Dream. Try. Do good.

Mr. Feeny’s final advice to the kids on Boy Meets World is now on our living room wall. (The picture above his words was drawn by my great-grandfather around 1900 when he was about Fritz’s age.)

Dream. Try. Do good.


Insurance Companies Annoy Me

Ani’s rheumatologist prescribed some new medications for her and once again we’re in insurance company limbo. So often the insurance company has decided they know better than her doctors and refused to allow her to have what was prescribed, sometimes demanding a different medicine be used instead. I just don’t think the insurance company people really know better than a doctor. But they certainly think they do.

I grew a whole human!

I grew a whole human!
Happy 18th birthday, Ani!


Our Christmas

We had an excellent Christmas. Everyone was very happy with their gifts and the little guys are old enough now to pick out presents to give other people so they were pretty excited about that. As an added bonus, my parents finally arrived a few days before Christmas and are working on getting all their stuff unpacked making us a multi-generational household once again.

We put up our tree the day after Thanksgiving. Jamie and I also did pretty much all our Christmas shopping that day. Adrian was a little puzzled by all the wrapped packages under the tree. This is the first year we’ve done that (since all the kids have figured out Santa isn’t real and everyone is old enough not to open anything before Christmas).
Our Christmas

I got 24 little Christmas books and wrapped them all up with a piece of an Advent Nativity my mom made me years ago. Each evening from December 1st to 24th, the boys unwrapped a book for me to read to them and put the Nativity piece up to finish the picture. The boys also insisted that I make a countdown chain for them to rip off one piece each day. They love countdown chains.
Our Christmas

The kids left their shoes out and got candy and little presents for St. Nicholas Day.
Our Christmas

We got a huge surprise when it actually snowed. Considering we live in south Texas, this was definitely something unusual.
Our Christmas

We went to Main Street Bethlehem in Burnet and the Walkway of Lights in Marble Falls. Both were very amazing displays.
Our Christmas

We did our annual Random Acts of Christmas Kindness December 1st through 24th.
Our Christmas

My parents couldn’t find their stockings before Christmas (we found them a couple days later), so we got ones from Target for them on Christmas Eve (not much of a selection, but 70% off).
Our Christmas

Christmas morning our stockings were full and there were presents for the animals, too. Lola’s pile was a bit bigger than all the others.
Our Christmas

Everyone was quite happy with what they were given.
Our Christmas

But then there was the totally awesome present. Cameron decided to get a Nintendo Switch for him and his siblings to share. Ani got a couple games to play on it. The little guys were so surprised and so excited.

It really made a wonderful Christmas absolutely unforgettable. Even though Christmas is all put away now (did that on Saturday), wonderful memories were made. Merry Christmas a little late (or really, really early – your choice).
Our Christmas


It’s a New Year!

In less than a week I will have had this blog for 12 years. That’s kind of nuts. I can’t believe it’s 2018.

In just 6 weeks, I will have successfully grown a whole human when Ani turns 18. She sent in her voter registration last week. She’ll be able to vote in the primary in March.

This year Cameron will turn 17 and start 11th grade, Fritz will turn 12 and start 7th grade (and get the Priesthood at church), and Adrian will turn 10 and start 5th grade. Jamie and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.

We’re about halfway done with year 2 of Layers of Learning. In the fall we’ll move on to year 3, the age of exploration to the American Revolution. We’re really liking Layers of Learning.

So, welcome 2018. It should be awesome!


We Tried Plated

A few weeks ago we tried Plated, our fifth meal kit service. Once again we got three two-serving meals and made them for lunch.

1.) Most of the ingredients for each meal were packaged in plastic bags making it easy to pull everything out at once for cooking.
2.) Good size portions so everyone had plenty.
3.) Very convenient.
4.) The instructions were colorful and easy to follow.
5.) It was relatively easy to find the gluten free options on their website.
6.) The vegetables were very fresh.

1.) The meals are expensive compared to getting the ingredients on your own.
2.) Various people in the family didn’t like some of the parts of the meals.
3.) One ingredient in one meal was white wine and this really disturbed Fritz.
4.) The roasted red peppers container opened in the bag and so the oil was all over everything when we opened it.

The box arrived the day they said it would. It got here pretty late, but still before the cut off time. In the top of the box was the three recipe cards. Then the big vegetables and bags of ingredients. On the bottom was the meat, very well sealed.

All together, the box contained quite a bit of food. I liked how the ingredient bags were rolled down so they took up as little space as possible in the refrigerator.

