My Week Of Single-Momming It… Coming To A Close

Ah what a week! Spurred on by the imagination and ingenuity (and straight crazy) of these little minds around me.

I feel like this is a stage of life where there is so much to contemplate and express and it’s also the stage where there is absolutely no time to do so.

All I want to do is write (all caps: w.r.i.t.e.) about it all day long. But I don’t get the chance.

But here I finally sit.

Scanning my mind and thoughts for the beauty that was this week. The beauty that I savored and want to keep forever. The difficulty. The trying moments that came and went. Remembering it all. Summoning it and asking it to the surface.

Brenden has been gone since Monday. He doesn’t travel much anymore so when he’s gone it’s a huge deal. It makes me realize once again how amazing military wives/single moms/anyone who is alone with their kids are.

We went to the library and checked out a book showing exactly where he is. Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The Capital of hipster-ness. Truly.

Our favorite bakery is there, Sweethaus.

It was started in Charlottesville by two Brooklynites (Is that what they call themselves?) who moved back to Brooklyn to open a store there as well. We took this picture last year.

I love this place for so many sweet reasons.

So there have beens lots of “I miss Daddy”s this week. And today, with tears from Brielle, “I miss Daddy to the Galaxies and back.”

That’s kind of a big deal. We usually miss each other from “Brazil to India” or “New York to Africa” but to the Galaxies?? What does that even mean.

More tears.

And then from Michael in the back seat:

Mommy I so hot turn on the heat.
I so hoooootttttt!!!! Turn on the heat!

I rolled down the window hoping to distract/cool him down. In came the cool air.

Roll the window DOWN!! I cold!!!!!

All day every day.

Depending on my mood I will either laugh hysterically, because let’s be honest, kids are freaking halaruous if we have the sense of humor and sleep under our belts to enjoy them. OR I will sit with twitching eyelids as my body goes into shock. My nervous system shutting down; shock.

Thank God for the reintroduction of preschool this week. Oh preschool. Three weeks away from you is far too long.

And last night my sister came over for dinner with her kids.

Older kids are heroes, just because they are. But older kids who are “cousins”?? Don’t even. This is one of my favorite pics of cousin love ever; from this past summer.

Brielle made a “pig-naut” party-hat for Ivan. (Think “astronaut” in pig form.) It was a huge hit for the moms in the room. Namely me.

I mean, this is incredible.

Sisters are built in best friends. And I am so grateful for mine.
This was last year in the same NYC. What memories!

I’ve realized this week that a toddler who misses his daddy is the same as a toddler who thinks his daddy has deserted him; doesn’t love him anymore and all other negative/similar things either existing or imagined.

A toddler who misses his daddy doesn’t just “miss” his daddy. He thinks his daddy has abandoned and left him forever and for dead. And so of course his mom is going to leave too. Cue attachment anxiety.

This week I’m learning how Michael processes things. And it’s very different from how Brielle processes things.

Brielle says: mommy I miss daddy. Huge tears.

Michael says: Throw. stomp. rage.

He speaks in actions, and I’m not used to that, because I have a daughter who literally says things like, “Mommy, I’m jealous.” I don’t have to read her mind or her emotions. They are laid right out there for me. And I hope that doesn’t change.

Michael says more with his facial expressions and his throwing and stomping and biting (yes my kid bites) than his words ever do.

And it’s my job to interpret/read his emotions from his actions. Most of the time his horrible actions.

Yesterday I found myself in public saying: “you miss daddy don’t you.” As a response to him throwing trains. I love how as moms we feel the need to explain everything to everyone around us. Us poor moms.

Last night I was tired and running on empty. And I knew Michael was on empty too. He’s been dad-less for the past four days. No 5pm daddy coming in. No wresting and talks and star wars battles. No DADDA. Poor guy. You don’t just erase that part and still be okay 4 days later.

