Thursday, December 29, 2011

Back to Life... Back to Reality

Oh yes.... I did it... do you now have that amazing En Vogue song stuck in your head?  Well, I NEED to not just get it stuck in my head but get it to be the theme song of the new year. I returned to work yesterday and when I put on the pants I was going to wear the reality check that occurred was a bit painful. Over the holidays I definitely over indulged and I don't believe I moved one muscle to work out. I basically relaxed and vegetated and remained in a lounging position most of the time. It's truly amazing how quickly your body begins to reflect your action or lack there of. I don't know why I find it amazing. It's a simple physics principle. For every action there is an equal opposite reaction. No exercise = flabby muscles. Out of control eating = weight gain. I don't know why I should be surprised when my pants feel tight when I put them on after two weeks of no exercise and overeating. So, yesterday I got a reality check from my lower body. And I need to get my act together. Because the first leg of my 2012 New Year's Resolution begins on January 7th. I have a couple New Year's Resolutions. Regardless of the fact that I tend to make grandiose resolutions and then fail to follow through, I have hope that one year,(I'm planning on it being THIS year) I will carry it to completion.

1. 2012 New Year's Resolution #1: I am planning to run a race every month of the year. I've mapped out potential races for each month through September thus far. My first race, which I have already signed up for is the Lansing for Haiti run on Saturday, January 7th. I am running a 5K. Translation:  I need to get CRACKALACKIN'!!!  My connected goal is to run a 1/2 marathon by the end of 2012. The payoff of this resolution will be that I will be in a state of perpetual training throughout the year. So that's my first resolution.

2.  2012 New Year's Resolution #2:  Working for an organization where I field complaint calls on occasion, I'm living with the reality that you never hear the good that your organization does, you just hear the negative. So, you strive to basically never hear anything because that means you're doing a good job. My plan is to start sharing the positive. My first letter will be written to Delta Airlines. On our return flight from Charlotte, our flight to Atlanta was delayed due to weather. This caused us to seriously wonder if we would even make our connecting flight. We were seated in the very last row and it took quite a while to exit the plane. And, if you're familiar with the Atlanta airport, we had to take the tram to a whole other concourse and then run to gate 47....that's right....from 1 to 47. The connecting flight was to depart at 10:25 and our flight from Charlotte didn't even land until 10:00. As I approached gate 47, I saw a Delta representative standing near the entry ushering us to the door. They had held the flight for us. I was truly amazed. Basically, we got on board, they closed the door and we took off. Due to the quick transition, our bags didn't make it. However, the Delta representative was very professional and efficient and our bags were brought to our home within two days after our flight. I'm sure there are things I could complain about regarding the service, the luggage handling, etc. but I think about how many bags they deal with on a daily basis and I didn't have to wait for the next flight. I didn't even have to return to Indianapolis (our airport of origin) to pick them up. They transferred them to Detroit and had the Detroit crew deliver them. All of that to say, I'm going to attempt to look at the positive and not just that, I want to share the positives with the companies I deal with. So, that's a long explanation, but that's resolution #2.

So my friends, what will you turn into your reality in 2012?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Leftovers

I have gotten in the habit of allowing Lucy to lick Blue's food bowl after she has eaten each morning. She loves to eat the leftovers. However, today, as I sit here in fact, I'm holding out. I've put brand new wet food in Lucy's bowl this morning and she isn't eating it. She's staring at Blue's bowl and whining. While Blue has left her bowl with minor remnants remaining, and is probably at Lucy's bowl eating her food as well,  Lucy sits here staring at Blue's bowl and whining. It reminds me a lot of what we do, what I do, on a daily basis. God has given me so much. A wonderful husband, a beautiful home that keeps me warm and comfortable, food for every meal, different clothes for every day of the week x3 or 4, a great job, great friends and a strong loving family. And yet, all I tend to focus on is what I don't have. What I still need in my life that would make me happy. Deep down I know full well that things do not make one happy. Money doesn't bring peace. All I need to do is look at these two furry children and see. Blue is now curled up purring with total contentment and Lucy is still reaching for Blue's bowl crying and whining when her bowl is full. I tell her she is being ridiculous and yet I wonder, how often I'm the ridiculous one.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

No Need to Obey the Growl

I have been struggling with this 20 pounds for quite a while. I have set goals that keep getting moved and adjusted and once again, I'm sitting here looking at the same 20 pounds making itself at home on my frame and once again seeing a goal date passing by. My latest goal was Christmas. I gave myself plenty of time. It was completely doable. As time marched forward, it became more and more a miraculous event that would have to take place and now, I'm resigned to the fact that this 20 pounds and I will welcome 2012 together as well. What is it about this wall that I can't seem to get over? I know it's doable. I've done it before. Where's the willpower? The strength? The determination?

I noticed yesterday that the minute I feel a growl in the stomach (FYI for those of you losing weight, it's a good thing to feel the hunger pains...it means your body will begin to use your fat stores) I panicked and began searching for food. Why panic? Is there really any fear that I will starve to death?  I don't think so. Why do I scurry to obey the growl? Why am I not scolding it as you would a whiny person (I wanted to say child, but the last person I heard whine was myself...clearly an adult)  and say, "be quiet. You'll be fed soon enough. You aren't going to starve. You have a perfectly great meal planned for later. You have eaten enough to power you through. Deal with it."

I'm searching for motivation. I'm searching for a crack in this wall. I'm searching for a new resolve.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

FYI: When the vet says, "You're not going to like what I'm going to say." Brace yourself. It isn't good. And when that same vet tells you that your 11 month old incredibly energetic, loves to run, play fetch, and just move basically unless she is sleeping puppy needs 4-6 weeks of "crate rest" you know that you are in for an incredibly whiny and long December and January.

Evidently, when Lucy tripped in the yard last Saturday, she stretched a tendon in her knee and now her knee pops in and out of joint. So, our choices are:
1. 4-6 weeks crate rest along with 10 days of an anti-inflammatory pill.
2. Be referred to an orthopedist who would tell us the same thing
3. Surgery, which is not recommended at this point.

As Nate and I stood there listing to Dr. Maja tell us our options, I know that my eyes were growing wider and wider in shock. I don't think Nate heard anything beyond orthopedist because he interrupted that as  "Cha-ching! Cha-ching!

In other news, do you watch the show Mad Men? Nate and I have found the series on Netflix and have been watching it and trying to catch up so that we are up to speed when Season 5 begins in March. We are completely addicted and have full conversations about the show just as my Gramma used to talk about JAG. We watched 9 episodes yesterday. 9 episodes of 47 minutes each! That's over 7 hours of watching TV in one afternoon/evening. And then, we talked about it and I dreamt about it all night. And what did I wake up thinking?  I wonder how many episodes we can watch today??!! 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

When I Run

When I run I am convinced I will die in the first 5 minutes. I think thoughts like, "how long will it take for someone to find me?" and "How will they find out who I am so they can notify Nate?"  You know, all those kinds of uplifting, encouraging thoughts that always are a positive influence to keep me running. What helps is knowing that every time I run I go through these thoughts and I haven't keeled over yet! So, I keep going.

When I run I feel a sense of euphroia (after that first 5 minutes) to which nothing else I've accomplished comes close. I feel strong. I believe there are no boundaries to what I can accomplish.

Today, I ran. This was my first race in over a year. And I can honestly say that I felt like I was in the midst of spiritual warfare just getting to this race. I signed up for the race with some fear and trepidation after not even attempting to run the previous race I registered for. I felt like such a failure in the area of running. That euphoric feeling? Yeah, I didn't feel much of it at any point of any run. I really felt like this race was going to be cathartic for me. And I must say, every road block that could come my way did. I didn't train the way I wanted to....the way I should have. With that knowledge, I said, it doesn't matter. I'm going to run as long as I can and I'll walk the rest....but I WILL finish this race. Friday morning I woke up with congestion, chills, sore throat..definitely the makings of a cold. My first thought was, will I be able to run this race? I continued my mantra. I'll run as long as I can...I'll walk the rest....but I WILL finish this race. Early Saturday afternoon, Lucy went outside and somehow hurt her leg.... 3 hours before I was to run. My first thought as I watched her limp around and finally just lay down and not move for an hour was that we would have to take her to the emergency vet and I would miss the race. After the hour, Nate and I had her walk around and there was some improvement. We decided we'd go ahead and go to the race and let her rest and see how she was when we returned. I felt like every way I turned there was some other issue or problem that could have easily been used as an excuse to not run today. But, I did run the race today.

