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Showing posts from 2015

Dairy Free Baked Potato Soup

Wintertime, to me, means getting to eat some of my favorite foods - comfort foods.  They fill you up and keep you warm when the snow, ice, rain, and all things cold are ravaging the outside world.  When you just want to curl up in front of the fireplace, there's nothing like doing it with a big plate or bowl of a tasty winter meal.

But, winter meals become problematic when you're dealing with an allergy - especially a dairy allergy.  It's hard to find a good comfort meal that does not have some form of dairy in it.  If it doesn't have cream, then it's got butter in it.  And, while some meals are fairly easy to find good substitutes for the dairy products, other meals are not so easy.  Take, for example, potato soup.


I love a good baked potato.  Make it into a soup and it's even better.  Nothing warms me up faster on a winter evening than the flavor combination of bacon, onion, cheese, butter and potatoes.  Since learning that I have a child with a whey and case…

Choose Joy

Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, there lived a royal family.  This family had everything a person could dream of: glorious palaces, majestic horses to pull awe-inspiring carriages, glittering jewels, gowns spun from silver and gold threads, servants happily fulfilling every need, gardens overflowing with scrumptious fruits and vegetables, and lives filled with joy - so much joy that, even when it was raining, this family's kingdom was filled with light.


What may be hard to believe is that this family could be living anywhere.  They may not truly be royal.  They might live in a two-bedroom walk-up and the only majestic horses and carriages they have are the sneakers and loafers they use to walk back and forth to school and work.  Their clothing isn't anything fancy - it isn't even name brand.  The only time they have a servant fulfilling their needs is when they order fast food or pay the mailman to deliver a letter or package.  They don't have a yard for a garde…

The enemy of good

During a recently attended Girls' Night Out Art & Wine night, a very good friend of mine was attempting to help me improve my artwork by telling me that sometimes I just have to stop trying to make things better.  I was having a hard time putting down my paintbrush and walking away from the painting.  I kept trying to add something more that would improve it.  In my friend's role as a doctor, she explained to me a common surgical expression that the enemy of GOOD is BETTER - that sometimes, in trying to make things better, you can actually cause more harm or make things worse.  Sometimes, we have to be satisfied that things are just good.

In the time since this night, I have contemplated this concept  - especially as it relates to my children and my parenting.  I look at my children and see beautiful creatures.  But, then I often wonder what I can do or teach them that will make things easier for them or allow them greater opportunities.  I constantly question how I can be…

Losing my marbles

Out of the mouth of babes...there is truth. It may not be what's desired, but it is honest.

Things I tell my son

Since becoming a mother, many of the phrases that come out of my mouth have shocked me.  But, none have shocked me more than when I had a son.
The phrases that come out of my mouth generally have to do with a very specific body part...

You know you're a good friend when

If you get a call from me and I immediately ask for Santa, please just go with it...and know you're helping to keep my kids in line and me sane!

Caption this

As I seriously deliberated on which of this year's pictures would make the 2015 Family Christmas Card, I came across some definite outtakes.  Over the next few days, perhaps you can help me caption the pictures that did not make the Christmas card.  Starting with...



Food coloring and carpet

I try to keep my children occupied throughout the day - especially my three-year-old.  After all, I've learned, a busy child is one who is most likely not getting into things he (or she) should not be getting into.  However, every parent has those moments where you just have to step away.  Maybe it's to answer a knock at the door or a ringing phone.  Perhaps you need to make a meal.  Or, God forbid, you just have to go to the bathroom.

This was my mistake.  Why did I think that I could simply go to the bathroom?  It wasn't as though I was leaving my child unattended.  We were in our own home and, not to toot my own horn I was having an exceptionally awesome parenting day.  We had spent the morning reading books and playing with trains.  Not once had my child had to entertain himself with the TV or other form of technology.  I might have required a cup (or three) too many of coffee, but I was on top of my game. And yet, I desperately needed to go potty.  WHAT A MISTAKE!!!

I…

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

One of my most favorite recipes to make during the holidays is Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie.  I first found this recipe on Allrecipes.com a couple of years ago, and I continue to go back to this recipe every year.  I've even given this pie out as a holiday gift to friends and it has become my most requested recipe.


The original recipe is fairly simple, but nonspecific as to they type of bourbon to use in the recipe.  I have changed that to suit my own tastes by using one of my favorite bourbons: Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Bourbon.  I am of the definite opinion that you can't just use Jack with this recipe.  It requires something a bit more refined and a smoother finish.

