Happy Fathers day Dad.
You are an amazing man.
You are an inspiration.
You are much loved.
One day, I hope I will be just like you.
Thanks for teaching me how to fly.
The older I get, the easier it is to accept responsibility over fun. Ten years ago that is not a thought that would have lasted more than a millisecond in my brain, as I was all to often one to fulfill the self serving need.
I dont know when it started (birth) but I have always been a bit self-entitled. I remember when I was in high school I used to do this thing to my parents. When they would ask me to complete a task or help or do anything beyond the normal scope of existance, I would hold up my left pointer finger like I was counting #1 and say, “This is me.” Then I would take my right hand pointer finger and make circles around the other finger. “This is the world.”
The implication being, of course, that I envisioned the world revolving around me.
When I got engaged I looked at a ring on my mom’s hand and said, “That is the kind of ring I want!” It was quite large. A beautifully cut center stone with many many diamonds surrounding. My mom shook her head and said, “Amanda, my first ring was a very small, very imperfect, very humble stone. This was a gift from your father after 15 years of marriage.” She didn’t think it was very realistic of me to start out with the huge stone. (I think she knew that I was far more concerned with the ring than I was the actual marriage at that point.)
And she was right.
Eventually, changes were made. Faith was discovered. Humility became a goal instead of something to be avoided at all costs. But as flawed and human as I am, I stumble.
There was recently an opportunity to go on a “work” trip that was in a tropical location. It sounded like something that I would really benefit from, as the focus is photography and I am always trying to improve mine. The setting is magical, the content is exciting and challenging, the company is going to be the best, as many blogging friends are going.
The time frame? One week. A full seven days away.
And I knew I could never go.
But more importantly, after about two minutes of dreamy wishful thinking, I didn’t have a need to be there.
My kids are still so young. The oldest is just 9 and the youngest 12 months. In addition to them having needs it just doesn’t make sense for me to pursue an endeavor that would put so much stress on others. My husband for instance. While I know he would support anything that I passionately pursued, this particular trip would have been a strain on his job and time. We would have probably had to call in extra help (like a mom or a sitter) which would have been an additional stress on someone else’s time.
I just knew it wasn’t my time.
I know where I am needed right now.
I know that I will not always be needed in the same way, as little boys and girls grow and embrace independence and make their own paths in this world.
And I know that in this moment, my soul finds much more fulfillment in meeting the little (sometimes seemingly insignificant) needs of the people that I am blessed enough to call family.
It’s amazing (dumbfounds me actually) that I can find just as much satisfaction in a well made dinner than I can in career accolades, pursuits, and praises.
Today, well, today I simply feel blessed to simply be needed.
In 10 years? Watch out sandy beach, here I come!
If you can agree to any of the statements below, just stop reading this and move on with your day. Trust me.
1. You passed high school Biology. (The frog dissection part).
2. You have basic knowledge of how frogs procreate and give birth.
3. The idea of seeing frogs being intimate does not gross you out. Likewise, watching frogs have babies is not gross. Because really, I don’t actually know what I have captured a picture of.
If you happened to have answered yes to the above statements but are still here, don’t say I didn’t warn you. The sheer stupidity that I am about to admit has sent me lurching down a shame spiral. To this day I still do not know what I saw.
It all started innocently enough. I was working inside last Saturday and the kids came running in.
“Mom, mom! The leeches are taking the frog down. They are killing it!”
Well, that sounds lovely. Why don’t I head down to the pond with you and check things out.
So we all venture down to the shoreline, me with camera in tow. In my mind I had conjured up an image of a poor sickly frog being slowly sucked to death by dozens of ravenous leeches. I was prepared for gross. Or, at least I thought I was.
There was one little froggy hanging out on a branch so I snapped his mugshot. But as I looked into the water, things got weird.
There were a lot of frogs. I want to say at least a hundred just in one of our ponds. And they seemed to be mating.
I stared at them. I mean, as a city girl I had never really seen a lot of frog mating and honestly I was a bit fascinated. Grossed out, but fascinated.
The kids were asking questions and I was pretending I didn’t know, because having a “birds and the bee’s” discussion wasn’t in the cards for that day.
I mean, there were frogs humping everywhere. It was like amphibian smut. Explicit frog art. The “birds and the frogs”.
But then I looked even closer.
There was this stuff everywhere.
