Wednesday, July 27, 2011

You Hope You Never Need Them...

...but they are there when you do. Firefighters. This past week, the Waterloo Volunteer Fire Department lost a member of their family. Travis Miller passed away in his sleep after helping battle a fire.

I drove past the funeral home hosting his viewing last night and the sight of the fire trucks and firefighters in their dress blues got me. I can't imagine the pain his family is going through.

I know many firefighters. My brother in law is the Chief of a volunteer department and my sister in law serves with that same department. My sister in law's brother (did you follow that odd family tree jump?) is a volunteer fighter as well.

I don't think people stop to realize what firefighters, especially volunteer firefighters, do to keep us safe. They are the people who go out during storms to spot for tornadoes, the ones who drag trees out of the road at 6 am on their birthday, the ones who have permission to leave work to go battle fires. They give up family time, regardless of the holiday (Do you realize how many idiots start deep fryer fires around Thanksgiving and Christmas?). They get called out in the middle of the night to help with medical emergencies. Volunteer firefighters risk their lives as a hobby. They don't get a personal pay check for running into burning buildings. They don't get paid to sit through hours of training on how to put out fires, save lives, use equipment, etc. They do it because they care.

I have seen my brother in law in action (a rekindled house fire) and let me tell you, it's scary! What person in their right mind RUNS into a structure on fire?! I have seen the back of his coat and helmet burned from the flames. I have to wonder why people run into fires, I wouldn't. But as much as I wonder, I appreciate them even more!

So if you see a firefighter (volunteer or paid), thank them! They deserve it! You might not appreciate them now, but if you need their services, they will come!


Last week we decided to see what Isabella would do with cereal. She has had cereal mixed in her bottles since she was a month old (thank you colic and acid reflux), but her bottles were never thick. Lately we have begun making her "bedtime" bottle a little on the thick side and she hasn't had any problems. So we thought we'd try our hand at spoon feeding cereal. All bibbed up and ready to go!

First bite is in!
Trying for a second bite.

Clearly, she wasn't i impressed with her cereal.

She had more fun playing with the spoon!

TJ sure loves his cereal tho!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

28 years

So I have been reminded that Saturday I will turn another year older.

I started thinking....28 years. What have I accomplished in 28 years?

Learned how to walk, talk, feed and dress myself, and all that other basic stuff.

I have spent 21 years in school. Graduated with Academic Honors from high school, graduated on the Dean's list from college and currently maintain a 4.0 in grad studies. Big deal. All that tells you is that I am a DORK!

I have witnessed the effects of cancer and strokes on my grandparents. I have hid in the bathroom at a funeral and laughed at another. I have crowded around a cousin's car to listen to the end of the Purdue vs. Michigan State football game before officially saying goodbye to my grandfather.

I have coped with the loss of two classmates way to early in their lives.

I thought I found love, only to be dumped on my butt. The next week, I met my new boss and thought that my job was gonna suck. I didn't know that 2 months later I would be dating my boss and then end up married to him!

I have been fortunate enough to leave the country 3 times. The one time to Canada doesn't really count since we left the States just to say we left the States. I have toured the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria with a choir. I have fallen down numerous spiral staircases while in the Netherlands (seriously people, straight stairways work too!). I have sat on a beach in Spain and watched the sun come up. I have gotten buzzed in a Naval base bar while singing an annoying song about jumping. I have taken a boat ride hung over eating ice cream for breakfast before unknowingly watching the filming of a James Bond movie. I have ridden the moving sidewalks at the Miami Airport for 4 hours out of sheer boredom.

I lived through the divorce of my parents and the ending of childhood.

I have experienced a year at a Big Ten school and dealt with a roommate from hell, and survived!

I have been married for 6 years (been together 11), have two wonderful kids. I have given birth twice without any big pain meds. I have witnessed the joy/terror on my husbands face as he delivered our daughter. I have taught my son many cute habits and probably some that will end up getting him in trouble one day.

I have given blood only to then pass out in front of my students. I have been carried by my students (and football players) to a cot only to wake up utterly embarrassed!

I have witnessed the growing up of my three beautiful nieces. I have watched them take on personalities that are distinctly their own.

I have seen how a horrible accident can break you down, but build you up stronger than ever. I have witnessed family growing stronger through trying situations. I have prayed for a miracle and received it.

