Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

My baby is 2


I went back and looked at my posts from the day before and the day of Tessa’s birth.  I am surprised by how different it is from my memories of it.  But the important things remain in my memory: her first cry, locking eyes with Steve after we saw her, that first night in the hospital watching her sleep on my chest and falling in love with her, watching Sabrina touch her head for the first time.

Like everyone says, I can’t believe it has been 2 years and I can’t believe that she hasn’t always been here.  Tessa, my little Crabby McCrabberson, has been such a different experience than Sabrina.

Tessa has been her own person from the first day.  She has never hesitated to let us know what she was unhappy with something.  She knows what she wants, when she wants it, and most definitely how it should come about.  But aside from having crabby and demanding moments, she is hysterical.  She makes me laugh every single day.  We can’t wait to hear what she has to say if she ever decides to talk.  She is fiercely a momma’s girl but also much more independent than Sabrina was at this age.  Sabrina would stick close to me and observe situations at this age.  Tessa either wants to be physically attached to me or wants to do her own thing entirely.

She adores her big sister.  (This morning, Sabrina trying to take over show Tessa how to use the letter ball.)

She is much more serious about things than Sabrina tends to be.

We have to work a little harder for her smiles but they are pure sunshine.

posted under family | 8 Comments »

The Rest of The Story*


Would it change your opinions of Chris if I told you I Chris had a fever and a sore throat and it was ice cream cake?  It was the first time I Chris was hungry in 24 hours and in my Chris’s weakened state I Chris couldn’t resist the ice cream cake.

Y’all are a little rigid with your birthday protocol rules.  He had his favorite Lincoln Bakery cake at his mom’s house.  He left me alone in his apartment, sick and weak, to go eat dinner and cake and celebrate.  Have you ever seen a bachelor’s cupboards and frig contents?  I’m not sorry and I would do it again.

* Loved Paul Harvey which has nothing to do with this blog post. That was his tagline.
posted under Misc. | 13 Comments »

Settle a friendly argument


For 6+years, we’ve had a friendly debate going in our marriage.  I’m curious to see what others think.  I’m going to do my best to lay it out objectively so that you don’t know who is who.  And I’m going to use gender neutral names because “Party of the First Part” and “Party of the Second Part” might get confusing.

Chris and Pat are engaged.  For Pat’s birthday, Chris buys a cake.  Chris has the flu and sends Pat off to celebrate (dinner, gifts, homemade cake, general merriment) with Pat’s family.  Chris is at Pat’s place feeling a little sorry for Chris’s self due to illness and missing said merriment.  Chris decides to have a piece of birthday cake.  Pat saw the cake before leaving but did not have a piece.  Chris cuts the first slice, puts it on a plate, and covers it with plastic wrap.  Chris then has a slice. The next day, Pat sees the birthday cake has been cut.

Pat has maintained for 6+ years that Chris ate the first slice of birthday cake that year committing an egregious birthday faux pas.  Chris maintains that the first slice was cut, wrapped, and saved for Pat and therefore there was no birthday foul. Chris also maintains that the real first slice of birthday cake occurred at the birthday party with Pat’s family.

So blog readers, tell me.  What do you think?

posted under family | 26 Comments »

Did I forget to mention?


Sabrina is home!

I would love to report that huge smile is a result of being so happy to see us but alas that is not the case.  We did get big smiles and hugs and kisses when she initially saw us.  Then we all had lunch and the excitement wore off.  When I whipped out my phone to take a photo, she turned away.  I bribed her with the promise of crackers to smile.

Tessa is quite happy to have Sabrina home despite the fact they were picking at each other 7 minutes after getting in the car.

We were worried it would take us weeks to get Sabrina back into the routine at home (ie lose the attitude acquired after 9 days of being spoiled) but she has done great.  Don’t get me wrong, attitude is totally present…but not much more than she left with.

It has been fun slowing hearing about her trip.  She initially didn’t have much to share beyond the fact that she had fun.  But every day I hear a new story.  The details are sometimes garbled because she doesn’t have a good grasp of time yet (everything happened yesterday) but it is fun to hear her memories.  Aunt Lulu and the failed dark bath.  Pap-pap cleaning the bouncy house.  Susie giving her M&Ms if she ate all of her breakfast.  Grandma having a special zoo outfit for her.  Uncle Pat thinking something she did (couldn’t quite figure out what) was really funny.

She apparently did something fun every single day and now is not at all content to spend even a single day at home hanging out.  We must go somewhere.

