Thanksgiving’s Best Dressing

25Nov2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog, Kari's Kitchen

I’m pausing from cooking to make a blog post because I always have the darnedest time trying to find my favorite recipes, and I need something saved online. Not only on my blog, but something I can pin to Pinterest.

So, I give you Alice’s Dressing, which has become my dressing, with a few tweaks that I’ll share below.

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It’s just so good, y’all.

Thankfully, my husband took pics of this recipe card a few years ago, because it’s mysteriously disappeared from my cookbook and I almost thought the computer file containing this pic had been lost, too. It’s the ONE thing that everyone longs for every November in my house, and it would be a tragedy if we lost it. And despite eating it nearly every year of my life, and making it for the past 20 years, I still forget the proportions every single year!

I double it, because leftovers are so good. Here’s my doubled-n-tweaked ingredient list:

  • 12 cornbread muffins
  • 12 buttermilk biscuits
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Nature’s Seasons seasoned salt
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 sticks melted butter
  • 1 32-oz. box chicken broth

I still pour it into a 9×13 pan and bake it for a good hour or so at 350.

YUM! Hopefully it’s not too late to add it to your Thanksgiving table. You really need to bake the breads a day ahead so they have time to dry out. I’ve been known to buy them from Cracker Barrel when time is running short.


A Glimpse Inside His Mind

22Nov2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

Parenting a child on the autism spectrum can feel isolating at times.

I wish that other people would understand why my son does the things he does, but a lot of the time, I’m trying to figure it out myself. Or I’m trying to help teachers and friends and relatives understand how he’s different, and why.

I wish they’d try to understand instead of just judging on the surface the behaviors they deem not normal.

I saw this over the weekend and it brought tears to my eyes.


I feel pretty weak most of the time.

But I have to be strong for him. I can’t stop trying to make others understand. I assumed that public school teachers and administrators would have a good understanding of the autistic child, but mine is high-functioning enough that, so far, they blow off my concerns.

Even after an unfortunate event related to too much pressure over a reading test (he’s in kindergarten, mind you), I was told that it was a shame that he was already afraid of being challenged.

I wish I was the kind of person who can think of a comeback in a moment, but I usually think of something good to say about three days later. What I wish I would’ve said–and what I will say in our conference–is this: You don’t understand that he challenges HIMSELF far more than you could ever think of doing.

He has been obsessed over this whole AR reading thing. We hear about it constantly at home. He is worried about disappointing everyone at school–his teacher, the librarian, the principal. We reassure him that as long as he tries and does his best, the numerical grade doesn’t matter.

But he’s all about the numbers. He can name his classmates’ AR scores, who has earned which charm for their AR necklaces, what colors the charms are, how many each has. He’s constantly analyzing things. Tonight, The Wizard of Oz was on and after dozens of questions about the storm, and the characters, and what part was a dream and what was real, and how it must be real because he saw the house fall out of the sky, and where were the parents of all those little people…he eventually stopped trying to make it make sense to him.

“I’ve never seen a story like this before!” and he zoomed off on the toy tractor he likes to ride around the house.

But back to the AR reading tests. It’s like in the graphic above, he tells me that loud noises make him forget things. Even with headphones on, he says all the sounds in the room keep him from thinking about what he’s trying to read and answer. He gets so distracted, he can’t remember what he read.

He reads several years ahead of his grade level, and thinks deeply about things. He remembers stuff that no one else recalls. But he can’t pass a kindergarten-level AR test? That tells me more about the environment he’s trying to work in than about how well he comprehends language.

Speaking of his use of language…he gave me this letter tonight:


It says, “Bad idea! The attic door won’t close all the way with the ladder. I’m not kidding! Uh oh! I’m scared. I’m really scared!”

He says “Bad idea” when something worries him. He and his dad went up into the attic yesterday to bring down some bins containing my Thanksgiving dishes and decorations. The attic door didn’t close back tightly. There is maybe a 1/3″ gap at its edge.

I asked him why he felt scared about that, and he said it was because it could fall open in the night and the ladder would break off and it would wake everyone up and make the house fall apart! I reassured him that it was closed well enough, that springs held it shut, and that we’d get dad to check it in the morning.

Before he could go to bed, he had to fold up that letter, put it in an an envelope and leave it for his dad to find when he wakes up tomorrow. Because Dad had to know that there was this danger in the house.

What kid obsesses over an attic door not shutting completely? Or if they’re scared of the crack, you’d expect the reason to be based a bit more in the imagination. At age six, I’d have been scared that spiders, or a mouse, or even a monster might slip out of the opening in the night. But Jonah, he sees the house literally crashing apart because of this unattended detail.

