- What is your favorite color? blue
- What is your favorite toy? I don't have one
- What is your favorite fruit? mango
- What is your favorite TV show? Brain Games. I don't know. I don't watch TV.
- What do you like to eat for lunch? Whatever you make me
- What is your favorite outfit? jeans and a t-shirt
- What is your favorite sport? baseball
- What is your favorite snack? granola bar
- What is your favorite animal? penguin
- What is your favorite song? Don't have a favorite
- What is your favorite book? Johnny Tremain
- Who is your best friend? [C], [J] and [J]
- What is your favorite cereal? oatmeal
- What do you like to do outside? play baseball
- What is your favorite drink? water
- What is your favorite holiday? St. Patrick's Day
- What do you sleep with at night? Pup Pup and other stuff animals
- What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? oatmeal
- What do you want for your birthday dinner? pizza
- What do you want to be when you grow up? architect
Ten years ago, at this very moment, I had no idea today would be the day that I meet you. I had no idea how this day would forever change my life.
You were such an amazing baby. You were happy, quiet, content. Unless of course it was time to sleep. Then you cried. A lot. But once we got you to sleep, you were a great sleeper! Even though you have always been a happy, kid, you've also always been so very serious. You have always looked at life and tried to analyze what it is happening and how it all relates. It doesn't surprise me one bit that you love science so much with your analytical mind.
You've always had such an amazing heart. You have always thought of how those around you are feeling. I am constantly in awe of how much you care for those who are less fortunate than you. You have always been such a grateful child. You haven't always gotten what you've wanted, but, to be honest, you haven't wanted for much. You are happy with what you have and you strive to make others just as happy. Your generous heart has helped people so much. Once again this year, you put others first, even on your birthday, and asked for donations to the Children's Center instead of anything for yourself. It takes a very special person, not just child, to do this. Today, your 10th birthday, we can't even really celebrate because of all your sister's activities and instead of being sad or upset, your response was, "It makes me happy she gets to do something she loves on my birthday." There is not a single other child I know that would react this way.
This year of life was a good one for you. It's about time. I have watched you grow so much this year. You have good friends. You're doing an astounding job in school. You're working so hard at karate. I can't even begin to say how far you've come with baseball. You're becoming more and more of your own person. It scares me to death, I won't deny that. It also makes me very happy. You're finally finding your groove. You've opened your mind to new experiences and new possibilities.
Continue to be brave my little man. Continue to care and love. Find your passion. Try not to be so very serious and smile more. Enjoy life. Enjoy your time as a child because, before you or I know it, you won't be a child any longer. You will always be my Sweet Baby Angel though. Always.
I love you more than words could ever say,
My father used to tell me that anything worth doing is worth doing right. He told me not to do a half-assed job. I was probably right around 5 or 6 when he started telling me this. Of course there are always things in life that you don't try your hardest at, but for the most part, I have lived my father's philosophy and have tried to instill it in my kids...and yes, I'm pretty darn sure I have told them not to do something half-assed (you may all gasp in horror at that, but studies show that kids with mother's who swear are actually smarter, so I've got some the smartest damned kids on the planet). Because both Husband and I believe in this philosophy and raise our children with it, we are constantly disappointed when other people don't do their jobs and put forth little or no effort into things. Day after day, Husband is shocked by how little people do at their jobs. Day after day, I'm shocked by how little effort people put into helping others. We think about how these are the examples that our children see, and not how people try and care to their best. It's sad that we are trying to raise people who care to do good and work hard in a world that is so selfish and lazy. Of course there are people who are more like us, and we try to surround ourselves with those people, but it doesn't change what our kids see the most of.
