Monday, January 31, 2011

The Book of Revelations: Suburban Edition

So, a lot of you professed on your blogs and in person to me that you were absolutely, positively not doing resolutions. But, like me, you had some goals. How are those going for you?

What I decided to do was make sort of a small monthly goal list for myself. These would be (in theory) attainable goals that would ultimately lead to some lifestyle change that would contribute to my overall New Years Revelations.


I will say, despite my funk, January has gone really well for me in terms of my motivation. Here were my goals:

1. One quiet night a week. With the exception of the 1st week in January, done! Every week we spent at least one night unplugged and reading. One night we even played a rousing game of Scrabble. Grade: B+

2. Take a multi-vitamin every day. This is something I neglected after having Wee ‘Burb. I realize now that it’s not just about folic acid when you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, the vitamins kept my skin in check and, I believe, kept me relatively healthy while others were going down with the stomach flu and bad colds. And now because the universe is a great big ole bizzo, I will probably come down with the plague. Grade: B (I still forget to take it at least once or twice a week)

3. Invest in makeup.  Oh did I invest. I had some major buyer’s remorse after a very expensive trip to Sephora. But then two days later, my new boss asked me to fly out for a few meetings. I haven’t faced work people since June, so I was a little freaked out. But happy I had invested in makeup that made me feel more confident. Grade: A+

4. Invest in clothes that fit. I purchased a pair of $80 jeans, you guys! I can’t even explain how big that is for me. I never spend more than $30 on anything. Shoes, clothes, especially jeans. Because I can get them at JC Penney for that, people! To spend $80 at Nordstrom…well I thought it was nuts. Until I realized how quickly my cheap jeans stretched, how often I was replacing them. And I invested in a pair of jeans that look AWESOME! The confidence I feel going out in those are worth every penny. Plus I found a similar pair in a different color for $30 on eBay. So that’s like…saving $30, right? Call it girl math. Grade: A++ (seriously, this was a big girl step for me)

5. Try one new workout class. The local community center offers free lunchtime classes, so I have been attending the Rock Your Core class. Um, ow! I am amazed at what I can accomplish in 20 minutes. And it’s good for me to get out, even if so far I am the youngest one in the class by about 10 years. Also I attended a Candlelight Yoga class, which I had to pay for, but was totally worth it. Grade: A

Goals for February:

1. Make up a meal plan every Sunday night.


2. One vegetarian meal a week (can include fish)


3. One new cookbook recipe


4. Declutter bathroom closet


5. Try one new workout class or video

Did you make goals for your year, or smaller attainable short-term goals? How are they going?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Funky Friday and a Comfort Food Recipe

Have you ever just been in a funk? It starts small, then builds and builds and builds to the point that when something big does come your way, you are just too exhausted, too emotionally spent, to deal with it as effectively as you know you should?

I recently read an article that said January 17th is usually the saddest day of the year, because it’s about then that resolutions fall off and you realize (I am paraphrasing here) that this year is going about as well as the last, which is to say not that well.

For me, it started small. Scott had been telling me all year that he had heard people can get addicted to chapstick with petroleum jelly. He would always stare pointedly at the new 3-pack of cherry chapstick I had just purchased.

So I figured I would give something else a try. When I was at Trader Joes, I picked up their all-natural chapstick, no jelly.

Two days later, I broke out all over my chin. And my lips were cracking, and a cold sore was starting. I was HORRIFIED! We’re talking puberty break-out here, not just a pimple here or there. My entire face was COVERED. And if you guys ever suffered this as a youngster, it’s painful. You can feel them crawling out of your skin, and as much as you know you need to keep your hands off them, you’re just constantly touching your face. Are they still there? Are they gone yet?

This is, by far, the worst breakout I have had in probably 15 years. I had horrible skin when I was a teenager, I was constantly in the dermatologist’s office. I thought, years later, I had really gotten control over this demon. To have it come back like this, this insidious little disease, was (as vain and lame as it sounds) devastating.

