Monday, March 31, 2008

The Next Food Network Star...

...will not be me. Not because I am a horrible cook or anything (goodness, I hope not), but because I would never put myself out there for all the world. I do enjoy watching my share of Food Network shows, especially Paula. David promised to take me to the mothership The Lady & Sons one day. I told him Lori would have to go in my suitcase with me.
I try to make a new recipe a couple of times a month. Usually I will try to branch out and try something that may require some new skills on my part. I also want to try to keep the meals diverse and let Benjamin (and sometimes Jonathan) try new things. I am hoping we won't raise picky eaters which is a part of this plan, too. I suppose the bottom line is that I love to cook and will subject my family to pretty much anything.
I told a few of you about my new favorite recipe on the phone and I was requested to blog about it. So to be completely nutty about it, here is my lame attempt to copy my other food idol, the Pioneer Woman.
The recipe is called Pan-Roasted Pork Loin with Leeks and can be found here. It is, indeed, a Cooking Light recipe because I am still trying (struggling) to keep things healthy(ish) around here. I won't bore you with the entire recipe since it is linked above, I'll just dazzle you with photos of one of my first experiences cooking with leeks. It's not nearly as glamorous as it sounds.

This is a leek. It is one dirty vegetable. Worse than spinach. It can't really be cleaned while it is whole, either.

This is how you remove the dirt from the filthy things:

Then you want to wilt them a bit (in a little butter)...really the purpose of this photo was to show my mother that I do, on occasion, start cooking supper before 5 p.m. See the clock? This one's for you, Mom.

Remove the leeks from the pan and sear your pork.

After some seriously sensational searing, add your leeks and other ingredients back into the pan. Snuggle them up to that pork.

After two hours of simmering in a covered pan, voila:

And now for the really fancy presentation:

Don't worry, if you come over to my house for a meal, we won't make you eat off of an Elmo plate unless you're under six.

This recipe even received the highest possible rating from my test kitchen. (Although this particular tester kept referring to it as onions and chicken.)

Bon Appetit, Y'all.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Guess who got Photoshop?

Well...for the next thirty days at least. Ahhh, I have missed my old friend and will probably be parked at the computer a little too much over my "trial period." And I probably won't purchase it. I mean $900 for my little blog hobby seems a little ridiculous. I am thinking about splurging on Photoshop Elements instead. If anyone has any advice on that program, I'd love to hear it. Photoshop was great when I was "in the industry" but for home and hobby, that Elements program may be the way to go.
Oh, and to warn everyone...if my blog changes a bunch over the next thirty days, I am just playing like a mad woman. I feel like the clock is ticking! See the new banner? I am already hard at work!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cracking Up

Benjamin laughed until he cried last night at supper. It made us laugh
pretty hard as well. He gets tickled at stuff fairly often, but not
like this. Jonathan had dropped a piece of banana to the floor and
David picked it up and attempted to throw it from his chair at the
table into the kitchen sink. He missed and the banana piece landed
between two slats on the blinds above the sink. It was a pretty
funny scenario as it all went down. Just wanted to post the video here
so I can come back to it and play it whenever I need a grin.
(Just FYI-- I am not the snorter in this video! I didn't want any rumors started.)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Plug for my Pal

Just wanted to tell you all about my extremely talented friend, Melanie. We have both been working to get her "Bloom Blog" up and going and it looks like it is almost done! Check her adorable stuff out....Bowdacious Blooms.
Melanie and her husband Nathan lived in Muleshoe the first two years we were there and it was an instant friendship! She is hilarious and made me laugh all the time. She is also a great decorator! Her home was so stinkin' cute all the time! They moved to Roswell and now have adorable Miss Hadley Shea (pictured below).
If you have little girls in your family, you will love Bowdacious Blooms!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Easter Recap

Here are a few highlights from our Easter weekend. It was fun to hang out with family and just relax! We spent most of the day in Marble Falls with the Pawlik bunch-- lots of cousins, good food and fun. We were also able to host our Life Group at our home Sunday evening and really enjoyed it.
(We missed you, Richardsons & Simmons! We also missed seeing you last Wednesday night. Hope your SB was happy).

