July 9, 2012

A Girl Raising Girls

I just read this article from the parenting section of the Huffington Post. It's all about the ways some dads said their perception of women has changed since having a daughter.

At first, I thought about emailing it to my husband. Maybe he'd read it and think about the topic and how it might apply to himself. Not that he needs to, he's a fantastic husband and father, but I'm always lacking in adult interaction and it might make for an interesting conversation, at the very least.

Yeah it's a great question to ask men. Stereotypes are everywhere and men get typed as being womanizers a lot of the time. So what happens to those womanizers after they settle down and end up with a little sugar, spice and everything nice in their life? If you want to find out what those dads said, check out the slide show at the bottom of the article. It's definitely an interesting read.

But what about the way women view themselves? Several months ago there seemed to be a war being raged on Facebook (where else?) about whether some women dress too immodestly or whether men treat women likes pieces of meat. The truth is that both sides of the argument are probably true to an extent. If you're a Pinterest-lurker like I am (I hardly ever pin, but I definitely browse!) you've probably seen the text image that wonders the question, "if more women acted like ladies would more men be prompted to behave like gentlemen?" and I feel like this topic is a never ending cycle. It's a classic chicken or egg. And I don't have an answer for you on this one.

The Huffington Post article got me thinking about how having daughters has changed my own perceptions of women and motherhood.

Before: Women have to fight in this world to get wherever men are. If women fight hard enough, they'll be respected. If they fall short, they'll be objectified.
After: Work as hard as you can ladies, toward whatever goals you have set for yourself. Don't worry about how men see you. How do you see you? That's what matters.

Before: Being a woman is challenging. Physically. Emotionally. Mentally.
After: I still believe my "before". However, I've learned that whatever challenges you are facing, other women are experiencing them too. Maybe not every woman experiences every challenge that you face, but don't isolate yourself by feeling sorry for yourself and believing you are alone. Reach out for help and don't be proud.

Before: All women who have children and choose to work outside of the home while raising their family are strong and impressive.
After: Not all women who have children and choose to work outside of the home while raising their family are strong and impressive.

Before: Being a SAHM is easy-peasy. Spending the day in your own home running your household exactly how you want it must be incredibly rewarding.
After: Being a SAHM is the hardest job I've ever had. I can't speak for others, but for myself, it's lonely, it's tedious, it's thankless, and yields minimal rewards. And I love it.

Before: Little girls are not gross like little boys are.
After: This is completely false. They can be just as disgusting.

Before: Everything you do with your first child (children, in my case) will be wrong. You'll make so many mistakes you'll think you're lucky your child survives past infancy. But at least you'll learn in time for your second.
After: False. You will do so many things right. You'll find many reasons to be proud of yourself. And the things you do wrong aren't all that wrong. They might feel like it, but most of the time you really can't do anything at all, and that's what feels wrong.

Before: You'll never get mad at your kids because you remember how your childhood was and you'll never let yourself become THAT parent.
After: You'll be amazed at how much you can actually dislike your children. It's that whole, I-love-you-but-I-don't-like-you phenomenon. Don't feel guilty, just let it pass. You'll like your kids again after a while.

Before: Women are amazing and you can do it all!
After: Women are amazing, but you can't do it all.

Before: Be there for your kids. They'll need you.
After: Be there for your kids, they'll need you. But you'll need them too. It's your job as their parent to raise them to take on the world, know how to be supportive as friends, siblings, and children, and how to be empathetic, sympathetic, kind, and loving.

Before: Life is short. Eat dessert first.
After: Dinner first. Dessert later.

Before: Being a mommy is the best feeling in the world.
After: Being a mommy is the best feeling in the world!

For me, not everything changed after I had kids. Some things did though, and I've had to learn how to be harder on myself without being too hard on myself, how to balance family-time and me-time, how to connect with my husband and my children at the same time, AND how to connect with my husband and my children separately. Being a woman is an amazing hat to wear, and I hope to live a life that shows my daughters how wonderful it truly is. I think it takes a little bit of sugar, a lot of spice, and lots and lots of being nice to pull it off.

