Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Miracle Water

A miracle has happened. I took a scalding hot shower last night. While this may not seem miraculous to most of you, it is an unexplainable event in our household.

We've had hot water issues in our house for a while. Our showers have been steadily cooling down for the last handful of months. The change has been a fraction of a degree at a time, noticeable only after months, when the temp slipped below that imprecise threshold that qualifies as "hot shower". We've had a few plumbers come out. The lady plumber came up with a pretty complex differential diagnosis that included cracked flow tube in the water heater and sclerotic outflow piping. The guy plumber just wanted to replace our hot water heater to the tune of $2800.

I had just called the lady plumber to come back and do an hour of disassembly and exploration when I burned myself at the sink. Yes, I burned myself with sink water. We had turned up the heater temp to the max just to get tepid water. And now we were finally feeling the heat. And yelping and dropping knives, in my case.

It's a miracle. We don't know why or how it happened. We're not sure how long it will last. We do know that we've dodged a bullet with not having to replace the heater. We'll still have the lady plumber come out. We know that the crossed pipes in our condo building contributed to the problem, and we'd like to get that straightened out. And if our pipes are sclerotic and our miracle is the result of a loosened embolus that cleared the main flow, the pipe disease still remains. But $150 an hour for diagnostics is still better than the new water heater.

Miracles do happen. And I have the burned finger to prove it. Thank you Lord!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stewardship Sunday

I'm sitting down. It feels good. I worked yesterday, so I've felt behind the eight ball all day. I probably will all week. But I'll try to remember to be thankful for everything. The fact that I have as many work hours as I want. The fact that I have a wonderful husband watching my two wonderful girls. The yummy fresh tomatoes pouring out of our garden right now. The salsa fresca that my wonderful husband made from those tomatoes. 

We did fun stuff this week. We ate dinners outside. We made yummy smoothies with spinach hidden inside. We did Mama/daughter mani/pedis. Well, I attempted to paint all of our nails. That's not quite the same, but we all feel fancy. We got an amazing box of clothes from a friend in Texas. It was Christmas in August. 

I'm still coffee-free. My head is still a bit fuzzy. I feel totally behind with everything I need to do right now. I'm trying to breathe steadily while I think about it all. Maybe I should just report in and go to bed. Ok. Let's do that.

Food waste:  We had to throw out a forgotten cucumber that got separated from the herd and shriveled. We have a crazy amount of tomatoes to use ASAP. Salsa fresca anyone?

Money:  Holy cow we just bought new camping gear. A big tent with all the accessories, as we've completely outgrown our old one. It's still cheaper than a normal vacation, but HOLY COW! And I got this upcoming year's snow pants on super sale. I've resigned myself to winters in the snow pretending that I love it. Did I mention HOLY COW?!? REI, you are a gift and a curse...

Patience: I was doing fine until I experimented with eating a handful of chocolate covered espresso beans on Friday afternoon. The Patience Angel abandoned me. I think she's currently engaged in hand-to-hand combat with a batch of my hormones, so I'll give her a pass for a few more days. But I really hope she comes back. 

Time:  So much to do, so little time. I cancelled the fun on Wednesday due to bad behavior, and feel like much of that day was a waste. I had the grumpies and couldn't recover from it. I'll have to try harder this week...

M&Ms: Not a problem. The ice cream in the freezer was a problem. Until I ate it. Now we're safe again. For now. 

Hope you have a great week!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Confessions of a Bad Mama

One of the great things about the Lutheran church is that, while you CAN do private confession of your sins to your pastor or elder, it's not expected. You're free to confess privately to God to receive forgiveness. But why confess privately or semi-privately when you can confess your transgressions to the WHOLE ENTIRE INTERNET FOR ETERNITY?! So here I go...

I'm a Bad Mama. 

1. I publicly shamed my dogs. I was incredibly amused by Dogshaming on Tumblr, and took my own dogshaming photo. I couldn't get it to post to the site, because I'm Tumblr illiterate. So I posted it to Facebook. For those of you who think your dogs are special because they do gross stuff, they're not. Our dogs do gross stuff, too. Unspeakably gross. Well, we'll let them speak of it:

That's just hair-curlingly gross. Ugh. 

