Pieces of Me

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Learning things the hard way

Hannah has been taking piano for a little over a year.  She has excelled fairly quickly and although it hasn’t been easy to get her to practice, she has never struggled to learn a new song.  Until this week.  I don’t know if it’s because we took a week break from piano, if it’s because school started yesterday and she’s exhausted, or if she just can’t figure it out, but today’s piano practice has been horrifying.  So horrifying that I sent her to her room for screaming at me.  So horrifying that tears are being shed (by her) because she “CAN’T DO IT.” 

I’m still learning not to let her quit.  I don’t know if I can handle tears every day because I’m MAKING her practice.  Shouldn’t she enjoy it?  Shouldn’t she want to practice?  I want her to enjoy an extra curricular activity.  I want her to like playing the piano.  I don’t want her to play the piano because I make her. 

When does a mom know when to stop the madness?  I mentioned to her that if it was going to be this hard every day to get her to practice, we weren’t going to take lessons anymore.  That suggestion alone sent her over the edge.  Then I just told her I needed a break from her crying and left her alone.  What did she do?  She sat down, stopped crying, and played her songs. 

I guess I’m just going to have to give her time and trust her.  I can’t make  her like something, but I can’t take something away from her that she loves.  And she obviously loves taking piano lessons.  She’s just hit a point in her learning where she’s being challenged.  And she needs to be challenged. 

And I need to be patient.   Some things you have to learn the hard way.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

That's MISTER Evil Doctor Pork Chop to you!

No, actually, it’s just Buzz Lightyear – at the Lego Store.
My son has become a bit obsessed.  Grandpa stated the other day, “I haven’t seen any boy so into Buzz Lightyear in several years, I’d say 7.”  That is when our nephew, Tyler, was 4 years old.  And every bit crazy about Buzz as Cayden. 
It’s fun to see Cayden’s eyes light up the moment we start talking about Toy Story.  He talks to fast that one cannot understand him at all.  It’s just a blur of words.  When he plays, it’s Toy Story – whether he’s turning his toy dinosaur into Rex (because we don’t have the real Rex) or he’s brought out Hannah’s old Mr. Potato Head to set up and play with.  And I admit it, we have bought nearly all of the $5 toys (one at a time, about 2-3 weeks apart from one another).  But he, all on his own, pulled out the dinosaurs and Mr. Potato Head.  Mammaw bought him the “bigger” Buzz as well as a bucket of soldiers. 
Those were perfect for a while.  Until Aunt Bekah mentioned she had a Blue Buzz (Special Addition) at home that, wait for it. . . . TALKED!!  And had a laser (it’s really just a tiny light bulb, mommy).  Oh how we waited for nearly 2 weeks before we got to hold Blue Buzz!  And then, I don’t think a minute in an entire day went by without playing with him – even sleeping with him.  Life for this little boy was amazing!!
Until. . . . we made a trip to the Lego Store at the mall.  There’s a giant Woody in the window.  And the day we went, they were having a Lego event where children were actually able to contribute to building the giant Buzz Lightyear.  Which was awesome!  And exciting, not just for my little boy, but also Hannah and my two older nephews.  They were in “Lego Heaven” as my sister-in-law calls it. 
And later this week, we went and saw the finished Buzz.  Cayden just kept screaming, “BUZZ LIGHTYEAR!!!  BUZZ LIGHTYEAR!!!”  Even in the photo.  There are a couple of Legos sets that he’s just a tad bit interested in.  And I think it’s incredibly cool that they make the playsets in the DUPLO style.  Just big enough for my boy. 
But for now, he has to dream a bit longer.  That boy has too many toys as it is!
legos1 legos7055057

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Fix It – What a Cutie!

I have discovered a photography web site that I think will continue to help me develop my photography skills,  iheartfaces  Every week they provide a photo to “fix” for their followers.  I’ve decided to join in on the fun and gave it a shot.  This photo was very hard for me to edit.  I tried a number of things before I decided on an action, an additional layer, and less opacity.


Here’s what I did.  I used PSCS 3 – Coffeeshop’s Moody Pop  and Perfect Portrait Actions.  Then I added MCP Take Action on Cancer Awareness Action for the B&W.  Love how it’s soft but not vintage!

ff copy ff copybw

If this were my son, I’d be very pleased with the photo (either way)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

And she’s 7

Hannah Birthday 077 copy

7 is so close to 10.  It’s so far away from 5.  It’s really far away from a baby.  But she’s still my baby girl.  And she’s 7 years old.  I’m still trying to figure out how and when that all happened.  7 years old.  Starts 2nd grade in 1 1/2 weeks.  Loves to swim, dance, and play the piano. 

