Monday, May 31, 2010

While I've got your ear:

I love America. I do. The good, the bad, and the ridiculous. Hot dogs, apple pie, baseball, Paris Hilton, free speech, all of it. I'm a geek for Gettysburg. I get choked up watching President Bartlet speak because it makes me imagine the America that we could be. I was so excited to vote my first time--and still I take that responsibility very seriously. I can't imagine living anywhere else. I'm so thankful for all the freedoms we have. I'm so grateful to all of the men and women who serve our country because they feel the call of something greater than themselves.

But there's one thing I'd like to talk to you about:

America, we need a new song.

Remember the three or so days just after September 11, when we all gathered around our televisions in shock and collective uncertainty? Remember that patriotic feeling we felt as we knew the world was different, and we were joined together in something unexplainable?

Remember that GOD AWFUL SONG they kept playing?

And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.


Sure, those lyrics are great. But go ahead and lock that on repeat on your iPod for a few decades and tell me how much you like it then. That's what it seems like--the media is so stuck on this song.

Lee Greenwood? This is OUR GUY, America? This is the best we could do?

The thing is I don't even mind country music. Some of the best songs about being patriotic and appreciative have come from that camp. But I just can't take this song anymore, America. I can't do it. The saccharine whine of Greenwood's voice is enough to make me want to run around my house screaming and doing the crazy laugh. I can picture him grasping the air in front of himself and closing his eyes in feigned emotion because he's so overcome as he sings those words. It seems to undermine the very thing it strives to celebrate by virtue of being so ridiculous, and so (as my students would say) "played out". So let's get some of the bright new minds in country music on it. Or anyone, really. I'm just ready to break up with Lee Greenwood, America. He's like Heidi's shorts. His time has passed. Not only does he look like Rex's (of Rex Kwan Do) long lost cousin, his song is just not that good. Be honest, America. You don't like it either. You were just waiting for me to say it first.

I just hate that anytime something happens to us or we join together to celebrate the things about our nation that are great--like the people who gave their lives in service to this country--that we don't have more to offer than this little ditty. I feel like we need to celebrate our vets and our national pride something a little more sincere and stirring--something a little less, um, 1984. We could go classic. We've got marches. We've got beating drums and trumpets... trumpeting? John Phillips Sousa did okay. So did Francis Scott Key when he penned his little gem. We've got hymns and anthems galore--let's balance that by stepping it up a bit in the modern patriotic music category, mmm?

My vote is for something at the midpoint between America, F*ck Yeah and the theme song from The West Wing. But maybe that's why they don't put me in charge of such decisions.

Happy Memorial Day.



Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sangria de Tonja

Thanks to those of you who sent sangria recipes. I can't wait to give them all a shot. Today I tried Tonja's and I have to say...

it passed with flying colors.

Now, this wasn't a real sangria crowd, but that didn't stop me from enjoying my own creation. Nope. Not one bit.

So here's the recipe. I don't have any pics of it because I'm lame and I only took about 10 pictures total today. Too busy running around like a crazy, trying to make sure everything worked out.

It did.

Cute, but not a sangria fan.
But the sangria. Mmm, the sangria.

Sangria de Tonja

1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brandy
3/4 cup triple sec
1 sliced orange
1 sliced lemon
4-5 sliced strawberries
1 bottle red wine (I used a bottle of Cab)
1/2 bottle simply orange juice
splash of lemon-lime soda

1. Mix sugar, brandy, triple sec. Slice fruit and add to pitcher. Allow to sit several hours.
2. Add bottle of wine, orange juice.
3. (And this was different than her original recipe--wanted to try to let all the flavors blend as much as possible) allow to sit overnight.
4. Serve over ice with a splash of lemon-lime soda and an orange slice as a garnish.
Cheers!

Next up? Nicole's white kiwi sangria.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Why I Liked LOST and Why I Liked the Ending (by nobody that matters at all)

As Jack set his hand on that coffin, I drew in my breath. I was sure he was going to open it and find himself in there. I was so afraid that Christian was going to reveal that this whole thing had been imagined by the death-freed spirit of a Jack who died in the original plane crash. But when Jack turned to his father who said that everything had been real, that everything the characters experienced actually happened, I breathed a sigh of relief. I'm not exactly sure I get all of it yet, but I feel like my time was beautifully scored, and well-spent.

