An honest (and humorous) look at the ups and downs in the life of a first-time mom

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mental Blogging

I blog a lot...in my head.

I lay awake at night composing funny/witty/meaningful blog posts, all of which evaporate as soon as insomnia finally gives up the good fight and I fall asleep. Apparently my insomnia has read Dylan Thomas and fully believes it should rage, rage against the dying of the light.

During the day, usually as I am in the middle of some sort of involved task (diaper changes, dishes, trying to find the damn binky), blog posts spring fully-formed from my subconscious and I think: Wow, I should really  go type this up. Or at least write it down. Or maybe just write a few key words to remind me later. 

HA! Yeah...not so much.

Obviously parenting doesn't lend itself to prolific blogging. At least not for me. Lucas is not so much of a *solo-play guy*. He loves, needs, demands my attention during the majority of his waking hours. Unless he is playing with Blazer's kibble and water dishes...then he wants to be left alone and will *play* in utter silence. Call me crazy, but there is only so much gross kibble soup that I can clean up on a daily basis. Seriously, folks.

So yeah...blogging has taken a backseat to parenting. Who am I kidding, blogging got left behind at the bar, along with my size 4/6 hips & thighs (sigh), my brain, and my ability to sleep in until whenever the heck I wanted. (To be clear, I still possess the ability to sleep in...it is the 19-mo-old dictator that I live with who has decided that sleeping in soooooo last season and that we must rise with the sun, if not earlier, most mornings.) Blerg.

I'm okay with the whole *not getting to blog as much as I want* thing...most days. But some days, it kills me. I'm a wordy person. I like words...reading them, listening to them, speaking them, writing them...and sometimes I just kind of feel like I am going to explode with all of my unsaid/unwritten words. Pretty, huh?

So I guess this post has no real point/purpose/meaning other than fulfilling this crazy need of mine to take my thoughts and record them down somewhere and send them out into oblivion.

I think I am going to try to start writing down blog post ideas as I come up with them, in the hopes that perhaps I will actually be able to get them put into some sort of coherent form at a later time.

We will see.

Honestly, I am really hoping that I will have a bit more time for blogging once the hubs is done with school for the semester. I am not blaming him in any way for my utter failing at posting regularly, but it is quite difficult to etch out some time for yourself (let alone blogging) when your other half is consumed with homework and studying and projects (and this is after he comes home from working 8 hours). Seriously you guys, my hubs is a rock star and I am beyond proud of him for doing so well in school. And I know the fact that I keep everything humming behind the scenes helps him to be able to focus on school, which is as it should be. We are a team and right now, his college education is taking a front seat in our lives. I have no doubt that he would do the same for me if our positions were reversed.

But they aren't. And as proud of him as I am, and as much as I understand how important it is for all of us that he do well in school...I still have my days when I just want to not be *on duty* all day long, even after he gets home from work. I have my days when I just want to sit, in a quiet room, and do nothing (except maybe eat some dark chocolate). Please be clear: I do not, in any way, resent my husband and the fact that he is in school right now. This is the season we are in right now, and it will not last forever.

I am just tired. REALLY tired. I need some *me time* and though the light at the end of the tunnel is brighter and closer than it has been all semester long (one more week to go!!), I am also worn very thin and am basically planning to limp my way through this next week.

So that's pretty much how things are going right now. There are good days (like today) and there are bad days and there are days that are just...days...

I am already making plans on how I shall reclaim my Momma Mojo once the semester is done and I can get out for more quality *me* time. A massage, a chiropractic adjustment, a pedicure, an afternoon in a local coffee shop reading, a dinner out with the hubs, a weekend away with my BSF (best sister friend...she's my best friend and my sister-in-law, but I hate saying the *in-law* part because she feels like my blood and soul sister), a solo trip to the Bay Area for my soon to be sister-in-law's bridal shower (during which I am also hoping to catch up with some of my lovely friends from middle/high school)...

I am really hoping that God is not up there laughing at all of my planning!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

DIY Cloth Diaper Wipe Solution

Happy Tuesday!!

I know, I know...it has been forever and a day since I have blogged. Forgive me. Life has been crazy and fun and busy and stressful and I have just not had the time to blog...or when I have had the time, I have chosen sleep over blogging, which seems, to me, a pretty smart choice.

I don't know about you, but this has been kind of a crazy year so far...Ups, downs, triumphs, failures...frankly, I am ready for some down-time!!

