Saturday, January 30, 2010

Wintertime Picnic

News flash: The sun was shining in Oregon during the winter!

Believe it or not, on Thursday it wasn't raining and the kids were able to play outside. After playing a while they asked if they could have a picnic. Well, it may have been sunny but it was way too cold for a picnic. We decided to have a wintertime picnic indoors. They spread out the blanket and picked out some snacks: strawberries, pretzels, Chex cereal, and orange juice. It was a really fun activity that kept them busy for at least half an hour. Their friend Omar was over visiting with them so he got in on the winter picnic action too.

Emily loved having a picnic indoors. She said that everyone thinks picnics are best in the summer but winter picnics are better "because you don't get all sweaty in the heat." Very wise.

Mason ate about 10 big strawberries. I bought them at Costco earlier that day and they were perfectly sweet and ripe. The strawberries made it feel even more like summer in the middle of winter.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Help with our baby boy's name

I need your help! With less than 6 weeks until my due date, we still haven't decided on a name. Naming a child is one of the hardest decisions and a huge responsibility and I'm really struggling with what the right name is.

We have narrowed it down to a few favorites, although I keep thinking of other names that I like too.

Here are our top two choices for our baby boy's name right now:
Ryan Thomas
Jonathan Thomas

I also like some other names: Connor, Ethan, Braden, Charlie, Andrew.

The middle name will most likely either be Thomas or Michael.

Tell me what your favorite name is. I honestly don't have a favorite right now and I'm hoping that someone will convince me of what the right choice is.

Leave a comment below with your input. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What should we make for dinner tonight?

This conversation from earlier today came to mind when I saw the Big Words from Little Foodies post on a blog that I follow, Food With Kid Appeal. Jenna from Food With Kid Appeal asked for funny comments kids make about food and a recipe.

I was talking to the kids about their Grandma & Grandpa coming over for dinner tonight. I asked what we should have for dinner. We chatted about some ideas and then Mason had a suggestion. Here's how that went.

"What should we make for our dinner with Grandma Hallie & Grandpa Terry tonight?" I asked.

"Beedonna," was Mason's reply.

"What did you say? Beedonna?"

"Leedonda," he said a bit louder and slower.

"Leedonda? What's that?"

"No! I said Lee-zon-da!" he shouted, now feeling frustrated by his ignorant mother.

I pondered this for a minute and then it hit me - lasagna! "Oh, you want to make lasagna for dinner? Great idea!"

"Yessss!!!" he groaned with a look on his face that said: Duh, Mom, I just said that three times.

Don't you love conversations with a three year old? He did have a great dinner suggestion though. Here's my lasagna recipe. I usually double the sauce and save half to have with spaghetti another night. I got the idea to mix the meat like you would for meatballs from a show on the Food Network and it tastes great.

Lasagna (also known as Lee-zon-da)
1 package oven-ready Lasagna noodles
1/2 lb. ground lean turkey
1/2 lb. italian sausage (sometimes I use turkey sausage)
1/4 c. bread crumbs
16 oz. can stewed tomatoes
16 oz. can tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
dash salt & pepper
2 c. ricotta cheese
2 eggs
3/4 c. parmesan cheese
1 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese

Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ground turkey & sausage with one egg and breadcrumbs. Prepare the meat sauce by browning the meat mixture in a large skillet, crumbling it into bite size pieces. Drain any grease from the pan. Add garlic, 1/2 tsp. basil, 1/2 tsp. oregano and tomatoes. Stir together and simmer while preparing the remaining ingredients.
Mix ricotta, 1/2 c. parmesan, 1 egg, salt & pepper, 1/2 tsp. oregano, 1/2 tsp. basil in a large bowl. Then in a 13x9 baking dish spread a layer of meat sauce. Next place 3 pieces of pasta evenly in a flat layer and top the pasta with a layer of the cheese mixture, then meat sauce. Repeat layers two more times. For the final layer use the last 3 pieces of pasta and then top with meat sauce, mozzarella, and remaining parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for for 30 minutes. Then remove foil and bake and additional 15 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Valentine's Day craft

Emily was looking for something to do this afternoon so we got started on a craft project for Valentine's Day. Homemade gifts are great for kids - and not only because they don't have any money but also because they feel so proud of themselves when they give something special they have made to their friends and family.

Tissue Paper Flowers
10 sheets of tissue paper
1 pipe cleaner
Stack the tissue paper and cut a 4 inch circle through all ten layers. Then punch a hole in the center with a pencil. Place the end of the pipe cleaner in the hole and fold it over to hold it in place.

Begin with the top layer of tissue paper and scrunch up each layer around the center of the flower.

When all layers have been folded up and scrunched, smooth it out a bit to make it look like a flower. Enjoy!

