Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cat Fight or Flight

Baby A is going through a phase that either the boys bypassed or I've forgotten.  It goes a little something like this…
We head to the car, I open the door and Baby Girl's head spins and she spews green stuff.  That's an exaggeration, but it gets pretty ugly.  There's thrashing, scratching, screaming, convulsions and that's before I even place her in the car seat.  Once she's seated, and by seated I mean head arched over the back of the seat and legs stiffened as if overcome with rigamortis, there's more thrashing, screeching, tossing and turning.  I literally have to hold her down with one hand while fastening a five-point harness with the other hand.  All the while, she's scratching the top three layers of epidermal cells from my neck and face.  Does she give up?  Of course not!  Unless she's extremely tired, she screams, pulls her hair and scratches herself until we get to our destination.  My car is 9 years old and has the upholstery stains to prove it, but I'm seriously considering having one of those limo privacy dividers installed!  Don't worry.  I'll put a bowl of mints in the back as a courtesy to the big boys.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mini Me



 It's official, I have a copy cat.  I always joke about needing a clone, and while she's definitely not identical, she's a pretty good imitator.
Baby Girl does EVERYTHING that I do!  When I style my hair, she mimics me.  When I do laundry, she's right there.  If I'm sweeping or cleaning, she's wiping right along beside me.  She's always within arm's reach.  It's cute and overwhelming at the same time.  My boys became pretty good at "finding something to do".  Baby A only wants to do what Mommy is doing.  I know one day, the thought of me will be repulsive, so for now I'll just relish the sweet curiosity that keeps her looking to me for inspiration.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Week Re-Cap


Just like last year, I was trucking along posting daily until....Thanksgiving week. Hosting duties aside, if I plan better I can get the hang of it.  :)  That's the story of my life!

On Wednesday, my sisters and father in law came into town.  We had a mexican feast complete with 5 gallons of maragarita mixing in the frozen maragarita machine.    Earlier in the day, I baked desserts and prepped a few vegetables for Thanksgiving dinner.

Thursday morning, I repurposed the tortillas from dinner to make breakfast tacos.  I'd already decided to push back dinner an hour or so to avoid being stressed.  As a consolation prize I served breakfast.

The usual game plan looks something like this: 
Take yeast dough out of the fridge.  It needs to be room temperature before working with it.
Roast sweet potatotes for sweet potato bake.
*This year MC made an apple pie.  We popped it in the oven as the potatoes were finishing up.
Start slow cooking veggies like greens and peas. 
Saute vegetables for dressing and casseroles.
Cook rices, broccoli and pasta.
Assemble cornbread dressing and have it in the oven by 10:30.  (It takes a long time to cook.)
Assemble rice dressing and broccoli casserole.
JB and I  shape the yeast dough into balls and drop into a muffin tin.  We put them aside to rise until around 1:30.
Peel and mash sweet potatoes.  Assemble sweet potato bake.
By 11:30 add other casseroles to the oven.  I usually write down times to keep track of cook times.
MC makes the cranberry sauce.
I prep all of the serving dishes and utensils, set the table and dress, so I'll look presentable for dinner (no night caps allowed).
At around 1:30, we put the rolls in the oven.  Dinner is served when they're golden brown (usually 15 minutes).
This year we ate at 3:00.  It seemed a bit later, but it was worth my sanity.

My sisters help out a ton by keeping the dishes washed and the children preoccupied.

Thursday evening is usually when I put up my Christmas trees and decorate for Christmas.  This year, I decided to put them up early and boy, was that the most brilliant idea ever?!

On Thursday night (and all day Friday)  I relaxed!

Saturday, was more of the same....more relaxation, that is!  Originally, I was anticipating another group of house guests (7 to be exact).  At the last minute, their plans changed.  I was secretly relieved.

That brings us to today:  Sunday.  We had a very normal Sunday.  My sister left this afternoon and we got right back into the swing of the weekend.  We have a very busy few weeks  and I haven't bought any Christmas gifts yet.  I'm thinking of trying to continue the daily postings.    This time I'll try to get ahead of the curve.  Let's see how it works out.

Update:  Operation Att-a-boy was awkward as I expected.  I need more time with this one. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

10 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Had Kids



It's okay for your kids to see you make mistakes.  Own up to them; those are teachable moments.

Take your definition of exhaustion and multiply it by 5.  You will feel this at the end of the day.

Your days of sleeping in will soon be over.

Research basic illnesses, symptoms and treatment.  You'll need

Parenting will be a lot like a roller coaster.

Most of your "needs" will become "wants".

Pay attention to details during your kids' transitional periods.  There's no turning back the hands of time.

Handprints are treasures.

Take lots of pictures.

You don't know what you're doing, but there's a pretty big learning curve.






Sunday, November 18, 2012

Att-a-Boy

Nothing signals the beginning of the holiday season quite like taking pictures for our annual Christmas card!  What should be a time for capturing all the love and joy of the season usually is a manic, frantic hour (if we're lucky) complete with eye rolls, huffing, puffing, sarcasm, and whining.  The finished product never reflects that side.  By the time it's been cropped and embellished with a little editing magic, I'd say it looks pretty Rockwell-ish.

Today was the day.  I've had to keep rescheduling the shoot because of house guests and other commitments.  That plus, I needed extra time to summon the patience of Job.  I decided last week, that it would either happen this weekend or we wouldn't be sending cards this year.  It takes a few minutes to upload and edit the pictures and order the photo cards; not to mention, addressing and mailing them.  We're fast approaching the  Dec. 1st postmark deadline that I impose on myself every year.

I had the kids wear their photo outfits to church.  (Christmas colors in November?  so what!) and we stopped at a park on the way home.  It's a far cry from my original plan to schlep 40 minutes to the botanical garden, but I figured both backgrounds would have a lot of greenery--who cares?

As we parked, I gave my usual speech.  "If you do what I'm telling you to do this will be quick.  I know you don't want to do it, but I do a ton of things I don't want to do.  It's either now or never."  We didn't have our usual truckload of props (i.e. chairs, ladder, gift wrapped boxes, etc) so that made it a bit easier.  I also wasn't really motivated or inspired to try any creative poses.  However, I completely forgot what a struggle it is to take pictures with toddlers.  Whoa!  The big boys have been  trained to keep their eyes open in the blazing sunlight, give a fake-natural smile, and interpret any other hand gestures that I flashed one-eyed from behind the lens.  Baby Girl, on the other hand, spent the first 10 minutes wailing and clinging on to me for dear life.  We had to give her a few minutes to warm up.  Note to self:  Don't try to do photo shoots during nap time. I snapped a ton and I'm sure I have at least one good one for the photo card.

Honestly I was a little disappointed that we bickered (again) over something instead of taking time to make a pleasant memory. We've all become very comfortable with letting each other know when we don't meet a certain standard.  I'm not proud of that, but on the ride home I also acknowledged that I'm responsible for that tone and attitude.  That attitude precedes other negative attitudes that lead us to the bickering.  I've come up short in some areas and realize that I need to change my way of thinking. 

I'm not the "Att-a-boy" type.  I didn't grow up in that type of house.  I was taught... do what you're supposed to do with or without acknowledgment or reciprocity, because you're supposed to, whether  you like it or not.  The end. Come to think of it, I don't even receive compliments well.  While I appreciate them,  I always feel awkward.  But, I have to recognize that not everyone is wired the way that I am.  I'm going to do an experiment (let's just hope I stick with it).  For the next two weeks, I'm going to let my compliments outnumber my criticisms and critiques.  I want to see what effect, if any it has on the atmosphere.   The truth is, if a few att-a-boys change some att-a-tudes, then they will certainly be worth it!

