Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Driving fear

I live in the Baltimore-Washington corridor home to some of the worst traffic in the nation. Given that I live less than 10 miles from my office and don't have to go anywhere near Northern Virginia I know I should be relieved...but I am not. It seems like everyday I have a close call with someone in a huge hurry, not paying attention or just plain reckless. In the 9 years I've lived here we have replaced a bumper 5 times and it was never our fault. We joke when we get a small scrape in a parking lot, eventually someone will hit us and do enough damage to get it all fixed at once. Its no laughing matter though--it happens with frightening regularity. Thankfully no one has been hurt much---yet.

My top traffic pet peeves (in no particular order):
  1. Not stopping at stop signs. They do not say thinking about stopping, they say STOP and the rest of us would appreciate it if you'd actually do it so we don't have to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting you. My three year old knows what it means, if you have a driver's license, you should too.
  2. Not being able to negotiate a round about or traffic circle. Around here there are lots of traffic circles that have been put in to help curb T-bone collisions, problem is a lot of people have no idea what to do. There are two main types those who don't know what to do so they just keep going and don't even look and those who come to a complete stop and wait for all traffic to clear out before thinking of proceeding.
  3. Stopping in the middle of the road is just not cool. This morning the car two in front of me stopped. Yes we were on a side street but I can't think of anything (you didn't look to be in distress) that would have prevented you from pulling over 3 feet to the curb instead of stopping dead in the middle of the street.
  4. Weaving in and out of traffic. Okay, so you got ahead two whole car lengths but you made everyone else in the line of traffic want to hurt you. Really, barely missing bumpers and making people slam on their brakes is just not a good way to start the day.
  5. Talking or texting on the cell phone. Really, the vast majority of people don't drive that well when they are paying attention let alone multi-tasking in rush hour traffic.
  6. The my car is bigger/more expensive so I can do what ever I want. Maybe its just me or where I live but it seems like there is an attitude that bigger and/or more expensive cars should get the right away and the peons should make way for them.
  7. Not reading signs. At our mall all of the entrances have signs that say incoming traffic has the right away and outgoing traffic has stop signs (I know, pesky things). People coming in stop, people going out don't. Sometimes I just want to close my eyes and take my chances.
  8. Parking lot rudeness. Perhaps not as dangerous as doing dumb things on the road but is it really THAT hard to get your car between the lines or put your cart out of the way--I can understand with a small child not putting it back in the corral but leaving it in the middle of a parking space is just plain rude.
  9. Merging, this is the scariest moment of my day, trying to merge from a ramp into traffic. People creep down the ramp not having enough speed to get into traffic and then the people in traffic don't pay attention and allow traffic to merge. If you've got three open lanes to your left, do me a favor and move over a bit.

Okay, I am sure there are more but those are the ones that have frightened me most lately--tell me about them in comments if you'd like.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Being the ant--my obsession with summer produce

This weekend I felt a bit like the ant laying up stores for the winter while the rest of my family played grasshopper. I am sure all my little bugs will enjoy it this winter. There is such great fresh food available right and I want to take full advantage. Next week we starting getting a weekly box of produce from Shaw Farm CSA. This weekend I put away 4 quarts of peaches and 4 bags of lima beans to eat this winter, as well as adding to my blueberry stash.

Friday night I picked these at Larriland Farm, putting my blueberry picking total for the summer somewhere up around 15 pounds (not bad for someone who never picked a blueberry before! It was a beautiful night, there was the threat of storms and a wind that cooled things off. I was out in the blueberry patch all by myself. Although there were a lot less berries than the last time I was out, the picking was a whole lot easier, no worrying about the green ones, they just weren't there. I can home and made blueberry muffins (with a little help from the girls) for breakfast on Saturday morning. I used this recipe from Food Network. Alton never steers me wrong. They were great right out of the oven. This morning I wasn't nearly so impressed, they were a bit dry. I would guess that has more to do with my over baking in the convection oven than Alton's recipe.

