slide show

Friday, August 31, 2012

Family Faves {tomatoes & sweet basil salad}

Good golly it has been a while since I've posted a family fave!

My papa is having a bumper crop of tomatoes this year.  And I was so very happy to have a special delivery of cherry, grape and early girl tomatoes.  But they needed to be used soon.

A fresh tomato salad is surprisingly (or not) a side dish that most of my kiddos love!  It's so simple and so fast to make!  Even the ones that aren't huge tomato fans like it!  And really?  Does it get better than my kiddos chowing down on tomatoes?  Yes, it does because it's easy and fast for super-busy me to make, and cheap too when tomatoes are on sale!  The trifecta of mommy food prep!
Honestly I need something healthy to balance out the chili dogs that I served for dinner last night.

Both Jude and Sunny love tomatoes and eat them like candy!  I love that.
The orange fingernail polish?
Goodness how does she continue to get cuter?
We start with fresh tomatoes.  (never refrigerated or tomatoes lose flavor and the texture changes)
Chop 'em up

Encourage Mimi to eat a couple little grape tomatoes.  And it's not like she doesn't like them, but she's not a huge fan of tomatoes... yet.
I try to keep fresh basil growing year round, because...
...I'm far too cheap to buy the fresh stuff at the store.
...I'm also far too lazy too drive to the store when I need some.
...dried basil just doesn't hack it in most instances
...it's an easy plant to grow in a pot, and the littles just love to grow anything!
...I use it all the time.

Then I add some coarsely chopped up some basil.
Yes, that is Mimi sitting on the counter with her shoes on right next to where I'm preparing food.  We subscribe to the theory that extra germs help build our immunity system.  Still keeping her close, and it's often where she prefers to be at this busy time of day.  
Sprinkle on some salt, (I prefer Kosher or sea salt for this salad) and gently toss it together.

Drizzle on some EVOO and balsamic vinegar.
A few minutes later, ('cause that's how much time I often have to make a side dish for dinner) and it's done!

Pretty hu?


If I had some mozzarella lying around, I would chop it up and add it too.  But honestly, my food budget is super tight, and it doesn't have to be in there to make the salad super yummy.  

Mimi, who would only eat 2 grape tomatoes when I was preparing the salad, ate 3 servings at dinner, and there wasn't even a single bite left in the serving bowl by the time dinner was done.  

Score one for the crazy mama! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In the midst of a mess...

Baby girl is so tired every single day she comes home from school.
I mean exhausted!
She's grouchy and surly and hungry and a general bear to be with.

Yesterday while I was getting dinner ready, somewhere between the chili dogs and the cantaloupe, I realized it was amazingly quiet.  You know the kinda of quiet I mean, right?
Not the Oh-I'm-so-very-relaxed-and-taking-a-bubble-bath-with-candlelight type of quiet.
But the Uh-oh-someone-is-surely-up-to-something-and-this-can't-be-good type of quiet.
I realized Tess was MIA.

This is what I found in Tess and Mimi's closet.
A mess!
Hang on a minute...
Baby girl was crashed!  Sitting on a box of winter clothes, nestled away the way she still does when she's stressed.  She was sound asleep!
Happy Hump Day y'all!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The stuff we don't talk about

Liz wrote and asked,

How do you refresh yourself when you get in to a parenting slump?   I am kind of in one now where I feel weary and beaten down a little and I don’t get a break.   I always wonder how other moms refresh themselves. 

Keeping it real, my knee jerk reaction to Liz's question is... You mean we can refresh ourselves?  Who would've thunk?  Sign me up!  I want me some of that!  Just tell me where they're selling it, 'cause I'm gonna buy bucket loads!  

I am the epitome of weary and beaten down these days. 
A break?   
What's that all about?  
Huh?

Currently I am definitely feeling weary.
And tired.
Beaten down.
With no break in sight.

Which of course leads to...
Feeling cranky.  
And snarky.  
Overly sensitive.
Argumentative.
Guilt ridden.
And generally not real fun to be around.  
I am totally aware that I wouldn't even want to be in the same house as me right now.  
But somebody has to do the important stuff like make the PB&Js and clean the pee off the seat so here I still am.  

Settling back into reality and our busy lives after our summer stint at Little Cabin in the Woods, is always a tough transition for me.  For various reasons, I'm not getting much sleep these days.  Jude spilled $16 worth of trail mix on the floor.  Sunny locked her keys in her car.  One of the dogs jumped up on the counter and ate lunch.  Patch started throwing up this morning... only after I thought he was trying to pull a fast one.  Papa is out of town on business.  The dust bunnies are taking over, not to mention the fingerprints.   Miscellaneous other children who shall remain nameless are about to drive me over the edge.  It has been no less than 251 degrees outside for months now, and my dishwasher hasn't worked in over 2 years!  
But as much as I'd love to blame it on something, I'm the only one to blame.  
Because I'm the only one who has the power to change my state of mind.  

You know I'm writing this stuff down more for myself as anything else, right? 

Long story short... I find myself tired, weary, and beaten down more often than I'd like to admit.  

