Sunday, September 30, 2007

Day of Miracles

Today was a day of MIRACLES! They really do happen. I know you are dying to know exactly what miracles happened today, so let me tell you!

I dread waking up on Sunday mornings. Not because it is Sunday, but because of what I have to wake up to. Each morning, I get woken up by the sounds of my 4 year old who has pressed his face up against the crack under his door to call my name in long extended sounds... MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYYYYYYY! Not quite the alarm I look forward to, his voice echoes into the hall, and I have to hurry out of bed before everyone in the house is awakened by his hollering. I guess it is better than some other alarm options, but still. .. Anyway, the first thing we do when I open his door, is let him go to the bathroom, because usually MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYYYYYYY is followed by, " I NEED TO GO POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTYYYYYYYYYYY!
Then he proclaims to me that "The Sun is up!" Which is debatable because it is usually 6:00 or 6:30 and the sun has in fact NOT come up, but is just barely casting a pale color other than total blackness.

After that, we get him dressed. Why do I do it right then? Because waiting just delays a painful process of deciding what to wear. Jaxon is particularly fond of one or two shirts in his wardrobe, and it is always a challenge when I want him to wear a different one. When we get ready to change clothes, he asks me, "What are we doing?" Usually the answer is, "Going to School!" Which is generally a well received answer, and this is the answer 5 out of 7 days of course. Saturdays, I don't get him dressed right when he wakes up, but Sunday, the answer is "Going to Church!" The reaction to this response is always tears, and it is at that point that I dread the fact that it is Sunday. "But, I don't want to go to church!" is his answer. I thought I wouldn't have to hear this response until my kids were teenagers, hopefully I am getting it all in now.

I am sure he has many reasons for not liking to go to church (i.e. sitting still, being quiet, not touching neighbors etc.) however, when we are getting dressed, the current obstacle is, he has to wear a collared shirt. No matter what kind of shirt it is, polo, rugby, or button up.. if it has a collar, he thinks it is a church shirt, and if it is a school day, he doesn't want to wear a shirt with a collar. When we put on the collared shirt, he knows it is inevitable... we are going to church.

Today, however, I had a slightly different game plan. Peter and I decided it was time to wear a white dress shirt, with a tie. I know, we are brave, brave parents. We tried to make this transition in the most gentle manner, and by using just a little bit of trickery. I got him dressed, but put him off his guard by just having him put on a white t-shirt, and putting on his socks, and dress pants. The plan was to have him put on his shirt and tie at the same time as Peter. We even got them matching (sort of) ties, so they could be twins! When it was time, I gave Jaxon his dress shirt, and tie, and said... take this to DADDY! He usually responds with enthusiasm to this kind of task... and he did today too. I am not quite sure what happened after that. I could hear Peter upstairs using a very upbeat voice and saying things like "LOOK! JUST LIKE DADDY!" "COOL" and "SEE???" I figured it was going well, and it was.. Jaxon came down stairs with his daddy, and a HUGE smile on his face. The battle was WON! with little to no resistance!

MIRACLE # 1: Jaxon wore a dress shirt and tie to church!

Much to my amazement, the Miracles kept coming! Sharing time is yet ANOTHER challenging time for Jaxon. Sitting next to friends without touching them is a very difficult task. So is the task is watching the chorister involve kids in singing time without being able to participate himself. She of course is involving the kids that are being reverent, or quiet which is usually never Jaxon... thus making the process of getting through singing time even more of a challenge. Even today, she had three cups on the table and even though he reached out to try to touch them several times, he never did, and he never got out of his seat. That was AMAZING MIRACLE #2! AMAZING MIRACLE #3 followed closely behind when the chorister noticed Jaxon's good behavior, and actually rewarded him by letting him choose one of the cups! YEAH FOR JAXON! It was great to have his "good" behavior rewarded in such a large group setting. I was grateful that she noticed, and finally gave him a chance.

