Monday, September 29, 2008

It's Here!

And since this is "I See What You're Saying", I know I shouldn't be writing anything...but I have to say just a few quick things.

1. Ok, so all those Hollywood directors? And actors? And producers? Oh, they have a hard job. Really, really hard. And if ever I doubted it, I now know that this is certainly not my calling. However, I'm blaming it on my equipment. What can you expect when shooting with a puny digital camera? If I had a camera worth millions, I would be transformed into a gorgeous actress with a pleasant and lilting voice. I just know it.

2. Listen closely, and you will hear that I slipped in a "Ya'll". Twice, actually. It doesn't really jive with my flat Midwestern accent, does it? And to my sweet and authentic Southern sisters, I apologize. It is the most Northern-sounding "Ya'll" that ya'll will ever hear.

3. I was going to make some kind of excuse for the poor, grainy quality of the video, but I now believe that it is a blessing in disguise...because it masks the fact that my house was really quite dirty. Picked up? Yes. Clean? No.

Alrighty then. Carry on.

Linda, thank you so much for this ingenious idea! Don't forget to visit her to See What She...and a lot of others...are Saying.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Help is desperately needed

So, the I See What You're Saying carnival is exactly 4 days away. Yikes...nothing like waiting until the last minute. I think that I was trying to trick myself into thinking that if I waited long enough, then I wouldn't have time to put something together, and then...ooohh...I wouldn't have to do it.

Which would have been fine and dandy if I hadn't gone and written my last post. Yeah, that one...about doing things that are uncomfortable? Stepping out? A crockpot full of beans that turns out way better than expected?

Hmmm...I suppose it's too late to delete that post, right? Too many of you have already read it. So I will get over myself and do my little video. But seriously, I am stuck. I wanted to do something clever and creative, but nothing is coming to me. I know there are several of you that are participating and I don't expect you to share your top-secret ideas with me, but for anyone else out there that cares, what would you like to see if you were forced to watch a 2-minute video of me? I need some help, sisters. Some ideas. I'm all ears.

I suppose I could do a tutorial such as Cooking Quesadillas and Reading Blogs...Two Activities That do not Mix. As evidenced by the charred appearance here.

To redeem myself, here is proof that something I made this week turned out quite well...homemade pizza.

We were babysitting for 3 little kids the afternoon that I made this, and when their father came to pick them up, my hubby noticed that he had a big bag of Popeyes chicken in the car. Now, I am not one to shake a stick at Popeyes chicken, but I had just pulled this pizza from the oven, and I was thinking it looked pretty darn good. Well, Hubby, who was apparently salivating over the chicken and did not take time to think things through, blurted out, "Man, I wanted to tell Robert, Hey, you want a pizza? We'll take that chicken off your hands!'"

Then he saw my face.

And realized that it was not the most judicious thing he had ever uttered. He could not praise my pizza enough after that.

I guess a round-about compliment is better than none at all...or so I am telling myself.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

If at first you don't succeed...

Both of my husband's parents were born and raised in Mexico. They moved to the US sometime in their early 20's or so, and Ricardo was born here. It goes without saying that he was raised on some authentic Mexican food - the real deal. Homemade tortillas...lots and lots of them. Beans. Rice. Red chile. Enchiladas.

When I went back home with him for my first visit, I remember being in awe - and a little intimidated - of his mother's cooking skills. I watched her as she moved around her kitchen, throwing this and that into one of her many pots that sat perpetually on the stove. When it was time to serve dinner, she would heat up about 20 or 30 corn tortillas. For the 4 of us. I usually passed on them, and she would eat maybe one or two, and then Ricardo and his dad would polish off the rest. 12 each. At least. My thighs are cringing at the thought of ingesting that many carbs.

We had been married a few months when I decided that I better stretch myself from my firmly planted Midwestern cooking roots and attempt to cook some Mexican food. I was terrified...not that I could not pull it off, but that it would not measure up to his mom's. So I chose the simplest of dishes - beans - and I also chose a day when he was going to be gone for a long, long time. My thought was this; if they didn't turn out, I would chuck them and he would be none the wiser.

