Friday, January 25, 2013

Girl... Interrupted

There were two months when there were no entries to this blog. It’s a blog that 20 people read and there’s really no reason to apologize, but I feel bad anyway. Mostly because I have no record of my day-to-day buffoonery during that period. I've been a blogger for several years, so this makes me sad. I really have no legitimate excuse but to say that I was “girl interrupted.”

I got caught up in much family drama around Thanksgiving. Within driving distance, there are five houses (including mine) where we could have celebrated Thanksgiving. I already host Easter and Christmas Eve every year and of those five households, I’m the only female that works full time. I felt justified expecting an invitation. The week before Thanksgiving, EN and I were prepared to spend a low-key day at home with the girls. Perhaps we wouldn't even have turkey?

Even though it was the year for us to spend the day with EN’s family, no local invitation was forthcoming. Of course the family in Alabama wanted us, but the price for four plane tickets was out of reach. Finally, MY sister invited us and I took her up on the invitation. Of course it was momentous. I hadn't seen my niece since March when I discovered she was pregnant. I had never met her daughter, who was born in July.

As EN’s mother assured him that she had plans, we accepted the invitation from my sister. The day before Thanksgiving, guess who calls to say she’ll be all alone for the day? I told EN he should visit her with the girls in the morning, so she wasn't all alone all day. Long story short, the Thanksgiving holiday passed without issue.

In early December we had a small soiree for EN’s 45th birthday. I’m married to an old dude, y’all! We invited people from work, friends, hockey buddies… and ended up with 50 people and a gigantic bonfire on a very cold night. With a minor exception or two, the party went off without a hitch and a good time was had by all!

Report cards came out and we had conferences with the girls’ teachers the following week. Spice, as I thought, is known to be very smart and helpful in the classroom. However, she is only willing to do what she wants to do. If she’s put in a reading group that doesn't include her favorite cohorts in crime, she simply will not participate. No surprises with her. Sugar’s conference was thrilling to me. After the drama with Science and mean girls this year, she pulled out ahead and got straight A’s once again. Homework at the kitchen counter did the trick!

Then, on December 14th the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Moment of silence.

Even on 9/11 I didn't cry when I watched the footage. But on 12/14/12, I sobbed. I cried big ugly tears and my heart broke over and over again with every emerging detail. For weeks I cried every time I was alone. I thought about families with piles of gifts for recipients that were no longer on this earth. I thought about families waiting for their babies to come home from school, to have them never arrive. A month later I cannot remember that day without a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

I have tried over and over to empathize with these parents and put myself in their shoes, but I cannot. It is unbearable, a Band-Aid-ripped-off- an-open-wound type of unbearable. Perhaps it’s because I have a child of exactly the same age, or perhaps it is that I am human and something so devastating should never happen.

I am generally not religious and can count on zero fingers the number of times I've been to church in the last two decades. However, I will say that I think there’s someone up there who watches over us, and never gives us more than we can handle. I began to question these beliefs on that day, and I continue to have issue with a God who would allow such an atrocity to happen.

I learned a lesson that day, or was reminded of an old rule that EN and I made when we moved in together: even if you are mad at each other when you leave in the morning, always ALWAYS hug and kiss and say I love you when you leave each other for your day. You never know when it will be the last time you see one another. So there, maybe that’s it; maybe that’s our lesson from God. Maybe He was reminding us to hug and kiss and hold close those that we love. It was a reminder to not take each other for granted.

I pray that the 26 lives that were lost that way found their places in Heaven and stand watch over their loved ones.

Moment of silence…

Spice turned seven on December 20. We made beautiful snowman face cupcakes for her class, took her to dinner and let her choose a new bike as her gift. She was delighted to ride out of the store and into the parking lot. I’m astonished that “my baby” is the ripe old age of seven. She is funny, smart and helpful. Our surprise baby definitely completes our family.