I never ask how Jaxon was during his Sunday School class, because I am sure he was a challenge. The first day Jaxon was a Sunbeam, I formally apologized to his teachers, and promised them that they would be blessed for being Jaxon's first ever Sunday School teachers. They laughed at me, and I am sure thought I was just kidding until after class started :) Since then, I just move as quickly as I can to pick him up from class after church, and I am careful to make Jaxon say "thank you" to his teachers before I whisk him away. Today however, it was a day of MIRACLES and MIRACLE #4 happened when we picked him up from class! His teacher looked at me and with a totally straight face said, "Jaxon was really good in class today!" I am sure a look of confusion and disbelief crossed my face, but he looked genuinely sincere, and I had no choice but to believe him! What a great day of miracles! But 4 miracles was not enough!

We came home, and Jaxon wanted a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. This is no different from any other day, and we can get him to eat a few other things, but usually this meal will go down with the least resistance. Usually only the crust is left behind, and we normally take another 15 minutes to get him to eat at least 1/2 of the crust left behind. Today, I wasn't really paying attention, when MIRACLE #5 happened! I looked over at Jaxon's plate when he was almost finished, and I noticed something different about his plate.... it was not strewn with the fractured crusts of a dismantled peanut butter and jelly sandwich... It was entirely clean... I demanded that Peter turn around and look at Jaxon's plate, just to be sure I wasn't seeing things... so naturally since you usually can't take a picture of miracles... I took a picture of miracle #5... Jaxon's clean plate.

All in all, it was a pretty amazing day of miracles. I know many of you might think these kinds of things are run of the mill, but not for us, or Jaxon. I am grateful to see him progressing, and growing, and learning to do the right thing. For us and Jaxon this IS a miracle! I attribute it all to wearing the TIE!! :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Recipe Links!

Unfortunately, Martha doesn't post all of her "Everyday Food" recipes on her website. That is why I have to post them sometimes. However, if they ARE on her website, I just link them on my Recipe Links to the right! Tonight I tried Lighter Chicken Pot Pie. EXCELLENT! My husband LOVES Chicken Pot Pie, and it is truly not my favorite thing. However, this was loved by ALL of us. I baked, and cubed chicken, and I used 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, and it was great. Don't forget the Lemon Juice. That is what seals the deal, and salt and pepper your chicken and veggies so that it doesn't taste bland... DELICIOUS! Don't worry about the Phyllo dough, you will be amazed at how easy it is to use. (It is in the freezer section next to the frozen desserts)

Butterscotch Banana Splits? I watched this on Everyday Food (TV Episode-PBS- Saturday morning. I have my Tivo set up to time it) Anyway, it looked SO DARN GOOD I had to try it! I did tonight, and it was just as good as I had imagined it! I am a sucker for Bananas Foster, which is a difficult dessert to find... but this was an excellent replacement. I am entertaining on Thursday night for Girls Night Out, and I will most certainly be making the Butterscotch Syrup! YUM!

Mongolian Beef (PF Changs)

This recipe is my most cooked meal. It is one of our favorite dishes at PF Changs, and I jumped at the chance to try a knock off. It is pretty darn good! So, we'll take it! Give it a try, and tell me what you think!

1 Flank Steak (cut cross wise into thin strips)
Corn Starch
1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (dark, but I use regular)
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. minced ginger
2 large green onions
Frozen Peas

Cut meat into thin strips, and coat both sides with corn starch. Set aside, and let meat soak in corn starch. Let meat rest while you make the sauce.

Make sauce by putting a small amount of oil in a sauce pan. Add garlic and ginger and saute for 10 seconds. Do not scorch garlic. Add water, soy sauce and brown sugar, and dissolve. Cook on medium heat until sauce thickens. (Don't worry, adding it to the meat will thicken it even more)
Remove from heat, and set aside.

Heat dutch oven or wok with hot oil, use as much or as little as you like. Make sure oil is hot, but not smoking. Working in batches, brown meat on both sides. It doesn't need to be cooked through. Remove from heat, and place on paper towel to drain oil. Add meat back to pan, and add sauce. Add green onions. Cook on medium heat until meat is cooked through. I add frozen peas at the end to add a veggie.

Serve over steamed rice.

