Thursday, March 29, 2012


Mom's birthday was last week and Sarah made this:
I don't generally even like any cake that's not lemon or chocolate, but I am still thinking about this one. Maybe it's because I haven't had sweets since Lent began, but I think really it's just because it was that good.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dinner | macaroni and cheese

Rare in this house that there is ONE version of ONE meal that everyone in this house will eat. The baby is still working on chewing solids, the toddler would be content to eat chicken, broccoli and carrots every single night of the week, the vegetarian, well, he's a not-so-vegetable-loving vegetarian, and the cook (that's me) will eat just about anything and always makes at least 2 variations of any one dish.

I've gotten very good at coming up with quick ways to alter most things into a vegetarian version using a variety of "fake" meat products and vegetables, but I really just love when I can make one thing with no changes and no extra pots and pans. Macaroni and cheese the way my dad used to make it is a staple that makes it into the rotation about every other week.

I've made a lot of macaroni and cheese recipes, but this one that really has no recipe at all is one of my favorites. Everything my dad cooks is my favorite, really. No rue, no making a cheese sauce, no spending $20 to make mac and cheese. Just layering tons of cheese, tomatoes, macaroni, and onion in a pan. Easy. And I suppose you could add a salad or sprinkle in some broccoli, but why do people always try to ruin intentionally non-healthy recipes with all of that healthy stuff. I guess I'm a purist.

Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes
There are no set measurements for this. Everything is "to taste". It can be prepared in any size baking dish, or even in a single layer on a cookie sheet if you like the macaroni extra crunchy. We eat a ton of it, so this recipe makes a large casserole which would feed probably at least 6 civilized humans.

1 pound macaroni, cooked and drained according to package (make sure to add lots of salt to the water)
1/2 onion, diced finely
garlic powder / granulated garlic (not garlic salt, that's totally different)
1 lb. cheese, grated (probably won't need all of it, but the more, the better)
1 14 oz. can crushed or diced tomatoes (both are good, just depends on how you like it and which one you have in the cupboard)
1 small can tomato sauce
small pats of butter
salt and pepper (lots!)

Preheat oven to 425.
In a large casserole pan, sprinkle a few pieces of butter, followed by a layer of macaroni. Sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, and garlic. Sprinkle onions on top. Drizzle tomato sauce and tomatoes and cover the entire layer with cheese. Repeat until the pan is full. Throw it in the oven for about 45 minutes or until crispy on the edges and all melted inside. The longer you cook it, the deeper the tomato flavor becomes, which is most definitely a good thing.


I came home the other day to find this:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


"I'm mad! I'm maaaaaaad!!!!" you screamed from behind the play room door where you had put yourself in a time out. Only minutes before we had been playing, laughing, and having fun. Then you got in trouble for God only knows what (who can keep track, really) and your response to my telling you no was to chuck a Hot Wheel at my face. I sent you upstairs while I wiped the blood from my lip and tried to think rationally. Is it terrible that if you were anyone other than my sweet boy I probably would have thrown that Hot Wheel right back at you?

It is so hard knowing the right thing to do. To know what an "appropriate" response to any given situation may be. To react in a way that is authoritative without being mean; to discipline in a way that teaches, rather than serves only to punish. There is no chapter in "The Happiest Toddler on the Block" about handling small metal objects being thrown at your face at point blank range. I've looked. I have no idea what I'm doing, all I know is that it always feels like the wrong thing.

"Sorry"s were said and tears were shed on both parts and all the while Baby Beck was downstairs screaming his head off (add that to the equation and the difficulty of the situation increases exponentially) and, unbeknownst to me, making his way up the first five stairs. Must put up baby gate asap. Ten minutes have now passed and in that time you have screamed and cried again, offered a toy to your brother with a smile, closed yourself behind the door and growled a bit, giggled like a crazy person, and hugged me and told me you love me.

I suppose that being three gives you license to just experience emotions how they come. I, on the other hand, am still having to hold back my anger at the now swelling lip (though the spontaneous "I love you" helped immensely). Why can't I have a time out? I'm the one who needs it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

One more to go

Beck's birthday party is this Saturday and, other than design and mail the invites, I haven't done a thing. Planning on something small, simple, handmade, and (obviously) Baby Beck-centered. Must get to work.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A very happy day, indeed

Anderson turned 3 on Monday. Last year Gabe was in Austin and I was in the hospital on his birthday and we have felt guilty about it ever since. This year we both ditched work so we could celebrate all day long with our favorite 3 year old. 

The day started with decorations
and a sad, backwards number 3 pancake.
We played with new cars
 and made roads for new cars
 and watched cartoons about cars. And grabbed cars.
 We made a tent and read about the zoo.
 We rode the train
 and you showed off your new pose.
 We played on the playground.
 Even Daddy.
 And Baby Beck
 who is just too cute with his static-y hair.
 There were spontaneous kisses
 and a trip to the zoo.
 We saw goats
 and brushed their hair
 and told them it was your birthday
 and measured our wing span.
 I even snuck in a photo.
 That's a pretty giant bear back there.
 We went for an early dinner at Ruby's because you wanted a hamburger
but you ordered a hot dog.
 The choochoo souvenir did not leave your side.
 We hoped they would bring you cake and sing, but an ice cream sundae and your mom and dad singing was good enough.

 And we finished the day on the carousel.
 One of the best days we have all had in a long time. Birthdays are the best.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy 3rd Birthday, Anderson

Every year on this day I take a few moments to sit back and reflect upon the day you were born. To re-live that day, to transport myself back to that moment, to experience once again the joy, the excitement, the amazement of becoming a mother for the first time.

This day marks the day our lives forever changed; the day that responsibility took on a new meaning and the day that I fully understood what it meant to put myself and my feelings aside for someone else.

Anderson, you are my greatest teacher. Through you I have learned to be patient, to be gentle, and to love unconditionally. You have taught me how to laugh and that nothing is ever so bad that an "I love you, mommy" can't fix it. You have taught me that being a "boy mom" is truly a gift.  I am beyond lucky to have you.

I never claim that anything I have done has made you who you are because I am pretty sure you were just born a good boy. You are happy. You eat well. You have loved your baby brother since the day we brought him home. You rarely cause any trouble and you have very few bad days. (Which, from what I understand, could totally change now that you're 3. I could totally be in therapy this time next year.) You are kind and you absolutely love to laugh.

Happy birthday, my love. May this next year be filled with wonder, discovery, and amazement. You make me and your daddy so proud and our lives are better because of you. We love you so.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Monster trucks, kitty cats, and rainbows

Anderson, your party was a success. You wanted monster trucks, kitty cats, and rainbows, and that is exactly what you got.  The monster trucks and kitty cats weren't much of a surprise, but the last minute addition of rainbows kind of threw me for a loop. I guess when you're three, that's just how your mind works. Nothing has to "match"; nothing needs to make sense to anyone but you. I even Googled "monster truck and kitty cat party" thinking maybe, somewhere, some other little boy had made such a request, but apparently you are as unique and original as I've always known you to be!

And so it was. Monster trucks, kitty cats, and rainbows all wrapped into one little family party. We had to have the party inside due to a rainy day (no rainbow, though- how perfect would that have been?!) and I was very glad we kept the numbers small for that reason alone. (Not to mention the fact that if there had been anymore kids in the play room while hitting at the piƱata, such a bad idea, surely someone would have gotten a bat to the head!) The goal was a small-scale, homemade birthday party on a budget and we had exactly that. As I was getting wrapped up in something non-significant while preparing everything, it took Daddy to remind me that this party was for you, not me. You don't care if I spend $10 or $1000, if the napkins match the plates, or if the candy bags have a matching sticker, so long as you are with your friends and family. You're pretty great like that.

You played, you laughed, you ate way too much candy and you loved every bit of it. You talked about your party all night long and woke up still talking about it. You are so loved and it is so fun to be able to give you exactly what you want for your special celebration. Happy birthday, baby boy! (But next year, please give me a simpler request for your cake. That rainbow cake was just a bit much!)