Monday, September 9, 2013

Second time around

So it has been over 4 months since I posted last!  Holy cats!  I am just gonna say it – this 2nd pregnancy is kicking my butt.  A little bit literally.  My left butt cheek has been killing me for about a month now and I do not know why but it blows the big one.  I was so na├»ve.  I had such an easy, I would even say, beautiful first pregnancy that I thought this will be a little harder but only because I am chasing a toddler.  Boy am I dumb!  For those of you thinking about jumping into number two (bed), you may not want to read this or you might! 

Let me say I was in slightly better shape this time around.  I was weighing 15lbs less than when I started my last pregnancy.  I thought that would help.  I am sure in some way it is healthier but a human being growing inside you is gonna weigh you down regardless.  I also sit a lot less than I did working through my first pregnancy but chasing a toddler sucks every bit of energy I have.  Oh and did I mention he no longer naps.  Mommy needs naps but not happening in this house.

I ate like a champ first time around.  By that I mean I ate every 2-3 hours.  I felt great too.  This time I am so busy worrying about everyone else that I think I eat about every 4-5 hours and when I feel dizzy I sneak something in quick.  Even right now as I am sitting here with nothing else to do, I am hungry.  But I am too tired, sore, and lazy to get up and find something to eat!

Okay it is time to talk about those beautiful changes in your body during pregnancy.  I toned up a bit after my first pregnancy.  Breastfeeding was an amazing way to lose weight and my son’s desire for me to walk with him and bounce him made him a great personal trainer.  However, when I started to have issues with my second cyst on my ovary I got lazy and depressed, so guess what happened.  Some pounds came back!  Oh well I thought.  But as the pregnancy weight began to start showing up I saw how the second pregnancy looks different.  Oh I have the belly but I also have the flabby flap at the bottom of the belly.  It is not cute or anything that should be photographed.  It is there along with the stretch marks, all of which I have earned.

I have to brag that the first time around, I was always able to reach my feet, shave my legs, pretty much do anything for myself.  This time I can reach my feet but it is rough.  I am still shaving my legs but it is so hard and I am thinking about getting in touch with a pharmaceutical company about a pill for the pregnant ladies that stops hair growth.  Think how awesome that would be!  No eyebrow plucking, no shaving the legs, and no magnifying glass mirror searching out all of those new chin hairs that seem to come with pregnancy!  I have really found this time that any sort of bending over to do anything requires a bit of pumping yourself up for and a whole lotta shortness of breath after.

Okay I am only going to share one last sad thing about this second experience but it is a really bad one.  I pee myself.  And we are not just talking about a little tinkle when I sneeze.  I wish.  I do those stupid Kegels and they have let me and my clothing down.  Laugh – pee, sneeze - pee, cough – pee, fart – oh man major pee.  Okay you might think well that is kinda normal right.  Well here it is – the big one I never saw coming.  I lose complete bladder control in the shower!  I am just going about my business and all of the sudden the water gets warmer down my leg and the shame is running through my head.  I can handle a lot of things but peeing in the shower is ridiculous!  I am literally so pissed about this new change!  But what can you do?

But I do have to say there have even been a few things that have been better this time.  I am not spending all of my free time reading about what this baby is growing, getting, or doing today.  Things are a happening in there – good.  I am doing things out here and we will see you shortly.  This has been good for my stress level.  I have been able to wear my engagement ring the entire time so far (my wedding band is ½ a size smaller because I was a fool and now I am lazy) and last time I was only able to wear it 4 months of the pregnancy!  The giant pregnancy underpants (they are so huge we need to call them pants for sure) are too big but they are more comfortable than my regulars so they still win.  But most importantly, getting to watch my son talk to my belly and kiss it are priceless.  He talks about the baby daily.  I know it will be a huge change for all of us but for now he is excited about “his baby” and so are we.  Less than 5 weeks to go!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Allied Forces - Guest Blogger!

I am so excited to introduce my first guest blogger!  She is a great friend and a wonderful support mom (another mom who listens without judgment!).  Please welcome Jessica to the Table! 

Allied Forces (Mommy, Daddy & Naptime) vs. Lyla

(Consistent & follow through parenting)

                Hello!  My name is Jessica and I attended high school with Kristin (we actually taught a dance class together to small children back then) and I love reading her blog. She asked me if I’d like to write something sometime.  After our WWIII battle today at my house, I thought this would be a good topic J.   First of all- I am the mother of a very strong-spirited 2 year old daughter- Lyla and a sweet 6 mos old daughter-Avyn.  My husband is an elementary school teacher and I am a licensed school counselor and a licensed mental health therapist. I was an elementary school counselor in the public schools for 6 years and worked in a behavioral health hospital for 9 years.  I resigned from both after Lyla was born and pursued a private practice.   I am currently managing a part time private practice along with all my mothering duties.

