Friday, August 31, 2012

Project 52 | Week 35 | Sniffles

Sniffles

I've been wiping and trying to suck as much out as possible.
But what kid likes a thing being stuck up his nose?
So favorite foods it is because all he wants is rice chex otherwise.
Poor bubba.



Project 52 | Week 34 | Best Friends

Best Friends

Or he wishes they loved him as much he loves them.Such a funny little guy.
They put up with him because he drops so much food.
Whatever works....
They put up with him because he drops so much food.Whatever works....
(how did I totally forget to put this up last week?  I swear I've lost my mind.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Change of Plans

I'm really struggling with something in Coach and I's life right now and it occurred to me maybe writing it out will help me; it usually does.  Coach is seriously considering leaving teaching.  If he didn't have a strong feeling obligation to stick out this year and wouldn't possibly lose his teaching certificate he'd be gone ASAP, he is currently at the point of frustration where he would leave if he could right now.  
I guess I should back up.  Thursday night at a church thing he was helping his dad with, a man his dad knows in the men's club mentioned that his company is desperate for people with math backgrounds.  He asked Coach about his, which of course ended in Coach explaining his degree in Math from UT, his work at his current school growing the calculus program, and inevitably ended in him telling the guy how 3 years ago the calc program was 24 kids (of which 6 finished the year) and this year he has over 50 kids enrolled in 2 different types of calculus, over 3 blocks.  In a low-income high school.  And he can answer any math question you throw at him in seconds.  He's so math smart; just don't ask him to write a sentence with correct grammar or spelling.  yesh.

The guy jokingly offered Coach a job on the spot making 20k more than what he's making now with better benefits and better hours (only 60 hour weeks, instead of the 65-80 he does during season).  The guy gave him his card and told him to contact the company if we were interested in learning more.  
Come Monday, Coach's room at school is 88 degrees because no one has fixed his AC unit (3 weeks of emails and phone calls with no response from the people supposedly handling it), and he's told by a student before his 2nd block class that they have him for 4th block.  4th block he says?  He doesn't teach a 4th block class.  Well I guess he is now: 23 kids who failed the state standardized test are now in a class he's teaching with no curriculum and even the admin doesn't know what he's supposed to do with them all semester.  Nice. To say he's frustrated is an understatement.  Today he finds out from his Assistant Principle that the other APs and Principal (?) are mad at him.  For what, he has no idea--it's worse in the admin with drama than the kids.  This from a Principal who had 30 teachers leave last year.  From a AAAA school, aka that's a crap ton of teacher attrition.  

Here's where I'm having a hard time dealing--he is talking about leaving teaching and coaching, something he has always been passionate about.  To do something with math.  Which he is also passionate about, but we're talking a desk job from 8-5 M-F 52 weeks a year.  This sounds wonderful to me on that level.  No take-home work.  No students needing rides from their house after their parents have abused them (physically or verbally) and throw them out (truth), no kids needing him to stay late so another family member can pick them up and take them somewhere safe (truth), no late night phone calls with more horror stories.  But to quit teaching? He's so good at it, he makes these amazing connections, helps these kids (see above, obviously).  But our benefits with the teacher system are HORRIFIC and it will cost us probably almost $6,000 for maternity care with the next baby because they cover nothing  and pass on every cost to the teacher--our take-home pay is pathetic after the deductions for healthcare.  

I grew up in a world that your career caused to you move cross country and changed inevitably over the years--but you always had a stability in working for the army and the strange safety and community it provided. I've always missed that in civilian life and I've been in this life longer than we were army kids.  Maybe it's that I always assumed I'd marry back into that life because it's always been what's more comfortable.  I think there's some serious anxiety thinking about this huge life change but still being the same--how does this work for most people?  Leaving teaching would change our whole life, everything in our world revolves around football, school, grading, and all the crazy demands--always has even when I was working full time.  But we still have no community and what community we had with teaching will be lost too.  