In addition to the last of the blueberries I picked the first of the summer peaches. I picked just over 20 pounds (to get the discount, I am a sucker f0r a discount). It was the first day of peach picking and the trees were heavy with fruit. I had a good time ducking into the middle of the trees to find the juiciest peaches--lots of them were still on their way to even "firm" ripe. Once home I spent lots of time on the computer trying to find new recipes to make with my bounty. So much for new recipes, I went for the tried and true cobbler recipe combining my blueberries and peaches.

Fruit Cobbler (from the Gilman United Methodist Church Cookbook)

Cover the bottom of a 9x9 pan with fruit

Mix together:
3/4 c sugar
3 TBSP butter
1 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c milk

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients and then add milk and stir until it comes together. Spread over fruit (don't worry about covering the entire thing).

1 c sugar
1 TBSP cornstarch
1 c water
Pour over the entire pan.
Bake 40 minutes at 375F.

I baked zucchini bread using Gretchen's recipe and put one loaf in the freezer. Gman and I loved it, haven't gotten the kids to try it yet. I also put together a peach pie and put it in the freezer as a surprise for dessert one night next week when we are on vacation with my family. So that is the end of the baking for the weekend.

I also gave canning a try for the first time this weekend. I LOVE hot pepper jelly so I decided to give it a try. I used this recipe from the nice folks at SureJell. I am not sure how it tastes yet but it did all set up and the jars sealed (love the little pinging sound as they go). Since the jelly went so well I was on a quest to make pickles as well. I am in search of the recipe for my grandmother's sweet pickles. My grandmother is in a nursing home following a stroke and my Mom can't find the recipe. I found one on a forum that I sent to Mom to go over with grandma and see if it sounds close. It will be a big project, its a 10-day process adding boiling water or syrup to the pickles every day while they process. The end product is so worth it, both in taste and for the memories of the big crock sitting in my grandparents kitchen for most of the summer as she made different kinds of pickles. Until I find the recipe, a crock and 10 days where I have time to tend to the pickles everyday that project is on hold.

To test my pickle making skills I started out on Sweet and Spicy Pickles. Next time I will heed the warning to wearing gloves while dealing with the jalapenos! My skin cracked on my index fingers kind after using the mandolin to slice all the peppers. It was kind of like when you put Elmer's on your hand as a kid and then moved it. Not so cool when its your skin. No long term harm though, things are back to normal if a little rough today. Again, all the jars sealed, now they need to age 10 days before we give them a try.

Very busy domestic weekend. It reminded me again how much I hate my kitchen, not nearly the room I'd like to do these big projects but thinking back its WAY bigger than my grandmother's kitchen and she turned out all kinds of good stuff.

Friday, July 27, 2007

WhyMommy on Inflammatory Breast Cancer

I am stealing the post below from WhyMommy over at Toddler Planet, she was recently diagnosed with Inflammatory Breat Cancer and is working to get the word out about this fast spreading breast cancer that is often misdiagnosed. I also know a woman IRL who has been fighting the same beast. Please read on, "steal" this post and put it up for your readers to see, and join Team WhyMommy.

From WhyMommy....
We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.
Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.
Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

Damn Harry Potter

I have resisted the whole Harry Potter thing. I love to read young wizards are usually not in my genre. Gman asked Es to babysit (score husband points there) early in the week so we could go see The Order of the Phoenix last night. Win-win for everyone, except perhaps Es. We get a date, the girls get some of their favorite adult company, and Es did get to be the object of their adoring attention (oh and we brought her cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory).

I think I watched one of the other HP movies on a cross country flight. I enjoyed it but wasn't sucked into the whole thing. Last night was kind of the same, except for the few times where there was a giggle going through the crowd that indicated there was more to the story than the uninitiated weren't in on. I think I've finally been bitten. I feel the need to start reading the books. Maybe not the run-out-and-buy-it-now fever that seems to be running rampant but enough curiosity to give it a go.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

It snot funny

Well, I guess it is now, but not at the time.

I have this annoying cough. I can sit at my desk and I cough occasionally but it snot so bad. Then I went to run a meeting this morning. We are about 15 minutes in and a coughing jag hits. Bad enough since I am trying to lead these people through a conversation on a rather complex topic. Then a particularly jarring cough hits and I can feel snot sneaking towards the end of my nose. If I can't get it under control I am going to blow snot bubbles. I can feel it. Add that on to the coughing jag and I am now turning bright red and getting blow snot on my colleagues--now there is some team building.