I loved the ending. I know there are a lot of haters out there but I found it to be completely in line with what the series has been about since day one--characters and mysteries. I also loved the moments between characters as they were awoken to the most significant times in their lives--their on-island moments. Confession: I was surprised to find out that the ALT timeline was some sort of purgatory, a waiting room to the great dentist office in the sky... but the more I thought about it the more I liked the weight it gave to the archetypal journeys in the on-island storyline, which had always been the strongest. It made me look back on this season and appreciate how the stories ran in tandem--while admittedly as it unfolded, I was getting a little frustrated with the ALT timeline. The ending gave me a new appreciation, and it got me (just as the Sixth Sense managed to do way back when. I am not, as one of my coworkers says, a master of the obvious.)

But no matter. I really liked the ending. I really like the series. It made me cry but it made me think and it didn't leave me feeling like my interest in this series had been a joke. Damon Lindelof tweeted this on May 11th, and I think it connects most decidedly affected my final feelings about Lost. Did I want answers? Sure. There were plenty of things like the numbers, or the polar bear, or the whispers or the Dharma Initiative that I followed obsessively as I watched early seasons, hoping for answers. I got many of them. (Side note: I was even pissed as hell back when we watched Alias, a show that seemed to set up mysteries and then never answered any of them.) But the closer we got to the end of Lost, it became clear to me that providing answers to every single mystery was going to change the nature of the show. I think this is where Lost fans divide, as people do in general. Lindelof's tweet alluded to Keats' theory of "Negative Capability," which as I understand it (admittedly, from nothing more at this point than his Wikipedia reference) explores how much a person is content to remain inside the unfinished thought--the unanswered scenario. I don't think Keats was meaning that these people are content not to understand, but they are more comfortable in the space where answers are not directly provided, where several plausible explanations exist. That is my comfort zone--the realm of possibility, where I can grab the pieces and choose an interpretation, then I can debate that interpretation with anyone else who is willing to play the same game. That kind of crap lights me up like a Christmas tree.

I've said it a million times--that's why I teach English, not math. Where mathematical analysis requires the correct answer, interpretation of such things as poetry varies as widely as the people who bring their own experiences, biases, and connotations to the words. I always have students who want to know exactly what a poem was about--what did Emily Dickinson mean? She's dead; we can't ask her, so we shouldn't bother trying to find out, they say. NOT TRUE! Try! Find the meaning for yourself! For me, LOST was like an epic poem. But they didn't tell me what it means, you say. I just wasted my life. False, I'd postulate. They made you think about what it could be about, which is way more interesting than just telling you. In an age where we can Google anything and find the answer, it's much more stimulating--and laudable, and unique--to leave something to the imagination. Sure there are online databases of every word uttered in Lost, but they don't provide any more answers than the show. That last piece has to be worked out in your own mind. You are the final piece to the puzzle.

I know, I'll stop dorking out like an English teacher. Well, not yet. But the more I think about the final episode and what it means to my interpretation of everything that came before it, the more I'm inspired to think about the entire show (and, life?) on another level. "The End" was a beautiful last sentence in what was (as all literature is) a complex but flawed narrative. I've never read a perfect book, one that didn't take an unnecessary tangent from time to time or lead off in a direction I wished it hadn't; but I judge books by the sum of the total experience they bring. By that standard, Lost was amazing.

Want to read up on the last episode by some people who actually know what they're talking about? Check out this or this. Or listen to this.

Peace out, nerds.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Did you hear that?

It was me, exhaling, after about three weeks of holding my breath. My house is now clean--company clean, not "us" clean--and I can finally breathe easy.

Whew.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Some things I've been thinking about...

1. When I die, please--no matter how awesome you think I am--for the love of God, don't immortalize me in white stick-on letters on the back of your pickup. I'm sorry, but R.I.P. anybody on the back of your sweet sweet Ford just makes you and the person you're memorializing look like tools. And the same goes for awkward calf tattoos of faces with dates under them. The portraits always kind of remind me of black-toothed zombies. Both (trucks, legs) seem to be a memorial trend lately, and I would like to pass on both right now.

2. Here's to you, Subway employees, for not having any napkins inside your store where customers can get to them. And here's to you AGAIN for handing me two sad little paper towels when I spilled my giant iced tea all over the tile. Ka-booosh... *golf clap*

3. In the category of "this is why we can't have nice things," I fumbled my (gifted) Coach wallet right into the path of the oncoming stream of the aforementioned iced tea. So if anybody knows how to get iced tea out of an expensive white cloth wallet, I'd like to know. See? This is why I can't have nice things. April gave it to me as a castoff and I'm eternally grateful, but I have to admit that carrying it around just makes me kind of nervous. Now you see why.