Health insurance frustration

I feel like a statistic for the great health care debate. Whether you're a Republican or Democrat there's no denying that health insurance costs are going through the roof. For our family the cost just keeps going up and up and up every year. Our health insurance changed at the first of the year and so that means that even though I'm eight months pregnant I have to find a new doctor.

That wasn't a huge problem for me because I feel like the doctor plays a relatively small role in my pregnancy and delivery anyway. I mean, how much time does your doctor really spend with your when you're pregnant? You sit for 45 minutes in the waiting room, see the nurse for about 5 minutes, wait another 20 minutes in the doctor's office, and then you're graced with the doctor's presence for about 10 minutes (or less). Here's an example of a conversation with my doctor.

"Hello, Kim. How have you been feeling?" asks the doctor with a nice smile on her face.
"Oh, I've had a lot of headaches and I'm really tired, but besides that I'm fine," I answer.
"That sounds normal," she replies.
"Okay," I say.
"Is the baby moving a lot?" she asks me as she listens to the heartbeat.
"Yes," I answer.
"Okay, if you don't have any other questions then I'll see you next month," she says and then we say goodbye.

Well, that's definitely worth the over a thousand dollar bill I got in the mail the other day. NOT! I understand that if I had complications then I would have more interaction with the doctor and I'm very, very thankful that my pregnancy has been easy, but c'mon, what am I paying for?

The reason our bill is so high is because I had to switch doctors and so I was back billed for my prenatal care visits instead of having one global payment after my delivery. After talking to the genius at the insurance company and asking through my tears why I don't just have to pay my regular co-pay for the doctor's services, I found out that they charge more for pregnancy care than normal OB/GYN care. Arrgghhh! Frustration raged through my hormone filled body! So here we are stuck with a big medical bill and the baby hasn't even been born yet. We still have to pay for the rest of my prenatal care and hospital stay.

Thanks for "listening" to my gripe about health insurance. I know a lot of families can relate.

Twitter Moms

Twitter Moms: The Influential Moms Network

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Favorite Foodie Websites

If you're always on the look out for new recipe ideas and overall inspiration in the kitchen, here are some great online resources. These websites offer a ton of ideas and are pretty fun to check out.

Food Network I've got to admit that I'm a Food Network junkie. I go to their website to search for recipes all the time. They have some easy-to-use features when it comes to searching for recipes based on the ingredients you have and it's also fun to look up recipes from your favorite F.N. chefs.

Epicurious This website, which is partnered with Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines, boasts to that it has over 100,000 recipes.

Martha Stewart Love her or hate her, she has a beautiful website (of course) and lots of great recipes. I don't make her recipes as often as I do the Food Network recipes, but I like getting ideas from Martha anyway.

Chow This website is a fairly new find for me but it's an interesting one to check out. It has helpful tips and even a restaurant review section for cities all over the country. Click here for the Portland area restaurants.

Cooking For Your Family This is a chat room on (which is a great websites for parents) that I like to check out pretty often. Lots of parents share recipes ideas and ask questions about cooking.

All Recipes Overall a good resources for simple recipes for the everyday home cook.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy Birthday to Daddy!

Today is my dear husband's birthday so I had to give him a little shout out on the family fanatic blog.

This morning as the kids argued over who got to say happy birthday to daddy first, I thought about how much has changed since the first time I celebrated Mike's birthday with him nine years ago. Two (and half) kids and lots of responsibilities make the birthday parties a little less exciting than they were back then, but we still manage to enjoy ourselves and we're still celebrating together, which is all that matters in the long run. Most of all, I look forward to celebrating lots more birthdays together. We love you lots Daddy! Happy birthday!

Here's an ode to you on your special day:

Rose are red,
Violets are blue,
You're sure getting old,
But we still love you.

-With love from your family.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Recipe of the day: Chicken Marsala

One of my favorites! This is an absolutely delicious chicken marsala recipe that I got from my mom several years ago. I usually have everything on hand for it except for the Marsala wine and mushrooms so I just have to plan ahead a little bit to make this dinner that is fancy enough to serve to guests; and they'll never know just how simple it really is.

Chicken Marsala

4 chicken breasts
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1/2 c. chicken broth
1 1/2 c. marsala wine
4 tbs. butter
2 tbs. tomato paste
2 tbs. olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 c. flour
salt & pepper to taste

Directions: Heat olive oil with garlic cloves in a large saute pan. Remove garlic after oil is hot. In the meantime, coat chicken in seasoned flour, then brown in olive oil. Remove chicken to a platter and keep warm. Add mushrooms, chicken broth, marsala wine, tomato paste to saute pan, simmer for several minutes to reduce by half. Lower heat, then add butter and return chicken to pan; heat and serve.

This chicken is wonderful with any type of pasta. Just coat your pasta in some olive oil and use the marsala sauce for the pasta. A green salad and some garlic bread make a complete meal that the whole family will love.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Shopping with kids

Any parents reading this are probably already cringing.

Shopping with kids is never easy and in my infinite wisdom I decided that it would be FUN to take both of the kids to the mall on Friday night since Mike was working late. I had a plan all laid out for our shopping trip. Here's what I envisioned:
Arrive at the mall at 5:00, shop for a new purse at Macy's (thanks to my wonderful parents for the gift card) , check on the Macy's and Gymboree sales on kids clothes, then by 6:00 have dinner at the food court. I figured that we'd be home by 7:00pm. Yeah right!

Here's what really happened:
5:15 - Arrive at the mall.
5:25 - After about 3 minutes of looking at purses, Mason has to go potty.
5:35 - Finally find the Macy's bathroom. Then Emily is starving so we head to the food court.
6:00 - $25 dollars (yikes) later we have pizza & breadsticks for Emily, sub sandwich with extra veggies for Mason, Thai food for me.
6:03 - Emily wants to carry her own tray (big mistake) and proceeds to spill her drink on the floor. Clean up and wonder why I ever thought this was a good idea.
6:10 - Mason has to go potty AGAIN. Pack up all of our food, jackets, etc. and head to the bathroom.
6:20 - Sit down to eat dinner again.
6:35 - Dinner is finished. Pack up and finally hope to get some shopping done. Ride the glass elevator, the highlight of our evening.
6:45 - Stop at Gymboree, find a cute "Girls Rock" shirt that Emily loves.
6:47 - Mason has to use the bathroom AGAIN! Abandon ship at Gymboree and rush to the nearest restroom. Wonder if I was crazy when I planned this shopping trip.
7:00 - Head to Macy's, really irritated but determined to actually accomplish what I came for. Find some great deals in the children's department. Cute stuff for under $10! Then head over to look at purses again.
7:30 - Emily is exhausted and claims she can't walk anymore. (It is almost her bedtime so I shouldn't be irritated but I am anyway.)
7:35 - The kids knock over a display which lands on Mason's head. Crying ensues. I buy a purse as quickly as possible.
7:45 - Practically drag kids out of the mall.
8:05 - Arrive home and tell myself not to ever do this again.

What is it that they say about the best laid plans...?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Recipe of the day: Sugar Cookies

Favorite Sugar Cookies

2 ½ cups sifted flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs

Heat oven to 375. Sift together flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients, stirring to mix thoroughly. Chill one hour. Shape dough into 1-inch balls (or roll out and cut into shapes) and place 2 ½ inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Flatten dough balls by pressing with the bottom of a drinking glass coated with sugar (optional). Bake 8 minutes until golden brown.  Remove at once to racks to cool. Great with frosting.

Tip for soft cookies – don’t overbake!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Recipe of the day: Peanut butter S'mores

Warning: this is not a healthy kid's snack! But it's a yummy snack that Emily invented and loves to make by herself (with a little help from mom).

Peanut butter S'mores
2 Graham crackers
4 large Marshmallows
2 tbs. Peanut butter

Break each graham crackers into 4 small rectangles. Spread peanut butter on each graham cracker rectangle. Place a large marshmallow between two graham crackers. Using a microwave safe dish, heat the s'mores for 10 seconds. Heat for an additional 10 seconds if needed to make the marshmallows soft. Enjoy the sticky goodness with a glass of milk. Serves 2 little munchkins.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fish Tacos

I discovered that my family loved this recipe when I had some leftover fish and whipped up this meal. Emily, my picky-eater, likes the tacos with just the fish & cheese. To get the kids involved they can help bread the fish and assemble the tacos. The fish can be either baked or fried in vegetable oil depending how healthy you want to be that day. We like to top these fish tacos with a salsa & sour cream mixture but any type of salsa, especially a mango salsa is delicious. A great side dish is cornbread or mexican rice.

Fish Tacos
1 lb. white fish such as basa or cod
8 corn tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup flour
3 eggs, whisked
1 cup bread crumbs
salt & pepper
1 cup shredded lettuce
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut fish fillets into 1 inch cubes. Place the flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. Dredge the fish in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, then egg, then bread crumbs. Place the fish in flat layer on a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
In the meantime, warm a large skillet over medium heat. Place two corn tortillas in at a time and place a handful of shredded cheese on each tortilla. Allow tortilla to warm up and the cheese to melt. Once the fish is done, add it to the warmed tortillas and top with lettuce, onion, and tomatoes. Add any salsa of your choice to the top too.
Serves 4.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Mystery of the Blue Footprints

January 3, 2011: It is nearly the one year anniversary of my blog so I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the past year. 2010 was a year of change for me in many ways. My blog documented most of those changes and it fun for me to be able to look back at my writing from the past year. I wanted to honor my one year mark by re-posting one of my favorite first posts below. 

