Just a number

I have had conversations with a friend who, from time to time, deactivates her Facebook account for various reasons.  One reasonRecipe Challenge is because it can get pretty annoying at times.  I have felt the same way.

The majority of the people on my friends list are those who I went to school with.  Some of them are family and the others are people I have befriended through places of employment.  I don’t believe there is a single person I don’t know on my friends list, and even if we aren’t really friends outside of the virtual world of Facebook, we were or are connected in life in some way.

When I signed up for Facebook 5 or 6 years ago, I thought it was great.  Everyone did and yes, in many ways, it still is.  But lately, it’s just one of those things I check on throughout the day out of habit.

I post status updates about random things that happen during the week, as they happen, and it’s usually something involving my kids.  I mean, I’m with them all day and night.  I post pictures or videos of them, or dictate a conversation I had with them that I found amusing.

When I actually get to go somewhere, like on a weekend trip out-of-town (it’s usually only for a night), I’ll post pictures of that.  Sometimes I’ll come across an article that moves me in some way and I’ll share it.  Aside from that, there’s nothing else I do on there.  I don’t play the games.  I don’t partake in the quizzes.  None of that interests me.

But, do you want to know what my biggest pet peeve about Facebook is lately?  The fact that it seems that people don’t feel the need to act as if they have manners.  There is no proper “web etiquette” in place.

The reason I say this is because, as I said before, I started another blog, specifically for food, recipes, food styling and photography.  I added a page for that blog and I have it connected to my own Facebook page.  I sent the invites out to all 249 of my Facebook friends.  Only 43 of them accepted the page invite and “liked” the page.  Keep in mind though, that a handful of those 43 are family members.

Now, I understand that it’s not fair to expect that everyone would be interested in “liking” a food blog page and receiving those notifications in their news feed.  Here’s the deal though.  I get plenty of Facebook page invites from the same people who I have reached out to with my page invite, and have gladly accepted.  I skim through my news feed and read the status updates from their special pages because it’s there, in my news feed.

The acceptance of page invites from those on my “friends” list is proper web etiquette to me.  It’s having good manners.  It is a sign of support, not a sign of interest in that particular topic or company they are promoting.  What gets me is that I currently have about 10 pages that those I know have started who I have accepted page invite requests from, and there is only one of them that reciprocated that gesture.

I posted a contest today on the blogs Facebook page offering a $20 virtual gift card to a random winner.  All you had to do to enter the contest was tell me the name of a dish or desert to challenge me to cook/bake, style & photograph for my blog and tell me your favorite place to eat.  I started the contest, not to gain likes, but to gain experience and practice my skills with food styling and photography.  I figured I’d make it fun and reward those who have liked the page with this kind gesture.

Catch is that it was only available to those who “like” the page.  That’s because it wouldn’t be fair to those who have already liked the page to award someone with free money who only came for the prize and was never to be found again.

The only person to enter was my boyfriend’s mom who has no interest in the prize of course.  How pitiful is that?  These are some of the reasons I feel this way.  Where has the care and common decency and manners gone?

This is why I wonder what the point of it all is.  Yes.  It’s nice to see how much everyone has grown.  It’s great to see the adorable families they have made.  It’s nice to know that people are successful, or loved, or happy, but I am starting to feel like my “friends” list is too long.

This is not because I’m bitter.  This is because it’s true.  There are plenty of places and systems in society where we are just a “number”.  Personally, I’d rather not be a “number” on someone’s friends list.  That itself, is basically a huge contradiction.

Hey you, Snow!

