Mothers’ Day just passed. I didn’t say a whole lot about that.
For many, it was a day of joy and celebration. For some, it was a time of excitement and anticipation. There were those who faced bittersweet days of acknowledging blessings while coping with loss. And still others faced pure sadness and feelings of desparation. There’s simply too much there for me to adequately and appropriately address. Mama-hearts, whether there are babes-in-arm or not, can be tender and I want to respect that.
Still, I did enjoy my day. I guess, in the purest sense of the word, it was this one who made me “mama” for the first time:
And, oh, he’s been a wonder to have in my life.
But it’s the next one, his younger sister by less than a year, who really tested me. It is C. who revealed how strong this mama could (and would) be when faced with terror and impending doom. It is C. who forced my hand. It is C. who, in many ways, brought out the best in me. My labor with her is arguably what best displayed my calm in times of turmoil.
I brought her in to the world as Christmas Eve broke in ’05:
Today, I face her:
I am staggered. Humbled. Utterly amazed.
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
I’ve been foraging! This has been long-time, semi-secret dream of mine. For whatever reason, I’m positively fascinated by the idea of eating weeds and invasives.
This week will include just a couple recipes involving foraged food, but I really do hope to become more knowledgable in that arena. You can find the recipes I’m using and follow my foraging journey on Pinterest, if you’re so inclined.
Here’s the plan for this week:
Breakfast (for the littles before 7:30am Mass)–Frosted Mini-Wheats, Yogurt
Brunch–Migas, Sausages, Mixed Fruit, Corn Bread, Mini Croissants, and an amazing Lemon Cake (<– we went to my sister’s to celebrate Mothers’ Day.)
B–Vanilla Coconut Oatmeal, Milk
D–Shredded Pork, Wilted Garlic Mustard (foraged) w/ Hollandaise Sauce
B–Dandelion (foraged) Corn Bread, Apples, Milk
D–Grilled Turkey & Cheese, Chicken Tortellini Soup
B–Spiced Carrot Bread, Apples, Milk
D–Cheese Pizza, Broccoli (C’s dinner choice for the month.)
B–Cinnamon Almond Oatmeal, Juice
D–Tuna, Rice, Peas, & Cheese Casserole (date night!!!)
B–Blueberry Dandelion (foraged) Honey Smoothies, Toast
D–Taco Cheddar Pizza
B–Eggs, Chicken Apple Sausage, Moo Tubes (G’s breakfast choice for the month!)
So… there you go! We’ve also been enjoying hot dandelion syrup drizzled on ice cream… yum!
What are you most looking forward to eating this week?
There is little that sounds worse to me than spending a rainy Saturday at the mall. Because, seriously, people, everyone in the planet seems to come out, and I believe I may have mentioned how crowded parking lots give me heart palpitations.
Nonetheless, we headed out after our ball game to check out the Microsoft Store and, I have to admit, I was pretty excited to see it. I had had the privilege of chatting with Melinda George, a training and development specialist with Microsoft, about a week prior and I already knew what things I wanted to keep an eye out for.
Continue reading Rainy Day Fun with Microsoft
Hey there! So, I’ve got a bad case of Spring fever and I’m too entranced by sunshine and birdsong to think super clearly. I asked myself, “What on earth do I have to say that’s funny or profound today?” Answer? Nada.
So I decided that I’d just take you along with me as I make our pizza for the night. We’re having Spinach Alfredo (with tomatoes on half.) Sound good? Alrighty, then. Let’s get started.
We’ll start out by making a crust. I used this recipe, because it’s ridiculously easy and I know it by heart. I subbed in a cup of whole wheat flour, which makes it chewy and rustic and lovely.
Here it is:
Looks pretty good, right? And it’s all set for the toppings. No need to pre-bake.
So let’s get to work on those toppings, shall we? First, we’re going to make an alfredo sauce. It’s really easy but, for the love of all that’s good and holy, please promise me you won’t go sticking cream cheese in your alfredo sauce. Listen, I love cream cheese as much as the next gal, but it has NO place in alfredo. ‘k?
Beginning to end, that sauce will take you about twenty minutes, but there’s hardly any active time. You just have to be around to stir it here and there. I folded a load of laundry and supervised some pre-K work while it was going on. It will thicken up a bit as it cools.
As that’s cooling (and possibly separating– just stir it up, no worries,) let’s sautee some spinach. I used what was left in a 9 oz. bag… probably about 7 oz.? I never pull the stems off, because I’m lazy and they don’t bother us. But, if you’re so inclined, get to it. Olive oil, a few cloves of garlic, and medium heat– good to go.
Cook ’til it’s wilted down, but don’t kill it. It doesn’t need to shrink into oblivion.
