Sep 19, 2011

Sparkly Shoes

I obviously do not put much importance in my shoes - as I type this, I am sitting at my desk wearing black sandals that I have had for at least 3 years now.  I bought the same pair in brown, because I knew they fit, they went with a lot of things, and so that I wouldn't have to think about finding a brown pair.  I wore them today even though it rained last night and I walked through wet grass this morning.  When I got married, I bought a pair of sandals at Walmart (no, I'm not joking), and my friend Lindsy was so embarrassed by that she took me shoe shopping and bought me the most amazingly adorable blue heels so that I wouldn't have to wear walmart shoes on my wedding day.
My daughter is now to the point where she's about ready to be wearing shoes - at least when we go out.  I bought her a pair of Robeez before she was born, but they never seemed to fit right, so I just didn't bother buying another pair.  My sweet Meme fretted over Isabel's lack of shoes.  She even traced her foot on a piece of paper and carried that paper in her purse so that she could find Isabel some shoes that would fit.  Neither of us had any idea how they size baby shoes, so this was a necessary task, and also really cute and sweet of my Meme.  
At Katie's wedding shower, my Meme brought Isabel a pink box with glittery shoes inside.  They fit perfectly and they are crazy cute.  Isabel loves them, too.  One of the first times I put them on her, we went over to Meme's house for Papa's birthday party.  In the car, the light would hit the glitter and Isabel would look at them, touch them - she was fascinated by the reflection of the silver glitter on her shoes.
Cinderella puts it best - funny how one shoe can change your life :)  I have gone from saying when I found out I was having a girl that "girls don't always have to wear pink and ruffles" to planning outfits around sparkly shoes.  I love it and wouldn't change it for the world.

Sep 14, 2011

Well With My Soul

 "For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Phil 4:11

A lesson learned over and over and over again... or maybe I just haven't actually learned it yet. I'm all about having little reminders through my house of the woman I want to be.  This one is above my mantle.  

I found an old piece of chip board in the back of my classroom that had seen better days - it was stained, painted on, and just generally unusable for our art purposes in the class.  I didn't want to throw it away, so I thought I would make something out of it.  (symbolic, no?)  So, I printed off the letters on my computer and drew them with Pencil.  Then I used grey acrylic paint and painted around the letters.  It only took me about half an hour, and I love the look of it above my mantle.

Sep 13, 2011

Goin to the Chapel and We're...

As I have mentioned in a previous post, my sweet cousin Katie is getting married in November.  Saturday, my family and I threw her a wedding shower at my house.  I had such a fun time planning this party.  I am not going to lie, I spent HOURS on Pinterest finding ideas and planning every detail.  This was pretty much a Pinterest party.  Here are a few photos by Lisa Pittman of the event, along with links to some of the projects I created.

I wanted this party to be as colorful as possible.  I think we succeeded!  This is a photo of the table.  At the end of the table, you can see one of the decorations I made.  I made several tissue paper poofs and used them around the living room and one one the table.  Also on the table are Garlic Chicken Puffs, made by my aunt Jerri.
Here we see a photo of Nutella Cake in a Jar.  I was in charge of this particular project, and at first I was worried that this was going to be an epic failure, but after only a few failures, I finally got them to work.  The recipe on Pinterest calls for a pint sized jar, and I used baby food jars instead, which needed only 45 seconds in the microwave.  I was really worried that they were going to stink, but apparently they were awesome, because they were all gone and neither me or my Aunt got one at all!

One of my favorite food items at the shower were mini Pop Tarts on a Stick, made by my mom.  They were so good!  And apparently pretty easy, though the strawberry jam did seep out a bit around the stick.  I like that you can personalize these with sprinkles that would match your decor.

Sometimes the simple things are the things that turn out to be quite beautiful.  My aunt and I were trying to figure out what to do for beverages, and at a shopping trip to Aldi, she found sparkling juices which turned out to be the perfect accompaniment to our colorful food.

I hate the idea of games at showers, but we did have 2 things that gave Katie something to take home to remember the shower, and also got everyone involved (one intentional, and one not).   In the invitations, I sent a recipe card to everyone invited, asking them to write down their favorite recipe to share with Katie.  I was happily surprised that almost everyone brought theirs back for her!  I think this is a great thing to do at a kitchen shower.  One of our cousins even brought all of the kitchen utensils necessary to make her recipe as her gift.  I thought that was a great idea!
 Our other "activity" was quite unintentional, but ended up being hilarious and crazy fun.  I found a great wedding shower card for Katie at Border's book store - 60% off even!  Do you remember the old fish fortune tellers that would curl or flip based on the temperature of your hand?  Well, this was the same idea, only with a groom instead of a fish, and the fortune was about your relationship.
We all laughed so hard at the fortunes of the married women in the room.  Mine was "true love forever."  Big shock there ;)  The ones that were so funny were my cousin Charla, whose "groom" flipped  over about 3 times, meaning "I didn't know you were so... umm... adventurous." And my sweet Meme, who's groom flipped over as well.  She was a little embarrassed because we laughed so hard some of us were in tears.

And of course, as always, my daughter was a little ham and had a great time.  She is going to love her birthday and Christmas - ripping all the paper and playing with the boxes!

All in all, I think the shower was a smashing success.  So happy for you, KK!

Sep 7, 2011

A Pic-a-nick

Today was a rough day. I spent my morning worrying about my best friend and feeling helpless that I had to work instead of be there for her during a rough day. Then I spent my afternoon worrying about Isabel and an issue we were having at her preschool. Then I also had to throw in some worry for the state of my house and the fact that there is a shower at my house in a mere THREE days.

So when Drew got home this evening, and while we were trying to figure out what to do for dinner, I was desperately thinking of something fun and stress free. Drew had the idea of taking Isabel to swing, one of her absolutely favorite things in the world. I took that one step further and decided a picnic dinner at the park was exactly what we needed. It has been great weather this week, we haven't gotten to spend much time together lately, and it was great to get out of the house and not think about things for a bit.

