Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Kick-Me-in-the-Head-Mas!


Bwaaaa Haaaa Haaaaaaaaaa!
This holiday's almost over, and I've experienced almost NO stress--
Wahooooooooooooooo!

www.nataliedee.com

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bleah, #2:

Sleeeeeeeeeeeepy! I'm sleeeeepy, and I really need to be focusing more on what I need to do to get the hell out of Dodge, twice. It's fairly obvious that I function best when I'm under pressure, so I think I'll just put the packing off until the very last minute, which'll probably work for trip #1, but considering I have to celebrate GOL-DARN CHRISTMAS with the family only moments after we get back from said trip #1 (leaving zero time to do laundry), *and* having a wee bit o surgery the next day (with a lovely sea weed wrap beforehand...so don't pity me), and then leaving for 4 days of (work) camp the following day... when O when will I get time to pack for trip #2? If it weren't for this stinkin holiday that I feel obligated to "celebrate" (as if eating fattening foods and seeing family members in an identical fashion to every holiday or birthday that comes around constitutes "celebration"... how about setting something on fire, a 'la "Burning Man", or blowing something up for a change? What about setting off fireworks, or for the love of mike just singing drunken showtunes... *anything* has to be better than standing around paying homage to the Season 'o the Flabby Ass we're *really* celebrating....) I'd have plenty of time for household unpleasantries.
Anyhoo, I'm sickly and crabby and need another nap.
In the meantime, enjoy this public service announcement:

Ain't that the truth...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bleah!

3 Ways My Life Might Just Suck More Than Yours Right Now:

1) We're going to an $$ waterpark for Christmas this weekend, and my period is scheduled to arrive any day now. And I have a cold. Boo.
2) I just found out today that not only am I going to have surgery next week (the day before I head to camp), but a root canal the following week (and have a cavity that needs filling), and am likely due for an MRI and arthroscopic knee procedure. The last 2, of course, could only be scheduled after the first of the year, AFTER I already paid my premiums for 2007. Argh!
3) Both the cat AND the puppy have tapeworms (uh, because the puppy likes to eat "kitty snacks"). I found this out after finding the nasty evidence all over my BED. Ack!

http://www.nataliedee.com/
Ok... pity me if you must.

The Koehler Family Christmas Card:



Santa done brought us them new stairs for the trailer this year. Ain't they nice? An' lookit how big Daisy is gettin! Gracy weren't in the picture 'cause she's workin' a double at the WalMart an' Jacob's doin another run in juvie, but his p.o. sez if he stops settin them fires he'll be out real soon. We're as proud as can be! Marry Christmas, ya'll!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Things I'd Like To Peruse, Once I Have the Time....

All from Rod Dreher, al la Crunchy Con:

Schools

Time

College

Best Political Ad EVER:

Now, I am by no means a political person; I gave that a whirl waaaaay back in my pre-voting days, and I failed miserably (I even had the misfortune of campaigning for an appalling dink of a candidate whoshallremainnameless...).
But this political ad shows chutzpah, huevos if you will. And it made me laugh, which is just the opposite of the "I'd rather stab myself in the eye than watch more of this crap" sort of sensation I usually feel when I make the mistake of turning on the telly in an election year:



Don't get me wrong, tho. I can't imagine this is enough to convince me to actually VOTE for the guy.... but still, *anybody* but Hillary. That woman frightens me.

Monday, December 3, 2007

I <3 <3 Goodwill!

Look at what $9.99 can buy you at your local Goodwill store:


I am the luckiest girl with the sparkle-tacularist tree in the

WHOLE, WIDE WORLD!
p.s. this is what the animals do when they think no one's looking:

Praline Sweet Potatoes

Ask, and you shall receive (all things in life should be so gratifying!)

4 cups mashed sweet potatoes (if using a canned variety with syrup, make sure to drain them and use less sugar. I use fresh, bake them until squashy, and mash them in the mixer)
1/4 cup white sugar (+ or minus to taste)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 tsp finely chopped ginger (or 1/2 tsp powdered)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg(all spices to taste)
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup heavy cream (or the milk of your choice)
Topping:1/2 stick (real) butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
DIRECTIONS
Butter one 2 quart casserole dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a mixing bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, sugar, vanilla extract, eggs and cream. Blend well, and spread evenly in casserole dish. Prepare the topping by using a pastry cutter or 2 knives to mix the butter, brown sugar and flour into a crumble. Mix in pecans, and sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Bake for 30 minutes to an hour in the preheated oven (depending on the size of your dish-- mine was small and packed full, so it took longer).

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sweet Potato Muffins

1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbs packed light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup mashed sweet potato (one small)
3 tbs melted butter
1/4 cup milk
2 tbs finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 tbs chopped pecans

Grease 9 muffin tins of a 12 cup tin. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In large bowl, combine dry ingredients, stir well.
In another bowl, blend egg, sweet potato, butter, and milk. Blend well.
Stir dry ingredients into wet, mixing gently. Stir in ginger and pecans.
Spoon batter into muffin cups. Fill the 3 empty cups half full with water.
Bake muffins 18 minutes or until golden.
Cool muffins in tin on rack 5 minutes. Remove, and cool completely.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Like My Wine Cheap and My Burgers Overpriced:

I'm starting to scare myself.... yesterday, I engaged in a frenzied spate of organization to beat all frenzies (is that a word?):
In the short span of my afternoon, I moved the computer desk and 2 bookshelves, vacuumed, shampooed the carpet, organized the bookshelves, the closet, the shoe rack, the music CD's, photo and computer discs into their own books, sent 5 bags to the Goodwill, moved furniture and random crap into the basement (which is a nightmare for another day...), cleaned up and moved our personal files/records, and set up a greeting card file (I have a monster greeting card collection, mainly 'cause I buy them and never give them to anyone. Garrrrrr). Oh, and I dusted. Man! Is there a lot of thick, creepy dust in my personal space...
We then concluded the evening by checking out a veritable carnivale of dining at the Red Robin-- an incredibly overpriced and overstimulating hamburger joint jam packed with kids (tip: relish on a burger is not so good, I don't care *how* hungry you are. It brings a hot-doggy sort of flavor to a place where none makes sense). I was shocked to discover that those sliders and fries were a whopping $8+ dollars apiece! The burgers were pretty good, just more $$ than I had imagined a simple burger could be....and the fries were those ginormous steak fries, which are not my favorite. I must be getting old, when going out is almost too expensive for my cheapness.
Anyhoo. We also saw "Mr Magorium's Emporium" which was ok as well, I just guess I'm not the type than can blow almost $100 to eat burgers and see a flick and be ok with mediocrity. The story line was wimpy at best and I didn't much care for the characters, except for the litle boy who was a bit quirky and reminded me of Jacob. However, if *my* little guy brings home a grown man who wants to "play" in his bedroom, I'm a-gettin' my shotgun, no questions asked.
I'd have to say that the best part of the film was when they played one of my favorite Cat Stevens tunes, which got me hopeful that the movie was going someplace cool, but it really didn't. Boo.
Truly, the best part of the evening was getting to play with my new GPS unit, which will look up restaurants, attractions, etc for you, making neurotic planning obsolete-- I can hop in my car, punch in a few coordinates, and let my GPS decide where we're going, which pleases my spontaneous nature to no end. It wasn't 100% up to date (why?), but it impressed me by easily locating every *other* Red Robin in the country (other than the one we were headed towards), and every *other* theater in a 50 mile radius (again, except the one we wanted). But, despite it's shortcomings, I still love it and find it very comforting. Never shall I be lost again!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

$2.99 Wine is Mighty Fine!

I have absolutely, like, ZERO readers for my blog, as if I needed yet another validation of my shameless lack of popularity....
But anyhoo, I am flat-out INTOXICATED at 9:14 in the pm on a fine Sunday evening. MY husband is gone until tomorrow in a primal pursuit of sustenance for our family; and altho I know it is baaaaad mojo to be incapacitated in his absence-- a drunken slob I am, and a giddy one at that. I am incredibly fucking happy to be on my very own right now, and I'm trying to ascertain whether it is due to the fact that I just like being alone, or if it is that I am enjoying the rare opportunity to do whatever I want, however I want to (i.e. waking at 6, hanging out until 8 or so reading and fucking around, and then sleeping until 10. THAT is a cool way to spend a Sunday morning, and who'd a thunk? And *how guilty* I'd feel if I had my peppy life partner home, who springs up at 6 am and completes whole lists of tasks while I slumber...)
In all honesty, I'd like a month or so to myself to rediscover who I am when I have no safety net to fall back on (and, no-- I don't mean forever. I'm mad crazy about my husband, contrary to my bitching... and I don't want to jinx it!). I want to see if I have the huevos to run to Hales Corners all by my lonesome in desperation for the fabled "Best Chinese Food Around" (a la "Fortune"), or if I'd go to the vast reaches of the art district in Milwaukee in search of Friday night entertainment (or if the rumors that I'm a hopeless homebody are, in fact, true). Would I run off to Austin for a weekend of narcissistic memories, as I used to do? Would I make the drive to see odd films at a historic theatre in Downtown Chicago? Or would I use "expensive gas" as the excuse for my evening date with the Blockbuster movie club? Who the hell knows.
I could kick myself today, as I was a mere block from Brady street on a pretty fine walking sort of afternoon. I guess driving in my car is preferrable to making the leap to hanging out in coolness in a nifty area.... but I have to give myself credit, as it hasn't been that long ago that I was too inhibited to venture to such places by myself... any excuse to hang out up there in any capacity is a step forward.
I've been lucky all these years that I've had a convenient excuse for not venturing too far beyond my comfort zone while the kids were young. I think it's time to start expanding THEIR horizons, tho-- especially since we've chosen to incubate their young minds in a rural setting. A fabulous trip to Austin might just do the trick... I'd like them to see that the world is SO much bigger than the limited one we are able to present to them. I'm not sure if it's the limitations of my perceptions, my fears about security, etc... but there's only so much I'm able to show my kids, so much less than I thought I'd be able to. Mainly because they don't travel well, because it's expensive, because by the time I get past the irritations of travelling with 3 other people I have no energy left to push myself past my own comfort zone and explore and share the world... whatever.
I thought I'd be in a much more secure place than I am now; financially, emotionally..... but it would have required so much more of a commitment than I have been willing to make, more costly sacrifices to my choices-- so the trade off has been worth it. I am poor, but I am sane. I am grounded, and so still have marginal relationships with my offspring, my husband. Seems like a fair trade off to me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Skydiving

