Monday, June 22, 2009

Heavy Hearts


This weekend I had a heavy heart.

Very rarely do I blog about the infertility struggle my husband and I face. Not that I am ashamed or embarrassed by our situation. Had blogging been around 10+ years ago when we began this infertility odyssey, I'm sure I would have found blogging to be a very therapeutic outlet. But it wasn't, and since I have been blessed twice over I tend to blog about my sweet daughter and son and gloss over all of our pregnancy drama. But back to this weekend.

Each day, my little ones love to go to the mailbox to check for mail. On Saturday afternoon, my precious in vitro miracle said, "Mommy, there's a box in the mailbox, but I can't get it out." Immediately I grew excited. What could be in there? A belated birthday gift for Daddy? A surprise for my little ones? Free samples for Mommy?

It was free samples, alright. A big box of Similac formula. My heart stopped...skipped a beat...the wind knocked out of me. You see, this 4th of July we were expecting a new baby; only it wasn't meant to be. Last December I miscarried around the 11-week mark. So, difficult Christmas...difficult 4th of July.

And yet, there is so much to be thankful for. So much that I have been given and blessed with. And this morning my heart is lighter. As I went to photograph the box of formula for this post (b/c that's what we bloggers do...photograph everything) I couldn't find the box. My sweet, sweet husband must have hidden/disposed of the painful reminder of what's not meant to be. Perhaps his heart was a bit heavy too this Father's Day weekend.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Summer Solstice!

Welcome Summer, you've officially arrived! What a great way to celebrate all the dad's out there by providing them with an extra hour of sunlight to get all those yard/garage/gardening and GRILLING tasks accomplished...ha ha!

Daddy was on-duty this Father's Day weekend (fire fighter), and coincidentally, had to provide the weekend meal at the station. So, to celebrate the advent of summer I prepared a couple of casseroles to accompany his crock pot barbecue chicken recipe that he planned to serve 9 hungry men at the station. (I doubled the recipes so there are two each of both dishes.) Enjoy!

Picnic Potatoes
1 (32 oz.) bag frozen hash browns (thawed)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of chicken soup (undiluted)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp. pepper
crushed butter crackers
butter for top

Preparation:
Combine potatoes, cheese, soup, sour cream, onion, and seasoning. Place in well greased 9" x 13" casserole. Top with crushed crackers and dot with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Serves 10-12.
(Note: I sent a sleeve of butter crackers with Chris to the station so that they wouldn't get soggy throughout the day until meal prep time.)




Spicy Cream Corn
2 cans corn
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 (4 oz.) can green chilies
1/4 Cup milk
1 tbsp. butter

Preparation:
Drain chilies and corn and mix everything together. Heat to boiling and serve.
(Note: For the guys at the station, I spread the spicy cream corn in an aluminum foil pan and sprinkled cheese over the top. Chris heated in the oven along with the potatoes. I typically prepare the spicy cream corn on the stovetop.)

Decadent Chocolate Fudge Cake


To celebrate both Daddy's birthday and Father's Day this year, I made a Decadent Chocolate Fudge Cake. It was delicious! Recipe to follow (or click on the link for a printable version from About.com).

Start by baking a two-layer cake mix cake (gotta love starting easy).
r>
Next combine cubed cake with a rich chocolate ganache to form a fudge-like mixture.






Spread mixture in a spring-form pan; freeze for one hour. Unmold cake and place on serving plate. Coat cake on the top and sides with remaining chocolate ganache. Store in refrigerator.


Ingredients:
1 pkg. two-layer devil's food cake mix
1-1/3 cups water
1/2 cup safflower or peanut oil (I used canola)
3 eggs
16 oz. good quality semisweet chocolate, chopped
1-1/3 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter

Preparation:
Prepare cake mix as directed on package, using water, oil, and egg measurements above. Bake in two greased and floured 8" round pans at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes, remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Melt chocolate in medium saucepan over low heat. Heat cream and butter together in a large saucepan until it boils. Pour cream over chocolate and beat with wire whisk until smooth. Cool 20 minutes.

Line 9" springform pan with waxed paper. Cut cooled cake into cubes. Place cake cubes in large mixer bowl. Pour 1-1/2 cups ganache over the cake cubes and mix on low speed with an electric mixture until texture is like thick fudge. Spread evenly in prepared pan, smoothing top. Freeze for one hour. Unmold cake, place on serving plate, remove waxed paper, and coat cake on teh top and sides with remaining chocolate ganache. Store in refrigerator, 16-20 servings.

Happy Birthday/Father's Day, Daddy!

“We never know the love of our parents for us till we have become parents.”
(Henry Ward Beecher, 1813-1887)


Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there including two very special grandpas!

Chris' Dad, Grandpa K., on Mary's 4th birthday.


