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Living as friends or foes

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So I had this other blog post (on spirituality) all written and ready to go, and then I remembered that last night would be the presidential debate. I’m writing this before the debate has happened. I’m pretty sure that come Tuesday morning we’re all going to be wondering how this is all going to work out, and a blog post about spirituality would not necessarily resonate.

I’m not going to talk politics on this blog, and I really don’t want to talk politics at all right now. In the past, I have loved a good hashing out of ideas, but in our current state of affairs, I just want to throw up.

I get sick to my stomach thinking about where we are at as a country – both culturally and politically. Sure, we’ve got a lot of good going on, but there’s also a lot of pretty sad, embarrassing, and inexcusable things happening. And I just can’t take it.

My thoughts always go back to thinking about little Pookie and our little one on the way. How can I best equip my ladies to make it through this world we live in – with some grace, confidence, strength, compassion, and with love still left for themselves and those around them? I don’t know how I’m going to do it.

One thing I do know, is that I strongly feel that we are at where we are at as a country because we have chosen fear time and time again over love. Now, I totally get how hippy that sounds, but hear me out.

We are scared. We are scared of everything. We’re scared of people taking things away from us. We are afraid of looking ugly or being embarrassed. We are afraid of being the one “at fault.” We are afraid of change.

We are quick to blame and to point out other people’s faults, all while totally ignoring ourselves. We judge others harshly in order to justify our own beliefs and behaviors. We pull away, hold onto things too tightly, and forget the power we have to unite and do good.

We have forgotten our power to love. And what I mean by love is that wish for yourself and everyone else to be happy. I think some part of our society revels in people’s suffering. They don’t want to see people happy and thriving, especially if they are not.

But I think most of us would agree that peace is better than war. That trusting those around us is better than shutting them out. That loving yourself and your neighbor is a much better way to live – for us and for our children.

I just listened to this podcast by Tara Brach where she mentions a quote from Einstein that cuts right to heart of it. Einstein stated:

“I think the most important question facing humanity is, ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’ This is the first and most basic question all people must answer for themselves.

For if we decide that the universe is an unfriendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to achieve safety and power by creating bigger walls to keep out the unfriendliness and bigger weapons to destroy all that which is unfriendly and I believe that we are getting to a place where technology is powerful enough that we may either completely isolate or destroy ourselves as well in this process.
If we decide that the universe is neither friendly nor unfriendly and that God is essentially ‘playing dice with the universe’, then we are simply victims to the random toss of the dice and our lives have no real purpose or meaning.
But if we decide that the universe is a friendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to create tools and models for understanding that universe. Because power and safety will come through understanding its workings and its motives.
God does not play dice with the universe.”
 So I leave you with that today – a big question from Mr. E.
As we go forward, deciding who will represent our country, how we will conduct ourselves, what we will participate in as an individual and a society, and how we work toward change, maybe Einstein’s question will help us find some answers.
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Pinterest recipes I tried that weren’t epic fails

found-on

Last week was a sort of “food revolution” for me. I’ve been struggling to find recipes and make food that actually appeals to my appetite (I know how “first world problem” that sounds), but I have so many food aversions during pregnancy that I pretty much don’t like anything. I eat the same things over and over again.

Since I do all the meal planning and preparation these days, I’m sure this has been rough on everyone. Sorry, family.

Last week, I found myself on Pinterest doing a recipe searching marathon, and something happened. I started to…wait for it…get excited about food again! Maybe it was the beautiful pictures, or the new ways the food was presented, but I fell for it and made a whole list of Pinterest recipes I was going to make.

Anyone who’s tried stuff on Pinterest knows that some things end up being a gem of a find while others are complete disasters. You never know what you’re going to get!!

I tried out numerous recipes and decided to share the ones that ended up being worthwhile and something I’d make again. Before I jump in, a word of caution:

It’s great to be inspired by these recipes and man, they look so easy! The reality was that I got a little too excited and wanted to make like 15 new things. In order to make everything I found, I had to spend every spare moment preparing, making, and cooking food. I was living in the kitchen.

