Thursday, August 30, 2012

Homemade Shake-n-Bake

I remember seeing the commercials for shake-n-bake as a kid and thinking it looked like fun. My mom never bought it. Fast-forward a good number of years. My then new husband asked me to make shake-n-bake and is stunned to find out I've never made it, eaten it, etc. Nearly nine years of marriage later and I can't tell you how many times we've had it. I love it. There's something in the seasoning and it is wonderful. Pair it with some mac-n-cheese and steamed veggies and you've got one awesome meal.

I had some chicken breast in the fridge that I was going to use for dinner (who knows what I was going to make) and Husband requested shake-n-bake. Only problem, we don't have any in the pantry. So, we looked up some recipes online and decided to try and make our own. It was yummy. I enjoyed the taste. It isn't shake-n-bake, but I'd definitely make it again. I don't know how it would pair with mac-n-cheese, but it was great with pasta that had a creamy tomato sauce. I think it would probably make a pretty good chicken parmesan because it tasted great dipped in the left over sauce on my plate.

There aren't any pictures. It looked like any other breaded and baked chicken cut up into nugget sized pieces (I knew that would mean less time for the oven to be on and possibly a better way to entice the boys to try it). I ended up combining a few recipes. Here's what we used.

1 sleeve of Ritz crackers
about 1/8 cup of dried parsley flakes
about 1 tbsp paprika
about 2 tbsp dried oregano
about 2 tsp of celery salt (when I do this again I'll just use one)
about 2 tsp of garlic powder
about 2 tsp of onion powder
fresh ground pepper (I have no idea how much - probably about 1 tsp. I just kept grinding until it looked good to me)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut up (there was plenty of mix made to use more chicken)

Crush the crackers in a gallon sized ziplock baggie. Combine all other dry ingredients in the gallon ziplock bag. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add chicken to bag (it can be cut up into bites, strips, or left whole - you can also use skin on, bone in). Shake until coated. Place on cookie sheet lined with foil (because no one wants to wash extra dishes if you don't have to). Cooking time depends on size of meat pieces. I cooked the nugget size pieces for about 15-18 min. An uncut breast takes about 30-45 minutes depending on size and thickness. Cut it open or use a meat thermometer and check for doneness.

Here are the recipes I used to get an idea of what to do.
All Recipes
Hillbilly Housewife
Dinner, a Love Story

**You can use bread crumbs or saltines if you'd prefer. I was aiming for about 1 1/2 cups of crumbs. I was using what was on hand (that was the purpose of the exercise). If bread crumbs didn't require the use of our oven (and if it hadn't been so close to dinner time already), I might have made some.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Getting Antsy

I have three weeks left with the large belly (well, with this large, baby-filled belly). It's exciting and daunting all at once. I'm tired (story of a life with young children, I know), but I feel ready in many ways. I'm ready to hold him and stare at him. I'm ready to cuddle him and smell the new baby smell. I'm ready to dress him in little onesies, and to have his brothers entirely smitten as well. I'm ready to teach them and show them how to be kind and gentle with a new little person. I'm ready to love this little one on the outside and let others love him as well.

At the same time, there are still things I need to do to get ready. The clothes are clean and out. We have diapers (in many sizes except the ones we need to begin with). I have a bassinet, but it needs to come out of the garage, be cleaned, and put in our room. That means our room needs to be cleaned. The boys room needs to be cleaned, and possibly rearranged. I have to clear out the changing table (it's secretary desk style) and fill it with things that are useful for changing diapers and taking care of a newborn. I had dreams of building a new bunk bed with three beds, but I don't think Husband is up for that challenge right now and I know I'm not. Still, it would make the room better for when I do eventually get out the crib. The bottles are clean and ready to go, but we need to buy nipples. That will all wait until we see how things go with this little one and the ways of nature. I really do feel like what I need to do isn't that big a deal. Yes, I want a clean house (which I'm neglecting). I want a to go through and get rid of things and minimize our stuff so there is more room for this little one. At the same time, I don't feel motivated to get things done, and I don't feel like it's a big deal. He'll fit in. We'll love him. Life will go on as it always does.

