Saturday, March 31, 2012

On weight.


My intention in life was never to be a fat person, as I suppose it isn't truly the intention of anyone.  I didn't want weight to define me, and probably to most people, it's a non-issue - I like to think that fat, skinny, toned or beefy - whatever your body type, people look inside first.  That certainly is the case with my husband, who has never made me feel less than beautiful.  He finds me mildly amusing, he likes to hold my hand, and he tells me how much he loves me every single day.  The things he finds attractive about me have nothing to do with what the scale says.

But the fact is that I have allowed weight to define me.

Gaining weight is so easy; effortless, really.  It happened practically over night.  It happened in and around life happening - between jobs and boyfriends and moves.  It happened while I was falling in love.  It happened while we navigated family court.  It happened in the months leading up to my wedding.  It happened every week between Monday and Sunday.  It gained momentum over me and before I could stop it, I weighed more than I had ever thought possible for myself.  And even as the scale tipped in a precarious direction, I seemed unable to permanently change the course I was on.  My weight fluctuated based on what I wanted at the time.  It was never really about me, it was always about things that I wanted: to look good in my wedding dress, to have a baby, to be seen in public in a bathing suit.  And while these were all noble wants, they weren't long term goals.

But the diet would always start tomorrow.  Or I'd set unrealistic expectations for myself and the moment that I didn't meet them or fell off of the wagon or didn't go to the gym that one time - I quit.  I didn't allow myself the opportunity to redeem myself because my short-term wants did not equate to long-term goals.  And so I spent years with my weight fluctuating up and down - heavy one month; less heavy the next month.  But it was never consistently moving in a downward slope and I was never truly healthy.  And then I got pregnant before I could loose the weight that I wanted to and I gained 56 pounds (I just threw up a little bit in my mouth writing that.) on top of the 50 pounds that I had intended to loose before I got pregnant.  You do the math.  Surprised I had a healthy, full-term baby without any complications or prenatal diabetes?  Yeah, some days I am, too.

I was not active at all during the 9 months that I was pregnant.  I came home after work - waddled home, is more like it - on feet that hurt even though I had basically sat all day.  I craved oranges and chocolate milkshakes (although, thankfully not together).  And was still somehow surprised that between milkshakes and growing a human, I gained a lot of weight.  It's true that you do loose some weight after you expel said human, and I did.  When I stepped on the scale at my 6-week postpartum visit, I breathed a sigh of relief the the number had gone down.  But my weight loss hit a plateau because I wasn't nursing and I still wasn't active.  I spent the months following Finn's birth feeling extra heavy and extra tired and extra unambitious.  I have precious few pictures of Finneaus and me from his first few months.  I never put myself in front of the camera because I didn't like what I saw.  I was doomed to repeat the same cycle I had encountered before: the diet was always going to start tomorrow; I gave up too easily; I was looking for a short-term fix.  Or I used the excuse of being too tired with a new baby.  I went back to work and by the time I got home in the evening, I just wanted to play with my baby before he went to sleep, eat dinner with the rest of my family, and spend time with my husband.

When the opportunity to move away from the city fell into our laps - and with it, the security for me to stay home with Finn and Abby - we jumped on it.  Suddenly I would have time - time to exercise, time to plan and eat healthy, time to make a long-term weight loss goal.  But moving is a wicked form of torture and as my last day of work came and went and was replaced by the stress of packing, of finding a place to live, of unpacking, of dealing with the emotions of an uprooted 11 year old girl high on drama, I found myself as tired as I was in the city and with even with even less motivation and energy than I had when I worked full-time and came home to take care of my family.  I was suddenly navigating single-parenting while my husband worked 12+ hour days.  I felt as though I was doing it all (although, I think some of that was the high of the move wearing off and the stress of being in a new place with no family within a 3 hours of us for the first time in the history of all of our parenting years) and I found myself falling into bed at the end of the day a little bit uncomfortable with this new stay-at-home life that I thought I was going to love.

And then the best thing in the world happened to me.

I threw out my back.

We're not talking a little tweak in the back.  We are talking a full-blown, muscle-spasms, wrenched back; a pain that the pain-killers I had left over from giving birth couldn't touch.  It was worse than childbirth and, as I have now experienced both, I feel as though I can say that with some level of confidence.  I made noises that I didn't think were possible when I sat down or stood up or bent over to pick up the baby (because Finn wasn't walking yet) or laid him down in his crib (which was more like a tuck and roll maneuver that inevitably woke him up, not that I can blame him.).  Remember that part about Uriah working 12+ hour days at his new job?  That also meant that there was no sick time for him to be able to stay home and help me, or to even leave work early or go in late to give me a break.  I was on my own.  I went to the chiropractor without relief (and without insurance).  My husband helped me into bed at night and I stayed in the same position because, even though it's uncomfortable to sleep in one position without moving, it was more uncomfortable to try to move and when I did move, the pain woke me up. After x-rays and ultrasonic treatments (those hurt like a son of a biscuit, let me tell you!) and so many adjustments that I felt like the chiropractor was my new best friend, the pain started to ease.  I was still afraid every time I sat down that I wouldn't be able to get back up again and that the pain would return full-force.  But slowly that fear started to ease, as well.  I still woke up every morning so stiff it brought tears to my eyes, but the muscles seemed to loosen throughout the day the more I moved.  The best advice I got from my chiropractor was to move and keep moving.  And he told me, gently but firmly, that loosing weight would help this awful pain to not repeat.  I read between the lines.  I needed to do something about my weight immediately.