But, really, how hard is it to cook beans? Easy, right? I was confident; I could do this. Most of the people I knew made them in a pressure cooker, but I lived in mortal fear of the pressure cooker after my roommate had one explode on her and fling carrots forcefully to the ceiling. So I decided that the crock pot would work just fine.

I dumped in the water and the beans and some seasoning, and sent it cooking on it's merry little way.

Hours later, when they should have been done, I tasted them.

Apparently, I had purchased the only package of non-fool-proof beans, because they were AWFUL. I'm quite sure that they just needed to cook longer, or to have salt added, but at the time I was too nervous to try to figure out what the problem was. And then, with impeccable timing, Ricardo drove up. I panicked a bit as I looked from my crock pot full of those horrible no-good beans to the window where I could see him walking out of the garage. Good....he was going to get the mail, which meant I had a few minutes. I took those beans and gave them a new and permanent home in the trash.

That was 6 years ago. For 6 whole years, I told myself, I can't make beans. They were awful. If I try again, I'm pretty sure they'll still be awful. Awful. Awful. I started to truly believe that I might quite possibly be the only person on this entire planet who could not make beans. Because I told myself that I could not make beans.

2 weeks ago I finally got up the nerve to give it another try. They were on sale at the Mexican grocery store where I get all of the great deals on produce, and so, on a whim, I picked up a couple of pounds.

Same crock pot. Beans. Water. Garlic and onions. They cooked all day and smelled heavenly. I cautiously tasted them at the end of 8 hours and....they were good. Maybe not as good as his mom's, but...good nonetheless. I had successfully made beans.

With fear and trembling, I took a forkful over to Ricardo and waited for his reaction. I noted the look of surprise on his face as he looked up and said, "Hey, not bad!" Which is pretty high praise coming from my hubby.

So this has made me think. I know it's just beans, no big deal. But in what other areas of my life have I debilitated myself, just by saying over and over, You can't do it. You've tried it, it was a mess. You can't. You can't. You can't.

I know that words are powerful, even words spoken silently to ourselves. We build ourselves up or tear ourselves down by what we say. And I know that we are usually our own harshest critic.

But sometimes it pays off to step out of that comfort zone and do something a little different, to try something that terrifies. us.

Because, chances are, your crock pot full of beans will turn out a lot better than you could have ever imagined.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Officially Fall

So, you probably know by now that I love fall. There is no other time of year when the cool temperatures and crisp blue sky and the smell of pumpkin bread collide in ultimate seasonal perfection.

And it makes me so happy that I have a little girl that I can use as an excuse for going to the pumpkin patch. It's fair to say that I love it every bit as much as she does. And much to Ricardo's disgust, I keep the pumpkins around the house, as decoration, as long as I can. I think it was around February when he finally told me, "Look...these things have got to go." And I only agreed because they were starting to rot a little.

I am so far off topic.

My point in all of this is...I really wanted to do something with my blog design that was warm and cozy and seasonal-y. But I am frugal. I have been wandering around to different blogs, sighing over the cute designs and wanting one of my own, but knowing that I just could not justify spending money on it right now.

And so because I had absolutely nothing to do this weekend (cough *exceptclean* cough), I sat myself down and tried to make sense of this whole design thing. I had no clue what I was doing, but Google covers a multitude of sin HTML ignorance. Or is it even HTML? See, I don't even know. But this is what I came up with. The perfectionist in me is having a hard time with all of the glitches and design flaws that are glaringly obvious to me, but the practical person in me is saying, " is now 1:00 a.m., I'd really like to sleep if you don't mind...give it up already." So Practical Me is winning out on this one.

I also made some fantastic pumpkin cookies this weekend, which clinched all the feel-good fall feelings around here. I used a relatively healthy recipe, but then I could not resist topping them with a caramel drizzle. Which might have un-done the health aspect, but oh, they were good.

Happy Fall, everybody!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

A little bloggy business

You've probably seen this meme floating around the blogosphere lately, the one on how blogging has affected you, either positively or negatively. The Roost tagged me for it last week, and it has definitely made me think.

So here goes...5 ways I have been affected by blogging. Some good, some bad.

