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Easing into Autumn

27 Sep

I am going to start by repeating what a gazillion others have already said “I LOVE Fall!” and I love the other seasons too (summer being my least favorite) but I really look forward to everything the fall has to offer. Pumpkin flavored everything, cooler temperatures, the leaves changing, and how the light looks this time of year – it’s great.  Oh, and football, how could I forget football.  Anyway, with the temperature dipping slightly last week I got a huge craving for tortilla soup.  I asked my friends if they could share a recipe with me because although I think I cook pretty well I am not very good at making soups.  I can never get the base just right. However,  I happened to make two batches of my soup and I think I found my personal recipe and I would like to share it with you.

Kelly’s Tortilla Soup

1/2 Rotisserie chicken pulled off the bone or a package of boneless chicken legs (my favorite)

5 cups chicken broth or stock

1/2 white onion, diced

1 can of Ro Tel

2 jalapeno, diced and keep the seeds of one to add to the pot

1 Can Black Beans (I made fresh so it was about 1 and 1/2 cups)

1 Can Corn

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp Cumin

For toppings I had tortilla chips diced avocado and cilantro.

1. Dice onion very fine and caramalize in pan with a little oil of your choice.

2. If you have raw chicken brown it with the onions but do not cook.  I firmly believe in browning chicken before adding to soup, it really does taste much better this way but if you are short for time just omit this step.

3. After your chicken is browned add it and the rest of your ingredients to either a crock pot or soup pot.

4. Turn your crock pot on low for 4-6 hours, before serving shred the chicken a little more and add any additional toppings.

As you can tell from the recipe, I love spicy food so you may have to play with how much heat you want from the jalapeno.  I wish I had a nice picture of my soup bowl with diced avocado and cilantro but I couldn’t wait to dig in.  Perhaps next week when I make this again (yes, third time in a row) I will take a quick picture.

I am also on the lookout for some really good bean soups using either white beans or black beans.  I want to start eating lentils for the health benefits and I want food that will keep me satisfied for long periods.

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We survived!!!

18 Sep

I am here to report that operation twin-infant camping trip was a success!

I was worried on the morning of our departure that it was going to be too chilly. My fears were intensified when I reached our destination and it was still chilly and cloudy. I had nagging thoughts in the back of my head that told me maybe I should leave and save this for another time. No. I soldiered on. And I am glad I did. The biggest thing I was scared of – unhappy babies in the middle of the night – turned out not being a problem at all. I didn’t sleep well but it was not because of the girls, my own unfounded worry kept up me most of the night. So how did all my gear hold up?

Pack and Play – did not use, we ended up clearing out the back of my Jeep, folding all the seats down and the girls and I slept in there. I was concerned about the tempurature going into the 40’s. It did, and we were all fine.

Beco Baby Carriers – WONDERFUL, well worth the purchase price even though I got mine second hand. I got a lot of second looks hiking around camp with a baby on my front and a baby on my back. I didn’t want to mess with having them nap in the tent and I knew they would sleep while I walked. Worked like a charm. Babies got sleep, I got exercise, we kept each other warm. Plus, plus, plus. The carriers worked well in the evening too before they went to sleep. The babies are pretty consistent with bedtime between 6 pm and 7 pm. Obviously, they were not going to sleep without me, so a friend and I wore them while they slept, and when I was ready all of us went to bed at the same time. Perfect.

JJ Cole Bundleme – used as a pillow for me, because I forgot mine. It was nice to have the option but I found it wasn’t necessary for us.

Old Navy Fleece Suits – LOVE. They were the cutest things I ever saw in the woods. Adorable and kept them toasty warm. I am looking forward to using those suits more this fall. I can also use them in the winter if I want to walk my dog and have them in the stroller.

Our overnight camping trip was a huge success. They were happy the whole time and did great in different surroundings. I am looking forward to next year because we will be going a lot more often. I think our first trip will be June. I almost want to get more of those suits for next year because even camping in June can get a little chilly in the mountains.

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I must be crazy. Or I love camping that much.

14 Sep

My husband and I are pretty seasoned tent campers.  For years we would make 4 or 5 camping trips a year, from April to October.  Tomorrow I am planning on taking our baby girls who will be 7 months, or 35 weeks, to be exact.

