Friday, May 28, 2010

Checking things off

scroll to bottom of post for chicken and rice/Jewish penicillin recipe

I am at home with Steven, and I feel like making a "jail break". LOL. His recovery is coming along, but it is much like a roller coaster. One minute he is up, then he is in bed with a 102.5 fever. He is not giving me too much grief over having his food pureed. I feel like I'm having a flashback to when he was a baby, and I pureed everything! He is being a good sport about it. I call him my brave little trooper. Although, he is only eating a few bites, because it makes him cry to swallow it. He says it really hurts, so I don't push. At least I feel good about the bites he does take. I've been reading Narnia to him, and we love the quiet time together. I haven't read to him in forever. Ever since he started reading on his own, he does just that! He reads at "lights on" time every night before bed. I still read with Amanda Lily, because she needs some help, but not him. He's not felt well enough to read, so I've been reading to him.
We made it through 2 birthday parties, a ballet recital weekend, and now Steven's surgery. I feel like I am just checking things off my "to do" list, and it sure feels good. We had been planning our big double bday party for Memorial Day, but I had to cancel because Steven is not allowed to swim for two weeks. I'm not sure if we will even be able to make it happen at all this year.
Next up is packing for Greece. Yes, we are taking the trip on June 21st. (Like 3 weeks) I am super excited to spend a month there with friends and family. My Dad in Law is already at our house in Greece making sure everything is in place, and the house is ready for our arrival. What will make this years trip extra special, is that our first cousin is getting married! I met her over 14 years ago on my first visit to Greece. She was just a little girl then, and we bonded big time. She and a couple of the other girl cousins actually are the ones who taught me all the Greek dances. I am super super excited to spend this special time with our family. She is the first of the cousins to get married, (besides George and his brother), and our whole HUGE Greek family is all abuzz. Even more fun is that Steven and Amanda Lily are in the wedding! I can't wait for that reception. We will be dancing until the sun comes up, I'm sure. I could get emotional just thinking about it. I'm sure I'll cry at the sight of her in her gown. Her Grooms name is George, so I am so happy for her. I know she will have a life full of love and passion and just goes with the name Right?

I watched Jeanne on Wheel of Fortune last night. She did AWESOME! She won some cool stuff in a 30 min time frame. I am so happy for her.

I've been in the kitchen a lot since being home with Steven. My Sister in Law gave me this awesome recipe chocked full of nutrition to help Steven heal. If you have a sick one, I highly recommend this. I tweaked it a little for my family, and you can do the same.

Jewish Penicillin
Boil a whole chicken for an hour. Skim off white foam that rises to the surface. Add water as needed. I use a Greenwise Chicken from Publix.
While chicken is boiling, chop:
1 lg sweet onion
1 bunch celery
3 parsnips

Remove chicken, completely debone and return chicken pieces to broth. Add chopped veggies, and one bag greenwise baby carrots, and one bag frozen corn.
Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 cups Jasmine Rice. Let simmer, stirring every now and then, until rice has absorbed broth.
*This ends up being "Chicken and Rice" If you want more of a soup texture, use only 1 cup of Jasmine Rice. would LOVE this!!!! Try it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Steven is home....YEA

So, just a quick note to let everyone know that Steven is home tonight, and resting. The procedure went great, but we are in for a 7 - 10 day recovery time. The Doctor explained to me that the older the child, the longer the recovery. Also, that he had a current sinus infection and infection in his tonsils!
Anyhow, he did not do well with the anesthesia. He threw up.....a lot. I don't mind at all. I am just so relieved that he woke up!
Thank you Lord.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pray for Peace

