Saturday, August 31, 2013

3/30 Things - Parents

        Words cannot express how thankful I am to have been raised by my parents.  There are too many adults my age dealing with various issues because of their childhood upbringing.  Now, I'm not saying that my parents were perfect, because they were far from it, but they tried so hard to give me a wonderful childhood.  They had their fair share of "issues" when I was younger (mostly stuff I don't remember) but they stayed together, and worked things out.  Sadly, my father passed away in 2005, leaving my mom widowed and alone (I was living in an apartment at the time, with my ex and my son (who was around 3 at the time).

        Honestly, to this day I believe that everything happens for a reason.  While my parents brought me up to respect myself enough to wait for marriage, I strayed a bit in my teenage years, and wound up pregnant at 17.  Now, am I saying that God planned for me to be a 17 year old mother in an unhealthy relationship?  No, but I believe that things happened so that my dad could have a grandchild before he passed.  He got to spend 3 years with my son, and strangely enough (or miraculously?) at 10 years old, my son remembers his grandpop from his babyhood/toddler-hood and I believe that it has helped form him into the awesome kid he is today.

        Towards the end, I wasn't very close with my parents due to my depression.  I can honestly say that I don't even remember the last year or so of my father's life, and that's been difficult for me to write or talk about... I blocked a lot out from the first few years of my son's life, and that hurts too.  I think the depression was both from the fact that I was in an unhappy relationship and also that my father passed away so suddenly, and I never really had a chance to say goodbye.

        Over the years though, I have forgiven myself and realize that time can't be rewound.  I can only move forward and make the most of life now.  Family is precious and we should cherish and love them.  My mom now lives with my husband, children, and I.  Lots of people think that "living with in-laws" doesn't work out, but this setup is great for us.  My mom isn't lonely, she gets to spend lots of time with her grandchildren, and in turn we get the joy of her company as well.  She is a wonderful and selfless person who loves the Lord and has much wisdom about life to offer.

        I can't make a post about parents though without including my mother-in-law.  She has truly been like a second mother to me over the past 6 years.  Ever since I met her, she has been nothing but wonderful to my son and I.  She is a great Noña to him and is thrilled that she now has a beautiful granddaughter to enjoy also!  She raised my husband into the wonderful man that he is today, and continues to be a strong, inspirational role model in his life.

        In closing, I believe that we are given the parents (or parental-figures) that we have for a reason.  The impact they make on us, whether positive, negative, or whatever it may be, helps to shape us into who we are today and what kind of parents/spouses we will become.  This can teach us a valuable lesson too though, because as parents, our children are watching us and learning from us, we are shaping them for the future, just as our parents did with us!

Friday, August 30, 2013

2/30 Things - 3 Fears

        Fear is a funny thing.  I never understood the popular TV series, Fear Factor, although I occasionally watched out of morbid curiosity.  Some of the challenges, seemed more like "let's be as disgusting as possible to get TV ratings and cause mass vomiting" rather than "man up and face your fears to win $$$". Drinking puree'd caterpillars or laying in a bed full of worms wouldn't exactly scare me, but it would give me the heebie jeebies and I'd probably opt out before the first challenge had even begun.

        Anyway, I think we all have our own idea what constitutes as fear, and our own validations as to why.  That said, here are my 3 Legitimate Fears and how they became so:

