Monday, August 31, 2009

Mimi Time!

We had a busy day yesterday! Not only did we run four loads of laundry and grocery shop, but we cleaned out our cars, cleaned the house, organized our bedroom and closet, and took stuff to Goodwill and back to people from whence it came. I took some time to fix a couple of items that needed to be repaired, print some pictures for some frames that I'd been neglecting and started the paintings of the family tree for Billa's nursery, which I have been putting off for some time. And to top it all off I made sugar cookies! All that activity sure took it's toll on us:

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Mama and Billa certainly enjoyed their "mimi" together. Now if only this could happen everyday...

Nighty night,

The Princess and the, Ball

I'd sworn up and down before Sybilla was born that I wasn't going to let my kids sleep in bed with me. My sleep was precious and I wasn't going to allow that kind of behaviour. Apparently I'm more of a pushover than I thought! And Sybilla knows it too, because lately she's been showing up on MY side of the bed. I'm usually too tired and too dazed to refuse and there has been more than one occasion where I wake up and marvel at the cleverness of my daughter for crawling into our bed all on her own, only to be told by my husband that I was the one who pulled her in. Sybilla usually doesn't come into our room until about 5:30 or so, which is only an hour before we get up, so it's really not THAT bad, although Michael might disagree with me when he receives a kick in the chest or face from a certain small person's foot.

When she comes to bed to us, she is typically accompanied by her "lovies," those everyday items that lend her comfort. Lately those items are her "bubba," her blankie, and her monkey George and while we always have bubba, we might not always get blankie or George. Last night however, we were not only joined by all three, but we had another guest as well:

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Yes, that green and white rubber ball has become one of Sybilla's favorite things to carry around and sometimes she goes to sleep with it. Last night when she came to bed with us, she brought it with her unbeknownst to us. This is how it happened:

[pitter patter pitter patter, pause]
"Mmmf, wha...?"
"Mama!" I see a little figure next to my bedside. I know what she wants.
"Oh, ok." [grunt groan, pull, lift, swing, PLOP, giggle] (the kid weighs thirty two try lifting that over your head while you're asleep in bed!)
I fiddle with the covers and get her situated in between us. The husband continues to sleep. [grumble grumble]
"Ba, mama, ba!"
"Ba! Ba!"
"Shh, Billa, put your coco down, go night night." (Coco is head, short for coconut)
"Ba! BA, MAMA!" Sybilla is insistent. Michael grumbles something not worth repeating in polite company.
"Night night baby." I say firmly, but she doesn't relent.
I roll over onto my back, determined to ignore her. Suddenly I am acutely aware of a sharp pressing sensation in my mid-lower back.
"What the...?"
I pull out the object from underneath me and realize it's her ball and the item in which she has been asking for. I place it in Billa's hand. [happy murmurs. suck suck suck snore]
I sigh. I snooze...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Anthony!

Our friend Anthony celebrated his 29th birthday yesterday!

As in past years, we gathered for an impromptu get together and had ourselves quite the man feast of ribs, hot wings, more ribs, beer and cake. There was corn on the cob somewhere amongst the spread, but given the amount of testosterone at the shindig, I think it went largely unnoticed. Men don't need veggies, grrr! My Dr. Pepper ribs came out ah-MAZE-ing, if I do say so myself. Those will definitely be made again and you can snag the recipe here!

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Not even a hint of green anywhere on this table!

I whipped up a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting for Anthony even though he said he didn't want a cake. I think he was very glad to have it anyway! Kellie and I had a little too much fun, um...decorating it.

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Here's Anthony, being a very good sport with his princess themed cake:

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The kids ran around in the backyard and had a grand time. The rain from the past couple of days actually made it bearable to be outside for once, which was a relief given the triple digit heat wave we've had for the past 3 months (I am NOT making that up BTW. In fact, we've broken the record now with a total of 67 days of temps above 100F). The neighbor's son just got his Halloween costume and insisted on wearing it. Too cute!

