Sunday, January 26, 2014

Time Slows for No One

Time slows for no one.

As a Mom, I find myself staring at my children and just wishing their growth would slow. Thinking maybe I could find a way to keep them small, a way to prolong the journey to grown just a tad.

My oldest child. My son just took another step towards grown today. He turned seventeen. Today.

It seems such a short time ago he was little and watching Teletubbies and Buzz Lightyear on a loop.  Now he is driving a car, shaving his facial hair, dating girls, and planning his senior schedule.

I was feeling a bit reminiscent so I took a look back at his many birthday parties. (Which can I say I am super thankful for digital cameras!)

We lived in Denver when my son turned one but we happened to be home one month before his birthday so we celebrated with family then.  On his actual first birthday, we had a Super Bowl party and had all of our friends over. The Denver Bronco's beat The Green Bay Packers that year and won their first Super Bowl. When the city lit off fireworks in celebration, I told my then one year old that those fireworks were just for him. {The first of many parental lies I would tell him over his 17 years!}

His Second Birthday. After a year of watching non-stop Teletubbies, we threw him the biggest Teletubby party! Tubby custard, Tubby flowers, Tubby cake. 

His Third Birthday might have been one of my favorites back then! He loved cars and trucks back then (some things never change!) so we can a cars and trucks themed party. All the food was shaped like "3's" and served in dump trucks. I even froze cars and trucks in the ice ring for the punch.

His Fourth Birthday came one month after we relocated from the country to the city. We knew hardly anyone but Uncle Dean pulled together a few people and we had a small party in the backroom of a McDonald's. Luckily Chicken Nuggets were his favorite food back then!

His Fifth Birthday: a pirate themed birthday. We even had a buried  treasure chest.

His Sixth Birthday. We had a skating party at the local skating rink with all of his school friends. His theme was firefighters.

His Seventh Birthday. He wanted to go to a fancy restaurant in Kansas City that has since closed. It was at the top of the Hyatt and it rotated 360 degrees. We still laugh how this little boy ate the entire piece of Mile High Pie all by himself.

Ninth Birthday. We had a backyard cookout and indoor camping. This was the first birthday The Husband shared with us. He braved the cold January weather to help the birthday guest roast hot dogs and marshmallows!

His Tenth Birthday. Sports themed and held at the local community center. Everyone enjoyed indoor swimming. 

His Twelfth Birthday. Our theme was "Party Like a Rock Star" and we played Guitar Hero. He invited old and new friends. It was my first (and maybe last) attempt at making an ice cream cake. 

Thirteenth Birthday. We celebrated with a store purchased {Cold Stone Creamery} ice cream cake at home with family

For his Fourteenth Birthday we celebrated by watching The Super Bowl with his friends. 


His Fifteenth Birthday was again a Super Bowl Party.

Sixteenth Birthday. He requested no more parties. Just family. I am not gonna lie; it might have broke my heart a little!


His Seventeenth Birthday. He requested  a  homemade Tres Leches Cake. Too bad he could not take his eyes off the K-State game!

I am super proud to be his mom. Relatively speaking raising him has been pretty easy! I am in shock that next year he will be 18 years old.

Time, my friends, does not slow for any of us. I am sure you parents out there know this to be as true as I do. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014


It's that time of year again. At the start of each year, we celebrate the beginning of a new year. We might also look inward and reflect.  Make plans for new goals or accomplishments we would like to achieve. 

{Oh yeah and we watch a bowl game or two! How many of you caught our Missouri Tigers playing in the Cotton Bowl? All of us stayed up late to watch every second. I am not sure about you but that sure was an intense fourth quarter! M-I-Z...}

It has been too cold to play outside so the family has been spending a lot of time together inside. We have been mulling resolutions over and over in our heads. Here is what we have come up with!

The Short Chic's Resolutions:

1. To have fun.
2. To be a good student.
3.  And even though it was not her first idea, she has added clean her room. 

The Boy's Resolutions:

1. Gain Weight
2. To be a better student. 
3. To do his chores without prompting.

The Husband's Resolutions:

1. To run 500 miles this year.
2. To bike 1,000 miles this year.
3. Te be less grouchy and nicer. {The entire family had to clarify if he was joking or not. He promised he was being serious!}

My Resolutions:

1. I am going to bike 500 miles this year.
2. I am going to track my food.  
3. I am going to take a photo every single day.

As a family we resolved to make our home a better place. We talked about de-cluttering our home. Keeping it clean. Picking up after ourselves. Chores. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Gringo Learns to Make Tamales

My MIL (Mother-in-law) called us New Year's Morning and inquires if I would be willing to help her make homemade tamales. I figured taking down the old Christmas Trees could wait and we agree to head over.

This is my first real tamale lesson. When we arrive, she was elbow deep in Masa. (Gringo translation: Masa = Dough.)

Nana told me the Masa should be the consistency of frosting. She was not sure if we ever got to that point.  I could not tell the difference!

My next job was to prepare the hojas. (Gringo translation: corn leaves.) We soaked them in water and removed any hairs that might have been stuck to the hojas. 

