Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas Q&A

Real or Fake Tree? Real, of course. 

Favorite Christmas cookie? Oreo cookie balls. Fudge.

Home or Travel for Christmas? Home and family (local).

White or Multi-color lights? White. I wanted to switch to color for the benefit of my son because it seems more FUN, but after spending $40 on the tree, I didn't want to spend any more money on new lights.

Christmas cards? Not this year.

Favorite gift received and/or given? This is a difficult question because I have a really bad memory, but the first thing that popped into my mind was the snowshoes my dad made for my sister and me. The sinew(?) was bad, so they can't be used, but I love that he MADE them for us. I need to hang them up in my house somewhere.

Stockings or No stockings? Yes, a stocking for my son.

Christmas pajamas? No. I really wanted to get matching jammies for me and my son this year, but again, I didn't want to spend the money.

Favorite Christmas song? I love Christmas music! Almost all of it, except that horrible song about the shoes. 

Favorite holiday tradition? Traditions are changing and developing with the new kids in the family and the death of our stepmom. So I don't think I have an answer to this.

Early shopper or last minute? Both. Online!

Favorite Christmas movie? Classic: It's a Wonderful Life. Modern: The Holiday. I love Christmas movies!

Favorite holiday beverage? I used to love eggnog (maybe with a dash of amaretto), but I only like the kind with no spices so it just tastes like melted vanilla ice cream. Unfortunately, I don't know what brand my stepmom used to buy. I'm also a big fan of hot chocolate. I would love to try some of Starbucks fancy flavors. The last one I bought from a small coffee shop was horrible though, and bad hot chocolate is the worst.

Cookies and milk for Santa? I've never done it before, so I'm not sure.

As seen on The Emi Times.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cute Little Piggies





Welcome to the family, Nutmeg and Cinnamon!

The woman I got these guinea pigs from was having surgery yesterday and needed them gone by Sunday and there's NO WAY I could hide them for two weeks, so Christmas came early. My son was ecstatic when he saw them, so it would've been a wonderful moment if I could've pulled it off to have them under the tree on Christmas morning. But alas.

They are a bonded pair of females, mother and daughter. Nutmeg (top photo) is the mom and is much more brave and out-going. Cinnamon is very timid and skittish.

Little Man loves them. He can't wait to see them, talk to them, and feed them. He calls Cinnamon "The Cinnamon," as in "I should say hi to the Cinnamon." Initially he was calling Nutmeg "Nutcracker," but by this morning it had morphed into "Nutmegger." I renamed them, as their previous names were beyond dull.

So that brings us up to one parakeet and two guinea pigs. And that's where we'll be sticking.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Boys Hiking

On Saturday morning my sister and I met at Second Home Nature Center for a hike with our boys. We got off to a somewhat rocky start (car sick barfing in the parking lot) and had a few rough patches as is bound to happen with toddlers (and kids in general), but it was still worth the effort of course. I was too chilled (even with polypro top and bottom) to attempt much photography, plus the lighting was not ideal for my old cell phone, so these pics are courtesy of my sister. There was rock and stick throwing, playing in the leaves, and some vigorous stomping of puff balls, in addition to running and rolling around. The boys are rather fond of each other, despite the age difference.





Monday, December 04, 2017

Christmas Tree 2017

Saturday morning I enlisted the help of my father (and his pick-up truck) to get and set up our Christmas tree (a Canaan fir). My son was tickled at the new addition to our living room. After he was in bed I put on the lights and garland, and when we came downstairs Sunday morning he was even more excited. Before we did anything else we decorated the tree. He thought the box of ornaments was full of toys and had a blast. He is especially fond of the ornaments that have pictures of him on or in them and has been taking them off and rehanging them multiple times a day.


I have a second box of ornaments that I may haul out at some point while he's sleeping to hunt down a few more of my favorites. Or I may leave the tree in its current sparsely decorated state.

Three of the items sitting on the tree skirt are from his Playmobil advent calendar, which has also been a huge hit (thanks Mimi!).

