Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Five: Self-Care

I'm not a fan of the term "self-care," which is so widely used these days. For me it's more about staying sane. I know I've talked about this before, but here are some of the things that help me keep my head above the water:
  1. Chocolate. See also: ice cream, cake, cookies.
  2. Starbucks Green Tea Lattes. Yes, I spend too much money at Starbucks. But if it helps me be a better person/mom, maybe it's worth it. It's not frickin' heroin or Jack Daniels, after all.
  3. TV. Three days a week I get to watch TV for an hour or two. I unplug my brain and stare at the idiot box. Not thinking is nice sometimes.
  4. Leaving the office for 59 minutes most days during lunch. Mostly to read, with a short walk thrown in.
  5. Target. This one's a bit of a stretch, but I was really struggling to come up with a 5th item. Target (easily combined with #2) is somewhere to go when the weather is not ideal, or we need to get out of the house, or I need some chocolate (#1).
If you're wondering why I haven't included any outdoorsy type activities (hiking!) on this list, it's because while I firmly believe getting my son outside is super important, it is currently far from relaxing. It's more like wrangling and watching for mosquitoes and very little looking up or around or noticing my surroundings. It's a lot of effort.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Lunchtime Reading



I'd earned a free drink from Starbucks ages ago, but I hadn't been in a healthy enough state to enjoy it. Finally today I felt up to it (although my sinuses may disagree) and zipped down the hill on my lunch break. I'm still reveling in the joys of the mobile app on which I can place my order and pick it up at the counter without standing in line or interacting with people (the horror). Or at least that's how it was previously. Today, sadly, I was forced to speak with a barista to retrieve my drink, which I could see in a newly designated area out of my reach. People must have been stealing drinks, thus spoiling some of the appeal of mobile ordering. Crappy people, always ruining good stuff for the rest of us.

After securing my green tea frapp I walked back up the hill in search of an unoccupied bench in the shade. I passed a good handful positioned on the hill at an angle. No thanks. I've done enough camping in my lifetime with the tent set up on a slight hill to know that a similarly situated bench would irk me to no end. I can't be sliding off one end of the bench for my whole reading session.

This book is bewildering. It is interesting, occasionally humorous and also a bit dull at times. I'm just shy of halfway through it and frankly, can see no real point to it's meandering existence. Hopefully this becomes more clear SOON.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

2017 To-Do List: July

  1. Rearrange/clean the family room to make it a usable space 
    1. Move books down there to make it a library/family room?
  2. Get rid of items we don't use and/or don't like 
    1. clothes
    2. furniture *
    3. kitchenware
  3. Read at least 24 books - 20/24 **
  4. Develop a system to ensure bills get paid in a timely fashion DONE 
  5. Hang wall art 
  6. Hang some sort of window treatment (curtains? blinds?) in family room DONE - 3/19/2017
  7. Blog at least once a week - 29/52 
  8. Purchase new bras
  9. Purchase new underwear DONE - 2/5/2017
  10. Go on a date
  11. Go swimming, preferably in a natural body of water
  12. Take my son camping in a tent in the woods for at least one night
  13. Frame a picture of my son for my desk at work DONE - 1/17/2017
  14. Go to the Adirondacks
  15. Take my son to the zoo DONE - 1/14/2017
  16. Install anti-tip straps on the TV
  17. Open a 529 account for my son DONE - 3/8/2017
  18. Visit Second Home Nature Center at least once a month - 7/12 ***
* I finally got rid of the coffee table and end tables that have been hogging up space in the garage. This past weekend we were expecting no rain so my boss suggested I put them at the curb. I decided it was worth a shot as the worst that could happen was me wasting 5 minutes hauling them down and back if it didn't work. I carried them down Saturday morning while playing outside with my son, but I hadn't thought to make a FREE sign in advance. When we went in for lunch I made the sign, planning to dash out as soon as he was down for his nap. But alas, they were gone by then. Success! But I can't mark this as done because there are other pieces of furniture that still need to be evicted.

** Dang! I finished 4 books in July. Go me.

*** Our monthly trip to the nature center didn't go as planned. My son wanted to go inside (ugh), but I eventually got him headed down a trail (not the one I'd hoped for but any trail is better than going inside). But after about 50 yards he turned around and insisted on going back. I decided it wasn't worth the fight, so back we went. We putzed around the flower gardens, sat in the Adirondack chairs, and climbed on rocks. It wasn't what I had in mind, but we were still outside and that's the important part (I guess).


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Saying Goodbye

My son has started coming to the window of his classroom to wave goodbye to me as I drive past. There is a set of small wooden stairs that a teacher will put under the window and then they open it for him. I pull to the side of the entrance road and open the passenger window so I can wave and call out to him. It's super sweet, but it's almost twice as hard to leave him now because I have to tear myself away from him twice: once in the classroom and again as I drive away from the window. This morning the teachers were busy so there were no stairs to climb and no open window for me to call "I love you!" through. There was only his little head bouncing up over the window sill as he jumped up and down trying to see me and his little hand waving goodbye.

I hate leaving him. I hate that I have to leave him to go to a job I don't care about. I work because I have to in order to keep a roof over our heads and food on our plates. Maybe it would be easier to leave him if I was going to do something worthwhile or interesting, but my position is almost entirely unnecessary. I spend all day waiting to see him, then our evening goes by in a flash, and suddenly it's bedtime. I never want it to be bedtime because it means our time together is over for another day. I can't wait for him to wake up in the morning so I can hug him and kiss him and hear him laugh for a few minutes before we rush off to school and work. There is never enough time together.

One night when I was tucking him in and he wasn't feeling well I told him "I am always, always right here if you need me." It has become one of the things we repeat to each other before saying goodnight most nights. This morning he said it over and over in the car on the way to school. Always, little buddy. Always.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Currently

Eating: I meal-prepped four lunches for this week: white rice, frozen veggies (two days of broccoli, then two days of brussel sprouts), and two hard boiled eggs for the first three days. Tomorrow I'll eat a frozen pot pie.

