Thursday, April 29, 2010

Refined by Fire

"Motherhood is a refining fire...twice as hot as a marriage."

And so reads the Facebook status of an old high school friend.

Sounds like the sister is having a bad day.  She has two girls.  The other day she wondered if she'd survive puberty.  Her girls are 5 and 8.  She's not even flirting with puberty yet.

I feel her pain.  I've been burning in some fire myself.  In our house not only do we deal with the normal struggles of parenting, but we've also been entrusted with dealing with blended families and two parents who are outside of our home.  There are times the fire is so hot I'd swear I was dancing with the Devil himself.

But at the end of the day I guess the important thing to remember is they are only kids for a blink of an eye.  I'm constantly being reminded of that as we navigate our way through the very beginnings of the teenage years.

I liken it to riding the rapids in a river; just when you think you're having the ride of your life, something happens and the next thing you know you're in the hospital having your rear-end sewn back on. 

And I feel the need to tell you that my metaphorical ride of the teenage rapids has been much more expensive as it has also caused a physical growth spurt in the boy which has ultimately caused us to have to purchase pants at least 3 times this year. 

However, the physical ride down the river in September which ended with me having my rear-end torn open and then sewn up was much cheaper, and I have Land's End to thank for that.  Because, even though my hind end suffered a good 7-8 inch gash that was approximately as deep as the Grand Canyon, my bathing suit suffered nary a snag.  NOTHING.  It's as good as new.

But all of that is beside the point.

The point is this.  They are only small for a little while.  Then they get big and they start begging you not to make them go with the rest of the family to the fun family outings because they are far too embarassed to be seen with you.

And I cannot, for the life of me figure that out.  Doesn't he get it?  Seriously.  How many mothers do you know  have planned an exciting birthday weekend for their child which culminates with an unforseen trip to an emergency room somewhere deep in the mountains of East Tennessee? 

Exactly.  That's what I thought.  None.

What's so embarassing about that?

See y'all!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tipping Point

Listen.  I'm at critical point in the weight loss journey. 

I have this particular weight- my scary weight- that I'm at right now.  After three solid months of Weight Watchers.  The reason for joining Weight Watchers in February was because somewhere between Labor Day and Christmas I decided to eat right on past my scary weight in a blaze of fire to a new and improved scary weight- which will now be known as my treacherous weight. 

In other news, Coach has lost 30 pounds.  He's never looked better.  And he's in a good mood all the time.  And he talks about how much better he feels and he smiles and laughs and all that stuff.

It's wearing on me.

How do I determine my scary weight?  Perhaps you'll remember- in my mind, anytime I exceed the weight of Kenny Chesney I consider myself to be pushing maximum density.  That's not good.

By February of this year Kenny Chesney's weight was a wistful dream.  Again, not good.

Enter Weight Watchers.  And y'all I rocked it...like Amadeus I rocked it for a good 6-7 weeks.  Now I'm bored.  You can only eat so many Subway sandwiches before the reality sets in that a Steak & Shake Frisco Melt may NEVER be in your future again.

But then again, neither is a bikini so I guess it's 6 of one and a half dozen of another.

Anyway, I'm at this point- a crossroads if you will, where I have to decide if I'd rather be a little more fluffy than I'd like or go ahead and man up and get the job done.

It's a hard decision.  I'm going to have to think about it.  For at least the weekend.  I think a Frisco Melt may help me decide.  A Frisco Melt and a trip to see this:



See y'all!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What is art?

Will people get made if I write posts without baby kid pictures?  I don't know; and I'm not sure I'd be able to handle the wrath of my seething masses of fans, so here's a pic just to be safe:



So, I guess Roger Ebert says video games can't be art, and of course many gamers disagree, so I started thinking, What is art, to me?  Because I don't think there's a universal answer to that question.  One person's art is another person's trash (banned books, anyone?).  But, to me, art is something that evokes emotion, and through those emotions you learn or are reminded of something important.  Whether its entertaining or has puzzles or is made by more than one person is not as important to me as its effect on those who experience it.

