Friday, June 29, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement - Ginger-Scallion Salmon

Scallion-Ginger Baked Salmon with Baby Bok ChoyYes, I'm on an Asian-style cooking kick!

Ginger-Scallion Salmon Ingredients
Cucumber Salad:
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup mirin (Japanese rice wine)
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
2 cucumbers, halved, seeded, and cut into very thin slices

Ginger Crust:
1/3 cup minced fresh ginger root
4 green onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup peanut oil

2 tablespoons peanut oil
4 (8 ounce) center-cut salmon fillets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons honey

Ponzu Butter:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons ponzu sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Kosher salt to taste


To make the cucumber salad, stir together sesame oil, dill, rice vinegar, mirin, and sesame seeds in a glass or plastic bowl; add cucumber, and toss until well coated. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
To prepare the ginger crust, stir together the ginger, green onions, and garlic in a sturdy, metal bowl; set aside. Heat 1/4 cup peanut oil in a small saucepan over high heat until it begins to smoke. Remove from heat, and carefully stir in the ginger mixture; set aside.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a large, ovenproof, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season salmon fillets to taste with salt and pepper. Sear salmon until golden brown on both sides, 30 to 40 seconds per side. Transfer to a plate, and wipe excess oil from skillet. Spread honey over top of fillets, then evenly spread with reserved ginger crust.
Replace salmon into the skillet, and place into the oven. Bake until the center of the salmon turns opaque, 6 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir in shallots, and cook until softened and translucent, about 2 minutes. Pour in white wine, then simmer until nearly evaporated. Add the ponzu sauce and heavy cream, reduce by 1/2. Remove from heat, then whisk in cold butter pieces until dissolved; season to taste with kosher salt.
To assemble the dish, season the cucumber salad to taste with salt. Divide the salad evenly onto four plates, spreading it out into a 4 to 5-inch circle. Drizzle the ponzu butter onto the bare area of the plate, around the cucumber salad. Place a salmon fillet, crust-side up, on top of the salad, and serve.

Buon Appetito! Leah

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Colorado Springs On Fire

Air Force Academy Chapel

Colorado Springs. It’s where I was born. At the Air Force Academy Hospital, to be precise.

As the Waldo Canyon fire grows, I’m being reminded that Colorado Springs means even more to me than being born there and having tons of pictures of me with Pikes Peak and the mountains in the background.

My BFF who has spent the last 13 years talking about how all she really wants is to return to Colorado, has finally put plans in place to leave New York City in August and move back to her home state.  Yesterday, her parents were evacuated and the home of her very first job (Flying W Ranch) just burned to the ground. She is terrified. As pictures and video of her hometown up in flames flood the internet and news; she feels helpless.

My sister-in-law and her husband and four children were evacuated from her home in Chipita Park a few days ago.

That's me with my mom on the left!
Trina’s brother lives there. And I have a friend from my good ol’ Hawaii days who lives in the Springs with her family.

I was lucky enough to make a trip there for business when I was seven months pregnant with Luke.  I loved every minute of it! I met Zac’s sister and my nieces and nephews for dinner at Fargo's Pizza -the world's largest family pizza restaurant that my family had frequented when I was a kid. I had a beautiful sleep in a cozy room at The Cheyenne Mountain Resort. It’s insanely beautiful in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

A piece of my heart is there and always will be. Not only through memories, but in the people I love who are there and are experiencing such a scary time with their families and homes. 

In the rush of our lives, it’s so easy to get caught up on not having enough or wanting more.  But, everything can change in a heartbeat. So take this time to appreciate today and what you do have.

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who is being affected by the wildfire in Colorado Springs. Godspeed!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Keeping Up with the Cleavers...or Not So Much

Dear June, I must say, I'm exhausted.  I would like to know, how did you do it?  Did you take a small dose of crack-cocaine each morning?  Or did you simply drink coffee until you crashed?  

So, I'm thinking I'm going to be really skinny on this new path I've chosen.  I rarely sit down, because I'm running constantly.  If I sit down to eat, I'm getting back up because one of my children needs something.  Eating, what's eating?  Yesterday I realized I didn't even have breakfast by the time lunch started.  People have constantly asked me, "aren't you afraid you will get bored staying  home?"  Ha, fat chance!  I don't have time to think, let alone get bored.  I'll go crazy and they'll have to give me meds before I get bored.  By the time the kids are getting ready for nap, I'm so desperately in need of a nap myself that there will be no quiet time for me, at least now.  All I need is sleep.

I will say, while I'm exhausted, and not quite used to answering the constant calls of mommy this or mommy that, I'm having a great time.  I already have a tan from being outside with the kids in the pool.  My flowers are looking amazing, because I have the time to mess with them, not look at them with disdain when I get home from a long day at work.  While my house isn't cleaner per say, I definitely have time to pick it up as we go, which is a totally new concept for me.  Last night, we stayed up till 9:30 and played ladders, an outdoor game I'm actually pretty darn amazing at, while the kids ran around and played (Clayton, as naked as a jaybird).  Then, we all came in and had homemade icecream.

