Wednesday, December 16

DIY Angel Gabriel

One of my favorite things about teaching Faith Formation, besides sharing my faith with the kids obviously, is coming up with fun and informative lessons. Sometimes it can be a real challenge to find things that aren't too babyish or labor intensive—I've been overwhelmed by Pinterest more often than not. BUT, as with the Thankful Turkeys we did before Thanksgiving, I came up with these simple Angel Gabriels and it worked really well for our class of 26 six and seven year-olds.
We made these after our first Advent lesson, when I felt like the kids had a good grasp of not only whom Gabriel was but also why he is so important to us. I love this craft because it is super easy and super cheap to create in bulk. A lot of times I find awesome crafts on Pinterest, but they require seven different specialty products and when you're trying to create 26 of them it gets expensive. The only downside to this craft is the toilet paper rolls that make the body. Usually I send out an email to parents and have everyone bring one in. Otherwise, everything else needed is basic. Relatively quick too!
Toilet paper roll
White and yellow construction paper
Basket style coffee filter
Glue stick
Writing instrument

Take your white construction paper and fold it into thirds, ripping at the folds. This will serve as the covering for the toilet paper roll body. Wrap the white paper over the roll and glue in place. Using your writing instrument (some kids used crayons, some used pencils, I used a pen) make sure your Angel Gabriel has a face!! For the wings, take a flattened basket coffee filter and fold it in half. Using a stapler, attach the coffee filter to the prepared body to create wings. Make small cuts along the ridges of the filter to give your wings some depth! Taking the yellow paper cut a small circle for the halo, gluing it to one side.

Monday, December 14


*Linking up with Becky*
I feel like I sound like a broken record, but hot damn where has the time gone? Days are becoming too much of a blur and I can't stand it. The fact that Christmas is right around the corner is throwing me for a total loop.

Currently around the Johnson Anderson house we are...

Decorating for Christmas! I know, talk about procrastination. We went and got our tree last weekend, but I ended up getting wayyy to tired to decorate it, and then I was in Texas/Louisiana/Mississippi for work all last week. But now I've got the tree and the mantle done; Mark's got the outside lights up we are ready for Christmas!! We got our tree at Home Depot and I loved this little board they had for the cookies. Obviously, my giant handwriting and the thick sharpie didn't really mesh extremely well! But ours says "Anderson M., J., F., A."

Loving this article about the importance of sex scenes in romance novels. I've said before I'm a pretty big romance reader, and sometimes the sex scenes make me feel icky: I mean, who cares about a throbbing member anyway? That seems unrealistic. Other times I get so wrapped up in them, I feel like it could be describing something that happened to me. The author articulates it perfectly, saying, "Some of the sexiest scenes in romance are the least overtly sexual: a dance, a heated stare, a brush of hands, a first kiss." I think that's why I love romance novels, you get swept up in the everyday that seems like just a small departure from your daily grind.

Decompressing from driving over 1500 miles in four days. I feel like I was just never NOT in the car. I really need to remember to plan my trips a little farther in advance so I could have flown to Shreveport and not spent the entirety of last Monday in the car...

Loving this video of the newest Heisman Trophy winner, Alabama's running back Derrick Henry's family react to his win. If you read around here, we're big Alabama football fans, and we couldn't be more thrilled for Derrick. He's a great man, fantastic football player and an even better role model. This video has a mascara alert! "God bless you and roll tide."
 Here's my personal inspo for the week. After spending all week last week in the car and bopping from logging sites to mill sites to Hampton Inns, I've got a full calendar with work and home life. It's so nice to be sleeping in my own bed!
via Pinterest

Friday, December 11

Southern-fied Arrabiata

One of my favorite things to make is a take on something I had during my whirlwind day in NYC earlier this year. I like to call it Southern-fied Arrabiata, because the base recipe is 100% Italian, but my starch is tried and true creamy grits. Seriously, this is probably one of the best dishes to come out of my kitchen.

