2/29/12

Little Girls

Having one boy and one girl gives me the opportunity to love being a Mommy to both boys and girls. There are so many things to enjoy about being a Mom to one child of each sex. Boys and girls are very different, at least mine are.

Boys are absolutely fun. And once I got over the shock that I was having a boy, I have embraced the good, fun an challenging parts of mothering (it doesn't matter that I don't like football, I still love my son.)

With my girl, I get to paint her nails and we can get all sparkly with body sparkle (really, I don't know who likes this stuff more). I get to braid her hair, when she lets me ;). I love to hear her clop around in her play shoes. We sing and dance together. Don't get me wrong, it's not all sugar and spice but it's definitely fun.

Recently I've heard my Girl Mini comment in the morning, "I'm coming Mom, I just have to put on my makeup". Ack! What? She sounds just like me. Her version of makeup and mine are different but it still bothers me.

She has some lip glosses, and some sparkle she can put on her cheeks. Nothing really has color, just a little sparkle. I'm not completely comfortable with her having these things but she loves it and I wear it. I sell Mary Kay beauty products, cosmetics are very easy to find in this house. She sees everything I use and wants to be like me. I realize I'm an adult and she is 5 but I also feel I've given her some clear boundaries.

The problem is that I don't want her to FEEL like she NEEDS makeup. She is a beautiful little girl and perfect just the way she is. But how do I instill that principle when I won't leave the house without my own "face" put on?

I don't think wearing makeup is wrong but it saddens me to think that some day my little girl may feel like she has to cover up to go out. I think makeup is fun. I love to play with different colors. But I also know that this stems from a need to feel "presentable".

I can't protect her self esteem no matter how much I want to. So I keep telling her that she is beautiful and made just the way God wanted her to be made. And then I tell her she doesn't need makeup to look pretty, it's just for fun. To which she looks at me and says, "I know Mom" in that spunky voice that only a 5 yr old girl can use and get away with.





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2/28/12

A Big Year

I don't make New Year's Resolutions. I've never had much success with sticking to them so I have that tradition up long ago.

Today is my birthday. I am 35 on this day. I'm not worried about the number, in fact I see it as a something to celebrate. This may sound corny but a few years ago a child in our neighborhood died from an aggressive form of cancer. As a mother, that hit home pretty hard. I realized, we have no guarantees to make it to the dinner table much less our next birthday. So I chose to embrace each year because each birthday marks another year of memories and experiences for me.

This year I have a lot to look forward to. Both of my hips are now fixed. I find myself daydreaming about the different exercises I'm going to do and do well once I'm healed. I going to push myself to do new things and enjoy the feeling of knowing "I did it!".

I am also finding myself wanting to know more about what my strengths are. I am a mommy and a wife. The keeper of the house and animal caretaker. I enjoy these roles but I'm going to focus a little on myself and learn about what the woman I am.

It's gonna be a big year and hopefully a fun year. I'm looking forward to what lays ahead.




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2/27/12

Great Baked Oatmeal for Breakfast


Baked Oatmeal with Strawberries, Banana and Chocolate

Ingredients:
2 C old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 C light brown sugar
1 t baking powder
1T grated orange zest
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1 C slices strawberries
1/3 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 C milk
1 large egg
3 T melted butter
2 t vanilla extract
1 ripe banana, sliced

Preheat oven to 375. Spray 11x7 pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, sugar, baking powder, orange zest, cinnamon, salt, half the strawberries and half of the choc chips.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, butter and vanilla extract.

Add the oat mixture to the baking dish. Place rest of strawberries and choc chips on top. Add the banana slices on top. Pour milk mixture over everything.

Bake 35 mins. and enjoy!

2/24/12

The Good Book I Haven't Finished

So I'm reading a book that is 849 pages long.  Of course, I am reading it on my Kindle so I don't know what page I'm on.  I'm about 68% through the book.

                                                                

What book?  It is 11/22/63 by Stephen King.  When I think of Stephen King, I think of Pet Cemetery or Cujo.  This book is very different.  I am really enjoying the book.  The problem is that it is so long and I feel like I'm never going to finish.  I will because I am very invested in how this book ends but it feels like I will never get to the end.

