Thursday, October 2, 2014

Where can you find me?

naturallyinprogress.wordpress.com
Naturally In Progress blog
It's been busy around here, what with back-to-school and all. But lately, even more than just back-to-school has kept me busy. Soon after the start of the school year, I started a new protocol to work on an autoimmune condition that I have. I've been sharing my experience at another blog I started called Naturally In Progress.  This has been a long time coming, but in actuality, this was probably the best time for me to do it. God just knows :)

I'd love if you followed me over there too while I document what I'm doing, and how I'm doing. I can't believe I'm through the first 6 weeks and am happy to report I've done so with little incident. It's working!

Hope all is well in your corner of the world and Happy October. I officially declare that fall decor can come out.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What I'm going to miss most about summer...




My inner Minnesotan child wouldn't believe it, but our family officially went back to school earlier this week. Up north, it was not uncommon to start school the day after Labor Day. I was in shock when I went to college and I had to report down to school mid-August!  We didn't get out of high school until the first week of June, so where went my summer??

Well, getting out early May in college won me over -- summer started early! And now that Mia's on a August-May schedule, I'm down with the program.



But our summer has now come and gone, and here are the things I will miss:

1. Nearly weekly pool visits.  Once our swimming lessons went into effect, we started taking the kids to the pool nearly every week, and sometimes more than once a week.  Splash pad, waterslide, jumping in with floaties on -- we had a great time and tried to make the most of our local community pool! The kids even got in some sunbathing too, as you can tell...


2. Doing what we wanted, when we wanted. Kids needed a haircut? Alright, let's go! Why not grab an iced latte while I wait? Wanna go see the matinee of Planes: Fire & Rescue? Yes, please! Not having to work around a school schedule was liberating.


seeing family in TN
cousins playing in early morning in NC
packing for the beach was so easy -
pastels & white all the way! #type1
Southern Outer Banks, NC, we loved you!
3. Packing for and taking our trips to the beach in North Carolina in June and seeing family & friends in AL, MO, and TN in July. Our kids got to experience new places -- the Busch stadium in STL, the Atlantic Ocean in NC, and spend time with family we don't get to see very often, not to mention celebrate a great-grandmother's 100th birthday! I was so glad to also see some of my friends in different states--it was so good to reconnect and spend time together--really, truly good for the soul! Also, wouldn't you know that a perk of learning my type also allowed me to pack better? Everything just "matched"!




It's almost hard for my mom-brain to believe this,
but sometimes we went on two dates a week!
What were we thinking!? :P
4. Going on dates! Since we didn't have deadlines or super tight schedules, Greg & I were able to take advantage of our college-aged babysitter who was "off" for the the summer and schedule lots of on-the-spot dates. I do not take that time for granted!











5.  Lots of Stroller Strides -- even in the humid Florida heat.  Our Summer get fit challenge really challenged me by getting out of bed in time to get there...but it wasn't too early that I still couldn't "sleep in" a bit. ;)

6.  And for as on-the-go as we were, also having downtime to do stuff like this:
Watch the World Cup or a Rays game, or even possibly go overboard on reruns of House Hunters. Hey, I'm just sayin'!


Now that we'll be back to a bit of a more normal schedule, I can feel myself gradually getting back into the groove.  And I won't lie, it felt good to pull up to that school Tuesday morning, not just for my child, but also for me.  It'll still be a while before it really feel like fall in Florida, so I'll continue to hold onto the last remnants of summer while finding my new pace this school year. That splash pad is still calling my name!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Delicious & Easy Pulled Pork

Having been married to a Tennessee boy for almost 7 years (next Monday!), learning how to make a good pulled pork has been essential.  I'm not gonna lie -- I enjoy it too!  I recently learned that I have an "allergy" to beef (this has flabbergasted me!), so I've been pulling together all my non-beef recipes I have to make sure good protein recipes are in the rotation.  This is definitely one of our favorites and I give ALL credit for the delicious dry rub mixture from Kevin & Amanda's Perfect Pulled Pork recipe.

Delicious & Easy Pulled Pork

Ingredients:
4-7lb Boston Butt OR Pork Shoulder Roast (with OR without bones is fine)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar (optional)

Mix the dry rub all together in a small bowl, rub it generously all over the pork shoulder/boston butt, even into the creases. Any dry rub that is left over can be used to season the pork after it's cooked.

After you massage in the dry rub, refrigerate the pork for 4 hours up to overnight.  (Sometimes when I am in a hurry I skip this! Still turns out fine!)

Then, toss pork with the layer of fat on TOP in the slow-cooker on high for 8 hours.  After 8 hours, shred with two forks, and if necessary, add more of the remaining dry rub to season.  Used reserved juices to moisten the meat.  

Enjoy!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer, blessed summer!

I have been in the Sunny Sunshine State for almost 13 years now...and have spent most of my summers since 2001 down here, trying to duck the late afternoon thunderstorms that are so characteristic of Florida.  When I was in college & grad school, summer didn't mean much to me here because it was just hot, hot, hot and I was either working or in classes in the cool A/C.  When we got married, I was unemployed for a time and so summer meant sort of sitting on my bum watching ridiculous videos on YouTube, scanning website for meal planning ideas, and trying to figure out how to make an errand to the grocery store seem exciting (time for a new spice, alright!! this pyrex glass container is on clearance? score!)