Friday, December 01, 2017

2017 To-Do List: November

  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 DONE 
    3. kitchenware
  3. Read at least 24 books - 29/24 DONE
  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 - 48/52 
  8. Purchase new bras DONE 
  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 - 11/12 
We visited Second Home Nature Center twice in November. The first visit we stuck to our regular route along the Bog Trail, but on the second visit I took us on another trail. It is longer and lacks the charm of the boardwalk for my son, but there are several opportunities for rock throwing. Plus, I really craved a change in scenery.






Monday, November 27, 2017

Solo Thanksgiving Hike

On Thanksgiving morning I dropped my son at his father's house and continued about five minutes north to one of my favorite local hiking spots. My plan was to hike the 5K trail and pick up my son on the way home. This was my first time hiking without my son EVER. And the first time I've walked farther than his legs will carry him since abandoning the stroller and baby carriers. It was both weird and wonderful to be in the woods by myself. I'm predictably out of shape but was able to complete the trail in exactly my goal time (1 hour), even with stopping to snap pictures.

Old pumphouses






Tuesday, November 21, 2017

7 Miles In 7 Days Challenge

Last week I participated in the 7 Miles In 7 Days Challenge hosted by 365 Mile Challenge. The goal of the 7 day challenge is fairly obvious: to get outside 1 mile per day for 7 days. The miles must be self-propelled, so running, hiking, or biking all count.

Here's how my 7 days looked:
Monday: walk, round trip between the shuttle bus and office = 0.6 miles
Tuesday: bike, round trip between parking lot and office = 2.22 miles
Wednesday: walk, round trip between the shuttle bus and office = 0.6 miles and lunchtime walk around campus = 0.9 miles, daily total = 1.5 miles
Thursday: walk, round trip between the shuttle bus and office = 0.6 miles
Friday: walk, round trip between the shuttle bus and office = 0.6 miles
Saturday: none
Sunday: Bog Trail with Little Man = 0.94 miles.

7 day total = 6.46 miles

Notes: I was still suffering from Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease the first two days. On Friday I mowed the lawn, so I while I took A LOT of steps outside I couldn't really track the mileage. On Saturday I took a civil service exam which ate up 3 hours of my life and is not how I normally spend my weekends.

Regardless, I obviously did not reach the goal of 7 miles in 7 days. So I did the most logical thing and signed up for the 2018 365 Mile Challenge. Duh.

(Inspiration: my kickass sister who has already clocked 731.9 miles as of Nov. 11 for the 2017 challenge. She also gifted me the 2018 entry fees. So yeah, she rocks.)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Bog in November

The weather Sunday morning didn't look particularly inviting, but it was our only opportunity to get outside. It had been too many weeks since we'd last been on trail, so I bundled us up and off we went. The falling snow was very wet and the wind was whipping, but the temps were in the low 30s so it didn't feel super cold. I put my son in snow pants, coat, hat, and mittens, but I figured his feet would be fine in his regular hiking boots. I dressed myself similarly but with rain pants instead. However I failed to account for the boardwalk being underwater in one spot, which clearly called for some puddle jumping and resulted in wet socks. We completed our regular route, including some rock throwing, before heading home to dry off. Time to try on some winter boots from the collection of hand-me-downs. (Hand-me-downs are the best.)





Mud!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Hand, Foot, and Mouth

When your 2.5 year old asks repeatedly to go for a hike, but you're too sick? Not the best feeling.

The Little Man developed hand, foot, and mouth disease for the second time recently which kept us inside and taking it easy last weekend. This past Wednesday afternoon the virus hit me like a Mack truck. First one of the worst fevers I've ever had, then the blisters covered my throat. When the fever abated, the blisters started popping out on my hands. And now they're on my feet too. So no hiking this past weekend. And not much of anything at all.

I'm wearing my Uggs to work today because they're the softest shoes I own. Business casual be damned.

I keep trying to think of ways to describe how the blisters feel. They don't itch. They hurt. Each one feels like there's a needle or thorn stuck in it. Like if your hand falls asleep and you grab something, only worse. Simple things like opening food packages or wringing out a washcloth are extremely unpleasant. Last night after my shower I could barely walk. I can only assume the hot water has a negative effect on the blisters. Fortunately, I was able to walk again this morning. But I will not be showering again any time soon.

