Friday, February 28, 2014

Peanut Ginger Chicken with Coconut Rice and Mango Salsa

Oh boy. I can't say enough good about this meal. Big time winner! There are so many flavors going on here, and I love the fact that you get so many food groups in every bite. I also love the fact that I can make this quite inexpensively, but it has such a gourmet feel to it. It's a staple in our menu!


I appreciated the suggestion made on The Sisters Cafe, so I'll share:

"I know that this recipe might seem intimidating. But when you break it down, it is actually one of the simplest meals ever:
Step 1-make the marinade the night before and put the raw chicken in it.
Step 2-chop up the mango and cucumber and mix up the salsa that afternoon.
Step 3-just before dinner, put the rice on to cook.
Step 4-cook the chicken."


Peanut-Ginger Chicken Marinade
2-3 lbs raw chicken, diced
1/2 c. boiling water
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1/4 c. bottled chili sauce (the Asian kind, not the ketchup-y kind)
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. ground ginger

In a medium mixing bowl, gradually stir water into peanut butter. Stir in chili sauce, soy sauce, olive oil, vinegar, and ginger. Add chicken; stir to coat it with marinade. Chill in refrigerator for at least 12 hours or for up to 24 hours.


Mango Salsa
1 c. peeled and diced fresh mango
1 c. peeled, seeded, and diced cucumber
3 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, chopped

In a medium mixing bowl, combine chopped mango, cilantro, cucumber, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, and lime juice. Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.


Coconut Rice
2 c. coconut milk
1 1/2 c. white rice
1 c. water
3 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine the coconut milk, rice, water, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir once, then cover and cook for 18-20 minutes, or until rice is tender. Fluff with a fork, cover, and keep warm until serving.
Note: I have found that some coconut milk does not work well and the rice stays crunchy. If that happens, just add more water and continue cooking until rice softens.


To Serve
At dinner time, cook chicken chunks (I just cook them in a frying pan over medium-high heat with all of the marinade). Serve chicken with the mango salsa over the hot coconut rice.


Feel free to play around with ratios--I almost always double the rice and salsa because I have an exceptionally hungry husband to fill up on a small budget. It tastes wonderful even with proportionately less chicken.

What's in a Name?

Names fascinate me.
I love hearing the stories behind names
and the process parents go through to select them.

My parents tried to give each of their seven children unique, uncommon names.
Some of their attempts were more successful than others--
'Kaitlyn' certainly isn't a very uncommon name anymore!

I'm sure this played a role in the fact that when Sam and I began discussing names for our first little baby,
I was only interested in unusual names.
I quickly vetoed his suggestions of common names in pursuit of something
that was not on the Social Security Administration's
One day, about 6 months into my pregnancy, Sam was reading
This particular edition had the title and then simply "Talmage" underneath it on the front cover.
As he looked at the cover he questioned, "What about Talmage?"
And the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.
We tried it out from time to time, but we never settled on it for sure until
the moments immediately following our son's birth when we determined that it was the name for him.
Talmage Samuel.

When I became pregnant with Wesley, we didn't even begin discussing names much
until after the 20 week ultrasound and we knew it was a boy.
At least then our options would be narrowed down!
I outlawed any names beginning with 'T,' as I didn't want to start
a precedent that we would feel obligated to maintain
(which Sam thought was very silly).
One day as I looked through the hymnal at Church,
I noticed that the author of a hymn was Charles Wesley.
Seeing this reminded me of how much I loved the name Wesley.
I even had a teddy bear named Wesley in high school that my best friend gave me when I moved away!
I asked Sam about it and he loved it.
The only issue (to me) was how common it was.
But in the end, we determined that although the name Wesley was not at all unheard of,
neither of us actually knew a Wesley personally, so it was probably not all that common.
My dad's name is Scott, so that was an obvious choice for a middle name.
Wesley Scott.

By the time I became pregnant with Lincoln, we both knew what style we agreed on.
We liked names that were distinguished, yet masculine.
We wanted them to sound smart, accomplished, and dignified.
We also knew that we liked names that were typically last names.
Sam proposed the name Lincoln early on in my pregnancy,
and by this point the name being unusual mattered a lot less to me.
I had loved the name for a long time,
and it was especially meaningful because a man who had a really big influence in Sam's life
was named Lincoln.
Since Sam's dad is named Mark, we knew that would be the middle name.
We toyed around with other names a bit, but we never went far from Lincoln because it always felt just right.
Then one day, we were driving to Church and we saw this on the road in front of us:
Somehow, seeing 'Lincoln Mark' on the back of a luxury pick-up truck
was the perfect objectification of what we wanted in a name.
It was both distinguished and masculine.
And that kind of sealed the deal in my eyes.
Bonus: Talmage thinks it is so cool to see trucks with the same name as his baby brother.
Lincoln Mark.