Just wondering...Does anyone else stumble and fall right after the benediction? 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

One Day At a Time

When I was a child, my mom led a gospel chorus named The Voices of Zion.  Every week (on Tuesday, I think) I waited during rehearsals at church.  I developed a very healthy imagination and crawled under many pews, but I also listened to the lyrics of some of those songs.  Back then I didn't really understand what the messages really meant, but as an adult they are crystal clear.

This is one that comes to mind often.  I can see and hear Mrs. Williams, my mom's friend and one of my favorite teachers, crooning.  It's titled, "One Day at a Time".


I'm only human; I'm just a man
Help me believe in what I could be and all that I am
Show me the stairway
I have to climb
Lord for my sake
Teach me to take
One day at a time

One day at a time, sweet Jesus
That's all I'm asking from you
Give me the strength to do everything that I have to do
Yesterday's gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine
Help me today
Show me the way
One day at a time.

Could you remember
When you walked among men
Jesus, you know when you're looking below
It's worse now than then
Pushin' and shovin' crowd in your mind
Lord for my sake
Teach me to take
One day at a time

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thankful

After collapsing into bed last night at 7:30, I thought long and hard about how thankful I am to have chosen to step away from work.  I'm thankful to have a hubby to support the decision.  I tell him often.  
Yesterday, I woke up and baked french toast that I prepped the night before, dressed, packed two lunches and took the boys to school.  My hubby was off for the day to take care of Baby A, so I told him to take the  morning off and just sleep in.  On a normal day, I would have done the morning routine in my pj's and waved goodbye to them as the hubby dropped them off at school on his way to work.

For the next 4 1/2 hours, I volunteered in the tavern speaking and serving snacks.  Just being amongst 24 little people and all of their jerky, body movements and hot breath wore me out.  Some were very disrespectful and just bratty, but most were polite.  A few times I had to suppress the Madea in me.  In my head I was thinking, "Say, Lil' Boy….".  Instead I said, "Excuse me…please…..thank you."  Boy, I was quickly reminded that I keep it real with my kids.  I've even been compared to the mom (Rochelle) on the sitcom "Everybody Hates Chris".  There are definitely some words and faces that I use with my boys that wouldn't fly in the classroom.

My feet and legs ached.  I definitely wore the wrong shoes!  My brain hurt from all of the socializing.  I was physically and mentally exhausted!  I came home and helped MC with homework.  For dinner I defrosted carnitas that I bought at Costco and informed my family to make nachos or tacos.  I couldn't even stay up to watch my favorite t.v. shows!  I barely managed to hit the record button on the DVR.

The biggest disappointments were waking up this morning and realizing that I forgot to tell my hubby to store the leftover meat, meaning it had to be thrown away, and realizing (after the kids left) that I forgot to review MC's spelling words for this morning's test with him.  I immediately thought, "Oh my goodness, there would be no way to remember all of this stuff if I were out of the house all day."  Realistically I can't remember it all at the house either, so I guess it's just a false sense of being in control.

If 7:30 were my bedtime every night, I'd never get anything done.  I do most of my work after 10.  Cooking a hot breakfast.  Nope.  Packing fun lunches.  Nope.  Cooking homemade hamburger buns for dinner.  Nope.  So, all in all, no matter how tough my days are at home (even during the homework hour from hell) it's not as tough as it would be if I were in the classroom.  The benefits aren't too bad either.

What Had Happened Was...

Yesterday's post hung in limbo.  At the end of the day, I remembered I hadn't posted anything yet, but the bed was calling me (louder than the computer).  I spent first half of the day volunteering at school.  JB's grade level transformed the classrooms into Colonial themed areas as they celebrated Colonial Day.
All of the students, teachers and volunteers dressed in period wear and the children rotated throughout the rooms doing period activities like, making candles, playing floor games, making corn husk dolls, bread and butter.  There was an area for sewing and a schoolroom where the children experienced the rigid school environment from the "olden days".
Guess what area I chose to volunteer in?  I was a hostess in the tavern.  We served warm cider and cookies.  After having the kids read a few speeches and tell riddles,  we heard interesting facts from the period.  One of  my favorites was that most weddings were held in June, because most everyone took a bath in May.  The bouquet of flowers carried by brides, in those days, was to camouflage body odor.  When they took baths, everyone used the same tub of water.  Men and boys bathed first, followed by women and babies.  By the end of bath time, the water was so dirty, the expression "Don't throw out the baby with the bath water" was a common phrase.
I was conned into  volunteered be the head hostess/reader so, by the end of the day, my throat as well as my feet were very sore.

JB ended up coming home with me mid-day because he had an upset stomach.  The evening was a blur.  At about 5:30, I really started to feel the burn from waking up, doing the morning routine, volunteering, doing the evening routine, prepping dinner…..At 7:30, I took 2 Benadryl and took my sore throat and sore feet to bed!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Housekeepers are Coming! The Housekeepers are Coming!

I am waiving my white flag;  I surrender.  My house is a total wreck and I've decided to call in the reinforcements.  The housekeepers are coming this morning and what did I spend most of the night doing?  You guessed it...cleaning!  Hopefully this will relieve some of the stress of hosting for the holidays.  I'm going to put my feet up on the ottoman and hold Baby A. 

I'm also going to try to resist giving the ladies bear hugs when they leave.  That would be weird, right? The real challenge will be getting the family to help keep the house clean for a week!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mom!?!

The boys are growing into their next phase.  I like to call it the "Mom, get away from me because you're totally weird and embarrassing" phase.  I remember feeling the same way about my mother.  She was an older mom and I don't know whether or not she noticed, but I'm certain she didn't care.  Now that it's my turn to be the source of all embarrassment, I constantly find myself justifying my coolness to my kids.  I know it's totally irrational.  It's the equivalent of negotiating a balanced diet with a two year old.  They lack the mental capacity to understand it all and they have the convictions of a mule.

Just this week, simple things like:  having JB  carry his school binder instead of stuffing the 50 pounder into his 75 pound backpack, buying both boys a pair of fleece warm-up pants (which look so comfy I want to try them on) and packing a LunchMaker instead of a Lunchable (Dad did the shopping and I wasn't specific) all sent them cowering.

My hair, any sudden movements or gestures from Baby A, party suggestions...you name it, I'm totally uncool.  What's my response:  to defend my coolness, which ironically is even more uncool.  As awkward as it seems, we haven't crossed over into the "you ruined my life" phase, so I can still manage pretty well.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Me, Myself and I (and Me)

Yesterday afternoon we tagged along with the hubby to pick up his new iPhone.  He wanted to avoid waiting for shipping, so for a few nights he's logged onto the website at exactly 10 pm (apparently that's when they're restocked) and purchased it.  Purchasing it and pre-paying online meant we'd only stop in with the receipt to pick it up.  When we got there, I took one look and opted to stay in the car.  The boys eagerly hopped out and followed their dad in to play with all the gadgets.  They thought it was the coolest place ever.  They even fantasized about working there and having so much fun playing around. They clearly don't understand the concept of work, but maybe the Apple Store should go to the top of the summer vacation list.  Two trips to Disney World didn't elicit that starry eyed gaze.

Anyway, as I parked just outside the store and waited in the car (which in and of itself was a miracle), I did some people watching.   I remember it being one of my mother's favorite past times when she was waiting for someone.

I watched how methodically people filed into and out of the parking lot and store.  I even joked with my hubby, as we were leaving, that it felt like alter prayer or communion at our family's Methodist church.  There the pastor stood before the congregation and periodically motioned and said,"As these go, let other's come."  With that directive, everyone knew exactly what to do.  The lines of parishioners that flanked both walls eventually dwindled down.

