Friday, January 29, 2010

Someone Else's Star

I remember being young--very young, perhaps as young as my daughter--and looking up into the night sky at the stars. You must understand that the stars were difficult to see through the haze of city lights. But I remember seeing them every now and then and thinking that it made sense to wish on them. Certainly something so beautiful, even though it seemed so tiny in the vast sky, was worth gazing at...worth placing all my hopes and dreams upon.

I'm not sure any of my wishes came true. As I got older, those early feelings of disappointment grew and were crushing. The wishes made were for silly things, serious things, things I wanted, things I needed. Things I wanted to do over because it hurt too much to think about the outcomes...things I wanted to do again, just to recapture the good feelings...I used wishes as prayers as I tried to figure out a life that was becoming increasingly difficult, though I wasn't even a teenager yet.

I'm older now and I still hang onto that little-girl-hope...the hope that essentially dictates that I have to wish on the stars. The stars are easier to see now that we live outside of the city and I watch in amazement as my own little girl stares into the night sky, whispering softly, "Star light, star bright, first star that I see tonight..." I want to tell her that it's a fun tradition, but nothing more. Wishes on stars are just that--wishes, not reality. But I can't shatter the hope in her innocent face as she puts her faith is something that is both smaller and bigger than she is.

There are so many stars twinkling in the dark tonight. It occurs to me that perhaps I just haven't found my own star yet. Maybe, just maybe, each and every wish I've made in my life has come true, just not for me...because I was wishing on someone else's star. Maybe every wish I made resulted in something better for someone else. I'd like to think that maybe I did some good in the world. It's a nice thought.

And kind of annoying, because that means for my 10th birthday, somebody else got the Malibu Barbie that I really wanted.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I'm on my lunch break at work right now...thinking about what the heck to do for the dinner menu this week! This will be a simple menu--we're short on both time and money this week, but that's actually okay. Basic meals are good!

Monday (today)~ Breakfast for dinner! Eggs and pancakes and smoothies. Yummy!

Tuesday~ Smoked sausage and vegetable stir-fry...this is one of our favorites at Mongolian Grill and it's way cheaper to make it at home.

Wednesday~ Rocket Soup and Grilled Cheese. Rocket Soup is the kiddo's invention--it's tomato soup with mini-meatballs, shredded cheese and a variety of vegetables. It looks funny and smells funny, but tastes really good.

Thursday~ "One Dish Wonder"...chicken with green beans, almonds and rice. It's all made in one skillet and only takes 30 minutes total. Yay for quick and tasty dinners!

Friday~ It's our weekly pizza night. We take a basic frozen pizza, add veggies and an extra sprinkle of mozzarella, and we're good to go!

It may be silly, but I enjoy menu planning for the workweek. It keeps my grocery budget within reason (because I'm not buying any extras or running out at the last minute for a forgotten ingredient), it reigns in our spending on eating out because there's always something at home AND it makes me feel a teensy bit more in control of what has lately been a seriously out-of-control life.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I made butternut squash soup tonight. A big, big pot of it. I'm the only one who likes it. The hubby wouldn't go near the pot (he doesn't like squash) and the kiddo made a very sweet effort, but after a few spoonfuls, she looked at me and said, "Mommy, I just kind of don't like it. Is that okay?" I told her of course it was okay. All we ask is that she try something and if she doesn't like it, that's fine. She eats healthy enough that I'm not going to squawk about her not liking the soup. I made her a quesadilla instead. And then I ate two bowls of the soup. Yummy. I froze some of it (I hope it freezes okay) and then put some in the fridge for my lunch for the next few days.

Our new doggie is slowly adjusting to the house, but we've got some work to do. She has pretty good house manners, but she has some bad habits. Like eating rabbit poop. And making me sneeze. Actually, the sneezing isn't really her fault. We waited so long to get a pet because of our kiddo's breathing problems and allergies, never once considering that I might have a problem. I'm hoping it eases up soon, because I don't want to have to give her back.

