Wednesday, December 8, 2010

3 Candles on my Cake! 3 Wishes that I Make!

Unbelievably amazed at how much Holly has grown and learned in the past year! One morning, she pointed a flashlight at Anna, and remarked "Well, well. What do we have here?" Holly learns lighting fast and remembers everything. Even the Christmas parade from last year.

She does't have an appointment with the plastic surgeon for another 6 months, but all her scars are healing nicely. Most people don't even notice. Still having some milk allergy/lactose intolerance issues, but Zyrtec seems to make a big tremendous difference. (And if you are a parent of a newborn with a cleft, Holly can drink out of any ol' straw you give her! Hooray! Not that you'd think that is a big deal..but every success is Success Worth Celebrating!)

When I went to pick up her preschool pics, I was so overwhelmed at how far she has come. Grateful doesn't begin to describe it. Thank you for all your prayers for Holly Marie! And Thank you Jesus for blessing our family with a truly precious child!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Peanut Butter Brownies!

I love brownies, and really, really love this recipe. Probably because I usually have the ingredients on hand.

1 1/2 cups Bisquick (or any baking mix)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/2 t vanilla
3 eggs
3 oz melted chocolate, cooled

Mix all ingredients but the chocolate. Pour into a 9x13 greased pan, reserving 1 cup of the batter. Mix the chocolate with the reserved batter and spoon on top. Then use a knife to swirl.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 mins.


Who is old enough for preschool?

It's Holly!

Anna and Holly ready to go in to school for the Open House

Ms. Bobbie Lynn and Holly, although Holly is more interested in the saw.

Here's the good stuff! Can you see she has already ditched her shoes?

A spot just for Holly :-)

The Open House was so fun! And what a walk down memory lane for me and Anna. She kept saying how she remembered everything but it used to be bigger.
Flashback! Anna at age 3 in the same classroom at Bethel

Holly loves talking about "Bethelo" and enjoyed seeing the classrooms and all the neat toys. One more week until preschool begins!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sanity Returns

Somehow, we have reached the other side of the rainbow here and sanity has returned to our home. The house is neat and tidy, even if not altogether "clean".

All except one room. Can you guess? Yes, it's the two year old's room where chaos still reigns. I am quite happy to let her change her clothes three times a day, dump out all the stuffed animals and her room.

But this is about life in general, not just our Holly. When the other children were little, I used to pray that I would never forget how hard it is to have a baby in your life. Remembering to show mercy to other mothers of young ones. (I always congratulate a mom with a new born when I see them in church. That is an accomplishment!) Still, I forgot. How totally upside down a baby changes your life.

Things that used to be routine become huge obstacles: like how to get the whole family to Mass in a church with no childcare. Or go to the grocery store with an infant seat that takes up most of the grocery cart!

Now, two and a half years later, sanity has returned. For several days in a row, we have all managed to keep the dishes done, the floors picked up, complete school assignments, do a little laundry and even enjoy playing in the yard together.

Having a baby is totally worth the crazy that comes along. It helps to remember that every day they get older. And to pray not to forget. Maybe this time I won't.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Comment Moderation

After several, several comments in Chinese being left here, I've had to turn on "comment moderation".

I'm not sure what "Our Lady of Good Remedy" means to the Chinese, but too many of these odd comments.

Friday, July 9, 2010

One Step Forward...

You know the saying, "One step forward, two back?" That is where I have landed today. Sigh. It is moments like this that are very tempting to despair. Here's my favorite trick in a time like this: Stand in the corner of my yard and start counting blessings.

Maybe things aren't exactly going my way. Thank God for HIS way. No matter what.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

More Important

Before I type this, I think I know the answer. Here goes: As a parent you do everything you think you should for your children. Teach them manners, responsibility. (Well, at least try too. )

And teach your Faith, about God, Jesus, Church.

And then it happens, I should have seen it coming. They turn around and try to talk to their friends. Except.

That is not very popular.

So, do I now teach that is more important to "walk the walk" and say nothing? How do you learn when it is "right" to say something and when it isn't? And most of all, how does a parent explain that sometimes being popular isn't what it is cracked up to be.

Monday, June 21, 2010

E-Mealz comes through!

We had unexpected, but very welcome, guests this weekend. And e-mealz was there for me. I looked through the cabinets, and the menus, found all the ingredients for a Creamy Curry Chicken casserole as well as side dishes! Felt a little teeny bit like Martha Stewart.

Everything wasn't prefect in the house, but not having to drop everything to run to the store really helped alot. Thank you e-mealz. (The link in on the side bar. Check it out, if you are interested.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Year Ago?