I’m not proud of my reaction. My 12-year-old self came crawling out of the cocoon and promptly forced me to hide. I didn’t want to go out, didn’t want to see people.
That same week I stepped on the scale. And somehow I had gained 3 pounds. No big deal, right? Well, add that to the 5 I gained over the holidays and I was beyond behind my goal. I have a wedding to be in at the end of March and I am just devastated to get this behind with so little time left to go.

Now, what I should do? I should focus on losing what I can. Still trying to get those 10 pounds off so that I can still fit into my dress. Will I look as good as what I wanted? Of course not. But, at least I would be on my way to that goal. I should just set a new goal, right?

What did I do instead?

I skipped my gym classes, and didn’t work out at home because I was just so depressed.

This combined with big changes at work (all good in the long run, but any change is scary, especially when it’s not initiated by you), financial concerns (again, nothing major, just some things that may change future plans), and an upcoming daycare vacation that requires me to try to line up back-up care for Wee ‘Burb…well, I didn’t handle any of those well.

It just left me unable to focus, and unable to pinpoint what it is that has got me so down. I truly think it’s just a funk, bordering on a little seasonal affective disorder trying to live in 10 below temperatures and feet of snow for weeks on end.

I am happy to say I am pulling out of it. I am tracking my food, working out religiously, working on fixing my skin, having fun with my new makeup, and working out a new budget.

To that end, here is my favorite low-fat comfort food recipe for turkey chili, which I have been obsessively making every week for the last month. Every time I make this, people are SHOCKED that it’s not beef. I used a Weight Watchers recipe as a basis and added more turkey and twice as much beans as the recipe calls for.

What do you do to get out of a funk? Do you have a go-to comfort food recipe?

Turkey Chili

1 spray(s) cooking spray
1 tsp canola oil
1 large onion(s), chopped
2 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), minced
1 pound(s) Turkey
2 medium carrot(s), thinly sliced into rounds
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
2 medium tomato(es), chopped or 1 can diced tomatoes (drained)
1 cup(s) canned tomato sauce
1 cup(s) chicken broth (check out my recipe for chicken stock here)
1 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium green pepper(s), chopped
1/2 tsp table salt, or to taste **
1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste **
** I use adobo instead of salt and pepper for depth of flavor.

Coat a large pot with cooking spray; place over medium heat.

Add oil and onion; sauté onion until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add garlic and carrots; cook until garlic is softened, about 1 minute.

Add turkey; brown meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Stir to break up lumps.

Add chili powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, cumin, tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, vinegar, beans and green pepper; bring mixture to a boil.



Cover, reduce heat and simmer until meat and vegetables are tender, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What to Watch Wednesday: The Thursday Edition

Awhile ago I referenced wanting to put together a Scared Straight for puppies, due to my puppy's bad behavior of late.

I’m not sure all my dear readers are old enough to get the reference. Honestly, I was just born the year it came out myself, but it was replayed throughout the years and copied on many a TV show over the year, including Maury Povich.

It was created as a documentary and featured juvenile delinquents being placed with hard-core offenders in prison to show them what all their bad behavior and false bravado would get them in prison (these were the days before Oz, so I am sure it was put nicely, but the moral of the story was you either get shivved in the shower or you become some big man’s lady).

Anyway, I mentioned that I had two TV shows driving me to distraction.

The first was Storage Wars. The second?

Beyond Scared Straight!

That’s right, it’s baaaack!

Scott and I took Wee ‘Burb to visit her aunt and uncle at their cabin the weekend this debuted. Our roommate texted me saying: “it’s official: I am scared straighter.”

After watching it we both agreed: if I go to prison, I am finding the easiest way to off myself. I would not last 12 seconds.

I had my own Scared Straight moment inadvertently in my younger years. My mother worked as a chemical dependency nurse on a unit for teenagers who were sent to her instead of going to prison.

One day, I must have had to leave school sick or something, and for a short time I had to kill time on my mom’s unit until someone could pick me up. It couldn’t have been more than an hour, but I recall it so vividly. I watched someone going through one teen’s suitcase and impounding their razor.

I had just started shaving my legs, it seemed the largest indignity to me that not only could the kid use her own razor, but when she did want to shave with whatever approved device was used, she had to do so under the supervision of a nurse.

