Under Construction

For family night, we assembled a gingerbread house. Personalities were revealed and everyone exposed their true colors. Erik got down to business....shoring the side of the house as it started to collapse, mixing the concrete, organizing the stock pile of supplies, asking us to submit RFIs if we wanted to alter anything in the plans.....you know, the construction business as usual. Sadie kept us all artistic, color coordinated and on task. In between my giggles (after all these years Erik can still get me laughing non-stop), I stuck close to Deklan who's MO was: one treat on the house, one treat in the mouth, one treat on the house, two treats in the mouth, one treat on the house, one treat in mom's mouth. He's no dummy. It's a lovely little house, but unfortunately will be undergoing foreclosure upon our return from Utah and I'm sure Erik and Deklan will find a way to implode the little beauty when the new year rolls around. Merry Christmas!!!!!!

Thanks for Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving walk......

Where cattails are found.......

And cattails are picked......

And cattails are plucked.....

And cattails are discarded in exchange for HUGS!

Gag Me!

Wish me luck....tomorrow I have to down a bottle of "orange nasty" loaded with 50 gms of sugar to see how well my body handles glucose. I have to accomplish this in 10 minutes without puking. Not my finest hour in my previous pregnancies. I told my doctor I could down 12 fun size snickers in 10 minutes and well, couldn't that count? I took the laugh as a big fat NO.

I can't help myself!

I must confess, I've been listening to this (and many other festive CDs) since the day after Halloween:

and spraying this EVERYWHERE in my house:
And totally craving these and wondering WHEN Target will get them on their shelves!:
And formulating my Christmas list to Santa and I'm including THIS:

I love this merry time of year!!!!!

Post Now....

or you can forget it happening later. And this is too cute to NOT tell.

Deklan and I were looking at pictures from the past. I'm a firm believer in putting your pictures at your fingertips rather than hidden away for some future time. And so we were looking at the pictures at our fingertips. And we came across this one from February of this year.....
And when Deklan saw it he said in utter shock and disbelief while rubbing his current head of hair, "Mom, what happened to my hair?"
Apparantly he doesn't like the shaggy look.

And now I'm thinking.....will I someday be the victim of comments like....."Mom, what were you thinking?" or "Geez mom, were you trying to get me beat up at school?" or "Yikes mom, what IS that?"

And so I proudly did my part today when Sadie came downstairs ready for school in an adorable dress with her tennis shoes. Eeegads....a dress with tennis shoes? Fashion BEFORE comfort my dear! And so rather than insist she go change, I simply said...."uh, Sadie, your brown shoes would look much cuter than those tennis shoes. You can wear what you want, but in 10 years I don't want you to ask me what I was thinking letting you out of the house in a dress with tennis shoes". She looked at me like I'd just spoken Greek but promptly went and changed.

Rock and Roll!

Ah, Yuma....what can I say?

The Peanut Patch was not much to look at....but had plenty to eat! And lucky for us they had a "Guide to Yuma 2008" magazine to browse through while eating peanutty ice cream.
Who knew? Yuma has a camel farm? Hey kids, Yuma has a camel farm!!!! And off we went to the camel farm. I will admit, I had to laugh when there were signs posted everywhere that said, "Enter at your own risk!" and "Animals bite!" and "Do Not Feed the Animals"......but would you like to buy a cup of food to feed the animals? Uh, yea, I guess.... But less you think we only saw camels let me mention I saw things I'd never seen before. Like turkens and zeedonks and a mini hini. And Deklan was quite fond of the ostrich named Moe. And did you know that camels do NOT store water anywhere in their bodies? For real people. Did I just rock your world? And I thought I knew about camels having ridden a camel across the Egyptian desert a few years back (summer of 96 to be exact). But my confidence was restored when it was confirmed that yes indeedy long eyelashes protect their eyes from blowing sand.

I can't forget to mention that I did get to eat a chicken ala mundo salad from Kneaders. And yes, that would be Kneaders as in Utah Kneaders. Yummy!

And then finally, here is THE library....a current pic and then a pic of what the completed building will look like. So come one, come all....buy your LBD and join us next May for the Grand Opening of the Main Yuma Library. On second thought...I'll get back to you on the LBD.....it may be "camel farm attire".

Santa's Brilliant!

I think Santa was simply brilliant in his idea to bring Sadie an easel for Christmas last year. That four legged outlet for creativity has been one of our most played with toys E-V-E-R! It is the place where Sadie writes the "schedule" when playing school, where pictures have been drawn and painted, where spelling words have been practiced and my personal favorite.....where notes back and forth between Sadie and the rest of the family are left.