4. I have to remember what it means to be Heather again, and not Mrs. P. Mrs. P has to watch what she says all the time and then feel guilty about it later. Mrs. P has to wear pants and shoes and can't wear spaghetti straps. Mrs. P has to worry about where she'll be standing the next time she hears "Mrs. P? Is that you????????" and whether she'll have two Pacificos in her hands or all her junk covered up at that time. Mrs. P has to be nice to people and their moms in the grocery store. Mrs. P can't go to Costco and fill a cart with tequila, underpants and condoms. Well, she could, but she'd feel real embarrassed about it. So I'm looking forward to a little bit of peace that comes from shedding the schoolteachers' cloak of whatever it is schoolteachers wear... summer means at least a bit of authenticity.

5. I'm in love with Kenny Rogers and I don't care who knows it.

6. Glee is getting kind of boring. I find myself fast forwarding to the songs and even skipping most of those if they don't have dancing in them. There's no Pillsbury-Shue tension anymore. Boo.

7. I'm just going to say it. I like bandana-ed, eyeliner-wearing has been rockers as much as the next guy, but I feel like Bret Michaels won Celebrity Apprentice FOR NOT DYING. I know that's wrong of me to admit, but it smacks of the sympathy vote. I know that you're wondering why I've taken a serious interest in the fairness of the inherently ridiculous and unfair Donald Trump reality contest, but that's not the point. It's like when they gave Heath Ledger the posthumous Oscar for being the Joker. IT WASN'T THAT GREAT YOU GUYS. I mean, give homeboy an award if he deserves it--for something like Brokeback Mountain, sure. But don't just give him an award because he ran around and acted crazy in some makeup and then got dead and you feel bad about it.

8. Two dreams I've had in the last two nights: 1) I kept finding money in pockets and old purses. (Must be good, right?) and 2) I am trying to buy makeup for a good friend and I keep buying the wrong thing. (Who even dreams about such a ridiculous thing as that?)  I'm not sure what, if anything, this forecasts for the week ahead.

9. Lost was awesome. I think I need to post about it.

10. I want to learn how to make some good Sangria.




Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Advice for grads

Too tired to write anything of my own tonight, but in honor of graduation today, I thought I'd link to this post on Katie's blog, High School is not real life. I've heard it before, but it bears repeating.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Not much of a title, actually.


I'm definitely having some writers' block, for one reason or another. Or seventeen.  I don't get it.  Typically when I go through anything I have a puhzillion things to say about it and I want to spend time sorting through my thoughts so I can deal with them.  Lately all I seem to want to do by the time I get home is go in my bed.  Sometimes I guess you could say I go on my bed to watch TV, but that's not so different.  I've been living on an island in the middle of my kelly green room and rockin' the cozy pants like nobody's business.  I just haven't been able to bust my own chops enough to get things done.  This included.

It feels like I've been on a treadmill for two weeks.  I spent all day Saturday cleaning and I couldn't even finish.  I had a bunch of tasks for the retirement party I was helping to plan on Sunday, and then a bunch more for today's luncheon at school.  Everything went off without a hitch, but the combo of two days of parties, a little over three hours' sleep last night and grand emotional letdown this afternoon left me feeling like I got hit by a Mac truck.  I feel hung over and I'm not.  I'm just emotional toast.

I also have a little touch of self-consciousness nagging at me when it comes to my writing.  I've been able to avoid that most of the time for the last year, but it's been eating at me and making me want to eschew blogging in favor of safer activities.  Who knows why I'm letting it get me, but it will pass, I'm sure.

I need the end of this month to come, because we frankly need another paycheck.  I need groceries, but I'm trying not to push it.  I need school to be over and for everybody to just go home and think about how they've been acting.  I need some time to process how much change I'm going to be facing when I come back next  year.  I need it to be SUNNY IN CALIFORNIA more than 2 days in a row, for the love of Pete.

Hurley's good, the kids are good, E is more than good as he starts to let it hit him that he's done with the Bar exam for the rest of his life.  I think it's going to take me a good two weeks of summer vacay to wind down and become a normal person again.  I'm looking forward to getting to that place, though.



Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mmm, healthy.


Me: Guys, what salad dressing do you want on your salad?

Ad: Ranch. I want ranch.

Me: Bud?

Henry: No dressing mom, just lettuce.

Me: Are you sure? No dressing at all? You know you have to eat it, right?

Henry: Um, okay. I want Hershey's on it.




Friday, May 21, 2010

Hanging on by a thread

I'm a mess this week.  Luckily, it hasn't been a year of distraction for me since I'm not running dance companies or putting on shows anymore, but the last weeks of school are bad any year.  This year is worse because I actually *ahem* liked my seniors.  Maybe I'd say loved.  It was a good year, ergo it was hard to say goodbye to them and the time I spent with them.  But it's also a year where five of my favorite people in the world are retiring.  There are videos to be made and parties to plan but in the back of my mind I know that my life at school is going to change.  When school starts up again next year, many of the faces that have been at the core of my group of friends just won't be here.  While it's eating at me a bit, I know it also hasn't set in what that means, exactly.