So here's some examples of non-traditional things that are art to me (though maybe not to everyone):
  • Dinosaur skeletons, carefully arranged to be accurate and interesting, evoke a sense of awe, amazement, and desire for knowledge.  Most of all, they convey how much we don't know.
  • My son's drawing of himself playing, with me in the house watching over him.  He wants me to love and watch over him, but wants to be separate, too.
  • In the finale of one Buffy season, a character sacrifices herself to save her friends.  This is a common theme, but what made this so artistic was that you felt admiration, sorrow, pride, angst, and a hundred other things and suddenly you felt like you knew what real love and friendship meant, not just the words, but the emotions, the commitment, the acts -- this is how a true friend feels, and you want to love more, and love better.
  • A bee, buzzing from flower to flower, oblivious to me and pretty much all humans, but appreciating the pollen and nectar, intent on her job, working hard with the hive to feed, build, and grow.  When I see this I want to work harder for my own "hive"
  • In some video games, there are sometimes battles you cannot win, for plot reasons (I'm thinking specifically of Dragon Age & Deus Ex).  The characters try their hardest, use their best skills and all their determination, and you use your best strategies, but you just cannot win.  You feel powerless, defeated, inadequate -- but you do not quit.  And the defeat that seemed like it would ruin you is often instead what lets you find out truth, find out what your real goal should be, and tells you what you need to be.
So, what is art to you?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Little Boys and Killers of the Deep

Okay- I'll be quick because I'm beyond exhausted and Coach has threatened to disable (in the most permanent sense of the word) my computer if I don't go to bed, but this is just too cute to miss.

I have an old friend who I ran high school track with.  She's funny.  Really funny and always was.

And apparently her kids are too, because when she went to pray with her four-year-old  before bed last night he, in all seriousness, prayed and lifted up "predators and killers of the deep."

This is her Facebook status quote from last night (boy's name is shortened to initial):

"When praying tonight J. thanked God for predators and killers of the deep...at first I was like What??? But then I thought we all need prayers, and they may not get as many. So,  let's here it for J. raising up the predators and killers of the deep."

Told you.

DARLING.

See y'all!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Alexis is 8 weeks and I am back to work

Today is not such a happy day for me.  I had to go back to work :(.  Alexis is 8 weeks and 1 day old now.  She is so active and alert all the time, I wish I could be home with her still.

Work has not been too bad, and I have done much better than I thought I would. It probably helps that she is home with daddy.  I will most likely boohoo when she has to go to daycare, but I am hoping I do not have to see that day.  We are trying to find a way for me to be able to be home.

So what is Alexis up to these days??

Well, she is sleeping about 6-7 hours at night.  As I type this, I probably just jinxed it :).  She goes to bed anywhere between 9-11pm and wakes up around 4 am.  After that, she usually wakes up again around 6:30.  Sometimes she goes back to sleep after that, and sometimes not.  She will eat, play for a little bit, then take a nap.  That is typically her cycle every time she wakes up - other than the night feedings.  Usually she will go right back to sleep after eating during the night. 

She is a BIG time smiler.  She loves to talk and coo at you. One of her favorite things that usually gets a pretty big smile and almost laugh out of her, is to tell her she is a "pretty girl."  She LOVES it, and I love it when she does it to me.  She is also doing really well with recognizing voices - my especially, and can follow objects.

Pray I make it through this week.....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hikes, Birthdays, Easter, and More Quotes

 April has gone by quickly!  Let me sum up.

On April Fool's day a good friend of mine watched the kids for a few hours while I took a hike ALL BY MYSELF.  I had never done this before, and enjoyed it very much.  I did the Domingo Baca Canyon trail.  It was very very windy, but not too cold and the stream was pretty.  I know no one comes to this blog looking for pictures of me, but here is one anyway, with the city of Albuquerque in the background.  I saw lots of interesting lichen, some desert moss, several types of prickly pear, some gorgeous rocks, plenty of juniper and pinon, 1 robin, 1 mourning dove, and 1 blue jay.