Dear Snow,dear snow

Hey snow. I’ve been watching you from the window all winter. You have created quite a mess out there and I’ve cursed at you, under my breath, when you’ve caused my car to get stuck in the driveway.
You’ve made a prisoner out of me this year. I’m captive in the comfort of this structure of walls. All the while, you sparkle and glisten out there in the open space. You have the sun shining down on you and yet, you remain perfectly intact.
Well, not for long snow. As I watched you glisten from my window as the sun was rising this morning, I heard you. You called my name. But not the name Michelle; you called me Elly. The nickname my brother and sisters called me when we were kids.
Then, I remembered, snow. I remembered how much I used to love you. There was a time when your arrival was the most spectacular time of the year.
When you came, you brought snow days. We got to miss school and bundled up, if only, to cover ourselves with you. We had so much fun together, snow. You are one of my oldest friends. My childhood companion; We made so many great memories together.
Hey snow, do you remember the time when my brother rolled you up, packed you into giant balls and threw you as hard as he could at my face? It hurt so bad I almost cried. Do you remember? I got him back though, didn’t I?
How about all the times we took empty ice cream buckets, and packed them up full of you. We made the most remarkable igloos. We would hide out inside of them. They were safe havens during a snowball fight.
We enjoyed you while using our Snoopy Snow Cone maker too. We poured in the colorful flavors and made you taste so good!
Oh snow, how did I forget? I can hear us laughing now. My little sisters, smaller versions of them, running and screaming, frantically, as huge balls of snow zoomed past their heads.
My brother, as the only boy of four sisters, telling me that I had to be his brother because he didn’t have any. I took a lot of beatings playing football in the snow with the neighborhood boys.
You softened the fall, snow, when a game of two-hand-touch turned into our neighbor friend, Rob, plowing into my shins to tackle me, causing me to fly 3 ft in the air, and land directly on my back.
I had the wind knocked out of me, but if you weren’t there, blanketing the earth, it could have been much worse. Thank you for saving me snow.
It’s true.  We’ve all grown up snow. The smaller versions of us are bigger now. The gang of kids we once were, have gone our separate ways now.
With age, we have grown bitter with you and it’s sad, but true snow, you can be a nuisance.
We’ve been on some great adventures as “grown ups”. I’ve even been to the other side of the world and back.
But thank you for reminding me that at one time, the world was only as big as our home and our backyard.
You are a beautiful nuisance.
I do have something to tell you, my dear friend, snow. You don’t have to keep beckoning me anymore. I heard you call me, loud and clear and, I remember now.
I have good news for you too. Even though “Elly” grew up, and learned to hate you, today is a new day. Elly grew up to have two kids of her own. Those kids have been her greatest adventure yet.

Let me tell you, snow, my kids have been pleading to go out to meet you this year. You’ve already met Ashley, but you haven’t met my baby, Jackson.
Today, snow, I’m going to bundle them up, just as my mom did for me, and you’re going to get a proper introduction.
Yes, snow. You have been sitting pretty in our backyard for far too long, perfectly untouched; perfectly intact.
I heard you calling my name. It’s time for you to meet my family.


You’ll be seeing more of them lately. Have no fear. I love you snow. And, I know my kids are going to love you too.
They will get older, as time passes. They will forget how much they once loved you, and grow bitter with you one day too. But the circle of life will continue, snow.
Don’t get discouraged, though. I know how you will miss them, just as you have missed me. One day they will be introducing you to their own children too.

I won’t let them forget.

Love Always,
Elly

Give it Up, Girl

Give It Up

I’m going to have to admit it.  I’ve been stuck in the house for 8 days now.  Let’s make this clear.  Eight days in the house with my two kids, who also haven’t left this house for 8 days.

Can we say, stir crazy? Or cabin fever maybe? Or oh my goodness, we are going crazy?!

Anyhow, I let it get the best of me today.  I have been getting irritable.  Partially because the kids are getting bored and irritable, and partially because I am too.

You know what I have realized tonight though?  Aside from the mess that gets cleaned up and messed up and cleaned up again (on a daily basis), I really, really, love my family.  They are awesome.  The best, really.

Even though Ashley acts as if she is starved for attention most of the time (because I have dedicated so much attention entirely to her for so long), she is such a sweetheart.  You would not believe the thoughtful things she does, all on her own.

When Ryan works, she asks me when he will be home.  If I say that he should be home soon, she immediately climbs the bookshelf, picks out two of his books, and places them on the arm of the chair he loves to sit in.

She says, “I’m going to do something just for Ryan.”

