Monday, January 30, 2012

Rest time

I have 12 cute little things lying on mats in front of me. We are listening to a Lullabies CD on low volume and the room is dim.  Half the kids are asleep, half are restless....rolling around, kicking their legs into the air, looking at board books.

One little girl likes to get her mat as close to my rocking chair as possible without me rocking on her tiny fingers.  She's touching my shoe right now.  It tickles a little.

I whisper to her to put her own shoe back on...somehow it always finds its way onto the floor during this time.  She struggles with the zipper on the side and then looks up at me with pleading eyes.  I nod at her and she yanks it up.

Another little girl is across the room, quiet as can be, pulling her spare clothes out of a ziploc bag and trying to dress herself...over her normal clothes.  I catch her eye and she slowly puts them back in the bag, a little smile creeping onto her face.

Rest time is both calming and hilarious to me.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

home improvement

We have several friends who live in our building and have 1-bedroom apartments like us.  When we first moved in it was fun to check out how people set up their apartments differently:  little touches they added to make their apartment cozy, how they arranged their furniture, etc.  One thing I noticed one night while we were at a friends' house was their pantry.  We have the same one...just a little tiny thing...but their's had shelves!  Our's was just a tall cavernous space with one measly shelf at the top.  It didn't even come all the way out to the door.  I wanted shelves too.  We called maintenance and asked if they could install some shelves in our pantry.  They couldn't.  So I ended up putting together the most pathetic make-shift shelves you have ever seen.
Now, before I show you pictures and you judge me for being the messiest person on earth...please know that this little pantry has been the thorn in my side since we moved in.  Okay, okay...I'm being a bit dramatic.  But it HAS bugged me.  A lot.  If you know me, you know I like things to be arranged neatly, in their place, and preferrably at a right angle.  It's the way I've always been.

Here is our pantry before (and no, I did not mess it up on purpose...this is really how it looks):

 Sooo ridiculously messy.  Who am I?

I finally decided that I'd had enough of the mess and I couldn't take it anymore.  My sweet husband went to Home Depot today and bought all the supplies needed to put in shelves.  He's not the handy-est of men (sorry babe), so I really appreciated him taking on this task.  I think he had fun!

The damage

My cute handyman...and his new drill!

The pantry AFTER:  a million trillion times better!

Finally, some order!

Everything fits!   With extra space!

It's amazing how much joy a few shelves can bring to me.  It's the simple things in life!  Thanks Curt!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snow Day Soup

It's snowing, y'all!

It's been a pretty mild winter up here so far.  We've gotten a couple of little baby snows.  This one is not much different.  I think we'll get about 3-4 inches when all is said and done.  As a Virginian, I have to remind myself that that is nothing to people up here.

In honor of this sweet little Saturday snow day, I'm making some soup in the crock pot and I thought I'd share.  I'm happy to say that this is my very own recipe.  Although it is adapted from both my mom's white chicken chili and chicken tortilla soup, found here.

Dice up an onion and some garlic.

Make sure you use the best Ro-Tel ever.  Diced tomatoes with lime juice & cilantro.

Throw everything into your crock pot (onions, garlic, beans, corn, ro-tel, chicken stock, water).

Add some spices...a tablespoon of each.

Season your chicken and place it on top of the mixture in your crock pot, submerging it into the liquid.

Cook on low for about 9-10 hours (or high for 6-7 hours).  Add chopped cilantro.

Shred your chicken and stir to combine everything.

Serve with some cheddar bay biscuits.  I made these for the first time tonight and they were amazing!

Serve in a bowl with cheese, cilantro, green onions, tortilla chips, and biscuits.  Yum!

Crock Pot Snow Day Soup (or White Chicken Chili)
1 package boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can Ro-Tel
2 cans great northern beans*
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can corn (drained)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 onion (chopped)
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water (you can add more later if your soup needs more liquid)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 cup cilantro (chopped)

Toppings (optional):
Sour cream
Mexican cheese
Tortilla chips
Green onion (chopped)


1. Dice up onion and garlic and throw them into your crock pot.
 2. Add great northern beans (add the whole can, juice and all), black beans, corn, Ro-Tel (add whole can), chicken stock, water, and spices to your crock pot.  Mix together with a spoon.
3. Salt and pepper both sides of your chicken and place on top of the mixture in the crock pot.  Press the chicken down gently to submerge it into the mixture.
4.  Cover and cook on high for 6-7 hours or low for 8-9 hours.
5.  Before serving, shred chicken with two forks (it should literally fall apart).  Stir in cilantro.
6.  To serve, place soup in a bowl and serve with desired toppings.  Enjoy!

This soup is also awesome with cheese biscuits.  I usually make them from a recipe that I have from working in Mrs. Hardesty's Tea Room, but decided to try something different tonight.  The cheddar bay biscuits (thanks Pinterest!) were amazing.  They are surprisingly easy to make from scratch.

