Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dirt: I Need A Fire Lit

This was a weekend full of great achievement, for my kids. I was the supportive mom that I always strive to be. Standing all day long, on the banks of a river to watch my daughter row. I literally saw her for less than 6  minutes total. Meanwhile, I made small talk, helped feed 100 hungry teenagers, cleaned up after teenagers and acted like I felt great.

I did not. In fact, I was running a fever all day long. My back hurt, my head hurt and feet probably stunk. I smiled and cheered and made small talk with a dozen other parents to cheer on our kids. Because that is what mothers do.

Friday, I drove across town twice to pick up my other daughter and deposit her at the drop off for her sleep away retreat. Youth Trust is a big deal, as it is a great community service  program sponsored by the YMCA. She was nominated by her teachers as a leader in her school. I was thrilled. Even though with a fever, headache, backache and the knowledge that I had a 5 am wake up call, I drove her across town instead of going home to bed.

I always joke that the #momlife twitter tag is women driving someone else, somewhere far to enjoy fun they are not going to enjoy themselves.  And if you are a mom with involved kids, you know that is exactly what #momlife is all about.

I decided when I got pregnant unexpectedly, that I would be the best mom I could be. I have taken that decision very seriously. But somehow the last year has become about work and kids and not about ME. Don't get me wrong, I have tons of fun. Steve and I have a great time going out. However, I am missing the nourishing of my soul.

This is not something I just realized. But it dawned on me today as I took my daughter shopping and bought her 3x the amount of clothes than I bought myself, I am not treating myself right. Not clothes or things you can buy, but I am not treating my creative side right. I read books and I work out (not in a week and a half). That is it. What am I going to do? Not sure. But I do know I need to do something quick before I dry up and become old.

That is all for now.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dirt: A rough week indeed

This week has been a rough one for my girlfriends. One friend lost her sister-in-law's father, who was a local news celebrity for decades. All over town, I have heard snippets of conversation about his passing. The service is being held in the baseball stadium. This loss must be so hard, being so public. My heart goes out the the family that must mourn publicly for days before they can say goodbye themselves.

The other is a much more private loss. My dear friend lost her older sister to a long battle with cancer. 10 years ago, Maureen found out she was pregnant and then that she had cancer. She has been brave, stubborn and at time successful in battling the cancer. Recently however, it came back with a vengeance. The oldest of three sisters, she had a great support system. Now they are relying on each other.

As one of three myself, I know that the other two are leaning hard on each other. Their faces will remind them of the missing piece. Their hearts will be always soft in that third spot and their stories will now have to be told extra for the one who is not there to reminisce to her children.

I did not know Maureen well. I do, however, know her parents well and they are two of the kindest and most generous people I know. Large personalities and large hearts for caring are what I think of when I think of Ann and Henri.  They raised three very awesome daughters, each unique and special in a different way. My heart hurts to imagine facing the loss of one of their precious daughters.

As a friend, I can only say the words in my heart and cry the tears on the phone with my friend. I can only call my own sisters and tell them I love them and that my world would be a dimmer place without them.  I can only look at my own children and hope that I don't have to leave them as teenagers to traverse the path to adulthood without a mother.

Rough week indeed.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cooking: Fall Break Camping

Last week I told Steve that I was going to make something new to eat each night. I was lucky in that we were going camping and I thought I could beg off Friday if I needed. I did beg off one night, Thursday, choosing to defrost chili from the weekend. To make up for it, I made a really delicious cast iron skillet of chili cheese cornbread with grits switched for corn meal. Yep, crunchy and moist!

The variety was really refreshing. I loved making new things and it inspired me to keep it up.

This weekend is fall break and I took Friday off so we could head out early to our campsite and get a good long hike in before dark. We borrowed nearly everything. (We have really awesome friends) and drove a couple of hours into the Georgia Cohutta Wilderness Preserve. The weather was really awesome, not too hot and not too cold. We set up our borrowed 8 man tent (really? 8?) and hit the trails.

Pre-hike dancing

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cooking: Lots of Photos Later...

 THIRD PLACE!  Not only was she in A boat, but they got third place in their 8 boat, beating out their local rivals and a national rival as well. Big stuff for a first varsity race.  The weather decided to agree after a 90 minute delay for what turned out to be nothing. This made for a long, long day for our rower who rowed what amounted to 12 miles up and down the river (two 5k races). Her four boat was all sophomores and we could not have been more proud of their 12th place finish (out of 20 teams).  The day really was one to remember.