It is so sweet, and really considerate and thoughtful.

Jackson, well even though he’s only almost a year and a half old, he’s very demanding. Actually, lately he has been REALLY attached to me.  I’m not sure if this is what all little boys do at this age, or if it’s because he’s been stuck indoors with me for eight days straight, but it’s really crazy how attached he is lately.

He can be very forceful and aggressive when he wants me to do something for him.  For example, if I’m in the kitchen trying to cook, he’ll come up and push me as hard as he can, until I acknowledge him.  Then, when I do, he’ll grab my hand and lead me to a place he wants to go.  It’s usually the bathroom tub or sink, because he LOVES playing with water.

But, you know what?  That little boy is so sweet too.  He comes to me because he knows that I’m the one who gives him the things he wants.  He comes to me when he’s hungry or thirsty.  He leads me to the kitchen and points to the faucet for a drink.  Even though he isn’t as vocal as my daughter was at that age, he uses his little, mighty and forceful strength, to tell me what he needs.  I love him for that.

Now, as for Ryan.  My poor sweetheart has felt a bit of the wrath of me the past couple days.  I have been so emotional.  I need some fresh air, some sunlight.  Well, air that isn’t -50 degrees and sunlight that isn’t just a reflection off the blaring 8 feet of snow.

I started to get crabby about the sink that was filling with dishes after I had everything cleaned up and he began to rant in argument and I realized that it was all so pointless.

I mean, really? What the heck are we doing?  Do I really want to spend an hour arguing about some stupid dishes and spend an entire evening and night angry about it? No…and as a matter of fact, NEVER.

Sometimes you just have realize what’s going on.  What’s really going on and why it’s going on, I mean.  We have been cooped up and let’s be honest.  If you barricade the exits and trap anything in a cage, it’s going to go a little crazy before it gives up and rests.

So, I spent a little time going crazy…and now it’s time to give up and rest.

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

I understand why you used to threaten to throw all of our toys away when we were kids.  We thought it was unfair and ridiculous, but I see it clearly now.  I understand why you expected us to help with the chores. 

Sometimes, it’s just too much for one woman to handle.  I’m beginning to think that maybe you were the Asian Superwoman.

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I get it now. Even though we had a ton of toys, you still continued to buy us the new ones because we just had to have them. I understand because even though my kids have mountains of things, we continue to add more things.

The proof that mountains can grow is in each of their rooms.

In fact, it has now gone beyond their rooms.  There is even a mountain of toys that started growing in front of the bathroom door today.

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These kids are small, but mighty mom. You should be so proud. They moved those there all by themselves today. I had them neatly put away in Jackson’s new toy box.

I’m amazed how easily these children move mountains. They do it so quickly and so effortlessly.

Much more quickly than I was, when I spent hours putting everything away only days before.

I have been working on getting Ashley to start helping by cleaning up her own room. Take a look at what a great job she did.

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She says this is clean because before she pushed the mountains of toys against walls, I couldn’t even walk through the door and get to the bed.

So mom, I understand now. Perhaps it took me 32 years, but you can write that one off of your list.

Love,
Your daughter Michelle

10 Things to do During a Snow Storm

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It’s winter in the Midwest! We’ve been watching the news a lot lately to figure out just how much snow we can expect in our area of the state and to put it simply, it’s not looking good.

We didn’t make a mad rush to the grocery store to fill up 10 carts of milk and bread or anything, but Ryan did make a stop there on the way home from work for onions.

This is what he reported:

“The store shelves and produce were pretty bare. The only onions they had were white onions and there was no bread, at all.”

Oh my dear goodness! What can that possibly mean?

White onions must be the least favorite type of onion in America.

The kids and I get pretty bored when we are stuck in the house for days so I have put together a list of 10 things to do if we get snowed in.

