Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chocolate Covered Gummy Bears. OMG.

Chocolate.  Covered.  Gummy.  Bears.

Need I say more?

These little sweet treats are irresistible.  I typically go for savory treats over sweet ones -- I love me some popcorn -- but if I can get my hands on some of these little guys...there is no contest.

I love lots of different kinds of candy and chocolate covered gummy bears combine two of my favorites.  Gummy bears are just dandy (I especially love the mini ones!) and chocolate is divine.  Combine these two and you have a true masterpiece.  They are beyond addictive and I find myself eating all of them in my possession in one sitting.  It is like I cannot stop myself once I start.  They call out to me from the candy bowl.

Lucky for me, chocolate covered gummy bears are usually only found in specialty sweet shops and candy stores.  If I have to drive more than five miles to get them, I can usually convince myself it is not worth it.  They are also fairly expensive.  Convincing myself that spending $30 on candy is not a good financial plan is easy.  So I cut calories and the dent in my wallet by only allowing myself these little delights every once in a while.  My waistline thanks me.  My taste buds do not.

Go.  Go get them.  Now.  You will not regret it.


Monday, April 29, 2013

The Candy Man Can

I absolutely, positively LOVE candy!!!  If I could eat it all day long, I certainly would.  I've never met a candy I didn't like -- except for black licorice.  And, quite honestly, I would probably even eat black licorice in a pinch.  I eat so much candy that my coworkers call me "Junk Mouth."  Not the most endearing nickname, but an accurate one, I suppose.

I'm not a candy snob by any means.  Like I mentioned earlier, I have a sincere love for nearly all kinds of candy.  Chocolates, fruity candies, hard candies, gummy candies, etc.  They all hold a special place in my heart.  I appreciate each kind of candy for it's uniqueness.  But if I had to choose only one candy to satisfy me for the rest of eternity, I would pick Goetze's caramel creams. 


OH MY. 

Heaven in a bag.

I cannot eat enough of them.  The worst/best part is that the Dollar Tree sells them in the big bags.  I can have a whole huge bag of them for $1.  It's a blessing because my favorite treat is just $1 away...it's a curse because my favorite treat is just $1 away.  They are too accessible for me and I can't stop eating them once I start.  In fact, I eat them by the bagful in one sitting.  It's terrible, I know, but I have no willpower when it comes to the caramel creams.  They are just too delicious for me and I am too weak.

I hope that I never live in a world where I am forced to only eat one kind of candy, but if my nightmare was to come true, I would happily live out the rest of my life with unlimited bags of my beloved Goetze's caramel creams. 








Thursday, April 25, 2013

To the Rescue!

I don’t remember that we discussed it ahead of time; I think the spirit just moved me that warm autumn afternoon. The Boy had to be on campus for whatever reason doing grad-student-type things, so I grabbed my gardening gloves and headed into our wild, overgrown backyard with the rake. Now, you know me, fearless readers … I’m not much for voluntarily wandering out-of-doors for the heck of it or for doing manual labor. But there I was, raking to beat the band behind our rented brick house on a fall Saturday. I think I was raking at least two years’ worth of leaves and I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn I was battling a Gemino Curse.

The footprint of the backyard was as big as our house, but since The Boy’s not here to tell me what that translates to in real area and I am also not much for spatial relationships, I’m going to say I raked about 500 square feet that day. (I’ll find out what will probably turn out to be a wildly different truth and update my post accordingly when I see him next.) Time stood still as I chugged along. I was a machine—a sweat-soaked, beet-faced, pigtailed machine. A machine who was being watched. I wheeled around, the project nearly done after hours and hours of hard, dusty, scratchy, blistery work, to find The Boy outside the back-porch door. He was just standing there watching me with an enormous grin on his face and his head cocked ever-so-slightly. I’ll never forget how perfectly himself he was in that moment.


I grinned back. “What?”


“I’ve just never seen you work so hard,” he replied with amusement and bewilderment and quite a bit of pride in his voice.


Fair enough. We were newlyweds. He hasn’t ever seen me work so hard since, either, unless you count the huffing and puffing I do on “Easy to Moderate” hikes.


The Boy walked across the now-neat yard (I was so proud of that yard! I admired it through the window at the sink while washing dishes for weeks afterwards. The grass looked like it had been vacuumed, it was all so straight and neat and debris-free.) and kissed my damp radiator self. He gently freed the rake from my grip so he could take over the last, hardest part where the tree trunks closed ranks near the alley and the ivy vines started snatching at the tines—the part I always called “the little jungle.” He finished the project in what seemed like minutes and then put me in a nice hot bubble bath while he went to pick up Cook-Out milkshakes for us.

He also got poison oak.

I did not.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

"Dazzey Duks" Superman Style

I have so many memories of Superman from over the years that it is hard to choose just one.  I have many memories of him being so kind and generous.  I have a few that make me cry -- like the first time he ever saw Superboy.  I have many that make me smile and I have even more that make me laugh.  I just love spending time with my man.  So, for your entertainment, I have picked one that I always go to when I need a pick-me-up.  Since that is the point of this week's posts, I thought we could all use a laugh.  So, here you go.

Back when we lived in Washington, D.C., we lived in a high-rise apartment building that had a huge awning over the front doors.  It made it nice for rainy days, but it also amplified any sound that happened under it.  (That is paramount to this story, I promise.)  So, one springtime afternoon, we had been out running errands.  I cannot honestly tell you what all we did that day, but I will always remember that just as we turned into our apartment building's parking lot, a song came on the radio.

Now, you must know that Superman likes to sing in the car.  We both do.  He is usually a very restrained person and there have been several occasions on which I wish he were a little more expressive.  I am talking about dancing, being crazy with an audience, etc.  He just does not show emotion in public very well and he will rarely get out on a dance floor with me.  Our entire first dance at our wedding was him asking me how much longer it was going to last.  He did manage to whisper some sweet nothings to me during that dance too, but it was mostly him wishing it was over.

So, the song that came on the radio was "Dazzey Duks" by Duice.  Not typically a song we listen to, but it was on the radio and we turned it up loud.  It is a good one to make you feel young again, you know?  We were both singing along.  As we reached the awning at the front of our building, I turned the music down so that when I got out the entire universe would not be treated to our musical choice.  What happened next is truly one of the funniest things Superman has ever done.

