Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mmmmmm, More Food!

Today's Recipes: Green Enchiladas, Fruit Salad

Ya'll, I made Green Enchiladas, and DAMN they were good! Here you go - you're welcome :-P

Rachel's Green Enchiladas

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Chili Powder
Salt & Pepper
4 garlic cloves - minced
1/2 pkg of sliced mushrooms - broken into even smaller pieces
1/2 pkg of baby spinach - sliced
Cotija cheese - crumbled (a salty, crumbly Mexican cheese)
Monterey Jack cheese - grated
10 whole wheat tortillas
1 can mild & 1 can medium Hatch Green Enchilada Sauce
Plain Greek Yogurt

preheat the oven to 350°. sautee the chicken breasts in a small amount of EVOO - while cooking, season with chili powder cumin and s&p to your taste (I used quite a bit). take the chicken out of the pan & set aside. using the same pan, sautee the mushrooms and garlic. when they are mostly done, turn the heat off, lay the spinach on top and cover until the spinach wilts. chop the chicken into small bits. in a bowl, combine the chicken and the mushroom, garlic and spinach mixture.

spray a glass baking dish with non-stick spray. now, since I used whole wheat tortillas, and they are harder to roll than corn, I laid the ingredients into the tortillas, and set them into the dish as though they were tacos (unrolled).

Then I rolled them one by one without removing them from the dish so that they held each other in place. SO, a little Cotija and a little chicken/mushroom/garlic/spinach mixture into each tortilla. roll 'em up using whatever method works best for you. place them 'open-side down' in the glass baking dish. cover liberally with sauce - that's why I used 2 cans. bake for 40 minutes. uncover, sprinkle with MJ cheese and dot the surface with plain yogurt. bake uncovered for an additional 10-15 minutes.

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good! here are a few options for substitutions:

- whole wheat tortillas - you could use any flavor: corn, flour, flavored...
- Cotija - you could use ANY cheese. I chose Cotija because I had some in the fridge from my Fiesta weekend impromptu gathering. I also have access to multiple Mexican cheeses. If you do not, don't fret, just pick your favorite cheese and go for it :-)
- Hatch enchilada sauce - this is another product I am just lucky to have access to. there are lots of other pre-made green sauces out there, and it sounds ridiculously easy to make a yummy tomatillo sauce from scratch if you have access to those babies.
- Greek yogurt - you could use sour cream or Mexican Crema. I happen to have yogurt in the fridge as Lily Ruth will eat pretty much anything mixed with Greek yogurt, and I have noticed in the past that it subbed in well for sour cream... or even mayo...

I also made another yummy fruit salad (I ADORE warm weather fruits!):

Mandarin Orange slices
Black Grapes
Chili Powder

Great. Now I'm hungry again. Time to plan out a few meals and head to the store!
xoxo, r

Professional Me

I filled out a form for my Massage School today. It's a professional interview questionnaire that they are asking graduates to complete for their Massage Blog. I enjoyed completing it, and decided to share parts of it here. The questions I'm leaving off were boring :-P

Why were you interested in Massage Therapy?

I had been searching for my professional 'path' for what felt like FOREVER. I had gone to college, changed majors 4 times, dropped out to 'figure out what I wanted' and had never made the time to go back. I was good at my job, but hated it... then my body began to hurt. Doctor after doctor (all out of my own pocket) were unable to diagnose my pain. On the advice of a family friend, I finally saw a massage therapist. He helped to alleviate my pain almost immediately, and saw a structural imbalance that was easily turned around. That got me thinking...

What was the impact of Massage School on your life?

Massage school gave me a skill set that I will carry for the rest of my life regardless of how long I earn my living as a massage therapist. Becoming a therapist has given me a different way to approach my world. I feel that I am more thoughtful and more patient, and I would like to think that I am more connected to who I really am and what I have to offer.

What was your favorite Massage School class?

I really loved massage school in general. That being said, I loved anatomy. I am a serious science dork at heart. Having the knowledge of 'what goes where' in my head really guides my hands. I tend to close my eyes and really visualize my intent as I work. I also truly love Shiatsu. Not only do I dearly love to puuuull on limbs, learning but Shiatsu really solidified then enhanced what I knew about the body. It also took away the fear I had about making true, solid contact with a client's body.

Tell us about your fondest memory.

Blindfold Massage Day. I had sprained my thumb, and was unable to participate, so I was a 'draping monitor'. There were moments of true massage beauty interspersed with moments of absolute hilarity - yet I was unable to make a sound. It was the first time I was able to watch my classmates truly surrender themselves in a session. Amazing.

- so there you have it in a nutshell - Rachel's Journey From Desk Jockey to Bodyworker. Maybe Massage School is in YOUR future...

... that's an actual image from one of our classes. Granted, we were goofing around, but it still happened in massage school!

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Outside With My Girls

Today was too pretty not to play outside. Especially since it will soon be too hot to play outside in the afternoons!

We started out wandering over to the springs at the Diocesan Center. We soon found that we had too much stuff. We did not need things like shoes... or pants... or a leash...

Lily Ruth LOVED getting her fingers and toes wet!

Then we moved down to the larger pools. The springs are so high that the ground by the bridge is boggy - always a good sign!

Then we moseyed over to some shade over soft grass. This led to eating grass...

and rolling on grass then smiling a lot.

Not a bad way to spend an afternoon - damp and pants-less while eating nature. We should all be so lucky :-P

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mama Moments

Mama Moment #1: The scene - Mama/Baby bath time.
The dilemma - You've already stripped down when you realize that you forgot a bunch of stuff. You must run all over the house hurriedly looking for towels, baby bath toys, etc. that you didn't corral ahead of time. Little one has been left standing outside the tub contemplating the incoming water and her growing toy options.
The Outcome - Things are going nudely along - everything sought has been found - and you are on your way back into the bathroom when your darling daughter crawls around the corner with a giant self-satisfied grin on her face, and your underwear in her hand. Makes you feel like Mother of the Year.