Coach and LTzey (aka my sister's husband) have always had a good relationship, since they met.  Coach has always joked with LT about joining the Army so he can bother him from closer proximity.  Now he's asking me if he's to old (almost) and if it'd be possible (probably not).  That scares me too.  I know he's partially joking about that, but it makes me lock up.  The only plus side to this life is knowing we are going to be in this house forever (also scares me a bit and I don't know what to expect from that either), our children will be raised here and have the same friends their whole life, be close to Coach's family.  For Coach, what if he finds some awesome job not here?  It's possible.  He's smart enough to do some scary math things, we have friends who do that sort of stuff for the government and he's called them (!) to see what his possible options are there in that area too.  What does this mean for us?  

In short, I don't know what to even say when he asks me what I think.  The dust will settle eventually with whatever we're supposed to be doing.  But this whole things is so huge for us as a family.  Everything could change.  Not worse but change is change.  Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Freezer Meal: Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

Another freezer meal in the deep freeze.  This one is also adapted from the idea I got over at Everyday Food. Also, like the previous recipe, you could add whatever veggie's you like. I think it would taste amazing with some winter squash, but that's me. 

Also, here's the taco seasoning recipe again if you missed it the first time. :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer Cooking

Summer is over in our house, Football is back and Coach is gone.  We miss him.  Lots of play-dates at the mall play area since it's still too hot to play outside.  Little boy misses his Daddy all day, but it's ok--just an adjustment.

It was a good summer for getting some cooking and experimenting done though.  I've been having a ball playing with recipes, using my pinterest stash of saved items, and using my new-to-me ice cream maker (yum). I've also had a lot of excuses: my sister and I whipping up a few things at her house, a few parties, and Coach being home to watch Lloyd while I get my chef on. So here's some of the stuff we've been dining on this summer, which seemed appropriate now that Coach is back at school.
  • This Strawberries and Cream sponge cake roll. Was amazing, made 3 of them for a 50th birthday party celebration. YUMMMMM. Used all the egg yolds left over to make ice cream, what a bummer. :)
  • Martha Stewarts Strawberry Ice cream (thanks to my mom's ice cream maker coming home with me), only I made it with cherries. They've been so good this year.
  • These super rich oreo pops for my Brother-in-Law's Marine graduation party.
  • This high protein "cheesecake" made with cottage cheese, plain gelatin, and jello was amazeballs. And somewhat guilt free.  
  • AMAZING potstickers (we ate the entire tray in one sitting. woops).
  • Again with these chicken and spinach stuffed shells (lloyd's favorite dinner, maybe ever).
  • This taco seasoning will change your life... or at least help you season it better.
  • Summer zucchini bites. Must make again, Lloyd was in heaven.  So were we actually....
  • Coffee Ice Cream.  holy cow it's good. I used a chocolate, whiskey espresso bean and it has hints of the makers mark whiskey. Such a nice ending to the day.
  • Peanut Butter Ice Cream, you will die.  Must use the crunchy peanut butter--the texture is divine!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Project 52 | Week 33 | Chores

Chores

Start early.
They might not even know it's a chore.
But it also might backfire.

Exhibit A
We started having Lloyd feed the dogs (with help).  He loves it.  He knows when they get fed and how much.  Although he does have a propensity to spill the scoop, so he gets a little assistance.  He loves it and doesn't even realize it's a chore, probably because it happened on accident just because he liked to play with the scoop so much.  Only now if the extra pantry is open for any reason, he thinks it's feeding time and makes a beeline for the dog food and starts to fill the bowls.  And sometimes you can't get to him soon enough and they get a little extra food in the middle of the day (exhibit A).  

