Saturday, November 29, 2014

Recipe: Taco Pasta

     I wanted to make something at least half-way healthy for the home-birthing class I was getting ready to attend. It was a potluck style meal deal seeing as we'd be attending class for several hours. I came up with Taco Pasta.

6 oz elbow macaroni
1 lb ground beef
1 can petite diced tomatoes
4 oz shredded cheese (of your choice - We used Colby Jack)
8 oz Nice 'N Cheesy (Kroger brand pasteurized process cheese spread - use whatever is available to you)
1/2 cup milk (sorry, I'm guessing because I eyeballed it about half-way up the cheese blocks in the bowl. Let me know what works best!)
1 package taco seasoning

Thoroughly cook beef while boiling noodles to aldente. Once done, combine the beef and macaroni in a large pot. Add drained petite diced tomatoes and taco seasoning. Now, combine diced Nice 'N Cheesy block with milk  in a separate microwave safe bowl and microwave in 1 minute increments and stir until melted. You can reduce the time over time. Stir what is in the pot, add cheeses and stir until mixed evenly.

I like to use whole grain or veggie noodles, and when I double the recipe I use 1 lb beef + 1 lb turkey burger. You may use Shells and Cheddar in place of the elbow noodles and Nice 'N Cheesy.

Side note: My family is picky. You can add any type of taco toppings into or on top of this recipe. Examples include lettuce, onions, peppers, sour cream, etc...

Bon Apetite!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Real Reason I'm Not Finding Out the Gender of This Baby

     At 17 years old, I became pregnant with my first child. I was afraid and in denial, but I told my mother as soon as I could. I was taking medication and whether I was keeping this baby or not (adoption), I was going to make sure it was healthy. After my mom cried for a few minutes and asked a nice long list of questions and I wasn't dead, we scheduled an appointment. After my appointment, it sunk in. I was going to be a mommy! My boyfriend (not the baby's biological father) wanted to father the baby and helped me decide to keep the baby when I was about 3 months along. My mother also became excited after seeing the little "bean" on the ultrasound for the first time. We began doing what expectant families do. We thought of names. We browsed all the best brands of feeding products, baby furniture, registered impulse "needs" on our registry,... We thought of names, went to yard sales, dreamt, etc... We went to stores smothered in cute ruffles and bows with a dinosaur or a star here and there. Little dress shoes and lacey socks were everywhere. I wanted a girl. I mean, who wouldn't? Boys can't be cute. There's just ugly graphics and plain onesies with stretchy plain pants to go on boys.
     Finally it came time to find out if we were going to be meeting M.B. (girl's name) one day or T.A (boy's name). We went to the 20 week anatomy scan. In the waiting room my mom asked, "What do you want?" I, of course, without hesitation, said, "A girl." Then she questioned whether or not I thought it was a girl. I told her, "I think it's a boy." Once we went in to get the ultrasound, we were love struck once again. After what felt like forever (but in reality was probably less than 30 seconds) we found HIS parts. It's a boy!!! Oh my. I cried. I ACTUALLY CRIED! How could I cry? How selfish!! I mean, even though he is a boy, it's not like I don't love him? How could I be so disappointing? We went to Wal-mart immediately after knowing we were going to be having a boy to start our gender-based shopping. I was so disappointing? I couldn't even find the boys section! I began crying when I realized there was about 60-70% girls' racks and about 30-40% boys' racks. How could this happen? That's not fair! The boys' stuff isn't even cute. It's got puppies and bears on them. No bows, no glitter, no ruffles, no tutus, no lace, just plain plain clothes. It seemed the same with everything. Let's not forget that it's much easier for a girl to get away with wearing a super-hero shirt before a boy gets away with wearing a glittery tutu. Why? (seriously.)
    A few months passed and we were becoming super excited to meet our little man. Still, though, I couldn't figure out why there was nothing cute for my boy to wear. Finally, in a store with ONE isle of baby items, I found it. I found something CUTE for a BOY. It was a cowboy onesie. It looked like a t-shirt layered under a vest with a bandanna/handkerchief at the chest. It even had a little star on the side for sheriff. I cried. I FINALLY found something cute. I thought it was impossible.
     T.A. was born! xx-xx-10 my baby is finally here. The first time I saw him and held him, the tears in my eyes... I'm not sure how I was able to hold them back or why I did, but it was an overwhelming love at first site. I couldn't believe I made and grew this 8 pound baby! What a miracle!
     Still, for the next full year, I found myself in these stores filled with disappointment on what is offered for our baby boys. Then, one miraculous day, I discovered Etsy. A friend of mine had the cutest hats in her newborn photography pics. I asked her where she got them, and she told me about I, instantly, fell in love. Yes, YES! CUTE STUFF!!! Suspenders, vests, bow ties!! One of the first cute things I came across on Etsy was this cute baby boy car applique bloomers/tank singlet.
     Why am I not finding out the gender of the baby due in 2015? Because I don't want to give myself the time of day to be disappointed in an unborn baby that I love. This go-round I still would prefer a girl. If it is a girl, I'll be done baking for the rest of my life. If this one is not a girl, we'll have to keep trying. I like the idea of having a boy also. I still have a lot of T.A.'s clothes and furniture, so that would save us a ton of money. I think if it is a boy, T.A. and C.L. will have a lot more in common (hopefully) and have a better/closer relationship due to this. They're so far apart in age already. :( Maybe I could even put them in matching outfits! Eek!! :D If it is a girl, our family will be complete and perfectly spaced. I may only get to do the ruffles for the first 3 years, but, for some stupid reason, that's important to me. Perhaps because it is so glamorized all the time. Either way, once I hold my baby in my arms, do you think I'm going to have the time to be disappointed when I am meeting my baby for the first time? No. It will be my miracle. It will be my baby. It will be perfect. No matter boy or girl.
      By the way, I've already heard the sermon on how I should just hope for a healthy baby and how selfish I am for having a preference. At the same time, though, I know I am not alone.

