Category Archives: Family

Recipe: Breakfast Salad

I don’t post a lot of recipes.  Mostly because I don’t consider myself a gourmet.  I do love to cook and I convince myself that I am creative in the kitchen.  But after watching Master Chef Jr. with my 10-year-old, I am, in no way, a chef.

This recipe has gotten a lot of buzz.  Salad for breakfast.  Sounds pretty disgusting even as I type it out.  Romaine, chicken, evoo, and balsamic?  No.  Thank goodness. This breakfast salad has exactly what you would eat in an omelette, just cold and in a bowl.

breakfastsalad

I like a good hearty salad.  So this one had to have a lot of texture to it.  I started with two handfuls of organic spinach.  I prefer organic spinach to non-organic because I think the flavor is stronger, kind of as it was meant to be.  I added 4 hardboiled organic egg whites.  Again, I always eat organic or free range eggs for the same reason.  They just taste better.  I also just use the whites since they are chock full of protein, contain no fat and no cholesterol.  Then I threw in about 1/8 cup of shredded cheddar cheese to add a bit more protein.  You don’t want to add too much cheese because it increases your fat and calories of the day, but add enough to taste.  The only other thing that I would’ve added would be some diced crispy bacon. I don’t buy bacon bits, but only use fresh bacon on my salads and didn’t have any on hand first thing in the morning. Top with the same ratio as the cheese.

For the dressing I use a simple honey mustard that I made from scratch:

1 part mustard

1/5 parts honey

2 parts evoo

1 part lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

It’s sweet and savory.  Perfect for first thing in the morning or for an early lunch.

I hope you enjoy your breakfast salad as much as I did!

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My baby is getting married!

OK, not really.  When I say “baby,” I’m referring to my youngest kiddo. And when I say “getting married,” I mean he’s pretending.  For a time when Gus was in preschool, he would frequently include in his day his plans for marriage.  Yes, he had outside time on the big toy, circle time in the classroom, and yet he still had time when he met with a wedding planner.  He would tell me about his future brides.  Yes, brides.  It was usually a different lucky lady each time he would tell me about his plans.  He even let me know that he was willing to take down any other suitors who stood in his way of future happiness. A friend of mine recently told me that her preschool son was involved in a similar situation at preschool, which led me to wonder, why do our preschoolers want to get married? With my experience in early childhood education and 16 years of parenting, I’ve come up with a list of why I think wedding bells are in our babies’ heads.

1.  Role-play.  One huge way that preschoolers learn is through role-play.  Listening, negotiating, and compromising are challenging for 4- and 5-year-olds. Though children at this age are still egocentric, or unable to think beyond their own needs, working with others helps them develop an awareness of differences in people around them. These experiences in preschool provide a foundation for learning how to solve problems and communicate with peers. Play also helps build positive leadership qualities for children who are naturally inclined to direct but must learn how to control their impulses.* Simply said, if your child loves to role-play, CONGRATULATIONS!  This is a great leadership quality and your kiddo knows how to communicate and problem solve!  All things needed to learn and grow.

2. Your baby wants to get married because he sees what a great partnership you have with your significant other.  You’ve built-in him a role model and leader that he strives to be.  So, pat yourself on the back!  Your marriage has had an effect on your baby that you should be proud of!

3.  Your child wants to include all of his friends in this process, leading to the need to “marry” several different kids.  When Gus first told me about his plans to marry a new girl each day, I was concerned that my sweet little boy was turning into a “player.” But after looking at the situation more carefully, he is concerned with involving all of his friends.  This basically means, he doesn’t want anyone to feel left out.  Especially once I found out that this is a common occurrence in his preschool classroom.  Everyone was included in this game in some way or another.

The marrying game was such a passing phase in his early childhood years.  Now that he is a big kindergartener, girls are still cute, but kissing and marrying is yucky.  So, enjoy the lovey-dovey phase because the next time it comes around, it won’t be a game.  But I’ll leave that to another post. My teenagers are just about there. *sigh*

*http://www.greatschools.org/parenting/social-skills/1180-play-in-preschool.gs

How to not be a Stage Mom. (This is for me, too)

A little background about my younger self.  When I was about 18, I told my mom that I wanted to act.  Yes, I was scared about what to expect, but that’s normal, right?  After several conversations, my mom, bless her heart, decided that I probably shouldn’t pursue acting.  Nerves, cost, failure were all reasons for her decisions.  And being the obedient daughter that I was, I concurred.  After all, my mom knew what was best for me.  So, I put my dreams on hold.

