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Saturday, December 10, 2011

A good week

  My house would usually not be described with such vague, subjective adjectives as "neat" or "tidy". I do try but I get pretty busy with the kids activities, JR's activities, PTA, my other  activities, church, the cat, grocery shopping, Facebook, staring out the window to make sure the guy walking his dog has a baggie and isn't afraid to use it. But, I digress. Today, my sister-in-law arrived from Southeast Asia where she teaches English. Since we knew she was coming ahead of time (just popping in has proven tricky in the past), we decided that was as good an excuse as any to clean it. I spent a lot of time developing the most efficient strategy for decluttering and organizing all of our things so that all I would have to do would be to dust and vacuum the day before she got here. Like many great planners, my husband and I spent all day Thursday and  Friday putting up clothes, toys, books and every piece of paper that has ever entered our house. We also managed to make fliers for the PTA Holiday tree recycling fundraiser that I naively volunteered to coordinate, coach Ian's basketball team both afternoons, take Bekah to a poetry reading for her English class, help the PTA collect food for the holiday food drive and distribute those tree fliers, dance every time a really good song came on the radio and laugh our butts about my "mommy voice" off at dinner. I'm gonna get mushy here but my husband rocks. He worked off Wednesday morning, took a nap and got up and started working on a few projects around the house. When we went to bed Friday night, I could see my kitchen counters and the floor in every room of the house (except mine. Well, you can see the floor but not the top of my dresser). It was a blissful sleep.

Monday, December 5, 2011

normal everyday weirdness

  Things in our house get a little...silly,weird, crazy (take your pick). JR and I have very irreverent senses of humor and we're fluent in Sarcasm. We're also both nurses who talk about "stuff" at the dinner table. Combine that with a few cases of unmedicated  ADHD and it's a small wonder that our kids say some slightly outrageous stuff. Like today. My 14 yr old and her brother were having some sort of verbal play battle that always results in one or the other quoting The Cat in the Hat and shouting, "I will end you!". Bekah then told him she would cut him up and put him in chili. All I could picture was 1000 cops milling around my house, botching a crime scene, news cameras and my hubby and I tearfully protesting our innocence. So I said, "Do not do that. Do you know whenever a kid goes missing, the police never go looking for him. They just interrogate the parents and blame them until all the leads go cold."
    She offered to confess. I told her we couldn't let her do that because then we would be accused of coercing her to confess and take the rap for us. Then Lia cried,"No! I'll miss you when you go to jail!" ("when", not "if". Thanks, Lia.)
   At this point, Ian piped up and said, "Hellooo! What about  me being dead?" Is it any wonder he has "Middle Child Syndrome"?
     Then there was our trip to the grocery store today where Bekah and I were hip checking each other down the aisles. Somehow we ended up threatening violence (I'm not sure how we got there, either. But I assure you it was all in fun.) There was a woman with 2 preschoolers picking out chocolate chips next to us as Bekah said, "See this fist?" To which I replied.,"See mine? You won't in a minute!" Chocolate chip lady threw a bag in her cart and told her kids,"We're gonna go this way." and turned around. After we finished giggling, Bekah pointed out that it was a little disturbing that the woman heard me threaten to punch my child and turned the other way (hmm...future rant post?)
  Additionally, our overuse of the internet provides much mirth and merriment. There was the Google search for "Cooking with soy flour" last night. I typed in 'cooking with' and a list of possibilities popped up. The first one, Cooking with Dog, caught my eye. It made me a little uneasy but the train wreck factor kicked in (you know- when you can't NOT look?). Turns out it was a Japanese cooking vlog narrated by a poodle that sits right there by the prep area. I was right. I WAS grossed out. But, it was too good not to share, so I called Bekah over to witness the silliness. When I typed in "cooking with", to show her how "Cooking with Dog" popped up, she said, "Look at the last one. 'Cooking with cannabis'" (why do kids always notice what you DON'T want them to?) TRAIN WRECK! Sooo, we pulled it up. Aaannnd, of course, one of the first entries was an article by The Portland Mercury. (gotta love this town!)
  Last, but certainly not least, is my lovely daughter "outing" me on Facebook today (before the grocery store). I get SMS updates on my phone and got a '[someone] commented on your status' text. It read "are you sharing something? lol". I was trying to remember what I had posted yesterday when another update popped up reading "congratulations." I suddenly remembered that I had just exited the web without signing out earlier in the day and that Bekah was sitting at the computer trying to ignore me. I pulled up FB on my phone and there it was. I made some sort of unintelligible noise as she burst into laughter. It was such a great hack that I left it up. ( I am, however, a little confused about the number of people who "liked" my status...) The two younger kids wanted to know what all the commotion was about and when we told them, Ian said, "Mom's not gay. She's married to Dad! She can't be." And sweet little Lia chimed in with, "Mom can't be gay. Gay people are fun!" as if that settled it. If only the chocolate chip lady had been here then. She might  have understood.

