Saturday, September 21, 2013


Inspired by another bloggers piece I came across today I decided to take the opportunity to document some of the constant dic-toddler commands that are frequently uttered In my home these days…while they are still cute…and only mildly annoying…

1. Hand, Hand! This normally results in being lead to any variety of places or to any variety of things he might find desirable at that time (which of late includes the new container of candy corn in the kitchen…OY) Or just as often this commandment is promptly followed by ;

2. Shoes, Shoes! That inevitably leads to …

3. SIDE, SIDE! This is the one that is repeated over and over and over ALL DAY LONG. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful that my kid likes to be outdoors-really- but at 5:30 in the morning…when it’s raining…it’s not nearly as charming, or as easy to explain why it’s not happening.

4. More! A term normally reserved for food items, especially of the small orange fish shaped variety (or his new obsession…)

5. Chips! I SWEAR we do not ply this kid with junk food, but I’ll be dammed if he didn’t look over the baby gate last week at the new bag of pop chips I bought at BJ’s and begin emphatically chanting Chip Chip Chip…Not only did I not realize he knew the word…I sure as heck didn’t expect him to ID the bag in a dark corner of the dining room!

6. Pop-Pop: This phrase can actually encompass either or both sets of grandparents or his Auntie but it is directed at the computer, as he believes its only purpose is to see and talk to people who aren’t here… Yea for Skype! (Although he is starting to call in “pudee” which makes the request a tad easier to understand)

7. Dia-poo (Diaper): As in this one is old and full…new one please!

8. Poddy (potty): In keeping with the previous demand, he makes this request often…but always after the deed is done…baby steps

It’s really pretty cool to watch these connections form rapid fire and I know this is the point when it’s supposed to happen but it’s still pretty awe inspiring. Let’s just hope I can keep that perspective as the demands get louder and the vocabulary gets wider!

Friday, May 3, 2013

This is 15 months

Your mother is a delinquent who procrastinates on good ideas far too often, but this one she’s jumping on. So ideally while this would read “This is 1 year”, rather than scratch for the memories that should still be fresh (but you are changing far too quickly) I will strive to capture the here and now…
At 15 months old you are 31 and three quarters inches tall and 27 pounds 15 ounces but your personality fills up the space of an 8 foot tall man. Your smiles are so big and so genuine and your belly laughs can make the whole day better. You have just started cutting your eyes and playing coy and when we catch you, you think it is the funniest thing in the world. But make no mistake there is plenty of fire to counter that sweetness. You definitely have your own opinions about what you want and when you want it and you don’t hesitate sharing them. You will furrow your little brow and babble baby unpleasantries at us. For the moment your “tantrums” are incredibly short and for this I am grateful because I know already, with your level of focus and determination, we are in for some epic battles.
You don’t like wearing shoes and make quick work of removing them while you are in your car seat. Socks are sometimes better tolerated but not really, apparently you like feeling rooted to your surroundings. You have been walking since a little before 11 months and now, boy can you can fly. I can barely get down the hall in front of you before you are on my heals. Two weeks ago you figured out how to get yourself onto the couch without any help at all (the hard version of this involves you throwing your leg up as if to scale a wall and pulling and grabbing with all your mite, your newer, much more creative version, involving using your mini arm chair as a climbing tool to make your couch assent). You also just figured out how to use your Bumbo seat as a stepping stool adding a cool 10 inches to your reach span…sorry to burst your bubble but mommy’s moving that one to the attic tonight!
You are talking up a storm…I’m not sure where you get it. You can say mama, dada, dog, hot, bye-bye, hi, shoe and yes (or rather “yea”… we’re working on this one-but its pretty adorable). Sometimes we would swear we hear you say “I got it” or “I don’t know”. You mimic us (and everyone else) like crazy. Your babble has perfect conversional inflection, you clearly know what you are saying-we’re the one’s trying to catch up. To help you “talk” we have been teaching you some sign language. You have mastered signing “please” and “thank you” and now you sign “please” anytime you want something- not yet old enough to understand that please won’t always get you what you want-but your so damn cute when you do it, it almost always does. Daddy has taught you “show me” so that you can guide us to what is it you are grunting about at any given moment…now you take our hands and “show us” EVERYTHING. But it’s so sweet to hold your hand we don’t really mind.
You are very inquisitive and are clearly like your daddy in that you want to see how things work. I see lots of broken stuff in my future. You like to play with the remote control and a toy Elmo cell phone; you also like to pretend to “stir” things like mommy does in the kitchen. Just last night you accomplished this with an old wipes container and a toy hammer. You love books, just not reading them. You prefer to pull them all off your book shelf or chew on the bindings if your teeth are bothering you. Apparently you are getting plenty of fiber as eating paper is becoming a favorite past time. You defiantly prefer the books that have fun textures to touch…or pull out…or eat. As for real food you actually eat really well. There aren’t many things you don’t like, except green beans and this baffles me, but you will still try new things and although I’m sure it will, I really hope this doesn’t change.
You want to be like us in so many ways and do the things we do but it is so very clear that you are your own special person. You give sweet hugs to your friends by leaning your head over to touch theirs, although this sometimes ends in you with your head on the ground, the gesture is so meltingly sweet. You give kisses upon request although when you aren’t really feeling it you might offer up your cheek or on a particularly stingy day the back of your hand. You love dogs and the cats at your daycare and I’m pretty sure you think your daddy is the best person in the world. He is your best buddy and I love watching the two of you together. We have many many wishes for you wonderful boy and at the rate you’re going you’re going to grab hold of them all!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Too much noise...