I'm nervous. Any time I've brought a baby home I haven't had to worry about the schedule of others. Husband has work, but that's it. Now, Husband has work and H has school. I don't want him to be late or miss school, and I'm not certain how that will work out the first few months. I know we pretty much have the first 3 weeks covered, but it is hard to let other people take care of it and be out of control with those things. My goal was for him to have perfect attendance this year. It's still my goal, but suddenly the outcome lies in other people's hands. The twins were an interesting adjustment, but we managed. Getting a schedule down with everyone didn't seem that difficult. I don't know how this little one will be with the schedule. I'm going to have to work harder to fit him into our schedule. Life can't stop because he arrives, though I'm sure there are parts of me that wish it could. Parts of me that wish I could focus on him like I did H, or even G and J who got a lot of attention because there were two.

So many things to do, so many thoughts running through my head. It is going to be busy, busy, busy. And, yet, here I am thinking I'm ready. Ready to embark on another adventure by adding another boy to our lives. Ready to bring him home and add chaos to chaos. Ready to have our family together in a way that everyone can experience. Thank goodness we have good friends and family who are here to help. I'm so glad my mom is coming down to take care of me for a week and my sister-friend will taking a few days off while I'm in the hospital to give her a hand. I'm grateful for a husband who loves me and does all he can for our family, who is willing to take time off and help out when the time comes.

Now, to get up and get things done; to really prepare for what we are doing now and what will be coming so very soon. Time to tackle laundry and dishes, the kitchen and living room, and getting all those little things into place before #4 arrives.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Happy Medium

I'm glad to say that school is going well. I'm not in the classroom observing H every day, or any day yet, but I look forward to the day when I can. I am excited to see him in action. Until then, I'm glad to be able to say that he is learning and growing. Watching him do his homework and seeing the way his mind thinks, it's interesting. Husband does drop-offs most days, but the days that I do give interesting insights as well. I enjoy seeing him with friends and interacting with the other kids. I love to watch him find his name tag, show me with a huge smile, put his backpack down, and run to the playground. I love that he is still excited to go when we get there, even if he isn't overly excited when I tell him he can't play because we have to get ready. He may not be excited about homework, but we're working on it and the newness of this concept. Maybe one day...maybe.

Now comes the fun of the happy medium. When do we push for more, how do we show him that even though he didn't get 100% his best is good enough. In his room they have a behavior chart based on color. Green is a good day. I'm happy and satisfied with green. We aim for purple (a great day) but are glad for green. H doesn't see it this way. He aims for purple and is upset with green. Monday was a yellow day (warning). He was sad he got a warning. That day we talked about aiming for purple. We have a book that they sent home about Bono el Mono (Bono the monkey). He goes to school and learns the rules and each of the pages is a rule he learns. We read this book almost daily (mostly to be reading Spanish and working on Spanish vocabulary), and we talk about what he did to get a big star at the end of the book. Unfortunately, H is disappointed that he isn't getting purple. He's disappointed and he wants to quit trying. Now begins the fun of encouraging and urging him to do his best, while still helping him to see that he can't give up when he doesn't get or do what he thinks he should. Now begins the fun of helping him to learn how to do more than we think we can. Now comes the fun of comforting my sad and disappointed 5-yr-old while helping him to see that I'm not disappointed in him (I'm over the moon if he had a green means he did what he was supposed to).