My kids are very different in what fills up their cups. Sometimes with Brielle it’s kisses all over her face and I feel her tank being filled and her security coming back. “Kiss me on my lips” brings a light to her eyes. “I love you THIS much.” Hands from here to here make her smile and warm inside. Sometimes it’s just lots of books and conversations. Connecting and talking. Communicating.

With Micael a lot of the time it’s tickling and wrestling and all the physical things Brenden is so good at. But he also loves talking about tomorrow. And what we did today. And praying. Which is amazing. I love that he loves praying.

Last night we read lots and lots of books. Lots of time on each page. Pointing to this and that. Not turning the page when I desperately wanted to be done. “That’s a grader. That’s a steam-roller. That’s an excavator. That’s a front loader.” Over and over. The details. The care. The time. It filled up his cup and he was happy.

The time I spend with my babies is what makes them feel secure.

And when they feel secure they go to sleep happy.
And when they sleep I sleep.
And we all wake up happy. And healthy. And then I can laugh at those harrowing/crazy conversations that only a toddler can create.

Time and attention. It’s priceless and more valuable than anything else on the planet. And it’s not an unlimited resource. Which is why I am so grateful that Brenden is on his way home.

Wow this post was all over the place! Kind of like our week.

Happy almost weekend and we are doing a hope-for-snow-dance over here!
XOXO

 



2017! Let’s DO THIS. (Odd number and all.)

Happy New Year!

Wow… In three years it will be “2020”. I will be in even-number-heaven. This year, however… 17??? Eeeew. I’ll get over it.

Because this is going to be an incredible year.

It will be a year of “Stripping Away.” I was going to say “balance” but what does balance really mean anymore? It’s such a beat-up word.

I think my scales are “balancing” a lot of the wrong things anyway… Half the things on my scales shouldn’t even be there. They just sort of accumulated over years of “yeses” internally and externally and suddenly here I am.

I want this year to be a year that tips the scales. To the side of scarcity, and quiet, and whatever is on the side of living and “being” with more intention and purpose, love and joy, and simple pleasures. Helping others, enjoying the quiet in-between moments that have become so scarce in my distraction-filled life.

I want this year to be the year where I create new scales on which a new balance is measured. A whole new scale. With individual items I place after much consideration.

I want to have less so I can enjoy what I have more.
I want the house to be less cluttered so I can play more and clean less. (That really is how it works.)
I want to live like I don’t have an unlimited amount of days/weeks/months and years.
I want to pray. Pray. PRAY. A lot more than I do.
I want to encourage my kids to be dreamers. And goal-oriented. Even little goals like leaning to whistle.
I want to continue to get to know myself. And spend time alone with myself. It’s so fun, who knew!
I want to help someone in the community. Really help. And I want the the kids to help too.
I want to discover God’s purpose for me in a deeper way. Past what I “think” He wants for me in this season, to what I KNOW He wants for me.
I want to be a better wife.
I want to have an easy laugh. Brenden says I already have an easy laugh… but I want to have an EASIER laugh. People who laugh make everyone around them so happy!
I will be more empathetic,
I will be less judgmental.
I will spend more time with my mom.
I will read more fiction.
I will have daily devotional time.
I will pray for my husband.
I will keep things in perspective.
I will work out and eat whole foods.
I will eat less sugar, and feed less to my children.
I will learn to embrace aging and the passage of time as a gift, not a negative thing to dread.

I am so so excited about this new year.

God, thank you for the privilege and blessing of being healthy and alive to see this New Year. I am so grateful for your provision and Grace.

This year is going to KICK ASS.

Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.
– Unknown



Just Another Thursday

Today was a day I could actually HEAR Michael and Brielle growing.

Do you ever have days like that? Where your kids wake up and just look different?

Today Michael woke up from his nap and I swear his head looked bigger. This poor guy has a tough job ahead of him growing into this head. 🙂

Some days I go from start to finish without even thinking about how fleeting this stage of motherhood is. But today I was constantly in tune with the changing of the seasons, the slightly different/more mature way Brielle responded when I said certain things, the way Michael’s little chubby cheeks didn’t look quite so chubby.

