Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Not a party girl


Tessa was rather “Meh” about her birthday and cupcake last night.


At Sabrina’s request (since Tessa wasn’t going to eat it), I made strawberry cupcakes and topped them with strawberry cool whip.  Gotta say it wasn’t my favorite cupcake to date – I’m going to try and talk her into chocolate or white cake for her birthday.

This is her face when she is being funny.  She scrunches her nose, purses her lips, and breathes really heavily through her nose – it cracks us up.


She poked at it.  She smeared cool whip around.  She squished a little in her hands.  She leaned down at one point and touched it with her tongue (it was so cute but my crappy camera took a crappy picture of that moment).


She even pretended to take a bite just so I would stop taking her photo.


Today Miss Tessa had her 1 year check up.  At her 9 month, she was in the 5th%tile for both height and weight.  Today was in the 6th%tile for weight (17 lbs 12 oz) and 9th%tile for height (27.5 inches).  I discussed her continued aversion to table food with her pediatrician.  I love our pediatrician – he isn’t a knee jerk kind of guy.  He is laid back and likes to wait and see if things work themselves out before throwing drugs or other interventions into the mix.  So despite sounding incredibly ridiculous, when he suggested a couple of sessions of feeding therapy, I agreed to try it.  Best case scenario, they are able to help Tessa get over this gag reflex at table food.  Worse case scenario, I get some blog posts out of it.  Because we always mock that which we do not understand.  Or at least I do.

posted under family | 10 Comments »

One year ago today…


Happy birthday to my sweet Tessa!  It is such a bittersweet milestone for me.  I am so proud to see her turning into a funny, stubborn, sweet little person but I am so sad that she isn’t my tiny baby anymore.  I’m also sad that I will never have a tiny baby again.  I never thought the tiny baby stage would be something I would miss but to my surprise I loved it.

dsc06727One year ago today, at 8:52 pm central, Tessa made her entrance into this world.  My biggest memories from that day are a lot of waiting around, a bit of pain, “copious amounts” of fluid when they broke my water, being stoned off my ass after getting my epidural, and the epidural lady being mean.  It also stands out that Steve left the hospital 5 minutes before they decided to rush me down for a c-section and my panic until they found him, the discussion in the OR that some piece of equipment had stopped working and my conviction that it meant that my sweet epidural would wear off mid-c-section, the gasp and splash of blood when Tessa didn’t want to exit my nether regions and tried to avoid eviction, and the incredible relief and joy when we heard her cry for the first time.  I also recall my epidural wearing off minutes after returning to my room and shaking uncontrollably for almost an hour but that is overshadowed by the memory of my first night spent with little Tessa dozing on my chest.  Our birth day recap is here for anyone who is curious.

dsc00239And today, Tessa is careening toward toddlerhood.  She does a few signs: more, bottle, eat, and all done.  She also waves and claps and throws her hands in the air if we say “So big!”. Her newest trick with making smacking sounds for kisses.  She says “mama” and sometimes “dada” but really is a mama’s girl so I get the privilege of hearing “mama” often.  (She lights up and often claps when I enter the room.  Good thing she can’t ask for a pony yet because GAH.)  She also tries to say puppy but it comes out “pupup” – she is fascinated with the dog.  She is on the verge of walking – she will do laps around the coffee table all day and will let go with a “Look ma, no hands!” look on her face before falling on her butt.  She has taken a few steps with the toy shopping cart but Sabrina honestly won’t let her play with it long enough for her to walk far with it.  She hates being confined in her exersaucer or highchair – she wants to be free and on the move.  She crawls so quickly that we jokingly compare her to a cock roach.

dsc00229Tessa isn’t as easy to laugh as Sabrina was at that age but she is becoming freer with those laughs as she gets older.  Sabrina can make her laugh without fail – Tessa loves her big sister.  She still won’t eat anything with chunks so it is all Stage 2 baby food and bottles all the time.  We tried milk this week and she is completely uninterested.  She doesn’t want to drink out of her sippy cups – she only wants to chew on the spouts.  She has 3 teeth – 1 top and 2 bottom – and those suckers are sharp!

Tessa’s favorite things are screaming with her sister and spitting and making enough noise to make mommy’s head pound.  She and Sabrina will just start exchanging high pitched squeals back and forth – it is their favorite game.  Tessa usually starts it.  They squeal at each other and then giggle – the giggle makes me unable to stop them most of the time.  I love hearing them giggle together.  When not screaming, she will stand around blowing raspberries and soaking the front of her shirt.  She also like sitting on the entry way floor, which is a laminate, and dragging bowls over it which produces a high pitched screech – rather like nails on a chalkboard.  She also loves to crawl around with a book under one hand and steal her sister’s toys when Sabrina isn’t looking.  When she is tired, she sucks 2 fingers and with her free hand wants to hold my hand. If she is really tired, she sucks her fingers and wants to put her head in one of my hands. When she is tired, all things must stop and she must be put to bed – there will be no rocking, no singing, no books, just bed.  But she wakes up so happy in the mornings.

dsc00248Every single day she makes me laugh.  And every single day I am overwhelmed by my love for her.

