Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lookie what I got!


The first payment is due on December 14th so if you were expecting a Christmas gift from me this year . . . um, I hope you like it?

It's a 2012 Chevy Equinox LS. No crumbs embedded in the back seat, no dog hair (yet) . . . ah, it's glorious. 

Still wasting time . . . just finding other ways to do it

As you may recall, last week I decided to unplug for a bit. This endeavor mostly consisted of me trying my level best to stay off Facebook. I also fought the compulsion to answer every email that hit my in-box. And let me tell you, it was hard. This is going to sound weird but sometimes I think I've made the mistake of being too competent. If someone has a question and you jump to answer it, you'll be the go-to resource henceforth. By trying to be that person for so many people, I'm bringing more stress into my life than is necessary. My friend Jane says that she has to remind herself that she is a human being, not a human doing. Do you ever try to ponder your own mortality? When I think of what it will be like to . . . not be here anymore, the first thing I always think is, "Well, at least the worrying will stop." I really need to find better ways to manage the goings-on in my own brain.

Staying offline (for the most part, anyway) gave me some extra time, which I used thusly:
  • Finally fixed my iPod. When I got a new computer back in March, it didn't seem to be too fond of my iPod. It would agree to synch my iPod with iTunes, but only just barely. It would not agree to put the right cover art with the right songs. So, I might be listening to Lily Allen but the accompanying album cover was AC/DC.  My brain found that confusing. I knew I needed to back up all of my music, restore the iPod completely, and then re-load the music. I was chicken shit, though, because I was convinced I'd botch the whole operation (and permanently lose over 3,000 songs and podcasts). Anyway, I managed to pull it off and now my iPod and computer have agreed to play nicely together. 
  • Researched new cars. My van has developed quite a few quirks and we're looking at potential replacement vehicles  And when I say "we" I mean that *I* have been doing research while Mr. Cup-is-Half-Empty finds reasons why all of my ideas are bad. 
  • Chose a new ring tone for my phone. For at least six months, every time someone would call me, I would think, "Gotta change that."  What is my new ring tone, you ask? This one.
  • Test drove some cars. When I told my daughter that I test drove a couple of vehicles, she gave me a dubious look and asked, "Well, did you pass?  Did you do it right?" With each passing day (since she's getting smarter and apparently I'm getting progressively dumber), she seems to be increasingly concerned about my ability just to navigate my way through everyday life. (Yo mama's so stupid she can't even pass a test drive!)
  • Made split pea soup from scratch. The week before that, I made black bean soup. People who know me well would say that I am not a big fan of soup. It's true - historically, I'm not a soup groupie. Vegetarians/vegans know not to order soup in most restaurants because most contain beef or chicken stock. However, I've learned that soup is probably one of the most vegan-friendly meals out there - at least when you make it yourself.  So, my crock pot is finally seeing some action.
  • Started reading a book. It's shameful just how little reading I do in a year. I downloaded The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League onto my Kindle and have started reading it. 
  • Got a haircut.
  • Baked a bunch of treats for church (I only have three vegan baked goods in my repertoire but I can bake those three items like nobody's business!) I also facilitated the service at church last Sunday.
  • Took my daughter to a haunted house.  It's a standard issue haunted house but during the day they turn on the lights and open it for kids. It was a lot of fun. They did have people jumping out at us so I definitely screamed a couple of times. At the end, one of the zombies handed my daughter a bag of candy. The poor kid couldn't eat a single piece of it. Because of her expander, she can't eat any chewy/hard candy. So no gum, Starburst, jawbreakers, etc. I'm hoping she gets a lot of chocolate during trick-or-treating. 
  • Cleaned out a closet. Okay, part of a closet. Since winter lasts about 11 months where I live, I've accumulated an obscene number of slippers over the years. I decided to cull some of my collection . . . to, um, make room for more. 
  • Passed several levels of Candy Crush. The addiction still has a grip. Sometimes I actually see the candies when I close my eyes for meditation at church. I'm pretty proud of that, as you can imagine.
 Until next time, mes amis . . .

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

#1000

Here it is. My 1000th blog entry. Woot! :::pumping fist in the air as if I am the only person on the planet with a blog:::

I have definitely considered abandoning the blog more than once. "Why bother?" I think to myself. But, I keep writing and I'm pretty sure I do it mostly for myself. Writing is often therapeutic for me. I remember when my friend Kevin died. I couldn't sleep so I got up in the middle of the night and wrote about him. It turned out to be the turning point in the grief process. I also remember another sleepless night when I rolled out of bed and wrote about a friend who had hurt my feelings. To this day, I still wonder if it was her or me or if the friendship had simply run its course.  I still miss her. Catharsis doesn't always mean closure, I suspect, but writing really does help.

