19 November 2012

Southern Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

I have many favorite foods. It's a symptom of loving to eat. I'm going to share, with you, one of the most delicious Thanksgiving dishes, bacon wrapped green beans!! Uncle Ken would ALWAYS bring them for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was always my favorite. That and mom's sweet potato casserole with double praline topping, none of that marshmallow yuckness. mmmm... and harold's peanut butter fudge, and tina's broccoli casserole. I digress... Here's the recipe.

What you will need:
a big bag of fresh green beans, with the tips cut off.
a package of bacon, not thick cut, with each strip cut in half.
half a stick of butter or so, melted.
a 1/2 cup of brown sugar
a couple pinches of garlic salt
a tsp. soy sauce

How to make them:
Boil the green beans for about 8 minutes. They need to be slightly cooked.
Let the beans cool. Wrap 5-6 of them in each half strip of bacon. Place each bundle in a 13x9 pan.
In a bowl mix the melted butter, brown sugar, garlic salt, and soy sauce. Pour this over the green bean bundles. Cook at 375 for about 15-20 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked to your liking! After they finish cooking, transfer them to another pan or dish. They get kind of soggy if they sit in the juice too long.

26 October 2012

Time flies

I cannot believe it has been two months since the last time I blogged. I swear to you it was last week. Time has flown by in warp speed!

I started potty training Charlie the last week or two. It's been just a tiny bit better than AWFUL. It started out great. He had all the signs of being ready. He told me when he went in his diaper. He'd point and say EWWW. He wakes up dry 90% of the time. We would put him on the potty first thing in the morning. He would go, then he would cry. A friend told me that sometimes children are scared when they see things coming out of their body. I thought, "WOW, she's so smart." Then, I started putting him on the potty and he wouldn't go. He'd get up and pee on the floor, and then he would giggle. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that he's not scared of fluids exiting his body. Then today, he took off his diaper and pooped on the carpet. -___- I'm definitely shelving the potty training idea for a while. I think I'll give it a month or two and try again. It's quite frustrating.

November will be here in six days, and that means it is holiday time! Please don't forget about giving to your local food bank, and do kind acts of service for others. If you are interested, my friend is knitting and selling scarves for special needs orphans. 100% of the proceeds will be donated. (Think Down's, HIV+, FAS, congenital defects, etc...) You can look up Sparrow Scarves on facebook, or I can give you more information.

23 August 2012

Just one more trip...

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel halfway across the country and back with a really great family. :) To be honest, when I was asked to go on the trip, most of me rejected the idea. You may be thinking, "Wow, she must really not like this family." That is definitely not the reason.

Reason #1. I don't do so well on road trips. I get grouchy, impatient, and frustrated three hours into the drive. :) We were driving 14.5 hours. Imagine how lovely I can be after that amount of time. I figured they would kick me out of the van halfway there.

Reason #2. Have I mentioned that I have no patience, and we were driving with 5 children in a mini van?! It ended up being tons of fun, and we had lots of laughs.

Reason #3. I was gone a week in May/June. My dad and brother visited for a few days later in June. I was away from home for 2 weeks in July. I'm leaving again for 9 days the first week of September. I've had lots of other weekend/evening activities all summer. I've been gone a lot, and I really wanted to stay home with Michael.

What really happened: I REALLY LOVED the whole trip! I got to have hours upon hours of great talks with my friend. I learned a lot about her life, and I was able to share some of my life with her. I wasn't grouchy during the drives (I think). The kids were great at least 80% of the time, and the other times I still enjoyed them. We had a lot of fun. I did miss Michael, but at least he ate real food while I was gone. :) I can honestly say that I love their family more than before.

I was also able to see some friends from when we lived in Indiana. I've really missed Hyangmi and being able to see her almost every day. It was also great seeing Merry and the kids. I can't believe how big they've gotten. :) So cute.

13 August 2012

I'm really struggling

When I was in high school, I memorized Philippians 2, as part of a challenge for church. I remember most of it, and I typed out the most relevant parts for my story.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves. Look not unto your own interests, but each of you unto the interests of others. Your attitude should be that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant!

-skip a few verses-

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, where you shine like stars in the universe- as you hold out the Word of Life- in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not labor for nothing.

