Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Grilled BLT salad


Has anyone started wondering if I still cook anymore? Ha, so it's just Lance that wonders if I still cook? At this stage of our life, less is more and repetition happens. We have standbys that will please everyone and things I know I can make that won't make me want to throw up once I smell the finished product (food smells are still bothersome). I really like summer and the minimally prepared seasonal foods that go with them. Lance tolerates salad reasonably well and Lucan, well, not so much. But in the case of this BLT salad, I was able to deconstruct it some where Lucan was eating "parts" of the salad along with us. And in the eyes of Dinner: A Love Story, that is a dinner win.

Salad
2 romaine lettuce hearts, cut in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup cherry tomato halves
1 cup cooked largely diced bacon
1 cup seasoned croutons
1 medium avocado, skin and pit removed, and diced

Dressing:
1/3 cup mayonnaise (you could also sub plain greek yogurt too)
¼ cup milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
½ teaspoons garlic powder (the original recipe calls for 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic and that was waay too much)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Heat the grill on medium high.
Brush the romaine lettuce with olive oil.
Place the romaine lettuce on the grill, cut side down for 3 minutes, then flip it to the other side and grill for 3 minutes (really watch your lettuce - if your grill runs hot, you don't want to burn your salad. Burnt lettuce is as about tasty as charred paper. I speak from experience.)
Plate the lettuce.
Top the grilled romaine lettuce with the tomatoes, bacon, croutons, and the avocado.
To make the dressing, whisk the mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, garlic powder, and pepper together until smooth.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad.
The best bites are the ones that include a little bit of everything on them. And of course, no burnt lettuce :) For inquiring minds, Lucan ate bacon, croutons and some avocado. That's kind of a balanced meal, right?
 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lucan's 3 Year Milk & Cookies Birthday Party



Birthday Par-tay Recap

This year marks the third birthday party I’ve thrown for Lucan. As a reminder, we’ve had a) a crabby themed party b) a Hungry Caterpillar themed party and c) and now a Milk and Cookies party. I figured this was the last year I really got to “choose” a theme for the party so I milked it (ha! Did you catch that!?) for all it’s worth. That and I got really lucky in the fact that my friend Molly had done a Milk and Cookies party for her son and let me borrow a ton of things from her. Where would I be without my friends? Nowhere NEAR as blessed :)

 
Molly loaned me all of the milk bottles, the cookie containers and shared the printable files that weren’t personalized. The bottles were definitely one of the cutest things about the party; Molly had asked around on facebook if there was anyone who had extra Starbucks Frappucino bottles and hit the jackpot when she found a friend who was addicted to the stuff. 
 
I purchased an art file off of Etsy for the party invitations and then had them printed at a local printer here in town. Easy-peasy. The rest of the printables I printed off a color printer and then cut them out in my "spare time" (spare time meaning the Wed night before the party at 10:30 PM).  The pennant banner was a last minute addition. I printed off the individual triangles on just regular paper because I didn’t want to go through the hassle of going and printing them at a professional printer or purchasing cardstock. I made a slightly larger triangle and traced it onto paper bags I got from the grocery store! Each paper bag pennant triangle served as the backing for the colored pennant. I used glue dots to adhere the two layers together, checked with my mom to make sure she had some twine, punched holes and called it good. And it was the item (besides the milk bottles) that everyone commented on at the party. 

We served four different kinds of cookies, two kinds of milk (white and chocolate) and my mom had one of those giant chocolate chip cookie cakes made for Lucan. Lucan loved his cookie cake, especially licking off all the frosting and not eating a bite of the actual cookie. Silly boy. I made monster cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies and hot chocolate cookies. I purchased the chalkboard clothes pin labels off of etsy with a credit I won in a giveaway. My momma, the saint, made peanut butter cookies and graciously hosted the party. One of the nice things I’ve found that if I’m having “family” only parties is that if I have them at my parents’ house I don’t have to make a full meal for everyone. And I don’t have to clean. 


 

Another kind friend, Kelly, loaned me the glass drink dispenser for the chocolate milk. Chocolate milk was definitely the crowd favorite. The straws were from Molly. Like I said, I have great people in my life. 
 
