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Monthly Archives: October 2011

A celebration of love

Tonight I watched two best friends get married. Their love and happiness was utterly contagious. I drove home giddy with a renewed sense of hope for my own heart.

I got married when I was 20. At the time I was absolutely in love. In hindsight I can say it wasn’t a mistake, but a learning experience. We were divorced at 23. Also not a mistake. I dated (using that term loosely) for a few years after my divorce. In my mid-20’s I was eager to explore the world, to discover myself, as painfully cliche as it sounds. I became a Mom at 29. Despite my best attempts with Leia’s father at creating a relationship, it never worked out.

Truly accepting single parenthood was hard. Coming from a “broken” family, I wanted to give my daughter a mom and a dad in the same home, in love, functional, role models. When that didn’t happen I gave myself permission to grieve, but I picked up the pieces and got strong. Three months passed and I still felt bitter from time to time. Six months passed and I found peace. Twelve months passed and I found happiness.

I can genuinely say I am happy with my life. I am the best mother I can be for Leia. I do everything in my power to facilitate a relationship between her and her father. I know she is happy, healthy, and loved. Friends and family have asked when I plan on dating, finding companionship, falling in love again. The truth is, I’m no where near ready. I’m not emotionally available for a relationship. I’m too focused on navigating the waters as a parent first. On the rare occasion I get a few hours alone I don’t want to spend it on a date. I’m happy being single. For the first time in, I dunno, forever? I feel like I can say I am content with being on my own with no active plans to find a mate.

With that said, I do wish Leia had an active father figure in her every day life. I have a fantastic, supportive mom group, and I am the only single mom. There are times I listen with envy and admiration to the stories about how their kids interact with their fathers at home. I know that Leia’s father loves her, but it would be untrue to say I don’t wish she had a male role model. Or a role model for a healthy marriage.

I do want companionship at some point. I hope I’m not alone forever. When Leia is grown and off at college, I would love to have a best friend to travel the world with me. My priorities are just somewhere else right now. That’s a good thing right? It only took 30 years, but I got to a place where I am happy in my own skin. I feel complete, but capable of change.

Tonight I saw a glimpse of love that was so true and so profound it shook my comfort level and let me dream for a moment about what it would be like to have that experience. Thank goodness I wore my waterproof mascara! Thank you Nicole and Brian for reminding me that love is a beautiful thing worth yearning for. Thank you for setting the standard high. I am a better woman for witnessing your love on this special day (and no, it’s not just the wine talking….). ❤

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Mini pumpkin pies

Bakerella is one of my favorite blogs. She taught me (the world perhaps?) how to make cakepops. So I was very excited to try her Pumpkin Pie Bites. It was just as easy as promised, and delicious too! I managed to only eat one, and I topped it with cranberry sauce. Weird you say? Nothing with pumpkin and cranberry and sugar could be bad! The rest went in the fridge to reheat and decorate with melted chocolate tomorrow (because I forgot to buy chocolate this week).

Another cute topping idea? Mini leaf cutouts of pie dough sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Since it’s still Halloween season, I’ll probably go with the chocolate jack o’ lantern faces she demonstrated.

I think the cookie cutter was too big, it was hard to jam all the pie crust into each cup.

 

See the lumpy cream cheese? That's what happens when you don't wait for something to get room temperature.

 

Into the oven you go!

 

Not as pretty as Bakerella's, but I'm still impressed.

 

After cooling for about 15 minutes the centers did deflate. I probably could have let them cook a little longer to get a darker crust. Next time I would wait for the cream cheese to come to room temperature as well. This is definitely on the “make again” list!

 

Capturing memories and living in the moment

Leia and I met up with our friends Melissa and Trey for a drive back up to the Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center. We wanted pumpkins (and funnel cake). Melissa wanted to put her new DSLR to work and capture fun pictures of the kids, so I dusted off my camera and off we went.

