Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Best Enchiladas Ever!

I'm getting ready to share the easiest, yummiest enchilada recipe ever. We have been making this dish in our family for 40 years...for the record, that's before I was born.
The back story goes like this:
My Uncle Hugh and Aunt Novella moved to Riudoso, New Mexico for Uncle Hugh's new job in the oil field in the 60's. Those were the days before Mexican restaurants on every corner, especially in Oklahoma. Those were also the days when people moved and didn't travel back to see family a lot. Well, when Uncle Hugh was transferred back to Cushing, Oklahoma (the oil pipeline crossroads of the world) the whole family got together for a big party. They had been gone for about 4 years and everyone was so excited to see them. My Mom always told me that all of the family members thought Aunt Novella was so cultured after getting the chance to live in New Mexico. It seemed like another world. Aunt Novella wanted to make a dish for the party, so of course she made a Mexican dish - Green Enchiladas. It was an instant hit! For people used to eating chicken fried steak and fried chicken, enchiladas were so adventurous.
Here's the recipe:
2 lbs. ground chuck
2 tbsp. Dried Oregano
2 small cans diced green chilis
3 cans cream of celery soup
1 package burrito sized flour tortillas
tomato - chopped
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream (optional)
Brown ground chuck in a skillet. When meat is almost browned completely, sprinkle in dried oregano. In a separate saucepan, combine cream of celery soup, green chilis and 1/4 cup water. Heat just until warm and combined well. Spray casserole dish (large size) with cooking spray. Fill each flour tortilla with meat mixture and roll into an enchilada. Fill casserole dish with rolled tortillas, then spread soup mixture on top of the tortillas. Sprinkle top of enchiladas with desired amount of cheese. The more cheese, the merrier. Bake until sauce is bubbly, approx. 30 minutes at 350 degrees. We serve one or two enchiladas, topped with the desired veggies and salsa, guacamole and sour cream. Yum!
I usually serve this dish with Spanish rice (usually Rice-a-Roni). It's the perfect meal!

School Testing

Our school system is administering state tests tomorrow and Friday for the 4th graders. My oldest son has spent the last two weeks working on the practice packet for the OCCT testing, which is the standardized testing for Math and Reading. I just hear the word test and my stomach starts hurting. Oh, the stress!

Total sidebar - I was studying to be a financial advisor in 2002. After a year of studying, I went to take the test. A 70% was passing. The first test I made a 67%......second test 68%.......and....finally passed the crazy test on the third try. Even the test administrators were rooting for me. So sad. Can you tell I hate tests? Don't tell my kids though...I told them I was the best test taker in the world in school and would wake up everyday just happy to get to test my knowledge that day. That's the privilege of being the parent!

Back to the testing story - My oldest son, Tyler, is the exact opposite of my youngest. He is a worrier. My youngest Hunter is a complete laid-back "non-worrier". It's really cute to get their perspectives on situations. Tyler analyzes and Hunter just brushes it off and goes onto the next situation. I love them both, just as they are. It makes for a very interesting household.
Worrying does have its benefits. Tyler worries about his grades so he tries really hard at school. He worries whether he is going to pass his test the next day and if I'm going to order the latest skateboard he saw on Ebay. I think it's the reason he's in the gifted and talented program at school. He pushes himself to always do his best. But, this worrying thing is driving me bananas when it comes to the OCCT tests. The students have to study every night and practice filling out those old, stale paper smelling booklets. The parents have to sign the forms everyday showing that every problem was reviewed and each answer carefully thought out.
The students take these tests in 3rd and 4th grade but don't find out their individual scores until the 5th grade. That's so confusing. Anyone else out there think that's a little odd? Do they really find out sooner and I misunderstood?
Tyler just came into the living room and said he couldn't sleep. When we asked him why, he replied that the tests were tomorrow. I can't remember ever worrying about a test. I was more concerned about who was going to play tetherball with me on the playground. For the record, it was a boy named Gunther from Mrs. Mihurra's class. I think I might have beaten him once or twice.

Granted, I have to admit I'm not a teacher and really don't know that much about this testing, but I think it's tied to state education funding for our schools. Maybe this is why the teachers are pushing the kids so hard, I don't know. It has been a good thing because Tyler even pulled out his Math book tonight to go over decimals for the test.

