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Friday, December 7, 2012

Fun, Food & the Pendulum

If you read my posts regularly, you know that much of the time my family gets homemade meals - not fancy, over the top stuff - simple, balanced, healthy, and often even yummy.

But sometimes? Sometimes toddlers are needy. And sometimes jobs are demanding. And sometimes the last thing you can fathom at the end of the day is even spending 15 minutes cooking. And sometimes this starts to look like the new normal.

And you know what? I'm okay with it. I'll take it.

When time in the evening feels extra short, I will take chips & salsa for dinner. Or hummus & crackers. Or - wait for it - a frozen family entree.

Do you know what I did while that Stauffer's Mac'n'Cheese cooked for 18 minutes in the microwave? I sat on the floor with my beautiful daughter (2 years & 8 months old) and worked on her princess puzzle. It was pure bliss.

As was the Mac'n'Cheese. Judge away, judgers.

By the way - she's getting really good at the puzzle. (Not this one, but you get the idea. Clearly, she's a genius.)
Disney Princess Wood Picture Frame 12 Piece Puzzle
I'll tell you what allows me to still sleep at night. Aside from the aforementioned mommy&me bliss.

  • Fresh or frozen veggie before or with the meal.
  • Fruit or low-fat yogurt for dessert.
  • It's still better than fast food ... right? ;P

So, 3 out of 5 nights this week, I went the above route.
Wednesday I made fish, green beans & sweet potato oven fries. It took all of 15-20 active minutes, but there was enough leg clinging to make it feel double that. (There was also sincere lip-smacking from the Tot, so there's that.)
Tonight we went to a family Christmas reception with my husband's company. Kiddo was pretty impressed with the huge tree's "light dance" to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra medley. She ate next to nothing due to over excitement. When we got home, we all snuggled in front of our very own, regular size tree - plus, grahamy grams & hot chocolate (milk for kiddo&hubben; apparently I'm the only one with sense!) ... and don't forget the lite rock station's Christmas songs! Again, bliss.

Trust me. I know all about the easy homemade meals I can make. Again, see some of my previous posts. They're just not working for me right now. I know I'll get back to them. I also know ... that I'll then proceed to go overboard. I'll start making more elaborate meals that take too long away the Munchkin. Then one day, I'll go - "this is silly! I want to spend more time with my family!" Then I'll go stock my freezer with Stauffer's Family Entrees. (This will probably coincide with a sale on them for $3.99. And the inner conflict between - "that's so cheap!" and "why is that so cheap?" -- well, that's a whole other post.)

Or maybe one day, the pendulum will stop swinging. And I'll just stay balanced perfectly at that sweet spot between healthy & home-cooked v. uncomplicated & FAST. Maybe this will be that time.

After all, a pendulum has to come to rest eventually, right? Simple physics.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Picture Perfect (no pictures included)

Written Saturday during a down moment. Forgot or couldn't post till now. That's living. :)

I had a picture perfect Thanksgiving. So, obviously, I took no
pictures. Well, almost none. Just one of my daughter making a turkey craft.
Neither the picture nor the turkey turned out well. But we had fun.

The rest of the day, I kind of forgot to take pictures. Much as I love
pictures, I tend to think that is the sign of really great day. (No
offense, shutterbugs!)

My husband, daughter & I got to spend some quality time, just the
three of us, before company arrived. We took the dog to the
playground. There we met TWO other dogs, so the dog was happy. Kiddo
adored one of the other dog’s little human. And mommy got on well with
her mommy. Numbers were exchanged. We’ll see what happens.

Regardless, what a great morning! An hour & a half in the sunshine
before an early nap.
EARLY NAP – still patting myself on the back for that one. Company
arrived just an hour before usual naptime. Can you imagine the
cooperation we’d have gotten if we’d waited? I can, but I’d rather

Dog-show watching with in-laws while kiddo napped. Occasional
allowance of football. SNACKS – as in little smokies & spinach dip –
thank YOU, Pinterest!

A delightful little girl woke up, spent some QT with the
longer-distance grandparents. Then my parents & a good friend from the
olden days arrived.

Football was watched. Food was consumed.

Kiddo behaved like (nearly) an angel --- at least until I gave her a
little surprise for said good behavior. That’s apparently a good time
to get a little evil.

Perhaps the highlight of the day was how little the little one liked
her pie. She’d been requesting pie for the previous 20 hours or so,
and it was the first thing she asked for in the morning, the thing she
begged for before nap & before dinner.
I’d question our relation over her dislike of pumpkin pie, but she did
love the whipped topping!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Next Generation

There are things we enjoy passing on to our children. And there are things we wish we could avoid but just can't.

What I'd like to avoid is tantrums. And acting out for mom & dad, while being an angel at school and for grandparents. And yep - that's something I passed on. Apparently, I used to change behavior in a heartbeat upon my mom's return. Turnabout; fair play; all that jazz. But you know what, I don't feel like talking about tantrums. And it's my blog.

Let's talk about Enjoyment!

I hope to pass on to my daughter - some geeky loves. I have scored some small successes.
Earlier today, we had a tea party with Data among the attendees. (Yes, I have an action figure. It was a gag gift. One I never parted with, but a gag gift nonetheless.)
We're not quite ready to sit down to an episode of TNG, but a girl can dream.

A little less geeky but a more resounding success - Puff the Magic Dragon. Sure, it's a pretty standard children's story / folk song. Yet, I would trace my love of SciFi/Fantasy to those TV adaptations in the late 70s.
I always felt terrible for Puff. How could Jackie Paper leave him behind. Perhaps that's why I never completely left him behind myself.
But we do, as we grow older, lose a little of our imagination. The ability to truly be in Honalee.
If we allow it, having children can allow us to take back a little.
Which is why I literally snatched this book up when I saw it at the library.

The illustrations are beautiful. 
I have never simply read it to her. We sing it. Obviously.
She actually requests it. And she'll ask for it again when we get to the end. And I'm no singer. It's got to be the pictures. And perhaps the story.
The power of her imagination validated, in page and in song.
She has taken to naming the occasional imaginary guest Honalee and Jackie Paper.

And then there's Junie Paper.
It's the name we gave her, and she's the best part of this book.