2. I let my 2 year old tantrum in the grocery store yesterday. Well, I didn't let her. She just did it anyway. I just needed to pick up 2 items for dinner. She said she really wanted to go with me, and we left her sister at home. And I wasn't going home empty-handed just because she had parked herself under a table near the checkout aisle and was wailing her head off because I didn't get her cookies. I paid for those 2 items. I worked hard to get them through the angry screaming and kicking about not getting the last "car-cart" as I carried her through the aisles. I wasn't leaving without them. The stares of other people in line informed me that I was a Bad Mama for doing so. 

3. I upset the firemen today. We joined the girls' preschool this morning for a field trip to the local fire house. We were allowed to get in the fire engines, and they turned on the lights. We took pictures. I sat my 2 year old on the front bumper of a fire engine so that they could take a class picture. She started crying and screaming. I asked her what the problem was and asked her to use her words. She just screamed more. I eventually took her down to avoid ruining the class picture. She screamed more. I decided that her trip to the fire house was over. I left HeyMama with her classmates and put MeToo in the car. I turned it on to get the AC blowing, and went back to the front of the firehouse to talk to the preschool teachers about what was happening. No sooner did I exit the parking lot and reach the teachers than a fireman came running up and yelled, "There's a car running with a child alone inside!" I explained that it was my child in timeout, and I had just placed her there less than a minute before. And the AC was running to keep her cool. "But that's a violation! Someone could drive away with her in the car!" The parking lot was up against the side of the fire house. I could see if anyone tried to drive my car away. I did not honestly think that it was a reasonable risk. But apparently I was "in violation". Of something. I'm a Bad Mama. So I made HeyMama leave the field trip early, and we cancelled our trip to the sprinkler park. I'm definitely a Bad Mama.

Ok, so I'm not really feeling so bad for any of those things. Those are things that other people tell me I"m doing wrong.

What I really confessed tonight was my lack of sense of humor. My inability to cherish what should have been cherished today. Losing my sense of fun. Losing the desire to demonstrate grace, joy, and thanksgiving throughout my day. Distancing myself from my children because I was annoyed and desperately trying to preserve every shred of patience I had throughout the day. Feeling that they were an imposition to my plans. My actions were actually all correct. I set boundaries. I warned of consequences. I enforced the consequences. I provided second chances. I worked to change the day for the better. We had fun. We went to the Square to run an errand and went out for ice cream later in the day. But my attitude wasn't right. And that's what really made me a Bad Mama today. 

I gave thanks for the Patience Angel that sat on my shoulder today. I didn't lose my cool, not even once. But I prayed desperately for a new day tomorrow and the days after - days where I find joy in my children, even in their more challenging moments. I prayed that I could see my children as God sees them:  gifts. Gifts that need care, love, and discipline. Gifts that deserve patience, grace, and joy. 

I know I'm not alone in my struggle. But today I FELT the struggle more than I usually do. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. Is feeling it a sign that I'm more aware of how my children need me - an improvement on my baseline? Or is feeling it a sign that I was doing a worse job than usual? 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Shame On You, Paul Ryan!

Shame on you, Paul Ryan. You want to curb government expenditures, which will inevitably include social services to the most needy. To make up for it, private donors (including soft-hearted people like me) will have to give more to private charities to pick up the slack. So certainly you must support private philanthropy and give away sizable amounts of your own income, right? You profess Christian values, so certainly you at least tithe, right? Oh. No? You only donated 4% of your income to charity? After making $323,416 in 2011?

At least Romney gives more. But he's a Mormon, and rumor has it that the Mormon church checks your tax returns to make sure you're not shortchanging the church. Well, let's give him some credit, 16.4% is more than the 10% tithe that churches recommend. But when your income is in the millions, perhaps you can afford a few percentages higher than us lowly non-millionaires.

President Obama gave an impressive 14% of his income to charity in 2010. Way to go! But if you look at his giving before his tax returns became public for campaign purposes, his rate was between .4% and 4.6% across the years of 2002 to 2005. Hmmm, he wants bigger government to give more money to more people, but didn't believe in giving much of his own away until he know people were watching.

And how did you do, Joe Biden? Well, 1.6% in 2011 is better than nothing. Um, but you're in the public spotlight. And you still give less than the others.


You all make way more money than the rest of us do, but you don't seem so generous with it. All of you propose policies that will take money from someone - either you're taking money from the middle class to fund social services, or you're taking money from the social services to give more to the middle class. So everyone feels like they're in danger of having to fork over their money to you. And you don't even do a good job of sharing your own?

Didn't you figure it out a few years back that you had the desire to be in public office? Surely you guessed that people would expect to see your income tax reports? And that they'd notice how tight-fisted you are?

