Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Almost Chipotle At Home

I really love Chipotle. I've only been there 3 times, but really, they are so yummy! Today I found myself craving a Chipotle burrito bowl. I have 2 kids with birthdays this upcoming month plus back to school shopping, so my husband and I really couldn't justify the expense of eating out. I figured i'd try my hand at making them at home. I went to the 99 cent store and spent 1 dollar on a package of lettuce, 1 dollar on a large can of black beans, and 1 dollar on a package of queso fresco (I don't think they use this at Chipotle but I love me some queso fresco!) I had everything else at home. Please excuse my pics, I can't find my camera so I took them on my phone. This is how it turned out:

 Above is Tiny's bowl. It consisted of hand torn romaine lettuce, diced tomato, grilled steak, black beans, corn, cilantro lime rice, shredded cheese (he wanted mozzarella), freshly made guacamole and a light drizzle of Italian dressing.

Above is my bowl. I had a base of lettuce and diced tomato, topped with grilled steak, black beans, cilantro lime rice, queso fresco, freshly made guacamole and a drizzle of Italian dressing.

It was super easy. I started the rice first. (Picture of homemade cilantro lime rice below.)

While the rice was cooking I made the guacamole and let it set in the fridge. I diced the tomatoes, heated up the beans, added the ingredients to the cilantro lime rice to flavor it, and heated up the steak. Then I ripped up the lettuce and assembled our bowls. Totally cheap, especially since we used last night's leftover steak.

You could use any sides you want. I checked out the Chipotle website and the stuff they use is pretty basic:
*grilled steak, grilled chicken or barbacoa (I have a recipe for their barbacoa that I am dying to try!)
*pinto or black beans
*cilantro lime rice (they usually have a choice between white and brown)
*corn (you can pan roast your corn, it adds an amazing flavor to salads and other dishes!)
*sour cream

Throw your lettuce and tomatoes in a bowl, and top with whatever toppings you like to personalize your own Chipotle bowl. This would be totally fun for a family night or a party! You could have a "Chipotle bar"! This came out delicious and was well worth making it at home.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When we first met..

Tiny and I met while working the Los Angeles County Fair in 2007. This is a couple of pics of us when we first started dating. I can't believe we're celebrating our wedding anniversary in just 6 days!

I pulled up the first picture and Jenna exclaimed "Wow mom! You were so skinny!" lol. I was only 10 pounds lighter in this pic than I am now. It's amazing the difference 10 pounds makes.

(BTW, give me until the end of the summer and I WILL be back at this weight. lol!)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Story Time...

(Above, from left: Christian, age 8, (on his lap) Autumn, 5 or 6 months old, Gwen, 3yrs 4 months, Jenna, 2yrs 3 months. Taken on the last Christmas we spent with my grandmother. )

I was going through some old files and I found this, dated Friday, June 18th, 2004. It was in with a bunch of old emails I sent my sister when she was serving in Iraq with the Marine Corps. I used to send her all kinds of stories about the kids and our daily life:

Tuesday was a really pretty day and I had to go get some groceries. I figured since it was such a nice day I would schedule our trip to the grocery store around Afterschool Adventures (story hour & crafts for 5 to 10 year olds) at the library for Christian (at the time, age 8). Gwen(just a few months shy of 3 years old) and Jenna (just a few months shy of 2 years old) haven't had much experience with the library but they love to sit and read stories at home so I figured while Christian was in story hour i'd sit with Gwen and Jenna and read (in theory this was a really nice idea.)

I got the kids ready-while putting Gwen's outfit on I noticed the top fit her but the little shorts were a bit too big-I really liked the outfit and I pinned the shorts so they wouldn't fall down.

We went to the library and Christian went straight to the story hour room and I let Gwen and Jenna out of the stroller. Holding each of their hands firmly, I walked them down the picture book aisle so we could pick out a book to read. We got to a book they liked and it was really wedged in there, so I let go of their hands for a second and squatted down to get the book. Big mistake. As soon as I let go of their hands they TOOK OFF. Before I could get my 8 and 1/2 month pregnant bulky body back up from a squatting position they were already at the end of the aisle. DID THEY GO THE SAME WAY AT THE END OF THE AISLE???? OF COURSE NOT!!!! They parted ways, running and giggling in two different directions. Jenna headed for the grown up section and Gwen went screeching through the children's section.