Last night when tucking Sadie into bed I noticed her latest note to self:

When we go to Yuma we are going to rock and roll!

We are going to Yuma today when Sadie gets out of school. Why not? Tomorrow is Veteran's Day so Sadie doesn't have school. We can stay in a hotel, swim, lounge, shop, eat out and finally see the progress Erik has made on the Yuma Library project he has been managing.

So as soon as chef Deklan and I finish making our cinnamon rolls, we will pack our bags, do a little cleaning and then get ready to rock and roll!

Cousins Defined

According to Sadie and Deklan, a "cousin" is any person who lives a great distance away, with whom you are guaranteed to have a great time, and upon their departure you are overcome with sadness.

A "cousin" is often mentioned in prayers such as dinner prayer tonight offered by Sadie...."and please bless Drew and Ian and Owen to be safe until we see them again in 3 1/2 weeks".

To alleviate the emptyness we felt in our house after the departure of the Summers we went on an evening walk and then had donuts and wassail. And while I binged on my donuts and wassail I had to giggle at the thought of Johanna's warning to her son as he begged for yet another piece of his Halloween candy which was sure to remedy his hurt toenail....."Emotional eating is not allowed Ian. It leads to obesity." Parenting is so much more fun when done with a touch of humor.

And so in honor of our "cousins", the Summers, I give you from the friend of a friend a yummy wassail recipe.


1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 3" cinnamon stick
12 whole cloves
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
2 c. water
1 1/2 c. orange juice
1 1/2 quarts of apple cider
thin lemon slices (optional)

Directions: Bring cider, sugars & spices to a boil. Add water & other juices (at this point you can pull out the whole cloves & cinnamon stick or just leave them in. Another option is to put them in cheesecloth that way you can just pull it out at this point---I left them in & think it's fine). Heat and serve with lemon slices. Yields 3 quarts.

Happy November!

My Little Spooks

This is what Deklan was supposed to be for Halloween:

But he had other ideas. And these ideas started brewing on Thursday when I attempted to get him dressed in costume for his preschool Halloween party. He wanted nothing to do with it. I threatened, I begged, I bargained. No deal. "Fine, you're going to feel really sad when everybody is dressed in their costume and you're not." Uh, not so much. Not when his buddy Kash shows up to preschool sans costume. He was vindicated. I attempted again the next day, with not as much wasted effort on my part, before heading to Erik's work party. We managed a Spiderman t-shirt, but other than that.....well, his face pretty much tells you what he thinks about this silly holiday.

Think he changed his opinion before trunk or treat? Only when Daddy saved the day by dressing up as a soccer player and convinced Deklan to do the same. Then there is Sadie...always poised and ready for any photo op. This time as Princess Ariel. And can you guess what I am? Give up already? O.K., I'll just tell you. I'm a "smarty pants". Get it? (Well, neither did most people...except one witty gentleman who shall remain un-named who suggested I tape them to my backside and then I could be a "smart...A"). Funny, funny, funny, Brother B.

When the night came to an end I concluded that this was one of the best Halloween's we've had. The trunk or treat at the church rocked! Cotton candy, throwing darts at balloons, Charlie Brown on the big screen, chili, cornbread, face painting, crafts and oh yea, did I mention the trunk or treating? Good times!

Sugar and Spice and....


And we couldn't be happier about it! We're having a girl and have oodles of images to prove it. Thanks to modern medicine we have had our fair share of ultrasounds....both a blessing and a curse because with today's technology you can see EVERYTHING, even things that you think you may be seeing. We are just grateful that with some extra reassurance from some excellent physicians our baby is growing and developing perfectly.

Every couple of days Sadie will state, "Mom, I'm so glad we're having a girl".

And rest assured BOTH of Deklan's babies (the boy growing in his tummy and the girl growing in his foot) are "happy" and "don't cry very much". Imagination run wild!
Click on images to enlarge ;)

The House on Hillman Drive

I'm playing along with this "tag".....afterall, I don't want to be dubbed the party pooper. And by the way, I'm going to tag all of the "silent lurkers" of my blog. Yea, that's right, I'm talking about you, and you and you.

My Closet:
O.K. so here's the weird thing....I swear I took a picture of this (when I took pictures for this post that is) and now that I'm getting around to posting I can't find it. I'm not about to go take more pictures because I'm determined to get in bed before 10 p.m. tonight. So sorry....but trust me......my closet is not much to see minus the fact that the laundry basket is seriously overloaded. Tuesday is laundry day.