So without giving away too much, this book involves time travel and the attempt to prevent JFK from being assassinated on 11/22/63.  There are many themes throughout this book that I find interesting.  One theme is that history does not want to be changed.  Also, there are many parallels between the 2011 world the main character came from to the world he goes to live in from 1958 through 1963.  People from one time remind him of someone from another time.  Places he goes feel like places he has been.  Many times, the characters have similar features or names as someone from another time.  This is not a book about reincarnation, there are not enough years separating the different times for that to happen.  

This is a long read but I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for something to read.

2/22/12

My Cup of Tea



Last year I had shares with my Mother in Law that I would like to have a set of 4 teacups and saucers. We never picked out any china when we got married and I've never missed it. But I really wanted to have my own pretty teacups.

So for christmas, my MIL gave me these teacups and saucers. They are so pretty. And dainty. Not big enough to drink my coffee from but I do enjoy a cup of tea in the evening or with a friend who may not share my passion for coffee (there really are people out there who don't drink coffee, ha!).

So tonight, as I sat down to read, I decided to make some tea and use these fun cups. I love the little klinky sound it makes when I place the cup on the saucer. It really is the simple things in life that can bring a smile to our face.



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2/21/12

Amazing Pork Recipe

I mentioned recently that I find a lot of recipes on Pintrest.  That statement is still true.  Last night I made an awesome pork recipe so I'm passing it along.  

This tasty meal is called Brown Sugar and Basalmic Glazed Pork Loin.  Wow!  Was it easy to make?  You betcha!  Was it as tasty as it sounds?  Absolutely!  My son ate through his portion very quickly and then asked for more.  I gave him a little more and by the time I looked over at him again, it was gone!

Brown Sugar and Basalmic Glazed Pork Loin

Ingredients:
1 (2 pound) boneless pork tenderloin (or regular pork loin)
1 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup water
Glaze
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions:
Combine sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub over roast. Place in slow cooker with 1/2 cup water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. About 1 hour before roast is done, combine ingredients for glaze in small sauce pan. Heat and stir until mixture thickens. Brush roast with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking. Serve with remaining glaze on the side.
We actually used some of the leftover glaze to stir fry some veggies to eat on the side of this fabulous pork. 


2/20/12

No School, What To Do?


So the kiddos have had a nice 4 day weekend to celebrate President's Day. So what should we do with this beautiful sunny day?

First we headed over to the Y to go swimming. We met some friends and had a good time.

We will head home for lunch then be on our way again. This time we are meeting friends at a local Cafe.

This cafe is special because there is a playroom for the kiddos to burn off lots of energy while the mommies get some Big Girl time.

Not a bad way to spend our day. We will all be tired tonight and in the morning, I'll be ready to send the Mini's off to school again.

2/16/12

Patience

They say patience is a virtue. And for many years I have tried to become a more patient person. With others as well as myself. There have been some positive steps in this area but it is soooo hard.

With that said, I think I've been very patient with my recovery and limitations. I'm trying really hard to listen to my body and not overdo it. The last thing I want is to set my progress back and have to wait even longer to get back to my life as usual.

That doesn't mean I don't wish things were different. That doesn't mean I don't stare longingly at my boxing gloves. But I really am trying.

Yesterday I woke up and I was feeling so good. Almost no tenderness and in good spirits. My Girl Mini had a friend over all morning which was great because then I didn't have to entertain her and I could tackle some of the housework that has been neglected since my surgery.

I was on a roll. From one task to another. Kitchen clean, check. Several loads of laundry washed, dried and folded, check. All bathrooms cleaned, check. Dinner prep done, check. You get the picture. It felt so good to be productive and to get things in order. To feel a little like life before surgery. It felt great in fact, until it didn't.

I just kept going from one thing to the next and the next. When I finally sat down, I knew without a doubt I had overdone it. I hurt. And I was exhausted. Simple housework was all it took to knock me off my feet. I was feeling the effects of my productive morning for the rest of the day.

