A Great Meal

The Daily question for today is…  “What was your last great meal?”

Mmmm…  Anyone who knows me, knows I love food.  I love trying new foods.  I love cooking and baking and trying new recipes. (Which is probably why I’m needing to lose some weight…  Ha!)

But my last great meal?  I didn’t have to think long – it was last weekend!  The epitome of simplicity and “ordinary.”

Kabobs.  Over a campfire.  Oh yum.

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Steak.  Chicken.  Red bell peppers.  Green bell peppers.  Small portabella mushrooms.  A little teriyaki.

Campfire smoke.

Fresh air.

Listening to baby in the tent, giggling with Daddy.  Feeling relaxed and thankful.

Great meal.  (Isn’t it funny?  The food tasted great – but just as important was where I was and what I was feeling.)

What was your last great meal?

Made it Monday – Pool!

We finally “made it” to the pool this summer!  (Which is silly…  We live in a neighborhood with two beautiful pools…)  Between the summer being a little cooler than usual, our vacations, the pool hours (opening at 10am), avoiding the peak sun times, Hubby getting home around 4:30…  And Sawyer’s dinner and bedtime rituals beginning at 5:30pm…  We just hadn’t made it to the pool yet.

It’s August!

And we’re so pale!

(I usually half live at the pool during the summer!)

But we finally made it.  Sawyer was wearing all the ridiculous sun-protection clothing and sunscreen.  He looked hilarious.  (But I saw the news last week – apparently, we’re all going to get skin cancer.  So might as well protect the next generation from the very beginning…)

We started gradually.  I sat on the step with the little guy.  He dipped his toes and we splashed a bit.  He was slow to to smile.  But eventually thought that was pretty cool.

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Then, we let him stand on a step.  Since he loves standing anywhere – that was a big hit!  Now we were having fun!

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Mike eventually took him into the water and pulled him around a bit – then the smiles really came!  And he started kicking – loving it!

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He was perfectly happy lounging in Daddy’s arms, enjoying the show that all the other kids were putting on.  He was entranced by the splashing and laughing and yelling.  The pool “noodles” even caught his attention – curiosity peaked.

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So cute.  What a fun way to spend our Sunday afternoon!

Isn’t it funny how the simplest things become magical again, once you have a baby in the house?  Watching them experience things for the first time is so enchanting.  The wide, bright eyes.  The wonder.  The uncertainty.  The excitement.  The joy.

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It was pretty clear to the other moms at the pool that it was Sawyer’s first trip to the pool.  (They all had that knowing smile and chuckle as they watched us…)  One mom even offered to take our picture.  I love it!

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Did you accomplish any goals lately?  (I hope they were as fun as a day at the pool!)

Camping Out…

Camping out…  is a lot different than it used to be!

My hubby and I love to camp.  Love it.  And we’re good campers.  Happy campers.  Efficient campers.  We’ve got this down – whether it be car camping or a short backpacking trip.  We’ve got it.

Til baby came along.  Ha!  We’re bound and determined to continue camping…  It’s just that it’s… a little different these days.

We get to camp on a Friday night, around 5pm.  While Mike sets up camp, Sawyer and I play and read books on a picnic blanket.  And he eats dinner – while trying not to make such a mess that the bugs swarm!  It’s tricky, but we do it!  By the time his dinner is gone and cleaned up, it’s “supposedly” time to get ready for bed.  I start the bedtime ritual while my hubby is making the campfire and beginning to cook our dinner.

Bedtime?  Are you kidding?!  We get the jammies on, read a couple of stories, say our prayers, have a bottle, sing a little…  And then?  Well, apparently it’s playtime!

Sawyer loves the tent.  Loves that he’s laying beside us and can roll over and grab our face at any time.  (It gives him the giggles.)  He wants to crawl, to stand, to roll in our sleeping bags and over our pillows.  He stares out the door at the kids walking by.  He hears dogs barking and perks up to see what’s going on.  I gotta say, it is pretty fun laying in the tent with him…

All of a sudden, Daddy comes to play in the tent, and tells me to go eat my dinner.  Seriously?!  He’s made and eaten his dinner already?!  Time goes fast when you’re trying to get a little one to sleep…

So we switch roles.  I go out to the campfire and eat my delicious kabobs.  And in the tent?  It’s not any quieter…  I can hear laughing and giggles.  That kid is not going to sleep anytime soon.