One of the guys asks if he can get me water. I give him the hand and tell them I'll be right back and go sprinting from the room. I get a cup of water which helps marginally. Then I head to the restroom for a serious nose blowing. Really, did I need this today?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The summer sickies

Or is it allergies? Not really sick enough to take a sick day, not really well enough to function 100%. I've got an annoying cough, annoying enough that my friend in an office down the hall came bearing cough drops this afternoon. Apparently she'd heard enough. I must say her Ricola Honey & Herb drops were not bad, I was gag-free. (Yeah, I know, TMI but usually cough drops are worse for me than the coughing!)

Gman isn't fairing much better, he says his throat hurts and he has a swollen gland. We are doing a lot of horizontal parenting these days, mostly to request that the whining stop. right. now. We did give into the request for Rita's this evening. Nothing like something cold to calm the throat. He is currently giving the girls a bath, I haven't heard screams from any of the involved parties so it must be going okay.

Vacation countdown: 7 more work days until vacation
School countdown: 33 days

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Meme: 10 Things with O

I've been saving this up for a day like today when I've got nothin'! Gman tagged me for 10 things I like and dislike that begin with the letter O ('cause my dear husband knows how much I love a challenge--not sure that I even know 20 words that start with O).


Oranges-sweet and fresh, yum

Overachievers-not the out of control obnoxious ones but people like Es who just give it all they've got

Ornery Kids-When you know they are up to something they shouldn't be but you have to laugh because they are so damn cute.

Orgasms-'nuff said

Oragami-Looking at it yes, just don't ask me to do it.

Old ladies-I aspire to be one someday, you get old enough you can say whatever you want and people think its cute.

Orzo-pasta is good.

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies-leave out the raisins, give me some chocolate chips and a big glass of milk.

Organization-I have the desire, just not the time to keep up with it.

Old friends-there is something special about people that you don't have to explain your life story to, they know, they were there.


Ovaltine-just not my thing

Orange creamsicles-don't put milk in my orange stuff

Overweight-I've fought it my whole life and don't wish it on anyone!

Overdrawn-what a horrible feeling

Obnoxious Drivers-I am starting to think they are all that way here in the greater Baltimore/DC area. S-T-O-P doesn't mean think about stopping or pause it means STOP!

Overbearing salespeople-if I want help I'll ask for it, standing over me and being obnoxious is likely to make me leave

Orders (that I am expected to follow)-yeah, not so good with doing what other people tell me to do

Olives-the only food that no one in my house will eat, I just can't choke them down. Once as a kid my father made me eat one, I cried, threw up, never again.

Orthodontia-a special kind of torture that really couldn't come at a worse time in your young life

Other people's problems-really, I have enough of my own. Please don't share!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Twenty Years, Really?

I went to my 20th high school reunion this weekend. I wasn't too sure I wanted to go, I wasn't sure what everyone would be like as we approach 40. I remember bits and pieces of my high school experience and sometimes its the things that I didn't do like go to my senior prom or boat dance that stick out in my mind. When people were talking online about going to a dance club I'd never been there and wondered if I'd idealized some of my experience and maybe I had missed out on more than I knew being the fat girl.

With a little trepidation I wandered into the party on Friday night knowing that a couple of my good friends were there. I kind of snuck in and found them. It was dark, we were outside and I was trying to get my bearings. We were standing in a small group trying to figure out who was whom. The women were relatively easy--the men not so much. We all looked basically the same, a few pounds here or there, a lot less hair (no perms or spraying for height). The boys had become men, lost hair, gained bellies and facial hair. People were in small groups talking but there was lots of movement between groups. Everyone seemed genuinely happy to see each other after all these years. There were hugs, kisses and shrieks as people found each other.

The next morning it was coffee and donuts with our families and some old teachers. My ninth grade English teacher came. I had forgotten what a hellish group we had been. She was an easy target, we were a smart (ass) group and gave her a serious run for her money. She remembered it in minute detail--it was frankly a bit embarrassing and I hadn't been one of the perpetrators, I was just along for the ride. She must be in her 70s but obviously she has the memory of an elephant! My mother dug out my yearbooks, the senior issue of the high school paper and a whole book of clippings. We had a great time looking through them.