Anyhow, before I majorly digress about the insanity that is my life (which, for the record, I am loving *most* of the time), back to the topic at hand...DIY cloth diaper wipe solution! Yay!! Now why, you might be asking yourself, would I want to make my own cloth diaper wipe solution when I can just go to the store and buy a nice package of pre-moistened diaper wipes? And why, you also might be asking, would I want to use cloth wipes instead of those handy/convenient pre-moistened wipes?

I could go on and on about why WE chose cloth diapers, and then started using washable cloth wipes shortly after...but it comes down to a few pretty big reasons:

  1. Money. Do you have any idea how much we will save by cloth diapering our children instead of using disposable diapers? A lot, people. A lot. 
  2. The Environment. Do you have any idea how many disposable diapers your kid/s will go through, and how much space they will take up in a landfill somewhere? GROSS!
  3. Knowing exactly what touches my little boy's heiny...being 100% sure that I am on top of the products I use makes me feel like I am an awesome mom. 
  4. If we were already cloth diapering, why not use cloth wipes while we're at it? It is not like it is going to increase my laundry load at all!
So that, my friends & readers, is the short version of why we cloth diaper :)

Ok, ok...now for the cloth diaper wipe solution recipe!!!


RECIPE:

2 cups water
2 Tbsp. gentle oils (I use 1 Tbsp. Calendula Oil and 1 Tbsp. Almond Oil...this time around I used Baby Oil)
1 Tbsp. Baby Body Wash
2-3 drops Lavender Oil
2-3 drops Tea Tree Oil



Mix all of the ingredients and split between 2 small spray bottles (I got ours at Sally's Beauty Supply). The spray bottles fit nicely in our diaper bag and I have not had any issues with them in the 17 months we have been using them.

So that pretty much sums things up :) Easy peasy and much cheaper than buying disposable wipes over and over and over again. And the spray smells so lovely! Oh - and it pretty much goes without saying, but none of these ingredients will harm/damage/ruin your cloth diapers. I'm certainly not interested in messing with the absorbency of my dipes! 

I hope you have a great rest of your week!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Jumping Into Unfamiliar Water!

You guys, this is huge...ginormous, in fact.

I am typing this post on my BRAND NEW TABLET!!

Yup, I have finally joined the ranks of those pretending to know how to use some fancy-schmantsy piece of technology. I would probably know what I was doing if I was a 5-year-old, but that was many moons ago and I no longer possess the ability to pick up new things and figure out how they work within 5 minutes. Sigh...I really miss that ability!

So I hope to have this thing figured out a little bit better soon, because I can tell that it is going to make my life easier, as well as allowing me to take a much needed break from my ancient laptop. Seriously guys, my laptop is 10 years old and is just plain mad about still being in use.

I am in desperate need of some quiet time for myself so I can sit down and get a few blog posts out of my head (and camera) and onto the Internet...It has been a busy couple of weeks here and Lucas has been a bit of a fussy-bucket during the day thanks to his top 2 1st-year-molars, which are taking their dang time in fully pushing through. Sigh, the joys of parenthood!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Reflections on Resolutions/Goals

I am normally quite hesitant to make New Year's Resolutions because I think that, for the most part, they set you up for failure. People set these grand, lofty goals for themselves and then inevitably suffer setbacks, and then end up scrapping their best-laid plans for a return to their old, well-worn habits.

Why do so many New Year's resolutions fail? Perhaps it is because so many people think too big from the get-go?

Instead of focusing on the end-goal, why not identify where you want to go and then come up with a plan on how to get there? Instead of looking at the *big picture* of the resolution, why not set sub-goals which are more easily attained? Instead of saying: I want to lose 30 pounds, why not instead say: I want to lose 10 pounds a month until I reach my goal of 30 pounds total?

Some resolutions, like trying to eat healthier, are much better when taken in baby steps. Going cold-turkey from anything (nicotine, sugar, junk-food, alcohol, etc...) is rough on your body. It is doable, but not easy at all. I cannot tell you how many people I have watched try to quit smoking cold-turkey, only to fail when the detoxing starts and the cravings kick in. Same thing for refined sugar, carbs, and junky crap food. You don't have to be a bad-ass cold-turkey quitter...why not wean yourself off your vice of choice? As long as you still achieve your end-goal, does it truly matter how you get there? You do realize that they don't give out medals for this sort of stuff, right?

