Her three cries

Last night was one of those nights that doesn’t really feel  like a night so much as one day merging into the next. I can’t remember what the clock said when she woke up the first time or what time we actually went to sleep for the last time before the dogs started their morning “we have to pee and we haven’t eaten in 12 hours” dance. It’s the season of sniffly noses and congested baby lungs and my beauty rest suffers for it. Her demeanor suffers from it, more.

Chuckles has three distinct cries in the night. Two of these “cries” I let her work through on her own. I say “cries” with quotes because an outsider might classify them as such, but to me these are her tentative mama meter tests. Because of the genius of modern technology and The First Years Home and Away Portable Video Monitor, I can now see exactly what her displays of each of these cries looks like!

Cry one is more of a whine. She stays laying down in bed, usually without even lifting her head. She kind of whimpers, maybe grunts (I’ve even heard a toot or two) and then generally she will roll over and go back to sleep. I think she uses this cry as kind of a “testing the waters” call out. She’s thinking, “Will they come? Is it worth it for me to exert the extra effort to INSURE they come. Ehh, I’m too tired from all the fighting bedtime I did earlier. Plus, this bed is cozy. Guess I will just go back to sleep.” This is the cry I pray for. This is where I am silently asking the good Lord to stop her every.single.night.

Then, there’s cry two. This second cry is definitely backed up by more alert energy. Generally she starts by sitting up in her bed. She calls out that she needs to “poop” (rarely does she actually need to poop….this tactic worked on the eager potty training mommy one too many times!) When Hfoe and I don’t come running at the mention of a potty break she will often start to get out of bed. This is another place where the monitor has come in handy. With its nifty two way call button, I can sometimes stop her in her tracks with a quick “C, get back in bed.” Although the novelty of the all-knowing mommy in the wall voice is starting to wear off on our too-smart girl, it was pretty awesome while it lasted! So, once she is out of bed this is where things can go one of two ways. Usually, realizing that it is still dark out and that SHE IS TIRED, she will collapse on the floor by the door. With her face pressed against the floor, trying to soak up under the door whatever her mama and papa are doing out in the living room, she will give out one or two last calls and then pack it in for the evening. On the floor. I hate it when she sleeps on the floor. I know, I know, she must be ok or she wouldn’t stay there, but it makes me uncomfortable just looking at her! I use to put a blanket down in front of her door in anticipation for this, but she would move it. I have no idea why. I have taken to dressing her in two layers so at least if she won’t stay under her covers and IN BED, she won’t catch pneumonia from the cold. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t end there.

Now, cry three. This is where my mama senses go on high alert. This is the cry that can wake me from a dead sleep. This is the cry that really means she needs me and she isn’t just ready to get up for the day or ready to play tea party at midnight. This is the cry meant just for me and her papa. This was the cry of last night. It breaks my heart to hear my little mini-me cry because she is sick or afraid or just so lonely that she needs a hug in the wee hours of the morning. Last night, cry three was interspersed between wheezy breaths and snotty sniffles. I scooped up my sicky and brought her to bed with me. Bad idea.

I learned over the summer that the days of Chuck sleeping with us are long over. She can’t. No, really, she can’t sleep when she is in bed with us for some reason. If I nurse her ALL NIGHT LONG she will eventually fall asleep, but then I can’t. So, nursing aside, she will just talk and fidget and roll over and over and over for hours! This was the scene last night until I tried to lay her back in her bed. Commence the whole cycle of cries over again. Aaah! Finally, I gave up. My coughing, teary-eyed nugget won. I picked her up and hugged her close as we headed back to mama’s bed. And I nursed her ALL NIGHT LONG. Or, rather, FOR 3.5 HOURS THAT WERE LEFT OF THE NIGHT. I got the least amount of sleep I have had in months and she didn’t fare much better. But, we made it. This day is almost over and even on little sleep, we survived.

I read a beautifully written post today about cherishing those “I need you mommy” moments instead of brushing them off only to be lost forever. I get it and I am trying to be better about not missing those little instances, but some nights it is all I can do to wash my face before bed, much less rock her for the 5th time. I need her to sleep. She needs to learn to love her sleepy time, too! I guess in the mean time it’s a good thing she has a few different cries to let me know how serious the “mommy I need you” situation is.