Ibuprofen seems to help take the edge off.

Trying to hold my hand to show as many blisters as possible. Only partially successful.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Currently

Eating: Halloween candy. And more Halloween candy.

Watching: All my shows. I love my DVR.

Reading: Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas. I've read a few of her other books and can pretty much be sure of a good read whenever I pick up another.

Listening: Is it time for Christmas music yet?

Playing: With Thomas Minis. Building towers. Puzzles.

Saying: "Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?" When my son is upset I try to ask him this question. He usually wants hugs and/or kisses, but sometimes (like when I've woken him up from his nap) he isn't ready to be consoled.

Feeling: Annoyed. I know it's a minor infraction, but I'm still annoyed. If my ex gets to my house to drop off our son before I get home from work, he checks the mail. I'm sure his intentions are at least mostly good, but it still irks me. I would never check his mail while I'm dropping off our son at his house, but I can think of no way to nicely suggest he stop.

Loving: How much my son is enjoying learning little bits of American Sign Language. He's mastered the alphabet and I love you. When his mimi was visiting recently she taught him squirrel and bird, both of which are great fun. My favorite part is now after I've left his classroom in the morning I look back in through the window in the door and we make the I love you sign at each other. Best.

Looking forward to: The season premier of Chicago Med in two weeks. Yup, it's an exciting life I lead.

What are you up to these days?

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Walktober



As I mentioned previously I signed up for Walktober  through my employer. I didn't join any teams or go on any of the Monday Mile group walks (because of scheduling conflicts and rain), so all it amounted to was logging steps every night before bed. To complete the challenge you needed to have a minimum of 6,000 steps per day. Only one day was I concerned about that fairly low bar and did a little extra running around the kitchen with my son. I wore my Fitbit more conscientiously than usual, but I didn't bother to figure out how biking affects my step count. As you can see I had 16 days at the Gold level, which is 10,000 steps or more. That pleases me.

In the end, it didn't really encourage me to be more active (except for the one day). I think I'm already aware of the importance of being active, and while I don't make the time for "exercise" these days, I still do a lot of moving about (toddlers, yo). I know I have plenty of good hiking days in front of me. 

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

2017 To-Do List: October

  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 DONE 
    3. kitchenware
  3. Read at least 24 books - 27/24 DONE
  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 - 43/52 
  8. Purchase new bras DONE *
  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 - 10/12 **
* I've been getting by with only two bras forEVER. They are both many years old (pre-pregnancy). And one started to lose elasticity, so this month I ordered one bra online and purchased another in store. The online one was promptly returned. How do people buy bras without trying them on? Befuddling. So now I have 3 bras. Or maybe two and a half. But for now, that'll have to do.

** We went to Second Home Nature Center THREE times this month. And all of the visits involved walking trails, so October for the win!








Monday, October 30, 2017

Halloween Goodies

Last year for Halloween I got my Little Man four little stuffed guys at the grocery store. He remains fairly uninterested in them, although he has developed attachments to other stuffed animals in the last year. I wanted to get him something for Halloween again this year, so I decided to go with plastic cups instead. I was just going to get one, because really, how many Halloween cups does one child need, but I couldn't resist the other two once they went clearance. So the tradition of Halloween goodies continues... who knows what next year will bring.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Weekending

Saturday morning started with another batch of apple crisp because we're still drowning in apples. The funny thing is that the apples are mostly irrelevant when it comes to apple crisp, for me anyway. I double the recipe for the crisp, but include the apples because it wouldn't be socially acceptable to make "crisp crisp."

When the apple crisp came out of the oven, we headed to Second Home Nature Center. I was feeling a strong need to be outside in a natural setting. However, the whole time we were there it sounded like we were parked on a highway. I don't recall the road sounds being so over-whelming in the past. I wonder if it was the lack of wind and less leaves on the trees. Whatever it was, I had trouble shaking my irritation. Aside from that it was beautiful, of course.








We hit Target before dinner to get more chalk because the Little Man is OBSESSED. He actually used every last little nub that we had, but it turns out mid-October is not chalk season. I had multiple employees helping me search, but they finally found a box of huge fancy chalk that boasts being washable. Um, isn't all chalk water soluble? It has always washed off the driveway in the rain. Weird. Regardless, he's thrilled.


