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I’m a cook.

Have you ever seen the movie “What About Bob?”  It’s one of my family’s favorites.  Never was neurotic so hilarious and cute, even!  One of the best parts is when Bob, who is terrified of everything, goes sailing with friends.  The only way he can do it, of course, is literally strapped to the mast of the boat, but his joy at having accomplished something and overcome a fear, even in this manner, is so intense that he yells out “I’m sailing!  I’m a sailor!  I sail!!!”

This scene came to mind the other day as I was reveling in a cooking accomplishment:  a tasty, juicy, flavorful, and husband-approved meatloaf.  I plated this and just stood back to take it in.

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My meatloaf moment.

What was I taking in?  Not just a meatloaf.  Not just a gourmet meatloaf (and it was).  I was taking in a special moment in my life, a moment brought to me by a meatloaf.  The moment I finally let myself be a COOK.

You see, I’ve always been interested in cooking, because the truth is, I love food.  Wait, let me rephrase.  I looooooooooooooooooooooooooooove food.  But in my family, my mom is the cook.  Like, the grand-champion cook (and that is no joke; she’s literally won blue ribbons for her food).  And in case mom isn’t available, my brother-in-law Garrett is the cook.  I mean, he knows what every utensil in Williams-Sonoma is used for!  So I guess, in my own way of thinking, there was no room for me to be a cook in the family.  And as I think about it now, what silliness is that?

Also, once upon a time and not so long ago, I was a terrible cook.  Really, truly awful.  So terrible, in fact, that I actually once lost a couple of friends due to an undercooked lasagna.  (Yes, of course there’s more to the story than that, but the bad food really did play a role!)  In the intervening years, I’ve regained those friendships and grown up considerably (thank God for maturity and forgiveness), but I’ve also grown in culinary knowledge, experience, and confidence.

I guess it was bound to happen anyway, because if you keep at something, eventually improvement is inevitable!  But the growth really began to happen in January of 2012, when my husband went to the ER one night with chest pains and our whole world was rocked.  Turns out, the pains were due to high blood pressure, and even though his cardiovascular system tested beautifully, we were told that if he’d had a blockage with that blood pressure, he would definitely have experienced a heart attack that night.  So, it became abundantly clear to me that it was my job to help Marty keep his cardiovascular system healthy, and I knew even before the doctor coached us that the key to doing so is observing a good diet.  Simple enough, right?

Oh I wish.  How about the opposite of simple?  It seems the more I read, the more I didn’t understand, and the more I researched, the more sources I found to educate me, and so forth.  Hello, Pandora’s box.  Without going on endlessly about it, the gist of it is this:  There is so much misinformation out there, and a lot of it is due to our good ole government (the FDA still touts the food pyramid, even though medicine is showing more and more that our dependence on grains is what’s making us obese and killing us!).  Not to mention the  absolutely toxic products on the shelves at the store that until we know better, we’ll just keep buying and consuming without batting an eyelash because they wouldn’t sell us something *bad*, would they???  (Oh yes, they would — it’s called chemical dependence, and manufacturers would love nothing more than to have you as a customer for life.)  See, I’m going on about it…but I’ll rein it in.  Essentially, I’ve scoured the Internet, I’ve watched documentaries, I’ve engaged in discussions with doctors.  And as it turns out, there’s no real trick to it at all — it actually is simple (though the path to that conclusion was anything but!).  The answer is whole food, balanced on what our bodies need (water and fiber first — that means veggies, kids!).  The more “whole” we eat, the healthier we are.  But walking away from processed food has been one of the toughest journeys I could ever have signed up for, and I didn’t even know what I was getting into when I took the first step!