See the guy in the back? That's Jackie Paper. Her daddy. He told her about Puff. She went to Honalee and brought him out of his cave.
See his smile? That's the joy of allowing your child's imagination to run wild. While you get to sit back & watch. And remember.

Monday, October 22, 2012

From the Trenches: Tantrum Survival (so far)

First - YIKES! I knew it had been awhile. But my last post was September 22nd! A whole month! Nothing in particular to explain it. Just - you know - stuff.
Anyway, enough about that. 
I have a few posts I've been thinking about in that time & hope to get to them soon. But right now? I just need to talk a little about tantrums.
Perhaps I can help someone survive their own. I know writing about it will help me.
So. Here goes!

We've survived 3 fairly big tantrums in the past 24 hours. And can I just say? -- wow. I deserve this Halloween candy 9 days early.

Does it ever seem like tantrums are a direct result of doing something extra fun?
Like going to the pumpkin patch with a couple other little families. Then dinner back at our place. Then when the last other child leaves, yours is so let down that SHE JUST CAN'T SEEM TO FIND HER LISTENING EARS!!!?!! WHERE DID THEY GO? NOT TO MENTION HER NORMAL VOICE INSTEAD OF THAT INCESSANT WHINE!??!!
Or like letting her wear her Halloween costume early. Then expecting her to willingly take it off to eat lunch. And heaven help you if the darned rescue pack isn't on tightly enough. And PS - pretending to talk to Diego on your phone about how he doesn't wear his rescue pack to nap - is NOT going to help. She knows he's not on the phone. Obviously. Because he's right there in her hand! Can't you see him?!!

Okay. My extremely brief summation of the incidents has led me to an irrefutable conclusion about the costume incidents. My fault. i.e. preventable. Of course, she wouldn't want to take it off. And just because she asked about it, didn't mean I had to give it to her. Probably saying "wait till after lunch" would have incited a small tantrum, but oh - what I got was not small.

So -- survival step 1 -
Avoid obvious set-ups to tantrums.
I'm not saying hide your family away in the house & never do anything fun. She had a great time at the pumpkin patch & playing with my friends son. We had a nice time socializing with adults, even if it was doing a "family friendly activity." In the case of last night, we just had to grit our teeth & get through it.

Bringing me to -- survival step 2 -
Grit your teeth & get through it.
You're the adult. If you snap & yell back, you only reinforce the behavior. You show that that is exactly how people handle frustration. It can't last forever, right? (Right? RIGHT?!!?!)
I am proud (& a little surprised) to report that I did not snap during the first 2 tantrums. But yep, I sure did (not badly, but I did) during the 3rd.

So, now to -- survival step 3 -
Take a time-out if you need it.

After my little snap during the last tantrum, I apologized to my daughter and told her I was taking a time out to try to calm down. I literally went and stood in the corner until I felt a little better. In the corner, I realized that what she was asking for (or had briefly been asking for before she started screaming & bawling incessantly) was to have her "Rescue Pack" on tighter.

And thus -- survival step 4 -
Don't not cave just for the sake of not caving.
That's what I was doing in the naptime scenario. Pretty much just as stubborn as a toddler, right? If at all possible, I try to get her to ask again in her "normal voice" for whatever it is. That way it's not (technically) like she got what she wanted because she threw the tantrum. Then I try to talk calmly about how we could have avoided the tantrum if she had just talked in her normal voice. That the tantrum hurt us both & blahblahblah.

But also -- survival step 5 -
Don't cave just for the sake of stopping the tantrum.
Last night's tantrum resulted because kids don't like consequences. (And really? Who does?) Just before our friends & their son left, the 2 kiddos were playing drums & piano. My daughter decided that she should have all instruments, and the other child none. We asked her to please share before he left. And that we could then go and watch a little Diego. Nope. After they left, I asked her to please sit on the potty before we put on jammies & watched a little Diego. Nope. So -- into her bedroom we went. UTTER DEVASTATION. She assured us she wanted to be good & behave. We explained how that was wonderful but didn't change the consequences of previous behavior. Just under 30 minutes of intense toddler tantrum later, she decided to ask (in a normal voice) for something else - a different pair of jammies. Random. But doable. So I went and got them, and my husband started books. She didn't even get so far as to get the new jammies on. I read like 1 more book and she was out. (Tantrums are exhausting. See also step 1.)

My husband might roll his eyes (or laugh), but I honestly felt good about last night's tantrum -- afterward. I feel like she learned that there are boundaries, expectations & consequences. That sometimes they're hard, but that she's capable of living within them. I know she noticed that we sat there calmly through the tantrum, spoke kindly to her & each other, and that afterward we had big hugs and kisses all around.

You can't win 'em all. But with a little effort, you can learn from 'em all.

Oh, but PS. Did you notice how all 3 tantrums are somehow related to Diego? It's all his fault. ;P

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Convenient Inconvenience

For the past few months, I've been (sporadically) working hard on a presentation for my state-level professional organization.
I've been attending its conference annually for the past few years, helped organize the last two, but this was my first as a presenter.
I was excited. I was honored.
But somehow, I kept forgetting the date.

Like when my parents checked & rechecked that I'd be able to take them to the airport if they left for Nebraska on September 22nd. Of course. Yeah, sure - whatever.

Except September 21st was the big presentation. In Fort Lauderdale. Five hours away.

Now, the thing is? We all like learning things and comparing notes on professional matters. But it's also a solid social tradition. Times are had. And Friday night is the main event.

When I first pieced together that I couldn't stay Friday night, I may have literally smacked my forehead. Then I sorta let it go. I figured it would just keep me out of trouble, so to speak. Then as departure grew nearer, I got happier & happier about it. And when I left Thursday morning for work, I  was downright ecstatic to be able to tell my daughter: "I'll see you tomorrow night." (Sure, I had to drive the length of Florida twice in between, but I digress.)

That hug on Friday night with the accompanying "Mommy!" and insanely huge hug? - no place I'd rather be.

Then today. When I would have been nursing a hangover of whatever magnitude, while sitting in a conference room. (Well, first we got up at the crack of dawn to take my parents to the airport. But then ..) we went to Cracker Barrel for a darned delightful breakfast.

Even the hash brown casserole couldn't compare to the General Store though. My little girl apparently is ready to be a big sister or something.
So sweet to watch. But really, after 15 solid minutes, we did have to pick her up & carry her out (with just a little kicking & screaming). Because hey - we had to get to ...

to the ZOO!!!!