From there we went to Panera for dinner because I had a gift card I was eager to use. We NEVER eat out, so this was a special treat. It felt downright festive, like Christmas. Little Man sat on the bench seat with me, ate all his food, and drank water from a regular cup. We watched a baby at a nearby table and danced in our seats to whatever music they were playing (nothing I recognized).

Sunday morning we put together and decorated a pretty Halloween house ("haunted" seems unnecessary at this point). He had soooo much fun sticking the jelly beans and candies in the frosting. I think that inspired him to ask me to draw houses with the chalk when we went outside. Lots and lots of houses.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Folding Bike

I have been slightly obsessed with the idea of a folding bike for quite some time now. I imagined that with such an apparatus I could store it in my trunk and deploy it for use between the parking lot and my office building (roughly one mile). I could avoid waiting for the unpredictable shuttle buses, as well as the sardine effect when the buses are full. Plus, it would allow for a little bit of exercise, something I don't get a lot of these days.

I recently saw a listing online and after a great deal of waffling I messaged the seller. Shortly thereafter my son and I drove to a pretty little village on a lake and I took possession of the bike.

Now I am not BIKE PEOPLE. I haven't ridden a bike in years. I doubt I've ever ridden a bike on a highly trafficked urban road. To say that I was nervous the first day is a major understatement. More like nauseous and shaking. I was terrified thinking about BUSES passing me and having to navigate a left turn. But now that I've been riding for a week, it turns out those things are not actually that scary.

SCARY is when person after person ambles out in front of me as if I have complete control over the machine I am on. I do NOT! I feel like I need a "Student Biker" sign. Riding on the road with cars is much less stressful than navigating crowds of oblivious people.

I also discovered a HILL that I was previously unaware of. Each morning my non-existent leg muscles scream as I crawl towards the top of the hill. Other bikers fly past me. I try to avoid eye contact with everyone. I wonder how long I have to ride before this bit gets easier.

Also, I guess I should probably invest in a bike helmet.

My odd little bike waiting to be stashed in a closet at work.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Pumpkin Picking

Yesterday I broke my own rule about not doing fall activities when it's hot out. But I wanted to go pumpkin picking and Halloween is two weeks away. Good grief, why is it still 80 degrees out? Anywho, the other complicating factor is the field we like to go to is not open on Saturdays for religious reasons and typically Saturday is our only opportunity for adventure. But because my ex and I flip-flopped days again this past weekend, we met my sister, her son, and our dad in the field moments after they opened.

My son and his grandpa hunting for the perfect pumpkins. Photo taken by my sister.

We gathered many pumpkins from the field before heading to the corn maze. By that time it was hot and sunny and I was fading fast (still sick, whine, whine). After spending several years trying to escape the corn maze Little Man and I headed for home while the others waited for a hay ride. Maybe we can finally do that next year! Although I've seen pictures of other pumpkin patches that offer wheelbarrows, so maybe we need to consider picking elsewhere. It might make it easier for us old folks.

I was so exhausted after the heat and the maze that I slept for an hour and a half while my son was napping! I am really over feeling like crap.

I love how pumpkins look on the front steps. This is probably the last year I can get away with not carving jack o'lanterns.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday Five

  • My boss has been out of town for almost two weeks, during which time I've been able to close the office to take a lunch break THREE times. Hardly seems fair (or, um, legal). I've also been sick the entire time and my son has been sick as well. But obviously using my sick time is not possible either. So, not feeling the love right now.
  • I've had a gaping hole in the ceiling of my guest bathroom for months. Last night my contractor stopped by to get a spare garage door opener so he could start working on it today. As I was getting ready for bed, I thought to myself I bet his daughter goes into labor tomorrow. I should've bought a lottery ticket. So I could hire a new contractor. Kidding.
  • I signed up for Walktober through my employer, but as with most commitments, it is not having the desired affect on me. I do not feel inspired, I feel obligated and grumpy. Plus, a tiny piece broke off the face of my Fitbit, so it's sharp and I'm afraid it will scratch my son. Frankly, I want to stop wearing it altogether, but part of me feels compelled to finished the challenge.
  • Of course this didn't stop me from signing up for some other challenge next month. Something about mindfulness. Sigh. It's like I don't even know myself at all. 
  • At least I'm wearing jeans and a t-shirt because I excel at CASUAL Fridays. (I also think having to dress up for work is the stupidest thing ever. Can we do away with that tradition already?)
Happy Friday!!