I wish I had started the blog before my daughter was born.  There was a lot of anxiety before and after her birth and writing about it might have helped. However, I am glad I started the blog when I did because now it's fun to go back and look at what I wrote when she was two and three and so forth. It's easy to forget the little things about days spent with a toddler, so it's nice to have those preserved somewhere. For example, I recently revisited a blog entry about potty training that still makes me laugh. There was the time she was thirsty and demanded a piece of water. Or the horrifying trips to the grocery store.

I have used my blog to chronicle my daughter's life, to work through some of my own baggage, to weigh in on current events, and to kvetch about whatever is stuck in my craw at any given moment.

In 1,000 entries, I:
  • Lost and gained about a gazillion pounds
  • Visited at least a dozen states, including family trips to Texas and DisneyWorld.
  • Lost my sweet, gentle Karl Lee
  • Adopted Fat Gretchen (bam-a-lam)
  • Told our daughter that she was adopted
  • Lost one job and got another one
  • Discovered yoga
  • Went vegan
  • Bought a minivan (I hope to ditch that bad boy soooon)
  • Fostered a gazillion dogs
  • Got to be a bridesmaid for the first time
  • Won $10,000 (for a charity of my choice) from filmmaker/activist Michael Moore. Needless to say, I chose the rescue as my charity.
  • Gained four new nephews and a few other relatives
  • Got more involved in my church
  • Had surgery to re-arrange the bones in my left foot
  • Got my first tattoo
  • Aged 7.5 years
  • Kept one unruly kid alive
The entries that were the most popular with my hundreds dozens three readers:

For some, I think the reason they got a lot of readers is a result of naughty (or sometimes completely innocuous) language I may have used. I wrote two entries about my husband and daughter attending an annual Daddy-Daughter dance, and I'm pretty sure they got so many hits was because someone Googled those terms in hopes of finding something thoroughly disgusting. Sick fucks, I tell ya. For others, I'm assuming that they were cross-posted somewhere. My blog entry about my sister's wedding got a ton of hits and I'm not really sure why. Same goes for the entry about my optometrist. I'm assuming that my blog comes up when people Google terms related to nausea+optometrist.

My early blog entries didn't get a lot of traction because they weren't being posted automatically to Facebook like they are now. I like to tell myself that the early entries are still awesome, though. I mean, it's not really possible to talk about potty training TOO much, is it?

An entry that was meaningful to me was this one:  http://alabastermom.blogspot.com/2007/07/miscarriages-frog-wish-granted.html. I think it was the first time I really let myself work through the feelings of loss and joy I was experiencing. I still love that little frog, too.

So there you have it. A little retrospective of my life, as told in 1,000 small chunks. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Unplugging

This is my 999th blog post. I'll have to think of something fantabulous to write for the next one. For now, I think I'm going to do my best to unplug for a few days. I'm in a funk and I don't really know why. I'm irritable towards people who don't deserve my irritability. I'm frustrated by a personal situation that I can't talk about. I'm battling a medical issue and my doctor is operating under a theory that, it seems to me, is incorrect. The sameness of my days . . . ah, it seems endless. Go to work, come home, make dinner, do the laundry, yell about homework, go to the gym or to yoga, then go to bed. Thanksgiving can't come soon enough. No work, no homework yelling.  I know I'm being whiny but maybe I just need a wee bit of a break. I'm going to see if I can stay away from Facebook/email/texts for a few days. It seems silly that this prospect is so challenging to me.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Is this how Calvin Klein's mother felt?

I admit it: I am pretty tightly wound. Although I think I've mellowed a tiny bit as I've aged, my disdain for clutter has not. Now, I need to add a little disclaimer here. Because I'm not a fan of clutter, people think I might get all judge-y when I go to their house. Not in the least. I truly do not care what anyone else does with their home (and the stuff inside it), and I always feel terrible when I go to someone's house and they say things like, "Don't look in the spare bedroom. It's a wreck."  When I go to a friend's house, I actually feel like I'm off the hook. It's not my stuff so I don't have to worry about it.

It's kind of funny how some things bother me and some things do not. For example, I am totally fine with having clean dishes in the dish drainer rack. For items we use frequently, they just stay there indefinitely. I know that sort of thing drives some people around the bend. Occasionally, I put some of the stuff away but the rack is never completely empty. Does not bother me at all.  However, shoes in the middle of the living room floor?  I cannot deal. The junk drawer in our kitchen is full of old tubes of Super Glue, lint rollers, batteries, dog supplies, and a gazillion other odds and ends. It's a wreck and I have no intention of cleaning it out anytime soon. But if you leave an empty milk carton on the counter, I might lose my shit.