1. I know this is everybody's story, and I'm sure I've said it before...but I really did start blogging just to have a place where my family could pop in and check on Savannah. I did not know what a blog was. I did not know that you could link up to all of these amazing ladies and writers and read all about their lives. So I just started up my little blog and wrote some positively awful stuff. Then one day I looked and...GASP...I had a comment. My heart beat a little faster and I felt nervous all of a sudden, because while I had been reading her blog, I had assumed that I was pretty anonymous, hiding behind the walls of my little house while putting out mediocre posts on a most inconsistent basis. I knew nothing about those stealthy little site trackers, and that this sweet commenter totally knew when I was visiting her. Yeah.

So, my point is, this opened up the door to this amazing community, to you. One in which I feel empathy for my blog friends, I pray for them, I stay up late at night tracking hurricanes because I am worried about the people that I "know" living in those areas, I cry tears of joy when something fantastic happens to one of them. This has been, by far, the best part of the whole blogging experience.

2. Ok, this is a negative one. Time management. Seriously, blogging is a huge commitment and it takes a big block of time. The writing portion of blogging is easily manageable; but when it comes to reading blogs, I really need to learn how to limit my time. The problem is, you all are so darn interesting and witty and insightful, that I cannot bear to see even 3 new posts in my reader without popping over to check them out. So I admit it...I am addicted. And that is not necessarily a good thing.

3. Sleep deprivation. Hmmm...this goes with the previous point, but my "me" time is late at night, after everyone else has gone to bed. I am a night owl by nature anyway, so it is easy for me to stay up way too late, reading or composing posts. Funny how at 2:00 in the morning, I am still bright-eyed, but when morning rolls around, I am kicking myself for not going to bed earlier. I'm working on this one too.

4. One of the best things I've gotten out of blogging is the fact that I am challenged on a regular basis. I truly believe that God has used some of you to speak to me right when I needed it most. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes I don't want to hear it, but there is no denying the fact that I have been encouraged and uplifted and, yes, chastised through reading what the Lord has been speaking to you.

5. While I don't really consider myself to be a writer, I do feel that my imagination and what speck of creativity I do possess has been stretched. Blogging is the perfect outlet for me to spill whatever thoughts I have swirling inside my head.

I am not tagging anyone, but feel free to play along, and let me know if you do so I can come and read it.

A few of you have been so kind as to give me a couple of awards in the past few weeks. Smiling Sally gave me this one:

From Mozi Esme :

And then both Mamjil and Kerry gave me this one:

And then today, a new friend, Tracy, bestowed this one upon me:

Ladies, you rock! Thank you so much for the awards, but more importantly, for stopping by here and for all the sweet comments you leave. It has been fun getting to know you.

And now, I pass on the Brilliante Award to Sarah at Tales from Oakbriar Farm. Because she is fun and funny and has a super cute daughter that I love to read about.

The Share the Magic Award is going to Mama Belle at the Bayou Belles and their Beau. Ya'll, if you have never visited Mama Belle, you should go on over. She is seriously funny and she doesn't hold back.

The I Love Your Blog Award goes to.....Jennifer at Love, Laughter, and Lyrics. I really do love this girl and her blog...she is one of my newest friends, and she is hilarious. And also has an adorable little girl and another sweet baby on the way.

And the I Love You this Much award goes to Wendi at Every Day Miracles. She is a sweetheart. Someday I am going to meet this girl and give her a big ol' hug.

Ok, one last thing...I have succumbed. I wasn't going to, but then I just got sucked in. See the little "follow me" box over on the right somewhere, with some of your sweet little faces underneath? Well, I'd love it if you added your sweet little face to the mix. So, follow me! Or not. I'll still love you either way.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

In over my head

There are certain things about motherhood that you expect before they happen. The crawling and getting into things. The walking and subsequent falls. The potty training (which, I might add, I think we have successfully conquered. I'm saying I think because I don't want to have to come back tomorrow and eat my words. But so far, so good...even at nighttime. Glory be!).

What I did not expect, at least at her ripe old age of 2 1/2, was the fact that there is no way to explain to her the difference between saying "God" in a reverential manner and saying "God" in a flippant, careless way.