When I run a race, I run faster than I do on the treadmill or on the road alone. I don't know what it is. I honestly feel like I'm running the same pace as usual, but I run faster. I feel stronger. As I'm surrounded by other runners, I feel a sense of camaraderie and feel a part of a team working toward a common goal. I also see them as competitors that spur me on to run faster. At the gym, I usually run a 12 minute mile. Today, I ran the 5K in 32 minutes. That's a little less than an 11 minute mile. That's with a cold, and a poor training program.

I ran today. And after I was finished, I could see why Satan fought me every inch of the way. The euphoria was back. The determination had returned. The person that I want to be was back on top.

When I run, I win a battle against gluttony, against laziness and I treat my body as the temple it is. When I run, I'm reminded of Who I belong to and my purpose. For a lot of people, it's "just a run." For me, it's life.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Traditions

Some traditions, you begin and continue without much thought. It doesn't take much thought for me to avoid even leaving the house on Black Friday. I have no desire to get out there in that mayhem, so I don't. Instead, we have turned the Friday after Thanksgiving into "decorate the house for Christmas." There was some discussion on if we should even decorate. Our furry children have tripled since last Christmas and so there is a LOT of attention being given to the new set up. Blue has taken to climbing the tree. Lucy has taken to removing the ornaments and leaving them around the house. And both of them have a new enemy. Enter, Mr. Snowman.


Lucy went ballistic when we first put out the snowman. She was growling, barking, jumping toward it and then away from it. Even taking it down and letting her sniff it didn't seem to help much. She was convinced that she needed to be on the alert or the snowman would attack. Even Blue approaches the Snowman as a stealth hunter: crouching low and approaching ever so slowly. We'll have to see what the future holds for Mr. Snowman. I'm not holding out much hope for him....he is fairly defenseless and full of the stuffing that Lucy enjoys eating so much.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hole

In the past two days, two of my friends have had babies. And then this morning, another friend posted on facebook that she is going to have her second. My facebook newsfeed is filled with baby and ultrasound photos. I'm so happy for all of them, but alongside of that happiness is sorrow, and it honestly feels like there is a hole. I've tried to fill that hole with my husband, work, furry children, and most days I'm ok. But then there's days like yesterday and today where I have the constant question going through my head, "why not me?" And yet I look at my life and I can't imagine fitting children into it all. And yet, I guess I wish I had the chance to find a way...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Full Steam Ahead

I believe I've mentioned that I've gone back to working full time. I received a promotion at work and am really honored to be trusted enough to be a part of the Development Team at the Museum where I work. We have some ambitious goals for this year and basically, when I started full time again this past Tuesday, I literally hit the ground running and haven't had a chance to look back. I've gotten a new office (it actually has a door on it!!!!), new responsibilities, and a new boss. Truly a whirlwind of a week! Not only am I hitting the new job full throttle, I am continuing to cover my old position as well until a replacement comes on board and they are fully trained. Needless to say, the day flies by and I'm almost breathless by the time it's over. I'm not sure how you can achieve breathlessness sitting at a computer all day....I guess I'm just gifted or something....or REALLY out of shape!
Speaking of being out of shape, I've signed up for a run. As I've mentioned before, I have been debating signing up for another run for months. I decided that what's most important is not what I've done in the past, it's starting fresh and going at it again. When you fall off the horse, you're supposed to jump right back on, isn't that right? And although it's taken me a few months to jump back on the "horse" I have done it. The Holiday Hustle will be held on December 3rd in a nearby town. I'm very thankful that it is going to be in th elate afternoon vs. the early morning like most races are! December 3rd will be downright chilly in this neck of the woods....oh yeah, did I mention it? We had our first snow yesterday.I was actually able to see it from my office because my new office has a huge WINDOW!!!!! 
Although winter is fast approaching (ie: here already) things are on the up and up!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Oversharing

I tend to overshare. I've decided that it's my parents fault as we had weekly family meetings to discuss who knows what and I had a mother that when she was overemotional would explain her cycle to us. I would die or pray for death when these conversations were taking place when I was a child, but now I see myself doing it as well. However, when you are on the opposite end of an overshare it can be a bit odd. I had that experience yesterday.
I forgot to change my phone from vibrate to ring and forgot to plug it in to charge Sunday night. I took the charger to work Monday morning thinking I'd plug it in and literally was so busy I never had time to even plug the darn thing in.  I don't know about you, but when the plug is right next to where you are working and you literally do not have time to plug it in, that definitely means you are having a busy day. By the time I left work the phone was deader than a door nob. So, I plugged it in when I got home. When I was finally able to turn it on again I saw that I had three missed calls and two messages from Sunday evening. I listened to the most recent one first:
"Jenna, this is Nicole from New Wave. Our driver can't find your house and you need to answer your phone."

I listened to it twice because I really wasn't sure what I was hearing, but sure enough, she said "New Wave." I've never heard of New Wave, but I was afraid that it was some company that was trying to deliver Christmas gifts.

Then I listened to the first message:
"This is Daryl. I'm the New Wave driver and I don't know where you live."
I looked at the timestamp of when these calls were made and they were made on Sunday night around 8:45 pm. It seemed like a very strange time to deliver Christmas gifts, but I thought I'd make sure.

"New Wave Chicken and Fish" the man said when he answered the phone. I explained that I had two messages from this number from the night before and he said, when were the calls made? I explained they were made around 8:45-9:00 pm. He said, "oh, well that explains it. The girl we have answering our phones is cross-eyed and gets numbers switched around at times."
uh...excuse me?
"Yeah...oh don't get me wrong. She's real pretty...she just has crossed eyes."
ok. Thanks for clarifying.

Very odd conversation, I must say.


On a side note, I begin full time today. Hopefully my mind will continue to work after 1 pm!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Switcheroo-Chango

In July I switched from working full time to part time. There were lots of reasons and the time between July and today, I have had every afternoon to accomplish all of the amazing things that I never had time to do when I worked full time. Instead, what I have done is a WHOLE lot more TV watching. I'm now completely addicted to The Closer starring Kyra Sedgewick. Don't get me wrong. I didn't sit at home every afternoon and eat bon bons.  I was able to clean the house, go grocery shopping, and make every doctor appointment without ever having to take time off from work....and still fit The Closer in each day... :)  When I went part time, sacrifices were made. We agreed to make our trip to Pittsburgh our birthday and Christmas gifts to each other, and I went on the grand adventure of coloring my own hair. I know that penny pincher experts say that is a "no-brainer" area to cut costs, but after doing this since July, I beg to differ. I have not found that coloring my own hair has resulted in the amazing effects that I receive from Pam at the salon. In fact, I haven't colored my hair in about 5 weeks because that was when I first started to hope and pray that a full time position would become available and I didn't want to get a position and then have to put off getting my hair colored because I needed to allow my hair to recover from a self-dye job.
An opportunity has come my way that I just can't pass up. A full time position has come available that will provide me with an amazing learning experience, a great challenge, and a fantastic resume builder.Since I quit teaching, I've had a job. Now I'm looking at building a new career. And I'm incredibly excited about it. And after calling Nate and my parents, I called Pam, my hairdresser, and made the first appointment possible to turn this wooly mammoth mane I'm currently sporting into something more tame. Unfortunately, Pam is on vacation and will be for the next two weeks. So, wooly mammoth it will be until November 19th. The new job starts next week!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Attitude Determines Altitude

When you wake up in the morning what are your first thoughts? Do you groan, roll over, and just pray for more sleep? Do you jump out of bed, embracing the new day and all of it's opportunities and sing "Oh what a Beautiful Morning" to your children as you throw open their bedroom doors? (Oh wait, no one on earth does that other than my father????) Or is it a mixture? Do you groan, roll over, and then think of everything you have to do and calculate the time needed to do them? I'm normally in the latter of those camps. Once I'm awake, I can pray, wish, and try for more sleep but the list that is constantly running and being revised and reviewed in my mind is on auto-start and there's no turning it off. In fact, as my mind goes through this mental list, I begin getting exhausted just thinking about getting it all completed. Today was quite refreshing. I woke up and there was only one thing on my mental to do list. I have added a few more since getting up, but to only have one thought of something to do for the day upon waking up was good. My thought was, "I bet we have time to go to the gym today." That may seem like an odd thought to have upon waking up, but I can't help what my first thoughts are...they just are there....that's all.

