Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Holiday Season Begins

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Yes, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, but odds are I won't be able to post again until we are home (around Saturday). It has been a very eventful week.

Last week on Thursday, Clark, Michael and I got our gear together and road-tripped to Parris Island, SC where Clark's brother graduated from Marine Corps Boot Camp.
(As promised in Beating Reality, here's a current picture of me... not a very good one to judge where I'm at physically, but a picture just the same).

Clark's brother, John, graduated last Friday morning. Friday afternoon after lunch everyone parted ways. We were supposed to go home, but we were all completely exhausted and Michael just wouldn't be in the car that long again. So, we headed to Fayetteville to be with Clark's family a bit earlier than planned. Sunday morning Clark went back home to collect the animals and attend class while Michael and I stayed in Fayetteville. Tuesday Clark returned to us with the furry ones as well.

SO.

Now we are in Fayetteville preparing for the holidays. Last year we did Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with Clark's. This year it's switched. And OH is it different!

Clark's family has everyone over for Thanksgiving. This year it's estimated that there will be 24 to 26 people (including ourselves). Poor Michael got so stressed at John's graduation lunch being passed from grandparent to great-grandparent to great-aunt to great-grandparent to aunt... tomorrow is going to be VERY interesting. Clark and I are coming up with a secret signal to give when one of us needs to save Michael from the relatives so he can calm down.

'Tis the season to be thankful.

These 30 days of Thanksgiving I've been posting on my personal Facebook the things I'm thankful for. What I never realized is how easy it is to take things for granted. I mean... let's face it... how many times a week are you actually thankful for your morning cup of coffee, or bowl of oatmeal, or the ability to get McDonald's because you don't have time to cook your own breakfast?

So many people take advantage of their circumstances and complain over the smallest things.

I'm not saying I don't. I'm the prime example of this. Note my last Around the House post Homes are for Free Expression, not Good Impressions.

BUT I've been trying to make it a point for the 30 days of November to really see the positive in situations. This also pertains to my last Around the House post. I tried to find the positive lurking under the negativity that was taking over my mind and emotions. I've been picking things every day that may be getting on my nerves, or may seem pointless, or may make me smile that I really focus and remind myself I should be thankful for them.

What are you thankful for this November? Today I'm thankful for my in-laws and Clark's extended family.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Homes are for Free Expression, not Good Impressions.

(Cartoon fromcitizenmom.net).

I've been struggling with our apartment again.

No joke.

It's hard to feel at home in it. I don't know if it's because it's so small or if it's because many of my possessions are in storage in Clark's grandparent's attic. I'm not sure if it's because I don't know many people here or if it's because I'm homesick for Boone/Banner Elk.

I'm just not sure.

Whatever it is, it's been making me a bit cranky. When my mom was here I got motivated to keep the house clean. I was motivated to organize everything more. I was determined to make the best of our little home.

Now... not so much.

I just feel crowded. The more involved Clark gets with school and climbing, the more of a mess there is. Without him having his own space, it's impossible to convince him that the living room is not his space to spread his gear out to let it dry. It's impossible to get him to keep his school stuff from crowding our "dining area". It's impossible to keep him from throwing his wallet, keys, sunglasses, knife and so forth on my bookshelf right by the door. It's impossible to keep him from using the baby's changing pad/dresser as storage space for his belt and pants when he changes into his pajamas.

He is impossible.

Now, I have to take some blame, too. It's impossible for me not to think of the coffee table as my desk, since the desk Clark made me as my graduation present is currently the only one in our apartment. It's impossible for me to keep my makeup and hair stuff put away in our bathroom. It's impossible for me to not leave things lying around for most of the day before putting them away. It's impossible for me to keep my stuff organized in our closet.

I am impossible.

I used to keep our apartments clean. In our last home it was OK if things got a little out of hand. There was so much space. We had two rooms upstairs, each with a bathroom. We had a large kitchen and living room downstairs with a half bathroom. Our washer and dryer were in a closet near the front door, completely inconspicuous and out of the way.

Now we have one bedroom and you have to go through it to get to the bathroom. Our washer and dryer take up half of our one bedroom closet. The closet in our living room doesn't even have doors. Our kitchen is a closet pretty much. You can't distinguish one area from the other, really. It all runs together.

We were desperate to move. We were temporarily staying with my in-laws and we were ready to go. We needed our own home. Somewhere to call our own and to set up house.

I take the blame.

We had a code word. If I said the apartment was "cute" then it was OK and we could make the deal.

I spoke too quickly.

I was so ready to be out of my in-laws way. Not to mention we had to move because Clark got a job. The apartment was cheap and the landlord seemed genuine and caring. I said the word. We moved.

Oh how wrong I was.

We can never get in touch with our landlord. There are so many things that need to be repaired and none of it has been done. With Michael here, there just seems to be no space. If I need a breather, I have to go in the bathroom and shut the door or go outside. Our cat chases our dog from one end of the apartment to the other... over and over again (when he's feeling well, that is). It's impossible for anyone to have ANY privacy.