Husband was telling me about a particular situation he has been having trouble with. Then he said, "I shouldn't even care", but he does. He believes that people should do the very best they can at their jobs. Then I bring up a similar situation that is going on with the school. His response was, "The teachers just don't care. It's just a job." The word I would like to stress is TEACHERS. The TEACHERS don't care. People are constantly saying that people don't go into teaching if they don't care about their students. Unfortunately, I haven't found this to be true. And that's a sad statement from someone who was a teacher. So, it's come down to teachers being compared to lazy salesmen. I'm not saying all teachers, so don't get your panties in a bunch. The thing is, with a salesman, they don't have to care. They don't have to even believe in their product. They have to hit and number and then they can just forget it. Good salesmen don't do that. Good salesmen offer support, service and follow up. As should a good teacher. If you say you are going to make accommodations for a child, make the damned accommodations. My child is not stupid (see the above about how frickin' smart my kids must be) and he knows he's supposed to be getting help. So when you don't do it, what are you teaching my kid? You are teaching him that he doesn't matter. You are teaching him that you don't care to do your best at your job. You are teaching him that doing your best is not important. You are teaching him that doing a half-assed job is acceptable. And then you wonder why he puts little effort into it? No one wants to actually work for someone who refuses to help them. Then I look at it and think, why did I waste an hour and half of my time in a meeting when the things that were promised aren't even being done? If you discussed a design with a contractor, and then the contractor didn't bother to follow it and did their own thing, that contractor wouldn't get paid. If a salesman sold a product and then didn't bother to deliver it, the salesman would be fired or not paid. Yet, in our education system, the system that we put our children into to mold them into responsible adults, it seems to be OK not do the job completely.
I am so thankful I can teach my kids what they are not getting at school. I am so thankful that I be around to instill in my kids that anything worth doing is worth doing well. It sucks when my kid is so upset about going to school because he doesn't understand something and it takes me, literally, 5 minutes to explain it to him. Five minutes. It would have taken a teacher 5 minutes to break it down so he could get it. It would have taken less if he actually received the accommodations he was supposed to have. Then, we would all know if my kid is doing something half-assed or if he really doesn't get it. If he's not putting forth the effort, that's on him. But a teacher not putting forth the effort and then grading my kid on something they never bothered teaching or helping with, that's on them. Don't do your job half-assed. Some of you may be thinking, it's the end of the year and everyone slacks a little at the end of the year. I would be willing to agree with that if this had only been the end of the year. Or if it hadn't been the past 4 years of school (actually, I would like to amend that since last year my son's teacher was awesome and she did actually put forth effort to get him what he needed).
I may "only" be a stay at home mom, but I work hard, every single day. I do my job to the best of my ability every day. If I don't, know who it falls back on? Me. I decide to only wash part of the dishes, those dishes will sit there and wait for me. I only vacuum one area of the house, the dog hair accumulates in the other until I get to it. I don't put the things from the store away, they sit wherever I unpacked them until I do. Every last thing I do, if I don't do my job completely, it just builds. It's the same way for Husband with his job. He only sort of fixes something, he knows he'll have to go back out to fix it. He does a poor job on an install, he knows he'll be back out to fix it. He doesn't want to have to keep going back to job sites, so he does it right the first time. Yet, somehow, in all other areas of life, people can skate by doing the bare minimum. I often wonder what the point is in trying to do a good job, and then I look at my kids. The point is them. The point is to be the people we want them to become and not be the lazy jerks we don't want them to become. In a world filled with so many people only looking out for themselves and trying to do the littlest bit of work they possibly can, we need to be the examples goodness and hard work. They obviously don't see these examples at school where they spend the majority of their time (OK, my daughter does because her teachers have all been amazing and go the extra mile), so they need to see it when they come home. I am so thankful we do surround ourselves with people who value hard work and being good people so that our children can look at see there are others out there, no matter how few, who don't go through life half-assed.
Thus far, 2016 has brought new recipes to the Rock House. I have been working hard trying to get at least one new recipe per week into our menu. Husband has been travelling and work very late, so this makes trying new things a little more challenging, but at least I'm trying!
