Blog Posts

general, life

A bit of open-minded thinking never hurt anyone

Today it might seem I am rambling more than usual.

Can I be honest for a minute?

I know everyone is “entitled” to it, but truthfully; very few things in life aggravate me more than another person’s one sided, the world owes me, my way or the highway, black and white opinions. Particularly when it feels personally directed.

You DON’T know me.

You know the pieces I have shared, the parts I have allowed you to see, and the opinions you have derived from those. We all curate parts of ourselves for public viewing. You don’t know about the events that I have dealt with, the choices that shaped me into the person I am today, or how I got here.

You don’t know that if I had taken the easy road and followed that chapter in the psychology textbook, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.j_murphyquote

I chose the opposite path. The harder path. The road less traveled. It wasn’t always easy, but I did it. I am a relatively private person and I have never really been one to be railroaded. I was often referred to as headstrong, independent, obstinate, strong willed, or stubborn.

I spent my teens, twenties and most of my thirties dodging opinions and criticism, feeling the need to prove myself…Proving I could fit in and choosing a lot of the wrong people to befriend when I was young. (Do you ever really fit in as a tween or teenager anyway?) Protecting myself in the only ways I knew how, because there was nobody to protect me. Proving that I didn’t need anyone and letting go of several good people that I should have valued more. Proving that I could make peace with my childhood. Refusing to self-destruct. Proving I was worthy of love. Proving that being independent doesn’t mean I’m a bitch. Proving I wasn’t “just another pretty face”. Proving I wouldn’t live my life angry. Proving that I could be a young mom, a wife, and do them both well. Proving I would not allow alcohol or drugs to consume me, the way they had consumed several people in my life. (Honest and very humble horn toot: I have bad genetics with regard to drugs and alcohol, so I never took the risk. I have never tried drugs and with the exception of a margarita on my 21st birthday, and a few sips of champagne at our wedding, I stopped drinking at 18.) Proving that I could learn how not to repeat past mistakes.

Proving I am a good person with good intentions.

I do not expect anyone to abandon their personal convictions, but I value open-minded thinking and empathy. So while I respect the idea that we are all entitled to an opinion, if you are only interested in your own, I ask that you kindly stop talking. Listen. Listen and try to hear.

Bill Bullard said, “Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.”

That passage speaks to me in a way no other has. Ever.

What you discuss within your personal space is your prerogative. Outside of those walls, the world isn’t black and white. There are circumstances you know nothing about, things that have happened and are still happening to the people around you. e_rooseveltquoteShaping those people. Your own circumstances and choices have shaped you. Shape has a different meaning than define.

You might consider looking it up.

Who are we to make another person feel as though they aren’t enough, based on opinions derived from what we see on the outside.

We need to understand that our opinions are the product of our personal experiences. There is no personal growth when we hold on to our opinions and believe them to be the only possible truth.

There will be times when our personal experiences are the truth, but we must make the conscious choice to try to understand this world from other people’s perspectives. To be open to knowledge and growth. If we do not open ourselves to knowledge and #empathy, we risk ignorance, and sadly ignorance just breeds more ignorance.

Forward movement is one of my personal themes for 2017. Part of my forward movement is continuing to acknowledge that I no longer allow space for anyone who makes me feel as though I am not enough. I love to see people succeed. When I give, I don’t keep score. I am a fan of quiet contemplation. If I say that I envy you, stop and take a moment to listen. I promise you it’s not in the way you might think.

Envy:  verb (used with object), envied, envying. To regard (a person or thing without malice) with envy: He envies you for your hard-earned success. I envy your writing ability.

Do not make the mistake of thinking I envy who YOU are, or your material possessions. I envy the ease in which you make decisions, or your ability to consistently live with a carefree nature. I will not purposely place myself in anybody’s crosshairs, but I will advocate for myself loudly when forced. I have learned to speak my personal truths gently, because I know what it’s like to be misunderstood, or not to be heard at all. If my attempts to be genuine aren’t taken at face value, I’m not malevolent or angry, I just change the amount of space I allow that person to occupy in my life.