This pie is not for children.  The first time I made it, I realized that the alcohol does not all cook out.  In future versions, I attempted changing the amount of bourbon added to the recipe, but it just didn't taste as good.  I liked the combination of Four Roses with the chocolate and pecans - chan…

Hotel living: Marriott TownePlace Suites

Last year, my house had a water pipe break - causing damage to our floors.  Thankfully, the damage was not extensive and did not require immediate repair.  But, it did require us to move out of our house for an extended hotel stay.  We were blessed that this was covered by our homeowner's insurance.  And, we were doubly blessed that our insurance provider booked us in one of Marriott's TownePlace Suites.

Living outside of your home while having to maintain a regular schedule of school, work and extracurricular activities isn't easy.  Not only do you have to continue your regularly scheduled life, but you have to do it in a new, temporary location where you don't have everything you usually rely on.  Yes, you've attempted to prepare by packing enough clothes, toys, books, and other supplies, but it's still not home.

TownePlace Suites; however, helps you feel like you can still maintain your daily routine by providing a small kitchenette (including stove top, ove…

The problem with Thomas

My children love Thomas the Tank...they absolutely LOVE Thomas.  When he comes on TV, I know that my children will sit still and watch him.  This is a phenomenal benefit to me when I'm in need of a shower, trip to the bathroom, or while on a road trip.  So, what could be wrong with Thomas?

Have you ever watched a Thomas show or movie?  If you have, you've probably already starting singing the theme song either in your head or out loud - and you'll continue to have it running through your mind for hours to come.  It wouldn't be so bad if they only played the theme song once or twice at the beginning and/or end of the show.  No, they play it over and over and OVER again throughout the show!  They play it so much that I don't know how my children even hear what's actually being said during the show because all I hear is the theme song - with and without the lyrics.

Just writing this post has the theme song on constant play in my head.  If I hear the name Thomas, t…

Wall Drug, South Dakota

Road tripping across the country with just one parent and two kids, age 3 and 5, isn't always exciting.  With all of the obstacles I attempted to plan for, the one thing I forgot was summer road construction.  As we drove across many of the northern states, there were a lot of construction projects that brought our speed down to 45mph...thus increasing the time it took to get from one planned location to the next.  Then, when you add in limited attractions throughout the Plains states, kids will get bored...no matter how many movies you have for them to watch.


Thus, the appeal of Wall Drug, South Dakota.  It's in the middle of nowhere - and I mean NOWHERE.  It literally popped up on the highway right when I thought I was going to go insane from listening to Thomas: Tale of the Brave for the 75th time. 

Driving into Wall Drug is like driving into the Wild West.  My kids immediately were drawn to the old west store fronts and the appeal of panning for gold in numerous of the st…

Dear Santa, I want a pet

As Christmas quickly approaches, my children's Christmas lists are surely growing and growing and growing.  Despite the fact that we have talked to our children about the fact that we are limiting presents this year and that there are many children around the world who don't have anything, my children continue to write the Christmas lists to Santa.  At the top of this list...pets.

Yes, that is pets - plural.  For some reason my children think that our house should be Noah's Ark.  The list of appropriate pets to have ranges from dogs (of which we already have two), cats, birds, bats, and even unicorns (Yes, the great Unicorn Debate continues).  What my children lack in comprehending is the needs and responsibilities surrounding pets.

Pets are wonderful creatures, no matter the type.  They have allowed me to teach my children about kindness towards animals, being careful, asking permission to pet them, understanding hearing "no" can protect both child and pet, lovi…

My Christmas gift plan

Over the past year, I noticed an increasing trend amongst my children: they were getting greedier and greedier.  I wonder if I should just show them the movie The Grinch and say, this is what you look like.  The greed has proliferated every area of our lives.  I see it when I'm making breakfast and my child didn't want to eat scrambled eggs and bacon.  I see it when we're purchasing gifts for family or friends when my child complains how they don't have this toy or that toy.  I see it when we're talking about doing something special and the activity isn't special enough.

My children are not happy with the everyday.
This is a problem.  I do not want my children growing up thinking that they can have everything they want. I want them to know that they are blessed to have the things that they have.  I want them to be compassionate to others who don't have basic needs.  I want my children to understand that they can make a difference to other people who are hurti…

The Westin Portland

Recently, I was invited to attend TNT Portland - a tech and travel blog event sponsored by Techlicious and Traveling Mom.  The event was held at The Westin Portland.  During the event, I was able to tour the facilities provided at the Westin, learn more about the services available for families traveling to Portland, and taste some of the new menu offered at the Daily Grill.

This hotel starts your stay off with quality and their top-rated valet service.  Not only do these valets take great care of your car, but they can also answer nearly any question you ask about what to do, where to eat, and what to see while staying in Portland.

