Actual Correspondence

Actual email to Allen.
Subject: today

So far:
Lexi sh*t her pants
Addie got into vaseline and smeared it all over herself and her clean clothes - all while I'm getting Lexi changed and clean from her sh*t-capade so I had to change Addie - again - before we could leave
and then we waited 45 minutes just to get into the exam room
and when we got home
Lexi peed in front of the toilet
so she needed a bath -
it isn't even naptime yet.
If your day has been worse than mine, don't even bother coming home. I'll sell the kids to the first bidder and meet you Mexico.


WHAT is That?

We were cleaning the kitchen and I noticed Lexi was eating something. But, I hadn't given her anything to eat. So, we made her spit it out. Whatever it was, it certainly wasn't an approved food item.
Upon further investigation, we discovered this:


Chicken Enchilada Soup

A couple of years ago, I had a craving for tortilla soup. The kind we used to get in Mazatlan, Mexico. I haven't seen anything quite like it here in the good ol' US. So, I put this soup together to try and capture those flavors. While it won't ever be genuine Mexican tortilla soup, it's really, really good.

Ingredients (for 4 people):

  • 4 Frozen chicken breasts (really, you may use any kind of shredded chicken meat you prefer such as chicken thighs or a rotisserie chicken)
  • 2 small cans Old El Paso mild RED enchilada sauce (or more if you like it hot)
  • Chicken broth (this is where you can make the soup as spicy or mild as you like. More broth = less spice. I add enough broth to at least cover the chicken. Then, I take a sniff of the soup mix. If it smells really spicy, I add water to help dilute. Remember, too, you want enough liquid to actually have soup when you're done. So, you've got to add enough water and broth to have lots left after all of the boiling. Trust me, it's easy. Just eyeball it. After you make this one time, you'll know exactly what you like and it'll get easier every time.)
  • Corn starch
  • Shredded cheese (whatever you like - Jack, jack/cheddar mix, pepper jack or smoked mozzarella work well)
  • Tortilla chips
Optional garnish:
Sour Cream

Cooking instructions:
  • Put the frozen chicken in the pot, add enchilada sauce, broth and water. Bring to a boil. Boil until chicken is really, really tender (I throw it in there and let it simmer all afternoon sometimes. If you cook away too much broth, just add some more of whatever you want to bring the volume back up.)
  • Once the chicken is cooked through, use a slotted spoon to remove from pot, shred. Just so you know, it takes me about 10-15 minutes to finish the soup from this point so it really isn't as hard as it may sound.

  • You'll have broth in the pot. Bring it back up to a rolling boil. In a small container or measuring cup, mix a couple of tablespoons of corn starch with cold water to use to thicken. Make sure to whisk well with a fork so you don't get any lumps.
  • Slowly add thickening mixture to boiling broth. Add a little bit at a time to avoid making it too thick. Add some, let boil for a minute, see if it's thick enough, then add more if you need. You can add as much or as little as you like without altering the flavor. (I usually add about a 1/4 cups worth or less of this mixture so like, 3-4 tablespoons corn starch and enough water to thin.)
  • Once it's as thick as you like, add chicken back in. I don't usually add all of the chicken. It just depends on how meaty you want your soup. I save some chicken for burritos, salad, chimichangas, etc.

  • Put crushed tortilla chips (or you can use those strip things) and cheese in the bottom of bowl.
  • Pour soup on top. Add a little more cheese, squeeze a little lime juice on top, garnish with some finely chopped cilantro and sour cream and eat! (Um, I don't like sour cream and I didn't have lime or cilantro for the pics so sorry. Still tasted awesome.)



One thing you definitely come to learn as you age and live a little life is that some years are over-the-top awesome, some are hum-drum and others just plain suck. This year has been pretty hum-drum. And really, since we've had lots of just plain sucky times, we're taking the hum-drumness with smiles on our faces.

We've been married 7 years. I woke up to a note written on the grocery list paper that said, "Happy Lucky 7. ACR" and the R was falling off the page like Allen was running out the door as he remembered, "Oh shiz! I got married 7 years ago today and better pretend I remembered."

I got Allen a card. It gets kind of irritating to find the card that really says what I feel. I'm not like, "Oh, the love of my life, I cry at every thought of you because I'm so overwhelmed with the love I feel. I'm sure we'll live in wedded bliss forever and ever and die holding hands." I'm more like, "Well, we've been wearing this old ball and chain long enough that it's getting rusty. Think we'll get lucky and it'll fall apart soon? Love ya!" Because I'm so tactful to boot, I have to find a card that accurately represents our relationship or Allen will 1) wonder if I'm ready for the crazy ward or 2) know I'm a big, fat liar. So, this year's card said we have a "special kind of love" - you know - "special" like the kind of folks who wear helmets on a daily basis. Anyhow, I wrote in some words of my own to show Allen just how much I had pondered our relationship: "I'm really not sure what to say. I'm kind of shell shocked. I guess we just keep putting one foot in front of the other - things will get better or at least we'll finally get to die." I'm a hopeless romantic, huh?

