Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hindsight is 20/20

My oldest daughter is 11 and she has always been rather mature for her age.  Sometimes, I say she has an old soul, meaning she is wise and mature beyond her years.  Sometimes, I also say that she is 11 going on 21.  (In fact, she is actually closer to the age of 21 than I am.  Take a minute to swallow that pill.)

The truth is, I get it.  I really do.  She is a lot like me and, when I was younger, I could not wait to grow up.  I was so anxious to leave the small town where I grew up, spread my wings, and assert my independence.  I envisioned this carefree life with lots of friends, lots of freedom, and lots of fun doing whatever I wanted to do.

But, you know what??  Being a grown up, isn't all it's cracked up to be!  Now, don't get me wrong - I know that I am blessed and I love my life (most of the time), but it is nothing like what I expected.  I wish that, for just one day, my daughter could see life through my eyes; feel things the way I feel things.  Actually, it would probably be great if I could go back in time and have my 15 year old self do the same thing.

Here are just a two of the biggest surprises that were awaiting me in adulthood:

Responsibility - Sure, I knew my parents had jobs and I knew we weren't monetarily rich, but we had everything we needed and then some, so I never really gave it much thought.  Now, I do.  Jobs, commitments, finances, and providing for my family (along with my husband) is a HUGE responsibility.  Financially, we are far better off than many people.  Just like when I was growing up, we are supremely blessed.  This I know for sure and I try not to take it for granted, ever.  But, we still cannot afford to do everything we want to do.  We have to prioritize, and plan, and budget and, sometimes, say "No."  We have to make sure there is food on the table, clothes on our backs, and that the bills are all paid.  When I was younger, I'm not sure where I thought I was going to get the money for all the things I wanted to do.  I knew I would need a job, but I never gave the finances much thought.  As an adult, it is something I have to think about daily.

Every day, my to-do list seems to get longer and longer.  We have a house and a car that need to be maintained.  We have errands to run, jobs to go to, meetings to attend, and people to take care of (including ourselves).  It is truly never-ending.  And, it can be exhausting.  

Responsibility goes far beyond money and chores, though.   I have three kids.  Along with my husband, I am responsible for their safety, their education, their health.  I am responsible for teaching them morals and ethics.  I am responsible for disciplining them and for enriching them.  It is up to us to nurture them and turn them into good, productive members of society.  There is NO responsibility in the world that can compare to or prepare you for parenthood.  None.

Love - I love my parents and my only brother.  This is, of course, very different, though, from the love I feel for my husband.  I never dated much before my husband and can't say that I have ever been "in love" with anyone else.  I met him when I was 19.  It was not love at first sight, but it is a love that has grown and deepened immensely over the years.  We've been married for the past 15 years and I absolutely cannot imagine my life without him.  It is a love that I cherish, but one that I was never able to fathom when I was younger.   

As the rhyme goes, first comes love, then comes marriage. . . .   Then comes motherhood.  I always knew I wanted to be a mom.  Always.  When I was younger, though, I didn't know this:

No matter what kind of childhood you had; no matter how much your parents loved you; no  matter how snuggly and affectionate they were, there is simply  no way to describe the love you will feel for your own child(ren).

It's kind of like this.  Imagine the best food you ever ate.  Maybe it's a cheeseburger, or pizza, or cheesecake, or apple pie.  Whatever it is - picture it; taste it.  Now describe that to someone else.  Can you do it?  Can you describe it in a way that makes them salivate as they can all but taste it on the tip of their tongue?  My guess is no.  No matter how hard you try, it is impossible to make them truly understand the experience.  Even if you use the most beautiful, eloquent, and descriptive words, they will not be able to actually taste the food you describe.  

As a parent, the love you feel for your child(ren) is powerful and all encompassing.  It is stronger than anything you can imagine and, therefore, there is simply no way to describe it in a way that allows someone else who has not experienced it to fully understand it.  I certainly didn't.

Although I always wanted to be a mom, I absolutely did not expect how much I could love another human being (or three of them!).  

As a grown up, I have experienced emotions deeper than I ever knew were possible when I was younger.  Some of them are not good, but most of them are wonderful!  None of them were on my list of "what to expect from being a grown up!"  I suppose looking forward to the perceived freedom of being an adult is natural, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20.   I hope my daughters will take time to soak in their childhoods.  I hope they will have at least some appreciation for the innocence and carefree nature of their lives at this stage.  I hope they don't wish it away anticipating bigger, better things that may or may not come to them when they grow up.

