Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday-Another Recipe!

We gotta hott one tonight! HA. Ten points for you if you if you can guess where that first sentence came from. It seemed fitting. Ok, done with the cornyness (sp?). So, I found this at allrecipes.com a couple of months ago, in another one of my desperate attempts to find a new recipe that would break up the bland, boring, typical rotation of tacos, spaghetti, and roasted chicken. We've had a thing for Italian sausage lately, and of course we are all pasta connoisseur's, so this seemed a good fit. I made a couple of small adjustments, and it turned out great. So pull up tonight to a warm bowl of this delicious soup, and savor both the flavor, AND the fact that Monday is Over! And as always (yet none of you ever do this--poor sports!) Let me know what you think!  Enjoy :)

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups beef broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup red wine (I didnt have wine so I just sub'd more beef broth)
4 large tomatoes - peeled, seeded, and chopped (too much work! I just added a 15oz can of petite diced tomatoes)
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1/2 tablespoon packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups sliced zucchini
8 ounces fresh tortellini pasta
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS:

In a 5 quart Dutch oven, brown sausage. Remove sausage and drain, reserving 1 tablespoon of the drippings.

Sauté onions and garlic in drippings. Stir in beef broth, water, wine, tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano, tomato sauce, and sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Skim fat from the soup. Stir in zucchini and parsley. Simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add tortellini during the last 10 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese on top of each serving.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

MOTHERING BOYS

August 2008- 19 weeks pregnant with our first child. In the ultrasound room waiting, tummy FULL of butterflies, for the technician to reveal the gender. Dont care one bit which way it goes, just anxious to know. ITS A BOY!

March 2010- 18 weeks pregnant with twins. In the ultrasound room for a somewhat emergent double biophysical profile check on both babies. I was having a lot of painful and regular contractions. Babies look great AND guess what? BOTH ARE BOYS!

The final order is in. The twins are the last children I will be having, so what does it all mean? I am a mother to all boys. 3 boys! You know, we all know...you DO parent boys differently than girls. People might insist that they parent equally, but that is just BS.

Once the news that the twins were both boys sunk in, I let myself be incredibly excited! I started thinking about how my life as a mother would be...what dynamics would be in place, with having all boys. I thought about what kind of Mom I would be to them. I asked myself what I still feel is the most important question to ask yourself about parenting...."How do you want your kids to remember you?" How do I want my boys to remember me? Here are some of the thoughts I have on that.....

A HUGE part of me plans to be that 1950's Mom. Stay at home for their entire childhoods. Cook a homemade dinner every night. Make them lunches for school every morning, and send them off in little brown paper bags. NEVER make them eat the school lunches because for one, they are gross. For two, I hated that as a kid because I felt like the kids whose parents made them lunches loved them more. Obviously that isnt the case at all, but thats what I thought as a kid. Take them to school every morning and pick them up every afternoon because again, as I kid I thought the parents that did that loved their kids more. And when they walk into the house after school, the first thing they notice is the smell of freshly baked cookies. And after they each eat a warm gooey cookie, they head to their bedrooms to find a neatly folded pile of clean clothes at the end of their beds, that they will be expected to put away immediately. After that they will do their chores, and they WILL have chores. Lots of them. I strongly believe in that. And somewhere in there will also be homework and dinner time, AND FAMILY TIME! I know, this all probably sounds completely nauseating thus far.... :P

A SMALL part of me plans to be that liberal, free spirited, spontaneous, and thrill-seeking Mom. I want my kids to look back and think, my Mom was FUN! I want their friends to say "Dude, Your Mom Rocks!". But at the same time, I want them all to be scared to death to cross me ;) I want them to think of me as just a tiny bit crazy. Mom is willing to try anything once. That kind of thing. I want them to know that they can be whoever they want to be, and that I will support them and love them the same. Well, i'd rather they not be strippers or pimps or something like that, but you know what I mean!

I want them to see their Mom as a Lady. But yet, I also want them to know that while they are playing outside, chin deep in dirt and mud, Mom will be right there playing with them and smothered in the same dirt. And I will stand next to them and their Daddy, beside the river, fishing for salmon. And I will also be right there to help them clean the catch. I dont necessarily PREFER to do that, but I want them to know that I will if I need to. Im a total tomboy at heart, so I think God knew it would be fitting for me to have all boys. But again, I want them to see me as a lady. Soft hearted and open-minded. Easy to talk to.

