laborofwonder

Where Whine Meets Wine

Things And Stuff


After reading a post about how people used to struggle when they were first starting out in life, I recalled our own simple beginnings. Hubbyman was still militaryman, enlisted military man… which means, nevermind. I won’t go there. Let’s just suffice it to say, that we do not properly compensate our service members and their families. (Especially when you think about how one term in congress sets you up for life… it’s ridiculous. But I won’t continue that direction.) And if you think that we do properly compensate them, then you’ve never been exposed to life as an enlisted servicemember. Sure there are perks, like the Commissary (grocery store) where things are discounted and tax free (they are also closer to expiration date, and who doesn’t want to go through armed security every time they’re out of milk?!), the  housing (hey, who doesn’t love espestos and having to call in a special team anytime you want to hang up a picture?! Or walls so thin you can have conversations with your neighbor without having to leave your bedroom?! And those were the nice ones.)  Anyways….I was thinking about our first year of marriage.

We’d only been married a few months when we were sent to the next duty station. Which will probably always be one of our most favorite places on earth. An island in the Puget North Sound; surrounded by ocean and mountains; filled with state parks and beaches. It’s also the place I became a mother, but this isn’t about that… so we moved. We trekked our vehicles, some necessary belongings, and ourselves up the coast. When we finally landed and moved in… well, let’s just say we were thankful for all the bath and kitchen supplies we’d gotten as wedding gifts, but that’s basically all we had. And most of it was still in transit, along with our 20ish year old TV. So what did we do? We played lots of games. I beat hubbyman in Trouble, so many times, that he still refuses to play it with me. And one of our, well, at least one of mine, favorite memories happened in our office. The only piece of furniture we had, other than our bed, was a desk with our computer on it. So we’d set up our camping chairs (literally, no furniture.) in the office, and watch movies on the computer. Even once our TV arrived, either it was so old it didn’t have a connection, or we just didn’t have a DVD player. Either is possible, and I don’t remember which. Either way, we continued to watch movies, in our camping chairs, on our computer… and while we probably thought it was “lame” back then, now I’m very appreciative of those times.

So while we have stuff coming out of our ears now, including furniture, a newer TV (that can use -and does- a dvd player), and three children… I love our earlier times. I loved that we started out with nothing and worked our way from there. I appreciate that we did what we could with what we had. And what I really appreciate was the fact that without all the “things” distracting us, we really were able to focus on what was really important, like each other, and hiking new trails, and visiting amazing places, and meeting amazing people.

And so in memory of those days and because all of the “things” that are overtaking our house… I’m in full-on organizational mode! Things are getting done, and put away, and probably over organized if it kills me… and it might.

Anyone have any great organizational tools, or favorite tips? My kids love puzzles. They also love to dump every single puzzle piece on the floor in a big pile. I’m such an organizer that I’d go through and put them all back together before putting them away. Well, one day I got tired of it. So I took each puzzle board (if there was one) and numbered it. The back of each puzzle piece has a correlating number, and the big ziploc bag they go in, also has a correlating number on it. So pick up is a breeze. The kids can look to see what numbers are the same and group them all together and do it themselves! And I’m happy because they’re all where they belong, and I didn’t have to do it myself! Have you done anything that made your day to day so much easier?

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Things You Should Say (To Your Partner)


I was looking at my other “Things You Should Say…” posts (you can read them here and here) while I was listening to the Brad Paisley/Carrie Underwood song, Remind Me, and it got me thinking. I’m sure in no small part due to last week’s visit to the place where I met hubbyman (and where we shared our first kiss – 14 years ago!), that I was thinking about our relationship all those years ago in comparison to where it is now. Don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to have our relationship to be what it was when we were teenagers, and I’m thankful for the relationship we have now. But after 14 years of…us, almost 7 years of marriage, and 3 children… maybe we could use some reminders.

  • Remember our first year of marriage, and you gave me flowers every month (Starting with 11 daisies -my favorite- and one rose, then 10 daisies and 2 roses, etc. as the months continued. Ending with all roses on our one year anniversary.)? Remind me that you still think I’m special.
  • Remember when you used to spend hours MAKING me a card that would look like a piece of art? Remind me that I’m still worth the energy of making the extra effort.
  • Remember when you worked nights and I worked days and I would go to sleep at 7 so that I could wake up at 1am just to watch an hour of TV with you on the couch. Remind me that I’m worth your time.
  • Remember when you filled every vase and glass in the house with daisies, just because. Remind me that you’re still thinking of me.
  • Remember when I’d be waiting at the door when you came home from work (without a baby in arms)? Remind me of when we used to be so excited to see each other we’d be counting down the minutes.
  • Remember when we moved into the townhouse and the Navy hadn’t delivered our stuff yet (and we had nothing!) so we’d have movie nights in the computer room (on the computer) while sitting in our camping chairs. Remind me that you just want to spend time with me, no matter what we’re doing.
  • Remember when Big E was a baby and you’d rush home and insist on taking him and holding him? Remind me that you enjoy co-parenting with me.
  • Remember when you used to take the Big Es to the park so I could get some things done in peace and quiet. Remind me of when we used to value each other’s alone time.
  • Remember when we’d always go to bed together, at the same time?! Remind me of when I was worth staying awake for.
  • Remember when we used to get dressed up and go on dates that I didn’t have to plan? Remind me that I’m still the one you’d choose if you were choosing again today.
I think the longer you are with someone, and children only triple that number, the easier it becomes to get complacent in our relationships. You get in a routine and a rhythm and you forget the energy and excitement of when you were consistently keeping your other half in the forefront of your thoughts. It doesn’t mean that your relationship is going down the drain (and I certainly don’t think that/feel that way about mine!!), but every relationship worth having, is worth maintaining!
We do still like to be silly together!
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Thankful Friday


