Welcome to the fabulous and sometimes insane life
of a working mother who is trying hard not to
let her whole existence be determined by her
cute little munchkins, yet continues to be drawn
in by the adorable and sometimes annoying tiny people!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chicken Fried Rice Casserole

My husband just declared this his new favorite meal!

2 lbs of cooked chicken, cut up (I actually use 3-4 cans of chicken.)
2 cans of Cream of Chicken soup
16oz. Sour Cream (I use fat free)
2 small boxes of Rice-A-Roni Fried Rice
2 sleeves of crushed Ritz crackers (I use Reduced Fat)
1 stick of butter (I use light)
Poppy Seeds

Preheat your oven to 350. 
Cook rice by following the directions on the box. Mix together chicken, soup, and sour cream. Spread rice on bottom of 13 x 9 baking dish. Spread chicken mixture on top of rice. Mix melted butter and crushed crackers together and sprinkle on top of casserole. Sprinkle a generous amount of poppy seeds on top of crackers. Bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbly. 

You could also title this recipe "A Glorified Poppy Seed Chicken".

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I Hate Wal-Mart

We are Publix shoppers for a variety of reasons. It is clean. They have great deals, and it is an enjoyable shopping experience due to the attentiveness of the Publix employees. The problem is that I live in a small town in South Georgia and the only Publix near us is 20 minutes away. This means that we can not frequent it as much as we would like. Therefore, there are times when we have to go to Wal-Mart.

This is where I found myself this morning when I should have been in church, but alas since my husband and I are STILL sick we played hooky. As I steered my squeaking buggy through the crowded, dirty, and tight aisles I composed a list of all of the reasons I hate Wal-Mart.

1. It is Dirty- Maybe not every Wal-Mart is, but ours is. There are crumbs on the floor and items out of place. As well as the fact that the aisle are constantly blocked with everything from empty shopping carts to flats of new inventory.

2. The Clientele- Truly, I am not a snob. I know you are going to think I am, but, honestly, I'm not. But come on! There are some scandalous people roaming around Wal-Mart. From the single men who goggle to the moms who are constantly yelling at their bare foot spawn who are running all over the store to the gang bangers hanging out in various areas of the parking lot, the people of Wal-Mart are an interesting bunch to say the least.

3. Coupons- They are so dadgum picky about coupons. You would think that the Walton family themselves were having to pay for the coupons out of their own extremely full pockets. There are some Wal-Marts that take competitor coupons, but our doesn't. In fact they are so fanatical about coupons that I have actually been told before that I could not use a printed coupon because it was not from a reputable site. Coupons.com is not a reputable site?????? Are you kidding me?

4. Moving Things- Our Wal-Mart moves things all of the time. One day the refrigerated pastas might be with the cheese and the next day in might be in the fresh food section. One day the coffee filters might be with the coffee and the next it will be with the coffee makers all the way across the store.

5. Not Carrying Things-Wal-Mart is famous for not having items they had the week before. I could sit here all day and list things that they carry one day and the next it has totally been wiped out off the shelves. The list ranges from cereal to butter to pasta to salad kits. When your Wal-Mart is the only place in the small town to shop, it is a big deal when they stop carrying things you have come to rely on. WTF!

6. Help?-You better hope if you can't find something be it due to them moving it or the fact that your particular Wal-Mart has decided not to carry it anymore that you find an informed consumer because they are the only help you are going to get. Other than the friendly man who greets you with "Welcome to Wal-Mart" at the top of his lungs or the cashier who may or may not speak to you at all that is all the help you are going to get when shopping at Wal-Mart. No one else knows anything about anything! There are no Target Team Members waiting to dazzle you with their expertise.

7. Bottle Necking-I don't know about your local Super Center but ours has tiny aisles. You can literally only get 2 carts down one aisle at the same time and that is only with some strategic maneuvering. And now they have taken to putting displays in the center of the aisles so that you can only get one cart through at a time and when you have carts coming from both ways you can sometimes get stuck on one aisle for what seems like an eternity but what is really only 3 to 5 minutes.

