Intention in the Morning

"It is my personal approach that creates the climate. 
It is my daily mood that makes the weather... 
I possess tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. 
I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. 
In all situations, it is my response that decides whether the crisis will be escalated or 
de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized."
Haim Ginott

Sometimes I forget how important it is to have a minute or two or three to think in the morning of what kind of mother I want to be today.  If I start off without intention, without just a little time to remind myself of my purpose, I feel behind the ball and reactionary to every mood, issue, problem that crops up.  If I preserve a moment to remind myself of the bigger picture-that I am here to teach, to set the spirit, to create a happy, calm, patient, kind, loving environment, I can carry it through the day.  

I think children feel the "color" of their surroundings more than adults.  And children are at our mercy really...they look to us and follow our lead and example.  I can make or break a day for them.  Every moment is a teachable moment.  I'm human for sure, and often tired, and more than ever feeling a little scattered, but those precious moments in the morning can center me and help me create deliberate mothering.  I have to be better at making them a priority.


Ordinary Days

Janey found this stuffed bunny in her Easter basket.  Have you heard of Jellycats?  They are the softest stuffed animals I've ever felt and the Easter Bunny could not resist as much as she tried to.  Apparently there is a whole collection available and really who needs more stuffed animals, but still.  But STILL!  I had a white stuffed bunny collection when I was little and that became Abbey's white stuffed bunny collection and now of course Janey has the same love (parental inflicted of course) of white stuffed bunnies.

It took a day to transition from basketball to baseball in our house.  I had basketball burn out after the tournament so I was ready....ready for our big old plastic hoop to go down in the basement for awhile and stop cluttering up my living room.  Now it's just the pillow-bases and at least they match.


The boys came home from our neighbor's house all excited about the marble jar and it's potential.  I agreed to it-good deeds and good behavior lands you a marble.  (Found at Dollar Tree in the fake flower section.) When it's full it earns a trip to the toy store.  So far so good.  It sure makes bedtime easy.

Patrick's pet ant.  Remind me that this is as far as I'm going with pets for the rest of my life.  


A No-Recipe Meal- BBQ Chicken

Last week I brought you Easy Pork-Chops.  This is another one of those no-recipe, whip-together family dinners.

This week I bring you BBQ grilled chicken-in strips or in a sandwich.

I cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bun-size pieces and strips.  I marinated them in bottled BBQ sauce all day. (I usually do as much meal-time fixing in the morning as I can manage.)

I also made some hard-boiled eggs and refrigerated them for a salad later.

About 30 minutes before dinner, I cut up some new potatoes and put 1/4 stick of butter in a baking pan with them.  I sprinkled with garlic salt.  400 degrees for 30 minutes.  I stir a few times.

At dinner time, I threw the chicken on the grill.  I scavenged my fridge for salad fixings.  I almost always have Romaine hearts in my fridge and I happened to find some spinach, a cucumber, onion, and tomatoes.  I put some of the hard-boiled eggs and some grated cheese on top for a Chef's Salad.  I love homemade dressing and so I made this Greek Dressing.  It's so easy.  I don't even follow the recipe sometimes when I'm feeling lazy-I just use oil and vinegar as a base, and a little mustard, basil, and oregano.  It always turns out delicious.  Oh, and croutons.  A salad isn't a salad without croutons.

Some of us like chicken sandwiches:
Some of us like it plain dipped in ketchup or BBQ sauce:

The best part: I had leftover salad and chicken for lunch for Abbey and I the next day.


A No-Recipe Meal

One time I was reading one of my favorite blogs and in a post the blogger listed the meals she fed her family for the week.  The point of the post was sort of "I am not good at dinners, I never know what to make" but it was one of my favorite posts-because I got quite a few great ideas for those simple throw-together family meals-the kind we take for granted and 'think' we should be embarrassed by.  Grilled cheese and soup, muffin pizzas-that sort of thing.  I loved seeing what this other mother, halfway around the world, made for her family and not being overwhelmed by it.  It's SO nice and such a relief today to not be overwhelmed isn't it?

I think the most important thing about family meals is eating them together-or with as many children as it is possible to gather in between soccer and lacrosse and play practice-and I'm always hunting high and low to find meals that everyone will at least try.  Sometimes the simplest meals-the ones that I think to myself "this is so lame, it took no effort, Rachel or Paula or Ree or Giada would be horrified if they were spying in my window", the ones that are SO not blog worthy, the ones that don't even really need a recipe, are the ones that we moms might find the most helpful.  Especially during certain stages of our lives-with a baby in the house, or when life gets really busy-those times when following complicated recipes, or heck, any sort of recipe, is just about impossible.

So here is one of those no recipe, easy meals, and I have the intention (you probably know how my intentions sometimes pan out) of sharing more.

Easy Pork Chops

I used boneless, thin cut pork loin, about one and a half pounds, or eight cutlets.
For the breading I have used the following:

seasoned breadcrumbs
Panko crumbs
Shake n Bake
Ritz crackers smashed

For this meal, I only had a little of the first three so I mixed them all up together.
I cracked 4 eggs in a bowl and dipped each pork loin in the egg, and then followed that with a dip into the breading (I needed about 3 cups).  You can "shake" the pork loins in a bag but I like them heavily breaded so I really smoosh them into the crumbs on a plate.

I heat a large frying pan on high, with enough oil to cover just the surface of the pan.  Any oil will do.
Arrange pork in the pan when hot.
It took me about 4 minutes on each side to cook through.

We had plain egg noodles with butter (always a favorite with the younger crowd) and a side of canned pears.  


Rocking By The Window

"A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. 
You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world. 

But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after--oh, that's love by a different name. 

She is the babe you hold in your arms for an hour after she's gone to sleep. If you put her down in the crib, she might wake up changed and fly away. 

So instead you rock by the window, drinking the light from her skin, breathing her exhaled dreams. 

You heart bays to the double crescent moons of closed lashes on her cheeks. She's the one you can't put down."
.Barbara Kingsolver.

My friend Erin sent me that quote and I when I read it I immediately need to reach for some tissues.  How can you not?  It's so beautifully expressed-exactly how I feel about Janey.  

The last two weeks have been fussy-fussy by Janey's standards which are pretty good standards.  Lots of waking-quick naps-lots of nursing, lots of carrying around-me using one hand to make a sandwich, do the laundry, get dressed.  I look at what I need to get done and can only look-which gets frustrating sometimes, but not many times.  Years and years ago, it would have frustrated me so much more-now I think, "Oh what the heck, I'll get to it another day."  I make schedules and lists, thinking it will help me "catch up" only to rip them down and pitch them days later.  It doesn't matter.  Really, it doesn't.  Babies are so important-sure, there are other important things in life, but not much else.  Not much else at all.  

It's such a little minuscule bit of our lives that we have these little tiny ones-and such crucial years for them.  Some say the most important years and I believe them.    What can compare?  If I live to 100-and I'm planning on it-that's six years for my each of my babies that I've spent nursing and shushing and bouncing-even if you doubled that to include the next intense year of baby care, it's about 10% of my life.  10% for my babies-to hold, to cuddle, to soothe, to love tenderly.  I wouldn't trade that tiny bit-this precious gift of minutes and hours and days and months-for anything.

I learned quickly with my first, being amazed at how quickly a year, then another, and another-all eighteen of them-can come and go, that I want to do anything but rush this stage-or push it to the sidelines, or be frustrated by my inability to meet the demands of the outside world that is calling me away to do trivial things, or be distracted and occupied by life in general.  I do not want to forget to cherish these sweet baby moments-while time flies.


Spring Cleaning Guest Post

Have you started your spring cleaning yet?  Brandy from the cute (and very popular) blog Gluesticks put together some great posts with the best tips and tricks of the trade from fellow mom bloggers.  We all have busy families and lots of kids and so spring cleaning HAS to be practical and quick.  

Click the button below to check them all out.  I especially love this one on power cleaning. Mine is here..and I better go read it myself to get a little kick in the you-know-where.  During this season of my life, any project has to be done in little bits and pieces-in between naps and diaper changes and meals-or maybe just next year. :)


Sunshine and Basketball

We spent a week at my favorite place over spring break-Seaside, Florida-and even though this year the weather was a little temperamental  I loved every minute of it.  I hardly had my camera out of my suitcase the whole week-I still haven't figured out how to lug that thing around and hold onto Janey Pants-who is, of course, much more important than a camera.  I have very few photos but that's just the way life works sometimes I guess.

Our house this year was called Serendipity and had a ladder up to the very tippy top with a gorgeous view of the town.  It was high-scary high-and made me nervous.  The kids and Jeff loved it of course.

Yes that is a little sunburn, and yes I felt guilty. She had a hat on and I thought I was under the umbrella the entire afternoon, darn it.  She is my fairest baby and we were much more careful the rest of the days, cloudy or not.

After our week was up, we couldn't help but head to Atlanta to see my Uncle John coach Michigan in the Final Four and then the championship game.  How exciting!  All the wonderful articles that were written about him will be printed out and put into my kid's scrapbooks.  He truly truly is the man he is portrayed as.  (These were my favorite herehere and here and my cousin Ellen's blog here.)

We took some great pics with the players and got a few autographs.  The hotel was booked full with the team, their families, and Michigan alums and fans. 

Before the games, fans bid farewell as the coaches and players board the bus to the arena.

I took this picture only because the abs are pretty darn inspirational I must say.  Such cute cheerleaders.

We had three tickets and Jeff, Abbey and Matt went to both games.  I stayed back at the hotel with the little ones and we had our own party.
Jeff took these pics at the game:

That's Zak Novak who graduated last year.  Isn't he cute?

And I took these pics at the hotel:

Poor Patrick conked out before each game.  Andrew and I and Janey cheered as quietly as possible.  After the final game, Andrew cried a few sweet tears of sadness and disappointment.  And then we ALL fell asleep.
We were so sad they lost, but heck, they made it to the end and that's something.

After 12 nights away from our own beds, I was ready for the long car ride back.

I have loads and loads of laundry to do, and some schedules and routines to re-establish but what a nice break.  Still, there is nothing like absence to make the heart grow fonder of home sweet home.