Monday, February 9, 2015

Is it already February?

I am flabbergasted that it is almost my husband's birthday at the end of February.  Wasn't it just the holiday season yesterday?  I feel like I should still be shopping for Christmas and Hanukah presents when in actuality we will probably be seeing St. Patrick's Day decor in Walmart by tomorrow!

This time warp is extra fascinating this year because that means I have been true to my New Year's Resolutions for well over a month...I am impressed.  First, I had way too many resolutions for 2015 for no apparent reason other than the fact that I guess I needed to add more things to my "to do" lists? Well for whatever reason I made a bunch of resolutions and I have been very good about adhering to my personal improvement agenda.

1.  Get my girl ready for school in a calm and positive manner.  This one was numero uno on my list.  I was literally hating myself and the morning in my house.  Granted, I was still up all night with insomniac baby, but that is no excuse.  It is not my pre-schooler's fault that I am tired and cranky.  I was getting so impatient trying to get a slow moving four year old ready and the guilt was making me miserable.  That is not the mom I had set out to be so I changed it.  And simply put, I made a rule: "There is no yelling allowed."  Sounds silly and simple but I am a rule follower so this simple strategic motto is actually working for me.  I am just "not allowed" to raise my voice.  Instead I remember that really the worst thing that could possibly happen is that we will be late and miraculously that has not yet happened.

2.  Use heavier weights when I go to Jazzercise of Clinton for my workouts.  I have been exercising for fifteen years with the same 5lb weights.  Me, the self proclaimed fitness guru, the girl who knows something about every type of workout on the market, the lady who exercises on vacation...How have I let myself get away with this?  The golden rule of the exercise plateau,..change your routine.  So anyway, yeh I went up to an amazing 6 lbs lol :)

3.  Get dressed and put on some make up everyday.  OK, so I have slacked a little here, but I have improved and that is the point.  Not that I was wearing my pajamas everyday in 2014, but being a stay at home mom does lead to some degree of jean phobia.  I wore my sweatpants more than I like to admit. Every now and then we all deserve to lay around in jammies all day with a good book and a cozy blanket, but I do believe that you feel how you dress.  When I put "real" clothes on and take a few extra minutes to apply blush and mascara I feel different.  I tend to accomplish more and I feel better about myself.  This resolution was not a self centered appearances are everything kind of improvement.  It was more that I deserve to take the time to feel good.  I spend the rest of the day doing everything for my family, the extra time to take care of myself is a great way to begin the process of caring for others.

4.  Last to be listed but probably the most important; communicate better with my husband.  Ah, the foundation of a good marriage: talk to each other.  Sounds so easy.  Then  comes the long work week, the endless cycle of caring for children, busy weekends, tired weeknights, and much less time to spend with your beloved.  It is quite ironic that when you first start dating, there is less to talk about and so much more time to talk.  Once you become a family there are constantly issues that need to be discussed and finding the time to communicate with one another almost becomes a chore.  So sad.  But if you believe in something enough, you make sure it happens.  No excuses.  I love talking to my husband anyway, he is a great listener.  Being too tired is a terrible excuse, if I have something to say, it must be said.  Would I rather wake up 20 years from now and realize that we are suddenly complete strangers with no kids around as a buffer?  Definitely not.  So, I will not wait until the one night every few months we are lucky enough to have a date night.  That is not enough.  Say something to my husband every single day, so far, mission accomplished.

I don't want to get too ahead of myself.  It is only the second week of February.  But I am off to a great start .  But if you catch me at Shop rite with my sweats on, well hey, they are comfy!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fabulously Mismatched

I was sitting in my rocking chair in the left back corner of my bedroom.  While I was nursing my infant, I was also watching my four year old get dressed.  She was sitting in the chair at my desk, a piece of furniture that belonged to my husband when he was a teenager.  The desk is in the front right corner of the room, and it acts like a vanity.  I have a mirror, make-up, and hair products at the desk; it's where I get ready.  My daughter was wearing sea green leggings, a black dress with little pink hearts all over it, and a pink baby doll sweater.  She had white socks pulled all the way up, and her shiny black dress shoes on her feet.  If you didn't guess from my clothing description, she dressed herself.