8. Buggies- It is inevitable that when I pick up my buggy at the front that I am going to have to use super human strength to get out of the buggy corral. Then I can guarantee you that something is going to be wrong with it. It might have a wobbly wheel, squeak, or have remnants of food from who ever previously used it (YUCK!)I mean is it so hard for this multi-billion dollar company to repair broken carts and keep them clean?

But no matter how much I hate Wal-Mart you will still see me there. I mean until we get a Publix (Ha!) in this town it is my only option. Plus, where else are you going to shop where you find a variety of things you have never thought of but can now not live without!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Breaking into the 40's

Well it is week 3 of my determination to fit into my jeans. I got another kick in the bum to get busy when last Friday for "Dress Down Day" I had to dress down in my maternity jeans. No one noticed, but I knew.

Therefore, I was careful this weekend (unlike last)and watched what I ate and my portions. I mean, I only ate 2 pieces of pizzas at a birthday party and one little, itty bitty, tiny piece of cake. And that was sooooo hard because that cake was sooooo good (just like everything else that isn't good for you). Boo! But with this new found self control, I just knew I was going to make a dent this week. It was ON!!

The best decision I made was to buy some salad mix (since it is super easy) and take my lunch every day. I bought my favorite which is the Fresh Express Pear Gorgonzola. It is super yummy and taste much like the salad of the coveted Red Bar in Grayton Beach,
Florida, which everyone should experience at some point in time (the restaurant not the salad). Anyway, it is delicious with almond clusters and dried pears, and it only had 120 calories per serving. The bag has 2 servings in it, so it turns out to be a good amount of salad. I just split one bag between two days and divide up the salad dressing. It's that easy!

Alas, the inevitable (see previous post, It's Inevitable) happened. I got sick. I woke up Sunday morning with a sore throat and congestion. What else could be expected when 75 third graders are hugging on me all day, and my own three munchkins were ALL getting over being sick. This resulted in my absence from the road in the early morning. I deemed it more important to allow my body to rest and get better than to get up early and exercise. Given how bad I have felt this week, I would say it was probably a good idea.

So it was with great trepidation that I stepped on the scale this morning. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had lost 3 pounds from last week. I am telling you the key is to count calories, and then exercise will push you in to the next level. I plan on giving myself a few days to get better and then get to that next level starting Monday.

In the meantime, I am super excited because I am Breaking into the 40's...even if it is only at 149.6. Hey! I will take what I can get, which is hopefully to be soon packing away those maternity jeans.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Shrimp & Mushroom Linguine

1-2 pounds of shrimp (peeled and with tails off)
1 box linguine
1 package sliced mushrooms
2-3 cloves of garlic, pressed
(I actually use much more. I love garlic. Hoping it won't keep Edward away)
2 sticks of butter (oh shut up! It will be okay this once!)
lemon juice
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Melt butter in large pan. Saute garlic (yummy smelling) for about 5 minutes. Throw in mushrooms and let them cook down. Meanwhile, cook linguine as the box instructs. Add lemon juice to mushrooms amount is up to your liking. I usually do 1/4 of a cup. After mushrooms have cooked down, add shrimp and cook only until they turn pink and start to curl. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Serve over linguine.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The End is Near

Every Saturday morning, my husband lets me sleep late. He rises with the sun, any roosters around, and all three of my munchkins and allows me to snooze it up until my little heart is content. Sometimes this is only until 8, but many times it stretches to 9 and sometimes (gasp) 10. Have no fear, I know I am lucky.

When I finally do emerge from my slumber I eat my bowl of cereal (this morning they were the extremely healthy Fruit Loops), fix my cup of coffee, and blog hop for a while. This "while" sometimes stretches into a couple of hours seeing as I just love visiting and comment on all of y'all's fantabulous blogs!

This morning I called my husband over to share a couple of blogs with him. (One was Gina With Love, which was soooo true and funny.) After reading the third blog and realizing I had been enjoying my bloggy session for over an hour, he proclaimed, "You have a problem!"