He’s asleep now, so I guess I was able to get his mind calmed for a while. I laid beside him and we prayed, and talked and watched an episode of “Good Eats”. (He is Alton Brown’s biggest fan.)

But my stomach still hurts because his tension becomes my tension, and he’s still so little. I read and study and educate myself as best as I can since his diagnosis, but honestly. Who can really make sense of the paradox of a brilliant, anxious, old mind housed inside a wide-eyed, six year old boy?

I guess for the most part, I don’t expect anyone else to understand what I myself struggle to figure out. But I blogged about it anyway because I feel like offering glimpses inside his mind is one way I can be his brave, be his cheerleader. Because despite the struggles, he truly is one awesome little guy.


Look Good for You? No Thanks.

18Nov2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

I Googled, and was surprised that I couldn’t find another mom blogger venting about this stupid, stupid song!

What is up with that, Moms?

I’m not even going to link it, but it’s called “Look Good for You” by Selena Gomez.

Any time I hear it, my brain melts into a puddle of lava that my rising blood pressure spews angrily out of my ears. I let my 14-year-old daughter (who sadly, loves Gomez) listen to it once or twice in the car, and then I put my foot down. No. Never again.

Here’s a sampling of the lyrics that set me off:

“Gonna wear that dress you like, skin-tight
Do my hair up real, real nice
And syncopate my skin to how you’re breathing.

Cause I just wanna look good for you, good for you, uh-huh
I just wanna look good for you, good for you, uh-huh
Let me show you how proud I am to be yours
Leave this dress a mess on the floor
And still look good for you, good for you, uh-huh, uh-huh”


Great. Now I have to go blot some lava off the keyboard just for cutting and pasting those ridiculous words on my precious blog.

I won’t even harp on the fact that this is probably the stupidest use of the word “syncopate” ever, because the whole premise of the song is so revolting to me:

I just want to look good for my man. I want to be this “14 karat, Tiffany diamond” hanging off his arm so that he looks good. So that his pathetic self-esteem can be heightened by my lovely presence. My purpose in life is to be his living Barbie doll that he can show off to impress his friends, and later, to peel my skin-tight dress off when he wants me to, so he can use me further.

Give me a break! Is this a message we want our daughters internalizing? That their worth is based on a man’s opinion of their appearance?

Listen girls: a real man will appreciate who you are inside.


If he can’t, if he doesn’t, he isn’t the one, and he certainly isn’t worth a moment of your time. End of story. Period. Full stop.

It makes me mad that a woman is singing this. A young woman who has millions of younger women idolizing her and hanging on her every word. And this is what she does with the responsibility of that innocent following, seducing them into believing that their primary purpose is to be a man’s lovely possession?


Thanks, Selena. Because it isn’t like our daughters aren’t already assaulted all day, every day with false images of beauty that they’ll never measure up to.

My daughter is naturally beautiful. Strikingly so. So much that people can’t help commenting on it. Even tiny babies are drawn to her face. It glows with beauty.

And it scares the hell out of me how pretty she is. Because she doesn’t see it. But I see the glances from young men, and older ones who should be ashamed of themselves for looking. I see how often she seeks validation through taking hundreds of superfluous selfies, how she begs me to never post a pic of her that she doesn’t deem perfect, how we battle when I’m driving over keeping her car visor mirror flipped up (me) or down (her), so she can see her reflection at will.  I know that seeking validation of appearance is nothing new for girls, but sometimes it feels extreme, the extent to which girls seek that validation today.

We’ve talked about it, probably more than she wanted to hear. I don’t know if she hears me over the din, but I compliment her soul. Her intelligence. Yes, sometimes her appearance. I tell her how I spent my adolescence resorting to bulimic behavior to keep my weight at 125 pounds, how it took me two and a half hours to get ready every morning, how I hid my sense of humor around boys because someone told me that it was important to always let the guy be the funny one in the relationship.

No. Just, NO. Don’t change your already wonderful self to meet some false expectation of others. Be who God made you to be. Let His amazing creation shine by being your natural YOU. Don’t be ashamed of any part of your story or past that made you into who you are, because every chapter, every sentence was written into your life for a reason and can be redeemed to make you into the person God needs you to be.


Does my daughter hear me? I don’t know.

But I know that at least in my house, in my car, she isn’t hearing Selena’s perversion of the truth.


National Adoption Month: Aging Out

11Nov2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

I just watched this video, and I hope you will, too.

And then join me in praying for forgiveness.

We have no excuses, y’all.

Usually I’m preaching at the church, because as a Christian, I believe that if the church were living the way Jesus told us to, things like foster care systems wouldn’t need to exist. If we stepped up and did what He told us to, I wouldn’t be writing this post.

But today? I’m preaching at just about every American. Because there is no excuse that in a country as rich as ours, there are this many children aging out of foster care. Or even in foster care to begin with!