Bates Nut Farm is the quintessential pumpkin patch experience for me. There’s animals for Leia to play with, an open field to pick pumpkins, scarecrows, corn fields, a country store with aisles of treats. They have everything – except funnel cake on weekdays. The food vendors only set up on weekends. Not that funnel cake is incredibly hard to come by, it was just part of the whole experience.

So we let the kids loose to run around the stacks of pumpkins. It was a little chilly and overcast, which I loved. It’s hard to get in the festive fall spirit when it’s 80 degrees and we’re in shorts and sandals. Coming on a weekday meant we dodged the crowds, which is a huge plus in my book. The only other groups seemed to be pre-schools and girl scout troops.

I rarely have my DSLR on me. It takes up too much room in my bag, it’s heavy, and I’m chasing around a toddler. Gone are the days I can prop her up next to something cute and snap away at her expressive face. When she started walking it was slow and cautious enough to give the shutter time to capture moments. Now she’s on top of furniture, racing around corners, playing hide and seek – I can’t keep up with a camera attached to my face. The best I can do most of the time is grab my phone and take a few grainy, blurry, low res snap shots.

But every now and then I like to take out the “real” camera, because the quality just can’t be beat. We chased the kids around, making whistling noises and saying things like “Look over here! Ohhh, what is this? No, this. This over here. Pleaseeeee look at mommy!” It’s obnoxious and I love/hate myself for being this mom:

I’m a huge advocate for living in the moment. So when I’m chasing Leia around with my face behind a camera, I worry that I’m forgetting to stop and be present. To watch her face light up when she finds a pumpkin she can lift. To hold her hand and guide her out when she gets stuck in a sea of orange. To listen to her call me mom when she’s bringing me another piece of hay. To see her get excited chasing the goats and chickens around. I want to capture the memories we make together, but I want to make sure I live them first.

That said, we had a lot of fun and took great pictures. The ones from my camera are stuck on my CF card because my card reader is broken (again). Now I have to take the card to Costco, have them put on a CD, then upload the pictures from the CD to my computer. Leia 20 years from now, if you’re reading this, I know it’s going to sound archaic. I hope you laugh at this technology the way I laugh thinking about my Grandpa’s 15 pound VHS recorder perched on his shoulder every Christmas morning.

Melissa took these great shots, thanks!

John Robert Moses has arrived!

I became an Aunt today! I’m all kinds of excited for Leia to have a cousin so close in age and location.

My sister and I have polar opposite attitudes towards the pregnancy and birth experience. I wouldn’t say I was a control freak, but I definitely wanted to soak up as much advice, information and stories of experience I could. I didn’t make decisions on a whim (we all know Leia’s name saga). Racheal? Well, she flipped through the What To Expect book and felt content without the internet (no Google or BabyCenter?!). She did ask me questions from time to time, but mostly her attitude was relaxed and nonchalant. When her OB suggested the induce her before 40 weeks because the baby was ready, even though her cervix was not, I threw a fit. I know, not my baby/body/birth experience, but I couldn’t help myself. I’m not anti-induction, I think I was mostly annoyed at my sister’s response – “He’s been delivering babies for a long time, I’m sure he knows what he’s doing.” Her OB delivered her boyfriend’s brothers. The first baby he delivered is turning 50. The man is old school. Did she ask why he suggested an induction when her cervix was only dilated 1cm and she was barely effaced? Did she ask what her other options were? Nope. Does it matter now that the baby has arrived and the birth was easy and complication free? Nope.

Racheal arrived at the hospital around 8:30 a.m. to start pitocin. They broke her water at 9 a.m. Leia and I arrived shortly after that. Since Leia isn’t allowed in the room (before or after baby, boo) my Mom and I took turns going back to visit. She was having some good contractions and begged me to tell her how much more it was going to hurt. I rattled off some words of encouragement, how she’s a strong woman, her body is built for this. I got a text at 10:30 a.m. saying she was 3cm and got the epidural.

Filthy hospital floor you say? Mersa? Bad mom...

