Friday, June 15, 2012

When I was a kid I always shared a room with one of my sisters. That is the middle child’s lot in life. I remember moments when I wanted my own room. One time I attempted to move my bedtime stuff in the hall closet. I wedged my pillows, blankets and dolls in between the vacuum and the carpet cleaner and lay down for about 10 minutes before I got scared of spiders and climbed out. Another time I tried to convince my parents that I should move in to the storage room. There was already an old mattress in there, we just had to rearrange a little bit. But aside from those few moments I actually really loved sharing a room with my sisters. Annie, my older sister, was my main roommate. We had two twin beds that we would push together so that we could sleep back to back. We both had a fear of being on the floor when the door to the bedroom closed so we would slam the door and run as fast as we could across the room and dive in to the bed before the door closed and darkness filled the room and the scary things happening under our beds could get to our little feet. Annie would turn on our clock radio and we’d take turns scratching each others backs, legs, arms, feet, etc., one song per body part/person. Then we would lay down and Annie would talk. She would tell me, I’ll just talk for a while and you can go to sleep. She had stuff to get off her chest and didn’t care if her audience was awake or asleep. It’s ruined me with my husband who reminds me whenever I attempt to chit-chat before bed that ‘This isn’t a slumber party’. Annie and I had our own “language”. After getting in trouble multiple times for talking in bed we developed a system of snaps that would tell the other one what we had in mind. One snap: Lets lay back to back. Two snaps: Can I put my leg over you? Three snaps: Do you want to talk? Four snaps: I think I hear Mom. Once a week Wade plays music. He isn’t out late but he’s gone during the key bedtime moments and Henry has discovered that if Papa, his primary bedtime-putter-downer is gone, he can sneak out of bed and in to my room, where I am putting the baby down, without getting in trouble. Georgia likes to lay down with me and nurse and I always fall asleep putting her to sleep. Henry sneaks in to bed with his pillows, slides under the blanket and boom, he gets to sleep with Mama and she doesn’t even realize it until 2 am when the baby wakes up and she has a size 13 foot on her head and no blankets. I’ll be honest, it used to annoy me. I’d scoop Henry up and schlep him back to his own bed while the baby fussed in the other room. But I’ve recently had a change of heart and decided that once a week Henry gets to sleep with Mama. Since Wade is gone for some of the bedtime routine, I get to do the things with Henry that I used to do pre-baby, that were part of our routine and no big deal, but now that I do them once a week seem extra special. Like washing him off in the shower. Sure he can wash himself, that is if you want a little boy that smells exactly the same as he did before he got in the shower, water all over the floor and a half dozen strange concoctions made out of a mixture of soaps, lotions, shampoos and conditioners scattered around the shower. So we let him wash down first and then we go in for the extra scrub down. It used to drive me crazy to have to do this. Water would splash all over my arms and on the walls of the bathroom. Henry was squirmy and washing his hair was always a fight. But last night as I scrubbed him down I realized the beauty in it. As a parent, if you stop and think about what you’re doing and realize that none of it is permanent, you understand how important it is to be present in the moment. When I get frustrated with Henry sneaking in to the bed, I think to myself “When he’s 14 he won’t want to have anything to do with snuggling with Mama.” As I washed him last night I couldn’t believe how big my little boy has gotten. His long legs, covered with mosquito bites and scars and bruises from playing just a little too rough, fill the tub. His feet and hands have calluses. His hair is thick and rough, not fine and soft like it was when he was a baby. I wash his face and attempt count his freckles, we used to name each freckle, now there is more than I can count. His eyebrows have started filling in, just like his Papa’s. I’m struck by the rawness of the moment. He is utterly unselfconscious as he sits, naked, in the tub in front of me. I turn the shower off and he leans back in the water as it flows from the faucet. I turn the heat up and put my hand under the faucet and direct the water on to his back. Tiny goose bumps spread from his neck down his arms. He shivers and tells me how good it feels. I close my eyes and try to burn the moment in to my memory. The smell of clean, the sound of the water, the feeling of my little boy leaning on my hand, warm and relaxed. I love being his Mom. For some reason Henry always wants a hug as soon as he climbs out of the shower. I have to speed dry him as he leans in, in order to keep from having a soaking wet kid climbing up on my lap. I can never get him completely dry before he curls up on me. He barely fits on my lap these days. After the hug I finish drying him off, put on his PJ’s (underwear is his chosen bedtime apparel these days) and brush his teeth. His top tooth is wiggly. I have one child that is losing his teeth and one child that has her first tooth just breaking the surface. I love the age difference. Georgia is a wonderful reminder to me of Henry as a baby. She reminds me how quickly time passes. How much I need to slow down and enjoy the moments with him. She reminds me of how much he has changed. Her soft, brown baby hair reminds me of his soft, blond baby curls. Her sweet milk breath brings back memories of quietly nursing him in his tiny bedroom in our downtown apartment. He was such a gentle nurser. Only bit me once (I wish I could say the same about his little sister). Her noises are just like his used to be. Noises I would have surely forgotten if she wasn’t here. And he is a wonderful reminder to me to slow down with her. To give her an extra snuggle before I put her to bed at night, even if I’m tired and my back hurts. I will only be able to hold her like this for a few more months. It’s only a matter of time before I am washing her calloused feet in the bathtub. Last night, after Henry was dressed and brushed, he climbed in to bed with me. The baby was in her crib and I was absolutely exhausted…totally okay with going to bed at 8:30…so I curled up next to Henry. He said, “Mama give me your arm and I’ll massage it.” I gave him my arm and he scratched and tickled it just like Annie and I used to do. Then it was my turn. I scratched and tickled his arm and listened to him talk to me about how he felt during the day. I was getting sleepy but it was time to do the other arm, so we switched. Henry kept talking. My eyes could barely stay open but I am certain that I was smiling. After a few minutes he threw a leg over me and said, “Mama, will you sing me a song?” I sang You Are My Sunshine, our lullaby of choice, only with new, not sad lyrics. You are my Sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll always know, dear, how much I love you, because I’ll show you every day. The other night dear, while I was sleeping, I dreamt I held you in my arms, and when I woke up, I was so happy, cuz you were right there by my side. You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll always know, dear, how much I love, because I’ll tell you every day. In the morning and in the evening, the afternoon and the night time too. Your love just lights up, my every moment and the sun comes shining through. You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll always know, dear, how much I love you, because I’ll show you every day.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


