Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Oma Herrmann's Saucy Chicken

Nothing brings me out of lurkdom better than a request for something or a specific question from someone that is best answered on my blog. It appears that a number of friends have been requesting a particularly favorite recipe of ours, so I thought my blog would be a good place to post it to share. It is actually a recipe my mom received from a family friend when she was on bedrest while pregnant with my sister, so this is an oldie, but a goodie. It played a large roll in our "Holly Jolly-ing" goal over the advent season for our family, as we prepared and gifted this meal to our teachers and an elderly neighbor.

Visiting Santa
Not sure why I didn't post about our Christmas or our "Holly Jolly-ing" - our name for what was going around as RACKing - Random Acts of Christmas Kindness in our social circle.  We did fairly well with our goal of trying to do a kind act for someone each day through the advent season.  We did miss a day here or there, but in general we tried to do something nearly every day and were pleased with the results. We did all number of things, but probably some of the best received or the things we felt the best about were cleaning up garbage on our way home from school one day (we got 3 overflowing garbage bags of trash in just a little over a half mile - we had to quit then because we couldn't carry anymore), bringing small surprises to various staff members at our school who are not often acknowledged one of which was especially fun- giving a roll of quarters to our super sweet custodian who readily hands out quarters to children who have forgotten theirs on popcorn day, bringing a prepared meal and desert to our elderly neighbor next door who was so pleased she wrote a thank you note that she MAILED to us, handing out treat bags with hot chocolate, Hershey's kisses and candy canes to friends and staff at school and surprising teachers with special unexpected treats and notes.  It added a lot of extra work during an already busy time, but it was so rewarding.  I'm hoping that we can continue to do some kind acts even now into the new year and perhaps make an effort to look for ways in which we can help our community throughout the year. It really made us all feel good and it would be fun to try to do some of the things we had on our list and didn't manage to do during the busy holiday season.

We hope you all (whoever reads this) had a good holiday break. Ours was fun, busy and over too fast. I would have liked another week of "vacation" after the holidays.  Christmas was filled with the wonder and joy of children who still are fully into every aspect of the season. We made gingerbread houses, visited Santa, decorated cookies with good friends, ate way too many sweets, stayed up way too late too often and had many, many wonderful hours of fun times with dear friends and family. We even (FINALLY) were able to Facetime with family on the east coast and have what felt like a real visit with them. I swear, Facetime on my iPad2 makes the cost of the item worth every single penny.  2011 was a good year for our family and I was sorry to see it go, but I am hopeful for what 2012 has in store for us.

Christmas Morning

Tristan received a number of Legos

Alyssa received her pink electric scooter

Well, if you have read to this point, you are deserving of the promised recipe, Oma Herrmann's Saucy Chicken (hee, I just accidentally typed "saucy children"!).  We make this with broccoli, but I have had it with artichoke hearts before too and it was quite good that way as well.  Feel free to modify as you wish. You can make this with low-fat options, but I've tried that and it didn't go over very well with my family.  I've also always thought that it would be delicious as a side dish for broccoli by just leaving the chicken out, though I've never actually tried that.

Oma Herrmann's Saucy Chicken

2 Pkgs frozen broccoli, cooked
2 cups sliced cooked chicken or 3 boned breasts diced (I use rotisserie chicken)
2 cans Cream of Chicken soup (or Cream of Mushroom if you prefer)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use a bit more, closer to one cup)
1 to 2 lemons (one large or two small)
1/2 tsp curry powder (I put in a bit more)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (we use cheddar-jack)
1/4 cup bread crumbs

Arrange broccoli in a greased 11 1/2 x 7 1/2 inch baking dish (or casserole).  Place cooked, diced chicken over this.

Combine soup, mayonnaise, lemon juice and curry. Mix well and pour over the chicken. Sprinkle with cheese and breadcrumbs.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

Serve over cooked noodles of your choice.

I hope your family enjoys this meal as much as mine does.  Feel free to email me if you try it and let me know your feedback. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wishing you all Happy Holidays!!