This girl, she hears everything. She hears a stranger passing by, casually tossing out the phrase. She runs through the living room and hears somebody on TV saying it. She might not care about anything else that is being said, but she will for sure hear that. And so she does what any other 2 year old does...she repeats it.

Now I am not legalistic in any sense of the word, but I do believe that my Savior deserves the utmost reverence and respect that I can give Him, and for our family, we believe that means avoiding taking His Name in vain. And I will be the first to say that I am not perfect, not by a long shot, but having a little girl with great big ears certainly keeps me on my toes in this area.

So when she began to pick up on this, she at first said, "Oh my dosh". Which was kind of funny but not really the way I wanted her to be going. So I offered her an alternate phrase, "Oh my goodness!"

And she was happy with that. But that does not stop others around her from saying it. And when they do, she is oh-so-quick to run to me and correct them.

"Mama! They not say 'Oh my God", they say 'Oh my goodness'!" And she is not afraid of saying it right to their face...she came out of class the other day and told me her teacher had said Oh my gosh, and that she told her to say Oh my goodness.

So, I can live with all of that. But the hardest part comes when we are reading Bible stories at night. As one would expect when reading the Bible, the Name of God comes up frequently. And she just doesn't understand this. The first few times she told me, No! Say goodness! To which I tried to explain that when you are reading the Bible, or talking about God, it is ok to go ahead and say it.

Totally confusing.

So now she thinks that it's ok to say it whenever you are reading books, any book. She was reading her Dora book today and she brought it to me, saying, "Look, Mama! It says "God'!" Which it did not. But she figured since it said it in the Bible, which is a book, and she was reading Dora, which is a book...well, you get the picture.

I think I'm in over my head on this one.

I also don't want to make it out to be such a HUGE deal that she becomes completely fixated on it. She's still young, and doesn't quite make all the connections. But I still don't want it to become an ingrained phrase that will be harder to work out later.

So tell me your thoughts on this one. I know opinions on the right or wrong of it will vary greatly across the board, but I would like to hear if you have had to deal with this at all. I also know that substituting "gosh" is usually the way most people go, but in her little head, they sound pretty much the same, and she does not differentiate between them.

So. What do you think?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Now I lay me down to sleep

When we were growing up, it was always stressed to us how important sleep was. Mostly from Mom. She had 5 kids, so obviously, getting enough sleep ranked pretty high on her list. I remember thinking it odd that she would actually want to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon, and I vowed that when I was all grown up, you would never catch me taking a nap. Ever. Who wants to sleep when they can be up playing?

Except, when you are 4 years old, you fail to realize that mamas aren't playing. Especially when they have 5 kids. Working themselves ragged is more like it, and that 20 min. nap during the afternoon might be the only time they get to slow down all day.

I only have one kid, but for the record, I have totally changed my position on afternoon naps.

Anyway, back in the day, there were things that would happen, both outside and in, that had the potential of waking us up too early from naptime. Tractors going by, neighbors mowing. Ringing doorbells and phones. So Mom solved this problem by running noisemakers and box fans to drown out the noise. She ran them at night, too. Ah, that soothing white noise...that was all it took to put us to sleep.

When I moved away, the love of the box fan had been firmly implanted within me. Of course, it wasn't too practical to run a fan at college with 3 roommates living with me, so I learned how to deal with it and fall asleep on my own. Then I moved again, and got married.

And I found out, rather quickly, that the love of the box fan does not abide in my husband. In fact, he thinks that running a fan for noise is a purely silly idea. A waste of electricity. And instead of lulling him to sleep, it apparently has the opposite affect on him.

For me, it doesn't just have to be a fan. I like any kind of constant soothing noise...our waterfall outside, the dryer, whatever. He hates it all, and has to have utter quiet. If the dryer is on, he goes and makes sure all possible doors (all two of them) between our room and the laundry room are shut so that the hum is muted.

The summertime is the only time that he relents and agrees to a fan, because he gets hot. So from about April until October, I get to have my white noise. It is glorious...I sleep like a baby, and the sounds of motorcycles and helicopters (we seem to have an over-abundance of both swirling around our area) are beautifully muted.

