Thursday, August 29, 2013

Nothing's Set in Stone


We were done, you see, until all of a sudden we weren't. The decision was out of our hands. She was coming into our lives and the plan we once had in mind didn't matter anymore. And thank God for that fateful intervention. I see now that my plans were all wrong.

Now she's here and I can't imagine life without her. But I wonder about the life that might have been sometimes.

I wonder if there would be a hole in my heart, nothing more than a pinprick now, but still noticed every now and again. A pang, quickly fleeting amidst the chaos of life. A longing I couldn't quite place. I wonder if it would grow through the years - an emptiness that refused to be filled. Something would always be missing, and I wouldn't know what. Or maybe I would guess it every now and again, but shrug it off and move on, because really, what else could I do?

And maybe this is why I find it so hard to set my plans in stone again. Because I know what it is to stare awestruck at this babe and know that my life would never be complete without her. I know the overwhelming grace that can come from the unexpected.

I can imagine being here again, looking down at someone I love so deeply that I can't imagine that my world existed before them. Whispering into the tiniest ear, "You were always meant to be."

Nothing's set in stone.

Nothing ever is.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Young and In Love - A New Series Featuring You


I'll be launching a new series on the blog starting next month (side-note: can you guys believe it's September next week?) - and I would love to hear your story.

Young and In Love is a Q+A series focusing on stories of young love, early motherhood, and inspiration.

If you have a story that fits in any (or all three) of those categories, contact me if you would like to be a part of this feature. In addition to Q+A, I'll also be considering essays as guest posts for the series.

If you know anyone who might be interested, please spread the word.

I'm looking forward to sharing your stories!

xoxo

Monday, August 26, 2013

Miley Cyrus is Human

Photo: Here it is...from a link in the USA Today article.
From what I've gathered, this pretty much sums up the collective reaction to Miley Cyrus.

First of all, I feel I should admit that I haven't watched any of the VMA's yet. Not even the N*Sync reunion, the mere mention of which makes my heart flutter and the pre-teen girl in me ache with nostalgia. And not the Miley Cyrus performance that has everyone up in arms and throwing stones.

But it doesn't matter if I watched it or not. It's everywhere. Every news outlet. Every social media outlet. Every blog (even this one now).

I think I've got a pretty good idea of what went down: Miley went onstage and looked like a mess. What transpired was lewd and tasteless and made the internet collectively groan. She bumped and grinded and twerked in a way that made everyone really uncomfortable or angry or sad or disgusted or some combination of thereof.

And the outraged crowds went wild.

She got called every name in the book and then some. She was slammed and memed and lectured in blogosphere "mom rants." She was bemoaned as a lost sheep by the righteous, shamed like an unloved child by the rest. And every once in a while someone shouted from the rafters, "WHO CARES?!" And I tried to nod my head in agreement, but for some reason just couldn't.

And I guess it's because despite the fact that I know there are far more important things going on in the world right now, it still made me sad. It's the same sort of sadness I felt around election time, when everyone forgot their humanity for a while. A sadness derived from an out-pour of hate where there should be understanding, or at least an attempt to understand.

There plenty of folks out there pretending to be understanding by playing psychologist and blaming her behavior on any number of things (namely her complicated relationship with her Disney image). But once they diagnose the source of her behavior they all turn to shaming. Every last one of them. That's not understanding. That's not understanding at all.

Because if we were really understanding, we wouldn't be talking her down on the internet. Calling her "sweetheart" or "honey" to take her down a notch while doling out life advice. Saying we'll pray for her soul. Acting like we're so much better than a twenty year old with a shitty support system and terrible guidance.

I mean, is it really her fault? Is it?

Where's the outrage for the people who not only allowed this to happen, but made this happen? Sure, everyone's all about calling out MTV for being dirty brown water trash, but there's so much more than that...

Aren't we disappointed in all the people who were involved? Shouldn't we shame the people who cajoled her like a circus bear? The people who helped her create this mess, knowing the blame wouldn't fall on them, chanting "Do it!" like a crowd of frat boys?

Shouldn't we be sad that no one took her hand and said, "You don't have to do this, you know?"

