Category Archives: Parenting

Group 12 – Reunion Group, raw.honest.loved.

This is one of my favorite blogs out there! I was part of her project with my Nana a few years ago. There are few things more powerful. There are links at the bottom to the earlier groups. If you haven’t been following this DO IT! (With tissues)…

“Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. Yes, we are totally exposed …

Source: Group 12 – Reunion Group, raw.honest.loved.

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Easter Dinner

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Now, I don’t eat ham…I don’t like the texture (although I’ve always had a hard time explaining why), but I grew up in a family who usually did the traditional “Easter Ham” & I have a husband who gets pretty excited about about it as well. For me, Easter is about spring, egg hunts, flowers…chocolate-covered marshmallow bunnies (I’m not gonna lie!), and activities with the kids! I love dying eggs and watching their faces when they discover their baskets in the morning. Even my 17 yr old is excited to discover the T-shirt or comic book hiding among the eggs & treats in his basket (Mommy bunny always puts some non-edibles in the basket as well). Many years ago my mother started making a particular ham recipe that became a family classic. It is now the only one that is asked for in my home, my siblings’ homes, my in-laws have shared it with friends, my husband has been emailing around work…I figured the “cat’s out of the bag” I may as well share it with you all.


Our Easter Dinner consists of Mom’s Coke Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, & a Vegetable, this year I made Garlic Roasted Asparagus. We round it out with my Pineapple Upside-down Cake.

Ham thick side down in pot

Start by placing your Shank Half/Bone-in Ham, thick side down, into a pot on the stove top. Pour 2-liter of Coca-Cola Classic to cover entire Ham, use more if needed (cannot be diet, off-brand, or Pepsi or it doesn’t work the same). Cover with lid, bring to boil then simmer for at least 2 hours.

pour coke over ham

While the Ham is simmering in Coke, it’s a good time to use the oven to prepare the cake or other dessert. I’ve always been a fan of Pineapple Upside-down Cake. I try to do a lot of things from scratch, but given that I’m in the kitchen all day on the holidays anyway having a couple of cheats I think is alright! I use Duncan Hines Pineapple Supreme. If you look on the side of the box there is a skillet recipe; you do need to have a 12+ inch skillet that has an oven safe handle, but it is SO worth it! I’ll paste the link to the recipe on their website below along with the pic of my finished cake. This is my “go to” recipe! I love it. #duncanhinespineappleupsidedowncake

finish with your favorite Easter dessert. Ours is pineapple upside down cake

http://www.duncanhines.com/recipes/cakes/Duncan%20Hines%C2%AE/pineapple-upside-down-cake/

sprinkle with cloves, brown sugar, and molasses to taste

Now that your Ham has been cooking for 2-3 hours while you got your cake baked & out of the way…Pour the Ham & Coke into a strainer in the sink (be careful, the hot Coke-Cola is sticky & will burn badly if it splashes onto your face). Trim off fat. You can choose to leave the Ham whole or cut it off of the bone in chunks like I do (as pictured). If you leave it whole you must score it well to ensure that the flavors get through it. [I prefer it “chunked” for a couple of reasons. I think that it allows the pieces to all get good & crispy in the oven as well as making sure that the flavor gets all over them.] Sprinkle with cloves, brown sugar, & drizzle with molasses (to taste). Set aside.

Here’s one more “cheat” that I do…I admit that I haven’t yet successfully been able to make homemade, all from scratch, cheesy scalloped potatoes…so sad.  They are always either too greasy, the potatoes are too firm, or the sauce isn’t creamy enough for my liking, as I’m a perfectionist about such things…so, I cheat. I get boxed scalloped potatoes & I embellish them & jazz them up! For our family of 5, I usually use 2 boxes. I always use the “oven method” on the box. Follow all of the steps up to stirring in the potatoes…STOP! Add a small handful of shredded sharp cheddar (I get Tillamook extra sharp white cheddar, it’s awesome & a great price at Costco)  & 1 bunch (just shy of a cup chopped) green onion. Stir it up good then add the potatoes. Sprinkle a little more cheddar on the top (to get that nice crispy goodness) then bake as directed.  So much better than straight outta the box!

