Queen of the Nerds

Even when it was uncool, I was a nerd. Even when I was a jock, had friends, had boyfriends and a social life, I was a nerd.

A Batman loving, science fiction reading, History channel watching weirdo who’s sense of humor wasn’t always well received.

It took awhile for me to hit my stride. As a teenager I was stereotypically self-conscious and often replayed uncool moments in my head for years. To this day I remember the awful speech I made in my middle school French class about RollerJam (Yup. Loved that shit.) or the stupid WWE clip I played in a presentation on law enforcement as an adult. These moments, while admittedly sometimes embarrassing have made me realize that embracing my nerd is much better than shoving it deep down inside and watching in horror as it spills out in an epic show of geekery.

As an adult, I embrace and appreciate my dork side. As a mother, I realize how lame it was to ever hide any part of myself.

An hour long discussion with coworkers about which of all the great action stars would win in a real-life battle royale (Chuck Norris)  is something I now look forward to. Debating and googling why the martyred colonists of the second Aliens movie were actually on that God forsaken planet in the first place (Terraforming) has become the norm.

I suppose then, the fact that I dress my daughter in super hero tshirts, leggings, bows and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle socks should not surprise anyone who knows me. Neither should the fact that my toddler regularly receives praise from strangers as polite and “something special.” She is openly regarded as one of the smartest, pig-headed and ornery children ever to be born of my family (which says a lot).

And I have no doubt that she is destined for great things.

She is without a doubt, my tiny Super hero.

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When her nerdy starts to shine through, and she begins to question her ability to fit in or stand out, I hope that my own dorky traits will call to hers. I hope the lessons I have learned as a nerd, dork, loser, student, teacher, jock, outcast, social butterfly, partier, planner, good guy, bad buy, friend, sister, daughter and mother will somehow rub off on her. Because I have learned a lot in my short lifetime and some of my favorite lessons were hard won as an outcast.

My favorite lesson? Nobody else is looking at your big ass in that dress because they are too busy worrying about theirs. Go do something great. Something worth your life. Venture on and rock that dress.

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Guns & Balls.

I am on a committee to plan the first Police Officers Ball in our area in a decade. I found myself on this list after answering a chain email asking for help. I then caught swine flu after a particularly aggressive cuddlefest with my daughter and was sick for a week. When I returned I had assignments and responsibilities.

So now I’m planning a ball (when I’ve never been to one) for lots of armed people. Awesome.

To be fair, I’m not doing much of the planning. I’m an amazing “brain storm” girl but with my current work load/baby load/side work load, there’s no way I can do much more than theorize great party plans and contribute some design work. (Also, my idea of a “Prom Themed Ball” didn’t go over real well.)

To top things off, I was guilted into raising the money for/gathering the ingredients for AND building several gift baskets that would be raffled off at a separate fundraiser a couple weeks from now. I have an addiction to fundraisers. I love them.

So here I go on another whirlwind season of planning.

On a side note, I have completed my new office and simply need to collect the masses of children’s’ books/socks/toys that gather on the floor and pictures of the complete project will be up soon. (Additional side note, it’s badass.)

For now I shall leave you with yet another promise to return soon…and this…

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Yup. That’s my daughter’s awesome Valentines Day card to all of our family. Saving that one for the Wedding Video!!!

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2014 Bucket List

Years ago I wrote my Bucket List. I wrote it in a pretty notebook that went on a shelf and then into a box. I recently found that list and scratched off, “Have a kid.” That was it.
I suppose I shouldn’t feel that bad considering how much effort went into making that one kid. And since making her there’s the constant care and attention that a toddler needs. Especially one with my temper and her father’s constant need to push buttons (literally and figuratively).

But it occurred to me as I scratched that one accomplishment off my list that my bucket list had been goals for a lifetime. Maybe what I needed to mark my progress were slightly more achievable goals for a finite amount of time. Perhaps a year…

Duh. I should create a bucket list for 2014! After all, the sound of “2014” brings images of great space wonders and futuristic gadgets to mind, I might as well set some awesome goals for myself.