Mama Moment #2: The scene - Getting ready to leave the house.
The conundrum - Babies must be occupied at all times.
The dilemma - Up until now, Lily Ruth has been more than content to sit in the sink and play with anything she can reach. Her preference has been for my Bed Head styling stick and her container of teensy-weensy hair clips. Recently, she figured out how to turn on the taps. Now, it's a constant power struggle to keep the 'hot' tap turned off or at least down. I also have to wait to clothe her until I'm done because she ends up soaked. Also, she is no longer happy with sitting. She MUST stand. Here's the visual:

The Outcome - ??? Obviously, this can't go on for much longer. What am I going to do? I guess I could just stop applying deodorant and moisturizer, fixing my hair, brushing my teeth or faffing about with makeup. That would solve it. Maybe if I buy her her own makeup, she'll sit still and apply it... to the sink, the mirror, the taps, her body...

Food as Love

Today's Recipes: Summery Salmon, Cool Asparagus, Fruit Salad

Have I mentioned that I love to cook? Have I mentioned that I cook as a way to express my love for those around me? Well, I do.

This is something that came down to me through the blood. In my family, we show love not through gifts that we purchase (although we do some of that as well), but by getting together, being together, laughing together and sharing a meal. It's what we do :-)

I was able to show some love this week - it was my Grandfather's birthday! Those folks have been on a 'flat belly' diet, and have had a LOT of chicken lately, so the birthday boy requested salmon. Done and done. Then I just had to respect the fact that they are trying to watch their fat/caloric intake while planning the rest of the meal - easy-peasy. We ended up with a beautiful summer meal - my first of the year. Here's what we had:

Summery Salmon

2 Lbs salmon
1 large orange
1 large lime
5 garlic cloves - minced
1/4 c cilantro leaves - chopped
kosher salt

lay the salmon (skin side down) in a glass baking dish. Squeeze the orange and the lime over the fish. Sprinkle the garlic and cilantro over the fish. Sprinkle (sparingly) with salt. Cover, and marinate 2-3 hours. You can either grill or bake the salmon. I baked, so... pre-heat the oven to 400° F. Drain extra juice from the baking dish - leave the cilantro and garlic in place. I didn't spray the dish with non-stick spray, and it wasn't awful, but I wish that I had, so you could go either way. Bake for 20 minutes. Check the thickest part of the fish - opaque=done. If it's not done, chuck it back in.

Cool Asparagus

2 bunches fresh asparagus
olive oil
Cavender's Greek Seasoning

snap off the bottoms of the asparagus stalks. Discard the bottoms & rinse the stalks. Place in a large skillet with a small amount of olive oil. Cover & steam over medium heat - adding small amounts of water as needed to steam (not sautee) the asparagus. When the stalks turn bright green, you can start checking for done-ness. When done, rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process, transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with seasoning or toss with a small amount of salad dressing. cover and set aside (or chill) until dinner.

Fruit Salad

mix in lime juice, chili powder and cinnamon for an extra kick. TRUST ME - it's awesome

mix all of the fruit together - add avocado immediately before serving. If you end up storing leftovers, remove all avocado first! Don't wuss out and leave the avocado out. Go for it. You could (of course) use any fresh fruit, it's the avocado, lime, cinnamon and chili powder that make this truly stellar.

Brown Rice
Sliced Tomato

it was a little taste of heaven. Also, a great gathering for a fantastic reason.

I also caught the Fiesta 'bug'. Since Lily Ruth is too little for most Fiesta events, we only made it to the King William Parade. I still had this almost physical itch for a celebration, so I decided to have people over at the very last minute. I was just going to invite our neighbors, but ended up with 2 couples. It was pretty great. The weather was awesome. The house was wide open. Music played in the background. Babies laughed as they chased the dog. And of course, there was food. I made:

- Diane's Pork Tenderloin using Anchor Steam Porter and 10 or so garlic cloves served as tacos on fresh tortillas
- Fruit Salad using the rest of the uncut fruit from Grandfather's birthday dinner
- my 'Mexican Rice'
- sliced Avocado
- crumbled Cotija cheese
- sauteed mushrooms, onions and Anaheim peppers
- roasted corn

Today, we had Kyla and her wonderful sons over for brunch. Don made French Toast, and we had scrambled eggs and bacon with it. Then we lounged around watching the kiddos do various adorable things.

I feel like I am surrounded by tiny moments of pure joy.

Maybe they were always there, maybe not. Maybe the only difference is that I have to be very alert all of the time, so I'm noticing them more. Maybe I'm just more open to joy these days.

What a great weekend. Now, if only it were warm enough to swim!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Today is a strange day. Lily Ruth is just feeling a little bit tender-hearted today. We've all had days like this, haven't we? Every single action on the part of someone else feels like a direct attack on you. Tears abound. Wailing is the go-to mode of communication.

We woke up on time, nursed and discussed our options. Keely allowed as how she would REALLY like to take a walk. Lily & I talked it over, and she agreed to give it a try. Then things went downhill.

Lily Ruth's litany went a bit like this: I really didn't want a diaper change. Please don't put pants on me. I don't feel like nursing anymore, but when you try to end the session, I will bite you then cry when you yelp. I don't want any more fruit, but I do want to cry and throw it on the floor. I need a nap, but will instead throw myself around your bed whining, sucking my thumb and hitting at you when you try to cuddle me.

I finally gave up on the nap after an hour. We got up and started getting ready for a walk - again.

Almost immediately, Lily Ruth wanted to do some standing and/or walking instead. I stood her up and let go. She stood steadily for a few seconds, grinned, squatted down, overbalanced her giant baby head, and whacked her mouth on the hardwood floor.

I scooped her up and held her while she raged against the cruel, cruel world. I rocked her tiny, sweaty body as big fat tears poured from her red eyes. I offered her nursing as a balm for her hurt feelings.

We're back in bed.

The light is really pretty today. It's overcast and cool. Not a bad day to have the house wide open... or to be stuck under the most amazing baby ever...

Count your blessings, Ya'll. Count yourself lucky while you're at it. I am.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bruise For Thought

Lily Ruth gave herself a whopper of a bruise this weekend. It's on her cheek, and it's EPIC. The thing is, due to her flair for the dramatic, I'm not sure which of her 'I've fallen and my world is ending' tumbles resulted in the mark. She took at least 3 such spills. She also took a few others that were not quite so scream-worthy, yet were no less terrifying for her mother.