I made homemade pizza. It was awful. Addie screamed while Allen pretended to love it. Lexi took one bite and said, "Mom? I don't like this pizza...". I took one bite and told her I agreed. I then said, "this sucks" and we all bust up laughing because we were already sick of crying. So, Allen took Addie outside to play and Lexi and I got McDonald's. We did enjoy a nice picnic of sorts outside. Later, Allen read a book and I laid on the couch. He went to bed and two hours later I followed suit. I did have to punch him in the neck a few times for snoring and grinding his teeth so he did get a little action. It's only fair on such a special night and all.

I mean really, what do I say? We've managed to fight our way through lots of unpleasant experiences. We've also been incredibly blessed. Sometimes, we're super close and on the same page. Other times, we're on different planets. Together, we've laughed so hard we've cried. We've made some great choices, some poor. When I've been weak, Allen's been strong. I've been strong when he is weak. Sometimes, we're both weak at the same time and then life is horrible and terrible and we wonder why in the hell we ever thought this was the better part. Then, we'll climb out of the trenches and figure we can make it another year. We try to live the gospel in our home, try to forgive, try to empathize, try to create wholesome family memories, and try to be good examples. Most of the time, tryin' ain't doin, but that's never stopped us before so why quit now?

Neither one of us felt let down or disappointed because this year just passed us by and we didn't commemorate with fanfare. I think we've matured enough to have some patience. We know there will come a time when we'll have dinners alone and go out when we want and travel and enjoy quiet solitude. We know we'll be able to take evening walks without screwing up the baby's schedule or have to change diapers or wake up at 4 a.m. to console a child's fears. Someday, it will be just us here and we'll have loads of opportunity to do whatever we want. Being ok with all of this tells me that Allen and I are right where we need to be to make it another year. And another. And another. And I bet if that old ball and chain did fall apart, we'd sit down and just weld the damn thing back on.


Me {talking to Allen}: We're kind of experiencing a spiritual deficit, huh?

Me {seconds later}: Do you think God can give us a stimulus package?

What do you think?



I wanted to title this post "On the Rocks" or "Rock On". Allen suggested "Stoned" and then I felt like a total idiot for even worrying so much about the dumb title so now it is officially title-less. On to the story now.

We ordered 10 tons of rock for the back yard. As you'll see, we put it between the lawn and the back yard fence. It's called Rose Quartz and isn't as dark as lava rock but isn't the over used orange rock either. Of course, the whole family was in on the job.

Lexi waiting to help Allen put down the landscaping barrier.

Addie and Lexi having some fun during the work day.

While we were waiting to get started, Lexi picked some veggies from the garden.

Allen always mentions how much nicer it is to work when you have someone with you.

Of course, Lexi climbed up the pile of rocks and slid down, hence the lovely stain on her bum.

Addie played cheerleader while Allen and Lexi worked.

So, Allen did all of this by hand. He had moved something like 40 wheelbarrow loads of rock and was only about 1/3 of the way done. At this point, things were looking a little bleak.

Enter Larry. Allen had commenced with the back breaking task of wheelbarrowing the rock when he heard someone hollering at him. He looked around and noticed one of our back neighbors observing Allen's work. He's from Chicago, wears a Bears cap, says "Da Bears" and makes one think of the legendary SNL skit and bratwurst. Anyhow, he yells, "Looks like that might be easier with a front loader." Allen says, "Probably would!" Larry shouts back, "We'll I've got one and I can't stand watching this any longer. I'll be over in an hour." Larry's name is now sacred in our home. Thank you Larry.

Lexi took a little snack break and ate some homegrown Fugi apples from one of our neighbors.

We have 8 fruit trees on order. They go in the little wooden squares.

Thanks to Larry, the work took, like, 2 hours instead of 2 months of Saturdays. We still have a small portion of the yard to finish off, but Larry's on vacation for 3 weeks and you can bet your behinds we aren't going to be doing it before then.


I can't live the lie any longer. I did not do that closet. Not one bit. Allen did it all. He cleaned out the old one, mudded, textured, put in new baseboard, bought all of the organizational stuff and put it all away.

So yeah, Allen pretty much rocks and I'm a lazy slob.


Small Steps

Lexi started preschool today! She's been so excited to go and meet Mrs. Kinghorn and her classmates.

Lexi waited a long time to wear her special "pap pap".

While waiting for everyone to arrive, Lexi worked on a puzzle. Once everyone has arrived, they fill out the calendar and sing the name song.

Story time.

Reviewing the story and putting the events in order.

Drawing a picture to put on the friends wall. At the end of the year, they do this same exercise to see how their skills have improved.

Duck, duck, goose. Hmmm, who's missing?

Oh, here she is. My social butterfly.

The fun was just too tempting and after a few minutes she joined the gang for a game of freeze tag.

The 3 year old Small Steps Preschool class of 2009.

And with their silly faces!

Mrs. Kinghorn is a great teacher and has a wonderful way with kids (she has 6 of her own!). I was exhausted just observing and helping the little bit I did today. Lexi had a great first day and did really well overall. Many of her friends are in her class. She is looking forward to going back again on Thursday. We hope this is just the start of bright future for Lexi!

About Me

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What started as a way to communicate with far away friends and family has become a place for this horse trainer/HR manager turned stay at home mom of 3 girls to hold on to a bit of her own identity. It's my take on the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the thoughts and feelings, the mistakes and triumphs of this family as we bumble our way to eternity.