I am not a New Age Mom… and I’m ok with that

To my children: You are not my special snowflake. You are not mommy’s perfect children. I will discipline when you misbehave, and by discipline, I don’t mean trying to figure out the root of why you did what you did. I am not going to psychoanalyze your behavior. Because sometimes you do dumb stuff just to do it, and a time out isn’t going to cut it.. I will discipline you at home if I find out you disrespected your teacher at school (and I will find out). I am not going to kiss your every boo boo. If you pitch a fit in a store, I won’t let everyone suffer hearing you scream. You will be yanked out of the cart and taken outside until you calm down. I will (and have) put you to bed early, because damnit, I don’t want to mommy anymore. I will bake a cake or make brownies, and eat the last piece. I refuse to go broke buying you a birthday gift, and you won’t find me taking out any sort of a loan to make sure your Christmas is “magical.” You won’t see me spending $150 on “Polar Express” tickets during Christmastime either.  I also won’t be buying you toys at the store “just because.” I won’t be right on top of you at the playground. I’ll be sitting in the shade, watvhing you make friends on your own. I won’t talk to your teacher because someone is bothering you at school. I will teach you the best way to stand up for yourself. I will not fight your battles for you. You won’t find me doing you school work for you, although I will guide if need be. I will not take out a second mortgage so you can go to college. I will not buy you a car simply because you can now drive. You can help earn things, too. I will not enroll you in 18 sports so we’re never home. You quit a sport? Perhaps you don’t need that “end of the year trophy” that everyone gets for participating. I will plant you in front of the tv for an hour and nap on the couch. I worked all week and you still wake up at 5:30am on a Saturday. Damnit, I am tired.

But there are some things that we can both agree on. Saturday morning pancakes will always be a tradition. As is helping me bake cookies for “Santa Claus.” Those seasonal crafts we do together will always be our special thing.  We will spend lazy afternoons at the library, rainy afternoons jumping in puddles, and chilly afternoons drinking hot chocolate. I will let you watch old-school cartoons and won’t worry that they’re chasing each other with axes, because I trust you to understand that they are just cartoons.  I will sneak in and adore you while you’re sleeping, and will tuck you back in after a bad dream. We will take spontaneous trips to the zoo, the aquarium, or the playground. I will always be here for you, always believing in you, even if I don’t always agree with your decisions. I will help you realize your dreams, and promise to answer the 56 questions you think up in three minutes.

If we can agree that I am not a new age helicopter parent, but still love you just as much, then I think we’ll get along fine.

Weekend Favorites

Happy Weekend, everyone!  Around here, the trees have finally leafed out, and every morning a yellow dusting of pollen sits on my car.  Today is cloudy and humid, but that isn’t going to keep me inside – there are flowers to plant!  I went a bit overboard last week when I went to buy flowers, so I ran out of containers to put them in.  I guess a shopping trip is in order!

This week was a whirlwind – and I’m not really sure why – I worked, and came home.  But yesterday just as I was leaving work, I was asking myself where the week went (not that I was complaining it was Friday afternoon!)  So this weekend, I told myself that this would be a relaxing weekend.  Starting with dinner… bbq boneless pork ribs in the crock pot.  I think coleslaw on the side.  I haven’t decided if I’m up to make some corn muffins or not.

There’s really no lead in to this, so I’ll just jump right to it!  Here’s my favorite things from this week:

  • Did you see this article on HuffPost?  Apparently Disney has recycled scenes for some of their movies.  This sounds familiar, like I already knew, or perhaps I am just not surprised… but it is kinda cool to see the mash-ups.

