Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Recipe Review: Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Kabobs and Garlic Parmesan Squash

That title is a mouthful! (pun intended)

This is the easiest recipe you will ever find on the internet (except perhaps a recipe for ice).

print recipe

BBQ Chicken and Pineapple Kabobs
The easiest summer recipe you'll ever find. Literally three ingredients and VOILA!
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can sliced pineapple
  • to taste Sweet Baby Ray's Hawaiian Style BBQ Sauce
  • 12-15 skewers
If using wood skewers, soak them in water for 1 hour prior to using. (This prevents the wood from burning while cooking the kabobs.) You'll want to put them on the grill/stove wet. Cut the chicken breasts into 1 inch cubes. Cut the pineapple rings into quarters. Place the chicken and pineapple on the skewers, alternating between the two. Fill each skewer to your liking. Place the loaded skewers on the grill (I used my stove because I don't own a grill). Baste the skewers lightly with the BBQ sauce. If you put too much on too early the BBQ will char and it won't give you the sweet taste you're looking for. Brown each side of the kabobs, lightly basting with BBQ with each turn. When the chicken is cooked (160 F), remove the skewers to the plate, Here you can add all the sauce you want! Serve over rice or with other vegetables.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings

For being so easy, it was delicious. We ate it with Jasmine Rice (minute rice mind you, we are very simple people). It was easily one of my favorite things that I have ever made.

Grilled pineapple is the best thing to ever grace this earth, and BBQ chicken is definitely on the top list of top five best summer meals. This was more than a win in my book! It makes my mouth water just looking at it:

It looks messy and delicious. It wasn't messy, but it was beyond delicious.

Aside from rice, we also had Garlic Parmesan Squash.

print recipe

Garlic Parmesan Squash
This is a great summer recipe. It can be served with many different meats or entrees.
  • 2 small/medium yellow squash
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups parmesan
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
Slice the squash thinly.Heat the oil and garlic in a medium skillet. Sautee the squash until tender. Sprinkle parmesan across the top, melting it just enough to make it stick. Serve warm.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 5 servings

Seriously. This was so easy, even I did it! And look how good it turned out!

This was by far the easiest dinner I have ever made. The best part is, it was tasty! A lot of super easy meals don't taste very good to me, but this was just right. It hit all the right spots. The squash was salty enough to counter the sweet kabobs, and the rice added that much needed starch.

The only thing I would do differently next time is I would make sure the pineapple juice didn't burn. It burned and made our house smell kind of gross. Watch out for that if you cook this on a stove like we did.

Overall, this was a winner.

Grodon Ramsey probably wouldn't like my plating... I'll work on it.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Understanding Autism

This is D on his first day of 4th grade. He picked his outfit out himself. It was a long day of shopping to find those red pants. Ever since he saw my red pants he wanted some of his own. (He also has a bright blue pair that he loves.) The shoes were his second choice. He wanted shiny shoes, but they didn't have any in his size. Usually he wears a white T shirt that is likely covered in stains because it's his go to shirt. The Minecraft shirt is a huge step for him. His hair is a little shorter than he usually likes, but that's because he wanted to try a new hairstyle but changed his mind halfway through the cut. The stylist had to cut it shorter to try to fix it. She did a great job. 

This is how D is comfortable. He might wear this outfit six days in a row. It's comfortable. He likes how the shirt feels against his skin. It doesn't bother him. He likes how the red pants look ("cool" is the word he uses). He feels they help him fit in. This outfit is a careful balance between fitting in and being comfortable. 

BYU vs. Oregon Ducks Baseball.
(Our cousin plays for the ducks.)
D has Autism. It causes his skin to be sensitive to the touch. The wrong type of fabric can overwhelm him. The possibility of unknown reactions to his clothes causes him anxiety. It seems ridiculous to most people. A shirt is a shirt. Cotton is cotton, it all feels the same to us. Honestly, in 4th grade, no one really cares about someone else's pants... But to D, it all matters. It's all very important. 

Along with touch sensitivity, and fear of the unexpected, he also has taste sensitivity. Anything remotely minty burns his mouth. (Do I buy mint candy so he won't steal it? Maybe...) He loves to taste things. I don't mean just samples at Costco, everything. Even if it isn't edible. He sneaks a taste when he thinks no one is watching. 

