Saturday, December 28, 2013

Animal Oasis

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  I hope it's been a great year for you, following.  It has been for me!

Today Josh and I were enjoying the bright sunshine and relatively warm weather outside.  I am always amazed at how much this home is an oasis of food.  It is like a water oasis in a desert, only it is a food oasis in the forest.  It's in the open, but there is a bird feeder or three, a compost pile with bones, a garden and a pasture full of grass and seeds.  The animals can eat, but they exposed to predators. 

Cats live inside the house.  Coyotes range the perimeter in the woods.  Squirrels, birds, mice and other small animals live underground and in the trees surrounding the house.  Cats from around come to the compost pile as well as other scavengers that are larger but I haven't seen yet, so I don't know what they are.  A flock of turkey's wander through from time to time.  Deer run around.  And BATS!  I think.

One night I was standing too close to a pine tree and either 10's of bats flew out at once or a large bird did.  It was dark and we could only judge by the loudness of the sound...but for sure, it was just above my head.

A huge bird, probably Giant Hawk, flew down and tried to catch a small bird by the edge of the woods today.  It flew from tree to tree and then slowly circled up around the house afterwards.  I could see it's tail moving to direct it's flight direction.  It was so peaceful and floating.  I could see each of it's feathers on it's wings and almost hear its wings flapping. It puts you in mind of how small you are and how big life is.

After it left, I used my new yoga skillz to practice snowball throwing.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

In Which I Spell Licsense Wrong Repeatedly

Today I turn 30!  I'm pretty excited, I've been wanting to be thirty since I was 26 and got my job.  Heh.  I thought if I was thirty then I'd be seen as a real adult and respected and listened too.  I wouldn't be a silly little girl that needed to be molded and taught how to live life.  You can imagine how that went over.  Now that I don't work there, I feel younger than I have in years!  I've let my hair grow out, I wear jeans more than dress skirts, I don't worry about my bedtime, and I skip more.  For my late twenties, I cut my hair short and ugly to look more experienced and older.  I wore "older" style clothes, not young clothes that make older people think I'm too silly to be taken seriously.  Isn't that sad?  It is.  It's okay though because now I can be young when I'm old! I got that lesson out of the way early.

Yesterday it was bitter cold and windy.  The snow in the parking lots and sidewalks were grey and slushy and dirty.  There is nothing very pretty about used working snow.  My driver's liscence expired today, so we were at the Secretary of State (DMV of Michigan), which going there is the equivelent of slushy grey gross snow.  It was my third time there.  The first two were fails, in that I didn't have my paperwork in order.  I needed my old drivers liscence from Michigan, my wedding certificate, my birth certificate, my social security card, my auto insurance policy (POLICY. NOT PROOF OF INSURANCE...the lady was very very clear on that), and a printed out bank statement with my address.  The first time I handed the lady an expired passport and a copy of my social security card cut to look like the real thing.  She does not like me.  The third time, I had to leave and go next door and have State Farm print out my policy for me.  Luckily the ladies at State Farm are super nice...they believe in the personal touch.  I definitely recommend them.  Then I got the ugliest picture of me for my new liscence.  Double chin and all.

As I was walking in, it was winter gross...grey dirty, wet and cold.  The wind was blowing head on and I had to put my head down and walk into the wind while the ice shards cut at my face.  THIS is a proper winter, I thought to myself.  I was wearing my ugly ass ten year old winter coat that gives me a second set of boobs, my new warm hat, gloves, scarf and winter boots.  Oh and flannel lined pants.  I thought of the times I walked into work when it was 50 or low 60's out and I wore a flimsy hat, a pretty scarf (not a utility scarf), gloves to drive in (for fun...the gloves were not necessary), and a lightweight jacket...probably not even useful here at any time it's just the wrong weight for any time here.  A coworker was go on and on and talk to other people and tease me for dressing so warmly in the weather.  "You're from the north! You should be able to handle this weather...why are you so bundled up?"  I had no response.  How do you respond when you "bundle up" for looks and fun, not utility?  I did that because I could..not because I had too.  Plus, I don't think I will ever stop worrying that it will get colder out at some point and I'll need the extra gear.  It never did in Nashville...but that didn't stop me from bringing an extra jacket.

I can handle winter...general Nashvillians just don't know what winter is!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

In Which I Think New Thoughts

I've been thinking lots of new thoughts because there is lots of new things to think about.  I like to think about my knitting projects and how I'm going to finish them and what the next steps are.  I like to think about the yarn I have and what I'm going to knit with it. But I try not to get too excited because I'm the slowest knitter there is.  It's a good week if I manage two rounds a day.  I knit for 10 minutes when my mom is cooking and Lilly is in her high chair, and I sit at the island and talk to my mom while she cooks.

I posted a picture of a sheep farm on my wall. Heee.  Literally.  I ripped it out of a catalog and taped it to the wall above the changing table.  If I'm going to have one, I need to build a barn shelter first with fencing and then research what the good wool sheeps are.  I'll need to know how much it costs to feed them.  I'll need to dedicate myself to the work of maintaining the sheep.  There will be the initial investment for the shelter and fence and then for the sheep.  Oh and vet costs too.  I wonder if you can have 1 sheep or if they do better with 2 or 3? I don't want to start too big.  Maybe I should join the sheep 4-H club with Lilly.  I also happen to be friends with an actual sheep farmer.  I should talk to her about it.

This would all be easier if I just had a Sheet farm.

Josh and I switched from PBR's to Busch.  I feel that Busch is a better beer to drink in Michigan.  Plus, I think it's cheaper now.  Busch put's me in mind of Reggie Bush, from the Lions, and I like to cheer for the Lions, and what better way than drinking Busch while watching Bush!

(That's what she said! (?))

I just changed Lilly and I was looking at the sheep farm picture and I had a revelation!  I've always wanted an Australian Shepard, and if I get a sheep farm, I'll totally need one!

I was also thinking about my friends still in college.  They all got very stressed out and tired and busy at once, and I realized it's school.  College is a weird thing.  It's very bipolar.  First there is summer and no school and you are carefree and all you have is work.  Then there's school and it's doable...and then the semester gets on and all the papers and tests are due at the same time and it's very stressful. Then, when you start to think it will never end and you can't go on any more, it's over and BAM!  Stressfree and no class and everything's wonderful.  When you have a salary job, it's a lot more grey and the same all year.  Less ups and downs.  I think I miss the bipolarness a lot.  It gets pretty boring doing the same thing all year long.  That leads me to the one thing I did like about my job in Nashville.  We had three meetings a year with the board, and it was stressful for a few weeks before hand getting ready, then the whole office traveled to the meeting location (out of state always, to a casino tribe because they are the ones with the space and resources to host the meeting) and it's a fun week of feel good work.  Like I'm actually doing something worth doing.  Then we get back and everyone relaxes for a week before we start up again.  At the meetings too, I get to talk to people I don't normally talk to.  I make friends.  I only made 2 women friends, and they are great!  I made several man friends too. Mostly because there are more men than women in the environmental fields.  That's who I talked to mostly.  I don't quite fit in with the other fields like economics or education, as they where more suits and dress fancier.  They don't let the formal rules slide as much as the environmental people.  This leads to general disagreement sometimes and lack of support when the fields want to work together on a project.

I do hate casinos though.  They are beautiful and horrible.  It's always worth going in to see the money spent on the decorations and to inspect the theme.  There is always a theme to the whole building and it represents the culture of the tribe.  You can learn a lot about their culture by looking at the casino and the materials used to build it and the decoration themes.  They are all works of art.  Art filled with addicts.  Cigarette addicts and gambling addicts.  Bittersweet. 

If you hear of any good jobs in the western Michigan area, please let me know!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ackbar Is Adjusting

Well well well.

What a week it has been.  Nothing too exciting, but not pretty exciting all the same.

Yesterday I went out to a friends' house to use their high speed internet to apply for medicaid (thank you fellow tax payers) but the stupid government is stupid.  I also forgot the password and login codes for the application we had started.  So no medicaid for us yet. 