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Don't even ask me what's happening here because I couldn't tell you...but it doesn't look like it bodes well for Superman!

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Madeleine demonstrates her own Superman pose. Love the tats!

All in all, I'd say everyone had a great time. Happy 29th Anthony!

The Guerra Clan

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Recipe thuRsday: King Ranch Chicken

One of the items on our menu for this week is a particularly easy and yummy dish, King Ranch Chicken. There are oodles and oodles of variations on this Texan classic, but this one is the one we make. A lot of people wonder where the name came from and the best reason I've seen is that this is the Texan-ized version of Chicken a la King. And of course, this being Texas, somehow King Ranch got associated with it (even though they had nothing to do with it's invention) and it's now become King Ranch Chicken. Regardless of how it got it's name, KRC is one of the few casseroles I love to make and eat. This particular version is derived from a recipe my Mom got from a colleague's wife.

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King Ranch Chicken (the Guerra-Dillon version)
8-10 corn tortillas
1 shredded rotisserie chicken (or 3-4 chicken breasts boiled with Mexican seasonings)
1 can of Rotel tomatoes and chilies, drained
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 can of cream of chicken soup
3 cups of Mexican cheese, grated (or colby jack and pepper jack grated)
3 TBSP Gebhardt's chili powder
1/4 cup of chopped green onions
salt and pepper, as desired

1. Shred your chicken and grate your cheese, if you haven't done so already. Preheat the oven to 350F and spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray (you'll thank me later).
2. In a large bowl, combine the cans of soup and drained Rotel with the chili powder (add S&P here if you desire). Mix well.
3. Add in the chicken, green onions, and cheese (hold back just a little of the cheese for the top).
4. Tear up the tortillas into 1-2" pieces. You can lay them on a cutting board and use a pizza cut to cut them if you prefer. Mix them into the bowl too.
5. Pour the mixture into the greased casserole dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and cover the dish with foil.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, then remove the foil. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3-5 minutes to get a nice crispy top.

Something of note...I know some people might try and be economical and use whatever leftover chicken bits they have for this and that's fine. I do NOT recommend, however, using leftover BBQ chicken (or other very strongly flavored chicken). BBQ chicken is great and KRC is wonderful, but not together. It will taste like liquid smoke with a dash of cheese...not good eats as the great Alton Brown would say!

Bon appetit!

Monday, August 24, 2009

18 Month Wellcheck and PTO

What a day! Today was the first day of school for Austin, it was Billa's 18 month old wellcheck and Mama's day off. One of Michael's coworkers asked to trade days off with him at the last minute, so both of us enjoyed a lovely day of PTO together sans the baby most of the day.

We took Billa to daycare and then Michael and I headed home to have a nice leisurely breakfast of eggs, toast, and coffee. Seeing as how we're avid bibliophiles, we snagged the opportunity to read and just laze about. Then we took Sybilla to her well check and took her back to school, whereupon we then ate lunch, read some more, and then took a two hour nap before picking Sybilla back up from daycare. It was a lovely day off!

Sybilla's well check stats were:
Head: 48 cm - 75th to 90th percentile (big head!)
Height: 33 in - 75th to 90th percentile (she's now 2'9"!)
Weight: 32 lbs - 97th percentile+

And actually, when you look at her growth chart, her weight is actually WAY above the curve, but while that might seem overweight, if you saw how much Billa moves you wouldn't be worried. Which Dr. Patil isn't, thankfully. In fact, Billa showed off all of her tricks, like "jumping", her touchdown arms (football season here we come!) and she also showed what a skilled and clever climber she was, which really impressed the doc. She also showed off some great vocabulary skills and identified some bubbles in a picture and "read" a book, which she then told us "all done" when she closed the cover. Here are some pictures of her at the doctor's office:

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Billa's favorite thing to do at the doctor's office: look out the window from the exam room!

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Oooh...what's this? Something good to chew on?

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Oh wait, you have to do what with it?!

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Dr. Patil sure knows how to make us laugh!