Hope you have a wonderfully lazy weekend!

xo,

Amanda

On Reading

So I know that I’m all about quick & easy, so it doesn’t make much sense that I’m writing about a book I just read.  “If you’re scheduling yourself so tight that you have 15 minutes for chores… how do you have time to read?”  Oh friends, but I do.  Somehow.  Between diaper changes, soccer games, and grocery shopping, I seem to have a book stuck under my nose.  I love to read.  If this makes me nerdy, then so be it!  There is nothing better than curling up under a blanket and whiling the hours away with a book.  Ok usually my sleep time is whiled away with a book.  Some days I’m sleep deprived because I stayed up late reading, and the last time I did this it was TOTALLY worth it.

Enter the last book I read, “Circling the Sun,” by Paula McClain.  She also wrote “The Paris Wife” which was amazing in its own right.  (Circling the Sun was an advanced copy provided via Net Galley)

Seriously.  You guys.  This book. One of *the* best I’ve read in a while. Paula’s writing is so vivid and poignant.  Her characters are people you can connect with, understand, and come to love.  Which is humorous because the main character, Beryl, annoyed me from page one.  She’s single-minded to the point of being selfish.  She seems to connect with people on an almost superficial level, never opening up to anyone – even those who genuinely want to be involved with her.  And throughout this book, she defies what it means to be a woman in the first half of the 20th century.  She was a woman who was well before her time, and it just never seemed to bother her.  “Yeah, I’m wearing slacks.  And?”  “I want to train horses.  I’m a woman.  And?”  She’s so strong-willed.  When life knocks her down, she gets back up and says, “Ok moving on.”  You have to admire that, especially when men everywhere were getting their due and she was constantly pushed to the sidelines because of her gender.  While she was more than able to guard everything about herself, she was continually striving to understand and love everyone around her, while taking on amazing feats that most women of the time wouldn’t dream of.  That, my friends, is Beryl Markham.  Three marriages, horse trainer, and bush pilot.

The dry savannahs, sweeping views, and lush jungles are vividly painted by Paula.   It was enough to have me researching more about Beryl and British East Africa before I was finished with the book.

If there is one book that you could read that would make you lose time, this, my friends, would be it.  Which means, I need another book to read.  Any suggestions?

Catching Up

So… it’s been a while, huh?  Like… an entire year.  Yeah, about that.  I had a baby… got a new job… and I guess life just got in the way of writing!  So now I have a busy 5 year old and a bouncy 7 month old. They’re both beautiful in their own ways, and sometimes I feel that my heart could burst filled with this much love.  My son loves his baby sister, adopting “Peanut” as her nickname.  I adore their sibling relationship, even now, this soon.

Now that I am even busier (how did I ever think I was busy BEFORE?!), I am constantly looking for ways to cut down on time spent doing things.  I’ve recently begun a weekly chore list, (my idea came from here) and it could be because my house is small, but I find that 15 minutes a day spent on the chore of the day really helps keep the house cleaner.  It’ll never be as clean as it was sans children, but for now I just need my inner neat freak to accept the baby gear and legos and embrace the memories that come with it all.

I’ve mentioned it before, but of course I love my slow cooker for dinners.  Usually I plan my meals with 4 or 5 slow cooker meals, and what we don’t eat, I save in the freezer.  I love being able to pull the meals out of the freezer, thaw, and serve.  How easy (and quick!) is that?

Tonight’s dinner, though not a slow cooker dinner, is a super easy and quick meal, via The Pioneer Woman (seriously, is there ANYTHING she makes that isn’t delicious?). Tonight’s dinner is Red Pepper Pasta.  I hope this makes your weekly rotation – it’s a favorite in my house!!

Happy (and Quick!) Cooking!

xo,

Amanda

To all the Moms out there….