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I have been debating whether to go overnight for weeks but officially decided three days ago that I was going to make the plunge and actually go for it.  Reason being, I took them out there for the day back in June.  It was a little rough at times but mostly, I think, due to the heat.   I really wanted to stay because I enjoy spending time with my friends.  The drive back SUCKED.  I drove an hour through Virginia with no problems, as soon as I crossed the Maryland line they woke up, screaming.  I was on I-495 looking for a place to pull over, not easy.  Even though I pulled over and fed them, they still cried the whole way home, which was another hour.

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Now that they are a little older, other people can actually hold them and play with them.  Free babysitting for me!  I have the pack and play ready for naps and hopefully for bedtime.  I don’t like co-sleeping, the twincesses have taken my “night abuse” trait as my husband calls it.  They kick me all night and wiggle and don’t sleep well.  We are still breastfeeding, so I don’t have to worry about bottles and formula.  Packaged sqooshie thingys will cover the solid food part that we are doing.  I have two (actually four) awesome baby carriers – a Beco Gemini and Beco Butterfly – that will be awesome for carting my twosome around when we go hiking or just for being around the campsite.

The thing that still scares me, but not horribly, is the overnight part.  The girls are not sleeping through the night yet, they still wake up for at least 2 feedings a night, and sometimes they wake up more than that just for comfort.  I realized, it will be hard to be much worse than it already has at night – I pray I don’t eat those words tomorrow night!  So, I did a lot of brainstorming.  I am going to layer these babies up in their night-clothes.  Age/size appropriate PJs, under 12 month fleece PJs, under an Old Navy fleece suit.  I am so excited Old Navy sells those! It has covered hands and mittens and a hood! If they are still cold, I am going to use the JJ Cole  Bundle Me as little sleeping bags, and I am bringing every blanket in our house.

Oh, and bringing Murphy, our beloved Weimaraner.  Gotta bring him too.  Our dog is such a great pup.  On one camping occasion, Murphy and I were hiking around these little lakes at the campsite.  I had a frisbee that floated so I started tossing it into the water.  Poor Murphy is a horrible swimmer, he has to touch the bottom with his back legs while his front legs smack the waters surface, he looks so weird, but I guess because he is so muscular he doesn’t float so swimming is not his strength.  Because he is of the pointer breed, one time I threw the frisbee and it floated out into the middle of this lake, I called Murphy to me but he was going after the frisbee, on a mission!  That dog went completely under water when it got too deep for him to touch the bottom, I started taking my shoes off to go save him!  Well him came back up to shallow ground – but  because he was on a mission he went out again!  I couldn’t stop him from getting the frisbee.  That was the last time I did that, I didn’t want to push our luck.  I don’t know why it’s a fond memory – I have so many with my dog.  I am looking forward to making those memories with my daughters.  So good or bad at least I will have something to say about our weekend.

Wish me lots and lots luck!!!

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How a booger nearly ended my marriage

6 Sep

So, the twincesses are nearly 8 months now, and either they are sleeping better or I am ignoring them when they make sounds now. I had to get up the the middle of the night for some juice because I knew my blood sugar was low, I wasn’t sure if the babies were on or around me because I think I was dreaming how they were sleeping with me, I kept patting myself and the surrounding area so I would drop one on the floor on the way up. You see, now that I sleep, I actually wake up in the middle of dreams.

Anyways, the twincesses had the normal and highly feared four month sleep regression which started in May. This included waking up at 2 AM and babbling for 2 hours, then screaming for food. Eventually it got worse and they made bi-hourly or hourly Mommy wake-up calls. I think one night, I had an all time high of getting up at least 20 times, I stopped counting and looking at the clock around three months. It gets really depressing when you think your babes slept so well because it must be 4 AM. When you look at your iPhone, you cry inside, because it’s only 11:30 PM. On average, I must have woken up to tend to the babes at least 10 times a night. It was getting really old. You have no idea how sleep deprived I was, I covered it up really well with good concealer and lots of coffee, and chocolate cupcakes.

My husband knew better though, no amount of cupcakes cures craziness by sleep deprivation. One night, we gently rocked the babies to sleep, put them in their cribs ever so softly, so they would not wake up, and we tip-toed out of the nursery. Usually, the first half of the night was uneventful. We probably watched netflix. Babies have radar, though. They have a 6th sense of when you are going to bed. Our heads hit the pillow, and just when we are about to hit sleep – “wahhhhhhhh!” This time, both of them were up, I always prayed only one would wake up, it was so much harder to nurse them at night together, and harder to place them softly in bed one handed. I proceeded to nurse the little babes back to sleep. My husband came to help me put them back but K had a booger, that made her nose whistle. I feel kind of bad for saying this – but I did not care. The girls have had whistling noses a few times and I never did anything about it. My husband, though, is a wonderful and doting father. He is wonderful, and our babies are definitely daddy’s girls.

