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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

When Moms Attack

I struggled to not get frustrated after reading these two articles, "Dear Daughter, Here's Why I Work" and "Dear Daughter, Here's Why I Don't Work." Go ahead, go read them. I'll just wait here for you to click back over.

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OK, so now that you've read them and formulated your own opinions, I am going to throw my thoughts at you.

1. This quote from Why I Don't Work which makes me angry. "I would feel like an utter failure if any of my kids felt the need to ask me if I loved work more than I loved them."

Wow, can I just say, even after all the negative assumptions the columnist made about the other mom in her list of why she stays at home, this one just pisses me off. The working mom isn't a failure because her daughter asked her a question and a hurtful one at that. She isn't a failure because she has a opinion and made decisions that differ from other women's. She isn't a failure because she decided to stand up and make sure her daughter knew - through a public forum - that working and the reasons you choose to do not mean you love your children any less than the parent who decides to stay home.

2. This quote from Why I Work makes me sad. "...despite my being the parent who’s almost always the one walking through the door at 6pm, the one who rarely travels for work, the one who’s keeping track of the fact that the permission slip for the field trip is due tomorrowyou’d never ask your father why he works. His love is a given that long hours at work do nothing to diminish."

This makes me sad because we live in a world where the idea that mom and dad aren't equal is common place, so common place that our children pick it up. Do we parents cultivate it? 

Sometimes, without even realizing we do. 

Sadly, so many other things are passed to our children the same way. When a parent tells their toddler son that he shouldn't wear a tutu or play with a specific toy, we are passing along gender bias. When we interact with persons of different races, nationalities, disability, etc. our kids pick up on how they should treat those kinds of people in the future. We all know that actions speak louder than words, but tend to not think about how our behavior instructs our children.

3. Which leads me to this quote from Why I Work. "I work because even at your young age you’ve absorbed the subtle message that women’s work is less important and valuableand that the moms who really love their kids don’t do it. I work because by the time you have your own daughter, I cross my fingers this will not be so."

I try every day to remember that Liam is picking up mixed messages every where he goes and from every person he sees. He is observing how the world works and is striving to learn how to function in a way that will cause himself the least amount of pain. It's hardwired into us to learn this way. It's my job as his parent (no genderfication necessary) to help him sort it out and find the path that he can follow to become the best human he can be. The best version of himself that he can be. 

I do this by not putting road blocks up with my own biases. I do this by not showing him to treat anyone unequally. I do this by reinforcing his natural inclination to be inclusive, kind, and loving to everyone.

Maybe these moms could remember that when they write their opinions to write in a way that doesn't tear someone else down to build themselves up. They each are guilty of building negative thinking towards their opposite in this particular arena. How about just saying, to their questioning offspring that while these are my reasons for working or not working, my goal is to be the best mom I can be and to teach you to respect others' opinions, choices, and actions. Just so they can know how it feels to not have to defend anything they choose if they ever are faced with the same choice.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pie + Cookies = Pie Cookies

I LOVE to cook. Give me a pantry, and pots and pans, and I will concoct a meal without much inspiration or help. In fact, give me recipe to follow and I'll probably make adjustments along the way. I think of cooking as having fun and using creativity. Every once in a while something goes wrong, but never so wrong it can't be eaten. (knocking on wood)

But baking is a whole other matter. In high school I had two very not so great baking incidences which convinced me for a good long while that I could not bake. Not anything less than I absolutely did not have the ability to bake.

Now it's 10+ years later, I've rescued myself from box mixes as the only option, and I am getting my feet wet in baking. I love making cornbread and cookies. Getting better with cakes and other breads, but I had yet to try pie.

I found a recipe for pie cookies and was intrigued enough to make the decision to stretch a little. Now this recipe calls for pre-made pie crust (2 crusts - one for top and one for bottom) and I could have gone that route, but my mom makes amazing pie crusts and I know how much better from scratch can taste.