So every morning, bright and early, Uriah would help me out of bed, he would change Finn and slather him in baby sunscreen and carry him down the stairs for me because it took me at least 10 minutes to get dressed.  I took the stairs one at a time, one hand on the banister, the other clutching my back to make sure the muscles wouldn't spasm.  I eased into a chair, breathing through my nose and clenching my teeth, and waited for Uriah to put my socks and shoes on for me and then he'd carry Finn outside and secure him in the stroller.  Then we kissed Uriah good-bye, knowing he would be long gone by the time we returned from our walk, and we took off down the road.

Old ladies passed me every single morning on our walk.  I shuffled for the first mile, and by the time we hit the "turn-around spot," I could set a bit brisker pace.  And by that, I mean I could walk like a normal person, not shuffling, exactly, but by no means could my walk be considered anything more than a casual stroll to an on-looker.  We walked as the day heated up.  We walked before the mosquitoes got bad.  We walked every morning and sometimes in the evening if we were lucky enough for Uriah to be home before the sun went down.  Our two-mile daily walk - which had me huffing and puffing and sweating through my shirts - turned into three then four miles.  When Uriah brought home a bike trailer for Finn, we mapped a 5 mile bike ride on the trail and slowly increased it to 10 mile bike rides by the end of the summer.  I started to breathe easier.  My clothes fit a little looser.  My face stopped feeling so puffy.  I wore shorts for the first time since 1993.  I lost 20 pounds over the summer just by walking and modifying my carb-intake.  I felt like I had more energy in that one summer than I had at any point in the past 5 years.

The fall and winter found us walking less and less outside.  I started a part-time job and I tried to keep up with working out on a treadmill after work, but walking on a treadmill is a lonely business.  I much prefer to talk with Finn about leaves and birds and squirrels as we traverse the trails.  I like the smell of the trees and fresh-cut grass.  I like the way the wind cools me down.  I like hearing Finn's constant chatter and his fingers pointing out every truck and motorcycle and puppy that passes us.  I like it when Abby comes along; it gives me a chance to grill her on the intricacies of 7th grade life - it gives us a chance to be together and to show her that being active isn't just limited to basketball and volleyball during the school season.  I like it when Uriah comes along - he pushes the stroller and gives me a chance to swing my arms a little bit (arm fat is a funny, giggly thing.  I need to lift more weights.).

I hit a plateau this winter, though, and needed to change some things.  More to the point, I needed some accountability.  A low-carb diet works fantastic for me; my body seems to hang onto any carbs that I eat for dear life, so when I cut them out, or cut back on them drastically, I tend to loose weight.  However, it wasn't a practical lifestyle choice for the rest of my family.  I like to share a grilled cheese sandwich with my son and I really like mashed potatoes.  What I didn't like was feeling guilty when I did have something that was high-carb (crackers with my cheese snack, potato chips on our picnic).  I also needed to learn how to eat correctly - maybe healthfully is a better word - and what portion control really meant.  Since I couldn't do it on my own, and admittedly, I am my own worst enemy when it comes to weight loss, just before Christmas I joined Weight Watchers.

This is not an endorsement of Weight Watchers, although if you ask me, I will tell you why I think it's great and why it works so well for me.  Instead, I will simply say that I am learning how to eat all of the things that I love - carbs included - in moderation.  I am learning how to make small changes that won't cause my family to revolt on me - fat free this and light that - a little at a time.  I am learning that food doesn't taste different when I make those changes.  I am learning what a portion really looks like.  I am learning how to be active, eat correctly to fuel my body and, most importantly, I'm learning to be comfortable with the more healthy person that I'm becoming.

And after 4 months of following the plan, I can check an additional 20 pounds off of my weight loss goal.

Is every day a healthy picnic in the park?  Hell, no!  It takes time and patience - time, I have; patience, I lack.  but being healthy happens one day at a time.  Some days I really just want a hamburger and french fries.  Those are the days that I have a support system in place and I rely on it heavily.  Uriah will ask me if  I really want to blow all of my daily points on one meal.  Obviously, I don't and obviously I know that it'll just blow the rest of the day because it's not realistic to eat just one meal.  Instead, we come up with alternatives.  Yes, a few french fries are okay - if they're baked oven fries.  Instead of a hamburger, we'll do a turkey burger or a chicken burger.  Uriah helps me plan meals that are going to stay within my eating guidelines and I am very, very lucky to have him in my corner.