Fast-forward to now, a little over a year later, and I’m thinking differently, shopping differently, and cooking SO MUCH differently.  Which brings me to Sunday afternoon, when I plated that meatloaf meal and I realized that not only am I cooking whole foods (nary a processed item on the plate!), I’m cooking them *well*.  And I let myself have that little moment of success.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m far, far, far away from doing this perfectly.  I still have guilty pleasure items, like that darned Hungry Jack pancake mix.  And neither do I tout an all-or-nothing lifestyle; I don’t have a single problem with junking it up every now and then.  Have some barbeque chips on a Saturday; have a donut on Sunday morning (but not 3!).  But do not live like these are actual food choices — they are snacks and indulgences and should be treated as such.  Make good choices 90% of the time and your body will show it.  At least, that’s where my philosophy is right now.  I’m allowing myself more room to grow and learn and change.  I mean, that’s what life is all about!

But I now know this:  I’m cooking!  I’m a COOK!  🙂

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Whole lotta random

I can’t believe it’s been more than 2 weeks since I posted, especially since I was all up and determined to post a LOT.  Guess that’s what happens with well-made plans?  Anyway, I’ve had lots of various things rolling around in my head, and I don’t have the energy to make a cohesive, topical post, so here’s a brain dump.

  • I promise this isn’t going to become a food blog, but I have to share a couple of Pinterest successes I had over the weekend:
    • BBQ potatoes, named such not because they feature BBQ sauce, but because the cook likes to pair these taters with her favorite BBQ dishes.  These are very good, but next time I’ll use Idaho potatoes instead of goldens, I’ll use less broth (I got a bit carried away), and my cooking time was a definite 50+ minutes as opposed to the 35-40 that’s suggested in the recipe (but that might have to do with the type of potato?).
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Here’s how mine turned out!

    • Lasagna roll-ups.  I appreciate that this is a meatless dish, because I get kinda tired of always arranging a meal around meat!  I loved the spinach and cheese flavors, and I was so happy to see my kids gobbling up a veggie.
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Next time I will be more careful about covering the noodles with the marinara, because the uncovered parts tend to get too done, almost crispy.
  • I swear kids know the exact instant you are taking a minute for yourself.  I’m sure no one would believe me, but I think Lucy hears the pod pop into the Keurig, my finger hit “Brew,” and then she does her business like a Pavlovian dog.  I can’t even count how many times I’ll go to sit down with a hot cup of coffee and I smell a funk in the room and have to tend to it, only to come back to a lukewarm cup of coffee and the temptation to slip into a funk myself.
  • Products.  I want to talk about products!  I love getting good recommendations for items that work for other people, so give me your suggestions and I’ll share the following:
    • Urban Decay’s Naked 2 eyeshadow palette.  I got this for Christmas from my Hubs, and I have fun playing with it every single time I get ready.  It’s not cheap but I can tell it’s going to last me a good, long time.  There are a bunch of tutorials online that you can follow to create different looks, but I also like just experimenting.  If you want getting-ready time to be fun again, I highly recommend investing in this makeup!
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The purple-y/plum and silver shades are my favorites, but EVERYTHING works. It’s magic!
    • Scarves.  I am by NO means a fashionista (who can afford to be?), but I do love to follow trends wherever I can, and scarves are simply the *easiest* way to update a wardrobe and spruce up old favorites in your closet.  I think I got this one at Target for $10?  And I just LOVE it.
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Apologies to my Facebook friends; this is my profile picture and I’m sure y’all are tired of looking at it!

    • More for you…Best pancake mix?  Hungry Jack Complete Buttermilk makes the fluffiest, stand-up-to-syrup pancakes every time.  Best cleaning aid?  Swiffer dusters.  I love that I can throw those puppies away when I’m done!  Best cheap red wine?  Barefoot pinot noir.
    • Okay, now it’s your turn!  Please share your tried-and-true trusties with me.
  • I have a couple of writing projects at hand, and even though I’ve been working on them mentally for several days now, I’m having a block when it comes to sitting down and actually writing.  I keep making excuses for myself, like “the kids just really wore me out today,” but I’ve written in the midst of kid chaos before and I know it.  I hate when I encounter self-stubbornness.  Anybody know a good cure?

