Friday, September 30, 2011

The Accent Vlog

So, I saw this whatsit on Sarah Lena's blog, then on A'Dell's blog, and because I'm a joiner, I decided to do one too.

BE WARNED!! It ends rather abruptly at 5 minutes, because that's when I stopped talking about the actual real topic/assignment/whatsit--then I got all tangential and start rambling about Faire & our honeymoon... which has nothing to do with the actual assignment, so I cut those 2 minutes off the end, because they were totally superfluous. Anyway, the ending is not elegant, but it's better than the actual ending, where I burp. True story.

Also, I got sort of dressed up for this video. I'm wearing two shades of purple (one is much deeper than the other) and a necklace! oooohhhhh! Also, my fake hair, because my real hair was completely uncooperative.

So I ramble, and look around a lot, so you see quite a bit of the whites of my eyes... eye-contact is not m strong suit when talking to... a computer...

Also, I recorded this with J's Playbook, and I turned it sideways so you could see the top of my head & the fact that I was wearing clothes AT THE SAME TIME, so that's why it's all... funky...

Also, yeah... sadly, that screen shot there? That's EXACTLY what I look like. Some days I have bangs, when my hair is being cooperative.


1) Say some words: Aunt, route, wash, oil, theater, iron, salmon, caramel, fire, water, sure, data, ruin, crayon, toilet, New Orleans, pecan, both, again, probably, spitting image, Alabama, lawyer, coupon, mayonnaise, syrup, pajamas, caught

2) Answer some questions:

What's it called when you throw toilet paper on house?
What is the bug that curls into a ball when you touch it?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What do you use to change the channels on the tv?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wanna know what's in my brain? Here you go...

Drinking Water
This is a thing that you should do. 8 glasses a day or some such. Usually, I'm really good at this. I've got a lovely purple...thingy...that holds a litre of water, and I consistently drink 2 of those a day while I'm at work--one before lunch, and one after, while running to the bathroom every 45 minutes. On the weekends... well, then I just sort of drink whatever sounds good when I feel thirsty, or with a meal, because that's what you do. I certainly don't drink water, because I don't know if you know this, but Dallas water tastes like dirt. Really. Not exaggerating or being picky. It does. And Plano water tastes like algae all summer. So, I don't drink tap water, and while we have a Britta pitcher, it is insufficient to take the taste out of the water, so I mostly just drink milk like it was going out of style.

Only now, I'm thirstier than I ever remember being when indoors. So weekend drinking is a problem. I bought a Britta water bottle, thinking that would help, and I keep it next to my bed because when I wake up at 3am thirsty, I'm slightly less picky about the taste of my water, mostly because I'm trying to take a drink while still as asleep as possible. It turns out I'm trying to do lots of things while mostly asleep these days--walk to the bathroom, rearrange the cats, throw pillows towards the dog who is chasing something in his sleep, nudge my husband into a more comfortable (for me) position, steal his pillows, completely destroy the covers on the bed, rearrange some more cats, go to the bathroom again, and yes, take a drink from my purple Britta bottle.

The Problem With Merging
It's like a zipper people! Like a zipper!

My long-neglected 80s station
Oh Pandora! I think the answer to making a station good again is to ignore it for five to six months. Then it's so grateful to be played that it only plays the best and most awesome songs. So far, this theory is holding true.

Dreams I can't even begin (and won't try) to describe and their subsequent effects on my sanity:
Um... so, it seems that whatever I watch on television (read: Hulu, so my computer really) will get twisted and morphed into my dreams. This would be fine if I didn't tend towards sci-fi shows and murder mysteries. Hyper-realistic dreams with strange imagery that leave me confused about reality when I wake up? NO GOOD. Thankfully, my husband is the only one who has to endure the details on a daily basis. I shall spare you that much, I just wanted to say that I'm torn. I really want to keep watching Castle & Doctor Who, but... but... the dreams!

Is this the day?
I keep thinking that this is the day that I will stop being queasy. This is it! I feel great! I go about my day and then I make some simple mistake, like smelling something, or standing up too fast, or looking at the fridge, or thinking about food and then I'm squinting at everything and flapping my hands and talking to the cats about how this is totally sucky. I mean, I saw the cutest little bouncing fetus on that screen, so, you know... worth it in an abstract sense, but that doesn't stop me from wishing I was one of the lucky 25% of women who don't get all queasy at the very thought of food words. Also, I wish that my stomach were consistent in what it wanted/didn't want. Some days, the smell of sweet things sends me running. Other days, I just want to eat an entire bag of mini marshmallows. (I didn't... I ate it over the course of a weekend, which is remarkable restraint I think since it was the only thing in the whole house that didn't sound or smell terrible at the time.)