There you have it. We, as Christians, are commanded to serve. It is not an option, and it is not easy. Our human nature is to be greedy, hoarding all of our earthly comforts, so that we do not want for anything. We are supposed to put to death our old selves, including greed, and put on our new selves. Those new selves are full of compassion, kindness, gentleness, and they are being renewed in the knowledge of the image of our creator! (Colossians 3)

We've been living in NJ for over two and a half years now! I can't believe it has been this long. It is no surprise to everyone that I really hate it here. Lately, as in the last year, Michael and I have both felt like maybe we are here for a reason. The problem is that we have no idea what our purpose(s) is/are here!

Here's the kicker. The more we pray about what we are supposed to be doing, the more we are called upon to serve and sacrifice for others. Here's the weird part: the more we sacrifice and serve, the more we end up having. I know it sounds crazy, but I'll give you an example. Last spring, Michael was working his normal full time job, and he was also working a part time job on the weekends. He worked 7 days a week with 10-12 hour days! We still could not pay all of our bills on time. During this time, God convicted us to actually tithe the full 10% (shock and awe). We took a huge step of faith and actually started tithing without fail every single paycheck. Michael lost his second job that summer. By that time, we were ahead on all of our bills, putting money into savings, repaying my student loans, and making double payments some months on them! Looking back at my excel spreadsheets for our monthly budgets for the last 18 months, I can tell you that I have NO idea how that happened.

The last three months have been very difficult for us. We've had this nudging that maybe it is time for us to buy a house. :( I am really on the fence about this. In one sense, I would really love to paint, decorate, have a yard, and call some place home. On the other hand, buying a house really makes it official that we live in NJ, fourteen long, excruciating hours from our family in TN. We found a house, but we will be coming up a little bit short on the closing costs if this whole thing actually works out. During this time that I want to pinch every single last penny we have, it seems that we are being called upon to give.... some more. We decided to trust God. We put in an offer, and if we are supposed to get his house, then somehow it will work out.

In the meantime, I have no idea what my purpose is right now. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with my life, and I have no idea where we are supposed to settle down. Oddly enough, I have a sense of peace with it for the moment.

08 August 2012

A funny story

My friend had her baby today, and it reminded me of a funny story. :)

I got a sponge bath. (No, you don't actually get very clean with those.) The nurse was being so nice to me and trying to make me feel better. She told me at least three times, "Girl! You don't look like you even had a baby!" (I REALLY LOOKED LIKE I JUST HAD A BABY!) Of course, being slightly delirious, I believed her. Michael was there and he agreed with the nurse, so I figured I was looking pretty good. (bahaha)

When I finally was able to get out of bed and walk around, my stomach looked like I was 5 months pregnant! The nurse lied to me. I couldn't walk anywhere. I just stood there and looked at my hanging post baby belly and cried.... (maybe it was hysterically. michael tells it that way. lol) All I remember is crying and saying, "How could she lie to me? She's a nurse. You can't lie to me. I just had a baby." lol :D:D

P.S. Here is a picture of me post baby. I told you I looked terrible.

29 July 2012

An exciting post!

Two of my Sunday School students were baptized today along with five other people. :) Congrats C.S. and A.D.!! :):) I'm so proud of you. (As a side note, both of them have really awesome looking hair!) I really love those two.

Funny story. Two weeks ago before my lesson started, Colleen and I asked the students what they wanted to be when they grew up. SWIMMER! I WANT TO BE A GYMNASTICS GIRL! FIREMAN! etc.. Then I asked the kids what Miss Jess should be when she grew up. After all the children broke out in hysterical laughter, I got a few of those answers that bring tears to your eyes. "Miss Jess, You should be a teacher, since you are so good at it." (Whoa! Proud moment) "I think you should be a nurse, or somebody that helps other people with cancer. Cancer is sad." "YOU SHOULD BE A PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER!" hahahaha. <3 them.

24 June 2012

Charlie is so cool

Lately, Charlie has exploded with personality. I know you are thinking that it is physically impossible to pack more awesomeness into such a small human, but I swear to you it has happened!! He has started speaking in phrases and tackling more complicated words. This might not seem particularly riveting, but he uses the phrases at the most inopportune times. Examples below.