You know, at some point she takes off the outrageous costumes and make-up and she goes to bed. And I bet it's lonely as hell. At some point she ceases to be an object in the limelight and becomes human again. And I wish we didn't need to be reminded that she's human.

Monday's Menus (Week 7)

Come this Labor Day Weekend we'll be heading to California for the weekend to enjoy the Old Cazadero BBQ. I'm packing up a lasagna to take with us, but Sunday we'll be enjoying big ol' plates of ribs and other delicious fixins. I'm pretty excited about it.
But while I may not be making dinner on Sunday, I'll still be busy in the kitchen. I'm putting my culinary skills to the test once more and entering my blackberry pie in the pie contest. It stole the show last time and earned me a blue ribbon in both the berry category and the overall. 

So wish me luck on another successful year of total pie domination! I'm about to go play Eye of the Tiger while shaping discs of pie dough.


Week 7 Menu

Monday
Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday
Swedish Meatballs with Mashed Potatoes

Friday
Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches with Macaroni Salad

Saturday
Best Ever Lasagna with Spring Greens Salad

Sunday
Old Cazadero BBQ - Blue Ribbon Blackberry Pie

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mighty Adventures in Baking


As some of you may know, I completed a goal from my life list earlier this week. It wasn't one of the "Big Ones" like getting published in a national magazine or living completely debt free - but no matter what the goal, it's always gratifying to cross something off the list.

This time it was making croissants from scratch. (Which, by the way, is an endeavor I highly recommend)

But I'm not here to tell you how to make croissants. Annie's Eats has you covered if you feel compelled to make your own laminated pastry and fill your house with the delicious aroma of a boulangerie.

I'm here to tell you about Go Mighty, an amazing website that is all about helping you create, track and complete your life goals.

I first learned about Go Mighty through Early Mama and was instantly in love once I checked out the site. There's so much inspiration at every turn! It allows you to make your life list and upload pictures to go along with your goals, you can write stories as you check things off your list, and there's even a chance you could get some of your goals sponsored (Michelle got to take a solo vacation with her hubby sponsored by P&G and Go Mighty early this year: read about it here).

I'm not getting paid to say any of this, I'm just all amped up on checking another goal off my list. I thought I'd share the wonder of Go Mighty with all of you simply because I love how it tracks my life list and constantly keeps me inspired. If you decide to join Go Mighty, let me know! I'd love to follow you as you tackle your life list. And of course you can always check out my profile, and bug me about how I'm slacking on adding stories to my goals.

I'd love to know, what are some of your life goals?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Against All Odds


There's been a lot of smoke and rain and threatening clouds keeping us indoors lately. The murky skies keep Lucas napping for hours, and I've been left with some peaceful afternoons with little chunk. Sometimes she's awake and wants to coo and smile at me. Sometimes she wants to sleep on the living room floor while I fold laundry. She doesn't really mind what's on the agenda as long as she's next to me.

Unless it's dress up. She hates playing dress up.

Most afternoons though, there is a time when I will lay her on the bed next to me and stare at her until she falls asleep. I'll watch her chest rise and fall, her face forming half-smiles while she dreams. I'll kiss her chubby cheeks, and she'll stir, and I promise myself I'll stop bothering her, only to do it again not one minute later.

And I'm awestruck, with each breath, at the fact that she's here at all.

I remember the nonchalance with which I took the pregnancy test, so sure it couldn't be positive. I was days off the shot, and already on the pill. It was practically impossible. I remember how overwhelmed I was when I first stared at those two pink lines on the pregnancy test. I was shocked, almost in disbelief. How could this happen against all odds?

Now I feel the magnitude of those impossible odds all over again. Disbelieving that there was ever a time when she wasn't a part of the plan. Overwhelmed by my love for her. Shocked that I could ever be so lucky, so blessed.

I place a finger on her outstretched hand - she grasps, then releases.

And once again, I ask myself quietly, how could this happen against all odds?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday's Menus (Week 6)

I'm getting pretty heavy handed with the tomatoes this week. Tomato season is nearly over, you guys. It's a travesty. Not only that, but school starts up again next week for Rob and Labor Day is less than two weeks away. Summer is coming to quickly to a close, and I'm having a little trouble dealing with that.