As you then enter the Westin, you must take time to look around at the amazing artwork - including a Picasso near the lobby elevator - surrounding you.  From the furniture to the silver bar service on display to the fire pit in The Daily Grill, you will be made to feel as though you are a part of luxury.  If attending an event in one of the meeting rooms, …

Britax Frontier Click Tight

I try very hard not to be too much of a helicopter mom and let my children learn through experience.  This often means skinned knees, bumps and bruises.  But, there's one area of our lives where I am unwilling to take risks with my children...in the car.


In watching out for my children's car safety, I have found that what sometimes may appear to be a good car seat can really be a pain in your you-know-where.  Do parents really need to have a Ph.D. in physics in order to properly install the car seats?  For some seats, the answer appears to be yes.

When my oldest daughter outgrew her convertible car seat and I was not ready for her to be in a regular booster seat, I did my research and fell in love with the Britax Frontier harness booster seat.  It is narrow, so you can fit multiple seats in the back row, it's fairly easy to install, and it keeps my wiggly child contained should we ever be in an accident.  So, when my son grew to the size where he, too, needed a booster sea…

Wyoming and rest stops

Road tripping with a 1:2 adults-to-kids ratio isn't always fun.  There are moments when you wonder if you're really going to make it to your destination.  You're lucky when you can find a decent hotel with two double beds, but realize that means you'll still - most likely - end up with at least one child sleeping horizontally across your body with a foot in your face and an elbow in your stomach...after you spent two hours trying to get both kids to sleep in the bed opposite you.  A potty stop automatically adds at least 30 minutes to your travel time when you count in the extra time herding children through the convenience store, past all of the "goodies" they just have to have, and into a tiny space where you may or may not have toilet paper.  Then, reversing the process and hearing the same arguments all the way back to the car.  This isn't even counting the debates held with children who think they are old enough to go into the opposite sex bathroom b…

Walking the line

As a parent I feel like I'm walking a line...a very narrow line that isn't always clear and has so many sharp turns and crossings that I find myself turning in circles, getting dizzy, and wondering if I can manage to stay upright. If I'm able to stay on the line, then my kids may grow up to be the next Einstein, Mother Teresa, or Ghandi.  If I can't stay on the line...well, I don't even want to think about what could happen.

Every day I walk the line but I'm doing it blindfolded.  I don't know if my choices, my actions, and my words will positively or negatively impact my kids.  Am I spending enough time with my kids?  Did I give them an appropriate explanation when they asked where babies came from or did I just scar them for life?  Will I get my kids' hopes up when talking about Santa Claus or am I setting them up for disappointment?  When is it really, truly important that I be the bad guy (or mean mom) instead of the fun mom and friend?  And so much…

Bozeman and West Yellowstone

As my children and I continued our 5,100-mile journey across the U.S, we decided to take a scenic break and drive from Bozeman, Montana down to West Yellowstone.  After all, it didn't look that far on the map! Thankfully, we did this the same day we visited the Museum of the Rockies, so my children were armed with their newly purchased binoculars and were on the hunt for buffalo.

The drive down to West Yellowstone ended up taking quite a bit longer than I anticipated - about 90 minutes - but was well worth our time.  The expedition to find buffalo began as we journeyed along the Gallatin River, witnessing numerous rafters and fly fishermen.  Big Sky was the perfect stopping point for a potty break and for my children to view this majestic mountain. 



We continued on our journey looking for wildlife, but the day's rainfall must have kept them all hidden.  Despite the long journey down to West Yellowstone and the lack of wildlife sightings, my children were enamored with the chan…

The problem with happy children

Children are happy people.

For the most part, this statement is true.  My children smile, laugh, and enjoy playing with their friends and toys - or just running around behaving like kids.  They can tell you the "Interrupting Cow" knock-knock joke all day long and never find it less humorous (even when my 3-year-old doesn't quite get the joke's timing).  Yes, for the most part, this statement is true.

But, there were many times - especially during Daddy's deployment - when this statement seemed like a wish.  My 5-year-old daughter would get angry at the tiniest of things...not getting the right cup at dinnertime, having no clean pink panties, and other such minuscule things.  The anger got so bad that, at times, I felt like a failure as a mom.  I wanted to give in to her demands or just do anything to make it all better.  But, I didn't know how or what to do.  My daughter would rage at me - hitting, kicking, biting, screaming until her face was red and she was…

Preparing military children for Veterans Day

This year, as I prepare to celebrate Veterans Day, I realized that I have done a poor job of educating my own children about veterans.  I've taken for granted the fact that we are a military family and so much of the history and traditions of the military are ingrained in how we live life.  I've also taken for granted the fact that my children see their dad go off to work every day.  They know a bit about his job and they see him dress in his uniform, but they don't truly understand how this is different from other dads.  When I asked my children to answer the simple question of "Who is your military hero?" They didn't understand what the military was.  I've taught my children to stand for the Star Spangled Banner and Taps.  They know to place their hand over their heart.  I've even taught them about the "sounds of freedom" so that they can identify when one of Daddy's jets is taking off or flying overhead.