Happy Mother’s Day, to all the moms out there.  Mothering is probably the hardest, yet most rewarding thing I’ve done with my life.  Getting into mothering didn’t come easy (and I am ALWAYS looking for easy!).  I have to work at it everyday.  Hone my skills, be better the next day.  I worry, I have regrets, I hope, and yes, I pray.  As in my very first post – there are always second guesses.  I think mothering is something that gets better when you tune into your instinct and slow down.  I forget that sometimes – to slow down and be in the moment.  I often overlook the big things and focus on the little things – and stress myself out in the process.  How much better would I (could I) be if I just learned to slow down and trust myself?  After all, instinct is what has gotten me this far!  So for this Mother’s Day, and every Mother’s Day, I’m celebrating not only my own mother, and the other great mothers I know, but also I’d like to celebrate myself and the great things I’ve accomplished since becoming a mother.  I only have my son to thank for that.  Celebrate yourselves today, mothers!  You deserve it.  Happy Mother’s Day!

XO,

Amanda

The Family Tree gets another branch!

It’s been a while since I last posted – I’m still around, I’ve just been busy!  We had gorgeous weather this past weekend, and an impromptu get together with my close friend and her girls reminded me that I still had things to tell the world!  Actually, shout out to my friend for asking about my blog and encouraging me.

So it’s been pretty eventful around here – my husband and I found out we’re expecting our 2nd child in October. It was a surprise, to say the least, but we are absolutely thrilled. Since money doesn’t grow on trees (seriously, that’s the truth!), I have a feeling we’re going to be getting creative with the nursery, especially since he/she will be sharing the space with my son.  Getting my creative juices flowing and going Pinterest crazy!  I hope you keep reading to see how it all comes together.  I’m super excited to share the journey!  I’ll leave you with some pictures of my inspiration – I can’t wait for garage sale season (I honestly never thought I’d be saying that!)

 

Not sure what I'm having yet, but I love the cohesive look of this room - especially the color of the walls!

Not sure what I’m having yet, but I love the cohesive look of this room – especially the color of the walls!

View this room here: 6th Street Design

This one is all over Pinterest.  What a great idea to do with any name!

This one is all over Pinterest. What a great idea to do with any name!

I love the matching design of the beds.  We just got our son a new bed, but this looks just wonderful!

I love the matching design of the beds. We just got our son a new bed, but this looks just wonderful!

 Via: Holly Mathis Interiors

 

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Snow Day, Slow Day, Soup Day!

My son’s daycare was closed yesterday.  My husband had stayed home with him the day before, and they regaled me in tales of Chutes and Ladders (won twice, by daddy!), pb&j sandwiches, and lots and lots of hugs and laughter.  So obviously, I had to act in kind.  We broke eggs for omelettes, fried up some chicken sausage, and toasted some bread and slathered it with butter.  For the first morning in a while, it wasn’t rushed.  No cold cereal and cold mugs of coffee.  He wasn’t bundled up for a chilly car ride, no frustrations over lost mittens and un-cooperative boots.  We sat down to a hot breakfast -he with his cup of milk, me with a hot cup of coffee – and chatted.  Four-year-old led conversations are often accompanied by silly faces and adorable giggles, and meander through his days, his toys, and of course, food. Around lunchtime, I just couldn’t bring myself to put together a plain old pb&j for this special little guy.  Above all things, he loves broccoli. So, out came the pots and pans, and my son found the perfect hiding spot (in the cabinets!) while I put together a quick soup.IMAG1462_1

Don’t worry – this is a one-pot soup, but you can’t fit a four-year-old in the same cabinet with all of your Farberware! With temperatures in the single digits and the wind chill in the double digits, my go-to is soup.  It started with a craving for Panera’s Broccoli Cheese Soup, but an aversion to bundling up and trudging through the snow to get it.  As is my belief, though – food should be delicious and effortless.  Only using what I had on hand, I put together a quick, but ultimately satisfying soup.  Top it with cheese and you’ll be warm in no time!  I used frozen broccoli & matchstick carrots – it was what I had on hand, and I didn’t want to be chopping and chopping and chopping.  Four-year-old hunger pangs are no joke!    If you have fresh broccoli and whole carrots, they’ll work just fine, as long as the carrots are finely chopped.