As I watched for another half hour, or so, I was amazed at what a narcissistic society we've become (self included).  Everything from parking, to driving, to snapping pictures of everything from the Apple signage on the storefront (presumably to post on Facebook, Twitter or the blogosphere), blared ME, ME, ME.

When did things change?  I guess I've been too wrapped up into "my own thing" to notice.  Wouldn't the world be a different place if  everyone took a few moments each day to do something for someone other than themselves?

I see a few service projects coming up (for the kids and me) in the very near future!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Oldies but Goodies

After years of experimenting, my family will be pleased to know that they can depend on seeing familiar dishes on the Thanksgiving table.  I love trying new recipes and cringe at the thought of serving mashed potatoes or corn for a holiday meal, but I also want to avoid stressing myself out unnecessarily.  From here on out (until I get bored), our Thanksgiving menu will be:

Smoked Turkey (2)
Cornbread Dressing
Wild Rice Dressing
Sweet Potato bake with Marshmallows and Gingersnap Streusel
Peas and Okra
Collard Greens
Macaroni and Cheese
Broccoli  & Rice Casserole
Yeast Rolls
Fresh Cranberry Compote (Cranberry Sauce)

Pecan Pie
Skillet Apple Pie
Carrot Cake

I'll probably be more flexible with the dessert table, but as far as the rest of the menu goes, I think there's something for everyone.




Saturday, November 10, 2012

Let's Get it Started

I'm sitting here giving myself a pep talk before putting up the Christmas trees.  I actually enjoy decorating, but putting up the trees signals the beginning of the season.  this year I'm starting Christmas decorating a little earlier, just so I'm able to pace myself. After last year's events, I made a conscious decision NOT to get bogged down in the unimportant stuff.  I will treasure family and memories, not perfection.  Here we go...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Making the Grade

This week was oddly reminiscent of finals week. JB had five tests in different subject areas, in addition to regular homework assignments and a progress check for an ongoing project. JB is in fifth grade this year, so I've been preparing myself (and him) for the transition to middle school. I understand that this will be more the norm than the exception in the years to come, but Holy Moly! He still needs A LOT of help organizing information to study efficiently! Translation: I'm giving A LOT of help, while juggling 10 thousand other evening duties.

Take a look at his fifth grade load for the week:

Tuesday: Math Test (Division)

Wednesday: Science Test (Circuits, energy, Resources--they did this unit 2 weeks ago and have since moved on to another topic. I guess the teacher forgot to give the
test)
Math Homework (26 problems)

Thursday: The humdinger...Explorers (Columbus, Ponce de Leon, Cortes, Hudson, et.al) This test also included a written portion where the students were to write a paragraph about an explorer they previously studied in small groups.

Pop Quiz….What country financed Ponce de Leon's expedition? What was he searching for? What was the impact of his discovery?

Math Homework (about 20 problems)
Complete a graphic organizer and word search using a Social Studies newspaper

Friday: Language Test (proofreading, ABC order, letter writing, apostrophes, quotation marks, complete subjects) & Spelling Test, which I could care less about after this week!
Math Homework (13 problems)


All tests count as two grades, which could easily bring a grade average down several points if there's a problem.

My brain is totally fried! I've checked and double checked math problems til my eyes were crossed, printed off practice sheets (Glad I paid the membership for Super Teacher Worksheets, because I'd used all of the free ones), made up review questions. I can still smell the toxic fumes of permanent marker from making flash cards. All the talk of exploring has made me want to cast my sail and set off to sea.

All jokes aside, I hope we got A's!

*When I picked JB up from school, he proudly yells out (loud enough for the whole parking lot to hear), "Hey, I didn't make an F on my Social Studies test! I know I didn't, because Mrs. G passed back all the F's with a note to get signed."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

When Giving Up is Okay

God is doing something magnificent. He must be. This is the second most hectic time of my life!

It wasn't a kitchen sink moment, but this morning as I left Corner Bakery (after stopping for my sugar fix), I realized that the place He wants to take me will require that I totally relinquish control. I don't have the capacity, in my own strength, to do what He wants me to do.

The underlying theme of my life these days is: You are not in control. No matter how much I plan and organize….things fall apart and it makes me crazy. No matter how hard I try to stay ahead of the game….it all washes out to sea and that makes me crazy.

The harder I grab the slippery wet soap in the shower, the more times I drop it. The faster I run on the little wheel of life, the more out of breath I feel. When I look up, I'm panting relentlessly only to notice that I'm standing still: moving nowhere fast.

Rather than eat my body weight in Twix candy or another equally sugar laden treat, I'm going to try to focus every ounce of my being on 'letting go'. This will be an ongoing, lifelong process for me, because it certainly doesn't come naturally!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Gobble, Gobble

With only two weeks until Thanksgiving, you'd think my number one priority would be preparing to host family from out of town. I should be working out the logistics of sleeping arrangements, and finalizing menus and grocery lists. I've thought about all of that a bit, but what's even more pressing than that?

Dum, Dum, Dum…..(in my monotone, cartoonish voice)

….my kids' table manners!

Never mind how we got to this point in the first place. Elbows up. Dig in! That's the regular sight at our dinner table. My hubby can often be heard saying, "Get your elbows down. Put your food down. You're eating like you're in prison."

I kid you not, there's enough food under the kids' seats after a meal to scoop up and save for mid-day snacks! It's so bad, the dog makes a b-line for their spots before heading outside for potty breaks.

So, tonight I started reprogramming their table behavior. There will be no mention of farting or any other bodily functions at the Thanksgiving table. There will be no slurping, smacking or humming. I've even banned eating in the "runners are you ready" position, which is basically hanging out of the chair, half standing-half sitting. I'll admit, I have my work cut out for me, but I've already warned….shape up, or ship out...to the kids' table!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A New Perspective

Last year was an extremely stressful school year. Over the summer, I made the decision that I would approach this year differently. My decision was confirmed when MC assessed the situation: "You're never going to think any teacher is good enough for us, unless it's YOU." Truer words have never been spoken!

While I regret the decision NOT to homeschool on a monthly basis, the decision has been made and I know it's for the best. While I'm perfectly capable of doing it, that's not (for a number of reasons) what I'm supposed to do. Who knows what the future holds for Baby A, but for the boys, public school it is.


This week I will attend parent teacher conferences with both sets of teachers. For the first time ever, I'm at peace with the pending conversations. I'm not taking a file of heavily marked and flagged papers, e-mail printouts and documentation. I have a few notes and a few questions--that is all. For once I don't feel like I'm off to court, defending or prosecuting as if a life depends on it.

I'm still very annoyed with a lot of the experiences, communication (or lack therof), inconsistencies, ambiguity and just school politics in general. When I take a step back and put things in perspective, I have to acknowledge that very little of what happens today or this year for that matter will have any effect on life 10 years from now.


What NOT to say in a Parent-Teacher Conference (for parents):


Maybe he/she's just bored.
He/she never does that at home.
Can you just ____________ for the him/her? (fill in the blank with ridiculous task that the child is perfectly capable of performing)



What NOT to say in a Parent-Teacher Conference (for teachers):


Has anything changed at home?
He/she is a great speller.
Maybe your expectations are too high.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Time Keeps on Ticking

Over the weekend, we gained an extra hour when we set our clocks back to signal the end of Daylight Savings Time. While I understand the point, I've always found it amusing that we've just decided to manipulate time to our advantage. The boys also see the novelty in changing the time; for the next few weeks they'll insist on telling me what time it would be in the "old time". It's always cute at first, but after a few weeks it gets a tad annoying.