They emerge from the tent at 8:30.  Sawyer’s having the time of his life.  And I’m realizing there will be no “mommy and daddy time” at the campfire tonight.  And that’s ok.  He’s a happy kid.  And this is what it’s all about, right?

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The magic of being outside as the sun sets.  The smell of the campfire.  The flames dancing and hypnotizing anyone who looks at them – including the babe.  The fresh air.  The scent of rain coming.  Hearing thunder in the distance…

Oh wait!  What?  Is that rain I feel?

Yep…  Quick, into the tent!  A downpour!  Thunder!  Lightening!

I was a little nervous.  Sawyer’s eyes were big – yet, he played harder than ever at first…  And then passed out in my arms during the heaviest part of the storm.  Oh dear…

An exciting night.  That’s for sure.  Not what we expected.  Not what we planned.  But I’m so appreciating our ability to enjoy it for what it is.  And loving how well Mike and I work as a team.  We may not get much time together at the campfire…  But we love seeing Sawyer wiggle and giggle and hear each other’s laughing, too.  We’ll figure this out the more we do it.  But for now, it’s not exactly a bad way to spend a Friday night.  We’ll take it!

My Heart Hurts

Ugh…  I have to stop watching the news.

As a new mom, everything just seems so overwhelming…  Everything brings tears to my eyes.  It all just hurts.  Hurts my heart.

Internationally, we see Israel and Palestine continuing the wars that have gone on for centuries – and now they’re bombing schools where innocent children and women are seeking refuge?!  We watched the Malaysian plane go down in the Ukraine, apparently hit by a missile?!  What kind of heartless people do such a thing?!  When I see these stories on the news, my heart starts racing and eyes start tingling…  I think of those mamas – living in war torn places, never knowing when their world will be shattered by the loss of their husband or kids…  And I wonder, how is it that I’m lucky enough to be sitting here, on my patio, on a peaceful summer day in the middle of Minnesota… with my biggest worry of the day being the question of “what is killing my garden?”  It’s not fair.

Nationally, on the news this week, I’ve seen tornados and wildfires take homes and lives.  I saw a random lightening storm take the life of a young man while he was surfing in Southern California.  I saw a small plane make an emergency landing on a beach in Florida and kill a dad who was walking the beach with his daughter (and who earlier that day sent a note to his wife, excited to live their next 100 years together)…  So much sadness.  So many lives that started out with ordinary days, waking up with loved ones one minute – and gone the next.  It’s too much.

And last night, in the area of the Twin Cities where I worked for 10 years, a cop was killed during a “routine traffic stop.”  He was in his forties, had served that town for 19 years, had a wife and two teenagers…  As I watched the news unfold and the manhunt commence for the killer, the tears flowed.  What does it take for someone to lose it to the point of killing another human?  I just don’t get it.

And yet, our country does nothing about tightening laws on guns.  Gee.  Wouldn’t want to hurt that lobbying group.  (Can you feel the dripping sarcasm?  Sorry about that…)

Maybe it’s because I’m a mama now.  But I see these stories differently now – I’m more raw than I used to be.  A year ago, I could watch and witness, and know that these things were far away…  I’d pray for the situations and people involved, and secretly think, “Thank God that didn’t happen to me…”  But now, I physically hurt for them.  And I think, “My God, what if that happens to me?”

I refuse to live a life of fear.  I won’t stop going out and doing the things I love.  I won’t let Sawyer grow up scared…  But.  It will hurt.  This world has become so violent – it feels relentless at times.  I find myself scared for him – for what he will witness and endure in his lifetime.  I know I can’t protect him from everything…  But I hope I can raise him to be strong, kind, and hopeful in the midst of whatever this world hands him.

But for now…  I’m going to turn off the news for awhile.  (Not forever – I believe in being informed.  Just for now…)

My heart needs to heal a little.

Keepin’ It Real

Gross.  Ish.  Ick.  Nasty.  Ewww…

All words that were said and thought today…

I went downstairs to make lunch for baby and me – and there were ants everywhere!  Seriously.  On the counters.   On the floor.  Coming out of all the crevices in our oven and stove.  By the front door.  Near the door to the garage.  I even had one crawl on me from the COUCH!

