Saturday, December 26, 2015

Dear Mom in the Target Parking Lot

I hate that I have to write this, but I do.  Dear mom letters are really not my thing.  I don’t even want to read them anymore.  They generally are meant to be sweet gestures, but end up sounding like a “perfect” somewhat know it all of a mom needing to be “liked”.  I get it.  We have created this culture.  We have lost our helpful nature and have become, dare I go as far to say, narcissists needing affirmation from everywhere and everyone around us.   So goes mommyhood.  Mommywars fueled by the ever need to one up the Johnsons and the Smiths and be better. 

So this is a personal story.  One that is super embarrassing for so many reasons and left me really in a bad place for about 24 hours.  Even now a few days later I relive every detail and the shoulda woulda couldas come to mind but there is a moral to this story so I will share.  Here goes….

Dear Mom in the Target parking lot,

You followed me and waved me down, screaming, “He’s just a kid.  He’s just a kid.  I’m calling the police.  I have your license plate”.  You thought you knew the story just by some tiny 5 second blurb that you saw in the parking lot and assumed that you knew how to parent better than I and you were going to have your say.  I get it.  No one wants to see people struggling with children.  We are conditioned to believe based on social media that all kids behave at all times and no one poops and if they do misbehave {or poop haha}  there is a set way to discipline.  Only there is not.  The set of circumstances and the variation in child temperament and even the amount of learning disabilities these days always is just too vast.  No one form of discipline works at all times for all kids.  You are na├»ve if you think that way. 

I’m not exactly sure what you saw, but here is what happened (most of which you I am sure did not see).  Remember you saw maybe 5 seconds.  You judged me on 5 seconds.  Let that sink in.  

Monday morning my 4 year old and I took my husband to the hospital for surgery. We stayed long enough for the dr to arrive and get him prepped.  We would have hung around and waited for him, but as life goes, he had errands for us to run.  We have been without a fridge for roughly 25 days.  The night before we had finally gone to get my brother in laws deep freeze so we would have something to use for the weeks my husband would be off recovering which meant we needed to pick up a few things.  

I have totally gotten in a just give up on life and shop for all of life’s needs at Target.  I used to grocery shop at grocery stores and then I had kids.  Now I need a one stop shop for life and Target has become it.  So, while Mark is in surgery I take G to Target.  He wants one of those atrocious giant shopping carts with the extra seat thing in front of the cart.  You need a semi license to drive one of those things.  I needed to be fast and there wasn’t one anywhere to be found so we settled on a regular cart because honestly he would have just walked anyway while I was stuck lugging some giant mommy hating cart through the store. 

We are on a mission for soup because that is what Mark and I agreed would probably be easiest on his stomach while he was recuperating.  We find that and then G decides we need to fill the cart with mac and cheese.  Seriously, he was throwing them in there.  Settle on 6 or so packages and then find the pasta sauce and some pasta.  G then decides to rearrange the whole cart as I am looking at something.  Bam, the pasta sauce goes on the floor.  We find a very nice lady and let her know.  Tell G to apologize, which he does ever so quietly.   Very nice lady says no big deal she drops things all the time LOL.  Well, there you go.  

So we continue shopping and then out of the corner of his little eye he spies that beloved behemoth of a cart and takes off running.  I finally get to him and tell him that I am not switching carts.  He throws a major fit, so I leave our cart, pick him up and cart him to the car.  We drive home with no soup for my husband and a very ticked off 4 year old who can go on and on about life’s injustices for far too long.

Finally it is time to pick up my husband, but we still need rations.  We decide to stop by Target again and my husband would stay in the car.  For some ridiculous reason I said G could go into the store with me.  I’m nice like that.  Besides I didn’t want my super tired just had surgery husband to have to listen to 20 minutes of screaming.  Again, I’m nice like that. 

I just need some soup,  a few mac and cheese, and this grabber thing my husband saw the other day but failed to actually buy.  As the previous trip went, little G began asking for everything and going so far as to put things in my cart as I turned around.  He was running off and just generally not listening.  We finally get what we need plus a little more and then he throws a fit at the checkout stand.  This is one of those super determined never gives up type of kid.  He throws himself on the floor, screams, throws things, hitting me, biting me, pretty much just causes a whole scene. 