if you're gonna cheat, they're SO much better

While the potatoes are in the oven, clean asparagus under cool water. (To remove woody ends from the asparagus, gently bend the end of each spear until it snaps naturally.) Lay on a paper towel & pat dry as you can, you don’t want them to steam in the oven.

once dry spread single layer drizzle generously with olive oil then sprinkle with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and garlic

Next, spread the asparagus out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with sea or kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, & garlic (I use a little garlic mill, but you can use granulated as well). Finally, pop in the preheated 425-degree oven & roast the asparagus for about 10 minutes. The secret is for the oven to be very hot without the veggies getting overcooked & wimpy.

finished asparagus

Now that the asparagus is done, crank the oven temp up as hot as it will go (ours goes up to 550) & throw the ham in for 10 min (15 min if you left it whole), then rearrange the pieces, sprinkle more cloves, brown sugar, drizzle more molasses, & turn on the broiler on high. Set the timer for 7 minutes & go get the table set. (The broiler gets it good & crispy around the edges.)

after 10 minutes rotate sprinkle again cook another 10 repeat sprinkling again then broil on low for 5 if you want extra crispy

Dinner is done!

Dinner is served!


Coke Ham

  • 1  Shank Half/Bone-In Ham
  • 1  2 Liter Bottle Original Coke-Cola
  • Brown Sugar
  • Molasses
  • Cloves

Place Ham, thick side down, into pot on top of stove. Pour Coke-Cola over ham. Cover with lid, bring to boil. Simmer for 2-3 hours. When 2-3 hours have passed: Heat oven as hot as it will go (probably 550); Pour ham and Coke-Cola into strainer in sink; Transfer ham to an oven proof pan (either the entire ham or cut from bone & place in pan, but either way trim fat first; if whole ham in dish you must score it by cutting slashes all over it so the next ingredients will seep down inside); Sprinkle with cloves, brown sugar, & molasses (to taste); Put in oven for 15 minutes (If you cut the ham from the bone, you’ll need to cook 10 minutes in the oven then rotate pieces, add more cloves, brown sugar, & molasses, then cook another 7 minutes on broil to crisp it up.


Garlic Roasted Asparagus

  • 1 bunch Asparagus
  • 4-5 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt or Sea Salt, to Taste
  • Fresh Ground Pepper, to Taste
  • Ground Garlic, to Taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Clean asparagus under cool water. Remove woody ends from the asparagus by gently bending the end of each spear until it snaps naturally. Lay on a paper towel & pat dry as you can (you don’t want them to steam in the oven).  Next, spread the asparagus out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with sea or kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, & garlic (I use a little garlic mill, but you can use granulated as well). Finally, pop in the preheated oven & roast the asparagus for about 10 minutes. The secret is for the oven to be very hot without the veggies getting overcooked & wimpy.


Super Easy, Family Pleasing Chicken

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Do you ever have one of those moments where you are contemplating what you’re making for dinner at like 2 o’clock in the afternoon, then you remember seeing something in your inbox a couple of days before that you’re pretty sure you have all of the ingredients for?

You find it, it looks okay & you realize that with a few modifications you’re pretty sure everyone would like it.

If you’re lucky you’re right. If you were me this last week, you were amazed because they LOVED it so much I just made it again tonight. This time I took pictures for you all!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

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8 oz of French Dressing

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1 packet of onion soup mix

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A generous dusting of granulated garlic & a pinch or 2 of cayenne (more if your family likes things hot).

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8 oz of apricot preserves
(You could sub orange marmalade if you want it a little less sweet, but it’s not crazy sweet anyway…)

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Mix it up well & set aside.

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Fill a glass baking dish with chicken thighs & season liberally with salt & pepper. (I used about 10-11 boneless skinless chicken thighs). Then pour on the sauce & spread to cover the thighs evenly. Place into a preheated oven & cook for 60 min.

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When the timer goes off turn on the broiler to low for 8-10 min. This caramelizes the top just enough to make it awesome.