I managed to finish my holiday cards early this year! Now to get them, address them and send them off!

Shutterfly has elegant Christmas party invitations for your holiday party.
View the entire collection of cards.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ten Years Ago Today...

I already posted today, but out of curiosity I went back to my old journal to see if there was an entry from Nov. 10th and found this one. Talk about how different life was 10 years ago. We were just in the middle of doing our IVF! I had forgotten all the medications I was on and all the details. Just for my own reference I'm going to copy and paste the entry I wrote back then to this journal. I had forgotten how I used to keep track of cycle days, medications, books I was reading and all of that at the bottom of each of my journal entries. Kind of fun to read for me.

 November 10, 2001 @ 18:11 Egg Retrieval Update 8:30 AM

Well, we leave for the RE’s office in 15 minutes. To say I’m a little nervous would be an understatement. I could not sleep last night at all – too anxious. I read until midnight then woke up at 1:00 am and then again at 4:00am and never really went back to sleep. My mind was just reeling. I kept imagining receiving the news that they retrieved 10 good eggs and that all fertilized and then that I was pregnant with twins! I don’t actually want to have twins right away (I’d like one first and THEN twins), but I’d be thrilled to be pregnant at all with one or two (more than that might put me in a difficult position to make some difficult choices). I even started imagining a journal entry I would write when/if I found out I was pregnant!!!

 Due to lack of sleep I’m feeling a little ‘hung over’ now with a headache on one side of my head and I’m thirsty as all get out. Of course, I’m not allowed to eat or drink anything prior to the retrieval due to the anesthesia. Oh, and Michael and I were joking around when we got up this morning about my wearing a chicken suit into the office and clucking like a chicken about to lay an egg!! :o) Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I don’t have a chicken suit, but I am going to take a long an empty egg carton and place it on the counter when I check in and tell them that I’m ready to collect eggs!!! :o) That should get a laugh at least!

 Well, it’s time for us to go. I know quite a few of you have written me wonderful supportive emails and I wanted to let you know how much it means to me. I so appreciate them. And Ev, I wanted to thank you especially for your letter about your experiences with IVF and egg retrievals. I hope with all my heart that you will be holding a baby of your own soon too! Thank you for being so open and honest with me about your experiences!!

 5:30 pm

It’s over and aside from feeling a tad bit sore, I’m feeling pretty good. I’m thrilled to announce that they were able to harvest 11 eggs!!!! I had been hoping for 8 so we got 3 more than I had been daring to hope for!! Hurray!! Granted, all 11 might not fertilize, but at least we have a larger “pool” to draw from. We won’t find out until tomorrow morning what is happening as far as fertilization goes. Now I am anxious again! LOL I guess it just won’t end, even if we manage to get pregnant, then I’ll worry about the pregnancy!!! I guess I just can’t escape worrying. But still, 11 eggs!!! You cannot believe how happy that makes me. Just one short of a dozen!

 The nurses, Dr and anesthesiologist all laughed pretty hard when I showed up with an egg carton for the egg “collection”! :o) The nurse just laughed, shook her head and said, “You guys are just over the top!” I hope that she meant that in a good way.

The surgery went pretty well from my end. First they put in my IV which went pretty well. I didn’t watch while the anesthesiologist was doing it but he seemed to get it in right away. Then he gave me something to ‘relax’ me and I could feel it pretty quick. All this time a lab technician was preparing the incubator for the eggs and taking out all kinds of instruments and tubes for the procedure. There was quite a bit of bustle in that small little room. Then after just a little more prep, they put me to sleep and the next thing I remember is waking up in one of the examining rooms and asking how many eggs they got. I was just barely awake at that point so when they brought Michael in to me, I asked them again if I remembered correctly on the number of eggs, which I did.

