24 February 2011

Feeling under the weather

We've had a rough start to 2011, health-wise. Chris started it all with bronchitis, ear infections and a sinus virus in early January. Then Avery got sick. And last week it was my turn. It took two rounds of antibiotics for Chris to get better. And two months later, he's still fighting a slight cough. Add in an unexpected minor diagnostic procedure last week, and Chris is tired of being in doctors' offices already this year. (I'll let Chris decide if he'll share his story and video blog with the world!) So I wasn't surprised when Avery picked up a cough and a runny nose a few weeks ago. When the cough got worse and didn't go away, I took her to the doctor for her first sick-baby visit. And I was glad I did. She had a "wet" cough and was starting to get fluid in her ears. So the doctor prescribed a 10-day round of amoxicillin. Things were going well -- Avery was getting better, then I got hit. I was completely out of commission last Friday. Then Chris insisted that I see a doctor on Saturday for my cough. I also was diagnosed with bronchitis. Thanks, Honey! :o) Another trip to the pharmacy for a cough medicine prescription, and a few days later I was all better. But also on Saturday, Avery had a splotchy rash over her whole body. The nurse at her doctor's office told us to stop the amoxicillin (in case it was an allergic reaction) and start Benadryl. When the rash didn't improve by Monday, we took Avery to the doctor again ... on her birthday! What a way to celebrate your birthday! All of the nurses fawned over her and lavished her with birthday stickers. She loved the stickers but didn't really understand what the fuss was about! After looking at the rash, the nurse told us that it wasn't an allergic reaction. Thank goodness! It could have been a virus that affected Avery as a rash. Or it could have been something else. We may never know! Rashes can be difficult to diagnose since they affect everyone differently. We were told to keep up the Benadryl and watch for anything to worsen. Wouldn't you know it that the next morning she woke up with the rash completely gone! I guess whatever it was worked its way out of her system. So between everyone being sick and the big girl's birthday on Monday, we haven't had a chance to update the blog lately. The official birthday party is this Saturday, so after that we'll have lots of pictures, videos and stories to share!

09 February 2011

The mecca of Indiana basketball

When I saw that Chris had a game at Milan High School this year, I knew I had to go with him. (Even though it was on my mom's birthday. Thank goodness she's a basketball fan and was born in Milan. She understood why I had to go!)
Surely, you've heard of the 1954 Milan basketball team and the famous game-winning shot by Bobby Plump. Or maybe you saw how the team's story inspired the movie Hoosiers. * * Side story #1 * *

Back in 2005, one of the events I helped plan at the hospital featured Bobby Plump as the guest speaker. Not only did Chris and I get to meet Bobby personally and take a picture with him, Chris introduced Bobby before his speech. The lead event planner knew how much Chris loved basketball and the movie Hoosiers, so he asked Chris to do the introduction. It was a neat day for both of us! * * Back to your regularly scheduled blog post. * * I was very excited to see the home of the famous Milan team. So Chris let me tag along with him. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to see the water tower. Here is the championship banner in the gym. In the movie, Hickory was portrayed as a real underdog. But Milan actually made it to the State Finals the year before they won. So it wasn't a complete shock that they won in 1954. Center court says "The Heart of Hoosier Hysteria." There is a wall of fame in the lobby of the gym. Bobby Plump is wearing the basketball net around his neck. The game ball. And the winning trophy. This scoreboard in the lobby had the score from the real game. But it was turned off by the time I had a chance to take a picture.

Now, here's the real reason I went to the game: to watch Chris ref! He was the head referee. In this role, he leads both the coaches' meeting and the team captains' meeting. I always see how much he loves officiating when he leads these meetings. He's so happy and animated. Another responsibility of the head referee is to review and sign the official scorer's book. And of course, the head referee tosses the ball to start the game. And since my critical grammar eyes never stop working...Can someone tell me why they put a random semicolon at the end of the first line on this sign? * * Side story #2 * * One day I'll tell you about the surprise 30th birthday party I gave Chris and how it relates to the movie Hoosiers!

