Saturday, February 26, 2011

A new year

Yesterday was my birthday. Work passed in a blur - the joy of peak tax season. One client after the next, no time to eat or pee.

Last night, we had reservations at a dinner theater, a new experience for us. We arrived in a rain and wind storm and sought shelter at the bar. Soon, the actors came out to greet us and show us to our table. It took me a while to realize they were in character from the get-go. We were seated with 2 other couples at a long table. Introductions were made. We were all dinner theater novices. Someone mentioned that the evening would be 'interactive' and a nervous titter went around the table.

Our server came by and welcomed us to the first annual Lollypop Convention, part of the Atlantic Wizard of Oz Fan Club. Menus were explained. Bread was served. Sweet hubby slipped out to the washroom before the show got underway. A woman in a cowardly lion suit sat down at his vacated seat, and made small talk until the rest of the actors jumped up on stage - a mere 2 feet away - and burst into song. When hubs came back in, that sweet lion sang to him from across the room and then draped herself over him when he sat down.  Turns out he was in one of the room's many hot seats.

More wine was imbibed. Soup and entrees were eaten as we watched the performance. We were drawn into the act - after all, the entire audience were actually the convention participants, complete with fictitious and seemingly on the spot made up message board screen names. We were serenaded with songs by Elton John and Billy Joel. We laughed until our cheeks hurt.

What a fabulous experience. One hopefully to be repeated when their next performance starts in a few months. It's so refreshing to take a chance on something new and have it turn out so perfectly!

Today was a lazy day. The rain turned to ice and snow overnight. It was bitter cold and messy. I did my workout in the house, running laps through the living room, hallway, kitchen and dining room; the boys and sweet hubs cheering me on with playful participation. I tried to get some sit ups and stretches going afterwards, but my helpers were a mite bit insistent that I wasn't working hard enough.
See that wet spot on my tummy? They were both sitting on me and someone had leaky pants. Lovely!
I announced this morning that I wanted to go buy a treadmill, since the laps around the house thing makes me dizzy, and I've nearly worn out the springs on the poor mini-trampoline. And sweet, amazing hubs admitted that he'd already been pricing them and even did an in-store visit to check out the offerings as a birthday gift to me. So when my mom came to visit this afternoon, we left the boys with her, took her car and went to the fitness department at Sears. The order will go in tomorrow, the treadmill I want (best sale and specs)  will be available after the 17th of the month. A bit of a wait, but I'll make do. I'm very excited - I have been dragging my ass about going to the gym and my weight loss has plateaued.

Of course, that could be due to all the wine I've had this week.

Next week is shaping up to be a doozy with over 46 hours to be spent in the tax office. Somewhere in there, I need to fit in a haircut, since these locks are looking lank and messy. Wish me luck! And send more wine. My bottle runneth out.

My princes on a day home with an uber-creative daddy.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mr Mom

The house is clean. Dishes are washed on a daily basis, laundry is caught up, floors have been swept regularly - and mopped! The beds are made. Corners full of clutter have been purged and organized. The boys have been doing arts & crafts everyday - Elliot even wrote his own little story. They are happy, energetic, sort of less whiny. I love this transformation!!

And I'm starting to resent it all.

At the end of his first week home with the boys, dear hubby has whipped this place back into shape. He's a better stay-at-home-parent than I am. I always knew that - he spent about 6 weeks home with Elliot when he was 18 months old and they had such fun.

But I'm hurt. He makes it look so easy, effortless. Why can't I? From the time I was a little girl, all I've ever wanted to be was a mom. I never had any serious aspirations for a career. When we started planning a family, the idea was for me to stay home, being the crafty, super-awesome mama I figured I'd be, until the kids (4, if I had my way) went off to school and then maybe I'd get a part time job.

Post partum depression has a way of derailing all that. I never enjoyed staying at home. I never had the creative energy to keep the kids entertained. I never had the desire to keep a clean house. Oh, I wanted all those things, but couldn't find them within myself and it just seemed too hard to keep trying. My favourite part? The snuggling. I'd spend hours cuddling on the couch, napping and nursing all day when they were tiny babies. Ignoring housework and other responsibilities - it felt right. But then I couldn't make the proper transition into wonder-mom when they got older and the situation called for it.

I'm sure it's not the case, but I keep thinking that he's purposely showing me up. That he wants to rub it in that all these things can be done if I only got off my lazy butt and embraced motherhood. That it's his way of showing me what a slack-crappy job I've been doing. He says that's not the case, and Rational Brain knows that's likely true. But then he says he just wants to live in a clean house. ANd while that might not be a direct dig, it feels like it.

But I'm sure I'm just projecting all my self-esteem problem onto the situation.