I am feeling very good. I am making quick progress. BUT I am still healing. And now physical therapy is included into my week so my muscles are tired from that work too. I am in no way complaining. I am just realizing that as much as I'm ready for this to be behind me, this is going to take time. And I am just going to have to be patient.


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2/15/12

Music and My Many Moods

I got to thinking about the selection of music that is currently on my playlist and had an interesting observation.  Well, it was interesting to me.  Kind of a self-revelation type thing.  I'm sure I'm not alone with respect to music and my moods.  But I'm going to think this thing through a little more as I write.

I listen to different songs, depending on how I'm feeling.  There is "Girl Power" music when I want to feel strong or I am getting  ready to work out.  There is "Bouncy" music.  This is a term I have used for many years to describe any song that just makes me happy.  You can tell this type of music is playing because I cannot help but bounce around a bit.  Of course, that was before Zumba...now I'm more likely to start dancing in place.  Yes, that goof you see at the store dancing while waiting in line, that's me :)  Bouncy songs are also great for dancing in the kitchen by myself or with the Minis.

If I'm sad, I listen to sad songs of course. Misery loves company and all.  If I'm angry, I'm probably going to go back to those "Girl Power" songs,  you know, I'm tough, I'm strong and I'm gonna sing really loud about it.  And sometimes I just listen to music to listen to music.  Something in the background.  It is relaxing and comforting as I go through the motions of my day.

So the playlist on my phone is pretty diverse and I like it that way.  There is something to meet the need no matter what my mood.

2/14/12

Nag...Nag...Nag...

Nag...that's what I feel I do to my Little Man all the time.  "Chew with your mouth closed", "Use your fork", "Close the door when you use the bathroom", you get the idea.  He is a great kid.  Kind, sweet, very funny, smart (I could go on and on).  But there are a few areas that need improvement and all the nagging in the world hasn't made a difference.  Neither has trying to be logical and explain why we are always on his case. Kids are mean and I don't want other kids to be mean to my kiddo.  A few changes in habits is all it will take, so how to get  him to change those bad habits?

I think I'm on to something!  My Boy Mini loves his Wii time.  We limit his Wii time every day but the child almost lives for that time.  So, I have told him that when we catch him making these improvements (closing the bathroom door for example), he can earn 5 extra minutes of Wii time.  There is a limit, he can only earn a total of 15 extra minutes a day.  But that hasn't seemed to slow him down.  He is eager to earn those precious minutes.

I am happy because I don't feel like I'm always on his case.  I don't want to give him a complex or make him feel like he isn't good enough, so this feel great.  We are rewarding him for making these changes.   It's like I've temporarily tapped into the language of  Boy Mini and that makes me a happy mommy.  I'm hoping this will work long enough for these new habits to catch on.  I guess only time will tell.  But for now...Point 1 for Mom!

2/13/12

Valentine's Treat

I really dreaded the thought of buying two boxes of Valentines Cards and sitting down with the kiddos to sign their names over and over and over again. This year, I decided to try something different.

We spent all morning working on these treats but I'm really happy with the finished product. We chose to make treat bags with homemade chocolate covered pretzels, with sprinkles of course ;)



We made some white covered and some pink covered. They are delicious and really cute!




Each bag has 3 pretzels in it. Two white and one pink. We are going to print out labels to stick on the bags that say Happy Valentines Day! to finish these off.

This took much longer than I expected but I think it was definitely worth it.

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2/10/12

Pintrest, A Virtual Pinboard

                                                          

I kept hearing talk about Pintrest.  On Facebook, I kept seeing different "pins" from Pintrest.  But what is Pintrest?  I went to the website to check it out and I still didn't understand but it was free so I thought, "Why not?" and I attempted to sign up.

I say I attempted because you have to be invited to Pintrest.  You submit a request and then you later receive an invite via email to sign up.  I was a little put off by this whole idea but I decided to submit the request.  A few days later I opened my invitation and created my account.

