8.29.2013

Eggplant and Tomato Pasta

Nothing really interesting going on this week (thankfully). So here's a recipe I tried a few nights ago.

This was my first experience with eggplant. For whatever reason, its just not something I've ever been served. I bought one several months ago with a recipe in mind, but when I cut it up it was brown and nasty lookin inside. DH bought a few eggplants from a local farm this week. Some purple ones and some white ones. I didn't even know white eggplants existed! So I'm not sure if they taste any different - but I'll find out soon, I guess.

Earlier this week, I searched the Web for eggplant recipes. Pretty much the main thing you find when you Google that is eggplant Parmesan. I can't explain it, but that just doesn't sound good to me. So I kept looking. I ended up finding a recipe at Foodnetwork.com that sounded good. Instead of printing it out, I e-mailed it to myself so I could just pull it up on my phone that night.

Well, the link didn't work. And when I searched for it again, every link was broken. Luckily, I sort of remembered how it went, so I just winged it. It turned out pretty good!
okay, it doesn't LOOK that good, does it? haha
Of course, I was the only one in my house who would eat it. I thought it was delicious, though. It was super easy to make, too. Since no one else liked it, I would probably only make it again as a side dish just for me.

Here's what I did:

I peeled and cubed the eggplant, then tossed it in a cast iron frying pan with a ton of salt and olive oil. I had heard that eggplant takes a lot of salt, and it does. It also eats oil like its goin out of style. I kept havin to add more. I cooked it down for a few minutes, then added a can of diced tomatoes and cooked that for a while. (I told you I was winging this!) I had no idea what eggplant looked like when it was done, or what texture it should be, so I just cooked it til it was very tender and most of the tomato juice was cooked down. In the meantime, I cooked a bot of pasta. When everything was done, I just tossed it all together in my serving dish. I sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top just before serving. Delicious! And simple. Too bad my husband and child wouldn't eat it. Oh well.

If anyone has any delicious eggplant recipes, I'd love to hear them!

8.26.2013

Smooth

On Friday, I said I was gonna try a smoothie recipe. Lately, all I hear about are smoothies and how awesome they are (awesome is my word for the day, in case you hadn't noticed!). Green smoothies seem to be particularly popular, and I have intentions of trying one soon. Baby steps, though!

I was skeptical that a smoothie could fill me up and last until the next meal. I'm pretty big on textures, and I've never been one for thick drinks. But with all the hype, I just had to see for myself. I was pleasantly surprised.

I found a recipe for a very simple smoothie. I knew if I started with something complicated I'd never want to try it again - I'm lazy like that in the kitchen. I don't even remember where I found this one, so I can't give credit.

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

1 banana
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cup milk


That's it. You just put all 3 ingredients into the blender and blend for a minute or 2, until its - wait for it! - smooth. I ended up adding more peanut butter cause it was pretty runny at first - though its probably supposed to be like that.

No picture, cause honestly, it looked disgusting. Smelled amazing, though. And the taste was wonderful. I absolutely love peanut butter and bananas, so really, I couldn't go wrong with this recipe.

And you know what? The smoothie (I drank half of it for breakfast, and saved the other half for the next day) kept me full for HOURS. Normally, I gotta have a snack around 10-10:30, just to tide me over til lunch. But this weekend, I needed need a snack, and didn't get hungry for lunch until much later than normal. Score!

Now I wanna try different recipes. But nothing too crazy. To be honest, all the protein in this one is probably what kept me full for so long. I'll be sure to write about any other good recipes I find.

The only problem I had was the milk. Since I found out last year I have a milk allergy, I've avoided drinking milk. I still cook with it, and unless the recipe calls for a large amount, I do fine. This was the first time I'd drank milk in a good while, and I did react to it. My throat felt like it was closing. Not good! It wasn't anything major, but not something I want to experience every morning. So I drank the other half of my smoothie yesterday for breakfast (and never got hungry during church like I normally do!), and haven't made any more until I can get some Silk or almond milk. Hopefully the taste won't change too much by changing the liquid like that. Stay tuned!

Weekend Recap and Other Awesomeness

Ugh, I am SO unmotivated today! Mainly because I can't take a decent breath. I don't know if I've pulled a muscle from all my coughing spells over the past 10 days, or if I have pleurisy (which I get all the dang time, so you'd think I'd know), or bronchitis, but my right lung/chest HURTS when I breathe. I'm still coughing, though not as frequently as I was last week. I can now breathe through my nose, though I still have to blow it quite a bit. I guess not being able to breathe deeply makes you tired, cause I have no energy today.

Yesterday afternoon, I ran around in the yard with C, kicking balls. It was fun, but man did it wear me out! Am I goin to the doctor?  Nah, probably not. If I thought I had a sinus infection I'd be there to get some drugs, but I don't think they can do anything for this right now. So unless I get a whole lot worse, I'll just complain about it. :P (Just kidding, complaining will cease now!)

We had a great weekend. Saturday morning, me and C headed to town to find some tap shoes. On Friday during my lunch break, I went to the consignment store and bought her some tap shoes, but they ended up being too small. I also got a few leotards and skirts, which thankfully fit just fine - yay for consignment! I found some ballet slippers at Target, and they were too small as well.

Of course, Once Upon A Child (consignment) didn't have any tap shoes in C's size, but luckily I got a full refund. Next, we hit up Michael's, where I scored some ribbon on clearance for $1. I made a beautiful hair bow for her, and forgot to take a picture (haha). I'll try to get on that (and a bow tutorial) soon! We exchanged the ballet slippers at Target for a larger brand, then went on a search for tap shoes.

Luckily, we hit pay dirt at Payless. C is totally in love with her shoes and wants to wear them all the time. And I have to say, she's pretty much a natural at tapping. ( :

Hopefully that video will play! If not, here's a still:
She tapped all over the house for me, and after her long nap (in her CRIB!!), we went to my mama's house, where she tapped for her, my cousin, and my grandma. I love that kid. ( :

Yesterday, she was alternating between the tap shoes and the ballet slippers to dance for her daddy - so cute.

After church yesterday, we headed to my aunt's for a birthday lunch for my cousin. We had a good time, and got to eat some of my aunt's delicious chocolate pound cake with cream cheese icing! Yum. Of course, we stayed over there through nap time, and when we got home, C wasn't about taking a nap. So her and I played outside while DH worked on the chicken and rabbit pens.

C and I had so much fun playing outside. We played with the balls, she rode her tricycle, we swung on the swingset, and she had a blast on the slide. I cherish times like that. Then one of DH's friends stopped by to show us what he bought at the livestock sale that morning, and somehow we ended up with 6 guinea keets! When they get big enough, we'll turn them loose so they can eat bugs around the farm. Our farm will never be quiet again! If you're not familiar with guineas, they are LOUD - like, obnoxiously loud.

Anyway, after we got over our new bird excitement (note my sarcasm), C and I hopped on Sunshine bareback. Then C kicked me off so she could ride by herself, haha. I didn't feel up to giving her a "lesson," so I just walked around with her. She didn't care! I'm so glad she loves horses already. ( :

Speaking of birds, our baby ducks are still going strong! Well, 8 of them are. We lost 1, but that was expected cause he was very weak. I'm happy. Mama duck is doing a great job at protecting them. They hang out in the pond a lot, but have also been hanging out around the chicken pens - which is pretty farm from the pond, so they must be strong babies.

All in all, it was an excellent weekend. The only thing that would have made it better if is I had felt better. But I can't complain, since it was a drastic improvement from the previous weekend, when I couldn't do anything but hack and blow my nose.

At church yesterday, my pastor preached on Psalm 121. This is my favorite Psalm, and probably my favorite Bible verses. I'd never heard a sermon on it, and I was impressed.

This Psalm has gotten me through some tough times in my life. It reminds me that God is always there for me. My pastor's message was about much more than that fact, though.

