So I asked for suggestions for a FFF post on Facebook yesterday, and the only one I got was something I can't even help with....SORRY TRISHA!  But in looking at Pinterest lat night, I was struck with an idea....comfort food :)  Everybody knows comfort food....it's food that makes you feel better on a not-so-good day (or food that makes you feel GREAT on a good day).  Sometimes it's things you remember eating as a child...like Great Grandma's paczki (a super-awesome doughnut hole for my non-Polish friends)...or mom's twice baked potatoes....or mom's hashbrown casserole (thank God she makes two pans of this stuff).  Sometimes it's things you've found as an adult that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside every time you make it...like my new found love of skillet chocolate chip cookies!  It can be any type of food offered for any meal.
Food + warm fuzzies = comfort.
That's all you need to you know!

So below are some things that I consider comfort food for myself!

Post image for Homemade Italian Pasta Recipes – Baked Ziti
Baked Ziti >> recipe HERE
Sometime last fall I think Dave asked if I knew how to make baked ziti.  I didn't, but said that I had a yummy sounding recipe I could try.  So I made it.  Y'all...this ziti is like the epitome of comfort food!  First off, it's noodles and cheese...so win-win!  But it's baked to deliciousness and then I go an extra step and pop it under the broiler until the top has little golden pockets of greatness all over it. MMM!! It's super easy, but bakes for nearly an hour.  It calls for 4 cups of marinara sauce (2 jars)... I usually use one full jar of Prego Roasted Garlic and Herb (it's gluten free) and then half a jar of Prego Fontina and Asiago (also gluten free).  I've also used a jar and a half of Merlot Marinara, which is quite possibly my favorite sauce.  Needless to say, I only use about 3 cups of sauce.  Also, it only calls for 2 cups of mozzarella cheese...that's stupid.  I buy the big bag and use the whole damn thing! And I also use the larger container of ricotta...don't skimp on the cheese, guys!  I recommend using a foil pain instead of a baking dish, it makes clean-up so much easier!  The best part about this ziti is that it tastes even better the next day as leftovers!  Make this, I'm not kidding when I say you won't regret it!  Side note:  as a kid, I hated ricotta cheese...but then I learned that when it's all mixed together with sauce, it just makes for an extra tasty creamy cheesy sauce. YUM!

Chocolate chip cookies >>  THIS recipe is the perfect chocolate chip cookie
I love to bake cookies...and there are few things in this world more comforting than fresh-baked, still-warm, still-gooey chocolate chip cookies and a SUPER cold glass of milk (whole milk...not that skim milk crap or milk substitute...it's gotta be the real deal here)!  When I stumbled upon this recipe, I didn't know it would become my favorite (and my family's favorite) cookie.  Some key points when making cookies:

  • Soften the butter on the counter, not in the microwave.  You don't want your butter melted...it needs to be softened.  And the butter needs to be unsalted.  And take your eggs out when you take out your butter...eggs should also be room temp.
  • Line your baking pans with parchment paper.  The cookies just slide right off and are browned nice and evenly.
  • Invest in an oven thermometer so that you know how hot your oven REALLY is...nothing sucks more than over-baked cookies.
  • Don't just use a regular eating spoon to make balls of dough and drop on your pans.  Use an actual cookie dough scooper or, my favorite, use the silicone measuring spoons.  Tablespoons will give you standard sized cookies (like the ones shown above) and the teaspoons will give you mini cookies. -- side note, cooking times will vary depending on size of the cookie.
  • If you like a pop of salt with your cookie, make sure you use the coarse sea salt...it's worth it!
  • Put your dough in the fridge for a few minutes before scooping.  1, it's easier to scoop and drop..and 2, it bakes better with less spread.
  • Put paper towel down on your cookie racks to soak up the extra oil as they're cooling.  You'll appreciate this tip!
  • I use more than the recommended measurement of vanilla.  I love vanilla...I don't measure it, I just pour :) 
  • And finally...this cookie dough is delicious even before it's baked!  Don't worry about what your momma said when you were a kid and wouldn't let you eat the raw dough...she was full of crap!  
Beware...this recipe makes A LOT!  If making regular size cookies, it makes about 100.  If making mini cookies, it makes nearly 200.  These cookies are so fantastic that my family requests them...often!  

