"Which of my all important nothings should I tell you first?" ~ Jane Austen, in a letter to her sister

Monday, February 28, 2011

A half-baked idea is okay as long as it's in the oven.

Do I shirk my duties and dive into the blog thoughts swirling around in my head? I could literally write volumes right now if given the proper time and space to sit and think it all through. 

Alas, that's not even an option! Too much freakin' work.

I got home from my trip very late on Friday night, or extremely early Saturday morning - depending on your point of view. I was delayed an extra 6 hours in the Denver airport after sprinting to my gate only to find out I missed my connection. Also, I DON'T SPRINT. I don't even jog. Seriously. I think I almost died. But then I had to spend 6 more hours there and I truly knew what death was.

Oh.My.Goodness.Was.I.Bored.

Spotty internet connection and limited charging capabilities meant I couldn't stay online or watch a movie to bide the time. I read some but I was completely distracted. Too many people hustling and bustling all over the place.

Saturday morning I woke up stiff and sore. I sort of decided then and there to take the rest of the weekend off. We celebrated the hubby's 41 years young, I hung out with the boys and caught up on some of my Tivo'd stuff. 

Back to the grind today and, wow, do I have a lot to do. Plus, at home, there's so much kid STUFF to deal with - Invention Convention, dentist appointments, IEP appointments, Katie Beckett Applications, laundry, lunch money, etc. I feel like I might never come up for air.

When I do, indeed, come up for air then I hope to put together some great blog posts around what I've been reading. I'm absolutely loving Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed. I seriously want to take a highlighter and go back through and mark all the poignant passages. In fact, I think I may do just that.

If you are married you should read this book. If you are thinking about getting married you should read this book. If you are divorced you should read this book. If you at any point in your life plan to live in a committed relationship you should read this book. No lie. 

The thing is - it's all the stuff we learn after 10-15 years of marriage. It's the distance and experience. The plain 'ole knowledge we don't have when we are all in L.O.V.E. and dying to get married RIGHT.THIS.MINUTE. 

It's the things our mothers (some of them) or our grandmothers (a lot of them) went through and thought about and dealt with without actually giving it a name. They just lived it. Sucked it up and dealt with it. It's the angst wives go through - the sacrifices, challenges, juggling we all do and learn to deal with some way, some how. It's all about finding that happy medium for us "modern" wives.

More to come.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Don't forget your doubt

I have a story for you.

(I love to tell stories. They are the patchwork of our life-quilts). 

As you read here, I have insecurities. Those insecurities are a big part of why I haven't shared this blog with a wide audience. I'm testing the overall response, but I'm also finding my blog voice (if you know what I mean). I want to see what value, what information, what anecdotes (that are relevant), that I can share with an audience. Will I be funny/witty or serious/educational? I hope to be somewhere in between. 

I'm slightly introspective. Perhaps you can't tell.

Here's the story part. My boss and I are sort of friends. As much as bosses/employees can be that are male/female without any hanky-panky going on.

To be clear: no hanky or panky occurs - at all - ever.

I had not mentioned my blog to him. It's something I normally would have mentioned but I felt odd about it.

One of my boss's favorite activities is to psychoanalyze why people do and say the things they do. He's a student of human nature and figuring out what makes people tick is something he and I both think about and enjoy. (Woe to our co-workers, right? Ha! Not really - we're more theoretical.)

He was recently gone on a trip and we were really busy immediately before and after that so we hadn't had a chance to just chat in a while. Last week I went into his office and he said, "tell me a story." 

So, I told him. 

I told him I started this blog last year and how I felt about it. I told him about Joni's blog and how it had influenced me (good and bad) and I told him about connecting with Joni and the blog she wrote on sisterhood.

So my boss said to me, "Why are you so nervous about this? You're telling me this very hesitantly. Why?" Why, indeed?

Well, because I don't want to be judged! I am trying to get over that though. I mean, part of blogging is being real, right? Putting yourself out there - telling stories - and hoping they resonate with other people. I need to be brave and stop worrying about being judged. I'm trying.

In the end my boss was very encouraging. He pushed me to keep doing it and to really think about an overall message. What I want to convey. What's the point to my stories. Confound the man. (Let's see: empowerment, honesty, sisterhood? I'm thinking along these lines. Work in progress. Moving on.) 

