Monday, October 26, 2015

Are you ready for some football... food

Fall is in the air.  Football is on TV.  It must be October.

A typical football Saturday at our house consists of Emma running around in her Auburn cheerleading uniform screaming, "Go Tigers!!!"  Sage is planted in front of the TV, and if i'm not at the store, I'm normally cooking.

After all, you can't have football without food!

One of our favorite fall weather foods is chili.  I put it in the crock pot in the morning and before long the aroma is wafting through every room of the house!  (Actually, I sometimes can't wait until fall to cook it.  Sage says I cook it way to early.  Of course, he still cleans his bowl.)

There are lots of ways to make chili.  Here's my recipe:

Big-Batch Chili
4 pounds ground chuck
2 medium onions, chopped
1 green pepper chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 (14 1/2-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained
4 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 bay leaf

Cook ground chuck in a large skillet over medium-high heat about 5 minutes, stirring until meat crumbles and is no longer pink; drain.  Place meat in a 6-quart slow cooker; stir in onions, next 12 ingredients.  Cook, covered, at HIGH 5 to 6 hours or at LOW 6 to 8 hours.  Remove and discard bay leaf.  Serve with desired toppings.

I also love making appetizers to snack on during the game.  Two of my favorites are Hot Bacon & Swiss Dip and Jalapeño Popper Dip.  Both are easy and delicious!

Hot Bacon and Swiss Dip
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup mayo
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Crushed Ritz crackers

Mix cream cheese, mayo, cheese, and onions.  Transfer to a dish.  Top with bacon and crackers.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly.  Serve with wheat thins.

Jalapeno Popper Dip
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 oz. sliced jalapeños, drained
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Mix the cream cheese, mayo, cheddar cheese, Parmesan, and jalapeños in a bowl and pour into a baking dish.  Mix the panic bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over dip.

OK, now I'm hungry!  I don't know if I can wait till Saturday.  We may be having mid-week apps.  I'm sure Sage will be fine with that considering he loves ALL food!  

What are your favorite game day recipes?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Back to School!

This past week, like so many Alabama children, Emma and Baby Sage headed back to school.

It was emotional, exciting, and nerve-wracking.  But enough about their mother.

On Tuesday, Sage started his first day at Church Street Academy.  In typical Sage fashion he took it all in stride.  He received an excellent report when I picked him up:  didn't cry (not even once), ate wonderfully (which didn't surprise me, considering he eats anything you put in his mouth) and napped great!  I expected him to adapt well and he did.  He literally always has a smile on his face.

Emma was accepted into the Decatur City Schools 3K inclusion program this year, which couples special needs children and "typical peers" with the intent of enhancing the learning and development of both groups.  We went for screening in June and found out she was accepted at the end of July.  We decided that this was an opportunity we couldn't pass up due to the program being highly recommended, along with such a wonderful group of kids and teachers.

It was exciting to prepare for her first day!  We bought a new backpack, lunch box, and nap mat to make the transition to big school fun and exciting.  (Of course, I had already bought the perfect dress for her first day MONTHS ago.  And naturally, Baby Sage donned a matching outfit.)

Last Sunday, she had her backpack blessed at church.  G-Daddy took her to the altar since Mommy was home with a sick baby and Daddy had to go into work for an emergency situation.

Tuesday was meet the teacher day at her new school, Chestnut Grove Elementary.  Emma was thrilled to show me the library, music room, and cafeteria.  My shy little girl was walking the halls with confidence!  (Dad had taken Emma for a walk around the school while I stayed behind and asked a million questions.  Pretty sure I'm gonna be the teacher's fave parent this year.)

Then, on the eve of her first day, someone had a break down.  (Hint:  It wasn't Emma.  Or Dad.  Or Baby Sage.)

I packed her backpack and her lunch box and then as I was ironing her dress, I lost it.  Tears of excitement and fear for my baby girl!  She is no longer at the preschool we loved so much for the past two years.  My baby girl is going to be at a big school with big kids.  Did we make the right decision?  Is she ready?  Will they take care of my baby?