The main worry Tyler has is this - apparently the teachers told the class that they can't go to lunch until all the classes are done with the testing. That is a huge issue with a 10-year old boy. And, I think it's steak fingers and mashed potatoes tomorrow. It's a good day in the cafeteria.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It's Serious Diet Time

I went to the doctor today and when the nurse took my blood pressure it was....150/111. She took it three more times wondering if I was nervous. It didn't change. That scared me so bad. My family has a huge history of heart disease and high blood pressure. My Mom had a sister that died at the age of 29 from a stroke. My Dad had four heart attacks and open heart surgery on my 16th birthday. That was one of the most traumatics events in my life. The first time I went back to see him after his surgery, he was on a ventilator and couldn't talk. Instead, when he saw me a tear rolled down his face. It was completely heartbreaking.

For about ten years now, I've fought with my weight. In college, I ran 4 miles a day and was the healthiest I've ever been. Granted, I had more time to exercise but I also put exercise and eating healthy above all else. When I had my first baby, I weighed 135 lbs. at my 6 week post partum appointment. After finding out that my son's right arm was paralyzed and it was a life-long disability, I spiraled into a deep depression. The first 2 months of my son's life, I suffered from extreme insomnia. When I called the OB's nurse and asked what to do, she said to make a mixture of warm milk with sugar and vanilla and drink as much as I felt like drinking late at night while I was up. Guess what? It worked great but packed the pounds on. I discovered that eating late at night also makes you go to sleep. And, being a stay-at-home mom doesn't help with the waistline. I would eat my toddler's extra food or just run through the drive thru because it was easier than going into the restaurant with a baby or small child.

Now is the time for me to get serious.

Monday, April 13, 2009

So Thankful

Today I am feeling so thankful to God for my family, my job, our home, and the fact that we are all healthy and happy. I've been looking at a lot of the blogs on the internet and there is so much pain and suffering going on right now in the world. A few of my favorite bloggers, Kim Wheeler at Endless Possibilities and Kacey at Chronicles of A Mommy had a tornado hit their towns. That's so scary. Especially considering that the storm system was here in Oklahoma the day before hitting their town. And we had no tornadoes or wind damage near us. Although when the storm moved to the east of us, it formed a tornado in Mena, Arkansas, destroying many of the buildings in town.

I've lived through many of the storms that have come through Oklahoma and it's a terrifying experience. It's probably the reason I'm fascinated and scared of storms all at the same time. My oldest was 5 months old when the Oklahoma City tornadoes hit in May of 1999. I was cooking dinner and watching our local news here in the Tulsa area around 5pm when the Oklahoma City weatherman broke into our newscast. The news crew in Oklahoma City was in a helicopter flying right outside of the tornado filming the tornado hitting all of the houses and buildings. I will never forget listening to the OKC weatherman saying, "Please God....Please people get underground!" It was the most panicked I have ever heard a weatherperson. And typically the weather people keep their cool during bad storm situations. I knew this one was different. We live about 2 1/2 hours from OKC so we had quite a while to sit and watch the weather. I was so scared, when the storm got to Tulsa and looked like it wasn't headed straight for our house, I calmed down a little. But I still held my baby in my arms in bed and cried.....all night long. It was one of the longest nights of my life. The devastation was heartbreaking.

So, the recent news about damage to all of these towns in the South is so upsetting. I'm just glad the people I read about are ok and haven't suffered any damage. Please pray for the peace and recovery of those that were hurt or lost homes in the storms. They need all of our prayers.

Also, please pray for those people in the Midwest City, Oklahoma area who lost homes to grassfires.

We have had horrible winds here in Oklahoma this Spring and it is a very scary situation when grass catches fire, either from arsons or by accident. The fires spread so quickly through the dry, dead grass. Apparently the fires in Midwest were started by three teenagers. One single act of arson that destroyed homes and people's lives.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday

We had a great Easter Sunday. Jim's Mom, Stepdad, Dad, Sister and Brother all came over to eat a big meal with us. We had ham, turkey, green beans with new potatoes and deviled eggs. Then the really bad part - the milk chocolate flavored bunny cake. Oh, the bunny cake! It called me all day long. I think I must have eaten half the cake, not really, but it feels like it! The bunny cake is a tradition in our family. My Mom and I have made it every year since I was born, I think. Don't you love traditions?

The boys were with their Daddy this weekend so I actually made the cake with my Mom. I hated that the boys missed the experience this year, but really eating it is the part they love. They like decorating the face too, but sneaking bites of the icing is the main objective for them.

We found a new ingredient for the making of the Easter bunny cake - pink colored edible grass from Germany. We used it for the whiskers. Fun! The other parts were just colored Lifesaver Jellybeans.

