Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

I'm not big on making resolutions. It seems kind of silly. I gave it a try last year, but didn't do so great. I think it's because I felt like I was forcing myself to do things I'd rather not do. I decided to make some manageable resolutions this year...

1. My house will be cleaner. (I can see my sisters rolling their eyes right now because I'm always freaking out and cleaning, but they haven't seen the basement or the bookcase in my bedroom.)

2. I will be more conscious of what I'm eating. I've defied the diet I'm supposed to follow and I'm seeing the sad results. I've gotta keep thinking...HEART HEALTHY! This is the only ticker I've got and if I'm going to run the half-marathon in 2008, I need to treat it a little bit better. FYI: I was supposed to run the 2007 half-marathon, but had to withdraw due to a kidney infection that had a huge impact on my training schedule. Bummer.

3. I will work less. I've been on vacation for the past week and haven't checked my messages or called a single co-worker at all. It was very liberating. Working less=More time with my sweet kiddo.

4. I will not wait for a special occasion to get a pedicure.

5. I will finally finish writing my book. I may not get it published, but I will get it finished.

I think that's enough for now. Anyone else out there making resolutions?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Traditions (?)

Well, the Christmas celebrations kicked off on December 22nd with a visit to my parents. It was sort of a traditional Christmas gathering, complete with a nice, sit-down dinner. It was relatively peaceful, and really enjoyable with my little nephew having his first Christmas. Nothing beat all the kids opening up their gifts and "oooh"-ing and "aahhhh"-ing over their new treasures. My munchkin was especially thrilled with a box of dress-up clothes. She's getting to that age where she really enjoys fantasy-play.

Sunday the 23rd, we made long, arduous drive to the Hicktown of the Great White North--also known as Lomira, Wisconsin. The drive normally isn't too bad, but the weather was not cooperating at all, and we needed to stop and eat. It ended up taking about 5 hours total. We had a nice visit with my husband's youngest brother and wife. Things started getting a bit hectic Christmas Eve when my mother-in-law (also known as Grandma Claus) showed up with about 200 gifts. I swear, I'm not exaggerating. My sister-in-law and I were almost in tears, because we had agreed we would sort the gifts ahead of time for easy-opening on Christmas Day. It took about 2 hours; and all of that was blown to bits later when Grandma Claus came back later with more gifts and then moved our neatly made piles. Then there was a fight, because even though my husband told his mom about a month ago that we needed to leave by 11:30 on Christmas morning, she had a fit and said we were messing things up for everyone else. She ended up calling my husband's other brother and insisted they come that night and spend the night. So, he, his wife and two kids came late Christmas Eve. Really late. Late as in my little girl woke up and would not go back to sleep. Everyone ended up spending the night. There was a lot of drinking. And playing video games. And arguing. And more drinking. My husband and I rarely drink at all, so it was a bit anxiety-provoking.

In between all of that, there was a big fiasco about how we don't go to church for Christmas. This has been an argument since our daughter was born. We do not bring our daughter to church on Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday or Christmas. It's really long, terribly crowded, and honestly, we get cranky. We attend church the rest of the year, and even though most Catholics would be shocked, we just choose not to go on those days. Actually, I go on Palm Sunday, but the kiddo stays home with daddy. We all skip Easter and Christmas. But I digress.

Anyhoo, my sister-in-law had to follow up on some work-related issues because she was on-call Christmas Eve and wasn't able to put dinner together before church. I told her it was no big deal--the rest of the family could go, and we'd make the lasagna while they were gone. It was a different recipe, one I hadn't made before, but it was really, really good. We pulled it off without a hitch, except for the fact that it bubbled over some in the oven. *Someone* was really upset with me. I promised to clean it up, but it was met with huffy sighs and eye-rolling. Ah well. No good deed goes unpunished, right?

During dinner that night, there was another fight between my hubby and his mom about us leaving early, and of course, the whole guilt trip about how she was going to have to get up at 4am to make dinner. She was told she didn't have to--we were going to eat breakfast, open gifts, grab a snack and then hit the road. Oh no. She was having none of that. She was bound and determined to make a complete dinner so the family could sit and eat before we left. I appreciated the effort, but she knew plenty in advance that none of that was necessary. And she refused our suggested alternative to have a nice Christmas Day breakfast or brunch.