  1. Bugs - I don't like most bugs.  I find them creepy.  The more segments they have, the freakier they are to me.  Ants are a huge one for me... Owning our own home which came with it's own mini-jungle (untamed wrap-around flower garden neglected by the previous owner for 1 decade+) kind of screams "Please join us for lunch ants!!!!!"  - So we have to be very proactive to keep them at bay during the warmer months... When I find an ant in my kitchen, the whole block knows about it, because I involuntarily let out a blood-curdling scream loud enough to wake the dead.  Spiders, crickets, and other creepy little bugs also gross me out, and mosquitoes just piss me off!  
  2. [Origin: I've just been creeped out by them for as long as I can remember..]
  3. Disease - I don't like to acknowledge this one, because I like to keep my thoughts positive, but let's be real, it's a fear.  I think my husband has accused me of being a hypochondriac quite a few times over the years, and hey I'll admit I used to be way worse... At the first sign of a headache or a rash on my toe I'd google my "symptoms and the worrying would start.  Lots of praying, reading God's word, and also just realizing I was being ridiculous has sort of helped ease my irrational fears, but the "what ifs" still loom in the back of my head.
    [Origin: IMO, the internet age, the information highway, knowledge might be power but it's scary!]
  4. The path my kids choose - This one is something I'm sure every parent struggles with... Am I doing the right things?  Saying the right things?  Will they stay with the Lord?  Will they fall in love, have their hearts broken, get married, have children of their own?  Etc..etc...etc... Obviously it's not a nagging/crippling fear, and I trust God to protect them, it's just one of those things I wonder about... maybe not exactly a fear, but close enough!  Fear for the unknown I guess would be a better description.
    [Origin: Becoming a mom.]
        Well, there you have it.  I'm sure there's more than that, but those were the first 3 I thought of, and felt led to write about!  What are YOU afraid of?

1/30 Things - 20 Random Facts

  1. I'm a Virgo, and although I don't follow astrology, my hubby says my personality is pretty spot-on with the description of a "Virgo"
  2. Although I've had 3 dogs in my life, I'm not a "dog person" and I never really got attached to any of them.
  3. I used to sell Premier Designs jewelry, but I gave up on it after a little less than a year.
  4. I tried playing the flute, piano, and karate lessons as a child, and never stuck with any of them.
  5. I LOVE coupons, and I get the biggest rush ever from finding a stellar deal, and stocking up... The best part is putting a huge amount of an item in my cart, and also at the check-out lane, watching the amount owed drop!
  6. Although I'm now a brunette (and that's my natural hair color), I went blonde for several years as a teen.
  7. I took a break after fact #6, to go eat an entire half of watermelon myself... I gave my daughter a piece but she just smashed it.  My belly hurts.
  8. I sometimes pretend I have my own cooking show while making food in my kitchen,
  9. I love spicy food, mexican food, sushi, seafood, italian food, heck... I love FOOD, but those were my favorites.
  10. We sometimes go through 12-16 sticks of butter a week.  (<3 Costco/BJs )
  11. I never went to prom.
  12. I love high-pulp content orange juice.  Orange juice without pulp grosses me out.
  13. I loved being pregnant.  Loved it!
  14. I don't drink cow's milk at all, but I will cook with it, and eat cheese, yogurt, etc made with it. 
  15. My favorite teacher actually wasn't "my" teacher, she was my son's teacher.   I wish she would have been mine!  She is seriously a real life mother goose.
  16. I collect salt & pepper shakers.
  17. My favorite shows are The Walking Dead, Grey's Anatomy, Reba (no longer aired), & Full House (ditto)
  18. I love playing video games, but I don't feel like there's enough time in the day, or that they are important enough to distract me from everything else in my life, so I rarely play them anymore.
  19. My longest job was a waitress for Cracker Barrel, nearly 5 years.
  20. I haven't smoked a cigarette since I found out I was pregnant with my daughter over 2 years ago,  but I still miss them often.  I am too strong to go back though!

        There you have it, 20 random facts about me!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Blog Challenge - The Rundown

        So I was looking for ideas to write about, to inspire me in the blogging world.  Trust me, I have plenty to say, but sometimes "blogger's block" gets me, and while I have 20 different ideas flowing through my head at 2AM while I lay in bed, or while I'm folding 3 loads of laundry (of which every single shirt and sock is inside-out, thanks darling husband <3 ), when I actually sit down to write, my thoughts evade me, and I sometimes draw a blank.  

        That lead me to my favorite information highway, aka Google, and I began searching for a blogging challenge.  I've seen them before, on some of the blogs that I follow non-loyally, so I knew about them - just never participated.  After a quick search, I came upon Brown Eyed Girl's Ramblings blog, and decided that this list looked quite fun!  If you like what you see, join in, link up, and accept the challenge!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Stay at home mommy guilt

        When most of us think of mom's suffering from feelings of guilt, we imagine the modern day working mom.  The 9-5 mom who wakes up before the sun, rushing around to press her suit, make a (time-permitting) wholesome breakfast for her family, and dropping off her precious bundle of joy at daycare before sitting in bumper to bumper traffic heading to a cookie-cutter job position where she will count down the seconds until she can hear that little giggle and wipe those sticky fingers again.  What we don't usually imagine is the mom who is blessed to be home with her babies, all day, every day, rain or shine, in sickness or health.

