Wisdom Comes Suddenly

NEXT

June 16th, 2014 · 1 Comment

 

Next copy

 

 

Indianapolis is a volunteer’s town, this much I’ve learned. It seems there is no end to reading, learning, interacting with, and experiencing philanthropic endeavors in our city. I do so love my town. I’ve learned local charities are great at swapping great ideas, but every once in a while, you run into something so new…so novel…it stops you in your tracks.

And so it was when my friend Lily Pai (of Lily Pai Designs) talked to me about a new initiative at the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana. They are a CICF Fund (Central Indiana Community Fund ), which is known for transformative philanthropy. Much like their parent organization, not only do they serve fish, but they also teach people to fish, teach them how to find water, how to build a pole and a boat, and then how to turn fishing into a sustainable business thereby changing the trajectory of a community. But what makes the Women’s Fund so intriguing is their focus on not just teaching people to fish, but in teaching others how to become better fishing instructors.

They don’t just create philanthropy…they create philanthropists. And that could be anyone. I think most people have the heart to serve, but find it’s hard to know where to start, or how to make their contribution matter. It never crossed my mind to seek out an education on volunteerism. Education’s usefulness knows no end, does it?

But the Women’s Fund didn’t stop there. They thought BIGGER. I had to read it a few times just to get my head around it. What is bigger than changing EVERYONE? The Women’s Fund of Central Indiana is kicking off a 10 year initiative known as “NEXT”. What’s BIGGER is NEXT. They identified Indianapolis has a service gap for women aged 18-24; women transitioning out of youth programs, foster care, high school, etc. To quote from their website, “NEXT is a 10-year initiative to attract talented, visionary entrepreneurs who can develop solutions to help emerging adult women move toward economic stability. With your support, these innovators will create viable solutions, and Women’s Fund will invest in their transformative ideas.”

If it has been your dream to start an organization which will provide innovative services to women in this late adolescent through early adulthood age bracket, transitioning them into a lifetime of economic stability, but you weren’t sure where to start with funding…you should start HERE. The Women’s Fund of Central Indiana is taking Statements of Intent through September, and they will be holding a Webinar on June 25th. Statements of intent applicants will be notified in December, and full applications are due in the Spring. Accepted applications will receive full funding for their initiatives and salary. It’s bold. It’s impressive. It’s quite real. And with a 10 year timeline, NEXT has the ability to change the face of the services available to an entire sector of women in our community.

Like I said. BIGGER. TRANSFORMATIVE. By impacting women ages 18-24, you impact the nexus. You create Mothers, Providers, and Families. And from there, you create stable GENERATIONS, and that is the end of poverty. There are those with the road map to change the entire face of need, if we’re only willing to join the journey. If you’re interested in giving to this initiative and/or the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana, you can start HERE.

Thank you to Lily for sharing this story with me, and allowing me to share it with you. Goodness is everywhere, and spreading it is my sunshine. Godspeed to you all.


→ 1 CommentTags: The Girls

Bye Bye Baby

June 12th, 2014 · 7 Comments

Sarababypool

 

My Dearest Ducky,

 

It’s with complete (yet not surprising) irony that as we left your last Dermatology appointment yesterday, Ingrid Michaelson’s “Morning Lullabies” began to play on my phone. It’s “our” song, one I discovered on a rainy day the first week I quit my job to become your…everything. If my fuzzy memory serves correctly, I was overheard saying, “I’m just going to stay home long enough to get Sara straightened out”. It only took me 6 years to learn one does not “straighten out” children. We guide, we steer, we fret, we sweat the small stuff…but there is no “straight” anything in family life. However, with God’s blessings, and after 9 years of desperate prayers on my knees late in the night when our family is asleep, God has granted me the ability to enjoy the curvy road (or, at least, it no longer kicks my ass every time the winds change). This much I know: God has been so good to us.