                A few months back I was contacted by the local newspaper to give an ‘expert’ opinion for an article.  I almost told the lady she should probably call someone else as I am no ‘expert’! As she was asking me if I’d like to contribute I stopped myself from saying my initial response of “I’m not an expert,” and thought wait- am I an expert? I’ve never thought of myself as an expert and no one has ever referred to me as one until now… but what to do with this newspaper article?  I decided against my urge to tell her I’m not knowledgeable enough and give it a go.  I have since contributed to three other articles for magazines, papers, etc.  I’m sharing this because in my head I’m really no expert- as this infers “perfect” and I am a life-long learner and feel there is always more to know. However, after having a discussion with my best friend about this “expert” business I came to the realization that after 10 years of working in mental health primarily with children and parents I guess maybe I am sort of an “expert”.   This is a story however to show that even a child behavior/development/effect parenting counselor “expert” isn’t a perfect parent by any stretch of the imagination- because perfect parenting doesn’t exist!!  

                We have been struggling with nap time at my house over the past month or so.  It started when my 2 year old’s molars began to appear and went downhill from there.  I am exclusively breastfeeding my 6 month old and my 2 year old nurses three times a day (morning, nap and bed time) when I am home. Yes call me crazy… and NO my kid will not be nursing at kindergarten- RELAX!  The international recommendation to nurse is at least 2 years; the average age world wide of weaning is age 3.   I could say the toddler has created this habit (well I actually created it- most child habits are parent created) that she would nurse for nap time, fall asleep in my arms and as soon as I’d go to lay her in her crib she would wake up, flail like a fish out of water, scream and well that’s all folks! Good bye nap time…    I realized today that on Tuesday and Thursdays when I leave for work at 2pm I wouldn’t let her cry very long as I didn’t want her to be in a fit of emotional rage when my 78 year old great aunt (who taught preschool most of her life & is VERY sprite for her age) to deal with my daughter screaming in her crib. So I’d let her cry a few minutes and then go get her.  This really backfired in my face over the last few weeks as she wouldn’t lay down for me.  Now on Saturday I worked all day and MAGICALLY she went down for Daddy with no fight, no crying and of course no nursing? Well that’s just dandy-makes me feel wonderful. 

So here we are Sunday afternoon- she woke up early before 7am (oh ya and while she isn’t napping well she is also getting up early too?) and she’s TIRED at 11am.  She usually naps at 12:30 or 1:00.  Perfect- since we have a birthday party to attend this afternoon let’s take an early nap.  She’s all for it- says she wants to go nurse and take a nap- I’m doing cartwheels.   We do our thing- nurse in the chair for about 10 min (we play one of those music things when it goes off time for bed).  She’s dead asleep in my arms- I’m thinking- YEAH I can take a shower and get ready and we can leave when nap time ends (my 6mos old is asleep already).  I go to put her down- FLAILING FISH!!  I try to put her blanket over her blow her a kiss and walk out.  I go to daddy and say- see this is what happens.  So Daddy goes up there- talks to Lyla & suggests a book. She buys it- then decides she wants Mommy to read her the book not Daddy. He says “okay but after the book you have to go to sleep” and she agrees.  At this point I may interject- making deals with a toddler is FRUITLESS- never a good idea to bargain with any child especially a toddler. But we ALL do it from time to time- even an “expert”. 

                So I go back in, we sit in the chair and pick out a book- Lyla wants to nurse again while I read her the book (she’s a nursing addict- she calls my “nursies” the ‘big one’ and the ‘little one’ as we all know one breast is typically slightly larger than the other and often chooses which one she wants to nurse from at that moment- weaning her is obviously going to be WWIV).  So we read the book- and again I remind her that when the book is done its nap time.  I mention we have fun things to do this afternoon and she has to take a nap.  Book ends- kisses, hugs, sweet dreams. She lays down- I walk out- 30 seconds later she’s standing in her crib (we have a video monitor) SCREAMING!  L   Daddy went to take a nap, baby Avyn is napping- screw it I’m taking a shower.  So I take the monitor with me in the bathroom while I shower listening to Lyla yell: “Mommy I want you right now, I need you right now, I want out of here, I am not tired, I don’t want to take a nap” etc.  This was extremely difficult, as the comforter in me wanted to jump out of the shower, wet and soapy and just go get her- but I knew that wasn’t what was needed at this point.  For the record I am NOT a supporter of the cry it out method in babies.  I use attachment theory in a lot of my practice and crying it out is not good for bonding/attachment.  However at age 2 years and 3 months it’s very different.   My “expert” suggestion is don’t let your baby under 12 months cry longer than 10 minutes.  At 2 yrs 3 months I had to undo the bad habit I created which meant letting her cry and I knew it L.

