Friday, February 27, 2009

I'm a Slow Learner

Since Monkey is still in his crib and probably will be until he’s two or so, we’ve been in a bit of a quandary as to where to have M2 sleep. I really wanted to get a bassinette on casters, as it’d be practical on our hardwoods until we could get Monkey in a big boy bed. Which would be about the time we’d need M2 to move to a real crib, thus the desire for a bassinette. Leaning into a pack-n-play isn’t ideal after a C-section.

But if y’all have ever shopped for bassinettes, you’ll know that they are so NOT us. Even the boyish ones are white and frilly and so uber-girly, it’s not even funny. And the ones that are more along our style (dark, clean, contemporary/modern lines) are upwards in the $300 - $500 range. More than a crib!!! So on a whim, I decided to check out my friend Craig and one of the first bassinettes I find is this:

Hand-made, black, on casters, storage shelf, never been used, and exactly our style! Okay, so it's really more of a cradle, but still...isn't it beauitful?

But the lady lives in JUSTIN. Oy. A long drive to get a bassinette that I might not like up close and personal. But upon emailing her, she works down at Love Field and is happy to meet us there to deal business. So next Monday, N’s spending his lunch to pick up this lovely little piece of furniture for the mere cost of $35!!! Woohoo! Even if it’s not perfect, it’s only a $35 loss, right?

Come to find out, her husband made it for a friend that ended up not being able to use it. (I got the feeling there was a sad story here.) And her twins (via IVF after failed adoptions and years of IF) are too big for it. So they just need to find a suitable home for it.

Well, hello! Here we are!

I’ve REALLY been fretting about the sleep situation in our household once M2 arrives. Why, I don’t know. You think by now, I’d learn that God has all these little details worked out. He does. Surprise, surprise, right? And in the meantime, we meet yet another woman who has an amazing story of God placing just the perfect children in her life at exactly the right time.

Why am I always so surprised at His goodness and attention to detail???

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hair Help

Local ladies, I need some help! I'm looking for a new hairstylist. My hairstylist is pretty good, but I feel our relationship has run it's course. He is a beautiful hair artist, but our time to part has come.

When I first met Miguel, he was a sad, depressed soul, having lost his partner of 17 years to cancer. I really felt for him and did all I could to encourage and comfort him during my visits. Slowly he started coming out of his shell and I started seeing his face brighter and more lively as the years went on.

I didn't realize this, but Miguel taught me that cancer is another word for "cirrhosis of the liver due to alcoholism."

Regardless, I could tell that Miguel was finding some healing and moving on and that made me happy!

But at some point, I began questioning exactly where he was moving to. It started last year when he confided to me in hushed tones that a UFO had come to visit his backyard, blowing back the curtains and blinds in his open bedroom window. The Visitors, he insisted, were just curious about him and his toy Yorkie, Preston.

Um, okay.

Now as I write that, I'm wondering if their alien curiosity was ever sated...

The visit after that he said he came to Christ and proclaimed he was "done with men. Jesus was the only man he needed."

Wow. I'm stunned. I'm not sure what to say, but great news!

Since then Miguel has had some, um, major alterations surgically done to his body in Latin America and I'm no longer sure if I call him Miguel or Michelle.

I guess Jesus really was the only man he needed!

I won't even go into detail about the time he said he is gifted and can read people's minds.

I think that's where I started really getting uncomfortable with him. I mean, what if he can? I'm not sure I want a man (woman?) with sharp objects around my head, knowing that I think he's very talented, but one sandwich short of a picnic.

Anyways, I digress...

ALL THAT TO SAY, I'm looking for someone that listens to my hair desires, doesn't cost an arm and a leg, preferably has all his/her God-given body parts, but most importantly DOES GOOD HAIR!

Any suggestions? I'm at one of those desperate moments where I'm about to hit SuperCuts. And for my wavy, coarse, Irish/Japanese hair, that's a really BAD idea!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 2/23/09

This week’s menu is a little aggressive. So we’ll see how it goes. But we made an emergency trip to the store for a few things that cut into this week’s budget, so I’m trying to keep things REALLY inexpensive this week. A bit of a challenge as it’s also N’s birthday week and I wanted to make him something special. But he requested Mexican and one of his favorite Mexican dishes is nachos. Such an easy-peasy hubby! Also, he’s not much of a cake guy, but his favorite dish is cherry pie or cherry crisp. So that’s his birthday dessert.

And I’m not too worried about losing the element of surprise. I don’t think he reads the posts here unless it’s got a Monkey picture attached. Ha!

Monday – Sausage Omelets
Tuesday – Meatless Tacos
Wednesday – Crockpot chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean/artichoke casserole
Thursday – Polenta w/Puttanesca
Friday – Mexican Nachos and Cherry Crisp
Saturday – Chicken and Green Chile Stew
Sunday – Super Easy Leftover Buffet

Oh...and we FINALLY made the spicy shrimp and creamy polenta that's been on our menu for the last FOUR weeks. Two words: Yum-O! I'll be sharing this SUPER easy recipe later this week.

To see more easy Menu Plans, visit Laura over at

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Season For Everything

Yesterday was Cade's 13th birthday celebration. Cade is our sweet youngest nephew from Hico. He's one of those one-of-a-kind kiddos that just make you shake your head. In the good way! He's very handsome, very articulate, a bit of a smart-aleck (in the funny way), and makes a really mean home-made salsa. I just cannot believe he's a teenager. While I am so proud of him (and his darling older brother Cooper), it breaks my heart that he's THIRTEEN. He might as well be 30. I can only imagine what his poor mama thinks watching her baby turn into a young man. She has MUCH to be proud of, yet I wonder what it's like to know that the tender years of raising your children are behind you. Knowing my sister-in-law, I'm sure she took full advantage of every moment presented to her!

Tonight, we had small group at church. Anytime we do, Monkey goes to Joyland and has a great time playing with his friends. Usually by the time we pick him up, it's already a little past bedtime, so we've made it a habit to put his PJs on him before we leave the church. By the time we get home, he's usually pretty tired and goes straight to bed. Tonight was no exception. There is something so cute about seeing our little guy run down the Joyland hallway in his fuzzy blue PJ's and a stuffed monkey in each hand. It gets my heart every time. :-)

After we got home, we snuggled and sang and said prayers before going to bed. I left his room with him blowing kisses from his crib.