I was watching my young daughter brush her hair with my brush while looking at herself in my mirror.  She was very pleased.  As she brushed through her hair, she kept asking me if she was, "doing it," meaning, "was she getting all the knots out?"  The true answer to that question would have been "no."  She only brushes the hairs in front where she is coordinated enough to reach.  She lacks the motor skills needed to brush the hair in back of her head.  I lied to her.  I told her she was successful.  I didn't feel like I was not telling her the truth though.

She successfully got herself ready for the day all on her own and she liked the way she looked.  It was obvious by the way she twirled herself around in front of my full length mirror later.  My daughter was very proud of herself and as her mom I was proud too.

I am sure there are some parents who would have had their child change their clothes before they left the house, making sure the outfit matched.  Maybe they would have also brushed her hair to ensure that it was nice and neat.  Not me.  We left just as she was.  The moment was too special to ruin with worries of what other people might think.  Not to mention, I would have been interfering with her growing up right in from of me.  I might have risked stealing some of her confidence,  some of her independence, and her pride.  I didn't have the heart to take those things away from her.  She was amazing and I didn't want to interrupt.  So when you see us out and about, my four year old might not match.  Her outfit might be quite silly.  We have even gone to the grocery store in dress up clothes.  But she is on her way to becoming a very confident, independent, and proud woman.  What more could I really ask for?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sleep Deprivation: My Own Realizations

Really, really, my baby does not like to sleep.  She is six and a half months old, and on a typical night she wakes up about five times.  I cannot let her "cry it out" because I feel bad, but also because of the fact that my older daughter is in the same room; she gets woken up after two minutes of baby screams.  Rubbing her back, shaking her booty, and gently stroking her nose and forehead do nothing for my little one, believe me I have tried that and more.  I have no idea how to get my infant to sleep through the night; I am pretty sure she just hates sleep.  I am the one who wakes up with her most of the time, and I am beyond tired.  At this point there are no words to describe the amount I crave uninterrupted shut-eye.

But, there is a silver lining here, and that is why I am writing this blog tonight.  I have come to many realizations over the past few weeks that I need to share.  They are remarkable.

1.  Sleep deprivation directly effects brain cell function.  The other night I was driving home with the two girls in the back seat.  It was raining; I am not the biggest fan of driving while precipitating.  For some ridiculous reason I thought that if I put my sunglasses on I would be able to see better.  After fitting my face with my glasses, I started to look at the road and wonder why it was SO dark.  Did they forget to turn on the streetlights?  Is there a power outage?  Is this some new money saving idea from the department of transportation?  Ah, and then, after about three miles, I realize....I AM WEARING MY SUNGLASSES AT NIGHT!

2.  Lack of sleep causes hallucinations.  In the middle of the night a few days back, my husband got out of bed to use the bathroom. When my 5'11" husband was at the doorway to our bedroom I looked over at him and he looked like a giant.  Seriously, like a giant from a sci-fi movie.  At that moment, I thought (no joke) that no one will ever mess with me, my husband is a freakin' giant!

3.  When your body is not getting the proper rest, it goes numb and resembles a sort of gumby like character.  I notice this when I go to my Jazzercise of Clinton class to get my workout.  Sometimes I am nervous attending my fitness class because I think, how will I be coordinated enough to follow the instructor when I can hardly focus on making breakfast?  Turns out though, my body actually turns to a sort of clay like device.  Somehow, I am more flexible when I do not sleep...go figure!

4.  I am ALWAYS hungry because I am ALWAYS awake.  I get to eat all the time since I am never lying down and in effect calories are bonus to a foodie :)

5.  The very best way to stay awake during periods of sleepiness is to pretend you are sleeping in front of your young children.  My almost four year old HATES to see me relax in any way, shape, or form.  Never mind the fact that she LOVES fantasy play; that game is simply not fun when the fantasy involves me pretending to sleep.