Happy Birthday my sweet girl.  You’ve enriched our family beyond what words can capture.

posted under family | 24 Comments »

Rainy Day


It is rainy and gray today in Nashville.  Good thing I have my own sunshine.



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Guacamole Revisited


dsc00206For our blogger gathering on Saturday, we met up at a Mexican restaurant.  One of their claims to fame is making table-side guacamole.  I’m a huge fan of good guacamole so I was excited to try it.

The wait staff opened the avocados and started smashing and mixing all of the fresh ingredients.  We had 5 or 6 orders of it up and down the table to share.  I tasted it and my first thought was “Mine is better.”  For my taste, it needed more lime and just a little something smoky in the background (bacon or ground chipotle would have made me happy).  Don’t get me wrong – it was good.  Very good.  I just prefer mine.

I had to run to the store yesterday and thought about picking up some avocados and making some guacamole…then I saw the avocados were over $2 a piece and shelved that idea.  I’ve published this previously but for those of you who are new here, I’ll share the recipe for guacamole that I think is perfect.


4 avocados (if you don’t know how to cut and seed one visit here)

2 plum tomatoes or 1 regular garden variety tomato

1/2 onion

2-3 cloves of garlic

lemon juice

lime juice

orange juice



2-3 strips of bacon (If you don’t want to use bacon, you can get a little of that smoky flavor with ground chipotle – but it will also add a little heat)

dsc06208Peel and pit the avocados. Smash with either back of a fork or potato ricer. You want it slightly chunky rather than completely smooth. Finely chop the tomato, onion, and garlic or throw it in the food processor and pulse a few times. Add to the avocados. Squeeze a couple tablespoons of lemon juice and lime juice into your mixture. Squeeze a tablespoon of orange juice in (less than the lemon and lime…you shouldn’t taste the orange juice – it should just add a little something in the background). Add salt – a little more than you think you should. Crumble the bacon into your mixture. Trust me – adds a nice smokiness. Mix it all up. Taste it – if it seems to be missing something add a little more salt, lemon and/or lime juice. Eat. Yes, avocados have lots of fat in the them but it is the good kind plus lots of vitamins and minerals.

For the juices and cilantro, fresh is always best but I’ve been known to use dried cilantro when I don’t have fresh and those plastic lemons and limes for juice. I truly believe the garlic has to be fresh to get the back ground bite that it provides but do what you will.

mouthwateringbutton-1-2-13 Don’t forget it is Mouthwatering Monday at Rachel’s place.

posted under food | 8 Comments »

How to make Michelle put on a dress


img000022Saturday night, I put on a dress, slapped on some make-up, did my hair, and had dinner downtown.  Thanks to Amy and Jamie for gathering some of the local bloggers who weren’t able to go to BlogHer for some fun right here at home.  (I snapped this photo with my webcam at 11:30pm so forgive the quality and the lack of make-up…I just thought I would preserve the proof that I did occasionally put on something other than a t-shirt and do something that doesn’t involved a clip with my hair.)

margaritahergroupIt was a lovely bunch of women!  I met Calie who lives down the street from me.  I sat next to Lori who was delightful (and I swear she is familiar).  I had a chance to chat with Meredith and Jordana and Ashley and Malia – all of whom I adore.  I was only able to say hello in passing to the others at our long table – and a few I didn’t even get a chance to do that much.  (This photo stolen borrowed from Jamie.)

It was great to get out and have some rowdy conversations and yummy margaritas!

margaritahersmallgroup(Also stolen borrowed from Jamie.  Flickr didn’t make it easy – I had to work at it!) That is Jordana, me, Lori, and Jessie.

dsc00215 (This one is mine.)  And yes, Ashley is really this smiley and cute and Meredith is really that gracious and lovely in person.

posted under blog, nashville | 8 Comments »

Top Ten Reasons I’m not at BlogHer


10. Can I still call it baby weight when she is turning a year old in less than a week?

9. I haven’t worn fashionable shoes in so long my feet would likely rebel.  I live in sandals but I would feel compelled to dig out my grown up shoes if I went to Chicago and likely would be rendered unable to walk before my plane landed.

8.  It seems like a lot of money to spend on my little blogging hobby – especially since my blog doesn’t generate any income.