Then I came home and got really annoyed because my bra kept on sliding up above my boobs.  I couldn't believe they had gotten so big!!  Stupid milks and stupid double 'merican double standards.  All the women want big boobs but the stores refuse to sell bras big enough for big boobs.  Turns out I put on my sports bra-like bra backwards.

Today the concrete guy (Josh 2) came and poured the cement for the parent's patio.  A big blue cement truck came and put giant ruts in the hill of the yard.  I photo-documented the whole thing.  Lilly liked to be held and to watch the cement work.  First they poured it, then they smoothed it, then they sprayed a chemical on it, then they sprayed the top muddy layer of cement off.  The little pebbles are exposed, like the sidewalks at Vanderbilt.  I never knew how they did that, but I wondered a lot while walking around there.  There was some issue with the chemical they sprayed on, I personally think they were sold the wrong one, but it didn't work like it was suppose to.  Josh 2 called the man and cursed him out a bit.  It looks good still.

Josh and I helped gather leaves to put leaf imprints in the top of the steps cement spots.  Then we gathered sticks for the fire we are having tonight.  Dinner is hotdogs over the fire.  I was thinking today about how much fun I was having.  How satisfied with life I am.  What if I was still in Nashville?  I'd sit in the office all day, clean my computer...digitally and phsyicaly, maybe read some blogs, read about organization, then drive home and sit inside there, watch the neighbors, then go to game night.  Now I do miss game night, a lot, but I love being outside so much more than anything else.    AND I did clean my dad's laptop.  I got all the dust off and dug a ton of dust out of the mouse wheel. The wheel button, not the ball below..he has a laser one now.  I didn't know you could get so much dust and fuzz into the mouse wheel.  I also got all of the laundry folded and put away.

Now I'm enjoying a crisp Angry Orchard Hard Cider.

Josh had a hard day too.  Lilly peed right on his hand and as she did she shouted "PEEEEEEEDOM" William Wallace style.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

This is Not What I Was Going To Write When I Sat Down

This morning I got up earlier than normal and was preparing to make Buttermilk Pancakes for my family.  I was busy conning my mom into clearing off the countertop and wiping it down, when she asked me where my coffee was.  I was too busy working to pour it.  So I stopped and got my coffee ready.  But then I didnt' even sip it or taste it because it was back to work measuring out the flour.  Then I realized that the measuring spoons were dirty from the night before when I made me a mug brownie.  So I washed all the nighttime dishes.  I still hadn't tasted my coffee.

When I worked for the last 4 years my routine in the morning was the best part of the day.  I get to work, I say hi to my coworkers I pass, and try not to make too much conversation before coffee and while I still have all my stuff in my hands.  Then I set my stuff in my office.  My lunch bag goes on the tray on the bookshelf and my purse goes on the floor below it.  My coat gets hung up behind the door and my hats, scarfs and mittens go on the tray next to the lunchbag.  I would get made fun of for my hats and scarfs and mittens because since I'm from Michigan I should be able to handle the cold.  I do handle the wearing hats, scarfs, and mittens. Durh.  Then I would be questioned about not keeping my lunch in the fridge...isn't my food going to spoil and make me sick?  Little do they know, that's why I don't get sick ever...I constantly live on the edge and injest germs to build my immunity.  Quite like the Dread Pirate Roberts and iocane poison.

Then I go to the kitchenette and make my coffee and fill my water bottle.  If I'm good, I washed my water cup and coffee mug the night before.  I'm usually not good though.  So I wash the items.  My mug is green and large and has a pretty brown flower petal pattern. I  bought as a gift for my friend Kimmy, but loved it so much I kept it.  It's a perfect office coffee mug.  Large, pretty, yet still professional. And if there's one thing I learned there, it's that looking professional and looking like you work hard is FAR MORE IMPORTANT than doing good honest hard work.  I truly can't emphasize that enough.  My water cup is more about my personality.  It's the plastic kind with the lid and plastic straw.  It looks like a fountain drink cup, but it's reusable.  It's dark grey black transparent with a red straw.  It says MTAC and has a red moon circle thing design. I got it from the Mid Tennessee Anime Convention Josh and I went to, and our friend, Amy, helped very hard to make happen. 

I fill the water cup up with water from the tap and I think about everyone else who uses the filtered fridge water.  I wonder what the true difference is.  What does the filter filter out? When was it last changed?  How does running through tiny plastic tubing effect the water?  How is my tap water going to taste today?  You don't drink it during the end of summer/fall after all the water has dried up and it starts tasting like algae.  Sometimes I'm judged for drinking the tap water.  Sometimes it's suggested to me that I don't drink it b/c I'm preggers, sometimes I'm in there with the drinking water people and they agree with me that it doesnt' matter.  It all depends on who is in the kitchenette with me at the time.  Mostly I try not to make eye contact or get in the way if I'm in a bad mood.

I prepare my coffee before I fill the water cup.  It's a Keurig machine.  I open it up, and take the old cup out that everyone didn't throw away when they were done.  I toss it into the garbage can. I got really good at making it.  Once I got pregnant, if I missed, I just left it on the ground.  Ain't no way I'm bending over for that.  Then I put my dark roast coffee kcup in.  I wonder if there is a difference in caffiene in the dark vs. light roast.  You can find the answer in one of my previous blog posts.  And I make my cup of coffee.  I have the same cup of coffee every single day.  Every. Single. Day.  Same height on the mug, same strength of coffee flavor, spash of whatever white liquid I can find in the fridge (sometimes it's half and half, sometimes it's milk, sometimes it's soy milk, sometimes, if I'm lucky, it's coconut milk or almond milk), and some sugar.

Then, once all that's ready, I go sit down at my desk.  Sometimes, one lady is in there and she's a talker, and she talked to me through the whole process and then I leave and she's still talking.  I can hear her in the kitchennette chatting on to no one.  I feel bad, leaving like that, but after a few years, it just happens. 

At my desk I take my first sip and start typing up emails to my friends and family, thinking about blog posts, maybe reading some USDA articles and I get on with my day.

And that's why you have just read this post...I took my coffee today, sat down and typed while enjoying my coffee, just like I used to.  If I didn't, if I kept on making the pancakes, I'd still be half way done with my first cup, instead of my second!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

All About Ackbar

Yesterday Lilly learned that she can talk non-stop.  She sure has a lot to say and I have a feeling it's all bossing me around or bad jokes.  She does smile real big then look to the side with her eyes and rub her hands together like she's doing something sneaky.

Ackbar caught a mouse, we assume it was him, and ate the head but left the body by our car.  Dad told me to take care of it, so when I was taking the bucket of litter to the woods (no need to throw it out) I asked him to put it in the bucket since he was wearing cloves.  No.  He told me to just kick it away.  Kick it away?  We are in the middle of the parking area, there are no trees around for like 30 feet or more, where am I going to kick it?  So I said no, you kick it.  And he did, right under Josh's car. "There, something will get it."

Ackbar climbed the plumb tree in the orchard.  He explored all of the branches.  The trunck goes up maybe 5-6 ft then splits into branches that go outward making a canopy instead of going up higher.  In total I think it's a 10ft tall tree.  Ackbar run up and down all of it looking for the blackbirds that were flocking in near by trees making tons of racket.  I took pictures.  Then Ackbar ran into the tent and inspected it while Josh packed up and took it down.  We camped in the orchard.  Then Ackbar spent a good three minutes sniffing around in some cut grass clumps looking for the perfect spot to poop.  We then discovered that he has diarrhea (mouse heads) and Josh had to wipe his butt.  No worries, he got his flea medication the same day and soon he will get his worm meds.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Hermit Life

I am having a hard time figuring out what to tell you following.  All of the most interesting parts of my life right now, the best commentary, the funny observations, are not mine to share.  They are my parents and they live a hermit life in the woods.  Someday I hope to have my own hermit life in the woods.