Kiddo had 2 speeds: Flat-out-Run and Mommy-will-you-carry-Me? Because really, how can you pace yourself when there are leopard cubs? And giraffes to feed? And ELEPHANTS?
It was Elephant Appreciation Day, and they were selling paintings -- BY THE ELEPHANTS. So of course, we bought one. Because - it benefits Elephant Rescue, and what could be cooler in a little girl's room, for pete's sake!?

Also, as it turns out, the Zoo parking lot is a good place to have your battery be totally dead. Thanks Jacksonville Zoo security - that was one prompt & friendly jump.

And all this before I would even have left Fort Lauderdale. All in all, this little inconvenience worked out pretty conveniently for my little family.

Best part - we still have all day tomorrow! :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

In Defense of not Caring

Not caring what other people think, that is.

Remember when you were younger & spent too much time caring what other people thought about what you did? Maybe you even missed out on some fun because you were afraid of looking dumb?

C'mon. Admit it. Don't be afraid.

And if you still hold back out of fear of looking dumb ... Stop, you're probably missing some fun.

Here are some example just from the past 36 hours or so.

1. Walking on the beach in my work clothes.
I had to work yesterday. (Yes, on Saturday. It was my turn.) After work, I'd scheduled a haircut. The salon is literally spitting distance from the ocean. I had piled up to head home, when I looked left and thought - "There's the ocean. I should take a walk on the beach. Duh." So I turned left, parked & headed over. Then I noticed other people milling about in shorts & tanks, as well as - you know - bathing suits. Then I realized I'd probably look pretty weird in my dress pants and blouse. Then I thought "{expletive} it," and kicked off my flats. Yes, the the beach is nice when you're in comfy clothes and can really stay awhile. But the beach at all is still the beach.

2. Letting my kid eat chips for dinner on family date night at a local Mexican joint.
Certainly, that was not the plan. However, it's not like the Saturday burrito treat is some pinnacle of health food. So when she asks for chip after chip? Choose your battles. See also: all-day-buy-one-get-one drafts.

3. Letting her lay on the floor in a bookstore.
We have this atheists' tendency to forget that most places open late on Sunday. So there we were, trying to buy a table 30 minutes before the furniture store opened. Lucky for us, there was a lovely Books-A-Million with a slammin' kids' section in the same little strip. She literally ran right to that rack of books, grabbed that one & flopped on the floor. Because - hey, how's she to know to act differently there than at the library? And as for me? I breast-fed her for a year for the good immune system, so what do I care about a few germs? Anyway, it was early. I bet they vacuumed right before she laid there.

4. And finally, I must confess to actually encouraging dress-up with the crazy hat display.
Because I've never actually known anyone who got lice from trying on hats. My only regret is not getting a good pic of the one that makes it look like a shark is eating her head.

PS - It's added awesome to encounter people who know this secret too. 
Our neighbor hung outside this AM talking to us for a good half hour in her pajamas. Because she'd come out just to tell her husband something, when my little ball-of-energy went running over to get kisses from their dog, then proceeded to grab any & everything within her reach in their garage. Good stuff.
At the bookstore, we certainly made a few friends.
At the furniture store, when kiddo suddenly decided she never wanted to leave - I threw her under my arm, all wiggles & wailing, and walked out. Parents of a similar-aged girl, "We feel your pain. Have a nice day."
At the grocery store, when kiddo decided she definitely had to run back to the cart after bathroom break and throw the bouncy ball she'd grabbed. I, again, manhandled her and wrestled her back into the cart. A mom with 2 kids in her cart scooted past us and smiled, "Think happy thoughts," she said.

Indeed, think happy thoughts. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Week. And a Day.

This week has been a little rough.
After a month in my new post, I had to "flex" and help out where needed. I'd been loving said new post, so I was sad. Then I found myself less flexible than I thought I was, and I lost it a little.
There were a few other things eating at me too, and blahblahblah.

But then today happened.
And I have a bunch of work to do, BUT I just need to stop and record some of the highlights of an awesome day.
An awesome day that I really needed.
An awesome day that, if I had more time, I could write 10 posts about.

1. I got to do my "new" job again today. And it was one of my favorite days. ALS clinic. You might think that spending the day with people with a horrible illness would be horrible. But you would be wrong. For the most part, it is inspiring. It is awesome to see how families rally, how they not only "deal" but sometimes even thrive. It is amazing to be  a part of a team that can provide them with resources, information and support. I love hearing about the cool things my colleagues do, and I love helping the patients myself.
2. I sent a, I think, non-whiny / non-bitchy email to my boss about some of my concerns. I was proud of it. I did 2 things that are very scary for me professionally -- admitting that my job is not my first priority (i.e. my family is), and admitting that I can't do everything well that they think I can do well (i.e. that there are limits to my flexibility). Both are true, and it might as well be known.
3. At some point, I posted a dorky thing on Facebook. My husband commented, and I did in fact "LOL" - and repeatedly for a good hour, thinking about it. And just the other day, I was trying to tell him that he wasn't funny. Here it is ---

4. My boss actually came & talked to me about my concerns. And actually did what was possible for now to help out. And I ended the conversation feeling better overall about the professional future. Weirdly. Because I do think that maybe I ended up looking less "upwardly mobile" or whatever. But then I realized that, at least for now, I don't mind.
5. My afternoon appointments cancelled, so I got to leave early. Which is funny, because longer hours was one of my concerns. (Ha!) soooo ... theeeen ...
6. I got my kiddo early & went to the park!!  It was raining, but I didn't care. Neither did she. The rain stopped most of the time, and who cares about wet pants when the slide is awesome? Not us.
7. At home, I finished a book, while she watched a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. (Louise Erdrich's Porcupine Year. I guess it is for young readers, but I'm still young, right?)
8. Kiddo had earned 5 stars, so I gave her a new book from the goodie closet - Dinosours. How cute & heart-warming to watch her "read"  it to herself a few times before giving me a turn. (A favorite song right now is "We are the Dinosaurs" by Laurie Berkner. Roar!)
9. This guy is AWESOME. His lullabies are put her out! And she is actually staying in bed longer since we got him.