 Nana had made the mole and the pork the day before. So with finished Masa and clean hojas, we were ready to begin assembling the tamale.  I learned you want an even thin layer of masa on the smooth side of the hojas. If you put it on the rough side of the hojas the tamale will stick to the hojas after cooking.

I preferred to use the back of a spoon to smooth on the masa. My husband preferred to use his fingers.

Next is the mole sauce. The last step is to fold. the tamale. You fold each of the sides in, overlapping them in the middle. Then you take the bottom, pinch it and twist it up to the top.

Tamale are cooked by steam. So we used large steamer baskets with a couple of dozen tamales at a time. It takes about an hour to steam the tamale. Depending on the size of your steamer make sure you do not run the pot dry of water. 

The Short Chic got in on the action. She was not the best at spreading the masa but anyone who gets the tamale she made will know she did not skimp on the pork! The Short Chic was instrumental in getting everyone in the whole family motivated to get involved. She told everyone, "if you want to eat tamale, then you have to help make tamale!"

So, her Papa helped.

Her Daddy helped.

Even her big brother helped. (They also had to wear aprons that she picked out for them!)

I think judging the right amount of masa, mole, and pork is a tricky part. First we ran out of hojas, but Nana had an extra stash of them. When we ran out of pork, Nana told me about "sweet tamale". 

Sweet tamale is made when you add brown sugar, granulated sugar, raisins, and cinnamon to the extra masa. There is no meat or mole. But you fold them and steam them just the same. Our sweet tamale was a bit smaller than the pork tamale because we were running low on hojas.

Nana said they are perfect with coffee in the morning. Which is exactly how I ate mine this morning! So, yummy!

In the end, I put nearly four dozen tamales and two dozen sweet tamales in the freezer yesterday.

I hope you all had a great New Year's Day! This gringo sure did!

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Geese Have Landed

A few weeks ago, we were leaving the house and noticed how loud it was outside. The sky around our house was completely full of Canada Geese.

We get them every year but every couple of years their population on our community lake appears to increase. That night, as we drove past the lake, although it was dark you could tell the entire lake was nearly covered with the honking geese.

The first thing you notice is their noise. Collectively hundreds of Canada Geese are very loud. {Maybe I am glad my house does not border the lake!}

The second thing you can't help but notice is that come nightfall the geese return to the lake in droves. They approach in large groups, small groups, duo's, and even singles.  An hour after dark the geese have landed and made their way to the ice, where they will stay till morning comes.

We shot the video above on our second night of watching them. It is the second video I took. The first was when the lake was full but you can't see anything because it is after dark. I went back before the day light was fully gone and tried to get a second video. You can see the geese but the noise level is also significantly different. Below is the first video. {Too bad I know NOTHING about film editing to lighten it for you!}

Maybe it is the country part of me but I can sit by that lake and watch these Canada Geese for hours day after day. {From my warm toasty car, of course. It's cold out there!}

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 12 {NEW YEARS EVE}

We spent a quiet night at home on New Year's Eve.

Since we have a teenager it seemed a little dangerous to leave our house unattended on New Year's Eve. {I remember too well that who ever had the empty house hosted the party.} Luckily our friends did not mind coming over on New Year's Eve.

We made dinner, goofed around, played some domino's and quietly rang in the new year. 

One of the cool things we did was make Grab Bags for New Year's Eve. I got the idea from Hoosier Homemade last year. Inspired by her Countdown Goodie Bags, we have been making these for two years now.

The premise is simple. Inside a bag you place a goodie for the kids/family. Each hour until midnight you open a bag. We started our bags at 6 p.m. I made the clocks from clip art and SmartArt from Word. Inside the bags the kids found a different theme for the new year. 

6:00 A Year of Fun: Toys: Princess Sofia puzzles for the little girls and iPhone screen cleaner for the teens {that is all they play with, right?} and liquid bubbles for all.
7:00 A Year of Good Health: Nail Files, Nail Clippers, dental floss, disposable toothbrushes and facial tissues.
8:00 A Sweet Year: Candy: Wax Bottles, Caramel Apple Suckers, and Ring Pops.
9:00 A Year of  Squeaky Clean Behavior: Shower Loofa's and Lent Rollers.
10:00 Our Future is So Bright: Glow Sticks and Lighted Key Chains for the teens. 
11:00 A Year of Dreams Come True: Princess Tiaras, Princess Mirrors, and Princess Maraca's for the little girls and the teens got air fresheners for their cars. 
12:00 Bring in the New Year! Party Hats, Noise Makers, Poppers.

Every hour they were so excited to see what was next! They used the empty bags to keep their loot separate from each other and were so excited to take it all home. 

It was a laid back evening. Talking about campers.  And camping. Planning  future camping trips.

 Laughing about the memories we made this year.

And making plans for new memories in the year to come. 

So, from all of all of you... We wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR!! 

And hopefully a little quiet!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wordless Wendesday: Our Twelve Days of Christmas

Day 5: Christmas Eve

Day 6: Christmas Morning. The Short Chic and the pets enjoying gifts from Santa.

Merry Christmas to All!