Some rules I will have in my hobbit house.  Yes, it will be underground and with a round door...the has been established for a while.  Rule #1:  I only do dishes in the morning or before dinner.  I do not do dishes after dinner. 

That's as far as I got on my rules. 

What can I share?  My dad gave me some good advice.  Yesterday I was watching him do some underground plumbing to add another outdoor spigot to the line connected to the old outdoor spigot.  He dug a ditch to put the line in and I learned about the draining of the pipe and the plastic bucket protector.  And I noticed that my dad dug a shelf into the ground to set his tools on.  That was an amazing idea!  It would take me years to figure that trick out.  Heh.  Dad says he's been digging water line ditches since he was a kid, so he's had years to figure it out.  Anyways, I was trying to talk to him about the shelf and how impressed I was.  He told me "Well, to work underground you've got to dig a hole."

So simple, yet so deep.  Before you start any project, you have to get to where you can work on it.  Before you can invite yourself over to use a person's pool in the summer, you've got to become their friend. 

I've been going to yoga with my mom.  It's an advanced level class and it's amazing!  I assume it's advanced, we are doing stuff I've never done before.  There is one move, Camel Pose, which I call Camel Toes in my head, that I cannot do.  You sit up on your knees, with your toes down, then reach behind you and bend backwards and grab your heels.  Sounds easy, but I just don't bend that way.  Most of the women are my mother's age, or closer to that age than mine.  After Yoga we go to a diner owned by one of the ladies and eat breakfast/lunch.  So far I've eaten Eggs Benedict (DELISHIOUS!) and a Baked O which is not a Big O.  A Baked O is a ring of oatmeal cake cut into slices and topped with fruit.  It's warm and oatmeally and not sweet like cake.  It's not my favorite.  I then had just plain oatmeal.  It was very good.  I didn't top it right, so I might try again next time.  I had almonds on it and craisins.  Next time I want fresh blueberries and almonds with more butter, milk and cinnamon and brown sugar. 

Anyways, there the ladies talk.  Many are local artists.  I'm getting the in on the art scene and on what the big red building in Newaygo is going to be turned into.  But not the big red building with the lions on top.  They all stop to listen to me talk when I talk.  I don't know why.  Are they being nice? Are they truly interested? Or are they treating me like a youngling?  I don't know, but eating with them reminds me of a feel good woman movie.

About parenthood?  Well, Lilly has little fits when she's nursing and she finishes one side.  She gets very angry and waves all of her appendages around.  I think it's the cutest thing ever, but it worries me.  How and when is she going to express that anger when she is older?  I feel that I have the same anger, so maybe I can help her work through it.  My anger is expressed when I am forced to do dinner dishes after dinner instead of in the morning.  I get angry and complain loudley and flale around.  I still do the dishes on time though.  I may complain, but I'm still a responsible adult.

Friday, October 4, 2013

In Which We Experience Different Color Roofs

We signed up for WIC yesterday and it was pretty much the opposite experience of what I thought would happen.

First my directions I had written down, said go into the building with the red roof, facing M37.  So we did and that was the wrong building.  We needed to go to the one in back with the green roof.  We did.  The first window we stood at told us it was the wrong window and the right one was the one "right over there".  WHY WERE THERE NO SIGNS!?  I don't know.  And I was a little worried at not being 5 min. early for the appointment.

Oh, skip to the moment we walked into the building.  There was a giant wall mural on the wall of a woods/nature scene of Newaygo County.  It had every animal and bug and plant that we see in the woods when we go on a walk (and combine a lifetime of walks into one mural).  I've never seen a Puma, but they are native to here.  We were confused as to why there was no Wolverine. :/  There is also the alphabet hidden in the mural.  A sign said it was for parents and children to look at instead of having toys in the waiting room.  A local artist had painted it.  I wish I could have one of those in my house so bad.  I asked Josh if his mom could paint Lilly one. I bet she could. ;)

So back to finally getting to the correct window.  Inside was a very nice lady who instructed us to come into her office (the other side of the window, but we were able to go through a door).  She didn't introduce herself, she didn't ask about who Josh was, she just jumped straight into finishing up my paperwork.  I didn't even know at this point if I qualified for WIC or not.  She was the sweetest, nicest, most absent minded lady I have ever met.

Then two minutes into the interview, another lady came and asked if our lady could help her.  And the lady was like, What? I just started this intereview.  Only in a polite friendly way.  And the other lady gave her a LOOK and said something in code so we wouldn't be eaves dropping.  And our lady was like "okay!" and rushed out of there.  Then we sat there for five minutes listening to a young boy scream like he there was an exorcism conducted on him and the wall behind me kept on shaking because someone kept on bumping into it.  We have never heard a child be so angry and scared and yell like that.  Turns out he just didn't like getting his finger poked so they could check his iron levels.  I can understand that.

Then the lady came back and finished getting me my WIC card.  I asked her about where to get Medicaid, and she said the building with the green roof.  Which if you remember, is the building we were in now.  HA!  I felt totally vindicated when she said that because Josh had questioned my directions I had written down about going into the red roof.  It was my fault!

Then we thought we were done.  Nope.  Then we had to go talk to the lady who needed help with the boy.  She weighed and measured Lilly (10 lbs and some ounces!).  She weighed and measured me, and commented on how the height I gave were was shorter than what I was, and usually women round up!  Well, I knew my height, 5 foot 1 and 3/4 inches tall.  I don't like to confuse people with the 3/4 inch part, so I just round down.  I can't round up because I'm just not that tall.  If I was, I'd be the same height as my mother.

Then we talked to her for a while about nutrition and answered more questions.  OH YEAH! When she poked my finger for the iron, I was prepared for the pain.  It's my least favorite thing to do.  And it didn't hurt!!!  It was the best finger poking experience I've ever had! I  made sure to tell her.  Then she explained to us about the little boy we overheard.

So she loaded my WIC card. It works a lot different than I expected.  I get a package that can change as Lilly grows older.  On it is a list of food I can get for the month, and I must get that food exactly.  I can get three 16oz jars of peanut butter (that's a hella lot!), but it can't be Jiff brand because Jiff is making their jars only 15oz now, and that won't work.  I can get a lot of cheese and a lot of milk.  Mostly food that is good for breastfeeding mothers to make sure I get my nutrition.  Which makes me super happy, I had been trying not to eat all of my mom's peanut butter!  I knew I wasn't getting enough protien and filling up enough at my meals here.  We eat mostly fruit and veggies, which is healthy for people not nursing.  I've even been choosing to drink cups of milk and orange juice, normally things I don't like.  So I was really happy to get this.  WIC is a supplemental food card, NOT food stamps.

Then after that interview, where the lady was super nice and not judgey.  I was able to get Lilly immunized!  It was on my list of things I wanted to do badly, and I didn't know going in, it would be that easy!  I just filled out a form at the first window I stopped at in that building (luckly I had brought her hospital paperwork with her first shot recorded on it!), and then they took us back and Lilly got her immunizations.  I think for $16 each.  Not over one hundred like I was expecting.  Lilly cried and was soo sad and angry.  I cried a little bit.  She is happier today.

After that, they made sure I saw a nursing consultant, and we talked and answered questions I didn't even know I had, and she gave me an insert for my breast pump to make it fit better! I had looked at walmart, miejer, and target for this insert and Babies R' Us, and it wasn't anywhere.  I almost paid a lot of money to order it off the internet!  Did you know that babies drool because they are teething or starting to?  I didn't!

