Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ribs, Garden Fresh Pasta Salad & Corn on the Cob

None of these are really hard and fast "recipes" so I decided just to make this a "what we had for dinner" post! It was delicious and easy and great for a weeknight. Most of it you can do ahead of time and have ready to go with just a few finishing touches.

The ribs are from our Riverview Farms CSA and I put them on low in the crock pot with some salt, pepper, garlic salt a tiny bit of water and about 1/4 BBQ sauce drizzled over the top. They cooked for about 6 hours and were falling off the bone tender and delicious!

The garden pasta salad is so easy and sort of in between "traditional" pasta salad and a regular salad.

Garden Pasta Salad
Ingredients
2 cups uncooked rotini pasta
1 avocado, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
10 baby carrots, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
1/4 cup Italian Dressing (I used Kraft Free)

Directions
1. Cook noodles, allow to cool completely.
2. Add prepared vegetables to noodles, pour dressing over top and toss to combine evenly.

Variations: Add diced olives and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.


We're starting to phase gluten out of our diets, I think my son has been dealing with gluten sensitivities forever though we did have blood work done to test for celiacs and it was negative so I'm glad it's not a full blown allergy but I think it will be good for all of us. I've actually been reading a LOT about Paleo and am leaning towards that in the long term. We purged our pantry of about 80% of the prepared and packaged "things" but there is still some pastas and rice packages in there that we kept. All the junky/snacky stuff is gone now though. Kent had a hard time letting it go (atlhough he was a huge help pulling it all but I think the second thoughts hit when we were putting everything in the trunk to take to the local food pantry! :) ), but I found him some pretty fantastic paleo granola snack mixes that he likes which are a good alternative along with lots of fresh fruit and veggies. I've complained for a long time about how Kent eats and worried about him not making the "right" choices but I've kept ice cream in the freezer, chips and cake mixes in the pantry, etc. We never used them often, but they've always been there and I finally was ready to let it all go and "get back to basics" I guess! I want to focus on real food and really cut the processed stuff out in particular. It's going to take committment and some effort and proper planning for meals but I definitely think it's do-able and am hopeful we'll all feel good with the changes.

I've debated whether or not just to get rid of everything but don't feel like I'm quite "there" yet and know from previous experience with making diet changes that I need to be committed and ready to make a change if it's going to "stick".

In any event, we've been eating a lot more fresh fruit and vegetables lately and making good use of our meat CSA and local Farmer's Market Baskets! And I have discovered that despite the fact I keep thinking I don't like sweet potatoes I really do. :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kennesaw Mountain!


On Saturday I took Kent for an outing to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park - it was an absolutely GORGEOUS day to get out for a walk! We packed a little picnic lunch of tuna sandwiches, baby carrots, grapes, granola bars and water and headed out. We had to park in the overflow parking lot (not surprising, the main parking lot is pretty tiny and it was so pretty out!) and walk over to the picnic area at the park. We had to fight with a few bugs while we were eating - doesn't help that my tolerance/fear level for bees is probably higher than most (bad flash backs to getting stung on my tongue when I was little... yes, on my tongue - the dadgum thing landed on the end of my hot dog right before I bit into it and I didn't see it there!!). After fending off bees and enjoying our food Kent hauled the cooler and we went for a little walk. We found a trail opening right near the picnic area and decided to take that trail - we had NO idea how long it might be or where it would come out but who cared? It was nice out, and we had all afternoon and were feeling adventurous!

The walk was perfect. It ended up being a fairly short loop right back around to the picnic table area and took us about 40 minutes to walk at a moderate pace. It was blissfully quiet in the woods - ocassional animal noises and sounds but other than that just quiet. Just the sun filtering through the green leaves of the trees above our heads, the fresh air moving around us and peace. It was heavenly. Kent and I talked some, but a lot of the time we just enjoyed being out in the sunshine and fresh air surrounded by nature.

When we started getting closer to the exit point of the trail we could see a few buildings through the trees and started hearing road noise again and Kent decided he wanted to go back into the woods where it was quiet and peaceful and proceeded to explain to me how he was going to move out there - as long as he had electricity and internet he'd be fine!! Oi!!

I am thankful to have such beautiful places to visit and explore so close to home and can't wait to go again and find another trail to try out! There are many to choose from and next time we'll probably take a dog or two as well and let them enjoy all the new things to see and smell too.