Monday, October 09, 2017

Weekending

This weekend felt a little unsettled for several reasons. My son's father asked to switch the days he gets our son (on Sundays I drop the little man off at his dad's house and then go grocery shopping). This week we did that on Saturday AND I went to a different store, so everything felt mixed up. On top of that the little man has a cold so isn't operating at 100%.

On Saturday morning after his dad dropped him back home we made apple crisp. We clearly picked WAY too many apples last weekend. The apple crisp hardly made a dent. Note to self: next year buy the kiddie bag.

All for me!
Sunday morning we went on an adventure, driving to a picturesque village on a small lake. I would've liked to have explored a little more, but most things weren't open yet and the toddler wasn't in the best mood. Even at the park, he was unimpressed. Rocks! Where are the rocks? What is this stupid sand stuff?

No rocks. Sorry buddy.

It was VERY windy. We saw several canoes and kayaks on the water, despite the wind and the sky. Crazy people!

I have a thing for shadows.
Both afternoons were spent at our neighborhood park, playing on the playground. Little man is obsessed with "big kids." He follows them around, imitating what they say and do. It's adorable. Surprisingly to me, other kids keep assuming he's a girl. I don't think he has particularly feminine features, and he's usually dressed in shades of blue (although I guess the red shirt he's wearing in the photo above could be interpreted as pink). It's interesting to me that the mistake is most common with the elderly and with the young crowd (under 10). I don't care really and depending on the situation I may or may not even correct the person. I love his beautiful hair and he doesn't even know the difference between boy and girl. One of the big kids asked him,"Are you a boy or girl?" He was so delighted by the older boy's presence and said "Yes!" with great enthusiasm. Works for me.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Apple Picking

On Saturday morning it was finally cool enough to go apple picking. I refuse to do fall activities when it's in the 80s. The farm opened at 10am, so we pulled into a parking spot at 9:55am. I chose a farm that is mere minutes from our house and one that my son is very familiar with. During the summer we go for farm animals and ice cream, so he was understandably a bit bewildered when I dragged him into the apple orchard. Next year I will know to do animals first, then apples, then MORE ANIMALS. But all told, it was a success. He even wanted to "go for walk" on one of the farm roads, so bonus. (I did have to carry him back because he is one directional. Forward, march!)








Monday, October 02, 2017

2017 To-Do List: September

  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 DONE 
    3. kitchenware
  3. Read at least 24 books - 25/24 
  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 - 39/52 
  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 - 9/12 
This wasn't a super productive month, but I surpassed my reading goal for the year and visited Second Home Nature Center twice. I've also continued to blog at least once per week, even if I can't count correctly. Lalala

Cousins climbing.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Things I am no Longer Doing

Things I am no Longer Doing (an Abridged Version)

Picking up toys.
Showering every day.
Dusting. Or removing cobwebs.
(The spiders can stay too.)
Caring if the dishes pile up in the sink.
Putting on a happy face for anyone
other than my son.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Currently

Eating: Hot, greasy pizza that I nabbed from an office event. It's divine. I'd love a second piece, but that would be unseemly, so I'm just hoping there's some leftovers when the event is done in a couple hours.

Watching: I'm not so patiently waiting for the new season of all my shows. Next week!

Reading: Yesterday I revisited A Man Called Ove, which I found uninspiring on a previous attempt. This time it caught, I think. 

Listening to: NPR. I took a break from all-NPR-all-the-time after the devastating election last fall. I couldn't deal with all the Trump-related bullshit. I've finally recovered enough to enjoy it again. Although I'm still filled with despair at everything that man says or does.

Playing: With Thomas Minis. Blowing bubbles. Throwing balls, black walnuts, acorns.