First new meal we made was a complete success! I made Easy Chicken Teriyaki. Sunshine found out she really likes teriyaki sauce on her chicken! Who knew?! I made it with broccoli, but I'm the only in the house who eats it, so I also did carrots. Since that went over so well, I also made Asian Chicken Noodle Soup. I really enjoyed this, but no one else in my house did. Unfortunately, with this dish, I found I may have an MSG allergy. With the Chicken Teriyaki, I didn't quite see a connection, but after leftovers of the chicken, then the soup and then leftovers of the soup, I found the only common factor was the MSG. However, now that I'm aware, I'll just make sure I load up on allergy meds before eating Asian food! Another recipe that I tried for Asian food was crockpot Teriyaki Chicken. This one was a freezer meal. Super simple to make and I took allergy medicine before hand and was good to go. This one did not go over as well. It was too sweet for my kids and little on the sweet side for Husband. I could have eaten it all night. I'll definitely make it again, but cut down on the brown sugar next time.
I have really wanted to start making new soups. Since I had so much success with the Asian Chicken Noodle Soup (success meaning I liked it), I decided to try another one no one would like other than me. I decided to try Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup. Worst thing I've ever tasted. Normally, even if something isn't great, I can eat it. Not this. I couldn't eat more than 5 bites. I ended up throwing the entire batch out. It was horrible. What exactly was wrong with it? The taste. Pretty sure it was the coconut milk that made it so incredibly disgusting, and I like coconut milk. Unfortunately, this recipe scared me away from soups. Now, I'm nervous to try another. I've got several more recipes for different squash soups, but I think I'll wait until fall for those.
In case you haven't noticed, chicken is a theme in our house. That being said, we are constantly looking for new ways to make it other than rub it with Bearded Butcher and grill it (though Husband and Monster would be content doing that almost every night). I know I wrote this one up before, but I wanted to add it here with the recipes. Sunshine picked out Taco Chicken Tenders. That recipe was a total win! Then we also tried Crispy Lemon Chicken Pasta. I thought this was so very good. A little complicated to make, but Husband made it. As long as he cooks, I'll be making this again, even though I was the only one who really liked it. A meal that I was actually a little surprised went over as well as it did was Mustard-Herb Panko Crusted Chicken. A friend of mine gave me a few tips, like making chicken strips instead of breasts and just dip the strips into the mustard and then the panko mix. Worked out great! Really easy meal. Since easy is something we really like, we decided to try a very easy recipe for baked chicken nuggets. This one was not well received by the kids. I think we're the only people who have kids who do not like butter. The kids would probably have liked this one if it didn't call for the butter.
Chicken freezer meals were on my list of things to try doing this year. I was really proud of myself when our local grocery store had a sale on chicken and I bought all the ingredients needed to make my freezer meals. I was also pretty excited that I had the time to go put them together after coming home from the grocery store! I made a couple recipes from Over The Big Moon. One was the Teriyaki Chicken that I wrote about above. I also tried the Garlic Lime Chicken and Cafe Rio Chicken. No one was thrilled with the Garlic Lime. Didn't have enough flavor for us. The Cafe Rio Chicken was met well by 3 of us, but the picky one wanted nothing to do with it. However, she ate it. Also from Over the Big Moon, I made Cilantro Lime Chicken with Corn and Black beans (minus the black beans since I don't like them). This one was pretty darned tasty. Again, 3 of the 4 of us actually enjoyed it and 1 tolerated it.
Sunshine has been on again, off again, with guacamole ever since she could eat. She happens to be on again. I was buying her Wholly Guacamole, but that gets a little expensive as she's the only one who eats it. So, I searched the internet for an easy, not spicy guac recipe. I found this one. How could I go wrong with 3 ingredients and a title like "Easy Guacamole Your Kids Will Love"? Obviously they didn't mean MY kid. She was less than thrilled with it. Right now I'm back to buying guacamole until I decide to experiment with a new recipe.
Since I had cilantro left from the Cilantro Lime Chicken meal, I decided that I wanted to try something out of the ordinary and this recipe was exactly what I was looking for. Chorizo Quesadillas with Cilantro Lime Sour Cream. Knowing full well Sunshine would not eat this, I made her a hot dog. We did make her try it though. This was really very good. The sour cream is what made this meal. I could have just dipped tortilla in the sour cream and called it a meal. It was that good. Sticking with the cilantro theme, I also made Copycat Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice. Sunshine LOVES the rice at Chipotle, so how could she not like this? She didn't. Even Monster wasn't thrilled. Husband and I enjoyed it.
