Monday, January 15, 2018

Exceptional Eats: Taco Soup

I love it when I try out a new recipe, and it's not only easy, but delicious.

This recipe popped up in my life at such a good time.  I've been struggling to cook meals while tied to these crutches, so we've been relying on easy meals and carry out.  Any recipe that is easy enough for J to handle is a winner in my book!

Plus, tacos.  Who doesn't love tacos?  Only these are tacos in soup form.  Which is perfect on these cold winter nights.

And did I mention how easy this is to make?  Seriously, guys.  It's a matter of opening cans and jars and dumping them into a pot of deliciousness.

This one's a winner!  Thanks, Pinterest, for throwing this into my life.  Check out the recipe here.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

And Just Like That, She's Five

I remember the moment when I knew she was coming.

On January 12, 2013, we'd spent the afternoon at our Goddaughter's birthday party.  People kept asking when the baby was coming, to which I'd reply "tomorrow!"  I was scheduled to be induced bright and early the following morning.

Very late that night, I got up to use the bathroom.  I laid back in bed, but couldn't fall back to sleep.  I was obviously anxious, nervous, excited, scared, and all of the emotions one feels when they're about to give birth.  As I lay there, willing myself to sleep just a little longer, I felt a pop.

I thought about how funny it would be if that were my water breaking.  I didn't really know what that would feel like, since I was in the throes of intense contractions when my water broke with Gabe.  I wasn't having any contractions, I didn't feel weird, I'd just felt a pop.  The more I wondered about it, the more I thought that perhaps that's exactly what it had been.

I oh so carefully sat up, and walked to my bathroom with my thighs glued together, only moving my legs below the knees.  I can only imagine how ridiculous I looked, trying so hard to save my bedroom carpet from a mess that no one would ever want to clean up.

I made it to the bathroom. still wondering if it could be, and stood straight up over a small bathroom rug.

Definitely broken water.

I woke J up and told him what had happened.  He had been planning to wake up early and shower before we headed to the hospital the next morning, and worried that his plan had been shot.

"Go ahead and take a shower!" I told him.  "I'm going to curl my hair before we leave."  Yes, I curled my hair so as to not look like death in any post-baby photographs.  I wasn't having any contractions yet.  I was totally easy breezy about the situation.

I called the doctor and told her what had happened.  "Pop and a gush?" she asked.  "Pop and a gush," I replied.  A neighbor arrived to stay with Gabe until J's mom could get there, and off we went to the hospital.

When we arrived, I told the nurse to go ahead and get the ball rolling for the epidural.  I knew what to expect.  Labor got super hard, super fast.  The wonderful, sweet doctor who had her nice, neat induction plan thrown out the window by my impatient baby got me settled in then went home for a rest.  Labor got faster.

I will never forget the nurse, upon realizing that the baby was coming NOW, yelling out into the hall.  "Will somebody call Dr. Bonpain and tell her to STEP ON THE GAS??"

And just like that, Margot was here.  She had the most perfect bowed lips and, I kid you not, gorgeous highlights in her full head of hair.

I simply cannot fathom that all of this happened five years ago.

I look back on her birth and think about how she just couldn't follow the plan and wait for the next morning when I was to be induced.  She did it her own way.  This is just so indicitive of her personality.

Margot does was she wants, and doesn't care what anyone else thinks about it.  I don't even necessarily mean this is a bad way.  It's not like she's some terror who bucks authority and constantly causes trouble.  I used to worry that she would be exactly that, but she has proven me wrong.  She's good and kind, and almost always does the right thing.

But she's not out to impress you.  She does what makes her happy, and if that happens to make you happy as well, that's just gravy.  She's brutally honest, and will tell it to you exactly as it is.  She is positively the most self-aware being that I've ever known, able to pinpoint how she's feeling and why and what she should do about it.

Basically, Margot is what I want to be when I grow up.

My goals are to only do the things that make me happy.  To not be such a "yes girl."  To stop worrying so much about what other people think.  I've been making some progress with this, and think that I might just have it down by the time I turn 40 in a couple of years.

How wonderful for Margot that she's already got it.

Margot is the dark horse of the family.  You didn't see her coming, but here she is, coming out ahead.  And I predict big things for her future. 

Margot, my strong, beautiful, smart and wonderful daughter, I couldn't possibly love you more. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Tiniest Dancer

For the past two years, I've been taking Margot to dance class.  Charlotte, being the little sister, has had to come along and wait in the lobby.  At first, a baby in her car seat, sleepy and oblivious.  And then a toddler, more aware of her surroundings, and fascinated by what big sister was doing.

From the time she figured out that there was a one-way mirror that she could watch dance class through, she begged to be held up so she could see.  If we were lucky, there would be a stray folding chair left out, and she'd stand her tiny self up there and press her face up against the glass.  If we weren't so lucky, she'd just lay down on the floor and try to catch a glimpse of dancing feet through the crack beneath the closed studio door.

This morning, she got her turn.

When it was time to get ready for class, she excitedly named all of the things we were going to put on. 