Also, when do I start glowing? I would like my glow now. What I've got instead is a flashback to 1995--pimply & awkward. I know I've got a while before I stop looking lumpy and start looking maternally round, and while I would like to get to that stage soon, I'm also liking still wearing (most of) my pants, especially since thus far there is no such thing as a pair of maternity pants that will fit my butt and still touch my feet. Too fat for tall pants, too tall for fat pants. I'm looking into Bella Bands and skirts for now. I mean, this struggle isn't exactly new to me. I've pretty much always been on the borderline between "misses" and "womens" sizes--which, anyone else find the naming annoying? Anyway, being a size 16/18 means you get equally dirty looks walking into Lane Bryant and...I was trying to think of some other regular store that I shop at, but, I'm a Target kind of girl, so, that doesn't really help my example any. I was going to say Ann Taylor, because I have braved their store sometimes. My top half is slightly more average than plus-sized--at least for now. I love my maternity tops because they are long, and on a tall lady, that's pretty flattering, so I wear those now to hide my hudge anyway. I am looking forward to having "the belly" though, even though I can't in any way, shape, or form imagine it. I see my friends growing and see their bellies getting bigger, but I look at me and think... nope, this is the same body I've always had...

Getting a shiner
No, not the beer, sadly. I seem to have lost the ability to put on purple eyeshadow without looking like I ran my face into a doorknob. This is sad for me on many levels. One, purple is my favoritest of all the colors, which anyone who's taken a peek at this site can tell. Two... um, I really like make-up and purple was always my go-to color. Supposedly it brings out the green in my sort-of-hazel-but-mostly-brown eyes, which is totally enough of an excuse for me to wear it. Only now--not it's not doing me any favors. Lucky for me, I don't actually bother with eyeshadow all that often, so I'm not terribly worried. I also have about a million colors to choose from at home, so I've got options.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

3 months in a quick recap

So, much like Temerity Jane, I have been keeping secrets from you. It happens. Also, like TJ, I'm going to recap things.
Here's what you missed:

Wk 1- I went to my folks place to celebrate the 4th of July and floated around in their saltwater pool drinking Rahr beer and feeling totally indulgent. I wasn't really pregnant. Pregnancy math is crazy & starts 2 weeks before anything actually happens. Anyway, I didn't have sunscreen on my legs. I got sunburnt.

Wk 2- I found out that a good friend was pregnant! Hooray! I was happy & excited. I still wasn't pregnant. I really wanted to join that club. The "internal baby" club. It leads to membership in the "produced offspring" club, which I was also interested in becoming a member someday. So there was happy, but also some sad. I also filled out my questionnaire for The Blathering

Wk 3- I found out that 2 more friends were having babies. I had no idea that technically I was a member of the club too. I was still very happy and excited for them. I did spend some time reflecting on that--my desire to be a mom, to have a baby, to have kids, to raise children... those are all different things by the way. Anyway, I was a little sad, but just for me. Does that make sense? I was happy for them, and wouldn't change anything about their situation. I just wanted to join them.

Wk 4- I peed on some sticks. I was pretty convinced I already knew the answer was no, because I'd been hearing my girlfriends talk about all their early symptoms and warnings and I had none of those. But I had some sticks ready to pee on, because I'm the hopeful type.  I peed on a stick. I giggled. I couldn't stop smiling. I prayed prayers of "thank you, thank you, thank you" and "help me, help me, help me." I made a little card for my husband and manufactured a reason to stop by his office on my way out to my folks place since I had the day off. He proposed to me in my car, so it was sort of fitting that I'd tell him the good news in his car (which I was driving, but not when I was doing the telling. I was parked at that time, just to be clear). I spent the rest of the week and part of the next peeing on sticks every 2 days just to be sure. I think I stopped after 6 sticks. They all came back positive.

Wk 5- When I wasn't peeing on sticks, I realized that it was going to be really hard not to tell everyone everywhere, and at the same time I was trying to keep anyone else from saying anything about it. I wanted J & I to be the ones to get to tell people. People should hear it from us first, you know? It's our news. Word got out anyway. Families aren't the best at keeping secrets. We still kept it a secret from the Internet, so I count that as a win. Well, I signed up for some stuff on the Internet, but in a private type way...

Wk 6- There was a doctor's appointment in here. Everything checked out fine. I thought it would start feeling... "realer" once my doctor said it was really happening. It didn't. It still felt really weird. Not real. Bizarre. Anyway, they came up with April 3rd as an estimated due date. Sure, sounds good so far.

Wk 7- I think I napped at every available opportunity and was incredibly cranky and could smell everything ever. I started turning my nose up at certain foods and keeping crackers by my bed. My niece turned 5 and we had a sleepover with make-up and hair-braiding.

Wk 8- I sort of got "promoted" at work, if by "promoted" you mean "assume the duties and responsibilities of the person who used to share some of your job roles but just left for another company and we're not hiring anyone to replace him, so you can do all the things." It is actually really not bad. I miss Joel, but the work load isn't killer and I still talk to myself, so not too much has changed other than I moved 2 cubes down.

