Friday, April 30, 2010

Recipe - Four Cheese Manicotti

Mmmm.... anything with four cheeses in it is good in my book. I made these a couple nights ago for dinner and they were a hit. After two other previous attempts, this time I finally figured out how to stuff them perfectly. I boiled the noodles a minute less than the package instructed so that they were still quite firm, and then I stuffed them with a baby spoon. I have tried the plastic bag with the corner cut, but since it was difficult to squeeze out the very thick cheese mixture, it would not get far enough in the noodle. I have also tried a regular spoon, but because it was so large and the metal was so hard, the manicotti often split. The baby spoon was strong enough and small enough to do the job perfectly. If you are lucky enough to own a pastry bag, I am sure that would work great as well.

Four Cheese Manicotti

8 oz. pkg. manicotti noodles
1 T. vegetable oil
15 oz. carton ricotta cheese
16 oz. carton cottage cheese
1 c. shredded mozzarella
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese
1 t. salt
¼ t. pepper
1 T. chopped parsley
2 ½ c. spaghetti sauce

Boil manicotti according to package directions, adding oil so they don’t stick together. Drain and run cold water over it. In a large mixing bowl combine: ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley. Stuff each manicotti with cheese mixture. Place in greased baking pan. Pour spaghetti sauce on top. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Brody's Noma

When naming body parts in the Hess home "noma" (Palmer's pronunciation of hemangioma) is as commonly labeled as eyes, ears, mouth and nose. Brody's strawberry hemangioma, which sits a top his head, is as prominent as ever. I am asked about it 2-3 times a week by an adult, and 2-3 times a day by children. The strangest question I have received so far was from a little girl at the daycare who inquired, "Is it candy?" I'm sure many more adults wonder about it, but as always it is usually the children who aren't afraid to bring it up.

We were told by our doctor that it would stop growing around six months of age, and that seems to be the case. We haven't noticed much growth, if any, in the past month. From this point forward have been told to expect the birthmark to remain unchanged until he is about a year old. It will then begin to turn white as it fills up with scar tissue, flatten and eventually disappear approximately by the age of five. The only remaining evidence of the hemangioma should be a bald spot. However, Brody's hemangioma has hair on it, which our doctor has never seen before, so he might not even have the bald spot.

With or without his noma, we still think he is pretty darling. Grandma Nancy calls it his cuteness indicator. She tells him it is red when he is cute, which of course, is all the time.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Missing Mom

I didn't write much last month on the anniversary of my mom's passing. Quite honestly, just because I didn't have it in me at the time. Now though I feel a need to get it out. It's odd how the grieving process continues to go on, even three years later after the initial loss, and how I find myself going through the different stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) over and over again.

The past couple weeks I've been sad. I've been really, truly missing my mom. I think a big reason for this is that life has been stressful. Money is tight, the children are cranky and I'm just trying to make it through the day. My mom was such a good fixer. She was always there with advice and solutions. I know if I would have been able to talk to her she would have known exactly what to do and probably would have been able to help me do it. One day last week, out of the blue, a realization came to me that I am now used to dealing with the trials of life without my mom. Three years later I find myself being the fixer. I find myself not only having to endure these rough times but also having to find a way to revamp things so that they do not bury us. I cannot help but find such a circumstance sad. Life has found a way to move on, even though I did not want it to.

I have been reading her journals again. I am so amazed by the woman she was. I always knew my mom to be a strong, generous and insightful woman, even amid much physical ailment, but to have a glimpse of her life when she was healthy and well... I cannot help but be impressed. At this time in my life, as a mother of a young family, I find myself in many of the same situations of which she has written. She carried the storm well; I hope and pray to follow in her footsteps with as much spirit and fervor.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Date Night

During our last Ward Conference, our bishop gave a great talk that focused on ways to bring more happiness into our lives. One piece of advice he gave was if at all possible to go on a weekly date with your spouse. The moment I heard him say this I quickly responded that it was not a possibility for us. I then thought to myself, why not? My main reasoning was because of money, which definitely is a valid concern. I realized though, that if I truly made dating my husband a real priority, we would find a way to get around the obstacles before us. That evening I talked to Greg about making a goal to go on a weekly date; he of course was more than willing. We planned babysitters (thankfully we had purchased some babysitting during the Young Women auction with our tax refund, enough to get us through until Greg is getting paid a little more with his new job), and dates that we could go on that would be free or very minimal in cost. We also decided that we would dedicate one date night a month as a temple night and on those nights instead of hiring a babysitter, ask grandparents to watch the boys.