Watching: Salvation, a new summer drama on CBS. I was hooked after only a few minutes of the pilot. Hopefully the second episode is equally captivating.

Reading: Nothing! Well, only because I finished the book I was reading (French by Heart by Rebecca Ramsey) on lunch. I will start a new (as yet undetermined) book tomorrow.

Listening: I listened to my first ever podcast, Literaticast. (About: Literary Agent Jennifer Laughran and her friends dish about the world of Children's Publishing.) Podcasts have never appealed to me, but I was sorting through old papers at work, and figured I'd give it a whirl.

Playing: In the pool. And by pool I mean one of the bright blue plastic kiddie pools. Only my son doesn't get in it. He uses it to scoop water out of using vessels of all different sizes and materials.

Saying: "Don't touch. Just look at it." At which point my son waves at whatever item we are referring to and says hi.

Laughing at: My son singing "Slippery Fish" 87 times in a row.

Loving: Spending my lunch hours outside every day. Seeing my son's language skills develop. Eating ice cream.

Looking forward to: October

What are you up to these days?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Lunchtime Reading

The bench I usually sit on during lunch is in dappled sunlight, which is still too much sun for me when it is hot out. Today I varied my walking route and happened upon a charming spot in FULL SHADE. The only downside being the noise from a nearby building (air system? fans? I dunno, but SO LOUD). The other minor issue was that the bench itself is falling apart. Twice while I was sitting on it, one end of the seat dropped several inches. Oh well, charm and shade are more important than stability, right?



Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday Five

  1. We've been purging at the office. Now that I've been in my current position for a full year I finally feel comfortable deciding what I need to keep and what I DO NOT. The ladies that staffed the office previously were of the print-every-email variety. The oldest one I disposed of yesterday was from 3/15/99. They also printed off our website for crying out loud. Now if only I could translate some of this energy to my house...
  2. I haven't been meal prepping my lunches because I can't possibly use the oven when it's already 77 degrees inside the house (or hotter!). But I need to come up with cheaper alternatives to buying five frozen meals a week. And it can't involve peanut butter because that's what my son and I eat for lunch every Saturday and Sunday.
  3. I have many times mentioned my love of Le Tour de France on this blog, but this may well be the least I've watched it in countless years. I'm averaging 5-10 minutes a day, which is far from satisfying, but the only way I could watch more is to stay up later and NOPE, not gonna happen. I need my sleep.
  4. Cute/funny things my son has said/done recently: 
    1. The other day, as we approached the playground he said, "Hi playground. What are you doing, playground?"
    2. "Look at the tiny, little bird!" He said, while pointing at a butterfly.
    3. He routinely tries to grab things out of books. He gets upset as his little fingers scrabble across the page, "Grab it! Grab it!"
  5. He is all of a sudden on a Thomas kick. I don't know who to blame for this (his school? his father?), but I am not pleased with this development. Yes, it's certainly the lesser of evils when it comes to cartoons (gak!), but it's tedious. I actually enjoy Daniel Tiger, and I cannot say the same for Thomas.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Friday Five

Five random things:
  1. I finally cleared off the coffee table and matching end tables that I want to get rid of. I moved them to the garage and posted their availability online. But no takers, so now I have to figure out some other way to get rid of them as I can't fit them in my car to take to the donation center. It's sad when you can't even give away perfectly good furniture. 
  2. I used a lot of vacation time in June to avoid losing it before the end of our fiscal year. Because of that I had more naptime than usual to watch TV, so I got all caught up on my recorded shows and even watched a few movies. Movie watching is tricky because each movie has to be spread over at least two days, and not always two consecutive days. For example, on Tuesday I started watching Snowden, but I likely won't be able to finish it until nap tomorrow (Saturday). Other movies I've watched recently include: The Scorch Trials, The Giver, and The Martian. I enjoyed all of them and look forward to watching two more I have recorded on the DVR at some point. It has been years since movie watching was a regular part of my life.
  3. The other night I was sitting on the couch watching a few minutes of Le Tour de France while waiting for my son to settle down so I could take my nightly shower. I heard something and peaked out the curtains. The noise was just my across the street neighbors, but as I determined that I saw a little flash of light and then another. Fireflies! I know this sounds crazy, but I had kinda forgotten all about fireflies. I have not been outside my house after 7:30pm in more than 27 months. It's strange to think of everything going on out there in the rest of the world. Like fireflies!
  4. The town I live in picks up yard waste every other week. All yard waste must be in a container or tied in bundles (no piles of stuff). I put out 3 full trash cans on Wednesday and refilled two already just yesterday. I need pick up every other DAY or a brush hog or a chain saw or I don't even know. It's out of control.
  5. After SO MUCH RAIN we've had a stretch of dry (but humid, can't win 'em all) days and it's been glorious.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

2017 To-Do List: June

  1. Rearrange/clean the family room to make it a usable space 
    1. Move books down there to make it a library/family room?
  2. Get rid of items we don't use and/or don't like 
    1. clothes
    2. furniture
    3. kitchenware
  3. Read at least 24 books - 16/24 *
  4. Develop a system to ensure bills get paid in a timely fashion DONE **
  5. Hang wall art 
  6. Hang some sort of window treatment (curtains? blinds?) in family room DONE - 3/19/2017
  7. Blog at least once a week - 25/52 
  8. Purchase new bras
  9. Purchase new underwear DONE - 2/5/2017
  10. Go on a date
  11. Go swimming, preferably in a natural body of water
  12. Take my son camping in a tent in the woods for at least one night
  13. Frame a picture of my son for my desk at work DONE - 1/17/2017
  14. Go to the Adirondacks
  15. Take my son to the zoo DONE - 1/14/2017
  16. Install anti-tip straps on the TV
  17. Open a 529 account for my son DONE - 3/8/2017
  18. Visit Second Home Nature Center at least once a month - 6/12 ***
* I only read two books in June, but I'm still in no danger of missing my mark with this goal.