I feel like I have cabin fever 24/7.

I keep talking myself down. Telling myself there are others who are in worse circumstances. There are others who live in an apartment this size with two or more kids. People who live in boxes on street corners. People who sleep on benches.

Unfortunately I'm stubborn. I don't even listen to myself when half of me is making more sense than the other half.

I'm sorry I'm whining.

"Homes are for free expression, not good impressions."


This quote comes from the remake of Yours, Mine, & Ours.

I used to not agree.

I would walk into people's disastrous homes with art that didn't match and things that just didn't make sense and inwardly turn up my nose. I want a clean-cut home with flowers on the table, shoes all in a row (where they belong), and not a trace of messiness.

Basically a home that doesn't look like it's lived in, except with family pictures so people know that it is, in fact, a home.

I grew up in a house where beds were made every morning, the bathroom was clean/organized, closets were not places to stuff what you didn't feel like putting away, and your shoes were always put away (or else). At the time I didn't appreciate it. Now? I wish I could hire my parents to come and make my home spotless for me.

It feels impossible with where we're living now.

I'm trying to balance. Trying to understand that we won't always live in this apartment. Trying to just be a little less stressed and go with the flow. Think that other people can think what they want when/if they come over. Think that my home is my home because it's where my family is. Think that things can't get any worse.

My home is an expression of my husband's constant coming and going, my job that is taking care of my son, my ten week old who is already growing too quickly, and my animals that are probably suffering from cabin fever like we are.

Some day I'll have a home that can be for free expression and good impressions. But for now I suppose I'll just have to go with the flow and do what I can when I can.

Is your home a free expression or good impression?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Beating Reality


This is the first follow up to Realizing Reality.

One month later and not much has changed.

I haven't lost anymore weight, but I've been working extraordinarily hard.

I learned that I really have to watch my calories. By this I mean that I probably wasn't eating enough to begin with, so now I make sure I eat every two to three hours. Basically, I eat when Michael eats. And I have to balance. I try not to over do it at one point and then under do it at another.

This is tougher than I thought.

Michael is #1... this means that if my tummy has to be a little flabby for a while so he can grow one, then so be it.

BUT.

I thought that "but" should just stand on its own so I could emphasize it.

Here it is:

I'm not just giving in. I'm still working to get my body back, or at least improve my "new" one.

My Christmas present is a membership to a gym and a couple of meetings with a personal trainer. I'm lucky because this trainer gave me a little price cut because he's a prior Marine and my husband is in the Marine Reserves.

So, I met with him yesterday for the first time. I told him what I wanted. He made some notes. The only thing sore today, surprisingly, are my shoulder muscles. I thought it would be worse, because yesterday I really felt like I was working it.

I guess I'm in better shape than I thought.

I'm meeting again with him tomorrow, and possibly the following Monday.

The most recent pictures I have of myself are from Halloween (see Dear Great Pumpkin). Check back soon and I'll post some from this coming weekend when we attend my brother in-law's boot camp graduation. I promise I won't wimp out and not post any.

I'm not going to just accept my brand "new" body and give in. I still intend on working out to make the best of my new curves and stretched-out parts. I'm working on making our meals more balanced and as healthy as possible. I'm working on giving myself more time and patience. Even if I have to go beyond the 9 month mark to get into shape, I still intend on getting into shape.

Have any goals you're having a hard time achieving? Share with me! We all need support.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Double Chocolate Muffins


This is my first time making these and I must say they turned out to be a delicious treat!

Supplies:

- 1 C All Purpose Unbleached Flour
- 1 C Whole Wheat Flour * You can just do two cups of All Purpose Unbleached Flour*
- 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 3/4 C Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 1/2 C Butter, Melted

- 1/4 - 1/2 C Oil *Base this one the moisture/ texture of your muffins. If you use whole wheat flour, you'll probably need more oil.

- 1 C Milk
- 1 1/2 C Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips (mini or regular)

Directions:
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
- Line your muffin pan with cooking spray or cups
- Mix together the Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, and Salt in a Larger bowl. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter, sugar, and oil.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir well. Add the eggs and milk,stir, and then add the chocolate chips.
- Cook the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes. Recipe makes 12-24 muffins.

Want to make them extra delicious? Add some Reese's Peanut Butter Chips to them along with the chocolate chips! I did that with about half of them!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Beef Stew


Today stew, tomorrow muffins!

At least, that's the plan.

It's been an interesting week. Busy with appointments and a baby that couldn't adjust to daylight savings time.

So, I thought we could use some new home cooking to make our night just a little more cozy.

This stew can be time consuming. The longer it cooks, the more flavorful it is. However, it is another recipe that's also easy to do throughout the day. Saute the beef now, let it stew, add potatoes and carrots later, etc.