I feel myself morphing into this different person.  My goal was to focus on my kids this summer, and then this fall really push for my writing career to launch.  Of course, time is money in that business so I have to focus on it to a small degree at least until then - but I've realized something important this last week and a half; I'm focusing on me, even while chasing around two wild kiddos.  I ran outside yesterday a.m. without the worry of time.  I did my ab work out.  I took a nap.  I researched some new markets I'm going to query for articles.  I drank my coffee and let the kids wake up at their own leisure.  I'm, healing.

Healing from what you ask?  Healing my wounds from a life full of stress, hustle, and bustle.  Healing from the guilt of missing so many important moments with my children (I smile with glee to see what Mr. Clayton has in store for me today-he's talking up a storm now).  Healing from thinking I constantly have to be perfect, and do everything perfect.  Healing from the daily, choking fear I'd have to do something for the rest of my life that I didn't love.

In the meantime, Mrs. Cleaver, I could I get some of that crack?  I have a long day today.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement ~ Queso Chicken

Hello comfort food!  This will make you feel like you are eating cheesy chicken, yet knowing it's not full of fat.  It was spicy enough that the hubby enjoyed, but not too much where it was too hot for the kids. 

  • 6 boneless chicken breasts 
  • 3 teaspoons Taco Seasoning
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded 
  • 1/4 cup light cream or 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup light may (optional, makes a bit creamier)
  • Squash & Zucchini, sliced & either steamed or cooked in a frying pan with olive oil  and 1 tbl butter (side dish)

10 ounce can Ro-tel tomatoes, drained (tomatoes with green chilies)
Season the chicken breasts with the taco seasoning. Grill and keep warm while preparing the queso sauce.
In a medium microwaveable bowl, mix the sour cream, cheese and milk or cream. Heat on stove over medium-high heat to melt the cheese; stir until well blended and creamy. Whisk in the mayonnaise until smooth then stir in the Ro-tel tomatoes. Microwave about 2 minutes on 50% power until heated through. Serve the sauce over the chicken. Garnish with sliced green onions, if desired, and serve the squash & zucchini as a side. 

Happy Eating Friends! ~ Trina

Saturday, June 23, 2012

You Know You're a Mommy of Young Boys When...

  • ·        You have to explain, repeatedly, why you don't have a penis.

    ·        You have to muffle a scream when you step on a Matchbox car or army man in the middle of the night.

    ·        While you're driving around town, you point out every single fire truck, cop car and ambulance with enthusiasm like you just spotted a celebrity - "Look! Cop car!"

    ·        You try to find the best way to explain that its okay to pee behind a tree while camping but not in a bush at the playground.

    ·        You're constantly redirecting rough play by saying "that's a daddy can climb on him when he gets home!"

    ·        You've said more than once, "You're handsome, not pretty. Girls are pretty."

    ·        You're afraid to look when you hear "mom, look at what I can do!"

    ·        Your house is filled with human impersonations of car motors, explosions and sirens.

    ·        Your friends with just daughters wonder why your boys just won't sit still during lunch at the Chick-Fil-A playland.

    ·        You can’t lie on the floor without fearing someone will jump on you without notice.

    ·        Your heart melts when your son tells you he will never ever leave you.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Terrible Twos Begin...

I'm not sure how I forgot this terrible phase.  Callie definitely went through it, but somehow, it became a distant flicker of a memory, barely there to remember.  Now she's a grown up 5-year-old, sassy as ever but at least we can have discussions and negotiate on things that are negotiable or she can understand reason.  Clayton is an entirely different ballgame.

Clayton is still not talking much, and he turned 2 years old May 3rd.  He basically says, Mom, Dad, milk, sissy, ball, shoes, snack, and a few other words that cover the basics.  When he wants something, he points and screams, "mommy!"...there's no in-between voice.  It's either high pitched or screaming. I know what you are thinking, make him tell you what he wants before giving it to him.  Yes, I've tried that, and continue to do so; it's a process of it's own.  Sometimes I think, I'm going to give him the dang toy or whatever he wants just so he will quit the high-pitched screaming.  Mother of the year?  Maybe not, but at least admit you can relate!

As I type, he's screaming in his room.  It's nap time, and as usual, he's throwing a gigantic temper tantrum because he doesn't want to lie down.  Just like last night at 1:30 a.m...which would explain my continuous exhaustion.  He's the most hard-headed, stubborn child I've ever seen, which says a lot because Callie Jo is pretty headstrong as well.

He's also started hitting.  He hits his sister, he hits me, he hits anyone, other than dad because he knows he's going to get a serious busting if he does that.  So then I think, maybe spanking does work, even though I've always thought teaching to not hit by hitting isn't the wisest choice; maybe he just respects his daddy so much more. So there's many (weak) spankings, many more time-outs, lots of yelling, and one worn-out mommy.  Perfect time for mommy to quit her job and stay home with her kids right?  Maybe I should've waited until he was 3...kidding, kidding.