The next day when my boss came in to work he sent me the following lyrics to an Avett Brothers' song, Weight of Lies:
I once heard the worst thing
A man could do is draw a hungry crowd
Tell everyone his name in pride and confidence
But leave out his doubt
He said he had been thinking about how Joni's blog made me feel and then what Joni had written about in regard to sisterhood. He said he went back and listened to this song and the words clicked. 

We should show our insecurities as well as our strengths. Be real. We can't create an emotional connection through shared experiences without admitting our insecurities and our doubts. Everybody has them and that is where we have the power to bond.

So this is my promise to you: I will always be real.

(And I'll work on being brave too).

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm traveling

I'm on part one of my travels - hanging out with my BFF in the Boston area. Tomorrow is part two; I'll head down to Washington DC tomorrow for a few days of work. 

I have lots of blog ideas percolating in my head and hope to post in the next day or two. I bought a book at the airport and, wow, it's giving me lots of good food for thought. The book is the follow-up to Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert called Committed: A Love Story.

I don't want to write today anyway. My heart and thoughts are with my sister-in-law, nephews, and in-laws who are marking the first anniversary of my brother-in-law's death today. All the love in my heart going out to them today.

Friday, February 18, 2011

February 21

*sigh*

This is a sad post. I'm sorry. It's where my head is right now. 

Almost 2 years ago, on February 22, 2009, I came into work that Monday morning to bad news. I walked in through the back door, into our breakroom, and my co-worker said, "Hi, did you hear about Mike G.? He was killed yesterday." 

I stood there in shock. I still had my sunglasses on, bags in hand, jacket on. I had only just said hello. To be bombarded with that news as I walk in the door is very disconcerting. I don't think my co-worker knew that Mike and I had become friends, as well as co-workers, or maybe he would have broken the news more gently. I hope he would have. I didn't say anything and walked to my desk, sat down and opened my email. I had received an email from our VP in Washington DC telling us that Mike, a co-worker and friend in the DC office, had been hit by a car walking home from his girlfriend's house early Saturday morning. Whoever hit him left him laying in the street to die. Before he died he sent an empty text message to a co-worker. Trying to get help, we assume. 

Last year, 2010, February 21 was a Sunday. I had thought about Mike that day. Remembered it was a year from his death. I had wondered how his mom was doing. I wondered what happened to the guy who hit Mike. I had heard it was a delivery truck making morning deliveries to a shopping center and he hit Mike as he came barreling out of the parking lot. He confessed, I think. It was an accident. Of course he didn't mean to do it and he panicked and drove away. I never heard what he was charged with. 

That Sunday night we put the kids to bed and we were thinking about watching a movie. The phone rang and I looked at the caller ID and told the hubby that it was his mom and he answered it. We were in a happy mood. Then I heard him say "WHAT? WHAT?" in that voice. You know, that shock and disbelief voice. I immediately put down what I was doing and sat forward on the couch. I could tell something was wrong. He was listening to his mom. Finally he looked at me and whispered, "The Sheriff's office is telling Liz that Adam is dead." He got off the phone when his mother said that Liz was calling back on the other line. Liz is my husband's sister and Adam was her husband of 15 years. 

We waited. We cried. We waited and cried some more. After about an hour we called my husband's brother and, from him, we got most of the full story. The rest would come out in the following days. 

Adam was a Portland Police Officer. For the past several years he was a Criminalist, so he wasn't on patrol - where he would be in the most danger. What a relief it was when he became a Criminalist.

Adam had worked that Sunday and was on his way home from work. He had spoken with Liz on the phone a few times. He stopped to pick up a pizza on his way home. He also stopped to rent a movie. He was within 1/4 mile of their home when the accident occurred. A garbage truck had stalled in a driveway and was rolling back into the road with no lights on. Adam slammed right into the back of the truck. They think he died instantly. 

Liz tried calling him and heard his Bluetooth pick up. She heard two men talking, heard them say Adam's name and date of birth. Liz, having been married to a cop, immediately knew that Adam was involved in something. She thought maybe he had inadvertently became involved in a crime as an off-duty police officer - a shooting, a burglary, etc. Then the Sheriff's office came to her door with Adam's wallet, cell phone, and badge.