So in the midst of all this distraction at work (and the myriad parties and luncheons and end-of-year shenanigans) I managed to forget to pick up Addie from school yesterday.  She had a minimum day and the plan was to go on my lunch and get her and bring her back to school with me.  Only I got a call 15 minutes into my first class after lunch from my mom (who teaches at Roo's school) asking me what happened.  God, I felt terrible.

Roo was sure sad when I got her, too.  She said she was okay, and I apologized, but she also said she was feeling kind of "leftover sad" about it even though she knew it was all okay now.  *sigh*  I am the parent of the year.

Anyway, I know I've been sparse about posting and it might get sparser.  Haha.  Okay, I know that's supposed to be more sparse, but come on.  I just can't think straight and I need to take care of junk before I go getting all posty again.  Things I am letting go this week:  dishes, cooking, exercise, posting.  You'll be fine.

Hope you're all having a calmer week than we are right now.


Monday, May 17, 2010

The last half mile

When I ran my first (and only!) half marathon, the toughest part was about the last half a mile--I wasn't close enough to sprint, but I could see the finish line and I was spent. The same thing is starting to happen when I continuously run the same route in my neighborhood. The last half a mile is torture and I'm a total baby about it. The motivational speech I play in my mind that keeps me running just doesn't cut it through the end.

I realized this morning that the end of the school year is the same way. I'm always in a funk at the end of the year and I think it's the same phenomenon. Only instead of being surrounded by peppy supporters, I'm surrounded by about 180 people who feel that same fatigue. Oh, and my students, who basically wanted to be done with school before they ever started. I can feel the weight dragging me down.

Add painful budget cuts this year, layoffs, program cuts, bad moods, tension, awkwardness--seniors who are barely graduating--and you've got a recipe for misery. I just want to sit down and quit.

Only seven more days. Tomorrow night I'm doing (informational) picketing and attending a School Board meeting in support of teachers, students, and families in our district. I'm still holding on to a shred of hope that our board is going to do right by students and the people who give their lives to educating them.

Only seven more days.

*sigh*

Sunday, May 16, 2010

No Knead Bread Recipe




I've noticed a gradual shift in our eating as we've searched for foods that are gluten or allergen-free for E. The more I read about food, the more I want to buy things that grow locally, are organic, and are processed as little as possible. I really wish we had a Whole Foods that was closer than a half hour away, but for now it's close enough to go once a month. I was excited to learn that the Henry's Market that's opening soon near us seems like a scaled-down version of a WF/healthy grocery store, possibly with some Gluten-free options for the E man and some family-friendly eats for the rest of us. But anyway, the more I try to find foods with only things in them that E can eat or that I want to eat, the more I realize it's just easier to make them myself.

This month at Whole Foods we were able to get a lot of snacks for E plus some great meat and a bunch of their "normal" people groceries as well. E's actually able to have sheep or goats' milk products, so we've sampled our share of the upper class WF cheese too. Livin' large on sheep cheese, that's what we are. I'm pretty fond of their 365 Organic brand, especially their pretzels and Woven Wheats (i.e. Triscuit knock-offs). I love processed foods with only two or three item ingredient lists, like: wheat, salt. At least then you know what you're getting and I honestly can't say I notice a taste difference over their chemically-enhanced cousins. I've just admitted that I'm always going to snack, and I'm going to snack on whatever's in reach so it better just be healthy. It doesn't matter how well I plan all day, I'm going to sink into the couch at about 8:00 and I better have a plate of something for noshing or I'm going to be a crazy person.

E and I also started paying attention to what kind of healthier meat and produce options our regular grocery store and bulk stores stock. Costco sells organic chicken, and though it's honestly MUCH more expensive than the regular bag of chicken breasts we normally buy, it's very good. I bought two whole chickens and a pack of six chicken breasts. So far, so good. I can stretch a whole bird pretty far, so we've managed to get by on a little less chicken. Costco also has a giant bag of frozen organic blueberries that's reasonably priced enough we use it in our morning smoothies (oh, and I just started mixing them into Greek yogurt with a little honey--YUM.) I shopped Bel Air today (a Northern California standard) and noticed that a lot of their organic produce is only slightly more than the regular. Now I don't know yet if this is because Bel Air is typically more expensive for everything, or if they are just reasonable about produce. But it was a nice surprise when I stopped in to buy eggs and veggies to discover that I could keep it under $20.