** I think I am ready to say that I have successfully implemented a system for paying my bills in a timely fashion (something I've always struggled with). In my planner I make a note to pay each bill on the Sunday that falls before it is due (with enough time for payment to clear when applicable). I use florescent pink ink because it stands out and is not a color I would gravitate to for any other usage. I pay the bills that are due during nap on Sunday and check off each item in my planner. Simple, but it seems to be working.


*** We went to the nature center twice in June.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

High Water






Because the rain. It. Never. Ends.

We did manage to squeeze in a nice walk under threatening skies. But still, ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THE FRICKIN RAIN.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lunchtime Reading


This book is broken into sections for various family members. After reaching the end of the first (and longest?) section from the youngest daughter's perspective, I was feeling disenchanted with the book and set it aside to read the third book in a YA series. When that was done I somewhat reluctantly picked this book back up and launched into the next section about George, the next oldest sibling of four. So far I am enjoying George ever so much more than Amy. I am not feeling overly optimistic about the other two siblings though.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Father's Day

People talk about how hard Father's Day is for those whose fathers have passed away or for those that grew up without a dad in their lives, but you don't see a lot from the single mom's perspective. I fully expected to have a lifetime of holidays and vacations, trips to the grocery store and movie nights, with my husband and child. We talked about having kids for a long time, then we spent 10 months trying to get pregnant, and 9 months being pregnant. That's a long time to anticipate what life will be like after the baby is born.

But then everything changes. Your husband walks out on you, moves in with another woman. Now your son will spend Father's Day with the family of three you envisioned, only you aren't a part of it. And everyone is happy, except you. Not because you want anything to do with the man who left you, but because you're missing out on yet another celebration you expected to be part of. And worst of all, you're missing out on time with your son.

So screw you, Father's Day. Screw you.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Turtle Hike

This past Saturday my sister and our boys went for a hike along one of our regular routes, which we call the "turtle hike" because several years ago we encountered a slew of hatchling painted turtles. It was an exciting hike. This time there were no baby turtles, but we did see four adult turtles (one painted and three snapping) and a bald eagle. The boys did a great deal of rock throwing and we all enjoyed the hike and the time together.




Friday, June 09, 2017

Currently (The Boring Edition)

Drinking: Water or tea. Nothing new here. Maybe if it ever warms up I can treat myself to a Green Tea Frappuccino.

Watching: Now that the regular season has ended for all of my TV shows, I'm catching up on several series that accumulated on my DVR, like Call the Midwife and The Blacklist.

Reading: The Summer We Fell Apart by Robin Antalek. It started out well, but after today's lunchtime reading session I have soured on it and may end up abandoning it altogether. It's such a disappointment when that happens, but what's the sense in torturing myself by finishing it?

Listening: Nothing new here. I still don't listen to much music.

Playing: At the playground. Or watching my son throw rocks in the storm drains.

Saying: "We climb up the stairs and slide down the slide." "Splash!"

Laughing at: My son. He is such a source of joy. I did a little Elaine dance for him the other evening and I've never seen him laugh so hard. I love making him laugh.

Loving: The warm weather and sunshine. I am so ready for summer!

Hating: Not being able to spend more time with my son. This. Always.

What are you up to these days?

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

A Break in the Rain

I feel like it has been raining every day for weeks and months. Apparently this is the second rainiest spring (the rainiest being 1976) we've ever had. My son has grown weary of his rain suit. I'm having trouble keeping good cheer. It's depressing.

But! This past Saturday we had sunshine and milder temps. We went to the big playground and threw rocks in the lake. I even got to sit down for 30 seconds. It was rather nice.



Friday, June 02, 2017

2017 To-Do List: May

  1. Rearrange/clean the family room to make it a usable space 
    1. Move books down there to make it a library/family room?
  2. Get rid of items we don't use and/or don't like *
    1. clothes
    2. furniture
    3. kitchenware
  3. Read at least 24 books - 14/24 **
  4. Develop a system to ensure bills get paid in a timely fashion 
  5. Hang wall art 
  6. Hang some sort of window treatment (curtains? blinds?) in family room COMPLETED - 3/19/2017
  7. Blog at least once a week - 21/52 
  8. Purchase new bras
  9. Purchase new underwear COMPLETED - 2/5/2017
  10. Go on a date
  11. Go swimming, preferably in a natural body of water
  12. Take my son camping in a tent in the woods for at least one night
  13. Frame a picture of my son for my desk at work COMPLETED - 1/17/2017
  14. Go to the Adirondacks
  15. Take my son to the zoo COMPLETED - 1/14/2017
  16. Install anti-tip straps on the TV
  17. Open a 529 account for my son COMPLETED - 3/8/2017
  18. Visit Second Home Nature Center at least once a month - 5/12 ***
* I got rid of a GIANT coffee table that was hogging up space in the garage, as well as one no-longer-in-use baby item by sticking them at the curb with a FREE sign during our community garage sale. I wish I had planned ahead to have more items ready to go. Get out! Get out! I also donated an infant car seat and a few clothes and shoes to an immigrant family. Still a long way to go. Why do I have so much stuff??

** I finished 4 books in May, so I'm definitely on track to make my yearly goal.

*** We went to the nature center twice in May.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Playground Bullies

On one of our many trips to the playground this past weekend, my son had his first exposure to bullying. It unfortunately involved the same non-English speaking family that had previously shared a cookie with him, which left me confused about how best to handle the situation. My guess is that the kids actually speak English, even if their grandma does not.

Our playground is quite small, having only one straight slide and one twisty slide with a tunnel between them. My son has only recently started going down the twisty slide and he's obsessed. He's played with other kids of all ages without any problems, one climbs the stairs, one slides, and repeat. But this time the two kids (age 3ish and 5ish) would not share the slide with him AT ALL. Both of them stood in the little "house" at the top, then one would slide down and immediately climb back up the slide, thus never clearing the house nor slide and never allowing my son the chance to play. They were being very clear and very intentional about their behavior. 