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE it if they always called me Momma. I am such a softy for that. The way little southern boys say it, like, "Maawmaah". I love that.

I want to be the hott Mom. Yeah yeah, I know what your thinking, but we ALL want to be the hott Mom. Its not that I care if their friends think im hott, but I care that it would make my boys so proud of me if their friends told them their Mom was hott :) Get what im sayin'?? Of course they would act like "Dude, thats so gross, dont talk about my Mom like that!" But deep down they will feel good about it, and be proud of me. You always want your kids to be proud of you, just as they want you to be proud of them.

I want to have great relationships with my sons' girlfriends/wives. I want them to come to me when my boys are being farts and they need advice about how to deal with them. I want them to ask me how to make each boys favorite dish, because the way Momma does it is the best! But then I will explain to them that, as sorry as I am, I will not give them that recipe....because I have to hang on to the few things I have to give my sons that their ladies just cant. That way they will always have something to come back to Momma for :) Yes, im wicked like that!

I want them to remember me as a great Mom. Period. End of story. To remember that I raised them with a lot of LOVE and a lot of DISCIPLINE. That I was always there for them. And I want them to look back and know that I put everything into being a good Mom to them.

HOW DO YOU WANT YOUR KIDS TO REMEMBER YOU?

Monday, January 24, 2011

MONDAY-FOR THE FOODIES!

Hello Monday. Wow, did it just straight up slam everyone else in the face too?? Maybe I am feeling the effect of it even more than usual because I am sick. SICK SICK SICK. Nasty cold! And I am trying desperately not to share it with anyone, especially my kids. 3 sick kids might just send me right on over that edge, the one that is already in such close proximity. But anyway, I have another great recipe to share that will hopefully help a few of you smoothe over the weekly grind. Its fairly quick, super yummy, left-over producing, can be made ahead of time, and can even be altered slightly to accomodate my vegetarian buddies (you know who you are). It is also a recipe that can be played with. So try this one out and please let me know what you think :) ENJOY!


SOUTH-OF-THE-BORDER STUFFED SHELLS

INGREDIENTS
24 uncooked jumbo shells
1 1/2 grated cup Monterey Jack cheese and/or cheddar cheese
1 16 oz jar picante sauce
1 8 oz can tomato sauce 
1/2 cup water
1 chopped medium onion
1 lb ground beef lean
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp chili powder 

DIRECTIONS
1. Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain.
2. Mix picante sauce, tomato sauce and water in small bowl.
3. In a skillet, cook onion and ground beef in oil over medium heat until meat is browned and onion is tender (if using non-stick skillet, use only 1 teaspoon of olive oil).
4. Remove from heat and drain off fat.
5. Add chili powder, 1/2 cup shredded cheese and 1/2 cup picante sauce mixture to meat mixture.
6. Preheat oven to 350º F.
7. Pour half of remaining picante sauce mixture in bottom of 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish.
8. Fill each cooked shell with 1 to 2 tablespoons of mixture and place shells in baking dish.
9. Pour remaining picante mixture over top of shells.
10. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 F for 20 to 30 minutes.
11. Uncover, add remaining 1 cup cheese and bake, uncovered, an additional 5 minutes until cheese melts.
12. Serve immediately.

TIP: This recipe can be assembled and frozen. To bake, thaw at room temperature for 8 hours and bake as directed above.

* Sometimes I add about 3/4 of a can of corn.
And I pretty much always add more cheese than it calls for. Feel free to do the same :)


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Twin Talk Tuesday

Hey-O Everyone! As promised, its Twin Talk Tuesday. Below are the answers to some of the FAQ's I get about twins. I planned to answer a LOT more questions, but this all got a little involved (which is why you can see how parents of multiples get irritated when we get stopped in stores by multiple random strangers who want to play "50 questions, the twins edition", with us. And all while we are trying to cram 1 hour of shopping into the last 15 minutes of their nap name, because may every force be with us if they wake up in the middle of the shopping trip!). So, while Twin Talk Tuesday may or may not be a regular segment (is that what you call it, a segment? Idk, sounds good though), I will be doing it from time to time, and will continue to answer more of the questions I didnt get to today :) Read On!