I'm bored and I'm tired and a wee bit sick 'o everything...it's 8:30, and I'm still waiting for the coffee to kick in (as I usually am). I was granted a reprieve this morning on the hell schedule, as I was cancelled from my new job that requires me to be present and functional in the workplace at 6:30 am (egads!)... it went well last Friday on my first day, but working 12 hours *and* having to be there sooooooo early is far from ideal.
I worked yesterday at one of my old standby positions, one that I love and was hoping to call my permanent home-- but since I'm not part of the union and not eligible to post for jobs until the union ladies cast it off as undesirable, I never had a chance.
At this point, I envision myself wandering aimlessly thru the hospital halls, in eternal search of a job to call my very own. But realistically, I should look at my homelessness as a gift-- one that frees me from bullshit politics and the inevitable cattiness of the woman dominated workplace.
Right now, all I have to do is go to work: I drift in as an outsider, do my thing, stay out of trouble, and then I go home. Where else can you enjoy this type of wage and this kind of freedom? Nowhere.

But part of me longs for the misery of attachment, lamenting my fate of having to beg and barter for days off, showing up for and participating in awful unit meetings, negotiating the personalities I've heard about but never had to seriously deal with... sigh!

I'm a self destructive idiot.

I think part of the problem is the threat of living hand to mouth, never having any guarantee of set hours per week, where I'll be working, etc. But truth be told, I've never had a problem finding hours, and since I'm trained to work almost 10 different departments (with more training to come), I can't imagine having more than a few dry days-- and not being completely grateful for the days off I *do* get, as I am now (slacker that I am...).

Funny, tho-- for all the places I *do* work, I had my annual competency check-offs last night, and I was really horrified at how little I knew about the meat and potatoes of my profession: I had no clue about the creepy hoyer lifts and restraints... I felt bad about that until I realized that so few of the other staff knew how to use them either (even the instructor). I my mind, tho, I was doing a happy little dance that I didn't have to use those things. Somehow, I got wrangled into getting strapped into one that sits you up so you can get your feeble ass onto the toilet. The CNA who strapped me in said jokingly: "when you're done, call me so I can wipe your butt", and I had the awful premonition of what it must be like to be old and sickly. EEEEEEKKKKK!!!!!

Just another plug for taking up skydiving, smoking, and illicit sex and drug use in my 80's. That George Bush (Sr) really has the right idea jumping out of airplanes-- Rock On, old dude!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Ziti with Sausage Onions and Fennel

Ingredients: FOR THE SAUCE
1 pound sweet Italian sausage (without fennel seeds)
1 large fennel bulb with stem and fronds (about 1 pound)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups half-moon onion slices (about 2 medium onions)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon peperoncino flakes
1/2 cup tomato paste
Boiling water from the pasta cooking pot
FOR THE PASTA AND FINISHING
1 tablespoon kosher salt (for the pasta cooking water)
1 pound ziti
1/3 cup finely chopped fennel fronds
1 cup freshly grated pecorino (or Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano)

Directions: Heat 6 quarts of water with the tablespoon kosher salt to boiling in the pasta cooking pot.
Remove the sausage from its casing and break the meat up a bit with your fingers.
Trim the fennel bulb. Slice the bulb in half lengthwise, then slice each half in 1/4-inch thick lengthwise slices. Separate the slivers of fennel if they are attached at the bottom; cut the long slivers in half so you have about 3 cups of 2-inch long matchsticks of fennel.
Have the remaining sauce ingredients ready and nearby.
MAKING THE SAUCE AND COOKING THE PASTA SIMULTANEOUSLY,
Pour the olive oil into the skillet and set it over medium-high heat. Add the sausage meat and cook, stirring and breaking it up more with a wooden spoon, until it is sizzling and beginning to brown, about 1-1/2 minutes.
Push the sausage a bit aside and drop the onion slices into a clear part of the pan; sauté, stirring, they're sizzling and wilting, another 2 minutes or so, then stir them in with the meat.
Clear a space and drop in the fennel; let it heat up and wilt for 1 minute or more, then stir it around with the sausage and onions.
Sprinkle on 1/4 teaspoon salt; drop the peperoncino in a hot spot and toast the flakes for 1/2 minute, then stir them in.
Clear a good-sized hot spot in the center of the pan, plop in the tomato paste and cook, stirring it in the spot for a good minute or more, until it is sizzling and caramelizing; then stir it in with everything else.
Ladle 3 cups of boiling pasta water from the pot into the skillet, stir well and bring the liquid to a boil. Adjust the heat to maintain an active simmer all over the pan.
Drop the ziti in the boiling water in the pasta pot. Stir and bring back to the boil.
Cook about 8 minutes (a minute less than what is recommended on the package)
until the ziti are not quite al dente.
Continue to simmer the sauce until the flavors have developed and the fennel is
soft but not mushy, 6 minutes or more. The sauce should not get too thick: stir in
another cup or 2 of boiling pasta water, if it reduces rapidly. When the sauce is
done, taste it and add more salt if you want. If the pasta is not ready, turn down
the heat to keep the sauce at a very low simmer until the ziti are on their way—
then turn the heat up.
As soon as the ziti are ready by your timing, lift them out of the pot with a spider. Let excess water drip off only for an instant and drop the wet cylinders into the simmering sauce.
Start tossing pasta and sauce together; ladle in more water if the sauce seems too thick.
Sprinkle over the chopped fennel fronds and continue to cook and toss the ziti in the skillet for 2 minutes or until they are perfectly al dente and coated with sauce. If the pasta appears dry, ladle in more hot pasta water; if it is soupy, cook rapidly to thicken the sauce.
FINISHING THE PASTA
Remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle the grated cheese over the ziti and toss it in. Serve the hot pasta right from the skillet into warm pasta bowls.

Meatball Chili Stew

This is an old favorite, gleaned from a Pace Picante sauce flyer that was sent to my husband (and addressed to an old girlfriend of his, which oughtta tell you how old the flyer is). I thought it was about time I got this one recorded for posterity, since there's no telling just how long the flyer will be with us (it's a miracle that it's stuck around this long...)

For meatballs, mix together:
1/2 cup salsa
1 # ground meat (I prefer lean turkey)
1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips
1 egg
1/4 tsp garlic powder

form into 1 inch meatballs and bake on a rimmed, foil lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes

In a large soup pot, mix together and heat to a simmer:
1 can 28 oz whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp chili powder (to taste)
1 cup + salsa
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2-1 cup frozen corn, or 1/2 can hominy, rinsed and drained
1 tsp beef bouillon

add meatballs and heat, covered, an additional 10 minutes. Adjust the seasonings to taste and serve with chopped cilantro, shredded cheese (or plain yogurt-- my favorite!)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Mr Hankey Comes One Month Early (Must've been all that fiber...)

Ahhh! Could WalMart put up their Christmas displays any earlier? In honor of this year's obvious attempt to make the Christmas season even *more* irritating and irrelevant, here's my new favorite holiday tribute:



I could watch this over and over and over again.....

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

I *STOLE* this recipe from another blogsite and hope to make it this evening for my hubby's return from the forest. He's been kind enough to spend the weekend hunting and gathering to try and fill our newly empty freezer. In his honor, I think I'm going to make a buffalo roast with potatoes, carrots, and the remaining delicata squash from our garden (man! I'm going to miss those!). This afternoon, I'm going with my friend Tracey to my new favorite place in the midwest: Whole Foods. I know it's very sad that I'm surrounded by scads of natural beauty with the fall colors, Great Lakes and all, but dammit! I love natural food shopping... I feel as if I have finally stumbled upon my people, where the cream puff eating, smoking, cheap beer swillers fear to tread. It's a bee-yoooooou-ti-ful day for a roadtrip!