     Here is an update on my 17 week bump and my handsome, T.A. at almost 4 years old. <3 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We're Adding a Pumpkin To Our Patch

     As soon as I knew I was pregnant, I started looking for creative ways to announce. Announcing the pregnancy in a unique or cute way is all the fad nowadays. I saw plenty of cute and creative ideas, but instead of doing any of the many many cute ones I saw, I asked the announcer at a local adult softball game to say, "Guess who's due with baby number 2?" She then paused and then said, "Congratulations, Justin and Sara Beth!" Not many people heard it, but some had. I had been playing softball with my husband and after sliding instinctively like I promised myself not to, I decided my season needed to be cut short. We announced when I was 10 weeks along. I still waited a few days for the word to get around town by word of mouth before skipping along singing the, "I'm pregnant!" song. My husband couldn't wait. Once we had made our first announcement, he told just about everyone we saw. One day, he walked into a very open office building that about 20 people work in. We know most of them. He said it took almost all he had not to stop at every single desk to deliver the good news. It was super cute! By 11 weeks, I posted an announcement on Facebook. It was a silhouette of me. Words appeared saying, "There are two people in this picture. Due Feb. 2015" By 12 weeks, I think most of our friends and family had heard the news.
     Every week I post a new picture of me and my rounding abdomen on Facebook and/or Instagram. I am also obsessed with creating boards for each part of having a baby on Pinterest.
     Throughout my search for creative birth announcements, I saw SEVERAL pictures of pumpkins. The idea was to have as many pumpkins as there are family members and you get bonus points for having the sizes right. (Dad is biggest, Mom is bigger, Sibling is big, baby is small.) On the top of each pumpkin, each family member's name is written with a permanent marker. The mothers pumpkin is the only one that is hollowed out like a heart or circle jack-o-lantern. The little pumpkin is placed inside the mother pumpkin. This is a CUTE idea!

Of course there are different variations....

 I like to think of all of these pumpkin announcement ideas as somewhat of a riddle. You have to think about it. Of course, you don't have to think very hard, but nonetheless....

     I still have not seen an announcement quite like mine. It is probably not that unique, but I love it. We loved the idea of decorating jack-o-lanterns with the drill as you see all over Pinterest too. 