No matter what, I know in a few months, the hard work and consistency will pay off if I can stick to it.  Eventually, we'll be having conversations and he'll understand and be able to communicate how he's feeling or what he's needing, and understand my expectations and demands.  Until then, I just have to remember I've done this once, I can do it again.  I may be crazy by then...and go through plenty of Sangria, but I will survive the terrible twos, yet again! ~ Trina

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement - Steak Diane

I first tried Steak Diane at my mother-in-law's home. Fantastic! She gave us her recipe, but I wanted to add a little more to it so I've been on the hunt. Until, I found this recipe on the Food via Emeril Lagasse (a famous chef who calls Sandestin home - or so I've read). The only thing I left off of his recipe is the veal stock.

Steak Diane

4 (3-ounce) filet mignon medallions

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

4 teaspoons minced shallots

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup sliced white mushroom caps

1/4 cup Cognac or brandy

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 drops hot red pepper sauce

1 tablespoon finely chopped green onions

1 teaspoon minced parsley leaves


Season the beef medallions on both sides with the salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook for 45 seconds on the first side. Turn and cook for 30 seconds on the second side. Add the shallots and garlic to the side of the pan and cook, stirring, for 20 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until soft, 2 minutes. Place the meat on a plate and cover to keep warm.

Tilt the pan towards you and add the brandy. Tip the pan away from yourself and ignite the brandy with a match. (Alternatively, remove the pan from the heat to ignite, and then return to the heat.) When the flame has burned out, add the mustard and cream, mix thoroughly and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the Worcestershire and hot sauce and stir to combine. Return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pan and turn the meat to coat with the sauce.

Remove from the heat and stir in the green onions and parsley. Divide the medallions and sauce between 2 large plates and serve immediately.

Buon Appetito! Leah

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cardinal Rule #1: Thou Shalt Not Sleep in Thy Mother's Bed

Oops!  Hey, don't judge, we had a rough night last night!

Clayton has started this new thing as part of his terrible two's stage.  Nightmares.  Or, at least, that's what I assume they are.  He's always been the most amazing sleeper, since he was six months old.  Then, out of nowhere, bam, he's waking up about every other night.  And there's no giving him a pacifier or blankie to get him back to sleep.  He wants to be rocked...for awhile.

Since I started staying home Monday, I took on the nighttime duties with open arms.  Before, Shannon and I would switch off nights.  I think he does much better at those 1:30 a.m. wake up calls!  So last night, sure enough, 1:30 a.m. I hear a crying.  I wait, as sometimes he goes back to sleep.  More crying.  I get up in exasperation, we have a big trip planned to visit my brother in Colorado Springs in the morning, and I don't want anyone to be tired.  I pick up my adorable little man and rock, and rock...and no sleeping.  He points to the door, and I know what he wants.  Sometimes his dad takes him to the couch and sits with him there.   We try that...another epic fail.

Enter in bad mommy decision.  I'm exhausted, let's just lay down in mommies bed.  And, we do, and he falls right to sleep.  I attempt to put him back in his bed, knowing this can only mean big trouble.  He wakes right up and grips on to my shoulders as though I'm about to drop him off a tall cliff.  He back to my bed we go.

I'm usually a tough mom about stuff.  I only let Callie crawl in our bed in utter exasperated exhaustion.  I didn't let her watch SpongeBob until I realized she'd been watching it at daycare all along.  I only make one meal, and they eat or they don't (unless it's just unreasonable food for a toddler that I'm dying to eat).  I feed them generally healthy food, and stick to the rules I make.  So where does this slacker within come from?  Is it the tiredness that creeps up and sucks away our ability to make conscious and wise decisions?  Or is it our patience, weened away little by little through the day until we have nothing left?  Or, is it we simply think, screw it; my first kid turned out fine, this one will turn out great too, even if I don't do everything perfect.  Even if I can't do everything perfect.

My husband gave me a huge grin this morning as if to say "Ha, ha, you gave in!  If that was me, you'd be giving me hell!  Now what are you going to do?"  Actually, I'm pretty sure he said some of those words. I smiled back as though I was prepared; I had a plan.  Now I must improvise when we get home for bedtime.  But, if there's one thing I know as moms we do's improvise!  ~ Trina

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cooking with Kids

Over my son's 3 1/2 years, we've seen his interests range from being a doctor, a cop, Batman and a "maker" (his word for chef...I think he gets it from me saying I'm going to go "make" dinner,).  Though he puts on each of these faces several times a day, he's shown a growing desire to be mixing and measuring and layering lately.

I'm constantly suppressing the urge to tell him no just for the sake of keeping my kitchen clean and not having to buy a new carton of eggs every 3 days. So I've been trying to be creative in giving in to his chef instincts. I invite him into the kitchen when I'm about to start dinner. He already has an assigned station where he has his own bowls and spoons. I pre-measure samples of what we're making that night so he can make his own mini-meal alongside me.