I'm trying to help find active things we can all do together as a family that Kent will enjoy as well - I know I sure preferred hiking a trail to my evening treadmill walk/jog and so did Kent so that was a good start. He really likes taking his bike to the Silver Comet Trail as well, and we're lucky to have that so close by too!

I want to get out to the Chattahoochee Park Kenneth took me and Kent to ages ago but am not sure which entrance he took us too, so maybe when he's home for his visit I'll convince him to take me for the day. :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Catching Up...

I don't really feel like I have that much to say, but there has been a lot that's happened since my last update and I wanted to capture some of it!

Kent and I left for Washington state late on the evening of Thursday, March 29th. We arrived in Seattle around midnight on Friday morning. We got about 6 hours of sleep or so once we got back to my dad's house and then Kent and I headed off to Skagit Valley College in Mt. Vernon to meet up with my aunt Bobbi for a Young Author's Conference! It was something she was taking some of her homeschooled students too (she works at Stillaguamish Valley School which supports homeschooling families). Kent hit it off IMMEDIATELY with one of the boys from her school and they talked the entire time (too much - had to keep telling them to hush!) It was a great group for him to be around, he fit right in and it was wonderful to spend some time with Bobbi.

Most of the days are a bit of a blur, but I came home with 400 photographs of all of our get togethers and outings and time with family. I got to spend a lot of time with everyone and I am so grateful everyone made the time to fit us in. We even took my aunt Bobbi, Grandma, Grandpa, dad, my brother Jake and Kent for a family outing to the Space Needle and the Pacific Science Center which was really neat. It was cool to have such a mix! The "grown ups" were worn out by the time the Center closed at 5pm but my brother and I went to the Seattle Art Museum and met up with our sister, Kylie, when she was done with work and we all had a late night out "on the town"! :) One other really cool thing the three of us siblings did was a college tour day. Jake and Kylie have both been in school the past couple years for their AA degrees, they're both graduating in June and both have applied to different colleges to continue for their bachelors. Right now they're both at Cascadia, and Jake will be going to Evergreen in the fall and Kylie is waiting to hear back from the University of Washington (very, very anxiously waiting!! :) ). Since their schooling has been such a big part of their lives the past couple years and is about to be a big part of mine we decided to go visit all three schools and made a day of it! We went to Cascadia first, which is a pretty small community college - it is VERY environmentally conscious, disturbing the land it was built on as little as possible and re-using the timber that was cut down in benches, etc. inside the buildings. Then we went to the UW and OH MY GOSH. The buildings there are just breathtaking. I could have just stayed there all day and looked at them. They are HUGE and there is quite a mix of styles, but many of them look like huge stone castles. They are gorgeous and the landscaping is beautiful! Lots of beautiful flowering trees. We also grabbed lunch at a YUMMY vegan Thai restaurant in the U district... there are a lot of really cool unique "hole in the wall" type places to eat around there.

Next we hopped in the car and made the drive to Olympia to visit Evergreen College - home of "Speedy" the Geoduck (pronounced "gooey duck" for you non-Washingtonians! :) ) It was just beautiful there... the entire campus was (as carefully as possible it seems) plopped in the middle of a huge forest - enormous, tall green trees everywhere you look and it has a very natural feeling to it. The buildings look like huge cement barracks, very minimal and sturdy and they sort of "blend" into their scenery so as not to take away from the beauty of the trees around them. A COMPLETELY different feel to it than the UW, but such an interesting reflection on the different personalities of my siblings who chose them. We walked around Evergreen for quite awhile and I took tons of pictures in the woods and we went and had some delicious calzones before making the drive back. It was a busy, busy week away, full of a lot of activities and get togethers and I am so thankful for each moment with my family. I love them all so much and miss them all terribly being so far away. Kent really enjoyed this visit as well, he really liked having so much family around and getting to do some pretty fun things too. He seemed to really love it there - he thought the mountains were amazing. I had forgotten what it's like to have that beautiful view almost everywhere you look. They are just breathtaking. It was pretty cold most of the time, and I am not a fan of Washington weather, but I think it might just be worth the cold and wet again to get to be back around family and have those views!! :) I don't really think we'll ever move back to Washington but I put Kenneth's resume into Boeing - I figured it can't hurt since we don't know for sure whether or not we'll have to move for his job when the time comes after this committment ends later this year.