Saying: "If it comes apart you can't put it back together." My son is at the stage where he's very concerned when things break, usually food. So with food this is usually followed by "but it's still tasty!"

Feeling: Disappointed. Something I was really looking forward to isn't going to happen and that's all I'm saying on the matter.

Looking forward to: This wretched heat breaking. It's obscenely hot and I am OVER it.

What are you up to these days?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Nothing

We did nothing of note this past weekend. We played in the yard, in the sandbox, on the swing set, with the water in the kiddie pool. But we didn't go anywhere, didn't do anything special. This was semi-intentional on my part, after weeks of Saturday activities (hiking, the Fair, a harvest festival). And partly because the heat has returned and I refuse to do fall activities when it's 85 degrees outside.

We stayed plenty busy (because in my experience toddlers are not exactly sedentary creatures), but it still feels like a wasted weekend. Like because we did nothing special, it didn't even really happen. There are no picture-laden posts on Facebook, nothing to report here on the blog. I'm left with a mild sense of disappointment, as though I didn't take full advantage of the time off with my son.

I really only have one opportunity each week to do something with him. Saturday morning is our longest chunk of time to set forth on adventures. If we miss that window, the only thing we can really do is wait until next Saturday rolls around. I expect I will be more motivated this coming Saturday, although the weather forecast is calling for more 80s. I guess apple-picking will have to wait.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Weekending

On Saturday my son and I went to Second Home Nature Center for the annual harvest festival. We checked out a few crafters selling their homemade goods, ate some fresh sugary donuts, went for a "hike" with Grandpa before his volunteering shift started, and petted some animals at the petting zoo. The weather was delightfully cool and fall-like. We missed most of the crowds by getting there minutes after the festival opened and leaving before lunch.




I've been wanting to try the bread machine my husband left, but all of the recipes I'd found online said to follow the machine's instructions, which I do not have. I finally found one that didn't say that and didn't call for bread flour, so I tried it out during my son's nap on Saturday. But then, I lost count while adding the whole wheat flour and the dough was rock hard once it started mixing so I panicked and threw in some extra water. The loaf came out oddly misshapen and very, very heavy. Like heavy enough that it could be used as a deadly weapon. My son won't eat it, and I'm finding it requires A LOT of butter to make it edible. I probably won't use that recipe again, even if it was my own fault for losing track of the flour.


On Sunday during nap I threw together a family specialty, mac and cheese with only three ingredients. I didn't put enough milk in initially and then I didn't check it soon enough, so the top layer of noodles are too crispy for my preference. I spent most of dinner time last night picking them off one by one so hopefully the rest won't be so yucky. The rock hard crunchy noodles ruin it for me. Sadly, my son wasn't impressed with our family tradition and refused to eat more than a few bites. So not the most successful cooking experiences. But otherwise, weekends are wonderful, of course.


Joining Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Lunchtime Reading



If you enjoy reading books in which everyone dies, I have the perfect book for you.

This is book four in a series, so I knew what I was getting into when I started it. And yet, good grief already. This book is just one awful, bloody mess. Each horrible thing that happens is worse than the last. And thus far, nothing good or happy has happened at all.

Also, if your cable goes out, don't read this before bed if you're anything like me. You'll be jumping at shadows and lying in bed listening to every random creak and bump in the night.

And for some inexplicable reason I've already added book five to my wishlist.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Pinned it, Did it, Won't Do it Again


One of the items left behind after my husband's departure was his slow cooker. I'd been anxiously waiting for cooler weather to try using it (because those things actually put out a lot of heat when running all day). It seemed like such a good idea. Throw stuff in while my son is napping and then have dinner all ready without any fuss or muss. Or toddler wrangling.

Creamy Tortellini & Spinach Soup

1 bag frozen tortellini
1 small bag fresh spinach
2 cans Italian style diced tomatoes
1 box (4 cups) vegetable broth
1 block cream cheese

Put all ingredients in the crock pot, chunking out the cream cheese. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.

The results: the tortellini was beyond soggy, to the point of disintegration. The overall flavor was bland. It needed something. Spices? Onion? Garlic? Even corn might've helped. The spinach was the best part, otherwise it was just bland mush.

