Saturday, January 31, 2009

Knee Deep in History

Miley is doing an ancestry project for school. No problem. We have the records from both my side and Mike's side. I saw this as a quick one hour project we would enjoy together.

Not exactly.

Think your mom's dad's dad's dad's mom's dad's mom's dad's dad's dad's mom dad's dad's dad and then think of all their spouses and their moms and dads. Now add in your mom's mom and repeat. When done, move to your dad's mom and dad's dad. 

And then do the same thing on your husband's side.

I am not kidding. I have managed to trace back 8 different lines to the early 1700s in York County, PA and King George, VA. I even managed to find the name of the boat my ancestors took in the late 1600s. 

We found the militia of our fore fathers in the Revolutionary War and the companies in the Civil War. We discovered a great great grandmother who died in childbirth, a dad who died a few years after his son was born and parents who had 2o children.

We even found pictures, wills  and census sheets. 

Miley and I managed to fill six poster boards for the tree and then some.

Seven hours later, I was done. I looked at our taped together poster boards and declared 'enough'.

"But what about his wife and her husband? What about her parents?"

I glanced at the boards. There were lots of missing spouses and parents from different lines on the board. It wasn't that we didn't find them. It was that there literally was not enough room and when you get so far in the past, you tend to focus on the main line. I stared at those names, the names of people whose actions made me, me. Looking at the tree, Mike's family combined with mine and my children were a result. And it broke my heart that I did not have the names of their spouses, their parents and their parents. That I did not know what color their eyes were, what they liked to do on Saturday night.  That these people were family, my blood, my daughter's blood and I could not fit all of them, every single one of them on the tree.

And then I thought about my own legacy. 250 years from now, would one of my heirs spend a Saturday afternoon with her child marking my name, date of birth and death? Would they know I liked to cook and eat entirely too much pasta? Would they wonder what life was like in 2009? Would they know it was my dream, my goal, that my grandchildren's grandchildren be happy, safe and loved? 

I hope they will know. Looking at the names on the list, I am thinking they too shared this dream. Well Peter, Mary and everyone in between, your dream is true. Thank you for the life you shared and the gifts you have given us.

But as far as the pasta, I don't know. Maybe, they'll know.  If they still have access to my blog.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another Snow Day and I am Smiling

Well, actually, it's really an ice day. Freezing rain and ice. Not pretty. Not something the kids can play in. 

So for the second day, we are stuck at home. We have school work to keep ourselves busy (homeschoolers don't get many snow days!) and logs for the fire.

I refuse to complain about any of it. I will wear a smile on my face and be grateful.

Why? Because I know in a very few short months, my weather will be like this:

And my weather will stay like this for months and months and months.

So today I appreciate the ice and even the sand they dump all over the streets to try to keep the roads a little safe. (If anyone in Dallas gov't is reading, the sand does not work. At all. The only thing it does is throw mud on our cars. You may want to consider just a little bit of salt.)

OK. Time to throw another log on the fire.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Time for a Change of Plans

I am not making my 5 am spin class. I need to get up by 4:15, and get there by 4:50 am if I want a 'good' bike (only spinners know what this means!). And I do not see this changing.

Usually, I am in bed by 9. This gives me enough sleep. But not recently. Mike has been working, a lot. I am overjoyed with this because he is a self-employed real estate agent/appraiser and working means an income. Since a few days after Christmas, he has been working daily for almost 10-12 hours. This includes New Year's Day, MLK day and Sundays. So if I want to see my husband and have an actual face to face conversation, I have to stay up a bit later. Some nights can be as late as 11:30. I cannot get up at 4:15 after staying up this late, especially if I have wine.

So in lieu of spinning, I am aching to return to another favorite of mine, running. The problem with running? Well, actually there are two--my knees. They got really messed up a few years back.  My running friends have told me if I have the right shoes, it should be OK.

We have a fancy running shoes store near us. A pair of shoes is about the cost of a month at the gym. I am thinking about putting a hold on the gym and buying those shoes. I could run around 5:30 am before Mike leaves and then be home in time to get all ready for their day.

And I love running. There is that great rush you get, the outside air, the calmness of it all.  Once you get past the first 10 minutes, it's a real thrill. 

Beside, it will fit in my new schedule. 

Any runners have a tip they'd like to share on shoes or training?