                When I get out of the shower the yelling has slowed down a bit- still going in waves- like the ocean.  Quiet whining, building up to “I want outta here” to then screaming “I need you Momma” then silence and we start all over.   I decide she needs to lay down so I’m going to dry my hair which is a huge treat for me since I don’t ever have time to dry my hair- heck I don’t usually take a shower alone as Lyla is often with me.  While I’m drying my hair the crying/yelling really slows down and even stops a few times.  I look at the monitor and this child is of course still standing in her crib holding her blanket and stuffed animal leaning against the crib rail falling asleep!  Her head nods forward her knees to start to buckle and she slides sideways- then she shakes- wakes up and starts yelling again!  This goes on for probably 10-15 min.  Seriously this child is so stubborn she’s going to fall asleep standing up in her crib- Lord help me.  Finally 50 min after the last time I walked out, 1 hr and 50 min after we started nap time Miss Spirited Lyla finally gives in, lies down in her crib, covers herself up with her blankie and goes to SLEEP!   Unfortunately she slept less than an hour but at this point that was but a small loss in a much larger victory! When she awoke I told her “Thank you so much for taking a nap- don’t you feel better?”  “Mommy needs to do a better job of making sure you take a nap every day and rest in your crib- sorry you were sad about taking a nap but it’s what’s best for you.”

                So what to learn here: 1. Parents create bad habits in kids- not kids.  Accept it and admit it- we all do it!  2. I really wanted to go get her when she was screaming that she needed me, but I knew we had to figure out this nap time battle and this is one I had to win.  3. I wasn’t following through with what I said over the last few weeks and I needed to mean what I say, and say what I mean.  4. Always empathize with your kids- EX:  “I’m sorry you’re mad but you can’t have a 2nd cookie”.  You are validating their feelings; which makes them feel understood by you. You are giving them a word for their feelings which will help them communicate it later in life. But, don’t give in.  Effective parenting is labeling and validating feelings but not giving in when you’ve set a boundary or said no.

                The Allied Forces won this battle- but rest assured it won’t be the last, and with Lyla’s strong-willed spirit she will win a few!  All parents make mistakes; all parents create bad habits in their kids and then get frustrated with their child about it- even “expert” parents!  The key is to realize your part in it, fix it and stand your ground even when it hurts your heart. Parenting is hard- but admitting your mistakes to yourself and to your children is what fixes all those darn parenting mistakes we make!  Make your goal to be a loving effective parent J not a perfect one!
 Jessica A. Zimmerman LMHC 260.452.5336

                Thank you Jessica for a wonderful post!  I gotta say it does feel good to know even an “expert” is at a loss at times.  If any other followers of Nuts of the Round Table would like to be a guest blogger please contact me.  We can all learn from each other; whether it be about new recipes, parenting, caregiving, green living, or just plan living; and it just feels good to be heard or find someone you relate with!

Today, choose love!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Caring for another person isn't for wimps!

So I really thought, " I can totally care for a toddler while pregnant, all my usual household duties, work part time from home, continue with my jewelry business, get my house really to sell, and blog regularly."  Then reality hit me in the face.  I pretty much feel like I am doing none of it, or at least none of it very successfully.

I have hit my second trimester so that is great but nothing has gotten any easier.  The house is such a disaster and dirty too.  I know what you are thinking, "how dirty is it really, she is a stay at home mom?"  It is dirty I tell you.  The bathroom is regularly cleaned and the kitchen gets its turn but the dusting and vacuuming?   Yeah, I am working on once every two weeks for vacuuming and dusting maybe once a month.  Yes, I said it.

I do work pretty hard on my part time job as we kinda need those dollars.  But since I have been napping when my kiddo naps, I end up working at night.  This has meant no jewelry making and no blogging. 

I do have to say my child is doing well.  He is learning his letters and so many new words everyday.  We do artsy stuff and he is getting really good at doing dishes.  I have been making more healthy homemade meals so that is a plus too (I can't be all negative).

But at the end of the day this mom feels like nothing is getting done and certainly not anything for herself.  I know I am not alone.  We as moms or caregivers think we can do it all and do it perfectly. So not true my friends.  I am writing this right now as my kid watches Sesame Street and I ignore him (well just his constant requests for me to sit on the floor - yeah cuz my butt wants to do that all day).  I just felt like I needed this right now and I'm not even sure I am making sense.

But after a morning that involved waking up with a migraine hangover, a super grumpy kid that misses his daddy who was on spring break all last week, and a dog puking on the rug and kid stepping in it; I needed something for me.  Yes, the spa would have been better but previously mentioned money and kid are preventing that from happening anytime soon. 

