When I mess something up, at least everyone escapes with all their limbs intact.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Dinner, Anyone?

More specifically, Beef Stroganoff for Christmas dinner, anyone?

I needed a change. We've been eating ham so much the last few weeks, that even though it's traditionally what people eat, aside from turkey, on Christmas, that I decided we were going to blaze a trail tonight. After the success with Eggs Benedict this morning, I decided that I'd try my hand at beef stroganoff, a meal that I love but have never cooked. It's just a day of culinary firsts for me.

And, for realsies, I saw leftover beef stroganoff in my brother's fridge and was seriously covetous. SO! On with the stroganoff.

Take an 8oz carton of sour cream and mix it with 2 TBSP flour. Add 1c water, 2 TBSP beef bullion, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Reserve.
If you like it extra beefy, add another bullion cube.
In a skillet, saute 2c mushrooms, 1 clove minced garlic, and 1/2 diced onion in hot butter.

It was at this point I realized I forgot to add the onion.

Chop wizard = best kitchen tool EVAR.

The recipe calls for the steak to go in at the same time as the veggies, but I let mine sweat a little first. It gave me time to salt my steak tips and let them rest. Add in about 12oz of steak tips.

Steamy goodness

At the point of desired doneness for steak, add in the sour cream mixture and reduce stove to medium-high heat. Continue to stir until sauce thickens. Note - you may need to pour out some fat before you mix in the sour cream, but don't pour all of it out. You've got some massive flavor in there. Though the recipe doesn't call for it, I add frozen peas at this point because a meal without green is an incomplete meal. Just call me the vegetable nazi, ok?

Simmer & Stir, I like it like that.

Once the sauce has thickened, pour mixture over hot egg noodles and enjoy.


If your crowd is picky, be nice because it's Christmas and strain the mushrooms out of the sauce as you plate. Keep all the extra mushrooms for self.

It's not him who's against the mushrooms.

Pat yourself on the back and shove your spouse in the kitchen to clean up.

This is a really fast-cooking meal. Don't ever let someone try to feed you hamburger helper as a "quick fix" meal ever again, because this took less time to make than ANY of those boxed blood-pressure raisers and tastes WAY better.

Yes, husband, I mean you.

So You Want to Make Eggs Benedict?

It's a tradition in my husband's family to make Eggs Benedict every Christmas and New Years' Day. This is never usually a problem, as we are with his family when it comes time to the actual making of Eggs Benedict...only this year, we didn't make the semi-annual pilgrimage to upstate New York for Christmas. This posed a slight problem for us. I've never made Eggs Benedict. Sure, I've seen it made successfully...but I've also seen it fail wildly. Good chance I wouldn't pull it off.

Did that stop me?

To make Eggs Benedict, you'll need to assemble the following ingredients: Eggs (natch), Canadian bacon, butter (1 stick cut into thirds), lemon juice, english muffins, and white pepper.

Starbucks Double Shot is optional, as was the package of
peanut M&M's I consumed in the making of Eggs Benedict.

First thing you need to do is start water boiling for the eggs. Fill a medium-sized pan halfway full of water, and put that bad boy on high to boil. Once it boils, reduce heat to simmer.

Just in case you've never boiled water before.
It's okay. I won't judge.

Crack an egg into a measuring cup, then transfer into the water very gently. I found that putting the egg into a large serving spoon and slipping it into the water that way was effective. Make sure you keep space between your eggs. I only worked with 2 at a time in this pan.

My egg looks like an angel, no?

Let the egg simmer for 3-5 minutes. While you're simmering your eggs, you'll need to start your hollandaise sauce. Put an inch or so of water in another pan and set to boil. Set a metal pan over top to use as a double boiler (or, hey, if you have a double boiler, use that). Combine 3 egg yolks, 1 TBSP of water, and 1 TBSP of lemon juice in the double boiler. Add 1/3 of a stick of butter. Whisk until smooth and thick.

I'd never separated eggs before today, either. Save the
egg whites for another breakfast...like tomorrow's.
Make sure your husband points his finger at the mixture.
It's the secret ingredient.

While the eggs are boiling and the sauce is heating, pop a few pieces of canadian bacon in the microwave, just enough to heat them a little.

Mmmm...bacon flower.
Once your sauce looks thick, add another third of the butter and stir until melted and thickened. Repeat with the last third of butter. Add salt and white pepper to taste.

Whisk, whisk, whisk - keep it moving so it thickens but doesn't curdle.
No, that is not a curdle, it's the last third of butter melting.

Pop your english muffins in the toaster. At this point, everything should be about ready to come off of the stove. Place your toasted muffin nooks & cranny-side up, and top with a piece of bacon. Using a large slotted spoon, gently remove 1 egg from the pan and place on top of the bacon. Then, cover the whole thing with a good helping of hollandaise sauce.

If you're awesome, like me, it'll come out looking like this.
Serve, and have a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Phlegm. Let's Discuss.

The one and only thing on my mind right now is sinus pressure. And snot. But mostly sinus pressure. And throat soreness. And ear pain. But still mostly sinus pressure.

I'd like to thank my son for the exposure to all sorts of new germs. I've been sick more in the year and a half that he's been in daycare than I've been in the last decade, I kid you not. It's been especially bad during the colder months - last February I ended up with a nasty, nasty case of strep and followed that up with a wicked sinus infection that left me crying on the phone with my doctor a good 300 miles away on a work trip, begging him to call in an antibiotic to the nearest Wallgreens. Or CVS. Or street peddler. I wasn't going to be picky. Yes I'd tried a neti-pot. Yes I'd taken a steam bath.Yes I'd OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MAN, SEND ME THE DRUGS!

Something they don't tell you in those pregnancy and parenting books (among OTHER things), the little nagging bit of neglected insight, is that Mommy isn't allowed sick days.

Mommy is still Mommy, raging-phlem-monster-fever-murder-death-kill or not.

Mommy doesn't get to crawl back in bed and pull the covers over her head until it all goes away.

Mommy has to get up, shape up, and move on with her day because there are little hands that need washing and little noses (and butts) that need wiping and little mouths that need feeding and little boo boos that need kissing. There are dishes that need doing, laundry that needs folding, and floors that need vacuuming. That's what Mommy does.

Perhaps that's why it's taken me three weeks to finally realize I wasn't the only asshole suffering from allergies in mid-December...I've been harboring a damned sinus infection the whole time. Score one for Mom.

Not.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh, that's right, I have a blog.

I've tried several times to write a synopses about what all happened last week, and it just hasn't come out right. The things that happened, singularly, sound really trivial and I can't quite get the point across how difficult they were to handle as a whole without sounding like a whiny wimp, which I am most certainly not. However, I do feel justified in not writing about every little detail - especially not on a daily basis, as last week is one I'd rather not relive. It involved a lot of yelling, on my part, out of sheer life frustration.

This week has been much better. Started physical therapy, which is cool, I guess. The therapist is all "hey, you're in pretty good shape, really..." and I am going to spend the next 4-6 weeks practicing walking up a step because that's the only thing, aside from sensory nerve issues in my toes, that I'm really having a problem with. This surprised the therapist - she thought my issue would be balance, but it's not, my balance is great thanks to years of yoga (yet funny how I'm still such a klutz).  

The nerve thing will take time to heal, if it ever really does. I get to help it along by rubbing things of different texture on my foot - a towel, something soft, the toaster - to help the nerves relearn things. Like algebra.