      We decided to combine the idea of a pregnancy announcement and drilling holes into our pumpkins. We used the last two digits of each family members' birth year. This made it a little harder for people to catch on. Our holes were a little too small and my husband cut the initial hole at the top of the "newest" pumpkin to gut it way too small. He decided to "fix it" by making the hole bigger. I warned him not to do that, but I'm never right, and he always is, so .... he learned... We had to fix it with orange construction paper as best as we could. Do not worry. We did not use real candles or tea light candles. We used the dollar store battery powered tea lights. Because our drilled holes were too small, the actual numbers were hard to see. I was thankful to have my Canon and know the basics of making a picture brighter, so the finished product looks better through the eyes of a camera. Either way, I am really happy with the result and got to use the picture for my new Facebook timeline cover.
     It was an experience for my family and memories were created. We've learned from our mistakes, and hope to do the pumpkin carvings every year.

I know.... I focused on the wall. Sorry it's blurry. I couldn't see them to focus on them through the camera so this was the best I got and I was tired. We still love it!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Date Night!

     Today, I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned my house. I barely touched the computer (which is why I always get distracted from cleaning). I did about 4 loads of laundry completely... Washed, Dried, Hung/Folded, and put away. I even went through and donated some clothes. I went to the place the clothes were donated, to the bank, and came back home to get more done. I had a meeting for work almost immediately after my husband got off work, so I attended the meeting. My mother happens to manage the place I work at, so when my husband came to pick me up after our meeting, my son saw his "Gammy". My husband had planned to take our son on a father-son date tomorrow to see Dolphin Tale, but my mother offered to take him tonight. I thought it would be a nice opportunity for Justin and I to be productive OR go on a date. As soon as I got into the car my husband told me he found out that I'm not the only person due at the end of February in my town. I thought I was the only one due in February 2015 that I knew personally, so this was pretty exciting. We are both 20 weeks and I'm JUST finding out this girl I've seen several times is not only pregnant, but 20 weeks and practically shares my due date!! I had to see her immediately. We drove by her work. I greeted her, trying not to seem overly excited, and congratulated her. As we were leaving, I saw the cow tales. mmmm, the gooey goodness of the sweet chewy cow tales. How could I resist? ONLY 88 cents for four of them too! As we were leaving and I had already eaten all four of the cow tales, I asked my husband if he was hungry. I'd probably consumed enough calories for a meal, but it just wasn't quite enough and I was still plenty hungry so we went to a restaurant and ate dinner where I saw another one of my pregnant friends. This time, I think she was as excited to see me as I was her. We went to the restaurant where she works. Everyone was kind of taking a break because the place was dead. My hubs and I were the only ones there when we came in except one other couple that had been there for a while. She and I talked and chatted forever about whether we thought our kid(s) were boy(s) or girl(s) and about the wives tales. I think she's going to have a girl, but she gave me the nicest compliment. She admired the way I dress my 3 (almost 4) year old son in bow ties and suspenders. Most of the folks around us with boys don't seem to care about fashion or are so country, they're always in overalls, camo, and cowboy outfits. She and I are just not that type. I thought it was so sweet of her and I did admit to my disappointment on the availability (or lack of) boys' fashionable clothing. We both agree that the girls tutus and ruffles and bows are way cuter than camo, overalls, and dinosaur graphics. After chatting for a while, the place started to get a bit busy, so she had to get busy. I looked over at my husband and his plate was 99% clean and mine, well, I think I had had two bites during my chat. Soon after I started eating my meal, my husband decided to get some desert. He got a brownie melt. You know... those things with the brownie, hot fudge, ice cream, and whip cream? The delicious goodness. :P Later, my friend came back to admit having had a spoonful (or maybe a little more) of the hot fudge. Oh my goodness. That sounds heavenly to me too. Anyway, my husband kept getting some of his desert on his mustache. It was so cute. I told him I had "sweet kisses" waiting for me. haha.
     There is really so much more I don't want to forget about this day, but it's bedtime, and I'm exhausted. I know this was written sloppy, but it's worth it because my blog is like my diary.
     Thanks, Gammy, for taking T to the movie. We made memories.