Lifting the Mother’s Day Ban

For a few years now I’ve told Andy I don’t want him to worry about doing anything for me for Mother’s Day.

One part of me thinks it’s a bit of a Hallmark holiday, and the other part of me perhaps doesn’t feel worthy of a big fuss.  I also don’t want him or the children to feel pressured to make something special happen each year.

Mother’s Day can be complicated…we don’t all have ideal relationships with our mothers.  Maybe we’ve even lost our mother to death or estrangement.  Not all women decide to -or- have the ability to become mothers.  Perhaps we are mothers but it’s hard for us.  Or maybe we’ve lost a child.

There could be any number of reasons we struggle with Mother’s Day, but in any case, it’s not all flowers and chocolates for everyone.

I think I wanted to avoid any potential dysfunction with my own family by just skipping it all together.

Well, I hate to admit it, but that left me feeling sad.

At first it was fine.  I justified my “let’s skip Mother’s Day” approach by dismissing it as being overly commercial or by subtly shaming myself for wanting any fanfare.

Then one day I woke up and realized I’d pretty much stripped every bit of fanfare from my entire calendar year.

“Don’t make a fuss about Mother’s Day.”

“Let’s not exchange gifts for Christmas.”

“I don’t need anything for my birthday.”

Year after year would go by without much personal celebration at all.

I would never take away from celebrating Andy or the children, and I kept up with gifts and acknowledgements for my parents and siblings.

I just skipped myself.

I actually don’t think it was all bad.

It helped me focus on things that are far more meaningful than presents…

At Christmas I relished the music, cookies, family time, and gift giving.  For my birthday last year I raised $1,120 which provided clean water for 37 people who desperately needed it.

However, the “forget the fuss” resolve also failed to celebrate my journey of motherhood, the survival and growth of our marriage year after year, and the fact I am alive each year to see another July 12.

In the end, it wasn’t such a good resolve after all.

What’s wrong with celebration and fanfare?

Nothing.

Nothing at all.

My friend Marie takes birthdays and holiday seriously.  She reminds me that day-to-day life is hard and we should celebrate the special occasions!  We should fuss over others AND ourselves!

As I continue to read and journal and dig into my emotional health I’m understanding things I need to accept and things I need to let go.

I need to let go of my fierce devotion to “not needing anything” and I need to accept the fact I’m worthy of fuss and frivolity.

Even typing that out still makes me cringe.

#workinprogress

I’ve been keeping Andy up-to-date on my personal revelations, so he knew I was open to (and probably needing) some special attention this Mother’s Day.

Boy did he deliver!

After a long morning volunteering on Saturday, I came home and took a power nap with Drew.  I woke up groggy and a little cranky, but my frown turned upside down when I came downstairs and saw a beautiful bouquet of roses and a fluffy lemon meringue pie on the counter.  A little pre-Mother’s Day fanfare :)

I made dinner and we all enjoyed fat slices of pie while sharing our roses (highlights) and thorns (challenges) of the day.

Sunday morning I woke up to homemade buttermilk pancakes which were divine.  Andy cooked everything and cleaned it all up.  Woo hoo!

We cozied up in the living room and the kids all presented me with thoughtful and hilarious homemade cards :)

DAY SCENE

NIGHT SCENE LOL

Next up they gave me a big, heavy, beautifully wrapped (by Grace) present.  It was a new blender!

Now before you have visions of a guy in the doghouse for buying his wife a vacuum, let me explain.

We’ve had our blender since we got married about 15 years ago.  It’s been a decent and reliable blender.  It can totally handle things like milkshakes and salad dressings, but it’s not powerful or sophisticated enough for things like ice cubes and spinach.  I’ve drooled over Vitamix and Blentec blenders for years but simply cannot justify their hefty price tags.  A food blogger I love shared how much she likes her Ninja blender and, at about a quarter the price of the others, I decided to add it to my Amazon wishlist.

For the past year or so, I’ve been enjoying protein shakes as a part of my health and fitness journey.  I’ve really wanted to make them thicker by adding ice, but my blender just can’t handle it.  So you can imagine how excited I was to receive this practical yet very thoughtful gift!!

I also love that it’s a gift the whole family can enjoy!  We christened it last night by making delicious mango-banana-coconut-orange juice smoothies that everyone devoured!

After watching our Michigan church’s sermon web stream, we all got dressed and headed out to a local sushi restaurant for lunch.

