Chugging Along

Have you ever read that book called The Little Engine That Could? That’s how I feel my life is going sometimes. One day, I’m the train, stuck on a track not moving and unsure of how to get to the other side of the mountain. It looks too big and I’m hopeless to do anything. And then there are days I’m the little blue engine, taking the load and with a deep breath I slowly start up that mountain. It takes encouragement, it takes one pull at a time and though it may be slow, I am slowly moving forward.
Since returning to Alabama, I’ve been a busy little train. Noah had school off until the 7. That weekend before, Lizzy had some props she needed to find for the

Swinging at a park

current movie job she’s on, so I had both kids for three days. Thankfully that weekend it was beautiful weather, so we took a lot of trips outside to play at parks and jumped on the trampoline. I’m already looking forward to warmer weather, but it also gave me courage for this coming summer when I’ll most likely have both children constantly.
The past ten days have been me getting back into the rhythm and routine of life. Lizzy had to leave early in the morning and wouldn’t be back until after the kids were in bed. Back in October/November, when I worked this much, I was always feeling like bedtime was the part I dreaded the most. I hated putting the kids down because they wanted their mama to put them down, so they fought sleep, said anything to get out going to bed and on and on. Since returning, I haven’t had anything to deal with. But now I’m starting to deal with dinner complains.
I don’t cook very well. Ask my family that. I’ve had a few mistakes in the past that did not boost my confidence and I’ve been getting anxious as the clock slowly rolls around 5pm and I still have no idea what I’m going to whip up for dinner. Last week I felt like nearly every night I tried to cook something I thought the kids would like, they turned up their nose and informed me that they could not eat it. “Miss Heidi, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I don’t like brussel sprouts.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Three or four nights in a row it was like that. Sweet potatoes, some weird dumpling things, potatoes or carrots, there’s been a food that one or the other has not liked. It leaves me feeling even more like a failure to make a good meal and unsure about my future homemaking skills for that poor man who blessed with marriage to a unskilled cook. (Don’t worry man,whoever you are, I’m getting better!)
Thankfully I don’t stay in my mini fountains of sadness forever. Saturday I had to unexpectedly work. We were low on groceries and I was just feeling very down about cooking. The weather was gray, rainy, and didn’t add any cheer to my depressed feeling. Thankfully I had a car so I took the kids to Chick-Fil-A where we all ate well, ate

I don’t have a picture of me feeding the kids. So here is me in August feeding a giraffe.

happy and afterwards were able to play in the little indoor playset they have there. It was a good ending to a long day. (Side note, I was talking to some people while there and I heard this southern’ twang coming out in my voice. And what makes it worse is I didn’t know how to stop it!)
Lizzy restocked the fridge and freezer Sunday, so Monday I took a peek around, deciding what to make with all the new goodies. I noticed that we had ground beef we hadn’t used in awhile. I called my mom about making chili. After getting a list of several other ingredients, I noticed there was a bag of frozen sweet potato fries. I knew Noah liked them, plus the kids loved the fish nuggets and we had several left over. They also liked cucumbers. It was a weird combo, but I was confident they would enjoy it. More or less, I got the “I’m sorry miss Heidi, I don’t like this meal.” And it left me already dreading the next 4 or five days I would have to cook up something for dinner. (HA HA, no pun intended)
That brings me to Tuesday. I found this frozen meal of hot dogs tucked in rolls. (Similar to pigs in a blanket) and decided to be a little daring and make some roasted potatoes(?) (The baby potatoes halved, covered in a oil and spices and baked) While those were in the oven, Noah, Juliette and I took some stuffed animals and went around the world, visiting new counties. We were in Lexembourg (A small county in Europe tucked between Germany, France and Belgium) when the timer went off and I had to get dinner onto plates. As I was pulling everything out, Noah came up behind me and he suddenly squealed. Fear gripped my heart that once again I would get his speech about how much he was sorry that he didn’t like something I had prepared. Instead he pointed towards the potatoes and hot dog rolls and shouted, “I love those foods! You are the best nanny every!” And he scurried off, leaving me with the biggest smile ever. I’m awful at preparing meals, I don’t always know what to do or how to cook food to make it taste good. But in that moment, I knew I was doing something right. And the kids loved it the meal.
Wednesday we went to dinner with family, then Thursday I put all my ingredients into a slow cooker, and at the end of the day we had delicious bowls of chili with biscuits. I got a thumbs up from both kids, and even a good old southern’ compliment from Juju “It’s so good I could slap my nanny.” It made me laugh so hard when she did.