Once we had kids, though, summers in Florida were somewhat like torture.  All things in good time, I know, and Florida has the benefit of having extremely mild winters and I live for the days between November and April. They are mostly pure bliss, whereas I know the rest of the country is bunkering up for the umpteenth snow storm (been there, done that -- did I mention I grew up in Minnesota? I get it, and I survived, and I thought no different of myself until I started living down here).

Why were summers in FL torture? When your friends anywhere north of the Florida-Georgia line (with windows down and cruisin', no doubt) think of summer they think of being outside all day, running through the sprinklers, playing in the kiddie pool, running inside for Kool-Aid and then running back outside to play some more.  That is just not quite as...easy here.  It's hot. It's HUMID. And it might be raining.  And I don't have a backyard pool (which is totally okay).  So instead we try to find fun "indoor" activities that don't involve 17 episodes of Angelina Ballerina on repeat.  I, again, try to find the fun in running errands to the dry cleaners or Target (ooh, I wonder what's marked down on clearance this time...will it be burt's bees chapstick or 77 packages of applesauce?! Excitement pours out of my skin like delicate ladylike perspiration).  It's a season, and this too passes.



Summers back then were for shopping, learning electric guitar, extra trips to the library for impending early childhood literacy, and staying cool at the splash pad at Busch Gardens at all costs. (Photos courtesy of summer 2011).

However, this year, we've hit a milestone.  A major milestone. For one, both my children are mobile. Obviously this has been the norm for Mia for quite some time, and Gabe was mobile last summer too, but this year he's really mobile and more self-sufficient and not every outing requires a huge diaper bag and major ensemble this year.  I am actually using a cross-body bag/purse for most outings instead of a backpack or weighed-down shoulder bag, and I am loving this freedom.

pool, jump, repeat
Secondly, both of my kids took swimming lessons this spring for 6 weeks, and Mia is doing pretty well, and Gabe has gotten way more comfortable with getting in the water (he's an "earth" boy--I think he'll be happy around trees & mountains someday as opposed to the water), and he's good with having a puddle jumper on.

Thirdly, thanks to Stroller Strides, we have now found a little community within our community of mamas & friends who have access to our very wonderful neighborhood pool & splash pad, so we have pool parties like once a week.  Guests can come too, and we often invite non-residents, even though they have to pay a tiny fee to get in with us.  (We're talking like $5.)

And since my kids are more comfortable in the pool, not to the point where I'm not keeping an eye on them, but to the point that I can actually look at another person in the eye besides my own child, these outings to the pool are actually fun instead of stress-inducing!  It's taken 5 summers to get to this point but sometimes you have to know where you've been to fully appreciate where you are!

So I am going to enjoy my summer to the fullest and oh, wait, mail's here, hold on a second...


Lands' End, what have you done?!  Are you trying to murder my joy? My summer sunshine? It is not time to hit the books, my friends.  Yes, we are trying to retain some of Mia's PreK knowledge but no, no, no, it is not time for backpacks.  It's not time for freshly sharpened pencils, as perfect and delicious as they are. It's time for summer. Last time I checked July 4 was three days ago, when we were covering our ears from the sonic booms of our neighborhood fireworks and eating watermelon and smelling like mango because somehow my organic sunscreen is scented as such (from the essence of pure organic mangos, no doubt).  IT'S SUMMER.

Give me a few more weeks of my freedom. Sure, go on, do what you need to do to "survive as a business," and send thousands of moms into a frenzy that their child will not have the perfect monogrammed backpack this year, but please, please, let me have my July.  IT'S JULY.  Summer officially started 'bout 2 weeks ago.  You can call me August 1. I won't answer. So you can leave a message with full details about what I need to buy, and then I will. Probably from Target.  Which I hear has already proclaimed their back-to-school madness as well. Angry tears.  Minneapolis, you're getting a call from me.  Regardless.  I will enjoy my family and this time, in the words of Olaf, in SUMMERRRRRRRR!!!!!
I'll be a happy [mom] in SUMMERRRRRR!!
photo credit: http://bit.ly/1oC1NqV


PS: You know I love Lands' End. I practically grew up in about half their catalogue. I'm surprised my mom isn't somehow on the board of directors. She might be indirectly responsible for their success. So this playful tongue-in-cheek diatribe really hopefully doesn't come as a slight to them, because I heart what they do, just...not yet.  Said in love lest some Lands' End social media person thinks I'm trying to take them down, because, I'm not.

PPS: Now go on and enjoy your summer like you should!!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Milestones


Yesterday Mia turned 5. Half a decade we've experienced with that little girl and I can't imagine what the next 5 years will feel like. Birthdays are awesome and this week has been a big week for our kids as they've moved into the same room and are now bunking up (!) and the cherry on top was Mia's super fun pool party with her little girlfriends and family :D
bunk beds!! *exact arrangement TBD*

In honor of Mia's 5th birthday, I wanted to share 5 funny Mia videos:

5.
Mia the performer, Gabe the DJ from Megan Ciampa on Vimeo.

4.
Mia eats fries from Megan Ciampa on Vimeo.

3.
Mia & the Bible from Megan Ciampa on Vimeo.
(She sounds just like Becky Cawthon, who was her bible class teacher at the time!)

2.
Mia & Braden drive from Megan Ciampa on Vimeo.

1. Might want to get the tissues ready...

Mia's First Year from Megan Ciampa on Vimeo.