Oops again

I feel like I should explain myself.

For those of you who got an update from this blog (and it happened once before) about my weight and how it’s coming off, please disregard the whole thing. See, I have a weight loss blog (journal?) that is supposed to be for my eyes only, but somehow I keep accidentally posting to this one instead of that one. I’ll go ahead and blame it on the WordPress interface for not making it glaringly obvious which blog I am using at the time. And I’ll blame it on myself for not just keeping it as a document on my computer.

Anyhow, it’s a bit embarrassing because I have some sort of personal stuff (my exact weight, for instance) in there. So, please just disregard it all and forgive me for the confusion.

But, since it’s already out there (for the subscribers, anyway) I’ll go ahead and brag about having lost 25 pounds. Woo hoo!

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The Happiest Days

Today was great. You know what’s cool about that? It’s nothing new for me to have a great day, lately. I have been thinking about this a lot in the past few weeks . Let’s jump back a bit…

The year my daughter was born was probably the worst year of my life. I mean, I had a newborn, which is difficult for anyone. I did the standard no sleep/time/resources/social interaction bit, but with a hefty dose of postpartum depression on top. I sobbed nonstop and, though I’m certain any number of my friends would have been happy to help me, I still felt completely isolated, like I had no outlet for my feelings. Nobody tells you it’s okay not to enjoy that time, so I thought I was doing it all wrong. I had anticipated breastfeeding my baby, but my milk dried up within the first two weeks and I felt like I had failed my daughter. I had the guilt of feeding her formula (which, by the way, I finally got over) and the ridicule of nearly everyone that saw me make her a bottle when I was out in public. It was also that year my mom was in and out of the ICU, her life sputtering to an end. I spent my 10-year class reunion, my anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve in the hospital with her. I was away from my family for weeks at a time in order to pull overnight shifts by her side. I have some anxiety issues anyway which, with everything I’ve mentioned, gave me multiple panic attacks nearly every night. I had a lot on my plate. It was awful.

But this year, dear reader, has possibly been the best one yet. And I feel like it’s important for me to document this feeling of contentment. The only thing I could think of to improve my current situation is if my mom were here to share it with me. Allow me to elaborate.

Abby is three years old now. She’ll be 4 in September. She is a delight to me. She is so capable these days. She can ride her bike with us and communicate her feelings and wishes with me. She plays imaginative games and dress-up, and she tells me she loves me at random intervals throughout the day. She sings princess songs. She’s big and potty trained and can put her own shoes on. But she’s not so big that she is past cuddling up to watch My Little Pony and falling asleep occasionally on my lap. She has a lot of friends, which she made at preschool. She goes to preschool three days a week, and I only have class 2 of those days. This is the first time in about 4 years that I’ve had a full day to do with as I please.

JT has a job that lets him work from home. On Wednesday afternoons, when Abby is at preschool and I am not occupied, JT and I go on dates. We have not had time alone to remember each other as people since she was born, but now we have it once a week. We go to movies, or out to lunch, or just around the block on our bikes or our feet. We hold hands. We know why we love each other.

The other two days that I’m not on parenting duty, I go to school for graphic design. I dropped out of university when I was 20, having no direction or idea of what I wanted from life. I have worked hard to make up for that decision, and some days I honestly don’t feel like I ever could. Lately, doing design work had helped me forget I was ever so stupid. I love the actual work of designing things. I am head over heels for type, and have been given a bit of recognition around the design department for it. It feels good to be acknowledged for my skill, but it feels even better to be satisfied with my own output. I have disappointed myself over and over again, but finally I can take pride in my work. No amount of praise could equal that. I don’t feel like I have to apologize to my audience when I show a poster. It’s incredible. Additionally, I’ve made some friends in the department. One of the other enormous benefits I gain from attending class is getting out of the house and speaking with other adults about grown-up things on a regular basis.

And while I’m on the topic of friends, I feel like my social life has really gelled this year as well. My two best friends in the world live nearby, and we hang out frequently. I have known them since 5th grade and could not be happier to continue to know them. JT’s coworkers turned have proven to be excellent friends and neighbors rather than just people with whom to kill the working hours. And I certainly can’t forget my cousin, who is much more like a sister than anything. The longer I live around these people, the more sure I am that Colorado is the place for me. I cannot imagine geographical distance from this group. There has been some talk of my other cousin and his wife moving this way, and the prospect of that tickles me pink. They are two of the coolest people I can imagine. This list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. I love lunches and brunches with my uncles, breakfasts with my dad, and tons of other friends (old and new) that have not been named individually, in Colorado, Oklahoma, and all over the rest of the contry. Let’s not stop there, even. Thanks to Facebook, I have been back in contact with so many of my friends from ten, even twenty+ years ago who have moved all over the world and put down roots. I have never felt so much genuine support.

