A to Z Challenge Day 6 - Family Fun Time

I love having fun with my son. Now that spring is here, we can have more fun outside. (My son LOVES being outdoors.)

During the colder months, or rainy days, we enjoy coloring, putting together puzzles, playing with his cars, playing with his Red Light, green Light game, watching the occasional DVD, cooking and playing with Play-Doh. It's a way to spend time together without being outside in the cold and rain. Cause Mommy hates cold weather, and sometimes I just don't want to be out in it. (Don't get me wrong. We do go outside on the warmer days. Just not the really cold ones. Cause this Alabama girl HATES winter weather with a purple and pink polka dotted passion. Unless it snows, and then only cause I can't bring myself to deprive my child of the experience of playing in the snow, since we only get decent snowfalls every five or ten years.)

We have a number of activities we enjoy doing together outside. There is a campground my boyfriend's parents and several of our friends go to each weekend to camp. Occasionally, we tag along for the day. We walk along the bank of the river looking for fish and other wildlife, and look for shells to pick up.

We throw leaves at each other and ride golf carts and play at the playground and go on boat rides and go fishing.

We ride bicycles and big wheels and Power Wheels trucks.

We practice our golf swing with Colt's Pappy.

We throw balls to each other.

(And yes, I know a couple of these pictures aren't that great. I'm working with a camera phone right now for all my picture-taking since someone stole my digital camera last summer. Sorry for the quality. You love me anyway, right? Right.)

And every day we read at least two of his books. I don't care if I'm in bed sick, we still make time to read. It's one of his favorite quiet time activities, and I'm very happy he adores books as much as I do. Cause I'm trying to raise a reader here, you know?

Soon it will be time to open up the pool next door at Pappy and Nana's house. That gives us another reason to get outside and play.

What does your family like to do, inside or out, to have fun together?

From Lulu's Kitchen - My Granny's Salmon Patties

It's been a while since I posted a recipe on my blog. How about we fix that right now? I cooked these last week for our dinner, and just happened to remember to whip out the phone and take pictures to share with everyone.

My family loves good southern cooking. (I know, big surprise since we were born and raised in Alabama, right?) My sister and I are very fond of our Granny's cooking. I don't remember EVER putting a bite of anything she cooked in my mouth and not loving it. (Except greens and beans. I just don't like them. I don't care what type of greens or what kind of beans you cook, I have never tasted any I liked.)

I love my Granny's salmon patties. I remember eating these all the time as a child when I went to her house (which was usually every weekend, and a good portion of every school break.) When I grew up and moved out on my own, I had to get the recipe from her. I wanted to make salmon patties just like hers. While my recipe tastes a little different from hers, it's close enough to satisfy my sister and me.

Are you ready? This is gonna be a little messy, but trust me, it's worth it.

You're gonna need some cornmeal, two cans of salmon, some milk, and a couple of eggs.

Open up your cans of salmon, drain them, and dump them in a big bowl. Canned salmon is usually packed with the bones still in the fish. Just crumble them up into the meat since they crumble really easily. You can use a fork, but I just use my fingers. That way I can feel around and make sure I've gotten to all the bones. (I know, this can sound really gross, but it won't hurt you. It is even said to add calcium to the fish. At least, that's what my Granny always told us.)

Now beat your eggs and add them to the bowl. I usually just move the salmon over to the side of my mixing bowl and use the empty space to beat the eggs. Saves a dirty bowl. Cause I hate doing dishes.

Now we need to add some cornmeal and milk to the bowl and mix it up real good.

Grab a handful of the salmon and shape it into patties.

Place the patties into a skillet with about 1/8" of oil that has been heated over medium heat. Make sure the oil is hot before you add the patties so they'll start to cook right away. Otherwise they just might fall apart on you.

Let them cook a couple of minutes on the first side, then flip them over to finish cooking.

Take them out of the skillet after another four or five minutes or so, and place them on a paper-towel lined plate to take care of the extra oil on them.

These should turn out nice and crunchy on the outside and moist and soft on the inside.

Serve these with whatever sides you choose. On this day, Colt wanted macaroni with his dinner, and I chose some whole kernel corn cooked with some Garlic and herb Mrs. Dash seasoning and a little butter to give it extra flavor. And my family always, ALWAYS, dips their salmon patties in ketchup. My boyfriend prefers Ranch dressing, since he says he doesn't like ketchup. (Who in the world doesn't like ketchup? I thought EVERYONE liked ketchup???)

Ready for a re-cap of the recipe? Here we go.