And with that I present my 2014 Bucket List:

1. Be a better mom.
2. Appreciate how awesome a mom I am.
3. Be patient with my husband.
4. Take my dad to the zoo.
5. Take my mom to a concert.
6. Take a family vacation…and relax.
7. Give up coffee for a month…or a week.
8. Determine a more consistent workout regimen that doesn’t revolve around chasing my dogs while Baby sleeps.
9. Speaking of babies, work on baby #2.
10. Make Baby’s nursery magical.
11. Take my husband out on a fancy date involving a dress and steak.
12. Relearn how to walk in heels without looking pained.
13. Build my business!
14. Blog at least three times a week.
15. Go on an adventure….alone.
16. Enroll in at least two “Mommy & Me” classes.
17. Go to church more often.
18. Try a new recipe once a week.
19. Host a fancy dinner party.
20. Take Baby to two museums I’ve never been to.
21. Grow the gonads to pay for a booth at a bridal show.
22. Make my official will and start a funeral fund. (Depressing but needs to be done.)
23. Repaint, redecorate the master suite.
24. Successfully conduct monthly giveaways for The Affair Shop.
25. Make more Mommy-Daddy time !

This little project was a weird sort of therapy for me. I suggest it when you’re feeling overwhelmed by life or just unfocused.

And I also expect everyone who reads this (maybe it’ll just be my parents and some friends) to keep me on track.

Good luck!

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Random Christmas Freebie

I realize that we are only a few days off from Thanksgiving…but I can’t stop thinking about Christmas. AND in celebration of my family getting our Christmas cards printed today, I am posting a Christmas freebie way in advance!

Happy HOLLA Days gift tags! Amazing!

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Download here. Print. Label those awesome presents. Accept praise.

HOLLA!

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Toddler Approved Recipe – White Bean, Turkey Meatball Soup

Every Sunday evening I spend hours cooking multiple meals for the week. Since I went back to work, cooking a weeks worth of meals means finding toddler-friendly, healthy meals that will also appeal to me, the Nanny and Grandpa (part-time Manny).

If you follow my Instagram, I tend to post pictures of some of the finer creations. The shitty ones I just leave off. You wouldn’t want those, trust me.

Last week was one of my favorites, brown rice, cooked in chicken stock, with fresh rosemary, mushrooms and chicken sausage. An easy, tasty one-pot meal. The kid loves it. Mommy is obsessed with rosemary. Everyone wins.

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This week was beautiful out. Chilly in the evenings, warm in the afternoons with autumn colors bursting from the world’s seams. Perfect soup weather.

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I started with this recipe from Williams Sonoma for White Bean and Escarole Soup with Turkey Meatballs.

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I tweaked the recipe to the ingredients below:

  • 2 cans (each 14 1/2 oz.) white beans, drained/cleaned
  • 1 bunch of fresh baby spinach
  • olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 whole carrots, chopped into toddler-friendly pieces
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped to the same size as the carrots
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • lb of turkey meatballs (find these fresh in the poultry section of your local grocery store)

Being a mom, I didn’t have time to make homemade turkey meatballs (even though I’ve done it in the past and it’s super easy, it is still time consuming). Instead, I bought turkey meatballs from the poultry section of my favorite grocery and got on my way.

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Check out my recipe below for White Bean, Turkey Meatball Soup:

I started by prepping everything. This is not Top Chef. You are not limited to 20 minutes to get everything done. Prepare all of your ingredients first and stop stressing when you cook.

Coat the bottom of a saute pan with olive oil and cook your meatballs. Brown those suckers over medium-high heat without burning them. Cap that pan and take it off the burner to keep your balls warm. (Always keep your balls warm. Life lessons right here, ya’ll.)

Pick a large soup pot. Over medium-high heat, toss enough olive oil into your pot to coat the bottom. Don’t worry about how much, it’s olive oil. Everyone loves it.

Next it’s the onions. Toss them in and let them soften for about 5 minutes.

Next in the pot are the rosemary, garlic, carrots and celery. Stir frequently for another two minutes or so.

Add the wine and cook until it has almost evaporated.

Pour in the broth and beans bringing your concoction to a simmer.

Tear the spinach into small pieces and toss into your pot.

Cook for 5 to 7 more minutes.

Stirring. Stirring. Stirring.

Add the turkey meatballs.

Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes depending on how warm your balls still are…

SERVE! Or in my case, ladle into containers and cool.

Baby loves the beans, soft carrots and yummy turkey balls. Mommy loves that she’s getting veggies without throwing them on the floor.

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Let me know what you think! And follow me on Instagram!

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First Flight/Vacation with Baby

Our first big family trip was planned to introduce Baby to my husband’s side of the family in northern Washington. I love that area of the country. The first time I ever visited was long before I met my husband. When I flew in all I saw was green. Green soggy earth. I loved it. The temperature never rose about 75 and never fell below 50.  It was my kindof place. The land of North Face, serious coffee addicts and fresh flowers.

