December 24, 2008

He's a Smart One

C was incredibly close to being instructed to buy new a new vacuum cleaner today. He's already in purgatory and was forced to go to the mall to get his hair cut on Christmas Eve. I figured that since he was out, he could just buy me a new vacuum instead of me trekking across town.

Normally it wouldn't be a big deal. Eh, so my vacuum is broke. I could just wait until after-Christmas sales on Friday and get one at a smoking deal. It's just a little dog fur and Christmas tree needles.

But I have house guests coming in tonight, and company coming over for dinner tomorrow. My house NEEDS to be vacuumed. The dog fur might rise up in a mutiny and try to overthrow the very fragile reign I hold on this household.

C had hung up some storage racks in our laundry room last night and had the vacuum out to sweep up the drywall dust this morning. When he finished I asked him to leave it upstairs so that I could use it.

He winds the cord and never says anything about it not working correctly. I start vacuuming the master bedroom -- no obvious problems. I have to go over some spots a couple of times to pick up obvious debris but nothing new. My vacuum is almost 10 years old and was the cheapest one we could buy at K-Mart at the time -- it needs to be replaced but for what little carpet we have, I can't justify buying a new one. I pull out the attachment hose to grab the fur balls along the baseboards and under our bed.

This is when I realize that I have NO suction. All I'm doing is pushing the dog fur around on the carpet, creating pretty swirls of white. And there's an odd noise coming from the general vicinity of the vacuum.

Crap!

Well, maybe the bag is full.

Downstairs I trek, to the mechanical room where the spare bags are. Hallelujah! There was actually 2 down there!

Back upstairs I go, clean bag in hand. After wrestling with our piece of crap cheapo vacuum I finally get the bag changed and realize that I probably need to do our room again. The cloud of dust is thick in the air and I'm covered in a fine film myself.

I plug it back in, hit the power switch and hope for the best. I hold my hand over the end of the hose and nada. No suction through the hose. Then I notice the noise again. Off goes the vacuum.

Crap! Crap!

I panic as the thought crosses my mind that I have house guests arriving in about 12 hours (in-laws no less, so the house HAS to be clean) and my vacuum is broken.

I swear at it, smack it and say a little prayer that it will magically fix itself.

Turn it back on in the hopes that my curse words accomplished something. Nope. Not today.

Mind you, the entire time C can hear me muttering about the vacuum. Turning it off/on, off/on. When I went downstairs to get a clean vacuum bag I mentioned to him as I walked by his cartoon-induced trance that I thought the vacuum was broken because it wasn't sucking. He made some smart-ass comment and continued to be engrossed by whatever was on PBS.

I begin the process of dismantling the vacuum to see if I can self-diagnose it. I may want a new vacuum but the truth is, I hate to spend the money on it. I'd much rather spend it on something frivolous and fun. As I'm starting to pull the hose off, C comes into the bedroom and sheepishly admits that he *might* know what the problem is.

He grabs a wire hanger from the closet and pulls the hose attachment from my hand. I look over his shoulder to see something white stuck in the flexible tubing where it necks down to go into the vacuum. A little finagling and he removes a packing peanut.

And then another.

And another.

And another.

And another.

And finally another.

Yeah. 6 packing peanuts were wedged in the end of the attachment hose. That could possibly be why I wasn't getting any suction through the hose.

But, what?

How?

I haven't been around any packing peanuts. Then it dawns on me. He vacuumed the laundry room this morning and there was a box sitting in there with packing peanuts in it.

"I thought they were small enough to fit through the hose" he quips as he walks away. "Guess not."

He's a smart one, that husband of mine. Certified engineer and all.

Sometimes I think he leaves his brain at the office!

December 22, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside!

It says that it's 28 degrees right now, but with the wind it feels like 13. Gotta love that wind! It's blowing at 28mph (per The Weather Channel) currently, with gusts up to 35mph. The wind sucks. We live at the end of a cul-de-sac and at the very edge of town. It feels like a vortex of snow crystals outside right now as it swirls through the neighborhood. I couldn't even get a good idea of which direction the wind was blowing from. It seems to come at you from every angle and dances in frozen, piercing swirls across the landscape.

C shoveled once this morning before he left for work. I opted to go out and bust through it mid-day so that it was more manageable later on. It will probably need to be shoveled yet again when C gets home from work.

I just burnt 412 calories as I shoveled the driveway and sidewalk. The snow is wet and heavy today -- unlike the light, powdery stuff that normally accumulates. Normally the wind wouldn't be able to blow such wet, heavy snow around but at 30mph I suppose it can move more than normal. So I shoveled with sunglasses on to keep the snow from whipping in my eyes. If I had known where my ski goggles were, I would have worn them instead. Fashion clearly goes out the window when I don my winter snow gear.

As I look out the window I'm already beginning to think my efforts were futile. The sidewalk is drifting back in already. I guess if anything, it was good exercise and gives me a reason to not drive through the knee high snow on the street to go to the gym tonight.

The forecast is calling for snow 9 out of the 10 coming days so I would imagine our shovel gets good use in the next 2 weeks. Perhaps C is 2nd guessing his decision to NOT buy a snow blower. Last week I put the suggestion on the table, saying it wouldn't bother me to spend the money. He said it wasn't necessary. He might kick himself for that shortly.

December 17, 2008

When Real Life and the Internet Collide

Shortly after I went off of my birth control back in 2004, I joined an online community for women trying to get pregnant. After a few months of browsing through the forums I noticed a post put up by a girl trying to get pregnant with her first child. She was looking for other women to start a buddy group with -- a group of girls to chat with about the struggles and frustrations. Her intent was to have a small circle so that everyone involved would feel welcomed and included. I had tried my hand before with some buddy groups, but they always got too big and it was hard to keep track of everyone. So with the hope of this one staying small I responded to see where it would lead to.

This was back in January of 2005. Throughout our time together on that online community, 9 members drifted in and out of the group. The dynamics of the community changed and we opted to take our group to another website to chat. There have been a couple of disputes and a falling out, but 6 of the original 9 are still very close. We post on our board daily and offer support no matter what the situation. Some in the group have moved on to subsequent pregnancies; some are happy with 1 child; some are still battling for their first.

