Saturday, September 24, 2011

Our Pumpkin Patch Adventure

I am a coupon lover.  Yep, that's me.  I really like the feeling I get when I find a good deal.  It's almost as good as what chocolate does for me...almost.  So last week when there was  an on-line deal for two tickets to the pumpkin patch for the price of one, I got pretty excited.  I thought this sounded like a good deal and a great weekend adventure so I bought them right up.  What I didn't do was read the fine print which stated they had to be used by next Thursday.   When I realized this I was pretty bummed because I am on-call this weekend and I ALWAYS get called in to work when I'm on-call so there was no way we would be able to go on Saturday or Sunday.

So, about 2:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon I decided we would go after Paul got off work.  I would have the van packed and the kids ready so when Paul got home we could leave right away and get there in plenty of time before dark. We would give Parker his tube feeding on the way there so we wouldn't have to worry about that and I would get some great pictures of the kids together in front of a pile of pumpkins.  To top it off, I would dress Parker in his cute little overalls that he hadn't had a chance to wear yet because it just couldn't get much more picture perfect than that. 

Well, I hadn't even started packing the van when Paul got home.  I did have the kids dressed and Parker did look extra cute in his overalls.  I had asked Alexa to use the potty about 12 times so I was sure she had been a good little two-year-old and did what I had asked.  We got the van packed, the kids loaded up, Parker's tube feeding started and we were on the road by 5:30 p.m.  This wasn't as early as I had hoped but it would still be plenty of time to have lots of family fun before it got dark.  

Before too long, we got stuck in terrible traffic on the interstate.  Apparently, there was some sort of accident.  In fact, it looked more like a parking lot.  Paul thought it would be best to get to the next exit and turn around and go home but I'm sort of stubborn and was afraid that if we didn't go then, we wouldn't get there before next Thursday and I'd lose out on my good deal.  So, we kept inching along listening to our favorite CD...Dora.

About this time, I realized that Parker's tube feeding extension had come undone and he and his car seat were completely soaked with formula.  In case you don't know, formula is stinky and Parker's special, super duper formula is extra stinky.  And...since we were stuck on the interstate Parker was going to have to sit in his wet, stinky overalls until we could get somewhere to change him.  My dreams of adorable pictures of Parker in his overalls next to a big pile of pumpkins had been crushed and I was extra sad because the "back up" outfit I had packed wasn't cute at all.  But, I wasn't going to let a little traffic and stinky formula ruin everything and told Paul to keep on going.

A little while later, Alexa declared that she needed to go potty.  Well, there isn't really any place to go potty when you're stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on the interstate.  We told her she'd have to hold it and luckily we didn't have to wait too much longer before we got out of the crazy traffic and were able to pull over to a gas station.  I took Alexa to the bathroom and apparently every other little kid and their mother who were also stuck in traffic had the same idea.  We patiently waited our turn.  When Alexa finally got to sit on the potty she was too distracted by all the kids, the noises they were making, the silly stories they were telling, the fun they were having in the bathroom sink and the loud flushing sounds all around us.  She couldn't let herself get business done.  Believe me, I tried to convince her but it was a lost cause.  So...we went back to the van and headed to the pumpkin patch.

An hour and a half after we left our house, we pulled into the pumpkin patch.  It should've taken at least half that amount of time to get there.  We got Parker's outfit changed and realized we only had about 30 minutes before it was going to get dark so we tried our hardest to see as much as we could and get as many pictures as possible in that amount of time.  I didn't know that my camera lense had somehow gotten incredibly dirty so most of our pictures were ruined anyway.  I guess it's good the kids didn't have their cute outfits on or smile perfectly in front of a great background because I would have been pretty upset to learn that the pictures would have been worthless anyway.

We were in such a hurry to take in the sights and take pictures that we completely forgot that Alexa hadn't used the potty.  Well, you can guess what happened.  We had just gotten to the area where there is lots for little kids to do.  Alexa found a playground and had gone down the slide just once when it happened.  I'm not talking about just a little bit - she went A LOT!  We were, of course, on the opposite side of the pumpkin patch at this point and realized we left her bag with extra clothes in the van.  I guess the good news is that it was dark at this point and we were able to walk back to the entrance without anyone knowing that my daughter was soaked.  Yep it was on her shirt, her pants, her socks and even in her shoes.