It brought on a wave of motherhood anxiety (MA) combined with a trip down memory lane (ML)...

MA: Seriously!? Why did I wait until I was 36 to have a baby? I may be too old for this, and I over think everything!

ML: When my Mama was 36, she was re-emerging into a social/dating scene due to a divorce, and I was IN HIGH SCHOOL!!!

MA: SERIOUSLY!!! WHY DID I THINK YHIS WAS A GOOD IDEA??? (this was after her 2nd or 3rd tumble)

ML: Mama always knew what to do.

MA: Shit. Should I always know what to do? Crap. I need a book or an internet article or SOMETHING!

ML: Wait, maybe it's a mama job to always act like you know exactly what is going on... not that my own mother wasn't clairvoyant. I'm sure she was.

So, it went on like that for most of the afternoon, then I discovered Hyperbole and a Half, and then I didn't care if I was a bad mother anymore. I just wanted to be half as awesome as Allie. Ya'll, I wasted at least two hours this weekend (more, I suspect) reading her blog. I think that I needed the break from focusing on the mommy side of me. While I love this journey, and wouldn't trade it for anything, it can feel limiting at times. Distractions are good when you feel like that. Distractions can keep you from setting The Funk loose on your own weekend.

In completely unrelated news, we took a really great walk this morning. I pushed my pace (and the stroller :-P) all the way to Starbucks. Then we took the long way home which means we walked about 2.5 miles. I soooo wish that Lily Ruth was able to get exercise while Keely and I walk. She gets bored in the stroller. Then when we get home & I want to collapse, she's rested and ready to rumble.

Also completely unrelated, I've decided not to participate in the blog-land 'award' memes. I love them in theory, but in reality it feels like I'd be sitting around patting myself on the back for writing a journal. I am ridiculously grateful to Eileen for her beautifully complementary words, but I won't be passing it on. While I love that other people read this, I started this blog for me - as a way to push my comfort level with writing and journaling and as a way to document this time in my life. I will continue to follow, read and comment on other blogs, but when it came time to pass on the 'award', it made me feel like I was either self-promoting or judging the worthiness of other blogs. It made me uncomfortable, so I'm not going to do it. I'm sure I've over-thought this (again), but apparently, that's who I am.

Wow. That was hard to write! I'm such a people pleaser that I re-worked that last paragraph countless times. I was sure that everyone (all 10 people who read my blog... including me...) would think that I was saying that THEY shouldn't pass around blog awards or that I was insulting them in some other manner. O.k. THIS is why I used to avoid journaling of any kind - self doubt. OI! I'm doing it again! Martini, please!

Here, let's switch subjects. I 'planted' herbs and finished 'planting' the grass plugs. I use the quotes because my gardening techniques involve fancy tools like a kitchen spoon, a pizza cutter and the toe of my sneaker. The herbs seem happy

and the new grass plugs don't look any worse than their brethren who were 'planted' two weeks ago, so maybe they're not dead. I also kicked/pulled the dead bushes out of the front bed and whacked a bunch of young Hackberry saplings off at ground level. Those things are jerks. Since I just walloped 'em off with hedge clippers, they'll be back. But it made me feel better to do it. I also improperly yanked out a bunch of weeds in the back bed. They'll be back, too. Such is my lot as an impatient, untrained yard-keeper... :-)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dear So & So... take 9

Dear So and So...

I DO love Fridays! If you want to join in the fun, head over to Kat's place (3 Bedroom Bungalow to Let in Crazytown) and link up :-)

Dear Doggie,

I'm sorry that you hate the rain, but I love it. You are welcome to crawl up here to snuggle/hide any time that you need, but I will continue to throw the house wide open every time that it storms. Sorry.

Mama Dog


Dear Rain,

Hi! Welcome back! I love the way the light looks over the pool right before you get here. The baby thinks it's hilarious when you plop soft, warm drops on her arms and head.

Your presence is welcome, and your results are appreciated, but let's not overstay our welcome. This isn't Seattle. Just saying.

Luv Ya,
Little Miss Damp Toes


Dear Baby Daughter,

What is up? I thought you loved me! The biting stops or the nursing stops. Not negotiable.

In other news, you continue to be the apple of my eye. Daddy and I had so much fun showing you off last weekend! You were beyond adorable.



Dear Eileen,

THANK YOU FOR THE AWARD! I promise to officially accept it and pass it on soon. Maybe if Lily Ruth takes a nap later...

You are cool (Ya'll should check out Giving Her All She's Got)!
the Grateful Geek

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Face Bonking and Eating

Today's Recipe: Warm Weather Lasagne

Lily Ruth's personality seems to be growing faster than her legs, and folks, that is FAST. Each day presents a new opportunity for her to assert herself - and she grabs ahold of said opportunity and shoves it into her mouth.

I'm sure that every parent feels like their child is special and gifted. Some of them are even right :-P This being my first go at parenting, it's hard to discern normal from extraordinary because every new thing is covered with awesome like a layer of glitter... and I LOVE glitter.

Being me, I long for labels to stick on things so that everything has a clearly delineated place to be. Also, I would prefer it if everything fit into my own definition of 'acceptable'. Not to say that I am narrow minded. Quite to the contrary - if you could see my floors (and consequently, Lily Ruth's leg warmers), you would know that my version of acceptable is wide open and a bit sloppy. I just like to know what's what. Parenting is the exact opposite of that. So far, I've figured out that a lot of the time the best you can do is love fiercely, keep them from true harm and lead by example.

Especially scary to try when your child's emerging personality seems to be fearlessly inquisitive, terrifyingly intelligent and defiantly independent. Case in point, the head bonk. Lily Ruth's new favorite thing to do is to bonk her forehead on something (wall, furniture, Mama). She starts off gently, and increases force until it hurts/her forehead is red - laughing all the while. I have 'allowed' this without even trying to deter her, but today changed that. Today, we were in the pasta aisle of the grocery store when my darling daughter decided that she was done. She kicked her heels and vocalized. I said 'just a minute, baby. We're almost done'. She replied by banging her FACE against the cart handle several times in quick succession until she hit her mouth hard enough to warrant (in her mind) a top-of-her-lungs, full out, red faced scream. I was stunned, Then I was irritated and embarrassed. Nobody wants to be the mom with a screaming kid in the grocery store*. I scooped her into my arms (her original request), and hurried awkwardly through the rest of the store. Steering the cart with one hand and a foot.

