Over the weekend...

Some good friends gifted us a lovely basket of green tomatoes, and what better to do than fry those suckers up! After all, this is Kentucky.
Curt took them along to his fantasy football draft man night and we still have some left over.
So... there was nothing left to do but cook some bacon and have a fried green tomato BLT for lunch. (I ate it too fast to take a picture.)
While it was super tasty, I learned the hard way that store bought bread just doesn't cut it on a sandwich like that. I think this solves the mystery for what we should do today--go out, buy some really amazing bread, and try again for dinner!

Wonderful givaway opportunity

Love September Favorite Skirt Pattern GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

OK, so I haven't been doing much sewing lately, but this just might be the ticket to get me back on the wagon. Doesn't it look fabulous??? All of the giveaways on Grosgrain are wonderful, so head on over there to check them out! Happy Saturday!

Procrastination station

This week, week two of SAHMhood and the week of  having no plan, I used whatever spare time I could find to clean and cook. I made a wonderful strawberry cake and chicken stock...
that led to carrots for my babe...
and yummy, tender chicken...
that found its way into enchiladas...
and my grandma's chicken salad--my favorite!!!
(The recipe for this one may be coming soon. Must get Sweetie's permission first.)
While these may appear to be fine accomplishments, to me it SCREAMS avoidance. Be warned that whenever my house is clean and there are plenty of prepared dishes to enjoy, there must be something big that I am trying to put off... unless it's Christmas. I could spend some length of time analyzing what I'm trying to avoid or why I'm trying to avoid it, but I'd much rather bask in the glory of my productive coping mechanisms. Besides, there's always next week!

Hitting the pavement

(Lester, running with the Jim's)
Lester Burnham: I figured you guys might be able to give me some pointers. I need to shape up. Fast.
Jim Olmeyer: Are you just looking to lose weight, or do you want increased strength and flexibility as well?
Lester Burnham: I want to look good naked!
exerpt from film: American Beauty

I have always wanted to be a runner. I have longed to find that rhythm, to push myself past what I thought was my limit, to feel that addiction that runners seem to have. When I was in 8th grade I decided I was going to run track, but after I realized just how much running you have to do, I quit after only one day. In my early teens I was diagnosed with sports-enduced asthma so I stuck to activities that didn't strain my breathing too badly. It was also my excuse for why I couldn't run.

Now I have several friends who run and I have this jealousy creep up when I hear about the marathons and half-marations... Even a 5K sounds amazing to me. About a year ago I decided I was going to melt off the rest of my baby weight by working to achieve my long-term goal. Four weeks into my running program, my appendix nearly ruptured and I had to have it removed emergency style. Six weeks of recovery and "no vigerous activity" sent me back to square one and I haven't gone back to it since.

The other day, my sister (who ran her first half marathon back in May) sent me a link for The Race for Education 5K/10K, to take place October 10th. At first I dismissed it because let's face it, August is not the best time of year to begin training for a marathon. But after talking with her and mulling it over, really, why not? Addie and I already take walks frequently during the week--this would just kick it up a notch.

Part of me wants to do it to finally reach that goal. I want to be able to say to my husband, "Hey, do you mind watching Addie for a bit? I feel like going for a run." And I want to say "Oh, this weekend? I'm running a 5K." (Even though it's only 3 miles, it sounds so cool.) So this morning, instead of a more leisurely stroll, I brought along my stop watch and started doing the intervals. The funny thing is, that while I was working up quite a sweat, I wasn't thinking about how cool I was, or how well I was doing, or that this is really going to get me in shape... All I could think of was Lester's line in American Beauty. Yeah, I suppose that's true too.

Tasty treat

Yesterday afternoon, as Ms. Addie took in a lovely nap, I decided to venture into my quiet kitchen to enjoy a little baking. One of my favorite places to visit online posted this and I couldn't resist. It only took about 5 minutes to put together and it turned out to be fantastic. I think I accidentally used bread flour instead of all purpose so it was more dense and kind of like strawberry shortbread rather than a fluffy cake, but oh so yummy all the same. I bet it won't last one day around here...

After devouring our sweet snack, despite my sniffles, we ventured out into the backyard for some coloring and splashing in the baby pool. Aahhh, summer.

