Sep 29, 2010


I. am. so. tired.  Way too tired to be writing this. 

Getting up at 5:15 is killing me.  Maybe it's morning duty that's really killing me.  Either way, I am more tired today than I have been in quite a while.  I don't stay up super late, but getting up so early is making me crash around 3, which is very bad because I still have a lot to do after 3.  For example, today, I still have to finishing grading a set of essays, pick up Cara and play with her, cook dinner, cook and freeze a casserole for next week, bake cookies, fold laundry, and sew the sleeves on dress #3.  Notice that I didn't list clean up after dinner, bathe Cara, or put her to bed.  I love my husband.

This is a unique kind of tired.  It's a mental tired, a loss of conscious thought, a desire to stare at the wall, a lack of meaningful language.  I would like a nap, but it's not really a sleepy tired.  This does not lead to any kind of decent dinner conversation, and I feel a little bad about that.

What do I do about tired?  How do I fix it?  Do I make any sense at all?

Sep 27, 2010

my new obsession

When I was a younger girl, I spent a lot of time with my mom in the sewing/laundry room.  She's had her sewing machine since she was 16, so all of that practice has made her pretty decent.  Pretty decent as in she made my sister's bridesmaid dress for my wedding, made pageant dresses and graduation dresses and Easter dresses and Christmas dresses and party dresses, made pretty much every dress I owned until I moved out.  When my students ask what I was like in high school, I always say (as seriously as I can) that I didn't have any store-bought clothes until I bought them myself.  There is a grain of truth to that statement.

I have lots fond memories of helping my mom when she was sewing.  She showed me how to line up pattern pieces and cut out the fabric.  I learned how to operate her sewing machine, how to sew a (mostly) straight line, how to hem, how to take out a seam.  I ironed a lot of seam allowances open; if you don't already know, there is a lot of ironing in sewing.  But more than just working or helping, we were hanging out.  That time spent seemed routine and ordinary to me growing up, but now, I am older, slightly wiser, more experienced, and I appreciate how precious those moments really are.

My mom tried to teach me to sew with doll clothes.  I had one of those American girl dolls, and my doll and I had several matching dresses.  I never really learned enough to be independent in making those dresses, but not for my mama's lack of effort.  She tried, but I didn't.  How amazing that she was willing to put in the extra time and effort so that my doll and I could have matching Easter dresses.  Especially since my sister and I both had dolls and we both needed to match. 

At the end of the summer, I pulled my great grandmother Burton's sewing machine out of my mom's garage and decided it was time to put it to use.  I delivered it to Sears, and they sent it to Chattanooga, where the technician told me that the stitch control was irreparably broken.  The part is not made anymore.  I guess the stitch control, whatever that is, isn't very important because the sewing machine works beautifully.  Even more beautiful is that everything came back to me.  The button jars, the thread, the pin cushions, the seam rippers.  And I sewed my first dress:

And then my second:

And now I can't stop.

Sep 23, 2010

too cute

This morning, I put Cara's hair into pigtails.  Real ones that held all of her hair.  Her hair parts on the side, so I french braided one side into a pigtail to hold all those pieces that usually fall out and cover her eyes.  Man, she was looking seriously cute.  Apparently, I wasn't the only one who thought so.

She marched into her school this morning without so much as a glance back at her poor, sad mommy who was BEGGING for a good bye kiss.  "Carabear, please give mommy a kiss?  Cara, Cara, please, please."  I got nothing.  However, a little boy walked over to her, grabbed her head, and planted a big one on her cheek.  Then, he grinned at me.

The whole scene was pretty precious, but it only reaffirms my resolve to keep my girl locked in the house until she's 25.

Sep 19, 2010

a cold weather soup (we're pretending it's fall)

In an effort to keep our eating local and in season, we tried out kale this past week.  It was pretty decent.  Kale is like a tree.  I thought it looked sort of like big, tough curly parsley, but I put aside my initial prejudice.

We started with white bean and kale salad earlier this week, which turned out much better than I expected.  We had a lot leftover though, and I hated to see it go to waste, so I invented a soup.

leftover white bean and kale salad
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup to 1 cup of small pasta (we used conchiglie)
1/2 lb. hot Italian sausage

Bring the broth to a boil.  Add pasta.  Slice sausage (remove casing if you want) and brown over medium heat.  Add sausage and leftover white bean and kale salad to pasta.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Top with a little grated Parmesan.

I loved this soup for three reasons:
1) it screamed "comfort food" to me
2) it allowed me to hide my leftovers in a new meal
3) it came together REALLY fast.

Sep 16, 2010

my wish for my daughter

A student I taught last semester came into my room during lunch today and asked if he could sit and read.

It's too loud out there, he said. 