The friendships that I've formed within this group of girls is amazing. They've kept me sane when I've felt like I'd been beaten down; they send flowers and gifts to celebrate the joys. It's always amazed me that a group of people who had never set foot in the same room together could be so close. More than once, C has teased me about my "friend in a box".

Over the last few years, we've talked about trying to get the group together for a vacation. We throw around some ideas and tentative dates and then lives get busy and it gets pushed to the wayside. "Someday" we'll all get together...

That someday finally came to fruition, with one friend in the group.

Back in October, C told me that I needed to get away and have a weekend to myself. To get away from it all and be Mandy for the weekend, not just Mom and Wife. He wanted me to make a trip to New Jersey and take the opportunity to have some face to face time with Kristen. Some careful sleuthing on my part, put me in touch with her husband and we began to hatch a plan. A weekend was decided on, tickets were booked and the excitement began to build. I ran scenario after scenario through my head about knocking on her door. What would be the best way to pull this all off? What should I say and do to get the best reaction?

Surprisingly, her husband and I kept it from her for almost 2 months. I flew into Philadelphia on a Friday afternoon and had the weekend to spend with her and her family. As I walked through the airport into the baggage terminal, the butterflies began to flutter. I felt like I was getting ready for a blind date.

What if she didn't like me in real life? What if we couldn't hold a conversation when sitting across the table from one another?

About an hour after landing, her husband and I pulled up in front of their place and I had to keep myself from running to the front door. As I lifted my hand to announce my presence, I could feel the tears welling in my eyes and a lump building in my throat.

When she opened the door, the look on her face was priceless. She truly was at a loss for words. Which is rare for her!



My hope is that we don't go another 4 years without a visit.


December 16, 2008

Christmas Fun

1. Egg Nog or hot chocolate?

I would much rather have egg nog, especially if it has a shot (or 2!) of spiced rum in it. But this holiday season I'd probably go with hot chocolate as it's somewhat healthier.


2. Does Santa wrap presents or set them under the tree?

Gifts from Santa are always wrapped, but they go under the tree Christmas Eve night.


3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?

Our Christmas tree has white lights on it; I hate colored lights with all of the crazy decorations/ornaments we put on. The only lights we have outside (I wanted lights put up but C refused to do them) are white and they're just on the one tree in the yard.


4. Do you hang mistletoe?

Not anymore. I did for a few years when we were newly married. It was some fake stuff and somehow got destroyed; I never replaced it. Guess we must be past the lovey-dovey stuff!


5. When do you put your decorations up?

Usually the 1st weekend in December. This year it was the weekend after Thanksgiving because I wasn't home the 1st weekend and I wanted them up early for KT. I will never, never, ever put Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving.


6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

I love holiday meals in general. I always make a ham for Christmas though and that's probably the thing I look forward to the most.


7. Favorite holiday memory as a child:

My youngest sister, A, would always set her alarm for an insanely early time on Christmas Day. She'd wake us girls up and then we'd spend a good hour getting my Mom out of bed. Mom would keep asking for 10-15 more minutes. My sister would even go so far as to make Mom a cup of tea and take it into her.


8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?

I don’t remember. I know that my parents were still together so it was before I was 8 but played along for my younger sisters. My guess is that someone at school enlightened all of us on the playground.


9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?

We never did growing up and we don't when we're in our own home on Christmas Eve. On years that we travel to Michigan for the holiday, we do open gifts with one set of family that day because of logistics.


10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?

Hodge podge all the way! I will probably never have an elegant tree that is all one color or has a theme. I'm okay with it though -- I love my tree. My grandpa had a tradition of buying the grandkids ornaments every year so I have 25 or so from that; C has ornaments from his folks that he got every year; and then we have an assortment of stuff we've collected together.


11. Snow! Love it or dread it?

LOVE IT! I'm weird, I know. But as long as I'm prepared for it, winter is my favorite time of year. I love to be out playing in it or just sitting watching it fall. It's all about being dressed right for the cold!


12. Can you ice skate?

I tried once and it was not a pretty sight. The night/day itself was memorable but that's another story...


13. Do you remember your favorite gift?

One that stands out the most is the year my Dad bought me a leather jacket.


14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you?

Letting people know that I'm thinking of them. We don't travel to see family every year, and I try my hardest to let everyone know that even though we're not there, we're still thinking of them!


15. Dessert?

I'm a sucker for anything chocolate. Christmas candy is hard for me to resist.


16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Decorating the Christmas tree. It changed this year considerably with the assistance of a 2-year old but was still fun.


17. What tops your tree?

A wire angel with white lights.


18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?

Giving. I'd buy gifts for so many people if we had it in our budget. I wish I could afford to buy stuff for more people, even if it was just little gifts for them. C and I always have a disagreement every year about the number of people on our list. So I send out a boat load of cards instead.


19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?

I love "The Little Drummer Boy" by anyone. It's my favorite traditional song. Willie Nelson sings a song called "Pretty Paper" that I love. It reminds me of my Dad. There's also an a capella version of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" done by Rascal Flatts that is on my must-have list for this year.


20. Candy Canes! Yuck or yum?

Mint chocolate ones are one of the few kinds I like.

December 15, 2008

Dashing Through the Snow...

I think it should more appropriate be titled, "Dashing Through the Holiday".

All I want to know is how did it get to be the 15h of December (crap--it's my BIL's birthday today)? Wasn't it just Halloween? Or even Thanksgiving?

In what very little spare time I have, I'm realizing that my schedule is getting tighter and tighter and I'm running out of time to accomplish everything I think needs to be done.

A big part of it, is the sheer amount of crazy stuff that I take on. That I choose to do. I know that I could cut some of it out but they are traditions that I'd hate to see fall to the wayside.

Yeah, 120 Christmas cards eats up a fair amount of time. As does making Christmas candy to give to our friends/neighbors as gifts. Shopping probably can't be done away with but it adds an extra element of pressure to make sure gifts are bought and shipped to family back home in enough time to account for holiday shipping delays. I can't wait until the last couple of days and dash around town to check names off my list.