D also thrives off expectedness. I am the opposite. I thrive off needing to adapt. I seek out challenges just so I can adapt to them. D does not. He would rather watch the same segment of Lord of the Rings 100 times before watching a movie he doesn't recognize. When he has a doctor's appointment, I have to tell him at least two days in advance so he can plan on it. If something unexpectedly comes up, he breaks down and can't handle it. I am very spur of the moment. I might be lazy one second and decide to go to the park the next. D doesn't like that. He needs to know when we are going to the park, which park, how long we will be there, and what exactly we will do while there. 

We have to stop at Bath and Body works during
every mall trip. Need a recommendation?
D's got ya! 
The unexpectedness of life causes a lot of fears. Abstract thinking escapes him. Every elevator has a sign next to it that reads "In case of fire, use stairs." I explained to D that if the library were to catch fire, we would want to take the stairs because the elevator becomes unsafe. He thought I meant the elevator would catch fire spontaneously and we would all be trapped in it. Needless to say, we don't take the elevator anymore. 

All of these little quirks can easily be seen as inconveniences or problems. Sometimes they definitely feel that way (especially when school shopping). They really aren't though. They're opportunities. Most of us live our lives experiencing the world in the same way as those around us, with our five sense perfectly wired. Spicy food is spicy. Cotton is cotton. Elevators take us up and down, bypassing the many flights of stairs we encounter. Seeing the world this way can become a great disservice to yourself. 

For a long time, Autism was seen as a disability, something to be cured. Those with Autism were seen as less than. Slowly, the conversation is changing. As we grow to understand the mind of someone with Autism, our world expands. 

D knows the softest shirts around. You need a comfortable shirt? He will find it for you. Nothing you own is as comfy as what he owns. 

When you think of the places you've been, do you think of them in terms of how they tasted? I don't mean restaurants, I mean department stores, car washes, city parks, even the library.  This how D remembers places. "Morg, can we go to the place that had the soft chairs and was kind of sweet?" or "can we go to the park that tastes gross because of the skunks?" Even when I'm not with D, I pay attention to how a place smells (because I can't taste them like he can). Places that were previously boring have become interesting because of their smells. 

D's soda bottle for the fall festival 2016.
D's fear of elevators have given me legs of steel, and a huge appreciation for the lack of skyscrapers in Utah. I find myself rating staircases and avoiding buildings with staircases that are hot, gross, or scary instead of just taking the elevator. 

There are downsides and adjustments to his autism, but there are also amazing talents hidden underneath the quirks. His love of music is unrivaled. When he has the attention span, he can draw masterpieces. D has the softest heart. He loves to love and be loved.

M's biggest fan is D.
While autism is a neat little label for the way his brain works it doesn't define D. His love defines him. His ability to draw defines him. His love of music defines him. The way he strives to improve and learn defines him. 
This is a mouse we rescued from
our cat. His soft heart extends to
animals as much as people. 
How we react to him and treat him defines us. Either we can see those with autism as less than, or we can see them as the amazing individuals they are. I'm glad the conversation is changing. We all could benefit from experiencing life a little differently. The world has so much to offer us, and it seems that those with autism have the unique opportunity to unlock those secrets. Let them share that with you.