We chose a neighborhood park with many names - Annie Stevens Park, Toddler Park, Red Park... Take your pick. It's a small park in a beautiful neighborhood with baby swings and small scale climb-ons.
I made Drew and I some sandwiches, and packed Isabel a cut up banana and some turkey. Isabel cracks me up with her eating lately. She LOVES food (hmm, wonder where she inherited that). She loves to try new things and loves to express how much she loves her dinner with exuberant "mmmmms". One of her favorite things lately is bananas. If she keeps eating so many of them, she might turn into one!
After we ate, we headed to the swings. Drew pushed Isabel in a baby swing and she was laughing and smiling big time. It was probably the greatest thing I have seen in a long time. She had so much fun!
As if Isabel needed another reason to adore her daddy - swings and the outdoors. We are going to have a fun fall!

Sep 5, 2011

Thoughts I Had While Cleaning

1. I'm sure that there are hovels in third world countries with dirt floors that have cleaner kitchen floors than I did until about 20 minutes ago.

2. Cleaning - really deep cleaning - is difficult while pregnant. So many of the cleaners have harsh chemicals and odors that I am sure I shouldn't be breathing, I get tired really easily, and I get dizzy when I get tired or dehydrated.

3. My house had gotten pretty bad - like, bad to the extent that I had to clean one thing to be able to clean the next, and sometimes it was pretty circular.

4. There are SO many poems about being a mom and having a dirty house.

5. I love that my sweet husband thanks me for making our house look nice, but at the same time, it makes me feel awful that this isn't the natural state of things.

6. Remember dish pan hands? Well, I have mop bucket hands. Ew.

7. I love that in a neighborhood with a mostly Hispanic population, we use cleaners with such names as Fabuloso. And it smells pretty darn fabuloso.

8. It's both sad and nice at the same time that an event at my house is one of the main ways to motivate me to clean. Honey, our house is looking kind of awful, let's have people over!

9. I clean well under pressure.

10. Wet, freshly mopped floors are a magnet to kitty paws.

11. I think alot of random things while cleaning my kitchen.

12. I threw away coupons in my kitchen that expired in early July. Wonder how long that means they had been there.

13. I need to tighten the screw in the vent cover in the den. From where I am laying, it looks like it's going to fall out of the ceiling. On one side at least, haha.

14. I don't even want to know what my AC filter looks like after the past 2 weeks.

15. One of my favorite lines from an awful country song - "I need a vacation from my life, me and my husband we need a wife."

Sep 4, 2011

Shower Invitations

My cousin, Katie, is a wonderfully unique individual.  We are close in age, and though we grew up in different cities, we have always enjoyed spending time together.  I am so happy that she has found Hunter, the man she will marry at the end of November this year.  To celebrate their upcoming nuptials, my family and I are throwing Katie a wedding shower at my house in next weekend.

I think I would like to be a party planner - especially with the help of Pinterest.  I adore planning a menu, making decorations, and planning all the details of a party.  And I love having parties at my house!

For this party, I felt like it was a good time to completely redo my living room ceiling, paint and redecorate - ok, ok, I didn't actually feel that way.  My ceiling dictated that I must do that because of a huge AC leak in my attic that soaked through the ceiling in our front room.  But now, the living room is a beautiful shade of grey and ready for me to nest, hehe.  I can not wait until the ceiling is done tomorrow so that I can get in there and get started!

Anyway, back to the shower.  I struggled for weeks with what theme to go with for the shower.  I had thought about doing a Vintage themed shower with aprons and depression glass and all that girlie stuff, but that just didn't seem to fit.

During a light bulb moment, I decided against a "theme" persay, and went with color inspiration.  Black, white and bright colors.  Seemed to be the perfect thing for Katie, and I had all sorts of ideas for a fun, non traditional shower.

More on the details after the event, but I wanted to show you the invitations I created.  This was so easy!  I used black card stock, a white opaque marker, a yellow paint pen, bright colored paper, and a stamp I found at Michael's for a dollar!  I had fun making these and I am already brain storming how to make the invitations to Isabel's first birthday!

Here's a sneak peak at the shower invitations:

Aug 29, 2011

Pregnancy 2, Belly Pic 1

Though it took some of you a while, I think most everyone has figured it out by now - Drew and I are expecting Baby #2!  We are thrilled, though it wasn't in our immediate plans, it was in God's and that is WAY cooler than my plans! 

This pregnancy is SO much different already than my first.  I have had tons of energy, and I have been nesting like crazy.  I almost have a compulsion to clean!  I think some of it has to do with taking care of Isabel - we have had work done in our house over the past week and Isabel's allergies have been awful because of it, but a lot of it has to do with the nesting instinct.

I have also been much more of a Mama Bear - very protective of Isabel (hence the cleaning), and pretty emotional.  I am just now starting to feel a few tinges of nausea, and I am praying that it isn't as bad as my pregnancy with Isabel.  I don't know how I could possible teach, take care of Isabel, take care of myself and our home, AND be as sick as I was last time.  There were many times where I would come home from work and go straight to bed because I felt so awful.  And many times where I didn't make it home before I had to lay down (thank God for a couch in the teacher's lounge!).

But thankfully, I don't remember much of that without reading things I wrote back then, and thankfully I will be mostly pregnant during the cooler months! 

About 30 seconds after I found out I was pregnant, I started showing.  It's ridiculous how fast it happened this time!  I am still wearing mostly non-maternity clothes, though my jeans are pretty tight around the waist now.

Here is my first belly picture.  I don't know how many weeks along I am, but I am guessing 6.  I will find out for sure on Thursday at my doctor's appointment.  I think I started showing this big when I was about 12 weeks last time!! 

I chose this picture not because of the awesome look on my face (ha!), but because you could see my feet... remember those ankles, they don't last for long!  Barefoot and pregnant - Love it!

You can also peep the new color of our living room.  Isn't it beautiful!  More pictures of that soon!

Chicken Thighs with Artichokes and Feta

Pinterest has changed my life.

In a good way.

I do spend WAY too much time surfing Pinterest for ideas for Katie's Wedding shower in two weeks, or Isabel's first birthday in 3 months (yes, I am already planning this!).  One thing that I have discovered about Pinterest that I absolutely adore is the food section.  It has completely opened up my culinary world!  I haven't made one of my old go to recipes in weeks because there are so many new and delicious things to try!

Tonight, I made Chicken Thighs with Artichokes and Feta cheese with a little egg pasta on the side.  Oh my gosh, I think this might be one of the top 10 best things I have ever eaten!