I am a terrible blogger.   This is a fact.   Perhaps I should rename this blog confessions of a failed southern blogger...I've literally had that sentence typed for over a week and find it is only now that I have anything useful to finish it with.  Life has been noisy lately.  I'm not entirely sure what I mean by that but it's the phrase that keeps coming to mind.  It's not really any one particular thing or even a bunch of little things I'm just finding myself holding my breath a lot lately, and I mean that in the literal sense.  Hubs actually ask me what was wrong as I let out a big sigh the other day.   My answer; "Nothing,  I just forgot to breathe."   It seems weird to say, as there is no big item of change on the horizon, but I feel like life is in flux and not in the normal everyday kind of way.   I can not put my finger on it but it's there,  pressing on my chest, reminding me with a heavy presence that it knows where to find me.  Adding to the noise is the terrible act of violence carried out on Monday in Boston.   I've spent a fair amount of time over the past few days trying to wrap my head around what would cause a human being to wantonly take the life of another.  A husband, father, mother, brother, sister...child.  Save for standing between my own and a source that seeks to harm him,  I just can't.  Becoming a mom has ripped me open and exposed me in ways I could have never anticipated.  Every child becomes your child, every loss feels much more personal.  Quite frankly sometimes its just more than I can stand.   Many times, too many lately,  I have sat at my desk in the morning and cried as Ive read about the various atrocities occuring around us that blanket our newspapers.  Some just the hard realities of living, dying and being human.   Others lack any glimmer of humanity whatsoever...too much noise.  I think of the world that I now share with my son and it leaves my heart heavy.   It makes me want to hide under a rock for a bit and hibernate, go off the grid and at least eliminate the electronic noise, the 24 hour new cycle, and focus on the wonderful people that surround me.   I'm not foolish enough to think I can hide for long,  but maybe a few days,  just long enough for me to find some ear plugs.  Im also not foolish enough to think that will do anything other than give me a whole bunch of crap to catch up on when I raise my head from the sand.  Life with a child presents me with an even bigger challenge of trying to find the balance between the beauty of the world and the majority of good that comprises it and these horrible, seemingly increasing, acts of evil.  How do you teach your child to be loving and trusting, compassionate and non judgmental of others when you feel like you are living your life in direct contrast to those very ideals you crave to reclaim?  Im starting to understand why old people become so crotchety, the older I get the fight to not become jaded gets bigger and bigger.  I hate it.  So I pray.  A lot.  I pray for peace, and safety and understanding.  I pray for the ability to be a better example of the person I really truly want to be, despite my human faltering.  I pray for a world for my son that will eventually know less hate and more tolerance.  And I pray for quiet, just a little bit of quiet in this noisy, noisy world.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

1 Ball 2 Strikes

I may be a lot of things in life but one thing I'm not is a quitter...unless you count the cello in 7th grade-which I don't cause I had an injury- so it just wasn't in the cards for me to lie down on this Macaroon business.  I plotted my attack all day yesterday.   I stopped at the store on my way home and bought actual almond meal flour -hangs-head-in-shame- thinking that maybe my home grind version might have been to "chunky" and "torn" through the cookies as they tried to rise.   I even busted out the oven thermometer, left by the previous owner, and as I cooked dinner attempted to nail down how out of caliber my temperature readings was a piece of garbage by the way and lagged my oven temp by over 100 degrees. ..clearly why it was left bring behind.   Again I measured by weight,  sifted and beat down my meringue, I even left out any coloring, in hopes of removing a variable I couldn't control.  I filled my piping bag less full this time, eliminating one problem from round one, and worked to create uniform sizes -my patience failed me however,  they were sort of all over the map.

My "quarter size" turned into a silver dollars...

One big thing I did this time...banged those damn pans...a few more times than prescribed...which might explain the "silver dollar" phenomenon mentioned above...but whatever, there were NO air bubbles to wreak havoc!
I baked each tray individuality this time letting the pans rest too, 15 min for the first one, and subsequently longer for the others as they waited their turn in the hot box.   I hoped...oh I hoped upon hope. the nine minute mark when I went to rotate the pan...cracks, ugly ugly cracks...I was greeted with cracks... Dammit...I felt defeated. I was committed to finishing the other two trays but the results were more of the same.
Tray one

Tray two

I even turned them over to cool, sort of like an angel food cake...

But I don't really know if it helped...Little tiny "feet" Boo.....

Bottom line was that I needed these for my party on Saturday and come hell or high water I had to  make them work.   So what does one do when taking a ride on the failure train you might ride that bitch to the end of the line...and that's exactly what I did.   I had all these Macaroon shells,  crappy as they were, and they needed to be filled so naturally I decide to make a brand new butter cream recipe...hey if your gonna fail at least do it spectacularly...and I'll have you know that Swiss butter cream came out fantastic!   Finally something went my way!!!  It was terrifying as it involved a double boiler and no powered sugar but it is the most amazing icing ever, now I know why the pros use two strikes on the Macaroons but I'll take a ball on the icing.   Now if everyone likes them, that'll be a huge home run.

Swiss Butter Cream goodness

Matching up the shells...Today's debacle makes yesterday "failure" look pretty damn good now...

Its amazing what a little icing can do

We called these the little fugglies.  Not party worthy for sure, but still damn tasty and a nice little "cooks treat".  They gave me hope that everyone might actually enjoy these at the party after all!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rah & Blah...

As the afternoon progressed I found myself actually getting excited about tonight's baking experiment.  I  have read so many post and recipes and tips and tricks, like a coach studying the opponents playbook before the big game, that I was feeling pretty positive about my prospects.  I do think its worth mentioning that it didn't matter what site, post or cookbook I was referencing they all, in one way or another, built in a few sentences that more or less told me to expect failure.  Not every time mind you, but regularly...and often.  They also mentioned 435 different reasons you might experience said failure but urged you to bake on anyway.  Why?  Because they are yummy...even ugly, they are yummy.  So project Macaroon commenced:

I ground my almonds and sifted my powdered sugar.  I followed good baking procedure and weighed all my ingredients (in grams) to be as precise as possible.