I figured i'd get Jenna first, as a) she is smaller and easier to catch, and b) she is very tiny and easy for someone to pick up and take off with (yeah, i'm paranoid.) I got ahold of Jenna pretty quickly and strapped her into the stroller.

With Gwen I tried a different tactic because i'm so big and pregnant that it's hard to catch her when she starts running (she can be pretty fast.) I called out softly "Bye Gwennie, i'm leaving you..." and started acting like I was walking towards the front door. I heard this screeching giggle and to my horror she ran out from between two aisles of books-totally BUTT NAKED from the waist down. I guess those shorts that had been too big were falling down as she ran and they pulled her Pull Up down with them. Rather than have them slow her down, she must have taken the time to stop and step out of them. I had to CHASE her, half naked, running and squealing with glee, as she called out "You can't catch meeeee!!" in a sing song voice, through the busy library. It was mortifying. Some people were giving us mean looks, others were laughing like mad, and the librarians (bless them!) were 'not paying attention'. I am SO glad they chose to ignore what was already a pretty darned embarrassing situation. I finally got ahold of Gwen and found her shorts and pull up in the middle of one of the aisles. Rather than parade her around the library half naked some more to get her to the bathroom, I laid her down in the aisle behind the stroller and threw her shorts/pull ups back on and then strapped her into the stroller. I swear when we picked up Christian and walked out of there I wouldn't have been surprised to hear cheers and clapping!!

I actually signed Gwennie up for preschool story hour once a week while I was there but my doc doesn't want me walking around anymore until i'm a tiny bit further along so I won't have to go through another library experience for a while. (I think I should probably be thankful...lol.)
They are normally very good in stores and restaurants and such so their behavior at the library really surprised me!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Great Popcorn Fiasco

This happened several years ago-it kind of makes me grateful that our lives have settled down a bit now that the girls are older.

(Above, the guilty party)

Often people ask me what I do all day, staying home with my kids. I think maybe some of them assume I can't possibly have enough to keep me busy or entertained without working outside of the home. Here is one day in our lives for those who wonder. Sadly it isn't an atypical day, as my kids are notorious for doing odd things and creating odd situations. The names have (not) been changed to protect the guiltyinnocent.

J=Jenna, my big brown eyed, chipmunk voiced two year old

My 2 year old walks up to me with her finger stuck up her left nostril.
J:Ouch, mommy. Mommy, ouch. (With finger in her nose.)
I swipe her hand away from her nose and say "Well it wouldn't BE ouch if you keep your fingers out of your nose, honey."
She sticks her finger up there again, almost insisting. "OUCH mommy!"

Now Jenna isn't normally the type to run around picking her nose-she's usually very ladylike-so I started to get clued in that maybe something was wrong.
J:"OUCH MOMMY" (finger in nose again)
M:"Do you have something in your nose honey?"
J:"ya." (Looks up at me with huge brown eyes.)
M:"What's in your nose, honey?"
J:"Up derr" (sticks finger up nose again as if pointing to where object is)
I take her finger out of her nose once more and peer up her nose. There appears to be a light colored round thing in her left nostril.
I place her on my lap, lean her head back, and peer up there again in better light. There appears to be a shiny golden POPCORN KERNEL up her left nostril. I freak.
M:"Jenna did you put a POPCORN KERNEL up your nose???"
J: (Looks at me as if I had three heads)

I tell my 9 year old son to go get me the tweezers so that I can attempt to get the foreign object out of my child's nostril. I tilt her head back again and peer up her nose. I can just see where the kernel makes a teardrop shaped point-I hope to grasp that and pull it out. If not we may have to go to the hospital.

My 9 year old son, Christian: "Hey why don't we just VACUUM it out???" (malicious look of glee on his face.)
I ignore him.

My attempt with tweezers fails-AND I make her nose bleed, which makes me feel REALLY bad. Next step-hospital.