 So after spending a little more time on the gurney in order to wake up a little bit more, I got up and got dressed again. Then they came in with my list of medications and injections for the next half of this process!! Wow! What a list! We now have to start daily Progesterone in oil injections and I start up my twice daily Heparin injections again (oh joy). On top of those I also have to take Estrace twice a day, Doxycycline twice a day, Methylprednisolone four times a day (then go back to my regular Prednisone once I’ve finished that), Metformin twice a day and a baby aspirin once a day. The Progesterone, Estrace, Prednisone and Metformin will need to be continued into the first 12 weeks of pregnancy if I am pregnant. The Heparin will probably need to be continued throughout the pregnancy up to 35 weeks! Then I’ve got Vicoden for the pain as needed. Wohoo! So I continue to be a walking pharmacy! I just hope that it is all worth it in the end and that we end up with a pregnancy!! I won’t care about the shots or the pills as long as we get pregnant! 

Cycle Day: 11
Medications currently taking: Metformin 2000 mg, Levoxyl 125 mcg, Prenatal Vitamins, Estrace 4 mg, Doxycycline, Methylprednisolone, Progesterone in Oil 1.5 cc, Baby Aspirin and Heparin 10000
Non-prescription: Calcium 1200 mg, Vitamin E, Vitamin C
Number of Injections given so far: 104 (total since starting up fertility treatments again in June)
Feeling: Excited and anxious about the eggs fertilizing
Reading: House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III and In Vitro Fertilization :The A.R.T. of Making Babies by Geoffrey Sher, Virginia Marriage Davis and Jean Stoess
Reading via Books on Tape: Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy
Watching: Nothing

Daily Life These Days

As always the last few days have been super busy with volunteering at school, swimming, Cub Scouts, a playdate and after school activities. On Monday I spent the majority of the day going through and reading old journal and blog entries. I got absolutely nothing accomplished, but I just got sucked in and lost all sense of time. Before I knew it, it was time to go and pick up the children from school, get dinner started and then attend a PTA meeting while Michael took the children to their swim lessons.

The rest of the day I felt like I was in a funny fog, half in the past and yet in the present as well. I had forgotten about SO much of what I had written in my journals. After all, I started my journal in August of 2000, when Michael and I were still newlyweds and before we even purchased our house. I managed to write regularly all the way through 2005 and then semi-regularly through 2008. So much happened in those years. So many ups and downs. And man, we had a LOT of downs those first 4 years. It made me even more appreciative of our life now. Life is so plain NORMAL and there was a time when that's what I wanted more than anything. I've learned that "normal" and "boring" are GOOD things. But really, when is life ever really normal and boring, especially once children arrive?

So the last few days have been normal, but certainly not boring. I try to always find joy in those little moments throughout the day that bring laughter and a sense of well being. On Tuesday I spent the morning at the school volunteering in my son's classroom and then in the school library. It's been so long since I taught myself, it seems amazing to me that I ever was able to handle a classroom full of 2nd graders. When I watch Tristan's amazing teacher I'm in awe of her classroom management skills. When I consider going back to substitute teaching, it's the classroom management aspect that frightens me the most. But in working with the children, I remember why I loved 2nd grade so much. It's a great age.

Later in the library I enjoyed helping the children find books and I love the excitement on their faces when they find just the one they were looking for. I also looked around for some non-fiction books that I thought might spark an interest for Alyssa, as she is an avid reader but not a non-fiction reader. I found a few biographies that I thought she would enjoy and the librarian allowed me to check them out for her. I chose a biography about J.K. Rowling, "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes" and "Boy" an autobiography of Roald Dahl which I have read before and thoroughly enjoyed.

So later that evening, while Michael and Tristan were off at their cub scout meeting, I sat down with Alyssa and showed her the books I had brought home. She seemed interested in "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Crane," a book about a young girl who was born around the time that the US dropped the Atom Bomb on Hiroshima. The book touched a bit on that and the Peace Day celebrations that are held in Hiroshima every August 6th. We talked a bit about the events and she wanted to read about Sadako even though the prologue mentions that she dies of leukemia. I wasn't sure if reading this might be too much for Alyssa to handle at her age, but she was eager to read it. In retrospect perhaps it wasn't a good choice on my part. It's a fairly short book, only 64 pages with 9 short chapters. I read the first few and checked to see how Alyssa was feeling about the book, and she kept begging me to read another chapter and then another chapter, until we completed the entire book. She seemed to be handling the content well until the very end when Sadako dies. I got choked up and the tears started rolling out of my eyes and then she, likewise, started crying. But I didn't realize just HOW upset she was until I mentioned taking the AR test on the book and she emphatically refused to ever take the test or even look at the book again. She was so upset we had to read a chapter from another book, "The Saturdays" by Elizabeth Enright, to get her mind off the other book so she could go to sleep. Yeah, probably not one of my better decisions as a parent.