No harm, no foul.  Happy dogs, happy baby, happy Mommy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Freezer Meals: Tortilla Casserole

So since we're trying to get pregnant again I'm terrified of suddenly feeling as crud as I did with Lloyd.  And unlike before, we do not have 2 jobs and cannot afford (nor want) to eat out as much as we did those first 16 weeks.  I remember how awful eating was and cooking was agony.  If I could cook, by the time it was done the smell of it was making me so sick I couldn't even eat it.  Major let down.  Hence the 12-15 pounds I lost those first 14 weeks.  Oh Zofran.....
Anywho, this time I want to be prepared.  Just in case.  Especially since we have a little guy who loves his food and I want him to remain the great, healthy eater he is already.  So I've pulled out recipe's that I know freeze well.  Here's one I just cooked and slid into the freezer.  The original idea was from Everyday Food, but I altered it so much it's practically a Gilmore original and I just have typed it here.  

A few notes: I split the recipe into 2 small freezer pans, instead of 1 large one but that's my preference.  I also added bell peppers and zucchini to the veggies, you could make it anything you like.  I also used the corn and black bean salsa I like from the store--it has about 1/3 less salt than regular salsa, isn't too spicy (for the kids), and adds more flavor and texture but it's up to you. Whatever you like. I even made it with a mango & peach salsa once and was pretty dang good.

Also, here's the taco seasoning recipe. So good, so easy, SO CHEAP!

Mommy Diary: 14 Months

Developments This Month:
  • Six new teeth.  All four 1st molars and his top two (bi)cuspids.  Poor little man.
  • Phrases, more talking.  Want Mommy, Want Cheese, Thank You, Want Doggie. 
  • 100% weaned. 
  • High Fives. cracks me up every time.
  • Following directions.  He loves helping you put the dishes away, and actually does put all the Tupperware in the right cabinet for you.  It's hilarious.
This child of ours is blowing our minds daily.  He is so smart and sweet.  So affectionate.  We are the luckiest parents alive.  We wonder a lot if other children his age are as animated and vocal, he's always chatting and running around.  I think it's why when he does crash he crashes hard.  He does everything to the max.  

I've been taking him to the mall play area during this heat and he's done really well.  He likes crawling around and watching the other kids play.  I'm hoping the more we go to Mommy and Me and stuff like that, the more he'll start to actually play with the other kids his age.  He loves the interaction.  He's always shy at first then warms right up.  It's the only time he resembles me at all: the initial shyness.  Otherwise he's all Daddy (and maybe some Aunt Caitlin).  He has such a fun personality. I love playing with him every day, it's getting harder to not smile when he does certain things we should start not allowing him to.  He just gives you this mischievous grin and hugs you.  Such a goob.  

14 months little bear, where has the time gone?
play on little man... play on.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Almond Biscotti

Yes, I love baking.  In my other life I was a pastry chef I think, I'd love to be the baker for my friend Kristy's coffee shop (whenever she opens her dream shop up!).  It'd be perfection! But I digress.

No, I don't always love cookies but I do like something mildly sweet after dinner.  Which is why I love biscotti, they're somewhere in between a cookie and a sweet bread.  They're perfect.  I tried 2 recipe's and each needed a lot of tweaks (way too sweet for my taste, but would have made a great cookie. And too dense), so I combined them and it was really really good. So I'm sharing another baking recipe.  What can I say?  

Almond Biscotti

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup blanched, slivered almonds (toasted and coarsely chopped)

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugars until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and blend again.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the toasted, chopped almonds. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer and blend on low-speed until just combined.

Remove the dough from the mixer and divide into three equal portions. Plop one portion onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Form into a rectangle about an inch high. Repeat with remaining 2 logs, leaving a space of about 2 inches between each (I used 2 baking sheets).  Chill for an hour (I chilled overnight, it's just easier for me with the little man). 