The Kitchen Sink:

I do love that there is a window above my sink. There was always a window above the kitchen sink in my childhood homes. So what if they looked out into beautiful green lush lawns and a large garden? I can pretend that there isn't another brown stucco house 10 ft. away from my window.

The Fridge....I mean pantry:

The fridge isn't much too look at....it's pretty bare and needs cleaned...lots of crusty milk flakes floating around. Those bug me so much. I'm bending the rules here and taking a picture of my pantry. Neato.

The Laundry Room:
Again a lost photo. But my laundry room (uh, hmm...closet) is awesome. No joke. E built shelves all the way up and around that wasted vaulted ceiling and so I have storage galore. I heart my handy man.


It's growing.......Please just tell me I look pregnant and not bloated.

My Favorite Room:

My kitchen/dining room. For now anyway. But I do adore my kid's bedrooms too. I guess I should have taken pictures of them. Oh, well. Big blue stripes on the wall in Deklan's room and chair rail bordering the red lower half of Sadie's walls. Quilts compliments of The Quilt Shop at Gardner Village in Utah. All in all our favorite places to cuddle up at the end of the day for story time.

The Toilet:

Now you tell me why a three year old would NOT want to do "brown stuff" and "yellow stuff" (Sadie came up with those terms during her potty training days) in this lovely toilet? On the verge of tears I begged Deklan to poop in the toilet and he said very adamantly...."I will mom ALL NIGHT LONG!!!" And then, "Are you happy to me?"

My Favorite Shoes:

Flip flop weather here in AZ 9 months out of the year. My kids detest socks. I can't wait until I can pull out my long black boots and Uggs. I look at them lovingly every day!

My Dream Vacay:

Begins in four days!!!! And Zana is coming to town to hold down the fort. My kids are acting like it's Christmas! And I'm acting like I'm leaving on my honeymoon!

What My Children Are Doing Right Now:
Sleeping soundly with bellies full of ice cream. And I'm going to go join them.

Oh yea, and my "other child" is doing this right now. Go Monsoons!

I fought the law....and the law won.

And I'm not happy about it. Not happy at all. It all went down three hours ago in Courtroom 404 of downtown Phoenix. Judge D presiding in the case #3863731. Defendant: Stephanie Dunn in violation of Phoenix City Code 36-145A on 7/30/2008 at 8:15 a.m. as follows: "Parking/Non-Dust Free Lot". Here is how it played out:

Judge D: "Please raise your right hands to the square and repeat after me...." What? No Bible for my left hand? Well that's disappointing. "Officer, please present your case."

Officer "Ralphie": Blaa, Blaa, Blaa, Blaa, Blaa, Blaaaaaaaa. "I have some pictures I'd like to present as evidence your honor. May I approach?" Pictures, smictures you moron!

Judge D: "Mrs. Dunn, do you have any questions for the officer?"

Me: "Uh, yes. Where did you get those sweet tatoos officer Ralphie? They make you look so TOUGH!" (Kidding.) "No, sir."

Judge D: "Mrs. Dunn, go ahead and present your case."

Me: "On 50th street there are only two "No Parking" signs. One is at the bus stop. I was not parked there. The other is about 10 yards south of Chandler Boulevard and just south of that sign there is a sign that reads "No Parking Begins Here" which implies that south of that sign, parking is allowed. That is where I parked."

Judge D: Heavy sigh. "Now there are a lot of you here this morning facing a similar situation as Mrs. Dunn so let me explain something. A few years ago the city developed an ordinance. We live in a desert climate and they felt it necessary to control the dust so they prohibit parking in non-dust free lots. However, there are so many of these lots in Phoenix that it would be impossible to post "No Parking" signs in all of them. Therefore, they do not have to post those signs."

Well isn't that brilliant! Who is the brainiac that came up with that idea? Seriously, alert future President John McCain because I think this guy could fix our national debt crisis.

Judge D continues: "Now in most cases, a judge can evaluate mitigating circumstances, (Here's where I get my hopes up), like in Mrs. Dunn's case, the sign that says "No Parking begins here" which may have been misleading" (YA THINK!?!? But reality check here......half of the city of Phoenix can't read signs written in the English language so I'm doubting that will help me win the case). "However, in cases such as these the city ordinance prohibits a judge from either lowering or raising the assessed fine. In other words, it's a set fine". (Hopes shattered). "So the fine will be imposed as originally presented in the amount of $135.00. Mrs. Dunn, will you be making a full payment today?"

Me: "I'd like to appeal this ruling". (You'd better believe I said this).

Judge D: Clearly unsure of how to handle this since apparantly it must not happen too often. So he turns to the recorder. "How would this be handled?"