Pumpkin Bread PuddingAdapted from Gourmet Magazine, October 2007
I made a few of my own adaptations to this, using only milk and no cream (to me, it makes no difference in dishes like this, so I figure I’ll save the calories), and doubling almost all of the spices. Oh, and I added bourbon, but you probably anticipated that.
1½ cups whole milk (Or 1 cup heavy cream plus ½ cup whole milk)¾ cup canned solid-pack pumpkin½ cup sugar2 large eggs plus 1 yolk½ teaspoon salt1 teaspoon ground cinnamon½ teaspoon ground ginger1/8 teaspoon ground allspicePinch of ground cloves2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)5 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old baguette or crusty bread¾ stick unsalted butter, melted* (can skip this step if using the second set of instructions)
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Gourmet’s Instructions: Whisk together pumpkin, cream, milk, sugar, eggs, yolk, salt, spices and bourbon, if using, in a bowl.
Toss bread cubes with butter in another bowl, then add pumpkin mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish and bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes.
Alternate, Come On, Be Lazy With Me, instructions: While preheating oven to 350°F with rack in middle, melt butter in bottom of a 8-inch square baking dish. Once it is melted, take it out of the oven and toss bread cubes with butter, coating thoroughly. In a separate bowl, whisk together all the remaining ingredients. Pour them over buttered bread cubes in baking dish, stirring to make sure all pieces are evenly coated. Bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Doggy Dating:

Ms. Fanny came over this afternoon, and after a couple hours of gentle to intense effort she warmed up a *little*, as in "I'm not too happy about this, but I guess I'll acknowledge your presence if you're gonna keep bugging me". I'd say she was petrified for a good 97% of the time, but showed a couple brief glimpses of her true doggie nature.

I was very surprised that Jake worked with her one-on-one for the entire time-- he did really well with her.

But... he just doesn't feel that she's the dog we're looking for, and after today I'd honestly have to agree with him.

I miss the energy and excitement that Molly had, not just for us, but for everyone and everything. And maybe I'm mistaken into thinking that she'd have that same open-ness when she was fully grown, but I'd at least like to *try* and avoid getting a shy dog, given 1/2 a chance.

(and in this case, no one could say we weren't aware of her issues from the get-go. We *really* tried today, more than I even thought we would.)

I picked up about 5 dog books from the library (as is the custom of my people-- academic and nerdy, interacting with the world primarily thru the pages of a book), and all of them cautioned against the shy dog. I myself am shy enough, and in a very small way look to my pets to be the bridge between me and the outside world. I'm not enough of a crusader to be able to stand up for my shortcomings in the social dept and then somehow be able navigate the social quirks of my dog (which is why I'm such a hapless parent-- I'm never sure if I can deal with both their oddities and mine at the same time. I'm just not that coordinated.)

Anyhoo, all this "romancing the dog" hoop-de-do reminds me of this ditty I found at a gal's blog whom I find particularly acerbic and witty:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ms. Fanny

We went to the rescue group today to meet with Ms. Fanny: she's smaller than Molly was, a little more petite, and she's SHY. Very, very shy.
So shy, in fact, that she cowered behind the legs of her rescue "mom" and barely visited with us.
This makes me really sad.
Jake shot me a clear "no way, Jose" look after our visit that broke my heart, knowing that without his blessing, he'll try his hardest not to bond with her.

Jake is forever accusing me of making him do things/accept things he doesn't want to, and I know he's 100% right. I also know, tho, that he hasn't wanted much of *anything* for the majority of the time I've known him, and life would be pretty quiet and empty if it wasn't for my efforts.

The rescue family is coming out tomorrow for a visit (and I should be cleaning, I guess), but I'm sad, knowing that although I'm certain I could love this dog and make her mine, once again it isn't perfect (and once again, I'll have to try twice as hard to convince everyone that it is. As always, I have enough enthusiasm for everyone-- but it's getting a little tiresome).

Friday, October 26, 2007

OOOOoops!

Ok, so unless lasagna and Milky Way bars are included in the fasting diet, I've completely messed up. Ohwell... so shoot me, already.



In a fit of sadness, I logged on to the Petfinder.com site in search of adult brittanys. As fate would have it, there is an adult female available in Oak Creek, a Miss Fanny (bananney, as I'm sure she would come to be known) And......... not only is she a very pretty girl, but she is a *relative* of Miss Molly!!! She came from the same breeder, and thus probably has a parent in common somewhere. How cool is that?!

OK, I know it's probably too soon to think about getting another brittany, but **I MISS MY GIRL**. I need another soft belly to rub and ears to scratch, a big sweet girl to walk and hug and love. Ug. I'm still so sad.

Rescuing a britt would fall in so well with my life long pattern of standing up for the underdog (and in this case, pun completely intended). I loves me a reject, an outcast-- I love to save the day. I would rescue 10 dogs if I could, if only to have a pack of cast-offs to call my very own. I love the chaos, the energy, the undying adoration of my dogs. But with Molly gone (snif!), I no longer have a pack, and it's just too quiet and lonely about the house. We have a tentative appt to meet her tomorrow afternoon; I'm giddy at the prospect. I'm sad, but I'm hopeful. And the electric fence is on it's way... but as the shithole of fate would have it, it's obviously arriving a week too late for my Molly. Boo and double boo. Boo times a million. (fanny bananney one more time. I'm such a glutton for punishment. She looks sad, doesn't she?)

Freaky Fast, day 2:

Day 2 is progressing a bit better than day 1; I'm not so hungry or spacey feeling, I have more energy... I had another blueberry smoothie this am, only I added some matcha green tea powder and some ginger to the mix-- which made it even more fabulous...
I was even able to exercise a little, doing the "Bellydance Workout" (which is really simple, anyway). I would have preferred to go to the gym, but since I'm taking all those "cleansers" (aka herbal laxatives), I'm a little afraid of leaving the house. But..... so far, nothing's happened. They say it takes 2 days at least to process the food that you've eaten prior to the fast, and this appears to be true. And, fuckaduck, I weighed a whole .5 pound less this am, only to find I'd gained it back and then some an hour later (which I know is BS, but an anecdote worth mentioning...). Whatever.

But anyway:
Can I tell you a secret?
Really-- are you sure?
OK, here goes:

I secretly can't stand it when my kids are home with me during the school year.
gasp!!! horrors!!!

It's mostly 'cause I feel obligated to find something spectacular to do with them, usually don't have any clue what to do, and then in desperation, eventually try to get them to do chores at some point in the day-- which they avoid like the plague all day long. Plus, they sleep until 11 (who can blame them), and probably don't want to do anything either-- which I think makes THEM feel guilty, for not wanting to do anything with mom. Boo. Ah! The great cycle of family guilt and obligation... it's never to early to start.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Update:

Ok, I've cheated again (altho, considering I'm making this up as I go along, it's really only cheating if I consider it to be, right?): I broke down and ate a Wha Guru chew, which is basically just nuts and agave syrup and wheat germ, and a banana. I suck at starving myself, having exhausted all my willpower in my pre-adolescent annie-rexic stage. (damn!)
I also completely caved and opened a bottle of organic wine I was saving (for just such an occasion, no?). And oooooooh-- the wine really hits you when you're not terribly full..... wheeeeee!

I've been reading a book this evening in my semi-intoxicated state, "The New Work of Dogs"--ironically written by a Mr. John Katz (snort!). His basic premise is that we, in our modern-day isolation, have set up pockets of loneliness that we look to animals to fill.
I could totally relate to that... I have minimal relationships with my family, very few friends that can get together and play, I'm married to an "invisible man" (a la "
Deal Breakers"), and my kids aren't too excited to hang with ol' mom these days... so the logical thought, then, is to meet my needs for socialization and intimacy with an animal that can't grow older and tire of my attentions, can't argue with me over finances-- and unless it chews up my favorite shoes, shits on the floor one too many times, or dies unexpectedly, won't disappoint me in ways that humans can oh so easily. Ewwww.... sounds very pathological, yet so very satisfying. And since a dog won't care if I'm CHUBBY or have a second helping of cake, God love 'em, I'm thinking he's spot-on in his analysis.
Now should this information make me feel bad, somehow-- or just enlightened?
I'm not sure.
I've tried for many a year to make friends, work on my relationship with my family, my husband, do fun things with my kids, etc-- and most of my efforts were head banging-ly short of success. Bummer.

Sooooooooo, I've grown weary of trying, and I'm ready for my dog now, please. And maybe a vibrator to go with it, if it's not too much trouble.... (and a snickers bar. and maybe some Taco Bell.... that would be awesome! Thanks.)