I think the key is to just be kind to yourself. Obviously you are well-intentioned if you are setting goals or making resolutions, so why set yourself up to fail? Be patient with yourself. Rome wasnt built in a day and neither will be the *new you*. Accept that you may backslide, and don't beat yourself up for it.

Set yourself up to succeed! You never know, this may be the year that your new habits stick and the new you is born!

Oh, my resolutions/goals, you ask?? Fair enough. I have actually decided to make some this year. Here they are...in no particular order of importance:

1. Read more books in 2013 than I did in 2012 (I read 52 books in 2012)
2. Bake more
3. Finally finish learning how to knit (really learn how!)
4. Learn how to crochet
5. Drink more water
6. Take vitamins on a daily basis, not just when I remember or feel like I am getting sick
7. Learn more ASL and teach it to Lucas
8. Move to a house above the snow line (this is kind of a cop-out goal, since our lease is up on our place in Jamestown April 1st and we already know we want out of this crap-hole ASAP)
9. Go back to school in the Fall (entirely dependent on whether we have a 2nd car...it will only work if we do)
And here is the big one...
10. Make another baby no earlier than late summer!

I am sure there are a ton of other things I have forgotten, but these were the first ones that popped into my head, so I am sticking with them.

What are your resolutions/goals for 2013?

Much luck to you in your endeavors!! May 2013 be a bajillion times better than 2012!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Cranberry Chipotle Chicken


I love my crockpot. Seriously. Other than the coffee maker, my crockpot is my most used appliance. In fact,  I have 2. Yup...2 crockpots...because you never know when you will want to make a main dish and a side dish that both call for crockpotting (yes, I use it as a verb now).

Since Lucas was born, I have become a big fan of the quick and easy crockpot recipes. I still occasionally make recipes that involve browning meat before putting it in the crockpot, or recipes that involve cutting up a ton of veggies...but usually on the weekends when Brandon is home to make sure I actually have the solo time needed to prep. (Side note - I have found that prepping veggies the night before does help...if I remember to do it or am not too tired)

One of the things that I love the most about this recipe, other than the fact that it is so super easy to prep, is the fact that it only needs to cook for 6 hours on LOW. (I prefer to cook on LOW rather than HIGH) Only 6 hours!! LOVE that! It gives me more wiggle room in the morning so I don't have to try to get dinner going before I have caffeinated myself (which is, frankly, just dangerous).

So...here we go...This is one of my all-time faves, easily in my Top 10 crockpot meals...

Please note that I honestly have no idea where I originally got this recipe, and I have doctored it up so much that I feel ok with calling it my own, which means that the directions will be in Lisa-speak :) Also, keep in mind that this is my *doubled* version of the recipe...I make a lot to ensure we have leftovers for multiple meals. So, just halve the recipe if you don't want as much :)

CRANBERRY CHIPOTLE CHICKEN (serves 12)

Ingredients:

1 onion, sliced into quarter-moons
4 lbs. thawed chicken, fat trimmed (I like dark meat, so I use thighs. Breasts would work just as well though)
2 14-oz. cans whole-berry cranberry sauce
2 envelopes of Lipton onion soup/dip mix
4 Tbsp. quick-cook tapioca granules
1-1/2 Tbsp. (or more) chipotle chili powder (if desired)
Cooked rice

Directions:

1. Peel onion and cut off the top & bottom. Slice onion in half length-wise, and then in quarters. Slice up the quarters, as thick as you like. (Sometimes I do *half-moons*, sometimes *quarter-moons*. Depends on my mood). Put sliced onions into your crockpot.


2. Arrange thawed chicken pieces on top of the sliced onions. (I always trim the fat off the chicken thighs)

3. In a small bowl, combine the cranberry sauce, onion soup mix, quick-cook tapioca, and chiptle chili powder (if desired). Mix well.

4. Pour cranberry mixture over chicken & onions. Cover; cook on LOW 5 to 6 hours or HIGH 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

5. Stir the yumminess several times during the cooking process.

6. Serve over cooked rice. Enjoy!!!




Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Country Sausage & Bean Soup

Here is another really yummy crock-pot recipe for y'all!

This was so so yummy. I am actually eating the leftovers as I type this up. Mmmm...leftovers...I think one of the reasons I love my crock-pot so much (aside from the whole *minimal effort, maximum yummy-in-my-tummy* thing) is the leftovers.