After that we were finally able to leave.  It was so easy, didn't require repeat visits and many appointments to wait for. The people were nice and respectful.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Little Bit Redneck

We are moved to Michigan now and settled in.  There are so many new and interesting things to see and do!  We toured the new Newaygo County Historical Museum during the Logging Festival, then later we went on a walk along the river in Newaygo and I showed Josh the old museum site where I used to work.  I was able to navigate overgrown mysterious paths to find the hidden wall you jump into the river from.  I showed him the turbines under the building.  I saw how someone cleared all the brush and planted grass and added giant cement fish head statues to this empty area by the building.  When I was 19, I worked at the museum as a supervisor to 6 high school students with ADD and work attitude problems and didn't respect me as authority.  The old woman who was in charge said, "Take these old electric weed wackers and make the boys clear all the brush."  Then she left to missouri for the summer.  What happened is that these older guys who were just out of the military and big bullies that used to work there came by and tried to intimidate me and boss everyone around.  They got a back hoe tractor from somewhere, dug up part of that hill, and then left the tractor setting there for several weeks.  I thought I had failed at that job and was a very poor worker.  It wasn't until recently did I realize that that old woman gave a child a job that would take a team of at least 5 adults to do.  I did not fail any body, I could not do that job with the tools (NONE but some ass old weedwackers and kids with bad hips and limps) I was given.

I took an hour off and had a beer at the Newaygo Bar.  I got Founder's Two Hearted Stout, and was expected to pay a minimum of 5$ for it.  NOPE! It was only $2.50!  I could have gotten two!

We went to my cousin's wedding and it was beautifully decorated!  It was a wedding out of a magazine.

We went to Crystal Lake, a small lake with a public access a couple miles from my house.  Lilly fell asleep in the breeze and in the shadow of a tree.  We watched a crazy drunk grandma drive up and demand her grandson back from his mother.  The grandma did have papers to prove she had custody.  The daughter told her mother not to mess with her, she went to prison.  She was in prison for 6.5 years, and the grandma raised the boy for 10.  The grandma was pissed because she found a 10$ lotto ticket in her house, but had to buy the boy used underwear.  I felt so bad for the boy...we had been sitting watching him try to interact with the other kids at the lake.  One of the girls said to the other girl about the boy "Is he your brother?" 
"No, he is not my brother."
"Is he your cousin?"
"Then what is he?"
"I don't know."

The the mom of those girls who was bragging about her big milk filled boobs (which were small compared to my experience), got mad at the grandma for swearing, and punched teh grandma.  The Grandma fell over on the ground.  Then they both were up and their friends/daughter had to hold them apart.  The men on the porch on the hill behind the lake yelled and threatened to call the cops.  The grandma got in her van and drove away, and in her rage, nearly hit the couple of old people sitting peacefully right next to the entire fight.  Everyone decided to pack up and leave, including Josh and I.  Just as we were getting to our car, I saw the grandma back down the road (as in, she drove forward, out of sight, got pissed again, and backed up instead of turning around), she pulled into the parking lot and blocked in her daughter, boyfriend and grandson.  Also, they blocked in our car, and all got out and continued to fight.  The men at the house called to us and let us sit on their porch and also called the cops.  We sat on the porch with a perfect view of the fight for the next 30 min, while a cop came, calmed everyone down, and finally we felt confident the grandma was calm enough to let us out.

Before we had left for the lake I had warned Josh it was a "Little bit redneck."

There is more and more of amazing stuff I've seen, but I've run out of energy.  I want to take Lilly for a walk.

Here, I'll list it quick.
1.  Snakes
2.  Gardens
3.  Pennies in a bag of water
4.  Christians Magical Dungeon (celler)
5.  Christians music for life
6.  Haybale art and how it offends me immensely
7.  Drunk Central Girls
8.  Popov guy  aka Townies
9.  all of the resale stores in Fremont
10.  Yoga
11.  Visiting old friends
12. Brewing beer
13.  Fires

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Well.  I'm going to be honest here.  I do not want this to turn into a "Mommy Blog" and be all about how wonderful, sweet, amazing, and generally better my child is than all the others. (True that that may be.)  Ehhh...I find it a lot harder to exaggerated about how amazing Lilly is than I do about how great and awesome my truck is.  (What?!  I don't exaggerated about that, who am I kidding?)

But, the thing is, I write what I think about, and all I think about these days is her and things related to her.  So, you, following, internet, are just going to have to deal or not read this.  That's cool.

Speaking of her, she is soooo angry right now.

It was a dirty diaper.

A while back...a year? Two years?  I'm not sure, I wrote about my trials with anxiety and depression.  It kicked in when a year into living in Nashville, during grad school.  Then I thought it would stop once I accomplished my life goal of getting a salary job.  But it didn't. So I got on medication and that helped...sorta.  Then it got bad.  Then it got really really bad and I didn't know it because I was distracted by travelling 3 weeks a month.  But when you make a game of seeing how little you can eat in a day, how much money you can save by not buying food, and counting 2 beers as a good dinner, something is wrong.  Then I experienced something very bad (not caused by me) and it lead to my pause in facebook and blogging.  I didn't ever want to go back to sharing with the public, with everyone I know.  I didn't trust myself of what I'd say and I wasn't thinking straight at the time.

I started seeing a councilor who taught me how to accept my feelings and I practiced mindfulness meditation that is all about accepting things as they are.  I learned how to let go.  

Simultaneously,  the week after we decided to put child bearing on hold, I got preggers with Miss Lilly.  Only I didn't know it was her at the time.  I found out about her at my yearly woman check up, pretty much as soon as one can find out they are pregnant.  The nurse said the line was very faint, but was there.  So, I've known basically ALL NINE MONTHS.  And that was the first day I felt plain, regular, great happiness in a long time.  Then I was grumpy and in pain for 6 months, and during the last three, I relaxed, I stopped thinking about the bad things, the anxiety.  I started thinking about Lilly and getting ready for her.  I did crafts.  I knit a blanket.  I watched a shit ton of CSI: Miami and Doc Martin.  I was so focused on the happy things, I let go of all my worries and stresses at work.  I stopped caring what people thought and if my every action would piss someone off.  When I came home at the end of the day, I thought about other things than work.  I would wake up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, and I would play a video game on my phone until I fell back asleep.  I didn't get all worked up because I wasn't sleeping.  (those late night gaming sessions were some of my favorite times).

I set a date in April or May, that I would move home by August 31, and by having that date in mind, I had a goal to work towards and something to look forward too.  I am so amazed that it is actually happening.

The three weeks before Lilly was born, I realized I was happy!  All the time happy!  I was not worried, like all the books said I would be. The nine months of learning how to work through emotions and letting go of control, all the self help books I read, everything, finally made sense and I realized I was living the way I wanted to be nine months before.  Basically, the impossible became possible!  How amazing is that!?!  It's unbelievable really.

Then I had Lilith and I got even happier!  These are things that I am NOT worried about:
1.  Not having an apartment lined up
2.  Not having a job lined up

When I finished grad school, those were my top two worries.  I was so worried about those two things, I was paralyzed.  I worried so much it was painful.  Maybe because I lived through it then, I know I will live through it now, so why worry?

I am a little anxious about the actual move itself.  I don't particularly want to drive twelve hours with a baby and a cat and Josh driving a big ol' moving truck alone.  Josh's mom is helping and will be driving/riding with us, so that's a huge help!  We will even have her airconditioned vehicle.  Thank goodness.  I don't think I could do the trip with the windows down the entire time.  (And I know what I'm talking about...I've done the entire drive with the windows down three times already).  I'm also worried a little about if we have enough boxes, the physical aspect of loading and unloading the truck, and all of the extra time it takes to do anything with a baby.  I know though that that will work itself out and we have the truck for a day or so longer than I calculate us needing it.

Anyways, I've found the last six weeks of being home all the time to be the best, most satisfying six weeks of my life!  It's right up there with the five weeks I spent at field camp.  People tell me it only gets harder from here and assume I'm tired all the time.  I'm not.  There are some days when I didn't sleep enough and am tired...but those are maybe once a week.  I do not find caring for Lilly hard...I've done hard, and she is not it.  I mean, it's not easy like watching tv is easy, but it is work, but work isn't always hard.  College work was work, but not hard.  Challenging, but not something I dreaded or felt like I couldn't do (except understand thermodynamics...that's hard).  I've spent the last three years doing "hard" and feeling like I was lost and couldn't do anything and everything I did was hard and emotionally draining.  Lilly comes with a check list, dirty diaper, hungry, change position, temperature, repeat.  And on the rare occasion that it seems like she will never stop crying, I know that's impossible.  No one cries forever.  "this too shall pass" is always applied.  It's manageable and I understand it.