What is the story behind your name?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sprayed by a Stink Bug

We discovered this guy climbing on our window. 
Talmage kept poking it with his finger and with his book, 
and what do you know...
stink bugs really do spray!
The fairly mild, slightly sweet odor
that suddenly filled the air wasn't too unpleasant.
Talmage quipped, "That smells good!"
Its creepy, wobbly walk was far more unnerving.
Sorry, Mr. Stinkbug, but you don't really stink.

Ah, Houston, we love you...bugs and all.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kids are Funny

Our couch eats things.
No, really, things fall down inside the frame of the couch through the seam at the back.
Talmage recently discovered this fact and began cramming his 4-year-old hands
into the crack and discovering all sorts of things.

He calls it "treasure hunting."

He has found many long-lost little cars, pencils, bobby pins, and even an earring I lost a couple of years ago. One of his recent finds was a little rooster magnet that is part of a magnetic farm set my mom gave him over 2 years ago, when she came to visit after Wesley was born.

After he found the tiny magnet, he began asking if he could call "Grammy"
to tell her thanks for giving him the magnet.
It was still rather early in Utah
and we still had lots to do to get ready for the day,
so, being the mean mom I am, I said no.

A huge tantrum ensued and he began crying and wailing.
After the crying subsided, he followed me around moping and whimpering.
Finally, after several attempts to console him, I told him he needed to go into his room and play and find something to do that would make him happy.

He dramatically wailed, "How can I be happy?? Saying THANK YOU is what makes me happy! That is what puts a smile on my face!"

Needless to say, he was very relieved when we called my mom that afternoon
and he was granted the wonderful privilege of expressing his gratitude.
Oh, how I love my sensitive boy.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Our Friend Bobbie

Yesterday we got to visit our sweet friend Bobbie.
She is a darling woman who lives in a nursing home
a few miles away from us.


She is sort of like a substitute great-grandma for our kids,
since theirs have all either passed away or live in Utah.
We took her a bag of cookies and she proceeded to give almost every last one
to Talmage and Wesley with their eager, outstretched hands ready to snatch each morsel.
Each time we tried to end the cookie consumption,
her stubborn kindness ruled over our parental concern
and more cookies were devoured as she asked, "Will it hurt 'im?"
One of the boys' favorite things in her room is the contraption she has to help her pick things up. They gladly take turns pinching whatever may be on the floor and lifting it into the air.
We love Bobbie and her candid conversation, ready smile, and love of children.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Today

Originally posted 06/28/10

Talmage in the hospital shortly after he was born


Last night I was looking for a quote about motherhood and I came across this poem:

I Will Not Feel Guilty

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo.

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

-Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

This was a poignant reminder to me that I need to make sure I don't let menial tasks get in the way of my spending time with Talmage! Sometimes I get so fixated on little things that seem so important and neglect that which is the very most important.

Later that evening, I found myself rocking Talmage in his room, watching him drift into blissful slumber and desperately trying to memorize the moment...

the spiderweb veins criss-crossing over his eyelids...
the two cowlicks he has on his head--one in the front and one in the back--just like his daddy...
the way his hand rested securely on me, seeking reassurance that his mommy was still close by even in his sleep...
the way his eyes rested only half-closed and darted around beneath the lids...
the warmth of his body as he lay curled in my arms...
the sweet little dimple on the top of his ear...
the perfectly smooth, soft, blemish-free baby skin...
the little button nose...
the blanket covered in little blue and yellow trucks...
the green and blue striped pajamas...
the round, blue binky that occasionally moved in sync with his sucking...
the two bright, slightly crooked teeth I knew lay beneath that binky and the big, piercing, deep brown eyes I knew lay beneath his long, dark lashes...
the rhythm of the rocker as I rocked him back and forth, back and forth...
the sleepy bug I gently wiped from the corner of his eye...
the soft whirring of the ceiling fan...
the dusk-colored light that streamed through the blinds on the large window in his room...

...each exquisite detail was a heaven-sent reminder of the blessing of motherhood. I hope I never lose sight of that.