It’s insane watching this happen. And when I get a quiet moment like right now, sitting at the end of Brielle’s bed while she stirs and tries to go to sleep, I let the emotion of it overwhelm me. Because it is so overwhelming.

It’s beautiful and sorrowful and happy and painful all at the same time. And I am thoroughly letting myself feel every single bit of it. I am embracing the thick ache in my chest when my mind wanders to Brielle not being in her little pink room, tucked tightly in her little purple sheets… with lots more tomorrows of fun and laughter and cut up knees and exploring (and childhood!!) ahead of us.

And it’s just that… There’s not an infinite number of tomorrows.

But I take comfort knowing that so far each new stage has been even more amazing than the last. And I can’t wait to see who this little girl will be.

Ah, but back to our day!

They put on a production for me:


And had lots of fun at lunch.

“Michael, let’s play Simon Says. I’ll be Simon, you be Says.” (This was from yesterday but was too cute not to add.)

We made “New York City” for our trucks to drive on, I remember drawing roads for my match-box cars like this when I was their age!

After the gym we went to the playground only to find the slides wet and the swings wetter. But that made for some fun in the puddles.

We went on a walk around the neighborhood and Eustace was the leader. (Always.)

I used to get twenty “sleeping pictures” a week. Now I get none. So there’s this one, taken with a flash!

Brielle is so lucky to have a brother who ASKS to have tea parties with her. And he can pour a mean pot of tea, too! (Okay, his hands look super chubby here, yay.)

Looooong day. It’s true, the days are long and the years are short. I’m so ready to pass out. This is M fishing in his pond at bath-time. He is such a water baby. 

Tomorrow is Friday!!! Goodnight.



Christmas Numero Tres… Co-Starring Braised Beef Short Ribs!

Three days of celebrating – I’m tired! We celebrated with my family Christmas Eve, Brenden’s mom Christmas day and Brenden’s dad the day after Christmas.

That’s a lot of eating and drinking and being merry! I can’t wait to get back on track and organized mentally and physically for the new year.

I made slow-cooker braised short ribs for Dinner for our Christmas Number Three. Compliments of Sarah The Cow. It’s amazing at how fast we are going through this cow share!

Regardless, this was the most delicious fall-off-the-bone meat ever. I found it on glutenfreehomestead.com.

At 9AM Brielle helped me get the meat in the slow-cooker. (3-4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs.) She sprinkled salt and pepper on the ribs after I washed them with cold water.

We cut up three carrots, a stalk of celery and an onion.
I put some coconut oil in a pan and browned the meat, 4 minutes on each side. Then into the slow-cooker it went.
I used the hot pan to fry the veggies up, about 8 minutes.

I added two tablespoons coconut flour (I’ve never used this before and it smelled so good in the pan!)

And 1 and 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste. Stir stir stir.

Add 1 and 1/2 cups red wine, bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 8 minutes to reduce. I used this fabulous $8.00 wine from Trader Joes.

Add 1 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp rosemary and one bay leaf, and 1 1/2 tsp salt. Add two cups beef stock. Stir.

Remove from heat and pour sauce over ribs in the slow cooker.

Cover and turn on low – cook for 7-8 hours and be prepared to be amazed when you open it up and taste it. AMMMMAZED.

I made some fun sides, but my favorite was the bacon roasted brussel sprouts.

It’s exactly what it sounds like: Bacon and Brussels!



I love how there are actual leaves on the stove-top. My kitchen was A MESS during this whole process. Cooking with kids is chaos. 😀

Before dinner we did presents. AGAIN! By far the kid’s favorite present from Grandpop was this remote-controlled ROBOT dinosaur that I promptly named “Shiny.” Even though he is obviously a boy.

He’s so life-like it kind of freaks me out. He’s programmed to lean in when you rub his head, and even when I say, “pet his head” to one of the kids, he leans IN toward them. He was walking and sensed the Christmas tree and lowered his head to avoid bumping into it. At one point I touched his tail and I saw him re-balance himself, making tiny life-like movements. EEEEEK.