Sometimes I think I can get a little too stuck in this, “Well, this is just how my life is, right now…” mentality instead of: Look at how great my life is! I mean I’m always tired (last night I was up with kids until after 3:30am and then they got up at 7:30 this morning!), I’m always hungry (I’m nursing and chasing the kids- constantly! It’s always one or the other!). And I’m always behind on 3 things: laundry, dusting, and showering. Sometimes I get so caught up in all the things I’m doing, I forget the wonderment of it all. And so today, (actually I’m thinking of making every Friday, Thankful Friday, where I take a moment to acknowledge all the good things I have in my life) I am taking at least these few moments to commemorate the things in my life that give me lots of love, laughs, and joy:

1. Littlest E has the silliest, goofiest laugh… and he shares it almost every time I look at him. Plus, he’s a hugger. Really. Always has been. Throws his arms around you and squeezes. Heart melting.

2. Our puppy (who just celebrated his first birthday!) is such a good boy. Seriously. He’s a lab, who gets tired out after playing fetch for like 5 throws. He’d really rather spend his day cuddled with one of the kids. Or napping next to where they play. Seriously, he is that big of a sweetheart, and that much of a big ‘ol baby. Love him!

3. Hubbyman has been making a big effort to be more present in his time at home. Playing with the kids (without the distraction of a project in the background) and in doing things (like the dishes!!) around the house, on a daily basis. I am so thankful for the partner he is- in our marriage and as a co-parent.

4. After always thinking that I didn’t really have a preference about having a daughter, I find I enjoy having one more and more each and every day. She is a girl who knows what she wants and she will either melt your heart or break it to get it! And I love that about her! She is my sweetie pie that would gladly sit by my side as I cook or clean and just keep me company and entertained with her chatter.

5. My oldest is growing by leaps and bounds, it always amazes me the things he understands more and more on a daily basis! He’s currently obsessed with lying and telling the truth. The whole truth and nothing but the truth. If you ask him to tell him the truth (if you know he’s not giving you the whole story- and you have to specifically say, “Tell me the truth.”), he will. Begrudgingly, but he will. And he will not tolerate you telling him something that he knows to not be the truth. He may have a black and white view point, much like his father. He is also a sweetheart of a boy, who LOVES to give kisses and bear hugs. Truly. He’s not happy unless he’s hugged you hard enough to knock you on your bee-hind.

6. I have wonderful friends. Seriously. They totally rock. And I lived with one of my bffs for a month and a half this summer. And I love her more than ever. That’s how cool my friends are. Another friend came for a 2 week visit that he had to drive cross-country for! And we loved every minute of it! You know how sometimes by the end of a visit you’re like, “Get gone already!” This was not that way. We try almost daily to get him back here! And that’s just two examples! We are blessed with long time friends as well as newly made ones. They do our lives good- as a couple, as a family, and as individuals.

7. I find it totally amazing to witness the firsts of my children. First words, first steps, first time they see fireworks and point and “ooohh” and “aaahhhh” over every single one (Seriously, Littlest E truly did that). Total wonderment over the joy I feel in getting to be a part of their little lives.

8. I am 5lbs away from what I weighed in high school. Did I mention I’ve had 3 children in the last 4 years? I’m pretty proud of myself. No, maybe everything doesn’t fit or sit the same as it did back then, but I have earned every curve of my body, and I’m (learning!) accepting them.

9. I love the amount of laughter that goes on in my household. I am continually thankful for their sweet giggles amongst each other, and the ones they share with me. I am thankful for the way my husband and I can laugh together- and at each other, as much as at ourselves. Even the biggest hurts can feel manageable if you can intertwine laughter into the equation.

10. I am so appreciate to have this space. To have a place where I can say what I think and write how I feel. It’s empowering, liberating, and equal parts confusing…hey! I’m still learning! I feel more me, as an individual, when I can be open and honest about life, love, children, parenting… and living. Plus, where else would you find fabulous dinner ideas?! (*giggle, grin, and eye roll* yes, I even roll my eyes at my self. But you know, in a thankful, self accepting way)

These are by no means the only things that give my life joy, or in any particular order.I just needed to take a moment and internalize all the wonderment I do have in this crazy, busy, kid-filled life of mine. And to acknowledge that I love it completely, even if, at times, it doesn’t sound like, or feel like, I do.

