Saturday, December 31, 2011

Good-bye 2011! Hello, 2012.

New Year's Eve 2010 I was looking forward to my college graduation, finding a job, and supporting my husband as he headed back to school to get his degree. I made resolutions to lose weight, to stress less, and to be my own person. I had no idea what 2011 had in store.

Now it's New Year's Eve 2011. My resolutions are somewhat the same, with a few changes. One big difference? Another year has gone by. And 2011 was one for the books.

In 2011 we found out our family was going to grow. Not by adopting another animal, and not in the sense that my older sister and her husband were having a baby. Our family was going to grow because we were going to have a baby in September. It blew my mind.

In May I graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in English, Creative Writing with the hopes that one day I will be able to publish a book. However, these thoughts were in the back of my mind as I crossed the stage. I was focused on not tripping in the little heels I managed to wear even though I was five months pregnant.

In June Clark, our pets, and I moved to a smaller, quainter town so Clark could attend college (again). After four years of off and on online classes and some community college, Clark finally decided he wanted his degree. He would start in August, and over the summer we adjusted to a smaller apartment, smaller town, smaller income, and prepared for a much bigger challenge: parenthood.

On September 7th at 8:52pm I gave birth to our son, Michael. He was seven pounds, seven ounces and 21 inches long. He was the best thing that ever happened after marrying my husband.

There were many other things that happened in 2011. We were in a wedding, we lived with Clark's parents for a time and called it "visiting", we traveled, we stressed, and more. It's really hard to remember anything vividly before Michael.

2012 already promises a lot. It promises my little sister's high school graduation and my niece's first birthday. It promises Clark starting to really pick a career. It promises Michael's first birthday and our five year wedding anniversary.

A new year always promises a new beginning. It's a whole year free of trials, mistakes, pain, and stress.

So, here are my six "impossible" things for 2012:

1. Put God first and foremost. Remember all things are possible through him. Always make time if I "can't find time" to dedicate to just him.
2. Love my body and myself. Take care of myself and get into the best shape I can physically, mentally, and spiritually.
3. Dedicate more time to my writing. Revisit the books I started writing, write a few free lance articles, blog at least twice a week, and journal as much as possible.
4. Be a more easy going, low stress, care free individual. Do not get worked up over insignificant things. Go with the flow. Don't worry about others expectations or what they think of me/ my family.
5. Get involved. Find activities and friends in my area. Get out and don't be reclusive.
6. Be more passionate. Passionate with my writing, my family, my cooking, my hobbies, my marriage, my faith, my life.

I hope you had a wonderful 2011. Have a safe New Year's Eve and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Spicy-Sweet Crock Pot Barbecue


This revised recipe comes from the fabulous Skinnytaste.com. My older sister introduced me to the site and I've been super excited to finally try out a recipe. Since my husband is a fan of barbecue, I thought I'd try a different way of cooking it to celebrate the end of his exams. I also have to admit this is my first time ever cooking any type of barbecue. It should be fun!

Supplies:

- 2.5 pork loin roast
- 6 oz/ 8 oz Coke Zero
- 1/4 C/ 1/3 C Brown Sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp/ 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 C Water
- 7 oz can diced or sliced jalapenos
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 1/8 tsp cumin
- 1/9 tsp chili pepper
- 1 chipotle pepper, sliced in half
- salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
- Trim the pork loin roast of any fat. Rub it down with 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp black pepper, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Place in crock pot and pour 6 oz of Coke Zero over it along with 1/4 C unpacked brown sugar. Cover and put in the fridge over night or for at least 4 hours. Turn the roast over at least once during this process.
- Remove the crock from the fridge. Add 1/4 C of water and cook the roast on high for another 3 to 4 hours, until you can easily remove it from the bone.
- Remove the pork from the crock temporarily. Empty the crock of ALL liquids. Shred the pork and return it to the crock pot.
- Mix in 8 oz of Coke Zero, 1/3 C unpacked brown sugar, 8 oz tomato sauce, jalapenos, cumin, chili pepper, salt and pepper to taste, and the halved chipotle pepper. Cook on high for another hour and thirty minutes.

Serve the barbecue over black beans and rice or in anyway you see fit! Clark absolutely loved this dish. I have a feeling it's going on the favorites list in our house!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Leash vs. Electric Collar: keeping your hubby out of the dog house.