Saw Hottie Doc on Wednesday. I knew something wasn't right as soon as he came into the exam room. He was pleasant, asked how I'd been feeling, asked about my family and Christmas and made idle chit-chat as he got me ready for the scope, but something was off. The scope is usually just a few minutes, but I noticed it was taking an unusually long time. Normally, he tells me what he sees (or doesn't see) as he's going along, but he was pretty quiet until the end. After he was done, he had me sit up and asked how I'd been feeling. I told him that other than feeling a little fat from holiday-indulgence, I'd been feeling okay. He assured me that the scope was clear, but he was concerned because my labs came back with some abnormal blood cells, which are very similar to what was showing up last year...last year when the first tumor I had was still too small to see. So, we wait and watch. It's only frustrating because it's a constant waiting game. Wait, wait, wait. He's sending out more labs and we'll see what comes back, if anything, and then I see him again in April, and again three months after that...and three months after get the idea. It's procedures every three months for the next two years. I'm afraid that I'm single-handedly raising our agency's group health insurance premium.

What else? Hmmmm... The hubby is at a birthday party tonight for one of his friends, the kiddo is in bed and the doggie is in bed. I have the house to myself. And I think I'm going to go to bed early.


Friday, January 22, 2010

A + A = Annoying Anonymous

First, some "anonymous" person posted a COMPLETELY INAPPROPRIATE comment on one of my posts about menu planning. I deleted it.

Today, I look at my blog and some "anonymous" person posted a comment in a language I can't even read. If I don't know what it says, I'm not comfortable with it on my blog. I deleted that one, too.

There's no way possible that my blog is popular enough to warrant anonymous or inappropriate comments. I mean, really? What is the purpose in that? If I have something inappropriate to say, I let everyone know it.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I usually keep my mouth shut when it comes to politics, but just for today...

Before I start this post, I should mention that I'm in a terrible mood tonight and mad at the world.

I get the uproar, both good and bad, but I am fed up with people yammering about the election upset in Massachusetts. It may not be politically correct to say so, but I don't care. I care about the country that I live in and the people who live here, and the service men and women who protect our rights and freedoms. I care that there are good and bad things about both political parties and that there are pros and cons to the Democratic health plan, just like there would be pros and cons to a Republican health plan.

I don't care about one random guy.

Now that being said, if I was an evil overlord and one of my henchmen asked me, "But your majesty, what can one random guy do?", I would say "This," and then shoot the henchman. Correction, I'd shoot him first, and then say, "This." For the record, I do not utilize weapons, unless you count my shriek-y, shrill-y voice when I'm really upset. Mostly, I just roll with things, blog about it a little bit and then get over it, but tonight, I'm venting.

I know plenty of people are horrifed and plenty of people are celebrating this whole Massachusetts thing. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

Here's the thing. Politics are jacked up, no matter which political party you support. In my experience, folks align themselves with one party or another based on the general opinions and beliefs of a party member. I try not to take beliefs too much into consideration, because I know myself, and I know that what I believe and what I believe in may not necessarily be what I would choose to do in my own life or what I'd like to see people around me do. (Ex.: Since I made a smart ass comment about shooting a henchman, let me just say that in theory, I like the right to bear arms, but I don't want my drunken neighbor having one on his person during his Memorial Day party when he may accidentally shoot out someone's window.) Everyone is affected by politics in some way, shape or form, but I don't think I can personally hold any single politician responsible for what's going wrong in the world. I might think it on occasion, but I'm realistic about things.

I make an effort not to bad-mouth either political party or politicians in general. Aside from the fact that I don't know the politicians on a personal level and it's not fair to judge them as people, I think it's just not nice to bad-mouth at all. I do it, of course. We all do. Some of the most devout Christians I know are the worst when it comes to bad-mouthing, saying truly horrible things. I'm sure God is proud of you. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

I know plenty of people who feel like they've been screwed over by the Democratic party. And I know plenty of people who feel like they've been screwed over by the Republican party. But there are plenty of people who feel the opposite of whatever the majority feels at any given moment. The same half-assed politicians that played a role in the funding problems that led to my husband's job loss are the same politicians that played a role in the funding that has kept me working. That's Illinois politics for you. Come to think of it, that's politics in general.

I don't know what the Massachusetts election will mean for our nation in the short run or in the long run, but unless that guy can single-handedly cure the cancer that's trying to make a come-back in my body, ensure that my husband starts working in the next month so we don't have to sell our house, figure out how we can actually get and keep decent health insurance for him and for our daughter, and serve me a glass of wine and some chocolate chip cookies, I'm not interested.