Wk 9- I ate a lot of good food. Also, I went back out to my folks place for more floating in the pool, without a beer this time. The temperature dropped 20 degrees (putting it at a lovely 87!) and I got a cold! There was lots of Kleenex--facial tissue actually, since it was Puffs.

Wk 10- I went to my folks house again for a barbecue and pool party with lots of people I like. I read some books, but not the books I was supposed to be reading for my book club, because I never made it to the library/store, so I read the books that people gave me. You remember that part, right?

Wk 11- J & I celebrated our 5th anniversary. 5 years seems both like a really long time, and also no time at all. I'm pretty sure that's really cheesy and very cliche, but I also don't care. It's true. Every year has sort of felt that way. I look forward to many more years. I read the book for book club. Another friend announced her pregnancy. They've been trying for almost 3 years, and everyone they know knows they've been trying so they get asked a lot how things are going, so I totally don't blame them for announcing 24 hours after finding out, except that I sat there a little frustrated that we were waiting, only because I WANT TO SAY THINGS ON THE INTERNET, but I wasn't ready to tell the Internet yet. Look, it's not rational, it's just the way it is.

Wk 12- Lots of bloggers that I like post about babies, and having them and ask people for stories about how people decided it was time to have them, and how many to have and I found the blog of my roommate for the Blathering & wanted to say like a million "Me too!"s all over her blog, but didn't and the waiting was getting SO HARD... but I was also feeling kind of nervous about telling the whole Internet and what if something was wrong, and I was being a nelly so I decided to wait until after the appointment so I would have pictures and one more time my doctor could tell me that everything was alright and to calm down and be a relaxed human. I also read the entire book for October book club too. Before the September book club meeting, which I missed because I was all queasy & headachy & moody as hell.

Wk 13-  Ok I got confused about the weeks somewhere. I guess technically there's a week 0 that I'm missing, and technically today is Day one of Week 13, so... we'll go with that. There was another doctor appointment, and this time, we got pictures of something other than a spot or a blob. We got this:

I'm totally biased, but I think that's one cute looking fetus right there. For the record, we call it The Freckle, because a) when we found out, that's about how big it was, and 2) with the mix of genes between us, pretty much the only thing we're pretty sure this kid will get is freckles. Kinda hard to escape it with us two pasty, spotted parents.

So there you have it. 13 weeks. Some nausea & fatigue. A cold. Lots of visits to my parents' place... And a baby!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Big Reveal

Most of you know this already, because most of you know me and stuff in real life, but this is for The Internet, ok?

Dear Internet,

I'm pregnant. If all goes well, in early April, I will have a baby. For (hopefully) the rest of my life. Which is crazy.

That is all.

Ok, I lied, that's not all. It's been really hard keeping this even semi-secret and I'm not very good at secrets, so I'm sure I dropped like a million hints and people already know, but WHATEVER. This is my official announcement to the public at large.

Now, I have to go back to all the posts & tweets that have passed me by these past 8 weeks (because the first 4 I had no clue what was going on) and say all the things I've been keeping inside, which will now be TOTALLY out of context, but whatever.

Just so you don't have to search the whole internet for the things I'll be saying, I'll briefly recap them here:

  • I have NO IDEA what I'll be wearing to The Blathering as I have NO IDEA how fat I will be at the time.
  • I hate the smell of everything, everywhere.
  • Why, oh why, can't I just take an Advil?
  • I have no idea how to express a desire for one kind of baby over another without sounding like a giant jerk
  • How can you do fitted diapers without a cover? The websites say covers are mandatory. What am I missing? 
  • Fruit of the week*: kidney bean. It fails at being a fruit. (that was weeks ago, I think the current fruit of the week is a lime)
  • Me too!
  • I know what you mean now! I had no idea...
  • etc
  • etc
  • etc
  • I can't think about more than one baby at a time. When asked how many we plan on having, my current answer is "at least one"
  • I'm no longer the caboose on this crazy baby train! Hooray! I don't know why it matters, but... it does
  • Seriously, 7 babies in 5 months... don't say it's in the water, because we're spread out across the globe--literally!
  • It took forever, and by "forever" I mean, it didn't happen exactly when I planned it too, so you know, there's that
  • Why aren't there tall maternity pants for fat people? I guess I'll wear a lot of skirts.
  • I'm pretty sure my OB doesn't care if my toes are painted, but I sort of do.
So, now you know. There it is. I have a fetus. 

*When you sign up for certain baby-centric e-mails, they send out little notes each week of your pregnancy to tell you about how big the baby is now, and usually compare it to a fruit, hence, fruit-of-the-week e-mails.

Friday, September 23, 2011


So I'm going to ramble a bit about my favorite sandwich. Because I'm having one for breakfast, and it's wonderful.

Peanut butter & Jelly.

Except, I never use jelly, as I'm ridiculously specific about my pb&j sandwiches.