Plus, it helps that I have the bestest, most sweetest, wonderful, amazing and happiest baby in the world.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Where am I moving?

I have put in my two weeks at work and worked all of that stuff out.  I can now safely announce to you, internet, where Josh and I are moving to!  We are moving back home!!!!  Besides our close friends here (you know who you are), there is nothing attaching us to Nashville.  I've done the big city thing, and I have completed this set of goals in my life.  It's really frustrating because I will really miss our friends here, but I can't raise a child in Tennessee.  For many reasons, one being the governments desire to have guns in parks.  Another is that our family is not here.  I need my family and my family needs me.  My best friend's mother is battling cancer, and I want to be there to support them.  And selfishly, I need tall hardwood trees, cooler camping and bonfire weather, and lakes.  There are also less spiders in Michigan.

Oh, we will be moved before the end of August!  two weeks? Three weeks? Something like that.  I've been packing for months.  One box a day.

Okay, I guess I better announce exactly where in Michigan we are moving. Yes, yes, we are doing the "Typical Millenial Generational thing" and moving back in with my parents. :/  It will only be until Josh gets a job though and hopefully no more than a month.  I can't believe, personally, that somehow my life includes, having a baby, quitting my job, and moving across the country with no job or housing in place.  Not only that, but I'm leaving a city that was barely, if not at all, affected by the Great Recession, to the state most affected by it.  It's like I'm doing everything opposite of what a responsible person would do.  It's going to be a great adventure!  That's also crazy...I'm super excited for it, not stressed out or worried at all.  In fact, I haven't been this happy in years and years and years...since I've moved down here, really.

I have a theory though, that Lilly causes my body to produce a happiness hormone in me like a drug.  I'm terribly addicted to her.

Today Lilly slept a lot and I was able to make coffee!  Now I'm all caffiened up and no one to talk to!  I clearly didn't think that one through.  I love listing the stuff I've done I realized.  I think because I just feel so accomplished and it's a way of positively acknowledging myself of my good job.  

So, good job self for paying the bills!  For finishing packing the medicines in the house.  For doing the dishes (heh, that was easy...there were only 3 bowls and 5 spoons).  For starting one load of laundry and completing the drying of another load.  Extra good job for feeding and changing Lilly and for helping her feel safe and secure and getting her to sleep.  Also good job for burping her. 

Burping Lilly is one of my favorite things to do.

I think I'm going to run to babies r us, either with Josh or without, when he gets home.  It's tax free weekend for school supplies which includes diapers and that store also has several good diaper sales going on.

Lilly's favorite albums right now are Neko Case and Bob Marley.  She has excellent taste.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Elvis and Driving

Well well well.

I just realized a lot of interesting things have happened lately, and they have all slipped my mind for a while. 

First off, a few weeks ago, Lilly had her hearing test done, and she passed with flying colors.  I knew she would.  We had to go to the Children's Hospital to get it done.  I was pretty excited because I haven't been in that building yet, and a lot of Vandy's money goes to the Children's Hospital.  It's really pretty and child friendly.  There are volunteers that go around and give out crayons and coloring book pages to kids to keep them occupied.  It's cheerful and sorta carnival themed and they have great dinosaur paintings on the walls. 

I really enjoy looking at the decor and buildings built by people who had enough money to not only hire a professional to create a working theme, but to then pay to have it done, no expense spared...Jurassic Park style.  ("No expense spared" is a quote from the grandpa man who built Jurassic Park).  The list of buildings I've seen include the Monsanto seed transformation laboratory in Connecticut, the Tribal casinos, and Vanderbilt hospitals. 

So, on to the interesting part.  We were in the waiting room playing with Lilly waiting for the nurse to call us.  An 8 yr old girl walked out and stood waiting for the nurse and her parents.  She was dressed in a loud gaudy outfit.  It was all American Flag stuff, had lots of sequins, was quality looking (so it wasn't cheap) and had matching cowgirl boots.  It was an impressive outfit, even if I didn't particularly care for it.  I wondered why she was dressed that way for the doctors office and I wondered for a second what her mom looked like.  I must admit, I imagined someone from the People of Walmart website.  And then do you know who walked out?  A 6 foot tall Elvis impersonator!  Her dad brought her to the hospital and her dad also looks like Elvis.  That's what I get for passively judging people I haven't even seen yet!

Another interesting story?  When Josh and I first drove Lilly home from the hospital, it was raining...we saw 3 accidents on the way.  (Side note:  My parents couldn't believe that there were THREE ACCIDENTS. Heh.  There are three in this city everyday at rush hour, and you only hope it's not in your path.  I think they were more shocked at the fact that it was just raining, not even hard and people couldn't drive.)  Anyways, I tend to avoid driving in the rain here like you would avoid driving in the snow up north.  Only if you have to.  So, we pull into the driveway of our apartment complex and first thing is the large hill the curves at the top, and just at the apex of the hill are two of the world's worst placed speed bumps.  The guy behind us decided we were driving too slow (which was faster than many of the people I've followed in IMHO) and passed us on that hill, just to slow down to a stop to go over the speed bumps.  And there were only three accidents...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ackbar Has Important Directions

To my surprise, one of the hardest things of having a baby is how hard it is to type and use a computer!  I have never used my phone so much for the internet until now.  The best surprising thing (besides Lil's herself) is how much easier it is to sit around in a bra and underwear all day.  Loving it!  Also, finally, an excuse to not wear deodorant!  I'm super healthy armpit chemicals.  I do stink though. excuse to not shower!  It's like my whole life was a just a practice for having a baby.

Contrary to advice from everyone and all books and the house has never been more well kept!  I'm caught up on laundry, the dishes are almost always done (or there is only one days worth...not three piled up!)  I vacuumed yesterday and realized how easy it was...I'll put it into my weekly rotation of chores.  Next is the bathroom and litter...that's the dirtiest part and my least favorite. 

Also, I'm packing up everything in our apartment because we are moving in three or four weeks.  Time...on the other hand...not something I keep track of well anymore.  Housework, yes...days of the week, no.  I will let you all know on FB later this week where we are moving too.  Is it to a sweet house we purchased in Nashvegas?  Is it out to the desert in Arizona?  Nevada?  Did we decide to become foodies in California?  Did we embrace our hipster selves and rent a studio apartment in Portland?  Did we buy a fifthwheel and tow it with my truck across the country going from Renaissance Festival to Renaissance Festival with Ackbar and a recently acquired collection of trick falcons?  Or will we do the typical Millenial Generation thing and move back in with my parents?  Only time will tell.

(PS if you know already, please keep it on the DL (Down Low) Thanks!)

I'm also spending a lot of time on the couch in the family room.  It gives me a perfect vantage point of Ackbar, who spends an equal amount of time in his baby bath bed.  It's big, blue and plastic, a hand-me-down from a coworker, and he LOVES it.

 I have spent several days observing him in it.  He sleeps facing that direction and he cleans himself facing the other direction.  I'm taking it as a sign of intelligence.  You can also tell if he's peeing or pooping in his litter based on what direction he's facing.

Oh, yeah, how is Ackbar doing with a new baby?  He's slowly warming up to her.  He's started to walk on me and visit me (ask me for food) while I'm holding her this week.  He sniffs her tentatively.  And when she cries a lot, he pretends to sleep while staring at us accusingly with slit eyes.  But, overall, his life has improved.  He has his catbath bed now AND he recently acquired a play mat that is foam covered in plastic (think one year old gymnastic pad thing).  It is soft, yet fuzzy and cool.  It also doesn't hold on to cat hair.  Neither of these things can be burned either!  We have a bad habit of burning all the things Ackbar loves in our fireplace.  He should stop loving firewood and paper though...and cardboard boxes.