It inspired me to be better about my Bible reading and studies. Well, I should say it inspired me to DO it again. Sadly, I've really gotten off track with that. At the beginning of this year, I was reading the Bible daily with my Bible In One Year app, plus I was doing other random studies through books I found. I also read several books about building a closer relationship to God. I'm not sure what happened, but I stopped doing all that gradually. Its just easier to read "fun" things, like trashy romance novels, I guess. But you know what? Lately, I've been feeling not quite myself, almost depressed at times. I was just thinking on Friday how I needed to get back into the Word, cause when I was deep within it, I didn't feel this way. And then I heard this sermon yesterday - coincidence? I think not. My God is just awesome like that. ( :

So, I'm jumping back in. I'm gonna pick up where I left off with my "The Excellent Wife Day by Day" devotional, the BIOY app, and a couple of other books I recently purchased. Fill myself with spiritual goodness, reconnect with my Maker, have peace again. Who's with me? ( :

8.23.2013

Homemade Apple Cake

Apple cake is one of my favorite things to bake. I actually haven't made one in several years, though. When DH and I were dating, I made apple cakes all the time. It was my specialty, I guess. Back then, I used these tiny, really tart apples that grew on my mama's tree (crab apples, I think they're called). Somehow over the years, I lost my recipe. :( And then I kinda forgot that apple cakes are awesome.

Until last weekend! DH gets a ton of fruit from a local farmer, and he brought home quite the haul of these tart, large green apples recently (not Granny Smith, though). They're not the best just for eating, but I thought they'd be good for cooking.

I'm not sure what came over me on Saturday. I felt horrible from my allergies. I mean, really horrible. But I made myself get up and get some chores done that morning, so I could spend the rest of the day resting. Before lunch, I got the urge to bake something. Maybe I thought it would make me feel better? ha. Anyway, I searched through all our cookbooks until I found a recipe for an apple cake that sounded good.

This recipe came from a Tri County Cook Book (its out local power company co-op):

Apple Walnut Cake
1 1/2 c vegetable oil                    1 tsp. baking soda
3 eggs                                           2 tsp cinnamon 
2 c sugar                                       1/2 tsp. salt
3 c flour                                        1 c black walnuts, chopped        3 c apples, diced

Combine oil, eggs, and vanilla. In separate bowl, sift together sugar, flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add this mixture to the first mixture. Fold in nuts and apples. Batter will be very thick. Pour in tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Let cool approximately 5 minutes before removing from pan. Serve warm, topped with whipped cream, if desired.

We all know that Nikki can't just follow a recipe. I don't make my own up, but I do alter recipes all the time (every time, in fact). In this instance, I hate walnuts (or any kind of nut in my cake!), so obviously they would be left out. I also added some nutmeg, though I didn't measure. I would guess I added maybe a 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of nutmeg.

Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly. I baked the cake in a bundt pan, since I don't have a tube pan (but its close enough). Actually, I used my Pampered Chef Stoneware Fluted Pan. I've had that thing for probably 5 years, and never had a successful cake come out of it. They always stick the sides terribly. So I wasn't expecting good results this time, either.

I was pleasantly surprised, though! I guess spraying the heck out of it with Pam did the trick (usually, I coat the pan with vegetable oil, since that's what's recommended). At any rate, my cake came out looking absolutely perfect:
And boy, was it GOOD! I left my apple pieces fairly large, since I really like to be able to taste them. And I put more than 3 cups in there. If I'm gonna have apple cake, I'm gonna have APPLE cake! Everyone loved it. My mama even said it was the best apple cake she'd ever have, and that's saying somethin.

I was worried about it when I put it into the oven. The batter was SUPER thick. I know the recipe said that, but I wasn't prepared for just how thick it was. It was like a dough almost. But as you can see, it rose beautifully, and was nicely moist. I think some butter melted over the top would have made it even better (and I plan on trying that next time - just placing small chunks of butter randomly around the top before putting it into the oven).

Stay tuned, cause this weekend I plan on trying a smoothie recipe. I keep hearing about smoothies and how quick and easy they are for breakfasts, so tomorrow I'm gonna try one. I want to see if its really that easy, and if it keeps me full until lunch. Happy weekend, everyone!

As The Pond Flows

A few years ago, my husband got some Mallard ducks for our pond (which is in front of our house, in the cow pasture). We love watching the ducks swim around the pond and waddle around the pasture and our yard. We started out with just 2 ducks, but quickly added a few more. Of course, over time some of them died or were killed by predators (and one even wandered off and we never saw a trace of her again), so every once in a while we have to get new ducks. One duck, however, as been with us since the beginning - Perry.
(Actually, the duck in the picture is not Perry; its Francesco, who has since passed away. But Perry looks exactly like this, trust me.)

Perry has had several mates - his first was Katie (get it? Katie Perry? ha - yeah, back then, I absolutely loved her; now, not so much!). Katie was a cool chick but she got herself killed. We've brought Perry several mates since then, but none of them have managed to stay alive for him. He's a loner now, and to me he looks depressed. But what do I know about duck emotions?? We'll probably try again to get him a female Mallard to pal around with, just in case.

We also have 4 more ducks on the pond - 2 Magpies and 2 White Pekings. These, my husband purchased as babies and we raised them with a crop of chickens a few years ago. They grew up in the chicken coup and had a baby pool to swim it - it was adorable. When they were big enough, we released them onto the pond.
clearly, the was back before I got my nice camera!




Since we got the black and white ducks, life on the pond has been pretty interesting. Actually, even before they came around, it was quite entertaining out there. Back when I had no child to take care of, I had a lot of free time on my hands, and I would watch the ducks, take pictures, and make up stories about them. I started putting these stories on facebook, and people loved them! I made it like a soap opera, and even named it As the Pond Flows. Silly, I know, but people ate it up, and it was fun to do. I would give an update and then end the post by saying "tune in next time to ATPF..." or something like that. (lol) 

Once C came along, my duck watching didn't wane, but I stopped making up stories about the ducks. I've toyed with the idea of doing it again, but I just don't have the energy to be that creative right now. I do find myself creating little blurbs about the ducks in my head as I'm feeding the horses. The ducks hang out a lot by the horse barn and around the chicken pens, cause they know they can eat any fallen feed there, and also catch lots of bugs flying around. They talk a lot to each other and are pretty expressive. (Though maybe I just have a huge imagination, cause the other day I told my horse Wiley that he was the most expressive horse I'd ever seen - he was glaring at me cause I was mad at him.) At any rate, whether its weird or normal, I'm pretty invested in our ducks and absolutely love watching them.

I tell you all this so you'll understand my excitement for what happened last night. If you don't understand my love for our ducks, you won't understand why this is such a big deal to me. When I got home from work last night, me and C went to check on the female Magpie, and sure enough, her babies had hatched!!

This is actually her 2nd time hatching eggs. Last year she had 3 ducklings, and they lived about 3 days. I don't think she watched over them much, and something ate them. This year, I think she's more invested and seems more protective. Time will tell, but I'm rooting for these little guys.
Earlier this summer, this female laid a nest of eggs in the cow pasture. I guess they didn't get fertilized, because she only sat on them a few days before abandoning them. So we didn't have much hope when we realized one day that she had started a new nest - in the horses' shelter! Not the safest place for a nest of eggs, but we try not to interfere too much with nature. She laid somewhere around 13-14 eggs I believe, though they didn't all hatch. Ducks lay one egg a day until they are done, and then they start sitting on the nest. They stay on the nest almost 24/7. This female got off a few times to go for a quick dip in the pond, but for the most part, she didn't even get up to eat. (I don't know how they do it! The males don't bring food for her like in other bird species, either.)

After we saw the ducklings, I closed off the horse pen so the horses had to stay on the pasture. I called DH and he came home to figure out what to do. Obviously, I couldn't turn the horses in there or they'd trample the babies. But obviously, the horses needed to be in there - that's where their water is, and they are locked off the pasture at night. DH tried to herd the mama and her ducklings out of the horse pen, but she was just getting agitated with him. So he left her alone and we just watched.
9 little ducklings
Oh, how I love baby ducks! All their little faces are so different with their markings, too. I can't wait to see what they look like when they're grown (if they make it). DH thinks Perry (the Mallard) may have fertilized some of these. Time will tell. A Magpie/Mallard cross will be neat to see!