Sarainfunnyhat

Yesterday
I woke up
With your head on my arm
My hand was numb
Circulation gone
But I dared not move
The pretty sleeping one

It was raining again, as the song began to play yesterday, and my mind reeled over our new reality: you have NO specialty doctors. You have NO therapists. You currently (and perhaps just temporarily, but still…) have NO tutors. When your Dermatologist declared your Lichens Sclerosis in remission, and our regular appointments now complete, my mind played its usual trick: FOCUS LORI! Switch gears. What Sara-mystery do we un-peel next? Who do I need to call? Who will be my guide now?

Saramommyinpool

The sun had painted
Patterns on your face
As you breathe Sunday air

But I drew a blank. My thinking mind heard nothing but the gentle sound of rain and the windshield wipers. I glanced into the back seat; I suppose I imagined a bright halo of light would surround you and this new reality, but you were buried in your iPad, trying to beat your best time on a Math Facts game. You were doing MATH. Without any begging. Without a word from me whatsoever. In fact, I never have to ask you to do your daily math anymore. You even help your sister as she groans through hers.

SarafloatsinNC

Rode on to my open arms
I became your pillow
You let me smooth your hair

So instead, I let my mind skip through our last 8 years: the Educational Psychologist, who led us to the Occupational Therapist, who led us the Neuro-Optometrist, and the teachers who led us to the Math Tutor, while we darted in and out of every Pediatric Urologist I could find, while keeping our Pediatrician on speed dial, and hoping I wasn’t bugging my old ADHD colleagues too much, followed by the wild day I pieced together your leaky bladder was connected to your ADHD, [insert the cries of "Will this child ever sleep through the night?!", which were finally answered at Year #5], trying to stay upbeat as we were warned you may never add or ride a bike, the devastating spring we decided to hold you back a grade (our best decision, so I guess it’s intuitive it was our hardest), leaking leaking bladder, when will it ever stop, and then the rash began (and the counselor who was of no help whatsoever). Oh God, that terrible November when we could not longer stay on top of the rashes. 14 long months to the diagnosis, filled with months of migraines and the vomiting, and then the 6 months of treatments so much a part of our routine, I had to create a nursing medication chart. Praise God for making me an RN.

Saraslipandslide

I will sing you morning lullabies
You are beautiful, and peaceful this way

And just like that, on a rainy Tuesday in June of 2014, after 6 years “on leave from work”, I have no one to call. No one to pay! (That’s for Daddy, who just nods and smiles at this point in the financial game. He would say only one thing Duck, “It was worth every last penny for my Sara-Bear. Every one of those 4.5 million pennies.”) Our days are no longer metered by creams, exercises, and appointments. If there were Master’s Degrees given in Motherhood, I would have at least TWO in “Appointment Keeping”. In fact, I think all Mothers, no matter the child, quickly learn the art of getting to and from appointments, in and around school hours, snacks, extracurriculars, and that relentlessly immovable thing known as “dinner”. It’s a choreographed dance…an awkward, horrible, not-in-the-least-way-graceful dance.

Sarayardsuit

I know you have to close your eyes
On everyone, let me help you,
I’ll sing you to sleep
With morning lullabies

And through these chaotic and unpredictable years, you’ve wanted only one thing: you just wanted to swim. Always the swimming, year ’round, just let me swim Momma. When you were a baby (a rather cranky baby, I may add), I would say, “If you have a crab, stick it in water”, and there you’d splash and giggle until the water turned cold. I went over-the-top decorating your bathroom simply because I spent so much time in it. Add in your croup episodes, and the bright, beach-themed bathroom became our clubhouse. We both swear we’ll never forget the night you were “pooking” into the toilet and Kelly was next to you in an infant swing, and you lifted your head up just long enough to laugh and scream, “Ke-way pit up a toy Momma! Ke-way tan ube her hands!” Kelly picked up a toy Momma! Kelly can use her hands! She was so tiny, but you two looked at each other and laughed and laughed. That’s the night you nicknamed her “Your Boo Boo Chicken”. That tub saw countless nights of giggling from you two. It was hard to say goodbye to our indoor water park.

