Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Number 32

Luke proudly wears number 32. And last night, at his first t-ball game ever, I think Josh Hamilton (the other number 32) would have been proud. One thing is for sure, Josh Stewart was proud as could be, and so was I.

Number 32 had one RBI and batted 500.

When Luke came up to bat for the first time, I could not have been any more nervous and excited. Luke did great and had a good hit, made it to first base, and hit in the first run of the game!

He played outfield and did good fielding the one ball that came his way. He grounded the ball and then quickly popped up and threw to second….exactly where he should have thrown it. Only problem, the second baseman was not there. Oh well….

At Luke’s second at bat he again had a nice solid hit, but was thrown out at first. It did not bother him at all. He was still all smiles as he went back into the dugout.

This group of boys, and two girls, who have never played t-ball before did so good last night and I was super proud of them all.

I am proud of one their coaches too, who also did a great job. Only problem is, that I forgot to take pictures of him during the game. What can I say; I was a little wrapped up in taking pictures of cute Number 32 and watching the game.

By the time I thought to take a picture of the third base coach, the game was over. Here he is, looking all serious for some reason after the game.

As Luke said, “Daddy, you were the best coach out there. I am proud of you!” I could not have said it better myself.

I do not want to leave out the proud Grandpa. Luke asked no less than five times the morning of his game if Grandpa was going to be there. He wanted to know if I KNEW Grandpa would be there, or did I just THINK he would be there. “Luke”, I said, “if your Grandpa said he will be somewhere; then you can count on it!”

It’s going to be a fun season.

I love you, Number 32 and your Momma could not be more proud!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fruit Snacks

Yes, I have a blog entry dedicated to fruit snacks.

I know it is strange, but I’m okay with it.

These are the BEST fruit snacks. Ever.

They came into our lives through Luke’s teacher who gave them out one day to all her kids. I knew they must have been better than run-of-the-mill fruit snacks when Luke talked about them nonstop for five minutes after hopping into the car after school. He went on and on about the fruit juice in the middle, and how it was REAL juice. After he stopped the fruit snack chat, he reached into his backpack and pulled one out for me! He said they were so good that he saved the last one for me to try. AND he saved the wrapper so I could buy him some.

The boy was not kidding, the fruit snack was delicious and the juice in the middle was so, so scrumptious.

I could not find them anywhere, and had sort of given up on locating them. Then out of the blue, they were on a display at the Kroger by our house. Luke was so thrilled that he could hardly contain himself and we bought a box.

We all became addicted to fruit snacks. The box was quickly void of all the fruit snack yummy goodness.

And that is when I discovered that our Kroger does not carry these fruit snacks on a regular basis.

The Stewarts were sad.

Fast forward a few months…..and I had to run to Kroger for something the other night. Well, honestly I did not run. Who am I trying to kid. I drove my car.

And as I was looking at the goodies on the Easter aisle, I saw sitting on the shelf an entire display of the fruit snacks.


I bought a box. Hello Black Forest Fruit Snacks. Welcome back to the Stewart house!

However, as I sat at my desk eating a package of fruit snacks, it occurred to me that the box is not going to last long. I really should have bought another box, or six or seven.

Which brings me to the real reason for this blog entry…..does anyone know a place that carries these divine fruit snacks all the time?? Target, Tom Thumb, anywhere??

I really need to know. And if you have not tried them, you should! They are filled with fruity juice that makes your mouth happy as can be.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Zoo

Joshua and I took off one day durning Luke's spring break and we all went to the zoo. Of all the many trips to the zoo that we have gone on, this was by far my favorite.


Because for the first time ever, we had a Safari Guide. And we had the best Safari Guide ever.

This kiddo was all about the map. He lead us from one place to the next and read all about the animals.

Also, on this trip to the zoo, I decided that I want a bird.

Look how beautiful that bird is! And those are my pretty pink (and chipped) fingernails!

We all had such a fun time feeding the birds.

So, I told Joshua, I want a bird. The only problem.....we have a beagle. I am thinking a beagle and a bird living in the same house is not really a good idea. That poor bird will die, or our beagle will die trying to kill the bird. Either way, not so good. So, I guess we will not get a bird.

