Wednesday, January 28, 2009
We don't have any space to park the car in the garage. With moving the office to the now guest bedroom/office, converting Mari's room from the office, and tucking away my craft space anywhere it would fit, all that was leftover moved to the office. When Don started to clean out the attic to nail floorboards down, most of what was up there moved to the garage. Needless to say, we have our very own U-haul personal storage, but I do miss the garage...especially on days like today.
I got up extra early to make it out and be at work early or on time. I was listening to KLUV oldies station when they announced all of the traffic jams. I figured, ok, I'll delay leaving just a little bit. I took out the flat iron and killed some time. Half an hour went by and the traffic jams multiplied. I sighed and went into my closet to decide what to wear. I heard them say it felt like 9 degrees outside. Great, I thought, as I stared at the bleak closet, upset that I still didn't have my clothes back from the dry cleaners. I had some capri pants that I didn't want to have to make work, but I didn't have much of a choice. I slipped on some thick opaque tights and work my black capris. I didn't want to wear my knee high boots, so I slipped on my gray booties and thick gray sweater. I didn't care about the traffic jams, I just needed to get on the road. I go outside to start the car and get it good and warm, but what happens? The doors are frozen solid!! I can't even pull it open. Nothing. Bleh!!
I march back in and fire up my laptop. I guess I have no choice but to work from home until the sun comes out to melt the ice a bit. I said a quick prayer asking God to let Don and Mari sleep in so I could get some work done. Today, I really needed to focus as best as I could. I knew any little thing could be a distraction. ADD was on high alert! I got in two solid hours before my hunger kicked in. I made breakfast for myself and Don and went to get him up. Mari still slept. I asked him, so do you think I can go in to work now? He looked at me quizzically, but just kept on reading. I mentioned the frozen door and how I couldn't open it. I could hear water dripping outside, so I thought, sure, it should be melted by now. Oh, I should mention that when I discovered the frozen car, I came inside, peeled off my layers of clothes and when I was stashing them away, I found a sneaky pair of trouser pants that were hiding in the back and I was oh-so-grateful they were there!
I went to change and put on my trouser pants and a different sweater. I said screw the shearling and tossed on my yellow ski jacket. I had on my Crocs and opened the door. Success!!! I started the car and put everything on full blast. I tied up some loose ends on the laptop, kissed Mari and headed out the door. When I made it to the car, I realized I was still wearing my bright red Crocs. I turned around and went back in to change shoes and grab my gym bag. To err on the safe side, I opted not to wear heels and put on my black shiny flats. I threw my bags in the front seat only to discover that the front windshield was a thin block of ice floating on melted water. My windshield wipers were frozen to the bottom, so I knocked the one on the drivers side loose, and much of the ice on the windshield began to shift slowly downward.
I stepped off the curb to walk to the passenger side and lost my footing. My right foot slipped to the left and my left foot followed suit from the curb, but it also flew back some. I felt myself about to land face first into a couple of inches of solid ice. I freaked out enough and jerked my body just right to land smack dab on my right backside. OUCHMUTHAF------! My right ring finger was the only part that was scraped, the rest of me fine, except that I had the air knocked out of me. I caught my breath and heaved out a loud moan. I took inventory of everything and cautiously stood up. There stood Don at our door, mouth agape, staring concerned. I shook my head and he asked, "Are you ok?" I looked at him and nodded. Embarrassed, I thought to myself, "I just freakin' fell. Are you kidding me?" But instead of having a pity party, I dusted myself off and acknowledged I was more embarrassed than anything. I laughed it off and recounted my story to him.
Then I remember, I used to fall A LOT! And those times hurt quite a bit more than this one. I thought two things when I was falling: 1. Don't fall on the left arm, b/c then you can't hold Mari and have your right arm free. 2. Don't land on your face. Actually, falling when I tried learning to snowboard hurt a helluva lot more than this one incident, so I figured, 'eh, I was ok.
I made it into work and one of the really cool things today was when I walked down to Starbucks to treat myself to a little happy. Initially, I was a little freaked out when I read the sign posted on the door cautioning us for falling ice. I figured, "just my luck to be nailed by a huge chunk of ice on the way to Starbucks." Lucky for me, it didn't happen. But I did catch a glimpse of a beautiful bride in the lobby of the Crescent hotel. It is a rare occurence to see a bride on a Wednesday on such a cold day! I felt special, but probably not nearly as special as she felt.
Anyway, I hope all of you aren't nearly as clumsy as I was today! Be safe and stay warm!
Sunday, January 25, 2009
This past weekend, we traveled over to Abilene, Texas to take part/attend a Quinceanera. Those of you that grew up around here (or West Texas for that matter) have probably attended or been in one of these. This was a quaint little Catholic church, curiously tucked behind an Episcopal church. The colors outside were vivid and I couldn't have been blessed with a more amazing sky. Unfortunately, it was ridiculously cold outside and none of the girls were brave enough to pose outside for me. Next time...
Miranda made for a lovely Quinceanera! She had the big billowy white dress. She had her 14 damas. And like mine, her colors were emerald green. Here they are posing before the big dance. I taught them how to pose by poppin' that hip out. I love the little one up front. I stole this pose off of Lynn Michelle's site.