When we first got there I tried to reassure him that all the kids could share and take turns, but it soon became clear they had no intention of doing so and that their grandma had no intention of making them. So my son was left crying on the platform below, saying "His turn" (by which he means his turn and IT WAS) and "need to share" over and over in his sad little two year old voice.

My heart broke in a million pieces. I wanted to throttle those kids. And their grandma. And throw the Oreo they gave my son last time right back in their little bully faces.

What was I supposed to do? Scold them myself? I genuinely don't know. I'm still quite new to the whole playground dynamic, and so I bowed out. Maybe that was the wrong approach because what happens the next time we go and they're there again? Now they know they can get away with their bad behavior. Maybe I will work up the nerve to stand up to them next time. Someone has to.

But my heart was so shattered all I could do was distract my son with the suggestion of throwing rocks in a storm drain up the street. And he still wanted to say bye-bye to the wretches as we climbed up the hill towards the road. We camped out at the storm drain way longer than normal until I saw the bullies leave. And back we went to the twisty slide, so my son could have HIS TURN.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend



And that pretty much sums up the whole weekend.

Also, those boots I'm wearing? Best $20 ever spent.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Oreo

We're at the playground, and as usual, we're the only two people there. Sometimes I prefer it this way, so I don't have to participate in awkward interactions with other parents or resent the teenagers who aren't modeling good playground behavior. But sometimes it's nice for my son to have other kids around, especially if they're close to his age. I don't worry about this too much as he attends daycare and spends most of his time with a roomful of other toddlers.

We've been here long enough that he's already done a lot of sliding and swinging and we're now playing with an abandoned basketball when two slightly older kids arrive with their grandma (I think, but I'm horrible at guessing ages, even as an older mom myself). He can't resist the draw of other kids, so he eventually wants to head back up to the playground where he can watch them fly down the big curly slide and run up and down the stairs. He carefully enters their orbit and repeats an occasional word or two. They don't speak English and are amused at his attempts to mimic them, but not in a cruel way.

After a while the younger boy climbs up on the bench and tries to open and insert a straw into a milk box, with limited success. While he's intent on this operation, my son climbs up onto the bench next to him, so I give him his water. The grandma comes over to help with the milk box, followed by the older sister, at which point the kids dig into a ziplock bag of Oreos. There is a brief exchange between the girl and her grandma before the girl offers my son a cookie. He is thrilled and happily sets aside his container of Cheerios. He holds the cookie up and says, "Cookie! Yummy" over and over. He watches the other kids eat and drink while clutching his cookie. I am simultaneously horrified that he's eating food from random strangers in the park and that it's a double-stuff Oreo, of all things. At least it's a blonde one and not the original chocolate version.

He doesn't seem to know what to do with the cookie though, so I eventually break off one of the cookie sides and give that to him in smaller pieces. He scarfs those down, but doesn't seem overly motivated to eat the other half and I'm not about to encourage him to eat the cream center (the best part!). He continues to clutch the second cookie with the cream center still attached until we're home and his lunch is on the table in front of him. He even manages to keep a hold of it throughout hand-washing. I finally convince him he can set the cookie down on his place mat so he can eat his yogurt. Fortunately, he never bothers to pick it back up and I can toss it in the sink with the other uneaten detritus from his lunch.

***

I know this story will be of little interest to anyone but me, but I like the idea of capturing these little moments so they don't get lost in the shuffle of growing up. Seeing him climbing up to sit with the other little boy, completely unconcerned about the differences in language and culture. Just three little kids hanging out at the playground, eating Oreos. Pure, simple joy.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday Annoyances



Is this confusing? Hard to understand? Is the print too small? (OK, so yes, I would have made the font larger if I'd printed the sign, but it is still perfectly legible.)

I've picked THREE used K-Cups from the trash so far today. I just don't get it.

I also don't understand why the weekly rate at daycare is going up in a few weeks. Apparently there's an annual increase. How charming. But seriously, for the amount we pay, why can't they provide a more filling (and interesting) afternoon snack than Cheerios (or what are most certainly generic Os).

Happy Friday, here's your rate increase! Happy Friday, have fun picking through the trash because your self-absorbed co-workers can't be bothered to follow directions!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Afternoon on the Bog

After nap yesterday I dragged my son to Second Home Nature Center for a walk around the bog. He wanted to go to the playground, but I was determined to get in some time in a more natural setting. We can go to the playground in our neighborhood any day. He does love the boardwalk, but there were a few trying moments between the car and the boardwalk. Of course, he was equally reluctant to get back in the car when it was time to leave. Toddlers, good grief.








Fringed polygala

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Lunchtime Reads

I am almost done with this book and am loving every word. This is one of those books I hate putting down at the end of my lunch. I think about it when I'm not reading it. I don't even remember how I stumbled upon it before adding it to my wishlist, but I am so glad I did.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Meal Prep Again

I sacrificed a good portion of naptime on Sunday to once again meal prep my lunches for the week. I cooked another batch of white rice, along with chicken and veggies. I like the combination. This week I chose a different flavor of pre-marinated chicken breasts, which I've managed to forget. Maybe Italian seasoning or something similar. I definitely prefer the honey mustard from last week. I baked it this week, a much superior method to broiling. I also baked the zucchini and yellow squash with olive oil and garlic salt (not enough). I baked it so long that it practically melts in your mouth, just the way I like it. I portioned the food into 4 lunches, which will leave me eating crap only one day this week. Yay!