My 32nd birthday is at the end of this month and, for all my fear of aging, my 30s have been a real high point. Certainly from time to time I become aware that my anxious and depressed days are not so far behind me, but for the most part I am content. I feel healthier than I ever have, emotionally, and feel like it is important for me to not only embrace this change, but pat myself on the back  for having made it so far.

So tell me, friends, what has gone right for you this year? What is your reason to congratulate yourself?

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Grief: My experience and advice

Hey, you foxy foxes. I’ve had a few ideas in my head for this thing lately but, it seems, I never take the time to sit down and hammer them out. This one seems a little important, though. Not in the grand scheme of things or anything like that, but to me, in my own head, lately. Maybe it will prove important to you as well. Maybe not. But get yourself a hot chocolate or something before you start reading. This is a long one.

I’ve been thinking a lot about grief and grieving. I lost a cousin last weekend. We weren’t particularly close. In fact, I had met him maybe twice in my whole life. But his brother, my other cousin (let’s call him C) has to be one of my favorite people in the world. It just so happens that C was headed up to my house for a visit and got the news about his brother maybe five minutes before boarding the plane. So that’s probably why the subject is in my head.

I’ve had my share of grief. None of my grandparents are alive. I’ve said goodbye to extended family, close friends, distant friends, and numerous pets. But most importantly, I lost my mom a couple of years ago and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It hurt physically. I never thought I would recover from the trauma of losing her. I still miss her, actively, every day. People say things like that all the time, right? “I miss her every day.” But I’m serious. There is not a day where I don’t recall her somehow. Our lives were so intertwined that it is impossible for me to go more than a few hours without her memory interjecting itself. It used to kill me, but really, I love that about her. I love that we had the sort of relationship that would hurt so much to lose. It’s taken a few years to reach this point, but I get so much pure enjoyment out of things that remind me of our time together. I feel like a part of something when I can trace my mannerisms, my habits, back to her. Especially the ones she always traced back to her dad. I’ve come a long way, baby.

Here are some tips for anyone going through the loss of someone close. Each experience is different and these may be worthless to you. But they are things that have helped me, personally, get to this point. Continue reading

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Link Roundup!

Sorry for the absence. I’ve been busy or lazy or whatever. Honestly, you can blame it on this cake I tried to make and couldn’t quite pin down. I had a post all written for it, but then when I tried it, it was dried out and kind of awful. So I made it again and it was too damp. Having tried twice, I figured the only reasonable path would be to kind of just give up at everything.

Here are a few sites I’ve discovered since my last post (you know, to make up for all that).

Old people writing on a restaurant’s Facebook page
This one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a bunch of old people posting things on the Facebook pages of restaurants. If you don’t already think it’s funny, don’t bother clicking the link.

Busty Girl comics
Some of you, surely, are girls. And of those, some of you, surely, have big boobs. These comics probably depict your life. They certainly do mine.

Letters of Note
This blog is just a bunch of correspondence between famous people or about famous events, mostly. For instance, it recently featured a letter from a young Mick Jagger to his aunt, talking about having reunited with his childhood friend, Keith Richards, and how they have started a band. It is totally my favorite blog these days. Be sure and check out it’s sister blog, Lists of Note.

Letterheady
The same guy that does Letters and Lists of Note runs this page, but it’s a bit different, so I’ll give it a separate mention. This one has letterhead from famous people. It’s a great place to find inspiration for designs.

The Twitter feed of Tween Hobo
She’s a tween! She’s a hobo! She’s on Twitter!

Ta da! Now you won’t have to do your real work for a few more hours. You’re welcome. :)

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Snack of a Lifetime: Store Brand Extra Cherry Mixed Fruit in Natural Cherry Flavored Light Syrup

I’m not going to lie to you. Tonight I ate a frozen Stauffer’s lasagna and fed my daughter Chef Boyardee Mini Ravioli. Those are our favorite foods. I had intended to crack a tin of store brand extra cherry mixed fruit in light syrup to class things up. This is the sort of thing I do when my husband is out for the night and I have had the stomach flu for a week. Don’t judge.

Of course, all of these cans and frozen goods came straight from the store and needed to be brought to serving temperatures. So I popped the lasagna in the oven, fed my lovely her ravioli at room temperature (because that’s the way she likes it) and tossed the fruit cocktail in the freezer because nothing says tacky like warm tinned fruit.

