Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Evolution of "Mom" and "Dad"

I've gone through a couple name changes, I guess.  The big one taking place on my Social Security card and Driver's License when we were married.

Once Elizabeth started to talk, I went from muh-muh-muh-muh-muh to a pretty pronounced mama and that's where I've stayed for about three and a half years now.

I didn't mind mama, although I called my mom mom - not growing up in the South, you just didn't hear it much.  But we are sort of in the middle living in TN, so I thought it could be a possibility that mama would stick.

Scott went from dada to daddy and to Rachel, he is dad-EEEE!!  (That would be a major accent on the second syllable there...and normally, it's high-pitched.  I have to try to catch it on tape sometime because it's beyond precious.)

We've honestly not given our parental names much thought...well, until this weekend.  You see, that's when our names changed.  It was sometime Friday or Saturday and we were out and about with the girls and, from the backseat, our oldest posed the question, "Do you think we could get pizza for"

Mom was almost whispered.  Like a kid trying out a swear word to see if he can get away with it.  She was testing me.

"Sure, honey...we can get pizza,"  I said, nodding my head.  I didn't give her any kind of reaction although I shot a sideways glance to my husband who is fluent in my silent-parent-telepathic-communication.

(Did you hear that, Scott??  She just called me MOM!  Where did that come from?)

"What do you think about"

He smiled and stuffed in a laugh.  "I think pizza will be great, Elizabeth.  We're going to go get it now."

This opened the flood gates of a weekend full of our new names.  She loved rolling them over and over again off her tongue and you could tell she felt grown-up by using them.  And boy, did she use them.  A typical conversation went like this.

"Mom, would you like a drink?
I can get your drink for you, Mom.  Would you like that, Mom?
Is that drink good, Mom?  Mom!  You sure are thirsty!
I'll take it to the kitchen for you, Mom.  Aren't I a good helper, Mom?"

And that was basically our weekend.  Scott was no different - getting his fill of dad this and dad that, with a little bit of dad-EEEE!! thrown in by Rachel.  The funniest thing was that overall, she acted older with this new vocabulary.  She was quick to help and didn't get in trouble that much, although she was still far from perfect (Well, she IS 3, after all).  She willingly washed her hands and set the table and helped with Rachel.  

Just another sign that my babies are growing up, which makes me more and more thankful to have one more little blessing to be able to love on for just a bit longer.  And I guess be mama for just a bit longer too...

I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dog Cookies

From what I read around the blog spectrum, the coolest moms make some sort of baked goods for their little children to have for afternoon snack.  Now, I have a couple issues with this...the first being that I tend to eat 90% of all baked goods I make around here, which is not a good thing when you can no longer do high intensity cardio and you're also trying not to gain a million pounds in a pregnancy.  The second issue is that my children like almost anything sweet or not good for you - so snack time is when I try to force them to eat some sort of fruit or yogurt, etc.

But yesterday, I had a weak moment and found a great recipe for granola bars over at My Baking Addiction that I thought would be fun for Elizabeth and me to make together while Rachel was sleeping.  That's the other thing in the blogosphere...lots of moms cooking with their sweet, well-behaved children.  Most of my tries in this arena have been fails, but there were a lot of dry ingredient stirring in this recipe so I thought I'd give it a try.

Not to bring up the bean incident from a couple weeks ago, but you really can't blame me for being gun shy.

That is, until Elizabeth wound herself into a giant tantrum and put herself to bed for a couple hours (score!!).  *Editor's note...and then proceeded to stay up with mom and dad until 9:30 p.m... no score*

So I decided to make the granola bars myself.  I followed the recipe pretty closely, substituting coconut oil for the vegetable oil and I also added about a 1/2 C of shredded unsweetened coconut and left out the almond slivers.  Not only did these come out incredible, but my house smelled amazing.

I was so stoked to be able to offer the little children in my house these yummy treats for a snack.  And, of course, being three and 20 months and sensing their mommy's excitement, they both took one look at them and turned up their noses.  

"I don't yike dem," Elizabeth said.  "They're dog cookies."

In fact at one point, they were both crying for apples, so I ended up slicing them each one and eating about 10 of the granola bars.  Major loss for the no-sugar goal and also for my waist line.  *sigh*

Oh well, maybe YOUR kids will like them.  Or forget the kids, maybe YOU well and then us dog cookie eaters can unite together.  As it stands, the girls who work the nursery at the Y were thrilled to see me come in with a container of goodies for them. You know, so I didn't eat the entire batch today.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ten Years Ago...

Borrowed from Pure Nourishment (Facebook)

I ended up taking the girls home to my parents' house a couple months ago since my sister had a week off work and, you know, I'm crazy since we had just driven 7 hours to the beach the weekend before...  But that's how much I love my sister.

