Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tuscan Pasta Salad

Okay, so I may have to start food blogging again- I mean (if I can squeeze in some time). But you know what- I LOVE cooking and I love sharing recipes. It's so hard sometimes to find the time to cook, but it's so important. We have had a crazy few weeks and we've eaten out ALOT, and it just starts to weigh on you (physically and mentally!)...know what I'm saying!

But I love it when I find something that is easy to make, can feed a crowd (because hello that's what I have here!) and it saves well...did I mention I love leftovers. Love. That means I cook a few nights a week but then have leftovers the other nights. Win. Win.

Anyway, so this was a recipe that I found on pinterest, but tweaked it a bit for my tastings. :) So enjoy and share away with others!

P.S. When I do recipes, I don't really follow the exact amount (except with baking because that's so vital!) so I eyeball a lot and throw in this and that to what I want.

Tuscan Pasta Salad! 
*Bow tie pasta (I used two packages), cook & run with cold water to chill
*Fresh spinach - 1-2 cups
*Shaved parmesan - to your liking (I used probably about a cup)
*Sliced black olives - 1 cup
*Sun dried tomatoes- 1 cup
*Red Pepper- one, chopped
*3/4 c. Evoo
*2T white wine vinegar
*2T water
*Salt & Pepper
*1 clove of garlic crushed
*1 tsp oregano
*1 tsp basil

Honestly I love this dressing- you could leave out the sugar if you wanted and add in a few squeezes of lemon for a bit of tart. But I love the freshness in this. I'm so over big fatty dressings. Light and refreshing- that way you can actually TASTE the goodness of these fresh veggies!

P.S.S. Let me just say that it is worth investing in good olive oil. Yes I work at Williams Sonoma and I get a discount but it makes a difference. ESPECIALLY when you use it like this. Invest in a good olive oil!

Another pic- LOVE the sun dried tomatoes. The original recipe called for grated but I love the bigger shaves.  

One of the Olive Oil's I use. Love it. Very robust and clean. And seasoning that is fab (even though the name is out there! "Slap ya Mama!"- it gives you a good kick of seasoning. And Sea Salt. Love a little flakes on top! 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Henry's 7th Birthday

Oh my little white Tiger! Cannot believe that you are already 7! Feisty as ever too...and I swear it only gets more dramatic...I seriously cannot even fathom teenage years!

We had a great time celebrating your 7th birthday- a fun little get together and FIRST sleepover with your besties...Solomon, Foster and Corbin! Your Dad and Nick took you all to Sky Zone and then you came back here for pizza and dessert. You all did fabulous- no issues and all fun! (of course I didn't get ANY pictures though...sad). We also had a family birthday dinner for you on your actual birthday- few missing family members but wonderful memories all together. 

So you're doing wonderfully well at school- your Chinese studies continue to amaze and you still really love it. You love math just like your Dad and brothers. We've never had any issues- always well behaved and polite which is nice to hear. Can definitely say there's a little bit of an ego with this year- I mean we know you're an incredible athlete and good kid but sometimes I think it goes a bit too much to your head so we've been working on being humble and a good team mate.

You are our little tiger though- the sweetest and then switches really quick and can be the most cunning and sly. I've never seen a personality switch so quick- it's really quite amazing. And woo- the most dramatic. I laugh when Jason said he never wanted a girl because girls are dramatic and scream too much- yet you take the cake on both of those! Yet you really know how to charm- when your ready you slide in and know just how to give your mommy the best hugs and those eyes of yours are hard to say no to.

You have some wonderful friends- two of which have been your besties since pre-k, and you've added on some new great ones through basketball, football and your Chinese program. I'm so incredibly grateful for good friends for you and their sweet spirits. I know how much they mean to you. I pray you always have a good set of friends around you.

We've had a busy year leading up to 7- first flag football league (which you dominated in and absolutely loved- waking up on Saturday mornings and ready to go -even though the game was hours away), another great basketball season, a new baby sister (actually you are the most doting and love it when she pays attention to you and smiles at you), piano lessons, summer trip to Branson and your first trip to Little Rock to see my family there. I'd say it's been a big year!

Happy #7 to our Re-Re (as Phil calls you! )

1st Flag Football! 

Look at that beautiful face! 

