Get This On Camera

We had fettuccine alfredo for dinner tonight, and Emma Grace asked Shane to help her with it. Somehow this resulted in him holding the fork up with a long noodle and Emma Grace opening her mouth underneath it. While feeding her this way Shane said, “This should be filmed.” My immediate reaction was, yes it should. We need to move to the table.

That’s correct we were eating dinner in the family room. Not only that, we were watching the TV. The Pacers vs. Hawks game 7 is what put us in front of the TV for dinner tonight. We are not all home every night, so we usually stress eating at the table together when we are here. We also love sports.

The point is that my first thought was, “we should capture this cute moment, but we can’t admit how not perfect we are in the process.” Instead of wanting to share the cuteness, I was concerned that people would judge the fact that Emma Grace and Shane were on the couch with a basketball game on during dinner. By the time I realized how ridiculous I was the moment was over, luckily she did the same thing for me later and we snapped this picture.

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I actually let Shane snap it thinking I would share this story on the blog. Once I saw the picture I reconsidered because you can see the messy shelf, not yet decorated open space and my deodorant sitting out. If people aren’t appalled enough by us watching basketball with our 2 year old during dinner then they will surely have a problem with what the house looks like.

I am posting this story and picture because that kind of thinking has to stop. It is good for us to have family dinner at the table and it is good for me to keep the house clean. It is not ok for me to not share life because of fear of judgment. There are many times that I think about asking someone over for a play date and then don’t because of what my house or yard looks like. There are times I don’t film Emma Grace because of the mess in the background. THIS IS RIDICULOUS THINKING.

Social media has helped us create a fake world. One where everyone we know love their life all of the time, is always perfectly dressed and only does Pinterest worthy projects with their children. Some days all of those things are true, but more days none of them are. If I only ever share the part that someone would repin then I am lying. If I only show pictures of Southern Living quality meals at my dining room table then I am adding to the lie that grilled cheese means I failed as a mom that day. I love to be inspired by other people’s awesome creation and I love to celebrate their accomplishments. I also want to know that every day doesn’t look like Pinterest. I am worthy of friendship, love and happiness even when my house hasn’t been vacuumed yet this week and I didn’t shower today. I don’t need to pretend that those days aren’t part of life.

So there you have it. Today we watched playoff basketball while we ate dinner and right now I am writing this blog post instead of putting my deodorant and mail away. My daughter had a blast, my husband thought I was the best wife ever and I didn’t even notice the mess till I saw it in a picture. Tomorrow I will make us all eat at the table and do some cleaning. I won’t be a better mother, wife or person then, but I will try to get a better picture.

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Here We Go Again

“Really? Did you plan this?” That was the response I received more often than not when I told people about baby number 2. It might seem a little rude, but let’s be honest I chose to tell the world that I didn’t want my child for the first 2 months of her life. I was not offended that people were a little confused or concerned when they learned I was doing it all over again. So I am going to go ahead and answer the questions that I keep getting.

Did we plan this? Kind of. Last time it took us almost a year to get pregnant. While I was calling my doctor to tell her I was pregnant the first time, she was calling me to inform me of some poor test results that may make getting pregnant difficult. Knowing it was likely to take us a long time again we thought we would stop preventing pregnancy. One month later I had a positive pregnancy test. Life is funny.

Am I happy? Yes, I am very happy. I have a daughter growing inside of me. That is amazing. Also, pregnancy makes me happy. I may not have enjoyed the newborn stage, but I LOVED pregnancy. I have struggled with anxiety in varying degrees my entire life. I am not a naturally balanced person. I am convinced that pregnancy hormones balance me out. In fact, Shane would tell you that if we only made decisions based on pregnancy we would have 10 kids. I am a calmer, happier, nicer person while pregnant.

Am I excited? Sometimes. I am excited to have another daughter. Emma Grace has stolen my heart. The first couple months were nothing like I imagined, in a bad way. Now being a mom to my 2 year old is better than I ever hoped. She is creative, energetic and joyful. Yesterday we spent an hour having a dance party to our Seussical pandora station. It was magical. I am so excited to have another one. I am sure she will be a completely different person, but I am also sure that she will bring new joys to my life just like her big sister.

Am I scared? I am terrified. Postpartum depression was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through, and I pushed a baby out with no drugs. I didn’t want my child. I didn’t want to get up. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I wanted to take back every choice I had made in the pervious year of my life. I wanted to get in the car and drive away. I don’t want to do that again. How could I possibly be a mom to baby girl and Emma Grace if I feel that way again? I am terrified.