I still can’t believe that she used to be this tiny:


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Super Fun Dinners

My kids are not picky eaters.  I’m very blessed to have children who will usually eat what is put in front of them.  And they always eat better for other people.  Ask Dorothy to share that story with you :)

This week I decided to pull out new cookbook.  A friend gave me Cooking for Kids WINNING RECIPES as a thank you for hosting her baby shower.  I admit it, when I got home, it just went on the shelf with all the cookbooks.  Then for some reason, I pulled the cookbook down to go through it.  LOTS of fun ideas for not just dinner, but every meal under the sun – breakfast, snacks, lunch, desserts, and dinner.  I decided to sit down and plan a week of meals from the cookbook and see what happened. 

Although I had complete control over the menu, I let the kids decide which day we ate what.  I cooked more this week than I think I have in a while (actually I cooked more new things.  We usually eat the same things every week – pretty boring around here).

Here is what we came up with:

Cayden’s Choice – Sloppy Joe Race Cars

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 tbs. olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, sliced
    • 2 pounds ground turkey or ground beef
    • 1 jar (1 lb 10 oz) RAGU ROBUSTO Pasta Sauce (for this, I substituted Salt Lick BBQ Sauce since Cayden can’t have tomato)
    • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 2 tbs sweet pickle relish (omitted, forgot to buy)
    • 8 hero rolls (we used whole wheat)
    • Race Car Garnishes – mini pretzel twists for steering wheel, zucchini or cucumber for wheels attached to thin pretzel sticks, radish for the driver – (FYI, I didn’t do this.  I just put cheese on toothpicks and called them wheels)
  • Directions
    • In 12-in nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over med-high heat and cook onion, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes or until tender.  Add ground turkey and cook, stirring occasionally, until done.
    • Stir in Pasta Sauce, brown sugar, and relish.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes
    • Meanwhile, cut out a 5x2 in “trench”  in top of rolls, removing some bread.  To serve, evenly fill rolls with turkey mixture.

Makes 8 servings <---Great for Leftovers!

Mom’s Choice – Octo-dogs and Shells

  • Ingredients
    • 4 hot dogs
    • 1 1/2 cups small shell pasta
    • 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
    • 1 cup prepared Alfredo sauce
    • Yellow mustard in squeeze bottle
    • Goldfish crackers
  • Directions
    • Lay 1 hot dog on cutting surface. Starting one inch from one end of hot dog, slice hot dog vertically in half. Roll hot dog 1/4 turn. Starting 1 inch from same end, slice in half vertically again, making 4 segments connected at top. Slice each segment in half vertically, creating a total of 8 "legs." Repeat with remaining hot dogs.
    • Place hot dogs in medium saucepan; cover w/ water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; set aside.
    • Prepare pasta according to package directions, stirring in vegetables during last 3 minutes of cooking time. Drain; return to pan. Stir in Alfredo sauce. Heat over low heat until heated through. Divide past mixture between 4 plates.
    • Drain octo-dogs. Arrange one octo-dog on top of pasta mixture on each plate. Draw faces on the "heads" of octo-dogs with mustard. Sprinkle crackers over pasta.

Serves 4

Dad’s Choice – Cheesy Stuffed Meatballs and Spaghetti

  • Ingredients
    • 1 pound ground meat
    • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
    • 1 egg
    • 2 ounce mozzarella cheese, cut into 12 (1/2 in) cubes
    • 1 jar RAGU Old World Style Pasta Sauce
    • 8 ounce spaghetti, cooked and drained
  • Directions
    • In medium bowl, combine ground meat, bread crumbs and egg; shape into 12 meatballs.  Press 1 cheese cube into each meatball, enclosing completely.
    • In 3-quart saucepan, bring Pasta Sauce to a boil over med-high heat.  Gently stir in uncooked meatballs (I set 3 aside and pan cooked them plain for Cayden)
    • Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes or until meatballs are done.  Serve over hot spaghetti.

Makes 4 servings

Hannah’s Choice – Stuffed Corn Bread

  • Ingredients
    • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
    • 2 tbs sugar
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) diced Cheddar cheese, divided
    • 2 thin slices deli ham diced (I used 2 hot dogs)
    • 1/4 cup tomato or pasta sauce (optional)
  • Directions
    • Preheat over to 350*.  Spray 3 mini loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray
    • Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Whisk milk, oil, and egg in a small bowl.  Pour milk mixture over flour mixture; still until moistened.
    • Spoon 1/2 of batter evenly into prepared pans.  Layer 1/2 of cheese, ham and tomato sauce over batter; top with remaining batter and cheese.
    • Bake about 30 minutes or until edges are browned and toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean.  Cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes.  Remove from pans; slice and serve warm.