Christmas morning finally rolled around. The kids were excited to open their gifts. Mountains of gifts. I personally struggled with the severity of the...I don't know what word to use...excess? I mean, this was beyond excessive. And speaking of excess, due to the imbibing of certain family members the night before, tempers were flaring and by 8:15am, many adults were on their second rounds of Bloody Marys. Yeah. Then there was yelling about how the kids were too loud. Except that they weren't. Not at all. But I guess hangovers do that--kind of amplify all noises. Now, after two hours of opening gifts, the kids started getting irritable and fussy--they're all under the age of four, mind you, and the parents finally just started tearing them open to get them finished.

My mother-in-law guilted us into staying to eat. That was uncomfortable because the (by then, quite drunk) brothers and sisters-in-law were complaining that it was too early to eat such a big meal. So, 11:45am is too early to eat some turkey and potatoes, but 8:15am isn't too early for Bloody Marys and bottles of Watermelon Smirnoff? Go figure.

We finally, blessedly, got out and made our way home. The drive back was better than the drive up and we spent the evening relaxing. We had an intimate family Christmas the day after, just the three of us. It was wonderful and peaceful. My daughter's favorite gift was a Hello Kitty wafflemaker and a Little People school bus. Then we spent the day just hanging out on the couch. Nice.

So, just to reinforce, I'm having the Christmas gathering at my house next year. A nice brunch--with whole grain pancakes, a fluffy egg quiche, and of course, Hello Kitty waffles. I can't wait.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sweet Relief

Well, I got my computer back up and running, so the three hundred packs of Rolaids I bought in anticipation of my body freaking out and sending liquid hot magma through my esophagus can now get shoved to the back of the linen closet.

I lost a lot of information--all of my music and most of my Word documents, but I was able to save all of my pictures. The music is no big deal--I can download all of that again when I have time (...time? What is this four-letter-word I speak of??). The Word documents, I'm pretty bummed about. The only good thing is that I have hard copies of everything for the classes I teach, so I can re-type all of them. My handouts needed some updates anyway, so I'm looking at this as an opportunity to improve. The pictures--wow. It was by a sheer stroke of luck that I downloaded all of my photos onto CD-Rs only two days before the hard drive went kaput. Strange how that works...women's intuition? Dumb luck? I don't know. But I'm so glad, because I have almost a thousand photos--mostly of my cutie-pie daughter, that are now safely backed up.

Funny thing...I got a flash drive that's big enough to back up my whole system. Too little, too late, but much needed and very appreciated, MIL!

I've got some fun stuff to share about Christmas--stories about screaming toddlers, too many gifts, lasagna and Bloody Marys. Good times, I tell ya. I'll have to share another time, though, because right now, I'm exhausted. It's that whole post-holidy-family-get-together-syndrome. Next year, I'm hosting Christmas Eve at my house. Still stressful, of course, but at least I won't have to go anywhere.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Loud Screaming...

...because for the second time in less than a year, Windows XP has crashed my hard drive. I've spent a good chunk of today trying to retrieve my files. It's a long, arduous process, and a pain in the you-know-what. Postings will be few and far between until I get this fixed...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Slow Night

I don't know what I did to be blessed with such an amazing, beautiful child. After dinner, I spent the evening with my daughter, and all she wanted to do was snuggle in my lap, with her warm, soft cheek pressed against mine. Before I knew it, an hour had passed. Then she sang me a song ("Happy Birthday" even though it's not my birthday yet) and wrote her name for me. Afterward, she splashed around in the tub for fifteen minutes then curled up in my lap again so I could read her a story. She was asleep before I got through the first page.

