Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What We Learned: 13 Months

Bennett has had his hair cut several times.  I wasn't attached to the golden locks that were getting in his eyes, brushing his ears and flopping in his face.  But in the past month, his hair is beginning to curl.  I've been reluctant to trim an inch.  This past weekend I sucked it up and went to the barber shop.  It was closed.  I took it as a sign that it wasn't time to trim.  Grandma disagreed and took matters into her own hands.  Now, my baby is gone and I'm left with a someone who want's to be my man.

Bennett learned that walking is an efficient mode of transportation.

We learned he no longer needs to hold our hand.

Bennett learned to throw things.

We learned to let it be.

Bennett learned to walk away from diaper changes.

We learned that diaper changes are still a challenge.  Help we need somebody!

Bennett learned that hugs and kisses reap great rewards.

We learned that sometimes love is all you need.

Monday, November 28, 2011

For the Love of Pumpkin

To me, fall is all about the pumpkin (note, acceptable pronunciation includes, pump-kin or pumkin, NOT punkin, unless your name is Cam and you're famous for your punkin chunkin.  I juss sayin.)  I fell victim to the Pinterest/Blog world hoopla over the three ingredient pumpkin bread.  I wasn't impressed. Even Martha failed me with her Pumpkin Spice Cake with Honey Icing.  It was good, but not blow your mind with fall goodness.  Then I stumbled upon a spicy, cheesy pumpkin delight.  I thought I'd pass it along as it was a big hit in our house.  

Cheesy Pumpkin Shells
Adapted from Here

16 ounces of whole wheat orecchiette (or regular old pasta shells if you leave in the South because orecchiette is apparently too exotic for Publix)
3 tbs. butter
4 tbs. flour
3 cups + 1/3 cup of milk (skim, whole, whatever you’ve got)
12 ounces of grated cheese (I used a mix of sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and parm)
8 ounces of Velveeta, cut into cubes (1/4 of a large brick, or one of the cute little ones)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tbs. minced fresh rosemary
½ tsp. cayenne pepper (Do you know that down here, they just call it ground pepper?)
½ cup of breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook pasta in salted water, removing from the heat and draining three minutes less than the cook time on the package.

Melt butter in a large skillet or dutch oven or sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Add flour, whisking for about thirty seconds.  Add two cups of milk and the rosemary, whisking continuously until smooth.  Add the third cup of milk and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens, about five minutes

Turn down the heat to medium.  Reserving a handful of cheese for the topping, add cheese blend and whisk until combined.  Add Velveeta and stir until fully melted.  Add salt and pepper to taste, cayenne and pumpkin, followed by the additional 1/3 cup of milk.  Stir until smooth. 

Toss cheese sauce with cooked pasta and pour into a greased casserole dish (I divided it between two small/medium casserole dishes and put one in the freezer for later.)  Top with remaining grated cheese and breadcrumbs.  Cook for 20 minutes, or until warm and bubbly in the center.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Full of Thanks

This year I have oh so much to be thankful for.
I am thankful for heated seats.
I am thankful for my new clarisonic mia and my newly clear complexion.
I am thankful for ravioli.  Bennett now eats a real supper.
I am thankful for my dvr, netflix and the time I have relaxing with Rocky after the baby goes to bed.
I am thankful that Rocky and I are both working.
I am thankful that we no longer have to travel for the holidays.
I am thankful that Bennett is sleeping through the night.
I am thankful for parents and sisters who are so eager and willing to help.
I am thankful for long-distance phone calls from fabulous friends.
I am thankful for new friends and reacquainted friends who understand unpredictable toddler schedules.
I am thankful for a healthy little boy.  We are so lucky.
I am thankful for my funny little dog who thinks he's at least one part human.
I am thankful for the teachers at Bennett's school who love him like their own.
I am thankful to be married to my best friend.
I am thankful that my mind, heart and soul is right where it needs to be right now.
I am thankful for the big things and the little things and all the in between things. 
Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Burnt Out

A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook the other day that had me intrigued, Why Millennial Women Are Burning Out At Work By 30.  Larissa Faw wrote a blog about women of my generation who are feeling stuck and overwhelmed and underappreciated.  "They excelled in everything throughout their childhood, are making significant progress climbing the corporate ladder, but now find themselves questioning their careers, relationships and wondering, Is this what life is really like?"

Other than growing up perfect and becoming a corporate superstar, I felt like the article spoke to me.  I worked my tail off in high school to get into a good college.  When I eventually set my sights on Washington, I made that happen too.  However, when I got there I was eating beans from a can, commuting in the pouring rain and found my desk job a bore.  That's right, I found the halls of Congress dull.  Egos were big.  People were mean.  And everyone my age spent every night at the bar asking each other "who do you work for."  But I had the job I had dreamed of.  It didn't make me happy and I felt stuck.

I think the day to day drudgery of bills and alarm clocks had me confused and feeling like Washington wasn't for me.  I started pining for Nashville.  Looking back, I think the real problem is for my whole life, I have always had goals and aspirations.  I worked hard to get where I wanted to go and now I'm here.  And apparently, I'm just burnt out.  Thankfully, because of a little article, I learned I'm not the only one. Judging from the comments, tweets and shares, it's an epidemic.

Spending an evening at home with Bennett reminds me that it's not all about climbing the ladder or a big paycheck or being featured in Forbes.  There are so many other aspects of my life that make me happy and keep me grounded.  Those nights at home with a fussy Bennett also remind me how grateful I am to have things that fulfill me outside of the home too.

