Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Ah, Mother’s Day.  That day when mothers everywhere are honored for their uncanny ability to raise small humans, and get to sleep in late, eat breakfast in bed, and proceed to be pampered throughout the day.
Maybe in some other universe.

For me, Mother’s Day consisted of a 5 am wake up call when the five year old decided it was snuggle time.  An hour later, and unable to contain her excitement from snuggling, she was promptly presented with a choice: go back to bed or go watch cartoons.  She chose the latter, natch. 

Ten minutes later, she appeared by my bedside and whispered, “Happy Mudder’s Day, mommy.  I love you.”  This required a kiss and a hug and a sleepy ‘I love you, too.’

Ten minutes after that, she appeared again.  “Happy Mudder’s Day, mommy.  Here’s your card!”  That required me opening said card, oohin and aahing over it, before she departed again with a kiss.

Ten minutes after that: “Happy Mudder’s Day, mommy! Let me know if you need anything!” (I’m good, kiddo!  I promise!)

Ten minutes after that: “Happy Mudder’s Day, mommy!  Here’s a glass of water!”  (I didn’t need it, but thanks anyway!)

Ten minutes after that: “Happy Mudder’s Day, mommy!  I did some mother cleaning!” (WTF is that!?)

Ten minutes after that: “Happy Mudder’s Day, mommy!  Breakfast is ready!  Are you hungry?” (Hungry for some peace and quiet…)

Seriously, Every. Ten. Minutes.  Why can’t the kid be this alert on a school day?!

Eventually, I had no choice left but to crawl out of bed at 8 am and make my way downstairs where my husband had whipped up eggs and bacon and had a cup of coffee waiting for me.  I love that man.

I happened to notice that there was lunchmeat, cheese, and an applesauce on the counter.  After asking my hubby about it, he informed me that when he came downstairs earlier, our daughter was on her hands and knees on the counter, wiping diligently with a cleaning cloth.  She then attempted to use the broom to sweep the kitchen, and then pulled out the lunch fixin’s to make Daddy a lunch for the next day (that explains the "mother cleaning", lol!).

To mommies everywhere, whether you birthed or adopted, your children are big or small, and especially to all the mothers still waiting on that child in their heart to come home, may you have a blessed and beautiful Mother’s Day!  Motherhood, huzzah!


Monday, December 31, 2012

2012, I'm Breaking Up With You

Dear 2012,

The last 366 days have been…interesting.  There were some pretty good moments, and a lot of necessary healing and growth occurred during our time together, but no offense 2012, I’m really hoping that 2013 is less dramatic and painful than you were.
Of course, it’s not to say that our time together was all bad.  There were certainly some wonderful moments peppered in with those less than savory days. 

Our time together saw Michael and I enter the Dirty Thirty Birthday Club.  It also saw us enter some much needed marriage counseling, which has been stellar.  Of course, the events that led us there weren’t so awesome.  Whatevs.  Water under the bridge, right?

This year also ushered in a new phase of our parenting: we have a preschooler now!  Sybilla ADORES school (I will never forget her disappointment that summer couldn’t end fast enough) and is flying through her achievements like nobody’s business.  Our fridge is covered in more art projects than we have magnets for, and we are deluged with constant requests on how to spell various words.  I won’t lie…I am excited to see what 2013 holds in this department!

Additionally, we were finally able to move out of our old ratty apartment, complete with pest infestation, mold problems, and paper thin walls into a two story duplex that meets all of our needs and then some.  Now that I can finally proudly display my grandmother’s china cabinet, I feel so grown up.  And a backyard!  I actually have to maintain it and set my garbage by the curb and everything too!

Lastly, the Mayan calendar ended, but the world did not.  Kinda glad for that, aren’t you?

Our time together wasn’t a total loss.  But events over the last few weeks have made me realize that all good things must come to an end, and it’s time for us to part ways 2012.  I’m sorry that it had to end on a sour note (really, 2012, wrecking my husband’s car three days prior to NYE is not exactly an endearing quality).  Maybe after we’ve spent some time apart and had a chance to be on our own, we’ll be able to look back more fondly and recall the good ol’ days with each other.  I know this is hard for you, especially with 2013 right here, but I think you’ll agree that it’s for the best.  I could try and tell you that it’s me, not you, but that would be a lie, and I still have some respect for you.

If it makes you feel any better, I’m not making any resolutions for 2013.  I can’t imagine making them with anyone else right now.  I think after all of them pretty much backfired with you, I’m beginning to think that maybe resolutions just aren’t for me.  I may come out at the end of my time with 2013 and think that otherwise, but only time will tell.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Vegan Wrapup

Well, our month long adventure into veganism is over!  The verdict is in and while we saw some big changes in our health, the energy and money required to go completely is just too much for us. 