Seriously.  Anyone who knows me, knows I am addicted to Clorox wipes – and my counters are clean.  What do these stupid ants not understand?

Hubby came home for lunch – and got to jump into helping me.  I had to laugh when he turned on the oven full blast, and all four burners.  As the ants raced out of the cracks and crevices, they were instant “crispy critters!”  Ha!  Got ya!  (And in the process, found out that our vent has a safety measure – it turns on automatically if things get too hot.  Huh!  We’ve lived here 8 years and have never seen it come on by itself…)

I avoided the kitchen the rest of the day.  Hubby brought home ant killer and has been cleaning behind and under the stove and refrigerator….  I cleaned all the counter tops and emptied and filled the dishwasher – in the midst of making and cleaning up dinner.  Not the way we thought we would spend this evening…  (And I have a constant case of the heebie geebies…  Sleep should be fun tonight!)

Oh!  And my diet has kicked into high gear.  Limited calories = limited energy and a sinking mood.

Gross.

On the bright side…

Lovin’ my hubby.  He’s good stuff.

Got some stuff organized today.

Sawyer’s playing Peekaboo!

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I added a bit of peanut butter to my diet brownie – much better.

I have plans to go out tomorrow night.  There might be a glass of wine in my future.

Dad sent me a lovely text today.  Made me smile.

Watching our dog go under the baby gate makes me giggle.

My orange bell peppers are finally turning orange!

One of my best friend’s birthdays is tomorrow…  Thank God she was born!  I have no idea what my life would have been like without her..!

This little guy makes me smile…  Who knew baby proofing could be fun?

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So there ya go…  Not everyday is paradise.  Some are just downright icky.  Sometimes, you just need to make a list and remember the good things.  And so what about those annoying ants?!  They’ll be gone tomorrow…  Right?

Please?

What annoyed you today?

Remembering Today

“What do you want to remember about today?”

The fact that it is an ordinary, everyday kind of day.  Nothing extraordinary is happening.  Nothing spectacular.  Nothing over the top crazy fun.  It’s just a day.

And it’s worth remembering.

Remembering…

…Sawyer’s big smile and giggle when I went in to get him this morning – sitting up in his crib, gripping his monkey, bouncing up and down with excitement as Mommy wished him “Good morning!”

…Toys and blankets scattered all over the floor in the loft.  Giraffes, mooses, books, balls, rattles, a “minky” blanket, the star that plays classical music when shaken…  All kinds of fun to be had!

…His first glimpse of Elmo.  A big smile.  Suddenly interested in what it is happening on the TV.

…The drool-y, messy, open-mouthed kisses that have begun.

…Walking away to change the laundry, and peeking back to see Sawyer crawling towards things that are off-limits – with a grin on his face.  Oh boy!

…Watching the dog sprawl on the blankets, til the little boy make a beeline for her.

…The hubby coming home for a quick lunch break – with kisses for both of us.

…Sawyer giggling with black beans, sweet potatoes, and cereal in his mouth – and oozing out…  What a mess!

…The fragrance of clean laundry.

…The warm taste of fresh coffee in the morning.

…Catching a glimpse of this:

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…The feeling that life is good.  I’m where I’m supposed to be.  I’m loved – and have so much to love in return.

 

What is worth remembering about your day?

“Made It” Monday – Baby Food

So, I usually need some inspiration on Mondays.  So I was trying to think of something fun – and thought, what about “Made It Mondays?”  I could write about something I made – like, craft-wise; or a new recipe; or a goal I achieved; or even a journey I completed!  Whatever comes to mind…  Whatever I “made” over the last week.

So, here goes…  This week, I made….

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Baby Food!

When I decided I would give it a go, and try making my own, I started combing the internet for “how-to” articles, recipes, suggestions for equipment, etc.  I felt like I was diving into the unknown and wanted to get it right for my little one…

I ended up buying a little baby food gadget that would steam and puree the food easily and without much hassle…  And found a couple of lists of what foods to start with.  But that’s about it!