Add in making dishes for work parties (how did I get volunteered to make a dish for C's work party? One of these years I'd like to just be able to buy a couple dozen rolls and call it good.), prepping my house for visitors, making gifts for Secret Santa exchanges, planning for a holiday dinner which I keep inviting people to, and just the general chores of life and working 40 hours a week and it's easy to see why I'm running out of time and feeling rushed.

I woke up this morning to realize that it was Monday, yet again, and I was busy all weekend long. My hope is that by next Monday I will have everything finished and can actually enjoy the holiday a little bit.

December 4, 2008

Taking Requests?

As long as I can remember, I've always seen myself as "chubby".

Growing up I was usually a size or 2 bigger than my girlfriends. When many girls in High School could trade formal dresses for dances, my options were more limited as most things were too tight. As my sisters grew up I was envious of their weight. Both of them took after my Dad and were incredibly thinner than I was. When my Mom had to buy husky/plus sizes for me as a middle schooler, she was buying the thin/slim sizes for them. At an early age I took to wearing baggy sweaters and oversized t-shirts to cover the extra flab around my middle. In High School gym class I picked a back corner of the locker room to change in. Doing so as quickly as possible so no one could see my bare skin and laugh at me.

Clothing manufacturers have only helped to manifest this image. As clothing got more form fitting and jeans more tight the size I wore went higher and higher. I hated to shop for clothes and only did so when absolutely necessary. There was an episode in Provo once that made my head spin as I scrambled to get out of the dressing room and to my car with any dignity. It's hard to see yourself as even average when you're buying x-large shirts.

I'm finding that it's really difficult to change that mental picture I have of myself. It's a hard image to get out of your head. I think I could be down to a size 4 (which will never happen due to my body shape) and still think of myself as needing to lose weight. I'm beginning to fit into mediums now where I never could before. But old habits die hard and I grab the large and extra-large off of the rack to try on.

Requests have been made to post some before and after pics. For years I've tried to stay behind the camera, designating myself as the picture taker instead of the subject. I hate to see pictures of myself.

But I'll see what I can come up with.

Maybe.

December 1, 2008

G-O-A-L!!!

Just in time for holiday dinners, trays of Christmas goodies and company parties -- I hit my goal weight.

It took me 16 weeks to lose:
  • 17 pounds
  • 4% body fat
  • a combined total of 13".
For the first time in my life I'm happy with how I look (minus the 3" I lost in my chest). My BMI is well under the top range for normal and my body fat percentage falls into the very upper range of the "fitness" category. As long as I can remember I've been overweight (BMI) and acceptable (body fat %). I'm seeing definition of muscles that I've never seen before and I physically feel better than ever. All of it combined feels great.

More importantly though, I'm proud of myself. Dieting is hard for me. I like to eat. Especially things that aren't healthy for me -- ice cream, chocolate, breads, etc. Being on the core program of WW helped me to cut that extra junk out and to focus on eating healthy foods in smaller portions. I think too, that paying the monthly fees made me commit to it. I was wasting my money if I wasn't following the program.

Once I hit my goal weight, WW put me into what they term "maintenance" but didn't drop the monthly fees since I am doing the online program. I've found a calculator online that explains the formula for figuring points and I have printed off the list of core foods. So for now, I think I'm going to stop my subscription and have a go at it on my own.

My next goal is to make it through to the first of January and maintain this weight. That will be the true test as to how well I can do it on my own.

November 18, 2008

Posting a Retraction

I feel like I should just walk away from this, but I can't. If this was a credible news source, would my last past be worthy of a retraction and apology?

I'm sorry if I offended people with my post. Honestly that was not the intention. I was trying to take the scrambled mess of thoughts in my brain and sort through them. Get them out of my head and into the open where they'd have room to separate and appear as single arguments instead of a wadded up mass of tangles.

I'm not sorry for what I said though. There are aspects of the last 3 years that I haven't blogged about. Words that I'd love to get out of my head and off my chest, but I can't figure out how to write down what I want to say. Infertility is a cruel mistress. Even when you find yourself out of her throes, she is intertwined in your being so deeply that you find pieces of her in unexpected places. Couple infertility with hypermesis and you have yourself a cocktail for serious mental anguish.

Does that mean that I need to talk to a therapist? Perhaps. I don't know. When I was battling depression in 2005 I struggled to find someone who I felt comfortable talking with. I'm afraid that trying to find someone this time would be even worse. This is so vastly different than your standard issue marital woes, or parenting troubles. It is something in which you have to find a perfect balance with the person you are talking to. Because of this, there are only a couple of people who I feel comfortable enough with to have the conversations.

I'm not ready right now for another child. Our life isn't ready right now for another child. I don't know if I'll ever be ready for another child. C wants more children though, at least one. I want more children too but I don't want to have to go through what I did to get KT.

I struggle because I see marriage as a partnership. I've compromised with him on many things to reach a decision we're both comfortable with. By me saying no more kids I feel as though I'm not compromising and being selfish, completely ignoring his wants. I was trying to get a feel for whether or not that selfishness was warranted. Or whether I was just being a brat and need to accommodate my husband more.

I guess that next time I air my dirty laundry I'll keep the bedroom door closed. Maybe some things are better left unsaid or at least spoken in close company over a beer at the kitchen table.

November 14, 2008

A Huge Helping of Indecision, with a Side of Guilt

That sound you hear that reminds you of rocks inside an empty soda can?

No worries. It's not something going horribly wrong on our car, it's just me and the thoughts bouncing around in my head. You'd think the cobwebs would muffle the sound somewhat but I guess not. Perhaps the cobwebs are so old they've turned to dust and have collected in the corners as they do in dank, dark attics.

The wee one turned two this week. Two. She's now been breathing on her own longer than it took for her to go from a twinkle in her father's eye to a bun in the oven. Two. How in the world did she get to be a toddler?

Wasn't it just last week that we saw that tiny little flicker of a heartbeat on an ultrasound screen? Yesterday that we strapped her into the carseat and drove more cautiously on the way home from the hospital than we ever have in our lives?

Growing up I thought I wanted 4 kids. 2 didn't seem to be enough; 3 was better but would give you the "middle child"; 4 seemed to be a good number. Perhaps the magic number. 2 children for each parent to wrangle. A family that would fit comfortably in a vehicle and a mid sized house around the dinner table but not big enough to draw stares and comments when out to dinner.

