Monday, October 31, 2011

Dear Great Pumpkin,


Happy Halloween!

I LOVE Halloween. I don't necessarily love it for the haunted houses or the sugar rush, but I do love it because it kicks off the Holiday season. This means that Thanksgiving is less than a month away, followed by Christmas, followed by New Years, One of the best times of the year in my book. Holidays always mean reuniting with family and friends. Love it.

While Michael is not old enough to enjoy the cavity-creating-satisfaction of a classic Halloween, he is old enough to sit through (or perhaps sleep through), "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!"

This is a tradition that started with my family. When Clark and I married, we finally gave into to buying the DVD our second Halloween together. A friend reminded me that we were at Blockbuster and it was Clark's idea to just buy it. He came up to me holding it with a big grin on his face, so excited he had found it for me.

As the years progressed, we added Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins to the tradition. My parents always got us the Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins for Halloween and Eggs for Easter. Clark was very happy to continue this tradition because he loves Reese's.

This year, we're adding one more.

While I've always been a fan of placing a pumpkin outside my door near my Welcome mat as a sign of my favorite season, we have yet to purchase one this year. Granted, we've been busy. So today we made it even more special and took Michael pumpkin picking at a local church's pumpkin patch on his first Halloween.




No, we're not going to carve it. Unfortunately we didn't plan that far ahead.As soon as Michael is old enough to remember,however, we will definitely be carving pumpkins for Halloween.

What are your Halloween traditions?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mother Knows Best


Have you ever seen Disney's "Tangled"?

If you haven't, go watch it.

Whether you're a mother of boys or girls, or not a mother at all and just looking for a sweet movie, it's wonderful.

There's a song that Mother Gothel sings to Rapunzel. Here's just a glimpse of it:

"Go ahead and leave me I deserve it.
Let me die alone here, be my guest,
When it's too late you'll see, just wait.
Mother knows best.

Mother knows best.
Take it from your mumsy.
On your own you won't survive.

Sloppy, under-dressed,
Immature, clumsy!
Please, they'll eat you up alive.

Gullible, naive,
Positively grubby!
Ditsy and a bit, well... hmm... vague.

Plus, I believe
Gettin' kinda chubby.
I'm just saying 'cause I love you.

Mother understands.
Mother's here to help you."

Oh, yes. She's convincing Rapunzel she doesn't need to leave the tower. After all, if Rapunzel stays in the tower she never has to face the scary outside world. Mother Gothel is protecting her child from things that could hurt her.

What a nightmare, right?

Yes. Considering Mother Gothel isn't actually Rapunzel's mother and she just wants to keep Rapunzel to herself for certain reasons (go watch the movie!), it is a nightmare.

But that's not the point.

The question is, as a mother, am I like that?

Now, Michael is only seven (almost eight!) weeks old at this point, but I've already made a mental list of people I don't want to be like. I've already made a mental list of things I don't want to do. I've already made a list of the nightmare-ish mother I don't want to be.

Doesn't every mother?

There's a saying that a girl grows to be just like her mother.

I can't say I'd mind.

Just over these past seven (almost eight!) weeks I've come to appreciate my mother so much. She gave up so much for her three daughters, and continues to do nothing but give. She's always ready with advice, a lesson, a lecture, and so forth. I've learned as I've grown to really take her advice to heart. If not, there always tends to be a point where she gets to say, "I told you so."


Now, this is not to say I'm not still a typical daughter.

I still roll my eyes. I still argue. I still act like a child with my mother some of the time. Ultimately, however, we've gotten to the point where we're friends. In fact, my mother and my sisters are my best friends.

This is what I want with my children.

I want to raise my children with limitations that aren't outrageous and love that is. I want to raise them so that someday we are best friends like I am with my mother and my sisters. I want my family to really be a family.

I think the world's lost sight of what a family truly is these days.

I'm not saying that mother really always knows best all the time. But, you have to admit, mothers do have a sort of sixth sense that no one can explain.

What is your mother always right about?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Black Bean Soup



October is the time for soups! I'm sorry I failed to post the promised Bean & Bacon Soup (via Twitter). Michael would not let me take pictures. So, the next time I make it, I will take pictures and post the recipe!

This soup is completely vegetarian/vegan friendly. Not to mention delicious. The last time black bean soup was made in our house, we couldn't quite get it right. I say "we" because Clark is the one who actually made it. The beans weren't soft enough. So, this time I thought I'd do it up right.

This is not to say my husband can't cook. He's a wonderful cook. He's just not good at doing things free-hand. He likes to follow recipes. Me? I like to make the recipes!

*WARNING*
This recipe is easy, but time consuming. Great for moms/wives who only have moments here and there and not 30 minutes in a row to monitor the cooking. GREAT for if you're having company over, just make sure you remember to soak the beans the night before and start preparing them in the morning to be ready by dinner time!