What should I have done? Could this have been averted? Oh LORDY!

Well, the whole day was not modeled on that experience (whew). We had a great visit to Nanny's office, good lunch, an o.k. nap, a new toy, and delicious dinner at the Homestead.

Lunch was sort-of a surprise. Remember how I was worried about freezing cheese sauce? Well, like most worries, it would have been better left uncontemplated as the outcome was non-essential to anything. If it hadn't frozen well, who would have cared? As it turns out, it was fine. I followed the precedents set by my baby food pureeing, and slapped it into some ice cube trays, shoved it in the freezer and forgot about it. I saw it today as I foraged for lunch food, turned it out into a freezer bag, snagged three cubes, and went to town :-) I boiled up some teeny-tiny pasta shells, warmed up the cubes of frozen cheese sauce with some turkey sausage and frozen broccoli, combined it all, and served it up.

Lily Ruth was in HOG HEAVEN...

as was I. There was even enough left over to put into tiny containers for Lily to enjoy at Parent's Day Out tomorrow!

I had never given it any real thought before having a baby of my own, but I wouldn't have thought that feeding a baby was as easy as cooking good, healthy food then feeding it to them, but for us it is. I had visions of either jars of pureed weirdness or special recipes, equipment everywhere and separate meals until she was 'old enough' for other stuff. As it turns out, that's just not the case. My daughter nurses as often as she wants and is offered everything that I eat. Some of it she accepts gladly. Some of it she takes, mashes around then rubs into her skin. Some of it she throws directly onto the floor. Whatever the case, she's learning about food, and will eat more of it as time goes on. I feel very blessed that I have a 'good eater'... now, if only she was a 'good sleeper' too! What I wouldn't give for a full night of sleep!!!

Speaking of good eaters and good food, I made lasagna for dinner tonight, and it was sooooooooo gooooooood. I try to 'lighten up' lasagna in the warmer months by using more veggies and less cheese, and this is a good example of that:

Rachel's Warm Weather Lasagna

2 links hot Italian sausage - (I removed it from the casing)
1 small eggplant - diced
2 fresh tomatoes - diced
1 medium yellow onion - diced
1 pkg sliced mushrooms (I prefer crimini/baby bella)
4 large garlic cloves - finely minced
1 bag fresh spinach (frozen would work just fine - defrost it first)
1 jar GOOD tomato sauce - there's no shame in bottled sauce, but there IS shame in crappy bottled sauce
1 pkg lasagna noodles - uncooked
fresh mozzarella cheese
grated parmesean cheese

cook the sausage in a skillet. add the eggplant and tomatoes. simmer until the veggies are almost done then set aside (with all juices). using the same skillet, sautee the onion, mushrooms and garlic until the onions are almost translucent and the mushrooms have begun to shrink. turn the heat off, add the spinach to the pan, and cover until the spinach is wilted. lightly cover the bottom of a 9 X 13 baking dish with tomato sauce, then lay in a layer of uncooked noodles. add the onion, mushroom & garlic mixture. top with a layer of sliced mozzarella. add another noodle layer. lay in the sausage, eggplant and tomato mixture with all it's juices. coat that layer liberally with sauce (retain approx 1/2 of your sauce). add another noodle layer. top with the remaining sauce - make sure that all visible noodle has sauce on it, or you'll have crispy noodles. cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 50 minutes. remove from the oven, cover the top with parmesean, bump the oven temp up to 400°F, and bake (covered) for an additional 10 minutes. yum.

So, a shaky start, but in balance, a good day :-)

Go to bed, ya'll

* I almost forgot to explain my asterisk! I was once in the store (YEARS ago), and heard a kid screaming angrily from the other end of the building. The screaming continued off and on, getting gradually closer, until I reached the middle of the store. I rounded a corner, AND IT WAS SOMEONE THAT I KNEW!!! She was miserable and mortified, and the kid was FINE - just pissed off, and she had shopping to do. Ahhhh, Mommyville.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Older Tales - a Melange

In preparation for shutting down my Myspace profile, I'll be reposting a few of my favorite posts from that blog... bear with me if you've been subjected to these before. I decided that it was important to me to preserve the 'voice' that I had then...

A Few Things I've Learned - 10/07/09 (3 1/2 months old)

um, well... it's been interesting... or rather, not interesting so much as crazy... and yet we persevere...

3 1/2 months is tooooo young for out-of-town travel... it is more work than relaxation for Mama.

A baby of the aforementioned age can decide to go for over 12 hours without sleep, but she will make sure that you are as miserable as she believes herself to be.

13 pounds sounds light, but it will soon feel as though it could rip your arm out of it's socket - or perhaps you will just wish that it would.

My love for motherhood comes and goes... and comes back again. Strangely, it is not dependent upon the amount of screaming involved in any given day...

October weather is not any more conducive to clothes-wearing than July, August or September weather was. My best bet is still undergarments and (maybe) a tank top... unless I have to leave the house - then I stand in front of the closet and sob a little.

In that same vein, if you felt that you had 0.00 things to wear before pregnancy, you will have negative 3,000 things to wear after, and less money to remedy the situation.

It doesn't help to be a massage therapist yourself if your hands are too worn out to rub your own neck.

If someone with no attention span decides that they are bored, you are shit out of luck. There is no pleasing them.

There is no real way to explain why people agree to parenthood. Maybe they were hormonally tricked into believing it will be a good idea. Perhaps their friends lied to them about how hard it really is. The thing is, it can be every bit as miserable as it sounds, but somehow it not only evens out, but you come out ahead. Maybe the whole thing is a cosmic sleight-of-hand trick... pick a card. any card... no, not that one...

