Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Multitude of Things

It's pretty late Wednesday night and I'm just now typing out this post.  A little late for me, but whatcha gonna do?  Since my daily word limit is well, limited from prior use today, you're in for a real treat.  Sarcasm, people.  Lots of sarcasm. But, do not despair I still have a few things I want to share with you.  It just so happens none of them are related. 

I've read some really good books lately that think you should read too...

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Ape House by Sara Gruen

If you are a reader and you don't read Water for Elephants BEFORE seeing it in the theatre, I will be annoyed with you.  Moral to the story:  Lie to me.  Tell me you read it, even if you didn't.  The book is worth it.  Very interesting documentation of circus life in the depression.  Even if it was fiction.

The spaghetti and spinach stuffed meatballs were a big hit in my house. (Changing topics here...are you still with me?)  Basically I took 1 lb of turkey meat, mixed it with Italian bread crumbs, mozzarella shredded cheese, chopped/cooked spinach and baked them for 30 minutes.  Great flavor and added an extra serving of veggies for the picky eater at our house who shall remain nameless (cough, cough, Little Miss, cough, cough).

Moving on to more important news.  I am pregnant.  Not really.  Grandma and Grandpa, I got you on that one didn't I?  That was a pretty mean joke.  I am not pregnant.  I am completely enjoying this season of life with my two kids who sleep through the night.  I have also enjoyed all the new life around us.  Especially the new life that we got to experience at Atwoods last weekend.  We took the kids there to show them all the new baby chicks and geese.  Steven wore his cowboy boots so he could 'fit the scene' a little better.  You think I'm kidding, but I'm not.  I only joke about pregnancies ;)  Anyway, the kids really took to trying out all the store had to offer.  See what I mean...
Just chillin' on the patio furniture for sale.  They couldn't look anymore out of place.  However, I had to show it because Little Miss looks too funny with that facial expression.  A little Children of the Corn-ish if you ask me.  Then there's Little Man...I don't even know what to say about that face.  Here's to some super photogenic children.  Again, heavy on the sarcasm.

And that's it folks.  Glad you stopped by today.  Don't forget to leave some comment Alice does...and Ashley does...and Jesse does...and my mom does...and...that's it.  Maybe that's all who reads this thing anyway.  If by some small chance there are other readers, say 'hi' once in awhile.  Okay Romulus?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Crafty Mind

You know that Beastie Boys song She's Crafty?  Well, I'm not that girl in the song, but the title could fit me.  Just the title. Not the lyrics.  Let's get that straight.  Here's how the title fits me...

When I want something, the 'thing' doesn't leave my mind until I get it.  In some cases I have to be crafty.  Thank the good LORD I married a man who indulges me.  I like to think that he thinks it's cute, but after 14 years together I'm certain my cuteness is wearing off.  I'll give you a case in point.  I'll call this little scenario, I Want Some Water.

I Want Some Water
(Setting:  Our bedroom some random night at 10:00pm)

Steven was sharing some things about his work day.  I was already in bed.  I was tired, but I was also thirsty.  Seeing that the story wasn't going to end anytime soon, I interrupted...

ME: "I really am listening, but could you get me some water.  I'm really, really thirsty."

STEVEN: "What?  I'm right in the middle of my story."

ME:  "Okay.  It's just I'm really, really, really thirsty.  You wouldn't want me to die of dehydration, would you?"

STEVEN:  "That's not going to happen.  Can I finish?"

ME:  "Yessss, but I might not survive."

Ignoring my life or death situation, he continues on...

STEVEN: "...and that's what I liked the most about the day.  I made a big change in the way he thinks."

ME: "You know what I really like?"

STEVEN: "What? That I finally got my point across to this guy?"

ME: "Nope.  Water.  I really like water.  Can you get me some?"

STEVEN:  "Oh my gosh.  Are your legs broken?"

ME:  "I think so.  Oh, can you add in a few ice cubes?  You know I like my water cold."

Yep.  Crafty.  That's me.  AND, that's all I have for you today folks.  Let this be a lesson to you.  I often write about things that will not impact your life whatsoever, and yet you keep coming back.  I think I am in fact sucking out your brain cells through this very computer screen right now.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Discipline. It's Not For the Weak.

Today I'm going to share my disciplining secrets.  Secrets that will alter your life.  Secrets that will solve all of your child's behavior issues.  If you're thinking, "This is a big load of poo-poo,"  then you're right.  There is never one answer.  However, I promised a few readers that I would share what we do to get our kids' behavior back on track.  I want to be careful to say that Steven and I are NOT parenting experts.  We make mistakes d-a-i-l-y.  Just ask our kids.  Even at four and two, they will give you a lengthy run-down.

My secrets in correcting behavior are not necessarily secrets.  Just little things I've learned over the years.  I hope these help you out, and if anything, encourage you to stick with what you know is right.  Even when it's hard.  Even when you want to quit because, temporarily, it would be easier.  Even when it seems your child has suddenly become possessed from the consequences you just handed out.  What's that you say?  My children are the only ones who have those tendancies?  Maybe these tips don't work then...

Lesson #1:

Say What You Mean, and Mean What You Say
When disciplining, be really careful to only dish out consequences you will keep.  It's so easy to get caught up in the moment.  I've caught myself before saying, "If you don't put your toys away, then I'm going to throw them away"  Yeah, moronic statement!  I would never throw away toys.  So that wasn't effective whatsoever. 