Black strings of stuff. EVERYWHERE.
MASSIVE amounts of it.
All around in the water there were globs of it.
Turns out its frog babies.
That is not the technical term (and since I am not planning on looking it up anytime soon I will just stick to that), but I will hold fast to the wild assumption that it’s babies based on the little I do know about the birthing process.
That and this picture.
Where it seems that the babies are being ‘laid’ or ‘born’ or excreted from a frog. Is it coming from the top frog? So the female frog is on top?
Oh, ok. I get it now!
Um, no, no I don’t.
So as I stood there in complete disbelief that I could be so entirely clueless about the frog mating and birthing process, I noticed the blobs of black frog babies were moving.
That’s when I noticed the leeches. There are three that I can see in the picture above. They were feasting.
Ugh, that word makes me shudder.
They were writhing and rolling and feasting on the unsuspecting unborn.
It was a horrific. It was nature. My husband got excited at the prospect of fat leeches for fishing. I declared myself incapable of comprehending the frog baby murders occurring right before my eyes.
The kids got hungry and went inside for snacks.
My disbelief froze me. I stood there, camera poised but not taking any pictures. Just watching.
After some time a lone frog made his way over to me and started croaking.
It was so loud it hurt my ears. Was it a mating call? Was he warning his fellow comrades of the brutal leech feast occurring on his potential offspring? Was he just sick of me standing there? I will never know.
I did manage to capture this moment of that sweet little frog croaking so loud his vocal sac was about to burst.
It was so still in the moment leading up to his song that the water reverberated with his chorus.
That was cool to see.
So while I am fully scarred from the days events and will never fully understand what we all witnessed that day, at least I can look back and appreciate the frog song.
And when I say appreciate I really mean not appreciate. It is SO loud and annoying! My brain was hurting.
Moral of the story: Frogs are weird. I do not understand frog sex and baby making. They are loud. Leeches are disgusting. Having ponds is not as cool as you would think.
even though I asked him to look at her
even though I told them to hug
even though he protested
and clenched his fist
and tried not to smile
even though he acts so much tougher than he is…
he loves that pesky sister of his.
And she adores him.
I made a mini-resolution to myself. Start getting real on my blog.
Which is weird because no one told me to stop being real, but I have been slowly morphing into “safe” mode. Just get by. Don’t ruffle feathers. Not consciously mind you, I think it was a subconscious act of preservation. Blogging ain’t for the weak ya’all.
So I normally wouldn’t post this recipe. It’s just too… indulgent. Too weird. I mean… chocolate buttery sugary GLAZE poured over chocolate pancakes?
But my all time favorite way to eat pancakes is with butter. Lots and lots of butter. Syrup I can give or take… but butter is a must.
So, I melted some butter. Added some chocolate chips. Then some sugar.
And it was sweet and fabulous. But I needed a hint of bitter in there, to heighten the sweetness of the glaze even more, so I added raspberries.
I have not specified the fruit in this recipe at all, but I highly recommend adding something with a bit of acidity in it, or at the very least a fruit with a little tang. Oranges would be ah-mazing, lemon, some apples, some blueberries or blackberries. You can really (and you really should) test to your hearts content.
I prefer my chocolate chip pancakes to have less chocolate chips. Sounds weird, but I love pancakes so much, I like to be able to taste them! When you have too many chocolate chips the only thing you can taste is chocolate. (I know, I know, it’s like I have lost my mind.)
The glaze for these pancakes is really, really focused on the butter flavor. There is that hint of chocolate and sweet, but (as I mentioned above) really wanted to make sure the buttery deliciousness I crave was dominant. If you wanted to use syrup instead that would work great too!
(To make this Blueberry Cheesecake click here.)
My original Rainbow Pancakes have been quite controversial, but hopefully that is all done. I am sharing a slightly less technicolor version of them today, AND sharing tips on how you can great the Perfect Rainbow Pancake, just in time for Easter!
Here are a few tips!
Have lots of bowl on hand. By far the most time consuming part of rainbow pancakes is creating six batters in six different bowls. I suggest enlisting the little ones in the entire process, and then allow them to help with clean up afterwards. I have found that this helps them understand that this is a “special” event and not something we do everyday.
Cook low and slow. I often cook my rainbow pancakes at 250 degrees F on the griddle.
Do not use butter to grease pan. I do not use anything to prepare the pan, I simply use a a griddle that is non-stick.