        I have been on both sides of the fence in this scenario, with several differences.
  • My son was older (5) and in public school.
  • My 9-5 was usually a 6-1 as a waitress, and I wasn't usually working a 40 hour week.
        When my son was a baby, I was in a pretty unhealthy relationship, and if my memory serves me correct, quite depressed with my life.  I didn't work for several reasons, none being that I wanted to be a stay at home mom.  After things started turning around, when I got out of the bad relationship, moved on, became healthy and happy again, I found a job, and felt comfortable working because my son was either in school or with a family member.  

        Things changed when I became pregnant with our daughter 5 years later.  At first, I had every intention to return to work a mere 6 weeks (AMERICA, YOU SUCK) post-partum - but as my pregnancy progressed, and I fully embraced this beautiful life growing inside of me, I literally could not imagine leaving her with anyone for even a moment.  By the time I delivered, I was almost in tears at the mere thought of returning to a job that I no longer enjoyed as much as I did when I started, and also at the idea of placing my daughter in a daycare or even in the arms of a loving grandmother/noña.

        Now, that may sound drastic to you, or perhaps if you're a working mom you are offended that I find anyone but myself caring for my daughter to be sub-par... But, that is not my intention.  Everyone is different, and every mother, father, baby, etc react differently to different situations, and sometimes they just have no choice but to adapt.  So please, don't be thrown off by my personal sentiment as it only relates to this particular relationship between my daughter and myself. 

        Back to my point, we took a long hard look at our budget, and honestly things were not looking in our favor for me to stay at home.  We put our trust in God's hands and regardless of what the numbers looked like on paper, we were(are) trusting Him to keep us afloat, and 15 months later He has not let us down.  We have cut down on quite a few things, and I've been budgeting, couponing, and we have gone mostly paperless (kitchen and nursery, not the bathroom...) and have started making many other common household supplies to save money.  

        Being a working mom of an older child, before and during my pregnancy, I always sort of envied stay at home moms.  I mean, from the outside looking in, I thought the typical stay at home mom spent her days lounging on the couch, eating bonbons, surfing the boob-tube, maybe doing a load of laundry, and usually doing some form of cooking to prepare dinner for a hungry family. (See example below)

        But... Things aren't always as they appear.  Now I'll be the first to admit, I have my days where I don't feel like superwoman, and don't do much more than ^, but I feel MEGA guilty about them, and usually make up for them the following days with vigorous scrubbing, baking, cooking, sweeping, mopping, washing, creating, shopping, meal-planning, list-making, coupon-clipping, and plenty of Facebook updates/texts to verify that I am in fact, a busy, busy bee. 

        My original point, which I seem to be beating around the bush on, is that regardless of how hard we work around the house, regardless of how many loads of laundry we do, or how many pots and pans we scrub/detail/buff away every mark, regardless of the extravagant dinner that took 4 hours of slaving over the stove to prepare, and regardless of the fact that we don't get to "clock out" for breaks or at the end of the day, we all share this common, nagging, little voice in the back of our heads saying "IT'S NOT ENOUGH!!!!!!!"  I have pep-talked myself until I'm blue in the face,  I have marked off many lines on my chore-charts and to do lists, and I have been told by more than one family member that I try to do "too much", but sometimes it just doesn't feel like it's enough darn-it!  

        Some instances where I feel guilt include early mornings when my husband has to get up and rush off to work at 6AM while I'm lying in bed cuddling our little princess for another 5-6 hours (jealous?  she loves sleep just like her momma!), the naps I occasionally (sometimes I lay awake on my phone or laptop) get to take with her during the day, I can stay up late because I don't have to be up at a certain time, I don't have a boss to answer to (I can do what I want when I want - to an extent - obviously), and I'm sure there are tons more that I cannot think of right now.

