bon appetit!

In a previous post, I mentioned that Audrey has grown her independence wings. She has learned how to express what she likes and dislikes in quite the diva fashion. 

In this development, she has also decided that she wants to eat like an adult. She wants to feed herself, to eat what mom and dad are eating, to sit at the table and has requested wine on occasion (I opt for the organic pomegranate/blueberry no sugar added juice for her).

What can I say? My 9-month-old wants to be an adult already. I encourage the maturity (not the diva tantrums). So cheers! I'm trying to make the best of it! Here are some meals that we've enjoyed all together.

A lunch with all the goodies: grilled chicken, cheddar, cucumber and some fresh sweet peppers. Juice for A and wine for B.

A weekly dinner at our house for the whole family: Yumm! Bowls
Audrey and I love a healthy start to the day with Greek yogurt and blueberries and a side of toast.
Like most of us, the first time Audrey tasted pasta, she was in love. I like to make bow tie pasta with a little olive oil, pepper, garlic and Parmesan; veggies on the side or mixed in. The bow tie's are perfect for Audrey to pick up from her plate.

It is getting to be that time of year for delicious zucchini. If you're growing it, you probably have more than you know what to do with. A healthy and filling recipe: Zucchini Boats. I make mine with ground Italian sausage, a good tomato sauce, some breadcrumbs and mozzarella. For Audrey, the zucchini became so soft that I cut it up into bite size pieces which she fed herself. She loved it!


fashion friday

Old Navy: Jeans, Plaid T-Shirt, Cardigan ; Vintage cowboy boots (Daddy's)

Before they start wearing shoes, the Mary Jane sock is the way to go. I can't get enough of these: 


hungry for more

The combination of Disney's Ratatouille and Eat, Pray, Love have made me, well, hungry. While I have never been to Europe, yet hope to some day, the books and movies always seem to capture the essence of the Italian lifestyle: eating, loving, laughing and enjoying both work and play. 

God has given us so much and while we do have to work for it, majority of us get consumed with the work that we rarely take a minute to enjoy a break without thinking of the next project or task or if we've earned that break.

I absolutely love family meals. I love when family, friends and even strangers can sit down at a table, enjoy food, talk, thanksgiving and some good wine. No television or phones. I try not to even have conversations about work which is pretty hard for my husband.
It is all hard. Enjoying a meal is hard. With a baby, she wants this or that therefore I am up and down from the table. When friends come or if we are guests somewhere, it is always a race to do dishes. Why? I'm burning inside to just say, "Sit down! Have more wine!"
We are blessed with these good things: food, wine, the ability to gather and converse openly. Why can't we embrace it? 

"For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer." (1 Tim. 4:4-5)

But as we are to enjoy it all, God calls us to take it in moderation. There should be a balance and a lot of the time, work is overcompensated. By the time the work week is over, weekends are consumed with house or outdoor projects. Travel time is not given enough or we feel guilty for taking it.
I am guilty too. I look at cooking sometimes as a task when it has been made so easy for me. I am too worried about the end product and then dishes. When Chris asks me what I did for the day, it is the usual "laundry, dishes, took care of Audrey, etc..." I even eat breakfast and lunch while doing other tasks. 
So give me a piece of Italy...and I'll take a piece of bread too. Today I am going to have a good, healthy lunch and yes, some wine. 

I challenge you. In your regular, habitual, sometimes mediocre day - make sure to enjoy something for at least a half an hour. Really savor it without doing anything else. Savor God's word and then, eat some spaghetti!


dinner time drama

For the last few months, Audrey has been at the point where she understands the word "no" and surely understands what she is doing to get that reaction. At 9-months-old, she will perform the classic wrong doing over and over again to test us as parents.

Discipline is one of the toughest things I've had to do, and what makes it even harder is that I give in because she is still a "baby" while deep down I know she is way smarter than I am allowing myself to realize. 

Our latest Audrey adventure occurs about everyday, most prominently at dinner time. She has realized that what we are eating for dinner is better than her food, so she screams and pushes her face against the side of the high chair. She absolutely refuses to eat her food, but opens gladly at a spoonful of our dinner. She looks like a two-year-old having a tantrum, but she is only 9-months!  

Audrey is a pretty advanced eater and has been eating just about everything for awhile. And as I previously posted, since she has been able to eat it all, I have worked hard to make meals that are "baby" friendly- keeping the whole family healthy. 

So, I gave in throughout the beginning because she was exploring new foods. I loved that she was so eager to try everything and literally has enjoyed it all too. 

Now it has come back and bit me in the behind! And oh, how I have tried to pull some stunts with her: 
        I've pretended to dig her spoonful of food into my dish. That worked for a short while, and then she figured it out. 

        She knows her spoon and bowls, so last night I tried putting her food on grown up plates. Only worked for about two spoonfuls. 

        I've stopped feeding her when we are eating or there is other food around. Doesn't work either. 

This saga is ruining dinner time. When she pulls this during breakfast and lunch, I still have the patience to deal with her. However, by dinner time- I am tired. 

I've put my foot down and said "You don't want this than OK, no dinner." But that is so hard when she is still a "baby" and I need her to eat. I tend to give in when I think of the night ahead with bad sleeping or the bottle she has to have ($$$) because she didn't eat her real food. 

Last night she could literally see that there was something "new" on her spoon and then she chose to eat it. Chris looked and her and said, "Boy, she is smarter than we are. She is completely manipulating you." 

Really, a 9-month-old?!

I'm in a bit of a rut here. Moms, please pass on your discipline do's and do not's. 