Making a mess in the kitchen and a free miscellaneous rant

  I'm learning to love to cook again. Yay! A few nights ago, I found a really easy recipe for Alfredo sauce ( http://allrecipes.com/recipe/quick-and-easy-alfredo-sauce/detail.aspx) and it was a hit with all 3 of the Leprechauns and my hubby. Tonight, I set a small amount aside and blended it with a little bit of spinach. I used canned because that's what I had but would have preferred fresh. It was pretty good but,  because of the color and consistency, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was eating baby food. Next time, I'll play around with the fresh stuff until I get it right.
  I had a good bit of spinach left over and didn't want to freeze it and play the "what's this?" game in a few weeks so I decided to make chocolate muffins with it. I know some slightly well known comedian who had a little show in the 80s' wife has a book about the same thing but I'm older than her and lots of moms have been sneaking stuff into spaghetti sauce, meatloaf and muffins for quite a while now. I found a recipe, (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-muffins/detail.aspx) that had a lot of positive comments, read and noted the comments, and got to work. I put a little too much cocoa in them for my taste but with a little Nutella, I think my kids will eat some of it...
  I'm begining to think you can only put so much nutrition into one muffin. I hoped the extra cocoa would mask the spinach and it did- a little. So I'm going to reduce the spinach in the recipe and the cocoa because it's really too chocolate-y (yes, I think maybe there is such a thing). I traded the 1 cup of sour cream for 1 cup of plain yogurt and the all purpose flour for whole wheat flour and some oats that I ground finely. Since I didn't have enough white sugar, I substituted some brown sugar. In all, they weren't bad. The whole wheat flour isn't as fine as the white so there's a little grainy feel and, again, too much cocoa made them not as sweet as my kids might like. But the yogurt didn't make them taste weird and the whole grains didn't make them dense. since my kids have ADD and protein in the morning has been shown to be beneficial (and lots of other reasons- like stabilizing blood sugar), I want to experiment with replacing some of the wheat flour with soy flour
  Here's the recipe I ended up using
1/2C ground oats
1 1/4 C Whole wheat flour
3/4 C cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 C white sugar
3/4 C brown sugar (do I have to tell you to pack it?)
1/2 C chocolate chips (because my kids would eat dirt if I told them it had CCs in it)
     Mix all this into a bowl
3 eggs, beaten
~1/2 C spinach, pureed (don't lick your fingers if you get any on them)
1 C plain yogurt
1/2 C water
1/2 C milk
     mix this in with the dry ingredients. bake at 325 for about 20 minutes.
Serve with milk, because that's what you eat with chocolate cake.

I'm sure if anybody reads this, they're going to have some comments about their perfect nutritional habits. To them I say. "So?" If this isn't something you'd eat, Move on.  My kids have developed bad eating habits over the years,largely while I was working 12 hour night shifts and my husband was commuting 2 hours one way to school (and STILL pulling the highest GPA in his class while trying to raise our 3 younger kids while I was at work) and I'm trying to improve them. I was a little bummed I couldn't fit a whole serving of veggies and protein into one muffin but I realized I was still getting a little extra veggie, whole grains, protein and calcium in. And a little bit here and there is better than none at all. This fits in to two philosophies that I really love but tend to neglect. The first being "Baby steps", whereby you accomplish great things one small step at a time. The second is "good enough mothering". I heard the concept ( the Good Enough Mother) a few years ago but never read the book so I'm probably way off from the author's original concept but I don't care. It's my life, I'll do what I want. Anyway, I remind myself that everything doesn't have to be perfect all the time and I don't have to do everything that all the other moms are doing. If it doesn't work for my family, it's not good for us. Enough said. Life is too long to stress about every little detail. If the fate of the free world doesn't hang in the balance, then do a good enough job and move on. When you're old, you'll wish you'd played tag on that sunny day instead of cleaning the carpet.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Prop 26