When I was diagnosed with endometriosis, my doctor recommended that I get pregnant quickly, have my children spaced as closely together as possible -- his recommendation was 18 months -- and then be done. As in a hysterectomy to minimize the hassle of the endo and the surge of symptoms over the years.

Then we walked the journey we did. 18 months of trying. 5 rounds of clomid. 2 miscarriages. A bout of depression. Weekly appointments with a therapist. A prescription of zoloft to pull me out of the pit of blackness. Innumerable tears and sleepless nights. Surgery to remove polyps.

Then I was pregnant. I thought that the worst of the journey was over but I was wrong. So very, very wrong. I hated being pregnant. I loved that we were going to be parents but the day to day of it stunk. There were days that I'd lay on the bathroom floor, too exhausted and sick to move and I'd cry. I'd cry because I hated the way I felt and wished for it to be over. Then I'd hate myself because I wasn't excited. We'd gone through so much to get where we were and I hated it. I wanted so desperately to be able to enjoy my pregnancy and to cherish the life growing inside of me.

I know that there are women who faced much worse than I did. I know that my struggles are a drop in the bucket compared to some. But it was the hardest thing I've ever faced. The span between May 2005 and November 2006 was the hardest 18 months of my life.

My desire to have 4 children quickly subsided when I began walking the path I did. I began saying that 1 would it. Our family would be complete with an only child. I agreed that when KT was 3, we'd discuss the slim chance of child #2.

I honestly don't know if my body can take all of that again. The enamel on my teeth is cracked from the hundreds of times I threw up; my gallbladder quit working; I am almost positive I have undiagnosed damage to my esophagus from the regurgitation of stomach acids; I have permanently broken blood vessels in my face. But more importantly than that, I don't think I can handle the emotional toll again.

The wee one turned 2 this week. I know that C wants more kids, at least 1 more. I know that he would be beside himself with joy to have a son. He's said that he wouldn't ever pressure me and he's fine if I'm done because I'm the one who has to "go through all of it".

I'm not ready tomorrow to even think about this. But it certainly makes me question my motives. When is it appropriate that my selfishness outweigh the desires of others?

What I thought was such an easy decision now has me scratching m yhead and making me feel incredibly guilty.

Maybe the guilt will pass.

Should it?

November 11, 2008

Thought for the Day

I'm not sure how two years can go by so quickly. We waited for what seemed like so long for her to come into our lives and it now the days feel as though they are slipping through our fingers.

Happy Birthday, my dear child. May you always follow your dreams and trust your heart.

We love you so much! You truly are a blessing and bring so much joy into our lives.



November 10, 2008

Today? Tomorrow? Next Week?

Tick.

Tick.

Tick.


With every second that lapses I get closer and closer to the fatal blue screen of death on my laptop. The IT "guy" for our area informed me that the hard drive on my work laptop is failing.

Fan-freakin-tastic.

I can't get people to respond to emails regarding work that they NEED to do. How am I going to get the approval for either a new hard drive or a new laptop?

Tick.

Tick.

Tick.

Will it quit today?

Will it self-destruct tomorrow? Doubtful on that as I'm taking tomorrow off.

Or will I spend the next couple of weeks wondering that if the next command I issue, or the next keystroke I type will be the last?

What a way to start the week.

November 2, 2008

Weird Tendencies

My canning season is officially winding down, thankfully!

The last batch of tomatoes is bubbling away in the canner on the stove at this very minute. The kitchen smells of cooked tomatoes; the dishwasher is washing up the remnants of time spent blanching and quartering fruit and the air is heavy with the humidity of simmering water. As I sit here and sip my wine my thoughts are interrupted by the unmistakable *tink* of lids sealing from previous batches.

It has been a very productive year and will do us well in the coming months.

This year's tally:
  • 46 quarts of canned tomatoes
  • 4 pints of canned tomatoes
  • 8 pints of canned salsa
  • 4 1/2 pints of pickled jalapenos
  • 2 quarts of tomato paste, frozen in ice cube sized portions
  • 22 pints of canned applesauce
  • 8 1/2 pints of canned apple butter
  • 5 quarts of frozen apple pie filling (1 quart = 1 pie)
  • 8 1/2 pints of raspberry jam
  • 8 1/2 pints of cherry jam
  • 8 1/2 pints of apricot jam
  • 4 pints of apricot jam
  • 3 gallon sized bags of frozen raspberries
  • 2 quart sized bags of frozen cherries (1 quart =1 cobbler)
  • 3 bags containing 6 cups of frozen cherries (6 cups = 1 pie)
  • 5 quart sized bags of frozen sweet corn
  • 6 quart sized bags of frozen whole pea pods
  • 4 quart sized bags of frozen shelled peas
  • 8 quart sized bags of green beans
Most of that was all from this year's garden. The apricots, cherries and half of the raspberries were courtesy of a friend's yard. Not too bad for my 1st attempt at growing stuff on my own property! That doesn't include everything that we consumed fresh and the produce that was distributed to friends.

When all tallied up, I might have spent $20 in ingredients for the salsa, pickled jalapenos, jams, pie filling, apple butter, etc. with sugar and pectin accounting for 75% of that cost. I did have to buy jars this year (as I certainly didn't expect to have this much stuff to can!) but those will be reused in future years and the freezer bags had some cost too. Even including jars and bags my grand total in expenses is around $75. I figure the jam and apple butter themselves are worth that much, if you were to buy it in the store so I've come out way ahead in terms of cost.

Time spent, and how much that is worth, is a completely different story. But it's worth it to know that my food doesn't have any preservatives in it, to know exactly what was applied to the plants for fertilizers/pesticides and to not have anything in the ingredient list that I cannot pronouce.

The weird quirk though, is that anytime I'm in the kitchen canning you can be guaranteed one thing...


October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

2006
In 2006 I was counting contractions, trying to stay off of my feet as much as possible and anxiously awaiting the impending arrival of our child. There was no costume involved in 2006 -- that's me in all my pregnant glory -- as I feared that very little would fit. I suppose I could have painted my protruding belly orange and gone as a jack o' lantern, but I'm sure that few people would have enjoyed the sight of me waddling my way through the subdivision.