OK, I'm not going to lie. She looks just makes this same face at dinner:


reshaping my life: week 2

This week I am learning that slow and steady really does win the race. On Sunday I ran a little more than six miles with no problem. That has been a goal of mine, and while I am slow- I sure did get there! 

As I spoke about in the first week of reshaping my life, it is important to strive for the long distance instead of the sprint in everything we do. Go at your own pace and visualize the finish line. 

This is a huge point targeting diets. A quick, minimal-effort crash diet may get you fast results, but it won't benefit you in the long run of learning how to eat right and exercise habitually. You'll gain it back and for some reason continue to practice that diet when you have a trip coming up or holiday or need to lose ten pounds. I know, I've done it too. 

Week two and I am lighter than I was at our wedding. 

Here are things I am continuing to work on and additions to start this week: 

Keeping God as my strength. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I realized that my past journey's of trying to lose weight, I was trying to be in control. I know that God loves me for who I am, but I God also wants us to be as healthy as he intended us to be. 
Slow and steady wins the race. One day, one pound, one prayer. Work slowly at the long distance. 

Stop temptation. "Just this time..." will not be in my vocabulary. If I stop temptation once, it will eventually go away for good. 

Eating wise, I am still going to work on cheese and dressings/sauces. I've know I have been doing better considering today is my 2-week shop and I don't have to buy feta. I still have two tubs.

SPRING CLEAN! "If there is doubt, throw it out!" A good clean house, fridge, closet, etc... leads to a good, clean soul.

Because you have so little faith. I tell you the trust, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matt. 17:20

Credits to Reshaping It All by Candace Cameron Bure and of course, the Bible.


I want my mommy

The other night I was driving home, tired and just aching for my bed. The minute I started driving, Audrey passed out and I started thinking about when I was younger. I thought, "I wish I could just curl up and sleep, and someone else could drive."

I remember falling asleep in the car with mom and dad driving. There was no worry on how they were driving or which way they were going - just complete trust and comfort. Then we would arrive and they would try so hard to be quiet and go tuck me into bed.

The house was always clean, too. As a kid you just think it is supposed to be that way and didn't require work to do it. We would be at school, come home and the house would always be spotless. Our laundry would be done and folded, our beds made and there were always vacuum marks. 

If I was hungry, mom got me a snack. If I wanted to go somewhere, mom brought me. Baths were prepared just right with extra bubbles and toys and dishes were always clean and never left in the sink. 

When did we stop being kids and become adults with all this responsibility? Moreover, why when we were kids did we want to be adults so badly? 
In everything I do, I see my mother. I obsess about a clean house but don't really enjoy it as much because I know all the work that constantly goes into it. I want to drive carefully and quietly so that Audrey continues to sleep. I want to have her snacks ready, bed clean and warm and baths with extra bubbles.

I was trying hard to figure out when that moment was that I stopped being taken care of and started having to take care of myself...and then had to start taking care of other people.I can't think of it. It happened so fast.

Yes, being an adult is great- and being a mother and wife is even more wonderful. But sometimes, I just want to be tucked in bed. I want to have that comfort that everything will be taken care of. 

I guess that is just the cycle of life. Now I am providing that comfort for my family, my daughter. She'll become an adult too and then most likely take care of us when we're old.

When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts.  A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.  ~Sophia Loren


Piano offers keys to harmonious family legacy

(repost/today's column: www.nrtoday.com)

I started playing the piano as a little girl. My great-grandmother had a piano and played beautifully. I always loved watching her because she wasn't like most upright, stiff piano players you see with bony fingers and wrists held high.

She was a short, stubby little woman who slouched terribly and stuck her tongue out and up to her nose when squinting at the notes.

I remember my family always allowing me and encouraging me to play. I must have sounded horrible as just a baby pounding on the keys.

I would pound away, beaming with the confidence that I sounded like Beethoven and then would stop to receive applause. I figure my family was either deaf or really knew how to practice patience.

I was handed down the piano at a young age and immediately started taking lessons. I went through a number of piano teachers. I hated reading notes and preferred to play by ear. Maybe that's why I kept frustrating a series of teachers.

Once high school hit, I was onto dance, boys, sleepovers and clothes. Not piano. However, I would play occasionally at night when everyone was tucked in.

I never liked playing in front of people. Playing the piano was more for my enjoyment and release.

I finally concluded my relationship with the piano was pretty much over after college. It had been years since I touched those keys and was now almost timid to do so. I also wouldn't dream of fitting the piano inside our 900-square-foot home.

My parents then decided to put their house up for sale and told me it was time to take my piano home.

My husband and I hauled that piano down south and pushed it into our little house. At first, it was like a stranger had moved in, but then it started to really feel like it belonged here.

The history and family memories that embraced that piano filled my house with warmth.

I was still nervous, though. I waited until Chris was out of the house and the baby was sleeping before I began gently pressing on the keys, as if I were afraid to hurt them. I slowly started playing things I remembered and before I knew it, three hours went by.

I was opening book after book and trying to read the notes while slouching, squinting and dropping my wrists. I didn't inherit the tongue trick.

After a week, I've got a sore back and tight fingers from hours of playing. Chris pretends to be relaxed even though I mess up constantly. He tells me he “loves it because it is different every time.”

Now, I watch Audrey at 9 months old and she is sitting on the bench, pounding both hands on the keys and laughing hard. She is glowing and after a “bang, bang, bang,” she looks to mom and dad for their applause.

Every part of her body is moving with excitement, and I don't hear the pounding, I hear beautiful music.

Brittany Arnold is a freelance writer from Roseburg. Send her your comments, stories and questions at myabcsoup@gmail.com. You can also view her blog at www.myabcsoup.blogspot.com.

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