In constant pursuit of coffee and Christ

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cucumber Sammies

I first learned this recipe while working at  The White Oak Inn. These lovely little sandwiches, aka "sammies", would be served for teas and special events, along with an assortment of other wonderful goodies, and I was always excited to help dispose of leftovers.

While I cannot claim that the following recipe is an exact copy of what I used to help make years ago, the most important aspects remain: simple, fresh, quick, and healthy, not to mention super yummy. Oh, and my kiddo loves them too!

Cucumber Sammies 

1 Medium cucumber
1/3 Block cream cheese (about 2.5 ounces)
2 Tbs Dill paste 
(Fresh is preferred if you can find it. Add to taste. Flavor will increase once combination has been chilled)
Sea Salt, to taste
Whole wheat bread

Whip cream cheese and salt together until light and fluffy
Wash, peel if desired, and finely dice cucumber
 Fold cucumber and dill into cream cheese until blended
Cover, directly on top of mixture to prevent drying, and chill for 30+ minutes
Spread onto whole wheat bread

Yes, it really is that simple! 

*Replace cream cheese with low fat cream cheese for an even healthier version

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I Am Not Just

Among all the wonderful gifts I received over the Christmas season was a delightful bag of Losantiville Blend coffee and a handsome new mug. I must say this blend has quickly become one of my favorites.

Note the cat scratches on my beautiful table. No more cats. 
If you had told me ten years ago that I would be sitting here as a stay at home mom I would have told you that you were out of your mind. The plan was never to stay home, the plan was to be practicing dietetics and nutrition in a well known hospital, as an clinical dietitian, while a loving daycare provider looks after my children. I love to work. I love being busy. I love knowing that I know what I'm doing and that I am doing it well, maybe even better than my colleagues - because I'm one of those extreme competitive types who loves winning and tries her best to lose with dignity and grace... something I am not always successful with, you know, when I lose (please note sarcasm).

Never in a million years would I change my mind about staying home to raise my children. By no means am I coming down or judging working parents either. We parents need to stick together! God opened doors for me to be able to stay home and I walked through them terrified and rejoicing. I have the utmost respect for working parents. Once my family is ready, I will return to what most refer to as the "working world" and join them.

Recently I have noticed a trend in how I am refereed to by those in my life, who do not understand the complexities of full time mommahood, as "just staying home" or "just a stay at home mom" or "not working".


Fueled by my frustration of this misconception, I took to the mommy support groups I take part in via social media, asking for feedback from other stay at home mommas, and boy did I get it! Turns out I am not the only stay at home parent who feels the attitude towards us change. So, for the sake of all stay at home parents, allow me to set the record straight on what we "just" do all day.

A stay at home parent is never off the clock, there are no 8-15 hour days, only 24 hour days. There are no lunch breaks, no potty breaks, no vacation days, sick days, or paid holidays, and no alone time in the car as we travel back and forth. Meals are rarely consumed at anything other than room temperature, showers are strategically planned, and we are almost always wearing something our child was eating. There are no promotions, no raises, little to no adult interaction ... no, we aren't complaining, we love what we do and whom we do it all for, just stating the facts.

Are there days when we just stay in our pajamas? You bet there are. Why? Because we don't just throw a load of laundry in from time to time. We sort, wash, dry, fold, hang, iron, and put away the clothes on our families backs. Maybe we decided against getting dressed today because we've been up all night with a sick/teething/growing/who knows/who cares it's 2am kiddo, who needs to be snuggled on the couch while watching the same Veggie Tales movie over and over. Maybe we're not as done up as you feel is appropriate because sleep was replaced by the following days 'To Do' list running over and over again in our heads: "drop off dry cleaning, don't forget to pick up more toilet paper, start dinner by 2:00 so it's ready by 6:00 and you can leave at 6:30... bread, we have no bread. Shoot. Do I really want to make bread? Yes, yes, I do. Do I have time to make bread? No. Pick up bread and toilet paper... Kiddo needs a bath, do I bathe him in the morning or before bed? In the morning, we will be out too late for a nighty night bath..."

Do you have electric, water, gas, TV and internet, a working phone, food in the house, etc.? You're welcome. Due to the fact we are just home all day, we'll make sure the bills get paid, the shopping is done, the errands ran, the kids dropped off/picked up... we handle all of these tasks, not because we seek acknowledgement but, because we value the time we get to spend together as a family, time that we prefer not be hindered by daily chores.

When you come into our home and are greeted with a clean and orderly place to gather, that's because we also keep up with the housework. We were even nice enough to take out the trash containing dirty diapers. You know, just because we had the time.

Our family is clean and fed. Our pets aren't starving or smelly. Our grass is cut, the garden weeded, snow is shoveled... we just had an extra few minutes, no big deal.

We are their teacher, tutor, counselor, lunch lady (or gent), janitor, maintenance, coach, doctor, nurse, chauffeur. We don't just help with homework and sign papers, we transport to and from football practice, dance recital, youth group, the mall so that they can "hang". We attend their games, their performances, their debates, and somehow muster up enough energy and enthusiasm to cheer them on, every step of the way. We don't just kiss the "boo-boos" and wipe away tears, we are up every two hours checking temperatures and administering medicine when our children are sick. We evaluate what and how much has exited their tummies so as to better understand what they're fighting. We are keeping track of what food may have caused that rash or how many fruits starting with the letter 'P' are required before we see the desired potty results. We keep our family organized and running like a well oiled machine, making, traveling to, and attending all Dr. appointments, specialist appointments, and events, just because we're so darn good at what we do.