Adam and Liz were married for 15 years and had two sons, ages 14 and 11 now. As we are approaching the anniversary of his death it is difficult to look back and remember those days. Though heartbreaking, those days were filled with love. My in-law's and one brother-in-law flew to Portland early the next day. The rest of us drove over a few days later to be there for the funeral. Their house was filled with family and friends from morning till night. Flowers, food, prayers, etc. The outpouring of support was incredible.

The funeral was an unbelievable affair. Immeasurably touching. Graveside services with an honor guard and then a police escort to the church for a memorial service. The police escort was so impressive and touching. They stopped traffic on the Portland freeways for us to pass. We had about 6 police cars and motorcycle cops in our motorcade and the others were going ahead and stopping cars getting on the on-ramps and stopping cars on the freeway in anticipation of our route. I cried as a drove.

The police chief spoke at the funeral of Adam's character, strength and dedication. That she knew he would lead the Criminalist department one day and, in practice if not in title, he did already. He was the exemplar for the team. 

There's audio of and pictures of the service here. Specifically the Police Chief's address. 

I'm astounded and in awe of my sister in law. She has been so strong, so smart, so faithful in her grief and support of her children. Her faith in God has given her so much comfort; in her heart, she knows that Adam has gone to Heaven and she will see him there someday. My in-laws were just as devastated; Adam was their other son. They are flying to my sister in law's house today to be with her and the boys on the first anniversary of his passing.
My mother in law making a funny face with Adam. He loved her.
My grief was and is profound for Liz and the boys. I have two sons; I couldn't help but put myself in her shoes. How would I feel if this happened? My husband and I talked a lot about that in the days and weeks after Adam's passing. What would we do if something happened to one of us? We keep Adam's picture on our fridge as a daily reminder of what we can lose in an instant. 

February 21 sucks.

6 days later, on Feb 27, 2010, my husband's cousin lost her 27 year old Marine husband as well. 

It was a very dark time.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Stef's Random Thoughts

  • Dude, it totally snowed yesterday! Finally. We haven't had snow since the first week of December - even when the rest of the U.S. was snowed in. Just enough on the ground this morning to make everything look a little prettier, a little brighter, and enough to make the commute interesting. 
  • I am actively making an effort to leave the office by 6 pm every night. I did last night, and was rewarded with this gorgeous sunset on the snowy foothills:
  • Last night I finally sat down and filled out the 15 page assessment called a SIB-R (Scales of Independent Behavior-Revised) for Jamie. The purpose of the SIB-R is to assess adaptive and maladaptive behavior to determine need for assistance. The school psychologist will provide his own assessment and, from those and the diagnoses we have received from doctors, we will officially change Jamie's status from developmentally delayed to Autistic & ADHD. This could potentially change the amount of resources he receives from the school district, and it has an influence on his ability to be included in various other state & federal programs for "disabled" kids. (I hate that label). The challenge for these types of assessments is to grade your own child as bad as you possibly can. Don't give them the benefit of the doubt that they can do something on their own. If you think they may struggle doing something for themselves then you must grade them low. It goes against everything that we, as parents, hope for our children - they they CAN do things and that if they did it once they can do it again. It's not fun to spend an hour thinking of your child in this derogatory context. 
  • On a more cheerful note - tonight I start packing for a trip! This trip will be good because I'm combining work AND pleasure. First, bright and early Saturday I'm flying to Boston to spend 3 nights with my BFF. We are spending the first night in Boston at a hotel and going out with friends. Woo-hoo! Then going to her house in New Hampshire until Tuesday morning when I fly down to Washington, D.C. My company has a office just outside of Washington that I travel to a couple times a year. While there I have plans to get together with two more friends and hang out with the co-workers at that office. Fun stuff! I'll be exhausted on the flight home but it should be a busy & fun week.
  • The day after I get home is my husband's birthday. What to do, what to do. I know I need to take him shopping for his gift (he has requested sunglasses) but I should think of something else. He likes a big to-do. Hmmm. I'll probably make cake balls, at least.
  • Is it too early to start looking forward to our annual summer vacation in July??