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This Is My Confession The Remix


I can’t even say “this is my confession…” without instantly hearing the Usher song in my head. But this really isn’t that kind of confession. Not a, I did this horrible thing and now my life is over  kind of confession, anyhow. Just a: this is my life. My real life. I’m not sugar coating things to make myself sound better, or wiser, or funnier… it’s the long and the short of it. This is my life as I feel it.

There is a lot of pressure in relationships (of all kinds- parenthood, marriage, friendships, work) for perfection, and as it turns out, I am not perfect. (*insert collective gasp here*) I make mistakes. (I know right?! I find it both shocking and appalling as well. Feel free to insert another gasp here.) But I am aware of my imperfections, my mistakes, my less-than-ness. At least most of the time. That said, sometimes I hold people in my life to a higher standard than I do myself. I accept that I am going to fall short (I don’t like that quality, but on most levels, I do accept it.), but somehow I have the tendency to believe that those I surround myself with, should try harder, do more, invest more, and toe the line…possibly more than I do. Even in typing this, I don’t like it. I don’t want to admit it. And I don’t want to be that way. I especially don’t want to admit it out loud, you know, where I can be quoted on it. But there you have it.

Hubbyman had a revelation of sorts this last week. He took a very long road trip with one of our dearly loved friends. Therefore he had more time than usual to process and talk. Probably more time than in the last 5 years. (And by probably, I mean definitely since this was the longest we’d been separated since military days.) This last week he has put forth a lot of effort to make sure I was feeling appreciated, and more than that, that I was feeling taken care of. The first day I was convinced he was in trouble for something, or was paving his way before getting into some trouble. Not because he’s proven that to be true previously, but because he doesn’t always live up to my expectations. I do not mean this disrespectfully or as an implication that he is not an amazing father, husband, and provider- because he definitely is all of those things. What I mean is that sometimes I have expectations for him that he cannot fulfill. They are often unfair, and occasionally unreasonable.  But there I’ve said it. Just like he sometimes is less than appreciative of the state of the house, despite how many hours I spend on a daily basis trying to keep it from looking like a hurricane went through it… sometimes I am underwhelmed at how much housework he gets done, or helps with, after he gets home from a long day of work. We all have our downfalls. I by no means am saying that we should no longer expect the best out of each other, or to lower the bar… but when do we start being realistic with each other? Can we know that we’re imperfect, with some acknowledgment that we’re trying out hardest to do our best within our imperfect capabilities? Doesn’t that count for something?

So here is my ultimate confession: Sometimes I have unrealistic expectations for my hubbyman and fail to acknowledge all the things he does do, or give him credit when he does go above and beyond the normal wear and tear of the day. Unfortunately, I don’t limit this to my husband, it’s also with my kids (It’s crazy how sometimes I can have the expectation for my CHILDREN to behave like anything other than CHILDREN.), my parents, brothers, sisters (yes, they’re in-law, but they’re still sisters), and even my friends. (Apparently it’s unreasonable for me to expect them to foresee all my needs and accommodate them. Weird.) So ladies and gentlemen, tell someone in your life who maybe you feel like isn’t pulling their weight (in your home, in your family, in your relationship/friendship, church… and I mean pulling their weight emotionally and time-wise, as much as I do actual work) that you are thankful for all the things that they actually do. Be grateful for the times when they do go above and beyond the call of duty. And then go one step further (c’mon, I dare you!), you go above and beyond for them. Whether it’s bringing home flowers for the first time in a year (or more), or you make a favorite meal and clean up the dishes afterwards, or even just sitting and listening- without rolling your eyes or acting annoyed (no matter what the topic!). Sometimes it’s the little things that can make the biggest difference. Yesterday, my husband did the dishes three times. Once when he got home from work, once after dinner (that HE made), and once right before bed. Did I mention that he also made dinner?! And he also got out, thawed a little, and served me some of my wine slushie! Does it get better than that? Hardly.

I expected them to not want to go down the aisle...I did not expect them to fight for the rights to throwing the flowers all down the aisle. It ended in MissE dumping her basket rather than continuing to have to share in the flower throwing duties with her brother

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Imperfect Perfection


There are currently two friends of mine that are in some part of the divorce process. It’s heartbreaking, truly. I’m not going into the details behind it, but just know that these are two wonderful women who deserve to be happy and loved, and I truly hope they know that. After an e-mail from one, something she said resonated with me (after divulging that *gasp* yes, even my marriage has had times where it’s really not easy), about wishing to be more like other couples, happy couples. The truth is, ALL couples have at least one point in their marriage of something, some words, some…times that could either make or break the relationship. I’m not saying that there’s no such thing as a happy couple! I believe I’m part of a happy couple-ship… at least most days. What I am saying is that it’s real life. Just like anything else in real life marriage, and relationships of all forms (whether it’s a boyfriend, a sister, a best friend) has ups and downs. It’s messy, it’s work, it’s time consuming, emotion consuming…it’s real. And it’s also worthwhile. I am not saying this to say divorce is evil or that you have to stay married no matter what...this is really not about that. This is just about the work of staying married, or staying in any relationship for that matter.