2 cans of salmon (I use Double Q brand salmon, cause that's what my Granny always used)
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 to 3/4 cup of cornmeal
1/3 to 1/4 cup milk

1. Heat 1/8" oil in a skillet over medium heat.

2. Open and drain the cans of salmon, and pour into a bowl. Crush up all the little bones into the meat.

3. Add the eggs, milk and cornmeal. It's best to start out with less cornmeal and milk, and add more if you need it. If you put too much cornmeal, your patties will be dry and gritty. If you put too much milk they won't stick together. Either way equals your patties falling apart. They should stick together and form patties easily, like a hamburger.

4. Shape into patties and place in the hot skillet. Cook two or three minutes on the first side,then flip. Cook another four or five minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

With the ingredients above, I only got about twelve patties, but as you can tell from the pictures above, they were huge. That's a ten inch skillet I used to cook them in. You could make them a little smaller and thinner, if you prefer.

And if you have some left over? No worries.We eat them cold later if we get hungry again. Or heat them up the next day for lunch. They're still good, although maybe not quite as crunchy.

Anyone have anything else to add? A different take on making salmon patties? A question? A low-fat method that will still get them crunchy on the outside?

**Disclaimer - I am not affiliated with the companies that own the products pictured in any way. That's just the brands I happened to have in my kitchen when I cooked these. If another brand had been on sale cheaper the day I bought these ingredients, then that's what I would have bought.

A to Z Challenge Day 5 - Energy and Exercise

These days I'm finding myself low on energy. I also need more sleep than normal to feel like I can function through the day. I don't know if it's the last three years catching up to me or what. I'm hoping exercise, a healthier diet, and an earlier bedtime will help.

Also, my boyfriend's ten year high school reunion is May 19th. We went to the same (tiny) school, so I know everyone from his graduating class. (Seriously. Each of our graduating classes had 60-65 students. That's it. The entire school, K-12, might have had 1000-1200 students. Everybody knows everybody where I'm from. It's a joy, as well as curse, of small town life.) My ten year reunion should have been last summer, but my class didn't have a reunion. On top of that, my cousin, who was always popular, and more than a little snobby to me in school, is organizing this great event. I don't think she is aware that I will be his date for this event. I don't even think she knows I am dating him. This should be fun. :)

 To me, all those reasons means looking good for his reunion is even more important.  (And, unless a better article of clothing comes my way, I already have my dress picked out for the adult portion of the reunion, which will be held at a local sports bar that evening. There is a two-hour get together at lunch time at a local park for everyone to bring their children if they wish. We will be attending both events.)

Yes, I know my boyfriend's high school reunion is a really vain and shallow reason for wanting to lose weight and firm up my body. I'm OK with that. At least I'm being honest about all the reasons I want to torture myself start exercising.

I'm not talking about major weight loss here. My weight falls in the range of what is considered "normal" for my height and build. I'm talking about toning my body, while getting some good exercise to keep myself healthy, relieve stress, increase my energy levels and stamina, and all that other positive stuff exercise does for you, other than weight loss. I want more energy so I can go out in the yard and run around with Colt more without having to take a break. I want to be healthy so I can be around until he's sixty or seventy years old (at which point I'll be pushing 90 or 100, so....).

Research also shows that women with a waist measurement above certain numbers are at increased risk when it comes to all sorts of health issues, such as diabetes and heart conditions. I have enough of that in my family medical history already. Every one of my grandparents has some sort of cardiovascular problem. I don't want my son to have to deal with that when it comes to me if I can do something to prevent it. My goal is to weigh in somewhere near the middle of my "normal range". I don't want to be super skinny. I've always had a somewhat athletic build and I don't want that to change. I like my curves (except for the small tummy bulge) and I want to keep almost every one of them.

To that end, I will soon bring my 30 Day Shred DVD out of exile. And begin sunning myself a little each day. Cause pool season is fast approaching, and my dress for the reunion's adult portion is black. And I'm as white as it gets without being albino. Our next door neighbors (my boyfriend's parents) have an in-ground swimming pool. His parents and his sister's boyfriend also have boats. I plan on spending a lot of time in the pool and on boats this summer. It's good exercise, and Colt loves to swim with Mommy. I really don't want to look like a boiled lobster at the end of a day of swimming. Even after frequent liberal coats of SPF 50. (Yes, I'm that white. I burn even with sunscreen.) I don't want a tan that rivals the Hawaiian Tropic girls. I just don't want a really bad second or third degree sunburn at any point this summer. And I don't want to look like I belong in Twilight while wearing my little black dress (that my boyfriend hasn't even seen yet!).