Well, that’s about all I have at the moment.  Maybe now that I’ve put up a completely fluff post, I can get down to the serious business of my writing projects and sharing some deeper thoughts here on my blog.  Thanks to everyone who reads here — I really appreciate it!

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Checkin’ in on all those goals

A week or so ago, I was Skype-ing (new favorite thing) with my dear friend Leslie, and I asked her if she’d read my list of goals.  She nodded and said, “B, that list just exhausted me.”  I laughed, because it’s so true.  Overachievers Anonymous card-carrying member, right here.  I explained to her, though, that I feel super-duper compelled this year to really get things done.  I can’t explain it further, except to say that I’m staring 40 squarely in the eye (okay, I have a buffer but it doesn’t *feel* like I do) and enough is enough on delaying those good things and experiences in my life that I’ve always wanted to embrace.  Yes, I’m a stay-at-home mom, and yes, this occupies a radical portion of my waking hours, but NO, this doesn’t mean that I can’t attack a list of goals with gusto!  However.  And there’s a big HOWEVER there…I did take Leslie’s hint-hint advice and decided that I need to also build in some restful time.  Time during naps and time after the kids have gone to bed and time just during the day to not tackle a darned thing on any to-do list or goals list or a list of any kind.  Time to just sit and breathe and soak it in.  You see, *this* is why I have the friends that I have.  They know me, and they say, Hey, calm down there, Becky.  Maybe take it down a notch?  Yeah for good friends!

Anyway, so I’ve been trying to be mindful of both my goals AND my need for non-goal-getting time.  I’ve always said the best lives reflect a state of balance, and it’s a good thing to practice what I preach, yes?  So even though I’m not as far on my list as I probably otherwise would be by now, that’s okay.  But, let’s check in, shall we?  Progress check numero uno:

  1. (#4, Read at least 2 books a month):  Check.  In January, I read the first two books in the Hunger Games series, and I’m gobbling up the last installment right now.  I also started two other books, so I’m well ahead of the game here.
  2. (#5, Get on a good cleaning schedule):  Hmm.  How to say this?  I’ve tried the thing where I spread my chores out over the whole week.  Not fond of it.  I feel like I’m ALWAYS slaving on my house.  I’ve also tried the thing where I squish up all the chores into Thursdays and Fridays.  Not fond of it.  It’s super-exhausting to clean the house from top to bottom, do all the laundry, buy all the groceries, and be a mom to my preschoolers all at the same time.  Summary:  Still haven’t figured this one out.  Sigh.
  3. (#6, Blog more):  I’m here, aren’t I?  Ha.
  4. (#11, Host playdates once a month):  YES.  One down for January, one down for February (and the month is young!).  Check!
  5. (#19, Potty-training):  I’m going to give myself a break on every single other goal, because this one has been MET.  Wooooooooooooot!!!  Will is doing so great.  He’s only had a couple accidents since he really got the hang of it, and those were situations out of his routine.  I guess that makes him like 95% potty-trained, but I’m giving us the gold star anyway.  Huge, major, most fantabulous accomplishment EVER.
  6. (#20, Saving money):  I’ve been clipping my coupons and *using* them whenever I can, and during my last two trips to Target, I saved $14 and then $12, respectively.  Not too shabby.  I know it’s not much, but it adds up.  Plus, I’ve set aside two earned $5 gift cards for Christmas.  I’m going to save all of them until December, and I’m hoping to get well past $100 of “free” money!
  7. (#23, Force myself to do more “kid” time):  I’m kinda proud here as well.  Just this week, I got out the crayons one day and colored with my kiddos for a bit, and then yesterday I got out the Play-doh and helped get my kids going on punching out shapes and such.  I have a long way to go here, but I’m glad I made these steps (instead of Facebooking, doing the dishes, etc.).