She is the most perfect, beautiful, sleepy little angel. And the world better watch out because soon she will be awake!

Impromptu Mexican Casserole

It’s been a little bit since I posted a recipe, but in an effort to be more creative for my family, I decided to try something new and of course share it with you! This Mexican food kick I have been on lately culminated last night in a craving for something similar to the Mexican Casserole my mom use to make when I was growing up. I am notorious for craving something, looking it up to see if I can find a recipe that looks feasible and then totally destroying that recipe to match the ingredients I have available. Fortunately, I have gotten pretty good at this routine and the final product usually turns out pretty good….Hfoe would argue, BETTER than the original recipe! That’s a matter of opinion, I suppose, but the goal is to feed the fam on the cheap and healthy, so if I succeed at that, I am happy! Here goes…

First, I should note that the original recipe can be found here.

After assessing that the only things on the ingredient list that were actually in my possession were ground meat and tortilla chips, I figured I could manage to eek out something similar to this delicious-looking Mexican Casserole, and maybe even make it a little healthier (but not low-fat, per se.)

Here is what I ended up using and what you will need if you plan to follow this recipe exactly…

1lb ground venison (deer meat, thanks Honey!)
1 can rotel
1 can Organic Black Beans
1 can Organic diced tomatoes
1 packet taco seasoning
2 cups crushed tortilla chips
4 oz Cream Cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheese

First I browned the meat adding the taco seasoning WHILE it was browning. I didn’t add any water as I would if I was making tacos, I just wanted the seasoning to SEASON the meat, not make any sauce.
While the meat was cooking, I crushed up the tortilla chips and spread them evenly over the bottom of a well-greased 9×13 glass pan. When the meat was perfectly browned I added in the can of beans (drained) and the can of rotel. I simmered for a few minutes until the liquid from the rotel had reduced a bit. Then I stirred in and melted the cream cheese making the mixture a little creamier. Once everything was sloppy-fied together and was smelling my house up really good, it was then time to spoon the mixture over the chips. I topped the whole concoction with the can of diced tomatoes (drained) and then spread the 1/2 cup of cheese on top of that.

Everything went into the preheated 350* oven for 30 minutes and when the cheese was hot and bubbly, it was done!
OK, not to toot my own horn or anything, but YUM! I served this with a salad and chips. It was really delicious and thankfully we have plenty of leftovers for  dinner tonight! Like I said, this isn’t necessarily low fat or low calorie, but you can healthify most any recipe by using as many organic, non-gmo ingredients as possible. Also, by cutting the amount of cheese and tortilla chips from the original recipe and leaving out sour cream altogether, I did cut some calories. I will say, though, I think it is best for you to adapt any recipe to YOUR family’s needs and wants. For instance, I HATE olives, so adding those wasn’t even an option. Also, if you need to sneak more veggies in for picky little eaters, go for it! Zucchini is a veggie that adapts to pretty much anything you add it to. If I had added some to this recipe, I would have added it before the beans, after browning the meat. Oh, and I am fully aware that packaged taco seasoning isn’t great for you, with its msg and all. But, I didn’t have everything to make my own and in a pinch, Lawry’s will do!
So, go, cook and enjoy! And come back here and let me know how it turned out!



Are you a Pirate?

Last night Hfoe and I had the opportunity to experience that rare and elusive of events. That night that only comes around so infrequently that we almost forget how to behave around each other. That thing that makes us feel like teenagers…albeit, very TIRED teenagers…but, teenagers none the less. We went ON A DATE! No kid, no fully packed diaper bag, no animated movie playing in the backseat…just two adults, holding hands, maybe kissing a little, playing 20 questions in the car. Even better was the fact that Chuckles was already peacefully asleep in her bed when my mommy friend came to watch the monitor for a few hours. Thank the Lord for mamas helping mamas out! If you haven’t swapped babysitting with one of your girlfriends, DO IT! It is such a wonderful feeling to know that the most precious entity in your life is being cared for by someone else who has their own precious little entity and will love on yours just the same. But, I digress.