He’s a generally happy dinosaur, unless he’s in “hunting” mode, (yes, you can change his mood) or “cautious mode.” He’s so cute when he’s being “playful.” And the kids just love him. I really have no idea what their future will look like, but based on what their childhood looks like (ROBOTS) I have a feeing it’s going to be incredible. And pretty “futuristic.”

I get really weird when it comes to robots… I feel like one day they will become very involved in our lives.. and after meeting Shiny I have a feeling that time will be sooner rather than later.

Brielle and Michael have been so super cute together the last few days. When there’s no school and no playmates besides each other this is what happens!

Brielle loves asking Michael to “read” to her. This is a Noah’s Ark book that is all illustrations (beautiful illustrations, done by Peter Spier.) And Michael is making up the cutest words.

Whenever he stops: “Keep reading Michael.”

I love my pjs from my MIL and my throw from my FIL. Plaid on Plaid on Plaid! Pokie is giving me some serious kisses. She’s so sweet.

Whew THAT WAS FUN. And more than enough Holiday love and joy to last the whole year through. I’m so ready for 2017 and all the awesomeness it’s going to bring. There’s nothing more inspiring than a New Year!

I’ll leave you with this last bit of Holiday Cheer: A “real reindeer” and my favorite little dinosaur.

XOXO!

 



Christmas Day! Joy To The World!

I was completely off social media this Christmas and it was such a beautiful change. Normally I would fill the tiny cracks and spaces with posting and liking and scrolling. But the last few days have been nothing but “being.”

No running dialogue in my head of things I’ve read or things I’ve posted or things I want to share. No extra “noise.” Just lots of being with family, enjoying/not enjoying moments. Life and thoughts. And I cherished and valued the small quiet moments that would normally be filled with distraction.

It was A Sunday on steroids! Laying around, mess all around us. Literally digging through paper to find this and that to play with. Zero plans to clean up. It’s a Wonderful Life in the background. This. is. Christmas.

Brielle’s request for Christmas breakfast was chocolate chip pancakes. Seemed reasonable enough. I ate three.

Then we went downstairs.

Before:



After:

And lots of in-between:




I love keeping track of what the kids have asked for in years past. It’s so precious because they could have asked for so many things, but the requests have remained simple and sweet. For now. And I’ll enjoy it while I can.

When Brielle was two she asked for a yo-yo. She didn’t even know what a yo-yo was. I’m sure of it.

When she was three she wanted a Cinderella dress and glass slippers.

This Christmas Brielle asked for a beauty kit and sled, and Michael asked for a “real football.” I honestly didn’t know what she meant by “beauty kit”, but she was more than thrilled with the mixture of things I found at Big Lots, (lipgloss, nail polish, cute little adhesive stick on nails, etc.) and a real compact with glitter-y makeup in it from Amazon.

Michael’s favorite present were his light-up shoes. Words can’t explain the love this boy has for those blue and orange Puma shoes! He wanted to sleep in them tonight.

After we opened gifts we headed to Grammy and Grampy’s in Fredericksburg for dinner and more gifts. Brielle brought her new doll, “Cora Bruce.” It’s amazing the names she comes up with for her toys!

Everyone napped, except Brenden. I woke up with my contact lenses stuck to my eye balls. Favorite kind of nap ever! And much needed.

Brielle and Michael were so excited when Grammy’s purple house came into view. I love that Brenden’s mom picked this color out herself, it’s so pretty!

Of all the presents the beautiful sugar cookies were the biggest hit. Or at least for the moment. 




Oh what fun.

And on the way home we prayed to God for snow and talked about the New Year, and what “a new year” even means.

There’s so much more I want to say, so many small details and prayers and conversations that happened throughout this beautiful Christmas day. But I’m going to sleep, and if I put this post off until later I may never re-visit it again. So I am publishing it now and moving on.

One of my favorite quotes (Brenden says it often) is “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” Mmm hmm. If I waited for perfect I would never complete anything.