I have to get me, a screaming G and our cart of Target nonsense back to the car so I pick up screaming G and put him at the top of the cart where I am holding him.  I guess I should also mention that he will run off and plop himself anywhere when he is mad so dodging a busy Christmas week Target parking lot requires extra safety precautions.  So at this point I am mumbling how I suck as a mom and he never listens to me and just generally questioning why everything in life has to be so difficult all while restraining an out of control 4 year old in a cart. 

Enter the know it all mom who I guess thinks I am hurting him in some way when really I’m trying to protect an out of control 4 year old from getting hurt in a Target parking lot.  So when you started screaming and then threatening me when I’m already at a stressed out state, I lost it and yelled at you to butt out and mind your own business which apparently infuriated you because you either called the police or pretended to.   I continued putting my screaming crying kid in the car as well as the groceries and still managed to put my cart in the cart corral while you stood there judging me.  Judging me on 5 seconds.  Not sure who you called, but it doesn’t matter.   I didn’t stick around because you are neither my circus nor my monkey. 

Here’s what you could have done, the moral of the story shall we.  Should you ever find yourself in a situation where you don’t like what you see, before following some unsuspecting mom through the Target parking lot screaming at her, try remembering that you don’t have all the facts and that little blips don’t tell the whole story.  Then offer to be helpful.  Perhaps this is just a bad day or a bad moment and instead of ruining someone’s life by adding stress and God forbid the cops or CPS, help them.  Had you offered to put my groceries in the car or hold my child’s hand the rest of the way, the situation would never have escalated.  By making threats you alerted the momma bear in me to protect my young at all costs.  You had a chance to diffuse the situation and you didn’t.  You passed judgement on me and asserted your perfect mom ideals on me. 

I get it though.  We live in the social media age.  In the words of my friend, we have become the cult of the child.  We live to please our children and hold them up to God size powers.  We believe that all of life’s doings must be to serve our children in some way.  Whatever happened to God first, husband second and then children?  We have become a nation that idolizes our children.  I’m not perfect in any shape or form and most days I’m just winging it and hoping for the best, but the mommy judging needs to stop.  Bring back the mommies that help. 

Photo Credit:  KT Photography 
I might not have been handling my child the way you would have.  Honestly I wish I would have handled his tantrum a million other ways, but let’s be honest, had I say, sat down at the exit to Target where my child wanted to have a tantrum and waited it out I would have been judged by someone else.  There is no winning, but I’m asking you not to take an extreme situation and make it worse.  Should you want to butt in, do it with grace and with the intention of helping. 

This probably won’t change your view.  You’ll probably still think you are right and well, that’s fine.  My purpose in writing isn’t actually for you.   My purpose is sharing a more loving way to act and react in these situations.  We are all parents doing our best and sometimes we need a little help.  So be a helper not a hero.  Helpers act in love.  Heroes in the case of mommywars act in self promotion.  Ask yourself, can I make this situation better or will stepping in cause more damage or at the worst, am I doing this for the wrong reasons?

How do you handle parenting situations when you are out and about, either with your own children or when you witness other parents having a rought time?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Dark Chocolate Coffee Frap

I LOVE a good blended coffee beverage.  My husband, however, cringes when he gets the bill.  Oops!

So, out of necessity I came up with this.  It is creamy and dark chocolaty and smooth and only 4 ingredients.

Let's get to it.  If you are looking up coffee recipes, you probably are in search of a quick pick me up and not some long drawn out story of my life views on coffee ;)  Right? 

Dark Chocolate Coffee Frap

1 cup milk of choice (I have used Cashew Milk and whole milk.  Both were equally delicious.)
1 packet Swiss Miss Simply Cocoa Dark Chocolate flavor
1-2 tsps instant coffee (I use 2!)

Add the 1st 3 ingredients into a magic bullet cup or blender.  Blend until the powders are combined well with the milk.  Add ice and blend again until no ice chunks are left.  I hate ice chunks!  My Magic Bullet usually takes 2 or 3 one minute cycles for perfection.  Add a straw and drink straight from the magic bullet cup, put in your favorite to go mug, or add to a nice dinner glass for one of those bliss filled kid free moments.   haha

Another version I make is to blend up the 1st 3 ingredients and pour over ice.  Equally as good. 

Of course you can always dress up the top of either version with some whipped cream, but please stick to homemade or a version from the can.  No tub cream please. 