Late Night Musings - 09/25/09 (3 months old)

Everyone says it, but until you stand over your baby's bed in the middle of the night staring at them while they sleep, there is no way that it could even make sense. Until you're there just because you couldn't stand to not see them any longer, and you had to make sure that nothing could hurt them, the words didn't even have meaning. I'm crying now, but I think that it's because I finally understand what it means when 'they' say that the love you have for your child is like nothing you have ever felt before. Even if you believe that you have loved more deeply than anyone has ever loved, that feels like nothing compared to this. It's a bit surreal, and it's absolutely terrifying. I feel guilty for blowing off every single person who tried to explain this to me. I almost wish I could blame it on booze...

There is also nothing that compares to the first time you realize that this creature (for whom your love knows no bounds) is also smelly beast who will not be cleaning up after itself, and you alone are in charge of this diaper change.

Continuing in the theme of life altering moments, the first time someone screams into your ear at the very top of their lungs while simultaneously kicking you someplace tender and pulling your hair and you do NOT respond in kind, you just might be a parent.

If you realize that your back has seized up and one of your legs is completely numb because you have been sitting on the floor singing along to children's songs and trying to entertain someone who has no attention span for the last hour or so, you have just lived through every day of my life for the past 3 months.

My Life as a Baby Growing Device 02/13/09 (halfway there)

Well, here I am. Someplace I've always (secretly) wanted to be, and yet was not really prepared for - pregnant... oh, and 35 (almost 36)...

Since my mom had my first brother, I've thought that pregnancy was amazing. Through the years when I didn't want children of my own, I felt sad that I was going to have to miss out on pregnancy and birth. Now it's my turn, and I feel oddly compelled to lay it all out for ya'll - maybe it's the Benadryl talking, or the stress, or the lack of alcohol, random bad behavior or any of my other usual vices, but here it comes:

My life was crumbling around the edges a bit when Miss Lily Ruth was conceived. I mistook my early pregnancy symptoms for stress, and was imbibing a bit too much of the devil's juice on a nightly basis to combat said stress when I figured out that there was a baby in my body.

I quit drinking immediately - both coffee and alcohol - but miss them both desperately. I cheat with half-caff almost daily, and have taken up chocolate instead of wine (mostly).

I took a picture with my cell phone of the two home pregnancy tests that confirmed her presence, and still look at it regularly.

I had some nausea around weeks 5-7, but am now attributing this to the super-scary, ultra-green vitamins that I found at Central Market. I was supposed to take SIX of them a day, and by the evening, I was a bit green myself.

The first trimester exhaustion 'they' warn you about is real. One minute, you're fine, the next, you find yourself in the bulk section of Central Market about to cry because they don't have cots, and you still have to 1) finish making your selections 2) pay for them & 3) drive home before you can lie down. Never mind that you will no longer have any interest in cooking anything you just purchased and will instead choose fast food (again), and feel like a jerk for doing it.

What nobody really tells you (they just sort-of hint at) is that your body starts swelling almost immediately. You're like a puffed up version of yourself, but do not yet resemble a pregnant person. Very irritating. Oh yeah, the hormones kick in to high gear immediately as well, so LOTS of things are very irritating. Before your tummy is big enough to look cute, it is just big. Also, the baby is very very tiny, so even when you do start to pooch out a bit, it's probably just intestinal bloat. Ask my doctor. She'll tell you. At 14 weeks, I was soooooo proud of my baby belly until she reminded me of the actual size of my fetus at that stage (still real small), and informed me of intestinal bloat. Party pooper. The other side of this is that you'll probably be surrounded by well-wishers who are desperate to show their support by rubbing your belly. Let me tell you how awkward it is to know that your uterus is still down at the level of your pubic bone while folks pat what you now know to be your (bloated) intestines, and use baby-talk.

By the time Lily Ruth was 20 weeks old, I had seen her twice - 7 weeks (she was a blob w/ a heartbeat) & 11 weeks (an amazingly baby-shaped, fast-moving fetus!) - and started to feel her move, but I was still convinced that she couldn't be real. I mean, what else had gone right for me? How could something that great really be happening to me? When I saw her again, and the ultrasound tech said that she was a girl who was developing right on schedule, I was blown away! Her little nose, her perfect spine - are you serious!? Right there in my abdomen? It's all a bit surreal...

Another thing that nobody tells you is that pregnancy is slightly to fairly uncomfortable most of the time. All of your ligaments relax & therefore stop supporting you as they should, so your posture goes all whonky. At 5 1/2 months, I have to work at not waddling when I am tired. I'm fairly certain that before too long, I will not be able to resist the waddle - it will overtake me. Also, as your uterus grows, it crowds every other organ into a new location. In case you were wondering, there was no extra space in there to begin with, so the stretching begins... And while feeling Lily Ruth kick is amazing, it is also really really weird. I am so infatuated with her that I want the rest of the world to stop every time that I feel her move so I can focus on just her, but if she keeps going for a long time, eventually I start to feel vaguely nauseated, and a bit freaked out... but still obsessed with her every move!

I had a dream about meeting Lily Ruth. She was moving as usual, then I could see her foot push on my belly. Then I could see her spine push out. THEN, she showed up - I was holding her without having to go through labor - nice. She had soft light brown hair and a beautiful baby nose, but the rest of her details were fuzzy. I kept trying to focus on her features, but it was no use. I started to get frustrated, and then I woke up. Hmpfh. I guess I'll just have to wait... like everybody else...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Today's Random Tidbits - 3

We made it back from the extended family wedding yesterday. In case you were wondering (or had forgotten), nine-month-olds do not take kindly to being strapped into a carseat for four-plus hours at a time. I spent most of the drive (both directions) in the back seat alternately singing, waving toys, offering sippy cups and bottles and feeling so tired that I thought my eyes were going to drop out of my head.

The wedding itself was beautiful. I am glad that we made the journey so that we could share in the moment. It was great to see everyone, and Lily Ruth had a ball. She let other people hold her, chewed on the wedding favors, and did extensive 'walking' while holding on to somebody's fingers. She still leads with her baby belly, so we're not as close to solo walking as I had feared. WHEW!

