Life with Coco and Gigi... and Jack-Jack too!

Life as a Mom, A Homesteader, A Blogger and A Wife.

Lettuce Wraps

It's been a while since I posted a recipe but I have been working on one for a while now and wanted to share. One of my absolute favorite splurges is PF Chang's Lettuce Wrap. They are by no means a health food, but they are fairly low in carbs which is what I watch the most for myself. I have been tweaking this recipe and trying to get it just right and I am SO CLOSE!

Copy Cat Lettuce Wraps

  • 11/2 TB Olive Oil (separated)
  • 1 Pound Ground Chicken
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • Half of a large onion, diced fine
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 TB soy sauce
  • 1 TB rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 8-oz can of water chestnuts, diced
  • Lettuce leaves, I used a head of Bib Lettuce
  1. Heat large pan to medium high heat and add 1TB olive oil. Cook the ground chicken until completely browned. Make sure to crumble the chicken as fine as you can. 
  2. Drain any fat from the cooking. 
  3. Add 1/2 TB olive oil and add the onion and garlic. Cook 3 minutes, then add back the ground chicken. Lower heat to medium and add the remaining ingredients. Cook about 2-3 minutes until well combined. 
  4. Serve on lettuce leaves and wrap like a taco!
One of the great things about this recipe is it is dairy, egg, gluten and nut free! Here is my issue (and I am welcoming suggestions)... it is lacking a hint of sweetness. I've tried a few things but nothing seems to add the sweet undertone and keep the asian flavor profile.  Suggestions?!?

I also wanted to note that I bought Kikkoman Soy Sauce, Hoisin, Rice Wine Vinegar and water chestnuts and all were gluten free. I like to have a go-to gluten free meal for when friends with allergies come to visit. This could be a a meal or a snack! I was very impressed with the Kikkoman brand and the quality of the ingredients. 

Have You Ever Read It All? You Should!

One of the greatest losses I believe we ever experienced as a nation was the loss of Dr. King. I often wonder how different our world would be had he lived to be 90 years old. I know it would be a better place. 

Martin Luther King, Jr.
I Have a Dream
delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

                Free at last! Free at last!
                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!3

¹ Amos 5:24 (rendered precisely in The American Standard Version of the Holy Bible)
2 Isaiah 40:4-5 (King James Version of the Holy Bible). Quotation marks are excluded from part of this moment in the text because King's rendering of Isaiah 40:4 does not precisely follow the KJV version from which he quotes (e.g., "hill" and "mountain" are reversed in the KJV). King's rendering of Isaiah 40:5, however, is precisely quoted from the KJV.


Every time I click on my bookmark to come write a blog post I get overwhelmed. It's like a dusty fan that is out of reach and in order to clean it you need to spread a sheet, climb a step ladder and cover your face. Okay, so maybe not quite that dramatic but the more time that lags in between posts, the more disconnected I feel with what to write.

I am now writing almost full time. When you add in my teaching job I am just about out of things to say by the end of the day. It's not that there are not a million blog-worthy things going on in our life. Life hasn't slowed one bit.

The girls have joined a Brownie Troup. Grace is playing basketball AND in a private Lacrosse club (turns out she is REALLY good at Lacrosse). Jack has gone from baby to full grown boy in what seems like overnight. Both girls are excelling in school.

Abby has had a little acceleration in some of her vestibular and sensory issues. There has been a ton of flapping, spinning and head rolling. It's the winter and although its been mild so far Grace's ADHD is in full tilt. She is wild some days. We're trying to keep her active but it isn't always easy.

It's a new year and I wish I had some dramatic resolutions, but I find those get lost within a week for me. So we're trying to keep it simple. Take better care of our bodies and minds, devote more time as a family and stay focused on what is important.

I wish you all a blessing filled, wonderful 2015.


It's that time of year again. Time for rushing and bustle and the hectic days. We made a conscious decision that our December would be one of purpose and thought. Our holiday this year will be overshadowed by the loss of my aunt to cancer and the final chapter of my grandfathers life. Dealing with loss, end of life issues and grieving at the holiday is sad. No one wants to go through loss and really no one wants to go through it at the holidays.

I'm trying to take something more away from the grieving process. I have a feeling that if I asked either of my family members what piece of advice they would give me it would sound something like "enjoy your family", "spend more time with the people you love" or "slow down and enjoy life." So that is my goal for this holy season.

I want to wake up every day and instead of thinking of how much I have to get done, I want to think of ways to enjoy my children, my husband, my family and my friends. When my live draws to a close I sincerely doubt I will be looking back on the Christmas cookies that did not get baked or the half-done wrapping job. I will remember the time spent with the people I love.

I wish you all a family filled, peaceful and purposeful December!

On the mend

It has been an unfortunately long few weeks in our house. When the leaves start to fall the noses in our house start to run. Little lungs start to cough and wheeze and the allergy medicine comes out. All of us are allergic to something and mold is at the top of the list. Just about the time that the allergies kicked up we all caught colds. The kids had a small cold that lasted just a couple days. I, on the other hand, coughed… for three long weeks. I slurped my halls and drank lots of water and gutted it out. It was not fun but it finally passed.

Then, after just a few days of feeling better, the cough came back, worse than ever. It started last Thursday as a little hack and by Friday I felt off. I let my Mom talk me into going to the Minute Clinic where I was diagnosed with a sinus infection and bronchitis. I was unaware I was running a 100 degree fever but the diagnosis seemed fine to me. I got a mild antibiotic, an inhaler and some cough suppressant tabs. The Nurse Practitioners final words on my way out was that were were "doing everything possible, so if I did't feel better I would have to wait it out at home." I went home, did my usual routine but the cough got worse.