Now, I ask the kids one time to clean up their toys.  If they don't obey the first time, I tell them I'm going to start cleaning up.  That gets them moving because they know if I clean up their mess, then they won't be playing with the toys I clean up for a long while.  They get put up in the top of my closet.  It took one time for the kids to learn that lesson.  Now they know I mean business at clean up time.  More importantly, we don't have power struggles when it's time to put toys away. 

Lesson #2: Poor Behavior Does Not Go Unnoticed

I'm not talking about getting onto your child for every. single. mistake. they make.  Kids (and adults) make mistakes.  It's natural.  However, the people directly related in raising your child should have set guidelines on what is acceptable behavior for your child and what is not.

For example, one thing we had to battle was how our children behave in public.  At home, our kids are loud, and they run, and they jump, and they play.  They do this because it's their home and they're comfortable here.  We want them to be that way.  However, when we're in public we want them to be respectful of others who are around them.  Maybe the couple sitting next to us at a restaurant doesn't want to hear my child singing Jingle Bells in March, or maybe they don't want a child peeking over the booth to stare at their food. 

In cases like these, we share with our kids what's appropriate 'public' behavior and what's not. If they choose to display unacceptable behavior we dish out the consequences, then follow Lesson #1.  This can be hard because you don't necessarily want the 'stares' of other patrons, but remember the goal...acceptable behavior.  Sometimes your kids will cry in public when they make poor choices.  Don't worry about the stares you'll receive when you escort your child to a more private location (like the super sanitary restroom ;).

Lesson #3:

Share Your Expectations Before You Arrive At a Location
This one I learned teaching.  Before my class left for assemblies or field trips, I was very specific on what I expected of them and what would happen if they didn't meet my expectations.  That way there were no surprises when they made an error in judgement.  There was no room for argument.  They knew ahead of time what I expected and what would happen.  The End.

Letting your kids know what you expect, can be super rewarding.  When my class would leave field trip locations, people would compliment how well they had done.  It feels good when you're recognized.  I always shared those positive comments with my class. 

The same thing goes for my kids.  Before we leave the house, I let them know what I expect and I remind them ONE time before we get out of the car.  I do this for play dates, running errands, church, where ever.  This doesn't mean my kids don't slip up.  They do (and often).  And when they do, I refer to Lesson #1.  Give out a consequence and stick with it.

There you have it. My secrets!  Just remember, correcting behavior is not a sprint.  It's an ultra marathon.  You know, one of those races that last FOR-EV-ER.  Thankfully, overtime the correction should become less and less as your child rises to your expectations.  And, if you are setting your expectations high then you can expect great things from your child.  Hope this helps you out.

If you happen to see me in public and my children are not behaving, feel free to remind me of my own lessons.  I sometimes forget.

If you are looking for more specific consequences we gave Little Man to get him back on track, feel free to email me at WispClips(at)Hotmail(dot)Com, and I'll share some effective things we did to get him back on track.  For privacy reasons, I didn't want to air his dirty laundry on the blog.  After all, he's my precious little boy.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Menu Monday and a Time Machine

If I had a time machine I'd jump in it and take it back to the day that PW announced on her facebook page that she was doing a book signing in her hometown.  Then I'd gussy myself up and drive to Pawhuska and stand all googly-eyed at the only celebrity person I'd ever want to meet.  PW's on my bucket list.  Meaning, if I don't meet her before I die...well, let's not talk about that now.  Not meeting PW before I die would be devastating. 

Since I can't think about the opportunity lost anymore, I'll go ahead and type out the menu for the week.  Then I will go cry myself into a deep slumber...after Steven gets home from work.  I've got 3 kids counting on me today.  A mom's work is never done.  Here ya' go...

Monday-Spaghetti & Meatballs (which will be stuffed with cooked spinach for Little Miss.  She attacks meatballs, so why not stuff them with veggies?), Spring Mix Salad with Olive Garden Style Salad Dressing, and French Bread with Roasted Garlic Dipping Sauce

Tuesday-Sausage Spinach Pockets & Fruit Salad

Wednesday-Fried Drumsticks, Corn Casserole, Mashed Potatoes (you know, a real low-cal meal)

Thursday-BBQ Quesadillas (I've saved enough cheese for it this week), with Corn Saute

Friday-DATE NIGHT!!!

Saturday-Mexican Lasagna with Black Bean Corn Salsa

Sunday-Spinach Stuffing Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Sweet Potato Slices, and Strawberry Spinach Salad

Tomorrow I'm going to give an update on Little Man's behavior.  He had a rough week, but he's back on track now.  Thank the good Lord!  We're super proud of the progress and choices he's making now.  Heck, I'll even share my secrets!

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Attitude About the Dang Cheese

On Tuesday I made extra grilled chicken breasts for PW's (in case you don't know, she's going to be my BFF) Grilled Pineapple and Chicken Quesadillas. I was getting ready to 'brown' the tortillas when I realized I didn't have any shredded cheddar cheese.  Or monterey.  Or any kind of shredded cheese to pair with the flavors. Just mozzarella.  I was so frustrated with myself.   I misplanned my menu, and misplanned the usage of ingredients for the week.