Shame on you. And why should I trust any of you to spend my money wisely and compassionately if you don't do the same with your own?

PS. I'm ruminating on the matter as I pack lunches, and the phrase "brood of vipers" keeps coming to mind...
If you are reading this and considering running for office, know of someone running for office, or just feeling like you need to start more charitable giving, consider giving to Ruth House. They take in homeless teenage girls, make them get an education and job training, and send them out into the world able to support their young families. Certainly this is a cause that gets bipartisan approval? Go out and give.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Stewardship Sunday. It's Sunday again?

It's Sunday again. Didn't we just have one of those the other day?

I'm still coffee-free. I don't really miss it anymore. I do miss the caffeine highs. But not the crashes. I feel more even-keeled. That's a good thing when you have 2 and 3 year olds in the house. 

I'm tired. Not drinking coffee has gotten me to bed earlier. But is has made me less productive. I guess this is the trade-off of being healthier?

So let's get down to business and report on the week. My bed is calling my name.

Food waste:  We threw out some overly-old fish. It was too bad even for BestestHusband. Rarely does he turn down some too-old leftovers. But this week he did. We were better than last week in the food waste department. I used up over half of my green onions today in a scallion pancake recipe. I'm optimistic about the rest. But we went fruit-picking yesterday, and brought home 5 lbs of blueberries, 1 quart of raspberries, and a peck of peaches.They are all amazing. But ripe, so I need to eat or preserve them NOW. I've had worse problems to deal with...

Money: I did hit another end-of-season sale for work clothes online. I think $55 for a work dress and linen summer blouse is a pretty good deal. The box hasn't arrived yet, but hey, if they don't fit, the store is next to the grocery store for easy returns.

Patience:  The Patience Angel came to our house this week. I'm praying she moved in. I really do feel calmer and more patient, and didn't find myself yelling this week. This is an amazing thing. Answer to my prayers? Result of no coffee? Maybe a bit of both? I'm just praising the Lord that this change has come about and hoping it's a permanent one.

Time:  We had a fun week with some fun adventures. We did errand running at the beginning of the week, but Friday, the girls and I hit the town. We took the bus and train into the city, and were on the move for 8 hours. We did an errand at the new Charlie Card store. It was pretty painful. But then we ate an alfresco lunch, listening to a pianist near the fountain at Park Street. We walked to the Frog Pond and went swimming/wading. We cleaned up and went to Cambridge to visit BestestHusband at work. We picked up baked treats along the way. We hung out at BH's office for a bit, then went to meet the girls' best friend, Bea, at the library. Well, the library closed before we got there. But we hung out a bit outside, then went to the farmer's market there. I totally miscalculated time, but the girls didn't care. We got home too late and the girls loved every minute of it. Saturday, we took the girls fruit-picking. Tougas Farm was fantastic for little kids. They had goats to pet, a huge playground, and lots of berries and peaches to pick. They also had apples, but we decided to wait until my parents get here to do that. The housework is not done. I have a ton of stuff to do to start up my practice. There is just so much I need to do. But it's summer still. We need to drink it in while we can. While my planning wasn't perfect, I don't think we misused our time at all.

M&Ms: I finished off those frozen chocolate banana slices all by myself. Sorry BH... But no M&Ms. Now, the peach frozen yogurt I made earlier this evening, that's a different story. Homemade yogurt, hand-picked super ripe peaches, homemade frogurt from the two of them. How can you resist?

So I'm thankful again to be blessed with yet another wonderful week. I look at pictures on Facebook of friends around the world doing exciting and exotic things. And wouldn't trade it for a moment of what we've got now.

Hope your next week is a great one! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


So, my posts have been sparse, sorry for that. Busy summer, or something like that...
But I wanted to share a few updates with you while both girls are (miraculously) napping.
Remember that decision to cut out caffeine? Well, this is Day #7. And I'm still going strong. I'm still not up to typical levels of productivity, but I'm doing it all without coffee. And with significantly less sugar. 

My 4pm pot of hot lemon water.

And remember that fantastic anniversary gift I got? Well, it's getting its second use right now caramelizing half-a-dozen onions. Because LeCruset pots and Vidalia onions are just made for one another. Even if it is summer and I try not to turn on the oven or stove...

That's  a lot of onions...

Hope you're having a great day!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Steardship. No, stewship. NO, STEWARDSHIP Sunday!