I'm excited because I've started running again. I know that I have mentioned my issues with running, the mental block I have had about it in past posts. It has taken some time to believe that yes, I can do this. When I first start running, I always think that death is fast approaching, but as I get into my stride (about 5 minutes in) I feel like I can take on anything. When I finish the run I feel like I've climbed Mt Everest. It's an amazing and wonderful feeling. Not to mention, the health and diet benefits that it offers.

It's fall in Michigan. We had our first hard frost yesterday and this morning it was 26 degrees when I woke. This will be my fourth winter here and I can honestly say, that even though there are reports of it being even more bitterly cold this year and that there will be more snow than usual, I'm not dreading it as I have every other year. I'm accepting it as part of what life here is all about. Every other year I have sunk into a depression as summer has faded and fall has quickly moved into winter. This year I'm feeling much better about it and for that I'm grateful.

I've noticed that my attitude truly does determine what I accomplish. Today, I'm going to run and feel as if I've reached the apex of Mt. Everest. And I will embrace this beautiful fall day and enjoy it's beauty and let tomorrow (winter) worry about itself. Attitude determines altitude whether it be 45 minutes on the treadmill or a positive outlook toward winter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How Different Are We?

As I watch our pets interact, it amazes me how much behavior I see in them that is so typical of humans, typically children, but unfortunately, I've seen it in many adults as well....including myself. Lucy has every toy imaginable. Remnants of stuffed animals, pull toys, fetch toys, you name it, she's got it. Blue has a few toys as well. And even though Lucy has every other toy imaginable, all she wants are Blue's toys. Blue has this little stuffed mouse filled with catnip. If Blue is playing with it (and that's the key piece of information) all Lucy wants is that mouse and she will do anything and everything to get to it. If Blue starts playing with a toy that Lucy has left  forgotten in another part of the house, Lucy will immediately forget the toy she was so contentedly playing with and make every effort to take the toy away from Blue.
I firmly believe that car manufacturers were clearly fathers and mothers. Have you ever carefully looked at the back seat of a car?  There are clearly defined borders for each seat. I remember so often sitting in the back with my brother and sister and carefully watching to make sure they didn't cross "the line." Unfortunately, the chair that Lucy and Blue try to share has no division. And so we have issues where they are each trying to push the other out of the chair.
If we give them both a piece of ice. Lucy doesn't care that she has her own piece, she only wants Blue's. Do you remember when we were told to share a piece of something...anything?  Our Dad would have to use precise cutting skills to cut it exactly in half...or thirds...or fourths...depending on how many of us there were at the time. And even though he did everything possible to make them even we strongly suspected that the other sibling had a bigger piece.
It is pretty crazy to witness it in the animal world as well. And in looking at the pictures, don't worry, I broke it up pretty quickly. The crazy thing is, they roughhouse like this all the time. Blue wants it as much as Lucy does.

It starts like this. Notice that Blue is not only sitting on THE chair, but Lucy's toy is also in that chair.     

Then Lucy jump on the chair and starts to try to squeeze Blue out. Yes, the toy is missing because it is impossible to get it all in "one take."


This is blurry....no way around it.... but suffice it to say, Lucy kept nudging until Blue attacked.

And all out war is declared....all because of the fact that they both wanted to sit in the chair.

And for those of you worried that they didn't survive. Peace was eventually restored.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Products

I am an avid TV watcher. Nate would tell you that I'm an addict, but I prefer the term avid. I'm one of those that will watch the ads and will buy new products hook, line and sinker. Still to this day I drool over this amazing item:

And I will admit that when I go to Kohl's I linger over their "Seen on TV" section for quite awhile. New products get me every time. Except this time. Recently I saw an ad for an automatic soap dispenser.

The commercial claims that people should use this hand soap dispenser because then they don't need to touch the germy  dispenser. Now, as you've seen, I'm pretty gullible. I love automatic things and love new products. However, I find their ad campaign downright ridiculous. Let me explain. Your hands are dirty. You put one finger on the dispenser pump and squirt soap into your hand. You then rub the soap all over your hands, including the finger that has just picked up every germ imaginable from the soap dispenser. You sing "Happy Birthday" loud and proud because you know that you should scrub your hands with the soap for that length of time to kill the germs and then you rinse. You see what I'm saying? No matter what you've just picked up from the dispenser, it's gone after you've washed your hands. I don't get it. You could market it as a cool automatic hand soap dispenser.... that's fine. But to claim that you can keep yourself from touching the germy dispenser seems like a poor ad campaign. Is it just me? Is someone actually getting paid a whole ton o' money for this thing? They claim that you will "never touch a germy soap pump again." My question is, isn't the person that changes out the soap containers going to touch this germy soap pump?
Can someone explain all this to me?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

At the end of September the weather turned cold with highs in the mid 50's. I decided it was time to switch the clothes. This entails taking everything that is "summer attire" and folding it up, putting it in bins, and putting it in the basement along with the box of summer shoes. Um...what I should say is that it entails Nate carrying the bins of winter clothes from the basement so that I can sort and then carry the summer clothes back down to the basement.  So, one weekend that is what I/we did. What happened that Monday? A warming trend in the weather. And for two weeks we had highs near 80 degrees. Now don't get me wrong, I am NOT complaining about warm weather. But, for the first few days I suffered wearing winter attire in this warm weather. Then I saw that they believed it was going to continue for awhile, so I put on my puppy dog face and asked Nate to bring up the bins again. Now I have a bin of shoes and a bin of clothes sitting in the bedroom. I keep grabbing items out of them. Now the weather has turned cold again. I'm in a slight conundrum about whether I (Nate) should take the summer clothes back down to the basement. I don't think Nate will take too kindly to have to do it all over again if there is another warming trend. So, what I've been told is that I should keep out a few outfits so that if there is another time of warm weather, he won't have to lug things back and forth again..... huh! Now why didn't I think of that?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Depression Era Cat

I've come across people, mainly elderly relatives, who kept everything. You probably have too. My Gramma, for instance, kept everything she could in her single wide trailer. My grandfather died when I was 1 and when my gramma died when I was 17, my dad and his siblings had to clean out her home. All of my grandfather's clothes were still there....in a single wide trailer. Stuffed to the gills. I was told that it was because she lived through the depression and never wanted to go through that again, so would hold on to things "just in case." Well, I think Blue might just be kinda like that. Blue is either going to learn to control herself when it comes to food (hmmm..... maybe I should use the same will power with myself that I will use on her!) or she is going to be the fattest cat in the history of the universe. She can not get enough to eat. She wants more and more and more. It's constant. Once she is done with one bowl she wants another. Yesterday I fed her 1/4 can of wet kitten food. She ate that and started meowing as if death from starvation was imminent. I thought, good night, she obviously is hungry! So, I gave her another 1/4. She gobbled that up like she hadn't eaten in days and started begging for more. I ended up feeding her the whole can. She ate that and then wobbled over and started eating Lucy's food. When Lucy came to eat her own food, Blue guarded it as if it was a matter of national security. She took a bit of a breather and then moved on to Buddy's food. She could barely walk by the time she was finished.
Today began Blue's controlled eating plan. She received a 1/4 of a can of kitten food mixed with a whole lot of water. Buddy was fed out in the garage, so that he could eat in peace and actually eat his food today. Lucy was fed dry food, which doesn't hold the same power over Blue as wet does.
I'm wondering if it has something to do with her being a stray and having suffered with hunger when she was really young. I feel like we should have named her Scarlet O'Hara, because I swear, if she could have, she would have stood up on her hind legs, grabbed a fistful of dirt and cried, "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again!"
We will have to see how it goes. On the human front, we are no longer eating a gluten free diet.  I have found that any time that I totally remove something from my diet, I overcompensate on what I am allowed. So, not cutting calories at all, in fact, in most instances, increasing the caloric intake. I need to go back to basics, remind myself of my own blog post, and start crackalackin'!