I know who I am. I have worked long and hard to become the person I am today and today is what matters. Happily, I am still evolving.

-Kim

dessert

Dessert: Cherry Pie Bars

Happy 4th to everyone!

I know it’s not Friday, but I just needed to share this recipe in time for the holiday tomorrow.

We hosted a dinner over the weekend and I wanted to create the desserts myself. Apple pie and brownies were already on the menu, but I wanted to add something I hadn’t made before.

#Summer always makes me think of cherries. I used Pinterest to locate a simple recipe using cherries in something other than a pie. If you want to peruse my Pinterest boards, you can check them out here. We all know that pie is ALWAYS a great idea, but since I was already making apple, cherry pie bars were the winner.

I pinned two recipes for these awhile back from lilluna and MomSpark and forgot about them. I decided to combine the two. They were really easy to make and a big hit at our dinner.

Cherry Pie Bars

cherry_pie_bars2BARS:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 2 – 3 (21 oz) cans cherry pie filling

GLAZE:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 TBSP milk
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

 

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease your large jelly roll pan or cookie sheets with tall sides. Personally, I prefer to use parchment paper in lieu of greasing the pan.
  3. Cream sugar, butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beating well. Add flour and baking powder, stir just until blended.

    cherry_pie_bars1
    These cherry pie bars are great with coffee too!
  4. Spread 2/3 of the batter into the cookie sheet.
  5. Spread the pie filling over the batter.
  6. Drop remaining batter by teaspoonfuls over the pie filling.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out  clean.
  8. Cool completely.
  9. Mix together the glaze ingredients in a medium bowl.
  10. Drizzle glaze over fully cooled bars and allow glaze to set.
  11. Cut into bars and serve!

Enjoy the holiday!

-Kim

life, motherhood

Parenting adults: is it the high road or the low road?

Answer: it’s both and it can be beautiful and bumpy, so buckle up!roughroad1

If you had asked me a few years back whether I thought parenting would be harder when our girls were young adults, I would have chuckled and said no. Then I might have wondered why you were asking…

One of my biggest parenting challenges has been to sit back and watch as our daughters navigate the harder life lessons that come along with #adulting. I labored through those years under the notion, that once they reached adulthood, all the lessons I taught would have a trickle down effect. I know that does actually happen. It’s just not happening all at once.

Like every other parenting stage, much of it has been really rewarding, but truthfully, there are times when it feels like I’m herding cats.

Where is the owner’s manual, or at the very least, that big red “easy” button, when you need it?

My job is to teach. To protect them while also allowing (age appropriate and non-life threatening) mistakes. There is no definitive rule on how to do this. It’s not always as simple as it sounds.

Maybe dodgeball is a better comparison? Remember that movie with Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller? “Just remember the five D’s of dodgeball: Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and…dodge.” Parenting adult children is like a dodgeball game. Except you don’t always feel like you’re dodging. The lines are blurred. It’s harder to get out of the way, and just like in the movie, you often take one to the gut, the head, or both.

It starts when our children are small and we are new to the parenting game. Our first inclination is to “fix” whatever is wrong. They cry; we pick them up. We kiss all the boo-boo’s big and small; even the ones we know we don’t need to. Maybe we want to give them all the things we didn’t have as a child, or we feel some guilt when we go to work and try to compensate for that. Maybe they sleep in our bed when we really don’t want them to, or we’re tired, so we let it slide when they misbehave.

I don’t believe you can ever love your babies too much, it’s simply not possible, but as they get older, we have to learn to separate the boo-boo’s. Hovering like a helicopter to keep them from experiencing pain, or spoiling them just because you can, doesn’t benefit you, your people, or anyone who has to be around them for an extended period of time.

Fred is running by the pool after you have asked him not to. SallyJane is out of bed for the umpteenth time, for no apparent reason, and now wants to sleep in your bed. Every child and every household is different. How do you manage it?