Saraswimlesson

Let me lie in the curve
Of your body tonight
And I will hear you
Tumble into sleep
I will watch you heal
I will watch you heal with me

So it was with unparalleled gratitude that it was just the two of us cuddled up at Steak and Shake after your first swim meet. We could hardly speak (a first for both of us!). You leaned into me and whispered, “I can’t believe we’re here. We finally made it Momma. I’m on a real swim team. I’ve been in a real swim meet. I don’t care at all if I won anything. I thought we’d never get here.” I KNOW. I know. Swim lessons followed by the odd rejection from the first team, followed by the hard day we realized the closest swim teams were 30 miles away, followed by the for sale sign in the yard, followed by the move…the insane move, and the “restful” 25 minutes from the moment we moved into the apartment and your swim team tryout. The team who took one, quick look and saw what we’ve seen all along: this girl was born to SWIM.

SaraSwimthrough

I will sing you morning lullabies
You are beautiful, and peaceful this way
I know you have to close your eyes on everyone
Let me help you, I’ll sing you to sleep
With morning lullabies

So you can imagine it came as no surprise when your teachers at school came to me in the weeks following your entry onto the swim team and told me how much you were blossoming. Socially, academically…even your handwriting changed. We weren’t surprised because we were…we are living it. Your CONFIDENCE…it’s splashing and spilling over your life. It makes sense: if challenges can spill onto everything, so can successes.

Saraslide

I know you have to close your eyes on everyone
Let me help you
I’ll sing you to sleep
With morning lullabye..bye baby

While I can understand swim meets may feel quite long to some, it felt like mere minutes to me. Joy was bursting out of your every seam. I know it’s not my best trait, but I have been secretly a little jealous and irritated at parents who complain about early practices and long hours spent in the soccer fields and at the poolsides. For the Momma who waited almost 9 years to get here, I was up well before your first morning practice, and I sat smiling ear-to-ear poolside the entire time. I dream of the day this new life is so routine, I grump about it.

SaraMermaidCake

I know you SAID it wasn’t your goal to place in your first meet, and we both knew it was a wacky long shot. Swimming is far more competitive than I realized. Swimming is an entirely new world we both must learn, but Lord knows we’re not the least bit intimidated. We’ve learned LOTS of new things together. Here’s the upside to a tough start: your first (almost) 9 years also came bearing gifts. You understand hard work and mental toughness more than kids twice your age. You DID ribbon in your first meet; it was as if even the Universe had been waiting to grant you a day in the sun. No child on earth will ever be so happy to receive a 6th place ribbon as you are. The world can just hang onto to those Blue-Red-and-Whites for now. 6th place is sweet enough for us. As we watched the results scroll across my iPhone in those late hours at the Steak-n-Shake deep in the cornfields of Where The Hell Are We, Indiana…we said not a word. We breathed deep, and took a long, relaxing exhale.

Close your eyes
And I will sing you
Morning lullabies

Oh. So this is what you’ve been begging to do all along. I’m so glad I ignored the therapist who recommended, “Whatever you do, DO NOT put her on a competitive swim team”. I’m glad you taught me sometimes it’s OK to “close my eyes on everyone”, and just let you help me see the light. I’m starting to suspect it was you who came to straighten me out, and not the other way around.

To quote my favorite chanteuse, “With morning lullabye…bye baby”. Bye bye Baby Sara Bear.

It’s time for us to follow you now. You know which way to go.

Sarablocks

Our Endless Admiration At Your Strength & Courage,

Boppa & Daddeee (aka, Mommy and Daddy)


→ 7 CommentsTags: The Girls

Getting To Yum Games (Volume 5)

June 8th, 2014 · 1 Comment

partbeans

I was debating which part of “Getting To Yum” to illustrate first, when Sara made the decision for me. As our summer started, she said, “I don’t know why, but I’m just in the mood to COOK something Momma. Can I?” Well…ABSOLUTELY! Our apartment kitchen is tidy and tiny, making it rather kid-friendly, but it’s not “multi-person” friendly. Also good news. I’ll have to steer clear, because my girls are ready to fly a bit solo.

I stood in the doorway and instructed Sara on dinner (Red Beans & Rice with Cornbread), but I kept my helping hands out of it. Greg swore it tasted identical to mine, and it absolutely did. Sara is capable of DINNER. This is HUGE.

