Just a survey

I am seriously wondering how much time other moms spend playing or reading with their children during the course of an average day (as in before the dads come home from work). And when does this quality time take place? Please chime in here...I'm seriously curious. One hour? 3 hours? 20 minutes?

Personally, it's around 2 hours, on a regular day. I usually try to read for 20 or so minutes a day, right before naptime. And we our morning devotions time and outside play. Scattered here and there are a few minutes of random playing, in the midst of what is now my most time-consuming task: feeding everyone. Especially now that Elliot needs solids in addition to four nursing periods.

Now that I'm fighting femcha and my perfectionist personality, I'm spending more time thinking about what really matters and working towards accomplishing those things. And more FUN with the kids is def. high on the list.

Tonight we are having Pork & Pasta with Gorgonzola Cream (again). Though this sounds like a very ambitious recipe, it's really not...it's very easy and very yummy. You should try it. Especially you lurkers who read but don't comment. :) Oh - don't use whipping cream. I never do. Substitute evaporated skim milk. You most the whipping cream or the extra calorites, I promise.

Update: when cooking my pork in the aforementioned recipe, I do not cut it into medallions and pan-sear it. That would be quite time-consuming and stressful, making this recipe femcha (for me anyway). Instead, I combine the spices to make a rub and then bake the tenderloin in the oven for the amount of time specified on the package. Very easy.


Fashion on a Friday

Will this turn into Fashion Fridays? Not sure. Not sure I really care. I'm not going to add one more thing to stress about...down with femcha! (See my previous post if you are lost here.)

In the September issue of Real Simple, there is an article called, "Trends Worth Trying." I couldn't resist buying a copy (I'm highly interested in fashion and trends, even tho most days I wear a kids XL white undershirt and workout shorts). This article contains quite a few juicy trends I'd like to try but the one that really caught my eye was "Patent-leather riding boots." I'm in the market for new black boots and the idea of patent is intriguing. But here is my question: do they have to be riding boots?? I spotted a nice pair of patent-leather boots--moderate heel, pointed toe--while walking to the alterations shop this morning. And they were reasonably priced but decidedly not riding boots.

So back to my question: do they have to be riding boots? Would it be trashy or otherwise inappropriate to wear dressy patent-leather boots to say, church? Please weigh in. And in the meantime, I'm going to consult the latest issue of my favorite magazine: People Stylewatch.

p.s. Thanks to everyone for speaking up about the pressures we all face as women--so SO glad I'm not alone. And I'm really trying...I went to bed w/out doing the dishes last night. I watched The Office on the couch while reading a magazine and then turned the light out on the mess and crawled into bed...without feeling guilty!


I'm still going to plan menus BUT...

...you just can't do everything. Nope. No matter how hard you try or how late you stay up. And that is what God is teaching me today, right now.

Before I had two children, I used to be able to keep the house immaculate, cook lovely and delicious meals, serve them steaming hot and perfectly seasoned on a very stylishly decorated table. I could show up to dinner with a smile and makeup, wearing something other than workout attire (having already worked out and showered, of course). I could enjoy that delicious meal while talking about the challenges and successes of my day in corporate America, vent about how busy I was and leisurely enjoy my glass wine; I'd even have a few brain cells left to hear about Ryan's day. I'd then clean the kitchen and dishes (which wasn't hard, because it was already immaculate) and with a second glass of wine in hand, head for the sparkling clean bathroom, complete with freshly washed towels and an assortment of bath products. I would also manage our finances and do the laundry. Ryan never ran out of underwear and all the bills were always paid on time.