Friday, August 25, 2017

3 Uncommon Essential Oils for the Average Joe

Everyone knows at least one “crazy oil lady.” She’s the neighbor that calls you up at random and asks questions about your health. Often times, you might dodge her at the grocery store, or screen her calls. I’m sure she’s a very nice lady, just a little intense when it comes to essential oils. I get that. No one wants to be hounded about their mental, emotional, and physical health. “Natural” living isn’t for everyone.
I feel like there are three groups of people that come to mind when people bring up essential oils.
The first group is the housewife that is desperate for you to join her “team” or to host “parties.” She adds you to her groups on Facebook and says things like “Want to make money while working from home? Want to set your own schedule? PM me and I’ll tell you how!” We all know not to PM her, or even like that status.
The second group is the “ideal” housewife. The one who posts pictures of herself at the gym just “getting a quick 10 miles in before Jimmy gets home from school!” The girl whose toddler wears designer rompers. She praises oils as being the reason she is so fit, and her kid is “paraben” free. (I have no idea what a paraben is…)
The third group are the “hippies.” The ones who “live naturally” to the extent that they don’t shower regularly because “the water washes the good bacteria off your body.” They typically smell like they use oils. They camp as often as possible and carry a backpack instead of a purse. (FYI, I do carry a backpack that I call my llama bag, but it has M’s baby stuff in it…A purse isn’t logical when your baby pees enough to give Niagra Falls a run for its money.)
When you think oils, you think “this isn’t for me.” I can’t blame you. A lot of it isn’t for everyone. In fact, I think no one really uses all of the oils. I know I don’t. (I also don’t create Facebook groups, run any number of miles, and I shower regularly.) There are some oils that I do use, though. I use them because they work for me.
You can read a million blogs about the “starter oils” such as Lavender, Lemon, and Peppermint. But those oils only do so much. Instead I want to tell you about three oils that are only mentioned if you do decide to confess your life story to the “crazy oil lady” that cornered you in the cereal aisle.


The first one is by doTerra called DigestZen. I know what you’re thinking…well actually I don’t, but I can tell you what I first thought: “Ew.” It sounds like something you eat/drink. It can be. It’s commonly used to restore balance to the digestive system. The name says it all. “Digestive peace” essentially. I don’t want to eat or drink it. In fact, I don’t really even rub it onto my stomach as suggested. I only breathe it in (not inhale it like a drug, just smell it).
I did this a lot when I was pregnant with M. If you’ve been pregnant you know that nausea can hit you at any time without warning and it sucks. I took prescribed medicine to ease the constant nausea, but for the random bouts that would hit me I used DigestZen. It was often right before bed, right when M would do his nightly stretches (which he still does at the same time each night). I would put a drop on the hand that was next to my face as I slept. It greatly helped ease the nausea throughout the night.
I haven’t tried it for more than pregnancy nausea, but I imagine it would work for motion sickness as well. If you have a little one that gets sick during the Sunday drive through the scenic parts of town, try rubbing a little on their hands so they can smell it.


The next oil is Maleluca (or tea tree oil). I have mixed feelings about this oil. It’s not my favorite smell. In fact, it reminds me of the health food store as a kid that my grandma would drag me to. It felt like we spent hours in there! It was the worst! (As an adult, I like the health food store.)
I like this oil for its ability to ease ear pain. Ear aches are the worst whether you’re 2 or 102. They hurt when you swallow. They hurt to touch. They can give you a headache or sore throat. They just suck. I will try anything to ease the pain. That’s why I like this oil.
When my ears start to ache, I put a few drops of this stuff on a cotton ball (or piece of gauze because I don’t actually own cotton balls) and then put it in my ear. Yes, I do look silly walking around with cotton sticking out of my ear, but who cares! The pain goes away! It really does! I’m not just saying that so you’ll be nicer to your crazy oil friend. It really works!! It’s amazing!!
Just this week my ear was killing me. It stung to touch, I couldn’t lay on it, and swallowing caused it to burn. I stuck oily gauze in my ear for about two hours (not in one go, I kept taking it out so I could hear things) and ever since, it’s been pain free!!
B had an ear ache, and I had him do the same thing. Ear ache gone (or at least he stopped complaining about it…maybe he was worried I’d make him put different oils in his ear). BAM! Works like a charm! Best thing ever!