Makes 6 servings


Verdict?  Kids have LOVED it all.  Not too thrilled about hot dogs that look like octopus but still ate dinner :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010


While I was in High School, one of my favorite songs was Friends by Michael W. Smith.  I could listen to this song every day.  It brought lots of smiles and happy tears growing up as I spent my summers with friends from OAFC.  Some of these people are still my closest friends.  Some of  them I’ve reconnected with and continue to keep in touch, and some of these people are just a memory, but a happy one at that.

College friends are very similar.  I made some amazing friends in college and am very blessed to this day to still have a relationship with them.  What’s even more amazing is that years went by from college graduation to reconnecting and when the reconnection was made, it was like there was no separation.

And now, I’ve come to realize this as an adult.  I have my girlfriends, some whom I have been friends with since high school (like my BFF, Crystal).  I have my mommy friends whom I met when I was a part of MOPS and am still good friends with and enjoy watching our children develop close friendships (thank you Jennifer L!).  Some are my help keep me sane friends (thank you Dorothy).  And some are my new friends (love you Jen C and Christee), but all in all, they are an important part of my life.

But I learned something this weekend as I watch Stephen struggle to work on our backyard fence.  No one is perfect.  Forgiveness is a part of life.  And it’s okay to take yourself back to a place where you know you will always be loved and accepted, no matter how long you’ve been away.  And this is what the friendship and relationships I have made at The Well are like.  It has been nearly a year since I’ve seen any of these people in person.  I’ve kept up with some on Face Book, but for the most part, after my PapPap passed away, I pulled away from anyone who loved me – especially people who loved me unconditionally.  And although I regret this, I cannot dwell on it, and I am so thankful that with open arms, I was received back into the lives of these people, no questions asked.  And I love them all very much because like the words of the song:

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord's the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
'Cause the welcome will not end
Though it's hard to let you go
In the Father's hands we know
That a lifetime's not too long to live as friends.

Working Out

So I have a new commitment.  With myself.  For myself.  About a month ago, I started running again – to train, to condition, and just to be.  My ultimate goal for myself is to lose 60 lbs.  Right now, I’d be happy if I could just lose 10 lb.  It’s slow going, and not fun. 

You’ve heard the saying, “It didn’t take you 2 months to put on the weight, it’s not going to take you 2 months to take it off.”  I kinda hate being told that.  It didn’t take me 2 months, but in less than a year (7 months to be exact), I lost 14 lbs and then gained 30 lb.  30 lbs!  On top of the 30 I needed to lose due to baby weight from carrying Cayden. 

I’m a stress eater – comfort eater – just plain eater.  And this summer, I decided that I’m tired of being unhappy with myself.  I’m happy in my life.  I love my kids.  Love my husband.  Love my friends.  I just don’t love myself right now.  Or I don’t love my self image.  I don’t know why I’m so hard on myself.  I know that part of it is that I’ve been that fit, thin, and healthy person.  And it really wasn’t that long ago.  Well, 5 years ago I was at my goal weight.  And people told me I was glowing and just happy. 

Right now I’m a happy person, but I am more negative at times than I would like to admit.  I’ve been on antidepressant/anxiety medication for 4 1/2 years.  I was pregnant with Cayden when I went on them.  Last year, I was able to taper off them when I was active.  And then I became less active and had to start taking them again. 

Last month, I stopped taking them, started exercising (running and some strength training), following my weight watchers points allowance, and drinking my water.  Although I haven’t lost as much weight as I would like – it took me 10 months to lose 50 lbs in 2004-2005 – I feel better.  I feel confident that I don’t need the medication anymore – just so long as I’m active. 

I know I will get there.  I just have to stick with it.  And really watch what I’m eating – because what is it, 85% of losing weight is diet and 15% is exercise (for the normal person – not the person on the biggest loser show whose job is to work out for 8 hours a day).

Needed to get this all out there. 

And now, I’ve been awarded a blog award.  I think this is super cute :)  So thank you to my sweet friend, and fellow blogger, Traci for selecting my blog as a Blog with Substance, especially since this blog is really like a journal at times – or a newspaper – full of pointless or extremely proud information about my life and all that’s crazy within it.  Unlike my blog, Traci’s thoughts seem to come together a little better (okay or maybe I’m just really hard on myself).  Be sure to check out Traci’s Tall Tales and read the about her chronicle all the crazy things in her life. 

Blog with Substance Award

Now it's my turn to pass this along.  To accept my award, I must:
1. Thank the person who gave it to me. (see above)
2. Sum up my blogging philosophy/motivation/experience in/with five words – reflect, share, rant, life, love

3. Pass this award on up to 10 bloggers who I consider to have substance.