Motherhood

I want to start with a bit of an apology or a disclaimer if you will, I normally proof read my blogs briefly before I post because I know I can often become long winded or stray from the subject but I didn’t do that here. I just wanted to express exactly what I was feeling without any regards to run ons or subject changes! You’ve been warned.

When I held P (now 10) in my arms for the very first time, I knew being a mom was my calling. I mean, I had always known it but it really reiterated it. Yep, this was what I was meant to do. I was absolutely made to be a mother. I closed my eyes and envisioned my future as a glowing, nurturing, patient, maternal goddess. My entire future glowed before me. Soccer games, cheerleading, PTA meetings, family pictures. Yes, life was going to be picturesque, I could feel it. Even through the pain of my c-section and the late night feedings and poop explosions I trucked on towards the prize. The mother-of-year-prize; as though it was a tangible engraved trophy. I attended all her preschool parties with handmade treats and personalized party favors in tow. I scrapbooked every glorious little detail of her life in elaborate hand cut spreads with corner rounded photos. When I learned I was pregnant again, I just knew I would be an even better mother this time around. After all, I had some experience under my belt now, I was practically a pro! But when T came along, I learned I wasn’t as super as I thought. She was a difficult baby. She pretty much hated anyone but me and refused to be bottle fed at all. Pumped milk was not her thing, she wanted it fresh from the source! lol So class parties and other social events sort of took a back seat to little sister. I felt spread so thin I was sure both of my girls were suffering. By the time T was around 2 and I finally felt like I had a foothold on motherhood again, Dave and I begin talking about trying for our third and final baby. We thought since we were “trying” this time, it may take a while but in no time at all we were expecting again. This pregnancy was exciting to me because we were better prepared for it. It was expected, we were excited, the girls were excited, and we were in a better place financially to accommodate a new little blessing than previously. I was older, more experienced, and completely ready to take this on. After all, I had mastered being a mother of two, how much more difficult could a third child be? A was a pretty difficult child right out of the gate. She was colicky and was seriously attached to her mama. She did like Daddy much more than T did as a baby so that helped. Dave was much more helpful this time around too. He changed diapers and would offer to keep her so I could go to the store alone occasionally. But 3 kids into my parenting journey, I don’t exactly feel like a pro. I am NOT president of the PTA like I envisioned, I don’t even attend meetings. I have a hard time keeping their school and sporting events straight so I’m always late or confused in someway. We haven’t had family pictures taken in years. I’m not a glowing maternal goddess. I’m out of shape and stressed and overwhelmed most days. I feel like I’m drowning and failing in so many ways. I spend most of my days questioning every parenting decision I make and reflecting on every poor choice I made in the day: I text while I was at dinner with them, I fed them chick-fil-a because I didn’t feel like cooking, I didn’t bathe them last night because I was beyond ready for them to go to bed, they watched tv for more than an hour today, I lost my patience, I yelled, I skipped a bedtime story, we didn’t wake up in time for church, we didn’t pray together before bed. Did I spend enough time with them? Did I spend TOO much time with them? Did I let them be individuals and develop their own opinions or am I forcing mine on them? Have I scared them for life? Am I crushing their little spirits and forever changing who they are? Will they need therapy as adults? You laugh, but you know you’ve all thought the same thing about your parenting skills. Some days I hide in my closet and cry because I’m so disappointed in myself as a mother. Our pediatrician constantly compliments me on how well behaved, polite, intelligent, and wonderful our girls are. She praises Dave and I for our parenting every time we visit. Recently, Dave and I treated the girls to a nice dinner at Saltgrass steakhouse to celebrate P & T both being selected as students of the month at school when an elderly gentleman sitting at the table behind us came over as they were leaving and shook Dave’s hand. He said he just wanted to stop by and congratulate us on being wonderful parents. He said he and his wife had been watching and they were so blown away by how polite the girls were and how they just sat there sweetly the entire dinner. They were never rambunctious, never