Sweet, Pookie’s asleep! Maybe I’ll check my email or watch an episode of a show – oh wait – I planned to make X for everyone’s lunches tomorrow. Back to the kitchen. Sigh.

It was a sure way to kill my food-excitment buzz.

So, I’ve learned my lesson and will now save all the cool looking recipes I find, but only make 1-3 new things the coming week. The goal is to keep things fresh without making me want to shoot myself.

So, here are the recipes I found on Pinterest that I’d make again:

Crockpot White Bean Chicken Chili

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This was a TOTAL winner! I loved it, Pookie loved it, Rob loved it. Since I’m not eating tomatoes, but love chili, this was a pretty exciting find! I subbed the small amount of tomato in the recipe for roasted red bell peppers (from a jar) and it turned out great. This recipe will definitely go into our regular rotation. It would also be an easy and tasty dinner to serve if you have company over. Highly recommend.

Tortilla Rollups

This is actually a Pinterest steal from a friend who served these at a get-together a couple weeks ago. It was a hit at the party and I immediately searched for it on Pinterest. I also confirmed with her that I had the correct recipe.

Notes: I made a couple with wheat wraps and some with white tortillas. My friend made hers with spinach wraps. I highly recommend the spinach wraps. They not only offered a nice pop of color, but the texture was better suited for this rollup. Once assembled, they have a sort shelf life, so plan to make them, refrigerate and then eat. Overnight is ok, but not much longer. I made about five wraps worth of rolls due to the amount of spread and vegetables the recipe called for. We couldn’t eat them all and they turned soggy. Yuck-o. So, if you’re having a party, make the full recipe. If you’re making them for yourself and your family, I’d say half the spread you make.

Zucchini and Corn Side Dish

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We love our veggies around here, but sometimes they get a little dull. Steamed broccoli again?? I was pretty stoked when I came across this vegetable side dish recipe. Yay for something new! Honestly, it was not really a win, but with a few changes, I’m willing to try it again and think it would be a winner.

The biggest issue was that the recipe calls for WAY too much lime. And I love me some lime. It also is too large of a recipe. When I make this again, I will half the recipe and start with a “splash” of lime and go from there. It’s got a lot of potential.

Parmesan Peas Side Dish

Ok, truth time. I got excited about this recipe and come time to make it, it was too much work in addition to the main dish I was making (baked fish). I decided instead to just saute the frozen peas in butter, garlic, and salt. They turned out super yummy. Not really the recipe at all, but maybe someday I’ll make the real thing. Until then, the quicker version will work just fine.

Apple and Peanut Butter Snack

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Snack time. Oh how I love and hate you. I’m thankful that everyone in my house is a healthy eater with a good appetite, but we all want snack time and I just don’t want to prepare another darn thing to eat! I’m already doing three meals a day!! So snack ends up being granola bars and chips.

I’ll give myself a pat on the back if I manage to break out the hummus, crackers, and carrots. Best mom ever.

But really, I don’t want to live in the kitchen, and preparing snack sometimes sends me over the edge. Enter: Pinterest Apple Slices with Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chips. Hellz yeah! I can get into this!

I made it and it was super easy, delicious, and on the healthy scale. The biggest note I have on this is that I recommend granny smith apples only. I used gala and it just was a little too sweet. The tartness of a granny smith would have been divine.

Flourless Blueberry Muffins

A big thumbs up from me, a thumbs down from Pookie, and a “meh” from Rob. I’m still including it because I liked it, so therefore I will make them again even if I’m the only one that eats them. I think the family didn’t like them because they didn’t have the texture and sweetness of regular muffins. My response? Yeah, because it’s a flourless muffin with no regular sugar. It’s better for you! They didn’t really care.

I’d say try this recipe out if you’re cool with the whole “I-can-still-make-baked-goods-without-flour” philosophy.

Breakfast Banana Split

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I fell in love the moment I laid eyes on it.

Maybe it was the beautiful photography, or the presentation, but I thought it was the tastiest looking thing I’d seen in seven months. And I don’t even like banana splits!