And, actually, I tried the gadget – and it was broken when I got it.  I already prepped some food and had to get them pureed, so I did it over the stove – and Wa-la!  Everything worked so easily, I returned the gadget.  Silly me.

So, if you’re reading this, and you’re like me – wondering where the heck you start with something like making your own baby food.  Here’s my two cents:

1)  What you need: a small sauce pan and a cheap steamer basket (Target has a great one for $7).  Then, put together a little kit with: a small cutting board, paring knife, small spatula, maybe a vegetable peeler, and a small food processor (or small bowl insert for your large one!).

2)  How to do it:  Wash, peel, and chop up the fruit or veggie being used.  Steam it for about 10 minutes.  Pop it in the food processor and whiz it up til nice and creamy (with some veggies, I added formula to make it a creamier consistency).  No need to add anything – it’s that easy!

3)  To store it:  Some people put the pureed food in ice trays, freeze til solid, then pop in ziploc bags.  Great idea!  I chose to go this route, though – I LOVE the Oxo Baby Blocks.  I use the small ones in the fridge and to take with us, and the large ones to freeze.  I have two sets and it’s working perfect – and keeps me from making too much food.  If I make food once or twice a week, for about an hour each time – we have plenty!

4)  What I’ve made so far:  I started with two things I didn’t have to cook (avocado and bananas).  Then moved on to:  sweet potatoes, apples, peas, cantaloupe, carrots, peaches, edamame, and we’re introducing black beans this week.  Each food is introduced for 4 days before we try another new one (just in case there is an allergic reaction).  I try to alternate fruits and veggies – and now I’m adding in meatless proteins (I’m exactly excited about pureeing meats!).

It really is that easy.  And he actually seems to like his food – and eats very enthusiastically!  (At 7 months old, he’s all boy – eating lots!)  And get this…  It’s fun!  I actually like taking the time once or twice a week to make his food.  It’s the kind of task that you get to actually see the results of your labor – and the smiles it brings.  And whether I’m entertaining him while cooking (turning the radio up and dancing around the kitchen) or I’m by myself after he goes to bed…  It’s relaxing and fulfilling.

Who whuddathunk?

What have you made this week?  I’d love to hear!

Why not?

So…  I have this friend.  We’ll call her “Jill.”  She has – several times over the last few years – gotten me to do things I had no interest in doing.  I could despise her.  But instead, I love her all the more!

A couple of examples:

Several years ago, I planned a sledding outing for the youth group kids at my church.  I had every intention of being the photographer and snack lady while everyone else went up and down the hill.  (I’ve had an irrational fear of going downhill with anything other than my own feet or a car for as long as I can remember…  Bikes?  Ick.  Rollerblades?  Absolutely not!  Skis?  Ahhh.  #$&& no!  Even sleds…  Not so much.)  But Jill, her hubby, and their kids cheered me on til I gave it a try…  And I loved it (screaming and laughing all the way down the hill)!  I even bought sleds for my hubby and I that Christmas!

Another time, we took the youth group kids to the Mall of America to spend the afternoon at the amusement park within the mall.  We rode every roller coaster and ride we could, multiple times, and had a great day!  Then, it was dinner time and we decided to try the new “cowboy” restaurant…  Which just happened to have an electric bull.  Yep.  You guessed it.  I had no interest in doing it myself, but was more than willing to cheer on the other adults!  (I am the klutziest, most uncoordinated and ungraceful person I know.  This was not going to be pretty if I tried…)  And yet.  I was convinced to give it a go!  Ha!  Those things are not easy (just to get on it was a trick!).  But I tried – and it was so fun!

And tonight.  We went out to celebrate a dear friend and co-worker as she bids farewell to move home to Alabama – and we let her decide where we would go for the evening.  Jennifer is the queen of competition and chose a bar that had a spelling bee.  (Have you ever heard of such a thing?!  Hilarious.)  So a bunch of us went – I was planning to do what I do best.  Cheer her on! But nooooo…  Once again, Jill convinced us all to do it!  You don’t get to just write down the words and turn in your answers…  Oh no.  You have to get up on stage like a real spelling bee and spell for the whole room!  Oh no.  I went into panic mode.  (I have no problem giving a sermon to 150 people – talking about personal things like faith and life experience…  But a spelling bee?!  In front of strangers?!  Good grief.)  I did it.  And had FUN.  And made it to the fourth round.  Huh…!