Eventually the mama led her babies across the driveway... (the driveway separates the cow and horse pastures)
...and into the cow pasture. The one in the very back was so tired by this point. He kept stopping and closing his eyes. Poor little guy. (He was still alive and well this morning, thank goodness!)
They finally made it to the pond, and jumped right in. I know ducklings are born knowing how to swim, but it always amazes me to see something so tiny swimming so well!
I know some (or even most) of these babies won't make it. We discussed capturing them and keeping them confined so they'll stay safe, but we decided it was best to leave nature be. The mama gets really upset if we get too close, and we don't want to stress her out. Hopefully the Magpie mama will take care of them until they're old enough to take care of themselves. 

This morning I checked on them and from what I could see, all 9 of the ducklings were still there. A heron flew in (he comes every day to our pond to fish, and usually stays all day), but the mama Magpie fussed at him before he could even land, and he flew away (protesting, I might add!). So I feel like she's protecting her babies this time. ( :
Last night she was keeping the ducklings a safe distance from the other ducks (see Perry, the Mallard? He's already lost his gorgeous male feathers for this year - they'll come back next year during breeding season). The white female was trying to attack the babies, so I hope mama Magpie got that under control. This morning they were all fairly close together.

Stay tuned for more As the Pond Flows! (lol, I couldn't help myself!)

Restasis Update

At the beginning of August, I blogged about Restasis, as I had just started using it for my severe dry eye issues. For a while, I really didn't like the drug at all - it made my eyes burn and sting, and I couldn't wear my contacts. I decided to use it for several weeks, though, just to give my eyes time to get used to it.

Well, I'm glad I did that! Its been almost 4 weeks now and I have to say I have seen a big improvement in my eyes. I don't have to use artificial tears nearly as often (yay!!), and I can normally wear my contacts from 7:30am - 9pm or later with no problems. That is huge for me. (I was having to either not wear my contacts at all some days, or take them out as soon as I got home from work.)

I read a ton of discussion boards for Restasis, and it seems that you either love the drug or you hate it. It doesn't work for a lot of people, and I was highly skeptical of it working for me. I did pick up a few tips on the boards, though. For instance, the drug comes in individual tubes, and the instructions say to use one tube twice a day. But, you are only supposed to use one drop in each eye. There are approximately 6 drops in each tube. If you recap the tube and keep it in a dark, dry place, you can reuse the same tube until its empty (which is about 3-4 uses). That was so helpful! This is an expensive drug (almost $400/month out of pocket, though I only pay $50/month with my insurance), so I like to not waste any of it.

Another tip I picked up was to not use it every single day. I found that the drug was bothering my eyes if I used it every single day, twice a day. I don't have a real schedule for using it; if I think about it, I use the drops. It generally comes out to me using it every other day or so. Obviously, that's enough for me, since my eyes are much less dry now. Some days it still bothers my eyes (I get the burning/stinging temporarily), but not always. I have noticed another strange thing, too: lately, my eyes are fine until I take my contacts out. Then, some nights, I feel like there's something in my right eye. It'll stay like that until the next morning when I put my contacts in again. Weird, huh?

For the past 10 days or so, I've been taking a lot of antihistamines since my allergies have been giving me a fit. I take Claritin and Nasonex in the morning, and Zyrtec and Nasonex (again) at night. Normally, antihistamines really dry me out, especially my eyes, but surprisingly, the Restasis seems to be counteracting that tendency. That's good news!

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with Restasis now. Since I'm making each tube last a couple of days or more, it will be a while before I have to think about a refill. At that point, I'll have to talk to my eye doctor and see what he recommends. From what I understand, Restasis is supposed to help you make more of your own tears. So maybe if I take it for a while, I'll make my own tears and won't need anything else. We'll see. For now, I'm just gonna enjoy comfortably wearing my contacts daily again! (Even if I am hacking up a lung and blowing my nose every 5 minutes...lol.)

8.16.2013

Run, Baby, Run

First of all, I'd like to say that allergies suck. C's been dealing with them this week (though she's finally better), and now its my turn. Waaaaaaah. Yes, that was me whining.

If you don't have allergies, you are blessed. Truly. I feel like I've been punched in the face, and like fire has been poured down my throat. And my nose is running like a faucet. And my eyes feel like they're swollen and I can barely hold them open. I just want to collapse into my bed and stay there all day. Unfortunately, I have to work. Maybe the ton of antihistamines and ibuprofen I've been taking with kick in soon...

Okay, enough of that. I wanted to do a quick update on Sunshine. (Sorry, no pictures; it was almost dark by the time we made it outside last night.)

While I was cooking supper (tacos) last night, C told me she wanted to ride. So, we hurried through feeding the animals and eating supper, and it was going on 8 before we got out there. I don't know if it was because it was so much later than usual when we went out there, or this cool weather is just making the horses feel fresh, but Sunshine did not want me to catch her.

I think its safe to say that her ligaments are fully functioning again. That mare can run!

As soon as she realized what I was doing out there, she walked away from me. Okay, she does that sometimes, and then I just stop and give her a minute and she's fine. Not last night. After a couple of tries like that, she took off like I'd struck her with a whip. Of course, I was just standing there, almost in shock. When I bought Sunshine back in 2005, she went through a terrible phase of not wanting to be caught. I would spend hours trying to catch her. Once I worked through that problem, though, she's never ran away from me since. So I'm not sure what got into her last night. Maybe she realized that her legs worked and she could canter, and she took advantage?

Of course, her excitement got the boys (Wiley and Rambler, the Mustangs) all crazy, and they joined in on the running. I closed off the front pasture, so they only had the dry lot to run in (less room = less chasing after them for me). I just stood there for a few minutes, watching the crazy horses. The boys were doing some impressive bucking and twists in the air. Sunshine was alternating between a canter/gallop and a beautiful extended trot (why can't she do that with me on her back?!). I wish I had my camera with me. The sun was setting, and for a few minutes, the horses were bathed in this ethereal, orange light. It was beautiful.

And then I decided that enough was enough. Luckily, I remembered what I had to do the last time Sunshine went through this (and what worked for Wiley when he did the same thing when he was a yearling). If a horse in the pasture doesn't want to be caught and runs away from you, make them keep running. That way, its your idea, not theirs. It sounds strange, and I'm sure 10 different people will give you 10 different methods of solving this problem, but this way works for me. Its sort of a take on the Monty Roberts way of training (Join Up - which I did with Wiley and absolutely loved).

So, I swung my lead rope and kept those wild ponies moving. For maybe 5 minutes. I wasn't terrorizing them, just making sure they didn't get a chance to really stop. (They didn't have to keep actually running, just moving. Though most of the time they were moving pretty fast.) Horses that are actually in shape might take longer to decide to yield to you, but since mine are all fat fatties, it didn't take long for them to decide I was the boss. Really, the boys probably had no idea what was going on, but I couldn't easily separate them from Sunshine, so they had to participate. Both of them kept running past me, then turning around and nosing me like what the heck are we doing?! But I made sure my eyes were always on Sunshine. She got the message.

It probably wasn't even 5 minutes before I let them all stop. Sunshine stopped and turned to me and just looked at me. And I walked right up to her and put the rope around her neck. Silly pony. She was good as gold after that.

My parents came to see C ride, and she hopped up there and showed them her stuff. She's so proud of herself. Mama got a bunch of videos, which I am gonna have to get my hands on.

When C was done, I hopped on Sunshine to see if I could get her to canter. I mean, clearly, she can canter now. I actually got a decent canter out of her in both directions, just not for very long. That's okay. I know now that she can do it, I just need to get her back into shape.

So what started out as a very frustrating night ended on a good note. Let's just hope Sunshine doesn't make me repeat that performance the next time we want to ride her!