Fast forward 6 years.

At 24, I married my husband.  Not only did he encourage me to pursue my dreams, but pushed me onstage.  Although only performing in church productions for 3 years (OK, they were huge church productions involving audiences of nearly a thousand per show), I decided to take the plunge into community theatre.  GASP!  Yes, I was nervous.  “But if I didn’t do it now, when would I?  I mean, I’m already 28 years old!  I’m getting up there!”  (Now, at almost 40, this makes me chuckle.)  After several workshops, auditions, and call backs, I decided that acting wasn’t really my thing.  Yes, I loved it, but it was more work and less glamour than I thought.  My dreams of acting turned into merely day dreams.  But I was OK with it!  I tried.  I liked it for a minute.  Moving on.

Fast forward 8 years.

My oldest daughter, Audrey, was cast in her school’s production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as Charlie Bucket.  We were so excited for her!  Audrey had tried out for a few things at her new Jr. High and had not yet been successful.  But Audrey has a never-give up attitude.  Don’t ask me where she gets it.  People say it’s because of good parenting, but I’m not so sure.  I typically want to hide under my down comforter in my dark room if someone looks at me the wrong way at the gym.  But Audrey doesn’t stop.  She auditioned for this play hoping to get just a few minutes of stage time.  Her director saw something in her that, as of yet, no one had.

Of course, Audrey was a natural on stage.  She has a petite figure and a voice that hits the back of the theatre.  She was born BIG!  The stage is where Audrey wanted to be.  Forever. So, my husband and I decided that if this is what she wanted, we would support her.  A short 9 months later, she was on her way!

We did everything right.  We got head shots for her, an agent, and drove her to countless auditions, call backs, and performances.  Yes, we were the perfect stage parents!

At least that’s what I keep telling myself.  What you don’t know is that because I had a desire to once perform at a young age, I carry a lot of regret.  Yes, I did say that I was ready to move on from acting.  But what if I had started when I was only 12, like Audrey?  What if my mom let me get head shots and an agent.  Where would I be today?  Probably exactly where I am.  You see, Audrey has something that I didn’t have.

She carries a desire to perform.  She loves her craft.  The head shots and agent bookings are fun. But Audrey really doesn’t care about that.  She loves stepping into a role.  Becoming something that she isn’t.  Creating a whole world for a character.  Me?  I like the red carpet.  The cheers and flowers during final bows.  The glamour.

So, how do I not become a stage mom?  By being a mom.  By letting my daughter be what she was created to be.  If she decided to be a veterinarian, a gardener, or a lawyer, would I treat her any different?  My job is to support her, her dreams, and her goals.  Not mine.

I’m certainly not a perfect parent.  No one is.  But by being her mom, and not trying to live vicariously through her, Audrey can do whatever she wants.  It’s my job to love her, support her, keep believing in her, even when she doesn’t believe in herself.  That’s what moms do.

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My beautiful daughter, Audrey Montague

I just like to remind her that she promised me that first guest spot when she makes it to the Academy Awards.  Yes, I still like the glamour.

Out of tragedy.

There is typically one day out of my week that I am home by myself.  When all the kids go to school and I have the day off work.  Today is that day.  As I was doing my weekly decluttering and cleaning of my kids’ rooms, I couldn’t stop the tears that have been flowing since yesterday.

Yesterday, at about this time, a friend of mine received the call that no mother ever wants to hear.

Your son has been in an accident and airlifted to the hospital.

At that moment, the world stops.  Nothing else matters.

He was on his way to school.  And I can’t stop thinking about what the morning before the accident was like.  Did he eat his breakfast with his brother and sister like my kids do?  Did he leave a mess in his room like mine son does?  Did he kiss his mother good-bye or was everyone in a hurry, like my family?

As I cleaned up my boys’ room, I couldn’t help but stop, weep, and pray.  I prayed for my boys, thanking God that he has given them life and that I get to keep them here on earth with me. I prayed that they would be safe.  I prayed that I would be able to hold onto as many memories as my heart could keep.