Here are the requirements that must be met before I will attempt to construct and devour said sandwich:
1) Bread--I prefer wheat, but on this point, I'm pretty easy going. It's the only thing negotiable really.
2) Skippy Crunchy peanut butter. Peanut Butter is on my list of things to never buy the generic of, along with Fig Newtons and toilet paper. Also, I only like Skippy. I can live with creamy if I have to, but I prefer chunky.
3) An appropriate flavor and texture of fruit spread.

That's where things get super picky. Or rather, where I get super picky. I'm not a fan of the consistency of jelly. I prefer jam or preserves. After learning how to make marmalade with my friend Katrina, I also now know the difference between jelly, jam, preserves, marmalade, butters and cheeses. Yeah, you can make fruit cheese. It's not like real cheese that's made from milk. It's one step firmer than a butter--like apple butter, only stiffer. Anyway, jams & preserves are the best for pb&j. Polaner's All Fruit is also acceptable.

Then there's the flavor conundrum. The two most prevalent (and so I assume, most popular) flavors of jam/jelly/preserves are grape & strawberry. I don't like either of these. I prefer something from the following list:

1) peach or apricot
2) black, boysen or raspberry

I really thought that was going to be a longer list, but that's really it. I know that peach & apricot taste different, but they're similar enough to count as fungible to me. Same with the berries--and yes, I like them with the seeds. With crunchy peanut butter, it's all just more crunch anyway.

and finally:

4) a glass of milk. In my world, you can't serve a peanut butter and jam sandwich with anything other than milk. And I only drink skim, because that's what tastes right to me after drinking it for 20 years.

Then there's the actual construction. I didn't realize that I was picky about this until my loving and wonderful husband made a sandwich for me. He brought me my sandwich and a glass of milk. He even put it on one of the little plates like I like. But... when I looked at my sandwich... the bread was... touching. The bread was touching. Like the two slices of bread were touching each other. Because there wasn't enough stuff inside to keep them apart. J put a think layer of peanut butter on one side and a thin layer of jam on the other. I didn't realize that I... over stuff my sandwiches apparently. I want my full serving (2 Tbs) of peanut butter and an equal amount of jam. This creates a substantial sandwich that will a) leak all over everything (another reason to use something more substantial than jelly) and 2) will keep your belly full for HOURS.

I ate the sandwich, and it was good, so please don't think I'm so horribly picky as to return a perfectly good sandwich just for lack of filling. But I did gently instruct my darling husband that he could be more generous with the innards next time.

And now I'm full. My sandwich is gone. I'm going to the dentist.

Have a nice day.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tree, Thunder and Figs

I finished "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." I think the author of the foreword really summed it up perfectly in her secondish sentence, "in its nearly 500 pages, nothing much happens."  A little girl grows up, some family drama happens, but it's not really a plot-driven thing. The plot is life. At least this book had a hopeful and uplifting ending, so there was some sense of purpose to the whole thing. Unlike "Little Bee."

There was a really crazy thunderstorm here last night. Possibly the weirdest storm I've ever seen. We drove right into it on our way home from dinner w/ my parents and the lightning was just... strange. I mean, there were some regular bolts, but the sheet lighting? Is that what it's really called? Where it's up in the clouds and just sort of lights up the whole sky without seeing a bolt? Anyway, usually it's that funky greyish-whitey-purple color, only last night it was... aquamarine. Blue-green. WEIRD. As we were driving home, sitting at a stop light, we saw one of these great, green flashes where the whole sky got bright, then there was a white-light burst on the horizon a few miles away, and we could hear all the lights make that funky electricla hum-woosh-swelling noise as the power went out. It was creepy.

Note to self that I share with you so you don't make the same mistakes I made:
Do not buy generic Fig Newtons.
Do not buy whole wheat Fig Newtons.
Stick with the original, brand name, regular (or fat free) Fig (not apple, raspberry, blueberry or whatever) Newtons (not bars, crisps, thins, fruit & cake immitations). 
Just trust me on this one--it's not worth the squirmy face you'll make if you don't heed my warning!

On this day, that is all.

Friday, September 16, 2011

5 years

Five years ago, I was doing this:

I won't say it was the best day of my life, because there have been many more amazing days since, but it was the start of something. We dated for 9 months then had a ridiculously long (16 month) engagement, so we were... ready! Or at least eager. We hard a hard first year, and the second year was better and the third year was good with a patch of really awful that thankfully didn't last too long, then four and five have been pretty much wonderful. We argue. We fail to communicate effectively. We disagree and have unmet expectations. We sometimes feel like we have nothing in common. But that's not true. We have quite a bit in common, not least of all that we both believe that what keeps us together is the grace of God--the ability to forgive and to love selflessly. Not perfectly, and not all the time, but consistently. We find new ways to laugh all the time, and I think that's really our primary love language: laughter. I'm looking forward to many more years learning and growing together.

That's my schmooby bit for today. I'm happier than I have words for and very grateful that I get to share my life with such a wonderful man.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Books, Books, Books

I've been reading a lot, but not what I'm supposed to be reading. I don't think I've had to say that, or even think it, since I was in school. That's the last time I can remember having a "supposed to be reading" list. Now it's a book club list. Not as strenuous, onerous, or mandatory, but still... it's there.