And he was right. He was not referring to my grey hair, which is certainly a problem that needs to be dealt with. Nor was he referring to my problem of trying to lose weight, which I am currently working on. He was referring to my "Every Thing Blog" addiction. And I am woman enough to admit it:

Hello! My name is Liz, and I am addicted to blogging!

Seriously! I love everything having to do with blogging. Two weeks ago I spent over 4 hours trying to figure out how to redesign my blog. I am constantly adding gadgets and learning how to add other tidbits of fun. Everyday I check in with my dashboard eager to open new blogs posted by my peeps and with as much anticipation as a kid opening presents. I have even become addicted to VoiceBoks, a phenomenal website dedicated to mommy bloggers.

Each night, when I finally sit down after teaching third graders, gymnastics, dance, homework, laundry, cooking, fixing lunch for the next day, picking out clothes, mediating fights, changing diapers, giving bottles, bathing children, etc., I dive into my blog eager to see who has visited during the day. I almost get so sucked in that it is difficult to climb out of what I can only describe as a bloggy black hole.

I know I should be doing other things: more laundry, unloading the dishwasher, grading papers, working on lesson plans, doing college work. I blog all the while feeling guilty. Guilty because I think about what I SHOULD be doing. Especially, my class work for college.

I am getting my Educational Specialist right now. I have been going to school for the last 3 years, and now I have one semester left. This is it. Soon I will be free. Soon I will get a major pay increase. Soon I will be considered smarter. Soon...soon...soon I will be able to blog guilt free because I won't be thinking about the classwork I should be doing instead of blogging. The End is Near...for now I better go and work on my next assignment!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Slippin' and Slidin'

This morning as my feet pounded the pavement and Lady Gaga sang about being "Born This Way" in my ear I was having a serious runner's high. (I use the term "runner" lightly seeing as right now the majority of my "run" is spent walking. I am building up to it though!) Anyway, I was super excited because today was "Weigh In Wednesday" and I could not wait to see how much my hard work had paid off.

Alas, my high came crashing down as I stepped onto the scale and those blasted, evil, spawn of Satan numbers appeared on the screen. I gained a pound!! Seriously??? I gained a pound?

WTF!!! I have worked my tail off. I have starved myself. I have drowned my thirst with enough water to fill a bathtub every day (be it a baby one;). The point is, WTF!!! How can this be?

Well, I guess it could be Saturday. My brother-in-law's birthday was this past weekend and there was a gathering. As you know, gatherings include food and cold beverages, both of which made their way into my belly. I have a thing for snacky dips and appetizers. Sometimes I would rather eat that than a meal. And I never fix a plate, like I know I should. If I fixed a plate, it would probably keep me from gorging myself to the point of misery. Honestly...I blame my brother-in-law. I mean, how dare he have a birthday party! Especially while I am trying to lose weight!

But I think what upset me the most this morning was the fact that I actually FEEL thinner. My husband commented a couple of days ago about how much flatter my tummy looked (and no I don't think he was trying to get some). I noticed less cellulite as I scrutinized my body in the mirror (and no I did not have my contacts out). And one of my coworkers squeezed my arm yesterday and told me how "skinny" I looked (and no I had not just flexed. That is just laughable).

But the one thing that had me absolutely convinced that I had lost weight was that my thighs were now Slipin' and Slidin'. Maybe you don't know what I mean, but normally my thighs are shoved so close together due to the extra weight that when I walk they never actually come a part. They just stay stuck together, never even having enough room to move in order to even rub against each other. It is much like they are one united being. But lately I have noticed that not only are they moving, but they are sliding right past each other with ease. This leads me to believe that although I have not lost pounds this week, I am definitely losing inches.

So over the next week I am going to continue "running" (I am walking 2 minutes and running 1 minute right now). I am going to eat even less and drink even more water. I am going to avoid birthday parties and gatherings where there are plethoras of yummy morsels that threaten to ruin my goals. And I am going to keep my thighs slipin' and slidin' in the hopes that soon I will have lost so much weight that they don't touch at all:)'

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's Never Okay to Hit...Or Is It

My two oldest girls are alike in so many ways. Their personalities are much more like mine than my husband's. They are dynamically verbal (i.e. won't shut up), dramatic (we are constantly being entertained), and smart (well OF COURSE that came from me;).