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

2017 To-Do List: April

  1. Rearrange/clean the family room to make it a usable space 
    1. Move books down there to make it a library/family room?
  2. Get rid of items we don't use and/or don't like I took another small load of stuff to the Salvation Army, but again, barely a drop in the bucket.
    1. clothes
    2. furniture
    3. kitchenware
  3. Read at least 24 books 10/24 - I read 2 books in April, so I'm still on track to make my yearly goal.
  4. Develop a system to ensure bills get paid in a timely fashion I have something that seems to be working, but I'm not quite ready to cross this one off.
  5. Hang wall art 
  6. Hang some sort of window treatment (curtains? blinds?) in family room COMPLETED - 3/19/2017
  7. Blog at least once a week 17/52 - I have blogged at least once a week for the first seventeen full weeks of the year.
  8. Purchase new bras
  9. Purchase new underwear COMPLETED - 2/5/2017
  10. Go on a date
  11. Go swimming, preferably in a natural body of water
  12. Take my son camping in a tent in the woods for at least one night
  13. Frame a picture of my son for my desk at work COMPLETED - 1/17/2017
  14. Go to the Adirondacks
  15. Take my son to the zoo COMPLETED - 1/14/2017
  16. Install anti-tip straps on the TV
  17. Open a 529 account for my son COMPLETED - 3/8/2017
  18. Visit Second Home Nature Center at least once a month 4/12 - January & February. We went to the nature center twice in April.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Meal Prep

I work with a young woman who is a BIG fan of meal prepping. She puts together lunches for the whole week on Sunday evening. She even has specially purchased plastic containers for the purpose. I've never been willing to sacrifice the amount of time needed to cook and assemble the meals during my son's naps. But I'm also getting so sick of eating crap: processed packaged foods. So the goal is more variety, healthier food (not healthy healthy necessarily but not frozen or freeze dried crap), and hopefully saving a little money.

With that in mind I started small, two marinated chicken breasts, one bundle of fresh asparagus, and white rice (from the cupboard). I broiled the chicken according to the package/internet directions, adding as much as 6-8 additional minutes to avoid any potential RAWNESS. This was the first time I'd ever cooked chicken, so I was a little stressed. Then I baked the asparagus with olive oil and salt, while cooking the white rice on the stovetop.

Now this all may sound very simple, but keep in mind I've never cooked anything more complicated than boiling water for pasta. I ate the first one for lunch today and it was yummy. Success!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Lunchtime Reading

With the wet and rainy conditions today I spent my lunch hour reading at my desk. This is the fourth book in the series, so I felt confident I would enjoy it. It takes place three years after the first three books, with a mostly different cast of characters. It is fast-paced and engaging and difficult to put down at the end of an hour. I may have to check to see if this author has written anything else that interests me.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Love of Water

On Saturday we went for a walk in a nearby neighborhood. I anticipated my son would enjoy this "lake" and I was correct. In fact we might still be there if I had not dragged him away with promises of peanut butter for lunch.






Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lunchtime Reading



On Friday it snowed. On Monday it was 80 degrees outside. Hello April, nice to see you again.

I wore a dress and sandals to work and spent 55 of my 60 lunchtime minutes outside walking and reading. It was glorious. I started this book just yesterday and didn't have time (with the walking) to get very far into it, but I was chuckling and nodding along. I'm looking forward to reading more today. And I can't wait for outdoor lunches to be the norm again!

Monday, April 03, 2017

2017 To-Do List: March

  1. Rearrange/clean the family room to make it a usable space 
    1. Move books down there to make it a library/family room?
  2. Get rid of items we don't use and/or don't like 
    1. clothes
    2. furniture
    3. kitchenware
  3. Read at least 24 books 8/24 - I read 3 books in March, so I'm still on track to make my yearly goal.
  4. Develop a system to ensure bills get paid in a timely fashion
  5. Hang wall art I hung one photograph on a nail vacated by a piece of art that belonged to my ex. I am not marking this as complete as I have more things that need to be hung. But, progress.
  6. Hang some sort of window treatment (curtains? blinds?) in family room COMPLETED - 3/19/2017. I ordered a pleated fabric shade from Amazon for ~$9. Not fancy at all, but it gets the job done.
  7. Blog at least once a week 13/52 - I have blogged at least once a week for the first thirteen full weeks of the year.
  8. Purchase new bras
  9. Purchase new underwear COMPLETED - 2/5/2017
  10. Go on a date
  11. Go swimming, preferably in a natural body of water
  12. Take my son camping in a tent in the woods for at least one night
  13. Frame a picture of my son for my desk at work COMPLETED - 1/17/2017
  14. Go to the Adirondacks
  15. Take my son to the zoo COMPLETED - 1/14/2017
  16. Install anti-tip straps on the TV
  17. Open a 529 account for my son COMPLETED - 3/8/2017
  18. Visit Second Home Nature Center at least once a month 3/12 - January & February. In March we went to the Nature Center for a pancake breakfast. We didn't walk the trails so it didn't necessarily meet the spirit of the goal, but I'm counting it anyway.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Xenogeneic: First Contact by Lance Erlick (Review)


Book Description:

Xenogeneic is a science fiction thriller about first contact with an alien race that lost their civil war and wants to take over Earth.

Dr. Elena Pyetrov’s father vanished in space 18 years ago while searching for extraterrestrial life. As an aerospace engineer, Elena travels into space to search for answers and continue his work. Her ship is pulled off course and crashes. She suspects extraterrestrial interference.

The alien Knoonk lost their civil war in a distant star system and fled to Earth’s neighborhood to hide and regroup. They seek a new home—Earth. Unable to live in Earth’s toxic environment, the aliens kidnap and use humans to genetically modify their species to adapt.

Surviving the crash, Elena and her shipmates are transported to a closed cave system where the Knoonk monitor and control everything. Elena tries to make a connection with her hosts and find ways to work together, but Knoonk leaders rebuff her and force the humans to submit as slaves. The aliens use illusions, distractions, and social experiments to learn from their hostages and keep them off balance. Resistance by captive humans brings swift punishment to break the human spirit.
While Elena continues to look for ways to cooperate with the Knoonk, it becomes apparent that there can be no compromise. The Knoonk want to capture Earth for their species. It is winner take all. With time running out, Elena must dig deep to uncover the alien plan and find a way to stop them before the human race faces enslavement and extinction.

