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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tuesday Random 5: Supper Time

1. Lasagna and garlic bread for supper with homemade meat sauce. I let it cook for an hour, not an hour and a half like the recipe said, because otherwise,  we wouldn't be eating until after 7! OMG on the sauce, though. New recipe and it is ridiculous! So yummy! The secret? Sweet Italian sausage and ground beef!

2. Due to the sauce and complexity of the recipe, I did not make real garlic bread. Womp. Womp. The Texas Toast 5 cheese stuff is a decent substitute though.

3. I made polenta for the first time last week. It was super easy! It was also really good and has a texture similar to grits, which I love! I will definitely make it more often now.

4.  I just checked on the lasagna and bread. (They are still in the oven.) I snuck another spoonful of leftover sauce. That's some life-changing sauce!

5. I think it's a perfect night for lasagna.  It is gray and rainy here. What's your favorite meal to make on a rainy Spring night?

Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tuesday Random 5: Gardening Edition

Do you know what I like about gardening?  Getting dirty.  I love coming inside and having mud-caked shoes and feet, dirt under my nails and my outfit covered in dirt.  Gardening is elemental and practically a spiritual exercise.  With that thought, here is my garden edition of the random 5!

1.  I planted a butterfly garden tonight...all by myself.  Meaning that I dug the hole, 4 ft. long by 1 1/2 ft. wide, placed all the individual plants and backfilled and watered it.  We are doing what we can to help save the monarchs.  They apparently only lay their larvae on milkweed, so we have some red milkweed.  I paired it with ornamental grass on either side and some gaura in the middle.  It looks great, but my back is sooooore.

2.  Things are blooming!  My mandevilla is going strong and my Kansas peonies are blooming.  They are a beautiful dark fuchsia and smell great.

3.  If you have a dog, you probably already know this, but BEWARE the land mines!  Ugh.  They are everywhere and stink so badly.  I love my dog, but his poop is a different story.

4.  Buying from an actual nursery is expensive, but usually well worth the time and money!  Our local nursery was great about recommending plants to pair together in containers and had so much variety of everything.  You can't find quite the same stuff at Home Depot or Lowe's garden centers.  You also have a hard time finding help at those places...at least I do!  Bonus:  My nursery loaded pretty much everything for me!

5.  One of the best feelings in the world is wiping off your brow, leaning on the shovel handle, popping the tab on a fresh beer, and surveying your handiwork.  It's a delight to know that I can help things grow through some hard work and great plant choices.

Now that I'm done with the butterfly garden, I have my sight set on some cascading plants to fill the trough my husband built and hung on the inside of the fence next to our new patio.  Any gardeners out there with colorful and low maintenance selections?

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mom's Day Rant

I hate commercialized holidays.  Okay, maybe hate isn't the right word.  I intensely dislike them with the passion of a thousand burning suns.  Is that more accurate for you?

As you can see, this makes the holidays I do celebrate somewhat limited.  It also makes me feel a little guilty this year, because well, I'm a stepmom and I did get an actual gift for Mother's Day.  It was something I had suggested for just such an occasion to my stepdaughter when we were out shopping one day. 

I resent such a day being corrupted by the odious machinations of a world in which people are practically shoved into a Hallmark store, thrust a dozen roses, and forced into making a reservation for brunch at some chichi place, thereby spending a sum total of half a paycheck in order to make me feel secure in the fact that I am okayish at taking care of two needy teenagers who thankfully haven't yet told me they hate me and I'm not their mother.  

I loathe to celebrate a day in which I am told mothers are the bestest and do the haaaaardest jooooobs in the most gratingly whiny voice, then spend the next 5 minutes berating their deadbeat husbands and complaining they only got a stupid card.  

My Mom, sister, and I.  I'm in front, sis is in the back.
Mom's a hottie, yo.
I am not wont to participate in a day in which fathers blog about how much their wives are worth to make sure they get half the internet to praise them for FINALLY being the ONE man to understaaaaaaand us.  I am not a fan of the needlessly endless list of hats mothers wear that people tout to somehow absolve themselves from any guilt over not really wanting to have kids.  Or, I don't know, maybe they do it because they really feel like mothers are that unacknowledged, even though it seems like this time of year we are inundated with the exact opposite of that?  Sorry, but throwing together PB& J doesn't make you a chef any more than gluing feathers to your butt makes you a bird.  Likewise with someone saying they are a nurse when all they did was spray some Bactine and slap on a bandage.  

I'm not discounting that mothers have difficult jobs.  My Mom raised 7 of us, all hardheaded, Type A personality children.  She and my Dad were and are, great parents.  My Mom is a saint for the times she held back a few choice words about her dumbass kids and their dumbass decisions.  She is also admired and respected for the times she let loose and let us have it as well.  My Mom makes the best pot roast (like candy), loves bargains, and has the WEIRDEST answers in Scattergories.  I won't even play the game unless she and my brother Eric are both playing, because they have some crazypants thoughts!

My siblings and I constantly refer to her 'Momisms' because well, how do I say this politely Mom?  She is smart, but sometimes tends to the flighty and forgets obvious things.  Love you Mom!  

My Mom is a great one and I am so thankful for her, so for a day like tomorrow, I will take the time to acknowledge that my Mom is pretty awesome.

I will never profess to be the hardest working or best at mothering.  I came upon this fate by marriage.  I have even heard people say that I am not really a mother, because I didn't have a kid myself, I just have stepkids.  To them I say, F*&@ off!  Mothers aren't magically nurturing because they squeezed out a kid.  Mothers are made, through hard work, sacrifice, lots and lots of alcohol, crying, prayers, and nightmares.  I'm not a mother because I didn't birth the two humans who take up space at our table and take half the money.  I'm a mother because I stepped in, stepped up, and gave a shit.  

