Friday, November 30, 2007

Top Secret Weight Loss Tip

So yesterday Swistle was asking about weight loss ideas that involved only small, painless changes to one's day (as opposed to a drastic overhaul of your entire pantry leading to the eventual loss of the will to live due to chocolate withdrawal.) At the time I had no ideas to contribute, but as I was making Adelay's lunch today, I realized one very simple principle I have always lived by which, while not exactly sculpting my abs and toning my rear, and most definitely not contributing to my overall health, has managed to keep my weight somewhat under control.
It is this: (bracing self for rotten vegetable throwing and outcries of horror) Whenever possible, I eat dessert first. I know I'm going to want it eventually, and I know I'm not going to be able to consume the calories of a full meal AND a giant piece of cake without gaining weight, so I just eat the cake first and then however much of the regular meal I want until I'm full.
I know, I know. It's appalling. So while I'm horrifying you, I'll share my second, corresponding rule of thumb: If planning to eat dessert, lessen portions of the rest of the meal accordingly. Even at Thanksgiving, when I had to follow the standard courses of the meal and couldn't dig into the pie immediately, I ate tiny portions of the regular stuff to compensate for eating as much dessert as I wanted.
I realize this probably breaks every health rule in the book, and what I should actually be doing is cutting OUT dessert in order to make room for MORE veggies and lean proteins and blah blah blahs, but the fact is, skipping the sweet stuff makes me feel woeful and deprived. I also realize that all that sugar contributes to sugar crashes and I would probably feel much more energetic if I ate complex sugars instead of the white, refined stuff that I crave like crack.
But there you have it. That is what works for me (well, if your definition of "working" involves love handles and a number on the scale stuck stubbornly about fifteen pounds higher than this time last year. But I AM out of my maternity pants at long last.)
Oh, and to make up for the aforementioned crashes, I've been making half decaf, half regular coffee and drinking it all day long. Eli is finally tolerating moderate amounts of caffeine, which I discovered accidentally after drinking a soda at a hockey game, remembering in horror that it had caffeine, and then realizing a day later that there had been no tearful, inconsolable episodes as a result!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Early Christmas

Saturday we were in Michigan with Jim's family for an early Christmas celebration. Highlights are as follows:

Addy with her new baby. It's pink! It's a doll! It's heaven!

Addy and her cousins, showing off their brand spankin' new snowman! (Snow courtesy of Michigan lake effect. Snowman was decapitated by the boys approximately five minutes after this photo.)

Okay, is this an acceptable Christmas card picture? Be honest.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Really? A Post Having Nothing To Do With Real Estate Issues?

*Sidenote: As I sit here writing this, leaning forward to reach my computer on the coffee table, Adelay has taken hold of the lovehandle chunk of my midsection lopping out the back of my jeans and is squeezing and pinching it. She has been at it for about five minutes, totally enthralled. It's like kneading pasty, stretch-marked dough! she is thinking gleefully.

So my hair is really driving me nuts. It grows really fast, and since being trimmed and highlighted about two weeks before Eli was born, it has grown at least an inch and a half. Which means my highlights are hitting me at about ear level, and my thick, thick layers are bushing out around my shoulders. It is seriously SO. THICK. You don't even know.
Does anyone know of any good websites with actual pictures of short hairstyles to choose from? I looked today for about an hour and couldn't find anything actually helpful. It's all, "How to achieve Posh's sleek new short 'do in sixteen simple steps!" One of which being "Lose Twenty Pounds So Your Cheekbones Are Actually Noticeable."

