Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Closer to Fine- The Indigo Girls and Me

One of my all time favorite bands. The Indigo Girls provided the soundtrack to my high school and college days. Teenage angst, love, hate, break-ups and make-ups, searching for who you are...they were with me every step of the way. The first boy I really loved, and his passionate serenading me with "Romeo and Juliet" after we broke up, in front of my friends and cast mates (completely embarrassing then- now one of those moments I'll never forget because, seriously, when does that happen outside of the movies right??). My tool bag boyfriend and all the ways he made me feel less than had me scream singing many an IG song in my car parked at the inlet. My very first Spring Concert teaching my very first Freshmen Girls Choir where I arranged my very first song- "Let it be Me" with one brother on the piano and the other on the congas (introducing an entire new generation to the awesomeness that is Indigo Girls).  Little failures and little victories all come flooding back just by putting on "Rites of Passage".  My brother and I still love to rock out in the car to any one of their albums, naturally picking up the different harmonies and just chillin.

So, why am I waxing on about my band love?

Because last night was HUGE for me. MOMENTOUS. And I owe it all to our organic lifestyle.

Stop saying that's the dumbest thing you've ever heard. Hear me out.

Prior to last night, the last concert I attended was Creation, held at the Gorge, for 3 days, about 7 years ago. My brother and I went with a few friends. The entire time, the only thing I worried about was getting sick to my stomach in a place that only had portable toilets. Cause eww. So. I didn't eat. I tried not to drink too much water. Anything to keep my body from doing what it usually did. To say that this hindered my enjoyment is an understatement.

Since that time, I have been avoiding activities, hikes, experiences, LIFE in general. Because my body ALWAYS plays mutiny. The hubbs and I have missed out on so much because I didn't feel good. How crappy is that? How awful to miss a large chunk of your 20's and some of your 30's because of your literally shitty system?

So, while at the zoo with a friend, I saw that my fave, the Indigo Girls, were playing a concert. AT THE ZOO. And I decided that I was gonna take babygirl to her first, and best obviously, concert. Getting ready for it, I will admit, there was that little voice waaaaay back in my head trying to creep in, reminding me not to eat too much before or while we're there cause I don't need to get ill at the zoo, but I largely ignored it. I was just excited. Not nervous excited. Not "well i'm probably gonna puke right before and have to cancel" excited. Just plain ole excited.

And the concert? ROCKED. We had a blast. I didn't immediately spot all of the places where I could go and quietly puke if I needed to. I didn't have an escape plan if I had to end the night early (hubbs and I NEVER car pooled with other people. just in case.) I just went. And sang. And danced. And watched babygirl make new friends and enjoy some good music.

And that, my friends, is why I'm so passionate about this whole new lifestyle thing we've got going on over here. Because unless you've lived a life with an unknown illness that robbed you of every little single last bit of enjoyment and health, you have no idea how grateful I am to have a night like last night. And I want to have SO MANY of them. I want my daughter to have the kind of amazing experiences with me, and the hubbs, that I had with my parents growing up. Seriously, who else's mom threatens to ground them if they DON'T get on that roller coaster? (she knew I would love it if I would just stop worrying and get on. and I did). That woman was basically the director of all activities for us, our friends and some of the neighborhood kids. Every summer day was amazing- trips to Six Flags Great Adventure, trips to the beach, bike rides, volleyball in the backyard, bbq's at our house while a bazillion of us played "keep away" in our pool. (keep away is a fun, and dangerous game we created where you simply have to keep the ball away from the other team by ANY. MEANS. POSSIBLE.) Crab man - where our insanely strong dad would walk sideways throughout the pool, grab you under his arm and you had to try to get away. Regardless of how many kids he captured at the same time, no one ever escaped. ever. Because he's crab man.

My parents were (and still are) young and fun and active and the memories they made for me, my brothers and all of our friends I will treasure forever. and I want that for babygirl. And we're well on our way to that now.

It's just kind of amazing what not vomiting daily can do for your life.

Loves!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Broken

What started out as an idealic relationship with God (I mean, I SAW HIM when I was 3, hanging out with my recently deceased Nana, telling me every little thing was gonna be alright), turned into a struggle of I'm-not-worthy-enough that still rears its ugly head every now and again.

An entry for Lisa Jo Baker's blog for Five Minute Friday.