I prayed for my friend who has already gone through horrific loss in her family.  I prayed that she would take comfort in knowing that her young son, who was taken far too soon from her, is now with his dad, who was taken just 6 years ago.  I prayed that she would remember how he smelled, how his voice sounded, and how he held his pencil when he did his homework.

I don’t understand such a horrific loss.  I don’t understand how one person can endure such pain.  I don’t understand why, out of tragedy, we realize how short our time with our kids is.

I will spend most of my day praying for all 4 of my kids and mourning the time that my friend lost with hers.

I will hold them tight when they get home.  I will cherish my time with them and try not to let life get in the way.  Time matters.  I just wish it wasn’t out of tragedy that I realize it.

These 4 are my life.

These 4 are my life.

For the first time in about 8 years….

I did a craft!  Notice the excitement in my tone?  That’s right, I, the most unsuccessful, least crafty mom you will ever meet, did a craft!  AND, not just one craft, but 3!

Now, this may not seem like a big deal to most mommies.  In fact, it’s pretty common within the mommy-community.  But like I said before, I have never been your typical SAHM mom.  Even when I was a SAHM with just two kids, the most I ever did was decorate cookies, and they were usually the Pillsbury ones that are already cut out with the frosting that looks like toothpaste (I cringe as I actually admit to that).  And I’m pretty genetically inclined to be crafty.  My mom was the macrame queen (yes, I grew up in the 70’s) and my sister could scrapbook and sew dresses in her sleep.

Being the not-so-crafty-mom, I learned a few lessons today:

1.  It’s OK if you don’t get it right the first time.  Just like anything there is a learning curve.  While some things come very easy to me (I can cook up a gourmet meal like nobody’s business using only ingredients that I have on-hand and never need a recipe), it is just fine if I struggle with a few things here and there.

2.  I am creative.  Maybe I’m not the mom the creates the fun things that go on Pinterest, but I can adapt anything to fit my personality and lifestyle.  And that still makes me feel like I have a teeny-tiny creative bone within me.

3.  I’m not, have never been, or ever will be the mom who can make a memory book, darn a sock, til the garden, and make a pot roast from scratch all before the kids get home from school.  Working outside the home gives me a little more of an excuse, but even when I was a SAHM, I didn’t do those things.  I’ve learned to accept it and focus on my positive mommy/wifey skills.  Besides, I can wear 3″ heels to a field trip and still keep up with twenty 12-year-olds with no problem!

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These are the Valentines that Autumn chose to make for her class party.

What are your strengths?  What can you do better than anyone you know?  Focus on those and be happy with what you do and are!  And maybe in the midst of it, try something new.  You never know what you can accomplish, even if you think you’d never be “that girl.”

You can always depend on the kindness of strangers.

We’ve all heard this expression over and over. But is it really true? Can strangers be more kind than expected? And what makes people want to help each other? I’ve had many first-hand experiences witnessing this very statement. I’ve had people pull off on the side of the freeway to help me change a flat tire. I’ve had people let me cut in line at the grocery store. I even had someone give me a diaper from one of their kids because I was out and didn’t have any to change my own child. Of course, that one benefited them, too. But I have the ultimate story of strangers going out of their way to help me when I needed it most.

Last October, all 6 of us Montagues and our friends with a family of 4, ventured on a road trip together to Disneyland. This is not a rarity in our family, but having more kids than most people, we do draw a bit more attention and are a lot rowdier than most. Especially as they grow older and bigger, we are even more of a spectacle than we used to be. Our younger kids think they are as old as our older kids, and our older kids think they are as old as us, so many discussions and differences come into play when we are in an environment where opinions run rampant. Which brings me to my point.

My youngest son and child, August, decided that he’d had enough of waiting around for us to figure out what we as a group were going to do next and ventured out on his own. Now, since he is the baby of the family, he does get overlooked sometimes. OK, a lot of the time. But being the independent 3-year-old that he is, he took matters into his own hands and wandered off by himself to pursue his own fun. And being that he is the overlooked baby of the family, it took us a while before we finally realized that he wasn’t with us. About 5 minutes, to be exact, until we noticed that he was gone. My baby had disappeared.