And now that I am a mom, I totally get why my mom ran the fans for us in the first place. There is a lot of noise that happens during naptime, even in a seemingly quiet house. But my hubby is dead-set against me running any kind of fan or noisemaker for Savannah. "She'll just get used to it, and won't be able to sleep anywhere else." He sort of has a point.

But I am this just a weird thing that my family does, or is there anyone else out there that likes to have some nice soothing noise to put you and your kiddos to sleep?

And if I am alone in this, make me feel better by telling me some other quirky thing your family does. Please?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Chapter closed

When we returned home from our little mini-vacation last week, it was 11:30 at night. Savannah was absolutely tuckered out, and so I immediately pulled her Dora jammies on and got ready to settle her in her crib for the night.

That's when the tears started flowing...the kind of crying that is borne of pure exhaustion, where once you start you can't stop. She sobbed and begged me to lie down beside her in the "big bed", the double bed that has always been in her room. While we were in Indiana, she slept in the bed with me and had gotten nice and spoiled with that setup, and now that we were home she couldn't understand why things had to change. So I told her she could sleep in the bed instead of the crib, but that she would be by herself.

She said ok. So I surrounded her with pillows and her 3 best friends -Pooh Bear, Pluto, and Minnie Mouse - and tiptoed out. I didn't hear a peep out of her all night.

I figured it was a passing thing that she would get out of her system. That she would be glad to get back to the familiar, scrunched space of her crib.

But no. Every night since then, she has let me know in no uncertain terms that she is "all done crib" and that she wants "only big bed".

Of course I knew that she would outgrow her crib eventually. I just didn't expect it to be now. I have been placing her in that crib for the past 32 months, every single night. A part of me held on to the fact that as long as she was in the crib, then she was still somehow a baby. Protected. Secure. And I could hold on to this stage a little longer. But the crib has remained empty for an entire week now, unless you count the times when she climbs into it and flops down headfirst, then starts jumping up and down like it's her own personal mini trampoline.

In a way I'm glad that she took it upon herself to move to the big girl bed, because she was getting a little too big for the crib...but only because she insisted on lying along the short end of the crib, with her head jammed against one side and her feet poking through the slats and up the wall on the other. Now in the mornings, my little early bird wakes up with the sun (far, far too early for my liking), gets herself out of bed, pads softly to my room, and says, "Mama?" Then I pull her into bed with me and if I'm lucky she'll go back to sleep for a few minutes. Sometimes I am not lucky, and instead of sleeping she entertains herself with kicking me in the ribs, interspersed with requests for bananas and milk.

And because I am a good mama, I roll over and pretend like I didn't hear her breakfast order being placed.

So another chapter, the crib era, has closed. Good thing these end-of-the-baby-stage things don't come all at once...I don't think I could handle it.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Midwest Trip...The Recap

I have to admit...I was a little nervous flying by myself with Savannah. The last time we flew, she was 11 months old. She did beautifully on the way out, and everybody around looked at us, gushing their admiration, and said what a perfect baby she was. Which caused my head to pridefully inflate - just a tad.

And we all know that when our head inflates, even just a little, it must be brought rather painfully back down to size. And boy, was she happy to oblige; she decided that on the way back she would show me a thing or two. She was fine on the flight from Indy to Minneapolis, but as we started our descent, she started with the most ear-shattering wail that I have ever heard. It didn't even sound like her, high-pitched and completely hysterical. She was inconsolable, and I was beside myself. You know that feeling, when your heart pounds harder and you start to produce copious amounts of sweat; I rocked and sang and bounced and shushed her, all in vain.

It lasted at least 15 minutes, although it seemed at least three times that long, when I had a sudden epiphany....hey! I can try to nurse her! I know, common sense, right? But I was never one that had gotten the whole nursing in public thing down very good, and so it just didn't occur to me. But that did the trick...she was asleep in about 4.5 seconds.

So, with this in my memory, I wasn't sure how it would go this time around, even though she is 2 years older now. I was so relieved, she did beautifully. And at the first sign of discontent, I plugged a lollipop in her mouth, which worked it's sugary magic and kept her quiet for a good hour.