threw a fit, and were absolutely beautiful as well. Dave beamed with pride and the girls sweetly smiled and said thank you before waiving goodbye. Stuff like this literally happens to us every time we leave the house but still I don’t feel like a good parent. I still am overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy and failure. This weekend was a great weekend for our family. Thursday I attended a muffins with Mom breakfast at the older girl’s elementary school and then a few hours later attended a muffins with Mom event at A’s mother’s day out program. I loved watching them very proudly present me little handmade cards and gifts as a Mother’s Day present. Friday morning, I attended another early morning breakfast event at the school because P had been chosen for a character award. Each time I attend an event at the girl’s school I am bombarded by reports of praise from their teachers, administrators, peers, and other parents. I cried as a letter from her teacher explaining why she was chosen was read aloud choked full of wonderful words of praise like “P is selfless, generous, and there is not a student in my classroom who thinks anything but the best of her. On my own bad days, I can think of a student like her and realize why I love to do this job.”. She goes on to say “Her kindness and constant enthusiasm will be something I remember for many years to come.”. Wow! Included in her award papers was a wonderful collage of sweet comments that each of her peers had contributed about her. “P is a problem solver and I have never seen her with a frown”, “You are a sweet, nice, cute, and generous girl and will be my best friend forever”, “You are awesome! You are fast, nice, gold hearted, a good friend, and very good at soccer”, “She is one of the coolest and nicest people I have ever met”. Were amongst some of my favorite things her classmates had to share about her. I am so so proud of this amazing little girl but I can’t take the credit for it. Even with all this praise, I can’t take credit. She’s wonderful all on her own and I still felt like a failure when I fed her fast food for dinner that night. The next morning, our whole family attended a city wide “Character March” at one of the local high schools. Star students from each school in the city were brought on stage and recognized for being students of impeccable character. This year there were about 18 students out of the nearly 500 enrolled students at their school selected to be students of the month and of those 18, my 2 children were BOTH selected! They were the only set of siblings recognized that day. T’s teacher said about her: “She always has a kind word for her friends and encourages others. She usually goes the extra mile to help teachers and students alike.” She added, “She is a great example to her peers daily and her genuine and caring heart makes her a friend to all.” We finished off the morning with food and fun at the stadium and then enjoyed an evening of pizza and playing with friends. At the end of the night when I kept my children up waaaaaay past their bedtimes and then became irritated when A was extremely cranky and whiney I felt like a failure again. My point in all of this was not to brag on my children, (okay, maybe a little bit, but they truly deserve some recognition), it was to say that no matter what the parenting circumstances are, no matter how other people view you as a parent, no matter how well behaved and kind hearted your kids may be, you will always be your own worst critic. It’s something I’ve struggled with since I became a mother and something I will probably always struggle with from time to time. This morning when I was surprised with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, jewelry from one of my favorite stores, donuts, and hand drawn Mother’s Day cards before church, I cried. Reading the sweet words on the card my husband had selected for me and the wonderful note he wrote at the bottom made my heart swell because I realized something for the first time in all of my years as a mom. I realized that I am enough. I’m not perfect, I’m often impatient, I become overwhelmed, sometimes my kids eat fast food, but I’m doing my very best and you know what? That’s a pretty good start. God didn’t intend for us to be perfect mothers. He intended us to lean on him with faithful prayer. He intended for us to go to Him for counsel and guidance and to raise our children to love him. Can I tell you something moms? You are enough for those babies. Someday when they’re grown, they won’t remember that time we were too tired for a bedtime story, they will remember the love we had for them, the discipline they received when they were disobedient, the lessons we teach them, and most importantly how we instilled in them a love for the Lord.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