We had such a great day and took a lot of great pictures.

These are the kinds of pictures Joshua likes to take....

These are the kind of pictures I like to take.....

And if you have the time to spare, here a lot more pictures at the zoo......

A Glove and Cleats

Its official, I have a t-ball player!  And not only do I have a t-ball player, but I have a t-ball coach.  I cannot determine who is more excited – Luke that he is on a t-ball team, or Joshua that he is coaching one. 
Joshua took Luke to get his glove and cleats and I asked if I could go along. Luckily for me, they both said yes.

When we walked up to the gloves I was in absolute shock at the vast number of gloves to choose from.  I immediately spoke up and put my two cents worth in.  “Um, let’s stay away from the hundred dollar gloves.”  I mean, if this kid starts playing in the majors, THEN we will stop at nothing for the glove.  But for now, I am thinking cheaper will do him just fine. 

I guess because I was quick with my knowledge about the price of a glove Luke thought that I actually knew about them. He kept asking me questions. As I clicked away with my camera I would say, “I have no idea, ask your Dad.” 

Joshua picked out a couple for Luke to try on and they settled on this nice glove.  Luke liked it.  I liked that it cost nowhere in the vicinity of a hundred dollars.

Then we moved onto cleats.
As Luke was trying them on, I was again taking pictures. I was getting some strange looks from some people as I was clicking away with my camera. I realized that my “my-son-is-playing-t-ball-for-the-first time” neon flashing sign was off. I turned it back on. And people took notice.  A few minutes later,a lady commented, “playing ball for the first time, huh?” Yes, lady, he is.  And yes, I am proud.
And maybe just a little crazy.
Out with the crocs, and in with the cleats.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Silly Sunday

Hi Luke.
Hi Momma.  What are ya doing?
Taking pictures.

Okay.  Get this!
You look kind of weird.

I don't want to look weird, Momma!

FINE!  You are not weird.  You are cute.
Thank you, Momma.
You are welcome, Luke.

Here's my tonge!!!  And look, bug eyes!
SEE!  Weird.


YES.  YOU.  ARE.  But, it's okay.  I will keep you anyway.
Thank you, Momma.  I love you.
I love you too.

Hey, Luke, you moved!  Why did you move over there?  And it looks like you left your light on down the hall.  Go turn it off.

Okay, Bye!

Friday, March 11, 2011

My Mother

Since I have a post about my Dad, I thought I would give my Mother equal time. She is after all, not just my Mother, but was my best friend, and is keeper of my secrets.
This is one of the last pictures taken of my Mother with Luke. 

It is framed in our house today and I often times find Luke looking at it with a big smile on his face.

If my Mother was alive today, I think she would read my blog. And like it.

Here are some tidbits on my Mother:

• I have her middle name, Lynn.

• She taught first grade for over 20 years in a low income neighborhood and loved it. She never considered going to another school.

• She loved that I refer to her as “Mother”. Joshua however thinks that it is too formal and sounds stuck up. So, when she would send us a card, it would be signed – Love, Mother and Mom.

• She convinced me not to drop out of college.

• Postponed a thumb surgery one summer so that she could keep Luke.

• Obtained both her Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree after I was born.

• Was a figure skater.

• Was the most Godly woman I have ever known.

• Would tell my cousin and me, “I'm not asleep. I'm just resting my eyes.” We both knew she was really asleep. I am not sure why we always felt the need to bother her.

• She could stand on her head. No kidding. I last saw her do this when she was showing Luke when he was two, she was 57. I told her I felt certain none of Luke’s little friends had grandmothers who could stand on their head.

• She could quote Rainman. Disappointed? Why should I be disappointed? I got rose bushes didn’t I? I got a used car, didn’t I?

• While keeping Luke one summer, she decided it was just too hot for her and Luke to be outside. So, she filled a blow-up swimming pool with water and put it in the middle of the living room so that Luke could swim. My jaw hit the floor when I went to pick him up and saw this. I can assure you that neither my brother nor I were ever allowed to swim in the middle of the living room floor, or anywhere else in the house!

• Once said, “I am so glad you are marrying Josh. He is nothing like you and will keep you levelheaded.” She apparently missed the memo that she is my mom and should be on my side.