Life's new challenges: homework, encouragement, comfort. I suppose they aren't "new," but we are certainly looking at them from a different perspective. I pray I can help him in a manner that grows both of us to be better, me a better mother and he a better student/person.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Difficulties of Letting Go

Today I found that it is just as difficult now to leave H at school as it was the first day, perhaps harder because I didn't have anyone with me. Most mornings Husband takes him to school and picks him up because he can. I love that H gets special time with his daddy. Today I got to take all the kiddos and drop H off. I found it just as difficult, if not more so, to watch him go stand with his classmates, walk through the gate without me, find his name tag (without help), and go to the playground to play until it was time to line up. As I drove away I watched him try to hold another student's hand on the way to line up and that student told him no. Little things that make me wish I could be there with him. I want to play with him on the playground, I want to hold his hand, I want to sit with him and help him, and I have to let go. As I drove home I called Husband and let him know that I was glad he did drop-offs normally. It think I was closer to tears today than I was on day 1. I realize that being 34 weeks pregnant doesn't help with that, but letting go is hard. H is happy, he had a good day, and I am grateful that he is ready to walk a little ways without me. Now, I just have to prepare myself to let go so he can.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Happy Thoughts

A few quick and happy thoughts running through my mind this morning.

1. H found his name tag all by himself. He was so proud and he brought it over to show Husband that he did it.

2. I love how J will come to me and ask where G is (usually asking for him by middle name, not first). It is adorable to me that he wants to know and keep track of his twin.

3. G's crazy coloring skills. He's 2.5 yrs old and he colors inside the lines. Crazy, especially since I never showed/taught him how and don't stress doing it ever. Still, he loves to color with color pencils and he's amazing (coming from his proud mama).

4. Five weeks to go until the newest member of the family arrives. I'm excited to hold and cuddle him, to notice everything about him that reminds me of the boys and doesn't, to see if he has my nose and Husband's pinky fingers. I'm also realizing that time is quickly passing by and there is tons to do to finish prepping for his arrival (including deciding on a name).

5. I have the bestest sister-friend in the whole, wide world. Last night she and her husband took the boys so Husband and I could just hang out together. We went to dinner and got some ice cream. Then, after bed time, we watched a movie. So nice to just be together.

I'm sure I could keep going, but it's almost time to pick H up.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Week 1 Down

School week #1 is finished.

H seemed to do well. He has had some difficulties and we are working on supporting and encouraging him. I am fairly certain he loves the social aspect. I also know that is part of his struggle in class. The language barrier has made things a little difficult, but he hasn't expressed the frustration I thought he would. Some people who have experience with this program (dual immersion) say that it takes about 3-4 weeks to adjust and have the language part start to really click. I'm hoping and praying this is true for H.

We are adjusting to our new schedule. It hasn't been smooth. I'm using an alarm to get up for the first time in two years (admittedly I'm usually awake when it goes off, but now I have to get out of bed). The boys are used to some time between waking and eating and that doesn't happen on school days. Lunch is earlier than normal (which isn't too big a deal if we don't do snack or do a very small snack). Picking H up from school means that the twins nap earlier too (something I haven't quite figured out since they tend to fall asleep in the car on the way there...only an issue when I'm the only one picking him up). This isn't a bad thing, except they aren't making the transition to bed like they usually do and so they are getting shorter nap times and I'm not getting any nap time. All this lack of napping and being at school does make falling asleep at an earlier bed time easier though.

Ahh, the joys of new schedules and experiences. Here's to life progressing and children growing up. I do miss that little boy I could stare at for hours, the calm of just him and me, but I'm glad to see how he's changed and grown. I'm excited to see what this new adventure teaches all of us and how we can use it to continue to mold him into the person he will become.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


My heart overflows. This morning I found out that my H gave up his own goodie bag so that one of his classmates could have one. Yesterday, afterschool, he told me we were two short. I emailed the teacher to confirm and she said we were three short and he gave up his. There are no words to express how truly proud and happy I am. I know he is kind-hearted, and I know doesn't want anyone to feel sad, but this says so much about him and his personality. I knew he would show me how awesome he is, I just didn't expect a story like this so soon. My heart overflows!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Turning 5 and Entering Kindergarten