So moms or caregivers out there with a dirty house, a book you have only gotten to read the first 3 pages of, and pile of mail higher than  your mattress you miss so dearly; you are not alone.  It is hard to do it all.  If no one else tell you that I will.  And you know what else it is okay not to be - perfect.  It is okay to let some things go.  Because all of that pressure will just wear you out and don't those we care for do that already?  Burn out is real whether you are a mom, dad, wife caring for your husband with dementia, or dad caring for your adult disabled child.  I say it isn't just raising a child that takes a village, it caring for one another that takes a village.  So if you have a loved one that you know is struggling with caregiving give them a break.  Everyone benefits.  Someday it could be you on the other end.

If you or someone you know needs assistance with caring for an older adult or someone with disabilities please check out the links below.  This is something very near and dear to my heart!

Alzheimer's Association
Linking Disclaimer:
The Alzheimer’s Association is not responsible for information or advice provided by others, including information on websites that link to Association sites and on third party sites to which the Association links. Please direct any questions to

National Association of Area Agencies on Aging

Each state has different areas of funding and resources to help older adults, people with disabilities, and their caregivers find the best means of keeping people in a safe environment.  Please check out this site to see what your state offers.

As for moms well there are about a million blogs, Facebook groups, and many other places to get support!  But if you need a place to start let me know maybe we can get you connected!

Today, choose love.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pinterest success and failures take 2

Well I have complied a list of my recent Pinterest adventures and what kind of results I had. Check them out below. I would love to get some input on Pinterest Pins you would like to see me attempt. So if you are already a member of my group "See Kristin Attempt This" please start pinning things you would like for me to try. If you are not and would like to let me know!

A little something for the kids: Small Town Driving Mats
I printed these two pages out and whipped out my laminator (man I love using that thing!) The kid loved having something new to drive his "Little People" car and "Hot Wheels" cars on. I have decided though, I think I need two more and some Velcro to attach them and then it will be magnificent!

S'mores Dip - yep you read that right!


This recipe is perfect!  My hubs and I ate half of the bowl of it in one sitting - probably not so good.

Homemade creamer!

This recipe is great.  But let me give you two tips.  You don't have to add the vanilla.  If you use syrups with your coffee for different flavors you won't want it and then it will be more versatile.  Second, save a decent plastic creamer container from the store and make it and store it in that.  We did the jar and it was difficult to pour without making a mess.  Plus then you reuse!  Definitely a keeper and cheaper than store bought!

Personalized Baked Oatmeal Cups - eh.

Well these had such promise but tasted pretty blah.  I even ramped up the sugar content but they were just so dense and flavorless to us.  In order to eat the 2 dozen that I made we topped them with Ready Whip and that helped.  I made them in butterscotch chip, chocolate chip, raisin, and blueberry.  Butterscotch was the best by far.  I don't think we will make these again, the 1 1/2 year old would not touch them and that was sort of the point - easy go to breakfasts.

Homemade deodorizers - not so easy.

So I made this up in no time and let them dry for the 24 hrs.  I did not have a silicone pan so I used a mini muffin pan as suggest.  Yeah, those suckers were not coming out whole.  When I tried to "pop" them out with a knife, they just started to crumble.  I was a tad upset as I am cheap and ended up throwing it all away - oh the wasted time, money, and resources!  I might give it another try if I get my hands on the right sort of pan.  I really wanted them for my son's cloth diaper pail that smell worse than death. 

DIY Dishwasher detergent - Maybe there is hope?

This worked...sort of.  Most of the dishes were clean but a few still had some gunk.  However, the inside of the dishwasher has never looked cleaner.  May have to give it another try with a shot of vinegar in the rinse spout.

Dr. Bonner's Sal Suds in the Dishwasher - Not so hot in ours!

This was very watery as you can imagine a solution of Sal Suds, water,  lemon juice, tea tree oil, and
white vinegar would be.  Most of the dishes were clean but not as clean as a commercial detergent would clean them.  I am starting to wonder if my dishwasher is more the problem.  But none the less this one did not work for me.

Okay so there is another round of Pinterest success and failures.  If you want to see another round give this post a like and follow/Pin to my board on Pinterest.
See Kristin Attempt This - Pin items for Kristin to try out and blog about!

Today, choose Love.

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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ohh - I got to guest blog on a great food blog! Everyday Mom's Meals: Weekend Company {Guest Blogger Kristin}

I was so excited when my good friend and blogging mentor asked me to be a guest blogger!  Please check it out and her blog.  She makes so many yummy family meals!

Everyday Mom's Meals: Weekend Company {Guest Blogger Kristin}: Good Morning! I'm so excited for today's guest! She is a fellow mommy, blogger and just a terrific person. It's funny because Kr...

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Babies, Babies Everywhere!

Babies, babies everywhere!  It seems like everyone I know is having a baby, including me!  This is a little tip sheet I wrote for my sister in law before her son was born.  Reading through it reminded me of the things that are important with a new baby.  So here they are.  I hope you enjoy and please share your tips as well!