For anyone that has known me for at least 5 minutes its pretty fair to say that I'm not the most patient in an effort to improve my efforts to create similarly sized shells I even took the time to trace a templet on my parchment paper

I whipped my egg whites as instructed to create stiff dry peaks

I added my gel color and prepared to pipe

 Despite my best efforts my sizing wasn't as uniform as I would have liked.  My piping bag was smaller than called for and I unintentionally overfilled it.  So while battling batter overflow out of the top of the bag I did my best to follow my templet.

This is me, praying to the Frigidaire-Macaroon gods 

It was shortly after my prayer session, while I was starting on the dishes, that it hit me...I didn't bang my pans.  My heart dropped.  I knew at that moment, without even looking, that this would not be the outcome I was so hoping for.   This was another one of those items, like the guarantee of failure, that all research sources agreed on.  They might call for a different number of bangs, or a different degree turn on the pan before banging again, but they ALL called for it.  If you have ever made a meringue you know the goal is to fill the egg whites with air.  Ironically in Macaroon making even though you make a meringue to start you actually beat the air back out of the batter when you incorporate the dry ingredients.  The banging of the pan is important to remove any remaining air bubbles to not only keep your interiors fluffy but to keep your shell tops from cracking.   I entertained a brief hope that maybe it wasn't all that critical and things would be just fine, but I didn't let myself bask in the lie for long, I knew better.

And as worst French fears were realized...Cracked...Blah...

One lonely perfect shell in a sea of frightening failures

Somehow my second pan, while still nothing to write home about, bore much better results.  To be honest if my entire endeavor had produced this result I probably would have called this whole thing a HUGE success, in spite of a few cracked tops.

                      Shiny shells, pretty frills (or feet) overall an excellent first Macaroon attempt

I already know several things I will do differently next time...yes their will be a next time, I was too damn close this time to give up...Obviously the biggie is that I will remember to follow ALL my directions and I will bang out the piped shells before baking.  I also think I might let them sit for 15 min. or so before baking.  This was a suggestion of some while others said it wasn't necessary. I figure if nothing else the extra 15 minutes might have helped me remember to BANG THE DAMN PAN!  Lastly I would bake them one try at a time.  I'm fairly certain that my bottom tray of shells got too hot too fast on the bottom rack and thats why the cracking was so bad.

The good news...these still taste great.  And oh by the way-are grain free- can a get a Lenten HELL YEA!  excuse me while I go eat the evidence!

Going for it...

This is perhaps a precursor to a new blog post titled "living up to my name-and other kitchen failures" but God I hope not.  
I like to think I'm a pretty good cook (no one's died yet) and a pretty  decent baker (although boxed brownie mix is my nemesis-go figure that shit) but I've had a goal in my sight lines that I have managed to stall on repeatedly...Macaroons.
I had declared the summer of 2012 as the summer I would master the Macaroon...a declaration made mind you while I was still pregnant...and thus naive...and slightly delusional.  What?   My conjured images of whipping up French delicacies while my infant slept  serenely in the background was a stretch you say?   Anywho,  needless to say I've yet to even attempt a batch,  but that's all about to change. 
This weekend I'm hosting a shower for one of my dearest loves and these little dainty morsels seem to be the perfect sweet bite to complement the occasion.   Knowing (after my copious amounts of reading) that they improve with several days in the fridge I'm going to attempt them tonight.   I promise to take pictures along the way and give an honest account of the exercise but I'm really hoping tomorrows post Is more Rah Rah and not ewww blah...

Friday, March 8, 2013

OK maybe not...

Well, so far having this access on my phone has done little to improve my blogging habits...but don't quit on me yet please I'm a constant work in progress and I might just surprise myself!
I'm currently sitting at the eye Dr.  waiting for these terrible dilation drops to kick in.. .yuck. ..apparently Free Feb. must have had a positive effect because I passed on spending the extra 40 bucks to use the fancy camera to do this test opting instead to do it the old fashioned way....the WAY stupid way by the way.   Those blind lady sunglasses I'll get to take home are only a small consolation prize...
As I sit here waiting for my pupils to turn into saucers all I can think about is how hungry I am!  My next thought is how that stupid hard boiled egg in the car sounds completely unsatisfying.  I want a scone.  A big fat  cinnamon-y one from Starbucks...with a big fat coffee.   Ahh,  not even half way through Lent.  I'm already harboring fantasies of pizza for Easter dinner.  I had really hoped this would be easier.  I mean it IS getting easier.  For example I had zero heart ache passing up multiple offers of shared Girl Scout cookies this week...and I do mean multiple,  seems like someone had a new box every day, spreading the sugary carb-y goodness (and guilt) to everyone.   Even just day to day stuff is long as I'm prepared!  See eating grain free isn't complicated.  I can have all the meat, fruit, vegetables and nuts I want but short of an apple or hand full of nuts how many of those item are"quick" or prep-less?  Its the 6:30 in the morning "I'm starving and don't want to scramble an egg" moments that are hard.   I've found a few approved recipes that might offer me some better quick grab "healthy" options for that always challenging start to the day. I mean think about it,  breakfast above any other meal of the day is the one most riddled with grain loaded convenience foods (think cereal, cereal bars, granola bars, oatmeal, donuts, get where I'm going here...), and let's face it we are a people of convenience...and instant gratification...which can sometimes only be cured by a big fat scone...but not today, not today my friends.
They don't even have the paper retractable arms anymore!  What a rip off...