1. Redecorate your walls (you may be staring at them a lot while you’re stuck indoors). I went ahead and took down a shelf and put up a picture gallery, with the help of my honey.20140104-194602.jpg

2. Try a new recipe, like this authentic Filipino dish. Chicken Adobo.

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Take a few pieces of chicken, pork, or beef (I usually use chicken because it’s the kids fav) and cook over medium heat in a frying pan or wok. Add fresh minced garlic (or garlic powder) and onions sliced or diced, it’s up to you. Dabble in some soy sauce and cover pan with lid and let it all cook together. Should be done in 20 to 30 minutes (or until chicken is cooked). In the meantime, make some white rice. I use a rice cooker, but if you don’t have one, follow the directions on packaging for cooking rice on the stove. Pour chicken adobo over rice in a bowl and dinner is served. It’s so tasty too. I haven’t met a single person that doesn’t love it.

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3.  Organize the Clutter.

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If your family is like mine, you know that areas that were once in perfect order can easily become over cluttered.  Take a look in those drawers and clear out what you don’t need.  Being trapped indoors is the perfect time to organize areas like book shelves and put random papers and folders where they belong.

4.  Work on some DIY projects.

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Get creative and start working on those DIY projects you’ve been dreaming you had the time to do! I did a couple of Shadowbox frame projects to add to my picture wall, but you can work on whatever you want.

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5.  Clean, Polish, & Disinfect.  Make everything sparkle.

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Okay so maybe your house looks clean already, but it could always be cleaner right? How about taking this time to break out the items you may not use every day, like the wood furniture polish. Go ahead and bust out those disinfectants too and sanitize everything. What better time for this than during a winter snowstorm (and cold and flu season, I might add)?

6.  Play with your kids.

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If you have wished you had more time to play with your kids, now you do. If the snowstorm has made it impossible to leave the house and get to work, look at it as a free pass for some quality family play time. Work hard, play hard right?

7. Learn something new.

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Today I used the resources I had to learn how to use Open Office Writer. There’s no better time to surf the web or thumb through books to teach yourself how to do something new.

8. Pamper yourself a little.

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Yes. I’m a mother of two Pre-K kids and I wash a lot of dishes. Can you tell? I swear I just painted those things a couple of days ago and already, they are ready for some TLC. Take a little time for yourself if you can. Take a bath, moisturize that dry winter skin, take a nap, or for goodness sake paint those nails!

9. Read something.

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It’s rare that I get a chance to sit down to read a magazine (aside from the waiting room of my kids Doctor office, between chasing them of course). Being cooped up inside leaves plenty of time for chores, organization, play time and even a little left for some leisurely reading. Enjoy it while you can!

10. Love, laugh, smile, and hug. A LOT.

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Take some time to love on your main squeeze. Being stuck in the same place with the same people for days can irritate anyone, but instead of bickering, snuggle instead. Who would you rather be stuck indoors with during a blizzard?  You’re probably looking right at them. Enjoy your family, and the love of your life.

Stay warm Midwest folks!

Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

Wear your heart on your sleeve
Many of us have heard the phrase, “Wear your heart on your sleeve”, but what exactly does that mean?

I have my own ideas about the definition of this phrase and it is based on describing many of my closest friends, and even myself as well.  This is probably why we are so close.

It basically refers to people who put themselves out there. They expose their true self to those around them. They have a hard time pretending to be someone else. They struggle with hiding their feelings. They do not feel it is necessary in all situations.

If they are upset, it is evident. Even when they are not open about their disenchantment, it is clearly written all over their face.  They don’t expect anyone to take it personal, because they wouldn’t if it were the other way around.  They realize the world and the people in it does not revolve around them.

If they are happy, everyone knows it. They exude happiness and it rubs off on others. They love to spread the joy.

When something is on their mind, they speak up. When they need advice, they ask for it. Usually though, they just need to talk about it.

They do not like to burden others or bring anyone down, but discussion is therapeutic to them.  This is why they are good listeners as well.  They understand the concept behind this.

When they love, they do so with all their might. They are considerate; even to the point of failing to consider themselves and their own needs in certain situations.

They put others first and themselves, last. They are typically selfless people. They can adapt to having less for themselves if it benefits someone they love in some way.