The swimming pool is closer to normal than it has been in a very long time. I am very excited about this. Given the opportunity, I spend hours each day partially submerged hippo-style in the water. Last summer, our priorities were a little bit different. I swam a bit while still pregnant, but after Lily Ruth arrived, and I got the 'all clear' from my doctor, I was too tired to swim or help maintain the pool. Then it was fall, and we let it kind of return to the earth. Our poor pool has been out of balance (read: GREEN) since August. Daddy has battled it in a half-hearted manner whenever he had a few moments to spare, but his free time has been limited. I of course, had been choosing to do ANYTHING other than mess with the pool. Well, the two of us have finally made a commitment to our home, yard and pool, so things are on the mend!

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a great day on Friday. I'm not sure what made Friday any different from my other days recently, but I choose to attribute it to my morning guest. A friend who I don't see often but am very fond of came over to visit and to receive a massage. This doubled the awesomeness of the day because I love to visit with her, and I really miss having my hands on people on a regular basis. I truly love being a massage therapist. I hope that I am able to return to it it some form when Lily Ruth starts school.

Today, Lily Ruth and I went back to the Diocese to play on the grass. The springs aren't running, and the pools are a bit green, but we were still glad to be there. We spent over half and hour chewing on tender grass stems and practicing solo standing. I thought about wandering back to the car for the camera, but decided that it was more important to live in that moment than record it for posterity. I think I made the right choice :-)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Dear So & So... take 8

Dear So and So...

YAY FRIDAY! Thanks to Kat at 3 Bedroom Bungalow for giving me a forum/format in which to count my blessings and vent my spleen...

Dear Pool,

THERE you are! I was starting to think that you had been replaced by a green, scummy pond. Nice to see that you're back in almost-fighting form. I can't wait to renew our daily visits!

Soon to be waterlogged,


Dear Pets,

I adore all three of you. I'm so happy that the random vet visits /stinky gas incidents / trash eating episodes have been put on hold. I enjoy your company so much more when I'm not pissed off or scared that you're dying.

Huge noisy kisses and hugs you'll squirm out of,
Food Lady


Dear Baby Girl,

Good Morning, Angel! I'm so proud of you! Not only are you cruising furniture like a pro, but you're coming out of your shell! I am so grateful to you for sharing more of yourself with the people who love you. Nanny, Grandpa and the Great Ones have wanted to play with you for a looooong time now. Thank you for starting to let them.

We have a big event this weekend. I'll be there the whole time, and will NOT make you interact if you are scared. You will, however, have to give TuTu and Pops hugs and smiles.

Mama loves Lily Ruth!


Dear Massage Table,

I've missed you! It felt good to work together today. Thank you for 'supporting' my work ;-)

Massage Mama


I'M HAVING A GREAT DAY! I'm not even sure why, I JUST AM! WHOOP, WHOOP!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'm THAT girl again

When Kittyn & I met, we were just young 'uns living and working in Sunny SoCal. I had only been married for 2 years and out of Texas for 1 at that point, so everything seemed new, exciting, challenging and/or scary to me. Adjusting to life in California had been tough fro me. Add in that I had recently gone through the WORST professional experience of my entire life (nothing has surpassed it to date), and you get a soft shelled, scared, young pup. Then I started working at the Boathouse. I was determined to go about things differently this time. I had a new job in a beautiful location, and I REALLY wanted this to be a turning point in my life. One where I took charge, showed myself to my best advantage, and really enjoyed my job.

To that end, I set about making friends with the girl that had been put in charge of showing me the ropes. Unbeknownst to me, this was an uphill battle. This poor girl had been working upwards of 70 hours a week doing her own job and what was to become my job (office manager, restaurant day manager, banquet supervisor). She had not been doing so out of the goodness of her own heart. In fact, she wanted the job. I'm not sure if she was even aware that they had been interviewing for the position because she had been working so hard to keep that place afloat.

You may have guessed that the overworked wretch in question is my own dear Kittyn, but at the time she was just the caustic, cranky, underfed girl who grudgingly showed me what might be expected of me while she chain smoked. I don't know what it was that I saw in her at the time, because she was doing her darndest to show me her worst side... it would be fair to say that she disliked me intensely... but I wanted nothing more than to be her friend.

The details of our initial bonding are fodder for another story. One that I would love for you to hear from her. What I'm trying to get to tonight, was phase II of our friendship - our shared love of Hazelnut coffee. Let me amend that - I didn't really like coffee of any kind, but I had been drinking it on occasion for the caffeine... and Hazelnut smelled good... and I REALLY wanted her to like me SO, at a time when we had trouble paying our rent, I bought us matching GIANT cups and flavored coffee. I then began to drink coffee daily.

Those familiar with foodservice equipment will already know that you cannot make partial pots of coffee in a restaurant. It's a whole pot, or nothing. So every morning, we would brew up a pot and spend waaaaay too much time preparing each cup just the way we liked it. Sometimes with things like whipped cream or ice cream or vodka. Alright fine - not really vodka. That was a one time deal. But we did spend an inordinate amount of time at the coffee maker. Especially since I needed lots of sugar, cream and anything else I could find in order to make coffee palatable.

After a while, a pattern makes itself clear... not to me, but to Kittyn. Apparently, I was physically unable to finish a cup of coffee. No matter what size we made for ourselves be it coffee cup, water glass or giant Rachel Mug, I always left around a quarter of the serving unfinished. Even after she pointed it out, I couldn't seem to finish my beverage. This was a source of amusement between us (and others) for years.

Sometime after fate forced us to part ways, I managed to teach myself to finish a cup of coffee. I began to pride myself on this 'skill'. In fact, I began to inhale coffee in a hurried manner. Once I learned to finish my coffee, I realized that I liked coffee - even unflavored coffee. Once I realized that I liked coffee, I allowed myself to purchase commercially brewed coffee, and my Starbucks habit was formed. I even began to use coffee as a reward for things like 'showing up to work on time' and 'not throttling that idiot back there'. By the time Lily Ruth started gestating, I would regularly stop at my neighborhood Starbucks on my walks with my dog as my reward for going on a walk. I usually finished my cup before I got more than a quarter mile from the store.