So anyway, while we were home, my dad threw an organizer across the couch to me and made a comment about did I ever wonder what I was doing in 2001.  I just laughed at the time and let it stay on the desk for a while, but while waiting for Elizabeth to give up the ghost one night and fall asleep, I sat outside her room and flipped through two years of my life.


Of course, being part hoarder (as my husband claims) I never throw anything away, so there were two years worth of calendars packed into this little three-ring zip up binder along with notes and a library card and about 55 cents in change.

I didn't realize the power in reading over years of your life and how powerfully those random tests and dinners, ball games and dates would come back in living color.  I had trouble sleeping that night because my mind just kept running over the people and time that was (yikes!) ten years ago.  Which got me wondering...what would the 22-year-old Annie think about the 32-year-old Annie?  And what advice would I shoot back her way?

Now don't get me wrong here, I am not one of those people who would ever desire to live it all over again.  I think there are events and times that I might do differently if I could, but I also know that every little turn and action has lead me to where I am today...and that is happier than I ever could have imagined being.

Ah...the 22-year-old Annie.  Serious and focused and nervous about getting her future right and hard-working and a perfectionist.  The calendars in the planner covered my junior and senior years at Campbell and I was pretty anal at the time about keeping lists and a detailed schedule.  Well, and I had a lot going on.  Reading back through it, I relived the moments when I began to doubt my print journalism career path and swung a 180 towards Athletics Administration.  I had countless hours logged in the athletics training room, which as frustrating as it was that I couldn't play, resulted in a very close relationship with my trainer...which was why I introduced him to my best friend and they have been married for nine years now.  (Happy Anniversary Ben and Amanda!)  I saw deadlines for assignments and tests I remember cramming for.   I also witnessed a focused junior year and then watched senioritis set in as I recorded less and less in my senior year. 

I wonder what she would say if she knew, at 32, she'd have given up the career path she so desired to stay at home with her two small kids.  Would she be disappointed to learn that she wasn't in line to be an Athletics Director somewhere or winning conference as a head softball coach?  Would she be surprised that she' be able to cook certain meals with her eyes closed and not be intimidated around a chopping board, or have been married to the love of her life for five years.  I wonder what she'd think about us shopping for a minivan or that I no longer run significant mileage.  

And what would I say to her?  What advice would I send back if I could?  Good grief - this opens up a whole can of worms, doesn't it?  What advice would YOU send back to your former self?

Well, here goes...

Don't worry so much - you don't have to be perfect.  No one cares if you aren't.

Cherish your friends because they get far too few and between when you're older and you won't be able to see them every day and walk to the post office and eat lunch and laugh until your stomach hurts.  

Oh, by the way, laugh until your stomach hurts!

Appreciate your professors who take the time to teach and explain - and tell Mr. Ensley that you enjoy his class and how much he means to you and that not too many days go by that you don't complain about television broadcasting because of the lessons he taught.  He was gone too soon.

Continue to work hard to accomplish your dreams - hard work will never hurt you.  

And yes, 10 years later you will still regret that only B you got in college in Business Law.  You could study a little harder for that one, buddy.

Don't worry so much about pleasing people and what they think about you.  Most of the people you are worried about aren't even around in ten years, so do your best and let the rest ride.   

Wear sunglasses, for the love of goodness.  You may not be worried about wrinkles now, but they sure will pop up later from all your squinting on the ball field!

There are no five year plans.  You will never guess where you'll be in five years and you'll flip out over ten...but I can guarantee you, the ride will be worth it.  Don't worry about the planning part.  Have faith and pray your way through it.

Am I crazy that I'm the only one that thinks about this stuff?  Or maybe I'm the only one who still has an organizer around from 2001...I'll buy that too!  Share, my friends...

Monday, October 24, 2011

I have decided...

That I am not a photographer.  In an attempt to capture my children in all their Sunday cuteness (and momentary cleanness), I thought it would be a good idea to get a picture for the Christmas card.  We thought about going through a professional, but I really don't want to get a whole family shoot done before the new baby comes and would rather just spend the money in the spring to capture the whole complete family.

This is my favorite shot, with Scott trying to get them set, Elizabeth picking her nose and Rachel running off for the umpteenth time.  Somehow, I don't see my Grandma being thrilled to open this one in her Christmas card!!

That hot chocolate is not for toddlers.  Last Wednesday was our first cold day and I told Elizabeth she could have hot chocolate during nap time. 

I must have had a moment of sheer stupidity in my currently-pregnant state.

I heated the water and realized that the mug I was going to put it in would not only be too hot but would spill within two seconds.  So I took the lid off a thermal sippy and filled it with the hot chocolate and added a couple marshmallows - you know, because I'm a cool mom.  I handed the cup to my thrilled three-year-old with the spoon in it.

While she was sitting on the carpet.  I know, just commit me.

So I sit down to do some work on the computer and five minutes later, in trots Elizabeth buck naked and with the cup in her hand.  

"I want some more, mama."  

"Elizabeth, there is plenty in there - you just ate all the marshmellows and where is your underwear?"  