Friday, January 23, 2009

It was sad but not as terrible as I imagined it would be

Today at the grocery store I have been going to for over 8 years, talking with the cashier I have seen almost every single week, I came out.

This is the cashier who 'treats' me to my children's birthday cakes, who asks me about my day, who gives me a hug after every visit, who always remembers to give credit for my cloth bags.  She saw me through three pregnancies and three new babies. I have felt over our many years that we have indeed formed a friendship. If I ever saw her in public, I would not hesitate to chat with her and I feel she would do the very same for me.

Today I came into her line as I do every Friday. She asked me about my week. I told her I was tired, gave her the 411 and then asked about hers.

Right away she told me about the joy she was feeling for our new president. I smiled and continued to unpack my cart. It's her right to be joyful and happy!

She went on and described how wonderful it was having people come through that went to DC to watch the Inauguration. And how magical the whole thing was. Again, this is great. I am happy she got to meet them.

And then she added about how it was America again. I stopped unloading the groceries as I felt a chill.

I have always loved our country. I have always been proud of our country. Even during Carter and Clinton, I felt blessed to be an American. My own family fought under George Washington, my husband is a marine. We are a nation of value, strength and freedom. More Americans died in the Civil War than in all other wars combined. A war that ended slavery--a practice still going on today in many countries, especially in Africa. We were and are a great land.

I looked at the cashier and decided to say one thing.

"It was wonderful. I just did not think booing President Bush was appropriate at all."

She stopped what she doing and looked at me with shock. I felt sick to my stomach. I never really speak my mind on these items. I wondered what she was thinking.

I grabbed some more food and added that the behavior of the crowds just really upset me. How can they say "we are one" when they are so horribly disrespectful to a president that has kept then safe after 9/11.

She spoke. "He had a 22% approval rating."

"And congress has a 19% and they are still there." I was stepping far out of my comfort zone.

"Well I saw a republican on TV and he didn't like Bush."

"I'm not saying you have to like him. Booing him is disrespecting, the man, his work and the office."

Stone silence. It felt colder than December in Alaska and she no longer looked at me as she bagged the groceries.

I smiled and switched the conversation, trying to break the ice. Slowly she began to speak to me again but it felt different--guarded and short.

I sighed as I watched her pack up the groceries. I hoped I did not lose a friend. This is one of the reasons I don't come out. This is why I avoided blogging my views during and after the election. I did not want to offend anyone. I was worried people would not comment or come back. I would be labeled as one of those "stupid Republicans that just don't get it". 

Thinking those thoughts, I would think of how silly I was being. I go to liberal blogs. I like liberal bloggers. I don't view them differently and I do not think less of them because they do not share my ideology. The bald eagle needs both the right and left wing to fly. This is not to say I agree with them. And if I really do not agree, I usually do not comment and wait on the next post. I don't feel comfortable going to a blog, a virtual house, and slamming the post in the comments. That's just not cool.

So today, I am coming out once again to you. My name is Lisa. I am a strong conservative. I voted for GW Bush twice and last fall I voted for Sarah Palin (that is not a typo, I was not going to vote for McCain before Palin, I was going to write-in 'Ghost of Reagan') and I am praying I will get to vote for Palin in 2012.  I am pro-life, pro-gun and pro--Gitmo. I am also that very busy mom of 4 who is dealing with a baby who won't stop nursing, a boy being labeled, a daughter who loves ballet and an oldest child who hates math. 

Don't worry. This will not be a political blog. If I ever get that urge, I would start a different one. Twitter and other groups are enough for me.  

Oh and my cashier today did not give me any item as a treat, come around to give me a good-bye hug nor credit my cloth bags (the first time ever). It could have been worse.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Who Knew Spanky could read?

Ever since I wrote my post about weaning Spanky, he has been nursing a lot. All those that just had their babies say a few hours ago, I am pretty sure Spanky is nursing about as much as your new baby.

Every time I sit down, he jumps on lap to nurse. If Mike tries to bring him to bed, he peers over his daddy's shoulder and screams holding out his hand to me. If I am busy homeschooling the girls, he comes over to me and tries nurse. And right now, what is Spanky doing? Nursing.

This is going to be a very long journey.

(To the person who asked what a plugged duct was, it is when milk is stuck in your breast. It is extremely painful and can lead to mastitis which is the flu times ten!)