Day One:

I think I've already started to cheat a bit on the juice fast... for breakfast this am, instead of juice I made a blueberry smoothie with soy yogurt, almond milk, ground flax meal, and wild blueberries-- tasty! I also had an apple for a snack and a carrot-apple-cabbage-celery-ginger-romaine juice for lunch. I'm not too hungry, but considering I've done almost NOTHING all day, that's not a huge surprise;-)
I've been waiting *all day* to hear back from a lady if she has time for me to come up and meet her 18 month old dog she's looking to adopt out. I don't want to do the puppy mess all over if I can help it, which is why I'm looking at an older dog, but I know that's what Jake wants. He wasn't super helpful with training Molly, so I'm sure that letting a puppy out in the middle of the night, dealing with chewed up shoes, etc, wasn't a big deal to him, but it was hard on me for all those months. But neither he nor I want to deal with another neurotic adult dog that bites... man! It's like a dating service, only it's for a pet you'll have for the rest of it's life. Here's to hoping it works out...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Juice Fast...

Yes, I have succumbed to the wiles of the "21 Pounds in 21 Days" theory that you can lose obscene amounts of weight just by starving yourself for a lengthy period of time-- how novel!!
Sounds suspiciously like an eating disorder to me, but if it'll get me past that magic number I plateaued at several weeks ago, I'm all for it....

So here's the deal (and no, my fasting books haven't come to the library yet, so I'm making it up thus far. How complicated can starving yourself really be?):
1) All the freshly prepared juices I want. I just went to the store and bought a bunch of apples, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, ginger, kale, and celery. I also have a boatload of beets still in the garden that I can use. Now that Jacob discovered how amazing the apple ginger juice tastes, I may have to fight him off for use of the juicer, little booger. I have some protein powder I can use and some silky tofu to mix in if I feel the need for a little more substance in my juice (is that cheating?)
2) I'm also doing a detox/cleanse using "Nature's Secret" Ultimate Cleanse. I have been soooooo- ahem- *stanky* since I stopped the artificial sweeteners, drinking coffee and milk, etc. I can't help but wonder if I'm detoxing a little bit already, but very slooooowly. I hate being smelly, esp when I'm in Zumba class and I catch a whiff of myself-- egads! Never has this delicate flower of a woman had the stink pits (ok, the "delicate flower" is a bunch of BS, but I've really never been one to even *wear* deodorant, let alone need one).
3) Avoiding meat (meat juice? I guess that makes sense), dairy, eggs, ALCOHOL (that one alone will have me losing weight right off the bat for SURE, once I make it thru the DT's. Exactly how many kcals are in a "Chocolate City Martini" anyway? How about in 3?)

I am only going to aim for fasting from today (wed eve) to Sunday eve, since I expect to have some pretty hairy days at my new position M/T/W. My lab draws are bad enough without trying to poke people on an empty stomach. I'll just have to do my best to prepare something nutritious and avoid the evil candy buckets strategically placed in each department to make me crazy.
Anyhoo, if this works, I've already saved myself at least $100 over the Isagenix program, which makes me feel all warm inside... fresh juices would have to taste better and be more nutritious than some "food-like" tablets and another crappy shake mix. The ingredients in the Ultimate Cleanse are exactly what I've been looking for, too, and I expect that it'll work really well with the other herbal therapies I've been using.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rest in Peace, Miss Molly:

Last night, about this time, our Miss Molly was hit by a car and killed instantly. We laid her to rest this afternoon in a shady spot between 2 cedars, a spot in the tall grass that she loved.

We will miss her terribly:-(

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Meh!

It's been a goofy week, but pleasantly so.
Yet...
I cannot for the LIFE of me believe that the end of October is fast approaching... and I've only lost 10 #!!!!! I've been exercising to megadoses of ibuprofen with much limping at least 3 times a week, watching what I eat-- and lost only 10# since-- what-- August???!!
I'm ready to resort to some more extreme measures, such as starting a fasting program like Isagenix, but the part of my brain that is somewhat keen on spotting a scam has thus far overruled my desperation. I've even resorted to coercion with my hubby, with wild tales of "I'll lose 10 pounds in a week if I eat only chocolate flavored tablets and water!!!!!" And while I'm sure he'd like to see 10# less of me (and should I worry about that?), I don't even think his reptilian brain will win over the cheap genes that make up most of our genetic structure.
And although I haven't lost a great deal of weight for all my efforts, I can see much more definition in my arms, more toned muscles in my thighs and butt-- which of course, makes my flabby belly all the more noticable (maybe lipo is the answer...). I guess a flabby belly isn't the greatest weight gain tragedy, unless you consider that my belly was flat only moments after both my kids were born, and that it took a job I *hated*, not the traditional baby weight, to screw up my body for these past few years. Boo.
I *am* worried, however, that when I lose the weight for good, I'll still look like a boxy Brunhilda, just a few pounds lighter. (I come from sturdy, fat, German people, so I'm afraid that when all is said and done, I'll still look like a chub, only slightly skinnier. Does that make sense, or am I the victim of the worst Body Dysmorphic Disorder ever?)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

HoHo No!

natalie dee
nataliedee.com

I've been crabby in my head for a few days (i.e. nobody knows I'm crabby but me, which can get a little exhausting pretending not to be the crabby bitch you *really* are all day long) .


Sometimes the lunacy of the world and it's inhabitants really gets to me; the selfishness, the denial, the narcissism... (and that's just in my immediate family! 'nuff said).


Part of it, too, is that I can tell it's getting close to the "Holiday Season" (you know, that reeeeeeeeeeeeally long stretch of time before Halloween, which lasts until 5 minutes after the presents are opened)-- the season that triggers anxiety that it's soon going to be dark ALL THE TIME, that I'm going to be perilously tapped out for funds and stressed about $ between now until February, that I'm going to be coerced with much guilt to participate in traditions that are meaningless to me and mine (even tho we're the only practicing Christians in our entire family, but 'nuff said about that as well).


Some random woman came into my office the other day and talked my ear off, which strangely enough, seems to happen frequently when I work over there. She mentioned with much enthusiasm that she was getting her breathtakingly fabulous X-Mas decorations out this weekend, and bemoaned that fact that OTHER members of her extended family HARDLY DECORATED AT ALL!!!!


...as if that was some kind of blasphemous crime against all children everywhere.


So let's just get this out in the open: I hate to decorate!!


I hate to drag a bunch of dusty crap out of the cobwebby, musty, spidery basement, haul it upstairs, clear out all my regular junk (all of which is dusty and neglected, too, as I'm not a fan of dealing with the everyday crap, either...), find a spot for the everyday stuff, and spend scads of time throwing the sparkly stuff around, like I'm some sort of undiscovered Las Vegas interior decorator...... only to have to clear it all out in a few weeks.


Drudgery, pure drudgery, I tell you. Just more thankless shit I feel womanly-obligated to do in a long line of thankless tasks. Bleck. I wouldn't mind putting up the groovy silver tinsel stuff I got from the Target at 75% off clearance a couple years ago if I could leave it up all year round (it goes oh so well with the Pee Wee Herman/Monkeys Drinking Coffee motif I have going on in the dining room). We DID leave up the glittery disco ball I got from Pier One on mega clearance all year, but I'm not sure if that was a stroke of decorating genius or sheer laziness (it goes well with my funky e-bay paintings... but then again, what doesn't?)

Not to mention the sheer "I don't get it-ness" of the Halloween season. Wouldn't it just be easier to skip the elaborate costume and buy a couple bags of snack size candybars for your very own? You could get exactly what you want (leaving those icky peanut nuggets at the store where they belong), and save yourself the trouble of trying to pretend you're really not 15 years old and scamming for candy. I suppose Jacob's still young enough to participate, but he never gets interested until the day before, or day *of* Trick or Treating, and try scrounging up a costume THEN. And what's with all the dead people stuff, too-- the disembodied heads, the ghouls, witches, etc? Dead people are not in the least bit entertaining, and have the capacity to smell REALLY bad, and only the goofiest of the goofy people believe in ghosts (we have a whole group of ghost hunters out here in sticks-ville. OOOOOOoooooweOOoooooooooo. Losers.)-- and witches? Worshipping trees and the elements of the earth is not creepy, it's comical. And maybe a little sad.
Case in point: I went to a pagan gathering in my day and witnessed a "Pagan Wedding" that was held in the nude, and the happy couple had to hop in the back of a hot van while bound at the wrists and consummate their "vows" while everyone tried not to stare at the everyone else's wrinkles and rolls. It was naaaaasssstay! Especially when the betrothed hopped out of the van all sweaty and drippy; it was an ewwwwww moment that I will never forget.
Anyhoo, life is going very well otherwise. I've been working just enough to keep me from going crazy and being broke (I have a loooong stretch in the next couple weeks where I'm not working much-- God help us all! Nothing goes better with boredom than shoping and endless, cyclical rumination). I've been thinking about trying something different for the holiday season (I do this every year, with no success)-- maybe a trip somewhere, where we can leave shortly before the hard core festivities begin, and arrive back home just in time to have missed them all (whoopsie!). But I know that guilt will prevent me from making any progress. Boo (no pun intended). Any suggestions?


Friday, October 5, 2007

Later.....