On a much, much brighter note, I went back to the gym this week. I haven't seen my son so happy as when we pulled up to the gym and he realized he was going to get to play in the kids play center. He's been asking about it since I got hurt.  Finally got to that yoga class I was headed to when I broke my ankle in the first place, and it was good. I like the teacher. Made a new friend.


So this week is turning out not to be the polar opposite of last week, but at least a great deal nicer than last week. Will try not to be neglectful trollop in the future, blog. My bad and all. Lucky for you I couldn't sleep tonight.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Just a Dream?

Last night I had one of THOSE dreams. The ones that linger, stick with you - haunt you a little. They are at once a giant hug from the otherworld and a dagger in your heart. My Dad paid me a visit last night.

In the dream, I didn't know Dad was dead. That, or he wasn't dead - I'm not sure. But he HAD been gone for a long time, and I was really excited to see him and show him the new music I had downloaded while he'd been gone. I was especially anxious to show him that I'd found Robin Trower's "Bridge of Sighs" on MP3 and was going to make him a copy of it - in real life, many years ago, right before the Napster thing blew up and you could still download music for free, Dad made it a point to download that LP and we had a long talk about how awesome it was. This song reminds me of him sitting at his computer, eyes closed, just digging the music.

Anyways, back to the dream - so I'm going through and showing him music he'd like as we scrolled down my list alphabetically - we passed the CCR greatist hits compilation I'd downloaded just that morning, the Mumford & Sons album that he'd never heard of but I know he'd like, and then, finally, we found the Robin Trower album. I was specifically trying to find the "Bridge of Sighs" song, but no matter what song I opened it wasn't the right song, and the more I searched and the more frantic I became to find it, the faster and farther away my father went until he finally disappeared.

Obviously, I miss my father. But, I'm at the point now where the gut-wrenching sadness isn't something that happens every day, or even every week. It more is like twangs of wishing I could tell him something, or show him something, or give him something, or ask him something and realizing that no. I can't. Ever.

So when I have a dream like this, it's both a curse and a blessing. I got to see Daddy, and talk to him, and show him stuff that I've wanted to show him. For that fleeting moment, my world was whole. The trade-off is that now I have to spend the rest of the day actively missing him.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's Whiskey Pie Day!

Forget whatever you've heard about the fourth Thursday in November. It's all lies told by the man to keep us down.

This glorious day is really about one thing, and one thing only: Whiskey Chocolate Pecan Pie. Whiskey Pie for short. I love it so much that I insist on capitalizing it.

I discovered Whiskey Pie in 2008 at the Jack Daniels Restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee. My son was three months old, and my husband and I were in town for my work hosting a conference at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center (A magical place, by the way. It's literally in a bubble.). I was done with work for the day and we were having a lovely dinner - my son slept in his stroller the whole time - and when it was time to have dessert, there were two options: Whiskey Chocolate Pecan Pie and a Jack Daniels Coca-Cola Float. Guess which one I picked? The JD Float is a whole other story - one I'm sure I'll cover in the future.

For now, lets get back to the Very. Important. Bidness. Of. Whiskey. Pie.

I scoured the interwebz for several minutes last Thanksgiving to find a recipe that looked close to what I'd eaten. When I found one I was satisfied with (with satisfied equaling the author insisting that more Jack = better pie), I assembled my ingredients and made with the Whiskey Pie. It was a good first effort, but I took certain liberties with amounts of things (whiskey not being one of them - DO NOT use too much chocolate) and it came out more sweet than I'd have liked it to be.

This year, I solemnly swear to adhere to the recipe. Mostly.

Assemble your ingredients - having them right at hand makes things go much, much faster. Premeasure them if you're picky.

Guess who's not picky today?


This pie is really about these two ingredients right here - get high quality whiskey and pecans, and you'll get a high-quality pie. I, obviously, prefer Jack Daniels and Emerald Pecan Pie Glazed Pecans...which I'm sure is like buying bacon flavored bacon...which I would totally buy if someone made it...tangents.

Who am I kidding, it's really all about the Jack. Period.

Put three eggs in a mixing bowl - as a side note, if you don't have a scrap can that you use regularly, I highly suggest you find one. You don't have to buy Rachael Ray's garbage bowl or anything, we use this otherwise useless popcorn bucket from the Smithsonian Zoo. It makes my cooking life much easier.

Is it my imagination, or did I win the egg lottery
and wind up with a double yolk?

Add the following ingredients to the eggs: 3/4 cup of light Karo Syrup; 3 TBSP sugar; 3 TBSP packed brown sugar; 1 TSP vanilla extract; 3 TBSP butter (softened); 1/8 TSP salt. Mix.

You are hungry, no?

Chop up 1/2 cup of the pecans and add to the bowl.

You'll need two bags of the pecans...you'll eat the first
and need a second to finish the pie. Trust me.

Add 2/3 cup of Jack Daniels. Yes, I said 2/3 of a cup. THAT MUCH. Mix.

 
 That bottle was full when I started. I swear.

Take 1 cup of chocolate chips and gently tap them into the base of your pie crust. DO NOT ADD MORE. IT WILL NOT MAKE IT MORE YUMMY. QUITE THE OPPOSITE, IN FACT. Pour mixture carefully over the chocolate chips. Starting at the outside and working your way in, place enough pecans on the top to cover the pie. Because working from the middle out towards the edges is wrong and against all that is good in the world.

For something that tastes so good it sure as hell does look like shit.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Then, cover the pie crust edges with foil so they don't burn.

Nobody likes burned crusts. NOBODY.
Alternate caption: You wish YOUR foils looked this good.

Pop it back in the oven for an additional 15-30 minutes, or until a knife comes out of the center clean. Note: The pie will fluff up during cooking and look a little juicy - it's ok. It will flatten and set as it rests. Let it cool before you hack it up.

Behold the glory.

I said behold!

Extreme Closeup.
This is becoming my Thanksgiving "thing." My shtick. Because everyone has something they're good at. Mine just happens to involve booze.

Gobble gobble, ya'll.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

Last Thursday, my orthopedist gave me full blessing to walk, drive, and go to physical therapy. I have a mostly-partial blessing to resume my yoga practice (which is kinda what got me into this mess in the first place), as long as I avoid the more advanced stuff and any single-leg work on the right side. Which is fine.

I am out of that damned walking boot, and while I haven't burned it yet, it's on my to-do list. I worry that I'll need it here and there over the next few months. Instead of that blasted boot, I am wearing a really nifty ankle brace (not that exact model, mine's way cooler). It helps prevent my ankle from rolling over again. I've got this for the next six weeks. I go back to see the Doc again right before New Years.

SO! Walking. It's exciting. It's also painful in anything more than small quantities. And I did not walk in small quantities Friday OR Saturday. My calf and foot muscles want me to know, in no uncertain terms, that they are displeased with that decision. My leg muscles are rebelling. I want nothing more than to dip my legs into a hot tub and let them rest.

So what am I doing today? Totally taking E to a free preschoolers thing at NASA. What? It's rocketships and awesome and FREE, did I mention that?

I find myself still looking for my crutches, though. I am, finally, so institutionalized that I now think my disability is the norm and not the exception. I've started to ask my husband to do things for me that I don't need his help with anymore. I stop myself. I have to force myself to not immediately reach for a crutch that isn't there. It's...bizarre. Now that I don't have to be, I'm fully accustomed to being disabled. It only took 4 months.

Aside from the awesomeness that is walking and driving and generally being self sufficient again, I also got another job. A third job, to be exact. I have my day job, which I get to return to tomorrow; I have my Saturday phlebotomy job, which I will probably return to in 2 weeks; and now I have a freelance writing job. I happened upon it last week, was given 3 articles with a great price per piece, and haven't looked back since.