Since I wasn't about to load up 3 kids and haul them off to the nearest supermarket to pay full price for shredded cheese, I had to get creative. What did I already have to salvage this meal without taking away from other meals already planned this week?  I had a loaf of french bread, sliced cheddar cheese, onions, brown sugar, olive oil, and grilled chicken breasts.  All that could be combined to make sandwiches.  So that's what we had.

When I was throwing this together I had to stop and do an attitude check.  I was mad that my menu was thrown off from my mistake.  An inconvenience.  However, the truth was I had a semi-stocked pantry, a semi-full fridge, and a means to cook my food.  I needed to take a moment to be thankful for what I had instead of focusing on what I didn't. So what we weren't having what I'd planned on. The point was my family was going to eat.  Not only eat, but eat until we were full.  We are blessed, and I was taking that for granted.  I like having little reminders like this.  Keeps me focused on what's really important, and what's really important is not my schedule nor my menu.

Once I got my attitude in check I was putting love into what I was making.  That's what cooking is about for me.  Love.  A way to serve my family.  Making meals to not only meet their dietary needs, but to enjoy as well.  All that love turned into a sandwich we will definitely have again.  I'm going to call it the Dang Cheese Sandwich.  Here's the recipe...

Dang Cheese Sandwich
 (marinade for grilled chicken)
1 roasted red pepper, sliced (you can buy the jar kind and use 4-5 slices)
1 tsp capers
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp  mayo
2-3 chicken breasts, raw

  • In a food processor mix all ingredients together.
  • Poor over raw chicken.
  • Refrigerate overnight and grill until chicken juices run clear.
  • After chicken cools, refrigerate until ready to use.
(the actual sandwich recipe)

2-3 grilled chicken breasts
8 slices of french bread
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp brown sugar
4 slices of cheddar cheese
dijon mustard
  • Heat olive oil on low heat, and toss in onions.  When onions begin to soften, add in brown sugar.  Be sure to stir because the brown sugar will carmelize. 
  • Once onions are covered and dark, remove from pan and let stand.
  • Slice chicken breast thinly.  This is easiest to do when the chicken is straight out of the fridge.
  • Spread your desired amount of dijon mustard on each piece of french bread.
  • Place sliced chicken on top of one slice of bread.
  • Add carmelized onions on top, then a slice of cheddar cheese.
  • Place another slice of french bread on top.
  • Do this until you have four sandwiches.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 5-7 minutes until cheese is melted.  Then turn on the broiler for 1-2 minutes until the french bread 'browns'.
It was so good, I made another one for lunch.  This is the pic of the Dang Cheese Sandwich at lunch.  Doesn't look near as appetizing, but it was yumm-o.

Happy Cooking!  Happy Attitude!  Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Art. Not Just For Paper.

Yesterday was library day.  I just love the librarian who does story time for us.  If I were a librarian, I think I would be just like her.  Weird and quirky.  Let's get real.  I'm already like her.  Weird and quirky.  No wonder I get along with kids better than adults.

The theme yesterday was butterflies.  The kids learned all about the metamorphosis of the caterpillar to the butterfly, sang songs about it, and then got to take home a paper butterfly to color.  LIttle Man. Little Miss, and Chunky Monkey were so excited to get home and start coloring, which made me super excited because I had to get lunch ready.  Busy kids, means happy mama!

So there I am standing at the counter preparing lunch, and so happy the kids are sitting so nicely the table working their little fingers to the bone.  Then Little Miss pipes up, "Chunky Monkey color hands."


As soon as I get over there I can clearly see Chunky Monkey has in fact colored on his hands, and then proceeded to color a nice design on his face.  I think he was going for the clown school look.  Once I got him situated and back to coloring on paper, I addressed the other kids to only coloring is for paper.

Too late.  What Little Miss failed to tell me was she had already colored on her face. Maybe she thought if she tattled on Chunky Monkey, I wouldn't notice all that she had going on on that face of hers.  She's such a mess.  An adorable, ornery, precious mess.

Of course, I have pictures to show.  One day I'll look back at these and crack up.  One day far, far away because we had church last night.  Having church means Little Miss got to sport the marker that I could not get off. She was quite the 'hit' in her class last night.  The only thing that could have made herself look better was to allow her to dress herself.

{The ever so adorable Chunky Monkey's body art}

{Little Miss' artwork on paper and on body}

{My precious little boy, Little Man, who only colored his butterfly}

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What a Man!

Today I want to talk about my man.  Mr. Steven Torres. 

The best partner a gal could have.  I just don't think he gets enough love on here.  Especially on days like today.  Days where I call him at work and ask him to assist me in disciplining Little Man.  He didn't hesistate at all.  He hopped in his truck and drove home instead of driving to the gym.  His usual lunch hour stop.  He came home because he has always put us first, and I love that about him.  He came home because he also knew Little Man needed some reinforcement outside of what I was giving out.

For the past week, Little Man has been struggling with obeying at our word.  Meaning if we give him an instruction, we expect him to follow it immediately.  Without hesitation.  Without whining. Without backtalk.  It's a hard concept to get through a stubborn little boy, but we're stubborn too.  Stubborn and determined.  We know the older he gets the harder it will be to instill obedience in him.  It's like learning a foreign language.  You're set for life if you learn it young.  Wait until you're in high school, and you're lucky if you remember, "Parlez vous Francais?"  Well, maybe I'm just speaking for myself here (no pun intended)...

