Wednesday, August 31, 2011

More on Why.

You want to know why I'm writing.  So do I.  What is it that I have to say?  Why do I sit down each day at my computer and post another entry?  Do all these posts relate?  To each other?  Is there a method to the madness?

I have so many reasons.  Today I was reminded of one more.

Right now, I am in the throws of being a busy working mom.  My kids are very young and it takes all that I have in me to make it through the day without breaking down into a sobbing heap.  My kitchen floor is always sticky.  The chair in the living room is still filled with the items I tossed aside after Inchie made a break for the stairs last month.  Residue from dinners past is pasted to Bean's chair at the table.  The joy of hugging my girls when I pick them up from day care is too quickly replaced by frantic dinner preparations, bedtime rituals and nightly chores to get us ready for the rapidly approaching tomorrow.

Worker me is slightly more put together.  I have a pile of paperwork that needs filing, always just below the last thing I can get to on the list.  My to-do list changes daily, sometimes hourly.  On a good day, I only have one or two items left for the following morning.  Co-workers know I stand by my word and behind my work; they just know it might take 2 hours longer than I estimate.  Emails of lower importance go unanswered for days.  I can make a project sing, but I have a hard time recovering with I stumble.  I worry that I stumble too often.

And all the while I know my kids are growing up.  While I am sentimental about that process and all that I'll miss when they're grown, I see something more, something larger to fear.  As I invest myself in my children and my work and my house and my marriage, I have an unanswered question that resides in the back of my mind.  It sits there and lurks, waiting for quiet vulnerable moments.  Moments like this one.

What about me?

With all the nurturing and producing and planning, I have little time for the care and feeding of me.  I worry that I will turn around one day and be lost.  To far removed from myself to recognize where I am, much less how to get where I want to go.  All my energy long since invested in other people or other people's projects, I won't know what to do with myself.  Adrift in a sea of another's milestones and accomplishments.

Ever since I began making my own decisions I had clear goals.  Move away from home.  Graduate college.  Build a career.  I was in the middle of that one when I met my husband.  With him came more goals.  Become a family.  Buy a house.  Raise babies.

That's where I'm at now.  Oscillating between 'Build a career' and 'Raise babies'.  I figure I'm going to be plugging away at these goals for many more years with a big helping of 'Find balance'.  No where in all that is Find a calling or Nurture my soul or even Achieve happiness.  Somedays I'm not sure who I am.  So I write this blog in the moments when I'm not mom, I'm not project manager and I'm not dear.  I'm just me.  Somewhere in all this is the care and feeding of me.  I hope your enjoy my journey.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The First Marinara

Each week in August our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) provided us with a small shopping back of tomatoes. Over the past few weeks I've become an expert at blanching tomatoes. I've even made some decent restaurant style salsa in the blender. Having concocted a salsa I love, I'm turning my attention to marinara. For my first attempt, I'm taking these 4 lovely ripe tomatoes and turning them into marinara...



Yup.  You got it.  I'm winging it.  I cook a lot and I know what's in marinara, so how hard can it be?  Ha!

I began by blanching and peeling my tomatoes.  This is the step with which I'm the most comfortable.  I don't like eating tomato skins so they simply must go.  Blanching the tomatoes seems to have the added positive effect of removing any blemishes and bad spots as I'm peeling the skins off.  Once peeled I coarsely chopped the tomatoes and set them aside.

Taking inventory of all the other produce littering my counter top, I found bell peppers, okra, onions, scallions, jalapenos, cilantro, banana peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and basil.  While I like lots of ingredients in my recipes I limited myself to the bell peppers, onions, scallions and basil.  I diced and sauteed the first three ingredients in olive oil, added the basil, minced garlic, low sodium chicken stock and my tomatoes.  The resulting mix looked promising.

After simmering for an hour, I got impatient and took a potato masher to the bubbling mixture.  Another 2 hours and I ended up with a think chunky good smelling sauce.

Just enough for my Monday night dinner!  While it was adequate, I was underwhelmed.  I think my first mistake was adding the bell pepper.  The second...  leaving out the salt.  However, I can say that adding some Parmesan cheese really brightened up the flavor.  Last but not least, seeding the tomatoes might also help.  There were a lot more seeds than I expected

All in all, I'm happy with  my first attempt as marinara.  I'll be trying again next week.  My goal is to find a recipe that I like enough to can a bunch of it for later this winter when I'm no longer overwhelmed in fresh produce.  Maybe another good start would also be to do some reading of existing marinara recipes!

Do you have any suggestions?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mindful Mondays: Appreciation Edition

Last week I spent a lot of time noticing how much time I spent multi-tasking. I've read the reports that there is no such thing as true mutli-tasking, but I sure do put in a valiant effort.  Numerous times I caught myself doing things like scheduling appointments while cooking dinner or answering emails while writing up a design paper.  Even composing this post is taking me extra time because the TV is going in the background drawing my attention.