I am not even close to the end of my goal - I have a lot of pounds to go, but the momentum is there and I am well on my way.  I had to train myself that the weight was going to come off slowly this time, to give my body time to adjust and become comfortable with less of things.  This time, weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint.  My goal is to be healthy: for myself, first and for my family, second.  I want to bypass my family's history of diabetes and high cholesterol and high blood pressure.  This is all about me, my friends - but in a good way, this time!  I want to know that I can keep the weight off - or, if we choose to have another baby sometime in the future, that I can keep my weight in check and not allow it to get out of control (side eye to the milkshakes that I loved before!) and get back to a healthy weight in a healthy amount of time afterwards.  I want to continue to stay active.  I want to run around my backyard with my son and not have to sit down because I'm out of breath.  Most importantly, however, I want to set a good, healthy, and active example for my children.

And, selfishly, I want to wear a bathing suit in public without feeling self-conscious or embarrassed.  I told Uriah the other night that by this time next year I will be ready to take a vacation to Mexico.  And I will buy my swimming suit from Victoria's Secret.

It's all about having attainable goals, right?!

This post has gotten really long, thank you for reading this far!  It has taken me a lot of days to write and reflect, and honestly, to get up the courage to share it.  Weight and weight loss are such personal things and most of it is tied into more than just an inability to put the spoon down.  The thoughts and feelings that we each have regarding our own bodies can be the starting point for some really great discussions if we can first get past our own reluctance.  If we each make small choices, I believe that we can help each other be stronger and healthier.  If you've done something great for yourself, or for your family, to become healthier, sharing is always good!

That being said, join me on Monday, won't you?  I'd like to show you in pictures what a difference 40 pounds can make.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

May I introduce you to...

 ...Boris Yeltsin and his lady-friend, Esmeralda.

More commonly known as "Shishy" in this house.

For reasons that are probably only obvious to me (Uriah rolls his eyes at me so much, I'm tempted to whack him upside the head to make them go straight.  It's unnerving.) Boris is the fish on the left and Esmeralda is the fish on the right.

We also purchased a small snail.  His name is Hoover.

Finn loves his new "shishy" friends.  He really wanted to help Uriah get the tank ready, he stuck his whole hand in the water (before the fish were in there) and he really wants to pet the shish fish.  We are also (shamelessly) using Boris and Esmeralda to learn about counting, as in:

"How many fish are in there, Finn?"
[Blank stare.]
"One," I prompt."Two."
[and a delighted squeal] "Three!"

I guess we should have gotten another fish.  At least he knows that three comes after two, so that's something.  We'll keep trying.

Finn wanted to introduce them to Kitty Kitty.  Between Finn's face constantly plastered on one side of the tank and Kitty Kitty shoved up next to the other side, I think they might die of fright.  If they live another the day, I'll be surprised.

In other news, it's Uriah's birthday today!  Hooray for birthdays!  I've got a cinnamon ice cream base waiting to go into the ice cream maker this morning and I'm going to make him the best damn apple crisp in Iowa (I really don't like apple crisp or apple pie or really anything apple related, so I'm only assuming it's the best because I don't  try anyone else's.  Also, doesn't that sound un-American?).  More importantly, however, I'd hate to have to sing the birthday song and then have to officiate a fish-funeral, so I'm pretty sure I'll spend the day constantly telling Finn to keep his fingers out of the tank and Kitty Kitty away from the fish.

Enjoy your day, friends!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Let's call this our dry run for the Bunny.

Last year I stumbled across a website that had the most vibrant dyed Easter eggs - and everything you needed to do to hollow out, dye and fill your own eggs for an Easter egg hunt.  Since I didn't have the time or the energy or, actually, come to think of it, my own house (we were in the process of packing and moving, so Easter was at my Mom's), I just read the post for it's recipe on how to dye eggs.  This year, however, I'm taking Easter to a whole new level.

I am going to make the eggs for our Easter egg hunt.  I did a trial run over the weekend to ensure that this was, in fact, going to be a feasible undertaking.  We all know that sometimes I get these grandiose ideas in my head, but fail at the executions (see: Finn's 1st Birthday Cake). However, this time was different. The process is a bit time consuming, it's not something that can be done in an hour or two, but I think the results are going to so much fun in a couple of weekends when we have a full-on Easter Egg Hunt in our back yard.

Step 1: Crack a small hole in the bottom of your eggs - or drill a small hole if you have a drill. I chose to use a pointy nut-cracker thing that I found in my junk drawer because: a) I wanted to be able to eat the eggs after I got them out of the shells and b) we don't own a teeny-tiny drill. I probably should have taken a picture of the eggs as I cracked and emptied them, but I didn't. Sorry.