However, as alike as they are, they are also extremely different. Aubrey is much more laid back. While Addison thinks the world is going to end just because she doesn't get dessert. Aubrey is the typical first child and eager to please. While Addison's philosophy is "Here I am like it or not"! Aubrey avoids controversy. While Addison creates it. You get the picture (Aubrey is on the left on her knees and Addison is on the right).
With that being said, it is amazing how well they get along. They rarely fight and when they do the punishment of having to be away from each other is almost too much to bare. Although there are times in which I feel the need to call in a referee to blow the whistle and stop the play due to a foul.

Said foul occurred today: an illegal hit! The girls were playing with the big Lego blocks (best buy ever)and they began to argue about how to build the house. When Addison said she wanted to do it a certain way, Aubrey informed her "too bad", which is shocking because Aubrey pretty much does whatever Addison wants. This would be the point when Addison pretty much told her who was boss by slapping her across the face.

Aubrey rushed into the bathroom to tell me, which is indicative of what happens every time I am in the bathroom (see previous post on my super power of magnetism). I called Addison to me and told her it was never okay to hit and that she needed to go sit in time out, at which time she informed me that she had already put herself in time out and had been sitting there when I called her into the bathroom:)

So when I told my husband about the incident he just shook his head. Then he made a shocking proclamation, "Maybe we should just tell Aubrey to hit her back. I mean, she is the bigger sister maybe it is time she stood up for herself. If she would just knock Addison to the ground one good time, maybe Addison would learn her lesson". We thought about it for a moment and then remembered another time when we told Addison to hit back.

They were 2 and 4, and Addison had jerked something away from her sister. When Aubrey grabbed for it, Addison pushed her. Aubrey started crying, and we were so tired of it that we (unwisely now in retrospect) told her to hit her back. Of course she was so scared of hurting her little sister that she barely grazed the other munchkin's arm. That is when Addison drew back and scratched her across the face. As horrible as it was and as we felt, we could not help but giggle behind our hands as we disciplined Addison.

So now here we are again. Tempted to teach one child a lesson by using the other one. The lesson:It is Never Okay to Hit...Or Is It? There could possibly be a time when it is okay. However, given how feisty Addison is and how accurate she is with her left hook, it might definitely be unwise.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It's Inevitable

We started school last Friday. I know! It is early, but on the upside we get out half way through May. I personally like it better because football season has already started and we can't go any where any way and it is so freaking hot I would just rather be indoors. May is such a nicer time to be outside.

Anyway, it's inevitable that at some point in time during the first month of school my household is going to get sick. Usually by the end of the first month I am so hoarse I can barely talk. I mean, how can you not get sick what with all of the germs flying around an elementary school on any given day. So, my oldest started first. On Monday she woke up sneezing and with a runny nose. Gave her some Benedryl...in retrospect probably should not have given her the full dose due to the fact that she was heading to school. Needless to say, she was pretty out of it for the majority of the day. Went and got some Claritin after school.

On Thursday when I picked my tiniest munchkin up from the sitter she informed me that my darling's nose had been running all day and she had a hard time sucking on her bottle. Hmmmm...sounds like an ear infection to me. Of course, that was inevitable too seeing as both of the other girls had tubes before they were 18 months. In fact my middle child was so fraught with ear infections that she had tubes before she was one! Luckily, my mother-in-law was coming to keep her the next day and was able to take her to the doctor...enter first ever round of antibiotics at the rip old age of 14 weeks!

Now if two of your three tiny people are sick it's inevitable that the third is soon to follow. The first indication was when she came into our room at 2:45 this morning saying she couldn't sleep. The second indication was the rasping coughing that ensued this morning. And finally, the 100.6 degree fever that she woke up from her nap with. Seriously!!! Well, I guess it is good it is the weekend.

Now my husband and I just need to wait for our turn. I mean, it's inevitable...right?

Hot Pineapple Casserole

Here is one of my munchkins' favorite side dishes. It is oh so yummy!