Grandma bought Sabrina a pair of Crocs w/Dora and Diego thingies.  Tessa was fascinated with them and kept trying to put them on.  I finally brought out the croc knockoffs I bought for the beach (featuring Dora) so that Tessa could be like her sister.  (Sabrina’s love of Dora isn’t as all consuming as it once was…but now Tessa is becoming obsessed with Dora.  Joy.)

posted under family | 3 Comments »

Banana Bread


I can’t tell you that this is the best banana bread I’ve ever had.  It is the best one I’ve ever made myself.  The best banana bread I’ve ever had was at the Dona Luisa Bakery on 4a calle oriente in Antigua.  I used to buy a loaf once or twice a week and eat it for breakfast and lunch and dinner sometimes.  I don’t wax poetic about much of the food I encountered living in Guatemala but that banana bread was amazing.  I wish I could replicate it.  But since I can’t, this stuff is pretty darn good.  (Source for photo is Antigua Daily Photo.)

I started with this recipe from All Recipes and added a few things.  I think it is a tasty, moist, and banana-y bread/cake.  (Let’s face it, just because we put it in a loaf pan doesn’t make it bread.)

Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (you can omit this and use 2 cups of white flour if you prefer)

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

1/2 cup butter (I’ve also used I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter sticks) room temp

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs, beaten

5 (ish) over ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 1/3 cup)

In a large bowl, combine first 7 (through walnuts) ingredients.  In another bowl, cream butter and sugar together.  Add eggs, vanilla, and mashed bananas until incorporated.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with rubber spatula or wooden spoon – stir only until incorporated.  Do not over mix.

Pour into loaf pan prepared with non-stick spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.


*When poking with toothpick, poke a couple of spots in case you hit a banana chunk.

* I always end up with 1 overripe banana – never 5.  So when I get one that is too ripe, I put it in a ziploc and throw it in the freezer.  I keep adding to the bag until I have enough for banana bread.  They turn black and gross.  Allow to thaw, snip off the end and squeeze the banana out.

* You can mash bananas with a potato ricer or a fork.

Linking to:

posted under food | 5 Comments »



Sabrina comes home!  Yay!  I know she has had a fabulous time but we’ve missed her.  Tessa seems to have mixed feelings about it.  She seems to enjoy having all of the attention to herself but also misses her tormentor playmate. I’ve enjoyed the individual time with Tessa as well as the ability to run errands with relative ease.  (Yesterday, Tessa was the official greeter at our local Sprint store – an errand I probably would not have run with both girls by myself.)

The girl is obsessed with shoes. She is learning young.

These last 2 were taken by my friend, Crystal, at a local play place.  She takes awesome photos at our MOMS Club events.

Now bring back my sassy, eye-rolling, public restroom visiting, fickle, fight picking, whining, OCD Sabrina!

posted under family | 1 Comment »

Resistance is futile


We will be assimilated.  We are becoming more Southern with every passing day.  We’ll never be true Southerners but the South has a way of creeping in.

One day we were talking about what we needed to do and Steve said “I reckon…” (who talks like that?)

I find myself saying “Ya’ll” without the previous irony.

I tried shrimp and cheese grits.  And I liked them.  A lot.

I tried fried green tomatoes.  They were pretty good.

I wear capris and skirts more often when I go out.  I still wear shorts in public but I’m aware that I am breaking the rules.  I still don’t care but I know why I am getting disapproving looks.

Whenever I am pointing out something about another person that might be considered a flaw or criticism, I follow it with “bless her heart“.

When it is 100 degrees outside, I take a sweater with me to restaurants because it is likely to be 66 degrees inside.

I know the best pulled pork sandwiches can be found in gas station restaurants in the middle of no where.  Seriously, there is one in NC, on the way to the beach, that makes me drool as we approach.

The other day, Steve declared it was going to be a nice day because it wasonly supposed to be 90 degrees”.

I have a strange desire to try Chess Pie despite the fact I am sure it is foul (it has been described to me as pecan pie without the pecans – blech).

But yesterday sealed it.  We bought meat off the back of a pickup truck. Yes, yes we did.

Okay it wasn’t quite as redneck looking as that – but it wasn’t far off.  It was a pickup with a chest freezer in back.  And we purchased steaks from them.  The prices were decent – not low enough to set off “too good to be true” alarm bells but good.  The meat was frozen solid and looked nice.  We’ll see once we try it.

The funniest part of the transaction (and there were several) was the guy’s son.  The son was probably 20.  He looked like quite the good old boy and was sporting a slight mullet.  They both had thick Southern drawls.  The son had said very little but dad was showing us the box of pork and pulled out some stuffed pork chops.  Dad described the corn bread stuffing and the son drawled “They are divine.”  Totally not the choice of words I would have expected.