I took my camera and did my best to take photos, but lighting was not my friend and neither was the Abilene weather. (I was non-stop sneeze-tastic for the ENTIRE time I was there!) Every time I went to take a shot, I would sneeze and I got all of this camera shake. My lens has image stabilization on it, but not for my big monstrous sneezes. :( Can you tell how sad I am? Not so bad, though, because she did have a professional photographer, who coincidentally used the same camera I used and a similar lens. He just had a fancy light-holder-ma-jig, which allowed for better lighting. 'eh, whatever. I'll have to post a couple of my favorite shots as soon as I upload 'em.
Here she is presenting roses to the Virgin Mary.
The two standout highlights of the event centered around her mother, Tricia. Growing up, Tricia used to babysit me. She was so kind, patient, and gentle, and put up with all of my orneriness. I remembered her constantly giggling at my antics and to this day she can be a gigglebox. But then I saw her differently. Aside from the fact that each printed item had been hand typed on a typewriter (which takes not only mad typing skills, but out of control patience!), she made sacrifices as a single mother. She walked her daughter down the aisle during the church ceremony. And when she got up to proclaim her hopes and dreams for her daughter, well, I just lost it. I was a big ol' ball of emotions. It was at that moment that I became even more grateful for my folks. Glancing over at Mari, I knew that Tricia's hopes and dreams mirrored my own for Marisabelle. She unabashedly displayed her true emotions.
Miranda listens to her mother's hopes and dreams:
AND THEN...at the dance, when it is typically the father/daughter dance, Tricia walked out and proudly took her daughter into her arms and danced with her. She could have easily shrugged it off to her grandfather, but no this was her right as a parent, and she deserved the first dance! I was seriously upset that I'd taken Canoncita (as I lovingly call my silver bullet) up for a nap. I had Tiny Nikon out, but it couldn't keep up with the dance and the lighting. *sigh*
Receiving the final blessing from the Father:
This is one of her grandmothers (maybe great grandmother?) walking down the aisle. She was being escorted by her grandson. I LOVED that she wore the old school black head covering exactly the head covering women used to wear to church back in the day. Love it!! (yeah, and no comment about the camera shake. It was all I could do to not sneeze for that split half second, but I felt it coming on.
Anyway, if you haven't ever been to one, I highly recommend checking it out if you get the pleasure. If you are still around in 14 years, then you are invited to Marisabelle's. We're already stashing money aside for it and you know me, planning away each detail!
Friday, January 23, 2009
Have a fabulous weekend!
Thursday, January 22, 2009
On Tuesday morning, I had yet another altercation with the woman that watches Mari. This was similar to the lecture I received the Monday before, and the Monday before that. Afterwards, I immediately called my father seeking guidance and reassurance. I was visibly disturbed and decided that enough was enough. I'm so very glad that my mother was feeling up to par, because he put her on a plane and Mom was happily cuddling and holding Mari in her arms by that evening. I love watching her with her grandmothers and how she just goes with the flow and enjoys their companionship. That afternoon when I'd picked up Mari to take her to the doctor so we could get cream for the eczema, I exchanged some words with the daycare provider that despite me holding back, I would not say was a prouder moment of my life. I don't like being that curt with someone that I respect, but when they lash out at you too much, you just have to put your foot down and assert yourself regardless of how much more "experience" (or age) they have than you. I won't repeat the details, but needless to say, I walked out on her while she continued talking because I was done listening.
Tuesday night began the hunt/research for a new place. I did a lot of praying and reflecting. I normally do some praying, but I actually turned my phone off and prayed long and hard about it all. I constructed a list of all of my wants for Mari based on how I know her. Of course, you want someone who loves and cares for her, but more than that, I know she's a social child and I want her to have peers to interact with. I want her to learn and be exposed to new things everyday. I want her to freely explore her surroundings and learn how to share, cooperate, listen, and imagine. I don't want a television monopolizing her time like it did at her old school. I want her to respect adults, not fear them. I want her to feel safe. I want her to be happy to go to school, but happy to see us at the end of the day. I want to proudly display her artwork on my fridge. I want her to grow her relationship with God and understand the importance of praying before a meal and being thankful for it. I want her to know cleanliness and hand washing.
Yesterday, I called two places and this morning we've settled on one after both Don and I visited. We're both very happy with what they offer, it is very close to our home, the hours are the same, she'll be around 6 other kiddos her age, she'll be in a positive learning environment with a curriculum, playing all day long, and she will be introduced to Christianity on an age-appropriate level. There is a low teacher to student ratio (1:4) and one of the teacher's in her class is Asian and I'm going to ask that she speak to Marisabelle in her native language so she can be exposed to it. I realize that potentially I won't understand some of Mari's words, but that exposure to language is far more valuable and heck, it could even expose Don and I new languages and cultures. The school is a little more in price, but well worth it for the extras that she'll be getting. (Plus, they take credit cards and so we'll get points for her school! yaaay!) I'm so very excited and despite the disagreement with the other woman, I think this is actually a better situation for Mari. Plus, she gets to spend time with my mom, which I think any time she can do that is a good thing. (I can't wait for those last couple of weeks in the spring for her to hang out with her other grandmother!) God's grace has shone through and His plan for us continues to surprise and amaze me, but it really is for the best.