For a half-hour, I sat, quietly rocking, thinking about the hours spent in that chair when she was an infant...the hours I spent nursing her and stroking her soft head, singing to her. She's two and a half now, and the rocker is starting to squeak a little. I think that's testament to how much time we've spent in it. I love watching her sleep--her little, round face is so peaceful and relaxed. I wish I could sleep like that. And yet...I would gladly give up hours and hours of sleep to watch her sleep. In fact, I think I'll skip the household stuff tonight and sneak into her room for a few minutes and watch her in her peaceful slumber.

Funny how motherhood does that.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rise and Shine!

Holy cow, it's not even 6:30am and I'm a raw bundle of energy!

I just finished a 2-mile walk/jog workout. It's better than coffee. Or, at least I think it is, because I don't drink coffee. Lots of my co-workers ask me why I get up so early to exercise, when I could do it in the evening after my daughter goes to bed. I tell them that there's too much other stuff to do around the house after she goes to bed--laundry, dishes, cleaning bathrooms, mopping, etc. But it's more than that. My workout time in the morning is the only time I have to myself to be alone and enjoy some peace and quiet. And I pray, too. I think God can hear me better in the mornings before my day gets too chaotic and noisy.

Okay, enough of the feel good stuff. I have to pull myself together and leave for work in 45 minutes, but it's good, because after I get through today and tomorrow, I have a week off. Hooray!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Good Day Continued

I found this template at www.finalsense.com. That made my day go better!

My little girl came barrelling into my arms after a long day, shrieking, "I love you so much mommy! Hug me!"

My husband promised to rub my back tonight.

My jeans fit. After the whole fiasco of trying to squeeze into teeny-bopper jeans, I got my behind into a wonderful, comfy pair. And I don't even need a long sweater to conceal anything!

Yay!

Good Day

I'm sneaking a few minutes on a break at work to post really quick. I'm having a good day today! No particular reason, but I felt like sharing. My boss, who is a great woman, took the whole management team out for breakfast, so I'm stuffed silly and it's doubtful I'll eat anything else until dinner tonight. Plus, I'm getting some warm, fuzzy feelings that I do believe may be the return of my Christmas spirit! I was feeling kind of Scrooge-ish for a few days, but now I'm ready to dress in an elf costume and drink hot chocolate. Okay, maybe not the elf costume! But on a related note, I had a funny dream last night that my husband bought me a submarine for Christmas. A REAL submarine. And it was tied with a big, red, sparkly bow. Strange...I wonder what that means?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Under Construction

I'm going to be playing with some new templates. Something's up with this template--the margins keep cutting off and it's getting annoying. I'm bummed because I like this format, but I'm sure I can find something comparable. So, we'll see what happens over the next few days. The last time I did this, I lost all of my links, my profile, everything. I'm going to be very careful this time around...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dump Truck

Warning: Mindless ranting ahead.

Bring on the dump truck, because I've got a big load of guilt to dump...

Working full-time and being a mom and wife is way more difficult than I thought it would be. I feel bad enough, and believe me, I do a perfectly wonderful job of feeling guilty without any added help.

I need to figure out a way to (kindly) tell my husband that.

Tonight, our dear, darling daughter is on sleep strike. She should be tired. In fact, I think she is tired, but is just in that loopy, two-and-a-half-year-old state of mind. The state of mind that says, "Sorry, but you're not the boss of me and you can't make me go to sleep even if it is two full hours past my bedtime." The good thing is that she's laying in bed--reading books and singing at the top of her lungs, but at least in bed.

So, where does the whole guilt thing come in?

Okay. Since July, I've been working my regular job, doing all the "regular" stuff that I do around the house, plus teaching two graduate classes at night. That means two very long days, back to back. It also means that I miss my little munchkin's bedtime two nights in a row. That by itself is enough to make me shrivel up into a rotten-mommy prune. But tonight, I was expressing some anxiety about why our daughter doesn't seem to want to go to sleep, and my wacky husband says, "Well, I think she's tired, but she's just fighting it because she wants to see you before bed and she never knows what time you're going to get home."

Ouch.

Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but now I'm feeling mean. I love my husband, and part of that love extends into me wanting to occasionally kick him in his keester. Like now.

