Sunday, September 14, 2014

Potter Party Part 2

The party was a rousing success! (Perhaps too much of one--note to self, put an end time on the invitation.)

We made fun bunting for decorations

And we made ties. Everyone (except for the birthday girl) put on the Sorting Hat and pulled a tie from a basket. Hers was a special mix of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, since she's a special mix of her parents.

The menu was a challenge. I wanted Harry Potter-themed food, but September 1 in Phoenix is a tad warmer than the north of England (Scotland? the book is unspecific) and roasts and chops is a bit heavy. So we had baked potatoes,salad, and carrots with dip, with butterbeer (cream soda with a topping made of heavy cream, marshmallow creme, and butter flavoring, which is remarkably close to what they have in Orlando) and jelly beans. Each food had a quote from the books next to it.

And of course, we enjoyed cupcakes.

I made playdoh for the kids to "transfigure," but they mostly just played with P's presents. *shrug*

All in all, it was lots of fun! Exhausting, delicious fun!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Potter Party Part 1

We've still got a month until baby P turns one, but we made the invitations today. They're pretty epic. I'm really pulling out the stops (for me, anyway) for this party. I think we're mostly celebrating that we all made it through the first year alive. Every other party from here on out is probably going to be room temperature pizza and playing in the hose. This year, though...this year is The Girl Who Lived.



And that's just the beginning. So much fun to plan.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The encyclopedia of bad dates

I was thinking the other day about all the bad dates I've been on. There are a lot of them. I'm starting to think that it's a disproportionately high number of bad dates. So I got to thinking that I should change names and details and turn them into a novel. (I'm always looking for things to turn into novels.) But not just a novel, but like an encyclopedia, where each chapter starts with a definition of a kind of bad date. The bait-and-switch, parental interference, mid-date abandonment, to infinity and beyond, etc. Some of them were so bad that I would actually split them up into multiple definitions, just because it's so unbelievable that so many ridiculous, awful things could happen on one date (but they did. oh, how they did). Others weren't necessarily terrible, but had something weird enough happen that it makes an okay story. Like the time a date and I were walking downtown and someone else started hitting on me. He was really nice about it--I think the other guy may have had developmental delays--but it was funny and weird.

Then I got to thinking of other people I know who have had lousy dates. You know, so I can appropriate their experiences into my book. I think Reva had someone steal a car once? That's pretty epic. I have another friend who had a date try to guess her weight...and he guessed high. I was nice enough to go out with a kid after he told me he had asked everyone else he could think of, but they all said no. (It was exactly as great an evening as you are imagining.)

So yeah. Lots of bad dates. What's your worst?

Monday, July 28, 2014

New Serenity Prayer

There are...shall we say, certain people in my life who are overly dramatic. Melodramatic. It is incredibly annoying. I do what I can to avoid the drama, but sometimes you just can't around it. So I wrote my own version of the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me 
the serenity
to deal with the drama I can't avoid,
the courage
to avoid what drama I can,
and the wisdom
to make my excuses plausible.

I'm thinking about needle-pointing it on a pillow.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Yeah, hi, sorry

Look, I get it. Long time no see. Anyway, here's what's been up:

Going back to work after maternity leave sucked. Then in February they told us they were laying us off. Spent ninety days feverishly applying for jobs. Had an interview, didn't get it, then months of nothing. Got offered a job, then they rescinded it that same day. Blah blah, life is terrible.

So then comes May 21, and I'm officially unemployed. But not eligible for unemployment because Arizona is the second worst state in the country for unemployment (thanks, Louisiana!) and you can't get your whopping $240 a week until you exhaust your severance.

Then three weeks ago my dad had a stroke, spent two weeks in the ICU, ten days on a ventilator, got moved to the rehab part of the hospital last week, had to get an emergency CT today...things aren't great.

And last week, we found out that the feds were at our condo in Utah. Not our tenant's fault, she says. It was her son, acting without her knowledge. Well, hard cheese. You rented the property, you are responsible for what happens there. CC&Rs say no illegal anything, so she's out. We're so done with that property, we're preparing to take a $15k or so bath on it just to get rid of it.

