Friday, May 28, 2010
1 lb beef flank steak (much more affordable than other cuts of steak)
1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
1/4 cup cilantro
4 oz queso
2 tbsp A.1. steak sauce
2 tbsp hot sauce
1/4 cup butter, softened
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Add approximately 1 tbsp olive oil to heated pan. Season both sides of steak with salt and pepper. Cook each side of steak approximately 4 minutes.
2. Place pan in oven and roast 5-7 minutes.
3. As steak cooks, start rice. Cook according to package directions. Chop cilantro while rice and steak cook.
4. Combine A.1. and hot sauce in small bowl. Add juice from lime, 1 tbsp cilantro, and butter to A.1., hot sauce, mix well.
5. To finish rice, mix in queso. Once queso is mixed in well, add remaining cilantro.
6. Microwave butter mixture on high 20 seconds or until melted. Cut steak into slices (I made the mistake of doing this before cooking the steak but it still turned out fine). To plate add slices of steak, drizzle with butter, serve with rice as side dish. I did not measure the queso or cilantro but eyeballed it, about 1/4 small jar of queso, a large handful of cilantro. The measurements included are from the original recipe.
This was a new recipe for my family this week and was a big hit with everyone, especially the rice. Hubby took some pictures for me but unfortunately they didn't turn out. We are headed camping this weekend so I'll be back Monday or Tuesday to catch up on everyone's holiday weekend adventures and hopefully have a few of my own to post.
Happy Memorial Day!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I am on week 7 of the 12 week training program and so far it is going fabulous. I love running so much. I love how I feel when I do it and I love accomplishing new goals.
Before I started running I was in such awe of marathon runners. I thought, "what an amazing accomplishment." And here I am less than a year later, training for my first race, a 5K.
The running has been easier than I ever imagined thanks to the great program my running store, Fleet Feet has in place with New Balance. It is called No Boundaries and it makes training for a 5K easy. I haven't been sore, I haven't been tired, I haven't been injured, and I haven't missed a run in 7 weeks. I hated running before I started now I am in love.
At this point in the training program we are running about 2.5-2.8 miles with 5 minutes of warm up and 5 minutes of cool down, for a total distance of 3.2-3.5 miles. As a group we average about 12 1/2 minute mile time over the course of our run. Individually I have been able to do a 9 1/2 minute mile time over 1 mile, slower over the entire run.
Since I am fairly confident I could run the 5K now my goals for the rest of the training program are to improve my mile time, not get injured, and have fun.
I've heard Fleet Feet does a 10K training program in the fall which I am planning to sign up for. As long as everything stays in track I will be running my first 10K this November. Eventually I will want to train for a half marathon and someday a full marathon. I'm not sure how long it will take me to make the jump from 10K to half marathon but even if I am running 10K's this time next year I will still be very proud of myself.
This weekend is a big race near my hometown, the Bolder Boulder. A couple of friends are running it this year and I am very jealous I can't be there. I already told my hubby next year I want to make it a goal to run the Bolder Boulder with my friends.
I am so happy I decided to take the leap of faith and take up running. It truly is great!
Happy running everyone!
Monday, May 24, 2010
May 24, 2008, was a date that changed my life forever. It was the day I married my best friend. On our two year anniversary I want to publish our wedding vows as a tribute to our love and union and as a reminder to all those other couples out there that love can overcome.
"Nate, I promise to be faithful, supportive, and loyal and to give you my companionship and love throughout all the changes of our life. I vow to bring you happiness, and I will treasure you as my companion. I will celebrate the joys of life with you. I promise to support your dreams, and walk beside you offering courage and strength through all endeavors. From this day forward, I will be proud to be your wife and best friend."
Nate and Michelle, May 24, 2008.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Her whole class End of the ballet routine This beautiful ballerina got some flowers after the performace for a job well done.
B, FiFi, Wyn, and hubby after the performace
Monday, May 17, 2010
When we got home the fun started. I saw the window in FiFi's room ajar in an unusual way so I casually asked Wyn who had been playing with it. To which she responded, "Brennan, he's been climbing on the roof." I kid you not folks, this actually happened! To make matters worse, my 10 year had not only climbed on our 2nd story roof once but numerous times over the past few months. Needless to say I was so pissed, I was almost speechless. Obviously my very smart child B has no understanding of danger or much fear for that matter.