My husband takes a hold of K and whispers “where are the nasal aspirators?” We had at least 6 of them, half of them unopened, from the hospital. “I don’t know” I answer with hand gestures because I want him to drop it. But he doesn’t. He searches the room in the dark, checking under the changing table, checking on top of the dresser and eventually going into the bathroom to check every nook and cranny in there; all the while making every possible noise to wake the babies up. His search continues to outside the room. Every minute his search continues for the stinking nasal aspirators, I get more angry and annoyed. Eventually, we both end up yelling about where the nasal aspirators are. My husband saying I have no organization and me telling him they are where I said they were under the sink (which they were). He finally found an aspirator and proceeded to suck a booger out of K’s nose.

Me: Really?!

Hubs: She was choking on her booger! She couldn’t breathe!

At this point, both babies are wide awake. We were not at the point yet where they would go back to sleep on their own. So we attempted to rock and sway back to sleep. The babies were not having it. I gave up, in exasperation, I said “F this, I am up for the day!” I turned on all the lights, it was only midnight. I sat around, in my pissed off mood and thought about what he said and realized that I have never heard of anyone choking or dying from a large booger. It pissed me off even more. Eventually the babies did go back to sleep – 2 hours later, it wasn’t as pretty or as peaceful as when they first went to bed but we did the best we could. That is when it pretty much hit home that my tolerance meter was at zero, I made a fight about a booger.

Luckily, because I have a wonderful hubby, he forgave me for treating him so badly that night. But I still get a laugh when I hear my husband “she was choking on a booger!” The moral of the story, get sleep, anyway you can, or you might get divorced over something small – like a booger.

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In-Home Movie Night

5 Sep

I have no desire to go to movie theaters anymore.  Since I do not get a lot of time without the babies the last place I want to spend 2 hours is sitting in a dark theater.  My husband is a such a die-hard movie fan/buff, I know it pains him but next year I could change my mind.

Last night we turned on Netflix and we selected “Machine Gun Preacher” starring Gerard Butler (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1586752/).  First off, I had no idea what it was about, or that it was based on a true store, all that mattered to me was it had 4.5 star rating by viewers.  It started out with a guy who is horribly deep into drugs and the depressing lifestyle that goes along with heroin addiction.  As if by magic, he is saved by the Lord, and turns his life around.  His path eventually leads him to develop his own business, build a church and an orphanage in a war zone in Sudan.  It seems like such an impossible story, but when I was watching it, it was hard to ignore that this man really has been touched by God.  Is he led by God, too?  I am not sure, but he has gone to great lengths to keep his cause going.

When the movie was over, I was thinking about how horrible people can be (in reference to the civil war in Sudan).  Are you really a person if you can mutilate others? Are you really a person if you have no second thoughts about harming innocent, and unprotected, women and children?  It really made me feel guilty for getting upset about the small things that I can get so easily wrapped up in when all I think about is my life inside my little bubble.  When the movie was over, I started a rampage in my bathroom, I am getting rid of everything I don’t use in here!!! The pain I had from watching some the scenes from the movie reinforced that I don’t need anything except God, my family and a roof over my head.

It is sad that there are people in far-away countries that fear for their lives every day. It’s not natural to live with fear every day.  I can only pray that unrest that exists in other parts of the world finally ends.  But, not to get all political, the problems that are in Syria are so intertwined and complicated that no even knows why they are fighting anymore.

Even though I don’t agree with a lot of things happening in our Government, I am so happy and blessed to be an American and living in the USA.  I hope that my children can grow up happy the way I have and that we won’t ever know what it feels like to have a war in our back yard.

http://www.machinegunpreacher.org/

Daily Prompt: I Am a Rock

4 Sep

Daily Prompt: I Am a Rock.

As I was looking at todays daily prompt, it resonated with me because one of my problems is asking for help (I guess you could call it a problem?).