Hello all. I really struggled with if I should post this, but I've decided that because I believe in the power of prayer, I would.
I am freaking out! Steven is having his tonsils and adenoids removed tomorrow. He has been sick with Strep over 9 times this year alone, and has missed more days of school over being sick with whatever bug is going around at any given moment. He is always hacking and coughing, and our Pediatrician recommended we take his tonsils. I am NOT one to make this decision litely, because it pains me to even crack open a bottle of dye free tylenol to give my kids, much less send them into surgery to remove a body part. So, we traveled to Orlando for a second opinion. We have the best of the best doing the procedure. She is a Harvard educated MD who specializes in Children's ENT at Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital. I have prayed about it, and educated myself about the procedure, and all the after care stuff. I am at peace with the decision, but not with the process. The surgery is tomorrow morning at 9:45 am. Honestly, I am scared to death of the idea of him being intabated (having a tube down his throat to breathe for him), and put under anesthesia. This is a routine procedure, and it is done everyday by ENT's across the country, but somehow, I am still freaking out today. Crazy thoughts are crossing my mind. I am not one to be cool as a cucumber, ever, so I guess I should have known that as time grows closer, I would get this way. Maybe it is just the Mom in me. I keep trying to remind myself that he will have a much better quality of life after the "diseased tonsils" are removed. Please just say a prayer for Steven. Pray that God will send angels to guard him. Ask God to help me not to worry. I need to be calm, and not rub off on Steven. I'll catch up with you all in a couple of days to let you know how things are going. I'll be doing lots of blogging I'm sure, as he will be out of school for 7-10 days for recovery. Thanks in advance for your prayers. I just need to pull it together!


One of Steven's favorite historical events, is the Titanic disaster. He started coming home with books from the school library about Titanic a couple of months back. After reading all our little library had to offer, he talked our school Librarian into buying new books on Titanic for the library when the book fair was at school! He's such a charmer. Anyhow, we bought the Discovery Channel's documentary that Robert Ballard did, and he watches them repeatedly. I thought it would be fun to surprise him on the Monday before his surgery, and take him and his best friend Benjamin to the Titanic Experience, in Orlando. It ended up being super fun for the kids. After the 1 1/2 hour tour, we went to dinner at Texas De Brazil. Honestly, I wasn't super impressed with the food, but the boys sure were. Don't get me was good, but for the price I could have had a Charlie's steak. I think my taste buds have just grown accustomed to Charlies. The experience was more what we paid for, and that was priceless. Watching those two with the way the meat was served was so fun. Oh, and not to mention when we ordered 4 desserts, and passed them around the table. The boys really really loved that part. I thought the Key Lime pie was out of this world. We made a big night of it. It was Steven's "last supper" before having to fast for anesthesia for his tonsillectomy and adnoidectomy. We are in for a long couple of weeks!

Invited you are, to a Star Wars party!

Steven is now 8 years old! His party with his school friends was lots of fun for everyone. He is obsessed with Star Wars, just as most little boys his age. Don't worry, he still loves his trains, and we still chase them all over. The Star Wars theme was a welcome relief, and I was thrilled with the idea of doing something different. The kids enjoyed water blasters, pin the tail on the star ship, and each got a light saber to swing at a Darth Vader pinata. I found these awesome clone baskets at Target after Easter for 90% off! That means, they were only $1 each. I was so happy with that find. The kids all put their candy from the pinata in them. A big hit was the "Yoda Soda". I put lime sherbert in a cup, and poured sprite over it. It foamed up, and the kids loved it! Just like Amanda Lily's party, the pool was the main event. I did put up the family water slide for Steven's, so everyone splashed around on that as well. It was a great day! My favorite part of the day was when the doorbell rang, and Steven opened it to both his English and Spanish Teachers! Even his Teacher from 1st grade came! He was so happy to see them. I tell you, education is one of my top priorities with my kids, and I couldn't ask for better Teachers than we have over here at Eustis Elementary. I just can't say enough good about them. They love my children as their own, and they prove it by their actions all the time. It makes me feel good to send them everyday. Anyhow...hope all is well in your worlds. I can't believe my son is 8!!!!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Happy 8th Birthday Steven!

Today is my sweet boys 8th birthday. Here is a sneak photo from his party. I'll post about it another time.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tiny Dancer

scroll to bottom of post for baked french toast recipe

Amanda Lily's Ballet recital was on her birthday this year. She was such a sweet tiny dancer, and did sooooooo great on stage. It was held at Lake Sumter Community College, and it was a packed house both Saturday and Sunday. She had a special part in the dance, but we weren't allowed to take flash photos, so I have no pics of it. I do have a great video though. If I figure out how to get it onto my blog, I'll update this post later. The photos here are of her during dress rehearsal, and then after the Sunday performance. She had friends and family come to support her. Nana even was in town from Georgia! We all were so proud of her, but I think George was the most proud. They have such a special relationship, and it fills my heart to watch. He picked up her roses from the flower shop, and was happy to present them to her after the show. Aunt Heather and Sophie and close friends Heather and Mia also brought her flowers. She LOVES them!!! When the performance was over, Steven gave her a big hug and said "Amanda Lily, you're a STAR!!!!" AWWWW.