MANDY~


ARE THEY BOTH BOYS, BOTH GIRLS, ONE OF EACH?

Not that the blue carseats, blue blankets, and blue sleepers would have been ANY indication, but they are both boys.

ARE THEY IDENTICAL?

We dont know yet. The usual response from people is "Huh, cant they tell when your pregnant with them?". Gosh I sure am glad I studied genetics, with an emphasis on twinning, while I was at Johns Hopkins University, so that I can spend the next 15 minutes properly explaining this to a complete stranger. The answer as follows: Girl/Boy twins are always, no matter what, fraternal. They are from 2 separate eggs. Now, as for same sex twins, huh-hmmm, listen carefully now because this is where everyone gets confused.... There is always a possibility with same sex twins, EVEN IF THEY HAVE 2 SEPARATE PLACENTAS AND ARE IN 2 SEPARATE SACS, that they could be identical. This is my situation. My boys were in separate sacs and had separate placentas (which is the healthiest way to carry a twin pregnancy btw), but that still does not mean they are fraternal twin boys. Got it? Why, you ask?? Why the heck is that? BECAUSE, ok....here's another part where you need to listen carefully... There is a very small time frame for when an egg splits, AND IF the egg splits at a very precise point in that small time frame, IT WILL APPEAR that the twins are fraternal because they will be in separate sacs and have separate placentas, when in fact they are identical. Do I have you confused all over the place?? Twins can appear to be fraternal, in utero, when in fact they are identical...IT JUST ALL DEPENDS ON WHEN THE EGG SPLIT. Of course, they can be fraternal and have separate placentas and sacs too. So basically, there is no way of knowing for a fact, unless they are boy/girl twins. You just have to "wait and see as they grow older" as my doctor said.

     SUB QUESTION OF THE LAST QUESTION...
     CAN WE TELL YET IF OURS ARE IDENTICAL OR FRATERNAL?
         
     Nope. We still mix them up sometimes.

HOW DO YOU TELL THEM APART?

No, we did not take everyone's advice and put tattoo's on the bottoms of their feet. We can usually tell by looking at them straight on because Dev has a rounder head, and Bryce has more of an oval shaped head. If we look at them from any angle other than straight on, we often cant tell. Especially if they happen to be in the same outfits.

DO YOU DRESS THEM THE EXACT SAME?

Sometimes. When they were brand new, we always did. I just thought that was the cool part of having same sex twins, and plus it just put a punctuation mark at the end of the sentence "YOU HAVE TWINS", which was still sinking in at that point. Now, I still like doing the similar twin dress-up thing, but I tend to just coordinate them now, rather than dress them identically. Except at night, at night we dress them completely different, so that in our sleep deprived-one eye closed and the other half way open-stumbling to the nursery to pick up a crying baby-HAZE, we might have the smallest chance in the world of knowing which one we have.

THEIR NAMES? WHATS WITH THOSE?

Devin Wayne....Devin is a name I heard while at the waterslides in 07, and banked in my memory for future usage. And Wayne is Todd's middle name. Devin is named after his Dad.
Bryce Kayden...Bryce is a name Todd really liked, and I did too when he suggested it to me. Kayden is after my middle name, which is Kay. But come on, we couldnt name him Bryce Kay. We might as well have just named him Sue at that point. (Johnny Cash fans, that was for you). So. Devin Wayne and Bryce Kayden.

Thats it for this Tuesday! Dont forget Wordless Wednesday tomorrow :) Have a great day everybody!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday = Food Day!

Happy Monday everyone! You know what Monday means over here at "A Blue-Eyed Life"... Food day baby :) Today I decided to share a recipe with you guys that is one of our faves. Chicken Broccoli Casserole, straight out of the cookbook "Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen" by Trisha Yearwood. "The country singer?" you ask.... Yes. Her. Good singer, GREAT cook! I am always looking for recipes that produce leftovers for lunch, and this is one does that wonderfully. So, try it out and let me know what you think. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do :)

MANDY

CHICKEN BROCCOLI CASSEROLE



2 cups cooked rice (I dont measure the cooked rice, I just cook 1 1/2 cups of dry rice, and use it all)
3 cups cooked chopped broccoli
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 10-oz can condensed cream of chicken soup
10 oz Cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (I just buy a whole rotisserie chicken, and shred and use that)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13x9 baking dish with butter or non-stick cooking spray.