As I got out of the car and shut my door, he put the passenger side window down.  He BLASTED the radio and was singing and dancing along.  It was HYSTERICAL.  I still remember freezing in place and gawking at him because I could not believe it was happening.  I was in shock.  Then, I started laughing.  Before I could even really react beyond laughing, Superman rolled up the window and sped off to park the car.

I still laugh out loud every time I remember Superman practically yelling the lyrics to the chorus of that song at me.  It was just so out of character and I loved it.  He still surprises me sometimes, that man of mine.  Gotta love a man who can jam to "Dazzey Duks" with you -- and try to embarrass you and make you laugh at the same time.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Discovering Paris

As we've previously discussed, I've been blessed to have traveled to many parts of the globe during my formative years.  My husband, on the other hand, had never been given the opportunity to travel abroad, specifically France.  He had taken French in high school in order to earn his foreign language credit.  He loved pictures of the Eiffel Tower.  He made oogly eyes over books about the Louvre.  Quite simply, Jas had a love affair with Paris.

When the opportunity to travel to Paris (as well as Monte Carlo and Amsterdam) with 2 other couples presented itself, we jumped on it.  And now, some 6 years later, we still talk about the memories we made.

Amsterdam and Monte Carlo were incredible, but for Jas, Paris naturally took the cake.  Watching him discover Paris will forever be one of my favorite memories of him.  From the time we stepped foot off the Eurail and onto French soil, Jas was in his element.  He translated signs and asked locals for directions - tasks the others in our party could not do.  Jas took full advantage of his time in Paris, immersing himself in the culture.  One night, he even drug me to the Eiffel Tower late, late at night while the others slept.  My grumblings quickly turned to praises for his idea when the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower lit up the Parisian night. 

Yes, our time in Paris was magnificent and more amazing than I ever dreamt it would be.  And I'm forever grateful that I watched a dream of my husband's come true, right before my very eyes.

Monday, April 22, 2013

I Wonder What is My Favorite Memory of My Husband?

I pondered doing some kind of serious wonder - the Boston marathon bombing took the wind out of everyone's sails last week, and we could do some sort of homage.  But to be honest with you all, I'm weary of seriousness.  I could use a look toward positivity.  And to that end, I thought that - seeing as how all us Wonder Women have been married for a fair bit of time - we could wonder about our Hubsters.  (And if, for whatever reason, this ain't a good week to reminisce about your partner, pick another relative to Wonder about!)

I have a few silly memories of my husband.  But one of my favorites actually occurred many years ago, just before we were married.  We were visiting MSO Rin in her lovely home, and we'd had a few too many lemonades, as they say.  My husband, somewhat overstimulated by his surroundings out West, decided he was a cowboy.  He tipped a hat to the back of his head, and kept calling me "darlin'" and speaking a lasso-wranglin' drawl and walking/waddling as if he'd been riding a horse all day.  I do believe that the drinkies he had that night helped him live out a Willie Nelson fantasy of sorts - his heroes have always been cowboys.  (In fact, our dog is named for Wyatt Earp's brother.  Bet you didn't know that!)

Lots of water has passed under the bridge between now and then, but I'll never forget how I married a cowboy at heart.

What is your favorite memory of your other half?

Friday, April 19, 2013

They'll Probably Be Cancelled ...

… because we’re fans.

The Boy and I have this knack for falling head-over-remote in love with shows on network TV (yes, we recognize that that’s our first mistake) that the suits fall just as quickly in “blah” with. So we watch, we obsess, they cancel, and we mourn.

This cycle has been repeated so much that we think we must have the Grim.

Below is a partial list of those shows we’ve loved and lost, just so you know I’m for serious.

“Last Resort,” “Wonderfalls,” “Journeyman,” “Karen Sisco,” “Alcatraz,” “Prime Suspect” (the NBC one with Maria Bello), “Terra Nova” (well, I saw that one coming but I humored The Boy), “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” “Veronica Mars,” “Pushing Daisies,” “Eli Stone,” “Miss Match,” “Reaper,” “Ringer” (OK, we all know I was on my own there), “Firefly,” “Boomtown,” “Jake 2.0,” “Don’t Trust the B--- in Apt. 23,” “Awake.”

So now I feverishly check up on our favorite shows of the current season (the ones that haven’t already been cancelled, anyway) and start getting really nervous every time we spend an hour (or maybe a half-hour) being superbly entertained by something because it more than likely won’t exist to entertain us next season. Because we liked it too hard, maybe? Like Lenny? And someone from the networks had to pull the plug since we’ve both aged out of the 18-to-34 key demographic and therefore no longer matter?
 
So be fearful, fearless readers, if some of the things you regularly add to your HuluPlus queue include “Happy Endings,” “Up All Night,” “Hannibal,” “Community,” or “The Mindy Project” (OK, we all know I’m on my own there). Because if we like it, and it’s not “Revolution” or “The Following,” its fate probably hangs in the balance.

We apologize in advance.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Quiet Place

Like G Love, we built our house from the ground up.  We chose the lot we wanted and got to customize nearly everything in the house.  We lovingly chose cabinets and floors and wall colors.  We made small upgrades here and there and no one will probably ever notice them but us.  I love our two story entryway and our two story family room.  The house is very open and has a lot of light.

Some rooms I never go into.  Our office, for example.  Superman uses it when he works from home, but when he is not here, the doors are shut and I never have cause to go in.  We have a bedroom that is completely empty save for three laundry racks.  I never go in that room unless I have laundry to tend to.  We have a guest bedroom that has our old bedroom furniture in it.  This room is comfy and complete, but I never have any reason to go in there unless I am cleaning and/or vacuuming.  It sits patiently waiting for our first house guests to arrive in June.

Our dining room contains one piece of furniture, a china cabinet that my parents gave to us when they upgraded theirs after forty years of marriage.  It is not really my style, but I love the history behind it.  So, for now, it holds our wine glasses from various trips and festivals and the toasting flutes from our wedding day.  The dining room has become Superboy's "hoops" room since it contains the basketball goal he got for Easter.  He loves to run around the room and dunk the ball.  We have spent countless hours in the big window in this room watching kids riding bikes, people walking dogs, and families on walks.  Now that the weather is warmer, Superboy looks out the window and declares either, "Walk," or "Yard" -- he either wants to take a walk around the block or he wants to play in the back yard.