Step 2:  Following the original instructions, empty the shells, clean them out of remaining egg matter and then boil the shells for 10 minutes to make sure they are good and clean and ready for your Easter fillings.  Allow the egg shells to dry completely.  Note: THE SHELLS ARE FRAGILE!  They will crack easily.  That's the point later on when the eggs are found and need to be cracked open to get the surprises out, but for now, be gentle!

Step 3: Following the original recipe, make your egg dyes.  Boiling water, vinegar and both regular and neon food coloring will do the trick.  After you've made your dyes, submerge one egg in each color.  The original recipe has soaking times for each color, as well, to get the optimal color.  I didn't really follow the time guidelines - mine were in longer, although for how long, I can't really say.  I sometimes don't pay attention to time.  Also, I was taking pictures.  Go figure.

Step 4: Allow your son to run around the back yard in just a diaper and some shoes.  If you're lucky, the neighbors will think nothing of you taking pictures of a bunch of colored jars and begging your half-nudie baby to "not touch!"  And yes, he's just beyond each shot, pointing and giggling.

Step 5: Continue to allow them to soak.  They get so much prettier the longer they soak.

Step 6: Remove eggs from dye when you think they've soaked enough.  I used a lone chopstick and my fingers to get the eggs out.  Place them on a cooling rack with a paper towel underneath so you don't stain your counters.  You want the air to circulate up into the bottom of the shells to dry out the inside, too, so if you don't have a cooling rack, you can let them dry in your empty egg carton, just flip them over when the outside is dry.  Allow them to dry completely.  I left mine out overnight.  This is where the time-consuming part of the project comes in.

Step 7: Fill the eggs.  I used pastel colored M&M's over the weekend (because I love peanut m&m's more than just about anything in the whole entire wide world), but I'll probably find some really small surprises to put in the eggs for our hunt.  To cover the bottom of the eggs after you've filled them, use small muffin papers.  Again...I forgot to take a picture - sorry.  I was having too much fun!  I found mini-white cupcake liners at the Wals-mart, I put a little glue around the bottom of my egg, near the hole, then attached the cupcake liner and put them back into the egg carton, paper side down, until the glue was dry.  Voila!  And we have eggs for a hunt.

Step 8: Hide the eggs and practice finding them.  I think he's got it down.

Big FUN plans this week:  Uriah's birthday is tomorrow!  (I love birthdays!).  We are also going to make some more eggs.  We are going to make some Bunny Bait.  We're going to try finger painting.  We are going to get some Easter books from the library.  And Abby has her first school dance.

If you'd like to see some more fun pictures, head over here to I Should Be Folding Laundry.  Last week I had such sweet comments left after participating in the black & white challenge, it made me smile every time I read something someone wrote!  I love that inspiring feeling!  Anyway, I have a feeling I will be adding fun pictures all the two newest additions to our family that I will be sharing with you tomorrow!

Next week's challenge: White

See you later, alligators!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Everything is different...

{December 2007 | barely 8 years old}

I just bought this little girl her first pair of heels for her first school dance.
I almost cried.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lemon-Herb Roasted Chicken

{Outside of Avon, Minnesota | 2005}

Growing up, my uncle lived about half an hour away, out in the Minnesota countryside, down a dead-end winding dirt road.  In the summer that road was long and dry and dusty, with a chorus of grasshoppers and song birds to accompany us on our adventures.   In the fall the leaves on either side of the road slipped from their branches and created a red and orange and gold carpet and my uncle always had carved jack-o-lanterns glowing on his fence-post.  In the winter, that road was snow-covered and slippery and our trips to the farm were few and far between as it required equal parts sliding and braking to navigate down; I'm not sure how we got back up when we left.

But in the spring....oh, in the glorious spring, that road was pot-hole ridden and muddy.  Half the time we had to drive on the shoulder of the road and through a field to get to the farm.  I use the term farm very loosely.  At random times throughout my growing up years there was a cow or two and a horse.  I think I remember some goats for awhile.  Usually a large pig or two took up residence in the back of the barn and there were two rescued baby deer for awhile when I was very young.  There were some barn cats and kittens intermittently and two lovely black labs, at two different times, that grew up with us as our hound cousins.  And always there were squawking, squabbling, gravel pecking chickens roaming the yard between the barn and the chicken coop.

In the spring we were excited to see the fluffy baby chicks.  It was fun to sneak back to the chicken coop, past the dilapidated truck that had a bee hive in it and the rusted out witches cauldron, to peek at those tiny, soft chicks.  Oh, how I wanted to pick them up and take them home.  Instead, on the Sunday afternoons that we went visiting, I would help scatter corn and change the water, all the while on my tippy-toes, because as much as I loved those baby chicks, I was not about to step in any baby chick poop.

It wasn't long before I realized that the cute baby chicks from the spring were the delicious Sunday dinner in the fall.  The original organic chicken, if you will.  These days I miss having a seemingly unlimited access to chickens in my freezer in the winter.  Now when whole fryer chickens go on sale, I stock up on 2 or 3 to have in my freezer.