I call my mom:
Me: Uh, hey mom? Could you watch a bunch of the kids while I take Jenna to the hospital?"
Mom:"Cari why would you have to take Jenna to the hospital?"
Me:"Uh, well, she stuck a corn kernel up her nose."
Mom: "I swear you and your family are gonna be the death of my sanity! Get the kids dressed and call me back."
Me:(Sheepishly) "ok"
We hang up.

I start to clean the kids up-it's right after brekkie-(we had oatmeal so they are pretty messy.) My son is jumping up and down frantically in the background asking OVER AND OVER AND OVER again if we can vaccum the corn kernel out of her nose.
I finally become irate and annoyed with my son:"NO!!! We can NOT vacuum your sister's face!!!"
9 yr. old:(disappointed) "Why not mom?"

I go on getting her ready as I think about my vacuum for some reason. It's very powerful-and only about 8 months old-has great attachments too. I envision what they might do to my child at the hospital-long tweezer looking thingys being stuck up her nose to try to remove the offending article.

Me:"Christian, go plug in the vacuum."

I lay Jenna on my lap on Christian's bed, tilt her head back-one hand on her forehead so I can see 'up derr'. I enlist Christian's help in holding down my (surprisingly strong) 2 year old's flailing arms. I take out the attachment and turn on the vacuum. Jenna is looking SERIOUSLY perplexed and confused by this time. (Why in the WORLD is mom wielding the vacuum attachment and holding me down???)

I stick the hose to the middle of her face for a few seconds. She howls. I pull the vacuum away and peer into her nose. The kernel is gone. (Thank God!)

Jenna is MAD. She jumps up and down yelling at me "No no mommy!!!! That's a bad, bad gowel!!!!" Now normally I wouldn't let her speak to me in this manner but seeing as I just vacuumed about half her face off I figured she was entitled to a bit of a rant.

I won't even post about the conversation I had with my mom when I called to tell her we got the kernel out. It's replete with verbally abusive words and phrases such as stupid, retarded, and 'it scares me that you have offspring'...she was just joking, though...you know that back East sarcasm. Heh.

The rest of the morning was uneventful (thankfully for my sanity.) I put the toddlers on the couch and threw a Disney movie on-they were NOT ALLOWED TO LEAVE THE COUCH for the duration of the movie. (I'm sorry-I had way too much excitement for the morning.) I actually sat next to them and got some studying done! (I'm currently taking a Sewing and Dressmaking course.) Amazing.

Jenna has been fine for the rest of the day-no fingers in her nose, no 'Ouch mommy.' An unorthodox way to solve that little fiasco for sure, but at least it worked. :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tunnel Fun!

Mommy (My Gwennie took this picture!) :0)
3 Littles
Mommy and Autumn

Friday, May 6, 2011


Two pics from my wedding that I didn't even know existed until today! I love them, and the rest of the 380 other pics that were taken along with them ! Thank you so much, Patti!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Growing Weary

Last Saturday night I was terribly sick with my asthma. (yeah, I have been fighting too much illness lately. No fun.) I lay in bed, coughing and struggling to breathe...and finally gave in to my inhaler. I puffed it and it helped tremendously. I didn't sleep well, tossing and turning and coughing a lot. My chest was all sore and my body was achy. Just a not so good night all around.

First thing the next morning, Little Miss Autumn (age 6) came bursting into my bedroom sobbing sadly. "Mommmmy! My sisters hate me! I tried to play with them and they don't like me and they were mean to meeee!" She was out of breath from crying so hard and you could hear the hurt in her tiny voice. Exhausted and still not feeling well, I pulled her into my bed and under my blankets as I cuddled her, stroked her hair, kissed her soft little cheeks and forehead, and told her how wonderful and sweet she was and not to worry. She soon grew quiet and still and just when I thought she was falling back to sleep, she popped her little head up and said "Can I go back to my room and play with my bear and my sissies?" I called her sissies into my room, let all of them know that mommy had been sick last night, and asked them to play quietly in their bedroom under their 16 year old sister's supervision so that mommy could get a bit more rest. They agreed, and went to their room to play.