When they do grow up, I hope they find that David and I have prepared them well for the responsibilities and challenges they will face.  I hope they experience love the way I have experienced love.  And, I hope they always know that our love for them will be there whenever they need it because we will forever be their parents - even when they are all grown up!  

P.S.  Mom and Dad,  I cannot adequately express my appreciation for all you taught me, all you did for me, and how much you loved me when I was younger.  Like most kids, I didn't get it then, but I certainly do now.  I hope I am giving my girls the same - I am definitely trying my best! 

This post is part of Finish The Sentence Friday.  FTSF is hosted by some wonderful blogging ladies.  Please give them a visit and check out all the other blogs that participate as well!

Stephanie at Mommy, for Real
Kristi at Finding Ninee
This week's special guest host is Sarah from Left Brain Buddha!

Janine's Confessions of A Mommyaholic

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What Sports Taught Me About Motherhood

When I was growing up, sports were a big part of my life.  My dad was a coach, my brother played sports, and I played sports.  Year round, there was always someone coaching or playing something.  When I graduated high school, I knew I was not athletically talented enough to play sports in college, so I assumed I was leaving that part of my life behind.  Then, several years later, I became a mom.  I have now realized that there are many sports mantras and concepts that can also be applied to motherhood.

For example, “no pain, no gain” is a phrase associated with athletes suffering through workouts or strenuous training to improve their skills and physical capabilities.  How does it apply to motherhood??  Well, how about pregnancy and labor for starters? Have you ever watched your child walk into elementary school for the first time?  Have you ever dried the tears of your heartbroken tween?  Experiences like these are painful for moms, but necessary as we watch our children grow.

Years ago, Nike popularized the phrase “Just Do It!”  I used that mantra many times when faced with cleaning up diaper blowouts, vomit, or a disastrous playroom!

There is also the aspect of competitiveness.  As moms, we sometimes compete with each other - outwardly or silently - to be better, more creative, more perfect than the others.  We also compete with ourselves to do everything just right.  We are harsh with ourselves when we make mistakes.

Moms spend a lot of energy working on strategy as well.  It begins with planning a birthing strategy.  Then, we must decide on a sleep training strategy, discipline strategies, education strategies, and even scheduling strategies.  Having a good strategy is key to successful motherhood.

Sports require endurance.  So does motherhood.  From the moment you conceive, you are forever a mom - in it for the long haul.  Sometimes, you will want to give up and “throw in the towel,” but that is not an option.

Timeouts are, however, an option - occasionally.  We put our children in timeout in an effort to redirect behavior and, once in a while, we need to give ourselves a timeout, too.  

The sports I played were all team sports and there was a definite sense of camaraderie among teammates.  Mothers have that, too.  If you are lucky, you will find other moms who commiserate with each other and support one another through thick and thin.

Hopefully, teamwork is another sports concept mothers can employ.  My team includes my husband, my parents, my in-laws, and my friends.  Motherhood would be so much harder without them.

I once thought I was leaving my life of athletics behind.  I know now that those years of sports, games, and competition taught me many valuable lessons and concepts that have prepared me for the sport of motherhood.  I may not get the trophy for “Most Valuable Player,” but I hope my team is victorious in the end!  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Perfect Day - Tuesday Ten Linkup

When I first sat down to write this post, I thought about a fantasy perfect day.  You know, the one where I find out I won the lottery while sitting on a beautiful beach sipping a pina colada as the sun glistens off my super model-esque physique.  As I pictured this day in my mind - and it was lovely - I realized there was something missing.  The perfectness of the day just wasn't quite complete.  Why?  Because the fantasy didn't involve my family.  Now, trust me, I could use a day away on a beautiful beach without my kids and/or a pina colada once in a while.  However, I decided to take this post in a slightly more realistic direction.

Now, I assure you , I am not delusional and I realize that the likelihood of ALL these things happening on the same day is pretty much nonexistent.  But, we are supposed to be thinking about a perfect day.   And, if my day went like this, it couldn't be much more perfect!

