Category Archives: Everyday Living

Amber Waves of Quinoa

Yesterday I had a grownup moment. Like the first time you turned around and realized that a productive weekend was Home Depot and Bed Bath & Beyond vs. a tipsy brunch and whatever followed. Follow up realization – when did you decide weekends were for productivity anyway?

But anyway, my grownup moment.

Sure, you could consider getting married one. Or having a child. Or that day when you thought to yourself – hey, I’m craving pimiento cheese, fiber cereal and Wheel of Fortune. But it wasn’t until I put the baby down, put on my workout pants for the actual purpose of working out, actually left the house still with that intention (baby in Husband Dearest’s capable hands), got to the gym, stayed there, worked out (stairmaster!), noticed my proximity to Whole Foods, realized I could go there sans baby, and was calmly ignoring the Back to School chaos as I drifted through the aisles feeling like I was on some sort of vacation.

Grown up moment: when you don’t need Maui, you are straight up tripping on a grocery store run at a store where there are more people per square foot on the weekends than China during a karaoke festival.

And I’m not saying this could happen at any store. We’re talking Whole Foods (imagine magic confetti and listen for fairy sprinkles). The holy grail for the holistic, a paleo paradise, a wheat-free wonderland and kingdom where Kale rules supreme.

You feel healthier just breathing the air. Suddenly the 12 Oreos you ate for breakfast become a distant memory and thoughts of wheatgrass dance through your mind – surely a macrobiotic colon cleanse is the cure for everything. The place is worse than Target. It’s impossible to get out of there spending less than a hundred bucks. It’s the only publicly sanctioned cult I’ve run across, and I think they vaporize their Kool-Aid into the HVAC system.

Anyway. I don’t know what it was – my once in a blue moon workout, the ability to make an impromptu decision without considering Jack’s nap or feeding schedule, or the basil infused ambiance and freakin’ cool cart escalators at Whole Foods – but my happy rear rode that wave all the way to 2:30 a.m. when I was finally able to sleep. Now I need a vacation from my staycation.

Or maybe a shot of wheatgrass.

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Letter | The Second

Dear Little One,

It’s been four months since you were born, and I just now feel like the whirlwind is calming. And that’s kind of not fair because I feel like I blinked my eyes and my fragile, five pound, six week early little boy is suddenly a filled-out, healthy Gerber baby who bears strikingly little resemblance to the tiny person I met on October 24th. The thing of it is, as grateful and proud as your Papa and I are that you are as healthy and hearty as you are, a small part of me misses the early days of constant cuddling.

Your Papa and I like to call you Monkey. This is evolved from “Buddy” which got tossed because it’s the name we sometimes call the dog, and “Bunny” which was jokingly vetoed by your father as “not manly enough for my son.”

I do my best, but sometimes Bunny still comes out, and no matter what we call you, we can’t seem to avoid calling Scout by the same thing. I hope one day I don’t find you both eating out of the same (or different…) dog dish and running toward me when I get the leashes out.

While I loved the Littlest of People you were when you were born, I’m so glad to have you home from the hospital – something that takes a few days in the best of cases, but took a month in yours. You’ll never remember the 37 days you spent in the NICU, but your Papa and I will never forget it. The days we spent at your side, looking when we couldn’t touch, talking to you when we were told you could be awake, helping purple-gloved nurses give you your first baths, take your temperature and change tiny diapers…eating too many meals in the hospital cafeteria – they will be with us for the rest of our lives.

You were loved from the beginning – your Grandmas spent nights with you so you didn’t have to be alone. Your Grandpas, Aunts and Uncle, Great Grandparents visited as often as they could, and the rest of your family and friends held their breaths every day for news of your health.

Try to remember this when you’re five and Mama holds on a little too long before letting you go into your kindergarten class.