Not only was it delicious, it was also insanely easy to make (throw some chicken thighs in a bag with artichokes and juice, let marinate, season and pour on a baking dish and broil). 

And Isabel LOVED it, too!  You know you have a winner when you get "Mmmm" noises from her!

A few other recipes I have found on Pinterest, made and absolutely enjoyed:

Chicken Pesto Calzones - Make extra and stock in the freezer for a night you don't feel like cooking.  They are so good!  Isabel liked these, too.

Creamy Chicken Taquitos - stock your freezer with a batch of these, too.  No need to defrost, just throw right in the oven for a snack or quick dinner!

More in the works for this week.  If I discover anything else awesome, I'll be sure to post for you!

Aug 18, 2011

Photo Challenge, Day One

Day one of the photo challenge is a self portrait. Let's see how long it takes you to find what's interesting about this photo :)

Aug 17, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge

Tomorrow, I plan to embark on the 30 Day Photo Challenge I discovered on Pinterest. Take a look at the details:

Any of my readers want to take part in this challenge with me? I would love to see what you come up with, link your photos to my post, and have some people to keep me going!

Who's in?

Aug 15, 2011

Be Present

Like I've said before, I don't think I am deserving of any Mom of the year award, but I definitely strive to be the best mom I can be. It has struck me pretty hard lately how fast Isabel is growing and changing right before my eyes and I do not want to miss one second of it. So, I had two goals with the project I did this evening - our den was in need of some pizazz, and also, I wanted a visual reminder to be here, in the moment, absorbing every new thing Isabel learns and all those amazing facial expressions she has. Put away the iPad, check my email later, take my eyes off the tv, and really live in the moment.

Be Present.
This is a very simple and inexpensive project. I do not believe that there is such a thing as an uncreative person (hmm, maybe I'll write another post about that sometime), but if you are one of the people that subscribe to that lie, even you can do this project!

You will need:

A frame - mine is 8"x20" and I found it a Michael's on sale for $4.99
Large white piece of thick paper
Exacto knife
A print out of the letters
Pretty paper - I used papers I found on sale for 15 cents a sheet
First, print out the letters you want to use. I had to use two printed pages to get all my letters... Kinda like we did with the banners we printed to use at birthday parties when we were 8.

Tape the pages together if necessary, and then tape these pages to the white paper.

Using the Xacto knife, carefully cut out each letter. For letters such as the Uppercase R, make sure you save the hole in the middle to use later.

Chose what paper you'd like to use and tape it on to the back of each cut out letter (see the picture above). Use either a small piece of tape or a glue stick to adhere the center pieces of the letters with holes on the front of the paper.

Put your creation in the frame and there you have it! Awesome art and a great reminder every time you see it to be present and in the moment.

Aug 14, 2011

Aunt Marcie

This is the story of a beginning. A beautiful, happy, perfect beginning. This story will have no end, only a "to be continued..." because we are witnessing the beginning of Baby Workman.

I have known my best friend forever, Macy, since Kindergarten. We have one of those rare friendships that has stood the test of time, the test of high school, the test of boys and marriage, and college, and even a baby. No matter how long it has been since we've seen each other or talked, we always pick up right where we left off. She is as close to my sister as you can get without actually being related, and what a blessing that God thought I should have her in my life.

Macy and her husband, Chris, are wonderful people. Though we are not Catholic, Drew and I decided that they should be the "godparents" for Isabel - someone that is not a grandparent that can love her as much as we do, and they definitely do. They will make AMAZING parents. Macy has been through some major trials and tribulations in her life, but has overcome them all and always wears a smile on her face. I know they have been mulling over the idea of children for a while now, but due to some health issues Macy faced, it could not be their number one priority. Macy told me about 3 weeks ago that they were going to start trying to have a baby... yes, you read right. THREE WEEKS! When God starts moving, He certainly makes himself known, am I right??

Wednesday, Macy was sick... or so she thought. She had a fever and didn't feel well (I'd like to interject here that I knew at this point she was pregnant, even if she did not yet, haha). Thursday night, she called me - just as I had called her about a year and a half ago - with a pregnancy test with the faintest pink line. If you are a mom, I am sure you can relate to the feeling that Macy felt - "Is this right? What if I am dreaming it. I don't want to get my hopes up! It has only been a month, surely it couldn't have happened that fast!". 47 pregnancy tests later, she was convinced enough to tell her husband, haha. Ok, 47 may be a bit of an exaggeration, but she did the same thing I did - several different brands, several different times. I even took one so that she could see that it was accurate (don't worry, it said negative, haha).

Here is the Mama, still in shock and a bit overwhelmed, but already glowing with that tiny baby growing inside her. Macy, you're going to be a MOM! Can you believe it!!?!?!I honestly do not remember the last time I was excited enough to squeal and jump up and down, but that is what I did when she told me - and again that night after I got home - and again the next morning. I am still SO giddy. I get to be an aunt to the second most amazing creation on the planet (Isabel is first, of course, haha). I am already so in love with this little one. I'm sure Macy is not quite ready for the explosion of planning that is going on in my brain, but I already have ideas for the baby shower, newborn photos, and I have already planned for my mom to watch Isabel when Macy has the baby, haha.

Me and Macy... and our children. The thought still makes me tear up a bit. I am so happy for my sweet friend. We would love for our babies to be best friends just like we were - pink bike shorts and side pony tails and all, but we'll wait and see. Who knows... maybe it will be a boy, and then Macy and I could be in-laws!! Whoo, ok, slow down Aunt Marcie. Let's take this one day at a time, haha.

Aug 13, 2011

10 Things That Make Me Smile

Ten Things That Make Me Smile:

1.  My sweet family playing in bed on lazy mornings.  Daddy Drew and I become the jungle gym to our active little Isabel in between kisses and snuggles.  I love those moments.

2.  Isabel's awesome bed head - it's the craziest bed head I have ever seen, next to my dad's.
3.  My best friends - I am SO very blessed to have several amazing girl friends to grow with, laugh with, craft with, eat with, and experience life with.

4.  Rain!  After 40 consecutive days of temperatures over 100 degrees and no rain, we finally got a small sprinkle this morning.  We could use some more, but it was so sweet to wake up to a wet back yard this morning.

5. Good food - Enchiladas last night, coffee this morning, BBQ to celebrate mom's birthday last week - I love good food.
6.  Being creative.  I have a long list of supplies to get at Michael's this afternoon - so many fun things to make!