Look for updates soon. I plan on using body measurements, not weight, as my indicator of results with my workouts. I'm not concerned with my weight as long as the tape measure shows I have lost inches in the key areas (mainly my tummy).

Let's just hope Jillian Michaels doesn't kill me. And that I don't blister the first day I soak up a little sun.

Blogging A to Z April Challenge Day 4 - Divorce

I recently went through a bitter divorce. After many, many months of fighting and walking around on eggshells, hoping that telling Sawyer his dinner was ready (after I worked a twelve and a half hour shift, drove home, spent a few precious minutes with Colt, and cooked for all of us) wouldn't set him off on a screaming rampage, and just generally being miserable, Sawyer moved out at the end of last July. I took Colt over to visit him on my days off, sometimes staying and sometimes dropping him off to stay the day. I was not at a point where I felt I could trust Sawyer to keep our son over night safely.

Finally, I saw a lawyer and had divorce papers drawn up. After a little negotiation, Sawyer signed them and my lawyer filed them. Our divorce was final January 2, 2012.

After he first moved out, Colt cried every day that he wanted to see his Daddy. Then he slowly got used to seeing him once or twice a week. My very anxious child started to return to his happy self. It seems the constant fighting kept him on edge when Sawyer still lived with us. Gradually, Colt realized that people can get a little loud when they're happy, and not just when they're angry. My child had gotten to the point of trembling and crying any time anyone got a little too loud, even if it was obvious that they were having a good time and weren't fighting. No one could so much as hug me without him screaming, even though my ex didn't hit me or otherwise physically hurt me, especially in front of him.

Now, if it has been a while since he's seen his Daddy (especially if he has had to work all weekend and couldn't take him for an overnight visit) he'll cry that he misses him. Otherwise, he's fine. We try to call his Daddy and older brother each night before bedtime so he can talk to them for a few minutes and tell them he loves them.

I have been very careful to never talk about his Daddy in a negative way in front of him, and I don't allow anyone else to, either. Even though I don't love him anymore, he is still my child's father. I want them to have a good relationship, and I am not allowing anyone to undermine that. Thankfully, for now, he has kept his promise to act like a grown-up when he has our son.

I have full physical and legal custody of our son. According to our divorce papers, he only gets visitation as agreed upon between the two of us. Meaning, if I say he can't have him, there's nothing he can do about it. I didn't do this to keep my son away from his father. Any time Sawyer has asked to keep Colt, I have let him as long as there are no previous plans that involve him. I sometimes take the initiative and offer to let him keep him if I know Colt really wants to see him and he hasn't already asked.

I did this because my ex-husband has had alcohol abuse problems in the recent past. It was a major reason for our divorce. He drank every day. Sawyer knows that in order to keep our son for visits, he must remain absolutely, completely sober. If I ever truly suspect he has been intoxicated to any degree while he has Colt, the visits will stop. As long as he is a responsible father when he is caring for our child I will not keep them apart. I don't care how responsible (or not) he is when he is not taking care of Colt. It's none of my business, as long as our son is not with him. I have never used that clause of our divorce just to be vindictive or mean. It wouldn't be fair to my son. As a matter of fact, I haven't ever used this against my ex. He hasn't given me good reason to. I hope that trend continues. Colt loves his Daddy, and I would hate to have to keep them apart just to protect him and know he is safe.

Overall, the divorce has been a good thing for Colt. Truly, the only downside has been not having both his parents under the same roof. however, since we are both happier now, he generally is happier, too.

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge Day 2 : Bedtime

With a two year old in the house, some days I dread bedtime. I'm playing with my son, doing puzzles or playing with Play-Doh or some other super fun activity, and I don't want to have to end our fun together for him to go to bed.

Then, there are days where I can't wait for time to get ready for bed to roll around. He wouldn't take a nap that day, and he's tired and super cranky and he won't listen and he isn't being a very good boy and......

