezing, and a pan for eating NOW!

Time-saving idea
We eat a lot of pancakes here.  My boys love 'em and there are so many different types of pancakes that someone who gets bored easily (like me!) can stay entertained.  So, next time you make a batch of pancakes (or anything like pancakes), grab 3 big ziploc bags and fill each with all the dry ingredients to make 3 more batch later. This takes about 15 extra seconds.  Next time, you'll just need to add these to the "wet" ingredients - a cup of milk and an egg, for example.  OR BETTER YET, you can throw the wet ingredients in the bag, mix in the bag without getting another bowl and spoon dirty...and then just cut off the corner of the bag and squirt out your pancake mix - you can make all fun shapes and sizes this way...easily!  My sister puts her pancake batter in a large cleaned-out ketchup bottle...then lets the kids squiiiiiiiirt out their own.  FUN, FUN, FUN!  Give it a try.  Fast, easy, very little clean up!!!!  Have fun with it!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Thoughts on 30

Well, I'm an old 30 year old now. Honestly, it happened so quickly and painlessly that I barely felt it..more like a small speedbump in the road than the falling-off-the-end-of-a-cliff that so many people make it out to be. But I guess its a matter of perspective and reality. Reality - we get older. Perspective - I've had an amazing run during my 20s and I'm proud to enter the "sophisticated 30s". So I was reading an old friend's blog today. ("Old" - because she too, turned 30 today and "old" because I knew her when I was only a 3rd grader, when her sweet mom was our teacher. One of the best teachers ever! We had a secret cheerleading club that sometimes met under her desk. Ah, good times, when back then "30" was 10 lifetimes away!) Anyway, she listed out some of the major events of her 20s.  Now, her list is a lot fancier and impressive than mine (I still haven't been out of the country!), but it was so much fun that I wanted to play along.  So, I listed 30 events from the past decade, again, just to keep things in perspective.  Have fun reading, and consider making your own list.  I think you'll be amazed at what happens while we're too busy to stop and take note :) [not chronological.....I'm getting old and can't possibly put this in the right order, sorry]
  1. Married a wonderful man
  2. Finished my bachelors degree
  3. Got my first "real" job
  4. Finished my masters degree
  5. Became a CPA
  6. Got pregnant and had Ryan
  7. Barely got un-pregnant and had Seth
  8. Welcomed 8 nieces and nephews to the far (out of 9 total!)
  9. Spent 2 weeks in my favorite city - New York!
  10. Watched my favorite baseball team win the World Series
  11. Took a hot air balloon ride over the Pacific Ocean
  12. Bought a house, sold the house, bought another house
  13. Lost my grandmother
  14. Joined an amazing church and met some of the best friends on the planet
  15. Learned what it was like to be married to a football coach
  16. Voted in 3 presidential elections
  17. Got a dog
  18. Set foot in 23 states
  19. Lived through 2 "100 year floods"
  20. Bought 4 cars (first was a cool Monte Carlo, last was a minivan..hmmmmmm.)
  21. Started teaching college business classes
  22. Learned a LOT about cooking, home repair/remodeling, yardwork, photography
  23. Read approximately 270 books
  24. Went to my first NFL game ever (saw Brett Favre...he smiled at me...or in my general direction....or maybe he was squinting in the stadium lights)
  25. Only got ONE speeding ticket
  26. Saw our country attacked by terrorists
  27. "Got" 4 new sisters-in law and 2 new brothers-in-law
  28. Potty-trained a boy
  29. Attended approx 120 college or high school football games (times 1 hot dog each)
  30. Watched my husband acheive a lifelong dream of becoming a head coach
Ok, some are huge...others are silly....but each adds a splash of color to the larger picture of my last decade. I'm SO thankful to have reached my 30th birthday. I'm so thankful for everyone that God has written into my life.  I'm so thankful for everything He is teaching me through the HUGE things and the SILLY things. Whatever your age, take a minute to reflect in the correct perspective and throw in a dose of reality, will ya?

Friday, May 21, 2010

It has been awhile

I guess I had a little vacation from the blog. Sorry. I know I've let so many people down. (wiping away the tears). I'm back. Our May, like everyone elses, is just jam-packed with fun. I had an anniversary, Mothers Day, several get-togethers with friends, my birthday, family move back to town, a business trip to Milwaukee to meet with my buds from the SEC, got sick, started to get better, planning for a birthday party...and this weekend is another slew of graduation and birthday parties, get-togethers - oh, the fun just doesn't end! AND add to all of this that Troy interviewed and accepted a coaching job nearby so we've been overwhelmed with all the administrative work that comes along with that. (I'm now his full time secretary - the guy is Microsoft-office challenged). We're very sad to be leaving Dowling but really excited for Troy to take the reigns of this special program. PLUS, his brother and great life-long friends will be joining the staff so this is a really special time for him and we're so proud of him. But the weirdness has already started: like when he left the house at 9:30 PM carrying a full-size wipe-off board, markers, and a stack of DVDs. "Uh, ok...bye! See you and the wipe off board later!"