SUPPLIES:

- 1 lb raw black beans
- 6 C water
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 C Chopped Green Pepper
- 3 TBSP Chicken Bouillon
- 1/2 Tsp Chili Powder
- 1/2 Tsp Cumin Powder
- 1/2 Tsp All Season Salt

Directions:
- THE NIGHT BEFORE YOU WANT THE SOUP FOR DINNER: Put the beans in a pot well covered with water (about 8 cups). Bring to a boil and let boil for ten minutes. Cover, remove from the heat, and let them soak over night.
- IN THE MORNING: Drain the beans, rinse, and put them in a crock-pot with six cups of water. Turn on high and let them cook for three hours.
- Once your three hours is up,
add the chopped onion(You can chop the onion as finely as you like. I chop it in bigger chunks so people can pick around it if they're not fans of onion.)
1/2 C green pepper
and seasonings.
- Keep the crock-pot on high. Check on the beans about every two hours. Once they have softened to al-dente, turn on low unless you want them to be softer. This can take anywhere from four to six hours more. Like I said, it's time consuming, but so worth it in the end.


My husband always has to add cheese. I'm a black pepper person myself.What do you add to your black bean soup to make it extra tastey?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Super Mom turns in the cape. Oh, no!


It is natural for every mother to have doubts.

Since I have only been a mother for six (almost seven!) weeks, I cannot pretend that I have as many as a mother of 30 years, give or take.

However, at this stage I'm already beginning to wonder if I'm doing things right.

Am I holding Michael enough?

Am I checking/changing his diapers quick enough?

Am I putting him in his swing too much?

Should he be sleeping in his crib, in our bed, in a bassinet?

There are so many questions constantly revolving around our new addition. And then there are other questions, like am I spending enough time with Clark?

I have so much respect for mothers and wives all around now it's not even funny.

Women have so many expectations to live up to.

For example, we're supposed to break the barriers and have careers. Women fought for so long to be more than the stay-at-home-caretakers. We fought for the right to vote, the right to work, the right to be thought of as human rather than baby-making-factories.

At the same time, women today still try to live up to the super-mom/wife stereotypes (depending, of course, on the woman).

What's a girl to do?

Ever since I can remember I've always wanted to be a mother. In fact, when Clark and I were married I made him promise me that once we were set to be parents, I could be a stay at home mom. I wanted nothing more than to stay home and care for my children and make them a priority.

What's funny is it's not as easy as it sounded.

Staying home with Michael makes me think I worry just as much as I would if I was working and he was in the care of someone else.

I have to admit there are times when I already feel like turning in the cape. I call for Clark (when he's home) and say, "Tag, you're it." And I hand Michael over.

It doesn't mean that I don't love him, or that I'm sick of him, it's simply that I need a break to have at least five minutes to myself to think of something beyond Michael. Of course, this usually means I'm thinking of Michael's future and our future children's futures... but, hey, at least I'm not worrying about the "right now Michael".

What's my point, right?

My point is:
There is no such thing as a perfect mother.


Women strive to be a perfect mother, perfect wife, perfect worker, and so forth. We try to live up to these expectations that have been set for our sex by our sex. Don't think it's entirely the men we have to blame. Women want to be Super Women.

I mean, who doesn't want to be perfect?

The thing we have to realize as mothers, wives, and workers is there's no such thing. There is NO such thing as perfect. We are all "perfect" in different ways. So, having to turn in the cape every now and then just to be human is A-OKAY.

What do you strive to be perfect at?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Realizing Reality

Yesterday we had perfect weather here in Western NC. Well, almost perfect. The wind had a mean streak up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Other than that... perfect.

So, the hubby, the baby and I seized the opportunity and went for a hike. Well, considering Michael is five weeks old and I am still recovering/getting back in shape, it was more of a nature walk.

This nature walk made me realize that everything takes time.

It's going to take time for us to adjust to being a family of three rather than two. It's going to take time for me to get back into the shape I once was in, and even longer to get into better shape, which was my goal before I found out I was pregnant.

I am excited for the "taking time" process. I am an impatient person in general, and I think that this life lesson is really going to be a process. Normally I'm not excited about learning to be patient, but this time I really think it's going to be a lesson... and I hope I really pay attention to it.

Every woman's pregnancy is different. Some women have trouble gaining weight, some gain too much, and some seem like celebrities: "perfect".

During my pregnancy I had to remind myself everyone is different. I came to the realization a little too late that I was gaining too much weight. Part of this was due to my swelling issues. It made it hard for me to exercise, because my hands and feet would swell up so much I couldn't do anything else the rest of the day. It really wasn't healthy, which seems strange to say. However, I didn't help the situation by indulging in eating some things that I had given up for years because of their unwanted effects on my body.

Now, post pregnancy, I'm suffering the consequences of my actions. But I've found a way to deal.

I'm going to be open about it.

I want others to realize that you don't have to let yourselves go after pregnancy just because you did before or during your pregnancy. I want others to experience the agonizing months following giving birth where it's hard to get back into shape. I want others to be with me when I realize that it's really worth it.

Women do not feel good when they let themselves go. I've learned this through many sources who I probably should not name on here. Let's just say that older women who have had children have told me, "It's not easy getting back into shape. Take it from someone who knows." Then I look at these women and tell myself I won't let myself get that way. It's not meant to be disrespectful, it's just me giving myself motivation.