I try to keep our bedtime routine roughly the same each night. We pick up the toys and books scattered through the house and return them to his book table and toy boxes. (Yes, plural. My son has two toy boxes, plus a wagon we keep all his cars in, plus space in his closet for large toys like his sit-and-spin, lawnmowers, and ride-on toys.) We tell my boyfriend and anyone else in the house at the time goodnight. (My sister is currently renting our spare bedroom, and occasionally one of our friends is visiting at bedtime.) We pick the toys and books up in his bedroom floor and return them to their designated location. We go potty. We get pajamas and a diaper on (he is mostly potty trained, except for getting up in the middle of the night to go potty. He'll catch on soon enough.) We call his father and his big brother so he can tell them good night. We read two books. I arrange his bear, sock monkey (which wears a miniture miniature University of Alabama sweatshirt,'cause ROLL TIDE Y'ALL!), glow worm, Tad, and Spider Man in his bed. I tuck everyone under the covers (his Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger blanket, and Lightening McQueen sleeping bag), give him a hug, kiss, Eskimo kiss, and tell him I love him. I check his closet for monsters one last time, turn out the light and shut his door.

See that pile of toys on his bed? Now add a stuffed Spider-Man (the super hero monster killer) that is almost as tall as him. In a Little Tikes crib-mattress-sized race car bed. It's a full house in there every night.

Then for the next hour or two, I constantly run him back to bed and tuck him back in every ten minutes.

What gives? He was going to bed fine, then all of a sudden he decided to act like a two-year-old when it comes to bedtime.

Like last night. Bed time routine? Check. Even let him keep his TV on (Cars 2 in the DVD player) while he went to sleep. An hour and a half later? Huge crash in his room, followed by Help-Me-I'm-REALLY-Hurt screams. I jump up off the couch and run to his room. He had hit his nose pretty badly, and it was swelled and scraped across the bridge. I thought he had fallen out of bed. I kissed it and put him back to bed after some snuggling and rocking to calm him down. Ten minutes later, when he started crying again, i went back. He said his head still hurt. I checked him for proper pupil dilation, gave him a dose of Tylenol, and put him back to bed. I checked on him twice before I went to sleep, just to make sure he was breathing OK and all that. This morning my boyfriend asked him what happened to his nose.his answer? "I 'bout fall down on toy box". He had gotten out of bed at eleven o'clock to get his guitar out of his toy box and play with it. And then promptly busted himself when he told us how he hurt himself. We laughed about him spilling the beans and let it go. I figured the bump on his nose was punishment enough for that one.

Sigh. At least I know where he is at ten o'clock every night. In another fourteen years I won't even know that much for sure some nights.

Blogging From A to Z April Challenge, Day 1 - Anger

Today is the first day of April. I promised myself I would use the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge as a way to challenge myself to regularly update my blog. My writing for this challenge will focus on, you guessed it, parenting and other domestic things. The parenting side will generally pertain to life with a toddler, since that is my life's focus as of now (at least on the parenting end of things).

Today I choose the word ANGER. Not that I'm angry. You see, anyone who has raised a toddler will tell you that they have a way of knowing when you're already frustrated (trying to do too much at one time, almost burning dinner, have a lot on your to-do list, don't feel well.... the list of possible reasons goes on and on and on). It always seems my son will pick one of these times to throw a tantrum when I ask him to do (or not do) something. Or maybe this time he's asking me the same question thirty-seven times in a row, even though he already knew the answer before he asked the first time. (Side note: he does have a way of doing this that would be adorable if I wasn't already annoyed at something else. As he is asking his question his voice gets higher-pitched, making him sound like a pubescent boy. Sometimes I find it funny. Sometimes.) Or maybe he's just generally doing anything and everything he can to get attention, because he has to have my undivided attention and love at that very second or he'll spontaneously combust. (Not complaining about that one. I know all too well he'll be a "big boy" sooner than I'll ever be ready for him to decide that he is. I take all the snuggles and kisses I can get for now. It will end. And i will cry.)

So how do parents of toddlers keep from losing their cool, especially when it comes to their children?

I close my eyes, block out as much noise as I can, and take a few deep (sometimes really deeeeeeep) breaths.

Or I walk away for a moment, until I can regain my composure.

Or, if the tantrum is getting out of hand, I send my son to his room and make him remain there with his door closed until he gets himself under control. I stay just outside his door, in case he actually needs me, but I let him cry or scream or whatever he feels like doing. When he calms down, I pick him up and hug and kiss him, and tell him I love him. If I'm not in the middle of cooking dinner or something equally important, I sit down and spend some extra one-on-one time with him (usually reading. I'm trying to raise a reader, and he loves reading books together). If I can't stop what I'm doing, I try to find a way he can "help", so he feels we are doing something constructive together.

I don't always remember to do these things. Sometimes my temper does get the best of me. But I'm trying to remember to do these things when I get frustrated, especially with my son.

What do you do to cope when you feel your frustration rising?
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