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The end of the road

Day 28

Well,  the end of one road anyway.   Today marks the 28th and final day of Free February.  All of a sudden my palms feel itchy ;) 
While I'm glad to have the "restriction" lifted I really don't expect tomorrow to feel that
different, which I guess is a good sign.  How does the saying go, 21 days to make or break a habit.   Certainly it's rediculous to think I could do this forever,  and one lunch out every now and then isn't going to kill anyone but the message has certainly hit home that I had slipped down that slippery slope known as retched excess!
Maybe I'll keep this in my back pocket and pull it out every once and a while, sort of my own version of juicing,  when I need a financial reset.  For now though I'm going to sit back, relax and  stare at my bank balance... while sipping a Starbucks of course ;)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Devil DOES NOT Wear a Red Dress...

He wears chocolate glaze and rainbow sprinkles...

This was my greeting this morning at work.   Tuesdays we have a weekly breakfast meeting.   My enemy does not appear every week but naturally he shows his soft doughy head at the first meeting since I began my Paleo challenge for lent.  Grrrrr.   I didn't always have this weird affection for donuts.  Perhaps because I grew up in a small town whose closest Krispy Kreme was a half hour away (trust me they just don't have the same effect when you buy them at the grocery).  There is no comparison between a KK when that Hot and Now light is on and nuking one to try and recapture that goodness (but 7 seconds is your number if you'd like to try-trust me on this,  I clearly have donut issues).
Regardless, I managed to stay strong, but it wasn't without a few second thoughts...and a little drool.  I know these first few weeks are the hardest.
Would you look at that.   I just wrote an entire post about donuts.   Oy!  Did I change the world today,  probably not,  but that 7 sec. trick might come close ;)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reality Check

We all experience moments when we feel our mortality more acutely than others, today was one of those moments for me. I attended a funeral today. Like most, it was both beautiful and raw, a mix of laughter and tears but unlike every other funeral I have attended in the past decade this was a memorial to a life lived long and a life lived well, as evidenced by the 4 long church pews reserved for and filled by immediate family. In these moments, when you hear the life of another recounted through the love of those they left behind, it’s hard not to ask yourself what your legacy will look like. What will be said about you when you are gone? Are you living a life in the here and now that will tell your story completely when you are gone? I know I yell more than I should, cuss more than I should and fight a temper that sometimes boils over too quickly. I also know that I love as hard as I can, trust more than I probably should and really try hard to put others before myself, but some days are clearly more successful than others. I know I should go to church more and want so badly to make that a part of my family’s life but am not taking the steps to make it happen? I want to give Buster a foundation that teaches tolerance and acceptance of things that are different. That embraces kindness over hatred and that encourages service to others but am I living my life in a way to show him those things? Am I walking the walk? I don’t fear death per say, maybe how it might come to me, but not actual death. I know my Lord and I know that my time in this place is finite but I mean, isn’t that the point? We all, every one of us, has a limited amount of time to make our mark, if we had “forever” would we be as motivated to make the most of the hear and now? Would we be as compelled to strive to be better versions of who we are today? I don’t know. Part of me feels that if there were no beginning and end to this life that it would be far too easy to just let each day slip by and not give any thought to who we are or how we treat others because we would have infinite days ahead of us-why bother now? But we don’t, we don’t have an infinite number of days. We don’t even get to know how many of those days we will be given, sort of lights a fire under you hua? A reason to wake each day and think, if this is my last day what will my gift to the world be today? Will I leave this Earth having done the absolute best I can? I hope so my friend, I certainly hope so.

Friday, February 22, 2013

This is why I'm a Bad Blogger...

Day 22 (And day 10 respectively)
I'm one week away from the end of Free February and one quarter of the way through this Lenten season and, well, I'm not dead.  (As evidenced by this woefully belated blog post)  As I am drawing near to the end of my one month spending freeze I interestingly find that its not such a big deal anymore.  I don't walk by the vending machine and give it that sideways glance you reserve for an old boy friend who has rebuffed you, nope I walk right past that big money taker, processed food dealer and don't even think about it.  I don't even crave the Starbucks runs...OK I'm lying, I miss them like hell and I keep entertaining daydreams of my wonderful husband surprising me with a grande bold cup of love. sugar in the raw and some half and half if your reading this...babe...babe. ..I digress.  In all seriousness, even though it's not complete I can already call this little experiment a success as it has truly reformed my thinking on "need".  I submit for example this striking moment of clarity:  disparate to get out of the house with the baby this past Sunday i decided we would go to the store...not a luxury, not a cheat...or is it?   Disguising a trip to the market as an excuse to leave the house when we didn't really need anything IS luxury spending...even if it's just on a box of raisin bran.. .which it wasn't...cause I can't have that either. ..
On that front I'm happy to report that things have been better than I thought (save for one bad day where my two "projects" collided and my daily intake was all pop chips or trail mix) and restarting my Paleo-ish habits has me feeling better already.
I have been feeling guilty that I haven't made daily contributions to this blog.   I find if I don't have something "interesting" to say (and clearly this is subjective) I don't feel motivated to post.   Beyond that l work full time and by the time I get home and start my real job I really run out motivation but maybe not much longer.  Today's big accomplishment... I downloaded the mobile version of Blogger!  Most of this post has been written on it and so far I really like it  but until I find the spell check feature
I'm up a creek!  Hopefully my latest dance with the technology devil will help me improve this crazy idea of blogging.