I was molested by a female neighbor when I was 5. We were playing doctor. I didn't realize what had really gone on- but my mom noticed I was red and swollen and asked what happened. We didn't play with those neighbors anymore. Something similar happened with a female babysitter a few years later, but I didn't tell anyone. It felt dirty and wrong, and I didn't want to get in trouble.

Combine that with a volatile divorce that essentially ended the relationship I had with my father until well after college, and you have the perfect recipe for a lost little girl with zero self-worth, searching for love from male friends since females were not to be trusted. My mom is the only reason I survived with some shred of God's love for me.

I decided I would be a virgin until marriage. Until senior prom night- when that decision was taken from me while I was asleep. (I know, who falls asleep while making out with a boyfriend?) I woke up after it started and didn't want him to feel bad, so I didn't say anything. And also? I didn't break up with him. Nope. We had sex so I had to marry him, right? Enter the next 9 months of the worst. relationship. ever.

Did I mention I had an eating disorder through high school and most of college? So yeah. There's that.

And then it was yet another poor choice in mate. One who made me feel worthless. One who gave me a ring. Luckily, one I figured out was NOT the right one before the wedding.

But. That led to a string of one night stand-ish type encounters. Things I don't want to think about. Things I cringe about. That leave me wondering how in the world I did not end up pregnant or with a disease. God watched and protected me. As much as I was pushing His love away.

I tried to get back on the right track. I dated a super Christian boy. He was amazing. I fell hard. But. He couldn't get passed my past. Unlovable. Unworthy. Used. Unclean. Broken. Into a million little pieces.

And now? I have a husband I'm madly in love with. I have a babygirl I'd give my life for. They have helped to build me back up. Help me see my purpose. It's taken YEARS. Struggles. Cursing. Fighting so hard so he would just leave. so I wouldn't be left. But he loved me through it.

And then my church. My amazing church family that finally sent a message of pure LOVE and GRACE. Of "you are forgiven" and "you are cherished" instead of "who could ever want a rose that has been passed around by so many hands". a rebuilding of spirit. a rebirth of soul.

There are days I still feel broken. dirty. slutty. But God lifts me up. always. dusts me off. whispers I'm loved. you're mine. nothing will change that. you're clean because I LOVE YOU.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

a blog to apologize for not blogging

Yup. It's summer.

Apparently, it doesn't matter that I don't have a job. Summer break is summer break, and I am SLACKING at this whole blog thing. Granted, there's a bunch going on right now (just figuring out the rest of our lives and all, no big deal). But still. I feel bad.

My intent was to go back and read my old blogs and find the topics that I said I would cover in a later post and then actually do that.

Yeah. That hasn't happened yet.

So this is my apology to you, along with an I-promise-to-do-better. Later. Like, when the sun goes away again for another 10 months. Right now, girlfriend and I are enjoying our outside time. Vitamin D and tan. Fixes everything.

In the meantime, I am thinking about what else I'd like to cover here. And here are some of my flashes of brilliance:

- Fluoride and why you should never use it
- watch "Food, Inc" and blog about it....finally
- Alcohol owned by Big Ag
- some more random mom posts, since babygirl IS the most dramatic child ever. EVER.
- Vaccination- or "how I hope not to lose friends and alienate people, but I have to divulge everything I've researched, but I promise I don't think you're the devil for vaccinating your children"

So. I should get on that, huh.

Anyway, if you have something you'd like me to post about, you should let me know. Leave a comment. Visit my facebook  page. Send a smoke signal. Lemme hear from ya!

Loves!

Friday, July 19, 2013

It keeps me up at night...

This is not an easy post. This is what I think about when the lights are out and the fam's asleep and the noise of the day has finally turned off. It's also something I'm not sure I'll ever know the answer to, or if I even want an answer to. Just some ramblings that I thought I'd share...because I can't be the first mom to struggle with this.

If you're new here, I am the proud mamma of a preemie babygirl. Born 10 weeks early due to placental abruption, she flew into this world dramatically and forcefully, and that's just how she likes it. She's now almost 23 months old (about 20 months adjusted age), and learning new things every day.