• A pair of her glasses sits on a table in my house.

The picture below is on my fridge.

It is by far NOT a good photo of us. Clearly, both of us have some serious pimple action going on. But, what I love is that neither of us seems to care what we look like. We are just happy to be sitting there next to each other.

No words can describe my love for my Mother.

Homemade Almond Joys

I love almond joys. The Sister loves almond joys. So, when I called her and said, “I have a homemade almond joy recipe and you need to come over so we can make it.” She came to the house all ready to make them.

If you cook it, they will come.

The real story here is not that we made almond joys. Nope, the story is that we almost caught my house on fire while making the almond joys! Fun times.

Where to start?? Ummmm, how about the beginning…..

The almond joy recipe I found calls for semisweet chocolate chips. Well, because I am a lover of almond joys, I KNEW that they were in fact, made with milk chocolate. So, when I was at the store buying what we needed, I bought milk chocolate chips and NOT semisweet chocolate. No harm, no foul. So I thought.

Fast forward a day or two and The Sister and I are in my kitchen making almond joys. We toasted the almonds. We mixed sweetened condensed milk with coconut and powdered sugar. We shaped the gooey goodness (while licking our fingers from time to time) and placed the almonds on top. All was going great.

So great in fact, that I got a little greedy. I spoke up and said that I thought maybe, just maybe, we should not share these little gems with anyone. After all, we were the ones slaving away in the kitchen. Maybe we should just keep these to ourselves. The Sister agreed. I think this might have been the start of the dreadful downfall.

The time came to melt the milk chocolate chips. We put some water in a pot and began to boil it. Then we placed the yummy milk chocolate chips in a glass bowl and put it on top of the boiling water. The chocolate began to melt and so things were still going well.

However, after a few minutes, we realized the chocolate was not melting as well as we needed. Nope, this stuff was staying pretty thick. It was not drippy, but was more the consistency of icing. No worries. The Sister cranked up the heat and added a little vegetable oil. Horray, things were looking good again!

After a while, I thought that maybe our water supply under the chocolate was getting low and this would also be contributing to the chocolate not melting as well as it should. We lifted up the glass bowl and discovered that ALL the water was gone! And judging by the looks of the pot, it had been gone a while. Opps! The Sister quickly turned off the heat, but I decided that just was not good enough.

So, I grabbed a couple of pot holders and removed the burning hot pot and placed it on another pot holder that was on the counter. I looked over at The Sister for some reason and when I turned back to the pot, it was engulfed in smoke! Smoke so thick I honestly could not see the cabinet right behind it!

It was at this moment I proved that I am not so good in emergency smoke and fire related situations. I picked up the burning pot and began to utter not so nice words as I watched the hot pad slowly fall from the bottom of the pot. The Sister however was MUCH better and was able to pull the burning pot holder off the pot. However, some of the pot holder was still melted onto the pot. And at this point we realized the parts of the holder still stuck to the pot were on fire! Again, I am just standing there saying not nice words and not really taking any action. Nice Amanda. Real nice.

Smart Sister says, “let’s get that outside!!” She ran to the back door to open it and I came along with the pot. She opened the door to the patio and I managed to almost hit her in the face with the burning pot on the way out. Even better, Amanda!

Sorry, dear Sister. Love you and love your face the way it is. So glad I did not burn you!

Once outside we put the pot on the cement patio and things seemed to be better for us. We started to laugh a little.

Just as we are laughing, Joshua came home. As he entered the house from the garage we heard him say, “What in the world are y’all burning in here??”

Geez, if he realized that we just saved the house from burning down, he would really not be so irrational about the smell in the house.

He then emerged from the house with the burning pot holder that we left in the kitchen! Opps again!

“Maybe y’all should remove everything from the house that is burning!”

Or maybe we could just not burn things at all. That would get my vote.

I stomped all over the pot holder until it went out. The Sister and I laughed some more. Our breathing returned to normal. We returned to the kitchen and finished making the almond joys.

Here are the pictures of us making the almond joys.

One would never know the back story of a near house fire by looking at them. It looks as if all went okay and we made these lovely and gooey treats without incident.

