Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Raspberry Colada

We had a great time in Kansas! The girls did great- especially Franny- and it was really nice to be together as a family and relax (although Bobby relentlessy hit the books every morning we were there at 5 AM. I'm not sure he can sleep past 5 anymore.)
Here's a picture we took of Franny after she insisted on being hoisted up into this tree. It's maybe the best picture I've ever taken of her.

We spent about half our time there just playing outside on my father-in-law's land. It seems like every time we go there Larry is working on something new on the land- a new building, a new animal, etc. Anyway, his latest addition to his property is apple trees, plum trees, and grapevines. I am so excited for next year when his trees start to yield fruit! He planted a McIntosh tree, and as I learned from our good friend Bill Brady (his apple pies are legendary), McIntosh apples are THE BEST to bake with. I can't find them anywhere around here. The roosters totally attack the little kids, and most of us have a theory that the reason they are so mean is because the ratio of roosters to hens is out of control. If I ever saw one attack one of my kids, I'm pretty sure the rooster population on Poppy's land would be reduced by at least one.

Bobby's dad has a pond stocked with what seems like millions of fish and the kids love to swim and go fishing and ride in paddle boats. I was talking with my sister-in-law and heard Bobby scream, "FRANNY!!" and I looked over and she was waist-deep in the pond. She has no fear when it comes to water so we really have to watch her. Most of the time when we were down at the pool all the babies were naked and the older kids were in their underwear. It was so fun. One thing I have learned after joining this family is that it's okay to get dirty, sticky, sweaty, and wet. It's made me a better mother.

The other half of the time we were all hanging out with Bobby's mom and her husband Howard. They were out visiting for the weekend which is why we headed out there. It was so fun to be with them! Everytime we visit Kansas between the months of March and October, we buy a snow cone for every day we are there. There is a man (we'll call him Donald since I don't know if it's right to put his real name on this post) who has perfected the art of snow cone-making. He shaves the ice so fine that you would think you were eating ice cream. He has over 400 flavors to choose from, and adds more every year. Donald works from 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM seven days a week from March - October, with no employees. He does it all himself. Our absolute favorite is Raspberry Colada with cream poured all over it. We usually get a "monster" size of this and share it. We usually try one new flavor each year but we always come back to old faithful. Franny's flavor is Barbie, which is a combination of vanilla, cotton candy, and raspberry, I think. When it hits your lips.... it's so good.

Here we are with my niece Zoe, and here's Bobby holding two delicious snow cones.

Over 400 flavors!

We also played at the park and ate at Bob's Grill, which is one of Bobby's favorite places. They make great pancakes.

Here's some Franny stories from our trip:

Bobby's dad is hilarious. He was leaving to get us sandwich stuff and root beer and he asked all the kids, "Should I get A&W or the cheap crap?" He talks really loud and Franny had a lot of fun with him. Franny is kind of echolalic (repeats a lot of what she hears) and said, "Cheap crap!" so Bobby's dad screams back at her, "CHEAP CRAP?!" So Franny screams back at him, "CHEAP CRAP!!!"

Bobby's dad has a dog named Buster. I really don't like Buster very much. Franny likes Buster, but he growls at her in a very angry and possesive way whenever she gets too close to my father-in-law. Larry yells, "Buster, no!" when he growls like this, so Franny picked that up, too. Every time she saw Buster, or any other dog, she was yelling, "BUSTER, NO!!"

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Whenever Franny has something big coming up, like a trip to California, or some other major change or adjustment, I make her a simple little book with pictures and a story that we read over and over, to prepare her for the event. There are four installments of the Franny series so far: Franny's Christmas in California, Franny goes to School, Nona Comes to Visit, and Franny goes to Kansas. The latest one I'm working on is Franny Goes Potty. I was searching for pictures of Starburst (the candy) so I could include that in her book since that will be one of her reinforcers and I found this picture:

It's a picture of a Mombasa Golden Starburst Baboon Spider. It totally gave me the chills when I first saw it and I keep thinking about it. I have a completely irrational fear of spiders. They freak me out! When I see one in my home, I want it dead immediately and I usually kill it with way more force than necessary. And because I'm so indignant over the spider's intrusion of my domicile, I usually let out some angry final words like, "Die, spider, die!!!" Yet, I love the movie Arachnaphobia. Every once in a while it's on USA or TBS or something, and I have to stop and watch it. I love to be scared. I really enjoy a great scary movie every once in a while. Most of my friends can't stand to sit through a scary movie, and I don't think Bobby minds me saying that he's not particularly fond of them either.

