November 28, 2012

Wonder Woman with a 5 Month Old

Today I woke up with the energy of 100 moms. I dusted and cleaned the apartment, did two loads of laundry, a ton of dishes, cooked a wonderful dinner, took care of my baby boy, and baked cookies. I do not know what gives me these bursts of energy every few weeks or so, but when those days come I ride the wave as hard as I can. I felt more productive today than I have in so long, and for me, those are the days where I feel like I can honestly say, 'I love being a stay-at-home mom!' It's hard work every day, but most days Emmett and I fight over whether or not he's going to go down for a nap (when he's obviously over-tired and just being stubborn), I am lucky if I can make the bed and put together a simple meal, and I sometimes forget to shower or brush my teeth or change out of my pj's until I realize my husband is coming home from work and will likely be frightened by my appearance (I assure you that he usually is just kind to me, as he knows those are the hard days, but I usually picture him coming home to see me and doing the Home Alone scream).

Today was my favorite kind of day.

Emmett is a wonderful boy, but he's very hands-on and can't really self-entertain or self-soothe yet. While part of this might be his personality since he's very interactive, I think this also might have something to do with his reflux issues. When we first brought him home from the hospital, he'd need someone to rock with him and hold him 24/7 those first few weeks for comfort because of his spit-up and horrible fussiness/colic. Since then, we have also been co-sleeping (or at least having him sleep in a rocking crib in our room) for the most part because he wakes up every 45 minutes or so with gas pains and it's really startling and upsetting to him when he wakes up alone in his room and we're not there.Trust me, I'm SO ready to transition him to full nights in the crib and helping to encourage self-soothing, but I'm just wanting him to get a little bit more straightened out with his pain before I submit him to this.

So on those days when he is cooperative and not experiencing a ton of gas/reflux and actually naps for decent amounts of time, I feel so grateful to get caught up on housework, cook real meals, pay bills, and maybe, just maybe, take some time for myself to do something really fun!

As I shared with you here, I'm not the best cook, and while I'm really trying to grow in my cooking skills, baking is something I've loved for quite a while. When I discovered how rhythmic and regimented baking can be, I kind of fell in love. It's the perfect thing for me to do when I need to relax, because it gives me structure, helps me to take my mind of off other things, and helps me enjoy seeing a process through from start to finish. It's something I do when I need to be soothed or just want to enjoy some quiet time to myself.

Tonight I made Pillsbury's Peanut Blossom cookies and they turned out AWESOME. I was a little apprehensive of their shape when they came out of the oven because I pictured perfectly round little mounds, but they still tasted very scrumptious and were a hit in our household this evening. To top it all off, I had a small glass of milk and a steaming cup of hot cocoa (it was a night for both!), and we all sat around and chatted while Emmett actually slept! Hooray. A successful and enjoyable day all around. 

Cookies, a Christmas tree, and a leftover Halloween pumpkin ;)

My favorite moment of the day- Emmett meeting his first Christmas tree!

Do you ever have those days where you feel like you can accomplish just about anything? What do you choose to do when it's 'play time' after a day of hard work?

What I'm thankful for these past two days:

November 26
-catching up on sleep
-a long walk with my little family
-a visit with Neil's Grandma Opal
-watching Emmett play with Miss Annie (Opal's chihuahua)
-working as a team with my hubby!

November 27
-a productive day at home
-a sleepy boy who lets me have a productive day ;)
-the family's main Christmas tree going up!
-a delicious meal that I could feel proud of (and everyone loved!)- lemon pepper chicken, oven baked potatoes and baked sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, steamed spinach and salad
-yummy cookies fresh out of the oven
-a sweet text message from one of my best friends
-getting to hear endearing stories about my husband's family

Oh, and p.s. Emmett is 5 months old today! I'll hopefully take a few 5-month pics to post sometime this week so you can all see how big he is getting.

Love and Hershey kisses,
Mama Bird

November 25, 2012

November is nearing its end...

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, Friends!

You all are so wonderful to have had grace with me over the past week or so. Hope you can understand the need I've had for the radio silence-- we're turning a corner on a new formula (Nutramigen) and finally getting Emmett to sleep more, I've been visiting with family for the Thanksgiving holiday, and I've been doing a lot of self-reflection (that needed to happen not on the blog).