I'm struggling without my coffee. I couldn't spell "lemon" at church today. Despite my insistence, lemon and melon do contain the same letters. I'm foggy-headed. Not thinking clearly. I'm ready for bed. I have been all day. I'm attempting to decaf my way through a full-caf life.

I know lots of people do it. I suspect I'll be doing much better this time next week. And I have been surviving. I went to work. On a 6:55am bus. I took neighbors to the airport. At 5:10am. By most metrics, I'm doing fine. But I certainly don't feel fine. And full disclosure: I'm drinking green tea to stave off the headaches. So I'm still slightly caffeinated. And it's still hard.

So I'm going to try to do this and get myself to bed. Because another coffee-less morning will dawn bright and early tomorrow.

Food waste: I just tossed a bunch of homegrown lettuce. This week, I tossed a bunch of jicama. Jicama just doesn't keep after it's cut, and my family is not as enthusiastic about eating it as I am. Now this week I need to find a way to use up a few pounds of green onions. Onions, anyone?

Money: I needed new shirts for work. I braved the mall crowds for tax-free weekend. I averaged $15/shirt. Not bad...

Patience: I did not make it to the gym. My patience suffered accordingly. This week will be better. The gym is our first agenda item for tomorrow.

Time: this week was jam-packed. Trip to the lake. Playdate. Trip to Ruth House and Ikea. Work. Evening meeting with my first SLP supervisor to get advice on launching my private practice. The time was well-spent.

M&Ms: None. But Anne brought me some frozen chocolate-covered banana slices. From Trader Joe's. Deadly. My family hasn't discovered them in the freezer yet. But it's just a matter of time.

Ok, I forgot that I need to pit a few pounds of cherries before bedtime. Then bedtime. Oh coffee, how I miss thee...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cold Turkey

"It's time to give up coffee." 

That's what the small voice inside me said earlier today. 

There's a funny little voice in me that speaks up now and then, and tells me to do things:
"It would be good to go far away for college."
"You should try rowing."
"This boy is not the right one for you."
"Turn down that job offer with the high salary. Do something that excites you."
"You should run that marathon."
"It's time to go back to Texas and go to grad school."
"This boy is the right one. Don't let go of him."
"Suck it up and keep going, even if you hate grad school."
"Marry him."
"You're ready to be a mom now."
"It's time to give up coffee."

What do they all have in common? They were hard things to do.

The voice doesn't speak up that often. But when it does, I've learned to listen. Because when it speaks, I have the ability to do what it says. Even when I don't think I do. Even when I've tried doing them before and failed. 

I've wanted to kick my coffee addiction for a long time. It's a crutch. A delicious crutch for a night owl that has to go to work early in the morning. My coffee contains a lot of sugar and milk. Milk is good for me. Sugar is not. I'm trying to work up the willpower to cut sugar out of my diet. Cutting out coffee is a good first step for that. Also, coffee stains my teeth. Coffee gives me stale coffee breath. Coffee dictates my morning. Coffee has too much power over me. I don't need a beverage to do that to me anymore.

So tonight, I listened to the voice. I cleaned out the coffee pot, brewing up some nice hot vinegar. The pot is drying out. I'll put it in the basement tomorrow. 

Wish me luck...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Eat the chicken. Don't eat the chicken. Stand in line for the chicken. Deplore the length of the line.

It's interesting to see the heated Facebook posts volleying about over Chick-Fil-A. You can stand up to support someone's right to answer a question about their opinion on a matter without having their business blocked from entering cities. You can stand up for someone's right to marry the person they love, regardless of the religious views of others.

But either way, you can stand up for someone else's rights. 

And lots of people did. The blogosphere has been full of accusations. "They're spreading hate." "They're censuring free speech." One mom moaned, "How am I supposed to explain this to my children?" It's simple. People disagree on an important matter. You will always find disagreement on important matters. But this time, they're showing up to support strangers that they think are being wronged. They see unfairness, and they're standing up to it. Yes, both sides think they're right, and you disagree with one of them. But teaching our kids to stand up to unfairness is something we can all agree on, right?

Teach them to eat the chicken. Teach them not to eat the chicken. Don't teach them to be chicken.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Stewardship Sunday

I'm posting about Sunday ON Sunday this week. It's about the only thing that's not glaringly overdue in my house right now... It's bad when your 3 year old points out that the trash cans are overflowing, the floors are too dirty to walk barefoot, and you really need to do laundry. Thanks kid, thanks for that. I was hoping I was the only one in the house that had noticed. Nope.