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I’m sure there’s been lots of other things she’s gotten me to do, too.  She’s a fun-natured, spirited, lovely, dear, slightly crazy person that I adore.  And she’s opened up my world to all kinds of silly adventures – and I love her for it.

Why do we stop ourselves from trying new, silly things?  I think I always assume I’ll screw up, look bad, make a fool of myself, yada yada yada.  But really.  Who cares?!  I’m good at laughing at myself – I’ve perfected that art.  So, why not?

When I feel the urge to say, “No, thanks.  I’ll cheer you on.”  I’ve got to remember to think of Jill.  Life’s too short to not participate.  Bring on the fun!

Do you have a “Jill?”  Someone who inspires you to take big – and small – risks?  Are you good at jumping in?  Or do you hold back?  I’d love to hear your stories!

Have a great weekend – and try something new!

Thankful Thursday

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It’s that time again!  Quick, what are you thankful for today?

Here’s mine:

  • Days at the zoo!
  • Friends who make time to meet the little one and I at the zoo – of all places!
  • Trying more new recipes.
  • Routine.
  • Missing the little man after he goes to bed…  That’s a good thing, right?
  • Fresh picked blueberries.  Yum!
  • Picnics.
  • Celebrating Dad’s birthday!

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  • Doggy cuddles.
  • Blue skies.
  • Seeing two eagles in one day!
  • Six month old giggles.
  • Fresh peaches.
  • Breezes through the windows at night.
  • “Sleeping in” til 7am!
  • Being missed.
  • Baby milestones…
  • That “I can DO this” feeling.
  • The smell of fresh, damp air early in the morning…
  • A hubby that can’t wait for “boys’ night” with the baby, while I go out with friends.
  • Faith.  In God.  In myself.  In others.
  • A great week!

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Fabulous AND Flawed

Awesome.

I’ve been dieting recently – but I keep a stash of Dove dark chocolates in the house so I can have one purely decadent moment a day…  Yes, it’s cheating.  Yes, it will probably slow the weight loss.  But heck!  Life is short – and what is life without a little chocolate?!

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So, I open my little rule-breaking cheat today – and inside the wrapper, it says, “It’s OK to be fabulous and flawed.”

YES!

Haven’t you always wanted someone to say that to you?

Seriously.  First and foremost, I am fabulous.  So are you.  Fabulous.

Now quick – name all the ways you’re fabulous!  No holding back – just yell out the things you love about yourself!

Here’s a few of mine:  I’m… a good listener.  I’m always laughing.  I find the good in just about any situation.  I usually have a twinkle in my eye.  Heck – I like my eyes.  They’re pretty.  I’m creative.  I love God.  I’m thankful.  I like to cook – and do it reasonably well.  I’m a wife, daughter, sister, friend – oh!  And mom.  And I love all those roles.  I like a good adventure.  And a good book.  And making a new friend.  I love life… all the nitty gritty and the pure magic.

Ok…  So first we have to admit we’re fabulous – just the way we are.

Now…  It’s ok to be flawed.

It’s about time!   Hallelujah!

I’m totally flawed – you?  My hair frizzes out to Timbuktu.  My feet are wide (like – think “duck feet”).  I cheat on my diet.  I don’t exercise enough.  I procrastinate.  I don’t always follow through.  I can be really naive.  And gullible.  And too trusting.  I’m stubborn and like to do things my own way.  I rarely floss.  I can be lazy.  I can’t use Twitter for the life of me – no matter how many times I’ve tried to get on board.  I have no idea who “One Direction” is – and I don’t care.  I haven’t read “Fault in Our Stars” and I probably won’t for quite a while.  If I could eat pizza every day for the rest of my life, I would.

Perfectly flawed.  (And there are so many more for that list…!)

It’s a nice little reminder, though, isn’t it?  It’s OK to be fabulous and flawed.

Good thing because I’m pretty sure every one of us is both.  And it’s OK.  Laugh it off.  Celebrate the good.  Be thankful that the flaws aren’t worse than they are!

And then, enjoy the magic that is today…  And for goodness sake – enjoy it with some chocolate!