In fact, lots of stuff had to be done under the supervision of a nurse.

Y’all, that was an eye-opener for me. I NEVER touched a drug in my life. Not until I was given, oh, about 200 of them when I had Wee ‘Burb. When my mom came in to check on me I flat out told her: “How the hell do people get addicted to this insanity?”

Anyway, Scared Straight.

So, the first episode is awesome because it’s a bunch of chick thuglets who think they are all awesome and then pee their little jeans about 12 seconds after the bars close behind them.



Let’s just say, this is the girliest chick in the cell block.

Also possibly the thinnest.

My favorite was Diabla, not pictured here, sadly. Diabla, for those of you not familiar with Spanish, means Devil.

The best part of Diabla? Her tattoo beard.

When we saw the promos and saw “her,” my roommate and I totally thought that it was a dude with an unfortunate five-o-clock shadow.

And we’re like: “why would they have a dude yelling at a bunch of little girls….oooooh, oh my God, not a dude!”

Nope, not a dude.

A woman. With a tattoo beard.

Scared Straight. Hell yes I am!

Are you old enough to remember the real Scared Straight? Have you seen this show? Would you last in prison?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Where I Test to See How Fast You Can Hit the Unfollow Button

On Saturday afternoon it was like a gabillion degrees below zero. Deciding to stay in for the day (or well, not so much deciding as capitulating to a universe that allows weather to exist that prompts frostbite within, oh, say, 12 seconds after leaving your home), we let Wee 'Burb hang with us on the couch and watch some TV.

Yup, we’re bad parents, what of it?

One of our her favorite shows is Sid the Science Kid. What? She’s 14 months, she tooootally gets it.



The following is snippets of our conversation while watching with her:

Scott: Hey! I think they changed her dance!
Stephanie: Which one, the lesbian one? [Yes, we outed a PBS character, what of it?]
Scott: No, no. Wait, they changed the lesbian one’s dance, too!
Stephanie: Huh, hers is still pretty gay.

Suzie the Teacher: Data or dahta if you prefer.
Scott: Isn’t it just data?
Stephanie: I think it is. Dahta is annoying. It’s data.
Scott: I know it is because of Star Trek.
Stephanie: Huh?
Scott: There was a whole episode. The mean [language cleaned up] doctor kept calling him Dahta and he was like “that’s not my name” and she was like “what’s the difference?” and he’s like “well, one’s my name and one’s not.”
Stephanie: Ah. Interesting. [This is called choosing your battles, people. Were I to argue the merits of whether accepted vernacular should be determined by Star Trek episodes, I’d be entering a can of wormholes I am just not willing to deal with on a Saturday.]

Stephanie: Oooh is this the one with the chart song?
Scott: Yes, it is. I know you love it.
Stephanie: I do! That song turns me on.
Scott: Sing it, then.
Stephanie: I don’t remember the words! I just remember the message was that charts are good.

Stephanie: Did they just call Gerald a Mexican? Cuz that kid could not be whiter.
Scott: I think they said “here he comes again.”
Stephanie: Ah, that makes more sense.

What was Wee 'Burb doing this whole time you ask?

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's SuperCooks!

When Scott and I were living in his condo together, and we both had office jobs, we were pretty good about sharing food responsibilities.

At the time, I had approximately four go-to dishes. Two of which I recently found out he was less than fond of, and had only been pretending to like for certain selfish reasons I imagine you all can figure out on your own.

When it was his evening to cook, I would continually be amazed at his lack of plan.

Me? I had a recipe, I checked off said recipe to make sure I had all my ingredients. When I was ready to cook, those ingredients were lined up on the counter, in order of appearance in my dish. I pretty much viewed said recipe as navigation instructions from the flight deck: you ignore them, someone dies.

Now, Scott on the other hand, he’s flying without radar and buzzing the tower like Maverick in Top Gun.

Watching him cook was both the most exciting and most nerve-wracking experience. He just threw some stuff in a dish and while that simmered, he’d hunt for something else to throw in the dish, and then he’d top it off with a little something else and toss it on a plate.