If I ever did this again (and I won't), I would exclude the cream cheese. It was weird and lumpy and added nothing to the whole affair.

I split the leftovers and froze two thirds of it. Maybe when my electric bill is sky high this winter and I'm feeling desperately broke, I will be grateful for the sustenance.

Friday, September 01, 2017

2017 To-Do List: August

  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 DONE *
    3. kitchenware
  3. Read at least 24 books - 22/24 **
  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 - 33/52 
  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 - 8/12 ***
* I finally got rid of the last piece of furniture on my to-go list (and it only took a year). When my husband moved out he left his giant ugly dresser which I've always hated. He said he would take it, but he never did. I finally got so sick of looking at it that I dragged it down the stairs by MYSELF on a super humid, almost 90 degree day. I made three trips with the drawers and then dragged the dresser down the stairs, out the front door, down the walk, and into the garage. Apparently it must have shamed him enough that he took it with him after only a couple weeks in the garage.

** Apparently I only read two books in August (hmmmn), but I'm still gonna hit my goal for the year without much effort, so it's all good.

*** Our August trip to Second Home Nature Center featured our favorite bog trail and yummy blueberries.



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Shaving my Legs

The hair on my legs grows very, very fast. I have to shave my legs (knees and down) every single day in the summer. As such, I go through A LOT of shaving gel. The most recently purchased container developed an issue almost immediately. If I pushed with all my might I could get a tiny little stream of gel. It took ages to get enough and it hurt my thumb. But I was reluctant to throw it away (recycle it) and waste the money. Which of course got me thinking about how many of the damn containers I'm buying and putting out in the world to be recycled (I hope). There has to be a better way to do this. One that costs less and has a lower impact on the environment.

So I posted in an AP/Natural Living group asking for ideas. Because if you need a solution to any kind of problem these folks are on it. I made it clear I was not looking for a recipe because making my own shaving cream? NOPE, never gonna happen.

The majority of the responses were in favor of just using regular bar soap. I'm not enthusiastic about it, but I will try it. The response I expected was to use conditioner. I'd heard that one before and had done it in a pinch when I failed to purchase more shaving gel in time. I tried it again, and while it got the job done I don't think I'd want to use my regular conditioner. It would not be cost effective since I would go through it so quickly. Maybe if I bought a super cheap conditioner that I would never put in my hair.

One woman suggested something I never would've thought of: aloe vera gel, the kind you put on sunburns. Interesting. And it just so happens that I have half a bottle of it left under the sink by my husband when he moved out. It's quite a few years old and nothing I would ever use for its intended purpose. After all, I do everything in my power to avoid the cursed orb, so sunburn isn't something I have to deal with. So that's what I'm using right now. I didn't even have buy anything and I'm using up something that would've gone in the trash otherwise. Win-win.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Currently

Eating: I went out to lunch today, an extremely rare occurrence. A friend from high school is in town for a few days, so we enjoyed a quick visit over quesadillas (me) and a burrito (him).

Watching: I watched the first episode the The Kettering Incident, a BBC show, without knowing much about it. It takes place in Tasmania (!) and the first episode was interesting and intense, but seems to be headed in a direction I may not want to explore. Not sure how much effort I'll put into continuing this.

Reading: Yesterday I started a new book, The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin. I missed my lunchtime reading today because of my lunch plans, but I look forward to reading more tomorrow.

Playing: Outside, whenever possible. The mosquitos are devouring my son, even with me doing nothing but watching for them. Sneaky little bastards.

Saying: "You are brave. You are kind. You are smart. You are sweet. You are funny. You are silly." One night when I was putting my son to bed I decided I needed to include some affirmations into our goodnight routine. I hadn't thought of them in advance so these are the ones that rolled off my tongue in the moment. They aren't necessarily what I would have decided on with more consideration, but they've stuck.

Feeling: Tired. I feel like I've been in survival mode for three years now. I am always tired.

Looking forward to: Cooler weather, especially cooler nights. Last night it dropped down to 50 and it was delightful.

What are you up to these days?

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?