Well, it was 8:00 at this time and I suppose sensible parents would've just packed up the family and left but we hadn't eaten supper yet and there was all sorts of delightfully, awful-for-you food all around us so I decided I would take Alexa to the car, change her clothes, and then come back and eat some food before leaving for the night.  And that's what we did.  I hadn't packed extra socks or shoes so I guess I'll have to admit that her shoes went back on (go ahead and judge me if you want) but we made it back inside.  While we were doing our thing, Paul was walking around with Parker and managed to lose both his blanky and his pacifier but he didn't lose Parker so I guess that's good.

We ate our nachos and chicken strips, let Alexa pick out a little pumpkin on the way out the door and we were on our way home.  It wasn't exactly the family adventure that I had planned but we all survived and we'll never forget our experience with the pumpkin patch.

Oh, and guess what?  I didn't get called in to work today after all and it would've made an absolute perfect day for a family outing at the pumpkin patch!


Monday, September 5, 2011

An End of Summer Poem

Now that summer’s nearing an end

And cooler air is moving in,

We want to share with you dear friend

What fun we’ve had and places we’ve been.

We spent a lot of time in the park 

And even went bowling in the dark.

We had our first amusement park ride

And lazily watched the ducks paddle by.

We got to attend the county fair

And that's where we touched the Llama's hair,

But nothing beats feeding a goat

Or watching fireworks from inside a boat.

We visited with family from near and from far

And learned that grandma is quite the rock star.

We were reminded to hold our loved ones tight

And tell them we love them with all of our might.

This summer we won’t soon forget

For it’s been a hot one that you can bet.

And while we’ve had fun in the sun being silly,

We are more than ready for it to get chilly.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I think I've mentioned before how I'm a fan of The Pioneer Woman. Her blog is smart, funny, inspiring, a little sarcastic, and engaging. I go there almost every day and drool at her cooking blog.  She makes some pretty delicious looking stuff and definitely knows how to photograph her food! I've tried a lot of her recipes and so far everything has been quite yummy...maybe not good for you...but yummy.

Well, I'm a soup gal.  Yep, I could eat good soup every day for a year and be happy.  I always like to order chicken tortilla soup at restaurants so when I saw that Pioneer Woman had a recipe for chicken tortilla soup that tasted like it does in the restaurant I thought I should give it a try.   No surprise, it was really good.  Now...I didn't follow the recipe exactly (I was close) because I didn't have all the ingredients on hand, wanted to add a few different touches (corn and lime juice) and I absolutely CAN'T STAND black beans.  Go here if you'd like to try her exact recipe which I'm sure is delightful and so you can see her pictures which will make you drool.  But, here's how I made it and I highly recommend giving this a try.  It was scrumptious.

  • 1/2 (or more) of a Rotisserie Chicken Cut Into Small Pieces
  • 1 T. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 c. (or more) Diced Yellow Onion
  • 1/4 c. Diced Green Pepper
  • 1/4 c. Diced Red Pepper
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 t. (or more) Cumin
  • 1/2 t. (or more) Chili Powder
  • 1/4 t. (or more) Garlic Powder
  • 1/8 t. Salt
  • 3/4 can Rotel Tomatoes and Green Chiles
  • 3/4 can Whole Kernel Corn
  • 32 oz. Chicken Broth or Stock
  • 5-6 T. Tomato Sauce (or use 3 T. Tomato paste if you have it)
  • 4 c. Hot Water
  • 3 T. Cornmeal
  • Tortilla Chips, Broken
  • Sour Cream
  • Grated Colby/Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice


Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onions, red pepper, green pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the spices.  Stir to combine, then add the chicken and stir.

Pour in Rotel, chicken broth, tomato sauce and water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and add the corn. Simmer for 40 minutes, uncovered.

Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 25 minutes. I honestly can't tell you why you do this step.  But on her blog, she says "Trust Pioneer Woman" so I did.  Check seasonings, adding more if needed. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream, tortilla chips, cilantro, lime juice and grated cheese.  (PW added even more garnishes which I'm sure would be fantastic but I didn't have such things lying around my kitchen).