So I'll keep my head down and keep plugging on at work. The toilet has been fixed! And we have a soap dispenser now. And a first aid kit. And a fire extinguisher. Still need heat, though. *sigh* And I've developed some sort of vertigo. Keep having spinning episodes. Usually happen when I'm sitting down, so that tells me it's probably not blood pressure related. Keeping tabs on this latest development in my health saga.... I need some sunshine. And a beach. With girly drinks. Stat!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Working girl

It's been a week of changes.

On Wednesday, I started back in the tax office. It's a brand new location. The building has wonky heat. That is to say, almost none. It's hard to type and think about the financial situation of others when your hands are numb. That first day, there was no toilet paper for the bathroom. Or soap. We've since got both, but still no soap dispenser. We didn't have basic office supplies like staplers. Or paperclips. There's no kettle, but there is a microwave. My second day there, I brought a mug from home and nuked the water for my tea - classy. But, we're seeing clients and making them happy and in this business, that's what really matters.

On Thursday, we took Elliot to register him for 'big school' in September. Miraculously, he was a little angel while we sat in the principal's office (a remarkably young woman who looked a lot like a dark haired Kim Raver) and he happily drew pictures while we filled out forms. He even left one specifically for her - a really neat stegosaurus car. As we left the school, the whining and protesting and baby talk that had been plaguing us all day returned in full force. Nap skipping sucks. We'll go back for a half-day orientation in June. Eep!

This coming week and for most of the next 3 months, I'll be in the office 5 days, including today. Jay will be home with the boys for about half of it. I'm still, for the moment, doing the meal planning and will be doing suppers when I can (this week, at least, I'm mostly on short days) and hubby will have to sort out the rest. Felix will still have daycare for the rest of February, but Elliot's preschool is closed for the next 2 weeks for the Winter Games. Luckily, Jay's hiatus from work came at the exact same time (but lasts longer) so we don't have to scramble for childcare. Phew!

Monday is Valentine's Day. Since I'm off dairy and caffeine and am counting stupid calories, I'm not looking forward to the big day. And the lead up to it has been torture. But I am happy about the weight I've lost so far - 12 pounds! Though I know if I have even one bite of chocolate, I'll morph into a rabid beast and eat everything for miles around. It also doesn't help that I'm reading Elliot a chapter from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory every night before bed. Poor kid, he's already got my sweet tooth. Oh, we'll make a great team!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Rainyday dark thoughts

I was raped nearly 9 years ago. It took several years before I could say I'd worked through the aftermath and felt I could call myself a survivor. It's been a struggle. And it's not done - little reminders crop up, unexpected. Little triggers come at me out of the blue.

Like the mornings when Elliot crawls into bed with me and, eventually, puts his hands on my stomach, under my shirt. I overreact every. single. time. Push him off the bed, yell at him, jump out of bed and run from the room, slap his hands away... I've done all of those, and more. And he looks at me, eyes full of hurt and whispers that he just wanted to tickle me.

It's not his fault. This is my issue.

There are times I hear myself yelling at the boys to just STOP TOUCHING ME. Or to GET OFF OF ME. I can't sit down anywhere without one - if not both - of them climbing all over me, demanding hugs or "uppy". They want to touch me, pat me, rub my arms and sometimes it can make my skin crawl. Now this could very well be an overblown reaction to the complete lack of personal space I have these days, or it could have something to do with what happened 8 years ago. Whatever the case, I really need to deal with it an move on. Again.

Somedays I just don't want to have to struggle through anymore. I just want to be me; depressed, whiny, lazy and alone. That sounds like heaven. Then I look at the boys and see how lucky I am. Even though they have no concept of boundaries, even though they grind their little elbows and knees into me while I'm trying to read or sleep,  even when they're jumping on my head or back when I try to do yoga, they are innocent and full of wonder. They have unconditional love and affection.

I know I don't take enough time to slow down, to just be with them, watching them learn and explore. I know I should. These magical little creatures are growing up way to fast. And dear hubs and I have to teach them to be good people. It's a daunting task that gives me more than just a bit of worry. We're shaping lives here and I feel I'm doing a crappy-ass job of it. When Elliot jumps on his brother, demanding a hug or a toy and Felix says no but Elliot goes ahead anyway, I catch my breath, because in a second, I'll be yelling at him to LISTEN WHEN SOMEONE SAYS NO. Life is fierce, and it shapes you.

...And those are the thoughts swirling around in my head this rainy morning.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I won! I won! I won!

Months ago, a fellow blogger was giving away the GMBOA - Golden Minion Box of Awesomeness. Sadly, I didn't win. But I've been following that golden box around, biding my time. And my time has come! After 3 days of answering questions over at Amy's blog, where she awarded random points to everyone, my name was put into a number generator and I won! Woot!!

