Saturday, November 30, 2013

Being thankful

The holidays can be a time of joy and celebration. This year ours will be tempered by some sadness because we lost a dear member of the family.  But, struggles sometimes force us to reflect and remember happier times.

While the pain is fresh, we still have so many things to be thankful for this year. I wanted to make sure to put them out there in case another friend or family member wants to see, or need a reminder too.

So, as we head into the crush of holiday travel, shopping and celebrating remember to be thankful. Today’s top fifty includes important people, and some fun items too! Why not try making your own list? Happy Thanksgiving!

What I’m thankful for…
1.  Family
2.  Friends
3.  A warm, loving home
4.  Getting through the school feast without any food fights
5.  Our oldest saying she’s thankful for her family
6.  Listening to our kids reading books together
7.  Family get-togethers
8.  Getting through dinner without any food fights (Hey, it could happen.)
9.  Green bean casserole (Nearly any kind. If you ever invite us for Turkey Day, have extra on hand.)
10. Music (It’s okay to listen to holiday music now, right?)
11. Chocolate (A contributor to positive mental health any season J)
12. Holiday photos (Especially, when they’re finished. Let the signing and sending begin!)
13. Silly stuff
14. Pumpkin pie with a serious pile of whipped cream on top
15. Football
16. Really good coffee
17. Lights aglow
18. Clear skies and clear roads for all the travelers out there!
19. Nav systems and alternate routes for when the travel isn’t so nice
20. Shopping (Except for the crazy days.)
21. Hand-holding
22. Quiet moments, usually at the end of the day, when the kids are tucked in bed
23. Free shipping
24. Family fun and games
25. When cousins reunite
26. Movie nights
27. Takeout
28. Cookie making
29. Snuggling by the fire
30. Hot Cocoa (see also #11 Chocolate)
31. Dressing up
32. Dressing down
33. Downtime
34. Writing time
35. Vacation!
36. Reminiscing
37. Gluhwein
38. Snow covered trees
39. Playing in the snow
40. Hearing my grandma and her sisters sing (Will miss it so much.)
41. Holiday cards from family and friends
42. Fresh baked bread
43. Great books
44. Sharing stories
45. Great book covers
46. Great mysteries
47. Great comedies
48. Seeing my breath outside on days we can stay home and play
49. Holidays
50. Faith, hope and love

Lil' Pumpkin by K. Gibson

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Playing through the pain

Whenever my peers and I suffered through difficult tests, tryouts, performances and other such trials the words “suck it up” and “shake it off” came out of the mouths of our coaches and teachers frequently. I heard them more times than I care to detail here, but I’ve not forgotten.

I knew going into this venture there would be some highs and lows. By venture I mean fill in the blank—writing career, parenthood, life, you get the picture. I also knew it could lead to fun stuff such as back pain, eye strain, anxiety, saggy butt, carpal tunnel, etc. But, as I stop to write this amidst a major push to finish a novel, raise kids with my husband, freelance, maintain a household, be a good citizen of the world, etc., I am struggling.

I know it is time to push through the pain, but there is a good dose of heavy heart with each page I write and every moment I get with my beautiful family this week. I am not sad by the writing or the family, but because I don’t think my grandma will be around long enough to see the full potential of either.

She has been a huge supporter of my endeavors (and sympathizer of the struggles) to be a writer. I am a writer—at least she saw me practicing my craft and shared in the happiness as I became published. But, I hoped so hard this year she would be around to see her great-grandchildren at the holidays, and be around to read her grandchild's first book.

She loves books. I just thought it would be really great to share part of this with her, and I just don’t know if we’ll have the chance. We have so many wonderful memories, times we went to the library, times we surrounded ourselves with books and catalogs. She helped pass her love of books and learning on to my mom, who gave it to me, and my kids. Our children also get some from their dad’s side, thankfully.