Speaking of phobias, Bobby is scared of snakes. He and I have some great snake stories and I thought it would be fun to share one with you. When we were dating in Utah, we liked to hike different trails from time to time, and sometimes we would go to the hot springs in Spanish Fork.

Well, one afternoon as we were hiking up to the springs, Bobby saw a gardener snake and he freaked out momentarily. I think maybe this was the first time I realized just how much he hated snakes, so I thought I'd have a little fun. I startled him with, "OH MY GOSH!!!" and pointed to the side of the trail as if I had seen a snake. I got the reaction I was looking for, but it came at a price: 12 minutes without Bobby's friendship. Apparently, that was the penance that Bobby found appropriate for my betrayal. He wouldn't hold my hand or talk to me for 12 minutes! I found this amusing, but it made for a really boring walk up to the hot springs, so I learned my lesson. Well, as we were sitting in the hot springs, which sat along side a rushing river, I was looking around and spotted a 4 foot long bright yellow snake across the river from us slithering along the bank. I started to tell Bobby about it, but then reconsidered and sat quietly. He couldn't see the snake because he didn't have his glasses on, but he started to wonder what I was looking at so I told him. All of the sudden, the snake starts fighting the rapids and is heading in our direction. Slow and determined, it crossed the river until it was exactly where we were. (By then of course we were out of the water, with clothes over our swim suits and our shoes on ready to run. I had to beg Bobby to let me take a picture so we could tell our kids and all of you about it.) I wish I had the words to adequately paint a picture of this big yellow snake fighting the water with it's little head poking up. I didn't know it was possible for a snake to accomplish something like that. I wish that I could go back in time with my digital camera and take some footage of this snake's journey across the roaring rapids. It was amazing. I scanned a picture of the snake into my computer so you could see just how big it was. Okay, okay, I may be exaggerating when I say "roaring rapids" and "rushing river," but the water was moving very quickly down these big rocks. It was really impressive. Maybe the snake could smell Bobby's snake fear and wanted to have some fun with us.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Naked Lawn Mowing

We're leaving for Kansas tomorrow to go visit Bobby's family, but I wanted to leave you with something to read and some cute video to watch. Some of you will remember my post a couple weeks ago, when Franny followed Bobby with her lawnmower, catching any spots he may have missed. Yesterday, Bobby came home from studying for boards and took Franny outside with him so she could swim while he mowed the lawn. (We've been letting Franny swim naked lately- yes, we are one of THOSE families. We're sort of hoping it will help us as we try to encourage her to start using the potty.) So as soon as she heard him start up the lawn mower, she jumped out of the pool and ran straight for her toy lawnmower, so she could help out her dad. Bobby said it was so cute. So naturally I had to come out and take some video.

I'm excited to leave for the weekend. We always have a great time when we're down there, but I always have a lot of unnecessary stress when it comes to taking a trip. I thought I was doing okay today, but then when I opened up my washing machine to move the whites into the dryer, I found our brand new can of Febreeze air freshener. What the ? How did that get in there? I know I'm going to miss reading your blogs while I'm gone, but it will be fun to catch up when we get back.

Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp

I was really excited to try this recipe I found for a raspberry rhubarb pie. I decided I was going to try making my first lattice crust. I have the pastry wheel and everything and I have never bothered to try it out. Anyway, I waited too long and some of the rhubarb I had went bad and what I was left with was hardly enough to make a small crisp. It was okay... I'm still going to have to try that pie, but it will most likely be peach later this summer, because I've had enough rhubarb for now. I didn't really follow any one recipe for this. I used the rhubarb crisp recipe from the Everyday Food cookbook along with the peach and blueberry crisp recipe from my new Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook. I just added some fresh raspberries. Crisps are nice because your measurements don't need to be exact like when you're making a pie crust. It was no double crust pie, but it was pretty good.

Project Month Update

I finished another project! It feels so good. I picked out the paper to match the quilts that Bobby's Mom made for the girls. Aren't they SO adorable? Those are little paper dolls on the fabric! They're on the bed because I won't bother hanging them up until we're in our new house. We'll only be here for a couple more months. Ashley was the creative genius behind this project. She made these for Abbey first and guided me through each and every step. Thanks Ash! Also, May is almost over, so I have granted myself an extension for my other three projects, since Franny has a week off of school and we're leaving town this weekend. (Not to mention that I haven't even worked on two of them this month.) So, project month is officially extended to the middle of June... ish.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mr. Pibb + Red Vines = Crazy Delicious