Yay! Summer's finally over!! I couldn't be happier, 'cause it's too damn hot, and I never feel like doing *anything* for like, 2 whole months... this was a bit of a crappy summer, too, since it was either waaaay too dry and scorching or pouring down rain and mosquito-ey (I've never see so many blood thirsty mosquitos in my whole freaking LIFE as I have this summer. It was gawd-awful!)
For the most part, my life as I know it (gardening, baking, knitting, biking, blogging, etc), comes to a screeching halt when temps go much higher than 75 degrees. I'm not sure if was in some kind of coma for all that time, but I really can't remember a whole lot of what I did while I wasn't doing anything I like to do (working, cleaning and sleeping, probably).
I tried to clean up the gardens today, but we're in the midst of a freakish October hot spell and I was dripping in sweat (as in, profuse dripping in the eyeballs kind of sweat) only 10 minutes after starting... but I still managed to deadhead all the rudbeckias, echinacea, and phlox (note to self: PRUNE BACK THE ASTERS IN JUNE/JULY! THEY LOOK LIKE CRAP!!!!!) and spread the seeds in the prairie. I have a huge stash of seed heads in the chicken coop which I'd like to spread once Jake mows the prairie (so the seeds will have a fighting chance to get established)-- fun! I love playing "prairie princess", knowing that each and every plant up there was started by ME (a very God-like experience... and I am not a jealous God, unless too many honeysuckle or goldenrods take over and then it's all about death and destruction....).
For the most part, everything has been ok: jobs are going well, the kids aren't screwing up too bad (even tho ms. gracy pants got SUSPENDED from school last week; loooooong story, and far too stupid to repeat here. On a positive note, she got her temps license today, which completely blows my mind with disbelief...but we haven't gone driving yet).
Jacob has been vacillating wildly between slacking in his schoolwork and being mr. awesome... wtf? We have to meet in a week or so to figure out a "plan" for his "giftedness".... the plan is not even legally binding and is probably a source of much future irritation, but I'll give it a shot, which in my complete lack of emotion leaves me to wonder: Am I too medicated to care (and no, I'm not really medicated, but these herbs I've been taking for stress have taken me to a MUCH happier place)? Have I evolved beyond worrying about stupid stuff like this? Or have I entered survival mode, as in: "I've survived the middle school years and a kid who is a wee bit of a fuck up (purely due to genetics; the poor kid never had a chance and is doing 100% better than both parents did) and am going to take it day by day or I might just completely lose my mind" sort of mode?

I think that's it.

There are so many things I'd like to do before the cold weather sets in, like: take more motorcycle rides (I've taken no more than a couple ALL SUMMER, most of which were in the past week. I went to East Troy with Jake today, and it was wonderful!), a day trip to Madison (bike riding) and Chicago, a trip to the Chicago Botanic Gradens, ride the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, whatever and whatever... I'd really like to plan a trip to Florida for this winter, but we'll see exactly how much apathy the family shows for such things and how much it'll bum me out and if it'll keep me from making plans. Where, oh where are the fun people? I certainly didn't give birth to or marry them...It's as if my hubby and kids are in a continual stupor where nothing exciting happens and they're perfectly happy with that.... sigh! To be so restless and yet so completely tied down. Boo.
I took a few photos of the remaining flowers on the property; I wish I had posted some photos from earlier in the summer, but I've been a terrible slacker. Here's a few:




Saturday, September 1, 2007

slEEEEEEEEEEEEEEpy........

I slept most of the day away, from getting up at 10 this morning to the 4 hour nap I took this afternoon (watching the Zumba DVD's I got in the mail today was EXHAUSTING!). Which leads me to ask: "Who, oh why, am I so tired?"

Is it my inability to move without pain today after my childish attempt to prove my "bad-assness" at the gym?
Was it my emotional exhaustion at starting (yet!) another job this week (in addition to the several others I have, mind you)???
(And no, it didn't go well-- with all the mayhem at remembering what each Doc requires (and then having a different one show up than the one you prepped for instead of the one listed on the schedule) and the lady who acted like she was stroking out on the table in front of me (and I'm there completely ALONE), to being strongarmed into picking up way too many hours in Neuro.... let's just say it was a week to be endured, and slept away like a bad dream.)

I baked 5 dozen Door County cherry chocolate cupcakes (with whipped chocolate ganache frosting) tonight to ease the pain; but of course, due to my diet and excellent weight loss I can't in good conscience eat any of them. We're having a family picnic tomorrow, so I can attempt to live vicariously thru the people who will be eating all the junk I can't: sausages, mayonaise salads, chips, fabulous cupcakes, etc. It'll be great to see everyone and catch up on all the family dirt I never hear about since I live so far away;-) My aunt's family is pretty funny and cool, which has always made me wonder if I was born into the wrong family... tee hee. My baby sister Cathy is a very cool girl, but not nearly as feisty as she was before she became a new mom again and aspired to become a responsible adult. My kids are older now, so I have been able to go back to my goofy old self again, instead of pretending I'm some sort of role model for the next generation.... and all I can say is-- wahoo!
Well, the only downside to sleeping all day is that you're up at 11:53 all by your lonesome with nothing to do...

Friday, August 31, 2007

Spa Day

Yay! Summer's nearly over, and not a moment too soon... I'm not sure if it's the guilt from the neglect of my children over the summer months or the loss of the blissful routine we fought hard to develop, but I'm sick to death of endless summer days with nothing for the kids to do while I'm at work (and really, with camp it's only been 3 weeks of boredom for Grace and 2 for Jacob, but that's been plenty for all of us). I actually stooped to bribing them today with cash to take a bike ride into town for treats at the coffee shop. Kids these days.... bribed with cheesecake and chai to actually get off their butts and do something. Sheesh!
We had a decent summer, with a super nice camping trip (Jake did all the prep, and it was blissful!), with 30 miles of bike riding thru the woods and along Lake Michigan and Thai food waiting in town; it doesn't get any more ideal than that! I wish we would have done more bike riding, but I suppose there's plenty of time for that as the weather gets more temperate for long bike rides.

Tracey and I did another "spa day" yesterday: 31/2 hours of pure aerobic bliss (or hell, depending on your perspective...), that started with an hour of Zumba, an hour of Boot Camp (that would be the hell part; the instructor took one look at us and let us know that we could "drop out" at any time... as IF! I can barely walk today after the Bosu, the sprinting, the jump roping, the stepper, the stairs, the ab crunches, and the weight lifting.... but I'll be 'a Gol Danged if some skinny 20-something was going to see me limp out of class like the fat, middle aged gal I am!), a 1/2 hour of sweating in the sauna, a dozen of so laps in the pool, and a few minutes in the hot tub. I felt empowered like I haven't in a long time; I could barely tie up my yoga pants afterwards, I was so sore and tired-- but completely happy! I might be chubby and dumpy now, but I see now that underneath lies the heart and body of an athlete who can kick butt with the best of 'em.
p.s. I've lost 10 pounds, and probably gained a ton of muscle in the past month and 1/2. I am limping slowly towards the muscled body of my dreams... hooray! Now, if I could only do something about my crappy hair...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Home Again...

The summer of camp has officially ended-- let's hear a yippity yahooey for no more barfing kids, itchy bug bites, and sore throats! I have never been soooooo glad to see a sickly group of kids go home to their parents, more than I could keep track of.
For you epidemiologists out there:
What kind of stomach bug results in one dramatic urp, and affects almost 20 kids? Nothing I've ever heard of, that's for sure... but when scads of kids turn up after unleashing the One Big Barf and want to sleep in the sick room, it'll not only have you scratching your head in wonder, but beseeching the heavens for what you've done so wrong to be denied sleep for 6 days and left to clean drippy piles of vomit hither and yon.

I got to help restrain an angry 8 year old who repeatedly called me and another counselor "bitches" as we dragged him thru camp, which would have been mildly entertaining if everyone wasn't so upset about it. I wasn't sure if it would have been appropriate to say "no, I'M the bitch, but SHE'S the HO"... (ba dum dum!); for a kid with such a broad vocabulary, I thought he'd see the humor in it, but I'm not so sure anyone else would have.
I got mr. monkey boy calmed down after he unleashed his rage by violently smashing his head into the chest of the director (she has a nasty bruise on her, ahem, mammary gland-- shall we say...). Maybe I have a special connection with the emotionally disturbed... not like that's too hard to fathom.
Jacob and I caught the creeping crud that circulated thru camp all week: sore throat, nasal drainage with congestion, etc and etc. Jacob got a nice rub down before bed tonight with Vics, the humidifier with eucalyptus oil, and some cold medicine-- boy! I missed babying my own kids (who are too damn tough to come looking for cough drops while at camp, god bless 'em!) All I can hope is that my immune system kicks in before Monday, when I have to return to the Real World of Work. Sleep would help, but I've grown accustomed to sleeping with one eye opened, listening for late night retching.
It's soooooooo good to be home!


