Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Taco Fiesta Chicken Bake

Tonight I was so excited... I tried a new recipe... and it's fun to say!

Taco Fiesta Chicken Bake.

Say it.


Okay... Taco Fiesta Chicken Bake.

Now, say it with a Mexican accent...

out loud... again...

Taco Fiesta Chicken Bake.... ole!

It was easy.... good... and did I mention easy?

The best part... you can make it the night before and put it in the refrigerator so all you have to do is pop it in the oven and bake it!

Here's the recipe... try it... you'll like it.

2 cans diced tomatoes with zesty mild green chilis, undrained ( I used 2 cans of tomatoes and 1 can of green chilis)
1/4 cup taco sauce - I forgot this but it needed it so I don't recommend skipping
3 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 16oz can refried beans
1/2 cup sour cream
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
3 cups shredded cheese
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup sliced ripe olives

1. spray 13x9 glass baking dish with spray. In large bowl, combine tomatoes and taco sauce, mix well. stir in chicken. In med bowl, combine refried beans and sour cream, mix well.

2. Spread 1 cup chicken mixture in bottom of sprayed baking dish. Top with 4 uncooked noodles, breaking to fit if necessary. Spread with half the bean mixture and 1 1/2 cups chicken mixture. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheese and half of onions and olives.

3. Layer 4 more noodles, remaining bean mixture, 1 1/2 cups chicken mixture and 1 cup cheese. Top with remaining 4 noodles, chicken mixture, onions, olives and cheese. (Be sure top noodles are covered) cover with foil, spray foil with cooking spray and put sprayed side down. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake uncovered lasagna for 50 minutes. Uncover baking dish, bake and additional 18-22 minutes or until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro. If desired, garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream, chopped tomato, and shredded lettuce.

serves 8

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Happy Birthday Emily!

For a mom, each of your child's birthday's bring a whole host of memories along with it. You seem to remember strange things though.... and each child is different.

This morning, Shawn and I were reminiscing about 8 years ago today, when Emily was born. He remembers watching the Howie Mandell Show in the hospital room. The first and only time he had seen the show.... and I remember having small, irritating, sometimes strong, contractions while he was watching television.

Emily was induced. I had pneumonia for two weeks prior and I had to have weighed about a million pounds and I was sooooo ready to have her. I was excited to be induced, but nervous about the pain! I remember having had a conversation with my doctor a few weeks prior. I told him that I didn't have any drugs with the other kids, did it all natural. But, that was years ago, I was older now, it had been 7 years since I had a child, and didn't care about being tough, I wanted all the drugs possible!

We also at that time talked about what this baby was. I already had three daughters so I promptly and matter of factly told the doctor that it had BETTER be a boy. And if for some reason it wasn't a boy, I'd take a girl with red curly hair. He said "I'll do what I can"... and chuckled.

We had an ultrasound when I was pregnant and they told us that it was an 80% chance that it was a girl. Shawn saw the picture of the ultrasound and named her Emily. I fought it...thinking we still had a 20% chance it was a boy. Of course, the ultrasound tech most likely just said 80% because she knew we had 3 girls at home already.

So, the morning of the delivery, typical of me, I did my hair and makeup and got ready to be induced. I even put on lipstick. We started early, around 8am, and it took a while to get going. I was only in labor for a short time- a couple hours - before the pains got stronger. I was beginning to get quite uncomfortable and the doc informed me that shortly after 11 or so I could have the intrathecal (I am pretty sure I slaughtered the spelling of that word). He gave me a shot in my back and told me that it would only last 3-4 hours so he'd check on me in a while and make sure I was doing okay. I knew that as soon as I dilated to 5, the baby would be there in a matter of minutes and I told him that. He was unsure (I had a different doctor for the other three girls) and he decided he'd go home and come back and check on me later. I told him not to go too far as it wouldn't be long. He smiled and "knew better".