Merry Christmas and JOY TO THE WORLD!

XOXO



Christmas Eve (This Christmas is Special Because…)

Sometimes the simplest comments make the most impact. Today Brenden said: ” You know what’s so special about THIS Christmas??” And we all stopped our whining and complaining and looked at him like we were about to get an early present.
“What??”
“It’s the only Christmas Brielle will be four and Michael will be two.” And then we had a long discussion about how Christmas comes once a year, and so do birthdays, and no, Brielle, you were not four last Christmas, you were three. But all that constant banter aside, Brenden’s comment was not lost on me.
So here I sit, desperate to get some memories down before they are lost in the abyss of “too many pictures” land.

Today we celebrated Christmas with the extended family. All 45 of us. Brenden and I made exactly three turkeys. Well, one turkey and two turkey breasts. We didn’t have the oven space for all three so one was slow-cooked (and turned out a little gross) the other was cooked in the oven as usual, and the third Brenden smoked. Outside. At 6 am. In the rain. Talk about commitment!



Remmy is always under-foot, waiting for something to drop.. and something always does. 

I made my favorite cranberry sauce. It’s four ingredients and the prettiest/tastiest sauce ever. 



3 cups cranberries, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup orange juice, 1 tsp orange zest- simmer for 10 minutes. Delish.
Then we headed to Grandmoms! Actually Great-Grandmom’s… who passed away just a couple months ago. This was mom’s way of honoring her, having Christmas at her house and closing that chapter properly. So we all happily obliged. And surprisingly only a few tears were shed. We miss her so.

The house was decorated beautifully and there were tasty treats everywhere. Brielle was in heaven. My favorite was the little mouse mom made out of hershey’s kisses and chocolate covered cherries(!!!) And Brielle’s face… oh my.


So many cousins and noise and fun! Mom and the kids put on the most adorable nativity play and we sang carols to accompany it. 


Gifts! Grandmommy always gave books and this is the last year we will be getting her thoughtful reads. *tears*

Cuddles with Uncle Ethan.

Kitchen time. Lots of it!

We left after tons of food and fun and headed to Christmas Eve service where we volunteered to help with the kids. Turns out all the kids wanted to stay with the parents in the service so we got to do the same! Michael went up on stage to “sing with Paul Zach” who is the praise and worship leader and his absolute hero. Brielle was too shy and wanted to sit in my lap and watch from a safe distance.


He may look like he’s singing but he’s not. He didn’t sing one word, he just looked around and LOVED being up there with all the big kids!

Everyone was over-tired and couldn’t get bathed and in bed fast enough. ME TOO. What a day!
Can’t wait for Christmas morning!!!!



Bacon Cabbage Chuck Beef Stew: Paleo Comfort Food!

Good old Crock-Pot meals… I can be having a haaaale of a week and if I have dinner cooking in the slow-cooker I feel like I can (possibly) hold it all together.

This week I’ve had a couple of those days. Monday for example: Everything I did I had to re-do. The kids were sick and not sleeping. I was tired. I came home from running errands and put an entire load of freshly washed laundry BACK into the washer. It was in the hamper upstairs ready to be folded and I thought it was dirty and started the process all over again!

But in the background my good old Crock-Pot was dutifully “doing.” So I breathed in.

And let me tell you what I smelled.

We recently got a cow share. Hm. Does “beef” share sound better? Either way I have a freezer full of grass-fed beef that I know lived a happy and healthy life. We named it Sarah. Don’t think about that too long. I try not to. 😉img_5202 img_5203This is our first time doing a beef share, and it’s super fun to pull out different cuts for different recipes.

So Monday I pulled out a mammoth sized chuck roast. When Brielle saw it she said ‘That’s something a dinosaur eats.” and then “Is that BLOOD?” Yeah, she doesn’t eat red meat and probably never will after seeing this.

I found this recipe on The Nourished Caveman. It is so easy and delicious.