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And here we are! I served it with rice & salad the 1st night, peas the 2nd.
Leftovers heated up well too…this one was awesome!

Teens, the toddler, the hubby, & I all loved it & that is a rare occurrence!

Go love someone!
~Paige

SCOTUS decides the Hobby Lobby case: AKA #BoycottHobbyLobby

It’s days like this where the impulsive part of my brain says, “Grab the children & move to Canada! . . . NOW!!!”

Then I read the following statement from our UUA President, Rev. Peter Morales, & I remember something that I watched during one of our Sunday morning worship services at last weekend’s General Assembly (which I will paste at the end:

http://www.uua.org/news/pressroom/pressreleases/296165.shtml

For those who are just waking up…this morning the US Supreme Court ruled in favor (5 to 4) of Hobby Lobby. This Corporation now has the right, based on their “religious beliefs” to pick & choose which insurance benefits they offer their employees.
In this case, we’re talking birth control. The “Christian Right Conservatives” don’t want to pay for contraceptives, basically (although meds like Viagra are okay…don’t get me started…I’m just beginning to not see red anymore).

Many are viewing this as a women’s issue, but it’s a men’s issue, a family issue…an everybody issue!

Go with me for just a minute…I’m going to get personal.

In my family, my husband works his butt off working full time, overtime when he can, gets benefits for the family. I work part time, 1-2 half days a week in the office & the rest of the time I work from home, averaging 16-18 hours a week, our 3 yr old goes to a Pre-school/daycare when I’m in the office. We have 2 other kids who are in school full time. I get paid monthly & even though my hours are minimal, my hourly pay is good & my paychecks cover most of our rent (and are equal to close to half of my husband’s monthly net pay).

I have an IUD. According to the New York Times, “The cost of an IUD, one of the most effective forms of birth control, is considerable. It requires a visit to the doctor, and a procedure to have the device put in place. Medical exams, insertion, and follow-up visits can run upward of $1,000. Without insurance coverage, it’s likely that many women will be unable to use them.” Luckily, my husband’s insurance covered it, but if more companies start following suit who knows if my next one will be covered. (They need to be replaced every 5 years.) I will also say that this is the only reliable method of birth control that works for my husband & I. We don’t have to worry about forgetting, misusing, having reactions from my IUD. It just works.

Now lets say for a minute that my wonderful husband worked for Hobby Lobby. They could have refused to pay for our IUD. There would have been NO WAY we could have paid for it. I know that I can’t take birth control pills (as I react); without getting too personal diaphragms don’t work for me; condoms aren’t practical for many married couples & they can break or get holes & even when used correctly they’re only 98% effective…we would end up pregnant again, I wouldn’t be able to work, we’d be on food stamps after my income stopped paying most of our rent (which is a program we know that they’ve been speaking out against) then we definitely wouldn’t be able to afford to get my IUD, then more babies….endless poverty cycle.

I don’t know how “Christian” “Pro-Family” people can go out of their way to create hardship for families who are just trying to protect themselves against having children that they’re either not ready for or perhaps (like we are) done making their family, or like many, taking the medications for other things all together.

One other analogy I offer that I want you to think about before I wrap this up, only because I think it’s all too easy to say, “well, if they don’t want to cover a medication, what’s the big deal? It’s their company…” (Even though the employees cover a fair amount of their own premium costs…)

let’s flip the perspective for a minute. I posted this in response to someone’s facebook post this morning & it got some feedback so I’ll put it to you all as well: *you are christian & work for a lovely Muslim family-owned corporation. They decided that during Ramadan, since THEY fast from sun up to sun down as part of their Religious Beliefs, they would stop allowing food on the business properties from sun up to sun down, just during Ramadan. You are welcome to drive off site, eat something, & drive back during your 30 min lunch break but they won’t give you more time & this would only allow you a few minutes to eat & ends up costing you more $ in gas each week. You sue, but are surprised when you lose because you find out that your boss’s religious freedom is protected over you, just like the fore mentioned case.*

The average Rightwing Christian doesn’t usually like to be the minority & doesn’t like it when the religion-based law that they made a such a big deal over doesn’t only apply to them.