Spread the rice in an even layer in the baking dish. Make a second layer with the broccoli.

In a large bowl, mix the sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, condensed soup, half of the grated cheese, and the salt, pepper, and chicken. Pour this mixture over the broccoli and top with remaining grated cheese. Bake for 40 minutes.

Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Twin Talk Tuesday (this coming Tuesday)

So I get a lot of questions about having twins. Questions about the pregnancy, the delivery, life with twins, etc. And now that the blog has given me a larger platform to discuss these things, that is exactly what I will be doing. I'm calling it Twin Talk Tuesday. And just guess what day I will be doing it on? Good guess, yes, on Tuesday. So this coming Tuesday, in 3 days, I will be addressing all of the FAQs I get about twins. If anyone has ANY questions at all related to the topic of twins, please email me or comment on this blog. Nothing is off boundaries, so ask away! Then tune in on Tuesday for the answers/discussion.



MANDY

Friday, January 14, 2011

6 Months and Counting...

So I took the twins to their 6 month baby check-ups today. Crazy to think they are already 6 months old; well technically they are 6 1/2 months old now. After going through a battery of tests and just plain wingin' it to try and troubleshoot what was causing their problems over the last few months, it feels like we have come full circle. Mostly. I breastfed them for 5 months. Yay Me. But for some very odd reason, my breastmilk didnt sit well at all with them. It caused tummy pain, constipation, and LOTS of gas. When I say lots, and even when I put it all in caps, like LOTS, it is still the understatement of the century. One day I was rocking Bryce, as he was squirming in complete discomfort, and I swear he farted more than I have ever heard any adult fart. Seriously. I felt so bad for him. So in an effort to make their little lives more comfortable, we put them on formula. Just the basic ol' Similac Advance. It seemed to solve the constipation issue, but they were still horribly uncomfortable and gassy. And then came another symptom, food aversion. They would fight and fight when we would try to bottle feed them. The exact way an acid reflux baby would. So the Dr put them on prescription Zantac. It seemed to help, maybe a little. Or maybe we were just trying super hard to see something that really wasnt there. On to the next drug. Prevacid. Same thing, we thought maybe a tiny bit better. Maybe not. So, one day my husband, the problem-solver that he is, said "we need to try putting them on sensitive formula". So matter of factly. Ok. So thats what we did and Wah-La! Within 2 days they were back to their normal, giggly, smiley, happy baby selves. It seems like such an obvious solution now, but we had eliminated that option early on because their stool-sample tests came back showing no cow milk allergies. Apparantly they do not have cow milk allergies, but they do have a sensitivity to it. There. The End. So now, we feel like we are parenting normal babies, and we are continuing to encourage good nighttime sleeping habits in hopes that sometime soon, we could receive the ultimate reward of a solid, uninterrupted, nights sleep.

Except now, they are teething. One thing that all parents know....IF IT IS NOT ONE THING, ITS ANOTHER!

Because of the feeding issues over the last several months, they went from being in the 85th percentile on only my breastmilk (yes, I had buttermilk), to the 60th percentile where they currently are. Devin weighs 18lbs 3oz, and Bryce weighs 18lbs even. Still big healthy boys. Still so blessed.

One other thing from this visit. As I was waiting in the (where else) waiting room, there was a man there with his wife (I assume) and their baby. He, being Mister Obvious, says "Are they twins?". Me, "Do I really need to answer that?" No, I didnt really say that, I just really thought it. "Yes, they are". So he goes on to say "Thats so awesome". And I reply with, "Yeah it is, its fun....and sometimes it sucks!". What? WHAT?? Did she just say that having twins sometimes sucks????? Oh, Em, Gee!!! Ok, let me defend myself here. I would never, ever ever, (do I need to add a few more never ever's to emphasize the point?) NEVER EVER, trade what I have. Nor do I take it for granted. I thank God every single day for blessing me with these precious gifts, and trusting me to do right by them, and by Him. BUT, sometimes, the logistics of it all, Sucks. Sorry people. But that is the truth. That is honest, and that is real. And I know a lot of you want to say it sometimes too. So im saying it for all of us. And its OK. It doesnt make any of us bad parents. We arent saying that our children suck. We are just saying that it is hard work. Really REALLY hard work sometimes, and often times it sucks.