I walk him through the process from reading the recipe (of course, he's not ready just yet...but it's the idea of it that's important) and measurements to describing a tasting the ingredients (most of them).  We go over kitchen safety with knives and the oven. He feels a bit of independence too as we've done this over time and he knows where to get certain ingredients or utensils that are within his reach.

This has been a great way for us to count together and since he is literally "hands on" - he has been more receptive to trying new things at the dinner table knowing that he was involved in the preparation. And the best part is the laughs we share as we spend this time together.

Patience is key.  It's not every night that I feel like I have two hours to create dinner. As many of us moms know, it can be a crazy rush to get dinner on the table. But when we do have the time, I really give it time.  There will be spills and maybe too much or too little of something will go into our concoction.  Then again, isn't that how some really great recipes are created - by accident?

I love to cook, so for me, Luke's interest in cooking is a great time. But I've also been handcuffed and I've spent a fair share of my time on Dr. Speer's hospital bed.  Last week I helped him build that city that Batman lives in out of Legos. What city does he live in anyway?  

Whatever your kids interests are, understand they'll continue to change - but take the time to embrace them and try to be involved with them in what excites them.   

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movements ~ Skinny Broccoli and Beef

My husband loved this recipe.  I served it over brown rice, and cut up the broccoli and smushed it with the rice, then served the beef, sliced into tiny slices, over the rice and broccoli so my kids would eat it.  They asked for seconds!  I will definitely be making this one again!


  • 3/4 pound flank or sirloin, sliced thinly across the grain
  • 3/4 pound broccoli florets (I used frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely minced or smushed through garlic smusher
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water (I used whole wheat flour)
  • Brown Rice cooked according to package directions (as a side)

For the beef marinade
  • 2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry) - (I substituted rice vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy cause
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry) (I substituted rice vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth


1 Marinate the beef: Stir together the beef marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the beef slices and stir until coated. Let stand for 10 minutes
2 Prepare the sauce: Stir together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
3 Blanch the broccoli: Cook the broccoli in a small pot of boiling, salted water until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly.
4 Heat a large frying pan or wok over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and instantly evaporates upon contact. Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the beef and immediately spread the beef out all over the surface of the wok or pan in a single layer (preferably not touching). Let the beef fry undisturbed for 1 minute. Flip the beef slices over, add the garlic to the pan and fry for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute until no longer pink, Pour in the sauce, add the blanched broccoli and bring to a boil. Pour in the dissolved cornstarch and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens, 30 seconds.

Serve over brown rice w/extra soy sauce. 
Happy Eating Friends! ~ Trina

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Saving/Budgeting...It's Easier Than I Thought!

100-dollar-bill.gif image by jhornbeckWith me leaving my job, Shannon and I realized we'd have to cut back in certain areas.  The first area was spending money.  We basically could buy anything we wanted, when we wanted.  While that seems like a lot of fun, money is simply wasted doing this and now we are wishing we’d made our current budget stick back when I was working. But, you know the saying, the more you make, the more you spend.  It’s true! 

The second area was groceries.  I knew I was mindlessly spending in that area too, so I looked at how I could cut back…and was amazed. I’ve cut out $50 a week and brought my grocery bill from $800 a month to $600.  This includes any wine or liquor, or any extras at the store period.  Think about saving an extra $2,600 a year, in a savings account, and not even missing it!

It seems like some big secret right?  Some amazing tip?  How do you save $50 a week in groceries?  It’s simple friends.  Be aware, and go alone (if you can, no hubby, no kids!).  Make your meal plans prior to going to the store, and do your list by grocery store aisle.  Buy the discount brands (such as Great Value at Walmart) where you can.  Most of the time, they have the same ingredients.  I splurge on items such as milk due to the hormones.  I don’t buy all organic, I haven’t done enough research to really support it and quite frankly, can’t afford to do everything organic with our new budget.  So I pick and choose, and sometimes due to sales, can buy more in that area.  I cut coupons for items such as diapers before I go, but I make my list first – then print the coupons….that way I’m not buying something I don’t really need, just because it’s on sale.  Know that places such as Costco are not necessarily cheaper than Walmart.  To be honest, nearly all the items I have price–checked are cheaper at Walmart.  Although, Costco does have better quality meat, as do the other stores.  You have to decide what’s important to you and what you can afford.

I feel like you can do this in every area of your life.  Pay attention – Gas, clothes, going out to eat.  If you pay attention to sales, prices on certain items, promotions stores sometimes have…you’ll save money in areas you couldn’t even imagine…with only a little extra thought/work.  ~Trina

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement - Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry

I love lemon and chicken - and this has got to be one of my favorite recipes.  The original recipe calls for mushrooms and carrots, I substitute broccoli and serve on brown rice. 

Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry
1 lemon
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup broccoli
2 cups snow peas, (6 ounces), stems and strings removed
1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces, white and green parts divided
1 tablespoon chopped garlic

Grate 1 teaspoon lemon zest and set aside. Juice the lemon and whisk 3 tablespoons of the juice with broth, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate with tongs. Add broccoli to the pan and cook until the carrots are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add snow peas, scallion whites, garlic and the reserved lemon zest. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Whisk the broth mixture and add to the pan; cook, stirring, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add scallion greens and the chicken and any accumulated juices; cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.

