Thanksgiving in July? 

My parents are moving, so they gave away some of the frozen meat from their freezer that they weren’t going to get around to eating before they move. Among other things, I got dibs on a turkey! Soon after, my brother and sister-in-law came to visit and we came up with an awesome plan: everyone does Christmas in July, but we were doing to do Thanksgiving in July! We already had the turkey and enough in the house to make all the sides we wanted (or could fit in my small kitchen). In the end, we made turkey, roast potatoes, parsnips, and carrots, my sister-in-law’s family stuffing recipe, cranberry sauce, the fancy and time consuming gravy that usually only gets busted out on special occasions, and rice pudding for dessert (sorry folks, didn’t go all out and do pie this time around). It was all so good, and we may or may not have all had to change into our stretchy pants afterwards. 

However, once our impromptu Thanksgiving was over, and our many loads of dishes were cleaned and put away, I had to deal with that dreaded after Thanksgiving question: What do I do with all that leftover turkey?? My usual go-to, turkey stew, was out because July in Texas is just too hot for that nonsense. We had turkey tacos, turkey on salads, turkey sandwiches, and warmed up leftover turkey dinners. Finally, I found this simple recipe for turkey tetrazzini, and it was a hit! Bonus points: it’s a one pot meal. The only alteration I made to the recipe was adding ground pepper to the top of each plateful before eating it. This would also be good with leftover chicken. I forgot to garnish with parsley. I was just too excited to try it!


Even after all my effort to use up my leftover turkey, I still have some! It’s like it’s regenerating while I sleep. What are your go-to recipes for leftover turkey? 

Summer Routine

Even though the first day of summer was technically a couple of days ago, it’s been full on summer for a while now where we live. We’ve gotten into a pretty good routine to beat the heat: mornings are at the park (preferably with a splash pad), 

pool (bonus points if it looks like a beach), 

or backyard with kiddie pools.

Have a dance party in the car while waiting for the AC to do its thing and cool off our oven on wheels.

Oh, and don’t forget the snack. 

After our snack, we nap and have indoor play time while the heat is at its worst (I live in the south, so it gets pretty toasty). 

Throw in a homemade popsicle at some point, and you have yourself a petty typical summer day for our family. 

We’ve had a couple of staycation adventures (more on those later), but we’ve been sticking to a pretty consistent routine to beat the heat. How are you keeping cool this summer? 

Summer

After an unseasonably soggy start to June, summer is finally here!

Luckily, our normal 100+ degree days haven’t started up yet, so we’ve been able to enjoy being outside. 

We’re looking forward to lots of barbecuing in our garden, lots of parks and splash pads, buying fresh fruit and vegetables from the farmers market (and maybe growing some of our own), and enjoying the company of family and friends. 

What are your plans for the summer? How do you stay cool, even when the heat ramps up? 

 18 Months

I haven’t done an update on Owen in a while! I was originally planning on doing an 18 month update at the beginning of the month, but then disaster struck: he came down with a nasty stomach virus the night he turned 18 months. My poor little guy. 

He threw up for about a day straight, then had a day where he just slept for the majority of it, and then we started to slowly get better and eat. 
Soon after he got over being sick, he had his 18 month appointment, and we learned that he lost weight. However, he’s been working really hard on gaining it all back recently!


He now says roughly 25 words – newer ones include bug (“boo-deh”), cup, yeah (“dahh”), and yum (“mmm”). He also likes to do animal sounds and point to body parts when we ask where they are. He really likes trucks (always) and animals, and he’s getting more fine motor skills down, like undoing latches on his puzzles or dipping his food into a sauce before eating it. He has also been enjoying learning activities on the days we have to stay inside due to weather. 


Outside will always be his favorite though. Whether it’s playing in our own backyard, 

going to his first ever amusement park,

or hanging out at the park.   

Owen’s learning so fast, he constantly amazes me. He’s such a sweet, happy kid, and he’s such a pleasure to be around!

Work-Life Balance

Things have been a bit rough around here recently, and I don’t just mean the more normal “toddler is teething and I didn’t get much sleep” variety, although, of course, that happened too. I’ve been trying to keep a positive spin on everything, even during Owen’s nasty stomach virus when I was doing more laundry than I think I did the entire previous month. There were still silver lining moments. 

However, there’s one thing that has been eating away at me, and I just cannot shake it. I’ve always known that the profession my husband and I chose for ourselves is extremely time-intensive. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the beast. You’re out the door by 6:15 at the latest, and you’re lucky if you get home by 7:00 or 8:00. Not exactly ideal for raising kids. 

Recently, my husband’s hours have been even more demanding than usual due to things outside of his control. We literally have not seen him for more than a couple of hours a week for a month or more. I wish I was kidding. Owen is even starting to be slightly weary of his dad, which breaks my heart. 