"Oh...they were all chocolatey."

So I put the lid on the sippy and the little streaker trotted back into the living room, happy as a lark. 

Now to get the stains out of her clothes...and the carpet...

That, when avoiding sugary afternoon treats, one might not want to offer carrots and peanut butter to little children who do not like carrots.  Here, Elizabeth sucked off the peanut butter, chewed up the carrots and then proceeded to spit them out in my hand.  Lovely.

That, when avoiding afternoon television zombism, one might not want to offer her little children a bag of navy beans to "cook" with on the floor like her Memaw did for her.  One, my Memaw was a saint and always picked up the few stray beans.  Two, I enjoyed this activity and was a somewhat normal child.  Three, my children are hooligans who threw the beans all over creation and then proceeded to eat them.  Dry beans.  Tonight for dinner, I made cheesy ranch chicken, which has Elizabeth's name written all over it and she wouldn't touch it.  But she would eat old, dry navy beans. 

Rachel "heping" scoop up the beans.  Those little speaks all over the floor are them!

So innocent...ha!

 Hope you have a wonderful Monday!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I have been blessed...

I don't know if you're familiar with this song, but it rocked out most of my graduate school career, blaring from my Martina McBride CD in my little white Chevy Cavalier with the windows rolled down (I didn't have AC).

I loved it then, my future simply being a sparkle in my own eye.  And hearing it today while running on the treadmill...well, I tell you, the words almost brought me to my knees.

This song speaks to me because I HAVE been blessed.  

I have 2.5 wonderful children.  They grow fast and have strong opinions and actions and are quick to say please and thank you and I love you and NO.  They give great hugs and love to snuggle under warm blankets.  They still call for mama when they get upset and also blame me for everything they get upset about.  

I have a loving husband who works hard to successfully provide for our family so that I can stay home and raise our kids.  This wasn't in the plans when we started having kids.  Funny how God plants seeds and steers our lives down paths we never dreamed of.  And he loves me.  I never have any doubt how much he does and hope I provide that same stability as a wife.

I have great friends and family who call for no reason and send cards and coupons and pray for me and ask me to pray for them. They drop by or make special trips from out of town.

I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge and clothes in the closet.  Whoa...I have been blessed.

Thank you Martina McBride for this beautiful song and the reminder and refocus of my day.  I hope that you all have a great weekend - and if you want to share what your blessings are, I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I'm not going to be able to walk tomorrow

This is what I get for trying a new workout 18 weeks pregnant...SORE LEGS!  

I found Peanut Butter Fingers through a search for cooking spaghetti squash in the Crockpot, of all things, and really fell in love with the creator and her ideas and workouts.  Sometimes it's nice to wander out of the mommy zone and remember what it was like to be 26...with a waist-line... *sigh*

Anyway, today, I tried her Sure to Make you Sore Leg Workout and it did not disappoint.  I liked the idea of starting with 100 squats to burn the legs out, although I am all-out impressed that she was able to do them with 80 lbs.  Me?  I did them with a 9 lb Body Bar...woo-to-the-hoo...

Workout from Peanut Butter Fingers - these were Julie's stats when she recorded the workout.
I warmed up running for 15 minutes on the treadmill, and let me tell you, this baby is not crazy about running.  I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to be able to go, but today I was able to at least run straight without stopping, even if it was at a 4.8 pace. (And I didn't have to stop to run to the bathroom...yay bladder!)

Like I said, I did all 100 squats, breaking them into groups of 25 with the 9 lb Body Bar.  I wasn't sure about being able to manage the leg press with my belly, so I opted to do step-ups on the bench instead.  My first set of deadlifts, I tried with the bar, which was awkward, so I switched to 15 lb dumbbells for the final two sets and that worked out better and gave me a better range of motion.

Now, I was tempted to use the excuse that I had to get my little children from the nursery so I didn't have TIME to do the exercise ball squats or curls, but truth is people, I couldn't move anymore.  Doing those 100 squats at the beginning really maxed me out. 

I used very little weight (I just did body weight lunges) and felt an immediate reaction - something I haven't had in a while since I've really simpled down my lifts due to the pregnancy - so this workout could easily be something that you could try at home, even if you don't have equipment. 

Good luck!  And check out Peanut Butter Fingers and show her some love!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cold and Rainy Wednesday

If you didn't get it from the title, today is cold and rainy.  

Scott had to be at work early - as in 6:45 a.m. early (yikes!) - so Elizabeth climbed into bed with me and snuggled up.  And proceeded to poke and pry open my eyes.

"Mama, I yika you eyes."

"Thank you, Elizabeth.  I like your eyes too.  Please don't poke mine out."

She followed me downstairs with her big fuzzy blanket and cuddled up on the couch to watch the news, the weather outside setting the mood for the day.  Like most mornings, she quizzed me in order to survey the day's situation.

"What we doing today, Mama?"