Do I think it will be different? It might be. A lot will be different. My expectations are different. I no longer believe I will hold my baby and the world will stop in total perfection. I no longer think breastfeeding won’t hurt if I do it right. I no longer think that not sleeping won’t be a big deal. My situation will be different. I have friends who will stop by with coffee. I have a big neighborhood to take walks in. I have a beautiful two year old to remind me that one day the baby will sleep for more than 2 hours, smile, laugh and talk to me. Unfortunately it could still happen. Postpartum depression is largely a result of a hormonal imbalance and no sleep. People who have a history of depression and anxiety are more likely to struggle. No expectation or circumstance change can get rid of my crazy hormones. I can be in the perfect situation and still feel like I am drowning. I hope it doesn’t happen, but it could.

One thing I know will be the same is that I still have the same Savior. He still loves me and baby girl. He will not leave me or forsake me even if I deserve it. In fact, I always deserve it but He hasn’t left yet. I have no idea what this time around will be like. It could be better, but it could be worse. He knows exactly what is about to happen, and He knows how He will care for me. He knows how He will care for Shane, Emma Grace and baby girl. I pray that His plan for me is different this time around, but if it is not He will still be glorified and it will be beautiful.

Team Blue vs Team Pink

I know it has been FOREVER since I blogged.  I was going to start back up with my pregnancy weeks, but then I was so sick I could barely function.  Now I am feeling healthy and ready to be back.  What better way for this football loving mommy to start blogging again than to write about a Super Bowl party?  There is none, I’m sure of it 🙂

We hold a Super Bowl party every year, but this year was a special one.  We decided to do our gender reveal at our party.  We had a football field cake made for us to cut before the game and learn what gender the baby would be.  We decided to use our favorite team logos because this picture will be in our child’s baby book, so we thought it should be personal.

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By the way, this took very little self control on my part.  We took the gender envelope straight to the baker from the doctor.  Shane picked up the cake and hid the envelope while I was at work.  If it had been any other way, I would never have made it.

I tried to incorporate the football and gender reveal into our decorations.  I used pink and blue accents, pink and blue footballs, and some old wives tale predictors to decorate our mantle.   We let everyone vote on a Blue vs Pink Scoreboard with a name for the gender they were picking.

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The food was football themed.  I tried Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins (http://blog.hostthetoast.com/bc-skins/) and a football field dip with a homemade queso (http://www.macheesmo.com/2009/09/macheesmo-mud/).  It was all delicious!

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Clearly my sour cream piping is not pinterest worthy.  In my defense, it was the only thing keeping me from cutting the cake and learning the gender of my baby, so I may have been rushing.

I was excited to finally know for sure what we were having, but I was confident it was a boy.  This pregnancy has been very different from the first and I was convinced I was having a boy.  However, when we cut the cake we did not see a blue stripe in the middle…

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We were so shocked and excited to learn we are adding another girl to the family.

Pumpkin Pecan Yogurt

Thanksgiving.  What comes to mind when you think of that wonderful holiday?  For me it is the food, specifically stuffing and pie.  If you told me that I could have no turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn or even cinnamon roll breakfast (a family tradition), but I could still have stuffing and pie I would be ok with that.  Don’t get me wrong I love all of those delicious foods, but nothing compares to that stuffing straight out of the bird and pie.  I always have a big slice of pecan pie and a small slice of pumpkin pie.  My mom makes the best pecan pie in the whole world.  Due to my strike against processed food I never recreate her recipe, but I do allow myself to enjoy of the unhealthy greatness that is my mom’s pecan pie on Thanksgiving.

I have been determined to find ways to enjoy these flavors all season without gaining 20 pounds, and today I am sharing my first fall recipe of many to come.  It is a great breakfast that gives you the pumpkin/pecan/cinnamon flavors of Thanksgiving, without all of the refined flours and sugars involved in pie.  I give you Pumpkin Pecan Yogurt…

Pumpkin Pecan Yogurt

1/2 Cup Pecan Pieces

1TBSP Butter

2 TBSP Pure Maple Syrup

1 1/4 Tsp Cinnamon (separated)

1/4 Tsp Salt

1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt (we use full fat from a local creamery)

1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree

1/4 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Instructions: Toast Pecans for about 2 minutes in butter over medium heat.  When the pecans are toasted sprinkle 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp salt and mix to coat all pecans, then add maple syrup.  Stir the pecans to ensure they are all coated and cook for another minute.  Take the pecans off heat and let cool.  While the pecans are cooling mix yogurt, pumpkin, vanilla and remaining cinnamon in a bowl.  Separate into 3-4 bowls for serving and sprinkle pecans evenly over each bowl.