One thing is for sure, we are extremely grateful for a healthy and happy baby! We got two shots today, one of them being the flu vaccine. We were told to check back on the pedi office website around October/November, since the current flu vaccine does NOT include the swine flu vaccine. That one isn't available yet and Dr. Patil told us she wasn't even sure if it was going to be formulated yet for kids that young. So if we don't end up getting the swine flu vaccine or have a sick visit, it'll be six more months before we see Dr. Patil again! [sniffle] It reminds us of how much she's grown.

Anyway, it's time for dinner; tune in later this week for Recipe thuRsday and some more Billa videos. We got some good ones of her in a bubble bath the other night :o)


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bonding with Daddy

This picture was actually taken a couple of weeks ago, but it still cracks me up each time I look at it! Daddy hadn't played with his Xbox in awhile and decided to take a break and play some Assassin's Creed. Billa is fascinated by anything with buttons lately, so he gave her one of the PS2 controllers to play with while he ran around medieval Jerusalem. Every once in awhile now, she'll find the controller and sit down on her little stool and start mashing buttons when the TV is on. I can't wait for when she's older and can be our Bookmaster*!

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Until next time,

*For you non-gamers...a "bookmaster" is that trusty sidekick you enlist while playing video games. They are your second pair of eyes who spot things you don't see, read instructions or dialog on the screen to you, or read aloud from the game book or Internet walkthrough with hints and tips on how to beat a certain level/boss/bad guy/puzzle.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Billa Videos!

I finally had some time to edit a few of our home videos, and guess what? You get two for the price of one!

Our first video features little Miss Monkey at snacktime. Listen closely near the end...she gives you the answer...

Our second video features Billa playing her favorite game, Peekaboo! We could play this for hours. I love the fact that she has to hold her arms out to side like jazz hands. Such a drama princess (because this queen is still alive, thankyouverymuch)!


Happy 18 months Sybilla!

Today Billa is officially 18 months old. Now Daddy can tell people she is "a year and a half old"...because she really is! The last 18 months have seen our little monkey grow tall and smart...and heavy! Just look at all the things she can do:

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Jumping Billa

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Silly Billa

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How can you resist this face?

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Mommy sure can’t!

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Lookit all this hair…

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I can brush it all on my own!

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Your turn Mommy!

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Say cheese!

Happy 18 months, sweet baby girl! We love you!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Recipe thuRsday: Greek Couscous Salad

While reading one of my fave blogs, I was inspired to share some favorite recipes of the Guerra household...but since there are so many, I'm going to make it a weekly feature. Today is Thursday which I always abbreviate as R. Back during my St. Edward's days, the class schedule was abbreviated the same way: M, T, W, R, F since Tuesday also beings with a T. So, without further ado, here is the first installation of Recipe thuRsday!

* * * * * *

Since summer is almost over and tomatoes and cucumbers are on sale, this week's recipe is Greek Couscous Salad. This recipe came from the book The Clean Eating Diet, by Tosca Reno. It's incredibly easy to make, very flavorful, and very healthy.

Greek Couscous Salad
1 cup whole wheat couscous (1 box)
3/4 cup chicken broth or stock
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 of a cucumber, diced and seeded
1/2 cup feta cheese
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
(the original recipe calls for chopped fresh oregano but it was too overwhelming, so we sometimes add it in dry)

1. Bring the broth and juice to a boil. Add the couscous and stir. Turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Remove the lid and fluff the grains with a fork. Add the chopped vegetables and feta cheese and toss.
3. You can make a dressing to go on it that is a mixture of 2 TBSP olive oil and 1TBSP lime juice. Whisk them together to form an emulsion and drizzle over the top of the salad.

This recipe makes about 6 servings and the nutritional info says each serving has about 230 calories, 8g fat, 7 g of protein, 222mg sodium (if you use low-sodium broth), 33g carbs, 6g dietary fiber, and 4g of sugar.

Bon appetit!