I used to think that perfect mamas didn't feel this way.  And maybe I still do I mean.  We're not suppose to admit how hard it is and that being a mama has the better of us.  Mamas are suppose to be happy and loving all the time... right?  We're suppose to love our job and so totally satatisifed that we don't have a moment of regret or sorrow.  Right?
But I'm old enough to realize that perfect mamas doesn't exist, and we all find ourselves in a bad frame of mind occasionally.  
But here's my light bulb moment that I've known all along, but only come to recently appreciate---It's all about what I do with our reaction to being tired and weary that matters.  
After all, that's the stuff that I want to role model to my kids anyway.  I've been preaching to my children for years now.  We can't control our world, just our reaction to it.  
So why shouldn't I take my own advice?

Truth be told, I don't think there is a quick fix for mama burn out.  At least I've never found one.  A weekend away or a massage is great, but I find that the thing that contributed to my burn out, which is almost always me anyway, is still right there when I get back.  I think it's more a matter of how we mamas live our days and how we deal with those inherent stresses of being a mom.  But Liz, I'm a linear kind of gal that loves me some practical suggestions!  So rather than look for a quick fix that will likely lead me right back to where I started, it works better for me to have strategies in place all the time to help deal with the stresses of being a mama 24/7.  


So, Liz, I know this isn't quite what you meant.  Being a mom is tough work, and if there was a magic refresher pill, I'd be an addict by now.  But this really is what I try to do and take into consideration when I'm feeling "weary and beaten down a little and I don’t get a break." 

1)  Pray.  No matter how bad it gets, I know I'm not in this alone.  God, who loves me more than I can imagine and has my back, is always my confidant, biggest cheerleader, and best advice giver.  And He has already given me absolutely every single thing that I need to be the best mama, better than any other woman, to my children.  If I can put my faith in this, (and that's easier said than done) the rest is gravy.  

2)  Do what you love.  I love photography.   Photography has the power to whisk me away to another world.  When things are getting stressful, (and by stressful I mean that Boo is terrorizing the screeching younger children) I often pull out my camera simply because it makes me happy.  Even better if I can include my children in what makes me happy.  Sometimes we go on a "photo safari," or I use the occasion to take early (or late) birthday pics of one of the kiddos.  Perhaps you love reading, knitting, writing, painting, craft projects, or geo-cashing.  Do something you love when parenting is getting the best of you, and if you can get the children involved in it, then it's a win-win solution for all!


3)  It's ok to hide.  Sometimes I know when my mood is turning.  But sometimes it's Papa that's the first to notice my beaten-down demeanor.  Isn't it funny how often we moms don't even know how weary we're getting?  When Papa notices this, he might suggest that I go get a pedicure, take a little nap, enjoy a bath, or just go away somewhere alone.  No matter who notices it, 20-30 minutes alone with just my thoughts is an amazing refresher that can restore my perspective.  


4)  Change the scenery.  Go grocery shopping.  Run to the bank.  Drop off those hand-me-downs.   If you're anything like me, there's a list a mile long of errands that need to be run anyway.  And while you're at it, put on the comedy station in the minivan to release those endorphin and change your mindset.  A change of scenery can can kill two birds with one stone!  There was a particularity difficult season in my life many years ago, when I would plead to run all errands anytime of day, just so I could get away in the car and listen to comedy radio.   It didn't solve any problems, but during that season, it helped keep me sane.  

5)  Keep your marriage strong.  Keeping a marriage healthy is work.  In the 21 years Papa and I have been married it has definitely gone through different seasons with trials, smooth sailing, and everything in between.  But all the while we work on it.  We try to have "date night" at least once a week, even if it's just to the grocery store.  We have become big fans of Applebee's (only a few minutes from our house) 2 for $20 on a weeknight after the younger children have gone to bed.  A weekend away alone at least once per year is a priority.  We have rules for fighting fair.   And a strong marriage is pretty much a necessity for co-parenting.  

6)  Seek out your closest girlfriends.  I have 3 women in my life I trust completely.  They know my secrets.  We have similar ideals and values, although age doesn't seem to matter.  They know my faults and even my children's faults and still love all of us unconditionally.  I work at these 3 relationships much like I work at keeping my marriage healthy.  And when we get together, which we make sure happens regularly, we discuss the tough stuff as well as the celebrations.  I can call any one of them up any time with any issue and often do.  And they do the same with me.  A sounding board that loves you and has your back, does a world of wonders.

7)  Say your sorry, and keep your big "but" out of it.  No matter what, there are those moments when I mess up big time.  I yell.  I say the wrong thing.  I lose my temper.  And countless other sins.  You know the ones, the times you regret and can never take back.  My children deserve to hear sorry.  So I suck it up and apologize, and be sure to do it without a big "but."  None of "I'm sorry I yelled, but you know that you need to clean you room."  'Cause a real apology doesn't have a but in it.  


8)  Get some sleep.  One thing I know about myself is that if I'm not getting enough sleep, (which let's be honest, happens quite frequently with young children in the house!) I can be a bear.  So a power nap (30 minutes max, or I just can't seem to wake up afterwards) when Mimi is napping helps so so much.  I've long gotten over feeling guilty about sleeping midday.  I try to go to bed early when I didn't sleep well the night before.  A happy, well-rested mama is worth more than a load of folded laundry or clean dishes any day! 


