Monday, May 31, 2010

Make it Work Monday: It's Not Working

I've decided to discontinue Make it Work Monday for a short while because I'm lazy. Or maybe because summer is busy. Or a combination of the two. But if you came back hoping for stain removal tips after I mentioned it last week, I'll go ahead and tell you what to use: liquid Biokleen all temperature detergent. Keep a small container of it near where you toss your dirty laundry, and rub it into the stain before you throw your dirty item into the hamper. Feel free to forget about it until your regularly scheduled laundry day; the longer it has to soak in, the better. This has worked better for me than any other stain treatment, and it's a total bonus that it's what I use to do my laundry anyway.

Speaking of laziness, I spent most of the day in my pajamas. It was fantastic. I still got some things done, but mostly things I could do sitting firmly on my posterior.

And then I worked out.

The end.

Friday, May 28, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary

What? You're saying it's not Tuesday? It's...Friday?

Oh.

Well.

Here's a photo of what I wore for OLM anyhow. Better late than never.

I think.

tuesday, may 25, 2010

As usual, you can click on the photo to be magically transported into my Flickr stream and read more about the outfit.

I'll confess to taking a shorter amount of time with Mary than usual; there are some days I simply have less patience for her than others. I've come to love her eccentricities, but it takes a certain amount of oomph to make it through an hour-long visit, and I simply didn't have it on Tuesday. What I had instead was a box of Little Debbie powdered sugar donuts and a smile. She kept talking to me even as I opened the door wide and walked out, and I'll admit I felt a little guilty that I couldn't stay, but you know what? There's always next Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I'm Having a Hard Time Remembering What Day It Is

This week my Thursday family switched to Wednesdays, plus I've been working a whole lot of jobs on a whole lot of days, often more than one job in one day, and wow. I have just lost track of my entire head. Maybe there's a small bit left just above the neck, but it's hard to tell. I know that I skipped Make it Work Monday (you poor things, missing out on my stain removal advice) and haven't posted the photo of my Tuesday outfit for Old Lady Mary, but on those days I had other things to do (like eat cake and pretend my pants would still fit as usual), and today I want to talk about something else. You probably aren't missing those other features anyway (if we can even call them features, and I think the only reason we can is that this is my blog, and I can call anything whatever I want to), so let's just talk briefly about what I wrote about in that last post.

We still don't know if the baby is Our Baby or Not Our Baby. But something about typing it out made it better, and now I am just waiting to hear that the other family has decided to adopt her. I'm fairly certain this is how it will go. I have let go of my sense of entitlement to any information about any child, and now I am focusing on this life right here, right now. There's a summer to plan, and I need to get on top of that. There are projects I need to do in the nursery (and in the house in general) that must be done regardless of when our baby shows up. So I'm getting down to business.

Seeing the face of the baby made me realize that we needed to get some things back on track financially, so I did that. Then for a week I ceased spending money on some things I actually needed and had budgeted for because I was being superstitious. Yes, that's right, I figured that if God and the entire universe would just see that I was not spending any money, my reward would be a glimpse at the information I so coveted. Well, that was stupid. And stifling. And...not what I needed to do. So today I let it go and found a work bag (which I bought because it reminded me of an elephant's ear--all soft grey on the outside and pink on the inside), swim bottoms (it really doesn't work out if you only have the top), a travel hat (not just for Ethiopia, but for travel in general), and some earrings that will go with everything. I also bought chocolate, but that was not on my list; it was just on sale.

And I feel better. Life is rolling along again, and that feels good. I don't feel like I'm holding my breath and just waitingwaitingwaitingwaiting. When the call comes, it will come. When the e-mail hits my inbox indicating yes or no for one baby in particular, I will read it, and I will yelp in excitement or accept what is meant to be. In the meantime, I plan to enjoy myself.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Say It Out Loud. I Dare You.

It is easy, when I am driving home from a morning's errands with a toddler, to purpose to work out while my young charge is napping. I have, after all, done it many times before. I can do it today! I don't know why I keep convincing myself of these things--it's not unlike my overly ambitious to do lists--but I am certain by the time I get home that I will work out. I will! Today I put the toddler to bed, changed into my workout gear, got out the exercise mat, moved the necessary furniture, and got all the way through the very first warm-up move before I realized that I wasn't just tired, I was so tired that I could cry for no reason, and standing mountain climbers are no way to go down. I turned off the DVD and showered instead.