When I graduated from KU in the fall of 2010 I thought, “Whew, what a relief. Now I can relax. I can keep my house clean and read the books and documentaries that I check out from the library and never get to (and inevitability forget about and end up paying fines for).” I signed up for a water zumba class and took an afternoon knitting course at the local yarn store. By February of 2011 I felt myself getting antsy. Sure I was reading more and water zumba was fun but something was missing. Then one day I was talking to Wade, who was also filling antsy, and he said, “I’m a guy. Guys need projects. Why do you think men tinker in the garage and watch sports? We need something that we are working on.” I thought about Wade. The times that he is the most content in our family life are the times when he is working on something. When he built Henry’s tree house he spent days in the yard, sweating and obviously feeling very invigorated by the project at hand. When he put the screen door up he actually called me at work to tell me about it and when I walked in the door that evening he led me over to the door, waiting for praise for a job well-done. A light blub went on; I looked back over the course of our relationship….duh. He is always happier when he is working on something. My own need for projects wasn’t as clear to me at that time. I really thought that keeping up the house and socializing with friends, things that I had to let go when I was working 50 hours and week and taking 3 classes, would be fulfilling and that what I was really missing my life were those extra hours of relaxation.

Then my biggest project came. Well, my second biggest project. I was feeling sick for weeks and started to think that something was wrong with me. A thought occurred to me, wait, when was my last period? Uh-oh. Sure enough, that March we discovered that Baby #2 was on her way. Actually, I wouldn’t call being pregnant with Pippy a project. Although it was very time consuming. Being pregnant the second time around was more a lesson in survival. A 5 year old boy is a lot to deal with. They are so full of energy that heat actually radiates off of them. And being sick 24 hours a day and feeling so tired that I could actually fall asleep standing up, that made matching his energy impossible. My goal was simply to stay awake enough to make sure that he didn’t hurt himself. One day I was just sitting on the couch watching him build legos and then next thing I knew I woke up and the neighbors kids where playing in his room. How did that happen? It was not my greatest moment as a parent. I was barely keeping my head above water. By the summer I was feeling less sick and maybe slightly less tired. I still couldn’t come close to keeping up with him but at least I wasn’t sleeping through the doorbell ringing and 3 children playing right in front of me. I relied a lot on the computer during that time. I’m not proud of it. I would lie on the floor in front of the door in the computer room and he would play games. That way if he got up to leave the room it would wake me up. “I just need a 10 minute nap and then I’ll feel normal again.” I would tell myself. “Wade will be home at 6 and then I can make dinner, I’ll feel better after I get some food in my belly.” I didn’t feel better and a 10 minute nap didn’t make even the slightest difference (who am I kidding; most naps were at least 45 minutes).

Speed ahead to November 2011. Pippy is almost here. I am spending all my time setting up her room, researching natural childbirth, trying to come up with a plan for what to do with Henry if my Mom is out of town when she’s born, organizing whatever I can organize while sitting down, cleaning what I can clean that doesn’t require bending over (not much, by the way) and feeling guilty for not having a clean enough house or enough food stored up in the freezer for after she arrives. I figured that by the time I hit that third trimester I would be on a roll. Less sleepy and better able to get my life organized for her arrival. Didn’t happen. It was almost a year of my life that I spent in a fog, feeling sick and barely awake. Honestly, I’m glad we all survived. I can’t believe I didn’t give someone food poisoning or wreck the car.