6.  The very worst thing you can do during episodes of sleep deprivation is get one full night of sleep. This will only cause further exhaustion.  Do not attempt.  Rather than being thankful for the one night of uninterrupted sleep, your body will totally hate you for the cruel joke you played.  Everyone knows you will not get a second night directly following the first night of sleep.  Do not confuse your body.  It has to be one or the either sleep every night or never.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Clean House Conundrum

So I have a child who does not like to play independently.  My almost four year old is not the type to go off into a room and play with a toy by herself.  She likes company, and if you ask her why she does not like to play alone, she will tell you that she does not like to be lonely.  How can I argue with that? There are personalities in this world that are more social, and enjoy the presence of others.

In truth I should feel good that my child wants to play with me, she likes me!  Yay, I am doing something right!  Not to mention the fact that this too is just a stage that will come to an end, and won't I feel like an ass if I let this phase pass by and then it is too late?  She will not want to play "Princess" with me forever.

As much as I love playing with my daughter, the reality of the situation is that we do own a house that requires some attention.  Cooking, cleaning, laundry, organizing...blah, blah, blah.  So after much deliberation I have come up with some ideas on how to solve this dilemma.  Main idea here is that I do not want to hurt my daughter's feelings, I hate saying, "No, I do not want to play with you."  I feel like that is offending.

Here is my list, ways I get things done without using the words, "No, I do not want to play with you:"

1.  I pretend I am "Cinderella of the Castle" and the evils make me do all of these chores all by myself :(  My daughter then saves the day by helping me do the work.  We pretend to be princesses who need to finish their work before they can play.  Worked every time so far!
 *This scenario can be changed to fit the like of your own child.  You can be superheroes that have to save the land from the mess monsters, or house doctors who have to make the sick house feel better.*

2.  I compromise.  I tell her I can play for some amount of time, then I need that same amount of time to do "Mommy Work."  This is a great way to teach the balance of relationships, you are after all how your children learn to create their own accords.

3.  I do housework during her quiet time.  This can be challenging if you have more than one at home, you have to bank on them both being quiet at the same time...YIKES!

4.  My daughter has a chore chart.  This in detail is a new blog post on its own, but in short, she has to do two chores a day and gets paid for her work.  I conveniently make her chores convenient for me :)

5.  We make dinner together, she loves helping in the kitchen.  There are so many kitchen tasks for little hands, and she is learning so much.  And of course, the quality time is invaluable <3

I am not claiming to have this whole clean house, totally organized thing down to a science.  There are plenty of times when I should have mopped the floor yesterday.  We also have eggs for dinner a lot.  However, I can say that most of the time we have things (slightly) under control :) 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

I am slightly sad that Summer is ending  but I love the Fall and cannot contain my enthusiasm for Fall foods.  My taste buds are screaming for pumpkin, squash, apples, and s'mores. 

 I definitely associate flavors and seasons, being a Foodie will do that to you.  I am ready to put aside my cheeseburger and welcome a slice of pumpkin pie.  I started fulfilling my Fall foods craving tonight at dinner, and of course I had to start out the season appropriately.  Butternut squash soup was the first food to hit my flavor palate this year and I am not sorry.  By far one of my favorite Fall foods and soups. 

Here is my basic recipe:

Pre-heat oven to 400.  Halve two Butternut squashes lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Lie them cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet and add about a 1/4 inch of water to the baking sheet.  Bake for about 40 minutes, or until fork tender.

(To cut down on time, I baked the squash the day before, let them cool a bit, and refrigerated them).

2 cooked butternut squash 
2 Tbls olive oil
1 vidalia onion diced
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 carton of chicken broth (about 32 oz)
a dallop of light sour cream 

Heat oil in sauce pan over medium heat.  Add onion and let soften for about 3 minutes.  Add garlic, thyme, parsley, and rosemary.  Saute for additional 3 minutes.  Remove the skin from the cooked butternut squash and cut the squash in to chunks.  Add to the pot and stir with onion and garlic.  Add the broth and cover.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Using a hand blender, puree until smooth.  (You can use a blender and work in batches as well).
Ladle in to bowls and top with a dallop of light sour cream.