Busy week. I think I always say that. But it's always true. This was a week of catchup from vacation. But I didn't really catch up... 

I did have my new business cards arrive in the mail. I did put together my very own skeleton website for my private practice. I did have my first culinary use of lavender this week in celebrating BestestHusband's birthday (lemon-lavender cake with lavender cream). We went to BestestHusband's company's summer picnic on Friday. And a Red Sox game Friday night. That's all exciting. And the girls and I did spend a very lovely morning at the beach this week. I realized that I need to prioritize fun activities at least one day/week to actually make them happen this summer. Right now, that day's Wednesday. We're hoping to make it to the lake this upcoming week. Keep your fingers crossed for the weather...

I don't want to jinx it, but we discovered a very interesting this about motivation, MeToo, and potty training. [WARNING:  parent about to talk about her child's pooping habits] MeToo does great with using the potty if we let her run around the house naked. That's another story for another day. But we had some poop issues. She'd either go in her diaper or on the floor. We tried bribing her with peanut M&Ms. They worked for HeyMama. MeToo said she wanted them. But they weren't enough to get her to poop on the potty. This week we tried gummy bears. Delicious imported German gummy bears. They're magic. She's all about pooping on the potty now that there are gummies involved. So I was starting to get cranky about her going in the plastic potty that sits on the floor, because the cleanup is so annoying, and she can pee just fine on the big potty. So I offered her TWO gummies to poop on the big potty instead. And she got up, went to the big potty, and pooped, basically on command. (!!!!!) Talk about motivation! The funny thing is, the two gummies she got were bigger than the poop she was able to get out. But she was determined to produce something. And she did get her gummies. Keep your fingers crossed that this keeps working. But we're going to run out of gummies soon. Keep your fingers crossed that my 2 year old hasn't become a gummy bear snob that needs imported German gummies... 

Food waste: I threw out about 4 cups of jicama salad. It was twice leftover and had travelled to church and back on a hot day. I have some fridge cleaning to do, so I think this will get worse soon...

Money: I shopped well, but still bought some expensive ingredients. Finding wild Alaskan sockeye salmon half-off is a great deal. But it's still the most expensive meat I'll buy. I bought for the church coffee hour, too. So my grocery bill was scary, but explainable.

Patience: We're not on vacation anymore. Back to reality. Gym time was scarce. Patience was adequate, considering this. 

M&Ms: I was too busy eating chocolate zucchini cake to think about M&Ms. 

Time: We crammed a lot into a week. Except housework. I did not find much time for that. But any week that involves as much family time as this week did is a week where we allocated our time well. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Happy Birthday to You

I think the girls were way more excited about BestestHusband's birthday than he was.

When I asked him what he wanted to do today, he said "Mow the grass." He was serious. He changed his mind when he saw the thermometer. We talked about a trip to the lake to go swimming. That was the plan. But by the time the errands were run and the girls woke from a marathon nap, HeyMama didn't want to leave the house. So we spent the day cooking.

BestestHusband fire-roasted jalapeƱos from the garden to make hotsauce. It's still simmering right now. We made a Mexican feast. Pounded pork in sour orange marinade. Jicama salad with ancho chili powder. Rick Bayless' cookbook came alive in our kitchen. Over the course of hours, in a never ending parade of dirty dishes...

The girls were most excited about the cake. BestestHusband requested lemon cake with lavender frosting. I made lavender cream to go with it. Heavenly.

Birthdays change when you're older. We're still playing catchup from vacation. The garden bounty needs managing. The ToDo list doesn't get shorter just because it's your birthday.

The girls are in bed. The birthday scotch was tasted. The dishes still taunt, but the Olympics are on. The day has passed unremarkably, like most do. But it's worth pausing to note that 30+ years ago today, a very special person was born. And I'm the lucky gal who got to marry him.

Happy birthday to you, my love, happy birthday.

The result of hours of chopping, searing, marinating, etc.
Lemon cake with glaze. Yum.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bag Lady

I'm a bag lady. 

I have an unnatural love of re-useable shopping bags.  I credit my family for enabling my addiction, procuring bags for me from around the globe, including San Angelo, Heidelberg, and Amsterdam.

Here's an overview of my collection, although several bags are missing from this picture.

I have the Texas state flag bag.

I have flower bags.

I have Disney bags for the girls.

I have one insulated bag, too.

I suppose there are worse things to collect. These don't have to be dusted, and they take up very little room in the house. I like collecting functional things. That way I can always justify getting more...