I have created two little busy-bodies that hate staying at home.  Every morning, they ask for the plan - even Rachel, who talks in a jumbled mess but throws in "Y" and "library" so I know her basic question.

"Well, we're going to go to the Y and then maybe we'll fix some hot chocolate during nap time and then we need to go to the store."

"What we got to get?  Toys??"

My child is very eager for Christmas and the early displays have not disappointed these two.  I have to pin them both in the cart when I walk down the aisles, otherwise they would trip over their own feet as their eyes bugged out of their head.  It's stimulus overload in it's finest form.

"No...mama has to get panty hose."

I haven't had much occasion to wear panty hose past the third grade, when I remember the crotch falling down and being just plain irritating.  I normally will go to any other measure than to wear hose, but this Saturday, I have a hot date.

Scott's company is hosting a to-do at a pretty snazzy restaurant and we have a babysitter.  Upon announcing the event, my considerate husband, knowing his wife's fashion incompetence, said, "You're going to need to wear high heels."

"I know!"  I said, scoffing the idea of my own clothing inadequacy.  Actually, my mind had already been racing along what to wear and had decided on two dresses that my lovely friend Susie had passed down to me - both maternity and both made in this decade, which shoots them straight to the top in my closet.  However, the problem with dresses was that I had to wear hose.  

And my non-maternity options stop just at my thighs...there's no getting those bad boys up.  I've tried.  Stupid control tops. So I'm off to search for pregnancy panty hose...and a pair of high heels that will fill my husband's requirements.  

Shoe shopping with two small children - that just shoots straight to the top of my list of things I want to do in life - right under a root canal.  

I'll let you know how it goes.  Or maybe I'll just curl up under the big comfy blanket on the couch and watch it rain.  Because that sounds waaaay better than shoe shopping!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater!

Ok, so poor Peter - I took his nursery rhyme for my title - but it was just too catchy for what I needed.  

I told you Thursday about how Scott and I were doing this cleanse together and it omitted certain things from our diets, including coffee??  

Well, I am happy to report that I stayed steady for a little over 24 hours...and then I threw in the towel.

Friday morning I woke up, not wanting eggs without cheese.  In fact, the idea flat made me gag.  I glared at my happy children enjoying their yummy, warm oatmeal and the coffee pot just sitting there on the counter, not even earning it's keep.  It took me an hour to get everything ready to make the vegetable juice that would be my breakfast and I then drank it begrudgingly rather than joyfully.

Stupid trying to get healthy...stupid...  (You know you're losing it when the moping in your head doesn't even make sense.)

Don't even get me started on the sad puppy of a husband that followed me downstairs and couldn't have a shake for breakfast.  

My rain cloud followed me to the gym, where I made it through my workout, but I didn't break any records, not to mention much of a sweat.

Stupid no energy from this stupid diet...stupid...

Scott met us back home, as he was going to work a couple hours from the dining room table, and I heated us up some leftover beef stew from the night before.  The food improved my mood, but not much.  An hour later, I'd had enough.  Draping myself dramatically across the table, I looked at my working husband and said, in my best whiny three-year-old imitation:

"I want to cheat."

He didn't even look up from the computer.


I popped up.  "What?  OK?? What about the cleanse?"

"We did it a hundred percent for 24 hours.  Let's just make modifications for the things that we absolutely need.  Like coffee and shakes."

Shaking hands on the deal, we both jumped up, me to start the coffee pot and him to raid his BSN stash.  Of course, we didn't agree to cookies, but I managed to have five of them that afternoon (blowing my no-sugar week out of the water) and also my beloved Friday dinner sandwich - as pregnancy cravings win out over diet plans most days of the week for me.

Sunday was a full cheat day for us and we joined our friends, the Jebsens, for Pumpkin Pancake Palooza at their house after church.  Susie made the most amazing pancakes with warm apple syrup...mmmm...and coffee...and a teensy slice of apple pie for dessert.  Good food with good company - what a great Sunday!  We topped off the night with pizza, since the day was a loss anyway and went to bed happy and full.

This morning, I was in a much better frame of mind to enjoy my specified hard boiled eggs and grapefruit and be back on the plan.  We have noticed a difference, even if doing this for a short time.  Of course, my husband has lost ten pounds while doing this for less than a week (men!!) and I have noticed a significantly lesser amount of swelling in my legs since starting this.  After Rachel was born, I held a lot of water around my legs and when I got pregnant this time, they seemed to swell up a little too quickly for my liking.  So the relief the past few days has been wonderful, although I wonder which element of my diet was contributing to this...

Thankfully, I can rule out coffee... ;)

Happy Monday, my friends!  If you are No-Sugaring it with me, we have two full weeks left!  Tell me about your cheat weekend!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall Play and Pumpkin Chili

I love fall.  There's just something about the colors and the smells and the cooler temperatures...

and the food!