This afternoon (on our train ride back from Philly to Virginia) was the first time I had in several days to sit down, relax, and write out my gratitude lists for the past several days in November. As these days and nights have blended together, I'm going to compile everything I've been grateful for these past several days into one list. So without further ado, I'm so thankful for:  

-being able to support my hubby in job and feel his great support for me in my job of being a stay at home mama
-Emmett learning how to splash in the bathtub and give ‘kisses’ (opening his mouth soo wide and trying to smooch your face)
-getting reconnected with old friends and making relationships with new friends in this season in my life (especially other mamas who have sent me encouraging messages, care packages, formula coupons, and just overall made me feel like Emmett and I are so loved!)
-a few of the happiest and healthiest days for Emmett in a really long time (hopefully turning that corner with his reflux!)
-getting to talk to my Poppy and Grandmom and wish Poppy a happy 80th birthday last week. I am so incredibly grateful to be blessed by the presence and health of both sets of grandparents in my life. 
-the colors of fall and the chill of morning early after sunrise
-all of the wonderfully gracious people around us on the train ride to Philly who fawned over E and told us how good of a baby he was (even when he screamed and fussed); the little girl in our car who said with such enthusiasm, ‘I like your baby!’
-everything about Thanksgiving day... getting to watch the Macy’s parade with my family while sitting around in pj’s and smelling the aromas of my mom’s amazing holiday meal (one of my favorite traditions), getting to watch my family interact with my son (especially my brother who just met E for the first time this weekend!), welcoming the Christmas season with open arms, a wonderful meal and a great time with loved ones, reflecting on our blessings from this year. Also thankful for my mom’s sweet-potato casserole, cran-apple bake and pineapple stuffing. Yum yum yum. 
-spending an afternoon in one of my favorite towns in South Jersey (Collingswood) with my sister, husband, son, and one of my very best friends (Char). Perusing thrift and vintage stores for some great finds (we were on a mission for vintage ornaments and had great success!), watching the main street transform into a holiday wonderland, sipping on a delicious chai tea latte while pushing E’s stroller at nightfall, and chatting with some really friendly shopowners that made me and Neil want to open a vintage shop of our own one day :)
-time with best friends Char and Claire over wine and more laughter than I've had in a really long time! So so so good to see them after months apart.
-those days spent lounging around the house in sweats, snacking, watching movies, and relishing in time with my family
-looking through childhood pictures and memories with my husband
-wonderful conversations with my mom and Aunt Diane
-pumpkin muffins! (one last treat of the Thanksgiving weekend to send us on our way)
-new goals for how to take care of myself in returning to VA 

Some pictures from our visit home:
Thanksgiving morning with my siblings
My sissy Lindsey and my Grandmom with the 'Blessings Jar' (one of our family traditions)
Thanksgiving dinner!
My sweet Poppy picking out his autumnal treats!
That is Emmett's hand. The inside says 'Happy Thanksgiving!' I wanted to watercolor the hand-turkey but didn't have time.
On the main street that we explored in Collingswood, NJ
Sleeping while shopping
Relaxing in a cupcake shop
Linds treated us all to mini cupcakes
Meeting Aunt Char ;)
With Claire and Char, two of my lifelong friends :)

I liked my challenge for the month of November to post every day, and to keep daily gratitude lists. Of course there's a little disappointment on my end since I skipped a few beats in my posts, but I'm also really proud of the fact that I see 12 posts for this month (and November still has a few days yet to come!) which is a lot more than I'd been able to commit to previously. I'm going to brainstorm over the next few days for a new challenge in December to continue to grow as a blogger, and I want to be specific but have a little bit less pressure on myself. A few ideas so far:

-incorporate more pictures
-create a weekly series (holiday crafts? new recipes I'm trying? 'Mama Moments?' I'm open to suggestions here...)
-work on my blog's design to make it a little bit more unique and interesting (I have some inspiration gathered already on pinterest, and a willing best friend who agreed to help me work on a logo) :)
-include a few guest posts from fellow blogging (and non-blogging!) friends (and in turn, offer to guest blog for those who do blog!)