Fooey on you, politics.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Menu Plan Monday (or in other words, "We have groceries! Woo hoo!"

I went grocery shopping today. This is a major event in our house, especially with an unemployed spouse. I found some fantastic sales, but still went a little over budget. I didn't use coupons this week--what we needed was on sale, but I didn't have any coupons. Bummer. Anyway, this is what I tentatively have planned for this week...

Monday~ Cheesy potatoes and chops (I'm making this in the crock pot and can't wait to see how it turns out!); maybe broccoli?

Tuesday~ Bean and veggie quesadillas

Wednesday~ Oven "fried" chicken, french-mix veggies, and...? I've been on a fried apple kick lately, so maybe I'll make some stuffing and fried apples, too. I'll need some extra time on the treadmill...

Thursday~ Some type of tuna dish. I'm allergic, but the hubby and kiddo are crazy about seafood. I have to teach, so it's a good night for them to have it.

Friday~ Pizza night. In an effort to save a little each week, we're designating Friday nights as "frozen pizza night." It's a fun treat, and at less than $6 for the whole meal, including salad, it's budget-friendly, filling and crowd-pleasing. To make our dollars stretch even further, we buy a so-so, plain cheese pizza and add our own toppings. Very economical and yummy, too!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

So Rude

Some "Anonymous" person left an inappropriate comment on my last post. I deleted it, but if anyone read it, sorry about that. Some people are so rude.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Pick From the Pantry, Feel Up the Freezer and Raid the Refrigerator Edition

Yeah, yeah, I’m late getting this posted. Again.

Anyway, my goal this week is not to buy any groceries (other than milk). Money continues to be tight and there’s no wiggle room right now, so it’s time to use what we have in the house!

Monday~ Yes, I know it was yesterday. This was a kid’s pick since classes started and I had to teach. Hubby was making dinner last night…it was mac and cheese with black olives. I kinda feel like there’s a serious “ick factor” here, but they liked it.

Tuesday~ Today, I think I’m making sausage and tossing it with some angel hair pasta, sundried tomatoes, olive oil and parmesan. I want to make a vegetable…I think I have some asparagus, and that would go well with this meal.

Wednesday~ Pierogies, peppers and baked apples. Yummy!

Thursday~ Probably quesadillas. I’m teaching and it’s easy for the hubs to make. If I have time to go home before class, I might do a little breakfast-for-dinner instead of quesadillas and make a veggie and egg quiche with biscuits and smoothies.

Friday~ Roasted chicken, stuffing and acorn squash—I’m the only one who’ll eat the acorn squash, so I might make some peas, too.

And then I get to grocery shopping this weekend. Woo hoo!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Wha-a-a-at in the world is going on? How is it Sunday night already? What happened to my weekend? I thought, apparently absurdly so, that 2010 would somehow be slower-paced than the complete frantic, break-neck speed of 2009. Ummmm...not quite.

It seems like I just went to bed on Friday night, and here I am, already putting things together on Sunday night for the beginning of the work week. I know I had a Saturday and Sunday, but they just zipped by so fast! Yesterday, the kiddo had swimming lessons in the morning, we went for haircuts in the afternoon and we had a home visit last night from the doggie adoption agency. Today was church in the morning, then the hubby and I split the afternoon stuff--bless his heart, he went to a birthday party for our niece and I took our kiddo to see Sesame Street Live: When Elmo Grows Up.

I have a sneaky feeling that all of the grown-ups in the audience enjoyed the show more than the kids. I felt particularly inspired by Abby Cadabby's song about believing in oneself and chasing down dreams. I also had to giggle a bit at Cookie Monster, who wanted to be a fireman, just because, well, we all know I'm a sucker for a big guy in a uniform...

(I didn't take this video, it's just a random YouTube clip, but if you really want to watch/listen, just scroll down to pause the blog music.)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Yay for menu planning! It's a little late getting out this time around (okay, a lot late, since Monday dinner is already done), but better late than never!

Monday~ (today) We had baked chicken with couscous and fruit stuffed acorn squash. Ooohhh...even if you don't like squash, you have to try it. It's beyond yummy! See?