2007
In 2007 I was counting teeth, trying to keep KT from pulling stuff of shelves and learning to deal with the tantrums that were increasing in frequency. We opted out of a costume for her first Halloween. She wasn't walking yet and we didn't feel the need to go door-to-door pillaging for candy that we would consume ourselves, unnecessarily.


2008
2008 has brought a whole new realm of experiences as you can see. All of the preparations this week have been riddled with tantrums and tears. We'll have 15 minutes that go really well and then we spend the rest of the hour trying to dissuade tears and calm the screaming. The intended costume (a ladybug) was received extremely poorly, as I had feared when taking the time to pull it together. She literally threw herself on the asphalt of the parking lot and laid there kicking her feet. It sounded as if we were torturing her by pulling out her fingernails one at a time. I was immediately ready to call it quits and C's coworkers chuckled from inside the office.

There is much more to say in regards to this year's Halloween activities but for now I'm occupied with doling out candy to the neighborhood kids and drinking my beer in between knocks at the door.

October 24, 2008

This *Will* Be Easier Next Year

Right?

We bought a camper late in the summer. Tent camping is no longer such a feasible option for weekend adventures now that Kate is here. Imagine 2 adults, a toddler and 2 dogs in a small tent. Ha! Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

We've taken the camper out once already this year and had a good time. It's nice in that we can get into the mountains in little over an hour so it's a fairly easy trip to take. The problem is packing to go. The first trip took me a better part of a week to get ready for. I unloaded a good portion of my house into the trailer as it was empty. I had to stock bedding, towels, plates/utensils, cookware, spices, food, toys, toiletries and whatever other random paraphernalia that was necessary for a weekend away.

This trip is hard because I'm in between. Some kitchenware was left in the trailer; bedding/towels were washed and immediately put back; dry good were left in the pantry. But things such as pots and pans were all brought back into the house. Random stuff like spatulas and can openers were rehomed in my kitchen. So I'm trying to figure out what needs to be taken back to the trailer and what is already there. And go figure, I can NOT find the list I put together for the first trip.

My goal is to have the trailer fully stocked next year. All we'll have to do is load clothes and perishable food (the pantry will stocked with dry goods) and pull out. I hope that it will make trips easier. I doubt it will, but it's nice to hope, isn't it?

October 22, 2008

So Far Behind

I've been bad, I'm sorry.

I'm juggling a million things and blogging has obviously been one of the first balls to get dropped. Ripening tomatoes, work emergencies, lab manuals, a teething toddler and volunteer quilt projects have taken higher priorities. And somewhere amidst all of that I got sucked into the black hole of F@cebook.

It's been so long since I've had a "real" post that I've reached the stage where it's hard to log in and write. It's just easier to avoid Blogger for yet another day.

Since the first step is the hardest and I'm about to complete that, my hope is that I'll pick this ball back up.

October 15, 2008

Remember

October 8, 2008

It's All Good


For the record, I started with 8 plants.

Shortly after I planted them, it frosted and I was certain they had died.

So my wonderful friend gave me some extras she had.
I planted 3 of them.
I fertilized the HELL out of everything.

Yeah.
All 11 survived.

OBVIOUSLY.

I might not plant any next year.

Who am I kidding??

I'll plant 2 plants.
It will be enough to give me fresh tomatoes.

My luck every plant I put in the ground next year will die.

October 7, 2008

This Could be Bad

Frost warning in effect for the next couple of nights. I'm headed out of town tonight for a workshop. So we spent last night cleaning the tomato plants in the garden to save the fruit from getting frosted.

11 plants gave us this (the box on the left that is full is 13" tall):


Which equated to this when spread out across the floor in the office:



I've already canned 12 quarts of tomatoes. The amount of tomatoes I canned is comparable to the big box in the top picture (the one on the bottom right). I have 12 empty quart jars downstairs and the stores I normally buy them at are all out.

This could be bad. Very, very bad.

September 28, 2008

A Mere 206

Back in early March, I posted about my cop-out on a much needed dentist appointment. I ended the post with this statement:

Wonder how many days it will take to actually reschedule it?


It took 206. Well, it took 203 days to make the phone call and an extra 3 to get in for an appointment (a cancellation). It was still way longer than it should have taken.

I will admit that I have horrible follow through at times. I forget to reschedule canceled appointments; I struggle to remember to return phone calls; I take forever to respond to emails. I've gotten so that I put things as tasks in my Outlook calendar, complete with reminder alarms and everything, so that I remember to do them.

Good news is that my teeth still look great. No cavities -- which I think is pretty impressive for being 30 years old! -- and the cracking on the enamel is minimal and nothing to be concerned about.

Downside to last Friday's visit was that it took the hygienist almost an hour to clean my teeth. My mouth was so incredibly sore the rest of the day. Thankfully the office has tv's on the ceiling above all the chairs so the patients can keep themselves occupied. Hopefully the next trip won't take nearly so long and won't be as painful. I suppose it is my punishment for going almost 1000 days between dentist appointments.

And yes. I scheduled my next visit before I even left the office.


September 24, 2008

Exercising My Rights

Regardless of whom I'm voting for, and what my stance on all of the propositions are...isn't it more important that I am voting at all? Isn't my mere desire to vote more important than the fact that I'm thinking about voting by absentee ballot because it truly is a struggle to take KT places on some days?

The last thing I want is for her to be having a bad day and I end up trying to drag a defiant, strong-willed toddler to the polling place where everyone looks at me like the evil-incarnate of Satan for letting her scream and distracting them.

Yeah.

But yet, I'm subtly criticized for opting to vote by absentee ballot. That's fantastic if you (generalizing, not pointing fingers at anyone specifically) have kids that are well behaved enough to take places and you can go fulfill your civic duty. I've had to walk out of the post office within minutes of getting in line due to tantrums and meltdowns because she's not allowed to run around freely.

I know there's a chance I can walk right in and barely wait at the polling place. But there's also a chance that she'll be screaming in the car before we even set foot on the asphalt of the parking lot. Or there's a chance that the lines will dictate me waiting with a ticking time bomb of a toddler. I do not want to risk not voting because of her unpredictability.

This state is swayed so far right, that it doesn't particularly matter if I vote or not (in terms of the presidential ballot). But I will because it's my right and I strongly believe in exercising that right.