And I will close this post with a quote from my Dad, "Parenting is the hardest thing you will ever do, and the most rewarding thing you will ever do." Well said Pops.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

BLOGGIN' IT UP!

Hello blog world J So, I started a blog. Yep. For those of you who don’t know me very well, I am a stay at home Mommy to my 2 year old son Kyle, and my 6 month old twin boys Devin & Bryce. Married to a wonderful man, Todd, who truly makes my world turn. More about me? Ok ok, fine. I recently discovered I have a passion for photography.  I have the cutest subjects in the world to practice on, so hopefully this will help with fine tuning my skills, and maybe, JUST MAYBE, result in some brag worthy photos in the future. My other great passion is horses. I grew up barrel racing. (I just lost a bunch of you didn’t I? Well, thank God for google!) At this current point in time I am taking a break from horsey stuff (obviously I did not graduate college with a masters degree in writing, so expect to hear lots of: words that don’t exist, grammatical errors, slang talk, and horrible useless filler words like “stuff”). Wait where was I? Oh yeah, a break from “horsey STUFF”.  Taking a break for life to happen. To get married (check), have my babies (check check check), and get through the beginning stages of those most important things. So I plan to head back into the arena, hopefully, next year J And I cant wait! Im just a country girl at heart, so of course I enjoy all of the usual hobbies that match a person like me, who grew up in a town with a population of -5. Fishing, camping, horseback riding in the mountains, etc. But besides all of my extracurricular hobbies, my GREATEST fulfillments in life come from being a Mother and a Wife. If everything else was gone and I just had those things, I would be just fine.

Moving On. BLOG PLANS. Oh, the plans I have for this blog! And all of these plans are, TIME PERMITTING. With 3 kids under 2, “extra time” is a phrase I typically choke on when I try to say it out loud. But on a good day, I get some time where all 3 kids are taking naps at the same time. So whats a Mom to do with this free time? I blog, that’s what I do!
So. Blog plans. This is a rough draft, that is likely to change, but for now it will be somewhat scheduled to help keep my life sane. Every Monday will be food day. I will most likely post a recipe that is a regular around here, and one that we love. Maybe I will talk about some tips or shortcuts I have stumbled across, probably through some cooking disaster I was a part of. Or maybe I will share a great website that has wonderful recipes for us all to try. I will tell you this much though, I want this to help other Mom’s like me who find themselves struggling with “ugh, what do I cook for dinner tonight?” Its easy to get in a rut with your dinner rotations and become desperate for some new inspiration. So hopefully you can find some of that HERE, every MONDAY J
Because of my recently discovered passion for photography, as mentioned above, I will do Wordless Wednesdays. Because-how-can-I-have-a-blog-and-not-do-Wordless-Wednesdays???!! (I stole this idea from Brooke Burke @ modernmom) I will post a picture, or 3 or 5, or more, without any words or blog entries accompanying them. Hence the whole “wordless” idea. Maybe down the line others can join me in this?
So, to summarize.
Mondays: Food day
Wednesdays: Wordless Wednesdays (photos only)
And, according to no set schedule whatsoever, the other days will consist of postings about LIFE. I will talk about anything and everything I want to. So there! No, seriously. This is where I get to be spontaneous J Oh jeez, look out!
One promise I will make…..it will all be REAL. I cant stand reading blogs where people try to project like life is perfect, they are perfect, and nothing ever unsettles them. If I am pissed off about something that is important enough, or feel like I am having a total Mommy meltdown, chances are that you will read all of the juicy details. And equally, you will get the scoop on all of the great things that are happening and the things that make me feel like the most blessed person in the whole darn world! So if I haven’t rambled along too much in this first, most important ever blog post, and this sounds like something you might enjoy following, please jump on the bandwagon! Become a follower, grab a button, or just go to the url (http://bittsie.blogspot.com/) and check for updates. This WILL be a wild ride people, so buckle up!

MANDY