Fast forward eight hours...that's how long it took me to get this far.  And now, looking back, I want to make it clear that life is averaging good for me, but each individual moment/day is not.  Today was a bad day actually.  Lillykins would not stop crying and did not want to be put down, and all I wanted to do was put her down.  I did not get my house work done until Josh got home and held her for me.  Do you know what else she did?  I put her in a reusable diaper with the new plastic covers we got, and I think she peed in it.  I don't know if it was pee or sweat.  But the point was to let her air out. I changed her and the second she got a disposable diaper on, she pooped lots of giant poops.  It's what she enjoys the most, pooping in a fresh diaper.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Doc Martin Trauma

Sometimes people put their hands on my belly and want to feel the baby moving.  She, of course, stops moving instantly.  I'm always happy when she refuses to do what is expected of her, but I'm also stressed at the same time because I want to comply to the person waiting, expecting her to move.

She has more hair than any ultra sound technician has seen.  Do you think that will make her tickle on the way out?

To keep myself busy while lay around, stuck on the couch like a giant manitee or beetle stuck on it's back, I watch Doc Martin on Netflix.  Doc Martin is a BBC show (British Television) about a big city surgeon who moves to a small Cornwall town full of interesting and crazy small town characters.  He becomes the doctor there b/c he's too afraid of blood to continue on as a surgeon.  The best way to describe the show is an hour long, dry comedy/drama remake of the sitcom Becker with Ted Danson.  It's pretty much one of the most  hilarious shows I've ever seen...and it's pretty slow moving, sort of.  There is little emotional wrenching and no cliff hangers.  I find it a very relaxing and safe show to watch.

Until the 3rd episode of season 3.

I should have expected something, there were new characters, some characters had left, and I could tell there were new writers.  Well, Doc Martin has an Aunt who lives in the town, as a farmer.  She is older (70's or so, maybe late 60's?), and never wears makeup and is down to earth and practable.  With a regular older person lumpy body, etc etc.  Short grey frizzy hair there is never kept.  Pretty much the most un-sexy person you have ever seen.  Not ugly, but not attractive in any way.  Well, in one scene a young 20 something painter is offering to paint her because she is so unique and attractive.  Then the next scene is of Doc Martin walking into the house without knocking, and I knew what he was going to walk in on.  But I didn't look away.  Want to know why?  Because they don't show graphic sex scenes on American TV, why would the staunch Brittish do it?  Well they did, and it was horrible.  There she was sitting on the kitchen table and he was going at it.  It was the least glamorous and probably most realistic sex scene ever invented.  It was like walking in on your grandparents getting it on.  UGH.  It was horrible.  I was traumatized and had to look away.  As was Doc Martin.  He almost hit a person with his car he was so traumatized.

Then later in the same episode, Doc Martin backed over the same woman's tiny dog and killed it.  And they showed that too and had horrible sound effects!    Then they showed the tiny dog body mangled under the tire!  I had to look away from that too!

What is wrong with the Brittish!?!?

Of course, they would say the same about me, as to fill in the time between Doc Martin episodes I watch a lot of CSI: Miami...which isn't gory and full of murder at all and weird sex fetishes.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Coffee Research - How the K-Cup is Changing Things Up

Coffee in the workplace is a very contentious issue.  I say this based off my vast experience of workplaces and coffee drinkers.  Riiiight.

When I started, there were two types of coffee drinkers, the people who liked it dark and strong and the people who liked it weak and light.  All we were drinking was stale Folgers in a plastic jub from Sam's Club.  It was a testy subject.

To solve the problem, work obtained for us a Keurig machine and a steady supply of K-Cups.  It was a definite moral booster and a great idea.  I hate the Keurig machine coffee now, but I still wouldn't go back.  There is no more silent agression over washing vs not washing the pot, changing vs. not changing the grounds, or questions over who did or did not brew the last pot.  Also do not have two pots plugged in, one for caffiene and one for decaf.

The coffee "snobs" and caffiene lovers order for themselves the Dark Roast coffees, with names like Dark Magic and such.  The non-caffiene lovers order themselves a light roast coffee. 

I drank the dark stuff for a year or more.  Then when I got preggers I switched to the light because I thought it was less acidic.  I've been drinking that stuff for the last 4-5 months and it's been kind of bleh.  This week I switched back to dark just to see, and man there is a difference!

First off, the dark is actually not as acidic.  It has a fuller more tasty flavor.  It is over all better.  Except one thing.

One little thing.

I had a hard time finishing a whole cup of the light roast coffee.  I chug the dark stuff in maybe one or 2 hours instead of 3 or 4.  Then when I'm finished with the Dark Roast...

I CRAVE MORE.  I need it.

This can only mean one thing.  There is a shit ton more caffeine in the light roast than the dark roast. 

(Side note:  I, of course, force myself to wait until 2:00pm or later for my second cup.)

This prompted me to do some research.  Simple research.  What I discovered (Links at end) is that some people say that Dark Roast has less caffiene due to it burning off in the roasting processes.  Other links say that it's not the roasting process that burns off the caffiene, but the volume ratio.  So, if you were to weigh your coffees, 6 grams of light vs. 6 grams of dark, they would have relatively the same caffeine.  Yes.  But the pile of 6 grams of light would be smaller than the pile of 6 grams of dark, due to the difference in density (volume difference) in the roasted beans. The dark has dried out a lot more and is "fluffier" if you will. 

What does this mean?  Well, when scooping out coffee for a drip machine, the more you scooped out the stronger the coffee would be and the darker in color. Regardless of light vs dark roast.  What is the K-Cup measured off of?  Volume or weight?  I don't know, and my initial searches did not answer my question.  I also do not cary with me a scale or own one that would work.

But lets pretend that it's off volume, not weight. That means that the lighter roasts actually have MORE caffiene than the dark roasts, because more grounds fit in a k-cup.  Think of density and such.

Another factor:  Does the amount of water you run through your k-cup affect the caffiene levels?  If you make a small cup with 4 oz of water vs. a large 8 oz. cup of coffee, of course one is going to be watered down more, but is there less caffeine in the smaller cup?  My initial guess is that I think so due to the fact that the more time water spends in contact with the grounds, the stronger it will be.  That's why french presses kick ass.

Then, to confuse it all, the Keurig website says that the Extra Bold coffees have 20% more caffeine.  Can you get an Extra Bold Light Roast?  I don't know.  I also don't know how they get the extra caffeine there.

Or how to properly spell caffiene.  I dont' know that either.

In conclusion, I'm going to keep this all to myself and pretend I'm right and secretly laugh at all my coworkers when they get all coffee snobish or offended by the lack or inclusion of dark roast coffee.  They be all wrong up in here.  I'm also switching back to interesting side note is that the dark coffee is actually easier on the stomach.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

They Had To Reach Top Speed

I have not had a lot to say lately.  I still don't know what to say...  I'm just tired of too much bad stuff and personal stuff leaking out of me at the wrong times, so I had to take a break. 

But there is good stuff I've been learning, and I would like to share.

Did you know that in Australia there is a preserved fossil record of a dinosaur stampede?  All that you can see now are fossilized dinosaur footprints in mud, and they show that it was a stampede.  The most likely scenario is that there were two sizes of dinosaurs at a drinking water hole, small and medium.  They were getting along quite well.  I like to think of it being similar to the part of the book, The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling, where in the dryest of summer, the water at the drinking hole shrinks and dries up.  At some point the Peace Rock appears, and it's a rock that indicates that there is peace among the predators and the prey.  Both need water more than food, so when the Peace Rock appears, there is a truce and all can get a drink without fear of being hunted.

So imagine drinking your water, only you are a dinosaur and everyone knows that dinosaurs have no manners and rules like civilized jungle animals.  Would you listen if you were the size of a house?  No.  So the house sized dino leaps out of the bushes behind the peacefully drinking dinosaurs, scaring them half to death and making them run around crazy like and stampede away, leaving nothing but footprints behind them.