I'll instill a sense of civic and community duty in my daughter when she's old enough to understand what's going on. And old enough to wait quietly with me in line. If that makes me a poor citizen then oh, well. I can live with that on my conscience.

I am NORMAL!

Yeah, I know. Many of you who know me in real life would argue that I could never be normal. It's all relative.

Tuesday nights I weigh in before working out. I wasn't expecting much of a loss, but was pleasantly surprised to see more than a pound (not much more, but still more) lost in the last 7 days.

Because of this...

MY BMI IS FINALLY "NORMAL"!!



This feels like a huge accomplishment. I'm so very slightly in the normal range that it's kind of funny but I'm there. I'm getting to where I want to be.

September 23, 2008

Letters to the Editor

One of the perks to my job is that I'm continuing to lengthen my publications list. My hope is that this will come in extremely handy when I begin searching for my next position.

When many people think of a job in research, they don't see a connection with writing. They envision people working in labs wearing funny goggles and crisp white lab coats.

Our research is so different from that. We plant seeds in fields, we look at different fertilizer rates, different ways of irrigating crops, crop rotations -- all in an attempt to minimize chemical applications, maximize water efficiency and help producers be sustainable.

No matter what the basis, research needs to be published to avoid it being repeated time and time again. Lengthy publications lists make researchers look accomplished and it helps to bring in funding.

So in our downtime I write. And write. And then edit and write some more. I actually enjoy doing it. I don't necessarily see myself as a "writer" but it comes with the territory of the job and it makes me more marketable.

Up until recently, all of my publications were in scientific journals. Stuff that is not read by most people; only looked up when someone is doing research themselves and needs to know what has already been done. I have my name on 9 journal articles (2 of which I'm the main author, the other 7 I'm a co-author). They're excellent to have on my publications list but they're not always practical if that makes sense.

Earlier this summer we put together a magazine article for an industry publication highlighting our project. It was published in September's magazine and it made me giddy to see the article in print. To actually be in a material that people READ! That everyday farmers might read and pay attention to! When the magazine came in the mail, I danced around the kitchen like a teenager who had just been kissed for the first time. Our article was even listed on the front cover! And I was the main author with my picture in the front under the section for the contributors...

In the grand scheme of things, a magazine article isn't viewed very highly, especially in research. To date though, it's been one of the greatest accomplishments in my career.




September 22, 2008

DIY Weekend

I'm the type of person who hates paying people to do something I could do myself. I'm sure this is a HUGE surprise to some of you. Sometimes, it is easier, and worth the money, to just pay to have it done (oil changes, as of late) but it still bugs me to see that transaction on the bank statement.

Sometimes though, I just can't justify the amount of money spent on things.

Our dogs grow fur like crazy. I honestly think that Logan must be part bear due to the amount of fur that sprouts from his skin. When I sweep my floors daily to keep the fur bunnies from attacking our feet as we eat meals at the table, I know the dogs need a haircut. To take both of them to the groomer costs us close to $80, not including a tip.
Alas! I have clippers. How hard can it be?


BEFORE



AFTER

Dakota was boycotting getting his picture taken this morning. He's not a morning person.


Truth be told, it isn't as easy as one would think. Or as easy as I originally thought. I'm still glad I did it myself and will continue to do it in the future. Logan's fur is weird, the texture(s) that is. You can't just put a guard on the clippers and run it up along his back -- they bog down. So you have to comb through it, grabbing a chunk of fur with the comb and then clipping that off. Sometimes in short increments to avoid the clippers screeching in protest. It's tedious. But 3 hours of work (it would be less if I had a grooming table and the ability to work non-stop) is well worth saving almost $100. I kid you not, there was half a trash can full of dog hair when all was said and done. Perhaps they needed haircuts a month ago. *oops*
Since my birthday I've also made a conscious effort to devout more time to my sewing/craft projects. I bought a new project book that is fantastic. This is the first project that I tackled over the weekend. It's a knitting needle roll.





I love how it turned out! The ever-present OCD in me means that as soon as I finished I came up with 4 ideas on how to make the next ones better. One benefit to my tweaking is that it makes it more "mine" and less the design of someone else.

September 20, 2008

Going Down, Down, Down

I haven't posted much lately about my WW progress. And I have been asked (thanks, Kris!) so I figured this was as good of a time as any to update.

The last couple of weeks have been hard to stay on track.

12 hour days driving from field to field to dig holes in the middle of nowhere doesn't leave much room for staying on track diet wise. We eat what we can, when we can and it usually entails something pushed through your car window that is wrapped in paper to contain the grease.

My water intake was at a miserable minimum as well. I drank what I needed to wash the dust out of my mouth, the grit out of my teeth and to give me the energy to dig another pit. Many of those days, I was the only female in the group. The only female amongst the most conservative (and gentlemanly!) guys I have ever and will ever know. You put me and them out in the middle of this potato country and there's no question why I limit my water consumption. Until you live out West, you don't understand how you can stand next to a vehicle and see FOR MILES. Miles without a tree to squat behind or even a shrub to help conceal my business. In that case, I'll hold it as long as I can. Which means drinking about 20 ounces of water when in the company of these men.

My days at the gym have been limited too. That hasn't been such an issue though. The bruises smattering my arms and legs attested to the hard labor. Hauling 5-gallon buckets of soil halfway across a field; digging trenches 12" deep and 20' long; hoisting 50 pound burlap sacks of potatoes in the bed of a pickup -- yeah, that beats a gym workout any day.

Through it all though, I keep inching closer and closer to my goal.

In 6 weeks I've lost almost 11 pounds. I have 6 left to get to my goal weight, so I'm 2/3's of the way there.

With the loss of just over a single pound, my BMI will drop to a point that will no longer classify as overweight. For the first time in as long as I can remember I will be "normal". It's nice to see that looming so closely.

My thighs are getting smaller, just not at the same rate as other parts of my body. It's a start though. I know my body type and my thighs will always be bigger; they will never be playboy worthy. I'm sure they will always rub together when I walk, but that's okay, it will keep me warm in winter.

September 19, 2008

Dangerously Delicious

It took 846 days of living in this town for me to find the LONE candy shop.