Maybe, it all boils down to one thing – communication.  I am not the best at it, although my husband has helped me greatly in that area.  Pre-children when I was working full-time as a PTA, I was cranking out treating patients, at least two per hour.  Of course we had several highschool kids that were our Aides.  Basically, their job was to make us (the therapists) look good.  The therapists treat the patients while the Aides operate like a well-oiled machine and predict our every move.  Patient arrived? Oh let me set up on heat and stim.  Is the therapist finished with that patients treatment? Let me grab an ice pack.  Does that patient need help with their exercises? Let me grab a weight for them.  Those kind of things seem pretty intuitive, but to a kid in high-school who is checking their phone every five minutes in the bathroom, or leaning on a treatment table not really doing anything to help the therapists look good, it would piss me off.  So, in my effort to be professional and not lose it with some of these kids in front of patients I would end up doing their work too.  Sometimes, it took more effort to direct the Aides to do something, baby-sit them to make sure it was done correctly, than to just do the dang thing myself.

One time, we had an Aide that literally walked around the treatment area in circles. I am not lying when she walked around in circles trying to pretend that she was working.  We, of course, had to chat with her about all the time she spent leaning up against a table.  Because I was catching on to her new strategy, I asked her to please keep track of Mr. So and So’s exercises for me.  “OK” she replies, continues walking around the room, and never once documented anything, she took more effort to pretend she was being useful than actually being useful. Aghh, and she wasn’t being defiant either, she just had no initiative or brains therefore she sucked at her job.  It took so much effort to keep on an eye on her I wondered why we kept her on board at all.

Asking for help will probably always be struggle for me, maybe it’s my pride or my ability to articulate what I need.  I will say, that when help is offered, I take them up the assistance now.  It makes the giver feel good which is a benefit for me as much as for them.  People who love you need to feel needed as much as I need to be strong.  Just because I accept help does not make me any weaker.  This really hit home when I realized I looked ridiculous trying to manage two infant car seats while carrying in a few groceries.  It’s not demeaning to accept help, Kelly! Slaps head.  Thank God my neighbor ignored me when I said “no, I’m alright.”

Ever since then, I have been accepting more and more help from others, although I am not perfect. It will take time, and working on communication, probably for the rest of my life before these little things are mastered.

Daily Prompt: Blogger With a Cause 4 Wheel 2 Heal

3 Sep

Daily Prompt: Blogger With a Cause.

If I could completely throw myself into a cause it would be my husbands non-profit organization, or NPO, 4 Wheel 2 Heal (http://www.4w2h.org).  Their mission is to take wounded and disabled, American, Veterans out in off-roading and camping excursions. Great, you say, maybe not very impressed however in my experience the camping and off-roading trips help tremendously with healing men injured in the war.

Most of the injured Vets I have met are Marines.  You think of a Marine being the toughest of the tough.  They go anywhere and will do anything to complete their mission.  They are fearless, strong, skilled and intimidating.  If you take that same Marine  and he gets injured in an explosion and ends up missing a1014013_10151513856851161_1456575499_n

limb, or two, or even three; it’s like his identity has become injured too. The activities these men used to do pre-injury like camping, hunting, hiking, now seem like activities that they will never do again. (Picture Keith Gillan Photography 2013, my husbands heavily modified  Jeep Cherokee being driven by a Warrior at the PA All Breeds Jeep Show)

When my husband and his buddies take these men out, you can almost see them change over a weekend.  Things that seemed like they could never do, are things that are mastered once again.  It is the most inspiring thing to witness – especially when you see it happen in front of you.  Every single veteran they have taken out has had a blast.  They take them out make it an experience they will never forget.

Back to original question.  If I could do anything for my husbands NPO, it would be to assist with marketing and with camping/volunteer duties.  One of my husbands downfalls is he tries to do it all – then he doesn’t get to enjoy all the work that he has done.  Helping him with those things would relieve a lot of the pressure he has to keep 4 Wheel 2 Heal going; however, because of the twins, I do not get a lot of extra time – or rather have enough time to do it all.  My husband also has a unique gift, he can strike up a conversation with anyone, and people really remember him and love him.  I wish I had his gift, I am a lot more quiet than he is.  We have not gone camping with the girls yet, hopefully they will get the chance in a few weeks – but again, I have to care for them and I won’t be able to devote time to volunteering for the organization.  Hopefully, 4 Wheel 2 Wheel continues to grow and when the babies get older I will be able to assist more.  Check out their Facebook page and website to see all the cool stuff they have been able to do. Existing for such a short period, the guys have made great strides and I know they will continue to help wounded heroes.