10. Now I'm sitting here with wine & chocolate. The end.
(Oh, except that work I have to do! Please excuse any typos. Gotta run!!)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lessons Learned on Life & Love

Too little to learn.
But I guess that's relative, and subjective.

He's 5. She's 2 and a half.
She has adored him from day one. And the adoration only grows.
When his family first moved next door, he wanted to show her all his toys and would talk your ear off to keep us outside just a few more minutes.
But over the past year. He's started school, grown up, etc.

I took my daughter for a quick swim at the community pool this morning.
I'd entirely forgotten there was a big party for the holiday.
Or did I even open that email?
We had a nice enough time. (With some usual for right-now shenanigans & loss of listening ears.)

Then we saw our neighbors.
Great, I thought. And it was great to see them.
Then it was time for us to go. And she wanted a hug.
She in her Swimmer & SafeTSeal Vest.
He in his goggles, showing off for kindergarten friends.
Of course he didn't want to hug her. Of course. I saw that. I understood.
I tried to get her to leave. She wouldn't. Cried his name. "I want a hug."
I broke down and even asked him myself.
He pretended not to hear me.

I scooped her up. All tears, screams and writhing. I grabbed our bag and made it to our truck as quickly as possible. I hugged her tightly. I told her boys don't always want to hug you when you want them to. I told her I loved her.

What else can you do?

At the back of my mind, I can't remember whether I asked her if she wanted to hug him goodbye. And if I did or didn't? So what, really.

Boys don't always want to hug you when you want them to. Or girls for that matter. Disappointment is out there. That was her lesson. We all relearn that regularly.

I know the day will come with bigger disappointments and heartaches. I cherish every moment that doesn't hold tears. I cherish that, for now, I can stop the tears with a hug, a kiss, and a few whispered words.

My lesson was this -
Kids start caring what other people think all too soon.
I knew he didn't want to hug her. And I knew exactly why.
Because it was embarrassing. Because the kids his age might laugh at him for being friends with a baby.
I understood.
Then it hit me - a 5-year old cares what other people think? Those expectations are already upon us at such a young age? We can't just be who we want to be & be unafraid of judgment? .. even then?
And? --- I took it for granted.

I know the day will come all too soon that it's my daughter on the giving end of the disappointment. The day she'll decide whether or not to do something based on what her friends will think.
I will hate that day.
The end of innocence.

So till that day - I cherish each moment completely lacking in pretension. Announcements to full restaurants that you've pooped (be it in your pants or in the potty). Conspicuous playing with imaginary friends and talking to dolls or her fingers. Wearing Hello Kitty rainboots with everything. Making funny faces for the camera anytime mommy asks.

What else can you?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

29 (not) forever

Today, my daughter is 29 months old.
I stopped counting in months sometime around 2 years old.

Certainly, the months still make a difference. You can tell a 26 month old from a 32 month old, but they're both still "2". But you feel dumb saying, she's 28 months. For a time I said, she turned 2 in April. Now I say, she's about 2 and a half.

Since she was born April 1st, the 1st of each month always strikes me. And yesterday, it struck me - 29. I was 29-years-old when I met her dear-old daddy.

29-years-old. That's the age people (jokingly or seriously) say they are when people ask & they don't want to say.

I guess there's something magical about it.
There was for me.
Life. is different now.
My path. diverged.

Have you watched Dora or Diego? If you've not had the pleasure, let me tell you - there's a frequent question - "Which path should we go down?" 
Sometimes there's 2 choices, other times 3. 
There's always a correct choice. 
They always tell you what was down the other path.

So different than life.

In life, there are infinite choices. 
Maybe they don't feel infinite at the time, but in truth they are.
There's is certainly not one correct choice. 
There are better choices.

But it's entirely subjectively, never concrete. Nothing so delightfully simple as "We chose the path with the cuddly animal we were helping. Down the other path was a baby-eating snake."
Good choice. Go, us.

I chose a path. 
I'm happy with it. Very.
I suppose you could call it a right path.

Sometimes I get a glimpse of the other path.
And I can't deny it's appeal.
Couples without children (and I'm looking at you, H&K) - your travel pics and nights on the town, microbrew tours and so on - all of it is right up my alley. But I do such things rarely. Because of the little girl sleeping on the other side of the house.

Really, I don't know how to go on from here. Without sounding like - a) I want to trade my daughter for a few beers or a trip to Greece. Or - b) Going on & on  about why I'm glad I chose my path (or it chose me?) and unintentionally making it sound like I think you made a bad choice.
Neither is true.
I hope only this - that all of my friends (single, married with or without children) are happy & fulfilled. A tall order really.

But why am I even pondering these choices?
Yes, there's the 29//29 thing.
But more.
We're making the choice again.
Another one? 
Many people assume that having one means you'll have two for sure, 3 or more is questionable. But 2 certainly.
Not us. We pondered. Our answer evolved.

At this point, signs point to yes.
The intention is now there. If not the full certainty that was there the first time.
I'm scared.
Life is good now. Why rock the boat?

Well, again - I don't want to sound to parents of onlies like I judge your choice. I do not. I still hold it at the back of my head as "maybe that would be the best thing for us."

But then I see my kiddo looking at pairs or groups of children. At the park today, "Look at those kids having so much fun." Tonight at the Nebraska bar, just looking and wondering about a table with a bunch of kids.

I've read the studies. I know only children can be every bit as happy as (or -ier than) those with siblings. I know the benefits of being an only child for her. I know the benefits of having an only child for me/us. I find them compelling.
Hence the lack of full certainty.

Unfortunately, Dora is not going to show up and point me down the correct path. 
For better or for worse, you can't go back and "try out" the other choice. Quantum physics and all that.
Fortunately, I think it is highly unlikely that there are baby-eating snakes down either path.

Fate will decide, I suppose. Also biology. Also my frequent inability to stay awake through her bedtime.
Wish us luck.
And much happiness to each of you on whatever path you choose.

Here's a little help ---

Centered & Consistent

My brother posted a link on Facebook the other day. He commented: "Can we get a center-right coalition, please?"
The article was about Republicans for Planned Parenthood. 
What? That exists? 
Yeah, I didn't know either.
My reply was: "Center Right, Center Left. I'll take either. Center Center?"
Does that exist?
Like operational in the real world?
Not to my knowledge.