Boys never cease to amaze me with the things they do. They are so different than girls, it truly is amazing. I would've never considered doing half the stuff B has done when I was a child and B is a good kid. He is very smart, gets good grades, and rarely gets in trouble, but when he does...
His punishment was being grounded for 1 week. In our house that involves no playing outside or with friends, no electronic devices, no DS, TV, computer, radios, etc. Since he is older and could've been very seriously injured as a result of his actions we also grounded him to his room for the day yesterday. He could leave his room to get ready, eat, and do his chores. While in his room he could play independently or read. Reading is his favorite thing to do and he often reads in his room for hours at a time anyways. So it isn't as awful as it sounds.
This was just the beginning of my fun day. Sunday morning we wake up and start getting ready for church. May 24th is hubby and my two year wedding anniversary so we had a date planned to attend a local event called Wine in the Woods. Hubby planned the entire date, babysitter included. Wyn complained of a stomach ache when she woke up but I encouraged her to eat and keep getting ready. Saturday was a long day for all of us and she ate way too much junk. I was sure she would be fine after she ate. She continued acting sick so we decide to skip church and cancel the babysitter. She ended up throwing up twice after that. I am glad I cancelled when I did.
So our anniversary date turns into me cleaning up puke. Fun times. See, motherhood is not glamorous! But wait there's more. We find out from B that FiFi drew on her brand new bed with marker, on purpose. At this point I honestly am thinking, "holy crap, does it never end." Hubby has a talk with her, makes her clean it up and proceeds to ground her too. Now we have 1 sick kid in bed, puking, and 2 grounded kids, while we were supposed to be on a date celebrating our anniversary.
Things ended up turning around. Hubby called and made dinner reservations for the 24th so at least we'll get to do something. I got a lot accomplished around the house. I scrubbed the bathroom like it hadn't been done in who knows how long, cleaned the kitchen, cooked, and did many loads of laundry. I also managed to go to the farmer's market alone, where I found a tomato and zucchini plant for my garden, read 60-70 pages in Eat, Pray, Love, and watched Julie and Julia with hubby.
So while the day didn't turn out how I thought it would, all and all it ended up being a good day, less the sick kid, two grounded kids, and cancelled anniversary date. I can't complain too much though because this is my life as a mother of three. Sorry to say but motherhood is not glamorous and I know this will not be the last time I am cleaning up puke instead of doing what I would like. Thing is, I wouldn't trade it for anything, puke and all.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Thin sliced sourdough bread
3 TBSP butter
1 TBSP olive oil
2 medium sized yellow onions, thinly sliced
10 slices havarti cheese
1 medium sized granny smith apple, thinly sliced
20 slices deli style ham
1) Melt 1 TBSP of butter over medium-low heat with olive oil. Add onions. Continue to cook onions over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, until caramelized. Stirring as needed so they do not stick or burn.
2) Butter one side of each slice of bread. Layer one slice of cheese, two slices of ham, slices of apple, caramelized onions, top with a second slice of cheese. Putting one slice of cheese on top and one on bottom seals the center ingredients in and makes for easier flipping.
3) Cook each sandwich in the skillet over medium-low heat until golden brown. Flip and cook second side.
Serve while hot. Enjoy! This will make 5 sandwiches. Sandwiches also can be refrigerated and reheated for 30-45 seconds in the microwave for leftovers. The sandwiches have a great combination of sweet, and tangy flavors. Really, really delicious, and my kids even eat the sandwiches too.
Friday, May 7, 2010
I am happy to say, I made it there, and the rest is history. Ok just kidding, the story continues. He looked similar to his pictures online and was cute. I liked him, he was kind of quiet, kind of shy, different than any of the other guys I dated. He seemed like a real gentleman, holding the door for me, walking to my car, not trying to kiss me. We sat and talked for 3 hours when we finally parted ways and went back home to pick up our kids. At the end of our date I forced a hug out of my shy guy, and I think he said something like, "I'd really like to see you again, if you want to, if that's ok with you" or some similar stumbling version of asking me out again. Oh my gosh, too cute! Later when I asked him about his first impression of me, he said he thought I was hot; and tall (I wore 3inch boots that day).