Proudest one brother! 

He loves his some Uncle Max! 

Look at those eyes- my little Valentine boy!

Happy #7 to Henry! 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Stella @ 4 Months

Oh lil' angel...why is time going by so quickly! We've had a really crazy 4 months- and last of the two, but I'll say this, you are a trooper but definitely let us know when enough is enough!

You had your 4 month check up and weighed in at 15 lbs. Were still kinda tiny in the weight, but moving up there. You're about 80% in height now and 60% in weight. (this coming from the boys who were always off the charts- just funny to me!) You also had 2 shots and you were quite unhappy, then you ran a fever the next day. My poor star...

You also have your first tooth! I knew it would come around this time...all the boys were right around 4 months as well. It actually popped through before you hit 4 months! So you've made it extra fun- you've started bubbling and making those little spitting noises. You LOVE grabbing Daddy and Papa's hands and chewing (which is not fun for them with that little tooth!)

Towards the end of January you started maxing out those 6 month clothes and you absolutely LOVE the laugh when I start running with it. You also LOVE getting in the baby bjorn with Daddy- you kick kick those legs and get all excited, or you just fall asleep (apparently pretty comfy).

We've had a busy busy time between 2 and 4 months! We had our first Christmas! Full of friends and family, lots of dinners out (you eat and then fall right asleep in your carseat), and parties (you're happy to go to just about anyone!). We had our first out of state trip - actually two- we went to Little Rock, AR (stayed with our cousins the Mendelsohns) and then to Memphis, TN (to see your darling cousin Hollace at St. Judes). Must say you do quite well in the car, but you are still notorious for blowing out that diaper and your whole outfit...thank goodness mommy has extra sets of clothes!

We did have a bit of a rough time after our Memphis trip- you ended up getting RSV and it was super scary for Mommy and Daddy. We were on house time with breathing treatments and steam showers multiple times during the day for at least 10 days. It was by far the saddest little cough. Thankful that you are all better now!

You're sleeping so well. At 10 weeks you were sleeping 8 hours then another 3-4 (which gives Mommy some extra time in the morning to help the boys get off to school!). Yes, you are still nice and cozy in Mommy & Daddy's bedroom- just where you need be! And still at 16 weeks you are still sleeping like that. Champ for sure!

We did start you on cereal, just about a week before your 4 months. You just seemed ready. Well, here's why. We had a good start on the bottle and then I went hiatus on it for about a month so NOW, of course, you want NOTHING to do with it. Scream actually when anyone tries to give it to you. So we started our rice cereal. You're not the biggest fan, but liking it more each day. (You can even ask cousin Mia and Aunt Olivia how much you hate that bottle- my luncheon for Theta was not kind on them because you went on strike eating that bottle and were miserable!)

You also LOVE those boys. I love watching your little eyes follow them around and I cannot imagine quite what you think of them. Especially Phil because you seem to think that he's pretty funny...I mean we all do, but I love that you see it at such a young age. They are all so sweet and attentive with you. Well, Phil can be a little tough and rough sometimes but all out of love. You are so loved baby sister! Happy 4 Months and many more to yoU!
She loves her little swing- especially if it's next to the fire! 

God love her little tiny self! 

Oh Stell! These boys are funny and sweet and love you! 

Daddy time! 

Baby's 1st Christmas! 

All the girls! :) 

3 Months! 

Yep...first time in the bumbo and ready for cereal! 

Bath time with Daddy is the best! ...and you love looking at your self in the mirror too

From football games to basketball...this is life! 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jack's 10th Birthday!

I'm so off on this one...I mean 6 months off actually! But I love doing these posts for their yearly markers. And I do have a good excuse- Miss Stella was born just 9 days before Jack's birthday so you know...I've been a bit busy.

Okay, so how in the world do we have a 10 year old? I mean it doesn't seem possible. It just feels like he was born a few days ago- he's my first born and I have so many memories of just him and I together. Actually he was my little buddy for so long in Shanghai when it was just the two of us- making new friends and exploring the new city. We did everything together. I love it- we'll always have that special bond. 

So BIG Boy (and when I say big I mean big...were rolling in at 115 lbs and size 9 MENS) that's what I mean. He's going to be bigger than me before I know it...and bigger than his Daddy (and I think that scares Jason a wee bit). 

