Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Do you see this picture?!
It is supposed to be of our sweet little man handing me a flower, that he picked just for me... seems precious enough, right?! Can you see the stinker face he is making in the background?  He is saying, as he grunts... 'BUT MOM... why do I have to hold this flower, it hurts my finger, I AM not smiling... why are you taking my picture (AGAIN)?!?!!?
This face, in this sweet moment, and the inherent frustration that comes with handing me a flower and me gushing over it basically defines my life as a mom to boys! They are loving but rugged, tender but gross, stinky but sweet, high energy with preciousness mixed in, full of excitement but a non-stop bop! I can't just have a sweet moment without something 'boying' it up... that's just the way it is with our kiddos! 
I adore it and am exhausted by it all in the same breath! 
I am sure all kids, no matter girl or boy, come with varying ranges of emotions. As with anyone you meet... you never know what you are going to get and you can't expect to get the same reaction all the time! You have to take the good with the bad, the fun with the not so fun... always be prepared to roll with the punches, so to speak! 
Our boys, and the life I lead with them is teaching me that every day!! Some days I embrace it better than others, most days I eat it up and keep plugging along! But there are days, when I can't keep up and I feel like I fall short (with my kiddos and with everyone else I come in contact with)! 
There are days when I rush to put our boys to bed early cause I am about to go nuts-o and there are nights when I look up and it's well over an hour past their bed time! There are days when I just can't talk to enough people and being a 'go getter' comes easy, and there are days when I feel like I would rather stay in bed and let someone else go get whatever it is that day that needs to be gotten! On good days I feel like I can see and deal with most emotions thrown my way, but there are plenty of days where I get smacked in the face by a reaction I never saw coming! 
This is that good and bad, fun and not so fun that I am talking about!! I am pretty sure these situations are something that will not end or diminish with time... they are life lessons, taught every day! Even when I don't know I am being taught, the lessons are still there! 
This quote makes me smile and just shake my head when I think about life lessons :))
But in the end... all I can continue to do is to try and learn from my mistakes! From now on, I will proudly take a flower even if it comes with grunts and groans! At least I know that thru the grunts and groans, the sentiment is there... even if it wasn't delivered the way I thought it should be! 
Who am I to judge the teacher during 'my' test!!

Always - Abbey

Monday, March 19, 2012

Old Favorite

What do you do when you are coming off of Spring break, a week where you didn't cook a single meal (and reheating leftovers doesn't count, since I'm being honest) and you barely got to the grocery store?!!?

You pull out an 'Old Favorite', a trusted family favorite recipe... kinda like going to your trusty relief pitcher in the bottom of the 8th and the bases are loaded with no outs!!! Well, for me it was more like it was 4:15p on Open House Night at school and I wanted, no needed something to cook fast so we could be there by 6:30p and out by 7p!!
I got this cookbook from a dear friend almost 10 years ago...
Sorry the picture is sideways... bad picture taking on my part!
I have used this recipe so much since the first time I tasted it at the Kirkpatrick's house one night... long, long ago.. BEFORE KIDS!!! <gasp> Now, that is a long time ago.... what did we even do before kids?? And why was I cooking??? We should have been going out to eat.... in fancy restaurants! Ha... I digress! Moving on...
Here is the recipe: Family Pleasing Chicken... with a name like that, you know it's good!!
It only calls for like 7 ingredients... These 4 are pretty much staples in our house! And chicken breasts... I always have chicken on hand in Casa de Lewis!
And the last ingredient calls for sour cream, but I tried this instead...
Couldn't even detect a hint of difference... and was like half the calories of real sour cream!! Bonus!

I tried looking online for the link to the recipe, but since it's from the dark ages of 2001... I couldn't find it! Basically you cook the chicken breasts (3-6 pieces based on your family size), mix in a can of cream of chicken soup and 8 oz. of sour cream or Fage, sprinkle with poppy seeds. Before putting it in your oven at 350 for 30 minutes, you cover the top of the mixed chicken with a sleeve of crumbled up ritz crackers that have 2 tbsp. of melted butter mixed in them! Once baked it is really yummy... 'family pleasing' yummy!!!

It is a Lewis favorite, for sure!!! And got us in and out of Open House with time to spare :)))

Always - Abbey

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Creating 'LUCK'

We ran short of time on the actual day of St. Patrick's day, go figure!?! When you run from one soccer game to another all day and the wind has blown you thru what seems like a tornado tunnel, the last thing on your mind is cooking... so we had to create our own day of green, irish eyes 'a smiling, and luck on the morning after St. Pat's Day! How did we do that, you ask?? Well with green pancakes, green milk and all the green sprinkles your hand could shake, of course!!!
Yes... sprinkles do belong on bacon!!!