Saturday night was the big get together, dinner and dancing. More fun than either was talking and laughing. See the big smiles pasted on our faces? We laughed until we cried. My throat hurt, my sides hurt and I haven't had so much fun in a very long time. There is something about being around people who know you from back in the day and still like you that is really comforting. As much as we'd all changed, it was interesting to see how true to ourselves we really were way back then. There was a certain bond being able to laugh about things that had embarrassed us 20 or even 30 years ago. The cheerleaders mingled with the farmers, the band geeks talked to the football players, and from what I saw and what I've read online today, everyone had an unforgettable time. I've heard that you often regret more what you didn't do than what you did. I have to say I am sure I'd regret it if I hadn't gone home to be with my class this weekend. As different as our lives are now, we all have those years together in that small town that ground us and made us who we are. Hail our alma mater.

Do my boots and googles go?

Well at least she matches.... Ellie is in love with her new (clearance priced!) cowgirl boots. We had a great weekend--not at all what I expected. More on that later!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Dressed for success...more reunion drivel

I went to Kohl's a couple of weeks ago for one thing, while I was there I was struck by the panic of "what the heck do I wear to my reunion"? As I told you before I asked my HS partners in crime and they weren't nearly as much help as I had hoped. So, while at Kohl's I bought a dress that I thought was cute and relatively flattering. I brought it home and the first thing out of the kids mouth was that it was a pretty nightgown. Crap! Had I overestimated my fashion sense? I hemmed and hawed over whether to take it back. I thought long and hard about why I cared so much about what these people who I hadn't seen in 20 years thought. Then I went to my next line of defense, my stamping buddies. Among the 8 women there I knew I'd get an honest opinion--good or bad. The consensus was that it didn't look at all like a nightgown, was cute and appropriate.

We are off tonight for the festivities. In the internet world there has been lots of pre-reunion chat online. When asked about the appropriate dress the organizer reminded people that the country club frowned upon t-shirts and sweatpants. So I guess other than that, anything goes! I am sure that Gman will document the whole thing with hundreds of highly entertaining photos to be shared next week.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chaos Reigns

That is about all I can say about work right now. So instead of reading something terribly witty here, go check out my review of Noah's Pals over at Maven Says. Hopefully tomorrow sanity will return, but I wouldn't bet on it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Big hair & parachute pants

Mark Wills does a great job of recounting my growing up years (lyrics here). I'll be reliving it this weekend back in my hometown with the class of 1987, there has been some speculation about the appearance of parachute pants for those who can still fit into them.

In preparation there has been much picture posting, here is a picture of the fourth grade from my elementary school in 1979. I am third in from the left, second row from the top, tan dress and goofy glasses.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Summerus Childus Obnoxious

Symptoms of Summerus Childus Obnoxious:

  • Non-stop whining

  • Responding to every request with "no" or "I don't want to"

  • Incessant requests to go to the pool after they've been told no

  • Frequent tearful reactions to minor things often accompanied by stomping off

  • Refusal to eat anything other than mashed potatoes and Popsicles

My kids have got a severe case, from what it sounds like it might be going around Builder Mama HQ as well. Is it the different summer schedule? Are they just tired from being outside all day? Is it the influence of the older kids on PDQ? Is it the heat? I don't know, but I can say it was one of those mornings where there was no regret in dropping them off and going to work. Just five minutes of quiet, really, what a concept. I swear Boobah has no off button and PDQ's volume is stuck on 10. Less than three weeks to vacation, pray that we all live that long!

Don't have a heart attack

I finally got everyone in the car this morning and started out of the driveway when the following conversation takes place:

Boobah: Don't go I'm not buckled yet
Me (stopping the van in the driveway): Okay, do you need help?
Boobah: Yes, this thing is giving me a real heart attack!

Back to your regularly scheduled programming...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Mindless Summer Fun

We did a whole lot of NOTHING this weekend. Its been an intense couple of weeks, it was hotter than hades and everyone just needed some serious chillaxin'. I went to the gym, church, the farm market, and the grocery store between Friday night and this evening and those were the only times I left the house. I watched a whole lot of nothin' on TV--The Biggest Loser special editions, hours of FoodTV and Dr. 90210. My mind is officially mush.