7.  God's blessings - there have been some majorly HUGE prayers answered this week - more on that in my next post, but it's definitely been cause for some smiles this week.

8.  My new classroom - There are over 100 cubbies in my new classroom - that may sound silly to you, but to an art teacher, that is cause for celebration!

9.  My husband - he's kind, funny, thoughtful, helpful, smart, strong, and he is making me pasta for lunch right now.  I love that guy.


10.  Baby laughs - there is no sweeter sound in the ENTIRE world.

Aug 12, 2011

First I'll Be a Mother

Some houses try to hide the fact
That children shelter there,
Ours boasts it quiet openly,
The signs are Everywhere.

For smears on the windows,
Little smudges on the doors,
I should apologize I guess,
For toys strewn on the floor.

But I sat down with the children,
And we played and laughed and read,
And if the doorbell doesn’t shine,
Their eyes will shine instead.

For when at times I am forced to choose,
The one job or the other,
I’d like to cook, and clean, and scrub,
But first I’ll be a MOTHER.

Aug 9, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today, we celebrate the birth of an incredible woman - my mom. I am a very lucky girl. My mom is fun, kind, generous, loving, extremely patient, and has always been there for me. We have always been close, but now that I am a mother as well, we are truly friends. She is the youngest of five kids and grew up in church from the time of conception. She always taught me what it meant to be a lady and especially a woman of God. There are so many things she taught me as a teenager that I hated to admit she was right, but now, I am so grateful for her guidance and support. She raised me in a Godly home, but let me make mistakes, and she was always there to listen and dry my tears when my way turned out to be the wrong way, which it so often did.

And in the past 9 months, she has transformed into so much more than my mom... She is now Nana to my daughter, and I wasn't sure if it was possible for her to love anyone more than my sister and I, but her eyes literally twinkle when Isabel is around. Together, they play, they read, they talk, they learn, they take naps, and they have grown such a special bond similar to what I have with my grandmother. It is so special, and I am so thankful that they get this time together.

The photo on the bottom right is my mom with my Papa, her father in law, when she found out she was pregnant with me. I love how happy she looks in this picture. She was young, and I know how many crazy emotions I felt when I found out I was pregnant... But here, she just looks happy.
The picture on the left is Nana with her grand baby the first week we were home from the hospital. I can not tell you what an incredible help my mom was that week. I honestly do not know what I would have done without her!
And finally, the photo on the top right is of my mom with Isabel on the day of her dedication at church. This picture embodies the definition of proud, and makes me tear up a little with gratitude that there is someone (several someone's actually) that love my little girl as much as me.

Happy birthday, mom. Thank you for being an awesome mom, and an even better Nana. I am so thankful for you!

The Curve Ball

Today was a rough day. One of those days where you literally don't stop moving until you go to bed, and even then it takes a good amount of time to quiet your brain. So here I am, speaking to the blogosphere in an attempt to quiet my frazzled brain, though I won't be able to publish this until tomorrow since I do not have wifi at my parent's house... and so begins the story of my long day.

This morning, I rushed to get ready for work - deciding in which shirt would be the most slimming with my grey pants, putting my hair in braids so it was cool and functional, dressing and feeding Isabel and packing her bag for a day at Nana's house, packing my lunch, installing the car seat in my car, and getting my things ready to go. With a backpack on my back, 3 bags on my arm and a baby on my hip, I set the alarm and headed to the front door. I don't know what caused me to look up, but I did, and saw large spots of brown, bubbles and leaking water on the ceiling in our living room.

We have a fantastic house. It was built in 1946 and has all the charm you'd expect with an older house - arched doorways, old, large windows, and a high electricity bill. It seems this house is no match for 30+ days of over 100 degree Texas summers. Through a large and drawn out process that I won't bore you with, we discovered that there is a clog in the drain for the air conditioning unit, and the emergency drain apparently runs right to my living room ceiling. A wonderful idea, don't you think? (Hopefully my sarcasm is coming through loud and clear over the interwebs.)

The only ways to get the dripping to stop is to a) not pour an entire bottle of Drano down the pipe that empties into your living room in hopes of clearing the clog that wasn't there and b) to turn off the AC. In my defense, I just assumed that the pipe would go all the way to the edge of the house like it is supposed to... Guess that's what I get for assuming.

Once we admitted defeat, we began packing our things to go stay at my mom and dad's house (aka Nana and Granddad). I have a pair of pjs, a dress for work tomorrow and my hair drier, but the trunk of my car was filled with a pack n play, food and clothes for Isabel, cat litter, cat food, and the cats rode in the car with Drew. So now, in a house that is used to two adults and a cat, there are 4 adults, 3 cats and a baby. Sound like a sitcom to you?

Why, you might ask, am I still awake after this hellacious day? Well, with all the excitement, my sweet daughter was up until about 11:30, Clark is learning to play the piano Aristocats style, Callie (mom and dad's cat) is hissing everytime one of my cats passes by the door, the door squeaks every time the cats come in and out, Isabel is tossing and turning, Drew's snoring, and there are new and different night time sounds that even our rain noise machine doesn't cover.

But I truly do feel better after having blabbered on to you about my troubles. Thanks for listening, ha.

All this being said, I truly am grateful for a roof over my head and my parents welcoming us into their home. The testing of your faith develops perseverance, right?

** Note: I wrote this last night at around one in the morning. Shortly after I turned off the iPad and headed to bed, Isabel woke up to eat, then threw up twice, we both had to change clothes and I had to sleep on towels the rest of the night, and Clark decided to rearrange all of mom's closets by opening the doors and dumping everything on the floor...

But, thank God, the air is fixed and we are home. I am content in my circumstances and grateful in all things that God provides for our needs and takes care and sustains us when we are weary.

Aug 7, 2011

Homemade Chili

I know that summer time isn't the season you generally think of making a big pot of chili, but it is one of Daddy Drew's favorite meals, and it happens to be the very first recipe I wrote, so I thought I would share it with you. It has a bit of a kick, but you can easily tone it down a bit.