Since I was sick yesterday I didn't make it to the farmers' market, but I've been going there for hormone free/cage free eggs and whatever produce they have on hand. I'm bummed that I missed out on market berries this week--there's a couple that's there every week and their berries are divine. But I did nicely at Bel Air as a substitute. I'm pretty new to all of this, but there's evidence to suggest that at least for the "dirty dozen" (fruits and veggies that absorb the most chemicals), organic is worth the money. As always, YMMV (your mileage may vary). I'm just trying to make some gradual, painless shifts to see if it helps with E's constant digestive struggles (and, admittedly, my own health as well).

Anyway, God. Sorry. This didn't start out to be a narrative about my grocery shopping habits... I wanted to post the recipe for the bread I've been making, because I lurrrrve it and it's so easy.

I'm still rockin' bread maker bread, especially for E's Gluten-free sandwich bread (Pamela's makes the best mixes), but this is like, um, fancy bread. You know what I mean? You have your sandwich bread and then you have your fancy bread. You can't put out a slice of Iron Kids with a four course meal. So this is bread that's both simple in its ingredient list, and oh-so-tasty. Fancy bread. Pretty good with a smear of butter and a little cinnamon sugar too.




Adventures in bread making (recipe at the end):




I asked Roo to copy the recipe for me since I'm getting tired of dragging the laptop around the kitchen.




Henry helped pour in the ingredients--bread flour, yeast, salt, water--and stir.




Hurley hanging around, hoping something would drop on the floor.




She's admittedly a better mixer. Has more patience for it.




Mix it until it looks all shaggy like this.




Then we cover and leave it alone for 12-18 hours. It ain't so picky. I think we left it about 15 hours this time.




It looks like this after it has a little rest. Bubbly and ugly. I mean, fun.

After this (I didn't take pics of these steps) we dump it out onto a floured surface and shape it into a ball. Then we put the ball of dough into a bowl lined with parchment paper. (I only had wax paper--it didn't work as well.) Then we cover it with a towel and leave it alone for 2-4 more hours.



After the rise, man.

Then we preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a heavy 6-8 qt pan inside. Make sure the pan has a lid and make sure it's oven safe, if you know what I'm sayin'. Mine is, but I'm still about 80% sure the handles are going to melt off, hence the cookie sheet at the bottom of the oven--I'm neurotic.

Anyway, dump the bread into the hot pan and put the lid on. Bake for 30 minutes. Take the lid off.




Just after taking the lid off.




Admire its fanciness.

After taking the lid off, we bake for 15 more minutes, and...




BREAD.
No Knead Bread (AKA PDawg's Fancy Bread)
Adapted from NY Times and Steamy Kitchen

yield: one 1 lb loaf

ingredients:

3 cups bread flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
3/4 T kosher salt
1 1/2 cups warm water

1. Mix dough: Combine all ingredients in a big bowl. Mix until it just comes together and looks kind of shaggy. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it on a counter for 12-20 hours.

2. Shape dough: Uncover dough and dump onto a floured surface. Tuck ends under and form a ball. Line a bowl with parchment paper, place ball of dough into bowl, seam side down. Cover with a towel and leave alone for another 2-4 hours.

3. Preheat oven: Place a heavy, lidded (oven-safe) pan into the oven and preheat it to 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

4. Cook bread: Shake ball of dough into hot pot. Cover and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15-20 minutes.

5. Remove bread carefully and place on a wire rack to cool. Wait to slice bread until it has cooled completely.
While it takes some time, it takes almost no effort to get a bubbly loaf of bread with a delicate, flaky crust. Enjoy!




Saturday, May 15, 2010

The big news

The minutes between 5:20 and 6:00 stretched ahead of us, a cruel, endless runway. We labored at separate distraction. I defined myself in organic chicken and grilled veggies and engaged in an awkward dance with my BBQ. The cadent blood in my ears drowned out the second hand of the clock.

Finally at 5:59, I plopped down on the couch. Check, I urged. Check it now.

No. See, it's one minute behind. It says 2 more minutes now.

No. No. Ugh. Just be ready already. God, I have to pee.

Go pee.

No way. I'll miss it. Ugh, I can't do this. I'll be outside with my asparagus. I'll wait to pee. I can't...

I rolled asparagus stalks so their hotdog-grilled sides pointed skyward. The tops of charred trees fizzed a slow death above the pyre, their delicate tips burnt like medieval church spires. The heat from the grill distracted me and I nearly forgot the wait. I could feel E's pace without laying eye on it. The backyard air was loose with soil and smoke, but the air in our chests contracted in sync. I knew without looking that he was coming.

He appeared at the door, laptop in hand. Look. Come on. Let's do this.