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Add to Goodreads

Author's Bio:

Lance Erlick writes science fiction thrillers for young adult and adult readers. He is the author of The Rebel Within, The Rebel Trap, and Rebels Divided, three books in the Rebel series. In those stories, he explores the consequences of Annabelle Scott following her conscience. He authored the Regina Shen series--Resilience, Vigilance, Defiance, and Endurance. This series takes place after abrupt climate change leads to the Great Collapse and a new society under the World Federation. His latest novel is Xenogeneic: First Contactabout encounters with an alien race aiming to take over Earth.

Connect with the Author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest  

My Review:

It's been a long time since I've read any science fiction, so I was really excited to get my hands on this book and it captured my attention from page one. Xenogeneic: First Contact by Lance Erlick is fast-paced and action-packed. It is a non-stop whirlwind and packed full of surprises right to the end.

That said, the characters are not well-developed. It's hard to become invested in a story when you don't feel like you really know anyone involved. There are also so many characters with fairly minor roles that it is difficult to keep everyone straight. The story is oddly jumpy at times, lacking smooth transitions. There is a lot of fighting in the book, although it is not particularly graphic. Nor is there graphic sexual content, with violence being mostly implied.

In short, while interesting, it was not compelling enough for me to seek out other books by this author. I have read better reviews of some of his previous efforts though.

To read more reviews, please visit Lance Erlick's page on iRead Book Tours.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for writing this review. The opinions are entirely my own.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lunchtime Reading



I finished this book on my lunch yesterday. It was the last in this series, so I'm sad to not have more to read. I read them out of order, but it didn't end up mattering too much.

I will start a new book tomorrow, as I used my lunch hour today to attend a free yoga class offered by my employer. I enjoyed it a great deal, as always. Then I came back to the office to find it filled with nasty cleaning fumes. The doorstop won't work, so I have no way to even try to circulate air. So there goes my happy, peaceful yoga mood. I hate people.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Snow Days

Earlier this week we got hit by Winter Storm Stella. She dumped about two feet of snow on us over two days, during which time the institution I work for shut down. Snow days! Yay! Unfortunately I had a doozy of a head cold, so I wasn't able to enjoy my days off as much as I might have otherwise.

On the second day I did something I haven't done in possibly years. I rented a movie and spent the entire naptime on the couch under a blanket. The first movie I tried to rent was only available to buy (no thanks) and the second one is currently showing on a channel I have, so I set the DVR to record it for free instead of paying to rent it. That left me surfing the recent releases until I happened upon Inferno with Tom Hanks. I have read all of Dan Brown's books and seen all of the previous movies. I can say with confidence something I don't know if I've ever said before: the movie was better than the book. Shocking, I know. But wow, did the book just drag on and on with all that Dante business. Bo-ring!

my view from the couch

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Currently

Drinking: Water or tea. Nothing new there.

Watching: I only watch TV on the weekend while my son sleeps. I usually am able to keep up with most of my regular shows: General Hospital and Chicago Fire, PD, and Med. The other lower priority shows tend to accumulate until I have extra time off: Blacklist and Modern Family.

Reading: A book that I will be reviewing in a few weeks. And to be completely honest, if I had not agreed to review the book I would have abandoned it days ago. Bet you can't wait to read the review now after that teaser! Ha.

Listening: I don't listen to much music. At home I sometimes will put the classic rock station on the TV. In the car I listen primarily to a station with "Sunny" in its name. I used to think of this channel as easy-listening. So in other words, I AM OLD.

Playing: Choo-choos. My son is mildly obsessed with his train set. I also occasionally find time for a game or two of Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook.

Saying: "Did you go poo-poo?" "Where are you?" "Not a toy." "OK, go ahead."

Laughing at: My son. He's such a goofball sometimes, as is common with almost-2 year olds.

Loving: The milder temps and more daylight. I am so ready for spring!

Hating: Not being able to spend more time with my son. I want to squish him up against me every second of the day. He would not be on board with this plan, even if it was possible.

What are you up to these days?

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

2017 To-Do List: February

  1. Rearrange/clean the family room to make it a usable space 
    1. Move books down there to make it a library/family room?
  2. Get rid of items we don't use and/or don't like One load of stuff donated, but I'm not marking this as completed because I could donate stuff every week and still have more to get rid of.*
    1. clothes
    2. furniture
    3. kitchenware
  3. Read at least 24 books 5/24 - I met my 2 books per month goal to stay on track, so all good.
  4. Develop a system to ensure bills get paid in a timely fashion
  5. Hang wall art
  6. Hang some sort of window treatment (curtains? blinds?) in family room
  7. Blog at least once a week 8/52 - I have blogged at least once a week for the first eight full weeks of the year.
  8. Purchase new bras
  9. Purchase new underwear COMPLETED - 2/5/2017**
  10. Go on a date
  11. Go swimming, preferably in a natural body of water
  12. Take my son camping in a tent in the woods for at least one night
  13. Frame a picture of my son for my desk at work COMPLETED - 1/17/2017
  14. Go to the Adirondacks
  15. Take my son to the zoo COMPLETED - 1/14/2017
  16. Install anti-tip straps on the TV
  17. Open a 529 account for my son
  18. Visit Second Home Nature Center at least once a month 2/12 - January & February

*I took a load of stuff to the Salvation Army on 2/18/2017 (2 boxes and 1 bag). This is hard to do with a toddler in tow. The previous weekend I loaded the car and planned to go after a trip to Target. Unfortunately, the little man melted down in Target when I wouldn't let him keep a toy school bus (he has the exact same one at home so I was definitely not buying a second one), so I abandoned any hopes of making additional stops. Then I had to unload the car to go grocery shopping and reload the car the next weekend. Having learned my lesson, we went to the Salvation Army first. I unloaded the car and then managed to write out the receipt (for tax purposes) with a giant toddler on my hip. Mission accomplished. It was just a drop in the bucket of what needs to be donated, but it's a start.