Daddy Drew's Favorite Chili

2 lbs coarse ground beef
1 package of Chili seasoning
1 red onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 jalepenos, seeded and diced
1 can of chili beans
1 can of Rotels
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 bottle of beer
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp fajita seasoning
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

In a large pot, brown ground beef with chili seasoning.
Add diced onions, bell peppers and jalepenos and cook until beef and onions are done.

Add beans and Rotels with liquid and crushed tomatoes. Stir well.
Add 1/2 bottle of beer. Stir well. You can add more or less depending on your desired consistency.
Add spices. I recommend sprinkling them in. No need to waste dishes by actually measuring.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for a couple of hours - or until you can't help yourself :)

Serve with corn bread muffins if you wish.


Aug 5, 2011

A Few of my Favorite Things

It's no secret - I love to eat. I mean, I really really love food. I'm a self professed foodie. When I find something that I love, I want to share it with the world!
So, here are a few wonderful things I have discovered lately:

Top Left - Sparkling Cranberry Juice by Ocean Spray.  I love cranberry juice.  It is sweet without being overly sweet, good for you, and an excellent alternative to Diet DP, which is one of my addictions.  When I saw the clever commercial for the sparkling variety, I had to try it.  I LOVE IT!  It's crisp and refreshing and great for these insanely hot Texas summer days we have been having.
Top Right - Speaking of hot summer days, what summer day would be complete without a cold, ice cream treat?  Thankfully there is an incredible Skinny Cow product that satisfies my sweet tooth while helping me to maintain my girlish figure, haha.  They are SO good - you would never know they were diet.  Skinny Cow also makes a candy product that I could probably eat a whole box of in one sitting, it's that good.

Bottom Left - Angie's Kettle Corn.  I discovered this product from a sample at Central Market and I am hooked.  There is something about the combo of sweet and salty that just makes me happy.  

Bottom Right - If you live in Dallas, you should definitely check out Luckie's on Davis in Oak Cliff.  To be honest with you, I am not a huge fan of actually eating in the restaurant, especially when it's hot out.  But their food is awesome.  These are their fried green beans - oh. my. gosh.  Thinking about them makes my mouth water, haha.  Try their pulled pork sandwich and fried green beans.  You can thank me later.

Ok, now all this talk of food has me hungry!  Time to go meet my BFF for some back to school shopping!

Aug 2, 2011

Tips for Traveling with a Baby

Traveling is always an adventure when you are a parent. Little things like a stop at Pizza Inn for lunch can take a turn at a moment's notice. I can not tell you how much attention sweet little Isabel drew - smiling and waving at everyone we saw in all the little towns along the way. She did awesome in the car on the VERY long drive - 10 hours at least - even though she was sick on the way there. Here are a few tricks I learned to help traveling be much more smooth.

Tip #1 - over pack. While i was packing, I thought to myself "there is no way she will wear this many clothes in a 10 day period. Ha! We went through 3 changes of clothes on the drive there, and were planning a laundry load before we even arrived. Our healthy baby girl somehow came down with a stomach virus and the dirty diapers and a projectile "fro up," as my cousins used to say, contributed to a very yucky and difficult trip on the way. Now, when I say "over pack," I do not intend for you to pack the kitchen sink. Think about where you are going, pack accordingly. And if all else fails, every small town has a Walmart, haha.

Tip #2 - Take plenty of distractions. Isabel took some amazing naps in the car, but when she was awake, she understandably did not want to be restrained in her car seat. I had a few toys stashed in the back seat with us and would pull out a new one each time she started getting tired of the last. Which leads me to my next tip...

Tip #3 - make frequent stops. I know. You want to get there. You are tired of being in the car, and vacation is calling your name. But trust me, a few stops along the way go a LONG way for maintaining sanity in the car. On the way to our destination, we found an antique store to walk through, and on the way back, we stopped at a book store for a little while. Simply getting Isabel out of her car seat for a little while and a change of scenery went a long way to helping her be a happier baby.

Tips #4 - Even if it is hot outside, take a light weight blanket, especially if daddy is driving. Isabel sleeps much better when she is warm, and our Aden and Anais blankets were perfect for the occasion.

Tip #5 - if you can have someone sit in the back seat, it is a great help. Daddy Drew did the driving and I sat in the back seat with the girl. I was able to play peak a boo, hand her snacks, and best of all, show her Yo Gabba Gabba when all else failed.

All that being said, Isabel did a great job and it was much better than I expected. We had a lovely time and look forward to seeing Drew's family again at Christmas!

Jul 29, 2011


Hopefully you have noticed my absence from the blogosphere over the past week. I have missed sitting down and writing every evening and sharing my views with you.

Over the past week, we have been visiting Daddy Drew's family in southern Missouri. It has become a tradition of ours to visit during one of our last weeks of summer and spend time with family since we do not get to see them as often as we would like. In our pre-baby days, we could make the driving in 9 hours or less, though now it seems to take a bit longer. We go kayaking with Drew's dad, antiquing with Drew's mom, the always anticipated dinner at Grandma's house, a birthday celebration for Drew's brother, Isabel's Uncle Steven, church, visits and meals with friends, etc etc. We have truly grown to feel at home in this tiny little town, even though Drew never actually lived here, and look forward to our twice yearly visits.

This year, the theme seemed to be lineage, heritage, generations... Our visits are so far between that sometimes we do not realize how much people grow, age, and change in a 6 month period. That, and the fact that now we are introducing our daughter into our family traditions truly made this a special visit.

Drew is quite blessed to have 3 of his 4 grandparents remaining. Grammy's mom is a very young 89 years old, though you'd probably be shocked to learn she was a day over 70. I love hearing her fascinating stories about having a husband in the service and raising a baby during the middle of WW2 - long train rides to meet her husband, sleeping in train depots with a baby in tow (who wore cloth diapers, by the way. Can you imagine??). At that time, men in the army were given priority on trains, which would often leave no room for Grandma and her baby. On more than one occasion, a very nice man in uniform would pretend to be her husband so that she could get on the train to meet Ben, her real husband. Her philosophy has always been make do or do without, and she keeps and immaculate, beautiful, delicious home. And her quilts - simply amazing. I can not adequately describe the perfect, tiny stitches she has spent many years perfecting. She is truly a special individual, and one I feel incredibly blessed to know and be related to, even if just by marriage.