Tuesday~ Smothered pork chops, baked apples and iceberg wedges with bacon and ranch dressing

Wednesday~ Spaghetti with mushrooms and green peppers

Thursday~ Ham and potato casserole with broccoli

Friday~ Crock pot chicken and biscuits with mixed veggies

I'm digging this whole menu planning thing. I miss doing it--I don't really remember why I stopped, but I'm glad I'm starting again. I'm already working on next week's menu, too!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Relationships = e (squared)

Okay, I put "squared" in parentheses, because I couldn't figure out how to put the 2 on the top right of the e for the "squared" symbol. But that's really neither here nor there.

I was thinking about relationships in general, and as a woman and a parent, I happen to feel like relationships consist of two very important things. Everything and Enough.

As a woman, I want to be enough. More than just "good enough". Really enough. I'd like to think that my sense of humor--which admittedly is on the strange side--along with my general attitude, my personality, and just me in general, is enough.

But here's the thing: If I'm giving myself wholly and completely, if I'm not holding back, that means I'm giving everything. And everything should be enough.

Enough is everything and everything is enough.

No, I'm not intoxicated or sleep deprived. I'm actually putting forth some effort to make sense here.

I don't think that relationships, especially marriage and parenting relationships, should be conditional, but far too often, they are. I hear it all of the time in my line of work...parents telling their children, "Well, I'd love you if you weren't always such a pain," or "I need you to be [insert word(s) here--smarter, prettier, a better listener, a better student, a better athlete, etc.] if you expect me to [whatever]."

I hear it in significant-other relationships, too. "Well, I'd be more loving if you would only [insert word(s) here--get a better job, make more money, wear sexier clothes, help out more at home/with the kids, etc.]." 0r the ever-famous, "I wouldn't have cheated if only you did [or didn't] do [insert transgression here]."

When and why did it become acceptable to only love someone if something is gotten in return? Don't get me wrong, I expect my daughter to be good-mannered and well-behaved and use appropriate manners, but my love for her isn't conditional upon that. I expect my husband to help out around the house and do his fair share, but I don't love him less if he doesn't. (And honey, if you're reading this, I may not love you less on your lazy days, but I do get annoyed more.)

My point, or at least part of it, is that people should love each other just because...just because they want to and it feels good, and they get that good feeling out of it. And because I'm spiritual, I tend to believe that we're called to love each other because God expects it of us.

I love my daughter when she's puking on the carpet and on me...when she's snotting all over my shirt...when she's having a tantrum in the middle of Kohl's and laying on the floor screaming and kicking...when she's screaming that I'm not her best-friend-hero because I won't let her eat ice-cream after she's in bed for the night. I don't love her less because she's behaving like a 4-year-old. When I look at her tear-streaked face and see her little mouth quivering as she fights back tears, I'm moved to love her because she is my child. She is my daughter, and that is enough. When she's having a meltdown and really giving it her all, giving everything she has to make me see her point of view and make me change my mind, well, I love her even more right then, because everything is enough. And the fact that she is here on this earth at all is enough because she means everything to me.

That doesn't mean that on occasion, I don't have the urge to pinch her back after she pinches me. Tee-hee! I don't, but I'd be lying if I said I haven't wanted to a few times.

And my husband...he's been kind of down on himself for the past few months. The economy has not been cooperating and he still hasn't found a job. But my love for him isn't conditional on a paycheck. Yes, getting our income back up to what it used to be would be fantastic, but it's not a condition for me sticking around and continuing to be his wife. My love isn't conditional upon him keeping up his end of the bargain when it comes to household chores, either. But that doesn't mean that on occasion, I don't have the urge to pinch him after he's told me eleventy-thousand-bazillion times that he's going to do something, but then doesn't. In his case, I do pinch. But only sometimes.

I know what it's like to not feel like I'm good enough, or even enough in general. It's a horrible feeling, to give of oneself totally and completely, to give everything, and not have it be sufficient for someone. It leads to a lot of self-doubt, sometimes self-loathing, and that kind of damage to one's self-esteem is long-term and far-reaching. And it may feel permanent, but I'm realizing more and more that it's only permanent if I continue to allow it.

I give enough because I give everything. And that, my friends, is more than enough.

And enough of this, too. More nonsense later.