**I purchased a 3 pack from Amazon. The 3 pairs I last purchased are getting a bit tight now that I've gained back the 20 or so pounds I'd lost, so I ordered the next size up and of course they're too big. I can still wear both sizes, but neither fit satisfactorily. So I'm not buying any more for now.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Saturday Morning Walk

Saturday morning we woke to a continuation of the abnormally mild temperatures. I checked the forecast and saw that would change mid-day, so we jumped in the car and headed for Second Home Nature Center. The little man was clearly as thrilled as I was with the weather and the opportunity to explore. He had great fun throwing leaves and rocks, collecting handfuls of mud-filled acorn caps, and splashing the water with a stick.







Thursday, February 23, 2017

Lunchtime Reads



I started this book last week. It's in the same series as two others I read this past fall but with a different cast of characters. While interesting and engaging, I'm finding it less captivating than the other two.

My reading time has taken a hit of late, as I had Monday off from work, Tuesday I went for a short lunchtime walk, and yesterday I went for a long walk because it was so glorious outside. I ended up not getting to do any reading at all because when I came back from my walk I was immediately pulled back into a work task, even though I technically had another 20 minutes left of lunch. Grump. I anticipate another lunchtime walk today unless it starts to rain, so I may not do any reading again. But winter will return soon enough, so I must squeeze in all the walking time while I can.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day is Stupid



Let me tell you, that donut was just an excuse to eat four pounds of frosting. And I enjoyed every morsel. These goodies were courtesy of two fine ladies I work for.

I was managing to maintain a suitable level of indifference about this stupid "holiday" until daycare got on my very last nerve. Yesterday at 1:56 PM they sent a note with the names of the 12 kids in my son's class so we could bring Valentine's for the exchange today. This was the first mention of any such activity and no more detail was provided. So obviously, my poor child showed up empty handed today because I can ONLY shop on the weekends. There is ABSOLUTELY no way around this fact. So I appear to have failed my child when in fact it is daycare that dropped the ball. Thanks for making me look (and feel) like a bad parent, assholes.

And a very Happy Valentine's Day to you!

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Favorite Candy

Everyone that knows me or has read this blog knows I have an ENORMOUS sweet tooth. I primarily go for chocolate when I need a sugar fix. Here are some of my favorites:
  1. Dove milk chocolates (especially the hearts for Valentine's Day)
  2. Cadbury Creme Eggs
  3. Guylian Belgian Chocolates (the hazelnut truffle ones shaped like seashells)
  4. Lindt Truffles
  5. Milka chocolate bars (especially with Oreo cookies)
  6. Ghirardelli chocolate squares with caramel
  7. Twix
  8. Milky Way
  9. Reece's Peanut Butter Cups (I have to be in the right mood for these)
  10. 3 Musketeers
But don't worry, in a pinch I'll happily eat a couple dozen Hershey's Kisses (or Hugs). Or, you know, anything else made with milk chocolate. Keep that nasty dark shit away from me and don't contaminate my chocolate with nuts. The horror.

Writing prompt courtesy of Kat Bouska at Mama's Losin' It.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Lunchtime Reads

I finished The Vintage Caper yesterday and found it thoroughly disappointing. It was not worth the time or effort to read (or publish?). Oh well, it still counts for my yearly goal, so moving on...



I started a new book today during lunch. It was initially over-whelming with an enormous cast of characters. I still may not have them all sorted out, but before my reading session was over for the day the book got EXTREMELY INTERESTING. My practice is to read books without looking at the back cover, so I don't have to worry about any spoilers. I read the summaries and use the look inside feature to read the first few pages before adding the book to my wishlist, but then books may hang out on the list and in my tbr pile at home for months or years before I crack them open. So I was entirely surprised by the turn of events and am so anxious to get back to the story tomorrow during lunch.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

2017 To-Do List: January

Let's review (with comments):
  1. Rearrange/clean the family room to make it a usable space 
    1. Move books down there to make it a library/family room?
  2. Get rid of items we don't use and/or don't like
    1. clothes
    2. furniture
    3. kitchenware
  3. Read at least 24 books 3/24 - I finished 3 books in January so I am off to a good start. Hopefully I can keep up this pace throughout the year.
  4. Develop a system to ensure bills get paid in a timely fashion
  5. Hang wall art
  6. Hang some sort of window treatment (curtains? blinds?) in family room
  7. Blog at least once a week 4/52 - I have blogged at least once a week for the first four full weeks of the year.
  8. Purchase new bras
  9. Purchase new underwear
  10. Go on a date
  11. Go swimming, preferably in a natural body of water
  12. Take my son camping in a tent in the woods for at least one night
  13. Frame a picture of my son for my desk at work COMPLETED - 1/17/2017
  14. Go to the Adirondacks
  15. Take my son to the zoo COMPLETED - 1/14/2017
  16. Install anti-tip straps on the TV
Not a bad start to the year!


Monday, January 30, 2017

Lunchtime Reads



I've read at least six other titles by this author, so I feel fairly confident when it comes to starting a new book of his. That said, I generally prefer his non-fiction, plus the subject matter in this novel is of little interest to me. Rich power players in Hollywood? Gag. But the story has moved across the ocean to France, so hopefully that helps with the ugh-factor and eye-rolling.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Weekends

This was yet another weekend of SICK. Fever, vomiting, more fever, no appetite, etc. all make for a sad little guy (and sad mommy).

The temperatures were unseasonably mild though, so I bundled my guy up and dragged him outside for some fresh air. He didn't want to walk or play much, but at least we got outside for a little while. I managed to inhale deeply a few times under the hemlocks. I sure do love the smell of rotting leaves, wet soil, and all the other wonders of the WOODS. It's been too long.