My dad, Papa, on Benjamin's birth day.


My sweet husband was actually born on Father's Day 42 years ago. Happy Birthday Daddy!


What did Daddy get...? What every fire fighter secretly desires...his very own collection of the television series, EMERGENCY!


Yup, I married my very own, "Johnny Gage". Happy Father's Day, Chris. Thanks for being a wonderful husband and father!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pink Saturday in Bloom

Happy Pink Saturday!

It's been a busy summer already around our house. For Pink Saturday, I thought that I would share our front porch flowers. (Sorry, only a bit of pink today!) For more pink beauty, please visit Beverly over at How Sweet the Sound. Have a lovely weekend!

Pink Geraniums, May 2009


Pink Geraniums, June 2009


Magnolia grandiflora, "Brackens Brown Beauty"


Magnolia grandiflora after a gentle spring rain.


Boston fern

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

From Gibson Girls to Flappers: Coming of Age During the Jazz Era


To celebrate her birthday this year, sweet Sares, over at Loveleigh Treasures is hosting a blog costume party. Attendees are to post a picture of a costume that represents their favorite movie, historical figure, era, etc. Don't forget to visit Loveleigh Treasures to see what other fanciful costumes are at the party!

With so many splendid historical time periods to chooose from, it was difficult to focus on just one. So, I decided to dedicate this post to the loving memory, and early years, of my grandmother, Mary Geraldine Rosplochowski (1905-1993).

My Grandma Ross, as we referred to her, was born into the Edwardian period (1901-1919). The Edwardian period (named so, because after Queen Victoria's passing her son Edward VII assumed the throne) signaled a shift in women's and children's clothing. At this time, children were still seen and not heard. Here is an example of what a child of the Edwardian period might have worn for a formal portrait:


Image from http://www.costumegallery.com/virgini3.htm

Beginning in the 1890s (the late Victorian/early Edwardian period often overlaps) women began participating in more sports including tennis, croquet, golf, fencing, riding and cycling. This "New Woman" of the 1890s would go on to experience the sport of motoring in the 1900s. Although still restrictive, dresses began to allow for more flexibility and easier movement.

Referred to as Gibson Girls, the ladies of this era were "the personification of a feminine ideal as portrayed in the satirical pen and ink illustrated stories created by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson during a twenty year period spanning the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the United States." (Wikipedia) The Gibson Girls' appeal began to fade with the advent of World War I.

As the Roaring 20s approached, my grandmother reached her teenage years. At the tender age of 16, she married my grandfather on New Year's Eve 1921. The one and only picture that I have ever seen of my grandmother's wedding shows her sporting a chic bobbed haircut complete with finger waves and "flapper" dress. I read that the flapper dress did not technically appear on scene until 1926, but apparently in New York hemlines had already risen dramatically along with bobbed hair, and rouge! Though technically not a flapper (most American women were not), I imagine that the Roaring 20s was an exciting time for my grandmother to come of age.

As I searched the internet for images of 1920s style dresses, I came across this beauty offered at Dorothea's Closet Vintage. Fortunately, this classic 20's style flapper dress has found a home in some lucky gal's closet. The bead work and Art Deco style is divine! (Now all I'm missing are some vintage 1920s shoes, a Cloche hat, and an Art Deco beaded purse!)





(Description of dress from Dorothea's Closet Vintage: Sheer pale apricot silk chiffon flapper dress with rhinestone and silver bead design and gorgeous staggered loop fringe hemline. Note dramatic deco cutout detail in back. No label.)

During her 88-years on this Earth, my grandmother would live through two World Wars, the Korean War, The Vietnam Conflict and the Gulf War. She would be granted the right to vote by the ratification of the 19th Amendment, survive the Stock Market Crash and Great Depression of the 1930s, get her driver's license and fly on jet liners to visit her 19 grandchildren scattered throughout the country. She was a sweet and loving soul who I was honored to name my precious daughter after.

Mary Catherine, was born just shy of my Grandmother's 100th birthday. Mary never got to meet her great-grandmother, but she carries on her legacy by bearing her sweet, yet strong, first name. I can only speculate as to what technological advances, sweeping political reforms, and fashion noteworthy eras will come about during her lifetime in the 21st century!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Costume Party!


Tomorrow, my sweet blogging friend Sares, from Loveleigh Treasures is hosting a costume party in celebration of her birthday. I am so excited and can hardly wait to see all the fabulous historical/theatrical/period pieces that her party attendees "wear". Sares even suggested that we dress up our blogs.