It's been pretty warm here in TN and we have been bombarded with the most irritating gnats in our front yard.  I think we just need a good freeze to get rid of them, but until then, they will just continue to be a pain.  So last week, when we got a good rain and they all went into hiding, we headed out for some good bike riding.
Of course, to double-up was Rachel's idea.  She is her daddy's child.

Trial run while her sister was distracted.

And we're off!

Still going!
And just in case you need the real thing...

I also find myself craving all things pumpkin and apple once the temperatures begin to dip and last night, we made pumpkin chili for the first time this fall.  I can't lie, the first time we saw it, we crinkled our nose at the thought.  But every time we make it, we can't believe how good and flavorful it is and I encourage you to give it a try if you even remotely like chili or pumpkin pie.  

Something about the sweet and spicy combination...probably the same reason why they would always serve cinnamon rolls with chili in elementary school...or was that just my elementary school?

I got this recipe out of an Oxygen Magazine about a cagillion years ago and it's so worn from being referenced so many times that I don't have all the information to reference it properly.  But I am openly saying that this isn't my recipe and I don't alter it.  Well, because it's so good!

Pumpkin Tomato Chili
By Nancy Kennedy and Bobby Strom via Oxygen

1 tsp olive oil
2 lb extra lean, ground turkey breast
1 large onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
5 1/2 cups no-sodium tomato juice (I used V8)
(2) 14 1/2 oz cans no-salt, peeled and diced tomatoes with juice
1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (I just used the whole smaller can - it's a little more than this)
2 tbsp sugar-free maple syrup (or the real stuff if that's what you have)
1 1/2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Add olive oil to large pot and brown the ground turkey.  Drain off fat and add onion and red pepper and cook for about 5 minutes.  Stir in beans, tomato juice, diced tomatoes, pumpkin puree and maple syrup.  Season with pumpkin pie spice, chili powder and nutmeg.  Simmer for 1 hour, serve.

Now if you are a spice-wuss like me, this will be perfect for you.  However, if you like any sort of heat with your chili, my husband recommends adding red pepper flakes and hot sauce to the final product.  To each his own!

We also love this with a little fat free sour cream, shredded cheese and lime Tostitos...mmmm...which also ups the bad-for-you factor, but the chili itself is so clean, you can get away with it.  (At least that's what I tell myself!)

Trust us on this one and try it!  And I hope your fall weather is bug free so far!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Coffee...I need coffee...

I don't think I've ever gone back and talked about Scott's back surgery and the total spin it put on our lives to land us here and completely put our lives in God's hands.  And this isn't necessarily the time to do that, but I'm just throwing the idea out there to give you the background info that we know backs in our house.  And chiropractors.

We love them and trust them and have had great ones and bad ones.  Well, Scott tweaked his back a couple weeks ago, getting ready for a powerlifting competition and it put us in search of a good one again.  Thankfully, we found one and Scott really likes and trusts him.

The other day, he gave him this handy-dandy pamphlet on nutrition and a cleanse to help heal your body.  After reading through it last night, he handed it to me and announced that he was going to start it.  Tomorrow.  

Now, I have had my share of friends try cleanses and, honestly, it hasn't ever been anything that's interested me because they've all involved drinking tons or weird drinks and not eating anything and, well that's out right now for Miss Prego here.  But this was different and is a basic, three stage clean eating plan that is similar to what we've done before, the first stage eliminating some fruits and starches and dairy and basically, junk.

So I agreed to join him because there's no point in one person in our house going about anything alone...and then I read what else this first stage eliminated...


As in, my life-blood.  (All of my friends just pulled in a sharp breath between their teeth, because as I live, I drink coffee, people.)

So I shared this information with my husband and he too, sucked air in his teeth because he is my love and fellow addict.  And then I let him know what else it eliminated...whey protein.  (And all of Scott's friends just fainted because very few have seen him without an EAS shaker at some point during the day.)

But move ahead we did, in the name of health, and have proceeded to be zombies together all day without our caffeine mana...

Which leads me to my main point that mothers with small children should never go off caffeine.  Undoubtedly, they become whinier, louder, bader forms of your previous children.

So this morning, I got up and proceeded to drink three large cups of tea, in hopes that it could touch the caffeine buzz that I am used to in order to go on with a normal existence.  It didn't, but at least it took the edge off as Elizabeth came downstairs after having dressed herself in clothes from the dirty clothes hamper.  Seeing the spaghetti stains from yesterday simply made me crave that sweet coffee and creamer more and I sent her back upstairs to "find something clean!  From your drawers!  And put those back in the dirty clothes."

So this was the outfit she came back down with and I'm not sure it's much better than spaghetti stains, but at least it's clean.  She loves leggings, of any color, and this shirt is one of her favorites.  She's also wearing striped purple socks.  Why yes, I dressed Rachel...I AM GOING OFF COFFEE, OK?!  IT REALLY LOOKS CUTE IN PERSON. 