We talked on the phone more and set up our next date for 6 days later. This time he planned a date to the Boulder Dinner Theater, a nice little dinner theater near my hometown. I was excited to see him again and I was excited that he planned a nice date. We met up at the dinner theater and I could tell he was really nervous. I thought it was really cute though, he must really like me if he acting all shy and nervous. He didn't try to make a move but finally got up the nerve to hold my hand, wasn't he so cute! I had been plotting about our first kiss and didn't want it to be in the parking lot. It was only our second date but I had a feeling this was going somewhere. After the show I suggested we go to Flagstaff Mountain to the overlook to see the city. It is a truly a beautiful view. After taking him up there I forced him to kiss me. Fine, I didn't force him but the setting was perfect. We shared our first kiss on Flagstaff mountain where he would later propose and later we would wed, how sweet!
We both really liked each other and couldn't wait to see each other again. Scheduling dates as single parents is complicated because you don't only have your two schedules to work with but you have two babysitters schedules to work with. Somehow we managed to go on at least 1 date a week for those first 6 months.
Over that first month our relationship progressed. I brought him as my date to my work Christmas party and took him along to meet my friends. After a couple weeks he officially asked me to be his girlfriend and promptly took down his match.com profile. He was officially off the market and all mine.
After a month or so we decided it was time for the kids to meet. We were exclusively dating and were hoping to spend more time together. The first meeting was for dinner at my house, low key, and it went great. B having been an only child his whole life was thrilled to have playmates. Wyn loved to talk and talk and talk (in circles even, still does) and kept going on and on about when they could visit us next, FiFi didn't say much but laughed and played and well that is FiFi. I can picture that first day well but it is hard to imagine the kids were only 5, 5, and 3, so little and so cute!
After that we tried to keep weekly dates with just me and hubby and twice a week we would go to each others house for dinner, one day a week at his house, one day a week at my house, one date a week in the middle. 50 miles is a long drive, 100 round trip and about an hour each way without traffic, it suffices to say we both put a lot of miles on our cars that first year.
It didn't take long for things in our relationship to get more serious, we told each other we loved each other 6 weeks into our relationship though we both had known for weeks. Around this time I had this crazy idea of going to Vegas together for spring break. He thought it sounded fun so after less than 3 months of dating we took our first trip together to Vegas for the weekend. During that trip hubby told me he could see himself marrying me and I felt the same way. I knew he was the one. His family swore we eloped during this trip but obviously they didn't know me very well.
We continued our crazy, busy lives, balancing three kids, two school schedules, and various part-time jobs for me. B continued at his private school for 1st grade where we lived and Wyn started kindergarten near hubby's house. I still had a year left on my Bachelor degree, hubby had two more years to finish his degree.
We talked about marriage and continued dating. Hubby is a stubborn one. Although he took me to look at engagement rings in June, giving me the impression he was going to propose in the next month or two, he didn't buy my ring until the end of October. He then didn't propose until February. I swear, he was killing me with suspense. I thought for sure when he hadn't proposed by our one year anniversary that would be when he would do it. Our plans got rescheduled due to the Christmas blizzard of 2006 and the date came and went. He finally proposed on our date celebrating my birthday and Valentine's Day (the dates are a week apart). On February 10, 2007, hubby took me back to all our first date spots, including Flagstaff Mountain where our first kiss was and proposed. Aww...how sweet!
With our school schedules we had limited windows where we could both get married and take a honeymoon, either 2 weeks in May or 2 weeks in August. August in Colorado is typically hot and I had always wanted a spring wedding so we settled on May 2008, and a 15 month engagement. Since we were engaged and my lease was up at the end of May 2007, B and I packed up and moved in with hubby and the girls.
That May, I am proud to say I graduated from the University of Colorado with a Bachelor degree in Political Science with a 3.3 GPA and my family by my side. It was a very proud moment for me and I felt like all my hard work was paying off. I was a college graduate, the first in my family to graduate with a Bachelor degree.
Over the summer I interned at a lobbying firm that deals in local Denver politics. It was an exciting job that I really enjoyed. The hours were long, the pay not so good, and the stress level high, so when they let me know they didn't have any opening in the fall, I was both a bit disappointed and a bit relieved. I continued to look for work and within a couple months starting working at a large IP law firm in downtown Denver, using both my Bachelor degree in political science and my paralegal certificate that I had earned many years before. I was disappointed in the pay but excited for the possibilities the future held.