She likes to move it move it

One of my very best friends, who also happens to be a preschool teacher, gave me some excellent advice in beginning my new venture as a SAHM. She told me to create some structure for our days and to also remain flexible. I nodded in agreement because of course I would be flexible. Addie is still a baby--I have to be willing to abandon my plans at times and just let go. But really, I don't know if I have ever truly known the meaning of the word. According to flexible is characterized by a ready capability to adapt to new, different, or changing requirements. I am so not flexible.

I have always been the anal, organized one in my family. As a child, I couldn't go to sleep unless my room was clean. At work people made fun of me because I got really excited if there was a project that involved color coding. If we deviate from a plan or schedule, I can do it... but my chest gets tight and I have to really try hard to not let it bother me. Yeah, not the most easy going person in the world. However, if there is one BIG lesson I have learned so far in motherhood, it is that my child can bring out parts of me that I never knew were there.

Last week I tried to stick with my preconceived idea of what our schedule should be... Activity/outing in the morning, home by lunch and nap time, then playing in the afternoon. We tried it and it did not work. Addie fell asleep in the car during our mornings out and threw her naps completely off... I tell you if there is one thing in the day we should try not to sacrifice, it is her nap, and not just for my sake. Since I didn't really create a back-up plan, this week we are going with the flow. Gulp. Steady breathing. Yes, the plan this week is we have no plan. (cue Psycho shower scene music)

My hope is that if I can just wait and let Addie's schedule shine through, we will naturally develop a rhythm that will show me the best time to go out and when she needs to be home. So far, this wreckless abandon has allowed for a certain pattern that I actually love and hope we can stick to... My girl loves to dance. For the past few days, usually sometime in the morning, we gravitate to her room where she reaches for the iPod remote. I ask her if she wants me to turn on some music and she enthusiastically nods her head. I turn it on shuffle and the magic begins. She moves her hips and shakes her shoulders and sometimes stomps her feet (my favorite). The best part is getting to see what lights that fire--O.A.R., George Michael, Billie Holiday, The Jackson 5, Beck, Jack Johnson, Dean Martin... Awesome. She especially loves to hold the remote and control when the music starts and stops. Perhaps the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree...

A case of "The Mondays"

The start to week two was a rough one today. My allergies have gone into overdrive and Addie has two molars that started breaking through her gums. We are a sad pair. Just over one week ago, I fantasized about how our days together would be. I would have a fantastic schedule with activities all planned out. Addie and I were going to go on outings every day and have a structured playtime every afternoon. After only one week, it did not take long for reality to set in.

So instead of venturing out to explore all that our city has to offer during business hours, we only made it as far as our back porch. Somehow we managed to keep ourselves busy...

60 prayers a day

Back when I was going through RCIA to become a part of the Catholic Church, I was asked how often I pray every day. At the time, just off the cuff, I though the answer was about three to five times a day. I liked to pray in the car on my way to work, before meals and before bed. Pretty simple and probably standard stuff. This week I realized that I actually pray waaaaay more often than I thought. I still have my usual schedule, but probably the most heartfelt and desperate prayers come at random times throughout the day. Basically they fall into one of two categories: "Dear God" prayers and "Good Lord" prayers.

The "Dear God" prayers escape from my soul when I look at Addie and my heart explodes from how much I love her... "Dear God, how did I get such an amazing child?" or, "Dear God, thank you, THANK YOU for blessing me with the most beautiful daughter anyone could ask for." Sometimes I can't even find the words because the ache in my chest is so powerful that all I can do is fight back a tear... "Dear God..." He knows.

And then, there are the "Good Lord" prayers. These are usually uttered through clenched teeth and followed by some sort of "why me?". (Note: It helps to use a thick southern accent with this one for dramatic effect. Plus, I am convinced it sends it up much faster. If you're doing it right, it will sound a lot like the word "lowered".) "Good Lord, really? I mean, really? Help me... please!" or "Good Lord, I don't know what I did to deserve this, but whatever it was, I'm sorry." These are much more few and far between than the "Oh, my child is so wonderful" prayers, but when they come, they really come, like yesterday when Addie decided to scream for 45 minutes instead of take a nap.

I have to say that I definitely feel heard in those trying times because most often, a "Dear God" prayer swiftly follows. And when it doesn't we just wait for Daddy to come home. Do I really say 60 prayers a day? I'm not sure, but it sounds about right--one of these days I will try and count. But for now, I will leave you with some of our very best "Dear God" moments from the last few months. Have a great weekend!