Here's my mindless rant...Never mind the fact that I'm working an extra job to pay off the mountain of medical expenses we've had since our daughter came barrelling into lives--she's a beautiful, wonderful blessing. But an expensive blessing. Never mind that for the first two years of her life, I was the one taking care of her every single time she was sick. Never mind that I used all of my sick time at work and had to dip into the little bit of vacation time I had to cover the time. Never mind the days when I was home with her, pounding her back to break up the crud in her lungs, forcing steroids into her tiny body to help her lungs stabilize and cleaning up the vomit that resulted from the breathing treatments. Never mind the anxiety riddled-days and sleepless nights, trying to maintain the delicate balance of, well, everything. Never mind the hours I've spent rocking her, singing to her, reading to her, praying for her and with her...and never mind the fact that I would do it again in a heartbeat, not even a hint of hesitation in my mind or soul. Never mind the fact that the motherhood is as new to me as fatherhood is to him.

Never mind any of that.

And never mind him, either. People have told me that being a mother is a thankless job. I don't buy it. Being a mommy is the most rewarding thing I've done in my life. Now, the possibility that being a wife is a thankless job, maybe that's another story.

I'm making a mean face, because my husband is standing right behind me, all smiling and telling me he loves me. I should feel guilty about posting this. But I don't. Yet.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Body Image

I went shopping first thing this morning. On a Saturday. Ten days before Christmas. Ugh.

I'm more of a window shopper, but today, I was on a mission. I really, really needed a new pair of jeans. My most favorite, soft, broken-in, perfectly conformed to my body, mid-rise, bootcut jeans with just a hint of stretch, went to the The Big Closet in the Sky. The zipper broke. Bummer.

Anyway, I just need to rant for a minute. I'm not skinny. I'm curvy in all the right places, a little too curvy in some of the wrong places, but for the most part, I'm pretty comfortable with my body. Today, though, I fully realized that there's a reason why so many women have body image issues.

It's the darn designers of clothes. Seriously.

Since when can I slide beautifully into a size 10 pair of jeans, but all of a sudden--when I haven't gained or lost a single pound in several weeks--the NEW jeans I tried on just didn't fit, even though they were my regular size? And it wasn't that they just didn't fit. It was that I could barely get them over my knees. I grabbed a few more pairs in different sizes, and finally reached the peak of disgust, when, jumping around the dressing room, I realized I was trying to squeeze myself into a size 14 and couldn't get them to zip.

Apparently, "slim fit, low-rise" jeans are in right now. And that means that a regular chickie-doo like myself has to buy pants that are 2-3 sizes bigger, because holy crap, I actually have a butt and hips. And then the pants look stupid, because I have these pants on where the "waist" of the jeans is just above my rather wide, post-baby hips, and they fit great there, but they sag everywhere else.

For a split second, I wanted to cry. Finding clothes is difficult enough being tall and leggy, but you throw in curvy, and it's like I may as well just break out the sewing machine and make my own clothes--which I do on occasion, but it's usually skirts for summer.

After this very keen disappointment, I bought two sweaters instead. They're long enough that they'll cover the broken zipper on my favorite jeans. Take that, you naughty designers!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Aside from the fact that it’s painful, it’s also a terrible…I don’t even know what the word is…a terrible something to wake up with a tension headache. Two mornings in a row! Ugh. My head, neck and shoulders feel like they’re full of hot, jagged little rocks. I’ve determined that I’ve been letting myself get too stressed.

Through the haze of pain, I’ve also determined that my daughter wants to be a stay-at-home-kid as much as I want to be a stay-at-home-mom. My heart does this weird cross between melting and breaking when she looks up at me with those soulful brown eyes and says, “Mommy, I stay home with you today because I love you so much.”

Man, do I love her, too!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Cooking with Puree

So, last weekend, I went through one of my cooking extravaganzas and utilized three recipes from Deceptively Delicious, the big-hype cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld. I'd heard a lot about it and was pretty intrigued.

Thanks to my sister, who found the darn book for me, since I couldn't find it anywhere in a 12-mile radius of my house.