I hope you enjoy this yogurt as much as we did.   EGM ended up having 3 bowls (about 1 1/2 adult servings because her bowls are quite small).  I am always thrilled to find tasty and healthy dishes, and this sure is both.

Finding Time

Fall is my favorite time of the year.  Really September – January, not just fall.  Football, cool weather, holidays and pumpkin EVERYTHING make me 5 pounds heavier, but 5 times happier every year.  This year I looked forward to fall for an additional reason, I was excited to go back to work.  Working for an after school organization means I don’t work in the summer.  Teachers look forward to their summers, but my job is part time and I LOVE IT SO MUCH, so I prefer to not have summer.  In case I have never spelled it out on here, I work for a christian theater organization.  I teach classes and work on show teams, all while I get to point kids to Christ.  My hours are in the evenings and on weekends, so I get to stay home with Emma Grace.  If I had drawn up for you my perfect post baby job, this would have been it.  We are incredibly blessed.

Of course nothing is perfect, in this case the good mommy hours mean not good marriage hours.  Between class and rehearsal I am only home 2 week nights and one weekend day a week.  If we want to be committed to going to a Bible study and serving at church (which we do) then we lose another chunk of that time.  Maybe some of you see your spouse even less than that and have no problem, but with this schedule I miss my husband.

Shane and I set out to find a solution to allow us just a little more time together without taking away from my job or Emma Grace (though we do have date nights, don’t worry).  For the past week we have been getting up earlier in the morning, 30 minutes for him and an hour for me, so that we can spend some time together before he goes to work.  Half of the time is actually dedicated to us having our own time with the Lord.  We sit in the sun room, drink coffee and don’t even speak as we read the word, write some thoughts and pray.  I can’t believe how encouraging that time has been for us as a couple, even though we don’t speak to each other.  Just prioritizing the Lord TOGETHER and being awake without a baby is growing our marriage.  After that we get to eat breakfast together and chat without interruption.  A whole meal and conversation without one of us running in and out from work or EGM needing us has been magical.  I have no idea what we talk about, rarely anything important, but it is just us and that is what matters.

Is it hard to get out of bed at 6:30 instead of 7:30 for me?  Absolutely.  It feels like a sacrifice when the alarm goes off, but within 5 minutes it feels like a blessing and the only way to start my day.  I think that is true of almost anything  worthwhile, it takes effort but pays dividends well beyond what you put into it.  The Lord was so faithful to lay this idea on our hearts, and my relationship with Him has grown immensely through this time.  We have always heard about how hard marriage is, and sometimes that is very true.  Shane and I have never really felt that way, but we know that making time for each other now is important for the future of our marriage.  If you feel like you are missing your spouse I really encourage you to sit down and figure out an ‘us’ time that you aren’t taking advantage of right now.  You will not regret it.

Leftovers Tonight

As a child I HATED leftovers.  Fast forward to me as a wife/mother/real food on a budget convert and leftovers are a big deal in the McNamee house.  Delicious leftovers are key to sticking to a food budget.  Tonight I NAILED our leftover dinner.

In my opinion if it isn’t some kind of moist, saucy dish then it isn’t any good just reheated.  It has become my mission to repurpose leftovers, so we have new dishes using leftover food.  Sometimes the new dishes are edible but not great.  When I have a particular moment of culinary skill, the repurposing ends up even better than the original dish.  Tonight was one of those nights.

Last week my incredible and very generous mother not only watched Emma Grace while I worked for a week, but she bought and cooked a delicious salmon dinner.  Fortunately for us, she bought entirely too much salmon.  Tonight I made salmon cakes with our leftover salmon, and they were AMAZING.  I diced up some green onions and red pepper, chopped up some dill and parsley from my garden, added a little garlic and lemon juice and of course the binding/filling agents of egg and breadcrumbs.  IT WAS DELICIOUS.  I also created a little sauce with greek yogurt, sour cream, cider vinegar, green onion and lemon juice.  Shane and Emma Grace had their salmon cake as a sandwich with whole wheat bread from a local bakery.  I made two lettuce wraps with mine.  I now want to make more salmon just to do this with the leftovers.

If you are looking for ways to stretch your grocery dollars, I really suggest starting to be creative with your leftovers.  You save money, have fun in the kitchen and keep from wasting food.  If you are looking for ways to incorporate salmon due to it’s many health benefits, throw together some peppers, onions and herbs and make yourself some salmon cakes!

