Friday, April 23, 2010

If I wanted the hair on the back of my neck to stand up, I'd watch a scary movie - not go grocery shopping.

Today was creep day at the grocery store. Not unrelated, it was dude day.

I went in at 4pm. It wasn't crowded, but in every isle there was a guy - in work clothes - shopping. Guys have to eat, too. That's fine. I'm not against guys in the grocery store - especially those that know they need to move the cart out of the center of the isle when deciding which pack of rice-a-roni they're going to devour in an hour.

It just felt a little odd that so many (obviously) single guys were shopping. Apparently, it was payday (Friday) and they're out getting the goods. No biggie, right?

So, I'm walking down the isle having a conversation with my 6 month old about why she was not allowed to have my shopping list to eat. I walk past one of the flannel-clad men parusing baked beans and head down the isle to the pasta. When I stop my cart - I realize the dude had to stop short to keep from running into me. He was right there. Walking silently - which a guy that big has to try to do. He instantly turns and begins "shopping".

I'm freaked. Well, freaked in the momma bear sort of way that has become my norm. Kind of the combination of my new-found agoraphobia with a side of germaphobe with a splash of crazy mommaness to add the zing. What do I do? I don't want to look scared. If you look scared, then the bad guys have already won. I continue cooing to the baby, slyly grab a hold of the strap of my purse perched beside her in the cart, and calmly walk away. I pulled it off.

Out of body reality: I'm sure I looked like a freak. Like if I'd looked up and seen one of those bulging convex isle mirrors, I would have seen a nuts woman leaning way too close to her baby, talking too loudly, clutching her purse like it just tried to escape, taking huge steps and pushing the cart super fast out of the isle - nearly tipping it as she makes the corner.

It's one thing if that happens once. Or even more than once with a really obnoxious guy, but I had 3 different men invade my personal circle. THREE. Seriously, I was not ok. I felt threatened and weak.

So I did what any self-respecting, slightly paranoid, confused and oh-so-alone momma in a grocery store would do...

I found refuge in the tampon isle.

Guys can't linger in the tampon isle. It's a no fly zone for the most part. And even if a guy is being superman, saving up sex credit for after Aunt Flo's visit ends, he doesn't go into the isle while a crazy ass mom is in there wiping her brow and snarling at passers-by.

When my Craz-dar pinging had slowed to a tolerable level, I grabbed the last few list items and shot over to the checkout. Even while I was loading groceries into the car, I saw two different men staring at me in the lingering sort of way that a cartoon prey is dotted with butcher markings.

At this point, do I hock a loogie and scratch myself? I can belch with the best of em' but I'd been nervously on edge for so long that I wouldn't have been able to perform anyway.

I sped through the grocery loading. Grabbed the keys from my purse. OB-VI-OUS-LY locked my car door (with baby inside) to return the cart to its home a couple spots down. Then practically ran back to the car - under the guise of disgust from the drizzling rain.

And got the hell out of dodge.

I later confirmed that I didn't leave a flap of my nursing bra down. No boob waving in the breeze. Assholes like that are why I don't leave my house.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Thanks 80's and 90's, now I need Botox because of a hair style faux pas

I'm a child of the 80's and 90's.

With that statement, you can accurately assume several things:
  • I can tight-roll a pair of jeans like nobody's business.
  • I can "scrunch" curl into otherwise stick straight hair.
  • I have stuffed double layers of socks into Keds decorated with puffy paint.
  • When mentioned, a bat wing has nothing to do with a furry, flying mammal.
I recently chopped my hair off. It is not an original act for a new momma to realize that hair down to her shoulder blades is just asking for a tangled fight with drooly, sticky hands. It's like a moth in a spider web - the more you struggle, the more entangled you become. So, it's gone. Off. Like it will grow out to be chin-length. I don't screw around folks.

Every once in a while, like about as often as Haley's Comet swings by, I leave the house. In theory, I can blow dry this hairstyle into perfection. Of course, that gets blown out of the water when I have to jump straight from the shower into momma mode and my hair dries before I can do anything with it.

I've resorted to pulling out the curling iron for assistance. The big barreled curling iron I've used for years doesn't work with short hair, so I've been forced to pull out an antique. The curling iron with which I perfected bang art in 1990.

Ahhh...I can hear the crisp of hairspray soaked hair frying now!