I do love my master bedroom.  It is ridiculously huge and we were finally able to get the king size bed I have always wanted.  I used my pregnancy hormones and my wrenched back as an excuse to get a Tempur-pedic mattress out of the deal too!  I love falling into that bed at night and just sinking into it.  I love how Superboy runs around the room while I work out in here and I love how the ceiling fan cools things off.  I love all the light in this room and the soothing bluish green color that we painted two of the walls.

I also love Superboy's room.  It is the only room in the house that is totally complete.  It has the walls painted, curtains hung, and a complete furniture set.  It has a bookcase crammed with books and toys.  We spend hours in the glider looking out the window and reading books after he wakes up from his naps.  We decorated the room with blue and brown and a pirate teddy bear theme.  I know, it sounds weird, but I promise you that it is precious.  Superboy loves to say hello to those bears and he can be seen on his baby monitor touching the pirate ship that sails above his crib.  There is a pirate ship that my father built for Superboy.  There is a tiny baseball glove on a shelf waiting for his little hands to get just a little bit bigger.  I love the idea of this room mostly.  It is his and his alone.  I imagine him growing up in this room, in this house.  One day those pirate teddy bears will be gone; one day Superboy will be gone.  I have no doubt I will go into that room and sit on the bed and cry.  I love this little corner room; this little piece of heaven on Earth.

However, my favorite room in the house is my closet.  Stay with me here.  I know it sounds strange, but I love this closet.  The floor plan we chose was already drawn up for us and we were not able to make any structural changes to it -- when people first see the closet, they always look at me like, "Whoa!  No wonder you built your house the way you wanted!"  I swear, people, that this closet was drawn like this even before I came around.  I just got lucky.  I can lay on the floor of the closet and do snow angels on the carpet and not touch a wall.  It is HUGE.  Massive.  It has more space than I will ever need, but I enjoy trying to fill it up.  I have all of my clothes in one place (finally!).  I call it my big girl closet.  It has a huge window, so I can feel the breeze while I hang up clothes in the evenings.  I can listen to birds chirping and children playing basketball.  It is a quiet room that has a door.  I can shut out the world in this closet.  Sometimes I go in there, shut the door, and just sit.  I am quiet and I cannot hear anything.  This was a big help to me when Superboy decided to fight bedtime and scream and scream and scream.  I just sat in that closet and cried and cried.  I make phone calls in that closet while I fold laundry.  I write in my journal.  It is my own little space.  Every other room in the house is "ours" and this room is all mine.  It is funny, really, to think that I have this amazing house and the place that I gravitate to is this tiny corner.  I think it is the stillness that I crave.  I am an introvert at heart and with my days filled with Superboy, sometimes all I want is a quiet place to escape.  Just a few minutes of nothingness.  So, after that little boy drifts off to dreamland, I often find myself in my closet.  Ah, silence.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mr. Plum, with the candlestick, in the kitchen.

There aren't really any rooms in my house that I truly dislike.  I would love to do a little remodeling to our office.  I would love to update the master bath.  But as a whole, I honestly like my home.  It suits my family very well and I feel very blessed to call it my own.

If I had to pick my favorite room, however, I would definitely pick my kitchen.  Oh sure, I would love to rip down the floral border that the previous owners hung (which sounds way worse than it really is) and give the room a fresh coat of paint.  I would also like new window treatments if the funds were available.  But even those things truly don't bother me.  I don't come home from work each day, look around my kitchen and think, "Boy, this sucks."  On the contrary, I like it quite well. 

It's an eat-in kitchen with darker cabinets and faux granite countertops.  The tile backsplash wraps around the entire kitchen while an island sits squarely in the middle of the room.  The island comfortably sits two and has ample storage underneath where I stow pots and pans and baking dishes.  Our table (which may be too large for the space, although I like it quite nicely) and chairs sits beside the kitchen area.  Because the table is so large, the hanging light above it doesn't hang directly in the middle of the table.  It actually hangs mostly over Little Mama as we eat dinner each night.  Yes, the physical features of the kitchen are nice.  Plenty of storage, plenty of countertop space, a large sink, island, table, etc, etc. 

The best part about my kitchen?  The memories that we've made there.

Other than the hours that we sleep in our beds, we do most of our living in the kitchen.  When I walk in the door from work at night, the girls are usually hanging out there.  On most nights, I'll find Little Mama doing homework and Baby Angel coloring at the island.  We have sat at that island for countless hours, working on school projects, checking over homework, proofing research papers, practicing spelling words....Dear God, the number of hours we've practiced spelling words at that island. 

We've made dozens upon dozens of cookies in the oven.  The countertops have withstood the girls climbing on them to reach their favorite water bottles from the back of the cabinet ump-teen million times.  We've whipped up numerous batches of hummingbird nectar at the stove. 

The table though is where it's at for our family.  Rarely do we skip eating a meal together.  Oh sure there are nights when Jas works late and can't join us or I'm off at a conference in another state.  But most nights, we eat a nutritious meal together as a family (and share our highs and lows from the day!). 

Other than meals and the occasional homework assignment that's not completed at the island, we play lots and lots and lots of games there!  We're on a big "Clue" kick right now (hence the title of this entry), but we've played our fair share of Uno Attack, Trivial Pursuit (the kid edition), Solitaire, Spit (a card game I learned as a kid), Trouble, Mancala, and Dominos at that table.  A comprehensive list of all games played on that large piece of wood would be nearly impossible for me.  We are definitely game playin' fools in this household.

Ah, that table and chairs.  They were a gift to me from my in-laws when I graduated with my masters.  I've only had them for about a year and a half and until recently, I would freak the freak out when a new scratch or dent would appear.  I'm not sure why I've chilled out about it these past few months, but now, I don't mind those scratches.  In fact, when I Pledge it each weekend, I actually smile as I wipe my rag over its kid-made flaws.  All of them hold a memory for me and they remind me that all too soon my babies will be gone.  I suddenly found that scolding my babies for scratching a piece of wood did nothing to enhance my happiness in life.  In fact, I realized that by doing so, I was placing more value on a piece of wood than I was on my own children.  So now I smile when I see the 1,492 scratches on Baby Angel's side of the table, each made because she just.can't.sit.still.during.meals.  The little speck of nail polish that refuses to leave reminds me of all the manicures and pedicures we have given one another.  In my mind's eye, I will forever see Little Mama flinging her backpack on to the table when I spy that super deep scratch on the corner.