Anyway, the whole concept has to do with pureeing vegetables and adding them to everyday recipes. For my first round of experiments, I opted to whip up some cauliflower puree and try out a few recipes.

Oh. My. Gosh.

They were so good. I made mashed potatoes, banana bread and peanut butter banana muffins, all with the cauliflower puree. Nobody could taste the cauliflower! Now, my husband, daughter and I love our veggies, but honestly, cauliflower makes me gag. I can't stand the smell, and to me, it looks like little brains (I know this from when I was pre-med and dissected a sheep's brain--I decided shortly thereafter to go into psychology instead). So, I figured if I could eat something with cauliflower puree, it had to be good. And it was.

I'd originally had a rocking post started for this, but it's been a particularly hellish week at work--lots of tragedy, and it's kind of put a damper on everything. If I can pull myself together, I might post about it, but it's going to have to wait until I get some emotional energy back.

That being said/written, I'm going to settle down and watch Grey's Anatomy.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Running on Empty

Whew! It was one heck of a weekend and it's not even done yet!

Friday, I got into one of my cleaning-modes. We all know what that means...hours of scrubbing, scouring, vacuuming, etc. I was up late, taking care of laundry and whatnot. It's so unfair that if I skip even one day of cleaning/straightening during the week, everything seems to multiply by ten. Or twenty. Do you think dirty laundry splits and replicates itself? I do. I'm also pretty sure that the two plates in my kitchen sink were doing something naughty overnight, because the next morning, there were four plates, a bowl, two spoons and a glass. They must have been getting busy.

Yesterday, my in-laws came for a visit. That's always an adventure. I spent the whole morning and afternoon cooking. Of course, that was after I assaulted a chicken in my kitchen sink. Not a live chicken. It was dead. And plucked. And gosh darn it, still partially frozen on the inside! Here I was, all set at 8:30am to get busy (in a good way--not like my naughty dishes the night before) and begin working on my culinary masterpiece, when I realized the bag of chicken parts (what is that stuff? goo? something else equally gross? I don't know because I never use it.) was still frozen solid on the inside. I dutifully ran cold water over the chicken, rinsing, rinsing, rinsing, pouring water on the inside, too. Didn't help. Finally, out of frustration, I grabbed that stupid plastic bag and started pulling. Bad idea. In the process of trying to get it out, I didn't realize that the bag had ripped a little bit and filled with water. So what happened when I squeezed it? It sprayed. Everywhere. I shrieked as raw chicken water splashed my face and clothes. But I was more upset by the chicken water spraying on my clean counter and floor.

That was it. I decided to show that chicken who was boss.

I used my wrist to shove my glasses up on my nose, than grasped that chicken between my forearms, solidly anchoring it in the colander that was in the sink. With a heave and a blood-curdling war cry, I shoved my hands into the butt of that chicken. Actually, it was still pretty frozen, so I used two fingers, then four to pry it open. Then I used both hands to grab that ripped open bag of chicken nastiness and put it where it belongs. In the garbage (but only because I don't know what else to do with it--if anyone has any suggestions, I'm open to trying them).

It was smooth-sailing after that. I made some yummy southwest chicken with rolls and mashed potatoes (more about the potatoes in my next post). I also made a side of taco salad, which my dear hubby had been begging for. I made it, in spite of the fact that a few nights earlier, he said that my foot resembled a wild animal that he swore was going to eat him.

It was a nice evening overall. After the in-laws left (in the middle of an ice-storm that had dropped a solid two inches of ice on our driveway), I got some stuff done for my second job. It's the end of the semester and students are having some anxiety about final projects. I spent time grading papers and projects--I'm kind of nerdy, so I enjoy that stuff. Then I took a shower and curled up in bed with a good cookbook. I read on Cheryl's blog a little while back that she reads cookbooks in bed, too. I'm glad I'm not alone. I had tried a mashed potato recipe that day that was great, and I flagged two more recipes to try. Speaking of which, I need to get those out of the oven right now!

I can't wait to share my thoughts on this cookbook...more later!