The third and most uncommon oil is the doTerra Purify blend. It smells clean. I mean, really clean. We’re talking lemons on a sunny day clean. Only bleach smells cleaner than this stuff. While it’s nice to diffuse and make the house smell clean, that’s not its only purpose. (Though it’s great to have diffused around the house with all the yucky diapers M makes.)
This week, I used it to make a homemade Febreze for some new/used couches we got. Rich’s parents had a loveseat and recliner they no longer needed, so we took them off their hands. The only downside to free furniture is the life they lived previously. The loveseat and chair are both upholstered in gray fabric. That’s right, fabric. Not pleather, not leather, fabric. And they own dogs. Rich is crazy allergic to anything with fur. He sneezes. His throat itches. His eyes water. And he gets a little grumpy. (Grumpiness isn’t an allergic reaction, he just hates when his allergies flare up.) So getting a fabric sofa from a dog owner isn’t an ideal situation. But FREE!!
We don’t own a carpet cleaner. In fact, our vacuum is questionable. But these couches were what we needed. We vacuumed them as much as we could. Then we sprayed them down with a water-Purify mixture. (I don’t know how much water to oil. I rarely measure things like this. I’d estimate 2 cups or water to five drops of Purify.) We sprayed the daylights out of the loveseat, chair, and two matching pillows. They all smell incredible now.
I don’t know if it was the vacuuming, or the Purify, but Rich’s allergies haven’t flared up more than a little sniffle here and there. I would like to say it’s the Purify. We’ve had the dogs visit before, and it took an insane amount of vacuuming to clear the house of dog, and even then his allergies still gave him a hard time. Miracle oil right there!!

Now, these aren’t promises that these oils will work for you exactly like they worked for me. Every person is different. Every oil reacts differently for each person. But these have been amazing in my life! I highly recommend them! And you don’t need to call your crazy oil lady to order them. You can order them online directly from doTerra. (or drop me a line and I can get it for you, no obligation to host a party or listen to me drone on about oils, I promise.)

We all know the real reason you came here was to see pictures of M. So, as always: Here's the obligatory snapshot of his chubby cheeks:

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

PPD and Me; Pt. 1

I don't know what future "parts" might hold, but I know that this beast is bigger than just one blog post.

Postpartum Depression.

The only downside to having M.

When I was pregnant my mind was constantly planning for the future. Not in the sense that I picked a house, gave it paint colors, decided which schools M would attend, etc. I was planning for me. My recovery. I greatly feared actually giving birth. I really didn't want to push anything out from down...there... That sounded horrible. I also didn't want to have to sit on a donut for months afterward. And all that blood? Ew. Physical recovery sounded awful.

But what about emotional recovery? A few years ago, I imagined having a baby was all smiles and laughs (even through the sleepless nights). I imagined my heart being so full that I could cry. I imagined feeling a sense of joy and happiness and pride. And I do feel those things. But I also feel a gnawing depression.

A year or so ago, someone named Emily took her own life after suffering from Postpartum Depression (PPD). I didn't know her personally, but most of my coworkers did. It stunned them. I could feel their hearts breaking as they shared memories of her and her lovely husband. That's when I learned about the Emily Effect. It opened my eyes to PPD.

Before M, I was prone to depression. It wasn't ever "super serious". Not like some people have it. I didn't feel the need to sit in a dark room, or be alone often. As I got closer to M's birth, I felt very unprepared emotionally. The physical recovery now seemed like a cakewalk compared to what could happen emotionally.

I read that some women take their own lives. Some harm their new babies. Most women with PPD find it hard to enjoy their little one. I didn't want that to be me, but I knew it could be. So I talked with Rich. Having had depression before, I knew talking during a downswing was not an option. I can be really good with words, but not with numbing depression. I knew that if I was struggling, the last thing I would want to do is tell someone about all the tiny details. That's why we talked about it before. I explained what it was, what possible effects it could have, and how if it did happen I'd struggle to talk about it. Rich, being the empathetic person he is, understood.

Then M came. M came in a rush. There was no pushing. There was no "this is it!" Only a groggy morning of "we gotta call Grandma. Text your parents. Text my dad." I wasn't fully awake from the medicine they gave me the previous night. I don't remember the time between being denied my pancakes and the time when the Dr. pinched me and asked if I could feel it. (No, I couldn't.) I remember seeing blood squirt onto the curtain (ew) and M being pushed out like a toothpaste from a tube. I remember Rich's face.

I also remember the second night after. (The first night I was still 90% groggy.) But that second night. I cried. And the night after that, I cried. And after that, I cried. I knew it was the baby blues, but I also knew it wasn't going to go away. The Dr. okayed me jumping back onto the anti-depressants from before my pregnancy, so I did right away. They take a few weeks to kick in all the way, and I didn't want to chance it. Weeks passed and I still struggled. I still cried. I still panicked. I still couldn't connect to the world. A nurse from the health department came to do a well-check on M (because he was so premie). She also checked on me. She listened to me, suggested I call the doctor for different medication or a higher dose. Then she followed up with me. That's what I needed. I needed someone to help pull me out of the hole. Someone that wasn't my husband who always worries about me. Someone who cared about me but was separated enough to not fear pushing me.