After the show, we had Heather and Mia over for a little Ballerina Birthday dinner. When I asked Amanda Lily what she wanted me to make, she said "breakfast". So, I did a brunch type menu. We had baked french toast with pineapple cream cheese and a breakfast casserole. Also, her biggest request....cheese grits and fresh fruit! The breakfast casserole and french toast were make ahead items, so when we got home for dinner, all I did was pop them in the oven, and we were all set. I'll include the recipe for the French Toast. It was delicious, and EASY! I dressed the table up with pink tulle, white candles, and roses.
Now, I'm changing gears and getting ready for Steven's birthday party with his school friends that is coming this weekend!!!! The following weekend will be a double family party. Am I out of my mind? Maybe. But, I hate the idea of them missing out on their own special birthday parties just because they were born a week apart. My brother and I were born only 10 days apart, and Mom always had separate parties for us. I always remember being glad that she did.

Pineapple Cream Cheese French Toast

Sliced Sourdough Bread
8 oz container Cream Cheese with Pineapple
4 eggs
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 lbs strawberries

Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Line the dish with sourdough bread and spread cream cheese on bread. Top with remaining bread slices. Beat eggs in mixing bowl, and add milk, 1/4 cup sugar, and cinnamon and salt. Beat well, then pour egg mixture over sandwiches. Leave the casserole dish at room temperature for 5 minutes, then turn the sandwiches over. Cover, and refrigerate overnight. Chop 1 lb of strawberries, and toss with 1/2 cup of left over sugar. Refrigerate overnight.

To prepare french toast, uncover and bake in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Meanwhile, chop the remaining strawberries and add them to the chilled strawberry mixture. Mix lightly and serve alongside french toast with syrup. YUM!!!!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Amanda Lily's Mermaid Party

Now you see them..........

Now you don't!!!!!

This past weekend was Amanda Lily's Bday Party. Here are a few pictures from the day.I made Mermaid Punch (blue gatorade), and we had PB & J in the shape of Fish and Starfish. Also, Goldfish crackers, fruit, and chocolate covered strawberries.

So, it is birthday season here in the Kountanis family, and I need to get in a post. I have so much that I feel like I have'nt posted yet, and much more coming as the month flies by.This year's plan is to have two individual parties with friends, then one big double party with family. This way, I don't end up with 100 people at my house at one time! The kids birthdays being only a week apart can really turn up the stress level for me. I LOVE entertaining. I LOVE having parties, and planning from beginning to end.I'm not so sure how much I love doing them only a week apart though!!!!

Anyhow, Amanda Lily's Birthday is this Sunday, the 16th. However, we pushed her party back to last weekend because she has her ballet recital this Saturday and Sunday (15th and 16th).

She wanted to have a Mermaid Party, but she was very specific.....NOT LITTLE MERMAID, MOM!!! So, this is what she got. The pool was the perfect entertainment. Everyone loved swimming. We had some mermaid dancing and bubbles, but mostly swimming.

I made her cupcakes myself, and found these adorable mermaid toppers online. ( I was so happy with the look. Most of the decor was seashells, and mermaid jewels. I don't have a picture of the favors I made, but they were cute. I put sand in a small glass jar with white glitter and a few tiny seashells. I sealed it with hot glue and a cork, then topped it with a small seashell.I wrapped a rafia ribbon around it and wrote "Magic Sea Dust" as the message. Amanda Lily told all of her friends that they could shake the bottle, and wish to become a mermaid, and that if they were at the ocean, they would transform!!! (Such innocence)

Nana made these adorable mermaid tails for each girl, along with flower headbands, and bracelets. These were a big hit!! I got most of my ideas from the super talented Amy, at Check it out!
What cute little mermaids, huh??

