Feb 28, 2011

cute overload

It's all fun and games...




until Cara sees the TV...



Feb 26, 2011

new shoes

Cara has suddenly outgrown almost all of her clothes.  I guess that happens every now and then, especially if you are a wild toddler.  I refuse to buy more winter-ish clothing as I suspect spring is following close behind us, but shoes are kind of another story.  I believe in shoes.  Bad shoes can cause a very bad day.  The tired at the end of a long day is exacerbated by sad, tired, painful feet.  So, I am willing to spend some money on good shoes.  Fortunately, PJ is also willing, so we packed up and headed to Stride Rite this afternoon.

You would think that retail stores would want people to buy stuff, but Stride Rite is apparently a different type of store.  There are cute, expensive shoes everywhere, sparkles, light ups, velcros, elastic, but not one pair of these shoes fit my child.  The sales lady (who obviously knew all there is to know about toddler shoes) started off by insulting us.  "Wow, she has some fat feet!"  Really??  There are so many euphemisms for "fat!"  How about "chubby" or "chunky" or "lovable?"  Then, she insulted our parenting skills. "Oh, these shoes are way too small."  Yes, I admit that we are the bad parents who are shoving our poor child's feet into shoes that we suspect are too small.  THAT'S WHY WE'RE HERE. 

Miss Know It All About Shoes measured Cara's foot and told us that she was measuring at a size 6, which is what we thought.  But, she also told us that we would need to buy a size 6.5; otherwise, we'd be back here in a month to buy a bigger size.  Okay, fine.  Cara picked out a pair of shoes, and the sales lady went to the depths of the storeroom to find it.  An hour and a half later, she returned, not with the shoes we asked for, but with the ugliest, tackiest pair of shoes in the entire store in a 6.5 wide.  We put them on Cara, and they looked like clown shoes.  Cara tripped over her toes.  Of course.  Clearly, there was too much room in the front of those tacky, ugly shoes.  PJ mentioned that they looked too big, seemed too big, felt too big, but shoe goddess wouldn't budge.  We asked her to check on a few other pairs, maybe even in a 6, and three hours later, she returned empty handed.  She told us that none of the styles we wanted came in Cara's size and they wouldn't fit anyway because our daughter's foot is too fat for a Mary Jane style shoe.  We asked if she would check on a size 6 in anything, and she pretty much refused. 

Stride Rite, if you happen to read this, I want you know that you have the most ineffective sales people ever.  We walked in ready to drop some serious change on toddler shoes, and she basically refused to let us buy any.  But that's okay.  We went to Dillard's and found these (in a size 6) for less than half the price:

and they are so much cuter!

Feb 22, 2011

pantry cooking

PJ did the grocery shopping this week.  Usually, I figure out what meals I am going to cook during the week and buy the ingredients I'll need.  However, PJ has a different idea about grocery shopping.  He doesn't worry so much about a list and buys what he wants.  He did pretty well; I have several cans of fire-roasted tomatoes in the panty, dried beans, quinoa, pasta, tilapia, chicken breasts, a ribeye, and tons of fresh veggies.  The challenge for me was how to put these ingredients together into a meal.  It became freeing for me because I didn't feel restricted by a recipe; in fact, I made up my own.  Here's what we had for dinner tonight:

Tilapia withWhite Bean Tomato Sauce and Quinoa

(The night before:  put about 1 cup of dried white beans into a crock pot.  Cover with water and soak overnight.  In the morning, add more water to cover the beans, turn on low, and go about your day.)

1.  Start your quinoa.  I used two cups of water to one cup of quinoa.  I pour both into my pot, put a lid on it, and wait for it to boil.  Then I turn the heat down to med-low and let the quinoa absorb the water for 15 to 20 minutes.


2.  While the quinoa is working, add some olive oil to a pan and heat over medium heat.  Finely chop two carrots, one stalk of celery, half an onion, and a few leaves of fresh sage.  Add veggies to the pan; stir, season with salt and pepper, and give those a few minutes.  Add the sage.  Cook for five to seven more minutes, until the veggies are softened.


3.  Add one large can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes.  Stir well and add just a pinch of sugar.  Add several big scoops of white beans from your crock pot to the sauce.  We are pretty big fans of beans around here, so I add a lot.  It thickens the sauce and adds a sort of creaminess.  Turn the heat down to low and let your sauce simmer away.

I'm a messy cook.

4.  Preheat some more olive oil in a pan over med-high heat.  Get two shallow bowls.  In one bowl, add some breadcrumbs (I toasted three end pieces and crumbled them up in my food processor with salt, pepper, oregano, and a little red pepper flake.).  In the other bowl, stir up two eggs. (That's very technical right there.  Stir up your eggs, everyone). 