Part2

Sara was so excited after making dinner, she started posting sticky notes on the fridge with lists of things she felt she “needed” to make. She completed her list the first week, and as the Momma who has posted fridge menus for years, I was obviously thrilled to see her imitating me. These are precious moments for a Mom.

PartGuac1

To taste-train with games, it was good to start with something familiar the girls enjoy, and then segue into a recipe they’ve tried, but haven’t accepted: guacamole. I serve it often, but even with it hidden under tomatoes, they had yet to really eat it. I planned to incorporate it into a game from “Getting To Yum” (the book has 20 games which illustrate how to incorporate your family’s taste-training into kid-friendly activities), and I laughed out loud when I reviewed the game list: making guacamole is the nexus of many of the gaming concepts. Five Senses, Five Flavors, Tasty Taste Buds, Smell-Taste, Mystery Smell, Terrific Textures, The Same Food Three Ways…apparently guacamole is the top of the taste-training pyramid. Who knew?!

PartKellyguac

Kelly ran upstairs. She wanted nothing to do with avocados, and most certainly NOTHING to do with guacamole. Yuck! Nowhere close to Yum. We let her go without argument, and just went on with our business of cutting and scooping. Sara did a great job of yelling, “EWWW…it’s so squishy! This is so easy to scoop! This texture is so cool! Can I try some?” Kelly was downstairs before we got to the 3rd avocado. We gave her one to scoop, but when I turned around, I found her face inside of it. Kelly was INHALING an avocado! Kelly has been known to gag at the mere sight of an avocado!

Partguacsmash

It got a little messy from there. By the time Daddy got home for his birthday dinner, we had a gargantuan bowl of guacamole waiting, and we even let him eat a little bit of it. Sara and Kelly had pretty full bellies of guacamole before we got the first shrimp taco on the plates, but it was worth it. Kelly is standing behind me at this very second, giggling into my ear and singing, “Yummy Mommy. That picture makes me feel yummy.” Glad to hear it, because “Getting To Yum” has an entire chapter devoted to avocado recipes!

There is so much left to learn this summer, I can hardly wait. Food dyes give Sara migraines, so we’ll probably do some of the Color Confusion and Marketing Awareness games next. We’ll see where our adventures take us!

 


→ 1 CommentTags: The Girls

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

June 3rd, 2014 · 7 Comments

GregCake2

Happy Birthday to my laughter. My love. My joy.

GregKLwedding

Happy Birthday to our sun, our moon, our guiding star, who just keeps smiling and keepin’ on the keepin’ on. Time and time again, I’ve sworn the world has ended, but you were right:

GregSara

It all turned out just fine. Just like you said it would.

GregSyd

We all know Sydney wants to wish you the Happiest of Birthdays. She kind of did when she vomited at your feet at 2 am. I thought by the sound of it, she was chucking up her heart to give to you as a present. Leave it to your Cat-Wife to upstage the awesome briefcase I got you.

GregKTwedding

I am perpetually stunned by your loyalty, wisdom, and commitment to our journey. I am unconditionally grateful for every day of our life together.

GregPool

But as the partner leading the way in aging, I’ve noticed recently you’ve started naming your aches and pains. Last night you called your knee pain, “patellar tendonitis”. Last fall you realized your side ache was something called, “a broken rib”. As a person who perpetually calls her skin cancer, “those pesky rashes”, let me tell you: aging ain’t for the weak. Birthdays can easily become a list of things you’ve survived, washed down with champagne and an eye-roll towards the Universe who is trying to kill you.

I’m kidding. You’re tougher than the Universe, and I’m fairly certain the Fates fear you.

But should those douche-canoes forget whose boss, I’ve got your back Baby. I fear no aches. I fear no pains. And I most certainly fear nothing with you at my side.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart! Your ladies love you!


→ 7 CommentsTags: The Girls

Resilience Comes Suddenly?

