Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Character Counts

I am so proud of my family!

Today, Julianna was chosen by her teacher to be the "Character Student" in his class.  Mr. Severt  said so many great things about her.  He said she is always caring of others and she helps them no matter what.  He said she turned out well even though she had four brothers beating on her all those years before she finally got her sister, Bella.  Derek and I got a kick out of that, especially since he was able to name each of our children.

Then Michael had a "sweeps" day.  He came home with awards in nearly every class.  And then not only did he win "Character Student" of his class, he also won for the school!  His teacher, Mr. Howard said to the judges that there was nothing he didn't like about Michael.  He also said to me earlier this year, "Michael is one of the best people I've ever met.  I mean, adult or child."  What an awesome thing to hear.

And I need to mention Tyler's excellent character.  When they were getting ready to announce the "Character Student" of the school, Tyler was saying, "I'm so nervous and excited, I know it's going to be Michael or Charles."  And when Michael won, Tyler was on his feet yelling "Yeah Michael!"  He kept saying over and over to Michael that he was so happy for him.

It was a great day for my little family.  Maybe sometimes, we do something right around here. I just love them all.


I am so ready, bring it on. 
Do you think the teachers notice when the kids wear the same clothes one or two (give or take) days in a row? (And would you believe even the dirty clothes were hard to find!)
Matthew was wearing crusty socks to school.  He only wore them one other time.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
I've been so tired and busy lately, last week I signed myself out of eighth grade instead of my son. 
Then I called Matthew in sick.  So his teacher was lectured by the front office for counting Matthew present.  "Well, I am looking at Matthew right now, could it be one of her other children?"  Of course, it was Michael.
See, I need to be done for a while, and I am excited to hang out with my kids!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Proceed with Caution

Here is a recap of the conversation that my children had yesterday when we went to the pool.

Josh:  Mom, do you want me to take Matthew through the men's bathroom?
Mom:  Yes Josh, that would be great.
Josh:  Matthew, stay close to me and hold my hand, it can be pretty disturbing in there.
Jules:  There are hairy men, huh.
Josh:  Yes, there are and sometimes they are changing.
Josh:  And Matthew, don't wash your hands in the toilet.

I guess this is how boys become men.  That hand washing part, very important information.  It makes me wonder how Joshua learned this important lesson....  (Some things, I guess a mom really doesn't want to know...)

Thumbs Up!

"All I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned In Kindergarten"

Matthew's program included an excerpt from Robert Fulghum's book, "All I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten."  I am going to include it below, it's one of my favorites.

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be, I learned in Kindergarten.  Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school. 
These are the things I learned.

*Share everything.
*Play fair.
*Don't hit people.
*Put things back where you found them.
*Clean up your own mess.
*Don't take things that aren't yours.
*Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
*Wash your hands before you eat.
*Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
*Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
*Take a nap every afternoon.  (My note, yeah right!)
*When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
*Be aware of wonder.
*Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the styrofoam cup - they all die.  So do we.
*And then remember the Dick-and Jane books and the first work you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK!

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.  The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation.  Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.  Take any of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm.  Think what a better world it would be if all - the whole world - had cookies and milk about one o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap.  Or if all governments had a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true.  No matter how old you are - when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Love it!  Love you Matthew!

Kindergarten Graduation, 2010

I am very sentimental writing this post.  It's been a big, fast year for my family. Being injured for a large part of the year seemed to make it go by at light speed. 

This Tuesday, May 18th my original baby, Matthew graduated from Kindergarten.  I can't believe that he is already finished.  Just like all young moms, I thought my house would be filled with babies forever!  Now I am down to just one during the day.  Where does time go!?

Here is my handsome Matthew, complete with cap and gown.  (I don't know when you started wearing cap and gown at a kindergarten graduation, but it sure looks cute.)

Matthew Derek Samuel  May, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Derek and I Totally Get It :)

This was my Mother's Day card from Derek.  So funny to me  :)

Keeper of the Fish

So I get a phone call the other day.

The caller ID says The Linn Group.  Hmmm... I am thinking. That seems somewhat official, maybe I should answer it.

So I answer and a male voice asks, "Is Michael Samuel there?"  (Weird, I am thinking.)