We also got the opportunity to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa Dodd while on our trip. I am so glad Isabel got to spend some time with Grandpa. He reminds me so much of Drew and Drew's dad - the mischievous smile, the witty jokes, the twinkle in his eye. Sadly, his health has been fading fast lately, which makes our time with him this week even more special.

Drew and I have been incredibly blessed with a strong, supportive line of Godly men and women to look up to and learn from. I have always thought it strange how our culture often looks down upon the old, when really we should be seeking to learn from them. The Bible says that grey hair is a crown of splendor, and that wisdom can be gathered from those with experience.

Do you have someone like this in your life? Are you blessed with more than one? What is the best thing they ever taught you?

Jul 22, 2011

Want! recently debuted this new shirt with the Muppet characters that I am totally in love with.  Being a child of the Muppet/Sesame Street generation, this shirt stirs all sorts of wonderful memories in my mind.  I can picture myself in my bedroom with the bright yellow window trim and the old, boxy tv watching Ralph play the piano, Miss Piggy swoon over Kermy and Animal rock out on the drums.

My favorite memory of the Muppets?  A Muppet Family Christmas.  Easily one of my top 5 Christmas movies of all time, and if you know how much I love Christmas movies, you know that's a big deal.  The basic premise of the movie is Fozzy Bear takes everyone up to surprise his mom for Christmas... all the Muppet Characters and Sesame Street characters are there, and Animal has to sleep on a hanger on the wall, haha.The Christmas turkey flirts with Gonzo's chicken girlfriend while running from the Swedish Chef who loses interest in cooking him when he spots Big Bird. Take my advice... buy it now so you are ready when Christmas rolls around... or turn down your AC, bundle up and have Christmas in July.

And go ahead and buy the shirt for an early gift to yourself.

Jul 21, 2011

Safe, Happy Place

*Dear Readers, Please take a moment and enjoy this wonderful story from my friend, Kathryn, about her journey into motherhood and what motherhood is like from her perspective.  Kathryn and I met online during our pregnancies, and our children were born less than a week a part.  We have enjoyed this crazy journey together, and I look forward to watching Noah grow.  Happy Reading!*

Even before he was born, my son, Noah, kept me grounded through the best and worst events. I could not have anticipated the events that happened during my pregnancy and shortly thereafter. And while I have an amazingly supportive and loving husband, there is something all together different about your child - born or unborn - and your child's love.

After what seemed like an eternity, it happened. My husband and I were staring at a little stick that simply said "pregnant". I think shock, disbelief and the utter joy went coursing through our veins. It was finally happening, we were going to have a baby.

At the time we found out, we were in the midst of planning our celebratory wedding and reception. I would be four months pregnant on the date of the event. So now, on top of planning, I had another little being to think about and factor in to things - the dress, the food, the honeymoon . . . I think my stress level started going through the roof. But, there was Noah, tiny as could be in my belly, to remind me of what was important. He needed a safe, happy haven.

For the next few months, it was quite easy to adapt myself to being pregnant and doing what I needed to do in order to ensure a healthy baby. I made sure to eat as well as I could, get enough rest and keep the stress level as low as possible. That was incredibly difficult at times. As the wedding approached, I felt like there was a conspiracy to try and upend everything - vendors whose costs seemed to mysteriously increase, budget constraints, falling out with my maid of honor, and worst of all, a father who was trying to be happy about losing his little girl to another man in addition to becoming a mother. There were more than a few occasions where I just wanted to melt down. But I could not . . . My son needed a safe, happy place. I had to stay focused and grounded.

The week my husband and I returned from our honeymoon, I received some incredibly jarring, life altering news. My emotions took over and I sobbed. I sobbed uncontrollably, I could barely speak, I could barely process what I had just learned. At that moment, there was no safe, happy place. Up to this point, for five months, I was able to let everything roll off my back and not bother me because I knew that is what I needed to do. But at that moment, I felt as though my life was crumbling before me and I couldn't let it roll off my back. For a few days, I walked around in a haze, I didn't talk much to anyone and I just went through the motions of existing. I knew my son needed more . . . He needed me. I had no choice but to put my feelings aside and give him what he deserved . . . A safe, happy place.

When Noah was barely three months old, my father suffered a massive heart attack and was admitted to the hospital. In California. He remained there until he passed away at the end of February. I can't even put into words what that did to my life. All I remember from that day is that I left work, came home and held my son so tight and so close I didn't ever want to let him go. I cried into his sweet smelling baby hair and told him all about his grandfather as he nursed and dozed off in my arms. His presence gave me my safe, happy place.

They, whoever they are, say that your child(ren) change everything. It couldn't be more true. From the moment we knew he existed, Noah has been the driving force in reminding me of what is important, of what I need to do. Just like that. No questions, no arguments, nothing. Just, "Here I am!". Noah is my anchor, my heart. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Jul 20, 2011

For Those Precious Seconds When You Have Time To Read

As you know, I am a mother to an 8 month old little girl, who is VERY active and requires a lot of attention.  I do not have time to read books other than Go Dog, Go! or The Very Hungry Caterpillar very often, though sitting down with a good book is one of my favorite things in the whole world.

When Isabel was born, I spent a lot of time reading parenting books when she was awake at 2 in the morning looking for a mama snack.  I honestly hope I never see another parenting book!  I love new ideas and new perspectives, but I have found that using my instincts and doing it our way is almost always better than trying to stress myself out by letting my baby cry in her crib or trying to follow a strict routine.

So, in the past few months I have been trying to find new books that peak my interest.  I have successfully found two, well more than two, but two that I am wholeheartedly gung-ho about recommending to you.

The first is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.  Set in the months after World War II on Guernsey Island, this book is written as a series of letters back and forth from an author to a man who bought one of her books - not a book she had written, but one he bought second hand with her information in the cover.  This is one of those books where you become quickly and thoroughly involved with the characters and wish so badly that they were real and could come over and have coffee with you.  Before I was even half way through with the book, I was already planning the next time I would read it, and that is very odd for me.  I did not want it to end, and I am very sad that the author passed away and will not be writing 100 more just like this book.  There are some very real, very sad topics addressed in this book, but it is so heartwarming, and so charming and filled with happy things as well that the sad topics just add to sucking you in and making you want to sleep with this book under your pillow.  One of my friends said that the letter format made her feel as though she were missing out on something, but to me, it made me feel like I was more involved.  You know how sometimes you can't find something to talk about with someone you live with everyday, but someone you see only once a week you can talk to for hours?  That is kind of how I view the letter layout of this book. 
In short, I give this book 100 thumbs up and recommend it to everyone.