Before long, Christmas was upon us and we were making a mad dash to get everything done on time and not to forget any of the details. This year I had a brand new kitchen and was able to bake and cook to my heart’s content. The girls and I made a shit ton of cookies and snacks and genuinely enjoyed working together. I’m proud to say that I had everything bought and wrapped in advance of Christmas Eve. Yes, you read that right. I think the second year in a row that I wasn't wrapping after everyone left our Christmas Eve Extravaganza.

EN and I both took vacation time between Christmas and New Year’s. I’m delighted to say we hardly did anything. We did take a day to visit EN’s grandpa in Connecticut. He was thrilled to be taken to lunch at one of his favorite haunts. When we took him back to his apartment he told us many stories of what his childhood was like. That’s the history every child should know about their family.

2012 drew to a close and we began 2013 with drama related to unexpected expenditures. My car randomly won’t start and no one really knows why. I broke two teeth and they can’t be fixed… the cost to remove and rebuild is more than the cost of my first brand-new car. Indiana, the Jack Russell, required a $1500 surgery the week before Christmas. It was mostly cosmetic in nature and done to prevent future problems. I’ll simply say here that if a boy can reach his penis with his mouth, he WILL lick it until it starts to turn inside out. True story. I have the bill to prove it.

My goal now is to get back on track and blog regularly. It’s become important to me to keep track of sometimes mundane happenings that happen every day that I would normally forget about. I laugh when I go back through some of my posts and remember the time Spice “bippity boppity boo’d” her sister into a penis, or a fun day spent with Sugar. So I keep this blog as much for myself as I do the 20 people that read and tell me they liked what I had to say.

So to those of you that continued to check the blog regularly, or those that texted or emailed to find out where the fuck I was, I thank you for waiting patiently while I was “interrupted.”

Ice Princess

Chubby Chicks: Week Two

We weighed in a day late this week because my partner in crime had a work meeting during our normal weigh in time. Yes, we could have gone before or after, but we didn't. We waited until today.

It was a hard week. I was outrageously hungry last Friday and I don’t know why. Perhaps I was still on a high from dropping so much the week before. Over the weekend, I wasn't so well behaved. I had some pizza. I had some birthday cake. I celebrated my weight loss with beer and a nice single-serving size bottle of wine.

I also spent a bit of time on the treadmill. I do get some credit for that, people!

I wasn't surprised to see my weight go up when I weighed myself Monday morning. But I was ok with the gain, I had the whole week to watch what I ate, track points, etc. After two days of being really good, my weight shot up Wednesday morning… almost back up to where I started.

What. The. Fuck.

I spent Wednesday in a vile mood. I tracked every morsel that went in my mouth. I was such a bitch that I tried to cheer myself up by saving points for a glass of wine during Nashville. I was happy on Thursday morning to see my weight going back down. Phew.

I looked back over the week and I realized that on several days, I left points on the table. Meaning of the measly few I get every day, I didn't use them all up. In my brain, I thought, “Good, I’ll lose even more.” For some absurd reason, it doesn't work that way. It seems that if you eat less than your allotted amount, your body hoards everything that enters it. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but that was my experience this week.

So, weigh in. today. Down .2. Yes, that says POINT TWO, it’s not a speck of dust on your screen. Better down than up, that’s all I have to say.

No, one more thing. I’m pissed. REALLY pissed. I decided last week that every time I lose a total of five pounds, I’d buy myself a prize. Something small, maybe a scarf or a sweater… Looks like I don’t get to buy jack shit this week. 

Ice Princess

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chubby Chicks: Week One

About once a year… or more, I whine about my weight and all the crazy plans I have to lose a shit ton… and nothing happens. I am disgusted with myself and rereading the blog reminds me painfully of my failings.

While I might not be eating right or exercising EVER, the way I look is always on my mind. I’m unhappy and embarrassed. My coworker and I joked about starting Weight Watchers after the holidays, but then I got sick and didn't want to go out in the cold that first Thursday after returning from the break.

