Monday, August 25, 2014

I wanna whip out my squirrel.


I decided to take the summer off from the blogosphere, or whatever the coolest bloggers are calling it these days.  Bloggy-land?  Blogsylvania?  The Digital Written Self Promotion Depository?  I'm sure it's one of those.  Instead of trying to schedule being funny three to four times per week, I decided to allow my brain and body to do as it would. 

Today is the first day of school, the first day of schedules and homework and going to bed early, and it's time to get back at it.  The break was needed but I've missed it.  I've missed you.

Summer proved a lovely time.  My family took the time to be with each other in a new way.  It was good to be relating to my husband in a new way since his Aspergers diagnosis.  Where I usually gird up my girdle for summers because of the increase in the demands of family life, the loss of space and the over abundance of housework, I can genuinely say that is summer has been simple and wonderful and harmonious. 

Summer simplicity has made me realize that I was suffering from literary constipation. You get backed up when you think you always have to try to be profound with the funny.  It was like my every post needed to impress that I'm deep enough that if you stepped in it, you'd have to pull your feet up out of your shoes and leave them stuck in the mud of my mind.

OK, so the jokes are stuck in the mud too.  We'll fish them out eventually.

Deep as mud seems to be the way with blogging these days.  There is so much you want to touch upon because it's stuck on our collective social media psyches.  Everyone has an opinion on politics and pop culture and race relations and war and charity and celebrities and healthcare and family life.  Some even expected that I should voice an opinion on this sort of thing or that sort of other thing...which is a reasonable expectation when you've written other opinions on anything from sex to why other people's children smell being obliging is a natural response.  These things matter and being of the world, they matter to me too.

I found, however, that instead of husband and kids and cats pushing in on my space, it was everything else that I thought I should be concerned about.  It's all so much noise and then my brain went down with the shoes and the jokes.

Nothing mattered more on some days than feeding the ground squirrels in my yard.

This is everything that is right in the world.
Today is my 21st anniversary too.

It's a great day.  The weather is cool and gorgeous.  I can smell rain in the air.  The kids came home happy and healthy.  None of my cats have vomited on the carpet.  I sewed.  I ate yogurt.  There will probably be nooky later.

Hi again.  Nice to be here.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Two slices of turkey bacon is 70 calories. Two slices of real bacon is 80 calories.

Last summer, when I was going through problems with my petulant bladder and subsequent fun with several courses of antibiotics, it dawned on me while standing on the doctor's scale that I had gained weight.
There were clues before that of course.  Bigger pants.  That's a certain clue that your frame isn't as small as it once was.  I also needed bras with actual cups and structure because I'd gained myself some boobs.  There was the embarrassing purchase of granny style underwear to cover my butt with.  My wedding ring wasn't coming off my finger.  People asking me when I was due...that sort of thing.
Those of you who knew me in high school probably think that it's a fluke that put on a pound or two.  In high school I was the tall girl with bird bones.  The girl who ate like a horse, sucked down Mountain Dew and had a difficult time finding pants long and thin enough.  If any of you wondered why it seemed that I wore the same pair of jeans every day it's because I'd bought four pair of that style because they fit.  I have a 36 inch inseam, for gosh sakes!

Girbaud jeans were stylish at the time.  They did not fit.  Therefore I thought they were ugly anyway.
Twenty years since high school, three pregnancies, eight years of fun with my hormones, and a love of all things cake, and my BMI was on the edge of  having a "fun personality".
I signed up on MyFitnessPal in October. 
As of today, I've lost twenty-five pounds.

Considering that my goal is thirty pounds, how it's gone so far ain't too bad! 
How did I accomplish this feat?  I ate food, and counted every calorie that went into my mouth 95% of the time, finding that sweet spot of eating just a little less than what it takes to fuel my body in a day.  MyFitnessPal helps you with this.  It's fabulous.

