Embrace The Positve

IMG_3032A friend of mine from work used to always tell me that once you hit 40 it all goes downhill. It was a funny thing because she told me this days before my 39th birthday. The day after turning 39, I landed myself in the hospital with my first attack of pancreatitis. We laughed about it & joked that I guess I wanted to get a head start. This past birthday I actually did hit the big 40 & for my birthday, I got a surprise party from my husband, a few more gray hairs & another stint in the hospital with another round of pancreatitis. Birthdays have not been kind to me.

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It has been a rough week & a half. The poor diet choices I have made as of lately have finally bit me in the butt & I am back to being on a strict fat restricted diet. Bye Bye cheese cake, farewell peanut butter, ta ta prime rib & I will miss you my old friend beer.

I have been extremely irritable these past couple of weeks with the symptoms leading up to my hospitalization & the hunger since I returned home. To make matters worse with as little as I have been able to eat, I thought the one bonus at least would be that I would lose a few pounds. I gained 2 pounds instead. I have been whiney, sore, tired, hungry & just plain feeling sorry for myself. I haven’t wanted to do much of anything.

Yesterday we went to a birthday party for a dear friend’s daughter. She was turning 8. I watched as everyone indulged on pulled pork & birthday cake. I jealously made a plate of food for my husband & daughter realizing that there was nothing that I could eat. My girlfriend’s husband noticing that I wasn’t eating offered to make me a low fat fish burger. I felt terrible that he was going out of his way for me, but as he was insistent, I gladly accepted. As we stood at the grill, he asked me how it was that I was feeling, I whined on with my woe-is-me story of belly pain & low fat food, I then looked at my friend’s husband & realized that my complaint was ridiculous. You see my friend’s husband has cancer. He has been battling a rare form of it for 6 years now, but if you did not know him you would probably never know it, because unlike me complaining about my ailments, he does not complain. He remains amazingly optimistic in the face of an uncertain future. Whenever I encounter a miserable person in my travels that just seems to hate everything that life has to offer, I usually think about Alex. He has every reason to be mad at the world, but is not. His positive spirit is amazing & even contagious. As I realized this, I told him I had no right to bitch with all he has gone through. He just smiled as he always does and made me my burger. (Which was delicious by the way) Having to give up junk food does not seem quite like such a big deal anymore.

For the rest of the party, I stopped worrying about the cupcakes & just put my focus to what was the most important, the people I was there with.

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Little Miss No-It-All

IMG_2732One of the things that scared me when I found out that we were having a little girl was the fact that she would eventually grow into a teenage girl. I remember my relationship with my mother at that age. It was not a good one. Like most girls my age I thought I knew it all & thought that I was much smarter than my parents. Of course I had all the answers. It wasn’t until I was older & moved out of my parent’s home that I was able to talk with my mother & form a friendship. I fear that as Mai gets older all that sweetness & love that she has for us now & especially for me will fade. I think of this & it makes me want to hold on to every ounce of love and innocence that I can squeeze out of my daughter while she is still young, before she thinks she “knows it all”.

What worries me is recently my two year has become a Miss Know-it-all. What’s even more concerning is sometimes she is right.

Here are some of this week’s arguments between my daughter & me…

On the environment: After coming home from the craft store, Mai asked me to open up a package of pipe cleaners. As she began to play with them, I gathered up the cardboard & wrapper and said I was going to throw it in the trash. My daughter gasped and in an accusing voice exclaimed “Mama, that’s recycling.” She grabbed it from me & ran to the recycle bin. Oops. Mommy’s bad. At least my daughter is conscientious towards the environment.

On geography: Mai & I have geography lessons daily. She knows her US states & we have working on bodies of water now. Every time I show her Lake Michigan she corrects me. “No Mama, that’s not Michigan. This is Michigan.” She of course is pointing to the state. This has so far been a losing battle. We will continue to try to explain this to her every day until the protests stop.

On food: While eating a hamburger the other day. I said to my daughter this burger is so juicy. Mai: “No mama, apples are juicy. Hamburger is nummy.” Me: “Mai hamburgers can be juicy too.” Mai: “No, they not. Apples are juicy.”

On books: Tonight while reading ‘Go Dog Go’ we had a 5 minute argument over what was happening on this page.

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Mai: “Mama, what they doing?” Me: “They are skiing” Mai: “No, they not skiing. They sledding.” Me: “No Mai, those are skis on their feet. Those are calls skis. See? They are skiing.” Mai: “No. NO they not!” They sledding.”

On art: Last week I posted about how we use foam shape cut outs to create and make pictures. We have been playing with them quite a bit. Mai asked me to make her a tractor out of the shapes. Here is what I came up with. IMG_20140706_194403538

Mai took one look at it and shook her head. “No Mama. That not a tractor.” Tractor have big wheels. She quickly removed my wheels & replaced them with her own. IMG_20140706_194438

Alright my little smarty, you got me there. That definitely looks more like a tractor.

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Macaroni & Cheese Bites With Ham

MacNcheeseBites.jpgBeing a working mom, it is hard to be away from my daughter all day. It is a struggle for me to walk out that door every morning. If I am lucky I get to see her wake before I walk out the door. Most evenings I do not return home until almost 6 pm. When I get home from work, I am so excited to see my munchkin. The last thing I want to do is spend all my time worrying about dinner & then getting into our usual battle over her not eating it. It is exhausting. I try to opt for quick kid friendly food during the work week. It is difficult with my daughter’s picky diet. It is honestly a roll of the dice as to whether she will eat or not. Even her old standby foods sometimes fail us, but still I try. I am always trying to re-introduce foods even the ones she hates in hopes that she will learn to like them. One food that she has never liked & has often puzzled me is mac & cheese. What kid doesn’t like mac & cheese? Mine apparently.

My daughter like most toddlers loves bite sized foods. For some reason it is not simply enough to cut the food into small pieces, it must be formed this way from the get go. I am not complaining though, I find the little morsels to be fun to eat as well. Our last experiment was bite sized macaroni & cheese with ham. Would this fool my little food diva into eating it? Let’s find out.

This is a quick & easy one.

Ingredients:

1 box of Velveeta shells & cheese

1 6 oz ham steak thinly diced (about a cup – 1 1/4 cup)

1 egg

Pepper to taste

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400. Prepare the boxed mac & cheese. Mix in the diced ham, stir until ham is evenly distributed. Stir in the egg & add pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture into a greased mini muffin tin filling to the top. Bake for 15 minutes. Use a spoon to slide out the bites.

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Did my bite size treats impress my tough little food critic? Unfortunately this experiment failed me. She took a bite & said, “I don’t like cheese.” & then spit it out. The good news is they were a big hit with my husband. I did get Mai to eat at least an ear of corn on the cob. Back to the drawing board, but for those of you with mac & cheese lovers in your midst, they might enjoy these bites. The battle continues.

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Granola Balls

IMG_2747 I have a sweet tooth problem. Like most women I know, I love chocolate. I would eat it all the time if I could, but alas, not only am I not supposed to eat a lot of sweets, it is not exactly kind on the waistline. One thing that helps me get my chocolate fix & feeds my sweet tooth is granola. I love making it. I make bars, squares or just straight up granola with chocolate in it of course. It is easy to make & my daughter loves helping me too.

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But my favorite of all granola snacks that grace my lunch box are granola balls. There is just enough chocolate to keep me happy, but with no sugar added, I feel less guilty.

Ingredients:

3 cups of quick oats
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup chopped almonds
1 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup of honey
1/4 cup of peanut butter
2 eggs
2 tbsp safflower oil
1 tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup of dark chocolate

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix in honey, oil & vanilla, stirring well. With a fork cut in the peanut butter until mixed well. Add chocolate chips and mix until evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Scoop a spoonful of mixture & roll with your hand into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place on a greased cookie sheet & bake for 15 minutes.

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How Having A Baby Changed My TV Viewing Habits

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It is amazing how truly ignorant you are about the life of a parent before you have kids of your own. How many of us have watched our friends or random strangers with their children and thought “Oh, when I have kids I will never do that.” I know I did. One of my dumbest comments ever was “My whole life isn’t going to change just because I have a kid.” Oh, how I laugh thinking about that now.

“I will still make time for my friends, go out & do things for myself”, I said. Well part of that was true. I do still try to make time for my friends, but Oh how things have changed.

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This is what a Saturday night out with one of my friends looked like before and then after kids. We went from nursing beers to nursing babies. What a difference a year made.

This was just one of many changes in my life. I think one change that you will see in any household after having a child is the presence of cartoons & sing-alongs on the television set. I find myself at work singing the theme song to Little Einsteins, & humming the Hot Dog Dance. The Bubble Guppies & the clan at Mickey Mouse Clubhouse are regular guests in our home.

What I didn’t realize is how much it would affect my television viewing after she went to sleep. Programming that I once found desirable suddenly has become disturbing and offensive to me.

It was not unusual for my husband & me to have weekend long Law & Order marathons. Now I can barely watch an episode without cringing. I already have irrational fears when it comes to my child, so to see a program that centers around crimes that are often committed against children makes me sick to my stomach.

My husband & I were big into Breaking Bad. There was one episode that showed a 6 year old boy getting shot and killed while riding his bike. If you watched the show, I am sure you know the one. The image of it haunted me for days.

It is not just the crime dramas that I can no longer watch. I now find some of my old favorites such as Family Guy to be offensive. I realize many people have this feeling already, but the truth is even with all it’s political incorrectness & crude humor it was one of my favorites. I now have difficulty sitting through a full episode. Is it because I have so closely monitored inappropriate content for my daughter, that I no longer feel that I can watch it? I am not sure. All I know is that I am thankful for re-runs of The Big Bang Theory, because that seems to be the only thing that I find suitable for myself to watch these days, that and Sophia the First.

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