She then explains that I would have to file my appeal within 14 days. Still pay the fine today PLUS a filing fee. If the next judge ruled in my favor, I would be refunded the money. I'm feisty, but not foolish.

Me: "I'll pay in full. Can you answer a question for me your honor so that I can avoid future citations? Why on Frye road, just as you turn west off of 50th the cars fill that "dirt lot" just south of the school? Is that not a non-dust free area as well?"

Judge D: "Basically Mrs. Dunn, it comes down to the priorities of the City of Phoenix Police Department." (PRIORITIES?!!???!!!) "The enforcement of parking regulations along this area may not be a priority for them at this time". (OH, you mean along with the "No Parking, Fire Lane" all along the back of the school which is essentially a parking lot of eager parents waiting to pick up their kids from the hour of 2:30-3:30 every day? Let's hope there isn't ever a fire between these hours. Or how about the parents who don't want to fight the parking (or NO parking in this case) and so just stop along the street to let their kids out? Priorities, huh? Awesome. Thanks for clarifying.)

I exit out the left door. I want to throw Ralphie a wink and tell him not to work too hard today. I restrain myself. I get another paper from the bailif. I go down stairs. I take a number. I sit and wait. I pay the $135 fine with my sassy pink credit card. I walk the six blocks back to my car because I parked at 3rd Street instead of 3rd Avenue. I see a Paradise Bakery. I go buy a very large diet coke and an unsaid number of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. I find my car. I pay the parking fee. I do some serious emotional eating. I compose the letter in my head that I am going to write to the Phoenix Chief of Police. I call E and he is reminded of why he loves me so much and he falls in love all over again. I'm home now. I'm going to go clean my bathrooms. I'm going to think of how my hard earned money just handed over to the court today is going to pay for the meals of some illegal immigrant crowding our jails. I"ll scrub harder. My toilets will have never looked better.

I'll sleep better tonight knowing that there are fewer dust particles in the brown, mirky air of Phoenix all thanks to the brave efforts of officer Ralphie. I'll think about how in a few years I'll look back and laugh at this although right now that doesn't seem possible. Damn you Ralphie.
P.S. Dad, will you pay for me to go to law school? I know you've always thought I'd make a good lawyer.


Totally craving these.....

And it's a good thing I'll be in Utah in a few weeks to stock up!

Back To School...

Uh, six weeks ago that is. Can you believe it? I couldn't either because I was in denial that our summer only lasted seven weeks. Sadie starts her seventh week of school tomorrow and Deklan had his first week of preschool last week. Two hours on Tues. and Thurs. of solitude for me. I did get a lot done, but didn't really like being alone believe it or not. I guess that's why your children slowly grow their wings.

So here are the typical first day of school pics with a few extras thrown in of Sadie's hairdos. Sadie and I made a deal that if she got tired of me doing her hair everyday, we would cut it.....so far so good.

Life is good.

Labor Day Labors

It was sort of "spur of the moment" but we decided to beat the heat and take a "little" day trip to "Apple Annie's", a nice little orchard and farm to pick some apples and vegies. The kids loved it....apple picking, tractor ride, apple smoked hamburgers and all. They were completely worn out and fell asleep the second we were on the road home. That left 2 1/2 hours of uninterrupted "talk time" for Erik and I which made it completely worth the tank of gas.

All that harvesting made me wish I had some canning equipment (hint, hint momacita). Now I have a stash of apples, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and clearly not enough time nor the proper tools to do anything with our loot of food. We did come home and made eggplant parmesan, tomato basil bruschetta and apple crisp. Delish!

It was a nice way to try and capture that "fall feeling" since we clearly won't be feeling any of that here in Maricopa for at least another month and a half. I concluded that if I could recreate any of my childhood experiences for my children it would be that "fall feeling". The specifics? Well, every year my Pa and Nana (my mom's parents) would arrive for a 4-6 week visit bringing with them peaches, pears, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes and gobs of other food. I remember coming home from school every day to bottles simmering on the stove, the pressure cooker working it's magic and the smell of peaches and pears weaving throughout the house. And amongst all of the washing and peeling and slicing and boiling there would be a pot of autumn stew and fresh rolls for dinner. And then Sunday would roll around and Pa would make his famous caramel corn. I don't know why it took so long for him to boil that darn caramel. I make it now in no time at all, but it sure seemed like his caramel simmered for hours. Oh how the passing of time changes as an adult.

I can buy the equipment and do the canning. All I need now are the grandparents who are willing to come for more than an overnight stay and the cooler climate. One can dream, right? Someday, if I have anything to do with it, Sadie and Deklan will come home bundled up in their coats, darkness will settle in by 6:30 p.m. and they too will watch with amazement as the kitchen fills with bottles of food....and in the end they will look back and realize how much more they learned and experienced beyond the art of canning.