Pippy arrived and I felt better about 15 minutes after that last push. It’s hard to believe but I actually had more energy after labor then I did before. I stayed up until 3 am the night she was born (she was born at 9 pm). My hips no longer hurt. My feet didn’t feel like sticks of butter anymore. The back pain was gone. I felt great. The nurses would come in over the next 2 days and try to push meds on me and I would say, “Seriously, I haven’t felt this good in months. I don’t need anything. But where were you 2 weeks ago when I had to use a hanger to put on my socks?” Henry’s birthday came a week after she was born. I was frantically trying to plan something. We ended up having a small family gathering. Henry didn’t seem to mind that we didn’t have a friend party. What a relief. I told myself I would really do it up for him next year. Next came Christmas. I clamored to find gifts for him and racked my brain for ideas of what to give my family with no money (hospital bills and no maternity pay at my work) and no time to make anything. We put the tree up one week before Christmas. I didn’t put up any other decorations. I told myself it was good enough but the guilt was building up. I know the importance of rituals for children. He is finally old enough to remember and these are the memories that I am creating for him. First the months of computer, then I slacked on his birthday and now Christmas is half-ass. What kind of a mother am I?

It’s two months later. Henry is still playing too much computer. And by too much I mean about an hour a day. I hate it. I didn’t take my own parenting advice that I give other new moms- don’t do anything that you are not prepared and willing to do 100 more times. It’s true. He expects to play the computer every day now. He prefers it to other activities. I also feel the distance between us. We did what I think a lot of people do when the new baby comes; dad fills in with the big kids while mom handles the baby. It seems good in theory but what happens to the bonds with the older kids? I missed being with Henry. Even if it was just to lie in the doorway and listen to him build a new city on Now when he comes to talk to me I am often half distracted with the baby. I find myself saying, “We’ll do that in a minute.” And then the minute never arrives. He doesn’t complain but I can feel the separation between us. He still asks to lay down with me and read stories at night, even though it’s only happened three times since she was born. It’s only a matter of time before he forgets that we used to do that. It’s juggling. And the thing is, it’s not that I just feel bad for him, I feel bad for myself too. When I was in school I would put him to bed and then go to the back room to study. I never let schoolwork interfere with our time. Now “our time” doesn’t even exist. I should be glad that Henry and his Papa are so close, and I am, but it feels bad to be replaced and I am not ready to be not needed by my first baby.

Henry’s behavior has changed a little bit since the baby arrived. It’s not dramatic. He hasn’t stopped using the potty and he's no yelling all the time. But I can see a difference. He’s less patient. He complains about always being bossed around. He glares when we ask him to pick up his stuff. He interrupts Wade and I constantly and if he is separated from us, even by just a few feet, he is constantly yelling, “Look at this. Check this out.” He is a fantastic kid. Funny and smart and sensitive and eager to please. I see who he is now and I don’t feel alarmed, but I worry about him slipping. I feel like the bond we have is weaker than it was a year ago. It's not broken but it is stretched. I worry that I won’t see the damage I’ve done until it’s too late.

About a month ago I started feeling antsy again. I panicked. I probably need a project, like Wade said, but I’ve got no time for projects. My house is mess. My bathroom is dirty. Laundry piles are building up and dinners are not as nutritious as they used to be. Maybe I just need to relax more. So I picked up Mindy Kalings book and started reading. I flew through it (so funny) and about half way through I realized my new project. Her book made me realize that being a better parent, figuring out what Henry needs from me right now and building that bond, is my new, very important project. It’s funny; her book is not a parenting book or a book that really has anything to do with childhood. I just read it and thought to myself, “This is a funny, well rounding, ambitious and confident woman. I wish I could interview her parents and find out how they did it.” I think that all the time about certain people that I meet. How did they get here? What did their parents do right? What I was able to pick up from her book was that her parents were strict and had high expectations. I’ve seen that before with other well-rounded children I'd met. I took note.

Then I went to the library and instead of checking out documentaries I would never have time to watch I checked out parenting books. I asked friends for their tips and for books that they liked.

This is what I learned:
-The most important thing you can do is bond with your child. A well bonded child will want to do the right thing. Bond with your child by being near him, expressing interest in what HE is interested in (not you) and find shared interests
-Let him know his significance in your life. Give excessive affection. Henry responds to physical affection. I love you might not mean as much to a little kid (but I tell him it 100 times a day anyway).
-Listen without judgment; be on his side at all times (you can teach later). Your child needs to feel your loyalty. Teaching moments come at other times. Don’t try to teach a child that is upset or angry. Just sympathize and help him find the words to communicate his feelings.
-When your child misbehaves stop to figure out why. Is he tired? Is he eating well? Is he sick? Does he need something from you that you are not giving him? -Fix the problem not the symptom. Focus on understanding what the child was trying to communicate with his behavior, and respond. Be strict about bed times and food, it’s very important.
-Give your child freedom to explore – loads of time outdoors, playing with friends, especially imaginary and creative play. Don’t tell you child how to play.
-Expectations are very important. Expect good manners and pleasant behavior. Catch your child doing the right thing and make a big stink about it. Make sure your child knows what your expectations are and warn them when they are on the wrong path. Be clear about the consequences of their actions. Make the punishment fit the crime.
-Be firm. You’re the boss. Don’t negotiate. Listen. Understand. Stick to your guns. If you’re not sure say, “I’ll think about it” and then come back to it later.
-Focus on rituals and stories.
-Give some of the power back. Let him make choices that don’t affect the big picture. Let him pick his clothes or chose the route to take to the store. Let him pick between healthy options for meals. Give him an allowance to spend how he wants and chores to complete each week.
-Nurture the relationship he has with other adults in his life. The more adults in his life the better.
-Give excessive attention to the big picture – that the child is not an adult; a five-year old is not a 10-year old; a 10 year-old is not a 13-year old; a 13-year old is not an 18-year old.
-Let your child be known. Celebrate his uniqueness and remind him of his importance in your life every chance you get.
-Avoid overly general statements. I’m proud of you doesn’t mean much to a kid. But I’m proud of you when you do ABC does.