Quick Shells & Cheese
The Pioneer Woman's Mac and Cheese >> recipe HERE
This right here was the basis for my post!  You have to look passed the peas...who puts peas in mac and cheese?! Blech!  Anyway....it uses velveeta (generally a no-no) and sharp cheddar cheese to make the sauce...seasoning salt and pepper...and bacon.  Mmm!

cook pasta then toss with a little olive oil, Italian bread crumbs, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese.
Pasta with breadcrumbs
It's no secret that I LOVE pasta.  Seriously love it.  When my husband and I first started living together, he made this for me.  I was worried about it at first....worried about it being too....much.  But oh man, it wasn't!  You take pasta, cook it up real nice.  Then you add a *generous* amount of butter and stir until its all melted and some should be pooling on the bottom of the pan.  Then you add in Italian style bread crumbs and some shaky cheese and voila! You're done!  Sometimes I use Italian dressing instead of butter.  Both are scrumptious!

Double Chocolate Layer Cake recipe
Double Chocolate Layer Cake >> recipe HERE
This is a horrible picture...but this is the BEST chocolate cake recipe!  It goes well with ANY frosting!  It's SUPER rich as it uses cocoa powder and dark roast coffee to melt the chocolate squares (which, of course, ought to be bittersweet or semisweet....NOT milk chocolate).  This cake is so moist and delicious!  Chocolate cake makes EVERYTHING better :)

Have a great weekend!


Some Truth 2.0

A while back I posted an entry called "Some Truth".  I feel like it's time to add some more to that :)

1.  When I cook or bake, and it doesn't come out right (whether it be my fault or the stupid recipe's fault because the idiot posting the cookie recipe doesn't know that her oven runs 50° hotter than a normal oven), I get stupid upset.  I mean, I get mad...and then I feel bad that whatever I made didn't turn out right and I feel like I'm serving nothing but crap to my family.  The time I remember the most was when I was making a cheesecake for family Thanksgiving (or maybe Christmas) and it cracked...not just a crack...but a never-ending canyon formed in the middle of my cheesecake.  I leaned against the counter crying while Dave went out to Kroger to get me more ingredients.  I'm not sure I've even attempted to make cheesecake since this incident.

2.  The summer before my Junior year of high school I got super-serious about my body because, in my opinion, I was not only the heaviest person in my ballet class, but was also the heaviest among my friends.  My self-image was apparently at an all-time low and I decided to do something about it.  Every night I spent hours doing sit-ups and crunches in my room.  I kept a notebook that detailed how many of each I did.  I remember doing over 100 sit-ups a night (yes, I used to be able to do that) and doing 200+ crunches.  I wasn't satisfied if my overall number was less than 300.  I also remember lying on the floor on my back and resting a ruler across my pelvis.  My goal:  to have that ruler touch my pelvic bones before touching the fat in the middle.  I remember I accomplished my goal, but still felt dissatisfied with myself...and that feeling has never gone away (but obviously I can't touch a ruler to my hip bones anymore).

3.  There's a trend among people from my generation (and subsequent generations) about only doing the bare minimum to get a job done.  That does NOT apply to me.  I've never just done the bare minimum (except maybe with housework).  When I do a task, I want it done efficiently, effectively, and, above all, correct!  If I do something, I take ownership of it.  I'm doing it, my name is on it, and I care about what that name means.  I don't want it to be associated with "lazy" or "half-assed".  I want that name to be associated with hard work and, when possible, perfection!  I take pride in what I do...whether it be a task at work, a task at home, or even just cooking dinner.  And yes, I LIKE to get a gold star on my projects!  Tell me my dinner is good!  Tell me I did a great job!  I don't need to hear thank-you's, just tell me I did well.  I love to hear it!

4.  I'm totally one of those women who expects my husband to be a mind reader. I expect him to see things through my eyes.  If I see something needs to be done, I expect him to see that same thing and to go ahead and get it done.  If I'm upset, I expect him to know why I'm upset without me having to tell him.  I mean, he knows what he did....right?