*A note on great northern beans:  These are easily found in any grocery store in the South....but I've had the hardest time finding them in grocery stores up here.  Some similar beans are navy beans and cannellini beans (white kidney beans).  If you're a New Englander reading this, I have found great northern beans one time in the Spanish section at Market Basket (Goya brand).  I was so excited I think I bought 10 cans.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Christmas in Richmond

Now that I'm back on a school schedule, we were actually able to go home for Christmas!  We had a great time hanging out with my family, seeing old friends and family friends, eating tons of food, playing lots of cards, and laughing at/with our niece and nephew.

Most of these pictures are from Christmas day....I got to experiment with my dad's nice camera.  Now I want my own!  uh ohhh......
Family pic
Curt, Catherine, Mary, Mom, Julia, Mary Ellen, Ben, Bobby, Daddy

Christmas cocktails!

Part of my experimenting....wrong subject in focus

Awww...what a cutie.

My dad and Mary Ellen

nothing better than babies...


Three cute guys...


Could my parents be any sweeter?  No, not possible.

Julia and Mary Ellen

Best present award goes to.....Aunt Mary for Mary Ellen's jeggings!!

Yes, this is real.

Full and happy

Skyping with Bobby's parents....loving lots of things about this picture.

We always go to the Janney's house (our family friends) on Christmas night.  They are like family to us and we love them to death....and the Sanyours too!  This is the only picture I have from the night.  Great times all around!

 We are so grateful to have been able to go home and spend this special time celebrating our Lord's birth with our family and friends.  We have many fun family traditions we want to pass on to our own family (some day!).  Also, Christmas is so much fun with little people around!  We loved spending it with Ben and Mary Ellen.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

birthday craziness

We've had a lot of birthdays at school lately.  I think I had 6 kids with a birthday in November.  Crazy.  So since we've been celebrating at least one birthday a week, somehow now all the rest of the kids are convinced that their birthday is coming any day now too!  It's really fun.  Also, preschoolers have no concept of time, so our conversations go something like this:

kid - "Mrs. Kenney, is today my birthday?'
me - "No, so-and-so your birthday is not until March so you have to wait a little while longer."
kid - "So, is my birthday tomorrow?"
me - "No, not tomorrow either.  March is a long time from now.  You have to wait for many, many days."
kid - "So, is my birthday the next day?"
me - {sigh}

They've also gotten really into telling everyone in the class that they are going to invite him/her to their birthday party.  Even if their birthday is in June.  And if they get mad at a friend, the first thing they say is, "You can't come to my birthday party."

One of my favorite things about teaching preschool is what the kids say to me as soon as they walk in the door.  Most of them are already talking to me when they are still down at the end of the hall.  Talking about something that happened at home, talking about what clothes they are wearing, talking about something that happened 2 weeks ago that they are just now remembering...pretty much anything that comes into their little brains.  So the other day one of my little girls comes down the hallway talking guessed it....her birthday party!  She's going on and on about who she is going to invite, what kind of cake, etc.  Then she hands me this:
So I say what I always say.  Something like, "Oh, how pretty!  Can you tell me about it?"

Her response:  "It's an invitation to my birthday party!  It says, Dear Mrs. Kenney, I love you so much.  I am having a birthday party on 15  20 (what??).   I want you to come to my birthday party.  Also, don't forget to bring me a present.  That's important." 

"Oh wow. Your card says all that?"

The best part?  Her birthday isn't until April.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Thanksgiving with the Kenneys

 Yes, I realize it's January and I'm just now posting about Thanksgiving.  I think my new year's resolution should be to be a better blogger. 

We drove down to New Jersey for Thanksgiving with the Kenneys.  We had a great time visiting, eating, and getting to see a bit of Susan's world as a Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers.  We even went into NYC for a day.  Here is our trip in pictures...

 The drive down.  Rainy but NO traffic.  It was amazing.

Wednesday night sushi at Susan's apartment

 Thursday morning we walked around Princeton. So beautiful!

We had a great Thanksgiving dinner at the house one of the families in Susan's home group.  I was having so much fun, I didn't take any pictures!

We spent Friday in New York.

The Kenneys in Central Park!

On the steps of the Met

At the Top of the Standard at the Standard Hotel.  I highly recommend this, if you are in New York.  If you get there at 4pm you can get a table by the window and watch the sunset.  It was my favorite part of our trip.

Beautiful sunset over Jersey

New York!

After this we met up with Caroline's friend, Dave, from Wheaton.  We at Korean BBQ and it was amaazzing.  It just fueled my obsession with all things Korean.

The drive home...

As soon as we got home, I forced Curt to help me decorate for Christmas.  My favorite!!

He got down under the tree and asked me to take this picture to show how hard he was working :)
 Happy Thanksgiving!