So I broke it down in to steps. One item per week. This week it’s bonding. I have to spend time with Henry (and I want to), but it’s hard with the new baby. I will find a way to spend a half an hour with Henry every day doing something that he enjoys. If I have to put the baby in the swing and only get to do it for 10 minute segments, then so be it, but it will be three 10 minute segments everyday. Also, bed time is too important to miss. I will read with him every night and tuck him in. Wade can brush teeth and help him with his shower but I want to be there to tuck my boy in.
I’m excited about this new project. I understand that it is ongoing and that my relationship with Henry will be a life long journey. And I’m thankful for that.

Friday, February 10, 2012


My first real boyfriend in high school was Chris Humberger. Chris was tall, blond and athletic. He had acne and clear braces that made it so he spit when he talked. Chris was a wrestler, which I found totally boring and slightly embarrassing to watch, but apparently he was pretty good at it. (I only went to one of his matches and got so overwhelmed thinking about cauliflower ears and ringworm that I had to leave after the first round). I mostly just went out with him because I needed someone to stand next to at football games. At the time Chris seemed good natured and sincere. We met in Latin class. He was a star student and would raise his hand for to participate in every pronunciation exercise, even though the Latin language actually made him spit more than usual. He was the kind of guy that would spend his lunch hour arguing with the teacher about one missed question on his quiz. While the rest of us were asleep at our desks, Chris was frantically taking notes on the slideshow of vases showing Achilles playing a harp with Apollo. I was impressed with his ambition and figured a guy this smart and concerned about his grades so he must be decent. We started “going out” on a Wednesday. He asked me out half way through Latin class in a note that said, “Will you go out with me?” in Latin. It took me the rest of the class period to decipher it. There was no “going steady” equivalent in the appendix of our Latin textbook. On Friday of that week I stood next to Chris at the football game and felt like a million bucks. I wasn’t part of the popular crowd, per se, but I had a boyfriend and that made it so that I was allowed to stand behind the popular crowd section at the game. I was popular by proxy and having a boyfriend instantly improved my stock. On the walk home from the game Chris took our 3 day relationship to the next level. He stopped midway through the back yard of one of the houses in the neighborhood surrounding the football stadium, grabbed my arm and turned me toward him and, with more confidence then the average 16 year old, he leaned in, said, “I love you” and kissed me. It wasn’t my first kiss, but I’m pretty sure if it was being filmed for a romantic comedy, it would have looked like it. That was the moment that I realized that this guy wasn’t just aggressive when complaining our his grades to our 4 foot tall, 90 lb Latin teacher or when wearing an ill fitted uni-tard on the wrestling mat. What I’m saying is that there was a lot of tongue action people, more than I bargained for and, to be honest, more than I ever wanted to experience again. But I would experience it again and again over the next 2 months.
Like any teenager in the early 90’s, I spent a lot of time on the phone. This was pre-facebook, pre-texting; people had to have actual voice-on-voice conversations. I believe it was even before email…man I’m old. Anyway, the expectation of couples at that time was that they could not get enough phone time. My coupled-girlfriends would meet at my locker before first period with bags under their eyes and drooping looking bangs and sigh, and tell me, “I snuck out of bed at midnight and talked on the phone with Joe until 4 am” or the really lucky girls with their own “teenage” phone line would say, “I stayed up until 3 am talking with Steve about how unappreciated the tailback is on our football team. He really is a key part of the team, Laurie.” “Yes, yes, I know.” I would say, “I’m on the sidelines standing next to MY boyfriend, watching him play, he’s very important.”
Chris and I didn’t have the same phone-time experience that my friends did because, well, he was supremely boring and so, I lied. I lied all the time. After about 15 minutes of stagnant conversation about our Latin teacher or how excited I was for the next football game, I would give my older sister the hand signal and she would yell, “Time to get off the phone.” “My parents are very strict about phone time,” I would tell him, “see you in the morning.” “I love you,” he would say. “Love you too.” I lied again.
My first real makeout session with Chris happened the same night that he told me he loved me. It wasn’t fun. He was pushy and bossy and, I would find out later, blabby to his guy friends about it. Maybe that’s how all 16 year old guys are. But the problem was that my best friend was dating his best friend, so everything he said about me funneled back to me in an embarrassing version of the telephone game. “Chris told Gabe who told me that you have a bra with 4 hooks on it, Laurie.” My friend Megan would tell me. “He was thinking next time you should wear one that’s a little easier for him to get in to.” Ha! Yeah right, like that’s going to happen, I thought. That’s when I invested in my first corset. I could kill a good 15 minutes of our frantic make-out sessions with the 20 hooks on the back of that bad-boy. In his sexist voice Chris would ask me why I on earth I would need to wear such a large bra under my Lions Football t-shirt. It’s for back support, I would tell him, these boobs are heavy. This only intrigued him more.
I broke up with Chris after about two months to go out with a guy that I actually did call at midnight and talk to until 3 am. A guy that I made me laugh. Later, when I would make a list of the things I was “looking for” in a guy, funny would be at the top.
When I think about this “first relationship” experience of mine, what I find the most disturbing isn’t the fact that Chris told me him loved me in order to get a little action. Or that he went after that “action” with the drive of a beagle that just spotted a squirrel; I think that’s probably standard form for 16 year old boys. What bothers me is my role in it. Why did I keep kissing someone that I didn’t want to kiss? Why did I stay on the phone with someone I found so boring (on the plus side I did have lovely toe nails and a very clean bedroom for those two months). Why did I pin myself up in a bra so tight I could barely breath in order to keep his hands off me rather than just telling him that I wasn’t in to it? As and adult I know that I would never tolerate those things, why did I tolerate them as a teenager. And, honestly, these weren’t questions I even asked myself prior to learning that I was going to have a daughter. I’m not naïve, I realize that the there is a strong possibility that G will have her fair share of run-ins with 16 year old boys in her day and what she does is her business. But my hope is that she will have the strength and confidence to say what she needs and wants from the very start. How you do that is beyond me. I’m open to suggestions. Right now I’m just counting on open communication and a very involved Papa.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I'm widdling away at that list of mine. It's about the only thing that I am widdling away at, though. Except for that piece of German Chocolate cake I ate last night...I widdled away at that pretty quickly. Mmmmmm....
Anyway...last night Henry stayed the night at Gigi and Grandpa's house. #19 cha-ching. It was the first time that I have been away from my baby at night. I almost cried as we dropped him off, but I held it together. I haven't gotten a full report on the events of the evening, but I am sure that it went well. Wade and I went on our FIRST DATE IN 4 YEARS. Talk about pressure. We went to our friend Katee's gallery and hung out for a while and then headed to FUD (pronounced food) for a vegan dinner. The fud at FUD is AWESOME. The hour and a half wait is not so awesome. But there is something super fun about eating something you have never eaten before. I had jack fruit tacos. YUMMO. Wade had a BBQ sammie. Both worth the wait. Or maybe we were just so hungry they could have given us anything and we would have thought it was delicious and devoured it. We'll go back again, I'm sure, but next time we'll get there at 4 so we can eat by dinner time. When we got home Wade got me some German Chocolate cake and himself a doughnut. He is a bed time doughnut kinda guy. I fell asleep immediately following "cake time". I think the plate may have still been on my lap. Pathetic.
I'm making a plan for the week. I have so much coming up in the next 3 weeks that I am a bit overwhelmed. I think a plan is necessary. I'm working in working out. But I've decided to not get on the scale anymore. After 3 weeks of exercise and a 3 pound gain I am realizing that the numbers don't mean anything.
Oh, last thing. I applied for graduation this week. It was nerve racking sitting in that chair watching my advisor cross off my classes. My degree requirements were from 1997. He had to doctor the form and write in special notes because some of the classes are not offered anymore. Laugh, go ahead, it's okay. I was. Oh well, just have to pass these last 2 classes and then I'm done!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Week 15