5.  I'm so terrified of not having enough money to pay for the bills (even though we totally have it) that I absolutely hate to spend money, even on necessities.  And because of that, I almost NEVER buy anything for myself.  I have ONE pair of work pants.  That's right, one.  I have ONE pair of jeans that currently fit.  I have exactly FIVE shirts that I wear to work.  I have ONE pair of shoes that I wear to work and I have ONE pair of flops that I wear when I'm not at work.  One reason for this is that fat girl clothes cost so much more than regular people clothes.  I can't just go to Target and buy a cute little $10 shirt.  I can't just go to Old Navy and buy $20 pants.  I have to go to fat people stores where jeans cost $50+, shirts for work are $20+.  And as many times as I've gone looking for clothes at TJMaxx / Marshall's / Ross, it's apparent that their buyers only buy fat peoples for old ladies.  So I don't go shopping for myself for clothes because a work-acceptable outfit will cost at least $70.  That's stupid.  I don't buy other things for myself (like the Cuisinart Griddler that was on sale at Costco for $49.99 this weekend that I've been wanting since we registered for our wedding) because I can't justify spending money on something I don't absolutely NEED.  I spent $9 on some more silicone measuring spoons and then felt bad about it because really I didn't NEED new ones...my broken teaspoon would still be find for dropping cookie dough.  I get buyers remorse with everything...even groceries.  It's ridiculous, I know.  The only thing I spend money on without a care in the world is books...and lets be honest, I totally don't NEED any more books!

So there you are, five more truth's about me :)

Today I'm spending my day with a fresh-ish bouquet of blush pink peonies on my desk at work that I bought for myself at Kroger yesterday.  I told Dave they were from him because he never got me peonies for Mother's Day like I wanted.  But, of course, he wouldn't have known that because I didn't tell him beforehand that I wanted pink peonies...I expected him to know this already.



Fun fact:  When I'm going through something emotionally taxing and I'm feeling overwhelmed, EVERYBODY reads my blog.  There have been over 200 page views on my one blog entry.  But when I'm trying to start feeling better and post lighter things, I go back to my typical 10 page views (or less).  Thanks folks for letting me know that the majority of you only care about reading my stuff when I'm not feeling like myself.  Totally means a lot to me.  Moving on...

As I've been trying to get myself feeling better without spending money and time going to a doctor to get put back on antidepressants that I don't particularly care for, I've been thinking about what it is about my general unhappiness that I can change on my own.  Besides more help with general household things that I still can't seem to ask for (like emptying the dishwasher on a daily basis, not just once), its apparent that what I need is some rest and relaxation in maybe a nice tranquil setting.  Sitting on the couch drinking two glasses of wine while my kid is next to me complaining that she doesn't like ketchup anymore and she refuses to eat her hotdog because it touched the ketchup and my husband is sitting on the other couch upset that I forgot about the damn tater tots taking 25+ minutes after he'd already put the hotdogs on the grill doesn't count as "relaxing in a nice, tranquil setting".

So please, enjoy these pictures as I try to imagine myself in each and every one of these places...

Have a great weekend folks and bask in the fact that today and all weekend it should be less than 100°

hammock, ocean, and sunset. yes.

a book on a boat....bliss

Things you need to do when summer comes!

oh man...

be still. listen. set aside your book for one moment & look out at the lake. sip hot coffee as the sun rises to burn off the morning haze. be here now.

This looks so beautiful and peaceful! I could spend a week or more just lounging on that boat dock.

Oh man I need a vacation!

bohemianhomes: Bohemian Homes: Window above the bed

best bathtub ever!

this goes with that white couch i have pinned!


Aria the Baker

I've FINALLY gotten my cast iron skillet cleaned out and have used it twice.  Wanna know what I made?  Of course you do.  I'll give you a hint...I made the same thing (with slight variations)...twice.  You guessed it:  the only thing I've made in my skillet so far has been a big ol' awesomely delicious cookie!

My first attempt was less than satisfactory in my opinion.  I love to bake cookies...and, not to pat myself on the back or anything, but I make a DAMN GOOD cookie!  But I'm not gonna lie, that first skillet cookie really pissed me off!  Maybe it's my fault for not knowing enough about the cooking ability of cast iron, but I can't possibly put all the blame on me, that's silly.  I blame the person who wrote the recipe.  Here's the link to the recipe I used >>  The horrible first attempt recipe.  In my opinion, this person doesn't know how to bake.  The ingredients and the methods were appropriate for regular cookies, but not one big giant cookie.  Also, that crackpot needs an oven thermometer.  You bake cookies at 350°, not 375°...so her oven obviously cooks 25° cooler than it should.  If you're going to put your recipes out there for all to see, invest in an oven thermometer so that you know that your recipe will work for everyone.  So anyway, baked for 19 minutes at 375°, the outside was overcooked and the middle was still raw (because the method was incorrect).  I got mad, threw a bit of a tantrum, and skulked off the kitchen where Dave said "how long before we can eat it?"  I told him we weren't eating it and I was going to throw it out as soon as it cooled off enough.  Instead we put it back in the oven for another 10 dang minutes.  The outside was, in my [professional baker] opinion, burnt and the middle was just finally done.  I was still mad about it.  I do NOT serve cookies that overly browned.