So many thoughts ran through my mind. I was certain that someone had picked him up and walked off with him. I just wanted to yell for everyone to stop what they were doing and find my baby. I had visions of being a Monday night movie of the week where one minute your child is playing and your whole world is bliss then goes crumbling to pieces the next. Everything felt like it was moving in slow-motion and my voice felt silent.

My husband ran around frantically, looking in lines, in restrooms (including the women’s, but that’s a different story), in restaurants and my Gus was no where. After about 5 minutes of my world coming to an end, I got the brilliant idea to ask security for help. Looking back, I’m not sure why that wasn’t my first reaction, but until this moment, even though I had come close many times, I had never actually lost a child.

The security guard asked a series of questions. What color is his hair? Blonde. Eyes? Glasses. How old is he? 3. What’s he wearing? A shirt that says “My Mom Rocks.” Yeah, sure I do. But as much as security helped, and they definitely helped more than I can put into words, I was more than surprised at the many people who came up to me in my panic and asked how they could help.

People I had never seen in my life. A woman in a wheel chair. A mom with her kids. I experienced true kindness like I never had before. And I’m not sure that I ever will again. Even as we were being ushered by security to where August had been found, people along the way were pointing to where he was. Encouraging us. Even applauding as I scooped him up and held on to him for dear life. True and real kindness. Kindness that I will probably never again experience in my life.

The Happiest Place on Earth remained, that day, the happiest. I wish I could personally thank each person that helped to locate my son. Because I’m so thankful. Kindness of strangers does exist. In all capacities. In all locations.

On a side note, after we found August and asked why he wandered away, his response was “I didn’t. I was going on the ride.” He knew exactly where he was the whole time. If that’s not the attitude of a fourth child, I don’t know what is.

Looking good vs. feeling good.

In my never-ending pursuit to have a body like Brooke Burke, I do a lot of daydreaming followed by endless planning.  What if I had a killer bod?  Would my life be easier?  Would I feel better?  And how would such a feat even begin to take place?  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m thankful for the many people in my life that let me off the hook with various excuses. I have 4 kids.  I’m very busy.  As I get older, my metabolism decreases.  I have a sweet tooth.  OK, that last one was my own excuse.  But when does my attitude go from wanting to look good to just being happy about feeling good?

About a year ago, I decided my family needed a change in our lifestyle habits.  We starting eating a primarily whole diet.  Basically what this means is, nothing comes out of a box or a package.  I started looking at ingredients in everything and tried to cut out a lot of unnecessary preservatives.  We eat more fruits and veggies than we used to.  Snack on high protein foods.  It’s been a fairly easy transition, mostly by me and my 2 youngest kids.  My husband and older kids really liked the unhealthy me, but are learning to adjust to our new eating habits.  So here I am, asking my family to live a healthier lifestyle so that we can all feel better.  But am I doing it for me or them?  Looking good vs. feeling good.  But eating is just the beginning of my planning and dreaming of a Hollywood body.

Enter, the gym.  2 years ago, I joined a local gym.  I love it.  I really love it when I have a vacation coming up and I have something to work for.  I don’t love it when it’s pouring down rain and my house is a disaster and it would be easier just to stay at home, in my jammies, and clean.  Since I live in Seattle, you can guess which happens more often than not.  So again, I’m faced with the dilemma of looking good vs. feeling good.  Fortunately, going to the gym results in the same thing.  Feeling good and looking good, right?

Here’s where things really start to irritate me.  I eat healthy.  Really healthy.  Healthier than I ever have.  I work out.  A lot.  I try to be active everyday.  Luckily, I have a job that allows me to be on my feet most of the time.  When I’m not at work, I’m pretty restless either in or outside my home.  And guess what happens?  Nothing.  I’m still my same size jeans that I was 2 years ago.  I still break into a steady sweat after being on my feet for 10 minutes.  So nothing’s changed, right?  Not quite.

I may not look any different, but I feel different.  I have more energy and confidence.  I have less tummy aches and muscle pain.  I sleep better at night and wake up easier in the morning.  I may not have the toned and tight body that I want, but what I do have is a body that I feel good about.  So here’s where feeling good wins.  And don’t get me wrong, if I had a choice, the bikini body of my dreams would be my preference.  But for now, I’ll stick with being happy and feeling good and strive to keep making it look better, while feeling great.