It hasn't been all about new dinners here. I've made some new sweet treats as well. Right around Valentine's Day, I made Strawberry Truffle Kiss Cookies. These went over extremely well. Husband liked them, kids liked them, kids' friends liked them, neighbor's liked them, friend's husband who doesn't like sweet stuff liked them. I, however, did not. I'll make them again, for everyone else to eat! I'm not a huge fudge person, but I do make decent fudge. I decided to branch out this year though and make peanut butter fudge and Bailey's fudge. Both turned out really well. I love cannolis, but I've never made them. They intimidate me a bit, so I decided to try making cannoli dip instead. It turned out to be amazing! The recipe makes a LOT, so I shared, shared, shared. When I make it again, I'll most likely cut it in 1/4, it makes that much. Of course, I've been making different chocolate chip cookies as well. I made some Pumpkin-Oat Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, and Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies. They were all very good. All of those recipes are keepers! I also tried a new plain old chocolate chip cookie recipe. They were good, but nothing extraordinary. Tasted like chocolate chip cookies. This past week, I also made two new sweet breads. A friend of mine and I made Chocolate Oatmeal Banana Bread and Peach Mango Coconut Oil Banana Bread. Both were fantastic. I, personally, didn't like the chocolate one since I'm not a huge chocolate person, but everyone else who tried it thought it was great. Everyone who tried the mango thought it was really good as well and I really enjoyed that one. We tweaked the Peach Mango a bit. First, we didn't use coconut oil. We used canola oil instead. Second, we used white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose. Then, we also used fresh mango and no peaches, so it was really just mango banana bread. Also, the recipe said it made two loaves, but it didn't. It made one. We had to adjust the cooking time as well. Unfortunately for timing purposes, we were talking and baking so I'm really not sure what our adjustment in time ended up being.
On a side note, and not a new recipe, Sunshine has decided she likes tacos! That's a huge thing for her. She only likes them in a hard shell and only the meat and cheese, but it's a start!
The annual Mother's Day survey. Purple is Sunshine. Red is Monster. Grey is Husband.
1. Something mom always says to you?
Good morning my sweet baby angel. I love you with all of my heart. You are my precious gift from God. It's going to be a great day.
Take the dog out
2. What makes mom happy?
Her kids not fighting and coffee
When your kids are good
3. What makes mom sad?
Me not behaving
[Sunshine] and I fighting and not respecting her.
When your kids are bad
4. How does mom make you laugh?
Cracking some jokes
By just being there. You're the happiest person I know, Mommy.
When you tell jokes
5. What was mom like as a child?
I don't know
6. How old is mom?
21..22 actually, because Mrs. [H] is younger than you
7. How tall is mom?
5' 6" (thank you, Monster!!!)
Really tall for your height
8. What is mom’s favorite thing to do?
Play on the playground
Be with her kids and family
Do things with your family
9. What does mom do when you’re not around?
fold laundry, watch TV, cleans
Laundry, shop and watch Flash and Arrow
10. If mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Typing on the computer
Being the best mother in the world
11. What is mom really good at?
Picking out styles
Taking care of your family
12. What is mom not very good at?
I don't know
Taking care of yourself
13. What does mom do for her job?
Being a mother, and that takes a lot of work
14. What is mom’s favorite food?
15. What makes you proud of mom?
She's always there for me and and will always be there for me
When you treat yourself well
16. What cartoon character would mom be?
I don't know
17. What do you and mom do together?
Watch Netflix together
18. How are you and mom the same?
We both have knotty hair
We both have blue eyes. We both like the same things
We both have thumbs
19. How are you and mom different?
She has her ears pierced
She's a girl and I'm a boy
Every other way
20. How do you know mom loves you?
Because she laughs with me
If she didn't love me, she wouldn't be there for me, she wouldn't be there and she wouldn't care.
You take care of me
21. Where is mom’s favorite place to go?
House of Hunan
Ireland, home, wherever her family/kids are
6:30am. Day 2 of searching for Elsa's shoes. SUCCESS!
