April 26, 2013

people gettin' all judgy

over the weekend i headed up my work's booth at the earth day festival. i enjoy earth day and it always makes me chuckle. there's just a whiff of (self-imposed?) trying too hard. i wore my free and easy maxi dresses, not the jeans and gap tee i've been favoring for the last eight months. i felt slightly guilty when asked by an earnest volunteer, "did you come car-free today?" uh, no, but now i wish i had! anyhow, it's a great festival. there's great kettle corn, good music, and i had a fun time.

except for two encounters that i just can't seem to get out of my brain.

the first was pretty humorous. a local farm had brought along some of their livestock, and they were allowing their turkey, pilgrim, to wander freely. the spot he chose for the entire two days was right behind me, which meant i had a giant turkey lurking near my backside all weekend. it was a little disconcerting. everyone loved looking at pilgrim. he seemed relaxed and even allowed crowds of kids to get in his face and pet him. but then one lady got upset. with me.

"your turkey is thirsty," she told me without introduction. "you really shouldn't even have a wild animal like that as a pet."
"that is definitely not my turkey," i shot back, thinking to myself, do i look like your average turkey owner? i pointed her in the direction of the gentleman who seemed to be in charge, and she marched off to confront him. i gave him what i hope was an understanding smile as i heard him defending the turkey, "well, turkeys are not wild animals," he explained calmly, before she continued her lecture.

my second chat with a stranger didn't turn out to be quite so humorous. she was a mom with two young girls in tow. i complimented them on their face paint and after they turned to go on to the next booth, their mom walked back to me.

"you shouldn't use cleaning products with chemicals in them," she volunteered, abruptly. "especially when you're expecting."
"um..." i replied eloquently.
"i sell this," she said, dropping a brochure into my lap. it was for a line of green cleaning products that i've wanted to try.
"you know, i usually make my own cleaning-"
she cut me off. "these are better. remember what i said about the baby." and walked off.

not a joke! i really do make my own cleaning products
now, this is not a post about how green i am, although i do try to make it a priority because i want my home to be a healthy place. it's not a post about whether or not animals should be wild or domesticated (we have a dog and i love eating meat, so...). but it is a post about the judgements we make toward strangers, and the opportunities we lose as a result. the second conversation made me especially sad because this woman and i probably have a lot in common! we could have talked about our shared values and why we strive to keep our homes as chemical-free as possible. i am a sucker for direct sales, so i probably would have even bought something from her! instead, she saw me, she judged me (for whatever reason), and we lost the opportunity to connect.

and how many times have i done the same?

a wise woman once told me that she operates from a position of presumed benevolence. isn't that beautiful? more simply, she assumes that people are trying their hardest, doing their best, striving for the best in others, and making the wisest decision possible, until it's proven otherwise. as i kept thinking about this post, i realized that i was judging these women just as much as they seemed to be judging me. i wasn't assuming benevolence. i wasn't assuming that they were coming from a good place. i have now spent almost a week storing up their words in my heart, instead of just laughing it off and moving on.

over the last year, this has been one of my favorite verses:
and now i think i need to turn it a little so that i can really get it into my heart:
becca, fix your thoughts about others on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. think of others as excellent and worthy of praise. 
+ + +
ps: meganace-- you've won a copy of bread & wine!! i'll be contacting you via email so that i can get your book out to you right away. enjoy!