Did I up the exercise?  Well, no.  Just changed my diet.  Now that the weather is warmer I'm looking forward to getting out hiking. 
Did I eat a ton of rabbit food?  Sort of.  You find that when you're at a calorie deficit, you want to eat more roughage because it's low calorie and it fills you up.  Otherwise I didn't suddenly go gluten free or Paleo or Atkins or Southbeach.
Did you deprive yourself of food that tastes good?  No.  You just budget in your favorites.  Like butter.  Doritos.  Peanut butter chocolate easter eggs.  Whole milk.  Alfredo sauce.  Cheeseburgers.  Girl Scout cookies.  You may want to eat an entire bag of Doritos but you stop at an ounce.
Weren't you hungry?  At first, yes.  My body was used to the feeling of being very full.  I powered through that with oatmeal and celery.  The feeling went away when my hormones started to level off.  When my hormones levelled off I found I didn't crave the refined carbs nearly as much as I used to. I'm not an emotional eater. 

You didn't buy diet food?  Other than fresh veggies and meats?  No.  It's not necessary.  Besides, diet soda tastes like ball sweat. (I don't care if you love diet Coke and you're offended by my using the term "balls".  It's straight up testicular perspiration.)  You don't necessarily get more food and less calorie for your buck or your taste buds when you buy food marked "lite".  That said, Hebrew National 97% lean hotdogs are incredible.

How did you track the calories that went in your mouth?  With a postal scale.  Everything gets weighed.  Especially the calorie dense foods like cheese.

Did your grocery bill go up?  Nope.  My husband has joined me on the diet and because we're buying way less snack food, our grocery bill has fallen.  We also eat out a little less because it's difficult to track calories at a restaurant.
What about Christmas?  I gave myself a week to eat what I liked.  I gained two pounds back.  Then I got right back on the horse.
What do you weigh now?  Not sayin. 
So, what's your pants size then?  Long.
So, what's your bra size then?  Not large.  Not large in any way whatsoever.  Not even medium. 
Have a pic, taken nice and fresh, five minutes ago:

Monday, April 14, 2014

I must rule with needle and thread.

I've been sewing a lot lately.
Or rather, I've been a vigilant keeper of cats off my sewing lately.
Never ever place a hyperactive cat and a new tissue sewing pattern in the same room.  What you'll end up with is mounds of shredded and unusable pattern, clouds of cat hair, and a look on the cat's face that says, "Yeah, so?"
I've been enjoying the fabrics of my ancestors.
When my Grandmother on my father's side died in 1994, she left behind a hoarded house full of craft materials, yarn and fabrics.  What could be salvaged was, and I inherited a lot of surprisingly well kept yardage.  Well kept...and most of it pretty cheesy.  Great for the costumes I sew. 
When my Dad's sister died in 1998, I again became the recipient of craft materials and fabrics.  My Aunt, she had much better taste which means the yardage isn't as easily costume-fied. 
Something like that.  No one wants to go out on Halloween in blue cotton broadcloth.  Besides, there wasn't enough blue cotton broadcloth to pull something more than this:

Are you Sting on spice or are you just happy to see me?
What I'm saying is that if you really really really need a pair of flying underpants for Halloween, I'm happy to make some for you in return for adequate compensation.  But I won't be making a pair simply because I have just the right amount of fabric in my stash.
Instead, I'm weeding out the yardage and making a few practical, non-costume items for my Etsy shop.
Please, take a look.

And please like my costume page on Facebook.

Thanks...and my cats thank you too.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

I'll fiddle with my twiddle and diddle with the middle and make a magic riddle that'll turn the giant little.

My fifteen year old son has discovered Dungeons and Dragons.

We took him out to dinner at The Spaghetti Factory last month and a roaming balloon artist made him this:

Neither the dinner or the hat has anything to do with Dungeons and Dragons specifically, I'm just illustrating what kinds of goings on in this kid's brain makes D&D an attractive pastime. 
Today my son went straight after school to a friends house to engage in Satanic frolickings until way past dinnertime.  He asked permission and I said that he might go if he didn't have any homework and he called from a land line.

There are worse things a fifteen year old boy could be doing and just because that fifteen year old plays D&D, it doesn't mean he's precluded from doing them.  That's why I tell him to call from a landline.  They don't install corded telephones up in the hills three miles outside of town where the kids go to drink beer and abuse abandoned mattresses.  He stayed at his friends house and had make believe adventures along with chips and bean dip.
What I'm happy about is that now, more than ever, a boy who likes all kinds of nerdy and geeky stuff is allowed to like that stuff.  Or a girl.  People who love D&D don't have to hide the fact.  They can loudly proclaim, "Bow to your Dungeon Master!" and you would be obligated to roll a twelve sided die to find out how much groveling you should be doing.

