Easy Sidedish
Thursday, November 29, 2007

In continuing with my new and improved attitude toward cooking, I tried a couple new recipes tonight. The main dish was called "Swiss Chicken Bake". It was pretty good, but the Parmesan Rice side dish was the bigger hit. (Well, a hit with us grown-ups; only one of the three kids liked it.)

I can't find the site where I originally found the recipe, so it's reposted below:

Parmesan Rice

2 cups White Rice
2 cups water
1/3 cup canned mushrooms chopped
2 Tbsp butter or margarine
dash sea salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Cook rice on stove top according to directions on box. Take off the heat and stir in mushrooms, butter, salt, Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese.

The Very First Noel

Jonathan picked up The Very First Noel for the kids, and we all really like it!

Andy Griffith is the narrator, which automatically puts me in good spirits. I love that guy; his voice automatically makes me feel all warm and cozy. :-)

The dialogue and animation
are cute and engaging. I highly recommend adding it to your "Christmas Movie Library."

"oohs", "aaahs", and chocolatey goodness
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We decorated our Christmas tree tonight, and the kids adorable reactions did not disappoint. Lauryn had huge eyes and a perma-smile for most of the evening. Just as exciting to them as the tree decorating was the Hot Chocolate they got to drink afterward. Check them out, throwing the stuff back in huge gulps. I love this time of year.

Menus Galore

I've been known to get frustrated to the point of tears when it comes to coming up with meal ideas. I just struggle in the kitchen. It's a mixture of not feeling confident, trying to keep to a somewhat limited budget, and....well....laziness. But, if my family has to eat spaghetti one more time they may turn into noodles, so I'm gearing up to try some new creative dinners. I know grocery shopping and cooking does not have to be a form of torture - I have friends who actually enjoy it, so I am in the middle of an attitude overhaul.

I found this blog posting today, which links to the weekly menu of 192 different women. A little (lot) overwhelming, but just clicking around for a few minutes I found a few new meal ideas. And it's encouraging to think that if 192 women can plan menus, and find time to post them online complete with recipes, I can at least cook dinner each night without tears involved. Tonight I'm trying "Fiesta Soup" served with cornbread. Let's all hope for the best.

: The Soup was a moderate hit. Here's the recipe:

Fiesta Soup

2 cans chicken broth
10 oz canned chicken (drained)
1 can rotel (drained)
1 can corn (drained)
1 can black beans (drained & rinsed)

It was a little bit on the "brothy" side; if you prefer your soup thicker you could add some velveeta.

I served it topped with a generous amount of shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream. Also, on a prior tip I heard from my mother-in-law, I added some frozen corn to the Jiffy cornbread before baking. (Actually, her tip was to add a can of creamed corn, but I didn't have that.) Good stuff if topped with loads of butter. :-)

Snow (a few flakes anyway!)
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

When we got home to Lubbock on Saturday, there were a few remnants of snowfall left in our backyard from a dusting the area got earlier in the week. The kids were so excited about the 1/4 inch of snow on the patio table and chairs - I can't wait until they finally get to see a real snowfall. The years we lived in Dallas, the most we ever got was ice; we never saw the fluffy stuff. A slight snow fall this Sunday caused some squeals, but there was no accumulation. Here's hoping for a White Christmas!

For those of you who live in beautiful mountain locations (Catrina), no laughing at me for getting out the camera for this pitiful amount of snow!

Brief Reunion
Monday, November 26, 2007

When we moved to Lubbock, my sister-in-law Joy and her husband Brian adopted our dog Zack. It has been a smooth adoption, and I think Zack is now the favored dog in their family. (Don't tell German Shepherd Katie or Terrier Max if you should happen to meet them.)

While we were in OK for Thanksgiving, they brought Zack over for a visit. The boys were so excited to see him!

I fully expect to start being frequently asked if we can get another dog. I've steeled my resolve and I'm prepared to give a firm "No!", at least for the time being! I'm stressed out enough just trying to potty-train an obstinate human. No way I'm adding house breaking a dog to my to-do list.

My favorite missionary family in Japan

Check out the new addition to my list of favorite blogs (aka "The Hamper"): Cash Clan Japan.

They've just gotten their blog up and running, so check back with them often!

"...only have eyes for you..."
Saturday, November 24, 2007

Holiday Nighties from Papaw and Mo
Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ryan 5 years
Connor 13 months
Dylan 4 years
Lauryn 2 years

This was one of approximately 13,239 pictures that were snapped, attempting to get all four of them to smile at once.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dylan is seeing a speech-language pathologist once a week. (Brief history of his speech delay here and here.) Yes, I am a speech-language pathologist. However, the time had come to call in reinforcements. I suspected, and was correct, that Dylan would be willing to work a bit harder to impress a "teacher" than he had been to impress his mom. It's going well!

This week his homework is practicing the sound of the letter F. He's doing great! His tendency has been to substitute the "t" sound for the "f" sound. But now he can correctly tell you his age is "FOUR!" instead of "TORE!", and tell you he has "FEET" instead of "TEET." Yay for Dylan! I'm very proud of him and how hard he's working.
Cute conversation we had earlier this week:
"Dylan, how old are you?
"How old is Ryan?"
"How old is Lauryn?"
Apparently he determined that "f" was the magic sound, which added to the beginning of any word would earn him much praise.


Fun with little sister
Monday, November 19, 2007

Ryan picks up a ball, tosses it across the room, and says "Fetch Lauryn!"

And she does.