But, despite a less than smooth start into the world, you have shown us all how tough and special you are. Someday I hope you read this, and I’d like to tell you a little bit about who you are now:

Lovely Locks. You were born with a full head of dark, movie star hair. Until this last week or two, you managed to keep most of it. What’s left is getting lighter and looking more…middle aged. You have a nice combination of male pattern balding meets Mohawk meets Mullet – and you’re still so handsome strangers ask me for your autograph.

Squeaker. When you were born, we joked that you didn’t cry, you squeaked. It wasn’t until you were probably two months old before we heard sounds of discontent that resembled crying versus that noise that happens when you step on a dog toy. It was the cutest thing, and I could always pick you out of the NICU crowd as soon as I walked in the door.

Peepers. You have your Papa’s blue eyes and have from day one. Babies’ eyes tend to change colors, but most of us are pretty sure you get to keep these Baby Blues. I have been looking into extra-long fly swatters to keep the women away, but I fear it’s a lost cause – especially when you smile.

Smiles and giggles. As soon as you figured this one out, we were goners. You find joy in the smallest of things – at this point mostly when we stick our tongues out at you or open our mouths really big. I don’t know what you see in there that is so hysterical, but Monkey, let me tell you, we are slaves to that giggle. I didn’t realize how people became those parents that embarrass themselves to no end to entertain their children – that is until I regularly find myself sticking my tongue out and showing you my tonsils in public just to see a smile on your face. As you grow, I wouldn’t mind it if you found less…embarrassing things to be funny. People tend to stare at you when you stick your tongue out at infants.

Llamas. It’s been a week since I started writing this letter. Now you think it’s funny when we tell you “L is for Llama,” and make a spitting noise. I have a feeling fart jokes are in your future.

Leaps and Bounds. You take a nap and I think sometimes you wake up an inch longer than when you went down. You’re four and a half months old and I am scrambling to find you clothes in the 6-9 month range. If there are pictures of you at five months wearing a bed sheet – we’ve finally run out of clothes and/or the money to buy them, and we’ve given up.

Bilingual. You roll your r’s like a pro and now that you’ve discovered this – we hear one long trill after another, all day long. You, dear son, are fluent in Chewbacca.

I could keep going, but I am going to leave a little mystery out there for you.  Just know that every day we learn something new about you, and it’s just about the most fun your Papa and I have ever had.

Thank you for being you.

Love,
Mama

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In Times of Loss

Husband Dearest was my very first date. We went to our High School Junior Homecoming dance together and we both seemed to like how that went – put him in the basket, please, I’ll take him – and what the heck, let’s giftwrap.

Husband Dearest’s immediate and extended family welcomed me from the get go; they welcomed me even more so once they figured out I wasn’t going anywhere. Holidays, Birthday cards (even the kind with money from the grandparents), family events, his parents, sister, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins. Husband Dearest has an amazing wealth of family on both sides. They all inspire the love and loyalty of those around them, and they have definitively held mine for many years.

I’ve been with Husband Dearest almost as long as I’ve been without him, and he’s seen me through a series of familial losses that seemed unending. When we heard that Husband Dearest’s cousin, 22, passed away tragically and unexpectedly last week, it was like a rug slipped out from under us, but there wasn’t any ground underneath it.

The call came, the news delivered and unreality set in. You mourn his loss somewhat at a distance – understanding logically that he was gone, but again not understanding because the news is too big and almost like a warped practical joke. It’s not real – right?

Our cousin’s viewing and funeral were unlike any other I have ever seen. It was awe-inspiring the number of people who came to pay their respects to the family. The line of people attending the viewing almost circled the building and stayed that way for hours. I have never seen flowers like the ones in that room, neither in number, nor size nor thoughtfulness. We all read each card, thankful for its message. The graveside service and following celebration of life was similarly attended and extremely poignant.

Slideshows recapped our cousin’s life and my heart hurt so badly for the family, in the old way. I was not expecting how it would again affect me as someone soon to be a mother herself. I reel from the loss I can only imagine his parents must feel. His grandparents, his sisters – I want to hold them all in my lap, wrap them in my arms, and rock until the hurt goes away. I want to keep away the well-wishers that may accidently say something hurtful. Keep them safe from the supporters bearing germs – a cold on top of it all could just be the final straw.