Delicious, every time delicious.

I’ve grown some since those days in the sense that I now know more about substitutions, I have general ideas of how long each item should cook. But I still use a recipe as a guide.

This growth has come mostly out of necessity. With me working at home, it just makes sense that I handle the meals. Also because I have been trying to lose weight and eat healthier, I’ve become an obsessive meal planner and it’s easier for me to cook the meals I know I can eat rather than letting him go willy nilly and me trying to figure out the nutritional content of “um, I think I threw some tequila in, mighta been a cup, mighta been like a few tablespoons? I was kind of in the zone, Babe.”

In the last six months for money and weight loss purposes, I have become an obsessive meal planner. Sadly, winter has ruined a good chunk of my best-laid plans so far this year.

You see, when snow is about to hit Suburbia, people flock to the grocery stores like they’re stocking a bomb shelter. And guess what they do after snow hits? Yeah, the same thing.

Recently, this became a big problem when we had invited some friends over for brunch. I, of course, had planned to make a quiche and some elaborate sides that would make Rachael Ray turn spinach green with jealousy.

Then it snowed. And snowed. By the time the snow stopped and Scott had fired up the snowblower, it was mere hours before my friends were to arrive. And I was in full panic because all we had in the fridge was some eggs, milk, and less than stellar cheddar cheese.

But I was NOT about to go shopping. If I had to serve them egg on toast, I was not going shopping.

Suddenly I remembered this website a friend of mine had sent me. SuperCook is a GREAT site to help you figure out how what to make with what you have in the house. MAGICAL!

I began crazily entering any random item we had in our fridge and freezer, and it was giving me lists and lists of recipes I could make. I ended up making an egg bake with frozen potatoes o’brien and bacon and some cheddar we had left over from a cheese and cracker night, pumpkin muffins (thanks to Itzys Kitchen I always have those ingredients on hand), and banana bread.

I have to say, it looked like I had spent a ton of time coming up with these elaborate recipes, when in fact I had just whipped these things up.

So to look like a total superstar, I highly recommend Super Cook.

Have you used this site before? Do you have go-to recipe sites you use when you need to make something on the spot? Are you good at creating things or do you need a recipe to guide you?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What to Watch Wednesday: Storage Wars

One of my goals for this year was to have a quiet night each week to limit my TV addiction. This has been going fairly well, but I must confess some days have been tough.

And I blame it on two new programs that if you do not have Tivod, you should do immediately.

The first is Storage Wars on A&E. This show fascinates me and baffles me simultaneously. And if Scott ever gets laid off again, I’m sending him out with some cash and a new career.

The premise is fairly simple: you don’t pay your storage bill, your crap gets auctioned off to the highest cash bidder.

There are four dudes and a chick highlighted in this show who basically make a living off said crap. There’s Darrell who’s all “I’m a gambler,” but then you find out he’s been doing this for like 30 years, has crap in his house worth more than the whole thing, and is a total softie. He’s helping to raise his grandchild and often saves items of particular worth for her inheritance. Hope she knows how lucky she is, I inherited some photographs and a few fans.

Darrell


The other vet is Dave. He’s the one you love to hate. He has a ton of cash from his thriving consignment store, an idea born of a DUI charge that forced him to volunteer at a Goodwill store. He sold off a huge collection his dad had and now has tons of cash. Mostly he sits in on auctions and drives up the prices for other bidders to make sure they blow their wad early and he can get the units he really wants.

Dave’s a douche.

Dave

Dave’s favorite target is young Jarrod, and by extension his wife Brandi. Jarrod runs a thrift store with wifey. Wifey has a good head on her shoulders, which is why she stays and runs the business, meaning she occasionally has to let Jarrod loose to auction on his own. These are typically disastrous events where he is baited by Dave into bidding twice what he promised Brandi for zero profit.

In addition to Dave’s general baiting, the other guys bait him with juvenile jokes of whether or not Jarrod’s balls reside in Brandi’s pocketbook.

Jarrod and Brandi

Answer: they totally do. But in his efforts to deny this fact, he throws away money they don’t have. It’s both amusing and sad.