For my birthday, we went out to eat at our favorite local seafood restaurant, Pelican's.  It was a Friday, so it was kind of crowded even at 5pm (their early bird dinner crowd), but we got squid for an appetizer and their tasty bread kept everyone happy while we waited for food.  The house vinaigrette is the best I've ever had, and their coconut shrimp with raspberry sauce was delightful.

As if that wasn't enough pampering, after putting the kids to bed Wes gave me a mysterious clue.  It was the start of a 30-clue treasure hunt, full of fake latin and cryptoquotes and picture clues and unscrambles and ASCII conversions and word ladder puzzles and more.  It was awesome!  And the reward was FFXIII, so that was awesome, too.  :-)

Sunday was Easter, and there were lots of eggs hidden in the backyard for the kids to find.  Rather than attempt to describe their cuteness with mere words, these pictures will do a much better job.



Then, the next weekend, we went to the Japanese Hana Matsuri (Flower Festival) at the botanical garden.  They had taiko drumming, karate demonstrations, and origami and ikebana displays.  I think the drums were our favorite.















Wes: You can tell how fancy a salad is by how much work you have to do to eat it.  The fanciest salads are just whole tomatoes and cucumbers and other vegetables and a head of lettuce, and they give you a knife and let you chop it all up yourself.
Quartz: I can count to 10 million by millions.  1 million, 2 million, 3 million . . .
Onyx: I'm playing Misfire.  It's a video game, but we don't have it yet.  In the demo you can eat ice cream.  The last level has a machine gun.
Andrea: I'm SO glad that's a raisin on the floor.
Sapphire: Mine.

Driving the Tennessee Way

In Tennessee doing this...


while drinking this...


will apparently allow you the pleasure of taking one of these...


and then taking a little trip here for some R & R...
but only if you go charging into a large crowd on Mule Day asking for beer.  And yes, I did indeed say Mule Day.  If you've never been, you shouldn't knock it- it's actually quite fun...

Unless of course you get trampled by man horseback riding under the influence.

From the AP:  COLUMBIA, Tenn. – A Middle Tennessee horseback rider was jailed after being charged with running into a crowd of people at the Mule Day festivities in Columbia. The man, 32, was charged with two counts of reckless endangerment and public intoxication.

You can read the rest of the story here if you'd like.



See y'all!


Monday, April 12, 2010

Because I Could Not Stop For Death, It Kindly Stopped For Me

And you're welcome English majors and lovers of poetry everywhere.  Truth be told, life has taken on a speed that not even death could catch.

And because I have more to do than is humanly possible to get done, I have chosen to do several superfluous tasks tonight which may or may not have included showing AC how to start her own blog, watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory, making a rather complicated dinner, taking a long bath, throwing ball with the dog, researching possible cures for my itchy skin, and tinkering with a moody remote.  Oh, and writing a blog post about nothing.

So...today.  What can I say about today?  How about this:  G informed me and AC on the way home that they are learning about the reproductive system in science.  Now, what I thought he meant was he was learning terms like "stamen" and "ovary" and "ureter" - you know all the things you never remember about reproduction.

Yeah.  Not so much.  He launched into a conversation about periods and uteruses (is that even how you spell the plural of uterus?  How many times does one have the need to speak of a uterus in plural form?  Clearly, not many.)

And then he said:  "I'm really excited..." (WHAT?????  EXCITED????? WHAT?????)  Oh please not excited, I'm not ready for excited. 

Then he finished the sentence:  "I'm really excited because the test will be really easy.  You already told me all of this, so I knew it all.  You wouldn't believe how many people in my class didn't know anything."

Me:  "Anything?"

Him:  "Nothing.  Pete and Sam told Drew that a vascectomy is an operation that turns a man into a woman, and he believed him.  It was awesome."

Me: "Yeah, well you won't think it's so awesome when the scalpel comes calling for you buddy" 

Him:  "So, I knew almost everything."

Me: "What do you mean you knew almost everything?"

Him:  "Well, you never told me about an org@$%"

Me:  "Whoa there buddy!  Hold up, your sister is in the car.  We need to talk about this later."