I always look forward to adventures in the Pacific Northwest, though this particular round would be obviously different with Baby in tow. We planned a noonish flight for Daddy’s work schedule and in the hopes that Baby would sleep through her first flight. I woke the little one up around 6am and began running her ragged. By the time we left for the airport she was dead weight in our arms.

I had a minor panic attack as we went through the security checkpoint when the TSA man wanted to steal Baby’s food but my panic must have made him rethink it because he let a couple small jars slide instead. We made it to our first/only layover with no problems. Infact, Baby was voted cutest baby of the day at Denver International Airport by the TSA ladies and managed to stop a small crowd by hanging onto Mommy’s carry-on luggage like a monkey as we jogged to the next gate.

Our second flight was delayed and Baby was wide-awake by the time we boarded. Only plus of the incident was that my husband and I were seated one in front of the other on the plane and just bounced her from seat to seat. By the time we reached Seattle, Baby, Mommy and Daddy were exhausted. We met a relative for dinner and Baby and I fell asleep at the table. I remember very little from that night.

The next morning we went to my favorite site in the city, Pike’s Place Market. No matter how many times we visit, it is the first and last place I want to go. Though I would fully recommend the tourist trap to any adult visiting the area, I warn parents with small children to be weary. The crowds can be crushing and scary at times. And it is very easy to become distracted by tiny asian women popping in and out of huge flower stalls filled with giant blooms. We downsized our giant BOB stroller for a small folding travel version for this trip and yet we still had trouble getting through the crowds. But a benefit of the stroller was that at the end of our morning market stroll, we carried baby and piled the stroller high with 7 fresh bouquets for less than $50. It was amazing. I grinned and pet each bouquet like a crazy person. If ever I leave the midwest, it will be for a small condo in downtown Seattle within minutes of the masses of fresh flowers and determined asian ladies.

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From the moment we left downtown Seattle, it was a week packed with family time. We drove from home to home meeting and greeting cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and great grandparents.

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One of our last days in Washington, we met with my Husband’s parents and took Baby on her first ferry ride. We rode out to the San Juan islands and explored Roach Harbor. The island lifestyle is so prevalent in the area that I instantly wanted a boat. I wanted to live like the old retired doctors and lawyers of the area with their Sperry shoes and sassy boat names. We strolled through manicured gardens and tried Lavendar gelato. We watched rainbows emerge above the Puget Sound and laughed as the little ones pointed out various sea life. All in all it was a great day trip for any small family. The local restaurants and stores catered to tourists with a great selection of food and souvenirs but the atmosphere was more relaxed and upscale then the grungy streets of downtown Seattle.

My recommendation if you’re in the area, is to get out of Seattle. Load up that stroller and take a road trip north to the small towns of the islands. Spend a little bit of cash on the ferry and watch seagulls, otters and sometimes whales as you relax with your favorite little one.

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One of the last day trips we could work into our busy family-visiting schedule was to Leavenworth, Washington. The town was a few hours from where we were staying with family, but my husband and I couldn’t resist the allure of authentic German food. Ever since we visited Germany on our honeymoon, we have desperately sought out authentic German food and beer. Obsessed seems too weak of a word.

The entire town is stylized as an old German village with the architecture of each building crowned by authentic looking murals. We spent the day eating spaetzle, schnitzel and drinking German beer. We walked stony trails along a small mountain river and explored cute Christmas stores. We chose a family Christmas ornament and watched Baby drool over sweets at a candy shop. Again, I would adamantly recommend a day outing with your small family to this small town. There are many little restaurants (not all German) that were family friendly and inexpensive. On our way out we snagged flavored brats for the ride and took in our last mountain views.

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Our last full day in Washington, we spent exploring the State Fair with the in-laws. Baby and her cousins oh’ed and ah’ed at the assortment of alpacas and cattle on display. We watched a costume contest for show dogs while the bigger kids rode rides. We shared snowcones and explored craft displays. It was a day of quality family time that Baby greatly enjoyed.

The next day we said our goodbyes and drove into Seattle for lunch. We ventured back to Pike Place in search of fried halibut and chips. Perched in a huge window, enjoying our fried food and listening to the hustle of the city, we stared out at the Puget Sound and watched cargo ships lazily float by. Baby was entranced by the huge ferris wheel rotating near by. Mommy and Daddy sighed, mentally preparing for another round of flights on our long way home.

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