I'm really rusty; it's been 5+ years since I've written anything that wasn't technical or blog-ish, but I feel my voice starting to return. I like writing. I do. It's just been so long that I've lost my swagger about it. I have to get that back. I will get it back. It's just...like my ankle. I haven't used it in a while, and it's going to take some trial and error before it works right again. It'll never be the same, but it'll be a close approximation, and I'm ok with that.

**The cupcake project will (hopefully) resume this week, with spaghetti-garlic-bread-cups.**

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stars...Can't do it...Not Today

"You don't want to wait much longer because you think that you've been patient long enough. You aren't quite ready to initiate your plan today, but in your mind you have already escaped from the starting gate and are running the race. It's crucial now to pay attention to the differences between what you want and what you already have, but it's not yet time to bridge the gap. Taking action too soon can lessen your chances of success."

I'm not one to sit idly and do nothing. I'm (usually) always doing something. There's always something that can be folded, cleaned, washed, read, made, bought, played with - I am perpetual motion. "Ruthlessly efficient" has been used to describe me, and it's probably the closet description I think I've heard. I'm kind of proud of that assessment.

For the last 5 weeks, and essentially for the past 4 months, I have had to stop. Period. Just stop. This was very, very difficult for me in the beginning. Okay, fine, in the beginning it just didn't happen. I couldn't slow down. I did more than I should have, more than I had to, and more than was asked of me. I was so wrapped up in being better than my injury that I couldn't hear the subtle hints my body was throwing my way, ones I would have easily picked up on had I been quieter, easier, and less angry at myself for breaking.

It's funny, when Fate has a lesson to teach you, it makes damned sure you listen, come hell or high water. Instead of sitting down and listening to Fate in July, when I became injured, I was rude and waited until October to invite her in. Hey, at least I let her stand at my front stoop in good weather, right?

So began my lessons in the Fine Art of Doing Nothing. For about 8 hours a day, when Hubs and Tiny Tot had left for the day, I was schooled in patience, humility, and futility.

Presently, I have three days left until I can walk and drive again.

So when I opened my email and found the preceding horoscope (copied at top), I thought, "well damn...Fate knows me all too well, doesn't she?"

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    The Cupcake Project, Take One

    While I was dissecting the cupcake a couple of days ago, I thought about what a perfect size the cupcake was, how it was perfectly portable yet substantial enough to be filling, even if it only takes two or three bites to finish is off.

    Then, the stars aligned, the clouds parted, and a single ray of sunshine landed on my face. I knew what my (near) future would hold. My quest, should I (with relatively infinite free time) choose to accept it, would be to make as many meals as possible in cupcake form.

    First up: Breakfast! The general idea with this meal is to bake a biscut in a muffin tin, hollow out a bit of the top, pipe hot sausage gravy into the center, fill the hole with scrambled eggs, and top the whole thing with shredded cheese.

    All while making it still look like a cupcake.

    So. The into the pan, little piggies! One roll, preferably something with a kick, so medium at least.


    There's a reason we don't ask where sausage comes from.

    Let me know if you've heard the one about the eggs and the two-year-old. You'll need 8 of these, preferably scrambled by your own hand, not your toddler's.

    Eggs, meet toddler. Toddler, meet eggs.

    Sausage gravy: sausage, flour, milk, pepper. No extra salt needed. Whisk together in small batches until creamy.

    Why hello. I am here to whisk you away to a land filled with creamy,
    sausage-y goodness. Don't hold back...come with me

    You can never have too many cooks in the kitchen.

    Problem with the menu, son?

    One tin yields 8 biscuits, but you'll need two tins to use up all the gravy.

    Behold, the glory of Pillsbury.

    Give your kid a snack before you start this.

    A child displeased.

    Use a spoon to gut the first half of the biscuit. Use an ice cream scoop to pour sausage gravy into the hole.

    Oh, we're just getting started.

    Use the same ice cream scoop to place the scrambled eggs on top of the biscuit. Not trying to be picky, but the scoop really is the perfect size for this.

    From "101 ways to use your ice cream scoop."

    Use the pieces of bread you cut out for extra dipping, should you have more gravy than expected.

    Wait! We're still not done!

    Check the expiration date on your cheese before you start. Mold isn't an ingredient in this recipe. Please note, this shouldn't have "expired" for another 3 months. Liars.

    Expiration date fail.

    Have just enough generic cheese on hand, and give it a sniff test.

    All hail the generic cheese backup!

    Appreciate your handiwork.

    Viola!

    Enjoy.

    Yup. That's my bite mark right there.

    Oh, are they yummy. Perfect for brunch. It keeps together very well and is a very neat meal to eat - if you aren't a glutton about sausage gravy (like moi) then you won't even need any silverware.

    Next time, we'll be trying garlic bread & baked spaghetti cups.

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Anatomy of a Cupcake

    This one's for you, cupcake.

    Wikipedia defines a cupcake as a small cake designed to serve one person, frequently baked in a small, thin paper or aluminum cup. Mentions of cupcakes can be found as early as 1796, but it was in the 19th century that the treat got its name. Before muffin tins were available to the masses, these individually sized cakes were baked in pottery cups such as ramekins or other molds, thus taking their name from the cup they were baked in; the name stuck, and now the term is used for just about any small cake.


    On Halloween, I succeeded in creating the most amazing cupcakes known to have existed. They were amazing. There was magic in each sinfully moist, pudding-filled bite. It was "Om" with foil wrapping.

    So yesterday I attempted to recreate said nirvana with my toddler. We put the cake mix into the bowl. I let him pour in the water. Together, we cracked three eggs. Then, we took turns stirring the batter.

    Then I lost his attention (damn you, Caillou!) and put the batter into the muffin tray by myself.  Mom always gets stuck with the boring jobs.

    It wasn't until 20 minutes later, when I had pulled my trays out of the oven that I realized I had forgotten one simple ingredient: cooking oil. I had, in fact, had a rather detailed phone discussion mere hours before the batter was made about whether the oil was, in fact, still good (it was) and so for me to forget it after, for all intents and purposes, standing up for its honor, really made me feel stupid.

    My cupcakes sure did look like cupcakes...they just tasted like sugary cornbread. They were also mostly stuck to the non-stick, silicone bake ware. This made them totally unworthy of the vanilla pudding I intended to inject them with.
    Don't look straight at them, they'll turn you to stone
    So I made more batter (correctly) and stuck in the fridge.

    Today, I tried again. I emptied the batter bowl.
    Somebody's gonna have to wash that

    I divided it into all the cute little silicone muffiny-type-cupcakey-things I own.

    Don't fight it, you love the cow

    And shoved them in the oven. With loving care, of course. As much care as one can take when shoving.
    Not as dramatic as I'd hoped

    Because I varied the sizes of the cupcakes, I almost lost a few of the smaller ones while waiting for the biggins to finish. I rescued them just in time.
    No one gets left behind
    While the cupcakes were cooling, I took the cream cheese frosting and added food coloring to it - since we colored the pudding filling green, what say we make the tops purple?
    The necessities: sugar, water, fruit juice, wine, butter substitute, and ketchup.
    We don't eat solid foods here. Except cupcakes.

    Once the cupcakes were cool enough to handle without breaking, I filled a pipette bag with the pudding and filled each cupcake with yummy.
    Food porn

    Then, I filled another pipette bag with frosting (but, since I only have one REAL pipette bag, this time I used a Ziploc bag and snipped the ends) and put some on each little cake.
    If you look at is cross-eyed and sideways, it looks like a flower, no?