Buon appetito! Leah

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Different Kids, Different Ages, Different Stages...It's ALL GOOD!

Admit've been one of those moms.  The mom who's child is talking first, going on the potty first, walking first...whatever.  Even if you have enough willpower to not say it out loud, you've definitely thought it.  "Oh, John's walking already?  What is he, 12 months?" you say, then think to yourself, my Sally was walking at 8 months!  Even if we aren't competitive, it's part of our nature as mothers to want our children to do well and be the best at everything they do.  

Callie started walking at 9 months old.  She started out walking along tables and couches, and before long, she was taking steps unassisted.  Then, she was talking.  When I say talking, I mean, chatting up a storm.  I was constantly amazed at how we were having conversations so early on.  We started potty training at the age of 2, and while she still had accidents throughout the year (and still do sometimes), she was fully potty trained by the time she was 3 years old.  She became advanced at everything she tried almost immediately; puzzles, games, sports of any kind.  We have always been so proud.  I tried not to be one of those moms....but often times I failed miserably.

Then came along Clayton.  While he started sleeping through the night at 6 months old (Callie didn't until she was 2), everything else was much slower.  He didn't crawl until he was 7 months old, much different than Callie, although I can't remember her exact age, I know it was sooner.  He didn't walk until he was 12 months old, and now he's 2 and still not talking a whole lot, he just screams "mommy" and points when he wants something.  If I don't understand what he wants, Callie translates.  When it comes to puzzles or games, he throws them.  Books, he rips the pages, while Callie sits patiently, waiting to actually hear the story.  Potty training?  Ha!  Not even in the cards yet-he runs when I even want to change his diaper...or mention the toilet.

You always hear, all children are different.  But, I'm not sure we really get it.   Studies show crawling or scooting can begin somewhere around 3-6 months, and is normal to be seen at 6-9 months.  Normal walking ages begin from 9 months, up to 15 months.  While 18 months is a little late, it could just be unusual and not a sign your child is significantly behind or that something is wrong.    From 18 to 24 months, (though there is a lot of variability) most toddlers are saying about 20 words by 18 months and 50 or more words by the time they turn 2. By age 2, kids are starting to combine two words to make simple sentences, such as "baby crying" or "Daddy big." A 2-year-old should also be able to identify common objects, common pictured objects, indicate body parts on self when labeled, and follow two-step commands (such as "Please pick up the toy and give it to me").

Am I going to have a breakdown or feel Clayton is completely behind because he's not talking as fast as his sister, or because he's behind what experts say is normal?  No.  Maybe I would have with Callie, but after two children I've learned that there are too many variables.  If you notice the statistics above, there's one similarity: they vary greatly in age.  There's no way for an expert to tell you the exact month a child should be doing this or that, because they all are different and grow at different paces.  Throw a sibling into the mix, and you have an entirely new set of variables.  Callie constantly is answering for Clayton, or asking questions for him.  The poor boy doesn't have time to talk half the time because his sister is chatty kathy! 

Stop comparing not only yourself as a mom, but your child to other people's children.  I guarantee your child is going to excel in some areas and do some things quicker - whether it be potty training or learning to read.  Then, there will be areas other children will do better in or do faster than your child.  It's an obvious conclusion, but one we still have a difficult time grasping as mothers.  I can't tell you how often I hear, "but, so and so's child is doing this.  I must be doing something wrong."  Including myself.  We aren't doing something wrong.  Our children are just huge blessings from God, and have their own agendas as far as how fast or slow they are going to advance.  Lets revel and support their growth, no matter what the pace.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Movies & Responsible Watching

Why is that mommy sad? He asks after a baby gorilla gets taken away by a Sabor in the first minutes of Tarzan; his mommy and daddy watching in horror as screams of terror can be heard in the distance.

Why is that boy getting a spanking? He asks while we’re watching Pinnochio and one of three disturbing cuckoo clocks (a turkey running from an axe, a bird fleeing a hunter with a gun).

What are we watching?  Then I remember, it’s what all children love…magical, enchanting Disney.

In what I thought would be simple and beautiful relaxation with my kids, I'm all the sudden having to explain death and evil to them. Up until now, my boys have watched a little Dora and Diego and Team Umizoomi. Swiper is about as evil as they’ve seen. 

Since movies haven’t been part of our world yet, I decided to give it a shot. A week ago, I came home with a few Disney movies, anticipating snuggle time and popcorn with my growing toddler and preschooler.  The first night, Zealand was asleep within the first 10 minutes. Luke stayed up for about an hour and there were so many intense questions posed upon me that I wasn’t sure I was ready to answer.

Of course, many of the subjects that came up are things we do talk about or need to talk more about.  Why you shouldn’t talk to strangers. Why you should always trust your mommy. But, evil and death?