Make all of one color at once. I prepare all of the pink, then the orange, then so on. I place finished pancakes on a warming plate in the oven, and that way I can serve all of the pancakes hot and in rainbow color order!
If you want to make shape you can place batter into a pastry bag and cut off a tiny bit of the corner. Make an outline and then quickly fill the shape in. This can be esepceially fun with you have so many different colors!
I do not recommend using cookie cutter to get the designed shape you want. The average person (like me!) does not have 5 of one shape cookie cutter, so this means you are making one pancake at a time. You also need to spray the cookie cutter before each use and be careful because it gets very hot! I have yet to find a way to make this method be efficient.
Use a “good” recipe. I put good in quotations because what I really mean is use a recipe that is ideal for creating beautiful looking pancakes. The following recipe is one that tastes delicious, but is slightly runnier. When you are making colorful pancakes you do not want them to get too brown, so having a pancake that will cook faster (and therefor allow you to flip sooner) is ideal. This recipe uses a lot of baking powder so it still fluffs up nicely.
If you want to make sure your pancake is done, let them cook on one side a bit longer. It is just fine if one side is more brown, just serve that side down.
I slightly adapted this recipe from Allrecipes.com, but any basica recipe will do. Simply add more liquid to achieve better results.
Use a good food coloring. With this recipe specifically you can use liquid food coloring with great success! It’s also a great time to get your teacher hat on with the kids, and help them to figure out what colors you need to combine to achieve orange and purple and green.
Enjoy the process. Most of all, enjoy this time in the kitchen with your little ones. They grow up so fast!
I recently had an email in my inbox. It was from care.com and read:
Recently, an anonymous letter berating a set of parents who brought their baby to a ski resort went viral. People were quick to pick sides — and a heated debate began: “Are there certain types of vacations that simply are not appropriate for kids and babies?” Two Care.com employees (one a parent, one a former service industry manager) have different reactions. What are your thoughts?
Now, I was pretty sure what the two lines of thinking were going to be.
One would say that babies shouldn’t be allowed on vacation and the other would say that they should.
I clicked over to the article and started reading.
And kept reading.
And the more I read, the more disbelief set in.
BOTH opinions agreed that babies should not be taken anywhere. And one suggested that
(and this is the part that gets me)
a crying baby should be brought down to the lobby to be quieted.
“Just as a family with a crying baby should leave a restaurant when it gets too bad, so should parents at a resort. They should have gone to the lobby to soothe the child. No, it’s not convenient, but we all need to be more considerate of each other, especially when people around you are eating or sleeping.”
Um, what’s this you say person who does not have any kids? Surely you jest.
Let me just jump right in and share my biggest issues with this drama.
1. If it’s such an upscale ski resort, why are the walls so paper thin?
2. Since when is “should babies be allowed” EVEN A DEBATE? Next thing you know there will be “BABY ONLY” sections of hotels. Or restaurants. Or malls. Or planes. (That last one is not a bad idea… )
3. Who on earth would bring a screaming baby from your private hotel room to a public lobby to try to sooth? I would never dream of telling the party goers to take it to the lobby. Or the loud ‘intimate’ people. I mean, can you imagine?
Banging on the door. “Can you folks please continue your escapade in the lobby while I am trying to sleep? You are ruining my vacation!”
I am completely dumbfounded by that line of thinking.
Here are five really important and technical and educated reasons that I find this to be phooey.
1. I have more than one child. I simply cannot leave my other children alone in a hotel room while I go hang out in the lobby.
2. I nurse my babies and often try to nurse to sooth them. There is no way I would feel comfortable nursing my baby in a public lobby. Why hello Mr. Night Shift Manager! Yes I am desperately trying to force my child to latch on to my nipple and they keep refusing but I keep trying because I know once they do they will calm down and feel better!
3. I happen to think bringing a crying baby to a lobby is rude. More rude that attempting to deal with the situation in a private room that I paid to be in.
4. Crying babies are more stressful for the mom than the baby! Not only are we worried about said child, but we are worried about the other kids, the disruption, wether we will ever sleep again, if we remembered to shut the garage door when we left for the vacation… you get the idea. It’s stressful for all involved.
5. It’s stupid.
Trust me oh-complaining-ones, I want my little cherub to go to sleep just as much as you do. And I promise, I am doing everything in my power to make that happen.
