Month: January 2014

Food Culture

I found a great cookbook called The Fresh 20. I’m always looking for new ways to serve healthier fare and chicken, Mexican and pasta are big winners in our house, but eating the same foods week after week gets old fast. Melissa Lanz serves up some fabulous looking dishes made simply that I think even the pickiest kids will love.  And her pictures are gorgeous.

Throughout the book she interviews various families and surveys them on their family food culture. I loved the idea right away and thought I would share our family food culture.

Our Family Food Culture

Special or Restricted diet: None

Who Cooks Most Meals: My husband is the real chef, but I cook most meals

Favorite Family Meal:  anything Mexican

Least Favorite Family Meal: Salmon

Strict Rule: No Soda

Indulgence: Homemade cookies and banana bread

Best Advice For Health: Treat yourself to everything, just use moderation.  Eat REAL food!

Hardest Treat To Give Up: Biscoff Spread and Nutella straight from the jar

On The No-Eat List: Cucumbers and persimmons

Think about your own food culture and what it says about your family.  Sit down tonight with the kids, discuss the questions and you just might learn something about each other.  If nothing else, it gets everyone talking about food.  What could be better than that?

(I am in no way affiliated or being paid for this post.  I’m just a fan of the book.  To learn more, click the image above to visit her website.)

Good Boy

am spencer

This is Spencer, our Golden Retriever who passed away about a year ago. He was a good dog, docile with the kids, tolerating ear tugs and smacks on the head. He would knock them over with his tail in excitement. He lived a long life, but was plagued with arthritis and bad hips. At 14 years old, his time came to an end. I find myself thinking of him almost every day, especially now. He loved the snow. He would play and roll in it like a puppy. It was a joy to see an old dog get so excited.

He was my husband’s dog when we met. I was a cat person, not much interested in dogs and Spencer was no different. He had dog breath that no breath mint could tame. He loved eating condoms, maxi pads and dirty diapers. He could over turn the garbage can in seconds. He tripped me in the middle of the night on my way to the bathroom. He barked two minutes after I got the baby to sleep and wouldn’t stop. He tried to tackle whoever came to the door to give them kisses. He peed on my father-in-law’s shoes out of sheer excitement. Despite all these things, he grew on me. He became part of our family, just the three of us. When the babies were born, he became even more ingrained in our family tapestry. It was really hard to say goodbye to him. After all, he had been with my husband and I since the beginning. He was a part of “us”.

The kids miss him terribly. He is still included in family drawings and pictures.  M. cries some nights talking about him, wondering where her old dog has gone. She worries she will never see him again, never get to hug his neck or smell his fur. It breaks my heart not to be able to console her or tell her with confidence she will see him again. We talk about him running in Heaven, young again, pain-free. In our minds he is swimming in a warm lake, chasing his cat brothers that went to Heaven before him and munching on pig ears to his heart’s content. I try to paint a picture in her young mind of peace and happiness where Spencer is still very much “alive” and waiting for all of us. Cynthia Rylant’s book, Dog Heaven, was in heavy rotation around here for a while, until it got too depressing to read anymore. Back to Fancy Nancy and lighter literary fare.

We can never replace him, but we are talking about adopting another dog. I miss the companionship and security a dog brings. I miss watching the girls walking a dog down the street twice their size. I miss the smell of dog bones. I really miss a happy face and tail to greet me when I come home from school drop-off or the grocery store, as if I’ve been gone for years. I scour petfinder.com almost daily, hoping the right dog for us will jump off the page at me. Sometimes when you know, you know.  I hope Spencer knew how much he was loved.  And I pray he is overseeing our search, guiding us in the right direction with the wags of his tail.

Stir-Crazy, Snow & Sniffles

am winter

Ah, the snow. Just when it melts off the ground and my driveway is no longer an ice rink, it comes down again, harder and faster than before. The children love it! They could stay outside until their little noses turned blue and their fingers were numb, but I hate the cold. It’s beautiful to look at, but that is where my enjoyment ends.

Add to the frigid temperatures three small house-bound children with colds and coughs and you’ve got a recipe for madness. We are bored. And antsy. And tired of one another. I am done with the snow and -10 degree wind chills and the putting on of coats and hats and mittens and scarves. Spring, please come early. That is all.

I Can’t Do that Now

Here is a sweet little list of all the things I did yesterday instead of writing:

  1. Checked my calendar
  2. Took a few pictures
  3. Downloaded above mentioned pictures
  4. Cleaned out my iTunes library
  5. Called my husband
  6. Called my parents
  7. Folded laundry
  8. Ate a few french macarons
  9. Drank way too many cups of coffee
  10. Texted a few friends
  11. Read a good book (The Read~Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease)
  12. Flipped through the four magazines sitting in my mailbox (Martha Stewart was my fave)
  13. Gave the kids a midday bath
  14. Email, Pinterest, Facebook (Damn you all!)
  15. Cut some coupons
  16. Laundry
  17. Straightened the house
  18. Organized the bookcase
  19. Ate a few more french macarons
  20. Killed a stink bug  (I’m terrified of most bugs, so this takes a while)
  21. Played tag with the kids
  22. Walked around the house looking for something to do other than writing

Today is a new day.  And all the French macarons are gone.

I Know Everything

Photo Credit, David Niblack

Sitting with my daughter at lunch, she asks how God made our hair.  I didn’t have an answer for her.

“How did HE put our bones together?” she asked urgently.

“I don’t know.”

Some sort of magic and miracles, I wanted to say, but she went on.

“I bet he stacked our bones together and then put our skin on.  We were born naked right?  Because we can’t have clothes on in Mommy’s tummy because our clothes gets all slimy.”