In Tarzan, you see blood prints of the leopardess just feet in front of the dead bodies of Tarzan’s parents. Mommy, what are they doing there? Why don’t they get up and help the baby?

Ugh, really! I’m half asleep, and not at all ready for these questions.

I love Disney movies, most of them. So it’s not like I’m going to give them up because I can’t handle the questions and a few emotional (and realistic) scenes. But I now know that I must watch these movies (and all TV, really) with responsibility. Be ready to handle the questions, the emotion in these motion pictures.  Help your children find a way to understand and enjoy it while maintaining their sweet innocence.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement ~ Skinny Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potato Frosting

What kid doesn't want dinner in the shape of a cupcake?  And...the husband loves meat and potatoes (even turkey burger!) so it was a win-win!  Plus...there's a secret veggie snuck in to the meat...nobody even knew! Enjoy!


For the Meatloaf Cupcakes:

  • 1.3 lb 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup grated zucchini, all moisture squeezed dry with paper towel
  • 2 tbsp onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

For the Skinny Mashed Potato "Frosting":

  • 1 lb (about 2 medium) Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 2 tbsp fat free sour cream
  • 2 tbsp fat free chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp skim milk
  • 1/2 tbsp light butter
  • kosher salt to taste
  • dash of fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme

Corn & Salad or desired side dish


Put the potatoes and garlic in a large pot with salt and enough water to cover; bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat; simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.Drain and return potatoes and garlic to pan. Add sour cream and remaining ingredients. Using a masher or blender, mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°. Line a muffin tin with foil liners.
In a large bowl, mix the turkey, zucchini, onion, breadcrumbs, ketchup, egg, and salt.Place meatloaf mixture into muffin tins filling them to the top, making sure they are flat at the top.

Bake uncovered for 18-20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from tins and place onto a baking dish.
Pipe the "frosting" onto the meatloaf cupcakes and serve with corn and salad.

Happy Eating Friends! ~Trina

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What is it with Bad Boys Anyway?

What is it with the bad boys anyways?  I remember dating a guy for four years in highschool on and off.  He didn’t have a car, couldn’t keep a job, and while he was cute, he was built small and thinner than me.  He was funny, but didn’t always treat me great.  He had a huge chip on his shoulder…and was insecure, so I’m pretty sure he didn’t know how to deal with me.  I was a popular, charismatic girl who wanted to be nice and believe in everyone.  I always thought I could fix what was broken, and that included people.  I tried to see the good in everyone.
Cheating was one of the final straws (with a crackhead girl who had crabs, and then later with a younger girl who I ended up being friends with), and while I saw him a few more times, I eventually cut all ties.  The crazy thing was; I still had this underlying interest. What did I see in him?  I knew he’d never go anywhere amazingly advanced in life.  It wasn’t that he wasn’t smart, he was actually quite brilliant.  If that guy ever gets on jeopardy, he could make some serious money.  It’s that he isn’t driven or committed.  My dad got him a job one time, and he showed up like three times before getting fired for no-showing.  He didn’t have a car, so I had to drive him around everywhere. …he didn’t have money, so he never took me out.  Looking back now, I think, what on earth did I see in him?
I believe as women we all have this maternal need to fix things including people.  I would see a nerd from a mile away and latch on immediately to try and make them feel included and special.  I wanted to show the girls how to do their hair, how to dress….I remember working my behind off from the time I was 16 years old and even buying that jerk boyfriend clothes so he could look cool.  I wanted everyone to feel special.  I saw the good in him, and therefore, wanted him to expand on that and everyone else to see it too.  Even if we didn’t end up together, I wanted him to excel. I pushed him to go to class and even get better grades.  When he signed up for football, I was pissed when he dropped out.  I tried to talk him into getting his GED when he dropped out of highschool.  Finally, I figured out there was no hope…and maybe that’s when I truly let go of him.
It was by sheer luck and God that I found Shannon.  We had our own hurdles to deal with as he’d also dated a girl who cheated, so there was a mutual lack of trust in the beginning and we fought all the time.  However, Shannon is ultimately one of the best men I’ve ever met.  He cares deeply for me and treats me like I’m the most amazing woman on earth.  Do we fight now?  Sure, but rarely…and he adores me and takes care of me in ways only most women dream their husband would. 
The thing to note here is; where did I go right?  How did I end up with such a great guy after having so many losers? Trust me—the one I mentioned above is only one of the many.  Why did I finally let go of the need to take care of someone and finally let someone take care of me?  Do we truly learn our lesson?  I don’t think so, because I still know plenty of women who are dating and going through jerks as fast as toilet paper.  One breaks their heart, and they are on to the next one.  Is it luck like I mentioned? I mean, it’s not easy to find a nice guy; there aren’t a lot out there.
The scary thing is-how does this fit in with our daughters? I’ve noticed at school how my little girl ignores the nice, clean-cut boys and chases after the biker (okay, as biker as a five-year-old can be), heartbreaker types.  I see a trend here…and it scares me quite frankly.  She said recently she was going to marry one…he showed up to preschool graduation with his hair sticking straight up and a mean look like he might clobber someone if they looked at him wrong.  And, the other day, when we were watching the movie Thor  together,  she got all smiley when Thor’s brother (he’s the bad guy in case you haven’t seen it) came on and said, “I like him mom.”
 I asked her why.  “Callie, Thor is much cuter!  Plus, he’s the hero!”
“Mom, sometimes I just like the bad guys.”  She said, staring at the TV adoringly.
Oh Lord.  I wonder now if maybe it’s all genetic (damn you mom!). I can only hope that she misses at least 85% of the heartache I’ve endured and has 100% more brains about choosing men in general than her mother.  Either way, I look at Shannon, and know there is hope…and truly wonder; what do women see in those bad boys anyway?  ~ Trina