   So Mississippi made the news tonight. But this time, it wasn't for anything those of us in the diaspora will hide in shame about. Proposition 26, the Personhood clause, did not pass. This is not just big for Mississippi but for the nation as well. In case you're not familiar with it, it was a short, very vaguely worded amendment to the state constitution that would have established that the state recognizes that life begins at conception. This was initiated by a group called Personhood USA. They are trying to get this amendment passed in all 50 states. Most Mississippians already believe that life begins at conception so this should have been an easy vote, right? Not so. With this came numerous implications for all aspects of reproductive rights. Not only would this have outlawed abortion in the state but also restricted what forms of birth control, infertility treatments and medical procedures would be available to women. Most hormonal birth control methods, In vitro fertilization, cryo storage of in vitro embryos, uterine ablation to stop excessive bleeding, and termination of an ectopic pregnancy are among the procedures that may have become illegal. Let me say here that I am most definitely pro-life as are most other Southerners. As a nurse, however, I cannot imagine telling a rape victim that I can't give her the "morning after" pill because it may prevent the implantation of the baby of the jerk who just violated her. That would be a second violation. I guess I should include victims of incest here but, in my mind, I did when I mentioned rape victims- but that's another rant. Do I want to be the person who has to tell the childless couple that we have the technology to help them get pregnant but we can't use it because we MIGHT make too many embryos and they MIGHT not all make it and... I could go on but I think you get the picture. There are a lot of ethical questions concerning the issues of birth control, in vitro fertilization and abortion for whatever reason. I never thought I would be on the same side as the Pro-Choice camp but here I am saying let ME decide. If you have a problem with hormonal birth control and think it has the potential to cause a miscarriage, don't use it. If you think it's wrong to terminate an ectopic pregnancy or perform a D&C on a woman who's having a miscarriage, then go ahead and bleed out. Just don't take away MY option. And that's what Mississippi said tonight.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fat to fit Friday Patience and persistence

  Ugh. Ok. I lost a total of 4.5 lbs in September. The past two weeks I've been at a bit of a standstill. My computer is broken, my scale quit working and I've been in a bit of a funk. I turned 39 on the 1st and this was my first birthday without my mom. Once I had a good cry and got past my birthday, I started feeling better. I am amazed at how much better I feel.  I was really out of it and didn't want to to anything or go anywhere. I didn't keep my food journals or make any effort to work in extra exercise. I did try to limit my portions and eat high protein, high fiber foods. I also avoided bringing junk food into the house when I went to the grocery store. If it wasn't there, I couldn't eat it. As far as exercise went, I did make myself walk the kids home from school and a couple of days I wore ankle weights. Then I congratulated myself on being persistant in the face of blah.
   We're new to the community and I haven't met many people yet in large part because I'm actuall kind of a shy person.  The isolation hasn't helped my mood at all. So when the PTA had a Coffee Connections meeting the other morning, I went.  I got to meet a few of the parent volunteers and everyone was so nice. I left feeling a little more hopeful. Conversation with outher adults was rejuvenating. I realized I needed to be patient with myself and take "baby steps".  Exercise one step at a time (or one crunch or whatever). Change my eating habits one meal, one bite at a time. Build relationships one person and one activity at a time. And encourage myself one baby step at a time.
   

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fat to Fit Friday Accountability