I have a job I love, despite how much I can complain about it. I have helped keep 120+ students out of juvenile placement, thus saving Steuben County roughly $1.28 million. I have worked through the suicide of a student and still miss her crazy sense of humor each fall when I see a pumpkin.

I have flown across the states to be with a friend and be "one of the guys" for the weekend. I have witnessed the beginning of two marriages (other than my own) from the front of the church. I have worn uncomfortable undergarments and shoes for the friends I love.

I have gone against what I knew would upset some people and did something solely for myself (my tattoo).

I have loved and lost. I have cried and I have laughed. I have been patient and I have been restless. I have run away and then came right back. I have done a lot, but mostly I have tried to live every day to the fullest.

I wonder what I will accomplish in my next 28 years?

Cornflake Chicken and Blackbean Salad

This meal seems like it has a lot of steps, but it is SUPER easy and tasty! It is a great meal to have little hands help you make too!!

Cornflake Chicken
Crushed Cornflakes - the amount really depends on how much chicken you want to make
1C. Milk
1 egg
salt/pepper - to taste
1 C. flour
Chicken- I cut breasts into tenders, but you could use whole breasts or a quartered chicken
melted butter - the amount depends on how much chicken

Put the cornflakes in a big resealable bag and crush with a rolling pin (or let your child go to town dropping the bag on the floor). In a separate bowl mix the milk and beaten egg. Then add the salt and pepper and flour. Mix until smooth.

Put an oven proof cooling rack on a foil lined baking sheet/cookie sheet. Spray the cooling rack with cooking spray. This will prevent the chicken from sticking and will keep the chicken crunchy on all sides.

Dip the chicken into the wet batter and then put into the cornflakes. Use your hands to make sure the cornflakes coat all of the chicken. Place the chicken on the cooling rack/baking sheet. Drizzle with melted butter.

Bake at 350. The time depends on the type of chicken. I did chicken "tenders" and they took about 17 to 20 minutes. If you are doing a bone-in quartered chicken it could take up to an hour. Just keep checking the chicken and once the internal temp is 165 degrees, they are done.

Black Bean Salad w/ Crispix Croutons
1 can of black beans - drained and rinsed well
1 C. canned corn (or fresh)
12 cherry tomatoes, halved- I don't know why 12, you could add as many as you want
1/4 C. red onion, finely chopped
4 oz can of green chilies - I didn't actually use the chilies and it tasted just fine

zest of one lime
juice of one lime
olive oil
4 tsp. agave nectar - I couldn't find this anywhere so we just added some honey instead
1 tsp. chili powder

2 C. Crispix cereal
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. melted butter

Mix together all of the "Salad" ingredients. In a separate bowl mix the "Vinaigrette" ingredients. Start by mixing together the zest, juice, nectar and chili powder. Slowly stream in olive oil while whisking. Stop adding oil when you like the taste/consistency. There is really no right or wrong here.

Drizzle the vinaigrette's over the salad. You can then place the salad on top of actual lettuce greens(we ate ours without the greens and it was tasty). Put all the "Crouton" ingredients into a ziplock bag and shake to coat the cereal. Use the cereal as the croutons for the salad.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dear Taylor and Isabella

Dear Taylor and Isabella,

I promise to always love you. I promise to do my best to make it known you are loved. I am so blessed to have you in my life. After thinking we couldn't have kids, we were blessed with two wonderful babies who are growing up so fast.

You will soon learn that I am not perfect, in fact, far from it. I will make mistakes, and I apologize now. I can't promise that I won't embarrass you. I may yell too loud at your future sporting events, or wear embarrassing outfits when we go shopping. I will probably even do the "crotch jiggle" test (see old episode of "Home Improvement") when shopping for jeans. I am sure I will cook some meals you hate, and I know I will make you eat your vegetables.

I will push you to do your best. I will expect you to study and complete your homework. I will expect you to respect your teachers, elders, family members, etc. I won't let you give up or drop out.

I also promise to love you regardless of the mistakes you will make. I won't laugh when you fall (sorry, but you have your mother's sense of grace!). I will make sure you always have a roof over your head and food in your belly. You may not always have what you want, but you will have what you need.

I promise not to embarrass you too badly in front of your first date (TJ). I will try my hardest to prevent your Dad, Grandfather, and Uncle from cleaning their guns in front of the house when your prom date shows up (Isabella).

I promise you will always be surrounded by love!