However, please do not be fooled. Things do not always run smoothly at my house and this picture proves it!

By the way, the almond joys were delish. However, The Sister and I decided that we would make them again and use the semisweet chocolate chips.

If you are an almond joy lover, please make these. You will be glad you did.  Well, if you do not burn your house down......


Thursday, March 10, 2011

My Dad

I love this picture of my Dad. I took it one Sunday while he was making a cake. I think the picture captures him perfectly.

I do not think my Dad knows I have a blog. At least I have not told him. I am not sure what he would think about being the subject of one of my entries.

Here are a few tidbits about my Dad:

• He named me Amanda. He was/is a Gunsmoke fan. Miss Kitty, well, her real name is Amanda.

• He likes practical jokes.

• When Joshua asked him if he could marry me, his response was, “Yes. And no take backs.” He was not kidding.

• On June 10, 1987 I saw my Dad cry for the first time. Yes, I remember the date. We let my rabbit go in a field because I did not want him anymore. He (the rabbit) was mean. My Dad later explained that I was so pathetic crying in a field over a rabbit that I hated and it brought a tear to his eye. He certainly was not heartbroken over the rabbit.

• He played a joke on my Mother to get her out of my hospital room when I had Luke so that he could have Luke all to himself. He was tired of her hogging him. I could not help but laugh.

• He is a great cook.

• He is the most punctual person I know. The man is not late to anything.

• Offered to write Joshua and me a check in the amount of money he and my Mother would otherwise spend on our wedding if we would just elope. Josh held out his hand for the check. To my Mother’s delight, I insisted that we have a wedding.

• He is my standing date on Sunday afternoons.

• When I was in college, he bet me that he could put more brach’s caramel candies in his mouth than I could mine. He won, however he locked up his jaw. It was hilarious. To date this is the only bet I did not mind losing to him.

• Made me get a job when I was 18. I cried.

• Bought the most beautiful jewelry dish for me one Valentine’s day when I was young. I still use it.

• Loves pineapple upside down cake.

• He once stole all the pumpkins off my porch and out of my yard (although he has never admitted it, I know it was him). I never got them back. I have no idea what he did with them. Joshua and I, in turn, toilet papered the scarecrow in his yard.

I love him dearly. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Golden Ticket!

This is the last post on meeting the Pioneer Woman (PW).  Promise!

I do not think I have mentioned this so far, but The Sister came along with me to meet PW. And thankfully so.

The Sister arrived before I did, so by the time I got there, she had the full scoop. She gave me a blue arm band and said, “We are in the fourth group”. “What does that mean?” I asked. “It means”, she said, “That there are three groups ahead of us and each group has one hundred people. Once they call our color we can get in line.”

What? Are you kidding me?? I knew this Pioneer Woman was a popular gal, but I guess I did not realize how many people would come out for a book signing. “And oh, they said last year she was here until after 2am signing books.” The Sister said.


I called the husband to inform him that not only would I not be home by 8:30 pm as previously anticipated, but I would not be home anywhere in the vicinity of 8:30pm. See you soon dear….or, maybe tomorrow. He laughed and said have fun.

We decided at that time to go ahead and get our seat up front for the question and answer period. This worked out well as we were right up front and had a great view of PW. Not long after we sat down with our blue arm bands, this girl and her husband sat down beside us.

They asked us what color we were and we told them blue. They too had the blue bands and asked a few questions. Since The Sister was all knowing (or at least more in the know than anyone else around) she explained things to them.

From time to time we would chat with these two and we learned they had driven from Houston! That is what I call commitment. The Sister and I later dubbed these two as “The Houstons” prior to knowing their names.

After PW spoke it was time for the first group to get in line for the signing. The Sister and I sat there for a minute watching. I could not believe that PW was taking time to chat with EVERY single person and signed ALL their books. Some people would have five or six books for her to sign!

The Houstons decided to get up and walk around, but we said that we should meet up once we got in line. Sounded great to us!

The Sister and I got up a little while later and walked over to see PW’s husband and children and then wander around the store.

A little while later, we look up and The Houstons are standing in line! Um, what are you two doing in line??

That is when she held up her arm and we saw that she now possessed a GOLDEN wrist band.