Ingredients
  • ½ pound of organic uncured bacon, in strips
  • 2 to 3 pound grass-fed and -finished chuck roast, cut in 2″ pieces
  • 2 large organic red onions, peeled and cut in slices
  • 1 clove organic garlic, peeled and smashed – (I used minced in a jar garlic)
  • 1 small organic green or Savoy cabbage
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 sprig fresh organic thyme
  • 1 cup of homemade beef bone broth (I used organic store-bought but now I can make some bone broth with the bones from this cut!)

We started by putting the bacon in the bottom of the slow cooker. Michael helped with this until I caught him with an entire piece of raw bacon in his mouth. Reallllly gross. img_5201
img_5204Then we sliced the red onions and added them to the bacon along with the garlic.
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Then we cut the beef and the cabbage. This was a group effort, which means a LOT more effort on my part, and zero time for picture taking.

This is the easy breakdown of all steps:

  1. bacon slices to line the bottom
  2. onion slices and garlic
  3. the chuck roast
  4. the cabbage slices
  5. the thyme
  6. the broth
  7. add few pinches of sea salt and a liberal amount of freshly ground black pepper
  8. Cook on low for 7 hours.
  9. Serve in bowls.

This is Michael adding the cabbage. It looks like a lot of cabbage but it will caramelize down beautifully!
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I love including them in the cooking. It is pretty time consuming (and more than a little messy) but I know it’s invaluable.

After the stew was done I stirred it all up, added some salt and tasted it.
It was sooooo good. I didn’t know how the onions and bacon would turn out because the onions were a big pile in the bottom of the slow cooker and the bacon was in raw strips (???) but they were a delicious caramelized tangle of goodness.

The beef was tender and to die for.

But the cabbage was my favorite. It had amazing flavor and was so delicious. I’m going to slow cook some cabbage alone with some bone broth very soon. The health benefits of cabbage are off the charts and I didn’t know slow cooking it would make it so tasty!

So there it is. And I’m eating leftovers right now! It’s perfect for a Fall/Winter day. XOXO

 

 



Mexican-Style Pulled Pork

Yet another slow-cooker pork recipe to add to my arsenal! Praise the easy recipe gods.

And this might be my favorite yet.

I had high hopes for this recipe for a few reasons. One being that it called for enchilada sauce. That just spelled “comfort food” to me. And let me tell you, it does not disappoint in this category.

This pulled pork can (and should!) be served over everything from baked potatoes to big fat rolls to corn tortillas. And the sides… I can’t even imagine the tastes that would compliment this. Coleslaw, Pinto beans, Collards, oh my!

We kept it simple tonight and ate the face off some tacos. With a side of spicy black beans.

Mexican-Style Pulled Pork:

You will need –

  • 2 to 3 lb. pork butt or shoulder
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/2 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 2 green chilies, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix the last six ingredients in the list (the spices) in bowl and rub it all over the meat.
img_0721
img_0719Put the seasoned meat in a slow cooker (turned on low.)

Now pour over the meat:
The salsa, the enchilada sauce, the green peppers, (I used 1/2 can of mild green chilies – sliced – instead) and the beef stock.
img_0722Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Once it’s done, take the meat out and let it rest. Strain the sauce with a colander into a saucepan.) It’t hot! Cook the sauce over medium heat until it thickens a bit.

I added two tablespoons of corn starch to a portion of it and once it was dissolved I added it back to the pan. It thickened the sauce nicely! Totally optional, but gave it more of a gravy comfort food vibe.

Shred the pork using two forks, and put back in the slow cooker with the thickened sauce, combining with a few stirs. Cover the crock pot and cook on high heat for another 20 minutes. I didn’t cook it the additional 20 minutes, (we are impatient over here,) and it still turned out perfect. 

Open it up (again) and enjoy!!!!

XOXO

*This recipe (minus a few changes) is from Paleo Leap: My go-to treasure trove for all things Paleo!

 

 



Slow-Cooker Cochinita-Style Pork

Can I just tell you how much I love trying a new crockpot meal? Especially pork?