So that’s my progress update.  I didn’t mention the ones where I’m still at square one, but I’d say this is a good showing for the first week of February?  See, Les, I’m being reasonable!  😉

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Cookies and Calzones

Two posts in one day…crazy, I know!  I’m going to have to file this week in the “success breeds confidence” annals because I seem to have the Midas touch in my kitchen this week.   I’m creating gastronomical gold!

Okay, maybe that’s a stretch.  But, I seem to be doing better than average, and I’m gonna run with it, eh?  I wanted to share two recipes with y’all.  The first is one I found on Pinterest (duh), so I’m just going to link to the recipe but also show you some pictures of my results:

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Snickerdoodles, aka, a stack of happiness

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She loved them. In fact, I had to cut her off!

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At first he asked, Where’s the chocolate chips? But the “cinnamon cookies” grew on him ’til he was asking for more!

The next recipe was also Pinterest-inspired (duh), but I needed things to be easy tonight, so I improvised.  Following this tutorial, I made this:

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Ham and mozzarella calzones.
I left it in just a wee bit too long, but the taste was fabulous!

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The ham and cheese was so gooey-good, especially dipped in the marinara.

Ingredients:
Pillsbury pizza crust (I know there’s a whole-wheat version; I’m going to try this next time)
several slices of deli ham, cut into strips
1-2 cups mozzarella cheese (just depends on how cheesy you like it)
1 egg
jar of your favorite marinara sauce (I LOVE Bertolli)

Instructions:
Heat your oven to 400-425 degrees (follow the instructions on the crust tube for your specific pan).  Spray the cookie sheet with Pam; lay the dough in a rectangle.  Put slices of ham down the middle, then top with cheese.  Following the tutorial, using kitchen shears, cut strips of dough and then fold over the toppings in alternating pattern.  Make an egg wash (egg beaten with water) and brush the top of the dough.  Bake for 10-15 minutes(?) until golden brown (I’m still not sure on the correct time because our oven is super-hot and it’s always a shot in the dark the first time I make a new recipe!).  Slice while still hot (so the cheese oozes!) and serve with marinara in a ramekin.

 

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Goals

In my last post, I promised to share my goals for 2013.  And I warned y’all, I mean business this year!  Even if I don’t accomplish all that I list here, I’m going to give it my darnedest.  I’m going to TRY!  So without further ado, here goes (in no particular order):