It's week 15. I'm sitting here, about to write a blog post about how I exercised for a week and gained 1.5 lbs, while eating a toasted bagel with cream cheese at 10 pm. But let's just let that go because there is a perfectly good reason that I am eating a bagel at 10 pm. Stress. I am a stress eater. I'm also a feeling sad eater. And a feeling angry eater. I am a bored eater. And, of course, a celebratory eater. Let me just crunch the click click...carry the calculations tell me that the only time I am not eating is when I am sleeping or talking. Wait, scratch that, I just asked Wade a question with a gigantic bite of bagel in my mouth. So only sleeping.
The weekend passed, a long weekend with PLENTY of opportunities for me to study. And I didn't. And right now I should be studying but I'm not. I should be sleeping since I am supposed to get up at 5 am to run. But I'm not. This stuff isn't easy. But I guess all the good stuff in life really isn't easy. more stalling. Good night.

Super. Epic. Flop.

This is what it was supposed to look like.This is what it actually looked like. It wasn't pretty or particularly tasty, but it was kinda fun. I may try it again with a better cake recipe. Oh, well. #15 off the list.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


So I had a minor set-back this morning when my power went out and I slept until 8:40. This is a problem for 2 reasons A) I am supposed to be at work by 8 am and 2) I should have been running about 3 hours earlier. So, no gym today. But I'm not stressing. Just have to do the best that I can do. I'm realizing on this journey that you just can't take yourself too seriously. It's all about a quick recovery time, in exercise and in life. I'll be back at it tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

3 days in

Whew. I am pooped!

Sunday: I ran for 1 hour. The machine said that I burned 800 calories, I really hope it is right.

Monday: I have a 4 hour field research lab Monday afternoons, so I can't do the gym. Fortunately, (or unfortunately if you dislike hiking through uncultivated woodlands in 92 degree heat) the research that we did involved hiking for about 2 hours. So I am going to credit myself for several miles of walking that day. If you can measure hard work with how much a person sweats, I worked hard this day.