The kids were nervous about having lunch at a place so far outside their comfort zones and I was nervous when we walked in and they all started complaining and holding their noses at the hostess stand! Fish smells are pretty unavoidable at sushi restaurants LOL

We sat down and browsed the menu for items the kids might enjoy and decided on crab rangoon, tempura chicken, and a side of noodles.

Andy ordered steamed pork dumplings for the two of us since we loved them so much the first time we dined at this restaurant.

The kids all tried the rangoon and liked it, but they were HUGE fans of the pork dumplings! Who knew?!

I cannot tell you how proud I was of them for trying new foods.  I love food from all around the world and I’ve always hoped we could enjoy lots of interesting food as a family.  This was a huge step in the right direction :)

They were all so cute using their chopsticks and opting to eat their noodles out of the tiny bowls intended for soy sauce LOL

Lunch turned out to be a smashing success!  I was so happy to have shared a non-traditional meal with my sweet babies :)

On the ride home my belly and heart were so full.  I told Andy how much I appreciated the effort he put into making my day so special.  I also realized how much the celebration was about all of us, not just me.

Without Andy and the children, I wouldn’t be a mother.  This whole fantastic celebration was about all of us.  My most precious gifts in this whole world.

I’m incredibly thankful and humbled that I’ve been so privileged to have this amazing family despite all my flaws and failures.

That’s something worth celebrating.

All The “ings”

Let’s kick it old school with a blog post that feels a little more “2011,” Lol.

Boy, that was the heyday of blogging!

Everyone was posting regular content, Instagram was barely a twinkle in her mother’s eye, video hadn’t taken over, I was going to annual blogging conferences like this one and this one and this one.  Blogging was all the rage and we shared all kinds of random things like Steppin’ Out Saturday, High On Thrifting Thursday, house tour link-ups, working mom vs. stay at home mom drama, etc.

It was so fun.

Many blogs I loved following back in those days have closed up shop and share most updates through Instagram and Facebook now. *Sigh*

Daily Rebecca is still plodding along and I thought it would be fun to share all the “ings” around here lately!  I did this a couple years ago and it was so fun to look back and see how my life has changed.  Wow those baby years are HARD!

Reading

I’m pretty late to the game, but I decided to finally read the Harry Potter series and I’m currently on Book 3.  It’s not my normal genre, but I know these books are a cult classic and Andy has read them all through about 8 times.  I figured it would be nice for me to get to know Mr. Potter for myself.  We’re watching the movies as I go along which is fun for both of us.  Can’t say I’m tearing through them yet, but I’ve heard things really take off in book 4 so I’m excited!

Smelling

Andy has been bringing flowers home lately.  My romantic heart loves this small gesture and I smile every time I pass by the fresh bouquets.  These star gazer lilies are a real show stopper!  They are big and beautiful and FRAGRANT.  They blanket the whole first floor with their perfumed aroma.  One of my Instagram friends suggested trimming the orange anthers from them to prolong their life and soften their scent.  I did that this morning, so we’ll see how it affects them.  They really are pretty…

Watching

My friend Ramona suggested I watch Jane the Virgin on Netflix and, although the title makes me crinkle my nose, I gave it a try.  The premise is a young virgin (Jane) gets accidentally artificially inseminated and all kinds of drama ensues after that.  It took me a few episodes to get hooked because it can come off as kind of cheesy at first, but then there are all kinds of dramatic cliffhangers!  Murder, mystery, crime, love, family dynamics, strong female characters, humor, tragedy.  This show has it all and now I’m a super fan!  The stunning cast of Hispanic actors and actresses are fantastic.  Lot’s of Spanish is peppered throughout each episode and it makes me want to revive the 3 semesters of college Spanish I have buried deep in my mind!

Listening

We rented The Greatest Showman a couple weeks ago for Friday Movie Night and we all loved it! It’s such a beautiful and inspirational movie with an incredible soundtrack!  We’ve been listening to the songs on repeat and having fun dancing and belting out the lyrics!  Plus, I was ready for a break from Moana and Sing music LOL

Here are 2 of our favorite tunes from the movie:

Eating

Warm weather has descended upon southern Maryland and we’re loving it!! The sunshine and warm temps have made Andy and I crave burgers and bbq food.  Twice in the last week we’ve had burgers with summery sides like corn on the cob, baked beans, roasted potatoes, and green beans. We are both working toward some fitness goals so it’s important to keep our carbs in check.  Skipping the burger buns is a great way to do that and the kids are all on board too!  They usually discard their bun at a restaurant anyway, so it’s working out great.  I posted a bunless burger “recipe” on the blog a while back that may be fun to check out.