Centered Schmentered.

And what about Consistency.

Just take this Republicans for Planned Parenthood thing. Why didn't we know about them? 
Because the party line is "No abortions. Ever. Under any circumstances. End of story."

In my humble opinion, it is inconsistent to the point of blatant absurdity. Why inconsistent?
Because purportedly the core of the party is Freedom. 
Freedom of religion.
Freedom to bear arms.
Freedom for "job creators" to behave in any fashion they see fit.

Businesses can make decisions about anything. People can make decisions about anything, except anything having to do anything with sex.
(Abstinence only. No abortions. No same-sex marriage. Connect-the-dots.)

I don't get it. I just plain don't get it.

On the other hand, I don't feel completely at home in the Democratic Party. 100% for certain, it's my best option. I just wish I had more options.
Like one consistently in the Center. Okay, let's be honest - left of center.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wasted Time, Tea Time & a Tale of Two Pizzas

In my 20's, I was a bit wild.
And when I say that - I mostly mean I frequently drank too much & made some poor choices.

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.

- Rita Mae Brown

Now that I'm a momma, my lifestyle is much tamer.
Not that I'm exactly tame. But I wouldn't say I'm wild.

Except sometimes.
Sometimes I forget.

Just for example, let's say my kiddo goes to Oma&Papa's for a sleepover, and I have the neighborhood gals over for a few games and a few drinks.
So easy to forget in those moments how different life really is.
You get to having fun, feeling like your old self.
So easy to go a little overboard.

Then the next day, kiddo returns.
Kiddo witnesses mommy's head in the toilet no fewer than 4 times.
Kiddo pats mommy on back & tells her "It's okay. You're okay."
Mommy feels really good about herself. Really good indeed.

But there are good moments too. Like, sometimes when you just can't care about details, you remember that sometimes that's a really neat thing?

Since I couldn't cook, we got a pizza.
Since I couldn't argue, I said yes when Hubben asked to eat in front of football on TV.
And you know what? It was fabulous.
Those Papa John's breadsticks were the first things to stay down all day.
Thank you, PJ. You rule.
And watching football was so snuggly and, honestly, something we enjoy together.

Most meals are at the table, facing each other & talking about our days. But football meals are special too.

Still, I was just a little off that day. And, insanely, the next day too.
And, heartbreakingly, I could see this in my daughter.
Not that things were bad. I just didn't quite feel connected. And I could tell she didn't either.
Yuck. Major yuck.

But the day after that, I busted out the new teaset we got in the mail. (Thank you, Kohl's Cash!)
I threw the leftover pizza in the oven.
And we all drank the heck out of some "tea" while it cooked.
No work. Just fun.

Most meals take me some effort to prepare. I enjoy it.
My daughter can sometimes help. It's fun.
But not as much fun as a tea party.
Let's be honest.
So, sometimes - leftover pizza is pretty special.

We ate it at the table btw. :)

The point is - if you screw up or let yourself down, don't wallow in it.
Be there for the little one who needs you.
Dust yourself off, and pour yourself a nice Cuppa.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Just a little more summer ...

In Florida, it's not at all Fall yet. If you think that cool breeze feels like Fall, you're new. That's a hurricane. It doesn't really feel like Summer either though, what with all the school buses & such.
But that doesn't mean I can't cook like it's still summer. You know - not turning the stove on & so forth.
I almost made up a recipe tonight. Not surprisingly the inspiration came from Pinterest. I think. I can't find the Pin now, but I haven't had an original idea since I joined the site. So, I'm guessing.
Here it is:

I'm calling it "Not so Pokey Tuna Bowl". Here's what I did:

  • 1 large can albacore tuna, drained
  • 2 medium avocado, chopped
  • 1/2 English cucumber, seeded & chopped
  • ~1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 large mango, peeled & chopped
I piled all that in a bowl. A pretty one, because I felt like it. S&P on top. Then I made a quick dressing in a separate bowl:
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (because I couldn't find the chopped cloves)
  • 1/2 tsp dry ginger
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce (light, because I have it)
  • 1 TBSP canola oil
I whisked together & drizzled over. Gently combine the salad ingredients with a wooden spoon. I served it with a few whole grain Scoops.

In case you don't get the pun ... a Poke bowl is a popular dish in Hawaii. It has raw sushi-grade tuna, rather than the Charlie variety. Also it was not pokey at all; it came together rather quickly.

The Hubben loved it. The Munchkin. Well, she liked the avocado & chips. Her cup'o'PB was a much bigger hit over the weekend.

That's fine, kiddo. Momma's looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Light, refreshing, a little exotic. Yum onward, my friends!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Props & Holding Back. Going Deeper or Opening Up

Have you seen this pose?

This pose scares the crap out of me. It always has. In Wheel, your feet are on the ground, but you're upside down. There's also this sense of vulnerability. for one - somewhere in the back of my head, I assume that some day, I'll break my neck. For another - although everyone else is in the same position, I have this fear of someone poking me in the belly - Doughboy-style.
But a couple weeks ago, I did it without fear. (I did not look like the picture.) The teacher asked us to put a block between our legs. The idea was to remind us not to splay our knees.
What it did for me though - was kept me from throwing my hips up higher than I really was ready to.

Do you ever do that in life? Push yourself a little harder than you really should? I do! Has it ever occurred to you that holding back a little might actually be a good way to get ahead? Weird, right? But true.

That block is a prop. I used to not like props in yoga. And, actually - sometimes I still don't.

Example - balances.
If I am within arms reach of a wall during standing balances, I will touch it. If not, I can't. Simple as that. Sometimes, sure - I wobble or fall out of the pose completely. But often, I just find a way to stay steady.

So yoga is like life -- props can set you free or hold you back.
So can your focus.

Say you're doing this:
Do you see how her hand is on the ground, flat palm AND her chest is rotated toward the ceiling? Those are both goals for the pose (extended side angle).
But what if you have to choose?
I used to try to get my flat palm on the floor, at any cost.
But then, one time an instructor talked a little more about opening your chest. She suggested we focus more on that. I did. I actually left my elbow on my knee. It felt SO much better. I used to hate this pose; not any more.

Once again - yoga is like life. 
Sometimes you can't do two things well at the same time. Sometimes you have to choose.