Oh, dear friends, we've made a trillion and one memories in our kitchen and we've only lived here for 1 year and 8 months!  The physical features of the kitchen will become marred.  Faucets will start to leak, microwaves will short out, and tile floors will get scuffed.  But as corny as it sounds, the memories made within the walls of one's home will shine brighter with each passing day.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Guest Room

I only recently moved into a new house . . . the third address I have had since MSO Rin and the Boy purchased their abode, actually!  The Husband and I designed this house and had it built to our specs, and I really love it.  It's a good size for our family, but not so big that I can't keep up with cleaning it.  We have a comfortably large master bedroom, a study perfect for when we work from home (which we both do often), a small and efficient kitchen with cream colored cabinets and hardwood floors, and just exactly the right amount of rooms.

That said, we just moved into this place after about a decade of being povertous (that's a word I just made up) graduate students.  We had to take the furniture from our medium-sized grad student apartment and use it to furnish two places - the Husband's small bachelor pad in the town where he works during the week, and our glorious new house.  So our glorious new house is still gloriously empty.

The formal living room is unfurnished - full right now of the boys' junk.  The dining room has a table and chairs in it, but no pictures, no buffet, and it looks decidedly unfinished.  Our master bedroom has a king mattress and box springs on the floor - I use a dining room chair as a bedside table, and the Husband uses an upturned milk crate.  The boys' room is fairly complete, but still lacking a chest of drawers and a toy box to corral the pile of toys that I am constantly fighting to keep from overtaking my life.  There are no rugs in any of the rooms, no pictures on most of the walls.

This is not a complaint.  I love my house, and I think it's wonderful that we have years of choosing and picking and supplementing and decorating ahead of us.  I'm very domestic, I like nesting, and adding this-or-that item that I picked up from a thrift store or craft fair or vacation is one of the major ways I express my creativity. It's nice to know I have years of that ahead of me, and have something to work toward, and we have already begun adding a bit here, a bit there.  However.  It echoes in here a bit.  Sometimes it kinda feels like a warehouse.  I hate my "bedside table" - I will cop to that complaint.  I'd love for my bed to be up off the ground.

Which is why the guest room is my favorite room.  At the top of the stairs, down the hall from the boys' room and the upstairs bath, is a decent-sized guest room that is the only fully furnished room in the house.  It contains the 1920s furniture suite that we received as a gift from my husband's grandparents - a family heirloom, purchased new by his grandmother's mother.  In the old apartment, this was our master bedroom furniture.  The bed is just a full size, which is why we moved it to "guest room" status - it is very hard to share a full bed with another adult.  (People must have been smaller a hundred years ago.)

The furniture is old but well-made - it's been painted a few colors over the years, and is now a dark gray blue.  But some of the old layers of paint show through - it's a legitimate "shabby chic" that you'd pay a lot of money to have faked on a Pottery Barn piece.  A chest of drawers, a vanity table, a small rocker, side table, and full bed grace this room.  There is a lamp on each bedside table.  There are pictures on every wall - pretty much every decent picture from our old house is in here, because their small size is proportionate to the room (whereas they'd be swallowed up and look odd on any of the larger downstairs walls).  I have a lovely table clock, some pictures, an old shabby suitcase and hat box - I even put a cookie jar in there full of Ghirardelli chocolate squares.

Sometimes, when I feel a little alienated by my echoing, empty downstairs, I go upstairs and lay on the guest bed.  It gives me a feeling of control, and of being settled.  It's a cute room, cozy and old and with links to my husband's family's past.  Although virtually everything in it was given to us, it's all stuff I would have picked out myself if I had gone shopping in an antique mall.

Unlike MSO, I don't hang out in my favorite room much.  But I do like knowing it's there.

Monday, April 15, 2013

I Wonder What's My Favorite Room?

The Boy and I have been seriously considering talking about making a plan to think about maybe moving. Not to a new city/state, just to a new dwelling. I have decided for no particular reason that I want another bathroom; neither of us wants to stay in a condo forever; The Boy would like somewhere to tinker with his beer-brewing supplies; we might like to get a puppy someday. But the notion of facing the uncertainty about whether or not our current home would sell in a timely fashion fills us both with abject terror so the discussion grinds to a halt pretty quickly … as would this Wonder, if I were to wonder about what kind of place we might find, so instead, I’ll focus on the favorite part of my current cozy home. And when I say “cozy,” that’s total real-estate speak for “awfully small”: we’re rocking fewer than 1,000 square feet, so there aren’t all that many rooms from which to choose.

I like our place well enough, and have actually said recently that if we could magically move it to its own lot, make it all on the ground floor, and add a bathroom (I’m really serious about this bathroom thing, y’all), I’d be content. The kitchen’s open and well-laid-out, there’s enough closet space, and I don’t hate the carpet enough to take the time or budget to change it.

Our little second bedroom, which we’ve turned into our home office since The Boy came home from his stint in Vegas a few (almost three! Where’d the time go?) years ago, is oddly enough my favorite room in the house these days. I say “oddly” because it’s not even finished … not a single picture hangs on the walls, there are no curtains, and a good stiff carpet-cleaning is long overdue. We ran out of steam after we painted, especially when the possibility of putting the condo on the market came up: we didn’t want to personalize things too much (or have a bunch of nail holes to fill) if we were going to turn around and leave soon after. And then after a while, we just got used to seeing the frames on the floor propped up against the wall rather than on the wall. Sometimes I pretend I can still smell the paint just so I don’t feel so lame … as though maybe it’s still not quite dry enough to decorate in there just yet.

But we did pick out some sweet little office furniture and a soft-purple loveseat, so when we’re in the house and not parked in front of the TV, this is where we spend a fair amount of time. The loveseat is just big enough for me to curl up to read with all my magazines at my feet while The Boy is at the computer desk. Turn on some Sirius and we’re good to stay in those positions for hours on a cold and dreary weekend like the one that just ended. The walls are a peaceful light gray (I think the color name is Porpoise, which makes me happy) and the loveseat’s throw pillows are super-fluffy.

