Monday, January 24, 2011

Ode to My Thirties

Good bye to my 30's!  You were AWESOME, so much cooler than my 20's!  Don't get me wrong, my 20's gave me a college education and the absolute LOVE of my life, both of which I'm thankful for each and every day, but it wasn't until I met you that I truly hit my stride.

Right off the bat, you gave me the most amazing gift of all, the gift of motherhood!  It's funny, I spent my whole life swearing off motherhood, but 6 days after my 31st birthday I met my Monkey Man and it was all over!  I knew at that moment that this would be the greatest adventure of my life and I embraced it with every fiber of my being!

Four years later I welcomed the Fiery One, and although at this point you had armed me with a bit of motherly know-how, you slapped me square in the face with a hard reality.  Everything I thought I knew about parenting didn't mean DICK with the second child!

Once she arrived you showed me a GREAT deal about patience and boy, have I ever needed it!  But more importantly, you taught me how to laugh.

Because honestly, it's a very thin line between laughter and utter breakdown and like the song says, "It's better to laugh than cry!" You taught me more about self-sacrifice than I ever really wanted to know, but at the same time gave me the wisdom to see that everything I have sacrificed for them has been worth it 100-fold!  In the end, they will be my greatest accomplishment!

You gave me a sense of purpose and level of confidence that my 20's never could and it was beyond liberating!  But you gave me that confidence with a level of self-control that I didn't possess in my 20's to keep me out of trouble and I thank you for that!  You helped me see that it was pretty cool to be ME.  You showed me that it was OK to be proud of my accomplishments, even if the only thing I accomplished that day was a load of laundry!  And seriously, you have to be proud of yourself because at the end of the day, nobody else really has the time to give a shit and if you have to wait for the validation of others, you're gonna end up disappointed and sad!

You helped me embrace my body!  Although I had an amazing physique through my teens and 20's, I was too stupid and too self-conscious to know it!  It's probably for the best as I could have been wicked dangerous otherwise, but it wasn't until I gave birth to two kids that I realized that this was it.  This was the only body I would ever have and I might as well enjoy it!  So I adorned it with artwork that celebrated my life, the life of my two kids and the memory of the two that never came.
Who cares if my boobs are too small or my hair is too damn frizzy or my thighs have cellulite?  I'm healthy, I'm happy and thankfully my husband is an ass man!  ;)

You taught me that every day counts, it sounds totally cliche' but it's true.  Time is fleeting and sadly, children grow up in the blink of an eye!  Thankfully, during this last decade I embraced the media available to me to help me remember.  I write and I take photographs of EVERYTHING!  I'm sure I drive my kids and family crazy, but someday they will be able to look back on my journals and blogs and photo albums and remember all of the fun, stupid, silly, ridiculous times we had together.  And no matter how mundane my day is, I try to look back and remember one amazing thing that happened, whether it was a horrible knock-knock joke told to me by a zealous 4 y.o., or witnessing my 8 y.o. work his first long division problem or even something as simple as watching a butterfly flit through the garden, it all matters, it's all important and it's what LIFE is all about.

All of this being said, I can't say my 30's were perfect.  You showed me a level of loss that I had never experienced before and rocked my foundation.  You introduced me to my mortality and forced me to shake hands with it.  You rubbed my nose in humility more than once and you gave me more wrinkles, gray hair and cellulite than I ever hoped to have!  You also showed me that I really can't do squat about any of it, bugger all!  So damn it, I'm gonna own these wrinkles, I earned them!  And the gray hair?  As long as my follicles will take hair color and I can lift that bottle to my head, I will battle those until I'm 80!  I'm going to appreciate EVERY single day!  I'm going to hug my kids and play with them EVERY day!  I'm going to scratch the ears of two little pipsqueak dogs EVERY day!  And I'm going to tell Big Daddy that I love him EVERY day!!!

So here's to my 30's!  I raise a glass in your honor!

 It's been an amazing ride and I thank you for everything you have taught me and for the woman that I am today!  I will never, EVER forget you!  Now I believe I see your sister coming down the road, I know she's been traveling for a long time and I should prepare to meet her.

To be continued...

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Year's in New Mexico

I haven't done winter in New Mexico in YEARS!  But this year my mom-in-law decided she needed one last hoorah before going under the knife for a knee replacement.  So we packed up the kids and the punky, little dogs and headed to the mountains!

You have to understand, the trip to Ruidoso is about 10 hours, so if anything goes amiss, it's a real pain in the butt.  Luckily for us, the trip was pretty smooth!  The sweet little doggies were GOOD travelers!

Aren't they sweet?!?!  The kids did pretty well too.  There was some whining, an occasional grump and a serious onslaught of "Are we there yet?"  "Are we there yet?"  and "How much longer 'til we get there?"  But once I started replying, "No we're not there yet and we won't be for another 6 days!"  They finally chilled out.