Let me tell you.... that shot worked. I was relaxed and comfortable... laughing... having a good old time. The nurse came in and checked me shortly after 11:30 and said "do you feel any pressure?" I said...oh not a lot ...maybe some. The baby was crowning and she needed to get the doc in there right away. I almost chuckled. This delivery was so much different than any of the other three.

It was 12:04pm when the baby was born. The first words were "It's a Girl" and the second sentence was... "oh my gosh...she has red hair, and I think it's curly!".

So, that's the story of our Little Red M. She has been a bundle of joy in our lives. We have completely enjoyed being given the chance to be her parents. She has so much love and so much joy and energy. Her personality is fun and she never has to be entertained...

At age 8 her favorite things are her video camera and her cd player. She wants to be a Rock Star when she grows up or a movie star on the Disney Channel. She could totally do it! She loves to dance and sing and make up songs. She loves crafts and anything Chinese.

Her aunt gave her a Chinese dress from Chinatown a couple of years ago and when her sister went to China last year, she brought back a few real Chinese things. So, her birthday party this year was going to be a Chinese party.... except that there is terrible ice storm now and a Blizzard on it's way.... so China will have to wait until a later date. We will be iced and snowed in today with enough chinese food and birthday cake to last us days...possibly even weeks. :)

Happy Birthday Rock Star! I love you!

Monday, February 19, 2007


Shawn's bro Shelly was in the hospital. He has pneumonia.

But, he's home now (and I hear he has a bunch of "STUFF") and doin much better.

Say a little prayer for him as he continues to get better.

Here's a photo of him and the dog we got him...hey! every guy needs a dog in the hospital!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


I found this I AM at another blog and thought I'd do it. Everyone does the "I AM FROM" one and I really liked this one a lot... so here you go.

I Am
I am the baby born in San Jose to Jim Senior with a love for cool stereos, good music, and fast cars and Charlotte who drinks black coffee and has roses in the backyard where lizards climb the wall, who had three other children together and one other already and plenty of room for more love. I was born with my two front teeth popping out already. The baby of the family, and the spoiled one, says my siblings.

I am the child who played Barbies and hopscotch and neighborhood hide and seek yelling “Olly Olly Oxen Free”
Who loved Cinderella and daydreaming and riding bike and chasing the ice cream truck every Saturday afternoon while dad washed the car.
Who stored mom’s leftover makeup in my treasure box and pretended to be a teenager in the old abandoned car in the backyard.
Who dreamed of being the princess in a fairy tale and being swept off her feet by her night in shining armor and never thought she would ever be forgotten.
Who sat in the back of the VW Bug as dad drove screamin down the crooked street of San Francisco. Who loved French fries and dill pickles, and who was lovingly called Wiener.
Who lived through a divorce with a few scars and still chooses to honor
her father and mother and step-parents.

I am the teenager who loved Prince and the Go Gos, REO Speedwagon, Chicago, and went to a Quiet Riot Concert just for the experience.
Who slept in a single bed with my best friend every weekend at her house or mine even though we couldn’t fit and got in trouble countless times for sneaking out.
Who wore genie pants and leggings and oxford shirts and loved friendship pins and hated hated hated moths and bats.
Who borrowed friends clothes and put on makeup for hours.
Who had birthday overnighters and froze our bras and played spin the bottle truth or dare.
Who dreamed of being an opera singer and knew she would change the world.

I am the woman who fell in love with Jesus and then Shawn.
Who married the love of her life at the young age of 20.
Who loves her children immeasurably.
I am the one who still loves makeup and fussing with my hair, singing and dancing and writing long letters and notes and goes crazy if I have to draw a picture of anything.
Whose moments of perfect bliss come when drinking coffee with flavored creamer in the sunny warm kitchen in the wee hours of the morning while reading the Word of God.

I am the bookkeeper and organizer who desires neatness and organization and the volunteer who wants to serve.
I am the mom who loves to cook and wouldn’t touch a mushroom or fish if it were the last food on earth.. and who can’t make a piecrust to save my life.