April 22, 2013

cooking for my mom: bread & wine review, part 2

there are (somewhat obviously) so so many aspects about being a mom that i adore. i love cruz's little imagination. i love knowing the difference between a skid steer and an excavator. i love teaching him new songs. i love that he hands me the etch-a-sketch and demands, "write words, mommy." i don't even mind some of the bad stuff; i barely blink at a poopy diaper.

but i hate bath time.

i can't even get into what or why, i just have a mental block about bath time. i will do absolutely anything to get out of this chore.

my mom was here last weekend and like a saint she was upstairs giving cruz a bath. as the water began to run and bubbles were poured, i walked into the kitchen to prepare dinner. i didn't know exactly what i wanted to make, so i decided to employ a couple of shauna's cooking lessons that i had learned from bread & wine.

the first: start with what you have. i opened the fridge to find a half container of goat cheese and plain greek yogurt-- the building blocks of shauna's goat cheese biscuits. i pulled out a mixing bowl and started dumping. yogurt, milk, salt. the dough squished in between my fingers as i formed it into balls and dropped them into a pan.

the second lesson: more salt, more heat. in her chapter the chopping block, shauna describes a culinary boot camp she attended (and mom, we are so doing this!). the head chef told the students that all meals can be improved with "more salt. more heat. more butter." as the biscuits started to rise in the oven, i chopped chicken sausage, poured olive oil into a pan on high heat, salted gnocchi, picked basil from the pot next to the sink. the ingredients sizzled and melded and the house got quiet as cruz went to sleep under my mom's gentle watch.

the most important part of the evening was that i got to cook for my mom. she, who has cooked so many many meals for me, who has basted and roasted and stir fried and sauteed, all with love. when she comes to visit, i want to pay back just a smidge of that kitchen love. even though she put my son to bed, and probably even cleaned up afterwards, it made me feel good that i could make her one delicious meal. come back soon, mama. there are a lot more recipes in bread & wine for us to cook through. and cruz could use a bath.
want to win your own copy of bread &wine? leave a comment below telling me who you love to cook for. good luck!

April 16, 2013

Lion + Pig

there's a shabby sort of gentleman who lives in our house. he hasn't bathed in awhile. his hair is matted down. his colors have gone from golden to muddy brown. he smells like sleep. he once sat up tall and proud, but now he slumps over; his back is not what it used to be.

but he's loved beyond measure. there's a certain little boy in our house who doesn't like to be too far from him. he's held under arms, he comes with us on car rides, and is snuggled up to at every nap and every bedtime. he gives and receives kisses with abandon, and he helps us to practice holding a baby.

it was time for big lion to get a friend.

big pig came to live at our house today, in anticipation of baby girl's arrival. she was sitting in the front seat when i picked cruz up from daycare. "a piiiiiiig!" he said, craning his neck around. "a friend for lion."

there's a sparkly lady pig who lives in our house. she's pristine and pretty. all of her stuffing is in the right place and her tail still holds a perfect curl. but my deepest, dearest wish for her is that someday she will fall over from too many squeezes, that her ears will droop from being chewed on, and that her pink won't always be so bright because of too many trips to the beach.
what a beautiful thing it is to be loved.

April 12, 2013

dinner, love, and open hands: part one of my bread & wine review

it's been the kind of spring that's turned me thoughtful. i've been spending a lot of time in prayer and in writing and in craving long talks with my girlfriends. since we aren't making a nursery for baby girl yet, i think this is my soul's way of nesting. we're getting good and comfortable and centered on the things that really matter.

it's also been a season of opening my eyes to the many blessing we've been given. do you ever feel that you compare up? i just find myself doing this all the time, and i make the excuse that it's easy to do in our town. everyone seems to have more than me. it's a heart-problem, and it's something i'm committed to working on. well, i've felt very convicted over the last few weeks that one way to combat my comparison issue is to live life with my hands more open.

to be more generous with my time, money, talents, possessions.
to open up my door and invite people into my un-perfect life.
to stop waiting for a new rug or a great centerpiece or enough matching chairs to have people over for dinner.

so we're doing just that. we're cooking good, simple food for friends and family.