I’m also pretty sure he has blackmail photos of his wife, because she’s approximately 100 times cuter and classier than he is. You just know when he’s not out losing their money, he’s at the store playing with the used Wii games that Brandi wants to sell to pay the rent.

Lastly there is Barry who is just an eccentric collector weirdo. I’m assuming he has family money, though he claims he gets it from being an antique collector. He’s new to the storage auction game and is constantly pissing people off with his less than serious approach to what other guys are using for their livelihood. These approaches include a midget on stilts with night vision goggles (guys, I’m good, but even I can’t make this up) and psychics who helped him find a cooler full of shrunken heads.

Barry


In addition to the personalities, what I find most addictive about this show is the STUFF!

One unit had a collection of newspapers from the day after Elvis died, valued in the hundreds of thousands. And he couldn’t afford his storage fee?

I mean, my crap was in storage for a year while I lived with Scott. I paid $30 a month. My unit would have been a vast disappointment for any of these guys, though perchance Jarrod’s thrift store people might enjoy my Macys couch and hand-me-down two-seater kitchen table.

If you have hundreds of thousands of dollars in a storage unit, how do you not have the money to PAY the storage unit?

This is the only hole in the show, I want details on the owners. I want to know, did they die and nobody knew about this? Were they saving it for a rainy day and on the way to get the umbrella, they get hit by a bus? Because I just don’t understand.

Oooh, also I just finished watching an episode where they got to bid on Suge Knight’s stuff. Apparently he had hired movers to move his crap and then the movers never got paid and WHAM! His stuff is spread out in a parking lot in boxes for people to bid on.

With all the money in that man’s empire, nobody thought to pay the couple hundred bucks for the movers? Weren’t there enough worms in his life to try to profit from his crap?

So I realized this post went on and on, so I will save the second show that is driving me to distraction for another post.
But tell me, do you have random shows you get into? Have you seen Storage Wars? Do you also wonder what the back story is on some of these units? Do I need to seek professional help for avidly watching this?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Also...he said it was cool that I spent half my mortgage on makeup!

My husband's family can not accept gifts graciously…EVER. The reasons fall into a few categories: undeserving (“oh don’t spend your money on me, you have a kid to support, you have a house to pay for”), unnecessary (“we don’t need anything, we have all we need, save your money”) and just plane useless (“what am I supposed to do with this? I wouldn’t know what to do with it”).

They don’t understand that I love to give gifts! There’s nothing I like more than walking through a store and stumbling upon something that I think is perfect for someone. I think about their face when they open it, how they’ll use it, where they’ll put it.

The gift is somewhat selfish in a sense, in that I feel good giving it. And I think compliments are the same. Recently on Motherese, she took on the subject of compliments.  And our complete inability to accept them.

I commented on Motherese, telling her about a recent event where I had confessed to some people that I had spent a lot of money on makeup. I was having buyer’s remorse and was looking for a few Facebook friends to tell me I deserved a treat, I never get stuff for myself, etc.

My brother-in-law sent me a very sweet message telling me that if it made me feel good, great, but that I didn’t need that much makeup, I was beautiful without.

My first instinct, of course, was to figure out the most clever way of telling him he was certifiable. I thought “is there an icon that says ‘guffaws loudly’?”

I think about how I hate to have a gift thrown back at me, and I knew I couldn’t throw that gift back in his face. I had to accept it graciously, like an adult.

So I did something totally out of character. I took the compliment. I thanked him, said it was a very sweet thing to say.

My heart grew three times that day. No, but really, it felt good to accept it, largely because I choose to believe like a gift, it felt good for him to give it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Foodie Friday: Stock up on Chicken Stock

When I was pregnant, a friend of mine asked me if I was planning on making my own baby food and I snorted derisively.

I pictured myself in an apron, baby on my hip, knee deep in flour and sugar, hair straggly and dirty. I imagined I would barely have time to keep the baby clothed, much less fed with the freshest or organic goodies.

She was persistent and handed me a book of baby food recipes. The girl knows me well, I love to cook!