Using Emeril’s lemon-garlic chicken thighs for the basis: The chicken thigh flavor is the perfect backdrop for the spice of sauce; the creaminess of the grits gives you a smooth finish. I just love it. Did I mention it is easy enough to make for a weeknight dinner?

Make this immediately.
 Southern-fied Arrabiata
6-8 chicken thighs, can use either bone-in or boneless
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups thinly sliced onions
about one and a half heads of garlic, peeled and smashed
½ tablespoon crushed red pepper
Juice of about one lemon
1 and ¼ cup chicken broth
¼ stone-ground grits
¼ cup of Parmesan cheese
Splash of milk
Salt, for seasoning
Pepper, for seasoning
Parsley, for garnish

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper; dredging them in flour while an oven safe saute pan heats with oil. Add the prepared thighs to the pan, browning well—about 8 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from the pan, and set aside. Add the onion and garlic, letting the onion wilt for about 2 minutes. Add crushed red pepper and let cook for another minute or so. Put chicken back in the pan with lemon juice and chicken broth. Bring everything to a simmer and cover tightly. Bake for 25 minutes at 350°. While the chicken is baking, boil one cup of water to prepare the grits. Once the water is boiling, add grits, with a splash of milk and some Parmesan cheese. Serve chicken on top of grits with parsley as a garnish and drizzled pan drippings. 

Friday, December 4

It's Not Easy: Mothering, Malro and Me

From the moment I found out I was pregnant with the twins I went through a few really difficult times. When you live in the Bible belt and don’t do things in the conventional way, people talk. And people judge. And people suck.

In fact, as clear as a bell I can think of one girl who was so jealous that I got pregnant, she was, and continues to be, mean to me. It took me a long time to realize her jealousy was why she was so wretched to me, and while it makes me sad, it also makes me angry. Angry because mothering is freaking hard and I got enough of my own guilt about working and being a good mom and a good wife and making it to Church on time that I don't need a bitchy acquaintance.

But mainly it makes me angry because of December 5, 2014: The day I handed my newborn son to a stranger with the very real feeling I might not see him again. How dare she take out her jealousy on me that I got pregnant "easily with twins" and everything fell right into place.
For the entire time the twins were in-utero I was in incredible amounts of pain in my hips, back, fingers and belly. I was unable to eat for days at a time. I struggled to walk. I didn't talk about it because it wasn't anyone's business and it was just part of an extremely high-rick pregnancy.

Yes, I delivered them full term, vaginally. I also lost so much blood I had to receive a blood transfusion and came very close to receiving it through a PICC line. There’s always more to the snippets of things you hear…

Then there was December 5, 2014. Yea, it was so easy to hand a two-month-old over for surgery and not know what was going to happen. To be in actual hell for four hours while a nice man you met four hours prior was moving your newborn’s intestines around to save his life. Yea, that was real easy.
I don't want this reflection to come from a place of anger—I am so incredibly thankful for CHOA-Egleston, Dr. Meisel and God for watching out for Alex; for making Alex "all better." We were so incredibly blessed throughout Alex's entire malrotation surgery and recovery; I have a lot of guilt when I think about it. He hit the milestones he was supposed to right on track.
But what I didn't think about would be the after. The indelible mark I would be left with. In the immediate days after we left the hospital I did nothing but cry and worry and feel sick to my stomach. I watched Squeaks like a hawk.
Overtime my fear abated, but never left. Every single time he eats, I feel nervous. When he goes a few days without regular loose bowel movements I wake up in cold sweats, go into his room and make sure he's still breathing and not covered in green vomit.

I hear myself constantly say, "You have to be careful with Alex," which is nearly always countered with, "Stop being overprotective."
The worry faded, but it never went away because for those three weeks we waited for surgery and the week we were in the cocoon of CHOA-Egleston 4226, everything went smoothly. So, obviously the other shoe is going to drop and rock my world.