B took a little time adjusting to his new school in 2nd grade. Going from private to public school was both good and bad for him. On the good side the behavioral expectations were somewhat relaxed and he rarely got in trouble at his new school. On the bad side, the work was too easy, while he was pulled out for both reading and math for GT, but it really wasn't enough.
Wyn and B took some time to figure out their new roles in our family. They both were previously the oldest child and both like to be in charge, B a little more so. They are only 6 months apart in age so they do butt heads some. The fact that they are in separate grades has been our saving grace, this way each child has their own space. B has slide into the role of oldest child taking on the most responsibility, and Wyn into the role of middle child, although she is also very responsible. I see their relationship much like any other siblings that are close in age (10-15 months apart). Both of them can agree on one thing, they love FiFi and will do anything to protect her and keep an eye out for her. FiFi very much enjoys the role of baby in our family. Although she is 7 years old, she plays it up every chance she can.
Our wedding date came quickly, with all the preparing and planning for a traditional wedding. Neither hubby and I had a traditional wedding the first time and wanted our wedding to be special. Our wedding date was May 24, 2008, and it was held at the amphitheater a Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder, Colorado, a beautiful natural stone amphitheater overlooking the entire city. The views are truly breathtaking and of course Flagstaff mountain holds a special place in hubby and my heart. Our reception followed at a local hotel and we even partied into the night at the hotel bar, it truly was a wonderful evening and everything went off perfectly. Two days after our wedding we left for 8 days in Maui, which still is my most amazing vacation to date. I was so happy to have married my best friend that day and am still happy almost 2 years later.
So where are we now? In December of 2008, hubby after being in the Navy for 6 years, graduated with his Bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado. His job search after graduation took us here to Maryland, where he currently works for a small company as a Senior Engineer doing power plant training, operating manuals, and consulting work. I am working as a nanny to 9 month old twin girls and love every minute of it. Our kids are now in 4th, 3rd, and 1st grade and doing fabulous. Life really couldn't be better. I am glad I got my happily ever after. It took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but it just proves with hard work and a little determination you can accomplish anything.
If you missed it:
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
We headed home from the hospital 36 hours after B was born and settled into life as a new mom. I wasn't the typical teen mom, I didn't have my mom or grandma or other family members there to take care of my baby. It was me, B, and my boyfriend. B was an easy baby and there were only a handful of times where he cried inconsolably. At two weeks old he was sleeping from 11pm-5am and always was a great sleeper. We even had to wake him to feed him at night during his first few days home.
My work offered 6 weeks paid maternity leave, a benefit I know most workplaces do not provide. In addition to those 6 weeks I took all my vacation time for the year, 8 weeks in all to be home with my new baby boy. It was nice to have all this bonding time with B and to not have to worry about the financial hardships of not having a paycheck.
Three weeks after B was born was my high school graduation. I was proud that despite my circumstances, I was walking with my class, graduating on time, and earned a 3.4 GPA, while at it. I really loved my job and didn't consider going to college right after high school. I knew I would go to college someday but I focused on being a mom and good employee.
B's dad continued to hop from job to job, 3 months here, 6 months there. Always bringing in income, never bringing much stability to our family. When B was 4 months old my boyfriend insisted he wanted a house for our family, not an apartment. We found a house to rent in the mountains. It was cute but far away and over-priced. Honestly I would've been happy staying in the apartment but I went along with what he wanted.
When B was a baby, his dad was really a great dad to him, very involved. He is a chef and restaurant manager so his hours were opposite of mine and B was with him a lot while I was at work. My boyfriend's mom watched B in the afternoons between when my boyfriend went to work until I got off of work.
I settled into being a mom quite quickly and things with my boyfriend were pretty good. I loved being a mom and was genuinely happy. I thought my boyfriend had changed and his bad decisions were in the past. When B was 8 months old he proposed and when B was 9 months old we were legally married, no ceremony, no dress, no hoopla. I didn't even change my name, because he promised a "real wedding" ceremony when we could save up enough money. So there I was, 19 years old, mom to a 9 month old, and now married. I thought things had turned around and everything would be ok.
When B was 14 months old, the sh*t really hit the fan. My husband's bad legal decisions came back to haunt him in a bad way. From this point on, I began raising B on my own, as a single mom. It was really, really hard. I cried a lot, I struggled a lot, but honestly more than anything I loved my baby boy more than life itself and I was going to do everything in my power to keep him happy and safe.