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pity party, table for 1

On Friday I was very happy to spend some time just being a mom, see my post here: My warring dualities. Then I took yesterday off and wrote a blog, had lunch with my hubby and picked up my kids from school again. The kids were happy, I was happy, and the hubby was happy. I thought about how much happier we all were and I've come to a decision.

I WANT TO BE A STAY AT HOME MOM. 

(The louder I say it the more likely it will come true, right? One more time. )

I WANT TO BE A STAY AT HOME MOM.

Or a work part-time from home mom. I'm happy to pick up a little income here and there as I can. 

I want to take care my my kids, my husband and my house. I want to get my home life in order. I want to have the time and energy to focus on just those things for a while. I need it. My family needs it. 

I would be a good SAHM. I would have a routine. Certain days I would clean house. Certain days I would do laundry. I would make time to exercise every day. I would turn the music up LOUD and not worry about anybody seeing me work out.

I would write on this blog more, and possibly write something else. I would pay bills, clean, clean, clean, and work on projects like the closets or washing all the windows. I would run all the errands I don't have time to do now, and do the grocery shopping too.

I want to be there for my son EVERY TIME he needs me in class. Both of them, really, but in particular for my Autistic guy. When he has a bad start to his day I want the freedom to be there with him as long as he needs me. I want to pick him up from school so I get the low-down from his teachers every day. 

I would be an advocate for my son and for Autism education and support in my state. 

Every day after school I would talk to my boys. I would give them an after school snack, talk about their day with them, and get them started on homework. I would start dinner while we talk so that we can eat dinner early and get a walk before bath and bedtime.

Yes, I do know that to a certain extent I am idealizing being a stay at home mom, but I also know that whatever came up I would be able to deal with it. I'm a good multi-tasker and I can make adjustments on the fly. I know it's a lot of work. I know it.

I'm gone from my house and family 10 hours a day and it's not working for me right now. I need more of the kids in my daily life. I need more "me" in my daily life. I want to write. I want to be the best mom and person I can be. I need a change in my life - my career and my health demand it - and I think this could be it.

I WANT TO BE A STAY AT HOME MOM. 

P.S. Now that I have made this decision if someone could please hire my husband at an exorbitant salary so that I can make my SAHM dreams come true I would be ever so grateful. 

Consideration for others

I read this article that really touched me. Here are some of the more poignant excerpts, but I encourage you to read it yourselves. Then, if you don't already, take the message to heart. This world really can use much more consideration, empathy, kindness, and self-awareness.
Graciousness can pay priceless dividends. And it doesn't cost a thing.
It's easy to do, if you care about other people's feelings. 
Every day, we're given the choice. Consideration? It's free of charge. It can echo forever.
http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/02/13/greene.gracious.gesture/index.html?iref=allsearch

Monday, February 14, 2011

Redefining white knights

The older I get the more I see that life is about the moments. I'm having one right now and I love it. I'm sitting in my darkened office looking out the window. It's an overcast day but that suits me fine. I'm listening to Train, "Marry Me." This has the same effect on me as listening to Taylor Swift's "Love Story." I get all gooey and warm inside and revert back to that 16 year old girl waiting for the fabled Prince Charming on his white horse. This makes me think of a flurry of pop culture-ish quotes:

Charlotte from Sex & the City:
I've been dating since I was fifteen! I'm exhausted! Where is he?
Faith Hill, "This Kiss":
All I wanted was a white knight with a good heart, soft touch, fast horse
I think, ladies, that those of us that have been married for more than a couple years know that there is no white knight to come in and save the day. Life isn't about being rescued, and if you are depending on a man to save you, support you, and buy you bon-bons you are on a collision course with reality and will soon be landing smack on your face.

I don't know what I expected marriage to be like when I got married at 25, but it wasn't a white knight to make it all better. I expected a partnership and equal division of labor (being somewhat of a feminist, if you want to use that term) with a lot of love. (Picture: vacuuming and dusting together, gardening together, folding laundry - together). I was in love in a way I hadn't been before. It was a powerful meeting of the minds (and other things) and it happened very, very fast. We finished each others thoughts. We were different enough that we complemented each other; we were alike enough that we often enjoyed the same things. When people ask, "how did you know" the answer was, and is, always, "We just knew."
July 14, 2000

Next month is 12 years since we started dating. I'm still in love - but it has changed so much. We have grown together. We still love some of the same things and we both still have our own separate passions. I think I lost myself for awhile but for the past few years I've been fighting to get myself back. To remember again what *I* like - flavors, scents, music, things to do and read, etc. I lost myself from being a mom & wife, but as I get to know myself again I think that only makes our marriage stronger. He likes my strong & sassy side. (Sometimes more than others).

