Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm linking up with Jamie today for What I'm Loving Wednesday!
First and foremost I'm loving that today is our nine year wedding anniversary!  This particular anniversary has me reflecting on our relationship.  Yes, I've always loved Tyler but over 9 years it's amazing how that love has grown and evolved.  We were pretty much babies when we got married.  I was 21 and he was 22 and still in college.  On that day I was positive that I wanted to marry him and madly in love. It's almost unbelievable that somehow I love him more today - and if you had told me that then I don't think I would've believed you.  His character is so admirable.  He is the best father for our little cowboys.  He loves me - for me.   We are blessed beyond measure in our relationship.  Our faith in God is our foundation and I give Him all the credit for bringing us together and keeping us together.  Cheers to forever my love!
::We don't have any big anniversary plans.  This morning we did T25 together and plan on having a nice dinner at home with the little cowboys.  We're saving up celebrating big for next year - 10 years!

I'm loving that this sweet little girl and her parents came to visit over the weekend!
 We went out to the farm for a mini photo session.  I'm loving a few of our shots.  None of the kids were into taking pictures but hey, at least we tried.  
{I'll try to get more posted soon.}
I think Miss Brynlee loved playing with our little cowboys!  
And our little cowboys loved playing with her :)
Thanks for a great weekend Smith family!
...and as always I'm loving these two cowboys!
What are you loving today?


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Little Boy, Big Bed

Just like every typical evening, I snuggled with the boys on the bottom bed as we read our bedtime story. Jacob's long and lanky arm was wrapped around my abdomen and Ryan's chubby fingers pointed excitedly at the illustrations as I flipped the pages of our book. Tonight's book was an ABC book about construction vehicles. As usual, Ryan prematurely tried to turn every page before I had finished reading all the text. And, as usual, this infuriated Jacob who demanded that every single word be read aloud, even though he knows them all by heart.

As Ryan would try to skip ahead, Jacob would snap the page back down. This made Ryan giggle as Jacob's fury doubled. I started to read in double-time in an effort to appease both parties. Just TRY saying "articulated dump truck" three times fast.

After we read stories, Jacob snuck up to his top bunk. Ryan snuggled with his blanky and settled into the pillow on the bottom bunk. He looked so comfortable. "Ryan, time for night-night. Time to go in your crib."

"Naaaaw." ("No") Ryan whined as he slammed his head back onto the pillow in protest.

I picked Ryan up and started to carry him to his crib when he furiously began pointing back at the bottom bunk. And so Ryan graduated to a new phase in his life in typical growing-pain fashion: with me hesitantly agreeing to let him due Big Boy things as his stubbornness and his eagerness to embrace the life of the Big Boy prevailed.

I worried that he might tumble out of bed in the middle of the night so I put some large pillows down on the floor beside him. I wondered if he would abuse his new freedom and lack of jail bars by slipping from bed the moment I walked out the door. But, brushing these concerns aside, I reluctantly let them go and let Ryan lead me through this whole parenting thing.

There are probably a lot of good parenting books out there (I haven't read any so I don't know) but, you know what? I can't imagine that anyone could be a better teacher than my own children. Because each child is different and he or she gives us little cues about their readiness and ability to do new things and/or their needs for a little more comfort and guidance.

Maybe it's a second child syndrome but from birth Ryan has been pushing forward and leading the effort to help me "let go" of him a little bit at a time. I'd personally prefer that he stay my tiny, chubby, fat-footed munchkin his entire life. But he's telling me just the opposite. He's ready to be a big boy, dang it! and he won't have any of this mushy smothering stuff. He wants to experience the world and try new things and figure things out on his own, thank-you-very-much. So, I let him.

Yesterday he was eating a slice of pizza at the park. He dropped it into the bark. I was about to wipe the bark off when he took a bite of the bark-covered pizza and happily continued to play. He was happy because he was feeding himself. And that bark just added some extra texture, after all. Ryan is so happy-go-lucky (most of the time) and so content to do things on his own, that I let him. It doesn't mean that it is always EASY but luckily Ryan gives me the confidence to know that it is RIGHT.

