Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Don’t Jump!


p1010043Sorry for my disappearance…we’ve spent most of the week in our PJs around here.  I’m a momma on the edge.  Just less than 24 hours after the germ fest Halloween party, Sabrina started sounding hoarse and coughing a bit.  At 3am, I was awoken by a child screaming “Mommy, I puked.”  Fortunately, her fever only lasted about 24 hours and she seems to feel mostly okay.  She has a cough and a runny nose and a bad case of the whines but she is fine otherwise.

Tessa had a very brief low grade fever but the cough and runny nose is worse for her.  She has started coughing to the point of throwing up.  It is lovely.  I have a mountain of vomit-y clothing to wash (hers and mine) and can’t stop wiping her nose and washing my hands.  She is down right crabby (who can blame her?) and I shudder when I feed her because I consider her fully loaded at that point.

Steve has been working non-stop for the past 3 weeks and my dutiful “Do what you need to dear…I know you would rather be home with us” has stopped being said with a smile and now is being uttered through gritted teeth.  I don’t know how you mommas with traveling or workaholic husbands do it.  I miss my partner in this craziness.  When he is home, he is torn between his want to spend time with the kids and his desire to just rest for a few minutes.

I don’t think the girls will be well enough to attend the Halloween party we were going to tomorrow but Sabrina should be fine to trick-or-treat tomorrow evening.  Hopefully, I’ll have some photos to share soon.

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Can’t you feel the joy?


We bought Sabrina’s dragon costume in mid-September.  She has asked every single day since “Today can I be a dragon now mommy?”  And every single day I’ve told her no, not yet.  But yesterday I was finally able to answer “Yes, today you can be a dragon.”  The child promptly lost her mind.  She was so excited she couldn’t stand it. This was at 7:30am…the party wasn’t until 4pm so there were a lot of dragon-less hours to get through first.  But we all managed to survive and finally the time had come.  I decided to leave the fleece bottoms at home because the child would have spontaneously combusted but the top included the much talked about wings and tail.  Tessa dressed up as the neglected second child in Sabrina’s first Halloween “costume” as a cheerleader.  Don’t they look thrilled to be in costume at their first Halloween party of the season?


Five minutes after we arrived, Sabrina quietly said “I’m done now Mommy” and wanted to remove her costume.  I managed to convince her to keep it on for awhile.  Rather than participate in the costume parade, she chose to stay at the picnic table and slowly eat her snacks.

She has been “practicing” her dragon ROAR for weeks.  She liked to practice in the car where she has a captive audience.  She likes to practice in the grocery store where she gets a nice reverberation.  And anytime Mommy or Daddy doesn’t do what she wants or tells her to do something, she ROARs at us.  She has worked up quite a loud ROAR.  At the party, when prompted, she gave a tiny little roar and then clammed up.


Hopefully this practice run will make for a more enthusiastic and confident dragon on Saturday.

Tessa wasn’t sure what was going on but was fascinated watching all of the kids in their costumes.


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BBQ Stuffed Potatoes & Nutty Ghosts


I took a coupon class (shut up) last month and one of the things we talked about was economical meals.  These potatoes were one of the ideas offered.  I never dreamed that they would taste so yummy – Steve has requested that they be put in the regular dinner rotation.  As is often the case around here, it is less of a recipe and more of an idea.

BBQ Stuffed Potatoes

2 small chicken breasts

1 cup (more or less as you like it) favorite BBQ sauce

2 – 3 baked potatoes

shredded cheese and other garnishes desired

p1000982-2Bake your potatoes.  Boil chicken breasts until done.  Allow to cool then shred.  Mix shredded chicken with favorite BBQ sauce (we like Sweet Baby Ray’s).  Cut open baked potato, put anything you like on it (we used a little shredded cheese and a dollop of low fat sour cream), top with shredded BBQ chicken.  Serve with green veggie or salad.  Can also do this with left over pot roast or pulled pork.