"Put on my pink tights?"
"Put on my leotard?"
"Put on my tutu?"
"Put on my ballet shoes?"

Guys, she was beyond excited to go the dance class.  But not before she modeled her outfit to big sister, standing in front of her saying "Just like Margot!"  Sweetest sister moment ever, perhaps?

We got there just as the class was lining up to enter the studio.  The little girls form a "Dance Train," hands on the shoulders in front of them, and walk on their tiptoes into class each week.  The look on her face when I told her to get into the Dance Train was priceless. 

She had the biggest smile on her face!  And I swear, I don't think she stopped smiling through the entire class.  Even the other dance moms, all of us crowded around that one-way mirror, commented on how happy she was.

My sweet littlest girl just had the best morning of her life. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Middle Child Syndrome

This time two years ago, I was filling out paperwork to register my first born for Kindergarten.  I was SO full of emotion.  My boy was so quiet, shy, and hesitant about everything.  He didn't take too kindly to change.  He was doing okay in preschool, until they asked him to do something that he really didn't want to do- then he would shut down.  Also, he's just a peanut.  He's a little guy!  I hated the idea that he was old enough to get on the bus and go to school for a full day, five days a week.  I felt like kindergarten was the end of a kind of innocence, and I hated that for my boy.

Now, it's Margot's turn.

Last night I downloaded the registration packet and started filling out all sixteen pages.  (Seriously, I already have a kid in the school system.  Can't they just copy and paste this shit?)  As I was filling out the pages, I was reflecting on how I felt when it was time for Gabe to start school and remembering all of those emotions.  Then I dug down deep to consider how I feel about my middle child heading off to kindergarten.

The best way I can describe my feelings is "WOOHOO!"

Poor Margot.

Don't get me wrong- it's not because I'm excited to get rid of her!  She's really turned out to be a pretty good kid, headstrong personality and all.  When she was a little younger, I was terrified of her stubborn streak and her temper.  She is strong willed, and that sometimes worked against her.  But she has reigned it in, and (usually) saves it for times when it's appropriate.

I'm mostly excited for her to go to school because she is SO ready.  This is the girl who cried we dropped Gabe off at preschool and she wasn't allowed to stay.  She was thrilled when it was her turn to start preschool.  She skipped right in and turned around and asked me to leave.  And she is ready to skip her sassy self right onto the school bus and off to kindergarten.

I can't wait to see how she's going to progress next year.  She is already so smart, which caught me totally off guard, by the way.  Since she's been unimpressed with the world since birth, and has never once felt the need to prove herself to anyone, I wasn't expecting to get such a glowing progress report at her kindergarten readiness conference last month.  Gabe was always into letters and numbers and reading, and he showed it before the age of two.  Margot just opened her mouth one day recently and started sounding out words, shocking the hell out of us.

I am so excited to see how she's going to socialize and make friends.  She sees the older girls in the neighborhood playing, and she's ready to get in on that action.

I am thrilled to see her independence put to good use.  School is so good for her, and she's more than prepared for the next chapter.  So no tears from me this time around.
And by the way, I don't think I'll shed any tears when I drop Charlotte off at preschool, either.  Have I mentioned that I'll have three mornings a week ALL TO MYSELF?


Saturday, January 6, 2018

We're Getting a Band Together

Way back in the day, long before kids, J and I loved to play Rock Band on the XBox.  Actually, going further back than that, J loved to play Rock Band (and all the video games) with his pals.  When we first started dating I had never played before, but I thought it looked kinda fun, so I tried it out.

I sucked.

Then one week J had to be out of town.  I asked him to bring the XBox and Rock Band guitars to my house before he left, so that I could practice.  I kid you not, I came home from work every single day and immediately got to practicing.  And by the time J got back into town, I totally rocked.

I'm serious, guys.  Pick a song, and I can play it without failing.  On level Expert.

Anywho, after that we played a lot.  Always with a beer.  We each had our favorite songs.  It was a lot of fun.  Then kids came along, and all time for video games flew out the window.

Goodbye, Rock Band...

ENTER 2018!

Our kids are older.  They are capable of just playing!  Alone, with each other, in the play room, outside, in their bedrooms.  The possibilities are endless!  And suddenly some free time opened up.  Add to this the fact that Gabe LOVES music and is a fan of the video games, and  VOILA!


And it couldn't be more perfect.  J and I like to alternate playing guitar and bass.  All these years we've been waiting for a drummer, and wouldn't you know it- that's Gabe's instrument of choice! 

As for the girls, they are happy to be the dancers for now.  I imagine it won't be long before one of them wants the mic.  We still need a lead singer after all.  (Me?  Singer in real life.  Lead guitar in Rock Band.) 

Gimme a few years, folks, and we'll have an edgier Partridge Family thing going on over here.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Snow Day!

There are few things in life as magical as the excitement that comes with snow.  Especially when you live in the south, and you're lucky if you get one or two tiny snowfalls a year!

I went to bed last night thinking that this would be just like a hundred other times when there was the potential for snowfall in the forecast, and yet I'd wake up to nothing.  We were all pleasantly surprised to see a couple of measly inches of the white stuff!