After yet another fit (by Elizabeth, not me...ha!), my fashionistas and I headed to the Y and we all came out after an hour with better attitudes and decided to make a run to Kroger for all the healthy food that daddy and I needed for our new diet.

I don't know why I went to the nice Kroger...I should have just gone to the one right down from our house that we normally frequent.  The one that knows me and shoots knowing glances in the direction of the frazzled, pregnant again mother with two small children.  But I thought the nice one would have nicer produce and it was conveniently located right next to a Chick-Fil-A that I could use as bribery for my children, who tend to run sprints up and down the aisles.  

(By the way, Elizabeth and Rachel are not joining us on the diet...I know my limits, people.  And my limit stops at no cheese or Dora yogurt for my daughters.)

The shopping trip went beautifully...our best ever, in fact.  My children were cute and happy and didn't run and ate their free cookies from the bakery (another bribe...I have no shame) and then we went to the check out.  

Now, if stores could create checkout lanes with no candy, I would wait in line for the thing.  As it goes, I play the slap hands game as my children grab Mentos, Rolos, and their favorite - Tic Tacs.  They've never eaten these candies,  they just like the looks or (in Tic Tacs case) sound of them.  Meanwhile, I am trying to squeeze by the grocery cart that has the car attached to the front and is as wide as a semi with my big pregnant belly and reach the groceries over the cart to the conveyer.  All while the check out lady stands and watches me and eyes up my children's ensembles.

Really...I didn't need her help...

So we got it all loaded and past the candy and as she gives me the total, I look up and see that Elizabeth has climbed out of the plastic car and is running for these bins of candy.

As in open bins.  You know, the kinds with the scoops?   So I keep one eye on her as I slide my debit card and in no time, watch her open a bin of gummy worms, pull one out and put it in her mouth, spit it out and put it back in the bin.  

They were sour.

I could have been in a movie, with the delayed, "Noooooooo!!" as I lunged towards my oldest child and grabbed her by the arm, dragging her back to the cart.  Because seriously, what was I going to do?  Rummage through for the wet one?  Buy the whole bin?   No.  I did what came first to my head and high tailed it out of the nice Kroger, where I can never show my face again.  Seriously, we'll just stick close to home and eat lesser produce.  It'll be fine.

Of course, my best friend Amanda called on our way home and, upon hearing my saga, died laughing, adding into it my episode yesterday where I caught Elizabeth washing her hands in the toilet.

"So old potty fingers doesn't like gummy worms, huh?"  

Coffee...I need coffee... 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Sometimes I forget to enjoy today...

I'm not sure if I'm the only one, but often times I find myself looking forward to something...

When Rachel will be potty trained.

When we can afford something on my wish-list.

When I can get my waist-line back.

When I know what the baby is.

When my husband has an extra vacation day.

When my children are more self-sufficient.

You might have more to add to the list.  And I get so caught up in looking forward that I forget to...well, look present.   

This week has especially found me in that zone - appointments at the doctor, chores needing to be done, phones dropping in dishwater, children raising a ruckus in general, realizing that Christmas is just around the corner (yikes!), and looking forward to the weekend when I can cheat on this no-sugar ridiculousness I've gotten myself into.    I find myself looking forward to some imaginary time when things will be easier and life will be simpler and forget completely to be...


I have never been more blessed than I am RIGHT NOW and if I'm not careful, I'll miss the little hugs and "I wuv you mama" and "I can do it myself!" and just the simple time when a soft blanket and their favorite stuffed animal can make all their worries go away.  

And those are things I never want to miss. 

Enjoy your day, my friends.  Enjoy what you do and have and the blessings that are in your life.  Tomorrow will be here soon enough.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Batch Cooking - Roasting Chickens

Last Sunday, Rachel woke up at 5:15 a.m. squalling and clinging and wanting held.  Being my sleeper of the two, I knew that if she arose before her normal 7:00 a.m. wake-up call, then something was bugging her.  We tried rocking and watching Mickey and going back to bed with Mama and nothing was very satisfying to her.  

Actually, when I laid down in bed, I wasn't really thinking straight (being 5:30 and all) and I laid on my back and put her on my chest to see if she would calm down.  The baby is still too little for me to feel all the time, but she must have put pressure on just the right spot because I felt her little brother or sister just hitting and kicking away as if to tell the big lug to get off me!!!  Of course, Rachel couldn't feel her first sibling fight, but it made me smile, despite the early hours.  

My little fighter at 16 weeks.

So we decided to stay home from church and wait out her mood and, since it was cold, I decided that I was going to heat up the oven and spend the morning in the kitchen.  

I had bought two roaster chickens the day before at Harris Teeter when they were $.59/lb and I was thinking that I would roast one in the oven and put one in the Crockpot...until it dawned on me that maybe I could do them both in my roasting pan at the same time.