While visiting Clark's family for Thanksgiving, we got into a bit of an argument. I won't give you all the dirty details, but I can tell you it was about Clark being on a leash.

I have always been a controlling person... with the best intentions, of course. When I was little, tantrums were inevitable when things didn't go my way. As I got older I'm sad to say not much changed.

I was always the leader when I was little. I was picked by the teachers in group projects to make sure things were finished. I assigned what each person would do. In sports I was aggressive and lead the way. At home I lead my little sister around (when she would let me) and told her what we were playing, how we were playing, and what she needed to do.

So, I was a little bossy-know-it-all-control-freak. Yay me!

When I hit 8th grade I lost some of my "confidence". I let myself fall into the background because I was overweight and didn't want the attention. It wasn't until senior year of high school I seized the "power" again. I took control of my life again, and with it came the leadership position in the marching band (drum major), more friends to help with their problems (another sort of control), and I took control of my feelings for Clark (and obviously did a good job, because we've now been married for four years and have a beautiful baby boy).

BUT.

As I was taking control back, reinventing myself, and getting to know me all over again, Clark and I married. It made it very easy for me to be a major control freak again and Clark got to experience it first hand.

I'm not saying that everything I'm "controlling" is bad, but I am saying I understand how I can be.

Saying that, there were a lot of things that rolled together in a severe avalanche over Thanksgiving and just overtook us both.

So I backed off.

I stopped nagging at Clark about his homework and study time (because it's exam time). I just let him use his time how he saw fit. I stopped asking him to do little things and just asked for two or three things to be done a day "when he had time". I stopped trying to control his time, because I realized that most of it came from me feeling like I don't have control of my time (because Michael does, really).

Clark complained.

We were talking about his homework and how much he had to do, and I let the comment slip.
Me: "Well, why didn't you work on your project now instead of playing your XBox?"

Clark: "Because I forgot about it. You didn't remind me."

Me: "That's not my job, sweetie."

Clark: "You always did it before."

Me: "I don't want to be controlling," I raised my eyebrows. "I was trying to let you off the leash you've been complaining about."

Clark: "Well... I appreciate that... but maybe keep me on an electric collar. You know, give me a little shock when I step over the line. I can still run free, but you're there to shock me when I need it."

I know those weren't his exact words, but oh how sweet they were. I started laughing uncontrollably and immediately told him I had to write about it.

I can't assume I know anything about every married couple's relationship. I'm sure there are women that truly do just follow their husband's lead. I'm sure there are some women that completely run the show. I'm sure there's a good balanced wife somewhere, too.

The thing is, I really think all women have their husbands on some kind of leash. After all, he chose her. Suddenly he gave over some of his power. He no longer has the power to go after any girl he wants. He doesn't have the power to just go off and do what he likes. He doesn't have the power of a possible marriage proposal over her. In many ways, he's powerless.

But he can always seize the power back. He can go out and party. He can not tell his wife where he's going. He can threaten many things.

So, what do you do?

You give them freedom. You don't let them know that you really do still hold the power... you can give them a little shock if they go too far, after all.

Keeping them on a "leash" means they are constantly trying to "escape". They tug and pull and try to lead the way, but they always have a reminder that you're really leading the show.

With an electric collar, they still have free reign. They can run and play and do all they want, but if they go too far they get a little jolt back to reality.

See what I mean?

I imagine men don't like being compared to dogs with leashes and collars so much, but I think it totally gets the point across. After all, if you get into a fight and he does something that completely upsets you... where is he?

He's in the dog house.

As a wife, I always feel a part of me missing while Clark's away. This is not to say that it's not healthy. It's good for us to have a break from each other every now and then. In fact, I'm so thankful for his Marine Corps Reserve duty. It gives me a little time to be without him, and therefore I appreciate him all the more when he comes home.

Trust is the major part in marriage. I really believe you can love each other all you want, but if you don't trust each other it's not going to work out. The collar isn't about trust. You are putting your trust in the fact that your husband isn't going to step over the limits that he provided when you said, "I do." If you let every little shock break the vows you made, where would you be?

It took me a long time to come to terms with this.