So we ate over the course of several days (because, well, it's a cookie and you can't not eat it) and I rinsed out my pan to try again, armed with a new recipe and a new understanding for cast iron.  Key thing about cast iron:  it's SO hot when it comes out of the oven and stays so hot for so long that things continue to cook even after they've been taken out and placed on top of a cooling rack to cool.

I tell you...second time's the charm!  The new recipe had more reasonable sounding ingredients (like MELTED butter instead of softened butter), had the right temp of 350°, and mentioned to "undercook the heck out of it" at 15-20 minutes.  That right there told me that at 20 minutes, the cookie would be underdone (it's a big help to know what sort of outcome you can expect when cooking anything).

Really, I should say that Aria made this cookie...because she totally did!  I put the ingredients into the bowl and she mixed it (and snacked)....but only until we added the flour, then she said it was too hard to mix.  She was so excited about it that she couldn't even keep it a secret from Dave when she told him dinner was ready...and every time the timer went off, she said "Mom!  That's our cookie!"

So without further ado....Aria's cookie :)

[The Best] Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie, courtesy of Cookies and Cups

Ingredients ("t" is teaspoon, not tablespoon)
3/4 c. butter, melted
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
2 t. vanilla (or more if you love it)
1 egg + 1 yolk
3/4 t. baking soda
1 t. kosher salt or coarse sea salt (NOT regular table salt; don't ever use regular salt in cookies)
2 c. flour, aerated (aerating your flour is important folks...just give it a good whisk right in the container before scooping)
As much chocolate chips/chunks as you want...whole bag if you choose

1.  Preheat that oven to 350° (or whatever your oven needs to be set to actually register 350 on a thermometer)
2.  In a large bowl, mix together the sugars and the butter with a wooden spoon (no need for a mixer here folks) until there are no lumps
3.  Add vanilla and eggs and mix until well incorporated
4.  Add baking soda, salt, and flour and mix until well blended and there are no spots of raw flour left
5.  Fold in chocolate chips (I used chunks and it was phenomenal), save some out to put on top
6.  Spread evenly into well-greased skillet and top with remaining chips (if any)
7.  Bake for 20 minutes
8.  Remove from oven and place pan on top of open cooling rack to cool for AT LEAST 10 minutes
***After 10 minutes, I was not satisfied with the doneness of mine and put it back in the oven (even though I had already turned it off, it was still warm) for another 7 minutes.
9.  The cookie should appear just slightly loose, but not jiggly in the middle and will have crisp golden outer edges
10.  Serve warm with a tall glass of cold milk...YUM!

She loves to help mommy bake! She even remembered to hold the bowl half the time and didn't get batter all over the place for once!

The cookie (with an entire bag of dark chocolate chunks, minus what Aria ate) prior to baking

After baking (and yes, partially eaten)

Oh man....it's so good!!

If you've got a cast iron skillet and you like cookies, then make this thing, like, yesterday!  The inside is still just slightly underdone (you can cook it longer if you don't like gooey cookies) and it's absolutely delicious and should be eaten with a fork because it's so damn good.  Put some vanilla ice cream on it and chow down y'all!

(Now you're dying for a chocolate chip cookie aren't you?  You're welcome!!)


Fab Friday Five - PARENTING

Before I was a mom, I had very certain ideas about parenting.  I KNEW it would be hard, but not so bad.  I KNEW that, with the proper motivation (and discipline), a child would behave as they should.  I KNEW that if you presented your child with healthy (and tasty) food options regularly, they'd be more apt to choose those over their fattening counterparts.  I KNEW that a child that took naps was a happy child.

What I didn't know was that only one of those items up there was something that I really did know for sure.  
The rest.....the rest are bull shit.

Here's the bottom line about parenting....it's hard and it sucks...and the rewards, though you think might be grandiose, are small and sometimes few and far between.