So I hunted up a pie crust recipe, called my mom for some advice, and then promptly got cold feet and waited 3 days before diving into the project. When I finally made myself stop bowing to the fear, this is what came out:

Basically mini pies the size and ease of eating as cookies.

And of course I couldn't follow the recipe - I did not go for lemonade pie cookies, I made chocolate and blueberry. The blueberry turned out much better than the chocolate.

Also, the recipe says that with the store bought pie crusts you get about 13 cookies. But if I was going to do all that work, I was gonna get more than 13 cookies. So I quadrupled the crust recipe so I could make two different flavors.

Tips (what I learned making this): DO NOT EVER quadruple a pie crust recipe and try to make it all in one bowl. It does not work well. It throws your water requirements off, takes forever to cut in your fats, and it gets so too much to work with.
roll out the dough way thinner than a normal pie crust thickness or the cookies take too long to bake and there is way more dough to filling ratio that is yummy.

Tips from my mom:
Always use a metal mixing bowl and put it in the fridge to get nice and cold before you use it.
Put your rolling pin in the fridge too
Don't leave the dough in the fridge for too long before rolling out - like 10 minutes
If you decide to take on thir project or you love/hate working wiht pie crust, I'd love to hear your tips, tricks, and stories!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Love Day

Happy St. Valentine's Day!
So this lovely day gets it's name from a Roman Catholic Saint's Day on February 14. Oddly, nothing is really known about St. Valentine, including why he was canonized. Although lots of stories have been made up or attributed to a St. Valentine without any proof.

Geoffrey Chaucer is the reason the date is associated with romantic love. Chaucer wrote in  Parlement of Foules (1382)

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
Translation: For this was on St. Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.

I am a big fan of love. Not just romantic love, but every sort of love there is.

You can love your family, your friends, animals, nature, and strangers. You can choose to act with love. You can choose to think with love. You can speak with love. Love is highly diverse and it really is what makes the world work at its best.

With lots of love to you all!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Hell of a Week

This week was a roller coaster. This week had my head spinning multiple times. This week has way too much going on for a person like me to handle gracefully.

Bads:
Me - Sinus Infection morphed into double ear infection and by Friday morning my voice was going in and out and my throat was on fire. Let's add in an emotional funk that hit and held on hard for about 48 hours and lots of impromptu crying for no fathomable reason. And missing roughly 2 days of work between sickness and dr appts for me and munchkin.
Liam - Cold with a cough that kept getting wetter. Friday morning brought eyes glued shut from pink eye goop (which of course showed itself AFTER we left his dr appointment on Thursday)
Sean - Was actually healthy until Thursday night when hit with severe nausea. He turned whiter than a sheet within 10 minutes and lost considerable sleep overnight to finally feel a little better by Friday morning.

Goods:
Me: Baked a new sweet treat recipe that included from scratch pie crust and they turned out pretty well. And for all the illness, actually feel fairly normal, which is totally strange.
Liam - had his Parents As Teachers Assessment (very good results) and has been behaving awesomely. Little meltdowns here and there but he wouldn't be a three year old if there weren't.
Sean: Had a job interview that he thought went well

It's Friday night. This week has exhausted me. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and they are calling for snow. I can't wait to open the blinds and watch the snow fall with a cup of tea and my two favorite people. And not have anything/anyone demanding anything from us.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cauliflower is so Versitle

While shopping the other day, I found a great deal on a head of cauliflower, so I picked it up. Now we are firmly broccoli people. We regularly have to tell Liam to stop eating his broccoli and to eat something else on his plate too. So the purchase of cauliflower was met with a little resistance.
Now I know that people do some crazy stuff with cauliflower. So when I went looking for a recipe I was expecting outside the box, but I was surprised. I think the craziest use of cauliflower is as a rice substitute. Never would have thought of that one.

Instead I decided to roast it. It was wicked easy and I even fudged the called for ingredients, well like I almost always do.

