Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend -- some thoughts

Memorial Day is a tradition holiday, in my mind. Our little family is building our own traditions, little by little. So far, our major tradition seems to be Daddy studying and then grilling. *big wink* Time will tell how things shake out in years to come.

Growing up, Sunday of Memorial Day weekend was Dad' garden planting day. He'd be up early getting things ready (readier? I'm sure that he did some prep work in advance that I don't remember) and planting. He'd have his transistor radio (Does that get "Brown Eyed Girl" in anyone else's head every.single.time? Just me? Okay.) with him as he listened to the Indy 500. He'd come inside long enough to hear Jim Neighbors sing live and watch the milk get chugged on TV. We'd go out (with various levels of cajoling, depending on our ages and how (not) cool it was to plant a garden with Dad) and help sow some seeds. We'd reap the benefits in a couple of months.

My dad is a country boy at heart. He may have been born and raised in Phoenix, but I think at least part of his heart has always belonged in French Lick, Indiana, (yes, home of Larry Bird) where my grandmother was born and lived before her family moved to Arizona. He spent plenty of time/summers there as a boy. Thus, his one race of the year. That's what led him to gardening before gardening was cool.

By the time I was growing up, the garden didn't change much: carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, rows and rows of green beans for canning, tomatoes, corn, zucchini and crookneck squash, pumpkins. Maybe some beets or peppers or something experimental.

He thought about tampering with tradition and planting while Clare and I were in town Wednesday, but time got away from us, so we only planted tomatoes. I'll take it as a sign that tradition didn't want to be tampered with. And a sign that we need space for our own garden. Someday.

Meanwhile, a tradition around this blog? Giant photo dump (and pretty much the whole reason for this post!):

Have a wonderful Memorial Day! And if your loved ones gave their lives for this great country of ours, thank you (and them). God bless America!

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

5 Favorites, Volume 10 -- Home Town Edition!

This week, Clare and I traveled 2 hours north to my home town for what ended up being a little R&R. It might be a little early to need a break from the heat, but the cool weather has been a treat anyway! So, linking with Hallie today to share my 5 Favorites in Prescott!

1. My dad's deck (and front porch and . . .) -- Dad has a gorgeous piece of forested property. One great think about being here with a napping baby is the excuse for enjoying some outdoor sitting during naptime! Did I mention the cool weather? Love.

Reading the Burpee catalog

2. Rockin' at El Charro -- We had to get Clare indoctrinated on our favorite local Mexican place. Last night they had live music, and Clare, who was eating there for the first time ex utero, loved every minute of it.

3. Downtown -- The courthouse square is iconic and great for a walk (and a browse through the cute boutiques and galleries, if you are so inclined) and a feel of old timey Americana. Of course, I had to make Clare take a picture with the Buckey O'Neil statute, because I wrote a paper on him in college and it turned into a thing. She was clearly aware of how (not) cool her mom is in this picture.

4. Kendall's -- No trip downtown is complete without reminiscing over a burger or ice cream at the local buger-joint-in-the-back, ice-cream-parlor-in-the-front throwback. Yum!

Pouting because she didn't get a cone for dessert? Or because she got applesauce instead of a burger?

5. Dad's garden -- My dad had been growing a garden since waaaaaaaaaaay before it was cool. And we were canning and freezing produce since just as many years pre-coolness. Everything I know about gardening I learned from my dad, along with an appreciation of love for fresh produce. We planted tomatoes this afternoon and let Clare eat the dirt help.

Helping Grandad

Making me soooo wish we had room for a real garden.

Tonight, some family friends are coming over for an oogle-Baby-Clare get together BBQ, and I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Not favorite -- Charles is stuck in Phoenix not relaxing doctoring, and we sure wish he were here. :( Some time soon, for sure (I hope).

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Friday, May 17, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 24

Happy Friday! That means Quick Takes With K-Jen and Sunshine Band. Or something.

1. Our amaryllis is in full bloom. Gorgeous! It is also growing a new set of rabbit ears, so perhaps we'll get another bloom in 18 months.

2. 'Round here, everything is a "baybeee" this week. Lots of babies to be found, including but not limited to, her doll, the baby on the Mother's Day card she is obsessed with, Clare, the baby in the mirror, Jesus on the Crucifix, the bear on the cover of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do you See? and the animals in her touch and feel books. She got a lot of positive reinforcement for saying it about the card last weekend, and ummm, overenthusiastic parents might have overdone it?

3. She is also getting much better and more confident at standing and cruising/walking with assistance. My poor attention-deprived daughter (dripping sarcasm duly noted) will get herself stuck with no more furniture and fuss until my fingers make their appearance to escort her across the room to the next piece of furniture. Crawling over there is soooooo two weeks ago, Moooooom! Video proof of my child's genius for the 1 non-related person who cares:

4. Here in crazy town, Charles only has 7 more clinic days of 3rd year -- 4 next week and 3 the week after! He also has a lame shelf to take this afternoon and a couple of lamer board exams in the next 6 weeks, but still . . . 7 clinic days! 4th year, here we come he comes!!