Further Woes About Home Selling

So there's nothing more fun than jumping up on a sunny Sunday morning and flying around in your p.j.'s cleaning like a crazy person. Due to the holiday and being out of town, I hadn't gotten a lot done in preparation for the open house yet, so there was dusting, vacuuming, mopping, Windexing, and hiding of toys, laundry, and dishes to be done, while hubby feverishly raked leaves and swept the front porch. Oh, all while intermittently nursing a baby and getting a toddler dressed for Sunday School (which her grandma took her to- there was no keeping of the Sabbath holy for us, I'm afraid!)
So we finally had everything spotless and left for lunch and Christmas shopping errands, hoping to return to lines of prospective buyers in mad bidding wars for our house. Okay, well maybe not lines, but we were hoping at least a few interested people would have found their way to our house. Instead we arrived home to a note: "Jim and Sara, (that's right, he misspelled my name after seeing it probably twenty times on the papers I signed,) unfortunately it was a really slow day- only one group came through."
One! After approximately four hours of frantic cleaning, ONE family looked at the place! And the realtor said that they didn't even seem interested. Then, we were supposed to have the video tour done this morning so that it could go on the website, but it got cancelled due to the rainy weather. This really disappointed me (although I was relieved not to have to keep the house clean all morning) because our house is relatively bland and unimpressive on the outside. The interior is definitely more eye catching, so I am anticipating a lot more interest once people can view the inside. Now we'll have to wait another week to get it done.
Oh well! Thanksgiving was great and we had a lot of fun, so I should still be in a blessing counting mood, I guess. After all, it only takes one buyer to get the house sold. We could have had tons of people go through it, and if none of them fell in love with it, it wouldn't have mattered at all. We just need one person who can really see themselves living here.
I sure hope they show up soon.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Nabisco Ginger Snaps... Or PURE EVIL?

So it's nine thirty Wednesday night, and I'm all set to start baking my traditional pumpkin cheesecakes (traditional in that this will be the second year in a row I have made them!) I chose a different recipe this year than I made last year, and this particular one called for a crust of crushed ginger snaps and, naturally, butter ("A little buttah makes everything bettah!"-Paula Deen.)
So I put the snaps in a Ziplock and commence crushing them with a rolling pin, and... Nothing happens. These gingersnaps WILL NOT BE BROKEN. Seriously, it was like trying to crush diamonds. Worried that I was losing my mind, I bit into one of them, and it actually hurt my teeth!
Hearing me swearing and fuming in the kitchen, Jim comes in on his white horse to save the day, first trying to crush them the same way I had (the plastic bag finally tore) and then trying to grind them up in a bowl with the end of the rolling pin, pestle and mortar style. The ginger snaps were still winning- it was like these cookies were starring in an all baked goods cast of Braveheart. "Freedom!" they were shouting to each other in silent ginger snap language, somehow, inexplicably, triumphing over their much stronger opponents.
I then had a stroke of genius, and dumped the cookies into the blender on the ice chopping setting. Do you think it worked? Well it didn't. And then, based on my clearly limited knowledge of blenders, I thought that maybe dumping in the melted butter with the cookies would help make them more choppable. Do you think THAT worked? Well it didn't. Are you thinking that instead it probably made a giant goopy mess stuck around the blender blades? Congratulations.
I finally gave up sometime around ten thirty and scraped the goo down the disposal. Then I called Jim, who was out renting movies, and requested a package of good ole' cinnamon graham crackers. While he was getting those, I mixed up the filling, constantly reminding myself that I was doubling the recipe. This was supposed to be a marbled pumpkin cheesecake, mind you, so I knew that at a certain point I was supposed to remove some of the basic filling and then add the pumpkin and spices to the rest. But did I remember to double the amount that I was supposed to remove? Did you guess no? Hey, you're catching on to the theme of this post!
So it ended up being in no way marbled, just a plain old pumpkin cheesecake on a plain old graham cracker crust, finally put into the oven at close to midnight by a very cranky yours truly. But it tasted fine and Thanksgiving was amazingly not ruined by my less than stellar dessert presentation.
For which I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Spic and Span