It's been happening a lot lately--the donning of the workout wear, only to fold it neatly in a stack minutes later, reserved for another day when I can actually get through my workout. I could blame a lot of things for this. I could detail my schedule for the past two weeks, or even the past two days, and you'd get bored but get the idea. It's just that it's not only that. There are so many things up in the air right now. There are answers I don't have. When I am well rested, it is easier to let go. When I am exhausted, it's easy to get frustrated.

I'm exhausted.

All week we've spoken quietly to close friends of the baby whose information we may or may not get to review. I say things like, "Really, either way it's going to be fine. If she's our baby, we will be so happy, but if she's not, it's better for various reasons, many of them financial." And all of that is true. I talk about how she's probably not our baby and how that's okay and there will be another baby, and that's true, too. But it's also true that I really want this baby, and I'm afraid to say it out loud. I'm afraid to say out loud, "We want her. We would sign on the dotted line in a heartbeat if we got her file. We want her." We want her, we want her, we want her. And I know that it would be the absolutely wrong thing to criticize families who make their adoption decisions for different reasons than we do, and I know that it would be hypocritical to judge a family for double checking a medical file. We, too, have a short list of things we cannot handle (or, rather, that we choose not to handle because we are given the luxury of making that choice). But with this baby, it's hard because we don't even know (nor should we) if the other family was open to special needs at all. A part of me feels like it would be incredibly unjust for a family who wanted a "healthy" baby to have the first look at her information. I know that is terrible and horrible and selfish, but there it is. We want her. I've said it out loud. If that jinxes everything, if we are never allowed to adopt a baby because I dared to say out loud what I really thought and wanted, well, I guess that's just the way it is.

And did I mention that I'm so exhausted I could cry for absolutely no reason?

I really, really could.

(Send cookies.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Change It Up

After making key lime cupcakes for (one of my) book club(s), I got it in my head that I should make a key lime cookie. I imagined it would be fairly dense and coated in confectioner's sugar, much like a Russian tea cake. I was absolutely convinced that I'd seen a recipe like this somewhere, but I searched the entire internet (well, almost) and found only cake-y, flat cookies with lime glaze. Since I wanted to make Russian tea cakes anyway, I figured I'd just try out a recipe, and if it worked out, I'd use it as a base for key lime cookies. On the first try, the recipe I used was declared very good (thanks, Losties), so tonight I set to work turning into something limey. And it was a cinch. Are you ready for my revolutionary recipe changes that turn a nut cookie into something refreshing and citrusy? Here you go:

1. Swap the vanilla for three-ish tablespoons of fresh lime juice (I didn't measure, so, uh, sorry).
2. Add a touch more flour to adjust for the extra liquid. (I just rounded my measuring cups a bit instead of leveling them off.)
3. Swap the chopped nuts for two to three tablespoons of lime zest--or four if you're feeling tangy.

That's it. Bake as directed. The cookies will be a bit softer than the nut version (in which I use pecans, by the way, as I feel they are superior to walnuts), but hold together well and taste fantastic.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary

Wait..it's before 10pm on a Tuesday and I'm already posting this week's Old Lady Mary outfit? What has become of me? I've got lots of other things to do and a list I'd like to check things off of; that's what's become of me. Without further ado:

tuesday, may 18, 2010
Click on through to see the outfit details.

This outfit is still on my body and still going strong. Onward to house de-cluttering and Lost watching! (I'd add "and dinner making," but I'm just putting a frozen pizza in the oven. I think that's called "dinner heating" or "dinner totally slacking off.")

Adjust

I have decided to accept that by the end of the week I may be a bloated, dull-eyed version of my former vibrant self. It seems I've bitten off more than I can comfortably chew. And I hate that overly full feeling. Of course I'll get everything done; I'll show up for every job and clean my house to host a potluck and keep showing up for jobs and somehow I'll make it. And I'll try to make it with fewer stops into Starbucks than I've been allowing myself. That's what I do when I get too busy and totally stressed, and I need to stop it. I think what drives me to the door of my local 'bucks is that not only is there the offer of caffeinated deliciousness, but everyone is always so kind to me. It's like Cheers! They know my name! And my drink! And that I always take a receipt!

Frankly, it feels awesome to walk through that door. It smells nice in there, too.

But on Friday we saw the face of an unexpected someone on a waiting child list, and though we're not first in line to view her information, if the other family declines to adopt her, we could be viewing her info next week*. Or there could be another someone just around the corner, and that could be it. And while we wouldn't be completely screwed financially, it would be a challenge, and we'd need help, and I really don't feel like I can ask others for financial help when I've been helping myself to really expensive coffees most days of the week. So I'm putting my money where my need is, and I'll be bulking up our adoption account as much as possible for that little someone someday, whether it's a week from now or a year from now. I want to do right not only by our daughter, but by the wealth we've been given and by the friends that have helped us along the way.