Quick dinner

In an effort to prove that I really can make a healthy meal, even with an almost 17 month-old underfoot, I am going to share one of my favorite "go to dinners". I have always called it the Greek Pasta Salad and it has definitely evolved over time. First, my parents discovered it in a Cooking Light magazine, but over the years I have modified it to become one of our favorite meals, especially during the summer. (It is particularly wonderful because it only takes about 15 minutes to make--ah yes, we struck gold!)

I was a little nervous about introducing it to Addie because the flavors are a bit strong, and let's face it, feta cheese is not for everyone. Well apparently it is for everyone in my family because this girl loved it! She started trying to go at it with a fork, which she usually does very patiently. However, she quickly decided that this method was not fast enough and with an "uh-oh", tossed the fork overboard and dove in with her fingers. Success!

Greek Pasta Salad:
1 box whole wheat pasta (penne or rotini work very well)
1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS balsamic vinegar
1 TBS minced garlic
2 tomatoes, diced
15 - 20 kalamata olives, diced
1 - 2 TBS capers
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
4 - 8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
salt & pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil for the pasta. In the meantime, prepare chicken in a skillet on med-high heat until cooked through (a few minutes on each side). Combine other ingredients in a small bowl. When the pasta is done, drain and return to the pot (do not rinse the pasta--the remaining heat will soften the cheese and help incorporate your ingredients). Add the small bowl of combined ingredients and chicken and toss. Dinner is served!

Note: Play with the amount on the ingredients to see what combinations you prefer. I usually put in almost an entire 8 oz. block of feta and I use a heaping tablespoon of garlic, sometimes two. You can also add a handful or two of fresh spinach, but I usually leave this out unless I know we are going to eat it all immediately (the spinach gets kind of slimy in the fridge overnight). This is also a great vegetarian dish if you would like to leave out the chicken. Enjoy!

Beautiful dreamer...

When I first began this blog, it started out with me needing a place to process through some of our parenting woes. I never even wrote an introduction, I just jumped right into the thick of it--those days were rough. Getting Addie to sleep through the night and go to bed without tears still remains the biggest, most consistent issue we have had to deal with thus far. While we have come a long way from breastfeeding in the wee hours of the morning, teething is rearing its hateful ugly head at us. Night time can still be tough, but now that I'm home during the day I have another beast to deal with... nap time.

I have often heard stories from other mothers about how their children would point to the crib during a pre-bedtime story, ready for a full night's rest. Or the child who waves up at you and says "night-night" after you put him in his crib, then rolls over quietly to go to sleep on his own. I have been waiting Addie's whole life for this to happen to us.

I haven't ever really been that great at setting routines for myself--getting up early, working out, eating well... I do alright for a few days, but then I slip back into a lack of structure. I have, however, been fairly decent at following routines for Addie. We try to stick to a set schedule as much as possible so she knows what to expect, feels comfortable, etc. I know it is all very good for her development, but what I've really been hoping is for this to pay off in other ways--like at bedtime. I've been praying that one day, my child will follow suit to these miracle children I've heard tale about, and be so confident and relaxed in her own space that she practically begs me to leave her alone so she can go to bed.

This afternoon, after her lunch and some quiet playing, it was time for a nap. We went into her room, started her fan, turned on her music, read a book and then--Oh my goodness!--then she turned to me, waved and said "bye-bye". I could hardly contain my excitement. Ooohhhh... bye-bye? OK, bye-bye it is. I put her in her crib, said my "I love you's," and my "Sleep well's" and then skipped off to enjoy some time by myself, so proud that I am successfully raising an independent child. However, just as I was finishing the first draft of my Mother of the Year acceptance speach, her cries began. Crap!

I waited for a few minutes to see if she might ride it out, but no dice. I ended up going back into the war zone to soothe her and conduct a more elaborate version of the pre-nap routine that we are just getting accustomed to. About thirty minutes later, after some mild fussing, we have lift off. I know, it could be so much worse. She could be sick or I could still be up with her, trying to coax her to sleep. And I have to admit that until my dream of seeing her little hand wave me away as she closes her eyes is realized, a few extra minutes spent in the rocking chair is really not that bad.