And my favorite thing to do with them is to roast them, usually on a Sunday afternoon when the smell of roasting chicken fills the house with warmth and nostalgia.

  • One whole fryer chicken, 3-4 pounds
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano), roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 whole lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Remove and discard the extra parts from the whole chicken and pat chicken dry; set aside.   In a small bowl combine softened butter, garlic, and fresh herbs; set aside.  Slice lemon into at least 6 rounds; set aside. 

Place whole chicken on cutting board and very carefully slide your fingers between the skin and the meat, being careful not to rip the skin too much.  Starting with the back of the chicken, place the chicken breast side down and put about 2-4 tablespoons of the garlic-herb butter mixture under the skin.  Squish it around so that it gets all over the back meat of the chicken.   Next, slide two of the lemon slices between the skin of the chicken and the meat.  Rub a little bit of extra butter and your buttery fingers all over the back of the chicken and the season with salt and pepper.  Turn the chicken over so it is breast side up and repeat with the butter under the skin and squishing it down into the legs.  Place 4 lemon slices under the skin: two  near the breast at the top and two near  the legs at the bottom.   If there is any remaining butter, rub it all over the outside skin of the chicken and then season with salt and pepper.  Place any remaining lemon pieces inside the cavity of the chicken.

Place chicken in roasting pan and put into preheated oven for about 25 minutes.  REDUCE the heat to 350 degrees and roast until chicken has an internal temperature of 160 degrees, about another hour or so. 

Remove chicken from oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Remove the extra lemon from the inside cavity and also from underneath the skin.  Slice roasted chicken and serve.  There will be a lot of lovely chicken juices and melted butter in the bottom of your roasting pan that make amazing gravy with hints lemon.

Serves 6-8

Monday, March 19, 2012

You Capture | Black & White

Good morning!

I haven't done a You Capture challenge for awhile and since Finn was occupied this morning pulling every book off the shelf, speeding his cars along the coffee table and was only requesting toast every seven minutes, I figured I could get this post finished in a timely manner.

Wrong. As soon as I sat down at the computer, Finn decided he wanted all of my attention.  I had to take a pause to get juice, pick up cars, remind Finn not to play with the air vent, put the air vent cover back on, change a diaper, close the pantry door, and administer a thousand butterfly kisses.  This post took a lot longer than it should have.  But I love black & white pictures, so I was hard pressed to pass up this week's challenge!

To see more You Capture | Blakc & White, head over here.
Next weeks challenge: Fun 

See you tomorrow...I've got a roasted chicken recipe that I've been wanting to share for awhile.  First, though, we need to take a walk.  And play at the park. And finish laundry.  And put the plants outside for some sunshine.  And go to the library.  Monday is full already...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Big Boy

Finn could not be convinced to leave Scout at home as we were headed to the park, so I loaded them both up into the wagon and off we went. There were big boys playing at the park when we got there (brothers: 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 and a baby.  Mom talk over the slide.).  Scout was squeezed extra tight while Finn surveyed the rough and tumble play going on.  He stood on the edge of the playground, one had holding tight to Scout, the other holding tight to me, before he decided that it was okay to join in the fun and he let go of both me and Scout. He laughed and chased the boys around.  They welcomed him as only boys can: with laughter and running and outside voices.  Every so often he would pause and look over at the baby (who was snoozing peacefully in a baby seat in the shade.).  He would point and look at me and say, "Baby?  Baby?"

He is infatuated with all things that are babies these the store, at the park, in magazines and books.  He likes to point out the babies.

He wears his sunnies everywhere when we're outside - and even sometimes when we're inside.  I like to promote good eye health and the fact that he keeps them on his face is awesome.  The fact that he looks so dang cute in them is an added bonus.

His fear level is minimal these days and he likes to do most things for himself.  It's a true test of my patience when I know that we could move things along if he'd just let me help him.  I know that it's smarter to let him learn to do things on his own, though, so I resign myself to tacking an extra 10 minutes onto whatever it is that we're going to do.  On the plus side, he's good about asking me for help when he gets into a predicament.  I have my ear tuned in to his little voice asking for "Hewp!  Hewp!" throughout the day.

I tried to tell him that this ladder was for bigger boys.  He promptly ignored me and taught himself to climb up, with me hovering right behind him, ready to break his fall should he loose his balance.  He never did stumble.  It took a minute for my heart dislodged from my throat and the panic to subside.  He hasn't learned how to climb down the ladder yet (thank God).  He takes the slide down instead, but he will only slide down on his bottom if he's holding my hand; otherwise, he slides down feet first on his belly.

He's such a contradiction sometimes.

I happened to glance over and see a sticker on the play set that said: "Recommended for ages 5 and up."  And then I saw Finn trying to climb up this weird, curvy ladder.  I knew that telling him this, too, was for bigger boys would probably get me nowhere, so I just stood nearby and let him do his learning on his own.