He's still the same sweet boy we know and love. Biggest heart and if I tell him he's disappointed me and he sees my pain he's broken. He's always been that way. He's a protector of his Mommy and bestie to his brothers. Though were still working on NOT aggravating. For some reason, no matter how sweet he is, he still loves to annoy his brothers. He calls Phil "chunky" and still has to touch Henry all the time (which kills Henry). 

Last year at Jenks Southeast and I'm not quite sure this Mama will be able to handle it. Going to the 5th/6th grade center next year- merged with new kids, lockers and out of our little bubble here. I know he will do fine- he makes friends easily and is a great leader. Of course, like any parent, I just worry here and there about him being able to say "no" and stand up when things aren't right. They are definitely getting to an age now where they can get into trouble and come across other kids that say or do inappropriate things. I pray he has the strength and passion to stay on the right path. All I can do! 

This has been a big year with Football Cards! Good gosh! Cannot even tell you how many we have. And I always ALWAYS call them baseball cards. I'm sorry, my brothers grew up with baseball cards! "Come on Mom, they're FOOTBALL cards"! So they collect them at school and then he comes home and organizes them. I mean HOURS spent doing this. And the kids knows ALL The facts about the players. If only he could commit these memory skills to his homework! 

And, of course, still loving Football. Everything in football really. They started practice again in August and Jack cannot wait til the season starts. It's a love. Passion. Commitment. I love that he loves it so much and that him and Jason share this bond together...and LOTS of time as Jason is one of the coaches too! 

Big boy Jack is also wanting to sleep in later...and go to bed later. He says he's older and needs to stay up later than the younger two. The sleeping in later is something I thought would never happen...he's always been my early riser! 

Is a family boy at heart. That was always one of the toughest parts about being away. Jack loved it and thrived because he can have fun with anyone but he so loves his family. He's a his Mommy...loyal and true. We've gotten to be around my cousins the last few years too and it just means the world to him! 

We had a birthday dinner for Jack and I was saying our prayer for dinner and blessing Jack and started crying- something I NEVER do. I just got so wrapped up in my emotions (okay and I had just had Stella) but I just love this boy and who he is. I'm sad in some ways that he's growing up (I mean we have had some temper tantrums and he once told me he didn't love me because of something I told him he couldn't do) but I'm also excited. We share some really deep and meaningful conversations sometimes and I'm super proud of the young man I know he's becoming! 

Always a special place in my heart for this boy! 
Lunch at Wild Fork- one of our favorite places! 

He has many talents- musical this summer and he was Shrek! He was so adorable and funny! 

Right before he became a big brother for the 3rd time! 

Now he's the oldest of 4! 

How is he 10 already! 

Gosh I love this boy and all that he is! 

And he's been blessed with the best grandparents! 

Times two! :) 

His darling 2nd cousin- only 6 months apart!...little bit in height though! 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Stella @ 2 Months

You know I thought about doing a post at 1 month but that has come and gone and so has 2 months so we're merging! Lil' miss will have to learn that even though she is our shining star she's also the 4th and this Mommy doesn't have a whole lot of time!

Stella couldn't be more of an angel- she is just the easiest baby that we've had so far. Actually right now she is sleeping- she went to sleep at 10:30 and woke up at 6:30, nursed, then went back to sleep and it's 10:20 now. But this is normal and has been for the last 2 weeks at least- sleeping really for almost 12 straight hours. DREAM!!! She knows she's the fourth and has to just roll with it.

But with that being said the poor little thing is jerked up here and there during her sleeptime- hurry gotta rush to piano, or football or whatever it is that we have going on. She barely fusses about it. Thank you Lord for this sweet baby and her chill temperament.

She's finally in size 1 diapers! ha ha! Did you know I've NEVER had a baby in Newborn diapers- ever! So that means she's also fitting into her 0-3 month outfits too. Tiny petite little thing. I call her "tiny". I actually said it to her in the grocery store and some lady goes "oh is her name tiny". No. But then again I guess you really never know these days.

