Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Song of the Family

I think one of the things I love most about reading is that a book can change overtime.  Ok, well, it's not the book's you, the reader, changing...but my point remains.  The fact that you can read the same book at a different point in your life and have a TOTALLY different experience, to me, is magic.

In class, we are currently reading The Pearl by John Steinbeck.  For those of you that aren't familiar with the story, the main character is a native Mexican living on the gulf of Mexico in the 1920's-ish.  He works as a pearl diver and one day finds what they refer to in the book as "The Pearl of the World."  In other words, he won his equivalent of the lottery.  He tries to sell his pearl in the town, but the white men who live in the town won't give him a fair price.  Themes of classism and disenfranchisement abound through the novel.  If you've read any Steinbeck then you can probably guess that it doesn't end happily for our main character and, of course, someone dies.

Throughout the novel, Steinbeck uses the metaphor of music to illustrate the main character's emotions and states of mind.  The two songs that are used most prominently are The Song of Evil (basically whenever a white man is around) and The Song of the Family.  The Song of the Family is used to represent the main character's sense of safety, security, and contentedness.

I don't read this novel with my students every year.  While the kids will say, looking back on it, that they like the story, Steinbeck's syntax is tough to get through when you are 12 years old.  This year is the first year that I have pulled it out in a while.  This is also the first time that I have really gotten what Steinbeck meant to convey with The Song of the Family.

I have not been in a good place over the last few months.  Work has been extra crazy stressful this year.  I feel like I am always going with very limited time to relax.  I don't get to see Z and Baby J nearly as much as I would like and when I am home, I'm always cranky from the stress at work (which I hate bringing home with me but can't seem to help).  I am constantly feeling the pull of wanting to spend the time I do have with my family, hoping to squeeze in a few moments with friends, or taking the time that little-old-introverted me needs to recover from the craziness.

But through it all, where I am happiest, safest, and most content is at home. I feel like this little corner that Z and I have carved out for ourselves has become an eye in a storm. I don't know how this happened.  I wish I had some profound insight into what made it this way.  If I were a serious blogger, I would write a post called "Top 10 tips two make your house a home."  All I know is,  I can't wait to come home at the end of the day and I look forward to knowing that safety and security is there for me.  I can only hope that Z and, eventually, Baby J feel the same way.    I finally understand this year what The Song of the Family is all about.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

An Apology to Helicopter Parents Everywhere

To all those helicopter parents I have ever judged (and as a teacher, I have encountered my fair share), may I say I'm sorry.  You're still wrong...but I'm sorry.

Baby J was been doing "gymnastics" at the YMCA for about 2 months now.  And by gymnastics, I mean we pay $95 for her to go down a slide a zillion times for 45 minutes once a week.  No,'s great and she loves it and I love that she loves it.

At the end of every class the kids all sit in a line on the balance beam-- legs and arms out-- waiting for their stamps.  Sometimes it's balloons, sometimes monkeys, sometimes it's a rocket ship; always different colors.  They get stamped on each arm and each leg.

I don't get to go to gymnastics with her very often.  Normally Z goes.  I use that time to get all of my stuff ready for the weekly grocery trip but this week I got to go because it's summer vacation and I can do what I want *insert chest thrust here*.  And all of a sudden I got it:  We finished wheels on the bus and the kids (including J) ran over and sat on the beam for their stamps.  Baby J was next to last and she sat.  And waited.  Patiently.  I was halfway across the room watching.

And she didn't need me.

She didn't need me to walk her over.  She didn't need me to sit and wait with her.  She didn't need me to help her onto the beam and remind her to wait her turn.  She was capable of doing it herself.  I had a moment of "Am I supposed to be over there with her?  Should I be helping?  Am I supposed to be doing something?"  And then I  I'm not, I shouldn't,

Ok, ok...before we get all sentimental.  She's 18 months old.  The times that she ACTUALLY doesn't need me are still few and far between.  But I know they are only going to get more frequent from here on out, not less.  That makes me incredibly sad.

So I get it, helicopter parents.  I now get the feeling of wanting to force your child to need to you.  Hopefully, though, I can meet that moment in J's life where she no longer wants or needs me with grace.  I will take comfort in that moment knowing that her independence from me means I did my job.  And hopefully next year, helicopter parent, I can meet you with a little more grace as well.