This continued through my pregnancy (decaf only, though) and past her birth (back up at half-caff). But in the past few weeks, I've noticed an old pattern re-emerging and I am back to leaving at least a quarter of my beverage unconsumed. Granted, these days it's not because I'm not enjoying my drink. Instead, it seems to be due to a combination of absentmindedness/split attention and the fact that I need both hands to keep my busy daughter from barreling head first into danger. Regardless of the cause, I'm taking it as a sign from the universe that I need some time with Kittyn. From the amount of coffee currently being wasted, I would say that she had better hurry up and come over here else I shall have to pack up the baby and start hitchhiking my way to England. At the very least, we should share a cup by phone - don't you think?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Guest Recipe - Portabella Turkey Burgers

This recipe for Portabella Turkey Burgers is from my Friend Sarah. She's a cook after my own heart - whatever's on hand goes in! She mentioned having made them for lunch today, and there was a flurry of facebook demands for a recipe. She obliged, and we're totally having this for dinner tonight :-) It's a little bit like my turkey burgers/tacos/meatballs recipe, but enough different that I am REALLY excited to try it.

1lb ground turkey
1 big portabella (I cut the "gills" off because the kids don't like that black stuff in there)
1 quarter of an onion (chopped super fine so the kids don't see them!)
1 beaten egg white
1 tablesoon dry ranch dressing mix
a few shakes of lawyer's
salt and peper of course
Last night I had a small piece of left over venisen sausage that I also chopped really fine and put in the mix to add a bit more flavor.
Sometimes I will mix 1lb turkey and 1lb beef or pork, just depends on what I have on hand.

Sarah is really neat. I don't know here very well yet, and I still think that, so just imagine how awesome she must really be! Among other things, she's a mom, a wife, an amazing photographer, a great cook, a garage sale-aholic AND she loves killer shoes!

hope to get to know you better, pretty lady!

Recipe update: Of course, since I am me, I did not follow the recipe. I used it as delicious inspiration and used what I had on hand...

1 lb ground beef
1 big portabella - chopped
several crimini mushrooms - chopped
1/2 a sm-med onion - chopped
1/4 pkt ranch dressing mix
1/2 can black eyed peas - mashed
1 egg

sautee mushrooms and onion. mix w/ the rest of the ingredients. form into patties and cook - OMG, SOOOOOOOO good! Thanks, Sarah!

p.s. She took some awesome pics of Lily Ruth when we had dinner recently:

AND, she's as awesome as I had suspected.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Back Seat Business

This morning was a bit busy. Because darling Lily Ruth is not an early riser, Daddy got up super-duper early and dropped the Monkey Dog off at the vet for her shots. We went to pick her up at a more civilized hour. It also happened to be a good day for Crazy Frank's monthly steroid injection, so we dragged him along with us.

I had intended for Frank to stay in the front seat with me on the ride home, but he had other ideas. The back seat ended up being Lily Ruth's idea of heaven - a pet on either side. Too cute to keep to myself:

It was great. We pulled into the driveway. I let Keely & Frank out, unlocked the front door, and they both sauntered in without prompting. I felt like I had won a contest, and my prize was perfect behavior from my pets. What was in those shots, anyway?


This was a great thing to see as I opened Yahoo this morning! Who knew that BREASTFEEDING IS GOOD FOR BABIES? Apparently, a lot of folks, yet still not enough folks...

So, Lily Ruth and I will continue to nurse and pump and donate milk to the Milk Bank in Austin even though it is a huge pain in the butt (and boob) sometimes :-) until Lily Ruth is ready to stop... or I am truly done - whichever comes first.

that's us at about 24 hours old - I have already forgotten how it felt to hold somebody that tiny!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Today's Random Tidbits - 2

Today's Recipe: Cheese Sauce

First, I promised you Easter Lily pictures, so here they are, but just a few! I'm hoping that my mama got a some good ones as well. If so, I'll share :-)

Her Daddy chose her dress, and she was so ridiculously cute in it!

Second, here is what I accomplished today:
Pulled the remaining weeds in the front yard
Scrubbed the sides of the pool (not while in it)
Rearranged the living room furniture
Took down the winter curtain panels in the bedroom and put up the summer sheers
- may I mention that I did all of that after 4 p.m. while tending to my daughter - can a sister get a medal up in here?

Third, I had a very odd encounter at Starbucks today. I am used to strangers stopping to talk to and/or about Lily Ruth, but this was a bit different. A strange looking gentleman wearing a 'members only' jacket and a bluetooth earpiece stopped us as we approached the condiment bar. He was holding his coffee and a full size piece of paper. It was covered front and back with handwriting. He mentioned Lily's blue blue eyes and alert demeanor. Then he waved the paper and said that he had just this very day started his dream of many years and had begun writing his book. He rushed along explaining that he's using children as his model because they live fully in today. I tried to give him a reply that was encouraging, but not too engaging, as I was in a hurry. He was not to be dissuaded, and stood right in our way waving his paper and declaiming about kids and their innocent wonder. He was so earnest that I thought he was going to cry, but that might have just been the stars in his eyes. I quickly ran out of non-rude things to say, and he wound down soon after. I awkwardly finished stirring stuff into my coffee, and bolted for the door. As I left I thought about his passion, and I wished that I had taken another moment out of my day for someone who was feeling something so strongly. On the other hand, he might be a true loony, and if I had said one more thing, I could have gotten stuck forever. That is a lesson that I have learned the hard way: Niceness to crazies usually means you end up either late or in possession of information that you really didn't want. Of course, you almost never know who's crazy until it's tooooooo late.

Fourth, I adore macaroni and cheese. Seriously. I even love Kraft blue box (original only - no wackiness) and velveeta shells and cheese. But most of all, I love homemade mac'n'cheese. Luckily for me, Lily Ruth feels the same way. If you want to share in my obsession, come over and I'll make some for you OR, you can follow the recipe below, and enjoy it in the comfort of your own home:

1/2 stick butter (4 Tbsp)
1/4 c flour
2 c hot milk (I use the tea kettle to heat it)
1 c shredded cheese (I usually use sharp cheddar, but use your favorite)
garlic powder
red pepper flakes

melt the butter over low heat. slowly add the flour while stirring. cook until 'creamy' in texture and bubbling - do not brown as you would for a roux, but cook just slightly to get rid of the flour taste. turn the heat up slightly, and slowly stir in the milk (I whisk). add in the cheese & season to taste. serve immediately over pasta or veggies

notes: I always double this,use a whole block of cheese instead of measuring, add a bag of fresh spinach and a pound of turkey sausage and pour it over a (cooked) full bag of pasta so that there are plenty of leftovers. I usually go for sharp cheddar so that there will be more flavor - colby leaves it tasting like a white sauce. As Lily Ruth grows, I plan to get crazier with my cheese choices (real smoked gouda, anyone?)