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement - Panang Curry with Chicken

Mmmmm, Thai! I want to lunch with my bestie Becky (Zealand calls her Ducky) and it was my first lunch outing in at least six months!  And it was relaxing and fun and wonderful and the food was delicious! I was so excited when I suggested Thai and she was down.  I ordered Pad Thai (and I usually order Green Curry Chicken) and I loved it.  She ordered Panang Curry Shrimp and we both loved it! So you know I had to find a recipe.  Modified from a recipe I found from Rachel Cooks Thai.

Panang Curry with Chicken
1 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons panang curry paste
1 tablespoon roasted peanuts
2 cups thinly sliced chicken, cooked
1/2 cup water
4 kaffir lime leaves (I didn't do this, but sounds great!)
fish sauce and sugar to taste

  1. Pound 1 tablespoon of roasted peanuts into 2 tablespoons of panang curry paste.
  2. Scoop the top 1/3 cup of thicker coconut milk off the top of a newly opened can and into a large pan.  Heat the coconut milk over medium heat until it starts to boil and separate.
  3. Add the peanuty curry paste and stir into the coconut milk until its well incorporated.  Then add your chicken slices and coat them with the curry paste.
  4. Add the rest of the coconut milk and water and let the beef cook until it's nice and tender.  If the chicken gets dry, add more water.
  5. Once the chicken is tender, add the kaffir lime leaves and season with fish sauce and sugar.  I used about a teaspoon of sugar, but the curry paste I used had just the right amount of salt in it, so I didn't need fish sauce.
  6. Serve with a sprinkling of kaffir lime leaves on top and jasmine rice on the side. 

Buon Appetito! Leah

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Gift of Giving ~ Our First Contribution to Our Charities

Why is giving so hard?  I don't mean giving in a sense of loaning a cup of sugar to your neighbor in a time of need.  Or lending a friend your lawn mower because they haven't been able to afford one yet this season.  I'm talking about giving to those that are truly in need; the kind of giving that could change a life.

We become engulfed in raising our own little ones.  The bills we have keep growing and growing, and suddenly we are spending more than we make.  In this vicious cycle, we become selfish, and not because we are bad people, but because it's human nature to want to not only survive but often times to also thrive.  We get lost in our own worlds and forget that there are children with life threatening diseases; who's parents can't afford the immensely expensive treatments that could ultimately save their lives.  Or, that there are children being abused everyday, and all we had to give up was a Starbucks here or there to help make a difference in their lives as well.

In this journey, Leah and I have decided we will not forget.  We want to also encourage you, our readers, to not forget.  We've made it simple for you to make a difference; simply like our facebook page, and let friends and family that may also be interested in our content to like our page as well.  With each 50 likes, Leah and I each donate $50 to our two current charities; Children's Miracle Network and The National Children's Advocacy Center.  At 52 followers, we promised you we'd donate if we received 50 more likes.  And as of this morning, we are at 209 Facebook likes!  Thanks to you, we are able to make our first donation to our charities.

But let's not stop here!  Keep encouraging and suggesting our page to others, and at 252 likes, we'll make our second donations.  Help make a change, by simply spreading the word!  Thanks again to all of our followers and their continued support.  If you are interested in making a separate donation to these charities yourself, see the charity info tab above.

Thanks again!  ~Trina & Leah

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Little Fish - The Evolution of My Sons in Water

You wouldn't know it by this picture of Luke and his first bath but watching him now at the age of 3 1/2, I am very simply: AMAZED.

Admittedly, after that very first bath, he never did seem to mind the water and with each passing week, it was obvious he loved it.

For his first summer, we bought a little pool for our backyard that we'd sit in.  He'd splash and splash and then pull himself up on the side and show off that cute little tooshie. The following fall and winter, we spent many days at the YMCA's indoor pool.  His dad or I holding him and getting him used to going under. He came up from each dunking with a big smile on his little face.  Zealand was born that winter and we had him in the pool at just 6 weeks.  Zac was holding onto Luke and I had Zealand in my arms. We hadn't even been in the pool for 5 minutes and I look down at my baby; his head comfortably laid back in the palm of my hand, floating on the water, blissfully asleep.  There was no doubt he'd be a lover of water!