7.  My tolerance is shot.  Between 27 9 months of pregnancy and having 2 small children, a single glass of wine makes me start winking suggestively at my husband.  Two glasses and I start snorting when I laugh and giggling at everything I say (because I am hysterical when I drink).

6.  My current wardrobe shouldn’t travel outside of my house let alone the state of TN.

5.  My tens of readers would be disappointed to find I’m no where near as witty in person (shut up – I am too witty on my blog sometimes).

4.  I’ve forgotten how to make small talk that doesn’t revolve around potty training and making the switch to toddler beds.  I used to be able to converse about exotic topics like politics, travel, and societal issues but I think that space in my brain is now occupied  by the words to the Dora the Explorer and the Olivia theme songs.

3.  Have you seen how cute my kids are?  And my fabulous hubby? I would miss them if I left for 4 days.

2.  I would miss my wine and cheese themed Bunco party tonight and Margarita-her tomorrow.

1.  Being a stay at home mom doesn’t pay particularly well.  I love the sloppy kisses and hugs but I’m pretty sure BlogHer and the airlines and the Sheraton in Chicago would want actual dollars and I don’t have a lot of extras of those lying around.


posted under blog | 19 Comments »

We called a professional this time


Miss Sabrina had her first hair cut today.  She did a great job – no fussing at all.


I suppose that might have had something to do with my promise if she was good:


The child loves cupcakes – or at least the idea of cupcakes.  She has only ever had a cupcake once or twice but for whatever reason she is enchanted with them.  She pretends to eat one every day at the table while I feed Tessa.  I asked her what flavor she wanted and she said “Strawberry!”  I wasn’t sure that they would have strawberry but if you look in the front you might be able to spy a pink cupcake with white icing and a pink candy crown on top.  Guess what flavor that is?  Strawberry. They are so big they put them in a bowl.


I am not a fan of icing so the 3 inch high icing makes me gag a little.  But I did try one that had significantly less icining on it (Southern Comfort – she said it was like pecan pie w/o the goop) and I have to say it was the best cupcake I’ve ever eaten.  It was divine.  I still scraped off half the icing but wow it was yummy.

I told Tessa if she would get on board with eating actual food I would get her a cupcake from this shop for her birthday next week.  I don’t think she was on board with that plan.


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Cinnabon Snack Bars


This is a compensated post through my relationship with Mom Central.

dsc00097I received this box of Kellog’s Cinnabon Snack Bars in the mail last Friday.  I didn’t even take this box out of the cardbooard box it arrived in before tasting one of these bars.  You see, I adore Cinnabons.  Love.  But I accidentally found out how many calories are in a Cinnabon and I haven’t been able to eat one since.  I have been known to make the Pilsbury refrigerated cinnamon rolls with the Cinnabon stuff in them. I like them but they aren’t exactly waist friendly and your family has to finish the pan that morning because they aren’t very good the next day.  So when these Cinnabon Snack Bars arrived with a much less button-popping calorie count of 150 per bar, I was excited to try them.

Let me disclose that I dislike cereal bars – you know those fruit filled ones?  Not a fan.  My husband and daughter love them so I figured if these bars were like those, I could get them to eat them and give me their thoughts.  They weren’t like the cereal bars. Yum.

dsc00102They are about 4 bites which is perfect because they are very sweet.  Those 4 bites are like the best for bites of a cinnamon bun – the middle.  If you stick them in the microwave for 5 seconds (without the wrapper please), they are a little warm and gooey and full of that cinnamon and brown sugar that is at the center of the best cinnamon rolls.  Now don’t get me wrong, these are bars out of a box and are 150 calories – they can’t compete with a warm from the oven 4 digit calorie cinnamon bun.  But, for me, they satisfy that yen that I occasionally get for something like that.  They are quite sweet so it isn’t a breakfast thing for me – more of a once in awhile treat when I really want something rather decadent.

I saw Kellog’s Cinnabon Snack Bars on an end cap near the registers at Target yesterday on sale for $1.79.  Go get yourself a treat!

posted under food | 7 Comments »

Every one needs to stop growing up RIGHT NOW


dsc00077For the 5 of you who aren’t my friends on facebook or twitter (social media is making my blog feel redundant – but I keep coming here because it is hard to ramble in 140 characters or less), Sabrina got her big girl bed this weekend.  She loves it.  She tells me every morning “My Dora bed is booootiful!”  Notice the lack of a Dora sticker on the head board?  After admiring Steve’s handiwork putting it together, I said “You put the headboard on backwards because the sticker is facing the wall.”  He was rather indignant and informed me “It isn’t on backward. I just put the sticker on the wrong side.”  I’m not sure that wasn’t equally worthy of comment but I let it go.