If you have a person in your life who sews or quilts, you know that these people are hoarders. And I say that in the nicest possible way.  My mom sews. She buys yard after yard of fabric because "you just never know."  There are buttons of all shapes and sizes, enough thread to loop around the planet eight times, and patterns galore. I'm pretty sure all sew-ers and quilters have at least one closet full of this stuff (and maybe another stash that they think no one knows about). And now my daughter is turning into one! Woe is me. I'm trying to nurture her creativity without freaking out about the sewing-related clutter.

She has now set up a sewing station in her bedroom. She has requested that I buy her a dress form. I placed an ad on Craigslist in hopes of finding a used one at a reasonable price (the adjustable ones are pretty pricey). Meanwhile, she has piles of fabric and sewing implements sitting around. She's been doing some hand sewing, which means there are surely needles in the carpet now. It's only a time until my bare foot connects with one of them.

For weeks she was bugging me to give her an old dress of mine. Finally, I dug out an old green one that I hadn't worn in about a decade.  She cut off the sleeves and then cut off the front hem so that it would have a bit of a train in the back. Then she sewed the armholes to reduce their circumference. And then she wore it.  I mean, just around the house but still - the girl's got a vision, I guess. I really want to encourage her creativity.  I am mildly concerned that she'll never have the patience to follow an actual pattern, though. I've tried to explain to her that it takes her Meemaw days to make a dress. It's takes care and precision. Even the people on Project Runway sew for two days straight without stopping. My kid doesn't even take the time to brush her teeth properly so . . . who knows.

When she makes it to Project Runway, she can turn to the camera and lament the fact that her mother wouldn't let her dye her bedsheets and sew blindfolds for the dogs.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Two new things I learned to do this week


1. Bake using coconut oil. When I went vegan four months ago, I assumed my days of eating chocolate chip cookies were over. Granted, it's a good thing that so many things are off the table (literally and figuratively) for me now. Although my diet is mostly a reflection of my beliefs about the dairy/factory farming industries (I'm not doing it specifically for health reasons, in other words), I do try to eat stuff that's actually good for me.

Anywho, I found this recipe and thought I'd give it a try. I was interested in it because it contains
ingredients I've heard of.  A lot of vegan recipes require ingredients that are obscure/exotic at best. Or maybe everyone keeps agave nectar sitting around?  I have no idea. An ingredient that seems to be somewhat more commonly available is coconut oil. I was a-skeered because I hate coconut. There aren't words to describe adequately how much I dislike coconut. However, I was hoping it didn't actually bring that sort of flavor to all the baked goods that seem to require it as an ingredient. So, I bought some. It's kind of weird to call it an oil because it's actually sold as a solid (and then becomes an oil if you heat it, I suppose).

I made the recipe and I must say it turned out great. My husband is about to make himself sick from eating so many of these cookies.  So, that was one accomplishment this week (not the "making my husband sick" part but rather the "learning to use coconut oil" part).

2. Expand an expander.  Once a day, I have to shove this thing into my daughter's mouth:

The orthodontist's office tied it onto the toothbrush. I'm guessing that they got tired of parents losing the key. Anyway, my husband will not have anything to do with the key-turning situation. I've done it three times now and I think I've got the hang of it. We do it at night, before she goes to bed. I do have to take out my contacts because they are bi-focal contacts and my close-up vision is not the best.  Then I make her stretch across the kitchen counter (where the lighting is the best). She opens her mouth and tilts her head back. Then I have to shove the end of the key into a tiiiiiiiiny little hole inside the expander.  I have to make sure I don't shove it in too far because then I could jab the roof of her mouth (or stab her in the brain or whatever).  Finally, I have to push the key back towards the back of her throat. There is a major obstacle, which is her tongue. If I could detach it for a few minutes each time, that would be ideal.

Three turns down, 39 to go.

See how learned I am?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The poodle skirt to end all poodle skirts


Originally, my daughter wanted to be an Irish dancer for Halloween. However, it turns out that the only way to get your hands on a pattern for one of those dresses is to fork over your kidney and your life savings. So, the kid and I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics and she flipped through the pattern books. She decided she wanted to be a "50s Girl." She called her personal designer (AKA Meemaw) and placed an order for a poodle skirt.  She was very specific about the color of the skirt, too.  It had to be a teal green/blue.

Today, we received the skirt. My mom also made a crinoline for A to wear under the skirt. I bought a basic white shirt and some saddle shoes. Now we just need a scarf and she'll be all set. As always, she plans to attend several Halloween events, so the skirt will get lots of wear.  The poodle itself is a sight to behold - it has a gold leash, a collar, and even a tiny little ID tag.  Fancy-schmancy!

Thanks, Meemaw!