Friday, January 30, 2009

Light and Dark




Just for fun, on APU, which is my internet home away from home, one of the moms had the great idea to do a photo assignment with a randomly assigned topic. The first was "Light". It could be any photograph that we took ourselves (either past or current) that represented light to us some how. A few days later, we did "Dark". I had a hard time not overlapping the assignment because when you think of shadows and lighting of subjects, there is always light that creates darkness. As you can tell, I always have fun with photo assignments :)

(Melissa, that pic of Justin was taken at Diane's house at Thanksgiving)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Balance



Why is it so hard to find balance?

Its taken me a while, but I think I've finally found it. Its not a perfect balance, by any means, and sometimes I wonder if its an illusion. I just think that I'm doing it alright and tomorrow I'm going to discover that my life has fallen apart.

When I first met Brian, I only had two labels. Bartender and Girlfriend. (Of course I was a daughter and a sister, still, but since none of my family lived in SC at the time, those were easy rolls to play.) During the day I had lots of ME time. I watched my soap, I scrapbooked, I shopped. At night I worked at Buffalo's surrounded by a ton of friends and made money. On my days off, I was totally devoted to Brian and his activities. Easy peasy.





Not so much when you find out you are expecting a baby. Now, I've always wanted to be a mom. Nor do I regret the situation that our first born was conceived in, either. But it definitely would have been nice to have more time as Girlfriend or even as Wife before adding Mommy to the mix.

When Jaina was born, she became my life. I had no intentions of returning to work, happily, I might add. My stepmom cautioned me that I would forget about Brian's needs and I needed to make an effort there, but I didn't listen. I had Jaina. What did I need Brian for? He was the guy that went to work every day and was only around nights and weekends. And those nights and weekends always included our precious daughter, so there really was no time for "us" to happen. We got sitters once or twice (nice co-workers of my husband's who sat for free!) to go out, but by the time I got Jaina ready and breastmilk pumped, and the sitter informed, I was too tired to really enjoy our time out.




The best thing we EVER did for ourselves as a couple was to go away to St. Lucia for 6 days when we got married. Yeah, I missed Jaina like crazy! But only for the first day or two. It was there I realized how important it was to keep your relationship nurtured with your husband. For us, it wasn't just about nurturing it, it was about building it.

9 months later came Jayce and I found myself torn again. How do you give 100% to your daughter when your son takes up so much time and energy? And forget about finding time to go out. Jayce wouldn't take a bottle nor sleep well, so finding people that would even offer to babysit was few and far between. I didn't have time to do anything for myself anymore, either. No lunches with Monica, no Moms Night Out with MOMS Club. No scrapbooking or even much computer time.


Then came the diagnosis of developmental delays for Jayce. We couldn't get him into therapy right away, so I became his therapist. 100% of myself went into my son and Brian and Jaina were left blowing in the wind. With Jayce, you can't assume he's just going to pick up stuff as he goes along life. You actually have to stop, break it down, and teach it to him one-on-one. Its exhausting and I felt extremely under qualified. I also obsessed over it a bit, I think. Whenever I was with my friends from MOMS Club, all I did was talk about Jayce's autism and the therapies that encompassed our life.

I'm not sure when all this changed for me. Maybe last summer? It wasn't an ah-ha moment by any means. Definitely more gradual. I started to let Jayce on his own a bit more and gave more control over to the therapist team. I started to do more crafts and special outings with Jaina. I started to attend Book Club and MNO again. I stopped feeling guilty about asking my mom to babysit so Brian and I could go out on dates once or twice a month.


And I finally feel like there is a balance. For now :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Playing Pooh Sticks

Have you ever played a game of Pooh Sticks? Its really quite simple. You find a bridge over running water and all players throw their sticks overboard on one side, and then you run to the other side to see which one comes out from under first. Winnie-the-Pooh plays quite frequently with Christopher Robin and Piglet.

And I taught Jayce the other day while we were killing time at Daddy's work complex. It was too soon to go pick up Jaina, but it was too late to drive all the way home. It was gorgeous out, sunny and lo 60's, so I took Jayce to the lake to play some pooh sticks.










On the way to the fountain, we had to stop and wave to our shadow.



A little break to stop and check shoes out:





Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Soup of the Week: Hearty Tortillini Soup

This has to be one of my most favorite soups, despite my intense dislike for any kind of bean. I compromise with Brian (the bean lover of the family) by only using 1/2 a can of kidney beans and rinsing them extremely well. I then pick out any beans that come into my bowl and give them to him. This is coming from the lady who picks out raisins in her raisin bran, too :)

Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
28-32 ounces of chicken broth
15 ounces of canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbs of Worcestershire sauce
9 ounces of refrigerated or frozen cheese tortellini pasta

Directions:
Heat oil in dutch oven over med-high heat. Saute all vegetables 5 minutes until crisp tender. Add broth, beans and Worcestershire sauce. heat to boiling. Stir in pasta. return to boil. Cook 5 minutes and remove from heat. Top with grated parmeasan or mozzarella cheese.


The food critic gives it a big spoon up:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

We needed a snow day!

My kids haven't attended school since last Thursday and its been wonderful having them home! Friday was a teacher workday (although her teacher admitted that they had already made up the time and weren't required to be at school, either), and we hung out with our friends the Beals and also our friends, the Brittons. Saturday and Sunday were spent in Tucker, GA, visiting my dad and stepmom. Monday (Martin Luther King Day) was unfortunately spent in our car trying to make it home before dark. So none of us were really looking forward to going back to our regular school schedules on Tuesday.

Thank goodness it was a snow day!

Now, when I say "Snow", what I really mean is less than one inch of icy precipitation that may or may not stick. Definitely not enough to close school in any state north of the Mason-Dixon line. However, I do understand why they close schools with just a dusting of snow. Our area is prone to icy conditions on the roads. We have a lot of country back roads that are shaded by trees. And since it rained yesterday in some parts before the freeze hit, most of the roads here are covered with a thin layer of ice. Since our area isn't used to winter weather, we don't have such things as snow plows or enough machines to salt the roads in the county. Add some very inexperienced southern drivers and all you get is bedlam.

When we first woke up this morning, we were dismayed to see that our district was on a two-hour delay. Which made no sense to me, since its already 10 AM and the temp is still below freezing. I can understand delays if the ice actually melts, but not on days that the temps are so low.

Brian went ahead into work. He always does this, even when he couldn't get his little car up the big hill in our old neighborhood. He walked the 1.5 miles to work then. Now that we live 11 miles from his company, we were secretly hoping he'd stay home with us today, but alas, his car made it out of our new neighborhood. Barely. It took him 45 minutes to get to work. He then cautioned me NOT to take the kids to school. By then, the school district had wised up and canceled school!!

Here are some pictures :)

Icy Hands

Jayce was more concerned about the snow he got on his gloves than anything else

Jaina was determined to make a snow angel. She had to go up on the deck because it was the area that got the most snow!

Taking time out for a hug and kiss:

Its more fun than sand, its a SNOW CASTLE!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ho Hum....

I'm only blogging a new entry because I'm tired of seeing the same one pop up every day I check my blog for updated posts on my friend list.

The kids and I just got back from a long weekend in Tucker, GA, visiting my dad and stepmom. Grandpa Lee turned 65 last week and we had a birthday celebration for him.

And I forgot my camera. Well, not exactly, I forgot my camera battery. I left it charging on the wall in the kitchen.

And I'm really too tired to blog anything tonight. I'll be back with a vengeance (and hearty tortellini soup recipe, too!) tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Those Eyes

Mom wasn't the only one in the house to get a new hair cut. I finally took the time to trim Jayce's scraggly hair on Sunday afternoon. I am soooo not a stylist, but I do know how to work clippers, somewhat. I've never taken Jayce to get his hair cut at a salon, but that's on our list of things to try when he's older.

I wanted to get a picture of Jayce with his new haircut that day, but he wasn't having any of it. The little stinker would not cooperate with the camera whatsoever.











So I decided to play a little game of peek-a-boo with him behind the couch:












Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A New Mom

I rarely get my haircut for several reasons.
1. money
2. time
3. my hair grows super slow

And normally I just walk in to Great Clips or Haircuttery on a whim and shell out $15 for a cheap-looking haircut.

Not this time. I made an appointment at a trendy salon that caters to teens and young adults, called ROXY, and tried out a random stylist. She was awesome. The only stylist I've ever had to actually listen to me, get to know my hair, and give me some ideas before she started to cut. And the price was only $25!! I know it Atlanta my same haircut would have been $40 easy.

Anyway, I love it. The new side swept bangs will take some getting used to, but I'm glad she did them. I have a high forehead and a long face and this cut suits me, I think :)

Before:


After:


When Jaina saw me for the first time this afternoon, she said, "You look like a new mom!"

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jaina's first Cheerleading Game








Cheerleading has never been on Jaina's list of "something I want to try one day", but all it took was finding out that her best friend from school, Ashlan, was going to be cheering for Upward this season to convince Jaina to give it a go.

We've already had one positive experience with the Upward Organization. Jaina really enjoyed learning how to play soccer with the Upward group last Fall. I am hoping that Jaina will go on to play even more seasons with soccer since she seemed to like it so much.

So, we signed up for cheerleading before Christmas and went to our first practice right before the holidays. It was pure chaos. 44 little girls and only two coaches that showed up. There were girls hat were missing their assigned uniforms, and uniforms without girls to claim them. And, of course, 4 squads without leaders. Our cheer coach stepped up and organized the humongous group as best she could and tried to work out the kinks with the head of the organization. But unfortunately, we didn't get to actually practice that night.

We then had another practice the next week that was a little less chaotic. But still, the room we were to practice in was locked, no one had a key, a few coaches STILL didn't show up (we found out yesterday one of the coaches was very sick with mono the whole time!) and so we crammed all 44 girls back into another room and attempted to teach them all 2 cheers at the same time.

Then we took two weeks off for Christmas and New years :)

Back to reality this past week... only Jaina was sick with a stomach virus on Tuesday night, so no practice for her. This is when panic set in because they learned 3 more cheers! And their first game was just days away!

Ashlan and her mom came to the rescue :) Jaina spent the night with them on Friday night and they taught her everything she needed to know.

The whole squad was amazing the next day!! Some of these girls, including Jaina, had never cheered before. The ages range from 5-9, but the majority of our squad is 6 year olds. They did such a great job! Everyone stayed together for the most part and they all knew the cheers well! Every single girl showed up on time, too. It was so fun to watch!

After it was over Jaina said, "I didn't really like everyone watching us." to which I assured her, "Hon, everyone was watching the basketball games, don't worry!" and that seemed to make her feel better. She still says she likes soccer better :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Soup of the Week: Chicken Tortilla Soup



This is the time of year that our family loves to eat soup. Its so good to come home to a ready meal that's been cooking in your crockpot all day long, especially when the weather is so cold and yucky outside.

Our goal is one soup a week, but sometimes I get industrious and try for two. Last year, I made all new recipes, but this year we are going to repeat at lot of the same ones that we liked from last year.

This week we had Chicken Tortilla soup. I am using the recipe found on page 64 of the cookbook Favorite Brand Name Best-Loved Recipes of All Time.

This soup is quick, easy, and delicious. Its not very hearty, though. We ate lots of chips with our bowls to help fill up. Normally I bake bread, and my husband suggested corn bread next time. Good idea!

Also, a lot of soups I adapt to be cooked in our crock pot. This is not one of them, though! The cilantro only needs a few minutes to cook and I imagine the fresh salsa wouldn't hold up well in the crockpot, neither would the crushed chips.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

one clove garlic, minced
14 ounces chicken broth
16 ounces salsa of your choice (I used deli fresh mild salsa)
2 Tbs of Cayenne Pepper Sauce
10 ounces cooked chicken breast (I used canned Tyson)
1 can (8 0z) of corn
chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup crushed tortilla chips
2 oz of monterey jack cheese


1. Heat 1 tsp oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook garlic until tender. Add broth, 3/4 cup water, salsa, and hot sauce. Stir in chicken, corn, and cilantro. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, covered, 5 minutes.

2. Stir in torillas and cheese. Serve hot.

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 6 mins

(side note... I think I need to make a light box or something. I never cook soup in the daylight and the lighting is just terrible for pictures, even with adjusting the white balance on my camera, in my house at night. Suggestions?)

Thursday, January 08, 2009