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Billa Babble: Poke, Get Up, Donkey, Cheese, and Mamon

We've now reached the stage of development in which it all just sort of falls into place. Where you wake up one morning and your kid slaps your husband on the rear end and says "Geh-uh, geh-uh, geh-uh!" before running to the kitchen to break her fast (and yes, she really did slap him on the rear end. And no, I have no idea where she picked that up. Really. Would I lie to you?) So here is this week's installation of Billa Babble for you!

POKE: This morning Billa was in a mischievous mood. The wee little sprite ran into our bathroom where Michael and I were chatting about business as usual. She stood behind Daddy and then started poking his leg and saying "Po! Po! Po! Po!" really fast. When he finally turned to look at her, she grinned from ear to ear and laughed hysterically as she ran out. It must be the red hair...

GET UP: As mentioned above. Billa climbed out of my arms in our bed and seeing that I was heading straight to the bathroom, she decided it was time to rouse the rest of the troops. I told Michael he'd gotten pwned and he had to agree. And again, I really have no idea where she got that!

DONKEY: Billa has a small board book about colors with pictures of real world objects and animals. One of them is donkey and she brought her book into the kitchen the other day, opened it to that page and then proudly exclaimed "Donkey!" while pointing to the creature on he page. A friend of ours think it would be HI-larious to get her to say "Jackass" instead, and while it's funny in theory, I really don't need to receive that phone call from school, thankyouverymuch.

CHEESE: Our favorite snack item in the house is cheese sticks, aka string cheese. This child loves string cheese and she usually has one for breakfast and for an after school snack. Hey, at least it's not candy, cookies, or cake, right? She does this silly happy dance when you give her one and she practically screams with delight. The word comes out more like "Chay" than "Cheese" but we're getting there!

And our first Spanish word, MAMON, which means pacifier. We were so confused when she would point to her paci and start saying 'Mama.' I mean, hey, I know, nipples and pacifiers are very similar things, but it's been such a long time since breastfeeding that I was wondering if this was some sort of regression. It wasn't until the daycare lady asked her where her "mamon" was that the light bulb went on. So now we have taken our first steps to being bilingual! Yay!

So there you have it!

Until next time,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Behold the fruits of summer!

I love tomatoes. Growing up on a small farm, every year my father would plant a large garden and a multitude of plant boxes. We had broccoli, carrots, potatoes, corn, green beans, even pumpkins one year when my brother decided it would be fun (not so fun afterall when they literally took over our back yard). And of course, tomatoes.

Dad would plant several of them and when they were at their peak, we’d be on the receiving end of anywhere from 10 to 30 pounds of the things! My brothers and I would run through the garden and snatch them off the vine and eat them like apples. It was like eating sunshine; sweet and tangy and warm.

It’s been years since I had the pleasure of eating a tomato straight off the vine, plucked at it’s plumpest and the flesh sprinkled with a dash of salt. I magically obtained two plants this year: a beefsteak from my mother and a persimmon variety for Earth Day from work. I set to work and planted them. And after much watering, tending, cursing, staking, fertilizing and the occasional replanting, I was finally granted the reward for my work.

The reason behind the occasional replanting

This, my friends, are the results of my hard work. Two tomatoes. I was hoping for more of a bumper crop but the heat of summer has taken its toll. Still, I am proud of my yield.

The bumper crop of 2009

My other plants are faring as well as can be as well. I have more oregano than I know what to do with and while my lemon tree took some abuse early in the year that prevented it from further blooming, it has grown lush and green. My persimmon tomato has yet to yield anything, but with any luck and a little tender loving care, I just might possibly get some tomatoes out of it yet.

While it cost me more to grow my own tomatoes, there is a certain sense of satisfaction and pride that comes with being able to see the fruits of one’s labor. With any luck, my lessons learned from this summer in planting will serve me well for next year and in the years to come when Sybilla is older and we can plant together.

Until next time,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Michelle!

Today is Auntie Michelle's birthday! Happy Birthday Michelle! We love you!

Michelle with Sybilla (5 months)
The Guerra Clan

Thursday, August 6, 2009

All's well that ends well...

