Sunday, August 31, 2008


I don't know about you, but I struggle with the planning side of eating. For the last year or so I've been trying out different strategies to make meal planning and preparation easier. I did Once a Month Cooking and loved it, truly loved it. More so the process than the actual meals, but the last chapter of the book is how to adapt it for my own recipes.

My struggle is that I just don't want to think about it. The days are so full of mental energy that I would really like to put dinner in it's slot and just do it, not think about it, badda bing, badda boom, dinner's ready.

Then I found this; a meal plan that does exactly that. It's by Kraft and the theory is one bag of groceries, five entrees. Several of them I would consider one dish meals, and the ones that aren't are very easily completed with a salad and bread. The meals all take around 10 minutes to prepare, and use little dishes so cleaning up is easy to.

I can tell you that this has revitalized my fervor for meal times! Thought I'd share in case you need some inspiration too.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wrong Side of the Tracks

When I arrived in Georgetown I didn't feel like my life was perfect at all. I had created certain expectations in my mind, and not a single strand of life here was living up to those expectations.

As the new kid in town I figured people would be calling me up, inviting me out for coffee and over for dinner, (surely everyone would want to know me!); we had found a house to rent, a house- not a basement suite, surely it would be glorious, (I wont even go into how I feel about this house); Nick was coming back where everyone knew his name and wanted to aid him in succeeding in life, look out countless blessings!

Let me take my foot out of my mouth for a moment and state for the record that we have been blessed beyond measure since arriving here. However, my Greatest Flaw spent the first year of our G-town experience in fine form.

Life had worn me out; physically, mentally, emotionally. I just wanted to revert to being small and have someone take care of me all the time.

I wanted new friends, but I didn't want to make the effort of the first invite.

I wanted deep relationships, but I didn't want to be vulnerable first.

I wanted to be blessed, but I didn't want to do the work of being a blessing.

And yet at the same time I did, I just wanted it all to be easy. I wanted to live reactively instead of proactively. I just wanted to move onto Easy Street for a little bit.

I wasn't myself when we first got here. I was lazy, apathetic, moody, and painfully shy. I chose to do the least amount of anything possible, I whined, I cried. I met the worst version of myself and although I didn't like her company, being with her was easy.

Then one day the switch flipped. I've been trying to figure out exactly when it happened, but haven't been a very disciplined journaler as of late and so can't put my finger on it. But I woke up and I felt rested, rejuvenated. I was ready to be me again. Being who you are is hard sometimes. We live in an incredibly critical world. But becoming who you are after being someone you are not is almost impossible. First impressions are so hard to re-write. I don't have any regrets in life, save this, choosing to be selfish instead of putting my best foot forward in August 2006.


I think now is the perfect time to let you in on one of my greatest flaws. I am a hopeless romantic. Hopeless. I'm 28 and have watched A Cinderella Story a million times. Sydney White is on our movie channels this week and I watch it daily. Trust me when I say that Nick doesn't stand a chance, (although it would be nice for him to try......).

But the romantic in me goes far deeper than my relationship with my Prince Charming. It's about so much more than receiving roses, poetry, or those knock you off your feet surprises.

Although the commonly exploited theme in all movies romantic is the guy-gets-the-girl/ girl-gets-the-guy/everyone-lives-happily-ever-after; there is also an element that requires all of lifes trials and obstacles to be resolved and forgotten in a mere 120 minutes. Pause for a moment and think about how grand life would be if your Grandmother showed up on your front stoop and announced that Genovia is awaiting your arrival as their next Queen. Can't figure out how to get your hair salon straight-presto-it's taken care of. Lost all that baby weight but still can't justify the new wardrobe-huzzah-how about a walk in closet the size of your local 7/11. Were you the highschool geek-shazam-let's move you to another country where no one knows you and you can be whatever you want to be from this moment on.

This trend can also be referred to as Sitcom Seducery. Ran your hubby's new car into a light post? Just wait 30 minutes and the two of you will be laughing so hard your sides hurt while you wax the newer! even better! car that just showed up in your driveway. Teenage daughter running amuck? Don't worry the next door neighbor will take care of it for you.

I am a hopeless romantic. My life doesn't stand a chance. Curveballs have abounded in our mere six years of marriage, but those instant fixes, not so much. Where is Extreme Home Makover? Why doesn't TLC feature my crazy life? Where are the Home Made Simple Mavens? Surely I am deserving of someone to walk in my front door and zap away some of my worries, aren't I?

The thing about being a hopeless romantic is that it's not fair. It's not fair to the people in your life, but it's mostly not fair to yourself. My life kicks ass. Pure and simple. It is the PERFECT life for me, but too often I only realize that in retrospect.

Forging On.

I think I've finally recalled where I was heading with my last post in this vein.

Working from home.

When you first start a family and all your sense are filled to overflowing with the sweet smell of all things Johnson & Johnson, the sweet touch of a (clean) baby's bum, the amazing taste of living a worthwhile life, and the sight of all the melt-your-heart-moments of parenting; you begin to feel that working from home is the. best. option. ever. Suddenly you're reading entrepreneurial websites and magazines, trying to figure out how to create the income you need out of old dish rags. After successfully navigating the first three months of a child's life you begin to feel like superwoman, surely you can do anything!