So yeah. He might fall off out of bed in the middle of the night. If that happens, there will be pillows to catch him. But I have to let go and let my children grow at the pace that they are comfortable with. This doesn't mean I can't appease my broken-mommy heart by purchasing some used bedrails off of Craigslist. I mean, I'm still a MOM after all. And he's my BABY.

My tiny baby in a big boy bed.

Those stickers are Jacob's recent contribution to enhancing the d├ęcor of the room, much to my horror. My dad would have killed me if I put stickers on furniture, even if it was MY furniture. But Jacob was so proud of his artwork that I decided it could stay...for a little proof that I let my children be children...and budding artists. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

High Five for Friday {Quick Recap}

 Linking up with Lauren for High Five for Friday
I have a long list of posts that need to go up...and they will get posted eventually but I decided it would best to do a quick High Five post to let you know what we've been up to. We've had a lot things keeping us busy and with a big merger at work blogging has taken a back burner. Being on the computer is the last thing I want to do in the evenings.  
Here's a short recap:
 1// High Five, Keeler participated in the open class pee-wee showing at the local fair. His friend Neal and him went out together. It was so cute and they both did great. Keeler hasn't stopped talking about it. Three more years and he'll be old enough to join 4H.
2// High Five for partying like a 5 year old!  Keeler's water park party was last Friday. His party was pretty much all family. It was nice to spend the day with everyone.
 3// High Five for the county fair. This year both the little cowboys LOVED the fair. We did the turtle races, ate yummy fair food, rode carnival rides and even participated in the mutton bustin' (video coming soon!).
4// High Five for one more birthday party. Birthday celebrations last an entire week around here! On Keeler's actual birthday {Tuesday} we threw him a little house party. Our neighbors and his best friend from school came over. We had pizza and went swimming.
 5// High Five for FIVE-years-old! This little cowboy melts my heart. I love watching him grow. He has the biggest heart and most inquisitive personality. The kid seriously asks about 1,500 questions daily. It drives us all crazy but I'm so glad he has the desire to learn.

-----and just for the record, this is my first official post in my new glasses.
I finally went to the eye doctor. It was about 8 years overdue. Keeler helped me pick out my frames. We told the lady that I needed a "cool pair." Whatcha think, cool? They're for working on the computer, driving and whenever I need images to be more crisp. I left the office with 20/16 vision - high five!
Have a great weekend. I know we will have another fun-filled one because the Smith family is headed up for the weekend!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Caribbean-Inspired Chicken BBQ

There are a couple perks to getting up at 5am to work out at the gym. Ironically, it has to do with food. The gym is the only place where I get to watch my two favorite cable channels: the Food Network and HGTV. Watching those shows are a huge treat for me. This makes it a tiny, tiny bit easier to force my butt out of bed in the early hours of the day (even after just 5 hours of sleep).

On Monday morning, I was watching Bobby Flay on the Food Network. He was doing a show on Caribbean grilling, which was an awesome coincidence. We had just purchased a new grill and I was itching to use it. I really wanted a yummy grilled chicken recipe but, because we are very low on funds right now, I had to find a recipe that utilized groceries I already had in the house. Perfectly enough, I had everything on hand to make this amazing chicken recipe-- even the very odd and unusual special ingredient: tamarind paste.

I LOVE cultural and ethnic food adventures and I love to try to make things from scratch. You will often find unusual things in my pantry. I have semolina flour left over from the times I made homemade pasta (amazing!). I have garbanzo bean flour left over from some Indian recipe I tried long ago. I have saffron. I have capers. I have mirin. Sake. All kinds of things.

And... lucky, lucky, I have tamarind paste. One of my favorite Indian recipes is tamarind chicken. Tamarind is such an amazingly tart flavor. It's so unique. But I never knew what else to do with it. So, it's been sitting in my cupboard, just waiting for a creative moment.

Well, thank you Bobby Flay! He featured this amazing (seriously, amazing!) BBQ chicken recipe on his show. The key is definitely in the secret sauce. It mixed the tartness of tamarind with the tang of orange juice. The sauce is incredible! He used it for dipping chicken wings, but because I always have some Costco chicken breasts on hand, I used those instead.

This is my version of his recipe....this is seriously a man pleaser!

Caribbean-Inspired Chicken BBQ

Chicken Breasts:
  • Two large chicken breasts, pounded flat into uniform thickness between two pieces of parchment paper
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons ground chili pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
The Secret Sauce:
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup tamarind concentrate/paste (purchase at an Asian food store or online)
  • 1-inch piece ginger, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1. After pounding the chicken flat (you can also use wings as Bobby did), brush the chicken with canola oil. Combine the spices and coat the chicken generously on both sides.

2. Grill the chicken on both sides. (Even the spice-rubbed chicken is amazing on its own!).

3. Combine all sauce ingredients except the vinegar in a small saucepan. Add 1/2 cup of water. Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer until it thickens up (about 15 mins).
Remove from heat and take out the ginger slices. Whisk in the vinegar and keep warm.

Serve the chicken with the sauce poured on top or on the side for dipping.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Trying to "Make Time" Is Awfully Similar To A Ponzi Scheme

Lately my days have been going by so fast that I have absolutely no idea where my time goes. It's like my days have a gigantic hole in their pocket and time just mysteriously seeps out. This is true while I'm sitting in my desk at the office (What? It's three o'clock and I've spent all day at my desk, how come my to-do list is only 1/4 of the way done and I can only account for 3 billable hours...ok, who stole my billable hours?!). It is equally true on the days I work from my mom's basement.

I come by with the kids, sneak down to the basement to work, and before I know it, it's 5:30 p.m., time to whisk the kids home to prepare dinner. I always look forward to my days at home and imagine that I will have so much extra time (saved from not commuting as much) to spend with my two handsome boys. Lately, I've been feeling as if I don't see enough of them and it's starting to get me down. A lot. But somehow, by the time I pack them into the car, drive 40 minutes home, prepare dinner, and we finally eat together as a familt at 8 p.m., it's time for them to go to bed already and I've spent my entire evening doing chores, dinner, and catching up that I've hardly spent any time with them. Well, not quality time anyway.

I keep wringing my hands in frustration. This "working from home" business was supposed to give me more time with my kids. So far, it just gives me more time to do chores and run a household. But when I'm actually at home, as opposed to at the office all day, I can't escape the chores. I have no excuse for not doing them. Instead of making my kids pull the least dirty clothing from the dirty laundry basket as I might have done a time or two out of desperation before I worked from home, I now feel compelled to actually do the laundry so that my kids don't smell or look like that dirty kid from Peanuts.

Today, I let the kids stay up 30 minutes late so that we could read stories and play ball out in the yard. I enjoyed them so much! Jacob has become so great at inventing games and creating complex make-believe plots. He wore two gold stickers with the letter "J" on his forehead all day today, proclaiming that he was the newest Power Ranger.

I know for a fact that I put a lot of responsibility on Jacob, purely out of necessity due to my lack of time. We have such high expectations for him every morning and every night as we rely on him to help us get out the door or ready for the next day. Sometimes I feel bad about that and hope that I'm not forcing him to grow up too soon. He's only four but we expect him to help pack the diaper bag, help make his own breakfast, etc. He even washed all the silverware in the sink after dinner tonight (no dishwasher) AFTER clearing the table. I swear that kid is four going on seven. And then, just in time to remind me that he has no problem being a kid, he will do something like bend over, place his hand on each butt cheek, and pretend to talk out of his butt.

As we played ball outside, Ryan showed off his kicking skills and was content to run around the periphery of my ballgame with Jacob. As long as we included him occassionally by chasing and throwing the ball at him, he was a happy camper. He joined us in a game of catch, proving his hand-eye coordination to be far better than I could ever hope mine to be!

We also played with some toy animals. Ryan only knows two animal sounds: the panting that a dog makes and roaring. He thinks everything roars and it absolutely cracks me up, especially when he will pick up a giraffe or cat or horse and "RAAAAAAWR!" His roars aren't normal roars either, they are old smoker, hacking up a lung type of roars. Also, he just got into this lovely habit of giggling uncontrollably after he farts. When he sees that we are giggling back at him, he purposefully tries to fart some more. Unfortunately, this happens at the dinner table. Ahh... such a boy! I love that kid so incredibly much.

So, tonight, while BBQing a coconut spiced marinated pork loin (thanks Bobby Flay!), I "made" some special time with my two little men. That time, of course, had to be taken away from other necessary things. Poor sticky, smelly Ryan got a baby wipe "sponge" bath two minutes before bed. Jacob had to sleep on his mattress without bedsheet (but with the plastic protective sheet) because I never found the time to do laundry...yes, he peed the bed, again!

Someday, I will have all the time in the world to do laundry and make beds. If my kids ever look back on their childhood and wonder why they had to learn the laundry "smell" test at age four or wonder why they so frequently got to camp on the floor because mommy never had time to wash their pee-covered bedsheets, I'll just lay it out in black and white: "Kids, I had to chose which way I was going to permanently damage you which would necessitate your years and years of therapy. The choice was to ruin you from never giving you attention, or ruin you from forcing you to live unsanitary lives. Clearly, I chose the latter and, yes, you are welcome."

Maybe I should start setting up some funds now. You know, to pay for therapy for their future hoarding habits and sofa cushion eating disorders.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Keeler's FIVE!

Happy Birthday Keeler Carl!  How is it even possible that 5 years has passed since I first held you in my arms?  How is even possible that 5 years have passed since you changed our world in ways that I never dreamed possible.  You made me a mommy.  You gave me the best title and job I could ever have.  Watching you grow and thrive over the past 5 years has been nothing short of amazing.  I truly know the meaning behind pride.  You fill my heart with pride, just being you.  You are so sweet, so kind, so silly and of course so handsome.  You are such a boy now but you'll always be my baby.  
 We attemtped 5 year pictures but this about as good as it gets.  You're just so busy... being you!
 You are the best big brother. 
 We had so much fun celebrating YOU over the past few days.  
Love you Keeler - even more than cupcakes!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Happiness Amidst A Shitstorm

I'm stuck in a weird place right now. There are so many things that I should be happy about and yet I find myself obsessing over all the negative things. It boils down to the fact that I'm extremely frustrated about my work and life situation. It's all a jumbled mess with no easy solution. 

Where I live, there are absolutely no jobs in the type of law that I practice (or any jobs at all). I cannot change where I live because our mortgage is 40% underwater. Our 950 sq. ft. house is too tiny for our family of four but we can't afford the remodel that we have planned. My commute is horrible (because I cannot work where I live, see above). I can't change careers because I sunk way too much money in my ridiculously expensive education. Even if I could change careers (I seriously think about it every day), I am not qualified to do anything outside of law except for entry level jobs (I've looked!). I make up for my long commute by not working full time. But... you know... less work equals money. It's a perfect storm of shit.

BUT, I'm a naturally optimistic person and I truly believe everything works out in the end. While these things bother me from time to time, I don't fear them. I'm ever hopeful and strong and my outward happiness is genuine despite this perfect storm. While these worries and frustrations surface often, I acknowledge my frustration, let myself vent, and then move on. I just keep telling myself that, while my life would be easier if things were different, I have the capacity for complete happiness right now, just the way things are. External things and situations don't bring us happiness. And even though I'm frustrated and things bring me down, I'm still Happy. You know, Happy with the capital "H." This isn't obtained through objects, or money, or even from having everything you think you need. It's something you create from whatever you do have.

And, in that regard, I have just enough. 

For starters, I have these:

And this guy:

I live in the Pacific Northwest--one of the most beautiful places on earth:
I have awesome friends to enjoy things with...for example, chartered boats, adult beverages, and mediocre booty dancing skills:

Yep, I'M steering this whole Happiness business.

If you spend your life being miserable about things that cannot (for the time being) be changed, you will be miserable forever.

And that's my philosophically cheesy post of the week.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Our Little Firecracker

     We'd like to start this post off with a big "Thank You" to everyone!  The care packages, cards, and prayers have all blessed us right when we needed them most!  We do have a few new prayer requests: 
  • Savannah's belly is measuring a bit small, and while it's not an issue now, if she continues to measure small it would be something to worry about.
  • I have my glucose test on Friday, please pray that all goes well. (We don't want to have to go back for the 3 hour version!)
  • Please continue to pray for Daddy and Mommy's strength as parts of this journey get tougher and tougher.
  • And finally, please pray that God would help us get everything in order as we prepare for the birth of our Sweet Savannah.

•   •   •

     We started this week off with our first family trip to the zoo! This trip was extra special because, even though we live only five minutes away from the zoo, Josh and I have NEVER gone together! We set off to have another first with Savannah.  

     We got to see the giraffes up close, and Savannah even got to feed them a wheat cracker. Savannah also got to feed the birds, and pet some pygmy goats! Right after lunch we took Savannah on the little train that circles the zoo.

     There were so many beautiful animals, too many to list, but some of Savannah's favorites were the tamarin monkeys, turtles, and ostriches.  Daddy's favorite was the anteater. He said it looked like a walking mullet, "Business up front, party in the back!"... He is too funny!  My favorite was Errol the owl, he has the sweetest face! I just wish I could take him home. 

     We ended up getting poured on at the end of our trip, but we weren't too wet to stop in the gift shop.  We found a sticker that was just perfect for our sweet little girl. 

     This week we also celebrated Independence Day! Daddy came home with two patriotic bouquets; one for Mommy, and one for Savannah! 

     Every year our local riverfront park puts on a concert and fireworks show, and this year we decided to come early and enjoy a picnic dinner before the show started.  We enjoyed Savannah's first picnic with sub sandwiches, fruit, and a very patriotic dessert! 

     We played mancala and listened to the orchestra as we waited for the fireworks to go off.  Savannah must have either been really scared or loved the fireworks because she was wiggling all over the place.  This was one of the tougher celebrations for Josh and I. We found ourselves thinking about the future and the possibility that this was the only time that Savannah would ever experience this event.  All the while feeling blessed that we were able to spend 4th of July with our little firecracker! 

     Josh surprised Savannah (and me) when he told us to get ready for our first Daddy Daughter Date.  He had a whole night planned out that was full of surprises. The first surprise of the night was bowling! Daddy barely beat Savannah the first round, but then completely lost the second game. Savannah loved cheering Daddy on with lots of kicks!  

     After working up our appetite, Josh took us to Carrabba's. Savannah was going to order off of the kids menu, but that wouldn't be quite enough for me.  After dinner Daddy had a special surprise in store when he took us to Redberry Frozen Yogurt. Savannah topped her froyo with caramel sauce and lots of rainbow sprinkles.

     While sitting at the little table, Josh pulled out a present for his baby girl. (Mommy helped Savannah open it) Wrapped in green and pink tissue paper was a special little book, "Vader's Little Princess".  Daddy even wrote something special to Savannah on the inside cover. 

     The last surprise of the night was a walk over to the movie theatre to see Despicable Me 2 in 3D! Savannah loved the movie and was moving the whole time. We finished the night with Daddy tucking Savannah in, giving her lots of kisses, and reading her new book to her. 

"Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart"
Psalm 27:14