Fast forward a few hours. My sweetheart went to bed and I got a craving for a late night snack. Not being able to find anything, I settled on a glass of water hoping maybe I was just thirsty. I opened the freezer for some ice only to discover that I had forgotten my fruit! It was frozen solid, but still sounded delicious, so I popped the lid anyway. 

I mentioned briefly that I have had the stomach flu for the past few days. I have lost about seven pounds from the combination of not eating and being actively, you know, sick. Today was the first day I felt like really eating anything. So I’ll admit that my judgement might be clouded by my body’s desire to replenish itself any way possible. But I swear to you, friends, frozen fruit cocktail straight from the can is a thing of beauty. Don’t let it pass you by.

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Food Friday: Feta Cherry Meatloaf with Dilled Sweet Peas

My friend Russell is the best gift giver I know. Every time I get something from him, it’s nothing I even knew about yet exactly what I’ve always wanted. For instance, this Christmas he got me this, which really delighted me as a fan of the series and a blossoming artist. Oh, and a poster of the Handsomest Man Alive. One year, however, I feel like I really got him something awesome, too. Not because I think he particularly enjoyed it, but because it has benefited me at least once every week since then. It was a cookbook, and it had the recipe for the best meatloaf I had ever tried. I tweaked it ever so slightly, and now it suits my tastes even more. Here’s my version. Continue reading

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Food Friday: Cilantro Apple Salsa

I was going to post about this much earlier, but lost my phone with all the pictures on it. The same week I washed my iPod with the rest of the laundry. It was a bad week for my electronics, but aren’t they all? Fortunately, I found it again, so now I can tell you all about this dish. It’s my new favorite salsa. That’s saying a lot, because my old favorite salsa is really spectacular. I’ll share it with you one of these days.

This one is super easy to make, not terribly expensive, and tastes fresh and crisp and complex. Also, since it’s not tomato-based, your guests will be dazzled at how creative a chef you are, and we all know that’s what appetizers are for. Continue reading

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Food Friday: Vietnamese Egg Rolls

My cousin’s mom is Vietnamese. I haven’t seen her in a billion and twenty years, but I remember some of the food she used to make and man, was it ever delicious. She made the best Brussels sprouts I’ve ever had, but the only ingredient I can remember (title vegetable aside) is fish sauce.

My mom and I used to constantly make this chicken she showed us, and it was the simplest thing in the world. You just cook some chicken somehow (no seasoning necessary), then cut it into chunks. Wrap each chunk in a baby spinach leaf, then dunk the whole thing in a mixture of soy sauce and lemon juice. It’s the simplest recipe I know, but the flavor was so intense. I’m drooling just thinking about it. Look at you guys, squeezing a bonus dish out of me!

The real reason I bring her up, however, is because of these egg rolls. She used to make the best egg rolls. They’re not like what you find in the local Chinese restaurant, all crammed with cabbage and whatnot. They don’t even look the same. These are mostly whitish, unless you get the special burny ones. Mmmmm. My mom asked her for a copy of the recipe a long time ago, but what she received was a list of ingredients that only vaguely resembled what actually went into them. In fact, nobody got an accurate recipe from her, ever. Fortunately, someone wrote down what she did as she did it one time, and because of that person’s bravery and my friend Sara’s willingness to actually go through all the ass pain of making 90+ egg rolls, my cousin and I get to enjoy them once or twice a year. Delightful!

Sara was gracious enough to write up the whole procedure for me to share with you. This is almost certainly because she knows that none of the rest of our friends will go to all the trouble to make these and steal her thunder if she’s willing to do it twice a year herself.  Her very own recipe and method is after the jump. Thanks, Sara! Continue reading

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Whatever Wednesday: Ghetto Hikes

If you don’t know us, you might not have any idea that Katie and I grew up in the hood. Oh, but we did. We went to a very “So-and-so got shot trying to steal a car radio so the student counsel is collecting money to help with his medical expenses*” kind of school.

Because of that, I can’t help but think fondly of my formative years when I read these quotes by urban youths on nature hikes. Even if you can’t sympathize, I think you’ll find them pretty entertaining.  But watch out, the text is huge and there are lots of swears. I wouldn’t read it around your coworkers, unless you work at some really hip upstart where people swear a lot.

*Yeah, that actually happened.

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Food Friday – Sunday evening edition: Cilantro lemon tuna salad

I just made the best tuna salad of my life and ate it all without taking a single picture. I didn’t make it to be all fancy and blog about ot. I made it because I hadn’t eaten in eight hours and needed something in my tummy immediately and hadn’t been to the store in a while, but had some decent odds and ends to throw together. I’ll tell you guys, it was incredible. This is kind of how it went. Continue reading

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