I called my doctor. We upped my current medication. It helped. I went from panic attacks to enjoying every second of life. That doesn't mean I'm out of the woods. It hasn't gone away. And it might not for a long while.

This week, for example, has been hard. If you know me, and you have read my recent posts, you can probably tell something is missing. Today was the culmination. Each day has been progressively worse. That's why I wrote. I write to take my mind off of the PPD. Today, though, nothing felt like I could pull out of it. Each step I took was a conscious effort. Each task I needed to accomplish was calculated. I felt like a car running out of gas. Could I get to that next corner? Could I put my shoes on? Did I have enough in me to even nap? I wanted to just do nothing. I wanted to take care of M and that's it. But I knew if I did that, I wouldn't pull out like I wanted. So I got us ready (sort of. M doesn't wear clothes which makes life easier). I drove him to my grandma's and I went to work. I pushed through the emails. I sat through the meeting. When it was over, I came home and napped. I forced myself to.

I can't say it all helped. I can't say that I'm over it. I'm not. But I'm okay for now. I don't feel crippled by anxiety or depression at this moment. It'll come back. It'll try to tear me away from my goals. It'll make me choose between putting shoes on and getting M's diaper changed. And every time, I will get up and focus. I will push. It isn't going to win. PPD might be part of my life right now, but so are many other things.

Sorry, PPD, not today!
This is a combination of grogginess and depression. You probably can't see it, but I can.
Also, check out that HAIR!

This has nothing to do with the post. This is just Rich and M playing video games. 

M is always making faces. Even in his sleep. Love this kid. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Recipe Review: Lemon Tart

This is another recipe from my Irish Cooking Bible. Again, I have never had actual Irish food, so I have no idea how closely this resembles their fare.

I also have never had a Lemon Tart. I think I'm the wrong person for this job... I really ought to review things I have eaten before, but that would be far less fun for me.

First, I'm going to throw down the recipe so no one has to scroll to find it:


1 refrigerated pie crust (half a 15-oz package)
5 eggs
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (I used salted...)
1/2 cup lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 450 F.

2. Line 9 inch pie tin with pie crust. Press it to the bottom and the edges. Use a fork to poke the sides and bottom. (It doesn't say how much poking is needed. I did a few pokes on the bottom, and a lot on the sides.) Bake the crust for 9-10 minutes, or until golden brown (I forgot to watch it and it was a little more brown than golden.) Reduce the oven temp to 350 F.

3. Meanwhile, whisk eggs and cornstarch in medium bowl. Combine sugar, butter, and lemon juice in small saucepan over medium-low heat; cook and stir just until the butter is melted. Whisk in egg mixture; cook 8-10 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. (DO NOT LET IT BOIL!) Transfer to medium bowl; stir 1 minute until cooled. Let cool 10 minutes.

4. Pour the cooled lemon curd into the baked crust. Bake 25 minutes or until set. Cool completely before cutting.

This is what they wanted it to look like:
This is what mine looks like:

I accidentally tipped it when I put it in the oven...so it was not even.

Like I said earlier, I have never made lemon tart before. I don't know what the steps are supposed to look like as I go... this is what mine looked like:

There really aren't a lot of photogenic steps in this recipe.

This dessert is aptly named. It was fairly tart. It wasn't an overpowering tartness or sweetness. It was very subtle. I was expecting a taste similar to a lemon head. It was the exact opposite (as opposite as something lemon flavored can be).

I've heard that Americans use way too much sugar in everything. I googled other Lemon Tart recipes to see if we use far more sugar in this recipe. We don't. Not that I saw. There were some recipes that called for 1.5 cups of sugar, but nothing crazy.

All in all, this was a light dessert. The crust definitely needs to be less cooked after the first step. It was fairly dry since I forgot about it in the oven...oops.

Also, use a pie pan that won't flake off into your crust. The coating on ours coated our pie crust... Ew. We had to throw it away.

I think next time I'll try an American recipe. Any suggestions?