Ummm No, this is his mother, may I ask who is calling?

"This is so and so (you can't expect me to remember names), I am calling from the Linn Group.  We are an investment banking firm in Chicago."

My wheels are turning, but things are starting to come together....

I ask, "Michael is my twelve year old son.  Did he leave you a message or something? How did you get our number?"  (You may think that's a little odd, that I would wonder if Michael would have called an investment banking firm and left a message, but it is actually plausible to me.)

Well, this is the number he left us in his email.  Let's see, the email is...  and as he reads the name, you can hear things coming together for him...  keeperofthefish @ ....  okay, nevermind, thank you and he hung up. I bet I assume correctly that business moguls around the world's email don't include the word "fish" very often and even less, "keeper of."  (It is a clever name though, don't you think?)

I really got a chuckle out of that phone call.  I mean, obviously we need to give Michael a little lecture on handing his phone number out to investment banking firms on the internet, but now it makes much more sense as to why we've been recieving "Investors Business Daily" in the mail.  (True story.)

I wonder if that guy told anyone around the water cooler at work?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cheesy Chicken and Homemade Rice a Roni

I made this for dinner tonight and everyone really loved it, so I'm posting it here before I forget what I did.  (That happens sometimes.)  And like all of my recipes lately, this makes a lot of food and everything is an approximation.

Cheesy Chicken:

About four pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
One large bag fresh baby spinach
2 containers fresh chopped mushrooms
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 brick low fat cream cheese, room temperature or soft (At my house, room temperature will make it soft.)
1 jar alfredo sauce
1/2 pound bacon
About one cup shredded cheese.  (I used some co-jack and some mozarella)
Jane's season salt

As you can tell by the ingredients list, this is not low fat.  You can help it out by using low fat cream of chicken soup if you like.... or you can just make it like it is and enjoy  :)

Crisp the bacon in a frying pan, reserving the grease
Cut bacon into large crumbles, set to the side
Brown the chicken on both sides in the bacon grease, season lightly with salt

In a large casserole dish (9 by 11) layer:
Bag of spinach
Mushrooms on top of spinach
Chicken Breast
*In a bowl, combine soup, cream cheese and alfredo sauce.  Mix thoroughly, warming in the microwave for a few seconds if needed to soften
Pour this mixture over the top of the chicken
Sprinkle the bacon over the soup mixture
Top with the shredded cheese
Set the oven at 400 degrees.  Cover your dish with foil and bake for about 50 minutes, then remove the foil and  bake about 20 more minutes to help it thicken

You don't want to overcook your chicken so make sure you check it.  I had large thick pieces of chicken to bake, so it may not take yours as long to bake.

Homemade Rice a Roni:  (In the Rice Cooker)

One and a half cups rice
One cup broken (in small pieces) either angel hair pasta or spaghetti
*Brown these both together in a combo of two tbsp. olive oil and 2 tbsp. butter in a fry pan
Finely chop 1/2 medium yellow onion
1-2 tbsp. dried parsley

Add 3-4 tsp. chicken boullion to 5 cups hot water(depends on how seasoned you want your rice)
Pour water/boullion mix into your rice cooker
Add your browned rice/noodle mix, onion and parsley
Press cook  :)

This turned out so yummy.  Dara, you'd like it with 1 1/4 cup rice, I think that would make the texture more "Dara Friendly"

Love you all and I hope you enjoy it! 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

My baby girl Julianna melted my heart today with this Mother's Day letter.  It moved me to tears.  I recieved cards from each of the kids and I loved each one.  It was a great day!  I am so thankful for my family.  Every child I have brings something new, different and fun into my life and I am married to Superman.  I am truly blessed.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Cinco de Mayo

OK, so I am recording this salsa recipe while I remember it.  We made it for Activity Days this week and it turned out delicious!  All of these ingredients can be altered to fit your own taste buds, but this turned out pretty well.


4 cans fire roasted tomato  (you can use any canned tomatoes, I just prefer fire roasted)
3 cloves garlic
*Combine these in the food processor and pour into bowl.

Chop in small pieces and add into the tomato mixture:

one bunch green onion, white and green parts
1/2 large white onion (or more if you like it)

Use kitchen shears to cut 1/2 a bunch of cilantro into small pieces, add to the salsa to taste.