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Secret to Being a Great Home Cook

It's not talent, it's not the right food, it's not schooling. It is organization. Seriously.

Think about it for a minute. How many times have you had the goal of making that perfect butternut squash and kale casserole when  you realize you have no rigatoni. You thought you did but it turns out the pasta was used for something. You lose the chance to cook and you end up with take out and the squash and kale spoil. So sad (really I do get sad when food spoils!).

So how do you get organized? First, you need to get your kitchen in order. Get yourself a label maker or a roll of Scotch tape with a sharpie. Put the pasta, nuts, baking, chocolate, etc. in their own marked areas. And keep them there. Check out the fridge. Again,  get out the label maker and put things in their own spots, clearly labeled. I have a cheese drawer (because I love cheese), a dairy shelf, condiment shelf, washed produce drawer, unwashed produce drawer and a deli shelf. Do the same for the freezer (labels are trickier but I have found Scotch tape holds up fairly well). Explain to the family your system and explain how important it is to keep all items in their places. I have even made a chart explaining placement for our Laz-E-Susan items. (I admit I am a bit anal when it come to the kitchen --my spices are also alphabetical.)

Now that everything is in its place, it is time to plan a weekly menu. I love getting out cookbooks and recipe cards. I note each breakfast,  lunch, snack and dinner along with recipe book and page number. Then I go through each dish and name the needed ingredients. At this point, I do a quick walk through of the kitchen and determine what I have and what I need.

Finally I write the remaining ingredients based on their respected sections in the grocery store. I also make sure to add a few extras for the kids if I see the snack supply is running low for playdates, etc.  Yes, I do this every week. 

I know this seems really time consuming but if you figure the time it takes to run out to the store to grab that missing item (and the money you spend with the extra impulse buys), it really is not that hard. And after a few weeks, it truly is second nature. I can get my menu planned in less that half an hour. I have a grocery list divided based on the lay out of my grocery store. I can get my shopping done in less than 40 minutes with 4 children. That my friends is a feat. This means I get all of this done in a little over an hour per week. Not bad at all!

So if you have plans of making meals at home and becoming the next Top Chef, grab the label maker and get organized :)

(A big plus on this--you will stop buying the things you already have and therefore get a smaller grocery bill!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This time I mean business

I spent the earlier part of the week dealing with a plugged duct thanks to my nursing two year old.

I do not have time to deal with plugged ducts. I do not have time time to get up two to three times a night to nurse. I do not have time to sit and nurse Spanky three to four times a day (even if it is the only time I can really get on the computer).

I know I have said it before but today, I mean it. It is time to not only night wean Spanky; it's time to wean him completely and begin a new stage in life.

I want to sleep through the night. I want to be able to wake up at 4:30 am to go to my spin class, not continually hit snooze until 7 am. I want to be happy, not a grouch. I want to be me again.

Spanky I love you and it is time to start a whole new big boy era. 

You agree, right Spankster?!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Twitter Etiquette?

I've been a twitter for a little over a week now and I am sure I have made about a year's worth of faux pas! 

I see some twitters saying good morning (signing in), others saying good night (signing out) and others posting a URL to their latest posts. Is this what you do or do you just say whatever (this is sadly what I am doing right now)?

And then there's the whole reply thing--do I answer everyone's comments and more importantly do I reply when they respond to me? What is the appropriate thing to do in these situations?

Then there's the follow thing. I have had a few people (men) begin to 'follow' me and I am not going to follow them and I really don't want them to follow me. How do I handle this?

So twitter mommies, help a newbie out--what are the twitter rules?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Oh Joy! Another Meeting with Special Ed

I got a notice about yet another meeting with Dino's special ed teachers. This time they want to discuss kindergarden yet want me to fill out a form with medical information.

Hmmmm...odd they want to do this now after we had his MRI last month. The MRI the teachers more or less demanded and pestered me to schedule. Because they just knew Dino's late development meant something was wrong in his brain and not anxiety related. 

Well, Dino's MRI results did come back and.......he was completely normal. Absolutely nothing wrong with his brain functions. Absolutely nothing wrong with his brain.

Yet another doctor who believes Dino has some anxiety issues.

Next week, I will once again hear how my son does not know how to speak and cannot play with the other children. And I will once again tell them he speaks in full sentences (sometimes non-stop) at home, imaginative plays with his sisters and brothers, has two 'bestest friends' at his other school, plays and shouts on the playground at the other school. Then they will once again tell me something is wrong because he is not talking at school. And I will once again bring up possible anxieties.