June 1st, 2014 · 2 Comments

IMG_1925

We moved into temporary housing, A) Because we needed to break the girls out of their comfort zone and develop some resilience, and B) Well? We really didn’t have a choice. Unless we want to live here:

IMG_1935

As you can see, the house is coming along…quickly (if you are plotting its progress against the bell curve of “days since humans began to roam the earth”). It’s currently an adobe-style, or perhaps a dugout, Little House On The Prairie Style. Wait? No…it’s just dirt. Lots and lots of dirt. I’m sure the excavators think we’re hilarious, standing curbside cheering them on with every scoopful of dirt. GO! GO GO GO!!! We live in a town house sinking into the center! GOOOOO!!!!

DSC_0056

But perhaps the hardest part of the move is my realization that it was I who needed to break out of my comfort zone. I’m the one who notices every smell, every small inconvenience, every irritation of living on top of each other and waking up covered in cat. And yet, even with my frustration (of watching my bed sink to the center of the room), I can’t help but be happy here. Last weekend, as we piled into our seats for the 500 Festival parade, I thought, “I’m just so happy”. We got home and the girls created a fort in the small wood line behind our apartment. It was so reminiscent of my own childhood, I realized just how much I missed having trees.

DSC_0058

After a full day of play, we walked to the ice cream store, and meandered back through some of the most quaint streets Indy has to offer. And I thought, “I’m just so happy here”. I’m equally glad I packed my ridiculous stash of felt and let the girls create carpets and bedrooms in their fort. We spent the rest of the weekend poolside with our friends, drinking in the delight of living merely minutes from our gang of pals. Happy, happy.

DSC_0061

OK, so what if water runs right off my counters onto the floor? So what if the washer and dryer are so small I have to do twice the  number of loads of laundry to keep up? I can walk everywhere! We walk to brunch as a family every weekend! It’s like a movie! So what if I am now reminded that “children of the woods” get poison oak and ticks? That’s childhood…we’re RESILIENT. Put on some cortaid and let’s WALK to the Farmer’s Market! Let’s get out of the apartment which exists in a perpetual state of “pick up” in order to walk through the rooms! I can FINALLY get back and forth between home and school several times per day. No more packing up at 6 am, knowing I’ll be living inside my minivan for a 12-hour stretch. HAPPY!

DSC_0038

I’m working on my “bright side”. I’m trying, I really am. After all, we’re still in Indy, the city of love to pieces. My kids are still at the school they love to pieces. We’re heading into a summer which won’t involve hours in the car, just trying to get to a single play date. So what if I’m living in a house so full of insects, I’ve decided to make friends with them? There is a spider who crawls diagonally up my wall behind the computer every single day at 11 am. I call him Bob. We’re cool. And the ants? I give up. They were here first, so who am I plant my flag in their busy season?

DSC_0044

Resilience. Flexibility. Resourcefulness. Those words were flying across my lips when I looked out my bedroom window after hearing very loud sounds last week. What is that….? Dump trucks? Are those men tearing down the TREES?! I ran outside and met a very nice construction foreman who informed me the tranquil field and woods behind my building is turning into 5 apartment buildings. The tennis court where my girls roller skate? It’s coming down, along with their fort. Stop….no. I did not utter the word “Resilience” at that exact moment. There were words in my head, but they weren’t happy words. Crap-tastic? That was one word. But what was I to do? Pick up Bob and fling him at the dump trucks? I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Bob hates violence, and we’ve grown close. I need my allies around me now.

DSC_0003

What’s next? I’ve stopped predicting (but I’m guessing it will involve some kind of smell). Greg got the bikes out of storage and encouraged me to grab my music and take a long walk on the trail system. Happy. We ran out of popcorn on family movie night and Greg made it to the store and back in 7 minutes. Happy. We stopped by the house and sang happy songs over the concrete footers. Happy. Resilient. Flexible. Grateful….finding the bright side. And it’s BRIGHT, because apparently I’m LOSING my shade…sorry. Resilience isn’t coming quickly. It isn’t coming without sweat equity. Maybe, if I’m lucky, resilience will come suddenly?


→ 2 CommentsTags: The Girls

An Addict’s Muse

May 29th, 2014 · 3 Comments

DSC_0062

Here’s a bright side to living in a temporary apartment: I cannot shop! There is simply no place to put new furniture, shoes, or…food. Greg has been trying to give away my jam for a week, and I’m about to muzzle the poor man. Storage is full as well, in case you were imagining those spaces weren’t packed to the ceilings with the second couch, my dining room table, and Kelly’s stuffed animal collection.