I'm supposed to be reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I mean to read it, but I don't have it, and somehow have completely failed to make it to anything that resembles a library or bookstore. Heck, I've barely made it to the grocery store.

Instead, I've been reading what people have been handing me, and what's laying around my house.

A teacher friend handed me Little Bee by Chris Cleave. She didn't really say much about it, but I read the back cover, which says pretty much nothing, but I hadn't bought A Tree Grows in Brooklyn yet, so I figured I had some time for it. It was less than 300 pages, so you know... that was encouraging. Now... I don't know what to say about it. I'm not really good at book reviews and after a recent discussion about critical reading and themes and motifs and symbolism and whether or not any of us really read that way now that we're out of school, I have even less to say. I read the whole book in... a day. It was a strange day where I had lots of down time, and then finished it up before bed (staying up hours past my bedtime to what most adults consider a reasonable time to be done for the day), and when I got to the end, I was deeply dissatisfied. Maybe I'm just too naive for books based on true stories because if I'm going to invest my time into these characters and try to find a way to connect to them, then I want to be rewarded with some measure success. So, to give what sparse information is on the back cover "enough to get you to buy the book" they say, which I admit, I found amusingly honest--it's a book about two women who lead vastly different lives who once met years ago. One had to make a hard decision and now they're meeting again. Yeah, not much to go on, but enough of an open-end that I was willing to spend some time trying to find out what the heck it was about. There was enough mystery with enough detail to keep me reading.
One line, just a sort of random part in the middle of nothing, made me actually laugh out loud, but you have to understand my unreasonable bias towards U2: "That's a good trick about this world, Sarah. No one likes each other, but everyone likes U2." I'm not going to say that sums up the whole point of the book, because it doesn't. I think the book is more about survival and coping with tragedy and moving on and other deep stuff, but that sort of is the secondary part--people are people no matter where you go. Good, bad, ugly, indifferent--people are people, and most of them will listen to the radio, so, you know... U2.

Then I found my copy of Lamb by Christopher Moore in my car, and I really like that book, so I decided to read it again. I was just going to read a bit in the middle, sort of skip to my favorite parts while I was waiting in the doctor's office, but I wound up going all the way back to the beginning to get all the good stuff. Lamb is "The Gospel according to Biff, Christ's childhood pal." It's funny and touching and wonderful and fictional and great. It's not a new gospel, it's a story, pure imagination, that takes on "the missing years" of Jesus' life. It starts with a 6 yr old Joshua bar Joseph of Nazareth and ends with... well, there's an epilogue, but it ends shortly after the death of Jesus, who they call Joshua since Yeshua is the Hebrew that was translated Jesus by the Greek, and so that's why they call the Son of God Josh.

Last month, my mom had loaned me her copy of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and after seeing a preview for the movie with Daniel Craig, I decided to read the book first. Well... it took a long time for ANYTHING to happen. 108 pages. I counted. 108 pages before we got to the hook that was on the back of the book--the mystery to solve that was the reason for the book. Now, granted, after those 108 pages, the rest went by pretty quickly and then it ended on an almost cliffhanger, so I expected the second book to pick up and keep going. So on my latest trip to my folks place, I grabbed The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson. Oh... I was so mislead! Book 1 ended dramatically. Book 2 starts with a hurricane that has nothing to do with anything, and once again, it was 216 pages (an eerie coincidence that makes me dread book 3) before we got to the mystery on the back of the book--or really any mystery or cohesive plot at all. Why do I keep reading? I don't really like Mikael, the journalist dude. He's a little too... Mary Sue-ish sometimes. All the women everywhere fall for him and even though all the women are very different and have different needs, he somehow fulfills them all perfectly all the time? Lisbeth is... interesting, and I suppose that's why I keep reading. Oh, that and I'm a sucker for a mystery & I MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS! So yes, I'm going to read book 3, and if it takes until pg 324 to get going, I just might scream. But I'll still read it, because I have some sort of bizarre loyalty to books that I start reading.

Now I have 3 days to find and read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom

It's my mom's birthday today. Obviously, I'm super glad she was born, because if she hadn't been, I wouldn't have been either, so there's that sort of selfish thing. And though I, like many a teenage girl, lost my mind during my teen years and was generally a rotten snot and didn't like my mom a whole lot for that time, she, in true form, forgave me. I am lucky to have a wonderful mom who I gladly share with the whole world--she moms all my friends too. She makes killer margaritas and potato salad (even if she doesn't like onions in it). She taught me how to make spaghetti sauce from (mostly) scratch and how to sew a button on, and how to be a lady. She's full of grace and compassion and humor--my dad is pretty funny, and comes by it honestly if you've ever met Grandpa Boswell, but you gotta watch out for my mom too. She's got some zingers! I'm still learning how to be a wife by watching how she loves and cares for my dad. I'm still learning how to be a good woman by watching how she loves and cares for her friends and the world. I'm looking forward to the day when I can use all she's shown me about being a good mom too. You don't get to pick your parents, but I totally lucked out and got the best ones.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I hope you have lots, lots, lots more!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

If you've got nothing nice to say...