    AH....No, wait...sprinkles!
    Proof that my cheap ass bought clearance-bin Halloween sprinkles

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    The Best Parenting Advice I Ever Received

    During my pregnancy and for some time after (read, "until fairly recently") I dealt with antepartum/postpartum anxiety. Once or twice during my pregnancy and several times after my sons' birth, I had panic attacks. They were never so bad that I needed any treatment more than a "talking down," but they were enough to put dings in my fragile, post-baby marital relationship.

    My biggest fear, my unnecessary obsession, was that my son would die in his sleep. Correction: it was that my son would die during the night. You know, during my negligent hours spent sleeping?

    My son is perfectly healthy. Nothing should have caused me to think anything close to that thought. But I was convinced that he would die unless he was sleeping where I could have my hand on him and make myself absolutely sure that he was breathing, as if it was my touch alone that got him through the night.

    So, after the initial three months of co-sleeping while he nursed 2-3 times a night, I started to put him to sleep in his crib. I made the deal with my husband: the baby will stay in his crib until he wakes to be fed; then, he'll come into bed with us so I can sleep while he nurses.

    I would get him to sleep, then tiptoe in my own bed and turn the baby monitor volume to the loudest setting and wait for him to cry, fuss, or sigh loudly. It didn't take much. As soon as he made a noise that I could reasonably justify, I would hustle into his room, swoop him up, and go back to bed, relieved that I could finally rest because he was in my arms.

    My husband was not amused.

    Neither was I, but I couldn't stop the scary from happening. When the fear overtakes you it's nearly impossible to squelch it. Hubs didn't know how to handle it, so he'd get angry with me, and I didn't know how to help him help me, so I'd get upset with him for getting angry with me. It was a cycle, and in the middle of it was this poor baby who just wanted to sleep, eat, and poop in peace.

    So when Ethan was about 6 months old, I started therapy. We talked about things that effected me as a child, and while there weren't any "AHA!" revelations, the year I spent with her helped some. The overwhelming thing to come out of it was something I already knew - because my mother died in the middle of the night, my aunt died in the middle of the night, and a few other events like waking up to my grandmother smearing her own blood on the walls of her apartment in the middle of the night, I have issues with sleeping. Terrible things happen at night. Up until I moved in with my husband, I had a hard time falling and staying asleep. It would take me 2, sometimes 3 hours to fall asleep by myself. I would wake up throughout the night. (I don't have the problem anymore, even when I'm sleeping by myself. I can go to sleep reasonably now and the night waking is a random anomaly.)

    The single most profound insight during the first year of Ethan's life, which for me was arguably the most difficult, didn't come from my therapist. It came from my veterinarian. I've know Doc for close to 20 years. She's seen me through all sorts of pet issues, knows my family well, and we generally chat for some time after the animal-related topics are covered. I had brought my son into the office for our Boston Terrier's first visit, and I told her about my nightly issues checking on Ethan. She told me a story. This story would, for lack of a better word, "cure" my issues.

    Doc said: "When my oldest was a baby, he woke up all the time. All. The. Time. And I remember the first time he slept through the night. I woke up in the morning, noticed it was quiet, and instead of running to check on him, I rolled over and went back to sleep. My thought was, if the cops were going to take me away in the morning because my baby had died in his sleep, I was going to at least look well rested when they carted me off to jail."

    Deep down she knew he was fine, the bigger picture was that if something like that was going to happen there was no way she could stop it. You take reasonable precautions: put baby to sleep on their back, make sure they're not too hot, no blankets or pillows in the crib, etc. - but you can't control everything. So, you take these precautions and let it go. What kind of life is one spent worrying every minute of the day?

    So, as twisted as her (our) sense of humor may be, she had a very valid point. From then on (an even sometimes now, though not for a while) when I felt the scary coming, I would think about the story Doc told me and feel, well, silly. It took a little time, but eventually I stopped rushing into his room to make sure he was breathing, stopped swooping him up at every peep, and we all started getting better sleep.

    The best parenting advice I ever received: Do your best, and don't bother worrying about the things you can't control.

    Oh, and it's important to look well rested if you're going to jail.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    In a place called Vertigo

    Yesterday my body changed my plans for the day rudely and unexpectedly. Not less than a minute after I sent Hubs and E out the door to their respective destinations, work and playschool, and sat down at my computer to read the paper and drink my coffee, the room started spinning. My head became immediately swollen and heavy. I felt nauseous. I couldn't focus on the words in front of me.

    I was having a vertigo attack.

    I have an attack of vertigo about once every year or two. The last time I had an attack was during my last day of hospital clinical work for my phlebotomy certification (forever ingrained in my mind as the day before my father went into the hospital). Luckily, my supervisor also suffered from vertigo and had pity on me. I laid my head down in the back room until it was time for me to go home.

    For me, the attacks tend to come on when I'm dehydrated. The week of clinicals I was not sleeping a whole lot (my son was just shy of a year old and was still nursing twice a night, and I had to wake up at 3:30 to get to the hospital by 5) and was therefore living mostly off of coffee. It's no wonder my body gave out on the last day.

    I have to admit that I haven't been drinking a whole lot of anything except coffee recently, because it's cold, and that I haven't been sleeping really well because it's not comfortable to sleep in the walking boot. So, while I initially woke up with delusions of grandeur (folding laundry, sorting mail, etc.), my body was completely against anything that did not involve lying in bed with my eyes shut.

    If you've never had vertigo, it's like being drunk only you skip the fun part and go straight to lying as still as possible with one foot on the ground for stabilization. You feel like you have (and in most cases do) fluid in your ears. You have to move very slowly, especially your head, or you'll fall over. You can't watch TV, because the images move to fast for your brain to process and you start spinning again. Best thing to do is lie in bed, eyes shut, and listen to calming music. Hopefully, you fall asleep and wake up feeling better.

    So that's what I did until the worst of it was passed and I could walk without fear of falling - having to use crutches made yesterday's episode EXTRA SPECIAL. I took a decongestant to help dry up my ears, some tylenol for the swollen head, and ate ramen noodles to increase my salt and overall hydration level. Then, I got back in bed again and stayed there for another 5 hours, slowly increasing m y body incling until I was sitting up mostly straight without spinning or falling over. At 5, I ventured out into the living room to work on the laundry and drink another cup of coffee, which set me right. I was fine for the rest of the evening.

    So far today I've been ok, but I can feel my left ear getting a little watery and my head getting a little stuffy, so I'm going to go make some ramen and drink some tea and take it easy today. I'm very much looking forward to going to the craft store this evening and picking out some new yarn to work with.

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Reasons why I'll be sad when the election is over

    1. My mailbox will not be bulging at the seams. It was nice to know SOMEONE wanted to send me snail mail.
    2. Plus, with all the extra-large postcards I've received in the last few weeks, I'll be able to wallpaper Ethan's room! Who needs alphabet flashcards, we'll just tack these high-gloss babies on the wall and teach him his ABC's that way!
    3. I'll have to go back to watching regular, boring commercials instead of the high-intensity, fear-mongering ones I've come to love. They're like 30-second episodes of Criminal Minds!
    4. The newscasters will have so much less to talk about. Hope the crime rate goes up, these poor anchorpeople might lose their jobs!
    5. The phone calls! I'll miss my 8:30 p.m. chats with my new, pre-recorded friends. I've been SO popular recently, and they're REALLY good listeners.
    In all seriousness, the only chance you have at changing the state of the nation is casting your vote. Let your voice be heard in the war against apathy - exercise your right to vote.