We deal with an immense amount of stress and pressure. You think your boss acts like a child from time to time... our boss IS a child. No, we do not let our children run our lives, but when kiddo decides not to nap there is very little you can do about that. So whatever you were planning on accomplishing during those few precious minutes, will just have to wait. Or when you find out that practice was moved from Monday night at 7:00 to Wednesday night at 6:30, that family dinner you had planned for Wednesday will just have to be rescheduled.

Several stay at home parents also run a business out of their home. I started selling my baked goods when Bear was young but as he became more and more mobile my ability to spend hours in the kitchen disappeared, as did my little baking business. I am now a Scentsy consultant, throwing and hosting parties, taking and placing orders, keeping everything organized and on track, answering questions, etc. all while my little man keeps me company. Because, apparently, I just wasn't busy enough.

There also seems to be some misconception as to why we are home. Yes, of course it is because we love and value our children and desire a relationship with them. That being said, we may also be home because of health related issues, because we will actually save money by not spending money on childcare, etc. The list goes on and on.

So the next time you find yourself wondering what we stay at home parents do all day, answer yourself with just a little bit of everything.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Social Media Part 2 - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

In my first post regarding social media, I tell you about the weekend we un-installed ourselves from all social media. For the full story check out Social Media Part 1 - Our Weekend Without.

The Good

Social media, Facebook specifically, is an amazing tool for staying connected with friends and family. Ben and I don't have huge families, but we are spread all over the world. We have close friends and family in Oregon, Tennessee, Georgia, California, New York, Arizona, England, Latvia... the list goes on. Without Facebook we would not be able to stay nearly as connected to these loved ones as we do. Testament to the power social media holds is when Bens cousin, whom I had not met yet, stopped by our house on her way to NY from OR. "I feel like I know you so well already because of Facebook" she said.

Memory sharing has been made incredibly simple. Have a picture with several friends? No problem, tag them and they automatically have access to the photo as well. Celebrate a significant event with family and friends? Tag them in your status and you can all share together.

Because of networks such as Facebook, Instaram, and Twitter small, perhaps unknown, businesses have the means necessary to promote and spread awareness of their existence, for little to no charge. What an amazing tool! These businesses can then connect and learn from others in their arena and continue to grow and become known. The degree of separation has dropped and continues to drop, significantly!

Through the powers of social media there is not one single person who should ever feel alone. Despite your interests, genetics, etc. you have the ability to connect with others similar to you. Seriously. Several years ago my husband decided to create the group 'Ben Potters of the World Unite' and if there is a Ben Potter on Facebook, and they know the group exists, they're in it. Why? Because they are the Ben Potters of the world, and they've united. I don't know, I am not a Ben Potter. There are several of the other BP's that he has made more personal connections with over the years, whether through common interests or the simple fact that most of us are now at an age where we are becoming parents and are blowing up news feeds with pictures, video, and statuses all about our little monsters.

Pinterest is a fabulous way to sort, organize, and share all your creative thoughts, recipes, DIY projects, etc., without having to mess with paper clippings and filling your house with peg boards. My goodness, can you imagine if you had to pin everything in real life that you have virtually? Not only would it take significantly more time but what a mess!

What we have available to us is an amazingly diverse way in which to stay connected and be a positive influence in the lives of others.

The Bad

Obviously, social media takes time out of our day, significantly more time than we should be dedicating to something that, in all reality, we have, can, and at times should, live without. We spend so much time catching up on what is happening in other peoples lives that we miss what is happening in our own. Take time to unplug. Get home from work and put your phone away, you'll hear it should you actually get a phone call. Shock everyone when you're fully present at family events in place of playing on your phone.

Like most everyone else I know, I have the Bible app on my phone, and it truly is fantastic. How is this bad? I can remember seeing my parents reading their Bibles as a child, there was no question in what they were doing. Seeing them reading made me want to read mine too, so I would. What example am I setting to my children if they never see me reading the actual Book? There is no way for them to know if I'm reading the Bible, playing Words With Friends, or going pin crazy on Pinterest, and that's not OK with me. I want them to grow up seeing me with my nose buried deep in scripture, hopefully inspiring them to do the same.

The Ugly

Social media tends to get a bad rap, especially from those who, perhaps, don't truly understand its purpose. Of course, just like everything else, this reputation stems from those who misuse/abuse the system. You know the type of person I'm talking about. There is a time and place for social media; places such as work, church, driving, family meals, dates, weddings, funerals, etc. are not it.

Along with there being a time and place, there are also appropriate topics of discussion and inappropriate topics. Freedom of speech is an amazingly important and beautiful thing, there are those that take this freedom way too far though. Angry with your husband? Take it up with him and leave us out of it. Having family drama? The world doesn't need to know, focus on how to resolve the issues and love on your family. 

One of the worst things I have seen social media provide is the ability for people to put their noses where they have no business being. You are entitled to your opinion, however, when you start stating your personal opinions as if they are factual... then we have problems, potentially, big problems. 

Whatever happened to "if you can't say something nice, say nothing at all"? Speaking the truth in love doesn't mean you can say whatever you want with a smile on your face or by the addition of a heart emoji. We are instructed to restore that person gently not advertise what we feel they have done wrong to all our social media buddies. How much less drama there would be if people would realize that not everything needs to be said! Not everyone needs to stay in your life either, we are given clear direction as to how to handle those who have sinned/sinned against us, and it does not involve lengthy status updates. 

Let's all make the decision to be more present in our own lives, in our own present. We only get one here and now, let's not spend all of it browsing social media.