She starts her new school on Monday. While they provide meals for the kids, Don and I are on our food kick again and really aren't ready for her to be eating corn dogs and tater tots. Quite frankly, her little system would be in shock! This week alone, she's had a more complex diet than I used to eat as an adult 5 years ago. She loves couscous, wild rice, avocado, mushrooms, risotto, blanched carrots, rosemary chicken, pork tenderloin...well, you've seen the meals we prepare. Marisabelle gets all that except for the fish. At her old school, I made her food as well, and she would eat it up too! Anyway, I need to get her a lunch bag and her Grandma Carol will be making her nap mat. For the first couple of weeks, we'll make do with a regular crib sheet and blanket until she gets it for her birthday! Have any of you mommas done bento box lunches? I'm thinking of doing that for her as well.
So that's why I've been MIA for the past several days. What an incredible time in our nation's history and I'm certain many of you thought that I would have an opinion on it all. I loved the Inauguration ceremony. I loved the outfits. I though Michelle Obama looked stylish and graceful in her pistachio colored suit during the inauguration, but I would've preferred to see her and President Obama outfitted in different clothes. It seemed to me they were channeling their inner Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Nothing wrong with that, but if you are going to dance, then work that dance and showcase the flowiness of the dress. Instead, it just seemed like it was constricting for their dance and she just kept having to move it out of the way. I'm excited about the new presidency, and more importantly, I'm hopeful. I don't know what the next 4 years hold for us, but I'm optimistic. Then again, I think more of that has to do with what is going on in my own personal life. :D And for something completely random, I saw this quote of the day on Perez's site about rapper T.I. and even though the entire thing doesn't really make much sense, I'm glad he's showing his gratitude for God at the Hip Hop Inaugural Ball:
"I want to thank God for somehow … I know he perfect. So I'mma thank him for
everything. I'mma thank him for making me drop out of school. I'mma thank him
for making me run the streets. I'mma thank him for making me sell crack. I'mma
thank him for making me have shoot-outs. I'mma thank him for allowing me to
watch my partners die in my arms, So I'd be fearful enough for my life and
paranoid enough to go out and cop machine guns and silencers so I catch a fed
case and I have to put up $3 million for my bond so I have to spend seven months
of my life in my house, so I have to spend a year of my life in prison just so I
be validated enough to get out there and touch the youth because they know that
I done been through it, and if I say it, it means something. You know what I'm
Also, I got Marisabelle's invitations and they are A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E!!!! They are on their way to the post office today! Tonight, I'm yoga-ing it up and will come to center once again. Hopefully, I'll post the dinner pictures from last night so you can see the yumminess! Delish.
And for Jeev:
1 lb Salmon
Sprig of Rosemary
1 1/2 c. Cilantro, chopped
1/2 c. Low Fat Sour Cream
3 c. Romain Lettuce, chopped
Whole Wheat Tortillas
Place salmon skin side down on a 1 quart microwave safe dish. Season with salt & pepper. Sprinkle 1/2 c. chopped cilantro and add sprig of rosemary (I didn't have fresh rosemary, so I just sprinkled a teeny tiny bit of it on for a bit of flavor.) Place in microwave and cover. Cook on high for 7 or 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, add 1/2 cup sour cream and remaining cilantro. Season with salt and pepper if you like. Mix until blended well. Warm your tortillas! (I forgot and they were falling apart. bleh!)
After salmon is finished cooking, put your taco together. Tortilla, lettuce, salmon, and sour cream topping.
To make it better, we thought of adding a bit of jalapeno to the sour cream, including tomato if you like it, and maybe a hint of chipotle to either the salmon or sour cream dressing for some added flavor.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
1. Go to your Picture Folder on your computer or where ever you store your pictures.
2. Go to the 6th folder, then pick the 6th picture in that folder.
3. Post that picture on your blog and the story that goes with the picture.
4. Tag 5 people you know (or don't know) to do the same.
5. Leave a comment on their blog or an e-mail letting them know you chose them.
This homemade flower was waiting for me on the door the last day of my birthday month. It happily smiled at me and I was so excited to see this note that I completely forgot to look for my gift. I just ran inside to grab my camera to snap the photo before I went on my hunt. Don told me that Marisabelle asked him to create a scavenger hunt for Mommy's gift and I loved it! It was a nice surprise, especially unexpected and a fabulous way to celebrate the last of the birthday month.
I tag: Kelly, Jeev, Jenna, Chae, and Kandice.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Mari had a fantastic day of running around and being happy, which was a wonderful change. Even though she's suffering from a regular body rash and remnants of a diaper rash, she was back to that happy, inquisitive, exploring baby that we love.
After lunch, I headed on over to the nail salon and had a mani/pedi with wax, as well. In the spirit of Mari's Wizard of Oz themed party, I opted for Ruby Red Slippers by OPI. A shiny red polish with bits of glitter. Fun, fun, fun!!! I hurried home to meet Don and Mari so we could go to the doctor. Unfortunately, everyone wanted to see the doctor today, and Mari's pediatrician was out, so we'd scheduled an appointment with one of the nurse practioner's. Well, over an hour later (after our scheduled appointment), we made the decision to leave since it wasn't an emergency. After all, she only had a minor rash and we were surrounded by a sea of kiddos that were coughing and hacking up all sorts of things and I certainly didn't want her exposed to. Bleh! We left and weren't rude about it, just walked out and told them that we decided to cancel the appointment. Fortunately, our doctors nurse did call us to follow-up, so that was nice.