Now let’s get assembling! On goes the sauce…
Tomatoes, on half…
And the mozz.
Into the fridge for now and I’ll bake that at 425 for 10-12 minutes tonight for our Pizza & a Movie Night. Can’t wait!
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup whole milk (or cream or half & half, if you have it on hand)
- 1 1/4 cups fresh parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 5-9 oz. fresh spinach, depending on preference
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced or smashed
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese**
1. Prepare dough for crust and pat on prepared pizza pan.
2. Heat milk (cream) and butter in sauce pan over medium heat until butter is fully melted. Simmer for six minutes. Remove from heat and stir in salt, pepper, and parmesan. Set aside to cool a bit.
3. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until just barely browning, about 3 minutes. Add spinach in batches and cook down until wilted. Remove from heat.
4. Spread a thin layer of sauce on crust. Scatter cooked spinach over the surface. Add any other desired toppings– I put chopped grape tomatoes on half. Top with mozzarella cheese.
5. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
*This recipe makes more sauce than you need. You can either quarter/halve the recipe or use it for something else; we’re having fettucine alfredo tomorrow night.
**As much as I love cheese, I also love to taste the sauce and toppings on pizza. I really only use 1 1/2 cups of mozz to cover my 16″ pizza.
So, this is how I often find my husband when he gets home from work late:
I keep the kids up to see him, if I can. In jammies, teeth brushed, they’re ready to fall into bed for stories. Daddy reads the stories. It’s one of the things he most looks forward to each day and his disappointment is palpable if he’s just too late to get it done and I’ve already done the reading and tucking in.
Being piled in with his kiddos makes him happy.
What I wish you could also see in this picture is the state of the room around that love-seat.
You can just barely make out the pink polka dot doll bed in the background. It overflowed with baby princess limbs. The bay window seat in the background was littered with legos. The floor was scattered with an array of books that children had excitedly explored after learning I’d been to the library.
It wasn’t anything awful, per se. But it definitely wasn’t tidy.
The thing is– that sort of evening clutter doesn’t really bother me. It’s just the resulting flotsam and jetsam of a day well-lived, really. And I know that it can be gathered and remedied in just a few moments.
It doesn’t bother me. But I see it.
My husband? Doesn’t even seem to see it. When he walks in that door? He only has eyes for me and the children. That’s it.
He says it’s about priorities.
It is unendingly interesting to see what brings people to my site. Most of you come back here pretty regularly and that, right there, is the best. (I love you all more than cheese!)
Also awesome is when someone finds me through a link on another blog or through word of mouth. It is a true delight to “meet” new people.
But, every day, some of my traffic comes straight from search engines. That’s cool, too, in its own way. Occasionally, though, I read through the search terms and think, “Man, did that person actually find their answer here?”
And, so, in honor of some of the wacky things that land people here, today I’m doing a write-up that is basically:
JessieLeigh Answers the Search Box
1. “How big are the balls in the busy ball popper?”
I don’t really know. Maybe 2″ across? Big enough to not be choking hazards, but small enough to fit under any and all furniture, thus making retrieval a real nightmare.
2. “What goes with cheese bread?”
Everything. The end.
3. “How is hyperlexia diagnosed?”
Typically by a neuro-psychologist. There are other professionals who may be knowledgable about it, but the diagnosis will usually come from the neuro-psych.
4. “Can you freeze vodka?”
Well, you can put in the freezer. And that’s a great spot for it, in my opinion. But it won’t freeze. I mean, it will freeze at a cold enough temp, but your home freezer isn’t going to do it.
5. “Should you stomp repeatedly on a spider?”
Yes, yes you should. If it’s inside. If it’s outdoors? I’m a “live and let live” kind of girl, mostly.
6. “Baby is blue call hospital?”
YES. Oh, good heavens, PLEASE tell me you called 911 before you came over to my little site looking for life-saving advice. (Sometimes the search terms cause me great anxiety.)
7. “Can I give a baby an open cup?”
Sure thing! But I recommend you start with water. It takes a little while to learn cause and effect.
8. “I really need more balls. Where can I get them?”
Okay, you made me laugh. More than I should admit. But I know you mean Playskool Ball Popper balls. So just go here while I attempt to control my giggles.
9. “Are porch swings relaxing?”
Um, yeah. How do you even have to ask that? And why are you asking Google? You need to come over and sit on my swing for awhile. We’ll have lemonade and chat.
10. “Can I just shove my own balls in the ball popper?”
Seriously, people. You’re killing me. Oh, and to answer the question– I really don’t recommend it.