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the logs are evenly golden brown. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Carefully transfer logs to a cutting board. Cut slices of about 3/4 - 1 inch thick, depending on your preference. Lay the cut slices on their sides on the baking sheet. Return pan to the oven for another 5-7 minutes. Remove pan from oven, flip biscotti over, and return to the oven for another 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the biscotti cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooking rack. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Note: I also melted some dark chocolate and a teaspoon of grated orange zest in a double boiler and dipped the top half in the chocolate. Then put them back on the  baking sheet to cool in the fridge until hardened.  Divine.  Also, I divided the dough into 3 sections because I don't like my biscotti too big, but if you like them larger just make 2 rectangles instead of my 3. It's totally personal preference.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Project 52 | Week 32 | Me Time

Me Time


Every week I struggle with how to spend my time away from Lloyd.
He's so happy playing with his Miece.
Do I clean the house? Do chores? Run errands?
This week I busted my butt to do it all before I dropped him off.
I didn't want to feel guilty taking myself to a movie.
Quietly sitting in the dark.
Enjoying my junk food.
No guilt.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Adventures in Quilting

So I've made a couple small quilts so far (and one t-shirt quilt), and of course Lloyd's quilt, but so far this one for baby Owen has to be my favorite.  It's the only one where I've used a legit "pattern" and it turned out really well and was beyond easy.  Also helped that it was probably the smallest one I've made.  
It was especially nice to be able to print out clear instructions (which you can find here).

It was a thrill to make it and using the fleece back layer to do the binding was new and really easy.  Made those mitered corners even easier.  So cute.  Feeling less and less like a quilting wanna-be.  :)  I hit a snag with finishing ABC's quilt, I have the top pieced and the batting but the backing fleece I was going to use is now gone from my JoAnn's--crap.  So I'm waiting until fall and hoping it'll come back, otherwise I'm going to have a panic attack. Boo.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Saving some $$: Khols

We're penny pincher's here at Casa Crocker, but lately we've found a new way to get some free (or almost free) clothes (and toys and now shoes).  By signing up for Khols coupons we get a coupon every few weeks in the mail for $10 off a purchase.  And because Khols is awesome, all you have to spend is $10.  So if you shop their awesome clearance racks, you can score a few free things with every coupon you get.  One time we got 2 sets of PJs for Lloyd, another time I got a shirt and he got a shirt, another few shirts for Lloyd, a fisher price "power drill" tool toy, and today we scored Lloyd some new kicks:
Nike Sunray Adjustable Toddler Sandal
And I got this new top (yes it's maternity, but I've discovered certain maternity tops you cannot tell and are long enough to actually reach the tops of my pants for freaky tall people like me without having to order from Gap--the only retailer who makes shirts in a special "tall" size):
Oh Baby by Motherhood Pintuck Top, mine is in navy (wish they'd had purple!)
I ended up paying $3. Lloyd outgrew his croc's and I was able to find a pair of the target croc's--for $15.  No, the Nike's aren't my favorite but this kid is going to be out of them in a few months at this rate and for free (or $3, depending on how you look at it) I'll definitely be returning the croc's to save some money.  

So basically, if you're not on Khols' mailer list get on it--or forward me your coupons if you don't use yours. :)  We'll gladly use them to keep our closets stocked and stain free.  At the rate he dirties up clothes, I have a feeling we're not going to have as many hand-me-downs as I originally thought once we are done having kids.  Boys are dirty, even this young. Boggles my mind.

Yay cute things!!  Poor kid has big feet like his Momma--maybe he's like a puppy, he's just going to grow into his feet.  Yikes. Bring on the next size!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Project 52 | Week 31 | Emotional

Emotional


Lloyd is officially weaned.
Today he hasn't fed once.
I cried last night giving him a bath,
Knowing I wouldn't feed him in the morning when he woke up.
I want to nurse him so badly. I'll never have that connection back, but I'm grateful we were blessed with it for over 13 months. I nursed him Thursday morning and I felt like I should remember every minute but he was ready to move on, he stopped clinging to me during feedings like he used to weeks ago. But I will always cherish all those amazing moments we had during feedings. Always. My sweet sweet baby is really a little boy.

I know I seem to be stuck on this weaning thing but it's a big deal. A really emotional thing for us.