So, while I’m saddened we may lose a dear member of our family, I know I need to be thankful. I am thankful. I am thankful for life, family, and so many things. But, I think it is important to recognize she may not hug the babies again, or read another great story, or even my story. And I need to let myself be sad for this for just a little bit. Maybe a miracle will bring her around, I believe it could happen, but if it doesn’t I know she would want us to celebrate her and share our love with others. In fact, I read stories about people making a wish come true for Batkid and the sweet sentiment of one woman interviewed for Humans of New York yesterday and it made me think of my grandma. 

While we all have problems, struggles and pain, spreading love and joy is an important message we could all use to hear.

I’ll grab some tissues, hug and kiss my sweetie and my kids as often as they’ll let me, get back to the work of publishing articles and book(s), and play through the pain. Whatever happens, I plan to encourage my family to spend more time having fun together, playing, sharing, goofing off, reading and celebrating life. These are gifts, cherish them. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tips for Getting Your Kid to Like Vegetables - Metro Parent

I got to interview Lisa McDowell, MS, RD, CSSD, manager of clinical nutrition at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor for this article. She is also a mom of two and the team sports nutritionist for the Detroit Red Wings so she knows how to encourage kids and adults to eat their veggies. It's worth a read. 

Check out the article link. The issue on stands also includes a list of top veggies you should try. Happy Munching!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Eggplant fries - Tasty!

I was making Chicken Parmesan. And no matter how many times I've made Chicken Parm there is always extra bread crumb mix leftover. So, I took the opportunity to use the extra breading I knew I'd have to make baked eggplant fries. (I'll say this more than once just to be safe - Make sure to dip the eggplant BEFORE the chicken, don't mix the two for safety reasons.)

Ever on the lookout for veggie recipes my family will eat, I'd come across two ideas similar to this, which is part of what inspired me to make these. Let's say they went over pretty well considering they were not made from potatoes, and they were not actually fried. They were delicious on their own, or dipped in a little marinara. Plus, they're easy. 

Buy an eggplant
Beat 2-3 eggs in a small to medium sized bowl
Mix 3/4 cup of flour with 1 tsp Kosher salt and dash of pepper in a separate bowl
Mix 3/4 cup of Panko breadcrumbs with about a 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese in yet another bowl (see why I made them right before the chicken parm? If I'm making that many dishes already, it's just smart. Just be sure to make the eggplant FIRST!)
Cut the top and bottom of the eggplant off
Slice into 1/2-inch strips
Coat the eggplant 'fries' in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs
Place on foil lined cookie sheet and bake at 425 until golden, about 18 minutes

Here is a yummy recipe from Giada De Laurentiis served with Basil Ketchup, and another with cornmeal and a pinch of cayenne here

These are the unadorned fries, right out of the oven and just turning golden brown. I'll definitely make them again!

Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo and more advice

I think up ideas. Lots of them. This month will be no exception. Today is the start of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, and I'm using my spare moments to complete a novel and prepare to market it. But, there's more going on here. The last couple days I've also juggled:

1.  Kids
2.  Home
3.  Laundry
4.  Bills
5.  Halloween costume alterations
6.  Lending moral support for pumpkin carving
7.  Toasting 15 pumpkin seeds, because that's about how many we managed to save from the gooey, stringy insides of this year's pumpkins 
8.  Writing and research for the next books in my series 
9.  Paperwork and submissions for art competitions and school fundraisers, and more. 

The point is, we all have a lot to balance. Whether you're struggling with a career decision, a difficult stage of raising kids, or something bigger, here's my advice: Make a list of what you hope to accomplish today. Go back over it and rank your top three. Do what you can to meet those goals today, and let the rest go. Just. Let. Go. 

Easier said than done, I know, but if you get one or two things done today you will feel a sense of accomplishment and inspired to move forward tomorrow. I'm taking this advice. I have to, or I'll crack before the time change hits Saturday/Sunday. 

If you needed extra motivation, or support: Here's a link to the Mayo Clinic stress management site, and a link to NaNoWriMo.  

Make it a great day!

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