Once I was "in" I had no idea what I was doing.  There are thousands (probably more) of pictures of things.  Anything you can imagine.  And each picture leads you to a link of how to make or do that something.  Whoa!  Overload!  What to do with all these images?

Pintrest is a virtual pinboard.  That is how the website describes itself.  And basically it is a place to come if you are looking for ideas on anything.  If you like something, you "repin" it and it shows up on your pinboard.  Then your followers can see what you like and then if they feel so moved, they can repin it to their pinboard.  These images are divided into catagories such as, Home Decor, Food & Drink, Fitness, Holidays, DIY & Crafts, Film, Music & Books, etc.   Once you've pinned something to your pinboard you can share it to your Facebook wall so your FB friends can check it out too.

I have found some great recipes here on Pintrest.  This morning my kiddos will enjoy Apple Pie Oatmeal that I made in the crockpot last night and is ready to eaten when they wake up.  For a party we recently attended, I brought Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles...Yum!

It is an interesting site for sure.  You really have to play around with it to fully understand it.  If you haven't checked into Pintrest, I think you should give it a try.  Seeing these images can be very motivating but consider yourself warned, it is very easy to get lost in the world of Pintrest and time will get away from you!

2/8/12

Book Review of Finding Fish

                                                            

I have had a lot of time to read recently.  Finding Fish is an autobiography about Antwone Fisher.  This is not a new release.  The story was published in 2001.  You may remember there was a was a movie made of this man's life story.  I thought I had seen the movie but every part of this story was new to me so I'm guessing I remember when the movie came out.  I remember that Denzel Washington directed the movie and had a part in the movie.  I even seem to remember a scene or two from the commercials but the life of this man was all new to me.

A very tough story to read because of all the injustice a child has suffered, but it does have a very happy ending.  This child never seemed to have a chance.  From the time of his birth until he was a young man, Mr. Fisher endured more pain and suffering than any one person should have to bare.  Physically as well as mentally.  The fear, the loneliness, the lack of self-worth is horrible.  No person, much less a child should be familiar with these feelings, especially on a day to day basis.  Young Mr. Fisher was dealing with how to survive his childhood.

While many parts of this life story tugged at my heart, the sociology background in me was drawn to what makes this guy different.  There were other foster children in the same home.  Right now, there are approximately 15,000 foster children in Pennsylvania alone.  Being in foster care does not automatically mean you will have a hard life or that you will turn to crime.  So what is it in each child that allows some to overcome such difficulties like Mr. Fisher did?  I don't have the answer, but it makes me wonder.

Mr. Fisher credits a teacher, one or two social workers (out of 13 throughout his childhood), as well as a few fellow servicemen who saw something in him that he did not himself recognize.  But I have to say, these moments of belief and support were few and far between.  I do not think I would have been able to take those "nuggets" and used them to better my life.  It's not that he had an overly optimistic attitude.  Not at all.  In fact, one social worker commented that he had a fatalistic attitude (Not surprising) and yet, he was able to keep himself out of trouble and overcome a horrible childhood and go on to have a productive, successful and happy adulthood.  When we are children, we are weak and vulnerable but this boy had a strength inside that allowed him to endure and do more than survive.

If you haven't read this book, I would definitely recommend this one.  It's probably not a good beach read (not light and fluffy) but that's okay, it's only February ;)

2/7/12

A Little Humor

I promise this is not going to turn into a recovery blog.  But right now, this recovery is pretty all consuming.  So today I am going to share a few humorous moments I keep experiencing.

Remember, I am supposed to use my crutches for 4 weeks...I have one week down.

1.  My daughter shouts, "Busted!"  I respond, "Busted? For what?"  She says, "For not having your crutches" as I am carrying on with life as usual (as it can be right now).

2.  The moment of panic when I get to the next room and realize I walked away again without my crutches.  I'm sure I have made some hilarious faces at this exact moment.

3.  I cannot count the number of times I have finished doing something without the assistance of my crutches (seriously, its tough to empty the dishwasher, switch the laundry, get ready in the morning, etc with these things attached to my armpits) and then can't remember where I left them.  They are usually in two different places.