Some of you may remember that I decided to purge my addiction to red vines. I made it a whole month without my beloved red vines and had even stopped thinking about them. My good friend Jill brought over a bag of red vines last night to thank me for a favor I did for her yesterday. (Jill is very supportive, I think she had just forgotten that I was recovering from a very serious addiction.) Timing is everything. I totally fell off the wagon this morning. (Is that the phrase I'm looking for?) This morning when I was trying to get myself dressed to drop Franny off at school, I set Sophie on the bed for a minute and apparently did not keep a close enough watch on her and she crawled right off the edge and fell on her head. I am suffering from some major guilt this morning and that is where the red vines are coming in and doing their job. As for Mr. Pibb, I'm not really a fan, but I will share my newly discovered caffeinated secret with you: I think Diet Dr. Pepper is crazy delicious!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sophie crawling

Sophie just started crawling this past week- one of my goals for today was to get some cute video of her showing off her new skill. It seems like maybe my goal should have been not to talk to my child in such a scary, high-pitched baby voice.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Love that rhubarb

I've got it bad for rhubarb right now. I was flipping through my copy of How to Be a Domestic Goddess and I found a recipe for a rhubarb tart with a mascarpone cheese-like filling and a cream cheese crust. In this recipe, the rhubarb is stewed before placing on the tart which is much different than the rhubarb tart I made earlier this week. I made the crust, went to the store and they only had 2 sad little rhubarb stalks left with none in the back. I had some strawberries and raspberries at home so I came home and made this. I bought some rhubarb at the farmer's market yesterday, so I'm trying to decide what to make next.

Pizza and Rootbeer

Mmmm... I can't resist the combination of pizza and rootbeer, especially when that pizza has pepperoni on it and comes from Papa John's. The Kirksville PJ's has a special every third Saturday for customer appreciation and they sell their large pizzas for a measly $5.99! We mark it on our calendar every month so every third Saturday is pizza night. Well, pizza night was special yesterday because the Sessions, who also observe pizza night, treated us to Papa John's in the park! Thanks for the yummy pizza, Jill and Jordan!

Here's some fun pictures from last night:

Friday, May 18, 2007

Chocolate Stains

Franny was invited to a birthday party for the daughter of some friends of ours. It was scheduled for the middle of the day when Franny is usually in school, but I thought it would be a good idea to pull her out and the school agreed that it would be a good opportunity for her.

From the moment we got there, Franny had her eye on the chocolate cupcakes with fudge-y frosting and sprinkles. It was quite a feat keeping her away from them until after we sang "Happy Birthday" but I managed somehow. I handed her a cupcake and asked her to come and eat it by me- I knew there would be some wiping of hands on clothes and she was wearing her cute Gymboree outfit from grandma. It may come as quite a shock, but the domestic goddess is actually quite inept when it comes to stain removal. Anyway, she took the cupcake out of my hands (rather greedily, I might add, and I think it was even accompanied with a "let go" which she recently learned at school) and ran off to sit with the other girls on a blanket that was spread out.

I couldn't have been happier. In fact, I jumped up and took this picture so I could tell Bobby and all of you about it later. It's great to see all of the improvement in her social skills. I'll take progress anyway I can get it and if that means fiercely scrubbing stains out with Shout, Oxy-clean, or Clorox, or worse: accepting defeat and living with chocolate stains... [sigh].... then so be it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Look who's growing up!

Each of these were taken on the 4th of every month since she was born.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Taste of Yellow (I misunderstood the assignment)

I was checking out some different cooking blogs and came across one called winos and foodies. The owner of this blog organized a blog event called A Taste of Yellow and asked for food bloggers everywhere to bake something yellow in honor of LIVESTRONG Day, which is today.

(LIVESTRONG Day is the Lance Armstrong Foundation's (LAF) grassroots advocacy initiative to unify people affected by cancer and to raise awareness about cancer survivorship issues on a national level and in local communities across the country.)

I'd been planning to make a banana cream pie, but I just read today that if I wanted to participate, I needed to have my blog entry submitted by May 7th. Whoops. I still wanted to participate on my own, so I went ahead and made the pie. I just checked out all the entries. They are very impressive.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Rhubarb Tart

I've been checking out other cooking blogs lately and have discovered a few that put mine to shame! The best one I found is La Tartine Gourmande. She is fabulous. Yesterday when I checked her blog I saw that she made a lovely rustic rhubarb tart and I was inspired to try rhubarb. I had never had it before. The recipe is brilliant! Puff pastry with a crumb mixture of almond flour, fresh ginger, vanilla, and brown sugar topped with rhubarb sticks. I absolutely loved it. Thank you Bea!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day Waffles