I came home to prepare dinner.
Grapefruit Cod with Sweet Potatoes, Sauteed Escarole and Mushroom Cranberry Couscous
This recipe is entirely too long to type out. If you want it, I'll make a copy of it and send the PDF. ha ha! It was delish and the cranberries added moisture to the whole wheat couscous. Who would've thought that grapfruit went so well with fish??
Estimated cost: $20 because we invited 3 friends over AND we have leftovers for 1.5 meals. :D
Who is going to watch the Inauguration tomorrow? (p.s. I had planned to do some volunteering today, but those plans fell through. Did any of you do any volunteer work today?)
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Anyway, without further ado, here's the food.
Bianca's Palak Paneer
1 bag spinach
1 pkg paneer
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 c heavy cream
hot madras curry powder
estimated cost: $5
Thaw your frozen spinach in the microwave. Meanwhile, saute onion and garlic. Afterwards, add tomato paste and stir together. I usually add a few of my cumin seeds with the onion and garlic. Add your spinach and about 1/2 - 1 c of water. Let simmer for a bit and begin to add your spices. This time I kinda spilled the tumeric so it's extra yellow! LOL. While it simmers together, brown your paneer in a bit of oil. After it is sufficiently browned, add to the the palak. Mix together and add cream and any remaining spices. Sometimes, if I'm feeling sassy, I add a bit of red pepper for some kick! That's it!
This is how paneer comes. I picked it up today at my Indian grocery store only to discover that they are going out of business and the last day they are open is on the 22nd!!! Eeek!! I was very upset, however, EVERYTHING in th entire store is 20% off. They had Indian music on sale 2 for a $1 with an extra 20% off. I nearly bought some just because it was such a good deal. Anyway, when you chop the paneer, it can be a little tough. Also, it leaves this chalky residue on your hands. I don't know why. Can anyone tell me?
If you look close, you can see the bits of white on my fingers.
OMG...that looks delish. I may have to sneak a few more bites from the leftovers!
Ta-daaaaa!! Here is the finished product. Again, a little on the yellow side because of my tumeric mishap, but it's all good. It was still very delicious!
Chicken with Mushrooms, Cherry Tomatoes, and Broccoli Rabe Served on a bed of Vermicelli
1 head of Broccoli Rabe
1 pkg of Mushrooms
1/4 pkg of Cherry Tomatoes
1/2 pkg Vermicelli
Brown chicken, blanch broccoli rabe, saute mushrooms. Throw all cooked ingredients in the pan and add tomatoes. Toss around for a few minutes on low heat. Cook verimicelli according to package.
Estimated cost: $6, including the cost of 1/2 a bottle of vino and my asparagus screw up. (Chicken tenders and tomatoes were on ridiculous sale at Neighborhood Market!)
Sauteeing the mushrooms in butter. It was at this point that we realized we probably needed some more food ingredients since we remembered we were out of eggs. These mushrooms represent less than half a package, but we were going to work with what we had.
This is the broccoli rabe settling in for a quick stem bath. See how happy it is?
Time to cool down in an ice bath. Part of the blanching process. No, your eyes don't deceive you! That is asparagus. Unfortunately, I killed the asparagus, which was the original green ingredient in this dish, but I had to toss it out. Folks, this is what happens when you try to cook 4 dishes at once. On top of what I photographed, I was also making wild rice and boiling carrots for Mari's food for the week. On a positive note, however, I came up with a new simile: Tossed out like soggy, overcooked asparagus. Feel free to use it! You know you like it!
Alrighty, all the ingredients were begging me to dance together in the pan, so I finally agreed. Here they are getting jiggy with it in the warm oil. Awww...look how bright and colorful that is.
Voila, finished product. Yum! Healthy too! Of course, we complimented our meal with a $7 bottle of Jacob's Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. Each only having one glass, and we'll have the other glass for the next meal. Doin' it like the Italians because red wine makes the heart happy.
And what about Mari? Her meals this week:
Chicken and Carrots with Wild Rice
Blueberry, Banana, and Pear with Oatmeal
She tasted both and gave a resounding approval demanding more. Ultimately, I had to satiate her with her own chicken tender and some pumpernickel bread. She seemed to really enjoy them both! Oh, and she finished her dinner off with a bit of pear bites too! Isn't she cute in her little apron. Since she was helping me, I figured she needed to wear one too!
Friday, January 16, 2009
Because it is the day before a holiday, work closed one hour early. The initial plan was to head on out to happy hour ahead of time then walk over to the salon. Well, we're a bunch of go-getters at work and quite frankly, I was lucky to have made it to the salon on time. Here I am sitting in the chair undergoing a transformation. I felt like a supermodel preparing my va-va-voomness. LOL! Actually, I was channeling my inner Eva Mendes since she was a feature article in this months Allure magazine. She's so awesome and a part of me wishes I knew her in real life because she'd be someone fun to chill with.She put in three kinds of colors and we agreed that we weren't going to sacrifice much length. Although, I have to say, I was totally prepared for a sassy bob. I like short hair. Heck, I like the cut, but I'm tempted to whack a way at it carelessly just because. Don't worry, I'll refrain, well, at least today. Here's the finished product. Sorry for the poor quality of the photo. You get the idea of the colors. Subtle and fun. (ha ha, I like how the peak of my hairline looks like a ginormous bald spot. LOL!)