I did make the effort to go to the farm market today and they had just picked lima beans. I LOVE fresh lima beans. I don't know why frozen ones from the store just aren't the same--but they are not. Growing up we cooked them, then when the water was mostly gone added milk and butter and ate it over white bread. I have no idea why, I just know that it was GOOD. Today I bought 5 pounds of lima beans. It is so hard to tell how much that is in terms of beans because the pods are so big. I brought them home and shelled them and shelled them and shelled them in front of the mindless TV. I cooked some and stuck a bag full in the freezer. They were delicious. Between that and the salad with fresh, halved yellow and red cherry tomatoes, a bit of fresh basil, mozarella and balsamic vinegar--it tasted like summer.

Es and her boys came over to share in the bounty. I also whipped up some homemade ice cream, it was our second batch since receiving the freezer for Christmas.

MM: Does it turn off when its done?
GM: Nope
MM: How long should it go?
GM: The instructions said 15 minutes
MM: How long has it been?
GM: I don't know
MM: So, how will you know when its done
GM: Last time I listened to it and I knew. Your Dad says it is when water comes out of the drain hole.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Takin' Care of Bid-ness

I've been tagged by my PIM* Jenni over at Chaos Among Us for a meme.

1) I must post 7 random things about me:
  • My middle name is Adair and I've passed it along to my youngest daughter

  • I can tie a knot in a cherry stem with my tongue

  • From the time I was 7 until last January I couldn't see the big E on the eye chart, thank goodness for LASIK

  • I've got several groups of PIMs--the working Moms including the coiner of the the term MotherGooseMouse and the second wives whom I couldn't do without (its been almost 10 years!) and the group of ladies I met on BabyCenter when we were all ttc'ing, I've met at least 1 person from each of the groups

  • I was at work at the stroke of midnight on 1/1/2000 because I was coordinating the project for my company, the facilities guy had the CEO flipped out because he was wearing his glasses with side flashlights "just in case"

  • We moved into our house one year ago this weekend--the trim still isn't up in our bedroom although the floor has been there a whole year now.

  • My big girl is spending her first camp overnight. Its nature camp and its nearly directly across the street from work so I'll be sure to peak in on her in the morning. (Pictures to come from Gman I am sure!)
2) Tag 7 other bloggers

3) Post Rules & the bloggers I tagged here.

4) Leave tagged bloggers comments on their web sites so that they know they have been tagged
*PIM Psycho Internet Mommy

Then, my dear, sweet husband awarded me this...'cause it takes one to know one--Greeblemonkey made him an honorary chick.

So I am supposed to give the same shout out to 5 of my favorite girly bloggers who deserve it...of course he already named a lot of them. I've still got Chaos Among Us, Lotta, The Mayberrys, and I'm sure someone else has done it but Notes From the Trenches and Suburban Bliss.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

You can take the girl out of the country and more

...but I don't think you can ever really take the country out of the girl. I headed back out to the farm this evening and picked another 5 lbs of blueberries. Its much quicker picking without my "helpers." It was almost as fun listening to the other people and their theories on the best way to pick. There are two distinct camps--pick everything that is ripe off one bush before moving on is the first. These people will scan the bush up one side and down the other not leaving a single ripe berry. Then there are the random pickers, they kind of mosey from bush to bush picking a little here and a little there. With the girls I followed the first method, it gave them some goals to work towards. Tonight I picked a little here and a little there--mostly going deep into the bushes for untouched berries that took a little work to get to or at the very top of the bushes where it took a little doing to bring them down to pick them. I was reminded that you can't be in too big a hurry or the really good ripe ones will fall off onto the ground--something to be said for slowing down, taking your time and experiencing the journey as well as the rewards. I stopped at the farm store and got a few more green beans and some just pulled onions as well. I am really trying to focus more on local food this summer.

On the way home from said berry picking I stopped and bought a canning pot and rack. I am determined to make some pickles this summer with local pickling cucumbers. My grandmother made fabulous sweet pickles. They were bright green from a little added food coloring and so sweet. My father used the juice as his ingredient in potato and pasta salads. I've never braved canning before so wish me luck! I also requested the recipe for this great frozen pizza sauce my mom made when we had more tomatoes than we knew what to do with. If I hit the jackpot on tomatoes I might try canning a few quarts of those as well. In the serious 'burbs canning supplies aren't that easy to come by believe it or not!