There are a lot of times that working from home is not all that it's imagined to be, (at least by me). Even though I am at home all day with my kids I've missed many firsts. Like when Belle was little and started saying 'hello', (her first word), I honestly thought it was part of the dictation I was transcribing. Even now on days when I have to get work done, I only see them playing out back through the window as I glance up every few seconds. Balance is constantly elusive as I'm working for my paying gig, but see the tasks of my un-paying gig piling up. Not to mention the sleep deprivation. I've been so blessed with good sleepers, and from really early on, and yet I am up until two or even three a.m. a good share of nights just trying to get everything done.

For so long I felt like I stradled two lives. One in which it was my sole responsibility to bring in a certain amount of bacon, one in which it was my sole responsibility to cook the bacon. The division between the two, a blur. I sit here at my computer to upload pictures, try to keep them organized and share them with the world. I also sit here, sometimes, and get paid by the minute. Not to mention that I want to sit here to do things purely for my own pleasure.

I have about 500 square feet that are my home, my office, my life. The 'mommy' hat never comes off, even when I'm 'at work'. The domestic to-do list doesn't fade into the background, even when I'm focused on typing 90+ words a minute. Within me exists a constant nagging voice; 'is this really what I am supposed to be doing at this exact minute?'.

I don't think working from home is any harder than working outside of the home, or any harder than just, (and I say that completely sarcastically), being a stay at home mom. I think all lives have a degree of hard. I work because the choices we've made lead to responsibilities we must endure.

When I arrived in Georgetown I was standing on the precipice of an entire year of not working. Due to the graciousness of my previous employer I had worked enough hours to entitle me to mat leave benefits. For 12 whole months I was going to be a full time parent, a full time wife, a domestic goddess. The possibilities were all coming up roses.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thanks K8!

I went through a brief period in which I was addicted to 'John and Kate Plus 8'. I began watching hoping to find out all kinds of hints and tricks for things like family budgetting, fun games for toddlers and other stuff like that. I didn't find the show to really provide that much insight into those areas of their life, but I rather enjoy John and so I continue watching. I think I've seen every episode on TLC eleventy billion times and am very eager for the new season. I also would love to take the kids to Pittsburgh, which isn't that far, simply to go to the zoo. I think we'll only be going if we can borrow Aaden for the day.
There are a few tidbits I've enjoyed gleaning from my hours peering through their fishbowl and when it started raining today I finally put one of them into practice!
As I'm sure I've mentioned before Brooklyn eats everything. I'm trying to get her more involved in crafts but she eats all the supplies! Case in point: yesterday she made a lovely necklace at our local Early Years Drop In Center by stringing various pieces of craft supplies on a piece of yarn. By the time we got home there were only two pieces left on it; a piece of foam and one of those confetti hearts you can by at Hallmark to go in your card. The rest of the pieces had been bitten and ripped off during the car ride home. Oy.
I recalled from 'John and Kate Plus 8' an episode where the six are playing with edible peanut butter play dough. I searched through the shows archives and found nothing, (it is not a helpful site), but upon googling 'Edible Playdough' found a link to the recipe allegedly used by Kate on the show. I picked up the ingredients and today we gave it a try.
This is quality control making sure we've actually put in equal parts peanut butter, honey and powdered milk. Then added flour until it was un-sticky enough to play with, but still sticky enough to be fun as mud.
I believe it passed the test. Isabella gives our creation her seal of approval.
Katy definitely knows she's missing out on the fun, but has been appeased with arrowroots, cheerios and shredded cheese.
Just look at the goop, said with minor disgust, from the I'd-rather-watch-someone-else-get-messy kid. Just look at the goop, said with utter glee, from the I'll-be-the-one-getting-messy kid.

All in all a fun way to spend a rainy morning here.

I would also like to point out that I am not embarassed to publish a picture showing my kitchen, for the first time in a million years. The journey I've been on of embracing the SAHM that I'm becoming has me filling my time with things like dishes and expanding our rainy day bag of tricks beyond Disney. Balance is still elusive, but days like today remind me I'm spending my time right where I should be.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Most Beautiful (Flower) Girl in the World

Waiting to ride in the 'fancy car'.
She was so quiet and well behaved during the ceremony.
It would seem that dancing in the gazebo was way higher on her priority list than posing for group photos.
Trying to get her in the groove to do the portraits, which never happened.
Isn't she so cute? She did an amazing job during the ceremony, and ate well during the reception. She also danced the night away until midnight. At about 10:30ish I put her in her pj's thinking we'd go home early. She went to say some good-byes and ended up back on the dance floor. She lasted about two minutes before she ran over and asked for her dress back because her pj's don't twirl. I know this was a very special day for her, and am so glad she was asked to be involved.


I am sorry to have left such a gap since my last post, but I find myself not sure where to go next. This is one of the areas in my life wherein I feel way too vulnerable to be completely transparent. The long and the short of it is that our family is in "that financial place" where people can't understand why I don't work, but our family is in that "focus on your children" place that people can't understand why I would work. It's this funky middle ground where we aren't chasing after possessions, but we aren't hugging trees either.

Add to that, a lot of what this journey has been for me has been about my faith in God and my relationship with him. Something that not a lot of people understand, or the people who don't understand are just more vocal. Putting Christ at the beginning, middle and end of everything I do is hard. It's another hard thing that is totally worth it; but God is often so quiet and the world is often so loud.

On top of which I am trying to become a better person, let's just put out the Open House sign for self doubt and temptation and exhaustion.

I promise I am not done sharing. I just need a few deep breaths before I get back out there.