Last minute party details included assembling the pennant banner, taping on the milk bottle wrappers and adding decorative paper to the cookie containers. If there isn’t a ton of last minute things the night before the actual party, it isn’t a Kara party. Lance says that he’s just come to expect it out of me :) I think he'd appreciate if there wasn't last minute stuff, but we don't always get what we want! 

For Lu's first birthday party, I made a laminated "happy birthday" and "lucan" pennant banner and I reuse them year to year. I forgot to make a welcome sign so we hung the Lucan pennant banner outside. Just in case people were confused.



No birthday party is complete without a few construction themed birthday presents.





It was at this point my really nice DSLR Nikon unexpectedly up and died on me. I was happy that I had captured most of the party up until then, but I still wasn't pleased. I naively thought that if I took out the batteries that it would fix itself. I was wrong. I ended up working with a local photography retail store to have them mail it into Nikon in which I received a bid of almost $300 to fix my camera. I wasn't pleased as the repairs basically equaled the value of the actual camera. Annoying.

Anyway, I missed getting to shoot everyone's expressions as Lucan opened up his final present: ours. This present included his "big brother" t-shirt and our announcement that Lucan was about to be upgraded to big brother this December.

On Lu's actual birthday, he was pretty sick with strep and an ear infection so he got to hang out with Mom and Dad. We had thought it would have been fun to take him to Chik-Fil-A or out for ice cream as his special birthday treat, but it just didn't happen. Instead we stuck around the house and had his special ice cream sundae at home. Not nearly as fun in my eyes, but fun in Lu's eyes, which is the most important thing. This boy loves his ice cream!




Tuesday, July 1, 2014

30 Things I'm Thankful for in June



Do you ever have one of those months that just feel incredibly blessed? June was definitely one of those months for us. With the official announcement of baby #2, a visit from my college bestie and her family and a weekend trip away, I just feel so lucky to have celebrated this month.

  1. Baby announcement that I’m due with our second blessing December 4. Watching my facebook feed EXPLODE!
  2. Celebrating Lucan’s June 3 (golden birthday!) birthday among family.
  3. Recognizing that June 3 is also the date I first met my parents as I came over from Korea.
  4. 1.5 days of vacation spent with Mandy and Aaron and their two delightful kiddos. Lucan loves their daughter, Bridget.
  5. Lucan had his first sleepover with Bridget in his room. Lucan slept in his bed and Bridget slept in the pack-n-play in his room. Poor B, I think Lu was bouncing off the walls and B was just looking at him incredulously like he was a hyper-active nut.  But Lu talked about it for days afterwards.
  6. My parents exceeding blessed us by watching Lucan while we snuck off to Kansas City for the weekend.They also planted flowers, weeded, trimmed hedges, did laundry, ironed and cleaned. My parents are fantastic.
  7. We picked 22 pounds of strawberries. We probably shouldn’t have done so many. Lance has told me previously that I have a knack of taking something fun and taking all the fun out of it by going over the top. We made jam.  A lot of jam. Freezer jam and beautiful strawberry jam in jelly jars. Making 22 pounds of strawberries, into jam results in a massive amount of sugar and pectin. Let’s just say this jam was not cheap nor is it especially good for you. But tasty and jewel-like it is!
  8. Volunteering at VBS. It’s a fun time, every time.
  9. First parades of the summer: Grimes and Johnston = candy central. Lucan also got his first ferris wheel ride, which he thought was great. It should be great, for $8! Talk about rip off!
  10. The garden is coming up green and healthy. Nothing has rotted off. Yet.
  11. Attending my friend’s essential oil workshop and winning a bunch of freebies!
  12. Generous friends. We're being gifted a really nice wagon by some friends who no longer have use for it.
  13. Seeing my friend’s faith played out as she watches her dad slowly say goodbye to this world.
  14. Celebr-Asian! Lucan and I like to celebrate our heritage. We let Lance tag along with us :)
  15. Movie dates with a good friend to see The Fault in Our Stars. A very good movie version of the book.
  16. Homemade bread and strawberry jam as a treat. Delicious. 
  17. Wal-Mart having a sale on Bomb Pops (pregnancy craving!) 
  18. Finally getting our winter wardrobes transitioned into storage.
  19. Lucan got really nice gifts from our family at his birthday party. He’s a lucky little boy. And he had a ton of fun playing with all his cousins.
  20. Sunday school picnic at a friend’s house. So many people and children, so much fun.
  21. Lucan passed his three-year wellchild check up with flying colors. Our precious pediatrician said that Lucan was the best three year-old she had all week. Go Lulu!
  22. Our sump pump. This might strike you as something odd to be thankful for, but with the torrential rains we’ve experienced in the last three weeks, our house would have flooded without it.
  23. Friends and bloggers who made restaurant suggestions to us for Kansas City. We ate our fair share of yumminess!
  24. Loving our new pastor and his energy filled sermons.
  25. Long, quality conversations with Lance about life.
  26. Lucan says “thank you” for the funniest things – like washing his beloved blankie or having clean underwear to put on. I suppose Lu is teaching me to be thankful for the little things :)
  27. Lu also likes to say “momma got a baby in her tummy. I got a baby in my hands.” And then he mimics rocking a baby in his hands. (Yes, I’m the mom who thinks her child is the most adorable thing ever.)
  28. Elastic waistbands. I don’t know why so many pregnant women deny themselves the comfort of stretch. Who really cares if you wore pre-pregnancy pants until your third trimester if you are completely miserable? Ah, the wisdom of second pregnancies :) 
  29. Fresh garden food!
  30. The sweet, kind stranger who let us budge in line with him at Oklahoma Joes in Kansas City and save us an extra 30 minute wait.

It was exceedingly HOT at Celebr-Asian. Yikes.

Lucan was thankful for his balloon sword.

Sweet, sweaty cuddles.

Chik-Fil-A is one of a kind. They came out to everyone in the drive through line and handled them little samples of their ice cream. Yum!
Sweet friends and Lucan's pool. Bridget and Tristian were a little hesitant. Not Lucan!

Both were a little cold after their swim.
How adorable are they? Seriously, arranged marriage.

My college bestie, Mandy.

Our husbands are two peas in a pod. They get a long exceedingly well considering Mandy and I just usually leave them at home and tell them to figure something out :)

Parade selfie. Lucan was getting tired of waiting in the hot sun after 30 minutes.

Our strawberry adventures. Next year is probably not in the cards. This is only one of two flats we picked. Everyone was over strawberries at this point.

Ferris wheel ride. Lucan talked about it for days afterwards.

Lucan at his three year well-child check. It seems ironic that one day later he got pink eye and a cold. You should note that Lance is concerned that the mirror is going to fall off and kill Lucan.

I let Lucan push a cart at the grocery store. I'm going to live to regret that decision.
  1. Silly boy singing a "Happy Birthday"message to our friend Ron.

    Mowing. Daddy's big helper.


    This was the best family picture we could manage at Lucan's birthday party. At least we tried :)

    Lucan loves opening presents, especially with a little help from his cousins!

    First garden produce of the year! Green pepper for the win!
    A fun Citrus Lane box this month. Lu devoured his Plum Organic snacks, has enjoyed his new puzzle, and thinks his blueberry soap is awesome. We also got a wet bag for swim clothes, etc. which I'm sure will come in handy! The markers and activity book are a little mature for him, but it will be a good someday activity.

    I rocked supper with grilled romaine BLT salads. I'll post the recipe later!

    Happy, well-rested parents in Kansas City! Parents deserve a mini-break at least once a year.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Haze of First Trimester




As I’m sitting here, dreaming of a place that includes a soft pillow and a fuzzy blanket, all I can think about is how I could possibly sneak in a nap today. I think that basically sums up my thoughts about the first trimester of my second pregnancy so far. TIRED. In need of rest. 

I spent the first seven weeks not really being certain if I was pregnant or not. Yes, I did have a positive pregnancy test but it was two years expired. Being cheap (which in hindsight was really, really stupid) I didn’t want to shell out the extra money to take another test and figured my OB would be able to tell me a yes or no. At this point I wasn’t overly exhausted and I didn’t have any lower back pain like I had with Lucan. So I wasn’t convinced that I was really pregnant or not. 

While I have had a relatively easy pregnancy so far (no severe nausea or vomiting), my body takes a bit to adjust to growing a baby. I have weird food things. I don’t like most food smells. I have crazy dreams. My face doesn’t glow – it just breaks out. Lance says I snore more. I don’t believe him. My balance is askew – I keep toppling over during yoga class. 

My food tendencies are very similar to when I was pregnant with Lucan. All meat smells make me gag. Eggs and egg smells make me run in the opposite direction. I can actually handle the thought of barbeque this time around which surprises me. I’ve been eating a lot of popsicles, namely Bomb Pops. For some reason they taste AMAZING. I want light, light, light. Nothing heavy or hearty.
I’ve actually switched to tea right now instead of coffee. It’s not really a caffeine choice; it’s more of a taste preference. But based on my exhaustion, maybe I should be keeping on with the caffeine! 

Life is a mess. Lance has had to pick up some of the slack and I’ve just decided to not care. So yes, our house is not picked up and there’s almost two months of ironing. I’ve put a ban on wearing anything that wrinkles. When I pick Lucan up from daycare I plop him down in front Curious George and pass out for 24 minutes. For Mother’s Day I’ve asked for a pedicure and for someone to come and clean our house. I'm fairly certain you could get this for any mom and they’d be happy. 

My doctor appointments have been uneventful. Which I appreciate. When it comes to ob/gyn appointments, no news is good news. We had a scare with Fifth’s Disease, which Lucan didn’t end up coming down with, but they still did a blood draw for at my last appointment. Disappointing because I strongly dislike having my arm poked for blood. (My strong dislike could stem from passing out in my ob’s office when trying to pay my copay or passing out at work during a health screen. I know from past history to chug water ahead of time and make sure I lay down and warn the phlebotomist about my prior experiences.) 

Next month we’ll find out the baby’s gender, which I’m really excited about. With Lucan we had a big family brunch and did a gender reveal party, but I’m not sure if we’ll do all that again. Lance has said that second children get no love at all. This coming from a second child. J If you ask Lucan if he wants a brother or a sister, his answer will depend on the day. Sometimes it’s a sister, sometimes it’s a brother. 

Lucan definitely knows that he’s getting sibling. He unexpectedly announced it to my parents the day before we were telling the whole family at Lu’s birthday party. I heard his sweet voice coming from the next room telling my dad “mommy’s gonna have a baby.” And my dad replying with “what? say that again Lucan.” I had an “oh crap” moment and figured the cat was out of the bag. That just goes to show, you can’t trust a three year-old with your secrets :) 
 
We told the rest of our family at Lucan’s birthday party. We saved our gift for last and Lu pulled out a “big brother” t-shirt along with a few other things. It was fun to be able to tell the majority of our family at one time. As far as the rest of the world, we’ve slowly been rolling the information out to people as we saw them and finally went public on facebook. It’s really fun to see the outpouring of love and support from all people. It takes a village to raise a child – or just 200 of your closest facebook friends!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Lucan's 3 Year Birthday Letter



Dearest Lucan,

I’ve been A mom and YOUR mom for three whole years now. That seems unfathomable. You astound and amaze me. You are smart, have an excellent memory and aptitude for direction (inherited from your daddy, not me), love routine and are perceptive. Sometimes we underestimate you and then you remind us of what you are capable of. You’ve inherited my elephant-like memory and have a knack for remembering uncanny details, like the names of the boys of two daycares gone by and the name of a little boy you’ve only met once. That’s better than your daddy, who doesn’t remember their names. 

I hope that someday you understand that while sometimes you exhaust me and try my patience, I have nothing but fierce momma love for you. I will always be your biggest cheerleader and there for you when you need a defender. Trust me; if there is something that I learned from my own dad, it’s how to be your child’s defender. I pray that someday you too will be a defender, being firm in your own beliefs and standing up for the downtrodden. The world could use a few more people with strong convictions and morals. 

You have your own ideas about right and wrong. Lu, hold onto those things. It mine and daddy’s job to teach the difference between the two, but it will be your job to cling to those things when you are older.  And just a head’s up: adults will be less willing to go to time out when you’re older.

Hold onto Jesus. Your parents we are full of holes and cracks and, I’m afraid to say, at some point we will let you down. But guess what? Jesus won’t let you down. Ever. 

This past year you’ve experienced what the death of a great grandmother feels like and I think to some extent you understand what death means. You understand there some owies can’t be healed with a Band-Aid and a kiss. You have a heart for people and a compassion for those who hurt. This will aid and hurt you in life. It is your choice on how you use this gift. 

These past three years have been a whirlwind of laughter and tears. Keep on little man. My littlest love, it is my privilege and honor to be your mom. Happy birthday dear one. 

Love, 

Mom

*Photos courtesy of Katie Evans Photography