Tips for new Mommies

·         Be ready to "waste”.

o    You will waste diapers – before you can even get them on that little one will pee all over it.  Chuck it and move on. 

o   There will be jars of baby food that they may have eaten only 3 bites out of.  Chuck it after the 3 days and don’t think twice about it.

o    You need to “waste” time.  This is for your sanity.  Surf the Internet, read a magazine (a non-parenting magazine), and nap like it is your job.  Taking time for you, however you choose, is really not wasting time.  You will feel like it is, but it is caring for yourself.   This means it is caring for that sweet baby .

·         Take a bag of needed items with you everywhere you go – in the home. I kid you not, I carry a bag with me everywhere in the house full of things I need .  You will never have enough hands or arms when you need them.  A bag makes it easy to throw something in and take it to another room.

·         Take a camera everywhere. I put it in the bag!  This way I have a camera with me wherever we are because there will be moments you will want a picture of and no time to run for the camera.

·         Take water or some healthy beverage  everywhere – again put it in the bag.  You will not think to drink enough but you have to.

·         Eat – snack often.  You may think this is no problem but trust me you want to be prepared.  Buy healthy snacks you can grab and eat with one hand.  Have healthy frozen meals on hand.  There are going to be many nights you will not want to cook.

·         Be in touch with those who support you – you will find out fast who supports you 100% and who is going to judge you anytime they can. 

·         Go outside daily! You need fresh air and daylight on your face.  Too much time inside will suck the life out of you.

·         I have started ordering a lot of things online because shopping is soooo difficult with a baby. There are a lot of great sites out there. Amazon Mom gives you free shipping and great deals, especially when you have items shipped on a regular basis. That is my only commercial I promise.

·         Take care of the outside of you too.  You will wash your hands more times than you can count.  Long periods of standing and rocking will make your feet hurt.  You will kiss that baby so many times your lips will get chapped.  So take time for exercise and mini pampering, because as they say, “You are worth it!”

·         A word about breastfeeding and lactation.  It is a roller coaster.  Sometimes it feels like it will never end and sometimes it seems like you can’t get them to start.  There may be accidents and some pain, but the feeling of knowing you alone are the source of nourishment for your child is worth it all.  So you must have great nursing pads to prevent the leaks,  cream to help with the pain, and patience for the rest. 

·         Parenthood will test a marriage like you never thought possible.  It may not seem like it is possible but you will battle.  So learn to fight fair.  Communicate, communicate, communicate.  Never take each other for granted.  This little person came from you two loving each other, so remember to do little things for each other and date nights are mandatory!

·         In whatever way you can record the milestones and the mundane.  I could never seem to get that baby book started but I have posts on Facebook , and a box full of scratch paper with things jotted down.  Fill in the book later – live the moments now.

·         Above all else - Listen to you – no one, let me repeat – NO ONE knows your baby like you do.  Not friends, Dr.’s random people at the store,  your mom, your mother-in-law,  not even your husband.  If it feels right to you, it is.  Spending time second guessing yourself is time wasted.

·         Everyone will tell you and it bears repeating – soak in every second, every smile, every tear, everything you can because it truly goes faster than you can imagine and it is the most amazing journey you will ever have.
So if this is your first - good luck on your new journey!
If this is your second or more - make time of each of your children, your spouse, and yourself.
Today, choose love!

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Where did I go?

Yes, I have been a little MIA in life here lately.  But I have a really good reason.  At this point this little reason is about the size of a blueberry and is due in October.  Yes, that's right, our round table will be adding another nut! 
Pregnancy number two is so different.  I have been tired out of my mind and getting sicker by the day.  The bare minimum is pretty much the status quo for my daily life.  My kiddo may be watching a little bit more TV and I may be taking naps in my bed with him just so he will nap longer for me. The first time around I wanted fresh fruit all the time, this time I want beef, beef, and more beef.  Which is so crazy since I usually only eat about 4 servings of meat a week. 
I would like to share, for those who don't know, where my family's journey began.
I went in for an exam in April 2010 and a cyst that was around 7cm was found on my left ovary. The Dr. wanted to wait and see what it was like in May and when I returned it was over 9cm. I had surgery to have it removed and my new Dr. (the other got fired at that point for several reasons – but mostly her inability to act like she gave a crap about me) found that I did not have a right ovary or fallopian tube and that my left fallopian tube seemed blocked. I went thru a horrible procedure to find that yes indeed my left and only fallopian tube was 100% blocked. As I was laying on the table the Radiologist who did the test told me that I would not be able to have children naturally and then turned and left the room. Spencer and I were crushed but we picked up the pieces of this unimaginable situation and decided to go forward to In Vitro Fertilization. We completed the preliminary tests and all of the paperwork.
We waited for the first visit but two weeks before I began to feel very different. I took a pregnancy test thinking I was ruling it out, only to find (twice) that it was positive. We were excited and terrified at the same time. There was a good risk that it was ectopic or another cyst. Tests and the ultrasound gave us the confirmation that God can create miracles when we cannot create our own. Our beautiful son Coen was born in June 2011. He is the only proof I need of God’s love and that in Him all things are possible.