We still argue and bicker and get our feelings hurt. But I don't think it's like it used to be; we aren't so self-righteous now. We've been through some things now and, for me at least, I see that nothing is ever black & white.

It's all about the moments.

I took today off from work. This morning I pulled on a jacket and shoes over my PJ's to drive my oldest to school while the hubby drove our youngest (they go to separate schools due to the Autism thing). I had just pulled into the garage and was turning my car off when my cell phone rang.

The hubby, "did you go straight home?"

Me, "yes, I'm in my PJ's."

Hubby, "I'm going to get you some Starbucks since, you know, it's a special day. Do you want cold or hot?"

Me, "hot please."

That's MY white knight. 

My guys

In honor of Valentine's Day I'm sharing my guys with you. There's only one who is really my honey, but the others all have their own places in my heart.

This is our good friend Britt, and the hubby. getting ready to enjoy a postprandial cigar. I made them a special Valentine's dinner tonight - steak sandwiches, broccoli with cheese sauce, roasted garlic on bread with butter and beer. (I also gave them both an awesome Valentine's gift so they should look extremely happy).
Feb 13, 2011
They are handsome, witty, smart-assed troublemakers who like to get together and smoke cigars and I love them dearly. (No, they don't smoke in the house. They smoke those nasty things outside even when it's 20 degrees). I'm married to the one on the right (and he'll have his own post one of these days) but the one on the left has a special place in my heart too. He's been part of our family for nearly 5 years now and I don't know what we would do without him. 
November 2006
 He brings us gifts every time he comes over. He takes out the garbage, if it's needed, splits wood, helps with dinner and, on occasion, he babysits. He lets my kids jump on him like he's a trampoline for goodness sake. See?

Oh, by the way, ladies - he's single.

Of course, my other two Valentine's are my little guys. I heart them with every fiber of my being. I mean, how could I not? Just look at them! The two cutest cutie-pies in the world. 

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Friday, February 11, 2011

I'm in love . . . with Downton Abbey

A few weeks ago a co-worker, Allen, told me about Downton Abbey. It's a new Masterpiece Classic miniseries on PBS. Allen works in Washington, D.C., and I only see him once or twice a year so I've never actually met his wife, but I know that we have something in common. This is how he knew I would like the series. You see, his wife and are both Janeites. What is a Janeite you say?


Jane·ite [ jáyn t ] (plural Jane·ites) noun

Definition:
devotee of Jane Austen: an expert on or admirer of the life and works of the English novelist, Jane Austen
You're shocked, I know. I mean, if you have read any of my other posts then obviously you know I'm a Janeite.

When Allen told me how much his wife absolutely loves this series I definitely took heed of his advice. I knew I would forget so I sent myself a reminder email. Still, it was 3 weeks before I stumbled upon that email and then I finally watched the first of four 1 hour, 23 minute, episodes.

And I was hooked immediately. I love it! It's so very Jane Austen (though off by about 100 years) in it's comedy of manners. It's wicked in a way you wouldn't expect from a British period show. And it's so well-made. The settings, the acting, oh, and the costumes! I love the costumes.

Try it. It's available on PBS.org for a limited time: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/downtonabbey/index.html. 

Here's a sample with the lovely Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern and Hugh Bonneville: 


My warring dualities

I am a full-time working mom with a fairly demanding job. I work until 6:30-7 (or later) every night. Most nights when I get home I clean the kitchen and make dinner and help with homework if needed. Or, like last night, assist in the filling out, folding, stuffing, and stickering of Valentine's. Then there's the whole getting the kids ready for bed thing. The hubby freaks out if the kids' room is messy at night so it has to be picked up. Every. Night. Then sometimes I'll sit down at my desk and work even more.