Go ahead. I can't--I can't leave my asparagus. I couldn't look to the screen he leaned near the heat, the tears were so close just from waiting. I'd spent all day playing out the possible scenarios in my head. Either one, an extreme. Just do it. Just click it. I wanted to undo all the waiting, to wrap it back up like a ball of yarn and put it away. I wanted to stay in neutral. The thought that I couldn't undo whatever was about to be pushed me down like a bully in the swimming pool.

There have been few of these moments--these blinding white minutes when we look at each other and know life will be different no matter the outcome--when we suck air simultaneously in and fight the tears that sting at the corners of our eyes as we await fate's judgement. I grasped at seconds to stop time when the doctor searched in vain for a fetal heartbeat during my first pregnancy. I froze every muscle as I waited to hear Addie and Hank cry in the delivery room. But this was probably the first time we waited for deciding news on his career--his time, his freedom from studying--and it scared me to death. I was helpless. He was helpless. Nothing we did right now would change the outcome, but here we sat, waiting.

Come here.

No. I--wait. Didn't you do it yet? Just do it, okay? I flipped chicken, clearly out of control. I squealed and stamped my bare feet, trying to escape my anxious skin. My asparagus!

No. Come here. We'll do it together.

Damn the asparagus. I complied, unsure who was even controlling my body.

He breathed. Take my hand. I looked to the screen; the numbers waited impatiently in their appropriate boxes. The cursor hung over the "submit" button, taunting. I grabbed for his hand--not the affected high school girlfriend squeeze of interlaced fingers--but the knowing wife squeeze of palm and heart. I closed my eyes. No, wait. Open. No closed. Open. Okay do it. I exhaled, releasing my expectations.

Submit.

Beat. Beat. Beat.

YOU PASSED! Wait, you passed, right?

I passed!

You passed! Ohmygod, you passed! I'm so proud of you! I love you!

I passed. Wow.

And like that, life changed. All of his hard work--all of the years of turmoil and fighting and studying--all of the nights away and the finals and highlighters and Bible-thin pages were suddenly legitimized. All of the heartache of a failed first attempt, diffused. Suddenly it's real. Suddenly the world recognizes what I've seen in him for so long. He's credentialed . He's credible. He's verified.

That's some big news.

Congratulations, E!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Yawpy yawp yawp. Ohmmmm...

Spiderwebbed with cracks, the pavement hissed yesterday at the drool of the lazy hose. The sun warmed the ground, but my hands hung dumb at my side as a grey chill settled into my bones. Earthy scents infused the backyard air, shouting life goes on whether you feel up to it or not.

It's been a challenging week. I'm not one who takes my relationships lightly, and I've been reluctant to post anything out of a fear that I'd betray people in my life who are important to me. Though E doesn't mind my airing issues in our marriage, there are certainly other people and friends in my life who didn't sign up to be a part of the little barbaric yawp that is my blog. This week is further proof that relationships force us to grow, that people are flawed--especially me. While I still have a lot on my heart, it has been healthy for me to spend some time in reflection and prayer.

I wanted to share something here because it (along with the advice of my mom) was incredibly helpful in bringing me peace yesterday. I believe that I've mentioned before that when my worry or stress get the best of me, I rely heavily on meditation. I know that word scares some people and it's a joke to others, but it's a non-chemical way for me to gain peace. I find that it's generic enough that it doesn't interfere with what I know to be true, in fact, it dovetails quite well with my belief system and the way I pray.

One good thing about gaining peace in a difficult situation is the ability to move forward. Worry always makes me feel paralyzed and stuck. Once I was able to view my feelings from a different perspective and let some things go, I could then take action to make things better. My peace often comes in the form of a guided meditation, which (since we live in the digital age) often comes in the form of a podcast. There are several that I use, and sometimes I just lay and listen to quiet music, but I like one called The Meditation Station (I know, sounds dorky but it's not) on iTunes. It's a free downloadable podcast.

This is the meditation I found so helpful yesterday, so I thought I'd share it here (attribution at the end):
State your intention: What is it that you want the end result of this exercise? What’s the solution? Or simply say this to yourself: From this day forward, I am in control of how I feel and how I act. I intend to be in balance with my emotions and I love the feeling of this balance. I act in ways that promote peace and harmony. I am loving, kind, and generous in forgiving others.

Even though I may have experienced jealous feelings in the past, I am ready to remove these jealous feelings now. Even though I may have let my imagination turn something into more than it really was, I am ready now to use more control.

I activate the part of me that is kind loving and respectful to the person I am thinking of now. I give this love and kindness freely.

I am forgiving and I promote peace and love.