Friday, June 13, 2014

I'm BACK! With a recipe for healthy(ish) peach cobbler

The last time I posted was September 23, 2012.  That was 629 days and what feels like a lifetime ago.  My last post was about hating being pregnant.  Now I have an 18 month old daughter.  Weird.

I've kind of missed blogging, to be honest.  I feel like it's kind of narcissistic (who wants to read what I write?  Is there actually an audience out there for this?) and it makes me uneasy sometimes to think that people are reading this drivel...but I enjoy writing it, so there ya go.

For my big comeback, and for your viewing/reading pleasure, a recipe:

This peach cobbler was adapted by moi from the freebie Giant magazine that comes out every few months.  Confession:  I grab it mostly for the coupons.  Sometimes, if there's a good coupon, I grab more than copy.  Don't tell anyone.  That's between me and you.  I've made a few of the recipes out of the magazines and none of them were very impressive. (Hey!  Giant...pssst...if you're looking for new recipe developers, I'm looking for a new job.  Win, win?)  What attracted me to this recipe was that it was going for a healthy dessert vibe.  I added the nutmeg, made the milk half cow and half almond, and changed the fruit to something more summer-y.

And the recipe:

Healthy-ish Peach Cobbler
2 tbl unsalted butter
2 tbl olive oil
1 C whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2  C skim milk
1/2 C unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp nutmeg
12 oz frozen peaches (or fruit of your choice)

Heat oven to 350.  Add butter and oil to an 8 in (I used 9 in because it was what I had) squre baking dish and place in oven to melt, about 5 min.  Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Add milk and vanilla extract and stir to form a smooth batter.  Add melted butter and oil to mixture.  Pour batter into hot baking dish.  Pour fruit over batter evenly.  Bake until golden brown, about 50-60 (I did 45 b/c of the larger pan) minutes.  Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

The original recipe, as written, claimed 190 calories in 1/8 of the cobbler.  I haven't recalculated with my changes...but that's good enough for me.

The Verdict:  It didn't blow me away and it was absolutely crying out for some vanilla ice cream.  But overall, not a bad recipe.  It could still use some more tweaks.  I think I would probably add more nutmeg and maybe some cinnamon as well (we are out right now because of the ants...but that's another post for another day).  It has a nice chewyness from the whole wheat flour; if you want something lighter go with a different flour.  Also, the peaches are kind of sour...fresh would probably be better...or maybe top it with some powdered sugar or something.  So many possibilities....

If you try it and tweak it, let me know how it goes!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Honesty: I Hate Being Pregnant

Exhibit A:  A circus tent

I haven't posted anything in a while because I don't want to post something that is not honest.  Sooo...

Gather 'round friends, it's time for a heart-to-heart.  I can't keep this inside anymore.**

I hate being pregnant.  And that's ok.  It's not going to make me a bad mom.  It doesn't mean that I don't already love my daughter.  And it definitely doesn't make me "less of a woman."  It simply means that I hate being pregnant.

I miss my body.  Before I got knocked up, my body and I had been getting along pretty well.  I was feeding it good stuff and it was craving more good stuff.  It didn't regularly throw me a surprise to deal with when I woke up in the morning.  I knew what to expect from it because I knew how the things I was doing would affect it.  Not anymore.  Now, all I want to eat is garbage.  Fruits and veggies?  Well balanced meals?  Please...those are so last year.  I want cake.  And donuts.  And pie.  And ice cream.  Anddanishesandstrudelsandcandyandicedmochasandgummiesandchocoloateohmygodchocolate.  Oh, and all these things that I am craving?  Will probably bring on the trifecta: heartburn/indigestion/constipation. Damned if I do, damned if I don't.

And the exhaustion....ooooooh the exhaustion (this is where, please, I don't need to hear "get used to it").  I could go to bed at 7:00 pm and wake up tired the next morning.  Not only do I literally have another human being sucking the energy out of me,  I never hit REM sleep these days.  I fall asleep only to have to get up an hour later to pee.  All.  Night.  Long.

These days, when I wake up in the morning, I never know what is going to great me in the mirror.  Acne?  Maybe.  Random stray hairs?  Probably.  And what size will I be?  What will fit?  What will I be able to wear to work where I have to stand up in front of 100 judgmental preteens everyday?  Great fun is had by all!  Actually, several times the closet/mirror has won and I have been reduced to tears.