Tuesday: I was up at 5 am for a run. I made it for 50 minutes. I don't run as fast or as long in the morning compared to my afternoon runs. But, it's still worth it because getting my workout over with in the morning feels great.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Well, no wonder I am already feeling behind, I am behind. Week 16 has come and gone. This week I made a lot of plans. I'm good at making plans. But I am not going to get stuck in the plan making mode. I am taking the advice of this quote:

"Dreams are fulfilled only by taking action, not by endlessly planning to take action." -a recovered procrastinator.

This week I made an action plan for workouts, downloaded the pod cast and some good workout music, washed all my workout clothes that I had been using as pajamas, bought some low calories but highly nutritious lunches, started easing myself off of the coffee, woke up 15 minutes earlier every morning (not always successful on this one) and got my first "Henry is back in preschool" cold for the season over with. I plan on feeling 100% by Tuesday when my running program starts. Here is how it will all shake down:

SUNDAY: 1 hour on the elliptical machine/20 minutes weights (lower body)
MONDAY: 1 hour walk/abs
TUESDAY: 30 minutes running program/45 minutes on the elliptical machine
WEDNESDAY: 30 minutes running program/45 minutes on the elliptical machine/abs
THURSDAY: 30 minutes running program/45 minutes on the elliptical machine
FRIDAY: 1 hour walk/abs
SATURDAY: 1 hour on the elliptical machine/20 minutes weights (upper body)

I also completed my first week of the fall semester. 18 year olds look like children. I hate doing lab work. Microscopes hurt my eyes. My ecology teachers are a nightmare. I have a ton of work to do. Better get to it.

Up n' coming

I didn't put it on my 33 in 33rd year list, because it seemed cliche, but one of my biggest goals for this year is to lose weight. Lots of it. My back is killing me and I am sick of feeling bad about myself, so I am taking action. I am starting a program called Couch to 5K in 9 weeks. This will set me up almost perfectly for my first 5K run on Thanksgiving Day morning. My friend Andy did the same program and she lost a lot of weight and now loves to run. I'm excited and nervous.

I'm also in 9 hours of school this semester. After I complete these classes I will have a BS in Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I have dreams of doing marine biology research on a beach some day. But for now I just have to survive a very busy full time job + 9 hours of school (7 of those hours in lab) + a beautiful and busy Bean + a new workout program. It's basically going to be a 16 week tornado. We are one week in and I am already feeling behind.

Reading about someones work out program isn't fun or exciting but I feel like this blog may be a good outlet for me to post about my progress, so I am taking over the blog for the next few weeks. I can't promise that it will be interesting (but is this blog really ever interesting?) and that there will not be an extreme amount of complaining and self-doubt, but it's only temporary, right? And if you're not interested, no worries, just come back around Christmas time when I will be a college graduate (god willing), a running pro (still skeptical) and I will be baking and eating copious amounts of Christmas cookies.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

33 things to do in my 33rd year

Well, 33 is here. I’m trying to make the best of it, even though I am now officially closer to 35 then to 30.

1. Take a screen-printing class at the Art Center

2. Put up a clothes line

3. Have another baby

4. Make better use of my alone time

5. Surf

6. Swim in Annie’s pool

7. Plant a vegetable garden

8. Paint the kitchen and the front door

9. Put in a grey water system

10. Run a 5K

11. Finish the quilt for Henry

12. Label my photos

13. Throw a backyard party

14. Put in a deck

15. Bake the super epic rainbow cake

16. Walk down the hill

17. Spend some time with old friends

18. Take a cake decorating class

19. Let Henry sleep over at his grandparent’s house

20. Go on a road trip

21. Remodel the bathroom

22. Ride a Ferris wheel

23. Build a fort with Henry and sleep in it

24. Have a favorite things party

25. Help Henry plant his own garden

26. Spend a day in KC thrift store shopping and cupcake eating

27. Stock up my craft box

28. Go sledding on campus

29. Volunteer with Henry

30. Learn to use my camera on manual mode

31. Take Henry to the Children’s Museum

32. Get a colorful winter coat

33. Have a family photo taken for our Christmas cards

Friday, June 4, 2010

Lil Cakes 2

I have noticed something about red velvet cake. People either love it or they hate it. It is one of my favorite cakes. I love the flavor. It's not as sweet as other cakes which makes it so you can pile on the frosting and sugar sprinkles (something Henry is very good at *see below). And there is something so awesome about taking a blah tan-ish mixture and turning it bright red. It's just fun. Martha Stewarts Red Velvet cupcake recipe was by far the best red velvet cake I have ever had. I was not a purest with this one. I did not make cream cheese icing, because I don't really like cream cheese icing, and I didn't add walnuts. I made a fluffy vanilla buttercream and topped it with sprinkles instead.
Henry's take on red velvet is below. He feels that there really is no such thing as too many sprinkles on a cupcake.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Marry an Artist

This is all I'm saying. Marry an Artist. Or at least befriend one and give them things. For artists have the power to make any boring old space into a beautiful one. I've been searching for art for Henry's walls for a while now and my sweet husband has either made or funded almost all of my choices. First, I (yes me, not Wade) made a banner of flags to go over his bed (although Wade may or may not have provided some guidance on the color choices, I'm not telling). And then I found these adorable cardboard deer heads to go in the middle. I bought a tiny one for Henry's room and saved the board with the cut outs so that Wade could make a big one for our living room out of old Rudy's pizza boxes (which reminds me, I should order a pizza for delivery). I La La Love these posters with lyrics from one of my favorite songs. Wade showed me exactly how to make them and then it was just off to Kinkos for a quick color print on poster board. This sweet little elephant was an Etsy find. I love her and I plan to copy the idea to make a peacock and an umbrella to go over Henry's desk. Wade has instructed me on the trials and tribulations of Modge Podge and I feel ready to take this project on.