Salt, lots of it, don't be afraid!  It brings up the flavor of the other ingredients

Chop a jalapeno, or two or three or more.  Add as wanted and don't forget to use gloves when you chop. 

This is easy salsa that tastes seriously good!


8 large avacado
1 large scoop of mayonaise  (I am leaving this vague on purpose)
2 chopped roma tomatoes
1 or 2 cloves garlic
Salt to taste

Mash all of the above ingredients in a bowl.  Keep on adding and tasting as you go until it is exactly right!

Salsa and guacamole is a personal thing, I wouldn't want to get in your way!

Cafe Rio Pork and Tomatillo Dressing

So I looked up a few Cafe Rio recipes on the internet, but I ended up just winging one based on what I found.  I think it turned out really well, so I'm going to post it here.

Cafe Rio Pork

4-5 pound boneless pork loin roast
2 cans sprite
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 packets onion soup mix
1 can Hunts fire roasted tomatoes with green chili (although any tomato with green chili will do)

Place all of the ingredients in a crock pot for several hours, until the pork shreds easily.  (If I have a lot of time, I cook it on low.  If I'm short on time, I turn my crock pot to high.)  The carbonation in the soda makes the pork tender and yummy!

Tomatillo Dressing

This makes tons of dressing.

2 cups buttermilk
1 cup mayonaise
3 tomatillos  (they look like green tomatoes, in a husk)
2 cloves garlic
4-5 tbsp. dry ranch mix.  (one packet is equal to three tbsp.)
1/2 bunch of cilantro
the juice of one lime
salt to taste

Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor until thoroughly combined and refridgerate to set.  This comes out like a thin ranch dressing.  It's a little tangy, but delicious! 

We ate this on salad complete with rice, black beans and guacamole.  MMMMM!!

Happy Mother's Day! (Early)

I just have to say, since this is a book of remembrance for me, that my inspiration for my blog tonight came from the fact that it took me about twenty minutes to take this picture. Not because I was searching for the perfect background or good lighting, no. I was looking for somewhere I could set it where the flower wouldn't be in front of black bananas, dirty dishes, leftovers still on the counter, you get the point.

This is a picture of my Mother's Day gift from Joshua.  I am LOVING it!  He made and painted the clay flower pot all by himself.  He said all of the kids in the class were asking him for the purple flower because it was so pretty.  Josh insisted he keep it for me.  I just love that little guy. 

He was baptized last week.  When the meeting started, and everyone was reverent and quiet, Bishop stood up and asked Derek, "are we waiting on anyone else?"  Derek said "no" and Josh shouts out, "let's get this thing started!"  Josh is a human sparkler.

I have a cute story about Matthew today too.  He comes home from the Rattler's game (arena football) and says to me, "mom, there were girls there that were totally inappropriate."  You have to imagine this in his little six year old voice that still baby talks sometimes.  So I asked him, did they wear short skirts?  And he said "no, but I could see their belly buttons the whole time!"  I guess he talked about the inappropriate girls at the game half the drive home.  That's a little different than Tyler wanting to get a pictures and autographs with the Rattler's cheerleaders last year, isn't it? 

Funny kids, I love being a Mom!

Meow Mix

I also almost fed a cute little kitty to Buddy our Boxer tonight. I also traumatized my daughter for life. My intention was to introduce Buddy to the kitty so that they could live happily every after together in my back yard. Those dreams were dashed within about 60 seconds of the cat meeting the dog.

The kitty, (I believe Michael named him Meow Mix), started hissing at Buddy. Buddy made a lunge for the kitty and I nearly got my fingers dislocated hanging onto Buddy's collar and trying to calm him back down. Julianna rushed into the house with the cat hissing and clawing at her. She was devastated because naturally Meow Mix blamed Julianna for nearly becoming, well, Meow Mix. He hissed at Jules every time she came near after that and it broke Julianna's heart.

Grandma was so sweet. She helped the kitty calm down and got him to sleep and then encouraged Jules to pet him again. Good job Grandma! The idea is to reunite the cat with his mom tomorrow. I don't think we're the house for him....