Monday, May 3, 2010

Strawberry Picking

George and I took Amanda Lily out to the strawberry farm to pick. The day couldn't have been more beautiful. We picked down our row, then she took a swing on the tire swing and zip line. You can see from her face how much she enjoyed this one on one time. The next day, she and I came home and made Strawberry Jam for all of our favorite Teachers, then sent it to school as a special treat for them. Of course, Papou' got his own jar of jam, and we kept some for our toast at home. If you are interested in the recipe, click on the link under "From My Kitchen". This is a yummy tradition that we have kept for the last couple of years.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Happy 30th Birthday Nouno!

Amanda Lily's Greek Godfather celebrated a big birthday this year. His Mom called us to ask if we could make the trip over to their home in New Smyrna to attend the surprise party. We were so happy to do it. This was back on May 2nd, but being that I am home with Steven making his recovery, I figured, I could catch up on things I've been meaning to blog. Their home is gorgeous, and behind it, they have a working farm. One of the Lambs had just had babies, and had rejected two of them. So, they were keeping them and caring for them. They let Steven and Amanda Lily bottle feed them, and play around the house with them. They were ADORABLE. Oh my goodness....I wanted to bring one home. They had such personalities.
Notice the Dorothy get up Amanda Lily was wearing. Thank goodness that they went swimming, because afterwards, I convinced her to put on her real clothes before the other party guests arrived. She was all about wearing her wizard of oz costume, and having "Breena", her doll, wear the matching one. Thank you Nana for making these creations. They couldn't make a little girl happier!

Amanda Lily got to help present Demo (Godfather) with his cake. That is a Greek tradition. She really loves him so much. It was a fun filled night with lots of delicious food and family.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Spring Break on the Mountain Top

This year, we went back up to the mountains with the Buffkin family. We had a wonderful, relaxing time. Trish's parent's, Carl and Patsy, were our hosts, and they were awesome. My favorite part of the trip was our girls only trip to The Biltmore. Trish, Ms. Patsy, Amanda Lily, and I had a wonderful lunch at a tea room. At Biltmore, Amanda Lily was in awwwww. We went from room to room, and she listened to her headset with interest. She loved the idea that we were in a real castle.

Back on the mountain top,we went on nature hikes, rode four wheelers, and learned how to build a fire out of nothing but sticks! We all took turns shooting our guns. George wanted me to practice with mine, and it was a good thing, because I kept jamming it. Now we know that I actually do better with the bigger one!

Trish and I shared the cooking duties, and I really enjoyed my time in the kitchen with her. She and I are cut of the same cloth as they say, and we are definitely in our element in the kitchen together. Add a martini to the mix, and it's a PARTY. Ha!

Another highlight was Easter Sunday. It was so laid back, and enjoyable. The morning started with Easter baskets for the kiddos. We all were dressed and at church early enough to enjoy breakfast made by the locals. This is quite a feat being that we had 5 children under 8 to get together. The church we attended is Trish's parents church when they are on the Mountain. It was very small, no, I meant very very very small. There were maybe 10 others in attendance besides our crew. I somehow got wrangled into singing a duet with Mr. Carl (Trish's Dad) in church that morning. We sang acappello because the pianist couldn't transpose the song to the key we wanted it in. I was so happy that I sang though. It made for another great memory. I recall there being one moment in church that morning when I became a little overcome with emotion. The Minister lead the congregation in an old hymn, and it really touched me, because I thought of Nannie. I thought of it being her first Easter in Heaven, and I wondered if she was singing up there. I could'nt keep the tears from coming down my face. George slipped his arm around me, because he knew what I was thinking without my even telling him.

After church, we all went back up the mountain for an Easter Egg Hunt, and a late lunch. George and I made Lamb (Greek Style) on the spit. I was so happy with how it turned out. Delicious!The kids had a fun time hunting eggs on the sloping front lawn. I caught Steven in a sweet moment. Amanda Lily was upset because she didn't have many eggs in her basket. So, he split his with her, and counted them so that they would each have the same amount. Such a good heart that boy.
It was a wonderful getaway. The only negative thing that happened was Amanda Lily throwing up what seemed like a gazillion times from being car sick. I felt so bad for her. Next time, we will fly.