SPEAKING of Kelly’s stuffed animal collection…our little plush addict has requested her new room be decorated in a “stuffed animal theme”. Nice. Another word for this theme would be “chaos”, perhaps “messy”, or if you’re feeling fancy, let’s call it “visual cacophony”. But as luck would have it, both girls know my parents refused to allow my mallard duck bedroom when I was their age, and they are using this info wisely. Or shrewdly, as the case may be.

I’ve been very open-minded about her idea, and I’ve let both girls know the proper way to do a theme is to choose colors, and work the theme in via pictures, pillows, and accents. One should not feel compelled to choose a theme and then puke it all over a room. My father’s work partnered him with an interior designer for decades, and while I may not have a talent for decorating, I wasn’t in a coma through my childhood.

So, armed with my past (and still lacking that duck bedroom), Kelly and I put our heads together. We have spent hours on Houzz (talk about addicting!). And while we had some solid ideas, it wasn’t until I ran across this pillow in a small vintage shop that it all came together. One must have a MUSE, in my personal opinion. One must start somewhere. Kelly has been adamant about “no hot pink”, so taking the almost bubble gum pink from this (quite awesome) pillow, we will paint the ceiling and approximately one foot of the wall below the ceiling. We will then add a small chair rail, painted barely cream, along with the remaining wall. Barely cream bookshelves in the form of free-hanging open boxes will adorn her walls, with the insides painted in the blue, pink, and purple in the pillow. These will house her animals. Her bed is antique white, as will be her quilt, barely edged in color, but covered in pillows which enhance our pièce-de-résistance: Our Elephant “Up” Pillow.

I cannot decide between a vintage-style chandelier or something Ikea-esque modern. Her furniture is traditional, so I’m leaning towards a chandelier, but I can’t help but think there is a more whimsically-conservative middle-ground. Thoughts? And also, do you use central pieces to inspire you? Tell me about your favorite!

 


→ 3 CommentsTags: The Girls

We Have A “Getting To Yum” Winner! (Volume 4)

May 26th, 2014 · Comments Off

DSC_0014

Congratulations to Kate! We have a winner of Getting To Yum, The 7 Secrets Of Raising Eater Eaters! I ran the numbers days ago, but wasn’t able to find 5 minutes to tell you the good news. You may have heard about a small car race occurring every year in Indianapolis, but what some folks don’t know, is the race is only a few hours of the Festival. We start celebrating the race in early May (I start in January at Princess selection time), and by the time we hear “Gentlemen and Ladies, Start Your Engines!”, we’ve nearly passed out (some take that too literally) from Community Days, Kids Days, a Snakepit Ball, countless parties and fundraisers, one of the world’s largest parades, a mini-marathon…shall I go on? No, I won’t. I’m wearing you out.

I think it’s proper to start the summer produce and cooking season with a poem about food, written by our own little Kelly (dressed as a monarch, apologies for the weird picture, but I needed something as wacky as Kelly’s poem; her own words are in bold italics):

I run Kelly’s ice cream store,

There are flavors in my freezer you have never seen before,

Divine creations too delicious to resist,

Why not do yourself a favor, try the flavors on my list:

Cricket Minty Custard,

Kitty Fur Blue Mustard.

Carrot Broccoli Eel,

Apple Banana Peel.

Sunshine Orange Juice Whale,

Fancy Nickel Pail.

I run Kelly’s Ice Cream Store,

Taste a flavor from my freezer, you will sure ask for more.

Wow. You won’t find these flavor combos in Getting To Yum. It’s going to be a crazy summer in the kitchen. Congratulations to Kate, and a huge thank you to everyone who entered in the contest. Consider ordering the book, because my kids woke up complaint-free to vegetable omelets for breakfast. This gift of teaching my daughters to eat good food will last forever. Please join us as we start our newest food adventure!