8.15.2013

Little Rider

Last night, C had another riding lesson! This has been kind of a rough week for her - UTI symptoms on Monday, and since then she's bit hit with horrible allergies. (Why couldn't I have passed on some of my good traits to my daughter?!) She's coughing up a storm, sneezing, and has a constantly running nose - poor baby. I think the allergy meds are finally kicking in, though. She seemed a little better this mornin.

DH came home a little earlier than usual, and we had an early supper (grilled steaks, potatoes, and green bean casserole - yum!), then he had to leave again to help his dad with a tractor. I wanted to do something fun with C, and the weather was fabulous (we're in a cold spell for August in NC - highs are in the mid 70s this week!!), so I asked if she wanted to ride Sunshine. Of course, she said yes!

I firmly believe that children should be taught all aspects of horse care if they want to ride. I worked at a barn once where the younger kids just showed up and us instructors had the ponies tacked up and ready for them; all they had to do was hop on and ride, then leave (instructors had to cool down, untack, and take care of all the ponies - and usually it was just me to 9 or 10 ponies...but anyway). They learned to ride, sure, but they never learned how to care for a horse, not even to put the saddle on one. I hated that. When I teach lessons, I make sure the kids learn everything - even how to clean tack. Its important.

C has been helping me feed the horses at night lately. She says she's a "grown up" and a "good helper" and that we make a good team. Where does she get this stuff? ( :  Anyway, I think its good for her to have some responsibility. DH says I'm just teaching her to feed the horses so I won't have to do it one day....maybe (*wink, wink*). At any rate, she loves helping me. I'm still trying to get her to understand that horses can hurt you....without her actually having to be hurt! She has no fear whatsoever of horses. None of mine will purposefully hurt you, but accidents happen - they could step on her foot, bump into her and knock her down...the possibilities are endless. Of course, as a mother, I'm constantly on the lookout for stuff like that. Its exhausting!

Anyway, last night, first C helped me brush Sunshine...
Okay, so she can't do much actual brushing yet. But she thinks she is. ( : And you can tell Sunshine loves it.
Yep, that's 2 curry combs she's holding. No idea why. She likes them, though, so whatever. I'll teach her actual brushing later, when she's big enough to reach more than Sunshine's face and her legs.

Obviously, she can't help with the tack, but I made her pay attention to what I was doing and told her the names of everything. No, I don't expect her to remember much of it yet, but repetition is key! She did ask good questions, like why does the bit go into the horses' mouth, and why do you have to hold the reins.

Next, it was time to get up there! (I have to find a toddler sized helmet. I mentioned that to C yesterday, and she didn't like the idea of having to wear one, but she'll get over it.)
She looks like such a big kid, doesn't she? (*:

When I teach riding lessons, I have all my kids (and adults) do stretching exercises. Its always a good idea to stretch yourself out before any exercise, of course, but it also helps to get you comfortable in the saddle. With kids who are terrified to be up so high by themselves, I do quite a bit of stretching exercises, and it really helps them get over their fear. C doesn't have any fear, but I still want her super comfortable in the saddle.




Is that precious or what??! And look at those little heels - naturally down. ( :

Her ride was pretty short - it was getting late, and Sunshine was hungry. But after stretching, I showed her again how to tell Sunshine to "woah," and I introduced steering. C didn't quite get that one, but that's okay. She also started making a kissy sound to get Sunshine to walk. Oh! And the most impressive thing C did last night - she got up to vertical position!! If you're not familiar, vertical is what we say when we mean stand straight up in your stirrups. Its good for really getting heels down and for stretching the legs. Its also good for balancing. I also use it a lot to get kids comfortable in the saddle (its scary standing up to be even taller up there!). I told C I wanted her to do it, and explained what I meant, and she said "okay!" and popped right up! I was so proud. Often, going to vertical is scary for even kids who are otherwise comfortable on a horse. Not my baby. ( :

C had so much fun, and I feel like she learned something at the same time - so win/win. I can't wait for the day when we can ride side by side!

8.14.2013

Love Your Hair

Let's stop, for just a moment, with all the talk of organizing, cleaning, toddlers, and being crunchy. Let's talk about something totally insignificant in the grand scheme of things, something completely vain and self-appreciating - HAIR! 'Kay?

Disclosure: the following is a long rambling of my hair history. I'm sure no one is actually interested in all this. That's okay. I am. ( :

Because I have a confession to make. I love my hair. There, I said it. I really do - I love my hair. Man, it feels good to get that out.

I know as a woman, I am supposed to loathe the locks I was blessed with. I'm supposed to want to straighten or curl it every day, dye it a different color, etc. But I don't. I'm truly happy with the hair God gave me.

Why, you ask? My hair is not particularly great, honestly. And I'm really not good at styling it. Every once in a while I'll manage to pull off an impressive 'do, but I promise you its pure luck! I still see pictures of other women's hair and get jealous and wish mine was more ___ (insert adjective here) like hers. My hair is not extremely long, I don't have a super-awesome cut/color, its really not "special" at all. But I have learned - finally! - to love it for what it is.

Is this something that just comes naturally with age? I turned 30 this year, and I really feel like I have a better grasp on myself and my life (as corny as that sounds). Like I'm finally coming into my own and I'm truly happy with myself and my life. Does that just happen with age, or have I just happened to come to these realizations coincidentally? Who knows.

Actually, I've always liked the natural color of my hair. Its brown. But I have some natural blonde highlights and some red tints in there, and I love that. Especially the red. In high school, I really wanted to have more red in my hair, so I attempted to dye it. Huge mistake. It turned out metallic purple - no lie. It was hideous. I vowed after that to never color my hair again. My sister is actually a hair stylist and has offered numerous times to color it for me, but I have always stuck to my guns and just let it be the color it is! The older I get, the more red seems to show up. I'm cool with that. If I ever hear of a way to naturally encourage more red to present itself, I'll probably try it. But no more dyes for me.

When I was a child, I had absolutely gorgeous hair. It was down to my waist, super silky and soft, and pin straight. Of course, I wanted it to be curly (I'm the only female in my entire family that doesn't have naturally curly hair - everyone has ringlets but me!), but my hair just never held a curl, no matter what Mama tried. When I hit puberty, my hair drastically changed. It became dry and unruly - textured but not quite curly, or even wavy. I cut it off to my shoulders and had it heavily layered. It was pretty, but very time consuming to fix every day.

For several years after high school, I just let my hair go. I didn't get it cut at all, I grew out my bangs, I just let it do its thing. I wore it in a pony tail most days anyway, so who cared?

After that, I had a love/hate relationship with my hair for years. I alternated between growing it out and chopping it off. When I had C, it was pretty long. Of course, during my pregnancy it was gorgeous (pregnancy hormones give you great hair!), but after her birth, all those lovely hormones went away and my hair changed drastically. During pregnancy, you loose very little hair, which is why your hair looks so great - its fuller than normal. But afterwards, you loose every single hair that you should have lost the previous 9 months - and then some. That's how it was for me, anyway. I actually worried I'd have bald spots! I dealt with it for months, and then finally, I had enough. I had my sister chop it off - this time to my chin. I had an adorable little bob. It was sassy and pretty easy to deal with, though I straightened it every single day.

Eventually, I got tired of the bob, and started the growing out process again. I kept it shoulder-length for quite some time, but last year decided I wanted it long again. Until very recently I hated my hair. Its got even more texture to it these days, but definitely not curly. I was trying to tame it by straightening it every morning, but I hated doing that and knew I was frying my hair. I curled it some days, but it still doesn't hold a curl well, so that was normally a bust.

I wish I knew exactly what happened to make me change my mind. I know the Beauty Revealed Project on facebook helped me with my entire body image as a whole. And my favorite blog (The Small Things Blog) has been a huge inspiration to me to actually fix my hair every day. Kate at The Small Things Blog is a hoot. She lives in Raleigh and every Monday she posts a hair tutorial. I have learned a lot by watching her! And she has awesome hair - even more so now that she's pregnant. When I try to duplicate one of her styles, it never looks like hers, but that's okay.