This whale is another Esty find. I love it, but I'm not in love with it. I think chalkboards are fun but I am thinking Henry needs something bigger, to really show off his mad skillz.
And lastly, there is this panting. Also and Etsy find. Wade tells me we could paint something similar here at home. But I love it and I think I am going to buy it and marry it. This may not go in Henry's room. I might put it in our room. I need a house with less windows and more walls.
So, in conclusion. Marry an artist. He or she can then teach you how to make all the art you have been eyeballing for years. They will make fun of you for not coming up with the idea on your own. But artists are moody and hey, you are the one that decided to marry one.


In my dreams I own a cupcake shop. It's tiny, with wood floors and brick walls. I imagine those old glass and wood cases full of layer upon layer of different cakes. There would be frosting shots for icing enthusiasts and naked cakes for weirdos that do not like frosting (like my hubby). So fun!
I have a deep and sincere love of the cupcake. I love it for its built in portion control. I love it for its super handy holder that can also serve as a frosting scraper should one get too much frosting (pfh, as if). I love how it perfectly holds one candle and for its inability to hold 32 candles (going on 33). It is a perfect model, never takes a bad picture. But most of all, I love it because it doesn't hold me down to one option. Make a cake, that's all you've got. Make cupcakes and you may have sprinkles or no sprinkles. Chocolate icing..yes please. Or maybe vanilla. Add a filling, if you like or turn the whole thing upside down and dip it in something rich and prepare to unbutton your jeans. I love cupcakes.Martha Stewart has a cupcake book and it has become my new bedtime story. I daydream about what cupcake coma I will enjoy next. I have to admit I have only made 2 recipes from the cookbook and both of them were okay. Not the best cupcakes I have made, definitely not the worst (so sad to remember those neon-red red velvet cakes I made 2 years ago, sitting so perfectly red in the trash can. Tasted like a wet sponge dipped in cardboard).
My idea is to try one of Martha's cupcakes each week Her cookbook has 175 recipes and I will not do all of them. Ahem, Ginger and thanks. But I think I will try any of them with ingredients that do not make me want to hurl. Then I will take a pic and put it on this blog. I do recognize that this is not an original idea and no, I am not trying to create my own baked goods version of Julie and Julia. I don't have that kind of time.
In these pics are MS version of coconut cupcakes. My thoughts: too buttery. They almost tasted like bread. The frosting was good though. I think I'll try it again with less butter and more coconut. Coconut cupcakes are my favorite. Or maybe red velvet. No, german chocolate.

I've realized something

Recently I have discovered that I am not the person to go to for decorating decisions. I base this observation on the fact that I have now painted my dining room chairs 4 different colors, changed my curtains in the living room twice, and have been flip-flopping on the paint colors for my living room and dining room for so long now that Wade refuses to indulge me in any converstation over paint swatches. He says "Do whatever you want babe. Just give me the roller and I'll go."
My front door is also an excellent example. My first thought was to paint it orange because that is my favorite color. I recognize that orange is most people's least favorite color, which really only makes me like it more. Anyway, then I thought black. My sister has a black door and it looks great. Wade gives it a "whant-waaaaa" vote but I dunno, I kinda dig it. Hot pink is obviously the choice of our smallest and most vocal family member. I leaning, umm, away from hot pink, but I am surprised by how good it actually looks. If I could pull it off I would. But I can't. Then there is green, which works in this pic but I think would suck with the green grass (aka weeds that are also green) and the red is nice but red doors are kinda all over all neighborhood, so I am thinking no on that. Blue is Wade's choice, but his vote only half counts because I think he just picked it because he likes to argue with me. Besides, what does he know about design and color choice...wait...scratch that...go back to my previous arguing point and pay no attention to his degree in art or his employment as a designer.
Anyway, my house is brown and it's going to stay brown until I find the time to paint the whole thing orange!!!!! WHOO-HOOO. But until that time the purplish/mate finish door has to go. What say you blog friends?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bringing it back....

Begin each day as if it were on purpose.
- Mary Anne Radmacher

Today, I love:
Snuggling with my hubby at 6 am.
Finding Henry this morning, in the living room with his blanket and ugly doll sitting on the floor petting our cat. He said “Mama, I think he really likes me now. He purring and that means he likes me.”
Drinking coffee and listening to NPR.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Next please

I am very close to finishing school, 3 classes to be exact. And I think for a lot of people finishing school the next step would be grab that degree and run out into the job market determined to put all their years of hard work to good use. I, however, do not have that ambition. I have no plans to use my degree. Let’s just be totally honest, I have no desire to use my degree. My degree is quite simply a symbol of A) my stubbornness B) my desire to please my father. That’s it. I like Biology, it’s interesting and fun, but I do not want to spend my time looking in a microscope or taking soil samples. Sorry.