See many a time Dino has come from this school sad because they don't listen to his answers and ask him the same questions over and over. "They don't listen" he tells me with tears streaming down his face. Then he tells he's 'a little sick' and 'needs to stay home from (school name)'.  

Sounds like an anxiety-issue to me. But not to them. At least not based on their current comments. At this point I am still greeted with snickers and rolled eyes when I mention anxiety and possible social mutism.  I am treated like a parent in denial. 

I will learn more next week. I pray it goes well and they will listen to me, the mommy, and the doctors. I might be asking too much from this group.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Those Tongue Biting Moments

I always get a kick out of the first week after the new year in my grocery store. Many would consider my grocery store, although higher priced, the healthier grocery store thanks to its policy of refusing to sell anything with really bad ingredients  and its green reputation.

I was curious this week to see what the turn out would be this week, especially with the economy. Pulling into the parking lot and getting one of the best spaces there, I realized the family budget was higher on the resolution list this year than health.

But that's not to say there were not a few who decided to make this the year they got healthy :)

I can spot them pretty quickly. They look confused and they tend to really linger in produce. And then there is the look-- it's like a nun at Pink Floyd concert. I wait patiently behind them as I see them buying items they have been told are the healthy options.

Blueberries? Check.

Asparagus? Check.

Fresh tomatoes? Check.

And this folks is where I want to run up to them and take the items out their carts. Blueberries are out of season until the summer--they are overpriced, have been shipped from the other end of the world and will taste like cardboard. The asparagus? Honestly, high quality restaurants should be refusing these tasty stalks right now. They are a spring veggie, and like blueberries are way overpriced and will taste limp and give the vegetable the icky taste reputation it does not deserve. Tomatoes? Again, over-priced and shipped from far away. If you like your tomatoes to taste like a watery, grainy mess; winter tomatoes are for you, if you prefer tasty, juicy ones, hold off til August or go for canned (seriously).

My guess is these shoppers with all the best intentions will first fight the urge to keel over when they get the grocery bill, and then go home and find that healthy food is nasty. Soon, the overpriced, out of season food is thrown in the trash; and shopper who wanted to get healthy finds herself running for a Big Mac.

Every time I see these shopper mistakes, I want to take out all the overpriced, under tasty stuff our of their cart and give them a tour of the whole produce department. Right now, citrus is in high season. Blood oranges can add a splash of unexpected red to dull lettuce leaves. Meyer lemons are here! They are amazing--add the zest to fish, chicken, plain yogurt. They are amazing. The apples are nearing the end of their season so take advantage--apples can dress up pork dishes, make a healthy dessert and a great after school snack with aged cheddar or peanut butter. And don't walk past the greens! Kale is amazing! It has been given the honor of one of the best cancer-fighting foods around. And it is in season right now!!! (I really love kale!) In Texas you can get local, organic kale for a little over a buck. Saute it with fish, add it to stews, add it to a pasta sauce. Endless possibilities. 

I seriously wanted to scream these words at new shoppers today. But I'm shy and I held it under my breath. I walked by them smiled and then reached over their carts for all the Meyer lemons ;)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

For Dante

Dante grew wings this morning. Thanks to all for the prayers.

Please pray for Dante's parents Jo and Tony as they struggle through this terrible loss. Dante is no longer in pain but his parents are and they need support!

No comments--only prayers.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Hairstylist Debate

For years, I had an awesome colorist/stylist. She was the best. I loved her. I made my appointments 6 weeks in advance, 12 weeks in advance for the holidays and I made sure to always make the 35 minute trek to her salon.

Then last year, she opened her own independent studio, 50 minutes away. And she raised her rates. I went to see her twice. It was nice and she did the usual terrific job but with travel time, my hair appointment lasted over 4 hours. So add in the babysitter money and the increase in the rate and it was obvious I needed to find someone new.

So I called a just opened new Aveda spa (my colorist/stylist was in an Aveda salon so went because I thought they would have the same good people). The location was ideal--5 minutes from the house, the price not so much. It was more then the increased rates from my old stylist. But less than a babysitter for an extra two hours. So I took the plunge.