So I'm beginning to wonder what on earth we were thinking, trying to orchestrate a move during the holidays with a toddler and an infant. Today was the realtor walk through, which I guess is like an open house for all the area realtors or something. I wasn't aware such a thing existed until I got a call around four yesterday asking if I could be ready for this by tomorrow morning at nine. So last night after Addy was in bed I bustled around trying to hide all the evidence that we actually lived in the house (dishes, trash, toys, newspapers) and then this morning, let Addy sleep in as long as possible while I finished making everything spotless. When I was ready to go and Eli was buckled in his carseat, I got Addy up, threw a coat and shoes on her drowsy, pajama-clad body, and hustled her right out the door to Grandma's house before she could even ask about dragging out her dollhouse or spilling Cheerios all over the floor.
Now we're over here at my mom's, where I can relax, make coffee, and let Addy get out toys and eat breakfast without fear of destroying the delicate, preternatural tidiness of my own home. But I know that all too soon I must return, where I will resent every dust particle and dirty towel that falls to the floor. I will cringe about every splatter and spill from Thanksgiving baking, because I know that it must ALL be cleaned up again before Sunday, when we will be heading out of town while the realtor does an open house. And then I can't even relax when we get back Sunday evening- no, everything must STAY spotless, because they're doing a video tour of the house on Monday morning!
I just keep chanting this mantra in my head: "Dining room. More bathrooms. Basement. It's all worth it, it's all worth it!"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Real Estate

Our house is being listed this week. There will be an open house next Sunday, while we are gone visiting relatives. I feel a little weird about this- strangers will be walking through our sweet little home, all ambivalent and objective, judging and critiquing. I want them to react emotionally, to say, "How cozy! What warm colors! Look at the pretty arched doorways!" Instead of what they will probably say: "One bathroom! No central air! Let's keep looking." I feel all protective and defensive of my little house- similar, I imagine, to what I would feel if strangers were to look my kids up and down and decide if they were good enough to adopt. I want to say, "True, we are leaving this house because we are in the process of outgrowing it, but it's not the house, it's us! The house is fine! It's great! Please love it and take good care of it!"

Also: It is driving me crazy that our offer was accepted, but I cannot start changing anything in the new house until we sell ours and actually buy it. The new house must sit empty, just CRYING OUT to have its walls stripped of the violent floral and goose patterned paper and painted gorgeous shades like "Mocha" and "Camel Hair Coat." It is WEEPING for its turquoise carpet to be replaced with a color less assaulting to the eyes. But its cries must fall on deaf ears until an undetermined point in the probably not too near future.
I hear you, my new house! I will rescue you from the late eighties as soon as I can!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Version Of Post Secret

Except it won't be so much a secret, unless you choose to comment anonymously. But come on, join me, won't you? It'll be fun! (Sardonic, wry laughter here.) I want us to confess our greatest failures as a mother, or spouse, or person in general. It will be both horrifying and cathartic.
Swistle got me started thinking about this in her latest post about anger, which I totally recommend you go read. She says she has a problem with a quick temper- she blows up, loses it, whatever, then soon calms down and is overcome with remorse. I realize many people have this problem, but I have personally never experienced it, so not only was her post amazingly honest, it was particularly mesmerizing for me because it was like a look into a normal person's psyche.
I was actually just saying to Jim the other day that I WISHED I could lose my temper and totally fly off the handle just once, to see what it felt like. It seems like it would be such sweet release, to lose all control and say any and every scary thing that popped into my head. But that's just not my style. Oh, I'm happy to engage you in a, shall we say, spirited debate. There will be snapping and terseness and unnecessarily emphatic shutting of cabinets and drawers. My voice may even border on raised. But I almost never yell, and even when I do it is intentional, if you see what I'm saying. It's not a loss of control.
So this is (knock on wood) hopefully not something I will struggle with in regards to parenting. I do get frustrated, and I do mutter under my breath. I do feel my entire body stiffen with agitation and impatience as I wait, wait, wait for Addy to do everything by herself while I'm rushing to get out the door, because Lord knows it will only take even longer if I try to insist that she let me do stuff for her.
But my real failing, my real weakness, is selfishness. To me this is far uglier than momentary flashes of anger. Less scary, maybe, and on the surface not nearly as obvious. No one's going to call children's services on me when they see me not taking my children for a walk because I'm on the couch blogging instead. No one's going to know that I had a mental conversation with myself about whether or not to put down the dust cloth and join Adelay in playing dollhouse, and that I actually chose the dust cloth over the dolls because I didn't feel like summoning up the mental energy to play with my child.
There are so many examples. My half-heartedness in attempting to potty train Addy, for instance, because it just takes such consistency. Sometimes I don't feel like waking her up to go to the bathroom as soon as her nap should technically be over, and I'd rather sit on the couch until I hear her actually open her bedroom door, even though I know that means we've probably lost the potty success opportunity.
Or my feet-dragging when it comes to establishing a feeding schedule for Eli, even though I know he probably needs one, as he's been spitting up a lot lately and is probably over eating during the day because he's nursing for comfort. But it's just so much easier to feed him on demand.
And then there's the selfish thoughts, so selfish I am ashamed to write them, but I will anyways. Thoughts at the grocery store, when I'm already exhausted and sweaty from wrestling an unwilling toddler and chubby baby and carseat into the cart, and I still have all the shopping and unloading and putting away to do, and my brain just wants to hide. And so it rages: "I shouldn't even be doing this! I'm twenty-three! I should be getting ready to go to a party, choosing an outfit that accentuates my flat, unstretch-marked belly. I should still be enjoying the occasional license to, as Vince Vaughn puts it, 'Get hopped up and make some bad decisions.' Why am I here? Who is this person wearing mom jeans and a damp bra?"
Do you know what I'm saying? These confessions may not necessarily seem that heinous and are certainly not child abuse or anything, but they just reveal a smallness about myself that makes me cringe inside. I want to want to be a good mommy, not force myself to do it while inwardly I am wishing for the sofa and the remote and, most of all, solitude.