The month off has been nice. Usually in the summer I don't get to see Adam much during the week because he has to work swing shift, but instead I got to see him during the day. The little lady and I got to hang out together, making cookies, watching The Price is Right, going to the Summer Fun Movie Series (she's actually pretty well behaved at the movies, especially if there's licorice). It was really, really nice.

This week I started a new job (yay!) but it has no benefits (boo) is weirdly controlling about breaks (I feel fully refreshed after a half hour lunch, okay? I don't want an hour. I'd rather spend that extra half hour with my family) and won't have any actual work for me for at least a week. Oh, and doesn't have a dedicated mother's room in the building, so I have to work around the conference room schedule. Which is basically illegal, but since the position is temp to perm, I can't really make any waves. I've already pushed it with compressing the lunch schedule.

It's been just as painful as going back after maternity leave. I got pretty teary several times during the day. I got home last night after picking up Queen P after 6:00--I had to immediately feed her and get her ready for bed. I then cried for several hours. What's the point of having a job to support your family if you don't actually get to be with them? It's miserable. I was made for mom-ing.

So I convinced them to let me take a 45 minute lunch, so I should be able to have a whole hour at home before I have to put baby to bed. Not quite the eleven hours we had before, but better than yesterday. In five weeks, I'll be able to switch to 7-4, Adam will handle daycare duties, we'll be able to spend a little more time together in the evenings, and with any luck I'll be made permanent soon so we have benefits and the raise that comes with that. Or I'll win Publisher's Clearinghouse next week. I don't need a fortune; I just want enough to stay home with my baby.

Anyway, I have to go get ready for tomorrow/bed/etc. But that's what's new with me. How you doin'?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On resolutions, or why I deleted my calorie counting app

I have been working on this since July, month before the baby came. And what with all the resolving to lose weight that people invariably did a few weeks ago (not me; more on that later), I figured it was time to actually just publish the darn thing already. I keep going back and forth on how much I want to include. I guess I'll just dump it all. Here's why I deleted my calorie counting app:

It doesn't work well for me personally
Counting calories is not very effective for me. For one, it makes me crazy. Like, I become super obsessive about it, and I have this weird thing where I don't often feel hungry (um, late pregnancy and breastfeeding excluded; I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, starving. But I'm too lazy to get up for a snack.). When you don't often feel hungry, it becomes too easy to just be hungry, and next thing you know you're far below any reasonable calorie level for sustaining life and it's too easy to say, "Hey! Look how few calories I ate today!"

But aside from the crazy-making, it's not really effective for me for actually losing weight. The times I have lost the most weight, it was because I was exercising pretty much every day. I never once considered calories. My senior year of high school I finally got around to taking my PE credit, and lo and behold lost 30+ pounds over the school year (and gained muscle) without once dieting. I had a weird, but pretty consistent food schedule--Sunny D in A hour, PE first hour, granola bar or honey nut shredded wheat in second hour, go-gurt in fourth hour, lunch sixth hour, afternoon snack after school, whatever totally non-healthy thing was for dinner--so it wasn't exactly a perfectly orchestrated balance of fat, carbs, and protein that lost me the weight. Turns out I'm just a lazy blob and consistently moving said blob reduces the size of it. Crazy.

The other times I lost a lot of weight was when I was eating just Frosted Flakes for two meals a day in the MTC (not advisable) because I hated the cafeteria food and when I was walking a lot on my mission (good) but also was on diuretics for my vertigo (not fun; can't recommend it). So really, the best weight loss episode I've ever had was just from exercisin'. There's a saying about wishing you were as skinny as you were when you thought you were fat, and I get that. My mom recently gave me a box of photos, and there were some from around the end of my senior year, and I was like "holy crap, I was skinny!" But of course I didn't think so at the time. To quote an old cartoon that I refer to frequently, "Never satisfied!" (I usually am referring to how he rotates to keep his tummy and bum warm, which is how I shower and why I hate campfires.) But let's face it, no matter how much weight you lose, it's never enough.

It makes people boring
Don't get me wrong, I know several people who have had great success using this particular app to track their calories. That's awesome, and I'm happy for them, really. However, it tends to make people black holes of fun. Fun suckers. Certain people had come to visit for Thanksgiving, and then spent the entire weekend fussing about food. You are on vacation! This is family time! I don't want to hear you fussing over how to track the two handfuls of popcorn you ate at the movies. We are about to eat a meal with a side of sweet potatoes with so much butter, sugar, and pecans that it probably should be called a cobbler and served for dessert. Sometimes it's okay to just eat.

I had a coworker who was using the app, and she would never come to lunch with us, even when the whole team was going. She would even bring in treats, but not eat them! It was kind of frustrating that she lived and died by the website and never would deviate, even for social or teambuilding events. It's not like she'd become a giantess because she ate something other than what she brought for lunch. Adjust your dinner! It's hard when a member of the morale committee won't participate in the morale-building luncheon.

And frankly, there was a brief period last year when I was trying to drop a couple pounds really quick right before the end of the year so I could get the $100 for meeting the stupid, arbitrary "healthy" BMI threshold. (Didn't make it, btw. Got pregnant instead.) I was sick of myself, having to check what I could eat at a restaurant before we could settle on where to go on date night. That sucks! Bless my husband's heart for putting up with it for those few miserable weeks. For better or worse, food is a part of society and socializing, and if you can't make them both work... them what Man does not live by bread alone--sometimes it's a baby shower cake.

What am I teaching my daughter?
Forty weeks and 180 pounds of GROWING A PERSON

This is absolutely the most important aspect for me. I read these heartbreaking stories of tiny kids with food-anxiety issues, or eating disorders or thinking they're fat or obsessing about "bad" foods, and I'm like, "Crap, one more thing to worry about screwing up my kid with. Does the whole 'that's a sometimes food' schtick mess them up, too?" Mostly I just don't want to have my second grader think she's fat. And if I'm constantly worried about losing weight, what kind of example am I setting? I want her to focus on her body being strong, not skinny. Our bodies are incredible! They can do amazing things, but if we look at it and think, "Bah, too fat" we are ignoring the "wow, so capable!" It's so easy to feel like a beached whale when pregnant, but then you're missing out on how literally marvelous it is to have a body that can grow another body inside it. I know a girl who is not particularly skinny, but is always runnin' marathons or winnin' lifting competitions. The woman can deadlift twice my weight, and that is awesome.
On New Year's resolutions
Although I don't formally make resolutions, my counterpoint to all the media about losing weight this year was to suggest resolving to accept yourself. Treat yourself with loving kindness. A good resolution is to decide not to say negative things about your body in front of your kids. A better resolution is to not say them at all, and the best is to not even think it. It's hard. But it is so...peaceful to give yourself permission to be okay with who you are, right now. It doesn't mean you can't decide to eat healthier or run a 5k this year, but it means you recognize yourself as more than a number on a scale or in a waistband. That is the least important part of who you are.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

For humans with affinity for elf culture

We interrupt this complaining about Christmas lyrics and general non-blogging to give you my grand gift idea for all fans of Elf:

Now, I'm not generally a fan of cutesy gifts, but I wanted to do something for our wonderful daycare provider. She's got an empty frame on her wall, so I was going to make something for her to put in it, and I came up with this picture. Add in a sandwich spreader, Nutella, Speculoos, fancy jam, etc., and you've got a fun gift. The great thing is that it's scale-able. Your least expensive option is to tie it to a jar of your homemade jam, which I assume you made to give as neighbor gifts. (I don't give gifts just for people who just happen to live near me, but you might. And those people seem to be the kind who make jam, too.)

Maybe you want a little something more, maybe for a Secret Santa, someone from church, etc. Get yourself an inexpensive spreader to go with your homemade jam [or Nutella or what have you]:

Or if you want a more expensive gift, maybe for the foodie sibling you drew this year:

If you're really a high roller, you could get a Cutco spatula/spreader. But that takes planning ahead, since you can't just get it with Amazon Prime. I can't even link to one, besides from eBay or whatnot.

You can adjust the spreads to fit your budget, too. One jar of Nutella or a whole set of small batch artisan jam from the farmer's market. Maybe some fancy soft cheese and a baguette! Put it in a cute little basket, and voila! the perfect gift for spreading Christmas cheer. Plus it's consumable--not the knive, obviously, but you don't even need that--so it isn't more junk to clog up the recipient's house.

Feel free to use my genius idea. You can even use the crappy picture I made! I majored in English here, people, not graphic design.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

We'll have to muddle through somehow

I have strong views about Christmas music (most of it is terrible, it shouldn't be played on the radio before Thanksgiving, etc.) and I think my strongest opinion is on the song "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." I am opposed to all versions of the song that include shining stars on the highest bough. Did you even know that there are other, more sensible lyrics? I mean, shining stars are totally apropos of nothing in while merry little Christmassing. The line is supposed to be "Someday soon, we all will be together, if the Fates allow / until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow." Makes way more sense. There's an actual continuity to the lyrics, rather than random shining stars. Who knew?!

Sadly, nearly all versions of this song have the icky, updated lyrics. Judy Garland's is right, of course, and James Taylor has a version, but almost everyone uses Frank Sinatra's version. Gets on my nerves. I like the melancholy of the original version. Maybe not everyone has a merry Christmas? Maybe not everyone loves the holidays? Maybe for a lot of people, you're just muddling through on the hope that next year is better?

So if you ever hear me singing along with this song on the radio, I'm the shmo singing the original lyrics. The good, sad ones.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Birthday 2013

Since our last birthday review installment, I have:
- Been in a musical!
- Made a Thanksgiving dinner (okay, I bought the turkey from the Honeybaked Ham store, but I did the rest!)
- Gotten pregnant!
- Thrown up. A lot.
- Gone to California to announce the first grandbaby (and capture the reaction on camera)
- Gone back to school.
- Had my one year anniversary at work, which generally brings antsy-ness for a new job.
- Done various baby-related decorating things, include an adorable crib remodel.
- Given up on the class I was taking. (At 38 weeks pregnant, I didn't care about failing any and everything.)
- Had a baby! A c-section, no less!
- Kept said baby alive!
- Caught up on a lot of TV, thanks to Netflix and Amazon streaming.
Etc. I knew I'd be busy, so I actually started writing this in June. And now it's weeks past my birthday with finally getting around to posting it. Had to download the app, because I basically do everything with a baby on my lap. I don't mind. It makes me appreciate the little things, like eating at the same time as my husband. With both hands. Little things.
I've never loved my job, but since I had this amazing little girl I really wish I could stay home with her. We're crossing our fingers for Publisher's Clearinghouse. Someone has to win, right? Why not me? I promise I'd do all sorts of great stuff with it. Give me the chance to prove that having money wouldn't change me!

Monday, September 23, 2013

You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em

A few weeks before my due date, my doctor warned me that I was measuring large and she was afraid the baby was going to be over ten pounds. She offered to let me schedule a c-section if I wanted, but I thought that was a bit extreme. I'd much rather at least attempt to labor, and if it ends in a c-section, so be it. Anyway, I didn't think the babe was as big as the ultrasound/measurements predicted. It is in fact less accurate the bigger they get, so it was really all a crapshoot. But I was also mighty sick of being pregnant, so I agreed to induce on my due date.

The admitting nurse was pretty impressed that I used the term "macrosomia" when she asked why I was being induced, but by this point I'm kind of an armchair OB. (Ask me about my Bishop score!) I knew that conditions weren't super favorable, but if she really was as big as they thought, putting it off wasn't going to decrease my odds of a c-section either. So we went in at 8 pm on the 8th and got the party started. 