I still can't believe that I have a GIRL! I mean I look at her and I think "is this real"? She looks so much like the boys (I see little traces of them in her all the time) yet she has those finer and more petite features. Her eyes are so deep blue. I'm curious to see if they will change colors or not. And we've lost some hair- actually we lost just the middle section- Jason is ornery and keeps calling her George Castanza (off of Seinfeld)- don't worry- he gets smacked every time he says it.

And just as I suspected we have a really big sucker- called Daddy! He couldn't be more smitten. Well, I'll just say that ALL of the boys are. Jack and Henry rush home from school and want to see her. Henry asks to hold her every night at some point or another and gets really upset if it's not a good time. She does take a bottle really well too- though she definitely prefers her mommy. And she's a sucker for her carseat- she has a major blowout in it EVERY SINGLE TIME we go out- so Mommy always has to have an extra outfit ready to go. (Did I also mention I forgot how much laundry you do with a newborn?)

She did wonderfully well at her 2 month appointment- no shots this time and weighing in at 11.8 lbs (only 53% in weight) and only 61% in height. What? I'm laughing because the boys have always been OFF the charts in both height and weight...that's why she is still my tiny! She still has the bluest of beautiful blue eyes. And still no hair, so I'm always putting bows on her even though Daddy says they bother her. Little does he know, she loves them!

She also had her 1st Thanksgiving- out in Pryor at Aunt Dana & Uncle Nash's. She was the perfect party guest and she got to meet more family members! Including Jim & Jane from Denver and cousin Julie. Actually we've had lots of visitors and dinners- and she is wonderful with everyone! Not to mention many football games that we've gone too! I mean she goes where we go and doesn't fuss too much about it.

Stella is taking a bottle- now she doesn't exactly love it but she takes it okay. Auntie Olivia watched her while we went to the Christmas train (we were gone about 6 hours) and she did fine. She just won't take a bottle from me.

No hair don't care! 
I'm also thoroughly enjoying her watch Phil. She's moving her little head around and eyes and totally taking him in. I mean what in the world is she thinking of him? Because he's a mess. I can't wait to watch them when they get older- they're only 2 1/2 years apart, which is our closest babies. He doesn't really care for her too much now.

Seriously she likes to keep warm. Daddy always lights the fire for her

Not too happy but you know! My tribe! 

Meeting Julie & Jane for the first time! 

This is what she does in the morning with Daddy while he works! 

1st attempt at a Christmas photo! 

Henry always wants to hold her and be next to her! 

You know how much she loves looking in the mirror at herself while she bathes? 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Insalata Salad Florentine!

As many of you know I've been blessed (yes blessed!) to work at Williams Sonoma here in Tulsa. I've absolutely loved it. I started the fall we moved back (October 2014) as a way to get out of the house a few days a week and to get a nice discount on some much needed items (I'm sure some of you don't realize but EVERY time we had to move countries we had to buy NEW appliances, so yes, that was costly).

I haven't worked much in the last year- mainly because I was pregnant and then had little baby girl but I continue to do all of their social media and events- which I love. I have also met some of the most fun people- men and women- from all walks of life and all different backgrounds. So when I say a blessing I definitely mean it- I've really cherished my "job" there.

So on to the salad! Woo! Each year we do inventory and even though it's a bit of a pain (5 a.m. arrival time- not for me this year due to little baby girl!) it's fun and everyone brings a dish to share. So alas time for the recipe- and no- it's not mine (though I did add a few extra things!). And I'm not stingy and this salad is so freaking good it has to be shared!

Macaroni Grill Insalata Florentine
3 ounces julienne-shredded fresh spinach
3 ounces grilled chicken, sliced and chilled
1 ounce ripe Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 ounce pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/2 ounce sun-dried tomatoes, julienne cut
1/2 ounce capers
1/2 ounce sliced black olives
1/2 ounce julienne-cut radicchio
5 ounces orzo pasta, cooked and chilled
3 ounces roasted, garlic lemon vinaigrette
1/4 ounce shaved Grana Padana Parmesan
Fresh cracked pepper, for garnish
In the order listed, place all ingredients, except Parmesan cheese, in a chilled mixing bowl.
Toss and serve in a bowl. Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese and fresh cracked pepper.  

Macaroni Grill Roasted Garlic Lemon Vinaigrette
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 ounce roasted garlic
3/4 cup virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced (no seeds)
Place vinegar, honey, salt and roasted garlic in a food processor. Puree until garlic is chopped very fine.
With the food processor still running, add olive oil and lemon juice. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Notes:  I only add the sliced, grilled chicken if making for a main dish.  
Notes: I added fresh chopped basil and Cavendar's seasoning before I added in the dressing. I'm thinking you could also add in some chopped cooked bacon if you didn't want to do the chicken!

So yes thank me later- it is a bit time consuming- but worth it. And still yummy the next day. Not to mention the dressing is fantastic and can be tossed with anything!

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Arrival of Miss Stella

Well, this is my 4th child so of course this post is definitely delayed...and combined with her 1 month update! I'm so trying to keep up with this though because I LOVE looking back at Phil's ...I wish I would have done this with the other two...ah well!

So...little Miss Stella Rosalie! didn't make her debut until October 11th! Yep...3 days baby of mine has ever been early! Needless to say I was more than ready...I felt like Rachel off of FRIENDS...miserable, mean and willing to do anything to get her out!

I think the worst this time was my sister and God love her but her and Jack were on edge every single time I made a noise or grimaced in pain (I mean come on braxton contractions are not the most comfortable- especially when they hit on your sciatic nerve). Jack would yell "call 911" when I would shout out in pain! He's a bit dramatic...I don't know where he gets it from!

So on my actual due date-October 8th (and OU/TX) we hung out. Jack and Jason actually had an away game in Edmond and I told him he couldn't go (I was so worried at how quickly Phil came that I didn't want to take that chance). We had an early morning game for Henry then watched the OU/Texas game and celebrated my MIL's birthday. Late that afternoon I did start having contractions- they were every 45 or so minutes apart and then got to about 30. They lasted all the way til 10 when I was in bed. I kept thinking it was going to happen so I was going to try and get some sleep. Then they just went away. That was it. Nothing.

Then nothing the next day. We even went to the Pumpkin Patch and had a nice family morning. Then some more started again later that afternoon and then again like the night before they just totally disappeared! SO frustrating. And each time this happened I just had Jason and Olivia staring at me. I would be in the middle of a contraction and I would look over and they would be just intently watching me. IT was a bit annoying I'll tell you.

So by Monday I had decided she wasn't coming for awhile. I had an appointment set up for Wednesday and Dr. Williamson said they would more or less strip (and try and get things moving for me), so I was just waiting on that.

Monday night comes and I started feeling them again, but wasn't counting on anything so I got in bed about 10. Jason quickly fell asleep but laying there I could feel them getting more intense and closer together, so about 11 I got out of bed. Olivia (my sister) and Mia (my cousin) had been upstairs watching a movie. They came down to find me sitting on the couch by myself. (Apparently Mia had told Olivia she needed to get out of here earlier before I went into labor- well apparently she didn't!). I was sitting on the couch with my trusty contraction timer. They come in and said "Why are you up?" to which I replied "Because I'm having contractions". SO, of course, Olivia asks me if this is really it. And not 2 minutes later my trust timer says "At this point you should probably be heading to the hospital". My contractions were about 7 minutes apart then. Yep, time to go! I'm not missing out on that epidural!

Okay so here's where I always find it gets humorous- when Jason gets involved. (rolling of the eyes here). So I go to wake him up and he's so soundly and deeply sleeping and I shake his arm and say "it's time to go the hospital", which he replies "how do you know?". I mean what? This is my 4th child and I'm pretty sure I know by now. Now I'm not in a complete panic quite yet about being there but a little bit. (some of you may not know but I had Phil naturally- not by choice I'll add- and I didn't want to have to do that again so I was very much worried about getting there in time for that wonderful epidural!).

We got dressed (though I wasn't happy with Jason's first choice and told him to change shirts- ha ha!) and then I'm ready to walk out the door! Well, Jason starts going through the pantry telling me he might want to get a little snack. At this point I kinda lost it on him because he had been poking around anyway. Then he starts rummaging in the cabinet looking for something. So apparently (and Mia & Olivia thought this was quite hysterical) I told him if he didn't get in the car and I missed my epidural I was going to "pinch his head off!" I mean I may or may not have said it.