PS: It's hard not to have the focus of the blog be the animals when this is the view while I'm writing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Be Careful What You Pray For

When I taught, I was always able to tell when a student was lying. Other than the obvious signs of: no eye contact, fidgety behavior, eyes looking off to the right (or is it to the left), there was the story itself. When you teach middle school it's always amazing how a lie grows. As I would, with one eyebrow raised, listen to their excuse for anything, they would begin to embellish their story with "and thens." And THEN, the dog ate my homework. And THEN, he ran away when I tried to chase him down.... you get the idea.  Well, what I want to know is when did my life...the real life I am living, live itself out with "and thens????"

My true life, no embellishment necessary tale begins on Monday. Monday was the day I took Blue in to be spayed and get her shots. I had made the appointment two weeks before. Blue and I dropped Nate off to work and then drove to the vet to get in on their "October Spay/Neuter just $55" Special.  I was under a time constraint because I needed to drop her off and then get back across town to work, so efficiency was of the utmost importance. I walked in with Blue to meet a very unsmiling person behind the desk who asked, "are you here for surgery?"
Yes. (Remember short and sweet. Time is of the essence.)
Have you filled out your paperwork already?
No, I haven't.
You need to leave your cat in the car until you fill out the paperwork. 
Excuse me?
Leave your animal in the car, then come in and fill out your paperwork, then go get the cat.
SIGH (yes, it was a very big, very loud sigh. So, I took Blue back out to the car wogged (walk/jog) back into the vet and began to fill out the paperwork. Unfortunately, I had questions. So, I went back up to the counter to my arch nemesis, the woman behind the counter. and said, "I have some questions." She arched her eyebrows and blinked. You know the look I mean? The one that communicates, "you are annoying me to no end woman and yet I cannot say that out loud. So, I will say it with my facial expression. Now, ask your question."
I don't know how old our kitten is. She's a stray and we've decided to adopt her. (I guess I did probably expect that little tidbit to melt the annoyed behavior right out of the woman, but instead it caused h
er to roll her eyes. At this point, I will admit that after the eye roll, my attitude began to reflect hers more and more.)
We can look at her teeth to determine how old she is.
Yes, but, you are asking me if I want her to get the rabies shot, and I don't know if she's old enough. You want me to sign off on whether I want the shot and I just don't know.
We won't give it to her if she's not old enough.
Ok. Thanks.
I finished the paperwork and went up to the front. There was now a line. I waited patiently for my turn (I may have tapped my foot a little....and there wasn't any music playing.... so I wasn't communicating that I could keep time...more like, I have NO time left for this!). I finally make my way to the front of the line.
We don't do cats on Mondays.
Huh?
We don't do cats on Mondays. I guess I could have told you before.
I don't understand.
We only spay/neuter dogs on Mondays. You'll need to come back tomorrow.
But my appointment is today.
No, it is tomorrow. Come back tomorrow. Next?
Seething might be the appropriate word to describe how I felt inside. I now had to take Blue back home which is in the opposite direction of work AND THEN, I couldn't just drop her off, I had to feed her, as she hadn't eaten in preparation for surgery. I did all of this realizing that all it had been was a dress rehearsal for the next day.
On Tuesday, October 4th, I took Blue back to the vet and I walked in. It wasn't too surprising to me that the lady didn't ask who I was or why I was there. She calmly picked up my paperwork from the day before and asked if I wanted the same shots as yesterday. I said, "yes, as long as she's old enough for the rabies, that's fine."
When I picked Blue up that evening I was given two "make sures"
Make sure that Blue does not lick at the incision. Cats don't normally lick at the incision site like dogs do, but if she does, give us a call. We're here until 7:00. (at that time it was 5:20). You'll be in a world of hurt if she licks away the glue holding her incision together. AND make sure that she goes to the bathroom.
My thoughts were pretty simple. First of all, how do you make a cat go to the bathroom? AND, what happens if Blue starts licking after 7:00???? But, I kept my mouth shut, cheerily said, "have a great evening!" and got Blue and I out of there. I probably should have asked my questions...
Because, at 7:05, Blue started licking at her incision. Nate and I did our best to distract her and entertain her but that can only last so long. We attempted to make a cone for Blue. We made one out of cardstock. It was too small. I had the idea to use the lid of an empty Cool Whip container that was now in the recycle bin at the end of the driveway. At this point, you must know, it was 10:45 pm. We were both exhausted. All I wanted to do was crawl into a corner and start sucking my thumb because I learned very early in life (in utero, to be exact), thumbsucking does make all things better. Nate decided to bring the recycle bin up to the house in the attempt of looking somewhat natural in rummaging through it instead of going through it at the edge of the driveway. He opened the garage door for light and that's when, he realized that Buddy had been out in the garage. Buddy took off like a shot. Nate came running into the house looking for a flashlight because, of course, Buddy is black and there's no way we were going to find him without one. And of course, none of our flashlights were easily accessible nor did any of them have working batteries. So, as the flashlights are being tried and batteries are flying, I'm trying to keep Blue from licking at her incision. Nate caught Buddy and brought in the cool whip container for it to promptly fail about 20 minutes into the wearing of it. I was beyond tired and we just prayed that Blue wouldn't lick away all the glue by morning. I tried to sleep with my hand over Blue's incision.... that worked for all of about 42.5 seconds. The next day, a trip to Petco allowed us some much needed rest because Blue now has a cone. When we first put it on her, we put her in Lucy's crate so that we could see if she was able to remove it. Thankfully, it stayed put!





I have been praying that I would be more like Jesus. I want to honor Him in what I say and do and in my attitude. I think I failed on this day, but I know that there's always tomorrow...and a whole lot of other opportunities await! I don't know whether I feel very thankful for that or not.... right now, I'm exhausted!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Praise God for a New Day!

Yesterday I didn't live in such a way that people would automatically know that I am a Christian. I gossiped, I displayed a negative attitude, I lacked self control, I got angry and then acted on that anger and hurt those closest to me. Yesterday was a bad day.
I'm reading Steven Furtick's book Sun Stand Still. It is about how Joshua, a mighty man of faith in the Old Testament, prayed that the sun would stand still so the Israelites could continue fighting the battle that God had sent them to fight and God answered his prayer and stopped the sun from moving. That's an awesome miracle that God did for Joshua. What a great story from the Bible. But what I forget a lot of times is that God is the same yesterday, today and forever and therefore, if Joshua could pray such an audacious prayer according to God's will and have it happen, so can I. I have been wondering what my "sun stand still" prayer should be and I realized what it is early this morning. I woke up very early and was overcome with guilt over my attitude and actions of yesterday and I know that things need to change. And I know that all the self help books and all the human efforts on my part will be in vain for my battle is not against flesh and blood but it is a spiritual battle.
I prayed before I had my time of Bible reading and I just asked God for forgiveness and clarity and that He would open my mind to what He wanted me to learn. And then I turned to where I am reading right now and started reading these words in 2 Timothy 3:
"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them." (2 Tim. 3:1-5)
This honestly describes my behavior and thought pattern of yesterday. And I believe and know without any doubt that as a believer in Jesus Christ, that is NOT who I am. With Christ living in me, I am to be committed to "no longer conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of my mind." (Rom. 12:2)
2 Timothy goes on to say this: "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
My Sun Stand Still prayer is that God would renew my mind and that I would be open to the Holy Spirit's continued cleaning and purifying of my heart so that with each new day, I am living more and more in line with Who my Master is. And that I would no longer live according to the pattern of this world, but live a life that glorifies my Heavenly Father. That is my sun stand still prayer.
I'm sure there are a lot of people that would never share such a thing because what if it doesn't happen. the thing is, I know it will. My God does not want me to live according to my sinful nature. I will screw up often. But I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Wheat Belly - Update