So as I've been noticing my own self struggling with parenting lately (because, let's face it, so far four years old is the hardest yet), I went to my good ol' friend Pinterest for some help...you can find everything on Pinterest :)  

Break the Cycle I choose to parent with love and joy! My parents hate each other to this day. It has been very difficult for me and my siblings. I do not want this for our kids.
Children are a product of their environment...that all starts with their parents.  Dave and I came from families who had two different approaches to parenting.  But it's not always about how you parent....it's about how you treat each other when you're in front of your child.  If you were brought up in a house that gives lots of hugs, you're probably going to give your spouse and your child lots of hugs.  If you were raised by a family that gives lots of praise to help build you up, then you'll probably shower praise on your spouse and your child.  But if you were raised in a house of shouting and disrespect for one another, then that's all you know, and you're going to bring that to your own house...and that's not good.  Don't shout at your spouse in front of your children...handle that shit behind closed doors when the kid isn't around.  First, it shows them that it's OK to scream at grown ups..."If mommy can scream at daddy, then so can I."  Second, it teaches them that whenever conflict arises, the best way to solve it is to be defensive.  I know the last thing I want to teach my child is to always be on the defensive.  That's no way to go through life.  The big take away is this:  If you were raised in a crappy way, then you're going to raise your child in that same crappy way, and then your child will raise their own kids that crappy way when they become parents.  But if you break the cycle...then you're children will end up being better parents (and probably better adults).

 Brene Brown gives excellent examples of this in her book, Daring Greatly. This is one of the most important things we can teach our children, and ourselves. --Jill Hardie www.thesparklebox.com
As a person who has practically ZERO self-esteem, it's extra important to me that my child doesn't feel that way.  I need her to grow up with the most amazing sense of self worth.  It's hard going through life feeling terrible about yourself (no matter what the cause, be it your own inner self or something you've been taught).  Part of teacher her self-esteem is to strive to never tear her down; she needs to know that I'm ALWAYS proud of her....that she's a GOOD kid who occasionally (more than occasionally lately) exhibits BAD behavior.  But she's not a BAD kid; she's never been a BAD kid.  Teaching your child that she's BAD will stay with her forever...and she'll always feel that she's inadequate.  Build up your children, folks.  Don't stand over them screaming at them telling them how bad they are (when the only BAD behavior they're exhibiting is not listening).  Intimidating them is no way to earn their respect.  Plus, it teaches them to always be inferior and submissive.  Do you want your child growing up that way?  I didn't think so.  Check out this article (here) on how to get away from telling your kid that they're BAD.  Don't ever tell your child they're dumb or stupid.  Don't ever call your child a dummy or an idiot.  Don't ever belittle their ideas and make them feel small.  

When you parent, It's crucial you realize you aren't raising a "mini me" But a Spirit throbbing with it's own signature. 
You did ballet, so you want your kid to do ballet.  You love to wear dresses and bows, so you want your little girl to wear dresses and bows.  You like to fish, so you want your son to fish.  You think pink is for girls, so your son can't touch anything that has pink on it.  Guess what folks?  Your kid IS NOT YOU.  I'm totally guilty of this...I loved doing ballet, so I encouraged my child to do dance (totally not her thing, by the way).  I love to paint and do artsy fartsy things, so I encourage her to do the same.  Even Dave does it...he did martial arts as a kid and keeps bringing it up that she should try it.  But here's the thing people...our children are their own selves.  If all you do is teach them to love what you love, then they'll grow up waiting for others to tell them what to do do, how to feel, how to live.  But if you expose your child to EVERYTHING, give them every opportunity to be their own person, then they'll thrive.  You like bows, but your little girl likes to play in the dirt and catch bugs...then that's OK.  You liked playing soccer, but your son wants to try tap dancing...then that's OK.  You're a doctor but your child says she wants to work on cars when she grows up...then that's OK.  Instill in your child that they can do whatever they want to do...they can like whatever they like (unless it's acorns...that's a hard "no")...they can be their own person and do NOT have to follow in your shadow.

Avoiding power struggles with your children
We're struggling with this in our house BIG TIME lately.  She doesn't listen to us (pretends she doesn't hear us is more like it), so we get mad.  She continues to not listen to us, so we get even more mad.  We start yelling, she starts arguing.  We (stupidly) argue back, she gets mad and also starts yelling.  We get more mad and tell her to go to her room or get popped, she runs around screaming she doesn't want to go upstairs but still doesn't want to do what we asked in the first place.  We scream more, she screams more, and then eventually runs upstairs crying and yelling "You're not my best friend anymore...not ever ever ever!" .... which of course only makes us more mad as I'm screaming "That's right, I'm not your best friend, I'm your mother!"  It's awful.  I hate it.  I usually cry afterwards.  This article right here explains how to offer choices (and use them appropriately) to hopefully avoid the power struggle.  I've seen parents use this technique and works flawlessly for them.  That's NOT saying that it will work flawlessly for everybody, but it at least offers a little more guidance.