I've been operating under the old saying "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" lately.

All I've wanted to do is whine and complain about this cold. All my pictures of the day recently have been of my cats to avoid the temptation of photographing piles and piles of used tissues.

So, now that I have (hopefully) reached the tail-end of this particular snot-blossom* I'm going to try to think of something nice to say.

I got giraffe socks. Yeah, that's right! Socks with giraffes. From my husband. It was a "happy start of our anniversary week" present, which roughly translates into "I couldn't wait any longer to give these to you,  and so I made up an excuse." Usually we just call them "Tuesday presents" no matter the day they are given, but I think the upcoming anniversary is his convoluted excuse. Look, I got giraffe socks, so I'm totally not complaining!

Also, I lost 5lbs in three days. Yeah, the ever-popular "get a cold so nothing tastes good" diet has worked again. Like most crash diets however, it has no staying power. Its success lies in the inability to taste, smell, or appreciate food combined with the appetite suppresion of being ill. I long for the days when I can choose foods based not solely on their texture and sinus-clearing levels of spice, but on things like flavor and smell.

Despite being on my third box of tissues for this particular bout of illness, my nose remains remarkably unchapped. This, I feel, is something worth celebrating. Kleenex Ultra Soft and Puffs Plus (no lotion) have done their job quite well, and I am pleased.

My husband has been laborously and mysteriously concocting some sort of anniversary surprise for me. I am excited. I like surprises. On Friday, we will have been married for 5 years, and that's pretty exciting in and of itself, but the fact that J has taken to manual labor to create a thing as yet unknown is also very exciting. More details to follow as I learn what my surprise is. There might even be pictures.

Speaking of pictures, I'm still arguing with my 365 day project album to get things to get back in the correct order & be where I put them. While I've continued to take picutres, my camera battery is dead & I can't find the charger for it--only the charger for the old camera which is broken, so it's back to cell phone snap shots and I haven't even downloaded most of those because... well... I just haven't, ok? I know there's only a month left to this project and I fully intend to see it through, though I don't know that it accomplished any of the fairly vague goals I had set for it in the first place, but it's a thing to do and I have done it--mostly. I just have to actually... you know... share what I've been taking pictures of (as previously stated--lots of pictures of my cats).

*Early on in my marriage a set of rather unfortunate nicknames was established. I'll only embarrass myself in this reveal, but it seems due to some particularly rough seasonal allergies, I became known as the SnotBlossom. Yeah... that's love, ladies & gentlemen. True love.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Not a book by it's cover

Ok, so we're told not to judge a book by it's cover, but we do... we make all sorts of assumptions about books and people and stores and restaurants based on a glance. It's a cultural thing, how we know to avoid talking to cranky people, how to tell when a friend is needing comforting and... stuff. We live and learn that certain body language, color combinations, styles, what have you... those things mean things to us. If they didn't, style and fashion and design would be pointless. So, I'm not saying that you should JUDGE people by these things, but we do make assumptions. Just, you know, be prepared, open and willing to have those assumptions challenged, redirected, corrected, uprooted or confirmed. Whatever.

All of that was a preamble because I wanted to talk about shoes. I know--they're shoes. It shouldn't be deep and meaningful, and it probably isn't.  It's a trade-off between vanity and comfort sometimes. I often will sacrifice some of one for the other. But the shoes don't make the man/woman. They can make my day though, as you might remember from my fabulous goldfish shoes.

I had this thought beacuse earlier this year, I thought I owned 11 pairs of shoes. I thought this because I could only FIND 11 pairs of shoes. Then I picked up some new pairs at the clothing swap. Then my husband unearthed a box that held lots more pairs of shoes. Many of those I gave away, because obviously I'd lived without them for over a year and never even knew they were missing, so that's pretty compelling evidence that I don't need to keep them. But I did keep a few--mostly a pair of boots and my sneakers. Now I have MANY pairs of shoes. And I'm working hard to wear all of them, because that seems the only reason to have many pairs of shoes. My sister has close to 8 brazillion pairs, and she wears them all. She's a fantastic accessorizer.

So, then I decided that I wanted to take pictures of shoes and tell the story that those shoes made me think of, and if this idea bores you to death (or sleep, or sudden hunger, or interest in the mating habits of South American weevils) well then just go ahead to other parts of the internet and come back later, because I'm doing it!

So, you see shoes and you think, those are the kind of shoes X type of person would wear, or mostly in my case, I would wear those shoes if I was feeling like X. 