After researching whether this would work (i.e., Googling), I decided to give it a go and the result was wonderful and took me far less time than if I had used my Crockpot.  (Plus, the next day was garbage day so we wanted to get the scraps in the trash that night...priorities, priorities...)

I threw what veggies I had in the bottom of the roasting pan (carrots, garlic and onions - I didn't have any celery or I would have added that too), washed and dried my chickens and then rubbed them down with salt and pepper and seasoning salt.  I also took about a tbsp of butter and rubbed it on the skin and then just dropped it into the pan (you could also do this with olive oil, but I already had the butter out).  
What??  Chicken butt!!
I cooked them for 25 minutes at 475 degrees and then backed the oven down to 350 and let them go another hour (or until internal temperature was 160).  Not only did my house warm up and smell heavenly, but I also was greeted with something you can never get from the Crockpot...pan drippings.  

I removed the birds and let them cool and then shredded them, throwing the scraps into my big stock pot.  I think it's easier to shred when they're still a little warm - but I have been known to just stick them in the fridge and deal with them the next day like a lazy slug.  Then, I turned on the burners under my roasting pan and started adding flour to my drippings until I had a nice looking gravy (hence my other reason for choosing butter).  I added one chicken worth of shredded goodness.

I  had some mushrooms that were coming close to the end of their life span, so I chopped them up and sauteed them and threw them in the gravy and added salt and pepper, garlic powder and onion powder to taste.  

mmmmmmmmmmm...such easy comfort food.  I cooled it and bagged it up to serve over some rice on a cool day.  The rest of the chicken, I cooled and bagged into two cup portions that will work perfect later in a casserole or quesidillas.   I added onions, garlic, carrots and salt and pepper to the scraps on the stove and enough water to cover everything and set it to simmer for the next three or four hours.  

Which created the perfect aroma by which to nap...

Now, the stock step is one that I never skip because we eat soup a lot in this house - and in the winter, I normally fix a different soup about once a week because it's filling, lower in calories (normally) and an easy way for me to sneak vegetables to my kids.  So I skimmed it and bagged it and stuck it in the freezer.

And my husband was happy because at that point, I finally threw out the carcasses and he could take out the trash.  :)

So that was my latest adventure in batch cooking and it really didn't take that much time.  I also made banana bread and applesauce while the chicken was cooking and was wrapping it all up (except for the stock) by lunch time.  

Not that I felt like making lunch by that time... ha!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


It's 9:30 at night and I just finished cleaning my children's bathroom.

And by cleaning, I mean Cloroxing.  Yes...the hard stuff.

Today has been a day.  Rachel is cutting eye teeth and is just a joy to be around and she's chosen to throw her joy with full force at my legs whenever I enter into a room and then scream until she's picked up.  Elizabeth has just been...well, she's been 3.  And that involves running, screaming, picking at her cranky sister and apparently coloring on the wall, which I found at about 8:00 tonight.  Who knows when that happened.

And I have to admit to you that I haven't had the best attitude through it all.  Sometimes I can fake it but today was tough.  What made it tougher was that Scott thought he'd be home early and then had a meeting come up at the last minute and had to be late...and it wasn't even that he was all that late, but I'd just gotten my hopes up to see him early.  And I kind of like my husband.

And I especially miss him when our youngest is a kamikaze fit baby and our oldest is drawing on walls.  

So I wasn't in the most positive frame of mind when I scooted my children upstairs to get baths.  It was about 30 minutes earlier than we normally go and I figured that if I could just get them ready for bed, we could read for the rest of the time until Scott got home. 

Now, let me back up for a minute and tell you that my kids are schedule babies.  Have I told you that?  We do things at about the same time every day and we stay on the move.  This is on purpose because it's how I best function - plain and simple.  Now, I'm not talking to the second, but we stay on course most of the time.  We eat close to the same time, nap at the same time, go to bed around the same time...this also positively effects *ahem* bodily functions and those tend to happen close to the same time every day as well.  

I wasn't thinking about how Rachel normally does her thing during the time the girls play after dinner...when I clean up the kitchen...the same kitchen that I cleaned up early tonight while the girls were eating.  So we headed up the stairs and got our pj's out and sat on the potty while the bath filled up.

We've been introducing Rachel to the potty because she's shown some interest and mainly because I cringe at the thought of her in diapers when the new baby is born.  She's gone a couple times, but she doesn't love sitting there for a long time.  Tonight was no exception and she bounced up, ready to get in the tub.  Elizabeth, however, was occupied on the big potty and appeared she would camp out there for some time...singing songs and trying to teach Rachel her letters (Rachel has letters and numbers that stick on the wall of the bathtub that we've been working on far, everything is E...I'm sure Elizabeth had nothing to do with that one).

Now, let me back up one more time and tell you that my kids have a poop face.  They always have, although Elizabeth's has always been worse - turning read and scrunching up her eyes.  My mom and sisters find it hilarious.  Rachel has mostly been a phantom pooper, but if you're watching her closely, you can tell.  So as I turned around from throwing their clothes into the dirty clothes basket, I saw the face beginning on my youngest...