I don't need roses or a card or brunch.  I don't need no stinkin' badges or medals.  I do however, need support, and lots of it.  I need support from my Mom, my sisters, my friends, my husband, and my God, because like every other 'real' mom, I need help to raise these suckers to be the best dang kiddos they can be!

Happy Mother's Day to everyone who has ever stepped in, stepped up, and given a shit!  I don't care if you are foster mothers, single women, mentors, adoptive mothers, mothers who have lost their children, stepmoms, or 'real' moms.  You. CARED.  And for THAT, this day was made.

Hallelujah!  Holy Shit!  Where's the Tylenol?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

In defense of you

I read an article this morning on the naming of Kate and William's newborn daughter.  The article discussed how awful it was that the author's 6-month old daughter was named Charlotte and now, horror of horrors, Kate and William named their daughter the same.  The author even stated that she was seriously contemplating changing her daughter's name because she didn't want her to have the same name as a bunch of other children in her class.  She wanted her daughter to be unique and ended the article apologizing to her daughter for "failing" in the name department.

To this author and her daughter and the myriad of other children out there named Charlotte, Olivia, Madison, and whatever other names are in the top 10 baby names this year, please hear me when I tell you:  YOU are enough.

A name does not lend you "uniqueness".  You are already unique, as a member of this planet, born with a mix of DNA that is uniquely yours.  Your quirks, your flaws, your skills, your experiences, your abilities, they are all completely unique to YOU.

I once felt that I was not enough.  Sometimes, when I am depressed or anxious, I still think it.  I feel like I am failing at life.  I feel like I may as well just go back to the old standby me, the one who sits around and eats, the one who cries because I never had many friends.  I sometimes feel like my uniqueness really hurt me, because I could not relate well to others.

Part of that was my own doing, because in longing for friends, I often overshot the mark and became someone I wasn't to be a part of that group.  Or, I practically stalked people so that I could become friends with them.  Imagine my surprise when showing up on someone's doorstep to talk didn't make someone a best friend either!  

My sister stayed the night here last night and Saturday night, as she was on her way to, and from, Iowa to go house hunting.  We were discussing a former friend of my stepdaughter's, who has had a lot of difficulty in school, mainly because she is highly intelligent and unafraid to speak her mind.  Let me tell you, I saw myself in her.  She sat at my table one day and corrected my stepdaughter when she misspelled a word, without being asked to, and I looked at her and tried to impart wisdom.  As I sat there looking at myself 25 years ago, I told her that I knew from personal experience, nobody likes a know-it-all.  How do I know?  Because I was that child.  My sister just nodded and said, "Yeah, you were, weren't you?"  Yeah, yeah, I was.

Why did I do that?  Well, I guess my 12-year old self thought that was the only way to impress others, because otherwise, I was not enough.  I was tall and stocky.  I couldn't play basketball because of my congenital heart defect.  I had anger issues.  I was super sensitive and cried easily whenever I was angry or upset.  I was a perfectionist who couldn't just let things go.  I overcompensated and pushed even more people away.

25 years later, I am much more comfortable in my own skin.  I embrace my intelligence.  I love my quirks.  I'm easily amused.  I love corny jokes.  I love music and will dance anywhere at any time.  I love the retro. modern aesthetic and my favorite color is purple.  I am super sarcastic and love to read.  I am an introverted extrovert.  I am boisterous and loud and chaotic, but I crave my space and time to be alone.  I often agree to go to parties and back out at the last minute because I cannot face new and different people, yet I am the first one to chat up random strangers in the elevator or at the grocery store.

I am uniquely me and I have learned that I am enough.  I am enough for my husband and my stepkids.  I am enough for my friends and most importantly, I am enough for God.

If I have some people that maybe don't like me, it's not because I am not good enough.  I am not a bad person, even though I do tend to interrupt people, because if I don't get out my thought, I tend to forget it.  I am not a bad woman, because I know more about sports than I do about hair and makeup.  I am not a bad wife because I hate scrubbing toilets.  I am not a bad friend even if I call or write infrequently.

Likewise, if you are feeling low today, if you are struggling to fit in or maintain friendships, or establish new ones, YOU are enough.  You don't have to wear yoga pants and a stained sweatshirt to prove you are a dedicated mommy.  You don't have to be dressed and made up perfectly to prove you are a hardworking person.  You don't have to listen to the music you don't like.  You don't have to play dumb or pretend to be someone you're not in order to 'fit in'.  Be you, unabashedly.  Do not apologize for your YOUness.  There were three Adams in my high school class, two Tonys, two Kristens, and two Kims.  Guess what?  They were all different.  They were all unique and their names were even spelled the SAME WAY.  *GASP*  Quelle horreur!  

A name does not define you.  A name is a great start to getting to know someone.

You'll find those that you are meant to be friends with.  I found a lot of mine in college.  I have a friend who I talk on the phone with probably twice a year.  Every time we talk, we end up quoting lines from "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles".  Every single time, we laugh.  She is my Diana Barry.

There are no unique names, people.  Unless you are making yours up out of thin air, there will be someone else (probably tens of thousands of others) with your name.  You don't need a superfluous Y, Z, K, or DEN, DYN on the end of your name to fit in to this world.  You already do.  God loves you.  Your parents love you.  You will make friends who love you and all of your quirks, too.

You are enough.