We have been continuing a gluten free diet with some success....well, success for at least one of us! Nate has been losing weight. I have not. I believe that it is because anytime that I cut something out totally, somewhere subconsciously, I believe that it gives me license to overindulge with other foods. This mindset must change and must change NOW! I have seen a dramatic improvement in how I feel having gone gluten free. I am more alert and more energized. I'm not "completely exhausted" by 6 pm every night. I haven't been getting as much sleep with Blue having taken up residence in our room and proving that cats are definitely nocturnal animals. But, I haven't been feeling any adverse effects to that. I wake up still refreshed each day and able to go to work and get the job done. I don't have that "after lunch" fog anymore either. I like the way I feel gluten free. Therefore, I want to continue it. Now, I just need to eat other foods in reasonable amounts and I'll be doing well! 
My life right now seems to revolve around all sports. We, of course, have UM football on the brain, but now we also have the ALCS starting tonight with Tigers vs. Yankees. As my sister-in-law is an avid Yankees fan and Nate a Tigers fan, we are in for some exciting fireworks!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Time Out!

I haven't written much lately...I've been too busy trying to be an emcee, playmate, and referee all at once. I'm learning that is what it takes to juggle 1 annoyed adult cat, an 8 month old puppy that believes the world should revolve around her, and an 8 week old kitten that wants to explore and find the tiniest nook and cranny to fit into. It's pretty funny that Lucy now knows the word "crate" and when I threaten to put her into it for time out, she automatically just goes into it and stays there until I either walk away from it or I beckon her out. Today, she was chasing Buddy and all I did was say, "Lucy" in my stern momma voice and she ran and went in her crate. It's pretty funny to see your dog basically disciplining herself when she knows she's done something she's not allowed to do.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Introducing Blue





Blue is the newest addition to our fast growing brood. (We've added a puppy and a kitten in 7 months). We went and chose Blue out of a litter of three with a sweet mama cat as well. I have to say I was sorta tempted to take them all, they had such a cute family dynamic and knowing that the rest will be going to Animal Control really made it difficult to walk away. But then, visions of being turned in as a participant on the Animal Hoarders show set things into proper perspective. What we have learned is that Nate picks out the best names for our pets. Granted, he named Buddy before I was ever on the scene, but he also came up with the name Lucy and as we were driving home with Blue in his lap I threw out names such as Shadow and Samantha and Gertrude (Shadow being the only one that had any chance) while Nate through out names such as Stormy, Lightning, Cloudy, Overcast (it had been raining earlier, so maybe that was his inspiration) and then he threw out Blue as an option. It is Michigan football season, after all! And it seems to fit, as she does have a black stripe on her forehead in the shape of an M. So, welcome my little Blue Bell!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The New Addition

Did I mention that we're getting another cat?  Really?  I didn't?  I thought for sure I had mentioned it once before.... Never did?  Huh!  I wonder why...

I envision this conversation with my family....after they have read this post, maybe I won't have to worry about it! We've decided to add to our growing animal kingdom again. The reason is that both Nate and I are suckers for strays. When my friend, Erin, posted on facebook that a girl she worked with had a stray cat family at her house and that she was allergic and she needed to find homes because the Humane Society wouldn't take anymore and Animal Control was full and just euthanizing immediately upon delivery, I was hooked. It took me back several years ago to when I broke my ankle, had to live with my parents again, and my two cats were at home alone, being watched over by the neighbor. I'm sure she did the best she could, but the house was basically trashed from there not being anyone there on a consistent basis with them. The cats had gotten sick, the carpet hadn't been cleaned...it was a bad scene. Knowing that I could barely take care of myself, led me to a point of crisis where they had to be removed from the house. I tried to find a new home for them, I tried to get them a spot at the Humane Society. But it was the same situation, the Humane Society wouldn't take them because they were full. My parents ended up taking them to Animal Control. I was beside myself with guilt and grief.  After hearing the plight that Erin's workmate was going through, I couldn't say no. I felt like this was my chance to redeem myself. So, my family will probably call me the "crazy cat lady," my mom and sister will need to take 3 Zyrtecs a day when visiting, and I will happily add to my brood....er, litter....er, pack... family.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Look, Ma! No Cavities!...and other such ramblings

I went to the dentist yesterday. I have a tooth (as I describe it is the first big one on the bottom left side) as the hygenist and dentist describe it: "#19) that is hurting. The other day I was eating yogurt with blueberries for breakfast. Shouldn't be that difficult right? In fact, I would think that when I have no teeth, that this would be a suitable meal. I bit down on the blueberry right on top of good ol' #19 and pain went coursing through my veins, up my spine and caused me to almost jump from seat to ceiling. The problem is, Nate and I haven't been to the dentist in a couple of years. The dentist we found when we first moved to Ann Arbor has to be a cross between a Nazi SS agent and Joseph Stalin....and I don't mean looks!  We would dread our 6 month appointments. I would go and they would "ooh" and "aah" over how well I take care of my teeth. And then Nazi/Stalin would come in and say, "Now when do you want to schedule me to fill in the 4 cavities we found?" Nate would go and be raked over the coals for not flossing. So, with that kind of encouragement, we decided to not go to the dentist for awhile....which is probably a little concerning if I really had 4 cavities in my teeth that needed to be filled...because they never were. But with pain in the lower left from eating a blueberry, I decided it was time. We asked a couple of friends, and they recommended the same dentist and without further ado, I called and made an appointment. They oohed and aahed and really complimented me on how well I take care of my teeth and I was just waiting for the boom: "You need a root canal" or "You need a crown." I honestly don't know what these two things are but I dread them to no end. Instead, this dentist said it would be a crime to start drilling holes in my beautiful teeth. She said that a small part of the enamel had worn off which was increasing the sensitivity in that tooth and that I should use a sensitive toothpaste. And guess what? There weren't 4 other cavities waiting to be filled.  I walked out of the dentist's office with a new toothbrush, two samples of the sensitive toothpaste, and new dental floss. It was the most amazingly fantastic dentist appointment I've ever had!

Random Ramblings:

Did you see the latest picture of Fergie?....I mean Kirstie Alley who has turned into Fergie?
She has reportedly lost over 100 pounds since appearing on Dancing With The Stars. I am in shock over this and am wanting to know where to sign up for the new show: Dancing With Ordinary Folk.

And then, here is something I saw posted on Facebook that I thought might give us some gumption to remain on the straight and narrow in terms of our food choices:

On that note, I hope EVERYONE has a great day!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Week One - accomplished!

We made it! We made it through one week of ingesting no gluten of any kind. And I must say that I am not as cranky...well, in my opinion, I'm not as cranky!We discussed our progress yesterday and decided that we are going to attempt to stick with this for a while. As we believe that we have made it through the withdrawal period, we are going to begin to include steel-cut oatmeal and rice into the diet. I also found a gluten free pizza crust recipe that sounds pretty promising, so we are going to have that this week as well.The more I read in the book, Wheat Belly , the more convinced I am that this is something to at least consider.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Witchdrawal...I mean Withdrawal Continues

It's not a pretty site. Snippy remarks, flashes of anger, increased frustration, all have been evident in our household...and of course, they have all been displayed by me. Why is Nate so even keel?  Why is he going through this withdrawal with such ease? Why does reason always trump with him? Where are his emotional outbursts? Where is his crankiness?  Why do I have to display it all for both of us?