Man’s Best Friend

I know I posted last week about how wonderful it is to have an 18 month old.  I know I also promised to be more insightful with future posts.  However I left out the funniest thing about Emma Grace right now, and unfortuantely it doesn’t really provide any life lessons.  It is incredibly funny, adorable and ridiculous, so I am going to share…

It is clear that Emma Grace is unaware of the differences between herself and her pet. We aren’t sure if she thinks that she is a dog, or if she thinks Caroline is a human.  Firstly she has started to mix in barking with her every day speech.  She used to bark when we saw a dog either outside or in a book.  As time has gone on she has added barking in more and more often, but today she used it in a ‘sentence’.  (To be clear, Emma Grace doesn’t use actual sentences.  She babbles with a few actual words, but clearly thinks that she is speaking in full sentences.)  Today on the changing table she looked at me intently and said, “Daddy badaa lada baba WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF ahhhh Daddy.” I didn’t know how to respond to her very serious face.  Has anyone had this happen before?

Besides barking as if it was english, Emma Grace follows Caroline on all fours with her tongue out panting.  She does this at least twice a day.  It is actually one of her favorite activities.  Most adorablely, Emma Grace tries to have Caroline read her books.  NO, I don’t mean that she reads to Caroline.  Emma Grace follows Caroline holding out her book.  When Caroline stops Emma Grace sets the book in front of Caroline’s face.  When Caroline does not read the book Emma Grace gets upset.

So there you have it.  The best/funniest/most precious thing about our 18 month old Emma Grace.  From the time she could be a ‘dog person’ she was a ‘dog person’.  Now she seems to think that she is in fact a DOG/PERSON.

A Very Merry Half Birthday

Today is Emma Grace’s half birthday.  That’s right my beautiful little girl is 1.5 years old.  WHAT?  How did that happen?  Remember when I thought I wanted 4 children in 18 month intervals?  HA!  Clearly that girl didn’t have any children.  This girl is quite happy with her ONE child for the time being 🙂

ANYWAY, I thought I would write an update on my little 18 month old.

Emma Grace is growing like a weed.  She is consistently in the 90% percentile in height and 75% in weight, so she is huge.  It is incredible to see her as a little person and not a baby anymore.  She has a number of words, but still babbles a ton.  Babbling is our favorite.  She clearly thinks she is telling us something, but is saying nothing in actual english.  It is so cute.  My favorite is listening while she babbles to Shane over the monitor.  He says I am ‘spying’ on his daddy time, but it makes me fall even more in love with both of them.

Emma Grace is a MONKEY.  She climbs on and over EVERYTHING.  Her stength and flexibility is ridiculous.  I’m sure this is the case for every baby, but it still amazes me.  Speaking of monkeys, she loves monkeys.  She loves to say the monkey sound and act out “5 Little Monkeys Jumping on a Bed” whenever we read it to her.  Actually, she loves to read anything.  Emma Grace will read all morning with me.  Sometimes she starts turning pages before I am finished, but I love that she loves her books so much.

Emma Grace’s favorite place to visit is Short Pump Mall.  In general Emma Grace loves to be outside, and the mall is her favorite outdoor location.  She would throw every coin in the world into the fountain if she could.  Her favorite activity is to watch from the 2nd level.  She hasn’t quite realized that the people on the 1st level don’t see her waiving, but it doesn’t seem to change how happy it makes her.

One of the coolest things about Emma Grace is she plays by herself in the most amazing way.  One day she walked around with a ribbon and a stuffed dog for 15 minutes.  Every now and then she would stop, put the dog down, give it a kiss, and try to tie the ribbon around his neck.  When she couldn’t do it she would just pick the dog back up, walk around for a while and do it again.  Oh yeah and she talked to the dog as well, not just babbled, but actually barked at the dog.  I could have watched her for hours.  It was the most incredible, adorable, funniest thing I have ever seen.

Well I could go on for hours, but I’m sure most people stopped about 3 paragraphs ago when they realized I wasn’t going to share anything personal or profound.  I plan to start keeping up with this blog at least once a week.  Maybe next time it will be more interesting than babbling and mall visitting.

 

The Best 84 Minutes Yet

Did you know that Disney’s Beauty and the Beast only has an 8 out of 10 rating on IMDB?  I was unaware that Beauty and the Beast was even allowed to be rated.  Shouldn’t its greatness not be subject to usual ratings?  Beauty and the Beast is to movies what Jack Bauer is to federal agents, in a completely different league.  Maybe that is just what it is when it comes to Disney movies, but the point stands.  In only slightly related news…

Today I experienced the best 84 minutes of motherhood yet.  I am not exaggerating.  These 84 minutes were so blissful I had to Shane 30 minutes in to make sure he was on his way home to experience part of the goodness.  Today, for the first time in her 16+ month life, Emma Grace and I enjoyed Beauty and the Beast together.  Not only did we watch the entire movie, but we viewed it while snuggled in my bed with a snack.  THAT is the dream!  