The baby chicken's first eggs

Saturday, August 11, 2007

RIP Laptop

Argh!
I've had my new laptop a grand total of 5 months, and I've already killed it.
The dog splashed a very small amount of coffee on the keyboard yesterday (less than a couple tablespoons-- but don't ask how... the dog's been acting crazy lately), and now the computer's dead-er than a doornail. Boo.
I hooked up my geriatric desktop to the internet, but it's jammed with Grace's music and sloooooooooooooooooow! (and a fairly crappy computer, too.)
I'll check if the laptop will startup on its own tomorrow, and if not, I'll take it in to see if it can be repaired.
I hate it when perfectly good stuff gets wrecked, as if I needed further proof that we are always one small coffee spill away from certain disaster.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Dinner!/Cherry Tomato Salsa, Pickled Beet Salad

Tonight, my hubby and I mustered up the ambition to tackle the tangled mess we call a garden:
After much sweating and swearing, we extracted some good sized ears of corn, a ton of beets, some onions, cilantro, jalepenos, and at least a million yellow pear and cherry tomatoes (and a child sized zucchini we named "Bob").

I love planning dinner around the summer garden; we had some amazing buffalo steaks, fresh corn, beet salad, and salsa with chips tonight, with cold slices of yellow watermelon for dessert. It doesn't get any better than this!
Now, if I can only find a recipe for Bob...

Cherry Tomato Salsa
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
2 jalepenos, finely diced (include some seeds if you like some heat)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters (chopped if you prefer)
2 tb fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients and chill

Pickled Beet Salad:
5 cups beets, boiled, peeled, and sliced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 tsp whole allspice
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1/2 inch cinnamon stick
couple peppercorns
1/3 cup sugar
Boil vinegar, water, sugar and spices for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour mixture over beets, stir to coat, and chill.


http://www.nataliedee.com/


p.s. completely unrelated country-girl fact:
if you give a mouse to a chicken, the chicken will eat it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Television Epiphanies:

I am soooo totally calling in sick tomorrow; I worked 11 hours today with a blazing headache and a sore throat, seeing double all day from wearing an ancient pair of glasses ('cause Molly ate my glasses yesterday, little monster). It was non-stop running for 11 hours straight, and I still feel like I'm moving, even tho I've been standing still for a few hours now.

I'm supposed to be training for yet ANOTHER job in the am, and although I know I should never turn my nose up at paid employment (and I heard that this job is amazing, working with fantastic people), I'm just not thrilled to be taking on more responsibility right now:
I need a break. I'm tired as hell and resentful that I have been working so much, and continue to be responsible for 99% of the household and children, as if the fact that I'm skilled, knowledgeable, and highly paid still only qualifies me to be the resident underwear scrubber in the household.

I have become middle America in my exhaustion, and as such, have been watching endless hours of television tonight to numb the pain: I watched an hour of "Wife Swap" and an hour and a half of the beginning of "Gray's Anatomy" on DVD tonight, bleah.
I know that they make everything soooooo obvious in the medical shows, but I found such excitement at trying to guess the implied diagnoses: "Tetralogy of Fallot!", "PE!", as if anyone in the household cared that I used to be a whiz about all things obscure and medical.
When I watch these medical shows, I can intuitively see why I chose the "mommy route" over 48 hour shifts of a 7 year residency; the two don't seem terribly compatible, unless you have an incredible amount of help (which I don't).

Is it considered lost potential to give up a lucrative, rewarding career to raise your family (even if nobody gives a rip but you)? I've known more than a couple (female) Drs who has given up full time practice to raise their kids (or left practice altogether), so I know I'm not alone at acknowledging the challenges. But a part of me wonders what could have been, had I not limited my options in the ways that I did.
Under different circumstances... who knows what I could have accomplished.
But, no matter. I knew what I was getting myself into when I fell headlong into this situation, and feel confident that I will eventually work my way out of it. Someday.

I was also pondering this evening (whilst perusing the quality show: "Wife Swap", where a nice Christian lady swaps with a fallen pastor and his drunken punk rock wife) if the main reason I have lost intetest in the church of late was that I ultimately realized what bullshit my abilities are to fulfil God's plan to be a good wife and mother: since my hubby wants me to work (and be his "partner", as he insists), how is it possible that I can be available to maintain an organized, peaceful household? I can't, Goddamnit.
I tell you, he's gotten what he wanted; I'm working all right, but there's no peace or order in THIS household, and we've not taken a single vacation in years (like I'm going to tromp off to the wilderness NOW like we used to-- when would I get laundry done and the house clean if we're gone for the weekend? Who would pack and prepare for a week away when I'm gone all day, every day? No one, that's who. So we don't go. )
I love love love working and having $$$ to spend on eating out (who can cook after an 11 hour day?), pre planned vacations (Disney Cruise!!!), and paying for expensive stuff so I can get away with ignoring the children... but deep down, I know that it sucks, and it makes me mad. Mad that I accomodate what I know is wrong, because I'm weary of feeling insecure because I'm not giving my husband what he wants. And he's not happy anyway, as if there was some way I could DO even more, BE even more.
Anyhoo... (deep breath). Enough bitchin'.
TV puts me in a complain-ey frame of mind, and I really need a day off, if for nothing else but to finnagle a new pair of glasses, register Grace for school, un-register her for CC, figure out her transportation with the bus co, pay the day care (like I was supposed to LAST WEEK), get the dog in for shots, and any and all such unresolved family crap that is solely my domain, as resident underwear scrubber and bullshit juggler.

Friday, July 20, 2007

3 Pounds, 17 more to go..

It's been 10 days, and I've lost a grand total of 3 whole pounds! (if I can trust the junky Wal Mart scale that reads something completely different everytime you step on it, even 30 seconds later).
It's mega birthday season, with Jake's, Jacob's and various family member's birthdays all falling within a short period of time. With all the cake and crap food circulating around, it's a wonder I've lost anything at all (if indeed I really have...).
I threw a healthy food birthday party for Jacob, which was fantastic: snacks were grapes, 3 types of melon, those Flat Earth chips, and low sugar (aspartame free) juice drinks. The kids could have cared less than if it was Doritos and dip, they loved it anyway. My mom threw the tiniest monkey wrench into the mix by offering coney dogs (??), chips, and broccoli-cauliflower salad (which I love, but is full of FAT), but I abstained fairly well. Jacob's cake was probably the best I've ever made, with a new recipe of milk chocolate meringue frosting I made up (tastes like the filling from a Milky Way candy bar), and I only had a little tiny sliver, which was painful as all get-out.

I worked my ASS off yesterday in the gym; I was nasty sweaty and actually kind of smelly after 45 minutes on the elliptical (Thusday night TV is the BEST for mindless exercise, as is the B-52's "Private Idaho" and the Prodigy's "Voodoo People"), 20 minutes of weights, and another 10 on the slidy thingy before they kicked me out at closing time. Man! I love to exercise! When I think of all the things I could do if I only had the time, it blows my mind: I could be buff and slim, speak several languages, go back to school (I'm thinking Nurse Anesthetist these days... I love to put people to sleep. I think I'd also like to work as a NP/PA in the ER/Urgent Care, as I love to suture and deal with bloody messes, too. Decisions, decisions...)

Now that the kids are getting older I can see the fruits of my labors and see my way to the finish line, where I can spend more time pursuing the things I put on hold to raise them: hobbies, exercise, self improvement, education and career; things I knew would interfere with my being fully there for them while they were young. I am soooooo ready to get some of those things back, my lean, muscled body being one of them.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hell Week, #2

Rah Rah Rah!
3/4 of Hell week is completed (Hell week #2), which, to be perfectly honest, really hasn't been in the least bit Hellish... it's actually been kind of FUN.

Yesterday was the only crunch day, where no one brought their films, films weren't delivered, Cerner was down, charts were missing... but it calmed down fairly quickly as the morning progressed. I made a patient hopping mad and had to deal with that (because I didn't give him what he wanted), but it was the only *truly* stressful part of the day. Yippie! I survived!
Tomorrow is the Neurosurgeon's clinic, with 20 some odd patients to manage in usually under 4 hours. I'll wear my running shoes and be sure to jack myself up on coffee and sudafed for the am, and hope for the best. So far, so good!

I have been DIETING, if anyone is at all interested... I started taking that Alli product, which is supposed to prevent absorbtion of fat into your digestive system. However, rather than use it as an excuse to pig out, I've been treating it as a sort of Antabuse for chubbies, as I am soooooooo afraid of the so-called "treatment effects"-- the cramps, uncontrollable BM's and "greasy gas" you can get from eating too much fat. Ack! As if! I'd have to quit my job and move out of town if I had some sort of greasy gas/uncontrollable GI issue in public somewhere, and as such I've been avoiding treats and fatty foods altogether. No cakes, no potato salad, no Culver's.
And of course, I've not lost a pound. Boo.

It's been fun running around like a crazy person working and such, but I'm really looking forward to having some time off with the kids (and by myself!).

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Time Suckerrrrrrrr.....