    Serious props to Mom-101 for her blog post today, take a looksie and give her props yourself.

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Halloween, recounted

    There are no pictures of my son at Halloween this year. This is not because I do not love him, it is because I was lazy too busy helping throw a rockin' multi-family pre-trick or treating kids bash.  Then I was trick-or-treating on my snazzy scooter. A good time was had by all. Here are the highlights:

    1.  At the grocery store to buy candy and other assorted items to make our amazing party menu (Chili & French Bread, Baked Mac & Cheese, Boston Cream Cupcakes, and Chocolate, Peanut Butter, & Pretzel Spiders) I ran into probably 10 people I hadn't seen in a very long time, and none of them were people I was trying to avoid. I was genuinely happy to see all of them. 
    2. My cupcakes & spiders were a huge hit.
    3. The "Dragon's Blood Punch" was ok (Hawaiian Punch, Apple Juice, Cranberry Juice, and Ginger Ale - add Raspberry Vodka and Orange Liquor for the grown-ups) but not great. Will skip next year. 
    4. Lots of people came. We certainly had a full house, which was good because we made a shit-ton of food.
    5. While my son refused to wear his most awesome pirate costume, he did agree to wear his equally awesome Mario Bros. pajamas, thus saving me from being the parent of the kid who didn't dress up, which is what Halloween's all about, isn't it?
    6. Also, his preferred method of reaching the backyard was by way of the dog door. That's ok with me. It was easy to find him.
    7. At some point, my toddler and his father entered into a disagreement about getting into his little red wagon while trick-or-treating and his little pumpkin of candy fell, and it's hard to say what exactly was said but it was either, "My bucket! My bucket, Daddy!" or "Fuck it! Fuck it, Daddy!" I'm going to go with the first, I think.
    8. During the "Fuck it/Bucket" scenario, I spilled my drink. This made me sad.
    9. My son also invited himself into someone's house, causing the Dad whose turn it was to walk the kids up to the door to run in after him. Apparently, my boy had run through several rooms, found the oldest woman there and said "Hi Grandma!" before the Dad could catch him.
    10. I must have yelled at no less than 3 cars who were driving WAY too fast down neighborhood roads on Halloween night. They all slowed down. The speeding (and my yelling) happens every year, and it's dangerous. I'm bringing one of my officer friends next year and issuing citations.
    11. When we got back to the house, all the grown-ups took turns breaking the seal and eating the leftover party food.  We didn't make it out of my driveway before my boy was sound asleep. Lucky for us, he was already wearing his pj's!
    12. I woke up at 2am with raging vodka heartburn. I forgot, vodka and I don't get along anymore. It does me dirty. 
    And that's pretty much it. It was really fun, and I got to show off some of my Food Network skills. I'm all culinary like that.

    It was also nice to have Hubs along to trick-or-treat for the first time - he's had to work the last few years and miss all the fun. And Tiny Tot had so much fun running around with his cousins and friends, it was awesome to see. Him is getting all biggins now, and other cutesty mama-sayin' stuff.

    Saturday, October 30, 2010

    And suddenly, he hath forsaken the Isle of Sodor

    My toddler, like almost any young boy you'll find today, was completely enraptured with Thomas the Tank Engine in all his wonderful, stop-motion glory. For 15 minutes at a time, he would sit in silent awe, only daring to gently mouth the word "Thomas" with severe reverence lest he somehow disturb the characters on the television. He would grip his tiny hands around his two favorite trains: Thomas (natch), and Percy (though, try having your two year old say THAT name to you and not want to cringe/giggle/ask him to say it again. Say it out loud in your best two-year-old voice. AH, now you get it.). He was so excited about wearing his Thomas T-shirt, or using his Thomas blanket in his bed that had Thomas sheets...he was quite the fanatic.

    Then he started to lean towards Caillou, lovable, whiny, bald Caillou. Caillou and his little sister Rosie. Caillou and his frequently missing cat, Gilbert. Caillou and his gimmie-whatever-drugs-she's-on Mama. Etc, etc. Maybe two months go by where Caillou is the top entertainment dog, not Thomas.

    This brings us to last month, where I unearth the "Hero of the Rails" Thomas DVD that I'd misplaced. I was really happy to have found it and was so sure that he would be, too, that I popped it in the DVD player immediately and proclaimed it MOVIE TIIIIIIMMMMEEEE!

    Why did my toddler run into his room and hide behind the door?

    All of a sudden, he's terrified of Thomas. He won't watch it on TV, won't use his blanket, and most certainly won't go near that DVD. I tried showing him an old Thomas DVD that he had liked but I was met with cries of "NO THOMAS!"

    "Hero of the Rails" is a CGI movie; Thomas is generally stop action. I vaguely recall a couple of girlfriends saying that their toddlers, all Thomas freaks, were scared of the HOTR movie...but how could my guy watch it several times and THEN develop a fear of it? Is this a phenomenon? Do your kids fear the CGI Thomas?

    It's sad that he's letting this go, because we had fun as a family playing and watching Thomas. We will mourn him. I will mourn him especially while watching Caillou DVDs on repeat.

    Friday, October 29, 2010

    The Laundry Quandry

    Laundry. Let's discuss.

    I am probably one of the few people who loves doing laundry. I like the routine and cycle (ha!) of it. I like watching my pile of dirty clothes become a pile of clean clothes. I love pulling warm, wonderfully fluffy towels out of the dryer and pausing just long enough to shove my face in them and take a deep breath before I toss them in the basket. I even love shopping for laundry detergent - when I worked at the grocery store, it wasn't surprising to find me in the cleaning aisle smelling all the new and exciting laundry detergent and fabric softener scents. I'd get all excited when it was time to buy new stuff and I'd wash everything that could possibly construed as dirty just so I'd get to have that new smell on my clothes (you know, so I wouldn't have mismatched scents warring against each other...can't walk out of the house with your top smelling like Tide and your drawers smelling like Gain).

    One of my all-time favorite things is coming across the smell of someone else doing laundry - walking outside and having the Downy-fresh scent waft in your general direction.

    Mmmmmm. Wafting laundry scent.

    But...(and there's always a but, isn't there?)...I am positively allergic to putting the shit away. I'll sort it. I'll wash it. I get it dry come line or machine HELL, I'll even fold it. But I cannot, nay, will not, put in on a hanger or in a drawer.

    Unless it's my son's clothes, and then I have no problem putting everything away in nice neat rows of mostly color coordinated but definitely sleeve-length segregated and jeans vs. khaki separated drawers.

    I'm sure that in most relationships there is a yin to the yang, a partner who can take up the others slack. In mine, there is not. Hubs is equally incapable of returning cleaned laundry to its rightful place.

    And so, the laundry sits. Folded in baskets and laid out for hangers, the clothes wait to be put away. They never stay this way - we go to find something, some article of clothing I know I just washed and, dammit, I know it's stacked on the right bottom side of the blue hamper - and instead of putting the stuff away while we look for it, we merely move it to the side, or on a chair, find what we need, and move on. At first, we might carefully put it back in the basket, but after a day or two we have a hard time making hide or hair of what's clean and what's not, until laundry day comes again and I'm sniff-testing everything on my closet floor because it's just a big jumbly mess and I'm out of empty baskets because they're still full of LAST WEEKS LAUNDRY.