"Muah!" as his little hand lifts into the air dramatically. So precious!

But within about five minutes, he was crying. I could tell he was just tired crying, so I let him fuss. But a few minutes later, his cry sounded a little more desperate, so I checked on him. He had thrown his stuffed monkeys on the floor, which upset him.

"Momma, Momo!" he cried, pointing to the ground. (Momo is what he calls his stuffed monkeys.) I picked them up and handed them back to him. As I did that, I bent down to hug him again. I'm usually pretty firm about not dragging out a 2nd bedtime. I lay him down, pat his back, say I Love You and walk out the door. He's learned not to fight too hard, because it doesn't get him far. But tonight those sweet little arms wrapped around my neck and he tucked his little head into my ear.


I broke my rule: I lifted him out of his crib and sat down with him for a 2nd bedtime. Usually during our bedtime snuggle, he chats with me in his limited vocabulary, recounting the day. "Truck", telling me about the trucks he saw on the highway. Or "De-da" if he's seen N's dad that day. "Ou'side" if he's played outside that day. Tonight he didn't talk. He didn't act tired either. He just laid in my arms, holding his Momo's tight and staring at my face. His eyes slowly blinking, but not breaking my gaze. It was sooo wonderful! Suddenly I thought of that scripture in Ecclesiastes:

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

As my son laid in my arms for another few minutes, and as we continued to just watch each other, I was so overwhelmed with a feeling of gratefulness. I knew that my window of opportunity to have quiet bedtimes like this were closing in on me. I don't mean to be melodramatic, but I know that if I'm not very careful, I can be so focused on the rules of bedtime (or any other situation) that I could lose out on opportunities to love on and bond with my sweet firstborn. 17 years from now, I don't want to see my son pulling out of my driveway on his way to college, regretting not taking advantage of more chances to be with him.

I ran my fingers through his soft baby hair. Someday it wouldn't be soft baby hair. It'll be coarse grown up hair. I brushed his tender cheek with the back of my hand. Someday it won't be so tender and soft. It'll be gruffed with grizzle from a 5 o'clock shadow. I hope when that season arrives, I will remember that I did my best to take advantage of THIS season while it was here: being a boy momma to a toddler.

Thank you Lord for giving me these precious moments. Thank you for giving me the wisdom to see that my season as a Momma to a toddler is fleeting. Thank you for reminding me to take full advantage of my son's tiny little life and all the silliness, joys, and challenges that come with it. And that occasionally ignoring the pile of dirty dishes or the bedtime rules does not make me a bad mother, but makes me a mother that is taking advantage of the gift You've given her. Thank you for giving us our sweet nephews, Cade and Cooper, that are a foreshadowing of what good parenting can do. Please forgive me for those moments where my patience is thin and my fuse is short. I pray that you please continue parenting me the way you want me to parent this little boy and his coming little brother. Thank you for being so patient and loving and consistent. Because one without the other two really don't have the same impact.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


When I was in the 8th grade, my best friend and I signed up for a local 3K race. For our age group, the winner got a $50 cash prize. Being the clutzy girl that spent her spare time in the art room and library, I didn't really have any high hopes of winning that race, but I thought it was going to be fun to run with my best friend. I remember her asking, "If you win, what are you going to do with the money?" I had very specific plans and explained. "I'm getting a pair of white Nikes with the pink swoosh. Or maybe the purple swoosh. I can't decide." Fast forward a few weeks after the 3K, which I did NOT win, and I find that my grandmother has bought me a present: TWO pairs of Nikes! One pair with a pink swoosh and the other with the purple. I was floored! She had been in cahoots with my best friend to find out the perfect birthday present!


About 18 months after N and I started dating, we'd gotten into quite the comfortable routine. We were pretty much joined at the hip and did everything together, church, volleyball, softball, bible study, hanging out with friends. We'd experienced some tough times already, but we both thought that the soul connection was so deep, that there was no need to rush anything. Considering I'd been divorced, this was just fine with me! And N had mentioned that he had some things that he needed to accomplish before he settled down as well, so things were...nice. Not always easy, but just felt Right.

So one night, out on a date together, it seemed like any other date night. He looked hot, I felt cute, it was payday and we were splurging on sushi. After we ordered, N reached across the table to grab my hands. His were cold, sweating, and very noticeably shaking. I looked at his tense, serious face, and his eyes were red. He did not look...right. Something was wrong. Really wrong. The last time I saw this face was when he broke it to me that his grandfather had died.

With a shaky voice, he said, "I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. And I've decided that there are some major decisions that I need to make with my life."

My jaw clenched, my throat closed up, and stomach dropped into my lap.

Oh no, I've been here before. I've seen this look. He's about to break up with me! I knew things were too good to be true!

His lip trembled as he continued. I immediately averted my eyes to his shaking hands and try to keep the tears from spilling over.

This is so not how I thought things were going to be with us! I wasn't expecting anything really amazingly huge in our near future, but I REALLY didn't expect that he'd break up with me this soon!

But before I could think of a response to the inevitable departure, N was on his knee on the restaurant floor with a huge ring in a tiny blue box. I began seeing the picture like I was out of my body, floating high, watching from the ceiling. Except I was thoroughly and completely confused. I looked at his face and realized he'd been talking. I'd completely missed it!


He paused, looked a little sideways at me, repeating himself. "I said, would you please spend the rest of your life with me? Will you marry me?"

Immediately, I felt snapped back into my physical body again. But my brain and tongue were still somewhere out there, not with me. I didn't know what to say, do! Eventually I said yes, but I think I might have given him a heart attack or two waiting for me to get my bearings.

I think shopping for rings is fun and probably most practical when it comes to getting the girl exactly what she wants. But I can say from experience that getting shocked with a hand-picked stone, that your man has agonized over solo for months, is more wonderful, simply because of the surprise factor!


Most of you know that when I was pregnant with Monkey, I had a very strong feeling that we had a boy. So our 20 week sono with him was not a huge suprise. (I was just tickled he was still alive after what we'd been through!) This time my feelings weren't strong like before, but I definitely had a leaning, if that makes sense.