While our job is, unfortunately, an extreme example of the lack of work-life balance in America, I can’t help but notice it in other people’s jobs too. Whatever happened to coming home to dinner on the table at 5:00? – Granted, that’s a very 1950s stereotype. Why is it no longer the norm for people to be home by dinner time? For whatever reason, it has become expected of employees to work longer hours than the past. It is also frowned upon to take personal days or call in sick…even if you really are sick. And vacation days? I know people who pride themselves on having years worth stored up that they’ll never use because of their “work ethic.”

Why are we, as a country, so work obsessed that we allow it to interfere with our personal lives, wellbeing, and families? Why do people now equate their livelihood as who they are instead of just what they do? A job should allow you to raise your family the way you want to, not interfere with being with your family. A job should allow you to enjoy life, not suck the life out of you. 

While my family members, who live in other countries, still work hard, they are able to spend much more time with their loved ones and go on vacations more often. They also seem to be happier overall. They’re constantly appalled at the hours my husband pulls (and the hours I used to pull). Why do we, collectively as a society, do this to ourselves? And how can we make it stop? 

Rain, Rain, Go Away

For the past two weeks, it seems like we’ve been having storm, after storm, after storm. We would get maybe a day off, and then the nasty wet weather came back. Usually, I enjoy rainy days. It’s so relaxing curling up with a good book and a hot cup of tea…unless you have a toddler who wants to be outside all the time. Then, it’s a nightmare.

I’m not necessarily opposed to going outside while its lightly raining if Owen has on his boots and I have an umbrella. I’m even fine with him doing a little puddle jumping. It’s when it’s actively storming that I will not allow him to go outside, and we have major issues. It doesn’t matter how many activities I have planned for him or how long we play trucks inside, he still would rather be outside. If anyone has any tricks on how to appease a little outdoorsman during stormy weather, I’m all ears. We have another coming on Tuesday.

However, for now, we’re enjoying our sunny days being here at last. We’ve been outside constantly, regardless of the fact that all the rain has turned our yard into a jungle. Yesterday, it was such beautiful weather, we decided to go to the park and have a picnic dinner to celebrate. The way I see it, we have three more days to soak up this sun – with sunscreen and a hat, of course. That poor child has my fair skin – before fighting the good fight again on Tuesday.

Why So Busy?

When my family moved to the US, I remember my mother being surprised at how busy our classmates were outside of school. I had a very good friend, in particular, who was in a sport, took voice lessons, acted in local productions, and did extra tutoring extracurricularly. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think I had a pretty active childhood as well. I didn’t just laze around on the couch all day once school was done. I started ice skating in late elementary school, I started band in 6th grade, and I was in school sports 7th and 8th grade. It was an ebb and flow. I did all three things in 7th grade, had to quit ice skating due to costs in 8th grade, and then was forced to quit sports altogether for band in 9th grade. After that, it was all about the music for me.

However, some kids seem to be constantly on the go since before they can walk! I have friends who, like me, are young mothers, and their baby is going to multiple classes a week. Whereas, my son has library time on Wednesday and that’s it. The rest is outside play or occasionally having a playdate with a friend. I would love to be able to afford some swim classes since we live in the south where pools are everywhere, but I can’t imagine being as busy as some of my friends for such a little one. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. It just seems exhausting to me.

Then there are parents to the older children. I’ve been told that they don’t really see their kids much at all because they’re constantly at a rehearsal, practice, lesson, or asleep. I remember my mother when I was that age saying about my friend, “she just does way too much!” I think I agree.

I’m all for kids being in activities. Both my husband and I were growing up. However, if that activity interferes with the kids having time to go outside and play with their friends or just have some time to relax, I think it has gone too far. The other day, our newspaper had an insert called the “Parents’ Guide to Summer.” It was a thick list of camps, classes, and other events to enroll kids in over the summer. It was bigger than the actual newspaper! 

 Why do we, as parents, feel the need to keep our kids constantly busy? I understand that we want to give them every opportunity we can, and we want them to learn as much as possible. However, when is it too much? Because my experiences come from two different cultures, I’m not sure if this is a cultural thing, a generational thing, or if this is just modern expectations on parents. I do know that it seems exhausting and expensive.

I’m rebelling from the constant business parents are being told is “normal.” My son’s life will not be scheduled from dawn to dusk. I like to think that we’re a little more old school with how we are raising our son. He plays outside…a lot. He goes to a free story time once a week to socialize, outside of his normal play dates with buddies. I think, especially in this case, simpler is better. 

     

What are your experiences with this? I would love to hear what you experienced growing up or your opinions as to why we feel the need to sign our kids up for so many activities. You can be on either side (pro-busy or anti-busy). Everyone’s opinions are welcome!