Waterfall near the grandparent’s house

I live for these little moments. Those compliments are what keep me moving along. Slowly and surely I see myself moving a little farther up that mountain. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m slowly getting closer to that goal. While I was eating with the kids the night we had Noah’s favorite meal, I was telling them about the chili I wanted to make. They both chimed in that they loved chili. And it made me all the more eager to make it, as they both claimed they’ll eat it. And they did! My cooking hasn’t always been successful, but I’m learning how to make it easier in the future as I learn to make meals.  To skip the pizza, or fast food and actually make something from scratch, like biscuits or baked potatoes or chili helps me gain confidence and go a little farther up that mountain.
Apart from meal making, a new change I’ve begun to notice is Juliette. Three

Climbing on the animal statues at the children’s park

months ago I remember writing to my friends, begging them to pray for me because I thought the little girl hated me. Her attitude could explode in a second and I had to walk on eggshells so as to keep it from being triggered. She was physically reserved and I had no way of giving comfort if she hurt herself.  While she’s learning to lower her voice when she’s angry, she’s more blunt, honest and open about how she feels then I’ve ever seen in a little girl before. She is a fighter, which to me is a rare beauty. She’s like her mama, strong, brave and independent. But unlike her mama, this little firecracker of a girl did not like me. I laugh now as I think about the way she would growl at me, or give me looks like she was planning on kicking me out onto the curb.
Anyways, this little girl has been surprising me so much more since I’ve returned to my Alabama home after the holidays. While she never told me she missed me, she did tell me she missed playing with me. Where she use to be stand offish, she now crawls onto my lap randomly while we are playing. She allows me to pat her back or brush her hair with my hand when she’s hurt herself. Recently we were watching a movie and she fell asleep on me. Not next to me, but curled up on my arm and chest, making me feel all sorts of joy. And just this past Sunday, I got my first hug from her, that was not promoted by encouragement from someone. She just ran up and gave me a hug and told me goodnight with a smile. After that, my

Trees in the front yard

little train was full steam ahead and heart was full of happiness. When I get little blessings like that, I soar as high as the clouds. I have never felt so thankful before about this job.
I always have moments of doubts and unsure moments of shaking my head wondering what I am suppose to do because I have no words to calm down unhappy children. But these little memories of compliments and hugs help me move along a little longer, a little faster and up that mountain a little more. I’m not stuck in the same place anymore, I am still moving and headed the right direction, though I don’t always feel like it.
A few fun things that we have done recently has been

In Noah’s fort with Chicky-Chick

building blanket forts. Juju and I made one recently and our cat, Tiger Lily ran into the corner. We tried to wiggle past her and she playfully tried to attack our toes or swat our hair as we went by. Juliette and I both just laughed and giggled the whole time. A couple days later, Noah built a fort. He does not like the cat and actually put blankets, pillows and random coverings all the way around so as to keep the cat completely out. It worked and we played that it was always dark in the little cave where our stuffed animals lived. They did not like the light, as it hurt their eyes.
We also have been playing with hot wheel cars on and off. We have had a couple, Rescue and Doc Sarah who

The wedding of Rescue and Sarah

worked together in a ‘hospital’ (like a car ER/macanic shop) got engaged. They got married about fifteen minutes later. It only took that long because we had to line up all the cars. And then a few days later, another couple, Tow-dow (Not sure how

The cars meeting Walt Disney at Disney World. We all helped in drawing him on a cardboard tube.

one would spell it….) and Valerie got engaged and once again we had a car wedding. The cars took a trip to Disney World in Florida and got to meet Walt Disney in person. We tried to get creative with him. We’ve had a lot of fun playing together, exploring the world and seeing what creative imaginations we can come up with as we play and have fun.
A goal I have for myself is to find new places outside of my usual 5 miles that I drive. Wanting to find an easier way to the zoo, I went down route 31 S with Juliette buckled in the back. (For family in NY, 31 is similar to route 11, how it follows 81. Here 31 follows 65 in the same way.) We found the zoo, but didn’t have much time to go in, so we toured a few cute shops. After that, she asked if we could go to the donut shop that was near the zoo. I found Yo Yo Donuts on my gps and after taking the wrong turn, I turned around in a sketchy road before we found the little shop. It was a special treat, to spend time together and get something sweet in the end. I’m hoping to find more little places in the future.
For myself, I’ve recently taken a break from social media and apps that make me stay up late at night. Or that keep me from getting out of my warm bed in the morning. For how long it will last, I have no idea, but the past two days have been hard. But a good hard at the same time. I finally finished a journal that I’d been writing in since October 2017 and I got to start a new one. I’ve got a goal to read 24 books this year. It’s hard to read when I’m constantly working, as I don’t always prioritize it like I could. But 24 will make me have to read two a month and if I go over, I can always challenge myself to 36. Right now I’m reading He Fell In Love With His Wife. It took awhile to figure out what I was reading as it’s that old English style, but 100 pages in and I’m glad I’ve stuck with it. I look forward to finding time during the day to read. I’ve also been drinking more tea. Chia is a new favorite. I’ve been working out with a new set of hand weights I got from my brother and sister-in-law. My arms or legs are sore the next day, but it leaves me feeling stronger, healthier and excited for the next time I get to use them. I’m branching out of my comfortzone and actually spoke up at Sunday School this past week. There are a constant 4-5 other people, not including the teacher, and so for me to actually say something for the first time in about four weeks, I felt everyone look at me like I suddenly appeared in the room.
I love when Lizzy is busy, because it means I’m busy. I enjoy when she’s home because I can read and relax more, not have to worry about dinner or putting the kids to bed. But I know that I’m also thankful for these long days. It’s preparing me for the future in ways I can’t imagine. I’m learning a lot, I’m growing and slowly I’m chugging that hill. When I’m busy, it keeps me from becoming bored and restless. And with goals to accomplish for this new year, I’ve got a lot that I’m looking forward to as the year goes on.

Until next time,


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