The yogini on the mat next to me could do all the things. She could do the thing from Wheel where you just stand straight up. Crazy. The thing where you take your toe in Standing Balance and hold your whole leg straight out to the side. And don't wobble at all. In Side Angle her palm was flat-smack on the floor & her sternum straight up to the ceiling.
I have also gathered that she goes all the time. I can't. Well, I could - if I never wanted to see my family.
So, I choose.
Save 1 non-working hour every week (or so), I choose them -

I make good choices. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


The "conservative base" insists Republican candidates be Pro-Life. Except, in my humble opinion, the position has nothing to do with life. The position is only Anti-Abortion. If you want "Pro" in the title of your position, may I suggest "Pro-Birth"?

A Pro-Life position would care about the baby/child/human after s/he comes into the world.

And that would mean making sure every s/he has access to adequate healthcare, decent primary education, and the ability to afford to even consider secondary education. On an even more basic level - no child should live in "food insecurity."

But poverty exists. In America. 15 million Americans live in poverty. Yes, like the pictures on TV. Except here.

Where do you suppose you'd find the highest poverty levels? Yep. Among families headed by single mothers. 40%. Forty percent. Overall, child poverty rose to 32% in 2010.

So if we care so much about making sure these babies are born, can we please do something about their lives?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Motherhood Moments: Laughter & Panic

This morning, I had one of those motherhood moments that immediately made me laugh.

Last night, I had one that made me panic and hate myself for a bit. I don't hate myself any more, but I doubt I'll ever laugh at it.

Both. Were opportunities. For learning. and For growth.

I love the growth, but could pass on the panic and guilt. I'm not sure that's possible though.

Here are the moments. Laughter first.

My daughter is nearly 2 and a half. A very verbal & social 2 and a half. But still very much 2 and a half. We started potty training her last Thursday. She's been doing amazing. Uh-Mazing. Like 0-2 accidents daily amazing. Now, mind you, we were mostly setting her on the potty every 30 minutes or less. But still, amazing. We even had a breakfast & park outing yesterday with Zero accidents.
What happens when you're too amazing? You get cocky. That's what.
I took her to the grocery store this morning. I asked her half-way through, "Do you need to sit on the potty?" A: "No." Okay, she's a big girl. She knows. Yes, but only 0.5 seconds before she pees.
So, right between milk & eggs. "Mommy, I have to go potty." Before "OK" could get out my mouth, pee was streaming down the cart. Oh, well. I had extra clothes for her, so off we went to change. We talked about how mommy would just take her, until she knows sooner & what a good girl she is for telling me. Then I had a talk with myself about bringing extra clothes for me. Then we finished the shopping. (Blissfully, only 2 more items in my pee-soaked shirt.)

Now, Panic.

My daughter likes to help me cook. I love that. But it's challenging. Finding a thing that's safe for her to do. Finding a safe way to do it. Even when you think you've got it just right, she might decide to jump up & down on the chair instead of cooking like she said she wanted to. Or, suddenly, the knives might be right there in her reach. Ack! Not relaxing. But I consider it good practice for when she gets older? Maybe I'm crazy. But I like her knowing & experiencing how her food happens. So I keep trying.
And I will keep trying after last night. (I think.) But MUCH much more carefully. Like, maybe you're over there doing totally fake cooking while I'm over here doing the real thing. Except, I bet that won't work, and she'll see through my facade.
Anyway, I've stalled long enough. My daughter got burned. Not badly, but literally.
I wasn't feeling my best, so we were having a lazy afternoon. Blue box Mac'n'cheese for dinner in front of football was up next. I told her she could help. I meant that she could help stir the sauce together. I set a timer, to show her how long the pasta had to cook before. Not having it. The empty box & a spatula? Yes! For 1 minute. But she wanted the real deal. So, I pulled the chair over and stood with her. I gave her a long spoon, and told her to be very careful. Sure, yes - my 2 and a half year old knows just how to be careful with hot water. You betcha.
You know what comes next. Over-vigorous stirring. Splash. Burned belly. Hysteria.

What I'm so glad didn't come next. Finger-pointing.

In my mind: That's exactly why I told you you couldn't help.
because who wants to blame themselves?
Out of my mouth: I am so sorry. It is my fault. I can't let you do things that I know might hurt you. Even if you get mad at me. I am so sorry.
because that's the truth.

** We removed the shirt, grabbed the boo-boo pad from the freezer, snuggled up & wiped away tears.

I'm sure in my husband's mind: Idiot! You're the adult. She's the child. Don't put her in harm's way just to shut her up.
because that's the truth.
Out of his mouth: There. You're okay. Mommy took good care of you.
because that's the truth too.
Then he finished dinner. Then we all snuggled in front of football & enjoyed our Mac'n'cheese.
Her belly is fine. She is fine. Our family is great.

It was completely, 100% my fault. I know that. My husband knows that. But he also knew that blaming me wasn't going to make it better.
My daughter might not know it was my fault. But she knows that it isn't hers. And she knows that mommy & daddy are a team. Even if we sometimes fail to stop her from getting hurt, we work together to take care of her.

And we always will.

Soy Delicious

Allergy friendly.
Lunches at my daughter's school have to be allergy friendly.
My daughter loves peanut butter. That is not allergy friendly.

I was telling my mom about some modifications I'd made to recipes recently to make them allergy friendly. She asked why I thought there were so many more allergies now than there used to be.
My answer? I have no clue. No clue.

Further, I have no clue why I can bring no nuts to school, but eggs, dairy, wheat, and all other common allergens are just dandy.

Deep thoughts for another day.

Bottom line: peanuts & all tree nuts are persona non grata.

Let's keep it light for today, and I'll just share some yummy recipes and their modifications. Actually, it's kind of a "big duh" modification. Soy nut butter.

The first one I bought was pretty yuck. It was chalky and a big fail for PBJ sandwiches. The second one (Soy Wonder) is better, but still no Peter Pan.

So, the main thing we're doing with these -- is baking. Soy-nut butter banana muffins have been a huge hit.

I found the original recipe via Pinterest. (Shock.) It's from Cooking Light.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread Recipe

The modifications I made were: 1. soy nut butter for the peanut butter (obviously). 2. 1 cup whole wheat flour for the white; I kept 1/2 cup white flour (for now). 3. vanilla yogurt for plain, because it's what I had. 4. I made them into muffins for easy school-day breakfast packing. It yields 16-18, takes 20-25 minutes at 350.