Yesterday, N and I went to my OB's office for our 20 week sonogram. We knew the drill. We'd be looking at number of heart chambers, femur length, nuchal fold thickness, and all the appropriate appendages. Or lack there of. ;-) Everything looked perfect! Although quite a mover and shaker, the little one did everything possible to hide between my placenta and uterine wall, so we had to work for every single shot. I think this time we might have a shy one on our hands.

It's times like yesterday that I realize what kind of God God is. He is All-Knowing, Ever-Present, and All-Powerful. I know that. But sometimes it's hard for me to see anything else personal in that All-EVERYTHING, you know, because He's SO big.

Laying on that sono table, I realized what a magnificently awesome FATHER our God is. Just like a grandparent that enjoys giving the perfect pair of shoes or a man who agonizes over picking out the perfect engagement ring, our Heavenly Father enjoys giving us gifts that just shock the socks off us!


I just picture Him in Heaven with a huge grin on His face, because He knows He has given us the gift that surprised us all!

We are not disappointed at all. Just very surprised! We were both already thinking pink! But the idea of Monkey tearing around with another little boy just thrills us both to pieces! Can you imagine?

The W Boys.

I have a feeling the legend has already started.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Joy

This little guy just DOES IT for me, yanno? Every morning, I am blessed to see this little face within minutes of waking up. It just starts my day off in the very best way possible!

What blows me away, is if this is how I feel about my imperfect little son, how then must God in His infinite amount of unconditional love, feel about ME? If I am to believe Scripture, which I do, my love affair for Monkey is NOTHING in comparison to the love affair God feels with me. And that my friends, is just simply beyond my comprehension.

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
- John 3:16 (New Living Translation)

Do I love anyone in this world so much that I'd be willing to let this little face be tortured and then slain on a cross? I think not!!! Thank God that God is God and I am not. Nobody would be saved if it were left up to limitations.

And it puts Mary's obedience and faith in our Heavenly Father, at level that is just hard for me to fathom.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Weekly Shopping Trip - 2/16/09

This was a tough week. I had two large priced items that I knew would be hard to work around. (Laundry detergent and N's razor blades) But I did it! And not only that, but found wiggle-room to get a few items on sale. So I'm happy!

When I got to Whole Foods, I realized there was a Dollar Tree next door. So I peeked in just to see what kinds of stuff they had. I picked up a tube of Colgate and a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner. I need to remember that this is a PERFECT place to get party stuff - tons of baby shower stuff, paper plates, cups, etc. Much better than Party City! Anyways, I knew I had two $1 bills and some change in my purse pocket. Not "technically" part of the grocery budget. I would have spent that on something splurgy. Is that considered cheating in this game?

Whole Foods Total - $3.69

Tinkyada GF Lasagna 3.69

Tom Thumb Total- $14.48

Generic Lactose Free Milk 3.29
2 Hot Pockets 2.98
Jennie O Turkey Sausage 1.50
Jennie O Italian Turkey Sausage 1.50
Split Chicken Breasts 3.86
6 pk Club Soda 1.25

Target Total - $56.68

All Free Clear 12.00 (ow!)
Sensor Razor Blades 10.30 (ow again!)
2 Jimmy Dean Sausages 4.08
Can of Tomatoes .92
Clints Salsa 3.19
Barilla Sauce 1.89
2 Avocados 1.98
Cucumber .99
Bananas .77
Lime .33
Gala apples 3.46
Red grapes 2.26
Gluten-free waffles 3.68
Frz apple juice 1.12
12 pk Sprite 3.66
Smart Balance 2.54
Brown sugar 1.27


Maybe someday I'll have the courage to make my own laundry detergent like Gayle does, but I'm not there yet. And I found out tonight that N said he's trying to "help" me out by not shaving so much, thus not using up his expensive razors so quickly. What a sweet husband! LOL! If you haven't done it yet, head over to Grocery Cart Challenge to see how Gayle saves money on her weekly budget.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 2/16/09

This week's menu:

Monday: Brisket tacos, chips, salsa
Tuesday: Lasagna (no, it's not because I didn't make it last week. We're doing an encore!
Wednesday: Pizza Braided Bread
Thursday: Spicy Shrimp and Polenta (ok, this is because I haven't made it yet. Yep, week 4. Should I even bother?)
Friday: Tuna Casserole (ditto)

Dessert for every night: Chocolate covered raisins

For more creative and economical menu plans, visit Laura over at!

Neural-Tool Precepts


You might consider wearing a hard hat before entering this blog post any further. It's not pretty, but I've attempted to at least see the humor in what is just daily Monkey Momma life.

I’ve been a little frustrated lately with my OB’s office. Since this pregnancy started, I noticed there were a lot of changes going on at the office. It started with an actual physical remodel of the offices, which I might say in my non-design educated opinion, was really awful. The place used to have some lovely Japanese art, the walls were a cool Tiffany blue and the design and color scheme of the furniture and accessories were interesting and complimentary. You’d walk in immediately feeling peaceful. In the midst of infertility and pregnancy loss, this was a good thing. Of course, with my bent towards Asian decor, I just loved how it exuded a Zen experience right off the bat. Today? Brown, brown, brown. Nicely textured furniture in brown. Expensive Berber carpeting in brown. Pictures of flowers, in yellow, orange and brown. One of the nurses told me that one of the doctor’s wives did the design and wasn’t it wonderful? Smiling politely, but thinking inside, “Um…no. Actually, it’s really, really brown. Makes me think of turds. Which is not what I want to be thinking of when I’m laying on a cold table with my feet strapped in stainless steel.”

The ladies at the front counter are now different and not as polite. They’re gruff, business-like, bordering on grumpy on some days. Gone were the happy greetings I used to get from Connie and Cookie. Okay, new staff, I understand. Very busy snapping their gum, talking about their teenager that’s driving them nuts and what a jerk their boyfriend was to their mother, all the while, acting impatient while I sign in and fumble for my insurance and credit card.