While the syrup was flowing we took the time to read our "I am Lucky because..." strips out loud and relished the laughs, smiled at the sweet comments and most of all we soaked up the specialness that only our family holds!

Growing up, I think I was someone that truly thought life, happiness, fortune, or being successful happened based off luck or being in the right place at the right time. Now, as I look around the life I am living, I can not say quick enough that I was sorely mistaken! To me, luck is just another, less colorful word for blessings... having good fortune is something that isn't attained by blindly rolling the dice and crossing your fingers! Living a life filled with blessings is about trust, effort, making connections, extending yourself, giving of yourself so that your life can be enriched! You can't attain any sort of true happiness without first being outwardly everything that you want for your self! I know a lot of people have varying definitions of being happy or truly attaining happiness and think they are happy... but to me, my definition of happiness is that feeling that fills the deep part of your belly so much so that your fingers and toes tingle!!
I don't think you can expect to have a full life by just sitting around with your hands open, hoping something will fall your way... who knows how long you will sit there waiting?! You have to work at it, love on it, squeeze it, snuggle it... grasp onto whatever it is you want and hope for and never let go!
That is what our family does anyway... maybe we are a bit strange and over the top, but for us we create our own luck... We are our own beautiful blessings!
This morning, I was shown that maybe... just maybe, some of the stuff we are teaching our boys is seeping into their little minds and hearts! This momma was smiling thru the green sprinkles and syrup for sure by just reading this...
I couldn't have summed up our family's "Luck" better if I had tried :))

After the breakfast of blessings (as I like to call it) was over, all of my boys (and my girl) huddled up to watch some MORE soccer... like between the 3 games we were scheduled to play this weekend wasn't enough! Ha! I guess soccer should have been on one of those "I am Lucky because..." slips!? We sure to watch it, play it and talk about it enough.. sheesh!!! :)))
Here's hoping your breakfasts are filled with blessings, syrup and sprinkles... and maybe some soccer!!
Always - Abbey

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Deep breaths and smiles..

I don't have anything 'important' to write or any events to share... We are on spring break around Casa de Lewis and filling the space so the boys don't wrestle themselves into the ER is the only agenda item on my list of to do's (that and the grocery store at some point)!!! I find it funny that sometimes as much as we long for the days of doing nothing, sometimes those are the hardest days to get thru! Maybe it's that we do better with a full schedule, or that we are just used to running and gunning from the moment we wake up to the moment we lay down!? Either way, I am just trying to take deep breaths and smile as much as possible!

In saying that, I will admit... doing that, taking deep breaths and smiling, isn't always my strongest skill set!! <insert shock and awwww sounds> I am a worrier, a stresser, a yeller, and sometimes a high strung person that doesn't deal well with stress!!! Imagine that... HA!!! It's easy to blog about how great things are, how happy our days have been... most of my facebook posts are of smiles and fun times! But I am also someone who believes, whole-heartedly in honesty and being realistic! So, I promised myself when I started blogging, that I would write about the not so great times too, share openly when our days aren't that awesome and my time hasn't been filled with cooking great meals and crafting, or creating happy memories!! So here it goes...

This week, I have gotten take out and reheated leftovers more that I have cooked... I have turned on the TV/computer more than I have played... I haven't cleaned or even thought about house work... it's just one of those weeks!! The boys have had to be separated in their rooms at times, my hubby hasn't felt good and has been laid up in bed, the dog has stolen her fair share of items that don't belong to her, and I have just wanted to sit in my pjs all day!!! But that's life... being lazy, stressed, out of sorts and disheveled is all part of living your life!! If you didn't have the bad times, you wouldn't recognize when you are smack dab in the middle of the great times!!!

To end, I will leave you with a sweet pic from this week that helps me to smile...
And in the interest of full disclosure.. right after I snapped this pic, little man crashed and burned off his scooter! There were tears, ripped jeans, scrapes, and I think he may have kicked the scooter a couple times!!!
Deep breaths and smiles...
Always - Abbey

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Italian Girl's attempt to stay healthy AND enjoy pasta!

For me to say that being Italian and being a person who tries to eat healthy is an easy combo, is truly a huge understatement!! Heck, being any nationality and trying to eat healthy is difficult...period!
But, I digress... 
I am Italian, and I do love pasta... to be honest, unless I am celebrating with our extended family, I hardly ever cook pasta! I try to stick with grilled chicken, fish, and healthy, low calorie items when choosing dinner options for my little team of four! 
With that said, I am also realistic... 
To be healthy and successful in any nutritional plan, routine, diet... whatever you want to call it, you have to allow yourself splurge nights, or meals/snacks that you enjoy, that may not be all healthy all the time!!! To me and for me, that is how I stay strong, by allowing myself the option to enjoy slightly less than healthy food items! Plus.. as a mom, I know my kids dig pasta, so I want to give them what they like from time to time - and share half their heritage's food with them!!
Here is how I go about mixing our Italian background, and still keep it as healthy as possible:
Spinach Ravioli with sauteed green beans and fresh mushrooms!

