Saturday, December 31, 2011

I'll Fly Away

This time of year five years ago, I was going through one of the hardest times of my life so far. On December 22, 2006 my mom's mom, my Nanny, went in for surgery to correct a blocked bowel. They removed several inches of necrotic bowel and we thought everything would be better then. 

A few days after the surgery, I was at their house on the computer, and when my grandpa came home from the hospital he told me that the doctors had asked him if my Nanny had a living will. That really scared him, and in turn really scared me. I called my mom who, at first, dismissed it and then decided we should all just go over anyway. We called everyone in my immediate family and we all went. 

She was sitting in her hospital bed talking to us and laughing with us. She was almost herself. That night was the last real conversation I had with my Nanny. It was the last time she was really conscious. I'm so glad we had that night, those laughs, that conversation. I'm so glad we went. We would have regretted it for the rest of our lives had we not. 

From the next day on, we all stayed at the hospital all day. Luckily, most of my family worked at a school and were on Christmas break. It started out spending all day, going home at night, coming back the next day. The longer she went without recovering, the more time we spent. The final few days, we rarely left the hospital for more than a few hours. We slept in recliners, two people per chair. We rotated schedules spending time with her and taking breaks; we took turns getting take out and bringing it to the hospital.

As terrible as it was, the reason for being there together, I feel like it's brought my family closer together on a whole new level. As crazy as it sounds, I can smile thinking of those awful days we spent holed up in that tiny little waiting room like it was some kind of hotel room just for us. 

When she finally passed away on January 4th, it was like we didn't know what to do. Our lives had been in this terrible holding pattern for so long, where should we go? What's next? We eventually just went to their house, numb. We looked at pictures, cried, laughed, planned. 

On January 7th we had a memorial service. We didn't have a funeral or a viewing, she didn't want that. She wanted a celebration of life, and we did as best we could. We celebrated as much as we could with broken hearts. We included the scripture and songs she had saved on her computer in a document called "favorite." We told stories about her and invited the congregation to do the same. We spent the afternoon with family talking about how great she was and how much we would miss her.

She truly was an amazing person. Even with 3 kids, 5 grand kids and a couple great grands, no one ever felt left out. She had enough love and enough time for everyone. I've never heard anyone say a bad word about her, other than my grandpa and after nearly 50 years he's entitled to a little good natured complaining, we all do it. 

Her friends and family love her and miss her daily. 


Bookmark and Share

Friday, December 30, 2011

Speech Practice

I've been practicing the /l/ sound with my son. His cousin's name is Logan, so we're working on Logan not Wogan. He's doing really well.

Just now however I said, "Say Logan with an /l/ sound." To which he replied, "Wogan with an /l/ sound."

I've been outsmarted.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

If only your mouth was closed like your mind.

Why are people so stupid about breast feeding? I understand that everyone has different opinions about it, that's fine. But uneducated comments just irritate me. I don't even know why I read news articles about it, I'm too worked up to sleep.

It's not always possible to avoid going to the store all day long. Breast feeding mothers have shopping to do and errands to run, and sometimes that just happens to overlap with the time a baby needs feeding.

It's not always possible to use a cover. Sometimes baby doesn't like it, sometimes it's too hot. Most mothers prefer modesty, but there are times when feeding your baby is just more important than the judgement of others. In my state, I can legally feed my baby wherever I can legally be, so I'm sorry if I'm coverless, look away.

Not all babies will take bottles. That's a blessing and a curse. Stop suggesting it.

And everyone's favorite: feeding a baby is the same thing as going to the bathroom, so do it there. I actually saw a comment today that said "Feeding a baby is exactly like going to the bathroom." Really? That's just dumb on so many levels.

I also saw a man's comment, But if I just whip my penis out like a woman does her boob while feeding a baby does I'd get charged with indecent exposure. Don't go around showing people your privates. Again, really? So a man on the beach showing his nipples is showing his privates (and are we 12?)?

My personal favorite comment however was a woman saying that people shouldn't judge others. That no one is better than anyone and it's just about feeding a baby. Unless, that is, you're feeding a one year old, then you've crossed a line. Hmm. No judgment or anything.