Instead of the staff of very familiar, capable and friendly nurses like Sandy, Caroline, and Lydia, my OB now has one Medical Assistant, who shall remain nameless. She smells strongly of cat urine and body odor mixed, which is unpleasantly (and badly!) masked with some very florally drugstore perfume that I can actually taste because she’s taken a BATH in it that morning. She also snaps her gum and calls me “Sweetie”, even though I know I’m probably a good 10 years older than her.

My OB, a wonderful and caring individual, who I've ALWAYS adored, seems to be surrounded with a new staff that does not even come close to the level of personal care that I’ve received in the last 10 years of going to this practice. But then again, since this pregnancy, she hasn’t been returning my calls or emails in a prompt or timely manner like she used to. Granted, she’s about 9 months pregnant herself and I completely sympathize with pregnancy fog. I struggle with that daily, especially since I can’t take my ADD meds while I’m preggers. But it’s frustrating to be stewing for close to TWO WEEKS to get AFP/quad-screen results when I’m told it’s really just going to take 3 days.

It’s a simple test, they say.

Then why do I have to leave 2 messages with the Cat Urine Lady to not get answered and when I finally make a perturbed call, she only has one result on what is a QUAD screen?

MM: Thanks for the results on Trisomy 21. But what about Trisomy 13, 18, and neural tube defects?”

CUL: Neuro-tool-what?

I’m thinking to myself, are you serious?

MM: Neural-tube defects. Last time I was pregnant, I received very specific numbers, on all four of these birth defect tests. Trisomy 13, 18, 21, and neural tube defects or spina bifida. I was kind of expecting the same thing this time.

Paper shuffling, people talking in the background, snapping of gum. More paper shuffling.

CUL: Well, this is all Dr. H gave me, that your chances of Down’ that the Trisomy 21?

MM: Um...yeah.

CUL: Well that was 1 in 4,300.

MM: So you don’t have numbers on the other three results?

CUL: No.

MM: So why is this called a quad-screen if I’m only getting results for one test?

CUL: That’s a good question. *giggle, gum snap* But that’s all I have.

MM: Can we ask Dr. H? Or if she’s busy, is Sandy there? She’s the nurse that gave me the results last time. Maybe she can help?

CUL: Well, Sandy’s an RN, so she can read these reports better than I can. I’m just an M.A. I have to rely on Dr. H to give these to me so I can give them to you.

MM: Is Sandy available?

A big huffy sigh.

CUL: Hold on.

Cue staticky elevator music.

A very hormonal rant begins in my head as I listen to Hall and Oats in Musak: I’m so sorry to disturb your busy day on test results you promised to me five days ago. I’m 37. A quad-screen is a pretty important test and if you’ve had one tiny inkling that spina bifida runs through my blood, then you might not think it so bothersome for me to interrupt your day.



CUL: Okay, Sandy’s on another line, but I can tell you that the report states that Trisomy 18 shows a 1 in 11,947 chance, so that’s good. A strong negative. As for the uh…neuro-tool precepts, I’ll have to get Dr. H to get back with you. The results just say normal, they don’t have any specific numbers.

WTH!!! Neuro-tool precepts? Are you serious? But I'm almost giggling by now at the thought of what med school she attended.

MM: What about Trisomy 13?

CUL: I don’t see anything here on that.

I’ve given up at this point. I feel like I’m talking to a freshman in high school working the cookie counter at the mall.

MM: Okay, just have Dr. H get back with me.

CUL: Thanks Sweetie. I’ll give her the message.

MM: Okay, thanks.


Please know this: I am fully aware that when I have hormones surging through my veins at the pace they’re surging, my patience is very low. I try very hard to keep that in mind when things like this happen.


How on earth can an M.A. working full-time at an OB's office not know the term "neural tube defects"??? And asking a patient if Trisomy 21 is Down's? As my little nephew in Hico would say, for realz?

If I weren’t already half way through this pregnancy, I might seriously consider finding another OB’s office. To be honest, I've already Googled the best OB’s in North Dallas, but their practice's name is almost always at the top of the list. I've been going there since I moved to Texas over 10 years ago. I don't know anyone else or how good they are! I don't really want a new OB! I’d like to see where this office stands in the ratings a year from now, as these changes are just within the last several months. But good grief folks. Am I just being irrational and hormonal? Please tell. Please? I can handle it if that’s the case. Because then at least I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it's called an amazing little baby and then I can get myself medicated again and move on with a lovely life.

The light at the end of the tunnel? If you haven't taken our handy-dandy little poll at the top, please do. I can't wait to meet the little turkey! I just hope this staff doesn't try to pull him/her out with tongs on the Big Day!!!

Deep breath.

Okay, I'm better now. This experience DEFINITELY calls for some chocolate covered raisins tonight. Good thing it’s grocery night. Maybe I'll even talk N into watching some cheesy chick-flick or rom-com to ease the pain.

Neuro-tool precepts. LOLOL!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free Lasagna

FINALLY!!! After several weeks of having Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free Lasagna (lasagne?) on my Weekly Menu Plan, I made it! With the help of a friend that works at Whole Foods, I discovered that the store moved all their pastas into one area and my favorite gluten-free lasagne brand (Tinkyada) was now in the mainstream pasta aisle and no longer in the gluten-free aisle. And it was G.O.O.D y'all! I was so tickled, I thought I'd share the loveliness of it here. This is a mix of several different recipes I found online and in my trusty red Betty Crocker cookbook. If you know me, I'm rarely one to follow a recipe to the letter. Either way, I've never made lasagna and it turned out way better than I ever thought it would. (I had N on standby to make sandwiches, but surprisingly didn't need them.)

Anyways, it is VERY hearty, positively DELICIOUS, and even better leftover! (We froze some individual portions for quick meals when I don't feel like cooking.)

Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Lasagna


Gluten-free lasagna - cooked to box instructions
1 package Jimmy Dean sausage
2 jars Barilla Pasta Sauce of choice
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can mushrooms
1 small onion
1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 cup frozen broccoli, thawed
1/2 cup sliced zucchini (I didn't have this last week, but will this week)
1 carton firm tofu
shredded rice cheese


  1. Cook pasta per box instructions. Rinse in cool water and set aside.
  2. Dice onion and brown with sausage in large stockpot.
  3. Add 2 jars of Barilla pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, and mushrooms, heating through.
  4. Gently rinse and pat dry tofu. Break up with a fork to the consistency of Ricotta cheese.
  5. Mix spinach, broccoli, and zucchini in a bowl.
  6. Place large ladel of warm sauce in bottom of 13x9 casserole dish.
  7. Place lasagna noodles on top of sauce.
  8. Layer 1/3 of meat sauce on noodles
  9. Layer 1/3 of tofu.
  10. Layer 1/3 mixture of spinach, broccoli, and zucchini.
  11. Repeat with another layer of noodles, meat sauce, tofu, and vegetables a second time.
  12. Repeat with another layer of noodles, meat sauce, tofu, and vegetables a third time.
  13. Finish with a final layer of noodles, meat sauce, and grated rice cheese.
  14. Bake at 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Couple points to consider:

If the thought of cooking with tofu scares you, DON'T let it. It gives the perfect texture of Ricotta or cottage cheese and takes on the flavor of the meat sauce. Even N said it was really good and he's not a tofu type of guy.

If you don't like veggies in your lasagna, just leave them out. I just wanted something really hearty and the veggie mixture was perfect!

Sorry for not having a picture. We excitedly dug in without getting any shots. :-)

For more yummy recipes for the week, check out Gayle's site at Grocery Cart Challenge.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Nigh' Nigh'

Monkey's night-time routine is pretty basic. Bath, jammies, bottle, brush teeth, hugs and kisses, lights out. We've done this since Monkey was sleeping through the night around 8 months old. We used the "cry-it-out" method, which only lasted about 3 nights and it was the LONGEST three nights of our lives. But it paid off in the end. Monkey has pretty good sleep habits ever since. Usually 11 - 12 hours a night, going down about 7:30 every night. Just this past month we've had a hard time. Monkey seems to be going through a separation-anxiety phase...he's not liking being left alone, so there are more tears than we've ever had at bedtime. Hard for him, harder for Momma I think.

I know they aren't exciting, but I love capturing these little daily moments, because these are the things I want to remember later down the line when I'm old and feeble. (Comments from the Peanut Gallery can just leave that one alone.)


Hugs Momma...

Kisses too...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Because I Don't Say It Enough...

Grief is a burden. Rarely is it a tiny package. Rarely is it wrapped up nice and tidy. Rarely does it have a bow. Rarely are you asked if you want it and rarely is it given with good intentions. It is typically just “there”. It shows up, out of nowhere, with little or no warning. The reason is usually clear, but sometimes not. It is heavy, large, noisy, cumbersome, difficult to carry alone. Sometimes too heavy to even STAND STILL and hold it, let alone move while you’re carrying it. So much effort is gone into holding it without completely buckling, that even asking for help or encouragement is hard.

"Burdens" by Petro Ghebrehiwot (mixed media, 2007)

For those of you that have helped us carry our grief over the last several years, we cannot thank you enough. Grief has been an unwanted guest in our home. He is known by the name of infertility, pregnancy loss, searching for lost family, financial loss, career disappointments, frustrating health issues, resurfacing childhood memories, times of complete faithlessness in Him and disappointment in human goodness, fear of the unknown. Some of you know what we’ve gone through, some of you know only portions, others do not know at all. But for those of you who reached out to us in our darkest times, I cannot convey to you the level of gratitude we feel. Sometimes you were our only ray of hope.

Thank you for loving us. Thank you for encouraging us. Thank you for your prayers, your listening ears, dry shoulders, hugs, scripture readings, phone calls, emails, blog comments, cards in the mail, flowers, meals delivered, jokes shared. Some of you are across the country and nowhere close to even being able to feel like you could do anything. But you did. Thank you for not giving up on us when human instinct is to do exactly that…give up when you don’t see an end result or improvement. Thank you for understanding that we are imperfect and how immobilizing some of our experiences have been. Thank you for not waiting to be asked. Thank you for just stepping in. And most of all, thank you for being unconditional and unrelenting. You truly have been Jesus in Skin to us.

Altho' if you have given up on us, I cannot say I blame you. We've not been the best of friends to all the people we want to love on. I know this is an area we've really dropped the ball on with certain families. We very humbly ask that you forgive us and allow us another opportunity to be better friends.

We know your sacrifice to us is a gift and unfortunately, there is not enough time or money in our lives to repay you. We can only hope to stretch out our hands to others in their hour of need and pay it forward. And we know that your reward might not be on this side of Heaven, but there are jewels in your crown awaiting you in a better life. We look forward to seeing that crown placed on its designated head and KNOW without question, that your good deeds have not gone unacknowledged by the very One it matters and counts with most. We have no doubt that HE is so very proud of you!

Today I am feeling overwhelmed with the awareness of how much has been given to us.

I know we don’t say it enough: Thank you. I would name you each individually, but in my sinfulness (and in my pregnancy induced hormonal brain-fog), I would unintentionally leave someone out. But you know who you are. And I hope you understand how incredibly grateful we are.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day Dreamin'

Spring fever has hit. I soooo do not want to be here in this fluorescent covered cubicle. I feel like a really boring houseplant that hasn’t been watered in awhile. I'm hungry, thirsty, needing some attention, TLC and feeling...restless.

I want to be a daffodil in a springtime flowerbed. Or a paper-white. Or a hyacinth, so I’d be pretty AND smell good. I want to be soaking up the sun and feeling the heat bounce off the cement sidewalk next to me. I want to feel the breeze in my leaves and hear the dogs barking in the backyard. I want to see the absent-minded mailman put my neighbor’s mail in my box. I want to see the squirrels chasing each other up and around the oak tree across the street. I want to see the trees bud and the bees buzzing around. I want to see the red-breasted robin pulling worms out of the front yard and taking it to her nest of little blue eggs. I want to smell the scent of grass being cut and the cuttings flying across in the wind.

Just needing a tiny little escape from corporate America, I guess.