Some examples from real life (obviously not all of these are of my feet, but I sort of have a thing for shoes, so it didn't take much poking around in my photo archives to find many a snazzy shoe):

Anyway, the point is, you look at these shoes, and you think certain things about the person wearing them. You might think that they're fun, have a sense of humor, like to be the center of attention, are classy, like to be comfortable.... whatever. Don't judge people by their shoes, but if you notice shoes, what do you notice, and what does it say to you about that person? Feel free to comment on what you think about these shoes too... because instead of telling the stories of these shoes, I'm just going to let you do the judging and making of assumptions yourself. Mostly because I'm still fighting this ridiculous summer cold thingy and my brain is full of snot and dumb. Also so I don't influence your assumptions. See, I'm taking the high road here. Which just happens to be full of antibiotics and hot tea, so it's a win-win thing for me.

The Goldfish shoes
Some red Chuck Taylors
Grey Mary Janes

Pink pointy toe high heels with strapps
Some platforms on the dancefloor
Snakeskin pumps

Friday, September 2, 2011

2100 some-odd words to come to a very simple conclusion

So, I've been thinking about food a lot lately. I've been looking for recipes of stuff to make because I'm really bored with the 6.5 things I know how to cook off the top of my head on auto-pilot without thinking about it, and I want to cook more, because I really do enjoy the making & the eating of food. I want to train myself to cook healthier and more balanced meals. I drink skim milk because it's what I'm used to and the other stuff doesn't taste good to me anymore, but I'm not scared of fat in my food anymore. I understand that oil and fat and butter and bacon and sugar have their place in the stuff I eat, but that place isn't front and center. Neither is it banished to a corner feeling guilty. I think that's my health goal--to remove guilt from food in general. And to cook food that I'm happy with because I like creating meals out of stuff that I bought. I don't enjoy the cleaning up afterwards, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

Also, lots of my friends are redefining their relationship with food, and telling me about it in their blogs. My sister PaleoJo is treating her whole body in a new way--she's joined CrossFit and is doing things I've never heard of, and completely reworked the way she eats. No grains, no diary, no sugar, in an oversimplified nutshell. While that sounds like torture to me, she's thriving, not starving or feeling deprived. The meals she's photographing look beautiful and colorful and delicious. And here's the important part--she's happy! She's feeding herself well, treating her body well, and she's happy. That's really great. That makes me happy to hear.

My sister B has been working hard for years to follow her passion, which is Highland Games--yeah, that Scottish thing where they throw big rocks and weights and try to flip things that look like telephone poles. And she's good at it. Really good. She travels all around the country to compete, and when she's home, she's working hard to get better--and she does. I hear she & Jo talk about breaking personal records all the time, and that's a milestone that I really love in every way--while B competes against a lot of other women, she's also always competing against herself, and that's the big deal to me. She gets better and better every time she competes, breaking PRs and raising the bar for herself every time. She can also dead lift... well, me! Or the equivalent of a me that is shaped like weights. Which isn't about food, but I got sidetracked & it fits in with the other stuff, so just go with it, ok?

I have 2 friends (Jenn & Jennie, though I'm sure that's just a coincidence) who are runners training for longer runs. Well, Jenn has run lots of half marathons, and I think a full one, and Jennie is training for a half marathon, and I don't know if you know this or not, but marathons are long! Half ones are long too. And running is hard. I have friends doing the Couch to 5k challenge and this paragraph is also about fitness, not food, but it's a health thing and that seems to be the real point of all this.

I have some friends who are exploring the concept of Health at Every Size--focusing on doing healthy things like eating better and being more aware of what they put in their body, moving more and training their bodies to do the things they love-move, walk, dance, without tying themselves to a scale and making it about looking a certain way in or out of their clothes. I mean, B & Jo aren't slaves to the scale either--they have goals that aren't related to looking like a runway model. They are focused on being strong, not skinny. I say all this because I'm hearing about it and it sounds good to me. Appealing. Like most things I want to sort of hodge-podge things together in a way that fits me, who I am, what I like to do, and eat and my goals, but I don't think it's a coincidence that so many of my friends are working on treating and feeding their bodies better.

Several years ago, my friend Andrea, a practicing Catholic, gave up frozen foods for Lent. Well, she gave up frozen lunches/meals/pockets etc. as a way to focus more on eating well. Not because she had a burning desire to suddenly get skinny, but because she was convicted that if her body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, then she wanted to treat her temple well. After Lent was over, she kept it up, eventually getting rid of a lot of processed food from her diet and over the course of a couple of years she lost many dress sizes. That wasn't the ultimate goal, but it was a side-effect of eating better and moving more. She feels like a better, healthier, happier person now. That's the theme that I see echoed across so many of my friends, though not all expressed the same way, but the desire to feed their bodies well, to be kind to their bodies by getting out and running and swimming and lifting weights and jumping up on high boxes. Those things may not seem kind on the surface--this isn't about pampering, it's about nurturing. Sweat and bruises and blisters and aches that come from hard work are GOOD for us. It's inspiring.