More Daddy-Daughter medical training

5. I have to admit that I had a lovely Mother's Day in spite of myself. I was spoiled rotten, ate a whole lotta carbs (no guilt, just carbs), didn't make dinner, drank too many cups of coffee, got some beautiful gifts and cards and emails and texts and phone calls and comments on my FB profile picture. (Did I need to list every modern method of communication? Probably not.)

6. Thanks to my family of origin (my childhood, not the actual members of my family), I feel like I'm failing Clare in having not yet achieved a curl or a top-of-her-head ponytail. Both would be ideal. This was my most recent lame attempt at a pony. I know lots of moms have babies with less hair than mine, but a prayer to the patron saint of hair growth would be appreciated anyway.

7. I am totally in love with the video pregnancy announcements. This one from Jenny and this one (linked via Camp Patton FB page, 'cause I'm that cool or, you know, not) both made me cry this week. Congratulations complete strangers (only one whose blog I actually stalk follow) Maybe they are totally a few years ago and I was just out of the loop, but I don't care. I'm not pregnant, but if I were, I would be so tempted. Don't say you haven't been warned for some future day when I am gestating again.

Happy weekending!

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

5 Favorites, Vol. 9

Finally finding inspiration for my five favorites this week, 'cause linking with Hallie is like a drug. It makes me feel so good to find the best little things in life. Anyway, I'm having a theme week. These are 5 recipes I've found on Pinterest that actually work and have become family my favorites. I've linked some of them before, I know, but they are too good not to share en masse.

1.  Chocolate Glazed Banana Bread Muffins

If you are like me, there always seem to be bananas around the house that need some love. Add some chocolate and yes, please.

2. Cilantro Lime Chicken

I love a good Crock Pot meal, and I love it when the outcome is as versatile as this one is. I could use it in tacos, as recommended. I often serve it over brown rice as a rice bowl. It is really yummy in enchiladas with green enchilada sauce.

3. Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin

I've seen this all over the internet and it is so good and easy. I've made it as recommended in the recipe, using a Crock Pot. I've also used it to glaze pork tenderloin every 5 minutes for the last 15 minutes of cooking. I've also used it to glaze salmon.

4. Honey Garlic Pork Chops

This is tasty and easy. What's not to love. I marinate and bake in one dish; I can use the extra marinade as sauce to spoon over rice or broccoli.

5. Crock Pot Corn Chowder

I love having soup for lunch, so occasionally, I'll make soup for myself (and soon Clare) to eat throughout the week. I got this one going early in the AM to be done in time for lunch a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it. It would be a yummy dinner with some crusty bread and a salad, too.

Now, off you go! Happy list-hunting over at Hallie's!

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

10 Months

Yesterday was Clare's 10 month birthday.

Of course, that means I took a few lot of pictures. It also means that I get to talk about what an amazing kid she is. 'Cause I'm her Mama and that's what I do.

She's super-talkative and friendly. She has the best smile.

She still has two teeth, and two that are just about to break through. It looks like she will have fangs.

She's standing up like a pro and cruising the furniture like it's her job. She also loves to walk holding my fingers. I know it's only a matter of time, steadiness and courage. It is interesting to me that, for as eager she is to rough house, she's very cautious about "letting go" when learning new skills.

She points and uses her pincer grasp like she's at a ladies' tea party all day every day.

She loves to read.

She love to play.

She is sleeping well pretty consistently. (And now I jinxed myself.)

Her new favorite food is strawberries.

She had decided that she will no longer wear headbands, but doesn't mind clips and barrettes one bit, as evidence in this "roll of film."

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Friday, May 10, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 23

1. Our amaryllis is juuuuuust about to bloom. Crazy what it has done in 2 weeks after doing, well, not much for so long.

2. Someone miiiiiight just be thisclose to saying “Dada.” She is definitely saying Mama and Dada a lot, but most of the time when Charles walks into the room, she’ll point and say, “Dadadadada!” We applaud and encourage her, so she’s getting lots of positive feedback, and I think it’s stuck. There's just still some Mama confusion, like at bedtime last night.

3. Said someone is 10 months old today. Huh? Where has the time gone? I’ll be taking 1 million pictures later today and posting my ode tomorrow.

4. She is also becoming a fruit fiend, loving honeydew and strawberries in particular at the moment. Maybe because that is what I have at the house right now.When I was pregnant, I was obsessed with fruit. I wouldn't normally think pregnancy cravings have much meaning, but I find the connection interesting.

5. So, I’ve been wanting to write a post for about ev-er about how cookies and milk have totally changed my afternoons. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. I’ve just decided it would be a ridiculous entire post, so I’m making it a QT instead. This is the premise. Most days I have an afternoon crash. At work, I would fight through with a snack, but at home, I tend to start grazing and graze alllllll afternoon and eat a bunch of junk and just really, really want sugar and coffee. I try to avoid with all this not sugar or coffee stuff and then finally give in. For a variety of reasons post-Lenten sweets ban, I’ve started keeping frozen cookie dough and literally making 2 cookies in the afternoon and eating them with a glass of milk. I’ve found that it mostly keeps the grazing at bay and totally kills the cravings. I also use it as a reward for myself to get stuff done at the beginning of Clare’s nap. So, more productive, less crash-y, and less grazing on junk food is a win-win-win in my book. I hope eventually to adjust down the cookie part, but for the time being, this is working.