This book is not a work of fiction, but it is one that will forever hold a spot on my bookshelf (my very full bookshelf that gets weeded frequently).  The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond, author of the amazing blog, Pioneer Woman, is a wonderful, feel good cookbook.  If you are counting calories, this is not the book for you, but if you like a few stories mixed in with amazing photos and truly delicious recipes, I hope you will give this a try.  I have made several things from the book already and have found them all to be equally delicious.  I have another of her books on my list of road trip reads - "From High Heels to Tractor Wheels".  I'll let you know what I think once I finish.

What is your favorite summer read?  Anything you couldn't put down?

Isabel and Her Kitty

We have two kitties. Lois is the black kitty. Drew and his dad found her in a ditch in Missouri as a kitten, and she has been eating like it's her last meal ever since. She once ran off with an entire butterflied pork chop. She really has no interesting Isabel at all, but she is snuggled under my arm right now as I type (sometimes she thinks my typing fingers are an invitation for pets... She's kinda crazy).

Then there is Clark. He was like my first child. We adopted him as a kitten when we were newly weds and nursed him through being sick one summer while we were home from school. He's a very sweet kitty, and the reason for this post.

From the moment we brought Isabel home from the hospital, Clark was interested. The first few months, the interest was more "What is making all this noise?", but it soon turned into a protective, friendly attachment.

When she was very little, she would inevitably fall asleep on our bed while we were getting ready for church. Clark loved this, and would always come and nap with her. We eventually had to stop letting him do this because he would get a little too close, but it was very sweet none-the-less.

There is rarely a time that Clark is not in the same room as Isabel. He sits on the dining room table while she is in her high chair eating, he lays on the couch or on the floor next to her quilt on the floor in the den while she plays. His newest way to spend time with Isabel is to get under her feet while she is playing in the exersaucer.

This is the funniest thing. She will be kicking away, bouncing, moving all around, and Clark just sits there, taking the abuse like it is the best pets he's ever gotten. Isabel will look up at me with a very confused look on her face and then go right back to playing and kicking.

Clark'e fondness of Isabel is so endearing. He'd be a super cool kitty even if he wasn't named after Superman.

Jul 18, 2011

Looking Back

I'm feeling a bit nostalgic this evening.  I was doing a bit of cleaning earlier while Isabel was hanging out at Nana's house and ran across this outfit -

It is so hard for me to believe that Isabel was EVER that small.  Our first 3 months together were hard.  Very hard.  It seems like the nurse handed her to me crying and she cried for the next several months, though I know that isn't true.  I didn't realize until later that I dealt with a little post partum depression, and that, coupled with lack of sleep and a baby with tummy troubles was enough to have successfully made me wish I could have put her back in the womb a few times.  It was very hard to enjoy her tiny little body, and those awkward facial expressions and those tiny little socks - thinking about those tiny socks nearly brings me to tears they are so precious!!

And now, here we are, 8 months after my sweet Isabel came into this world and I can barely remember any of those sleepless nights or any of the stress associated with it.  All I really remember (unless I look back at facebook statuses or blog entries) is how sweet she smelled (still does, most of the time), and how she would hold my hand to go to sleep and rocking and singing and how much she needed me.  And I miss it!  Isn't that crazy!?

I had "dinner" with one of my BFF's, Rebecca, this evening and we were talking about how big Isabel is getting and how much more fun she is now.  It's so true.  She laughs, she is ticklish, she plays and communicates in her own little way.  It seems like she does something new every day and it is so much fun to experience a fresh life through her.  And occasionally she will still snuggle a little bit.  Every day that passes, I enjoy her more and more.  We have definitely come to an understanding and have learned more about each other.  If you told me 7 months ago how much I would love her, I would never have believed you.  Now, I love her so unconditionally and so thoroughly it's a little weird for me.  I can't even imagine that my mom loved me this much.  Totally puts a new perspective on our relationship.

I am so excited to experience new things with Isabel in the coming days, months years.  She reminds me that there is joy and hope.  And one day, maybe she will have her own baby and she will learn to love that baby unconditionally and will maybe see a glimpse of how much she changed my life.

Jul 17, 2011

Bedtime Story

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”
- Emilie Buchwald

Being an artist, I often have people ask me if I hope Isabel is artistic when she grows up. I honestly do not care if she is an artist or in the circus, but there are 3 things I hope for my daughter. First of all, that she would love the Lord with all her heart and that she will use that love to be a guideline for the decisions that she makes. Second, that she would be genuinely happy - joyful even. And thirdly, that she would love to read.

Daddy Drew and I love to read. To us, reading is educational, entertainment, escape... It takes me to places I would not otherwise go and, I believe, makes me a more well rounded individual. There is so much that can be gleaned from reading - far beyond learning facts, reading helps to develop and maintain your imagination.

With this in mind, I try to make it part of our nighttime routine to read to Isabel. Bath, jammies, book, bottle bed. Tonight, our book was Noah & the Mighty Ark by Rhonda Gowler Greene and illustrated by Santiago Cohen.

This is a very simple, yet lovely version of the Noah story. The story is written in a simple rhyming scheme. As a graphic designer, I appreciate the layout and font used in this book, and also found it unique and wonderful that some words are emphasized by variations in text size and spacing.

The illustrations are beautiful. Very painterly images that seem to go perfectly with the theme of a giant rain and animals on the ark. The colors are vibrant without being obnoxious and definitely hold Isabel's attention.

All in all, this is a great children's story that I will not mind reading over and over again.

Tomorrow night, I plan to break out the board book version of The Lorax that I picked up at Half Price Books yesterday!

Jul 16, 2011

Follow Me on Pinterest

I recently received an invite from Pinterest.  Have you heard of this?
As far as I can tell right now, it is a place where you can gather all the inspiration you find on the interwebs in one convenient location and share the images with your friends.  Really cool concept.

I haven't gotten very involved yet... still trying to figure it out.  So far, my biggest complaint is that it is nearly impossible to "pin" something from my ipad, which will severely limit my use of the site.  I am rarely on our desktop computer these days.