Feel free to let the creativity flow with this versatile soup, I always do.  Sometimes I add pumpkin seeds as a topping, I've added apples to the mix, changed the seasonings around (nutmeg and cinnamon work well), and replaced the sour cream with greek yogurt.  

Enjoy! Yummmmmm....

Friday, September 12, 2014

Every Day Heroes

There are people we think of when the word "hero" is mentioned.  Police officers, firefighters, soldiers, and people who sacrifice themselves for a greater good are the images that typically come to mind.  Of course I agree, how could you not.  These individuals risk their own lives to save, improve, and protect others.  They should be honored and respected for all they do.

Today, as I did the typical duties of a stay at home mom, I was a bit enlightened.  Walking into my exercise class I saw the faces of women who live and work in my area.  They do not run in to burning buildings or capture hardened criminals, but they do care for, shape, and guide the lives of others.  Today I thought, women really are everyday heroes, albeit, different from the above mentioned figures, but the everyday things I see women do is absolutely inspiring.

There are women who regularly attend my exercise class with serious injuries, just recovering from surgery.  There are moms who recently sent their first child away to school and miss them intensely.  Moms who spend their days caring for their home and children, then spend the night working while their family sleeps safely at home.  I meet women who are pregnant with second and third babies running around the playground with their kids.  I know moms who spend their only free minutes volunteering their time to help less fortunate people in the community.

Besides the unrepresentative number of amazing tasks I mentioned, we do these while lacking months of sleep.  Women work that hard to care for their families regardless of what might be happening in the rest of their lives.  We are women with very personal stories who put it all aside to create, help, and enrich the lives of others.

We easily adjust ourselves as needed to fit the current role of the day, from business professional to house cleaner to nurse to chef.  We become teachers when our kids come home from school with homework, then wives when our husbands come home from work.

There are times I think I am jealous of my husband, sometimes being a man seems so much easier.  If they need to make a doctor appointment or get a haircut, they just go on the way home from work.  Being a man allows you to be just a professional when you are at work and then a husband and father when you get home.

I thought I wanted to be a man, so I can put on nice clothes every morning and head out the door, coffee in hand and just one job to think of.  They get to shower alone everyday, and listen to whatever radio station they want to listen to in their cars.  So many perks of manhood, how could you not be jealous?

But after my realization today I no longer want to be jealous of these small manly bonuses.  I am proud to be a part of the hero gender.  The gender that wholeheartedly cares for their families and takes on the roles of many to get the job done.  I love being a part of the feminine gender so that I can easily transform from a responsible mom in to a giggling best friend.  I am so proud of women and everything they do every day to make life special.  Women are my every day heroes.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stop Hating

This Is Me

I already know I annoy some people, I must.  I am back to my pre-baby weight five months after giving birth, I find the time to exercise everyday, and my kids are always well groomed.  I also spontaneously decided to take a writing course at Duke University requiring about ten hours of school work a week.  During pre-school orientation I volunteered myself to be the class mom and was super excited to do so.   Besides all of that, I blog,  and care for my house in a meticulous manner. To top it off, I always have a smile on my face. I am not bragging, I am acknowledging the reasons why you hate me.  I am THAT mom; the one who turns her kids food into smiley faces and remembers to label all of their school belongings.

I just want you to know, I do not do these things to irk you.  When I smile at you, I am not judging you.  I am just nice (I know, now you want to hate me even more).  I do what I do because I am a doer.  I like to have a lot of things on my plate at once because I enjoy being busy.

  What you do not realize about me is that sometimes I am jealous of you.  Your ability to relax is actually a skill I am working on gaining.  I am sure that sounds ridiculous and quite frankly I know that is hard to believe but,  I am the person who sits on her hands just to stop fidgeting.

 So, here is the point of my posting.  Rather than judge each other, maybe we can all learn from one another.  Perhaps I can teach you how to accomplish more tasks while you help me calm the F down.  In fact, the  more involved I become with my children's social life the more moms I meet that I want to learn things from.  We should all stop judging and instead make an effort to help each other and learn from each other :)