I was just falling back to sleep when I heard a guitar playing so loudly I could feel it through the floor of my upstairs bedroom. Who in the world would be playing guitar at this time of morning? I figured it was my son. Tired and hoarse, I called out (not too patiently, I must admit) "STOP PLAYING GUITAR! PLEASE have some CONSIDERATION!" The music instantly stopped, and to my surprise and embarrassment, my son's friend, Jeremy called out "Sorry, Cari." He had spent the night with my son and apparently couldn't sleep any later, so he went downstairs and started playing guitar.

I lay back down once more, trying to squeeze just a tiny bit more rest out of the morning. my body was all shaky and weak, and my heart racing. Just as I started to relax, Jenna (8) came running into my bedroom. "Mom, Gwen took away my toy!" and right after that, I was startled by a loud pounding on the front door. I sorted out the toy problem and went downstairs to find our good family friend, Billy at the door. He had shown up for a ride to church. I was so tired that I had almost slept too late to go to church!

I let Billy in, had the littles start getting ready, and went upstairs to get dressed. My heart raced so badly just walking up the stairs, I had to sit on my bed for a few minutes to get it to slow down before I changed my clothing. My husband looked at me and said "I don't think you should be going to church today. You need to stay home and get some rest." I thought about our morning, and how my girls had been so mean to each other, and pictured my littlest with her heartbroken cry just a short time ago. I said "No, I think the children really need to be there, learning the word of God. It might help to settle some of the heart issues going on this morning."

I went downstairs continued to get ready. I tried to put my contacts in, and my eyes were so dry and irritated from lack of sleep that it hurt terribly.I had to take them back out and go without-since I have no glasses right now, that meant I got to drive around half blind all day, which i'm not too comfortable with. The girls weren't listening, and instead of brushing their hair they were chasing each other around the house playing tag. I was sooo tired. Billy was sitting on the couch, all ready for his ride to church. Poor Jeremy had gone home. (Thank goodness he is a great family friend and understood that I was not trying to yell at him specifically, I was just wanting some peace and quiet.) I felt weary, and frustrated.

My husband was in the bathroom talking to me and I just started to cry. My heart felt so tired. My body felt tired, too. I sobbed to my poor husband..."I'm sooooo tired...my heart is racing and my body is shaky...the girls were fighting and breaking each other's hearts this morning, I verbally abused Jeremy by accident, Billy is here for a ride to church...i'm soooooo tired! I know I am not supposed to grow weary, I should have been happy and eager to wake up and spend time with my children! I should have opened the door and received Billy with a joyful heart, happy to be able to take him to church with us, but instead, every time something new happened, my heart just sank that I wouldn't be able to get any more rest this morning. I'm so sorry, I feel awful..."

My husband is so good to me. He just held me while I cried for a few minutes-and then I realized I was totally dumping on him right before he had to leave for work. I pulled myself together (both physically and emotionally), finished getting ready, and gave him a proper goodbye when he left. By this time it was too late to go to our regular church, so we ended up at our old church, which is closer to our home, and starts a half hour later.

Pastor Rick had a great sermon prepared. It was all about how we should ask the Lord every day: What do you want to do with me today, Lord? and What do you want to do THROUGH me today, Lord? He said that he feels most people are not working up to their full potential in the Lord. Sometimes we are too afraid to actually live up to what the Lord wants for us. Some of us don't really even know what the Lord wants for us yet. We need to ask him. It really gave me food for thought. I know that God wanted me to be there that morning. (And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28)The sermon gave me refreshment, and guidance. I left feeling much better than I had earlier that morning.

I don't know what God has in store for my long term future, but i'm pretty confident I know what he wants me to do right now. He has placed me in my home with 5 beautiful children to guide and nurture, and an amazing husband to love, support, and encourage as he leads our family. The Bible calls me to open my home to friends and strangers, to be hospitable and joyful and welcome people into our home, and give them the opportunity to hear His word. I'm right where I am supposed to be. I'm pretty sure he doesn't want me to get rid of all my things and move to a third world country to minister to others. (Although, for those people who get to do that stuff I think it is amazing!) The point is, I don't have to go far away or wait for some spectacular thing to happen to be a missionary. I have my own mission field right here, in my home. In my neighborhood. At my church. At the children's schools. Wherever I go it is my calling from Him to try to show His love. Sometimes I get tired-i'm human-but I know, scripture tells me, that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13) He will carry me, as long as I am willing to let him. When I grow tired, weary, frustrated, that's when I need him more than ever.