You may be wondering what we've been eating as we've removed all wheat and gluten from our diet. That really hasn't been too bad for us, actually. We've increased the protein and the fruits and veggies as well. Last night we had Turkey Chili over baked potatoes. Tonight is chicken picatta over shredded zucchini. We've been flipflopping omelets with greek yogurt and berries for the monings and taking veggies, almonds and cheese sticks for lunch. So we keep trudging on in hopes for a brighter and happier tomorrow! :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Withdrawal

Dr. Davis warns about withdrawal in his book, Wheat Belly. He equates it with the symptoms smokers go through when they are trying to quit. I just never thought it would happen to me. Last night after snapping at Nate one more time for I have no idea what, he looked at me and said, "What's wrong with you?" I confess, I have no idea why I was irritable and cranky, I just was. It probably didn't help that yesterday, as we were about to leave for work Buddy got sick all over the upstairs carpet. We cleaned it up, but it needed more. My list for the afternoon began to grow as steam cleaning the carpets was added. When I got home and was about to steam clean the upstairs, Lucy dutifully led me to where Buddy had been sick again....all over the downstairs carpet. I cleaned up and steam cleaned both areas making a mental note to call the vet for an appointment for Buddy.Nate and I both had places to go for the evening and as we were preparing to leave, Nate discovered that Buddy, once again, had been sick all over the newly steam cleaned upstairs carpet. So yeah, I got a little snippy. We moved the car out of the garage and Buddy has been in the garage every since. Today I need to take him to the vet and I need to steam clean the carpets....again.... all of this on top of going through wheat withdrawal. You may want to delay any visits for awhile as this may be a contentious household for the next few days!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wheat Belly - Be Gone!

If you recall, Nate told me that he'd be happy to not eat bread anymore. So, yesterday, what greeted him when he got up in the morning was this:






The food on the counter is all the food that contains wheat or some byproduct of wheat. It is in the "get rid of pile." The food on the shelf is what is left. Not too much, if you ask me!  On the counter sits one of the loaves of french bread I made on Saturday while buying and reading the book Wheat Belly, by William Davis.

We are actually going to give this a whirl and see how we do. Yesterday for breakfast, I had 1/2 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt with about 2/3 cup raspberries mixed in and a handful of raw almonds. For lunch we had chicken in the crockpot, boiled new potatoes in a lime butter sauce, and green beans. Today we had omelets for breakfast and we are taking carrots, celery, almonds, cheese sticks and apples for lunch. Tonight is grilled chicken, baked sweet potatoes, and spinach salad. Dr. Davis does suggest that you limit the amount of potato/starch in your diet. As I had already gone grocery shopping for the week before deciding this new approach, we will work our way through what we've got in terms of potatoes and I will make changes for next week.

I think Nate is still a tad on the shell shocked side that I'm actually going through with this. But he hasn't totally started to panic yet as he has hope that I won't stick with this for very long! We'll see!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thoughts on 9/11

I used to hear people say, "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" and I was amazed that there was one singular event in my parent's group of friends that everyone could identify with. Now I know what that is like.

It was my planning period at school. I went to the office, business as usual, and the secretarial staff had the TV on CNN . This wasn't completely unusual, but I saw smoke coming from a building, and I must admit, I didn't recognize what building it was. I asked what was going on and they explained that a plane had flown into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. We were discussing if it was an accident, and how in the world something like that could happen when we watched the second plane fly into the second tower. I remember chills running down my spine and there were so many rumors about what was happening. There were rumors about numerous targets in Washington DC getting hit and we all stood in numb disbelief as we watched the coverage and then in complete horror as we saw the towers fall, learned about the Pentagon, and then also Flight 93. This is one of those events that we truly will never forget.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Finds

I found a new facebook page/blog that I am enjoying. It's called Deliciously Organic and has some neat recipes and discussion about eating "real" food. On the blog, there was a review and then discussion of a new book, Wheat Belly (the link will take you to the author's blog).

It discusses how modern wheat, no matter if it is refined to white flour or if it is left in it's whole grain state, is not good for us as it has been modified since ancient times. I was so fascinated by this that, to my husband's horror, I bought the book for my kindle. It's almost laughable that I would consider removing wheat from our diet. As the book was being delivered to my Kindle, there was french bread rising in the kitchen. To be honest, when I talked about the book with Nate, he bravely said, "I would be fine with not eating bread anymore." (I do believe that his bravery comes from repeated lessons of "this won't last long enough for me to even miss it!") So, now that my belly is full on french bread pizza made from the homemade french bread, I will open this book and hope that what I learn will cause instant weight loss and healthier lives without much change to our current lifestyle....sure..... right....like that would be even plausible!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vacation


Nate and I have just returned from a trip to Pittsburgh. People were fairly surprised that we chose such a location for a weekend getaway. I guess Pittsburgh isn't known for being a destination of choice by most people. When we told people that we were going to Pittsburgh many people responded with, "Why?"  I basically would just shrug my shoulders. Nate and I enjoy going to places we've never been before. We love to get in the car and just drive through the countryside and explore the towns that come our way. Neither one of us had ever been to Pittsburgh and when we were driving by it a year ago we commented that maybe we should visit it sometime! That's basically how Destination Pittsburgh 2011 came to be. It was a great trip; even though I was battling a cold throughout the trip and then, of course, Nate came down with the cold the last few days we were there. We did cut it short as we were both feeling pretty miserable and didn't want to sit in the rain to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, some of the highlights were:
1.  The "Plastic Brick Museum" (can't be called the Lego Museum because Lego won't allow them to use it's name). This is an actual Lego....er, "plastic brick" mosaic of Mt. Rushmore that I thought was quite impressive.
2.  We walked from our hotel in downtown to the Cathedral of Learning at Pitt. This was about a 5 mile walk and it was ALL uphill. We were told not to walk it. We were told it wasn't "walkable." But, we ignored the advice and decided to conquer the mountain!  Trust me when I say that you should NOT walk from downtown to Pitt. Although we did walk it, it truly is not an experience I ever want to relive.

3. We also took an amazing tour of Falling Water, the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Mill Run, PA. I must say that I was disappointed to learn that Wright only went to the location one time during the architectural creation/building of this masterpiece. I have always envisioned it as a true labor of love and to realize that he was a genius that didn't put much effort into it at all, was a let down for me. Don't get me wrong....it is still quite exquisite!

4. We also enjoyed eating at places that have been suggested on two of our favorite shows, Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives & Man vs. Food. We ate at Primanti Brothers where our sandwiches looked like this:
and at Pamela's where we had crepe style pancakes that were divine. Trust me when I say that our diet and exercise program took a nose dive on this trip. Because even though we took a 5 mile all uphill walk, I developed a blister on my pinky toe and a strong aversion to any walking at all as a mode of transportation.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sick

Dealing with the unexpected has never been my strong suite. I'm a planner, as I've mentioned before. I wish that God would tell us in advance, "Ok, you're going to be sick _______ days in 2011. Let me know when you'd like them to take place." And then I could plan for them.
Yesterday, out of the blue, my throat started hurting. I thought maybe it was because I had Diet Coke at lunch instead of water....I don't know why I would think this, Diet Coke has never before been the cause of a sore throat....I was just trying to blame it on something.
You also may want to know that I believe I shoulda/coulda/woulda been a nurse or some other medical professional in a former life. I love all things medical. I diagnose Nate all the time....much to his chagrin! And I'm right....well, usually.....except for the time he had appendicitis instead of the flu...but hey, in my defense, he doesn't communicate very much when sick!  He says, "I don't feel good." My diagnostic mind goes to work. I ask "what hurts", "how does it feel", "what kind of pain is it" questions and he responds very vaguely. I guess my alarm needs to be, if Nate says, "I think I'm too sick to go to work" how I need to interpret that is, "Go directly to the emergency room!" So, back to the illness at hand....which is MINE by the way..... So I drank a ton of water, thinking I was dehydrated. The cold water felt good...but the pain didn't go away. I took Alka Seltzer Cold Medicine because I believe that is the be all cure all when it comes to colds and their symptoms. Thinking that it would zap it before it really started and I'd wake up feeling calm and refreshed and it would all be a bad dream. I further prescribed an early bed time. I was in bed and preparing to fall asleep around 7:30 pm. I had a large glass of ice water beside the bed just in case I needed drinks throughout the night. I was ready for feeling better. However, my plan and prescription did not work. Throughout the night I woke up feeling clammy and then hot and parched and then chilled. And my throat felt like it was filled with glass. Because I took the Alka Selter Cold Medicine Night time formula, I wasn't all that with it throughout the night to make any medical decisions. But, when my alarm went off I quickly began assessing my health quotient. Sore throat? Still there in a larger than life way. Prescription: salt water gargle, STAT!  No aches , so that's good. But holy moly, there are some VERY enlarged glands on my neck. And when I swallow, I hear/feel a crackly sound in my ears.
I want to hold up a big stop sign to my body and say, "Uh, excuse me?  Do you not know that we have things to do? Do you not know we are preparing to go out of town? Do you not know that my to do list is long and I don't have time for this?"  But for some reason, I don't think my body is listening right now....it's too busy trying to avoid swallowing.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Worst Nightmare Realized