I'm sure the baristas will adjust to seeing me less frequently, right? And won't cry themselves to sleep each night because they miss me?

*I'm treating this situation as if this is not the baby that's meant to be ours. Of course I still hope that it's a possibility, but I need to allow myself to be open to whatever ends up happening. So feel free to cross your fingers for us, but also remember that this baby could be meant for another family, one that has been waiting longer than we have.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Make it Work Monday: Do What's Right for You

A week ago I deleted my Facebook account. A lot of people have asked why, or come out on the defensive as to why they are keeping their accounts, and I want to make it clear that I am doing what I need to do, and I in no way expect everyone to understand or approve or want to do the same thing. I get that there's a lot of value in the kind of connections that Facebook allows a person to make, that a good many people absolutely love updating their status and commenting on others' status updates and writing on each others' walls and playing games and...all those things that Facebook allows you to do. The problem is that to me, as an introvert, the amount of information and the amount of people providing that information and commenting on the information is overwhelming. To me, it also feels impersonal. I realize that I'm a bit of a hypocrite here, as I use Twitter and share links from time to time, but because Twitter is so much simpler, I can handle it.

I felt pressure on Facebook--pressure to write on others' walls if they wrote on mine, pressure to notice if it was someone's birthday and say something to them, pressure to say only certain things in certain ways for fear of being judged or misunderstood (or both). And the more "sharing" Facebook wanted me to accept (or simply notice so that I could go back to my privacy settings again and readjust), the less I wanted to be there. I loved the part wherein I could find friends I'd not heard from in years but hated everything else. When I weighed pros and cons of keeping the account, being able to look up old friends was honestly my only item on the list of pros. The cons list, however, was quite long. It was time. I deleted. I did the right thing for me.

In the world of social media, it's tough to find a good fit as an introvert. It's pretty simple math, really. Introverts feel overwhelmed by too much time with people, and it makes sense that it would extend to life online. To me, Facebook felt like a huge party that was always going on, and began more and more to feel like someone was yelling my personal preferences across a crowded room. "HEY! MARY LIKES SHATTO MILK AND ADDED A COMMENT INDICATING LIKE MIND WHEN SOMEONE MADE A POSITIVE OBSERVATION ABOUT HEALTHCARE REFORM!" Some people might not mind that sort of thing, but it made me anxious. I don't think I realized until I deleted just how much anxiety Facebook caused in my life.

If you love it, good for you. Keep your account! Share everything with everyone! Have a ball! If you want to have a ball with me, though, we'll have to meet up elsewhere--hopefully in real life.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary

I didn't get many compliments on this outfit today. It's okay; I wasn't trying very hard. Plus, I was comfortable through an early breakfast, chores at home, my visit with Old Lady Mary, grocery shopping, more chores at home, work, and shopping at Target unaware that my pants were unzipped. So that's good, I mean, except for the pants unzipped part. I think the shirt covered for me. What do you think?

tuesday, may 11, 2010

I resisted skinny jeans for a long time, but now it turns out that I love them, or at least I love the ones of them with generous enough stretch to still allow my blood to circulate. I have a pair of black corduroy skinnies that make me feel like eating a single grain of rice and half a leaf of baby spinach for dinner, but one must suffer for fashion, I suppose. Afterwards, I always make up for it by changing into lounge pants and eating a hearty serving of chocolate chips straight out of the bag. This is what I like to call Fashion/Dessert Balance. It seems to be working well so far.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Make it Work Monday: Be the Grown-Up

I'll be honest; this one is born largely out of a frustration that has been growing for years. Lately the frustration has reared its ugly little head again as I read adoption blogs, particularly those in which there is some sort of This is so hard and I am so frustrated type of confessional. Now, I do believe that it can be healing to share the hard parts of a great undertaking, but I often feel that the frustrations shared have more to do with the parent taking a child's words and actions personally. And here's the thing: it's not personal. Whether a child is acting out because they are hurting or confused or simply because it's developmentally appropriate to do so, it's not personal. I know that when you are tired and overwhelmed, it can feel personal, but that very moment is where it's important to rise above it and be the grown-up.

Being the grown-up means that we recognize that we have more years on the planet and more capacity for understanding than our children's limited time (and often trauma) allows them to have. We have to be able to be the ones to rise above personal hurt because we are the only ones who can. We need to be able to be the ones to look beyond the moment and figure out what need is behind the hurtful words or actions and do our best to meet that need. Kids will test you to find out a variety of things: if they are loved even if they behave horribly, if they can control you by saying unkind things that they likely don't mean, if you mean what you say.