Her:  "Don't worry Mom, we learned about organisms in science last year.  No big deal."  (I've never been more thankful that she doesn't hear well.)

And it was precisely then that death did stop for me.  Then it heard the conversation we were having and took off like a shot with its hair on fire.

See y'all!

Southern By the Grace of God

All I really needed to know about being Southern I learned from Julia Sugarbaker.  Well almost everything. Some things I learned from my great-grandmother.  We called her Mother D.  Her name was Daisy.  Anyway, It seems that it was time for Ms. Sugarbaker to meet the Great Designer.  Of course her real name was Dixie Carter...and she was one great lady.

Please take a minute or two or your day to get a good laugh and watch someone eloquently and passionately say all the things you wish you could say...






Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Recipes and Random

Okay- so first on the list is this: Weight Watchers recipes.  I have some.  Check out the Cooking Momsense button for recipes - some are WW friendly, some not- believe me, you'll be able to tell the difference.  But...

BUT...

These enchiladas are absolutely fabulous and they are Weight Watchers friendly- they count 4 points a piece if you use fat-free tortillas; 5 if you use regular tortillas.  Try them - your husband will think you are a culinary genius- I swear.  Your kids too- especially if your kids are teenage boys...

2.   A friend of mine posted this question/thought on Facebook the other day:  Dylan & Brenda or Dylan & Kelly. Ponder it a minute.

 Is it terrible that I've spent more time than is prudent or healthy waying the pros and cons of both relationships.  Remember, they are fictional characters, although if you had tried to tell me that in 1992, I would have vehemently argued that you were absolutely wrong there.

3.  I think I'm getting carried away on my adverb usage.  I blame freshmen...and research papers...and spring fever a little bit.

4.  This week I ate a gallon of frozen yogurt, a box of Girl Scout cookies (Tag-a-longs), a half box of Little Debbie brownies, BBQ pork, hamburgers, potato chips, and an entire bag of Reeses peanut butter eggs.

Weight Watchers should have been Armegeddon-ish.  It wasn't.  I LOST WEIGHT.  Granted it was only .2 pounds, but OH MY WORD  the Lord favored me and my metabolism this week.  (If you're a WW person looking for recipes- I don't recommend the regimen I was on last week.  Seriously- it's a miracle of biblical proportions that I didn't gain 5 pounds this week.)

5.  I read a hilariously funny book this week.  Check it out.  It will make you love your life a little bit more.  And you'll laugh out loud...and you might choke on Diet Coke and shoot it through your nose and cause your eyes to water if you're on a plane headed toward NYC- but you know, it's all hypothetical.















And I also read this while I was gone.  If you are nostalgic for the 80's and high school and Swatch watches and Coca Cola clothing and Outback Red and Gunne Sax and Hair Bands and Alf, and you know all things happy and cheesy, then check this book out...
















And finally, if you're feeling insecure then you should read Beth Moore's book.  If you're not feeling  insecure you should still read it, because more than likely you'll find out you are feeling insecure, and maybe you were just feeling insecure about a book with the word "insecurity" in the title.  So, take the jacket off the book and get over yourself and read it- it really will bless you whether you're insecure or not, because I can guarantee you this:  if you have friends, you have some insecure friends.  If you hang out with kids, you are hanging out with people drowning in insecurity.  It is a liberating and uplifting book.  And I just love Beth Moore.
















Finally, I would love to hang out here blessing you all with witty banter and profound thoughts on laundry and how to avoid left over Reeses Peanut Butter eggs, but there are some research papers calling my name...

See y'all!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sunday Supper: Easter Edition

Happy Easter!  It is glorious here, so I'll be short.  To be honest, I'm not cooking today, because we go to visit family.  BUT- if I was I would definitely be cooking the pork chops and grit cakes below.  As a matter of fact, I will be cooking them at some point during the week, just not tomorrow.

Now, I have to go practice makeup application to my arms and legs as I sat at the soccer fields for three hours today and have some serious issues with watch marks, sleeve marks, sandal marks, marks from my sunglasses, and two burned knee caps. 