08 February 2011

Easy Granola Apple Crisp

I love using my slow cooker. But I never considered using it for a sweet snack. Recently I found several dessert recipes that I'd like to try. This one was a great way to warm up during last week's storms. While the recipe calls for apple pie filling, I'm sure this would be equally as good with cherry or peach pie filling. Ingredients 2 21-ounce cans apple pie filling 2 1/2 cups granola cereal 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon 1/3 cup sugar 1/3 cup melted butter or margarine Preparation Instructions Place pie filling on bottom of greased 3 to 4 1/2-quart slow cooker. In the order listed above, sprinkle remaining ingredients over the pie filling. Cover and cook on low heat 3 hours. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

07 February 2011

Snow day activities

Avery handled our ice and snow storms very well last week. I'm sure she was starting to get cabin fever like me, but she was such a trooper -- especially since she had to entertain herself a lot while I worked from home. She did all of the usual activities, like watching Curious George and Sesame Street, reading books and playing with her babies. Here are Daddy and Avery watching Sesame Street:

And Avery made a picnic lunch for her babies:

Daddy and Avery also invented a new game. They sat on the basement floor and tossed a basketball up the stairs, then watched it bounce back down. Avery really got a kick out of it!

03 February 2011

PW's Chicken Tortilla Soup

I'm always on the lookout for new recipes. And since I know how difficult it is to find tasty, easy recipes, I'd like to start sharing some of my favorite ones with you! One of my favorite sources for inspiration is The Pioneer Woman. I've liked every one of her recipes that I've made. And when I recently saw her Chicken Tortilla Soup, I knew I had to try it myself. Since this recipe doesn't really lend itself for a quick weeknight dinner after a long day of work, I made this soup while we were stuck at home during this week's ice storm. Our household rule is to follow the recipe exactly the first time, then make edits for the second time (if there is one!). But for this recipe, I don't think I would change anything. You can either read The Pioneer Woman's step-by-step instructions with pictures (one of the reasons I love her recipes so much) or see the recipe below.

Ingredients
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoons garlic powder
½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion
¼ cups diced green bell pepper
¼ cups diced red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies
32 ounces, fluid low sodium chicken stock
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups hot water
2 cans black beans, drained
3 tablespoons cornmeal or masa
5 whole corn tortillas, cut into uniform strips around 2 to 3 inches
Garnishes: Sour cream, diced avocado, diced red onion, salsa or pico de gallo, grated monterey jack cheese, cilantro

Preparation Instructions 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cumin, chili pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix. Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, red pepper, green pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir. Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered. Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Check seasonings, adding more if needed—add more chili powder if it needs more spice, and be sure not to undersalt. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips. Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream, diced red onion, diced avocado, pico de gallo, and grated cheese, if you have it! (The garnishes really make the soup delicious.)

01 February 2011

Ice, ice, baby!

The ice storm of the century hit our neck of the woods last night. I already planned to work from home. (I'm so grateful that my job is flexible enough that I can work from home any time!) So I was disappointed when Chris called to check in at work and found out that his office wasn't closed. He headed to work at the usual time and arrived without incident. Avery and I hung out at home during the morning. She was a good sport to keep herself entertained while I worked as much as I could, in between holding her and her babies. Chris was sent home at noon since the next wave was scheduled to arrive in the afternoon. So we all ended up spending the afternoon together...Chris played with Avery while I worked some more, and I often joined them for a little playtime, too. (And thank goodness Chris' class was cancelled tonight, even though I think he was looking forward to making his final presentation for this class.) Here are pictures of the first round of ice this afternoon: I guess we should have taken down the flag before the storm.

We're hunkered down and prepared for another half-inch of ice tonight as well as snow and heavy winds tomorrow. I sure hope Chris will be home with us all day tomorrow. While it's a little nerve-racking to think about being stuck at home for a few days and possibly losing power from downed power lines, it is nice to be at home together with nothing important to do except play and enjoy each other!