    It happens every. single. week. Once a month or two, we'll get a hair up our tushes and get everything sorted and put up, all facing the same direction on the hanger and his shirts sorted all "Sleeping with the Enemy"-like...but then our patterns slowly creep back and I end up as I was this afternoon, rear planted firmly on the floor among several piles of laundry (definitely clean, somewhat clean, OMG! That's foul!, and did something pee on this?) contemplating how much time and money I spend rewashing the same clean clothes every year.

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    Obsession

    No, not the Calvin Klein type.

    I become, shall we say, extremely focused on the attaining of goals once I have set them. I read everything there is, talk to people who have or might have known someone who had knowledge on the subject, and daydream scheme plot make plans.

    It's a tedious task for me, and one that makes friends and relatives run in fear when I've set my sights on something.

    Nicely put, I become obnoxious.

    I find myself presently in this predicament. I am obsessed with finding a new house - you know, one that's bigger than a breadbox? - in my hometown, where we spend most of our waking hours, and where my husband still works. Both our families are there. Nice place to live. Makes sense, right?

    So I've been working on our current house and had planned to have it on the market in September...only, my ankle had other plans. (Thanks, ankle! Cookie for you, and all.) Because I'm at the mercy of my injury, things have stalled. I'm really close to being done, and it's frustrating because at this point, I can't even clean my house effectively, let alone renovate.

    The house across the street from the one I grew up in, where my brother and his wife still live now, is going on the market. The elderly couple who own it have moved to a independent living community much more suited to their needs and their children are putting the house up for sale. I have spoken with the family, and we may be able to work out a deal in the next few months should the house not sell for what they wish.

    This house is beautiful. It has four bedrooms, two decks, and a fireplace. The yard is private, thanks to large, dense evergreen trees that completely block the neighbors view. The yard is large enough for my dogs to run happily and for my son to play and it's right across the street from my family. On MY street. In MY neighborhood. It's home.

    I felt so comfortable sitting there, talking with this couple's daughter. I felt like this could be home, and it felt wrong to leave it.  I'm already planning what room will serve what purpose, and where furniture will go, and how amazing it will be to have coffee on the deck in the fall, or be snowbound in the winter, or watch my son and my nephew play in the backyard come fall.  I want that house. I need that house. I have to have that house. NOW NOW NOW!

    Did I mention that I get a little obsessive about things?

    This is not the first time that I have had a feeling about a house recently. There have been several over the course of the past year. Suffice to say, I can pretty much see my family in any decent house that isn't the one we're living in now, for the most part.

    This one, though. This one is different, man. I can't stop thinking about it. I want it, and I want to work hard at whatever I need to do to get it. Problem is, I can't do the work because I'm recovering from this damned surgery. This vexes me greatly. I am a worker - I want something, I work hard, I get it. Right now I want something and I am in no position to do the work needed to get it. I am also not in a position to brow beat my husband into doing it, either. I'm really, really frustrated.

    I need to get my house on the market so that I can even have a shot at this place. It needs to happen really, really soon. Yet here I sit, on my tush, waiting for a "work party day" on Saturday when my husband can start to tackle the projects, with as much non-weight-putting-assistance as I can muster.

    This feeling will pass. It'll take a few days, I'll calm down and come back to reality. I know that what is destined to happen is going to happen. If this is supposed to be my home it will be.

    I just want to pick out paint colors while I wait.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    In hoping that the laundry will fold itself

    Have you ever tried to cross your legs comfortably with an orthodic boot on? It's not pleasant. Especially if you're a leg crosser to begin with, it becomes a very frustrating venture wherein you find yourself constantly shuffling your feet because, dammit, you just can't cross your legs.

    I am now a little over three weeks past my surgery. Where I was feeling strong only a week ago, I have backpedaled into feeling weak (break for attempting to cross legs - dammit!) and, well, weaker. I keep having to tighten the boot because my leg muscles are slowly deteriorating from lack of use. My toes are starting to go numb again. Every so often I forget that all this has happened and I stand up and even take a few steps before going "SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! Crutches! No weight bearing! GAAAAHHHH!"

    I have bruises everywhere. I have to take an asprin a day to keep the blood flowing freely through my non-stimulated leg and it's causing me to look abused. I bruise easily to begin with, so this is really disturbing to see. I have a bruise the size of my open palm on my good leg right under a knuckle-sized bruise on my knee, a series of small bruises on the knee of my bad leg from falling (and no, for the last goddamned time I'm not overdoing it, I fall. A lot. Katie = klutzy. I don't know why or how I'm so good at drawing blood because, really, I'm a hazard to myself.), a bruise under my left eye from an errant sippy cup that flew my way, and a bruise on the underside of my thigh from TRYING TO CROSS MY LEG OVER THE DAMNED ORTHODIC BOOT.

    My legs hurt. My ankle hurts. I feel the difference in my blood when I try to skip the asprin. MAKE. THIS. STOP. I want it to be over.

    I'm at the point now where I'm having to do a lot of things by myself and I'm more active than I probably should be. It's now that I need help.

    I'm whining.  This is not the post I intended to write, but it's probably the post I was supposed to write.

    I just want to clean my house. I want to pick up my son and walk with him. I want to drive my car.

    Most of all, I want to cross my legs in peace.

    **Edited twice for shamefully blatant grammar mistakes**

    Saturday, October 16, 2010

    Going Slowly

    This one's for you, Katharine. It's no novel, but it'll do for now.

    I'm a week removed from my ankle surgery. I'm not in pain anymore. In fact, my biggest complaint is that the boot I have to wear makes my toes go numb. I am my own worst enemy because I am klutzy by nature, so I fall on or kick something with my bad foot almost daily. I've borrowed the knee walker from my father-in-law again to help me be more self-sufficient (and fall less). Using this allows me to stand on my good leg while supporting my bad foot and keep my hands free to, say, make a sandwich.

    I occupy three spaces: the bed, the toilet, and my computer chair. Occasionally, I substitute the recliner for my bed, but for short periods of time. I finally showered last night. Judge if you will, but it wasn't the "come to Jesus" experience I was hoping for. My foot is still yellow from all the iodine disinfectant the surgeon used, but my hair is clean and my skin is soft. You try sitting on a chair in your tub and keep your foot on the back wall so it'll stay dry and tell me how glorious it is.

    I haven't had as many people come by as I'd hoped, but the help I've had has been capital-F-abulous. They've brought me Starbucks and chocolate and Bananas Fosters French Toast and cleaned my house so I'd sit still (I love when people are as clean-freaky as I am, or can at least pretend to be for a short while). They've taken my son out to breakfast and taught him to feed ducks at the pond. They've brought me fried chicken and chauffeured my son to and from daycare and rocked him to sleep at night. I've been a bit lonely on the days that no one has come, but it's kind of nice because I used to be alone a lot as a child and I kind of miss it.


    It takes me for-ev-er to do anything. Using the crutches makes it faster to get from point A to point B, but I can't carry anything and it winds me (lifting 200+ pounds with every step would wind you, too. Perhaps, when this is all over, I'll have disproportionately buff arms...no, wait, I'm back. I was lost in buff-arm land for a second. Apologies.). I've managed to use the knee walker to my advantage in terms of taking things, like a drink, from one place to another. I have strategically placed stable, flat surfaces throughout my house so I can take a cup, roll to the edge of the kitchen and place the cup on the microwave cart, then move the walker the step up into my living room while using one crutch that I've left against the wall to help support me, lean back far enough to reach the and roll it to the TV tray I've put next to the recliner (if that's my destination, then huzzah!) OR, I roll it to the edge of the living room where there is a step down into the foyer and at THIS point I stop and reach the cup around the corner to the hutch where I gently place it so that I can roll the walker down the step, pick up the cup, roll it over to my desk, where I set it down and dismount the walker in such a fashion that I only place body weight on my good foot and plant my rear in my computer chair. My house is not very big - it's 600 sq. ft., total - and this is a lot of effort just to read my blogs while drinking a cup of coffee. But, priorities and all that. It's more complicated when I'm trying to eat a meal that requires a plate, so I've taken to tossing whatever food I want into a large Tupperware container and then putting the whole thing into a plastic grocery bag that I can hang on the handle of my walker.