This is my daily life. 

But some days, like today, I get to enjoy the other side of me that I don't get to tap into very often during the working day. I got be a mom, just a mom, for a while this afternoon. It was wonderful. 

My little guy was diagnosed as High-Functioning Autistic as well as ADHD a couple years ago. It wasn't a shock - we knew it was something. My 3rd grader is ADHD too; the hubby and most of his family are as well so I suppose it's no surprise that the kids inherited that gene. Back to Jamie, my bubba - he's really the cutest kid. Sweet and so loving. He's my little cuddle-bug. He's learning so much. Maybe we have always low-balled him because of the Autism, but when he does something well (that is learning level appropriate) we are just ecstatic. Maybe it's because we're scared he's going to go backwards instead of forwards. Each time he reaches a milestone we are over the moon. 

He can seem normal. Sometimes he acts like any other 1st grader. But there are definitely situations we have to deal with more carefully than we would with our other son. Like when we know that his class will be doing something out of the ordinary we have to prepare him for it in advance. Talk it up to him several times and make him aware of everything that's going to happen. Sometimes I think we forget to do that as much as we should. 

It really shouldn't have been a surprise when he started being belligerent and difficult this morning. Right before leaving to go to school he got very upset because he didn't like the way his hair looked and started insisting that it be parted the other way and beating his own head with the brush. I soothed him as best I could, and then I left to take the 3rd grader to school before going on to work. The hubby called 30 minutes later and said it took him 20 minutes to get Jamie calmed down and into his class (tardy, of course). I thought, oh boy, that does not bode well for the rest of the day.

So I called the school to find out when Jamie's class party was going to be. Then I looked at my schedule and decided I could make it work. I left the office at 2:30 and, oh, I can't tell you how liberating it was! (I swear I would be an awesome stay at home mom. I would, I really, really would.) Jamie was SO excited when I walked into class. I got to watch him interact with his friends and play games and he did it all so well! You wouldn't have known he was different. My heart swelled.

When the party was over we picked up the 3rd grader and decided to get a Redbox family movie to watch on this lovely Friday night. As I was driving down the road at 4 pm with my kids chattering in the backseat I must say I was as happy as I have ever been. Oh, we have problems aplenty and I like working . . . but, really, none of that mattered at that moment. 

Yes, I would be a very good stay at home mom indeed.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I am not an idiot

Really, I'm not. Some people even think I'm pretty smart. (When I whip their asses at Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble, specifically).

I do a pretty good job at work and I kinda know what I'm talking about most of the time. I can recite Shakespearean poetry from heart (no, not ALL of it - just enough). I know that the Democratic Republic of Congo used to be called Zaire, that there is a difference between their, there and they,'re, and I know all about the symbolism in Jan Van Eyck's Arnolfini Wedding Portrait. That's it, right here:
This is hanging in my living room
So here's my confession. I HATE dealing with financial matters. I feel completely incapable of doing it. I think I should be doing so much to further our financial growth but I don't know what to do or how to do it. My only consolation is it boggles my husband's brain even more than it does mine. He's the creative type, you see. So the job falls to me. 

It's okay, for the most part. I generally do a good job. In times when we are lean it's usually due to circumstances and not some catastrophic planning on my part. I pay the bills monthly(ish) - as the money comes in from my job and the hubby's freelance work (which is, by nature, somewhat sporadic). I understand the basic concept: have more come in than you have going out. We're working on that. 

I'm sure we could have made better decisions in the past. I know we could have. But we have a nice house - not new, but nice and good-sized - and we have cars made in the last 10 years. I don't regret any of those purchases (though I do wish the housing market hadn't plummeted three years after we bought our house). 

My quandary is long-term planning. Making goals and sticking to them. Having willpower to look to the future and say, "no, I don't want to make this purchase today because it will impact our ability to take a vacation in 2 years". This is my struggle. 

I will go without incidentals for myself quite easily; where I run into trouble is I too often rationalize things for my family. I want things for my kids. I want to see their enjoyment. I want to take them to Disneyland because I grew up going there and I feel guilty for moving them so far away.