Saturday, August 19, 2017


There are three questions people often ask me:

1. Did you cut your hair?

The answer is yes. I did in fact cut my hair. It was hot. M kept pulling handfuls out. I hated washing it (it took nearly a whole day to do). I just wanted something simple and easy. Now it's five minutes in the shower and I can be out the door! M still grabs handfuls when he can reach it though.

2. How's married life?

We got married a little over a year ago, so people still ask this. It's great. I love it. I can't imagine a time before we got married. What did we do with ourselves? How did we go to separate houses each night? It's hard enough saying goodnight and closing my eyes...I'm not sure how I managed to live in a different city than Rich. Man oh man!

What I like most about married life is getting to spend as many seconds as humanly possible with Richi. We get to go grocery shopping together, get our cars washed, feed M, move couches, clean garages, and laugh while doing it all. I feel like movies and TV shows depict a lot of "perfect" relationships as the ones where people disagree on nearly everything, where they fight about loading the dishwasher, where they get jealous because someone stayed late at work. Media calls it passion. I call it awful. I can't imagine spending eternity with someone I couldn't laugh with at every possible second.

I had the C-section for M, and my insides hurt pretty badly. We were tired beyond belief. M needed to be fed every ten minutes, I swear! It was a little bit of a "rough patch"...as rough as we get. And we had to watch these child care videos given to us by the hospital. While informational, they were dull as all get out, but in the middle Richi made a joke and we laughed. Then I cried because my insides hurt, but we laughed. We laughed the night before the C-section, when suddenly the pregnancy turned very serious. We laughed in the operating room. We laugh when M keeps us up at night. We're happy together.

More importantly, we communicate. We talk about everything. If I had a bad day, I tell him. If he's had a bad day, he tells me. If he doesn't like how I forget to rinse my bowl, he tells me (and then I do it because he loads the dishwasher and it's the least I can do). If he's uncomfortable, he tells me. If I am in a bad mood, I tell him. There is no guessing in our relationship. That's what makes it perfect.

I don't get upset when he works late (because sometimes he has to). He doesn't get upset when I have to spend the evening school shopping with the older kids. He texts his friends (some of which are girls), and I text my friends (some of which are guys). Richi wasn't great at flirting when we dated, so I know he isn't out flirting with others. Even if he was good at flirting, I know he loves me. He makes that very very clear in his actions and words. We trust each other because we love each other.

So how is married life? It's amazing. I am married to an amazing man and I couldn't be happier!

3. How is M?

M is great. He can't figure out how to poop yet, though. (Is that weird that I said that on here? I'm a mom now. It's what moms talk about...poop and throw up...) He also heats up like a small furnace. We like to keep him naked because he tends to sweat like he's run a marathon in the Sahara. We're working on figuring that out.

Other than those small hiccups, he is doing great! He loves this little toy that we call Giggle Cat (if you squeeze her tummy she giggles and says "I love you"). Everything he can get to his mouth immediately goes in, which makes him a cannibal if I don't feed him quickly enough... He starts gnawing on my arm. He loves to sit up. He hates laying down unless it's time to sleep. When he goes to my grandma's house, he loves to watch the older boys and demands they carry him. He talks to lightbulbs and ceiling fans. I don't know why, but he does. He loves to be read to.

And my favorite thing ever is that he loves to sing. Music comes on and he begins singing his heart out. He can be screaming right up to when the music starts. He'll stop and sing. But once the music stops, the screaming starts again. He also loves to sing with his dad. Richi sings to him and he sings back. It's probably the cutest thing this planet has ever seen.

Since I am one of those moms, I take at least a dozen pictures a day of M. Here are a few of my favorite:

Just hanging out on the chair. 

He loves when dad feeds him. 

This yellow blanket was handmade for him. He hugs that like there's no tomorrow.
(I will post a link to her shop once I find it)

He's always on the go so a track suit is fitting. 

Dino jammies ftw. 

His favorite place to be is in dad's lap. 

He always has something to say. 

My friends got this Minky blanket for him and he loves it. It's soft and easy to chew on. 

He's so peaceful. 

Never too young to meet the Ishes.
(Link at the bottom to buy your own Ishes!)

Sometimes he goes into a food coma

He loves to copy the faces dad makes. 