Sure, I said.  I didn't think much about it at all.  He's a good kid, funny, charming, genuinely nice.  Are you studying for something, I asked.  Really, I was only trying to make small talk.  I'm bad at that.

I'm reading this, he said and held up his Bible. 

And so he sat for 25 minutes, reading and writing in a small notebook, enjoying the quiet.

There are times when I despair for the direction of the world, especially now that I have my own daughter.  How do we keep her safe, guard her heart, protect her innocence, build her confidence, inspire her creativity, encourage her intellect?  I see a lot of teenagers and hear a lot of stories, from kids and from adults, and it hurts my heart to know how much they have been through in such a brief existence as a result of their own myopic choices or from an adult's neglect.  It's heartbreaking to ask a mom about her son's attendance at open house and watch her eyes fill with tears, breaking the mask.  Life is tough, and being a parent is tougher.  Because of the things we can't control.

But then there are moments that renew and humble me.  Even in the world of public high school, there are those who hold fast to truth and seek wisdom.  In a quiet classroom.

Sep 15, 2010

baby style

I love getting Cara dressed.  It is one of the highlights of my day.  Of course, it helps that she is beyond adorable all on her own.

My philosophy on baby/toddler clothes is that everyday outfits should be cheap, washable, and functional.   As much as I am a sucker for a smocked bishop dress, I also understand that the teachers at daycare would not appreciate that dress if I sent Cara to school in it.  I was nervous the first day she wore her squeaky shoes.  I love them, but I was sort of afraid her teachers would be annoyed by the squeak, squeak, squeak all over the room.  Fortunately, they thought the shoes were as cute as I did.   

Cara's fall wardrobe arrived tonight, so I took the chance to play baby stylist. (Seriously, this is what I do after she goes to bed.  I wash baby clothes and put together baby outfits.  I have no excuses.)  There are the basic cuties like dresses and leggings or a pair of cords with a plaid top.

But then there's the hoodie.  Everyone loves a good hoodie.  Especially with skinny jeans (in a 2T, so this won't happen!).

I love these 2-in-1 looking t-shirts.  Thank you, Bitsy, for the vinegar in the wash tip to keep the colors from bleeding.

Love the bows on the pockets.

It's hard to resist a toddler in a mini.  Leggings keep it all in perspective.  (Side note: she will not be wearing any skirts remotely similar when she's 15.)

Leggings and a hoodie?  Could this be any more comfy?

And, just because Halloween is coming.

So true.

Sep 14, 2010

another awesome lunch

PJ's Chicken Salad (recipe developed based on his preferences and suggestions)

Chicken (mine is from a leftover roasted [free range, happy] chicken earlier in the week)
Grapes, halved (I used red, organic)
Apples (local, green)
Celery, finely chopped (organic)
Some type of nut, chopped (I used pecans)
Plain organic yogurt (the amount depends on how creamy you like your chicken salad)
Lemon juice (mine was an organic meyer lemon)
Parsley (I like curly, but use whatever you prefer)

1.  Chop the apple and squeeze a little lemon juice over to prevent browning.
2.  Add chicken, grapes, celery, chopped nuts, parsley, and yogurt.  Stir well.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

I pack the chicken salad in a separate container and pile my bread high for a delicious sandwich for lunch.

Sep 12, 2010

a reformed Sake monster

It's been about two months since I made my family start eating a little better, so I figured it was a good time to stop and evaluate.  Is this extra time and money we are putting into our food worth it?  Survey says:  YES.

One reason that the local/organic/minimally processed diet (read "food lifestyle" not "Weight Watchers") is awesome is that PJ and I have both lost weight without trying at all.  He's lost 10 pounds, and I've lost 4 or 5.  Neither of us were particularly motivated to lose weight, but honestly, I haven't seen 120 since my days of college cheerleading, and it feels great.  Goodbye, baby bulge!  I win!

Which leads me to the second reason that this diet is awesome:  we don't overeat as often.  I am hungry before a meal and satisfied but not stuffed after, and I think I had forgotten what that felt like.  I believe without a doubt that processed food is addictive.  McDonald's food doesn't really taste that good, but we keep coming back for more.  And nobody eats just one or two french fries.  I don't exactly have scientific evidence to back up my opinion, but I know how I have felt lately.  Humans have a strong predilection for salt, fat, and sugar, but I think that your body responds differently to processed salt, fat, and sugar than it does to naturally occurring salt, fat, and sugar.  Case in point: a week or two ago, PJ and I got Japanese takeout from Sake (if you live in RH, you know).  Before I even knew what was going on, I had cleaned my plate.  I was an out of control Sake Monster.  Of course, I felt like crap, physically.  I never do that with the food I cook.  (Go ahead, make the joke about how my food must not be that good...)  I think the issue is not so much the taste of the food, although my food is just as delicious as Sake's; the problem is the MSG and the white sauce.  The processed stuff triggers something in your brain that messes with your self-control and hunger monitor, as if you are addicted.  Maybe you don't believe me, but please go try to eat only three potato chips.