Older child adoption isn’t for everyone, and some will say I have no right to comment on domestic adoption because I haven’t done it yet. But we have adopted a 12-year-old from another country and I am here to tell you: this girl is a blessing to everyone who knows her.

And your blessing might be out there praying for a mom or dad like you, right now, as I type.

But no, we’re Americans. We’re too busy chasing that dream, working hard, making that money. We’re too busy creating controversies over silly red cups and arguing about politics and whining because someone hurt our precious wittle fee-fees by not agreeing with us.

It crushes my heart that there are kids tonight going to bed in a hotel room with a social worker, or on the floor of a government office, or ON THE STREET, because there aren’t enough families willing to make the sacrifice of saying “yes” to these kids. And by kids, I mean every age under 21.

I have three teenagers at home and I can assure you — not one is ready to live on his or her own, (even though they probably would disagree with me on that). The thought of even one of them being homeless crushes me. In so many ways, they are still children.

Isn’t it ironic? My eldest, like so many his age, simply cannot wait to finish with high school and move out. He would go today, if he legally could. He doesn’t begin to realize that it’s really a luxury to have a loving family to leave behind. Ask Dominique, Mia and Aaron if they’d be rushing out the door if they had a family that loved them, that welcomed them. I get that kids are supposed to grow out of their need for us, and that’s fine. But some kids take the rejecting of their family too far, and never stop to think that there are thousands of kids who would trade places with them in a heartbeat. Older foster kids know, all too painfully, that you never outgrow your need for a family. Ever.

I’m just going to close with this, because I’m all emotional and broken up over this tonight. If you’ve ever felt that nudge that maybe you should adopt, that maybe you could be a foster parent, follow that nudge. Look into it. Find out what’s really involved and seriously consider turning that nudge into a reality.

Because I don’t know about you, but I am ashamed that my country, a nation with this many resources, refuses to do what it takes to keep kids from aging out of foster care alone.


Secret Sister Gift Exchange Motive Revealed

8Nov2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

Last week, I did something for the first time ever.

I signed up for the now-infamous secret sister gift exchange that was popping up all over Facebook.

It wasn’t long before articles started appearing, like this and this, explaining why such a scheme was wrong, or even illegal. And it made me feel kind of embarrassed for jumping on the bandwagon so fast. Because I’d always ignored requests to participate in things like that in the past. I’ve seen them for everything from recipes to books. I even remember back when typed or handwritten letters were sent via actual snail-mail. I never forwarded those, either.

So, what about this made me share? Why did I say, “Sure, why not?” when my only response in the past has ever been, “Thanks, but no thanks”?

I imagine my reasons are the same as most women who wanted to join in.

I just wanted something to be about me, for me…for a change.

I wanted somebody putting something back into me, even if it was just a little $10 gift.

I wanted the delight of opening up the mailbox and finding something other than bills and junk mail inside. Something with my name on it. A box whose contents would be a surprise, that might actually reflect my own likes and preferences.

Something that a friend-of-a-friend took the time to get, for me. Something that I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about every time I looked at it, because I hadn’t spent my own money on it at all.

Someone on Facebook posted a shaming rant about how the whole concept is stupid, about how the holidays are not about getting and hoarding 36 gifts. Well, duh. Of course they’re not.

Ask just about any mom what the holidays are about, and she’ll probably give you some sweet, sanitized answer about time spent with family. And she’ll mostly be sincere in offering that reply, because a big part of her truly does enjoy making these memories for her loved ones.

But behind all that family time is a helluva lotta work, the vast majority of it unacknowledged and under-valued. I know I greet late November and all of December with a jumbled-up mixture of joy, anticipation, anxiety and dread. Because for me, for most moms, the holidays dog-pile a ton of tasks onto an already-hectic life.

This time of year means planning menus and shopping to host extended family feasts, and the accompanying ton of extra cleaning and cooking. It means staying up until the wee hours decorating, then lying in the dark listening to everyone snore while trying to figure out how to fit 200 hours of activities into a 168-hour week. It means stretching a paper-thin budget to cover all my bases while trying not to shred it to bits. It usually means reaching well beyond my physical strength and mental capabilities so I can make days special for the people I love, whether they return that same effort or concern to me or not.

And honestly? Most of the time, they don’t.

It’s worth it, though. I mean, if it weren’t, we wouldn’t do it.

But that doesn’t mean Moms are superhuman. That doesn’t mean that we don’t want to feel valued, appreciated and thought-about, too. We need that. We don’t always say it aloud, but we say it in ways that others might notice if they paused long enough to listen.

And maybe sometimes, we say it by joining a silly pyramid gift exchange on Facebook.