Oh and you like that mark on my face under my left eye? No, I'm not trying to pay homage to Enrique Iglesias's old mole. Mari felt the need to take a small gash out of my face. It's was a love scratch. This after I'd trimmed her nails...oweee!
Anyway, this year, I'm also attempting (failing miserably) to focus on more beauty conscious choices. Like, um, maybe moisturizing?? Brushing my hair. Wearing a little bit of color on my lips. Occasionally doing my nails. Why? Because I think it is important for Mari to see those things. She already stares at me with great intensity when I go through my morning routine. She watches carefully as I put on my eyeliner and finish up with a spray of perfume. I remember watching mom do this and thinking, wow, she's dazzling. Here's step 1: hair. My stylist assured me that it was low maintenance and would look great curly. I'm going to hold her to that, because I'm embracing my curls. I love 'em and they are so much easier than running curlers through. Now dish, what are some of YOUR beauty tips? (and don't mention anything about adequate sleeping. I'm making do with my 6 hours!)
Thursday, January 15, 2009
BM, my schedule was still filled with all sorts of activities. Lately, I’ve really been questioning my priorities. One of my friends once said, “You can’t be both a good mom and have a career.” At my horrified look, she followed it up with, “Well for me, I know I can’t be the perfect mother I want to be AND have a career.” But the damage had already been done and that comment resonated in my body and rocked the core. Defiant and angered, I wanted to set out to prove her wrong. Fast forward several years and I stand here both a mother and a career-minded professional. I know there are people out there who believe that very statement she made. Some people very close to me have made similar statements to me and have actually made me stop and second guess myself, which, quite frankly, isn’t something that is easily done. Again, I was in a place that I can count on one hand when I’ve been in a lull, constantly second guessing my every action. I went into a mini-depression of sorts, coming unhinged at the slightest emotional detail. I’d set Mari down and she’d start crying, so I would pick her up and suffer lower back pain for carrying her for extended periods of time because I didn’t want to be a bad mom for letting her cry. Every little thing, I had the “but I don’t want to be a bad mom” the proceeded every action. I felt like I was falling and had no idea when I’d land. I was very frustrated and things in my head weren’t clear. Things kept spinning, I was stressing myself, and I swear I was borderline hallucinating. I was losing perspective on it all and well, it was very unbecoming. I was paranoid and fearful. Instead of succeeding at everything, I was failing miserably at it all.
Then, I had a lovely conversation with a nurse practitioner at my daughter’s pediatrician’s office. Karen, God bless her, flat out told me: TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. Just because you are first time mom doesn’t mean you don’t know anything. You are well-more equipped than I was when I was a first time mom, with all of the books, Internet, friends, and family. It’s a wonder any of us survived, because at some point or another, all of our mothers and grandmothers were first time moms. So don’t let anyone tell you how to be a parent, not even your mother! You’re a great mom and keep it up.
And so that funk spell was broken and I realized that being a mom is not my job, it is WHO I am. I’m a writer as my job, but I’m a mom all the time, like my eyes are brown, like my left foot is slightly smaller than my right, that my cheeks get bright red when I’m both happy and excited. It’s me. And I’m good at being a mom not because I can nurture, kiss away boo-boos, sing funny songs, or cook homemade meals. I’m a good mom because no matter the moment it calls for me to be a mother, everything else get dropped and I’m there. Anyone who is a good parent would do the same. I admire single parents because they have that extra creativity to make such things happen, when you have a daycare crisis and you have to make the choice to leave work early to go pick up the kids. (but what you don’t see is that they are up until the wee hours of the night to make up those efforts) Oh yes, they earn those dark circles under their eyes, just like I earned every single stretch mark from my pregnancy, nature’s tattoos, if you will. I’m every so fortunate to have a partner who listens when I talk and together we can strategize to take on the world and to make the best decisions for OUR family. (Sidenote: That’s the main thing that our Engaged Encounter Retreat taught us: DIALOGUE) Being healthy is important to live longer to be able to enjoy my life with my family without other health struggles that are encouraged with being overweight. I had to think of ways to be actively engaged in family activities. I was becoming a helicopter, hovering parent but I want Mari to grow to be independent, inquisitive, and emotionally stable: two mindsets that are opposite of the other.
Now, I get up early to get ready for work. Don preps Mari for school. I go down the hall to finish loading her bag. By the time I’m finished, it’s time to kiss goodbye and off we go. I drop her off to school and in the commute time to work, I put on my career hat. I work a full day and I’m surrounded by images of the ones I love to remind my why I work. At the end of the day, I have time to fit in a quick workout (simultaneously avoiding traffic), and get home to finish prepping dinner with my husband. We sit down and eat together and then have family time. It’s life-balance, and even if I didn’t have a full-time job, I’d have to work hard to maintain that level of balance. (and yes, I still get less sleep than BM, but much more than I was getting before!) This wasn't something was achieved overnight. We're still working out the kinks, but this frees up time for Don as well. He has time to get in his workouts in the morning before school instead of worrying about rushing after work. Both of us are less stressed because we aren't rushing as much.