But that's just it. She's not learning the same things that other kiddos are learning. Some of that is most likely my fault- I don't do a lot of learning based play with her. We don't go over our colors, our letters, our animals. We throw tennis balls, we dance wildly to Pandora, or just the music in our heads. We tickle fight. We giggle. We cook dinner together. We clean together. She wears all of my underwear around her neck. And anything with handles is her new purse that she prances around with. We have naked time, and she attempts to pee in her potty (sometimes just holding onto it as she sprays down the floor). We read the books she picks out. Usually more than once. She tries to dress herself, which a lot of times ends up looking like this:
we take walks. we hang out with our buddies. we have long conversations- not quite sure how but girlfriend connects with me without having to know the words. I just know what she's thinking, feeling, wanting. And she gets what I'm saying to her.

She's finally picking up on more words, but she's not really using them that much. She repeats words when we ask her to, and she follows directions fabulously. But outside of the CONSTANT babbling and play acting, she feels zero need to say real words to us. (Of course, minus the HI DA!!! that the hubbs gets every time he walks in the door).

And therein lies the rub. The one that gets me all insomnia like. The voice in my head that has been telling me since college when I worked at a summer camp for special needs children and adults, that it was practice for my life. The quite insistence in my gut that I not get her vaccinated, because I know that she'll be changed forever by it. The something in my heart telling me that babygirl is just gonna be a bit different than her buddies.

Kiddos far younger than her have mastered some of these speaking skills that she doesn't have/ use yet. And I know that every kid works at their own pace. I really do. But that doesn't stop the voice.

And I know that she is doing things now that most kiddos her age don't do. Life skill type things. She knows how to bathe herself. She buckles herself into everything completely unassisted. She stops and really THINKS about everything- the mechanics of it. She does NOT stop to think about climbing anything and everything- but as far as how things work, she's a mini hubbs- the little engineer.  She knows how to dress herself, shoes on correct feet and all. Independent doesn't begin to describe it. Mamma gets shooed away a lot.

And yet. I'm not enrolling her in every let's-learn-our-colors classes like I thought I would. I'm not taking her to speech therapists. Please, she hasn't even seen her pediatrician since January. Part of it is the different studies I'm reading on all the different methods of parenting around the world. The one that caught my eye? Primary School starts at age 7 in Finland. And they "learn how to learn". It's a fascinating article, and one I hold close to heart, since that seems to be the strategy I'm going with currently.

I thought it might just be laziness on my part (and maybe it partly is), but the time I have to spend with her I really don't want to be forcing her to learn things that I feel will come naturally at some point. Having said that, I now of course am a little worried that words aren't coming quite as naturally as I thought they would. And since we've done heavy attachment parenting, I thought maybe she's not talking because all of her needs are being met so she doesn't need to. Should I ignore her so she'll ask me for things?

It's scary, this whole parenting thing. Like, I haven't said all of this to ANYONE (hubbs and mom included). we can call it internet bravery. Sometimes the scary is less when typed. But sometimes the scary is all I can think about.

So. I read. A lot. And sometimes it's so comforting. To see that other cultures don't put SO MUCH into milestones. And their kids turn out just as smart. And sometimes I feel like a bad parent who has failed my child. But then I see how happy she is pretty much always and think I must have done something right.

This ball of busy will simply teach me more about God's timing. A lesson I'm not so sure I wanted just now, thank you very much.

My teenie preemie will someday learn to talk. I'm almost sure of it. When she's good and ready (stubborn little thing from day 1). And she might be a little behind her buddies. But she might catch up. And if she doesn't? Well, we'll tackle that when the time comes. I'm learning to take it in stride. I'm learning to deal with that voice. I'm sleeping a little better, sometimes.

Loves!

How AGT helps restore my faith in humanity

Yup. I'm a sucker for a good story. I also apparently enjoy weeping at a weekly scheduled time. And America's Got Talent is that fix for me.

Would you like to know exactly what prompted this post?

In the midst of reality shows highlighting stage moms who yell at, berate, embarrass, and harass their children into doing better, looking better, being better, I saw something that made me weep with joy.

Perhaps you remember last year's large dance group- they specialized in Latin dances, and the age ranges were crazy, like 5 to 18. Their instructors were a husband and wife team who glowed with pride every time their group performed.

This year, their very young son and daughter competed, separately, with a dance partner. They are amazeballs. The precision and understanding of those dances blew. my. mind. And then I started thinking. Oh man, these kids don't get to be kids. That's not cool. Is it really worth it for them to lose out on their childhood just to act like little adults and hope to become famous?  I really started to get angry at parents who forced their kids to grow up too quickly.