        Stick around because I think I figured out the source of this guilt...  Happiness!  Yes, happiness.  I am truly doing what I love.  I know some little girls dream of being lawyers, or doctors, (or princesses, but come on, let's be realistic!) but my biggest dream (besides my other two huge dreams which I will share in later posts ) is to be a stay at home mommy.  To be able to raise my own children, watch them grow, homeschool them, & be able to keep my house beautiful and cook gourmet meals/treats often!  Now, I give HUGE props to moms that do it all, working all day and coming home to do full time mom duty also, it must be super hard, I can't imagine!  But (this is about me!) that's not what we're talking about here... I think that sometimes we (humans/people/persons/earth-dwellers) can feel a sense of guilt for being happy!  As ridiculous as that sounds, hear me out!  
        Haven't you ever won anything (a fish at the fair, a $5 office raffle, free pizza for the week in school, the lottery<- if you answered yes to this one, please contact me via email and let's be best friends OK thanks.) and felt guilty for enjoying it?  Perhaps the other contestants were sad and giving you pathetic puppy-dog eyes trying to make you feel bad, or maybe your best friend is sitting across from you watching every delicious bite you take of that heavenly tomatoey, cheesy, garlicky, hunka hunka burnin' pizza while drooling and grumbling in misery?  Or maybe everyone is clapping and cheering you on, but you secretly feel bad (even if only for a second) while blowing $3,000 on a coffee grinder just because you can?  Well, while these examples are extreme, I hope my point was well received, uh, thank you very much. 

        So, in closing, I think that we all could learn to appreciate ourselves (and one another) more.  Especially for those who haven't had the opportunity to experience both lifestyles.  Yes, being a stay at home mom can be hard, and sometimes it might feel like there's no immediate reward, or that nobody notices all the little things we do, but it will pay off.  Our children will thank us one day, if not in words - then by actions.  Working moms have it even harder in my opinion, doing both jobs with half the time and energy.  Moms who work, and go to school?  Well, they are superhuman and have hacked time itself to make provisions for theirselves and their families.  Just kidding, but seriously I don't know how they do it!!!  No matter what our days are filled with, or what we accomplish, loving our children and husbands is the most important job in the world, and you ARE doing a wonderful job!  And hey, our husbands truly do have the "tough" job, going out and working hard, sometimes missing out on firsts or sweet moments, so let's not be too hard on them OK ladies? =)

Beef & Cabbage Soup aka "Pigs in a swimming pool"

        This is a super easy, low maintenance, delicious soup that I whipped up last night.  I'd been craving Crapper (Cracker) Barrel's Beef & Cabbage soup for awhile now, and I decided to recreate it to the best of my ability!  I'm rather famous (atleast in my house) for my Cabbage Rolls aka "Pigs in a blanket", so I tried to keep some of the basic flavors/concepts for this soup! My husband nicknamed it "Pigs in a swimming pool", since the pigs are outside of their blankets, swimming around =) ... I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!  Oh, serve it with some delicious crusty bread, or even some soft homemade dinner rolls!  Yum!!!!


  • 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1lb Ground Beef (or half beef half pork)
  • 1 small Onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks of Celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves of Garlic, chopped
  • 28oz can Diced Tomatoes (and their juice)
  • 28oz can of water
  • 8-12oz Dry Beans (Navy, Northern, whatever you like, smaller ones are best)
  • 49.5oz can Chicken Broth
  • 3-4 Beef Bullion cubes
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp Ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Parsley
  • 1/2 tsp Basil
  • 1/4 tsp Dill Weed
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 3/4 head of Cabbage, chopped
  1. In the bottom of a large stock pot or dutch oven, add your olive oil, meat, onion and celery.  Cook over medium heat until the meat is browned and the onions are translucent.  Add the garlic and stir often so it doesn't burn, until the garlic is aromatic (about a minute or two).
  2. Dump in the diced tomatoes, water, dry beans, chicken broth, bullion cubes, worcestershire sauce, & ketchup.  Stir until well combined. 
  3. Bring to a boil, and lower to a simmer.  Simmer for about 2-3hours until the beans are soft.  (Test them often, because cooking times/temps may vary depending on the type of beans used).
  4. When the beans are starting to soften, add your cabbage and the seasonings that are left and cook until the cabbage and beans are deliciously edible.
  5. Serve with a crusty french bread or some soft dinner rolls!  
  6. Enjoy!