Ice spine made for some trickier than expected walking on the boardwalk.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Day in the Life

4:45-5:15* AM // Wake up to sounds from my son's bedroom indicating he is awake. Roll over, determined to get a few more minutes of sleep (or at least, rest). The likelihood of him going back to sleep is very slim.

5:25-5:35* AM // Give up and get up. Bathroom, then downstairs to turn on lights. Back upstairs to get my son out of bed. Nurse, read/play, dress.

6:15-6:30* AM // Head downstairs, Make tea, toast & eat an English muffin (shared with son, maybe 3/4 for me 1/4 for him).

6:45-7:00* AM // TV on to watch a few minutes of the local news and Today show.

7:10 AM // Upstairs to brush teeth, comb hair, and change into work clothes.

7:26 AM // Downstairs to put on coats, hats, shoes and load up.

7:34 AM // Pull out of garage and drive to daycare.

7:57 AM // Kiss son goodbye for the 87th time and drag myself through the classroom door. Linger excessively long while watching him on video monitor in hallway. Finally tear myself away and dash to car.

8:20-8:25* AM // Catch shuttle bus from parking lot to campus. Walk across campus, arriving a few minutes late, but still well before anyone else in the office. Arriving on time is not a source of stress in this office, thankfully.

9:00 AM // Make second cup of tea.

10:00 AM // Morning snack. Or sometimes second breakfast.

12:30 PM // Lunch hour. Read at desk. Nuke some sort of frozen/shelf stable prepared food that tastes like cardboard.

3:00 PM // Afternoon snack.

4:55 PM // Walk to shuttle bus.

5:35-5:45* PM // Arrive home, assuming no delays (like snow, construction, accidents, etc.). Ex delivers son in this same time frame, so big hugs for my little man.

5:50 PM // Dinner prep. Usually involves nuking frozen meals or reheating pasta cooked on the weekend.

6:00 PM // Dinner.

6:30 PM // Change poopy diaper, turn on heat in son's bedroom.

6:35 PM // Play, watch Elmo videos and/or Wheel of Fortune.

7:30 PM // Jeopardy!

7:40 PM // Upstairs to brush teeth and get ready for bed (jammies, books, nursing).

8:05-8:15* PM // Son in bed.

8:15-8:20* PM // Get in shower.

8:45 PM // Insert electric blanket into bed and turn on. Ninja into son's room to check temperature.

8:50 PM // Laundry, dishes, lunch prep, pick up toys, etc.

9:05-9:25* PM // Sit down on couch, play bejeweled blitz on laptop.

9:30-9:40* PM // Head upstairs to get ready for bed. Ninja into son's room to check temperature one last time.

9:40-9:50* PM // Climb into bed, vowing to get to bed earlier tomorrow. Fall asleep 30 seconds later.

*Range of time during which said activity may take place.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lunchtime Reads



I usually only read one book at a time, but I left the bottom book at the office over the weekend because I only read during lunch breaks. But I had a three day weekend and on Monday I missed my normal reading routine so I started the second book at home. Now they both are living at the office, although I've been sticking with the first one, not yo-yoing between them.

My initial impressions of Carry On, Warrior were not great. People are pretty fanatical in support of her, but at first I was turned off by the excessive mention of god (not my thing) and found the book to be somewhat irrelevant to my life. It has gotten better and some of it even has me nodding along as I read. She is funny and not afraid to show her ugly, crazy bits.

I didn't read enough of Goodnight June to really get into the book. What I read was unoriginal, but having read another of Sarah Jio's books I suspect the story will pick up as I read more.

Both books were Christmas presents. Yay! Books!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

2017 Word of the Year

I started thinking of words in mid-December. Jotting them down. Crossing them out. I had a general feeling about the direction I wanted to go with my word of the year. But I had trouble actually identifying ONE word that encompassed what I was feeling.

But I have finally decided: OPEN.

I think the word itself is pretty clear, as is how it might relate to my life. Open to moving on. Open to new possibilities. New adventures. New experiences. New people.

I don't have anything specific in mind with regards to implementing my word of the year; I'll just try to be open to opportunities as they present themselves.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Weekends

After the hustle and bustle of the last several holiday weekends, we needed a commitment free weekend to just chill. Although I would've preferred the temperatures weren't so chilly, or frankly, so painfully cold. Extreme cold always does a number on my motivation.

On Saturday I subjected my son to an instant oil change. I hate going to those places because they're so over-priced, but I guess you have to pay for the convenience of not having to spend an hour or more trying to entertain your toddler in some gross, stinky waiting room with talk shows blaring out of the TV at you. I also dislike driving over the giant hole. It terrifies me. But we survived.

From there we went to Starbucks to get a green tea latte. Gift cards to Starbucks always make me happy. Most people would probably be surprised to hear that from a non-coffee drinker. There is an older lady barista at my Starbucks who routinely makes derogatory comments about my orders. I am torn between being entertained and being annoyed. Perhaps she finds my sunny personality and adorable son irritating too.

I bundled us up Saturday afternoon to play outside for a few minutes. I couldn't get my son's thumbs to stay in the thumb spot (uh, what's that called anyway?) in his super-duper warm mittens, which meant he couldn't pick things up. He was getting super frustrated so I switched him to his thin cotton mittens, which made him happy and me paranoid. He was still happily playing (well, ringing the doorbell repeatedly) when I decided it was time to go inside. Naturally he disagreed, but my fingers were frozen inside my big wind-proof snowmobiling mittens, so...

It was even colder on Sunday, so aside from our grocery store / bank run we hunkered down inside. I kept cranking the thermostat up, but it had almost no impact on the actual temperature inside the house. 62 just isn't warm enough for me. I couldn't convince myself to get out from underneath the blanket during naptime until I had about 10 minutes left. Then I brilliantly decided to start moving furniture around towards my goal of getting rid of several pieces (a matching set of two end tables and a coffee table). So now the house is trapped in the 'gets worse before it gets better' phase until next weekend when hopefully I feel super motivated during naptime. Ha.

Discovering the doorbell. Good times.
Joining Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise.