Friday, December 4, 2009

It's a very hearty soup

Batman and the girls aren't big soup eaters, so I don't make it very often. But today Houston had it's first snow day of the year (of the past five years, actually) and I figured soup would be a perfect dinner for such a gray and snowy day.

I've had this recipe for a while but had never made it before. I made a few changes (don't I always? that's why my baked goods never turn out) and it was fantastic--Special had thirds, and I don't think that has EVER happened for any meal. If you try it, let me know what you think.

Mexican Holiday Soup

1 cup minced onion
2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chili powder
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 can diced tomatoes
2-3 cups cooked, shredded chicken*

*I used boneless, skinless thighs that I'd seasoned with salt, pepper and a little Cajun seasoning while cooking.

Saute the onion in oil until tender; add chili powder and garlic. Add remaining soup ingredients and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

2/3 cup masa harina or cornmeal (I used the masa harina; it's much finer than cornmeal)
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp hot water
2 tsp oil
1 tsp lime juice

Combine dumpling ingredients; dough will be soft and slightly dry. Roll 1 tsp into a ball--mash it a little with your hands so it sticks together--and add to soup. Repeat with remaining dough. This sounded time-consuming, but it only took two or three minutes.

Simmer for 3 - 5 minutes, until dumplings float. Add a little lime juice to the soup and serve as-is or with a little cheese on top, and maybe some fresh cilantro if you like cilantro, which I do NOT.

The original recipe called for a can of drained garbanzo beans instead of chicken, and half as many dumplings. We don't like garbanzo beans, and we all wanted more dumplings, so I doubled the measurements here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I wouldn't even know where to begin

Well, the last time I tried to upload pictures here, my computer crashed. Two repairs, one new computer, and two birthdays later, I'm ready to try this blog thing again.
First, pictures of Number One's eleventh birthday:

new Penguin shirt!

Her party was at Pizza Fusion, our favorite pizza place, so I made the cake to look like a pizza. You do not want to know how much red food coloring I had to use.

Most of her presents were from Justice, her favorite store. After she opened presents, the girls got to decorate their own "pizzas"--big sugar cookies in small pizza boxes.

Then Special turned eight:

GrandBob offered to buy her dinner anywhere she wanted. She chose Jason's Deli. As you can see here, she was wild about her new Barbie head! We had another family dinner on her actual birthday at her other choice, Chick-Fil-A, and she had a sleepover party that weekend with two friends.

Halloween: zombie cheerleader and "Pajama Girl"
(her superpower: making a lame costume awesome)

And to round it out, here's a shot of Sweet Tea and her best playmate:

Monday, September 14, 2009

You gotta have faith

Last night Special was getting herself some ice cream for dessert. The carton was nearly empty, and as she scraped out the last bits she asked me, "You remember Jesus giving out the fish and bread?" (That, by the way, is her all-time favorite Bible story).

I said yes, I remembered. She said, "I hope God will do the same thing now and make some more ice cream in here." And then she commenced to praying. "Please, PLEASE, give me some more ice cream!"

Sadly, the ice cream did not multiply. "But wouldn't that have been funny?" she asked. I guess it never hurts to ask.

Monday, August 17, 2009

School's Out/Back to School

I think I've said the word "school" about a thousand times in the past week. I finally finished my MBA last Wednesday (perhaps you heard the shouting?), and Batman and the girls started back to school today, so between final projects and exams and supply-shopping and backpack-packing, it's been a school-focused week.

Six years ago Batman and I took Number One to her first day of kindergarten and then had to pull over to the side of the road because we were both sobbing too hard to drive. Today she started middle school, and although it wasn't quite as damp a morning, I still felt quivery inside.

Both girls had a great day, were thrilled to see their friends again, and came home so excited about the new year. I'm happy that I'll be able to focus on them a little more now that I have some "free" time.
But you just want to see pictures, don't you? Here you go, the first day of sixth and second grade:

Friday, July 31, 2009

Vacation, all I ever wanted

I really should be working, but it is Friday after all, and I've had two doughnuts (so far) plus an oatmeal breakfast cookie and two cups of tea, and my eyes no longer focus in the same direction. So it occured to me that I never posted vacation pictures here, and since this is supposed to be my family scrapbook because I'm so awful at making actual scrapbooks I needed to fix that immediately.

We spent a week in Flagstaff, Arizona, which was a nice little town and ended up being a great spot for day trips. The first full day we went to the Grand Canyon, which was huge and amazing and more than we could take in. On other days we went to Sedona (beautiful), we saw Indian ruins, and we hung out at the hotel pool, but the best day by far was the day we rented a boat and went out on Lake Powell. It was indescribably beautiful, and we would love more than anything to rent a houseboat and go back for a week. All together, it was the best vacation we've ever taken.

These pictures are from Batman's phone, and here is the link to my web album:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

We almost named her Soda

Last week, the girls spent eight days at "Camp Pop & Baba." On the weekend Batman, GrandBob and I picked up a small little bit of fluff in Fort Worth and then drove to Texarkana to get the girls and introduce them to Sweet Tea (named thusly because who doesn't love sweet tea?!). She is good at napping, is learning to go outside very well, and gets so excited to see each of us that we all feel we're her favorite. (But I know that she really likes me best.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I think I've made a huge mistake

Well, it wasn't that huge, but it was funny. Last night I made "Western Chicken", one of our favorite dishes. I pan-fried some chicken tenders, then took them out and made a sauce with sauteed onions, chicken broth, red wine vinegar and black pepper. I thought the broth looked a little cloudy but it had been in the fridge for a couple of weeks and I thought maybe I'd not shaken the carton very well. While we were eating, Batman said the sauce tasted awfully sweet, and I agreed but said maybe I'd not added enough vinegar.

When I was putting everything away after dinner, I decided to throw out the chicken broth, thinking maybe it was past it's prime. That's when I realized that it wasn't chicken broth. It was rice milk--VANILLA rice milk. No wonder it tasted sweet!

I'm making hot dogs, fries and frozen corn tonight--here's hoping I don't cook up that bag of Halloween candy from the freezer instead.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mother's Day was super-fantastic!

Mother's Day was a lovely day this year, sunny and warm, with few responsibilities. Well, okay, I had the same responsibilities as always, but I ignored most of them, because it was myyyyyy daaaaaay. My sweet little family gave me a new Bible--an archeological study Bible that I'd hinted at--a nice cover for it, a chocolate bar, and some mints from Chick-Fil-A. (Why the mints? I don't know, but I ate them anyway.)

We picked up lunch at Jason's Deli and took it over to my in-laws house, and had a nice, unhurried visit with them. The girls napped for most of the afternoon, and Batman and I planned our vacation (the Grand Canyon!). I spent the rest of the day reading ("Closing Time" by Joe Queenan, very dark but well-written). Of course I have no pictures of the day, but trust me when I say we all looked happy and beautiful.

Mother's Day and Valentine's Day are the two holidays that I think have the most pressure attached to them: store ads and the media are constantly offering "the perfect gift" and urging men to plan the "perfect" day, and the next day everyone wants to know what you got and how you celebrated and it's just not possible for reality to match expectation. That's why I LOVED this post by Manolo the Shoeblogger. He captures the typical Mother's Day in all it's reality--loving, precious, and the total opposite of a Kay Jewelry ad. Jayne Seymour may not have this type of Mother's Day, but the rest of us do. And it's perfect.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

She refuses to wear the ribbon

Every year the 5th grade has a science fair; it's a pretty big deal, sponsored by Exxon, and the kids work on it throughout the spring semester. After a lot of Googling and discussion, Number One decided to do hers on "what kitchen cleaner best kills raw chicken germs."

We did the experiment twice just to make sure our results were good, spent a lot of time on the research and notes, and we now know more than we ever wanted to know about salmonella. Batman came up with the title ("Eat More Chicken--Thoroughly Cooked") and called an acquaintance at Chick-Fil-A who provided lots of promotional materials for Number One to use on her display.

All her (our?) work paid off--she won second place in the "Life" category and got a shiny red ribbon!

It's currently hanging on her door, and I'm pretty sure it'll stay there until college. She's shown it to several visitors and possibly the yard guy as well. The only drawback to this whole project is that none of us have much of an appetite for chicken anymore. Let's just say that what grew in the petri dish, should stay in the petri dish.

(You're welcome for not posting THOSE pictures.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

No longer following the Way of the Rabbit

Special no longer believes in the Easter Bunny.

A giant rabbit, hopping magically through people's walls? Simply too far-fetched.

Instead, she told me that it's all done by Santa Claus.
He gets bored in the spring, and so he dresses up like the Easter Bunny to deliver candy and eggs.

She's not too far off the mark, you know.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I also found one of the cat posing on velvet

So I was in a reeeeaaallly boring meeting the other day (is there any other kind?) and started flipping through the pictures on my phone to pass the time. Apparently the small people in my house have been playing with it when I wasn't looking:

Self-portrait of the soon-to-be sixth grader. Graduation next month is going to kill me: "Local woman drowns in her own tears! Video at 11." Although if that one mom doesn't stop talking about how every event is the "last [Easter party, field trip, snack, etc.] they'll have as elementary students" I'm going to kill her first, and then I'll go to jail and won't even have to go to graduation. Mom, take pictures for me.

Note the cool circle decal in the background of the picture--they're all over the walls in their bathroom and look so cute, except for the three that are peeling off because "movable!" is a lie. I'm a huge fan of decals, because they look painted on without all the effort and fumes. The chandeliers on the wall in the living room fool everyone, and I'm about to order another one for the wall above the front door.

Back to the pictures:Self-portrait of The Whistler. She's got five missing teeth, all in the front, and has gotten quite rich off the Tooth Fairy.

Even the cat got into the act:

This one is titled "You Sicken Me; Now Get My Treats."

One of my co-workers took this one:

After I saw this I realized my forehead IS big enough for bangs! So I got my hair cut, and it looks totally different now: I've got all these layers hanging in my face all the time. (Name that Seinfeld episode!)

And because I've not posted a picture of Batman in a while, here he is in Lebanon last Christmas dressed in a record number of Penguin items (12, if I remember correctly):

Doesn't he look hip? Or maybe just obsessed? I swear he'd go to work for Penguin in a second if they had a store in Houston.

I'm so glad my boss got me an iPhone so I could be more productive! Wish I knew what we decided in that meeting, though.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Physically, physically, physically fit

Every year the girls' school hosts a PE show, a chance for all the students to show off the skills they've learned. It's the biggest show of the year at the elementary campus, and this year's theme was the circus. Number One's class learned how to roller blade, and Special's class had a hula hoop war. I'm so proud of my girls and their mad skillz!

Note: because these show other kids from the school, they're password-protected, and the password is Batman's real name. Enjoy!

PE Show #1 March 26, 2009 on Vimeo.

PE Show #2 March 26, 2009 on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

We are the champions, my friend

The past few months have been so busy for us that we've barely had time to take a breath. Weeks slip past in a blur of work and school and responsibilities, and we rarely feel like we have time to do anything fun. But this weekend we deliberately put our work aside and decided to enjoy ourselves.

The high school boys' soccer team played in the state finals today in San Antonio, and Batman didn't want to miss it. I decided that work could take a backseat for an afternoon, and took most of yesterday off; the girls played hooky with me, Batman came home early, and we drove up in time for a quick dinner before last night's game.

Though we were in sight of a Chipotle and a restaurant advertising "Best Enchiladas--2008," we chose the place with a sign reading "Free Sopapillas!" The chips were greasy, the salsa was too spicy even for Batman, but the food was so good Batman and I inhaled it. And the sopapillas were both free and fresh--I'd not had sopapillas since Batman's grandfather Poppy took us to Pancho's some 19 years ago. They were just as yummy as I remembered.

The boys won their game Friday night which happened to be against their most bitter rivals, adding an extra measure of victory to the 1-0 finish. It was cold and windy, but was such an exciting game none of us cared!

The four of us spent the night in our favorite hotel in San Antonio, the Menger Hotel. Our room overlooked the Alamo, and although it was too chilly to spend time in the gardens and we didn't see the chambermaid ghost that sometimes walks the halls, Number One did take all the lotions and shampoos, so I guess we still came out ahead. We ordered up room service for breakfast as a special treat--the girls' first room service experience--and Batman said their huevos rancheros were excellent. The girls had scrambled eggs and hashbrowns. I do not do large meals so early, and had my usual cereal bar. Special K chocolatey drizzle bars, I wish I could quit you.

This morning we headed to the Guinness Book of World Records Museum, and while I will admit that it was completely overpriced, we all enjoyed seeing the exhibits. We practically had the place to ourselves, and the girls took advantage of that by playing the drum exhibit over and over and over and over and over trying to beat the world record for most drum beats in a minute. Sadly, they were unsuccessful.

After a quick snack we headed to the soccer game, which we were told would be at Frank Matta Stadium. I put that information into my iPhone and it pulled up directions--only 12 minutes from our hotel, or so we thought. Google Maps apparently thought I'd typed Frank Matta Crack House, because we ended up in a VERY questionable neighborhood bordering an empty lot. "I don't think this is it," I said perceptively. We pulled into an Econolodge and asked for directions, but the man at the desk was no match for my Google skills--he was still trying to find it online while I pulled up Google on Safari, entered Frank Matta Stadium, and figured out we were supposed to be at Mata Memorial Stadium on the other side of town. I had the directions up before the poor guy even found the internet, I think. We will not discuss the fact that this Google business is what I should have done before we left our hotel.