Flash forward to a year and a half in Charleston, South Carolina.  Our pool was just steps from our front door. To say we swam six days a week, sometimes twice a day, for almost 5 months straight would be pretty close to the truth. Our days in SC began with Luke in his swim vest and Zealand in a shaded float.  By the end of summer '11, Luke was swimming free between mine and Zac's arms. He dared to jump off of his dad's shoulders into the water and off the sides of the pool.

Our pool here in FL opening about six weeks ago.  In that time, I truly cannot believe what I'm seeing. Luke, as of three days ago, is swimming the length of the pool. All on his own. With Zac on one end, me on the other; we are sure to stay close enough to catch him if we need to, but far enough to encourage his swimming independence.  He'll swim under water and come up for air. When he reaches the end, he beams.

While Luke's been readying himself for the 2024 Summer Olympics (see video below!), Zealand has gone from his swim vest to a free man. He is now swimming between Zac and I - I'd say he can swim a good 3-feet now; no doubt in a rush to catch up to his big brother. And this swimming is paying off in the calm days in the gulf, they really can't get enough and show no fear.

Zac and I constantly hear "Looks like you got your hands full." from other pool patrons. (And if you have seen any of my Facebook comments about this statement, you know how I feel about it!) But what can I say? We're proud. Yes, our hands are full this summer and there will be little laying poolside with a good book or realistically anything poolside since these little fish of mine want to stay in the water as long as possible. But I'm excited about this and for them. So very proud of my little boys. Maybe having that "Under the Sea" mural in their nursery really got into their soul after all.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement ~ Chicken & Mushrooms in Garlic White Wine Sauce

Hello low calorie, and lower carb if you wish to serve without the whole grain rice!  This meal was a huge hit at our house.  My husband prefers beef over chicken and hates I was more than surprised when he (he, being an understater, and never an overstater) told me three times how much he enjoyed the meal, asked me to make it again, and let me know it had the perfect amount of spices in it.  Callie asked for seconds, "more mushrooms please!" and Clayton lapped his up as well.  Score!

  • 8 chicken tenderloins, 16 oz total
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup fat free chicken broth
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I didn't use this)
  • Cooked Brown Rice (desired amount to serve with Chicken)

Preheat oven to 200°. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge in flour. 

Heat a large skillet on medium heat; when hot add 1 tsp butter and 1 tsp olive oil. Add chicken to the skillet and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side, or until chicken is no longer pink. Set aside in a warm oven.

Add additional oil and butter to the skillet, then garlic and cook a few seconds; addmushrooms, salt and pepper stirring occasionally until golden, about 5 minutes.

Add wine, chicken broth, parsley; stir the pan with a wooden spoon breaking up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook a few more minutes or until the liquid reduces by half. Top the chicken with the mushroom sauce and serve.  ~ Happy Eating Friends! Trina

Saturday, June 2, 2012

National Moms Relaxation Day - A Day of Pure Indulgence

We asked our Facebook fans a couple of days ago: What is YOUR idea of relaxation?? My friend Cayce  made us laugh with the familiarity of “A shower that lasts longer than a minute and a half.”  Sometimes our miniscule potty breaks are the only time we get alone in a day. But we need more!  It’s not just that we want more - (attention husbands, this is directed to you!) we really do NEED more!

Finding time for ourselves will make us feel better.  It’ll make us better moms; better wives; better friends. Do you remember all the things you used to really enjoy doing before you had kids.  Now is the time to reconnect with yourself and be you again…if even for an hour a day.

When I speak of finding time for yourselves, I’m not talking about the 30 minutes your hubs takes the kiddos out for ice cream and you scrub the floors.  I’m not talking about the 2-3 hours after the kids go to bed that you decide to get some work done. This isn’t the time to gather all the photos you’ve taken of your cute little babies and put them into photo albums. I’m not even talking about the hour you are gifted to sleep in one fine morning.

I’m talking about guiltless, shameless, pure indulgent YOU time.  Go to the cinema and see that new movie! Call up a girlfriend and meet her for cocktails and an app. Go for a jog and find a bench with a view and relax to your favorite tunes on your iPhone before you jog back.  DO go get your nails done - mani AND pedi, girl, you deserve it! Have a grown up conversation with your mom while sipping on white wine and nibbling on fine cheese at a local winery. If your parents pick up the kids, curl up on your couch with a cup of tea and read To Kill A Mockingbird …or the latest in housewife erotica.

I know it’s hard to find the time to devote to yourself, but it’s necessary.  Could you imagine if there was a holiday devoted to the indulgence and relaxation of all moms?  Sure, Mother’s Day already exists, tis true.  But, I think most of us enjoy that day with our dear families. But why not a day just for us?  A National Moms Relaxation Day, if you will.  Your family would greet you in the morning with a card inscribed: Enjoy your day, mom. You deserve it! We love you! And off you go to meet your girlfriends, or lay by the pool with a People magazine, or go to the spa…you get the idea. So tell us, how would you celebrate National Moms Relaxation Day?