This is one of those Pinterest items that would be fun for a special brunch or sleepover. For a normal day, ain’t nobody got time to freeze the yogurt beforehand. You wake up, you’re hungry, you wanna eat.

I basically took this recipe as a way to add pep to the regular yogurt and granola routine. Put a sliced banana on the side, yogurt in the middle, granola and fruit on top, and “voila!” it’s not yogurt and granola, it’s a breakfast banana split! I’m a genius!!

Here’s the big downside with this: who actually owns banana split serving dishes? You? Not me. It’s hard to make a breakfast banana split look like one without the dish and I’m not about to go out and find them for this one little thing. So…I ended up using tupperware I had and had us use our imaginations. I’m recommending it none-the-less because it’s a super cute idea and it would be a fun presentation at a get-together with friends.

*****

Give these recipes a try and let me know what you think!! Have a great week! xoxoxo

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Getting through the dips

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This past week was a more challenging one. Rob is still on a demanding rotation and he was super busy. Pookie went about four days without really seeing him. He did sneak in one night as she was falling asleep to give her a kiss.

Pookie took the “lack of daddy time” pretty hard. Lots of emotions. Lots of meltdowns and testing in new ways. As you can imagine, this was not pleasant for me. The days started to blend together, the frustration started to build, all while the mundanity of it all was starting to get to me.

I was entering into what I call a dip “down” in the ebb and flow of life. Instead of my usual energy and focus, I felt unmotivated, lazy, tired, and a bit of dread.

Every evening after I got Pookie to bed, I would think back on how I spent the day – the same routine, the same toddler resistance, the same activities and chores, the same, the same – and I just felt an “ugh.”

And then I felt a bit of dread. “Oh good, I get to wakeup tomorrow and do it again!”

When I recognize that I’m in a dip, my first impulse is to fix it. I don’t want to feel like this. How do I stop feeling like this?? Fear and mild panic set in.

Then I start the stories: Things have been going so well. What’s wrong? I need to shake myself of this. What if I never feel motivated again? If I can’t handle this now, what’s it going to be like when things get harder?

Blah, blah, blah.

Trying to “fix it” only makes it worse.

After a couple days, I started to worry. What do I do to get back to my “happy place?”

This time around, I turned to some of my go-to’s for help. I made some time to do some extra stretching and light yoga. I took a few minutes to mediate. I diffused essential oils all day.

I also happened to run across a post from Elizabeth Gilbert where she talks about “going to the water” to uplift yourself.

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I remember people advising me to do that with Pookie when she was a baby. If babies are fussy and won’t calm down, give them a bath. I used this advice many times with Pookie.

So it made sense that this would work for adults too. And guess what? I live by the ocean! I planned to take Pookie to the beach the next day, but it rained. Big sad face.

Plus, even though the beach is really close (like REALLY close), it takes motivation to get myself and Pookie out there, and I had little motivation to run on.

So then I decided to take more showers.

All of this helped, but some weight lingered. The dip was not over.

About two days later, Rob got home around 8:30pm and I was able to chat with him for a few minutes while he ate dinner and got ready for bed. I filled him in on my current emotional state and struggles.

His response was spot on. He reminded me of a basic principle that we learned from our Buddhist teachers. One that is much easier to see when you’re on the outside looking in and not in the thick of it. He asked me:

“How about just acknowledging how you feel and leaving it at that? Don’t try to change it or fix it.”

Holy sh*t.

It’s so simple, but so hard to remember in the moment. Once he said it, I recalled all the times I’ve heard teachers talk about this, and as strange as it sounds, it was very relieving. I started to feel a glimmer of hope.

I just said to myself, “This is what sadness feels like. I feel sad.” That’s it.

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The next day, I was able to be more present and felt even more lightness returning. I even decided to chill out and let Pookie watch two hours worth of Daniel Tiger. And you know what? It was awesome! She snuggled up against me (which she rarely does) and we just sat together, feeling the love.

While she watched, I researched meal options for the week. Food was starting to become a real burden for me because I had grown tired of our usual recipes and wasn’t really interested in most things. Pregnancy brings out a lot of food aversions for me rather than cravings. Everything sounds gross most of the time, unless it’s cereal or a bread product covered in almond butter.