WHAT. THE. HECK? Where in tarnation did that come from??

Mrs. Houston explained that she had obtained it from a girl who was up a little further in line AND she had a feeling the girl had another. I could not get up to that girl fast enough!

Hey, I heard you have golden bands! Got another?

Seriously, what had become of me? I was now going after strangers trying to obtain ARMBANDS!!


But, before I had time to loath myself too much and fixate on how crazy I must look, this girl whipped out a gold band from her pocket and gave it to me!

Whoo Hoo!!

I turned to The Sister – “WE HAVE THE GOLDEN TICKET!”

Yes, I actually said this. And in my head the music from Willy Wonka was playing. I love having a soundtrack to my life.

Gold was already in line and The Houstons let us get in line with them! However, make no mistake, it was going to still be a long wait. However, we thought that we would be saving ourselves at LEAST an hour or two of waiting.

While standing in line we learned the Houstons real names and a little bit about them. Most fascinating was that Mr. Houston tried out for American Idol this year. He tried to gloss over this as if it was no big deal. Hold on there. Wait just one minute! We will need the full story on this little tidbit of your life! Interesting is all I have to say. Well that and, if I had much respect for that show before, now I have none. Zilch.

I really have no idea how long we stood in line. I think it was for about four hours or so. The line wandered throughout the entire store. We would look up and find ourselves in the travel book section, then music, death, the SATs and LSATs, learning foreign languages, and the discount books. With each new section some crazy conversation would emerge.

It was in the foreign languages section that I started to get a bit nervous. All I could remember was Joshua telling me not to say something stupid. I determined that I would just tell her how much I loved her recipes and that it was the mushrooms that brought me to her.

And that is what I did. I had her sign the mushroom page of my cookbook and we talked mushrooms! Nothing exciting really. Except for the fact that the woman has a way of making you feel like she is really your BFF. And that you have been cooking with her for years and taking care of each other’s children.

After we had our books signed, we talked a bit more to the Houstons and bid them farewell. When we walked outside and looked at the clock it was past 11. HOLY WOW! I feel certain that had we not obtained the gold band, we would have been there at least two more hours.

Never in my life have I stood in a line like that for anything! And I do not think I will be again….unless she comes back. With another cookbook!

It was totally worth it. Totally.

Oh -- really, the reason she was there was that she was promoting a novel she wrote. I took a break from standing in line at some point and went and bought it. And I am glad I did. PW signed it too. The book is a great and an easy read. It is the true life story of how she met and married her husband.

And here it is…..PW’s signature across the wonderful mushrooms!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sick Boy

I know I need to wrap up my blogging on meeting the Pioneer Woman and I will, promise. But today, I have other things on my mind and in my world.

Today I am home for the second day with a very sick boy. He has a high fever that just will not go away. All he wants to do is drink sips of water, but his tummy has turned against him and makes even this small task difficult, and at times, impossible.

I absolutely love being a parent, but having a sick child ranks pretty high up there with things I hate most about being a parent. I hate seeing my boy who is otherwise filled with joy, laugher, and fun times just laying around too sick to move, too sick to be funny, too sick to do just about anything other than watching ridiculous amounts of TV, and of course sleep.

I hate not being able to snap my fingers and make it all go away or even snap my fingers and move the sickness to myself. I hate feeling helpless.

So, I do the only thing I can. Give him fever reducer and pray. Pray this passes quickly. Pray his little body will stop being so hot and feverish. Pray he sleeps some. Pray he can drink a little water and keep in down.

Last night his fever started climbing even higher right after giving him some medicine. I drew a cool bath and let him sit in it a while. I realized that I also hate making a sick boy who’s body is on fire take a cool bath. It made him cry. Those cried hurt so badly, but I knew it would be good for him. And it worked; his fever went down a little bit. He was eventually able to settle down a bit a get comfortable on the couch and fell asleep.

This morning we find that his fever is not near as high as it was yesterday, but his tummy seems to be worse. This has turned me into the water monitor. A job I loved in elementary school, but hate as a mother of a thirsty boy. A few sips here and there is really all he can really tolerate, but not at all what he wants.