There are many valid points as to why women should cover up, and many women do. It's just more comfortable for most of us. I don't really want you seeing my boob. Although, I will say, some women show more boob with a racy bathing suit or tank top than a breast feeding mother.

The moms who do force breast feeding on people frequently, do so (I believe) to gain publicity for their cause. Something they wouldn't have to do if we didn't react so negatively when someone feeds their baby in public.

The biggest enemy when it comes to breast feeding debates is the American society. Boobs are over sexualized and crammed down our throats as sexual objects when they aren't. God created (or if you don't believe, we've evolved) breasts to feed babies. It's not that it's a natural thing, it's necessary, God given thing.

So stop being dumb. Don't say dumb things, just say you prefer modesty or you wish that your child (or you) didn't have to see a naked breast and move on. Don't debate that it's the same thing as pooping or sex and that we should be allowed to do that in public too. Understand that sometimes it's too hot or we forgot a cover and that we, not only have a legal right to feed our babies, but that it's necessary.

If everyone on both sides of this never-ending debate would just give a little, it wouldn't be so bad.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Slow Cooker Balsamic Beef Roast

I was having one of those clean the pantry days today. In my freezer I had a beef rump roast that I found last week on sale. Rump roasts are my favorite type of beef roast so I always grab them when they are on sale. 

I found a recipe for a balsamic pork roast on pinterest and thought it sounded interesting. So then I decided to find a recipe that used balsamic with a beef roast. I choose this recipe over the pork because it didn't cook with the balsamic, but instead used it later as a glaze. 

This ended up tasting really good. I don't generally branch out from my normal recipes (onion soup mix roast) so this was definitely new. It had a bit of a tang to it since my balsamic is pretty cheap and not aged much, so next time I make it I'll most likely add a bit of sugar to take the edge off. It's three year old approved though.


Balsamic Pot Roast (adapted)

  • 3 1/2 lbs beef roast cut
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • pearl onions
  • cups baby carrots 
  • 2 cups quartered potatoes (I used miniature golds)
  • garlic cloves, crushed
  • cup beef broth
  • teaspoon low-sodium beef bouillon granules
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary , ground
  • cup canned diced tomato (Rotel)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • tablespoons cornstarch (last step)

  • In a large, heavy skillet, sear the beef in the oil until browned all over. Transfer the beef to your slow cooker. Scatter the onion, carrots and garlic around the beef. In a bowl, stir together the broth, bouillon, vinegar, and rosemary. Pour the mixture over the beef. Pour the tomatoes on top. Season with pepper. Cover the slow cooker, and cook on low for 8 hours.

  • When cooking time is up, remove the beef with tongs and place it on a serving platter. Scoop the onions and carrots out with a slotted spoon and pile them around the roast. Turn crock pot to high and thicken the juice left in the slow cooker with cornstarch mixed with water. Serve it with the beef.

    The original recipe author notes to serve with rice or egg noodles, which I think would be amazing.

  • Bookmark and Share

    Monday, December 26, 2011

    It's that time of year

    Christmas is over. Because the husband was out of town on the holiday, we had Christmas the weekend before. He, of course, went so overboard with gifts. 

    Archer got a train table. That he has yet to actually play with. He also got some dress up clothes and a play guitar. He's changed the dress up clothes so many times it's insane.

    I got a new camera. :) Like I said, overboard. I actually got the camera in November because he had to get my input before buying (he was afraid of getting the wrong thing when you're spending that much money). On Christmas day I got a digital frame from Arch and a 35mm f1.8 lens from Chance. 

    At my parent's house we generally only buy presents for the kids, but because my parents are always ready and willing to help out my sister and I went in together to get them both Kindles.  They have always been readers, and my dad has been staying up late nights reading, which makes me laugh. Quite the change from my childhood. lol 

    A friend of mine helped a family in need this year, and I thought that was just so amazing. It was without hesitation or judgement. It made me very proud of her and happy to be her friend. I decided at that moment that I wanted to do something similar for someone on Christmas. 

    I talked to my family about doing an Angel Tree or adopting a local family in some way. We all decided that would be a good idea and we would work it out later. 

