Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Change Will Do You Good

      It appears that I haven't blogged in a while--like almost 3 years.  WHAT? Yeah, well.  In the coming weeks I will have more time to myself, which also means more time to blog. In just less than 3 weeks, my children will be returning to school.  Nathan will be in 3rd grade, and Keira (yes, that once super tiny baby) will be in kindergarten.  I still haven't figured out how and when they got so big.  I will also have more time on my hands because I have decided to leave the field of childcare for the foreseeable future.  Don't get me wrong--it can be a very rewarding job.  However, it is also physically and mentally draining--even more so when you have your own two children, one of whom is special needs.  It's time for a change in my life--time to stop caring exclusively for other people, and time to concentrate on me.
      At the end of the week, I am exhausted and I have nothing left to give. That means my husband and my kids spend the weekend with a tired, grumpy, and often frazzled woman.  I can't say for sure, but I would guess that's not really that much fun.  I do know this--it is *not* fun to be cranky and irritated all the time, yelling at the members of your family for no apparent reason.  I feel guilty about it, but don't really have any coping mechanisms (except Xanax!).  I know my depression and anxiety certainly play a role.
      All that being said, this will not be a year of sitting on my butt eating bonbons or going to the spa.  This will be about making my life healthier.  Obviously there is the physical aspect--I am hoping to find at least one method of exercising that I don't hate.  I need to lose more weight, and I need to move my body.  Of course, none of the exercise helps if I continue to eat junk.  I hope to make more home-cooked, healthy meals for my family.  I might even learn to like a new food!  Also, my mental health is an issue.  I have battled depression and anxiety since high school, but it gets harder to cope each year.  I am hoping to find a therapist who can help me find new ways of battling against negative self-talk, low self-esteem, and anxiety.  The meds I take are only one dimension of achieving better mental health. 
    Another way I intend to use this newly found time is to find something I can be passionate about.  I have no hobbies to speak of, which leads me to watch too much TV and not enough "doing" something.  I used to cross-stitch, but I haven't done that since I was pregnant for Nathan!  Crochet seems interesting. I can see myself volunteering, though I am not sure for what group or cause--seems a little trial and error will be necessary.  I would also love to find a good book club, or a women's spiritual/church group. In turn, these activities should lead to more opportunities for me to be social and meet new people.
    Will these changes be easy?  Will I find a hobby with the first thing I try? Will I find a good therapist (man, I hope so!)?  Will these changes make me happy? Honestly, I have no idea--I have never been on a journey like this.  I do know it will make things less stressful at home. I hope to enjoy my time with Nathan and Keira more, and learn new things with them. Joe and I will also have a chance to better our relationship.  The plan now is to meet for lunch once a month, where we can just eat and talk, and not worry about cooking/cleaning up or cajoling the children into eating.  We get very little time to ourselves as a couple, and I, for one, am looking forward to catching up with my hubby!
    I do hope you will take this journey with me, even if it just means reading my blog.  You don't have to comment, say things on Facebook, or even call or email.  Just knowing I have my friends and family behind me, no matter what, is a source of great joy and inspiration.  Maybe you could even share tales of your own journey.  It's good to be back in the world of blogging.  I hope to not be gone so long next time!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Grits Casserole

I took this dish to an early morning Notre Dame tailgate (aka, Kegs 'n Eggs), where it was surprisingly well-received.  Most people shuddered in disgust at the mere mention of this southern comfort food, but they did say they were willing to try it.  Ddespite being a major part of America's bread basket and major corn grower, grits are not part of the Indiana palate.  In fact, I had to have my mother send me grits to make this because I couldn't find them in the stores there (well, not anything other than instant ones).  This recipe is pretty easy to modify, and I will include some of those modifications at the end.  Hope y'all like it as much as we do!

Grits Casserole
1 cup of grits (cook one cup grits to 4 cups of water)
1 pound bulk breakfast sausage, cooked and drained
1 can cream of celery soup
1/2 cup, each, green pepper and onion, sauteed
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

After grits have cooked, mix all remaining ingredients into the pot of hot grits; stir well to combine. Pour into a greased 2qt. casserole (or 9x13, or 11x14) dish. Bake, covered with foil, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly and set in the middle.

Notes: Turkey sausage or spicy sausage can be used in place of regular breakfast sausage.  Also, I like to use a mix of red and green peppers for more color.  I always use more cheese, but that's a personal preference.  This can be made the day/night before, just be sure you allow extra time for it to heat all the way through.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

So I tried to write this blog post last year and I never did figure out just how to say what I wanted to say.  When I wake in the morning, it will be the 6th year I have been without my dad.  I think of him everyday, even if just for a minute.   Actually, I have tried many times.  I never feel like I can do him or the topic justice.  Certainly there are things he has missed (i.e. meeting his three grandchildren, seeing the first black man (re?) elected president, all the cool technology).  There are also things I am glad he hasn't seen: the Braves' epic meltdown at the end of last season; that college sports are still more important than college education; and the way people who are different than us are still treated as second-class citizens.

Just about this time six years ago, I told my dying father that his line would be carried on--I was pregnant with his first grandchild.  He and my step-mother were the only two people (besides myself and hubby) that knew we were expecting.  Now, it was early enough in my pregnancy that I didn't know if I would make it through the first trimester or not.  Despite my own fear of loss and miscarriage (which clearly, thank heavens, didn't happen) I wanted my dad to know that I was pregnant.  I couldn't be with him the last few days or even hours of his life.  Honestly, I don't think I would have handled it very well. I like to think that I gave him one last gift of joy before he was gone from the earth.
I think about him everyday, most especially when I look at that first grandchild, Nathan.  He likes black jelly beans best of all, like my dad.  He is curious about everything, and wants to know how everything works, like my dad.  I see him everywhere I look: food; baseball; politics; college sports; Charleston, S.C.; human and civil rights; films (most recently Moneyball); family. His spirit is here with me, in my heart, everyday.  Sometimes it lives in Nathan, and now at times in Keira.  But mostly, he is in my heart--telling me to speak up and speak out; to try new things; to be brave.  And in my heart is where he shall stay. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice.


We went to Smith Memorial Playground in Philadelphia this weekend.  If you are local and haven't been, it's worth the drive--even on a Sunday when there is a Beagles home football game.  All in all, we had a nice time--met the cousins and grandpa, played, picnicked and played some more before heading home.  One of the coolest features of this playground is an old-fashioned wooden slide--you know, the ones you ride down on a burlap sack?  Well, Nathan decided he wanted to go down so I walked up the ramp with him, reminding him that I wouldn't be going down the slide with him, but that I would be meeting him at the bottom.  While patiently waiting his turn, two older girls came running up the ramp and pushed past him.  He said, "Hey!  You can't push in front--you have to wait your turn!"  [I am silently cheering because taking turns and waiting is something he has really working on, and he did it just right!]  However, the dad of one (or both, I couldn't tell) hears Nathan doing the right thing and promptly says "you can't tell my girls what to do," INSTEAD of reminding the girls to wait their turns.  WHAT THE !@(#$*Y)#*@Y%!!!  To Nathan's credit, he didn't argue, get physical with the girls or anything.  He looked at me with the saddest eyes and said, "but mom, they aren't following the rules, and I am."  I know, baby.  I wanted to punch that guy in the face so hard that he would be pooping teeth for a week.  I know violence isn't the answer, but really?  My kid has a hard time socially, and when he does the right thing I want to scream it from the mountain tops!  Dang if it doesn't make me mad when adults, especially those lucky enough to be parents, act like children.

While having our picnic yesterday, Nathan grabbed a handful of pretzel sticks and said--I used to hold my crayons like this, but now I know the right way.  Cousin J. says, yeah, I know how to hold pens and pencils and write--it's easy.  Awkward moment--one of Nathan's biggest physical struggles is with writing and with holding tools and utensils properly.  I said, Cousin J., it's not easy for everyone.  After lunch, the kids were running around having "races."  Cousin J. wins the first race, not realizing that Nathan had fallen down.  Next race, Nathan wins and goes back to make sure Cousin J. is okay, to make sure he didn't fall or anything.  There was a bit of a discussion related to competition/winning.  Yeah, it's nice to win, but it's more important that you finish the race/game/task you have started. NICE guys (or gals) finish first. 

I don't expect other people to raise their kids the same way I raise mine.  I wouldn't want someone to tell me the "right" way to raise my kids. Regardless of the hows, whys, and wherefores, we must teach our children to be nice--to each other and to themselves (I still have a bit of a problem with that last part). A friend of mine posted this on Facebook last week.  

4 Tips for Living a Better Life 
Live without pretending.
Love without depending.
Listen without defending
Speak without offending.

Certainly, these 4 ideas won't make for a perfect life, likely not even a great one.  But let's just try for a while to all be honest, caring, sincere and NICE to each other.  If my 5 year-old with social/behavioral issues can do, so can we.  Please be nice to me.  Please be nice to each other.  Please be nice to yourself.





Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bloggy Birthday

Happy birthday to me!  Well, to my blog.  I wasn't sure when I started this blog how long it would last, how often I might contribute, or if anyone would actually read it.  The results aren't that impressive, at least not to me.  I was hoping to meet more people in the blogging world.  One of the main reasons I don't have more followers is that I just learned about linking-up thanks to  Beth and Valerie.  It will still take me a while to make this a blogging habit.  I am pleased, however, that I can be (brutally) honest with myself and with my readers.  I feel no reason to not be authentic, real and human.  That authenticity makes the bitter pill of life a bit easier to swallow, because I know others get a true sense of what is happening in my life.
So, if you are new here, welcome!  If you have made it this far, thanks for reading and I hope you will keep coming back.

Nathan's first birthday--the boy loved his cake, just like his momma!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Liebster Award

So it appears that I have been nominated for a blog award!  How cool is that?  My sweet friend Valerie has nominated me for this, and I am totally blown away.  I mean, I haven't even been blogging that long, and she thinks I am worthy of an award.  Thanks! 


This award is given to up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers.  Liebster is German and means sweetest, kind, lovely, endearing and welcome.
How it Works:
Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
Answer the questions the tagger has set for you, then create 11 questions for the people you tag.
Select up to 11 bloggers and link them to your post.
Go to their page and tell them.
No tag backs, and have fun!

11 Things About Me:

I love to read, especially fiction that is set in the South or at the beach. I also enjoys memoirs and cookbooks!
I have two cats: Pepper (12 yo male) licks/sucks/nurses my husband's ears, but will take mine if hubby isn't around.  Dusty (8yo female) nuzzles/nurses an old blanket of mine.
I really enjoy driving a manual transmission car.  Even my CR-V is a stick shift.
I was a virgin when I got married.
I use only Duke's Mayonnaise--yep, it's a big deal.
I took Latin in high school and in college.  I also have a minor in Classics.
I am pretty low-maintenance: I don't wear make up (unless I need to dress up for something), and I don't use a hair dryer or any other styling aid or implement.  I am a wash-and-go kinda girl.
I hate it when my food touches.  I also hate when other people mix their food together and I have to look at it--makes me queasy.
I hate swimming in lakes. I really don't like walking in all that gooey stuff. I never got my swimming girl scout badge because of this. I also don't eat anything that comes from a lake.
I drank more alcohol before I was 21 than I have since. The thrill of it being illegal was great fun. If I were to have a drink, it would be a mixed drink. I don't do beer, ever. I don't prefer wine.
I can list my class schedules and teachers (in order) from middle school on. Totally bizarre, I know.

My Questions:
1. What is your biggest fear?  Hmm.  I do have fears of things like tall buildings and spiders, but my biggest fear is having my family harmed or maimed in some way.  I don't think I could go on without them.

2.  What is your favorite word? I honestly have no idea! 

3.  Are you a morning person or night person? I'd like to be a night person, but I have these two small children who don't seem to have any concept of time! One of these days I will get to stay up late and sleep in again!

4.  If you could do things over again, would you?  Any aspect of your life.  Yes--I wish I had not been so afraid of rejection that I only applied to "safe" schools for college. Once in college, I wish I had tried more things, been a little edgier, been less depressed, and more curious.

5.  What did you want to be when you grew up? I guess I always wanted to teach, in some form or another.

6.  Nature or nurture? Darn, I have to choose one?  I guess I would have to go with nurture--we could all use a little more love, support and understanding.

7.  What is your favorite movie? My Fair Lady.

8.  If you could change one thing about yourself, would you?  What would it be? Yes--my teeth.

9.  What has blogging done for you? Blogging has allowed me to be honest with, and about, myself.  I write many of the things I am either afraid to say out loud, or that I fear judgement on.  My blog is also a sounding board for me.

10.  What would you like to do when you retire? I would love to walk the beach in the mornings, read or cook during the day, and walk in the surf again in the evening. 

11.  Describe yourself in just one word. Encouraged.

Here are YOUR questions:
  1. What is your proudest moment?
  2. Do you have any hobbies?  Do you wish you did?
  3. Are there things you won't blog about, either for the sake of privacy or the nature of the topic?
  4. How would your define a good (not perfect) day?
  5. Do you have (a) guilty pleasure(s)? 
  6. What do you miss most about your childhood?
  7. What is your favorite meal?  What makes it so special?
  8. Are you obsessed with anything?
  9. What is the worst job you have ever had?
  10. What is your favorite part of being an adult/parent/grown-up?
  11. Where is the farthest place you have ever been?
Here are the nominees:
mailto:Beth@The%20Angel%20Forever--Beth and I met in an online mommies group--we have learned an awful lot about each other these last 5 years!
Danielle@mostdaysiwin-- An amazing writer, cook and mom!
Kim@booknurd69-- fellow bibliophile, mayo connoisseur, and Southern female democrat
Emily@adancinglight-- I haven't known Emily for very long, but she has a special story, and handles things with such grace, and she has 2 very sweet pups


Thanks again, Valerie, for thinking of me!  Have fun and enjoy!












Monday, June 25, 2012

Anniversary Cake

My grandmother used to make pound cakes in multiples, like 5 or 6 in a day.  She would cut them in half, wrap one half and freeze it.  Often she would send at least one of the other halves back to the College of Charleston with my daddy, who was skinny as a rail from running cross-country and track. 

When Joe and I got married one of the best parts of planning was selecting the cake.  I mean, who doesn't love cake?  We found a woman who made a lemon pound cake that was Uh-may-zing!  Let me tell you how special it was.  When I walked into the reception hall, I smelled something wonderful.  It was my cake!  It was excellent that day, and one year later. 

This year we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary.  Instead of buying something or making a standard chocolate cake, I decided to try my hand at a pound cake.  Before I share this recipe, I should note that my sister is queen of the pound cake--why would I bother making one when hers are the best?  Well, being 9 hours apart from each other and all, I didn't think she would be coming up just to bake us a cake!  Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Pearl Pound Cake, from the Sandlapper Cookbook

2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. shortening
1 c. milk
3 c. sugar
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
5 large eggs
1-2 tsp. flavoring

Grease and lightly flour a large tube pan.
Cream butter and shortening well.  Add sugar gradually.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add baking powder to flour, and add alternately with the milk to the creamed mixture.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour, 20 minutes.  Cool in pan. 

Hope y'all enjoy this as much as I do.  Look out, sister, there's a new pound cake maker in this family!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Visit to the Neurologist

Due in part to my child's pediatrician being awesome, we were able to get in with a pediatric neurologist this past week.  Having never been to a neurologist, pediatric or otherwise, I had no idea what to expect.  The four of us spent a little more than 2 hours with the doctor.  Talk about thorough!  We talked about everything from Nathan's slightly early arrival (insignificant) to his aversion to loud noises (significant).  We talked about developmental milestones, injuries, and Nathan's ability to read and spell. A great many things seemed trivial to me, but not the doctor.  Guess that's why he has the initials M.D. right?!

Once we were done getting through the details of Nathan's childhood, the good doctor started his physical evaluations: reflexes, listening to the blood flow up to Nathan's brain, walking heel-to-toe and that sort of thing.  It was truly fascinating to watch the doctor do this--all the while, Nathan was completely complicit and obedient, if not a little distracted at times.

We came home with a lot of new information to digest, as well as some local resources to help us get started with things.  We learned that Nathan's original diagnosis of ADHD is correct--there are just other things mitigating his treatment and responses.  There are, indeed, some neurological (and sensory) deficits.  Mostly Nathan seems to have auditory and tactile issues, which we knew, and he does exhibit some sensory-seeking behaviors.  The doctor also identified hypotonia, both in Nathan's hands and feet.  The hypotonia is causing Nathan difficulty with fine and gross motor activities (no wonder the kid has trouble with his bike, and why he refuses to "write" much of anything).  Perhaps the most notable piece of information is that Nathan seems to exhibit Autism-like tendencies.  This puts him in a category known as ASD, or Autism Spectrum Disorders.  More specifically, he seems to have Aspergers's Syndrome.

The treatments for these things will vary greatly, and only the ADHD is treatable with medications.  As for the hypotonia and Asperger's, the treatments are non-pharmaceutical.  He will need extensive occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) as well as social skills training.  We have lots of reading to do, and lots of therapy to prepare for.  The learning curve will be very steep for a while.  There will still be bumps in the road, but now that we have a map and itinerary, we are set for a great trip!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Consistency is the Key

Two really tough things for me as a parent are consistency and follow-through.  My grandmother once said the hardest thing you will ever have to do as a parent is say NO.  Boy, was she right!  Today we were all supposed to go to a birthday party, depending on whether or not Nathan behaved himself earlier in the day.  From the minute he got up this morning, he fussed, whined, moaned, griped and cried.  About what?  Who knows.  We had repeatedly told him that if he couldn't act better than that, he would be staying home with me.  He was actually fairly calm when Joe and Keira left--it wasn't until he realized where they were going did he start to get upset.  As it turns out, he and I had a nice afternoon.  We played with (little) Legos and his magnetic balls and sticks, both of which he can't play with when Keira is nearby.  I got to putter in the yard for a while which is incredibly therapeutic for me.  He had a dinner of his choice (mini corn dogs and fries) along with Disney's Robin Hood as a movie.  When Keira gets home it will be bath night, and then off to bed with prayers, stories and lullabies.  And all will be right with the world again, as my children turn into heavenly creatures as they sleep.

I hate telling him (or Keira) no--it makes me feel bad.  However, I know that I am doing the right thing: I set boundaries and established rules, and I follow through with the appropriate consequences.  It's true--children do thrive when there is stability and constancy, both in their daily routines and in the world around them.  For a child like Nathan, who doesn't tolerate change well, it is even more critical.  So while I may feel lousy for saying "No" I know that I am doing the best for my child, and for me.  And that's all that matters.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nilla Wafers Banana Pudding

I figured after the last several posts, we could all use a little cheering up.  Nothing does it for me quite like comfort food.  This is another one of those southern staples that so many have tried to re-create.  Try as they may, they ALL fail miserably!  I grew up eating this delectable concoction all through the year, not just picnic season. I hope you will enjoy it as well!

3/4 cup sugar
2 T. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs, separated
2 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla
box of vanilla wafers
6 medium bananas, sliced

Combine 1/2 cup sugar, flour, and salt in top of double boiler; stir in milk.  Cook over boiling water, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Cook uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Beat egg yolks, adding slowly to the hot mixture.  Return to double boiler and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, and add vanilla.  Line the bottom of a 1 1/2 quart (or 9x13) with cookies.  Top with bananas and custard.  Continue layers, ending with custard on top.  Beat egg whites stiff, not dry.  Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Pile on casserole.  Bake at 425 for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Serve warm or chilled.

Hope y'all enjoy this as much as I do. Let me know if you like it.  No other banana pudding-wannabes will be accepted after you eat this--I promise!