Clean Summertime Burger and Fries

Wearing

Finding the perfect jeans is like finding a magical unicorn, am I right?!

Men have it so easy.  They pick their length and width then go about their day.  Women have to consider rise, inseam, stretch, length, pocket placement, wash, hip to thigh ratio, style, brand, and about a hundred other unspoken nuances when finding a pair of jeans that feels comfortable and looks great.

When I was turned on to Wit & Wisdom’s Absolution jeans last year, I was immediately sold!!  These jeans have a hidden wide elastic waistband inside which keep them from falling down or pinching my love handles.  They are stretchy throughout the leg without being too tight.  They wear beautifully and have been such a game changer for me!!  They’re a little pricey, but Nordstrom has free shipping and free mailing returns so you can order a few sizes to find your perfect fit and send the rest back hassle free.  That’s totally worth it to me!  Plus, dividing the cost of these jeans over the number of times I wear (and love) them makes them a great value.

Wanting

I’m itching to start planting colorful annuals outside!  We are finally living somewhere long enough to make gardening worthwhile, and I’m ready to get started.  I just love colorful flowers in front garden beds and I’ve been trying to figure out my strategy for this home.  We have a long garden bed along our front porch.  It needs a thick layer of fresh mulch and I’m hoping a fluffy row of impatiens will bloom nicely along the edge too.  I’m a sucker for hanging ferns, so I’m planning on a couple of those as well as a brighter wreath.  This is what we have now:

This is what I’m hoping to do in the next few weeks!  (I had way too much fun digitally landscaping! LOL)

Feeling

Honestly I’m feeling nervous about starting the foster care approval process.  You see, about 6 years ago I had a moment.  My heart broke and I decided on the spot I had to do something about the orphan and foster child crisis.  You can read all about it in this post. That day, for the first time, I felt open to adoption.  But since then, the fire in me to help and serve children in need has grown and expanded.  The foster care system in America today is riddled with problems, but is also in desperate need of loving families to care for displaced children.  Andy and I are in agreement that we should be a part of the solution.  Now that we’re staying put for the next 3 years and Drew is a little older, we plan to start the foster approval process.  I’m scared, but nothing great ever happened without a little fear.

Those are my “ings” but I’d love to hear a few of yours in the comments!

5 Easy Ways To Change The World

Do you ever hear tragic news about the state of the world and get so overwhelmed at the idea of trying to help that you just give up?

I do.

Or at least I used to.

I used to flip the channel when the starving children commercials came on TV because it was just too sad and made me feel too helpless so it was easier to look away than to consider what I could do.

I’d hear about hurricanes and refugees and orphans and the homeless and I’d mentally change channels because it made me uncomfortable.

Then I learned what a privilege it is that I can just choose not to think about it and I DON’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT IT.

Do you get that?

I’m so privileged that I can choose to ignore those problems and go about my shiny life without a second thought.

But what about the people who are living in those circumstances?

They can’t just decide not to “think about it anymore” because it’s their reality.  It’s their life.  It’s the barrel of the gun they are staring down every.single.day.

But guess what?

can do something about it.

I don’t have to, but I GET TO.

I get to help change the world!!!

Isn’t that wonderful??

I can play a small part in making a difference in someone’s life.

And I can do it over and over and over and over again until I’ve made lots of small changes in lots of someone’s lives.

And YOU can do it too!

Imagine that each of our small contributions are drops of water…like from a leaky faucet.

Come on, you know that annoying sound.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

You grab a bucket to catch them, thinking it’s not much water but you’ll collect it just to see.

Tomorrow you come back and the bucket is half full!

Don’t ask me how I know this, but it has something to do with the basement shower in our old house.  I’ll leave it at that! ;)

Ok, so back to our little tiny contributions.  They are like drops of water they will fill buckets if we keep adding them.

Imagine how much faster we’d fill buckets if we told a friend and they started adding their drops of water too.

We’d have buckets and buckets of water for a thirsty and dying world!

That’s what I’m proposing with this blog post…

We can do something about the hurting people in our world and we should be doing something.  Especially if we are Christians.

The word Christian literally means “little Jesus”.  We are supposed to be little Jesus’s walking around this earth doing what he did.

Loving.  Serving.  Giving.  Feeding.  Healing.