If you're a wife or mom with a to-do list as long as Santa's Naughty or Nice list, this recipe is definitely good for you!

(Yes, I realize I made a Christmas reference and it's not Thanksgiving yet. So sue me.)

Supplies:

- 1.5 - 2 lbs of Stew Meat
- 1 TBSP Olive Oil
- 1 TBSP Cooking Sherry

- All Season Salt (sprinkled over meat)

- 6-8 C water (this depends on how thick you want the stew)

- 6 TBSP Chicken or Beef Bouillon (your preference for this one!)

- 3 peeled, chopped carrots

- 2-4 peeled, chopped potatoes (I only used two and they disappeared... so I would go with three or four)

- 1 can of Green Beans (whole, cut... your choice! Or use fresh ones!)

- 1 tsp Basil
- 5 Bay Leaves
- 1/4 tsp Oregano
- 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
- Pinch of Thyme

Directions:

- Saute the stew beef with the olive oil and cooking sherry until you can't see anymore red or pink. Do this in the pot you intend to cook the stew in. Cover the pot and let it steam for ten to fifteen minutes (after sauteing). Then drain it of its grease and left over oil.
*You can also cut or shred the meat into smaller pieces. This was hard to do for me at the time because Michael would not let me put him down.*

- Add the 6-8 cups of water, vegetables, and seasonings. Bring to a boil for ten minutes or so and then reduce the heat to around medium, medium low. Let the stew simmer (covered) for at least 45 minutes to an hour.

- Add the can of green beans. If you are using fresh ones, however, add them with the potatoes and carrots.
-Let the soup simmer for a while longer. Test it for your taste desires, meaning how cooked you want the veggies and how thick you want the stew. If you want it to be thicker (because I like it a little runny), let it cook uncovered for a good amount of time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Two Months Old


Today Michael is two months old!

We can hardly believe it. This morning Clark was going on about how big he's gotten. He becomes more aware daily and his personality comes shining through with every new challenge he faces.

He has a check-up Friday, but we're guessing he weighs around at least 9lbs since at his last visit he weighed 8 lbs 1 oz.

Michael still absolutely loves Pandora. His new favorite station is Newsboys. He loves Corduroy, especially when daddy reads it to him. He loves sitting on Mommy or Daddy's lap with the Boppy behind his head so he can look straight at them. He loves trying to make different noises with his mouth and is all smiles with or without a camera pointed at him. He loves when Mommy sings "When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along" to him. He also just loves being outside in his stroller, carrier, car seat, or just being carried by mommy or daddy.

He is in constant want of attention. He will make a crying noise just so someone will hold him, dance with him, smile at him, talk to him, and so forth.

Michael is the center of our world and we are just so thankful for him!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One of those days.


Have you ever had one of those days?

You started doing the laundry, maybe took a shower and told yourself you were going to get ready, made a to-do list... the works. All of a sudden, you're exhausted. You just don't feel like doing anything?

That's how I'm feeling today.

I made breakfast for my husband and myself. I vacuumed once he headed off to class. I was able to get a shower.

But that's about it.

Suddenly I'm overwhelmed with this need to sleep. I just want to sit on the couch and relax.

I don't really think it's a crime, but it still makes me feel a little guilty.

I mean, my coffee table is cluttered, the kitchen really needs to be mopped, I should probably scrub the tub, and I haven't dusted in a while and a person could definitely tell.

Still, I'm tired.

On the days where all Michael wants to do is cuddle, I want to be productive. Today he has given me time to do a few things, and I almost wish he wouldn't. All I want to do is cuddle with him today. All I want is the excuse that he wouldn't let me put him down.

I know I've been posting a lot of things about being a mom lately, and I definitely haven't earned my expert status yet. I have years before that happens. But, it's typically what's on my mind now that I am a mother. It's true that once you're a mom, you're always a mom.

Monday I left Clark alone with Michael for an hour. I ran some errands and so forth and he stayed home. When I returned, he looked at me with this exhausted expression and exclaimed, "I don't know how you do this everyday." He went on to tell me all Michael needed within that hour I was gone. As if I didn't know!

I think it's unfair to say that stay-at-home moms have it easy. Yes, I've made this point in my last few blogs, but it's SO true! These women give up a lot to stay home and make sure that the child is raised right.

At the moment I think it's a little more difficult because half of my day is spent feeding Michael and we don't really have a routine, routine down. I'm not sure you can ever really have a routine with kids, though.

Anyway, today I'm taking it easy.

I'm going to get some things done, but I think I'll make today a rest day. I'll save the exercise video for tomorrow since I've already done it twice since Sunday. I'll save folding laundry for tomorrow. I'll let Clark scrub the tub when he comes home. I will dust. I already vacuumed. I put away the clean dishes. I loaded the dishwasher. I made a couple phone calls. I took a shower (woo hoo!).

It's 1:33pm and, other than taking care of Michael, I'm giving myself the rest of the day off.