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Benjamin's Big Day

Yesterday we feel like we finally made some progress with the beginning stages of the diagnosis process. We know this could possibly be a small case of Asperger's Syndrome we have on our hands and we feel like we finally started getting somewhere with it yesterday.
As I mentioned before, our insurance has really been a nightmare in this whole thing. So, we sort of went "back to basics" with our pediatrician yesterday and she gave Benjamin a much more in-depth evaluation than she had previously done with just our conversations. Benjamin did a great job and he seemed to really enjoy himself as she visited with him.
We also asked her if it were possible for this to be nothing at all and we should all just forget about it and go back to our normal lives. She said while that scenario was indeed a possibility, she still wanted to move on with the diagnosis process. Dr. A also indicated that Benjamin definitely has some very obsessive tendencies, but it could just be a quirky kid on one hand. But if it is something more, ("a low grade on the autistic scale" is what she indicated to us), we need to be proactive now and get everything in place for treatment possibilities.
We also visited Benjamin's future elementary school yesterday. We are keeping that route in our back pocket if our insurance continues to hold us up through the medical end of it. Benjamin had his hearing and eyes checked (they were impressed that he knew his ABCs by sight so well at his age-- I was so proud of him!). We also filled out all of the paperwork for an evaluation with the school for Asperger's. Even at his age, he could start receiving treatment/therapy options from their end. We will now wait up to 60 days to hear back when/if that evaluation will be scheduled.
The school was very nice. It was great to get to see the inside for a change. We look at it everyday from the backside (it is across the street from our house), so this was a fun little field trip. Daddy joined us, too!
The funniest thing about it was that Benjamin did not want to leave the school. He kept repeating...."no, I need to go to class, now!" It was pretty comforting that he was already so excited about his school!
Thank you all so much for all of the sweet emails, notes, calls and especially prayers. We feel so blessed by your friendship and love.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lots to do in the 'shoe!

Okay, I completley stole the title of this post from Deborah's blog title.
We had a great time in Muleshoe and Roscoe. We were able to spend a little time with Koti and Sully and see their beautiful new house and let the boys play. Then we headed to Muleshoe for a few days of fun on the farm (and a little playing around in town, too). We had the best time with Gary and Hollye and miss them so much already.
Jonathan got his very first haircut from Curtis, the barber in Muleshoe and a good friend from church up there. Jonathan did great. We were all sure it would be a wild ride for him, but it was just the opposite. He was such a good boy. Now he looks so grown up!
We of course made a pilgrimage back to Leal's for some great food. It is also the perfect place to run into just about everybody.
We caught up with the Newberrys and Todd showed us around the new section of his school as well as David's old school. We all looked fabulous in our hard hats.
We had the best weather on Wednesday and were able to just play all afternoon on the farm at Gary's & Hollye's. From flying kites, to riding the horse and four-wheeler, the boys had such a great time. We realized Benjamin could just as easily be a farm boy as the city boy we have now turned him into! He loved every part of it! Especially the barn. So funny.
We tried to make sure we were in town on a church day so we could see all of our friends up there. It made us tear up having to tell everybody both hello and goodbye again so quickly. I think Benjamin enjoyed "running the ramp" again, too. Lots of sweet, sweet people at that church that we love so very much.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip. I know we didn't get to see a lot of you since it was Spring Break for you, too. But we thought about each and every one of you as we retraced our old paths around town. Love and hugs to ALL the Mules. We miss you.

Life is a highway, I want to drive it all night long...

