Hunger strike

Reel Baby is now a Reel Toddler. He talks nonstop even though most of it is gibberish. He is prone to frustrated screams and went from eating almost anything you put in front of him to refusing everything. He shakes is head no and spits food out. Yesterday’s love will be tomorrows hate.

It didn’t not take long for me to realize this is part of the gig with a toddler. There is something about realizing that you are an independent person  that inspires a fierce desire to push back. And when meal time rolls around pushing back is the main experience. I admit that I am weird about his food. I want it to be healthy and I try very hard to make sure he has fresh food. I make as much as I can from scratch but sometimes you have to go with what works and for our picky toddler here are some of the stuff that “works” for him.

If you are going through this stage these might give you some ideas to try or if you have been here and have some advice I would love to hear it.

1. Baby Food Pouches

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 EJ will NOT let me feed him anymore. He is way too independent for that kind of momma help. He bats the spoon away or grabs it out of my hand. Which results in puree everywhere and even in places the dogs will not clean up. But, he also hasn’t gotten the spoon down enough to not spill  puree everywhere. Now I hand him a pouch and voila he can drink it. Plus, he gets veggies which is something I have always struggled with getting him to eat.

2. Yogurt Smoothies

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Another item that he can drink. I just pour it into a sippy cup and off he goes. I buy the Yo Baby simply because it is full fat milk and my kid is skin and bones. We need all the fat we can get. I have some great recipes for homemade smoothies but it tends to make too much and a big mess so I just buy it, I know lazy.

3. Homemade Muffins.
I can throw anything in these muffins… veggies, fruits, whole wheat flour and he will eat them. Instead of oil I use applesauce, I always use regular butter and Greek yogurt works well instead of sour cream. I make a big batch and freeze them in a Ziploc bag. Pop it the microwave for 10 secs you have quick and easy snack or breakfast.

4. Breakfast Casserole Muffins
I discovered over Christmas that EJ loves our family holiday casserole. It is nothing more than bread, eggs, milk, a bit of butter, cheese and ham. It’s easy and good but makes a huge casserole dish full. It would take him months to eat a whole one and for some reason its doesn’t work to make a small batch. One of my favorite food blogs sent out this recipe and it got my brain working. I adapted it to my Mom’s classic dish and it was perfect. Again freeze what you don’t eat and you have an easy meal full of protein and tasty enough to inspire a picky toddler to ask for more.

The one thing I have learned is adapting any and everything so that it is in a form that he can handle and feed himself. Independence is key.

OK,  Mommas what are your tricks? I would love to hear them!

Dancing in the Rain

This is one amazing woman, I dare you to read her blog

 Have you stopped and looked at life through your child’s eyes? Really paused and tried to see the world the way they do? I try really hard to pause and soak in the wonder of playing in the rain or the first taste of chocolate milk. But, the business of life robs me of this act more than I would like to admit.

Our to-do list couldn’t be longer and the reality that our family’s fall seems to be busier than our summer this year doesn’t help. I seem to be drowning in world of boxes, touch-up painting and cleaning out.  Instead of seeing the joy in my son’s eyes as he climbs in out of a big box or dumping my freshly folded laundry on the floor I find myself boiling over with annoyance. Selling a house is hard work but needed. Is it imperative that we sell it? Absolutely not. Will it make our lives easier to move out to the suburbs? Certainly. We are just throwing our hat in the ring and seeing what happens but I am overachiever. If I am going to do something then I put 110% effort into and do it right.

I broke down this week and ugly cried for hours… like snotty, stressed ball of mess. Along with getting our house sell ready, I also decided to move the baby boy to a toddler bed. Mr. Monkey Man climbs right out of his crib with zero effort and does what he wants. Banging his head on our hard wood floor haunted me so onto the toddler bed we went and it was awesome… for about 2 weeks. He slept better than he has slept in months. And then a switch flipped and refused to stay in bed would trash his room, play and scream for hours. Well the screaming has about sent me to a mental institution.

Last night, I screamed “uncle” and put the crib back together in hopes of resetting that switch. He has at least forgotten how to climb out of the crib for now. My plan is that he will learn to sleep again, recover from the sheer exhaustion of many sleepless nights and then we will retry the toddler bed. Hopefully with more success this time. The house is getting there and I even got the hubs to agree to spend all weekend helping me get this house in ship shape. We are getting there slowly but surely and I am just excited to see the light at the end of this tunnel.

This Thursday, I am thankful for loving supportive families. One that offers to drive hours to take a child for a few nights so that you can breathe and get some sleep even if they know I will not take them up on it. A husband who tries to see life from my perspective even if he doesn’t really get it. A perfectly beautiful son whose zest for life is intoxicating. Whether it be dancing in the rain, eating his Great Grandma’s homemade fried chicken or telling me who’s really boss when it comes to bedtime, I am so thankful for his energy for life even if it leaves me exhausted.

So this week, vow to be a cliche. Stop and smell the roses or dance in the rain. It is those little wonders that can turn an ordinary day extraordinary.

Dancing in the Rain in his brand new rain coat.
No, you may not take my chicken bone, its way too yummy!
I want to be just like my Daddy!
Yes, I am a Monkey… that’s all.

The Momma Chef

I am a football widow. Don’t get me wrong, I love cheering on my Vols and have a special place in my heart for any college football. I grew up in Tennessee when the Titans were still living big in Texas and sporting the Oilers on their jerseys. Tennessee finally got their act together when I started college and who cares about Pro when you get free tickets in Neyland stadium every week to watch the Vols destroy their apposing team? We used to be good, you just wait Rocky Top will be great again.

But, you see Reel Daddy lives for all things football. We watch any and every game, even random schools I have never heard of. And thanks to fantasy football, we cheer on various players all day Sunday and Monday night. I don’t get it. But, I try to understand it for my husband. I try to support his love for the sport and the best way I know how is setting the game time mood with a festive meal. So for all you football widows here’s a meal for you… quick, easy and above all delicious.

A Duo of Chicken Pizzas
BBQ & Buffalo 

A few notes before we get started, I make my own pizza dough. If you have a bread machine, its beyond easy. I prefer to make it myself because I use half whole wheat flour and half white. If you want the recipe for the dough let me know in the comments and I will add it. If you are too busy to make your own dough most bakeries at your local grocery store sell it, just ask at the counter. Or call your favorite pizza joint, most are more than willing to sell you a few pounds of dough.
I have a pizza stone and I do not think it makes a huge difference. Maybe its my oven, but I find it to be more of a hassle than a help. So I typically do not use it.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza
1 large chicken breast grilled and sliced
1/2 pound of pizza dough
3/4 cup of your favorite Hot Sauce (I use Crystals)
1 stick of butter
1 tsp white vinegar
1/4 cup of Ranch dressing
2 cups shredded Mozzarella or 1 cup Mozzarella and 1 cup crumbled Blue Cheese 
2 cups of chopped Romain Lettuce
1/2 large onion sliced
A dash of white sugar

(1)Roll out your dough. I roll it right into a square cookie pan. Using a pastry brush, brush a thin layer of good olive oil and sprinkle a bit of sugar right on the dough. Set it aside and let the dough rise for a few minutes. (2) Melt the stick of butter in the microwave and add the Hot sauce to it. Whisk in the vinegar and taste. If it is too hot for you add a little more vinegar. If it needs some more heat add some more hot sauce. (3) Spread 1/4 cup of Ranch and 1/4 cup of Hot Sauce on the dough, Mix sauces together with a spoon, you will want a thin layer all the way around the pizza. (4) Spread 1 cup of Mozzarella on top of sauce. (5) In a separate bowl toss the sliced chicken in 1/4 cup of wing sauce and then layer the chicken and onions on top of the cheese. (6) Spread either the 1 cup of Mozzarella or 1 cup Blue Cheese on top of the chicken and onions. (7) Take a spoon and drizzle the wing sauce on the pizza. (8) Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees. (9) Before serving sprinkle a layer of lettuce on top.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

1 large chicken breast grilled and sliced
1/2 pound of pizza dough
1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
2 cups shredded Mozzarella 
1/2 large purple onion sliced
A dash of white sugar

(1)Roll out your dough. I roll it right into a square cookie pan. Using a pastry brush, brush a thin layer of good olive oil and sprinkle a bit of sugar right on the dough. Set it aside and let the dough rise for a few minutes. (2) Spread 3/4 cup of BBQ sauce on the dough. You will want a thin layer all the way around the pizza. (3) Spread 1 cup of Mozzarella on top of sauce. (4) Layer the chicken and onions on top of the cheese. (5) Spread the additional cup of Mozzarella on top of the chicken and onions. (6) Take a spoon and drizzle the BBQ sauce on the pizza. (7) Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Serve with your favorite local brew. I promise any football fan will appreciate the good food while they cheer on their favorite team.

GOOO ROCKY TOP!

Our list

Yesterday afternoon baby boy and I walked outside. After a day of cleaning, laundry and indoor living I decided that the afternoon rain may have cooled the world down just enough to enjoy some time on our swing set.

As we walked outside I took a deep breathe of fresh air and as I exhaled I noticed something. I noticed the faint smell of fall in the air.  Inhaling again just to make sure, I realized that Fall was indeed in the air. Yes, it is still very warm outside but the days are becoming slightly shorter and the evenings just a bit brisker. All signs that Fall is indeed on it’s way.

Fall is truly one of my favorite seasons. Fall means football, pumpkins, apple cider and so much more.  In anticipation of this new season I have made us a bucket list for the fall. Just a few dreams and plans for us to fill our weekends with as we enjoy eat other and a new season.

Our Fall

~ Pick pumpkins at a real pumpkin patch
~ Take EJ on his first hayride
~ Get professional family photos outside
~ Host a tailgate party with some of our closest friends
~ Introduce EJ to our favorite sport, football
~ Make homemade s’mores on our fire pit
~ Carve pumpkins together as a family
~ Make a Homemade Pumpkin Cake
~ Take EJ trick or treating

Here’s a flashback to Fall 2009 

What are your plans for Fall 2010?

Mommy needs a Martini

Once upon a time in a big southern city lived a young, energetic event planner. She spent her days planning parties and counting down until her next vacation. Such a workaholic was she, but once the day was over she relaxed. She drank wine, she vacationed across America, she knew how to be still. She learned the art of turning her brain off and relishing in a good old fashion chick flick.

One day she woke up with prince charming by her side and a sweet babe sleeping next door. She was living her fairy tale. But with this fairy tale came a new set of stresses; a different life all together. She received the gift of spending her days making sure her babe was clean, happy and full and those former workaholic ways started to resurface.  But with this job there is no PTO and there is no closing up shop for the day. This job is 7 days a week, 24 hours a day and this girl turned momma has found herself a bit haggard.

Learning that there is such a thing as clean enough, that there will always be more laundry, that take out is OK sometimes and that my version of supermom is a bit lofty and tad unrealistic has been a major issue. My house is really clean, the babe is fast asleep and instead of stopping for a lunch break I caught myself stressing about laundry. Yes, there are at least 5 loads to do. Yes, I need to put away clothes and do something about the clothes that fall out of the closest when I open the door. But, waiting until after lunch is OK.

Why was I so good at managing my time when I paid to do it and so bad it in my new role? Why do I put so much pressure on myself to justify my life at home by being the perfect housewife? Why can’t I turn my brain off?

So today I am vowing to give myself some PTO, to relax a little more and realize that laundry and dishes can wait just like clients and flowers did once upon time. Today this Mommy is watching a silly movie and drinking some tea. Then tonight she is toasting to her Prince Charming with a stiff Martini while the baby is in bed.

Before

I really don’t remember life before…life before Reel Daddy. I remember meeting him, I remember seeing him and thinking to myself “He’s really good looking” and I remember the days, months and years after.

But, what I can’t remember is making through a day without thinking about him, kissing him and just spending time with him. It is strange to think that there was life before him and it was good but just not as great as it now. It is strange to think how I went from being nervous about what to wear around him to having him hold my numb leg up while I pushed our son out.

Before us there was no EJ, no silly puggle named Bruno. There were a lot of pieces missing. Here I was walking through life thinking it was good yet having no idea how good it was going to be. I had no idea that I would form my own arm of our family clan. I had plans to do it and dreamed about it but I no idea the beauty of what was to come.

Family is the greatest gift of life. There is nothing like spending a few days with all the people that you love to remind you just how blessed you are.

This Thursday I am reminded of the gift of family. Immediate and extended. Near and far. I am so thankful to a part of great, big family and I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

Isn’t he handsome? Taken at the begining of the night we met. 
 Our first concert together, the first of many.

Where I have been.

I know, I know its been a whole week since you all saw my face. I am very sorry but I had a very important wedding to travel to, attend and then recoup from. It was one heck of a party that lasted for days. There is always something about going back to a familar place, my former home, the place I grew up that makes my heart smile. I got to stand next to an old friend and watch her marry my brother.  I got to watch great grandparents spend hours attending to my baby boy. I got to sleep in because family was lined up to take care of the babe. I got to watch my son get spoiled and loved on by half the city. I got to spend an evening with just my husband and even found time to take nap. It was glorious. I loved every minute if it. I am even a little homesick. Here is a selection of the many photos that were taken this weekend. Congrats Marion & Robert!

Gammie juice, it’s “thier secret” and we caught her!
My beautiful family, can you tell we had a good time the night before? The bride and groom sure did throw a good party.
This is probably my favorite picture. So sweet.

My story


Fall of my freshman year was starting. I was going through the normal pains that one deals with at 14 when they walk the halls of high school for the first time. The clock starts counting down to college, high school sororities enter the picture, football, insecurities, emotional imbalances… life is full of enough questions and thoughts adding Cancer to the picture was almost too much to stomach.

It came out of nowhere a routine mammogram just a few short weeks away from a big overseas trip. Honestly, I do not even think I knew my grandmother was going in for it but it wasn’t long before I knew the result. The story goes that she had the xray and went to the waiting room to wait for the result. After being there for a bit too long my grandfather suddenly appears. He is a doctor and as many people have told me through the years “he’s not just my boss, he’s my boss’s boss”.  She knew something had to be wrong when he walked through the door. It’s breast cancer.

Breast Cancer? No, that can’t be right. This my vibrant grandmother that picks me up all the time, takes me shopping and to plays. She plays on the floor with me and teaches me how to clean and cook. We bake bunny cakes for Easter and she get’s all the supplies together so Granddaddy and I can win science fairs and paint pumpkins. She can not be sick with cancer.

I remember sitting in Algebra staring out the window the day she had surgery watching the clock, I knew she was in, I knew she was having mastectomy. I couldn’t listen. I was not in class, really. I was  pleading with God to not take her away from us. I wanted her at my wedding, I needed her to meet my kids, I was not letting her go.

We were lucky our stint with the cancer moster was short. They caught it early, they aggressively attacked it. It did not spread. I remember the day my Grandfather ran through the door with the pathology reports… it’s gone. We opened a bottle of champagne right then. We toasted to life and modern medicine and the look of love and relief on their faces was vivid.

This tale has a happy ending, we passed the five year mark many years ago. I get to tell tales of reconstructive surgery and insurance company bull shit. We get to laugh about how when she had the chance to be a bigger cup size she decided not to go for it. But, let it be a lessons to all my friends, my readers to not take advantage of your health. Go to the doctor for routine checkups and tests. I know they may seem unnecessary, you feel fine. But, so did she. The year before there was nothing there to even keep an eye on. A year later it was rapidly spreading cancer. And, to me at least, that is just scary.

Running to September 30th

Today, I crawled out of bed at 6:45am stumbled to the bathroom and got dressed. I stole the Reel Daddy’s Iphone and hit the pavement. It was hot. It was sticky. It was early.

I owned GetRunning as I successfully completed my first run of Couch to 5k. I wanted to hurl at least once, I was bored with his music, but I kept going and even ended the run going up a really big hill. I hit it hard and sprinted through the final 30 secs.

Do I feel awesome? Not really. Do I have a natural high? Nope. Will I do it again on Wednesday? You betcha.

I do not know when I got this out of shape but it sucks and until September 30th you will see automatic updates on twitter that I completed the run 3 days a week early in the morning. Excuses are not allowed. If I go a week and those updates did not appear 3 times someone better call my butt out. Because I am a lot happier when I am in shape and eating right. Veggies, lean protein, fruit. This is my new life. And I am in it to WIN it.