Wednesday, September 30, 2009

For the Love of Food

I absolutely LOVE food. Anyone who knows me knows this. Yes there are some quirks in my food life, such as not being a fan of icecream. I used to love it, now and for the past several years I dislike it. Every once in awhile I'll have some but I'm not the type of girl that has it stocked in her freezer and when it is sitting in there, it sits for quite a long time until my husband or house guests eat it. For my son's birthday party I almost forgot to buy some, if it wasn't for my mom and best friend reminding me to purchase it.

My husband LOVES icecream, to the point where he'd prefer an icecream cake over the regular kind. I think it's crazy, but then again I'm probably just as crazy for not loving it.

As part of loving food so much I have enjoyed cooking to such great extents. Currently I'm working on my pot and pan collection and actually found a set I really like. Of course I found them at my friend (more like an acquaintance but she's super nice) Sarah's house and they are Pampered Chef which means they are very expensive but she swears by them and to tell you the truth I love they are guaranteed for life. Of course one of the best parts of the Pampered Chef Pans are who they are sold by. I'd rather buy them from Sarah then some random person I met at a party. Yes Sarah sells Pampered Chef so if you ever want a delicious party give me a call or send an email and I'm sure Sarah would be more then pleased to have a "cooking show" with you. To make it even better I'd probably buy some stuff at your party as well.

My extent of cooking involves me trying new recipes constantly. I will cook new meals for my family, bake breads and even whip up new desserts. The problem with this is eating. I eat while I cook, I eat the food when it's first ready, I eat left overs when it's cold. Now this will clearly run up caloric intake and well...that's a problem.

Since food is such an important part in my life, I have to try and be careful. Notice it's try to be careful. So how do I be a stay at home mom, who adores cooking and baking and not weigh 200 pounds? Recently I found this TV program called, "Cook Yourself Thin." I was so intrigued by the recipes I looked them up. I highly recommend you do. I ate a full dinner with a side of stuffing (which was not on the menu and was as unhealthy as you can get) and my calories for dinner was STILL less then what I normally eat. Tonight we ate the Mediterranean Chicken and Tomatoes. It was divine! I've also made the chocolate biscotti which was wonderful as well. These recipes really do taste amazing and the caloric intake is low.

Not only have I been trying new, healthier and just as fulfilling recipes, I've been trying harder to exercise, which involves running again and my beloved long walks with my son. Honestly I do love food but if there's one thing I do know is the calories add up fast so you have to burn some. I'm hoping in about four more weeks I'll be down ten pounds, if I keep following the guidelines. Try the website, "Cook Yourself Thin" and let me know what you think. We are most definitely going to continue using these recipes in my house and if anyone wants to get me something for Christmas, either Pampered Chef Pans or the Cook Yourself Thin Cookbook. I hope you enjoy! Bon appetit!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Two Ears to Listen

Growing up my father always told me that I have two ears in order to listen twice as much as I talked. From that point on I always tried to remember to listen more. Clearly it didn't always work out. When I thought I was over learning those wise methods from my father, I quickly was reminded once again in college. At Oswego State I took a course called Living Writers. It was a requirement as a Writing Arts Major and basically covered how to get your work published, agents, publishing, different avenues for each and current books, authors, what's hot, what's not, etc. It was in this class, taught by one of my favorite professors who preferred to be called Ira and would give us extra credit if we could figure out how to spell his last name....Suka....Suka...Sukarungrung (I think the spelling is correct). Ira was born in Thailand but lived in the States since he was young. He was quite a large man who loved his cocker spaniels, adored his wife and loved the candy aisle at Wegmans Grocery Store.

It was during his class the old saying was brought up. Clearly I was wondering how this would play into the Living Writers course and the answer was quite simple, in order to be a successful writer, you should read twice as much as you write. At the time I thought it was crazy, because I just wanted to write and write and write some more. I did know, however this theory is correct. It was stressed that no matter what, you need to sit down every day and write, even for five minutes. Therefore it means I have to read for ten minutes a day....interesting.

As I think about my husband I often reflect on how often he studies his programming, programming lanuages and then finally sits down to brainstorm and finally starts programming. He does this in school, outside of school and I'm pretty sure in his sleep. Being a mom of a toddler I find it's hard to write and let alone read. I have decided, however, I can write often but am I really listening? The answer is no. Well sort of. Currently I will read some blogs, magazine articles but in all honesty I need to listen more.

The concept of the whole listening thing is to learn what's hot in the writing world and what' not so hot, like everything else it continually changes. Another writing professor had said to write verbatim what another author had written. By doing this exercise you learn to write like them, gain the same techniques they had. This will only improve writing skills.

Finally there's encouragement. My husband is a constant source of encouragement for me to write. My parents are too and sometimes my brother but no one encourages me like my husband. He reads all of my blogs and will comment on them all to me personally. He reads them when I least expect them to be read. The whole reason for me starting to blog was to get "practice" for my book, which has been a dream and goal of mine since I was a young child. I wrote a book when I was in middle school and sent it out for publication. It wasn't published but an editor at Dell Publishing Company actually read it and sent it back to me with an encouraging letter. I still may have it somewhere, not really sure where though. I will never forget my first rejection letter. It isn't something that brought me down but uplifted me and encouraged me to write even more.

I still have more reading to do, and planning, but the book will be on it's way shortly, this I know. Until the book is done I probably won't discuss it anymore other then frustrations of writer's block or too much in one section or another. Until then I will read the encouraging comments on this blog, which I will continue writing in as well. Your comments encourage me that one, two or more people actually read my work. I often have unexpected people call and tell me they read my stuff. Clearly only a few comment in writing, but regardless it encourages me to think some things are worthy enough to be read by others.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Time Changes Everything

Now that I am a mommy I look at everything differently. I think about my past and I tell my toddler, "Don't, please don't pull some of the stunts Mommy or Daddy did." It's not just me that thinks like this. Chris informed me when Bradley is a teenager we are both getting stick shifts because he won't know how to drive them and therefore won't be able to steal our vehicles like he stole his father's truck when he was fifteen. Chris also informed me that it gives me plenty of time to practice my driving skills, since I haven't driven stick since my freshman year in college, which involved Kristi's red little "clown car" and what felt like ten clowns piling in and out of it.

With Halloween coming up, I often wonder what we will do for trick or treating. As a kid we always went in our neighborhood. After we were all done we would sort through the candy to pick out the "safe" and "unsafe" ones to eat. Oswego however....isn't somewhere I normally trust. I know the college does some sort of trick or treat thing for kids so maybe we'll do that. I do not however feel comfortable to take my son to many houses around here, maybe the neighbors on each side but other then that....I think we are headed elsewhere.

It's not just Halloween that is a concern. Neither Chris nor myself want to raise our son here. We would prefer a more...well...happier, honest, loving, safer area. Growing up we never locked our doors, would leave our keys in our car, etc. Here....not so much. We lock up every night, we always lock the car and we take the extra steps needed. On top of all that as a kid we would walk to school. I would often ride my bike with a friend, who has now passed on. In Oswego I definitely wouldn't even think about it.

I also look at kids, teenagers, people my age and think how disrespectful they are. Today I saw my neighbor and of course said hello to him. I also called him Mister Murphy. He laughed and said I should just call him Kevin, but I think to myself I want my son (who was with me at the time) to call his elders mister, miss, misses, whatever it would be. What's wrong with a little hospitality, respect, politeness. Of course Mister Murphy was probably saying this because I'm an adult, but regardless it's how I was raised. In fact for a while it was, "Yes, ma'am," "No, ma'am," "Yes, Sir," "No, Sir." Yes I would like this for my child, it's just respectful. I remember moving up to New York and I got in trouble by my first grade teacher for calling her ma'am.

I want my son to know how to not only respect others, other's property but I think it's equally as important to respect oneself. I look at kids and see how they don't respect the language out of their mouth (I think it's hideous and unattractive), not to mention their lack of respect for others. Oftentimes I wonder, what in the world did their parent(s) teach them. Seriously everything has just gone downhill in my eyes. I want my child to respect his toys, clothes, body, self and self worth. I want my child to know he is loved. I want my child to know his manners.

Recently I was going to submit an essay about what it means to be a woman today. As I began writing, I got angry. I was angry at women in general. Many women say things to me because I am a stay at home mom. I have even had professionals sneer because I wasn't working. Yes it is hard to be an at home mom at times. For me I think it comes naturally, it's how I was raised for the most part. Once at my doctor's office the receptionist had the nerve to make a loud comment under her breath because I wasn't working. When she asked if I did and I said no her response was, "Of course you don't." I was appalled. She is a professional, or supposed to be. Yes we have a lower income because of it, but does that make me any less of a person or lesser of a woman? I do have my Bachelor's Degree....hmmm....maybe I should have said something about that to the receptionist whom I can only assume did not. Yes it is wrong for me to assume, does that make it right? No, but I did and still assume that. Overall most women, I am not ashamed to say, I AM NOT PROUD OF!!

So where is that woman of 2009? I am right here. I am here and I am a mom. I am very proud of my friends and family who serve in the military. I am a stay at home mom. I served my country the best I could. Yes when I was in uniform at my college a faculty member called me a baby killer. Hmmm.....interesting. Why didn't SHE put on the uniform? Regardless I kept my mouth shut, let her yell at me in my uniform then went on my merry way. I do believe women are more outspoken now then every before, but just because you are outspoken doesn't mean you should never keep your mouth shut. I honor and love the woman who puts her family first above her career (yes some families need two incomes, yes some moms need to work). I honor the woman who is striving to make herself better and her family better. Most of all I honor those who teach their child respect, give their child the much deserved attention and love.

Recently I read that everyday you should say, "I love you" and "thank you" to your children no matter what their age. I believe this will most definitely teach love and respect. A parent needs to be a parent before they are their child's friend in my opinion. Then maybe when my son is grown (and starts a family of his own) he won't have to worry about having his children trick or treat in his neighborhood or walk to school like I did.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Trying the Waiting Game....

In the military one would always remember the "Hurry Up and Wait" game. This primarily consists of having to be somewhere or do something at a particular time, which you cannot be late for. Once you get there or have the opportunity to complete the task, you normally have to wait. You wait for paperwork, you wait in a gigantic long line, you wait for signatures, wait in another gigantic long line, wait for your computer to be fixed, wait in another gigantic long can take forever.

Since our miscarriage several months ago we were waiting to "try" again for another. We had to wait a minimum of three months. We waited for about five. Now we are playing the same old game....hurry up and wait.....we sit here and wonder how long it will take....I am now three days late on my "cycle" and we are still waiting....the pregnancy test said now we wait...even more...we will now wait a couple more days, or maybe even tomorrow to play the hurry up and wait game some more before taking another pregnancy test. If that doesn't work out then we will wait even longer to start the process all over again.

In the meantime the game continues for everything. The hurry up and wait has lasted several months for me, I am now officially: HONORABLY DISCHARGED EFFECTIVE THE 21ST from the Army....a friend told I have to wait for my unit to send me the letter. I guess it will preoccupy me from the baby business. Of course in the back of my mind I'm still going to hurry up and wait, and even though I'm happy to be discharged I'm overcome with extreme sadness, a huge window to my life has closed, I just have to remember another one will open.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Writer's Cramp

I sit here listening to the TV blaring in the background, the occasional laughs from family, dog grunting and obnoxiously loud fan of an XBOX cooling it's overworked insides. I wanted to write something for quite some time now and when I'm driving, in the shower, playing with my toddler or closing my eyes for a night's rest I can think of all the topics. I recite the lines I will rhythmically stroke on the keyboard, making them flow like a soft fall breeze.

As the leaves change color and slip away from the trees, my thoughts change color and words slip away at my finger tips. Instead I just write. I write words that may not work together. I make sentences that don't flow. Finally I make up my mind there isn't anything worthy of writing at this time. I then close the borrowed lap top and hope another day I will collect my thoughts on paper. When that happens I will write about the fall breeze, the chaos of having a toddler, the images of PTSD in the lives around me, the laughter of a very young boy and the wonders of a playful imagination. Until then the unexercised key strokes of the computer will remain untouched as the neglected thoughts remain in my mind somewhere. They are all waiting to once again be discovered in life's little game of what I could only remember as writer's cramp when it is actually called writer's block.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Recently Chris and I were in California for his cousin's wedding. During the stay I had the opportunity to spend time with Chris's grandmother. We all call her Abuelita, which is Spanish for grandma. She prefers that over anything else. Her real name is Clara.

When I look at her she reminds me slightly of my grandmothers and how I miss them terribly. Abuelita is clearly different from them though. She hums as she sweeps her kitchen, speaks only in a foreign language I could only hope to understand and speak fluently, and she sings and claps for baby Bradley, whom she calls bebe because she cannot pronounce his name.

I tried my best to speak what little Spanish I know to her and she tries her best to speak what little English she knows to me. I was once told, "The eyes are the windows to a person's soul," and this holds true with Abuelita. There is something pure and genuine deep inside her soul.

As I looked at her sweeping her kitchen floor, as saw the years of work behind her, living in a foreign country, moving to California, taking care of her children, even though now they are grown, there was something she carried that carried me away with her. I felt like I was miles away, distant from anything around me, foreign to my surroundings.

While in Petaluma, Abuelita and I didn't say much, for even though we were in the same city we were worlds apart, yet connected in some strange way. I looked at her as that foundation that truly did hold her family together. I may never honestly know who is she is or what she is saying, but I can just look into those windows to her soul and be blanketed in her genuine heart.