In April 2012 I began to have some problems that seemed all too familiar. I went into my Dr. on 5-1-12 and told him I thought the cyst was back. He did not seem to think that was the case but sent me for an ultrasound. It was confirmed, I had a 4.53cm cyst but not to worry it would probably resolve itself and to come back in 2 months.
I returned on 7-3-12 with hope but knowing the truth deep down. My cyst had grown to over 9cm. I was devastated. Since I only have one ovary we decided to try another option to try to shrink it. To do everything we could to save the ovary and the possibility of any harm but to no avail. I began to have so much pain that it was getting difficult to pick up my sweet Coen. I went back in on 7-31-12 to find it had not gotten any smaller; it had grown to 9.73cm and was possibly causing some harm to my fallopian tube. It has to come out.
I knew that my Dr. will do everything he can to protect my ovary, my possibility to grow our family, my life, but very little gave me comfort to know that in a moment my ability to have any more children could be taken away.And I know there are many ways to add to a family. But for the moment I was being selfish and I admit it. I also know that God has always had a plan for me, for my family; and I needed to trust in nothing but that. So on the morning of 8-13-12 I went into the hospital and put my life and my fertility in my Dr. and Lord’s hands. I was scared.
Though the Dr. had to do a great deal of work in there, my ovary was saved!  My fallopian tube remain the same, blocked.  But we knew we had to just put our faith in God's hands.
On 2-10-13 I took the test that confirmed it.  Went into the Dr. for the blood test to confirm.  So then I set out to plan the perfect reveal for the hubs.  It was craft time for Coen and me!  How great that it was Valentine's week!  We finger painted in red and cut out hearts.  Then I had him make hand prints. This is what the hand print looked like.
It was a great surprise!  We did the same thing with both of our parents and it was great!

So here we are!  So will I be posting more regularly now?  Yeah, who knows.  But I will share the journey of going from one kid to two with honesty and humor!

Today, choose love!
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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Stretching Chili Style

So if you are a little bit crazy like me you did a year end evaluation of your finances (yes, I am a big nerd and yes, I do know how to have a good time) and nearly passed out.  Let's face it the price of everything is going up - gas, toilet paper, bananas, and milk - I am strongly considering buying the cow (nobody is giving the milk for free these days!) but I am pretty sure that might be a little costly too.  So what do you do when you see your income versus spending is not getting along in a way that keeps the heartburn beast at bay?  You gotta find ways to stretch those precious dollars.  So in honor of short funds I give you "stretching it chili style"!
Here is a list of ingredients you will need for all of the meals.
2 Qt of Tomato juice
3/4 cup of dried onions
2 cans of medium chili beans
1 can of diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 can of tomato paste
1 to 1 1/2 lbs of ground beef (turkey, etc)
1 1/2 cup of Orzo pasta
8" flour tortillas
2-4 cups of cheddar cheese
2-4 tsp of ground black pepper
4-6 tsp chili powder
2 tsp chipotle chili powder (if you cannot find this use a little more chili powder)
1 tsp of Cumin
1 tsp of granulated garlic
other extras you might want:
Diced onions
Crushed tortilla chips
Sour cream
Real bacon bits or crumbles
Here is just a tip - when trying to get something like tomato paste out of the can - use a very small rubber spatula and you will be able to get every bit - see!
Penny pincher's delight!
Okay so you brown the ground beef (or other) and when it is only about half pink add in the dried onions.  I don't know why but for chili I really prefer the dried but if it kills you to use dried you will probably want to use a finely diced medium onion.
Once the meat is fully browned and the onions rehydrate add the (don't drain anything) 2 cans of chili beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 qt worth (4 cups) of the tomato juice, and spices. 
Okay I have to be honest.  I do not measure spices really at all.  I do everything to taste and it also depends on the heat level appropriate for the diners you will be serving.  Thus I give you a range.  I "measure" like good ol' Rachael Ray, by using my hand or sight.
 About a good tsp!
Simmer for 25-30 minutes and taste for seasoning.  Enjoy as is or top with cheddar cheese (I suppose you could add crackers but then you are just ruining it). 
Ah the first finished dish - Kristin's Chili
Okay after you have enjoyed as much as you like of the chili take a slotted spoon and put about 2-3 cups in one container and the rest in another.
Next up we add 2-3 cups of the left over tomato juice and 1 1/2 cups of Orzo pasta to the larger portion of leftover chili.  Now I know most of you probably grew up like my hubs with chili containing macaroni and I am sure that is fine.  The thing is I had orzo on hand and thought it would not over power the chili and I was SO right!  We loved the texture.  But if you cannot bear to see another pasta be my guest and change it to another small cut pasta of your liking. 
You may have to adjust seasonings after the pasta is done cooking which will take about 15-20 minutes. (If you were smart and own a pot that can go from the stove to the fridge and back again you saved your self a washing and stored the large portion in the pot you made it and then just added these ingredients).  Top with a little cheese, maybe sour cream, and tortilla chips - dress it up anyway you like! - and if it stretches another meal - try it topped another way!
Orzo Chili
Next break out the tortillas and the strained chili.  Heat up that chili, warm your tortillas, top with cheese and whatever else your heart desires!
Delicious Chili Cheese Burritos
Now I know you are saying, "But Kristin I still have some stuff left over."  No problem.  Enjoy the leftovers or slap whatever is left in a tortilla with cheese and fold it in half.  Toast in a pan on each side-  chili cheese quesadilla!  Now take that left over tomato juice and make yourself a  Bloody Mary because you just stretched a one pot meals to the extreme!
If you have a great stretch it meal or an idea for another way stretch this chili please feel free to share!
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Fur Baby Birthday Party