Recently, I told my sister that I wanted to try a higher quality shampoo and conditioner. I'd been using cheap stuff for a long time, and finally decided maybe that was my problem. I tried Tresseme, Dove, Pantene, Suave, etc. None of them did anything for my hair. My sister suggested the new L'Oreal Ever Creme line. So, I headed to Target to see what they had.

Talk about overwhelming! L'Oreal has a bazillion different lines of hair care products. And for some reason, they're not all in one section of the hair care aisle. I was so confused. I finally found the new Ever Creme stuff, and of course it wasn't that simple. So many options!!

The blue bottles at the bottom caught my eye, though. Ever Curl. Okay, I do not have curly hair, but I read the bottle anyway. And it said it was for curly or wavy hair. Hmm..my hair is kinda wavy. I grabbed it to try. My hair is SUPER dry, as well (just like the rest of me), so I also grabbed a bottle of the leave in spray (conditioner). I also purchased the Ever Curl cream gel (and ain't that a weird concept? but its awesome!).

The first night I tried this shampoo/conditioner I was in love. My hair was super soft. It even brought out some more of my waves, which was pretty cool. The next time, I used the Ever Curl cream gel as well, and wow! I was impressed.

After I fell in love with L'Oreal, my sister sent me Bed Head by TIGI to try. She gave me the formula for super dry hair, and it really makes my hair soft and silky. I tried using it and straightening my hair, but obviously I need more product to make that happen, cause it waved back up pretty quickly. I've kinda given up on straightening it now.

I've experimented quite a bit with all my new products and I think I've found a routine that works well for me. I'm letting my natural wave do its thing, and trying to enhance it a little. Since my hair and scalp are so dry, I only wash my hair twice a week. I worried that all the extra products I use now would make me need to wash it more often, but so far I haven't found that to be true.

Here's my hair this morning. This is day 4 hair. I washed it Saturday night and have put quite a bit of product in it daily since then.
(I love how my iPhone makes it look more red than it is!) See? Just a little bit of a wave goin on. I dig it. Today I decided to wear it in a bun, but every morning I'd added more product to get it wavier. By the time I go through a whole day and then sleep on it, its fallen flat for the most part, but it'll perk back up pretty easily with either the L'Oreal Ever Curl cream gel or my Not Your Mother's Sea Salt Spray (I've blogged about this awesome stuff before). The greatest thing about both of those products is they don't make my hair feel too crunchy/stiff (they do if I overapply or don't distribute well enough).

So here's a shot of my shampoos and conditioners. I have been alternating between the 2 different brands. Probably when these run out, I'll only purchase more of the L'Oreal.
Oh yeah. The L'Oreal Ever Curl stuff is 100% vegan, which is awesome. I'm not a vegan, but I like to use products that are. ( :

And here are my many "extra" products. I never thought I'd be a hair product girl, but I've learned that if you have wavy hair, its pretty much essential!
Don't worry, it doesn't take all these every day!

I discovered the Not Your Mothers brand a few months ago. I use the Clean Freak dry shampoo every once in a while, mainly when I want to do an up-do and need more volume at the crown. It really helps! I think this product would be awesome if you had oily hair. I use it sparingly, since I don't seem to produce oil.

The NYM Sea Salt Spray is just awesome. I started using it months ago, when I realized my hair was naturally wavy. I have found that using it with the Ever Curl cream gel (use the cream gel first) really does a nice job. Both of those products can be applied over and over without a nasty build up. On my hair, anyway. Probably wouldn't be the same for someone who actually produces oils on the scalp.

The L'Oreal leave in spray I'm still deciding on. I haven't seen that it really does all that much for my hair, though to be honest I've only used it a couple of times. Maybe occasionally I should douse my hair with it and not add any other products, just to give it a break?

The NYM She's a Tease hair spray is okay, but its not my favorite, and I'll be searching for another hair spray when it runs out. I like the smell of it (all the NYM products have good smells), and I like how it doesn't make my hair feel stiff or hard. But it doesn't hold as well as I'd like, either. I don't use much hairspray, but some days I need to spray my bangs a little to hold them to the side better. I'll probably try the L'Oreal hairspray next.


Wow, this post turned out to be WAY longer than I originally intended. Sorry. Who knew I had so much to say about my hair? But really, I'm happy that I have finally FINALLY learned to love and work with my hair, and stop fighting it. I'm embracing its natural texture (and enhancing it), and it just feels so freeing. It doesn't look like the hair you see in magazines or on TV, but that's okay. Its me, its mine, and I love it. ( :

8.13.2013

Vent

My daughter is my greatest blessing. She's also the source my greatest worry/stress. I knew being a mother would be hard, but its hard in so many different ways than I expected!

The hardest thing about being a mother is when your child is sick. Hands down. Yes, sometimes she's in one of her toddler moods and she's extremely hard to deal with, but I can handle that. I can handle it when her feelings are hurt or she's have a tantrum. I can even handle it when she gets a boo-boo like a scraped knee or a busted lip (which happened recently - and dang, do mouth wounds bleed a lot!!). But it kills me to know something is wrong that I can't fix with a hug and a kiss, or a Bandaid.

No one told me about this part of motherhood.

C is not sick right now. I do suspect she has yet another UTI, though. Her last one was just 3-4 weeks ago. The past few days, she's been showing the same symptoms she always does - very frequent urination and lots of accidents. Actually, over the weekend she did really well.

A few nights last week she told me her pee-pee hurt, and twice she actually cried when she was peeing. Since it only lasted a few nights (and only happened at night), I didn't think much of it.

Sunday at the baby shower, she did really well - no accidents. But she was going to the potty pretty frequently. Once, I asked her if she needed to potty and she did, then we barely made it out of the door before she said "I gotta pee-pee again!" But that time nothing came out. That's odd for her, but since she was otherwise acting fine, I brushed it off.

Yesterday when I picked her up, my MIL told me C had had 3 accidents that day. Pretty unusual for her. Then again, she had a busy weekend, my mother kept her on Friday, and we were at the beach Thursday. Sometimes a disruption in her normal schedule messes up her potty habits with my MIL. When that normally happens, she does just fine at home with me. So I again didn't think much of it.

Until I got home, and she had 5 accidents in the span of an hour and a half.

That is a lot of urinating! Each time it was just a small amount. Just like when she had her last UTI.

I can't say that I panicked, but I was on the edge. I feel so out of control when this happens. WHY does my baby keep getting UTIs??!

Next Monday, we have an appointment with a pediatric urologist at Duke. I'm hoping he can give us some answers.

In the meantime, I decided to go ahead and get a urine sample to her pediatric doctor. Last month, the nurse told me I could just bring in a sample without her being seen, but at the last minute, they changed their mind. (And then she got that terrible stomach bug from being in that germ-infested place.) So I brought the sample with me to work and called the peds. You have to leave a message for a nurse to call you back, and they usually call within an hour. 3 hours later I hadn't heard a thing, so I left another message.

This time, they called back pretty quickly. But the nurse said I had to bring her in. I insisted that I did not want to take her in, and explained that every single time I take her there, she comes home with a virus. That place is disgusting. Plus, we have to wait over an hour every time. Its just so stressful. I figured since they just saw her 3-4 weeks ago for this same issue, it wouldn't be a big deal to just test her urine.

Well, the nurse was kinda ugly on the phone, which brought out my inner Mama Bear. You don't want to be on the wrong side of that, trust me. I demanded that she ask the doctor and get back to me. Well, lo and behold, the doctor said it was fine to drop off a urine sample. But if it was positive, she wouldn't prescribe antibiotics without seeing C. Fine.

I dropped off the sample and told the nurse to call me. I explained to her that last month, the urine looked fine initially, but the culture grew, so to make sure to not discount it until tomorrow morning. She called me back in an hour and said the urine was fine. I asked had they cultured it and she said "umm....it got thrown away." WHAT!!

Let's just say that woman should be glad this happened over the phone and not in person. I was furious. I mean, really?! Why would you throw out a sample before you're done doing standard tests on it????!