(Source)


Nevertheless, time "fell back" an hour and I'm feeling refreshed. It's like a special fall treat (unlike in Spring when we lose an hour).

Last night, the extra hour meant an extra hour to finish weekend homework assignments. This morning it meant an extra hour to sleep in. The morning was even less manic than usual. The kids seemed calmer and had less trouble getting out of bed.

Having an extra hour to get things done has made me re-think how I wastespend my time on a daily basis. Is it possible that the few minutes here and there spent on the computer, phone, in front of the television….piddling around, equal hours each day wasted? This week I'm going to document my time. Who knows, maybe I'll be just as surprised with the results as when I recently tracked household expenses. Boy, was that an eye-opener!


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Au Naturale

(Source)

A few months ago I decided to walk away. I wasn't exactly sure of what lay ahead, but I wanted to go in a different direction; I decided to wear my hair in its natural state.

This sounds totally trivial, but to black women the state of our hair is a lifestyle choice. It affects our day to day activities, Saturday schedule every 4-6 weeks and even our sleep patterns. To black women the question of whether or not to relax our hair is anything but trivial!

I always thought I'd cut my hair into a short natural crop style when I turned 40. I chose 40 because it's that magical age when you're officially old. Well, now that I'm closer to 40 than ever before, 40 doesn't seem that old. Lately, I've seen so many other natural, low maintenance styles that I'm curious to try.

What really sealed the deal, was Baby A. Now that I'm responsible for training a daughter to become a woman, my outlook and focus has shifted a bit. With the boys, the image that I portray becomes the image they seek (or avoid) when finding a wife. Whatever the case, it will influence who they choose to spend the rest of their lives with and what they'll expect of her; however, with a daughter, the image that I portray will either be emulated or despised. During those teen years I expect a little of both.

I realize that unlike in my childhood, my daughter won't be heavily influenced or come in contact with (regularly) women that look like her. While I know things have come a long way in terms of race relations and acceptance of differences, I'm not naive. I will be the single most influential black female that helps her on her road to self discovery. I want her to be comfortable in her own skin, so what better way than for me to model it?

Four months into the journey, I feel great about my choice. I'm re-learning how to do my hair. I'm amazed at how many misconceptions I had about my tight kinks. I have a long way to go, but I don't regret my choice. This will likely be just the tip of the iceberg. I realize that I also need to avoid portraying certain gender stereotypes and model healthier living. For now, I'm just going to take it one pin curl at a time.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Discipline: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

Discipline-it's a dirty word. I think most people probably struggle with it to some degree and I'm no exception. Discipline will either make or break you. With it the unattainable becomes a little closer. Without it the cart runs away with the horse and they both run over you!

Personally I'm very disciplined about certain things and really struggle with others. For example, I'm very disciplined about making sure bills are paid on time and appointments/commitments are scheduled properly and kept. However, avoiding multiple trips to the cupcake shop a week: FAIL. Similarly, exercising regularly: EPIC FAIL!

In fact, the things I'm most disciplined about are usually directly related to comfort, ease and pleasure. According to Proverbs, I'm stupid (Proverbs 12:1 ) and destined to poverty and shame (Proverbs 13:18). Okay, that's a very literal interpretation. I'm so thankful for grace and mercy! But, all kidding aside flip over to Hebrews (Heb. 12:11) and you'll find the synapsis on discipline.

" No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11, NIV)

As with all God things, I'm able to see a paradigm with the kids' struggle with discipline. Just like adults, they pull out ALL the stops to avoid correction. Not only do I see the pattern, but I'm left wondering in amazement: How does God put up with our crap? How does he time and time again, give another chance? Of course, I know the answer, but it's just beyond comprehension-as it should be.

Before having kids, I never imagined how difficult and exhausting it would be to instill discipline. I'm talking exhaustion on a cellular level, if that's possible. Training children is HARD WORK! Being consistent, balancing rewards with consequences, all while keeping a cool, level head….whew! In the words of my grandmother, "It's more than a notion". Some days I think it'd be easier to dig a tunnel to Indonesia and smuggle in an entire herd of goats to start up a goat farm!

On particularly difficult days where I've talked someone down off the ledge because they want pizza for dinner (again) instead of beef stew, or they want to play for two hours after school instead of doing homework, I totally understand why some parents serve their kids Easy Mac every night for dinner and let them bathe on the even nights.

After struggling every step of the way to avoid being the last person out of the school parking lot (again), or going through last minute wardrobe changes five minutes before it's time to leave for school every morning (despite having picked out and ironed all clothes at the beginning of the week), I totally 'get' why some parents let their kids sleep in their clothes the night before school and have play dates every evening.

IT'S EASIER! No judgement! *With ten years under the parenting belt, I can easily say that the first thing to go when you become a parent is the judgement of other parents.


But, having said all of this (and I know it's a mouthful), I can't help but be redirected back to Hebrews 12:11. The words that stand out are: not pleasant, painful, harvest, righteousness, peace, trained. I could REALLY use a harvest of righteousness and peace, so I guess that means I must stay the course! No matter how painful and unpleasant, I'm keeping the end goal in sight.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Manic Mornings

My typical morning:

5:45 My phone alarm goes off. Knowing that I should wake up, I proceed to hit snooze 3-4 times.

6:25 I stumble out of bed very quietly, so I don't wake the baby, take care of bathroom business and go wake the boys. They have alarm clocks, but are afraid of the sounds they make. They're talking clocks with accents that tell corny jokes and say things like, "Hey, get out of bed!"

6:45 I start preparing breakfast and finishing packing lunches, which really should have been done last night before I collapsed into an exhausted heap on the couch. I stop every 5 minutes or so to break up a fight or remind someone to finish getting dressed. Apparently mornings are the perfect time to practice karate and wrestling moves.

7:00-7:15 Breakfast is on the table. Sometimes, breakfast is served with a last minute review of skills that I printed out overnight. On Friday mornings, I'm often giving last minute spelling practice tests while making fried rice and heating up Thermoses for lunch.

7:20 Everyone gets their morning dose of allergy medicine. *Oh, snap! I forgot this morning. Hopefully, JB stays away from the class pet today. Otherwise, we'll have another Will Smith "Hitch" moment.

7:30 Backpacks are zipped and the kids are out the door only to return a couple of times for forgotten items that I've reminded them to pack up.

Now, I have a coveted hour (if I'm lucky) to get ready for the real day.

I usually average 4 swear words and 3 Mama Bear faces. When I'm below average, I feel so proud, but know there's always the dreaded evening homework hour.

While it's extremely chaotic, it's a breeze compared to the afternoons. I'm sure there are a dozen ways to un-complicate the morning routine, but because I'm not a morning person they never work for long.