I was still sick and couldn't hear anything last week, so I felt justified in saying, “We’ll start in another week.”  However, I was on Facebook and someone put up one of those inspirational signs that said, “A year from now you’ll wish you started today.”

Well fuck you and the horse you rode in on, that is a SIGN sent down from the Facebook gods, we must start today. So last Thursday we were off to our first meeting. We weighed in separately, but then told each other anyway. Our number on the scale is near identical. I won’t add that she’s two inches taller than me though!

I was surprised by all the changes in WW. I had been a member twice before and did quite well, especially the first time around. I had been anxious to get my slide rule back so I could start figuring out points and get my fat ass back on track. I am not going to lie, I almost cried in the meeting when she told me they don’t have the slide rule any more.  They assured me that it was easy to figure out points with their magical app available for the iPhone, eTools online or I could buy their handy new calculator.

Thanks for the options, but I want my fucking slide rule. Also, I don’t have an iPhone… so for the past week, I've been relying heavily on the eTools… I regularly put in numbers from food labels or random items all the time to see how many points things are worth. My coworker and I shared a moment of silence when we learned that one of our favorite pizza places has a 52 point value for their individual sized pepperoni pizza.

We no longer count calories. We look at things like fat grams, carbohydrates, protein and fiber. It didn't take this old girl long to figure out what makes points values higher and how to eat the maximum amount for the least number of points. One can eat mass quantities of vegetables and fruits and not have to use any points. It’s too bad that there are only about five vegetables that I’ll eat and two are corn and potatoes… not really even vegetables at all.

So I whine to Skinny Bitch that I’m starving and she suggests roasted vegetables. I've never heard of such a thing, tell me more. Nearly every night, I've been throwing together a combination of fresh vegetables in a baking pan with a bit of olive oil and spices and throwing in the oven at a high temperature… DELICIOUS. So good that even Sugar and Spice gobble them up!

Since EN does all the shopping, he noticed the different food I added to the standard list and now he’s interested in WW too. It’s like being part of a cult, I tell you! I started finding points values for all his favorites and he decided he’s going to try this. We know what’s coming right? He’s going to lose weight faster than me and I’ll be pissed. I have already thought of that solution, I will lie to him about points… Oh the Big Mac? Only two points! Load up, have three!!

It’s my membership so it’s easy for him to ask how much every food is worth. And it’s even easier for me to get annoyed with his constant asking, especially after I say “FRUITS AND VEGETABLES HAVE ZERO POINTS.” Yesterday as he was making his lunch, this is what we sounded like”

EN: How many points is lettuce?
Me: Zero. Vegetables have zero points.
EN: How about peppers?
Me: Zero. Peppers are vegetables.
EN: How many points are…

At this point, I snapped. I recollected one of my favorite commercials of all time. I don’t remember what exactly it was for, but the scene was in a store called Everything’s A Dollar. The customer kept asking over and over “How much is this?” and the employee kept saying “One dollar” before getting so frustrated he grabs the microphone for the store and shouts “ONE DOLLAR” the next time the customer asked.

The next time EN asked how many points something was, that’s what I did. I shouted “ONE DOLLAR” because I was annoyed, frustrated and maybe a touch hungry.

First weekly weigh in was today. I lost four pounds. I’m pleased and determined to stick with the program. I’m wise enough to know that a four pound loss every week isn't reality. My goal is to weigh in every Thursday and see a loss, no matter how big or small. Sooner or later I’ll get to my happy place.

Every Thursday I’ll blog about how I've done. Not to bore you all to tears, but to keep me honest and to have a “journal” of sorts to look back on. 

Ice Princess

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cookbook Club

As best as I can tell, Oprah seems to have made Book Clubs as popular as they are today. However, I can remember my mom and her friends buying books and passing them around and talking about them afterwards, well before Oprah was famous.