So, check out my Pinboard, but don't be upset with me if it doesn't get updated often.  :)

Mama Marcie on Pinterest

3/4 of a Year

If a picture is worth a thousand words, here's 4,000 words and some change:

Today, the 16th is Isabel's 8 month "birthday." I can not believe it has been 8 months already... Time is seriously flying by. To celebrate, we went to a park today at White Rock Lake to play on the swings. Here are some photos of our adventure.

I had to snap this photo fast because she did not want to keep these awesome sun glasses on. Gah! Isn't she precious?

Isabel and her daddy. They have bonded a lot this summer.

Serious Isabel. Thinking about those swings.

Isabel and mommy. Don't you love this smile? It's fantastic. Such a happy little girl!

Happy birthday Isabel! Mommy loves you!

Jul 14, 2011


Today, I was able to substitute teach at the preschool where I worked for several years during college. I was teaching in the 4 year old room and was reminded about the importance of play. I had a fellow parent tell me this week that they preferred for their children to have a more structured schedule rather than simply playing. To me, I think it is possible, and even necessary, to incorporate both into a child's routine.

“It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.” Leo F. Buscaglia

We all learn differently. Some of us are visual learners, some auditory, and some kinetic (learning by doing). For a young child, what can you do to incorporate ALL of these learning styles? Play!

The morning routine for the 4 year olds I was with today was "free play" until everyone arrives. Today, the kids were using huge wooden blocks to create a pirate ship. One of the reasons that I absolutely love this age is that they still want the teacher to be involved in their activities. "Mrs. Marcie, come on the pirate ship with us. This is the super long plank, and this is the hole where we drop food for the sharks."

This simple comment lead us to discussions about what sharks eat, what kind of sharks we had heard of before, where did the sharks live, what else lives in the ocean, what do pirates wear (one little boy was convinced that pirates wear belts), and so many other questions. Kids are WAY smarter than most adults give them credit for.

At the bottom of the photo, you can see the plank. This is the part of the "game" where they decided that the pirates needed a nap, haha. This was the bunk on the pirate ship.

Now, everyone can imagine up ways to play with 4 year olds... They help you because they are so creative. But what about an 8 month old? Oh the ways! When Isabel had her meeting with ECI about her slow development in sitting (she has completely caught up, by the way), they told me to make everything a game. They had me sit behind her and hold her hands while she was sitting and show her how to use her hands to brace herself if she started falling. All kids find that falling sensation funny, at least when they know mommy is right there to catch them (think about daddy throwing baby up in the air, bouncing on the bed, the knee/horsey game)! She loved doing this, and within days she was sitting on her own.

Now we use play to help her learn all sorts of things. Stacking cups help her learn colors, sizes, in and out, cause and effect when she knocks them over, etc. Bath time teaches her sink and float, wet and dry, etc. And if you feel comfortable incorporating technology into your play, the possibilities are endless.

This is a "painting" Isabel created using an app on my iPad called Paint Sparkles. As with most things at her age, the main thing she can learn using this app is cause and effect. When she touches the screen, colors appear and she hears music. She also gets to touch, feel, see, experience - not to mention see the pretty colors.

I'm not saying this is easy - there are so many times that I am exhausted and I would much rather just lay on the couch and watch tv, but play is energizing and mood enhancing - mutually beneficial for mommy and baby.

“Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn’t taste good” Lucia Capocchione

Jul 12, 2011

The kitchen

All that talk about kitchens yesterday got me doing some online research about how to make a play kitchen for Isabel. There are some great tutorials out there and I totally feel confident I could make one of these (maybe with a little help from my Papa, haha).

Check out these awesome ideas:

The projects shown above are from the links below:

Create (bottom left)

Giggbleberry Creations (bottom right)


A Little Lovely

So, friends and family, will you help me collect items to use in creating this wonderful learning tool? When it is finished, I will post my own tutorial and host a kitchen party!

Here's what I need:
- a piece of furniture to repurpose (desk or tv cabinet)
- knobs, handles, etc.
- a round colander without handles or a large metal bowl (to use for the sink)
- Old kitchen utensils and small pots.

I wish I had a desk now! I'd go get to work, despite the 100+ degree temps outside!

My Blogging Goal **

I'm a "new" mom.

My daughter is nearly 8 months old. I have still not mastered diapering or bathing. I work. I have been criticized for working. It took me 3 hours to get my daughter to sleep tonight. She has a cold and I do not have the answers to make her feel better. She is sleeping in my bed, even though I will get 15 comments on this blog post about how I should not let her sleep in my bed.

All this to say, I am not a perfect mother, but I love my daughter more than life. This blog is not a place to come if you are seeking parenting advice or tricks to get your kiddo to not sneeze at the exact moment you get a spoonful of carrots up to her mouth. But I still hope that you find value in the words that I type each night.

My goal is that this blog will serve two main purposes: 1. To keep the Grandmas updated with stories and pictures of their grandbaby, and 2. To be a lighthouse to other new mommies - to share stories of my triumphs and failures and share my journey through motherhood, and to help you rest assured that you are not alone when you are up at 2 in the morning and everyone else in your house is asleep (including the cats!).

One of my good friends wrote on an advice card at my baby shower that motherhood can sometimes feel very lonely. I thought, in my giant pregnant state, that she must have lost her mind - my mother was never alone! How can you be lonely when you are surrounded by people all the time? In the next few months, I came to know and understand what she meant, and also repeated her words of advice many times - you are never really alone. There are so many other mommies out there doing the same thing you are doing! I hope that if you stumble across my blog at 2 in the morning when you are up for the 5th time and can barely see straight that you will find comfort in knowing another mom feels your pain (and it does get immensely better! I promise!).

And if you are a mommy who has already been through that state, I hope you can sympathize with my stories of my daughter falling off the bed, or letting her chew on a big pickle. I also hope that you will comment and share your stories and tricks and tips as well!

Now, on a lighter note: Baby toys. Anyone else cringe at the idea that play kitchens are marketed at little girls? Must we start shoving our children into stereotypes before they can even walk? I guess when weighed against the cuteness factor, the social implications aren't as important, haha. ;) So, here is a picture of my daughter playing with her kitchen... in a dress, HA!

** hopefully you did not notice and this p.s. is not necessary, but I took Nyquil about 10 minutes before writing this post. So, if it seems very... Nyquilly, now you know why.