I am the sister of Todd, Tammy, James, Jackie, and Cindy who each hold a special place in my heart like none can imagine. And the sister in law to Shera, Shelly, Shanda, whose friendships and love I treasure greatly. And the daughter-in-law of Barth and Marge, who I admire, respect, cherish.

I am the woman with a dry sense of humor and makes her family laugh with her dancing, who knows more silly songs than many others can claim to know.
I am the person who hides Your Word in My Heart so that I might not sin against You O Lord… and then still falls.

I am the woman who desperately desires to make a difference in lives and leave a long lasting legacy, and never lets go of the present and holds on to the past, in only a good way.
Who longs to learn to take breathtaking photos...and never forget the incredible memories and things God has done in my lifetime.

I am the person who dreams of walking the streets of Gold and asking God silly questions and is grateful for the grace and mercy and forgiveness of my Heavenly Father
and who stands in intense intercession for all of my earthly family and friends so they will join me as we hear thousands and thousands of angels singing
Holy is the Lord.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Love - The Message

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.

Love doesn't strut,

Doesn't have a swelled head,

Doesn't force itself on others,

Isn't always "me first,"

Doesn't fly off the handle,

Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn't revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies.

Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright!

We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation:

Trust steadily in God,

hope unswervingly,

love extravagantly.

And the best of the three is love.

haleigh photos

Happy Day After Your Birthday Haleigh! I can't believe you AREN'T a TEENAGER anymore!

Monet's Garden



Omaha Beach

Kitties Kitties Kitties...

Check out Haleigh's blog here. Leave a comment...maybe it will encourage her to POST SOMETHING NEW!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Haleigh

You can read here about some of her story.

In honor of Haleigh's 20th Birthday, I share 20 memories I have of Haleigh...

1. colic.... what mother LIKES that word? I was a new mom and hadn't ever even really babysat much as a teenager. She cried and cried and cried. If it wasn't for Gramma Marge, I'd never have made it...

2. baby babble with cousin Jenna..... they are about a year apart, and even at 2 and 1, they talked and talked and talked. I remember the two girls babbling together just as if it were yesterday.

3. drawing. She was the only one in her pre-school class at age 3 that could draw every detail of her self-portrait. Should we have known then she would be an art major?

4. the ponytail on the top of her head. That thing drove me crazy. When she started school, she insisted on doing her own hair....and for at least an entire year, it was that ponytail on top of her head.

5. frogs. I don't remember how old they were... somewhere between K-3 grade, she and Phillip found a bunch of frogs at his pond and brought them home to our swimming pool. They didn't last long, but they were fun to catch and play with.

6. the chicken. Her first very own pet was a chicken she caught at the fair. We were SURE she couldn't catch one. She had her eye on one and ran straight at that thing. Chased it down until she caught it. We were dumbfounded. What were we going to do with a chicken? We put it in our garage and kept it there for a couple of days. Then, we found good ol Keith and Chris... they rescued us from the chicken. A while later, we went out to their house and she wondered where it was. I wonder whatever happened to that chicken... :)

7. Derek and Craig. The neighborhood boys who were potty trained right in our backyard. Childhood friends who they played and played and played together. They had so much fun and so many fights. I wish I had written down some of those days together... and recorded them in my brain forever. Although I am sure Haleigh will never forget them.

8. witnessing at school. I remember in 5th grade Haleigh came home and said they(she and hannah her best friend) led someone to the Lord at recess at school. They were so excited... little evangelists.

9. lipstick. She loved lipstick almost as much as me. At age five, she could put lipstick on perfectly every time. A chip off the old block.

10. the cubby in the corner. She had a desk in the old house that was built strangely and it had a deep cubby in the back of it. she would hide in that cubby and pretend it was a fort.

11. "benducing".... she could never pronounce this word and she taught her little sisters to say it wrong. It's supposed to be "introducing".