So, are you a dark chocolate or milk chocolate person? 

Dark only here.  Milk chocolate makes me nauseous.  Weird, but true.

*for what it is worth, no one pays me for my opinion or for endorsing their awesome products.  Swiss Miss just happens to be my favorite hot chocolate and I found a cool way to make it cold so I could continue drinking it during the HOT TX summer.  So, there you go.

Me and my kiddos having coffee time.  That is water in their coffee mugs ;)
Just shared because he is cute.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's day 2015

In honor of mother's day and the whole social media era here's how our family runs.  Right or wrong we learn as we go.  No one loves my babies more than me and hopefully they will always know that despite our little quirks.

Bedtime: Our kids do not have an official bedtime and they don't sleep in their own beds. I sleep with my 16 month old in a Corvette bed and my 3 year old sleeps with my husband in our king size bed.  We have no routine and I have never read them a bedtime story.  True story...haha.

Breastfeeding babies:  My 16 month old still nurses to sleep and wakes to nurse a few times a night.  I am desperate for this to end, but I don't want to rush it either.  I made my 3 year old quit breast feeding cold turkey at 14.5 months.  My husband and I had a trip to Panama.  I tried a million times before, but it just wasn't working so the night before our trip I nursed him for the last time.  I came back and pretended like that part of our life never existed.  He survived.

Food Rules: We buy Organic whole milk, organic whole milk yogurt, no juice and nothing in pouches (those gross me out).  Pretty much everything else is fair game. I'm not sure what my obsession with organic dairy is, but I don't mind paying for it so why not.  I buy whole rather than 2% or lower because although my kids were over 9 pounds at birth they are on the smaller side now and can get away with it plus it is less processed.  The kids probably have yogurt and cereal for dinner twice a week or more. By the time we get home they are starving and are begging.  No point in cooking after they have "snacked".  Other than that we eat fast food I maybe only cook twice a month. Chickfila and Chipotle are weekly meals.  If my grandpa is in town then I cook every night he is here.  No real good reason for that.  It just makes sense in my head and it has become the joke in this house.

Pictures  I take tons of pictures and we meet with a photographer for birthday sessions and mini sessions throughout the year.  I plan for weeks new photos I can take of each holiday and season.  I spend far too much time in search of outfits for pictures...far too much time I tell you!

Birthday parties:  No birthday parties until they are 5...well, maybe 4.  I guess we'll see.  I don't get the point before they have friends and parties stress me out.  I get major anxiety when we are invited to birthday's of the kids at daycare.  I work so family time is precious, but I don't want to be rude and decline either.  But seriously, your 1 year old will not know if my 1 year old was there.  We do attend family parties when we are invited :)

Daycare  I actually enjoy my job and it has allowed us to get to debt free despite having to pay for daycare.  My kids have learned tons in the center they are in.  More than I feel they would have learned from me.  This is also where they get structure since we are much more on the go at home.

Raising Kids  I am 100% convinced most days that I have screwed them up royally.  I have anxiety that they will grow up to be terrible members of society or worse (what is worse, not sure).  I worry they won't have friends or they will do terrible in school or they will make bad choices or my biggest fear they will be bullies.  I worry most that I have or will fail them in ways unforgiveable.

Marriage  Having kids for the most part has been good for us oddly.  We generally see eye to eye on how we parent.  I hear some people have weekly date nights.  I wish we did, but who wants to get a babysitter so once or twice a year when we go to my parents we go out to lunch or to Target all alone.  We haven't been to a movie in years and have maybe caught about 3 movies on the couch together since we had kid #1 over 3 years ago.

Me time Hahahahaha!  Ok, occasionally it does happen.  Summer hours at work are only 1 more Friday away.  I need to make a list of things to do.  What does one do alone?

Fitness  The short version is I prefer not to have my kids around when I want to follow a workout.  If I just want to randomly do exercises then fine they can ram their Tonka trucks into me or sit on my lap as I try to do a timed wall sit. I am park mom.  I love sunny warm days and will gladly load up the car with the wagon, snacks, drinks, etc and head to the park to play on the playground and explore the trails.  I can't wait for them to truly do some hiking with me. 

Our House Overall it is generally scattered from wall to wall with toys and nothing gets dusted or swept as often as necessary but we are busy having fun.  My husband and I don't divide up tasks evenly, we just get done what needs to get done.