Finally, I heard this story today and had to pass it on. The receptionist at work is a dear sweet woman who is in her early 70s. She is about the nicest person you will ever meet. She's been at the company for many, many years--she used to work with punch cards if that tells you anything. Gman stopped to get me for lunch on Monday and she was beside herself, a young friend of her family was dying of breast cancer that had spread. They called the whole family in saying she only had hours to live as her liver was shutting down. It was obvious that she was distraught over the impending loss. She stopped me this morning and told me that shortly after the announcement that she had hours to live another group of doctors came in and cleared everyone out but the woman and her husband. They had been pouring over her medical records and noticed that there was a sign of a fungal infection in the early days after she was admitted. No one had paid attention. This can sometimes cause it to look like the liver is shutting down. They started a treatment and her numbers had miraculously fallen over night. The nurses were running to get the doctors every time new lab work came back because they couldn't believe what they were seeing. I really felt like this, in combination with what I've been reading lately from Especially Heather, Schmutzie, and Toddler Planet was a reminder to slow down and appreciate what I have...every. single. day. You can join in supporting WhyMommy in her fight against inflammatory breast cancer by adding the Team WhyMommy button. Head on over to Canape Sun to get your button. She is starting chemo at 8:30 AM on Thursday, keep her in your thoughts.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Wacky Working World

Wacky working world, really a www that I could live without. I sometimes think that I became a parent just to make me better tolerate the people I work with more easily. Don't get me wrong, I work with very bright people but some days common sense and communication skills seem to be lacking. This week a relatively benign request to share a limited resource got communicated up to the top of the organization as an "us against them" turf war. I was embarrassed that such a thing got raised to such levels, really they get paid a lot of money to deal with real problems. Thankfully though, my neck hasn't hurt too much, I've slept reasonably well, and I haven't lost it with anyone--yet.

This afternoon I had a meeting scheduled for a room at 1PM. At 1PM the previous meeting wasn't over, we gave them a few minutes. I checked to make sure I had it booked. Then I went in and started up my conference line. The people from the previous meeting continued to hang around and talk--really there is a hallway, other empty rooms, find one I was thinking to myself. Finally I said to the people on the phone, sorry we are late getting started, we are still waiting for the room to free up--or something like that. There were giggles around the table and one of my co-workers laughed and complimented me on my subtlety. Well, if that's what it takes for people to have a little decency and common sense I guess that's what I'll resort to.

If you'd like to hear more of my opinion, head over to Maven Says and check out my review of The 24-Hour Pharmacist. Good perspective on all the non-traditional ways to look at health and wellness alongside the more traditional path. The book is authored by Suzy Cohen known as America's Most Trusted Pharmacist. If you check it out and go leave a comment over on Parent Bloggers Network, they'll enter you in a drawing for a $50 CVS giftcard and a copy of the book. I know you love winning stuff so head on over. The mid-campaign review is this Friday, July 13.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Blueberry Pickin'

Friday night the girls and I ventured out to a nearby farm to pick blueberries. I warned everyone that they needed to go to the bathroom before we left. Did they? Of course not. We weren't there for 10 minutes before the "I have to PEE" whining started. I told them if they concentrated on finding the biggest, bluest berries it would help take their mind off their ordeal. PDQ said I was right it helped. Finally about 4 pounds of berries later I couldn't take it any more. As we drove the circuitous route back through the farm fields I spotted a port-a-potty. (Of course it was on the other side of the blueberry bushes if only I'd known we could have walked down the row and been there). We stopped, PDQ went first, was in the outhouse 5 seconds before she declared she didn't have to go any more. I reminded her of the previous half hour and she relented, I told her to hold her nose if she had to but she. was. going. They both managed to go, although there were lots of questions about the blue water and the smell and the urinal cakes.
After we got home I whipped up my favorite blueberry recipe, a lemon, blueberry pound cake that I got from Cooking Light. It is light and wonderful. It calls for a bundt pan but I generally make it in two loaf pans, one to eat, one to share or freeze. I also like to add a little lemon zest to the cake and the glaze (you have to squeeze the lemons anyway, might as well use them all!).