I can't even remember what Holly was doing a year ago. She is so very NOW. As in everything is Right Now.
We went for our annual visit to the plastic surgeon and the ENT. Everything is fine. There is still a gap in the alveolar arch of Holly's gum which is causing some food to come through her nose. Mostly chocolate and cold stuff. Dr. David said there is not anything to do about it until she has that bone graft around age 9. I'll probably read about it a little and mostly not worry too much. Anyway, I hope that is my plan.
In this picture she is playing "hide and seek" during dinner. All you have to do to hide is close your eyes.

Her speech is way ahead of her age, and so are some of her behaviors. She is so adorable, I don't mind the bossy most times. Tonight she asked "Can I play cat?" Then jumped to the floor and began meowing like our Merlin.
That is totally priceless.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Long Time, No See

Hello, its been a while. Holly has taken over my computer watching Caillou and Dora on Netflix. A blessing and a curse at the same time, I suppose. I have been reduced to using this really old Windows 2000!) computer. Not my favorite place to type. The things we sacrifice for our children.

My sister is recovering from her heart surgery. Slowly. She had a couple of unexpected trips to the hospital this week, but seems to be back on track now.

Hope to sneak a few minutes later to post pictures.

Thank you,too, for the well wishes and prayers for my sis.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rolled Buttercream Fondant

Over the past few weeks, I have done a bit of experimenting with fondant. You've seen the pictures of bows made from Wilton Fondant and molding chocolate. Next was the Easter Cake, that I was determined to make from a simple, tasty fondant recipe.

Tried Marshmellow Fondant, no thanks. That just did not work for me. Maybe the humidity, the extra "helpers" I had :-) or that I wasn't precise in my measuring? Which brings me back to the "simple, tasty" recipe.

I have blogged about the Dixie sugar "Fondantly Fun" recipe before, and hands down this is still my favorite. However, I was sure there was some other recipe that would be even better. Let's say more "professional". Seeking this better recipe I went to and Cake Central. Both listed the same formula for a "rolled buttercream fondant."

Do NOT ever waste your money on making this recipe. Is it that shortening no longer contains transfat? I do not know. But YUCK. It was as if the sugar and corn syrup were mixed with the shortening but not absorbed by it. It looked like shortening; it felt like shortening. Greasy. Even the picture on the website is shiny. Regular fondant is flat.

From here on, my go to recipe for simple, tasty homemade fondant : Fondantly Fun. You most likely have the ingredients on hand and if you don't they are sold everywhere. Unlike the ingredients for regular fondant (glycerin and glucose? Not available here.)

***The Dixie Crystal website no longer has the recipe, so here it is from the back of the box. Unbelievably, this rolls and shapes like fondant but made with butter!

Tips for success are: make the Fondantly Fun in advance. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, so fast! Wrap it in plastic and let it sit for a day or two. Add any extracts for flavor, 1t should be plenty. Double the recipe really doesn't fit in my mixer, so I make two batches to cover a 9x11 cake.

This is a much softer fondant than the regular store bought, therefore it can be harder to work with. Letting it sit, wrapped in plastic for a while helps alot. Roll the fondant out with lots of powdered sugar. Lightly brush off the excess sugar after you move it. Any remaining powder will be absorbed by the fondant. (May take a bit, but it will).

What prompted all this in depth analysis of fondant? These cookies:
were being sold for $7 EACH at a local bakery. Fondant covered sugar cookies. $7. EACH.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Prayer Request

My sister had a "minimally invasive robotic mitral valve " heart surgery this week. She is recovering, but still needing prayers. Would you add yours to mine, please?

Lord, please continue to guide the doctors and staff that are caring for my sister. Heal her through and through. Comfort her to give her peace so she can rest and recover. Protect her. Thank you for the miracle of this surgery. Amen.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My God, My God; Why Have You Forsaken Me?

The refrain from the psalm hit me hard this Sunday. When our cantor, Johnny, began this pleading, aching refrain, I was caught off guard.

Not ready. That's what I thought. I am NOT ready. Holy Week is here. The passion, the agony, the crowds yelling at Jesus "Crucify Him." And I am not ready.

All of Lent, is about prayer and sacrifice, trying a little harder to be all that God wants for us. Sunday, when I heard that plea, I realized Lent is also about being prepared for Easter. This is a hard week to live in Jesus' footsteps. To hear the readings from the Gospel beginning on Sunday and retold every day up till Easter. How much Jesus suffered for us. The agony. The loneliness.

You really have to be ready, prepared. Maybe fortified is the word I am searching for. Fortified through the sacrifice and prayers of the past 40 days. My attempt at not complaining hasn't been for naught, but was it enough? Did this "fast from complaining" fortify me for the agony of Holy Week? Well, I'm not sure. But here we are, ready or not.