She smiled and skipped away, happy with our little exchange.  Moments like these remind me I don’t have all the answers and that’s ok.  My children force me to stop, slow down, listen, question and wonder about all the things around me.  When is the last time you wondered how your hair came to be?  When is the last time you took time to just think about how big and grand everything is and how very small we are?  Whether you believe in a higher power or not, the world is very puzzling and peculiar and magnificent.  We need to put down our electronics for a day and take notice.

As a mother I am scrambling all day.  I don’t have time to stop and sit still with just my thoughts, contemplating my life, my blessings, my reason for being here.  Or do I?

Look around.  Find the wonder.  Just sit and be.

Sage Advice from a 7-year-old

Photo by fatboyke

I rush around most days trying to get it all done.  I wake up in the morning and don’t slow down until everyone is in bed.  It makes for a long day and one tired mama.  Stress is my shadow, lurking wherever I am, waiting to reach out and grab me by the throat.  I have a hard time staying zenlike, even though numerous parenting books claim your children pick up on your stress and start to carry it as their own.  Not only am I stressing myself out, but the kids are feeling it too.  More mother guilt.  More stress.  It’s a vicious cycle.

One evening I was hurrying to get it all done, the invisible list in my head keeping track; finish the dishes, make dinner, change the laundry that’s dying a slow death in the washing machine, clean up the squinkies the baby can choke on, answer the phone, change a diaper, clean up the crayons that are now dumped in a pile in the middle of the kitchen floor, help B with her math homework, go pee, set the table, clean up the house before my husband comes home, and on and on.  I was at a breaking point, drowning in all my to do’s.  I knew I had a real problem when my 7-year-old said to me, “Mom! Relax.  Slow down.”  Her words and gentle tone took me by surprise, wise beyond her years, she was right.  It was just that simple.  I needed to RELAX and SLOW DOWN.

My husband can do this easily.  Coming home from the grocery yesterday he was driving at a slow, steady pace.

“Why are you driving so slow?”  I asked.

“I rush around all week,”  was his simple reply.

“How do you do that?  Just turn it on and off?  I rush day and night, it never ends and I don’t know how to stop rushing,”  my voice escalating.

“You don’t know how to let loose,”  he said.  It stung a bit, but I knew what he said was true.

This year I vowed to work on managing my stress and along with it, my tendency towards perfectionism.  It’s tough, but I’m making some headway.  This blog helps.  Writing, pouring it all out on the page, a purging of sorts, helps.  I meditate and pray in the shower.  It’s the only place I find tranquility.  Some of my best ideas come to me there.  Someone needs to invent waterproof pens and paper.  I’d be their most loyal customer.

I’m starting to incorporate yoga and meditation into the kid’s bedtime routine.  Sometimes we just climb in bed and read books and snuggle, but if it’s been a particularly hard day for anyone, we do a few easy yoga poses and calm down.  I wasn’t sure how my two daughters would react to it, but they love it.  They ask to do yoga now and I’ve even worked a simple meditation into the mix, which comes in handy when they are upset.  When they are extra teary, not feeling well or just out of sorts, I remind them to take deep belly breathes and relax.  It seems to be working a little magic here and there, so I plan on sticking with it.

As for me, I’m simply praying for peace and fortitude to get through the day.  Tomorrow I get to start fresh.  It’s a new chance to relax and slow down.

Happy New Me

Niehard-1091

I hate New Year’s resolutions.  There is so much pressure to be perfect and keep them all year long. I usually don’t make any, but this year I made a few goals for myself.  Goals just sounds more doable to me, so here we go.

1.  Yell less.  This will be a tough one as any parent to small children knows, yelling happens to all of us.  Having three children under the age of 7 running around underfoot would drive any sane person to the brink and on any given day in our house someone is yelling.  I’m not proud of that fact, but my GOAL this year is to minimize it.  To say I will stop yelling all together would be a false promise.  Less is more. That applies to yelling, right?!

2.  Exercise!  What a cliché.  I cringe even typing the word, but it must be done.  I gained and lost 50lbs with each of my pregnancies and lost all the weight slowly. (Yeah breastfeeding!) But now the hard work of toning up is at hand and I hate it.  Tracy Anderson is staring at me now from a stack of exercises ripped from a magazine.  She looks so happy holding those weights and lunging.  Maybe I can do that too.  Maybe.

3.  Focus more on my marriage.  This is a personal one.  Since the baby is a little more mobile and less needy, I can finally breathe for more than a minute without him attached to my leg.  My focus on the children has consumed me for so long, now I’m really missing my husband and our time together.  We’ve been doing way too much reminiscing and not nearly enough new memory making.  This year I hope to add to our bank of moments. (Cheesy, but oh so true.)

4. Eat better food.  We try to eat as much organic, local, clean foods that we can afford.  But there have been days when it’s easier to slide through the drive through (oh, the mother guilt on that one) or pick up a pizza when I’m just too tired to think about cooking.  I’m lucky enough to be married to a chef. (Score!) He is a master in the kitchen, but who wants to come home from work after cooking all day and do more work?  He usually has to suffer through a dinner I’ve made.  I’m getting quite good if I do say so myself.  I have a binder overflowing with recipes to try.  I’ll post a few of the winners here.  Luckily, organic foods are becoming easier to find and much more affordable.  We use a local service called Green BEAN Delivery that brings organic, local produce right to your front door.  It is on the pricey side, but well worth the health benefits of eating food free of pesticides and GMO’s.  I’m even going to jump on the green smoothie bandwagon.  I’ll let you know if that goal sticks.

5. Write. Write. Write. Write. Write. Write. Write. Write. Write. Submit. Wait. Repeat in excruciating detail. Enough said.