4.  I made it to the gym yesterday.  Yes, I am taking it very easy.  No cardio.  No boxing.  Just toning the upper body and some core work.  It was hilarious when my friend was helping me by carrying the crutches down the stairs for me (no I don't need them on the stairs).  As the hall got crowded we got separated.  When I got to the bottom I was trying to pick up the pace a little bit and thought to myself to an outsider, it must have looked like he was keeping them away from me.

So why do I need these crutches?  I seem to get along well enough without them, right?  Well, the doc has me scared into keeping them around.  He says they are not for weight baring.  They are a reminder not to twist.  If I twist too quickly or the wrong way, I risk breaking my hip (Gulp!) or re-tearing the tear that he repaired.

2/6/12

Busy Hands

So...I'm having a very tough time being still.  I need a break from reading.  The world doesn't stop because I'm supposed to take it easy and rest.  I decided I needed a project to work on.  Something to keep my hands busy.

After dinner on Saturday, Andy took me to the craft store and I bought the needed materials to do something I haven't done in about a decade.  I am crocheting a throw for my living room.  It is mindless.  It is relaxing.  And it keeps me still (well, not my hands but most of me).

I still need to get up and out.  Some things are too hard to change.  Even if its temporary.   I have always gotten a rush creating something out of nothing.  And this project is one that gives me satisfaction as I watch it grow.  I'll post a pic when its finished.

If you had a few weeks to slow down, what would you do to keep your mind and body busy while fixing a somewhat permanent imprint of your rear into the couch?  

2/3/12

Random Thought

I recently read somewhere about writing a description of the first time you drove.  That may sound like a silly thing to write about, but for me, its kind of a funny story.  Although, at the time, I know my Mom didn't think so. 

I think I was 12.  Before our move to Pennsylvania in 1986, my family lived in Virginia.  So fast forward a few years after the move and we are back in VA visiting some friends from when we were younger.  These friends had moved to a bigger house on a lot of land.  And so these four boys had lots of room to roam and lots of freedom that my younger sister and I were not accustomed to.  

At 12 yrs. old, I was the oldest out of all six kids.  So the boys had this tractor they were allowed to drive around on the property.  Attached to this tractor was a small wagon.  I think you can see where this is going, right?  So we are all piled onto this tractor pulled wagon and I am totally fascinated.  I wanted to drive this thing. Afterall, I am the oldest, if these boys can do it, so can I.  

I get behind the wheel, but I made sure that one of the boys stayed up front with me.  I was smart enough to know that I didn't want to be up there all by myself.  So I'm "driving" this tractor all around and having a pretty good time.  We end up close to the house.  And there was this half circle that went around a tree.  At this point, my dear friend has gotten tired of helping me so he's turned around and goofing off with the kids behind us.  

I go to make this turn, leading the tractor and the wagon around this tree.  I was really nervous.  I didn't want to do this.  But it was too late we were on our way...and then there was a horrible sound.  SCREECH!  or something like that.  

I had side swiped my mom's brand new car with the wagon.  Oops!  Mom wasn't even home.  She and her friend had gone out somewhere and left the kids with the Dads.  Boy, was I scared.  What had I done?  She had only made 1 payment on this car and I had hit it.  I never should have been driving and why didn't I just go straight?  I was going to be in so much trouble.  

So Mom gets home and she didn't notice.  My Dad tells her what happened.  She didn't believe him.  This was totally out of character for me so she thought he was kidding.  When she realized he was serious, she was very mad at him.  (As a mother myself, I would have been angry at Dad too, he should have been watching, right?) 

I don't think I got into much trouble.  The fear of trouble, and the knowledge that I had disappointed my Mom where very stressful for me.  I should never have been driving.  I should never have tried to make that turn.  But I did.  It was fun while it lasted but very unusual behavior for me.  I can laugh about this now and I hope my Mom can too.  I wonder if there is any coincidence that I didn't get my driver's license until I was 19 yrs. old?  Hmm....