Anyway, when I called Steven at work to let him know how Little Man was choosing to disobey multiple directions, he came right home.  I'm so thankful that he has a flexible employer that focuses on family.  I'm so thankful that I have a husband who sees raising our kids as a priority.  I'm so thankful that I'm not going at this alone.  Child rearing is tough stuff.  Not for the weary, that's for sure.

After 1 hour and 15 minutes of disciplining, explaining, and laying out the consequences, we *think* Little Man is starting to 'get it'.  At least I hope he gets it, because I need a nap after all that! Ex-haust-ing, I tell ya'.

So, Big Man (aka Steven), if you're reading this which you probably aren't because you don't read this blog, but I'm taking a chance that you might for one special occassion, THANK YOU.  You make my job as a mom so much easier.  I love you and the support you give to our family.  Now get back to work!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fun and Free

If you've read this blog for any length of time you know I love freebies.  With the weather warming up in our good 'ol state of Oklahoma I've been on the lookout for some different, fun, and inexpensive activities for Little Man, Little Miss, and Chunkey Monkey. 

When I was teaching I heard of different schools going on field trips to fire stations in our city.  I thought, "Why not us?"  So I got in contact with one of my high school friends, Branson.  Steven used to wrestle with Branson in high school, but I can call Branson MY friend because I met him BEFORE I started dating Steven.  We had chemistry together.  I just thought I'd throw that out there.  I know people too!

Anyway, I emailed Branson about doing a visit at his station and he said yes.  He did such a great job telling about his job duties and showing the kids around the station, ambulance, and fire engine.  He even let the kids try on his bunker gear.  They were so stinkin' adorable!!!
What are some favorite freebies you take your kids to do?  I'm all ears!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Menu Monday & A March Sunburn

My skin is on FiRe!  How is it possible to get a sunburn in Oklahoma in March?  Well, you go outside at 10am, don't come in until 7pm, and forget to put sunscreen on yourself.  Regardless of my lobster arms and calves, or my new rockin' farmer's tan burn, it's SPRING.  Hip, hip, hooray!

You would think with Spring's latest arrival that I would have a very spring like menu.  I don't.  Not this week.  I do have lots of fresh fruits for lunch and snack smoothies, but nothing really for dinner.  Hmmm...something to work on for next week.  Here's the menu...

Monday-PW's Sour Cream Noodle Bake, Green Bean Casserole, Fruit Salad
Tuesday-Grilled Chicken, Pepperoni Pasta Salad, Spring Mix Salad
Wednesday-PW's BBQ Quesadillas with Restaurant Style Salsa (save time & make extra chicken from Tuesday's meal)
Thursday-Hamburgers and Homemade Fries
Friday-Baked Chicken, Perfect Potatoes Au Gratin, Sweet Style Green Beans
Saturday-Broiled Salmon, Broccoli and Cheese Casserole, and Cheesy Biscuits
Sunday-Dinner at my Mama's...I think...Mom???

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Impromptu Staycation

Steven got off work a little early yesterday and we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather.  The kids haven't been on a hike since Little Miss was a baby bouncing around in the Bjorn while this recovering postpartum mommy breathed heavily through the terrain.  Since I'm in better shape this go round, we opted for a family hike.  Once we found the perfect location, we hopped out and went on an adventure.
After a good while we came across a creek bed that was down an embankment.  Since the deer tracks led straight to the running stream, we followed.  Little Man was convinced the deer were down there quenching their thirst at that very moment.  Of course they weren't, but after the kids got into the water the thought of deer went right down the stream with the pebbles and dead leaves.  They enjoyed every moment of our impromptu staycation.
Since we went around dinner time, we were starving.  After a little coercing, the kids decided to follow us back up to the embankment.  Thank goodness this little hiking excursion was behind my mom's house.  Truth be told we were already having dinner there that night.  Soooo, a big thanks to my mom and Micheal for choosing such a rockin' location for their house, and for taking us on such a cool hike.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wanted. Single Females.

Today, Torres Tidbits is turning into  In my feeble attempt to find a cute little lady for a great guy.  I'm fairly certain he is going to kill me after reading this...

Ladies, are you looking for love?  Do you long for a man in uniform?  Someone who can protect you from harm?  Well do I have the man for you, and NO it is not my husband.  I wrangled that cowboy long ago, so you'll have to make do with this young hunk of a man...Romulus Gregory.

Romulus is a single, white male in his mid-late twenties living in the Tulsa Metro area.  He's 5'2 and 465lbs.  Gotcha!  He's (totally guessing here) 6'1 and has a strong stature.  He's currently working for the most awesome church in the USA, Church on the Move (no bias here), as part of the security team.  In his free time he is studying Law Enforcement, which he is only a few weeks away from graduating the academy.  Romulus also serves the Bixby PD as a reserve officer.  Outside of his work ethic, Romulus enjoys riding his Harley, working out, and reading romance novels.  At least I think he likes to read romance novels. Okay, he doesn't read romance novels.

Since Romulus refuses to send me pictures I'm posting his celebrity look a like...Fabio...
Kidding.  He looks more like this...
At least that's who he chose, so you know he has a good sense of humor.  All kidding aside.  I've known Romulus for about 5 years.  If you are interested or know someone who could benefit from knowing a guy like Romulus shoot me an email at wispclips(at)hotmail(dot)com.  I'm totally serious here.  I like for people to owe me, and if I find Romulus love then he will owe me B.I.G. T.I.M.E.