it was in the midst of all this thoughtfulness that i was given the opportunity to read and review shauna niequist's new book, bread & wine. my friend sarah introduced me to shauna a couple of years ago when she wrote cold tangerines. reading her writing is like having coffee with a really insightful and eloquent friend, and she immediately became one of my favorite authors. shauna is basically who i aspire to be in a few years, plus, she's a westmont alum, which already makes her awesome.
shauna lists striped shirts as one of her favorite things. sound like anyone you know?
bread & wine is shauna's "love letter to life around the table" and reading it in this season of life has been perfect. it's not a cookbook, but it's filled with (delicious) recipes and life lessons learned through food and cooking and sharing life. it's great.

before the book arrived, i had really big dreams of hosting a large dinner party and cooking from the book. i would make centerpieces and be oh-so-blog-photo-worthy. but life got so busy and my belly made me so tired. after tearing through bread & wine in one weekend, i realized that shauna did not set out in this book to make me a domestic goddess. life around the table happens in small moments and big, in bad times and good. i scaled back my dreams and settled on the crux of the matter: opening my heart and my home whenever i could. we had two families over for dinner one night. from bread & wine, i cooked brannon's spicy cesar salad (pregnancy friendly, y'all!), farmer's market potato salad, and maple balsamic pork loin. shauna's recipes are simple, require no fancy equipment, and everything i made could be prepared and prepped ahead of time. it made the day really, really easy. our dinner was nothing too fancy, just real life. we didn't really have enough chairs. i didn't really clean. believe me, there was no centerpiece. there was a lot of chaos, one broken glass, toddlers begging the adults for bites of ice cream, good food, and even better laughter.

you know, all the best parts of life together.


would you like your own copy of bread & wine? i'm giving one away! to enter to win, leave a comment telling me your favorite meal to cook. good luck! i'll draw the winner next friday. 

April 10, 2013

today you napped

today you napped. oh my darling son, how i needed that. i was thisclose to giving up naps for good, but you have napped two days in a row and it has been heaven. were you having a growth spurt? thinking up too many ideas in your curious brain to settle down? let's be really honest... were you "thinking about the drains"?

well, you got rewarded for your nap with a really, really good adventure this afternoon. it was free cone day at ben & jerry's! (also, wasn't it just free cone day? here's the difference a year can make).
we stood in the looonnnngggesssttt line with a million high school students, and a family of seven that cut right in front of us. does my eight-months-pregnant belly not scream, "do not cut me off from ice cream!"? on the inside i was fuming, but thankfully you were the spokesperson for our family that day. because you were extra rested and extra cute and kept commenting, "patient for the ice cream," a nice woman took pity on us and gave us her "cut to the front of the line pass." thank you, sweet stranger!

you worked hard on your cone, and we walked down to the farmer's market. we bought strawberries and lettuce from a women who recognized us from the last market! if i had a bucket list, getting recognized by a farmer at the market might be on it. our new best friend farmer is having a baby in july, and we talked about how sore our backs are, the genius of body pillows, and how sweet baby boys can be.

and seriously, you are the sweetest. when you wake up with sunshine in your smile and ask about our "abenture" for the day, and the sweet way you want to bring your lion every where... kid, i cannot get enough of you.

April 5, 2013


here's what we were up to in march, at least according to instagram:
+ i started my third trimester, and coincidentally ate a lot of cupcakes
+ we spent an inordinate amount of time on the basketball courts near our house
+ oh, and we did drains. drains, drains, drains.
+ gosh, my boy is so dreamy. love.this.kid.
+ ok, he's dreamy, but in march he stopped napping. apparently i have compensated for this by taking him out for treats in the late afternoon. not a good precedent to set, mama...
+ my parents came to visit and it was amazing. and isn't my mom the prettiest??
+ alright, fine, sometimes we do activities beyond basketball and drains. sometimes we check out the rats at the pet store and sometimes we remember that we're five minutes from the beach.
+ i've been delightfully cooking my way through shauna niequist's bread and wine. review and giveaway coming next week! get excited!!