Technology  My 3.5 year old has been using a tablet for the last 1.5 years.  He is pretty darn good at it too.  We don't put a lot of limits on it but mostly I encourage him to play and just use it for quiet time.

That pretty much sums it up.

So, what are some things unique to your family?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Pecan Pie Muffins

Summer is coming!

I should really try making something uber healthy, but when I go on Pinterest to search 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme recipes, I always find super sweet treats on the main page and get distracted instead...and then I make them which is where the biggest problem lies.  

Somehow I came across this recipe for Pecan Pie Muffins.  I like pecan pie. Ok, I love it, but what's not to like?  Anyway, I had a bag of pecans in the freezer and they needed to be used so why not?

I NEVER follow a recipe to a T.  EVER.  I just don't.  I always change it up.  In this case I chopped up the nuts in the food processor and then added the remaining ingredients to the food processor along with 1/2 cup of small chocolate chips, vanilla extract and rum flavoring (that one was just because I had it).  Also, I used dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar.  I always sub dark for light in recipes and most times I even sub dark brown for white sugar. What I thought about adding was some cinnamon.  I really wish I had added cinnamon.  These turned out great, but they were missing cinnamon for sure. Brown sugar and pecans require cinnamon in my world, even with the chocolate chips.  

So, I just whirled up all the ingredients into a relatively smooth batter and plopped it into 10 muffin cups.  I am pretty sure her recipe says it only makes 8 muffins but there is no way mine would fit in 8.  Maybe you will find a way.  I even filled mine up pretty much to the top so I an even 12 is possible if you stick to 2/3 of the muffin cup.

I added a pecan half and a few more mini chips to the top for decor.
The best way to remove them from the muffin cups is to let them cool completely, but the baker can always choose to scoop one out with a spoon to sample if she desires :)  Isn't that every baker's rule?

Weren't there 10 when they went into the oven?  :)
Now that I am thinking about it it might be pretty tasty with some vanilla ice cream.  I think I would scoop them out a little rustic style still warm from the oven into a bowl and plop a scoop or two of a decadent vanilla right on top.  Not the cheap stuff of course, but some Blue Bell if you are in TX or some Graeter's if in Ohio. Live somewhere else? Bummer.  Just kidding.  Knowing the best ice cream in each state could be useful so let me in on the secret.

Ultimately they were pretty tasty.  The texture is more like a bar cookie with a slight lean towards a muffin.  

Pecan Pie Muffins

2 cups pecans
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup flour
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 TBLS vanilla
Optional:  1/2 tsp Rum flavoring

Oven 350 degrees.

1.  Put the pecans into a food processor and chop up into small pieces.  
2.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and blend until smooth.
3.  Scoop into well greased muffin cups.  
4.  Bake 15-17 minutes.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Taco Soup