Finally, Thursday arrived and we walked in together and my shy girl surprised me again.  No tears, just pure excitement!  As I got in the car to leave, I was happy and nervous all at the same time.

 Luckily, it was only a half day.  And now I know why!  I used to think that half day stuff was for the kids, but I think the parents need it more than the kids do.  I was ready to pick her up as soon as I dropped her off!

Mary Ila ward also has a child at Chestnut Grove and we had already decided to meet at Chick-Fil-A once we dropped the kids off for "Tears and Coffee."  Not exactly Sip 'n See, but I was thankful to have a good friend there to help pass the time and talk about our joys and concerns.

At last, it was 11:30 and time to pick up my big girl!  I may have gotten there by 11:15.  Or 11:00.  Or...  Well, let's just say I was in the car pick up line early.

Tears of joy and pride ran down my face as I saw Emma walking towards the car with a big smile on hers.  She told me all about her day and about her new friend Emma Greer and that she loves school! The only negative was not getting to play on the playground.  But that's OK, they wound up getting to do that on Friday.  And more good news, for Mommy at least, Friday was a half day, too!

I think it's going to be a great school year for my two babies!

Back to School Prayer:

"Dear Lord, use my eyes to see new friends.
Open my ears to hear my teacher.
Open my mind to learn new things.
Let my heart remember you are near when I'm afraid.
Help me to love others like you do.
I want to shine your light so bright in my school.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Having Fun and Turning One

Baby Sage celebrated his first birthday on June 26th!  We actually had his party  a week early so that all his grandparents were able to be there.

The theme?  "Time flies when you're having fun!"

There was an airplane on his cake, which came from Cloud 9 by the way.  (The plane, not the cake.)  And he also wore a Busy Bees Airplane Bubble.  Can this kid dress or what!

Even though it was a small family gathering, it was very enjoyable.  We had four generations of Sages at the party, which I thought was pretty cool!

Now my little man does not miss a meal and eats anything I put in front of him.  So we expected him to literally dive head-first into his smash cake.  But instead, he took his time.

That's where his big sister came in.  Emma loved dipping her fingers in the cake, and with her help and guidance, Baby Sage soon developed a taste for the icing himself.  She has been such a wonderful big sister.  I think because Baby Sage is just one more thing she can "mother."  My Little Momma, I call her.

After his cake was properly smashed, it was time for presents.  Emma, again, quickly "showed" her baby brother how to open his gifts.  We tried reminding her that it was Sage's birthday, not hers.  To which she responded by promptly starting to play with Baby Sage's new toys.

There's nothing in the world like watching the kids play and laugh together, so we all thoroughly enjoyed that.  Then it was time to put the birthday boy to bed.  After that, the adults enjoyed a nice family dinner together with some delicious birthday cake.

It's so hard to believe that an entire year has passed.  It seems like just the other day, we were bringing Baby Sage home from the hospital! 

What's that I was saying again?  Oh right, time flies.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A perfectly Frozen day

Last Thursday morning, something special was in the air.  Was it excitement?  Anticipation?  I couldn't quite put my finger on it.  Then as I walked outside to go to work, it hit me.


Snow hit me.  In the face.  It was the day of the Cloud 9 Frozen Fan Party, and it was snowing.  Elsa, the Snow Queen, was going to be in our store, and snow was in the air!  I could barely believe it.

The store was buzzing with excitement from the time the doors opened.  We had a packed house and the children seemed very excited to see Elsa and Anna.  Of course, much like Santa, most of the kids took some time to warm up to them.

Everyone came dressed as their favorite Frozen character.  I even saw and heard a few dresses that sang!  Yes, you heard right, singing dresses.

Anna and Elsa sang, too.  Anna sang "For the First Time in Forever" and, of course, Elsa sang "Let It Go."  As they sang, I watched the faces of the children.  They were in awe.  I don't even know if they blinked!