So get yourself to the Farmer's Market before it packs up for the year, buy some tomatoes and live in denial of the fact that summer's nearly gone.

Week 6 Menu
 
Monday
Tomato Cobbler withe Gruyere Biscuits and Sauteed Green Beans
 
Tuesday

Wednesday
Thursday
Grill Smoked Salmon with Cucumber-Radish Salad

Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Chilled Tomato Basil Soup with French Bread


Friday, August 16, 2013

It's just summer love

I know the blog has been quiet this week. I've been working on a few writer related things: drumming up a new Q+A series for the blog, writing for other outlets, working on drafts that aren't quite ready yet.

But mostly it's been quiet around here because I've been out and about, enjoying these last few weeks of summer. Rob starts school in just over a week, and my summer bucket list remains unfinished. I know we won't get to mark everything off the list this late in the game, but I'm hoping to squeeze a few more things in. A hike, a water gun fight, a trip to the zoo, a mason jar of cool refreshment. . .these things seem doable. Who knows, maybe I'll even be able to finish my good book.

So forgive me while I'm off gallivanting into the wilds that lie outside the internet in a pair of short shorts. It's nothing to worry about. It's just summer love.


We finally made it to Lake Tahoe and had a picnic

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday's Menus (Week 5)


This is exactly the kind of weekly menu I love. It's got a great variety of proteins, flavors and different cuisines. Plus it's a good balance of tried and true recipes, and exciting new ones (like the slow cooker ribs and baked beans!).

My favorite from this week is definitely the Grilled Chicken & Pineapple Quesadillas from The Pioneer Woman. They taste very similar to ones served at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas, and satisfy my craving for special vacation food. I'm a total sucker for copycat recipes, and those quesadillas did not disappoint.

Happy menu planning, everyone!

Week 5 Menu

Monday
Tuesday

Wednesday
Bourbon Street Chicken with Rice and Chinese Broccoli

Thursday
Slow Cooker Ribs with BBQ Baked Beans and Coleslaw

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Friday, August 9, 2013

Regrets of the Opt-Out Generation

By now most have read or at least caught wind of Judith Warner's NY Time's Magazine article The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In. The article centers on stories of affluent women who left high powered jobs during the so-called Opt-Out Revolution, to become stay-at-home mothers. Now a decade later, Warner checks in with some of these women to see how the choice of motherhood over career played out in the long run.

The three stories Warner focuses on show women whose marriages are in shambles, whose identities are lost, whose careers must start over from scratch. Though only one of the women interviewed expressed out-and-out regret and bitterness, Warner weaves a tone of regret through each woman's story - implying, in no uncertain terms, that these women made grave mistakes by choosing babies over business. She encourages the reader to associate failed marriages and missed opportunities with motherhood, when really it is much more complex than that.

The stories of these women, which span over a decade or more, do not simply tell the outcome of one monumental choice. If we were to look more closely at their lives, beyond the agenda of the NY Time's article, I'm sure we would see a culmination of many choices as well as factors beyond their control. The job market has not remained stagnant these past ten years, and the economic landscape has changed drastically and unpredictably. The choice to be a stay-at-home mother is only one piece of the puzzle in how their lives played out. It is lazy to imply that this was the move that undid them, because life is not that simple.

Not to mention, their lives are not over. Warner has honed in on these women right as they are wading back into the job market, during a recession no less.They're encountering circumstantial roadblocks no one saw coming a decade ago. It would be interesting to see how these women respond in interviews in another ten years time. A lot can change. A lot will change.

Warner glosses over the heart of the matter in a brief paragraph towards the end of her article, where she notes that none of the women she spoke with actually wanted their old lives or jobs back. She writes, "What I heard instead were some regrets for what, in an ideal world, might have been — more time with their children combined with some sort of intellectually stimulating, respectably paying, advancement-permitting part-time work." The problem is that such opportunities do not exist. The regret these women feel isn't rooted in the choices they made, but the fact that more suitable choices were not available to them.

Last year, The Atlantic published an article  by Anne-Marie Slaughter Why Women Still Can't Have It All. Slaughter delves into the source of the opt-out problem, which is that women are not afforded the opportunity to pursue career and family simultaneously because our economy and society are not structured to support these women. Even the most educated and competent women have to compromise if they decide to incorporate both work and family into their lives.