When people find out that I wake up super early, they usually can't understand it. First, I am a morning person, so that just messes everyone up, but that's not why I get up early. Heck, even though I'm a morning person, I'd rather be getting up at 9:00 every day. Yet, I get up no later than 6:15 every weekday morning. I don't do it because I'm overly ambitious or a work-aholic. I do it to get my life together. It's a coping mechanism so that I don't get overwhelmed and consumed by the shear amount of things that need to be done during the day.
A lot of people were complaining on how their mornings always feel so crazy trying to get the kids off to school. It prompted me to write about our morning routine. The thing is, without me getting up early, the morning routine would not go as well. When Husband stays home, he views the mornings as a crazy chaotic mad rush. What he doesn't know is that it's actually a very well choreographed, frenzied dance that runs so smoothly because I wake up early.
If any of you knew my kids and my house, you would know that my kids are light sleepers and my house is tiny. This limits the work I can actually do first thing in the morning. I don't get up and do dishes unless I want kids up at 6am, which I definitely do not. I can't go work out in the basement where my treadmill is because if Sunshine does get up early, she yells for me and I don't want her waking up Monster to have two kids up early. So, what exactly is it that I DO with my early morning time? Well, I find Elsa's shoes, of course.
Each morning, I make a list of things to accomplish during the day. It's a very specific list. I have learned that if I'm not extremely specific, I'm less likely to accomplish the tasks because they seem too large. Therefore, I have a crazy long, but very detailed list. I need lists because these clear the clutter from my brain and help me focus. Once it's down on paper, because, yes, I use paper and not an electronic device, I can "forget" about it and make room in my head for other things (not sure yet if that's good or bad, but it's working for now). I try not to put things on my list that I know are out of reach or too broad. For example, I no longer write "laundry" on my list. Instead, I write, "wash darks". That is much more attainable than 1700 loads of laundry piled up waiting for me. I have to take each day step by step or I can't breathe. I don't write down the crazy stuff that I must do 100 times a day like "take out recycling" or "wash dishes", though I do have to write down when I have to take the recycling up to actually be recycled or to take the bread machine back down the basement after it's cleaned.
Every so often, I have something on my list that doesn't get done. It's rare, but it happens. When it does happen, I move it over to the next day's tasks. However, sometimes there's just something on the list the bugs me so much that I can' t focus until it's done. That was Elsa's shoe. A while back, Sunshine went through her toys and decided to get rid of some. One of the things she was ready to part with was an Elsa doll. The problem was, we couldn't find Elsa's one shoe. After about an hour of searching, Sunshine just gave up. I knew it would bug me, so it went on my list for the next day. The next day I searched. No shoe. How could there be no shoe? The next morning, bright and early, as I'm once again writing "find Elsa's shoe" on my list, I couldn't take it. I cleaned the entire play room. Top to bottom, perfectly cleaned. While most people are still sound asleep, I was frantically cleaning to find the Elsa shoe. Not only did I find the shoe, but the playroom was also cleaned and perfectly organized by 6:30 in the morning. And, I still had about an hour before the kids got up.
I can't tell you how much I wish that I had a bigger house or that my kids were better sleepers so that I could get more done in the mornings. I would be unstoppable. The moment my kids get up, all my motivation is sucked away. Like they somehow suck all the energy out of me just by waking up. From the moment the kids wake up to the moment I go to bed, I'm exhausted. But that morning time, that time when I'm the only person up in the house, I'm ready to tackle anything....including Elsa's damn shoe.
Lately, I've been a lot more open about my anxiety issues. Alright, that's not actually true. I've been more open with people who I know understand anxiety. The thing about anxiety is that you don't share because people don't understand. I read this article the other day and it was so very dead on. I posted it to Facebook and was actually very surprised to see some of the people who could relate. Anxiety makes you feel completely alone, so it was nice to see that I am not.