I want to do something for them now. Now that the painful but busy part of losing someone is winding down. When the others go home, back to work – away. It’s a painful silence. You find yourself feeling like the old man on the mountain, sitting mutely and looking down at the activity around you. It takes a lot of effort for people to climb the peak and part the clouds enough to reach you in your thoughts. Even more effort sometimes for you to desire to reach beyond the cloud layer yourself to seek interaction.

I want them all to know that Husband Dearest and I are here for what’s needed, whether that’s to be a distraction or to sit together in silence. When Baby Boy’s here, I’m sure that will help, but to think of Baby Boy and the new start he represents, in the same breath as we mourn this loss, seems a cosmic injustice.

Lady Justice, the scales shouldn’t work this way.

I want our family to know that all they’re going through is ok. I remember feeling terrible guilt during the times I would forget – forget that someone is gone, or to laugh. Laughing felt sacrilegious and wrong, and it took a long while to realize it shouldn’t be cause for guilt.

It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.

It’s nature’s way of leading you through. It’s ok to reach out to someone and say – I need to get out and do – anything. It’s ok to trust your doctor’s advice and keep your body and mind well as the journey continues. It’s ok to be angry at the person who left, at the situation you’re in. This is normal.

It’s normal and it sucks.

Family, we love you and we’re here.

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This Past Wednesday, a Billion Years Ago

Internet – This week, approximately one billion years ago, Husband Dearest was born, thus changing the trajectory of my life not quite yet but forever.

I say not quite yet, because I wasn’t born yet.

Because I am much, much younger than he is.

Like at least seven months younger.

So, while I get to be Mrs. Robinson’s pool boy for a little longer, Husband Dearest gets to enjoy the blessings of being 30 years old. Presents are great and everything, but hooking up with a 20-something – priceless! At least I would imagine it’s priceless. I mean it would probably be more priceless if I was like 20, but hey, next time you’ll be more specific with the whispers you make when wishing on star, now won’t you!

For this milestone birthday, I got him his dream gift – a water bottle and a picture of me (well, us, at our wedding, but he’s facing away, so it’s pretty much a picture of me). I also tried to make him his favorite dessert – the Ice Box Pie from Hibiscus in Dallas, a delicious concoction consisting of vanilla ice cream, Butterfinger candy bar, touches of caramel, and an Oreo cookie crust. I go to the effort of secret grocery shopping, patting my basketball belly in mute explanation under the slack-jawed gaze of the checkout clerk as they put 8 candy bars into my reusable bag. I wait until Husband Dearest is out of the house and use my culinary skills to whip up this masterpiece and place it in the freezer, hiding it under piles of frozen spinach until I can take it to his birthday dinner and share with Husband Dearest and his family. I imagine his smile as he sees the effort I have gone to in order to bring him this, his favorite dessert, and while my purchased presents were small, this homemade, heartfelt gift would make up for it.

So image my excitement when, as the waiter cleared the table, I bring in my ice-packed surprise from the car.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts and a well-meaning ice chest, Husband Dearest got not the birthday ice cream cake that he was expecting, but a pie plate of Butterfinger soup. Literal soup.

Every single ice-cube in that chest is perfectly, frozenly formed, and my surprise cake-pie is a mess of melted ice cream, which in its meltiness has bled the color from the Butterfinger and now is a puddle of orange diabetes.

Not to mention, as we’re preparing for this grand dessert, I tried to shake up the ice cream caramel topping – you know – to drizzle cutely on top of each, ahem, slice of the pie, and what do you know? The seal that you’re supposed to remove before you drizzle isn’t quite as sealed as advertised. Caramel’s in my hair, on my face, on Husband Dearest’s shirt.

I am a sticky, horrified, pregnant mess sitting next to the sweetest man trying valiantly to spoon liquid pie onto a plate and eat it.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, I should be glad I didn’t compound the issue by trying to put a candle in it or something, but this totally did not go as planned. Poor 30-year-old Husband Dearest. Guess this year I’ll make it up to him by letting him get to fourth base.