For now, we're just gonna wait and see how C is tonight. If she's urinating a lot again, I'll try again with another sample tomorrow. Maybe it was just a one day thing, who knows.

It just doesn't seem normal to urinate that frequently and have nothing be wrong. Plus, we already know that her right kidney is swollen, and has been for at least 2 years now. My prayer is that this specialist on Monday can help us figure this out. Until then, please pray that C is okay and doesn't have an infection!

And yes, I have decided after this incident that I am DONE with her pediatric doctor. DoctorS, actually. Its a group practice. I love 2 of the physicians, but they are not worth all the headache I deal with every single time I go there. Last month, after the nurse called to confirm the UTI, I requested to speak to a doctor. The doctor that actually delivered me 30 years ago was who called me back. I've always liked him, until that day. When I asked him why C keeps having these UTIs, he was too nonchalant about it and brushed me off. When I requested a referral to a specialist, he tried to talk me out of it, saying a specialist wouldn't do anything. I had to demand a referral. He reluctantly gave me one, but I did not like his attitude. I am not the type of mother who rushes her child off to the doctor at every sniffle. (Hello, she had a cold for 5 weeks earlier this year, and I never even called the doctor cause I knew it was a cold.) But I trust my instincts, and so far they haven't led me wrong.

Kitchen Cabinet Organization

*edited to add pictures!*
We had an impromptu kitchen cabinet organization party last night. (What, doesn't everyone do that sometimes??) When I say impromptu, I mean I walked into the kitchen and my dear husband was taking everything out of one cabinet. Well, alrighty then, we're organizing cabinets tonight!

I wish I had some "before" pictures. If I had known DH wanted to do it this week, I would have taken some, but oh well. Such is life. Just trust me when I say the cabinets were in desperate need of some help.

I think what motivated DH last night was all the dishes and platters still sitting on our kitchen table when we got home last night. (Unfortunately, the dish fairy didn't come while we were at work yesterday and do that for us - bummer.) We already knew we weren't cooking supper, thanks to all the leftover baby shower food, so we had some time on our hands. I got quite a bit of laundry done last night - go me! And DH was very productive, as well.

When we first had our house moved to the land (way back in 2008, before we were even married - though we didn't move in until our wedding night), we had a lot of work to do. It would have been perfect blog content. (And of course, I didn't get a single "before" picture.) One of the things we did was remove the old, probably non-functioning dishwasher in the kitchen. Neither of us had ever had a dishwasher before, and I don't trust the things to get dishes clean, so I told DH I could live without it (there has only been maybe one time since then that I have regretted that decision, and we've been living in this house for almost 5 years now, so I think we're good). We had the space fixed so it looked nice again, and had a shelf put in there for storage. (We also left everything so that if we ever changed our minds, it would be easy to install a new dishwasher.) I even opted out of adding a cabinet door - I just hung a curtain on a dowel rod instead.

In the beginning, I purchased 2 baskets that I used to house our dish rags and dish towels. And for a while, the rest of that cabinet stayed nice and organized and clean. But of course, over time that cabinet became sort of a catch-all for the kitchen. Extra storage containers (please tell me we're not the only ones who save every single Cool Whip container and jelly jar!), extra jars, and a few very random items ended up in that cabinet. It was a mess.

DH decided last night he wanted to put some of our serving dishes and platters in that cabinet. Most of the dishes and bowels were being stored on top of the big freezer in the laundry room, and there's still a ton of serving stuff up there (and yes, we really have a ton of serving dishes! Its kind of our collection, I guess). But the big platters were being stored in the same cabinet where we keep pots and pans, and it was super hard to get them in and out. So they got moved to the old dishwasher space.

My 2 baskets ended up fitting on the top shelf, and a bunch of serving platters went on the bottom. We even had room to store some corningware dishes down there (that come with wire racks to hold them up). When we moved those, it prompted us to work on the cabinet where they were housed. (I'm seeing now that pictures would be really helpful here. I'll try to take some tonight and update this post.) That cabinet was another hot mess.

On the other side of our sink is a cabinet that goes from the floor to the ceiling. I had the fronts of the top 4 cabinet doors removed and replaced with glass, and we store our beautiful china in there. We eat off our china every night, its not just for show! But its such a pretty pattern that we wanted to display it.
See? Pretty, huh? We have enough of this pattern that it takes up 2 full cabinets (and then we have extra stored elsewhere, in case any of it breaks). People were good to us at our wedding showers. ( :

Anyway, we've done a good job over the years of keeping those 2 cabinets neat, since you can see what's in there without opening the doors. But the cabinet below them....*shudder*

It was so bad that sometimes when you opened one of the doors, stuff fell on you. Luckily, it was the bottom cabinet, so stuff didn't have far to fall, but still. Not cool. I usually try to avoid needing anything that's in that cabinet, that's how bad it was.

Not anymore! Its nice and neat in there now, too. Yep, definitely gonna have to take some pictures tonight. This morning I glanced in both cabinets that we reorganized and just stared in awe. Seriously. I'm weird like that.
And please tell me I'm not the only one who thinks her husband is seriously hot when he's organizing kitchen cabinets? ( ; hehe (Any type of cleaning, really...lol!)

Next on my mind (and DH's, too, I believe) is to tackle the cabinets of pots and pans. Talk about a mess. Probably at that same time we'll organize the cabinet under the island. I don't even know what's all in that one. I think if we had a day or 2 to stay home and do stuff around the house, we could accomplish a lot. If only....!
This hot mess is what's under the island. Yikes.

Pots/pans cabinet. Oh my...
The other side of that cabinet. Scary!

8.12.2013

Good Weekend

Not much to report here. Which is actually good, cause it means I haven't been running around like a chicken with its head cut off like I normally am (and who came up with that expression anyway?? Its awful!).

We did have a somewhat busy weekend. Well, really just yesterday was busy. Saturday, not much happened, thankfully. Me and C slept in, which was heavenly. After breakfast, DH came and picked her up and they spent a few hours together. (That sounds like we're separated, doesn't it? Nope. He's just gone usually on Saturdays - working. This weekend he was feeding a friend's animals, so C went with him to do that Saturday, and then they just hung out at his business together.) Meantime, I got some cleaning done at the house. Much-needed cleaning, trust me! When DH and C got home, it was time for C's nap, but of course she wouldn't go to sleep. I did spend an hour laying down with her trying, though. Not that I minded the trying; I was doped up on Benadryl all day, so I welcomed the rest! (Yep, I got a little sunburned on my neck after our beach day, so I've had a bit of an allergic reaction. Nothing terrible though, thankfully.)

It was super hot and humid Saturday. So much so that I didn't want to be outside at all. Around 5 I did take C to my mother-in-law's house to go swimming. That was fun. My child is like a fish in the water! Whoever invented arm floaties, I salute you. Though I wonder if they'll make it harder for her to learn hold herself up in the water without them...?

And that was our day. We had a super simple supper (thanks, Hamburger Helper), and C was asleep by 8:30 (thanks, no nap!). Of course, she didn't stay asleep that early. :/ I put her in the crib and she woke back up, so I ended up rocking her until 11pm - yawn. While I was doing that, DH was in the kitchen cutting up fruit.

We helped DH's mother host a baby shower yesterday for DH's brother and his wife. They're expecting a boy in September. I love my MIL so I wanted to help as much as possible. And DH is all about helping his mama, which I think is so sweet. Plus, both of us absolutely love stuff like this. People are always telling us we should go into the catering business. We'd love to, actually.

When DH's brother got married, we took over the bridal shower. My MIL is not good at stuff like that, so she just took directions from us. We went a little overboard, but I have to say we laid out an impressive spread. I have some catering background; growing up, my parents owned 2 restaurants, so I was a waitress for years and years. My dad also did some catering on the side, and I liked to go help him. I guess DH just naturally has the talent, cause he doesn't have any professional experience. He's good, though.  ( :

One of DH's cousins got married last fall, and she actually wanted us to do the food for her wedding. We almost took the job, but in the end decided it would be too stressful, since we would have to miss the actual wedding, and C was the flower girl so that wasn't happening!