Which is totally awesome since my dress is sleeveless and my shoes don't cover the sandal marks.

Here's hoping the Easter Bunny brings me an early morning spray tan.  Don't hold your breath though!

Fontina and Prosciutto Stuffed Pork Chops
4 bone-in pork chops, about 1 1/2 inches thick
2 quarts water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
4 fresh thyme sprigs
10 cloves
6 allspice berries
8 slices (about 3 ounces) prosciutto
4 slices (about 3 ounces) fontina
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

Directions
Prepare the pork chops. Make a brine by combining the water, sugar, salt, thyme sprigs, clove and all-spice berries in a re-sealable bag. Add the pork chops, seal up the bag and put in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Drain the pork chops and pat dry. Using a paring knife, make a horizontal cut into the center of each chop to make a pocket. Stuff a slice of fontina and prosciutto inside each pocket and secure with a toothpick. Set 2 large cast iron skillets over medium-high heat and add a 2-count of extra-virgin olive oil to each skillet. Add 2 chops to each of the skillets and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until golden. Turn chops. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper before putting the pans in the oven. Roast chops for 5 to 7 minutes until cooked through and cheese has melted. Remove from oven when done and set chops aside on a plate - keep warm.

Consolidate juices into 1 pan and set over medium heat. Add a splash of chicken stock to the pan, scraping the bottom to extract all the flavors. Fold in cold butter while whisking to thicken sauce. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, set 1 pork chop on each plate on top of a Grit Cake, and drizzle with pan sauce.

Grit Cakes
4 cups low-sodium canned vegetable broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup instant white grits
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack
Instant flour, for dredging (recommended: Wondra)
1/4 cup olive oil

Butter a half-sheet pan (about 12 by 17 inches), line it with parchment paper, and butter the parchment paper. Set aside.

Bring the broth, salt, white pepper, and cayenne to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. With broth mixture at a boil, gradually pour in the grits, while whisking constantly. After the grits are incorporated, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring constantly, until the grits are thick, about 5 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Spread the grits in an even layer about 1/2-inch thick in the prepared pan and refrigerate until set and firm, at least 1 hour.

When the grits are set and firm, turn the grits out onto a clean cutting board. Using a 1 1/2-inch round or square cutter, cut the grits into small cakes. Put some instant flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Dredge the cakes in the seasoned flour. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, and fry the cakes, in batches, until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Green Bean Bundles
1 pound fresh green beans
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Bacon

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Blanch green beans for 3 minutes. Toss them in olive oil and salt and pepper. Bundle about 5 green beans and wrap a piece of bacon around the bundle. Place in a roasting pan and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until bacon is cooked.

And then you go out for ice cream!

See y'all!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hiatus

I took one.  A hiatus, if you didn’t catch the kicky post title.  I didn’t mean to, but a series of comical and/or unfortunate events took place that kept me away from the linky, interwebby world.
First, last week was spring break and most people went here:

hilton-head-

But we did not.  I did, however, celebrate one of these...

cake

It was the last birthday of my 30’s.  There will be a memorial service later.

Then the two of us…
green acres

took off to see the sights here…

Midtown_Skyline,_New_York_City

and enjoy an all-expense paid trip to Brooklyn where we attended a coaching clinic.  Good times.

Well, until it was time to come home on Sunday evening and this…

delta

was delayed and we didn’t get home until a bit after midnight, which was bad.  But bad quickly went to worse when we arrived home and realized this…

water_faucet

was not working.  Which caused great stress and greatly impeded this…

sleeping_dogs_1

which did not bode well at all since we both had to be here…

classroom

at 7:00am.  (Don’t worry- the kids we teach are colorized.  So are the rooms.)

It was also Coach’s…

bday cake

It wasn’t his best, because we both spent it at one of these…

WomensTrack2007_sized

which further impeded this…

sleeping-dog

dinner and cake eating were also greatly impeded.  And then we did the whole no water, track meet, school thing again…

three days in a row.

We’re tired…and old…and cakeless.

See y’all tomorrow!