Simple recipe
Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower - chopped into florets
garlic
seasoning you like - I used a Sicilian blend
enough to coat cauliflower - veg oil - i used canola

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425.
put oil and seasonings in a ziploc bag
put cauliflower in bag with oil, sip and shake (it's like shake and bake)
put in casserole dish (i suggest spraying wiht a little cooking spray to keep it from sticking)
bake for 25 minutes - stirring half way through
top with parmesean and cilatnro and broil for 3-5 minutes

I substituted a mixed shredded cheese blend for the parm and it turned out good. I would stay away from softer cheeses, but anything hard would probably work.
 It was raved about for days and only 1 serving was leftover, which is saying a lot in my house.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Art for Fun

I have dropped the ball on the blogging for 31 days. Catching a bug that makes you want to sleep for 16+ hours a day and stare at the ceiling for the other 8 will derail the best laid plans. But I bet you can guess I'm feeling better. :)

Something I did make myself do while I was sick was keep my head busy. I finished all the Rick Riordan books I talked about in Demigods Visit My Living Room. I also colored.

The crayons and other art box was still out in the living room from Liam's sickness just days before mine and I had gotten some coloring sheets - adult style - when he was sick so I could color with him.  I colored a couple different ones but this is my favorite.

I think I may start coloring more often. I really enjoyed doing it.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Suggestion for Rory

Dearest Roo (and Keva really),

Your mom said you tried to read the first book in the percy jackson series and you were't quite ready for it.

I just finished the kane chronicles and i think this might be something you'd enjoy now. i also think your mom would love to read them with you.

the main characters are a brother and sister who don't get along all that well but love each other anyway. they go on some pretty crazy adventures.

your mom will like the use of egyptian mythology. below is a picture of the first book cover. i bet you could find it at the library.



The next two, pictured below, are just as much fun!




if you decide to give the red pyramid a try, let me know what you think.

love,
aunt lauren

p.s. please forgive the lack of capitalization, my app isn't working properly.

note for keva: the mom is dead in this book, the dad is in danger, and there are quite a few creepy creatures -think about weird critter pictures in ancient egyptian art and you'll know what i mean.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Night In

What are the best plans for a friday night?

Snuggling up in a comfy chair, in a warm blanket, with something entertaining.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

sick kid activities

What do you do with a feverish toddler who refuses to sleep but feels so yucky the he doesn't even want to watch tv?

Why you pick up new coloring books and curl up on the couch together.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sick kid

We have a slightly sick kiddo. :(

Sean texted me this photo about 9:30 this morning.
Not long after he passed out on the floor.

Sean and I went on to exchange texts and phone calls through out the rest of my work day. Temp went up, lethargy picked up.

On my way home, I stopped to pick up a new kid friy thermometer.

And a small treat because he was not drinking much.
With some tylenol, he's doing a little better.

We'll see how he's doing tomorrow.

Day 10 #writeandrun31.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Break time vs. Excuse me, I'm just feeling lazy

How do you tell the difference between when you really need a break, or when you are rationalizing excuses because it just seems too hard? (prompt provided by #writeandrun31)

My family is loaded with A-type personalities. If you know my dad, you're probably nodding your head right about now. :) I'm the closest to a B in the lot and if you ask my friends (or my husband who is definitely a B), I'm an A through and through. 
Photo Credit
For people like us, this is a really hard question. Generally even when I genuinely need or should take a break, I push to do more with a feeling as if I'm not doing enough. On the flip side, I get overwhelmed when something is too big, but really needs to be done. That's when the procrastinator in my kicks in.

Typically when that happens, I turn to my favorite outlets and find a way to turn them into a "must-do" project. The TV to do list is great example of that. What am I getting out of watch 7 seasons of Buffy in a month. Could I get the same outcome taking 2 or more months, or even another week? What am I not accomplishing because I'm watching Buffy instead?

