Germ Warfare and Italian Food

School is out my friends, which of course means my kids are sick. Don’t ask me how they managed to catch a cold exactly 2 seconds after school was over, but they did. Between them coughing all night, and acting like yahoos all day, this week hasn’t exactly been the best start to summer vacation. I am pretty tired, more than a little loopy, and I am out of kids’ cough medicine. And did I mention that I woke up today with their cold? Yippy bleeping skippy.

However, I did get to try out a new recipe from Southern Living, which Husband loved. And you should really try it too…Because it was yummy, easier than it looks, and I definitely racked up some Mom points for cranking this out on a weeknight with two sick kids.

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Chicken Cannelloni with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce


—–Pasta:—–
1                    (8-ounce) package cannelloni or manicotti shells
4      cups          finely chopped cooked chicken
2                    (8-ounce) containers chive-and-onion cream cheese
1                    (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach,
— thawed and well drained
1      cup           (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2  cup           Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
3/4  tsp           garlic salt
1      tsp           seasoned pepper
—–Sauce:—–
2                    (7-ounce) jars roasted red bell peppers, drained
1                    (16-ounce) jar creamy Alfredo sauce
1                    (3-ounce) package shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

2. Stir together chicken and next 6 ingredients.

3. Cut pasta shells lengthwise through the other side. Spoon about 1/2 cup
chicken mixture into each shell, gently pressing cut sides together. Place,
cut sides down, in 2 lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dishes.

4. To make Roasted Red Pepper sauce, combine Alfredo sauce, roasted red
peppers and Parmesan cheese in a food processor. Pulse until smooth.

5. Pour Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce evenly over shells.

6. Bake, covered, at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Garnish, if desired

Even the kids ate it. Wonder of wonders….

The Crayon Apocalypse

shirt2
No fun Sunday here folks.

Not when I failed to realize that my kids had crayons in their pockets until about 2 seconds after I opened the dryer.

My poor laundry looks like a Crayola factory exploded all over it. Not only do my husband’s clothes look like this:

shirt

but this shirt is actually the best looking of the mess. The rest are a multi-colored blood bath of non-toxic colored wax. Oh, the HORROR!!!

I have laundry piled up everywhere:

laundry

Despite my super-mom-awesomeness, I have never run across a laundry disaster of such epic proportions. We are past neat tricks with irons, wax paper or goo-gone. There are not enough hours in the day to spend scrubbing each of the 100,000 color spots in that laundry pile.

So, I’ve constructed Plan A, which looks a little something like this:

tools

I got inspired after frantic Google searches, and this is the first wave of my assault against the color explosion. Detergent, vinegar and Oxyclean. After that, Shout for leftover stains, and repeat the detergent, vinegar, Oxyclean attempt. We’ll see how it goes, but I can assure you that I may have to become the pocket-checking drill sergeant after this fiasco.

Jeez-um.

Is it too early to mix up a cocktail?

I think not.

Outnumbered and Outgunned

 

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My husband raises our kids like they are going to be candidates for Survivor.

He claims he is trying to teach us all to survive in the jungle…because we all know that the danger of stumbling into an Amazonian-type jungle in the middle of farm country Louisiana is clearly imminent.

He hides and jumps out to scare us, to test our reflexes, he says. He hides the kids’ snacks when their backs are turned, then laughs as they hysterically try to find the oreos.

When the kids get foam swords or light sabers, we must get some too, so the entire family can engage in epic battles and build defensive sword skills…because of course we can carry swords around…*sigh*

I’ve learned to play Guitar Hero, Diablo II and I know all the Star Wars characters and the color of their light sabers.

And don’t even get me started on the Nerf dart guns. There are not enough expletives to describe just how much fun it is to be the only girl in the house when a Nerf gun war erupts.

Having boys had definitely brought out the boy in my husband. He plays with their toys, watches their cartoons and finds their humor hilarious.

I think his biggest challenge has been trying to keep a straight face when he is punishing them for something that was technically wrong, but really dang funny.

But, in all the boyishness, I can’t help but wonder what my husband will do if we ever have a girl…other than watch her like bomb that could go off unexpectedly. Just imagining the look on his face when she demands he play barbies is enough to make me giggle.

But, for now, I am stuck refereeing battles, dodging darts, acting as a human shield and watching Phineas and Ferb marathons.

Send chocolate and margaritas, because we women have to stick together.

“Didn’t Your Mama Raise You Right?”

Manners are a touchy topic these days. Probably because they are becoming a lost art.