I want to hide, put my fingers in my ears, Lalalalala, not see or hear what He suffered for me. How could he love me that much? Still, I know He does. I will be there with Him this week. I want to be there. Ready or not.

There is a reward. The Empty Tomb. The Upper Room. Jesus Ascending to Heaven! I want to be there too. Are you ready?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Holly Update

Holly is doing really well. Growing, talking, bossing us all around (and we love it!). She loves Super Nanny, Elmo and Caillou. She can do almost everything "by myself". Maybe with just a little help.

My current decision is dental work. She has two huge cavities that will need crowns. Just the thought of having Holly under anesthesia one more time is causing me some anxiety. We are headed for a second opinion next week. First dentist was super nice. But the plan she has laid out is super expensive. The work needs to be done, don't want Holly to have an abscess.

Say a prayer for us, please. Feel certain that either way we go Holly will be fine, just don't want anesthesia and a loan to get it done.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Favorite Recipe of the Week

Chili! Of any kind. I love chili, but don't make it often enough. This past winter though, I have gotten to make some of my favs and share it with friends too.

Years ago, Aunt Patricia shared a great Taco Chili recipe that we all love. I think you can click on this to see it larger.

And then I had to make the White Christmas chili from Southern Living cookobooks I received at Christmas. When I saw that chili was on the e-mealz menu this week, I knew I would try it first! The first several ingredients are in the crock pot. Looking forward to dinner tonight.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Third Time's a Charm

It started with my sister's 50th bday cake. That big paisley pink bow. It was so cute. Yet, I thought I could improve upon it. Just happens, that my brother-in-law had a birthday the very next week. Seizing the moment, I tried again. The bow had more loops, was skinnier and longer. But still not quite what I saw in all those fondant bow pics online.

Third time did prove to be the charm! My nephew, Peter, is 18! To contribute to the celebration, Anna and I created this "paint ball splat cake".

The bow is made from plastic chocolate marbled with white fondant. And the chocolate buttercream icing I smoothed out by following the "Viva paper towel" method. (No I didn't do the soda bottle edge step, just the paper towel step 8 and up).

As an aside, I have over the past few weeks tried this method of icing a cake, upside down. And failed miserably every time. Is it my frosting recipe? My total lack of patience? Who knows, but what ever the case, every time I peeled off the paper the icing came with it! Good thing the paper towel trick is so handy!

Anna made the paint ball splats. I knew she would have that art-with-abandon ability to create paint splats.

Peter, Happy Birthday! Hope you won the tournament and thanks for letting me make the cake!

What Season is It?

Can it really be Lent? And I have not posted not one single reflection? Have I had one single reflection this season? It has been tough. The long winter has not helped. Somehow, this past several months, with Holly growing, sleeping, speaking and generally doing well, I have been more depressed than before. Maybe it was all the adrenaline of being on top of everything (surgeries, bottles, medicine, sleeping etc.) for over a year, or the great amount of prayer we received to carry through all those anxieties that kept the baby blues away.

Whatever the case, now, I have found myself "tired" all the time. To overcome what I think is developing into a bad habit, I have given up complaining for Lent. As best I can. I am trying not to talk about being tired and focus on positives! All the many, many blessing we have.

Thank God for Spring and Family and Church and everything!

(There I said it. If you catch me bemoaning how tired I am, be kind anyway and know that I'm trying to get back in to the wonderful swing of a joyful LIFE!)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

With a little initiative

and a teeny tiny bit of snow...

You can create a snowman!
Even in the south, in March. Amazing.

This weekend though, no snow. Lots of sunshine. We all enjoyed that! Even if most of today was spent raking up the remaining of leaves from fall. My oldest did protest a little, "hey, isn't Sunday a day of rest?" My reply?

Sunday is a day to rest from our daily activities, our normal work. Raking leaves in March could hardly be considered "normal". The exercise and fresh air is a great way to reflect on the Holy Day.

In the end, the kids enjoy running through the yard playing hide and seek for a little bit, inspired by the freshly (finally) uncovered ground and near 60 temperatures. And Lee Sr. and I enjoyed watching them.

We beat back a little nature, reclaimed some ground that we can call "yard". Fall chores are over just in time for Spring. Good thing we made the most of the snow days in between!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Favorite Recipe of the Week

We all love Chicken Pie! A local chef makes one out of chicken, sauce and crust. Unbelievably delicious. My mom makes one out of chicken, soup and peas. We love that too.