She was in the tub.  

So I grabbed her and stuck her on the little potty (big potty STILL being occupied) just in time for her to make it.  Elizabeth was thrilled.  "Rachel poo-poo in the potty!!  Rachel poo-poo in the potty!!"  Rachel, however, wasn't as excited and jumped up as soon as I let go of her and bounded for the tub once again.  

The routine continued and I ran to get the Lysol wipes to wipe down the little potty when the time came that I could finally dump Rachel's deed and since I had the wipes out, I started on the crusted toothpaste in the sink when I heard my oldest:


Now, some mothers go through their small children's lives and never experience this moment and so farr, I was a member of this oh-so-elite club.  Until tonight.  I grabbed my now-screaming, just having poo-poo'd child out of the tub and tried to devise a game plan.  Everything had poo-poo on it...the letters and numbers, the bathmat, the tub, my child...  And I still wasn't thinking quite straight because actually what was going through my head was, "Where is your daddy??"

So I did the only thing that seemed reasonable and drained the tub...which promptly resulted in poo-poo stuck in the drain.  Joy.  Yanking my oldest off her throne, I marched my two now-wet and screaming children into our master bathroom and proceeded to hose them down and give them the fastest shower/baths known to man.

During which time, my loving husband came in calling, "Where is everybody??"

"Daddy!  Rachel poo-poo'd in the tub!!"  our oldest gleefully reported. 

Rachel confirmed, "Poo-poo, Daddy!  Hi Daddy!!"

To which my husband looked at his tired, pregnant and very cranky wife, looked at his two drowned rats, turned me around with both hands on my shoulders and kissed me square on the lips.  

"I'm sorry I was late," he said.  "I'll get the Clorox."

And that's why I love him.

So let me get to the moral of the story and tell you that I have learned three things from this experience.

1.  Do not get in a rush even on your roughest days.  Because small children do not rush.  They really know no time schedule except their own.

2.  I am fortunate to have a husband that not only works hard for our family but also helps me out at home.  I realize that I am lucky to have an equal partner in the household chores and I am thankful that he gives the girls baths every night, leaving me some quiet to clean up the kitchen (and whatever else is required).  There are very few occasions that I have to "do it all."

3.  I would not recommend giving up sugar at a time that you are surrounded by little children and you are also in a position that you cannot drink wine...

I'm just saying...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Rachel is on day 3 of the ultimate crabby-whinies. 

I am on day 2 of no sugar, which means I cannot wallow in cookies or brownies or yummy sweetened coffee when my baby has the crabby-whinines.

And Elizabeth has just asked to watch the Fox and the Hound, possibly the saddest Disney movie ever created.

I'm telling you, people, I may just not make it out of this one.

So...desperate times call for desperate measures...

It's hard to be down with Walking on Sunshine...  I'm just saying...

Enjoy your day!

Monday, October 3, 2011

30-Day Sugar Challenge!!

Yay!  Day 1 of the 30-Day Sugar Challenge!!  I hope I have some of you on-board with me and you've already been conscious of what you're eating this morning.  I'm going to post some tips on what I've found to be helpful and ideas you might have to substitute sugar and I'm looking forward to hearing your success stories!  

One of my weakest moments is after breakfast - I always fish in the refrigerator for dessert from the night before or just something little and sweet.  Until this morning...I had a half a grapefruit to wrap up my eggs and toast and, let me tell you, I want nothing else.  

Ever eat or drink anything after grapefruit?  BLEH!!!  I'm not even looking forward to brushing my teeth.  

So, just an idea.  Of course, if you don't have or like grapefruit, you could substitute any fruit to satisfy your sweet craving.  If after meals are your weak time, to immediately brush your teeth as soon as you get up from the table will help keep you from picking as you clean up the kitchen.  Or you could keep mouthwash beside the sink to gargle.  Or in your bag or desk to use at work when you're tempted by the vending machine.  Whatever works!

Speaking of whatever works, how you do this is your call.  As I said earlier, I'm not doing artificial sweeteners, but am sticking to honey and maple syrup because I'm pregnant.  You may decide that you want to give yourself the leniency.  It's up to you!  Also, I am using the weekends as cheats - so I eat clean all week and then whatever I want on the weekends.  Let me tell you, this was my first weekend doing so and I feel like a slug today.  I did get rid of all those pesky cookies and remaining Rice Krispie treat that had been screaming at me from the refrigerator all week though...  Although I'm actually looking forward to going back strict today.  

Decide you want to do this but have leftover sweets you don't want to waste?  Bag 'em up and freeze them to save them for the weekend!  We do this with birthday cake anyway since we can't eat it all at once.  And that's my plan for the rest of the apple pie I got from the grocery store yesterday...

Hey!  It was my cheat day!  :)

Good luck with your day one!