***TANGENT - Now in my defense I was in a present making frenzy when I watched all that Buffy, so I was accomplishing something else while I was watching Buffy - don't get me started on my need to do something else while I watch TV. TANGENT ENDED***

And just asking those questions leads to feeling guilty about enjoying something outside of what "needs" to be done.

I am working on this when it comes to work. (I have a boss who pushes me to find a work-life balance) Being a 1 car family helps immensely with leaving work on time and making myself just stop. I try not to think of all I have to accomplish and that it would take me months, if not years, to get it all done. Instead I focus on what needs to be done right now and what I should be planning for so I can accomplish things more easily in the future.

To say the least this is a work-in-progress thing for me.  I'd love to hear if any one is successful at this and what they do to keep that balance.

Day 9 of #writeandrun31 challenge.

Monday, January 12, 2015

TV to do list

I am a fan of stories (as if you couldn't tell). Any format will do. Television is one of my favorites.

I recently rewatched all 7 seasons of Buffy and now I'm making my way through Angel (a spin-off).

Also on deck are series 8 of Doctor Who and season 2 of Arrow.

I love immersing myself in another world, the more fantastical the better sometimes. You can learn a lot about random things when you do. I also find its just a lot of fun.

Day 8 (yup I missed day 7) of #writeandrun31

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Wallflower

Between the work party last night and a conversation about it with a co-worker who chose not to attend today, I've thinking about how strange people like my co-worker and I must seem to our more outgoing counterparts.o.

Typically parties are not my thing. I prefer one-on-one or a small group. Awkward and uncomfortable is generally how I feel unless I'm hosting the party. Watching my more outgoing co-workers I generally feel left out, envious of how easily they interact, and hopeless of ever being easy in a group which makes parties not much fun.

Also large groups of people overwhelm and wear me out. I am still recovering from last night and sadly will walk into another one tomorrow.

Embracing who I am means knowing all of that about myself and make decisions about my activities that allow me to be comfortable. Growth is good, but knowing where to grow matters.

#writeandread31 challenge day 6 (I think.)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Tired, So tired

Today has been long. Full work day, prep for work holiday party. Just rolled in and I'm so ready for bed.

It was a hit of a party. And I came home with a poster of Ghandi from the White Elephant gift exchange.

See you all again tomorrow.

Day ? (I'm to tired to remember) of #writeandrun31 challenge.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Routine

I am a person who loves routine. I get ready in the morning the same way almost every day. Accomplish tasks better when I have previously determined how to do them and when. I think I could blissfully spend my days following the same pattern, in the same order, for exactly the same time.

However, I have found that I stagnate easily when I blindly follow routine. My creative urges slumber; my desire for new ideas, activities, even people seem to hibernate.

As I sit here tonight, bundled up under blankets reading, just like every other night this week. I contemplate and even worry whether I should be changing things up more.

Day 4 of #writeandrun31.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Demigods Visit My Living Room

As a highly voracious reader, it not uncommon for me to read the first book in a series or a world and then decide to devour the entirety of what is published in the series/world. My favorite world has 43 books in it, including short story collections. I try to read all of them every couple of years, usually takes me about a month.

My newest obsessive reading binge is Rick Riordan YA books - Percy Jackson and the Olympians (5), The Heroes of Olympus (5), and the Kane Chronicles (3). Later I will probably try his 8 adult books.
The five books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympian Series.
SO that means I had a stack of 10 books on my end table - I had already finished the first three Percy books when the rest came in at the library. (hence the trying his 8 adult books later)

First let me touch on the fact that they are Young Adult (YA) books.  What are YA books you ask? Books from any genre that feature YA protagonists, tell a story about what that protagonist deals with as a teen, and is generally marketed towards teens. Does this mean its not written intelligently? Not one bit. One of things I love about YA is that the authors assume the reader is intelligent and so they create intelligent characters.

Checkout this list of things to know about YA. #16 is one of the main reasons adults read YA.