Notice Pooh Bear? He had a seat all to himself, and he is safely buckled in. She's a good mama.

We had an amazing time. My parents have a huge garden and raspberry bushes that have gone crazy, and so we spent a lot of time picking berries.

With "Kamp-pa".

I'm pretty sure there's nothing sweeter than this; a little girl, headed up the hill, swinging her berry bucket by her side.

She was an eager little beaver and started pulling off everything she saw, unripe berries and all. Until Grandpa told her, "Just the red ones, k?" And so for the next half-hour, she asked about 428 times, "Is THIS a red one, Kamp-pa?" I'm sure that didn't get old at all.

And then we made them into this. Oh, my. The picture doesn't even begin to do the yumminess justice.

Nothing like picking up an apple right off the ground and chomping into it.

Savannah loves her aunt and uncles, but since we all conveniently have names that start with J, it can be a little confusing. Jamie, Jeremy, Jon, Joe. Jamie became "Uncle Jamie" more than once.

We love Uncle Joe...

(Sorry, Uncle Jon...he flew in from Virginia for 2 days and I didn't get a single picture of him. Ooops).

Four generations!

Oh, and we made some purely sinful homemade Dark Chocolate Ice Cream. It was so decadent that we had to run out and buy a quart of vanilla ice cream to tone it down a little. Delish. As you can see, it was one of the highlights for Savannah. And judging from the way it disappeared, it was obviously a highlight for the rest of us, too.

We did make it back to my hometown in Illinois for a few hours on Sunday. The house where we grew up was still there, still cute...but not home anymore. They had cut down the evergreen tree in the backyard that I had loved, and when I saw it I got all choked up. And then felt sufficiently silly because of it.

The humidity was miserable part of the time, and my hair pretty much did whatever it wanted to. But the grass and trees and greenness and sunsets made up for it...oh, and of course the fact that my entire family was together for a few days.

Friday, September 05, 2008


I was four and my sister was six when we sat down at some version of an ancient keyboard and picked out a tune by ear for the first time. We were hooked after that.

Our house was always rockin' with the sounds of my brothers beating on drums, or strumming guitars, or playing the saxaphone and bass.

The love of music runs deep in our family, and Savannah has obviously inherited it. She couldn't keep her hands off of Uncle Jeremy's guitar. Hmmm...looks like she needs to work on her rhythm a bit, but....oh my, she's a precious little thing, if I do say so myself. I love how she closes her eyes and sways in imitation of him.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Buried in laundry and other things post-vacation

I'm back, and I have over 200 pictures that need to be downloaded. And edited. I would have done that today, except for some reason my hubby thinks it would be cool to have clean socks and underwear and jeans for the rest of the week. My hallway is now lined with baskets of clothes in varying degrees of cleanliness. Apparently part of being a good housekeeper is putting laundry before blogging.

And also, when Savannah asked for Cheerios today, I realized we were out of milk, and so I furtively splashed some water on them hoping she wouldn't notice.

She did. It was pretty unappetizing. So I had to go to the store.

I checked Google Reader earlier today and it pretty much exploded in my face. 220 new posts, and the only reason there were not more was because I cheated a little while I was in Indiana and read some here and there when the dial-up permitted. I have it down to 148 now, and am feeling a little overwhelmed.

So a real post is coming soon, with real pictures (although I'll spare you all 200...aren't you glad??) as soon as things settle down a little. I love going on vacation, but it's always a letdown trying to get back in the swing of things.

And also, let me just say Thank you Jesus for very understanding fellow airline passengers that sit in the same row as you and your squirmy little girl. Because it's stressful enough trying to entertain her without worrying that you're bothering the person on the other side of her. There were a few instances where she inadvertently kicked the kind gentleman that was engrossed in his book, and then on the flight back she dumped a cup of ice in her lap, and the sweet grandmother next to her was so concerned that she had gotten herself all wet.

But then they patted her on the head at the end and told her what a great job she did on such a long flight, and my mama's heart sighed a big ol' sigh of relief.