So, for now I'll have to just settle for manic mornings. So far, it's nothing that a few cups of Starbucks can't wash away.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Sweet Spot

Happy November 1st. I can't believe it's already November!! I'm challenging myself to post daily for the month of November. Last year, I did pretty well until the end. Let's see if I can do better this time around.
The kitchen, particularly the sink, is where I spend most of my time.  At our old house, the kitchen overlooked our backyard.  As I stood there doing the doing the dishes or prepping meals for what seemed like hours at a time some days, I often drifted deep into thought and reflection.  It was hands down THE place of visitation from God.  I never planned it that way;  it just happened naturally.  There were no distractions:  just me, suds and a panoramic view our private, grassy backyard.  For years rabbits visited our yard in spring and early fall.  During one of those visits and a particularly trying time for me personally, I witnessed patience in action.  Midway through the yard, the bunny became aware of my presence.  For the next 30 minutes it stood perfectly still waiting for an opportunity to get away from the threat (me).  I remember thinking "Wow!  That's what it looks like to just stand."  That rabbit waited as if its life depended on it, because it DID depend on it.  I learned got so many other lessons and revelations in the most unsuspecting place.
When we first moved, we were in such a whirlwind of life changing events that  I really didn't think of it much.  For a while things seemed topsy turvy and I just attributed it to the craziness of life.  After several months, it dawned on me...I didn't have a place. The new house was missing "the place".  Of course God is everywhere, but we had a special place at the old house.
A year later I still haven't found "the place" and that's kind of weird, but

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Making Whoopie (Pies, that is)

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I love baking and don't do it nearly as much as I'd like. My new oven is electric and I prefer gas, so I'm still getting used to baking in it. I recently tried out a new recipe for whoopie pies. The boys had never had them and I had never made them, so I figured I'd give it a shot. The hubby loves red velvet cake, so I opted for that flavor. Recipe found here. It was pretty simple and looked great, but I'm not sure it was flavorful enough for me. In my opinion, red velvet cake isn't the most flavorful to begin with. It's a southern staple and great comfort dessert with a moist and fluffy texture, but not really robust. Maybe next time I'll try chocolate variety.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Around the House

I love seasonal decorating! It kicks off in fall. I always spruce up the front door with plants and something on the door.
This year I added an upcycled sign that the previous homeowners left to the upcycled (aka found on curb on trash day) table that sits on my front porch.
Check out the pumpkins that I got for the yard. I picked them out at a local nursery They have beautiful, unique varieties.

I Saw the Light (Switch)

 This is the kind of stuff that will totally tick me off!  Talk about going from 0 to 60 in 2 seconds.  What is it?  A grimy, disgusting light switch.  I must admit, before moving and having a baby things like this were on my weekly list of maintenance cleaning.  Nowadays, I get to it when I notice it.  It just so happened the day that I noticed it, I also walked through the "war zone" that is the boys' bedrooms and bathroom.  I won't even get into details of those areas.  Let's just say I needed to sit down before my pressure entered the stroke zone.
I love all three of my children dearly, but God really tapped into his sense of humor when he blessed me with two boys.  You see growing up, I was the girl that rinsed out the watercolor tray when the colors got all mixed up.  Forget about sharing watercolors.  Fah-get about it!  When I had play dates at my house, I put away all valuables for fear that they would get broken:  you know, valuables like chalk for playing school and special dolls...pretty much everything. As a tween/teen I probably showered three times a day.  Thank goodness we lived on a farm and had our own well for water.  I'm sure my parents appreciated that it was free and God always provided plenty of it for my cleansing rituals.  In school I color coded my folders and notebooks, designating one for each subject.  I'm just anal retentive that way.
So, when I get the opportunity to parent two very rambunctious boys I see a glimpse of living on the wild side.  Boys are very different!  Their idea of clean involves licking and wiping (on themselves).  Anything that doesn't involve animation, bodily fluids or sounds, or full on physical contact is just plain old boring.  I know exactly what lessons I'm supposed to learn from this journey:  relax, take things in stride, have fun, yada, yada....   I've gotten much better, but some days they work my nerves!

Side note:  I was going to write a mushy post about getting paid in hugs, but when I uploaded the picture and thought about it again I wasn't feeling mushy.
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Monday, September 24, 2012

It's (Finally) Fall Ya'll


I LOVE fall. It's the first opportunity for Texans to get a respite from the killer heat! Granted, the mercury rose to about 95 degrees on the first day of fall. I love fall colors. They're so warm and earthy. Pumpkins….need I say more? This weekend marked the beginning of fall. To celebrate, MC made a skillet apple pie. He used a recipe that he learned this summer in cooking school and it was phenomenal! We're adding it to this year's Thanksgiving menu.
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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Once Upon A Time When I Was Organized (and other 'In a Perfect World' scenerios)

Once upon a time......I was organized. Well, that's relative, I was relatively organized. I was a pretty efficient multi-tasker. That's not so much the case these days!

I'm stressing less about it all. I'm just kind of accepting this phase: the good, bad and ugly. Acceptance is very hard for me.

In a perfect world I would :
*have a spotless and well decorated home
*have clean and well mannered, well behaved children
*have time to plant a bounty of veggies and herbs growing (successfuly)
AND rotate the plantings seasonally and as needed
*have menus with coordinating shopping lists for months at a time
*have an established cleaning routine and energy to actually do the work
*be able to blog regularly, and cook and craft creatively and regularly
*have a successul skin care and exercise regimen
*master photography
*turn (at least) one of my hobbies into a business
*be able to go junking and repurpose what I've found


In reality, on most days, I'm lucky to get a shower, comb my hair and eat two meals before sunset. As I type, I'm delaying schlepping out to the grocery store.

Friday, August 31, 2012

1 is the Loneliest Number

Our sweet baby girl turned 1 this week and boy did I forget what that meant! On her first birthday, she broke the calculator exposing the lithium battery that if swallowed would have likely killed her. The battery compartment was secured with a screw, but I guess she hit it just hard enough in just the right spot to pop it off. Fortunately I was sitting beside her and got it before she noticed what happened. Can someone say baby proof?
We didn't really baby proof our home with the boys. They were active, but as long as the outlets were covered and chemicals were out of reach, they were content banging a car on the coffee table or throwing a ball at the window. This little one is into EVERYTHING! She's an independent explorer--that's for sure! Everything goes in her mouth and she is obsessed with the dog. I constantly find myself telling the Coco to get away from her only to look up and find her following the dog around. Coco even gives me the look, to be sure I know SHE'S not the culprit. I've even caught the baby dropping food over the tray of her walker for the dog to pick up.
This is the first year in three years that Back To School left someone at home with me. This week has been a crash course! On the bright side Baby A will get the same kind of one on one time as her brothers when they were this age. Now I'm off to baby proof the house.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

All Good Things Must Come To an End

We were very sad to see summer come to an end! This past year has been a whirlwind! Summer was our first long stretch of down time. Of course, we were more up and out than down, but it was nice to have a relaxed schedule and controlled environment. Swim team practices and meets kept us VERY busy, but overall it was a good experience. I think MC will join the team next summer. We'll have to see how that goes with a toddler.

At the beginning of August, we took a weeklong trip to Orlando. The hubbie signed up for a conference earlier in the year and as soon as I found out the location I jumped on the chance to get away. In part because the thought of ending the summer flying solo gave me hives. More importantly we haven't been on a real vacation in two years. I'll be honest and admit that the only thing I miss about my husband's old job is the perks: frequent flyer miles, car rental points, hotel upgrades and VIP status. That being said, I wouldn't trade any of that for having him home to put out a few fires during the week!
Anywho, back to Orlando….Being the psycho planner that I am, I previewed the hotel and all of their activities, mapped out local restaurants to figure out cost effective meal options and decided on a Walt Disney World itinerary. We've been to WDW before, so I didn't feel stressed to do everything but you can't go to Orlando without at least stopping by to see Mickey!





We stayed at the JW Marriott which is adjacent to the Ritz Carlton. It's a compound with every amenity you can imagine. Some of the activities were for older children and adults: fly fishing, eco tours, etc., but were plenty of kid friendly things to do. Being a guest of either hotel granted us unlimited access to both properties. The Ritz had RitzKids, which is like a day camp for kids. JW Marriott had a gargantuan waterpark. I decided not to plan every minute, but let the kids have input.