My "I'd never" list is quite long and covers a WIDE variety of topics. But probably the largest topic it covers is children and the raising of them. I have lots of opinions and lots of ideas on how best to raise a child. Doesn't every person over the age of 30 who does not have a child?  And yet, most of the people that have been in that camp, when they have children, do all of the things that they proclaimed they'd never do. This is what I hear...but I know I'd never be that way....oh wait...there's another one of those!
Let's see....I'd never ignore "sass talk." I'd never let my child's friends spend the night (aren't I nice?). I'd never coddle. I'd never give in after saying "no" already. I'd never.... One of the things that I've always said that I'd never do is have the child's extra curricular activities interfere with the family's normal mode of operation. I've always said that the family unit comes first, not the individual, so any activity would need to fit around the family instead of the family fitting around the activity. It sounds quite noble in my head. I vowed I'd never be a soccer mom. Since I don't have children, the "I'd never" list remains firmly intact. However, we now have Lucy. And at times, I try to objectively look at my behavior toward the dog and realize that if Nate and I did have children my "I'd never" list would be in serious trouble.
I have signed Lucy up for an agility training class. Why? Because she loves socializing with other dogs and it's good for her. Since when does what is good for a dog reign anywhere in my brain? I grew up on a farm. We had an indoor dog and an outdoor dog. We had 17 cats that lived in the barn and we raised all sorts of other animals. Never did the social outlet needs of the animals ever compute in our brains. Ruffles (our miniature schnauzer) was crate trained and she would be in that crate while we were at school/work and all night. We'd let her out when we got home and the socializing we did with her was usually when we let her out of her crate and put her in again. To be fair, Ruffles was my younger brother, Jonathan's, best friend and they'd take 52 mile walks around our 3 acre property quite often. Raggles was the outside dog and we'd greet her and love on her when we were coming or going but other than that, not much in the way of social interaction for Raggles either. As one was the inside dog and the other the outside, I honestly don't even remember them socializing much amongst themselves, either. They seemed happy enough. We didn't sign them up for classes so they could socialize. For that matter, Lucy has Buddy, our cat. Isn't that socialization enough?
Evidently not...for I have signed her up and will pay for her to go to class every Thursday from 7:45-8:45 pm. and I will drive her 30 minutes to class and 30 minutes home and work with her. That's right, people who know me well. This is going to put a definite crimp in my schedule as this will cut into my bed time! And this is for a dog. What in the world would I do for a child????

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gardening - Step One

I have been researching gardening and trying to find the best place in our yard for our garden. This has been a helpful resource: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gardening because I honestly have no idea where to place the garden. In my reading, I think the best place is unfortunately, the exact place I planted my new lilac bushes. So, I'm going to need to look into replanting those somewhere else.
We also need to determine what we want to plant to determine how much space we will need. I think through the vegetables we eat and I would love to grow tomatoes. The taste of a homegrown tomato can NOT be beat! In fact, I don't think a store bought tomato has much taste in the first place! So, that's a must. But, I also want our garden to be successful, so I want to choose the easiest plants to grow as well. I also want to consider the "dirty dozen" of pesticides and see which ones fit the easiest plant list as well. And then there's the factor of what vegetables we like to eat. That's kinda important too! There is a lot to consider!
Nate and I have talked about actually tilling the garden space this fall so that come spring, we're not doing that on top of planting.
So, first things first!  I need to decide where and how big to prepare for tilling.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Blast From The Past

I decided to make Haitian Rice & Beans yesterday. The problem is, I remember that when we moved back from Haiti we tried to make it a few times and it just never tasted like it did in Haiti. So I scoured the internet for the recipe that had the best reviews from people at least claiming to have some connection to Haiti.  And then I went to work. It was supposed to be for lunch... Lunch came and went with no rice and beans. I did use a wild rice blend instead of plain white rice to up the fiber content some and it was taking forever for the rice to cook! So, we ate some bread and waited.... At 5:00 we ate our "lunch" of diri kole ( that's fancy shmancy Creole for Rice & Beans) and it actually turned out pretty good!  Which is a GOOD thing because we have quite a bit for left overs!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Odds and Ends and the Unexpected

Yesterday was a busy day. I had planned for it to be a fairly calm and restful as we had plans to attend the Lions vs. Patriots game that started ay 8 pm. I had planned to give myself a mani/pedi and to color my hair...That's right, my friends!  It's that time again! I went to Great Clips last week and got my hair cut and then went shopping for the hair color at Meijer. This time I chose Light Reddish Brown. The picture on the box is
I was very relieved that as I was putting the color on my hair it in no way looked purple. It was actually more of a butterscotch color. I dutifully kept it on for the full 30 minutes to cover those pesky gray hairs I have and then took the advice of someone from the last coloring experience and rinsed my hair until the shower water turned cold (well, not quite, but it seemed like I rinsed for a LONG time), then I washed and conditioned my hair as instructed and was excited to see the gorgeous results. Sometimes I'm too optimistic for my own good.  When will I finally say, "you know what? This coloring your own hair is for the birds!  Call Pam and have her do it again!" I dried my hair and noticed that while drying it wasn't showing much red. When I finished, I guess to look on the bright side, my hair is not purple. On the negative side, there is no "Light Reddish" about it...it's brown. Brown, brown, brown. Plain brown. To further show my Pollyana side, when I went to Meijer I saw that the hair color was buy one get one free. Can you believe it?  I got two hair color kits for $3.94. That means I can color my hair for two months for $3.94. Think of the money I'm saving!  The problem is, I don't like the color.  So, I'm out to find another color that works. Stay tuned for next month's hair coloring extravaganza!

Yesterday I also made the granola bars I mentioned in my previous post. They didn't turn out too badly. They taste like bird seed that's been packed together with honey. I had used the steel cut oats, as was suggested for granola bars, so I think that's what gave it the bird seed texture. They are also a tad on the crumbly side. Nate, being the giving person he is, is encouraging me to give them away to the friends ...isn't he so generous?! I told him I didn't want him to miss out on the opportunity to eat them. He then began choking on a seed, or an oat, that got lodged in his throat. If I come home one day and they have mysteriously disappeared I'll know who to question!


On the unexpected side of things, as Lucy and I were beginning our bedtime ritual, I was reading and she was chewing on the remains of her stuffed animal...or so I thought. Nate came up and joined us and all of sudden exclaimed over what Lucy had done. For a bit of background, we have not bought her any more stuffed animals because within minutes, she has destroyed them and removed all the stuffing leaving it all over the floor for us to pick up. This is not a game that I wish to play, so we just have not replaced her destroyed stuffed animals with new ones. However, the one thing we hadn't thought of was her finding her own replacement: our comforter.



The first picture shows the corner that she has eaten (the missing fabric has not yet been found...it may take a few days to get through her system...) compared to what the corner should look like. the second is just a close up of the corner she ate. she had also removed quite a bit of stuffing and it was all over the floor. I now have to sew the comforter up and pay more attention to what she's chewing on!  We made a decision right then and there that we are throwing out all stuffed animal remains that we've allowed her to keep. She is only allowed rubber toys from this point forward.