He isn’t documented as going to church every Sunday and living in the right neighborhood and voting a certain way and living a moral life.

No, he’s documented as sharing meals with the underdog and the criminal and the prostitute.  He’s documented as calling the crooked tax collector out of the tree and having dinner at his house that night.  He’s documented as speaking healing and hope into the life of the loose woman drawing water from the local well.  He’s documented as multiplying a little boy’s lunch to feed thousands of hungry men, women, and children.

Let’s be like him.

Not the him the modern day church has created, but the him who actually lived and who actually changed the whole world forever.

Let’s love the people everyone looks away from and becomes uncomfortable around.

Let’s do it so extravagantly that people ask us why on earth we are spending so much of our time, energy, and resources on people who can’t give us anything in return.

Then, let’s tell them it’s because that’s what Jesus did.

Let’s tell them he did that and he loves us so much that it has turned us inside out and the least we can do is pay it forward to others who need that kind of love.

Let’s tell them that loving the way Jesus did points people to him and that’s the only direction worth going.

Let’s change the world.

Here are 5 EASY ways to get started changing the world.  There are a million other things you can add to this and there are a million other ways to give face to face and to give until it feels like a sacrifice.

But sometimes we need baby steps.

Little, easy things we can do to start adding drops to the bucket.

So, I challenge you to read this list and pick just ONE.

ONE easy way you can start changing the world TODAY.

I’ll warn you….giving like this is addicting.  You’ll experience so much joy, you’ll want to keep going ;)

 1. Donate to International Justice Mission (IJM)

IJM does unprecedented work to rescue people from human trafficking and slavery.  Any dollar donated to IJM is a dollar spent wisely!! Your dollar will help rescue someone who is living in a nightmare every single day.  Consider donating $24 per month to become an IJM Freedom Partner.  That’s the cost of about 6 small lattes!  Click HERE to learn more!

2. Sponsor a child through Food For The Hungry

Food For The Hungry provides life-changing resources like food, water, medicine, and education to people in poverty around the world.  One thing I love about FH is how they educate families on agriculture and the importance of a nutrient-rich diet.  Children who once were malnourished from a diet of only one crop are now healthy and thriving because their families have been taught HOW and WHY to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables.  For $35 each month you can sponsor a child and change their life forever.  Click HERE to learn more.

3. Sponsor a child through Compassion International

For over 65 years Compassion International has been committed to helping millions of children around the world.  They are a charity with utmost integrity and proven results.  They are committed to the focus on children, partner with local churches to make a big impact around the world.

3. A Wider Circle

A Wider Circle is an incredible charity local to the DC Metro area.  Their mission is to eliminate poverty and they go about doing it by furnishing thousands of homes each year with items in dignity condition (no rips, stains, or defects) for FREE.  They also provide comprehensive career coaching and professional clothing to their clients.  How can you rise out of poverty when you don’t have a bed to sleep in or the skills needed to apply for a well-paying job?  You can’t.  But when you partner with AWC you can!  Click HERE to donate to their mission.

4. Preemptive Love

Preemptive Love’s primary mission is to help refugees.  They meet families on the frontlines of conflict, providing them lifesaving food, water, and medical care.  They create jobs for those victimized by ISIS and provide small business grants, tools, and coaching so refugees and their families can recover from the devastating effect of war and violence and once again flourish.  Click HERE to donate to Preemptive Love.

5. Give to your local church food pantry 

Many churches have a food pantry ministry that serves their congregation and the local community.  Consider buying an extra bag of groceries to contribute to their work!

Easter 2018

Easter this year was so wonderful.

It’s the first year I can remember us spending it at home without extended family, and while we do miss everyone so much, this year’s quiet celebration was perfect.

A couple weeks before the big day I brought out the Easter decor bin and added some springy cheer to the house.

 

Grandma sent a bunch of fun Easter treats for the kids. They love getting mail, and mail from Grandma is always full of goodies!

Over the years through trial and error, Grandma has gotten great at sending goodies that follow the rules:

  • no glitter
  • no silly putty
  • no tiny stickers

Can I get an amen about how awful those items are??? LOL

On Saturday evening we enjoyed our first annual Seder.  This is something I’ve wanted to do with our children for many years and now that everyone is a little older and we have finally stopped moving, it was the perfect year to start the tradition.

For those unfamiliar with the Seder, it’s pronounced “Say-der” and it’s a Jewish ritual that includes reading, drinking wine, telling stories, eating special foods, singing, and other Passover traditions.