And then Charlie was born...and I went back to work 6 weeks later. And about 6 weeks after that, our water suddenly stopped working. Because the bill was late. And that was when reality really started to settle in, at first just a gentle whisper..."Emily, you can't do it all." But I kept trying. I kept trying all through Charlie's first year and a half of life, trying to be a 100% employee, 100% home manager, 100% mother and 100% wife. And when I realized that wasn't working, I switched to part-time, kept trying to juggle everything. And then Elliot was born and we moved 4 times in 3 months (Augusta to Savannah Apt, Augusta to PODs, Apt to house, PODs to house) and Ryan's job is much busier and this new house requires more work to maintain and Charlie is very two and requiring lots of "management" and Elliot is needing solid foods and on and on and on...And I'm still wearing myself out, almost in tears most days over the mess that doesn't go away, the dogs that refuse to obey, the almost-constant needs of the children, all the while knowing that this is not how it is supposed to be...

Don't get me wrong: I love my life. I'm honored that God has given me these children and a husband with a demanding job; I love having this much responsibility and I'm much two controlling not to run our house. :) I wouldn't change a thing. And most of the time, this inward struggle towards perfection is not even noticeable to those around me. I just keep smiling (most of the time), all the while thinking of what I should be doing and how what I've just done is not enough. But really it is enough. So today, right now, this week, I'm going to start working towards being able to let things go. Let the dishes sit in the sink for longer than 5 minutes. Let the dog hair sit on the floor and ignore the banana-smeared high chair. Because there are babies to enjoy and a 2 year old who needs to see joy, peace and patience modeled for him, not just discussed. This quote from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People spoke to me:

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. - Goethe

So with God's help, I want to relax; let things go; do the most important things, the ones that will matter for eternity. And let the other things go. It's not going to be easy, but I'm going to try. Jill would call this femcha and I'm going to join the fight against it!

So back to menu planning: I'm still going to do it but meal preparation is my first area of attack. So for the near future, we're going to be eating very simple meals: salad and baked potatoes, grilled chicken and veggies and old stand-by casseroles like my mom's Poppyseed Chicken. We'll see how it goes!

And since I'm going to stop stressing so much about the house and meals, maybe I'll have time to figure out my new camera and actually post some pictures!


Shopping on Facebook?

Just saw this add on Facebook:

Nationwide in stores in U.S. & Canada, Friday through Sunday!Bring in a Friend, say the password ‘BFF‘ and you’ll both save 20%!RSVP now and invite your friends.To redeem in store, you and your friend need only say the password ‘BFF’ at time of purchase. No coupon necessary.To redeem online, enter this promo code at checkout: BFFOnline code limited to one time U.S. purchase only.To learn more please visit: : http://next.oldnavypromotions.com/?v=bff&tid=ONFB1Offer valid on Old Navy merchandise only from September 19, 2008 to September 21, 2008 in the US (including Puerto Rico) at gap.com, bananarepublic.com, oldnavy.com, piperlime.com, and Old Navy stores in U.S. & Canada.

Who knew Facebook contained such tidbits? I think I'm going to do some shopping right now!


Shopping Green

Ever since I decided to start going green(er), I've been looking for high quality, reusable, and CHEAP shopping bags. A personal soapbox of mine is the way everyone and their brother is trying to profit from the green movement, from taking care of the environment. I really, really hate that. It's pathetic. If the environment is important and so precarious, one should not have to be a member of the upper crust in order to afford environmentally friendly, sustainable products. ANYWAY, I finally found a winner at Jo-Ann's Fabric & Crafts and I bought 3. For $1 each. And they are huge, with very long handles. Perfection. I test-drove them today at Kroger and I loved it. More groceries fit in these huge bags so I had less trips from the car to the house. I am hooked and will probably be back for a few more. As an aside: Kroger gave me a free reusable wine bag. It has several slots to hold multiple bottles of wine. Very cool.

Other green changes we've made around the house:
- No longer purchasing paper plates, cups, disposable silverware
- Very infrequent use of paper towels (just bought my first package since moving)
- No more disposable water bottles

We're starting small but really want to tackle recycling next. We had to get the garage cleaned out first, ha!

In other news, Candace is coming to visit this week-end! She's driving down from Richmond with Baby Caroline and Zippy. Should be fun!

In her honor, I'm making Pork & Pasta with Gorgonzola Cream Friday night. As an almost vegetarian, that really is a sacrifice! :) I'm sure Ryan will appreciate it as well, if he gets to come home from the hospital anytime this week-end!

Other items on the menu this week:
- French toast
- Brunswick Stew
- Grits Casserole with Turkey Sausage
- Apple, Turkey and Cheddar meatballs


Pet Peeves & Pictures

One of my major pet peeves in life is people overreacting to stressful situations or potential natural disasters, like the election of Bill Clinton, hurricaines, Y2K, and the struggling economy. My first memory of being annoyed at an overreaction was the night Bill won the presidency. I was home-schooled at that time and I can remember the entire home-schooling community going into mourning, thinking that the assault on their civil liberties had begun and that all of their 8 million children were doomed to public education (gasp). Of course that didn't happen. Taxes sure were high (my parents with 6 kids living at home on a >40K salary had to make monthly IRS payments) but life as we know it did not end with the onset of the Clinton Years. And when everyone started taking money out of the banks and stocking up on food and weapons in preparation for Y2K, I could not believe it. I mean, what good is an arsenal going to do you if we cannot operate any of our electronics, cars, etc? Anyway, the behavior I witnessed today at local gas stations was on par with the gross overreactions I just described. People at Sam's Club were lined up into the street AND many were filling up cans AND CANS of gas. It was insane. I actually needed gas, unfortunately for me so I had to wait and it took about 30 minutes for me to get a turn. Come on, people. Take on for the team and pay a few cents more in gas for a few days. Overall, it will do us good in the end because all you are doing is increasing the demand, decreasing the supply and you don't need a degree in economics to know what that does to the price of gasoline. I would say that gas went up about 20 cents today in our community. In fact, the price increase was so drastic that I started receiving text messages from our local news stations about it (apparently they are about to start arresting people for price gauging around here).

So please, if you are reading this, do us all a favor and don't buy gas unless you need it. If something really awful happens and our supply of gas is completely cut-off, your one tank and a few gas cans full of gas is not going to save you. And is it really worth the $5 or $10 you are going to save?

On another note, we had a photographer friend come out to the house earlier this week and take some pictures, mostly of Elliot as he has not had many pics AT ALL taken but she took a few of the rest of us too. They turned out really well, I think. You can see a few of them on her blog.

Happy Friday!


Couch to 5k

I get lots of questions on exercise, how to fit it in, what I do, etc. And basically, the easy part for me is that I like to exercise. I love lifting weights, running, walking, listening to my generic IPod, etc. I love playing sports (ultimate frisbee, soccer) and basking in the excitement that goes along with them. And I really miss all of that. Though very convenient, it's just not as fun to run in my closet, looking at the wall, no matter how good the music is. So, as I did the year after Charlie was born, I've signed up for a few 5K races: United Way Walk-the-Walk in October, Ten Can / Turkey Trot in November, and I'm still thinking on the Savannah River Bridge Run (that hill is huge). I get the team sports "high" without the commitment to a team.

To get ready for these races, I use the Couch-to-5K running plan. This plan really makes it easy and it really is an interval work-out plan, which is an overall better workout than just running. I'm on Week 2 and am already feeling more fit. And working towards a goal is much more rewarding than just getting on the treadmill day after day. I can promise you that.

I'm still loosely following the Abs Diet for Women. I'll be drinking lots of post-workout smoothies over the next few weeks, including my favorite, easy go-to smoothies: Abs Diet Ultimate Smoothie, Lemon Drips and Drops, and Halle Berries. If I could recommend one change to anyone out there wanting to increase energy, be more fit, or lose weight: start drinking smoothies. It really does help and they are delicious. I use the Magic Bullet to blend my smoothies and it makes the whole process so easy. Drink up!


Menu Planning Mondays

I'm keeping it simple this week because I have quite a few projects I'm working on around here, including--dum, da, da, dum, dum--painting the master bathroom myself (my sister finished the wallpaper on Saturday - thanks Anna!) and finishing up the kids vanity. I also have quite a few pieces of furniture to paint so there's no shortage of tasks. Because of this, we are mostly eating out of the freezer and gnoshing on some simple salads, like Ellie Krieger's Curried Chicken Salad. I am going to make one of my mom's recipes, Citrus Rosemary Turkey Tenderloins and will let you know how that turns out.

Tonight I finished up my painting earlier than I expected so I whipped up some Parmesan Grits to go along with our pan-fried Tilapia and WOW. Delicious. I omitted the soup, substituted canned evaporated milk for regular milk and used dried basil and it turned out great. And I probably saved some calories too. We really love grits around here and I'm always game for trying new recipes. This one is def. a keeper (Charlie had 3 helpings).

In other news, I ordered a camera off Overstock and as soon as it arrives, I'll be posting some much-requested photos of the kiddos and probably a shot or two of the completed projects (fingers crossed).
Ciao. (haha)

PS - I know I need to get off the politics soapbox BUT did anyone see the Obama v. O'Reilly interview series? I highly recommend it - very enlightening.


And it keeps on comin'

Not that we really needed ANOTHER reason to strongly-very intensely-vehemently dislike Gloria Steinem but regardless, we have one. She has now weighed in on Sarah Palin with a whacked out opinion.

I really can't believe it. She has contradicted her basic beliefs in a big way and there are many crazy things in this LA Times article but I can't resist commenting on the last paragraph:

And American women, who suffer more because of having two full-time jobs than from any other single injustice, finally have support on a national stage from male leaders who know that women can't be equal outside the home until men are equal in it. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are campaigning on their belief that men should be, can be and want to be at home for their children.

Are you kidding me? Being a mom and having a career is the overwhelming cause of the suffering of women in this country? Suffering? That is nothing short of ridiculous. There is no doubt that motherhood involves suffering but that is part and parcel of the job irregardless of any other factor. I cannot believe that this statement came out of the original femi-nazi. So to avoid this suffering, women should give up one of their full-time jobs? If so, which one? And as someone who has never mothered while working, I find her hardly qualified to speak on this matter.

And since when is the domesticity of fathers an Obama/Biden campaign slogan? If anyone is looking for advice on how fathers can "be equal in the home" so "women can be equal outside the home," perhaps they should schedule a coffee date with Todd Palin, who seems to be um, writing the book on this subject.

Oh - before I forget: make sure you don't miss the excellent journalism of Us Weekly, the magazine that claims to deliver the "latest breaking news and information on top celebrity stories, style, and more." If you want to know about Bristol's boyfriends tatoo or what baby gifts Bristol received from Jamie Lynn Spears, make sure you check out http://www.usmagazine.com/. From what I read, they should have stuck to fashion and celebrity news. Politics is really not "their thing."


Now THIS is selacious:

Sarah Palin's teenage daughter's private life and decisions are getting just as much attention as Bill Clinton did when he did who-knows-what (wait, we all know exactly what) with Monica while in the White House--and then lied about it.

If you want to read more about the absurd coverage of Sarah Palin, make sure you checkout the past few days of entry's on Jill's blog. Or just turn on CNN so you can watch for yourself while the liberals try to roll back women's rights.

And apparently P. Diddy has a problem with the entire state of Alaska. He has a really valuable and well-thought argument, which you can read about here.

Bottom line: to get so dirty, so desperate, the liberals must be really, really scared of Sarah Palin. And they should be.


Menu planning Monday has been cancelled due to the threat of Hurricane Hanna. We'll likely be drinking bottle water and eating canned beans for the next few days. Fun. If you need me, I'll be bungee-cording my new shutters. Ahem.


No love for Bill

Ryan & I laughed about this for about 3 hours yesterday...and about 2 more today after I found the video online at foxnews.com. Please check out the video at the link below. You'll thank me, I promise.

Bill Rejected

And be sure to turn up the volume on your computer. The Fox & Friends commentary is hilarious.