They are generous, giving people. They would give you a bigger portion of food and deal with less, even if they are left hungry. They would use their last dime to drive over to comfort someone in a time of need.

They see that they are full in other ways. Having peace of mind that your belly is full is what satisfies them. This makes these type of people happy, even if they are still a little hungry.

They are comforted by the fact that they could be there for you in your time of need, even if there was nothing in it for them.

This is because they are loyal, true friends and companions. Among the best a person could ask for, if given the opportunity.

Sadly, these little sacrifices usually go unnoticed. At times, what once was a quality that was appreciated, is now expected. Sometimes, it is even taken advantage of.

People tend to forget to feel grateful for the considerate and selflessness of these actions, regardless of how big or small they are. Not everyone will reciprocate this type of treatment.

All of this is not surprising though.  We live in a society that encourages individuality, and judgement has gone viral.

We are told to think of ourselves before others. We are told to do what makes us happy because if we are not happy, then how can we make anyone else happy.  We are told to weed out those who seem negative and to only surround ourselves with those we feel are positive.

Think about that though. When someone who wears their heart (their emotions) on their sleeve asks you to lend your ear as they express something that has upset them, many will decide that this person is negative.

They will cut them out of their life completely.  It sounds somewhat harsh and cruel if you ask me.  That is, of course, if the other person meant no harm.

Some call them blunt, others call them cold-hearted.  That is because they typically don’t sugar-coat anything. They are realist; They are raw, they call it how they see it and they never mean to offend.  If you were to oppose they would listen and value your opinion as well.

They are open-minded. They are aware that others may have a different perspective or beliefs, and they embrace those differences, whether they agree or not.  It usually does not change the way they treat you.  Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and thoughts.  They understand that one persons feelings, opinions, or beliefs do not hold more value than another persons feelings, opinions, or beliefs.

What matters most to them is to keep their own self-image intact. They do not react out of spite or to prove a point, but they stand by their own values just as others do as well.  They respect others rules, beliefs and values, but they will not subject themselves to partake in those if it makes them uncomfortable in any way.

An example of this:  If one had a friend that was anti-gay marriage, would you invite a friend who you knew was pro-gay marriage to attend an anti-gay marriage rally?  If you did invite that pro-gay friend to such an event, would you be upset that they declined?  I doubt it, because you should have known better.  Everyone is entitled to their own values, but you should never expect others to change their own values, even if you feel your values are better in some way.

You can respect and value another person and their values without having to sacrifice your own by conforming.  The fact that you can still be a friend to someone with viewpoints or beliefs on the opposite spectrum is proof of this.

Being so mutable and accepting of the human race and all their flaws, difference of values, and being open-minded can create problems though, because others may expect them to conform. This is because they are so adaptable and accommodating. Boundaries can easily become crossed.

This type of person is told to be political about things. That is peculiar because aren’t politicians generally thought of in a negative light for being dishonest and selfish?  That seems to be the consensus I have seen in regards to many politicians lately, yet that is not to say that all feel this way.

The bottom line is though, that sometimes the most misunderstood people are actually some of the most caring and kind people, if people would actually take the time to get to know them.  And sometimes, those that seem to be the most wonderful people can actually turn out to be just the opposite deep down.

I feel like people avoid getting close to those who wear their heart on their sleeve because it makes them uncomfortable.  No one likes to be put on the spot.  People fear judgement, even if they judge others themselves.  Many are more comfortable living an existence full of relationships that are only “surface relationships”.  Many don’t care to have deeper, more meaningful relationships because it scares them.  Exposing yourself can make you feel vulnerable, and most shy away from that.

What I want to say to those of you that do live life with your heart on your sleeve is, please don’t change.  Do not let others put you down.  Do not allow them to change who you are.  Don’t allow them to take advantage of your adaptability and open-mindedness and definitely don’t allow anyone to take away from who you are in any way.

Please don’t allow the judgements or the decisions of others taint you in any negative way either.  For example, if you feel someone is negative all the time because they are always coming to you with their problems, you are only tainting your own spirit with negativity by shunning this person instead of trying to help them by being there for them.  As long as this person is not harming you in any way and has good intentions, they deserve your help.  If you cannot help, they at least deserve an open ear.