And then Vegas happened. And the little girl and her partner fell. And they got right back up, on the beat!, and continued on as if nothing happened. But after the performance she crumpled. And I was cringing at what we would see.

And then her parents. Her fabulous parents. He said- everyone falls. every dancer falls. I fall. It's how you get back up that makes the difference. And you got up like a professional. And then the hugs and I'm so prouds and giggles ensued, and I wept. Because I want that for every kid. It is an amazing testament to the power of positive coaching. You don't need to be an "Abby" (Dance Moms) or a pageant/ stage mom to "get" your kids to be the best.

And I'm taking it all in, because this mamma? This mamma used to be a coach. And no matter how much love I heaped on my girls....I know I heaped on a lot of yelling too. Some moments I'm super not proud of. I was young (22 when I started), but I can't blame it all on that. But I'm learning. And I'm glad I got schooled in a great way from watching reality tv.

So my babygirl can be involved with whatever she wants (right now it's looking like gymnastics or learning to be a monkey). And I'm learning to be the best coach I can be for her.

And trying to contain my crazy.

Loves!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What's on the Menu?? How Should I know!

I don't really feel ranty (unless, of course, you'd like to talk about the absolute LACK of driving ability I continue to find in this state), so I figured I'd just try to be helpful instead. We'll just see how that goes....

Anywho, I love to cook. LOOOOOOOOVE it. I will admit, it's definitely more difficult with a toddler underfoot, but still. What I have found, though, is that I'm not always that creative (thanks Pinterest, for pointing that out). I have my standard faves, but I do love variety, and since eating out for us doesn't happen much due to all of my scary reading, then blogging, topics, I have to spice things up. I figured I can't be the only one who has this issue, so I'm addressing it here. Here goes.

First.  I'm not going to bother typing out "organic" in front of every single thing. That's just obnoxious. So just know that every single thing we purchase is organic. And if it's meat/ cheese/ dairy, we try to make sure that it is also all free range and grass-fed. (Cheese is just not that easy. For the most part we stick with that, but it's quite limited, and we find that cheese imported from Europe is trustworthy, since they banned most, if not all of the crap that we put in our cows.)

Second. You need to have a well stocked pantry. For us, that means extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, dried beans, lentils, rice/ risotto, pasta, chia seeds, hemp seeds, nut butters, nuts, flour (unenriched, unbleached white flour, coconut flour, almond flour and quinoa flour), raw local honey, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red and white vinegar, an assortment of spices like red chili pepper flake, turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel, tubes of tomato paste, jars of crushed tomatoes, quinoa, tortilla chips, cornmeal, buckwheat, potatoes. I've been able to make every kind of food under the sun with just these items, and they don't go bad.  There *may* also always be chocolate chips and brown sugar in there. You know. In case people drop by and I have to make cookies.

Third. Well stocked fridge. We have a fabulous organic produce delivery service that gives us a box of seasonal, local produce every Monday. We've tried so many different veggies and fruits that we never would have because of this and I get so excited every week to see what I can make with that week's goodies. And, they allow you to go in and customize your order (of course, you can still only get seasonal produce), so if I'm not loving one thing, I can get something different. We also visit our local butcher (Bill the Butcher- FABULOUS!) to stock up on meat, usually a month's worth. Typically a whole chicken, some chicken breasts, ground pork, ground beef, bacon and sometimes sausage. We'll make seperate trips if we're wanting lamb or steak. Milk and butter are always on hand. maple syrup. I make yogurt every week so that's always in there. Eggs. Strauss Family Creamery Chocolate Ice Cream- we are officially addicted. And we get bags of organic frozen berries from costco that are always in the freezer. Cheese- always fresh mozzerella, cheddar/ dubliner, goat/ feta, parmesan, and usually one fancy pants cheese (brie is always a hit and gruyere is fabulous too). Siracha (that was actually my brother's doing, but I've used it so many times and it's always a good staple to have). The roasted garlic that I make about once every 3 months (SOOOOO much tastier than garlic powder- recipe is here. And of course, feta stuffed olives, because babygirl and I could eat our way out of a barrel of those.

And there you have it. You can basically find all of those things in my house at any time. And I swear, 99% of the meals that I make and post about on my Dear Dinner Diary page are made up of those ingredients.