So, because I am who I am, I researched the crap out of it. I chose to make her food for a few key reasons:

1. I’m cheap. This is in accurate order, this was, sadly, my primary concern. When I researched the cost of jar food and other premade items, I realized we would save over $100 a month. Easily.

2. I like control. In this case, I like to control what goes into Wee ‘Burb’s little tummy. When I checked out how much sodium and preservatives went into even the healthiest baby food in jars, I got a little concerned. By making her food, I can control how much, if any, salt, sugar, etc., goes into her food.

3. I love to cook. Making baby food seemed kind of fun. And the fact that I could make big batches and freeze it made a huge difference. And it did end up being fun! I even learned some recipes we use now as the family.

To that end, here’s my recipe for chicken stock. You guys this is sooo easy, and so cheap. And more importantly, there’s very little sodium and you control the salt content. The recipe below has no added salt.

The chicken wings (family size, 18 pieces) cost me $7.50. The celery, onion, parsley, and bay leaf were less than $10 (for about 10 times what you need here, I buy it all by the bagful).

I always double or triple the following recipe because the family size chicken is usually cheaper, and also we use a TON of chicken stock in this house.

Chicken Broth

1 ½ lbs chicken wings (about 6 wings)

1 onion, chopped

2 celery stalks with leaves cut into 3 inch pieces

1 bay leaf

10 sprigs fresh parsley

Instructions

Bring 5 cups cold water to a boil.

Add chicken wings, onion, celery, bay leaf, and parsley.



Return to a boil and skim any foam on top.

Stir, cover, and simmer for 30-60 mins (I always go the full 60)



Remove chicken wings.

Allow broth to cool to room temperature, strain, then refrigerate until cold and remove congealed fat from the surface.

Refrigerate for 2 days, or pour into 1 TBSP portions in ice cube trays (I do this for half and divide the rest into 2-cup bags in a Ziploc).



Remove meat from chicken wings, and use in other recipes (Scott sometimes just dips them in BBQ sauce, otherwise I chop them up and try to slip them into Wee ‘Burb’s stews).


Refrigerate 2 days or freeze.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

You Can't Take Me Anywhere!

So our first date of the 12 Dates of Christmas was to The Heartland in St. Paul. The restaurant is dedicated to using small farms and sourcing their food from the Midwest and Canada.

We shared a cheese plate that had the most amazing honey I have ever tasted. Scott had the grass-fed beef osso bucco and I had the chestnut ravioli. Both were beautiful and flavorful.

But the highlight of our date night? The bread and butter. I am not a butter person, I rarely use it. So when I do, I tend to go to Brummel and Brown or another light butter or yogurt-based spread.

So I ask the waitress "what did you guys put in the butter, it is AMAZING!"

And she kind of smirks and Scott covers his face a little and they both answer: "Nothing."

She informed me it was like 80% butter fat or something.

And this, my friends, is why you can't take my anywhere.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Where I Work Out My Childhood Issues, One Sandwich at a Time

So I am at a restaurant ordering food to go, when a weird exchange happens. The server at the counter is being exceptionally pushy the whole time, with everyone. But in particular these two guys ahead of me. I had seen them pull up in a work truck, but I can see how someone could mistake them for father and son. The older guy goes first, orders and Mr. Exuberant rings him up. The older guy goes to pay and the Mr. Exuberant says “shhh, wait, I’m going to get the other guy to pay.”

So the older guy is like “what?” just as Mr. Exuberant shouts to the younger guy, who is mid-order, “you’re paying for this, right?”

And the younger guy looks totally uncomfortable and I can see him put away some cash he had in his hands and reach in his wallet for a debit card. He mutters “sure.”

It brought me back to this super awkward moment about 10 years ago when I was at Fenway Park. A little league team was sitting behind me, and I noticed one kid right away. He was gawky and wore glasses, and just looking at him you knew he was the unpopular one. If he played at all, he played right field. Badly.

But he wanted so much to belong that he was willing to play badly, willing to be part of a team that obviously didn’t want him.