My Mom and my diaper bag coordinate

We spent the next 8 hours walking around the hospital grounds, over to Grossmont Center, popping in and out of the room to visit and refill her ice chips. I am so proud of Leia, who handled the day like a champ. She “chatted” with people in the waiting room, filled the diaper bag with leaves and sticks from the trees outside, took a long nap in the stroller. At one point the security guard told me she was being too loud, and the sound echoed into the rooms. Really dude? It’s a busy waiting room, and those women in the rooms giving birth are screaming too loud to hear my daughter. Seriously, I heard one woman and I thought she was being murdered. I left tonight with zero baby fever.

John Robert Moses arrived at 6:52 p.m. She labored for 10 hours, pushed for 20 minutes, got two stitches – I have never seen her more happy, or in love. John was still teary. The three of them were such a beautiful little family. I’m blessed I got to be a part of welcoming little John into the world!

Now I just need to decide what I’m going to call him. John is his Dad’s name. Robert is our father’s middle name. I can’t wrap my head around calling them both John, so I guess it’s going to be John and Johnny? John and JR? He’s not a Jr. since they have different middle names. Hmm.

Three moms.

 

Hoodies = capes.

 

 

I've never seen Racheal so in love. I walked in the room and she just glowed with excitement that he was finally in her arms.

8 lb 7 oz. 20.5 inches

 

Welcome to our family, and the world, John Robert Moses!

Burgers

When I moved into my apartments I fell in love with the grilling areas by the pool. I imagined myself making gourmet kabobs, perfectly grilled chicken breasts, etc. As you can guess, I’ve used the BBQ area twice in the last 16 months.

After my first summer here, having adjusted (I use that term loosely) to parenting an infant, I realized maybe a small BBQ on my patio would get more use. I waited until this last summer to start shopping for one. Never bought it. I also never got around to buying patio furniture. Turns out that’s just fine because Leia likes the space to spread out brooms, dust pans, and other items from the closet. Poor girl doesn’t know the fun she’s missing out on with a real backyard.

The point is, any time I make burgers (which isn’t often) it’s on the stove. Stove burgers just aren’t right, even using the grill pan. Burgers are meant to be made outdoors. So I went in search of burger alternatives. For some reason, it doesn’t feel as ghetto to make a non-burger indoors. It’s just a hot sandwich.

I found two winners – both at Costco.

The first is 5th Street Grill’s Caramelized Onion Chicken Burgers. They’re really quick to heat up (toss in the microwave for a few minutes) so I can make myself lunch while Leia is eating. The package says “veggie fed, antibiotic free, all-natural poultry, minimally processed with few ingredients.”

 

The second is MorningStar Chipotle Black Bean Burgers. I hate veggie burgers. Hate them. So I was hesitant to even try something MorningStar brand because all I could picture was a bland tofu-y puck speckled with multicolored vegetables. I tried a black bean burger on the train ride to Paso Robles in August and it was surprisingly delicious. So I blindly bought a package of these burgers. I say blindly because it was a weekday and they weren’t giving out samples. They are great! They take about 25 minutes to heat up in the oven.

Both burgers I ate on sandwich thins with sliced cheddar and tomatoes. Avocado would also be nice. I’m on a horseradish kick so I might use some next time I have a chicken burger.

Apple Cider Cookies

While looking up fall recipes I came across Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies from the Cooking Photographer. Since I was headed to Wal-Mart with my Mom this past week (her narrative of scoring caramels at Wal-Mart was hilarious) I decided to grab up the ingredients and try them.

I made a half recipe, because I really don’t need 50 cookies staring at me with their gooey sugarness. I used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose, it’s what I had. I tried not to eat the entire package of caramels before making the cookies (I’m never buying a bag of candy to sit in the kitchen, I still have next to zero willpower).

The dough came together really easily, the cookie scoop provided just enough dough to wrap around each caramel.