It’s time for me to share with you what I promised I would earlier. I will share the words first then post the link for the service itself. (You will find this at approximately 49:41) It is the Meditation before the Sermon (which is also amazing!).

This is Revs. Shana and Melora Lynngood, Co-ministers First Unitarian Church of Victoria, BC~Sunday, June 29th, 2014 at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Providence Rhode Island

“Please join us in a spirit of meditation and reflection… breathe in… breathe out… if you feel comfortable doing so, close your eyes… We have all done it— Especially those of us who like to think of ourselves as astute, intelligent, well-informed.
We criticize and judge—convinced that we know the right way.
And sometimes we ARE right—especially when our object of critique is an injustice, an unfair law or system.
We clench our fists—indignant, righteous. Take a moment to consider—In justice work—in life—what makes you clench your fists?… Sometimes, that response is justified; the clenched fists understandable, even appropriate.
But if we remain in that pose, our posture rigid, our approach set, convinced of our own superior view,
Then we miss the blessings…Steamroll right past the beatitudes.
To experience spiritual transformation—in justice-making and in life,
We have to un-clench our fists and open our hands.
Hands open, letting go of the need to be right, the urge to point the finger of critique
Hands open—signaling humility.
Hands open—receptive to the love that can guide us
Hands open—ready to serve.
Hands open to grasp hands of others, joining across differences, finding there meaningful connection
Hands open, like a toddler stumbling with arms akimbo, awkward, but poised to explore and experience new possibilities, new insights, new growth.
Take a moment to consider—if you were to open your hands, step into a more embracing stance than is usual for you, what blessings might you receive?
May our hands—open to the spirit—give life the shape of justice.”

http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/worship/295428.shtml
No matter how frustrated you may be, regardless of pride, nor anger–may you find your inner peace & wisdom & be able to lower your fist & open your hands & accept the gifts that come.

Learn from this day. Get out there & make a better day for our children.
Don’t be afraid to be loud when it matters.
Shalom friends.
~P

Perfect Beauty…

Perfect Beauty…

Please share this with your daughters, nieces, granddaughters, sisters, neighbors, friends, mothers, coworkers, oh hell…share it with everyone you know!

I have often felt that the problem with “the beauty industry” isn’t the products they sell, but the fact that they have been allowed (for decades) to brainwash the public into thinking that they NEEDED the products they sell to reach an acceptable level of “beauty.”

Let me say, whoever you are:

You are perfect.

You are beautiful.

All that you need to do or acquire in order to achieve perfection or beauty, is to simply live.

Love yourself, Be kind to others, Be gentle to your soul, Don’t listen to those who make you feel bad about who you are.

Screaming, Flying, Monkeys…

Kids are great! *forced smile*

No really, kids are amazing. I have 3 of my own & many whom I proudly “momma bear” even though they are not of my womb.

My oldest, “R”, is nearly 16 years old. He is on the autism spectrum, a sophomore in high school, loves video games, Godzilla, zombies, rock ‘n’ roll, goofy youtube videos, & those silly inflatable dancing guys that the used car dealerships use.

Next in line, “JON”, is almost 13. He won a fight with lymphoma a couple of years ago. He loves comic books, The Walking Dead, Mine Craft, riding his bike, Smosh videos on youtube, listening to music on his iPod, & comedy. Here’s one of his favorite’s (keep in mind that he’s 13, don’t judge):

This brings us to number 3…my screaming, often flying monkey…”CC” will be 3 at the end of April. She is adorable and loud and opinionated and funny and sweet and today, very, very 2!

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I like to think that I am a patient person.

I like to think that I am a good mother, a funny mother, I generally enjoy my children. We have fun together. But I have to admit…the toddler years can be hard! There are days when these funny little sweeties go from angel to freak show 30 seconds. These are the days when this mommy needs a time out!

I think that there are things that experienced moms often fail to convey to expecting or new moms. This is one of the areas where we, as women, fail each other!