30-minute White Cheddar & Broccoli Soup

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

3 cups chicken broth

3 cups milk (alternatively, 2 cups of milk and 1 cup of half and half would work, too!)

1/2 tbsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp thyme

1/4 cup matchstick carrots, or finely chopped carrots

1 16oz bag frozen broccoli florets

8 oz white cheddar cheese + more for serving, shredded

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat.  Add the chopped onions & garlic and cook until translucent, about 4-5 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour and stir, until no longer brown. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth and milk/ half and half. Add in the salt, pepper, and thyme.  Bring to a boil, stirring, and then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Add in broccoli and carrots and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the broccoli and carrots have softened.  Sprinkle in the cheese, and simmer for another 10. Garnish with extra cheese and serve.

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Baby, it’s cold outside

So around here, it’s been about a bazillion degrees below zero. It started with last week’s storm, and since then it’s just been unbearably cold.  Now I live in Ohio, so winters are usually unpleasant, but this one seems especially tough.  Anyway, we got out of work early that Friday because of the weather, and when I got home my husband suggested we order a pizza.  But not only would they not deliver, driving ourselves to pick up a pizza was going to be treacherous and a pizza, in my book, is just not worth it.  So I looked in my pantry to see what I had to make for dinner.  It was cold, and snowy, and one of those nights you NEED a hot casserole to warm up your bones.  And while chili always warms me up, we had just finished the leftovers and I wanted something different.  Then I remembered something my mom made when we spent all day outside in the snow, wrapped up in scarves and hats and those mittens that had the long strings that attached them together.  Anyone else have those?  Sometimes I think I still need them.  Anyway,we would come in with snow caked in our boots and our cheeks as rosy as could be, and she always had tuna casserole waiting for us.  Bubbling and cheesy, right out of the oven.  I changed mine to chicken noodle casserole because my husband is allergic to seafood (super tragic, I know!)  If your weather is cold, snowy, or you’re looking for a great casserole – this is it.  I try to double the batch and freeze one casserole for later.  Nothing beats a quick-prep meal!  What I love absolutely most about this meal is that it is not fancy, but still is a classic dish.  The ingredients are easy and usually what everyone already has in their stock.   I try to use the same pot all the way through so that I have two dishes to clean.

Chicken Noodle Casserole

2 large or 3 small boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed

1 16 oz bag frozen peas

1 12 oz bag egg noodles

1 medium onion, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic

2 cups milk

2 cups chicken broth

8 oz cheese (I used Vermont White Cheddar)

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 sleeves Ritz crackers, crushed

Cook noodles until al dente, about 2-3 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  In the same dutch oven or heavy pot, heat up 1 tablespoon of butter and add celery, onions, and garlic and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Set aside.  In the same dutch oven or heavy pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and whisk in flour, forming a roux.  Slowly stir in milk, chicken broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil, constantly stirring.  Once at a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and let thicken.  This usually takes about 4-5 minutes.  Whisk in shredded cheese, forming a cheese sauce.  Combine chicken, noodles, peas, and onions into the cheese sauce.  Pour into a 9×13 baking dish and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, mix the Ritz with 2 tablespoons of melted butter.  Remove the dish from the oven, sprinkle the Ritz on top, and bake for 10 more minutes.  Dig in and enjoy!

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The Weather Outside is Frightful…

Snow happened Friday – one of those storms that was not on the radar, but somehow managed to dump 7″ on us in a matter of 4 hours.  Work closed early – and my normal eight-minute commute (yes, eight minutes!) turned into 20.  Slip-sliding all over the road is sure to frazzle anyone, and where I live, plows are minimal if non-existent.  However, I had more time to spend with the husband and 4-year-old, and getting out of work early on a Friday evening?  I’ll take it!  We ended up putting together a puzzle.  We’re that family.  However, the snow did inspire a meal that I’ll share later this week – stay tuned – it’s another comfort meal that everyone will love!  What did you do this weekend?

Definitely not sledding weather!