  1. Plant a garden.  Since we got married, Marty and I have lived in a townhouse, a loft, and a condo — none of which had outdoor space for our use.  We now live in a tiny rental house but hey, it has a YARD!  And we are allowed to use a certain area for gardening, and I’m so STOKED to do this.  I’m thinking I want to try my hand at tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, green onions, cucumbers, zucchini, green and red peppers, and…not sure what else.  I will take any/all suggestions on this!
  2. Create a vanity table area in our bedroom.  This has honestly been a dream of mine since I was old enough to form thoughts.  My grandma had one, my mom had one (and doesn’t now, but I miss hers!), and for heaven’s sake, I WANT ONE.  My grandma always had her lotions and jewelry and picture frames and just special items on display.  My mom had the same, including her perfume (Anais Anais) on a lace doily, and a blue hairdryer tucked in the right drawer (the things you remember from childhood!).  I don’t mind getting ready in the bathroom, but I’ve always wanted this special place to sit and get dolled up, applying makeup and curling my hair while listening to music, being surrounded by fresh flowers and pictures of my beloved and my babies.  I’ve pinned several ideas on Pinterest, but I love looking at this image for inspiration:
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    Now, this is way too girly — even for me — but it has all the right components:  soft lighting (but still strong enough for makeup application), feminine colors, a great chair, and so forth.  I can’t wait to get this project completed!
  3. Get a part-time job.  One that I really, really feel good about doing.  Marty and I have discussed this and I’d like some extra money for doing things, like the project I just mentioned.  However, I really believe that my primary job is to be at home, raising my kids and taking care of my house, so whatever job I get has to feel worth the sacrifice of time away, and it must be limited in hours to what I feel comfortable with.  I realize that this is not just a tall order, it is a skyscraper.  But — I’m on the hunt and thankfully, I’m in no hurry.  I have the luxury of being picky so I’m going to be!
  4. Read at least 2 books a month.  I’m in a little book club and we tend to read about one book a month, so the other one shall be up to me (although I have choosing power for the book club, too).  I think 24 books in a year is about right for my schedule, though I wish I had time to read far, far more.
  5. Get on a good cleaning schedule with my house and stick to it.  I have already devoted hours upons hours in 2013 toward this goal.  My thought was to get my house sparkling and organized from top to bottom, then maintain it on a daily/weekly schedule, as written out in my dayplanner.  And can I say that I’m kinda proud of myself for the progress I’ve made?  My pantry and a couple of closets are organized; I have to finish in the kids’ room and the master bathroom, but I’m more than halfway there with the overall organizing.  I’m almost completely done with the major clean, so starting next week I’m going to begin my “maintaining” effort.
  6. Write blog posts as often as I can, and stay current reading my friends’ blogs and other blogs that inspire me (and don’t shame me or make me feel inadequate!).
  7. Go on a date with Marty at least once a month, and twice if we can swing it (and get childcare).  Between Christmas and New Year’s, my parents offered to watch our kids for us one night so we could “run away.”  Well, we ran straight to the theatre to watch “Les Mis” and oh. my. stars., was it an amazing experience.  I bawled like a baby into my popcorn napkin and was a sloppy mess by the time the movie finished, but I could honestly have sat through another screening immediately after.  If Hugh Jackman doesn’t win an Oscar for his performance, I might boycott the Academy Awards for the rest of my life and unto eternity, Amen.  But I digress.  Marty and I had just the best time, and we really love having the chance to focus on each other and hold hands and just be in love.  Big priority here, date nights!
  8. Be dedicated and stay committed to our financial plans.  Which are a bit loosey-goosey at the moment, but they do consist of paying off our debts and saving money (duh).  We are still working out the specifics, but we have already saved more money than usual for any given month, and we’re about to pay off a debt that’s been bugging us.  Yay!
  9. Learn to sew.  This is a biggie.  My friend needs a partner for a sewing class, and I’m still debating it.  I’d like to learn in a class, but I don’t want to spend the money, especially when my mom has a machine and could teach me, but she’s so busy and kinda short on spare time.  So, like I said, still debating.  But I see so many great — and supposedly easy — projects on Pinterest:  a Christmas tree skirt, dresses and jumpers for Lucy, skirts for me, doll baby clothes, aprons, table linens.  Yeah, I really want to do this!
  10. Host tea parties.  That’s right, tea parties!  I’m growing a collection of pretty china, and I love getting together with girlfriends, and remember, now I have a yard.  I would love to set up a table, brew some tea and coffee, make some fun little desserts and a fruit salad, and have some girls over.  Maybe girls who don’t necessarily know each other?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ll be watching a period-piece film or show (Downton Abbey, anyone?) and think, I really wish I could live like that.  Well, this is an idea I had to insert some old-fashioned elegance and beauty and fellowship in my life.  (Let me know if you’d like to come to one; I’ll put you on my list!)
  11. Host playdates, at least one a month, for my kids.  And of course, go to playdates as often as we’re invited.  I love playdates.  It’s probably my favorite thing about being a mom of kiddos this age.