Soon, it will arrive in the mail, and seeing that my birthday is in 3 weeks, February is shaping up to be a great month!!*squeeeeee* When it arrives, dear readers, it'll be my turn to give it away. To you! Stay tuned... and in the meantime, check out Whimsy's lyrical and evocative writing over at The Creamery - become a 'minion' by following the blog (read Bethsix's tutorial here) and then you'll be one step closer to qualifying to win the GMBOA for yourself when the time comes.

*happy dance*

So speaking of awesome, I'm spending the day making dairy-free yogurt and cheese for my now dairy-free family. Following the guidance of The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, by Jo Stepaniak. I'm going to try my own brie, made with cashews and nutritional yeast. I might even try a mocha fudge pie - which would hopefully turn out like my favourite Chocolate Tofu Pie at a local organic restaurant. This stuff is addictive.

I've got soy milk in the crock pot right now, for yogurt. It might be an epic fail - the last time I tried a dairy-free yogurt, I used almond milk and gelatin, which curdled and looked disgusting. But Silk brand soy milk has some binding agents added, so it might be more successful. And this time I'll be sure to actually follow the instructions on the gelatin packet. So I'm cautiously optimistic. Plus, I know it's been done before, I found this neat allergy food blog that modified the original crock pot recipe.

I'm excited to try a Mac & Cheez sauce from the book... I hope they eat it. Mac & Cheese is on our family meal plan for later this week. And a huge favourite for the boys. I usually make a white sauce from flour, butter and milk; add lots of cheese and spices, then pour it over cooked noodles and broccoli and bake it. Delish!  So we'll see what this 'uncheese' tastes like. Eep!

Until then, we'll just keep on keeping on. The boys actually ate, without comment, grilled cheese sandwiches made with Tofutti cheese slices. So maybe I'll be able to pull this off.

Or maybe these guys will get me:
I love the sharks in the tub.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Melting away?

I mentioned a while back that I had a trial membership to FitOrbit, an online personal training site. I've been mostly following the meal plans and workout schedules custom designed by my trainer, Brandon for 3 weeks now. And guess what? I've lost 10 pounds! I'm amazed at the results, but really, I shouldn't be. This is just what happens when you go from eating 3000 calories a day down to 1400.

I think I'm supposed to be following their nice slope. Oops.
There have been some bugs to iron out. The first week had me eating nothing but oatmeal and hard boiled eggs for breakfast, and my suggested dinners are still repeated at least twice a week, despite asking for more variety.  So I feed the family the meal the first time around, then make separate meals for me the next time.

I think it's the fact that I have to log everything I eat that's making me stick to it. A drawback is that it's an American site, so many of the products I eat aren't on the list, so I have to add their info in myself. And it's not saved for future use, I have to re-type each time.

It's a pricey membership. I got mine as a Groupon special.  (*Note, this is not a paid review, just a product I'm trying out for myself and thought I'd share!) Maybe I'm not getting the best of the best experience because I didn't pay full price? I certainly don't value the service I'm getting at their regular price of $194. But it's been a helpful starting point for me. I just need to stick with it. Twenty pounds left to go!

I sure do miss eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I know it wasn't healthy, I know I hated my body. But I know I miss food. But it is getting better - the last 2 days I've been less hungry and have been sticking to my meal plan better - not as much cheating because I'm starving!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Don't forget the sprinkles!

I'd like to be pregnant again.

Only so I could eat what I wanted - another child right now would snap what thin threads of sanity I have left!

Ok, let me back up a bit. All I could eat during the first trimester with each of the boys was blueberry yogurt, raisin bran cereal, nectarines, apples and toast topped with peanut butter and fresh strawberries. I've been lactose intolerant for most of my adult life, probably my whole life.  One of the surprise changes in my body during pregnancy was the ability to consume dairy products pain-free. And boy oh boy did I enjoy it! Cheesecake - don't mind if I do! No agonizing pain and bloating afterwards. And ice cream ~ I ate a banana split every day for the last 3 months of Felix's pregnancy. So. freaking. good.

Sadly, these changes didn't last. Within 3 months post partum, the lactose intolerance came back. And I also developed an allergy to nickel, giving me itching rashes whenever my skin came into contact with belt buckles, snaps and rivets on jeans, my name tag at work.... so attractive.

Yesterday I got the results back from the Carrol Food Intolerance testing I had done on a whim a few weeks ago. Dairy is my #1 culprit, no surprises there. But what I didn't realize until now is that is apparently not just a "simple" inability to digest the lactose, the sugar in milk. My sensitivity has changed to - or perhaps has always been - an aversion to milk protein. So now I'm not supposed to have any dairy at all. Whatsoever. And sugar - well, I knew that one, but now there's a catch.