Here's how you make the Easter Bunny Cake:

Bake two 9" round cakes- any flavor you like

When the cakes are cooled, cut two little ear parts

I hope this illustration helps. You have to imagine the lines a little more curved. The middle part is to be used for the bowtie underneath the face of the bunny. The ears go on top of the face of the bunny as ears. FUN!!!

Then use a container of any white icing. Spread icing onto the entire cake. I didn't put icing on the sides of the was getting late....I was getting lazy. If you like coconut, you can sprinkle shredded coconut onto the cake as the bunny fur. It's super cute!

Use jellybeans for the eyes, nose and to surround the bowtie. I used the edible grass or you can use Twizzlers for the bunny whiskers.
Voila! The finished product! It might not be the prettiest, but it tasted pretty darn good. And, the boys thought it was so cool!

I made Tyler and Hunter each a fun little basket with a few goodies. My favorite was the chicken that pooped out little gumballs. Just the perfect little toy for a boy!

I even bought my Mom a package of Lindor Truffles! Can you say YUM!?

After dinner, we all moved into the living room.....aka...the Wii performance arena. Josh, my brother-in-law didn't know what hit him when we started playing tennis. I almost beat him! I play some mean tennis on the Wii. The guys also boxed. My arms hurt too much when I try to box. Guess I have weak arms, huh?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Where was blogging 10 years ago?

When my firstborn son was injured during birth and his entire right arm was paralyzed, I spent hours on the internet trying to research anything about his injury. It's known as a Brachial Plexus Injury or Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy. Also Erb's Palsy. The only site I could find was a mother that had a daughter who suffered from the same thing. Her website was very helpful but there was no way to email her or get in touch with her to ask questions. You see, my son's injury is known as a "rare disability", which means there are very few doctors or physical therapists that deal with this type of issue. We were sent to a physical therapist in Tulsa that did specialize in Brachial Plexus when Tyler was a mere 4 days old. I wasn't even sure what was going on, I was in such shock. At that first therapist appointment, it was the first time I heard anyone refer to the injury as life-long. Life-long? Doesn't that mean you never recover? Doesn't that mean it lasts forever? To be honest, I spent every night, all night on the internet and found very little information to help me. It was the loneliest time of my life. Period. I had a husband who chose to deal with it by ignoring it. He would just tell me it would be alright and that I was overreacting. I knew that it was much more. I knew I had to be proactive and figure out a plan. I eventually found one other Mom through our therapist that had a son with a Brachial Plexus injury. We had each other to talk to and that helped so much. But, this was late 1998 and the internet just wasn't what it is today. Very few people considered the internet the place to look for information and bonding.
I was so moved watching Kelly Stamps @ receive so much encouragement and support from the blog world when her daughter was born with pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. I honestly think that the kindness of strangers had to be so moving for the Stamps family as they spent 3 weeks in the NICU here at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa.
I takes me back to the many lonely nights I spent terrified that my child would never move his arm. I didn't know what doctors to contact or what plan of action was the best. If the blog world had been around, I truly believe that all of the kind mothers out there would have made our journey a lot less scary and empty feeling.
It's now 10 years after my son was born and he is doing so well. He has close to 90% movement in his arm and loves all sports. I think the sacrifice of researching many days and nights has paid off, but it would have been so much more comforting to take my blog friends along for the ride.
The miracle of my son will be told in an upcoming post. Get ready to experience some goosebumps. And here's a hint.....prayer does work!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spoiled, Spoiled Dog

Allie Ba-Ba
Allie laying with her cousin Bella, the baby Boxer

My sweet baby!

The drawing I had done from a picture of Allie- It's framed and sits on Jim's credenza behind his desk. I think it's one of his most treasured possessions.

Have you ever wanted to change places with your dog? Do dogs have any stress at all? I guess they might feel stress while protecting their home or yard from intruding dogs, but that's about it. They don't worry about paying the mortgage, feeding children. Nothing like that.

I wouldn't mind changing places with my dog, Allie, at times. She might just be the most spoiled dog on earth. And, there's a reason for it. She scared us to death as a puppy.

We didn't even mean to get her. Mr. Hautemama and I were on our way to a movie in the next town when we realized we were too late to make it. I noticed that there was a pet store next to the movie theater and told Mr. H that we should go look at the puppies.
We walked into the store and went to the back where the cages were kept. Disclaimer*I hate that pet stores buy from breeders but that's another story.

Anyway, when we got to the windows of the cages I looked down and saw the sweetest little white dog with one brown ear. These were my exact words-said with a ton of dramatic flair.