5.  Coat the tilapia in eggs, then breadcrumbs, and then add to your hot olive oil.  Cook for three to four minutes per side, depending on the size of your fish.  Feed your toddler some whole wheat pasta, peas, and apples because you know she's not even going to look at the food you've been slaving over.


6.  Scoop lots of quinoa into your bowl, add some of the tomato and bean sauce, and then top it off with your fish. 
PJ always likes to add more sauce on top.  He loves sauce of any kind.


PJ's verdict on this dinner was delicious and filling.  Between the white beans and quinoa, you are going to feel nice and full without consuming a Big Mac's worth of calories.  Yay!  I really liked it too, especially because I love tomatoes these days.  Try it, and let me know what you think! :-)



Feb 21, 2011

28

Tomorrow, I officially leave my mid-twenties behind.  Why, hello there, late twenties.  Oh, I didn't notice the early thirties over there around the corner.  No big deal.

When I turned 25, I was not happy about it.  I felt like I was leaving my youth and fun behind, like all that awaited me were wrinkles and gray hairs.  As silly as it sounds, 25 just didn't sound young to me.

But then 26 and 27 crept up, and I decided that I could stay 25 and probably stop time.  The wrinkles and gray hairs could wait until I was done being young.  25+1 and 25+2 were pretty good years, except that time continued to march on.

So here I am, almost 28 (I am most definitely waiting until tomorrow to claim it), but I don't have the same feelings of melancholy and loss that I have felt for the past few years.  I feel a little excited.  There is still so much future out there, and I am thankful that I have a little more wisdom and maturity to throw at it.  I think I can safely say that my frontal lobe is now FULLY developed.

I feel a sense of accomplishment that I didn't feel when I turned 25+1 or 25+2.  I have a thriving toddler, a doting husband (he brought me lunch from Panera today, on his day off; I am way beyond spoiled), a career that I love, and friends and family who know me and accept me that way.  I am the first to admit that nothing is perfect, but when I look around me, I am confident and comfortable in my role. 

So bring on the wrinkles and gray hairs.  I will rock them (or Botox and pluck them).

Feb 17, 2011

confessions of an over-sharer

I am an oversharer.  I put it all out there and sometimes I say too much. 

Whew...glad that confession is out of the way...

I'm a confession wimp because this is so obvious.  You have to be a bit of an oversharer to have a blog.  I mean, here I am, putting all kinds of stuff out on the internet for the whole world to see.  I guess I have assumed from the beginning that I would have a small blog and that not that many people would want to read it.  What's so interesting about me anyway?  *crickets*chirp*chirp*

Actually, I generally consider the oversharing to be a mostly positive quality.  I have nothing to hide really.  I have written about topics on the old blog that would seem pretty personal and not always pretty (like postpartum depresssion, my messy house, my bad taste in music, my sewing attempts and fails, you get the idea), but I don't want to have a blog that is all rainbows and gumdrops because that's not true to life.  There are plenty of funny moments and embarrassing moments and that-is-just-so-sweet moments, but things are not always rosy.  The oversharing is not just limited to the blog though.  I have been known to give away the gory details of labor and delivery (all moms do this though, right?  I will admit that I rather like hearing other birth stories) or to describe my stretch marks in WAY too much detail.  I figure that it's better to be a real person than a perfect person, especially since I would fail miserably at the latter.

There are times when oversharing becomes diarrhea-of-the-mouth.  It's like I can't stop myself from saying a certain something, even though I know I might be misunderstood or that I am giving too much information.  It's like when someone says "Hi, how are you?" and you want to give the real answer, even though you know she doesn't really want to hear it.  I did it today, sort of by accident.  I didn't mean to go into so much detail, but I couldn't stop once I started, and I knew that the person I was talking to had not bargained on getting all that.  What's worse is that I sort of unloaded some things that bring up bitterness, and I hate that bitter feeling.

So I walked away feeling dumb for talking too much and bitter/angry for talking about it.  Ick.  I began to wonder why I said what I said and whether openness is really a good thing.  Maybe I should keep some of this to myself.  After all, it's possible that other people just don't want to be burdened with my baggage.  On the blog, they can just click the back button, but in real life, I guess it would be hard to tell me "shut up, I don't care" or "this is more than I want to know about you." 

Do I need to keep more to myself, become a more private person?  How much are you comfortable sharing?  What do you do when you feel like you said too much?

