Friday, January 27, 2012

Pachyderms, Leaks, and R.O.U.S.'s

I need a moment to bitch.

I am so effing tired of living in apartments.  I am tired of poor quality buildings in which every noise can be heard.  I am tired of inconsiderate neighbors who don’t give a rat’s ass about their stomping and banging at all hours of the day and night.  I am tired of giant unknown critters living in my ceiling, banging about on the pipes and scratching at my ceiling.  I am tired of being tired because I can’t sleep at night, thanks to the pack of pachyderms living upstairs and the R.O.U.S.

I’m also irritated with the apartment complex staff for sending me a lovely warning notice stating that I have three days to remove the non-patio furniture from my patio.  Apparently, using a shelf to display my plants is considered non-patio furniture.  This is apparently much higher on the priority list for them than noise complaints and critters  And I’m paying close to a grand a month for what now?

[Big exhale]

Thank you for allowing me that.  As you can see, things have been pretty frustrating the last few days.  The people who moved in above us are a family of five, and they don’t speak English at all, so trying to ask them to soften their footsteps is nigh to impossible. All of the stomping has been setting my teeth on edge and I’m getting really tired of having this conversation:

[Thumping upstairs]
Billa: Mommy, what dat noisy?
Me: It’s the people upstairs, honey.

One to five minutes later...
[Thumping upstairs]
Billa: Mommy, what dat noisy?
Me: It’s the people upstairs, honey.

One to five minutes later...
[Thumping upstairs]
Billa: Mommy, what dat noisy?
Me: [gritting teeth] What do you think it is, sweetheart?
Billa: [shrugs] I not know.
Me: [jumps out of window screaming]

Yes, this happens on a regular reoccurring basis, at least 30 times a day (sans the window jumping, of course).  I know I am prone to exaggeration, but when my guests comment on how the walls are shaking and look at me in wide-eyed wonder like I’m a martyr, I ain’t telling tall tales people.  This shit is for real. And I’ve just about had it!

The R.O.U.S. was one thing.  Annoying yes, but at least it didn’t keep us all up at odd hours of the night.  And an R.O.U.S. can easily be removed and destroyed if need be.  Evicting an entire family solely on the basis that they are noisy and rude is not legal.  It's been done, but I'm not that cold-hearted.

Oh! and don’t get me started on the leak in Billa’s bathroom.  Y’know, the one we didn’t discover until our new neighbors moved in a couple of days ago.  Since they’ve moved in and have been using the shower that sits above Billa’s bathroom, a massive leak has been discovered. I’m talking at least a gallon of water on the floor and dripping into the tub from a 5 minute shower upstairs.  The soffit is so soft that Michael accidentally pushed his finger through it when he barely touched it.  The floorboards are soaked and soggy as well.  AWESOME.

I really like this community.  I really want to.  But between the awful animal smell when we moved in (which now I wonder if it's from the R.O.U.S. and not the previous tenant's dog), the broken oven, the noisy neighbors, the R.O.U.S., being reprimanded for my plant stand, and the horrendous leak in the second bathroom, I have just about had all I can take.  And we’re barely into the second month of living there, y’all.  I have never wanted a house so badly in my life.  If this is the Big Man’s way of motivating us towards that goal, He doesn’t need to tell me twice!

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it,


Monday, January 23, 2012

Sayonara Bacon!

Tonight, I said adieu to bacon.

I finished reading Rip Esselstyn's book, The Engine 2 Diet, this weekend and we have decided to go on the diet for the next month.  That means no dairy, no oils, no sweets and no meats.  Especially bacon!  But since we don't like to encourage wastfulness around here we decided to fry up the last of the bacon and make some gingerbread pancakes as a last hurrah and send off to our old eating habits.  I was trying to be all sneaky like about it, but as if it sensed it's own impending doom (because eating it is not doom enough,) every piece came out perfectly crispy and chewy, with no burnt edges, just the way I like it.

Little bastards.

But no more!

We've already been increasing our fruit and veg intake over the last week, and cutting out some of our dairy.  I haven't had milk or eggs in a week (save for the lone egg that was in the pancakes tonight), and we switched out our usual dairy creamer for a soy one over the weekend.  It's pretty tasty actually, and so is almond milk.  Cheese has been a little bit harder.  I totally bought a wedge of Manchego cheese just before I read the book, and we had a bunch of cheese sticks and sliced Muenster hanging around here too.  And I admit, i bought a small container of feta because while I don't mind veggies on my pizza, I can't stand the thought of not having some semblance of cheese on top of it.  But once it's gone, that's it!  No more!

I'm really grateful to my mother in law for taking Billa on Saturday, because it meant I could spend four hours grocery shopping at the farmer's market, Sprouts, and HEB.  I normally don't take that long, and certainly won't in the future, but it gave me the time to get better acquainted with the layouts of my stores and read labels on a bunch of stuff.  It was super weird checking out without dairy, meat, and especially eggs in my cart.  It was even weirder taking the groceries inside and realizing I don't have to worry about not smashing the eggs anymore!