It just seems to me, that it is very selfish to expect that everyone around you should be pleasant and in a great mood all the time.  It is absurd to expect that the world should revolve around you as well.  Realize that there are always going to be things that others don’t favor in you as well, yet they tolerate it and they treat you no differently.

I do believe that there is a time and place for such discussions.  If you are having a bad day, particular social settings may not be favorable for sharing your feelings or expressing your anger over a particular issue or problem.  It is always a good idea to be mindful of others in that aspect, even if you mean no harm.  At times, you must learn that you must put on a pleasant face for others and that should not be considered being fake because you are doing it for those people.

You can pull someone aside individually if you really need to speak up or answer honestly that you just aren’t having the best day and state that you don’t mean to offend.

The point of all this is though, that you can wear your heart on your sleeve, if that’s who you are, but realize that not everyone will like the color of your shirt. It is a great quality to have, especially once you have learned to balance this quality and apply it with that knowledge.  Although you may have a heart of gold, some will only pay attention to the color of the shirt you wore that day.

 

The Silence & Time

The Silence & TimeSometimes I feel like the room is spinning.  The noise of my daughter’s Littlest Pet Shop YouTube videos playing on the TV, the sound of Baby Genius songs blaring from the Laptop, Ryan singing Christmas songs using the wrong words to amuse the kids, and himself…and me, with a million things on my mind, in the midst of it all.

Every five minutes, my daughter asks me for something and every 10 minutes my son latches on to my leg, desperately screaming for me to pick him up. He grabs for my hand to lead me upstairs to let him play with water in the bathroom sink.

Every morning, after the kids are fed I clean up the mess from the night before.  The dishes from dinner and breakfast, the toys scattered across the floor.  Clothes from the six outfits my daughter had tried on the previous day to wear for an hour, that later ended up in some room, on some floor.  Crayons and markers with caps missing, dried up and useless from being left out all night.

The shoes.  So many shoes.  Shoes in every room, in closets, under beds, behind couches and chairs and on the stairs.  Eight feet reside in this house and we have enough shoes to supply a small village.  We trip over them and get angry.  Then we continue walking, leaving them behind to trip over them again and again.

Where are the socks?  I have no idea.

Strange pieces of what could have possibly once been a bagel or toast on my daughters movie shelf; Only discovered when my baby boy walked up munching on it.  Random bits of noodle stuck to his leg. The case of the missing sugar cookie solved when he is found in a corner, silently chewing up his sugary discovery.

I’m beginning to think he knows what he’s doing.  That he stored those treats away, like a squirrel stashes nuts away for winter.  Where did those things come from?

My 7 minute showers interrupted by little hands with even smaller fingers, poking through the crack under the bathroom door.  Little fists against wood… pounding, pounding, pounding until my 5-year-old decides to open the bathroom door and they both come crashing in excitedly, trying to push each other aside to get ahead of the other.

They pull the shower curtain open and start undressing to join me.  Eyes filled with joy with only the prospect of a shower or bath with mommy;  Exuding the same level of excitement they would attain from chasing after an ice cream truck on a hot, summer day.

I hurry to finish, wrap up in a towel, turn the shower into a bath and let them bathe…as I sit on the toilet with the seat covered to supervise; Dripping wet and cold, with only the thought of how I almost made it through an entire shower without them this time.  I decide every time that the next time I’ll be quicker.

The trips to the store.  Ashley dancing through the isles, eager to find something she can ask for when she promised she wouldn’t.  Jackson standing up in the cart every chance he gets, wondering why he can’t wander around to walk just as his big sister does.  Strangers who are shopping, stopping to look at things with their carts left in the center of the isles and their bodies blocking the spaces next to it.  It’s a very dis-pleasurable experience, grocery shopping.

Sometimes we get a chance to be alone.  I shut things off when no one else is home.  It gets so quiet in here that I don’t know what to do with myself.

Ryan sits with his notebook and writes lists and lists of things down.  His notebook, which is one of a thousand.  Stacks and stacks of Ryan’s notebooks, in closets, on shelves, on the floor by chairs and beds, and in the car.  Notebooks, notebooks and notebooks… everywhere.

Where are the pens?  I have no idea.

The silence.  Then and only then, it makes me ache for the noise of the children screaming.  It beckons me to wish for sounds of the kids playing, or to hear them laughing.

The time.  The time then, leaves me lost with feelings of no direction.  No child asking me for something.  No tug-of-war over a toy to break up.  No one to take care of.

When they are gone, only silence and time is left behind.  Silence we choose to not fill, and time we don’t use effectively.  Instead we just are…as if we have no other purpose.

10 Things My Children Have Taught Me

  1. 10 Things my Children have taught me  That these three, 4-letter words:  Love, Hope, & Fear mean more than you ever realized prior to having children.
  2. That we, as adults complicate the simplest of ideas or processes.  Children teach you how simple things can be.  For example, my daughter says quitting smoking should be easy.  She tells my parents that all they have to do to quit is to stop buying them and stop smoking them.  You can’t really argue with that, huh?
  3. That even when placed in an empty, padded room, I can assure you that they will still manage to find a way to get hurt.
  4. They can manage to break, disappear, squeeze through something, spill or color on something in the time it takes you to reach down to pick something up.  You have to keep a constant eye on them.  I have even been working on blinking one eye at a time to reduce the amount of “accidents” that happen.
  5. They will have to urinate or have a bowel movement the second you pull that soiled diaper off them.  It will either get on you, your floor, or in the fresh diaper you just put them in.
  6. That you are not allowed to relax, do anything for yourself, eat anything by yourself, without involving them in some way or being asked for something.
  7. They will always love you.  Even when you tell them no or tell them they are wrong.
  8. You will always love them.  Even when they tell you no or tell you that you are wrong.
  9. That life is full of ideas and concepts even you have never thought of, or had long forgotten.  Children open your eyes and mind to a world you have forgotten; The world through the eyes of a child.
  10. That you are stronger, more patient, more understanding, more selfless, and more loving than you think you are.

Of course, there is so much more that my children have taught me.  I couldn’t possibly list everything and as time progresses and they grow, I am learning new things every day.

We often times focus on everything we need to teach our children and don’t even realize all the things having children has taught us.  Making a list such as this one can really help put things into perspective, and can add a little humor to parenthood as well.

What have you learned from your children?  What has being a parent taught you?

Reflection of This Year

I have been trying to look to days passed as this year nears its end.  I want to take the time remember all that has happened this year.  At times, this can be a tedious task; like thumbing through file after file in a room as big as a warehouse, filled with boxes that are not labeled.  Which ones contain the memories of this year?

Time seems to disorganize such things as we get older and busier, especially if one has children.  Children, and their super-charged growth, superhuman reserves of energy, and infinite curiosity.  This is all I remember, for the most part.

Questions asked and answered.  Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners made.  Cupcakes baked, birthday’s celebrated, gifts bought and opened in delight.  Little, soft bodies bathed.  Hair combed, brushed and braided.  Bottoms powdered and diapered.  Little bodies clothed.  Lullabies sang, children slumbered, keystrokes, alarm clocks, sunrises and sunsets.

Dishes washed, carpets vacuumed, toilets scrubbed, floors mopped, clothes freshly laundered and put away.  Seasons came and went.

Winter snow for making snowmen.  Spring-time planting of purple mums.  Summer fun in the backyard sprinklers and barbeques were always fun.  Fall came, leaves covered the grass.  My daughter and niece buried in piles of orange, red, green and brown vegetation, laughing as the sun set.  Temperature has grown colder, we tell the kids to stay inside.

Holidays celebrated and family time.  Stories told with laughter.  Arguments over silly things, the stress of daily hassles.  Friends who called for advice, or just to simply think out loud.  Loyalty and freedom, choices that were made.  Bumps and bruises, cuts and scrapes, a whole lot of Bandaids.