"Oh My GOD, what kind of dog is that?!"

The saleslady said it was a White Boxer and I asked if we could see her. The lady put her in my arms, I thought I would die. I asked her if it was a male or female, knowing that if it was a male, Mr. H would never buy her. The saleslady answered, "It's a female."

I knew at that moment that she was mine! This little bundle of white fur felt just like a rabbit. She was so soft and cuddly I thought I would die if we didn't take her home. I told Mr. H that she was the sweetest dog in the world and I really wanted her. He tried to act tough like he wasn't sure but I knew he thought she was adorable too.

The boys were at their Dad's house and we got to surprise them on Sunday when they got home. They instantly loved her!

Allie came with a 14 day guarantee and on the 15th day, she wasn't moving when I got home from work. We had been putting her in her kennel during the day and Mr. H's sister was checking on her. I called and she said she was acting sick. We thought she probably just had kennel cough. We took her to the vet and they gave us antibiotics. About two days after she was on the antibiotics, she got really sick while in her kennel at night. I mean, really sick, as in, she pooped and threw up all over her kennel before we could get her out of it. She looked horrible and wasn't moving. I was so worried. We rushed her to the vet and he put her in the Intensive Care area and started her on an IV. He was worried that she had eaten something and was poisoned. We had sprayed for ants around the house right before we got Allie - I thought I had killed her. For a couple of days, the vet thought it was ant spray poisoning and they kept her in the ICU. On the 6th day of our puppy being kept at the vet in ICU, I asked Mr. H, "How much money is too much to spend on a 10 week old puppy in ICU?" He replied sternly, "That's my dog and I'll spend whatever I have to." I knew then if we had mortgage the house to pay the bill, he would.

The vet we used was so sweet, he met us at the clinic on the weekend so we could go see her and talk to her. I think he thought she was going to die so he wanted to give us a chance to say goodbye. The vet eventually decided that she had a bacterial infection which took a ton of guilt off of me. The vet upped her antibiotics and 8 days after admitting Allie, we eventually got to take her home. Her doctor told us to feed her anything she would eat. He even told us to try canned catfood. She had lost so much weight, we needed to get some meat on her bones.

When she came home, Mr. H held Allie in his lap every minute of the day that weekend. He was so worried she wouldn't make it, he was going to give her all the attention she deserved. She eventually got much better and continued to grow into the best dog in the world. She sleeps on our bed every night. Well, the boys lay in our bed, watching TV until 9pm and she lays right in the middle of them with her head on a pillow. We move the boys to their bed when we go to sleep and Allie lays on the foot on our bed hugging Mr. H's leg. She sleeps with her head resting on his thigh and her legs hugging his leg. Mr. H will sleep like that without moving just so she can be comfortable.

In the morning, I will get up, turn the alarm off and she will jump off of the bed and run to the bad door to go potty. After doing her business, she comes back into the house and runs to the bedroom where she gets under the covers and Mr. H lays with her cuddling. It's such a sweet sight. She is such a people person. She just wants to be close to her family.
She lays on our bed the entire time I'm getting ready for work and when she sees me put on my shoes, she jumps off the bed and runs into the laundry room to get into her kennel, without even being asked. When the weather is nice, we just leave her out back, but if it's rainy or stormy, she sleeps in "her home" during the day.

When I cook dinner, Mr. H will only eat about 3/4 of the plate so he can give Allie the rest. We also have a Beagle, Baylee. Mr. H definitely favors the White Boxer because that's his baby. If we pet Baylee, Allie will "talk" to us by singing and howling. It's hilarious!
Our favorite party trick is to love and hug on Baylee and tell her she's the best dog in the world while watching Allie pitch a jealous fit. It's the best cheap entertainment in the world! And, I know, the Dog Whisperer wouldn't think that was funny, but we do!

If ever there was a spoiled dog, it would definitely be ours! And, she's the best thing that's happened to us. We never knew you could love a dog so much! What did we do without her?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Duggar Weekend

This past weekend my best friend in the world came to visit us. We’ve been friends for almost twenty years and we’re just like sisters.

Becky and awesome husband Bobby

The only difference is that while I stopped birthing beautiful little children at number 2, she continued on…and on….and on. Until finally at 5 kids, she decided that was enough. Actually after the fourth boy, she finally had a girl! And by girl I mean the most adorable, sweetest little princess in the world, a princess with 4 older brothers. Becky’s kids range in age from 13 to 3 ½. You couldn’t meet a better group of children. They are the most laid back and kindest kids in the world. The really cool thing is how the oldest one takes care of the youngest. Her oldest Lucas really watches out for the baby girl in the group. It’s adorable.