The day has arrived. My first born, H, turned 5 (well, tonight at 8:00pm) and started kindergarten. What a big day. From the little I could gather, he had a good time. I know he attempted to write his name, but he said he couldn't finish because he missed me and his daddy. Sweet boy! I know they colored and used shapes to build a house. He ate his fruit snacks and drank his juice and had some of his apple (no idea how much) but dropped it and threw it away because it was dirty. His sandwich is untouched, in his bag, to save for later. He said he made friends, but they did not tell him their names, and I'm not sure if he told them his. At the end of the day he passed out some goodie bags instead of cupcakes (as a teacher I didn't prefer the mess and disruption caused by cupcakes...especially on the first day of school). He seemed to enjoy his time and he hasn't said he doesn't want to go back, so I count today as a win.

We were able to drop off without tears (on all accounts) and pick up without tears. There were balloons on the gate for the first day of school, he thought they were there because today is his birthday. As we drove away, Husband noticed there was still one child on the playground and everyone else was lined up. Yep, it was H. The teacher walked over and we watched him hold her hand and chat with her as they walked to the line. Picking him up, Husband looked for the blond hair child and couldn't find him. He had on a birthday crown. When they got to the car (the twins were sleeping) he gave me a kiss and a big hug. He's growing up, and while I still wish I could be there and watch him play and interact and learn, I'm learning to let go...just a smidge, and let him show me how awesome he is.

Praying before walking to the gate
Crossing the street with Daddy (and J)
Waiting...and playing with his nose?
Welcome sign
Excited for the gates to open
Done with day one and a birthday crown
Today his 5 and a kindergartner!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Birthday party

Birthday boy

Sunday we had H's birthday party. Since he starts school on his birthday, I wanted to celebrate early because I wanted to do it before school started. It took a lot of preparation, and Husband and I lost some sleep because of it, but it was fun. There are so many people who helped out (thanks if you're reading this) and I could not have done it without any of them. Husband cooked the burgers and hot dogs, my mother-in-law made macaroni salad, my sister-in-law helped cut some fruit for the fruit salad (and made sure I put the fruit in the bowl and not the seeds or apple cores), a good friend helped up keep the picnic tables at the park while we made trips back and forth (as well as decorating the tables and organizing where food went), and the list goes on. It was a long, amazing day, and I am so glad birthday parties only come twice a year (at least for now). Still, H enjoyed himself, and everyone else seemed to do the same. Yay for a park where the kids can play, the adults can talk, there's plenty of room for everyone, and the clean-up is limited to the area where you sit instead of your whole house.

I didn't take pictures the whole time like I should have, but when we started cake I started snapping some photos. Here are a few.

Blowing out the candles
Chocolate smile
He was so good about letting other kids help
Awesome excited gift face
All the kiddos hanging out and watching/playing
J and S - this was at the party. They don't see each other
every day anymore. Aren't they cute!?!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

7 weeks

It is hard to believe that in 7 weeks I will be hold our newest little addition. He doesn't yet have a name (not a big deal yet, I promise he will soon...well, at least by this time 7 weeks from now). He has some fat little cheeks and appears to have a double chin.

And 7 weeks seems so close, it seems like it is impossible how quickly this pregnancy has flown. To begin with it seemed hard to believe how slow the pregnancy was going, we knew almost right away. Now, I have 7 weeks left. That's 7 weeks to get things ready, 7 weeks to prep the boys some more, 7 weeks to plan out who will take H to school and pick him up (another already? moment), 7 weeks. I admit that physically I feel ready for this to be done. Now, though, I look around and just think, "what am I going to do?" Well, it will happen. Friends have already offered to help, and I know my mom will be here for the week after he's born. Plans partially made. Now to get organized (a bigger joke for those who know me well) and get it done. Here's to 7 more weeks as a family of 5 and 7 more weeks of savoring the last pregnancy I plan on having. Yay for kicking babies on the inside and out (only one of which is kicking me). And now to stare just a little bit longer at that sweet face before getting started.