Despite the bad ending, I have to say I enjoyed our time together reading that evening. We sometimes get so busy in our evenings that Alyssa often does her 30 minutes of reading time reading to herself in bed before we come in and say good night and turn out the lights, though we do still try to read together when we can. I'm hoping to read "Boy" with her next and maybe give her non-fiction reading requirement a bit of a happier note, though maybe I should re-read it first as I recall there might be a few sad stories in that book as well. Anyone have some other good non-fiction book suggestions for a 9 year old girl?

Wednesday, the next day, was just as busy at school with first the school's Veteran's Day assembly and then working the "snack table" through all 5 lunches.

The Veteran's Day assembly was well done as always. Our school makes a huge effort with this assembly and invites any Veterans of family members or in the community to come and be guests of honor for the morning. It's always touching to see how proud the children are of family members who come and all the Veteran's names are read out during one of the songs. But what was particularly adorable this year, was as they had the Veteran's march down the aisle to exit the assembly and go to the reception which is held for them in our school library, the children were holding up their hands for the Veterans to shake or "high 5" as they walked by. It was like they were rock stars and you could tell they were just so tickled by this.

The rest of the day was just the typical daily business. Tristan had a playdate with his best buddy, then we had to eat dinner and get to swimming lessons. Alyssa was in near hysterics because she was afraid we might be a minute or two late (that girl is loving her swim lessons). After swim lessons it was hot showers and stories and then to bed.

Today was my first day all week that I wasn't going to be busy with something at the school, but still started out the morning at the school with the children for "Moms and Muffins." It was nice to see just how popular this new event was. We could hardly find a place to sit down. Then I came home, got out my "to do" list and got busy with a bunch of things I've been putting off the last few days. It's a gorgeous fall day outside today and so tempting to go out and enjoy it, but I really needed to get some things done. So now that I've finished my lunch, it's time for me to go and continue working on those pesky "to do" items before it's time to pick the kids up from school.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Need a Little Help from my Friends

For some reason I've been itching to blog again, though to be honest, I'm not really sure that anything I have to blog would be of interest to anyone other than myself. Yet, the awareness that time is flying by and I have been so bad about keeping notes about the children's activities and cute things they say and simply recording daily life, makes me want to get back into that habit again. I remark to myself and others so often about how quickly my children are growing and how big they are getting, but I know that in a few years I'll be looking back at this time and remarking at how little they still were and how much bigger they are currently. It makes me want to record the now, no matter how mundane, so that I can look back and remember and appreciate the joys and struggles, ups and downs of these days.

Indeed, in thinking back to my old journal, I'm wondering how to go back and "fix" my old blog/journal. I can't even remember what blog format it's in (Greymatter, I think), nor how to make any changes to it or anything. It's been so long. I still have the webhost space as well as the domain name (starrbyrd.com), but since I'm useless in regard to setting up any kind of blog software, I don't know how to "redo" that site. If there is anyone out there who could help me, I'd love to chat with them. Granted, I can't afford to pay someone much to help me with it either, but if they could get me started or explain what I'd need to do, I'd be so appreciative. I'd love to create an archived blog for my "Reach for the Stars" journal entries and some kind of new blog for current entries. I'm so bad that I never even completely copied over my old journal entries from back in the old "Diaryland" days. Not sure if they are all gone now or if I can still access them somehow. There too, I could use some help.