In the meantime, Ryan is almost 3. Can you believe it?!? He just continues to amaze me. I know I'm biased....but he's smart like his Daddy. Sorry, hate to brag, but who's gonna stop me? The little squirt can memorize anything within a minute, is a counting pro, has almost all of his letters nailed, and has been leading the obey-revolution (currently, stay tuned until tomorrow when he turns a 180). I hope all those Mommies that warned us that 3 was worse than 2 were WRONG! Yes, I hope they were totally flat-out wrong. So far almost-3 has been WONDERFUL! Here are some videos I shot for the simple purpose of bragging. (I guess honesty is the best policy here. I can't be discrete):
Learning his verses:

Counting his cars (yes, I know his shirt is quite large, but its the only Cards shirt he has - big, but I can't wait another summer for this. He has 3 Cubs shirts and I'm trying to open up other options for him :-)

And he keeps up his "preacher man" habits. While waiting for the video to upload, I tell him I love him. Ryan, "Well, I love Jesus." Me: "Why do you love Jesus?" Ryan: "Because he made the bad man fall down dead." (Me thinking - WOW this is going really deep. I didn't know he had this figured out yet!) Me: "How did Jesus do that?" Ryan: "He picked up one stone from the river and put it in his swing and it went round and round and round and up in the air and BONKED the big bad giant on the head and made him fall down dead." Me: "errrrrrr, ummmmmmm... Yeah, that was David, not Jesus." Ryan: "Yeah, mommy. Jesus-David-Ryan-Alan-Rider" convsersation went nowhere really quickly after this....

Friday, May 7, 2010

I have found the one whom my soul loves!

Can I wish myself a happy anniversary? Sure, why not!?!  We had a special day:

Hung out at Tulip Time:

(Seth...who totally should be on one of those leash-things)

(Ryan tiptoe-ing through the tulips)

Someone, PLEASE tell me how to get a picture of a 2 year old and 1 year old in the same frame...happy...smiling at the camera!?!?  And I DID bribe them - cookies, donuts, ducks.  This is the best I got!  Sigh.

Oh wait, they're not looking....but this is better.  At least they're not screaming/crying!

And then Troy, in an amazingly sweet move, got us a Lovejoys cake - but not just any cake - a red velvet cake, which we had at our wedding (my favorite cake). And yes, Ryan went in for the kill (before we could stop him):

Yum.  So, just in case you were I had a creme horn, chocolate covered cream filled bismark, sugar cookie (Sneaky Mommy's are TOTALLY better than the un-named Pella bakery - no joke), a corn dog, various snacks, steak, and cake.  Ugh.

And then we had a major play-dough party:

AND my wonderful husband got me a patio furniture set for our anniversary/mothers day/ my birthday.  Picture pending nice weather and complete installation of the patio set....But I'm SO EXCITED!
What a wonderful husband! Thank you, God for Troy! 

"I have found the one whom my soul loves" Song of Solomon 3:4

Monday, May 3, 2010

A perfect 10...finally

My loving husband usually gives me 7, 8, 9, occasionally a 4 or 5 on the 1-10 scale at dinner time.  But RARELY do I get a 10!  Yes, we have a 10-point scale.  I was tired of hearing the typical male "Pretty good.  Not bad.  Yeah, I like it." blah-responses from him.  Now he can give it one number and the conversation is over.  (Unless his rating is clearly wrong!)  But, hats off to my dear friend Natalie W who gave me this recipe.  It's a cooking-light recipe, very tasty, makes tons, and Troy was beside himself excited.  Even told me that I could have the best "white-picky-girl Chinese-specializing-in-limited-to-no-vegetables restaraunt in the city" if I wanted to.  And then said "You should make this when we have people over!"  Cool, cuz we DID have people over Saturday night and fed them hot dogs and (burned - shhhhh, don't tell Troy) grilled chicken.  Anyway, bon appetit.  I'll let you wonder if I really included the onions and broccoli (but notice that you're not seeing a picture).

Cooking Light - Beef Broccoli Lo Mein
4 cups hot cooked spaghetti (about 8 oz - use whole wheat!)
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tbs peanut oil
1 tbs minced peeled fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chopped broccoli
1 1/2 cups vertically sliced onions
1 lb flank steak, cut (or stir-fry beef pre-cut from HyVee if you're in a hurry) - on sale now.
3 tbs low sodium soy sauce
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs oyster sauce
1 tablespoon chili paste with garlic (love the kind shown in this picture)

1. Combine cooked pasta and sesame oil, tossing well to coat.
2  Heat peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
3  Add the ginger and garlic and saute 30 seconds.
4. Add broccoli and onion and saute 3 minutes.
5. Add steak and saute 5 minutes or until done.
6. Add pasta mixture, soy sauce, and remaining ingredients.
7. Cook 1 minute or until lo mein is thoroughly heated, stirring constantly.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A lot can happen in 5 years

Troy's an animal lover, we all know that.  Me?  I like the zoo, but I LOVE that my all my boys love the zoo.  I love seeing them discover, learn, smile, and laugh.  What blows my mind is that almost exactly 5 years ago today, Troy and I stood on this very bridge at our wedding reception.  Remember that?  Fast forward 5 years and we've got two incredible blessings: