Things I love about being a mom…

As any momma knows…this parenting gig is hard.  It doesn’t matter if you have one, two or ten kids.  If you have a child that sleeps like a dream or one that revolts at the thought of sleep.  If you have been a mom for two weeks or twenty years.  If you work outside the home, stay home or land somewhere in between.  If you have a bunch o’ money or are scraping the bottom of the barrel.

It’s hard.

Hard, oh really?
Hard, oh really?

I’ve been at this mom gig for almost 9 months now…to one fabulous little boy…who does not sleep like a dream, but I guess he could be worse.  He’s been walking for almost a month; that makes things challenging/interesting/fun/hard.  I land somewhere in between with work – working part time with part of my part time being at home (which sounds awesome…and sometimes is…but sometimes isn’t) and then working a couple hours two nights a week as a personal trainer (so does that mean I work like 3/4 time total?) – definitely not having a bunch o’ dollars, but we have a comfortable home that I love and we can pay our bills.

There are days that pass by faster than I can blink and I am left mourning the fact that my little boy is growing SO FAST.  Then there are days that drag so slow I am constantly looking at my watch to see the minutes tick by as we wait for nap time, and then when dada comes home, and then sweet, oh sweet, bedtime.

But after having a rough night last night and first couple of hours of the day (seriously, little mister woke up on the wrong side of the crib this morning and then when I brought him to bed with me to snuggle and sleep for another hour or two after dada goes to work as is our usual routine, he tossed, turned, kicked, pulled my hair, grabbed my nose, bit my chin, etc for the longest time…we maybe dozed for 20 minutes…and then it took him a good couple hours to find his normal pleasant disposition) I paused for a few minutes to reflect on the joys that I have found and the things I love about being a mom…

…and then the little monster mister work up.  After my first typed sentence.  He woke up SCREAMING.  And screamed, and screamed.  And saw the neighbor pull into his driveway…and he craned his neck to look to see if his dada would come out of the car.  And screamed when the neighbor did.  And then finally dada pulled in the driveway, took him into his arms, and all was well with the world.

Dada for the win.

So five hours later I can sit down – after leaving dada at a game night with some friends because it was little mister’s bedtime and it was impossible for me to set him down in a different room with the laughter and occasional barking dog.  He didn’t want to miss the party.  So I left…and now, sweet silence.  I can write…

Without further ado…the things I love about being a mom:

– Little mister’s smile. Y’all that thing can melt my stone-cold heart in .000312 seconds flat.  It’s an arbitrary number

– The way he looks peacefully sleeping, all snuggled in my arms

– How he sometimes wraps his arm around me when he curls up next to me in the morning for our last hour or two of sleep

– His laugh.  It’s delightful

– The mom community I have been invited into.  My church does an awesome job of supporting mamas – in our mom2mom group that meets biweekly during the school year and coming this year in the MOPS group that will be meeting on the off weeks – and they provide childcare for it.  Tuesday mornings…if you are in the Auburn Hills, MI area you should definitely come!

– Nursing…I think if it wasn’t for nursing my active little mister wouldn’t stop for a moment during the day to cuddle

– Watching him explore the world around him and make new discoveries (like cool whip finger paint:)

finger paint

– His little arms stretched up to me, wanting me – even if it often feels like an inconvenience

– The faces he makes

– Listening to dada pray over him at night

– His excitement when you come home from being gone ten minutes or ten hours

– The fact that my little mister LOVES to be outside

– Knowing that, for at least this moment in time, dada and I are his favorite people in the world

It is such a privilege to be called mom (and I love the fact that he is starting to say “mama” and “dada” – legitimately, although not all the time).  The late nights, early mornings, not being sure when night became morning, messes, loaded diapers, endless laundry, frustrations, etc pale in comparison to the precious times with my baby boy and watching my hubby have those moments too.  Being a mom…it’s a hard job…but a job I love.

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Recipe: Venison Soup

Seriously y’all this is probably the best soup I have ever made.  The story goes like this: one day I wanted soup.  I didn’t have the ingredients for my normal chicken noodle – no chicken, no noodles…makes things impossible.  So I just used what I had and threw some soup together.  It was Uh-Maze-Ing.  I wrote it down, so I wouldn’t forget.  It’s been a few months since I whipped up this pot o’ deliciousness, but I thought I’d share:

Venison (or beef if you are fresh out o’ venison) Soup:

1. Brown 1 pound of ground venison (or beef) with 4 large, coarsely chopped garlic cloves

2. Add 2 quarts of broth or water with soup base & carrots (I slice up between 4 & 6 whole carrots…however much I feel like)…bring to a boil

3. Add peas (I use a single serving pea packet, but add whatever you feel like!), small shells (I use a half to 2/3 of a box), dried minced onion (probably a tablespoon or so), a can of great northern beans & fresh chopped parsley.  Cook until pasta shells are done.

I wish I could share a picture with y’all, but it is going to be just about 90 degrees and humid today so there will be no soup in this house!  I’ve also diced up a potato or two and added that, but usually not.  Amounts are to taste & preference, but is is DELISH!  I probably made this every other week over the winter.  AND it was super easy to make with a newborn around!

Anyone have an easy, but non-spicy, go-to soup recipe that I can add to my collection for the fall?

Recipe: Nutella & Sea Salt Stuffed Sugar Cookies

Some time ago I stumbled upon this recipe for Nutella & Sea Salt Stuffed Sugar cookies on pinterest and a few links and clicks led me to Cookin Canuck’s site.  I consider myself somewhat of a cookie snob – I love to bake and grew up baking and have my favorites.  Let me tell y’all this is probably my absolute favorite cookie.  I have made it probably more times than any cookie now except no-bakes, because those are just so doggone easy, fast and require no oven on a hot day.  Over the many times I have made these I found ways to simplify the original process of making them to get them to my belly even quicker 🙂  So without further ado…enjoy!

Nutella & Sea Salt Stuffed Sugar Cookies:

Ingredients:

Jar of Nutella (not a whole jar…but at least a half cup left in the bottom!)

2.5 cups all purpose flour (I use King Arthur Unbleached White Whole Wheat flour in all of my baking)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1.5 cups plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided (I always use cane sugar as beet sugar is genetically modified)

14 tbsp (1.75 sticks) butter, softened

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla (confession: I never measure vanilla, I just dump)

1 tbsp sea salt

Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grab a spoon and scoop Nutella into 1 teaspoon-ish mounds.  Drop them onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  You’ll need 3 dozen Nutella mounds.  I usually get 34-36 cookies so if you have a couple mounds left over you can just feel free to eat them!  Pop the cookie sheet into the freezer while you make the sugar cookie dough.

nutella1

2. Beat butter and 1.5 cups of sugar with electric mixer on medium until the mixture is creamy and fluffy…at least 3 minutes.  Trust me…put it on medium and let it go for the full time…up to 4 or 5 minutes.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  The original recipe says one at a time…I just pull ’em out of the fridge, crack them both open and drop them in with the vanilla…beating it all together at once.

3. Add flour, baking powder and salt (I never sift mine together before) and mix until just combined.

Now comes the fun part:

4. Place a dusting of flour on your countertop since the dough will be slightly sticky.  Roll balls somewhere about the size of a ping pong ball but smaller than a golf ball (two tablespoon-ish size probably).  As you roll each ball, make a nice big indent with your thumb in each one before setting them on your counter.  Make about 3 dozen of these (use up all the dough).

nutella2

5. Grab the Nutella mounds out of the freezer and quickly drop one mound into each indent.  See how fast you can do it, because they will start to thaw quite quickly and will get messier as you get to the last few!  Next take your sea salt and sprinkle a little bit on top of each Nutella mound.

6. Now pinch the sides of the indent over the Nutella mound, rolling the dough in your hands to seal up the Nutella inside the dough.  Roll each ball (they will probably be golf ball size-ish now) in the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

7. Bake until the edges are set 10-13 minutes…in my oven 11 seems to be about perfect.  I pull them out just as the edges show a tiny hint of brown…I don’t like them to actually brown.  I pull the cookies off to cool on a cut up paper grocery bag…it helps soak up excess grease.  I rarely use a wire rack for cooling.

nutella3

8. EAT THEM!

“I just found it on Pinterest”

He came into the room a few days ago and started rummaging through the closet.  He was looking for a shirt with yellow underarm stains.  He found one – a thin long sleeve white shirt I have had for years and the underarms had begun to yellow a bit over time.  He yanked it out of the closet asking if he had any hydrogen peroxide.

Yes, in the laundry room cabinet.

A little while later I found him throwing things into the washer to start a load of laundry.  Then a few hours later (a few hours because we can never seem to notice when the washing machine is done…so it sits there for a few before hitting the dryer) he brought me my shirt.

“How does it look?” he asked me, eyes dancing with excitement.

“It looks great honey!” I replied.

He took me into the kitchen where he had set up his little station with dawn dish soap, peroxide and washing soda (because he couldn’t find the baking soda) and a toothbrush.  He took his time to explain to me the process and what he had to do.  “It works on underarms and you know the ring I get around the collar of my polo & dress shirts…it should work on that too!” he let me know.

“Where did you learn this?” I asked.

“Pinterest.”

“No, seriously…who taught you how to do this?”

“Pinterest.”

“You mean you went on pinterest??” (Because the world knows that the average guy thinks pinterest is just for housewives and other women longing for ridiculous ideals that we will never achieve…aka: a nonsense waste of time.)

“I don’t have a pinterest account.”

“You went on my pinterest?”

“No, I just found it on pinterest.”

And he walked away.

Ladies and gentlemen…my husband is now an unofficial fan and user of pinterest.

Baby puffy-things review

Now that the little mister is a little older (7.5 months already…how did that happen??) we have entered the solid food stage.  He still doesn’t have any teeth but he is a champ at gumming things and my little boy can EAT.  I am already fearing my grocery bill during his teenage years.

I know people who did just store bought purees, others who fed all homemade purees, others who swear by baby led weaning and then others like me who just fall into a fun hybrid of it all.  I bought some jars of organic baby food for convenience when traveling or out of the house.  I made some of my own. I have some of those squeeze packets that little man LOVES to suck from…he has a fascination with straws currently. I feed him a lot of what we are eating and just put it on his highchair for him to feed himself while we are eating.  We explore different foods and textures.  We make messes and we have fun.  He’s tried Kibbeh (and loved it…score a win on him liking Middle Eastern food!), barbecued chicken, meatballs, steamed broccoli, baked potatoes, mashed/pureed carrots, carrots from a roast dinner, yogurt, freeze dried yogurt ‘melts’ that remind me of astronaut ice cream, all sorts of fruit (he loves bananas!), and more.  Then there are those cereal puff things.  He loves them and they are so easy to put in a container and take on the go.

We’ve tried most of the organic brands available here outside of the Gerber Organic puffs because Kroger doesn’t sell them…I have to go to BRU for those and usually buy a different kind that I can also only get there.  Here’s my review/take on them:

Happy Baby: we’ve tried the sweet potato, greens and apple flavors.  The Happy Puffs brand is a little more bland than the other two on the list.  They were the first ones we tried (greens to be exact…spinach and whatever else they put in it).  The apple were my least favorite with the sweet potato being my favorite of the three – and Joshua seemed to eat those the fastest as well.  They do go stale faster than the other brands…probably because if you are not careful the top can look like it is closed, but may not be fully clicked shut.  They are also probably the largest in size.

Earth’s Best Organic: peach yogurt and blueberry yogurt flavors.  We found these to be pretty yummy.  Medium sized and the slowest to develop a stale taste – the top seals better than the Happy Puffs.

Plum Organics: spinach and apple flavor.  These were hands down the best tasting.  Seriously so good…I would eat them for breakfast if they actually had any substance to them.  However they have a HUGE drawback which has stopped me from buying and trying their other 4 flavors.  They were the smallest and most delicate puffs and half of them were broken and crumbled in the container.  This makes it really hard for a baby to pick up a piece that is so small.  I can the frustration for him.  I was left with a lot of crumbles on the high chair or floor as he would sweep them off.  So I probably won’t be picking any more of these up.

Plum Organics were also the most expensive per ounce at my local stores.  Earth’s Best was in the middle, followed by  Happy Baby being the cheapest.  I’ll likely stick with sweet potato Happy Baby and Earth’s Best for the brief time that I’ll be giving them to the little guy.  On another note…it has helped him with his fine motor skills development as he is given a lot of opportunity to practice grabbing and using his thumb and index finger to grab…and he is getting pretty good at it!