I am happy to report that my dad is now at home, resting comfortably and on some new BP meds. The doc decided at the last minute to go ahead and discharge him; he will continue the meds given to him until he has a follow up appointment next week, in which case they will evaluate what he's on and make any adjustments. My dad has been having issues with his blood pressure being a bit high lately and it was this that caused the mini-stroke. We are very thankful that this was not more serious and that it is easily treatable at this point. Once he's recovered a bit more, his doctor will also work with him on a new diet and exercise regimen as well that will help to keep his BP low in addition to the meds.

Thanks to everyone for all of their prayers, well-wishes, and support. It means the world to me to know how loved I am and my family. A huge weight has been lifted from my heart and now that everything is fine, I finally feel like I can cry. So with that said, I have some catharsis I need to do...

"Those who don't know how to weep with their whole heart, don't know how to laugh either." --Golda Meir

Love to you all,

Good news and Bad news...

HOO BOY! What a day and it's just barely lunchtime!

My phone is now kaput. It decided to go in Hot Sync mode and then froze up. I tried to do a soft reset and then a hard reset and it decided to not come back on again. So off to the Verizon store I went. The technician wasn't in yet but when I described the problem to the gal at the counter she shook her head sadly and told me she had the same thing happen and there was no hope. GREAT. As if it weren't bad enough that my father is in currently sitting in the hospital from a mini-stroke, now I have no way to contact my folks until Michael gets home! Kinda makes me want to go back to a landline...

Anyway, the gal was so super sweet and even though my warranty had expired on July 26 (how's that for lucky, eh?) she and her manager overrode it and were able to save me from having to pay full price for a new phone not to mention they gave me some discounts too. The bad news is that my new phone has to be overnighted because they don't make the version of Palm Centro I have and the substitute phone model for it isn't in stock ANYWHERE in town. And I have also officially lost all of my data too. Bummer. the meantime I am watching my email like a hawk so that I don't miss out on any updates from my mom or my brothers on my dad. Who by the way, is still doing ok. His BP was 189 this morning and they gave him some meds to bring it down. They are running an MRI and a couple of other tests to see what else is going on and make sure there isn't any damage to heart or brain. Several people have asked me what they can do...the best thing right now is to keep offering up any prayers and well-wishes. They are greatly appreciated.

With all of that being said, please email me your phone numbers, your birthdays, and addresses so that I can update everything once I get my new phone tomorrow morning. I'll keep posting as I hear more about my dad. I don't know why this week has been so crazy and hectic, but what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. God has a reason for everything and while I have no fathomable idea as to why we're going through this, I have every bit of faith that the Old Pawdnuh is riding right alongside me.

Until later,

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What a day...

I'll keep this brief as I am now emotionally and physically exhausted beyond belief. My dad is in the hospital at the moment having suffered an episode of TIA, or Transient Ischemic Attack, which is to say, a mini stroke. A cat scan and xrays so far have shown no damage caused by it, and they will run tests again in the morning to be doubly sure, but it's still worrisome. My initial Google search on TIA's reveal that while they may be harmless now, they can be a precursor to the mother of all strokes. So with that said, it's certainly been one hell of a day, week, month, year so far.

I will post later as to how my Pop progresses but for now, all prayers, well-wishes, and small miracles are gladly welcome.

Good night,

What were you doing 7 years ago?

While searching for an email with a username and password to a website I haven't visited in awhile, I stumbled across this little gem. Seven years ago, I was sitting in an internet cafe in gay Paris, writing home to my friends and family and ruing the day I decided to travel with Lilliane. I had a great laugh over the note below and now I shall share it with you. Oh to be in Paris again...someday I'll get back there and show everything to my hubby and my daughter. Please don't mind the typos...the keyboards in Europe are VERY different!

A French keyboard...don't even get me started on what the German ones look like!