We went to our CPA today. Our Taxman with a capital "T". I love him. He makes me happy every year. In 4 weeks I will temporarily be financially stress-free and I will revel in it - probably too much - for a very brief period until I pay some stuff and buy some other needed stuff and then we'll be back to status quo.

So tell me - are you the money person in your family? What do you do to make your financial goals and keep them?

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Room of One's Own

Virginia Woolf said:
A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.
When we moved to our current house 5 years ago my boys were 2 & 3 years old. They shared a room, and still do, because I insisted that the other bedroom should be a guest room. I was convinced my family and friends from back home in California would come visit a lot. Well, my mom comes 2 or 3 times a year and occasionally our buddy Brittain stays so late he sleeps over. All in all not a lot of usage.

I have always had a workspace of my own, but my desk was tiny and it had been shuttled from room to room whenever I needed to make space for something else. First it was in the toy room/animal room/catch-all. Then a corner of the living room. Then our bedroom. I never had a space where I could really put my stuff out and let it just be. Then I got a docking station and laptop for work and sadly the contraption didn't even fit on my tiny desk. Obviously something needed to change. 

Enter my husband. Sometimes he has the best ideas. As I was lamenting my lack of space he simply said, "why do we need a dedicated guest room? Let's turn it into your office and just move the hide-a-bed couch in there in case we have guests." And it was as simple as that! Brilliant!

Well, not quite so simple - but nearly. First we moved the queen size bed to the garage in pieces. Then I took stock and figured out what I would need to make this nearly bare room into an office and we headed out to the thrift stores. Yes, thrift stores. I ended up getting a new desk for $27 and a new lampshade for $1.50 to go with a hand-me-down lamp and shelf. I already had an old file cabinet and a shelving unit my uncle built with his bare hands a long, long time ago. The only thing I bought new were some storage boxes and a rolling cart of drawers. The storage boxes I got at Ross on clearance for a steal. I love a good deal. 

I moved everything in and got it setup over the space of a couple weekends.

Where the magic happens
It was nighttime when I took this pic, but I also have a wonderful view of my front yard. I have several times banged on the window when I caught my kids climbing on top of cars in our driveway or dodging cars in the street. They are boys. I don't have a better explanation for it. They DO know better.  
See the storage boxes?
With the bed open
I'm so happy to say that I now have a room of my own. Shortly after moving into my new space I started this blog. Coincidence? I think not. Thank you for the inspiration, Ms. Woolf. Maybe when I have money I can write fiction, but for now you get me and my laptop composing the narrative of my days.

Food & Drink

FOOD

I have been asked for this recipe several times lately so I thought I would just share it here. It's super easy to make, and quick, but you probably don't keep some of these ingredients on hand. At least I don't! But it's worth it. 

I can't take credit for this - I got it from my friend Jenni's mom. 

Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder

2 whole chicken breasts
1 onion (chopped)
2 garlic cloves (chopped)
1 Tbsp. of oil

Saute chicken, onion & garlic in oil until chicken is cooked through. (Do it in a large pot so you don't have to dirty two pans!) Cube the chicken when cooked and put back in the pot.

Add:
2 cans creamed corn
2 cups half & half
2 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 can diced green chiles
2 tsp. cumin (to taste)

Bring to a simmer and add:
A splash of hot sauce (to taste)
Chopped fresh cilantro (to taste)

If the soup seems thin it can be thickened with corn starch. We like to make it thick and then eat it with tortilla chips. Totally YUM. 

DRINK (of the alcohol variety)

Now, I'm not a huge drinker. Really, 3 is usually my limit and I'm such a control-freak that I tend to always opt to be the designated driver. In the past I have never been one to try shots; I just wasn't into drinking to get drunk - and what else is the purpose of a shot?? 
Well, our good friend Brittain introduced me to a shot that I love. It's sweet and sour and I can drink them down almost like water. (Not really, but, almost). Try this. I make 2 cups of this at a time and keep it in the fridge. You know, for emergencies. 

Chocolate Cake Shots

1/2 shot citrus vodka 
1/2 shot Frangelico hazelnut liqueur 
sugar-crusted lemon wedges

Mix equal parts vodka and Frangelico into a shot glass. Drink the shot, and follow it immediately by sucking on a sugar-coated lemon wedge.

Two of my favorite things. Enjoy!