This recipe is another winner from the Kohl's Cares recipe book we got a few months ago. Once again, I didn't take pictures :( Sorry!!

I am making another crock-pot recipe on Wednesday (tomorrow), my Cranberry Chipotle Chicken, and I promise PROMISE to take pictures!

So...without further ado...

COUNTRY SAUSAGE & BEAN SOUP

Ingredients:

2 cans (about 14 oz. each) chicken broth
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 cup dried black beans, rinsed and sorted
1 cup chopped onion
2 whole bay leaves
1 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
6 oz. reduced-fat country pork sausage
1 cup chopped tomato
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

1. Combine broth, water, beans, onions, bay leaves, sugar, and red pepper in crock-pot slow cooker. Cover; cook on LOW 8 hours or HIGH 4 hours.

2. Coat large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add sausage and cook until beginning to brown, stirring to break up meat.

3. Add sausage and remaining ingredients (except cilantro) to crock-pot slow cooker. Cover; cook on HIGH 15 minutes to blend flavors. To serve, sprinkle with cilantro.

**NOTES**

1. I chopped up an entire (good-sized) onion. I know it was more than 1 cup, but am not sure how much it actually was.
2. I totally used more cayenne pepper. We like things spicy around here!
3. Next time I would use more sausage. Oh - and we didn't use the reduced-fat kind. We live dangerously.
4. I used probably 1 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes.
5. I def. doubled the Worcestershire sauce...YUM!

I hope you like it!!!

Have you tried the tortilla soup yet?? If so, what did you think?



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tortilla Soup

I love soup. And not like normal people love soup. I luuuuurve soup. Soup in the morning, soup for lunch, soup for dinner, soup at brunch! Winter, spring, summer, fall...I refuse to limit myself to only eating soup when the weather takes a turn for the chili (hahahaha...sorry, could not resist)!

Another thing I love? Kohl's Cares. (Ok - I love Kohl's in general, but I shall not digress) Kohl's Cares is this great program through Kohl's where you can buy kids books & paired stuffed animals for $5 apiece (like The Wizard of Oz & a stuffed Toto) and 100% of the proceeds go to charity. Sounds like a win/win deal to me!! They do sell things other than kids books & stuffed animals, which we recently discovered...

A few months ago, we got a crockpot recipe book from Kohl's as part of the Kohl's Cares program. Some of the recipes have been good, others great, and others...well, they will be great by the time I finish tweaking them a bit.

Last night we tried the Tortilla Soup and it was amazing. Not just amazing, but I can't stop eating this even though I am stuffed and feeling vaguely ill amazing. Yeah, that good. And the best part? It was sooooooo easy. Some crockpot recipes want you to do a whole slew of things before you can actually st back and smell your dinner cooking all day long. Those are nice and all, but I am so down for the quick & easy recipes w/minimal effort on my part (especially during the week when I am prepping dinner by myself in the morning while trying to entertain a 14-month-old and keep him from maiming himself).

I wish I had taken pictures...but I didn't so you will have to live with words :)

TORTILLA SOUP

Ingredients:

2 cans (about 14 oz. each) chicken broth
1 can (about 14 oz.) diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 cups chopped cooked chicken (optional)

Directions:

1. Combine broth, tomatoes, carrots, corn, onions, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder in a crockpot/slow-cooker. Cover; cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours.

2. Stir in chicken, if desired. Ladle into bowls.

3. Serving suggestions: Top with shredded Monterey Jack cheese and/or crushed tortilla chips.

**NOTES**

1. Yes, the carrots seem strange...I thought so too. They are good though :)
2. I didn't thaw my frozen corn (gasp!)...I figured it was going into a slow cooker and would be fine. It was.
3. I used a tsp. of garlic powder because more garlic is always better :)
4. I cooked my chicken w/a little of the soup broth and some more chili powder and cumin before adding it.
5. The Monterey Jack cheese and crushed tortilla chips took the soup from delicious to divine!!


I hope you give this super easy recipe a try! It was delicious and has earned a spot in our permanent collection!!

Let me know what you think of the recipe :) Also, feel free to share any delicious crockpot recipes you have up your sleeve! I am always looking for new things to try!!

Have a great day, my friends! {HUGS}

***UPDATE***
I completely forgot to mention that I also added some cooked brown rice to the soup when I added the cooked chicken! I love adding brown rice to soup to thicken it up a bit (I am a fan of THICK soup).