Me? I was a young mom “with everything to prove”. There were many things I was steadfast on. Sleeping in our bed wasn’t a regular thing at our house. I use this example because I have been asked this question dozens of times over the years. They could sleep with us if they were sick. They could fall asleep with us when they needed the extra cuddles. That was it. I always felt our kids needed positive separation from us and that quiet time with my husband was very valuable to me. We all know that having one child in your bed is like having a whole herd of them in there! Who could possibly be well rested after dangling precariously from exactly 1.64 inches of a mattress all night? While they might only be three feet tall, those little stinkers spread out, into all four corners of the bed, like a giant octopus. Their head is angelically placed on the pillow, but their knees and feet are somehow wedged in your sternum and kicking the small of your back simultaneously!

Uhhhh, no thanks.

“Please don’t run by the pool Fred. It’s not safe. You could slip and fall.” Suddenly, there is howling and skinned body parts. I clean up the knee, or elbow, or chin (or all three!) and Fred is poolside, marinating in sunscreen and consequences.

That said, I certainly doled out more than my share of kisses for those questionable boo-boo’s. The key? Find the balance between their currency and your own and choose wisely.

You’re not always going to get it right. Sometimes we’re just too overwhelmed, or too damn tired to dodge the ball! I’ve said before that parenting is about using the tools you have to put your best foot forward 99% of the time. If you missed that post, you can read it here. The remaining 1% is reserved for the days when that last nerve is on the brink of nuclear detonation. It’s OK, we all have them.

mary_poppinsAs hard as it is to separate, I am learning that I cannot allow parental guilt to be a factor, at any stage. We are allowed to make, and then reconcile, mistakes! It’s expected really. Life can wear out even the most persistent “Mary Poppins”, and I guarantee that the spoonful of sugar she sings about won’t save you!

Besides, Mary was never a parent, remember? She just flew in, solved the household problems of the moment, and then drifted away on the breeze.

Whatevs Mary.

I can tell you the scenarios only become more challenging as kids get older, but I have discovered the basic principles are the same.

So how do you know when to dodge? The truth? Sometimes you don’t; sometimes the answer is really easy, whether you want to see it or not; and sometimes the answer is to draw a line in the sand and not step over it.

f2fbc252bd8ca74e10e043ac02134355Staying connected: Adult children are often focused on themselves. Do your best to keep your lines of communication open. You want to know everything that is going on in their lives, but you don’t want to know everything. Parental guidance should begin to take a back seat to the opinions they are forming on their own, but they continue to need the emotional and moral compass provided by parents.

Finding the balance: This has been one of the most difficult for me, but stepping back is vital to their success as adults. Sometimes they take the scenic route. You won’t always agree with their choices, which may be vastly different from yours. Express your feelings without guilt. Let your child know that, even when you don’t agree, you accept that their opinions and choices might differ from your own.

8a6f11e53fe5eb41cc197a374f64465bTrusting your choices: Remember that the word NO is a complete sentence. Successful parenting includes setting standards for behavior while fostering love and mutual respect. Taking a hands-off approach, in order to avoid conflict, will leave children without clarity regarding what is expected of them. This can breed a “victim” mentality and a child who cannot see fault in their actions. That behavior isn’t beneficial to anyone.

Setting expectations: Young adults need to learn to take responsibility for themselves. Allow them make their own decisions and live with the consequences. This is often easier said than done.

Setting limits: It’s easy for parental guilt to jump in the driver’s seat. No matter what mistakes have been made in the past, if you have done your best to reconcile those mistakes, move forward. You are not a doormat. Boundaries should move to the forefront. No more blurred lines. Be clear and fair. Don’t be arbitrary in setting limits. Explain your reasons. They may not understand all of it right away and that’s OK. In the long run, the relationship between you and your child will benefit.

I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I feel like I have taken more shots to the gut in the last two months than ever before, but I am determined to turn good people out into the world. What is most important to me is that our daughters continue to develop into strong and independent women. Women who among other things; love themselves and their families, work hard, surround themselves with a circle of wonderful people, and understand the importance of paying it forward and giving back to their community.

I’m still learning. Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge.