To be honest, I don't have specific recommendations as to how to be the grown-up except to always bear it in mind and do your best to consider as opposed to reacting. Consider what your child has said and why they might have said it. Consider that what you decide to do with a difficult situation will carry great weight as to how they process what is going on (whether it be a bid for power or a developmental step or something more weighty). Consider that you have the capacity to choose to love and be consistent when their concrete minds have little grasp on these things. Consider that you can do research to ease your mind and reach out to others for support, and the person your child has for support is you.

Be the grown-up.

You can do it.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

When the Tough Get Tired, the Tough...Garden?

If you find yourself, after working for 9 1/2 hours and sleeping maaaybe five hours the night before, sitting glassy-eyed in front of your computer, eating stale tortilla chips and cheese you're cutting right off the giant block you got on sale, do you then decide it's probably wise to:

1. Go ahead and change into pajamas.
2. Take a power nap.
3. Change into gardening clothes so you can plant the six plants you got at the farmer's market this morning.

If you choose option #3, how nuts are you?

I'm just wondering.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

I Have a Confession I Must Make

I do not enjoy tapas. I've tried, but it's just not working for me. It's not that the food isn't tasty; on the contrary, it's usually incredibly delicious. It's just that there's such a small amount, and it's rare that there's an even number of items on the plate, no matter how many people are sharing. It seems I am always the one quietly asking, "Um, does anyone else want..that?" as my fork sidles quietly over to the plate. Or, alternately, I encourage someone else to eat the last bit and inwardly wish that they had said no. I guess I'm just selfish. Selfish and hungry. It's a terrible combination.

I apologize.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary

Yes, it's Wednesday. Late again. It's just that Tuesdays are so busy, and now I've added a new thing to my list of things to accomplish, which is to cook dinner most nights. This means that if I've got something going on in the evening, Tuesday is over before I can get any additional tasks done, including posting my Tuesday photo. I'm sure you can all handle this just fine, and perhaps the suspense of waiting to see what I wore for an eccentric, half-blind, geriatric woman will make this all the more exciting. Without further ado, here's what I wore yesterday:

tuesday, may 4, 2010

Click on the photo for details (I keep saying that just in case someone new shows up, but I'm sure you all know the drill).

After I was done visiting Old Lady Mary, June Cleaver and I vacuumed together in our heels and pearls, then compared notes on making a perfect Jell-O mold.

Okay, maybe not. Maybe I just visited a person who is of like mind both in faith and politics, and we discussed showmanship as it relates to the jobs of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. And then maybe I went to work, came home, made dinner, went to book club accompanied by the key lime cupcakes I baked the night before. I think, actually, that's pretty much how it went.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Make It Work Monday: Impulse Purchases FTW!!!

Tonight I made two dozen cupcakes in advance of tomorrow night's book club, but of course I neglected to check the yield of the recipe, and when I went over it again tonight, it turned out that I'd need to double it to make sure I had enough. Doubling a recipe is no big except when it takes four sticks of butter and you only have three. So between baking the cupcakes and making the frosting, I took a quick trip to Target, figuring I could get both butter and cheap peanut butter for Old Lady Mary.

I can never enter Target, get what I need, and just leave. The moment I step through the doors, something comes over me, and that something is the urge to browse. I meandered through the women's clothing, slipped through baby gear, and found myself in the baking pan section on the way to the conditioner. I went in with the intention of pricing cupcake pans, as having one metal and one silicone is just not cutting it--the silicone is simply crap, and that's all I really have to say about it. As I weighed the pros and cons of spending seven additional dollars to get a slightly better cupcake pan made by Bialetti (under pros I list, "Bialetti is fun to say!" BIALETTI!) or the Chef-Whatever store brand, I noted a display of cake and cookie decorating apparatus nearby. I sidled over. I saw the Nordicware Cupcake Decorator. I couldn't leave without it.

And ladies and gentlemen? It was worth the $8.99 I paid for it. To do this?

i bought a special cupcake decorator, and it has revolutionized my life

It took three seconds, and my hands stayed clean.

My hands never stay clean while frosting cupcakes, and it certainly takes me longer than three seconds to frost each one. If you're a baker of cupcakes or cakes or cookies or anything you want to slather frosting all over without a lot of fuss, this tool will make your job easier. BUY IT! BUY IT NOW!

Well, unless your Target is closed. It appears it's unavailable online.

You can thank me later.