So when my MIL asked for our help with this baby shower, we of course said yes. We were mainly in charge of fruit, but we organized and arranged/decorated everything. I wasn't able to help much with the cutting of the fruit, since I was stuck in the rocking chair for hours and hours. Once we got to the church yesterday, I set about arranging the food table, deciding what should go where, and which bowl/platter should be for what food. DH was busy making an adorable baby carriage out of a watermelon, and a beautiful fruit platter (which I had to help him with, haha - he doesn't quite have the eye that I do for stuff like that!). I was really proud of how it all turned out:
Terrible picture, really doesn't do any of it justice. But I just grabbed my iPhone and snapped a quick shot. And that's the only picture I took all day yesterday. Before people started showing up for the shower, I was too busy running around making sure everything was like I wanted it (I'm sure that was annoying to some people, but oh well, haha), and then once people arrived I was busy talking and making sure none of the food or punch ran out. After the shower was over, we all pitched in and had the church cleaned up pretty quickly. That's the worst part of doing stuff like this. I should have taken a picture of my kitchen table! DH and I supplied most of the serving dishes and platters, so when we got home we piled everything up on the table. And its still sitting there. We were just too tired to deal with it last night. Guess that's my project for tonight...yay.

Normally, events like these leave us pretty stressed out, which means tempers are flaring and we end up mad at each other. Yesterday was just fun, though. I don't know why, but this really brought me and DH closer together and we just laughed and joked with each other all day. Once the shower started, DH stayed in the kitchen so he could be ready to mix up more punch quickly, so I kept sneaking back there to see him and steal kisses - it felt like we were dating again. ( :

So yeah, I'd definitely say we had a good weekend. We need more like this! Well, not more showers to do for family, since we spent so much money on it. We don't have anything planned for this week or next weekend. I'm hoping for a relaxing week, and maybe I can convince DH to spend Saturday at the beach or something. ( :

8.09.2013

Beach Day!

Yesterday, we had a girls' day at the beach! Mama took off yesterday and today to keep C, and I asked for yesterday off so we could head to the beach for the day. So much fun!!

We drove down to Topsail Island (Surf City) and met up with my friend MM (the one who comes to ride horses with me sometimes). Her and her family have been there for a week, lucky ducks. So it was me, C, Mama, and 2 of my cousins. We left a little before 10, stopped to eat lunch at McDonald's, and were on the beach by around 12.

C played so hard. On our vacation to the OBX this summer, she was scared of the water and wouldn't touch it. Not yesterday! She loved being in there. The tide was pretty strong so we had to hold her hands most of the time, but she loved it.
C and my younger cousin M played in the sand quite a bit, too. There was a huge pile of sand in C's bathing suit when we took it off!
We stayed out there until 4 or so. Afterwards, we headed to my aunt's trailer and used her outdoor shower to clean up. Then we headed to Island Delights, my favorite restaurant on the island. They have an ice cream bar and you can get food like burgers and fries. The whole place is decorated like the 50s - they even have a working jukebox. I love it!

We finally left the island around 6, and C immediately passed out (she hadn't had a nap all day and had worn herself out!). She slept the whole way home, and then DH held her for a while and she kept right on sleeping. I finally got her up to put her nighttime diaper on her, and she stayed up for about 30 minutes before she said she was ready to go night-night. So I got to bed earlier than usual, too. ( :

After our day yesterday, I have decided I need to live at the beach. Not really, but man, would that be nice! Unfortunately, I did get a sunburn in a few places (apparently, I totally missed the sides of my neck with sunscreen - oops). So I'm already taking Benadryl round the clock. I'm a little itchy, but so far its nothing I can't handle. I have a feeling its gonna get worse, though. My stomach itches and it didn't get sunburned at all. Just a true sun allergy. :/

And yes, I wore my bikini yesterday! In PUBLIC! I bought it a few weeks ago at the insistence of my friend R. When I was pregnant, I wore a one piece bathing suit for some reason. I wish now I hadn't hid my belly. The first summer after I had C, I bought a slimming one piece. Its very flattering on me, but I really hate wearing one pieces. I just didn't want anyone seeing my tummy. Even though I lost all my pregnancy weight (plus 10 lbs), my stomach has never recovered. I have a lot of loose skin that I don't think will ever go away. Last summer, I got a two piece, but the top was a tankini so it covered me up. But my friend R pointed out to me that I'm too short-waisted to wear a tankini and have it look right (and she's totally right), and she urged me to wear a bikini.

Between her and the Beauty Revealed Project on facebook, I've gained a lot of confidence in my body lately. This is my body. I have learned to embrace it. It housed my child for 9 months, it delivered her vaginally, it has nourished her for 2 1/2 years now, its pretty amazing! I don't have a flat tummy anymore, and I don't look like a model. I don't even look like some other new mothers that I know, who look like they haven't even had a baby. But I'm finally okay with that. I traded a flat stomach and abs for a gorgeous, smart, healthy baby girl - how can I be upset over that?? Yeah, maybe I could get my stomach tighter if I worked by butt off in the gym or something, but I'd rather spend my free time playing with my daughter, not stressing over a few extra inches around my middle. My body was made to bear and nourish children, it doesn't have to look like a super model. And the cool thing is, my husband totally loves my new bikini, lol. ( ;

VBS - Take Two

This week C and I attended Vacation Bible School at my mama's church. I was a little reluctant to go since they started at 6. I had to rush like crazy to get there on time, but we made it all 3 nights.

The first night, C's teacher shut the door in my face when the kids headed to their classrooms. I had followed them in there and had planned to just sit and watch. C has been extremely clingy for about a week now, and I knew she wanted me there. Well, her teacher said she'd be fine and told me to get out, then shut the door! Of course that did not sit well with me, but I didn't want to start an argument, so I just sat in the sanctuary. 30 minutes later, the assistant brought C to me crying. She said she missed me. So I stayed with her the rest of the time.

That night, they played a fun game that taught them the story of Daniel in the lion's den. They took turns being Daniel, the angel, and the lions. C loved being a lion, naturally.

Music time was, of course, her favorite time! That kid loves to dance.
Tuesday night, C's teacher again didn't want me to stay with her, but this time C only lasted about 5 minutes before she had a break down. I didn't leave her side the rest of the night, and promised her that I'd stay with her the entire time the next night. Also on Tuesday night, her teacher wouldn't let the kids get up and dance during music time. She kept telling them to sit on the pews and sing. Um, hello, they don't know the words and can't read. Dancing is all they can do. C was the youngest in her class (its really for 3-5 year olds), and she doesn't go to daycare like the other kids, so she had a hard time with the rigidity this teacher expected. I was frustrated. I made my child behave, but I also know there's a time to let her be a kid. She wasn't being wild or disruptive, she just wanted to dance. I didn't see the problem.

Her teacher asked me that night if C went to Children's Church during the sermon, and I told her no, that C knows how to behave during church and that we're always getting compliments on how quiet and behaved she is. Its true. At our pool party last weekend, our church family was shocked to see how talkative and active C really is!

Wednesday night, I stayed with C the whole time. No tears! I could tell her teacher wasn't thrilled with the idea, but I didn't care. That night, the teacher wasn't planning on letting the kids go to music time at all. At 8:15 I said "aren't we supposed to go to music at 8:15?" And the teacher just nodded and made no move to get up and go. I slipped out of the room and vented to my mother and aunt (who were in charge of music). Finally, the teacher brought the class in there (when there was only 5 minutes of VBS left). But it wasn't fun cause she kept scolding the kids every time they started to dance. :/

I know someone out there will side with the teacher and say you shouldn't dance in church or whatever. But you know what? It doesn't bother me at all. I'd MUCH rather see my kid dancing to a JESUS song than some rap song about booties or whatever. And after being still for 2 hours, toddlers need to get out some energy. Dancing is perfect.