  Down 3 pounds, so far this month. Not too bad since I didn't start until the middle of the month. This week I kept a food journal. I was really tempted to scrap it on occaision because hormones wreaked havoc on my brain and will power for a day or two.  Weight loss studies have shown this to be key in successful weight loss. Maybe it's the accountability or that writing down every thing you put in your mouth makes you a more mindful eater. It's probably a combination of the two because, when I think about it, the two really go hand in hand.
   I also moved more. My kids' school is 3/4 of a mile from my house. I drive them to school in the morning because, well, it's morning. Do I need another reason? But I do walk them home most days. That's a mile and a half I wasn't walking before. Plus, there's a good "dip" in the road so I really do get to walk uphill both ways. 
   10,000 steps or approximately 5 miles is recommended but all steps count so I'm trying to increase my steps in other areas of my life. Taking the stairs, walking to the corner store for a gallon of milk instead of driving to the grocery store and taking my own coffee cup back to the kitchen instead of waiting for someone else to head that way and asking them to take it with them are a few of the ways I've tried to increase my over all activity.
    I also started roller derby with the local recreational league because exercise should be fun, too. If it becomes work, you'll be less likely to do it. Also, there's something about being part of a team and having a set time and place where they expect to meet you. Would that be accountability? Maybe, but it's a recreational league and I'm not required to go. So maybe it's more about me holding myself accountable, deciding I'm going to do this and, daily, being accountable to myself. Because, at the end of the day, the only one who can really hold me accountable is me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

weird talents

  A co worker of my husband won second place in a national chicken calling contest. She even showed off her prize winning skill for him and let him record it on his phone. I watched it. She's pretty good. Her cousin took first place. I would have liked to have been at the next family function. I wonder if there was any enmity or if they gave one another pointers. Come to think of it, if cousins were THAT good, that one took first and the other took second place, family functions were probably pretty interesting to begin with.
  I am able to pick things up with my toes. I never thought this was remotely interesting until my husband and I were dating. In fact, until that point, I never really thought about it at all. My mom would do it if her hands were full and I just picked it up from her. My grandmother probably did it, too. I guess if we learned to carry things on our heads like women in Africa, we would be able to keep our hands free. But I digress...
  So one day after JR and I had been dating for a while, he dropped something small and after a few fumbling tries, picked it up with his toes. He beamed at me like a kid who'd just learned to ride his bike. I looked at him like you look at someone when it dawns on you that they're crazy.
  "Did you see that?! I picked it up with my toes. I can do it, too." I blinked my eyes as I tried to figure out how to politely say I just remembered I had to floss my cat tonight. "You pick up stuff with your toes all the time and you're gonna look at me like I'm crazy?"
 Now it was my turn to feel a little 'off'. I did do it frequently and sometimes caught myself trying to pick up stuff when I was wearing shoes. Like I said, I never thought about it. It's funny now but a little awkward then. I have passed my gift on to our children and they all at some time or another use their toes as a third set of fingers. And my husband is still a little amazed.
   What strange, bizarre, weird or "just a little quirky" talents do you have?  And do you keep your ability under wraps or do you let the world know just how fabulous you are? I'd love to hear your stories. I'll be in the next room trying to balance a basket of fruit on my head.
   Thanks for hanging out with me!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fat to fit Friday

  From November 2009 to April 2010, I lost 33 pounds on Weight Watchers. On the way out to Oregon from Alabama, I fell off the wagon and so far, haven't been able to stay on for any length of time. Consequently, I have gained most of the weight back. Several factors contributed to this but I don't want to go into that just yet. The important thing is that I have made a conscious decision to change it. My goal is to lose 5 pounds a month for a total loss of 73 pounds and give a weekly update on Fridays.
  Looking back over my old WW journals, I realized that was about my average. Some weeks were great with a 2-3 lb loss and some were not so great and I either stayed at the same weight or gained a pound or two. I learned that while the destination is important, the journey is equally important and what I learn on the journey will help me sustain my forward momentum.
 Another goal is to accomplish this in a way that fits our single income budget. I know lots of hints and tips for weight loss. I should. I've been on some sort of weight loss program since I was 12. But knowing what to do and putting it into practice are entirely different things. I'm ashamed to admit but I've really developed some bad habits over the years. They've become ingrained and I'm having to reteach myself. I'm sure every step of the way isn't going to be easy but some things I've started changing have been easier than I thought they would.
  I intend to educate myself as much as possible from all the cheap to free resources I'm able and use this information to keep myself focused. Then I'd like to share interesting findings here for anyone else that may benefit. One of the things about Weight Watchers that kept me motivated was the accountability. A moderator saw what I weighed and kept a record of it. Plus the other participants would always be asking each other how much they'd lost that week. That was pretty motivating to me! So I also intend to share how much I've lost each week and (briefly) what I did to accomplish it. Or...if I hit a plateau/ gained- what didn't work. Finally, I'll share my goals for the weekend and the coming week.
  To that end, my goal for the weekend is to make smarter food choices than I usually do on the weekends and to find a way to incorporate fun activity into my schedule, like playing tag with my kids or going skating with them. During the week, I want to start studying the WW cookbook I bought at a yard sale last month and see what my family will eat and modify some favorite recipes so they're healthier and lighter.
  Thanks for coming with me!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Our first year Part One or "how did you wind up out there/here?"