Do as I say, not as I eat

Day two of SAHM-hood went surprisingly well, considering the weather was horrible and our router decided to answer its call home to wherever dead electronics go, leaving me without internet access. Addie and I ventured out to the mall to (ahem) walk, aka pretend to get exercise while we secretly look for fabulous deals... there were a few.

We had a nice afternoon at home, but I decided to cave into a bit of laziness for dinner and “make” chicken tenders and fries. Before I continue, I must tell you about what could be my best discovery of 2009. You see, I did not make just any fries. Better yet, not just any crinkle fries. What is better than crinkle fries, you ask? Sweet potato crinkle fries. Oh yeah. Mommy likey. A lot. If I could find a reason, I would make them every night. And I must admit, it does take a bit of the guilt off because sweet potatoes are not just your sugary white starch. No, sweet potatoes are yams. Vegetables, if you will—nutritious ones—all cut up into crinkly goodness to be baked and consumed by myself and my babe. Yummy in the tummy.

I sat down with Addie to teach her how to dunk her bits of chicken in catsup for the first time. She took to it like a pro and cleaned her little tray, so to speak. By this time, the fries had cooled so I brought some over for her and me to share. She loves them almost as much as I do, and in my frenzy to break them up a bit and give her a portion, I dropped one on my floor… my not so clean anymore kitchen floor. Before I could even stop myself, I picked it up and said, “Ooooo, we can’t let this go to waste,” put it in my mouth and ate it. GASP! Thankfully Addie was paying more attention to stuffing her little chipmunk cheeks full of crinkly heaven and did not see me break my very own rule. Now I don’t know if it was the “day two” spirit creeping over me, slowly squelching my neat freak ways, or if it was truly the power of the most magnificent side dish ever created, but I was appalled at my complete loss of self-control… But not appalled enough to spit it out.

The first day of the rest of her life

Friday was my last day of full-time work outside of our home. One of the saddest things I had to give up was not my autonomy, freedom or professional credentials, but my Macbook. So until my husband gives me a quick reminder tutorial on how to work our PC, I will have to post without pictures. Never fear, we have many archives to share, but for now it is text alone.

Anyway, so today is the first day of my new job: Full-time-stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), i.e. Domestic Goddess. I'm living the dream. I get to spend every day with my girl while I ensure our house is clean, make all of our meals, keep us on a budget, begin a writing career, knit and sew fabulous garments, get back in shape... you know, the normal 9 to 5er. Right.

Already just hours into "the best job I'll ever have," I am learning that I may have overshot my goals juuuust a tad. (Veteran SAHMs you may now pick yourselves up off the floor and stop laughing.) I am thinking that if I am going to hold onto any kind of sanity, I will also have to give myself a few allowances.

Unrule #1: My kitchen...wait, lets make that, my HOUSE does not have to be clean ALL the time. For some reason I had it in my head that Addie and I would be prancing and playing around in a spotless home because I'm here all day now and have time to maintain a mess-free space. But as I was emptying the dishwasher, I happened to spot my darling child drop a goldfish cracker onto the floor, step on it, then pick off the crumbs from the bottom of her foot and begin to eat them. As I choked down my gag reflex and ran over to her with a clean damp cloth, I realized that life as I knew it is so over. If I allow myself, this could be what my entire day looks like--running after Miss. Mess Maker with paper towels and a bottle of vinegar and water in hand. Part of me doesn't think that is such a bad scenario, but something tells me her future therapist might feel otherwise. So at least for today (because as a newly recovering cleaning addict, I can only go one day at a time) I will let go of obsessing over that which is next to godliness. Who cares if there are still orange crumbs spread out on my kitchen floor? Not me.

Quick update

So I think I have earned the title of Lazy McSlackington when it comes to writing... but not in other areas, that's for sure! I am in the process of leaving my full time job to stay home with my lovely girl for a while. I haven't yet shared much about my work, but I have been in the very unique position of being able to bring Addie to the office with me ever since I came back from maternity leave just over one year ago. It was only for a few days a week, but as she has grown older, it has become more and more of a challenge. I wouldn't change anything about that and feel so blessed to have had the best of both worlds in so many ways. I have also had such a roller coaster in the role of a working mom and look forward to sharing more of what that experience was like for me and our family in the coming months. Here are a few photos of me and my girl working away... Be back soon!