I continued to rock and bask in the beauty of the moment. Into my mind came visions of our sweet little Talmage on his first day of kindergarten, graduating from high school, leaving on his mission, going off to college, bringing home a very special girl he has given his heart to, and advancing through life as a capable adult...one who was once so innocent and helpless, just seeking the security and warmth of being held.

From the other room I could hear my own husband talking on the phone to his sweet mother, and thoughts about how he was once her sweet, helpless little baby flooded my mind. Now he is grown, married, capable, educated, and raising a son of his own, just as our little Talmage will be before we know what happened to the squirmy, drooling, Cheerio-eating, loudly babbling package of delight we have now. The thoughts tore at my heart with a mixture of exquisite joy and heart-wrenching sadness. It was a beautiful message given to me from Heavenly Father to live in the moment and rejoice in today, regardless of our individual circumstances for if we live only for tomorrow, we will be left with a lot of empty yesterdays (to paraphrase Meredith Wilson).

Friday, February 21, 2014

An {Almost} Perfect Afternoon

Last Saturday our afternoon consisted of Houston's beautiful,
breezy February weather,
homemade kettle corn,
cute kids,
and the porch swing.

It also consisted of Sam spending the day in his lab
(as usual),
which is why it was only an almost perfect afternoon.


But almost perfect isn't too shabby!
Here's to hoping for another beautiful weekend.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Flowers for Mommy

"Mommy, I'm giving you flowers because you're SO special,
and I EVEN don't want you to die!"


My mom has a sign on her wall that says,
"A rose can say I love you. An orchid can enthrall.
But a weed bouquet in a chubby fist, that is the best of all."

I love my weed bouquets.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Dipped Banana Pops

I know, I know, it's the middle of the winter and I'm posting a popsicle recipe. But to be honest, I took this picture this past summer and am just now getting around to posting it. And really, these are a delicious, nutritious snack (especially for toddlers) year round!


Bananas
Peanut Butter
Chocolate
Vegetable Oil (optional)
Popsicle Sticks

Quarter bananas--cut in half length-wise and then width-wise (great for toddler-sized mouths!). Carefully insert a popsicle stick into the banana quarter (as they tend to split). I actually use the thin style popsicle sticks to reduce problems. Lay on a cookie sheet and freeze for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, put some peanut butter and chocolate in a tall cup. You can use whatever ratio suits you, but I generally use about a 1:4 or 1:5 ratio of chocolate to peanut butter to keep them more nutritious. Melt in the microwave until smooth and glossy. If you like, you may add in a few teaspoons of vegetable oil to thin the mixture, thereby reducing the amount that will stick to the outside of the banana. When bananas are firm, remove from cookie sheet, dip in peanut butter mixture, and replace on cookie sheet. Freeze until solid. I like to do a huge batch at a time and keep them in gallon ziploc bags for a quick, easy snack. We all love them!

Are You Nice?

Lately when I seem to be less than pleasant
(like when I'm in the midst of disciplining)
Wesley will urgently ask,
"Are you nice? Are you nice, Mommy? Are you nice?"

Yesterday we were at Kroger and a scowling young man was bagging our groceries.
Wesley sized him up as he began to load our cart
and suddenly began asking him,
"Are you nice?"
over and over and over again
with no response from the bagger.

I might have been imagining things,
but I think after about the tenth time of being asked,
a small smile made its way onto his face.

Really though, how can you not smile when this face is watching you?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ticklish

It's amazing how funny it is
to be tickled by a 5 month old baby.


This guy certainly is adored!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Best Friends


This morning was pretty ordinary.
I was cleaning the bathroom when suddenly
a squabble broke out over the bathroom scale.
Before I could intervene, Wesley had bitten Talmage's back,
leaving a huge imprint and causing a great deal of shrieking and crying.

Exasperated, I took Wesley, showed him the bite marks,
talked to him about not biting,
and then put him in his chair for a bit of time out.

He was, understandably, not very happy about the state of things.
That's when Talmage came up to me and asked,
"Mommy, can I give Wesley a toy so he won't be sad?"
"No, he's in time out right now, so we just need to leave him alone."
"But please, Mom? Can I play with him and make him happy?"
"Well..."(what a predicament!)"...okay."
"Thanks, Mom!"

He and Wesley sat at the table and played together for the duration of the time out. And you know, I think Wesley learned his lesson even better that way.