You'll notice I don't list any condiments on there (minus dijon mustard- because apparently someone figured out how to make it using only mustard. amazing!) I started really studying the labels of everything, even the organic stuff, and I still was not loving what I saw. So we stopped buying them, and now I just make my own condiments. Sounds like a pain, but it is really easier than I thought, you can cater it to your taste, it's cheaper, and it's a million times yummier.

I lost track, but next number important step is to set up your kitchen the way it works best for you. Sounds simple enough, but I didn't really ever embrace that until fairly recently and HOLY CRAP what a difference! I would say the MOST important change I made was to ditch the grinders for salt and pepper. I got ceramic jars to hold loose sea salt and pepper in (you can really use anything that looks good on your counter and has a lid).


 My sea salt and pepper holders are in blue with a cork lid. Just watch a cooking show. Any one. And you'll notice that they all do pinches, or handfuls, of s&p. No grinders anywhere to be found. With good reason. I cannot explain to you how much easier my life got once I started using this trick. And all that other goodness on the counter? My must have tools. You NEED a zester in your life. It grates cheeses, lemon and orange peels, spices like cinnamon stick and nutmeg. Again, huge huge timesaver. and TONGS. They are magical. I will never ever ever flip meat or anything else over with anything else. Tongs are your friend. And of course, an easy pour container for your oil. Points if it's fancy pants.

Because my kitchen is my haven, I MUST HAVE COFFEE. And since the hubbs spent, arguably, too much time in Europe, an espresso machine was a need. So we invested in a Nespresso- without a doubt the best purchase of our marriage. Makes the perfect cappuccinos and lattes. And of course, I have my fave cookbooks out on the counter for easy access.

I will admit, I have an obscene amount of counter space. That was a must have when purchasing a house. But I used to waste it. I hid that kitchen aid mixer in my pantry for 5 years. In those years, I maybe used it a dozen times. Enter whole food movement. Mixer on counter, and I use it at least once a week. So when my in-laws bought me a Kitchen Aid Food Processor (yes, I am aware that I am beyond spoiled), that went right on the counter and is used almost daily (which is why there are no parts on the base- they're in the dishwasher).  And we decided to not use microwaves after reading a lot about them. First off, because they make food taste horrible. Admit it. And second, because who wants to radiate their food? So. We sold ours and bought a hood. Now my smoke alarm doesn't go off every. single. day. and there aren't lingering food stanks. It's bomb.

Now that your kitchen makes sense for you, you'll find it a lot more relaxing to be in there. I know it sounds stupid, but I promise you, it's truth. And you know, especially if you have kiddos running around, every little second of time that you can save is huge.

I roast a whole chicken (2-3 pounder) about once a week. It's nice to have chicken on hand for lunches since we don't do lunchmeats,  and I make stock, which is infinitely better than storebought stock, WAY cheaper, SO SO good for you, and I use in a ton of stuff I cook. I just freeze it in mason jars.

Now onto the meals!

I feel like it's kinda cheating. I feel like every day when I post my dinners, I'm taking credit for something that is not truly my own. But here's how it works.

While drinking our breakfast smoothies, babygirl fully absorbed in SuperWhy, I decide what protein we're going to eat for dinner. Either that or I see what fun produce we have and what I'd like to base my meal on. Then I go to www.thechew.com. I type in the protein or produce, and I scroll through the recipes. I read through a few until I find the one that sounds the yummiest. The Chew is a fairly new show, so sometimes it's a bit limited. If I don't find something there, I go to www.foodnetwork.com and type it in. Then scroll through. Sometimes, I combine a few different recipes of things that sound good. I typically have to tweek it for what we have in the house, or for our taste (we don't eat seafood, so I'll use seafood recipes and make chicken or pork). That's it. I take out the meat to defrost and about an hour before hubbs gets home I start cooking whatever it is I've decided on.

TOTALLY CHEATING. I don't rack my brain for new, creative recipes. I get inspired at times, but really, I'm just plagiarizing other chefs. Is that a thing? 

It typically takes me anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to put dinner together...longer if I decide to make bread, tortillas, etc. Even making the dressings, condiments and other accouterments only takes a few minutes and a good whisk.

Then I take all sorts of pretty pictures, while the hubbs explains to babygirl that mama is nuts, and I brag on Pinterest. Because I suck at arts and crafts, but dammit I can cook so there!

Loves!