Life has been frenetic at best, and I hope when all is said and done, I am filthy stinking rich for all my troubles... I've been working an insane amount of hours, and hating (almost) every minute of it. Boo.
I worked 10 hours in Neuro today, and finally told my co-worker that I was going home-- she was planning on staying another hour or so, which blows my mind. I am simply PRAYING that I don't get overwhelmed next week while filling in for her-- what a shitty job! I anticipate ignoring the phones as much as I can get away with, telling people that the regular nurse will be back soon to help them out, and skating by with as little trauma as possible (to mySELF!).
I couldn't function if I knew I had to go to that job each and every day; it never ends, the endless phone calls that lead to six more inane phone calls (can you tell I HATE talking on the phone?), that ultimately lead to telling hard working people that for some ridiculous reason, their insurance company won't pay for this medication or that important test...
I knew the world was crazy, but I really had NO idea the extent to which we all are fucked: the Government couldn't help *itself* out of a national disaster (I learned this horrifying fact during my stint in Public Health), and the medical racket relies primarily (solely) on a handful of insanely overpriced meds, paid for by aforementioned hardworking people, so Doctors and Nurses can stuff their already overstuffed asses with Drug Rep food and the "professionally poor" can save their $ for more important things, like cars and clothes (and trips to Florida, as one of our Medicaid patients is doing for the second time this year. I'd just like to be able to go to the stinkin' Dells for a couple days!). Oh, and passing the buck so many times to other providers that are likely not covered by your insurance to the extent that you will gratefully give up pursuing a "cure" to just be done with the whole mess.

Note to self: don't get sick.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Crappy Friday

This post may venture into the realm of TMI (as in "Too Much Information"), so read at your own risk, keeping in mind the limits of whining you're able to tolerate in one sitting.

Today sucked, rather royally....and there are so many aspects of it that I should be grateful for, yet I'm bitchin' nonetheless (which makes me feel worse, actually).

Ok.
So I agreed to work for a co-worker today in GI, which is great, but in order to do so, I screwed up my one and only prime opportunity to learn how to do Neuro. Picking up the shift meant that I would receive call in bonus $, and I would receive a substantial amount more than my base rate of pay.... which should make me happyhappyhappy ($4o some odd bucks an hour, yippieyahooey!) but, ungrateful whiner that I am, I'm just mopey.
Pay now or pay later has always been my motto... and I now have a deep feeling of dread that I may have gotten paid more now, only to be in great pain later when I am dying in Neuro all by my clueless self in a couple weeks. Shit!
My payback of the day, however, was that we were short staffed in GI, so my day was a tragedy of errors, starting early this am with a desperate, crabby mom and a horribly sluggish boy who didn't want to go to daycare. Mom was crabby with the poor daycare lady, skipped breakfast and coffee due to a lack of time (and I forgot a snack!), and hit the floor running on empty and ready to go back home and crawl back into bed.
I was sent home after the crazy morning rush at 1300, ready to get some house work done, only to find that Molly had shit neatly in a corner of her cage. She was shit-free for a brief, shining moment, but when she saw me she immediately started doing the happy dance in the poo, covering herself with it, and spraying it in every direction: all over my uniform, the cage, the carpet...Fuck. I managed to tie her outside to un-smear herself in the grass while I tried to extract the mess from the kennel.
That done, and after breaking my espresso carafe, I was near catatonic and ready to call it a day.
After an unsuccessful attempt to sleep my troubles away (a nasty sinus headache, a noisy, stinky puppy, and a couple mosquitoes made sure of that), I tried my best to drown my sorrows in chocolate. Sadly, no deal (I made chocolate chip cookie cupcakes... not bad, but ineffective as a mood elevator. Now I just feel like a fatty).
I finally broke down and tried my last resort: a bath to drown my sorrows in, which almost always makes me feel better. And wonder of all wonders, my husband, whom I have been crabbing about all week, came and surprised me with a glass of wine and an offer of help.
So, with his assistance, I am now scrubby clean and feeling a million times better, and even though I am moving into a hell week to surpass all hellish weeks, things are looking rosier. Or at least, less suicidal. Well, slightly less.

Sex. The fantastic cure-all. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Yikes...

The first day back at "real" work is always the hardest... but Neuro is a logistical nightmare! The staff training me started work this morning at 6 am, and was "thrilled" to be getting out of there as early as she did (which was just shy of 6 pm). Ack! I'm already feeling oppressed, and I've only been back one day. Boo.
Camp called today, too, and wants me to work as much as I can next week, which will be primarily comprised of working my ass off in GI in the am, Neuro in the PM, and then driving off to camp for the night-- and who knows if I'd sleep or not, depending on what the kids are doing. Um... I don't think it'll work out. I feel sick and exhausted just thinking about it.
They also want me to work the first week of the 2 week session I'm helping out with, but I really don't want to do that, either. I want my life back, with my kids and my husband. I want to take a cheesy vacation, even if it means I have to cook my own food and clean up every once in a while.
Fuck! I'm bummed.
If God wanted me to work sooooooo hard at my places of employment, He wouldn't have given me a family that can barely keep themselves fed and alive in my absense-- right?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bye, Bye, Baby:

I'm going to miss my Gracy Pants. I remember when she was a tiny little baby, just like it was yesterday... and now she's practically grown, training to be a counselor, and gone for the next 4 weeks. Getting old is hell... (tee hee)

UPDATE: Allright... I guess I'm not the only one who's going thru Gracy withdrawal. Her poor, beleaguered boyfriend has called me **3** times in the past 14 hours to check if I've seen her or talked to her, which he knows is fairly impossible.
I told him I'd try to sneak him in tonight for a few minutes, but I know I could get all of us in a heap o trouble.... it'll be like the underground railroad of teen angst. I remember, tho, what it was like to be in the fresh bloom of young love, all those many years ago (not like the crusty, ant bitten love of middle age).

Ants!

Ok. It's 5:30 in the morning and I was just awoken, in my own bed, covered with biting ants. I think I was bitten on my freaking eyelid, for God's sake...
For some reason only beknownst to the ants, there was a mass migration from under the house by the back patio to parts north. Millions and millions of ants covered the patio.
Poor little Molly was standing by the back door waiting to get in, covered herself with ants, and then jumped into bed with me (thanks, Jake!). When I finally awoke from a deep sleep, itching and crushing ant bodies, screeching "WTF?!?", my oh so sweet husband calmly announced: "they're ants, and Molly's covered with them" (and now, so are you).

While I escaped with only a handfull of bites, Molly writhed and howled for a good 10 minutes.
Now I'm fully awake, 2 hours earlier than intended, having swept a gagillion ants to their oblivion off the patio while nursing my swollen and misshapen eyelid. I'm starting to look like a freak, and it's sure to be another interesting day in the country.

An illustration of me in bed, thanks to Natalie Dee:
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

UPDATE: Last night, as Jake was getting into bed, he stepped in a large puddle of pee with his socks on. Thanks, Molly, you rock! It's not exactly the ant bite to the scrotum I was hoping for, but it was a nice, unexpected surprise.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I'm Baaaaaaack!

My week at camp sped by lightning fast; I can hardly believe I was there and back, even tho I'm bone tired and mentally whipped from the chaos of the past few days.

It seemed like every time I gave myself the slightest opportunity to relax, some life-threatening emergency (or seemingly life threatening emergency...) was unfolding before me:


A late night anaphylaxis (or head cold, as I soon discovered; but the poor kid still almost got epi-penned by his traumatized counselor before he was dropped off at the Nurse's station-- wahoo!), an early morning bloody mess (is it ever appropriate to apply makeup before dashing out the door to get a kid off for stitches? While the thought crossed my mind, noooo...... I only applied a haphazard smear of lipstick before running out with my first aid kit), and an evening mystery accident involving an embarassed pre-teen boy, 3 different versions of what occurred, and a gaggle of crying counselors.


It was a relatively quiet camp, tho, with only 120 kids and 124 different medications (some given up to 4 times a day! Better living thru chemistry, I guess... poor little critters. What makes a parent put their 10 year old on 4 different psych meds? A wild parenting fantasy gone amuck? SPS {Stupid Parent Syndrome}?)


As usual, my assistant was incredibly helpful; God bless the fresh, uncluttered mind of youth. That girl has saved me from embarassment more times than I can count, considering she can remember not only the daily schedule but kids' names, medication times and the last thing our boss told me to do 15 minutes ago.


I have to tell you, though: for all it's foibles, camp is the greatest job I've ever had:

I have a dinky quarters to keep for my very own (easy to keep clean, and no one to care if I don't), a private bathroom, my own office, beautiful surroundings, delicious meals I only have to *show up* for-- and best of all, the peace of mind knowing my kids are off having a fantastic time with new friends and adult role models, doing things I could never expose them to due to lack of time, funds, or ability. Plus, there's nary a couch or computer game to be found, and I'm hoping the repetitive busy-ness will drive the urge to vegetate from their DNA. I also greatly enjoy the daily reminder that my kids are low on the Goofy Kid spectrum, and that I am only *marginally* on the SPS list, in the grand scheme of things.