1. Michael: Charlie what is this? (holding a doll of a little girl with a kitty)
Charlie: that's daddy! (daz da-dee)

2. me: come back here and clean off. Don't go on those clean floors!
Charlie: all done (ahh dunn)! Bahaha (running on clean floors)

3. Charlie: dada! Dada?! Listen dada(lihtun dada)!

4. Michael: what did you just do?
Charlie: I don't know (ah dun oh). Haha

5. What's that? (whuh dat)

03 June 2012

I'm failing miserably

Today, my best friend asked me if I knew Jesus! What?! Let's break this down. (this is more for my own sanity to make coherent points)

1. She could be oblivious. I wouldn't put it past her. :-)  I can only say this, because I know she'll read this as soon as it is posted.... And she can laugh at herself. No harm. This is the best option for my own vanity.

2. on a subconscious level, I assumed she already knew. In this, I didn't bother to pound her over the head with my pitifully small knowledge of Bible-ness. It is, also, not an excuse to keep the good news to myself.

3. I could just be a terrible Christian. Is not our whole existence to worship God in a way that is set apart from the rest of the world? Is it not our job to exude godliness and love to every person and creature? Is it not our sole purpose on this earth to tell everyone about Jesus?! (the answer to these questions is obviously yes... That's why they are written rhetorically.) This, unfortunately, is where I'm failing miserably. :-(  sad face.

To recap, in case anyone has any questions/doubt.... Yes, I know Jesus. Yes, I'm far from perfect. Yes, I like to complain. Yes, I stink at telling people what I believe. Yes, I have un-Christian friends. Yes, sometimes I settle for mediocrity.

24 May 2012

My Husband is Asian?!

I always forget that my husband does not have white skin. He is just Michael. I see him, but I don't distinguish that we were born in different countries. Until 45 years ago, we would not have been able to get married! Isn't that crazy?! I have had some really nasty things said to me about my interracial marriage and my child. All of it is too vulgar to repeat. I just do not understand why it is such a big deal to people. What does it matter that our skin color is different? He is a great husband and father, a Sunday School teacher, a youth group leader, a hard and honest worker, and an all around geek.

10% of all marriages in the US are interracial or interethnic, a 28% jump since 2000. (US census)
Interracial marriages have doubled since 1980.
In 1967, the Supreme Court declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional.

God made people with darker skin too! :D

12 May 2012

One of my favorite times of the year!

It's finally here! The season for fresh produce, and I mean FRESH! Right off the farm fresh! It's pretty much one of my favorite things. I LOVE LOVE LOVE going to buy local produce from the farmer's market. Not only that, but it is also the perfect drive-in weather. :) We are going to see Pirates:Band of Misfits and The Avengers tonight. 

In other news, my friends are so close to finishing the adoption process with a region in Russia. Check out their blog over here: www.wearespeechless.com. This is one amazing story filled with God's miracles. These are wonderful people deserving to have their story shared with you. :) I love them so much.

23 April 2012

My awesome paleo bread balls!!

So I wanted hush puppies today... and garlic bread. I found at least 15 recipes for paleo bread, I had about three ingredients. So, I invented my own, and I cooked it in my cakeball machine.

2 cups almond meal
3/4 cup coconut milk (the kind you buy refrigerated, not canned)
1 egg
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp dried onion flakes
1 tbsp garlic powder

Combine dry ingredients and stir until everything is mixed. Add egg and milk. Whisk throughly. Now you are ready to stick them in your cakeball machine. :) (I suppose you could stick it in a bread pan and bake it)

22 April 2012

What being a sleep deprived crazy person taught me about my own parents

Well, I'm mostly a sleep deprived crazy person. :) I threatened my poor baby with death last night if he didn't go back to sleep. (Please, I was nowhere near serious or tired enough to inflict any actual harm upon my beautiful little boy.)

The back story:

Charlie has eczema, and for the last 3-4 weeks it has been terrible. His trunk and upper arms have been covered in oozing red clumps of nastiness. He's been off and on steroid cream and TONS of aquaphor. When he scratches, the oozing red clumps of nastiness start bleeding. (God bless his poor little soul.) The doctor said he cannot scratch at all, so when we see him scratching keep him on Benadryl. So, he's been on Benadryl pretty much every other night for about 3-4 weeks..... until 4 nights ago. The saga begins... DUN DUN DUN!!!! (queue music)


6 AM: Charlie wakes up when Michael gets ready for work. Michael so graciously takes him until he leaves at 7:15 so I can sleep a little longer. :)

6:15: MA MA MA MA!!!!!!!!! *poke poke poke* *body slam* For realz yo. I'm not sleeping in.

8:00: Out for a run... sorta. Half a mile in, Charlie starts screaming like a mad man. I guess I'll just run later in the week.