April 4, 2013

balanced beginnings: body with baby

there's a young woman i work with every few weeks that without fail cheerfully greets me with, "you're getting bigger and bigger!" or maybe she'll change it up with, "you're so big!" whenever she says it, in my head i translate 'big' into 'gloriously radiant' or 'impossibly beautiful' and acknowledge the compliment.

sometimes i let it bother me (especially if i've accidentally caught a picture of kate middleton whose due date is just a few weeks after mine but whose bum belly is um... smaller). when you're pregnant (in my experience), people seem to express their excitement for you by touching your belly and making comments about your body size that would never, ever happen to a non-pregnant person. like, ever. most of it comes from a place of caring, so i shrug it off. but there are days when i'm lying on the couch like a beached whale and my maternity clothes are feeling a bit snug and i complain to tovi, "i just feel like a beached whale!" and those are the days when the body comments dig into my soul just a little bit more.

pregnancy is this amazing, crazy transition from being (mostly) in control of your life and your body to having oh so much less. nine months of carrying a child in your belly, nursing, and then hauling a large toddler around the neighborhood in your arms begin to take a toll on the body. my body doesn't belong to me. my aches and pains are evidence of a life lived for others.

but it's hard. i'm not slim anymore. i don't feel strong and fit the way i used to. i swear, every single one of my friends is a skinny mini. i'm tired at the end of the day. i haven't run along the beach in years. my back hurts.

and in the midst of my beached-whale-state, my friend robin came along and created a beautiful prenatal pilates program, and i am telling you, it meets me where i am at. robin is a fellow alum from westmont, and while we didn't know each other at school, i sure wish we had (once, years ago, we sat next to each other at a wedding reception, and i thought she was just darling, which she is). in the last two years we've connected through blogging and her online pilates programs, and i was so excited to find out that we are having babies within a few weeks of each other! robin has taken her balanced, holistic, and realistic perspective on fitness and applied it to pregnancy. cue the angels singing. not only are robin's pilates workouts effective and strengthening, i so appreciate her perspective that pregnancy is a time to embrace health and wellbeing, not a time to worry about the number on a scale or your size post-baby. it perfectly mirrors our family's fitness philosophy. in fact, in the program introduction she writes:

Pregnancy can be a wonderful, yet overwhelming experience. When I started researching prenatal fitness programs I found that the general message was 'keep your body in shape so that you can be a slim, skinny pregnant lady.' Which you all know, is not my style. I didn't want to spend my 9 months desperately clinging to my pre-pregnancy body and cringing over every new curve, lump & bump. Because I know myself and I know that's what I'd be tempted to do if I didn't intentionally pursue another route. That's not the woman I want to be and that's not the kind of mom I want to be. So I set out to create a program that would help myself and others embrace this season through maintaining their strength, well-being, and most importantly, confidence.

she helps me to reconnect with my own body and to thank God for the miracle of growing this little one in my belly.

+ + +

if you're interested in finding out more about robin and the balanced beginnings program, click here. there's a lot included in the program, and as someone going through pregnancy for the second time, i can tell you that all these resources are valuable! (she had me at "those struggling with sciatic nerve pain")

Balanced Beginnings: embracing pregnancy through prenatal Pilates

The program includes:

  • 5 Pilates workouts safe for all 3 trimesters, directed at common pregnancy needs (Core & Back Care, Upper Body Upkeep, Lower Body Lift, Strengthen & Tone, and Stretching & Relaxation)
  • a 10 minute guided meditation to help you manage and eliminate stress & anxiety that often comes along with pregnancy and life transitions.
  • Positive Pregnancy Affirmations: to encourage confidence, healthy thoughts and a positive body image as your body changes and grows.
  • Prenatal Exercise Safety 101 printout to help you feel empowered and informed as you take care of your pregnant body.
  • BONUS #1: 2 short (can be done during naps) Pilates routines for new moms designed to help you ease back into our workouts.
  • BONUS #2: Nutrition recommendations from a certified nutritionist
  • BONUS #3: Guided stretching video for those struggling with sciatic nerve pain
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