The Mystery of the Blue Footprints

As I was making lunch yesterday, unbeknownst to me, a mystery was brewing in my house. All was quiet around the house. That should have been my first clue that something was amiss.
As I was finishing up with lunch I called to the kids to get ready to eat. At that point I looked down into our family room and saw the evidence of some kind of foul play.
This is what I saw in the hallway.

The crime scene in the family room was even more terrible. Blue ink was everywhere! I used my expert mommy investigative skills to figure out the culprit was Mason. He had the blue feet to prove my suspicions. Not to mention his blue hands too.
Apparently while I thought Mason was playing with legos he was being "artistic" but his creativity went a bit too far. He found a blue stamp pad with some art supplies and decided that his hands and feet made the best stamps of all - unfortunately he didn't stamp on paper. He stamped all over the family room carpet and even the couch. Thank God that the geniuses who make art supplies for kids have come up with washable ink. It took quite a lot of scrubbing and a run with the carpet cleaner, but we eventually got all of the blue ink out of the carpet and off of the couch.
Two important mommy life lessons were learned in the solving of this mystery.
#1 Don't trust a quiet three year-old.
#2 Don't leave art supplies within said three year-old's reach.
All in a days work as Detective Mommy!

Participating in Mailbox Monday.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Breakfast in Bed!

What a great surprise this morning - my kids brought me breakfast in bed.
It was the cutest darn thing ever. About 8:00 (Mike let me sleep a little extra because I've got a cold) Emily carried her pink princess tray up to the bedroom loaded up with two slices of super buttery toast and a nice big glass of ice water. She was very proud of putting the butter on herself and of all the ice cubes in the glass. She kept asking me if the water was cold enough. It wasn't a gourmet breakfast but it was the best I've had in ages because it was made with love (ahhhh...). Then the kids climbed in bed with me, snuggled up and proceeded to eat most of the toast. After that they asked me to make them scrambled eggs and sausage (their favorite breakfast) so my relaxing time was over for the morning.
I am very proud of them, especially Emily since it was her idea, for being thoughtful and bringing me breakfast. Overall I have to say I'm one lucky mom. Hopefully the warm fuzzy feeling will last all day!

Friday, January 8, 2010

This is what my kids needed.

Life at 31 weeks pregnant

Where have the past 31 weeks gone? Everyone is saying, "Wow! You're pregnancy has gone by so fast!" and I think, "That's because you're not the pregnant one."
But actually it has gone by pretty darn quickly and except the first three months of morning sickness, which dragged on forever, the rest has been fairly pleasant too. Since this is my last pregnancy (my husband made me promise) I've been trying to enjoy it, but already having two kids and a teaching job keeps me a little too busy to think about much else for long. I'm now at the big round belly point in my pregnancy so I definitely think about this little guy every time I try to bend over, put my socks on, or roll over in bed. I often wonder about the women you see on those "I didn't know I was pregnant" shows. What else could this be? Too much pizza? A tumor? How couldn't you know you were pregnant?
I'm really starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel now though. Our baby boy will arrive in two months (or less) and I can't wait to see him. What will he look like? Emily and Mason are just about as opposite, in looks (brown hair & eyes, vs. blonde hair & blue eyes) and personalities (sensitive & creative vs. playful & rowdy), as siblings can get so I wonder what the third Hurd will turn out to be like.


Here's what came up with for our new baby. Ha!

(Note: The photo's not showing up now. I'll try again!)

Emily & Mason's Favorite Children's Books

Here are recommendations for children's books that Emily and Mason love. Some are classics that I remember from my childhood and some were new to me when we discovered them.

I Wish That I Had Duckfeet by Dr. Seuss
Pinkalicious by Victoria and Elizabeth Kann
Bob Books by Bobby Lynn Maslen
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Henry's Awful Mistake by Robert Quakenbush
Olivia and all of the related books, especially Olivia Helps With Christmas by Ian Falconer
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss

For a brief explanation of each book and links to find out more about them you can read this article: Favorite Children's Books.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Welcome to my crazy life!

As I've been contemplating some big upcoming changes: a new year, a third child, maternity leave, etc. I have decided to try my hand at blogging. Thanks for checking it out!
I plan to add lots of fun, insightful, and meaningful content to my blog...sigh...well, at least content that I think is cute and funny related to my kids.
There are tons of great parenting resources available online so I'm going to try to compile some of those on here too.
I'm looking forward to this new adventure!