Speaking of the closet, let me shout it from a mountain top: I HATE MATERNITY CLOTHES.  If I have to wear one more GD empire waisted shirt or dress I am going to scream.  If I have to go out and spend any more money on clothes that I am only going to wear for the next three months, I am going to cry.  Sometimes I play the game in the morning:  "What would I wear if I wasn't pregnant?"  and mentally go through my pre-preg closet to pick out an outfit that fits, is stylish, and doesn't look like I'm wearing a circus tent.

In a moment of weakness, Z admitted to me that he misses his wife.  I miss her, too.  He has been amazingly, wonderfully, incredibly supportive through this entire pregnancy.  Unfortunately, I hold things together all day and unleash the crazies on him in the evening.  He never knows which wife he will come home to.  The happy, well adjusted wife?  The crabby, throwing things at the wall wife?  Or, most often, the sobbing in a puddle on the couch/bed/floor wife?  Stable I am not.

I am actually looking forward to labor and delivery.  I am sure it will be painful beyond what I can imagine right now.  I am sure it will be the most difficult thing I ever have to endure.  But at the end of that last push, I will no longer be pregnant.  And the only thing standing between me and my old self is the road to recovery.

**I really debated not posting this...but I KNOW I'm not the only woman who feels this way and I feel that by perpetuating the myth that pregnancy is wonderful I am doing all those who feel they ARE the only ones to hate pregnancy a disservice.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Adventures in Moving

Whew...I am really bad at updating this thing recently.  It's been almost a month!  Sorry to all my (imaginary) faithful readers out there.

We have been in our new place a little over a week now and I am proud to say that we are 95% unpacked and settled.  This was probably the slowest move that we have ever made, but the fastest unpacking that we have done.

We have now moved both ways:  All at once and spread out over a month.  And the verdict IS.....(drum roll)....moving sucks no matter what.  But both Z and I agree that, given the choice again, we will move all at once.  Spreading the torture out over a month sounds great in theory, but it left us in a state of limbo for much longer than was comfortable.  It was a constant question  of "What will we not need?  What can be packed?  What can be taken over the new house that we won't miss?  Where is the _____?  Is it here or in a box at the new house?"  Torturous, I tell you.

In moving,
1. We thought we lost one of our cats, Judy (yes...he's a boy with a girls name...long story).  On official moving out day we brought both cats over to the new house and put them in the basement.  That way we could clean the old house without them getting in the way.  In moving a load of stuff into the new house, Z glanced behind him and noticed the basement door was open...while the door to the outside was also open.  Upon further investigation, only one cat could be found in the basement.  We spent several depressed hours thinking Judy was lost forever.  That night, it rained.  Hard.  When Z went to the basement he noticed water coming from under the door to the old coal room (which was tightly closed).  He opened the door to see how bad the flooding was and....there was Judy.  Judy had found a hole from the main basement through the wall into the coal room.  This is also the cat who, when we brought him home from the SPCA to our old house, found the hole in the wall that led to the plumbing under the bathtub.

"I like holes in walls.  And tuna fish."

2.  We have to add propane to our monthly utility bills (the hot water is heated via propane).  I called the gas company on the second to switch the account from our landlord's name into our name.  Apparently that can't be done...until I sign an affidavit (that they are supposed to be sending to me) in front of a notary, include two forms of ID, and send the paperwork back to the gas company.  WHAT??  And the affidavit hasn't come yet...if it doesn't come in today's mail, they can expect another call from me.

3.  Our kitchen is still not unpacked/set up/cleaned.  Which is incredibly frustrating to me.  There are two hookups for the stove and our landlord told us that we could move the stove and use either one...both of them (were supposed to) work.  When we moved our stuff in, we decided that one particular hook up would be a better set up than the other given the stuff we have for the kitchen.  Well....that's the hook up that doesn't work.  We called our landlord right away, but she was on vacation and couldn't do anything about it until she got back.  The electrician is finally supposed to come TODAY (10 days after we moved in) to fix it.  We spent so long in transition at our other place- eating frozen pizzas and take out - that I was really looking forward to some home cooked meals.  But what is the point of setting everything up if the major kitchen players will just be moved?

Awesome giant box bocking our pots and pans cabinet.