Happy Birthday Babe!

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Letter | The First

Dear Baby Boy,

It’s already a pleasure to know you. We have been getting to know one another for about 6 months at this point, and I can tell you’re going to be like your Papa was when he was a little boy – energy in motion. I’m sure your grandparents, my parents, would  have a few stories to tell you, but I always remember myself as quiet and calm – reading or thinking about stories more than acting them out. Meanwhile, your Papa’s parents would blink and he would be hanging from the kitchen light fixture… but don’t get any ideas.

You like to wake up and tumble about usually around the nines – 9 AM and 9 PM, with a few play dates in between. I don’t know what you’re doing in there, maybe bowling, but its one of the strangest feelings. Someday, I’m sure you’ll swallow a bug or goldfish or something and have only a small inkling of how it feels to have you in my tummy. I suppose it’s Nature’s way of keeping babies close to their Mama’s hearts until they’re ready to venture outside into the comparably colder world and meet the rest of their families. Regardless, you’re getting bigger and bigger every day – a fact documented by my quickly disappearing feet and a belly button that grows shallower every day.

You’ve been pretty kind to your old Mom this whole time – you didn’t make me nauseous for long and even then, it was never so bad as to actually become sick. For a while, you did enjoy naptimes so much so that you couldn’t help but share them with me, and I would fall asleep mid-sentence and at all times of the day. Beyond that though, I feel that you and my bladder are playing a really lopsided game of Rock/Paper/Scissors. Guess what, the bladder is taking a beating.

The only truly uncomfortable side effect of your tenancy is a constant feeling of being full – really, really, Thanksgiving-esque full. Perhaps you’re already saving me from what damage the combination of pregnancy cravings and a love of doughnuts could do. When people ask me how I’m doing, sometimes the feeling that my tummy is full like a beach ball filled to the brim with sand can override all else. However, what I mean to tell them is that you are a sweet boy who isn’t giving me too much trouble, and I’m thankful. According to my sources, as a growing boy you won’t understand the concept of “full” for a while. Most people start a college fund for their children, but I’m convinced a grocery store fund isn’t out of the question.

I read that, at this point, your little face looks pretty much how it will look when we meet you in December. I can’t help but hope that you have your Papa’s chin dimple and his happy, intelligent, blue eyes. While we’ll get to wait a bit longer to see what color your eyes will be – I have to admit the little kid in me who shakes the presents at Christmastime will probably go get one of those cool 3D ultrasounds so your Papa and I can put a face to your name.

And now, since it’s late and you are rolling around again enough to make me realize a bathroom trip is in order, I’ll say good night and sleep tight.

Love,
Mama

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Answer? Nixon.

Question: Who is current the president?

No? Not right? How long was I held hostage in there anyway?

Regardless, I’m back Internet, recently freed from the prison that was my shirt. Or I suppose shirts. In an effort to keep warm while attending an Anytime Fitness training conference today, I wore three layers – built-in-bra-tank, long sleeve shirt, t-shirt. Yesterday, it was so cold I was beginning to wonder if we were the subjects of a new bio-experiment on how frostbite effects resting metabolic rate…

Anywho. If you ever start to feel like you’re losing touch with the little people, try taking off a built-in-bra-tank, long sleeve shirt and t-shirt like you would a normal top. That is, all at once.

While many of you may find disrobing layer by layer a walk in the park (be careful, it can get chilly when topless), the bulk of you (aka: Yours Truly) will find taking all layers off at once the garment equivalent of a Chinese finger trap.

Pair that with a husband who is conveniently AWOL at yet another bachelor party, and a recorded episode of NCIS beginning a commercial break, and you can imagine my dilemma. This brings up another fantastic point – where have all the good valets gone?