Friday, February 15, 2013

No Cash No Cookie…

Day 14

I want a donut.  It’s the two week celebration of my spending hiatus and the second day of Lent and I am hungry.  Yesterday went great and it clearly lulled me into a false sense of security as to how this process would go.  Today I can feel the effects of the “detox” setting in.  I am hungry, I have a headache…did I mention I’m hungry?  I seem to have conveniently forgotten that these first few weeks are…an adjustment…as my body climbs off the carb converted sugar train.  Couple this with the fact Panara stuck a cookie in my lunch order today and it’s just plain hell…goodbye sweet deliciousness, guess I’ll have to settle for picking the chocolate bits out of my trail mix for now.
Evil Temptress

When I mentioned my Lenten endeavor to the Hubs his natural questions was “well haven’t you already given something up?” referencing my Free February project.  Its was a good question, a smart question, a question I should have just answered with "well yes, I guess I am already in compliance"…but no I like to be difficult.  This project ends in February I said, Lent isn’t over until late March, I said…it would be cheating…damn moral fortitude…
On a positive note Free February is progressing quite well.  There have certainly been expenses but they have all been of a medical, grocery or transportation nature.  I have not been to Starbucks (except for this: I have gotten nothing out of the vending machine, no rambling trips to Target and have not had one lunch or dinner eaten out.  While it has required some planning for the most part I am pleased with how well I'm doing.  Don’t get me wrong though, I have a legal pad list going of the things I need to order/buy/do on March 1st including everything from birthday gifts to bridal shower preparations but for now, I’m holding steady.
On another bright note Happy Valentines Day!  I wish you lots of love, hugs and kisses and special times with those you love...all the best things in life really are free!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Another Impending Sacrifice

Day 11

Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday.  A day for many that is a festival of indulgence and indiscretion.  Sadly I have never experienced the real Mardi Gras and even more sadly I doubt I ever will.  I know New Orleans has come a tremendously LONG was since being torn apart by Katrina but I can’t help but feel that some of the original “magic” was washed away with all that water.  Aside from the technicalities I’m also old…with a child…that I breastfed…and let me just tell you those ingredients don’t make for good bead gathering if you know what I mean.  Anyway.  Fat Tuesday for me is the Oh s*#t moment when I realize that the following day is Ash Wednesday and that the time has come for me to once more chose what I will give up for Lent. Lent, for those of you who don’t know, is the period of 40 days beginning with Ash Wednesday (and depending on how you celebrate) culminating on Easter Sunday(Good Friday for some).  Lent is meant to be a time of reflection, and recalls the 40 days of fasting Jesus took on in the desert before he began his public ministry.  To aid in this reflection most select something to sacrifice (usually something they love) although I have seen people also use this as an opportunity to give up a bad habit of some sort as well.  Although most closely associated with the Catholic faith, most all branches of Christianity celebrate in one way or another and I have been doing so for at least the last 10 years.  In the past I have given up sweets, red meat, and pizza…all loves of mine.  Last year however, as I was pregnant, I figured I was practicing more of a 10 month Lenten fast of MANY things I love (Sushi, booze, coffee) and couldn’t bear the thought of letting go of another so I took a break.  This year though it’s time to get back on track.
As I mentioned in one of my first blogs, this little project sparked from another line of thinking related to my physical health more so than my fiscal health.  Although my diet is not crapy by any means there is always room for improvement.  The bottom line is that when I eat a certain way, I just feel better.  This isn’t about diet or weight loss but quality of life.  So now with two days to spare I am contemplating eliminating grains for Lent…and really struggling with the idea.  This struggle is less about difficulty and a lot more about laziness.  Prior to becoming pregnant Mike and I both were pretty much living a Paleo/Primal lifestyle and feeling amazing for it.  But with that baby came carb cravings and hunger that I just could not ignore.  A pregnant body knows what it needs and I tried really hard to listen.  When we originally made the switch it only took a week or two and the cravings for those types of food really faded into the background.  I could walk past a try of bagels or donuts in the break room without even blinking but once I caved to my cravings during my pregnancy I have had a hard time regaining my resolve.
Now a days the issue is less about cravings and way more about convenience.  I have a full time job, I have a very active toddler and most nights I feel like I’ve moved a mountain if I got a real meal on the table (or counter as it were).  Please don’t miss understand, eating Paleo/Primal is not hard but it DOES require planning and preparation…another subject, if you recall, that I’m struggling with currently.  Dinner isn’t that hard at all but breakfast and lunch (mostly breakfast) are so much easier with instant oatmeal and cereal. 
When I commit to my Lenten goal I take it very seriously and as such don’t want to deliberately set myself up for failure.  On the other hand, Lent seems to be the only time of year my resolve is stronger than my “wants”.  Left to my own devices a Monday morning commitment to skip the bread ends with a brownie someone brought in from home but if I give something up in the name of something bigger than myself (IE The Lord or my baby) it’s a breeze…weird I know…So I guess I will spend the next 48hr talking myself into using this as a spring board to wellness…and an opportunity to eat as much pizza and cookies as I can.  Fat Tuesday indeed!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Wholesale Fail...

Day 10

Things got off to a rough start around here this morning.  In my joy and haste to enjoy my free cup of coffee on Thursday somehow it escaped me that by having that empty bag I was now out of coffee...until yesterday morning!  Hello, my name is Lori Ann and I am a coffee addict.  I'd say caffeine addict, which is probably more accurate, but since I don't drink soda and rarely drink tea, coffee is my primary fix and boy do I feel it when I don't get it.  I know its not the best for me, depending on what article you read, but I figure it like this; I don't do drugs, I gave up smoking years ago and my drinking days have been reduced to the occasional glass of wine/beer on a Friday night so if this is my worst be it.  I muddled thorough my morning yesterday by digging out an old Tasters Choice decaf (Blasphemy) single serve left over from my pregnancy days...seriously the day I could begin drinking my beloved again that decaf got shoved to the back...way back and that almost coffee taste held me until I got to work and could get a cup of the real (all though not nearly as delicious as my K-cup) deal. Well fast forward to this morning...SATURDAY morning and there was nothing there to save me, not even crappy office coffee.  Being that I'm on this spending freeze dashing to Starbucks was clearly not an option and loading the baby in the car to go to the grocery just for coffee seemed like a poor secondary option.  Buster has been a big bag of whiny for the past two days.  Judging by the globs of drool falling out of his mouth and the random fever he had this week I blame teeth, probably his 1 yr molars, but Ill keep you posted on that.  Anywho!  The only thing that kept him moderately happy this morning was me sitting in the floor to be at his utmost disposal weather for sitting, climbing, snuggling-my favorite-or being his human I sat there I really though about just how similar we are to Gorillas, the way their babies hang and climb all over them...I digress...This morning was his 9:15 make up class at MyGym.  His regular class is on Thursdays and he normally goes with the Hubs but the weeks where work conflicts I get a chance to take him.  To be honest I spent a few hours this morning (yes you read that correctly, I had a few hours to think about this IE: We've been up since 5:30) trying to talk myself out of it.  He's so whiny, he's tired, he's going to be a mess and we HAVE to go to BJ's today (we need coffee after all)  But by 8:00 when he was still hanging on I decided to stop being selfish and get us dressed and go.  I knew he was tired so I decided to leave at 8:30 thinking I could take the long way and he could sack out for the ride.  Par for the course, that plan was a bust.  He finally falls out a little before 9 and I'm figuring I'll let him sleep in the car until the last possible minute.  We arrive, get parked and all of a sudden it hits me, I'm wearing my Uggs...which means no socks...which means no My Gym...SERIOUSLY!?!?  I blame the coffee deprivation...Soooo after mentally kicking myself A LOT we head for BJ's.
I love club shopping but this trip had me nervous.  Never mind the sleep land mine I was navigating but I knew the items I needed were the big ticket ones; the toilet paper, the paper towels, baby wipes, it was extra awesome when I got to the checkout and found out that our membership had expired!   Ohhhhh Where. Is. That. COFFEE!!??!!!  I don't even want to type the final bill.  I take the tiniest amount of comfort in the fact that I didn't make any "splurge" purchases today.  The bill was big (especially with the instant 50.00 charge to re-up our membership) but everything purchased was something we needed...of wait, I did get sea salt...I guess we didn't need sea salt but my cookies might argue that.  (a big mouthful of kosher salt is not always a good thing!)  So in an effort to mitigate the damage I resolved to hole up here for the rest of the day to remove any spending temptation (infomercials what?)  Thankfully I have wonderful friends and two of them invited me and my whiny little appendage over for a lovely dinner and much need play date.  I think Matthew had a good time too ;)  Thank goodness for the kindness of friends!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Working on my fitness

Day 7

            Today marks the end of my first week of Free February so I decided to reward myself with Starbucks this morning…for FREE of course!  If you have never taken the time to read your packaging…and really why would you, it is fairly small and inconveniently placed for a reason…on every bag of Starbucks Coffee you purchase is a little note notifying you that you can trade in said empty bag for a free tall drip coffee!  Now I will admit, buying bagged Starbucks is not the cheapest coffee route to take without a decent coupon and say a Super Doubles sale at Harris Teeter BUT when you calculate in this little freebie (1.84 value locally) it does quite a bit to lower the overall price for the value, and its damn tasty to boot.  Nice way to start my day.

             Even though its only been one week I'm already seeing a shift in my habits.  I'm actually thinking before I spend! (I know I almost fainted too)  And beyond that I am looking for more economical (read FREE) ways to do things.  Including my exercise routine.  I have admittedly been, for the most part, a total waste of healthy space since this baby was born.  His sleep has been so erratic from day one that there was no real time to "plan" for a work out and if I'm being completely honest even thought I could now work out after he goes to bed at night I don't wanna.  Its already 8-8:30 most nights before I even sit down, exercising at that time of night, for me, just ain't happening, but something has got to give.  I am pretty fortunate that the building I work in provides a few nice amenities one of which is complementary yoga/Pilate's/ab classes on varying days of the week.  I have never really considered these for several reasons; one, my work schedule does not always allow for a "normal" lunch time, meaning making a 12:15 class is not always feasible.  Secondly, I used to work out like a normal person, at a real gym with a real trainer, not in an empty office space, so it just wasn't something I needed.  And finally I am not a tidy exerciser...I don't "perspire" I sweat!  And the thought of having to finish my work day and potentially meet with clients after this type of activity (with no access to a shower) is not the most appealing.  BUT as I mentioned before, something has got to give, and a gym membership isn't in the cards right now.  So I dug my yoga mat out of the closet last night and packed my gym bag to take Abs and more today.  And don't you know the teacher was a no-show!  They say its never happened before...I say it's a sign ;) So since we were already dressed we settled for a brisk walk instead, thank God I packed pants and not shorts!  Not the outcome I expected but I found myself excited about the idea of actually working out (which was the real sign today) so I will be back for more..I just hope the teacher shows up this time!

No hump day

Day 6

            It was a quiet money day around these parts which was a lovely change of pace.  I nabbed a leftover bagel at the office for breakfast (chocolate chip-SCORE) had lunch provided through a work meeting and we used a coupon for a free Papa Johns pizza for dinner last night.  Ahh the sweet sweet taste of redemption.  My poor check card doesn't know whats going on!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Embracing the "F" bomb...