Whether it is Rascall Flatts or Tom Cochrane, only young, hip rock-star types should truly heed the message of this song. Certainly not level-headed thirty-somethings (ouch) with young children. Somehow David got the idea in his head that driving back from Muleshoe at night would be far easier than listening to a cranky one-year-old in the eight-hour daylight drive.
Let me preface all of this by saying that Jonathan is not so much a traveler. He gets fussy on the way to church in Belton. So, imagine an all-day drive with this precious baby boy who only napped in the car for twenty minutes (the rest of this nap was at Koti's). He was not happy. And neither was anyone else in the car.
So, we tossed around the idea of driving back at night, while both boys slept. I quickly dismissed it. But it kept coming up. Todd told us that was the only way he traveled. Gary and Hollye warned us that they got pretty sleepy on previous attempts. We should have listened to the latter advice (sorry, Todd...we still love ya.)
The key element in this entire scenario is the driver. If you know us, you know that David and night time driving do not mix. I have witnessed the man fall asleep at the wheel on more than one occasion. So, who do you think would do the majority of this behind-the-wheel time? Ahhh, yes. Moi.
Leaving Muleshoe around eight was fine. David drove to Sweetwater with no problem. It was after eleven at this point, so I took over and the madness began. From eleven to four (yes, I managed to make a three and a half hour drive into five), I trudged along the lonely road to Killeen.
Did I say lonely? Make that crowded. With deer. Over 40 between Brownwood and Lampasas alone. For some reason, this completely turned me into a crazy grandma driver and I never went over fifty miles per hour after Zephyr! On top of that, I started seeing double. I know, what was I thinking? I sat completely straight up in the seat and clenched the wheel until my hands cramped. I did this all the way until Copperas Cove (which is ten minutes from Killeen). David did tell me to switch with him at several points in this part of the drive, but I couldn't decide what was the lesser of two evils: being a lunatic in the passenger seat trying to make sure we didn't hit a deer and make sure David was awake the whole time or driving like a weirdo myself?
This may work for some, but I just couldn't handle it and am not sure we will attempt this again! After getting the boys in their beds a little after four (to David's credit, this part of the plan worked like a dream....they barely made a peep the whole drive), we crashed.
The next morning (I slept until 11ish!), I felt okay and got a few things done around the house. However, the afternoon hit me like a truck and I was completely worthless. I also had the worst headache that no amount of caffeine or Tylenol could kick. So, I still can't decide if it was worth it or not. I did, however get to sample every single station on the Sirius radio thingy. At one point, David woke up to me listening to the All Martha Stewart channel. Very interesting at 2 a.m.

I wrote this entry before the actual Muleshoe entry so it would appear below it on the page. I know, I'm so weird about certain stuff. On a side note, Life is a Highway is one of Benjamin's favorite songs. Of course it is. It's on the Cars soundtrack.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Not Much to Report

Just wanted to check into the blog world before we check out of town for a couple of days. It was a fun, albeit wild week. I survived the Consignment Sale and Amanda and I had so much fun shopping at it Friday night. My sales did pretty well, too. That's always a nice bonus. Although after what I spent, I probably didn't make a whole lot. I uploaded photos of us on the 365.
I also met some other really fun moms on the day I checked in all of my goods. There is some sort of camaraderie that goes along with these events. You understand it if you've ever done one. We all sat around waiting for our stuff to be inspected, bleary-eyed from the previous late night(s) of preparing. Somehow all of this is very addictive to me.
The boys had a great time with my parents for a couple of days, too. I'll include some pictures from their trip to one of the parks there in Marble Falls. I really appreciate the fact that they take them to their house for a visit so I can participate in these sales without little ones underfoot. It makes it a lot easier and they all seem to have a good time, too.
We are heading out in the morning to Roscoe and then on to Muleshoe. One of my very best friends, Koti, moved to Roscoe in the fall and I haven't gotten to see their new house yet. She is expecting, too! Benjamin and her son Sully are also best buds so it will be fun seeing them.
We can't wait to see all of our friends in Muleshoe, too. We are staying out on the farm, again (at our friends' Hollye & Gary's)! We always have such a good time out there and the boys absolutely love it.
If you have a spring break, we hope you enjoy it, too!
Happy Trails.

New Rule for Daddy

OK, I have to make peace with it.

Give up the fight.

Change my ways.

Never, ever, again, will I do anything Jonathan-related while wearing any garment that is "Dry Clean Only".

This trip to the cleaners, this lame story to the lady at the cleaners, will be my last.