I spent part of the time on Pinterest and found a few fun recipes that actually sparked some joy within my tummy. I started to get pumped to try these recipes out. I spent the second half of the Daniel Tiger marathon organizing the recipes into a meal calendar and planner, and making my grocery list.

I felt so accomplished and “up.” Plus, Pookie was sitting there smiling, just soaking up spending the time together. I think we both were emotionally exhausted from the week and we needed to just veg for a bit.

After that, we made english muffin pizzas together (previously planned, not a spontaneous Pinterest inspiration) and that was a nice way to finish out our day together. There were no meltdowns for the rest of the evening and we laughed more than we growled. Instead of the struggles and tears we had been experiencing the last several afternoons, this one was calm and fun.

And to our surprise, Rob walked in the door at *gasp* 5:30pm. Angels were heard. *la!!!!!*

So. It’s now a new week and this is Rob’s last week on his current rotation. The next rotation will have fewer hours, thank goodness.

I’m slowly rising from the dip and feeling my motivation return again.

It’s odd to think that we adults need the same thing as children – just acknowledgment. Just like how I acknowledge Pookie’s wants and feelings – but don’t need to always give her what she wants or change/fix her feelings – I need to do the same with myself.

Just a “this is what ____ feels like” and leave it there. No bigger story. Breathe it out and let the weight start to lift. <3

*****

First image: created by Amy Rakowczyk
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Hello Third Trimester!

30 weeks

Not sure how this is reality, but I’m now at 30 weeks. Only about two months to go!

I still have remind myself that I’m pregnant – usually when I think I can fit through a space that I normally could, only to find myself baby bump-butting someone. Sorry about that! Thought I could suck it in.

I can’t.

Or when I try to get out of bed or off the couch like a normal person, and things cease to work. Where are my abs? Where did my getting up muscles go?!?! They are gone!

Guess I’ll have to roll off. Watch out floor, here I come!! Weeeee!

As it was with Pookie, Baby #2 is sitting in my belly the same way (sideways) and now that the third trimester is here, I’m really starting to grow OUT. I’m also getting more uncomfortable and have pretty restless sleep. Baby #2 (who we’re affectionately calling Roberta Jr. for right now) has found her favorite spot in my uterus to dig in her little knees. Adorable, but not so pleasant for me.

“Oohhh, I can feel her little knees and feet! Ah, she’s so adora—OUCH!”

She’s starting to move downward from her sideways position, which is relieving, but now the kicks are going from my side to my ribs.

I’m also experiencing something new this time around – varicose veins. It’s gotten bad enough that I have to wear compression socks during the day and have my belly taped to relieve pressure. Varicose veins really stink, but to my surprise, I actually LOVE the socks and tape. The kinesthetic tape especially. I want to wrap my whole body in it. It’s glorious!!

For the socks, I chose “calf socks” because it’s just too darn hot to wear anything on my feet. I’m stylin’.

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I started going to the chiropractor about a month ago and that has helped tremendously. Prenatal chiropractic work is a thing (the certification method is called Webster) and seriously, I don’t think I could walk, sleep, or function normally without it. These people are like miracle-workers.

Overall though, I can’t really complain. I’m feeling pretty good despite a few rough days here and there. People have been asking a lot if Pookie is excited. Here’s where we’re at with that:

Pookie: “Pookie has baby sister?”
Me: “Yes, she’s growing in my belly.”

Pookie: “I grow baby sister in my belly?”
Me: “No baby in your belly. Just in mine.”

Pookie: “Daddy has baby sister in belly?”
Me: “Nope. I’m the only one growing baby sister. She’s your baby sister, and she’ll be daddy and I’s daugther.”
Pookie: “Pookie has daughter in belly.” (nods with understanding and pats her belly)

And around we go…

Excited? Confused? Somewhere in between.