As a Christian, the Seder is particularly meaningful because it adds so much depth and meaning to what the modern church does for communion.

The grape juice and crackers served at churches across America only tell a small part of the beautiful story of how Jesus fulfilled countless ancient prophesies by dying on the cross to rescue us from our sins.

(Opening the door for Elijah)

If you have the opportunity to participate in a Seder, DO IT.  You’ll be changed!

Instead of filling plastic eggs with candy or toys for our egg hunt, I tried something new and it was a big hit!

I made a custom puzzle through Shutterfly and put the pieces inside jumbo plastic eggs.  Andy and I hid the eggs all around the house the night before Easter, and in the morning the kids hunted for the eggs and used the pieces to build a puzzle that told them where their Easter baskets were hidden!  It was so much fun.

Bags in hand, ready for the egg hunt!

This picture of Grace leaping just cracks me up!!!

Drew’s face! LOL

Heading back upstairs to keep looking!

Starting the puzzle!

Avery is a PUZZLE MASTER.

Her faces!! Hahaha!

The last piece!

A knight costume so he can dress up with the girls without having to be a princess.

A Belle nightgown for my princess lover!

An assortment of “squishies” which are apparently all the rage!

He wasn’t sure about his costume at first LOL

Andy and I cracked up about this next series of pictures…

Hahahah!

After the egg hunt, the kids played with their new toys all afternoon.  Andy and I rested and enjoyed the quiet of not having to go anywhere.  We read the kids a few stories about the crucifixion and resurrection and then we all had dinner.

I made my first ham!  Well, let’s be honest…all I did was heat it up per the instructions on the wrapping! We also had cheesy potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts and crescent rolls from a can ;)

For dessert we all went crazy over my friend Bonnie’s Deluxe Lemon Bars.  They are seriously incredible! Lemon bars just seemed like the perfect springy Easter dessert, and they absolutely were.

It was a simple day but it brought me so much joy.  I’m so very grateful for this amazing family I have.  God is so good, I literally cannot fathom it.

Easy One Pan Chicken & Rice

Easy One-Pan Chicken & Rice

When I make a dinner my entire family enjoys, I record it for posterity. This Easy One-Pan Chicken & Rice was just such a meal, so I had to share it with all of you!!

It’s SUPER easy, only dirties one pan, tastes great, doesn’t involve touching any raw meat, and packs protein, carbs, and veggies into one dish!

This cheesy chicken and rice is gluten-free and could even be converted to a vegetarian meal by swapping out the chicken stock for veggie stock and the ground chicken for sliced carrots.

Plus, did I mention it’s a ONE PAN MEAL??

I love one pan meals :)

Ok…without further ado here’s the recipe.  Enjoy!

Easy One Pan Chicken & Rice

Easy One-Pan Chicken & Rice
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (or oil of your choice), divided
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced (you can even use ¾ tsp garlic powder in a pinch!)
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1¼ cup uncooked white rice (I love Basmati or Jasmine)
  • 16oz bag chopped frozen broccoli florets
  • 2½ cups chicken broth (in a pinch you can use water and add ¼ tsp season salt, ¼ tsp onion powder, and a dash of garlic powder)
  • 2-3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, sauté diced onions in 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat till soft (about 5 min)
  2. Increase heat to med-high and add ground chicken to the pan, stirring regularly to break up large pieces and evenly cook through.
  3. Season with ½ tsp salt and ground pepper to taste.
  4. Cook the ground chicken until no longer pink, then add the minced fresh garlic (or garlic powder).
  5. Saute for about 1 minute, taking care not to burn the fresh garlic.
  6. Push the chicken and onion mixture to one side of the pan and add the last one tablespoon of oil to the other side. (see photo below)
  7. Add the uncooked rice to the heated oil and stir for about two minutes, until the rice begins to turn golden.
  8. Add chicken broth to the pan, add the other ½ tsp salt and ground pepper to taste and stir to combine all ingredients.
  9. Bring the pan to a gentle boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cover.
  10. Cook covered on med-low for about 12 minutes, stirring everything halfway to prevent sticking.
  11. Add the chopped broccoli and stir to combine.
  12. Continue to cook covered on low to med-low for about 8 minutes, or until broccoli is fork tender, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking
  13. Remove from heat and stir in one cup of the shredded cheddar cheese.
  14. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and cover for a couple minutes until cheese has melted.

 

 

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