B had training classes until the end of the work day. A couple of times he also had night events, but the hotels had evening activities, so I was sure we would be set. Each day I asked the boys if they wanted to do an activity from kids' program. Each day I got the same answer: nope. We spent every day at the water park! It was very relaxing, but I felt like we should be "doing" something a little more productive or educational. Finally the last day of our trip I convinced them to take a nature walk and meet other kids for a fish feeding. Other than that they were happy to play checkers on the life sized checker/chess board, ping pong (HUGE hit), tetherball and relax in the hotel suite. *We upgraded our standard room to a much larger suite on day 2 to avoid any casualties.





Several evenings and one very LONG Friday, we visited Disney World. As I said before, this wasn't our first time, so we didn't even attempt to see everything. We tried to just see our favorites and any new attractions or things that we may have missed last time. Let me start by saying I DO NOT like Disney World. I'm not into amusement parks, never have been, and think they're highly overpriced. I feel like I'm being conned into thinking it's all cool and exciting when it's really not. The whole environment reminds me of one of my favorite childhood stories: The Emperor's New Clothes. I just feel it's one of those things you must do for your kids, so we did it. We opted out of character visits and signings this time because we did a lot of that last time and I wasn't sure how Baby Girl would handle that. She ended up sleeping a great deal each time we went to one of the parks. I guess that means we'll have to visit again when she's old enough to remember---yay!





Because I like to do everything at the same time, Baby A's birthday party was scheduled two weeks after we returned from vacation. Anyone who's ever traveled with small children (particularly flying) knows that you need a vacay from the vacay, but that didn't stop me from being ambitious!
I quickly sent out cheesy invitations and finished making her birthday shirt and bow, both of which had been started previously and put on the back burner while I planned our trip and did back to school shopping. I stopped by our favorite bakery and ordered a ridiculous amount of cake, grabbed supplies and got busy. The ideas for the party had been swirling around in my head for months, but they were up there with shopping lists and the Thanksgiving and Christmas menus, so I had to quickly regroup and get focused to pull it all together. Surprisingly I got everything unpacked and most things washed from our trip before family came for the party. I'm a slow packer and even slower unpacker.
The funniest part (besides Baby A and her cousin fighting because he kept trying to inspect her birthday outfit) was when the party was over, the boys were jealous because the baby had such an awesome party. Really? So, hanging out at home with friends, playing, eating dinner and making snow cones is more fun than the very expensive parties and dinners that you've been having for the past ** years?! Note to self: dummy it down and go cheap!




The boys started school two days after the party. I'm pretty sure they were still on a sugar high from the cake and candy station. Their teachers seem to be very good and passionate about teaching. The school also has a new administrative staff, so I expect many changes. Overall I think this will be a great school year!
I can't believe JB will start middle school next year. I'm NOT ready for that. For now I'll just enjoy the moment.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Face of Sin

 I'm pretty sure if you look up the word 'sin' in the dictionary, you'll find a picture of this ice cream cake!

As promised I had big plans for the coffee ice cream that I can 't get enough of. A few weeks ago I found the perfect devil's food cake recipe online.   It was so decadent, I decided to frost only one layer and freeze the other.    While pondering the nightly question, What sweet treat can we have for a nightcap, I came up with this sinful idea.  What better way to use leftover cake and ice cream?  

I cut the layer of cake in half horizontally and spread on  two flavors of my homemade ice cream:  coffee and vanilla.  Then, I whipped up a carton of whipping cream for icing.  Side note:  My right bicep is the only muscle that gets a regular workout!  Freezing the cake between steps for a few minutes helped set the ingredients and made frosting the cake a breeze.  As if it wasn't rich enough, the boys insisted that I add a few chocolate chips.  

It was so easy and I had all of the ingredients on hand.  I doubt that I'll be buying another ice cream cake for birthday celebrations.  The possibilities are endless!
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Friday, June 29, 2012

I Scream for Ice Cream

An unexpected package arrived on my doorstep today.   The boys were intrigued by the penguin and 'Keep Frozen' label on the box.   They immediately recalled the scene from "Mr. Popper's Penguins" where the first crate arrived and out popped a penguin. I noticed that it was from an ice cream vendor and assumed my hubbie ordered a surprise for me.  I called him on his commute home and he gave me the best surprise of all.   Apparently his company sent employees FREE ice cream sundae kits complete with glass sundae dishes, six pints of premuim ice cream, gourmet sauces, nuts and sprinkles!!
 
The boys and I quickly tore into the box, dry ice and all, to find Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice creams as well as Haagan Daas Strawberry, Chocolate and Vanilla.    I can't think of a better way to end  Dairy Month.  It looks like we're having sundaes on Saturday!  Yippee!
 
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Thursday, June 28, 2012

June

June whizzed by. Fortunately we have almost 2 full months of summer left and the bulk of our scheduled activities are over. This month the boys attended a week of soccer camp, a week of VBS (on steroids), and JB is wrapping up his first season of swim team. So far our only days of sleeping in have been the rare rainy days and a few Saturdays. It's been crazy, but not as crazy as having the boys go from 8 hour school days to 8 hour days with mom sans a transition. I'm good, but not that good!

Everyone told me that swim team would be a HUGE commitment and they were right! Daily practices at 8, sometimes 7 a.m. along with Monday meets that last from 3-7 p.m. and require parent volunteers aren't my idea of fun, but have been a great way to expose him to another sport and avenue for channeling his competitive spirit. He's done incredibly well, beating his own personal times and even scoring has high as second place in his event. HIs favorites are freestyle and breast stroke. His least favorite is back stroke.

Baby Girl is hanging right in there with us. Being the party animal that she is, swim meets and taxiing her brothers around is no big deal for her! She naps and eats wherever we land. There's no doubt the third child has to be flexible!

Of course we're still doing school work and piano lessons as well. There'll be no summer lag here!

As for me, I've finished a few craft projects and pinned many more. I've found a few stellar recipes and tossed a few duds. My new favorite is coffee ice cream. I've got big plans for that one! My gardening has taken a dive as the boys told me they saw a snake egg nearby. I'm dreaming of margherita pizza, so I will be tiptoeing out to gather basil. Next up, planning Baby A's first birthday party. I'm so excited to finally get to go overboard with pink!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

End of School

In honor of these last few days of school: 9 sack lunches, 8 volunteer pleas, 7 early bedtimes, 6 homework packets, 5 reading logs, 4 spelling tests, 3 calls from the nurse, 2 school assemblies ...and a backpack with unused school supplies.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Circle of Sarcasm

The funny thing about sarcasm is that it's only funny to the perpetrator. Sarcasm is another one of my fatal flaws. When I take a step back and think about it, it's probably an extension of my controlling and perfectionist tendencies. It's become a last resort and often times a way to dole out insults when I feel there's no other way to get my point across, which is similar to my potty mouth. I have a razor sharp tongue even when not swearing and I think it's genetic, because I can't name one person in my family who doesn't share it. Well maybe genetic is strong, but it's definitely learned. My family certainly doesn't appreciate it and I don't blame them. They notice the subtleties of an ill timed smile or the occasional maniacal laugh. MC was even brought to tears a few times on Mother's Day because he was worried that I wasn't having a good day. I assured him that I was, but he was skeptical because I kept saying "Happy Mother's Day" sarcastically. Honestly, they were driving me crazy bananas on Mother's Day. I asked them to just make it a normal day and they delivered. JB usually gets annoyed and the hubby just ignores me. I don't want this to become a learned behavior for them, so I guess it goes on my long laundry list of things to work on. Something always turns up when you take personal inventories!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Eat Breakfast