And now, your turn, if you will. What tendency of yours do you most despise? What do you do about it?

The Waiting Game (Or: Somebody PLEASE Buy Our House!)

So you guys! They accepted our offer on the house we love! They didn't even counter offer, despite the fact that we offered a SIGNIFICANTLY smaller amount than they were asking. So now we just have to sell our house (minor detail!) and then we can move in! Yay!
I know this is really a pipe dream, but I'm hoping we can at least spend the last few days of December moving in so that we can ring in the New Year in our new house! Our festive celebrations will of course consist largely of stripping some truly horrific goose patterned wallpaper out of several rooms, but still.
I haven't yet figured out how to show you a picture of the house without basically posting our address for all to see, but I'll try to take some pictures on the digital to show you eventually. Suffice it to say- a ranch. Green-ish blue siding and shutters. Pine trees in backyard. White picket fence. Five bedrooms! Three bathrooms! Basement! A dining room!
I'm so happy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

If Eating Cookie Dough Is Wrong, I Don't Want To Be Right

The alternate title to this post was, "Sugar: The New Caffeine." In my current "sans coffee" state, I crave it so much that I sometimes long to inject it intravenously. Today was particularly rough. Last night, Jim and I were up discussing house stuff until about two in the morning (because apparently we lack the capacity to foresee the consequences of our actions) and I was of course completely exhausted by about two this afternoon. I had grocery shopping and errands to do, including running all over town trying to find out where the heck I was supposed to buy dog tags. I finally found the place, only to be told they are on a two week hiatus from selling the tags and that I had to go to the dog warden's office on the other side of town! Oh sure! No problem whatsoever!
I have since revived myself by baking chocolate chip cookies, and steadily shoving Ghiradelli chips into my piehole as I mixed up the dough. I am currently scraping the empty mixing bowl and eating giant spoonfuls of buttery, salmonella-poisoned goodness. Now I am Happy and Wide Awake!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Big Glut Of Pictures

My two lovies.

We spend a lot of time smooshed together in the bed.

Rockin' the pigtails.

Adelay's second birthday, October third. Didn't my mom do a good job on the cake?