This ad paid for by Romulus Gregory.
Really it's not, I've just always wanted to say that.

P.S. G-Dawg, also known as Ginger, if you have any pics of Romulus PLEASE email them to me. 

Romulus, could you please not carry your gun to church on Wednesday night because I have a feeling you'll be inclined to use it after reading this ;)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mexican Lasagna

A couple weeks back I went searching through my recipe binder for some tasty new recipes.  I ran across one that caught my eye.  When I ran it by our dinner guests, it didn't go over as well, and I'll tell you why.  It's called Mexican Lasagna.  I'm pretty sure I'm quoting this right when our guest said, "That doesn't sound like it should ever go together." 

At first I was confused.  I saw the ingredient list and it looked delicious.  Then I started thinking about what would make it sound gross, and BAM!  I got it.  Mexican food with lasagna noodles.  Real lasagna noodles.  Ewwww-weeee!  It doesn't sound very appetizing. So before you cross this one off your list, run through the ingredients list because it was tasty.

Mexican Lasagna
(adapted from a Simple & Delicious magazine)

1 lb ground beef
1 cup water
1 packet of taco seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1-1/2 cups sour cream
1-1/2 tsp chili powder
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp cornmeal
12 corn tortillas
1/2 batch of PW's salsa*
1 small onion, diced
  • In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.
  • Stir in water, taco seasoning, and garlic powder.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine sour cream and chili powder. 
  • In the bottom of a greased 9x13 dish, sprinkle cornmeal.
  • Layer 6 corn tortillas (they will overlap).
  • Spread tortillas evenly with the sour cream mixture.
  • Pour and spread 1/2 of salsa (I used a spatula to gently spread the salsa evenly).
  • Layer 1/2 of each ingredient...taco meat, chopped onion, and shredded cheese
  • Repeat layers one more time.
  • Bake uncovered @ 375 degrees for 35 minutes.
*The original recipe called for 1-8oz jar of salsa.  However, my future BFF (aka The Pioneer Woman), has spoiled my taste buds for jar salsa.  I'll eat it, but I'd rather it be made fresh.  Picky, picky.

Happy Cooking!!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Menu Monday and a Recovery

We just got back in town yesterday.  Yesterday.  Where is my getaway from my getaway?  Right now I am in recovery mode, and my menu reflects as such.  Thank goodness for great friends, mama's, and papa's because they sure know how to help you recover.

Here's the Recovery Menu...

Monday-BBQ Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, Corn
Tuesday-Dinner @ the Kueny's
Wednesday-Poppy Seed Chicken (a recipe from the Tulsa World newspaper), Strawberry Spinach Salad
Thursday- Dinner @ my Mama's
Friday-Jack Stack BBQ'd Chicken Quarters, Herb Salad, Roasted Veggies
Saturday-Dinner @ my father-in-law's
Sunday-Cuban Sandwich with Homemade Plantain Chips

If you have not a clue what plantains are just look for super duper green looking bananas.  They are NOT bananas, but they are in the same family.  You will thank me.  Not so much healthy, but o' so delicious!

Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm a Celebrity!!!

I'm not a person who gets recognized often.  In fact, recognition makes me uncomfortable.  Sure it feels great on the inside, but on the outside I turn beet red and start sweating profusely (another reason why The Pioneer Woman should be my bff).  Since a red face and a pitted out tee don't mix well in the company of others, I prefer to avoid recognition.  Seriously, in a cool 2 seconds I can go from a dry shirt to this...

However, I am now a celebrity.  A "Z" list celebrity, but a celebrity nonetheless.  A couple of days ago I decided to enter Money Saving Queen's "What Have Coupons Done for You' contest.  I wrote my quick little ditty and then sent it in.  Within minutes I got a reply about needing pictures to go along with my story so it could be posted on the website. 

{Insert loud shrieking here}

The only other time I've been recognized in the adult world is when I somehow fooled the people I worked with into thinking I was a good enough teacher to receive an award called Teacher of the Year (TOY).  After you're nominated for your school site, you're automatically entered into the district competition.  Out of all the school sites in my district, they choose a Top 10 selection of teachers.  I wrote my portfolio, turned it in, and laughed.  There was no way a teacher of only 4 years was going to be chosen for the Top 10.  I guess my witty charm through writing cast some sort of spell on the portfolio readers, because I found myself at a banquet receiving gifts and recognition.  I even had a video spotlight on my teaching (all the Top 10 had to do this).  As my video played, I was trying so hard to control the sweat in my pits because watching yourself teach in front of hundreds of people is Em. Bar. Ras. Sing.  Like totally embarrassing. 

Thank the good Lord above the Selection Committee recognized my non-skills and chose a wonderful, much more seasoned teacher than me.  Because if my name had been called, I would have had to make a speech, and I did not prepare a speech at all.  After all, I was dreaming all this up.  Right?

Anyway, back to Money Saving Queen.  I went to check her coupon posts for the day and ended up seeing this  (By the way, there is a spelling mistake.  Yes, I sent in my story with a spelling mistake.  FRUSTRATING!!!).  Upon seeing my written words and pictures I immediately felt my face flush and Niagara Falls began flowing in my armpits, and then I one can SEE me.  No one knows I even wrote this.  AWESOME. 