So, just another quiet Saturday in our house!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Michigan Musings

Since moving to Michigan 4 years ago I believe that I have finally adjusted to the weather, for the most part (you will probably need to remind me of that mid January). But the weather is not the only thing that sets Michigan apart from all other states that I have lived in. One of the major things I had to adjust to was how different it is to drive here. You would think that most states have fairly similar rules when it comes to speed limit, the signage that is used, etc.  But there are things that happen on the roads here that I think are ludicrous.
1.  The "Michigan Left"
The Michigan Left has nothing to do with turning left. Well, you want to turn left, but it isn't allowed. They claim that studies show it's "safer" to do a Michigan Left and yet I beg to differ. It seems absolutely assanine to think it's safer to do a U-Turn into oncoming traffic to be able to turn left. That's what a Michigan Left is. You approach the intersection and you want to turn left. However, you clearly see that there is no turn lane, there is no left turn light, and there is a sign that clearly says:



What you see instead, is a sign that says "Westbound Eisenhower" and points to the right. You can see from your trusty car compass that turning right will definitely take you East, but you obey and quickly move over two lanes to get into the right turn lane. You turn right and about 200 yards ahead you see another sign "Westbound Eisenhower" and it takes you into a left turn lane that puts you into the que to do a U-Turn. You fenagle a U-Turn with traffic barreling down on you to end up back at the same light you were 1 minute before waiting at a red light to go straight. It's insane. I don't understand it. No other state does this, or at least, no other state that I'm aware of and it is known as "A Michigan Left."
2.  Speed Limits are Merely Suggestions
With Michigan being the only state in the Union to lose population according to Census 2010, We are hurting for money. The economic downturn has hit us very hard and it's turned more into a recession/depression for the state vs just a "downturn." So, state services have been cut left & right, which means that the number of police officers on the roads has dropped considerably. The speed limit is 70 in the state, but if you are going 70, you feel as if you are sitting still because cars whiz past you on both sides...in fact, one time, we were passed on the shoulder, as there was no free lane available for the person to pass us and all the other cars in front of us. When we first moved here, I refused to drive on I-94 because I feared for my life. I would literally have anxiety attacks if I knew we were going to drive on the interstate because it was scary. My sister came to visit in November (we had moved in August) and I was trying to figure out a way to the airport that did not involve getting on the interstate. I sucked it up and drove on the highway anyway and that was when I became a Michigan driver. For your safety, you can't drive 70, or God forbid, a little under 70 and be safe. You must drive over the speed limit as fast as you can.
3. Tailgating
This is what makes #2, in my opinion, so dangerous. People here don't just drive 80-90 miles an hour on a regular basis, but they do it while they are sucking up the fumes from the car in front of them. I have been driving at times and literally cannot tell what kind of vehicle is behind me because all I can see is the chrome grill of their hood in my rear view mirror. It's not like I'm in the "fast lane" and driving 15 miles below the speed limit with no one else around me and he's trying to "encourage" me to move over. I'm normally following a car, who is following another car, and we have cars on all sides of us. And this vehicle is stuck to my bumper. It happens so often here, that it is common place and this is when I start to have a minor hyperventilation episode because if I even have to touch my brakes, I know that guy is going to be sitting in my backseat. So, I get over as soon as possible so he can zoom up and do his same tactics on the next car. Unfortunately this sort of bully tactic is not only found in Michigan, but I can safely say I have never seen it used more than here. When I lived in Charlotte, you'd have the occasional dorkus that drove this way and you'd grumble at him and get out of his way and move on with the rest of traffic. But when you are dealing with the majority of drivers doing this, it can lead to some serious problems.
4. No Inspections
That's right! Thee are no car inspections required in the state of Michigan. That means that you can drive with your car duck taped together and if it runs and will actually move down the road, Go For It!  I don't know if it's the car manufacturer lobby at the state level, but I think it's absolutely ludicrous for the state that Henry Ford called home to allow these cars that are destroying our ozone and dropping parts as they drive. It makes #2 and #3 on this list even more dangerous as these cars literally are held together with ropes and wires and duck tape.
5. Road Conditions
A. As mentioned in #2, there is no money in the state. So, repair work on roads is non-existent. Although I think they have used a ton of money to buy orange barrels and they just put them near dangerous spots in the road. A pot hole in Michigan is not a small eroded part of the road that makes the road a little rough. That doesn't qualify as a "pot hole." What qualifies as a pot hole here is basically something that can ruin your car. they actually have a segment on the news that discusses where the worst pot holes are located and routes to take to avoid them. I describe some roads as the "moon's surface" because of the craters you need to drive over and through to get to your destination. 
B. The other part of having no money in the state is that there isn't enough money to treat the roads when winter whether hits. they have to prioritize and hold back whenever possible. So, driving in the winter time can be quite treacherous depending on if the state has determined the conditions are bad enough to treat the roads or not.

So, as I continue to try to understand some of the thought processes that govern my new state, I'm going to try to remain calm and get out of the way!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Song I Woke Up To This Morning

The title makes it seem like my alarm plays music. That isn't so....It's an annoying beeping noise that I can't turn off fast enough. But this morning, under the beeping, this song was playing in my heart. I got up, went to the shower, and started singing it...(sorry if I woke you up,Nate). And I don't know if anyone else needs to hear it or not, but I thought I'd share it as an added post.

Real Food aka: I Have Become My Mother

Have you read any of these books by Michael Pollan:  The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, Food Rules?  Have you seen the movies Food, Inc, King Corn or Fastfood Nation?  If you can answer "yes" to all of these, then you are in the same boat I am!  I have read & watched it all. The thing is, living it is very different and difficult.  And I promise, I try!  I have tried to only buy locally raised, grass fed, organic meat. I have tried to use only real food with little to no processing involved. And what gets me EVERY time is how expensive it is. I don't mind the work. In fact, I love to cook. I love to bake. That is not a deterrent for me, but the cost. Oy!  I'll try it for a week or two or even a month and Nate will look at me after working on the budget and say, "um.... do you know that the groceries ran us 200% over budget this month?" And I commit to cutting back and the only way I have found to cut back, is to go back to my ignorant way of preparing food. So, I was excited to come across Lisa Leake from Charlotte, NC . She and her husband committed to eating real food on a budget of $125 for the week for her family of four. I frankly don't know how she did it, but I look forward to delving more into this blog and finding out more!  I already found a couple of recipes I want to try out on Nate, so I hope he's ready!  I made the cheese crackers that are supposed to taste like Pepperidge Farms Goldfish. This is what they looked like: (as you can see, when you compare it to the original recipe, I did sprinkle with a little sea salt while they baked). 



One of the things this blog really excited in me is a desire to have my own garden. Now I know that my parents are shaking their heads and chuckling (more like a maniacal chuckle than a happy chuckle, I'm sure) because they are remembering our gargantuan garden and how I basically had to be threatened with loss of life and/or limb to even go work in the garden. I remember my mom handing me a brown paper bag (one of the big ones from the grocery store) and saying, "go pick green beans."  I'd go (um...this would be after whining, possibly kicking, a bit of screaming, as well) and come back with the bag 1/4 full. When I used the word gargantuan earlier to describe the garden? That was NOT hyperbole. You can ask my siblings....you can even ask my parents. The garden was huge. And filling the huge paper bag 1/4 full was a sign that I went and picked the top green bean off of every plant instead of actually lifting the leaves and looking everywhere on the plant for all green beans that could be picked. I would be sent back out to "fill the bag." But what will cause a loud enough groan to be heard from Charlotte, NC all the way to my home in Ann Arbor is the fact that Nate and I are considering also canning and freezing what we grow in our garden to keep us with veggies throughout the winter as well. There's a lifelong learning class being held at our local community college called "Canning Basics."   I'm thinking about taking that class! I had always said, while watching my mother can and freeze and garden all summer that I would never do these things. Now, here I am, looking up books, thinking of taking a class, and plotting the best place in my backyard for a garden. This should be an interesting adventure!

Update:  Nate didn't like the "cheesy crackers" that looked more like snickerdoodles. Correction.... he HATED them. He took two (being the ever optimistic  and hopeful taste tester).  He ate one of them and put the other one back and said, "These are kinda gross." I suggested that I make them thinner and less cookie like.  He said, "Nope!  Wouldn't help!"  hmmmm... does that deter the wife? NO!  Next recipe here I come! Oh, and mom?  Can I have all your old canning stuff?