  12. Host dinner parties for other couples/families.  We’ve been living in our house since October, but we have yet to invite anyone over.  Honestly, it’s just taken me awhile to get things situated, but I think we’re there.  It’s time.
  13. Be healthy.  Lose a few more pounds (not obsessively) or at least maintain my current weight.  Do this by eating good foods and taking the kids on walks in their wagon.  When I have time, do more reading/research on eating well (it’s becoming a pet subject of mine; for example, I’m interested in the raw foods aspect of a healthy diet.  I notice that I feel better when I’ve had an apple or an orange or a raw carrot during the day’s eating.).
  14. As part of #13, get back into yoga!  My sister Katie and I used to take yoga classes together and we always had so much fun, and it was a great way to build in sisterly time with her into my schedule.  If you’re reading this, Katie, you’ve been notified.  🙂
  15. Establish and discipline myself into keeping a good bedtime and awakening routine.  Maybe this is too much of a true confession, but I let my kids wake me up in the mornings, and boy, do I really abuse bedtime.  I’m a night owl but it’s sort of spiraling out of control at the moment because I’m staying up until 1 and sometimes even 2 a.m. (what can I say?  I like me time!).  However, in an effort to not force a zombie mom on my kids in the mornings, I want to actually (gasp) set an alarm and make coffee and get the day going before they wake up.  I know this won’t happen every day, but hey, it’s a goal.
  16. Become more active in our small-but-growing church.  We haven’t joined it yet, and we’re not 100% sure that we will, but for right now it’s meeting our needs and we’re enjoying it, and I think there’s no better way of figuring out if a church is a good fit than by pitching in and/or getting more involved.  There’s a Bible study I’ve been thinking about attending, and I feel I should help out in the toddlers’ class once a month or so.
  17. Keep on top of my kids’ photo albums.  I compile a photo album for each year of their life (2 for the first year since there are just SO many pictures), and right now I’m almost caught up with Lucy’s and only 2 behind on Will.  I love doing them and I love getting them at a deep discount by checking for Shutterfly deals online.
  18. Give my kids really great birthday parties.  This is a goal of mine every year.  I hate spending a whole lot of money so I start planning in January (both of them have summer birthdays), so that way I can pick up items here and there instead of having a huge expense all at once.  This year I’m planning a rainbow birthday party for Lucy, but I’m undecided on Will’s.  Maybe helicopters, or Thomas?
  19. Complete and begin potty-training, for Will and Lucy, respectively.  Will is really coming along but there’s still a bit of a gap between him and the finish line.  Lucy is very interested but not exactly cooperative at this point.  I’d love for them both to be out of diapers by this time next year!
  20. Continue to save money, wherever, however, whenever I can.  This kinda goes along with #8, but it’s a bit different because it’s all in the amount of effort I can put into it during any given week.  Sometimes I feel like clipping coupons and following ads and price-comparing, and sometimes it’s just too much energy to spare.  I’d like to do it more, so again, that’s my goal, but I’m allowing myself wiggle room on this one.
  21. Get more painting/decorating done in my house.  This one’s a bit tricky, because anything we paint we are required to re-paint back to the original color upon leaving our house.  So, I’m certainly not going to paint every wall.  We’re leaving the bathrooms as-is, as well as the hallways and such.  My kitchen has a vaulted wall, so I’m not doing that one, either, nor are we doing the half-wall that surrounds the kitchen (it’s part of a great room).  But, I am thinking I need some color in my living room, maybe two walls in the master, and definitely the kids’ room.  I really think kids’ rooms need color, don’t you?  I have some ideas for their room but I’m scouting about on Pinterest to really clarify them.  (Have you picked up yet that I’m a certified Pinterest freak???)
  22. Continue to build a good wardrobe.  I’ve really started to shop more wisely, and by that I mean spending money on really good clothes that won’t wear out or whose time will pass all too soon trend-wise.  For example, Anthropologie clothes are definitely not cheap, but I’ve noticed that my Anthro clothes really stand up well to wash and wear, plus I always get compliments on my pieces.  Also, I think certain trends are not going away anytime soon, so I’m building a collection of scarves, puffy vests, and leggings for winter; and skirts, good tees, and sandals for summer.  I would also like to say, my husband is an absolute gem when it comes to this.  He loves to take me to Anthro, or Ann Taylor Loft, or Von Maur to look at the pretties, even if we don’t buy.  He pays attention and he has given me a surprise sweater or two before.  Yeah, he’s a keeper, that one.
  23. Force myself to do more “kid” time.  Please don’t misunderstand this one.  I love my kids more than my own life, but “play” doesn’t come easily to me for some reason.  I have to fight the urge to jump up and get to the laundry or the dishes, or even just sit and Facebook while my kids watch a cartoon, but my kids love to have me do puzzles with them, or play tea party, or zoom little airplanes about the room.  I make it a point to always stop when they request my participation, but I want to be better about initiating or joining them uninvited.  They love that kind of attention and they deserve it.  The laundry can wait, and I need to remember that.