  • First, I would have to wake up feeling refreshed, well-rested, and happy.  This rarely happens.  For starters, I'm not a morning person.  Plus, I need my sleep and if I don't get a good 8 hours on a regular basis then look out!  Most nights I get a about 6-7 hours.  I usually get up at 5:30am on weekdays and, like I said, mornings and I do not get along.
  • Secondly, my children would have to wake up on their own refreshed, well-rested, and happy.  All three of them have alarms clocks, but honestly I'm not sure why.  I don't think they have ever woken up when their alarm clocks went off.  I have to go around and wake them up myself.  Since I'm not a morning person and they are, obviously, not morning people, this is not a good combination.  I wouldn't know what to do if they all woke up themselves!
  • Third, there would be no arguments over wardrobe.  We have tried picking out clothes the night before and I have mostly given up on them wearing cohesive outfits.  But, it seems everyday at a least one of them complains about something being too small, too itchy, not clean, or too hot. (I swear my kids would wear shorts and tank tops year-round if I let them.)  My youngest doesn't complain too much, but that's because I pretty much dress her like a rag doll each morning and, by the time she is awake enough to care, it's too late to change. (See #2)  Honestly, I should probably include myself in this one, too.  When I get dressed on the perfect day, my clothes would fit just perfectly and be extremely stylish.
  • Fourth, everyone would get out the door calmly and on time.  Nobody would remember something they need to get at the last minute.  There would be no misplaced socks, shoes, or coats.  I would not have to say, "Hurry up" fifty bajillion times.  It would all just flow so smoothly that we might even be early!
  • Fifth, I would have the time and energy to accomplish everything on my to-do list during the day.  No matter what was on the list - laundry, dishes, errands, blogging, phone calls, work stuff, cleaning - it would ALL get done.  If it was really, really perfect, it would all get done with a little time to spare so I could have a few minutes of down time before picking up the kids.  (This might be possible if I combined this perfect day fantasy with my Tuesday Ten Superpowers list from a couple weeks ago!  I could use my cleaning wand and complete tasks with super speed.) 
  •  Sixth, it would be a day of no homework.  No sixth grade math or projects.  No spelling words.  No addition flash cards.  Just a relaxed, carefree afternoon.
  • Seventh, in order for the afternoon to be relaxed and carefree, the weather would need to cooperate.  It would need to be sunny and not too hot or too cold.  The kids could play outside and I could take an afternoon stroll.  Perfect.
  • Eighth, no matter what I prepare for supper, it would turn out to be absolutely delicious and everyone would clean their plates without a single complaint.  (It would also be helpful if the dishes washed themselves, but if everyone actually ate without complaining, I would be on such euphoric high, I probably wouldn't even mind doing them myself!)
  • Ninth, bathtime and bedtime would go smoothly.  For some reason, my kids always whine about taking baths/showers.  I really don't know what they have against being clean.  When bedtime rolls around, they are master stallers.  Even though they are all capable of brushing their teeth and prepping for bed by themselves, I still have to walk them through every. single. step.  What should take about 20 minutes usually ends up taking closer to 45 and, by the end, I am frustrated and exhausted.  Then, when I think it's all finally done and everyone is settled, inevitably someone gets out of bed for a drink of water or a sudden ailment that needs immediate attention.
  • Finally, tenth, everyone needs to sleep soundly and  peacefully through the night so that we can all start over again with #1 the next day! 

So how about you?  What would happen on your perfect day??  Leave a comment or link up!

Your Tuesday Ten hostesses are:

TheLiebersThe Teacher Wife

We hope you have enjoyed our Tuesday Ten Lists!  If so, please link up one of your own and share using #TuesdayTen!
1) Link up a post, old or new, pertaining to the Tuesday Ten topic for this week and add our Tuesday Ten button to the post or to your sidebar.
2) Please do not link up contests, product reviews, or sponsored posts.
3) Visit your hostesses and follow them on social media.
4) Visit as many other linked posts as you can and show those bloggers some love by commenting and/or sharing!

Come link up again next Tuesday, March 4 when the topic will be Your Ten Favorite Foods, Recipes, or go-to family meals in honor of March being National Nutrition Month.


Monday, February 24, 2014

I Love You The Morst

Like most moms, there comes a point in the day when I begin to look forward to bedtime - the kids' and mine. However, like most kids, mine are pretty good at stalling.  I have to remind them of every single step, even though they know exactly what to do.  They seem to suddenly develop strange ailments that need immediate attention even though these ailments have not been bothersome all day.   The stuffed animals must be painstakingly placed in just the right spots.  Of course, their night lights cannot be forgotten.  The bedtime routine is one that I tend to rush them through and we all end up feeling a bit frustrated.