The girls shared their boathouse with their brother school

Notice the girls in the corner and the boys...everywhere

These boys at one point were lined up asleep

Lots of moms making food...they need a lot of food

The girl corner

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dirt: A mom's gotta stress

Well, it is Thursday and I am already stressed about the weekend.

 My sweet older daughter, who is strong as an ox, found out yesterday she is rowing in the A boat at tomorrow's first head race. So proud of her and all the hard work she has put into crew.  A lot of early mornings (6:30 am) practicing on the river in the fog and a lot of trying hard to better herself. Three days a week she leaves at 7:20 pm.  and gets home at 8:20pm.  She is truly amazing to watch.

Last year's novice race...she is 4th blue shirt from the left

This weekend is the opening race of the season and she is wired! All I have to do is coordinate food for the team and watch. And hope for no rain, or thunder, or wind or....barges.

Not that hard! Still, I stress about my girl and how she will do and how that will make her feel. Basically, it's first born syndrome all over again.

I am just hoping her uni gets here in time. Great, one more thing to stress about.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Cooking:Great weekend before crew week

This weekend was one of those rare free weekends at Casa Swann. The girls spent the night out and after 7:30 crew practice, I gathered both and we headed home for some quick cleaning and recovery.

Then we headed to the 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival, which is a gift from famed fiddler Fletcher Bright to Chattanooga. We are so lucky to have such a great, fun event where families, hippies, old people and dogs all gather to enjoy the beauty of Chattanooga and music from the entire spectrum of bluegrass.

Steve and I went hiking after church to the land trust that is open once a month on Lookout Mountain. We had been there before,but not to hike and it was really beautiful.

A little afternoon shopping and a great dinner later, we were all ready for bed.

Wonderful weekend, perfect for our crazy week ahead.

Human built nest in the Lula Lake riverbed

Chattanooga Head Race Week Menu
  • Pinto beans and chicken burritos/ avocado salad
  • Homemade chicken noodle soup (per Ellie's request)/Freezer tomato eggplant soup
  • Baked spaghetti squash casserole/ kitchen sink salad 
  • Pork Ragu/ baked sweet potatoes/spinach casserole
  • chili
  • chili pie

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Whatever: No one behaves when I have a camera in hand

I am the family picture taker...that is not the same as photographer,which implies skill.

My subjects are often surly and annoying. They rarely behave, especially once I have said "behave".

Here is a classic example. Or 10.

Did not take this one, but still...

Please remember...these were taken at a memorial service. We were all actually very sad. However, the  deceased, my crazy, goofy and very wonderful  sister in law, would have approved. And participated. And encouraged.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Gratituesday: Lately

Gratituesday in a list:
  • Teenaged daughter who are kind, polite and free thinkers
  • Friends who text me randomly and don't mind when I do the same...                                             out of sight is not out of mind
  • Sisters who give me art for my birthday
  • Husband who still  grabs my butt 
  • A 10 year old car with no car payment (fingers crossed it keeps going)
  • My new Fitbit that has me getting up and moving around
  • Pure Barre...I love/hate it about 4 times a week. Stronger abs, harder challenges and cute tights
  • Hard lessons that I sometimes actually learn
  • My nephews, niece and brother-in-law who are still hanging in there after a long, long journey of watching my sister-in-law come unwound. Her memorial was last weekend.

Life is full of hard things. Death seems to be all around me lately. A friend's college son, my sister-in-law, two friends and my brother lost their fathers...we are all delicate creatures  and we are all called to lift one another up.  The little things are what makes life so much more bearable and in fact wonderful.

Cooking: Brown bear menu

Brown bear, brown bear...for some reason that childhood color learning book is in my head. Both of my girls learned their colors by reading that book, over and over and over again.

Sometimes that is what cooking dinner feels like. Over and over and over again. Still, we do it every night. I cooked three meals Monday night to get ready for the week and stock the freezer. Roasting the last tomatoes of the year along with eggplant, mushrooms and onions made a delicious sauce or soup. Tomato pie made its appearance.

Not really sure...

I am not ready for fall. But chili and a s'more might be nice this weekend.

Brown Bear Casa Swann Menu
  • Hamburgers/black bean no soy burger
  • Tomato pie and mustard baked chicken thighs
  • Cooking light fall pork tenderloin, roasted seasoned sweet potatoes, kitchen sink salad
  • Spaghetti Squash with tomatoes and feta, left over pork, chicken and whatever meat
  • Three Sisters Bluegrass and McCallie/Baylor game (GO BLUE!)

I will share the pork tenderloin recipe once I dig it up again. It is my go to for cooking tenderloin, as it smells amazing, is easy and my family loves it. Win/Win!