The first meal we made was Steak au Poivre with Crispy Fingerling Potatoes. Other than not knowing how to pronounce the name of it, it was quite good. Fritz helped me make it and chose music by the Transiberian Orchestra to cook to. They sent fingerling potatoes, a shallot, a garlic clove, 2 steaks, baby spinach, cracked black pepper, white wine (this disturbed Fritz and he refused to eat the sauce because of it), heavy cream, and dijon mustard. As with all meal kits, we provided the olive oil, salt, and (regular) pepper.

I prepared the vegetables. I minced the shallot and divided it into two piles and minced the garlic. I cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and tossed them with oil, salt, and pepper.

Meanwhile, Fritz got the steaks ready to cook by patting them dry and seasoning them on both sides.

We seared the steaks and wilted the spinach (it was just garlic, salt, pepper, and spinach).

The steak turned out excellent. The sauce was good, too, but because of the white wine in it (no matter how much we explained that the alcohol cooks off), Fritz wouldn’t eat it. The potatoes were delicious. I liked the spinach, too, but at least Cameron did not.

The second meal we made was Piri Piri Chicken with Crispy Potato Chips and Sauteed Kale. Adrian helped me with this one. He chose songs by Sabrina Carpenter to accompany our cooking. They sent dinosaur kale, Yukon Gold potatoes, roasted red peppers, 2 lemons, a shallot, 3 cloves of garlic, spice mix (cayenne, oregano, and smoked paprika), red wine vinegar, chicken thighs, and parchment paper.

I cut up the vegetables. I trimmed the kale, cut the potatoes into rounds (I used our mandolin for that rather than a knife), cut up the lemons, chopped the shallot, minced the garlic, and chopped up the roasted red pepper.

I made the marinade. Some of it went on the chicken and the rest was saved to be used as a sauce. The recipe suggested pureeing the sauce if we wanted to. I am glad I did. The flavors blended very nicely.

We baked the chicken and potatoes. The potatoes ended up as perfect baked potato chips. Even if we don’t recreate anything else from our Plated meals, we’ll make these again. If I had paid attention when ordering, I would not have gotten this meal because I do not like dark chicken meat or chicken with bones in it or chicken with skin on it. I’m very picky when it comes to chicken. It wasn’t bad, but if I did this one again, I’d make it with boneless skinless chicken breast.

I was really looking forward to this meal because when we lived in DC we used to go to a place called Nando’s. This is the type of food they served. The flavor wasn’t as good as Nando’s, but it was close.

The third meal we made was Pan-Roasted Pork Chop with Maple Pan Sauce, Roasted Vegetables, and Truffled Walnuts. Cameron helped me make it. He chose songs from Hamilton to play while we cooked. They sent herb mix (sage and thyme), carrots, parsnips, fingerling potatoes, dijon mustard, pork chops, baby spinach, walnuts, crushed red pepper, maple syrup, truffle zest, and apple cider vinegar.

I cut up the vegetables while Cameron prepared the pork. I sliced the parsnips and carrots and halved the potatoes lengthwise.

Cameron made the sauce while I made the glazed walnuts.

The pork was very good. The sauce was okay. I wasn’t a big fan of the parsnips. The walnuts were pretty gross. The maple syrup and truffle flavor just wasn’t good. This was definitely our least favorite of these three meals.

After five meal kit services, Home Chef is still our number one choice. Plated ended up ranked right in the middle of the pack.

1. Home Chef
2. Blue Apron
3. Plated
4. Hello Fresh
5. Sun Basket


Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, Days 17-24

We have completed the final 8 days of Random Acts of Christmas Kindness (see days 1-8 here and days 9-16 here).

On Sunday the 17th, he boys took treats to their primary teachers.
Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, Days 17-24

On Monday the 18th, we taped change to a vending machine.
Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, Days 17-24

On Tuesday the 19th, we paid for someone else’s food at Kneader’s.
Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, Days 17-24

On Wednesday the 20th, we attempted to put carts in the corrals at Target and HEB, but there were none to put away. So, instead, we rearranged the carts in the corrals at HEB so they’d be easier for the employees to take back up to the store.
Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, Days 17-24

On Thursday the 21st, we took food to the food bank.
Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, Days 17-24

On Friday the 22nd, we left microwave popcorn on Redbox machines.
Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, Days 17-24

On Saturday the 23rd, we candy cane bombed a parking lot.
Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, Days 17-24

On Sunday the 24th, we used hug coupons to get hugs from each other.
Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, Days 17-24