Perhaps this is where the conversation about the opt-out generation should set its focus. Instead of implying that choosing motherhood over a lucrative career is a sin against feminine progress, let's question just how far we have come if even the most successful and educated women must choose one or the other. In respect to the NY Time's article, little is gained from wistfully looking at the past and wondering what could have been. Because quite frankly, these women didn't have a necessarily "better" option. They were forced to choose family over career because they did not have the option of family and a career. There was never a happy medium for these women and there still isn't today


Little Chunk: 3 Months

Little Chunkers is 3 months old today.

We had a photo session in fancy clothes with Lemaire Photography this morning, and I can't wait to share those when we get them. But in the meantime, here are some snapshots from our at-home photo shoot. Complete with an adorable face-smooshed-into-teddy-bear moment. Swoon.




Happy weekend, everyone!
xoxo

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Another Life, Another Time


We'll to belly up to the stage at The Flaming Lips concert and dance...

We're going to have four kids, who knows, maybe more. We're going to move into the mountains and have a big astrovan to carry our babes in. They'll wear each others clothes and I'll make bread every day from scratch and we'll have a big garden and an orchard and maybe someday some horses. We won't vacation much but it'll be fine. Maybe one day we'll take them all on a camping trip and they can all bring along one friend. That's camping with at least eight kids...scratch that.

We're going to have one two babes (since they're already in our arms) and we'll make a whole mess of money and travel. We'll take them to Disneyland for fun and London for family and we'll sneak off to Vegas before Elton John dies so I can see him in the flesh and bask in his glory. And we're going to run marathons in all sorts of exciting places and hike the Pacific Crest Trail when we retire early. We're going to conquer every quest on my life list. We're going to travel the world hand in hand.

We're going to win the lottery and buy that house we just passed on a winding country road. The big one with the wrap around porch and a little vineyard, even though I don't know a damn thing about wine. We'll pay someone to move all our stuff and leave the cat behind (okay, I guess we'll bring the cat since we won't be stuck in a car with him while he howls the whole way here). You can buy old cars and fix them up and I'll grow beautiful peonies and roses and tulips and become a florist.

We're going to build a house someday. I'll show you the plans on Pinterest and you'll say, "Yeah, we could make that happen." We'll sketch out the floor plan on sheets of printer paper and keep them in a binder I'll never be able to find until I'm not looking for it. A big house surrounded by oak trees with a beautiful kitchen, a separate workshop for you.You can be a woodworker and I will be a baker.

A while back we were going to move to the coast and live in a van and make seashell necklaces and dive for abalone. We were going to move to Germany and you would be an engineer and I would write novels. Another life, another time.

We're living in a cozy little house in Northwest Reno with two babes and a cat and a big old dog. I'm a writer and soon you'll be graduating as a mechanical engineer. We're making plans for a front yard garden and maybe some spring chickens in the backyard. And maybe we'll have more babies or maybe we won't. Maybe we'll move or maybe we'll stay. Maybe we'll be rich and maybe we won't. Maybe we'll do it all or maybe we'll do something we haven't dreamed of yet.

The path we choose isn't so important, so long as I'm with you.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday's Menus (Week 4)


Lots of creamy pasta goodness on the menu this week. Get on it.

I know I was a bit absent last week. I've been having some serious vacation time since I went to see The Flaming Lips last Tuesday, then decided on a last minute trip to California with the babes. It's been an amazing week, and I will fill you in on all that fun soon.

But even while still on vacation, I wouldn't dare leave you hanging on your Monday's Menus fix. You still need to eat some good home cooking while I'm off eating the best steak sandwich you've ever imagined.
I'm sorry, that was uncalled for. But seriously, if you ever find yourself at Crepevine, do yourself a favor and get yourself a Big Sur. In the meantime, plan yourself a delicious weekly menu.

Week 4 Menu

Monday
Tuesday
Chicken Tikka Masala with Naan and Jasmine Rice

Wednesday
Thursday
BBQ Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with Grilled Corn and Spring Mix Salad

Friday
Saturday
3-Ingredient Crockpot Chicken Tacos with Chips and Guacamole
Sunday
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