**UPDATE** Our kitchen actually is in WORSE shape now than it was when this pic was taken.  The stove got moved thanks to the electrician but the sideboard that was going to go against the wall in this picture?  Is actually too big.  We never measured.  Whoops.  So now it is sitting kind of halfway out into the middle of the floor and the giant box is right in front of the dishwasher and I can't get to the dishwasher to unload it so that I can put the sink full of dirty dishes in and my kitchen aid mixer is on a chair in the dining room and it's all I can do to get to my coffee maker and *hyperventilates into a bag...*  I would take a picture of the chaos to show you...but I'm too embarassed.  I'll just leave it up to your imagination.

All in all, we are really happy to be in our new place.  Moving always presents a unique set of challenges and I know it could be worse.  Do you have any moving horror stories?  Please share in the comments!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What the Baby Crap?

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  Thank God for summer vacations.  I don't know how people who work year round get anything done.

I've started trying to research crap for the baby.  Ugh.  I have discovered that the only thing that comes close to the Wedding Racket is the Baby Racket.  They will sell you anything and EVERYTHING.  It's so completely overwhelming.  Especially since, like, this stuff matters.  When I was registering for wedding stuff who cared if I registered for the cheap set of mixing bowls that would break the second time I used them?  But...if the stroller wheel falls off while I'm pushing the kid through a mine field...then we have a problem.

When I did an image search for "exploding baby" this is what came up. Kind of makes me laugh.

In the bit of research I've done, a lot of the reviews have been like "Well, it depends on what you are looking for.  If you want x,y,z then this (stroller, high chair, car seat) is for you.  If you want 1,2,3...the don't bother."  Well how do I know what I want????  What if I think I want x,y,z and end up needing 1,2,3 after the kid arrives??

So here's where you come in facebook friends, pinterest friends, and other internet besties:  I need some advice.  What do I need and what can I do without?  What works and what doesn't?

Other things to note:
1.  I REALLY think I want a jogging stroller.  Do I?  If so...fixed wheel or not?  Best brand?
2.  Everyday stroller?  What features do I need?  Can one stroller do it all??
3.  Car seat?  Uhhhhhhh......
4.  What DON'T I need?  Please, I kind of hate clutter...if it was a waste or money and space TELL ME.

Alright internet land...I'm counting on you.  Aaaannnnnd.....GO!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pregnancy Is Turning Me Into a Dude

I just feel like I need to get this off my (hairy) chest...pregnancy is turning me into a teenage boy.  I suppose just ONE of the hormones in the cocktail coursing through my system right now could be testosterone.  Evidence that I am switching genders:

1.  I'm hungry ALL THE TIMEIt doesn't matter how much or when I last ate.  Two hours later, I will be hungry again.  In fact, I'm hungry right now.  And it's been about two hours since I housed a GIANT bowl of cereal.  Z actually has very little sympathy for this side effect of growing an alien.  He just says "Now you know how I feel all the time."

They say you only need about 300 extra calories a technically aren't eating for two.  But I certainly feel like I am.

2.  I could sleep all day if someone would let me.  (Along with being hungry, I am also typing this post from my bed.  Thank God for summer vacation.)  I actually asked the doc about this lack of energy at my appointment a few days ago.  Everyone I've talked to has said "OH, second trimester!!  I had so much energy!!"  I was worried that I was becoming anemic or something...nope.  The doc just said that this is the way the baby is working it's "baby magic" on me and that every woman/pregnancy is different.  Basically....suck it up.

I think the baby is trying to communicate with me.  He/She is saying "Get used to it mom.  Once I am here you will NEVER HAVE ANY ENERGY AGAIN."

3.  I have worse acne than I had when I was a teenager.  I was very lucky in high school that I had a very clear complexion.  I never turned into a pizza face.  3 zits at the same time was a bad day for me.  So the acne that I do have right now, while not terrible, is still a pain in my rear.  (Z also has very little sympathy for this one...)

4.  I'm super hairy.  Everyone talks about the lush hair that sprouts from your head while you are pregnant.  You will never have better hair in your life!  No one tells you that this phenomenon also happens on your stomach...legs...arms... pits...other places.  I feel like I'm 11 again and discovering body hair for the first time.  TMI?

So there you have it.  My evidence that I am turning into a teenage boy.  Maybe when I get some more energy (18 years from now) I will post about how I finally came to terms with these changes...until then, I'm getting a snack and going back to sleep.