They certainly fight
(sometimes all day long),
but when I ask who their best friend is,
they always respond with each other's names.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day: Then and Now

Five years ago, I was sitting in a class at BYU, 
just a few weeks pregnant with Talmage, 
and completely exhausted.
I was on the verge of falling asleep (as usual) when the professor said something about his computer being hacked
and this image appeared on the huge projector screen:


The class let out a loud, "Aaaawwwww!"
and I was incredibly glad I hadn't yet fallen asleep
since the professor asked me to raise my hand
and everyone was now staring at me.

*****

As a child, I always loved Valentine's Day
because we would wake up to a nice note and small gift
left for us by my mom.
I've continued the tradition with my boys,
and they have been so excited about it!
Yesterday Talmage got a sticker from storytime at the library
and he kept causing problems with it,
so I finally took it away and threw it in the trash.
He was very upset and sobbed,
"I just don't know what to do now that my feelings are BROKEN!"

This morning, after he woke up and discovered his Valentine from me, we had a conversation something like this:
Talmage:  Do you know what the best part of my Valentine is?
Me:  What?
Talmage:  Now my feelings are fixed!
Phew.

I made Sam a nice breakfast for him to wake up to
as part of his Valentine's gift.
He wakes up at 5,
so it's a good thing I could depend on Lincoln
to wake me up at 4 to get it ready.
We look forward to our evening's festivities!

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day.
I'm glad to celebrate ALL the loved ones in my life.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

On Difficult Days

Yesterday was rough.
The morning was filled with
crying,
whining,
fighting,
hurting,
and more crying.


Wesley sat on the toilet for an hour refusing to have a bowel movement
and then went in his pants a few minutes after I gave up and got him down.
Various things throughout the house were broken as the day progressed.
I thought my kids just needed some more attention,
so I offered to play a game with them which just caused more fights.
We switched to storytime, which ended in tears.

I struggled to stay patient through the midst of it all,
and when the kids were down for naps,
(two sleeping, one still bawling)
I tried to mentally list the things that had gone right.
Maybe I just had a bad attitude, but the list was pathetically short and it involved the steel-cut oats I was making for myself for lunch.

The afternoon was stressful
and I had to leave for a meeting right after Sam got home,
so I threw dinner on the table
and ran out the door.

I ended the day by getting our car completely stuck in the mud.
(Note to self: don't park on the bank of a drainage ditch after a rainstorm.)

It was a day filled with small annoyances, not huge catastrophes. 
And as I drove home, I thought about how even in the midst of my frustrations, there is still so much joy to be found.
I am thankful I have children with the mental capacity to get angry and express themselves.
I am thankful they are physically able to run through the house and cause problems.
I am thankful to live in Texas, where trucks are a dime-a-dozen and kind people are easily found who will tow me out of my muddy predicament.
I am thankful for the chance to go to sleep each night with hopes of a fresh start every day.
And I am thankful for the eternal perspective the Gospel of Jesus Christ gives us.

"Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he's been robbed. The fact is that most putts don't drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just ordinary people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise...Life is like an old time rail journey--delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."
-Jenkin Lloyd Jones, as quoted by President Gordon B. Hinckley

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ranch-Parmesan Chicken Nuggets

I know the picture doesn't look like much, but these little bites of chicken are pretty amazing! Sam said they should be on the menu at a gourmet restaurant. Chicken nuggets. Classy. :) Both of my kids love them and they come together so quickly. They freeze fairly well, so you can make a large batch and warm them up for lunches or whenever you need them. They are slightly less crispy when they have been frozen, but still very palatable. I adapted a recipe given to me by a ward member to come up with these, and they are a staple at our house.


2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken, cut into pieces as desired
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
3/4 c. Panko
1 Tbsp. ranch seasoning
3/4 c. finely grated parmesan cheese

Mix together Panko, ranch seasoning, and parmesan cheese. Dip chicken pieces in melted butter, wiping away excess (too much butter will make them soggy when they bake). Place butter-coated chicken in Panko, cover with crumbs, and press crumbs into the chicken to help them stick. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Note: If chicken is cold, butter may start to harden as you are dipping, at which point you should re-microwave it to keep it liquid.

A Father's Roles

Sam and I write a lot of love notes to each other.

Normally we prefer to keep such notes to ourselves,
but the other day I wrote him a poem and for some reason felt inclined to share it.

It was issued by the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. Mormons) in 1995, and it states our beliefs with regards to the sanctity and importance of the family.

I love how beautifully it states, "By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, father and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners." 
(emphasis added)

This poem expresses some of my feelings
about the sacred responsibilities given to men in general
and specifically those given to my husband.
(He's only gotten more handsome with time!)