Hot Pineapple casserole

2 cans of pineapple chunks (drain one completely and drain the other only half way)
3 T of all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 sleeve of Ritz crackers, crushed
1/2 stick butter melted (I leave this out a lot)

Place pineapple and juice in a 2 quart dish. Mix flour and sugar together in a separate bowl and then sprinkle over pineapple. Sprinkle cheese on top. Top with cracker crumbs and drizzle butter over top. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

It is so good that I normally have to double it!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

And We're Off

So if you read my previous blog you know that the time has come for me to get serious about losing weight. My main motivation. . . fitting into my jeans. Every Friday is dress down day at school, and I can't dress down because my jeans won't zip even with the age old lying down and using pliers trick!! It has time for me to get serious about losing weight.

A few weeks ago I started monitoring what I eat. . . kind of. I have a hard time with sweets and things that are salty and bread . . . and . . . pretty much all food. I do love it so! But I, at least, started limiting my portions.

It is hard to train your stomach to eat less, especially when you have just finished being pregnant and are used to eating large portions. One of the most important ways I do this is by using a salad plate at meal times instead of a regular sized plate. This forces me to get smaller portions and even if I go back for seconds I still only end up eating what would have equaled a regular size plate. This way I almost feel like I am getting more to eat!

I am also trying to eat slower, which is definitely hard with a baby because you have to shove everything into your mouth just to make sure you have time to eat. I am also eating all of my vegetables before anything else in order to feel up on the items that are better for me. Two other things that are
proving successful:
1. Drink a full glass of water before I start to eat.

2. When I am finished with my plate and think I want more I drink another full glass of water. If I still want it then I get some more.

And finally I started exercising this week. This is a BIG deal! I hate to exercise. I mean absolutely despise it. I think people who love to exercise are stupid and just have some innate desire to torture themselves. I hate to sweat. I hate to get up earlier at 5:30 in the A.M. (which I have to do because of the kids). But most of all I HATE to do anything that is hard for me and makes me feel like I can't do it well, and exercise is soooooooo hard for me. Especially running which is the kind of exercise I must do in order to really do some damage to this flab.

So how is it going? Well I weighed in last Wednesday at 155.2. This morning before I weighed I felt quite certain I had gained weight. I mean, it just looked like it to me, but lo and behold I weighed in at 151.3. That is almost a four pound loss! I am pumped, inspired, and finally motivated. I am working and it is working. "And We're Off" (as they say) on this adventure to a healthier, thinner, toner, and happier me, who can fit in her jeans again!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

This is Serious

Well it is one hundred and fifty million degrees down here in south Georgia. I know it is hot everywhere but with our blasted humidity the air is so heavy that you literally feel like you are suffocating when you walk outside. Because it is so hot, it is hard to think about cooler weather but it is coming and it won't be too long.That means it will soon be jean weather, which is not good.

Why? You may ask. Well the reason is simple . . . I can't fit into any of my jeans. There! I said it. I have been enjoying the luxury of wearing flowing summer dresses for the last 6 months and soon that luxury will be ripped from my slightly chubby, water retaining fingers.

Don't get me wrong! I love jeans. I love how my bum looks in them (it is one of my best "ass"ets). I love the cute little tops I can wear with them. I love wearing boots over my skinny jeans. And I love, I love, I love the that wonderful feeling of exhilaration when I can zip up my "skinny" jeans (even if it does involve lying down, a pair of pliers, and some lunges).

The problem is that I quite literally can not get any of mine to come with in five inches of zipping. I know I just had a baby 3 months ago, and I would not trade that experience with the world. Nor would I change the fact that I ate everything in sight, because let's face it that is the only time in our lives where we are finally able to stop looking at the scale and enjoy food without any feeling of guilt. And I did not gain that much weight (35 pounds!). But the fact is that most of the weight is still there even with my initial 10-15 pound weight loss that came with breast feeding.