I survived, my kids survived (Jacob had a wicked case of "I'm not eating enough fiber", if ya know what I mean...)-- and sans a broken collarbone, 6 stitches, and 3 cases of pink eye, everyone else survived as well. Halleulah!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Beer Margaritas from the Food Network

I am always on the lookout for new and enticing ways to send me to my "happy place" (aka after one drink). Jake and I checked out a fabulous restaurant a while back that had margaritas made with beer; this is the closest I've found to the nummy recipe, and far more economical than the $7 a pop restaurant variety:

1 lime, cut into 8 wedges 1/4 cup coarse salt
2 (12-ounce) bottles your favorite beer (I used Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy), chilled 1/2 cup frozen concentrate limeade, thawed
1/2 cup chilled tequila
Ice cubes

Rub lime wedges around rims of 4 margarita glasses. Dip rims into salt to coat lightly. In a medium pitcher, combine beer, limeade, and tequila. Fill prepared glasses with ice, then with margarita mixture. Garnish with remaining lime wedges. Serve immediately.

Yee Ha!

UPDATE:
I'm not sure if it's the combination of beer and tequila, but these pack a nasty hangover, even after only 2. I still have a headache, 2 days later. Boo.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Daycare Dilemma

I have so much on my mind right now: with all the changes summer brings, and my lack of preparedness for it, it's no wonder I'm in a funk.
I am so glad for Grace, that she gets the opportunity to be gone for 5 weeks and learn and grow with what truly are her closest friends. But I have no childcare for a month, and I'm not sure what to do.
I initially thought that Jacob could stay home by himself for a few hours in the morning, since he's almost 10 and I usually get let go from GI at around 1-1:30 (sometimes earlier). But now Neuro wants me to come after I get let go from GI, which throws a big ole monkey wrench into the mix. I had to tell them today that I have no childcare and they weren't too happy about it, and I don't blame them a bit.
Jacob's best buddy is at his grandma's next door every day now too, which at first you think is nice, but then you realize that having 2 little monkeys in your house unsupervised (I'm sure they'd be here-- grandma does not watch the kids AT ALL), in the pool by themselves, letting the puppy out alone (the kids wouldn't watch the puppy)... I just don't think that I'd be able to function at work.
For a moment, I though about asking the grandma to watch Jacob at her house, but when I really got to thinking about it, it seemed like a bad idea: Grandma doesn't cook or feed any of the children in her house-- Jacob's buddy often wanders over here at mealtime in search of food. There is no end to the number of shady characters who hang out at that house; grandma had 13 kids and I think quit raising them after #5 or 6-- one of the adult children who lives there has a toddler she lets run while she sleeps all the time... turns out she is addicted to heroin and has her druggie boyfriend living there as well. Bleck. So bad, bad idea. I told my husband that I just couldn't forgive myself if anything went wrong while Jacob was there, since there were SOOOOOOOO many red flags. I think my husband understood.
Which leads me to a very important point: why is this MY problem, finding daycare every time it is needed? My husband is counting on my working, yet he has never in his life concerned himself with these important details. Yes, it's great if your kid can grow up and not be molested or abused by freaky people, but sadly, this takes a bit of planning beyond just leaving your kid home alone or in the care of the town outcasts.
My husband seemed surprised that I even wanted to talk about it, as if he somehow should be: a) involved in any way, and b) concerned in any way. Ohwell.
I think the grand outcome of this dilemma is that I won't be working so much this summer, which of course, since our finances are separate, will only affect *my* spending power... I think I'm really growing to like hot dogs, tho. On-Cor family entree, anyone?
And I'm sure you're thinking, "why don't you put your precious little critter into daycare--duh?" Well, I thought about it... but with daycare, you have to pay a $75 registration fee, give them set days/hours (which I can't do since my job is flexible), pay for times you get cancelled, and last but not least, because Jacob doesn't want to go and he will be miserable. Oh, and I only need it for a month and daycare doesn't work that way.
So there you have it, poverty in a nutshell.
Jake did agree yesterday that I could just work GI for the summer, so I'll see how accomodating he is with paying for stuff he doesn't want to. The guy's working 6 9 hour days/week-- he should be rolling in the overtime dough. So ante up, buddy!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

We had an abundance of strawberries explode from the teeny tiny plants we put in the coop garden last year; I am harvesting up to 5 pounds every other day! In honor of my overwhelming, bountiful crop of both strawberries and rhubarb (the first year's harvest, too), I made my favorite pie recipe, adapted from one I found years ago on the All Recipes site:

INGREDIENTS
Filling:
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch crust pie
4 cups diced rhubarb
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 1/2 cups white sugar
6 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca


Crumb Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a pie pan with bottom crust.
Mix together rhubarb, strawberries, orange zest, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and tapioca. Spoon into crust.
For crumb topping, combine flour, 1 cup sugar, and salt. Cut in butter or margarine until mixture is crumbly. Spoon over filling. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and bake for an additional 35 minutes. (I had to bake mine for at least an hour-- my pies were deep-dish, and overfilled!)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Saturday:

With the exception of the few CD's my daughter glommed off me and left with her BF, my entire musical life history is now recorded onto my MP3 player; I can't believe it all fits! There are quite a few more things I'd like to load, like my Django Reinhardt, but I have 5 CD's and I have no idea what to pick. And of course, there are tons of songs I'd like to BUY (like Peter Murphy's "Cuts You Up", a couple Nitzer Ebb songs, etc), but so far, so good. I'm fairly happy with what's being pumped into my ears-- "Burning Down the House" (Talking Heads) and previously, "Close to Me" by the Cure. Listening to the Cure brings me back to those incredible days with my very first boyfriend-- it's funny how you can relive a moment long past just by hearing a song.
The new tipi is offically up and informally blessed;


the sleepover guests (yes, two showed up somewhat unannounced. How wierd. But Jacob was thrilled, and we are glad to have them! Just look at those smiles:)

And I cleaned the house, top to bottom, with many forgotten chores attended to: dusting, vacuuming behind couches, mopping, organizing, et al. I'm feeling the need to get things in order (music collection included) before I'm off to camp, and the summer cruises by in a cluttered, dirty haze. It felt really good to get everything good and clean (altho I almost killed all the carnivorous plants and orchids in the process-- don't ask!), and our lives in order. The calla lilies just opened and look lovely, as always:

Friday, June 8, 2007

Friday, Creature of the Night:

And so it has come to pass that I have become a creature of the night; I am exhausted all day, and then when the temerature drops, I regain my energy and try to play catch-up with everything I left undone.
I got my new MP3 player in the mail today, so I spent the better part of the afternoon downloading each and every favorite song from my entire life onto the player-- it's like the ultimate mixed tape, only instead of spanning the music of your 15 year old self, it's from forever: music I loved as a little kid, teenage angst music, hippie days music, grown up music... (but which is which? It's hard to tell). There is so much in the common world that I just learning about, like MP3 players; mysteries abound, much excitement... now if I could only stay awake for it!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Hump Day

It's a sleepy hump day, and despite tea and coffee and drinking lots of water, I just can't shake this sleepy lethargy that has settled upon me. I took a Benadryl last night so I could crash HARD, I'm guessing it may be why I couldn't wake up today...

Funny, you create a mini vacuum in your life and oftentimes something rushes to fill the void: I worked my last day (last few days? one never knows..) in Kenosha, and lo and behold, my Burlington boss asked me this am if I wanted to cross-train to help in Neuro. Sure, why not? Neuro is not my favorite, but it'll give me extra hours closer to home... how cool is that? And here I was, fretting about my impoverished state-- I didn't even make it one day! Well, someone's looking out for me, that's for sure...
There's a super-fine line between being a woman of leisure (aka, woman who stays home enough to keep her house from becoming a sickly pig sty) and a woman who's broke-- we've always maintained our financial independence in our marriage, so unless I want to eat ramen noodles and shop only at Love, Inc (the local thrift shop), I have to work just enough to maintain my bank account AND my sanity, which roughly translates to about 3 days/week.
P.S. The tipi arrived today! However, it sounds like Jacob's party won't be very well attended, boo. I guess we are doomed to roam the earth as loners, whine whine whine. It's really too bad for Jacob, tho, he was looking forward to it.
UPDATE 12:18 am:
Well attended, my booty... NO ONE can come to Jacob's party. Poor, poor little guy! I'm really bummed:-(

I made THREE strawberry rhubarb pies tonight, and I'm still waiting for the 3rd one to come out of the oven... tasty, yummy stuff. I'm feeling self-destructive, and could eat one all by my lonesome, they're that good. I thought I'd bring one to work tomorrow, but I'm guessing the ladies are getting tired of my feeding them sweets, and who could blame them?

Little Miss Molly had the most awful day today: she pooped in her cage, peed in the house 3 times, tried to throw herself in front of a dumptruck (taking YEARS off my life, no doubt) and then got a taste of the mean ole shock collar; I set the amps to the lowest setting (I think it was 5), and she responded well. She got shocked for leaving the yard, chasing the chickens, and not coming when called. I know, I'm a Nazi, but I rationalize that if she learns not to leave the yard, she'll stay alive a lot longer (the dumptrucks travel on the service road all day, all week long, 100+ per day sometimes..), and a shock is a small price to pay for a long, happy life of belly rubbing.
Life is good, but I've been crabby almost all week long. Wah! for me. I think I need more pie-- now where's that ice cream?