After a lovely evening of nothing happening on cytotec, they started my pitocin in the morning. And I did start contracting--30 second contractions with no rest period. You know what that feels like? One long contraction! It wasn't too bad; on the 1-10 pain scale I was at maybe a 3 or 4. But that's not exactly a good, productive contraction pattern, so they kept upping my pitocin to try to get some normal contractions. I hadn't really dilated much since I was admitted, either, which I suppose isn't surprising when your contractions are being funky. Then around 1pm my water broke. (Fun story: you can hear kind of a blip on the fetal heart rate monitor when she kicked. There was a big blip and I said, "Oh, wow, she kicked so hard I just peed a little." Except it kept coming. I was like, "Uh, I don't think this is pee!" My nurse happened to walk in just as I pushed the call button, and sure enough my membranes had ruptured. It does feel rather like a water balloon breaking.)

Without the cushion of amniotic fluid, I was feeling the contractions more. A lot more. Now I'm still having constant, short contractions, but they are like, two and a half times more painful than before. I was like, "Nuts to this, get me the epidural. I can't do hours of this." They called in the nurse anesthetist (those people are worth everything they pay them and more!) but my blood work from admission was getting kind of old, and my platelet count was low, so they had to re-run it. "How long does that take?" I asked. Usually 45 minutes. Great. So an hour before I can anticipate pain relief? An hour of constant contractions? And what's this about platelets? What if they're too low? Will they still let me get an epidural? "We don't know." At that point, I was like, if they won't give me the epidural, you use general and do a c-section because I'm not doing this.

They cut my pitocin in half to try to get me some relief on the contractions and managed to rush the blood work back in 15 or 20 minutes. Although my platelet count was even lower, I got my epidural. Saints and angels sang. And now that I wasn't in so much pain and things were more relaxed, we were hoping my contractions would normalize. Yeah, no. They did start having breaks between them--not that I cared anymore!--but there was still no pattern. I'd have a few minutes of normal contractions, several minutes of nothing, and then just as she was about to turn my pitocin back up, a few more normal contractions. They never were able to increase my pitocin dose again. We tried a bunch of positional tricks to try to get baby to descend/me to dilate, but nothing was working.

Around six o'clock our awesome, awesome nurse was like, "The doctor is coming in soon, and is going to want to talk to you about a c-section." We knew that was always on the table, and it wasn't looking good. Despite the on-call doctor having something of a reputation of being a cutter, he didn't push it. Could we wait and make the decision in 12 or 24 hours? Absolutely. Baby was never in any kind of distress, so there was no real emergency. But was it looking like I was going to be able to push this baby out? Not so much.

I didn't want a c-section, obviously, but I also didn't want to hang out in the hospital forever. Thanks to the epidural I could have waited it out forever, and maybe another 24 hours would have yielded some results, but because my water had broken we didn't have a ton of time to wait. (Especially since I'm group B strep positive, and even with the penicillin didn't really want to push things.) So I decided, if I'm going to have a c-section anyway, I might as well have it now.

So Monday the 9th at 8:09 pm, I heard my sweet baby's first cries. They lifted her up over the the drape to show her to me, and all I could see was a giant cone head. They assured me it would go away within hours, but you could actually see the ring of how far I had dilated. That head was not coming through.

The recovery hasn't been as bad as I thought it'd be. Sure, it was pretty hard to hoist myself out of bed for a week or so, but the pain was pretty manageable. They kept telling me to not let the pain sneak up on me, but it really wasn't! I was okay on just the Motrin. I did take Percoset once, but it was too much. I get too loopy; can't even hold my head up on 'em. And the difference two weeks later versus one is HUGE. I feel practically normal, and I haven't even had my steri-strips removed. I've also lost nearly all the weight I gained, which is awesome even if there is lots of doughiness and skin in new places. Frankly, after an 8 pound, 10 ounce baby has made double occupancy of your belly, just having them evicted makes you feel tiny.

So it didn't happen exactly how I was hoping, but I have no regrets. I'm not bitter about the c-section--everyone agreed I made the right choice--I'm recovering fine, my baby is the most wonderful thing in the world, and I understand why people would do this more than once...although at this point I'm only willing to do it if I can somehow magically stay home for the entire pregnancy, because working and being pregnant was hard enough in itself and taking care of a toddler on top of that would probably kill me. But that's a problem for another day. For now, I'm enjoying a sweet, beautiful, delicious baby and that's plenty.