How I'd love to go through and fix up my old blog into a format from which I could actually get a bound book of all those old entries. I think I'd still like to go through and clean some of them up, even delete a few, but for the most part let them stand as a testament to those days. There are just so many memories, both good and bad, in those old entries and it pains me that I've let so many years go by without maintaining those snippets of life with my kidlets as they've grown. But then, it's never too late to start again, I suppose. I just have to remember to do a little at a time and be glad for what I have.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kihei arrival

Ahhhhhhhh. We've landed back in Heaven, we'll as close to Heaven as you can get on earth, at least in our minds. And which, by the way reminds me of the title of a very enjoyable book, titled "Born in Paradise". Sorry, I can't remember the author's name and am too lazy to look it up at the moment. Interesting read and autobiographical account of growing up on Maui at the turn of the century on one of the big cattle ranches on Haleakela.

But I digress. Yesterday, after a long and somewhat bumpy flight we landed on our beloved Maui once again after 3 long years! We've returned to the Hale Pau Hana which feels like home after so many visits. The kids were wild to get their swimsuits on and jump into the pool, so that's what we did, followed by our first walk on the beach, which turned into the first romp in the waves. Alyssa was truly loving every minute of it and I'm so sorry I didn't have my camera or phone with me. She was running into the waves with her arms stretched out above her head screaming at the waves "You love me!!! You love me!!" and then throwing herself into them. She even declared it "awesome" when a big wave swamped her and went right over her head! It was like she was a crazy water sprite and couldn't get enough of the waves. We just watched her utter joy and laughed. It was a great, happy moment I just wanted to ingrain in my mind.

At the same time Tristan was digging in the sand like a little puppy wallowing in mud and water. He would dig in one spot, then run down the beach amd start digging in another spot. And then he would just run and run and run. He'd run away from us down the beach, turn around and run back right along the water line splashing and kicking up sand. Then turn around and do it again. Then go dig somemore in the sand. More precious memories I wish I could just hold forever in my mind.

We checked out the tidal pools (which Tristan gave a special name that I can't recall at the moment) and just thoroughly enjoyed just being in the moment and finally back in Hawaii again.

For dinner we just walked across the road for Thai take-out and had dinner with my parents and sister. The kids just wanted some cereal and ran around on the lawn playing hide-and-seek and then making hideouts with the lawn chairs and tables. Not long after 8:00, they had already crashed and we crashed ourselves shortly thereafter.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Where has the summer gone?

I can't believe that summer is almost over for us! I keep trying to remind myself that really we have 3 more weeks before school starts (yes, we start the Wednesday after Labor Day), but it seems like the time is winding down much too quickly. Even worse, I feel like we haven't done any of the things I had hoped to do during this time. We've never gone to the zoo yet (will try to fit that one in soon - maybe Friday?), we haven't gone on the ferry ride we talked about, we haven't ridden "The Duck", we haven't gone to one of our favorite parks to play, and we haven't even been to the beach! I also owe Alyssa a ride on the local public bus, something she's so eager to do. We did go to the splash pad at the local park for the first time yesterday, but that was completely spur of the moment.

I'm not sure why we haven't done as much this summer. To be honest, I think the weather has had a lot to do with it. (Or maybe I'm just a lame mom?) It seems like it's been either cold (in the 50's and low-60's) or too hot (upper-80's to 90's). We don't do "hot" well in this house. I guess those would have been perfect days for the ferry ride or the beach, but for whatever reason those things didn't happen. Now, we are faced with the end of the summer looming and we still haven't even camped out in our backyard or gone to Jetty Island, both things we were determined to do this summer. I guess I still have a few weeks to get those in.

What have we done? Well, we've had some playdates, had swimming lessons, T-ball ran into July this year, we went to Lake Chelan for a few nights, both kids were sick for a few days which slowed us down, and we've had a few neighborhood gatherings as well as some friends come to visit from out of town. Not much and yet it's felt busy to me. Still, not at all like last summer when we seemed to be discovering so many new things each week.

It just makes me rather sorry that school is starting so soon again. I guess we just have to make the most of the next few weeks and cram a lot of fun in!