Today's blog is for all my dog lovin' people out there!  January 28th is always a bittersweet day for me.  It is my sweet Gracie's birthday and this year she turns 10! We rescued each other on November 19, 2003. It was love at first sight!
I was living in Muncie, IN and needed a companion.  I needed a dog.  I spent most of my life with a dog and living all alone was hard but without a dog seemed down right depressing.  I had searched all of the local shelters but none of them felt like my soul mate.  I was ready to give up until my mom called me at work and said she had found my dog at my hometown shelter and I needed to come home that day and see her.  I did and we both knew right away.  She was 10 months old and just skin and bones.  The picture to the above makes her look pretty good but she was pretty sad.  She had been kept outside, tied to a deck with a 6 foot rope.  She didn't know how to play, she was unsure of being inside, and she did not understand love.  I spent all of my non-working time with her just sitting on the floor loving on her.  She began to trust me and love me.  And I fell so deeply in love with her.  She has been there through everything.  (Like in the picture to the below.  I had broken my wrist on New Years Day 2010.  She didn't want to leave my side.)
Those who love dogs like I love dogs, you know how unconditional their love is.  How deeply they understand your pain, sickness, and love. 
I am going to admit something many will think is crazy.  I was so worried before my son was born that I would either not love my child like I did my dog, or that I would not be able to give my Gracie the love she deserved.  Thankfully, I do love my son so very much and get plenty of good cuddles with my girl.  There are days I feel like she is looking at me like, "Lady, why did you ever bring that crazy, noisy thing in here?"  But I also know she is very protective of him and loves him too.  And he adores her.  He looks for her first thing when he wakes up!
So bittersweet another birthday, because I know these angels are called home much too soon for my heart.  Every year we celebrate because she is just as special as any other member of the family.  But every year I cry a little bit more knowing our days together are getting fewer and fewer. 
She may not be born from my body, or even a human being, but she is my first baby and she always will be.  So today my son and I made her doggie cupcakes and we sang Happy Birthday to her at least half a million times! 

10 years old today and that kid makes me feel all of it!

Doggie Cupcakes without "icing"

Are you sure that is for me?

Adapted from an e-mail from DogAge® Tip of the Week

Cheesy Carrot Cupcakes - 12 mini cupcakes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated carrot
1 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/8 cup vegetable oil
Peanut butter or plain yogurt to "ice" them

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin or line it with paper baking cups. I like mini cupcakes but if you wanted to double the recipe you can do 12 regular cupcakes.

Combine all of the ingredients just until moistened.
Fill the cups full with the mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the muffins feel springy. Be sure to let the muffins cool about 5 minutes and then "ice" them.  Let them cool completely before serving to your sweet fur baby!

        Recipe from: DOGS: The Ultimate Care Guide, edited by Matthew Hoffman.

So do something a little special for your furry friend for my Gracie!
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Friday, January 25, 2013

I may not always be kind, but I will always be honest

So this post is completely not what I had planned to write about next.  This just kinda happened and well, I needed to put it out there.  Remember I said this is sort of my therapy (especially since the new year started and I am still paying off our medical bills from last year - stupid high deductible insurance).  Well, today, though this post may seem like a rant, I ask that you don't throw in the towel with me at least until you read through the end. Fair enough?  And just to keep you interested I will post random picture that may or may not have anything to do with the topic! Okay, let us begin.
This post is actually coming from a rant of mine on my personal Facebook page (no I will not friend everyone chomping at the bit to see what crazy stuff I post - it is private for a reason - you have to know me to get that level of crazy!) So here it is - some is edited to keep other's comments private.