6. The other big dietary change I’ve made is eating breakfast. For the first 31 years of my life, I considered breakfast a chore. For most of my life, choking down a banana or a slice of toast was about all I could muster. As an adult, I learned to eat a bowl of cereal, but really, that’s not that much better. A couple of months ago, though, I started upping the ante and start trying harder to eat better in the mornings. I’ve found that I feel better, less hungry (shocker!), more productive. Basically, all the same stuff, but in the mornings. Amazing what happens when we take care of ourselves. *rolls eyes at myself*

7. For all the mamas out there, I hope you have a lovely day Sunday, and get a chance to relax, even if it is just 5 minutes alone. 

Off you go to Jen's for more.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Some (almost) Mother's Day Reflections

This is, by far, the most personal post I've written. Please bear with any rambling incoherence. I'm already typing through tears, which may or may not be good for editing.

I've seen this blog post floating around the web this week, and it usually brings with it a firestorm. I'm sure the same was true last year, but I was too buried under pregnancy and grading to notice.

Anyway, since Mother's Day is always a struggle for me, I want to share my own thoughts.

My mom died when I was 17. It was Christmas Break of my junior year of high school. She'd been fighting round 2 of breast cancer for 2 years after a decade-long remission. She was my mom, but she was also my confidant. And oh, how she would have loved being a grandmother! I still miss her It's not an open wound or something that I dwell on or feel like I'm still in mourning or anything. It's just that sometimes, a girl needs her mom, and no substitute-mother, no matter how well-meaning, loving, or wonderful is ever quite the same.

Mommy, Me, and Baby Sister

I don't say any of that to discourage those wonderful women in my life or to discourage those who are wonderful women to other people who need moms. I don't say any of the above to elicit sympathy. It just is.

Over the years, I've tried various ways to deal with Mother's Day. Honor all the moms. Ignore it. Put on a happy face. Cry my eyes out. Do all of the above in one day. Heck, I even managed to snag the guy I married on Mother's Day. (True story -- we count Mother's Day as our dating anniversary, even though our first official date was the next day.)

But for years, as a woman with neither mother nor child, I felt like that shell. I felt incomplete. Inadequate. I always thought that being a mom would fix that. But it hasn't.

Don't get me wrong. I love a good celebration as much as the next guy gal. I know that in years to come, I'll cry over handmade cards and gifts and Mother's Day hugs. I delight in my daughter and pray to delight in other children in years to come. Being a mother is the greatest gift I have ever received for so many reasons.

My brand-new Little Blessing

There's just a part of me that wishes my mom were here to enjoy it. We'll never share Mother's Day brunch or a long phone call or or or and that makes me sad. And I don't think that little bit of sadness will ever really go away. Mother's Day will always be bittersweet. A little bitter along with all the sweetness in the world.

I'm not saying that we should stop celebrating Mother's Day because some of us who have lost mothers or who have lost children or who bear other crosses, like infertility, might be feeling sad. I'm not saying that churches should stop blessing or thanking or praying for mothers. God knows how much we need them. So much so that He gave His only Son an Immaculate Mother.

I'm just saying that we should take a moment to notice that woman next to us in the pew, or at brunch, or at Hallmark and recognize that maybe, just maybe, things aren't so easy for her. A little compassion goes a long ways. A smile. A nod. A hug. A word.

At the same time, if you know someone is struggling, let them take the lead beyond that. From personal experience, it's a personal experience. All of the well-meaning sympathy in the world can feel as burdensome as all the celebrations in the world. A smile. A nod. A hug. A word.

The three of us in Charleston the summer before Mom's diagnosis.

And to all of you whose crosses are as heavy as mine this weekend, please know that I'm praying for you.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

5 Favorites, Vol. 8

Linking up with Grace who's helping Hallie soak up a little post-baptism family time. 

Really, this post should be written by Clare, but since her grasp of the English language is still, ummmm, developing, I have taken it upon myself to help her out. These are her 5 favorite books at the moment. For the record, all links are to Amazon, but I don't have the whatever you call it when you get paid for click throughs, so that is just a matter of convenience not commerce.

1. Puppy and Friends -- "I love the puppies and pat them to let them know. Mama seems to think I care about the touch and feel parts, too, but I just care about the doggies."

2. Touch and Feel Pets -- "See above. Except that I love all the animals, even the kitty. And the lizard does feel really cool! This was my favorite Easter basket present."

3. The Littlest Turtle -- "I especially love it when the turtle kisses me when Mama reads. It never seems to happen when I read it by myself. So confusing."

4. You Are My Cupcake -- "I may be crazy, but I'm still a girly girl at heart. I love desert and sparkles. Win. Win. Plus, Mama eats me up in the end and that makes me laugh and laugh!"

5. Toes, Ears & Nose -- "I may not care about parts of my body yet, but ripping the flaps off was super-fun before Mama took my copy away!" (Note from Mama: we have a second copy....shhhhhh! don't tell!)

Happy reading (of books and lists)!

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