Now onto the actual stories. Things I love about the characters, world, and the writing...
Authenticity:
1. Each of the characters is a flawed, like real-life character. Each character grows throughout the story, but not so much that it would be unrealistic.

2. The dialog is what people really sound like. And the communication (and lack of sometimes) between characters and the reasons for holding back is authentic.

Fantastical:
1. 2 of the series deal with Greek and Roman mythology and the 3rd with Egyptian mythology. Fantastical yes, but educational and interesting all wrapped up together as well.

2. Real world places, adjusted to accommodate the fantastical. In the Percy series, one scene is set in the Arch. The description of riding up in the little egg elevators is down-right perfect.

The writing:
I laugh so much when I read this series. I think Rick does an amazing job of keeping the pace up, the language accessible, and imparting really great ideas.  Check out the quotes below for some examples.

The Lost Hero - The Heroes of Olympus

The Lightning Thief - Percy Jackson and the Olympians

The Lightning Thief - Percy Jackson and the Olympians


The Lost Hero - The Heroes of Olympus
This is an author I will be sharing with Liam when he gets a little older. It is probably also true that I will revisit these books on my own just for the sheer joy of the stories.

This is Day 3 of the #writeandrun31 challenge. Check out http://writeandrun31.strikingly.com/ for more info.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

PANCAKES!!!

When Sean and I started dating pancake breakfast with the full trimmings, eggs, bacon or sausage, toast, coffee, and juice, were a regular Saturday ritual. Also, we didn't care if we slept till 9 am and ate breakfast at noon.

These days both of those are much more difficult to make happen. We are still not an early rising family and we've been blessed with a child who likes his sleep. But because of the munchkin, we try to keep a fairly good schedule and still eat three meals a day, so breakfast around 11 just doesn't work well. Also, we've become much more realistic with time and $, so generally pancakes only get one partner - eggs.

My solution to the lack of Saturday morning pancake breakfast is that about once a month, I make breakfast for dinner. If I didn't, we'd never have pancakes. And little man LOVES pancakes. I mean who can blame him; they are delicious!

So this past Friday I decided it was pancake breakfast for dinner night. And we were getting special pancakes because the holidays just happened and I over bought on the eggnog - I made eggnog cookies. We had a large quantity of eggnog left and there was no way it was going to get drunk before it expired. Et voila! Eggnog pancakes!

And a special treat happened. We had to run to the grocery store for milk and a couple other staples and we saw bacon on sale. Now we are usually pretty picky about bacon. It needs a decent meat to fat ratio and usually the cheap brands don't stack up, so we forego bacon. BUT this sale was on pretty decent bacon, so we grabbed a pack to add to the dinner menu.


While Liam and I mixed pancake batter (he is the most adorable helper with cooking and baking!) Sean got to cooking bacon. Usually I would make the bacon on the griddle after the pancakes but a double batch of pancakes was on the way and Sean didn't want to wait. :)

This dinner was also different because I decided to change up the regular scrambled eggs for over easy.

I love that dinners like this make it fun for all of use to work together and do something other than exist in the living room while we each do our individual stuff.

YAY for pancakes!

This is Day 2 of the #writeandrun31 challenge. Check out http://writeandrun31.strikingly.com/ for more info.

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Challenge

Ok, so I may love to write, but writing a blog just hasn't fit with my life the last few months. And sadly, neither has working out.  I was doing pretty good until I fell down the stairs after Thanksgiving, but I haven't really gotten going again (dang you holidays and your yummy foods).

In order to try to remedy that and work on my fitness in the process, I'm accepting the #writeandrun31 challenge. Basically you promise to do something physical - running is so not my thing and I would probably hurt myself if I tried - and something creative - hooray for blogs!

If you want to join me in this lovely challenge, check out http://writeandrun31.strikingly.com/.


So for the next 31 days - February 5 - I will be yogaing and writing blog posts daily.

They say it takes 21 days to make a habit. Lets see if this will help the exercising and blogging stick a little more in my life.