1) If we love them, I have yet another easy meal to add to my list of go-tos.
2) I love seeing Brenden happy, and it seems he’s happiest eating PORK.
3) Slow-cooker recipes usually have lots of leftovers, and leftovers are my best friend.

This is a style of pork I’ve never even heard of before! It’s a traditional Mexican slow-roasted pork that is prepared by marinating the meat in strongly acidic citrus juice. And the mix of spices is superb.

The recipe calls for Pork Butt. Which, if you want to be less grossed out you can just call “Pork Shoulder.” It’s a great cut of meat for the crock-pot because it has lots of good fat to render, and it’s a great cut of meat for your wallet because it’s more economical than most cuts. WIN.

The ingredients:
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  • 4 lbs pork butt
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2/3 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 habanero peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

I always cut my veggies first, even before I even open the meat. I want the meat to be the last thing that touches my surfaces.

So first I dice the tomatoes, slice the red onions, and dice the red peppers. Already I am loving this meal, just look at these beautiful colors!
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I dump all of that in a big bowl, and put it aside for later.
Now I juice the limes and pour the juice in a bowl with the orange juice and the garlic. I dice the habanero peppers and throw them in there too.
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I set the bowl of juices aside and go on to the spices.
I mix all the spices in a little bowl and then the meat makes an appearance.
I always try to buy happy meat/meat that came from happy animals.
I rub the spices into the meat.
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Now it’s time to put it all in the pot!
I set the meat in the slow cooker and pour the delicious liquid over the top.
img_7292Next I pour the bowl of veggies on top of that.
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Once the meat is cooked (8 hours later) I shred it and mix it all in the crockpot to make sure it has access to all the flavors and juices.

This pork can be served with a sweet potato mash, or with anything really, but I chose to make tacos.

I made some black beans to go with it, and warmed some corn tortillas in a pan. I find that doing this without butter makes the corn tortilla perfectly warm and crispy while still being just a little chewy. (Which I love.)
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The most important ingredient they saved for last:
Cilantro.
Add some sea salt and plenty of cilantro to your final dish! It takes the entire meal to a different level.

It was a winner! Michael loved the pork by itself, Brenden and I loved the tacos, Brielle wouldn’t try it, (but what’s new??) and I’ll for sure be making it again.

Next time I plan to marinate the meat in the spices and juices overnight.

*This is yet another recipe from paleoleap. I could make a recipe -a-day from these guys and never get bored! Check them out for all things Paleo!

 

 



How I Document Our Days

A foolproof way to solidify memories in our minds is to relive them. Talk about them. Look at them. Listen to them. Experience them over and over. It’s so powerful!

I’ve always felt a desire to document life’s events and life in general. By the time I was eighteen I had an entire cardboard box full of (boooorrrrring) journals. Now that I have a family I feel the value even more.

I use five tools to document our days, and four out of the five are FREE! Here they are.

1) The Notes app:

It’s the yellow “Notes” icon on your iPhone home screen. (I’m sure non-iPhones have a version of this, and I’m sure it works just as well!) I use this notepad as our running family journal, (as well as for grocery lists, and a thousand other things,) because it’s so convenient. I can talk at it or type, and I always have it with me, unlike a traditional journal, so I actually do WRITE in it whenever I have a free minute or two.

Another great thing about this notepad is that you can insert photos! This way when Brielle says something I never ever want to forget like: “mommy, my brain tellded me to swallow my gum but I didn’t listen..” (Hands me big glob of gum) I can take a picture of her little face and huge eyes and insert it with the above quote into our “family” notepad. There forever.

Or if I am writing about a life event of the family I can include a pic or two. Then I email said notepad to my gmail account about every two months and download it to my laptop to a specific folder. This way if I lose my phone I won’t lose everything I love so dearly IN my phone as well. I plan to print some of these entries out to put in her physical baby book as well.

(To insert a photo in your Notes app, press your finger on the page where you are writing and a horizontal bar menu will come up. “Insert Photo” will be in that menu.)