Comments OffTags: The Girls

Vicious Carrots! (Volume 3)

May 22nd, 2014 · 4 Comments

DSC_0013

Kelly has been begging me for “fish, anything with fish…please Mommy”, as of late. Monday night seemed like a good night for a potato-encrusted cod, paired with asparagus and Karen Le Billon’s “Vicious Carrots”. Oh how I love those Vicious Carrots (properly pronounced is Vichy Carrots, but a friend mispronounced them while visiting for dinner, and so delighted her daughters, that this dish will forever be known as “Vicious Carrots” in the Le Billon household).

I am quoted in Getting To Yum as saying, “Wow. The prep was so simple, and I can’t say enough about the texture. You were right…it took cooked carrots to an entirely different level.” I was worried about making them in this little apartment on an electric stove top, after struggling to make so many of my favorite foods outside of my usual surroundings. But, as luck would have it, they were scrumptious. Easy to prepare, gorgeous to devour.

DSC_0018

My point here is this: if you cannot imagine your children licking a plate of cod, asparagus, and carrots, then enter my giveaway for Karen’s latest book. You can leave a simple comment here, and you are entered to win Getting To Yum, The 7 Secrets Of Raising Eager Eaters. I did not magically wake up one morning to children begging for fish and asparagus. I used Karen’s loving and simple steps to train their taste buds to love good food. I say “good food”, not “healthy food”, because healthy makes me think of iceberg lettuce with a wedge of tomato, begrudgingly chewed while wearing sweaty gym clothes. Ugh. Beautifully-prepared, thoughtful, real food IS healthy food. Sitting down to candles and the wonderful scents of a family dinner (see Karen’s book, French Kids Eat Everything for these hints) IS healthy living.

Join me, as this summer we’ll be working our way through this book, and sharing our stories with each other.

My basic dinner prep is as follows:

You can encrust your own fish, which is best done in advance, and thrown in the fridge. It will most likely require a frying pan. There are countless recipes for encrusted fish, and I do enjoy making them. BUT, on a MONDAY (when we’re all tired from not sleeping well on Sunday night), you could stop by your favorite fish market and BUY freshly encrusted fish, and just bake it. And you thought I made everything from scratch. Ha! The prep was the 10 seconds it took me to open the package and put it on the baking dish.

Rice pilaf: there are plenty of boxes of this stuff without any added dyes, flavorings, using non-GMO rice.

Asparagus: Snap at the ends at the natural break. I lightly peel or scrub, depending on how much time I have. Cook bacon until it’s 75% done, and wrap around serving size bundles. Lightly drizzle with grape seed oil (olive oil works too, but I’ve found grape seed to be my favorite with asparagus…I used it accidentally a few months ago, and have never looked back). Salt and pepper. Throw it in with the fish for the last 7-10 minutes of baking.

Vicious Carrots: Get the book. You won’t be sorry.

 

 

 


→ 4 CommentsTags: The Girls

Adventures In Apartment Living

May 20th, 2014 · 4 Comments

DSC_0009

I wrote in “Welcome To Mayberry” about the many new lessons we’re learning while living with a family in an apartment. Gosh guys, I wish I had learned all I need to know. Ha! It’s funny thinking back at my naïve assumptions, just a mere 2 weeks ago. Who will I be 2 weeks from now? If you are guessing heavily medicated and in a straight jacket, you are wrong. My girlfriends all live within walking distance from me and a nearby bar. I’ll be THERE.

Newest Lessons In Apartment Adventure Living:

(1) Remember when I complained about my neighbor’s obsession with steak and onions? SO SORRY I complained. That scent has been replaced with a mold and mildew stench emanating from my furnace/hot water heater closet. My initial rookie attempts to quell the scent with febreeze were futile, at best. I’ve moved to a bottle of bleach solution, and after 48 hours of solid warfare, I’m beginning to accept my defeat. And accepting my need to call maintenance…AGAIN. The property manager mentioned the previous tenant was here “very, very briefly”. I now know why. He’s dead, and his body is stuffed behind my hot water heater.