This week, our menu is going to include a potato leek soup, pasta primavera, a wild rice pilaf, black bean tacos (a regular fave in this, easy, and super yummy!), and veggie pizza.  Lunches will be finishing off the leftovers from these tasty meals, but also hummus and pita with veggies and salads.  Breakfast is pretty much the same-ol'-same-ol' of cereal or oatmeal, but adding in fruit.  Dessert has been changed to fruit, and most of our snacks have been too.  I've been buying chips from the Food Should Taste Good brand (soooo addicting!) and stocking up on whole grain pretzels and crackers as we run out of the old not-so-good-for-you snacks.  I'm looking forward to this week's meal plan!

The biggest challenge thus far is Sybilla.  Michael and I have been fairly easy to convince that this is the way to go, but Billa ain't having anything to do with it!  She's been good about eating a lot of fruit and I've successfully added carrot juice to her OJ and other juices, and maybe just possibly convinced her that chocolate soy milk is super yummy, but she's such a picky eater already that it's been frustrating.  We keep telling her that the rule is you have to try one bite and that sometimes helps, although tempers have flared mightily over that one bite on more than one occasion.  I think it will get easier over time as we keep giving her the same foods and show her what we're eating, as well as having her help cook, but only time will tell!

Oh bacon, I would say 'it's not you, it's me', but the truth is, it is you.  You and all your fatty salty goodness.  You're breaking my heart, quite literally.  It's time you packed your bags and moved out.  Goodbye, sweet bacon!  Hellooooo, plant-based diet!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hello bloggy world, and Happy New Year!

It’s been awhile since we’ve chatted.  A lot has happened since then! We moved to a new apartment, Michael’s sister Michelle got married, and we made it through the holiday season in one piece. Phew!

The dust has been settling slowly but surely, and these are the things on my horizon:

Resolutions – I’ve refrained from making an actual list this year, but my tradition of keeping a theme for the year has not changed.  After hearing the same phrase pop up a few times on different occasions at church, I’ve decided the phrase “be faithful in the little things” is my theme for this year.  It comes from Matthew 23:25 and Luke 16:10 and I think it’s a really powerful phrase to hold close to my heart.  I think it’s God’s way of telling me that I need to slow down and pay attention to everything around me.  I have a tendency to rush things to get to the end result faster, sometimes cutting corners or people, and while I might get what I was looking for, I find myself dissatisfied because I didn't truly enjoy the journey and the experience.  I know this isn’t necessarily the original intent of that scripture passage, but God speaks to each of us in His own way.  And for me, I feel that I need to slow down and be faithful in the little things this year.

Esme Barrera & Ben Breedlove – if you’re not from Austin, you may not know who either of these people are, but they are extraordinary nonetheless.  Ben passed away from a chronic heart ailment at the age of 18 on Christmas Day.  He left behind an incredible YouTube video about his near death experiences that inspired a lot of people and touched a lot of hearts (the link above takes you to Part 1 of his video, which will then direct you to Part 2 when you're ready).  Esme Barrera was brutally murdered in her home on NYE and her death has rocked the live music and arts communities here in Austin.  She was virtually unknown to the rest of the world, but her kindness, generosity, passion for music and helping others (particularly kids), along with her cheerfulness are all anyone can talk about.  An article in the local paper moved me so much, I pasted it on my wall in my cubicle as a reminder of the kind of person I want to be like.  Hearing the stories of these two remarkable young people has left me humbled and inspired.

Forks Over Knives – Michael and I watched this documentary the other night.  We’ve been meaning to eat healthier for a long time, but after seeing the documentary and doing some subsequent research, changing our eating habits is long overdue.  My biggest challenges will be ditching the bacon, cheese, and sugary treats, but the possible benefits of a whole foods plant based diet are really motivating.  If it can reverse diabetes and heart disease, why not asthma, allergies, and chronic anxiety (my triple A’s!)?

Babies – after seeing so many babies over the holiday season, both Michael and I were hit by baby fever HARD.  We’ve decided that we’re going to go ahead and start trying for baby #2 this year.  This time though, we’re not going to stress about it like we did with Sybilla. If the Big Man Upstairs decides to grant us another child in our life, we will accept that blessing according to His schedule.  If it’s meant to be, it will be. And if it's not, we're ok with that too.

Financial Peace University – our church is starting off the year with a great series about finances, and they’re starting FPU classes. Michael and I have waffled on it before, but this time, we are
absolutely certain we want to do it.  We’re tired of feeling like we can’t really live our lives because of our finances.  It makes me cringe when I think about how we've treated our money in the past.  It makes my brain hurt to even think about changing the way I view money (much less actually change that viewpoint), but when I think about continuing to live my life the way we have, it makes me sad and miserable.  I’d rather buckle down for one year of my life and enjoy the years after that than live all of my life in misery.

Writing – I’ve been putting off a lot of my writing the last few months because of work, moving, the wedding, etc, etc, etc.  I threw myself a huge pity party and woke up the next morning with a mental hangover.  As I sat there kicking around the imaginary beer bottles, I decided enough was enough and vowed that 2012 is the year that I’m dumping my inner critic and telling her to piss off.  I’m going to get published, y’all.  I don’t know when, I don’t know how. But it’s gonna happen.  I guarantee it.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Happy (belated) New Year,


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