Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Meal Database 2.0

Several years ago I created a meal database of our favorite meals. I refer to it often when I'm trying to figure out what to cook for dinner, but the list of meals I cook for dinner has grown over the years and the database was in bad need of an update.

  • Brisket
  • Taco salad {ground beef}*
  • Beef enchilada casserole {ground beef}*
  • Hamburgers (we usually go bunless and add awesome toppings like caramelized onions, bacon, and a fried egg) {ground beef}*
  • Warm, toasted roast beef sandwiches
  • Roast
  • Beef fajitas
  • Beef fajita quesadillas
  • Pasta with meat sauce {ground beef}*
  • Hobo dinners {ground beef}
  • Grilled steak
  • Stuffed bell peppers {ground beef}*
  • Beef and broccoli 
*For recipes that use ground beef, sometimes I substitute part or all of the ground beef with ground turkey.

  • Chicken enchilada casserole
  • Chicken spaghetti
  • Chicken with a balsamic glaze
  • Baked chicken breast
  • Crispy yogurt chicken
  • French fried onion chicken
  • Chicken fried rice
  • Chicken pot stickers
  • Chicken pot pie (drop biscuit or regular pie crust)
  • Chicken fajitas
  • Chicken fajita quesadillas
  • Chicken and sausage jambalaya
  • Chicken, sausage, squash, and onion bake 
  • BBQ chicken quarters

  • Pulled pork
    • We eat pulled pork a variety of ways, including on buns, in tortillas, or in bowls with jalopeno coleslaw!
  • Grilled pork chops
  • Pork tenderloin

Seafood (I've been trying more seafood, but haven't found a bunch of recipes that make the "regular" rotation yet)

  • Traditional breakfast for dinner (usually includes bacon and eggs plus one of the following)
    • Pancakes
    • Biscuits
    • French Toast
    • Apple Fritters (Often without the apples, lol)
  • Breakfast tacos (may be "regular" breakfast tacos or could include something like leftover brisket (brisket + eggs = great Texas breakfast taco!))
  • Pizza
  • Stuffed bell peppers {could be stuffed with ground beef and cheese OR breakfast sausage, cream cheese, and shredded cheese}
  • Lasanga
  • Chicken spaghetti
  • Pasta with meat sauce
  • Creamy pasta with chicken and bacon

Soups and such
  • Taco soup (ground beef)
  • Chicken enchilada soup
  • Chicken and dumplings
  • Creamy chicken, bacon, and rice (sounds weird, but it is yummy!!)
  • Potato soup

Favorite sides
  • Grilled corn
  • Corn hash (corn roasted with bacon, bell peppers, and onions)
  • Grilled asparagus
  • Grilled squash
  • Roasted broccoli or roasted broccoli and carrots
  • Roasted asparagus
  • Sautéed green beans
  • Sautéed broccoli or sautéed broccoli and carrots
  • Sautéed squash
  • Sautéed cabbage
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Mashed potatoes
  • German potatoes (still trying to master these!)
  • Crash hot potatoes
  • Oven roasted potatoes
  • Coleslaw
  • Jalapeno coleslaw
  • Asian coleslaw salad
  • Rice
  • Couscous
  • Cornbread stuffing (if I’m feeling ambitious)
  • Fried squash


Make Ahead Meals (or meals that require little prep AT dinner time)
  • Chicken enchilada casserole
  • Beef enchilada casserole
  • Roast
  • Country style steak
  • Chicken spaghetti
  • Lasagna
  • BBQ chicken quarters
  • Pulled pork
  • Beef and broccoli (if cooked in crockpot - I like it better NOT in the crock pot)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The First Day of School


Ella's first day of school interview:
  1. What do you want to be when you grow up? Any kind of doctor
  2. What was your favorite thing you did during the summer? Play in the pool with the cousins
  3. What is your favorite thing to learn about in school? Math
  4. What is your favorite color? Purple
  5. What is your favorite thing to play? Little legos
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Troy's first day of school interview:
  1. What do you want to be when you grow up? I'm thinking something with a ninja
  2. What was your favorite thing you did during the summer? Go to Disney World
  3. What is your favorite thing to learn about in school? Reading
  4. What is your favorite color? Red
  5. What is your favorite thing to play? Little legos
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I don't know how many posts I write where I feel like starting it out, "I can't believe it is already time for . . ." This summer flew by, and it is hard for me to believe that it is already time for the kids to go back to school. Ella and Troy have both been anxiously waiting for the first day of school, and I love their enthusiasm.