I need to introduce more geography concepts

We're in Sand Springs, OK this week with family for Thanksgiving. There's no place like home for the holidays!

Conversation between Ryan and I yesterday as we drove to my Grandmother's house:

"Mom, a lot of people in Oklahoma have American flags too! Like people in Texas!"

"Ryan, that's because Oklahoma is an state just like Texas is a state. They're just 2 of the 50 states in the United States of America. " [I'm trying not to raise him like a typical Texan, believing that Texas is it's own country.]

"Oh. I see."

"Can you think of other states?"

"Yeah....like Arkansas. And Broken Arrow. [a suburb of Tulsa] And England."

I think a globe might be good idea for a Christmas present.

Sleeping Beauty
Thursday, November 15, 2007

It is a pretty comfy chair. I've fallen asleep just like this a couple of times myself.


I really hate it when I get home from shopping, only to immediately realize I forgot to purchase something. Today that something was garbage bags.

Big Brother
Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ryan is really starting to embrace the role of "big brother." Yesterday, the kids were in the backyard playing, and me and Jonathan were in the house with the back door open, keeping an ear on what they were doing. While they were playing near the fence the neighbor's dog started barking. This always kind of scares Lauryn, and she generally hightails it for the door and comes in the house. But yesterday, she yelled "BUBBA! DOG!", and hightailed it across the yard to Ryan. She threw her arms around him, and he knelt down on her level and hugged her and told her not to be scared. So sweet. And so grown-up.

But then tonight he cried when his brother beat him at Candyland. So it's not like we're really on the precipice of adulthood or anything.

Lauryn has also discovered that Ryan can pick her up and walk with her, so among her favorite phrases is "Hold me Bubba!" Then they both crack up as he teeters around doing his best not to drop her. Cute.

Lauryn is also getting big kicks out of imitating both her brothers. Which sometimes amuses them, sometimes not. Here's a picture of her doing her best to keep up with Ryan tonight.

Good and Ready

"O Lord, you are so good,

so ready to forgive,
so full of unfailing love
for all who ask for your help."

Psalm 86:5

Thanksgiving: The Forgotten Holiday?
Saturday, November 10, 2007

Okay, last weekend in Lubbock we saw a house that ALREADY HAS CHRISTMAS LIGHTS ON IT. (Then we saw a sign in their yard, advertising a "Christmas Light Installation" company. So maybe if they were just trying to advertise their business I can forgive them for decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving. Maybe.)

Thanksgiving is a great holiday:

In light of all these facts, why oh why are there people who look right past this great holiday and begin the countdown to Christmas in mid-October?

If you are one of those people that put up your Christmas tree before the Thanksgiving Turkey has even been purchased, explain yourself!

Tall Tales
Thursday, November 8, 2007

Overheard last night between two four-year-old girls at church as they colored together:

"Whatcha drawin'?"

"Well...this is my grandma. And this is my grandma after she turned into an alien. This was her spaceship, but she was too big to fit in it. She broke it."

"Oh. So what happened?"

"Well..my Grandpa is small, so when he turned into an alien he could fit into his spaceship. So it was okay."

"Oh. Did that really happen?"


I adore preschoolers!

Fall Fun
Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Along with two of my friends and and their kids, Dylan and Lauryn and I went to the Corn Maze in Lubbock today. We skipped out on the main attraction - the actual Corn Maze. We didn't think toddlers would appreciate what's fun about wandering around lost in huge corn stalks. They did however have fun in the hay maze, looking at the farm animals, taking a hay ride, and riding the Cow Train. I love the picture of all the big siblings holding onto the little siblings. So cute!


Holy Mini-Blinds Batman!

Sidekick Robin is the latest superhero to find himself in peril at the Cliff house. The villains (Ryan and Dylan) are ruthless. The first two superhero installments can be found here and here.

Falsely Accused

I walked into the boy's room, and there was hand lotion completely covering the top of their toy box. Dylan was drawing pictures in it with his finger, and was covered in lotion up to his elbows. Lauryn was standing across the room watching, without a drop of lotion anywhere on her body. Dylan, dripping with evidence of the crime, looked straight up at me and said "Lauryn did it."

Birthday Milestone: Another Adult in the Cliff Family
Thursday, November 1, 2007

Jonathan's baby brother is 18 years old today. Holy. Cow. That is so hard to believe.

He is about to graduate from high school, but part of me will always see him as the cute little tyke in sweat pants and cowboy boots, squeezing in between Jonathan and I while we sat together on the couch.

He was Dylan's age when I met Jonathan, and the time between him being four and turning eighteen has FLOWN by. (Gulp.)

We have been and will continue to try to coerce him to come live in Lubbock and attend Texas Tech University. The chances of that happening are about 1 in 1,238,993; great animosity toward all Texas schools is an inborn trait in Oklahomans! We've lived here six months, and Jonathan still checks Tech football scores with a hint of shame in his eyes that he has any interest.

World's Smallest (and most adorable) Giraffe

The ring toss game was apparently a big hit with our nephew Connor in Oklahoma!

Connor has very limited experience with sugar, so this new and wonderful drink called lemonade was met with great excitement! Helping him drink it became a two person job: Grandma had to hold Connor's head back while his mom held the cup, to keep him from diving in! So cute. We can't wait to see him at Thanksgiving!

Cliff Familyt

I'm Starr Cliff. A domestically-challenged mom, climbing over mountains of laundry to bring you my stray observations and amusing stories about my kids. (more)



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