Don't let yourself become so concerned with raising a good kid that you forget you already have one. Quote
For all the times you're worrying about if your child is doing what they should, acting right, listening, being respectful, sharing, etc...stop and really pay attention.  They're probably already pretty great!
My kid asked me to buy some healthy snacks like grapes and apples instead of mini muffins.
She picks me a flower almost every day I pick her up from school and says "for you, mommy."
She talks about wanting to be a painter and a chef and a doctor and an animal doctor and a mechanic and a runner and swimmer and a gymnast and an astronaut and a scientist.
She asks about why people are sick and who's going to help them feel better.
She makes sure her baby doll is swaddled properly and has a blanket, pillow, and animal every night at bedtime.
She understood she couldn't keep her butterflies in a cage and was excited to let them go.
She loves to help feed the birds.
She talks about giving her old baby toys away to her baby cousins and her too-small clothes to Little Miss Natalie at "mommy's work."
She's really pretty awesome...despite the fact that I yell, scream, and spank. :)

Happy parenting, y'all!

On a side note:  A 9 year old boy who passed away as a result of that accident on Riverwatch was an organ donor and now 4 or 5 more people will live because of him.  A child y'all.  Are you an organ donor?  No?  You should be! If a 9 year old can do it, you can do it!


Convos With My Kid

I realized yesterday, on one of our rousing after-school car rides, that it's been a while since I posted one of these....so enjoy!
A Lesson on Pre-Birth Toys
A:  Mommy, what kind of toys did I have when I was baby?
M:  You had baby toys...rings and blocks and stuff.
A:  But what about what kind of toys did I have before I was born?
M:  Uh...what?
A:  When I was still in your tummy...didn't I have toys to play with?
M:  Oh....no dear, there weren't any toys in mommy's tummy.
A:  Well what did I do?
M:  Uh.....you slept a lot and flips and stuff.
A:  Oh...am I still taking gymnastics class soon?  I love to do flips!
M: (grateful for the change of subject)...Yes dear, you sure are!

Lessons on Heaven
**Let me preface this by saying that while Dave and I aren't religious and we're choosing not to educate Aria in organized religion just yet, we do teach her about Heaven.  Not the religious beliefs that go with it, but just as a nice place to go when you die.

In talking about yesterday's early morning house fire
A:  Mommy, what happened at that fire we saw this morning?
M:  I don't know honey.  The family made it out safe, but their dog didn't.
A:  Well what happened to him?
M:  He didn't make it out of the house after it caught on fire and he died.
A:  He got all burned up and then he died?  Did he go to Heaven?
M:  He probably did get burned when he died and yes, he did go to Heaven.
A:  Well mommy....how did he get to Heaven? How do we get to Heaven?
M:  Um.....Well, when we die, our bodies stay here to get buried, but our souls...the very part of us that makes up who we are...goes to Heaven.
A:  But how do our souls GET to Heaven?
M:  Well...it just sort of floats up all by itself.
A:  Oh.  I don't want to go to Heaven.
M:  Sure you do!  It's the best place to be!
A:  But you have to die to get there and I don't want to die.
M:  (oh jeepers)...Everybody dies, honey.  When people get old and have lived a wonderful life and they've done everything they want to do, they die.  Or sometimes when people get really really sick and they just can't go on anymore, they die.
A:  But mommy, you're old and you're not dying and going to Heaven....

In talking about thunder
A:  I'm scared of the thunder!
M:  It's OK to be scared of that thunder honey, it is loud...but do you know what thunder is?
A:  I know it goes with lightning.
M:  That's right!  But did you know that when you hear thunder, it's actually just somebody up in Heaven bowling?
A:  Bowling?  I didn't know that!  I've never been bowling...but I'm not scared of it!
M:  Good!  So every time you hear thunder, you just think about those people up in Heaven bowling.  Sometimes it's really loud and that's when they knock all the pins down...and sometimes it's quieter and that's when they only knock a few pins down.
A:  Mommy!  Did you hear that thunder?? It was just little, so somebody up in Heaven isn't a very good bowler today.