We came home early on Easter morning, Sunday April 8th, and Kent and I both crashed (although first we had to go next door and knock on the neighbor's door at 8:00am and ask for the key to our house since they'd locked the basement door when they were over caring for the dogs and we couldn't get in from the garage!!) I slept 'til about 1:00pm and had a rough time sleeping that night, it's taken a few days but I think we're both back on schedule by now. Kent has been suffering from bad allergy issues ever since we got back though, so that's been keeping him up at night poor kiddo! Hopefully it's just the adjustment to the weather changes and he'll be feeling better soon.

It's now been a full 2 months since I delivered and I am at that point where "GS amnesia" starts kicking in and I cannot really believe I carried them and delivered them and it was only a couple months ago! The amnesia starts hitting faster each time I think! :) I still think of them all often, but the actual experience of carrying the pregnancy and delivering babies fades and you're left with just the relationship you have or don't have with the family. I had a nice note from my FIM this morning and it was good to hear from her. Hopefully life is settling down for them now and they are getting the chance to enjoy their girls and life as a family.

So that is life at the moment! Back to work as of this past Monday, about 3 more weeks here. Looking forward to seeing my hubby in a few weeks and then it will be time for school! I'm sure April is going to fly by - the days at work seem to go faster than they did when I was on leave, and I felt like those days just passed me by in the blink of an eye! I think I have been thinking about the passage of time a lot lately - we've been in our house for 8 years now and that is just hard for me to comprehend or process! That's a big chunk of time especially for someone who never lived anywhere more than 3 years prior to this! I love our house and love that we got to go through the process of seeing it built and picking what we wanted, but I am also ready for a change. Ready for some more space, some property we can call our own and hopefully we'll start heading in that direction before too much more time passes. Most likely we'll just have to wait and see what job Kenneth might get after his current committement so we know if we're staying in Georgia or relocating and then we can decide about moving and what type of property to get next. There are so many great 5-10 acre horse farms not too far from where we are now - I have been looking at them online and it makes me antsy! :) I'm ready to have my own. Hopefully Kenneth will hear back from some of the jobs he's been applying to and we'll get some idea of the "what's next" in the next few months or so.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ode to a Dream (2007)

Ode to a Dream - 2007 (for Fiona S my first surro-baby)

A flit of light
A star streaking across the night sky
You danced with the cherubs for years
You sang with the angels and waited
Your parent's longed for you, ached for you, but you were still a dream

How does a dream come true?
It begins in the heart, the secret wish.
To hold you close, to smell your skin, to feel your eyelashes brush against a cheek.
The heart speaks the language of love so clearly; knows exactly what it wants, yearns for so deeply.
The emptiness that is felt when those whispered hopes go unanswered.
The quietness, missing your laughter, longing to meet you.
The quiet.
Hope is quiet, the heart still whispers, quietly.

To hope again!
To embrace the longing!
To find faith!
You are MEANT to be, I was meant to help you find your way.
I will never understand why I was chosen as the vessel, why I was allowed to witness the dream, born in the heart, become flesh.

You are love.
There is nothing about you not longed for, prayed for, hoped for, waited for.
Your cries, your giggles, your beauty.
You mean so much to so many.
Will you truly ever know?
Will you ever know that you are a true miracle and how blessed I am to have been a part of your beginnings?
You chose us, all of us, and we love you!

It is a mystery to me still.
The emotions of it all.
It is a journey of the heart, a trial of love.
It asks more from some than it does of others.
Gives more to some than it does to others.
How does it choose?
How do we know when it is right?
Why are some so lucky?
Why was I so blessed?
It is a mystery to me.

You created in me something I didn't know I could have, didn't know I was capable of.
I thought I was a loving person before you, but my heart has grown even more.
I cannot adequately express to you, to your parents, the depth of my feelings.
How honored I am, how totally smitten I am.

I could not be more proud to have been a part of you, a dream come true.
All it takes is one glimpse of your face and that never ending love comes rushing back to the surface and I am reliving the beautiful look of love and joy on your parent's face whey they first laid eyes on you.

This is an ode to a miracle, this is an ode to you Fiona.

********

I was cleaning out my desk this afternoon and came across a notebook where I had written down some "ramblings" after I delivered my first surro-baby. It's pretty cheesy and emotional but a sweet reminder of all those amazing feelings I had after her delivery too. I will forever be grateful to her parent's for all they did to make our whole experience together such an unforgettable and special one that I will always treasure!