When you skip breakfast, you overeat at lunch time. When you overeat at lunch time, you get sleepy and take a long nap. When you take a long nap, you dream about being a superhero. When you dream of being a superhero, you oversleep and forget to pick up your kids from school. When you forget to pick your kids up from school, they have to go home with the neighbors. When they go home with the neighbors, they find out all the neighborhood secrets. When they find out the neighborhood secrets, you become paranoid about the neighbors knowing that you know their secrets. When you become paranoid about all of the secrets, you have a hard time falling asleep at night. When you have a hard time falling asleep at night, you're groggy in the morning. When you're groggy, you forget to eat breakfast. Don't worry yourself with other people's secrets….eat breakfast. *This didn't really happen, but it almost did.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Crafting

I guess all of those childhood summer days spent at Perry's and Fabric Carousel paid off. I remember looking on as my mom perused the huge pattern books. If I got lucky, she would call out the pattern numbers and I would pull the patterns from the cabinets. When I showed interest, she explained how to read the measurements on back. I inherited my mom's sewing machine years ago and took a crash course from a friend. It was very basic, but enough to get me started. I've toyed around with several small projects, so I decided to go for it and make an outfit. I knew that having a baby girl would bring that out. The goal was to get it finished before the church Easter egg hunt. In true mom fashion, I did; I finished the dress and bloomers the night before the hunt. I was proud of the end result, despite tons of mistakes. I found it was pretty easy to cover up the mistakes. Lessons learned for next time: don't use plaid seersucker fabric, pay close attention to body measurements to choose the right size, read ALL directions before beginning. Overall I'll have to say it was fun. It required me to use brain cells that rarely get used. I'll definitely do it again.
 
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My next crafting feat: Duct Tape wallets for Market Day. For Market Day, the kids worked with buddies to create storefronts for selling goods/services to classmates. They were given a list of suggested sale items. I proposed a few simple suggestions from the list and others that I thought were good ideas. Imagine my surprise when MC came home with the assignment. I think my exact words were: "What? Who the hell came up with that?!" I knew it wasn't something he could do alone, so I made a model and headed out to Hobby Lobby for designer Duct Tape (they make some pretty cool prints these days). For the next two weeks I worked feverishly to finish the wallets. I even Bedazzled a few with gems. MC helped measure out the tape and make a few small cuts with the Exacto knife, but I did the rest. Market Day was a success; He sold out quickly. When he came home with a few of his buddies' wallets, all I could say was......umm....duh..... Anal Annie struck again!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cooking: I Live to Eat

Some people eat to live. Others live to eat. I'm definitely in the latter category. I don't think I have a disorder. I just genuinely love food-good food. I like the way it feels in my mouth. I like the way it makes me feel. Memories are connected to food. Emotions are connected to food. For me, eating is an experience. There are times when I'd rather not eat because I don't want to just go through the motions. I want it to be worth the experience. Lately I've been so tired and busy. My mental state can be reflected in our menus and my crafting schedule, or lack thereof. The more we eat out, the more out of it I am. Tacos/taco salad=tired. During weeks when I'm on top of the world our menu board features dishes like: eggrolls, chicken fried steak with homemade cream gravy, coconut shrimp with orange marmalade dipping sauce. This week I even tried a new grilled jerk chicken recipe. The marinade was so delicious and easy to make, I'll never buy it again. I was too busy licking my fingers to take pictures of that, but I managed to get a shot of the quiche florentine that I made one day for lunch. It was totally on a whim, but oh so yummy!
1 frozen pie shell, 5 eggs, 1 bunch of spinach (sauteed and drained), 1 1/2 c. mozzerella cheese, 1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese, splash of heavy cream, salt, pepper, 30 minutes in the oven=Deliciousness!
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This morning two of my neighbors stopped by for coffee. What better way to start the morning and the summer/berry season than with this Blueberry Buckle. The first time I made it I used a Martha Stewart recipe, but I eventually just adopted one from my Southern Living Cookbook. With 3/4 c. of butter and a pint of blueberries…this one's a winner!

Growing a Salad

FIRST GARDEN
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This year I attempted to grow a bigger selection of veggies. It's my first time planting an in-ground garden. I usually just stick to containers. I have to be honest--I cheat. I always buy the most mature plants in hopes of enjoying some of the initial benefits before killing them. In addition to herbs, I've planted lettuce (bib and a mesculun mix), okra, bell peppers, green beans, carrots and broccoli. The carrots and broccoli are not for newbies, but everything else is doing okay. It's time for me to stake the green beans, otherwise they're going to get out of control! I can already see buds, so we'll be harvesting them soon. I also have cherry tomatoes growing in a nearby container. It's doing quite well. I must admit growing a salad is pretty cool. The boys are even more excited about eating the results. Well excited is a bit strong, but there definitely more open to it and that's a start.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Trying (Again) to Flush the Potty Mouth

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.James 3:9-10 (NIV) I have a confession. I have a terrible potty mouth. I could give a dozen reasons for it, but the bottom line is that I have it and I don't like it. I've tried to change it. I've prayed about it. Inevitably, I'm in a situation and whether angry, frustrated or just "being me", up comes a very un-ladylike, un-Christian verbal expression. While I have a pretty extensive vocabulary, some words and phrases just carry more emotion than others. Frankly, I feel a release after I've said it, like a teapot releasing steam. I guess we all have habits that we don't like. The key is to keep working on them. That's what I plan to do. Check back with me at dismissal time…Coming Up: I've been getting crafty, so stay tuned for a few craft posts.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Weekend

What a fabulous long weekend! Of course it was super busy, but that's our new normal. The hubby picked out a car, so that's done. We also celebrated Easter. The boys dyed eggs, but refused to eat them. They hunted for eggs and were pleasantly surprised to find money, not candy, inside. We ate a nice sunday dinner of: Bourbon & molasses glazed ham, green beans, potato cake, rolls and lemon glazed pound cake. I decorated the table and even pulled out my grandmother's china. The boys didn't break or spill anything, thus proving that they don't HAVE to eat like slobs every night.
As I was getting ready for bed last night, I realized that Baby A didn't get her Easter basket. Really it was just a basket with a stuffed animal, but I figure she doesn't know the difference. I'll be sure to get it right next year…maybe.

Now, it's time to map out the summer. There are only 6 more weeks of school!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Vacation Anyone?

Last week my hubby informed me that he has a mandatory training class later in the summer. Corporate wives know to ask, "Where is the training?". For the past year all training has been local. Luckily for us…this year training is in Orlando, just a short drive from Disney World. When I heard "Orlando", I immediately told him we were going to tag along. Even tagging alone beats staying home all week with all three kids ALONE.
We had pretty much decided that taking a vacation wasn't going to be a priority this year, with everything else we've got going on. Now that doesn't mean we don't want or need a vacation, but in the big scheme of things it's just not a priority. I've planned a quick itinerary which will include a few trips to theme parks (of course) and a day trip to Busch Gardens. I think I'm most excited about that because the last time we went, we were high schoolers. It will be pretty cool to go back as a family of five.
I never imagined flying on a plane with a baby, but never say never. I have to admit it will be nice to get away, even if I'll still be on duty. Everyone knows…Mom is always on duty!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

For the Table


I've been wanting to make these cute little bud vases for Easter, for years! It's a simple project, but takes some planning.
As I prepped this morning's breakfast, I remembered!
I carefully cracked the eggs in order to save the shells. I pierced the narrow end of each egg and peeled away just enough shell to pour out the eggs. Then I rinsed each shell and set them aside to dry. Later I widened each opening by peeling away more of the shell.
Today I used roses from the flower bed, but on Sunday I plan to use spring flowers. I think these will make a beautiful addition to the dinner table. Next up….finalizing the menu and making baskets.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Time to Slay the Dragon

When I first became a mom, I was engulfed in naivety and adopted an unrealistic idea of the way parenting would be. With my firstborn I made homemade baby food, followed strict rules about tummy time and always bought expensive diapers and diaper cream. While pregnant with my second my mother passed away. So, as I grieved the loss of my mother and best friend, I redefined my role as a mother. I remember thinking, "I've got to be there for them wholeheartedly, because I know what it's like for my mother to no longer be with me". At some point along the way I became a martyr, for lack of a better word. Fast forward a few years and another child; now I am looking the big ugly monster in the face. This is a monster that I've created: entitlement.