He had tried to strategically place himself between the cool kids, the ones whose parents coach the team and who are star pitchers and hitters, who probably attended the clinics with past baseball stars that the nerdier kid couldn’t afford. The cool kids are all jockeying to avoid him, and when they can’t, they speak around him, as if he is not there.

But the nerdy kid doesn’t care, he just basks in the attention that floats by him.

Until the peanut guy comes around and one of the cool kids whistles at him, to get him to throw the bags of peanuts. He throws a few down to the adults at the end of the aisle, who are so clearly wishing they could throw back beer instead of peanuts on this gorgeous summer evening. And the cool kids keep signaling for more and finally the nerdy kid catches one. He clearly doesn’t know why one was thrown to him, he can’t see the kids giggling and whispering around him.

His face goes white, then red as he stammers “I…I didn’t order this.”

The kids mess with him, telling him he has to pay. There were threats that he would get in trouble. And all the while this kid looks like he might pass out. He tries to pull out a crumpled dollar bill and count some change and the peanut guy is starting to get a little miffed and snaps his fingers.

Near tears myself, I reach down in my purse to pay for the peanuts. But when I turn around, bills in hand, the kid no longer has the bag and the cool kids have moved on.

But the nerdy kid hasn’t moved on, not really, though he’s trying to smile along with the cooler kids.

It’s hard for me to pay attention to the game now, I am constantly aware of this kid moving further and further down the social pecking order.

It’s because I was this kid.

Constantly starving for attention, not always understanding that the attention I was getting was at my expense, or not caring. I took everything so seriously, I never got the jokes.

It’s possible, of course, the cool kids were just screwing around, meant no malice. Just having fun at a kid they knew would rise to the occasion.

And of course, the man at the restaurant was an adult. He could have said no, he wasn’t paying. He could have laughed it off. And probably did later, sitting at the table with the older guy.

I know he’s not going home, hat in hand, telling his wife about his day, leaving this one part out the way I did with my parents. “Yes, Girl Scouts was great. We made bread.” Not discussing the fact that the girls were planning a sleepover right in front of me, with no intention of inviting me. Strategic omissions of things that at the time were so filled with shame and confusion. He probably just went home and told his wife about the jerk server who made him cough up another $10.

But for a moment that look on his face was the same as that little leaguers, the same as mine was a thousand times growing up.

Not knowing if you were part of the joke, or the butt of it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Trying to Adjust

I’ve mentioned here that I am a New England Patriots fan. This hasn’t been a large issue here, until this year when the Patriots actually played the Vikings’ division. I expected, and received, a few glares and groans when I sent Wee ‘Burb into daycare with her Patriots jersey.

Side note: she is not allowed to wear anything Patriots-related on Sundays. EVER. We discovered early on she was a total jinx. So she is only allowed to wear her Patriots gear the day after a decisive Patriots win.




A month ago I started seeing a chiropractor (this relates, I swear). It started when I was going to get massages more often and finally got lectured by the masseuse that I was a total mess and had to take care of myself. Given our current state of craptacular healthcare, I was unmoved.

Until I couldn’t move.

Seriously, like my entire lower half was in revolt. Every time I stood up, I’d groan like an 80-year-old man. I couldn’t sit on the floor to play with Wee ‘Burb without wanting to cry. And most importantly at the time, I couldn’t work out. And I really need to kick start my weight loss again after plateauing for about two months.

Anyway, I like my chiropractor a lot, although I initially had reservations because he’s clearly younger than me. There’s something disturbing about this phenomenon, really. It started when I found out the OB that delivered Wee ‘Burb was in my same year at college and when I recently got a new dentist and spent the entire exam singing the Doogie Howser theme song in my head, knowing full well I could sing it out loud and the dude wasn’t old enough to get that reference. What? That guy from How I Met Your Mother? Cool.

Ugh, anyway, so I had reservations, but he was offering a great deal that included X-rays and he was just down the street. He had a nice office, unlike others that I had gone to in strip malls (nothing like the smell of nail salon chemicals to relax you). So we’re simpatico, he’s a nice affordable guy, his receptionist played with Wee ‘Burb once when we had a daycare issue and she had to join me. I actually like going there.
So, I go in and take off my coat to reveal my Welker jersey and he literally stops in his tracks. I think he audibly gasped and then went “rub it in, why don’t you?”
I’m thinking he’s referring to something to do with the Vikings, and if any of you follow football, you know this could mean ANYTHING. The epic collapse of Favre’s career, his inability to keep his junk in his copious Levis, I don’t know. It’s been a rough year for the fans, man, I get it. But come on!