This is another borrowed idea.  My Wooden Spoon showed this recipe last week and I thought it would be perfect for our Mom’s Club Halloween party today.  It was easy and turned out really cute – I think the kids will like these Nutty Ghosts/Boo Babies.

p1010024I used 1 1/2 packages of Nutter Butter cookies, 1 box Baker’s white chocolate, and mini chocolate chips for the eyes.  The original recipe coated the entire cookie but I was trying to make enough for a big group of kids so I only did one side (minimized the mess for me as well as making the white chocolate go further).  I melted it in the microwave, dipped one side of the cookie, put it on foil to dry and put on the mini chips for eyes while the white chocolate was still wet.  Aren’t they cute little ghosts?


posted under food | 7 Comments »

Next generation of geeks


p1010016Sabrina is firmly a daddy’s girl.

Steve had to work most of the weekend but brought his laptop home so that he could work downstairs instead of closeting himself upstairs in his office.  Sabrina was so desperate to spend time with daddy, she got her laptop and sat at the table for 2 solidy hours.  She played with her laptop and copied daddy’s every move and motion.  How cute are they?

posted under family | 16 Comments »

Biker chicks


Yesterday was a gorgeous fall day here (we won’t discuss that today is raining and ugly).  Tessa took her first ride on a “bike” (more of a sit on scooter).  She thought it was pretty freaking marvelous once she got the hang of it.  She was speeding all over the driveway and making me nervous that she was going to shoot into the street.  She is going to be the child that gives me gray hair.



p1000969And a gratuitous photo of Sabrina and me this weekend.  I set it as my facebook profile photo because there are so few photos of me with the kids.  Steve saw it and asked when I took it.  I told him that it was from Saturday.  He looked confused and then asked if he took it.  Poor dear has been working so hard he thinks he is forgetting things.  I assured him that he hasn’t picked up the camera in well over a month. We will all be glad when these projects he is working on are over so we can have him back again.

posted under family | 6 Comments »

Peek A Boo



She may not totally get the concept


But she has fun

posted under family | 5 Comments »

Domestic Violence Awareness


dvribbonAs I have each October since I started blogging, I will remind you that October isn’t just Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

85% of domestic violence victims are women

The cost of domestic violence in health related services and lost productivity and earnings approaches $6 BILLION every year

1 in 4 (25%) of women has experienced some form of domestic abuse in her life

1,232 women are killed each year by an intimate partner

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women

Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the US.

Domestic violence is one of the most chronically under reported crimes.

It starts early: 1 in 5 female high school students report being physically or sexually assaulted by a dating partner.




Educate yourself.  Reach out to anyone you fear might be in a dangerous situation – even if you just let her know you are there if she needs you.  Talk to your children about behaviors to look out for in dating relationships.  Domestic violence festers in silence – SPEAK OUT! SPEAK UP!

Violence UnSilenced gives women a place to share their story and sheds a light on what is often a dark secret.

posted under political | 7 Comments »



I love making warm, hearty soups in the fall and winter.  It feels cozy and happy on a cold day.  I saw this soup on Our Best Bites and thought it sounded yummy.  I made some very minor changes based on what I had on hand and my preferences.   For the original recipe, click here.  (It uses apple cider which sounds yummy…but I didn’t have any.)


Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup

3 links Italian sausage or about 2/3 lb bulk

4 cloves garlic

1 sweet yellow onion, medium

1 medium apple (I used Gala)

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

32 oz box/large can chicken broth

15 oz can tomato sauce

1 cup sliced carrots

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried oregano

2 small zucchini, grated (yes, grated – it ends up being like noodles in the soup – I used the grater attachment on my food processor but you could use a box grater)

8-10 oz. package cheese tortellini (I used fresh from the refrig section but any would work)

1 Tbsp. dried parsley

Grated Parmesan for topping

Remove sausage from casing if you are using links.  Brown it in the bottom of your soup pan.  While it is browning, throw your garlic, onion, and apple into the food processor and pulse.  (Or dice it all by hand if you are going old school.)  When sausage is nearing done, remove any fat then throw in the onion, garlic and apple.  Cook until onion is soft and translucent.