I know I could buy a bigger size and embrace my new curvier shape while enjoying food as I did in my pregnancy but I guess I am a little too vain for that. I want to be able to fit in my clothes for a self confidence booster as well as the fact that these are uncertain economic times and this girl cannot afford to go restock her closet. Therefore, I must work with what I got! And that is about 20 pounds of extra weight.

What to do? Well, it is quite simple. I have done all of this before. After my second child, I joined the YMCA's Team Lean and lost 30 pounds and 19% of my body fat in 10 weeks. I also won $650. The plan: I must count calories and exercise. Seriously it is as simple as that consume less calories and burn more of them. And when I say burn I mean I better be sweating in the first 5 minutes or it ain't doing enough.

The problem is three fold:

1. I love food.
2. I hate to exercise.
3. I have 3 kids, including one infant.

So I have made a decision! I am getting up every morning at 5:30 in the a.m. to start running. Anyone who knows me is now saying is she serious because they know how much I like to sleep. But I am doing this. There is no other time. I must exercise or this flab is never going to get off of my body and I will never fit in my jeans! And the only time I do not have 3 munchkins hanging all over me is early in the morning. If I do this and keep it up, then I know I will be able to eat what I want in moderation.

Whatever the case, the next 10 weeks is Liz Hill's own version of Team Lean (wish I had that monetary motivation). And I am recruiting all of you to help me as I start posting Weigh In Wednesdays which will be about my adventure in losing weight.

This is serious!! I must be able to fit into my jeans...that or go naked. And I can't afford to get arrested . . . as I said this are uncertain economic times!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Well I'll Be...

Disclaimer: No I am not getting paid to advertise...I wish!!! I use the S-word a lot in this post, but always in meaningful context and since I am an educator and don't want to be fired I am using "spit" in its place!

In the South we have all kinds of funny sayings. For instance, if we say, "Oh, bless her!" We don't really mean, "May God brings his blessings upon her." What we mean is that we have either just insulted her or are about to say something ugly about her. Like, "I swear, she is as dumb as dirt...bless her." Or, "Did y'all know that she walked in on her husband in a scandalous position with the maid? Oh, bless her heart!"

When someone shocks us or bestows upon us a new piece of information you might hear, "Well I'll be", "Is that right?", or "You spittin' me?"

Since having children I have experienced many moments where someone has told me something I had no clue about. In other words, I have said "For real?", "Nawwww", and "No Spit?" lots and lots of times. I thought I would share a few of these monumental discoveries with you just in case you are still in the dark about how we remedy some of our children's ailments.

1. Dove soap will get rid of baby acne. For real? Yes, it will.

Rub a little on the corner of a wash cloth and rub it on your darlings little cheeks. After a few days, it will be gone. If not, then it is probably eczema and you need to go get some Eucerin cream.

2. Tea bags in the diaper will relieve diaper rash. Nawwwww? It will. You put them in dry and when the little one wets the tea bags the chemicals in the urine will release some sort of healing powers in the tea.

3. Vapor rub on the feet is like a miracle. Is that right? Certainly is. For some reason, your feet are more porous than any other part of your body. Therefore, if you rub vapor rub on his little precious feet and then put on socks the vapors will relieve congestion and make them feel as if they are wrapped in a blanket of Vick's magic.

4. A wet paper towel and a plastic cup does wonders for an ear infection. No spit? Yes, spit it does. Wet a paper towel and squeeze it out just so it is not dripping. Then heat it in the microwave for about 30-60 seconds. Fold it up and put it in the bottom of the cup. Hold the open end of the cup to their little ear and the steam will loosen the pressure behind the ear drum.

5. Dandruff shampoo will cure cradle cap. Someone told me this and I literally said, "Your spittin' me?" We have never struggled with cradle cap until recently our third baby. It was scaly, greenish, flaky, and gross. It even smelled bad. Nothing we did worked. We tried fancy lotion, oil, vaseline...nothing worked.

Then my baby sitter said she had heard that if you rubbed dandruff shampoo into the cradle cap like lotion and then leave it on. And presto!!! Within a day it is almost gone.

Do you have anything that would make me say, "Well I'll be..."? Cause I will take all of the advice I can get even if I do accuse you of "spittin' me!"