I accidentally used 1 c flour last time I made it instead of 1/2 c, and I was out of butter, so I couldn't start over. I ended up adding an additional cup (or so) of milk and a ton of extra cheese. It is good, but I have 2 extra containers of sauce in the fridge... not sure they'll freeze well :-/

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Read This

You all know how much I love my Kittyn, do you not? Well, here is an excellent for you to love her just as much as me.

Please read her Chicken Run Post, and laugh your butt off.

I am still recovering from the laughing fit I just had, so I'll have to post Easter Lily pics tomorrow.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

wait... WHAT!?

I was flipping channels, and I saw THESE:

which are actually pretty cool. There are people that I know who could really benefit from these little darlings. They turn your can into a flip-top bottle. Nifty, no? According to the commercial, flat sodas are a MAJOR concern, so even if you don't drink stuff out of cans, maybe you should get some in case of a carbonation emergency.

That wasn't the problem. The problem was the commercial that followed it - for THESE:

ARE YOU KIDDING? Panties with butt boosting inserts sewn onto the back?! Some of the 'models' in the commercial looked like they had FOUR BUTTOCKS because they had average bottoms (unlike those pictured here), so the inserts sat oddly on their natural buns. What's that you say? Can't get any worse? Oh, it just might... wait for it........ they are called Booty Pop. SOOOOOO wrong. On so many levels.

Oh well. At least I laughed so hard that I worked off a few calories and tightened my abs. Happy Saturday!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Dear So & So... take 7

Dear So and So...

Ta-DA! Friday! Dear So & So Day! Got some letters of your own? Type 'em out & link up with Kat over at 3 Bedroom Bungalow.

Dear Fledgeling Lawn,

Hang in there. The first couple of days are the hardest. You'll be rooted soon. In the mean time, don't worry, the neighbors who slow down aren't laughing, they're just surprised to see that we're actually putting effort into you. Until now, the yard looked like the house was vacant - they're just surprised to see your little plugged self.

Lookin' Good!
Mr & Mrs Dirty Knees/Blistered Hands


Dear Baby Daughter,

Tomorrow's Easter Egg Hunt is just for fun. There is no pressure for you to actually seek and/or find any eggs on your own. Your whole job is to wear the dress that your Daddy bought for you, and to have a good time. Grandpa may take some pictures, but that is all.

Please don't eat too many leaves or sticks,


Dear Creepy Ginger Cats,

Are you serious? Every morning at 6? Right outside my bedroom window? Also, what's with the new guys? Is all of this their fault? You guys are VERY lucky that the little old lady who claims to hate you still feeds you. She may be loopy, but she seems to have a soft spot for your creepy asses.

Knock it off.
Sleepy in San Antone


Dear Kittyn,

I miss you. PLEASE use all of your money to come and visit me. What's a little financial ruin between friends? I would use all of mine, but you're much more successful than me, and all of my money would only get me to maybe Dallas.

I adore you,

** my favorite parts of that picture are as follows - 1) my cast-off shoes in the upper corner 2) my face pressed really deeply into the pillow 3) my bag from Massage School sitting right next to us stuffed with extra sheets 4) the fact that Matt was the only one awake to take this even though it was 12:05 on January 1st (2006)**


Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dress Recycle

While I've been very good about giving away Lily Ruth's outgrown clothes, I kept a few things. Namely, the first purchases that I made for her once I knew she was a girl. Until then, I had purchased maybe 3 things (all gender neutral), but I had managed to put off any major baby spending, and was very proud of myself. Then I went to Target. Darn you, Target. I bought her 3 jersey cotton sun dresses with matching bloomers in the 0-3 month size. I couldn't stop staring at them. So small. So soft. So girlie. I would look at my belly and wonder if she would ever be big enough to fit into them.

Once she arrived, I couldn't wait to put them on her. It was tough waiting until her umbilical stub fell off, but I did. Then I bypassed all of her other clothes, and put her in those dresses pretty much any time we left the house. Here we are at 7 weeks old in my favorite one:

We were at a Magic Time Machine reunion party. How many restaurant jobs have you had that hold reunions? Can you tell how exhausted and freaked out I was? If not, offer up thanks to TRUE mineral makeup. If yes, well... I WAS exhausted and freaked out - motherhood is hard... not like regular life isn't hard...

As I mentioned, I just couldn't part with them. Today, I'm glad that I didn't. She's officially big enough to wear those dresses as tops! I am so pleased. Here we are at Lee's el Taco Garage having lunch today:

I SOOOO wish that I had more Mama clothes that would hold up to a recycle. Also, I wish that I wasn't so close to having a double chin that when I tilt my head slightly downward, I then have a visible double chin. Oh well. I also wish I had a pool boy and a million dollars. Of course, if I had a million dollars, I would have a fancy self-cleaning pool, and I wouldn't need a pool boy, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

No New Tale to Tell

I haven't been in a storytelling mood lately (hence the fluffy picture posts), and that makes me sad. I feel like my days are pretty monotonous right now. While that's a good thing in some ways (no major tragedies = a good thing), it's off-putting to feel like you're losing your voice due to disuse.

Then I look at Lily Ruth and see the stories forming behind her eyes for every new experience that she has. They just haven't felt like my stories to tell lately. I almost feel as though her stories are locked behind her beautiful pink lips and tiny white teeth. They're just waiting for the day that she masters the spoken word to come spilling out in laughing waves. She's going to have a LOT to say.

Tonight, she babbled new joyful sounds to her Daddy while they played before bed. I laughed then held my breath waiting to see if any of them would be 'real words'. She just giggled, threw herself backward and uttered her favorite go-to sound - 'bwawb'.

Maybe a new day will unlock a new story for me to tell. Maybe tomorrow I won't care even if it doesn't. Maybe I should go to sleep so that I can find out.