Luckily, this current hairstyle allows me to tuck - or pin - my bangs away from my face. You see, this particular curling iron has a curious magnetism to my forehead. On dozens - if not hundreds - of occasions I ended up burning a line into the center of my forehead. I have several yearbook photos that can vouch for this.

I'm convinced that it is this repetitive scorching of my forehead that has caused my forehead to wrinkle at an early age. It is absolutely not the hours spent tanning or the semi-annual face burn that peels to a supple pink. No way is it from obsessively worrying about things out of my control or genetics.

It must be a result of the chemical reaction between Aqua Net and skin when exposed to extreme heat.

The memories just come alive each time I pull out that hairspray encrusted appliance!

(Just keep that thing away from my face...)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Nothing puts you in your place quite like an unexpected visit from the UPS man...

I'd been working for a few hours. The baby was in my lap attempting to choke herself on the drawstrings of my hoodie. I'm still trying to be productive by one-hand typing (never works out) while playing keep away with Handsy McGee in my lap.

Beep. Beep.

The dogs lose their shit.

Already outside for the day, they're halfway up the drive and the UPS driver has now stopped for fear that he's going to hit them. Honking a disproportionately weak horn for such a large truck.

NON-COUNTRY FOLKS: If you come to a house in the country and they have dogs outside DON'T STOP! As long as you keep moving, they will stay out of the way. Once you stop, the deal's off. They're sniffing tires, under the bumpers, jumping in windows. Keep it moving!

So, of course, I need to go out an wave him down.


My dogs sound like they're attack dogs. Snarling, Growling. The old UPS guy had it figured out. Just get out of the truck and they won't bother you anymore. The romance is gone.

Well the man-boy in the truck today was not up on dog etiquette. He stands 2-steps up in his truck and tries to reach over the head of my biggest dog. DUMBASS! He's obviously never been bit before. Of course, my dog just backs off recognizing that as an aggressive posture and barks from a distance. He then calls my dog INTO the truck! What the fuck? Have her home by midnight, Charlie, because this dog's hunting for a RIDE!!

I told her "no", and he came down out of the truck.

He takes my package past me (I was holding the baby - still chewing on drawstrings), up the deck stairs and starts to open the door! He paused for a second to ask if I wanted it placed inside. Yes, sure. You're already in the house...and the box is heavy. Full of my bulk supply of baby food.

As he brushed a little too close to me as he went back to the truck -- I realized it. I was TOTALLY trashed out. Hair was unwashed and uncombed for 2 days, no makeup, and what the hell is moisturizer?? I have on holy pajama pants and my once-white sweatshirt was covered with carrots at varying degrees of digestion. What's best is my nursing bra - totally WORN OUT from 6 months of use is showing only the around-the-boob contraption out of the top of my tank top. It looks like a boob thong. FABULOUS.

I came inside, and brushed my hair and teeth. Found my deodorant. He won't be back, but damn it if I'm going to be caught off guard if Fed Ex were to roll my way today!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My world has become abnormally ... well ... normal

Sorry I didn't write on Monday. Did you miss me?

I'm running dry on topics here lately...the baby's colic is gone. She's teething, but sleeping through the night anyway (mostly). I'm getting work done. Dog's are keeping their bowel movements under control. I've even done dishes and laundry! Frozen skillet dinners are keeping the family fed.

What the hell?

Totally NOT complaining!

I'm excited to have things under control...for the moment. It's a matter of calm before the storm, really.

So, for now, I'm living in the moment. Getting MORE work done, enjoying clean underwear, and swinging in the hammock with my giggly babygirl in 80 degree April weather.

Now is when the photographer takes the picture. All plates are spinning, and I've managed to put a smile on my face and erase the worry lines on my forehead for a split second.

My cape is blowing...

Super Momma!!!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'm in need of some serious food love inspiration

Dinner, again? You mean that I have to come up with yet another concoction that is nutritious AND tasty?

I used to love to cook. Scratch that. I still love to cook. I just hate to HAVE to cook.

I know it might blow some people's minds that I have a bit of a problem finding time to be creative in the kitchen. Yes, I spend 24-7 in this house. BUT I work full-time (equals 40+ hours a week) and am a full-time, in-home momma (equals 168+ hours a week), and I am lucky if I have time to go pee during the day. When it comes to dinner time, I struggle.