It occurs to me that on a blog which serves as kind of an online journal that everyone can read, it would be a great idea to document some of the hilarious things Bobby says, both in and out of consciousness. Bobby is a sleep-talker, and he has said and done some pretty crazy things in his sleep. Saturday night we both fell asleep in the living room watching SNL. I woke up at 2 AM and realized there was some cookies I needed to frost. (Talk about trashy recipes, have you ever had homemade oreos? They are evil! Oh my.) So Bobby heard me get up and he stood up, walked past me and said, "I don't remember getting ready for bed last night," and he kept walking towards the bedroom. I didn't think anything of it until he came back and said, "I didn't get ready for bed last night," and walked back to the hard living room floor, layed down and went back to sleep.

And then of course Sunday was Mother's Day and Bobby did a great job of making me feel loved and appreciated. Actually, Franny and Sophie did, too, although I'm sure they had no clue it was Mother's Day. They both took naps at the same time, which almost never happens, so I actually got to take a nap! Bobby got up really early and made bacon and waffles with maple syrup, fresh whipped cream and bananas. I loved that combo! I think I want that to be our tradition and call them Mother's Day waffles. A Mother's Day miracle: I didn't have to change any stinky diapers (for that I can only thank myself and my awesome rock-paper-scissor skills). After nap-time, we all took a walk together and it was so nice- the weather was perfect. Thank you Bobby for such a wonderful day! I feel so blessed to be a mother and I am so grateful for my beautiful family.


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I am SO ADDICTED to blogging. I just have so much to say lately. I am constantly thinking of stuff to write about and trying to hold myself back! On Friday night we made burgers. I thought I'd share my burger tips with you. I start with a pound of ground chuck in a mixing bowl and add the following:

1-2 Tbs. A-1 steak sauce
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
a few generous shakes of Lawry's seasoning salt

Since I'm such a fan of butter, I also like take a cold pat and hide it in the middle of the patty. Something about keeping the burger nice and moist. However, I skip this step when I'm 10 pounds overweight. It still tastes great. We inherited a grill from the Crook's (THANK YOU JAYNE AND SHAWN!!), but we have yet to purchase a propane tank, so I prepared these in the skillet. In a big pan over medium-high heat, heat up a little olive oil, and add the patties. You want to leave the burger in the pan for at least 5 minutes, so that it can form a skin and you don't destroy the integrity of the burger. Otherwise it might fall apart. I think it's 5 minutes per side for medium rare, and 7 minutes for medium. Also, resist the urge to flatten the burger with a spatula. That releases all the juiciness! Throw some cheese slices on the last few minutes of cooking. I served this burger with carmelized onions.

Also, I like to butter the hamburger buns and broil them for a minute or two so they are nice and toasted.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

I just love days like this

With Franny in school all day every day and just having Sophie at home, I'm usually able to keep up on all the household stuff and reserve Saturdays exclusively for having fun and playing with Franny. Saturdays wear me out, but I love them- especially now that the weather is nice and there is so much we can do. I thought I'd post some pictures and video of all the fun we had. (I think I'm getting carried away with the videos and for that I apologize- it totally contradicts my motto which is: "always leave them wanting more.")

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Before Bobby left to study for finals, he and Franny mowed the lawn. I took some video. She stays out there with him the whole time, following him everywhere and pushing her little toy lawn mower. It is so sweet.

Then we had a playdate with Jill, Alyssa, and Grant. We met at McDonald's for Happy Meals and then we came back to our house to swim. We all had so much fun. (Thank you Bobby for putting off studying long enough to help me get the pool inflated! Believe it or not, I was trying to blow it up myself with my mouth until Bobby rescued me with a hand pump.)

After Sophie's nap we went to the park where Franny played with a friend who just happened to be there with his mom. We headed back home and two of Franny's friends, Gracie and Parker, came over to play while their Mom and Dad went out to eat. They all had a great time in the pool and here's some video of Gracie and Franny dancing. It was so cute. We've always known Franny is a great dancer, but Gracie really surprised us with her sweet moves.

1 Project down, 4 to go

It felt so good to cross one of the items off my "Project To-Do List" yesterday. I made scrapbook pages for my mom and Bobby's mom for mother's day and then I scanned them into my computer so I could show you all. I'm no Ashley Pace, but I think they turned out pretty cute. I'm going to save this as a draft until I have heard they received their Mother's Day packages. I gave them each four pages- I hope they like them!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Cooking Club- Mexican Theme

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Last night was cooking club and I tried a new dessert recipe and I LOVED it. It was so simple and so good. I bought two cartons of Haagen-Daz, Dulce de Leche and Vanilla, and served it with toasted coconut, peanuts, and a cinnamon dark chocolate sauce. It was seriously delicious. I also brought my shredded beef tacos which are delicious also, but I didn't remember to take a picture. (Besides, tacos don't make for very interesting pictures and I feel like I've been making a lot of tacos lately.)