Well, it’s a weird number to have, but there you have it, all 23 of my goals for 2013.  Okay, maybe that does kinda go together?  Anyway, I hope to share progress and updates here on each one.  Stay tuned!

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Try

I’m sitting at my desk, finally enjoying a moment of peace in an otherwise crazy morning.  I ran around town yesterday, hunting/gathering supplies and groceries for my house, and shopping for late winter/early spring clothes for my kids (Will went from a 3T size pants to needing a 4T practically overnight).  When I came in, I unpacked the groceries but a pile of bags and boxes just sat in the hallway because kids can’t wait for dinner, baths, and bedtime.  And of course, when that’s all said and done, what mama doesn’t collapse in front of the TV?

So this morning was a whirlwind of activity — putting away, organizing, straightening, cleaning — and I hadn’t even yet begun on today’s regular to-do list.  On top of all that, we’re in full-boar mode with potty-training Will, and right when I bragged about his progress on Facebook, he had an epic accident.  Pardon me, but it was the mother of all poops.  I had to give him a bath and scrub down the bathroom and start another load of laundry, and just when I got everything situated and sparkling again and Will back to his play, I realized Lucy had a dirty diaper.  Honestly, in that moment, I could have cried.  There are only so many days in a person’s life that she can spend elbow-deep in excrement before tears fall.  Instead, I got the kids settled for their nap so I could just bring to an end a morning that just didn’t go my way.

Yet here I am with the afternoon ahead of me, looking at the traffic jam of clean laundry that needs to be folded and put away, hungry for lunch, and sorely tempted to chuck it all and just go take a nap.  Next to me is my dayplanner listing today’s chores, a stack of coupons to go through, and a cup of cold coffee that I never got to drink.  Not to mention all the baking and cooking I have planned, because I refused to buy processed foods at the store yesterday (I can make it better at home, right?  Well, right, but I still have to *make* it…)  All of these things just whisper “you’re so behind,” and “you’ll never get to it all,” and “what’s the point?  There will only be more messes and chores and meals to deal with tomorrow!”

All of this might be true, but you know what?  It’s a new year.  And I’ve decided to do better this year, and so far, I’ve been succeeding here and there.  Nothing monumental, but I have made small steps that have upped my domestic game.  A couple weeks ago, like everyone else, I considered making some goals for this year and resolved to at least take a stab at all of them.  My very highest goal is to be the master of my domain and not let it defeat me day in and day out.  Since becoming a mom, I’ve realized that I can no longer do a burst of cleaning on a Saturday morning and call it good for a week (oh, those were the days).  Nope, it never works out that way and there’s simply too much to handle all at once.  It’s a classic how-do-you-eat-an-elephant situation.  One bite at a time, of course, and staying on top of things means constantly chewing.  I don’t like it.  Not at all.  But it is, truly, the only way.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about a weary mom taking the afternoon off for a nap or a hot bath.  But those have to be the exception, not the rule — at least for me.  Becoming better at anything requires discipline and persistence and commitment.  And as much as those words grate on me, especially in my current mood, I still have to rise to meet them.  Well, take that back, technically I don’t.  I could do just enough to get by and go take a nap, but that’s not how I want to live.  Not this year.  I want to do better this year.  I mean, I won’t be a candidate for Mom of the Year and Martha Stewart certainly has serious job security, but I know I can do better and like I told myself, just take a stab at it.  Try (are you humming that Pink song in your head?).  See what I can accomplish; see how far I get!