This glob of applesauce splattered on the leg of my suit pants, will be the last one, ever.

Make it 2 new rules:

The door to the hall bathroom must remain closed AT ALL TIMES! There is apparently something of value at the bottom of the toilet bowl, way down where everything disappears. Jonathan is determined to get it. Left to himself for just a minute, make that a few seconds, he will frantically crawl into that bathroom, and with shocking speed, be up on his knees, with one or both hands deep, down inside, splashing the water around, hoping that maybe this will be the time he will find whatever it is he's looking for.

I know we shouldn't wish time away, but this is one thing I'm ready to not have to look out for anymore.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Jonathan's To-Do List

I think I'll start my day by taking a bunch of the freshly folded blankets out of the drawer. After I do this, I will sit on them, but mom won't be quick enough to get that shot with her camera.

Now onto this door thing that I am never allowed to open. Since my mom's got a camera in her hand, she won't tell me no. I can get away with it this time since she thinks it will make a cute post on the blog.

I think I'll wrap up my morning by moving over to the dresser and filling this pajama drawer full of random toys. Maybe I'll even bury some so my mom will have to take everything out to find all of the toys.

Email Issues

If you and I exchange email on a regular basis...I HAVE NOT BEEN IGNORING YOU! I am having major outgoing email issues that may be working out now (I hope). But, if you email me and don't hear back from me...I am not ignoring you. I am also unaware until about three days after the fact when I get one of those ", Delivery Failure" messages. So I have been blissfully unaware of my rudeness until that third day rolls around.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Catching Up