Day 5

I'm not the least bit ashamed to admit that the "F' word is by far my favorite of all the curse words. Perhaps this is a problem in and of itself but that's a post for another day.  I use it far more often than I mean to, certainly more that would lady like, but considering there are scientific studies that show the physical and emotional benefit to using curse words as stress reducers I'm going to continue in the name of self preservation.
Today however the "F" bomb I'm looking to drop is a different one.  Today, my "F" stands for failure...

This is what got me today...only 5 days in.  When I went to pick up Buster from daycare I was told he had woken up with a fever this afternoon.  The good news, as far as I was concerned, was that he was acting pretty normal, fussy maybe, but still running around babbling his little head off.  So I told her we would monitor and keep her posted before we brought him back. As stupid as it may seem, taking this kids temperature stresses me out (and sometimes results in me utilizing my previously mentioned stress reducer).   Trying to get him to hold still while I attempt to press his little arm to his side to hold the thermometer in place for what feels like FOREVER has yet to really work for me.   The Hubs can do this no problem, but mom...not so much.  So ironically just a few days ago I had made the decision to finally get one of these instant read jobbies for both of our sakes but clearly I had planned on waiting until after Free February.  Why?  Because we already have a thermometer.  Rendering this one, albeit so much better...a luxury.  Crash.  Burn.
I spent a fair amount of time beating myself up for this tonight.  Despite the fact I have used it multiple times already with not only success but no incident what so ever makes part of me (the logical side) F'n happy.  But that other half, the half that is trying desperately to reconcile a failure on a 28 day project only 5 days in has struggled.  And then I told myself to get over it.  So what.  One failure does not define the whole experience, unless you let it.  I mean lets face it, without a fair amount of failure how does one learn to really appreciate success?  I might lose of few of you here but I take a pretty hard line on this concept.  I do not subscribe to the notion of "every kid gets a trophy".   I also don't think every kid should make the team/play/band whatever just because they try.  I really feel these things do a terrible disservice to our children because that is JUST NOT how life works.  You don't get a job just because you show up for the interview and you certainly don't get a raise/promotion just because you have good attendance.  As a parent, I get it.  We want to shield our children from pain and upset.  We work so hard to build their self esteem and sense of worth and it is torture to watch your hard work chipped away by someone who doesn't appreciate how fabulous they are.  But guess what not everyone they encounter in their lives is going to find them to be the little gems we know they are.  So yes failure sucks and it hurts but it also teaches.  It teaches us that we aren't invincible and that sometimes our best wont be good enough but that's ok.  The beautiful thing about failure is that it is just a comma not a period.  Its a pause in a path but not the end of a journey.  So you don't make the team the first time you try, you identify your weakness and work to grow stronger and you try again.  So you don't get the part in the school play, you keep honing your work and audition again and again until you find the part you were meant to play.  So you spend unplanned money on a thermometer to take care of your sick kid, you brush it off and give yourself a chance to do better tomorrow.  You embrace the failure because success without failure just isn't as sweet.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Shut the front door...

Day 4

Short and sweet today people.  Not only did I not spend any money…I FOUND MONEY!  Seriously check it out…it helps when you have as many aliases as I do…but whatever don’t judge, I’m getting paid!

Almost Made It...

Day 3 

I thought I might make it through the whole weekend without spending ANY money but of course life had other plans. For one it slipped my mind that we had planned on hitting Babies R Us this weekend to take advantage of their trade-in sale. Buster was using a car seat I got from a friend that really filled a gap for us, but had expired in December. And while many Americans might ignore an expiration date stamped on a car seat, when your Hubs has sat through 40+ hours of car seat training you are not afforded that luxury (and as an added safety commercial-you really shouldn’t ignore it-the plastic can degrade over time due to extreme temp conditions in your vehicle and it can really weaken the safety and effectiveness of your seat. So please, don’t ignore this date, it could save a most important life!). Couple this with the fact that we also reached the 30” mark and we had two car seats that needed to be replaced… OY. Thankfully we had been hording gift cards, some of which we received3 when he was born, that had been earmarked just for this purchase. So I am happy to report that after extensive research we selected our new seat (Times 2) and with the trade-in credit on one, a coupon for the second and a cash in of our gift card stash we only came out of pocket 125 bucks. Still no small day but this was certainly a necessary expense and we managed to do it at a time when we could maximize our savings so I’ll count it as a win.

Speaking of win, quite a game last night! I love football but I’m team agnostic. I have never, for whatever reason, formed a true sports allegiance. I tend to sort of pick and chose based on the game and who happens to be playing. I guess I had sort of aligned myself to the 49’s last night, due to the fan base that surrounded me, but I can enjoy a good play regardless of who makes it and there were lots of good plays last night…some fairly shitty ones too…but for the most part a really exciting game to watch. We ended up deciding, fairly last minute, to have a few friends over to watch the game (those of us with early to bed ankle biters don’t make the best guest for a party that doesn’t even start till 6:18) and I needed lunch supplies for my work week so a trip to the grocery was required yesterday too. This I will claim as my failure for the day. Not only did I not have a list (or any coupons) I had a sleeping baby in the car. So I got dropped at the front door and proceeded to play my own game of Supermarket Sweep. The combo of no list, no coupons and no time did not make for a very responsible grocery run. So naturally I get home to find that I had forgotten things I needed, surprise, surprise and I spent WAY more than I would have if I had planned and prepared properly…What’s that about the 7 P’s: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance…I got the last three down pat…

Saturday, February 2, 2013

"Free"dom aint always fun...