So…I have to ignore the siren call of my pillow.  I have to embrace the quiet of naptime as my chance to catch up, and not my opportunity to check out.  I have to TRY.  Wish me luck!!!

Note:  My next post will be a list of all my goals.  Buckle up…I’m pretty hard-core about seizing this year!  Carpe…annuem?  🙂

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The Next Chapter

Just over my shoulder, the sun is beginning to set behind a thin cloud cover in muted, grayish pinks and oranges over the snow-covered landscape of my neighborhood.  The cold almost-colorlessness of it all makes the world seem to be asleep and on pause, yet the calendar declares that a new year has begun.  And as tempting as it is to be lulled into complacency by appearances, I feel compelled by the calendar to seize this new year, this new day, and yes, this new chapter.

I’ve been blogging on and off for just about a decade now.  And interestingly, with each new major change in my life, I’ve felt the need to start fresh.  I’ll pick a new name, a new theme, a new perspective.  Because as we all know, life changes.  Perspectives shift.  Priorities shuffle.  And when this happens, what we’ve written before sometimes doesn’t seem to fit us anymore.  I guess, for me, blogging is like shedding old skin.  When what I’m wearing doesn’t feel right, I put on something new.

I last blogged in early June of 2012, over 6 months ago now.  At the time, I was living in Tennessee with my little family, and enduring an illness that would only get far, far worse before it got any better.  Because of that illness and for other reasons as well, my husband and I made the decision to move our family home to Indiana, despite not having a job here.  It was a leap of faith…and we’re still mid-leap.  In fact, an excellent way of describing our situation is that we are very much up in the air.  Marty works in Tennessee during the week while I single-parent our two children.  We all live for the weekend, and honestly, sometimes there’s just too much pressure on our weekends to be full of love and bonding activity.  Sometimes the pressure puts us in a bad place, because we resent it, because we are fed-up with the situation.  But everytime we talk about the chain of events, we agree that we would have made the same decisions again and again.  There even seems to be something of the inevitable about what happened this year.  And for two people who like control, and who can’t be described as anything resembling passive, this has been tough to swallow.  Yet, here we are.

The truth of the matter is, we have given this whole journey to God.  And no matter how hokey this might sound, we feel very much that God has asked us to do this hard thing.  For some reason, Marty and I need to grow, as individuals and in our marriage, and this is the path of that growth.  We accept that.  We don’t love it — we fight that resentment feeling — but we do accept it.

I’ve handled some hard things in my life.  I once battled infertility.  I’ve been laid off.  I’ve been divorced.  And each time I’ve been given a hard thing, I always go through a period of processing, grieving, and ultimately letting go, choosing to make the best of things and even reinvent myself as necessary.  This time is no different.  I can’t tell you how easy it would be to just sit in the unfairness of things and wallow in self-pity.  But I know from experience that it gets me nowhere except deeper down a dark hole, and I’m a girl who loves to live in the light.  I gravitate toward happy.  So when it’s not given to me, I create it.

Which brings me to this blog, this next chapter of sharing.  Writing makes me happy; participating in blogs makes me happy.  I’ve read more blogs than I care to admit to reading, and there’s a rainbow of flavors out there, including girls who take their blogging so seriously that they want to create a brand and make their lives a business.  I have no problem with that (to each her own!) but that is sooooooooo not me.  I’ve always thought of blogs as sort of a kitchen table.  Each blogger has her own table, where she shares her thoughts and invites her readers to discuss and share in return.  That’s it — that’s all I want from my blog, anyway.  I’ve never had a huge following on any of my blogs, but I have made some amazing friends and connected with other women on a level that’s unique to this medium.  I miss it, and I crave it.  So here I am, back to blogging, ready to write this next chapter.  I hope you’ll come to my kitchen table!

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