Time to Announce.....

that we're pregnant. And that would explain why I haven't been blogging. I've been puking instead. Forgive me. I'd rather be blogging. I'm 15 weeks along. Don't hurt yourself...I'll do the math. That's 3/8 of the way through my pregnancy. Oh, sorry, you probably don't care about that calculation. My due date is February 16th. I'm known to deliver early though, so I'm planning on the beginning of February. In case you are wondering, I detest, yes even hate (a word I don't use casually) being pregnant. I know it's a strong word, but pregnancy and my body don't get along. With Sadie I had horrific hives. With Deklan I had shingles. And with both I was nauseous for over half of the pregancy. Poor Erik. He's had to hear every day how I'm never, ever, ever, ever, never, never, ever, ever doing this again. Never. I know I sound like a brat. I know there are people out there who would give anything to be pregnant. People keep saying it's worth it in the end. Believe me....this I know or else I wouldn't be pregnant.

And now for the sweeter side of Stephanie. I love labor and delivery. It's true. I look forward to it. I'm even a little sad when the whole labor and delivery thing is over. In fact, I'd rather go through labor/delivery a dozen times if I could forgo the nine months of misery. That tells you two things. Either 1) I have really easy labors (TRUE) OR 2) I have really miserable pregnancies (TRUE).

Sadie wants a girl so bad. She is preparing herself for disappointment. She said to me, "Mom, if you want a boy then just say you want a girl. If you want a girl, then say you want a boy. I really really really bad want a boy". Deklan wants another "stister" probably because that's all he knows. I want a girl on most days. But having a boy would give Deklan a playmate...something I take into strong consideration on a DAILY basis! Especially now that Sadie is in school. And my cute little sister is 7 weeks ahead of me, pregnant with a little boy. How fun would that be to have little rugrats together? And Erik just is happy that I am willing to go through nine months of hell to have another baby.

Gotta run. Erik is coming through the door with my jalapeno poppers and diet coke. Yummy!!!! (believe me, that's the pregnancy talking!)

What's for dinner?

How many conversations have you had with your friends about trying to come up with something new for dinner? Yeah, yeah, we all know the story....pizza, spaghetti, chicken nuggets, macaronni and cheese...yada, yada, ya. Well, I love to cook and even though not every new recipe ends up being a keeper, I've had two successes in a row. Whoot whoot!

So here they are....

Baked Scallops

1 1/2 pds. sea scallops, rinsed and drained
4 T. butter, melted
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 scallions, chopped
3 pinches of ground nutmeg
salt and pepper
1/2 c. bread crumbs
2 T. olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400*
2. Pour the melted butter into a 2 qt. casserole dish. Distribute the scallops evenly over the butter.
3. Combine the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle the mixture over the scallops.
4. Bake in pre-heated oven until scallops are firm, about 20 minutes.

On the side we had mashed potatoes, green salad, and french bread. Delish!

Knock out #2:

Country-Style Pork Tacos with Tomato Salsa

1 T. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
1 1/2 tsp. chile powder
1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 pds. boneless country-style pork ribs

1 1/2 c. roughly chopped ripe tomatoes
1 large ripe avocado, finely diced
2 to 3 green onions, white part only, finely chopped
1/4 c. finely chopped fresh cilantro (Can I just say how much I L-O-V-E cilantro!!)
2 T. fresh lime juice
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

flour tortillas

1. Make the paste. Trim excess fat from the pork and then rub the paste all over. Cover and refrigerate the pork for 2 hrs. (or as long as 8 hrs.).
2. Make the salsa.
3. Allow the pork to stand at room temp. for 20-30 minutes. Grill over Direct Medium heat, 12 to 15 minutes. NOTE TO READER: GRILL WHENEVER POSSIBLE IN THE SUMMER TIME IN AZ. WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WANTS TO USE THE OVEN??!!!!!
4. Warm tortillas. (Can wrap in foil and place on grill for 2-4 minutes or use the microwave).
5. Cut the pork crosswise into very thin slices. Serve the sliced pork wrapped in warm tortillas with the salsa.

Serve with refried beans and fresh pineapple as your sides.

Sorry no photos of the food. Come on people, if I had to stop and take pictures, my kids would already be full on goldfish, fruit snacks, pretzels, oreos, bread and whatever else they could sneak out of the pantry. I swear as soon as I start cooking dinner they suddenly become ravishing and wither from starvation as I'm madly whipping together the ingredients. I promise they are Yum!