I believe that yes, I’m both a good mom and have a career. I know several women who are equally as successful. Many of whom I follow on here.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
2 Whole Wheat Tortilla Wrap
2 Grilled Chicken Breasts diced
1/2 Sliced Red Onion
1 C Shredded Asiago
1/4 C Low Fat Cottage Cheese
1 pkg Diced Mushrooms
Tools: baking sheets, parchment paper
Preheat oven 450 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, then lay wrap on top of paper.
Sprinkle with asiago, and dollop on cottage cheese (the original recipe called for skim ricotta, but I couldn't find it, so I went with low fat cottage cheese). Sprinkle mushrooms, onion, and chicken, then season with salt and pepper.
Bake until crust is very crisp and brown. Ours was for 10 min AND we lowered the temp to 425 degrees.
We estimated that this meal cost us less than $5 total. For experimentation next time, I want to add some roasted artichokes and fresh spinach. Don said he wanted to try the Ricotta and add more onions. All in all it was very, very delicious!
hat glass of vino was from Spain and went EXTREMELY well with the pizza. YUM!
We sat down and decided that in our best interest, and Mari's too, that we sit down at the table to eat our meals and spend time together preparing them. I pulled out the ol' Everyday Foods magazine from last year around this time and started thumbing through the pages for recipes. Before I knew it, I had a week and a half worth of dinners (where we wouldn't have to repeat a meal) and if I was creative, I could stretch it out to 2 weeks! I took our grocery list pad off of the fridge and feverishly checked off each ingredient and adding others. After an hours work total, I put it aside and started looking up coupons, while Don caught up on his DVDs in the background. It worked really well!
We headed to the store and bought our stuff. At $150 later, I wasn't pleased that we didn't save as much (by percentage) like we normally do, but most times, you don't get coupons for fresh produce, let alone organic. The coupons I did use, were doubled, so that was a bonus that I hadn't expected! And, we qualified for the 10 cents off for our gas purchases too. I guess all was not lost. (By the way, I LOVE THE GROCERY STORE! It's my happy place, random, huh?)
We get home and unload everything. That night because it was so late when we went shopping, we ate one of the rotisserie chickens they had on sale with some steamed spinach.
Last night, though, I get home and Don already has the food prepped! Our homemade Marinara sauce is simmering on the stove and he's getting ready to bread the chicken. He was waiting for me to pick the type of pasta and was about to saute the mushrooms.
Light Chicken Parmesan with Whole Wheat Pasta and Broccoli Rabe and homemade Marinara with Mushrooms
Chicken breasts breaded on one side and baked, lightly topped with parmesan.
Rotini pasta tossed in olive oil with blanched broccoli Rabe (thanks Simon, it
turned out perfectly!). Diced tomatoes simmering, with a touch of tomato paste,
a pinch of red pepper, and sauteed mushrooms.
We chatted while prepping our meal, catching up on the day's events. Mari napped. I went ahead and chopped veggies for Thursday night's meal. We sipped on vino. The food was ready, so I prepped the pasta while Don plated the chicken and marinara. We sat down at the table to eat and OMG, it was delicious. I can see us making this meal in the future, but possibly adding jalapenos to the top when we add the cheese, b/c the jalapenos Don grows are AMAZING! It reminded me of when we were first living together and later married. We saved a whole heck of a lot of money by cooking so much and I don't remember our fridge ever being empty. I loved that we controlled the ingredients (organic and free range!). I knew the calorie count (thank you Everyday Food!). We had some incredible quality time spent together. It was a lovely evening and has me ecstatic about the future. We calculated our meal to cost about $10 total (not including the wine, but that was actually a gift from My Michael and it was delicious, by the way. We heart South American vino!), and we had leftovers, enough for another full meal! High five!
Here's to hoping we can keep it up. Then again, I think we will. I fondly remember helping my mom out in the kitchen to prepare dinner and I want to share that with Mari as well. She already enjoys hanging out in the kitchen while we're there and she understands that the oven is "dangerous" when it is on. She's not frightened by the noises of the chopper, food processor, blender, or mixer.
Next time, I'll keep the tripod in the kitchen so you can see the prep and finished product.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I fast and furiously pulled up all of the emails I've been collecting and starting clicking away and ordering up a frenzy. Well a scaled back frenzy. I purposefully slashed the budget in half because, well, c'mon, it's her first birthday party. I can't set up too much of a spectacle, because well, I'll hopefully have many, many more to plan.
Anyway, this year's theme is Wizard of Oz. I probably could've waited until she was a bit older to do this theme, but quite frankly, deep inside of me, I knew she'd be walking by now and how adorable would some ruby red slippers be on a little toddler??? I found a delightful pair that are still too big on her, but I stuffed 'em with tissue paper and that did the trick!