I asked to have the colorist who was in charge of in-store training. These people from my experience usually do the bet job. So the salon was lovely but the stylist did a so-so job on my hair. I was happy but not ecstatic like I used to be.

And then school started and I thought the perfect time to get my hair down would be when all children were at school. The only requirement? I would need to the appointment to start at 9 am. I asked to schedule my next appointment at this time.

"No we can't do that, "replied the very trendy receptionist. "J only comes in at 10 am at the earliest."

"I need to come in at 9. Could she come in earlier? You open at 9." I begged. 

"She comes in at 10."

And so I decided to check into a new location. A non-Aveda salon. At first glance the new salon was perfect. 9 o'clock? No problem. Cheaper rates? For sure. And a no tip policy. I was in heaven.

I went in and they did my hair. Not too pleased. I came home. My husband said maybe it was because you were new. How about another try?

I came back and the my husband's first words were "Maybe we could find a way to send you to your favorite hairdresser?"

Gee, thanks honey. 

And so now I spend a bit more time getting my hair to work in the morning. I am not thrilled with the color and I just feel washed out. But the salon works with my schedule. I really do like the people who work there and the price is perfect. I just don't like my hair as much as I used to.

Now I am two weeks from my next appointment and I am debating what I should do. A big part of me says to just bring in a picture. I really like her hair. 

(Isn't she cute? I could be that cute!)

Or should I just go back to my favorite--of course I'd need to wait. She doesn't work as many hours and she gets booked fast.

I just don't know. I do know I don't like this look at all.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

My way to beat colds

Friday I came down with an icky sore throat. I knew what was coming and I did my usual cold fighting tactics and now 24 hours later, I am OK...a bit weak but OK.

I don't like colds and with a husband always working and no family in sight, I cannot afford to be sick for very long ever. I don't do OTC medicines. I actually think stuff like Nyquil and Sudafed prolong a cold. Ask my husband--he used to stick with OTCs and still be coughing and miserable days after I was 100%.

No, my biggest cold fighter is hydrogen peroxide. Seriously. At the first sign of a cold, I dip the ends of a q-tip in the peroxide and put a drop in each ear. There's some bubbling. From what I have been told, the bubbling is actually killing the nasty cold germs. I tried the drops in my ears when I felt fine and heard nothing so I am inclined to believe this.

Then I get into a very hot tub with a big glass of water. I relax and drink every drop of water.

When I get out, I put on my warmest socks, PJs and tuck into bed with a glass of water (or Mother's Milk tea if congested--the fenugreek in the tea loosens things!) until the next day. I will admit these are the times I let the kids watch TV all day even if it beautiful outside. Yesterday, they watched "A Christmas Carol" with George C. Scott, "Holiday Inn" with Bing Crosby and "Wall-E" with um, Wall-E during a beautiful day, and I did not care. (edited to add the husband did come home before the first movie was over to work from home and I was able to hear them--no deep sleep until hubby was home!) I did not worry about their poor minds rotting away. I relaxed. I stayed in bed (I also gave the oldest some cash for dealing with diapers and snacks.) I slept and I slept--only to wake up for an occasional water.

The next morning I woke up and felt better.

And that is what I do to fight a cold. This works about 90% of the time. Sometimes I eat raw garlic but this really messes with my stomach so I don't do this as often. But I know there are other methods. I know some of you have a great tip to keep us all healthy and happy in 2009. Willing to share?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Great Expectations

A new year, new goals.

I know it's a bit trite and most never fall through with their goals (myself included) but I still do them. I like to follow the Zig Ziglar advice--you can't reach a goal if you don't have a clear idea what it is.

So for 2009:

1. Start a new personal bible study--I think I am going to start with this one.

2. Attend at least three spin classes a week and do pilates at least three times a week.

3. Limit 'bad' carbs to only once every 10 meals. (This will no doubt be the toughest for this pasta lovin' mommy!)

4. Stick to the Dave Ramsey plan for the budget. (This entails so much I may need to do an entire post!)

5. Do one fun thing everyday.

6. Contact one friend daily--in person or phone.

7. Nightly family discussion before bedtime. 

8. Add a new aspect my blog (and get a blog make-over!)

9. Reach out in new technology--I just joined twitter. (See my twitters on the right hand side and click follow to join me. If you twitter, let me know. I'd love to follow you too!)

And these are my 9 goals for the 2009. Are you planning anything special for this new year?