Now I know that I can kick and scream all I want, but sometimes things aren't going to go my way. Things are going to be out of my control. Things are going to completely step over the line and someone or something really doesn't care if he, she, or it gets fried because of it.

So, if you have a man complaining about a leash, take a step back and truly observe yourself. Some men use it because they know it's a sore spot. Women don't want to appear controlling, even if they are. Women want their husbands to appreciate them, and to keep them in the loop, and to consider their feelings in everything. Men don't always do that... which is why keeping them on a leash makes it even worse. They're dying for some freedom.

So give it to them.

Keep them in a sort of perimeter. After all, he gave you that right the day he proposed.

No parties or anything unless I'm with you or know about it, beer with the guys as long as you don't go over a limit because I can't be your DD, go out with your friends as long as you let me know where you are and when you'll be home, do what you like when you're home as long as you set aside at least 30 minutes for time with your family... things like that.

What do you think? Do you just let your husband have free range? Or do you have a leash or a collar?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Three Months Old!


So, our supposed *surprise* Christmas present was discovered when my mother called it and our photographer posted the pictures on Facebook. No worries! It was bound to happen. And I must admit I'm glad it did because now I can share this fabulous picture with all of you! Her name is Courtney Valentine and she's fabulous. Look her up!

Michael is three months old today!

He absolutely loves staring at himself in the mirror and making faces. He loves when you high-five him and and talk to him at the same time: he bursts into giggles! He is still attempting to fit his whole fist in his mouth and I highly doubt he's going to give up. He's also discovered he loves tummy time and is now determined to roll over... even though he tends to get distracted when he realizes he can scoot this way and that on his belly. He still loves music and has given in to letting me play Christmas music, as long as it's loud. He is also in love with the Christmas tree lights. He likes to just be in his swing and stare at them.

We're so excited for his first Christmas!

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Oh, the holidays.

This is a time for celebrating. A time to spend with friends and family. A time to enjoy good food. A time to be thankful. A time to remember.

A time for stress.

Thanksgiving was wonderful. We enjoyed time with Clark's family and introduced Michael to relatives that he won't remember (for obvious reasons) until he's older. He was the star of the few days we were there.

We are finally at a point where we have our Christmas tree and are attempting to decorate it. I'm a little disappointed it's taken us so long. After all, we only get to enjoy our tree for around ten days before we hit the road/air to visit family.

December 15th we head to see Clark's family. Then the 19th we fly to see my family. We return the 29th. Then we head to see Clark's family through New Year's. Then we finally come home.

That's why I love the holidays. It's an excuse to finally get together with friends and family, to spoil them, to truly remind yourself what you have to be thankful for.

This past Saturday we took a road trip for *surprise* Christmas gifts for the family, as well as for ourselves, really. We then went a little farther and got our Christmas tree in Avery County. Home. We didn't make it all the way to Banner Elk because poor Michael had enough for the day... but we were right there.




I must admit that this season I am completely "home" sick for Banner Elk, the snow, our old condo.

It's important for the holidays to be with the ones you love. Therefore, I know that I'm going to be more than all right. Even if this place doesn't quite feel like home, I'll be with my son and my husband and therefore I really will be home.

Today I think people make the holidays about all the wrong things. Yes, Thanksgiving has turned into a holiday that's all about good food and football. But shouldn't we celebrate being THANKFUL for what we have? Even if something goes wrong and a dish burns, or the turkey doesn't cook right... we should still be thankful for the food.

Christmas is all about love. You can't argue that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. God sent his only son into a world full of sin so he could die for us so we may experience eternal life and love.

So shouldn't the focus be more on love rather than presents?

I feel so stressed out about cooking for friends and sending/ordering/buying gifts that I'm really not focusing on the reason for the season. I can admit that.

As a "Newfangled Housewife" I want my house to be perfect, my food to be delicious (and appreciated by many), and I want to have everything in tact for my son's first Christmas.

It's probably not going to happen that way this year.

So, to try and focus on the *Reason for the Season*, tonight I think I'll enjoy a cup of hot chocolate (with a candy cane to stir it, perhaps) and cuddle up with my husband, son, and pets to enjoy "A Charlie Brown Christmas". I think Linus and Charlie Brown always do a good job of reminding everyone what Christmas is really about.