First stop was Roswell.  Every time I go to the mountains, I take the time to stop in and visit my grandmother who, in case you were wondering, turned 94 years young this year!  She is a hoot!  She is feisty and crass and can tell you dirty jokes that would make you blush!  I took the opportunity to get some good photos of her with the kids, with me and just by herself.  She is awesome and I absolutely adore her!  I can only hope to be as cool as she is when I'm 94!
Well, one thing I can tell you about that part of New Mexico in winter... it is COLD!  When we woke up Sunday morning in Roswell it was 16*F with winds blowing!  My two little dogs damn near froze to death going out to pee!  You see there is nothing to block the wind in the plains and it seems 20* colder than it actually is!  We were definitely ready to head to the mountains where there was snow, but warmer temps and less wind!

As soon as we arrived and got unloaded the kids just HAD to put on the heavy coats and gloves and get in the snow!  Who can blame them?  Poor little kids have only seen snow a handful of times!  We bundled the dogs up too, yes, coats for my poor nekkid canines!  Here's the Monkey Man rescuing poor Roddy Ringo from the frigid snow!  Nigel, on the other hand, was totally game!
 Sadly, this snow was NOT snowman-making snow, nor was it snowball-making snow, so there was some serious disappointment there, BUT it was perfect for snow angels...
and SLEDDING!  We had a pretty good slope going in front of the house and things were going great, until the Monkey Man went a little too fast and zinged out in the road right in front of pick-up truck!  I think I am still recovering from that particular adrenaline rush!  But that didn't stop us, we determined quickly that the neighbor's house had a GREAT slope, plenty of room and no one was there!  We had a blast!

Upon arriving to the cabin, we became aware that the telephone was not working, which is a problem since there is NO cell phone service in the canyon!  So we started looking through the house, to see if we had an old phone lying around to make due.  And sure enough, we came across a big, black dinosaur of a rotary phone!  The kids had never seen one before, much less used one and it was so funny to watch as they were tethered to the phone, not able to walk and pace around!  Not to mention the fact that the Monkey Man didn't realize that the buttons on top of the phone will hang up the call.  He accidentally hung up on folks quite a bit!  Here's the Piggy giving it a test run!

We made a new friend!  Her name is Daisy and my kids were SO in love!
This poor, little dog was followed, picked up, snuggled, kissed, and hugged practically to death.  We hope she didn't mind too much!  We did our best to keep the Pipsqueak Boys warm and toasty.  You can tell that they lead such a hard life! 
But my absolute favorite part of this visit was the amazing wild animals that graced us with their presence!  One morning, while doing the breakfast dishes, I looked out the kitchen window to see these guys walking through our backyard!  And by all means, click on the photo to get a better look!

Now I've certainly seen elk around Ruidoso before, but this was the first time I ever saw them in town and on our property!  I grabbed the camera and headed up the hill after them, keeping a reasonable distance and large trees between us at all times.  I'm not stupid and would prefer not to get gored by a pissed off elk!  They were HUGE and gorgeous and thoroughly majestic in every way.  I felt so lucky to just share space with them for a short time!  Totally awesome!

We had plenty of deer stop by as well!  I recognized some of the females from our visit in the summer, but the babes had gotten bigger!  They all looked plump, their fur was thick and clean and they seemed well-fed and healthy which always makes me happy!

Here's one of the sweet babes!  Seriously, this little guy just oozes cute!
 It's time for your close-up my deer!

You talkin' to me?
Another sweet little deer!
I really do just love these guys!

They each have such different personalities.  Some are skittish, some are totally brave, others are kind of punks, some are timid and mellow.  And this my friends is why I love our little cabin in Ruidoso SO much!  I can't think of a better place to spend time with my family! 

It was a wonderful trip, full of family, friends, good food, lots of games, naps and snuggly blankets.  The only downside was a sickly little Piglet the last 2 days we were there.  I guess too much time sledding in the snow and cold was just too much for her "delicate" Texas disposition!  But we made it home, we had a great time and we're counting the days until we go back!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Raspberry Tartletts

And no, we're not talking about a band of 6th-grade hussies dressed like Britney Spears!  This is one of those recipes that eluded my attention for years!  A friend of mine, an anesthesiologist at Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, used to bring these little lovelies to work on occasion to share.  She and her daughter would make them and I could have just eaten the whole plate!  They remind me very much of my favorite jam-filled shortbread cookies (which I have yet to master).  Anyway, I was searching for something to bake, as it's been cold in the house and I was looking for an excuse to have the oven on.  I was tired of chocolate chip cookies and banana bread so I started rifling through old handwritten recipes and came across this one!  So without further ado...

Raspberry Tartletts from Angela K.
(the EASIEST recipe you'll ever see!)

What you will need:
1/2 c butter
6 oz. cream cheese
2 c flour
raspberry jam

Oven set to 350*F

For the crust:
Mix butter, cream cheese and flour either in your Cuisinart or by hand.  Roll the dough into small balls and drop into an ungreased mini muffin tin.  Take any object you can find (I used the butt end of an IKEA ice cream scoop) and press the dough down forming a little well for the jam.  Cook the crusts for about 15 minutes, then remove, add a dollop of jam into each tart.  Make sure to add enough to make it yummy, but not so much that it will spill over.  Pop them back into the oven for about another 10-15 min.  You want them to be lightly browned.  Cooking them for awhile first THEN adding the jam keeps the jam from completely evaporating.  Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!