D.licious! Her teachers tell me how much she loves them, and I feel good about the protein punch, especially if I toss a soy-sage or hard-boiled egg in the bag!

The next frontier is this peanut butter granola, also found on Pinterest.

Peanut Butter Granola Recipe

I might need a new jar of Soy Wonder real soon!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fake it till you Make it

When people ask how you are, you say fine.
Everyone does. (Almost everyone.)
Some of us say so with a great big smile.
Some of us are much less convincing.
To some of my friends or even closer acquantainces (that's a thing, right?) - I say -

"Fake it till you make it."

Smiling when I don't especially feel like smiling.

It doesn't always happen.

But when it does? Magic.
It's good practice.
It reminds me how good it feels to feel good.
It reminds me how many reasons I have to feel good.

And what's more magic?
The other person smiles back.
Smiles make me happy.

PS - sometimes they don't smile back right away.
Kill 'em with kindness.
A totally over-played axiom.
And for a reason.
It works.
If you keep smiling at another person, there's only so long they can scowl back.
And if they keep scowling back forever & ever, well - so be it.

I'm not a religious person, but I remember this song from Sunday school. Do you?

The Magic Penny

Love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give away,
You end up having more.

It's just like a Magic Penny,
Hold on tight and you won't have any.
Lend it, spend it, and you'll have so many,
They'll roll all over the floor.

For love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give away,
You end up having more.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Catching up on Cooking

So. Forays into politics, spirituality & philosophy aside, I actually have still been cooking for my family all summer. Much of it healthy, fun, & easy - or some combination thereof.

For example, lunch yesterday. Have you seen those Flat-Out breads? If not, go look. They are such a great starter for easy meals - any time of day. My store keeps them with the pitas, by the hummus. They look like this:

I had a bunch of various leftovers in the fridge - BBQ chicken, black beans, grilled corn. I had some cheese. (Side bar: I thought I had shredded cheese, but only had a block -- did you know that's what your grater is for? I'd almost forgotten.) I threw it all on a flat, tossed it under the broiler, and voila!

Oh, but what's that on top? Just a little something I threw together. (I've also been overstocking produce this summer.) 

Avocado, mango, cilantro, S&P. Done. Yum.

Munchkin mostly ate the bread, but I loved the whole thing.

Later we did this.

Not a bad day.

We used the wraps for today's lunch too. Sliced chicken, Swiss cheese - broiler again. Done. Mustard for me. Green beans for both of us. Easy Peasy. Yum again.

We also baked banana muffins, splashed in rain puddles & had a long philosophical bedtime discussion regarding Cars. But those are topics for another day.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hard Choices -- Now, It's Personal -- Healthcare, part 2

Perhaps you've heard how much I loved the birth of my daughter. Perhaps you know me well enough to know of passion for natural birth.

If you do or you don't, I'll be brief - I am passionate about natural birth. I believe it's what's best for mom & baby. I know it is what was right for me & my daughter. I know that if I have another baby, I want to do it again.

I won't go into the reasons why. The evidence and experiences that led me here. You might disagree with me. You might even think I'm out of my mind. Fine. That debate is not what this post is about.

This post is about choices.

Recently, I broke my silence regarding the healthcare law. I explained in theory why I support the Affordable Care Act - mandate and all.

But now, it's personal.

We want to have another baby. (Sort of. Or at least we think we do. But that's also a topic for another day. Or a never day.)

I loved the OB practice we used with our daughter. Go back them, right? Easy choice.
Except not. In the past 2 years, my insurance dropped my beloved OB. I don't begrudge my employee. Our benefits are top-notch, amazing even. Majority rules; economies of scale. Nearly every child-bearable employee was going to a branch of a large OB practice in town. I get it.

But I honestly felt punched in the gut when I learned about it. My choices - 1) Pick a new OB in-network. 2) Or go to my old one - and pay 30% of all costs instead of 10%.
Based on the research I did during pregnancy one, this is the only practice in town that is truly friendly to natural birth. 

So, get new insurance, right? Easy choice.
Except not. My husband looked into his employer's insurance. For starters, the premium was more than twice the cost of mine. (See, I really do have it really good.) Same story for an individual plan.

In 2014, if no one repeals it, the Affordable Care Act goes fully into effect. Insurance exchanges will increase my ability to pick & choose an insurance company & plan that fits my needs, not the needs of the majority of my co-workers.
So, wait till then to have a baby, right? Easy choice.
Except that's 2 years from now, and I'm already on the upper end of my child-bearing comfort zone. (Also not the topic of debate for the day.)

So, the hard choice. Just pay more for the thing I really want. If it's that important, do it. And it is that important. There are things I can give up, without too much pain, to make up the difference.
I know that's a luxury.
My mom (30+ years in insurance claims, till she moved here to spoil her granddaughter) crunched some numbers today. Thanks to a generously low deductible, the differential will actually be less than we thought. Just under $1400. My husband & I both work, and we (currently) have but one child. But that's still a lot of money to us. Can you imagine a family with one income and more kids? Or just more kids? Or a sick kid?
Not a luxury everyone can afford.

Speaking of cost differences. If you've had a baby, you know the hospitals require you to pay in advance for your birth. They estimate the cost, based on the average. I got around $200 back. That would have been just my cost for an anesthesiologist and epidural. I remember factoring it out at the time. I came up with a figure over $4000 dollars that I saved the healthcare system overall.

And I'll do it again. You're welcome.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Alpha & Omega

So. Today was the day.

My kiddo's first day at her new school.
My last day in the hospital. (Much anticipated move to outpatient clinic happens tomorrow.)

I was pretty nervous. Not about today, but more about tomorrow.

When a big change takes place for your kid, you want to be her rock, right? Right. Timing is everything. Oh well.

If tomorrow goes half, or even 20%(!), as well as today, I'll be X.TAT.ICK. For either of us, let alone both of us - ZOMG.

She literally skipped into the place this morning. It was earlier than our visits, so we didn't know the teacher, but she didn't give a hell. She raced in and started playing with toys. Her whimpering before I left was almost token. No tears. No prying her off me.