Elsa invited the crowd to sing along on "Let It Go."  It sounded like everyone in the room knew all the words to that one, including the parents.  I know Lee South knew every word to "Let It Go."  He wasn't singing very loudly, but he didn't miss a single verse.

Of course, we also had Frozen treats, and did we mention it snowed???  What a perfect day.

I've already received emails from friends letting me know their daughters were talking about meeting Elsa and Anna for days after the event.  Who knows, we may have to invite another Disney princess to Cloud 9.

All event  photos can be found on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Most Wonderful Day of the Year

I have always loved Christmas, but I have to tell you - this past Christmas may have been my best EVER.  Celebrating with those I love most, including both of my precious children, was the best gift I could have received

Emma was finally at the age where she was starting to understand and really enjoy Christmas.

Throughout the month of December, we had evening dance parties at our house.  Her favorites were "Jingle Bells" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."  She would stand on the hearth of our fireplace (her 'stage') where she would sing along with us while dancing and ringing her bells.

We also loved looking at lights.  I think we saw all the lights Decatur possibly has to offer!  If we happen to be driving while it was dark outside, she would tell us that she wanted to look at lights.  So of course that's what we did!  We also took her to Galaxy of Lights in Huntsville.  I strongly recommend this to any family.  She was in absolute amazement.

We tried explaining the Christmas Story (The Birth of Jesus) to her, but I'm not sure she is quite old enough to get the importance just yet.  Although she talks a lot about Baby Jesus, so maybe she understands more than we know.  It helped that our family was asked to light the fourth candle in our advent wreath at church, which was an honor.  Emma loved that!

She also talked about Santa all.the.time.  She would point at him on billboards when driving by.  She talked about wanting to see him at Cloud 9, but then explained that she only wanted to see him and she did NOT want to sit in his lap.  Haha!  That was obvious when she came to see him.  Even though she cried, the next day she was already talking about seeing him again.  I laugh just thinking about it. Love that girl!

When we asked Emma what she wanted Santa to bring her, the answer was always TWO baby dolls.  Not one, not three, but exactly two.  Don't worry, even though she didn't sit on Santa's lap to tell him, we made sure to pass the message along to the big guy.

We started our Christmas celebrations with Sage's parents (AA and G-Daddy) the night before Christmas Eve.  Emma really enjoyed passing out the gifts and helping everyone open their gifts.  That's when I knew that Christmas morning was going to be wonderful!  It didn't hurt that Santa delivered Bitty Twins while we were there.

On Christmas Eve, we hit the road to my Mom's (Momma G) house in Mississippi.  We enjoyed our candlelight service at the church in which I was raised, before returning to my mom's house to share a delicious dinner and cocktails with several close family friends.

After dinner, it was time to get Emma and Baby Sage ready for bed so that Santa could visit.  We put mil and cookies out, and even left some popcorn for the reindeer.  Once the children were in bed (and we had made sure Emma was asleep), it was time for the adults to get to work!

Luckily we had already put everything together and sent it home with my Mom when she came to visit for Thanksgiving.  However we did still have to put her Bitty crib together - the twins needed somewhere to sleep!  Since my husband and my brother's girlfriend are both engineers, we left them in charge of putting that together.  My brother took on the task of eating the cookies and drinking the milk.  Like he said, it was a tough task, but someone had to do it!

When Emma woke up Christmas morning and saw all the toys, she was a little taken aback that they were for her.  I think she was also slightly confused that Santa had come to Momma G's house and left them, but that didn't stop her from tearing into the paper as she unwrapped her gifts.

I enjoyed watching her excitement and her face light up with each gift.  Poor Baby Sage, he didn't have a clue what was going on!  This year, he was just along for the ride.  But don't worry, Santa came to see him, too.  We spent the rest of our Christmas day in our PJ's playing with toys.  Well, except for that afternoon nap EVERYONE took.

It was the most wonderful day, during the most wonderful time of the year.  I hope you enjoyed your Christmas as much as I did.