Monday, September 22, 2008

The Ultimate Comfort Food

Like so many of us, I eat for comfort at times. And, I have my own list of foods that seem to fit that category. Of course, chocolate is found on this list, but honestly I don't consider it as much a comfort food as an indulgence. My comfort foods tend to be warm and easy to eat like oatmeal. Believe it or not, I consider rice, beans and cheese to be one of those ranked high on my comfort food list. May sound strange, but my latest favorite is something called "Baked Louisiana Dirty Rice and Beans", a recipe I found in Cooking Light. I consider this recipe the ultimate comfort food because one need not feel guilty after eating it. It's good for you!! Here it is for you to try the next time you need some comfort food:

1 Tblsp. olive oil
1 c. finely chopped green bell pepper
3/4 c. chopped red onion
1/2 c. finely chopped celery
1/2 lb. skinless, boneless (I use ones with bones in and cut off the skin myself) chicken thighs, cut into 1/2 in. cubes (I leave them whole, too...less work).
1 c. uncooked long-grain brown rice
2 1/2 c. fat free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. thinly sliced green onions
2 tsps. minced fresh thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 350.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bell pepper, red onion, and celery to pan; cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in rice; cook 30 seconds. Add broth and remaining ingredients; bring to simmer. Cover and bake at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

I cook and bake this in my Pampered Chef Executive Skillet. I love that it's a one pot meal that way!

Monday, September 08, 2008

And, some pictures...

Judah and Tucker's 4th birthday celebration with Lawrence's family
Bella loves many things. We've captured a few in pictures:

Reading books (and occasionally ripping pages)

Climbing like a monkey

and her Papi!!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Growing Up

My three gifts from God (that would be my children I'm talking about) all had well visits with our pediatrician recently. Usually I can manage all three by myself. It's not pretty, but I manage. But, because all three of them were scheduled to have shots, I asked my MIL if she'd go with me. Thankfully, she agreed!

Judah and Tucker are 4!!!
Amazing to me to think that a year from now, God willing, they will be entering Kindergarten!!
My boys are growing...Tucker is in the 25th percentile for height and weight, and while Judah is only in the 5th percentile for height, he grew at the same rate as Tucker over the last year. To me, this is a good sign. I will be taking him to see his endocrinologist toward the end of September for her to take her measurements and continue the dialogue of whether to try growth hormone treatments or not. This is an ongoing concern of ours, but we are so grateful that Judah is still on the charts and still apparently growing! Thank you, Lord!! Keep praying.

Daily, the boys wow me with the intelligence God's blessed them with. Recently, they have been interested in math. "Mom, did you know that 2 and 2 make 4?" They write their name (not well, but they do it). They LOVE to read which, in my opinion, is the key to any and all learning. They're VERY curious, almost ad nauseum. All day long, I answer the question, "Why?". I have to often remind myself that this is a good thing as it can get quite annoying. :)

The boys are nearly OBSESSED with Thomas the Tank Engine which my pediatrician says is actually developmentally quite normal. From the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep, they play (or want to) with their trains and tracks. I'm grateful to be at this stage finally where I can watch them play with such focus and intensity while I get other things done. Not totally off the hook, though, I often have to step in to help them work through many a conflict.

Every Friday, we go to the library for storytime. I have been taking the boys to drop in storytime since they were about 18 months. The boys are reluctant, if not entirely resistant, to participate with any finger plays or songs. It's something Lawrence and I are praying about and asking God for wisdom to know what to require of them, how to discern what's going on in their hearts, etc.

The boys tend to be rather fearful but daily, we see so much growth. They fall, scream, but are growing quicker to shake it off. They are beginning to wrestle more with each other and their buddies, not as fearful of getting hurt as they once were. They have watched a couple movies with us (the most recent one was "Jungle Book") that scared them out of their wits (especially Tucker), but made it through and hopefully are growing in courage as a result.