Here is the problem. That sucks. I hate it. Because I would much rather say that 12 years of school and thousands of dollars in student loan debt led me to my dream work scenario. I thought when I went back to school in 2002 that finishing school would feel like a major accomplishment but frankly I can’t get over how long it took, how much it cost, and how it really isn’t what I wanted in the first place. If I was 22 and graduating I would say “Screw it” and I would go ahead and follow my heart. I would chalk it up to a good experience, knowledge gained, something I can be proud of and then look for what is next, search out what is really in my heart. But at 32 that feels kinda like something kids do. At 32 it feels like time to get my shit together…like yesterday.

I realize that is no way to live. I realize that if I don’t give myself the same options that I would have given myself 10 years ago then I am just signing up to never get to do anything that I actually want to do. So, I’ll veto that and I’ll try to forget my number (32 32 32 32 32…okay, that got it out of my system). And in the spirit of new opportunities and taking chances and following your heart no matter what your past looks like, no matter how sad and unproductive I have been up to this point, I will make a list of things that I love and then, maybe if I stare at it long enough, I can find the courage to do something with it-
I like

To cook:
Fresh food
Fresh baked bread

To grow:

To make:
Paper flowers

I like:

What can I do with this information? Well…just free form ideas here…

A bakery.
A café.
Chef school.
Grow my own succulents and sell them at the famers market or online
A cupcake shop
Make homemade sewn or embroidered goods to sell on etsy

That’s all I have for now. It’s something, right? I will leave you with some photos that inspire me. I can’t take credit for them but some of them I can’t give credit for either because I saved them years ago. Blog faux pas, I know. Love me anyway.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Chilly or is it Chili?

This cool weather has me in “hunker down and wear sweaters and eat chili” mode. And much to my delight I have 2 AWESOME chili recipes that will make you feel warm and snuggly from the inside out. One is quick and easy, the other requires a bit more chopping, but is totally worth the effort.

Three Bean Chili
Serves 6
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chili powder
3 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or one 16-ounce can of tomato sauce)
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup of dry quinoa
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Water or tomato juice as needed
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves or fresh parsley (optional)

1. Heat up the oil in a heavy 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. You could just use water instead, but I like to add a little fat for flavor.
2. Add the bell peppers, onion, garlic, oregano, and chili powder, cayenne, coriander, and cumin, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the tomatoes and all the beans, and bring to a boil. Add a little water as needed.
4. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, adding water or tomato juice as needed if too much liquid evaporates.
5. While the beans cook make the quinoa. First rinse it several times, until the water runs pretty clear. Then bowl 1 cup water and add the quinoa to it. Put a lid on it and lower the heat (basically do just the same as cooking rice). It should be done in about 20 minutes, but check occasionally and if the water is gone then the quinoa is ready.
6. Stir the cooked quinoa into the bean mixture. Add as much as you want. If you like a more soupy chili, add less, if you like a thick chili, add more. Save any leftovers, you can use them later in the week. Season with salt and black pepper, and stir in the cilantro or parsley. Enjoy.

Serving suggestions and variations:
*You can obviously use any color variation of bell pepper; the more color variety, the prettier the dish is. Same goes for the beans. You can use all black or white (Navy, Great Northern, etc.) instead of pinto. It’s really up to you, your preferences, and what you have on hand.
*Add more cayenne and chili powder to make it hotter.
*Serve with different color tortilla chips: white, red, and black/blue. Or my favorite way which is covered in Fritos and sliced avocado. Yum!

White Chili
Serves 6
1 can of black beans
1 can of Navy beans (or Northern beans)
1 veggie bullion cube
2 tsps extra virgin olive oil
2 or 3 stalks of chopped celery
1 or 2 chopped carrots (3/4 of a cup, or so)
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups of water
1 small can of chopped green peppers
1 tsp cumin
A shake or 2 of oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat up the oil. Add the celery, carrots, onion and garlic. Stir until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add 2 cups of water and the veggie bullion cube, bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat and put a lid on it. Let it cook for 5 or 10 minutes, checking occasionally to see if the celery and carrots are softening.
Take a 1 cup measuring cup and dip it into the mixture , scoop about ½ cup of the liquid from the pot (try not to pick up any of the veggies if you can and watch your fingers, it will be hot)
Pour out the rest of the mixture (I just strain it) and add the ½ cup of liquid back to the pot with the veggies.
Add the cumin and oregano
Strain and rise the black beans. Add them to the mixture
Add the Navy beans and the can of green chili’s to the mixture (don’t drain the beans or the chilis)
Bring the mixture to a boil and add salt and pepper as needed
Serving suggestions and variations:
*You can change this up in so many ways. Adding bell peppers or corn or red pepper flakes for more heat.
*Serve with Fritos or tortilla chips and sliced avocado. It is deeelish.