I've got an entire cabinet dedicated to spice...

July 7, 2012

Go-To Recipes

Everyone has recipes that are their go-to's. You know what I mean--staples. Something that you can whip up without really even thinking about it. Something that just hits the spot every time, satisfies all who crave, and leaves your head (and belly) inflated with the belief that you are a master-chef....and maybe you are! 

I'm not a master-chef, per se, but I do enjoy cooking, and I'm proud of the recipes I throw together that feed my family and provide the satisfaction that only food can bring. Admit it people, there is a special spot in your soul for food (at least, there should be!) and no amount of love in the world can substitute! 

In this post I'll be sharing two of my go-to recipes. One is an easy-peasy chicken salad recipe, the other is a classic chocolate chip cookie recipe handed down from my mother to me, although I actually suspect this recipe has been in our family for quite a while, or at least that it has made its way to several branches of the Nelson family tree. 

Chicken Salad:

This chicken salad recipe is great. It has a great blend, great flavor, great texture, isn't too heavy on the calories, and is definitely awesome for summer time! It's crazy easy to prep ahead of time when you have a minute (say....like when your kids are napping!) and by the time the dinner hour rolls around the flavors have had amble time to combine into sultry awesomeness. I also like this recipe for just the opposite--it's equally awesome if you throw it together last minute on a whim or in a pinch. Everything in this recipe compliments everything else, and if a piece was missing, I think it would be noticed--and missed! It's just my basic go-to summer sandwich.

**Quick disclaimer on this recipe: some of these measurements are just guess-timates. I seriously just throw things together until it tastes right. Use your judgment, adjust to what you and your family like, and you'll find that this recipe will follow you anywhere.**

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded (I've tried cubing, and shredding most definitely works better in terms of holding the salad together)
4 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 cup crasins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I use walnuts when I'm not serving to my father, who is allergic!)
1 cup chopped red delicious apple
2 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup green onion, chopped
approx. 1/2 cup mayonnaise or plain yogurt
Onion powder and black pepper to taste (I estimate I use somewhere around 1/4 tsp onion powder but I treat it like salt and make sure I don't add too much!)

In a mixing bowl, combine the apples and the lemon juice (this will prevent the apples from browning throughout the existence of your salad). Mix in the chicken, celery, nuts, crasins, green onion, onion powder and black pepper. Add mayo by the spoonful, stirring after each addition, until it is well-spread (you're shooing for the consistency of a tuna salad). 

Serve well-chilled on your favorite bread (I most recently used a multi-grain bread we got from Costco, which I think has been my favorite pairing so far) between romaine or green-leaf lettuce leaves. 

Yield: 4 large sandwiches

And for dessert...

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies:

(Okay, so I know I've professed my hatred for baking many times, but this recipe is so easy and I do it so often that it doesn't feel like baking. Plus, there's no kneading involved, which means it doesn't involve a workout, and you do, in fact, consume more calories by eating these cookies than you burn by making them, which in my opinion is something that should be characteristic of a good treat!)

1 lb margarine (2 sticks), softened
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In mixing bowl, combine margarine and sugars. Beat with an electric mixer until well combined. Add vanilla and eggs. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. 

In a separate bowl, combine salt, baking soda and flour. Mix well. Add to sugar mixture and combine until well mixed. Add chocolate chips and stir until spread throughout cookie dough.

Spoon 1 Tbsp balls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-11 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and allow to cool.

Yield: 45 cookies

I feel as though most of the meals I make are go-to's in the sense that they tend to be simple, delicious, involve minimal prep work, and often provide substantial left-over's making for an easy night off from the kitchen the next day. These two, however, are a couple of my favorites, and I hope that if anyone tries them, you enjoy them!