Then! I get in the car and he starts rummaging through his dang car. I couldn't believe it. At this point I'm on the phone with my Dad and my Dad even offered to come over and get me. HE said he could get me there quicker than Jason anyway - ha ha! (even though none of this was funny at the time). I swear I was being tortured.

Finally! we arrived at St. John's at about midnight. And let me just tell you that it was a slow labor. I mean with Phillip I literally arrived at the hospital at about 7:30 and he was out by 11. Lil' Star just took her sweet time. I told my Mom that she would be out by 2 a.m. Nope. We got checked in and sorted and moved to our room ( I was only dilated to like a 3). So we sat and sat and then I got my epidural- thank the Lord! I was a-okay after that! (and anyone that has had a baby naturally knows what I"m talking about!)

Now remember that part earlier when I said Jason was looking for food. Well the nurse tells us that things are going really slow and that if we wanted to rest now was a good time. So I told Jason to leave and go get something to eat. He came back and I dozed in and out of sleep for a few hours. I mean she was in no hurry. 4 a.m. passed so did 6 a.m. and NOTHING. I mean I had texted all my cousins and besties and family and I still had no news to give them by 8 a.m.

Finally they came in and broke my water and it kinda helped but not as quickly as I thought. I'm telling you I laugh because Phillip was so much like his birth- fast and furious. So I'm guessing lil' Star will be like her birth- sweet and on her own lil' time!

Then family starts arriving- still no baby! So one of the nurses tells me they're going to use a peanut ball to induce labor. I was very confused especially when they brought it in. It literally looks like a peanut. Very odd. So by this time it's about 10:00 and no baby. My Dad is there, my sister, my sister-in-law, my mom and brother, my in-law's, my cousin..all there! So they scoot everyone out of the room and put the silly ball in between my legs. And that was it. I didn't do anything (I mean technically I couldn't- my legs were nice and numb) but lay there on my side with them in between my legs. I did that for about 10 minutes on one side then the other. Then all of a sudden the doctor comes in and says "where's your husband, we need to get him in here" and I was so confused but apparently the magic peanut ball had worked and I was ready to deliver! Of course Jason was down the hallway chatting so I had to send Olivia to get him. Olivia, Jason and my sis-in-law, Amy, were all in the room when I delivered her.

And it was FAST! The nurses all came in and prepped the room and we got ready and I literally pushed 3 times. That was it and lil' princess was out! I mean I cry every time with my babies and this was just as special- our lil' girl had finally entered this world! Sweet Stella! Ah we were so in love the minute we laid eyes on her. Giving birth and then having your lil' one put on your chest is one of the most amazing experiences. I just tear up thinking about it. There are so many emotions running through you- it's still even hard to write about- you're thinking about their arrival and how you've been anticipating this very moment. You examine every little inch of their little bodies and their little faces. You think of your relationship and their life and your life together and how truly blessed you really are. It's just a blessing. One of the greatest gifts that God gives us as women and I've been so fortunate to have this 4 times. (No more though!).

She was 6 lbs, 11 oz. and came at 11:09 a.m. Then the rest of the family joined in on meeting the lil' princess! This was definitely a different experience (I mean all of my babies have been). There were so many friends and family that it was really fun. I mean the last two babies it's just been Jason and I. Everyone is examining her and wanting to know who she looks like and what features she has that resemble the boys or us. It's all pretty amusing- and LOTS of pictures- of course!

Well, that's it. Stella and I were in the hospital for 48 hours ( though I didn't have a c-section I tested positive for the Group B so they had to monitor Stella). She dropped a bit of weight- she was 6'3 when we left the hospital. And honestly it wasn't because she didn't eat well- she took to breastfeeding really quickly- she just slept a TON! I'm pretty sure the labor wore her out as well!

And then we got to go home! To our family of 6! :)
The day after my due date- pumpkin Patch and last picture as a family of 5! 

Oh sweet girl! 

Nothing sweeter! 

Isn't the hat cute? Our darling nurse made it for her! 

That's my baby girl I've been waiting for! 

And here are her big brothers- Phil's first words were "no see baby" 

I think she has Livvy's lips! 

Some super proud family- and honestly Henry is the most proud-still is and you can see it on his darling face! 

But none tops this Daddy and his lil' lady! 

Leaving to go home!