The shop that makes the most decadent chocolate truffles.

The shop that gives out copious amounts of free samples.

Not only was I allowed to taste numerous truffles (I stopped at 2 and allowed KT to easily eat half of each piece), the gentleman in the shop allowed my wide-eyed toddler to choose a candy stick of her liking.

Without any question, in the 10 minutes we were inside it quickly became a place that I will frequent when I need to either fulfill my chocolate craving, or purchase tasty treats for others.

Thankfully it is on the other side of town or I can imagine that it would wreak havoc with my wallet and my waistline.

September 17, 2008

The End is in Sight

At least, it's much more clear now than it was.

The grant money that pays my salary is done next June. We had submitted a pre-application to the same agency for another project. Word came in just now that our pre-ap has been denied.

Quote:
One of the 4 reviewers gave us a 30% score. That one irresponsible review probably threw us out of the running. He/She didn’t bother to give any specific details on the scoring (like the others did) and the only comment was “. . . . I can’t believe that this is new stuff”. My guess is that this person didn’t even read the proposal. One reviewer gave us a 98% and said that the proposal was the greatest.


This was my BIG hope for job security for another 2-3 years.

Damn. When the funding is gone, so will be my job.


This blows.

September 9, 2008

A Photo Journey

I figure that if I'm going to embarrass her, it's only fair that I embarrass myself as well...


New Year's Eve, 7th or 8th Grade

Freshman Year (1992)


Sophomore Year (1993)


Junior Year (1994/1995)


Senior Year

Senior Prom, 1996

Ode to the Baby

Today, the last person in my closest group of female friends hits the big 3-0!

Kristin and I have been friends for what seems like forever. Our friendship is the longest, consistent relationship (minus family of course) that I've had in my life and it means the world to me.

We met in Mrs. Geiger's 6th grade Language Arts/Literature class. As our school days went on, we formed a friendship that would serve to be invaluable for the rest of our lives. Although her fashion sense left a little to be desired at times (but what 6th grader in the late 80's really had good fashion sense anyways??), I quickly learned that she is an amazing person and fantastic friend.

High school brought more memories than I'll ever be able to recap. But suffice to say, those memories are peppered with Varsity basketball games (we kept stats for the team), 5 o'clock phone calls, Homecoming dances, the red LeBaron convertible, fashion shows and BOYS. Oh, the boys.

Our schedules were incredibly hectic and the circle of friends we individually "ran" with merged and separated over time but we always stayed close. All 4 years of High School we shared a locker, ensuring that we always stayed up to date with the current happenings of the other. Even if it was by eavesdropping on conversations.

4th of July in 1996, she introduced me to the first real love of my life. I was in a mess of stupid relationships (2 different guys at the same time, neither of which were worth the breath it took for me to say their names) and she called me to go to the fireworks with her, her boyfriend and one of her boyfriend's best friends. I hesitated to go, but desperately needed to get away from the drama in my love life. Little did I know that night would be the beginning of a relationship that would consume the next 27 months and help to define the rest of my life. The relationship that would begin to show me who I really was, what I really wanted in life, and that only I could go after the things I wanted.

When he and I broke up in '98, Kristin was still involved with his best friend. For the 1st time in over 10 years, our friendship fractured. It was too hard to stay in contact when her significant other thought I was the spawn of Satan.

A year later we picked back up. A semester in Nepal had brought me to C, and she had become involved with someone new as well. Within a few conversations we were back to where we had been years before, as though things had never changed.

3 years ago, we found ourselves in a place that changed both of our lives tremendously. I was battling with 2 miscarriages and she was pregnant, struggling to be considerate to my thoughts/feelings and yet make sure that I felt included in her excitement. That Fall rolled around and her extremely uneventful and easy pregnant took a turn and she found herself in and out of the hospital with complications. Baby Girl V wasn't due until February but kept threatening (pre-term labor) to make an early appearance. I jokingly said one day that I had a due date in December '06 that I wasn't going to use, that she could have it if she wanted. It was agreed upon that V needed to wait until much past that date to make her appearance.

Hours before my alarm was to go off on December 9th (the due date we had joked about), my phone rang with the news that turned a dreaded date into a joyous one. Victoria had made her appearance almost 12 weeks early and faced a challenging journey in the NICU unit after her birth.

Shortly after the Christmas holiday, I received a phone call that reduced me to a heap of tears in the parking lot of Wal-Mart in Pt. Huron, Michigan and talked of a cruel twist of fate that saved Kristin's life. Although my writing will never do it justice, it was discovered that much of Kristin's abdomen was full of infection and required a full hysterectomy (and more) to save her life. As Victoria was valiantly fighting in the NICU, Kristin and Rod were given the news that she would never have any biological siblings.

For many weeks after that phone call I cried. I cried for what Kris had been through; I cried for the journey they still faced with V's NICU stay; I cried for the incredible love shown by Rod; I cried for what they would never experience again. And I cried, time and time again for the simple reason that I still had my friend. That I have the chance to make more memories as our lives go on.



Happy Birthday, my wonderful friend. May today and the days forthcoming be filled with love, laughter and happiness. I'm so glad you've been given the opportunity to see today.




Technical difficulties are stopping me from posting more embarrassing pictures. They'll come within the next few days, I promise.



September 4, 2008

"Cancer Can Kiss My Ass"

It can kiss mine too.

One of my fellow "villagers" (thanks for that term, Jen) has been dealt a shitty hand. If I try to go into detail, my computer screen will merge into a blur of colors and lines from the blinding hot tears.

All we know for now is there are "lumps/enlargements". More than the lump she initially found on her neck. Now we wait for a definitive diagnosis and more importantly, a prognosis.

Damn, this sucks.

House of Waffles

There isn't any way to leave comments, but I'm sure she'll notice the increase in visitors and feel the support.


August 27, 2008

Batteries are Charged

Although only 9 o'clock on Wednesday night, I feel as though I've already made my way through much more of the week.

At 7:37 this morning, with arm outstretched and palm upturned, I handed the keys to my rental car over to the local Enterprise agent. It was checked out exactly 48 hours earlier; to be returned with a considerable amount of soil in the interior (my guess is probably close to a 3-gallon bucket), on odor that lacks appropriate descriptors and 1297 miles on the odometer.