My mom informed me this morning that it had been awhile since I posted to the blog. She's right. It has just been a little crazy and I haven't had anything very specific to blog about. So, this will be a very general, possibly boring post about what we have been up to the past few days/weeks.
As of August 2008, I will be employed again. The past week, I have been visiting with my friend Mandy and getting paperwork together for my new "career." I am going to be teaching one of the three-year-old classes at the church preschool. I won't be teaching Benjamin's class (I'm sort of funny about that, I want him to have his own experience in his own class since he is with me so much of the rest of the time). This is part time, just on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I am really excited about it. And now Jonathan will be "going to school", too, in his own little class at the preschool.
We are heading to Muleshoe next week during Spring Break for a visit. Getting super excited about that. We are only able to travel on the weekdays this year because we are both teaching in March at church and we are both on nursery duty-- David, too! So, we need to be in town on the Sundays to be at our church.
I am currently ironing and preparing clothing like a mad woman for the big Mommy & Me Consignment Sale in Austin at the end of the week. I am really behind. I am not putting everything I have in the sale, some things I am setting aside for someone (wink, wink-- you know who you are). But in order to obtain a pass to shop early, I have to at least fill a certain number of sales. I'll get to shop on Friday afternoon before the big rush on Saturday. I am excited about it. My friend Amanda and her (brand new) baby Landry are going with me to take advantage of some awesome deals. Amanda just had Landry on Thursday and she is a precious little girl! We went and met her on Saturday. I am in shock as to how resilient Amanda is! She went home on Friday and seemed like she could run a marathon on Saturday when we saw her! I am excited to spend some time with her on Friday-- and Landry, too!
I want to go ahead and write about what we have been working on/going through/discovering/praying about with Benjamin. I have been a little weird about putting this on the blog, because I don't know who all reads our blog. But, if you read this, I know that you probably care about us and will keep our little family in your prayers during the next few months. If you know us at all, you know Benjamin is one great kiddo (I know I am completely biased here). He is funny, smart, inquisitive and obsessed with vacuum cleaners. He can also be a little shy and sometimes has a hard time in social situations with his peers. He also has quirks, which up until now, we have regarded as just that: quirks. But some things have come to the surface that have made us think that we may have a little more than that on our hands. This is an incredibly long story, so I am going to try to just share the abbreviated version.
After visiting with a number of people, including his pediatrician and several on her staff, we are about to go through the diagnosis process for Asperger's Syndrome with Benjamin. (Feel free to click on the words Asperger's Syndrome to find out what this is). In an extremely brief nutshell, it is a very, very mild and high-functioning form of autism. After a lot of research and talking with people "in the field", we feel certain that he probably has some small form of this, possibly just a touch. But, in the case that it could be bigger than we think, we feel the right thing to do at this point, is to go on with the diagnosis and if he does have this, start researching the best way to handle it. This could involve just a slight change in our routine to some therapy to an extreme situation, possibly medication. Obviously, we are hoping this is nothing at all, just Benjamin's quirkiness. But in the case that it might be something more, we want to give him a leg up on it before he starts kindergarten so he doesn't miss a beat.
Where we are right now:
Stuck! In an insurance nightmare. Our pediatrician cannot do this diagnosis, but she has worked with us so much to get us on to a Developmental Pediatrician who can. There are no Dev. Peds. in our area under our insurance. Our pediatrician's office is trying to get an override to see out of network people, etc. or to send us out of network to someone who is covered by our insurance in a different territoty. So far, we seem to be getting the run around from the insurance company: everyone we speak with there (now on an almost daily basis) has a different idea of what we need to do and who we need to talk to.
What we are thinking may happen:
No matter what, we are ditching our current insurance during open-enrollment this summer. We will switch to the Scott & White plan and at that point can go on with the diagnosis process. We have thought about just doing this out of pocket in the meantime. However, we have found that this will be thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars and if we can just wait it out, it would be nice to avoid that if possible.
What we are hopeful could happen in between now and September (open-enrollment):
There are several possibilities that we are still uncovering as we talk to many people who have gone through this process or know a lot about it.
One possibility is the school district, KISD. At this point, we are so blessed that we have a bit of an inside source on this one, we just call him Daddy, though. David has talked to the district about the possibility of getting a diagnosis on the district level with one of their trained professionals in this area. If we decide to stay in Killeen (which at this point, we probably will because of how AWESOME the elemetary school across the street is that caters to autistic and Asperger's kiddos), the district can do a diagnosis possibly even before he is enrolled in kindergarten. This was HUGE news to us that we just received this morning.
We could also go through a local college graduate psychology department for a diagnosis. I talked to a family that did this with Baylor in Waco and loved the process and it was a lot cheaper than the Dev. Ped. route. And then they were able to utilize the services of the psychology department for therapy. They loved it and highly recommended this route for us.
So...we have several possibilities. We just ask you for lots of prayers through this whole thing!
We are praying specifically for:
-- this to be nothing but the quirks of a three-year-old
-- but if it is more than that, we pray that we have peace and understanding and great wisdom about our little guy's diagnosis and what it will mean for his future
-- patience....especially if we have to wait on that diagnosis through late summer/early fall with a dev. ped.
-- we pray that Benjamin is not affected negatively by the entire process and never thinks for a second anything is wrong with him-- he is still and always will be such a great kiddo with a big heart that we love so incredibly much
-- we pray that we are the best parents we can be to him, not pushing him too hard or holding back too much in any area because of this matter
-- we pray for our little Jonathan, too! We don't want him to get lost in the craziness of the next few months or however long this process is....if it ever ends?
I am sure there are many more things to list, but right now these are some prayers we ask you to keep in mind for us.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this incredibly long post. We also welcome with open arms any advice from anyone who may have gone through this or knows someone who has.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Out of the mouths of babes...

As we were eating supper tonight, we were "encouraging" Benjamin to keep eating. It usually goes something like...
"Take another bite."
...five minutes later, "Take another bite."
And so on...
He told us that he would take more bites "after he could put some dirt on his food."
We both looked at each other puzzled.
"I want to put dirt on my food, like you did," he says very matter-of-factly.
I realized I had just used the salt and pepper and apparently he had really taken note of it. It is funny the objects that he doesn't know the correct name for, but doesn't hesitate to assign one to. When I held up the shakers, he agreed that was what he needed.
We had a lovely meal of cornbread, red beans and rice and of course, dirt.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Happy Day to Elena!

Sunday is our neice Elena's second birthday! Hope your day is super fun. Live it up, kiddo! She's a sweetie!