Some of the highlights and our takeaways from this adventure:

Health - we definitely saw some improvements in our health.  The biggest change for myself was no longer feeling the afternoon slump once 3 o'clock rolled around.  I'm going to try and not be gross here, but our insides definitely felt cleaner, if you get my drift.  As for my asthma, I didn't notice any improvement at all.  In fact, I found myself using my emergency inhaler more frequently than I would have liked.  In terms of my anxiety, I really didn't notice a difference, but then again, this was a bit of a stressful month for me at work and at home.  My acne was pretty much gone for the first two weeks, and then I had it flare up really badly.  Whether that was due to fluctuating hormones, a couple of slip ups in the diet department, or other reasons, I do not know.  Lastly, I don't know if the diet made any difference on my immune system.  I got the flu last week, despite eating very healthily and it was AWFUL.  No amount of vitamins or fruits and veggies made me feel any better. 

Money - we did not see any savings in our grocery bill. I would say we actually spent about 15-20% more on our groceries than we were used to.  In an era where everyone is watching every dollar, this is huge for us.  While we will continue to purchase more produce than we normally do and purchase almond milk over cow's milk, I am hoping our grocery bill will even out once again.

Time - the biggest thing for us was the time it took doing all of this.  Because dairy, eggs, meat and chemical preservatives are so pervasive in the food available to the American public, it required more time for us to plan our meals and purchase better quality food.  I am a busy woman.  I work 45-50 hours a week and I'm sorry, but my time is precious.  I don't want to spend two to three hours at grocery stores (yes, plural) every week trying to get the best deal or find the needed ingredient for my meals.  Plus, many of our normal go-to meals were automatically out the window (you try substituting cream of mushroom soup in a's just not possible) which required a lot of brainpower we simply didn't have to plan our meals.  As the main breadwinner, chef, and homemaker in the family, I felt that all of the planning fell on my shoulders and I was too exhausted most days or too brain dead from work to really do it efficiently, which cost us more money and led to poor diet choices.

Attitude - the general attitude of this household was not a positive one while we did this.  By the end of the month, we were not a happy group.  I think a lot of it may be due to the feeling of deprivation; we couldn't eat many of the things we normally did and liked.  Emotional eaters are us!  Also, it was incredibly difficult to get Billa on board and get her to eat anything we were eating.  And admittedly, there were a lot of things we tried that I just couldn't handle, let alone my child (mushrooms or eggplant).  Michael will eat just about anything put in front of him, so his opinion is a little biased if you ask me.  The lack of variety and feeling bored with our food choices also contributed to a poor attitude.  We felt trapped a lot.  We paid good money for this, so we have to eat it.  And when we weren't at home, it was worse; finding vegan options that are cheap and fast is nigh to impossible, even in a vegan friendly city like Austin.  And because we were bored with our food choices, more often than not, it lead to us not eating at all and getting snappish because we were hungry.

Milk - the one plus to this whole thing was our discovery of almond milk!  We LOVE the stuff!  It's slightly sweet, and it's wonderful in cereal or in baked goods.  Plus, the chocolate almond milk is a dessert in and of itself.  The biggest thing I noticed was how my body reacted to cow's milk after doing no dairy for an entire month; I think I am definitely allergic to cow's milk.  We had hoped to wean Billa off of it to see whether it affected her allergies, but that was not as easy as we had hoped.  It was fine for us at home, but everywhere else, cow's milk abounded.  Plus, with everyone getting sick in the last week of the diet, there's really no way to tell if cutting cow's milk for her made a difference or not.  I think we will keep trying and see what happens.  But we won't be buying regular milk anymore, which was the easiest change for us by far.  I think we will still eat cheese and some other dairy products, but in very, very small quantities.

Hummus - this wonderful spread has become our best friend.  Billa even likes it, which is a freaking miracle in and of itself.  We ate it a lot before the diet, but it's an item we are now purchasing every week in mass quantity.  I tried making some myself which was yummy and had a slightly different texture, but the cost of making it was more than just buying it, so I'll skip the process and save myself some time. Huzzah for hummus!

Weight - another big plus to this diet was that I found myself eating less, eating more healthy options, and consequently, I lost seven pounds and 2% body fat.  I'd like to lose more body fat, and maybe a couple more pounds, but for that to happen I'm going to have suck it up and embrace cardio.  Blech.  But losing seven pounds was nice!

Overall,  the consensus is that being vegan is just not a lifestyle that was a good fit for us.   I found myself missing and craving a lot of things I really love, like cheese, bacon, hot wings, and other not so good for you treats.  I stayed pretty strong in avoiding most of them, but the emotional ties to those foods are really hard to break.  I can see myself consuming them in moderation now, but giving them up entirely was just too much for me.   The time required to make the diet work is staggering and I just do not possess enough hours in the day to do it, plus getting Michael or Billa to contribute to the planning was an argument I just don't want to fight anymore.  The money was also a big factor.

However, we will be keeping some behaviors from this.  We won't be drinking cow's milk, and we will be reducing the amount of dairy products we consume.  We will be eating more fruits and veggies and whole grain dishes.  We will also be cutting back significantly on the amount of meat we eat, probably eating no more than two to three meals per week with meat, and making those lean.  We are also going to eat out less, because we noticed that when we did, our bodies were very violent with us afterwards.  we could see ourselves being vegetarians, but not vegans.  Still, it was a worthwhile experience and I highly recommend that everyone at least give it a go once in their life.

So there you have it!  That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.


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!



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