I find so much encouragement in the word knowing that the Father is with me co-parenting and picking up the slack when I can’t go on. I find hope in His promises for me as a mother and although I know I will always fall short in some area as a mother, I know those sweet, beautiful, amazing, precious babies of mine love their imperfect, absent minded, goofy, flawed mommy more than I deserve. They are truly the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. They try my patience and drive my absolutely batty some days but this wonderful amazing motherhood journey has been the greatest ride of my life!

Proverbs 31:28-29 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many women do noble things but you surpass them all.

Thank you Lord for loving me so completely despite my many flaws. Thank you for trusting me with these 3 amazing little angels. Thank you for giving me a God fearing mother as an example to myself and my children and for the many amazing mothers in my life. I pray for extra strength for my fellow mommies who are struggling with the same feelings of inadequacy and failure today. Less of us and more of you Lord.

Happy Mother’s Day Mamas! <3

Reading nook fun

Our oldest daughter is severely dyslexic.  She’s struggled with reading for years and finally as she nears the end of 4th grade, she seems to be reading on level and actually enjoying books rather than dreading reading time.  I wanted to really nurture her newfound love of reading as well as that of her little sisters so I decided we needed a designated reading area.  I initially planned on a cute little teepee or something in the corner of the playroom with pillows and blankets (hint: hobby lobby is now carrying super cute teepees for $100 and you can use a coupon!) but our playroom looks over our living room and kitchen so it isn’t always the quietest of places.  Then it hit me!  The “secret” closet under the stairs.  The door is in the laundry room and it’s pretty quiet with the exception of the lull of the washer/dryer when it’s on.  We were using it as storage for our cleaning supplies and some boxes of Christmas decorations.  The girls and I got started on clearing it out and moving the boxes up to the attic.  We are so pleased with the way it turned out and it’s been used daily since.  Aside from the little book rack and a new rug, it cost me next to nothing as we used items we already had around the house.  

The only rules are to be quiet and have fun.  Everyone has to pick a quiet activity while in there, doesn’t necessarily have to be reading.  

   
 

The reading lounge seating is actually an old ottoman top that no longer matches my living room.  It’s padded so pretty comfy to sit on and the back is a rolled piece of foam for a bed we had laying around.  I had an extra set of queen size sheets that I used to cover  both items and I used a little duct tape to secure them to the bottom without having to actually cut or sew anything.  They’ve held up great so far!  We had the battery operated lanterns and pennant banner leftover from a party and I got the rug from garden ridge on clearance for under $20.  The cloth book rack is from Walmart.com.  It arrived in days and was inexpensive.  I used chalk pens to doodle a Dr. Suess quote on a chalkboard we already had and hung it for decor.  

  

I wanted some color on the walls but didn’t want to commit to paint so I was ecstatic to find the little circle decals on clearance for $4 at target.  

  
We filled the area with quiet activities like magnets and magnet boards, (an oil drip pan from the auto part store and cookie sheets from dollar tree), I-spy bottles we made a few years ago, and books.

  
We got the idea from Pinterest of course and the girls love them!  Super easy and fun project.  They’re made using voss water bottles, rice, and little trinkets from around the house.  We took photos of the items before putting them in the rice, printed them out, laminated, and numbered them and the bottles as a key.  They use dry erase markers to mark off the items as they find them.  

  
The girls aren’t allowed to have electronic devices upstairs because I like to be able to monitor anything with internet capability so we created an “iStation” with all our iPads, iPods, and innotabs.  We added headphones so that game and electronic stories didn’t disturb others enjoying the quiet space.  We had such a fun time creating this reading nook together and the girls love having a secret quiet hideaway to unwind and enjoy a good story.  Can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!  

New years resolution. Yep I made one, yep I’m keeping it. So far anyway…

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If you know me personally, you know I am simultaneously the most organized and the most unorganized person you will ever meet.  lol  Let me explain, I love my label maker, organizing bins, color coding, and labels that all face … Continue reading

20 Random kitchen products you had no idea you would need/want!

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I’m a bit quirky.  I like unique things that’s for sure.  My kitchen is no exception, I strive to find the funnest and funkiest kitchen gadgets around.  I’m going to share with you my top 20 adorably fabulous kitchen gadgets … Continue reading

Apple pie and baked apple cups

Everyone is always raving about my apple pies so thought I would share my process with y’all. The greatest part is, you can use your leftovers to create an additional goody: baked apple cinnamon cups. Yummmm!

I think everyone is going to be shocked by how easy this is. Seriously, everything I make is easy and quick even if it doesn’t look like it at first glance.

I do sometimes make my own crust but I’ll be honest with you, I despise rolling it out. It frustrates me beyond belief. This is also why I hate working with fondant when I make a cake.