Families are increasingly over-committed, and manners are often forgotten in the frantic pace of a drive-thru life. It seems like a whole generation is losing the most basic knowledge of tables manners and social graces. It’s not just the kids…the past three parties I’ve thrown had less than 3% of the people invited RSVP. I’ve almost quit going to the movies because inevitably a person will sit behind me who cannot chew their popcorn with their mouth closed. I can barely resist the urge to turn around and hiss “didn’t your mama raise you right?”

Husband runs into this problem a lot at in his line of work, as business ettiquette seems to be hit and miss with many people.

I could write a whole, drawn-out diatribe on the topic of manners, but I’ll spare you the soap box today. You probably know this is a problem, and see it in your own life.

As a stay-at-home mom, I have the time and ability to incorporate manners into our everyday lives. My kids are constantly being reminded to say “please,” thank you,” and “yes ma’am and sir.” We sit at the dinner table almost every night, with real napkins and placements.I make it a priority, because I know how important manners will be for the little heathens’ futures. You can be the smartest cookie on the planet, but you can also ruin that image in 3 seconds flat if you eat like a wolverine at a business lunch. You may be talented, but people will still think you are a butthead if you can’t muster up some basic courtesy.

My boys are like rabid hyenas most of the time. They’re hyper, playful, silly, insane and a little bit weird:

silly

But they also know that there are times when Mama will put her foot down and try to drill some basic courtesy into them.

Today, Oldest got to practice his hand at Post-Birthday-Thank-You-Notes. Last year, I bought him the pre-composed kind where the kids just fill in a few spots. Those worked great for beginning writers. They allow kids to learn about the concept of Thank You Notes, and generally what a note should look like, but they also takes the pressure off beginning writers and set them up for success.

This year, however, I made him write them all on his own, though I did give him an example as a reference. 

thank yous

By now, Oldest knows the drill. He knows that the week after birthdays and Christmas will be the time to write his Thank You notes. He doesn’t put up a fight, because he knows that is just the way it is. Like using a napkin, chewing with your mouth closed and saying “please” and “thank you.”

thankyou

Of all the things I can teach my kids, some basic dang manners are the one of the most important. This was only about 20 minutes of Oldest’s day, but he was reminded that every gift deserves a sincere “thank you,” and that manners aren’t whimsy around here. They are right up there with brushing your teeth.

So, this ends my soap box moment of the day. I could write a thesis on the death of manners, but I also know that I can only focus on my own kids and do my small part to ensure that do not grow up to be wolverine buttheads.

On a completely random tangent, why don’t we look at some lemon cake that I made but can’t eat:

lemon cake

I am only 4 pounds away from the 30 pound mark of my weight-loss extravaganza. Looking will just have to be enough for now… *sigh*

Boys, Exercise and Fresh Air—A Recipe for World Peace

We’ve had a busy weekend around here. Yesterday, we threw a little get-together at the lake for Oldest’s birthday. We set up the blow-up water slide, which is really just a hamster wheel for children. After weeks of rain, and rain in the forecast, I was terrified that my perfectly planned, laid-back party was going to get washed out in the never-ending deluge. After five years of hot, dry Mays, it would be record rainfall the one year I actually try to throw an outdoor party.

But, we got lucky, and had a perfect, wonderful day with three really awesome families, and happy kids all around. After going up and down the water slide about 6000 times, those kids were falling asleep where they stood. I bet all us parents had pleasant evenings with practically comatose children!

This morning, we woke up to perfect weather, and as soon as my children had rubbed the sleep out of their eyes, I shoved them out the door to play. During most of the summer here, our outdoor time can be pretty limited by excruciatingly hot weather. In the heat of August, early morning and evening are really the only times the boys get to be outside, and even then, the mosquitoes are lying in wait to cart them off. You can just imagine how much fun these boys are after being cooped up all day…they eventually start fighting just to have something to do. I’ve learned the hard way that boys NEED to burn off some energy, and if you don’t let them, it’s your own stupid fault when they start acting like demons.

So, when the weather is nice, I try to keep them outside and active as much as possible. Today was just such a day.

We’ve played badminton (the one sport that I am good at, which is to say I am not harming myself or others when I try), did yard work and rode bikes:

Noah 1

Gabriel1

(What is up with Oldest and these weird hand poses?)

We had plenty of room to run:

tree

And after about 8 hours of fresh air, I have two kids who are quite, sedate and most importantly, not trying to kill each other with light sabers.