Ah snap!  I just gave myself away.  Off to wipe away my sweaty pits.

Happy Friday!!!

p.s.  I leave today for snow tubing.  I'm sure there'll be lots of titillating tidbits for you after that experience.  After all, we're going with Steven's twin brother (Steven and Rene always have interesting experiences together) and my sister-in-law.  A big thanks to my mom for coming over to stay with the kids and Jac-kay for taking Blueberry the fish!!

p.p.s Next week will feature a single white male ad.  You'll want to be here for that.  It's my feeble attempt at finding Romulus Gregory a forever love (outside of his Harley, that is).  Romulus, if you're reading this you'd better email me a pic of yourself.  You never know what I'll post if you don't ;)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Anniversary & Name Reveal

It's been a week since I've had this lovely, lovely kitchen appliance...

She is a beaut.  A real beaut.  She also makes my life so much simpler.  I've told her this everyday. It's important to reiterate your feelings often when beginning a new relationship.  I want her to feel loved and valued, because it's the way she makes me feel.  I also felt it very necessary to name her.  She's not like the other KitchenAid Mixers.  She's my KitchenAid Mixer.  And, MY KitchenAid Mixer gets a name. 

Before I reveal her name to you, I should make it known that I gave her zip, zero, zilch time getting acclimated to her surroundings, and she performed beautifully with the multitude of tasks I threw her way.  Therefore, I decided she needed a strong name.  A silly frilly name like Rosie Red just won't do for my lady.  She's bold.  After throwing a few names around, we finally agreed on one.  Are you ready?  My KitchenAid Mixer is named...(drum roll please)...

Big Bertha

Big Bertha has been properly welcomed as the 5th member of our family, and we have enjoyed the many fruits of her labors.  Big Bertha, I love you.  You have slithered your way into my heart (and stomach) in ways others cannot.  Thank you, Big Bertha. Thank you.

In celebration of Big Bertha's one week anniversary, I would like to share with you what she has whipped up in her short life...
As you can see Big Bertha has earned her name.  Now I'm curious to see if I'm the only weirdo that names my kitchen appliances?  Anyone?  Anyone? Hello...?  Is anyone out there?  Oh well, I think I lost my one reader.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Is Homeschooling for Amanda Torres?

In August, Little Man will begin his first real days of school. Quite frequently I get emails or questions about whether or not we are going to homeschool Little Man.  I'm not sure if I should take the suggestions of homeschooling as a compliment or an insult.  I'd like to think they ask because they think I can (insert blushing here), but I think they are more so asking to see my level of craziness. 

Regardless of the meaning behind the question, my answer is no.  I don't plan on homeschooling Little Man.  Here are my reasons for choosing to not homeschool...
  • Little Man would benefit from a learning environment outside of home.  
  • I don't fully trust myself to devote the amount of time needed to educate him and give the level of care needed to Little Miss and Chunky Monkey.
  • Even though I was a teacher, I taught fourth grade.  I am not going to pretend that I am a professional early childhood teacher.  I am a professional upper elementary teacher. 
  • Steven and I feel strongly that Little Man learn to take correction from adults other than ourselves.
All of these reasons why I will not homeschool Little Man for his Pre-K year are important but the most important one is the devotion of time.  Even though homeschooling CAN be more efficient than a classroom setting (since the teacher/child ratio is smaller), it doesn't mean it IS always efficient. 

Planning one day of learning for Little Man would take at the very least one hour of planning on my part, and that is taking into consideration my previous knowledge of how to plan a school day.  That mininum hour does not include gathering materials.  So let's add another hour (another minimal estimation) to gathering and prepping those materials.  For every one day of Little Man's schooling, I have at least two hours of work in order to be prepared to teach him.  That equals out to at least 10 uninterrupted hours a week of prep time.  I have not one clue as to how I would find 10 uninterrupted hours per week, AND if I did have that time I would definitely fill it will bubble baths and leisurely reading.

On the side of homeschooling, I have many friends who choose to homeschool.  Some of those friends do an excellent job, and some of them just do the best they can.  I think I would fall into the 'I Did the Best I Can'  category, and I don't want that to happen to Little Man. I don't ever want to look at him and say, "Well, I tried my best."  So for his personality, a classroom setting is a good fit for him. 

Choosing a classroom setting does not mean I have to give up my right to teach him at home.  I plan on knowing exactly what's going on in his classroom, and what he's learning each day.  I will not quit doing learning and extension activities at home because I enjoy doing those things with my children.  However, I will not be his full-time teacher.  It's just not a good fit for him.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Second Child Syndrome

When your first child is born you take pictures of everything they do.  At least we did.  We have album after album of Little Man.  Little Man laying on his baby blanket.  Little Man teething.  Little Man trying to roll over.  Little Man sitting up.  Little Man making poopies.  Yep, even poopies.

Then you have the second child and it snaps you into reality.  We tried to take pictures of Little Miss like we did for Little Man, but life was just so busy.  She has one album for every two of Little Man's.  So when the great Melinda Hunley contacted us about doing a photo shoot with Little Miss, we jumped right on it!