My husband and my relationship went back and forth for another 3 years. During those 3 years he wasn't really involved in B's life and we never lived together again. Looking back I should've cut the ties and moved on with my life when B was 14 months old. I kept holding out hope that my husband could change, that he could stop the lying and cheating and legal troubles and get himself back on the straight and narrow. When B was 4 I finally filed for divorce. It was almost a year before the divorce was finalized but after that last split I didn't look back. My heart was hurt, my little family had been destroyed, but I was beginning to realize B and I never really had a future with his dad. I attended a divorce recovery class at my church that allowed me to grieve the end of this relationship and truly helped me move on. At 22, I was by far the youngest member but it was so helpful to me.
B continued to grow and learn and change. He is a smart boy and always kept me on my toes. I kept working at the bank. When B was 1 I started attending community college part time to be a paralegal. After a year and a half I graduated with my paralegal certificate and started looking for jobs. After searching I decided it was better for me and B to stay at my current job. I was very interested in legal studies and thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I met with a career counselor at the community college and she advised that most people that go to law school receive their undergraduate degree in political science. University of Colorado had a guaranteed transfer agreement and if I took a certain sequence of courses I could graduated with my Associate degree from community college and be guaranteed to finish my Bachelor degree with only another 60 credits. When B was 2 1/2 I started on my Associate degree and graduated in 3 years, mainly going part-time. I also started working part-time in the church nursery for extra money. At one point I was both working full-time and going to school full-time, as a single mom. Yes, I am crazy, plus very determined. I was sure getting a college education was my ticket to success both for me and B.
After I graduated with my Associate degree I transferred to the University of Colorado. I decided to leave my job and focus on school full-time. I juggled four part-time jobs, one as a nanny, two as church child care worker, and I provided child care for one of my son's classmates. I wanted to be successful at the University level, as well as complete my Bachelor's degree quickly so I could move on to law school. I went into a lot of debt because of this. My entire education was paid for with a combination of grants, scholarships, and loans, but no family help. During this time I was able to spend more time with B. I went to school while he was at school but was done in time to pick him up each afternoon. All my jobs allowed me to bring B to work with me. My sister and I had been renting a 3 bedroom townhome for several years together and around this time she moved out and found a place of her own. It was just me and B and we were pretty happy.
For months after that final split I was not interested in dating. Of course I wanted to find someone great but I was hurt, jaded, and not sure I even knew how to date anymore. My last experience in dating took place when I was still in high school. I was now an adult, a mom, a college student, and a professional. I was not even sure where to begin.
A friend set me up on a blind date, that didn't work out. I ran into a guy from high school at a bar, that only lasted a couple dates. I went out with my friends, I met guys, but they were all the same, hot guys who were only looking for one thing (if you know what I mean) and that wasn't a relationship. I started to get frustrated. I read the book, He's Just Not That Into You and convinced myself I wasn't going to settle. Not all guys were jerks and I should not settle for less than stellar treatment. More than a year had passed since the break up and I was approaching 24 years old.
The same friend convinced me to try Match.com, her friend met her fiance there. I figured it couldn't hurt. At first it was exciting to be dating again. I knew these things took time. I winked and emailed back and forth with a couple of guys but nothing really progressed. After about 3 weeks, there was this one guy, he seemed cute and sweet and even had two girls of his own. He had raised both his girls completely on his own since his youngest was 3 months old, almost 3 years ago. That said a lot about him. His oldest daughter was 6 months younger than B and our kids gave us lots to talk about. We both were in college, both at University of Colorado, me at Boulder studying Political Science, he was at Denver studying Mechanical Engineering. We talked on the phone for hours, the conversation flowed easily. After a few days and a couple phone calls he asked me on a date. A first date, that would change my life forever...
More to come in Part 4: My Happily Ever After.
If you missed it:
Part 1: How I Became a Teen Mom
Part 2: Pregnancy
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Your Personality Showed Through Early On, B Two Months Old.
12 Months Old, What a Cutie!
1 Year Old, I Learned to Walk, Gave Up My Bottle, and Became More a Boy Than a Baby.
And Then He Was Two!
And Then He Was Ten and His Mom Couldn't Believe How the Time Flew By.
P.S. That is the famous Pokeball (Pokemon) cake and yes, I did make it completely from scratch, and yes, it turned out fabulous and tasted delicious! Better watch out Duff, I am not sure there is room for two Ace of Cakes in the Charm City!