On Sunday, her cousins came over to hang out and we all went to the park. They assisted me with a photo shoot I had for her snail mail invitations. Here's a sneak peek:
I also took out the old sketch pad and drew up plans for a cake. Since I'm attempting to be more frugal this year, I will venture off on my own to make it. Actually, cousin Simon is going to help me (thank the Lord!!), but at least I drew it out and will know what it "should" look like. I'm going to attempt a 3-tiered topsy turvy cake. The winding on the outside will resemble the tornado. the tops of the cakes will be a yellow brick road, which winds to the top where the Emerald City will be located. I found these green plastic stirrers at Party City that I'll hot glue together to construct the Emerald City cake topper. Oh, and you can't forget about the tiny striped legs that the cake will have "landed" on, which represent the Wicked Witch of the East. :D In theory it sounds great, in reality, well, we'll see. Oh, and while shopping, I found a cupcake cake that they can slightly modify to look like the yellow brick road. These will be covered with the tiny ruby red slipper candle holders, one for each child to have to blow out for their very own while Mari blows out her candle. :D I found the candle holders, along with her pinata and birthday sign at Birthday Express. I'd found a free shipping coupon online and within less than a week, I had my order!
One of my besties came over during the weekend and we put together some poppies for the poppy field. I found a nifty poppy flower making kit at Paper Source! They were having an awesome sale, and for those of you who know me know that I have an addiction to that store akin to JoAnn's (ok, ok, more so than JoAnn's!) We got a dozen made and only have 6 remaining. One of the other besties is going to get some yellow butcher paper and we're going to construct a bonafide yellow brick road! Our balloon vendor from the wedding mailed us a GINORMOUS 3 ft. white balloon that we'll turn into the State Fair of Omaha balloon that the Wizard used to leave Oz. Speaking of balloons, but of course we'll have balloons. A rainbow spectrum of balloons will surround the sign welcoming everyone.
Mari is dressing as Dorothy. I'll be Glinda, and then later switch to a regular munchkin since their outfits are easier to maneuver around in, we'll see. Guapo is Toto. Don is going to dress up as one of the Lollipop Guild Members (along with Brother! Where's Will to complete the trifecta???). I need some activities for the kids. I was going to do a polaroid take-home gift, but what else? We'll have rainbow jello shots for the adults, ha ha!
Finally, we'll have build your own taco salad (because nothing says Wizard of Oz more than taco salad, huh?) and we're giving rainbows as favors, sidewalk paint to be exact! I'm ecstatic!! You all know how much I love birthdays, love planning parties, love a reason to celebrate life, and well, this is going to be awesome! Birthdays growing up were always a big deal. My mom would make a big to-do for us (heck, even that one year, on my 9th birthday when they forgot, and I reminded them at the end of the day, Dad took me shopping for my gift, and by the time I was home, Mom had decorated the house, gotten a cake and had friends at the house to sing to me!). This was the foundation of the usual celebration of the birthday month (which this year MIGHT be scaled back to the birthday week, YIKES!!) and big, fun parties. Thank you Mom for making our special days extra, extra special!
To add to it, one of my co-workers gave me his old 50mm lens. It occasionally errors out in low light and since he replaced it (because one of his little ones knocked the lens over and after he missed a few shots he knew he needed to replace it!) and was going to throw it away anyway, he gave it to me to "test" out before I decided to buy my own. You know what, I love it!!! Here's a sample photo that I grabbed with it. So absolutely clear with the proper blurs!! How ever did I not have this lens before???
Also, Mari had an awful ear infection that required antibiotics. I was against using them at first, but when I saw that her 3 week cough instantly faded, I knew we made the right choice. Unfortunately, the meds give her diarrhea and well, despite our best efforts of going through 15 diapers in a day to keep her clean, she got a really bad diaper rash. :( Luckily for me, we have a boutique nearby that sells cloth diapers. I bought 3 Bum Genius AIO pocket diapers and they work like a charm. I already had 1 AIO diaper, so we put those babies to work and she love 'em. They make her look like she's walking around with a J.Lo booty, but they are definitely better on the rash. Unfortunately, when she goes to school, she is totally disposable, so she'll easily go through 5 - 9 diapers while she's there. We gave up on Boudreaux's Butt Paste. Desitin was just making OUR hands softer. Vaseline worked, but only for a bit. Now, we are using a combination of Triple Paste and Dr. Smith's cream. Both are working like a charm. We also introduced a heavy dose of acidophilus mixed into the food I made, and it is in her yobaby yogurt that she eats at least once a day. BTW, that Yo Baby stuff is AMAZING!! The rash is clearing up and it is no longer as much of a nightmare to change her diaper. While my hands are ridiculously soft, my nails suffered from the cleaning products (yes, we were bathing her frequently and let's just say she has a leg up on potty training!). Every single nail that I'd actually grown out to a nice length has now been reduced to a teeny tiny nub. Oh well, here's to hoping they'll grow to a respectable length soon!
So that's all folks. That's what I've been up to. Seriously, though, what are some other ideas for kids activities? And those of you with kiddos (I'm talking to you Julie, Shannon, and Zar!) can come celebrate too!