I feel at rest when I am confronted with a situation that was once painful. These are distant memories. The wounds are healing more every day.

I foster goodness wherever I go. I make others feel welcome and wanted, regardless of the faults they may have.

I activate the peacemaker in me. I want peace in my life, so I play a major role in promoting it and acting in a peaceful and calm manner.

I activate that part of me that is strong and has emotions in balance.

I am thoughtful and remember that all of us make innocent mistakes, including myself, so I forgive.

I am patient, and willing to take time needed, no matter how long, to heal and work through troubled times. I am careful with my thoughts, so as not to bring more negativity into my life.
No matter what feelings of jealousy or anxiety I am feeling, I love and forgive myself completely.

I let go of any need or feeling that I must be in control of the situation, or in contol of any other person.

I activate the part of me that allows trust into my relationships.

I activate the part of me that nurtures this trust, and I use it to build up my relationships.

I let go of stories that I may play out in my mind that cause harm or damage to my relationships. I end those now, and I let them go.

I recognize my own accomplishments. I deeply appreciate how far I’ve come. I am grateful for the growth I’ve already made in this area.

If felt threatened by certain situations in the past... or if I perceived that someone else might be better than me in any way, I release this way of thinking now.

I no longer compare myself to others. I place great value on my own growth.

I activate the part of me that feels that I am of value, that I am of worth, that I am important.

I activate the part of me that is kind, loving and respectful to my partner or to any other person I am thinking about right now. I am ready to give this love and kindness freely.
I love and accept myself completely.

Take a minute to relax and think about something good that has come about for you because of this relationship. Think about how good it will feel to have peace and complete freedom surrounding the both of you, and whatever actions you can now take to make this happen. Make sure to be patient and kind.

Paraphrased from Stin Hansen, Meditation Station Podcast #9, Release Jealousy and Anxiety, © copyright, fit mind body 2005-2007
No matter what anyone thinks about meditation, that's certainly great food for thought. All relationships are hard. Especially good, meaningful ones. But people who you love are worth the work. I remember the priest at Retrouvaille saying that we have a duty to be honest to people that we love, but we should share that honesty with gentleness. In my own life I want to practice more gentleness with the people in my life, and with myself.

I don't know what this weekend holds, but I'm concentrating on creating stillness, on promoting peace and harmony. I'm reminded of this:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
This weekend I wish you all peace. Thanks for being patient while I worked my way back to posting.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Feeling a little day-yown.


Paula Deen is twanging away on the TV right now, and for some reason that completely escapes me, she's heaping grits [griy-yits] into a martini glass. This seems like a waste of a perfectly good martini glass, if you ask me (not that you did--lemon drops, anyone?). I'm not paying careful attention, but the "y'alls" and "wee lil' bits" and "Bubba"s are floating out of the speaker comfortingly as I wait for Facebook to do something already because I'm so bored. I might as well be in Paula's world where words like down [day-yown] have an extra syllable.

Today was a day to feel taciturn and small, a day to marinate myself in the quiet lamentations of A Fine Frenzy on Pandora. It's a good thing that dancers and writers are allowed to be angsty, or you might worry about me if you saw my Pandora account (brimming with the aforementioned guitar-backed breakup music, David Gray, and CCR). Today was what E would call a "whiny girl music" day. I'm beat. This weekend was great, but it wasn't relaxing. I already needed a nap at about 6:35 this morning. It wouldn't have taken much to push me into that sleepy space; it's raining outside like it's February, so I didn't stand a chance.

I left work feeling generally depressed that I was coming home to a frat house that I still needed to clean. I've been playing this evil game with E where I don't do the dishes because he doesn't do the dishes, so nobody does the dishes. Our house has been disgusting pretty much nonstop since we got back from Hawaii. There are plenty of reasons I could list for you, but suffice it to say that nobody was going to budge. The thing is that I hate when the house is gross because it makes me less productive in other areas of life. I don't want to do anything--cook, exercise, work, write, eat, or create--if the house is messy. So I've just been not cleaning, but feeling like crap because I'm doing none of the things that make life awesome.

When I picked up Roo and brought her home, I discovered that E's mom, Meem, cleaned our entire kitchen. It must have taken her all day. I think every dish in our arsenal was in the sink in a raunchy pile of yuck. It really had to have taken hours for her to wash them all.

I almost cried.



Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mudders Day

It was one of the more eventful Mothers' Days in a long time. I woke up about 7:30, but I spent an hour in bed watching Betty White on SNL. Man, I love it. Good times. Good times.




Just as I was finishing "Weekend Update," E came in and whispered that I needed to stay in bed. I guessed at what was up... for the first time, the kids have been really excited about Mothers' Day.