Anything you'd like to see more of? Any suggestions for how you would like to challenge me this coming month? Maybe it could even be something non-blogging related like those gratitude lists that we can do together (Claire!). Let me know what you think friends, as November is nearing its end, and I'm very ready for a new month (in so many ways).

I'm thankful for you, dear one!
Mama Bird

November 17, 2012

Thankful for weekends!

These past few days have been very full. Emmett started showing signs of an intolerance to the new formula so he's been pretty fussy the last couple of days. We're now trying the Nutramegen which is actually for babies with a cow's milk protein allergy (which Emmett has), and we're holding our breath and saying prayers that this might work. We also have had a busy week with family, as one of Neil's extended family members passed away suddenly in a car accident. Lift his family up in prayers if you think of it.

Though I'd love to write a longer post, I'm just going to share what I'm grateful for and head to bed since the little one is asleep and I am exhausted :) Hopefully a longer one tomorrow.

November 16
-talking to one of my dearest friends about love, city living, relationships and online dating (by the way, did I ever tell you I'm a fan? and for anyone who's ever considered eHarmony, it's a free communication weekend right now!)
-a car ride with my hubby and cracking up at his fake auto-tuned voice (I'm so grateful for laughter on those days when you need it!)
-seeing my son sit on his own for the first time
Baby Einstein and Blues Clues pajamas :)
-time with my sweet boy in a coffee shop to smile, sit in quiet, soak in the jazz music and sip on a seasonal latte
Hello Winter! Are you peeking around the corner?

Mama and Emmett
November 17
-coffee on sleepy Saturday mornings
-a Skype date with our best friends Buddy and Lily. So much laughter always :)
-hot apple cider
-sending my hubby out to get more formula and having him bring back chocolates (Ferrero Rocher, yum yum yum)
-a relaxing Saturday evening

What are you thankful for this weekend?

Love, autumn drinks and chocolates,
Mama Bird

November 15, 2012

Mexican Jumping Bean

One year ago today we found out that our little bird was on his way.

Our first ultra-sound (from the 12 week appt)

And we're so glad that our lives were turned upside down in the best possible way.

We love you Emmett Lee. 

Today I am thankful for:
-Our sweet child and listening to my baby playlist from when I was pregnant and in labor with him (Fleet Foxes, Ingrid Michelson, Feist, Bon Iver, Coldplay, Alexi Murdoch, Explosions in the Sky). How much things have changed since I created that playlist in Beverly last winter :)
-Delicious beef stew and laughter over dinner with my in-laws
-Less than a week until we get to see my family for Thanksgiving
-peppermint hot chocolate and cozy sweaters

November 14, 2012

20 weeks

My dear little bird,

It's hard to believe that you are now 20 weeks old today. Ever since you were born, I've been keeping track of all of the milestones you meet. The day you first smiled back at me. The day you first noticed your reflection in the mirror. That first sweet time you uttered the 'ma' sound and the day you put it together with another 'ma' making my heart melt at the sound of my name said for the first time by my firstborn.

Over the course of the past few weeks, you've learned so much I can hardly keep track of it all. For the first 18 weeks or so, there usually would be one new remarkable thing you'd learned per week. This week and last, your lists are SO long! Some of my favorite things you can do that you've picked up recently:

-hold your bottle and feed yourself for short periods of time
-roll ALL over the place!
-lift that cute little bum in the air and wiggle around like you're trying to crawl. kid you'll be moving soon!
-reach for our cups or mugs when we're drinking. you love when we let you have tiny sips of water!
-you laugh so much when we play peekaboo, or when I say 'You're silly!' or 'Guh-guh-guh' over and over again (you're starting to love repetition)
-follow us around the room with your big blue eyes, and watching the spot someone last was when we leave the room
-smile or look up when we say your name
-sit for a tiny while without help!
-close the book we're reading if you don't want story time (smarty pants!)

 Here are some pictures of you from today, sweet boy.

Love you more than you know,
Mama Bird

P.S. Here are my lists of what I'm grateful for today and yesterday!
November 13
-homemade pizza :)
-catching up on one of my new favorite tv shows (Revenge, since season 1 is on Netflix!)
-the chill in the air that reminds me we're moving into yet another new season

November 14
-getting to talk to two of my best friends on the phone/receiving a sweet text from another/writing back and forth on my blog with two more (I have THE best friends ever)
-two showers in one day (this hasn't happened for as long as I can remember). I feel not only clean, but refreshed from some time to myself (it sounds silly but it's so nice to have time for me!)
-a wonderfully fun and spontaneous evening with my husband
-sweet potato pie

What are you thankful for today?

November 12, 2012

Mama Bird, meet Mama Bear

Let me tell you a little story about how becoming a parent changes you.

I don't think I knew how to stand up for myself before. There have been several occasions where I've tried, and have either felt like I've been yelling my opinion but it's come across as a whisper, or when I've actually been way too aggressive because I didn't know a middle ground (ie: Harmony Showchoir, senior year of high school preparing Suzy Snowflake... Liz, I love you). 

I like to call myself 'Mama Bird' on this blog because birds are, for the most part, relatively calm, cute/majestic, protective and graceful creatures (I'm thinking of swans, maybe?), and because it fits with the name and theme of the rest of the blog. However, this past week, I became 'Mama Bear' (or just a really riled up Mama Bird).

As I shared with you here, we have been on quite an adventure trying to find out what exactly is going on with my sweet little boy and how to help him related to his acid reflux. Yes, we've only been meeting with the specialist for a few weeks, but we've been in and out of the pediatrician's office and have tried so many things for his whole twenty weeks of existence thus far. I'm not trying to say wah wah wah it's been so hard, but it really has been haha. I'm exhausted and I am ready for answers. I want Emmett to be able to thrive, and it's SO stinking hard to watch your child be in pain and to literally not know what to do to help.

So it was a great relief when our pediatrician finally referred us to a G.I. specialist a few weeks ago. I was excited, even though that first appointment was overwhelming. The best part for me, was hearing that we would be in pretty constant communication with the head doctor (our specialist) over an online portal where we can view E's medical records and test results and email back and forth with the medical team working with us. It felt like such a relief knowing that we'd be able to have someone as deeply invested in his health and trying to find a solution as we were.

Well for the following week and a half, as I watched Emmett's symptoms and reactions change upon switching prescriptions and to a new formula, I took careful notes and sent the doctor updates. I also sent him a few questions about things we had not discussed in the office but had come up since then. His answers were, disappointing, to say the least. I received back one to three sentence replies after all of the care and detail I had put into my side of the reports. The 'answers' to my questions were not really answers at all, because I just needed to email back or call for clarification.

I also received a phone call from the dietician that Emmett's test results (from the blood and stool samples) had come back normal, and we were going to keep him on the Alimentum for the next three months for now. Neil and I ordered a case after getting that phone call, and later that night I logged in to the online portal and was able to see that Emmett's test results were actually uploaded. As I clicked into each test I was able to see E's results side-by-side with the 'normal' range. The blood results looked normal, but under the two tests used with his stool samples, I was immediately a bit panicked because both of his results were extremely far outside of the normal range. It was late at night so I knew I wouldn't get an answer from the doctor, but I emailed him anyway to find out what these tests were used for, and if he could help me interpret them. While I waited to hear from him, I had tried reaching out to my pediatrician the next day asking for assistance, and had also googled the test names to see if I could get an indication of what they were used for (bad idea- the google search with health stuff is always a nasty rabbit hole and made me think E had Crohn's disease). Finally, two days later, I received yet another lackluster response with a few sentences just offhandedly mentioning that Emmett's tests indicated a protein allergy and we would need to switch to a specialized brand of formula even more expensive than what he was already on.

At this point, I was really frustrated. I wrote the following email, which is something that I would not have DARED to write even a year ago. But when your child's health is on the line, you have to remember that you are there to be their advocate, and sometimes you have to be tough for them.

Dear Dr. (name omitted),

I'm confused. I received a voicemail over the weekend from the dietician that the two of you had discussed Emmett's test results and were going to have him stay on the Alimentum through December. My husband and I ordered a new case of Alimentum upon hearing that news.

To be honest, your email to me is a little bit frustrating, because I thought when we met last you told me that you wanted me to keep you updated and for us to be in communication about updates in Emmett's health. I feel like I'm really trying hard to communicate how difficult things have been and while I understand that you are busy, I would really like a more detailed explanation other than just a quick email about a protein allergy (ie: what exactly does this mean, how will this impact us, what's the best course of action, etc.). Additionally, you told us last week that you wanted him to eventually move to a less expensive formula (and had mentioned two types of Enfamil formulas). We are living with my in-laws right now on one income and a ton of school debt and we can hardly afford the Alimentum. The Nutramigen is even more expensive from what I could see from my research today and is really not an affordable option, especially if this may not even work and we'd have to switch again in just 72 hours or a few weeks. I'm wondering if we can discuss this tomorrow, preferably over the phone if you have a few minutes, as I'm eager to work with you to find the best solution for Emmett.

Thank you again for your time

I am kind of embarrassed by how harsh some of it is, but at the same time I'm really proud of myself. I got back the BEST response from the specialist, stating in complete detail that Emmett has a cow's milk protein allergy and allergic colitis (as well as an inflamed colon due to the allergy- no fun!). He explained very clearly how this would effect what we're going to do now to treat it, what formula we are going to try instead (since he realized that we needed to take cost into consideration), what to expect as we go through some of these treatments, and he was very encouraging that most infants outgrow this allergy by about 6 months of age. I felt like I finally realized that sometimes, especially when it comes to your child as a mother, it's okay to demand an explanation, or ask for alternative options, or even to be the squeaky wheel if it means you get the answers that you need to help your baby. So maybe I was a little bit of a Mama Bear, and I'll save her for rare occasions, but I'm glad to know that her occasional appearance can help a Mama Bird out.

What I'm thankful for these past few days
November 11
-grocery store dates with my husband
-a relevant sermon at church about trusting the Lord with all I have (even if it's not much!)
-hearing Christmas music on one of the local radio stations on the way home! I love the holiday season and preparing for it early because it puts me in the BEST mood

November 12
-making another awesome dinner! chicken and veggie stirfry with fresh ginger, garlic and soy sauce. yum!
-a fabulous NPR interview with the author of a book that I can't wait to read now
-getting a chance to catch up with my amazing sister-in-law Beth after so long!
-a relaxing evening with our dear friends Trent and Natalie, with wine, cheese, and laughter
-chai tea :)
-this kid right here:

Love to you all,
Mama Bird/Bear

November 10, 2012

Saturday loves

After being up most of the night with Emmett, we had a lazy Saturday around here, all a little bit under the weather. We needed this day of rest! Some other things I am grateful for today (besides the slow and lazy Saturday):

-autumn scented candles burning in our apartment
-Sufjan Stevens
-getting to talk to a few wonderful friends today on the phone, texting and Skype! So so thankful for modern communication!
-some ANSWERS finally from the doctor- I'll share tomorrow in a longer post but we are so happy to just move forward with more clarity in terms of E's health
-dreaming of vacation plans for next summer with our best friends

What are you thankful for today? Also, can you believe that Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away! I don't know about you but this year, and especially the fall, have been flying by!

Sleep well dear ones,

Mama Bird

November 9, 2012

I'm the worst/best!

Well friends, I know (or at least I think I know) what you're thinking. Gosh, Heather, you promised to post every day in November and you're majorly failing already! It's only November 9th and you missed the last two days. You're letting us down! I'm SURE you probably think that I am the worst. OR maybe you're awesome and have more grace for me than I have for myself and understand that my little boy has been having some not so fun stuff going on and we haven't slept a ton these past two weeks and have been waiting for answers from the doctors. SO to combat that negative self-talk of 'I'm the worst' and assuming you all hate me and my blog (haha I sure hope that neither of those statements is true), I'm going to proclaim some positivity and pat myself on the back and tell myself, 'I'm the best!'

Go Heather! You didn't give up! You made three home-cooked meals this week despite your spicy fiasco on Monday. And that meatloaf you made last night was incredible (hubby approved!).

Yes, girl, you rock. You didn't have any meltdowns from the lack of sleep, and you've even showered and gotten ready every day this week, even if you didn't leave the farm (what, guys? it's the little things).

You have been a good friend this week and a great mother to Emmett!

Heath, even though you didn't finish any projects this week, you did get a lot done considering the little amount of time you had to work on them. I'm very proud of you. 

Your body is great. You made another HUMAN and pushed it out of your body just a few months ago and you look fabulous. Stop being so hard on yourself, lady!

Sometimes it's really hard for me to say nice things like this to myself so I am going to be kind instead of feeling embarrassed and awful for not following through and posting these past few days. And I hope when those little sneaky lies start creeping in for you, as I'm sure they sometimes do, (you're the worst!) you can stop those dirty words in their tracks and tell them to go away because YOU ARE THE BEST! Say it with me :)

Here's what I'm thankful for these past few days...
November 7
-reading great poetry and being inspired as a writer
-chatting with a dear friend on her lunch break
-going to bed early and actually feeling refreshed upon waking up!

November 8
-feeling rejuvinated from an (almost!) full night's sleep for the first time in 3 weeks
-6-month baby boy clothes for a dollar and awesome records for 50 cents each at Goodwill (AND hearing Florence twice while shopping there- she always makes my heart happy!)
-making meatloaf for dinner from my mom's recipe and feeling great about it!
-another Mom's Night Out with the moms group I'm part of. I met another friend!
-my husband who is patient with me as I learn and work through lessons on patience, grace, comparison and contentment

November 9 (today)
-making my little boy giggle and having a blast just playing with him all day today
-catching up for a few minutes with one of my best friends- i love looking forward to Fridays for our conversations :)
-hearing my husband read the story of Noah and the ark to us as I rocked Emmett to sleep
-being reminded again of God's promises to bring us through the storms towards light and beauty and growth and rest (I needed to be reminded of that promise right now)

Love yourself today! Like this awesome girl.

Love and affirmations,
Mama Bird

November 6, 2012

Thankful today for...

The right to vote
That my husband and I got to vote together!
That my son said, "mommy" tonight
Girl time with my good friend Natalie
Homemade pumpkin apple ginger soup
Brownies and ice cream (and licking the brownie batter before I clean the bowl)
Going to bed before eleven p.m.

Sorry that this post lacks content but we're exhausted! Emmett had us both up all night last night actually so we're diving for bed. But I wanted to post before bed to keep in the spirit of daily posting this month and so that I could make a short gratitude list for the day.

Goodnight friends!

P.S. Feel free to post your thankful lists for the day below! I love reading them (even if it's just on facebook or over the phone but it's even more fun when we can list together). 

November 5, 2012

Master of the Kitchen

Yesterday I made my husband scrambled eggs for breakfast. He told me they were  'quite possibly the best scrambled eggs' he'd ever had. I felt like a champ and was overjoyed.

Let me give you some background: I used to burn toast. All the time. And somehow would even mess up the easy mac from the box. Ask my friends/roommates in college about the time it took me four hours to make two quiches because I was so confused/frazzled about how to double the recipe and multi-task.

Sarah (my best friend/roommate after college) and Neil were perhaps the worst witnesses to my lack of skills when it came to the kitchen. They would try to cook with me and would have to give me a task to do, "Heather, you chop the vegetables." I would get really overwhelmed for some reason! I'd kind of awkwardly cut up the peppers or onions and then run away. Literally, they'd have to come find me because I would find some 'distraction' that really needed to get done (ie: checking facebook? flossing my teeth? I'm not exaggerating) and drag me back into the kitchen so that I could help with whatever else needed to be done to prepare the meal.

Oh, my friends, I have come a long way. But not THAT far.

After the scrambled eggs compliment yesterday, I felt a little bit more confident and ready to tackle a new recipe I've been eying for about a week. I am a creature of habit at the grocery store and always buy the same 20 items, but during our last trip to the store I picked up a few new things, particularly with a few new recipes in mind.

Tonight, I decided to make a vegan Brazilian rice and beans recipe which is so far outside of my comfort zone for many reasons:

-I'm not vegan and have never tackled a vegan/gluten-free recipe before tonight
-I can't say I've ever worked with cumin before so I really had no idea what I was dealing with
-There are many steps and a lot of waiting involved with this recipe, two things which I'm not that comfortable with because of my intimidation in the kitchen and because I have a four-month old.

Regardless, I boldly decided to go for it. I was SO excited to treat my hubby to something new and fresh since I rotate the same 5-10 meals on a regular basis ;) I even decided to DOUBLE the recipe since I had enough of the ingredients to do so, and I knew we'd love it so much we'd want to have left-overs for lunches or another dinner this week. It was smelling awesome, I was only slightly frazzled/overwhelmed during the process, and the end result looked exactly like the picture.

But, Neil is not the biggest fan of spicy foods. When we go out for Indian or Mexican, Neil always gets the mild version of things. Knowing this, but wanting to venture forth with something new and exciting in the kitchen, I omitted the hot pepper and halved the quantities called for of both the cumin and red pepper flakes. However, somewhere along the way (towards the end, after the spices), I must have made some grave error, because it didn't quite turn out how I had hoped...

We sat down at the dinner table and I nervously looked at Neil, knowing it smelled spicier than he probably would enjoy. We took a few bites. I was POURING with sweat and had to take off my sweatshirt. I kept fanning my face. I looked over at him, sweet Neil, who didn't want to hurt my feelings and kept taking bites of this concoction that for some reason was the SPICIEST thing I've ever eaten. I really don't know what went wrong, but it was way too hot for even me, and I like spicy things. My father-in-law joked with me (he and my mother-in-law were luckily having something else for dinner) and said that his eyes were burning from the spiciness from the other end of the table. Also, I think I put too much cumin in because it tasted like tacos more than anything else.

I really am not sure what exactly went wrong, and though I felt really disappointed for 'ruining' dinner (Neil was not upset at all, and was actually so proud and thankful that I took the time to make this recipe), I now have decided to consider this a success!

-Next time, I'll be really careful with the spices when trying something outside of my normal spice blend (garlic, oregano, salt and pepper).
-My brother-in-law (who also lives with us) LOVES all things spicy and is going to help me not to feel so bad/wasteful by eating the left-overs (hooray!).
-At one point, I would have laughed at you/cried if you told me to even HELP you make this recipe. I am so much braver today!
-I am going to try another new recipe tomorrow to prove to myself that I just have to keep trying. Eventually, after I try dozens of new recipes, I'll feel more confident in my cooking skills I'm sure. Or at least I hope :)

I'm sure I'm not alone.... feel free to share your biggest cooking disaster-turned-lesson, or a recipe you've always been intimidated to try! Maybe we can tackle it together. 

Also, it's November 5th, what are you thankful for today? Today I'm grateful...

for the november sun streaking the sky and pouring in our open-curtained windows
for the long nap of my baby boy
for the acoustic quiet of a friend's music that brings me to a place of peace
for the fresh taste of tomato sprinkled with a few pieces of kosher salt
for the dried lavender gathered in my vase to remind me of the beauty of this place
for the smell of clean laundry as I fold and crease and prepare for a week of work and living and caring for my family
for a love so deep and calming as we reflect on when we found each other and the promise of a life by one another's side
for the clarity with which i move into tomorrow

Love and kitchen lessons to you all, my dear ones,
Mama Bird

November 4, 2012

'Pieces of Lives'

This weekend I've been finding myself walking around the house humming songs from a show I did my freshman year of college called Quilters (particularly the song called 'Pieces of Lives' that this post is named for), belting out the theme from Little Shop of Horrors while doing laundry, and delightfully filled with glee to find Fiddler on the Roof playing on tv this evening.

Most of the people who read this blog are people I know in 'real life' (I believe!), and if you know me in real life you know that I am kind of obsessed with theatre and being creative. There is something so fulfilling deep down to me to sing at the top of my voice or step into a life that is not my own as I work together with a team of people to bring a story to life. When I was a little girl, my next door neighbor/best friend Brooke and I would dream up stories and put together shows in my backyard, directing the other (sometimes less enthusiastic) kids in performing a show for all of our parents. My sissy and I would act out the scene of two indentured servants doing chores as fast as we could so that we could run away and find freedom in an ice cream cone or playing outside (which we weren't allowed to do until we finished the chores!). I was lucky enough to have two creative parents who encouraged my siblings and I to find outlets and extracurriculars that were the best fit for each of us, so I found my heart's content in ballet lessons, playing the flute, and eventually the summer theatre camp through which I've met some of my lifelong friends and gained confidence to pursue theatre long-term.

Even though right now I'm not having adventures auditioning in New York City, or touring around New England with a children's theatre company, or performing in a courtyard in Italy, or actually anything related to theatre (momentarily!), I am finding myself appreciating so much these experiences that I HAVE had and the people who have shaped me into the creative being that I am today.

Today I am grateful for:
-my parents and the rest of my family who supported my dream to study theatre and pursue creative outlets throughout my entire life

-the mentors throughout my life who have believed in me and pushed me and grown me as an artist (Greg, Erica, Katie, Sulz, Joe, Jeff, Norm, Dawn, Laurie, and so many others from Mainstage, Gordon and various other seasons in my life)

-the individuals that I am surrounded by (near and far) who inspire me to keep finding new ways to be creative (the friends who direct showchoirs and children's theatre, and open their own jewelry shops, and bake, and pursue Master degree programs that combine creative expression and therapy, and love graphic design, and are learning to letter-press, and paint sets of shows and movies and theme parks, and tour around the country performing for audiences who value the wonder of live theatre, and come up with the most unique presents and hand-written notes, and take breath-taking pictures, and especially right now, the mamas who show me how to dream and play and breathe and be creative at home)

I'd love to know, what are the memories you have as a child that may have influenced what you are passionate about today? Do you have a creative outlet or passion outside of your job that keeps you going? 

Also, it's November 4th, tell me what you're grateful for today!

Love to you all,
Mama Bird

November- Gratitude and Daily Posting

This month, I want to post every day for a few reasons:

-I want to practice the spirit of gratitude during this month of Thanksgiving by listing at least three things each day that I am thankful for
-I want to stretch myself as a blogger and commit to writing even when I don't feel like my posts are 'perfect' (one of the reasons I don't post as often as I'd like).
-I want to stretch myself as a writer in general, and get more creative with my posts (in addition to my little lists of what I'm thankful for)

SO to start with I'm just going to catch up on the first three days of November with my gratitude lists, but starting tomorrow I want you to hold me to it if you don't see a post a day! Hooray for challenges :)

November 1st
-getting to check in with one of my best friends from home (Claire) who now lives in NYC and getting to hear that she is okay after Hurricane Sandy. And getting to just catch up on life! This always makes me happy :)
-thai food made at home with my love
-Emmett's great report on his upper G.I.

November 2nd
-setting up the desk and 'space just for mama' I've been dreaming about for over a month (since one of my best friends Sarah came to visit and we discussed the necessity of a place carved out just for me and my creativity). I wanted a place in the house that I could drool over recipes and plan meals, work on my business, and most importantly WRITE. I'm trying to get in the habit of setting aside a time every day (for example, from 3-4 pm daily) to spend blogging and dreaming and sketching and planning fun projects and especially writing. Below is a sneak peak before the space is completely decorated/finished (I still have some work to do!)
-the gift of homemade chicken pot pie (my favorite comfort food) made by Charlotte (my mother-in-law)
-finding out that my aunt got the job we've been praying for for months! Congrats Aunt Diane!
-getting to talk to another of my best friends, Char, and having a wonderfully delightful conversation about faith, trusting God, career paths, gratitude and HoneyBooBoo Child.

November 3rd
-catching up on sleep
-healthy snacking (red grapefruit and Trader Joe's quinoa and blackbean tortilla chips)
-the red cups at Starbucks! yessss! Christmas is a'comin!
-a long drive and great talk/prayer with my husband
-this face

Bath time this evening. He may hate me one day for posting this...

So, what have you been thankful for these past few days? Will you join me this month in keeping little lists each day of what you are grateful for? I'd love for you to post yours below!

Happy weekend and daylight savings, my friends. See you again tomorrow!

Mama Bird