You know the dream I am talking about right?  The one that every mother to be has and every mother of a newborn believes was a conspiracy lie by other moms to bring them down too.  Well I am here to tell you that it exists, it just takes a while to get there.  Snuggles, snacks and a full length Disney musical.  It has finally arrived.

Now she was only able to sit still because she didn’t nap and was exhausted.  She did spend 10 minutes in the middle playing in the corner of the room with 2 of my shoes.  Shane got home around that time, and she will do anything to be with Daddy so she got right back in bed for the rest of the movie.  Those details are not important.  The important thing is that sometimes being a mom is really hard.  Sometimes being a mom is really awesome.  Sometimes, when you are really lucky, being a mom is 84 minutes of Disney magic.

Freaky Friday (actually Saturday)

I don’t know if you are familiar with the movie Freaky Friday, but it is one of many movies about two people who switch bodies.  Usually the two people don’t like or appreciate each other (in Freaky Friday it is a mom and teenage daughter).  Of course once each character has to walked in the other person’s shoes he/she gains understanding and respect for the other.

I bring this movie up because for the past 3 Saturdays I have gone to work from 10-5, while Shane has stayed home with the little one.  I am choreographing for a local youth theater and we have all day rehearsal on Saturdays.  Shane and I are basically completely switching places.  It’s true that he works with 30 adults and I work with 80 8-13 year olds, but we both enjoy our jobs so I think it is a pretty good comparison.  I have always been very blessed by Shane’s respect for how hard it can be to stay at home.  He never questions if I don’t get a chore done, or if I say it’s a grilled cheese for dinner night because I just have no energy left to cook.  He comes home ready to help with (or completely take over) baby duties.  There is no kicking back in the recliner and reading the paper watching ESPN in the McNamee house.  Shane has never once complained about this set up.  However, sometimes I have felt guilty about it.

I was honestly curious what it was going to be like when we first switched places on a Saturday.  I was a little nervous Shane would think taking care of a one year old was a piece of cake, and it would show how lazy I truly am.  I was prepared to come home exhausted from work and realize that maybe I need to give Shane sometime without helping when he first gets home.  Well the complete opposite happened.  I was not nearly as exhausted after a day with 80 kids as I am after a day with my one year old.  On top of that when I got home Shane looked like he needed to go sleep for a full 24 hours to recover from the day he had.  I immediately scooped Emma Grace up and brought her to the kitchen to ‘help’ me cook dinner while Shane took a nap on the sofa.

I don’t share this story because I want everyone to go tell their husband that he has life easier.  Comparing your jobs like that is very dangerous.  You are each where God called you to be, and no matter where that is you will have rewards and challenges.  Part of the reason Shane and I both are so happy to take over when we get home from work is because we both love our jobs.  We both get to work with people we like in fields we love.  We are also blessed with jobs that give us plenty of time with our daughter.  Shane leaves at 5 almost every day and rarely works on weekends.  I only work at night and on Saturdays, so as far as Emma Grace can tell I am a stay at home mom.  If any of those many factors wouldn’t be the case this story may not be exactly the same.  However, the fact that we come home happy from work is not the point of the story.

I share this story because I want to encourage moms.   I want you to know that your job is very hard.  If you don’t finish all of your chores or don’t have a gourmet dinner on the table every night, it isn’t because you are lazy.  Pouring your every attention and energy into a small child is a lot.  It is also IMPORTANT.  Some days I feel like I did nothing all day because the house is a mess and we eat sandwiches for dinner.  These days make me feel like a terrible wife.  They make me feel like a bad mom.  They make me feel worthless.  Those are LIES from Satan.  I have a precious one year old, and God has called me to care for her.  It is not ‘doing nothing’ to read to, play with, take a walk with, make breakfast and lunch for, talk to, sing to,  and pray with Emma Grace.  She is a precious, beautiful human being.  Jesus didn’t die for my pretty house and perfect dinner.  Jesus died to save Emma Grace.  I think that means caring for her is very important, and it is certainly doing something.  Is it good for me to also care for our home and prepare healthy dinners?  Absolutely!  Is it good for me to think I completely wasted a day spent caring for my daughter because those things didn’t happen?  Absolutely not.  It is God who calls me to serve Him and my husband by working hard while at home.  It is Satan who whispers that my worth is found in how nice my family room looks.  So Moms, please don’t listen to those lies.  Some days it is all you can do to keep your child safe and fed, and that is BEAUTIFUL!