Here is a short educational version.  You can see, if you pay attention, that there are big footprints of one giant scary dino, and little footprints (two sizes, medium and small), of all the terrified dinos:

Here is an artistic rendition of the stampede (VERY GOOD):

I hope you watched both videos.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Relearning Life is Hard

I've been reading a lot over the last few months about assertiveness and how to be assertive and how to be confident.  I got angry at a lot of what I read because why I am I giving my attention to something that I can't figure out how it applies to me?  Self-help books usually make me angry and frustrated.  I don't particularly like reading them.  Well, I just found this blog post:

The Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck

It's the best thing I've read so far on the topic, and it doesn't even deal directly with assertiveness.  I think because if you do these things in the blog, then everything else will follow.  Not caring about things (not worrying) allows for assertiveness and confidence.  Is it possible that my problem is not assertiveness or lack of confidence?  People tell me I need to be more assertive and confident, but when I ask myself that, I feel like I'm always a confident person.  There are situations where I may question myself, especially if it involves sharing food (that's my quirk, so I'm not worried about it), or imposing on other people.  I may seem non-assertive because I don't press an issue if I don't think I can win the battle.  I don't bet unless I know I'm going to win..or lose.  The transition in cultures (north vs south; academia vs. office work; rural vs. urban; American vs. Indian) which all occured to me around the same time, made it super confusing for me to figure out what is right and what is wrong.  I had to change my thinking on so many things. Somethings I thought I knew all about, were clearly unimportant in the South.  Like UofM vs. State.  No one knows what you are saying when you say UP, they think you are saying Yoopee.  I had to learn what the SEC is, and why Texas is important.  I had to live in an individualistic culture but work for community based cultures.  Turns out being a "real" adult in a "real" job is a lot more restrictive and child-like than being a student in grad school.  Hell, what does it even mean to be treated as an adult?  I went from working with people my own age and one experienced professor to working with no one my age and tons of experienced people.  The south does not understand dry humor nor facing a "bad" "shameful" situation face on.  It's better to go around it and not hurt's all part of their politeness rules.  The South is so polite, but the northerners (Yankees as they call them) are mean and short.  But really, it just takes the southerners longer to be mean...they live in a slower paced culture.  I think it's got a lot more to do with the weather than we realize.  Who wants to have a lazy chat about the weather in a 0 degree blizzard?  But in 90 degree 90% humidy weather, you ain't gonna be moving very fast.

It's no wonder I lack confidence in know what to do in situations.  Every situation for the last five years has been brand new to me.  I've had to relearn everything.  Which gets me to a point I want to make,  most everything in that blog I posted above I learned in high school. I believed it in high school.  It's the summation of my teen years, only far better written and thought out.  How frustrating is it that I have to re-learn everything I already knew about life?  And I'm suspicious that I will have to do this every decade or so.  That this is just part of life.  I wonder if meditation makes it easier, it gives you  more time to think and work through these things.

Here is a list of things I've improved on since moving:

1.  Making small talk with strangers on the street, in the store, behind the counter
2.  Driving on expressways and on busy roads
3.  Driving to new places I've never been...without a proper map (or phone).
4.  Not worrying about all the people around me in public places and if they are looking at me....I think this is better expressed as: I'm now used to being around people.
5.  People watching
6.  Cooking greens and beans
7.  Understanding what a suburb really is like
8.  Caring about college football - ROLL TIDE!
9.  Listening to people talk about their home state.  I think this is important to do, as it is a way to help them work through homesickness. I listened to a girl the other day at a dinner talk about Michigan b/c she just moved from there.  I really liked that and I was proud of myself for not butting in.  The purpose isn't to teach people about your homestate but for the speaker to try and bring home closer to them.
10.  A deeper understanding of how important animal rescuing is to people.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wishing The World Was Equal And Fair

Another blogger I read posted something about guilt and how she feels guilty over having nice things because it's not fair and equal in the world.  She may work less hard than the street cleaner, but she gets to go on vacation?  Thoughts like that.  Sometimes I wonder why I was born so lucky, and at the same time so unlucky!

It is my true complaint about life.  All of my others are just daily complaints that come and go, even the big ones. 

It's not right that I can marry the person I love, but some of my best friends can't because they happen to love someone of the same sex.  It's just not fair, nor equal.

It's not right that I chose college and a friend chose motherhood, and I am more "respected" in educated society.  I have never been so ashamed of going to Vanderbilt as when I brought my friend (who is a mother of two and my age) to a Vandy party and all of the "educated at a high end expensive school" students judged young mothers and people who didn't go to  college as being inherently a lessor part of society.  That is just simply not true.  It's just not at all.  What did I gain that she didn't?  A stressful job that has destroyed everything I know about life? Three years spent in a bad chair that hurts my back? Now I have to have kids when I'm old and tired, she on the other hand gets to party it up as they enter school and become more independent.  I'm not so sure college first is the best choice.  She learned about bills, saving money, real world stuff, while I was just pretending to learn about it.  That gives her like 8 years ahead of me on things like that.  What do I got?  An extensive knowledge of Rare Earth Elements (which are awesome and amazing! but do not get you an IRA.)?  It's not right that society in general has different opinions about stay at home moms and non-college educated people.  AND I'm annoyed at putting them in one paragraph...but too lazy to fix it.  You fix it in your head.  These are seperate issues.

It's not right that I get fresh water from the tap without thinking about it, and people in Africa/China/India/many other places (I have poor geography skills), don't have access like that.  The technology is there for them, but the capitalistic need for them to have it is not.  The same goes for medication and birth control.

It's not right that women are expected to wear makeup to prove their worth.  Forgetting all the reasons, but one: Do you know how expensive that shiza is!?!  To get good, proper makeup that looks good on you, you have to either buy a new one each month to experiment to find the right one at $12 each at Target, or go to the mall and get something for $50 or more!  That's just foundation/tinted moisturizer, etc.  You also need Mascara ($8-$30), eyeshadow ($3-$50 or higher), and lipstick/lipgloss ($6-$50 or higher).  That's a lot of money men don't have to spend.  We all hear about food prices going up or they may go up or gas prices have gone up, but do you know where I REALLY see a $3-$5 dollar increase?  Mascara and Nailpolish.  The cheap stuff now is the same price as the most expensive bottle I've ever bought (4 yrs ago or more).  I don't wear much nailpolish.  Another sign that I am a sloppy woman and don't care for myself.

I could go on, but the inspiration has left me.  Just know that life could always be worse and we really aren't in that great of a stopping place.  There's a lot more to improve.

Monday, January 28, 2013

What I Cook With

Why Hello Dear Following:

Today we shall discuss my 10 most essential cooking items.  The idea comes from the blog, Nothing But Delicious, and I thought it was a good idea.  Her list seems more aimed at baking.  As I do not enjoy baking as much as I do cooking, I'm going to list my cooking gear.  I also thought ahead, so the list will be in order of least to most important.

10.  Measuring spoons. 

       These are handy but not really necessary.  Practice eliminates their need.

9.  Tiny Spatula. 

     This was the best wedding shower gift I received.  I have two and I use them almost every time I cook.  They are really good at getting in the nooks and crannies of a blender type item, or small cup or small bowl.

8.  Medium size metal bowl.

Extremely versatile for mixing eggs, mixes, liquids with dry ingredients, holding chopped veggies while you wait for it to be time to add them in.

7.  1 Cup Liquid Measuring Cup. 

This is better than the bowl because you can measure and mix all in one item.  It's just hard if it's too small to do that.  You can even add the milk and the oil in if you do fraction additions correctly, so you only have to pour your liquids in once.  Or, add the oil, add the milk, add an egg and whisk!

6.  Small metal spatula, or metal flipper thing.

This is useful to help flip pancakes, eggs, rice when you are making fried rice and don't want to break the rice kernels in half (so says Josh), flipping food when the pan is too full.  Also useful in cutting frozen ground beef off itself when you are browning it from frozen.  Useful in chopping food in the pan while it's cooking...separating onions from themselves, etc.  Really good at flipping potato cubes.  It is important that the edge is worn down to an angle so you can easily slip it under the food.