Pookie starts back to school this week, so I’m pretty excited to have a few kid-free hours to myself a few mornings a week. I plan to take full advantage of resting while I can! I’m totally not ashamed to nap the entire three hours Pookie is at school. When will I have the chance to do that again? Possibly never. I will seize the moment, and nap it away! 😀

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Residency – two months in

Dinner with dad

Yesterday was a pretty exciting day at our house – Rob had the day off!! Say what?!?! Yes, my friends, it’s true.

He started a new rotation this week and it’s been a pretty rough schedule. He’s getting to work around 5am and getting off around 7pm (which most days, ends up being closer to 8pm or later). So both Pookie and I were pumped to have a whole day with him!

Working on the car

Pookie soaked up the daddy time helping Rob put washer fluid in the cars and showing off her splashing abilities in all the puddles. It was a rainy day, so there were plenty of puddles that needed toddler attention. 🙂

Puddles

Pookie also showed Rob her new routine which included requesting “loud music” and running circles around our ottomans yelling, “Running music!” She averages about 30-50 laps. Rob and I just smiled at each other. Our little creation is so crazy and adorable. *Swoon*

So how are things overall for us? Surprisingly, really good.

Rob’s first month of residency was a cake walk compared to most. It was a month-long orientation that was a Monday-Friday, 8-5 deal. Weekends off. No call. It was glorious.

His second rotation was when things got real. The first two weeks he worked nights 5pm-7am with one day off per week. Surprisingly, that schedule worked well for us because he was able to see Pookie for small chunks of time before he left for work and when he came home before going to bed. The next two weeks changed to dayshift, which was actually much harder.

He left before Pookie got up, and got home right at her bedtime. We started keeping her up a little late so she could get in about 10 minutes of facetime with him.

This week he started a new rotation. The hours have been even longer, so time with him is very short and he’s exhausted. Pookie can’t last until 9pm to see Rob when he gets home, so she’s really missing him. I had a baby appointment last week and we were able to sneak over to see Rob at work for about five minutes. It wasn’t a lot, but it was something!

Pookie had fun making friends and wrapping people around her finger. She also convinced everyone to give her their snacks. Such a silly little lady!

Doc visit

On the positive, Rob is loving his training. Some of the reasons that we were attracted to this particular program are showing up in the practice and with patient care. It’s very reassuring to know that the focus is where we were hoping it would be. Rob is learning a lot and feels very supported. We definitely feel more and more like we’ve landed in the right place!

As for me, Pookie has been on a break from school this past month, so it’s been a lot of “us” time. I must admit that I’m pretty excited to have school start back up so I have a few kid-free hours. She’ll go a couple days a week in the mornings, which I hope will be a good balance for us for the time being.

Now that I’m in my third trimester, I’m started to get more tired. I don’t have the same energy I had at the beginning of the summer. Pookie is needing more ways to be creative and spend her energy than I’m up for right now!

We’ve been finding entertainment however we can, but usually we go to the same places. Most days, the heat is too much for me, so we’ve been doing more indoor activities. We really like the library, the Galveston Children’s Museum and Sugar Bean cafe in Evia.

Playing

The mosquitos are also really bad right now and no matter what we do, they eat us alive! They will find any tiny patch of skin not covered in repellent. For example, we’ve been getting bit on our fingers and faces. I got bit on my eyelid. It’s serious business here! Since I’m still getting bit, and there’s the whole Zika thing, we’re staying indoors most of the time.

Work on the house has slowed considerably since Pookie has been out of school. I joke that we’re stuck at about 75% moved in. I have a little list of things I really want to get done before the baby arrives, so I plan to jump into those as soon as Pookie’s school starts back up.

So there you have it! Our lives right now are pretty much the Amy and Pookie show, with an occasional cameo from Rob. We’re keeping things simple, keeping expectations modest, and making things work. It’s strange to say, but I actually feel much more at peace and much more relieved right now than I have in awhile. Since I’m not working, I feel focused and relaxed, which I didn’t expect.

I’m actually most concerned about having this baby in a couple of months!! That’s going to make things very interesting!! But for now, we’re trucking along, trying to enjoy the moments instead of “waiting for things to be different or better.” This is life right now and we are finding the good however we can!

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