My freshman year of high school I was severely overweight. After two somewhat traumatizing moves with my family, I had given up on sports and really trying with friends. I let myself go because food consoled me. Once I got my butt in gear and got into shape for my senior year of high school, I promised myself it'd never happen again.

Because of those years, I have some difficulty really dieting. I've never been at that breaking point, and therefore a few extra pounds here and there didn't seem like a big deal. Following high school, my sophomore year of college (after getting married a year before), I went through Rush. For those of you who don't follow, I decided to join a sorority. This was another point in my life where I got into serious shape. There wasn't really pressure from the Rush experience, but I put pressure on myself because I didn't want to end up in a "reject sorority". I know... awful.

After I dropped the sorority, I let myself go a little soft. I wasn't putting as much pressure on myself to stay in shape. When I got pregnant, I was around ten to fifteen pounds over where I really wanted to be. So, letting myself go during the pregnancy only put me past my limit even more.

What does this mean?

It means that now I'm biting the bullet. I can't "diet" like I used to, however, because I'm breastfeeding. I still have to eat some carbs, and I still have to eat enough calories to maintain my milk supply. But I can be strict on what type of calories I take in. I can eat only the good carbs, the good calcium, the good protein.

It's a completely different ball game.

So, these are the only pictures I have to offer right now. Here is where I'm starting:
and I've put two pictures following of where I want to be (or as close to it as possible).


With this diet I'm not paying as much attention to the scale as I am to pictures. I have weight in different places now that I can't control as much, but I can tone the main areas: my tummy, my arms, my legs, and my buttocks.

Care to join me? Let me know your secrets! I'll be posting my results monthly. I'm hoping to fit into a pre-pregnancy outfit by Christmas and a new little black dress by Valentine's Day. What are your goals?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Homemade Apple Pie


I positively LOVE pie. Almost as much as I love muffins. I know... hard to believe!

October and November are the months I take advantage of. Although thus far my pies have stuck to apple and pumpkin, I'm hoping to challenge myself this year. We'll explore that statement at a later date.

Today, it's all about the Apple Pie!

In the past I've been strict to sticking to someone else's recipe. I must admit I typically take the easy route and by pre-made crusts and then follow the directions on how to make filling and then present "my" creation.

Well, although this time I stuck with the pre-made crusts, I did make my own filling. And all the ingredients were nice and fresh!

Supplies:

- Two pre-made pie crusts (frozen or refrigerated)
- 4 fresh Gala apples, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 fresh lemon
- 1/2 C All Purpose, Unbleached Flour
- 1/3 C Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Cinnamon

Directions:

- Follow the directions on how to prepare your base pie crust, then preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Peel and slice your apples. Put them in a bowl. Cut your lemon in half and squeeze juice from one half over your sliced apples. Mix it up! This will help keep the apples from turning a funky color and eventually help hold all the ingredients together.
- Mix in the flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Mix WELL. Check the bottom of the bowl for flour that hasn't been mixed up!
- Put the filling into the pie crust.

Now, for this next part you can do as you please. Apple pies, to me, are bet with a top crust. For mine, I used Williams-Sonoma's Fall Pie Crust Cutters that my husband bought me for our anniversary. But, you can always do something more traditional!

-Once you have figured out just what you're going to do for your top crust, Cover the edges of your pie with aluminum foil so they don't overcook.
-Place your prepared pie on a cookie sheet on the middle rack of the oven. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes. Make sure you let it cool slightly before serving!


This is a great dessert to follow a meal like Deliciously Easy Chili and Mom's Simple Cornbread!

Friday, October 7, 2011

One Month


Michael is one month old today!

We've learned that he hates getting his diaper changed, his clothes changed, and baths. He loves his Fisher Price My Little Snugabunny Cradle n Swing , cuddling, loud music, and eating.

Thus far his favorite book is Llama Llama Red Pajama and his favorite music is the Chris Tomlin Pandora station.

I can't believe it's been a month already. I suppose every parent learns just how precious time is and how quickly it passes. I can't wait to see all the changes in Michael the future holds.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Organizing the closet.

For the past two weeks my mom was staying with us helping in whatever way she could. One of the main things she did was help me realize how much stuff we've had just lying around. With a new baby in the apartment, and everything that comes with him, this was not ok. So, we went on a trip to Target and a trip to Walmart to help us de-clutter and make life much easier.

We started with our closet.

Itso Cube in White from Target
These cubes stack and store things in a wonderful fashion. You can buy a shelf to go in it also if you want to organize your things even more. I bought two of these (thus far) to go on my closet shelf. One contains purses and scarves, the other summer shoes and belts I presently don't need. But I don't just put things in the bins.

Itso Large Polka Dot Bin from Target
I bought two of these to go in the bins to make my organizers even cuter. They also come in different colors and sizes to accommodate your taste and needs!

From Walmart we got a step stool so I could get to the bins with ease! We also bought pants hangers that hold about five pairs each to clear some of the shelf space, and a hanging shoe holder for the back of the closet door.

Now I can actually find what I need, reach things without jumping or climbing onto our washer or dryer, and walk into the closet without tripping on shoes!

Of course... we've had problems beyond the closet, but I'll write about that later.