 

If you have two cookie sheets, prep them both with parchment paper before starting. If you’re like me and only have one cookie sheet, cut a few pieces of parchment to fit the sheet beforehand. Do they sell parchment paper pre-cut to fit a standard cookie sheet? If not, someone needs to get on that. When the cookies come out of the over you’ll want to lift the paper off and set the cookies down to cool. It’s nice to have another paper (or tray) ready to go with the second batch when the first one comes out. Once they have cooled you can twist them off the parchment pretty easily. If they stick, they’re not cool enough yet.

Letting them finish cooling upside down so the caramel doesn't stick. Once they are completely cool the caramel hardens enough to stack the cookies or put them in a bag.

I made some apple cider after Leia went down for a nap. I set my cookie on the edge of my cup to warm it, as instructed by the Cooking Photographer. It didn’t warm the cookie enough to get gooey caramel, so I stuck it in the microwave for about 15 seconds.

I know, the quality of these iPhone photos are amazing! My DSLR is on hiatus, and I haven't upgraded to the iPhone 4s yet, be patient.

Overall, it was a good cookie, very very sweet. I think the artificial apple taste is a little overpowering. Maybe using less packets of apple cider mix? I don’t know if I would make them again. With so many varieties of cookies to try, a recipe has to make me fall in love to get a second chance.

Projects I’m falling behind on.

When Leia goes to sleep for the night, I immediately get into “project” mode. On rare occasions, I just veg in front of the TV catching up on my DVR drinking some tea (or wine). But most nights, I’m eyeballing my to-do list, thinking “what can I get done.”

The problem being, I don’t get much done. I’m not sure why. That’s a lie. I know that being online takes up hours of my free time. That seems so shameful to say type. Hours. I spend hours with my hands on this keyboard. So the internet lures me away from spending my time on wiser endeavors. Facebook and Pintrest calling my name like sirens.

Isn't this clever? The spice racks are $4 each, so it's cheap too.

Tonight I assembled the spice racks I bought at IKEA to use as bookshelves for Leia. I still need to figure out where to put them up, and actually get them on the wall. If I get ambitious, I’d like to paint them too. But at my current pace, I’ll just be excited when I can stick books in them.

I also put the pictures my brother sent in frames. Now where to hang those? Oh, then there’s the wall shelves I bought at Target to put my festive Halloween decorations on. Since I don’t have a mantle, I figured wall shelves are the next best thing. The handkerchiefs my brother draws on need frames. There’s one for Leia’s birthday, one for my birthday years ago, and a Chargers one. They’re an odd size, so I have to go to Aaron Brothers to ask about custom framing prices.

The TV and furniture need anchors now that Leia has decided she’s a billy goat climbing mountains all day long. But that means I need to stop procrastinating on moving the furniture around. I’ve been meaning to move the big bed into the smaller room we usually sleep in, and the smaller bed with all the baby stuff (changing table, crib, dresser) into the guest room.

Why don’t I sleep in the master bedroom? I don’t know. We just started sleeping in the smaller room, so now it feels more cozy. Plus if I use the smaller room to sleep in, but the master bathroom for showering I feel like I’m using the entire apartment.

I need to re-order flea medication for the cats, since they don’t sell it online I have to make a trip to the vet. My feet are desperate for a pedicure and my hair is beyond overdue for a cut, it’s permanently up in a bun with the almost-grown-out bangs in a clip.

I need to buy shoes for fall. A new pair of boots and a pair of flat everyday shoes. I realize I can wear flip flops 80% of the year in San Diego, hence my procrastination on these items. Plus I hate shoes. I hate shoe shopping. I wore the crap out of my Steve Madden boots a few years ago so I’m tempted to just go buy a replacement pair.

I’ve been scanning Amazon this past week for a keepsake chest to store family treasures. So far all the ones in my price range are too small.

I liked this one at Pier 1, but $250? Give me a break. I might settle for some $15 scrapbooking boxes just to get everything organized and stored away for now.

I guess I could stop writing about what I need to do, and at least repaint my toenails.