All Other Ground Is Sinking Sand

Watching Brielle deal with her Great Grandmommy’s death has been fascinating and painful. I’ll be be buckling her in her carseat and she’ll say, “Mommy when is great grandmommy coming back from heaven?” And I gather my resolve to answer yet another question. Because this one holds weight and consequence, un-like the previous five-hundred questions that morning. Well, except for this one:
“Is God shy?”
No sweetie, He’s all powerful and mighty!
“Well is He invisible then?”
No sweetie, (well, sort of?)
“Well, why isn’t He HERRRE then??”

But the Great Grandmommy question… She’s asked it before. And every time my heart breaks when I tell her, she isn’t coming back, we are going to see her… And she is so much happier where she is, with great-granddaddy… And Jesus… And will be even happier when she sees us!

Then with her 4.75 year old wisdom, Brielle continues…

“But mommy, it will take forever to see great-grandmommy then. I have to have white hair to get to heaven. And I still have to be a kid. And then I have to be a parent. And I’ll miss her so much until I’m old.”

And it cracks my heart in half and takes my emotions to a new heightened level that I didn’t know existed.

What do I say now? The words choke in my throat. They feel so unnatural as I speak them to her huge eyes staring back at me. I say some things out loud and I think some things internally, not even sure what I should say at all:

Just be happy and live your life and savor the memories of your great-grandmommy. Your heart will grow to feel this less and less as the days pass. Your life will take on so much adventure and excitement that it will pass by in a blink. And… Not everyone goes to heaven when they are old and grey. Some people go to heaven when they are young and half-way.

STOP.

That is the realization that caught in my chest last night as I lay in bed after a delicious day of loving on my babies. I’ve never feared death before. Well, I’ve feared getting caught in an elevator and flying on planes but I’m not sure I’ve ever thought the concept of “death” was as terrifying as the thought of being stuck in a metal box slash tube.

But last night I feared death. Hard-core and completely. Dark thoughts and crying. Because I wasn’t just fearing it for myself. I was fearing it for the little love of my life, who if I let my mind wander, would be sitting in her carseat asking whoever was buckling her in: “When is mommy coming back from heaven?”

The mind is a dark scary place. It is also a bright joyful place. I can choose to think thoughts that are life-giving or think thoughts that are depleting and paralyzing.

Last night I chose to watch the shows in my mind that were soul-sucking and depleting. And I couldn’t find the remote control to turn the channel. I remember doing this as a child too. Laying in bed, crying because my mom might die and leave me. Now I’m crying because I might die and leave my daughter. And I imagine her dealing with it. And it’s not hard to imagine, because I see how she’s processing her great-grandmommy’s death, and I add a trillion percent. And my soul and spirit and mind and heart get so spun up and out of control that I am shipwrecked on a dark shore.

Brenden lay next to me and told me “This isn’t healthy. You aren’t going to die. You are thinking the worst thought you can, and making it a reality in your mind.” Funny thing about anxiety, it’s not logical. So I keep crying.

I wish I had a recorder going for seventy-percent of our conversations. I would replay them over and over and write them down and keep them forever. Last night was one of those times and I can never do what he said justice. His words were balm to my soul. They calmed my spirit and I was able to sleep, the feeling of not being there for my baby in her darkest hour of need, gone.

If I allow anxiety into this area of my life it can and will lead down a destructive path. It will fester and breed, taking on new form and new depth. Anxiety is anxiety, no matter the flavor or category. This kind of anxiety is not somehow more honorable or courageous because I’m thinking about my daughter and her well-being. No, it’s still sin. Christ wants us to look forward in Hope, not dread and fear.

And only God is in ultimate control.

The pilot of the plane we will be boarding for Key West in March is not in ultimate control.
The driver heading toward me in the opposite direction going 60 miles an hour is not in ultimate control.
The doctors who care for me and try to keep my healthy are not in ultimate control.
I am not in ultimate control.
Control is a myth. No matter what I do to try to gain and maintain it, it is not attainable.

Only God is in ultimate control. And He wants me to find Freedom in that. And Trust. And Joy. Christ wants me to look forward in Hope.

This morning I sit here reliving all this. I’m having my coffee and feeling alive and refreshed. I feel a joyful surrender. It’s the kind of surrender that brings life and peace and is not of this world.

And I remember an old hymn that I haven’t thought of in years.

His oath, His covenant, and blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.



Plans Are Funny That Way

I’ve been thinking a lot about school lately. Brielle and all her little friends are slated to start kindergarten this Fall…

I told Brenden last night out of the blue: “I think I might want to try homeschooling.” He looked at me and blinked and said, “But you said, there is no way in hell I am ever homeschooling. Not once, but many many times.”

He’s right. We decided two years ago to send our then 2-year-old to public school when she was ready. We toured schools and then based our home-buying solely (literally solely) on that decision. We would never have chosen this home otherwise. I’m not sure either of us even like this house. Poor house. It’s a split level brick house in a neighborhood where all the other homes look the exact same.

It’s a great neighborhood though. Family-friendly and safe. Deer wander through our backyard which is a great quality depending on if you want to keep plants or not; and we are walking distance to one of the better ranked public schools in the area.

Ever since she was three years old, whenever we drive past the playground I say “There’s your school and your friends!”

But so much for planning. Because now I feel another think coming. I feel equal parts dread and excitement at the thought of home-schooling.

I am no stranger to the feeling of crazy and loneliness and exhaustion that a day as a stay at-home-mom can bring. But I also am no stranger to the feeling of wanting what is absolutely best for my kids. And letting it fuel and guide me…

Brielle thrives at her now-preschool. She has the most perfect little block letters and writes as fast as I talk. “Mommy, how do you spell “Happy New Year.?” I start spelling: “H. A. P. P. Y. Space. N. E. W…” She writes adorable little letters. Usually going in the right direction. (I think writing from left to right occasionally instead of writing from right to left is a “leftie” problem??) Who knows.

And I love my me-time three mornings a week and our schedule. I’m excited about her little neighborhood school and our upcoming adventure there this Fall.

But just yesterday I started to hear a small-voice: “What is best for her.” Yes, she may thrive and do well after a bit of an adjustment with her new schedule and longer school days. But what is over-all best for her?
And I find my mind wandering. I find myself reading homeschooling articles and researching curriculums. I find myself feeling equal parts dread and excitement.

Wish me luck. Just like everything in motherhood, there is rarely a decision that we make that is all tied up in bows. Comfort and pros. No matter what we decide there will be a lot of cons too. Such is life. But I am determined to do what is best for her to the best of my ability.

Be still my anxious and excited heart.

XOXO



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.
img_5207
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!
img_5200
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!

 

 



Copyright © 2017 Momma Much | Wordpress Themes by Theme Fashion.