Add vinegar, chicken broth, tomato sauce, carrots, basil, and oregano.  Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

Throw in the zucchini and parsley.  Simmer another 10 – 15 minutes.

Add tortellini.  Allow to simmer until it is done (for the fresh, I only let it cook another 8-10 minutes).  Top with parmesan and enjoy!

PS I don’t like zucchini but I never would have known that was what I was eating in this soup so it is a great way to sneak in some veggies.

mouthwateringbutton-1-2-12 Click button to visit Rachel for other Mouthwater Monday submissions.

posted under food | 6 Comments »



I took the girls to the pediatrician today.

Tessa is up to 19lb 6oz (8th %tile) and 29 inches (18th %tile).  Her head is in the 60th %tile – she is her daddy’s girl in that way.  Between her continued growth and her starting to eat table food, the doctor has called off the crisis mode and says she is perfect. I could have told him that.



Sabrina is firmly in the lower middle portion of the growth charts.  She is 29lbs 4oz (31st %tile) and 36.5 inches (31st %tile) which puts her BMI index in the 41st %tile.  The doctor also proclaimed her perfect. Again, not news to us.



Sabrina got the flu mist/up the nose vaccine.  They were out of the infant flu shots.  I’ve exchanged email with several folks about the H1N1 vaccine.  The office didn’t have it in yet so it was a moot worry on my part.  But the doctor, who I adore, did discuss it with me when I admitted to being on the fence about it.  I think he is doing his part to fight some of the hysteria and misinformation about it.  He asked what my specific concerns were and I admitted that I wasn’t entirely sure…I just have a general sense of malaise about it.  Basically, he said that if I trust the regular flu vaccine there is no reason to question the H1N1 vaccine because they are made the exact same way (using a strain of dead virus).  He wouldn’t give it if he didn’t feel it was safe.  I questioned the fact that they haven’t removed the mercury from the flu vaccinations (including the regular flu vaccine).  He said that there is a chemical (long word I can’t recall) that does contain a trace amount of mercury but that it was a really tiny amount.  I admitted that Tessa’s eating issues had started some concerns about the Autism spectrum in my brain and the mercury pushed that button for me.  He said he understood that and reiterated that it was a tiny amount and said that there is a vaccine (I believe regular flu…not sure about the H1N1) which has none of that chemical and therefore no mercury.  So there you have it – I promised I would share what he had to say.  As for my feelings?  I am still a little skeptical of it but if pushed would probably fall on the side of getting them vaccinated.  I think.  Or not.  Honestly, I was relieved that they didn’t have it so that I didn’t have to decide today.

Some days it is hard being the grown up and having to make the decisions for the 2 most important little people in my world.


posted under parenting | 11 Comments »

Picture page


Things are entertaining around here with a new walker/eater. Tessa vacillates between being pleased as punch at her new skills and looking at us like she isn’t sure why we are all making such a big deal out of things.




And Sabrina is 3 going on 13.  The things that come out of her mouth crack me up.  She was upstairs playing with Steve.  I came upstairs and she said “You don’t belong upstairs mommy.  Go back downstairs.”  Unfortunately, she is spending  a lot of time in Time Out for pushing her sister, taking things from her sister, and generally not listening to mommy.


Now that Tessa is getting older, I realize I am going to have to find another time out corner soon.


My attempt at solving the tendency of a 3 year old to not share only works in very small increments of time.  I found a wand and crown in the dollar section at Target.  I put them up high but visible and told Sabrina that they belonged to the Sharing Princess and she could only play with them when she shares.  It is my attempt at catching her being good as I used to tell parents back when I thought I knew what I was talking about taught parenting classes.  When she shares, she gets the crown and wand.  When she stops sharing, I take them back.  Much drama ensues.


posted under parenting | 10 Comments »
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