-Kim

 

life

The difference between a father and a dad…

They say you either gravitate in the direction of a partner who is very much like your father, or you choose someone who is the complete opposite.

I grew up with a semi-absent father and when I was young, I had no idea what kind of impact that would have on my life choices.

When I was old enough to understand, I didn’t walk, I ran, as fast as I could, in the opposite direction.

Looking back, I know now, that my father did the best he could with a very limited set of tools. I have made peace with the past and I wish him peace as well.

When I first met my husband, we were teenagers. There was something about him. He was intelligent, funny, devastatingly handsome, outgoing and just a little shy (it was his friend, not him, who came back to ask for my phone number).

His smile still gives me butterflies and I’m not exaggerating!

We were young when our first daughter arrived. When you have children with someone, you hope they will be a good father. I didn’t have to hope. I already knew. It was something deep within my soul. I can’t explain it.

He took on fatherhood with every ounce of himself. TT was his little sidekick. In the beginning, we worked opposite schedules so that we could be home with her. I started work at 6AM and he worked a swing shift. We were like ships in the night, but agreed we wanted to do what was best for our baby girl. When Fred came along to complete our family, his love spilled over in buckets.

My husband is a dad.

He loves and lives for our family. He is brilliant and funny and ambitious and stubborn and supportive and tender. I can close my eyes and vividly picture our future. I can tell you exactly what he looks like when we are in our 90’s. His work ethic is inspiring. He ducks life’s monkey wrenches like a ninja; he can figure it out, fix it, make it happen, and presses forward through everything. He is the voice of reason when PMS takes over our house. He hugs and protects like a bear, but you can still breathe. He is witty and his laughter is contagious. He is generous with his time. He hates the limelight and will brush it off as though he’s no big deal, but trust me when I say, HE IS EVERY BIT A BIG DEAL! I am regularly in awe of him. #soluckytohaveyou

So to my husband, with all my heart: Thank you for being the best dad to our girls, my best friend, everything I knew I needed in my life, and so many things I only hoped for.

I love you. Happy Father’s Day!

-Kim

 

 

 

 

dessert

Dessert: Raw Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy Friday!

Earlier this week, I was looking through a recipe book my mom created for my sister and I when we set out on our own. The book is full of all the dishes she used to make for us when we were growing up. I love it and it has been my go-to for years. Even after our dog, a Boston Terrier named Yogi, chewed it up and the book finally had to be re-printed. Seriously, that dog drove me bananas! (Sigh)

One of the recipes in particular holds special memories for me. When I was little, my mom would make Raw Apple Cake for my birthday. Interestingly enough, I’m not actually sure why it’s referred to as “raw apple”. The apples are obviously cooked when the cake is baked? Anyway…

I have only made this cake a handful of times as an adult. Sadly, my family doesn’t particularly care for walnuts and I really don’t think it’s wise to have a 9″x13″ cake, just hanging around, for me to snack on, all by myself!

I love using #Gravenstein apples for this cake when they’re in season (late summer here in Northern California).

Raw Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

APPLE CAKE:

  • 4 cups Granny Smith or Gravenstein apples (unpeeled and diced or VERY thinly sliced)rawapplecake
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (I reduce the walnuts to 3/4 cup)

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

  • 1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup of butter (softened but NOT melted)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 cups of powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 1/8 tsp (or less – it’s really just a dash) kosher salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In mixing bowl, combine oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add apples and stir until well blended.
  3. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add to apple mixture 1/3 at a time, blending well after each addition. Stir in walnuts.
  4. Pour into ungreased 9 x 13 pan and bake 55-60 minutes.
  5. While cake is baking, mix up frosting. Cover and set aside in refrigerator.

Notes: Be sure to allow the cake to cool completely before frosting. You can also use two 8″ cake pans, or make 18 cupcakes. Adjust baking time accordingly. I like to use the directions on the back of a boxed cake mix to help adjust baking times. Two batches of frosting may be needed depending on how thick you prefer the layer(s) to be.

Frosted cake should be stored in refrigerator.

Enjoy!

-Kim