While I know I’ve talked about how if hubbyman and I didn’t have bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all, it’s not entirely true (and we don’t wholeheartedly believe that we have bad luck, either. Just so you know.). We have been fortunate in each other. I was fortunate enough to have married my long-time friend, and the first boy I ever kissed. (read about that here) For a shy, insecure girl, with major trust issues…this was key. As of this month, I’ve known my husband for half of my life (*sigh I’m getting so old!*). That said, I can see how you would think with all that time, and friendship, and blah, blah blah… that it would be easy, that we’d know each other so well that we’d always finish each other’s sentences, always a step ahead because we know what’s coming, and things like that. While I will admit to usually knowing the “where is *insert random item*?” question before it’s even asked, and that I can always know exactly where he left anything (even though I can never remember where I set my glasses, or my phone), even if I didn’t see him leave it… we actually can’t read each other’s minds. While certainly know exactly where and which buttons to press, we often still need specific directions on how to fix it after said buttons have been pushed. We know each other very well, and yet he still leaves his laundry everywhere, even though he knows I’ve gotten a million laundry baskets for him to throw it in. And I still set dishes in the sink, instead of on the counter, even though that makes him roll his eyes the way the trail of his clothes does to me. It’s real life.

I could, of course, tell you, we’re perfect for each other, grow more in love every single day, that we hardly ever say a negative word to each other, and that it just comes easy for us. But that wouldn’t be completely honest, and seriously, who wants to read about how everything’s perfect (and therefore better than everyone else!)? Nobody. Because we all know that’s not real life. In real life we do things that can have negative consequences, we say things that we can’t take back, and we think things we’d never admit to out loud. It’s hard, it’s sad, sometimes even heartbreaking, but it’s real. And it can also be wonderful.

I did the Love Dare a few months ago, and granted I didn’t do it in the 40 days they prescribe, but I wanted to make sure that I meant every thing they challenged us to do. And sometimes it would take a while before I was ready to put my big girl pants on and follow through. I didn’t do it to save my marriage from imminent danger.  I did it to maintain my marriage. So that should a day arise when we feel like we’re at a crossroads… well, I’ll have some tools to work my way through. I feel like it gave me a fresh perspective, of my husband and of marriage. And it helped us to talk through some things. Like how easily I forget things, without making the decision to forgive, first. Truly. I know the adage is “I forgive, but I don’t forget.” I’m completely opposite. I can go to sleep just fuming, but I wake up and I’ve forgotten how mad I was and move on until something makes me remember and I’m mad all over, because while my brain had forgotten the incident, my heart hadn’t forgiven.

And I also don’t follow the “never let the sun set on your anger” one either… because sometimes, you just need some time and space. So that things aren’t said that you can’t take back. We do, however, have a rule that we always kiss goodnight. No matter what. So while we may be going to bed without fully resolving whatever issue was at hand, we are still connecting in a way that tells each other, “I love you and I am committed to you, even though I’d rather be anywhere but right next to you at the moment.” And for us that works. In our going-on-7-years marriage, I can count the times where we have gone to bed without doing that. At least the times where we’ve forgone it intentionally. I’m not counting the times we were apart or the times we’ve fallen asleep putting the kids to bed… just the times where we purposely did not kiss each other. Really. We may not always feel like kissing, much less talking to the other, but we do it anyways. For for us, that small action, is very important. And so when he finally wakes up, from falling asleep reading to the kids, and climbs into bed…and gives me a kiss, well, to me, it’s a big piece of what makes our crazy, messy, loud, busy, imperfect life my kind of perfection

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We’re expecting


As I sat out on my deck enjoying the beautiful weather yesterday, I couldn’t help but thinking, I’m going to cry if it snows again. Leave it to my husband to burst my bubble, but… we’re supposed to have snow this weekend (Ok, so he didn’t choose this weather, but because he informed me, that really becomes a moot point.). And I really may cry if we do see snow. We have, after all, had snow since October.

Anyways, this had me thinking about expectations… we expect spring to follow suit and spring into summer, but here that is not always the case.  It likes to dabble it’s way in and out until we’re in full meltdown, and then it’s winter again. Aren’t there many things in life this can relate to? We have expectations about so many things, both realistic and unrealistically. Like the expectation so many have that you’re going to live happily ever after, because you have found the one. My brother is getting married in less than a month and he and his fiancée spent the weekend with us, which also got me thinking about expectations. There was a little squabble about him not being willing enough to continue helping with the projects that are of course leaving this soon-to-be-bride a little frantic. Erik and I laughed and said, You think it’s hard now, just wait. (We’re so encouraging, right?) And we both reiterated that the first year or two or three… are spent learning each other in ways you maybe thought you already knew. And most importantly, you will learn how to fight with each other. I don’t mean you’ll learn how to defeat each other with one fell swoop (although you will learn which button to push to do just that). What I mean is that you will learn the way each other fights (this was a point from our pre-marital counselling that really was so helpful to us). You may learn that he needs to work issues out immediately or that she really needs to be given some space before being able to talk through an issue. Either way, you learn, and you adjust.

What does this have to do with expectations? Well, we expect things to be easy, we expect to continuously feel love, we expect to always feel/work/live/love as we do now. Unfortunately, what people often fail to take into consideration is this simple fact: Life does not just happen. We make choices. I think what it all boils down to, and what much of the last weeks’ Love Dare has been talking about, is that we can choose. We can expect the worst or expect the best, but if we’re not actively choosing the best, we’re not going to get it. Expectations are not the enemy, lack of choosing to pursue them, is. Especially in our relationships. As most newlyweds/new relationships of any kind (whether dating or friendships) you have this rush, this glow that you may feel defines your relationship and surely you will always get butterflies whenever you see them. I’m not saying you can’t have a great relationship throughout the years, what I am saying is that you have to actively pursue that. Because even though I have known my husband for hundreds of years (ok not that long, but 1/2 of my life! That’s gotta count for something!) he cannot read my mind! No matter how badly I want him to. He knows everything about me, all my secrets, all my fears, hopes, and dreams… and yet he cannot read my mind! And your other half can’t either. No matter how many sentences you can finish, no matter how many times you find the thing they were looking for (before they asked for it), no matter how much you can convey through looking at each other… Because he cannot read my mind, and because I often don’t speak what’s on it…we run into problems. And sometimes that leads me to days where I don’t particularly enjoy being his wife. And I think I can say with some authority, that on those days, he’s probably not enjoying being my husband either. But we choose to continue to be. Year five of our marriage was a bit tumultuous for us, as individuals we’ve had hard things emotionally and physically, and as a couple we’ve struggled between how to be a loving couple while working and raising children, very young and close in age children. And on the days that we weren’t really feeling like being active participants in this marriage, we choose to do it anyways. We chose to kiss each other goodnight, good-morning, and goodbye every day, even when we don’t really feel like it. Which is why, as we’re gaining on year 7… we’re not itching (you know, the 7 year itch). In fact, because we CHOSE to push our way through, to love our way through, to pray our way through…we are probably in the best place of our marriage, thus far. We are leaning on each other more, we trying to voice our feelings (especially the good ones) more, and we’re loving more thoroughly. But it is not by accident.

We believe in living with intention, and not just in our food. In our lives too- in our parenting, in our interactions with each other and with those around us, and in the way we love and show love. We don’t just believe in living that way, we practice it. It’s not perfect, and it’s not easy, but it is why I have the expectation that we’ll continue living and loving together as a family for as long as God allows.

 

Better Than Expectations Pizza

I know I mentioned previously doing pizza fridays (and I still really want to do that!) but because it was so good, I’m going to share this recipe with you now, on a plain old Wednesday! Friday I’m going out to buy an adapter for this stupid camera! So maybe Pizza Friday will be pictures! Anyways, the hubs texted me a couple weeks ago saying Buffalo Chicken Pizza sounded good. We’ve never had one before or made one, so I did what I do when something sounds good that I haven’t made before… I google as many recipes as I can. And then I make something completely different! Here is what I made:

Super Yummy Pizza Crust (Makes 2 small pizzas- fed four)

  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch/flour
  • 3 tbs dried milk powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbs olive oil (evoo)
  • 1 tsp cinder vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray sheet for easiest crust removal. Combine flours, dried milk, salt, baking powder, and xantham gum. In a separate bowl, whisk the water, oil, and vinegar. Pour the liquid ingredients over the flours, mixing slowly with a spatula until it is a smooth and soft, that just holds its shape (more than pancake batter but less than cookie dough). Transfer about 1/3 of the dough to a pastry bag, or resealable bag (what I used) with one corner snipped off. Divide remaining dough between the two pans, spreading it thinly with a spatula- about 7inch rounds. Pipe a raised, “rim” around the edge of each one. *Brush all over with egg white (1 egg white, lightly beaten) to help sealing and browning. Bake until puffed and starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Cover with pizza toppings, return to oven for another minutes, or until bubbling hot.

*This crust was SO good! I think next time I make it I will double the recipe to make bigger, and a little thicker crusts.

Flying Buffalo Chicken

  • 3 cups of chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or whatever your favorite hot sauce is)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs flour (I used tapioca flour)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp buttermilk ranch seasoning
  • Shredded Cheese (I used mozzarella and cheddar)

While pizza dough/crust is in the oven (you can of course buy or make whatever kind of crust you like best), I do the topping: cook chicken over medium-high heat. When a little over halfway cooked, add in hot sauce. Stir to coat chicken thoroughly.

My husband isn’t a big fan of blue cheese, but you could always do the “sauce” with a blue cheese dressing, or ranch dressing from bottles. You could also use the hot sauce as the pizza sauce if you wanted a stronger taste/flavor and then have something for dipping. I make my own sauce:

Combine butter, flour, milk, ranch seasoning (the only mix I could find that is MSG and food coloring free!) in saucepan over med. heat. Boil two minutes, stirring frequently. If seems too thick add milk (by the tsp) if it’s not thick enough add flour/starch (by pinches).

Spread sauce on crust (as much or as little as you want), spread chicken generously over pizza and cover in as much, or as little, cheese as you like.

Stick back in the oven for about 7 more minutes, or until cheese is thoroughly melted and bubbling.

Enjoy! I’m not a big “buffalo” flavor lover, but this was really good- we’ll definitely be making it again!

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First Kiss


This morning as I was being used as a human jungle gym, my mind wandered…

This summer marks 14 years since my first kiss. And every summer I can’t help but think back to that day. And that boy. He was almost 16. Which as any teenager knows, is a big deal, because obviously you’re so close to adulthood at 16, because you can drive. He was one of those boys who might come across as a little full of himself. (And it might have been a little true.) Lots of friends and always sure of himself. The adult in me sees that most of that was probably a facade, but to the shy teenage girl, it was totally believable.

So I sit and think about what happened between us that summer, the letters, the phone calls… I consider the ways I grew and changed afterwards, and how he inevitably did too. I remember how weekly e-mails in high school turned to yearly birthday calls in college. I don’t remember any of it being particularly heart breaking (he may remember it differently, but I still see it with a bit of rose-colored glasses). Mostly, though, I think about the way time and circumstance changes people. The girl I was…how she became the woman she is. The boy he was and how he became the man he is… and I can’t help but wonder at the affects of that kiss. Now it may seem silly to for me to even think about considering where I’m at now, but I can’t help but wonder what life would look like if the inevitable too-young-love break-up hadn’t occurred.

So instead of the what-might-have-beens, I take a deep breath, let out a sigh, and smile. The roads that boy and I have taken since that fateful night so long ago… there’s been bends and twists, heartbreaks and tears, and even laughter… for both of us. But as my hair is being pulled by my youngest, my oldest launching himself off the couch and onto my stomach, while my middlest lays next to me laughing hysterically; I have no doubts, no second-guesses, no wish-we-would-haves. Only a silent acknowledgment that the roads that boy and I took, well, we needed to take them, as individuals. And I kind of think it makes the road we’re on, as adults, that much sweeter. After all, that boy turned into the most wonderful husband and the most amazing father that this 14-year-old-girl-turned-woman could ever have dreamed of. ♥ And sometimes it’s the sweetness of “our story” and the length of our friendship, love, and history that keep me from killing him (figuratively, of course), so I think he’s probably thankful for it too.

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Just Call Me The April Fool


I have so many things I want to combine in this post, because there’s so much going on right now! I realize I haven’t said anything about “the Love Dare” the last weekish. And it’s not because I’m not doing it- I really am! As I knew would eventually happen (and perhaps why I stalled so much in the beginning- to prevent the inevitable.), I feel peace. And happy. I am now this perfectly kind, wise, patient woman that I always knew I could be. Ok, scratch that. But in truth, I am finding myself having more patience, which in turn is allowing me to respond to situations with more kindness than I’m afraid I’ve been showing as of late. And it’s having benefits. As I’m more patient with them (and in turn, showing more kindness), they are returning the favor. Hubbyman and I realized last night that there have been WAY less time outs at our house lately. (and I mean WAY less) And Hubby even has shown me an abnormal amount of kindness lately. The last couple of weeks he’d been looking at me and smirking. I was starting to worry. Finally last weekend it came out that he had been SEARCHING (he even went *gasp* shopping- on-line yes, but he also went to actual stores, like Williams*Sonoma! My husband!) for a pasta extruder/attachment so I can make macaroni and rotini (and therefore don’t have to buy any noodles!). This is a HUGE deal. I even got a back rub a couple nights ago, without asking for one, and without having to return the favor. Maybe it had something to do with the fact I had to miss out on my girls’ night with one of my favorite Happy Hour mistresses. (Seriously, she’s terrific! She knows that I get out infrequent enough that she is always reminding me that I’m important too, not to check my phone -much- and we stay out until I have to go back!) But even that is something to be thankful for. He had is in the middle of a big project at work and had to work, but he still recognized that I was missing out. Suffice it to say, things are looking up in our household.

…or maybe it was all a big trick!! This morning I got up and it was freezing! I’d been cold all night too- even with Big E snuggled into our bed (I don’t even know when that happened?!), and that boy’s a heater. So turns out the heat never got turned up before bed (I turn it way down during the day depending on if we’re spending our day upstairs or downstairs… no point in heating an area we’re not in!). So I was cold and a little cranky. And then I go upstairs. I have Littlest E on my hip, because he’s been up for quite some time playing and is starting to get a little cranky. I get my favorite coffee cup -because of it’s size- and turn on the water (yes, I admit it, I was going to make instant coffee. Please don’t judge. I know it’s bad. I’m just that desperate for coffee immediately.)… and then it happens. I get sprayed with water. And it takes me a moment to realize what’s going on (hello?! no coffee yet!?!), and to realize that the baby on my hip is being sprayed directly in his face. Great. So I turn the water off and look at the hose, figuring something had to have gone wrong. And then it hits me. It’s APRIL FIRST. Crap. And there’s the string tied around the hose. So I do a little growling and muttering as I cut the string off. I wipe Ethan down, change shirts.  ….it might also be helpful to know this about me: I HATE when my clothes get wet. Like hate, hate. So much that a small spill even, will send me back into the house to change, no matter where I was heading, or how late I already am. Hate. It’s weird, don’t question it- it’s just how it is. Then Miss E (the 2 1/2 year old, nicknamed the dEva) starts asking for some water and she’s whining… so I pick her up and we go get her water. Turns out, the hose had been tied down so long, it wanted to stay in that position. You should also know something about Miss E: She’s dramatic, and she hates getting her clothes wet at least as much as I do. And still no coffee yet.

Breathe in….breathe out. Make enough coffee to feed an army. Drink and watch Ellen. Breathe. Try not to mutter about killing my husband in front of the children… aaahhh, coffee kicks in. As I posted in my facebook status: [Husband]- apparently you’ve forgotten who cooks your meals, washes your clothes, and raises your children… because you’d think you would know better than to pull a prank on her. But don’t worry, I’ll make dinner extra special as a reminder!

Now to plan dinner…. BAHAHAHA! (that’s my online version of evil laughter)

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I do not like you, selfish I am


Sooo…. I said I was doing that “Love Dare.” Did I happen to mention practicing patience and kindness is hard? (versus just saying you’d like to acquire those attributes) I’m a few days behind, but I’m trudging my way through it. And because just like using a recipe verbatim would probably kill me, I had to tweak a few of my daily challenges. Like the day the challenge was to buy my spouse a gift. There are a couple reasons I did not do this: 1)I’m trying to do the challenge on my whole family and 2) trust me when I say that hubbyman would think it a better gift that I DIDN’T spend the money than if I’d boughten him something. I did, however, make him a big batch of Snickerdoodle cookies- enough to share with coworkers! Which meant I stayed up until 2 am because I had to make them after getting the kids to bed. And cleaned up afterwards so he didn’t awaken to a kitchen that looks like a bomb may have exploded inside a vat of flour.

Back to “the dare” that I seem to be dragging my feet through: I have a confession… while in general, I love big, give freely, and have so much empathy that it’s almost a problem… sometimes I get spent.I forget to do things just for me, or to at least take a “time out” myself. And then I become…selfish. (*insert collective gasp here*) I know, right?! It’s awful and I’m not proud of it. It is, however, true. I start to feel taken for granted which leads to feelings of discontentment. And discontentment (for me) breeds anger. In the midst of my feelings I get so caught up in how things are affecting me that I fail to see the effect I’m having on my family. And lately I’ve been a bit caught up in this cycle. Because my daily life is so entirely about “the little things,” My days pretty much revolve around the dishes, the laundry, the meals…and I can very easily get caught up in the feelings of I do it all and nobody cares. Which if I were to be introspective at all, would leave me admitting that I’m really feeling inconsequential. Instead, I stick with anger. Like a long lost friend, there is some strange sort of comfort in being angry. It’s such a familial-feeling friend to fall in with. It whispers in your ear, “You deserve some appreciation, way more than you’re getting. Nobody else does what you want. You’re always doing what they want…” You know anger and anger knows you. This cycle has a lot to do with why I started the Love Dare to begin with. As old of a friend as anger is, I’d like to get reacquainted with some others, like the patience and kindness I’ve been saying I’m working on.

And so the dare continues and I read and I do what it says, but I’m not sure I’ve actually been working on my patience…or my kindness. Maybe on the surface, but not so much in the heart. In fact, I found myself growing MORE angry. And the more I read and the more the lessons said, “you may be feeling this way… try choosing to behave like this…” the more angry I felt. What if my anger is valid? (insert thought bubble: of course my anger is valid!) What if I had some major injustice done to me? (insert thought bubble: of course I’m justified in my feelings!) Surely this justifies some anger and discontent. Nonetheless, I kept reading and then came…maybe day 8? It talked about two rooms. One is where we put the praises of those we care for (spouse, children, friends, etc and the wonderful things they’ve done and said to/for/about us and our positive feelings about them) and the other is where we put the negatives (he said, “blah, blah, blah…” she said, “blah, blah, blah…” they did this to me, they said that to me…) And while compartmentalizing some things can be healthy…moving into a room of discontentment, of course, isn’t. The day’s pages were filled with things like, when you spend a lot of time in this room you may go there to pick your fights, to be reminded of why you’re mad, even to prepare yourself for battle. And I have to admit, I do this. I go over the list of transgressions that I’m so worked up over and prepare what I would say, or what I think I should say, or what I feel is deserved to be said… over and over. It can become compulsive, even. Yuck. And can I just say it’s a little bit maddening when the very thing (the day’s love dare lesson) that’s making me mad, totally has me pegged. Crap. But just to show it who’s boss I thought I’d wait a couple days before acknowledging that the words on the pages were real in my heart. Ridiculous, right?! Of course it is, but it’s honest.

And so I confessed some of the feelings of my heart to my husband. And instead of the dialogue I’d perfected in my head, back in that room, I found the opposite taking place. Instead of my anger spewing forth, my insecurities, my fears, and my real emotions came out in a way that was open, honest, and non-accusatory (maybe some of those lessons were sinking in after all!). And my husband…instead of the words my head had heard him responding with, well, he responded in…SHOCK. He had NO IDEA that I was feeling the way I was feeling. It turns out the anger I’d been carefully polishing and protecting, like a prized trophy, is hard to hold on to when someone is so surprised by the fact that you don’t think everything is wonderful, because THEY are really thinking things are (truly) wonderful, and that I knew how wonderful he thought it all was. I mean, it’s almost laughable. Here I was, stewing in discontentment that I was sewing into my own life… and there was my husband, looking at me with eyes that spoke volumes of love, compassion, and concern…along with some confusion. And of course, the negativity began to fall away… and so here I am sitting in another room. A room with warm, compassionate, thankful words on the walls. Walls that show examples of my children having patience with me. Words that show my husband making an effort to let me know he appreciate all the little things he does. Words and memories of all the wonderful, thoughtful things my family and friends do and have done. Some, even on a regular basis. So while I’m fighting the urge to roll my eyes at the sappy, corniness of some of the things this room has to say… I am humbled and appreciative that I have all these things to say about those that are closest to my heart. And I’m reminded of a phrase I was often told growing up, and have often repeated, “You cannot change others, you can only change yourself.” And while any life is going to have ups and downs and cycles that are forever repeated, today I am CHOOSING to think positive thoughts about those around me along with myself. I work hard to keep everyone clean, clothed, fed, and happy. Erik works hard to provide the means for all of that. And the kids work hard to be…kids! Learning and living, and really, trying to be good. And while it may not be true of everyone, today I am going to CHOSE to be motivated with kindness and patience towards everyone I come in contact with. (insert thought bubble: Can I spent the rest of the day in bed with the door locked?)

today’s mantra: My feelings, thoughts, and desires are not more important than yours.

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A stay at home feminist?


So, I love the books (well, her latest books anyhow) by Elizabeth Gilbert. I don’t always agree with all of her viewpoints and beliefs, but something in the way she writes strikes me, in way that kind of makes me want to be her friend. Well, her latest book: Commited, leaves me thinking a variety of things. She is so feministic that she has a hard time admitting aloud that her mother made her life BETTER by being a stay at home mom. And really the way she classifies ALL stay at home moms, leaves me… shaken. Maybe shaken isn’t the right word, maybe scattered is. While I do know that many women have sacrificed their careers for their families; I cannot accept that all of them have done it unwillingly and regretfully. I am fully aware we are all different creatures. Some women have no desire for marriage, some no desire for children… why is it then so surprising that there could be women who’s greatest desire is to have and raise children? Without assuming them devoid of all want of life and/or any other desire. As if they tried to muster up the courage for some world-changing, life altering passion and the most they could come up with was children. What repressed women they must be?! (insert dramatic eye roll here)

I support my “sisters.” My single sisters that just want to do it on their own and have no matrimonial desires- I support them! My married sisters who have decided that a husband and career are the life for them- I support them! My married, working mama sisters, who feel like their work gives them validation they’d never find at home- I support them! Encourage them! Without judgement (or pity! No thoughts that because they’re not doing it “my way” that they’re somehow devoid of the basic desires of a woman heart.)! Because I, in all my feminist form, believe that we are all different, have different desires, different cores of what we find fulfilling- and shouldn’t we all be able to live our lives accordingly, judgement free? Why is that favor not returned? I’m hoping that it’s just their way of protecting their validation towards their life choices, instead of an attack on mine. (we do seem to always want public validation for our choices, don’t we?)

While I have always wanted children, I truly never thought about whether I would stay home or have a job outside the home. It never crossed my mind. Not in high school, or even in college. In fact, in college, I’d probably have said I’d work outside the home, but just as an assumption, not because of a desire to put my life into my career.. Enter the year Big E was born… a neighbor ran a daycare for infants (and good ‘ol Navy housing had paper thin walls)- all I’d hear was those babies crying all day long! That’s when I knew that I WANTED to be the one at home with them. Trust me, if hubbyman could have been the one to stay home, he would have! (but also trust me on the fact that he’s now relieved it didn’t work out that way!) We believe it’s what’s best for OUR children. And really, it’s what’s best FOR ME. I want to do this. Not only does it afford me time to watch them grow, but I have really learned who I am and the things that I really want in life. That’s not to say my only ambition in life is to raise my children… I have other ambitions, and pursue them. And believe that if I felt like the desires of my heart were outside my home, that is where I would be. Were I in a career that I felt really completed the person I am, I would be investing my time in it.  It just happens that, for me, my GREATEST ambition, is raising my children. And today, I am frustrated that I feel the need to defend it. So sisters, as I am on the front lines with you for equality in every setting (not just the workplace), supporting that you have the right to be you, as equal to any other gender… please, be on the front lines with me- support that this is the best me I am. In my home, with my children. And it’s not any less valid and does not make me any less pro-woman to have made these choices. (Did I mention the need for public validation for choices…? apparently I am not immune either)

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