Jean's Chicken Curry

This is a family favorite, and is made for almost every one's birthday as their favorite meal. It used to be Peter's favorite meal, but now, it is Jaxon's favorite meal. Either way, we love it!

1 lb. Chicken (boil covered in water for 10 minutes until done- do not overcook) Shred when cooked.
6 Tbs. Butter
6 Tbs. Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 tsp. Sugar
1 Tbs. Lemon Juice
1 Tbs. Curry Powder
1 small Onion chopped
2 tsp. Grated Ginger Root
2 Cups Milk
1 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth

Saute Onion and Ginger in butter until onion is cooked through. Add flour, salt, sugar, and curry powder. Cook for 1 minute. Add 2 cups milk, and 1 1/2 cups chicken broth. Stir in slowly, and cook until thickened. Add shredded chicken, and 1 Tbs. Lemon Juice.

Serve over steamed white rice, and top with raisins, cubed pineapple, cashews, and coconut. (The toppings is what makes it SOOOOOOO good.)

Chicken Tenders Parmesan with Penne and Broccoli

Everyday Food came through with a quick and yummy meal that my family loved because Chicken Parmesan is one of Peter's favorite dishes. Give it a try!

2 large eggs
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan
1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1 1/2 lbs. chicken tenders
1 3/4 cups tomato sauce
4 oz. part skim mozzarella shredded (1 Cup)
8 oz. penne rigate (ridged) or other short pasta
1 package (10 oz.) frozen broccoli florets, thawed
1 Tbls. olive oil

Bring salted water to a boil. Heat broiler, with a rack set 4 inches from heat. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup parmesan and breadcrumbs. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dip tenders in egg, then in parmesan mixture; place on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until golden brown. 2 to 4 minutes a side.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Then top with chicken, remaining 3/4 cup sauce, and finally mozzarella. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling water until al dente, according to package directions, adding broccoli for final 30 seconds. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta and broccoli, and return to pot. Add oil and remaining 1/4 cup parmesan. Toss, gradually adding some reserved pasta water until pasta is lightly coated. Serve chicken with penne and broccoli.

Every Day Food

Since the weather has turned cooler, I have turned to the kitchen! I have some great new recipes to share. One of my favorite magazines is everyday food. They always make good use of garden veggies that are in season. I LOVE that! Especially because my very sweet neighbor who doesn't speak English very well has brought me TONS of tomatoes. I haven't had the heart to tell him that I have two tomato plants in my back yard. Oh well, I had to find something to do with them, and Everyday Food had a recipe for making your own tomato sauce! Here is the link! If you have extra tomatoes, give it a try!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Abby's Circus Dream

Well, it was inevitable! Abby is a STAR! Her dreams came true tonight when a circus clown came and asked me if I had a volunteer... Wow, do I ever! I think it all started when Abby was about 2. Abby would stand in front of the fireplace, and Peter would be the "announce" and say... "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS, PRESENTING....ABBY!!!!" Abby would put on an elaborate "show" for us, and tonight, her "show" was a reality! Even the Circus Emcee got into the act.. just as she has always dreamed.

Abby was thrilled, and went right out on to the floor! He told me I could take as many pictures as I wanted. It wasn't until about 5 minutes into his routine that I realized I had a video feature on my camera! I took two clips, and they are great! I know it is difficult to see, but turn up the volume, and you will get the gist of it. The pictures are fun too. All in all I think she was out there for about 10-12 minutes. It was great! I didn't catch the end on video, but snapped a few shots. In the end, the clown opens the garbage can, where the bubble makers were all thrown away, and it erupts with tons of bubbles! Her skit was a great success!

I am sure you realize how thrilled Abby was by this experience! She loved it! See the video clips, and still shots below. Much love.... L

Monday, September 10, 2007

Abby's 1st Day of 1st GRADE!

Our big girl Abby had her first day of 1st grade on Thursday, Sept 6th! Her new teacher is Mrs. Parker, and Abby seems to like her a lot. She got a cute new hair cut for the big day, and we are so excited for her! Here are some pix for you to look at!
Abby's cute new cut. Her bangs are ALMOST all grown out now! Sorry about the shade!
Here is Abby running to the playground before school!


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