E-Mealz had chicken pie on the menu for the week and I knew it would be a hit. This recipe included two cans of soup, cheese, mixed veggies, onion, mushrooms, chicken and (my all time favorite spice) poultry seasoning.

No pics. It was gone before it cooled. Complete success.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Prayer for Young People

O God, we pray and beseech you
to guide and protect young people
from the dangers that are ever
present in our world today.
Be with them, as they experience
both sickness and health, sorrow and joy,
loneliness and friendship,
success and failure.
Gracious God, give to them the
courage and strength to make the
right decisions as they journey through life.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit,
may they come to know and experience
your loving care.

We make this prayer
through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
St. Mary's Catholic Parish; Papakura, New Zealand

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Special Occasion = Special Cake!

My sister Michele celebrated her 50th birthday this weekend!
(Here's Michele with proud parents, Mom and Dad)
Teresa and Mary Scott managed to plan a terrific surprise party. The "decoy" plan was for the girls to get our toe nails painted. The real plan was to surprise Michele back at her house when we were through! And it worked. She was surprised!

Certainly, such a momentous occasion deserves a special cake. Inspired by Bakerella's recent Valentine's Day post, I decided to make something really over the top. Well, over the top for me anyway.

I printed some scrapbook papers on card stock from Scrapbook Flair and Shabby Princess.
Took these to Harris Teeter to be reprinted on Frosting Sheets with food color. (Ok, this is the one time I prefer Wal-mart but their printer was broken. Somehow Harris Teeter always resizes my pages to be slightly smaller. You will see why this matters in a minute.)
Above is the paisley frosting paper, now cut into strips and adhered to fondant with a little Crisco. A little. Who wants to taste Crisco? Just a little.
Once the paper was cut and added to the fondant, I shaped the strips in to this lovely bows. The online directions say to hang these pieces over a dowel stick. But they stood just fine like this. These dried overnight.

The next day, party day, cut the ends of the ribbons because they were too long and bulky to make a nice bow.

I don't have pictures of the next step because got nervous. Once you bake, cool and ice the cake, you have to attach the rest of the frosting sheets, using frosting this time. Cut the remaining sheets into strips to cover the entire rest of the cake. I wanted to make a "Vera Bradley" like present cake. (You can just see how the paper was a tiny bit small to cover the top of the cake. I thought that might happen, so got an extra sheet of that print.)

And tah-dah! A very special cake for a very special occasion!
Happy 50th Birthday Michele!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Nicest Thing

Is it the weather, the lack of sunlight, the rain? Or still seeing the leaves in my yard, a new record. Leaves still needing to be raked in February! What ever the reason, I have been feeling low lately. Behind in everything, laundry, dishes, leaves.

So super nice today when out of the blue a friend brought me coffee and homemade chocolate cheesecake to the YMCA. I didn't even have to share (but I did because I could)! You know how good that feels? To get to offer, instead of the kids taking first? Not that I mind sharing with the children. Just really nice to be able to get to "offer" first!

This SuperMom has a new blog, if you'd like to stop by for a little visit. I have particularly taken time to reflect on this post, since it I've been feeling out of sorts. You might appreciate it too.

And to make a good morning better, another friend picked up an outfit for Holly, just because. Lent begins tomorrow, and I will start the 40 days with a full heart, knowing good friends surround me and that I have many blessings. Looking forward to Easter.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Favorite Recipe of the Week

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche
Ever since I read Julia Child's book about her life in France, I have been enjoying making quiche. After all, it is the signature recipe she made when she was a guest on talk shows in the beginning. And it is most likely the only remotely "french" dish I will ever make.

How can you go wrong with eggs, milk, cheese and broccoli? Happy to see it on the menu this past week from E-Mealz! I added a little bacon and should have added onions. Still delicious!

There's a special for today only over at, enter the code IHEARTEMEALZ to receive a discount on a new subscription!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Happy St. Valentines Day!

Ohhhh I found a great site tonight with really cute Catholic Valentines!

Visit Catholic Icing to see more!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Something Wrong?

Picture of Mommy and Daddy in the time out chair.
Um, Holly is something bothering you?

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Perfect White Blanket

Anna and Sophie get ready to sled.

Bill can not believe I have to take another picture!

Holly likes the snow...
in theory. Not reality.

Friday, January 22, 2010

E-Mealz Review Continued

My goodness! I thought I had posted this a long time ago. Sigh. Chalk it up to one of those things that sifts to the bottom of the list...

We are enjoying the E-Mealz grocery list service enough to keep with it after about 2 months. The first month, my grocery bill was cut almost IN HALF. Half. Do you really want to know the numbers? I'm embarrassed to say but in October I spent close to $900 on groceries. That is what no list, no coupons, and relying on the little "sale" signs will get you.

But in Novemeber spent about $500! That's just a little more than half. With just downloading and printing the list from E-Mealz. Since we eat almost every meal at home, 6 people, that is pretty amazing right?

When I compared this to the same month at the height of my coupon clipping days: Same exact same. Back in the day, when I was clipping coupons, printing coupons, saving the sale papers, and planning lists just like the professionals (i.e. suggest, I would spend about $500 a month on groceries!

Except none of the work. Just sign on to E-Mealz, print the list and go shop.

Now December was a different story, with the rain and baking, I could not make myself go to Aldi's. However, after the second week in a row of shopping at the other stores and spending $200 and still not having enough food in the house for a complete meal, I am back to the E-Mealz Aldi's plan again.

Went last Saturday, and was happy to wake up today, Friday and realize that we still had food in the house for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hooray! All for $140 for the whole week.

There's a link on the side to the website, check it out if you are interested!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What do you do when it doesn't snow?

The forecast predicated snow last week, they were sure we would get "something". But alas, nothing fell in our county. Anna and I did the next best thing: baked! We didn't even have cupcake liners, but since this was for fun and friends, we plowed on. All the while wistful for the snow that wasn't. I'll keep hoping for snow. "Hey, it could happen."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


What happened? I'm not sure. But sometime recently, Holly got a new-not-better attitude regarding her friend Cecilia.

Just after Cici's birthday, I asked Holly about Cici:

Me: "Holly is Cici your friend?"

Holly: "Cici. Noying."

I was shocked! Up till now Cici has been a much discussed "baby. crawling." I can only guess, that since Holly began singing "Happy Birthday to Holly" again, that she was less than pleased with Cici being the center of attention at the party.

Hope Holly forgets about this soon!

It would be a Blue Christmas

without any Christmas cookies! I thought long and hard about Martha Stewart and her gift box of just 4 perfect gingerbread cookies. (Can't find the link on her page, but saw the gift idea on a show last year.)

Well, I just couldn't do it. 4 cookies, even perfect ones seems so grinchy. Here's what I did do this season, once the serious baking began:

Yum! The Poinsetta cookies are my favorite for this year. I used icing sheets, a rubber stamp, and food colorings to paint in the flowers. Love that! and found really neat sprinkles at Aldi's this year, can you see the teeny-tiny gingerbread people on the hand of the giant gingerbread boys?

Here's to a whole New Year of baking!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Screaming

Sounds like a B movie horror flick, doesn't it? There is no other way to describe the volume that Holly communicates at. I am so grateful for her words, and how well she speaks them. It is just the screaming, all the time, that is wearing me out.

As soon as she wakes up till bedtime. Today she was in time out 3 times for screaming before 7 am. No joke. Holly can say "Baby screaming. Time out." That is a little sad for me, but important to break this awful habit now. Part of our problem, I think, is that she can speak now, but doesn't always remember. So she screams first, sometimes stopping if I can get her to "use your words."

Of course the other part is that she is 2. However, when people chalk it all up to Terrible Twos, I have to resist pointing out my other three children. Three older children. I know the Terrible Twos. I have been there before. Holly really does take this to another level.

As a comparison consider little boys described as "Danger Boys". You know them. All little boys seek out some type of trouble, but there is another level for some. Those "Danger Boys" boys. Holly is like that, except with screaming. Another level.

So far my strategy is three parts:
  1. the schedule, to help her adjust to routines around our home,
  2. trying really hard to answer her the first time she speaks, not hesitating. Hesitating leads to lots of screaming.
  3. time out chair, for when she is just screaming.
  4. Reminding myself of all the wonderful beautiful things about Holly and how well she will do as an adult. She will take on the world one day...and win.
If you are dealing with your own two year old, know that I am offering up a little suffering over here for you :-)

Holly Hair

I didn't even wish you all a Merry Christmas...Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! The holiday season has been good, really good. Even with a stomach virus hitting the whole family after Christmas Day. Much better than last year (aka The Christmas With a Leaf in Holly's Nose).

However with all the celebrating and occasions to look really nice, it has been Holly's wild-life-of-its-own hair that has occupied too much of my thoughts :-)

First let me say this is what Holly's hair looks like most of the time:

Then when Anna and I both try really hard to tame the tresses, for a special occasion, say Christmas, Holly can look like this:

Hence, the hair cut. On Christmas morning. She was in my lap, the scissors were near by. I just had to do it. And now after a week of snipping a little bit here and there while Holly was distracted, I think we have hit upon a New Look.

New Year, New You works for toddlers too! Now if we can just cut out the screaming....