12. words. Haleigh-language we called it. I think it started when she would mis-pronounce things and we thought it was so cute we never corrected her. She still does it. It's still cute.

13. Rockin Robin. One of the first piano songs she memorized was Rockin Robin. She could play Rockin Robin like it was nobody's business. Seriously. She was a pro at that. Can you still play that Hal?

14. selling pinecones. Does every kid go through this stage? She would sell pinecones for poor people. (which was probably us at the time)

15. "Dee"- that was what she called her pacifier. She would say "I want dee".... until one day when we were driving down the road and she threw dee out the window. That was it. I was finished with it and dee was never heard of again.

16. Playwright. haleigh was the queen of writing plays as the kids were growing up. She was writer, director, actor, special music... you name it. It's a good thing she had so many sisters to be in them! :)

17. Bus People. On the first day of kindergarten, Haleigh came home and said "I want to be a BUS PEOPLE!". Apparently, the bus people got to line up first and they were LUCKY.

18. Riding her bike. She learned to ride her bike with the neighbor. We have a classic video of one of her first few rides when she was going fast and ran smack into a rope on a tree and wiped out. We could have won a million with that video. Maybe we should at least get it on youtube huh?

19. Worship. Haleigh has often shared how she feels called to be a worship leader or lead worshipper in life. She has an incredible gift for it. I don't know if its just because she's my daughter or what... but when I hear her leading worship, it is so easy for me to enter into worship and I find myself lost and blessed by her beautiful voice.

20. The last day of kindergarten I picked her up from school and when we got into the car, I burst into tears. She asked me why and I said "mommy is just sad because you are growing up so fast. For some reason, realizing that kindergarten was over was one of those "mom" moments for me. My baby was moving on the actual full day school and I didn't want to see her grow up.

Through the years, I have seen some amazing things that God is doing in Haleigh's life. She was an amazing child who has grown to be an amazing woman. I find myself at times wishing I could reverse time and go back to that small child and hold her one more time... and just let the world stand still as I memorize the smell of her hair and the breathtaking memories a mom holds in her heart. And yet, I wouldn't want to let go of the experiences we have had growing and watching her grow. God is doing an amazing work in her heart and her life and He has incredible plans for her future.

haleigh, you are beautiful. I am blessed to be your mom and to share not only this life with you, but the life to come. I love you so much.

Happy Birthday.

Friday, February 09, 2007

quick post

Just so I can say I did, I'm blogging a quick note.

Just as the posts before say, this is our birthday season. Shawn's day on the 5th, sister Tammy on the 6th, Haleigh on the 12th, Emily the 24th,...then March... Lindsey the 3rd, Aunt Shera the 14th,... April... Gramma Marge the 7th, Abbie the 24th ...May... Shell Bell the 16th, me and Uncle Todd in June... it's like every week or two weeks we have a bday to celebrate. Whew!

So, I'm planning and organizing and budgeting (who am I kidding?)... Em is the only one right now who has a "kid Birthday". She has been talking for about a year (since Aunt Shera gave her the DRESS) that she wants to have a Chinese Birthday Party. I have learned a lot getting ready for this party... for starters, the Chinese New Year is a week Before, so I can get major clearance items for the party. :)

Tomorrow night we have gourmet club. A group of friends and us get together and eat basically.

We started it several years ago.... like in 2001 (wow! 6 years ago!). We got together more out of winter boredom than anything else. Whoever hosted the evening chose the country and made the main dish. The others did the sides, appetizers, desserts.... and we had to cook authentic food. Well, as authentic as you can get in this neck of the woods! Saffron doesn't come too easily around here.

Some people have card club... we just like to EAT.

After we did 24 countries, this year we switched it up a bit. We chose "ingredients". Last month, we had to each make a dish with coffee in it. It was GREAT! This month we are doing MINT. So, my minty side dishes are in the works!

Bon Appetit!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Happy Birthday Shawn!

Today is the Birthday of my awesome husband Shawn. Happy Birthday Shawn!

In honor of his birthday, I give you this....

But, I haven't quite figured it out. Is he the lone ranger? Or a clown? Or a lone ranger clown?

You gotta love Moms and Halloween costumes...

Seriously, I have tried all day to make Shawn's birthday special. He is the hardest person in the entire world to buy a gift for, because he doesn't need anything. He is the man that has it all.... good looks, great wife, perfect kids...

Yeah, I'm stretching it with the kids aren't I?

In all honesty though... I have an incredible husband. He makes me laugh, he gets my jokes, and he loves God with all his heart. I appreciate him so much. He can fix anything like nobodys business, he doesn't mind living with 6 women and 2 female cats, he doesn't complain when our stuff takes up the whole house and he only gets a small spot to lay his briefcase. He does his own laundry, he lets me fall asleep before he starts snoring, he slows down when he realizes he's walking too fast, he starts the car, and the other car, and the other car. He shovels snow, he drops me off at the door, he picks up his own messes, he takes time to understand all our female emotions in this home.... probably better than I do!

I could go on and on about how blessed I am to have this guy in my life... really. When I was 16 years of age, he held my hand and looked into my eyes and called me friend. He then led me to the Lord and showed me that God's love is better than life. Every day I am grateful to him as my friend, my mate, my partner, and my love.

Happy Birthday Skippy.... you bless me beyond words! I hope your day is filled with nine hundred ninety nine twenty seven jillion billion zillion katillion kisses from heaven!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Happy Birthday Aunt Tammy!

My sister Tammy celebrated her birthday today! I won't tell how old she is... in case she actually reads my blog. (You know...after I email her a copy of it and tell her she has to!)

Yes, Shawn's birthday yesterday ushers in a host of familial birthday celebrations around here. I see it this way... at least I have something to post!

If I had a scanner I'd scan the old photos of Tammy in the dresses my mom made for us when we were kids. Purple material, white gogo boots and all. We were top notch California Girls.

I have the most incredible memories of life with my sister. I remember sleeping with her when the "boogey man" was lurking around my dreams... and holding her hand tightly as she helped me get to sleep. I remember sharing secrets (shhhh! we still do.) and dreaming of our future together. I remember lots and lots of mischief as kids. Our teenage years brought lots and lots of fights. Tammy was a schoolyard scrapper. She was a dangerous fight...really. And she could pull hair out like it was corn husk on a cob. And bite. I've never met a more unfair fighter in all my life. pinch and bite and pull hair. You know... a good old fashioned girl fight. But, usually, it was because I "borrowed" her jeans or something like that. You know. Borrowed. Really.

As we have gotten older, and both gotten married, and life has had it's ups and downs... we have managed to stay connected somewhat even though we live many miles apart -- like on different sides of the country. I cherish the phone calls and the updates, and look forward to spending time with her when we can.

Happy Birthday Tammy Jean! I love and miss you!

freezing cold happy soupy day

It's just fun to write oxymoron titles to my blog, that's all.

It's freezing cold out here... like REALLY FREEZING cold. Let me just say I talked to a friend today in California. The weather in Redding is around 49 and they are cold. I also spoke to my mother in the Phoenix area and she is really having a hard time because it was so rainy last week and cold every day -- and she would come home from work to take a hot shower every day and warm up. You know, being 45 and 50 and all. Today, though she said it should get up to around 60, which is "bearable".

The thermometer in my little corner of the world hasn't reached zero yet. And with the feels like about 26 below zero.

So, yeah, it's COLD. FREEZING COLD. It's even don't-go-outside-unless-you-have-to cold. Even our cat who likes to escape to the outdoors at every chance she gets isn't going outside. She tried. She ran out and then right back in. I think she thought she was going into the deep freeze.

So, yeah, you know it's cold when...

1. you don't use the dishwasher - you wash dishes by hand just so you can warm up.
2. it's been hours since you came home from anywhere and you still don't think to take off your coat.
3. your bank account has more cash than the temperature.
4. the pens in your purse won't write because the ink is frozen.
5. you keep your leftovers on the back deck
6. you can't leave your pop in the trunk of the car in the garage or it will burst all over
7. you can't tell if your nose is running or not.
8. you keep your furnace at 60 degrees and it's WARM and TOASTY in the house
9. you sit in the hot tub and when you get out your hair has ice in it.
10. your eyes tear up from the cold ..then start to freeze you have to blink rapidly in order to keep your eyes from freezing shut.

So, today... I'm making bean and ham soup and cornbread.... watching movies.... and wearing sweatpants in my nice warm house!

Happy Freezing Cold Happy Soupy Day!

groundhog pudding and california burgers

Every evening I write the next day's menu on the board at home so the kids can see what's for lunch and make a "hot or cold" lunch decision before it's too late. (you in... sorry we're walking out the door it's too late).

The school lunch menu lately is a bit interesting. Yesterday they had "California Burgers". What exactly is a California Burger? Is it some sort of west coast thing I don't know about? My dad is in California visiting my sister right now. Maybe I should call him up and have him order a California Burger and see what they say it is. Cuz I asked the girls... "What was the California Burger". The answer? It was just a regular old hamburger. So, what makes it a California burger as opposed to a Midwestern Burger? We have good beef in the midwest... maybe the California burger is some kind of processed meat that isn't really meat at all because they don't have good beef. And maybe... just maybe... the school is calling it a California burger because they know the kids in the midwest would balk if they called it a hamburger.

Now, I was born in California... and sent a good part of my life there. Growing up I had a friend who would invite me over to her house and I'd end up staying into the "meal" hour. I remember one time we were at her house and it was lunch time. They only had one hamburger. Her parents weren't home so we decided to "share" this hamburger. We cooked it up... and she put it on a bun and added some ketchup and such. Then, she did the strangest thing.... she had a strange way of sharing. Me? I would have cut the thing in half. But, she took the hamburger off the bun and put it on a different bun. She gave me the bun with no meat and said "taste it". "Even though it has no meat, the meat WAS on it tastes like there was meat there".

So, what did I do? I ate it! And she was right.... if you're hungry enough in the middle of the afternoon, you don't care if it's a hamburger or a hamburger juice with ketchup sandwich!

So......... MAYBE....... that's what the school lunch means by "California Burger"..... maybe the meat WAS there... but now it's not.

Today? Groundhog pudding. I can't wait to hear what THAT is!!!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

sleep sleep wonderful sleep

I just thought I'd update for a second. I have been a little sicky lately. But, am feeling much better today! Well, I oughta! After my sleep escapade yesterday! --- Is escapade a word? Hang on...let me look...yep. here it is.

escapade: a reckless adventure or wild prank. an escape from confinement or restraint.

so... a sleep escapade would be a reckless adventure of sleep or an escape from reality (confinement) into sleep.

okay..yeah..that was me. I took my beloved Nyquil at 7pm on Tuesday night. I fell into an escapade of sleep at 8:15, which didn't end until 7am Wednesday. 11 hours of sleep STRAIGHT! Ah...but the escapade didn't end there. I got up... got the kids off to school... and went back to bed at 8:45am. Until 10am. Only an hour and 15 minutes but I thought it was enough. So, I got up... and decided to try to read. Only to find that I was sluggish know after only 13 hours of sleep in the past 14 and a half hours, a person sometimes just feels sluggish and tired. I kept falling asleep reading... so I did what any sleep deprived person would do.... I went back to bed. at 11am. I slept until 2pm. Then, I drug myself out of bed. Yes, I could have slept LONGER.

My first fear of course is that after 16 hours of sleeping I would have a hard time falling asleep Wednesday night. But, alas that was not a problem. I slept from 10pm to 7am -- and got 9 more hours!

So, all said... my sleep escapade lasted 36 hours. Of that 36 hours, only 10 of them were waking hours!