Could he be any cuter! 

He would have dad carry him around all day if it were possible. 

He's rarely not smiling. 

Lookin' sharp in his suit. 

This is one of my favorite pictures. M loves to sleep with his dad, almost more than he likes sleeping with me.

M is snuggled up in bed, and Richi is waiting for me to eat cake. I best get off the computer and eat my cake before bed. 

Where to buy Ishes: https://www.ishtoys.com/

Thursday, August 17, 2017

0-200 Challenge

I'm not sure what possessed me to do this, but I decided to do a 0-200 challenge. What's that? I'll tell you what it is!

It's a simple work-out. I mean really simple. I downloaded 3 apps. Each of them is a different workout. I got pushups (which is only 0-100, thank heaven!), sit-ups, and squats. The app takes you through each day's workout, including resting intervals. All you do is pick whichever day you're on, and follow the directions. Super easy (the app, not the pushups...).

This is the app logo for the pushups:

Kid you not, I picked these apps because of the logos (they're all similar). I judge apps by their covers... This was a good choice though. Seriously.

The apps want you to work out each day until you are able to accomplish the entire 200 (or 100). I am not doing that. There is no way on this earth that I would be able to do sit-ups, pushups, and squats. Guys, I can barely do pushups as it is, and that's probably only because I have to tote M around in his carseat (that kid is HEAVY!). Instead, I am doing them one each day. This means it's going to take me 3 times longer, but I am more than okay with that. Slow and steady wins the race.

I am not a fan of workout blogs or fitness journals. That is a lifestyle I will never fit into. I am a huge fan of relaxing walks and couch cuddles. I'm going to keep posting about this challenge, but realize it's going to be an average mom's experience. That means I will likely curse the sky with every sit-up, and fall over after 15 squats, but I'll let you know about those. Don't expect to see a peppy "I feel great!" in my posts...honestly I'm going to have jello legs and a headache. Again, I don't know what possessed me to do this. No one even asked. But now that I have started, I have to finish cuz I ain't no quittah!

I've done each exercise once (so I've been doing this for three days). Here is a picture of that result:

Pretty dang good for having had M 4 months ago! (This is the most I've ever weighed without a baby in there, and I love it! I am not doing this to lose weight. Honestly, I love my weight, my body, and my jello legs.)

Don't let that smile fool you, though. I did the squats today at work (great desk exercise) and then walked 100 miles around the junior high helping C and B find their classes (16 teachers...16...parent teacher conferences will be fun...). My abs still ache from sit-ups, and my arms hurt from pushups (or from carrying M, it's tough to tell which is harder). Through these aches, I'll find the joy. Hopefully you can find it with me!

If you want to do the challenge with me, let me know so I can shoot you support emails/texts (because everyone needs a good gif to keep them going).

Wish me luck, guys! And if you see me wobbling down the street, you'll know it was squats day.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Recipe Review: Sausage and Cabbage

If you want to just snag the recipe, jump to the bottom.

A little bit ago, I got the "Irish Cooking Bible" as a gift. I honestly couldn't tell you if this is legit Irish food or not, but so far it's been good!

Tonight I made Smoked Sausage and Cabbage (page 72 if you have the book).

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but not what came out. It was bitter, sweet, and savory all at once. The cabbage was slightly bitter. I used sweet onions so, obviously, they were sweeter than the cabbage. For sausage, I couldn't find smoked sausage, so I used an Irish sausage from Johnsonville.

The directions are really simple. It would have been really hard to mess this up.

Step one was to cut the sausage and brown them in a pan. So I did, like so:

Mind you, this was before they were browned.

I honestly have never cut a sausage before in my life. They're a little icky. The weird wrapper thing that holds the squished stuff together...ew. Super tasty, but ew.

I also have never cut cabbage. It said to cut it coarsely, so I left it big. I also got a little carried away:

That is definitely more than 6 cups. My bad. The amount of cabbage wasn't a huge problem. It was the size of my skillet that was a problem:

 I need a bigger skillet.

So these are the only steps. Cut and brown sausage. Cut and brown the cabbage and onions. No big deal.