To my children, these things a…

Bozeman: Museum of the Rockies

I have to admit, when I first planned a stay in Bozeman, MT, I wasn't expecting much.  But, stopping here made sense for travel time in the car during our month-long, 5,100-mile journey.  Boy, was I completely taken back at all that Bozeman had to offer.  Our first stop in Bozeman was the Museum of the Rockies.


The museum is easy to find, just off of I-90 and across from the university.  The kids and I enjoyed a picnic lunch in the parking lot underneath one of their many trees before we began our self-guided journey through the indoor dinosaur exhibits.  Because my children already love PBS's Dinosaur Train, they were familiar with many of the dinosaurs on exhibit.  The T-Rex in the center of the exhibits was by far their favorite, but they also enjoyed seeing the Triceratops "families" and other dinosaur exhibits.



As we journeyed through the museum, we became our own version of explorers...seeking out answers for what happened to the dinosaurs.  After traveling th…

I love you through the "I hate you's"

To my child,

Today you told me you hate me.  It wasn't the first time, and it probably won't be the last.  Our relationship will always be at odds with each other.  This is the nature of being mother and daughter.  I had - and sometimes still have - the same relationship with my own mother, and she had the same relationship with her mother.

The truth of the matter is that I struggle being a mother.  Nothing in my life has prepared me for this task.  I'm learning as I go...and I'm making a lot of mistakes.  Growing up, I was taught to be a strong woman.  In my career, I have been placed in positions to show my strength and independence.  But, being a strong woman does not always translate to being a strong mother.  Too often these terms are separated to say you cannot have both.  As a mom, I have attempted to balance life as a woman and life as a mother instead of combining these terms into something more manageable.

If I'm being truthfully honest with you.  I often…

Parenting advice I should have been told

Parenting advice is everywhere.  Everyone seems to have their opinions on the correct, appropriate, right way to parent.  And, through the few years of my parenting, I've relied on a lot of this information to get through the day.  Some of the advice is good.  Some of it isn't.  Because of this, I've compiled my own list of advice that I wish someone had told me.

1. Only give your children directions when standing on your head.  This way your kids may actually pay attention to you.  Do you have the same problem that your children don't listen to you?  Mine don't.  I've tried saying it quietly, getting down at their level, giving them incentives to complete the directions, drawing diagrams, having bonuses available for completing the directions...I may have even given directions at a volume which could be heard two states over.  But, no matter the manner in which I give directions, I have to remember that my kids are still just kids.  They are going to get distr…

Binary hopscotch

I used to get frustrated when my parents would tell me that they were doing something just to make me ask questions - this was always said to me with a thick coating of sarcasm.  Yet, as a parent, I find myself doing almost the exact same thing as I attempt to introduce some humor into some of the more mundane games that I play with my children.

Don't get me wrong.  I love playing with my children, but there are only so many times I can play Candy Land, dress up and have a tea party, or even play hopscotch with my kids before I find myself trying to re-imagine the game into something a bit more exciting for me, as an adult.  I find myself changing the "rules" of play and suddenly we're having a lesson on gravity because our Mars tea party is causing all of our tea cups and tea to float away (not to mention the difficulty drinking tea through a space helmet). 

My favorite way to change things up with my kids is through hopscotch.  After all, there are numerous ways th…

Road trip with kids: Missoula, MT

As we continued eastward out of Spokane, the kids and I enjoyed the stunning beauty of Lake Coeur d'Alene as we traveled through North Idaho.  This is one place I wish we would have had the time to stop, and is a place we will definitely include in future adventures.  But, on this trip, we had to continue on.
 Unsure of exactly how far the kids and I would be able to travel, I didn't make any hotel reservations.  The plan had been to travel as far as Bozeman on this second day of our 5,100-mile journey.  We didn't quite make it that far.  The exhaustion of preparing for the journey and the multiple 30-minute minimum restroom stops made travel a bit slower than planned.  So, we pulled off the highway in Missoula, MT.

Having never been to Montana before, I didn't know what to expect.  I found out I had essentially zero cell phone service and absolutely no data coverage.  So, looking up and booking hotels on my smartphone wasn't an option.  Instead, we did things the…