Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Finding New

Another day with my girls.  Stay-at-home mom is harder than I thought it was going to be.  Always the first question of the day: what's for breakfast?  Then: what's for lunch? Then: what's for dinner? I feel like my life is a flurry of meals and dishes, with brief intermissions for stories, lego building and more stories.  I get bored.  There is so much to do, but everyday blurs into another and I need something new.  

Today we got it.  I spent a few moments last week searching desperately for something new to do, a way to fill our time that doesn't involve food or chores or reading Olivia for the 5,000th time!  Today we made it out of the house at the crack of 10:45 and went to the Children's Museum where there was a free (!) activity: Toddler Tae Kwon Do. Anna, in the way that is entirely Anna, stared wide-eyed at the other toddlers for the entire 20 minute class and at the end took off her shoes and ran to give the instructor a high-five.  That's my girl.  

The museum cleared out after this and Anna spent the next hour exploring every exhibit with rapture since there were no other kids around to knock her out of the way or intimidate her.  I was proud watching her go to each exhibit and figure out what to do.  She didn't need nor want me to interact.  So, I just watched, with Claire snug on my chest dozing and nursing and pressing her heart against mine.  

We needed this day.  We needed a change, to step out of our routine and into a day filled with exploring and eyes anew.  Let's do this again.  Let's make new happen on a weekly basis.  The dishes can wait.


This is my first link up with Just Write, an exercise in free writing which was started by Heather at Extraordinary Ordinary.  I hope to make this a weekly occurrence (because I just had a blast writing this).  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Heart in Two Places

“I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.”

-John Steinbeck

My heart is both heavy with loss, and light with new beginnings.

The loss is heavy...it is the loss of everything I have known so intimately for almost a dozen years; most of my adult life. Heavy with the loss of family and friends that are currently in arms reach.  Heavy with the loss of community, familiarity, and love, so much love.

The lightness is in anticipation of new adventures, a new set of family and friends within arms reach, exploring new communities, and love, so much love.

We are losing so much.  We are gaining so much.  And all of it is so painful and so beautiful.  My heart is constantly wrenching between anguish and joy.

We are moving.

We are leaving the place where we met, where we fell in love, where we had our babies, where we made our home together.  We are leaving the place where Grandma and Grandpa's arms are just a short drive away.  We are leaving my best girlfriend in the world, who was there for both my babies' births and just plain there for me always. We are leaving the place where our friends are so familiar, trustworthy and loving that I can think of them only as family.

We are heading to a place that is equally full of love, familiarity and family.  We are heading back to the town I was raised in, heading back to my roots.  And, in a way, Mace's roots too.  He was born in Minnesota, although he hasn't lived there since he was five, but some of his family is there too and well, roots are roots.

One place is not better than the other, and that is what is so hard to explain to the people we are leaving behind. We've discovered though, after Claire was born, that having two kids and not having family in the immediate vicinity is hard.  Really hard.  So, we are moving toward an area that is more densely populated with our family.  A decision that was gut-wrenchingly hard to come to in so many ways, and easy and obvious in other ways.

On a deeply personal and emotional level this move is hard for me.  Montana is the place where I found myself, grew into myself, and finally fell in love with myself.  Leaving the place that has so profoundly impacted my inner-self is scary.  What if I lose that part of myself I worked a dozen years to gain?  I know that statement is oozing with silliness, but my roots have grown firmly here as well.  I am who I am today because of Missoula. The mountains have been more than just a backdrop all these years.  They've been a spiritual presence, they've been peacefulness, they have brought me fitness and health and clear mindedness. I am who I am because of the people here...Mace, my daughters, my in-laws and my friends.  And so much of that daily equation will be taken away in our move.

I imagine those holes will be patched over time and I know everything and everyone waiting for us in Minnesota will help ease these losses...

We are going to be living across the driveway from my parents.  Anna will be over the moon to see her Poppy and Gammy everyday, and after living away for so long this will be the perfect way to make up for lost time.

This will be the first time in a dozen years that me and all of my siblings will be living in the same place.  We are excited out of our minds to be so close to each other.  Sister sleepover? BAM!  Sibling dinner party?  DONE!

Anna and Claire's relationships with their cousins will be so cool to witness.  They have fun when they are together now and play as only little girls can play.  As they grow older this will only change into a solid, beautiful support for one another.

We have friends anxiously waiting our arrival.  Friends that we have worked so hard to stay in touch with over the years and that we are excited to fall back in step with.  The kind of friends that even if you don't talk for six months, you can pick up where you left off.

A bigger city and bigger population brings more opportunity.  I am looking forward to stepping toward some sort of culinary career and having the freedom and time to explore this.  We are excited to try new restaurants, wineries and breweries.  We are excited to explore new parks, new trails and new campsites.  The newness of it all is very appealing.

I cannot measure if one is a bigger loss or a greater gain, but the thing that's made leaving easier is knowing that we will always be back.  We will always have a Montana connection.  Our family is here, our friends are here, and a large part of our hearts will always be here.  How could it not?  So much has happened here and there's no way to leave such a large part of our story behind and never look back.  Oh no.  We will always come back to Montana for those long summer nights to bask with our loved ones.  And for those short winter days to ski in the quiet of the mountains and sit by the fire at night.  And to soak up the peace and the unending love and the people and all that Montana has given to us.  And always, we will walk with Montana resting snug against our hearts until we can return again, and again.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tomato Basil Soup with Chicken

I have finally made it back to my pre-Claire weight (although all my clothes don't fit yet, hmm...), and I must thank Weight Watchers (and to be honest here, breastfeeding) for this occasion.  And recipes like this one.  I have an old Weight Watchers cookbook that contains 20 minute or less recipes...and they actually are!  These recipes are delicious, super-quick and have made it almost effortless to lose the baby weight.  Plus, since I don't have a ton of time to spend in the kitchen these days, these quickie meals have been a savior in our household recently.

This recipe called for turkey originally but I substituted deli chicken sliced about a half inch thick, and it was delicious.  This could also easily be made vegetarian by omitting the chicken and swapping the chicken broth for veggie broth.  Make sure to get fire-roasted tomatoes which add a little bit of a smoky flavor.  I amped up the smoky flavor by adding a little smoke paprika...divine!

Mace isn't always excited when I make soup for dinner, but he slurped this one up and had seconds.  As my friend Hope would say, this one is a Weekday Winner!

Tomato Basil Soup with Chicken

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
4 cups chicken broth
28 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
1/2 pound deli chicken sliced 1/2" thick, cubed
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium-high.  Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about five minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper and paprika if using.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for five minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.  Add the chicken and milk and simmer an additional 3 minutes, or until heated through.  Stir in the basil and then...


And because I know the nutrition facts via the cookbook, and like to know them when possible, here they are. You're welcome!

Serving Size: 2 cups
Calories: 200
Fat: 4g
Carbohydrates: 21g
Dietary Fiber: 3g
Protein: 20g