DATE NIGHT! So, for our big evening we decided to RSVP to a film screening event hosted by The Wrap for Captain Phillips.

In my former, pre-mommy life, I was a part of “the industry.” I was Hollyweird and I loved it! I also managed to work my tushy right into the Screen Actors Guild (before it was cheapened by the merger- WHOLE other rant) and because of this we had a little preferential treatment! It’s pretty cool to waltz to the front of the line and hand over that card I slaved for, while simultaneously looking awesome to my hubby! He had only been to a couple of industry events with me before we got married, so this “SAG” thing is still pretty rad to him! 

The view from the front of the line!

Once we had our tickets, we stepped inside the very full theatre…apparently every other guild member decided this was a good date night option as well, but they all arrived REALLY early ( no babies to put to bed, I presume!) So, though they were less than ideal, we did manage to find two seats together…on the second row. No biggie, right? This way we could REALLY feel the action, be a part of it! Try not to throw up as the movie set 99% on the water sways bigger than life right at our noses! And boy was there swaying! And action and emotion and unbelievably stirring performances! Tom Hanks was impeccable as Captain Phillips. The climactic scene in the end in which Hanks illustrates a master class in dramatic acting was a reminder of why this man, whether lending his voice to an animated cowboy or lending his sobs to a cinematic work of art, is always deserving of top billing. Another wrenching performance was given by the actor playing Muse, the captain of the Somali Pirates. This newcomer was both terrifying and thought provoking as he held his own against the veteran Hanks. 
This man’s name is Barkhad Abdi and he, along with director Paul Greengrass, were the guests for the Q&A after the film screening. What a treat to hear Mr. Abdi speak about his real life story of coming to America a Somali refugee on the visa lottery at the age 14. He spoke about how he was a Limo driver when he heard about auditions in Minneapolis for Somali actors and he knew he just had to try. Here is this man, who by all accounts had a million and one cards stacked against him from birth and now he is laughing about knocking Tom Hanks around with a machine gun. What an awesome country in which we live!
Things only started to get awkward when  Sharon Waxman, CEO/Editor-in-chief of The Wrap asked some uncomfortable, completely NOT ok questions of Mr. Abdi.  The obviously cringing audience audibly booed as Ms. Waxman dared to ask, “So, Barkhad, do you know anyone who is pirate back home in Somalia? Is any of your family involved in pirating? If you hadn’t come to the US, would YOU be a pirate?” WHAAAAT?! We just watched this dude pull off a stellar performance and THAT is the question you want to end with? Dis.Grace.Ful. Mr. Abdi handled himself wonderfully and went on to talk about the dire state of Somalia after the war, but declined to answer if he actually “knew any pirates.”
All in all the evening was so wonderfully enjoyable. Again, I felt like a part of the art community I have loved since I was a little girl, if only for a few hours, and my lover and I got a memorable night all our own.
When we pulled into the driveway we kissed once more before we went inside to our still peacefully sleeping daughter and our dear friend who protected her for us. Thank you, my Heavenly Father for a night like last night!

Hard Rock diaper laundry!

I just wanted to take a quick second to sing the praises of Rockin’ Green detergent. So, as you all know, C is doing so well with potty training. She doesn’t wear diapers anymore during the day, but she is still wearing her trusty Best Bottom covers or Bum Genius pockets for nap and at bedtime. With cloth diapers comes cloth diaper laundry…not as much as there use to be, but a load is still a load. So, now that she isn’t using as many diapers, we go more days between washes. This led to major stinkies in her beloved diapers and I was having a heck of a time getting it out. I tried so many different detergents and concoctions and everytime she would pee, the smell would come back! Enter Rockin’ Green!

I did an hour long soak in Rockin’ Green’s Hard Rock and then did my wash routine like normal. Voila! NO MORE STINK! And it stayed away through the naptime peepees! I promptly decided to rewash our whole stash, soaking first in this magic stuff! Needless to say, I totally recommend this detergent.

I am thinking my next laundry target will be Hfoe’s stinky hunting gear. Well, maybe not. I suppose he wouldn’t appreciate the lovely light watermelon scent when the wind shifts toward his prey!