Except it hasn't really. A few days ago, after a few weeks of Fitzgerald struggling to make dirty diapers of any kind, Mark asked me, "Do you think we should have him tested?"

There it was, the other shoe. I survived one malro baby; I could do it again. But Fitz isn't showing any malro signs. He eats like a horse. In fact, he eats too much bread, which is why he's always constipated. I frequently catch him snatching crackers off Alex's plate. That's why he's clogged and he enjoys daily doses of milk of magnesia.

Intestinal malrotation affects one in 500 live American births. It is a congenital condition that happens during the first trimester of pregnancy and can show signs immediately after birth or never at all or sometime in between. It's a scary thing to deal with. Once you've survived a malro baby, it never ever leaves you.

Yea, it might be easy to have sex and get pregnant, but mothering? The day in and day out? It might seem easy on instagram but it actually is really, really hard.

Tomorrow marks one year. I don't know how I will feel as the day progresses. I am so glad I listened to my little voice, that I fought for my son, that Dr. Meisel saved his life and gave me a ferocious toddler who loves Peeps and ice water just like his momma. But damn, it hasn't been easy.

There is one element of tomorrow that will be extremely easy. As a family of four we will all watch the SEC Championship game together, no machines, no cords, no nothing. Just us and our beloved Tide. I'm so grateful for that! Roll tide, beat the gators!!

Wednesday, December 2

15 for 2015 Update: November

Update on 15 for 2015 during the month of November. Where the hell did this year go? I feel like I've accomplished so much, and yet, still didn't do everything I wanted to! I'm definitely ready to say goodbye to 2015.

15 for 2015 
Hit the Pure Barre Montgomery 250 Tuck Club (Accomplished in January) 
Spend another long weekend in Curacao 
 Show Fitz and Alex the beach 
Read 15 books 1: Mending Fences 2: Tonight and Always 3: A Matter of Choice 4: Endings and Beginnings 4: Vegas Rich 5: A Perfect Life 6: Downtown 7: The Best of Me 8: The Little Paris Bookshop 9. Hoping for Hope
Take an entire month and not buy a single piece of clothing (or accessory) for myself (Accomplished in May) 
Finally re-decorate our living room (Accomplished in April) 
Update my phone software (Not that it helped anything) I actually got a brand new iPhone 6S in September!
Visit Kimber, Gentry and Saylor at the farm in Pennsylvania (Accomplished in July!)
Go home for Alabama Homecoming  This was the same weekend as Fitz and Alex's birthday party, so we let this one go. Though in November we did go to Tuscaloosa and see the Tide take on LSU!
 Write my Nanny once a month January: yes, sort of. February: yes! March: yes! April: No. May: No. June: yes! July: I think so, but I can't remember, honestly. August: Mailed it on Aug 31st, but yes! September: yes! October: yes! November: yes!
Try 15 new recipes 1: Creamy Italian Chicken Crockpot Bake 2: Cajun Cake recipe from Southern Living Annual Recipes 1987 edition 3: Basil Chicken Pizza 4: Fiesta Chicken Rice Bowls 5: Carla Hall’s Confetti Blondies 6: Cheeseburger Pie 7: Sun-Dried Tomato and Herb Crusted Salmon 8: Bursting Blueberry-Chocolate Bundt Cake 9: Cheesy Stuffed Meatloaf 10: Rosemary, Thyme Oven Roast  11: Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers 12: Balsamic Braised Chicken Thighs
Completely clean out my closet (Accomplished in August)
Take about a zillion more pictures Here, I like to think my kids are saying, "Enough with the pictures. We look like tiny men, we get it. Why is your voice so squeaky?" 
Clean out the storage unit and sell the furniture we are never going to use (Accomplished in March) 
Show Mark Philadelphia and the Porecca family

Hoping for a Christmas miracle on my reading list. 

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