It’s no news to any mother that moments with our babies (they’re gonna have to get a lot older for me to stop calling them that) always seem limited. Even when we mamas are blessed enough not to work outside the home for a season, there is always Stuff to do, which means whatever task(s) we are focused on at any given moment is only given enough attention to carry us to the next task.

Moments are limited, so a goal that so many of us work on is being intentional, being in the moment instead of just working toward the next one. It is hard. It’s hard not to check your work email (or let’s face it, your FB notifications while Baby Girl is counting to 20 and coming to find you. It’s hard not to throw another load in the machine on the way out the door to church/work/the pool or whatever we’re already running late to. It’s hard to get through a whole storybook without pausing to answer the phone, or a whole Disney Jr. show without popping up to stir the soup or take something out to thaw or write down that blog idea before its brilliance is lost to the world.

But we have to figure it out, and make it a priority, and accept that we will still fail a lot of the time.

Meanwhile, I’ve been setting some new limits for myself, again. I’ve learned all the ‘secrets’ to weight loss. I don’t call these periods of my life diets. But the hard fact is that after losing all but 4 of my ‘KK pounds,’ I gained about 12 more on top of them, and on top of the 10 I had left to lose from my Randa pregnancy. I am 34, and I am out of shape. I am unhappy with the way I look, but perhaps more so, unhappy with my physical limits.

And, here is the rub…I am unhappy with a lot of the things our family eats out of habit, tradition, and in some cases, ignorance. The culture of ‘weight loss’ I’ve existed in for the past 8 years or so had me only focused on counts of calories and fat grams and occasionally fiber. What I’m learning is that there is more that counts. I might be able to eat a fairly tasty ‘8 point pizza’ for dinner, but if it is full of chemicals and preservatives, is it really a healthy choice?

So.. I am attempting, slowly, to limit the processed things we eat in our house. This isn’t to say we won’t still have ‘frozen pizza week’ when life gets crazy, but I am weeding out the unnecessary staples that I can. Pure maple syrup over the corn syrupy stuff. Natural peanut butter over the kind with 30 ingredients. And God help me… A LITTLE BIT of milk or cream and sugar instead of the heaping portions of flavored creamer that make turn my coffee into bliss. Real butter, always. I’d rather cut back on portions than eat any of that I Can’t Believe It’s Not Served In a Test Tube stuff that passes for buttery-like-substances.

I love to cook and bake, and even as a Work Outside The Home Mom now, there are ways to plan so that we’re not eating junk out of necessity or convenience. I don’t care if my kids eat a cookie in between school and dinner, but I’d much rather have it be a cookie with ingredients I have knowledge of, and a dinner with ingredients i can pronounce.

Today I made us the ‘Panera Bread Version’ of Broccoli Cheese Soup.

I substituted fat fee half and half and chicken broth, but the rest followed the recipe below, so it weighed in at just over 300 calories a serving. The girls painted at the kitchen table while I made it, and we all enjoyed the results…not just counting moments or calories, but making them count.

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From CD Kitchen

INGREDIENTS:
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups chicken stock or bouillon
1/2 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup carrots, julienned (yeah, I save time but sticking these suckers in the blender)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese

PREPARATION:
Saute onion in butter. Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half (this is called making a roux). Add the chicken stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Pour in batches into blender and puree. Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in the nutmeg and serve.

Oh yes, and I highly recommend serving everything with a side of this, which, if we choose, need not have any limit:

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