With EN working second shift, I almost never have the opportunity to join a book club. My friend Emily used to let me play along with hers. She’d read the assigned book, then pass it on to me. I wouldn't go to their meetings or anything, but Emily and I would discuss the books between the two of us. It didn't take long before I started calling her club the “Disturbed Chicks Book Club.” Every book I read from their selections left me feeling dreadful afterwards.

First, there was Body Surfing by Anita Shreve. It’s been so long now that I can’t remember why I disliked this book, but I can remember thinking “that’s time spent that I’ll never get back” when I finished it. Then we read Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell. I've since read other books by Tawni and I love the funny characters in them. Back Roads was disturbing and horrible and I still feel icky when I remember the plot of that book. The last book I read from their selections was We Need to Talk about Kevin. Though I loved this book, I bitched to Emily the whole time I was reading. I HATED the format: letters from a wife to a husband. What the fuck, I thought, just tell the story. Well, it all makes perfect devastating sense in the end. So while I enjoyed the book, once again I found the story to be sad and disturbing.

I love to read and I read A LOT. Friends have introduced me to so many wonderful authors I would never have discovered on my own. I never would have picked up The Hunger Games on my own, but my friend Sarah encouraged me to read them and I especially loved the first book. Water for Elephants and The Help were other suggestions I might not have read without recommendations, even though they were very popular. I still cannot bring myself to read about vampires. That’s a level of make believe that I can’t bring myself to care about.

I am a frequent flyer at my town’s library. I know most of the librarians and I’m there often enough to get recommendations from them. I’m also enough of a skank that I frequently owe late fees. The way I look at it, it’s a community service to pay these fines. Every dime I pay goes towards more new books, right? Sadly though, our library is fairly small and I often have to have books ordered in from other libraries, so I have to wait for something I really want. That’s ok though, I've recently discovered new series’ that keep me very busy.

A few months ago, I was at the library and I saw a notice for a Cookbook Club. As a big girl that loves to cook, I was intrigued. I found the gal running the club and begged her to tell me more. She explained that the members of the club would each get a copy of the selected cookbook to play with for a month. On the day of the meeting, the members would attend and bring a dish they prepared from one of the recipes in the book. AND the meetings would be held on Saturdays!

I immediately texted Skinny Bitch and begged and pleaded that she do this with me. It took some cajoling and brown nosing, but she finally agreed and I signed us up. Since then, we've confessed to each other that we each actually read cookbooks for fun. Is there such a thing as a “foodie geek?”

Our first selection was available at the end of December. It is Get Cooking by Mollie Katzen. I like that we are starting out with a “cookbook for beginners.” The introduction talks about kitchen tools and preparation of various foods. The recipes cover everything from soups to desserts, but the best part is that the recipes call for regular food that even I have in my kitchen after a long sabbatical from the grocery store.

I almost immediately decided to make a Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup. It sounds interesting and delicious and like something I wouldn't normally make. Plus I asked Santa to bring me an immersion blender for Christmas, so this soup would break it in nicely. Then I started looking more at other recipes and now can’t decide what to bring. Since I convinced Skinny Bitch to join this club with me, I almost feel like I should make the Caramelized Balsamic Red Onion Soup, which I would never eat, but she would love.

And so I read and I play… The other night I made Chinese-style Peanut Noodles for dinner, which was very tasty. It’s been pretty fantastic to bring a new variety of food to the table and to be so excited when my girls are willing to try new things.

I’m not going to lie, I could waste hours upon hours perusing the internet for new recipes, but there’s something amazing about paging through a cookbook and being excited about bringing new stuff to the table. Maybe someday we’ll get out of the rut of having tuna casserole, sloppy joes and macaroni and cheese on a regular basis!

First Cookbook Club meeting is on January 26. I hope I can finally decide on a recipe to share before then. Otherwise, I’ll be the overachiever that shows up with 15 different dishes!

Ice Princess