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Sorry, couldn’t resist! Anywho, more often than not, it’s pilsbury to the rescue! My OCD really loves how the crusts are perfect circles when you roll them out unlike my own hand rolled crust. But I digress…

You’ll need:
-1 box of refrigerated pie crust (2 crusts per box)
-4 apples. I use 4 different kinds of apples: Granny Smith, golden delicious, red delicious, and gala. You can use any combination of apples you so choose or all the same kind if you prefer. I personally like the different tastes the variety provides.
-1 pie tin
-1 small mixing bowl and 1 larger mixing bowl
-cinnamon, brown sugar, sugar, apple pie spice
-vanilla flavoring and caramel flavoring
-1 stick of butter

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Preheat your oven according to your pie crust packaging instructions for 2 crust pies. Usually 375.
Peel and core your apples and slice them as thinly as possible. I put the slices in the large bowl as I cut.

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Line the pan with the first pie crust and trim edges with a knife or kitchen shears if needed. I use my hands to mix up the apple slices so that the different types are evenly distributed. Once mixed well, fill your pie crust and place the stick of butter in the small mixing bowl.

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Microwave butter for about 45 seconds or until fully melted. Add about 1 tbsp of sugar, 5 tbsp brown sugar, and a sprinkle of each cinnamon and apple pie spice. Mix it well and pour about half of the mixture over the apples.

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Lay out your second crust on a cutting board and use cookie cutters to make a design or cut the crust into strips to make a basket weave design if you want. Place the crust on top of the apples, press firmly all around and trim edges if needed. I like to put the crust cutouts back on top. Looks nice and the crunchy crust pieces are the hubby’s favorite part. I then take a fork all around the edge and sprinkle top with cinnamon.

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Ovens will vary but you’ll need to bake it for about 20-30 mins or until your crust looks golden brown.

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It’s best served warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top. :)

Now, I usually have some leftover crust trimmings, sliced apples, and buttery filling on my hands. We don’t let that go to waste! Take an extra apple, (I used a golden delicious here) and use a knife to cut around the core. Use a spoon to dig the insides out. I rinse the apple and pour a little of the butter mixture inside it. I twist it around to make sure the inside is coated. I line a pan with foil and place the apple on it. I then take a handful of leftover apple slices and dice them before placing a handful on the pan. Drizzle a little buttery/sugary goodness over the apples and mix around. I use the cookie cutters to cut out a few shapes from the pie crust trimmings and place them in the pan as well.

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I bake the apple next to the pie for about 10 minutes or until it’s nice and soft and the pie crust shapes are nice and flakey. Place the hot apple on a plate or in a bowl, place a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream inside and top with baked cinnamon apples. I sprinkle a dash of cinnamon over the top and add a pie crust shape for garnish.

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Grab a knife and a fork and enjoy! Delicious!

BBQ bacon cheddar balls

Going to quickly share one of our favorite quick easy meals with you. My kids can smell these a mile away and always get super excited when I make them.

You know the drill, gather your supplies:
-1 lb lean ground turkey
-Shredded cheddar cheese (about 1/4 cup)
-BBQ sauce of your choice. (About 1/2 cup). I use sweet baby rays sweet and spicy sauce. It’s ah-maze-ing!
-about 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, crushed crackers, or oatmeal (I used bread crumbs here)
-bacon bits jarred or fresh
-1 egg
-seasonings of your choice (optional). I use my old trusty garlic powder and onion powder.

We often choose asparagus and white rice or cauliflower rice as our sides. I start by chopping the ends off of the asparagus and laying it out on a cookie sheet. I then drizzle some coconut oil and squeeze a small lime wedge over the top and use my hands to toss and coat it. I then sprinkle a little pepper and sea salt and toss them in the oven at 425 degrees.

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While those are busy getting extra delicious in the oven, toss all your meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl. Only use about 1/4 cup of the BBQ sauce and save the rest for the pan. Mix well.

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Pour the remaining BBQ sauce into a pan, add a little water, and mix around before turning the heat on medium. While your sauce begins to warm, use your hands to roll meatballs and drop them into the sauce.

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You can add more sauce and water if needed/desired. Turn meatballs often for even cooking and sauce coating.

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While these are cooking, you should start on your rice. I don’t think you need an instruction on how to make instant white rice do you? Lol

By now your asparagus should be perfect. Remove it from the oven, serve it all up, and enjoy!

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