> well; everyone we made it to paris safe and sound and yet again these
> damn keyboards are all wonky: i can handle the y and the z
> ,is,atched but the a is where the q is; the z is where the w goes and
> the m now lives on the énd line: so again; if there are any typos;
> deal with it because i dont have time to figure this out. and the
> period is all weird too... anyhoo; we arrived yesterday morning from
> an overnight train from munich (which was very nice; wished i could
> have stayed longer) and had quite a time figuring out how to get from
> one station to our hostel; which was really an ok/nice hotel in a not
> so great neighborhood: so we spent our first day searching for new
> digs and found a great hostel that provides breakfast and free
> showers, not to mention only a couple of blocks away from the net
> cafe. so here i a, writing you all. its raining occassionally; esp.
> yesterday on our serch for new hostel. it is actually pretty chilly
> which is going to be hard getting used to considering how warm it has
> been the past couple of weeks; but not as bad as back home! man even
> the little grammar symbols are in weird places! the parisians have
> been quite nice so far, and no pickpockets; which is good. liilianne
> was being quite the brat this ,orning not wanting to lug her bags
> everywhere, but daddy trained his little girl well and unfortunately
> she ended up carrying ,ost of everything: which reminds me, mom, set
> me up an appointment with the accupuncturist for me upon my return
> home! the people have been nice in getting us oriented and set
> straight, and amazingly despite not having french for the past two
> and a half years i am getting along quite well!
> we go see the eiffel tower today, along with the musee dela mode et
> du costume, and la rue chaillot!!! whee!!! tomorrow we go to
> versailles and whatever else we want to. our hostel is two blocks
> fro, the louvre; four fro, le centre pompidou; and about è or _ fro,
> notre dame so well see those on monday. i am ready to end this
> adventure though that is for sure. europe has been quite lovely but
> i am homesick, i will admit, mostmy for tex mex and all my loved
> ones. i could care less about the language barrier or teh fact that
> water is not always free or ice cold (like a certain travzling
> companion) but hey, i dont mind a lot to begin with. i am dreading
> flying back home because its easier to leave home than come back in
> and also getting all our luggage to the airport will not be fun.
> lilli did not plan well and brought at 16 outfits, plmus blowdryer,
> curling iron; too much makeup and full size toiletries. i ciould
> kill her except i already gave her a piece of my min,d this morning
> when she whined about the stairs. i spent last night helping her
> repack so all the heavy things would go into her rolling suitcase
> (which is way easier to navigate than her duffel bag). i wish she
> would just sen dit home or stop bitching so that i can enjoy my stay
> without the whining. we thought about taking a taxi to the airport
> on our last night but its al,ost 90 € to get there by taxi, so by
> tram it is again. i plan on staying up all night at the airport so i
> can sleep on the plane and not listen to her! ; )
> anyhoo; things are much better now that we have moved and kelly has
> found an internet cafe. c'est bien! i am going to go now, but i
> will be home tuesday night at 4.40 pm.L thank god. i miss you all
> as usual and keep you in my thoughts and prayers always.

And there you have it. So...what were YOU doing 7 years ago?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sound Off: It's called work for a reason...

It's time for a sound off again, folks, and have I got a doozy for you!

I'm sure you will be just as angered by this gal as much as I am. Truly, this girl deserved more than a 2.7 GPA because she is a freaking genius, y'all. Her plan is brilliant. I can just hear the thoughts in her head: Man, this whole job hunting thing sucks. Why should I bother working at finding a job like the rest of my classmates when I can just file a lawsuit and get $72k to cover my loans and the "stress" I've endured? Sheer genius. Now why didn't I think of that!? Oh probably because it's the most idiotic idea in the world. Really, honey, you thought you would go to college, party a little bit, graduate, and then you would open that diploma holder to find a job waiting for you? Oy!

My favorite bit? The GPA issue...she's got a 2.7 and she's *supposedly* getting passed up for all the students with 4.0's. Heavens to Betsy, how could an employer do that!? Now it's been a few years since I graduated from college, but last time I checked, your GPA is determined by your grades, which are the result of how hard you work in school. So...logically speaking, if an employer had to choose between two candidates from the same school, with the same degree plan, the same resume, and the only difference was their GPA...well, call me a size queen if you have to, but the bigger number's gonna win. High GPA = Hard worker = $$$ for the company. Sorry, dearheart, but I don't think the GPA is the issue here, if you catch my drift.