Blueberry Pound Cake (from Cooking Light)

2 c granulated sugar
½ c light butter
½ block light cream cheese softened (4 oz cc)
3 large eggs
1 large egg white
3 c all purpose flour divided
2 c fresh or frozen blueberries
1 t baking powder
½ t baking soda
½ t salt
1 8oz carton low-fat lemon yogurt
2 t vanilla extract
cooking spray
1 c powdered sugar
4 t lemon juice (about the juice of 1 lemon)

Preheat oven to 350F
Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes).
Add eggs and egg white, 1 at a time beating well after each addition. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.
Combine 2 T flour with blueberries in a small bowl and mix well.
Combine remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to sugar mix alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Fold in blueberry mixture and vanilla; pour cake batter into a 10-inch tube pan coated with cooking spray (I use two loaf pans instead and it turns out well and there is one to freeze!)
Bake at 350F for 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. (For the loaf pans I usually set the timer for 50 minutes and start checking, for the convection oven I go with 325F)
Cool cake in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan. Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in small bowl, drizzle over warm cake.

Yesterday I tackled blueberry freezer jam for the first time. I was glad to see that it was setting up well last night and can't wait to taste. I think it will be a nice change from strawberry during the long winter. I am reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Its really opened my eyes to the impact of eating more locally grown food so I am trying to do my part. We'll be out at the farm picking more fruits and veggies as well as hitting the local farmers markets. Not only does it reduce the fossil fuels needed to get our food to us, it just tastes better! The book is just generally a good read and I'd recommend it for anyone who even dreams of having their own little plot of land--the family commits to getting all their food from local sources for a year.

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Adventures of Kissy Lips & Huggy Bear

Later this month I will make the pilgrammage home to Southern Ohio to attend the 20th high school reunion of the Marietta Senior High School class of 1987. Just writing that makes me feel old. Where did the last 20 years go and how come some of those experiences still seem so fresh in my mind? Thinking about revisiting those times with those people has had me pondering lots of stuff some important like how amazing it is that I can pick up a conversation with some of those people after weeks, months or years and it is like yesterday. There is also the more trivial stuff, what am I going to wear, what will people look like, who has changed the most?

I sent an e-mail out to four people that I am still in touch with on a relatively consistent basis. The response from my oldest friends didn't surprise me at all. Nothing without sleeves said Huggy Bear, she has not been a fan of her upper arms for as long as I can remember and that's been more than 30 years. Thinking about her and her arms brought lots of memories flooding back including giving ourselves nicknames some time in late elementary school, she was Huggy Bear, I was Kissy Lips. Signing her e-mail LYLAS (love ya like a sis) was also something we cooked up in my parents icky unfinished basement many years ago. I can't wait to see her and re-live some of our formative experiences--band camp, toilet papering, days spent playing Barbie's at her house, the pee-pa-pee-pa-pee-pot story from the Burger Chef, and so many more. Another friend, who is nickname-less said in her e-mail but I could hear her saying it in my head "whatever my fat ass will fit in." Both made me smile because I should have predicted both responses.

Sweet and sexy,
Straight from heaven,
We're the class of '87

I just hope that in the transient world today my kids can have those same enduring friendships, people who knew them when and know them now no matter the distance. Of my best friends one still lives near our hometown, one lives in FL, one lives across the state and I am the only member of our class in Maryland. I am looking forward to our walk down memory lane and seeing what it is that everyone shows up wearing.

Monday, July 2, 2007

The holy grail, a good night's sleep

As I have written on many occasions, like here and here and here I have been fighting serious insomnia demons for awhile now...like since I was pregnant with my almost 4 year old. The last year and a half has been the worst. I thought that having my gallbladder out and stopping the pain was going to be the magic bullet. Then I hoped it might be a book on sleep, acupuncture, Ambien, herbs or eliminating EMF pollution. The Ambien helped me sleep at night but unfortunately made me feel stupid half the next day as well. The acupuncture has had some effect as did the herbs, I think that the combination has helped me leave work and finances and stupid people where they belong--out of my head and bed at night. What they couldn't quite help me overcome were my hormones. I didn't sleep at all when I was pregnant with Boobah, during the middle trimester my OB told me it was hormonal insomnia and unfortunately by the time it cleared I'd be too uncomfortable to sleep--and he was right!