Although it wasn't the easiest thing I've ever done, I trekked my stupid crutches through the snowy back yard so I could snap a few pictures of my little snow bunnies.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

All the Feels

Thanks to a friend's request, I'm getting my shit together and sitting down at the computer.

Quite honestly, I have no decent excuse for not writing sooner (unless "avoiding your feelings" is a decent excuse?).  After all, I've been doing a whole lotta sitting for the past five weeks...

Let me back it up a minute.  On November 29th, knee surgery happened.  Arthritis has been bothering me for years.  I was a young 29 years old the first time I saw a doctor for knee pain, and x-rays showed osteoarthritis then.  My mom's joints have also suffered for years, so it's definitely in the genes.   

At the time of the initial diagnosis, I used knee pain as an excuse to pretty much sit on my ass and do nothing (and we all know how that worked out).  Even though I added a bunch more weight to my already heavy body, hey, at least my knees didn't hurt!  We also all know that one day I got fed up with the way I looked, and worked really hard to get into shape.  That meant a lot of crazy workouts, and eventually a lot of running.  And then a lot of knee pain.

SO...after an amazing finish at my second half marathon this year, I headed into surgery the following week.  The doctor expected to be able to just clean up some damaged cartilage and send me walking on my way, but unfortunately, the damage was worse than expected, resulting in a microfracture procedure.  This means that I am now five weeks into six weeks of post-op crutches while my knee heals...and about a month into the 6-9 months before I'll be allowed to run again.

So now you're caught up.        

I've been working through a whole lot of emotions since the procedure.  I knew there was a slight chance that the surgery could go down this way.  (I remember coming out of anesthesia and immediately mumbling "microfracture?," and then bawling when they told me yes.)  However, the doctor made it seem like a pretty remote chance.  And I knew that running would be a far way off if the microfracture were required, but I had no idea that I wouldn't be able to walk without crutches for six weeks post-op.  So yes, I've shed more than I few tears lately.

I cried first of all for running.  Running has most definitely become more than just a form of exercise that lets me eat dessert and drink beer and still maintain my weight loss.  Running has become a passion, a part of my life, a part of who I am.  It took months of regular running and even finishing a half marathon before I could refer to myself as a runner, but I got there.  I earned it.  And I loved it.  I improved so much over the past year.  I got stronger and faster.  And I loved it.  So to have that taken away for such a long time, when I was expecting to only be sidelined for 4-6 weeks, was very hard.

But I'm working through that.  I am learning to look to the long-term.  You know, the whole "short term loss, long term gain" state of mind.  I want to run for years and years.  And in order to ensure that can happen, this surgery was necessary.  It will also be necessary for me to back my mileage way down, which means this past half marathon was quite likely my last.  That fact required a mourning of its own, but I'd rather be able to run a few miles at a time than none at all.

After I cried many tears for running, I started to cry tears of helplessness.  I am a mom of young children.  I am the keeper of our household.  I am the one who handles things when things need handled.  Crutches pretty much brought that to a screeching halt.

I can use neither my feet, nor my hands.  I can hobble from one place to another, but I cannot carry anything other than my crutches.  I can shift laundry from the washer to the dryer, but I can't get it to the laundry room when it needs to be washed or to the kids' bedrooms after it's been dried and folded.  I can probably put something into the microwave, but I can't stand on my feet long enough to bake all of the Christmas cookies that Margot and I usually bake together at Christmastime.  I can give hugs, but I can't pick Charlotte up.

Feeling helpless has been extremely difficult.  But I know this is temporary, and I have gotten to see how amazing my husband is on a whole new level.  He has stepped up and taken care of EV-ER-Y-THING.  He puts the kids to bed every night so I don't always have to navigate the stairs.  He picks up the house after they get to sleep so that the mess won't make me crazy (or trip me while I'm trying to crutch around).  He cooks meals (with direction).  He drops Margot off at preschool on his way into the office and runs my errands on his way home.  He pushes me around Target in a wheelchair when I need a minute to get out of the house.  I didn't know it was possible to love him more than I already did, but I sure do now. 

I have also cried tears of anxiety.  Anxiety over what is happening to my weight while I'm doing all of this sitting.  And while I know it's not healthy, I eat my feelings.  I'm feeling sad and sorry for myself, so I eat something crappy.  And then I'm sad because I ate something crappy and can't run it off.  And then I'm sad that I can't run, so I eat something crappy.  See where I'm going here?  It's a downward spiral.

But I've lost weight before, and I'll lose it again.  I am DYING to get into the gym.  Thankfully, although I won't be allowed to run for several months, I will be able to bike and swim ahead of that.  I bought a new swimsuit and some goggles, and I'm excited to make swimming a part of my workout routine that is easy on my joints.

So there you have it.  The whole sea of emotions that I've been wallowing in over here.  Thank God that Christmas was thrown in as the ultimate, weeks-long distraction, otherwise I'd be drowning by now!

Now count it down with me...SEVEN more days until I can toss these crutches outta my life and try to regain a little bit of the normalcy that I've lost!  Until then, there will probably be some more crying over here.


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