Planning family vacations can seem like an overwhelming task. With so very many options out there and so many factors to take into account, sometimes you feel like you need a vacation just from the process of figuring out where you should go and what you should do!
My husband and I are not the sort who enjoy researching, scheduling, and making reservations for nine million things before taking a trip. That simply doesn’t seem calm or fun to us and kind of defeats the purpose of a “relaxing getaway.” Our ideal vacations are pretty much all-inclusive and, once we make the choice to book them, we know we can take a deep breath and simply enjoy.
As parents of three young children (ages eight, seven, and three), there are three main things we look for when choosing a vacation: fun, safety, and value. Family vacations with Norwegian Cruise Line take all of these needs into account and provide the Freestyle Cruising® and exclusive Nickelodeon™ entertainment to keep children happy and engaged throughout the entire trip.
While gazing at the water or dancing under the stars might seem infinitely appealing to my husband and me, the children are frequently seeking, well, more activity. With Norwegian’s youth program, the little ones can learn circus tricks with Cirque du Jour, make works of art, or become pirates and create their own imaginary adventure at sea. Word on the street is that circus clowns and balloon artists may pop up at any moment for spontaneous fun all over the ship!
One of the great beauties of Norwegian’s youth program is that it’s all fun, safe and supervised, so you can do your thing while the kids do theirs. The youth counselors are highly energized and engaging, so the kids will love them! Knowing they are being safely supervised in groups divided by age range helps allow parents to relax and enjoy their time onboard, too.
When cruising with Norwegian, your accommodations, array of dining options, exclusive entertainment with Nickelodeon, and a wide range of family activities are all included in one place and for one price. That’s part of the whole “ease of decision making” that so appeals to my husband and me. Being able to plan a vacation that is both fun and safe feels like a real achievement. Knowing that we’re also getting great bang for our buck makes it even better!
Here’s the really fun part! Please visit Norwegian’s site to find out more about Norwegian’s family vacation experience, and once you have all those lovely visions swimming in your head, come back and let me know in the comments below:
What is your dream vacation for your family?
Winner will receive a grand prize of a voucher for a cruise for a family of four.
Sweepstakes Rules: No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
- Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
- Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
- Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
- For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
Entries from all participating blogs will be pooled for winner selection; only two entries per household. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 5/7/2013-6/2/2013. Be sure to visit Norwegian Cruise Line’s brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!
(I love telling stories. It might be my favorite “style” of writing. It is, without a doubt, the stuff that most of my readers best respond to. This year, I want to tell you some stories about my past– about people who’ve made me who I am today. Some will be happy, some will be sad. Some you will find encouraging, some you will find maddening. But they all have one thing in common. They are all: People Who’ve Made Me Who I Am Today.)
When I was 16, my family spent a week at the shore in Newport, R.I., just like every summer. I was particularly happy that year because my best friend, Mone, had gone with us.
We were nearing the end of our week, and she and I were playing frisbee down in the sand. (Sidenote: I really miss simple things like that. I need to find a way to make that happen again.)
Anyway, while we were playing, I noticed a group sitting around a driftwood bonfire a little ways down the beach. And I immediately knew I wanted to be there.
I told Mone my plan and we– slowly, slowly– inched our way ever closer to where they sat. Finally, a carefully aimed “mis-toss” landed just a few feet from this group of people and I meandered over and made my apology. You know where this story is going– they invited us to join the bonfire.
We sat down with these people. They represented all ages and there were probably 15 or so family and friends at that fire. We talked, laughed, and ate roasted marshmallows with them.
A brown-haired young man took a seat next to me while I stretched my tanned legs in the warmth by the flames. He was well over six feet tall and had that gangly-starting-to-broaden build you often find in the teen set.
“Hi, I’m Danny,” he said, and we started to chat. He was delightful company and seemed positively enthralled with everything I had to say. I told him about how I would be a junior that year and how I was nervous about A. P. History. I told him about how Mone and I had been friends for six years. I told him all sorts of things and, frankly, I adored how he hung on my every word.
Finally, taking a breath, I asked him– “What about you? What grade are you going in to?”
He smiled down at his lap for a second, then looked up. “Well, I’m not sure what you’ll think, but…”
And my heart started to pound. Oh. My. Gosh. I was flirting with a college boy. Maybe even a grad student. How old WAS this guy? I waited for him to finish…
“… I’m going in to eighth grade and I’m only twelve.”
. . . . . . . . . . .
I certainly wasn’t expecting that.
To my credit, I kept chatting with Danny and asked him questions about his interests, and I tried to be very subtle in increasing the physical space between us. I continued to chat and laugh with all his family and we had a really wonderful time at that bonfire.
But let me tell you.