Feb 13, 2011

my favorite things

Every now and then, I think it's good to stop for a moment and appreciate some of those seemingly insignificant, everyday things that bring a little joy to life simply because they are so awesome.  Here are a few things that have been bringing me a little extra joy lately:

1)  These two blogs

Three Birds

The Mean Girl Diaries

I like both of these blogs because they include actual writing, which, contrary to what you might think, is rare.  Both blog authors have a genuine voice with something to say.  I guess it also helps that they both have toddlers around Cara's age.  Whatev, I still look forward to checking both of these out almost every day.

2) 
toddler art projects

I love that our kitchen is now a toddler art gallery, especially because we have ugly cabinets.  The child has brought home more art projects in the past six months than I thought were possible for a child not even two years old.  Obviously, she is a supergenius.  The evidence is clear.

3)
Alexander Henry fabric

I have been geeking out over this fabric for the past two weeks or so.  It's so cute I can't stand it!  It's in the process of turning into some seriously cute little girl dresses, but it also makes one adorable birthday present too: 



4) 
antique-ish tea sets

I have been on the hunt for an antique cabinet/buffet/hutch for my dining room, and I stumbled upon this demitasse set.  It stole my heart, and for only $24, visions of tea parties in feather boas are now mine.  All six cups and saucers will be on display as soon as I find my cabinet/buffet/hutch.  No real luck on that so far.

5) 
Seventh Generation Lavendar Floral and Mint Dish Liquid

This stuff is on my list because I had to wash a ton of dishes tonight, and it smells so incredibly good.  There are no words.  And I can always find a coupon for it at the Seventh Generation website.  Yay!

6)
Earth Fare Organic Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate deliciousness for free.  Earth Fare sends out coupons for free stuff every week, and this week's coupon was particularly good.  These are creamy and decadent and worth every calorie.

7)  PJ wanted to know if he would make the list, and I told him "of course!"  Especially when he can take pictures like this:

love you, babe.

Feb 7, 2011

valentines?

Really?  Are we already there again?  Yes, Valentine's Day, blah.

It's not that I don't like cards or flowers or chocolate or jewelry.  I like all of those things; in fact, Valentine's day could be every day if I got one of those gifts every morning.  Seriously, I kind of like the idea that Valentine's day, however contrived and ridiculous the holiday may be, is a day to stop and tell the ones you love that you love them in a special way.  I get it.  I like it.  The stressful, blah, eye-rolling part is the Valentines for Cara's class.

I know, I know.  I am a big, fat party pooper.  Last year, when Cara was 7 months old, it didn't even occur to me to get Valentines for her class.  The babies couldn't eat the chocolate, smell the flowers, or wear the jewelry, so I didn't really think Valentines were necessary for the infant class.  Well, I was wrong; all the good mommies get Valentines for their babies' classes.  I ordered some V-day rubber duckies from Oriental Trading Company and called it a (Valentine's) day.  No biggie.  It's not like those babies would remember any of that anway.

However, this year, I am really feeling the pressure.  I keep getting the reminders sent home about the Valentine's day cupcakes and juiceboxes and "we have 10 friends in our class" and "here is a list of all their names."  Eeek!  And I can't just BUY Valentines.  I'm not sure why not, but I am certain that buying Valentines would bring serious emotional consequences crashing down on the children.  Somehow. 

Perhaps I am being too hard on myself, maybe even a little irrational about all of this.  It's just that there is a lot of pressure on mommies to always know the answer and get it right.  Mommies are supposed to have it together enough to send cupcakes to the Valentine's day party, make a special Valentine for each sweet toddler in the class, and find someone to cover their classes so that they can attend the toddler Valentine's day party and make it back in time for department meetings. 

I can pretty much guarantee that two of those things aren't going to happen.  And that's okay.

Feb 5, 2011

the possibilities of a weekend

This is my favorite moment.  9 am on a Saturday morning.  3 cups of coffee in.  No plans. 

It's a huge sigh of relief to think that I have nothing to do today.  I can make my own plans.  There is no school work in my bag; there are no appointments or commitments.  I could refuse to take a shower today if I wanted to.  I can try out a new recipe or sew a new outfit for the babe or (my husband's suggestion) go shoe shopping.  Or all of these.  Or none of these. 

This is my favorite moment.

Feb 1, 2011

common ground

I want to toss out a big "Thanks, Guys!" to all the people who read my last blog post and shared/commiserated with me.  I laughed at all of the stories about what happens when your child melts down in public, and I cannot even express how glad I am that IT'S NOT JUST ME! :-)

Being a mommy is truly the most humbling experience of my life.  Just when you think you have the parenting thing figured out, your child changes the rules.  She'll go from an easy-going, laid-back, happy-all-the-time baby to a sleep-walking banshee on a hunger strike.  (Sleep-walking...yes, sleep-walking.  But that's another post...)  In spite of it all, the sweetness far outweighs the frustration most days. 






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