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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.