Chopped butternut squash kinda looks like Velvetta.
"No one asked but I am going to voice my opinion anyway. I HATE THE CIRCUS! It is a terrible, disgusting example to show to anyone about how to treat animals. How would we like to be caged up, made to travel all over in said cages, trained by unspeakable means, and then made to endure people climbing all over them. We are outraged by what Michael Vick and other do to animals but pay money for this filth? And to add to it, area police provided lighted/sirens blaring escort for schools to and from. Are you kidding me? I will be complaining about that to someone. And please DO NOT EVER take my child to the circus! -Yes, I said it - feel free to unfriend me now!"

***Okay background info for those who do not know:  Fort Wayne, Indiana - my home sweet home, hosts the Mizpah Shrine Circus every year about this time.

Yes, some of the money from this mess does go to Shriner's charities.  Here is a direct quote from the site regarding this, "The Mizpah Shrine Circus is a fraternal fundraiser in which proceeds benefit the Mizpah Shrine. Payments are not deductible as a charitable contribution."

I would also like to note that I wrote and shared these comments only after re-researching circus practices.  I wanted to make sure I was correct in my understanding of treatment and legality of circus animals - I reviewed several sources - My daddy didn't raise no researching fool! - A fool perhaps.***

Okay game on.

Someone then posted about the money going to their charities - a worthy cause no doubt. Here is my response,
"Oh I love the fact that the Shriners raise money for all that they do. They do great work! However, how can we raise money to care for one while hurting another? I would ask that you send that money you would spend on tickets directly to area of the Shriner's organization you would like to help. - Then 100% goes there and not to animal cruelty!"

"In fact I posted above for anyone who would like to take a stand with me! I am going to donate the $10 ticket price for me. Oh and I did e-mail the {Police Department} about the escort - I am very unhappy that they would spend my tax dollars on this. Don't worry school systems are next! Mama is on a rampage - lookout!"
What is that?
I also noted to those reading,  "I was taken as a small child by my grandmother and will never forget it. I did not really enjoy it and when I was older and could understand how the animals were treated I was so upset that I ever went."
Comments were then made about me being upset about the police escort and kids going to the circus and this was my response,
"I am complaining about the schools taking kids. I am all for educational experiences about animals but would much rather the kids go to the zoo, museums, humane farms, etc to get a closer and better interaction with animals. If they want to give the kids a show take them to Cirque du Soleil.  Sorry kids."                                                                                              
                                                                                                        Why yes that is jewelry I made!

So what is the moral of this "rampage" that I tell?  To prove I am nuts?  No, but I am sure it helps.  To help out "my cause"?  No, though I do hope it at least makes you think about animal rights a bit. 
My real reason for today's post is to remind all of us that we are a huge influence on our children.  I hope that is not news to anyone.  I know you are thinking, "Oh good, she is trying to make her kid into a ranting lunatic like her."  Nope, though I am pretty sure it is already in his genes based on some of his OCD behaviors that look all to familiar. 
I am hoping that he embraces who he is and learns that when you believe in something you should find your "voice" to speak up for it. 
Something my mom has always said about me, and I think it is with pride, is that I am not always kind but I am always honest.  I do try to be kind about things and to others but I am also very sensitive and passionate about things that are important to me.  So will I yell at you in front of your kids that you are a jerk for taking them to see animal cruelty?  No, I might be thinking it.  I would ask you one on one if you ever thought about how those animals were treated.  I have rarely been one to "push" my agenda or opinions on anyone - I say rarely because I cannot be sure that I haven't (me, a liberal arts college education, and alcohol don't always mix well).    And I must once again state that I do not believe that I am in any way perfect.  I will even admit I still have a long way to go in my personal journey of ending animal cruelty for example.  I do eat some meat and probably do many other things but I am working on it too.

Here are a few other things about me that I want my child to know about his mom, hopefully be proud of, and maybe even choose to be in his life.

I may not always be right or kind, but I am always honest.
I do wear my emotions on my sleeve, and I will not apologize for it.
I do choose to live my life as a pretty open book, I do not expect others to do the same, I just hope they respect my choices as mine.
I am not always comfortable with myself but I accept that I am still growing.
I expect no more from anyone else than I do for myself.
I choose love above all things and ultimately refuse to put one being above another.

-Yes, that is a Praying Mantis - see I love them too! (Okay spiders, not so much, but I am trying not to kill them.)

So for those who have already dealt with these various characterics of me and chose to stick with me, thank you!

For everyone else still here, I hope that you were inspired (re-inspired) to be an example to your children, family, friends, and others of who you are and what is important to you.  Maybe it is even time to make your own list!  I have to say for me it turned out to be a Brightener!

It also inspired me to add a tagline to my posts, so from here on out, my words at this Round Table will end with this:

Today, choose love!               

P.S. I chose this picture because I believe this is one of the greatest ways I have ever experienced unconditional love.

Also as always the opinions and information shared are solely my own and I always suggest you do your own research before you sit down to the table with this or any other nut!