Troy, who has been an early-riser for some time now, asked Trent if he could "sleep a little longer" when Trent went to get him up, which we thought was hilarious and ironic. I think he had a great first day, although in some ways I think he was disappointed because it wasn't exactly what he thought it would be. The first thing he said to us was "I didn't get to use any of my school supplies!" He was pretty excited about getting to go to the library and touring the school.

I think Ella was a bit nervous about being in a new classroom with a new teacher because she had formed such a great bond with her first grade teacher. However, when we dropped her off, she seemed like an old pro who knew exactly what do. And, when she came home she was excited about her day especially that she got to make "Jitter juice" (I think something like punch), and that she already had homework. Last night Ella's teacher even called to tell us how she enjoyed having Ella in class, and wanted us to tell Ella that she was looking forward to seeing her again tomorrow. I appreciate that her teacher took the time to call us (as I'm sure she did with all the students).

We are looking forward to a great year, and cannot wait to see and hear about what they learn and experience!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Happy 8 Months Annie!

I feel like so many things have changed this month! With every passing month you grow and change, but some months record more changes than others and this was definitely one of those months.

At the beginning of the month the entire family went to the Peach Valley AIM camp. The camp was a great experience, and you did SO well while we were at camp (with the exception of sleeping well at night, but that was nothing new!). You were good-natured and happy, and did much better than we could have asked! You loved being held by different members of the staff, and often fell asleep in their arms. One of the most exciting things about camp was the fact that it provided another opportunity for us to try the bottle, and you finally (kinda!) actually ate from it without acting like it was the worst thing we could stick in your mouth.
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And, after camp, we continued to try the bottle, and I can happily say that you now easily take the bottle! You can even hold it if you want to, although you generally prefer for someone to hold it for you. You continue to be a great eater, and are doing a great job letting us know when you want more food (you've figured out how to yell at us to tell us you want more). You can be quite vocal when you want more food! You are also very coordinated; more coordinated than I remember your siblings being at this age, but then again it all blends together. You do really well grabbing your bites of food and putting them in your mouth. There are usually very few puffs on the floor or in your highchair when you finish eating. You have two little teeth trying SO hard to poke through, but they haven't quite come through yet!

For a couple of months now you have been fairly stable when you sit, but this month you officially graduated to full-on unsupported sitting. It provides you great freedom, and I think you really enjoy being able to sit up on your own. You still are not crawling, and generally hate being put on your tummy (which is ironic since you sleep on your belly!).

20160803-VW4A3799.jpg Your personality continues to blossom, and while you have been charming us with your smile and laugh for a few months now, you really began interacting and reacting to us in a whole new way this month. Your facial expressions have multiplied, and our favorite is when you scrunch your nose in happiness (just like your brothers and sisters).

20160813-VW4A4187.jpg Over the past couple of weeks you've been generally sleeping better: longer stretches and more consistently. You still have the occasional night where you are up frequently, but those nights are becoming fewer and fewer (thankfully!).

Annie @ 7 months
Luke @ 8 months
Troy @ 8 months
(I didn’t start writing these monthly posts for Ella until she was 17 months old)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Happy 7 Months Annie!

Once again, I'm behind writing this post. . . we've been slightly busy, and I've barely even opened my computer this summer. And, once again, I wasn't able to take a photo with your monthly sticker. :( I painted the living room, and in the process managed to misplace your monthly stickers. Good news, though, I found them, so I'll be able to take your 8 month photo! And . . . I'm way behind editing personal photos, but hopefully I'll come back and fill photos into this post later.

But, enough about me, and onto you!

Seven months! Wow, more than halfway to one year old (your siblings like to remind us often how close you are getting to one year old). You even said your first word this month (mama!) as I either walked into or out of the room. Sadly, I missed it, but daddy heard it! I guess I shouldn't be surprised that you'd say "mama" first because you truly are a mama's girl.

Although I haven't weighed you lately, I know you are still tiny. People still often guess you are younger than you are based on your size. However, if someone really observes you, it is easy to see that you are closer to one than a newborn! From your strength and stability to your interactions and smile, you show us everyday how big you really are getting!

Ella has been loving holding you and carrying you around lately. I though as you got bigger, she might shy away more because you weighed more, but it has been quite the opposite. She asks to hold you many times a day, and she does a great job toting
you around. The boys also ask at times to hold you, and when they do, they love it! I wish I had been able to capture to huge grin Luke gets on his face when you get in his lap.

You still haven't been sleeping very well at night, although the few days right before you turned 7 months old you slept well (so maybe you are starting to turn the corner). I know the amount of traveling we've been doing probably isn't good for helping you get into a good sleep pattern. Not only are you not in your bed (and I think you pretty much hate the pack n' play), but your schedule has been completely out of sorts. You have generally been doing better napping, but if you have to sleep in your pack n' play for naptime, you usually don't sleep as well.

You continue to love solid food, and have become an expert "puff" eater. It has been really nice that you can enjoy your puffs during a meal because it makes things easier on us (you stay distracted while we eat!). And, despite the fact that I've thought your teeth would pop through at any moment over the past couple of months, they still haven't broken through!

You finally really figured out your jumperoo this month, and your jumping is pretty great. You like to jump as long as we don't leave you alone . . . it seems the moment we walk out of the room to do something while you are in your jumperoo you immediately start fussing and won't be happy until we get you out. Since you have figured out your jumperoo, your legs have been kicking it into overdrive! You often kick/bounce when we hold you, and are quite the wiggle worm!

Your giggles have brought us (and many others) much joy this past month. It is easy to make you smile and laugh, and baby giggles are the best! Ella loves to try to get you to laugh (and she's good at it!). I'm amazed at all the things that you find so funny that you giggle. I've included just a few videos of your giggles this past month.

Annie @ 6 months
Luke @ 7 months
Troy @ 7 months
(I didn’t start writing these monthly posts for Ella until she was 17 months old)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

"Meet My Dad" by Ella and Troy

Happy Father's Day! We are so blessed by Trent in our family. I am also blessed by my father, and the love and guidance he has shown me throughout the years.


I've been completing this interview about Dad from Ella and Troy for a few years now. Their answers are always telling and entertaining! I originally found this interview on Pinterest
  • What is Daddy’s name? 
    • Ella: Trent
    • Troy: Trenton
  • What does Daddy do for fun?
    • Ella: I think he likes to play with us
    • Troy: Play with us
  • What does Daddy do at work?
    • Ella: He. . .  let me think. He studies with students; he helps people learn about the Bible.
    • Troy: Works on his computer
  • What are his favorite things to eat?
    • Ella: Brisket, jalapeño, a lot of things with onions
    • Troy: Jalapeños, onions
  • What does he like to drink?
    • Ella: Diet Dr. Pepper and sometimes coke, and sometimes regular Dr. Pepper
    • Troy: Dr. Pepper
  • How old is Daddy?
    • Ella: Hmm . .  let me think. 33
    • Troy: 33
  • Where did you and Daddy meet?
    • Ella: Whenever you borned me
    • Troy: That's hard to tell
  • How long have you know Daddy?
    • Ella: For 7 and about half years
    • Troy: 1000 days
  • How tall is Daddy?
    • Ella: About 10 ft.
    • Troy: Taller than that, a little bit taller than that (reaching his arms way up high), 6 ft. tall. Wait is he that tall? Is he 2 ft. tall?
  • What is Daddy’s hair like?
    • Ella: Bald, pretty much and then he has little dots on his hair area.
    • Troy: No hair
  • How much does Daddy weigh?
    • Ella: Hmm . .that's hard. Let me think for a minute. Much more than me.
    • Troy: Huh, 10 lbs. Does he really weigh 10 lbs. pounds? How much does he weigh?
  • What makes Daddy the best?
    • Ella: Having fun and playing with us.
    • Troy: Letting us watch a movie.
  • What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy?
    • Ella: Have a day together and have fun.
    • Troy: Play with him