One of the reasons I love this room is that when we’re both in the groove—The Boy tip-tap-typing away while I delve into issue after issue of backlogged magazines—that contented hush you find in a nice library steals over everything and time fades away. I never really liked my college library too much (I will forever contest that it smells vaguely of Band-Aids) but I did always relish the feeling of communal studying. And then when you simply had to talk about something other than whatever you were reading, there was a delicious little thrill from breaking that companionable silence.

Our office doesn’t have library rules: there’s the Sirius helping us rock out sans headphones, and we can still break for a chat if there’s something I read that makes me laugh or gasp out loud or if he wants help tweaking the phrasing on something he’s writing, but for the most part we’re just happy to be in the same space yet doing our own things.

So the unadorned, unassuming office is my favorite room in our tiny castle. What’s yours?

Friday, April 12, 2013

What I Wish I Had Known About My Body

Growing up I never had any body image issues.  I honestly never really thought about it.  I always felt strong and that my body could do anything I wanted it to.  Ah, youth.  In my twenties, I worked out a lot because I enjoyed it and also enjoyed eating whatever I wanted.  I never gave my body a second thought.  My jeans always fit, my chest was always the same size and I never worried about picking out a bikini.  My early thirties were kind to me as well.  Go ahead and hate me for a second.  I get it.  However, I got my comeuppance.

Almost the minute I found out I was pregnant, I was miserably sick.  I had all day sickness that left me feeling so nauseous all the time that the only thing that could help me were carbs (and an anti-nausea prescription from my doctor!).  I ate nearly constantly trying to quell the nausea.  It would work sometimes and other times I was just left feeling too full and still nauseous.  It was super fun.  This continued for my entire pregnancy.  After a while, I was able to eat some other foods but I kept returning to the old reliable carbs.  I did gain a decent amount of weight (but not an insane amount) while pregnant, but I continued to work out.  Yes, many times I ran from the gym to the bathroom to throw up, but I still went to the gym every day.  Pregnancy is so glamorous!

The little flutters I felt from Superboy were nice.  I thought it was adorable when he got the hiccups or would tumble around inside me, but mostly I just wished my pregnancy would be over and I could start feeling normal again.  Normal is relative here as I only mean feeling like I didn't want to vomit 24/7.  "Normal" life is something that will never return for me -- I expected that, wanted that and I am totally okay with that.  Thankfully, the vomiting 24/7 did go away.  WOO!

I started working out as soon as I was given the green light at my six week post-partum check-up.  I did short workouts of twenty to thirty minutes and saw the weight fall off.  This was a nice side effect of doing something that I had really missed.  Working out is such an integral part of me that I really felt strange not doing it for those six weeks.

I nursed Superboy for thirteen months.  I am not telling you this for any other reason than informational purposes.  It was almost as if the minute that I started nursing him that my appetite returned in full force.  I literally could not eat enough.  I was constantly starving and I was SO HUNGRY.  I wanted to eat everything and I did.  It was almost a compulsion.  I had heard stories about how nursing burns extra calories and I knew I was working out, so I hoped that those two things would counterbalance my insane appetite.  I continued to lose weight through the holidays of 2011.

Then, in January 2012, a switch got flipped.  My body stopped dropping weight.  I was still eating like a person going to the electric chair and there was nothing that I did that could burn as many calories as I was eating.  I was also terrified of doing anything that would diminish my supply for nursing.  My chest hurt constantly, so my beloved running was off the table.

Yes, Wicked M, devoted runner, has not been running.  I think that is the thing that I miss most about my old life.  The freedom of a morning run while listening to the sounds of the world (or the sound of Britney Spears on my iPod, but whatever).  I have tried tons of workouts at home, but none of them give me the satisfaction or the calorie burn of running.  (Note:  I am still not running on a regular basis because Superman travels for work and is gone four days a week.  I love to run, but I have zero interest strapping Superboy into a jogging stroller and pushing thirty pounds of weight in front of me.  I guess I do not love running that much.)

I never talk to anyone about how betrayed I feel by my body.  It used to know what it was doing and ever since pregnancy and motherhood begun, it has turned on me.  I am so angry about it sometimes.  These extra pounds that cling to my frame for dear life.  I try to eat well, I work out six days a week and still...

I have a belly.  I never had that before.  There used to be a six pack there!  Now, I have belly flab and a pooch that refuses to budge no matter how many crunches and planks I do.  My chest is still huge even though I stopped nursing Superboy over six months ago.  What the hell, body?  Everything you read about being a mother is about accepting your body for what it has done and that you should appreciate the miracle of pregnancy and motherhood.  Honestly?  As far as I can tell, pregnancy is just about the worst designed process in the entire world.  The first year of motherhood is so freaking stressful, that I find it difficult to believe that anyone is not stress eating and/or is actually losing weight.  Women who do lose the baby weight and wear bikinis to the pool?  I want to punch.  Like, HULK SMASH.  Instead, I go home and cry.

I used to be so confident.  I used to love my body.  I do love how it carried Superboy.  I do love how it allowed me to nurse him for those thirteen months.  I hate how it has betrayed me.  I hate how it has become accustomed to this extra layer of fat and that it adamantly refuses to let it go.  I hate that no one besides my mother and husband have told me I am beautiful in at least sixteen months.  I want to cry, scream and punch things.  As far as I am concerned, I think that women who have carried babies should get some sort of weight loss "gift" from the universe.  I mean, where was that part in this whole design?  You give birth and POOF.  You instantly snap back to what you looked like before.  That only seems fair since you just spent your entire pregnancy looking and feeling like a beached whale.

Pregnancy is rarely cute.  Motherhood, nursing and the after effects are even less cute.  So, here I am.  Telling you that I hate how I look underneath my clothes (and even in some clothes!  That pouchy belly shows under almost anything!).  I am so appreciative of my body allowing me to have Superboy, but man, if I could just lose these last pounds.

I wish I had known.  I wish I had known that there was never going to be a return to that body I had before.  Sure, I had cellulite on my thighs and a tiny chest, but I never once disliked those things.  I always loved how I looked.  I just wish I had known what was to come so that I could have taken a nice long look in the mirror to say goodbye.  To thank the universe for allowing me to look that way for so long.  Maybe that would have helped me to feel less angry about the situation?  -sigh-  I do not want to resign myself to the situation, I want to continue to fight to look better for myself.  I want to let the anger go.  I guess I am, and will always be now, a body of work in progress.