PJ and I also agree that we feel better after lunch than we used to.  I am less tired after lunch, which means that I am actually productive during 4th block planning sometimes.  No more food coma or carbohydrate crash.  I would actually say that in general, I feel better.  It might be my imagination, but I think my dark circles under my eyes have diminished a little and my skin looks better.  Peej says that he feels like his body is running a little cleaner.  I also feel good knowing that I am taking care of my family.  It's a mental boost as well as a physical boost for me.

I have to admit, though, that it has taken me some time to get used to the extra cooking.  I spend more time hunting for recipes, planning meals, shopping for food, and preparing food, but fortunately, I enjoy doing those things.  I have gotten into the habit lately of spending some of my Saturday cooking ahead for the week and freezing extras when I have more than I need, being a little less wasteful.  I roasted a chicken last Wednesday, and it became chicken salad, parmesan rice with mushrooms and chicken (enough to feed us plus enough to take dinner to another family celebrating a new baby), and homemade chicken stock. 

I also need to confess that we do spend more on groceries now.  Prepare yourself, I am going to admit how much I spend on groceries per week:  $110 to $125.  I know that sounds bad for a family of two adults and a one-year-old, but PJ estimates that we are NOT spending around $75 to $100 per week eating out.  I'm talking about grabbing coffee, snacks, sodas, and other crap at work, picking up fast food on the way home from work, or going out to eat.  It's not that we don't go out to eat at all, but we have definitely cut way down.  Our grocery expenses would drop if we could just get that backyard garden going, but we're still too lazy. 

Sep 10, 2010


To the 11 readers of this blog:  Is it bad...

...that Cara points to the TV when she gets home from school?  I love TV.  I know a lot of people (include the American Academy of Pediatrics) believe that TV is very, very, very bad for children, and I see their point.  There's a lot of crap out there.  But, Cara likes Veggies Tales and Sesame Street DVDs.  So is it really that bad?  Especially when it means that I can cook dinner without a wailing manic clinging to my legs?

...that I spent 90 minutes in line for 4 outfits and a Halloween costume?  In my defense, I was at a children's consignment sale (cheap clothes!), I was with my preggo BFF (baby chat!), and the Halloween costume was a tiger for $15 (true story: this morning, I asked Cara what she was going to be for Halloween.  Her response:  "Roooaaaarrr"). 

...that I exchanged two pairs of pants for me for an entire fall wardrobe for Cara?  Really?  Two pairs of pants = 18 baby items?  I'm talking seven long sleeve t-shirts, one blue corduroy skirt, two pairs of jeans, two sets of pjs, a supercute jacket, two dresses, a pair of cords, and two pairs of leggings?  Maybe I am buying pants that are too expensive.  Or the Old Navy baby sale is just ridiculous.

...that I attended my first high school football game since I ended my coaching career and didn't miss it at all?  Let me clarify:  I miss my girls.  I love them.  Seriously.  I blew them some kisses on my way out.  But, coaching last year as a brand new mommy was REALLY HARD.  I couldn't be anywhere as often as I needed to be, and I couldn't give anything 100% like I wanted to, so life was really frustrating.  I appreciate my time now so much that I can't commit to anything.  Not even a Bible study.  I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I would really like to join a Wednesday night Bible study.  But it's like I just got out of a long term relationship, and I am afraid of commitment.  I may need to just take the plunge on this one.  Of all the people in the world, surely the ones in a Bible study would be understanding if I needed some space one week. 

...that literally half of this list is about shopping?  Um, yes, actually, that is bad.

Sep 8, 2010

food for thought

After reading this post from Lisa Belkin at the New York Times Motherlode blog, I was left with a huge, existential (for me) question:  where is the happy medium between giving everything for the ones you love and "pulling yourself up by the roots" while telling your loved ones to "find a new place to sit?"

Sep 5, 2010

Sep 2, 2010

fashion victim

My baby girl is going to be a model!  My friend Alex makes the most adorable headbands for babies, and she needed models for her website, and her little girl also goes to Cara's school, so it all worked out perfectly!  I can't wait for the photo shoot and to see how her website turns out.  Seriously, these headbands are PRECIOUS!

Alex sent the clothes for the photo shoot home with us yesterday, so we held a special fitting in the living room.  The outfits are totally cute, but Cara is definitely more used to play clothes. 

where's Cara?

not so sure

yay, i'm cute

but i can't walk in these skinny baby jeans

 it is a really cute outfit though

quick change

yay! i'm cute in this one too

c'mon, mom

and, i'm spent
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