And no, my Dallas friends. I’m not talking about those people who take your car so you don’t have to park then walk 15 blocks to make your dinner reservation. I mean those smartly-garbed assistants whose sole purpose was to assist you with your daily needs, including dressing (and undressing).

“But, but!,” my valet stammered, making even these dull noises fanciful in his British accent.

“Never mind that valet’s typically assist gentlemen, Jeeves,” says I. “You can press my cravat any day.”

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Because Fat Looks Better When It’s Neon and Comes with a Soundtrack.

Hi Internet,

It’s me, Guilty Pete. The holiday season got the best of me, and like any Santa-drunk lover of Christmas, I ignored all else until now. I call this period the Christmas Blues Hangover, where you realize that the world didn’t actually stop turning because it was the week of Christmas…okay, for me, month of Christmas.

I hope Santa was good to you all this year. There were many events in our country around the holidays that were cause for moments of silence. My heart goes out to everyone who had reason to mourn this season.

As for myself, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop too. The Thanksgiving to Christmas span has historically been not so great for our family – car accidents, illness, funerals. As a lover of Christmas, it was especially irritating to feel my anxiety level spike as we neared the one day I look forward to all year. Thank goodness this year we were spared. My dad did get a cold, but that was our only casualty of the season.

This year, I felt like I had more Christmases than I have ever had before. Husband Dearest is still lucky enough to have both sets of grandparents, which means a grand total of FIVE Christmases – Husband Dearest’s Mom’s Family, Husband Dearest’s Dad’s Family, My Immediate Family, My Extended Family and last but not least, Husband Dearest’s Immediate Family.

I completely came back to our apartment having put the jolly back in the holidays – most of it traveling back home in and over my jeans. Ugh. At any moment, I expect Jack Hannah to show up with a video camera and crew to film me as I go into hibernation. Husband Dearest ran into a sale at the J. Crew outlet stores near us when shopping for my Christmas gift this year and decided that the sale was so good, I couldn’t miss stocking up on essentials.

So what does this Jolly, Chunky, Christmas Treat Junkie do?
She goes to the J. Crew store with him yesterday and buys turquoise corduroy pants…because fat looks better when its neon and comes with a soundtrack.
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Self-flagellation and P.S. I Love You

Back in the day, when Husband Dearest would be away – business, bachelor party..whatever – I would take my chance to watch scary movies with my friends or all the random ghost shows that come on after dark on the weekend. I would do this knowing full well that I would watch just enough to start believing there are ghosts in my own house, friendly or not.

Wouldn’t be too long before I would be sure they weren’t friendly, and every time my dogs barked at nothing, I would be more and more sure I was right. Those nights were probably the bulk of that month’s electricity bill, because every light, and sometimes more than one television would be on the whole night. From the street, my house very likely looked like Thomas Edison’s field lab.

Knowing I was choosing to scare myself witless was literally like cutting my own switch and grabbing for my ankles.

As I near my thirties, my choice of punishment has evolved. I seem more and more prone to the sappy, woman movie. Yes. It’s true. When normally I can’t sit still for longer than an hour show, I keep finding myself in the middle of these wonderful, horrible, sometimes Lifetime-related, woman-targeted movies like “P.S. I Love You” or “My Sister’s Keeper.”

These movies seem designed to make you weep. Not cry, weep…seep? Whatever crying it is when your eyes drip of their own accord, long after you have told them to cut it out. These story lines are fantastic, sad and moving. You know what you’re getting into and just can’t help but watch anyway.

Guys, I know you don’t get it. We don’t get it either. I will sign off by trying to explain it with Man Language:

  1. Imagine you are offered two choices: A) a massage or B) a massage with a happy ending
  2. What if they told you that the massage would be great, the happy ending even better, but at the end the session, the massage bimbo would take your money and kick you in the nuts.
  3. You know there are plenty of you out there that are still thinking B is looking pretty good…
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Dinner at Huisache (wee-satch) Grill, Y’all

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Exposed beams, Chandeliers with kitchen utensils in them – what’s not to love about dinner at the Huisache?

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