**This has absolutely nothing to do with how much I weigh.  I have no idea how much I weigh.  I have not weighed myself since last November 2012 because it depressed me so much.  I just know that I no longer look like I did two years ago and it makes me damn sad.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Amazing Gals

I must say, reading those kind words from my fellow WW makes me embarrassed.  I'm not very good at receiving compliments, so it was hard to take in their words.  I am, however, really good at dishing out compliments, so let's begin!

Wicked M - I applaud you for your transition to mommyhood.  You went from Power Professional who was really nervous (and I honestly can't stress "really" enough, folks!) about having a baby, to All Pro Mom with ease and grace.  I had a much harder time with "The Transition" and sincerely admire you and your ability to move from the work force to stay-at-home mom.  You are fierce when it comes to those you love - your family and close friends.  There is a protection and love that is incredibly evident with those you cherish most.

MSO Rin - Girl, you LIGHT up this world!  Your laugh, your smile, your presence -- the others hit the nail on the head when speaking of you.  You are a best friend to everyone you meet and have a way of making others feel included.  You have a zest for life and are always up for a good time.  While I feel my optimism and sunny outlook on life have faded over the years, your disposition has held firm.  I truly, truly admire you for that.  You have the ability to brush off the crappy things that come along and focus on the good.  That, my friend, is why I love you.

G Love - I am amazed by your drive and ambition.  You go after what you want out of life and don't let anything stand in your way.  I hesitate too much and think about the "what ifs."  You, sweet Love, don't see the "what ifs;"  you see where you want to be and go for it.  The fact that you do this simply boggles my mind and also makes me a bit envious.  You are brilliant and juggle a successful career, marriage, and mommyhood with finesse.  Seriously, you are a triple threat and maybe, sorta make the rest of us feel a bit inferior!  ;) 

I am so honored and blessed to call these three marvelous, accomplished, amazing women my friends.  


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Love Letters

MSO Rin – Ms. Rin, one of my bridesmaids, was described in my wedding program as “the life of the party.”  It’s a clich├ęd but accurate description of a woman who brings sparkle and laughs to any room.  Like Tom and Wendy Haverford (Parks and Rec?  Anyone?), if you have a lame party that no one is enjoying, insert one MSO Rin into the crowd and suddenly things’ll turn around.  Rin doesn’t take herself (or anyone else) too seriously, but takes seriously the work of tending to her friendships.  She puts in the work for the people she cares about – not many people do, or even understand that it must be done.  Rin’s career is in a field dear to my (and her) heart, and I am equal parts envious and impressed that she just serenely situated herself right into doing what she loves, with her Boy right alongside, despite the fact that it’s a pretty tough field to make a career out of.  She is easy to be with, easy to make laugh, easy to love.  And I do love her, even if I don’t call often enough because CHILDREN. 

Super jane – I won’t even go on about how the selfless surrogacy knocked me flat on the ground, because I think we’ve all touched on that awesomeness a million times and I can’t think of anything new to say about it.  Instead, I’ll talk about sj’s unassuming nature – she’s a classy girl who drinks Natty Lite, and I hope that conveys what I intend for it to convey.  Super jane has every reason to be snobbish and full of herself, because she is extremely well educated, accomplished and respected in her career, has a strong marriage of over a decade, and is raising two delightful daughters.   But instead of resting on her well-earned pedestal above the rest of the world, Ms. jane is open and warm and friendly and happy to crack open a can of ice cold cheap beer and have a gab session with friends - or strangers who instantly become friends.  Her sunny and fun nature has helped her cultivate relationships with her family and with friends near and far that I admire – this woman is beloved by many, and that number includes me.

Wicked – Though her name implies otherwise, M is anything but Wicked.  Sweet, loving, and loyal are three more accurate monikers that come to mind.  Wicked is also one half of a strong and supportive marriage, and has strong familial and friendship ties that dragged her back home where she belongs after years of experimenting with living in other places.  Put simply, she is so delightful that her family and friends couldn’t bear to be without her, and so they called her home.  Wicked, like me, is married to a travelin’ man, and spends the bulk of her weeks as a “single mom,” home with an adorable Gerber baby-turned-toddler.  She fills the role with joy, throwing herself into the “project” of motherhood with as much enthusiasm as she has given to our sorority, to her job with that sorority, to her running, to her friends, to her marriage.  Wicked loves her kid, her husband, her family, her friends, and her life, and that positivity and joy makes her easy for me and all of her friends to love her right back.

:) Love all you girls.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Why They're Wonderful, in One Word

super jane: Peace. You create it for your family (blood and bond), even amid hectic work and school schedules, and it spills out to soothe everyone else with whom you interact. You’re able to weather the extremes of life knowing your own soul. You relish faithfulness and bravery and that makes you calm and fearless—two essential attributes for the warrior-queen mother you are.

G Love: Poetry. Your life is full of it, often by your own subconscious design, and it glimmers underneath everything you say and do. You’re a Renaissance woman who fully imbues all the facets of day-to-day existence with depth and hope. You value art and nature and that makes you wise and beautiful—two necessary attributes for the fairy-teacher mother you are.

Wicked M: Panache. You effortlessly exude it, taking care to also be open and down-to-earth, and you fiercely encourage it in all your loved ones. You’re always authentic and original, sparkling with the ideal blend of thoughtfulness and mischievousness. You prize humor and heart and that makes you charismatic and supportive—two vital attributes for the pixie-champion mother you are.

Monday, April 8, 2013

What I Love About You

I know that we have done a post like this before, but that was YEARS ago.  So, I thought it was high time we gave each other some sweet words.  Everyone can use a kind word every once in a while, so here it is.  Why I love my fellow Wonder Women...let me count the ways!

G Love - I love how beautifully you balance your life.  You seem to have it all together and you never miss a step.  You keep a sense of humor while raising two boisterous boys and you have found a career that suits you perfectly.  You are always kind and helpful.  You are always quick to offer a gentle word when a friend needs it and you are really funny!  I love your beautiful eyes and lovely voice.  I love that you still blog about your everyday life.  

MSO Rin - Ah, my friend with the best laugh.  I appreciate how you listen to me when I cry and talk out my frustrations.  I love how you laugh with wild abandon.  I appreciate that you are a supportive friend.  You have an amazing sense of humor.  You have the best way of describing things so vividly that I always feel that I am right there with you.  You are a talented writer.  You gave the best toast at my wedding that I could have ever hoped for.  You live your life with gusto and verve. You are not afraid to put yourself out there.  I truly admire you. 

super jane - You are the definition of a selfless person.  You have a kind spirit that infuses itself into everything you do.  You have a quick wit and I appreciate your love of rap and cheap beer.  You have the prettiest smile.  I love seeing you interact with your children and the way that you are gentle with them and are also firm.  I love how you love people.  I love your determination and your willingness to go after what you want.  

I had to stop myself from writing paragraphs about each woman.  I could go on and on.  All of the Wonder Women are just good people.  I am a lucky girl to have them in my life.  Indeed.  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

High Low

I actually attempted to type my high/low post a couple of times, but unfortunately my weeks - though usually contented - tend not to have much in the way of variety.  High/lows are more apt on weekend days for me - I just had nothing interesting to say about this week!

So, belatedly, I'm going to do a high low for my Easter weekend . . .  And I'm going to start with the lows, so we can end on a high note.

LOWS
1. We had visitors, which meant that I was unable to do my normal laundry/cook for the week/run errands/catch up on a few hours of work.  That tends to leave me a little frantic and panicky when Monday comes, and adds a layer of frantic all through the week - if I don't have my week's meals cooked and the boys' breakfasts already set out and the laundry done and at least folded, if not put away . . . well, my weeks of being a "single mom" become a little out of control.

2. One of the children - I don't know which - got something sticky on my couch.  My New.  COUCH.

HIGHS
1. We had visitors!  And they included my tiniest baby niece, who was 5 pounds + at birth and is thus, at 3 months, still only about 11 pounds.  My boys were 11 pounds by their 2nd week of life - I have never been able to enjoy a delicate baby.  But this little girl is the most content, chill, happy, easygoing little 3 month old you've ever seen, and she's also very wee.  My heart sang.  (The boys were totally into her too, and have since been talking about us going out to buy a new baby for them.  Jake plans to name it "Strawberry Shortcake.")

2. I also got to see my 4 year old niece play with my sons, and they love each other so much.  It was fun.

3. I got to cook a big Easter meal with my brother in law, who loves to cook as much as I do.  We married non-cooking siblings, but luckily for those siblings, we are both whizzes in the kitchen.

4. I got to have a pedicure with my sister in law.  I've had only about a half dozen pedicures in my life, usually before I was in a wedding (although occasionally as a sisterly treat).  My SIL talked me into this one, and we had a fun afternoon.  I also now have pretty blue toenails.


So that was more like a sneaky way of telling ya'll about my Easter.  But there you go.  My post. A day late and a dollar short, but done!

Friday, April 5, 2013

I wonder if I'll ever be a surrogate again.

During the last trimester of my surrogacy, I swore I would NEVER EVER IN A MILLION YEARS EVER be a surrogate again.  EVER.  I was miserable beyond belief, both physically, emotionally, and mentally.  I was done.  I begged my husband to never let me put myself through it again.  Yes, the last couple of months were pretty tough.

As with any pregnancy, the physical pain was expected.  The emotional and mental toll that carrying someone else's child took on me, however, was a little unexpected.  I never grew weepy thinking about handing the sweet boy (whom I'll refer to as "Baby") over to his parents.  I never got that attached to him (and when I told a coworker that, she promptly told me that I had "a heart of stone."  I bit my tongue so hard to keep me from telling her to suck it, but that's another story for another time.).  Although I love him dearly, I never developed that Mama Bear maternal instinct for him.  Our relationship was (and still is) more of an Aunt/Nephew relationship.  What nearly did me in emotionally and mentally was dealing with his parents.

The relationship I had with the intended parents (IPs) was different from what most surrogates experience.  Most surros are matched with IPs through an surrogacy agency.  In my situation, I'd known the IPs for years.  The IM (intended mother) was a sorority sister of mine.  In fact, she was a bridesmaid in my wedding and I in hers.  By the time we decided to go on this surrogacy journey, we had known each other for 16 years!

For the most part, she was wonderful.  She never questioned what I ate or if I took my prenatals or if I was taking care of my body.  She was very vocal about the fact that she trusted me 110% with Baby and never - not for 1 second - felt the need to check up on me.  I sincerely appreciated that.

What eventually got on my last ever-loving nerve was the fact that she's a control freak.  And for those of us who have had babies, we know that Baby calls the shots, not us.  I nearly went insane trying to make her to realize that no matter how much she planned, we could not control when Baby would arrive.

A few weeks prior to Baby's arrival, everything came to a head.  She was stressing me out with a number of issues and I couldn't hold it in any longer.  We had a serious Come to Jesus talk after a doctor's appointment (and a few emails after we parted ways) and I let it fly.  I may or may not have said some pretty nasty things to her.  I may or may not have dropped the f-bomb on her quite a bit.  Suffice it to say, my words were a verbal smack in the face which she (in my opinion) most certainly needed.  It was long overdue.

Amazingly enough, life got much better after I got everything off my chest.  A few weeks after the blow up, Baby arrived and life was so good.  The day he entered the world was amazing and my heart was full.  It feels weird to say, but the whole experience was even more mind blowing and spiritual than when I had my own daughters.  Knowing that I helped to create a family still makes me feel all warm inside.  I simply burst with pride when I see pictures of him, receive texts about him, or visit with him.

And while I feel 87% certain that I will never do it again, there is that other 13% that I can't stop thinking about.  The thing is - they have 1 remaining set of embryos that are still frozen.  One, solitary set of embryos (they are frozen in pairs) waiting for someone to bring them to life.

It kills me and I think about it probably more often than I should.

We've all discussed the fate of these 2 tiny embryos between ourselves.  Here's where everyone stands on the topic:

Jason (my incredible husband who supported me 100% while I carried someone else's baby): No way, no how.  End of subject.  (Of course, the other night while we were having dinner with friends, I overheard him easing up on that position.  I'm still in shock.)  If the IPs want to use a surro again, they need to hit up one of the IM's sisters (and she has several that didn't step up to the surro plate).

IF (intended father):  The last I heard, he was on the No Thank You bandwagon.  Having a baby is hard and I think he would be okay letting Baby be an only child.  He has made it clear, however, that if they decide to use a surrogate again, he wants me to do it.  No pressure, right?