No college is ever going to guarantee a job after graduation, and if you think you've found one, I have a beautiful ocean view property in Kansas I'd like to sell you. Sheesh. There are some folks who say that it's today's youth who have issues with entitlement, but truthfully, it's AMERICANS who have issues with entitlement. We believe that we're entitled to carry guns anywhere we want, speak our minds, and do whatever we please because we have a pretty piece of parchment that gives us the right to do all that and more. However, we've neglected to read the fine print on that piece of parchment. What fine print you ask? Well, the fine print that says we have to work for those things and make some sacrifices in order to enjoy them, of course.

For generations we've touted two cars in the driveway, 2.5 kids, a big fancy house, and a designer wardrobe as symbols of our success. Somewhere along the way someone figured out how to look successful without stealing and without having to work hard. And now that the shit has hit the fan, we've decided to blame everyone else for our problems, instead of acknowledging the source behind the issue. It's not the Republicans or the Democrats, or the Liberals, or even the President. It's our own damn faults we're in this predicament, and it's high time we all stopped pointing fingers at someone else and take responsibility for our actions. No one told us we HAD to buy more house than we could afford and no one told us we HAD to drive a super deluxe car. No one forced us to live the lives we live. We chose to turn a blind eye and sign on the dotted line.

If you've ever listened to someone who survived during the Depression or one of the World Wars when there was rationing, their markers for happiness were very simple: they were grateful to have a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, food in their bellies, and their family and friends nearby. And if they wanted something, they worked hard for it.

I don't want people to think that I'm anti-American; truly, I am extremely grateful for the freedoms and privileges I have--I wouldn't be writing this otherwise! It's just that I'm fed up with the politics and "ruling classes" of today and I think it's high time that we all do our part to try and reclaim the positive aspects of our culture. Like our generosity, our friendliness, our dedication to a cause, our optimism, and our work ethic. If you're surprised by that last one, don't be. Our nation was founded and built into what it was through the blood, sweat, and tears of our ancestors and just because we've entered the computer age doesn't mean we can stop using elbow grease and doing heavy lifting.

This article has reminded me that it's important to impart simplistic wisdom not just into my children, but also to myself. Since my husband and I have had to cut back on our spending, we've discovered that the things we considered necessities aren't so needed after all. We spend more time with our family and friends and play more with our daughter. We utilize what we've already got and turn it into something new. We've explored our talents and taken advantage of all the resources our taxpayer dollars pay for, like the library. We learned a long time ago that college education doesn't equal a paycheck; it's hard work that brings home the bacon.

Given the state of our current economy, I really hope that Ms. Thompson finds a job, but even more, I hope she learns this: that you get out of life what you put into it.

Here's to life worth living,

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cupcake Smackdown Update!!!


I had no idea! But sometimes, finding out later is the best thing ever :o) Here's a link to all of the details. I won for my Coconut Lime cupcakes with Lime Curd Buttercream. I decorated them with little mod birds made from fondant that nestled atop green swirls of the frosting. Now I seriously have to go bake some more and share the love with everyone!

And when I get a chance, maybe I will post my award winning recipe. Ha!!!


Sunday, Billa Babble, and More

Since we had a pretty busy weekend, I didn't make it to the grocery store until 10 pm last night and I only got enough things to last us for a day or two since I was so tired. I wouldn't have gone at all except there was no coffee, no coffee filters, no coffee creamer, and god forbid, no milk in the house to be had. Our little munchkin is quite the dairy fiend and having no milk would have been bad news bears indeed. I remembered last minute to grab some more cheese sticks and when I got home, I just threw the cold stuff in the fridge without thinking about it.