I called a few hours later. "Oh, let me check," the assistant director said, "last I heard, she was running around like she owns the place."


And that's pretty much how I found her a few hours later. (More hours than I'd have liked, btw!) Sitting in a tent, shaped like a car, with a handful of new friends, singing "the Wheels on the Bus." One girl informed me that it was a car, but she did so after my little boss was out of ear shot getting a diaper changed.

I cannot fully explain it, but this was a totally different girl than I picked up from old school last week. She's always been a hoot. She's always been smart & sweet. She's always been my little girl. But tonight, she was more like the little girl who spent the day with her Oma & Papa (my parents).

She also got the nicest compliment from her teacher. (In my mind.) "She's so positive." I love hearing cute & smart, but positive - that was new! And, to me, very important & totally awesome.

Usually, she races to me at the end of a day & clings again. Tonight, she was relaxed. She saw me. She smiled. She kept playing.

You might think that would hurt my feelings. Nope. Thrilled. Thrilled to watch her play with her friends. Thrilled to know she knew I wasn't going anywhere & should could play till she was ready.

Eventually, we did leave. We came home. We made dinner. She helped. Really. The fish may have been a little more lemon-peppery and/or garlicky than I would have done alone, but it was delicious. Absolutely delicious.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


D as in Disaster.
D as in DAMN IT!
D as in Didn't let it get to me.

Long story short - Yesterday, I lost my car keys. (Well, I suppose I lost them Sunday, but I noticed yesterday.)
Yes, we have a spare. And yes, they were both on the same (lost) key ring. There's a back story, but that would make the short story long.

I'd been trying to get into the doctor for months. (No big deal, but I do need the check-up.) Finally, I had a day off, and he had an opening. Then, I'm ready to walk out the door. No keys.

No big deal. Not the first time. I looked for a bit, then called my husband to help me. It's a cute reversal of the usual stereo-typed gender roles. He finds in 1 minute what I looked for for 10 minutes without finding. Not this time.

My parents arrived to watch my daughter while I went to the doctor. They both looked. They each also have a fair track record of finding things I can't. Not this time.

Finally, I called to reschedule the appointment. My dad & husband went off to work. My mom & I planned on some light cleaning, so we figured the keys would turn up in the process. Not this time.

Bright sides?
I got two unpleasant things out of the way simultaneously - cleaning house & getting new keys made. (Thanks AAA!)
My mom & I kind of had a good time -- we took turns cleaning & playing with my daughter.
Since we were stuck near the house (waiting for locksmith etc) all morning, and it rained in the afternoon, we didn't do anything too taxing. Usually, I entirely over-schedule my days off. I go back to work feeling less rested!

I was also darned proud of myself - for?
With only a little guidance from husband & parents, I took care of the problem.
I actually can't remember the last time I lost my keys. (Big news in my world.)
And, most importantly, I did not berate myself for losing my keys.

Yes, I know the Olympics are happening. I just watched 5 gals less than half my age accomplish an amazing victory for our country. My victories are smaller (much much smaller), but they make me happy. I'll take it. :)

My Mantra

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Change: Too Much of a Good Thing?

"Change is good."

People throw that sentence around a little too freely for my taste sometimes. Oh, I grant you, change can certainly be good. But a couple of things:

  • It isn't always good
  • You can get too much of a good thing.
  • Saying & knowing it's a good thing doesn't magically erase stress.
My little family of 3 is experiencing 2 of the 3 right now. Happily, all of the changes are happy ones.
But all 3 of us making big changes at once? Whoa. Just, whoa.

  • My husband started a new job a few weeks ago (his second this year).
  • I start a new position at current job in two weeks.
  • Kiddo starts a new school next week (her second this year).
The career moves are one things. People of a certain age & mindset have to do those things. (Right? Or do we? Thought for another day ...) 
But that last one. Why oh why would we move our daughter when there's so much going on? When she's just starting to used to the newest teacher at current school.
For 4 main reasons:
  1. Location - Current school is right next to my work, which is roughly 40 minutes from my house. Translation: commuting with a toddler. No fun for either of us, and unnecessary exposure to road hazards for her. (But really, just plain selfishly? I used to enjoy my commute. My coffee, my NPR - it was my me time. Currently, I spend a good half the time explaining why I cannot turn around and find the shoe or sippy she just threw on the floor.) New school is 8 minutes from my house.
  2. Schedule - Our first school (attached to Husband's job of the previous few years) gave us a Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday schedule. My parents had her on Mondays & Fridays. I loved the compartmentalization. It was like a mini-week for our family of 3. Then the extended family might do something together on Fridays. Current school made us do Monday/Wednesday/Friday. It has its benefits, but none outweigh the fact that none of us ever seems to know where we're going when - least of all the little 2 year old in the mix! New school? They said I could pick my days & seemed unable to fathom why the other school wouldn't allow it.
  3. Professionalism - I love the teachers we've had at current school. Management leaves something to be desired. They seem to forget when it's time to transition a child to the next level. Therefore, my daughter, who talks like a 3 year old, was in a room with 18 month old's till well past her 2nd birthday. I finally had to jump up & down on one foot to get the director to notice. And when they did transition her? They did it sort of out of the blue, and also never bothered to tell me that I'd have to drop her off in a still different room from the one she was moving to. Also!? The staff doesn't have a uniform. Sounds like a dumb complaint, but I like knowing easily who works there. I also like my daughter to see women dressed professionally, which their dress code falls short of. New school - logo'ed polos & khakis - is that so hard?
  4. PS - the proverbial icing on the cake. With all the negatives, we just kept chugging along, thinking change would be harder than maintaining the status quo. Then there were a couple of "incidents" - just things I heard from other parents. Things about teachers - not terrible things. But not warm fuzzy things. So, I had an "if not now, when" moment.
So, there you have it. The timing couldn't really be much worse. The changes will be good for all of us in the end. But facing 3 new routines at once is .. a little daunting. I know it will pass. Knowing that doesn't blow my funk away. Yoga does. An extra splash of wine and/or an extra spoon of frozen yogurt do. And, naturally, sweet times with my husband & daughter do.

Oh, PPS - that picture of us is from Christmas last year. "Things" had been the same for nearly a year & a half at the point. I just realized I was no more or less happy then. Which is to say - very happy. So, there's that.

How do you deal with change?