But you know what? The suggestion of not leaving home with a baby ever is just plain rubbish.
Sometimes travel is inevitable. Sometimes circumstances are more important that potential annoyances. Sometimes plans are made and money is spent before you even realize you are pregnant. (And yes, that has happened to me, twice.)
Sometimes people need to have compassion instead of being so darn judgmental and rude.
Here, let me solve this whole big overinflated ridiculous dilemma for you.
Accept that babies are here to stay. (Especially in hotel rooms: Don’t discriminate against the baby unless you are going to discriminate against the act of making a baby. #word)
Mister Edward (or Eddie as we call him) woke up bright eyed and with a hungry belly this morning.
His request on his very special day?
These are just simple waffles with a bit of whipped cream and sprinkles, but definitely something new to him.
He was in disbelief.
He didn’t know if he could eat it.
He wanted to eat it, but hesitated.
I told him to dig in.
He did! And only at the whipped cream and sprinkles.
But is one very happy three year old.
Happy Birthday Eddie!
Life has been crazy.
I have been stressed and calm and happy and sad and excited and dejected and that was just today.
Since updating my mommy blog has been something I have been wanting to do forever but have been woefully negligent in doing so, I am just going FULL BOAR on it tonight.
This little man is growing up. In less than a month he will be 3 and I cant handle it. He is my snuggle bear and so stinking cute and makes us all laugh on a daily basis.
I have started taking our sweet Eddie to speech therapy once a week. It was a tough choice because he is so small and because it’s quite expensive and our deductible is very, very high so we pay for most everything! But he is worth it and I am hoping to see some improvement soon. He seems to have a hard time with “sm” words and “pr” words. He also drops words and doesn’t care to identify ‘he’ and ‘she’ correctly. All fixable, and the prognosis is very good.
This sassy malassy is a stinker winker bear. My sweet Audrey. Full of spirit and words and energy, I find that she is my greatest challenge everyday. Not only does she love to get dressed up as a princess (every.single.day.) but she is now obsessed with Elsa from Frozen and is constantly asking for us to tie blankets around her so she can have a long cape. Not that the cold bothers her, that is.
Cookies on Blue Plate by Parker
Cookies on Red Plate by Colton
I have been trying to teach Colton and Parker photography basics. So far we have started on food photography, and they are LOVING it.
The above assignment was for the kids to pick any props they wanted and they had to “style” the shoot. Once they got everything laid out they way they wanted, we put the camera on a tri-pod and talked about lighting. How light bounces and reflects and shadows and natural vs. artificial.
This has been challenging because I am always learning as well!, but youtube has some great tutorials.
Secretly I am hoping one of them really has a passion for photography and I can start asking them to take all my blog pictures for me!
I started writing a series on Intentional Parenting. I have two weeks done now, and its really making a difference in my life! Just hoping to do some more research and get some life experience before I share it. Hoping it will help others as much as me!
I have also started running. As in, running. I know that is hard to believe as anyone who knows me knows I HATE RUNNING. One day I just woke up and said, “I think I need to like running.” And I did.
This was the first time I ran over 2 miles. I think I had a permagrin that whole night. It felt SO good to reach that goal!
Tonight I ran 4 miles in 52 minutes. That actually equals out to be a slow jog, like a 13 minute mile, but its a big deal for me. A BIG deal. The night before last I ran for one hour straight. No stopping. An hour!
I look forward to my run everyday and have thankfully avoided injury thus far. My biggest challenge to date is mental. I get bored. I get distracted. I get tired. (da) So hubby downloaded The Biggest Loser and I watch that. It’s been REALLY helpful and inspirational. (I tried running without it and was only able to go a mile… that goes to show how mentally weak I am!)
Just hoping I can stick with it and get healthy (er).
image credit susan powers
Last but not least is this guy. Officially on the book store shelves in 2 days. Talk about a labor of love! I have developed such a huge respect for the people in this industry. The literary agents and publicists and publishers and editors and copyeditors. Wow. Those folks are such a talented and creative and AMAZING bunch. I hope to have the opportunity to know them more in the future.
That being said, if you have not purchased the book do it NOW! (please) I want to share this experience with you and read it with you and bake cakes together!
And with that I am headed to bed. (And I didnt even talk about homeschooling! I have some big changes to report on that front. Hopefully soon!)