2) The Voice Memo App:

This is another iPhone app that is already on the home screen just waiting to be used.

This app is AMAZING at helping preserve memories. When we are in the car and Michael is doing his Star Wars theme song in the back (he’s unnaturally good at this tune,) I just click record and it’s saved forever. Or when Brielle is playing with her clip dolls on the couch and they are having a gentle princess disagreement about one not wanting to be the other’s sister anymore, I click record and the dialogue is saved forever. Because in two seconds these babies will be singing different songs, their voices will be different, their interests will be different! And I adore being able to look back and see who they were yesterday. And really FEEL it.

3) Our own private (AKA, would be incredibly annoying to anyone but us) Instagram Feed:

I created a private account, (I just went into settings and set it to Private.) And I switch back and forth between my private and public accounts. Instagram makes it nice and easy to have multiple accounts! While on vacation I would dump pictures and videos in there like a bull-dozer pushing dirt into the Grand Canyon. It will never run out of space. Now that we are home I upload pics to my private feed about once a week. Such low-maintence for a free photo album that will (hopefully) last forever? I’ll take it!

And it has so many perks: It has a beautiful feed that because I don’t follow anyone else on this specific account I see only MY pictures. Which is amazing when the kids want to look at my phone. Brenden is my only follower (poor thing) and I direct captions to him like its my j.o.b. This is a realitively new addition to my documentation arsenal. And I can’t recommend it enough. I can add videos, pics, text, anything. And everything. And for me the biggest benefit is the privacy. I love interacting with people SO MUCH and I get my energy and life from relationships with others. But there’s something so special about the private love and community of your own little family.

4) Baby books and photo books:

I do them the new-fashioned way: Shutterfly and/or MixBook. Both are amazing and Shutterfly seems to have deals every single day. No matter when I’m putting a photo book together I can google “Shutterfly coupons/discounts” and get tons of codes. I found a 50% off discount code for our Rhode Island trip book just randomly on the day I wanted to order the book! So I got three books, one for each of the grandmothers involved and one for us, at a significantly discounted price! I also use Shutterfly for other things too: Wall (photo) calendars, customized coffee mugs and fridge magnets.

But I love the photo books because they really get the most value out of the pictures we take daily. These big photo books can be placed throughout the house and enjoyed daily by everyone! Together! Brielle and I read hers all the time. I made one for my pregnancy with her, (I was on bedrest so I had the time) and one for her first year of life.

I haven’t done baby books for Michael yet but everything is ready to be compiled and I’ll get to it this Fall. Before now he wasn’t old enough to really appreciate it. But now I can’t wait to see his eyes when he has a physical book in front of him (one of his favorite things!) starring HIM.

Of course nothing can replace a good old fashioned baby book of the “my mom” variety, so I did one for Brielle and am working on Michael’s now. Growing up I always felt a direct correlation between how many pictures/hats/baby memorabilia my mom had in my baby book and how much she loved me. I kid. Sort of.

In reality I am one of seven kids and I’m amazed my mom even attempted to have a baby book for each of us. I would find pictures of my siblings in my baby book more often than I would find pictures of myself! It’s pretty bad when your mom says “I think this is your brother??” As she’s holding a picture of a baby from YOUR baby book.

5) We listen and watch and read often:

Brielle and I go through all her baby books weekly, laughing at how cute she was and the things she used to say. We open the Voice memos app and listen to how she used to pronounce words, and how Michael said “bubble” (his first word.) We look through my private Instagram feed and rejuvenate and flex our memory muscles. It’s amazing how much Brielle has remembered about our NYC trip last year just because we look at pictures and talk about it! She asked the other day if we could go to “Liliana’s coffee shop.” That was a sweet little local coffee shop right across the street from our apartment in NYC!

So that’s what I do! So far it hasn’t stopped them from growing, but it sure does help me sleep at night knowing that I have so many sweet sweet things to look back on and enjoy.

“Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.” 
Bob Dylan

“Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.”
Corrie Ten Boom

XOXO



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