10:00: Hallelujah it's nap time. Too bad Charlie didn't get the memo.

12:00PM: Shove some lunch in his mouth. Cheerios. I feel guilty that I didn't give him anything nutritious.

12:15: He falls asleep. :D JACKPOT!

12:45: He wakes up. boo.

1:00-4:30: This time is spent in a walking haze. Somehow, we both survive and are relatively healthy.

4:45: I'm laying on the floor contemplating the virtues of shipping him off to daycare for a while. Then, he crawls on top of me and falls asleep immediately. All thoughts of daycare are gone. My little boy is perfect. :)

5:30: The baby wakes up. I'm exhausted. It is one of those days that I plan on handing Charlie off to Michael as soon as he walks in the door, then I'm GONE! see ya. I get a call. Michael has a mandatory work dinner. Sigh.

8:30: Michael finally gets home. Charlie has been screaming for 2 hours.

9:00: Michael gets Charlie to sleep. All is well in the world again.

9:15: Michael and I are asleep. :)

12:00AM (THURSDAY): Seriously, I hear a crying baby?!

12:15-5:00AM: This entire time is spent in a walking coma. Seriously.

All of Thursday pretty much resembles Wednesday. We go to house church Thursday night. I'm listening to the lesson, but honestly, I don't hear a word. I'm half asleep.

This continues until Saturday night.

8:00 PM (SATURDAY): Charlie is asleep.

9:00: I'm asleep.

12:00 AM(SUNDAY): Charlie is not asleep.

2:00: This is not my finest parenting hour. I look at him and say loudly, "I swear. I brought you into this world. If you don't go to sleep, I'm gonna take you back out!"  He screams in what, at the time, I can only assume to be mortal terror, and I start crying HYSTERICALLY. Terrible mom award.

2:15: This is not my finest wife-y moment either. I wake Michael up, hand him Charlie, and go lay down on the couch.

3:00: Charlie is back asleep.

It is 12:30 on Sunday afternoon, and I'm pretty much rested. I'm looking at Charlie wondering how I could ever lose my temper with him. Before I had Charlie, I was under the delusion that parents should NEVER lose their temper. When they do, it is just a sign of their ridiculousness... like they can somehow be perfect all the time. I remember thinking, "They are older than me. It is their job to be nice all the time." HAHA. Looking back, I realize how ridiculous I was. When you live at home and/or don't have your own children it is possible to be semi-appreciative of your parents. It's nice when they give you money and buy you clothes. I don't think you truly appreciate them until you have your own children. You realize that every dollar they gave you came from their own spending money. You realize that every time they bought you a pair of jeans, that was one less pair of jeans they could buy for themselves. You realize that they didn't kill you when you were up 4 nights in a row for no reason. You realize that they didn't physically harm you when you were being an idiot teenager. :) 

19 April 2012

My Paleo Adventure

Today, Michael and I are starting our adventures into the Paleo lifestyle. I'm very excited about it, but I'm sure I won't be so excited the first 1000 times I have a craving for a chocolate milkshake.

The basic premise of the Paleo diet is that our bodies are designed to need fats, proteins, and carbs. Our bodies, however, have a hard time digesting certain foods. You avoid those foods: all grains, dairy, processed anything, and legumes. In essence Paleo is not a "low-carb" diet; it is just lower-carb than the average American diet. (which btw contains way more than the recommended amount of carbs) People have asked me, "What in the world will you eat?" I have to admit that the transition from my normal diet to Paleo isn't all that daunting. I already don't eat any dairy, the occasional delicious cheese excluded. In addition, my simple carbohydrate intake has been nearly cut in half since I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I found that after I delivered I was already used to eating less grains and sugars, so I never fully reverted back.

Without much ado, here is a list of the foods I plan on eating this week.... for my incredulous friends. :)

Breakfast this week: Hard-boiled eggs, fruit, leftovers from dinner. (I've never really liked "breakfast foods" anyway.)

Morning snack: Carrot sticks, tuna salad (paleo style), crab meat with mango/cilantro/peppers. (I sometimes skip this snack.)

Lunch: Butternut Squash soup, salad with veggies/nuts/dried fruit, leftovers from dinner.

Afternoon snack: Walnuts, almonds, dried fruit, fruit, celery with the tuna salad, banana with almond butter. (Sometimes I skip this too.)

Dinner: Salmon with a honey mustard dill glaze, baked zucchini, and butternut squash soup. Roasted chicken with roasted cabbage and steamed broccoli. Chicken and veggie soup. Pork Chops with a cranberry glaze and roasted kale chips. Homemade red sauce served over spaghetti squash.

Dessert: Baked apples, no sugar.

Splurge item: 1 pack of bacon. (Ideally, you are supposed to eat lean meats, but bacon isn't exactly a prohibited food.)

**I'm not doing this to lose weight, but that'll be an added bonus. It is claimed by many to help with a wide range chronic ailments such as : acne, headaches, sunburn, gastrointestinal problems, diabetes, obesity, fatigue, fibromyalgia, interstitial colitis, allergies, among many others.

31 March 2012

New favorite Shepherds Pie

Before last week, I don't think I've ever had a shepherds pie. :) Now, this recipe is in my favorites book. (aka hanging on my fridge- that's where all the good recipes go!)

This recipe was also one of those things where I didn't have what I needed, so I subbed/changed/added whatever. It turned out really yummy!


Olive Oil
Black pepper to taste
1lb ground meat. I used turkey
1 large onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, peeled and finely diced
4-5 celery chutes, really finely diced
lots of fresh thyme (or you can use the dried stuff)
2 tablespoons flour
6 oz red wine
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
2-3 lbs ish mashed potatoes
8 oz block of gouda cheese, shredded
garlic powder or garlic salt

There are two parts. The meaty vegetable part, and the mashed potato part. :)

Mashed potatoes:
Cut up potatoes with the skin still on, boil them until soft.
Strain potatoes.
Beat with butter, water, garlic salt, pepper, and gouda cheese. Apply butter liberally. :) Taste. Add as much garlic salt and pepper until it is to your liking.

Mashed potatoes are done. You will layer these on top of the meat/veggie mixture.

Meat veggie mixture: This is a little more involved.

In a large pan with olive oil and liberal amounts of thyme, saute the carrots, onion, garlic, and celery until soft. Add the 1 pound of meat. Brown. (THIS IS IMPORTANT: If you use a fatty meat, strain, and substitute the 1 cup water with chicken broth. If you use a non fatty meat, 94% lean and above, do not strain. Use the 1 cup water in the following steps.)

Sprinkle with flour. Stir until mixed well, and no clumps of flour remain.

Add ketchup, wine, and worcestershire sauce. Let this reduce slightly.

Add water. (unless you used fatty meat and strained. Then use 1 cup chicken broth.)

Let this mixture simmer. Reduce until it is a thin gravy consistency. Add garlic salt, pepper, more thyme, rosemary etc... (season to your taste)


Grease a 13x9x2. Pour all the meaty gravy mixture in pan. Then spoon or pipe on the mashed potatoes.

Bake at 400 until the potatoes are slightly browned, about 20 minutes!

My really awesome Chicken recipe

Here's the deal. I saw this Honey Mustard Baked Chicken recipe on Pinterest that I really had to have tonight. I looked at the ingredients. I had the chicken. That was it, so I just made up my own honey mustard baked chicken. It turned out so well that I ate 1 whole chicken breast! That's about 1 pound, and I don't ever eat that much meat.... unless I'm in TN and my dad makes burgers. drool.

Firstly, you will need two LARGE boneless skinless chicken breasts. Then you will dip it in the homemade honey mustard mixture. (recipe below) Lastly,you will dip it in Panko crumbs and bake!

Honey mustard mixture:

**Disclaimer. I dumped and tasted. This is my best guestimation of the volume of each ingredient.

5 tablespoons hellmanns mayo. (don't substitute that Miracle junk)
8 tablespoons brown spicy mustard
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dillweed
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Taste it. Adjust mixture to your liking!

Slice your chicken breasts as thin or thick as you would like, dip in honey mustard mixture, coat with Panko crumbs, put on greased baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 15 ish minutes. Your baking time will vary according to the thickness of said chicken strips. ENJOY!

P.S. Don't use all the honey mustard stuff. BEFORE you dip your chicken in there, set some aside and use to dip the cooked chicken!

20 March 2012


Every time I get back from TN people always ask ,"Aren't you glad to be back?" Then I have to do a side stepping game of riding the fence, "UHHH??? Kinda?"

It is very hard to go from NJ to TN and back again in 7 days!

When I am in NJ I do everything by myself. I cook every single day, do the laundry, clean, run all the errands, etc and so forth. Michael works long hours, so I try not to ask him to do household chores after a tiring day. I'm totally independent and have minimal help. It's not good or bad. It is just how it is. I can't go to grandma Bonnie's for lunch during the day or call my parents to hang out with Charlie if I'm going crazy.

Then, I get to TN... It's kind of like a vacation, except I don't consider visiting somewhere I lived for 20 years a real vacation. Maybe a half-vacation?? (A real vacation would involve the beach...... or my toddler in a different state for 24 hours. ;) or BOTH!) My mom cooks and cleans (and sometimes I help... a little. Guilty!!) Best part is that I get to spend lots of time with my stinky brothers and the rents. THE SUPER BEST PART IS.... My dad takes Charlie all around town to do "man stuff." Those are my dad's words, not mine. :) As a side note, I found out what "man stuff" is: riding the razor 4-wheeler thing, mowing the yard, spreading mulch, going to Lowes, and a bunch of other "man stuff." He's a REALLY good grandpa. :) My mom always has a few outfits for Charlie when we get there in one size bigger. That's a super big help. Charlie is always growing out of clothes. It is nice to have some the next size up! BUT there are always a few cons. It isn't our routine, and Charlie LOVES routine! He gets a little fussier than usual when we are there. Also, my hubby is back in NJ working hard, so I can stay home. :) (He's a good hubby!) I miss him a lot when I'm gone for a week.

Then, I leave and have to transition back into NJ life. I go back to eating healthy. (My parents eat healthy too, but my mom and I are AWFUL when we are together. We egg each other on until we've eaten about 3000000 calories a day of wonderful fatty/sweet/salty/cheesy/delicious foods! YUM!!!) I have to start cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands, etc again! It is so hard. :( I usually get a really bad headache the day after I get back. I always think, "JACKPOT! My parents can hang out with Charlie while I sleep in a dark room" Then I remember there are no parents in NJ. :'( So I just toughen up and be a mom! When I do get back, it is nice to be back with Michael. :) Everything just seems so much more cloudy/dirtier/concrete-ier in NJ, and I get depressed for a while. I don't care for concrete and clouds! I love sunshine and grass! I always like getting back to my routine, my friends, my church, my Sunday School kids, my grocery store, etc... I'm a homebody, and I like my routine. (wake up, eat breakfast, get ready, put Charlie down for a morning nap, do errands/run depending on the day, play, afternoon nap, cook dinner/clean, eat dinner, hang out with michael, everybody goes to bed... Yes, I know. I lead a boring life.)

So, next time you want to know if I am glad to be back "home".... I guess the answer really is, "kinda? maybe?" I'm not really sure.

21 February 2012

Long time, no post

Before you have a child, you think, "I'm so busy. I'm so tired. I don't know how I can fit anything else into my day." Then... you have a baby. Next you think, "This sweet baby of mine takes up so much time." Next thing you know, you have a toddler, and THEY REALLY DO TAKE UP SO MUCH TIME! Some days, it takes all my energy just picking up after Charlie. This morning for instance; Charlie took his toy box and dumped it upside down, throwing things in all directions and squealing in delight. I scrounge everything up and put it back in the toy box. Not even ten seconds after that is done, he is all the way across the room pulling everything out of his cloth diaper basket until he finds the thing he is looking for.... the very bottom cloth insert. Silly me. I thought the top one would do. I pick all that up, and I turn around only to see him undoing all the nice piles of clothes I folded. They would normally be put up in the dressers, but I foolishly decided to pick the toys up first.

I love staying home with Charlie, and I wouldn't change a thing. Sometimes, for a fleeting moment or five, I wish I could be at school or work to have some adult conversation. I can only sing song "thank you" and "mama" and dance around like a buffoon for so many hours in a day. All of the other moments, I am truly grateful that I can spend all my time with him. We may not have as much money, but I get to see hundreds of smiles, hear baby giggles all day, and receive hugs, kisses and lovins! It is so worth it.

27 January 2012

this is not a list. sad panda.

This week in our house has been characterized by the ever present need for Charlie to imitate our two dogs. I guess it makes sense. Mina and Mallard (the two dogs) are Charlie's size, and they "LOVE" (haha.. not) to play with him. So far this week I've caught him crawling with dog toys in his mouth. He has successfully drunk out of the doggie water bowl.... like an animal. I told him "NO" today and he got on all fours and growled at me!! WHAT?! I tried so hard not to laugh! He charges the dogs head down like they do to each other when they play.

I have no idea how to deter behavior in a 13 month old! That's my mom challenge of the week. (Last week was trying to convince him that he still liked bananas.) I do not want my cute little baby acting like a crazy animal. :)

22 January 2012

Top 10 things to ever come from TN! :D

Here is my most spectacular list of the top 10 things to ever come from TN and why they are so awesome sauce!

(note: They are in no particular order. All things TN are so awesome they have equal standing. The numbering is purely inconsequential.)

1. Davy Crockett- He is super cool, not for the whole Alamo shindig, (which is cool but has nothing to do with TN) but for serving three terms in Congress as a TN representative. <--- That's not the cool part. After losing during his fourth race, he said "Forget this. I HATE politics!" (It is true. look it up. Actually, those were not his exact words.) Also, he did not learn to read and write until he was 18 (which is not easy), and he became known as one of the greatest backwoods orators in history. :)

2. Cracker Barrel- I should not have to explain this one. Everybody LOVES Cracker Barrel. It is an unwritten code. You must love Cracker Barrel, or else.... Well nobody hates it, so the last part has not had to be written in, kinda like pirate code. Cracker Barrel is so awesome, that they can sneak in, no joke, about 100000 calories into green beans, but they hide it so well, you would have no idea you were about to die from heart failure secondary to awesome food eating.

3. Memphis Barbecue- AKA real barbecue. All other barbecues are inferior. That's all there is to say about that.

4. Rocky Top- Rocky Top is one of the coolest official state songs/ unofficial school (UT) songs ever! Imagine a stadium with over 100k fans all dressed in super obnoxious orange shouting "Rocky Top You'll always be home sweet home to meeeeeeee...." It's pretty awesome. The rights to "Rocky Top" have been lent to the University of Tennessee to forever be used during sporting events as often as called for. In 2005, Rocky Top was ranked number 7 of 100 songs of the South by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Here is a link to the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n9prNixjbg

5. Morgan Freeman- Let's be honest, Morgan Freeman is so hardcore wickedly awesome. What other actor/actress do you know that can go from Shawshank Redemption to March of the Penguins and give a stellar performance in both?! He has perfected the authoritative, old man voice-over voice. He is so Morgan Freeman-ish that the producers can try to change the name of a movie, and he says "Surely not! I refuse to be a part of this unless it is called Snakes on a Plane!"

6. Jack Daniels- I, personally, do not drink Jack Daniels but the phrase "jack and coke" has become so entrenched in our culture, I had to include it.

7. Miniature Golf- I bet you had no idea Miniature Golf was invented in TN. Well, it was. In fact, you cannot go anywhere (especially Gatlinburg) without being assaulted by a menagerie of mini golf attractions. The putt-putt-on-steroids-esque game is so much fun for the whole family! The best part is whacking your brothers with the putter. ;)

8. Touch Screens- I bet half of my measly 10 readers are reading this on their touch screen smart phones. Well, in 1977, in Oak Ridge, TN, the first touch screen monitor was invented! Our world would be radically different, arguably simultaneously better and worse, if the touch screen was never invented.

9. Nashville/Country Music/Grand Ole Opry- Nashville is the country music capital of the world! The Grand Ole Opry is a must- do attraction if you visit! I've been twice. It is so awesome. You sit in the really really old theater in tiny uncomfortable seats, but the show is great! Besides, country music is the best genre of music... ever.... in the history of evers!

10. Smoky Mountains- The Smoky Mountains are breathtakingly beautiful. No joke, they are GORGEOUS! In the summer, you can go jump off waterfalls, hike, or just reside in beauty. Everything in TN is so green! You can go places and not see people for miles around. You can just exist.

Other interesting facts: TN is the only other state besides Mississippi that shares a border with 8 other states. The largest freshwater aquarium is located in Chattanooga, TN. HOLLA! Tn also has the largest underground lake in the world, The Lost Sea. Moonpies are from Chattanooga as is Krystal! (For you Northerners who don't know what Krystal is... Well, let me tell you that it is like White Kastle except 100000000x better) Mountain Dew was invented in TN before being bought by PepsiCo. Other notable doo-hickeys: Andrew Jackson,  Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Minnie Pearl, Tina Turner. Most important honorable mention: The first self-serve grocery store was in TN, Piggly Wiggly!

All joking aside, TN is a pretty cool place to visit. There are some not-so-great things about TN including slavery and the atomic bomb among others. NJ isn't a terrible place to live. In fact, I'd probably like it if it weren't so expensive, and it wasn't so crowded. (I'll never publicly admit that again.)

19 January 2012

I've decided to start making lists. I like lists.
10 quirky things you don't know about me:
1. I can only sleep if I have one foot out from under the covers.
2. I avoid touching raw meat at all costs. I'll have eight forks and look like Edward scissor hands before I touch raw meat.
3. I say a little prayer before driving over railroad tracks every single time. I'm scared the train will come when the cross arms are up.
4. I love numbers. I like to take strings of numbers and try to make them equal zero.
5. I will call out every out of state license plate I see. I get really excited if I see a Canadian one.
6. In my mind, it is harder to forgive someone who hates TN than someone who hates me.
7. I own tons of TN vols gear, and I will trash talk any rival... But I can't name one person on the roster. :-)
8. My two favorite foods are boiled yellow squash and boiled peanuts.
9. I've worn the same prescription of eyeglasses for seven years. Sometimes I like to think that my eyes haven't changed because I'm awesome.
10. I have approximately three to five half drunk glasses of water sitting on the counter at any given time. I'm convinced my water can go stale, so it needs to be fresh.
So the highlight of my week was, SURPRISE, not taking care of a sick baby but finding a recipe for Sakura sauce. You might know sakura sauce as that yummy, super-fattening white sauce you enjoy at hibachi restaurants! I've been waiting 5 days for the new grocery week. (I budget my groceries from Thurs-Wed. I had to wait 5 whole days!) Today, I bought all the ingredients for WHITE SAUCE!! :D:D:D hahaha. I am so excited!

Charlie is starting to be funny on purpose, I think?? The other day, Charlie knocked over the kitchen table chair. I said, "Charlie, Did you knock over that chair?!" He looked at me, then he pointed across the room to Michael and said, "Dada?" haha. Smart kid. He blamed it on Michael.

08 January 2012

Something is changing.... my heart maybe?

 THIS IS ANYA! She needs a family.

Please read the whole thing. To make a very long story semi-shortish, my friends, Ryan and Amber, (www.wearespeechless.blogspot.com) are adopting a beautiful girl from Eastern Europe named Lily. She has two best friends that have grown up with her since infant-hood, and one of them has been adopted. Now Lily is going to be with her forever family. Fabulous people, really. Anya is stuck with practically no hope of being adopted. In her country, there is a bunch of paperwork that needs to be filled out and filed by her case worker just so she can be put on the "able to be adopted internationally" list. A few of the forms were filed wrong, and they won't revisit her case unless someone specifically requests to adopt her. The problem is that no one knows she exists. Because her paperwork was filed incorrectly, she's not allowed to be listed on any international adoption agency's site, etc...

I have no idea why, but this little girl has been laid on my heart. Seriously, no clue why. Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I do not have a bleeding heart... at all. In fact, my nursing instructor told me I was "cold, emotionally unavailable, and there is no hope of [me] ever becoming anything resembling a good caregiver." Charming, is she not? (As a side note, I ended up her favorite student by the end of that semester.) When I had my son, my heart was changed. I have grown so much. (That is for a whole series of blogs-- an epic maybe).... The point is that this little girl has changed me somehow. I feel so much more empathy/sympathy to strangers. I've never really cared much about social welfare until her. (I know I sound like a crazy person. It's ok.)

Anya has been on my mind the last three months... daily... even hourly most days. I have no idea what I am supposed to do. Pray? Help find her a home? Adopt her myself? Help raise funds so the family who adopts her won't have the whole 40k-50k to pay? I'm so lost. I want to help this little girl for reasons unbeknownst to me, and I have no idea how.

How crazy is this? I told Michael her story about three months ago, maybe two. He hasn't said anything about her since then. As we were driving around in the car Saturday morning, I told him there was another picture of Anya online. He said, "Is it crazy that I've been praying for her almost every day? I feel like we should adopt her or help her or something." - (Michael doesn't even want another child) 

Please, Please. If you or anyone know someone who can give Anya her forever home, I will gladly give you Amber's phone number. She can put you in touch with a great adoption agency, people who want to help fund her adoption, and her country/orphanage/whatever that part entails!