While I did not succeed in being a unitasker, being aware did allow me to limit needless switching between tasks whenever my mind slowed down for a few breaths.  When I wasn't 100 percent engaged in the task at hand, my attention quickly veered towards anything else.    Taking a deep breath and ignoring the temptation of the next item on the to do list really helped me get my bigger tasks done and done well.  I also found plenty of time to take care of the little tasks.  Overall, this week was a good experience and I'm definitely on the road to getting back to my overachieving self.


WHAT: Appreciate the good things.  There's big things like job, family and health, but those aren't the ones to which I'm referring.  This week it is time to appreciate clean sheets, a hug from a friend or hitting a green light.

WHY: There is so much in my life to appreciate.  Just this week, I experienced a earthquake and slept as a hurricane passed over my house.  I'm okay.  All those I love are okay.  My house is unscathed.  The weather outside can only be described as the calm AFTER the storm.  It's been an amazing week.  But I did say that these are not the things I'm focusing on.

One of my reasons for starting this blog is to spend time noticing and recording all the great things that surround me.  However, too often, I look at my life through critical lenses.  There's always some task I haven't finished.  My kids stages are marked my their difficulties instead of their triumphs.  If only that recipe came out looking like the picture in the book.

HOW: I know when I'm being critical.  Lately, I feel the tickle of the critical eye as it stares back at me in the mirror.  I'm more critical of myself than anything or anyone else.  This week when I feel that tickle, I'm going to turn my attention outward and onward.  I'm going to look around me and focus on all that I have.  I'll make lists if I need to, just as long as I pause for a few moments a day to see what is right in front of me and appreciate it for its presence in my life.

Right now, I'm headed off to appreciate my snack as I appreciate the surprise day I got to spend at home alone.  Multi-tasking at its finest!

Menu Plan Monday: First Edition

I've been menu planning for a few years now.  As my family has grown, my job changed and my cooking focus shifted, my planning has evolved.  Most recently, meal planning occured on the first weekend of the month.  In my kitchen hangs a calendar white board that lists all the family obligations as well as the proposed meals.

Lately I've encountered two problems with this.  The first is that it takes me over an hour to make the monthly plan.  When I don't get it done on the predestined weekend, my motivation for complete it on subsequent weekends is pretty much nil.  About 60% of the time, I'm making up my meal plans on a weekly basis.  Secondly, I have to make a shopping list each week based on the planned menu, the contents of my pantry and the leftovers in the fridge.

Given all this, I'm joining Menu Planning Mondays on I'm an Organizing Junkie.  I like the idea of piggy backing on others great ideas for weekly plans as well as preserving my menus to reflect back on in subsequent weeks.

For this week's menu, I'm leaning on my top ten meal list (more on that later).  Nutritious, delicious and all ready in under 30 minutes (with the prep I do on the weekends to make sure week night dinners stay under 30 minutes!!).

Monday: Spaghetti with Homemade Tomato Sauce
Tuesday: Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes & Salad
Wednesday: Tuna Melts
Thursday: Stir-fry
Friday: Burgers & Fries
Saturday: Family Dinner Out
Sunday: Wedding Reception

What do you have planned for dinner this week?

Monday, August 22, 2011

My First Blog Hop

My blog is only a few days old.  It seems strange to toss it out into the world expecting to the fly on its own.  HOWEVER, if no one reads my blog, does it really exist?  Too deep thoughts for a Monday...

A friend linked to this Blog Hop from her new Blog, so now I'm giving it a try.  Enjoy!

Mindful Mondays: Take it One Task at a Time

Mindful Mondays has been sowing up on The Happiest Mom blog lately.  They are her focus to help shape her week.  I like the idea of having a theme for my week.  Something new to focus on each week, to think about when reflecting on it passing.  So...  Here goes!


WHAT: Devote my full attention to one task at a time.

WHY: I am a multi-tasker.  Alton Brown would love me.  However, lately I fear my great asset is becoming a calamity.  I feel frazzled and I think my work is suffering.

HOW: Always the hardest part, right?

This week I'll set aside a time to take care of the miscellaneous.  I already have routines in place to schedule my little to-dos in my planner as they come up on the days when they seem most likely to get done.  Usually I take care of these list items on the side while tackling the larger task of the hour/morning/day.  Too often, these little tasks interrupt or present themselves at just the right time to support a righteous bout of procrastination.

Instead of allowing them to side track me.  I'm going to schedule a time each day where I will deal with them.  Then the larger items on my list will get the undivided attention they deserve.  My hope is that the slight decay I'm detecting in my work will disappear and, maybe, just maybe, I'll notice a speed up in my progress on larger tasks.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


I estimate I have 45 minutes before someone needs me.  Both girls and my husband are down for afternoon naps.  It is 2:05pm and they've been asleep for about 15 minutes already.  Time is ticking.

Things I hope to have done...

Load of Laundry Folded
Blog Entry Posted
Bills Paid
Bathroom Cleaned

State I'm in now?

The laundry is 1/2 way there.  This post is getting closer to being done by the key stroke.  The bills are next to me and glaring.  Bathroom cleaner is upstairs.  Episode of Buffy is on TV.  Drink has been refilled.  I can do this.

When is it my nap time?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wow.  I encountered this video on Defining Motherhood and just about started sobbing at work.  Some days are harder than others and I'm been attempting to ignore how hard mine have been feeling lately.

It's awesome to have a wonderful life.  It's amazing when everything you've worked hard for comes to fruition.  It's also terrifying.  I read a book a few weeks back where the character was taught to dream big and be sure your dreams last until the final days of your life.  I wonder if that is where I stumble right now.  So many of my dreams have come true that I'm running low on direction these days.

But returning to the video...  What would I go back and tell myself?

Your babies know you love them.
You will find the strength.
Trust yourself.
Trust your partner.
Ask for help when you need it.
This too shall pass. All too soon.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy

Why I picked it: A few months back I got a Kindle.  For a while I was only reading free content.  Amazon kept recommending the first book in the trilogy to me. Eventually, the cost didn't bother me so much and I bought it.  After reading the first book, there wasn't a second thought given to buying the rest of the trilogy.

What it's about:  The stage is set in a place called Panem.  It is North America without the US.  Within Panem, there is a central Capitol where all the money and power lies.  Supporting the Capital are 13 districts.  One district was destroyed  after rebelling against the Capital.  Each year, the Hunger Games pit 2 children from each of the remaining 12 districts against one another to fight to the death for the Capital's amusement.  And as a reminder of who's really in charge.  The book is set at the start of the 74th Hunger Games.  Simply put it is about a girl and her fight for survival.

My Rating: 5/5

Where it took me:  I was Katniss Everdeen.  As I read, I understood her decisions and made them with her.  She got my pity and my respect.  I loved those around her.  Seeing them through her eyes, I got to know them and wondered about them when she was focused elsewhere.  These books took me to her world where I could experience a life I hope to never actually live.

Even more, my heart and soul ached thinking about the world Suzanne Collins created.  Themes on desensitization, war, gluttony and power stood out.  But I also read love, loyalty, compassion and hope.  As I think about the book more objectively, each character stands as a commentary of some quality and the positive and negative effects it can have on the wearer.

In the month since I bought the first book, I haven't completely pushed the story out of my mind.  Upon finishing the third book, I had to go back to the first one and start all over again.  I'm so glad I did!  Reliving their stories a second time I learned more about the characters I barely registered the first time through and began to see the depth of the story.  I'm giving the books a rest for a little while, but I'll definitely be revisiting them again in the not so distant future.  Maybe once I go more than a day without thinking about them.

Super Anxious.

Just to put it out there...  Writing this blog is making me anxious.  Knowing I'm putting bits of myself out on the internet.  Eventually someone will see this page.  They will read what I've written.  They might judge me.  What will they think?

I'm working on letting all that go.  The POINT of blogging is to get readers, to be noticed, to put a little more out than you did the day before and just maybe get a little back in exchange.  At least that's what I think all this is about.  I'll stretch my comfort zone a little more each day.

And I'll end up somewhere.  I don't know where, but I do look forward to ending up there.  Let's see where this goes.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Poor Dear.

Last night my littlest girl, Inchie, was diagnosed with a double ear infection.

Today I’m getting schooled on how different my girls are.

In Bean’s 2.75 years of life she has had 8 ear infections and 3 bouts of sinusitis.  One night she’d wake up crying in the middle of the night, a very rare occurance.  The next day we’d get the call from day care that she woke up from her afternoon nap with a slight fever.  We’d sneak her in the last appointment of the day at the pediatricians.  One dose of antibiotics later, the fever would be gone and she’d be back to her usual self.

Those ear infections did not prepare me for this.

No warning, Inchie woke up from her afternoon nap with a fever.  I couldn’t get her into the doctor’s before closing.  She got a little Tylenol and took an evening nap.  I expected her to sleep a little while, her fever there but not bad, and wake up to eat dinner and have a normal evening.

I didn’t get what I expected.  Inchie woke up with a temperature of 103.2 degrees.  Ray was home so I made an appointment at urgent care, ate dinner and headed over.  Three hours later we returned home. Inchie’s temperature was headed back in the right direction and we were armed with a meager supply of antibiotics.

She woke up a few times during the night.  Two doses of antibiotics and she’s still running a fever.  After her morning nap, she ate part of her morning bottle and then threw it back up on me.  This is HARD!

And I’m feeling particularly sorry for myself.  This isn’t my first baby.  I should know how this works.  I’m an expert right?!? 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I feel left out.

My life is good and I want to tell the world.

There are 20 ideas in my head just dying to expose themselves.

My kids are the cutest beings on Earth.  Really, they are.  I’m not biased.

I just read this great book.

Capturing moments in time might slow it down a little.

Work isn’t always as fulfilling as I expected.
These are some of the reasons I’m starting this blog.  I don’t know where this is headed, but now is the time.  I’ve been thinking about it far too long.  Please join me as I depart from the text and get carried away.