So, in honor of tomorrow's costume party, I added back my playlist that I removed a few months ago, albeit, edited to reflect my costume's theme. See you all tomorrow as I take a step back into yesteryear!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I *heart* Faces: The Vacation Edition (Gulf Shores)



As summer is upon us, we are at a crossroads in our house as to what to do for summer vacation. This year, finances must be taken in to consideration as mommy is no longer working outside of the home. Some of us want to go to the beach (ME) and an invitation has been extended by family in Florida; while others (DADDY) want to go to the mountains. I have to admit the Rockies are much closer to Kansas then the Gulf of Mexico! Regardless of what we decide to do, we are bound to make summer memories that last a lifetime.

For the past four years, we have vacationed down at Gulf Shores, AL. Probably the closest stretch of gulf/oceanfront property to Kansas City. We regularly rent our condo from the same sweet couple and have begun to think of them as friends. The majority of these photos were captured on the beach! Enjoy.

Yep, there's a baby hidden on that luggage cart! Sign should read, "Have Toddler... Will Bring Potty Chair".


Beach Shots










This little one was all tuckered out after sun, seafood, and souvenir shopping!


For other "vitual vacations" don't hesitate to click on the I *heart* Photography button at the top of this post!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Education of Children


"Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the stars and the mountains above. Let them look at the waters and the trees and flowers on Earth. Then they will begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education."
David Polis

The little ones and I have been pupils of Mother Nature. We have been diligent students, being educated about the ways of the birds, and the bees, and the flowers on the trees! We are becoming better caretakers of the Earth.

"Look, Mom...Carrots, just like Rabbit!" (One of Mary's favorite characters from Winnie the Pooh)


Benjamin loves helping to water the plants and flowers.


Filling up the bird bath.


Our beautiful magnolia in bloom. This variety smells delicious and is tolerant of the bitter winter we experience here in Kansas. Notice the bee on the bloom (upper right hand corner) that was about to attack!


As I post this, the angels in heaven are serenading us with peals of thunder and lightening. How has Mother Nature entertained you?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things




Happy Pink Saturday! Here are just a few of my favorite things... Don't forget to drop by How Sweet the Sound to see everyone else's favorite pink things. Thanks, Beverly!

Mary Catherine after a street fair.


Renewing my love affair with Barbie through my daughter!


Baking with the princess.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Curious Kids

Just a quick note to let you all know that I created a new blog titled My Curious Kids that has a bit more of an educational/parenting slant to it.

As I mention on this blog's profile, I am a former classroom-teacher turned stay-at-home mommy. While I don't miss juggling a full-time career in education with a full-time career in parenting, I do miss the creative outlet that the blank canvas of a classroom offered each August filled with the eager young minds of 20+ eight and nine-year olds!



So, I began thinking about how I could translate and combine my teaching skills with my parenting skills, and thus a new blog is born! I am excited to share with you my experiences from the classroom as well as the struggles and triumphs I face each day parenting a toddler and preschooler. I hope that if you are a reader of From Our Front Porch Looking In and you are a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle of a little one, that you will join me in lighting the "wick of curiosity on the candle of learning"! (William Arthur Ward) I look forward to visiting with you at My Curious Kids!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

And Speaking of the Flu...

Actually, no flu in this household, but we did need to go here...


(Children's Mercy South Hospital)

to have this done



on this little one.


Long story short, Benjamin continues to battle ear infections and shows several signs and symptoms of being allergy-prone. Our ENT agreed it was time to visit the allergist who in turn sent us to Children's Mercy South (hospital) for labs to be drawn.

I was a bit worried that Ben would not cooperate, but he was a trooper! Between his positive disposition and the phlebotomist's awesome technique, blood was drawn in short order with NO tears! Maybe now we will get some of the answers we've been looking for such as why a 2-year old boy would be lactose intolerant, break out in hives when eating tomato-based foods/sauces (and biter biscuits as a baby) and prone to so many ear infections. Wish us luck!


"I'm not scared when Daddy's by my side!"


"Mommy knows how to make it all better."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The "Farm Flu"

Yesterday, I read on MSN.com that a CDC official said that the H1N1 or "Swine Flu" virus has now been reported in all 50 states. By now I'm sure that you've all seen the internet pic floating around that shows the toddler kissing a pig along with the caption, "How Not to Get the Swine Flu", but in case you missed it...




So, I find these next few pics hilarious in a not-so-gross (as in the above photo) teacher-mommy sort of way! I take Mary and Benjamin to the library once a week to check out books and we came across this one...





Copyright 2001

It is a hilarious rhyming story about a young boy's attempts at caring for his farm animals that mysteriously come down with...you guessed it...the FLU!

"But it was likely just as well
that Mom was out of town a spell
when, marching through the morning dew,
I heard the milk cow moo,
"Ka-Chooo!"
Poor thing," I said,
"you've got the flu!"


(Pigs with the flu!)

My toddler and preschooler were delighted with this story and it has become a new favorite! To learn more about public school librarian and children's author, Teresa Bateman, author of Farm Flu click here.