Monday, November 14, 2011

What We've Been Up to

We've been to the doctor three times in two weeks and had several after-hour phone calls to the nurse.  There have been falls and band-aids and "incident reports" at daycare.  On top of the self-inflicted wounds, there have been a few wounds of the germ variety.  My once healthy baby has had his first fever last week.  It turned out he had an adverse reaction to a vaccine and his little self got a mini version of the mumps.  He wasn't contagious and his twenty-four hour fever and four days with the bumps were a small price to pay for a lifetime of immunity.  We were home-bound and I missed work.  It wasn't fun handling a fussy, sad baby.  But he actually let me cuddle with him.

Rocky and I went on a date on a Wednesday night.  Our babysitter is in high demand, so we were relegated to a weeknight, but that also meant we were able to try a new restaurant and not worry about waiting for a table.  We tried City House because I had heard lovely things about the Pork Belly Pizza and their house cocktails. I would have to say it was a winner.

Beyond the hot dates, another lovely part of living in Music is the music.  Shocker, I know!  My mom, dad and I got to attend the taping of the upcoming ABC Country Christmas special.  Faith Hill, Vince Gill, Martina McBride, Rascall Flats, Hootie, Kelly Pickler and a whole mess of second and third and tenth runners-up of American Idol were there.  Ooh, and Miss Piggy.  If each musical number didn't require third and fourth takes, it would have been a lovely free evening.  At least I got some holiday outfit inspiration from Jennifer Nettles.  I thought this one would really stand out at Midnight Mass.

I also came to the sad conclusion that all of my creative brainpower is being spent on keeping Bennett giggling.  There is little to spare for Flashback Friday these days.  While I will stop short of claiming that its on hiatus, it will be more of a sporadic rather than weekly occurrence.   I suppose I just lost all but one of my blog readers.  Mom, you're still there, right?

But don't hate me, I still have cute kid photos to share.  Let's all thank Mama Snyder for the cutest sweater of all time.  Rawr.
He's thrilled.
I am this many.

Happy Friday y'all!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Flashback Friday: Stealth Sister

It's that time of year again, my dad's birthday.  Last year I had a new baby as an excuse for failing at finding the perfect gift, so I wrote a wrapped a blog post in a shiny hat and called it a day.  

Shopping is a bit difficult when the recipient is that guy who needs nothing and buys himself that book/album/computer/car whenever the mood strikes.  Every holiday, anniversary and birthday is a stressful season as my we brainstorm gift ideas for weeks and months to choose the perfect present.  Keeping the final decision a secret is of utmost importance so that particular guy doesn't go and buy it for himself.  

Once upon a time, my mom, Mary and I went on a super stealth shopping trip.  We were going to buy my dad a bike.  It was pretty exciting for a seven-year-old and a three-year-old to be shopping for a grown-up bike.  We spent all night at the store asking the salesmen questions. My mom selected just the right one and gave us a speech about keeping such a special gift a secret.  

When we got home, my dad was peppering us with questions about our shopping excursion. Who, what, when, where, why.  "Did you buy me a present?"  I said, "I'm not supposed to tell." Mary leaned over and whispered to my dad, "Shh, don't tell, we bought you a bike!"  Because, of course she did.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

First Birthday Blues

I've come to learn that first birthday parties are more for the parents than the child. It's no wonder that the internets and magazines and blogs are full of birthday party extravaganzas with high chair decorations and petting zoos and specialty cakes. As first time parents, we earned this party as much as Bennett did. I had to feed him every-other-hour for the first three months of his life. We survived ten months of middle of the night waking. We have had worry and doubt and stress for twelve straight months and hopefully a lifetime more.
I tried to keep this all in mind when I started thinking about Bennett's birthday bash. He would have no recollection of the festivities so it didn't matter if I skimped on cupcakes or favors or entertainment. We just wanted to gather with family to mark the end of our first chapter and celebrate the life of one very well-loved little boy. Well, it's a good thing he won't remember a thing because let's just say there were a few hiccups along the way.
Things weren't looking good when I called three stores looking for balloons. Bennett's Mimi got in the car and drove to the other side of town to be at the party store when they opened. All of this because Bennett I needed balloons. They. Were. Out. Of. Helium. A party store! Out. of. helium! Sheesh. Both grandmas, grandpa, Auntie Mary and I spent some quality time filling balloons with the helium tank we bought. Oh yes we did.
When the house was sufficiently filled with latex, we were able to sit back and enjoy a laid back and lovely afternoon. Several members of Rocky's family, my parents and sister, drove a few hours to join us at the King family farm for comfort food and present opening. When we gathered around to watch Bennett get excited over the paper and the bows and the trash, he didn't even care to pay the presents any attention. The boy lost it. He didn't like all of the attention and we had to excuse ourselves from the festivities.
After regrouping we sang Happy Birthday and waited for him to dive into the cake. He hesitated. I prompted him with a taste of frosting. He was having nothing to do with it. He turned his head. He whimpered. He was turning down his first taste of sugar with a no thank you. Everyone blamed it on the fact I had made a low-sugar vanilla cake. Even a couple of hours later when we tried the strawberry cake we served the guests, it was a big, uh-uh, no way, how dare you try to give me cake. I'll just take a cracker please. It makes me wonder how he could possibly be my son.

This year has been a learning process and a constant reminder that very little of anything in life is in my control. Very little goes ahead as planned. Every child is different. Balloons or presents or cake cannot make a kid happy. But celebrating this child and this year was worth whatever curve ball he could throw my way. But he better learn to like cake.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Flashback Friday: First Year

We must have taken a thousand pictures this year of a certain little boy.  At first we were taking pictures of his first sneeze, his first bath, his first hiccup.  We wanted to document each time he wore an outfit of mine, or the shirt with a monkey, or that funny looking hat.  We're not flashing back very far, but it's worth a second look, and maybe a third, fourth and fifth.  Let the film load before hitting play, would ya?