A few months ago, I wrote a post explaining why looking in on my sleeping children before I go to bed is my favorite part of the day.    That's still true.  It's getting to that point that is hard.  When bedtime rolls around, they are tired.  They don't want to be rushed or reprimanded.  But, guess what? I'm tired, too.  I am out of patience and, most nights, I am just trying to get through it.

There are parts of the routine I cherish, though.  I really need to try and focus on those aspects of it - the little parts that bring me joy.

For example, my oldest daughter likes to wear her hair in a braid during the night so it doesn't get tangled.  Now that she is 11, this is one of the few times I am allowed to fix her hair.  As I brush and braid her tresses, we talk about the day or what new book she is reading.  It only takes a couple minutes, but they are our minutes together.  As she gets older, she needs me less and less, but she still needs me to braid her hair.

My middle daughter has never been much of a snuggler.  That's mostly because she is a ball of energy.  She is rarely still and it is difficult to hug a moving target.  She is often the most difficult one to get settled in the evenings, but I always get one good hug at bedtime.  I always make a point of looking in on her before I go to bed, too, because she looks so calm and peaceful in a way that I only see when she is sleeping.

My youngest one I call my "snuggle bug" because she is so loving and sweet.  She has always been very generous with her hugs and kisses.  At night, she is the one who puts her arms around my neck and won't let go or the one who says "Please, mommy!  Just one more hug."  A long time ago, after watching the movie Tangled,  she and I started to the "I love you - I love you more - I love you the most!" game.  One night not too long ago, I got tongue tied and said, "I love you the morst!"  She thought it was funny and that has now become our new bedtime routine.  One of us says, "I love you the morst!" and the other replies "I love you the morst, too!"

There will come a time, I know, when I will miss the chaos of the bedtime routine.  There will come a time when Rachel doesn't need me to braid her hair; when Megan will sleep in a dorm or an apartment and I won't be able to get that last glance of peacefulness; when Emily is embarrassed by "I love you the morst!"  I know.  I do.  When the exhaustion sets in, though, and the patience runs out, I forget to remember and I lose my cool.

I want to cherish these moments.  I really do, but sometimes it's hard.  I'm going to try harder, though.  I'm going to stop forgetting to remember that it won't always be this way.  I'm going to take some deep breaths and stop rushing.  And, I'm always, always going to say "I love you the morst!"

~This post was inspired by Chris, from The Mom Cafe and her guest post on Whoa Susannah~

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Weird Feet

A couple weeks ago, our FTSF hostesses challenged us to do a vlog and I did my first one telling you about my Adam Levine dream.  If you missed it, it's not what you are probably thinking.  You can watch it HERE.  It was the first time I had vlogged and it was pretty uncomfortable, but kind of fun.  It was really fun getting to see and hear some of my other blogger friends that I haven't met in person.

When I saw the topic for this week's Finish The Sentence Friday, My hidden talent is . . . , I knew it was the perfect opportunity to attempt vlogging again.

I alluded to this talent a few weeks ago when I did a combo FTSF and Ask Away Friday post with Dana from Kiss My List.  If you read it there, you will really appreciate seeing it for yourself! :-)

Disclaimer #1:  I never thought this talent was especially strange until I did it in front of my husband many years ago when we were dating.  It completely freaked him out - and it takes a lot to freak him out.  He still won't watch me do it.  So, if it grosses you out - SORRY!

Disclaimer #2: This talent is utterly pointless and useless.  I suppose if I was a dancer or a gymnast it would come in handy, but I am neither of those.

And now, my hidden talent is . . . . . 

Don't say I didn't warn you!!!  Do you have any hidden talents??  

This post is part of Finish The Sentence Friday.  FTSF is hosted by some wonderful blogging ladies.  Please give them a visit and check out all the other blogs that participate as well!

Stephanie at Mommy, for Real
Kristi at Finding Ninee

Janine's Confessions of A Mommyaholic

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Breathe In. Breathe Out.

I don’t like needles. I never have. Anyone who has been pregnant, though, knows that needles are a given part of the process. There are shots and blood draws that occur on a regular basis during those nine months. Each time I was faced with one of these “procedures,”  I warned the nurses that I often got lightheaded and that, once- only once, I had even passed out. Usually, they were sympathetic, although I’m sure they were probably working very hard to stifle their laughter.

About halfway through my second pregnancy, I was again sitting in one of those special, uncomfortable chairs they use when they draw blood. I gave my usual disclaimer and the nurse began the procedure. This time, however, there happened to be another nurse in the room checking the supplies in the cabinet. After overhearing my cautionary statement, she watched from the corner of her eye as the other nurse administered the needle. Then, that second nurse came over to me said something that I will never forget.

“Honey, you have to breathe.”

She said it very calmly and clearly. “You have to breathe.” 

Until then, I had never realized that I was actually holding my breath during these moments of uneasiness, which is, of course, the reason I became so woozy.

Since then, I make a conscious effort to breathe during times when I am nervous or upset. I actually say to myself, “Breathe in. Breathe out.” (Not out loud, of course.) It sounds so basic, doesn’t it? It is surprising how often I have to remind myself to do something that should be so natural. Then again, motherhood is full of apprehensive and unsettling moments.

As I watched my babies take their first steps, I wanted so badly to reach out and catch them every time they fell. I held my breath hoping they would succeed. Breathe in. Breathe out.

As I walked away from their kindergarten classroom doors, I knew they would be okay, but I still cried. Breathe in. Breathe out.

As I let go of the bike, I prayed they didn’t crash. Breathe in. Breathe out.

When I left my oldest in a distant city for an overnight trip and when I dropped her off for her first day of middle school, I had to remember. Breathe in. Breathe out.

When my middle daughter had the courage to step up and play soccer goalie for the first time, I desperately wanted it to go well for her. Breathe in. Breathe out.
When I got the news that my youngest had lost her first tooth while I was out of town, I was heartbroken that I missed it. Breathe in. Breathe out.

As my three daughters get older, I will hold my breath many more times, I know. When they get their first broken hearts, or when they get behind the wheel for the first time, or when they head off to college, or when they walk down the aisle - I will have to remind myself again. Breathe in. Breathe out.

From time to time, I may even have to remind them, too.  I'll say, “Everything will work out. Everything will be alright. Just breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out.”

Motherhood is hard.  Parenting is hard.  It's scary and wonderful and fulfilling and draining all at the same time.  It brings out emotions that we never knew we had and it can make those emotions feel overwhelming sometimes. We get frustrated. We get angry. We feel joy. We feel sadness. We worry.  We swell with pride.  Our hearts overflow with a love that is stronger and deeper than we ever imagined could be possible.

It's intense to say the least.  It can definitely take your breath away. 

Sometimes, all we can do is hold on tightly, hope for the best, and remember to breathe.

Breathe in. Breathe out. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tuesday Ten Linkup - Blogs I Love

Since Valentine's Day has just passed, Rabia and I thought I would be fun to continue spreading a little love for this week's Tuesday Ten by listing some of the blogs we enjoy!  Hopefully, this will be a way for all of us to find some new blogs to follow!


The Liebers
The Liebers - Of course, I have to start off with my lovely Tuesday ten co-host!  I met Rabia through
The Mother Of All Meltdowns since we are both contributors.  I have really enjoyed getting to low her better and partnering up for this linkup has been great.  I also admire that she posts every day Monday-Friday- I seriously don't know how she does it!

Tamara (Like) Camera - Tamara is also a MOAM contributor.  I was somewhat familiar with her vis Twitter/SITS, before we both contributed to the book.  Tamara's photos are simply breathtaking.  She writes very soulfully and with so much emotion.  I am also amazed by the amount of comments she always gets on her posts! :-)

Pink Dryer Lint - Robin is one of my oldest and dearest blogging friends.  We have a lot in common including three daughters and psoriasis.  Robin's posts are always a short burst of inspiration and positivity.  She's also written a book called Then I Became A Mother which is just wonderful!

The Mom Cafe
The Mom Cafe - Chris is such beautiful and spiritually gifted person.  I "met" her through MOAM as well and I'm so glad I did.  Her words always seem to speak right to my soul and she has an uncanny knack for saying just exactly what I need to hear and just exactly the right time.
Left Brain BuddhaI honestly don't remember how I met Sarah -perhaps it was through Finish the Sentence Friday?  Anyway, I love the way Sarah approaches topics from a very intellectual point of view.  Her posts often include research or quotes form books.  I usually feel jus t bait smarter after I've read her posts.  Although very factual, she still coveys emotion in her writing.  Plus, she is one of only a couple blogger friends whom I have actually met in person.  I met her at SITS Bloggy Boot Camp in Minneapolis in October 2013 and she is just as lovely in person!

 The Dose of Reality girls, Lisa and Ashley, are hilarious.  Their "Would You Rather" series keeps readers perplexed and bewildered (in a good way).  Their "Pinterest Nightmares" are horribly wonderful and ridiculous all at the same time!  Believe it or not, they actually live about 90 minutes down I85 from me.  I am determined to join them sometime for one of their "very important blog meetings" at Starbucks!

Finding Ninee - I think I found Kristi through Finish The Sentence Friday, too.  Her blog is a mix of humor, art (her drawings), and beauty.  She writes so eloquently about her son and his atypical, but non-specific special needs.  She writes about her hope and dreams for him in a way that is so touching.  She started a series called Our Land that has brought light to so many different struggles people face.  (I was featured there once!)  She also has a great sense of humor that comes through in her writing.

Kiss My List - I knew I was going to like Dana's blog the instant I read the title.  I'm a list-maker, too!    Dana's blog is a mixture of humor and parenting and DIY and more.  I love it's eclectic nature.  Since I have three daughters, I love when she writes about her relationship with her teenage daughter, too.  We are planning to be roomies at BlogU in June, too!

Writing, Wishing - I had seen Alison's blog here and there, but then I read this post.  I had written a similar post, but was afraid to publish it.  I commented on Allison's post and her encouragement helped me work up the nerve to submit my piece for publication on another site.  It was accepted and ran on Mamalode back in December 2013.  I was so grateful for her kind words that I began following her blog regularly.  I'm so glad I did.  She writes about everything from motherhood to blogging how-to.  

Mommy, for real
Mommy, For Real - I love Stephanie's blog because she is just what she says - real.  She writes about motherhood with humor and honesty and doesn't pull any punches.  She is also a music teacher and occasionally incorporates her musical talents into her blogging, which I love. 

Narrowing ,y list to ten was pretty tough.  So, I'm cheating and also giving a shout out to two more favorites.

Janine's Confessions of A Mommyaholic
Janine is incredible.  She posts every day and is a commenting superhero.  She also runs a blog design business (J9 Designs).  I honestly don't know how she does it all!!  

Crystal is the fearless leader and managing editor of MOAM.  She, too, is amazing.  On top of the book and her blog, she also runs a business to help authors promote their self-published books AND has 5 kids ranging in age from infant to adult! 

Finally, I must add to my list all the bloggers who have linked up with Tuesday Ten, today or in the past.  When Rabia and I teamed decided to take our own individual Tuesday ten and combine them into a linkup party, we weren't sure if it would succeed.  I have visions of 20+ linkers every time.  We're not quite there yet, but we are growing and I sooooooooo appreciate everyone who has supported it by tweeting, sharing, and linking up with us!! You're all the best!!

Your Tuesday Ten hostesses are:

TheLiebersThe Teacher Wife

We hope you have enjoyed our Tuesday Ten Lists!  If so, please link up one of your own and share using #TuesdayTen!
1) Link up a post, old or new, pertaining to the Tuesday Ten topic for this week and add our Tuesday Ten button to the post or to your sidebar.
2) Please do not link up contests, product reviews, or sponsored posts.
3) Visit your hostesses and follow them on social media.
4) Visit as many other linked posts as you can and show those bloggers some love by commenting and/or sharing!

Next TuesdayFebruary 25, the topic is:  Tomorrow is going to be the PERFECT day!  List ten things that must happen!  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday Supper - Crock Pot Ranch Pork Chops

I have seen many different versions of this recipe on Pinterest and around the interwebs.  A couple weeks ago, I was reminded of it as I was searching for something different to do with pork chops.  There are many variations - some use milk instead of water; some use 2 cans of soup.  Below is the version I settled on and they turned out to be pretty tasty.  Plus, it can't get much easier.  Maybe you can add it to your menu this week!

Crock Pot Ranch Pork Chops

4-6 boneless pork tenderloin chops
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 soup can of water (or milk)

Place the chops in the crock pot.  In a bowl, combine the soup, dressing, and water.  Pour over the chops.  Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours.  Voila!

As you can see, these are super easy.  The soup mixture makes a gravy that is great on mashed potatoes, too!  (If your gravy is a little too thin, you can thicken it with a flour/water slurry.)

Let me know if you give these a try!  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I'm Guilty

I'm guilty.

I'm guilty of letting my kids watch too much TV because I don't want to disturb the quiet peacefulness of the moment.

I'm guilty of letting them eat junk because I don't have the energy for one more argument with my picky eaters.

I'm guilty of typing a blog post or cruising Facebook when I should be playing a board game or spending some quality time.

I'm guilty of letting them walk out in mismatched, not weather appropriate clothes because I cannot fight that fight - again.

I'm guilty of giving in sometimes when they whine because their willpower is stronger than mine.

I'm guilty of chastising them for their less than spotless bedrooms even though the rest of the house is far from spotless as well.

I'm guilty of telling them to practice their piano and then being irked by the "noise."

I'm guilty of saying, "Just one more minute!" and then letting it turn into five or ten or more.

I'm guilty of being annoyed by the inconvenience of their requests for help, time, or affection.

I'm guilty of daydreaming about what life would be like if I had made other choices; traveled a different path.

I'm not a perfect mother.  The weight of my responsibility is hard to carry sometimes.  I do not love every single moment of motherhood.

So, what is my penance for these crimes?

I've been sentenced to a lifetime of hugs, and joy, and laughter.  I've been given these three precious girls.  I've been blessed with a love so strong that it hurts sometimes.

I'm guilty of making frequent mistakes, but they repeatedly forgive and love me unconditionally no matter how badly I mess up or how many times I misstep.

Yes, I'm guilty  - guilty of being one very lucky criminal mom.  For that, I am supremely grateful. 


This post is part of Finish The Sentence Friday.  FTSF is hosted by some wonderful ladies.  Please give them a visit and check out all the other blogs that participate as well!

Stephanie at Mommy, for Real
Kristi at Finding Ninee

Janine's Confessions of A Mommyaholic

Old School Blogging - Valentine's Style

Old School Blogging is a monthly Linkup party hosted by Elaine over at The Miss Elaine-ous Life.  This month, one of my favorite bloggers, Tamara from Tamara Camera Photography, is co-hosting.  This month, all the questions have to do with love and Valentine's Day.  Check out my answers, write a post with your own answers to these questions, and link up!

How do you typically celebrate Valentine’s Day?
We typically don't celebrate.  Of course, I do the class parties at the kids' school and I might wear red, but otherwise, it's just an ordinary day.
Do you like to get A)chocolates B) flowers  C) a sweet card or D) ALL OF THE ABOVE? C - chocolates will get eaten and I kill plants/flowers.  A card with a sweet message is something I can hold onto.
Would you consider yourself a “cuddler”?  If not, would you at least cuddle on Valentine’s Day? It just depends on my mood.  I like to snuggle with my hubby in the evenings when all is quiet and calm.  
What is your favorite movie about love or with a love story?  Hmmmm . .   My favorite movie ever is One Fine Day with George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer.  Their characters start out hating each other, but of course, by the end of this fine day they have fallen in love.  

I also love the movie Hope Floats.

Do you believe in “love at first sight”?  Did it happen to you? I believe that love at first sight could happen, but it hasn't happened to me.  When I first met my husband, he was not exactly sober and I was not impressed! :-) My friends secretly gave him my number.  
Do you believe love can conquer all things? I don't believe love can conquer all things.  If it could, there would be no cancer or war or famine.  However, love certainly makes the tough times more bearable.
What is one of the main things you love about your S.O.(significant other)?  I love that he makes me laugh.  I tend to be a little high strung.  I over analyze; I worry.  He has a way of lightening the mood and making me smile even when I don't really want to.
If you could have the perfect Valentine date what would you and your loved one do? Anytime we get to go out without the kids is nice.  We usually just go to dinner, but it would be really great to go away somewhere. 
Tell me about your first crush!  I don't even remember!  Probably the New Kids on the Block! (Don't judge!)
Do you have any embarrassing or horror dating stories?  I met my husband when I was 19, so I didn't date a lot of other people.  There was one guy in college, though.  I hoped he would ask me out and he finally did.  He picked me up in his crazy, jacked-up truck (which I didn't know he had) and took me to see a terrible movie.  That was it.  No dinner or anything.  Since we were in a movie, there was also very little conversation.  He didn't ask me out again and I was just fine with that!
Favorite flower? I like tulips and lilies.
What’s the first type of chocolate you hope for when you reach into a box of chocolates? Milk chocolate with a caramel center.  Yum!
Favorite love song? There are so many good ones.  The first one that comes to mind is this one:

What is the best breakup song? Again, "best" is hard because there are so many.  Here's one I like (also by Lady A):

Favorite celebrity couple?  I'm not a big follower of celebrity couples, but I like Tim McGraw & Faith Hill. They have a relationship that has endured for a long time and they seem very committed to each other and their family. 
Overall, are you pro- or anti- Valentine’s Day?  I'm a Valentine's Day scrooge.  My philosophy is "If you can't tell me you love me the other 364 days of the year, don't tell me on Feb.14 just because Hallmark says you are supposed to or because you are afraid I'll get mad if you don't."
If someone did that “Say Anything” boombox thing outside your window, would you be into it, or call the police?  When I was younger, I probably would have been flattered.  Now, since I have a husband and three kids, I would probably call the police! :-)
First thing you notice about the objects of your affection? Nothing specific.  I focus on overall presentation.  
What’s the best thing you’ve ever gotten for Valentine’s Day? A nephew!  He is the child who made me an aunt for the first time and he will be 12 on Feb. 14th! 

There you have it!  Everything "lovey dovey" that you ever wanted to know about me!  Now, write your own post and go link up!  Oh, and, Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Things That Make Me Cry - Tuesday Ten Linkup

Did you know that today is National Con't Cry Over Spilled Milk day?!?

When we saw that weird holiday, we thought it would be fun to do a Tuesday Ten about the things that make us cry.  Even though I'm the one who picked this topic (I think), the truth is that I'm not a cryer.   If you catch me crying, chances are it's something pretty bad or something really, really good.  I rarely shed tears over much of anything and I actually had a really hard time thinking of 10 things to put on my list!

  1. Onions - I've tried everything from "onion glasses" to holding my breath, but nothing helps.  Every time I chop an onion, the tears start rolling.
  2.  My kids - My kids make me cry for different reasons.  Sometimes, it's because they frustrate me or make me angry.  Sometimes, it's because of some milestone that is passing.  Sometimes, I cry because they are crying and I can't fix whatever it is.  Sometimes, it's because I love them so much and I'm terrified that I am completely doing this motherhood thing wrong.  
  3. Music - Although I'm not musically talented, I love music and it expresses emotions in a way that I can't always do.  Occasionally, a song will remind me of something and the tears start to flow.  
  4. Laughing - Who doesn't love to laugh so hard you cry?  Fortunately, I do this often.
  5. PMS - As I said, I'm not usually a cryer, so if you catch me sobbing, there's a good chance I'll blame it on hormones!
  6. Psoriasis makes me cry which is why this post was hard for me to write.
  7. Other Bloggers make me cry sometimes - like this post from Kristi or this one from Chris.  Words are powerful.
  8. My GIFT girls.  GIFT is the name of a Bible study group at my church.  We are women, mothers, and friends.  We say "What happens in GIFT stays in GIFT."  We also say "It's not GIFT unless somebody cries."  Somebody usually does and, in that environment, tears are contagious.
(Now, I'm stumped! Can we change this to Tuesday Eight??  No?  Then, I'll have to dig deep!)

9.  Sometimes, movies make me cry.  I almost cried during Frozen.  The Blind Side and Hope Floats always make me cry no matter how many times I watch them.
10. Alleriges kind of make me cry.  They make my eyes get really itchy and watery.  I have weird allergies that are sometimes very randomly triggered.  To others, it probably looks like I've been crying!  (O.K. I know that's not really crying, but I needed a #10!) 

What about you?  Are you a cryer??  Link up and tell us what brings tears to your eyes! 


Your Tuesday Ten hostesses are:

TheLiebersThe Teacher Wife

We hope you have enjoyed our Tuesday Ten Lists!  If so, please link up one of your own and share using #TuesdayTen!
1) Link up a post, old or new, pertaining to the Tuesday Ten topic for this week and add our Tuesday Ten button to the post or to your sidebar.
2) Please do not link up contests, product reviews, or sponsored posts.
3) Visit your hostesses and follow them on social media.
4) Visit as many other linked posts as you can and show those bloggers some love by commenting and/or sharing!

Next TuesdayFebruary 18, we are going to share some Valentine's love and list Ten Blogs You Love To Read!  It will be a fun way for all of us to find some new blogs to love! :-)

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