p.s. it is Girl Scout cookie time and I've already order 6 boxes!! Lucky for me, half of them I bought to be shipped off to our troops.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
I was sitting in our office boardroom having a meeting. We were talking
about a current project and such. No big deal. In the boardroom, we have this
large window that I do my best to sit with my back towards it, because I find
myself looking out too much. This time, I didn't make it to the meeting early
enough, so I was facing the window. The sky was gorgeous, but I was asked a
direct question. I was so wrapped up in the conversation that I didn't look
outside. When I paused to look out, there it was. I gasped and grabbed Richard's
arm. His eyes followed my gaze and he quit talking for a moment, then proceeded
to calmly say, "We need to get out of here now!" I jumped up and ran down the
hall. I hollered at Jenna and said, "Get your things! Don't ask, just go NOW!" I
pointed out of the window and she looked. These beautiful, puffly black clouds
began to drop in the distance. I sprinted to the other side and grabbed Deidre
and Laura. I asked them about Xochitl and they said she'd already left for the
day. I told them about the sky, all in a matter of seconds. We ran to stairwell,
where I left them to run up the stairs. I needed to tell the guys! I passed the
window again, on my way up and saw this huge funnel cloud drop from the sky so
gracefully violent like a spider falls from the silken web strand. My heart
raced and I ran into Tom. "Tornado! Exit now!" By this time, everyone had poked
their heads out and we could see it creeping closer to us. Before I hit the
exits, I saw that it had given birth! It had suddendly split into three whirling masses of destruction. A tornado family, angry and hungry. I could see the flashing lights of firemen and rescue crew in the distance. I heard the sirens as I took the stairs two by two.
I didn't know what to think. I didn't really know where to go. Why was I
going down the stairs? This is what we do in case of fire, but what about a
tornado? We didn't practice that! I didn't read the manual for that. What if the
building collapsed, do I really want to be stuck at the bottom. In any case, I
made it down and ran to the 1st floor bathroom. Surprisingly, there were only a
couple of other women in there with me. We huddled together, quietly, shaking,
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
This week I told Don that I hated doing her laundry, not just because I hate doing laundry, but because it seems that every time we are folding clothes to be put away, we have to store more and more aside because she's outgrown them. So many precious pieces I remember picking out for her, some before she was even born, in anticipation of the day where she'd grow into it. And now, well, they just don't fit. Her pants are like shorts and yes, some of them are too darn cute, I dress her in them to showcase her cutie-patootie tights. I know, I'm just in denial!
With that, here are some milestones:
- She's running! Not that effectively just yet, but still making fast strides to escape us.
- Speaking of escape, she understands the concept of chasing and being chased. She loves "playing" with Daddy, Mommy, and Guapo.
- Speaking of big brother Guapo, she loved all of his toys for Christmas. So much so that she goes to his toy bin and spreads them all out and trys to give each one to him and reserving some of her own play time with his toys. The sullen look on his face is priceless. Totally a: but Mooooom, I don't want to share!
- Her hair is long enough for a pig tail. This weekend I'll experiment with two piggies to see how they stand up. (Her hair in the picture below has remnants of her pig tail.)
- She really enjoys feeding herself, so I will sit her in the high chair and let her happily munch away on cheerios, bananas, goldfish, and other finger foods. Yum!
- Her favorite thing to do is observe and explore. She's so fascinated with watching us cook, get ready in the morning, feed Guapo, do laundry, anything we do she wants to be right there taking it all in.
Parenthood is amazing! Have a fabulous day!
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Please, if you know of places that sell Made in the USA items, please let me know.
Oh and I didn't find one single utensil set for her that wasn't made in China. Last year I was so paranoid with BPA and phtalate free items, that I didn't think of buying American as much. This year, I'm focusing more on American made things. Once upon a time, Made in the USA stood for quality and pride. We used to build things to last, not to throwaway.
Last night while watching the football game, there was an Allstate commercial talking about getting back to basics, especially in time of a recession. Spending quality time with family, cooking meals at home, sharing with friends, all of those things that we grew up with and I couldn't help but feel a little nostalgic. I remember riding a bike to my friends house and playing outside all summer long, bouncing from house to house. I remember hearing stories about a creepy white van filled with strangers offering candy, but I was usually surrounded by my sister's friends that I wouldn't have to worry about such things. God forbid a big bad stranger meet up with that rogue crew of rabblerousers. We invented games on a daily basis. We would fashion our own slip 'n slide out of Hefty garbage bags and a water hose. We'd make do with spare parts from the garage to build our forts, and it didn't matter if we had blisters or a splinter. We didn't wear safety goggles or gloves. My knees were scraped and scuffed underneath my pocket skirts my grandmother sewed with love for me. Birthday parties were at home with a homemade banner, balloons, and a cake my mother baked herself. I handmade all of my Valentines. I remember asking my mom why we couldn't just buy them and she couldn't articulate the why then. Now that I'm older, I understand and appreciate.
And I feel guilty. How will Mari be able to grow up in a world similar to my own with all of the modern luxuries at her fingertips, but I won't let her use them. How can I impart that handmade is a good thing. Taking the time to craft something and to MAKE something beautiful is far more important and soulful than going to the store to buy something cheaply made.
On our travels over Christmas, we were so very happy at the thought of going to Kansas, but at the same time, we were saddened by how much more commercialized it is becoming. Something that I complained about initially, is actually saddening me. All of the mom and pop shops are disappearing and being replaced. We entertain the thought of moving to a place like that, but then we are reminded why we like it here. Not for the conveniences, but for the things we can't find anywhere else. For example, Chettinad Palace has a special place in our hearts. We love that we can find a diverse mix of cultural cuisine within a 15 minute drive. I was craving some Palak Paneer and Paneer Tikka Masala over the holidays, but we'd have to wait until we returned before we could have any. The cultural diversity just wasn't there.
But I have hope. I think we can make a change and I know our generation can do better! Do you think we can?