    Before we could get a family to adopt, one of my dad's brothers posted on Facebook that he was living out of his car. He had been staying in a hotel after being evicted and couldn't afford to stay there anymore. The room was $55 a night. I called the hotel and got them (he and his gf, who works, but in San Diego, didn't make enough to support them and he works construction and hadn't worked lately) a room for the night and called later to order them a pizza for dinner. I hate seeing my family in need, but I did the only thing I could do. 

    I let my mom and Aunt know I wouldn't be able to help with adopting the family because I'd spent so much on that. 

    Then, just a few days before Christmas, another friend posted that she'd had to return all of her daughter's presents to pay her utility bills. This friend is part of the online group of women I met four years ago. My group (about 60 total, not sure how many were able to contribute, but we all helped some) pitched in a little bit of money and made that little girl's day. 

    I'm pretty bah-humbug about the commercial aspect of Christmas, but being blessed with enough to help others really made it that much better. It's the true Christmas spirit. And the reward isn't getting thank you's and kind words, the reward is seeing pictures of that happy little girl on Facebook, knowing that you contributed to her smile, her continued belief in the Santa who brought her presents. 

    The Christmas spirit moved in me this year. I'm so happy to have the friends and family I have. I'm thankful for all I have, and I most thankful that I'm able to share with others. 

    It's a little late, but Merry Christmas all. I hope next year you are able to help someone in need, I promise it will make your holiday even sweeter. 

    Bookmark and Share

    Friday, December 23, 2011

    What a crock

    Before Chance and I had children (child?) he said he would never lie to them. Never tell the big Christmas lie. You know the one I'm talking about. We've all been a victim, and most of us are now perpetrators. I didn't agree with him of course, children love the magic of Christmas and I for one, wasn't ruining it for my child and the countless others he would share this news with.

    Once he was here Chance apparently changed his mind. But this year, this was really the first year that Santa has played a part in our lives. Last year he knew about him, but didn't really care too much about him. This year though, the year we could have skipped the great lie, we needed Santa as a behavior management technique too much to do anything else but be big fat liars. 

    As I watch the Santa frenzy, I'm more and more ashamed of myself for continuing this lie. Not only do I tell the lie, I bought a $30 elf to help with the lie. And then after I bought the elf, I made a video from Santa that told my child he was on the naughty list (I'm going to hell). I may have even called Santa a few times to tell him how naughty my child was being. 

    All of this Santa propaganda makes is so easy to lie. 

    Why am I writing all of this? 

    Last week I overheard my husband lecturing my three year old son about lying. It was this really long spiel about lying. And then he ended it with, because you know, Santa does come to the house of little boys who tell lies. Irony at it's finest hour.

    I feel more than a little guilt at disciplining my child for lying when we've done nothing since Thanksgiving but lie about Santa. :) Next year I plan to dial back the propaganda back a little. Let Christmas be about so much more than Santa. 

    Don't get me wrong, Archer has heard the first Christmas story and he knows about sharing with those less fortunate. But there will be much less about Santa next year at this house.

    Bookmark and Share

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Patterns in Books

    I read a lot. My girlfriends and I have spent the past year in a book club, each person submitting a book and then we vote from a pool of 5 each month. So again, I read quite a bit. In addition to my book club, I also listen to audiobooks during my commute to and from work. 

    I like a wide variety of books. If you'll click on the reading challenge up in the top menu bar, you can see the books I've read for the year. With the upcoming movie version of The Hunger Games book, my book club friends and I have chosen to read the series and discuss it. On  the drive I've been listening to The Hunger Games and at home reading The Iron Fey series. 

    Because I like to read YA books, I've noticed a pattern recently. When writing a YA book, it must be necessary to have a protagonist with an absent parent (most likely an absent father) and a love triangle of some kind. 

    Let's consider a few popular YA series. The Iron Fey for starters, is about a young girl, Meghan Chase, whose father went missing when she was six, only to find out at sixteen that her real father is the Faery King Oberon (A Midsummer Night's Dream). During the series, Meghan develops feelings for two male characters, Ash and Puck (Robin Goodfellow, also Midsummer Night's Dream). So, daddy issues-check, love triangle-check.

    Up next, Twilight. Bella Swan, who grew up with her flighty single mother reunites with her near-stranger father when her mother decides to remarry a traveling baseball player. Enter love interest Edward Cullen and book two, Jacob Black. Daddy issues-check, love triangle-check.