Welcome to the south.

Memo #42813


Dear Crazy Lady In Whole Foods:

Often after having a baby, we get stuck inside.  We don’t talk to many grown ups.  Our brains get a little mushy and we forget our social skills.  I get that.  Really, I do.  That is why the first time you approached me, I smiled and even engaged you a little.  I’m not big on chatting with random strangers in the grocery store.  I have a toddler who is like a time bomb.  The second we enter, the countdown starts but I don’t know how long I have before all hell breaks loose.  So I get in and get out – quick like a Ninja.  If Ninjas kept up a constant stream of non-sense chatter with a toddler while stuffing animal crackers in her mouth to keep her quiet happy.  Whatever.

Your double take when you turned and saw me examining tofu noodles was a little strange.  Your extreme surprise and excitement over our matching Graco strollers was a little odd.  But I thought perhaps your baby was young and you didn’t get out much.  I thought maybe you didn’t realize how over the top you sounded (we’ve all done it).  I assured you it was a nice stroller and it had served us well with our first and now second child.  Then I excused myself.

The fact that you tracked me down, 10 minutes later, on the other side of the store, dragging your mother who was pushing said matching stroller with you, was borderline stalking flat out weird.  I really didn’t need you to prove to me that your stroller was the same.  And your mom didn’t look particularly impressed either.  (Ever seen the Friend’s episode with Joey’s hand twin? Kind of felt like that.) But I smiled and nodded as I sidled away.

Following me down the aisle while loudly explaining to your mother how amazing it was that we had matching strollers “because you know they didn’t make that many” started to feel creepy.  By the way, Graco makes more than 1 of each stroller.  Go to Target and take a look sometime.  And get a cart while you are there – see if you can find someone else with a matching one.


The Woman Who Knows How to File a Restraining Order

posted under humor | 6 Comments »

Ain’t no sunshine when she is gone


Ain’t no sunshine when she is gone

Okay that isn’t even sort of true but it does seem like a little sunshine has gone out of our lives.  Sabrina left last Wednesday to spend 9 days up north with her grandparents, aunt and uncle.  How could things not seem a little less bright without this smile around?

Fortunately, I still have this little one to keep me laughing (seriously – how can someone who doesn’t talk be so funny?):

Tessa is missing Sabrina.  She asks for her every morning when she gets up.  I remind her that Sabrina is with Grandma and Pap-pap.  Tessa immediately says “Pool!” convinced that Sabrina is spending all of this time in a pool with Grandma and Pap somewhere without her. Obviously, the pool at the hotel made quite the impression.

As much as I miss Sabrina (way more than I thought I would), it isn’t all bad.  I forgot how low key life is with 1 child.  And sometimes, this weird thing happens where there is no noise in my house.  It is kind of eerie.  Errands? A breeze.  Meal time? Super fast.  Eye rolling?  None.  Public restrooms? I haven’t entered one in 5 days.

No refereeing toy disputes.

No jealousy over attention given.

No cries of “I had that!” And no frustrated cries from the youngest over stolen balloons or books.

But around 3:30 every afternoon, Tessa decides that I am, quite possibly, the most boring human being on Earth.  She really starts missing Sabrina.  I guess torment from your sister is still attention from your sister.  She misses her big sister.  I can’t wait to see the reunion.

posted under family | 3 Comments »

Olive Oil Dip


I’ve never shared this because it seems pretty simple but I recently had some people over and out of everything I put on the table, this is the thing I was repeatedly asked how to make.  It is truly one of those things where the sum is greater than the parts.  I played around with it after going to a few Italian restaurants years ago that offered a mix of some mystery stuff with olive oil to dip the bread in.  Forgive the sketchy amounts – I don’t measure anything.  I included the photo to give an idea of how it looks pre-oil.

Olive Oil Dip

1 clove fresh garlic, minced (we’ve talked about what happens when you use garlic salt – don’t do it)

More salt than seems advisable (coarser sea salt is best but regular works too)

2 shakes Italian seasoning

2 shakes red pepper flakes

A little more salt

Olive Oil (I use extra virgin – maybe 3/4 cup for a big loaf of bread and a crowd of folks)

A loaf of fresh, crusty bread cut into cubes – Italian bread is good and so is sour dough but any nice bread from the bakery will do

If it all has 30 minutes or so to sit before being eaten, the garlic flavor spreads throughout the oil a bit more but it is good right away too.  Yes, it really is that simple.

posted under food | 4 Comments »
« Older Entries