5.  Wooden cutting board.

I try to tell myself that any cutting board will do.  But it won't.  I like nice big ones that hold all your veggies while you cut more up.  I do NOT like plastic ones with legs.  I do NOT like glass ones.  We have a silicon one we use for meat so we don't get meat juice in the cracks.  That one works fine.  But I just like my big wooden one.

4.  Knife.

A knife of any kind will work, but the better quality it is, the easier it will be.  I do not like steak knives with plastic handles hidden in heavy desk drawers that leap out and attack you while you are moving the desk.  As a matter of fact, I don't like steak knives at all, and Josh seems to think they are the most important tool in the kitchen and won't let me get rid of the plastic handled attacking steak knives that we do have.  I should just pitch them anyways.  I don't even use them when we do have steak.  A good knife, at the very least, does not have a bendy blade.  Cutting something with a knife that has a blade that bends left or right is as easy as cutting something well with safety scissors.  And just because you can sharpen it, doesn't mean that it's still usable.  If it's been sharpened so much that only a quarter of the original blade is left, I think that you probably sharpen too much, wrong, or needed to get new knives 10 years ago.  A good rule to live by is to never own a knife with a cheap plastic handle.  The cheaper the handle, the cheaper the blade.

(Knives are my favorite)

3.  Wooden Spoon.

I love wooden spoons.  You need many different kinds for different uses.  But if you can only have one, get a nice solid standard one.  Emphasis on solid.  You can stir and hit more with a sturdier spoon and not worry about it breaking and splintering.  The more you use it, the more beautiful it gets.  Some people suggest the bamboo spoons because you can put those in the dishwasher, and they are nice, and it seems to have a thinner edge, so I use it on some medium weight to liquid foods, but I use the thick one (see picture) for big soups and a full pan.

2.  Cast Iron Pan. 

You really just can't cook anything without this.  I prefer this to the fancy no stick pans because you don't need to worry about fancy no scratch utensils to use with it.  The metal flipper thingy can't be used with the non scratch pans.  You'd have to pay more to get a silica covered one.  And a silica covered whisk, and plastic stir spoons, and not stick a spoon or fork in them.  I mean the non-stick pans are nice and I use them, but my true love is the cast iron pan.  You can also put it right in the oven, Josh worries about chemicals and putting the fancy pancy pan in the oven.

1.  Spices, Onions, Garlic

I know these are not tools, but I literally could not cook you dinner without these three things.  These are the essentials of my food.  Spices that are my favorite include Cumin, Salt, Black Pepper, Cajun mixes, Italian seasonings, red pepper flakes, Tabasco sauce, vinegar, caraway seeds and celery seeds.  Celery seeds being the most important of them.

That is my list.  How would your list be different?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sheep, loans, Space Jam, and Volcanoes

Okay.  I haven't been able to post in a while because I couldn't get this page I am typing in to show up!  After a lot of thinking (weeks), I thought I'd try it in Internet Explorer instead of Mozilla, and it works.  The confusing part is that it works on Mozilla on other computers, but not this specific one. HHmmm...

I am pretty angry today. 

What is some interesting stuff that happened this past week?

Well, first, I was inventing this awesome dance to go along with the soundtrack of the movie Space Jam with Micheal Jordon.  It involved dunking an imaginary ball and jumping and kicking backwards like you were flying threw the air, just like Micheal.  I was just about to perfect it when I kicked back and hit a very stury end table with my Achilles Tendon (heel).  It hurt so bad!  There was no more dancing for me.  It bruised and I couldn't wear shoes with back on them all weekend.

The USDA is coming out with $35,000 microloans for farmers, but aimed at new and beginning farmers.  The interest rate is 4.5% and I don't know how much better that is than a bank loan, but my "bad" student loans have an interest rate of 6.2%, which is much worse than 4.5%.  My good loans have a rate of 2.4% and emergancy disaster relief loans are charged at 3.5%  So, I suppose this microloan is a good deal.  Anyways, I am super excited to, get ready for it, start my sheep farm!!  All I need to do is look up the USDA requirements as to what a farm is.  According to NASS, the Ag Census, a farm is anything that makes over $1000 a year.  I thought that was easy to do, but how much do pigs sell for?  Sheep?  Sheep wool?  Oh, I'm getting pigs to supplement my income, teach my children about responsibility and 4H and to eat.  Bacon.  So if I raise 8 pigs, and sell them for $150 each, that's only $900, then I sell $100 worth of wool or snap beans or something.  How much do 8 pigs cost to raise? AND is that worth a loan at 4.5%?  I really wanted to start with 2 pigs and one sheep.  I want a neighbor with chickens so I can get their eggs but not anything else.

Another thought too, is that tree farms sit and grow trees for 15 years (or whatever the year number is, I made that up).  Until the trees are matured, they aren't making $1000 a year, but I know someone who did this and was still able to register their land as a farm.  So I need to look into that.

How much to pigs usually sell for?  More if 4H kids sell them at the fair.

Besides everything above, I also need land to start my sheep farm.  And sheep.  Maybe I should get an exotic species to raise their value.  Maybe I should start with basic sheep first to make sure I know what I'm doing before I invest in rare sheep.

Other things of note:
I went to a place where they provide the pottery and the paint and you paint something and they fire it for you.  It's called Fired Up, where I went.  I painted a plate to match a plate a painted years ago.  The old plate has a sweet dragon on it spewing fire.  This new plate I painted this weekend has a volcano erupting on it!  They match because sometimes I think volcanoes erupting are the cause of many dragon myths.  Volcanoes and dragons are very very similar.  I can't wait to see it glazed and done with it's true colors!  I put a flock of sheep on the bottom of the plate and on the back.  I'm a little worried that they don't match, because the sheep I made are standing there grazing quite content.  I imagine if the plate was truly accurate, they would be running in pure terror away from the volcano.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

In Which I Discuss a "Data Base"

My position at my work is funded by a grant (?)/package of money from another organization.  I work for my work, but most of my "orders" and "tasks" come from the other organization.  This makes things very confusing. Here is an example of how they disseminate work:

I want to emphasize the importance for each of you to have the “data base” completely populated with your respective data beginning from the date you began your employment. The Technical Assistance Program is undergoing an audit at the DC level which is one reason for this urgency.  With the dwindling budgets, the agencies contributing to the funding of the TA Program are looking for some results or success stories which would justify further contributions is another reason for this urgency.  To date, the Technical Assistance Program has provided little documentation which can be utilized to justify its existence.

Your future employment and the future of this program hinges on each of you to illustrate accomplishment!  I highly encourage each of you to utilize this down time to complete such illustration.

I like how database is in quotations first of all, especially since that's exactly what the "data base" is, a database.  The problem is that there are two different pieces of information entered in the database, contact information for all of our contacts and project/task information.  The emails emphasize that we enter in projects, but the weekly training call emphasizes that we should only be working on contacts.  I have also gotten to them all the info they want me to put in this database multiple times in multiple formats.  I also have it entered in a different database for my work.  Too bad the two databases are too different to transfer from one to the other (without complex thought on my part).

Just so you know, the follow up to this email says that beyond the person who made the database, only 12 records have been entered.  I counted all the records I've entered so far...12.  Yeah that's right.  I'm one of the few responsible ones and I don't even work directly for them.  Not that I ever would, even though I would get a cushy "work" from home job, I hold this other organization accountable for each of the worst moments of my life.  Plus I'm white...they barely tolerate me as it is.

 On a happier note,  I think my complete and utter exhaustion from the first trimester is finally wearing off. Yesterday and today I felt awake for the first time in forever and was capable of enough complex thinking to get some work done.  I'm working on a new knitting project, Ellie, with some Crazy Zauberball yarn. This is the first time I've used such small yarn, only size 2 needles!  It also has some complex/interesting aspects such as making button whole things, decreases, and adding a thumb.  All things I've never done before.

*EDIT:  I have done decreases in knitting before, but just not in the type of order and pattern directions that is given to me in this project.