    It's more frustrating if I find that my cell phone is going off in the other room, and where I'd normally make two large strides to fetch it now it's a major production involving the walker, or crutches, or both.
    What I am truly enjoying about this whole thing is the amount of Food Network Television I've been able to watch. It's like daytime-TV crack.

    So, in trying to get the melancholy out of my system, I've left out the fact that I feel a lot better. I'm getting some random things completed that I'd never have time to do otherwise, and seriously, for the first time in the past 3 months my foot doesn't hurt, which is awesome. I'm doing well, and taking it easy, Katie-style.

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    It's what's on the inside that counts...

    I had a minor epiphany today. I had one yesterday, too, in fact, but we'll concentrate on the one I had about 20 minutes ago. I hate minor epiphanies, because a seemingly small grain of enlightenment clouds my thoughts for at least the rest of if not multiple days to follow. Growth usually comes of it, but it's a stressful,  humbling, and difficult process in the meanwhile.

    I've always said, and will continue to say, that I don't give a rats ass what other people say about me. Period.

    Comments like, "what will the neighbors say?" dumbfound me in a way that I can't quite explain...like, why should that even be a blip on your radar screen (unless your plans include bulldozing their house, which then YES, I WONDER WHAT THE NEIGHBORS WOULD SAY).

    Yet I am incredibly self conscious.

    Last night, my husband casually said he wanted to have a friend over after work.
    I, uncasually,  flew into a panic.

    Me: "The house is filthy! The carpets need to be washed and the sink is full of dishes and there are clothes all over the floor in the closet!"

    Husband: "So? He doesn't care, he's not like that."

    Me: "It doesn't matter.It's so gross."

    Mind you, it's really not that bad. Yeah, I've got some dishes in the sink and yeah, someone in my family needs to learn to pick up the laundry off the floor (cause none of us do it, currently), and hells yeah, the carpet needs a washing...but really? My house is pretty damned clean.

    I grew up in a dark, cluttered mess. We weren't really allowed to have people over because our home was shameful. People weren't supposed to see how we lived. It's taken a long time to work through this, because I always thought people didn't care. My friends didn't. But I was constantly told otherwise - "people care, just because they don't say it your face doesn't mean they don't care." I dismissed this...in part, at least. Apparently.

    Fast forward to today, as I regailed the saga o'dirtiness to a friend. The more I explained how I felt, the more of a hypocrite I felt like. But why?? I don't really care what people say, they don't live my life. It's of no consequence to anyone else but me and my family. I stand by that. I don't care what people say.

    But I do care about what they think.

    You know. Not what they think in general, that's equal to what they say. It's the things people think but never say. I care about that. Because, among other things, I tend to be judgemental...silently. I am guilty of what I fear. I think that most of us are, when faced with things we either don't understand or don't have all the information about, or when faced with a success in light of our own failures.

    So, now what do I do with this knowledge? I guess it's a slow process to changing ones thinking. But letting it out is a good step. I've found that the more tolerant I am of other people, the more tolerant I feel other people are with me. The "put it out there and receive it tenfold" kinda deal.

    In that realm of thinking, I end this post by wishing you all happy windfalls of 10-20 thousand dollars a piece.

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    Progress

    I've heard that after the first few bites that you can't really taste anything anymore, and that may in fact be true...it just wasn't Friday night. I had an awesome pizza - I got the thin and crispy crust veggie pizza and the crust was amazing! So good. Buttery, flaky - I just had to have more! But, I figure 3 pieces of that pizza was better than the 3 pieces of sausage and pepperoni my husband ate...and interestingly enough I feel groggy (from lack of sleep) but not like I OD'd on carbs, which is lovely. Nothing will replace a stuffed-crust pizza, but I'm gonna get really close with this thin crust. AWESOME!
    I didn't  make it to pilates Sunday morning, but I did spend a few hours with Ethan in the pool (watching him jump off the diving board OVER and OVER and OVER). I hope that helps make up for it.
     
    I went over my calories/points Sunday, but not by much. I was really looking forward to dinner and I'd worked hard over the weekend, so I figured an extra helping of tuna noodle casserole wouldn't hurt.


    I did really well at the grocery store this week - got $150 of groceries for $64. All good stuff, too - I think the only things that weren't healthy and low fat were the microwave pizza's and poptarts that I bought my husband.

    I got some fresh pre-chopped peppers/onions to add to my steamed omelettes because I suspect the reason those omelettes are turning out so runny is because I was using frozen veggies in them - my suspicion was right. I also got some more salmon, which I had for lunch Monday with brown rice & veggies. MMMM. It was really satisfying, I think that my body has been seriously lacking in the Omega-3's department.
     
    On Monday night I let my husband cook dinner...and really, I told him to make him and the baby chicken nuggets and fries. We had 2 packs of mini nuggets so there was plenty...except I didn't expect that he's actually MAKE both of them. So what did I do when I got home from Zumba? YUP...ate 18 of those little buggers. So good, though. And, in my defense, I still stayed under my calories (if not my points...) for the day. And yes, I felt gross and sluggish Tuesday morning. Funny how food does that too you.


    At Pilates on Tuesday we had a substitute instructor so I wasn't sure what to expect, except pain. Lots of pain. However, she kinda went easy on us. Our regular instructor really pushes us. This lady led a much gentler class, and while I still worked up a sweat I didn't get the same sense of accomplishment afterwards that I usually do in Pam's class.

    I notice that now that I've been exercising regularly that my body craves it. The first three days of the week have been my exercise days...by the time Sunday rolls around I am feening for a fix! In a few weeks I'm joining a gym where I'll be able to go every day if I want, and I'm very excited about feeling good all week :)

    I think I may have been off on my initial weight...I didn't actually weigh myself on the 8th. I took what my last weight had been three weeks ago (the last time I stepped on the scale). So, while I HAVE in fact lost this much weight, I didn't do it in a week's time. I've lost 2.5 pounds since my last weigh in on the 11th for a total of 11 pounds so far. I can't help feeling like it'd be more, though, if I hadn't gorged on chicken bites this week but oh well. Move on. I'm packing for a work trip tonight - we're staying at a hotel with a mini fridge and a microwave, so I've packed easy mac and chef boyardee for lunches for the boys and I've got single serving brown rice, chicken breasts (to steam), and steam-in-bag veggies to make for dinners. I'm also going to bring some romaine heart and cucumber for salad. The hotel has free breakfast, including eggs, sausage, and yogurt, so I'm good in that department. I'm still going to bring cheese bites and hard boiled eggs to snack on. I'm really excited to see my VA Beach coworkers, I miss them a lot, and I'm really excited to be back in the field, my element. I'm also excited to introduce Chris to Virginia Beach and hope he loves it as much as I do. And Ethan...well, everyone just can't WAIT to meet him :) I know they'll love him to bits.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Temptation and Addiction

    Holy emotional eating, Batman! This evening's events triggered my "stress eating" gene...no worries, I didn't deviate from my planned meals, but I'm really fighting the need to soothe my nerves with carbohydrates. It all started when I got home this evening and found that my beagle had destroyed my blinds in the office, peed twice in my closet, and brought a plant in from out in the backyard and dumped it on my living room carpet. Welcome home, Mom!