A Lesson on Healthy Food Options
A:  Mommy, did you know that lettuce is good for you?  It looks like leaves on a tree and we eat it in salads!  Did you know that?
M:  That's right...lettuce is good for you.
A:  You know what else is good for you and tastes really yummy and I like to eat it?  ACORNS!
M:  Really?  Are you a squirrel?  Only squirrels eat acorns you goof!
A:  No mommy, I'm not a squirrel, but I eat acorns!  They're yummy!
M:  Um, what?
A:  Acorns mommy, they're so tasty.
M:  Um, you eat acorns?
A:  I do! I like them!
M:  What do you mean you eat them and like them?  Where do you eat acorns?
A:  At school!
M:  Aria!  You can't eat acorns!  First of all, they're not food, second of all, they're really hard and will break your teeth!  And third, you can't just pick things off the ground and eat them...they could make you sick!!
A:  Well they're not hard after you crack them.  I don't eat the hard part, just the black part in the middle.  It's not so hard.
M:  Oh my god. What do you mean you crack them?!
A:  With my shoe.  I step on them on the concrete and they crack and then I eat the black part in the middle.  It's tasty.
M:  No Aria....please don't eat any more acorns.  No more acorns!  Don't eat ANYTHING you see on the ground!
A:  OK.  Well the other day I found something round and white that looked like a berry, but I didn't eat it because I thought maybe it was a marble.
M:  Oh my god!  Don't eat anything you find on the ground!! If you even think you want to eat it, ask a grown up first!!


Fab Friday Five x2 - TRUTH EDITION

I know I've been neglectful when it comes to the FFF...my bad, y'all.  So here's a double edition for ya!  It's full of truths that EVERYBODY needs to know (and probably most people already do)!
(I claim NONE of these pictures)

When you wish upon a star...

this is what every group project for my entire academic career taught me. every. single. one.

damn skippy! (ha, see what I did there?)

worth a shot!

Wall Decor Bathroom Decor Halloween Funny Reminder Poster - Wash Your Hands or Zombies -

I feel a shitstorm coming...





Like a fart

When life gives you lemons...

biggest pet peeve !!

Grammar is still important, kids.




Comic sans

Never, ever, ever will be.

OK....I got a little carried away there :)
Have a great weekend!


Word of the Day

A dear friend of mine recently put her vulnerability out there on her blog for everyone to see, so I'm going to follow suit.  It's not meant to sound whiny, but may come across that way...and it's not meant to sound like "first world problems", but may also come across that way.

Dissatisfied:  adj., not pleased with something; feeling that something is not as good as it should be. (Cambridge Dictionary)

This word sums up my feelings right now.  I am dissatisfied with my life as it stands.  

I am unhappy with the fact that I have to work and I can't be a stay at home mom...I'm even more unhappy knowing that I'll still be in this position in a year and a half when Aria starts kindergarten.

I'm unhappy with the fact that I'm not the kind of person who is more motivated to keep up with chores such as dishes, laundry, vacuuming, counter-scrubbing, sweeping, and mopping.

I'm unhappy with the skin I live within.  I'm more unhappy that I can't seem to find the proper motivation (or energy) required to change this fact about myself.

I'm unhappy with my job performance as a mom.  Nothing hurts more than hearing your four year old say "I'm sick of you mommy."

I'm unhappy with my job performance as a wife.  To be honest, I'm surprised that my husband doesn't hate me.

I'm unhappy with our finances and my inability to control the money over the last nine months.

I'm unhappy with the fact that little things affect me in a huge way...I don't know how to change that.

I'm unhappy that I can't seem to find a way to relax...I feel like I'm always go go go go going and never just resting.

I'm unhappy with how my family feels about my husband...and I'm even more unhappy with how they either make it blatantly obvious how they feel or how they make comments to each other that they think I can't hear...but I can, and I often times do.  You don't like him, fine, but keep all comments, looks, gestures, eye rolls, rudeness, excessive attitude, or anything else to yourself.  Please don't do it in front of me or Aria any more.  I've never seen my family be more judgmental than they are when it comes to Dave.  I don't think my family knows how much they hurt me.

I am unhappy with the fact that I feel like all of the household chores fall on me because my husband is also not the kind of person who is motivated enough to do chores such as dishes, laundry, etc. and then I feel even more unhappy after I nag at him to do it, when he would probably do more chores if I actually asked him nicely and gave him the time to do it instead of expecting him to get up right then and do it without me even having to express to him that I'd like some help.

I'm exhausted after working my 8 hour day, he's exhausted after working his 11 hour day, I come home and cook dinner, and then we both argue about who is more exhausted than the other and none of the chores get done...instead of us just acting like adults, sucking it up, sticking to a chore list, and each tackling our own respective chores each night like grown ups.  We both act like children...30 year old children...it's ridiculous.