We told Sabrina there were 2 rules about her big girl bed. 1) No jumping on the bed and 2) She has to stay in bed and call for mommy when she is ready to get up.  After 2 days, we have had 100% compliance with the rules.  We’ll see if that lasts after the novelty wears off.  She is currently so excited that she runs and jumps into bed without complaint at bed time.  My girl is wearing panties all the time without accidents (still doing Pull Ups overnight) and sleeping in a big girl bed! *WAH!*

dsc00038I had no intention of reaching this crib-leaving milestone until she was in Kindergarten since Sabrina seemed to have no desire to climb out or abandon her crib.  But Miss Tessa is a completely different story.  She had a drop side crib.  Every morning betwee 5:30 and 5:45 she would start rattling the drop side of her crib which we could hear in stereo over the monitor and through our ceiling.  She wouldn’t start complaining to get up until an hour later but rattling her cage made it difficult for the rest of us to sleep.  Also, the mattress in her crib didn’t drop as low as the one in Sabrina’s stationary sided crib.  I found her standing on her bumper and looking over the side with a glint in her eye.  Within the hour, I was looking on line for toddler beds.

Tessa inherited Sabrina’s nicer, heavier crib which sits lower and can’t be rattled.  Sabrina is now in her beloved Dora bed.  When the time comes, we will convert the crib to a toddler bed for Tessa. My babies need to stop growing up right now!  Tessa will be 1 year old next week and Sabrina will be 3 in just over a month.

dsc00058I was surprised that Tessa didn’t bat an eye at the change in sleeping arrangements.  While Steve was finishing up putting the crib together in her room, I was changing her for bed.  She seemed rather freaked out and kept saying “Mama mama mama mama mama” while watching the activity.  But once everyone left and she had a few quiet minutes, she calmed right down and then went to sleep with very little coaxing.

Sabrina is so routine driven and very firmly entrenched in that toddler place called “MINE!” that we feared giving her crib to Tessa would cause trauma or distress.  She couldn’t have cared less about her crib now being Tessa’s.  She now has her Dora bed and that is all she cares about.  So, again I underestimated my kiddos.  They continue to surprise me.

But seriously, the growing up needs to stop now.  I want my babies to stay babies just a little bit longer.

dsc00083And just as an aside, I was making sure all of the outlets in Sabrina’s room had covers on them since she is now free to roam at night.  Her room is 13’x12′ and she has 8 outlets! I don’t think we had 8 outlets in the entire downstairs of our house in Pittsburgh.

posted under family | 15 Comments »

Salsa for dummies


Making salsa is simple.  I, of course, am going to complicate it with many photos and steps you could skip.  It really is just a few things in the food processor or chopped by hand if you aren’t lazy want it more rustic.  Everything can be adjusted to taste.

Salsa Smiles

dsc00005-12 jalapeno peppers

1 Serrano pepper

5 cloves of garlic (or less if you don’t want to repel everyone around you)

1 lime

2 Tbl sugar

2 tsp salt

2 Tbl red wine vinegar

2 shakes cumin

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 can diced tomatoes (plain – I buy the no salt variety since I put a lot of salt in the salsa)

5 fresh tomatoes

1 onion (I used sweet yellow, some people like the purple ones)

dsc00009-1Put the peppers, garlic, lime, sugar, salt, vinegar, cumin, and cilantro into the food processor (see first photo).  Chop it fine and pour it into a bowl.

Cut the stem off the top of the tomato and then squeeze it in your hand so that the guts come out.  You are removing the seeds and some of the liquid from inside of the tomato because if you throw the whole tomato in, your salsa will be very watery.  This way you are removing some of the liquid and just using the flesh of the tomato.


I also drain the liquid off the canned diced tomatoes (these are optional – I think it makes the salsa a little more substantial) and squeeze them in my hand a bit before putting them into the food processor.

dsc00021Cut your onion into quarters, roughly chop the tomatoes after you’ve squeezed them, and put the canned tomatoes into the food processor.  Pulse it until you have it at the consistency you like.

Add the tomato and onion into the first mixture and stir.


Now you have salsa.  It tastes amazing and will get better every day it is in the frig as the flavors mingle and marry.  Stop reading here if that is sufficient to make you happy.


If you are still reading then I will assume that you, like my husband, are disturbed by “watery” salsa or salsa with “too much liquid”.  I am not bothered by this but since my husband is, I am working on ways to make it perfect for him. I spooned the salsa into a small strainer to remove some of the liquid.  I didn’t do this with all of the salsa because you need some juice.  I strained about 1/2 and mixed it back in with the un-strained salsa.


I saved the liquid and threw it in the freezer.  I will use it when I made rice or soup in place of broth or water – it should add some yummy flavor!



posted under food | 7 Comments »
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