Please note the remarkably large cheeks on that baby! My breast milk is apparently pure cream.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pregnancy Envy

So today I was walking around the grocery store, and a few aisles over I saw a largely pregnant girl, maybe eighteen, wandering the toy aisles with her boyfriend (or maybe husband, who knows.) She was wearing a spaghetti strap camisole, much too light for the weather, and you could see her beautiful, taut belly right through the lace. She looked like a commercial for a glowing, healthy pregnancy, and I, naive consumer that I am, bought into it immediately. "I want a big round belly again!" I thought wistfully. "She looks so happy, and so special. I want to look special again, instead of just being a tired looking lady with an extra fifteen pounds around her hips." I of course do not want heartburn and swelling and joint pain and sleeplessness, nor am I mentally ready for another delivery or another baby, but still...
Pregnancy does have its perks.

On another note, whatever happened to memes? EVERYONE was doing them for awhile there. So I'm bringin' 'em back, baby! Everyone is tagged, all you have to do is respond in my comment section- and all you "lurkers" out there chime in, too! (Not that I have anything against lurking; that is certainly your prerogative.)
It's just one question. What's your favorite quote/quotes? Maximum of three. I'm a big collector of favorite quotes, and it occurred to me it would be interesting to hear some of your faves.
Here are three of mine.

"Love possesses not, nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love." -Kahlil Gibran, from The Prophet

"Our greatest danger in life is in permitting the urgent things to crowd out the important." -Charles E. Hummel

"Three things are important in human life. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind." -Henry James

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The One Where I Talk About Food

1. Bowls are for losers. I prefer to eat my Breyers Oreo ice cream straight from the pint.
2. Swistle asked today about eating cookies for breakfast. The unanimous response seemed to be that cookies are a perfectly acceptable breakfast option. I so heartily agree that I wanted to do it here, on my own little platform: COOKIES- NOT JUST FOR SNACKTIME! (Ditto pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting.)
3. Drinking a half a pot of decaf coffee every day seems to be helping me function better. Is this all mental, or are there trace amounts of caffeine which are finding their sweet, sweet way to my sluggish brain?
4. Am I dork for loving my slow cooker SO MUCH?
5. Forget baby weight- what I am carrying is toddler weight. Or maybe guilt weight. It's the ring of fat that has formed not solely due to pregnancy but also perhaps to my constant cleaning up after Addy's meals. I cannot stand to cut up a banana, heat up pasta, slice cheese, or spread PB and J and then throw it untouched into the trash after she declines yet again to eat. It's the whole "children are starving in Africa" mentality- I feel bad about throwing away food. So I eat it- a quarter of a sandwich here, half a banana here, a cheese stick there- but then forget I've eaten it and make myself a normal sized meal as well. This is becoming a terrible habit, and also a slightly gross one. I remember as a kid cringing at those moms who were always picking at their kids' leftovers, and look at me now. A human garbage disposal.
6. I have invented my own yummy little concoction based loosely around a Rachael Ray recipe (I know, I know- she's so perky and squeaky; it sets me on edge, too. But still. I like her show.) First you boil half a box of penne pasta. While it's going, you chop up either half an eggplant or half a zucchini, a green pepper, and some onion. Throw that in some olive oil to saute, along with some black olives and a can of stewed tomatoes. When the veggies have browned, add some chopped up smoked sausage, however much you like. Throw in about half a jar of marinara sauce, add the cooked pasta, give it all a stir, then cover and simmer for about ten minutes. And voila! It sounds like a lot of flavors, but they blend really well and its very filling, plus you get your veggies without having to gnaw on a carrot stick or anything nasty like that. You could probably use turkey sausages to make it even healthier.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Haiku for Eli

Much as I love you,
My boobs are not a snack bar.
Pace yourself, chubby!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Things I Didn't Know