I've been reading a lot about PTSD lately (so I can try to better understand how to handle my husband when his anxiety and anger come out), and in that reading I've learned about something called Secondary PTSD. It's something that's common among spouses of veterans with PTSD (studies were done on Vietnam vets and their spouses).   Secondary PTSD is controversial and not widely accepted, but if you research it, you'll see a lot of accounts from wives of Vets with PTSD...and that's me.  An explanation from Family of a Vet (not everything below is present in my situation):

The signs, symptoms, and effects of Secondary PTSD are just as varied as the ones exhibited by Veterans with "primary" PTSD.

Basically, when you're living with a veteran who has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, you become his (or her) caretaker.  You slip into a role, without even noticing it, that has you constantly watching for people or circumstances that might "set him off."  You're trying to make sure everything stays in line - that nothing aggravates or upsets your vet - that everything is "perfect."  Despite your best efforts, you're still getting screamed at and berated by the person you're trying to help on a much too frequent basis. 

Your vet is not emotionally "there" for you.  When you're upset or happy, angry or sad, you have to deal with your emotions on your own.  You begin to feel ignored and unloved and start "protecting" yourself by treating others - especially your vet - the same way.

You're also probably handling all household chores, childcare, financial management, etc.  You get no help (or very little) from your spouse.  You're the cook, chauffeur, secretary, accountant, yard guy, child care provider, laundry service, etc., etc., etc.  Everything in your family feels like it's up to you.  It is a 24x7 job at which you constantly fail.  It's not humanly possible to do everything - or to prevent PTSD from creeping in.

This cycle takes its toll on many spouses.  You lose yourself.  It's impossible to tiptoe around your vet, day in and day out, while taking care of all of life's other duties (duties normally shared between two people), without feeling the strain.   And that strain soon transforms into... ta da... Secondary PTSD.

Secondary PTSD may make you feel overly angry, depressed, exhausted (but, alas, unable to sleep), overwhelmed, and just plain unhappy with the world around you. 

It's stress...just plain stress. And I can't control it...and I can't seem to relax...and my family doesn't understand it, so they just get mad at me...and that just makes it worse...and it never ends....and it sucks.  Rest doesn't help.  Hot baths don't help.  Wine doesn't help.  Chocolate doesn't help.  Crying doesn't help.

I can't focus on anything at work.  I can't focus on anything at home (it's a wonder I haven't burned the house down when cooking dinner).  I can't focus on anything productive, no matter what it is or how hard I try.

I'm sure some will say that I probably need antidepressants...and maybe I do...but having taken antidepressants before, I know that they just make you feel better...they don't actually FIX the underlying problem.  I want to fix the problem....but I have no idea how...yet another reason why I feel so stressed.  And don't tell me to stop being stressed about those things I can't control...if I could pick and choose and what I do and do not feel stressed over then I wouldn't be in this boat, would I?

So you see...DISSATISFIED sums it up entirely

If I were a stay at home mom, this is what I'd do today (After taking Aria to Pre-K summer camp)...
Chores - empty dishwasher and refill, put away Dave's and my laundry, do Aria's laundry
Clean - FINALLY find a home for all the Christmas and birthday presents that are still piled in the living room
Cook - (this actually would stay the same) Rigatoni with zucchini and squash + basil, tomato, garlic, green onion
Bake - (after FINALLY seasoning my cast iron skillet) Skillet chocolate chip cookie


Book Review: Attachments

This review will be short and sweet :)

As you may recall, this book was on my Summer Reading List.  I read the whole thing on my 9,000-hour trip back to GA after spending the week with family in Wisconsin laying my sweet Grandpa to rest.  OK, so it was more like 16 hours or so, but it felt like 9,000.

The book was cute, but could have been cuter.  The main character is Lincoln, the computer security guy who get's to read everyone's emails, even though he hates his job, and pretty much everything else in his life.  The two women in the book (who's only conversations we see are the email messages that Lincoln reads) are funny and witty and their messages read like something my best friend and I would text to each other (Jacki, we're in a book!)

If you're bored and have nothing else to read...go ahead and read it.  But don't expect fireworks or anything...at least their weren't any for me.   A cute, short, easy read.

Not quite sure what I'll be reading next...I'm thinking of taking my lunch book home because, I'm not going to lie, I'm totally a Nicholas Sparks fan and even though I can pretty much guess what's going to happen in this book, I still love it and I"m dying to finish it so I can see the movie :)