Melinda did our fall family pics, and we were so pleased with the result.  I knew we would love the pics of Little Miss, but to be honest we were overly impressed. See what I mean...
She did such a great job capturing Little Miss' personality.  Melinda is easy to work with and very competitive with prices.  Check her out today and be sure to tell her you heard about her on Torres Tidbits!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Menu Monday and a Present!

This week will incorporate lots of baking.  It will involve lots of baking because I have the best family in the world.  I have the best family in the world because they are mine.  They are mine AND they all pulled together to purchase me one of these...
So far I've used her three times and I'm amazed at her power and efficiency.  I haven't given her a name yet.  She's so dear to my heart that I really have to think of the perfect one.  Suggestions welcome.

Anyhoo, here's the menu.  I'm off to caress my newest kitchen family addition, and whisper sweet nothings in my old hand mixers ear.  She's a little feeling a little inadequate now that the KitchenAid is here.

Monday-Blackened Chicken, Homemade Crescents using this dough, Trees and Raisins
Tuesday-BBQ Meatballs, Roasted Potatoes, Corn
Wednesday-Homemade Veggie Pizza using this dough, Mixed Herb Salad, Cheesy Bread
Thursday-Italian Grilled Chicken with Grilled Peppers and Onions, Parker Rolls using remaining dough from Monday
Friday-On the R-O-A-D and probably chugging down fast food...pray for my stomach
Saturday-Aurther Bryant's BBQ (Can you guess where I'm at???)
Sunday-Whatever gets thrown together upon my return

Happy Cooking!!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Get 'Em Moving with Shapes

We took a week off 'school' work to enjoy the nice Spring like weather.  Since the kids are 4 and 2, I don't really consider it school, but we do focus on one learning skill a day.  With the short break, I knew we would need to review shapes with Chunky Monkey and Little Miss.  Flash cards are a little inappropriate for them, so I just showed them the cards, along with Little Man, and then I taped them around the living room...

Once you've shown the kids the shape and the name, you'll want to tape them around the room. At first you'll move to each card and point out the shape, and then have them say it.  Then the game begins.  Simply call out the name of a shape, and they have to run and stand by it.  Most kids are kinetic learners (learn best while doing), so this is perfect.  Get them up.  Get them moving.  Get them learning.  It also helps build listening skills. 

Happy Friday!!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Are You Kidding Me???

The Tortoise or the Hare is a modern twist on a classic fable. On our last trip to the library I thought this would pair well with the well known Tortoise and the Hare fable.  In my mind it would allow for some great comparisons, but that's not what happened.

First we read the real story.  Great.  There's a reason it's been around so long.  It teaches a lesson.  You don't always have to be the best to win.  Put your best effort forth, and don't get too comfortable with your skills.  This kind of lesson sits well with my family.

Later that evening Little Man wanted to read the newer version by Toni Morrison, but he wanted his daddy to read it to him.  So Steven gets going and we're noticing the differences.  In fact, there's a little trash talking to media sources so we're thinking this is going to be a good competition.  Of course we're rooting for the underdog.  We're those kind of people.

Then we get to the end. 

It was the most poopy ending to a book I have ever read.  There was a clear winner, but Toni Morrison thought it to be fit to toss in a phrase to this effect...It doesn't matter who wins, it's about making friends.

Say what???

Steven got to that part and throws the book out Little Man's bedroom door.  He was fuming mad that he just spent 15 minutes reading a book that ended up with such a pansy statement.  Now sportsmanship is crucial in sports, but that doesn't mean you have to befriend your opponent.  In all my years of competitive gymnastics and cheerleading did I seek friendships from my opponents.  I congratulated them whether I won or lost, but I didn't invite them over for tea and crumpets.  Give. Me. A. Break.

Back to the night of the infamous bedtime story, Steven was so upset about the message the book was sending he goes into this lengthy speech that consisted of these words...

...Friends?...that's a loser's mentality...You're a Torres...quitting is not an option...put your best effort...yada yada yada...we're not ever reading that book again...

I'm sure I missing a big chunk of the speech, but I started dozing after the first 5 minutes.  However, Little Man just laid there sucking his thumb listening to every word rolling off his daddy's tongue.  All I know is he got a lot more than a bedtime story that night, and Steven is now censuring our story selections.  For all I know he's reporting the book inappropriate to the Tulsa County Library system.  What?  You think I'm kidding?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Give Up To Gain?

I mentioned last week that becoming a Christian was the single best decision I have made for my life.  Now, don't worry.  I'm not going to get all preachy, preachy on you.  I'm not like that.  But, I will tell you what's happened to me over the years once I decided to live how God has asked me to live.

In 1990ish, I became a Christian. Isn't that terrible that I don't even know the exact date?  I knew it was the right decision even though I was 10 years old.  Then those teenage years happened.  And, if you knew me during my teenage years, you're probably thinking, "You were a Christian?"  Technically, yes.  Living like a Christian, no.  Thank goodness for God's grace, because I would have been in real trouble.

The problem during my teenage years was being afraid of losing what I had.  Now here's the sad part.  This is what I had...parties to go to, and boyfriends who didn't have my best interest in mind.  That's it, but I was hanging onto it for dear life.  I didn't want to be the wacked out Christian girl at school, and I sure as heck didn't want to lose my popularity.