IM (intended mother):  I honestly can't get a good read on her.  Sometimes she'll talk about wanting another baby and other times she says they just can't swing it financially which I get.  Good Gosh, IVF if so freaking expensive.  She has mentioned donating the embryos to a childless/embryo-less couple a few times.  Obviously, they are hers to do with as she pleases, but I did tell her my thoughts on the subject.  For me personally, there is no way I could go through life knowing that Jason and I could have another biological child being raised by someone else.  My life would feel so incredibly incomplete.  But, of course, it's not my call to make.

Me: Oh boy.  I'm a nutcase and all over the board.  Depending on the day, I could go either way.  I've told the IM that I'm done and that I'm officially off the surro market.  If she wants to try with the last set of embryos, she can count me out.  I have really, really, really encouraged her to use that last set of embryos on herself.  And while it seems medically impossible, I think she should give it a shot.

But, what if she doesn't try going through IVF herself?  What if she decides that she doesn't want to or can't mentally get herself to do it?  I know those embryos aren't mine, but I feel an incredible sense of responsibility to them.  I feel like I'm their only hope of living outside of a petri dish.  I'm their only hope for a shot at Life.  They can't stay frozen forever.  As you may have picked up by now, I'm pro-life.  The thought of them just letting those embryos die because I didn't do something makes me sick to my stomach.

But, the choice is not mine.  It's not my question to wrestle with, but I still can't stop thinking about it.

I guess only time will tell.  Perhaps in another year or so we'll be closer to an answer.  What I do know, is that I'm pretty proud of what I did for my friends as well as Baby.  They are all 3 so special to us.  Our lives are forever entwined and I am very, very blessed.

(PS. If you have questions about my surrogacy, please don't hesitate to ask.  I am an open book and will answer any and all questions you may pose.)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ups & Downs

Today's Ups
1.  It's Spring Break! Hooray! Peace and quiet!
2.  I have started filling my summer dance card and it's so very exciting. SPOILER ALERT: MSO Rin will get to visit her favorite Hoosiers in June. You heard it here first!
3.  There's a lovely bottle of Imagery WOW Oui in my fridge waiting to be enjoyed with a delicious dinner this evening. Now I just have to skeedaddle home and cook it.
4.  My gym-bunny buddy and I have made every workout date we've made so far this week and I think the rest of the wek will be just as successful.

Today's Downs
1.  It's Spring Break! Boo! I have to actually do all the busy work I've been putting off all semester (or in the case of one supremely dull project, the busy work I've been putting off for almost an entire calendar year)!
2.  I have known for a few months now that I wasn't going to make it to HC for our big ADPi celebration that's in 10 days, but it finally seems real since it's finally April. I will start planning now, therefore, to make sure nothing stands in the way of my attendance at a future class reunion. Anybody wanna decide which one that will be: 15 or 20?
3.  It's finally sunny around here (I'm wearing capri pants--oops, that's an "Up." Sorry for mixing my lists) and the call of the deck at a nice restaurant on the river is soooo strong ... and who wants to do dishes after a home-cooked meal? Yuck. Not this Wonder Woman!
4. Those gym dates have only been two in number, so don't think I'm Sydney Bristow or something.

I hope your list of Ups and Downs today was as hard to create as mine was. I really had to stretch to find some Downs.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Roses & Thorns

I love this little tradition that super jane has suggested this week!  We did this in the house I grew up in and we always called it Roses and Thorns.  Since super jane did such a fab job of explaining how it works, I will just get right to it.

Thorns:
1.  I still cannot seem to figure out a schedule for my Superboy.  Poor kid is so tired all the time and he just cannot seem to figure out that sleeping past 4 a.m. would help a lot.  -sigh-
2.  I really dislike poor customer service.  I had a terrible experience with a retailer this morning who really disappointed me.  I also had a poor experience with Superboy's pediatrician's office today.  I called with what I thought would be a simple question, but they failed me once again.  I have been feeling like they do not do a great job with my questions for months now, but I am think I am going to have to bite the bullet and find a new doc for Superboy.  BLEH.  Also, I still have the same question!  Arg!

Roses:
1.  I got to see my maternal grandmother for the second time in just four days!  I had fun hanging out with her and my parents this afternoon.  I am very lucky to still have two grandmothers in my life.
2.  Today is already Tuesday!  I have survived two days of solo parenting again since Superman started traveling for work again.  He was home for two lovely weeks and we miss him very much.  I cannot wait for him to be home again on Thursday.
3.  I finished a cross-stitch project I have been working on for what seems like forever.  I am so happy that it is complete and that I can be proud of my work.  Now I can move on to the next project!
4.  I shared text messages with a great friend today.  She helps me see the sunny side of things and made me smile.

I am happy to report that there were more roses than thorns today.  I call that success!

Monday, April 1, 2013

High/Low

Well, hello there!  I had planned on creating this post tonight after I'd gotten a full day under my belt, but whaddyaknow - our system went down.  So, instead of twiddling my thumbs or checking facebook again or browsing Pinterest, I thought I'd go ahead and post.

There's a little thing we do as a family at the dinner table each night called "High/Low."  I'm not quite sure where we got the idea to do it, but what I do know is that it's an exercise we look forward to as we munch our dinner.  And for those of you with children, it's a fabulous way to get them to open up and talk about their days.  It's pretty simple, although there are a couple of rules.  It goes something like this:

1) Share the top 2 or 3 things that happened to you today (AKA: your highs)
2) Share the lowest 1 or 2 things that happened to you today (AKA: your lows)
3) You CANNOT interrupt while someone is talking.  Everyone gets a turn, so keep your mouth closed until we get to you.

Got it?
Good.
Let's begin.
I'll go first since this was my idea.

Highs:
1)  I purchased gas this morning for $3.34. 
2)  Our system is down.  Work is crazy busy right now, so I'm enjoying the break in action for a moment.

Lows:
1)  I've eaten far too much cake and candy today.  And along those same lines, all of the treadmills were taken when I went to work out on my lunch hour.  So, instead of running, I ended up stationary biking.  Ugh.
2)  Spring Break is over, so our hectic home life schedule starts up again tonight.  While I love the rhythm and predictability of it, it is nice to get a break from it every once in a while. 

So what about you?  I wonder what your high/lows are for today?