Yes, I would love to say that my husband and I are locavores (for the non-hippies, this means that you eat foods grown/produced without extensive shipping, and thus lower gas consumption, fewer preservatives, blah, blah, blah). I really would love to be able to say that.

When it comes to our protein intake, we are about 85% local. Our family eats mainly venison obtained either in our own backyard or our friends' property down the road. We also purchase chickens that are grown locally, and about 10% of the eggs we consume in a year are from friends and family. I am very proud that we don't depend on the grocery - and mysterious meat sources - so provide our meat. Very proud. It's what helps me get through the late fall and winter when we're butchering deer on our kitchen table. Talk about a labor of love...

We also have a garden, and during late summer we're hip deep in tomatoes and peppers. We froze whole tomatoes, and have been using them for chili. Fresh herbs are fantastic, and I hope to expand my herb garden this year. Last year, we had fresh dill, parsley, oregano, and sage. YUM! Of course, since I was busy being hugely preggo, I didn't take advantage of the opportunity to freeze or dry the herbs for later use. Damn... This year, I hope to be better about spreading the bounty into non-garden months.


Oh, and I SO can't wait until the farmer's market opens back up this year! Whoooo doggie, thems good eatin'!! Fresh veggies, homemade jams and jellies, maple syrup, Amish-made cheeses, fresh breads! YUM!!

So, I would love to say that we're 100% reliant on our local food sources. I would also love to say I only purchase whole, unprocessed foods when I do have to go to the supermarket. I would love to say that I feed my family only the purest of foods - void of added preservatives, dyes, artificial sweeteners. I would also love to say that I'm a size 2, that we won the lottery, that I exercise an hour a day, and that I can sing like a meadow lark. Shit in one hand, wish in the other - see which hand fills up first.

Life happens, and I do my best. Oh, and I'm also too attached to my pizza rolls, diet mountain dew, and nerds (yes, the candy - what am I 10 or something??) to go completely Puritan with my foodsumption.

Anyway, I've lost my food mojo. I go to the store and buy the same things every time. I need inspiration. I read food blogs (my absolute favorite is ... promise you'll still read my blog if I refer another ... Pioneer Woman Cooks. Ree does a lovely job of describing her recipes - with lovely, mouth watering pictures to boot, but they're often complex and take time that I don't regularly have).

I need simple, toss in the crock pot type recipes!! The whole-er the foods, the better! The more inspired the spices are (especially if I can grow them myself!), the better!!

I can make pot roast, but I never can get the seasoning to taste like more than beefy water.

Every once in a blue moon, I end up with energy AND time and try to make things and freeze them ahead of time. It's like Christmas in the freezer when I am in need of a quick dinner fix.

What are your favorite spices to use for cooking? Do you have any go-to dinner recipes that you make when you're in a pinch? Any foods you make ahead of time and freeze?

Please, add your recipes, herbs, and tips in the comments below or email me!

Help a sister out!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Bunny, Santa, and other beings that are never charged with breaking and entering

Aside from the obvious Christian ties, modern-day Easter and Christmas intrigue the hell out of me.

First, and sometimes not-so-obvious to some is the correlation with the solar calendar. Christmas is at the Winter Solstice - marking the beginning of a new year, while Easter is around the Spring Equinox which celebrates the life-giving season. As I have not done an exhaustive Wikipedia read on this, I will leave the remaining correlations related to solar rituals to the vetted 13 year-olds doing the writing on that site.

Second, both holidays have split personalities. Part of this, I'm sure, hearkens back to the reason of the solar calendar correlation, but I'm sure it was never intended for each holiday to have parents place their children on oddly dressed pedophiles' laps for a fear-stricken, tear-soaked photograph.

Each holiday's secular facade has a character that enters into a person's house while everyone is asleep. He drops off a few gifts (sometimes hiding them in nooks and crannies, other times placing them in socks and under lighted plants), eats, probably watches a little porn, and then is off to the next house. Again, the parents are totally cool and reassuring about this.

I grew up with these men sneaking into our home and slipping our freak-out barking dog a mickey. Them and the creepy-ass tooth fairy (who I can only imagine as also being a man with a beer gut and chest hair) who didn't keep his ick-factor in the living room, but instead came in and touched the pillow my head was on!! EWWW!!

Nonetheless, I was in enamored with each character. I loved that they would bother to come to my house to bring gifts. I would write them each letters thanking them for their selfless deeds - and then PLEADING with them to be my pen-pals during the rest of the year. I was always greeted with presents and a note the following morning. I remember loving to read these letters - the connection to the mystery. And being hurt that they were too busy to write during the other times of the year. Oh well. The subsequent sugar high healed those wounds.