Here's the good thing.  God doesn't ask us to be the wacked out Christian.  We aren't to behave like condemers walking around on our high horses shouting, "Thou shall not sin!".  This concept became pretty clear to me when Steven and I started dating.  I had just made the decision to start 'cleaning' my life up a bit, and WHAM!  I meet this hunk of a boy.  Steven was different than any other boy I had dated in high school.  He had a genuine interest in me, and my goals. He listened intently to what I said and talked about his family.  Even though he wasn't perfect, he was the closest thing to perfect I had ever dated.

Here's the kicker.  After entering in a relationship with Steven, I saw how awesome God works.  All he asked me to do was to lay down the party lifestyle and to break off a relationship I had had with another boy.  At the time, it was hard to do.  I thought I loved that lifestyle I was living.  I thought I loved the boyfriend I had.  But I didn't.  I was so clouded by making my own decisions that I couldn't see that God's plan was best for me.  Laying down those areas in my life brought me to Steven.  Which in turn has brought me the most happiness I have ever known.

This was such a life lesson for me.  Sometimes we hang on so tightly to the things that we 'think' we have to have, but in turn those things are hurting us.  All we have to do is trust that God knows what he's doing.  Just think about it, God created animals with special survival skills.  Like the clown fish and sea anemone.  The anemone will sting most, if not all who come near it, but a clown fish it won't.  The anemone offers protections to the clown fish.  Owls have special feathers that allow it to fly silently.  This keeps its prey from hearing it when it swoops down for a bite to eat.  If God gave these creatures special survival abilities, then he surely has a plan for you. 

He even said in Luke 12:24 Consider the ravens:  They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.  How much more valuable you are than the birds!

And He promises us directly that there is a plan just for us in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to preosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I can attest to His word being true.  Time after time God has remained faithful to me even in times where I have not been.  All I have to do is to strive to be the person He created me to be, and God will show me how to do the rest.  Like how to become a stay at home mom, and how to get a new home.  I have a list a mile long of all the help God offers me.  I'm sure God has a pretty lengthy list going of all the stuff He's helped me with that I don't even know about, but I do know this.  I know my life has been easier since I've decided to trust God's plans for me.  I still have to take actions, but I quickly know which ones are good ones and which ones are not.

Even when I get asked to give an area of my life up, I get a huge gain in return.  I've figured out that God doesn't ask us to give stuff up so we can suffer.  He asks us to give stuff up so we can live a fuller life.  Sometimes it's easy to surrender, and sometimes I'm stubburn.  In the end, I can honestly say it's easier to surrender in the beginning.  You'd think I'd learn my lesson by now.

Any-hoo...that's my story!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Excuses? There Are No Excuses

I've heard it all, and just when I thought I'd heard it all, I heard more.  Excuse after excuse after excuse. 

"We had basketball practice until late, so he didn't get his homework done."

"When she came in from playing outside, Janie was coughing so hard she couldn't get her nightly reading in."

"Everyone else was picking on Sam, so why are you calling me about my child?"

And my very favorite to date...

"His father and I are going through a divorce, that's why he stabbed Johnny with his pencil.  I don't understand why you can't be sympathetic to him."

Although I can understand why these excuses could make a situation more difficult, it doesn't excuse the task or behavior that should have been presented.  Yes, basketball, baseball, cheerleading, dance, pom, football, swimming, or whatever afterschool activity a child could be involved in is time consuming.  However, those afterschool activities probably don't consume the entire time outside of school.  If time were managed better the task could have been completed.  Why tack on the excuse?  Allowing your child to be honest about why or why not an assignment or duty was completed is an important life skill.

As for behavior, I don't accept excuses here either.  Divorce, poverty, homelessness, lack of sleep.  Not a one did I take.  It sounds heartless, but it's not.  You can still be sympathetic, and not accept a poor behavior.  Your child stabbed someone else, so you want me to coddle them and tell them it's okay because his circumstances at home are less than desirable?  OR, because your child chose to participate in bullying, I should let him off the hook since he was participating in a group?  It's all about choices.  Your child CHOSE to do wrong.  Therefore, I imposed consequences fitting for the actions.  No excuses.  Wrong is wrong, and right is right.

We really do a disservice to our kids when we make excuses for them.  Your child should know when they do wrong, it brings about consequences.  My motto for behavior has always been, "When you do wrong, it feels wrong.  When you do good, it feels good."  No excuses.  I don't care what led you to do wrong, you still did it. 

Well, this hit me in the face the other day and hard!  Little Man was on an hour crying/whining spree after Steven had returned home for work. I was just getting ready to pull Steven aside and say, "You're being a little hard on him.  He didn't nap today."  Whoa! All the excuses above flew through my head.  It's easy as an outsider to see when an excuse is made, but pretty difficult when it comes to recognizing your own.  Thankfully, I stopped myself and let Steven impose his consequences on Little Man and backed up his decision.

Immediately after Steven disciplined Little Man and brought him back to where the family was, his attitude had changed.  If I had stepped in with my excuse for him, Little Man would have not only continued his behavior, but he would have received recognition that it was okay to behave in that manner because he was tired.  Excuses can really bite you in the butt.  It's time to stop making them, and start holding our kids to a high level of responsibility and character.  After all, we want them to be able to stand firmly on their own two feet once they leave our nests, don't we?

Getting off my soap box now.  Over and out