Another thing that kinda bothered me about this VBS was the preacher's puppet skits. Each night, he did a little skit with a monkey puppet that the kids loved. The first night all I could think about was how this guy looks and sounds like Christopher Walken (who freaks me out for some reason). The second night, the preacher came out dressed as a CLOWN and the puppet had a devil mask on. Have I ever mentioned I'm extremely afraid of clowns?! Yeah. C was kinda worried about all the masks, but she did well. That was just weird to me.

I am glad I took C to this VBS, though. I'm not sure she actually learned anything, but they tried, at least. Remember in our church's VBS, we didn't even attempt to do a lesson with our class? Having some older kids in this class made it possible to teach them a little. At any rate, its good for C to interact with other kids and adults! And being in a church setting is always good. ( :

Last Weekend

Its been yet another busy week here! I wanted to blog a little about last weekend first, though. Just so I don't forget anything. ( :

Friday night, DH and my daddy went to the coast to flounder (that is, fish for flounder). Last summer, they worked on Daddy's floundering boat but DH hasn't been able to go out on the boat since then. He finally got the opportunity, and I made sure he went! They had a great time. We should be cooking flounder soon. ( : While they were gone, me and C went out to eat with Mama. That was fun. The restaurant was playing some weird techno music and C kept asking "Mama, what is that silly music?!"

Saturday, me and C got up early and headed to my cousin's house. DH and I actually share a cousin. This guy is my aunt's son, and he's my husband's 3rd cousin or so. Its kinda weird, but around here, everyone is related, it seems! Anyway, his wife and I have become friends, especially since she had their baby back in May. So on Saturday the four of us plus her friend headed to Raleigh for the Big Latch On event at Sweet Bottoms Baby boutique. We were so excited! This event is basically just like the Great Cloth Diaper Change, but with boobs instead of cloth diapers (haha). I was beyond excited to go to Sweet Bottoms. I'd never been before, and I had heard great things about the store. I wasn't disappointed! Of course after the latch on, we shopped for quite some time. I was good and resisted the urge to buy a cute diaper (I tried to tell myself but what if we have another baby? I might NEED this!! lol. That's stupid.) I did end up buying C a hat for the beach (on clearance and tax-free, woohoo!), and some nursing pads for a friend of mine.

The Latch On went well. There were around 50 nurslings there, which was awesome. C was the second oldest kid. And of course when it was time to latch the babies on, C got shy and said she wasn't ready. I've never tried to force her to breastfeed, so I just said okay that's fine. But after a few minutes she changed her mind, so we were able to be counted (we were trying to break the world record for the most mothers breastfeeding at once - oh, and we totally did!). After that, I tried to get her to pee in the potty there but it was loud and she was scared. So what did she do? She walked over to the cloth diapers, spread her legs, and peed on the floor! Argh. Luckily, the employees were cool about it. I cleaned it up and we were fine the rest of the day.

After that, we headed to the mall. We had lunch in the food court, then walked around the mall. We ended up at Victoria's Secret. I had planned to just browse, not needing anything in particular, but a saleswoman asked if I would like a bra fitting. Well, I've been meaning to get one for a while now, so I said sure. Turns out, I've been wearing the wrong size bra. I had the cup size wrong but I was one size too large on the number. I've never had a really nice bra before, and man, what a difference! I ended up buying 2 of them. Now that I know my true size, I'm gonna try to get some cheaper-but-still-good-quality bras elsewhere. Of course, my size is odd so its gonna be next to impossible to find them at department stores.

We made it home around 3pm Saturday, and another cousin was having a birthday party from 4-6 that day. C slept a little on the way home, but she was exhausted, so I let her go back to sleep once we got home. A little before 5 I woke her up so we could go to the party. Then at 6 we left there, came home, rushed through feeding the horses, then left again for the local pool. Our church was having a back-to-school party there and everyone was invited. That was fun! C absolutely loved the pool. They have a shallow area for the little kids, and she loved being able to swim or stand up. I put her arm floats on and she just had a ball. We even swam in the deeper area with no problems. She slept well that night. ( :

Sunday after church, we had another birthday party to attend (for yet another cousin). That was fun, too. We stayed there a few hours, but when we got home C didn't want to take a nap. So that's when we rode Sunshine. I haven't been able to ride her since then, but my plan is to get on her tonight (if it doesn't storm like they're calling for).

It was a very busy weekend, but everything we did was fun. I'm glad not every weekend is quite that eventful, though!

8.05.2013

100

This is my 100th post! Woohoo. So exciting. Can't you feel my excitement through your screen?! No? Oh well.

If only I had 100 readers. Heck, or even 1! ( ;

We had a BUSY weekend. Busy doesn't even really begin to describe it. It was fun, though! I'll be back with details later. For now, I wanted to share about C's first official riding lesson!

Late yesterday afternoon, we were finally done with all our scheduled plans for the weekend. It was cooling off outside, C had refused a nap (we got home too late for that) and was needing something to distract her from her sleepiness, and I desperately wanted to ride my horse. So I asked if she wanted to go ride with me and she said yes! C enjoys riding, but you never know if she'll actually want to do it or not. Sometimes she's just not interested. I don't push it. I'd love for her to share my love of horses and riding, but I'm not going to force her to be involved. Luckily, she does seem to carry the horse-loving gene. ( :

Normally when we ride, I get up first and have DH hand C to me. And we ride bareback, since my saddle doesn't sit 2 comfortably. But DH stayed in the house yesterday, so I was on my own. I decided to see if C would sit up there on her own. And she did! She was super excited and proud of herself. Kept sayin "I'm a grown up!" (That's her new thing. Oh, boy, we're in for it, huh?)

At first I was terrified that she'd loose her balance and fall off. In the past we've had to hold on to her because she just didn't understand that she'd fall off if she leaned waaaay to the side. But I quickly realized that for whatever reason she has now figured out a little balance. I lead her to the arena and just walked around next to her in there. After a while, I even quit holding on to the reins, except when I needed Sunshine to turn. C thought it was so cool that she was riding all by herself. DH came outside after a while and judging from the huge smile on his face, he was pretty proud of his daughter, too.

I taught C how to stop Sunshine. She doesn't exactly understand how to do it yet, but she gets the concept. Luckily, Sunshine listens to small children when they say "woah!!" even if they don't pull on the reins. C held the reins the whole time, and tried to keep her feet in the stirrups. (I have got to get her some boots, though; she just had her flip flops on. Bad mama, I know!) I had her do some stretches, just like I have my lesson students do, and C thought that was super fun. Stretching and moving around a little (while the horse is standing still) is great for helping people (especially kids) get over any fear of the horse. C doesn't seem to have any fear though, haha. At first, she didn't think she could reach down and touch her toes, but once I showed her that she could, she was all for it. That's my girl! I wanted to do "around the world" (where the kid slowly turns all the way around in the saddle), but I was nervous to do it without help, just in case. We'll try that next time.

C didn't want to get off, but I wanted to work Sunshine a little so she agreed to get down (haha). DH came out there and the 2 of them hung out in the arena while I worked Sunshine. DH even set up poles for me. ( : It was a good ride. Sunshine was super lazy, but I'm still not holdin that against her since its still hot and she's not in shape. I did the same thing I did last Sunday, lost of ground poles and low cavalletti. Then I tried for the canter. I got a stride or 2 of a very ugly canter on the left lead, and barely a stride on the right. :( On the right, I felt her right hind leg slip out from under her, so I decided not to ask anymore. Clearly, she's not better. *sigh*

I called the vet this morning and he said to keep exercising her and give her another week. If she's not better by then he'll inject the ECP directly into her ligaments. So my goal this week is to ride her at least 2 times. That didn't happen last week, but I'm hopeful that this week will be better! We're already off to a better start with the week. I got over 7 hours of sleep last night, which hasn't happened lately. Tonight I'm takin C to Bible School at my mother's church. I'm kinda thinkin if tonight goes well, tomorrow I might just drop her off there and come home and ride Sunshine. We'll see. If not I'll just have to make myself get up at 5:30 and get outside!