This morning while my sweet baby girl was transforming into a possessed howler monkey because I was working at my laptop for 10 minutes while she was enjoying her favorite show on Sprout & I didn’t notice that her show was over and she was ready for lunch. Then we got calmed down with a small snack (because I really had to finish what I was doing before I could make lunch), when Daddy came home on his lunch break, one of the perks of working 5 minutes from home. She, naturally, was excited to see him! She was not very excited that he couldn’t spend his whole lunch hour (about 40 here) holding her due to the fact that he did need to eat. So…the screaming resumed!

ALRIGHT!!! Lunch time it is!!! We heated up some soup, put it in a bowl, sat her at the table, next to her Daddy, & enjoyed 5-8 minutes of relative quiet before Daddy had to prepare to leave the house to go back to the office.

This pattern continued while I attempted to complete a few other tasks, including a phone call (that was enjoyable with her wrapping herself around my legs & trying to stuff her head up my shirt!).

These are the things that we should be sharing with other women! (These & the scream I just heard from CC’s bedroom while typing! HA!) I don’t do the toddler years well, there I said it! It is H-A-R-D! While I’m being honest, let me talk about other things that we’re not supposed to say out loud…I am not good at potty training!! I have all of the tools & skills, I just suck at it! I am not patient! Once I know that a child KNOWS I lose my mind when they refuse to use the bathroom! Occasional accidents I can deal with, but let me give you a fun little example. CC is starting to recognize the feeling in her tummy pre-poop. She tells me that her tummy hurts, I ask her if she thinks she needs to go poop in the potty, she says yes. It’s a pretty good system! A couple of weeks ago, all signals were go…she’s sitting on the potty, I’m out in the hall, outside of the bathroom.

She says “Me all done!” She has only been in there a minute. I know she hasn’t gone yet. So I say, “I don’t think you’ve been in there long enough yet honey, why don’t you look at your book again?” She hops down, pulls up her leggings, hides behind the door & starts to close it.

I stop the door from closing, “What are you doing?”

“Me pooping!” I look at her pants behind her & sure enough, she has a lump in her pants!

“CC! You were already on the potty, honey! Why did you get down to poop?”

“Cuz that’s how big girls do it!”

“That is NOT how big girls do it!”

I lost my fricking mind! So, she went down for a nap…I had a cup of tea.

Ladies, you need to be able to lose your mind, put your child in a safe space (whether that’s a crib, swing, playpen, or gated safe room) & know that they will be fine more than 10 feet from you for as long as you need to find your mind again. And please find a friend that you can admit your imperfections to! None of us are perfect! The lady on the block whose home looks immaculate ALL OF THE TIME is hiding something crazy in a closet somewhere & probably needs someone to talk to too, I guarantee it!

People tell you all of the time to savor these precious years….they told me that with the boys too…I get it, I do…I savor the totally done with potty training, don’t need gates on the stair anymore years! I admit it! I hate touching bodily fluids, when that sweet baby girl can blow her own nose, I will not miss wiping it! I don’t miss wiping the boys’! There has never been a day when I’m wiping her snotty little (adorable) nose & thought “I miss when I had to pick boogers out of R’s nose”…NO! Thank God they grow out of certain stages! Potty training, 2’s, boogers, throwing unwanted food on my floor….get me past these years with whatever grace & dignity I have left, then I will savor the rest!

I don’t want to discourage any future mothers out there. Being a mother has honestly been the biggest joy of my life, & I honestly wouldn’t trade it for anything. I couldn’t imagine the person I would be if I hadn’t become a mother. But its okay to be honest about the days that we struggle. Its okay if everyday we don’t feel like we’re doing everything right. Its okay if some days you gotta put that screaming monkey in her (safe) cage (crib) & let her scream it out for a minute so that you don’t lose your mind. We’re all on the same team here.

Raising future adults is an important task. These are the people who will one day take care of us. If we don’t take care of ourselves while taking care of them, what does it teach them about valuing themselves. We learn by example.

I think CC’s finally asleep. I better eat some lunch before round 3 starts!

Have a wonderful day.

If you are out there reading this, & your day is anything like mine…stay strong, take a break, talk to who you can, & know that you are doing your best.

Shalom