Anxiety is not stress. You can't just let it go. You can't meditate it away or run to clear you head (in fact, I get anxiety attacks when I go running alone, which is why I hate running). I have stress also, but with stress comes rational solutions. I make plans for my plans. I'm sure part of that actually has to do with my coping with my anxiety. I need to have backups to backups so that the anxiety doesn't set in. I look at that and see that as a good coping mechanism. Some people see that as over planning and over thinking, some people see it as smart and overly organized. The thing with anxiety is that a lot of the time it goes from something completely rational to worry about, to completely irrational in a matter of seconds. Anxiety produces over the top fears that spark from something little and, sometimes, not at all even related to what sparked it.
Let me explain. The other day there was a county water truck sitting outside of our house. Here's exactly how the spiral happened. The water truck outside means that they will be doing water line repair. If they do water line repair, they may be digging up our yard. We just had our yard redone 2 summers ago and finally have grass. It's going to be a mess again. They are going to redo the whole street. That means tons of work trucks. That means they are going to start around 7 am every day. That means there is going to be a lot of noise. That means my kids won't be able to sleep in. That means they will be up way too early during the summer. That means they won't get enough sleep. That means they will have to go to bed early to balance that out. That means we won't be able to do fun things. That means we're going to all be crabby. That means this is going to be the worst summer ever. I might as well give up. The summer is going to suck. All that from a water truck. And it took my brain about 2 seconds to go through all that. I tried explaining this all to Husband. He understood, to a point. But he tried to rationalize it. The most it's going to be is a week or so on our part of the street, yada, yada, yada. Awesome, but my brain already spiraled out of control and there's really no going back. I tried to relax and think it won't be that bad. I can totally lie to other people and even myself. I can say, I'm not worried. It will be fine. No big deal. Yet, I'm freaking out and sad that my summer is ruined before it even starts. I explained this exact same situation to a friend with anxiety and she got it. She didn't try to tell me I'm being irrational or that it would all be OK. She just got it. Even though she doesn't have this exact issue in her life, she knows enough about her own anxiety to know that it really doesn't matter what other people say because, until the situation is over, the anxiety doesn't go away. I will have the fear of a ruined summer until the work is completed on our water lines. Will I go on every day and try to make the best of the days? Yes. You push through.
Not all anxiety situations are that easy to push through though. Sometimes, anxiety can cause OCD behaviors. To some people, these seem like routines, but it's so much more than that. There are things that I need to do and if they are not followed, the full on anxiety attack kicks in. For me, my anxiety attacks trigger my asthma. I can't breathe, literally. I feel as though something is closing around my windpipe. I've been dealing with anxiety since college. I've actually probably been dealing with it longer than that, but I was first "diagnosed" with it in college. I came home and went to the doctor because I couldn't breathe for the better part of 2 weeks. The doctor put me on anti-anxiety medication. I was on it for about a year, but it didn't help much. Over the years, I have learned to have better control over my anxiety and I learned techniques to cope with and cover it. Until I started to be more open about anxiety, people had no idea.
I believe that others think that people with anxiety live a life where they are are always worried. That's not exactly true. There are many, many things I am not worried about. I am often very calm. I believe that society has drawn a picture of people who suffer from anxiety to be "Nervous Nellies" That's not true. In fact, it's usually more of the opposite. Most people with real anxiety are experts at hiding it.
Anxiety is no picnic. Having children while dealing with anxiety is rough. I want to teach my kids good skills for coping with stress and worry as to not have it turn into anxiety. Yes, I know that anxiety is actually triggered by chemicals in the brain and some people are just going to get it, but I think that good coping mechanisms for stress is a good start for controlling anxiety. When you suffer from anxiety though, it's difficult to try to teach coping skills because you are so concerned that you have passed on the anxiety gene to your child and they are bound to suffer the same anxious fate.
Every day is struggle, for everyone, not just people with anxiety. We are all trying to get through life the best we can. In no way would I ever say that my struggles are worse than someone else's. Mine are just different. It's just a reminder to give others grace. You don't know what's going on in their lives, or their heads. I may look completely calm on the outside, but you don't know if I'm spiraling out of control on the inside. And most likely, I won't share with you if I am. The best thing anyone can do for others is to be kind.....and please, stop telling me not to worry.