It snowed last night.  In Texas!  In March!  It iced and snowed, well mostly iced, last week too.  So even though it is March we are still in soup season here.  We are also in spring cleaning season but I'll save my new tips on that for another day. 
Back to soup season.  My 2 favorite soups are Taco Soup and Baked Potato soup.  I make Taco more often though because my husband prefers it.  Darn husbands and their opinions.  Ok, just kidding.  I'm just glad he will eat soup.  He is pretty picky. 
Soup is fairly forgiving.  I'm not sure how it can be screwed up, but here is my basic recipe if you aren't sure where to start. Sometimes I switch it up a little but for the most part this is what goes in mine most of the time. 
It is rich in tomatoes and antioxidants (ya, I went there) and of course fiber.  While it still looks like winter, it's time to start thinking about those summer clothes.  Fiber is a good place to start.  Don't knock it until you try it. 
For all the canned goods try to get the low sodium varieties or you will never see those pretty ab muscles under all that bloat. 
King Taco soup
1 lb ground beef (I used 93% this time, but whatever is your favorite will work, just strain off the fat before proceeding)
1 red bell pepper chopped finely
1 TBLS oil
1 can black beans (strain and rinse)
1 can red kidney beans (strain and rinse)
1 cup frozen corn
2 packs of taco seasoning (definitely go low sodium here or use your own favorite sodium free recipe)
1 large can of petite cut tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
1 can of beef broth
Shredded cheese (pepper jack, cheddar, a Mexican blend, whatever sounds good to you)
Sour cream
Corn chips (Fritos style are my favorite, but a traditional tortilla chip is fine or score some style points and make your own.  My mom makes amazing flour tortilla chips that would be delicious to dip into this soup)
Extra chopped tomatoes
This can be done in a crock pot or for a one pot meal use a large pot on the stove. As a working mom that hates dish duty, this is the method I recommend.  Also, the less dishes I dirty, the more likely my husband is to clean up after dinner.  I try to make it easy on him.
1.  Whatever method you use, start by sweating out the red peppers in your large pot with the oil on medium low.  Just get a little color on them and get them to tender. 
2.  Add the ground beef and brown until done on medium. 
3.  Stir in the remaining 7 ingredients and turn to simmer.  Let simmer for an hour to develop and marry the flavors.
4.  Scoop into bowls and let each person top with their favorite toppings.  Enjoy!
Leftovers will last up to 3 days in the fridge, but know that it will get a tad bit spicier by the next day. 
This soup also freezes great.  Scoop any leftovers after the soup has cooled, into individual bowls and freeze.  Same thing on the spicier though. 
For the crockpot version, do step 1 as above and then add it and the remaining ingredients to a crock pot.  Depending on when you want to eat, is what temperature you set it.  High if you want to eat within 2-4 hours, medium for 4-6, low if you are not eating it until after 6 hours.  It will hang out just fine for up to 10 hours if your crockpot goes that long.
Now that you have tried this recipe, you can get more creative next time.  Add a can of Rotel instead of the taco seasoning or maybe in addition if you are brave.  Add ground chicken or turkey instead of the beef.  Add diced potatoes, pinto beans, green bell peppers, bacon, and/or onions.  A lot of recipes I have seen have a packet of ranch dip mix.  I'm not sure of the point to that, but it might be good.
Let me know how you like it and how you made it your own. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bed sharing

It's is well past midnight.

My baby is asleep on my right.  Husband on my left.  Toddler on a pallet on the floor. 

We are vacationing at my parents house, however this is a normal sleeping situation for us except my toddler usually sleeps in his own room. 
I am wide awake!

Looking at my angel sleeping next to me got me to thinking about the whole bed sharing/cosleeping debate.  OK maybe in my awakedness Facebook also had something to do with my sudden thoughts on this debate.  Could I possibly be connected to too many mom groups?  Ummm, yes.  The answer is yes, but some are like big scary accidents.  You just cannot take your eyes off.

Let me start by saying I did my research and I also have already done this with my first child.  I have some experience, however, you as the parent of your own child should do your own research. 
I am not going to spout out research, facts, figures or whatever but thought I would share my probably super selfish reason I bed share. Truth is I never wanted to even room with my babies.  I wanted them in their cribs from the start, but...

I miss them.

Yep, I said I miss them.  Simple as that. 

Ok so I do it for all the reasons the new age/crunchy moms give including being a nursing mom, but honestly they are cute and cuddly and so sweet and innocent at this age I can't help but want to keep them close.

I work full time. 

I have them in daycare. 

Kids grow incredibly fast. 

Newborns even faster. 

My baby has been sitting on his own all week.  He doesn't turn 5 months for another week and a half.  How are we already to the sitting phase?  Someone please tell me.  This is too fast!!!!

I simply am not ready to never have these firsts again, but this baby is my last. 

They grow and develop faster than I can catch with my eyes.  I know when they are sleeping I am not missing something grand but having them near makes me feel more connected to them. 
I love waking up, my hand already on the baby fully aware he is breathing, knowing if he is hot, cold or perfect. 

I like seeing that first morning smile.  I would hate to have that smile wasted on 4 walls that can never appreciate it.

So maybe I started doing it based on my research but I continue it because I don't want to miss any more seconds of their lives.  Working full time is my reality.  One I am comfortable with.  If you dream something different than me, then great.  I hope if that dream is not your current reality that you are on your way to making it so.  Too each his own.  Please remember this concept before hitting comment here or anywhere else.

But I think my purpose for sharing this is to say lighten up moms.  There are a million and one ways to parent children.  Everyone will tell you their way is the right way but honestly you are the parent now.  First choose no harm and go from there.  Don't get stuck on doing everything a certain way for fear of the mommy police.  You will be judged no matter what, but you have the power to have that judgment end with you.

What is one thing you do as a parent that you never thought you would do?