You don't have a twelve sided die?  You've got to grovel long and low for that infraction.

We bought him this T-shirt for his birthday:
He looks appropriately skinny in it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

You know what? That's not sanitary.

Every time I buy myself new underwear, I face a strange ethical dilemma of my own making. 
Since my husband was diagnosed as Asperger's, I've been exploring new thinking and old thinking, true thinking and untrue thinking.  Ethical dilemmas about underwear falls under the category of old thoughts.  I'm going to write about it. 
It's fun to buy new underwear.  New underwear holds so much promise.  It's fresh.  It's bright.  It fits better.  Sometimes it's sexy so that when you walk from your bureau to your bathroom wearing just your underwear, your husband grunts at you when you cross in front of the television.
My old underwear was still in good shape but it was falling off my behind. This is part of my ethical dilemma and old thinking...spending perfectly good money on new underwear when the old underwear hasn't worn itself so thin that you could tell if I was circumcised or not.
That joke doesn't work because I'm a girl.  I haven't got a better one so you'll just have to stay with that imagery.  Let me know when you're finished.
The second part is after I've decided to buy underwear that will stay on my body, I hesitate to throw away the old underwear, because there might be a perfectly good use for all that cotton knit.
I want to emphasize right here and now that my old underwear did indeed end up in the trash.  New thinking eventually won out.  All my old underwear went right into the trash.  After I washed them.  Because you never know where your underwear is going to end up once you've thrown it away so they might as well be clean.
Old thinking...that's the thinking I had when my hoarding Grandma was still alive, when I was growing up on the farm, when I was a dirt poor newly married mother in college.  The thinking that you use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. 

That platitude is fine and dandy when it comes to a lot of things.  There are some days of the month that it's way better to wear your old saggy underwear than to do without.  But making do or wearing something out has it's limits in polite society.   There are never days where it's better to figure out how to crochet a rag rug for your mud room out of strips of past due granny panties.
Yes, that is where my old thinking took me.  It's fun to recycle!
When my new underwear gets old, I'm looking forward to deciding against crafting with them.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It takes a lot of work to get a toilet to flush properly.

Last November, my child was cleaning his bathroom and told me that there was an issue with the toilet.
Expecting a little leak in the water feed, I soon found that the issue had grown into a flood.  That's the term to use when the toilet flushes and the flush goes out from under the toilet all over my floor.
I thought I only had to replace a toilet seal and we'd be good.  Upon closer inspection I discovered I also had to replace the tile around the toilet and the vanity to the side.  Luckily I did not have to replace drywall.
On the whole, not good.  I was annoyed at first but soon I was overcome by the tingling sensation of HOME IMPROVEMENT!  This is an activity I enjoy very much even when I cause myself bodily harm while doing it.  I could brag about bruising myself but instead I'm going to brag about an ultimately successful bathroom makeover.
The before photo of the boy's bathroom of yuck and doom:
Unusable!  But then, all by myself, I:
Removed the sink and faucet.
Removed the vanity.
Removed the toilet.
Removed tile.
Ground the cement flooring around the toilet flange more level.
Installed a new toilet flange and seal.
Cut and installed new tile and grout.
Installed a new vanity.
Shortened a drawer in the vanity to allow for plumbing.
Resurfaced my old countertop.
Installed the old sink.
Plumbed and installed a new faucet.
Plumbed and installed the toilet.
Installed bead board paneling.
Installed new trim.
Installed a new wall cabinet.
Installed a new light fixture.
Installed new bathroom hardware.

My husband reads my list over my shoulder and begins to sing, "All by myself...I wanna be...All by myself!"

He might be too, if he keeps that up.  He can't hit one correct note out of five.
Anyhow, after photos of the boy's bathroom of dry and awesome!

I cannot recommend enough the product I used to refinish old laminate countertop.  I used one kit to do my kitchen counters more than a year ago.  They've held up to hard use fabulously.  That's why it was easy to choose this product again.  Daich Coating has paid me nothing for the recommendation for it's Spreadstone Countertop Finishing Kit, nor will they ever have to.  At $125 dollars and free shipping, the kit covers 50 square feet of ugly counter without odor, mess or much hassle.  It comes in several colors.  I chose ivory.
I chose this color blue as it matched my master bathroom.  I like this color so much that I painted my kitchen bar this weekend.  It adds a lot to the whole room. 