    A lesser known, but still patternly His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass) stars Lyra, a young seemingly orphaned girl who begins a quest of dark against light. Daddy issues-check, mommy issues-check; no love triangle (she's a little too young).

    Which brings me to The Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen, a young tribute from District 12 enters a bloodbath leaving behind a barely there mother, a dead father and a sister who needs caring for. During this series, we see Katniss struggle with her feelings for two boys she's not sure if she loves or not. Daddy issues-not really, but he's absent, mother issues-check, love triangle-check.

    I could go on and on. The Beautiful Creatures Series, The Fallen Series, The Sally Lockhart Series (to an extent) all feature at least one missing parent and some type of love triangle or love interest. If you even want to take it a step further, YA books aren't the only books guilty of this pattern. The Southern Vampire Mysteries (Sookie Stackhouse books, True Blood) and even The Millennium series (Girl with a Dragon Tattoo) have a heroine who has missing parents and some type of issue with their love life. 

    We all obviously enjoy it, or these books wouldn't be selling, but I sometimes have to ask myself if writing a YA book would really be that difficult. I've read enough of them that surely I could cut and paste some ideas, put my own names and places to the story, twist it a little, and make money off of the clearly booming market. 

    Of all the books I mentioned, Katniss is my favorite. Katniss is strong and brave and is a better person than I am most days. She represents the type of person I would want my daughter to be if forced in the horrible situations Katniss has been in. Not that I think that everything she does is okay, there are definitely some low points to her character, but all in all, at least she doesn't wilt and die because a boy moved away. If I ever decide to get in on the YA market, I hope to write a character one can look up for the positive attributes of their character and not because their boyfriend is sparkly vampire.

    YA books
    Love triangle
    absent/distant father
    feelings for both

    Bookmark and Share

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Christmas is here!

    My Christmas tree is UP! I spent the day Saturday preparing myself and my house for Christmas. 

    I told Archer early in the week we would put the tree up on Saturday so he would have something to look forward to. I had too much homework to do it any sooner. This also worked as a double tactic, because he behaved much better with the threat of the tree looming over his head. 

    I picked him up from my mom's Saturday morning and we headed home for holiday activities. First, I made him clean his room and the living room, the threat of the tree also worked for this and by two in the afternoon the house was clean, his toys were picked up, bed was made and we were ready to decorate. 

    I pulled the tree out from behind the couch (where it's stored) only to find that it was the small 3 foot tree I had thought, but a 6 foot slim with colored lights. (When did I buy that? Apparently last year.) Once the tree was out I had to search for the ornaments. The first two places I looked for (and found) some ornaments, I didn't find what I was looking for. Finally, in the back of the hall closet I found what I wanted, the no shatter blue ornaments. 

    I started supper (Beer and Paprika Beef Stew by the Pioneer Woman, love) and cookies and then we had some company for a while. The kids played and the moms talked all while Harry Potter played in the background. It felt pretty nice to have friends over and have someone to talk to. Archer gets so bored with just Mom, so it worked out perfectly. He even tried to lock the door so Sidnee couldn't leave. 

    Finally, after our company left, we put the ornaments on and had a finished tree. It's so much more fun doing all of this stuff with a little boy who is experiencing it for the first time. His little eyes just light up every time I show him something new about Christmas and he hasn't even seen his presents (because they aren't wrapped) yet. 

    He was so excited about getting the tree put up. As I was putting ornaments on he ran up and hugged my legs saying, "I love you Mommy. I love this tree. Thank you so much for putting it up." Warms my Mommy heart.

    It's almost Christmas time here. 

    A dove for my Nanny.

    My tribe ornaments. They send one each year.

    My silly boy! 

    Bookmark and Share

    Sunday, December 4, 2011


    After many years of nights away from home, homework filled weekends, constant stress, I am finished with my Master's Degree. 

    I turned in my final assignment, practicum hours, and portfolio for graduation last week. I have no upcoming exams, I've already taken my graduate exam. I am finished.

    Now I can spend my evenings browsing on Facebook, blogging, snuggling with my guys, and early bedtimes if I want. 

    This isn't the end of my educational career, there are a few upcoming possibilities I'm holding out for in the future, but this is definitely a good pausing point. :) 

    Bookmark and Share
    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...