So he points to a sign over the door that says Packer Parking. The Patriots had just stomped the Packers not 24 hours ago. Now, normally, I’m a bit of a rager when it comes to my fandom. I’ll take on just about anyone in defense of my team. But I deflated…because, come on, this guy has the power to put me in some sort of death chokehold the likes of which you only see in Bond movies…you don’t piss a guy off like that!
I tell him I didn’t know, and he allows me in the door, but the whole time he’s like “oh if we had Aaron Rodgers, things would have been different.” And against every fiber of my being I’m like “totally, yup, one game without him…definitely ruins the season…yup” as he twists my neck.

We leave fairly amicably.

I show up the next visit and hold my hands up like I’m at the airport security “look, no guns or Patriots clothing.” The universal sign of surrender, right?

And he bites and asks how I am doing and I tell him, in all honestly, I was really sore after our last session. I ask him straight out “did you give me the Packers special?” and he kind of grins and goes “Stephanie, I can only say I didn’t INTEND anything, I can’t actually control what I do when you come in wearing Patriots gear.”

Now, that’s not something you want to hear from a man who’s holding your spine. But in a weird way, it made me trust him more. What does that say about me?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Did I Say That??

Apparently the image option isn't exactly working correctly, so turn your computer sideways or trust me that they're making out.

In the past week, I’ve said some things I never thought I would say to another human being. I don’t mean this in a regretful way, or that I had to tell hard truths or anything.

Well, maybe they were.

As a mom, I knew I would one day have to utter things like “because I said so” and “for your own good” and “I’m the mom, THAT’S why.”

But never did I expect to utter the following, on a continuous loop for, oh, like every 30 minutes EVERY DAY:

“Wee ‘Burb, we don’t French kiss the puppy.”

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ring in the New Year with Some of my Friends

Happy New Year! To start your year off, here are some of my favorite bloggers, and posts this year that made me laugh out loud:

It’s hard for me to pick out posts at Absolutely Narcissism that DON’T make me snort out loud. Here are a few of my favorites:
http://www.absolutelynarcissism.com/2010/12/he-wins-i-loseim-loser.html

http://www.absolutelynarcissism.com/2010/12/im-going-to-change-name-of-this-blog-to.html


http://www.absolutelynarcissism.com/2010/11/cant-take-him-anywhere.html


It’s Blogworthy is also super fun, particularly the work-related posts which are…well, relatable for any of us in an office setting. And a funny reminiscing for those of us who used to be:
http://itsblogworthy.blogspot.com/2010/11/nick-burns-your-companys-computer-guy.html


http://itsblogworthy.blogspot.com/2010/09/its-blogworthy-award-most-ridiculous.html


http://itsblogworthy.blogspot.com/2010/08/more-ridiculous-work-shenanigans-now.html


Poor Poor Motherese is going through the “joys” of pregnancy. I find so much of what she says, in general, relatable. But if you are a new mommy or thinking of becoming one, she is a must read. Particularly the following posts:
http://mothereseblog.com/2010/12/16/food-inglorious-food/


http://mothereseblog.com/2010/11/24/say-it-aint-so/


http://mothereseblog.com/2010/11/16/rolling-with-the-punches-and-the-hugs/


I pretty much feel like I live with Tenaciously Yours, you get to know her so well in her blog! And of course she lives in my home state. She also has some really fun fashion and beauty talk, which are always my favorite posts. Most importantly, she introduced me to Revlon Grey Suede nail polish, which has saved my life and nails, possibly in that order.

http://tenaciouslyyours.com/2010/12/22/expiration-date-unknown/


http://tenaciouslyyours.com/2010/12/15/turnover-happens/


http://tenaciouslyyours.com/2010/10/09/drugstore-diva/