This morning Billa was with her daddy getting some milk when she saw the package of cheese sticks. I am not joking when I tell you that she loves these things, because as Michael tells it, "she went apesh*t when she saw them in the fridge!" She started jumping up and down and making her excited little monkey sounds, so Michael decided to give her a cheese stick for breakfast. Hey, at least it's not a donut! So she ate cheese stick to tide her over until she got to school and had second breakfast with her friends.

I'll share with you a random moment of Billa Babble: Sybilla decided that she wanted Daddy to read her a book before she and I left this morning, so while I was making my lunch, she and Michael were sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor reading from one of her books about colors. Just before we left, she opened the book and pointed to a picture on the page and shouted "Donkey!" I find this funny for two reasons: 1) she really was pointing to a donkey and 2) we watched Shrek and Shrek 2 at my parents house yesterday. I guess she watched more of the movie than I initially thought!

Anyhoo, she greatly enjoyed visiting her Mamo and Papa, who love to do all the things Mama and Daddy won't let her do, like: let her pig out on waffles and everything else, climb stairs, push buttons, play with power tools and get dirty in the garden. She was so excited by all of this mayhem that she didn't take a nap until almost 3 o'clock! I did manage to sew the curtains for her room and my mom finished the cute little footstool to match.

In other news, Mama and Daddy reclaimed a headboard that someone in our complex had thrown out. I've been admiring this headboard on a resident's balcony for the longest time and when I drove into the complex yesterday evening, I saw it and the matching footboard sitting next to the dumpster. I immediately dialed Michael, who measured our bed and then rushed out to meet me to measure the headboard while I stood guard over it. Perfect match and we carried it home, wiped it down, and Lysol'd it to make sure it was nice and clean. And it looks so gosh darn pretty.

But the best news yet? We FINALLY got our washer and dryer...YAY!!!! Now all we have to do is get a dryer vent and hook it all up. No more climbing up and down the stairs with the laundry, no more trips to people's homes once a week to do our laundry, no more digging through dirty laundry trying to decide what smells the least offensive when we haven't made it to do laundry yet. Huzzah! Now I'll drink to that...

Cheerio, mates!
Kelly & the Gang

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I got smacked...

Well, I did not come out victorious at the Cupcake Smackdown. I'm pretty bummed considering I really worked hard at perfecting my recipes and I was totally excited about the grand prize, which was an opportunity to have your recipe printed in a cookbook that benefited the Texas Food & Wine Foundation. I think what bums me out the most was that I think this would have been a great networking moment for me, but I wasn't able to take advantage of it because Michael was working and I had Sybilla with me and we missed most of it by staying at home until the end. Don't get me wrong, I love my daughter, but there's a reason employers make you leave your kids at home if you know what I mean.

My Choco-Cherry-Chili Cupcakes...pretty as can be with a cherry on top!

The contest was held at One 2 One bar down on Brazos and 5th and it was a very nice place, which happens to have a rooftop patio that is dog-friendly as was evidenced by all of the dogs there. Downstairs they had a bar shelf filled with all of the entrants for the contest, but I noticed that only one of my entries, my Coconut Lime cupcake, was actually on display. Both Michael and I looked at the lineup several times and we didn't see my Choco-Cherry-Chili cupcakes, so who knows, maybe I got an honorable mention and they just didn't tell me. It was a bit disorganized when we got there since people were leaving after the announcements so i only know that I did not win in the overall categories I entered.

For the birds: Coconut Lime cupcakes with birds made from fondant

All in all, I may not have been a winner, but I have two more recipes for my repertoire and I can't wait to enter another contest again! If anything, it's nice to be able to gift the fruits of my labors onto my friends and family and that's really why I do all of this: because it's my passion and I love to bring joy and happiness to the hearts of those I bake for.

And just because it IS a family blog, here is the little munchkin, doing her favorite thing: eating. Her new favorite snack is string cheese...she knows exactly where they are in the fridge too and always want me to open one for her. Bye bye Bananas, Helloooo Dairy!

What?! You didn't win, Mama? [snarf] It's ok. They have [snarf] no idea what they're [snarf] missing out on!

Until next time,


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