Saturday left me feeling feverish and feeling pretty awful. I couldn't stop the cough. I wasn't eating, sleeping or getting any rest. Then came Sunday and I could barely get out of bed. The fever was up to almost 102. So despite the NP's advice we went to urgent care. The Nurse Practitioner there rolled her eyes at the medicines I was prescribed saying they were totally inappropriate. They gave me a breathing treatment while they assessed me. She confirmed the sinusitis and bronchitis but she felt like something else was not right. They did a chest x-ray and found pneumonia. Good thing we didn't listen to the 1st opinion.

So now I am on a much stronger antibiotic, an expectorate, inhaler, prednisone and OTC cough syrup. I am still on the mend but feeling wiped out and short of breath. It's amazing how much pneumonia can take it out of you. You hear people having it all the time and don't think much of it.

I write in part to remind all of us "doctor avoiders" that sometimes we need to follow our gut. When something feels off, it probably is. Glad I let family "strong arm" me into asking for help.


When I had the girls I vowed not to turn into an overscheduler. We live in the suburbs of Philadelphia and it seems like East Coasters feel the need to keep busy at every waking moment. I am an Easterner by birth but sometimes it seems like a little too much. So, as the girls have gotten older, we have put them in classes and activities and sports. It was gradual but some days I take a step back, look at our calendar and question if I turned into what I had wanted to avoid. The over scheduling Mom who needs to fill their every moment.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of sports and activities. I love that we can provide these things for our children. A very good friend of mine reminded me how important and valuable these things are to a child. She herself was not given the privilege and I know that was a disappointment for her. I just have to ask myself how much is too much?

Our original rule was one activity per "season". But then we added religious formation classes, a Lacrosse training program for Grace, Lego club after school, Brownies, basketball starting soon, classes at the library and on and on. I feel like I have to watch carefully and keep a finger on the pulse at all times. With school and homework and sports and activities kids don't have enough unscheduled play time. Time to think and create. Time to use their little imaginations. Isn't it my responsibility that they get to feed their minds in every way. I originally thought they would tell me when enough is enough but they don't. Their little brains want more and more every day. They crave business.

It's all part of the tight rope we walk as parents. We want to give them everything they need but also have to know when enough is enough. I am sure that I fail the tight rope test at least ten times a day. However, I am thankful it doesn't mean I have leave the circus. (And trust me, I am living in one big circus!)

An Oldy, but a goody

My Mom and Dad are in the long-avoided task of going through their attic. Inside those angled walls are years and years and years of memories (and dust). While they have the calamity of deciding what stays and goes I am reaping the benefit. I received an old box of letters and memories. Inside was an old birthday card with money STILL INSIDE! I also found my old "letters" from high school softball (the patches that go on a letterman jacket), my middle school glasses (epic!), some old baseball and football cards and my membership to the art museum (I loves it there in high school and college).

Aside from all the wonderful memories that can up with the dust, my kids are also benefiting. Some of the old toys that were hand made for my siblings and I as youngsters (by my Dad and Pop-Pop) are being reborn. In a world where kids have ipads and cell phones I was astonished that an old dusty hand built and painted castle/fortress would bring all three of them to the floor. The same castle I played with alongside my brother has been given new life.

It amazes me that my kids are as interested in learning from my history and memories as their own. It's all part of their story.

**Reminder - Go get those old albums out. It will keep them busy for HOURS!

So different

Recently I was weather treating all of the fall shoes and it occurred to me that it was a physical manifestation of just how different my twins are. Same womb. Same environment. And yet they could not be more different. 

It's not just how they dress or what colors they choose, it's how they experience the world. 

One is fearless and bold. One is more timid and cautious. (And I bet you don't know which is which.) One takes on ever moment with a smile and a laugh while the other has to think first. One loves nothing more than to run and leap and climb. While the other would prefer to read and watch. 

It's an amazing experience watching their personalities develop into the people they will be. The uniqueness of THEM is often highlighted by the comparison between them. I hear all the time that people has wished for twins. I usually jokingly say "no you didn't" but in reality I know just how lucky I am. 

What passes for normal in my house

Sometimes I look around and I am shocked by the level of weirdness that has taken over my house. It is not uncommon to cook dinner while wearing a super hero mask. 

It's normal to find the dog dressed as Thor. 

When I turn around I rarely see my little boy, instead I see Captain America. 

Or Iron Man. 

He even accompanies me on my morning walks. 

With a sword in hand to ward off Bad Guys. 

And we wonder where it comes from???

Helmets are optional but common. 

Just in case I guess. 

Not sure when my life got so weird but I have a sneaking suspicion it has to do with the males in it. 

And when he isn't a super hero or a crack test dummy, he sometimes can be spotted as a garden gnome. 


I'm not sure if this is a regional thing or not but here in NJ there are several opportunities to go to Touch-A-Truck shows. Kids can sit in, touch, climb on and get close to a bunch of different kinds of cars, trucks and vehicles. We have been once before and the girls loved it but we thought Jack would have a blast.

I think Daddy might have enjoyed it as much as the littles. 

Grace of, course has not met a wall she didn't feel compelled to climb. 



About this blog

Over 8 years we have struggled through 3 IUI's, 6 rounds of IVF, several RE's, hundreds of appointments and the loss of three little angels. Now we find ourselves the proud parents of two perfect little girls and a wonderful little boy!!

Both of our girls struggle with some disabilities but that won't keep us down. Each day has it's own brand of insanity but we love it. Most days I am more monkey wrangler than mother but I do the best I can. Todays goal - getting to tomorrow.

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