Next up, refitting my pantry.  I love power tools.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

An Open Letter to Rachel Canning (Who I know nothing about, except what I saw in the news and could glean from her Facebook page.)

All day I've been chuckling over the news story of the eighteen year old New Jersey high school student suing her parents for support.

Have a YouTube:

Dear Rachel,
I apologize for chuckling, but I laugh because, oh girly, you don't know how good ya had it.

...and you don't know how good you're about to have it.

Because when you are eighteen years old, you've graduated high school, you've got a job, you're living on your own, and you're paying your own way, you can make all your own choices and do exactly as you like.

That's the gift your parents have given you and the gift Judge Peter Bogaard has given you.  The opportunity to make it on your own steam.  The opportunity to know exactly what you are capable of.  The opportunity to find value in what you've worked for.  The opportunity to take responsibility for and learn from the consequences of your own mistakes.

That makes you one lucky young woman.  You can take that and run.

As a parent of a kid just older than you are, a kid just younger than you are (who I would have named Rachel had he been a girl), and a kid a decade behind you, I can't say that your family life and rules were much different than in my house, not that my telling you so would make you feel any better this evening.

...Well except that I didn't provide my oldest with a car, because he didn't meet the line we'd drawn as parents to earn that privilege.  Had he met that line, he would have had to pay for his own gas and his own car insurance.  My other kids won't find the car rules any different.  Otherwise, their legs aren't painted on.

We don't provide our kids with cell phones unless they can demonstrate a need for them, and then if they do need them, they will have to find a way to earn money to pay for it, and there will still be parental controls in place.  Portable wifi-capable devices for kids aren't allowed in my home.  If they are minding their manners they can access all that on the desktop in the family room where I can monitor them.

We weren't going to finance a private school education because that money just wasn't in the bank.  Public school can be a great education if you work at it.  Likewise, we are limited in funding extracurricular activities and school social functions, both because it's not in the bank and because those extras and a social life are earned, not given.  Nor are we banking entire college educations because if they are responsible for half of it or more, it won't be a wasted experience.  Scholarships are much emphasized any way you can get them.  (Someday let me tell you about the whiny over-funded girl I stared down in one of my college classes.  Her sense of entitlement was outrageous.)

We wouldn't allow our kids to continue in those extracurricular activities at all, despite great grades and scholarship offers, if they had been caught drinking under age or had ever been suspended from school.  Even if their cheer leading squad had earned a spot at nationals.  In my house that's serious and won't be tolerated.  If there is any drug use at all I'm going to be the first one to call the authorities.

We scrutinize and judge the kids my kids hang out with and my kids know it.  If we have to limit time with those kids, friends or romantic interests, we will, because that is our job and our right.  Again, a social life is earned, not given.

While in my home, even if my kids are living with us at age 35 which I hope they are not unless it was an emergency, they will still have to be polite, be orderly, be a contributor to the household, and let us know how late they will be when they are out.  When they are under eighteen these are rules meant to help them develop into considerate adults and to keep them safe.  When they are over eighteen these are expected because I will have raised considerate adults.

With all this I remind my kids exactly what I said above...when you're 18, job, paying your own bills, yada yada, do what you like.  I'm serious about that too.  If they want to ride the roller coaster with the rest of the grownups, I won't stop them from that point on, with all the fun grownup stuff that entails.

I'm told that my kids will hate me and my husband for our house rules.  That's okay.  I comfort myself with the fact that neurologically it won't last.  You see, the last parts of the brain to develop in young adulthood are those governing decision making and impulse control.  (Those are the same bits that make the terrible twos such a laugh riot until the kid is four years old.)   When they get older they will be able to see why I laid down the law.  By the time they have teenagers of their own they'll see it clearer than ever. 
Hopefully, and before you've done too much damage, you'll understand more of why you're parents demanded of you what they demanded of you...and I say that knowing that I have no experience with your family life and I live clear across the country in Podunkville.  From the looks of things clear over here your life has been blessed and what you've been asked to give has not been at all unreasonable.

The path you've chosen is not an easy one.  Choose it you did and you are entitled to exactly what adulthood is.
It will make you into a better woman.  Woman.  Not the girl you are now.  Count on it. 

(Ask me how I know.)

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