After everything is thrown together, the book says it should look like this:

Mine turned out a little less photogenic: 

The towel looks amazing, the food looks less colorful. I realize they don't typically photograph actual food cooked the way it says it is, but I like to pretend it's attainable by following the recipe. 

Finally, we ate it. It wasn't bad. It's not something I could eat every day. I would get a little...bored...with it. Maybe if I had other things with it, like potatoes or something. Next time. 

Richi loved it. He ate a lot of it. His review: 

"The only thing I would change is the sausage. I would add more sausage!" 

There you have it! It's a very simple meal. Took less than ten minutes to make (not including my fight with the cabbage). Super nice for a weeknight like tonight. I'll probably make it again. Not right away, but maybe later in the fall.

K, now for the recipe:

1 lb smoked sausage, cut into 2-in. pieces (more sausage is probably better)
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 cups coarsely chopped cabbage (more cabbage requires more space, just fyi)
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
3/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp caraway seeds
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Cook the sausage in a large skillet (they mean large) until browned. Remove sausage to a plate.

2. Heat the oil in the same skillet (get all that sausagey goodness leftover). Cook the remaining ingredients in the skillet until the onion is brown.

3. Add the sausage back. Cook covered for 5 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before eating.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

An Unofficial Guide to Family History: Build a Foundation for the Future

It's been a long while since I posted about family history. I'm sorry. I said before that I will be posting as I am working, and right now I have been hitting dead ends.

One thing, though, that is often overlooked in family history is the future. It makes sense because it isn't called family future. Something that is very important, though, is record keeping.

You can browse family history documents, like censuses and marriage licenses. That's not what I mean though. I mean journals, photos, etc.

One of the most important things I have received while working on family history is a book of poems by a great-grandma.

I've never read a poem that touched me nearly as much as this.

I've also gotten the opportunity to help my grandma mount her travel photos, which comes with stories of the places she has visited. After an afternoon of mounting, I cannot stop smiling.

Photos, personal writings, they are what bring your ancestors to life again in a way official documents can't.

What does that have to do with the future? Well sometime, you will become the past. You are laying a foundation for the future. Someday, your descendants will want to know who you were, not just where you lived. It's important you start building that foundation.

But writing in a journal can be really hard to maintain. I understand. There are many ways you can keep a journal, though. You don't need to write down the events of each day in order to keep a good journal. In fact, sometimes less is more.

It's easy for me to sit here and tell you to write in your journal. After all, I write in mine. From ages 8-16, I wrote in my journal daily. While that is great, it isn't necessary (especially if you ever have to move, journals weigh a ton). You only need to write what matters most to you. Did you see something amazing? Did you hear a song that made you smile? Did you talk to someone who touched you?

Sometimes we aren't good with words. That's alright. I have a journal that I fill with words, but then I also have what I call my adventure journal. Instead of loading it with words, I load it with items from "adventures" I have. Then I jot a quick sentence about what I loved, or hated, about the experience. There are a lot of movie tickets and playbills in there. My descendants will know how much we enjoyed entertainment.

Here, this is what my adventure journal looks like:

As you can see, it's just a blue book (bonus, it's the "Diary of River Song" if you watch Dr. Who). The pages inside are just blank, not lined, nothing fancy.

Then I use acid free mounting tape to attach the items. When it comes to tickets, I tape them on one side so they can "open" up like a small door. Underneath I write what I enjoyed.

These definitely aren't "pinterest" worthy photos. My journal is far from those beautiful creations people post online. But that's alright. A journal is personal. If you want a fancy journal, with beautiful handwriting, then do it! If you don't care, then don't sweat it. The most important aspect of journaling is the information. It's meant to be a preservation of your memories, not a showpiece for the world.

Right now, you are living in what will be considered the past. You are making memories that will mean the world to someone who isn't even born yet. If I had a journal of the lives of my great-great-grandmas, I would be in heaven. I am here because of "average" people living their lives. I am here because one day someone probably took a road trip that changed their life, or maybe they met a funny stranger. Who knows! One day, your descendants will thank you for taking the time to jot down "I really hated that Justin Bieber song". Give them a chance to get to know you. Let your memories survive the eternities. Write in a journal.

P.S. I started writing this post in September of 2016, and finished in August 2017. Just in case the first and second halves seem disconnected.