I know I’m here for a reason, Lord. But I just want a reprieve from the stifling grey walls and unspoken apathy. Thank you for showing and giving me Hope in your creation. Thank you for Spring. Thank you for blessing me with internet friends that become Real Life Friends. Thank you for those Real Life Friends that have the courage to speak Truth to themselves and to me. Thank you for reminding me that there is a season for everything and that no matter how hard something might be right now, that no season is permanent. Thank you for giving me real life circumstances that teach me how unchanging You are. Thank you for reminding me that You ARE Good, no matter our circumstances. Thank you for loving us in spite of our inability to be satisfied with silence and stillness. Please forgive us for being so incredibly self-absorbed.

And thank you for reprieve's like today. Please help me to bless my friend the way she has blessed me.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Weekly Shopping Trip - 2/9/09

Just a smidge over budget this week, but since I've been under the last few weeks, I'm still happy!


Bulk Dark Chocolate Covered Raisins 4.04
Rice Cheese 3.49
GF Bagels 4.99
2 Cucumbers 1.78

Total $14.30

Tom Thumb

Oranges 1.18
Grapes 1.72

Total $4.48


4 pack Monsters 5.99
Hormel Deli Ham 2.99
Hormel Bacon 3.69
1 bag Lettuce 2.00
Organic celery 1.99
Honey Comb 2.84
Bananas .84
Gala apples 2.23
Frz broccoli 1.19
Frz corn .99
2 Boxes GF Waffles 3.78
Minute Maid Frz OJ 2.14
Generic Frz Apple Juice 1.12
1 Gallon Milk 1.99
1/2 Gallon Lactaid 3.49
18 eggs 2.49
Dove Shampoo 5.99
Dove Conditioner 5.99
2 Qt Plastic Bottle 3.19
Bottle Dried Parsley .89

Total $57.47

Grand Total $76.25

So I got just a teeny bit distracted and strayed from my list just a little. Chocolate covered raisins, GF Bagels and the rice cheese. I don't need any of them, but Sprouts always wraps me around her little finger. I'm a little embarrassed to say that I've never realized how expensive my shampoo is. Wow. $12! One new thing I'm trying this week: frozen concentrated juice. Bought a plastic jug and I'm going to see if I save any extra money this week. I might consider doing this with generic bagged cereal as well. But will need to buy one of thsoe plastic jugs a week. They're a bit spendy. Otherwise, pretty uneventful trip.

Menu Plan Monday - 2/9/09

Wow. Last week was a total bust. I won't really go into details, to save y'all the pain, but two words: stomach flu. I was hit Tuesday night and never really recovered until early weekend. N and Monkey are fine (as of the writing of this post) and we're crossing fingers that it stays that way. I'm choosing to say I had stomach flu because I'm really not sure if it was that, food poisoning or reaction to being contaminated by a food allergen. The symptoms are always the same for me - use your imagination. But on Friday when my OB said that over 50% of her patients have struggled with the same symptoms this past month from stomach flu, I'm labeling it as such.

So, to make a long story longer, I didn't cook much this past week in spite of having the ingredients.

But I must share this one very important thing...

Can I tell you how incredibly grateful I am for a husband that is laid-back and easy-going when it comes to his appetite?

Popcorn for dinner?

Ramen noodles?
Let me cook it honey, you rest.

Deli meat, crackers, and cheese plate?
Can I get you a glass of water while I put it together?

I've since quit asking myself what I've done to deserve such a life partner, because the answer is simple: NOTHING! Either way, God has graced me and I try not to take it for granted. Seriously, I have the BEST husband ever!

So, apologies up front for some repeated items (again!!!) on this week's menu.

Monday: Tuna Casserole
Tuesday: Brisket, green beans,
Wednesday: Ramen noodle/Popcorn night
Thursday: Baked Potato Soup
Friday: Lasagne, salad (YES - I FOUND Gluten-Free lasagne noodles!!!)

Since it seems that every week I'm not cooking at least two meals, I'm not even scheduling anything for the weekends. We'll see how it goes this week. To meet more Menu Planning Momma's visit here.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Helping Daddy With a VERY Stinky Dog!

We took advantage of the nice weather to do a very, very overdue chore. We bathed him indoors, but air-drying outdoors is key. The smell of wet dog in the house? No thanks!

Momma, why is Bo-Bo in my bathtub???

Why don't we ever use that long thing-y when I take a bath???

Why do they do these terrible things to me? Water? SOAP?! Do they have any idea what my dog friends are going to say when they get a whiff of this baby shampoo on me?

I'm so humiliated.

Okay, I'm bored. He doesn't try to drink the bath water or make funny bubbles or anything! I'm moving on to my bath toys...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Grocery Budget Definition

This will be my third week on the Grocery Cart Challenge Shopping Diet. I've had quite a few of you girl friends email me with questions and pointers about what I'm doing, what's included in my budget, etc. So I decided to just put them out here for everyone to read.

Couple points on what the definition of "grocery budget" is in our household and how I do things:

  • Food, basic toiletries, paper goods (TP, papertowels, girl stuff)

  • Right now I'm keeping make-up, spa-type needs in my "personal" spending budget. Neil has his own too. I use department store stuff and if I run out of base and mascara in one week, our grocery budget is shot. Since most of you know I'm not a fashionista when it comes to clothes, this is one area I allow myself to splurge. I like nice makeup and skincare stuff. :-)

  • We keep pet food in a line item with other pet stuff (grooming, medical, litter, etc.)

  • We keep baby things in a line item with other baby stuff (diapers, wipes, cuppies, formula, etc.)

  • We keep baby gifts for baby showers in a line item for gifts. The simple fact that we have this as a line item shows you where our social circle is right now. Ha! If that budget line item doesn't get used for the month, we continue accruing it every month for special needs. There is always someone in your life that could use some financial help. And when you've automatically been saving every month for that purpose, when a need arises you're not scrambling for cash. It's already there. I imagine at some point, this could also be used for a charity, should we feel led down that route.

  • So what does this mean if I need diapers, kitty litter, and groceries at the same time? I ask the clerk to make three different transactions. This might be trouble-some to some of you, but for me, I'd rather do this than try to figure out general ledger changes once I'm home. If any of you know me, I'm REALLY bad at math. Talk about confusing. I'd have our budget so screwed up.