9)  We've now come to the TMI portion of the blog... consider what time of the month it is.  I know there are a few days each month that find me particularity... what's the technical word for it... whackadoodle emotionally sensitive.  I know it's not this way for all women, but for me it definitely happens.  During these days, I try to keep my head down.  I try not to confront the big stuff.  If there are any issues that need to be addressed, I differ the discussion a few days.  There's nothing here that says to dismiss my feelings, but hormones can play a real role in a woman's state of mind so I might as well acknowledge and deal with it.  

So there you have it, Liz.

Does it always work?  Nope.
Do I always remember to do this?  Not even close.
Do I still get tired and weary?  Totally. 
Do I make mistakes?  Oh yea.  
Is it easy?  No way!
But do I try to do better?  Absolutely. 
Does it help to have a plan?  For sure!
Am I still learning from my mistakes?  Yep.
'Cause there really isn't a better alternative for my family and me.  
I've told myself this mantra countless times, Do the best you can do with what you have at the time.  And give the rest rest to God.  
'Cause in the end, that's all we really have anyway.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Snapshot {Splash Pad}

5D Mark II, 50mm prime
ISO 200, f/8, 0.8sec
Post processed in Lightroom 4
It was night so I had my ISO cranked up (6400) for the remainder of these pics, but for this one, I wanted to turn it back down and use a slow shutter.  I found a planter to set my camera on and set it down and used an extra long shutter speed.  I love the way some of the kiddos are still visible, but blurry so you know they are still playing about.  I also love the way the slower shutter made the water movement blurry while the reflections and palms are still crisp and clear.  
.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     . 
Papa and I forewent our date night (read - couldn't find any good movies worth seeing anyway) and decided to take the little ones out for a special evening of fun.  
For all my complaining, living in this city of affluence has it's advantages.  Like this amazing splash pad at a newer shopping area.  
This city is loaded with splash pads, but what I love about this one is not only is it open at night, but the LED light make it even more fun!
Of course Tess and Jude got right in an loved it!  
Until they ran directly into each other and Jude immediately got a gushing bloody nose.
Mimi on the other hand, wasn't sure at all that this was a good idea.
Obviously, she needed a big brother to help her.
And luckily she had just the perfect one there to help her out.  
Oh Boo, I love you so much.  You have a heart that makes a mama smile!
Around 8pm, it was still in the mid 90's, so I was happy to get my tootsies wet too. 
Tess started to melt down early.  Despite a nap, she was so tired and a bit overly stimulated.  
Despite the fact that she said she "never ever wants to come back to this place," I'm pretty sure she had a good time too.
There is even a candy store to peer in to and dream!  
I think we'll need to go back and pick out a lollipop... or two... or three.
Despite the fact that it was tough to get our bums out of the house, (why is the last minute loading of the car always so hard?) it was fabulous date night!

Ni Hao Yall

Friday, August 24, 2012

Photo Gallery {twirl}

Sunny humored me when I asked for a model for a photo assignment.  Actually she more than humored me, she put her all into it!  These shots were taken in a parking lot and cars were driving by, and it didn't phase her a bit!  We are so unalike in so many ways.
This is SO who she is right now!  So carefree and loving life!
Luv this image!  Luv her!

Linking up this Friday with, Fabulous FridayFoto Friday, Favorite Photo Friday,  shoot.edit.submitLadies Holiday, and photo friday,

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

56

Oh summer... Where did thou go?
Why-ist is thou still so stinkin' hot if thou has gone?
Why-ist must thy head still sweat and thy pits still stink-est so?
Sorry for the amazing Shakespeare rendition.
Heat does that.

One last memory of our time in the pines, and I pinky promise to be done.

Jude participated in his first golf tournament at the end of our summer.
He scored a 56!  That's good right?
He only played 1 hole.  No, that's not good at all.
For kicks I looked back at the first tournament I posted on the blog, and it was 4 years ago, Boo's very first tournament, and he was just Jude's age.  (It's my blog and I can have run on sentences if I want.  You hear that, Miss. Perkins!  I don't care if you were a nun.  You don't scare me anymore!) 
Boo scored a 64 on one hole that first year so I guess that 56 could be worse!  Oh my goodness they were all so little back then, and we were in a battle trying to get Tess and Jude home.  Flash forward 4 years, and Boo played 6 holes this year.  He took 2nd place in his division!
Congratulations, Boo!  All that practice is paying off!

And Jude... you're time will come, baby!  In the mean time, you sure are looking cute learning!
Still w-sitting.  Don't tell his physical therapist if you see her.
Goodness gracious he looks so little.  
Papa did a LOT of this during the tournament.  He's actually getting some work done.  I think.
Has there ever been more adorable golf players?  These boys are 3,4,and 4 years old.
Considering the best shot.

PS - For anyone who stuck around to the end...
a wee bit of Fire Dog for you. 
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go here.  
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