I heard some scurrying around outside, and pretty soon these two cuties showed up with French Toast, my favorite breakfast. They get bonus points for learning how to make it out of one of Roo's cookbooks. I love them. What good kids. They didn't need to make me anything, I just love being their mom so much. I know. Sorry. Too far, P. But they're just so easy right now, I can't help myself.


Cuties and toast.  So what if the powdered sugar got everywhere?  
So did the love.

After dragging around like lazy bums all morning, we got in the car and headed up to see E's folks.  Here's a little slice of H and E for ya.  Well actually, you should probably see the birthday message E taped for me when I shoved a camera in his face (from the other day) first.  You might not want to watch it if you don't like people flipping each other off, but it's nothing terrible.

He's like my own angry pirate.  I love him.  Birthday video:




In the car this morning:





The kids got to play with an old tea set from one of E's cousins.  Guess who was the most interested in it of the two?




We finished up the evening with a YUMMY BBQ at my parents' house with my grandparents and aunts and uncles.  I even got a slice of my favorite pie in the whole world.  If you're nice to me, I might post the recipe.




YUM.

And I managed to catch my grandpa playing paddycake with the kids.  He used to do this with me and Lis when we were little--always told us to do it then made us "miss."  We used to laugh and laugh just like Addie.   I'm so glad I caught this tonight.



It was a wonderful day.  I'm just wondering why I have to go back to work tomorrow.  :/


One more...



One more rerun... I forgot to include this one in my posts from yesterday about motherhood. I remembered this morning as the kiddos brought me breakfast in bed:

Unsolicited Advice: Babies

Hope you're all having a wonderful Mothers' Day.




Saturday, May 08, 2010

On motherhood:

In honor of Mothers' Day, a few of my related posts (click on links to open in new tab):



This post about my wonderful mom was actually from a journal entry I wrote in 2006.








This post was about Henry's birth (don't worry, no gory details).





Happy Mothers' Day tomorrow!


Friday, May 07, 2010

Cost-benefit analysis

Henry: Mom, you know... um, Mimi never gets mad at me. [Mimi=E's mom]

Me: Well bud, that's because she spoils you and you get what you want all the time. So why would she ever be mad at you?

Henry: Well YOU get mad at me all the time... and I don't really like it so much.

Me: Dude. It's my job to get mad at you when you act like a bad kid. Do you act like the bad kid sometimes?

Henry: Yeah.

Me: You like it, huh? Being bad sometimes?

Henry: [Grinning] Yeah. I do. Sometimes I just don't want to get ready for school so I make everyone late.

Me: I'll make you a deal. I'll stop being mad at you... if you stop being bad. What do you think about that? Can you just be done being bad now and I'll stop getting mad at you?

[long pause]

Henry: Mom, that's kind of a tough decision.


Thursday, May 06, 2010

This is how you do yogurt WRONG:



Seriously, though? This kid had peanut butter, mint, and chocolate yogurt with rainbow sprinkles and peanut butter chips, topped with caramel. All of that, he stirred together. Barf.


Yo Henry, I'm real happy for you, and Imma let you finish,
but PDawg had the best yogurt of all time.


Yogurt done properly.


At least he's cute. It will get him far in life, just like his father.
(Fun details: Roo and my mom in the background, Henry's allergy eyes)

And guess what? Tonight I made bread. My bread machine shenanigans have given me a little burst of confidence, so I decided to try the No Knead Bread from the NY Times. Bread with no machine. I know, welcome to 2006, P. Or truthfully, 64 A.D. (I'm so retro.) There's a great explanation of the recipe on Steamy Kitchen, as well.

Verdict: success! Flaky ("shattering" is the word many sites use) crust, big, bubbly soft insides (oh Lord, I don't have a handle on the yeasty jargon). Great bread. I just ate two gigantic pieces in bed while Hurley and I watch RHONY. Hurley is very pro-Jill. I don't understand it at all. E's out at the Wrangler with a friend from HS, trying to get confirmation that Thursday is the new Friday. I kid, I kid. It is, except for crabby English teachers who are in bed with half a loaf of bread and a snugly puppy by 9:00. Nerd alert.

I decided it was way too "Liz Lemon" of me to post a pic of the bread that showed any bits of my bedspread
I needed some light so I could get a good pic, so I leaned over the nightstand to get a good shot of the amazingness that is my bread. Unfortunately, I also captured the pile of bobby pins and the fact that my yay me birthday manicure looks pretty sad. Oh well. Can't hide my inner LL.



Bow down before the awesome that is my bread.

Bow, I said. And maybe let's get a slow clap going for E, who GOT A PROMOTION TODAY. Heck yeah.