A Father's Roles

The mantle of fatherhood
Suddenly sat
On your shoulders, just 24 years young.
As we blissfully held
Our newborn son,
To principles of faith we clung.

Our path was sure,
The way marked clear,
Our duties and roles were defined.
As father you'd preside,
Provide and protect,
While I'd nurture children sublime.

So on we've traversed
Adding two children more,
Learning more clearly with time
How best to fulfill
Those roles so assigned,
How to honor those duties divine.

I watch you preside
As our family you lead
Without force or dominion awry,
Gathering our family
In reading and prayer,
Teaching children to walk in the Light.

Curing cancer by day,
Programming by night,
Your work ethic can't be surpassed.
But you balance your time
So remarkably well,
Church and family never come last.

Your frame, big and strong,
Makes me feel so secure,
And stout courage fills your heart.
Protecting our family,
Is another place yet
Where you ever act well your part.

Your God-given gifts
Rendered to help
You fulfill these masculine roles,
You have honored and held
In highest esteem.
As your wife, my joy is full.




And my joy truly is full.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A 2-Year-Old's Mind

"I put it on my eyelashes, and then I listen to music."

Monday, February 10, 2014

Friday, February 7, 2014

5 Months

The 5th marked 5 months with our little Lincoln.
He is a joy to have in our family!

Currently, he:
-can sit for a few minutes at a time
-rolls both directions
-smiles and laughs a lot
-isn't too fond of baby oatmeal
-naps for 6-7 hours per day, but still wakes up quite a bit at night (we're working on that...)
-loves to be tickled
-has to sit at the dinner table with us
-seems to have a very social nature and a great deal of interest in other people
-is a crazy little grabber--we call him "Mr. Grabby Hands" because he grabs everything, even when you think it's far enough away from him. He will find a way to clench his pudgy little fist around it.





We love this happy kid!

Sam and I are going to a local high school's production of Les Miserables tonight. I gave him tickets for our anniversary. We may be poor, but we can still pretend to be classy and go to plays and such.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

We Love to Read


Each day around noon,
I nurse baby Lincoln,
fix Talmage and Wesley lunch,
read library books while they eat,
put Wesley and Lincoln to sleep,
and then cuddle up with Talmage
for a few moments of reading.

We have been reading chapter books for the past six months or so,
and like his mother, he has been smitten with
the characters of Stuart Little, Charlotte the spider, Wilbur the pig, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and all her child friends, and Ralph and his motorcycle.

Today I sat down on the couch,
wiped some remaining peanut butter off his 4-year-old face,
surveyed the yogurt spots on his shirt,
and wrapped my arms around my handsome little man
as together we read about a little mouse
and his experience getting picked up with the trash.

Can my children please stay little forever?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Learning Lessons

On Friday, I took the boys to the library.

We stopped at the bookshelf at the front and surveyed the children's books for sale, as we usually do, and purchased one.
(We can never have too many books!)

We wandered inside and Talmage had to go to the bathroom.
Wesley got a drink while Talmage took care of business, and then he informed me that he had to go too.
Wesley is just newly potty-trainedish and had just gone before we left the house, so I thought he just wanted the novelty of experiencing the library bathroom.
Not wanting to drag everything in to help him go, I told him he could go when we got home.

As we went to look at books, Wesley again told me he wanted to go potty.
And again, I told him he could go when we got home.
Seconds later, I turned around to find him staring at me with concern, his legs awkwardly straddling a puddle on the carpet.

Mommy fail.

And yet, as I calmly smiled,
apologized for not taking him to the bathroom,
and took his hand to go to the front desk and request some clean-up supplies,
I also thought about how far I've come as a mother.

A couple of years ago, this simple sequence of events would have caused me stress and impatience.
Now it is merely a tiny bump in the road that we take care of with patience and love.

As the years have gone on, I have learned to let my children experience life as a child should.

I have learned to only say 'no' when necessary
and to think hard before I say it.


I have learned to let them play in ways that seem inconvenient
or messy for me
if it isn't causing any real problem.


I have learned to rejoice in every single moment
of a new baby's life, however exhausting it may be
because the first year slips away far too quickly.


I have learned to let my children help when they ask
because all too soon they may not be so eager to offer.

I have learned to reassure more when accidents happen,
and scold less.

I have learned to let consequences teach lessons and to discipline with a hug.

I have learned to fear my failings less and trust in God more.

I wish I could say I was always true to these and many other lessons I've learned.
But slowly and surely I am learning,
and growing,
and becoming.

Maybe it's not such a Mommy fail after all.
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