  Last July, my husband and I packed up our 3 younger children, a cat,  and 4 days worth of clothes in an SUV, essential furniture in a U-Haul trailer and drove from South Alabama to Portland Oregon. The lunacy of this still strikes me occasionally. To clarify, we didn't just wake up one morning and say, "Hey! I know what we'll do today...Let's quit our jobs, leave our families and completely uproot every other aspect of our lives so we can move to a different planet where we only know two people!"
   It all began when we decided we wanted to stay in the small Alabama town my husband's family is from. You can't throw a rock without hitting someone he's related to and we wanted our kids to grow up around family. We were having a hard time saving the money to build the house we wanted and since we're both RNs, we decided my husband would get a travel nurse assignment for some fast money. We decided on the Portland area because my dad grew up in Oregon and my aunt lives in the area.  Then we got the bright idea that the kids and I could go out with him and get to know my dad's side of the family over the summer. He registered with a travel nurse agency, got his Oregon nursing license and put in his notice at the hospital where we worked. Weeks turned into a month as he put in for travel assignments that didn't pan out. He stayed on at the hospital in an intermittent capacity. The hourly rate was higher but we had no insurance. The thrill of anticipation turned to stomach knotting dread as we lived in fear of our children getting sick or injured. They had already hired my husband's replacement so going back to his old job was not an option.  We had to make a decision.
  This all started because we wanted to give our kids roots in a small town surrounded by family.  We looked at me going back to work full time, purchasing our own insurance or giving up the dream and JR finding full time employment at a local hospital. The more we discussed it, the more clearly we saw that the fourth option was the one we SHOULD pursue. Between nursing school obligations jobs and family connections we'd moved around between Mobile, Alabama and Meridian, Mississippi quite a bit in the span of 8 years and just wanted to give our kids a permanent home. JR didn't want to uproot them any more. I wanted them to be around family.
 Sooo... JR applied directly to a Portland area hospital and within 3 weeks they had hired him over the phone. Two months after we started discussing a summer project, we were moving to Oregon!
  Of course, it was just temporary because we wanted to give our kids a permanent home, in a good area, around family.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Other people

 Bad stuff happens to other people. You see them on the news and they live in a faraway place, California, Ohio, Timbuktu. Bad stuff doesn't happen to you or in your neighborhood. That's a nice secure thought we have as children. Then we grow up and get divorced. Or endure the loss of an unborn child. Or someone close to us goes to jail. Our friend's parents, or our own, die.
  Our secure bubble bursts but we make another one by saying, "well, at least THAT didn't happen." as we watch the evening news and say a quick prayer of gratitude. 
  I was walking my kids to a playground in my neighborhood today and was reminded that tragedy strikes very close to home and doesn't give a flying fig about your bubble. Not far from my home, a young girl was shot to death by her 16 year old boyfriend. Her body was hidden in the woods on the side of a hill near my house. There's a park at the top of the hill where you can see all of Portland, it seems, and my smaller kids love to go up there and play.  She attended the same high school my older daughter, Bekah, will attend in the fall. And, she was last seen at a fast food restaurant a couple of blocks past the school.
  As we walked through the neighborhood and by the school, I wondered about the other people in the area who were touched by the lives of these two young people. What about her friends and classmates? The people she saw on the bus or in the restaurant? The people who remembered seeing her?  What about the people who lived near them? Did anyone hear the shot that night but dismiss it? I think about the kid who did this. That's what he still is- a kid. He was on the news sitting in a courtroom and that's all I could think, "He's just a kid! He looks so young (because he is) and his life is over."  
  Lastly, I think about the parents of these children. The young man's father had to move out of the house where the shooting occurred. Both families lost a child. How do they go to sleep at night? How do the get up in the morning? How do they relate to other people now? And will they ever be able to go about their lives and  conduct them just like other people?