Day 2:

I had the amazing honor of accompanying my bestie wedding dress shopping this morning.  If you have never shared this experience with someone before add it to your bucket list, really, you must.  (go camp out at David's Bridal if you have to, believe me every woman can use one more cheerleader!)  To see the excitement, joy, hopefulness that a wedding brings is really a beautiful thing.  Its one of the reasons I firmly believe we should all be allowed to remarry at least every 5 years.  Before you go gettin all crazy, you can totally remarry the one who brought you, but to have a chance to revive that spark, to look at that person, your person and remember why you said "I do" is really a gift...and fresh sheets and towels every 5 years seems about right to me too...
After such a successful trip, and lots of hard work, tummies were rumbling so naturally everyone wanted to grab lunch.  But wait...lunch outside of my kitchen falls squarely into the no-no zone....@$*#...So I had to bow out....which really totally blew (but not quite as much as the peanut butter and jelly I ended up having for lunch).  A not so pleasant reminder that often times when we spend those nonessential dollars its really driven by a social need over a material one.  I wanted more than anything to kick back over all you can eat soup, salad and breadsticks and raise a very large, very frosty glass to one of  my most favorite people in the whole world, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  Truthfully were I not openly sharing this endeavor I would have said screw it and gone anyway, which is precisely why I AM sharing this endeavor.  Accountability.  Like so much in life if no one knows your doing something then no one has to know if you fail.  Conversely if no one knows what your doing then there is no one to lift you up and offer you a had when you fall...Sigh...
So whether you intended to or not, thanks for the nudge to do the right thing today, consider your good deed done.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Damn you Zulily!

         Day one, 9:20 am and I already have to catch myself when I open my email and see Zulily has a Stride Rite sale today…CURSES!  Ahh the lessons come hard and fast.  I’m already seeing this may be more about recognizing how easy it is to spend money.  I mean the consumerism is everywhere, it’s even attacking me from my own inbox!  I guess crawling in an internet/facebook/email hole for the month fully defeats the purpose of this exercise though so the temptations live on. Here is just a little taste of what was in my mailbox before 9 am this morning:

Restoration Hardware:  Save Up to 25% on Bedroom & Bath Furniture, Linens, Lighting and More
BJ’s: Final Days for Special Offers
LL Bean: Save up to 60% This Weekend + Free Shipping
William Sonoma: Exclusive Online Offer: 10% Off
The Children’s Place: 25% Off Everything in the Store!
Gymboree: Rain, rain, go away…Rain Gear Shop now open! Plus up to 60% off sale ends Sunday!
Zulily: Up to 80% off | Stride Rite sporty kids' shoes, Pretty in Pink Collection girls' apparel & accessories, Petit Ami handcrafted smocking and more

It is defiantly time for an “unsubscribe” campaign.

            I took care of a few last minute “spends” yesterday, much like the junkie that needs one last hit before they leave for rehab, even got gas on my way home rather than on my way to work this morning.  I realize gas isn’t a “luxury” spend but somehow the first day will feel more successful if I don’t have to remove my check card from my wallet at all. :)
            In other news I actually packed my lunch today!  Only to get to work and remember that we have a chili cookoff at the office…oh well, the effort was made at least.

Daily Spending: I did have to send the check for our summer/fall CSA share today. But I hold no guilt as this is a grocery expense that will cover 23 weeks this summer!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wake up Call

I am not a big one for New Years Resolutions. I sort of camp in the thought that if something is worth doing its worth doing now, not just on January 1 st (as in, I have 33 more days of deviant behavior before I turn over my new leaf). That being said I have been thinking seriously for the last week or so about my eating habits and perhaps giving the 21 day sugar detox (which ended after three days last spring when my then full time nursing infant was spitting up constantly from the influx of dairy products) another go or even trying out the Whole30 to sort of reset my system. These thoughts were whirling in my head today as I stood in our little café downstairs trying to make a “good” “sensible” lunch choice. I settled on a delicious little gem they offer that is essentially homemade cranberry/walnut chicken salad on a bed of greens-letting myself not think too much about how bad it probably is with the mayo holding it all together- and blinked a little heavily when she rang me up. I spent the rest of my elevator ride back up to the office reflecting on how I just paid 9 dollars for a salad! 9 DOLLARS (well 8.36 but I handed her 9 so it’s close enough for me). What an idiot. I could spend 9 dollars at the store make the same salad and have enough left over for three more lunches! IDIOT! (Let me pause here to disclaim that this is in NO way a riff on my little café or their delicious salad. Rock on small business owner with overhead cost-I get it-your salad is fresh and delightful but I’ve got to check myself) Finances are always a timely topic. Even though the economy is on the mend, my paycheck is not. It has held steady (bless you Lord for a great job) for the last 3 years but the cost of goods has marched on. Everything from the gas for my car to the eggs in my fridge cost more today than a year ago and while the Hubs and I are aware of the changes we haven’t really had to make any of our own to compensate (first world problems, I know). But lately our talk has turned to baby number two, specifically whether or not we can afford it. I’ve made charts highlighting our monthly expenses, we’ve looked at the added cost a second bambino would bring and each time we seem to come back to the same answer; that we just couldn’t make it work financially…but could we? How many 9 dollar salads am I buying and not giving any thought too?Clearly I realize that skipping Starbucks and lunches out aren’t going to equate to enough added income to make room for baby but this little revelation did get me thinking that a detox might be just what the Dr. ordered. Conveniently tomorrow starts a new month…extra conveniently it happens to be the shortest one of the year…and in an effort to be a more thoughtful spender I am going to attempt a little project I’m going to call “Free February”. The goal is to nip any unnecessary or luxury spending. No coffees, no lunches, (unless someone else is buying…hey I’m no martyr) no uncalled for trips to Target…esh that last one hurt, and to see where I stand financially at month end. As alluded to in my blog title, failure is mostly guaranteed so I will chronicle my days and share my successes as well as afore mentioned failures with you all! Now if you will excuse me I have a little discretionary spending to take care of before midnight.