(2) Speaking of maintenance, we’ve moved from me gifting them homemade biscuits, straight into, “you must be joking”. They’ve taught me how to trip all of the breakers, so I can stop calling every time I lose power in the kitchen. Why one would create a circuit containing the TV and Computer access points which shares a line with the microwave, dishwasher, and stove is beyond me. I only know I can trip it just by walking past the microwave. Maintenance must work by some crazy “Rule of 2″. Everything breaks, and it takes 2 visits to fix it. 2 on the broken hot water heater. 2 for the broken furnace fan. 2 for the circuit problem. The dryer is broken, and they swore they fixed it yesterday by cleaning something in the attic? Clearly…it’s fixed. Which is why my clothes are still wet after a full drying cycle. Got to run that dryer TWICE! Rule of 2! I warned them to shut the attic access tightly after leaving, because there is a hornet’s nest above my bathroom. Hornets all over my bathroom mirror was a lovely “Good Morning To Ya’!” last week. They didn’t believe me, and laughed all the way upstairs with their ladder. Those maintenance guys weren’t laughing on their way back down. I never joke about hornets. And for that matter, who the hell jokes about hornets?!

(3) Despite the stings, I needn’t be concerned about the Fix-It guys’ willingness to come back. When they were here yesterday, I set off the fire alarm. Twice (proving I’m in their “2″ club…I like to fit in). I’m sure they think I’m trying to burn this place down, so they probably camp out nearby, just in case.

(4) Here’s where it gets saucy, so the under 18 crowd should look away: our master bedroom headboard shares a wall with our neighbor’s master bedroom headboard. We clearly retire at the same time at night. Not funny enough? Our husbands have the same name. Oh yeah, baby. I’m fairly certain the wife giggled and winked at me when we passed each other yesterday.

(5) We’ve been living in bathroom opulence these past 9 years. Now that we’re in one, it’s amazing how efficient we can be. At 7 am last Friday, Sara was in the shower, Kelly was brushing her teeth, Greg was shaving, and I was ironing a shirt, all in one bathroom. We could live in that one room if it weren’t for the hornets. And Sara’s demands that I clean the tub every time she bathes. “Daddy uses this shower Mommy! EW!!! He’s a BOY!”

I’m attempting to write this post while baking banana bread, so just to be safe, I turned off the TV and the microwave. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to turn my dryer on…yet again. Where did I leave my can of Raid? If I don’t show back up in this space soon, I’m probably dead and stored near the furnace (whatever you do, don’t call Maintenance…it would take them 2 trips to find me).

*Don’t forget to enter my Getting to Yum Giveaway! You have until Friday to leave a comment about what you’d like to teach your family to eat, and you are entered in a chance to win Karen Le Billon’s latest and greatest taste-training and recipe guide!*

 

 

 


→ 4 CommentsTags: The Girls

Princess Badass

May 18th, 2014 · 4 Comments

DSC_0001

What isn’t apparent from this photo is that the guns were favors from a “Frozen” birthday party. Awesome. They got crowns, princess wands, and Nerf guns. That’s one helluva party in our book. I know there are those who are anti-gun, and anti-Barbie, and anti-TV, and anti-McDonald’s…and…you know…well? I just don’t have the energy. When your kids hit Lower School, it’s enough to get the projects done, along with the taxi-driving, and the feeding of the mouths who seem to always have something to say. If I had time to judge you, it wouldn’t be about the kinds of toys your kids play with or what they had for dinner. If I had that kind of free time, I’d have my laundry folded. Who am I kidding? I’m never folding that laundry.

So if my girls want to put on dresses to play “Coronation Day”, and discover their big day has been interrupted by bad guys which necessitates a gun battle? I’d like to think my daughters are prepared for anything. Why the battle called for a large Vera Bradley tote and mismatched shoes is beyond explanation, but let’s focus on the win. The good guys arrived in style and the bad guys were shot in the hiney with styrofoam sticks. AH! The inhumanity!

They used to be sweet, tiny princesses. Now? These girls are growing up. They have a kingdom to protect. Step aside Hans. Princess Bad-ass, and Princess…Bad-ass Jr. are here, and the gig is up, Man. The gig is UP.


→ 4 CommentsTags: The Girls