While I've never felt that my kids were spoiled, the responses, reactions and downright disassociation from any responsibility (stated or implied) clearly suggests that they feel entitled to do things their own way. Because I'm old school and my parents were just plain old, I cannot wrap my brain around it, but I'm going to get to the bottom of it.

For starters, they MUST gain more responsibility. Of course they're going to revolt, but I've got to stick to my guns and follow through. JB washed dishes yesterday and though the entire floor was soaking wet, I didn't stop and take over. They both did their own laundry as well. I am hoping the additional responsibilities give them a sense of ownership and make them more aware of how they are taking care of (or not) our home. I'm also reconsidering their summer line up. I realized that having 10 consecutive weeks of child centered activities is good for entertainment and my nerves, but bad for ending a narcissistic phase. In the coming weeks I'll be searching the area for community service projects.

This is all very ambitious, but necessary. Now that I"m literally breastfeeding again, I can no longer figuratively breastfeed the rest of my family. In my best Major Payne (Damon Wayans) impersonation, "Maybe what he need is for you to pop your titty out his mouth and let the boy grow up."….." I didn't stutter, I said pop-your-titty-out-his-mouth AND STOP BABYING HIM. "

Sir, yes sir! I plan to do JUST that!

Monday, March 26, 2012

New Week. Clean Slate.

After last week, I'm hoping for a very mundane and UNEVENTFUL week!

As I start another week, I'm motivated to make progress on the home front and get some things in order. Hopefully by the end of the week I won't feel like I've been spinning my wheels and getting nowhere fast!
This morning I realized that (once again) I need to lower my standards. I'm expecting too much of everyone including myself. It's also time for me to let some things go. I'm trying to re-establish a system that worked in the past, but is totally inefficient in this season of life. Combined these two things are keeping me in a state of frustration.

Let's see: Multiple sports practices, standardized testing, car shopping and two games on Saturday, doesn't sound uneventful!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Equinox



I recently took down my hanging fern for watering and was pleasantly surprised to find a perfectly shaped nest with one milky white egg inside. Every year, I find a bird's nest with egg(s), and every year I'm surprised. I'm amazed at how fragile yet resilient birds are. How they manage to find scraps of materials and use them to skillfully craft a perfect shaped nest large enough for their families, is nothing short of amazing.
The changing of seasons always serves as a reminder of God's faithfulness and provision.


Matthew 6:25-30 (NIV)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

M.I.A.

….and I'm not talking about the entertainer. Seriously, there's a new adventure every day. Unfortunately, I don't have enough time or clarity of thought to always write about them. Eventually I'll get better at that…maybe.






Yesterday's adventure: Making fresh pasta. I came across a cheap bargain pasta roller a few months ago and regretted not buying it. I was thrilled to find it at the closeout store yesterday when I stopped in (looking for something else, of course). I was so excited to try it out, I changed the dinner menu.

I considered letting the boys help me, but I didn't want to get in over my head. To my surprise it was super easy. Two ingredients and about 20 minutes resulted in some fabulous noodles that were delish with homemade pasta sauce and turkey meatballs. The machine rolls and cuts the dough into various thicknesses. It is manual, but only requires a few passes through each attachment. If I become a master pasta maker I may consider buying the attachment for my stand mixer, but for now I can use the arm toning. JB and MC are excited to help me make more this weekend.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Road Trip

What do you get when you mix three kids, a dog and a few hundred miles? A smelly, noisy mess! We road tripped (again) this weekend and it's official…Baby A is fine for the first few hours, but that last one does her in! Like a damsel in distress, she's accustomed to be rescued by the men in her life. Unfortunately, when we're riding in the car there's no rescuing. This makes for a LONG ride.
Between the three kids, I'm pretty sure we could make the round trip without ever stopping to fill up the tank. I have the gassiest kids ever! I once mistakenly sent the boys to bed for foul flatulence only to later find out it was Baby A…oops!
Anyway, back to the RT.
Through multiple stops for ice cream and restroom breaks, fighting over toys, whining about trouble with video games, singing silly songs and beat boxing, and (lets not forget)…"Are we almost there?", I believe God has worked a miracle. I'm not twitching uncontrollably when we reach our destination. Road trips with a family are drastically different from the B.C. (before children) college days! While I'm still not a fan of road trips, I'm accepting the fact that these inconveniences are the things that memories are made of.

Friday, February 3, 2012

14 Days of Love

 


As if I don't have enough to do.....I whipped up this cute Valentine pouch to hang on the boys' bedroom doors. I had felt in my fabric tub and this striped ribbon was left over from an old project. I could have embellished them more, but I didn't.
Each day I write them a note detailing one thing that I love about them. I also drop in two Hershey's Kisses. They're probably more excited about the chocolate, but I think they enjoy the notes too.
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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mama Said Knock You Out

Since our move, MC has been struggling with adapting to his new school, our new home and his overall shift in birth order. We've tried, as best as we can, to give him enough attention and not make him feel like he's been robbed of his "Baby of the Family" title, but for whatever reason he's still feeling unsure of himself. He's gone from a happy, witty, confident "performer" to a quiet observer. We've talked to him regularly in an attempt to assess the problem, but midway through the year it's apparent that the problem is multi-faceted.
While I can remedy some of the problems, some of the issues are beyond my control. Just yesterday he gave us another piece to the puzzle. Apparently there's a resident bully that has been picking on him. He repeated some of the rude and crude things that this little jerk was saying and said that he even uses his reward "sit by a friend" cards to sit by him at lunch and harass him. Well let me tell you what….as soon as my head stopped swelling and my neck stopped throbbing I wanted to go to school and put
he-ass in check!
Aside from the obvious reasons, I can't do that. I thought back to all of the magazine articles about bullying that I've read and they all said that parents should not step in, but rather help the child navigate from a distance. Well when it's your "baby", that's kind of hard to do. Moms are supposed to fix these types of things. Obviously I decided against bullying the bully, because I'm here typing and not in CB4.
Last night, his bedtime story was me retelling of the time that I beat up a boy in science class underneath the lab tables. I was tired of him harassing me. While I emphasized that I didn't want him beating anyone up, I let him know that I will never punish him for standing up for himself. This morning I emailed the teacher and hopefully she can help me put an end to this. If not, well….read between the lines.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Beautiful Sight

 

Excuse me while I crawl into my make-up drawer! Ahhhh....organization...in one area of my life, at least! I got tired of digging in my make-up bag (although it's convenient for traveling because I never unpack it), so I came up with the great idea of getting it all organized. I bought silverware caddies for my huge vanity drawer: a large tray with compartments for foundation, blush and eye shadow compacts and a smaller one for brushes and lip liner. They worked beautifully! There's still plenty of room in the drawer for other beauty products AND I can mark something off my To Do list.
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