  • Do I ever purchase pre-packaged snacks? Yes. Admittedly, not much. I purchase just enough for the week. Why? Because Monkey goes to school full-time, his tuition provides him breakfast, lunch, and two to three snacks a day, as well as all the milk he wants to drink. So we don't really need a lot of snacks in the house. But if we do, stuff we have is: dry cereal, goldfish, pretzels sticks, cheez-its, soda crackers, fresh fruit. Simple stuff we always have in the house, although not all of this at once.

  • Do I spend more because of my allergy issues? Yes. I try to keep things manageable, but that's just one of the things I need to consider in my list. Gluten-free items are expensive. A box of penne pasta for N and Monkey costs me 88 cents. For me, $3.59. Just part of the deal. Eat cheap and get sick, or eat healthy and it cost more. *shrug* I will say that Monkey prefers the gluten-free stuff. I've attempted saving money by cooking two pots of pasta, one for me and one for the family. But it hasn't worked. He refuses to eat regular glutenous stuff. Not sure why, but again...another thing I just have to consider in my list.

  • I don't really cut coupons. I simply don't have the time or patience right now. The only exception to that rule is the diaper coupons I get mailed to me. I will say a pointer I learned on another money-saving blog: keep the coupons IN THE CAR. How many times have you been to the store and realized your coupons are at home? Agggg! So anytime I get coupons, I put them in an envelope in the car. Same with those 20% off coupons at Bed Bath and Beyond. What good are they at home?

  • As of right now, I only go to Target and Sprouts. I haven't found good enough deals to make an additional stop to CVS or Wahlgreen's, as they are rather out of my way. With working full-time, I literally have about 45 minutes a week to shop at my two stores before I pick up a baby from school, so my time is pretty limited. Should I find a deal that I cannot pass up, I'm sure I'll adjust for the week. But if I make this too complicated, I will say it won't be fun anymore and I'll quit. And right now, it's important for me to stay in budget and do it EASILY, otherwise I'll give up.

We might find these things changing at some point, but that's how it is for now. I've read Gayle's GCC for around a year now, feeling inspired every week to do something, but just haven't had the courage to actually put a plan into action. Part of why it took me so long was that I was expecting my plan to look exactly like hers. Which I finally realized, I JUST CAN'T DO. We have different circumstances, different needs, different goals. So I decided what I WASN'T going to do is look for perfection. This was going to be something that I could tweak, change, and mold as our needs were discovered through the process. When I mentioned this in a previous blog post, Gayle emailed me and congratulated me simply on the effort and confessed that it took her about 6 months to figure out what was best for herself. SO...with that...I felt even more permission to do what was best for our family. Nor more pressure, no more guilt, I am in charge of this and the only expectations I need to meet are mine. Which I've finally loosened that ridiculous noose around my neck and decided to let this be an experiment for awhile. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. But so far, it IS and I'm learning a TON of stuff in the meantime about our spending habits. (Like, that first I really need to buy two pounds of chocolate covered candies. Holy cow, was that embarrassing to post on my list. LOL!)

All of that to say, if you're reading my Weekly Menu Plan and Shopping Trip journals every week, wondering if you can do this, JUST TRY IT. I encourage you to NOT be like me and wait until next year before you realize this is YOUR program. Do not expect yourself to do what the W household does, like I expected me to do what Gayle does. It probably won't work, which means you'll get discouraged and give up before you've really given yourself a chance.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Playing at Gramma's

Okay, I've been officially reprimanded for not enough Monkey pictures. LOL! This is for the grandparents. :-)

This past Sunday was spent at Gramma and De-da's watching the Super Bowl with some friends and family. I didn't get too many good shots that day, but here are some of the cuter ones...

Playing peek-a-boo with De-Da

A little later in the evening (after a diaper change that didn't get quite finished), little Monkey playing under the sink. Let's just say that there are less "no-no" zones at Gramma's than at home. But don't soon as he started trying to play with the cleaning scrub, we distracted him with some other more interested toys... books! We love books! Which just thrills Mommy, as some of her best memories growing up were with books.

Family in Hawaii: notice JK's birthmark in this last shot? Does JL still have his like this?

For those of you that don't know, JK was named after my brother JL, who had (still has?) a birthmark exactly like this, in the exact same spot as a child. Genetics are a strange thing...

I'll try to get more shots of him later this week, I promise.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Weekly Shopping Trip - 2/2/09

Woohoo! The best week yet. But, I had no paper goods or proteins to buy. And I have this terrible feeling I'm forgetting something, so I'm not celebrating quite yet. LOL!

Tom Thumb

2 Gallons Whole Milk $3.98
2 1/2 Gallons Generic Lactose-Free Milk 6.58

Total $10.56


4-pack Magic Erasers $3.44
Wavy Lays 2.50
2 cans Red Bull 3.78
Hormel Bacon 3.49
Hormel Ham 3.69
Generic Frosted Flakes 3.94
1 Bottle Liquid Smoke 1.39
Emeril Cajun Spice 3.69
2 Bananas 0.51
2.42 lbs gala apples 3.61
2 Red Baron Pizzas 6.04

Total $36.72


Bulk sea salt 0.24
GF Macaroni 3.49
GF Fettucine 3.49
2 cucumbers 2.50
2.67 lbs oranges 1.84
1.81 lbs Red seedless grapes 3.60
3.77 lbs Russet bakers 2.60
3 Texas grapefruits 0.50

Total $18.26

Grand Total $65.54

This Week's Challenges:

Not reading the adds - If I'd read the adds, I'd have known that Tom Thumb's grapes were half the price of Sprouts.

Indulgences - Like I mentioned last week, N rarely has specific requests from the grocery store. Well, on top of the fact that I have a very laid back, easy to please husband, I found out this week that when he wants something he just gets it on his own. LOL! I went over the bank statement and couldn't figure out all these little debit card requests from a Quik Stop by N's office. The culprit? Red Bull runs. LOL! So we...ahem...talked. And decided for him to start putting it on our grocery list and taking it out of the proper budget.

Lesson's Learned:

Gluten-free lasagna noodles are nowhere to be found in the town I live in - Even Whole Foods didn't carry it. They used to a long time ago, but that was the WF up in Plano when we lived up there. So I'm a little bummed. I've had lasagne on the silly menu plan for three weeks and I still haven't gotten to make it. If anyone see gluten-free lasagne noodles at their local store, would you please just buy it for me? I'll pay you back, I promise!