No, not ABBA, the beloved Swedish(?) band who charmed us all with hits like "Dancing Queen" and "Fernando." I loved ABBA in high school. I admit I still listen to them sometimes. The picture below was taken on a cruise that we went on with Janelle and Michael two years ago. Janelle and I are striking a classic ABBA pose. I made her do it.

So what does ABA have to do with the band ABBA? Nothing, I just felt like writing about ABBA. ABA is Applied Behavior Analysis. It is the type of therapy Franny is getting at school. I've had lots of friends and family members ask me what it is, so I thought I'd blog a little about our experience with Franny and include some links for those who might be interested in learning a little more about it.

ABA is the most widely accepted treatment for autism. We have been SO pleased at what it has been able to pull out of our daughter. She started receiving this therapy in our home at age 2 1/2. At that time, she had about 15-20 words and very intense negative behaviors. I had given up trying to run errands with Franny, and we were basically just staying inside. If we did dare to go out, we knew we could pretty much count on her making a very big scene (screaming, kicking, scratching, etc.). Within a few weeks of starting her ABA program, Franny's behaviors had gone way down, and she learned how to count to 10. She also acquired quite a few words very quickly. Since then we continued to see improvements. And now we see progress daily; a lot of them are gradual and very small- for example, yesterday when she would say "bus" when she saw a big yellow bus headed towards the school. Yesterday, orange juice was simply called "juice." Today when I picked her up from school, she said "school bus" about 5 times, and when we got home she said, "I want orange juice." It is great to hear her putting words together on her own. With the home program, she had a wonderful team of implementors, mostly Truman students, working with her for 20 hours a week under the direction of a talented and very knowledgable consultant from MU named Melinda. On Franny's first birthday she started school at the Early Childhood Program through the school district here in town. She now attends school from 8-3 everyday and has someone who works with her 1:1 all day. Melinda is still over Franny's case and helped with the transition into school. I trust her completely and I am so glad to have her. Also, Franny just LOVES one of her paras named Chrissy. She is so good with Franny. We love her school and the people who work with her so much that we are not willing to leave Kirksville and pull her away just yet. So Bobby will be doing his rotations here and then we may move to St. Louis in a year. We feel so blessed to be in this area where Franny is getting so much attention and intervention. It astounds me that we were led to this sort of random town for medical school. Please don't misunderstand me- we love it here, even aside from Franny's school. I know that Heavenly Father led this family here not only for Bobby's education, but for Franny's as well. We are so blessed to be here.

Here's an example of Franny's ABA therapy. She is working with Chrissy here in the video. Chrissy says: "I love that she'll work for a crumb." I wanted to explain that Franny works for a small piece of cookie as a reinforcer to perform the tasks the para requires of her. I told the school I was worried about sugar intake so they are REALLY GREAT about limiting the amount of sweets she's getting. This program is called "Imitating Actions" and Chrissy is asking Franny to pick up the pitcher, pretend to pour its contents into a cup and then pretend to drink it. When Franny completes the task, she gets a bite of cookie and applause from everyone in the room. This footage was taken at our monthly consult when Melinda comes to watch Franny and help monitor her progress.

Here's some video of Franny walking into school this morning. It's probably really boring footage for anyone other than me, but I just think she looks so cute and small walking into school with her backpack.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Scones with Cherry and Lime

I signed up to bring a salad to a church activity tonight, but I'm bringing scones instead. I don't have anything on hand to make a salad/side dish, and I can't show my face in the grocery store until Thursday at least because I have been going WAY too often lately. So, today at the gym I was totally NOT paying attention during step aerobics and kept doing "figure 8's" when I was supposed to be doing "turn steps," because I had this great idea for a new scone concoction using ingredients I already had on hand! Lemon Blackberry Scones with a hint of ginger. So I started mixing the scones in the food processor and added the fresh blackberries at the very end, so they wouldn't incorporate into the batter too much and end up pureed. Well, it didn't work and what I ended up with was purple play-dough, essentially. So then I decided to fall back on old faithful: Scones with Cherry and Lemon. But then I was out of lemons, so I had to improvise with a lime. The result was delicious! I'm still going to try the blackberry scones again, only I'll add them by hand by sort of kneading them in.
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