Now, I'm not running any marathons, or portions there of, but I am walking & dancing more. I say "dance" in the very loose sense of DDR, which is more aerobics than dancing, but it's set to music and I call it dancing because that motivates me to do it. I take the stairs to work (4th floor). I can't dead lift more than about a gallon of milk, but I am focusing on adding strength and stamina training into the things I like to do, because I want to be stronger.

But back to the food part, because that's where I started, and I'm hungry, so I'm looping back around. These are all pictures taken with my phone in the few seconds before we devoured this amazing food.

There is a restaurant in Lincoln, NE that is worth whatever crazy lengths you might have to go to in order to convince yourself to go to Nebraska, because it is actually a very nice place, but even if you can't imagine visiting the Midwest on purpose, you should go just for Bread & CupKevin had a dream of feeding people for... well as long as I've known him, which is 10ish years now. He taught me to love pesto and once made chocolate pasta that he served with raspberry sauce and powdered sugar. I loved sitting on his porch, and hearing the stories of what inspired him to make whatever we were eating. He grows vegetables & herbs, and food is just so much better when you can cook with stuff you've grown yourself. That same idea is what makes me love his restaurant. I've only gotten to eat there once, but I read the daily specials a lot. There is drooling. Anyway, when I ate there, it was what he calls the Market Meal. He goes to the farmers market in the morning, picks up whatever looks good, and the evening's menu is entirely based on that. Local produce. He buys local meat and does everything he can himself. Makes their own bread every morning. He's learning how to cure meat, so now they make their own bacon & sausage & head cheese...

But that's only half the point. His amazing food is only half of what is so amazing about his restaurant. He really focuses on more than just putting food in front of people. He wrote once about what our eating focus was, and a lot of times it's about fuel-a necessity we need to keep our bodies from crashing. But Kevin didn't want to make a restaurant that was essentially a fill-up station. He wanted to focus on good food. That doesn't mean low fat or low anything actually. For him, good food is food that's grown near to where you're eating it, so you can get it at the best and ripest moment, and eat it moments later. It's about flavor and comfort and having a relationship with the people you're eating with--the food is there to facilitate conversation, to fill more than just your stomach, to satisfy more than just hunger pains.

I agree that food should be more than just fuel. It should be good fuel too, but it's more than that. We celebrate and comfort with food, and that's good. I'm not saying we should use food to anesthetize ourselves and eat when we're sad or angry or frustrated or tired, but I do believe in celebrating achievements with a special dinner. I do believe in comfort foods when you're sick. There's moderation to be had in all of it--fuel and comfort. And all of those foods can be good. Taste good and be good for you. I know lots of folks who have taken their favorite 2-sticks-of-butter recipes and tweaked them so they're healthier. That's great. I also think there is a time and place for 2 sticks of butter. Twice a year in the giant vat of mashed potatoes made for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everything in moderation, including moderation--so said my father quite often growing up. A little splurge, a little rest, a little treat, when done carefully and wisely, is good for you. So says me.

And I've been thinking about all this lately because I realized the other day, that my tastes had expanded in the past few years to include flavors that I didn't like before. I won't say that I'm a fan of Indian food just because I fell in love with Tikka Masala, but I didn't think there was ANY Indian food that I enjoyed. All curries had me running for the hills with thoughts of fiery mouth pains & intestinal distress. Now I sing ABBA songs to my lunch. I've also been cooking for my niecephews more often lately, and with their dairy-soy-gluten free menu, I was at first completely baffled as to what to feed them. All my food has dairy & wheat in it. Those are my staples. It took some research and a few substitutions, but now I know that I have several easy options for the kids (and their mom) when they come over. That research really opened my eyes to a whole world of other foods that I had never considered before. Now my favorite pasta is made from artichoke flour.

Also, in rereading Traveling Mercies, I had forgotten how much I loved the chapter on Hunger. Anne Lamott was bulimic for a very long time, and in talking with her therapist, she discovers that she has no idea how to feed herself. She knows how to eat, but not how to feed herself. She has to rediscover hunger and learn how to listen to her body to know not only when she's hungry, but what she's hungry for, and then--and this is crazy--she lets herself eat it. She lets herself have Cheetos and chocolate and rice and squash and fruit and all the things that taste good. She listens as she's eating so she knows when enough is enough--which is usually always a lot earlier than we think it will be. That's that whole portion control thing and how our stomach is full 20 minutes before our brain knows it, which is just one more reason to slow down and enjoy your food because you probably don't need as many bites of whatever it is as you think you do. Anyway, she lets herself eat again and learns how to feed herself, and then she calls her thighs "the Aunties" and takes them out to the beach and is kind to them and thus kind to herself, and I love it. I try to be kinder to The Hudge while eating the food that sounds good, tastes good, and is good for me. Then dancing and walking and moving about so my arms and legs and whatnot get some energy out. Like taking the dog for a walk to keep him happy and keeping him out of the chocolate so he doesn't poison himself.

I should be at least as kind to myself as to my dog.
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