So, I went back to said OB/gyn last week. After his exam upstairs and down I told him of my long, sad tale of sleepless nights. I told him how I wasn't sleeping at ALL the days before AF shows up. And the combination of no sleep and hormones was making me a no good, very bad, not nice person. I felt totally out of control, unable to hold my temper and just plain mean. We discussed the benefits of exercise (which I assured him I knew and was trying to practice), the possibility of a sleeping pill (again, tried) and finally the possibility of using a SSRI during part of my cycle. He told me it sounded like I was obviously pretty sensitive to the hormones, severe PMS or what they are calling PMDD these days and gave me an Rx to try. He told me how to adjust the dose if I was getting some relief but not enough, discussed the advantages of taking it everyday vs. taking it the last half of my cycle and out I walked with an anti-depressant.

Being 5 days before the arrival of Aunt Flo I went ahead and took the plunge. That night I slept reasonably well--along with the next four. Five nights of sleep in a row, including the dreaded two days before she arrived, which journaling my sleep has shown NEVER happens, not even close. I am amazed, I feel like a new person, no screaming, no crying, and no desire to shut the rest of the world and my family out. I only hope that this is the beginning of a long string of rest filled nights and not just the placebo effect of trying something new. So far, two nights without the meds and I am still sleeping. I am half holding my breath, expecting something to get in the way of my sleep but for now I'm going to keep up the other stuff and hope that all rolled together they equal a good night's sleep for a long time to come.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Sunday with the inlaws AND it didn't suck!

My mother-in-law is nuts. My husband would agree. Luckily she lives in Florida, today we found out from his father & step-mom that dear Mom is in NY visiting his sisters. This isn't the first time she's come north to visit the sisters--she never tells Gman about it. She's never been to visit us except that one time when we bought her a ticket and they put me on bed rest and it was about the only time I ever wished they'd make me GO to work! Anyway, enough about my mother-in-law, she wasn't involved in the show today.

We set off relatively early this morning with all four kids to visit my father-in-law in Western Maryland at the Happy Hills Family Campground. They sold their house a few years ago and bought a fifth wheel RV and this is its relatively permanent home. It was the perfect opportunity to play with his new toy, the kids could spend some time with their grandparents, we could relax in the great outdoors, what more could you want? The trip there was speedy, less than an hour and a half--thank goodness, the noise that four kids between 18 & 3 can make in a minivan is truly amazing. After about the 5th shriek from PDQ I thought I'd explode but I managed to keep my mouth shut and be happy that they were enjoying each others company.

From the minute we arrived at the campground the girls wanted to go swimming. We told them after lunch. The second we were done eating it was can we go now? We waited while Gman tried to help his stepmom use her Blackberry as a modem--which made me think I need to try that as well--and we waited and waited and he never quite made it happen. Finally we took the kids to the pool where we saw mullets, mohawks, and everyone over the age of 15 had a tattoo (or 3). While the little kids swam, grandpa took oldest SS off for a drive in the golf cart (cobalt blue no less). Apparently they had a little man to man time talking about what he was going to do with his life (he's 18 and hasn't graduated from HS yet much to our dismay). SMIL and I sat around and drank Arbor Mist (yeah, I know its just one step from Boone's Farm, but its tasty!) and chatted while Gman and his Dad had a beer. The kids played and other than the begging to go to the pool they were really good. God bless my SMIL who promised the girls that if they were good she'd let them sit on her lap and drive the golf cart a little later--serious bribery material right there! By the time we left the pleasant afternoon was fading and Boobah was in rare form. We weren't 5 minutes from the campground before she was comatose in her car seat and not much longer before all four were sound asleep. My only regret may be when neither girl will go to bed!

I must say it was a perfectly nice afternoon and I am feeling relaxed and happy. Not very often do we have a Sunday without incident--especially when all six of us have spent nearly 12 hours together in relatively close quarters. Maybe we are all growing up?