I picked up the tissue salt supplements today. And discovered they're in a base of lactose, so they'll be going back. Buggers.
Such fun. And guess what? These things are typically passed down and with the boys having such an awful string of lengthy ear infections and lingering colds, they also need to come off of dairy. Post haste. No more grilled cheese. No more mac & cheese (sorry, Elliot). No more Yop (sorry Felix*). No more ice cream...... no, WAIT!!!!! *Felix weaned from breast feeding to Yop yogurt drinks.

A few weeks ago, after a nasty bout of icy rain washed away all of our fluffy snow, I found a blog with a recipe for Snow Ice Cream. It intrigued me and I was antsy as all get out for it to snow again.  I certainly got my wish today! (Yes, ok, I admit it. All the blizzards this week are my fault. Blame me!)

Elliot cleans the slide...
Those poor groundhogs. Can they get frostbite? The good news is our local guy didn't see his shadow, so we're gonna get an early spring! The bad news is that I'm sure a lawn gnome could've popped out of that burrow and no one would have been the wiser, given the amount of white stuff flying around in the air!
Jay waits for Felix to catch up...

So, back to the important stuff. Snow ice cream. I went into the back yard and scooped up a bowlful (don't pack it down, just fluffy, fresh stuff) and crammed it in the freezer while I gathered the rest of the ingredients.

I goofed right off the bat and even though I was following the recipe, I added double the amount of sugar. So I had to double everything else. A bigger bowl would have made it easier. You should only start with about 8 cups of snow, 1/4 cup of milk (I used almond milk, given that we're all now supposed to stay away from traditional dairy), 1/2 cup sugar, and a splash of vanilla. (Just for fun, I put this all into an online calorie counter and came up with about 85 calories per serving!)

Mix and mix and mix, adding more milk if your snow is very dry, like ours is, until it's kinda runny, like porridge. Then add more snow, about 4 cups. Once it's firmed up to your preferred consistency, divide it and add food colouring, if you want. We wanted. Once you've reached your perfect hue, you can eat it right away or put it in the freezer to firm up a bit. Or add a wee bit more snow for some last minute chill before serving. (Something I'll do next time, as ours was a touch watery when it came out of the freezer.)

Don't forget the sprinkles!!
I found this to be very satisfying. It's sweet, so next time I won't add as much sugar. I think we'll make another batch tomorrow - one specifically for me, made with (decaf) coffee-laced milk. Mmmmmmmm. Yes please!

Ooooh, and I wonder if I can replicate that recipe we made as kids - you know, the one for snow taffy?? I remember boiling everything (while supervised, duh) in a large pot on the stove, then pouring it out into a fresh patch of snow to cool. Then pulling the bejeezus out of it to make taffy candy. Ours always turned out hard and glassy instead of soft and chewy. But I think that's because we were impatient and unwilling to pull it long enough.

The metal bowl may have been a bad idea. Or maybe a brilliant one?

Soooooooo..... how did you spend your snow day(s)?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Naps Happen

A while ago I stumbled upon a great blog called Naps Happen. It's a hilarious collection of photos of the blogger's children in a full on nap attack, no matter where they were or what they were up to.

It's gotten me thinking about the boys' naps. They've generally been pretty good about napping, but that was one of the areas we were kinda anal about when they were smaller - we were slaves to the nap routine and made sure we were home - or somewhere else accommodating - at nap or bed time. But I was still able to find some adorable pictures of the boys. Aren't sleeping kids just the most precious things? So peaceful. So calm. Makes me wish it were legal to drug them into this state.

Merry Christmas 2006. And Elliot snoozes.
This lovey was forever named Nap Giraffe.
He's actually touching the cat - a rare occurrence, since she's such a beast.
This one breaks my heart a bit. We were attempting the CIO training method and he finally wore out, clutching the bars of his cell, waiting for me to come back.
This was a rough day.
An impression of Felix's ear after a nap in my arms - pretty much where he spent the first 7 months of his life.
There are numerous pictures like this. Note that even in sleep, he maintains the dino death grip.
Elliot went through a phase where he'd throw all his bedding on the floor and sleep there.
Felix wasn't really asleep. But he was pretending to be!
Double stroller nap - score!
Felix is such a ... boy.
Elliot got tired of waiting for me to get off the computer and come help him build (yet again) his new train track. And now he's a guest napper over at Naps Happen!

I wanna get in on the nap action, too! Of course, I usually have a cat on me. As also seen here. And here.

Sweet dreams, everyone! And stay warm - seems like there are major blizzards hitting all over the place today and forecast for the rest of the week. I wonder where you'll end up napping it out?
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