They're also becoming better eaters. It has required a lot of perseverance, and we still have far to go, but now they have a much larger list of foods that they'll eat. There are no special made dinners; they eat what we eat or don't eat at all. They will now eat 2 carrots for lunch, sometimes even without dip! Judah loves corn on the cob. They both eat chicken, prepared many ways, not just nuggets. :) They'll eat an array of fruits and do really well with beans fixed in many different kinds of dishes, taco soup being one of their favorite.

The boys love to watch me bake in the kitchen. They pull up their stools and help me measure and pour. Tucker especially takes an interest in anything I put together in the kitchen. He's our "smeller". He always wants to smell food items especially. It makes me wonder if he'll be a chef some day.

The boys love when I make them chocolate chip pancakes, which I typically do on Saturdays when Papi's home. And, they LOVE when Papi's home. Lately, they'll come in my room in the morning, and the first thing they'll do is go to the window and lift the blinds to see if Papi's car is there or not. We'll do the calendar in the morning as a part of our breakfast routine, and they'll sometimes figure out where we are in the week compared to the weekend (when Papi's home).

They also LOVE their buddies and having company or something to do each day. This could be perhaps from the way we do our calendar time. I have a calendar where we review the day of the week, the month and date each day. Then, we have magnetic activity blocks that we can put on each day. SO, the days we go to the library, I put up the library magnet. As a result, nearly everyday, they ask who's coming over or what we're going to do that day.

My boys live a very full life, and daily I am amazed by the blessings God bestows on my family!!

Bella is 18 months old (and showing it by testing the limits all the time now)!!
Among the many things Bella enjoys, EATING is one of her favorite. There are times the girl will eat as much as I do at a sitting. And, while she doesn't care for most vegetables, she is hands down a better eater than either one of my boys. And, I'm very grateful.

Even still, she only weighed in at the 25th percentile for height and weight.

Bella continues to be the delight of our home. She loves to dance and will shake her groove to just about any beat. She's got a bag full of various moves, too.

She loves to be outside. She'll go to what I call the shoe spot (where the kids leave their shoes by the bottom of the steps), grab her shoes and bring them to me as if to communicate, "I want to go outside."

She is starting to speak (and not just her baby babble that she can be heard uttering all the time). Some of her first words have been: kitty, doggie, shhh, ball, baby, Coco, mine, nose, toes, and of course, momma, papi (baba), judah, tucker...oh, and the roomba she calls "da da". One of the ways the boys will entertain themselves is by 'making' Bella say certain words.

For a while Bella would just meander around the living room doing really nothing while the boys played all day long with their trains and tracks. But, recently, she began to get into their space just a little bit too much for any of us to endure. So, it finally occured to me to bring her kitchen set upstairs for her to play with. She has been having lots of fun playing "mommy" in her kitchen and for the most part, staying out of the boys space.

The girl is proving to have quite an independent spirit (gee, I wonder where she gets that from). God is giving me confidence, however, in helping her learn where and when it is appopriate and God glorifying to exercise her independence. In many circumstances, I'm grateful she's independent. Where it gets her in trouble these days is when she opens the pantry and pulls out the cereal, or stands on one of the toy bins and tries reaching for the things on the pass thru window or tries to climb over the gate and falls on the kitchen floor, face first. :)

Bella's also a little monkey and fearless. Again, something that has its advantages and disadvantages. There are slides at the playground that the boys only recently are willing to go down; Bella's going down with gusto at 18 months. But, she also walks away from me and/or quietly disappears when I'm distracted, never looking back to see if I'm with her or watching her. She's nearly been in the street, hit by a car twice before I noticed. She's quiet and quick. I have to keep an eagle's eye on her at all times.

And, she loves men. It's funny (scary) how she'll nearly bat her eyelashes when she has the attention of a man. She loves her Papi most of all, though, and I know it'll take quite a lot for any young man to not only win Bella's heart but moreso, my husband's approval one day.

Ahh..but that day is not today. Thank God.
Instead, today, I get to enjoy this adorable, baby babblin', dancing, sweet little girl of mine, and I'm so grateful.