Happy 6 Months Annie!

The kids keep asking how many more months until you are one year old, and it is crazy to think you are already halfway there!

20160614-VW4A9553.jpg This month included lots of firsts, and many milestones showing how much you've really grown since you were born.

At the beginning of the month, you took your first flight and made your first trip to Disney. You did great on both flights! You also did well at Disney - generally only fussy when it was meal time for us (I think Murphy's law was in effect here!). You hung out in my Ergo carrier most of the time, and every now and then the stroller (though you weren't a huge fan of the stroller).  At Disney we got you a Minnie Mouse pillow pet . . . although you are still too little to have Minnie in your bed, you really liked it and were pretty cute playing with it.

During our time at Disney, you sucked on your thumb a few times, and I was sure it meant you would become a thumb-sucker. However, since then you've maybe only gotten your thumb once or twice and you seem MUCH more interested in sucking on your toes! You also continue to love to chew on your Aden and Anais swaddle blankets, and you've also enjoyed a new Aden and Anais lovie we recently got you.


You've become an expert roller in both directions, and can roll on any type of surface (including my lap!). We recently got a video monitor, and we watch you flip all around in your crib as you try to settle down to sleep. Amazingly, you often end up sleeping in the same end of the crib no matter where I put you down. We've officially transitioned you out of your rock n' play sleeper and into your crib this month. It wasn't easy at first, but I'm SO glad we've made the transition. You fall asleep fairly easily most times when I put you in your crib. Although you still don't sleep very well through the night, you have started taking MUCH better naps now that you are in your crib. I think it really helps to be removed from all the distractions (also known as your siblings)!


You've really started loving solid foods this month as well. You've liked pretty much anything we've given you including green beans! You didn't love carrots the first time I gave them to you, but I haven't tried them again. You've also gotten pretty good at picking up puffs, and are fairly content to sit in your high chair and attempt to get them in your mouth. :) As is evidenced by the fact that you can pick up puffs, you've gotten really great at grabbing things, including my phone!


Your core strength continues to amaze me! You are doing well at sitting up - I'd say your skills are somewhere between tripod sitting and full-on unassisted sitting. We had Vacation Bible School this month, so you got lots of practice in your chair for Bible class, and you do a really good job sitting in the chair. The hardest part is when you got excited or sad because you start throwing yourself around and you don't have good stability then. You started playing in your jumperoo this month, and you like it pretty well although you aren't interested in hanging out in it for long periods of time.


You continue to love to be talked to, and have really been enjoying lots of daddy tickles this month. It is easy to make you laugh, and we love the bright smile you show. You have two cute dimples that peek out when you grin big, and you even have a dimple up by your temple on one side. You are too cute!


You are still small  - in fact at your 6 month appointment, you'd only gained 4 oz. from your 4 month appointment coming in at a whopping 13 lbs. 10 oz. (10 %). I was concerned, but your pediatrician reassured us that you were dong a good job growing because both your head and length had grown showing that your bones were growing well. Your bottom two teeth have yet to poke through, but I think they could pop through any day now.

Playing with Ella

Phantom "sucking"

Annie @ 5 (and 4) months
Luke @ 6 months
Troy @ 6 months
(I didn’t start writing these monthly posts for Ella until she was 17 months old)