The hardest part about being a mom these days is standing back.
It's also the most rewarding.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Keep on Truckin'

Weight loss lesson of the day: It is just as good to step on the scale and remain exactly the same as it is to step on the scale and have a loss. Staying the same means that I did something right because I didn't gain anything.  It also means that I need to step it up a notch this coming week - more exercise.  Less chocolate chip cookies.

I said I was going to be kinder to myself this year.
I'm trying.

Happy almost Friday, friends...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I'm working on a post about weight...a weighty subject, if you will.
In the meantime, while I get my words and my brain to be less jumbly, enjoy some pictures of cookies.
And an adorable boy eating cookies.

Because that's sweeter and much easier to share right now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

On my mind today...

  • "We are peas...Alphabet peas.  We work and play in the ABCs."
  • Finn asks me to read "O, peas" (which is really titled, "L, M. N. O, Peas") every day.  Multiple times a day.
  • I love that he loves to read.
  • It smells good outside.  Like spring and wet dirt and sunshine.
  • I'm going to put all of my plants on the porch for an extra dose of Vitamin D.
  • I'm going to put myself on the porch for an extra dose of Vitamin D.
  • I want need chocolate chip cookies.
  • I guess I'd better go for a walk so I can earn a cookie.
  • Finn just brought me his shoes.  I guess that's telling.
  • After all these months, I still love Adele's cd.
  • Thought of a good boy baby name.
  • Nobody's having a baby, so stick a paper bag over your mouth and breathe.
  • It's just that, if that were to happen - and right now it is not - I thought of a good name.
  • That's all.  Let me reiterate: No babies here.
  • Maybe we should get a dog.
  • Anyway, I might just rather have a tropical vacation and a waist for a while.
  • And I like having ankles and seeing my feet.
  • Also I'm selfish: all kids out of the house in T-minus 16.5 years.
  • Planning an Easter egg hunt. 
  • And when to dye eggs with the most amazing egg dye ever.
  • And whether or not to make bunny cookies.
  • Bunny cookies are not made from real bunnies.
  • Finn has been saying hello to all of the Easter bunny decorations in our house.
  • Holdiays make me happy.
  • Uriah's planning a trip to Alaska for us.
  • A fishing trip.
  • Such a romantic, that one, and a big dreamer.
  • It'll be a while, vacations to Alaska are expensive.
  • But I do love halibut and you'd better believe that if I caught my own I would not be sharing.
  • I've been coughing for the past week as if I smoke a pack a day.  
  • I do not smoke a pack a day - I never did, and besides, I quit smoking months ago (6 actually) - but I cough like I still do.
  • I wish my lungs would hurry up and heal.
  • A full dose of Nyquil will render me useless between the hours of 10pm and 8am.
  • "I let it fall, my heart.  And as it fell you rose to claim it."
  • Loving all things related to daylight savings - mostly the 8:00 wake-up I'm now getting from my son, although today it was more like 7:30.
  • So much better than the before 7:00 am wake-up.
  • Now he's brought me his hat...
  • To the the wagon!  

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Monday, March 12, 2012


Finneaus' sentence structure leaves a little to be desired these days.  
It's lucky I'm fluent in toddler gibberish. 

Although there are a few word that he is decidedly articulate about, those words being: toast, doughnut, and outside.  Oh, and: please (because being a gentleman is important no matter what age you are.).  And he's starting to add please after his 3 favorite words, thinking he is more likely to get what he wants.  

Which is true.  
Damn it, he figured out my weakness.

"Side? Pease?  Pease?"

I'm a goner every time...

And let me just tell you how sad this is:

There were big boys outside riding their bikes up and down the street.  Every so often he'd look at me and say, "Pease?  Pease?"

I told him tomorrow we'd take the wagon to the park and his smile lit up the evening.
Goner.  Every time.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

On families.

It occurred to Abby and me as we took a walk this morning that this summer will mark 4 years that she's lived with us.  Four years of growing up. Four years of changes. Four years of being here morning, noon, and night.  Of being sick, of celebrating birthdays, of Christmas mornings and Valentine's Days, of first and last days of school.

Holy crap.  Four years.

When she came that summer, she literally had just the clothes on her back.  I think that's where a lot of her inability to let anything go comes from (when we moved last year, we found boxes of notebooks and school work and scraps of paper - for as much stuff that could legitimately be saved, there was double that amount that just needed to be thrown away.  And getting her to do that was like pulling teeth.  She had a justification for saving every scrap of paper, every test she'd ever taken, every shirt she'd worn.).

Slowly her Kansas City room with her Kansas City clothes and her Kansas City toys started being referred to just as her room, her clothes, her toys.  It still took months for her to settle in.  And it took three times as long for her to stop asking every day if we could get any of her clothes and toys from her Illinois house.  The day I realized that she'd stopped asking I was happy that she seemed to have adjusted to living with us, but so sad that she'd obviously realized that all of her "other stuff" was a lost cause and she'd likely never see it again.  I still allow her to justify saving some of the most ridiculous items because I know, I just know, how much her 8-year-old heart hurt to leave all of her worldly possessions behind. Even so, it took years for her to realize that this was permanent and, although it felt like her living arrangements had changed literally in a day, this time we would make sure that she wasn't going to be uprooted over night.  She had to learn to trust us when we told her that she wasn't going anywhere, that her home was with us and that we would always take care of her and that we would never lie to her.