The highest calorie item on my plate is obviously the ravioli... but that is ok since I am serving it with fresh veggies!! Pairing good and not so good is the way to go about mixing in your favorite food items when you are trying to be on a healthy diet!!
I got the raviolis in the frozen section in my fav store Aldi!
Compared to meat, mushroom or sausage ravioli, choosing spinach is a good compromise for less calories! Plus, I only put a portion of the serving size on my plate, choosing not to indulge in the calories a full serving brings!

Next I tried out a veggie sauce... and even tho I am Italian, I am not that good of a cook to make my own sauce (forgive me Nani) but I just didn't take the time to put it all together! 
So I went with this..
Very low calories, and low sodium... plus if you look at my plate, I did not cover all the ravioli or over do the sauce!! A little bit did the trick to add flavor and to keep the calories low!!
To spruce up the veggies for our side, I sauteed them in a bit of virgin olive olive and minced garlic..

I love the way the house smelled with all of these scrumious dishes cooking... brings back great childhood memories :)
Nothing better than the smell of sauce (or zugu as we call it) cooking!

So... there you have it! A splurge meal, me embracing my love of Italian food, all done together while keeping my calories for the meal at or under 600!!! A win/win in my opinion!!! 
It was fun to see my kids faces when I served pasta and get the 'what, we aren't at Nani's' look!?!! 
Even a healthy eater can enjoy pasta :))

Always - Abbey

Monday, March 5, 2012

Touches 'O Green

I can't think of a better way to celebrate the changing seasons and a new month, than with little touches of seasonal color and rearranging things around the house!! 
It's the little things that make me happy...

St. Patty's wreath made from scraps and $6 ribbon from Wal-mart...

Newest dinner activity idea... Going to have the kids/hubby write why they think they are lucky and then read them at our St. Patty's dinner..

I already have my #1 reason why I am lucky ready to be written down..
These boys!!! 
They can be crazy, loud and demanding.. but most of all they are our biggest blessing!

Mantle redo/touch up and changed the entry table by the front door..
(shamrock garland handmade by my bestie Julie.. she 'sham'-rocks!!!!)

And lastly, the newest 'quote of the kitchen'...

I am both blessed and lucky, but only because the Grace that is given to me daily!!

Always - Abbey

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ohhh... bring on the SUN!!

The weather has been really awesome around here lately! 
Late afternoon sun, slight breeze...
I just want to bottle it up and save it for mid-July when we are sweating our skin off!!! 
Yesterday was a drop your backpack on the driveway and immediately hop on your bike or scooter or both after school kinda day...
We spent long, sunshiny hours outside playing, riding, and creating fun ways do what boys do best... compete!!!
Sometimes I long for frilly girls who would rather pick flowers and draw loopsy-daisies on the driveway with sidewalk chalk.... WAIT...  no I don't :)) HA!! 
That is so not me... 
I am a 'boy mom' thru and thru! So I did what I do best when my boys start competing and facing off in yet another 'important' sports match.. I got up and refereed (and took pictures)!!!
Let's Get READY to RUMBLE.... 
Sidewalk 'Golf/Baseball' Hockey!!!!
The Face Off...
 There were skilled moves, giggles, a bit of cheating...
 but most of all fun!
Did I mention that when our boys play these 'games' they play as fierce as they would if they were competing in the Olympics?? So, with that said,  there are always tears and some arguing... Big bro doesn't give little bro an inch of slack because he is younger or smaller!! And most of the time little bro doesn't need that inch, but there are times when he buckles and shows that he is only 4...
 (note: the thrown stick on the ground in background, and big bro's wide smile)
I can't bear to see him cry, so I did what any mom/referee would do... 
I called 'high-sticking' on big bro and a free penalty shot for little bro!!
(Oh Ya.. he whipped that ball right past big bro and the tears were gone!!)
(Nice camera shot, if I do say so myself ;))
After that there were some elbows throw in retribution on little bro's part, so I called more fouls and free shots.. Fair is Fair!
Did I mention big bro doesn't give an inch...??

When the sun shines and my boys are playing, that's when all the running around and craziness that engulfs our life seems well worth it! 

Always - Abbey