Becky’s second oldest had a basketball tournament in the big city 30 minutes from our house so they stayed with us. Getting to save the cost of a hotel room for 2 nights was definitely worth the 30 minute drive to town everyday for the tournament.

I was so excited for them to show up. They had never been to our new house and I was anxious for us all to get to sit around talking and catching up on the goings on in our lives.

They arrived late Friday night due to the 3 hour drive from their house. We made cots on the floor and tried to figure out where all of the kids would be sleeping. Four in the twin bunk beds and one on the floor of my little man’s room. Becky and her husband Bobby would sleep together in the twin bed in H-man’s room. It sounded cramped to me but I guess that way they could snuggle.

The morning after their arrival, I got up earlier than Becky and went in the kitchen to figure out what to make the kids for breakfast. I had the brilliant idea of making pancakes. We had half a bottle of syrup so we were good. Well, I guess I’m so used to cooking for four that I forgot a half a bottle of syrup with 6 little boys and one little girl doesn’t go very far. I started supplementing with Cinnamon Toast as the syrup was being used up. Everybody got a few pancakes and piece of toast and all was good with the world.

Becky and her family went to the basketball tournament on Saturday and we went to the boy’s soccer game. I knew I better get to Wal-mart or we wouldn’t have anything to eat with all 11 people home that night. Have you ever tried to figure out how to cook in bulk when you aren’t used to it? It’s a hard task. I couldn’t think of anything to cook so I started thinking about all the Duggar episodes I’ve watched. What would Michelle Duggar do? She would make something simple…..hmmm….CHILI! That was the answer!

I scooted around Wal-mart getting all the ingredients for chili. I bought 6 pounds of ground beef so we would have extra at home for another meal. Fritos for Frito chili pie and a pound of shredded cheese. I knew that would be plenty.

Well, they didn’t get home until later that night so they ate in the big city. We all played the Wii when they returned. Have you ever seen a 5 year old box on the Wii? So funny! Carson was really into boxing Victor, the Wii opponent. The look on his face was priceless. After all the grown-ups finished catching up and watching the kids play Wii, we went to bed around midnight.

When we woke up the next morning, I fixed the kids Cinnamon Toast again because they loved it the night before. After I had stood at the toaster oven for about 40 minutes, Becky asked me how long I planned on standing there toasting 4 slices at a time. She said the way to cook for a ton of kids was to use a cookie sheet and the broiler. I had never thought of that! I had been standing at the toaster forever. Long enough to use up almost a loaf of bread. Guess I should use my brain next time and get it done a ton faster.
I have to admit that I loved having all of those kids around. There is a part of me that could totally go the Duggar way. Maybe not 18 kids, but having the seven wasn't so bad. It was fun and a ton of activity. I can imagine that when you have 7 kids, there is always someone around, someone to talk to, a playmate. Pretty good concept if you ask me. It made me realize just how organized the Duggars really have to be to keep their lives moving along and not in complete chaos.
For now, I'll just take the two little pumpkins I've got. They are the perfect amount and the perfect kids. It's all I need.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Haircolor dilemma

A while back I decided I was tired of my highlighted hair and I was going to go back to my natural color. Only problem, I haven't seen it in many, many years. My last haircolor creation was to put three different colors together to create lowlights and highlights. At least, that's the jargon my sweet hairdresser told me. I had brown and red, with some blonde highlights. I really liked the color but was getting sick of how frizzy and dull my hair looked with the highlights. (I have no idea if highlights really make your hair look frizzy, but that's how I felt. Sorry highlight haired friends out there.) Every time I would see a picture of someone with dark hair, their hair looked so shiny and healthy. One example of really adorable dark hair is on the Stain Family blog. I love her hair, so shiny and the color looks so rich! She makes me want to cut my hair actually, but that's for another entry.

So...I had my hairdresser dye my hair a dark red. It looked pretty good, a real rich auburn. The only problem was that where my blonde highlight was, the red was fading out and turning Fuschia! Eeek! So I called Katie, my hairdresser back and told her we had to color over the Fuschia. She put a really rich dark brown color over it. At first, it was REALLY dark and I was kind of shocked to look at myself. But it actually matched my brown eyes so I thought it was ok.

Now that my real haircolor is starting to grow, I've discovered that my hair isn't as dark as I originally thought. It's growing in a dark ash blonde. UGH! Now what do I do?