Earning that trust was a hard fought battle, though.

It took years for me to learn the dance of mothering a girl who already had mother-issues.  The stress and the tensions that arose that summer, and the fall and winter after, not only took a toll on the relationship that Uriah and I had, but also suddenly meant that Abby and I had to figure out a whole new relationship dynamic governed by a new set of step-mother/daughter boundaries.  It came sort of as a shock to me, the realization that I made a really good, fun every-other-weekend parent, but struggled with being the full-time parent.  Learning to be a step-mom to a full-time child is loads more difficult and takes a different amount of time and energy.  And boy was it a lonely row to hoe.  I didn't have any friends at the time who had step-children, and having never been a step-child myself, I had to figure this new world out on my own.  I found myself missing the sense of relief on Sunday night when the house was suddenly quiet, the toys were put away for another two weeks and I could go back to being what I thought of as "my other life."  My new life was suddenly someone who had a step-daughter.  My new life was someone who made sure homework was done, clothes were washed and dinner was made nightly.

I'd gained a daughter, yes, but this was a child who'd been trained for many months, probably even years, not to like us.  Even before she came to live with us, when she was still an every-other-weekend kid, she was at odds with herself and with us because she had a good time when she spent her weekends in Kansas City, but she wasn't supposed to have a good time.  She'd probably trained herself to live a dual life - her Kansas City life and her Illionis life - and never the two would cross.  After she was living with us, weekends weren't special visits anymore and suddenly we were all thrust into real life, day in and day out.  So not only did we have to change her ideas about living with us and being okay with having a good time, we also had to balance the not-so-good times and learn that real life wasn't going to be one long super-fun-weekend visit and that, additionally, it was absolutely okay to miss her Illinois life, too. While she struggled with settling into her new and permanent life in Kansas City, the difficulties in doing even simple things, like calling Uriah Dad or re-doing homework that had been done sloppily, became battles of epic proportions with roots that went deeper than just re-doing homework or calling her Dad, Dad.  Every problem required so much digging to figure out what the issue really was; most days, and especially the days that were filled with a tug-or-war of the wills, I fell into bed utterly exhausted.

I spent years being constantly tired and wondering what would set the next land mine off.

It is still a challenge, but 4 years later, the challenges are different and the land mines are much fewer and farther in between.  I think we're at a point now where the challenges that we deal with on a daily basis are what any other family deals with: school pressures and friend drama and the constant ebb and flow of wanting more responsibility and having too much responsibly.  We're past the challenges of building a family from scratch with a reluctant girl.

Nearly 4 years later, we're finally just a family.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza

My friend Jessie blogged the other week about Cheeseburger Pizza and I feel as though I have been living a sheltered life, having never heard of such a thing.  I'm not going to say we're pizza snobs, but most often in this house, if we're having pizza, it's going to be Barbecue Chicken Pizza or, if I'm feeling a bit foreign, I'll make Thai Chicken Pizza.  We don't really venture too far from those two options.

But Cheeseburger Pizza opens up a whole new dimension... especially if you add bacon to it.  Since it's been awhile since we had pizza for dinner (it's not the most diet-friendly option for dinner - I don't get a lot of bang for my buck, if you will, by eating pizza.) I decided to balance my other two meals for that day so I wasn't having a binge-fest on pizza in the evening.  As a side note: I have gotten pretty good at figuring out how to balance my meals these days so that I can avoid almost all semblance of snacking between meals and I feel liberated!  But I still like to eat pizza every now and again!  Anyway, since Jessie's didn't turn out exactly as she thought it should, she did list some ideas as to what she'd do differently next time.  Even more of a reason to give it a try...because a.) I like a challenge, and b.) this year we are attempting to try more new things for dinner, and well, okay, c.) I love pizza.  My original plan was to make two different kinds of cheeseburger pizza, one with a traditional pizza sauce and one with a combined ketchup and mustard sauce.  Unfortunately, the day I had it planned for dinner was also the day Abby came home from school sick.  It seemed a little excessive to make two pizzas for Uriah and me just because I wanted to compare two recipes.  Old Heather would have said: "The hell with it!  I want to see how this works out!  I'm making two pizzas anyway!"  New Heather says: "Two pizzas is excessive.  Two pizzas is twice the amount of food sitting around even if it will get eaten for lunch.  Two pizzas for two people is a stupid idea.  Get your head out of your ass and make food to eat sensibly."

I like New Heather, but she's a bossy bit of goods.