At any rate, by the time we got to the game it was halftime and we were winning 4-0. We didn't score again but neither did they, and so our school is the proud owner of a lovely trophy and the title of state champs. The boys played extremely well, and it was so fun to watch their joy and excitement!

We stopped for a late lunch at The Cove, a little spot I'd found on the Food Network website as once featured on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." It was indeed a dive, but one featuring grass-fed beef and organic sweet potato fries. I had their "famous" fish tacos which were only okay, but Batman and Number One each had a burger, and they were FANTASTIC. Special had the chicken fingers and they must have been good--she ate every bite and refused to share. Batman had jalepeno-carrot cake for dessert and said it was terrific; I do not waste calories on desserts that don't contain chocolate, so I just took his word for it.

We've been home for a little while now, enough time to unpack and eat a light dinner, but we're already planning where to go for another fun mini-trip. Work and school and other responsibilities will always be pressing, but we can't let that get in the way of a little fun every now and then.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Link for Prayer

We were recently introduced to a young couple in the southeast part of town who are really struggling right now, and need many prayers. The husband, Brad, has cancer and is under hospice care. They are praying desperately that God will heal him. Please add them to your prayer list:

Monday, February 9, 2009

We're all germophobes now

Today's post is again written by Special. She was out sick almost all last week with the creeping crud that's been making its way around town, and it apparently affected her deeply:

"I was sick for 4 days. I was very sad. I had to do lots of work. I mist my frands. I saw them on Friday. When I came back it was Donuts with Dad [a special breakfast at school]. I din't eat it all. I was very happy to see my frands. And my teacher. I felt better. Lots of people were sick. My sister was being very nice to me. My mommy and my daddy were being very very very nice to me. I love them and they love me! I am so happy that I am at school!

"The End."

We're so glad that the little critter is back to normal! Fingers crossed that no one else catches it . . .

Saturday, January 31, 2009


When our doorbell rang at 2:00 this morning, it took me a minute to decide if I'd dreamed it or not. After I convinced myself that I'd really heard it, it took another minute for me to figure out that a burgler wouldn't have rung the doorbell. I realized it could be a neighbor needing help, and got up to check.

When I peeked out the front window, it took yet another minute for me to realize what had happened. It all looked so ghostly in the streetlights, and my brain couldn't figure out what I was seeing. By that time, the perps (or twerps?) were long gone.

My brain had woken up enough at that point to remember the sprinkler system, and I went to the garage to turn off the timer. I had no intention of cleaning it all up right away, and knew that the sprinklers would turn our TP wonderland into a soggy nightmare. I went back to bed chuckling, and dreamed of Charmin.

As we cleaned it up this morning I told Batman that really, it's cosmic payback. Who knows how many yards I rolled as a teenager--I lost count long ago--and cleaning up dry toilet paper on a sunny Saturday morning is a small price to pay in return.

But I don't want them to do it again.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Well, it's about time

What have we been doing around here? Let me share, with a little help from Special. She's been keeping notes on my phone, and they're too good to keep to myself.
On December 18 Special was in a Christmas program at school:

"I had a program in December 18 2008. It was called A place in the Chrismas Choir. I was an elf. And There was 5 dogs. I hade Fun." (Yes, she spelled "choir" correctly.) (Genius!)

The next day, we got a sprinkling of the winter white stuff, and here's what she wrote: "It snowed at Texas, it was so cool." (It was cool indeed, unless you were driving in it.)

A few days later we left to go see Pop and Baba for Christmas. It was a long, long drive, but completely worth it. Special had this to say: "We want to Tenasse in 21.2008. At 11 O Clock we were thar. The next day we got to deckrate the Chrismas tree it was cool and are casins were thar we had fun." (Okay, the spelling there was not so great, but she got the Tennessee accent right anyway--we definitely had fun "thar.")

Christmas dinner with the casins, I mean cousins.

Number One had a big accomplishment last weekend: she ran a 3K! She finished in 25 minutes, and was quite proud of herself.

For my birthday last weekend we tried a new pizza place near our house called Pizza Fusion. They have soy cheese, so it's our new favorite--plus their breadsticks are little bites of heaven.

With bellies full of pizza and root beer

More pictures are posted here:

And since I've started a new semester of school and work is still busy, expect Special to be taking over this blog completely any day now. In fact, let me see if she has anything else to add here:

"Jumpy is weird. He licks his but. He is only 4 years old. I am 7."

"What I lick is nobody's business but my own."