2/2/12

Who Died?

                                                          


Strange question, but I often find myself asking Andy this question, "who died?".  There are many days when I am driving around and I see the American Flag flying at half mast.  My understanding from childhood is that the flag is flown at half mast when someone important dies.  But it really does seem to be flying low much more often now.

So I did some research to find out the rules of flying the flag at half mast.  There are set days that the American flag is to be flown at half mast.  They are Peace Officers Memorial Day, Memorial Day (only the flag is to be raised at noon on this day), Patriot Day (9/11) and Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

The other days where the flag is flying half mast are to honor a person who has died.  Most of these persons are government officials.  The number of days the flag flies low is determined by the office that was held by the official.

Other citizens can also have this honor but it must be ordered by the President or the Governor of the state.  Examples of deceased citizens that might be honored with by lowering the Flag to half-staff include local religious leaders, youth leaders, honored teachers or sports coaches, local politicians, or a local hero (http://www.gettysburgflag.com/flyflaghalfmast.php).

 Currently, the American Flag is flying at half mast in Pennsylvania.  My guess was that this is to honor the recently deceased and much loved football coach Joe Paterno.  After a few moments of searching online, I confirmed this was the reason for the flag being flown at half mast.

I'm not sure how the average citizen, schools and businesses keep up with the proper flag flying etiquette. And I guess I'm still going to keep asking Andy, "who died?".

2/1/12

Dear Diary, It's Over.

So it is now two days post surgery and I am so happy.  Not jumping around for joy happy (that is still many weeks away) but I am very happy.  This is the 2nd time I've been through this.  Lucky for me, I only have two hips.  Last time my anxiety was based on the unknown about the surgery and recovery.  This time, I wasn't worried about the surgery or recovery so much because I knew what to expect.  Only, I guess every experience is unique so I've been pleasantly surprised with my recovery so far.

First, I noticed right away, I was not swollen like I was the first time.  I had a little swelling but last time I was shocked to find my right thigh to be about twice its normal size.  Not this time :)  Also, the bandage was different.  The bandage the first time was about 1 1/2 feet long and probably a good 6-8 inches wide.  I had no idea what was under there.  This time, I just had a little bulge of gauze covered with this super clear tape.  Last time, I couldn't shower for 3 DAYS!!!!  That was awful.  I was allowed to shower the very next day this time around.  That in itself helps a person feel better.  Its hard to feel good about yourself when you are sitting around in your own stink :(  Another difference is that the first time the damage was so extensive, the doc couldn't repair the tear.  That meant I only needed to use crutches for two weeks.  This time, the tear was repaired (which is good) but that means I have to use the crutches for four weeks.  Four weeks is going to be a challenge for me.  But it is important so I will do my best.

I took the bandage off this morning as directed by the doc and was surprised yet again...there are only two incisions.  Last time I had three.  I am moving about pretty well.  A little slow at times and by evening I'm pretty wiped out.  But for the most part, I feel fine.  A little tender but hey, I just had hip surgery.

My biggest problem is boredom.  I am not used to sitting around and being still.  I need to move.  I need to get out and see people.  This is going to be a real obstacle.  Today, a friend is coming to get me and we are going out to lunch.  I am thrilled to have this little excursion to look forward to.  And I have friends calling and stopping by to visit.  This is very helpful.

I can't wait until next week when I start going to the Y to walk the track.  That is going to be the highlight of my day.  Getting to see my friends and feeling like I am getting some exercise.  Overall, I am in a good place. My attitude is good and I'm just looking forward to the near future when this is all behind me.  I'll start physical therapy in about 2 weeks and then I'll be able to get back to the gym and start slowly getting back to some routine.  I am very excited about this year.  I've decided that this is the year that I am going to become an athlete.  That may sound silly to you but coming from me, the girl who didn't play sports and hated gym class, it is a big statement.  I am ready to work hard and do what needs done and then I want to revel in the knowledge that I did it.  I just wish I could go back and show those coaches/gym teachers what I was able to achieve.

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