I'm exhausted -- actually exhausted doesn't even begin to describe the degree of fatigue -- but recharged at the same time. For more reasons than one, this is a trip that I needed to take. Not only for business reasons but personal ones as well.

I learned that even though I'm getting older, I can still drive 1000 miles in a single day and get up the next day to hit the road again.

I learned that not all of Oregon is green and lush.

I learned that some collaborators really do want to complete their share of the work.

I learned that the wind can blow so hard, and pick up so much dust that it's impossible to see more than 3 feet in front of your car.

I learned that bug swarms can be so thick across the interstate that it looks like a Michigan blizzard in January.

I learned that some friendships can pick up like they never missed a day. Even after more than 2 years.

I learned that some places can change significantly, yet still feel the very same.

I learned that I am valued as a scientist.

I learned that people will play softball no matter what life throws at them.

I learned that coming around corners will always make you look for someone at a computer, even if you know they're now thousands of miles away in Indiana.

I learned that the paths I've walked will always remain in my thoughts; the memories to collect dust but never completely fade away.

I learned that life carries on when I'm not at home.

I learned that although there are days where I doubt decisions I've made, or question the place I'm in, I don't regret a thing. It may not be where I thought I'd be, but it is a great place to be.


"No, life ain't always beautiful
But I know I'll be fine
Hey, life ain't always beautiful
But its a beautiful ride
What a beautiful ride."


From Idaho into Oregon, back to Idaho and on to Utah, then finally back to Idaho, I learned that it is a beautiful ride, indeed.

August 14, 2008

Tagged!

Flying Monkeys tagged me on her blog. This is the first I've ever actually responded to one of these. I'm not sure if that means I really like her or just don't want to listen to her bitch when I don't actually follow through. Hahaha! Run over to her hang out if you're looking for a laugh; complain to her if you'd rather that you never learned the 6 things I'm about to divulge.

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Post the rules to your blog
3. Write 6 random things about myself
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them
5. Let each person you have tagged know by leaving a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is posted.

Here are my 6 random things:


1.) I leave wrappers in my car. Gum wrappers, straw wrappers, candy wrappers, etc. You can usually find them in the little pocket on the driver's side door or in the console between the front seats. It drives C up the wall (which is perhaps why I continue to do it) but I figure that it's a minor infraction. My vehicle is usually fairly clean and free of clutter.


2.) I never snuck out of the house as a teenager. Never had the need to. I would just tell my folks that I was going out, and they'd typically let me go. Only once did I get caught telling them I'd be one place and actually went someplace else. I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I wasn't where I told my Mom I'd be. I was a goodie-goodie.


3.) Folding clothes is the least favorite of all household chores. Most of the time, the clean clothes are either left in the dryer to wrinkle or throw on the bedroom floor at the foot of our bed. If I don't bring them into the living room and fold them immediately, the chance that they'll be folded within a week of them being washed are low. On average, 1 out of 20 loads gets folded immediately.


4.) I'm horrible at finishing sewing/quilting/crafting projects. There are numerous projects in various stages of completion in my guest room. I love to start things and am all fired up about them initially. As the project goes on, I tend to get busy and find other things to occupy my time. Projects then get put away. the longer it's been since I've worked on one, the hardest it is to get involved with it again. My goal is to start taking time once a week and working on them. To give me a sense of accomplishment for one, but to also just have some time to myself.


5.) I had to have my wisdom teeth extracted back in 2001 or 2002. It's the only time that I've ever had dental work done. Never had a cavity that needed filled. Although this could change significantly considering I haven't been to the dentist since 2006.


6.) There are times that I really wonder if I was ready to be a parent. Not just the typical, "what did I get myself into" days. Days that I wonder if I was old enough, mature enough, or had enough patience to take on the responsibility for another human being. Those thoughts usually creep in on the days that I'm overwhelmed with work and trying to juggle too much. It makes me feel guilty that I have those thoughts.


I'm tagging:

August 13, 2008

Holy Weight Watchers!

I weighed in tonight at the gym. The last time I weighed was the beginning of last week. I'm down a little over 6 pounds since then! And down almost 1.5% body fat since the last time I had it measured.

Granted, I was sick with the flu for 2 days last week. But, wow. I didn't expect to see the numbers I did. Guess there's no question as to whether the online program works for me.

Sign me up for 3 more months!

August 10, 2008

Broken Volume

We've lived in Idaho for over 2 years now. There are things that I've talked about doing every since we moved up here. The same issues have been raised time and time again because I felt like it needed to be addressed. It's always been set aside because it's not pertinent at the moment.

Funny how when it appears as though said things could become an issue, it becomes important. Somehow it's construed as my fault that it never got done, no matter the effort I have already put forth. No matter that it was ultimately someone else in the house who let the matter fall to the wayside as it didn't need to be done right then. And when the realization hits that it's going to be an issue, let's get pissy and obnoxious. We all know how much that solves things.

Whatever.

I might as well save my energy. No matter how hard I try to suggest stuff, nor how loudly I do so, it's irrelevant until the urgency smacks he who has the highest testosterone level in this house, squarely upside the head.

August 7, 2008

7-Day Trial Motivation

I signed up this morning for the 7-day free online trial of Weight Watcher$. I'm undecided as to whether I want to follow the program online, or attend meetings. So the 7-day trial will help give me an idea of whether or not I can do this on my own. Hopefully by the middle of next week I'll have a better idea if I need online or face-to-face support.

It's a start.

August 5, 2008

Just a Tease

4 days of posts in a row last week.

Man, I was on a roll!

And then nothing for almost 7 days. How's that for a tease?



I've come down with a serious case of writer's block. Perhaps it's because I sapped my creativity by writing 4 days in a row. Perhaps it's because I'm trying to write a manuscript for work, yet again. Perhaps it's because writing 4 days in a row took a great deal of effort and commitment. Much more so than my lazy (and inconsistent) self can handle.

I'm going to put on my big girl panties and admit that although it's a combination of the 3, the greatest culprit is the last.

I suck at consistency, no matter how hard I try.

I'd apologize but that would mean mustering up some effort.

Plus, it's not like you really care anyways.