Take shopping bags to Sprouts - I mentioned this last week, but I am disappointed I didn't take my bags to Sprouts. Five bags of groceries could have saved me twenty-five cents. Not much, but it all adds up.

To meet other savvy, budget-minded shoppers, visit Gayle's site at Grocery Cart Challenge.


(last minute work baby shower)


Red bell pepper
Yellow bell pepper
Orange bell pepper
2 fresh jalapenos
Organic corn chips

Total $5.99

Bringing new weekly grand total to $71.53! Woohoo! Still under budget.

Menu Plan Monday - 2/2/09

I'm excited about finding some "lost items" in my pantry and freezer this week, so I'm hoping it contributes to another successful week at the Grocery Store! But my menu plan this week is pretty aggressive and I'm not sure I'm going to be able to stick with it. We'll see...

Monday: Baked potato and salad bar
Tuesday: Ramen Noodle Night (God bless my husband for agreeing to this!)
Wednesday: Tuna Casserole (Can you believe I've never made this before?)
Thursday: Red Beans and Rice w/Cornbread
Friday: Blackened Shrimp and Creamy Polenta (The third week for me to put this on the menu plan. I just keep not cooking it for some reason.)
Saturday: Lasagne (Again, on the menu again, because I didn't cook it last week.)
Sunday: Brisket, green beans, corn

My gut feeling is this is slightly too ambitious, but if so, I know we'll just have more meals to put on next week's menu. LOL! Either way, I've been sticking to my weekly budget and that's really what my priority is.

For more creative and economical menu plans, visit Laura over at!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Random Sunday


A peaceful Sunday afternoon and I should be taking a nap. Except I'm not sleepy. Yes, you read that right. I'M NOT SLEEPY. WTH??? Yesterday was my first day back on my beloved coffee. A tiny half cup of fresh brewed with an equal amount of steamed, sugary, vanilla soy. Oh, it was pure, blessed heaven! I even used my china coffee cup and made a celebration of it. I didn't take a shower yesterday, but I had my lovely coffee in my jammies, jacked up monkey hair, and fine china, watching my son dance to some music in a commercial. It was a good day! Such a good day that I thought I'd repeat it all again today. Another hot cuppa with steamed soy, except with extra room for a shower. It really was a lovely morning. The smell of coffee no longer makes me nauseous and I'm actually remembering the love affair I've always had with it. So I'm now wondering if missing my coffee for the last three months has really contributed that much to my fatigue. I guess so...


Last night I baked two breakfast casseroles for our ABF's Diapers and Wipes Shower for Baby Girl H AND a bundt cake for tonight's Super Bowl party we're attending. I ran out of ingredients half way through and when I realized I'd have to hit the grocery store for a much needed item, I figured I need to get a little creative or grow a back-gone in the aisles. I knew I had $4.15 left in this week's budget and literally could not do these three baked items without eggs. So I got two dozen eggs, browsed the household cleaner aisle (longingly looking at the box of Magic Erasers), and literally looked down at the floor all the way to the checkout line. I knew if I wasn't careful, all that Valentine candy was going to beckon me sweetly. But I got out of the store only spending $3.70 of my remaining $4.15. I was pretty happy! Still 45 cents under budget this week.

MY FRIEND ALISON: About a month ago, I found a blog that had a model with the cutest little kitchen apron. So I emailed a few of my friends that have a great reputation on the sewing machine, asking if anyone would be willing to make one for me. But these friends also have several monkeys of their own, so I didn't have high hopes that I'd really get any takers. But my friend Alison emailed me last week asking if she could still do one. YES, yes, yes! I'll happily pay for time and materials! And TODAY at church, yes, a mere...6 days later...Alison meets me at bible study with The Cutest Apron EVER! Here it is with my earlier mentioned Super Bowl Party Cake.

Which now that I look at the cake on this blog, looks like a bad drugstore Valentine puked all over a bundt tin. Hmmm. So glad it tastes REALLY yummy!


Okay, so he's not a personal friend, but he was the speaker at today's worship service. If you don't know Andy Pettitte, he's a professional pitcher for the NY Yankees. All I can say is that I SO NEEDED to be there! Without going into a lot of detail, let me just confess that my heart was not in a good place today. I did not want to be in worship and sing praise songs that make me cry. I did not want to go listen to a professional baseball jock talk about what amazing blessings God had given him by being able to play in the Big Leagues and make millions of dollars and blah, blah, blah. But I went anyway and I'm so grateful for it. First off, he started by saying, "You are probably thinking, 'What do you know about hardships, you have a good family, you make a lot of money, you have a good job. Which is true. But I want to share with you with you a little about my life and what God has taught me with some of my struggles..."

As Mr. Pettitt shared his testimony, some of his points really struck a deep chord in me. He basically pointed out that God's plans for ALL of us include delays and defeats, but that if we really have faith in Him as our Savior, that we HAVE to hang tough and stick it out with whatever is placed in our paths. He shared some of his personal delays in his life: not making the team, not getting to the major leagues when he felt ready for it, not getting healthy quick enough after being on the disabled list, etc. And he shared some of the defeats he struggled with: getting traded when he loved the organization he was with, the death of his best friend, watching his son and daughter recover from a tragic four-wheeling accident.

I know this sounds silly, but I felt like God was using him to speak to me personally.

Mr. Pettitt reminded me today what Jeremiah 29:11 says:

"For I know the plans I have for you", says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and hope."

It's a scripture I've read many, many times before, but for some reason today they just seemed to really click with some personal struggles lately.

So thank you Andy Pettitte for reminding me to focus where I need to focus: On HIM. Thank you for reminding me that our circumstances (good or bad) are not a reflection of His Love for us. That His love is unconditional, unswerving simply in His sacrifice for us. Thank you for reminding me to hang in there...that obedience and faithfulness in Him is what's important. Thank you for reminding me that delays and defeats are not a reflection of Him abandoning me, but just part of the bigger picture that has a miraculous Plan. Thank you for overcoming your fear of speaking and coming to visit our congregation. Because it's like you said: I was not there by accident today. I was there to hear just as you were there meant to speak.