So I just made one.  And it was awesome.   This will definitely be added to the short list of pizzas we make in this house.  Uriah liked it.  I liked it.  And the leftovers reheated well (even though I don't usually like pizza the next day - this one was good!).  You can use whatever pizza dough recipe you want.  Or you can use store bought pizza dough.  The only pizza dough recipe I use is the Pioneer Woman's.  I have her cookbook (and it is literally falling apart at the seams.  The sign of a well-loved cookbook, I'd say.) which makes for easy access to this pizza dough recipe any time I want it, but you can find it on her website here.  Just ignore all the other pizza making parts of the post and focus on the pizza dough.  Unless of course, you want to make that pizza instead, then by all means, be my guest.  I just like her dough recipe and I've been using it for a long time.

The key to Cheeseburger Pizza, I believe, is in the addition of American Cheese.  And, in retrospect, I'm not so sure I'd even try the ketchup/mustard combo; I think I'll just stick with plain old pizza sauce going forward.  I also used spicy pickle relish, but I suppose if I were to feed this to younger kids, I'd just use regular dill pickle relish.  I used Italian sausage, but I might also try it with ground turkey next time, seasoned with Montreal Steak Seasoning (which is what we use to season our hamburgers with).

So, I guess it's probably still a work in progress, but I'm glad Jessie got the wheels turning and gave me something new to try in the world of pizza.  That's what friends are for...thanks, Jessie!  My family thanks you, too!


  • Your favorite Pizza Dough
  • ½ cup pizza sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, divided
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • ½ pound Italian sausage, browned and crumbled
  • 3-4 tablespoons pickle relish
  • ¼ of a red onion, sliced thinly into rings, then cut in half
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Spread pizza dough on a pizza pan.  Spread pizza sauce (more or less to your liking) over crust, almost to the edges.  Sprinkle 1 teaspoon each of the dried oregano, basil and thyme over the sauce.  Add 4 slices of American cheese on top of the pizza sauce.  Spread Italian sausage evenly over the American cheese and then spread pickle relish (again more or less to your liking) over the sausage.  Spread red onion next and then the mozzarella cheese, leaving aside about 2-3 tablespoons of cheese.  Spread the bacon on top of the mozzarella cheese and then add the remaining mozzarella cheese evenly on top.  Sprinkle the entire top of the cheese with the remaining oregano, basil and thyme.  Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and crust is brown.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On my mind today...

  • Too rainy for a walk outside today.
  • I love the smell of the library.
  • Finn's witching hour is back - and it's hours, as in plural, this time.
  • Midnight to 3 am.  
  • Does he think we're in college again?  
  • Because about 2 am, I was ready for a drink.
  • I feel like going to sleep at 7pm, just to make it though these middle of the night meltdowns.
  • Uriah brought me flowers over the weekend.
  • I think they were pity flowers because I was taking care of rambunctious Finn while feeling like crap.
  • Sarah says flowers are flowers and I'm lucky to have a husband who brings them occasionally.
  • When did the littlest sister get to be so smart?
  • Abby came home sick this week.
  • Good thing Uriah was off because I don't do adult-sized illness.  
  • Not even my own.
  • I have windows open today.  
  • And the heat off.
  • It smells good in here, if a little brisk.
  • I will abolish all forms of germs even if I have to shiver a bit to get the job done.
  • Been thinking about grilled chicken all. day. long. 
  • Uriah's going to be gone this weekend - I guess that means I'm it.
  • Still trying to figure out my new lens.
  • Best Valentine's present I have ever gotten in my whole life.
  • Coupon from DSW came...I guess I can get new running shoes...
  • I'm reading Bristol Palin's book.  
  • It was the first one I grabbed while trying to corral Finn at the library.
  • He likes to smile at the library ladies.  And also the little girl who wanted his puzzle.
  • Abby has a show choir concert this week.  
  • I hope it's like a live version of Glee.

26. Husbands who tag team
27. Melty snow and the promise of spring.
28. Walking outside.
29. Rosemary & mint shampoo in the morning.
30. Clean sheets.
31. The smell of books.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Family Photos

This year we committed to taking a family picture each month on the first.  And by we, I mean that I committed the whole family.  Maybe I should be committed.

The fact is, I'm always behind the camera and my pictures consist mostly of the kids and Uriah.  Or the kids.  Or Uriah.  So I decided at the beginning of the year we would stop what we were doing on the first day of every month and take a family picture.  We are 3 for 3, although it's getting to be more of a struggle to get everyone looking in the same direction (side eye to Finn), certain girls to quit caring about how their hair looks, and everyone to get into some of the less-than-traditional ideas that I have.

Beyond that, the last time we had a professional family picture taken was on our wedding day, which as we all know was (just barely) pre-Finn.  So at some point this year, we are going to have a professional family picture taken, too.  I just have to find the right photographer.

Have you had family pictures taken?  Do you know a photographer that you just love?  Have you seen someone's family photos that you thought were awesome?  Please share!  I'm looking in Iowa or Minnesota or the Kansas City area.