Of course, the cynicism of these events and their related characters are purely from adulthood. As a child, I knew my parents trusted these folks to come into our house, so it was ok. I learned - especially in Santa's case - that the joy of giving a gift is knowing that the recipient feels loved, and not in receiving "credit" for giving the gift. My parents never gave us Christmas gifts that I remember. Their gift to us was "letting Santa in." Mind you, we had plenty of opportunity to thank family members for gifts received.

I think that selflessness is worth its weight in gold - especially in this age of instantaneous reward.

I, as well as many other parents, struggle with a balance of lessons. How high do we build these characters up in order to be found out down the road? To this day, my mom still skirts the question when asked if these characters are real. The magic and innocent joy, the selflessness, is real.

My 6 month old is too young to fight sleep (well, because of excitement) the night before Easter or beg for a fictional pen pal, but this issue will come to a head soon enough.

Every day, every single day, we moms are looking at our children's experiences as life lessons. It is way too easy to over think, and not live in the moment. I hope each of you enjoyed your Easter/Spring Equinox with your children - and that they continue to remind you of the magic of finding an Easter egg or flower or bug.

Happy Monday, Ladies!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I'll take a week of sunshine with a side of flowers, hold the rain

I'm just going to lay it out there. I'm a botany nerd. For those of you far enough from the world of natural history - that's the study of plants. More specifically, I'm into ephemeral herbaceous plants - meaning I aim my attention at non-woody plants that run through their life cycle in a matter of days or weeks - also known as spring wildflowers.

So what?

Why am I wrapping my glasses with proverbial tape on an open forum? Because the next few weeks are MY weeks. While some long for deer hunting season, or the Final Four, or the Indy 500 (god, why are all of my references so down home Indiana...) -- my main annual event happens about one foot off the ground out in the woods -- in just a couple weeks a year. Of course, I can't mark it on my calendar months in advance because the mix of rain, sun, and temperature dictates WHEN I get to have my fun.

Natural History Lesson:
Woodland spring wildflowers are amazing because they can run the course of their annual life cycle in a matter of days or weeks. That means sprout, bud, bloom, seed, and senesce (or die back) all before the leaves on the trees shades them out. Think about how much sunlight hits the forest floor once the leaves on the trees fill in the canopy - hardly any at all. The challenge, then, for the flowers is to creep in just in time to do their duty after the threat of frost (sometimes more successfully than others), but before the trees hog all of the life-giving light.

But why does this cynical, sarcastic, over-worked, under-paid woman give a rat's ass about "weeds" growing in the forest??

Because they are my heroes. Spring wildflowers are my soul mirrors in the plant world. Does that sound stupid? Well, maybe a little - but I had to find a connection with the little buggers since I did my master's thesis on them and had to endure long days of mud, rain, and mosquitoes - oh so many mosquitoes - to collect my data. I'm still reeling from the chemical overdose of Deep Woods Off.

I live in a world of structure and anarchy, bedtimes, bath times and laundry, work deadlines and tummy aches. Between my daily, weekly, monthly, and annual schedules; my lovely daughter who lives to disrupt said schedules; all responsibilities friends, family, and otherwise that are completely unscheduleable; and the ultimate vanity - sleep --- I rarely can find time to do something for me. For the most part, I'm ok with that, but everyone needs to be rejuvenated. Everyone.

Time to get up and shower (oooh) and dig out the makeup that hasn't clumped into a brick because of non-use (ahhhh) and just plain feel good, nay great, about herself. A moment to reflect on all that she accomplishes before 7AM whilst others sleep the day away. To see that her work IS appreciated and that she is making a positive impact on her little corner of the world.

Just to clarify - I'm speaking metaphorically here and do not don the mascara to hike in the woods...

I challenge you all to get out and bloom - even if it's just to go grocery shopping. Feel great about yourself. Also, step outside your world and check out the little beauties blooming in a woods near you. They aren't horticulturally botoxed into the false sense of "beauty", but those simple little wildflowers are reaching for their share of the sun just the same.

(Note: if you are in the northern part of the US, it may take a bit longer for the wildflowers to pop. Take a hint from your daffodils - once they begin to bud, so will your local wildflowers!)