Enjoy it while it lasts, because they will remember that they are arch enemies soon enough…

30 Reasons Why I Love Him

Today is Husband’s birthday, and in honor of this event (and because embarrassing him is fun as all get-out), here are 30 reasons why I love him:

30.    He’s hot!

29.    He’s handy.

28.    He makes the best chocolate chip cookies ever.

27.     He knows how to operate the washer, dryer, dishwasher and the vacuum, and does so frequently.

26.     He is tall and strong, and as Best Friend M. will tell you, if your mate really is Mr. Perfect, he must be able to carry the dead weight of your unconscious body out of a burning building to safety…just in case.

25.    He spoils me rotten.

24.    He makes me feel beautiful, even when I blew up like the Goodyear blimp when I was pregnant.

23.    He accepts that I am not a morning person, and has adjusted accordingly.

22.    He understands the gravity of my diet coke addiction, and keeps a careful distance until I have had my morning quota.

21.    He kills the bugs…it was in our marriage vows.

20.    He lets me put my ice cold feet on him to warm up in the winter…that was in our marriage vows too.

19.    He makes me laugh every day.

18.    He read all my favorite books, just to see what I like about them.

17.    Same for the movies.

16.    He has seen parts of me that God never intended man to see during my c-sections, and still thinks I am beautiful.

15.    Despite his cast-iron stomach during said surgeries, the moment that did finally turn him green was seeing me after my car accident, and there wasn’t even blood involved. Apparently the gurney, neck brace and me crying in pain was what did it. Isn’t that sweet?

14.    He accepts my many neuroses and still loves me just the way I am.

13.    He is really good at math…I am not.

12.    He is the best dad ever.

11.    He gets up and investigates the strange noises at night…even though I am the only one that hears them.

10.    He works his butt off.

9.    Did I mention that he is super hot?

8.    He knows how to use a pipe snake.

7.    He appreciates that sometimes a restorative cocktail is as necessary as breathing.

6.    He still remembers the bottle of wine we drank on our second anniversary.

5.    He loves my mom.

4.    He gives our boys all of his free time and attention.

3.    He reaches the high stuff, because me and step-stools are probably a recipe for the ER.

2.    After 8 years of living together, I still look and him and wonder how in the heck I got so lucky.

And last but not least…

1.    I wasn’t kidding about that super-hot thing. Especially when he does yard work with no shirt on…it’s enough to make a girl swoon.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Nick redo

When is a Cupcake More than a Cupcake?

Seven years ago, I gave birth to Oldest, aka Demon Baby. If you ask me, I’d swear it happened just last week. How did my super-screaming-wriggling-ten-pound-baby get to be seven??? When did this happen? He was supposed to stop at five, but oh-no, he just has to keep growing!

Gabriel 1 copy

(That sound you hear is my biological clock having an aneurysm)

As with any boy at the age of seven, Oldest has been counting the days to his birthday with enough excitement to power the space shuttle. We have a party plan in place for the weekend (Dear God, don’t let it get rained out…why do we have to have record rainfall this exact week?), gifts, a cake and everything we need for a happy birthday. If there is one thing this family can do, it’s throw a party.

Oldest is still at that age when he wants to go to school on his birthday, because I guess on your birthday, you feel super special and want to bask in your super-specialness with an audience.  Or it could just be the cupcakes…

You see, it’s kind of tradition that the birthday student gets to bring cupcakes for a special class snack. It’s always a banner day for the class when it’s someones birthday. I am sure the teachers don”t relish the thought of 20 students on an icing sugar high, but birthday cupcakes add some definite specialness to the day. Oldest has been reminding me about  the birthday cupcakes once an hour for the past month or so.

Most of the time, parents whirl through the Wally-world on their way to school, grabbing a package of pre-made cupcakes that could probably last as long as a holiday fruitcake.

But not this mom.

I don’t care how busy I am, or if I just have to use cake mix, but I will always make my kids’ birthday cupcakes myself. I can tell you right now, Oldest notices that Mom takes the time to do his special stuff, and in ten years, he won’t remember what he got for his various birthdays, but he will remember sitting in the kitchen, helping Mom make the birthday cupcakes.

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Usually, with 3 birthdays and Mother’s Day, this week is insane. As a result, the cupcakes may be simple:

cuocakes

But I still get the all-important Mom-Credit for making them myself. 

Trust me, the smile on his face when he left this morning made me feel like a Super-Mom-Baking-Diva, cake mix or no cake mix. That’s worth doing it yourself every time.