The only “perk” if you can even call it that, is that a sick boy wants more love and affection that normal. I do like that I am able to cuddle up with him on the couch and give him extra love. I like that he will let me rub his back, legs, and arms.

As we sat on the couch watching TV this morning, I found that his little hand was up around my head. Then all of the sudden, he was twirling my hair. And I just melted inside. In all his sickness, my sweet boy was trying to be lovey to me.

I used to twirl my mother’s hair when I was a kid.

I wonder why kids do this? Not that I really care why, I just enjoyed it. Then I started twirling his curls. It was easy to do as he is in serious need of a haircut.

Hoping and praying my boy is well soon.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Do NOT do anything stupid

The night before The Pioneer Woman was to roll into my neck of the woods, I was telling my husband how excited I was. I could not believe I was FINALLY going to meet her! We talked a few minutes and then he just looked at me and said, “You are not going to do anything stupid are you?”

I thought a second or two before answering. Um, what did he mean “stupid”?

So I responded, “I’m not going to lick her or anything like that, if that’s what you mean.”

“I just hate when people meet famous people and then do or say stupid things.” He said.

Ugh. Thanks honey. Now I was completely worried about doing or saying something that was dumb. Prior to this little conversation, I really had no worries, just excitement.

Now I had to be sure not to lick her………Not to pluck a strand of her hair and eat it. Not to inform her that I was seriously thinking of leaving my husband for her. Not to yell out, “Hey PW, I love you!” Not to ask if I could take her children to the movies. Not to walk up to Pioneer Woman and fix her hair. Not to inform all those around me that I was her BFF forever. And ever. {Amen}

You think these things are crazy don’t you? Well, I agree. They are.

However, I actually heard all of these things being talked about as I stood in line to meet her! I am about 98.3% sure the people were kidding and being funny to pass the time.

Well, actually, one of the things listed above was not talked about. Nope, it actually happened! Yes, folks, there are some people out there without boundaries. Shocking! I watched a lady walk right up behind the Pioneer Woman and then touch her hair! She brushed it down with her hands and then posed for a picture.

I about fell over.

Clearly, her husband did not have a talk with her the night before.

Thank goodness mine did.

Up Next….The Golden Ticket!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Reason I HAD to Meet Her

Back in 2009 my Dad showed me an article in Southern Living about The Pioneer Woman (PW). He was thinking about making her brisket recipe, as well as a mushroom one. Dad wanted me to specifically look at the mushroom recipe and tell him what I thought about it.

Well, Daddy, anything cooked for four hours in a bottle of wine and a stick of butter must be good!

A few weeks later he cooked the meal and it was delicious. The mushrooms were melt-in-your-mouth-wonderful. My issue of the magazine eventually made its way to the house and I sat down to read the article on PW and looked at all her recipes.

I then somehow or another discovered her website. I do not recall if it was in the article or what, but I stumbled onto it; and from the moment I began reading, I was hooked. Not only can this woman cook, but she was entertaining and funny in her blog. I then looked at her photographs and hilarious captions, and well….I was hooked all the more! Ever since, I have been reading her blog along with a million or so other folks. Really. Not kidding. She has a BUNCH of readers!

A year or so ago, I think or maybe two, she came out with a cookbook.

Just look at the cover--beautiful!  I knew the pictures in it would be lovely and so I decided to get it. However, life got in the way and I forgot all about buying it! I know -- how can a true fan forget about purchasing the cookbook? Well, I did go to get it once, and they were all sold out and then I just never got around to going back. I have a child. A boy child. I work. Life gets a little crazy at times. Fun crazy, but crazy.  And besides, she posted recipes on her website all the time, so it's not like I was totally without any PW cooking!

Anyway, this past Christmas my Dad gave me PW's cookbook! How fitting, the fella that got me hooked on The Pioneer Woman gave me her cookbook. This cookbook was so beautiful, funny, and full of yummy recipes. I actually sat down one day and read it cover to cover like a regular book.

When she posted on her website that she was coming to my part of town, I knew I was going!

I had to meet her. I had to have her sign my cookbook.

I HAD to have her sign her name right across the mushroom recipe that had brought me to her.

More to come! Up Next…..Do NOT do anything stupid.