Danny was a good reminder to me that you can never judge a person by how he or she looks. You hear, all the time, about men who get tangled up with young girls and claim, “but she looked 21!” or some such nonsense.
Well, maybe she did. It doesn’t much matter though, if she’s not.
Know who you’re messing with, people. That’s the moral of this story.
(That, and I still find it kind of funny. I wish someone had a picture of my face when he dropped that bombshell… )
Other people who’ve made me who I am:
Mrs. Johnson, Mone, The Guy in Starbucks, Keith, Mr. Dorfman, Jay, Hannah, Reno, Dr. Y., Jessica G., The Reading Sub, Peach, Asif, Mr. McG., Kim, Herman
It has been glorious around here! (My apologies to those of you still looking at snow– surely Spring is right around the corner!)
I compiled the month’s menu plan and did my “big” shopping trip last week. On the plan this month? Quite a few sandwiches, since we have lots of busy weekends on-the-road. I bake a lot of bread, but I still wanted to grab a loaf or two “just in case.”
Imagine my surprise when I turned the corner and found all the buns, english muffins, and bagels marked down to a quarter a bag! Looks like we’ll be eating some bagel sandwiches on our hikes. (<– That’s actually a good thing, since bagels resist sogginess better than bread!)
Here’s the plan for this week:
Breakfast (for the littles before 7:30am Mass)–Cheerios, Applesauce
Brunch–Big Soft Pretzels (I made 8 big pretzels from the recipe for 12) with brown mustard, Apples, Bananas (<– A’s breakfast request for the month)
Snack–Yogurt and popcorn
D–Macaroni & Cheese, Broccoli
B–Vanilla Coconut Oatmeal, Milk
D–Turkey Burgers, Fried Potatoes, Raw Veggies
B–Eggs in Peppers, Toast
D–Chicken Chow Mei Fun (<– my husband LOVES this dish)
B–Cinnamon Granola, Yogurt, Fruit
D–Cheesy Beans & Rice w/ Ranch Dressing (date night!)
B–Cinnamon Almond Oatmeal, Clementines, Milk
D–Homemade Hamburger Helper
B–Strawberry Lime Smoothies, Toast
D–Spinach Alfredo Pizza (1/2 w/ tomatoes)
B– HB Eggs, Corn Bread, Grapes (C’s breakfast choice for the month!)
D– Fettucine Alfredo w/ Turkey & Broccoli (A’s dinner choice for the month!)
You’ll see family members’ choices noted on some menu plans– that’s because I ask each child (and my husband!) to choose one weekend breakfast and one dinner they’d like to see during the month. Last week, I made Eggs Benedict and chicken quesadillas at my hubby’s request. It’s fun for everyone to have input and something to which they can look forward!
What are you most looking forward to eating this week?
The bagger chit-chatted with my youngest. “What’s your name? . . . Oh, that’s beautiful! . . . Do you have any brothers or sisters? . . . One of each, huh? Are they in school? . . . And, so, I bet you go to daycare maybe? Some days?”
At this point, G. looked a little puzzled. I’m not actually sure that she knows the word “daycare”, truth be told. My older kids certainly know what daycare is, but G. might not grasp the concept yet.
I just smiled, “She actually stays with me all day.” And left it at that.
“Oh,” the bagger said. And the cashier piped up, “She’s lucky.”
Nods all around.
I smiled again. “So am I.”
We finished the transaction, talking about other little things, like the fact that all five of us in that small register space had been born within a week of one another. Five Geminis!
When I was done, I started to push the cart away and the young woman who had assisted the bagger followed me.
“Thank you,” she said.
“For knowing that you’re lucky.”
Turns out that she, though she seemed almost impossibly young to 36-year-old me, had a one-year-old baby girl. And she’s doing everything she can, in every way she knows how, to take care of that little one.
I’ve griped before about the phrase, “oh, you’re so LUCKY you get to stay home.” I still don’t really like it. Mostly, I don’t like that it too often comes from women who simply have different priorities or choices from me. Sure, hanging in your jammies and playing “this little piggy” might sound like the charmed life, but too many of these women in my life aren’t as delighted at the idea of having a super-strict budget and never drinking Starbucks.
There are trade-offs, my friends.
But sometimes, it’s a little more clear to me.
And, so, I asked her. “Do you have a picture of your baby girl? Maybe on your phone? I’d love to see her.”
I oohed and ahhed appropriately, then said my goodbyes. And I’ve had a chance to think about it, since.
I am lucky.
But I’m not lucky because I “get” to stay home.
No, I’m lucky because I have that option. I’m lucky because my husband and I are on the same page when it comes to priorities. I’m lucky because I have people in my life who view what I do as something valuable.