Things I didn't know before having children include, but are not limited to, the following:
-that while Addy is eating, trying to keep her and the dog away from one another is as futile as the Capulets and Montagues trying to keep the infamous star-crossed lovers apart.
-that baby nails are the sharpest weapons known to man.
-that breastfeeding is NOT always painless and effortlessly natural.
-that when one has a child in tow, complete strangers seem to feel that the boundaries of respect and privacy are removed and they are free to, say, yell sharply from three yards away, "That baby needs a hat!" And that even responding politely with, "Well, he actually had one on and was crying and trying to pull it off, so..." does not shut said strangers up. Instead it apparently invites them to respond nastily with, "Well, he's not the boss, you are!" over their shoulder as they walk away, leaving you gaping and fuming and thinking up wonderful retorts just a few minutes too late.
-that a rather long, lean two year old is actually easier to carry for long periods of time than a short but remarkably solid bundle of two-month-old.
-that introducing vitamins to a child only gives you one more thing to say "No" to when your kid starts asking for vitamins five times a day. Try explaining to a frantic toddler that ONE vitamin is a good thing, but LOTS of vitamins will make you sick.
-that potty training will involve many episodes of spotting a child about to go, rushing them to the potty where they twiddle their thumbs for ten minutes, then putting on a fresh diaper only to have it promptly soiled about a minute and a half later.

This is just off the top of my head. Feel free to educate me further and contribute to the list!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Catch Up

This is me, typing away happily on my NEW LAPTOP that WORKS whenever I want it to! So far! One of Jim's coworkers heard him talking about how he needed to get another computer, and offered to give him a laptop he had "just sitting around taking up space" at home! Hello! I'm not one to see God behind every good parking space or sale on beef, but this coincidence did seem very providential.
So here's what's been going on in La Casa de Desperacion. La Casa is now for sale, as we are hoping to purchase a bigger house in a neighborhood about ten minutes from our current location. Our home, while having issues like only one bathroom and no central air, is decorated nicely, is completely updated (most floors, windows, roof, siding, bathroom, kitchen, all fresh paint) and is in a great location (right behind the high school, smack dab in the middle of the best school district.) So we are really hoping that despite the slow market we will be able to move it quickly, since any offer we make on this house we're looking at will be contingent on the sale of our own house.
I'm trying to be patient and not get all worked up and excited since there are many pieces that still need to fall into place for this to work out. But the house seems SO perfect for us. In my head I'm already thinking of it as ours, despite my efforts otherwise. It has beautiful oak trim and chair rails and crown molding, which I love, a basement that can be Jim's "man room," a cool finished loft bedroom over the garage which would be the kids' playroom, a family room with vaulted ceiling that opens to a little deck, a cute kitchen with very nice cabinets, a master bathroom and walk-in closet, a nursery/office/work out room adjoining the master bedroom, and two other big bedrooms on the main floor. So in all, four bedrooms, with the possibility of a fifth (the room adjoining the master could easily be closed off into its own room, as it has a separate closet.) And let's not forget the two and half baths when we've been used to pacing around waiting for each other to be finished! It's worth more than we could afford, but the house has been on the market for a year and a half, and has been vacant for a year (the previous owners moved out of state.) So the realtor thinks they will (or at least should) be ready to negotiate. Here's hoping!
I of course couldn't sleep last night- I was too busy thinking about wall colors and mentally arranging all our stuff in the new house. I finally got myself to sleep watching Friends, but when Eli woke me up at four, I immediately began my mental decorating again! At five, when I still wasn't back to sleep and even Friends had failed me, I took Nyquil, thinking, "I must get some sleep before Addy wakes up!" This was a bad idea. A dose of Nyquil ensures a good FULL night's sleep, not another couple of hours. I woke up so groggy and deranged that I am just now starting to feel fully awake and functioning- it is eleven fifteen. It has been an unproductive morning, even more so because I skipped taking Addy to Kindermusik. I had a good reason- she has had a rattly, wet sounding chest cough for the last few days and I was sure the other moms wouldn't be pleased to have her hacking all over the instruments and holding hands with their own healthy children- but it did remove all pressure to fight the Nyquil fog which has hung around my brain thickly all morning.
This warmed up cup of decaf seems to be tricking me into waking up a little, though, so I guess I'd better go make a fresh pot. Then at least I might achieve a shower and a load of laundry today... Aim high, that's my motto!