    I know the answer is more attention, and I truly am going to give it. In my perfect world I'd be home with my family, giving them all the attention they deserve. But reality forces me to work full-time, and for the next year or so until we can pay down some debt and relocate to a house more suited to a young, growing family, that's not going to change.

    Cleaning up the mess, I felt the erie, creeping feeling of addiction encompass my spine and neck, all the way to that little part when it meets the brain - the hot, liquid silver fury that was begging - BEGGING? DEMANDING! NOW! To be cooled and soothed by that amazing piece of chocolate, by another helping of pasta, by just a few cookies. I could feel the anticipation of satisfaction, the parasympathetic reaction that proved to me I was reacting to the stress of the situation and not to my appetite - I could feel the soothing calm release of the food without actually eating anything. My body was tricking me...tempting me.

    Knowing is half the battle, and so armed with that knowledge I continued with the evening agenda - bath, stories, and bedtime for my blonde boy. Now, I'm writing to kill the craving. Good battle plan, no? I felt and fought this same feeling when I quit smoking. I beat it then, I can beat it now.

     I'm otherwise really excited - this weight-loss go round, I've switched up my tempo. Instead of trying to conquer the diet aspect first I've begun conquering the exercise portion. I'm in week 4 of a fierce pilates class and week 2 of twice-weekly zumba classes, and I'm finding that I'm choosing healthier options based on how my body feels because of these classes. My husband made a deal with me that we could have another baby once I got back to my healthier fighting weight...and that's really the motivation I need. Oddly enough it's the best carrot to dangle in front of me.

    This week I signed up with Fatsecret to track my food intake online as opposed to on paper, and I find the nutritional info very helpful and the search feature very easy to use, so I feel I may stay with this one.


    I met with a local gym today. I've been taking classes piecemeal style at about $100 per month, and for $25 a month PLUS $10 for their babysitting service (which is a HUGE bonus) I can attend as many classes as I want and use all the equipment I want. I am going to sign up when I get back from the 4th of July vacation.  My ideal goal would be to go to a different class 5 or 6 days a week. Having babysitting onsite makes it something I can do with my son, so when Mommy goes to the gym he doesn't feel left out.

    My pilates class this week was the first one where I felt capable. I felt strong. I felt like I could do the maneuvers properly and afterwards, I felt amazing. Now, the few days since the class...yeah, I kinda want to cry a little. But it's getting better...slowly but surely, it's getting better.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    Fog

    I have been in a fog recently. I can't quite explain it. My brain is stuffy. There are clouds behind my eyes. I move in slow motion.

    I am usually lightning fast, sharp as a tac, and quick to focus.

    I just don't care.

    Which, again, is unlike me. I care too much about EVERYTHING. I overthink EVERYTHING. I sense DRAMA with each passing moment.

    It's just that, now, I don't.

    Here's where perception comes in, because I have two thoughts on the matter -

    Thought the first: OH HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, I'M DYING! SOMETHING IS TERRIBLY WRONG!

    Thought the second: Is this what it feels like to let the small stuff go?

    I then have sub-thoughts.

    Sub-thought the first for thought the first: CRAP! What will this do to Ethan's fragile psyche?

    Sub-thought the first for thought the second: If ambivelence is the opposite of worry, I'm not sure I consider that a step in the right direction.

    Sub-thought the second for thought the second: When you worry about the things you can change and stop worrying about the things you can't, doesn't that leave you at a disadvantage once the things that you can't change become things you really could have changed if you'd thought about it?

    Then, I have a final thought on the subject:

    Final thought: Eh.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010

    Perception

    My son woke me up at 6:45 am yesterday morning. For a few, blissful moments, I had all the love I needed snuggled into my bed - husband, son, both dogs, and 1 of the 3 cats. Ethan placed his little chubby hand on my face a smiled, "Mommy" before he crawled off the bed in search of breakfast, his two canine shadows in tow.

    We made it to playschool by 9 and parted ways with little fanfare. My office, a step across the parking lot from him, waited.

    For the next 5 hours I printed, sorted, collated, downloaded, consulted, and packed, all the while keeping one eye on the ominous forecast of gusty thunderstorms with hail, possible snow - a treacherous mix for working outside.

    By 2, I'm on the road to pick up a coworker, my partner in crime for the weekend's data collection activity, my new right-hand-girl who's got a serious knack for keeping me on point - she's phenominal. I trust her.

    Traffic turns a 45-minute ride to Baltimore into an hour and a half one - no worries, timewise, though my car is running just past too-hot-for-my-liking and has developed this fantastic new tendency to drop gear when up-shifting. I guess her 120,000 miles is starting to show.

    At 3:30 it's 84 degrees, and you can feel every single one of them sitting on I-83 in traffic-of-an-unknown-cause. The GPS says we'll reach our destination at 7 - plenty of time for a sit-down dinner, right?

    Good conversation keeps the atmosphere moving if not the traffic for the next hour as our arrival time slowly creeps from 7 to 8. That little restaurant next to the gas station overlooking the Susquehanna River? A diamond in the rough. That storm I'd been eyeing all morning started to blow through as we finished dinner, causing the outdoor seating to cross the patio in the process. We ran to the car, just missing being pelted by hail.

    Route 322 cuts through and around a mountain, making this leg of the trip a joy to drive and view. Thanks to the storm, fog rises from different parts of the mountain so high and thick you have to really wonder if they're not fallen clouds. The trees are so dense and populous you can't tell if roads run through them or not and burst with color so rich you'd think you were looking at them with new eyes - so many shades of green, they seem to be in high-definition.

    Nightfall brings more rain but less visability. It's ok - the hotel is about 20 miles away. We arrive a little after 8 with just enough time to check the radar once more before our scheduled rendezvous with our local contact. It's survey time.

    Fast-forward to today: I've been up since 9 am, when I rushed bleary-eyed and unfocused to the hotel lobby to scavenge whatever it was that I could from the free hot breakfast bar before they closed it.

    I'd only slept 4 1/2 hours.

    After less-than-overwhelming findings (cheese omelets should NOT require force when cutting), my coworker and I set to wrapping up last night's data collection - sweatpants, doo-rags, and E! Entertainment television complete our office-on-the run setting as we look over last night's work and prepare for tonight's festivities. We break to shower before lunch, where we hoof it around downtown for a short bit before returning to the hotel in an attempt to nap again. I have little success.

    So now, at 6 pm, I've got less than 3 hours before it's time to run the circle once again. All afternoon I've thought about my family, how much I miss them, how it's just a few more hours before I fall before a symphony of baby hugs and puppy kisses, how I'll get to have a real sit-down dinner with my husband tomorrow night it's so close - not too much longer! I miss the warmth of lying back-to-back with Chris, dogs both at my feet and at my knees, a cat above my head and one by Chris' belly, of that moment right before Ethan wakes up where I hear him rustle and wait for his call - -  "Mommy?" I don't have that here, where it would be expected that I lounge and rest and take advantage of a respectible amount of quiet and time to myself. It's all wrong. Love doesn't feel this lonely, this separated from everything but voices on the phone cajoling, "say nite-nite to Mommy, say I love you Mommy."

    But as I start to really wake up for the day, as I look around at my blue and orange bags and my blue and silver research team jacket, I smile. It's a smile of potential. Of excitement. Of gleeful anticipation.

    I love my job. Even if it does mean being away from my family sometimes. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

    I am lucky and blessed, on many fronts.