This year has brought so many things, I’ll never see again.  A baby boy who learned to walk, a little girl who made her first best friend.  My heart is filled with love, and teary eyed I get.  To think of the days past this year; Ones I hope to never forget.

Take time to reflect on the things, that have happened throughout the year.  Remember the big events as well as the small.  You will never have quite the same year again.

Give Thanks and Have a Coin Toss

This year will be the first year that Ryan and I are hosting a small gathering of family for Thanksgiving.  Last year, I had invited my family over.  I was so excited at the thought of preparing an entire Thanksgiving meal, myself, for the first time.  Everyone ended up having other plans so we didn’t end up making anything at all.

Now that there are going to be some guests over for dinner this year, the worry has set in.  I am a decent cook and I love trying new recipes, but this whole turkey thing scares me.  I have been calling my mom to ask her questions about what I have to do to the turkey to prep it for roasting, and the instructions she gave me were very intimidating.

I’m going to have to reach inside the body cavity of this thing and pull its innards out.  The heart, gizzards, turkey neck and whatever else is in there.  I don’t think I can do it!  Well, I can of course, but I really don’t want to – not that part! I handle raw meat all the time, but I’ve never made anything I had to pull organs from.  The thought of this disgusts me.

In an attempt to get out of having to perform this necessary step, I told Ryan that I would prepare the entire meal myself, and that his only job would be to handle the turkey innards extraction portion.  He said no way.  It seems he wants to do it even less than I do.  I have been trying to barter with him about it all day.  I think I’m getting close to having him agree on having a coin toss to decide who has to tackle this chore.  We’ll see.  If the coin toss idea doesn’t work, perhaps I can think of some other type of incentive.

Aside from the anxiety over the turkey, I think the rest should be fairly simple.  Since our gathering will be small, I am not getting too crazy with side dishes.  I think I’ll settle with the basics; Mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing for the turkey, homemade dressing as a side (a family recipe), a big pot homemade noodles (also a family recipe), dinner rolls, and a green bean casserole (that my sister is bringing). My mom always made two dressings; the regular and an oyster dressing.  She also made sweet potatoes (but I don’t like those), and cranberry salad (which was good, but I still don’t favor it).  Because of those reasons, I won’t be making those items.

There is this pumpkin pie crunch recipe I came across in October that I’ve been dying to make.  I considered getting the ingredients to make it for Thanksgiving, but I decided against it.  I think I have enough work ahead of me already, especially since this is my first attempt at preparing everything myself.  My dad is bringing some pies.

I remember all those years I watched my grandma and mom wake up early and slave away in the kitchen while the men sat around drinking beer and watching football.  The kitchen counters were always covered with pot holders and ingredients, and it was always hot in the house since the oven had been on all morning.  Since there was only one oven with two racks, mom would have to push things around to squeeze a dish in around the turkey.  It was like a jigsaw puzzle of food.  I am going to have to come up with a game plan on how this is going to go when I cook this feast as well.  My guess is that the turkey must go in first and I’ll prep the rest as that cooks.

It is going to be crazy.  I have seen how crazy it was for my grandmother and mother.  It’s like there was all this time, preparation, sweat, and work put into this feast and we were all so excited to finally sit down and eat.  We would eat until we were stuffed and carry on with whatever we were doing before while the same people who spent days and hours prepping and cooking were back in the kitchen doing dishes, putting food away, and cleaning up everyone’s mess.  Thinking back, I don’t think we gave the women (mom and grandma) enough credit for things such as Thanksgiving dinner.

I know the point of Thanksgiving is to give thanks, but remember that it’s not just for the food.  Remember to give thanks to all those who took the time, put in the hard work and made the feast that you are thankful for.  These people put in a lot of work to make sure everyone can sit down together and feast on some, hopefully, excellent food.

Only two days to go!  Have a great Thanksgiving everyone.  If this is your first time preparing this feast yourself,  good luck to you!  As for me, I’m going to get Ryan to have a coin toss now.