The Bible says:
Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.


Isaiah 40:31
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.


2 Corinthians 4:16
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:1
Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.

and this!:

Luke 18:1

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

Such beautiful verses to reassure us when we grow weary or tired.


I had a really great day with my girls yesterday...we played with bubbles and sidewalk chalk, did the Cha Cha Slide in the front yard, and just generally had fun. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon, and the kids got out of school early, so I was able to spend more time with them than usual-my favorite kind of day. For dinner, we had a freshly made chef salad piled high with tons of veggies, diced ham, sliced hard boiled egg, cheese and dressing and we all sat at my grandmother's very old dining table laughing and joking together as we ate. It was great!

Unfortunately, as evening came on I developed a terrible headache. By 7, I had the littles all sprawled around the living room watching Anne of Green Gables on PBS as I rested on the couch. As soon as it was 8 o'clock, I told the girls it was time for them to go to bed-and I wearily plodded upstairs to my own bed. My head was hurting so badly. I walked into my hot, dark room, plopped down on my bed, and lay there hoping my headache would subside.

All of a sudden the silence was broken. "Echoooooooooooooooooooooo! I'm a BEAST!" My 15 year old son, Christian, was home from visiting with his girlfriend. (He knows how to make a grand entrance.) I could hear him and Echo talking downstairs-Christian noticed that I wasn't downstairs, and it was fairly early in the evening-this is unusual for me.
Christian: Where's mom?
Echo: She's upstairs in bed.
Christian: She is?? Is she ok?
Echo: She has a headache.

I hear someone walking upstairs. My son cracks my bedroom door open.
Christian: Mom? Are you ok?
Me: I just have a bad migraine, son.
Christian: Man, mom, it's hot in here! Let me open your bedroom window. Here, i'll put the fan on for you. Do you need anything else? I'll shut the door so the hallway light doesn't bother your eyes. I hope you feel better! I love you, mom.
(Opens window, fussily points the fan in my direction to cool me off, closes door and leaves me to be miserable lol)

A few minutes later, the door cracks open just slightly, and I hear a tiny, squeaky voice talking to me...
Autumn (age 6): I laid out my clothes for tomorrow, mommy.
Me: You did? (Surprised, because usually she likes me to pick out her outfit for her.)
Autumn: Yeah. I heard you had a headache, and I didn't want to disturb you.
(When did she learn the word disturb? She said it so adorably...distowb. She still has trouble with her r's.)
Me: Well, thank you so much! I'm very proud of you for being kind and considerate. Come give mommy a kiss.
Autumn: Are you still gonna tuck us in??
Me: Of course, i'll be in in a few minutes.
(Autumn hugs and kisses me to pieces, shuts my bedroom door behind her, and goes to bed with her sissies.)

As I lay there in the dark, I felt so overwhelmed with emotion that my children would be so sweet and compassionate, so tender. They are so good to me. I mean, we do have our moments of chaos and misbehavior, but my children really treat me well. They make me feel so special. I find little notes and drawings all over the house from the littles ("I love mom", "mom, come to my party" "picture of me and mom playing", etc.) They bring me little trinkets like flowers and pretty rocks as tokens of their affection. Even my older two tell me they love me often, encourage me when I take on something new, and sometimes even leave little love notes for me on the computer. They hug and kiss me all the time, even my adolescent son! It makes me so happy that my kids embrace me and don't push me away. (For the most part they don't push me away-the teens do have their moments haha.)

My children are not just good to me, though. They are kind and caring to others. It really affects them to see another person having a hard time or suffering. This is one thing I truly love about my kids. In this day and age, so many children are becoming desensitized to the needs and feelings of others, and I think it is important to try to teach them the Fruits of the Spirit.

Colossians 3:12 says:
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

I think this is probably a verse we all could benefit from learning.