One month later we do indeed find ourselves happier. I almost feel guilty about all the fun we've had. Our dates have been modest as we planned; we have attended the temple twice, gone to a dollar theater movie, shared an ice cream shake, taken a walk and last weekend we ate at a restaurant with a coupon which lightened the bill to about $6.00. It has been wonderful! And we are look forward to many more to come.

If by chance you are reading this, and thinking that sure would be nice, but it's not possible for us, think again. Once we started thinking outside of the box, we realized there are many free activities out there to enjoy, and there are ways to arrange free babysitting as well (once we finish off our service coupons, we will be looking into swapping babysitting nights with another family). I for one, am so glad I took the advice to heart. After a month of dating, we find ourselves not only happier as a couple, but also due to a break now and then, better parents as well.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hogle Zoo

We have been planning to take Palmer to the zoo for his upcoming second birthday. Greg had a floating holiday from work that he had to use this week, so we took that as a sign to celebrate a few weeks early. Yesterday was the perfect day for a trip to the zoo. Not too cold, nice and sunny, yet not too warm. Most of the animals were out and about and it wasn't crowded. Palmer was in absolute heaven! He enjoyed each and every minute of it with a lot of pointing, oohing and aahing and mimicing animal noises. Brody even had a good time looking at the animals and riding around in the stroller. It was an absolute blast!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Family Photo Shoot

Brody turned six months this month and Palmer is turning two years next months. Since we were getting the both boy's pictures taken around the same time, we decided to make it a family affair. The photographer sure had her hands full with these two! Palmer wouldn't stay still or look at the camera and Brody was on the verge of tears. Amidst the chaos, we did get several good shots. My favorites, are of the two of them together. They really are so sweet with each other. I know they will be best of friends throughout their lives. I've never had to deal with any jealousy coming from Palmer. They make each other laugh and they even cry for each other. On this occasion, when Brody did start to cry, Palmer was quick with the kisses to make him feel better.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Six Months Old

At six months old Brody is sporting two new bottom teeth and some very cute little chubs. This boy loves to eat. He continues to be very smiley and easy to laugh. He likes to play and interact. This is pretty much always the case except for babysitters. Unfortunately, we have yet to find a teenage babysitter he doesn't traumatize. He is still drooling like crazy so I am predicting we will see a few more teeth in the near future.

Stats: 15 lb. 13 oz (21 percentile), 28 3/4 inches long (99 percentile)

He has learned to: rock his carseat on his own by swinging his legs back and forth, and now makes squawking and chirping noises along with his coos

He likes: rice cereal and almost all baby foods, the bouncers, playing on the floor, playing peek-a-boo and getting tickled

He dislikes: green beans, tummy time and seeing his brother rough housing with Dad because he thinks it hurts Palmer

Things he does/about him that make us laugh: big gummy smiles, high pitched squawks when he is happy, big burps and how he laughs as well as cries along with his big brother at the exact same frequency

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Festivities

We enjoyed a lot of festivities this Easter. Sadly, I did not take one picture, so these foil wrapped chocolate eggs will have to do. I must admit they are looking pretty good to me as I type; I might just have to raid our stash of leftover candy once I am finished posting.

Last weekend we attended a flashlight Easter egg hunt put on by my sister's work friends. Palmer loved it even though it was very chilly. Brody was not as happily entertained and much more aware of the cold.

For the Family Home Evening before Easter, we decorated eggs. Palmer also loved this and was absolutely fascinated with the colored water. He did sneak one red dye tablet in his mouth and one sip of yellow water, but all is well.

Saturday we went to an egg hunt at the local fitness center. Palmer joined ranks there with his best buddy, Kathryn, who he knows well from the daycare. He made out like a bandit in regards to candy and has enjoyed about ten suckers since. We caught afternoon conference while the boys napped.

On Sunday the Easter lilies my sister had given me in honor of our passed mother opened. They were absolutely gorgeous and were a lovely reminder of the message of Easter, that of purity, hope and renewal of life. We enjoyed watching morning conference while the boys napped. During afternoon conference the boys were given an Easter basket from the Auntie Rie and a couple toys from us. They played with their new treasures while we watched the afternoon session.

We went to Grandma Nancy's house for Easter dinner. She served ham, cheesy potatoes, green beans and rolls. I made a fruit pizza. The meal was very yummy, and the company was wonderful. We also fed the nearby ducks, which Palmer absolutely loved!

It was definitely a great Easter; we had a lot of fun, were fed well and were uplifted by the words of our modern day prophet and apostles. And even after all that enjoyment, we are left with leftover chocolate. What more could one possibly ask for?